You're so vain ...

Time for a completely humbling experience! Maybe a little fun, maybe a little learning.

Demwit welcome Malcolm, who blogs at Diversity Ink and at Pop Culture Dish, to The Comments Zone.

Take Malcolm’s “Pop Culture Trivia: One-Hit Wonders” quiz HERE.

TOUGH, but highly entertaining!

Postscript: While you’re visiting Pop Culture Dish, vote for your favorites for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame of 2011.


'Christian nation' blows test

A huge new study has found that I am “relatively rare.”

In the survey, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life posed 32 questions about the Bible, religions and the Constitution to more than 3,400 Americans. Most scored 50 percent or less on the quiz. (I scored 100 percent, putting me in the “relatively rare” category. Phew.)

DemWit readers of duration know I am Christian. As a Christian, I am appalled that people who insist America is a Christian nation have disgraced themselves in this study.

Appalled, but not the least bit surprised. I have long known that the teachings of Jesus Christ get little attention from many who carry the Christian banner.

My guess that atheists and agnostics probably scored highest proved correct as I read the results. Here are some interesting findings:

“It's not evangelicals or Catholics who did best - it's atheists and agnostics.

“It's not Bible-belt Southerners who scored highest - they came at the bottom.

“Those who believe the Bible is the literal word of God did slightly worse than average, while those who say it is not the word of God scored slightly better.

“Barely half of all Catholics know that when they take communion, the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ, according to Catholic doctrine.

“And only about one in three know that a public school teacher is allowed to teach a comparative religion class - although nine out of 10 know that teacher isn't allowed by the Supreme Court to lead a class in prayer.”

Read more about the Pew study and take an abbreviated version of the test HERE.


A song for 'tnlib'

(The Tennessee Stud by Doc Watson)

Back about nineteen and sixty-five,
I  left college very much alive.
I never would have made it through the protests and fibs
If I hadn't been thinking like the Tennessee Lib.

I had some trouble with my country’s war;
One of my brothers was about to spar.
I wrote a letter to my Uncle Sam
In the spirit of the Tennessee Lib, by damn.


The Tennessee Lib is bloggin’ away,
As bright as the sun in the middle of the day.
She has the nerve and she has the glib,
And there never was a wrtier like the Tennessee Lib.

Drifted on down into no man's land,
Worked for civil rights and equality of man.
I rallied the people and got ‘em to the polls
And I didn’t stop ‘til the dream took hold.

Me and the governor we couldn't agree;
We got in a fight over equality.
I stood my ground an' poked him in the rib.
It was all in the spirit of the Tennessee Lib.


The Tennessee Lib is bloggin’ away,
As bright as the sun in the middle of the day.
She has the nerve and she has the glib,
And there never was a writer like the Tennessee Lib.

I walked that day across Selma’s bridge.
Watched what went down at Ruby Ridge.
I learned there was a reason to care.
For some in this country, life just ain’t fair.


The Tennessee Lib is bloggin’ away,
As bright as the sun in the middle of the day.
She has the nerve and she has the glib,
And there never was a writer like the Tennessee Lib.

Petty little people make my temper flare.
It was long ago that I learned to care.
I love this country, and that’s no fib,
And it’s all in the spirit of the Tennessee Lib.


The Tennessee Lib is bloggin’ away,
As bright as the sun in the middle of the day.
She has the nerve and she has the glib,
And there never was a writer like the Tennessee Lib.

I saw Doc Watson sing “The Tennessee Stud” at the Atwood Bluegrass Festival on the banks of the Pearl River in Monticello, Miss. You can watch him perform it on YouTube. 'tnlib' blogs at Parsley's Pics.


America for sale

Republicans believe America is for sale to the highest bidder. Or so it would seem.

CNN’s “Political Ticker” reports:

“The Senate Democratic leadership failed Thursday to muster up enough support for a bill that would have put new restrictions on political television advertising by special interest groups.

“The attempt by Senate Democrats to break the Republican filibuster on the 'DISCLOSE Act' means that organizations and groups running political TV commercials do not have to disclose who is funding the ads.

“Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that such disclosure was not needed. Even if the Senate approved the measure, it likely would not have affected the midterm elections – and it would have only been enforceable in federal races.

“So, how much is being spent by outside groups on TV ads in this election cycle, federal and state combined? Here are the staggering statistics:

“167 different interest groups have spent $140 million so far on political television commercials in the 2010 election cycle. At this point in time in the last midterm election, 2006, less than half that amount was spent on TV ads.

“In 2010, 83 groups have run $54 million in commercials targeting federal races, while 84 organizations have spent $86 million on state contests.

“And expect this number to more than double in the closing weeks.”

And, who profits from this obscenity? Broadcast media, of course. Once trusted to be the watchdogs over such conflicts of interest, the media are now the only big business in America protected by the First Amendment.


Who are the powerful monied interests behind these ads? From the New York Times an exposé of these so-called “grassroots” groups:

“With every election cycle comes a shadow army of benignly titled nonprofit groups like Americans for Job Security, devoted to politically charged ‘issue advocacy,’ much of it negative. But they are now being heard as never before — in this year of midterm discontent, Tea Party ferment and the first test of the Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited, and often anonymous, corporate political spending. Already they have spent more than $100 million — mostly for Republicans and more than twice as much as at this point four years ago.”

Read “Hidden Under Tax-Exempt Cloak, Political Dollars Flow,” Mike McIntire, The New York Times, 23 September 2010: LINK

Has the “government of the people, by the people and for the people” perished from the earth?


Quote of the election cycle

Here’s my favorite quote from the must-read article linked at the top of DemWit’s sidebar:

“A GOP lawmaker involved in putting together the document told CNN Wednesday that House Republicans realize voters are angry with both Democrats and Republicans. The agenda contained in the ‘Pledge to America’ is intended to convince such voters that their concerns are taken seriously by Republicans, who will act differently if returned to power than they did when controlling Congress during parts of the Bush administration, the legislator said.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or throw up!


An important post follows.

Blindsided by the ballot?

On November 2, don’t go into the voting booth blindsided by the measures you are asked to decide on your statewide ballot.

According to Ballotpedia, as of September 20, 151 ballot questions have been certified for statewide general election ballots in 37 states.

To find out questions which will appear on your state’s general election ballot, I recommend you do a Google search. I searched for “South Carolina State Election Commission official Website” and the site is SCvotes.org  The official site should provide you with copies and explanations of the ballot measures.

Pay attention to the measures which appear to have as their purpose the rallying of certain voter groups to the polls.

South Carolinians will vote on four amendments to the state constitution. Amendment 1 appears on the ballot thusly:

“Must Article I of the Constitution of this State, relating to the declaration of rights under the state's constitution, be amended by adding Section 25 so as to provide that hunting and fishing are valuable parts of the state's heritage, important for conservation, and a protected means of managing nonthreatened wildlife; to provide that the citizens of South Carolina shall have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife traditionally pursued, subject to laws and regulations promoting sound wildlife conservation and management as prescribed by the General Assembly; and to specify that this section must not be construed to abrogate any private property rights, existing state laws or regulations, or the state's sovereignty over its natural resources?”

Redneck read: “Ain’t nobody gonna take away our right to hunt and fish.” Some of the so-called "patriot" sites are billing this amendment as "Protect your right to hunt and fish. Vote November 2." On closer scrutiny:

A “Yes” vote will make it a constitutional right for citizens to hunt and fish AND will permit the State to legally provide for proper wildlife management and the protection of private property rights.

You have 40 days to study ballot measures before you vote.


Autumnal equinox

My favorite season begins in the United States with the autumnal equinox at 11:09 EDT tonight.

So many of the things that made fall so special in years gone by have disappeared from my life:

Football. I lost interest in football about the time Archie Manning left Ole Miss to join the New Orleans Saints. Too much hype and too much money involved. Takes the sport out of it.

The Mississippi State Fair. This great delight of my growing-up years marked the very day that it turned cold in Mississippi – a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of Southern summer days.

School days. This was back in the days when children actually started school in the fall. I remember sorting through my newly purchased school supplies – writing tablets, workbooks, poster paints, pencils and book satchel – and counting the days until school began again.

Halloween. My kid brother Isaac and I trick-or-treating over a three-mile radius of home, then divvying up the sackfuls of our favorites candies, cookies and fruits. My own efforts to make this the favorite holiday of my two boys. In the early years in my apartment here, thousands of children came through this complex, and no matter how well-stocked, we always ran out of candy before we ran out of kids. In recent years, trick-or-treaters no longer ring my doorbell – they’re all at the mall or some church-sponsored "fall festival" considered safer than going door-to-door.

The Anderson County Fair. One of the great pleasures of this neighborhood, beginning for me in 1985, was the county fair’s location – right outside my front door. I cannot put into words the excitement in the air during fair week – the sights, the sounds, the smells – and sitting on our front porch each night to enjoy the concerts and fireworks – for free! After three consecutive years of being rained out, the county dropped the fair. Anderson University (formerly Anderson College) has purchased the fairground property, and rumor has it there might be a football stadium in the works. So, the air might once more be filled with fall excitement.

Fall foliage. Oh, how I miss the colors of fall’s “cheerful and changeful page.” The deepest wines, the reds, the flaming oranges and the yellows are in my mind’s eye.

One thing is a constant: walking outside at sunrise to the sound of birdsong, the call of the wild goose and the feel of cool, brisk breezes on my skin. At this autumn moment, nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning!


Zap Fox News!

There’s a campaign afoot that needs to be mentioned by DemWit. A Web site named TurnOffFox.org is asking people to do just that.

First (as in Amendment), I stand beside John Milton, who in his great plea for a free press, Aeropagitica, said, “Let truth and falsehood grapple; whoever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter.”

Milton, however, would never have dreamed of a 24/7 propaganda machine blasting lies and distortions into millions of homes.

Turning off Fox News doesn’t have to be a big-time organized campaign.

Our friend Frodo simply walks up to the TV banks in stores and switches the channels from Fox News to Animal Planet.

He’s not the only one who has encountered TVs set to Fox News in stores, restaurants, bars, waiting rooms and other public places.

No need to tell DemWit readers WHY Fox News is offensive to anyone with half an ounce of common sense. We've followed documented evidence for years.

DemWit suggests that when you encounter this exposure to propaganda in public places – particularly places where you spend your money – ask to see the manager and very politely ask that the TVs be turned off or switched to another channel while you are there. If the manager asks why, politely respond.

If “the smallest and the weakest” of hobbits can stand on tiptoe to change TV channels, can’t you be bold enough to demand it?


A song for Tiny

The Statler Brothers

Saturday morning serials chapters 1 through 15,
Fly paper, penny loafers, Lucky Strike Green,
Flat tops, sock hops, Studebaker, "Pepsi, please."
Ah, do you remember these?

Cigar bands on your hand, your daddy's socks rolled down,
Shticks, snow globes, and aviator caps with flaps that button down,
Movie stars on Dixie Cup tops and knickers to your knees.
Ah, do you remember these?

The Hit Parade, grape Tru-Ade, the Sadie Hawkins Dance,
Pedal pushers, duck-tail hair, and peggin' your pants,
Howdy Doody, Tutti-Frutti, the seam up the back of her hose.
Ah, do you remember those?

James Dean, he was keen, Sunday movies were taboo,
The Senior Prom, Judy's mom, rock 'n' roll was new,
Cracker Jack prize, stars in your eyes, ask daddy for the keys.
Ah, do you remember these?

The boogey man, lemonade stand, and takin' your tonsils out,
Indian burn, and wait your turn, and four foul balls you're out,
Cigarette loads, and secret codes, and savin' Lucky Stars.
Can you remember back that far?

The boat-neck shirts, and fender skirts, and crinoline petticoats,
Mum's the word, and a dirty bird, and a double root beer float,
Moon hubcaps, and loud heel taps, and "he's a real gone cat."
Ah, do you remember that?

Dancin' close, little moron jokes, and cooties in her hair,
Captain Midnight, Ovaltine, and The Whip at the County Fair,
Charles Atlas Course, Roy Roger's horse, and "only The Shadow knows."
Ah, do you remember those?

Gable's charm, froggin' your arm, loud mufflers, pitchin' woo,
Going steady, Veronica and Betty, white bucks, and Blue Suede Shoes,
Knock-Knock jokes - who's there? Dewey! Dewey who?
Do we remember these? Yes we do!
Ah, do we, do we remember these!



My South Carolina senator, Jim DeMint, who himself is just to the right of Attila the Hun, will tell a CNN “State of the Union" audience Sunday that the GOP will die if, well, if it doesn’t think like him.

The GOP is experiencing a rift between members who are wacko and those who know they are wacko.

In an interview with Candy Crowley set to air tomorrow, DeMint, who has ticked off the Republican Party "establishment" for backing Tea Party candidates, laments:

"If we get the majority again, even if it's just in the House, and we don't do what we say, I think the Republican Party is dead,

"The urgency for me here is the Democrat Party - and I know this sounds partisan but - are completely dysfunctional. They're the left of Europe,"

(It’s “Democratic Party,” you twit!).

Apparently afflicted by short-term memory loss, DeMint continues his toxin tocsin:

"The Republicans are the only one (sic) who can carry the banner of what I think millions of Americans are saying - not just Republicans, Independents and Democrats - stop the spending, stop the borrowing, stop the debt, stop the takeovers. This is kind of uniting America."

The senator does know his votes since entering the U.S. Senate are a matter of public record, right?

DeMint had two campaign platforms when he ran against S.C. Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D) for the late Ernest “Fritz” Hollings' seat: he was anti-gay, and he wanted to do away with the IRS and impose a 23 percent national sales tax on all goods and services.

On November 2, I can touch the screen for either DeMint or for Democratic dark horse Alvin Greene, who won the primary despite facing obscenity felony charges for allegedly showing online porn photos to a teenager in a University of South Carolina computer lab.

Greene was indicted on two charges on August 13. Of course, none of this matters come November: Jim DeMint is a shoo-in in this red state.

Woe is me! Woe is S.C. And, woe is the GOP!


Vote Republican!

Vote Republican if …

You have no knowledge of history and suffer from short-term memory loss.

You trust no other source for news but Fox News.

You have never studied the three great religions of the world.

You think the United Nations, The New York Times, the Nobel Peace Prize, fact-checking Web sites and Hollywood are all conspiring against you..

You get your political opinion from unsigned and undocumented forwarded emails.

You believe this country is the sole inheritance of WASPs (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants).

You think George W. Bush is the best president this country has ever had.

You are so confused that you rah-rahed a war which claimed to help Muslims gain freedom - while hating Muslims and believing the entire religion is made up of extremists.

You or someone you know can live without a monthly Social Security check.

You believe that ALL Muslims are terrorists out to destroy America. News flash: according to a Pew Research Center study in October 2009, the world’s Muslim population is 1.57 billion – one in four persons on Earth. If they are all terrorists out to destroy America, this place would be a parking lot – from sea to shining sea!

You were all gung-ho to change the U.S. Constitution so foreign-born Arnold Schwarzenegger could run for president, but are raising hell because you don’t believe Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen.

You were the first in your family to graduate from elementary school.

You’re convinced Democrats got us into this economic mess.

You don’t give a damn that some people are less fortunate than you.

You believe of all persons of all persuasions you are among The Chosen Few.

You think global warming and endangered species are a joke.

You don’t think you can do anything about the way things are.

You don’t understand that all the benefits and services your local, state and federal governments provide you are supported by taxes.

You are willing to make great sacrifices to be sure your kids get an online degree from Beck U.

You describe yourself with the suffix “phobe.”

You don’t mind that your political party has been hijacked by a bunch of far-right looney tunes.

And, finally, vote Republican if …

You can’t decide who would make the best president in 2012, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul, and you really wish Sheriff Joe would run.


A media gone mad

The U.S. media went and did it this time – made complete asses of themselves.

In pursuit of a journalism degree, I wrote a 30-page term paper based on two books: “Creating Reality: How TV News Distorts Events” by David L. Altheide and Edward Jay Epstein’s “News from Nowhere: Television and the News.” (Both books available in paperback on amazon.com.) The authors show how the media can create The Big Story – both books similar in scope to the movie, “Wag the Dog.”

So, this is nothing new, but this time the media might have reached an all-time low. Over the last several weeks we have seen such a story developed by the media into a self-feeding monster.

Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post has written a brilliant and entertaining analysis of how the media made fools of themselves in creating the big story about the Manhattan “mosque” and empowering a Quran-burning nobody.

You won’t be sorry you took the time to read Linkins’ excellent recap of how this all came about, and you will be much wiser to the ways of a press which somewhere along the way has forsaken ethical reporting.

Grab a lovely beverage, head over to The Reading Room, kick your shoes off and enjoy this one! Read time: 10 minutes. LINK


Truer words never written

In nine years on three blogs, I have stated the obvious: we have played right into Osama bin Laden’s plan to destroy America. But, then, I don’t have the name recognition of a Ted Koppel.

DemWit recommends you read the following:

“Nine years after 9/11, let’s stop playing into bin Laden’s hands,” Ted Koppel, The Washington Post, 12 September 2010: LINK


At the top of DemWit’s sidebar, you will find a link to a recent Gallup survey. Here are the headline and the subhead on the article:

“Nine Years After 9/11, Few See Terrorism as Top U.S. Problem”

“One percent see it as a problem today, down from 46 percent in 2001”

Oh, it’s a problem, as Mr. Koppel points out. Only next time it won’t come from fuel-filled airliners piloted by madmen.

And, what do Americans consider our top problems today? Iraq and the economy. The correlation between the two is indisputable.


The loss of solidarity

Do not claim to honor those who died on September 11 if you make this date a pre-election hot potato every two years.

In addition to live coverage of that fateful day, I believe I videotaped every special 9/11 documentary which has appeared on TV. I have viewed these tapes numerous times, and, while I can no longer see the tapes, the images are etched in my psyche.

One image that comes to mind is a Muslim telling of how he was knocked to the ground by a fleeing crowd. He looked up and saw a bearded man wearing a yarmulke bending over him. “Take my hand, brother,” the stranger said. They then ran hand-in-hand for several blocks until separated by the crowd.

The real desecration of this tragic anniversary is the loss of solidarity – at the hands of ideologues – we had with each other and with the world in the days following 9/11.


What will destroy America?

If a book is meaningful I will read it more than once. Every year since it was first published in 1965, I have reread James A. Michener’s historical novel, “The Source.”

Michener was a genius at weaving a tale, and this one is woven around an archaeological dig at Tell Makor. The book is a history of the Jewish people with chapters written around artifacts found at various levels of the Tell. Between chapters, Michener brings the reader to the dig itself, a joint effort led by Jews, Muslims and Christians to uncover biblical history.

All three of the world’s great religions worship the same deity. The message of the book – with Jew and Muslim and Christian at the Tell discussing efforts to coexist in the world - is as fresh today as it was 45 years ago.

Last night I read a guest post on “Diversity Ink” – a post written by my friend and fellow blogger Sue and titled “Insensitivity or Bigotry?”

To be honest, the brouhaha over an Islamic community center, to be situated along with adult bookstores and massage parlors two blocks from the site of the 9/11 tragedy, has worn itself thin with me.

But Sue put a new light on it by focusing on the imam at the center of the controversy. She quotes both Walter Isaacson, a great writer who has written biographies of great Americans, and former President George W. Bush:

Isaacson, founder of the nonpartisan Aspen Institute: "Imam Feisal has participated at the Aspen Institute in Muslim-Christian-Jewish working groups looking at ways to promote greater religious tolerance. He has consistently denounced radical Islam and terrorism and promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam. Some of this work was done under the auspices of his own group, the Cordoba Initiative ... This is why I find it a shame that his good work is being undermined by this inflamed dispute. He is the type of leader we should be celebrating in America - not undermining."

President Bush after 9/11: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." Bush spoke these words at an Islamic center in Washington, D.C. He told the gathering and America, American Muslims "need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect."

After reading Sue’s post, I had an email exchange with a Florida friend about the “preacher” who plans a burning of the Quran on 9/11. If anything will bring this country down, it won’t be a threat from outside extremists, but from fools such as this guy. Imagine, if you will, an American imam planning an event to burn the Holy Bible. Where is the outcry against such insanity?

Fortunately, it has come at last. On Tuesday, “a broad coalition of Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders denounced what they described as a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry across the United States.” (LINK)

Only then, did the NYC imam break his silence in a NYT op-ed piece published last night – “Building on Faith.” Read his words HERE.

TV ALERT: CNN's Soledad O'Brien has an exclusive interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf tonight at 9 ET on "Larry King Live."


This country – my country, your country – is caught in a vortex of ignorance, narrow-mindedness, hatred and bigotry.

Listen to Rudyard Kipling:

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs …” then, and only then, can The United States of America be saved from destruction within.

UPDATE: Imam on "Larry King Live"



We devourers of news and political opinion must seem an oddity to those content to go through life in complacent comfort.

How, I’ve asked myself, can a person ignore critical news developments while reading those blasted syrupy and lengthy forwarded emails? How do people ignore developments in a world their children and grandchildren will inherit?

I ran across this quote which I believe explains the difference in mind-set:

“When you are helpless, ignorance is a comfort.” – “Dark Assassin,” Anne Perry, 2006.

More than one stoic acquaintance has told me, “I can’t do anything about it, so I don’t worry about it.”

Although I laugh and tell these people, “That’s OK, I’ll worry about it for you,” I think this is a copout.

This feeling of helplessness creates a vicious cycle – one which results in everything from political corruption to extremist groups.

In my opinion, the second biggest problem in America today is that uninformed people bother to vote.

The number one problem in America today? Misinformed voters.

This theory will be tested in November.


A song for Frodo

Frank Sinatra

Without a song the day would never end.
Without a song the road would never bend.
When things go wrong a man ain't got a friend
Without a song.

That field of corn would never see a plow.
That field of corn would be deserted now.
A man is born but he's no good no how
Without a song.

I got my trouble and woe but, sure as I know, the Jordan will roll,
And I'll get along as long as a song, strong in my soul.

I'll never know what makes the rain to fall.
I'll never know what makes that grass so tall.
I only know there ain't no love at all
Without a song.

I've-a got my trouble and woe and, sure as I know, the Jordan will roll,
And I'll get along as long as a song, strong in my soul.

I'll-a never know what makes that rain to fall.
I'll never know what makes the grass so tall.
I only know there ain't no love at all
Without a song.


Obama, America will prevail

‘To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.’ ~ Elbert Hubbard


A gentle reader reminded me of a previous DemWit post, which, in light of the reactionary and specious criticism of our president across the political spectrum, needs to be said once more:


Amen, Mr. Schaeffer

It’s serendipity to run across a piece of writing which says exactly what you’d like to say and says it so much better.

Thanks to Frank Schaeffer for his permission to reprint the following in its entirety. If it steps on any toes, sobeit!

Obama Will Triumph — So Will America

By Frank Schaeffer
December 21, 2009

Before he’d served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds - including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right-wing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter - are sticking with our President. Why? - because he is succeeding.

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama’s steady supporters will be proved right. Obama’s critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial integration has any president faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition – from both the right and left.

As the President’s poll numbers have fallen so has his support from some on the left who were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election.

The left’s lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling “prophecy”- snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and then pretend you didn’t have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office - none of which was his fault:

# An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries

# Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral

# The worst economic crisis since the Depression

# America’s standing in the world at the lowest point in history

# A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of prisoners of war

# A health care system in free fall

# An educational system in free fall

# A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)

# An impasse between culture warriors from the right and left

# A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration…

And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President’s desk!

“Help” from the Right?

What did the Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists - that is what the Republicans were reduced to by the time Obama took office - do to “help” our new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed that he wasn’t a real American, didn’t have an American birth certificate, wasn’t born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating “racist”, was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ (!) and was a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted “death panels” to kill the elderly!

They not-so-subtly called for his assassination through the not-so-subtle use of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized “tea parties” to sound off against imagined insults and all government in general and gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry lobbyists and deranged (but well financed) “commentators” from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh.

The utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who was trying to actually do something about the poor, the environment, to diminish the number of abortions through compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! And in Congress the Republican leadership only knew one word: “No!”

In other words the reactionary white, rube, uneducated, crazy American far right,combined with the educated but obtuse neoconservative war mongers, religious right shills for big business, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bug, gun-loving crazies, child-molesting acquiescent “bishops,” frontier loons and evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from succeeding at all costs!

“Help” from the Left?

What did the left do to help their newly elected president? Some of them excoriated the President because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan that he’d inherited from the worst president in modern history!

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that the President’s economic policies had “failed” before the President even instituted them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been fully won within virtually minutes of the President taking office, they’d been “betrayed”! (Never mind that Obama’s vocal support to the gay community is stronger than any other president’s has been. Never mind that he signed a new hate crimes law!)

Those that had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific emotion on election night turned into an angry mob saying how "disappointed" they were that they’d not all immediately been translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House! Where was the “change”? Contrary to their expectations they were still mere mortals!

And the legion of young new supporters was too busy texting to pay attention for longer than a nanosecond … “Governing”?! What the hell does that word, uh, like mean?”

The President’s critics left and right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone reality) thrown in for good measure. Then, of course, there were the white, snide, know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just couldn’t imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren’t as smart as they thought they were and certainly not as smart as their president. He hadn’t consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong!

The Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their idea of reality rather than reality defining their ideas—say, about what is possible in one year in office after the hand that the President had been dealt by fate, or to be exact by the American idiot nation that voted Bush into office… twice!

Meanwhile back in the reality-based community – in just 12 short months - President Obama:

# Continued the draw down of the misbegotten war in Iraq
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices regarding the war in Afghanistan
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Restored America’s image around the globe
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Banned torture of American prisoners
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Stopped the free fall of the American economy
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort to halt global warming
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Stood up for educational reform
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Won a Nobel Peace Prize
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial system of checks and balances
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had failed to even begin
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Responded to hatred from the right and left with measured good humor and patience
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Stopped the free fall of job losses
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and dangerous far right opposition that included the sort of disgusting people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the “blood of tyrants” needing to “water the tree of liberty”…
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

# Showed that he could not only make the tough military choices but explain and defend them brilliantly
(But that wasn’t good enough for his critics)

Other than those “disappointing” accomplishments - IN ONE YEAR - President Obama “failed”! Other than that he didn’t “live up to expectations”!

Who actually has failed ...

... are the Americans who can’t see the beginning of a miracle of national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the smart-ass ideologues of the left and right who began rooting for this President to fail so they could be proved right in their dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers behind our obscenely dumb news cycles that have turned “news” into just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted infantile country.

Here’s the good news: President Obama is succeeding without the help of his lefty “supporters” or hate-filled Republican detractors!

The Future Looks Good

After Obama has served two full terms (and he will), after his wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on all fronts - with a canny and calculating eye to the possible - succeeds (it will), after the economy is booming and new industries are burgeoning (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proved not just wrong but silly: let the record show that not all Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling.

Just because we didn’t get everything we wanted in the first short and fraught year Obama was in office not all of us gave up. Some of us stayed the course. And we will be proved right.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, depending on your point of view) to everyone!

PS. if you agree that Obama is shaping up to be a great president, please pass this on and hang in there! (END)

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of “Patience With God – Faith For People Who Don’t Like Religion (Or Atheism).”

Link to the original post. Frank may be contacted at FrankSchaeffer.com. Feel free to quote this post or Walt Kelly's "Pogo." BJ


Now is the time

Get out of my way! I want to bitch slap SOMEBODY! I recall the line that led so many of us to typing skills: “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”

A good man spoke to Americans – and the world – last night. With great aplomb he delivered an address which must have filled him with mixed emotions. When Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the United States of America, he became commander-in-chief of our military forces and inherited two wars in which they were actively engaged.

Last night he acknowledged the sacrifices of our troops and their loved ones – those returning home and those who will never step upon our shores again. He pledged to honor them.

With more graciousness than I could muster in a lifetime, he paid homage to former President George W. Bush.

He bravely pointed this country toward a new course for this new century – one hindered by a decade of not only a horrific terrorist attack, but of a pre-emptive, unilateral and unnecessary war. In looking to the future – beyond war - he wisely did not bring up mistakes of the past.

He continues to be conciliatory toward the half of those he leads who are determined to destroy his dream – our dream – of a revitalized America.

He spoke with forward vision:

“Ending this war is not only in Iraq's interest; it's in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home.

“We've persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people, a belief that, out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibilities. Now it's time to turn the page.”

Before any of President Obama’s words were made public, the leadership of the Grand Old Party proudly announced its opposition to them.

CNN’s Dana Bash wrote an outstanding lede paragraph in an article about their opposition:

“In twin speeches laced with heavy doses of 'I-told-you-so,' Republican leaders in the House and Senate tried to convince voters Tuesday that America's success in Iraq is not because of President Barack Obama, but in spite of him.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio addressed the Americn Legion convention in Milwaukee. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell spoke in his home state of Kentucky. You may read their criticism of President Obama HERE, but essentially they attributed any "success" in Iraq to former President George W. Bush.

Billy Joel’s words go through the head of this liberal Democrat: “We didn’t start the fire …”

Anyone who kept abreast of events as they unfolded in the spring of 2003 knows how we got into the “long, hard slog” in Iraq. Millions of words have been written about the lies – I’ll never call them “misinformation” – which exacted such a price in blood and treasure.

Have Americans – all Americans – learned a lesson from Iraq?

“Indeed,” our president said, “one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone. We must use all elements of our power - including our diplomacy, our economic strength, and the power of America's example - to secure our interests and stand by our allies. And we must project a vision of the future that is based not just on our fears, but also on our hopes, a vision that recognizes the real dangers that exist around the world, but also the limitless possibility of our time.”

So, now we pray our sacrifices were not in vain – that Iraqis will unite to secure a better country for themselves.

If only that could happen here.