Saluting 2010's' 'Most Admired'

Traditionally, I have closed out each blogging year by saluting the persons Americans most admire.

Gallup has released its 64th annual “Most Admired” lists:


President Barack Obama, the runaway favorite, has topped the list for three consecutive years, as do most sitting presidents, who have been No. 1 for 52 out of 64 years.

Results shown in percentages:

1. Barack Obama 22
2. George W. Bush 5
3. Bill Clinton 4
4. Nelson Mandela 2
5. Bill Gates 2
6. (tie) Pope Benedict XVI 2
6. (tie) Rev. Billy Graham 2
8. (tie) Jimmy Carter 2
8. (tie) Glenn Beck 2
10. The Dalai Lama 1


Hillary Rodham Clinton has won the No. 1 ranking for nine consecutive years and 15 times overall since 1992. The order of the top six women in 2010 is identical to 2009.

1. Hillary Clinton 17
2. Sarah Palin 12
3. Oprah Winfrey 11
4. Michelle Obama 5
5. Condoleezza Rice 2
6. Queen Elizabeth II 2
7. Angelina Jolie 1
8. Margaret Thatcher 1
9. (tie) Aung San Suu Kyi 1
9. (tie) Laura Bush 1
9. (tie) Barbara Bush 1


• The Rev. Billy Graham has made 54 appearances in the top 10, nearly doubling Ronald Reagan’s 31. Jimmy Carter and Pope John Paul II tie for third place with 27 appearances each.

• Queen Elizabeth II holds the record for women with 43 years in the tpp 10. “Winfrey enjoys both high ranking and longevity on the list, ranking second or third each year since 1997 (although never No. 1), and placing in the top 10 every year since 1988.”

• Hillary Clinton “joins Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as first ladies whose strong popularity has extended well beyond her husband's presidency, although, given Clinton's post-White House political career, perhaps for different reasons.”

• First ladies do well on the list, typically appearing in the top three positions at some point during their White House years. First ladies who have achieved the top spot include Clinton, with six No. 1 rankings in Bill Clinton's two terms as president; Nancy Reagan, who achieved it three times in Ronald Reagan's two terms; Barbara Bush, who achieved it twice in her husband's single term; and Rosalynn Carter, who tied for or placed first in three years during her husband's single term.

• No first lady has won the top overall ranking since Laura Bush in 2001.



DemWit will return on 2 January 2011 with a special post by Father Tim Farrell, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Farmington, New Mexico.

Happy New Year!


Santa Claus came early!

At a time when we were all busy with Christmas cards and letters and last-minute shopping, Santa Claus came early for Americans.

What happened in our nation's capitol this last week will have a positive effect on every U.S. citizen.

Apparently some Republican lawmakers decided it didn’t look so good to continue voting “no” on every piece of legislation, and they are to be commended in helping to pass a strong and beneficial Democratic agenda.

Since you might have missed the full impact of the flurry of activity on Capitol Hill – which some have dubbed “a Christmas miracle” - DemWit presents this CNN recap of what was accomplished by a “not-so-lame duck Congress:”


In what President Obama called his “greatest disappointment,” the legislation failed a procedural vote in the Senate. The bill would have offered a path to citizenship to some illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children.


Signed into law Friday, 17 December. The compromise worked out by Obama and Senate Republican leaders extended Bush-era tax cuts to everyone for two more years while also extending unemployment benefits for 13 months and reducing the payroll tax by 2 percentage points for a year, all intended to bolster the slow recovery from economic recession. Here's what's in the bill and what it means for you.


Signed into law Friday, 17 December. The unemployed will get a 13-month extension of the deadline to file for additional unemployment benefits – which go as high as 99 weeks in states hit hardest by job losses. The benefits were part of the brokered tax deal but don't affect everyone: Residents in at least five states won't have access to the same level of unemployment benefits as their peers nationwide because the unemployment rates there are improving. So, according to federal law, the jobless there can't receive checks for as long as those in harder-hit states. Unemployed? Will you benefit?


Passed by Congress on Tuesday, 21 December, sent to Obama to sign. A major food safety bill that passed the House of Representatives and Senate earlier this year before stalling because of a procedural problem won final approval Tuesday and now goes to Obama to be signed into law. The bill, designed to increase government inspections of the food supply in the wake of recent deadly foodborne disease outbreaks, originally passed with wide support in both chambers after originating in the Senate. However, it needed approval again because it violated a constitutional requirement that bills raising revenue be initiated in the House. The Senate passed its version of the Food Safety Modernization Act on Sunday, and the House voted 215-144 for final approval.


Signed into law Wednesday, 22 December. Obama signed a bill repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military. Obama promised to repeal the ban during the 2008 presidential election. However, it will take a series of actions to make the policy end, and no one at the Pentagon seems to know when that actual date might be. Over the next several weeks, military officials need to examine and rewrite a series of policies, regulations and directives related to the current law.


Signed into law Wednesday, 22 December. Obama signed a bill that will maintain most funding levels for the federal government for another 10 weeks, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. Both chambers of Congress agreed on a resolution authorizing government funding through March 4. The previous law funding the government – a so-called continuing resolution – expired at midnight Tuesday.


Passed by Congress on Wednesday, sent to Obama to sign. A compromise bill to provide free medical treatment and compensation to first responders of the September 11, 2001, attack won final approval Wednesday from the House and Senate. The bill has been sent to Obama to be signed into law. And it is one some first responders said they never expected to see enacted – one responder called the passage "bittersweet" and better than any other Christmas gift.


Approved by Congress on Wednesday, 22 December, sent to Obama to sign. The Senate voted Wednesday to approve the new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, was cleared with the help of solid Democratic support as well as the backing of several Republican senators. The treaty would resume inspections of each country's nuclear arsenal while limiting both the United States and Russia to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers. It still needs the Russian parliament's approval. Obama signed the treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April.





A call for civility

To paraphrase Ross on “Friends:” “I was on a break!” (See sidebar at left.)

Dropping back into the blogosphere to call attention to an exceptional discussion going on over at Parsley’s Pics.

Friend Leslie’s post, “How the Far-Left Mirrors the Right,” merits your attention as does the lively discussion in her comments zone.

I am certain DemWit's readers will want to add their two cents HERE.


Bad week for the little guy: a chronology


Wednesday, December 1 (The New York Times 12/1/10): All 42 Republican senators sign a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada threatening to block any legislation until Bush-era tax cuts are extended for all Americans, including the wealthiest. The move came within 24 hours of President Obama’s meeting with senior Republican Congressional leaders, expressing hopes for “a new dialogue.”


Thursday, December 2 (CNN 12/2/10): “The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure 234-188 to allow tax cuts instituted under President George W. Bush to expire this December 31 for Americans' incomes above a quarter-million dollars annually. The tax cuts for incomes below that would continue, and the bill would also maintain the current Alternative Minimum Tax limit for two years. Most Democrats backed the legislation, while Republicans resoundingly opposed it.”


Saturday, December 4 (CNN 12/4/10): “Two Senate procedural votes on Democratic measures to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for people who are not super wealthy failed on Saturday, preventing the measures from moving forward. …. Both votes garnered the support of 53 senators, but the Democrats needed 60 votes to end debate.”


Monday, December 6 (The New York Times 12/6/10): “President Obama announced a tentative deal with Congressional Republicans on Monday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for two years as part of a package that would also keep benefits flowing to the long-term unemployed, cut payroll taxes for all workers for a year and take other steps to bolster the economy.”

“I am not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington.”
- President Barack Obama, 6 December 2010


What the lower- and middle-class workers would get in Obama’s deal: WHITE HOURSE FACT SHEET


Shaw Kenawe at “Progressive Eruptions” brilliantly explains Obama’s strategy and his missteps HERE.


Monday, December 6: The left-wing blogosphere goes ballistic in knee-jerk reaction claiming Obama made a deal with the Devil and calling fellow Democrats and economists who are defending the president’s action “Obama apologists.”


The sticky wicket in the Obama compromise is the estate tax. According to CNN: “The estate tax, which expired this year, is scheduled to be reinstated at a higher rate of 55 percent next year, with an exemption up to $1 million. A bill that passed in the House a year ago set the threshold for the exemption at $3.5 million and the tax rate at 45 percent, while the provision in the tax deal exempts estates up to $5 million and sets a lower rate at 35 percent.”


Tuesday, December 7 (The Associated Press, 12/7/10): "With fellow Democrats balking, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that a compromise with Republicans on tax cuts was necessary to help the economy and protect recession-weary Americans. He passionately defended his record against Democrats who complain he's breaking campaign promises. … He staunchly defended his decision to deal with the GOP in order to extend about-to-expire tax cuts for all Americans.”


Tuesday, December 7 (MSNBC 12/710): Keith Olbermann of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” a leading booster of Obama’s bid for the White House, excoriates the president on tax-cut compromise HERE.


Wednesday, December 8 (The Associated Press 12/8/10): “Bill to award seniors $250 is defeated by Republicans.”


Thursday, December 9 (CNN 12/10/10): “House Democrats voted Thursday against considering the tax package that President Barack Obama negotiated with Republicans, raising questions over the president's influence in his own party. ..."


Thursday, December 9, 2010 (CNN 12/10/10): “... Later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, released the first version of legislation to implement the negotiated deal and said the Senate would vote Monday to open debate on it. The Senate version made public by Reid was largely the same as the deal announced by Obama, but it added extensions of some tax breaks intended to spur green energy investment.”


Thursday, December 9 (CNN 12/10/10) : “A Senate bill to provide medical benefits and compensation for emergency workers who were first on the scene of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks failed to get past a Republican filibuster Thursday."


Friday, December 10 (CNN 12/10/10): Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) spoke out against Obama’s compromise in the Senate chamber for eight hours and 35 minutes – a speech cnn.com subjectively compared with Jimmy Stewart’s in Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” According to Senate rules, the speech was not a filibuster.


Friday, December 10 (The New York Times 12/10/10): President Obama meets with former President Bill Clinton for 90 minutes. In an impromptu news conference with a hastily assembled White House Press Corps, Mr. Clinton praised the president's willingness to compromise as "a principled decision" and defended the deal:

“I have reviewed this agreement that the president reached with the Republican leaders. The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the most Americans.

“In my opinion, this is a good bill, and I hope that my fellow Democrats will support it. We all see this differently. But I really believe this will be a significant net plus for the country.

“There are a lot of fights worth having, but this holds the promise that after the fights are over, we will be able to find principled compromise on those as well. To me, that’s worth doing.”

Read “Bill Clinton Holds Forth on Tax Plan, for Starters,” Michael D. Shear, The New York Times, December 10, 2010.


"I think it is inaccurate to characterize Democrats at large as feeling, quote unquote, betrayed, I think Democrats are looking at this bill and you've already had a whole bunch of them who've said this makes sense, and I think the more they look at it, the more of them are going to say this makes sense."
- President Barack Obama


If nothing is done before December 31, 2010, your taxes will go up. This has been a week of hysteria, hyperbole, homily and harangue across the liberal/progressive blogosphere. Tax cuts for the wealthiest remain, as President Obama so aptly noted, the GOP’s “holy grail.” If you need a touchstone for Democratic philosophy, listen to these words:

“Democratic priorities remain clear: to provide a tax cut for working families, to create jobs and economic growth, to assist millions of our fellow Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and to do this in a fiscally sound way."
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi


The Howard Beale in Olbermann


Remember the meltdown?

I have read the transcripts of Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comments” for 14 months now, because I don’t have TV and cannot view videos online. I read these transcripts, because at some point before I gave up TV I realized that one day this MSNBC commentator might just self-implode much like Peter Finch’s character Howard Beale in “Network.”

I first became aware of Olbermann’s propensity for skewing truth during the 2008 presidential campaign when he was the head cheerleader for candidate Sen. Barack Obama and took every opportunity to vilify my choice, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This was a man who banned from his program his faithful nightly guest, The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, for daring to state the obvious about Obama’s pre-election hubris.

Granted, there is some truth in Mr. Olbermann’s 10-minute program-closing diatribes, but quite often they are over-the-top, overtly emotional  showmanship. You know, kind of like Glenn Beck’s. Mr. Olbermann doesn't want you to know facts so much as he wants you to feel his words right down to your toes. He wants you to get up, open a window and start screamig.

Before the boob tube went blank, I heard Olbermann accuse a sitting president of the United States of America of being a “traitor.” There was a time in the not-too-distant past when that word would have prompted a duel or a hanging.

Even after detecting patterns in Olbermann’s teleprompter shock and awe, I was completely unprepared for, yea, stunned by his total excoriation of the man he so dedicatingly boosted into the Oval Office.

I was not so emotionally fired up, though, to fail to note his failure to cite a few facts.

DemWit is on the record, even back during the presidential campaign, defending Obama against lies and distortions. I have applauded his desire to be – unlike George W. Bush – president of all Americans. Over the last few days I’ve authored posts either attempting to cut through the BS surrounding the tax-cuts issue or defending the president’s unwillingness to let lower- and middle-class Americans become “collateral damage” in Washington warfare.

I am deeply interested in DemWit readers’ opinions - pro and con - on Mr. Olbermann’s latest comment, his words about our president. I am trying to keep my wits about me, and I need your input.

You may view a video of Countdown’s “Special Comment” HERE. The transcript follows:

Special Comment: Obama Turned His Back on His Base

by Keith Olbermann
"Countdown With Keith Olbermann"
MSNBC, 7 December 2010

With the tax-cut deal, the Democrats lost their chance to stop the GOP from taking unfair advantage of the middle class.

OLBERMANN: Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the tax compromise.

To paraphrase Churchill, again, let me begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing: "that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road. We should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of American politics and policy have been deranged, and that the terrible words have, for the time being, been pronounced against this Administration: "thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.

In exchange for selling out a principle campaign pledge, and the people to whom and for whom it was made, in exchange for betraying the truth that the idle and corporate rich of this country have gotten unprecedented and wholly indefensible tax cuts for a decade, in exchange for giving the idle and corporate rich of this country two more years to accumulate still more and more vast piles of personal wealth with which they can buy and sell everybody else -- In exchange for extending what he spent the weeks before the midterms calling tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to people who have proven, without a scintilla of doubt, without even a fig leaf of phony effort to make it look like they would do otherwise, that they will keep the money for themselves -- In exchange for injecting new vigor into the infantile, moronic, disproved-for-a-decade three-card Monte game of an economic theory purveyed by these treacherous and ultimately traitorous Republicans, that tax cuts for the rich will somehow lead to job creation, even though if that had ever been true in the slightest, the economy would not be where it is today -- In exchange for giving tax cuts for the rich which the nation cannot afford, and extending their vintage through the next election and thus promising, at best, a reenactment of this whole sorry, amoral, degrading spectacle during the 2012 presidential campaign, when the sides will be climbing over each other to again extend these cuts -- In exchange for this searing and transcendent capitulation, the President got just thirteen months of extended benefits for those unemployed less than 100 weeks. And he got nothing, absolutely nothing for those unemployed for longer, the 99ers.

This the administration is celebrating, taking the victims of Republican economic policy, taking the living breathing proof that the Bush tax cuts for the rich do not create jobs, and putting economic bull’s-eyes on their backs as of next December. On the one hand, unaffordable tax breaks for the beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts, made ever more permanent as they threaten to suck four trillion dollars out of government revenues in the next decade.

On the other hand, an insufficient dead-end unemployment solution for Americans who would actually work for a living, a solution made ever more temporary. And we are hearing nothing about those 99ers, even though the numbers of them will balloon from two million to four million or more by next December even with this deal, even though just last Thursday, the President's own Council of Economic Advisers reiterated the reality that the easiest way to create jobs and keep jobs is to make sure that the unemployed continue to have money to spend. The unemployed, unlike the rich whom this president has just bowed to, are, in fact, the job creators. They do not have investment portfolios to expand. They do not have vast savings into which to stuff the government checks. They have to spend the money. And the Council reported last week that when someone becomes a 99er, his or her household loses at least one third of its income. And where the 99er was the sole breadwinner, that's four households out of 10, they lose nine-tenths of their income.

The economy is surprisingly simple. If business and the rich won't spend, and the middle class can't spend, the only factor left to keep pushing money into the insatiable maw of capitalism is the government. So, should the government give the money to the rich who keep it, or to the not rich, who spend it? Apparently this President does not know the answer to that question, even though he has his own Council of Economic Advisers.

Mr. President, for these meager crumbs, you have given up costly, insulting, divisive, destructive tax cuts for the rich, and you have given in to Republican blackmail, which will be followed by more Republican blackmail. Of course, it's not just tax cuts for the rich that you've given up. There is also your new temporary payroll tax holiday, establishing a precedent that the way money is pumped into Social Security should be negotiated and traded off, and making it just that much easier to gut Social Security later. And, oh, by the way, in the middle of a crisis over making temporary Republican tax cuts permanent, you give the Republicans another temporary Republican tax cut that they can come back later to blackmail you into making permanent. Well, sir, at least that's the end of it. Except, of course, for the estate tax, what Republicans so happily call "the death tax," which will be reduced from its 2009 levels.


The money given by one dead rich person to some living rich persons will not be taxed up to $5 million. More than $5 million and it's 35 percent, which is less than it was under the tax laws of President Bush's last fiscal year. Sir, you have given undeserved tax breaks, and you have carved them a little more deeply into the stone of law, to rich people, living and dead.

And you want me to tell them which Democrat proposed this estate tax giveaway part?

Blanche Lincoln! Blanche Lincoln, repudiated by nearly half the Arkansans in her own party, and then repudiated by 63 percent of the voters in Arkansas. Mr. President, you're listening to Blanche Lincoln? What? Were Bob Beckel and Pat Caddell unavailable? This president negotiates down from a position of strength better than any politician in our recent history. It is too late now to go back and ask why the President, and why the wobbly Democratic leadership, whiffed on their chance to force John Boehner to put his money where his mouth was. In September, Boehner said if he had no other option, of course he would vote to extend tax breaks only for the middle class.

So, the President and the Democrats gave him another option, naturally.

But didn't extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy became necessary to get Republican support for extending the jobless benefits? Nonsense. Five times in the last two years, the Republicans have gone along with extending those jobless benefits, and they've done it without being bribed with tax cuts for the rich.

Even now, Boehner's September confession, and the GOP's unwillingness to take the blame for killing off jobless benefits offered an alternative blueprint for this President: Let the law expire as scheduled in 24 days. Let all the tax breaks go. And when the Republicans take over the House and try to pass them anew, if they somehow are not stopped in the Senate, veto anything that does not keep tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits as the dog, and perks for the rich as the tail.

The GOP is still terrified of being blamed for cutting off the unemployed. You take that fact and you break them with it. There is only one possible rational explanation for this irrational and childish transaction. There are Republicans and Tea Partiers who are still intent on cutting off their noses to spite their faces, the "Blind Rage Conservatives" for whom any compromise is disaster, just as for this president apparently no compromise is disaster.

Maybe the reason the administration's numbers don't really add up in this deal is that the administration was too busy instead counting votes, and there really are enough on the far right to sink it, and the President winds up having his cake and eating it too. He proposed what he can call a "tax compromise" and then he can have it derailed publicly and embarrassingly by the Republicans. Maybe the political calculus here exceeds both in priority and quality the real calculus. But I deeply doubt it.

Yesterday, I had an exchange with a very senior member of this administration who wanted to sell me on this deal. I pointed out that that was fine, except that, as I phrased it to him, "frankly, the base has just vanished." "Well," he replied, "then they must not have read the details."

There, in a nutshell, is this Administration. They didn't make a bad deal. We just don't understand it. Just as it was our fault, Mr. President, for not understanding your refusal of even the most perfunctory of investigations of rendition or domestic spying or the other crimes of the Bush administration, or why you have now established for those future administrations who want to repeat those crimes, that the punishment for them will be nothing.

Just as it was our fault, Mr. President, for not understanding Afghanistan. Just as we didn't correctly perceive, sir, the necessity for the continuation of Gitmo. Or how we failed to intuit, President Obama, your pre-emptive abandonment of single payer and the public option.

Or how we could not have foreseen your foot-dragging on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Just as we shouldn't have gotten you angry at your news conference today and made all the moderate Democrats wonder why in the hell you get publicly angry so often at the liberals who campaigned for you, and whether you might save just a touch of that sarcasm and that self-martyrdom for the Republicans.

And, of course, Mr. President we totally betrayed your administration by not concluding our prayers every night by saying "thank you for preventing another Great Depression; you are entitled to skate along on your own wonderfulness indefinitely.

And if you get less than you could have on health care reform or taxes, well, that'll be OK; we're happy to pay 10,000 bucks for a $300 car because, hey, it could've been 20,000, right?

And because we only expect you to do one thing correctly during a presidency, and you know you had pretty much cleared that obligation when it proved that you were, indeed, not John McCain." We are very sorry.

In some sense, the senior member's remark about how we "did not read the details" is not utterly absurd. We have enabled this President, and his compromises spinning within compromises. And now there are, finally, those within his own party who have said "enough.”

In the Senate, the Independent, Mr. Sanders has threatened to filibuster this deal. He deserves the support of every American in doing so, as do Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Conyers and the others in the House. It is not disloyalty to the Democratic party to tell a Democratic president he is wrong. It is not disloyalty to tell him he is goddamned wrong. It is not disloyalty for the 99ers and the 99ers-to-be to rally in the streets of Washington. It is not disloyalty to remind the president that he was elected by people to whom he had given a clear outline of what he would do for them, and if he does not steer out of the skid of what he is doing to them, he will not only not be re-elected, he may not even be re-nominated. It is not disloyalty to remind him that we are not bound to an individual.

We are bound to principles. If the individual changes, or fails often and needlessly, then we get a new man. Or woman. None of that is disloyalty. It is self-defense. It is the acknowledgment that, as my hero Thurber wrote, you might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards. That is what the base is saying to this President about his presidency. "Well, then, we must not have read the details."

The Churchill quotation, as opposed to the quotation from that very senior member of your administration, Mr. President, is from October 5th, 1938.

I don't want to make any true comparison to the historical event to which it related. The viewer can go ahead and look it up if they wish. I will confess, I won't fight if anybody wants to draw a comparison between what you've done with our domestic politics of our day to what Neville Chamberlain did with the international politics of his. The rest of what Churchill said, paraphrased, but only slightly paraphrased, bears repeating again. The terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against this administration: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting." And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and political vigor, we arise again and take our stand for what is right.

Good night and good luck.


Mr. Olbermann, it is apparent from your comments that this rage against the president has been building for some time now. Is it fair, sir, that you can change your mind while blasting Barack Obama for changing his?


DemWit welcomes your comments.


Elizabeth Edwards, 1949-2010

Her legacy, in her own words:

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times, and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human.

"But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."


The double fork

On December 7, 1941, Americans woke to “a date which will live in infamy.” This morning many who voted for President Barack Obama would mark today’s date in similar terms.

They need to stop and think.

The president of the United States of America has not been checkmated by a Republican gambit. He has not found himself in a stalemate. He has been caught in a double fork, Loosely interpreted: he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.

And he did it - for lower- and middle-class Americans.

DemWit recommends this New York Times article for a clear understanding of both Obama’s dilemma and his willingness to compromise.

And, if you don’t remember anything else about this whole tax-cuts game, remember these words:

“I am not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington.”
- President Barack Obama, 6 December 2010


Rating the presidents

John Fitzgerald Kennedy remains the U.S. president in the last half century who is perceived to be the best.

USA Today/Gallup has released its annual survey rating the presidents of the last 50 years.

Two interesting changes:

Jimmy Carter has moved down the list, while Bill Clinton has moved up.

George H.W. Bush’s rating fell while his son was in office, but has rebounded.

Here is this year's ranking:

1-John F. Kennedy (D) – 85%
2-Ronald Reagan (R) – 74%
3-Bill Clinton (D) – 69%
4-George H. W. Bush (R) - 64%
5-Gerald Ford (R) - 61%
6- Jimmy Carter (D) – 52%
7-Lyndon Johnson (D) - 49%
8- George W. Bush (R) – 47%
9- Richard M. Nixon (R) – 29%

Perhaps the most interesting position on the list, in my opinion, is that of Lyndon B. Johnson. Although Johnson followed Camelot, he implemented both social and civil rights reforms which are noteworthy. Vietnam was Johnson’s Waterloo. Noted presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin has always insisted Johnson is underrated.

Dubya, I presume, thanks God for Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon. Not that DemWit would ever say, “I told you so.”


Cutting through the tax-cuts BS

Recent polls showed that some 60 percent of Americans deem extension of the Bush-era tax cuts a priority. Why is that? Because they do not know the facts, and they have been scared into thinking their own taxes will go up.

DemWit worked through the night to cut through the tax-cuts BS, and this post is for liberals, progressives and conservatives alike.


Fact 1:

"We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college."
- President Barack Obama, State of the Union message, 27 January 2010

Recalling that moment: Democrats applauded. Republicans sat in silence. Obama turned to the Republicans, smiled and quipped, “I thought I'd get some applause on that one."

Fact: The non-partisan factcheck site Politifact examined Obama’s tax-cut claims and found them to be “true.”

Why is it that the very people who have benefited from these tax cuts don’t seem to have any idea the Obama administration and Democrats extended them?

Fact 2:

The Republican Party wants to extend $700 billion in tax cuts to 3 percent of the wealthiest Americans – those voters George W. Bush called his “base” – while they vote against extending benefits to the unemployed. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is right to call this position “grossly unfair.”


CNN reported this in its main article on House Democrats extending tax cuts for Americans making $250,000 a year or less:

“All 42 Senate Republicans vowed Monday to prevent a final vote on any other legislative business in the lame duck session until Congress has ‘prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.’"

That quote is a lie aimed at scaring Americans, and CNN’s reporters should have countered it with facts.


The CNN article states, “Several economic studies have indicated that the wealthiest people - the top 3 percent who make more than $250,000 per year - are more likely to invest tax cuts in stocks or other assets than to create jobs. And, Democrats point out, many large American corporations are posting record profits without sinking that money into payroll.”


House Minority Leader John Boehner called the House Democratic vote “chicken crap” - and thus inspired this DemWit all-nighter! Boehner is apoplectic because he knows this Democratic vote will benefit all Americans - including the wealthiest 3 percent, who, after all, will get the cuts on their own income up to $250,000. The minority leader’s ticked off because the GOP’s scare tactics and threats to obstruct legislation didn’t phase the Democrats.

Taxes are essential to a strong American government. Count how many times the word appears in the Constitution. Leave it to a Texas Republican – one Rep. Jeb Hensarling – to say, "No taxes on nobody. It may be bad grammar but it's great economics."


In attempted negotiations with Republicans on tax-cut policy, Democrats want:

• Extension of unemployment benefits without having to find offsets to pay for them

• Extension of college tuition tax credits set to expire at the end of the year

• Extension of so-called ‘make work pay’ tax credits which expire December 31

• Tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed workers


Around 1 a.m. ET, I read that President Obama is willing to negotiate – to extend tax cuts for the wealthy in exchange for Republican support for extending unemployment benefits and “a variety of tax breaks for low-wage and middle-income workers.” (LINK)


Mr. President, you have made it clear that you want to work in a nonpartisan way to bring beneficial programs to the American people - only to be vilified by the opposition. You have stuck by your principles despite your own disgruntled base. It would be wise, sir, to be skeptical of 42 Senate Republicans who put their signatures to paper stating they won’t budge on a damn thing until you cave in to greed.

I appreciate that Washington politics is a game of give-and-take, and that’s as it should be. But, there’s nothing riding on what these yokels do, except the economic future of this country.

I want to trust that they know better than I what is best for America, but sometimes I wonder.

Above all else, dear reader, hasn’t it become clear by now which American political party has the well-being of lower- and middle-class Americans at heart?


A Google shocker

Ever Google yourself? A search of my name turned up 406,000 results, which, of course, includes everyone in the world with my last name or either of my initials. Interestingly, the top entry was a post about my fear of flying which appeared in my archived blog, “I See My Dreams.”

Persons with my name include a writer of books on badminton for women and girls, a minister of the Gospel and an Ohio bar and grill owner.

In keeping with DemWit’s mission to chronicle “the absurd” and “the downright mystical,” read HERE to find out what happened to a Florida college student who decided to Google himself.


A cure for losing battles

I am an anomaly in my circle of family and longtime friends and have even met with downright hostility from a couple of cousins when describing my blog as “liberal.”

Blogging is not easy. Some days there is absolutely nothing to inspire the written word; on other days I cannot type fast enough. Some days I will spend hours on end in research to bring to DemWit something of utmost importance only to discover it seems to be important only to me. Other days I’ll whip something out in 10 minutes and inspire a dozen reader comments.

I’ve had bloggers tell me they are discouraged, and I am reminded of a scene in “All the Presidnt’s Men.” In one of their parking-garage meetings, “Deep Throat” tells Bob Woodward, “I was at a party once, and (G. Gordon) Liddy put his hand over a candle, and he kept it there. He kept it right in the flame until his flesh was burned. Somebody said, ‘What's the trick?’ And Liddy said, ‘The trick is not minding.’"

But, sometimes I do mind.

In DemWit’s sidebar I describe myself as “constant learner,” and primarily this blog is a learning experience. I believe a key motivator for all bloggers is the opportunity to share information. A blog is a research and writing laboratory, and readers’ comments contribute greatly to its impact.

I wince sometimes when a comment completely misses a post’s point or it’s apparent the commenter hasn’t bothered to read its content. Losing a few faithful readers who disagreed with an expressed opinion hasn’t been pleasant. I wish I had Truman’s little plaque atop my monitor to remind me that “The buck stops here.”

All in all, I like being here. And, I love it when you join me.

Several weeks ago I began to suffer from the “fighting a losing battle” syndrome. No ideas. No inspiration. No easy solutions. I came online, opened my email inbox and had the following note from my niece Debra:

“‘A blind person asked Swami Vivekanand, ‘Can there be anything worse than losing eyesight?’ He replied, ‘Yes, losing your vision!’ That is what impresses me about you every day: you stay focused on the future. You never lose your vision. You are an inspiration to all who have the pleasure of knowing you. I love you, Deb”

To quote John Wayne, reacting to a standing ovation at the 1979 Academy Awards - his last public appearance: “That’s about the only medicine a fella’d ever really need.”

Debra’s first grandchild, a beautiful little girl named Riley, is eight months old.

Here’s to the future, Riley!