3.31.2011

The right place at the right time

“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, doggone it, people like me.”

That mantra was the title of Al Franken’s first book. It became a favorite saying of David Letterman. Al Gore even read it on The Late Show as one of the “Top 10 Rejected Al Gore-Joe Lieberman Campaign Slogans.”

According to a USA Today/Gallup survey released today, that oft-repeated slogan could apply to a woman I admire and respect:

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's favorable rating from Americans is now 66%, up from 61% in July 2010 and just one percentage point below her all-time high from December 1998. She continues to get higher ratings than Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and she scores better with women than men, 72% vs. 59%.”

Hillary has topped Gallup’s end-of-the-year “Most Admired Woman” list 13 years since 1999 and has won that distinction for the last nine consecutive years.

I mention this for two reason:

First, a blogging buddy who keeps abreast of the liberal-progressive blogging world assures me that Hillary supporters are a strong element of the Obama-bashing coming from the hard left. (The left has done its share of Hillary-bashing as well.)

Second, since I supported Hillary for president, did not hesitate to vote for Barack Obama and do not now find myself part of the bashing, I’ve thought a lot about this capable – and popular - woman over the last few days.

We live in a time of amazing communications technology where news and opinion can be flashed around the globe as it happens. The world stage, tumultuous with natural disasters and civil unrest, is at our fingertips. Perhaps never before in the history of the world has reasoned diplomacy been so important.

In her memoir “Living History,” Mrs. Clinton recalls meetings with leaders around the world. With great courage and tact, the former first lady spoke out for women’s and children’s rights in countries where they do not exist.

Many across the U.S. Senate aisle found her likeable and said so. During her presidential campaign she charmed her archrival, Richard Mellon Scaife, into endorsing her. Diplomacy seems to be her long suit.

For these reasons, I have concluded that Hillary is exactly where she needs to be. And, President Obama is pretty damn smart to know it. Reading Obama’s address to the nation on Libya convinces me that this leadership combination is in the right place at the right time.

Carl Bernstein wrote in “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton” (2007):

“Hillary is neither the demon of the right’s perception, nor a feminist saint. Here is a story of strength and vulnerability, a woman’s story. She is an intelligent woman endowed with energy, enthusiasm, humor, tempestuousness, inner strength, spontaneity in private, lethal (almost) powers of retribution, real-life lines that come from deep wounds, and the language skills of a sailor and of a minister, all evidence of her passion—which, deep down, is perhaps her most enduring and even endearing trait.”

God forbid if her legacy includes disrespect for the American president.

Sixty-eight years of life experiences have taught me there are people who love to hate. These people, whether on the left or the right, can, in blogosphere terms, “piss and moan” all they like. I am content that our country is in the very best of hands.

Best to stop all the bitching and make sure it stays that way.

3.26.2011

Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca'

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Despite being caught up in its spell, I wasn’t dreaming. I went again to Manderley, not in Hitchcock’s classic film, but, for the first time, in Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel.

Literature has given us many complex female characters – Blanche DuBois, Elizabeth Bennet, Scarlett O’Hara, Emma Bovary, Milly Theale. The reader is often outside the character, observing, examining, but in “Rebecca,” you are inside and at one with the female narrator.

I cannot give this woman a name, because Dame du Maurier said simply she "could not think of one to give her." She is known to readers (and movie buffs) worldwide only as “the second Mrs. de Winter.”

Movies have never been a substitute for the books on which they are based, but Hitchcock came close. In one very important aspect, he failed. It is only through the words of du Maurier that one learns the narrator’s most fearful antagonist is neither the inescapable presence of Rebecca (the first Mrs. de Winter) nor the demented obsession of the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. What most troubles our narrator, we find, is that she is a martyr to her own inferiority complex.

My Talking Books version is based on a special edition which features a wonderful Author’s Note and the original epilogue to the book.

At the time of Dame du Maurier’s death in 1989 at the age of 82, there were 3 million copies of her "unsurpassed masterpiece" in print, translated into 25 languages.

As she reveals in her “Author’s Note,” Dame du Maurier, upon finishing her novel, cleverly made changes. She added two vital characters. She moved the epilogue, rewritten, to the beginning of the story and rewrote the ending. She changed the master of Manderley’s name from the “too plain” Henry to Maximillian or Maxim. No spoiler to reveal that in the original epilogue Manderley eventually becomes a country club where the morning room is converted to a billiards room and “The Happy Valley” becomes a golf course. Those who have experienced “Rebecca” will know, then, how this must have altered the book’s concluding scene.

Those who have not read it are missing a Gothic mystery and romance which sweeps the reader along like “the salt wind from the sea.”

3.22.2011

Examining Kucinich's claim

In the great Rob Reiner-Aaron Sorkin film, “The American President,” President Andrew Shepherd (played by Michael Douglas) decides to retaliate after Libya bombs a U.S.-manned missile installation in Israel. In a conference room meeting with his White House staff and military leaders to discuss the possible air strike against Libya, the following dialogue occurs:

A. J. MacInerney, Chief of Staff: Sir, it's immediate, it's decisive, it's low-risk and it's a proportional response.

President Shepherd: Someday someone's going to have to explain to me the virtue of a proportional response.

(…)

President Shepherd (after ordering the air strike): What I did tonight was not about political gain.

Leon Kodak, Deputy Chief of Staff: Yes. sir. But it can be, sir. What you did tonight was very presidential.

President Shepherd: Leon, somewhere in Libya right now, a janitor's working the night shift at Libyan Intelligence headquarters. He's going about doing his job, because he has no idea, in about an hour he's going to die in a massive explosion. He's just going about his job, because he has no idea that about an hour ago I gave an order to have him killed. You've just seen me do the least presidential thing I do.

At no point in this scene does the president pick up the phone and consult with a Dennis Kucinich.

Kucinich, Democratic congressman from Ohio, has claimed that President Obama committed an “impeachable offense” by joining allies in air strikes on Libya.

The intent of this post, then, is not to argue the merits of the military action, but to ask whether it is, indeed, constitutional.

First, I am not a fan of the fiery, hard-left political views of Kucinich. Time and again he has voted against Democratic proposals in the U.S. House, then justified his vote on his Web site. He votes “no” because the bills don’t go far enough. Kucinich wants it all, and he wants it now, overlooking the fact that sweeping policy changes often come in increments.

Is Kucinich right that Obama should have gotten Congressional approval before ordering U.S. military strikes on Libya?

In 1986 when Ronald Reagan ordered air strikes on Libya in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin discotheque, he consulted with bipartisan members of Congress, but I can find no record that Congress voted to give him authority to do so.

The Department of Justice has this to say:

“(T)he President has broad constitutional power to use military force. Congress has acknowledged this inherent executive power in both the War Powers Resolution, Pub. L. No. 93-148, 87 Stat. 555 (1973), codified at 50 U.S.C. §§ 1541-1548 (the "WPR"), and in the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 14, 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224 (2001). Further, the President has the constitutional power not only to retaliate against any person, organization, or State suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks on the United States, but also against foreign States suspected of harboring or supporting such organizations. Finally, the President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the States that harbor or support them, whether or not they can be linked to the specific terrorist incidents of September 11.”

Using these criteria, if we are to exclude Ghadafi’s abuse against his own people, then Congress should never have given sanction to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Read the Department of Justice’s report, “The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them” HERE.

How would one interpret the president’s “broad” and “inherent” Constitutional powers in this action?

According to Kucinich, "Such an action - that involves putting America's service men and women into harm's way, whether they're in the Air Force or the Navy - is a grave decision that cannot be made by the president alone."

That is not a true statement according to the powers granted the executive after 9/11.

"In a statement on his Web site Friday, Kucinich made clear he thinks Obama has violated Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress the exclusive power to declare war."

But, Obama has no more declared war on Libya than Reagan did in 1986.

Perhaps I need to do a little more digging – where is constitutional authority Jonathan Turley when I need him?

Or, perhaps this is a matter which should be clarified by both Congress and the courts.

POSTSCRIPT

There's a lot of hellraising about this issue, a squaring off on the left of anti-war advocates and folks like me who believe force is sometimes necessary. There also seems to be a confusion, IMO, in distinguishing retaliatory air strikes and a "declaration of war." This post has been strengthened by readers' comments, which you can access by clicking on the post title above or on "comments" below. Thanks!

3.17.2011

Planet Me

You know that little bos in the upper righthand corner of envelopes which says, “Postal Service requires first-class stamp” or “Place stamp here”? That’s for Fox News viewers. Or, at least the ones who can read.

I’ve been too busy, with no TV, reading straight news articles about the disasters in Japan to pay attention to the vocal yokels on the right. (Vocal Yokels was the name of my first blog.)

But, when a friend emailed me that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity (as well as Rush Limbaugh) are taking this “opportunity” to downplay Japan’s peril and to bash Obama, I thought, “Enough is enough!”

A Google romp through the comments being made by these cretins leads me to ask: why would anyone with a conscience and an IQ above room temperature pay attention to them?

This kind of unconscionable talk in the face of human misery is unacceptable.

I believe I’ve coined a new term for such egocentric people who reside in their own little world: “Planet Me.”

Leslie at Parsley’s Pics features an appropriate quote from John Kenneth Galbraith:

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

I am certain my Republican readers will take umbrage with this statement, but sadly it’s what your Party – and its propaganda arm, Fox News – now represent.

Earth’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is nearing 7 billion. Methink is an illusion.

3.15.2011

Three to get ready

August of 2012 will be here before we know it. That’s when Republicans will convene to select their presidential ticket, so DemWit, from time to time, will be taking a close look at so-called GOP “hopefuls.”

Here’s three to get ready:

TIM PAWLENTY

With little name recognition and fundraising ability, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to be Everyman:

“At a recent Tea Party Patriots rally, he pronounced, ‘The government’s too damn big!’ To an evangelical audience, he declared, ‘The Constitution was designed to protect people of faith from government, not to protect government from people of faith.’ And to Republicans in New Hampshire, he closed with a gentle plea: ‘Please leave with hope and optimism.’”

For more on Pawlenty as Everyman:

“Campaigning as All Things to All Republicans,” Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times, 13 March 2011: LINK

NEWT GINGRICH

With a pretty poor track record on fidelity and like a sobbing Jimmy Swaggart, Newt Gingrich blames his propensity for hanky-panky (read: adultery) on WHAT?

As New York Times columnist Gail Collins reads it, Newt’s tragic flaw is the result of hard work and patriotism. In his own words in a Christian Broadcasting Network interview:

“There’s no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

Read Ms. Collins' amusing suggestions for Newt: “Eye of the Newt”, The New York Times, 11 March 2011: LINK

SARAH PALIN

In their continuing fixation with former Alaskan governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the folks at CNN’s “Political Ticker” didn’t quite get the headline right. (They never do!) The “win” refers to her party's nomination, not the White House, and that has some mainline Republicans scared senseless.

Republican Judd Gregg, former New Hampshire senator and governor, is one.

Gregg warns (the key word in the headline) that Palin’s “base” could coalesce to give her the Republican nomination and warns (there’s that word again) that a run by Palin would “lead to President Barack Obama’s clear re-election.”

Well, duh.

“(Gregg) says the muddled GOP presidential field means it's more likely than ever there won't be a clear consensus candidate before the party's nominating convention in August of 2012. If that happens, says Gregg, Palin and her army of supporters might have the upper hand when it comes to settling on a presidential candidate.”

From “Palin has path to win, Republican warns,” CNN Political Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney, 14 March 2011: LINK

3.13.2011

A simple reminder

Across the political spectrum – from the far left to the far right – there’s a lot of unhappiness in the United States of America over how things are going.

From the depths of tragedy come these simple words of faith from Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan:

“If the nation works together, we will overcome.”

A simple reminder.

3.08.2011

Stop bitching about gas prices!

"We don't want to be totally reactive so that when the price goes up, everybody panics, and when it goes back down, everybody goes back to sleep."

Amen! These wise words from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu came in response to the Obama administration’s mulling over “tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in response to rapidly rising prices due to the turmoil in the Middle East.”

GOP leaders, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (LINK), are brazenly opportunistic and ignorantly oversimplify when they blame the current rise in gasoline prices on President Barack Obama. They are appealing to The Sleeping American – persons who are ignorant of recent history - and to young people who depend on a minimum wage, to old folks getting by on Social Security and to the unemployed who currently have no wages.

Wanna bet the old folks get it?

So, let’s call this a Crash Course for the Unenlightened.

CAUSES OF OIL-PRICE HIKES

First, I don’t drive because of vision problems, but I’ve got enough sense to know the rise in gasoline prices affects all prices and that this is not just a U.S. problem – it will affect economies worldwide. Oil prices are unstable, and there are many causes of hikes, including “sudden, unexpected political volatility,” “excessive speculation in the commodities market” and climate disasters such as Hurricane Katrina (LINK). Persons unwilling to grasp these causes, while bitching about their pocketbooks, can accept the more succinct Republican version: “Obama did it!”

LOOK IN THE MIRROR

Readers know I have always been quick to point out consumer responsibility, whether it’s in an energy crunch or the current sport of corporation-bashing.

The United States holds 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, but uses one-quarter of the world's oil production. Aside from the fact that this makes the Republican cry of “drill, baby, drill” absurd, it also means we are downright greedy.

Americans are no longer willing to make sacrifices when our nation is in trouble – sacrifices like cutting back and planning ahead to reduce personal consumption of energy. Why car pool or use public transportation? Why make one monthly trip for shopping instead of running here and there daily? Why turn down the thermostat and wear a sweater? Why reduce Interstate speed limits?

Our current economic crunch might just be the catalyst to force Americans - finally - to think about their energy consumption and the need for alternative sources of energy. God knows, we’ve had enough time to prepare.

THE TOCSIN

The tocsin came in 1973, then again in the summer of 1979, when 79-cents-a-gallon gasoline soared over the dollar-mark at the pumps. Little did we know. And, little, it seems, do people remember the history of periodic spikes in oil prices.

In 1973, the Arab nations in OPEC – Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and pronounced OH-pec - joined by Syria, Tunisia and Egypt, got ticked off at the United States for providing supplies to Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The Arab nations of OPEC formed a subgroup and retaliated by imposing an oil embargo on the United States and Western Europe.

That should have been the day the United States began a “Manhattan Project” effort to develop alternative energy sources. But as soon as the crises was over, Americans went back to sleep.

We had a second chance for action in 1979 when the deposing of the Shah of Iran created a second energy crisis in one decade.

THE PHALANX

So, we’ve had 38 years to fix the problem and to free ourselves from what President George W. Bush called our addiction to oil. Yet, every attempt by Democrats to introduce sensible energy policies has been met by a phalanx of oil-industry funds and Congressional front men, who, unhappily, convince Republican voters that this is just some anti-American, socialistic, tree-hugging idiocy on the part of their political opponents.

In other words, “Obama did it!”

HEAR ME

I recently read a quote from a battered woman accused of murder in the death of her husband: “If I’d killed him when I met him, I’d be out of prison by now.” There’s a missed-opportunity principle somewhere in that tragic statement which could apply to our dependency on foreign oil.

So, stop your bitching about the high price of gasoline. Stop paying attention to propaganda and to politicians fueled by big-oil money. Start supporting energy policies which will release America from the whims of outside forces.

Or, just blame it on Obama and go back to sleep.

***

I highly recommend:

“Energy: Rising Gas Prices,” THE PROGRESS REPORT, Center for American Progress, 7 March 2011 (LINK).

For historical perspective:

OPEC

THE 1973 OIL CRISIS

THE 1979 ENERGY CRISIS

And ...

Pay close attention to developments in Saudi Arabia, which produces one-fifth of the planet’s oil.

3.04.2011

'Moamar, the Movie'

Casting call! Frodo, Keeper of the Ring, has a movie for you:

There Must Be 50 Ways To Lose Your Lover
Mood: party time!
Topic: "Moamar:The Movie"

It matters not that the guy spells his name with a G, a K, or a Q, especially when he can best be identified by his lookalike cartoon character "Goofy." He proved that beyond all doubt Thursday evening when he sent one of his sons to cajole Anderson Cooper with definitive proof that "al Qaeda was smuggling hallucinogenics into Libya and putting them into the Nescafe of the young people" (or words to that effect).

The discussion took place in front of a truck full of packaged medication (which was probably the same vehicle exposed by Colin Powell to prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq). Goofy's son was there to introduce the capsules into evidence for all the world to see. Unfortunately, the pills turned out to be a mild painkiller, as opposed to something cooked up in the hills of East Tennessee. Rather than producing psychedelic results, this medication warns the patient that residual effects may include only headaches, or constipation.

Perhaps that says much, much more than even the wordy Frodo can proffer.

Frodo ends his commentary this eve with a suggestion for the casting of the movie which is bound to hit the malls of America before this volatile year concludes. Who other better to star in "Moamar, The Movie," than Charlie Sheen? Frodo would watch those Oscars (and that is really news).

***

Please leave comments for Frodo HERE. For more of the Hobbit’s pennings, go HERE.

3.02.2011

CYA quote out-stupids Huckabee

Mike Huckabee: “I’ll tell you what I do know …” And, now, hopefully, everyone in America knows. But, this gets even better.

Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley told CNN’s “Political Ticker” that the former Arkansas governor, presidential hopeful and current Fox News host meant to say Obama grew up in Indonesia, not Kenya.

As the CNN report points out, the Mau Mau uprising Huckabee mentined did not take place in Indonesia.

But, here’s the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance:

Spokesman Gidley went on to say, “The governor would, however, like to know more about where President Obama's liberal policies come from and what else the president plans to do to this country – as do most Americans."

Gidley might just be a little giddy from all the brouhaha and hahas but he has managed with that last quote to out-stupid his boss.

For the record, I got my liberal views growing up in Mississippi.