Friday, February 29, 2008

That's What I'm Sayin'

Here's a good column on one of my favorite topics.
When I read it I thought, That's what I'm sayin'.

I've written a few pieces on the power of the Main Stream Media, and the need for blogs to offset some of the influence of these corporate owned publications.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Real Financial Cost of the Iraq War

The real tragedy of the Iraq war is the vast loss of life, limb, home and mind for hundreds of thousands of human beings.

This post, or more accurately the article to which I'm providing a link below, is about the real financial cost, which of course also has tragic consequences for human beings, by virtue of the severe financial repercussions to all aspects of the world economy.

Click here to read an accredited financial expert's view. This person links the mortgage crisis to the war in a way I would not have thought of, because I am not knowledgeable about such things. Bush, on the other hand blames the homeowner for a weak economy, not his Iraq war.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Tit for Tat, More Children at Play in the Campaign.

Not to be outdone by the Republicans who implied recently that Obama's home country was in Africa, McCain's birthplace in the Canal Zone is causing questions about his eligibility to be president.

As The Old New Englander reminded us recently, The Constitution requires, an American president to be native born.

What about territories, and what about being born outside the states with a large expectation of being back in the states in the near future? This must be a common occurrence with children born of military parents.

Talk About Denouncing and Repudiating!

John Hagee has endorsed McCain, hailing his pro-life stance and support of Israel.

Hagee, the Far Right Evangelist minister of a mega church in San Antonio, is one of the guys who champion support of Israel because he believes, or at least claims to believe, that the end times are coming, when there will be a massive return of Jews to Israel, and when Jews will accept Jesus as Lord or be cast into Hell.

Huck's campaign has been focused on getting the support of guys like Hagee. But Hagee is all about power, and he sees that McCain will be the guy running for the power of the presidency by becoming the GOP nominee, which seems assured.

The GOPhers always manage to rally around the person they think can win, no matter how much they disagree with and dislike the person they think can win. That person is not Huck.

This endorsement by a far right type further promises that if McCain should become president his militant stance will perpetuate the trials and tribulations which this country is visiting on all, at home and around the world.

McCain should be challenged to denounce and repudiate Hagee as Obama was challenged to do that regarding Farrakhan. But, unlike the case with Obama, McCain sought out Hagee for his endorsement.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, February 25, 2008

Take a Flying Leap

In Ohio recently Hillary said to the crowd, "I'm not asking you to take a leap of faith on me."

I wouldn't take a leap on her, faith based or otherwise.

As for leaping, Hillary should take a flying one.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

The Naming of the Shrew

Well, we're beginning to see the really nasty side of Hillary, and evidence for why so many people are saying that the Clintons will do anything to get what they want. And it's not just the fact that she put out a photo of Obama in the attire of an elder in an African village, which could be mistaken for the attire of a Middle Eastern Muslim. He donned these clothes during his visit to African countries a couple of years ago. The real nasty part is how she set Obama up with a sucker punch. Click here to see how the Drudge Report got some roiling stories going by how they used the photograph. And click here to see a later today update.

Clearly this was intended to be a one-two punch attack ad, from the start.

First she leads with the left jab, the photo, knowing that it would be seen by some as proof that Obama is really neither an American nor a Christian at heart. Then when Obama retaliates with a pretty good punch about how shameless she is in trying to smear him, she throws the right hook by calling him the shameless one for claiming that the photo was intended to be divisive and a smear.

Too clever by half. Speaking of hooks, give her the hook and get her off the stage. Sometimes an idea can be good, even if Robert Novak believes it to be.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

The Pentagon as The Temple of Doom

I've written here before that I don't expect there will be substantial change in our foreign policy, including what we're doing in Iraq, regardless of which party wins the White House, or who gets control of Congress in the upcoming election.

The reason I think this way is the power of the Pentagon.

James Carroll's column in today's Boston Globe addresses this problem.

That said, I'm disgusted that Ralph Nader's super-ego need for attention might actually get McCain elected president. This man, who redefines Narcissism, mostly draws support from liberal and independent voters, those who would otherwise vote for a Democrat. Even though the Pentagon is likely to continue as The Temple of Doom no matter which party wins, the Republican Party is the more heartless of the two. They are all boot strap and no safety net. Few good Samaritans in that crowd.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Do Figure

This is an old chestnut, but it is applicable to the Labor Department's reporting of statistics regarding today's employment and unemployment rates.

An article which does a pretty comprehensive job looking at this topic from a big picture sense can be found here. It sheds light on the fact that there are statistical indicators available and published, but which the politicians in power downplay, in hopes that you will trust that they are giving you the complete picture, when, in fact, they hope you will not dig further for the truth. Whenever a politician says, "Trust Me", don't.

As a career consultant who, for the last eighteen years, has provided counseling to hundreds people who have tried to replace jobs they lost, I have first hand experience with the difficulties and roadblocks inherent in these transitions.

There are other realities which government statistics, at least those regularly reported, don't cover.

Many job seekers take a job just to get some kind of income stream going again. It might be, and often is, a job at a much lower level in terms of income, skills and job description. I recall a mutual fund money manager taking a job operating a backhoe because he was running out of savings, and his severance pay was long gone. Such people are included in the employment figures, not in the unemployment figures. They are counted as employed however unsatisfactorily.

There are people who simply drop out of the labor market, out of disillusionment or ability to retire early, sometimes for a time and sometimes for good. Once their unemployment insurance runs out and they don't find a job, and/or they stop looking, they disappear from the measurable statistical pool.

There are those who have to drop out due to health issues. There are those who would like and need to work, even after becoming eligible for Social Security(those drawing Social Security, after turning 65 years of age, can earn as much as they can without sacrificing any of their Social Security payments).

There are all kinds of combinations of these scenarios. I'm personally aware of a man, now 70 years old, who has not been able to find a job for which he is best qualified, but which would require him to be on his feet more than he can manage without pain. He suffered a severe back injury. He is now drawing Social Security, and thus ineligible for Disability Insurance.

At the height of his best earning years, when he was a senior executive, he lost half of his assets in a divorce settlement, and the other half was used to pay for college for his four sons. He burned through his remaining savings from the time his back problems got worse and when he became eligible for early Social Security at age 63. Another roadblock to this man's finding even an entry level, desk job, is his resume. When employers find out that he was a senior executive in earlier years they usually pull back from any interest they might have shown.

This is one story. There are thousands similar to it in consequence, though different in combinations of difficulties.

It's important to understand that politicians in power want to make the numbers look as good as they can. Figures don't lie, but do liars figure? Does the sun first appear in the East.

Not Just Basra

Rolling Stone has a piece on the tribal killings in the Baghdad area Dora district. Check it out here.

In an earlier post today I referred to an article about the tribal killings in and around Basra, the second largest city in Iraq.

This is another example of Iraqis do to each other when they are empowered to by our own military. This is about the real consequences of the "surge".

Read it and weep.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

It's Still About Oil. All The Rest Is Subterfuge

If Basra in Iraq is any indication of what Iraqis will do to each other when they are given control over their own territory(read about it here), then we should stop wringing our hands about protecting them with the our military. We are not protecting them from armies of other countries we have been protecting them from themselves.

Clearly they want to fight and will fight each other, at the tribal level, at the religious level, at the territory level, and on any level which they can use as an excuse to fight. It's hatred at its worst, and nothing we can do, or anyone else can do, is going to stop it, now or in the future. It's bound to come. It's a powder keg which was kept safe from blowing up only by the heavy hand of Saddam. We have replaced him as that heavy hand in his demise.

The idea of the surge, we were told, was to give Iraqis the cover they needed from violence to get a so-called unity government up and running.

That not only hasn't happened, but in Basra at least it's blown up into gang warfare of the most violent nature. And today we read that a hail of mortars or rockets has hit the Green Zone again.
Few people still argue against the claim that oil in Iraq was and still is the huge prize for which Cheney/Bush decided to invade the country. Getting Saddam and destroying WMD were the red herrings they used to strike fear in the hearts of their countrymen.

But there is a legitimate need for our military to stay in Iraq for some time to come, and that is the need to protect, not the Iraqis who want to kill each other, but the oil there and the infrastructure to get it out of the ground and ship it to market.

I do not expect that we will withdraw all of our troops anytime soon. Iran is trying to wait us out so they can move into the vacuum that would be Iraq, and control its oil. Iran is second only to Saudi Arabia as having the largest known oil reserves on the planet. Iraq is third in that count.
If Iran were to control both their own reserves and those of Iraq, they would become the new king of the jungle that is the global oil market. Whatever one's politics and disgusts about what's done in our name, there is a real and serious need to keep Iran from becoming that new King. That means military protection for the oil industry in Iraq.

Repeated reports that fourteen hardened military bases are being, or have been, built in that country, plus the existence of the world's largest Embassy, ours in Baghdad, confirm for this writer that these are the makings of the infrastructure essential to protecting Iraq's oil industry.

At least on this score I doubt that we will see much if any difference in policy and behavior toward Iraq after January 9, 2009, regardless of which party wins the White House, and even if the Dems gain a bullet proof Congressional majority.

Since the invasion began Iraq has been a hole in civilization, completely surrounded by bad guys, into which we've poured the blood of untold thousands of human beings, including thousands of Americans, and tried to bury them under billions of dollars.

But it's still the oil people. We need to protect it from those who would loot it and use it against, not just the USA, but against what is the global economy and civilization.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shame, Shame

Talking Points Memo has a piece today about more corruption at Gitmo. You can read it here.

It's about Colonel Morris Davis, former prosecutor at Gitmo, who is blowing the whistle on the Pentagon's torture and tribunal policies.

Last Sunday the NYTimes ran an article by Colonel Davis who resigned when he was thwarted, overruled, in his attempts to stop water boarding there. He was under a gag order since his resignation in 2005, which apparently has expired since he didn't pull any punches when quoted in the Times piece.

It makes me sick to read stuff like this. The real war criminals are the President and Vice President of our country today. Sadly John McCain would now have to join them in the dock, based on his total betrayal of his earlier position against torture. He voted against the bill banning water boarding and today is advising the president to veto that bill.

Shame, shame!!

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Obama As He Speaks

As I write this I am watching Obama making a no note, spontaneous speech in Houston, having been projected the winner of the Wisconsin primary. He is taking on all the flack he is getting from Hillary and the GOPhers, and turning that flack back onto them.

Based on the reactions of those in the hall, he could probably tell them that he would suspend the Constitution if elected and would likely be applauded.

However, you would be in error to equate the congregation in that hall in Houston tonight with the larger audience who is or will be paying attention to the specifics he is articulating, in response to those who have tried to deride him as a cockeyed optimist, a spinner of fairy tales, a snake oil salesman of hope, a messiah who will be abandoned and denied by his disciples three times before the cock crows, to take David Brooks' shameless analogy to an even more shameless implied denouement. You can read his column in the NYTimes here.

Tonight Obama is addressing both his supporters and his detractors, and confirms to me that he's got what it takes to lead; enthusiasm, optimism, energy, drive and eloquence essential to conveying his message. He also is the genuinely earned and honest beneficiary of the mostly unspoken appeal to American hearts and sense of justice. It is not only that he should not be beaten because he is black, but that there is an ironic and poetic justice to his being a credible, legal, morally just candidate for our nation's highest office. Comparisons have been made to the humble beginnings and subsequent spirit of Lincoln, a white man president who prosecuted a devastating war to make it possilble for Obama to prosecute a healing peace, right here in what is still the United States of America.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Get Out The Blue Light, The Man Wants a Blue Suit

So said the haberdasher to his tailor.

Above is a link to one pundit's thoughts on an aspect of today's politics.

I found it to be, while clearly opinionated, a pretty good summary of events and quotes regarding the topic she addresses.

I am the founding member of The Lunchmen, a group of guys who meet for lunch weekly at a local pub and restaurant called The Yardarm, in Orleans, MA on the Outer Cape. (A well deserved plug for John and Jane Sully, my friends and proprietors of the joint.)

Our raison d'etre is to discuss subjects generally proscribed for polite company. But since we're not necessarily always polite we forgive ourselves. The topics include, among others, Religion, Philosophy, Science and Politics, plus anything of a personal nature one is willing to share such as our and our mate's current physical pains and complaints, which are ongoing at our age. In addition, we look forward to a good, hearty laugh, without pure as the driven snow female induced guilt, at a good locker room joke if and when any of us can remember one.

The group, to outsiders, would likely be considered center/left politically. That's a bit ironic since most of us used to consider ourselves at least conservative, with a small "c", if not

Crucial issues change over time, and often so gradually as to escape observation and recognition for a time. In my own family I see evidence that labels like Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal have often survived long after they have ceased to reflect what they used to stand for.

We have three retired ministers with advanced degrees, one English professor, at least two English majors, five who attended Ivy League or Potted Ivy League colleges, one industrial/chemist/ scientist, two industrial company CEO's, one public school educator, both as teacher and superintendent, and one marketing manager for a well known manufacturer of farm equipment. All of us have retired.

A couple of weeks ago some of the group said they would have a problem if voting in the General Election required choosing between Hillary and McCain.

The link shown above contains information that should be important to anyone with such a problem. It clearly shows a bias, but for the most part the events and quotes cited seem to be factual, at least according to what I've observed over the past year.

All but one of our group supports Obama. One, not I, supports Hillary.

It's said that people don't really change. I believe that as much as a I believe that right handers don't change into left handers or vice versa, unless they see a need to become other handed to get something they really want. Then they are likely to change behavior and do what they can to appear to be the opposite of their natural preference and nature.

That's a good thing if one needs to develop a skill with one's opposite hand for shooting as the center on a basketball team, or develops the skill of acting as the good guy or the bad guy to get parts as an actor in movies, plays or television.

This never ending campaign season has been characterized by some of the most egregious shape shifting seen in recent years. None of the candidates on either side is wearing a completely clean skirt when it comes to dis-ingenuousness. But some skirts are dirtier than others.

Romney, as a presidential candidate, decided he could only win if he courted the far right, and spoke out against abortion, gun control, gay rights and extolled all things right winged.

As governor of Mass(I live in Mass, and did when he was governor) his posture, not to be confused with standing upright, but in the sense of posturing, was 180 degrees opposite of his recent ended presidential campaign posturing.

Another example is John McCain. Please click on the link at the top of this post to read what Arianna is huffing about when it comes to John McCain.

At today's Lunchmen gathering there seemed to be general agreement that what John McCain has said publicly over the past few weeks, coupled with reminders that over the past year or so, what he has said has had more to do with where he was standing when he said it than with authentic, personally held principles, has resulted in a loss of respect from those of us who had once admired him as a person.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, February 16, 2008

McCain and Obama

The link shown here is to an op-ed piece in the NYTimes by Gail Collins, which includes an observation that McCain doesn't want to run against Obama, as I have written about recently.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fun with a Commercial

I like AT&T's current TV commercial: More bars in more places.

I'm lovin' it.

McCain wants Hillary

It's becoming clear that McCain is already running a general election campaign.

He's knocking Obama as if Obama has the Dem nomination.

I think there's a hidden agenda behind this tactic.

The GOPhers are licking their chops to take on Hillary because they have such a huge database on her thirty-five years in the public eye, and the only thing they can do against Obama is his lack of experience.

So McCain can't lose by attacking Obama more than Clinton. By doing so he will continue that attack if Obama becomes the Dem nominee, and by doing so he might actually be helping Clinton, whom he would rather go up against.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Politics, Tribal Hatred and Adult Children

When Roger Clemons and Brian McNamee testified yesterday before Congress the real show was the absurd need of the GOPhers to side with Clemons, a Bush family friend.

McNamee is a sleaze of course, and Clemons doth protest too much, but this is supposed to be about getting to the bottom of the steroid thing, not a junior high schoolyard taunting contest.

There was absolutely no need to choose sides, unless of course one viewed the hearings as a forum for political oneupsmanship, tribal hatred or to demonstrate adult child behavior. All politicians in that room were there to put to public scrutiny the criminal behavior of many in baseball. Clemons and McNamee are the current examples of that unlawful behavior.

The irony to me is that the members of Congress who used that forum for political gain are likely just as guilty as Clemons and McNamee when it comes to doing what they believe is necessary to gain the upper hand.

Unfortunately it, like so many events in DC, turned into a Junior High School cafeteria food fight, with the Dems trying to get Clemons into a perjury trap, and the GOPhers trying to defend Bush's friend.

No matter what the voters try to do, those who are elected turn into children sent to do adult's work.

It is positively sickening to watch this stuff.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Great Soup to Nuts Progessive Dinner

April 30, 2008 is the date for the next Souper to Nuts Progressive Dinner.

I was a first timer recently and have to tell you that I have met some wonderful folks as a result of submitting five posts from my blog, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.

We've swapped links and in some cases shared email addresses for sidebar conversations.

I recommend dipping your little finger in the soup. I expect you will enjoy the taste.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, February 11, 2008

Training for the Big Fight

The GOPhers are falling in line, and teaming up to take on Hillary. Right wing evangelicals and numerous Republican politicians have announced support for McCain in the past few days.

George Will said nothing would so unite Republicans as would Hillary being the Dem nominee.
They're spoiling for a fight.

After a Clinton vs McCain campaign, there would be no healing worth talking about, regardless of which one might win. It would be pay back time, big time. The hate runs deep on both sides.

Obama would be more problematical for the GOPher attack machine. Most likely they'd have to focus mostly on his lack of experience and being somewhat untested. But he is popular and not polarizing. In fact he is inclusive in his "Yes We Can" mantra.

The Dems must come to understand, as the Republicans do, that the goal is to win the White House and a bullet proof majority in Congress. Rather than falling in love with one candidate or the other they need to fall in line behind the one who can not only win against McCain, but can relegate the calumny between the House of Bush, McCain now having been adopted into the family, and the House of Clinton, to the history books.

Pass it on.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Go Get 'Em Huck!!

Huckaby smells a rat; something is rotten in Washington State.

The GOPher's machine in that state stopped reporting the results of returns after McCain took a small lead with 87% reporting.

Go get 'em Huck.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Oy Vey and Good Grief!!!

Paul Krugman published a column in today's New York Times that redefines calumny; defamation, distortion, nastiness and any other negative word one can come up with to describe character assassination.

Believe it or not he is tarring Obama with the same brush used to tar Hillary for years.

Normally and generally he specializes in economic issues , but not today. Today he's the William Kristol of the Liberal set, a print version of Rush Limbaugh.

Ironically, today's column by Kristol is a relatively even handed analysis of the Obama/Clinton competition.

In stark contrast to Krugman is Frank Rich's piece in this past Sunday's NYTimes. I'm an Obama supporter, but I was also uncomfortable with Rich's level of discourse this time.

Then there's Stanley Fish who writes about the voluminous responses he's received on the topic of Hillary bashing. Clearly he's an apologist for Clinton, the main point of his thesis today being that Hillary haters have even gone so far as to decry the existence of such calumny, then proceed with their own defamatory remarks.

What's especially troubling about the messages from Krugman and Fish is the implication they provide that Obama is behind this Hillary bashing. The Liberals are getting the Swift Boat thing from each other in an internecine warfare of words.

Finally Roger Cohen, in the same rag today, writes not about Hillary or Obama bashing, but about Obama and Israel, supportive or non-supportive, pro Israel, pro Palestinian, both or neither. This piece seems to acknowledge Obama's need for what is called Realpolitik.

He calls Obama a "strong, but not uncritical" supporter of Israel. Talk about careful wording.
He cites Obama's tempering of a statement about Palestinians being oppressed by later adding words about that oppression being self-inflicted. He cites Obama's letter to the UN calling for denouncing Hamas's rocket attacks, and making a speech before AIPAC awhile back in which he didn't mention the settlements.

Cohen acknowledges the unusual power of Jewish Americans who make up 2% of the population but exhibit far more clout than might be expected from that level of minority. He excuses Obama's courting of the Israel lobby as saying, "That's O.K.. Obama has to play hard ball now".

The Times has endorsed Clinton. In just one issue of that paper two of their columnists support Obama, one supports Hillary, and one seems to like Obama's chances to get the nomination. But that's William Kristol, the mother of all Neo-cons, the wolf in sheep's clothing in his piece today.

The Times has endorsed Clinton. At least their columnists are not marching in lock step.

I'm afraid we ain't seen nothin' yet.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What The Fix!!

I am heartened and encouraged to read today that a respected poll, if there is such a thing, reports that a lot of people think that the best cure for the economy is to get the hell out of Iraq.

I'm often frustrated by how long it takes for the American people to get it. But as one who struggles with many things in life I shouldn't be amazed. Sometimes the struggles consume us so much that we find ourselves up to our ass in alligators and don't have time to drain the swamp.

Finally, after more years campaigning than governing, talking more than doing, pontificating more than connecting, the candidates are having to deal with that world of reality, coming into that world of personal struggles, and having to tell the folks on Main Street what they will do in office.

It's not to be assumed that the folks on Main Street will be consistently swayed by a candidate who promises a quick fix for his or her problems. That would be selling the American electorate woefully short.

What encourages me about today's news, if a poll qualifies as news, is that most people think that getting out of Iraq is what's needed to solve the problems of the economy.

The Washington Monthly

The Washington Monthly

I found this Kevin Drum piece interesting. He speculates that Obama might win the Dem nomination only if the super delegates defect from Clinton, thinking they would do better in an Obama administration.

That is of course pure speculation, and who really knows what the super delegates are likely to do.

It seems that super delegates are current and former politicians, elected officials, senators, representatives, governors, and who knows what else. These are people with government credentials who likely want to stay in government, keep their job or find a new one in a new administration.

They can be motivated by any number of things. Some might be exemplary, as in a desire to continue as a public servant, with a genuine and open agenda. Some might be motivated by a wish, even a need, to keep or find another government job.

Many government jobs have great benefits, as in health care available to them, and not to the rest of us. Also, if I remember correctly, government employees do not contribute to Social Security, and so to the extent that their working lives are in government, they will receive reduced, if any, Social Security monthly payments upon retirement. Another retirement program exists for people in government jobs, and it is the interest of government employees to stay in that program or system in order to maximize their retirement benefits.

Clearly the motivation or agenda of so-called super delegates is different from that of the public electorate, made up of millions of us individuals who, on one part of a day, show up at a voting place, vote for someone they believe in , hope he or she wins, and then leave the voting place to return to the challenges of their day.

What interests me is that the awareness of the existence of super delegates has emerged from the shadows of political ignorance on the part of most of us who naively assumed that the will of the voters would determine the choice of the Dem nominee.

Like so many things in politics, the questions are the same; who knew about this and when did they know it? I don't remember it coming up in 2004. Has it only come up because the voters seem to be split almost evenly?

Are there superdelegates on the GOPher side?

Curious minds want to know.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper