The Koch brothers like Scott Walker. That should tell us something!
        Wisconsin voters who were bitterly opposed to Governor Walker’s denying State employees the right to bargain and slashing other benefits, to his drastic cuts to the state’s public education budget while giving tax breaks to the wealthy, to his opposition to a minimum wage hike, to his voter restriction measures, to his denial of a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, to his defunding of planned parenthood, and his other ultra-conservative policies, forced a recall election.
        But with huge financial backing from the Koch Foundation PAC and the shenanigans of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity (AFP), Walker managed to survive the recall and go on to win reelection, much to the amazement and disgust of many outside observers. What is wrong with the people of Wisconsin?, they wondered. Can’t they see it? Don’t they get it? Obviously they didn’t, even when the Koch-founded-and-funded AFP sent out faulty absentee ballots to Wisconsin’s voters. The ballots indicated the deadline was the August 11, when the election was to be held on August 9!
       And now here he is at it again, embroiled in another heated controversy, as he attempts to cut state funding to the University of Wisconsin, one of the nation’s great state universities. This is the man who recently refused to respond when asked if he believes in evolution.
        Yet Scott Walker is arrogant enough to think he is qualified to be President of the United States. And the Koch brothers like him! That’s understandable, but that the main stream media should be speculating on whether he could be the acceptable compromise GOP candidate is mystifying if not frightening.
        Political Science Professor Jason McDaniel of San Francisco State University did a study recently showing that Walker, if nominated, would be the most conservative candidate in 50 years! He is as conservative in his rhetoric as any other potential right wing nominee, like “Tea Party Ted” Cruz, but what is worse, Walker has actually been there and done that in Wisconsin.
        Surely the Republicans can come up with a more acceptable nominee than Wisconsin’s Scott Walker!
        Or can they?

* * * * * * *


        Let’s see if we can make sense of a complicated issue.
        President Obama has asked Congress to give him authority to take military action against ISIS, with whom we have already been at war for months. It is a carefully drafted resolution that he hopes will be a fair starting point for a thorough discussion and debate by Congress.
        The resolution has received strong reactions from both sides of the aisle. Some Republicans argue that the President already has the power to deploy troops as he sees fit under the War Powers Act. Being more hawkish than the Democrats, they don’t want to limit the President’s authority to use ground troops. At present more than 3,000 American troops are employed in an advisory and supportive capacity, but are not engaged in direct combat.
        The somewhat hazy language of the resolution allows for the use of combat troops for special purposes but not for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” Many Democrats are worried about the meaning of the word “enduring” How long is enduring? They are adamantly opposed to the America’s being drawn into another ground war. Some would much prefer the use of diplomacy over military force.
        So the President is getting it from both sides. But his critics in both parties are missing his main point. He knows he doesn’t need Congress’ permission to defend the United States of America against its enemies. As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces he is doing just that. What he wants is the support of Congress in doing so. As he has stated before, “We are strongest as a nation when the President and congress work together.” I believe most reasonable Americans would like to see the two branches of government present a united front.
        Congress has let themselves off the hook. It’s easy for them to criticize and second guess the President. It’s time for them to step up to the plate and fulfill their own responsibility. They need a good healthy debate on the subject, and every member needs to have the guts to put himself or herself on the line. Yes, there is plenty of disagreement, but let the majority rule. They need to act fast and really try to come up with a workable decision, so that the President and the Congress can present a united front to our nation and to the rest of the world, our enemies as well as our friends.
        Good for President Obama to force the issue!

* * * * * * *


      U. S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch comported herself very well yesterday and today in her appearances before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was articulate, composed, confident, unruffled, gracious, and she is extremely well qualified for the position. The Committee should move quickly to confirm her appointment.
        The Republicans on the committee, however, have been more interested in criticizing outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, whom they accused of being in cahoots with President Obama in ignoring and violating (my words) the Constitution of the United States. They were bent on making sure that Ms. Lynch, if confirmed, would be her own person. She assured them that she would be, but she would not comply with their attempts to get her to criticize the President’s actions regarding immigration.
        Her responses to some of the questions would indicate that she is more conservative than Eric Holder. She is not opposed to capital punishment, for example, but she is opposed to the legalization of marijuana. If confirmed as Attorney General, she said that one of her “key priorities would be to work to strengthen the vital relationships between our courageous law-enforcement personnel and all the communities we serve.” Even the witnesses whom the Republicans called to testify this morning had little if anything to say about the nominee, and one or two of them did not mention her name at all. Instead they followed the party line in criticizing Mr. Holder and the President.
        How refreshing it was for this observer to hear Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island chide his Republican colleagues and their witnesses for their inappropriate tactics in criticizing the outgoing Attorney General, who was not the subject of the hearing and was not there to defend himself. In his straightforward remarks Senator Whitehouse quoted Rule 89 from George Washington’s 101 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation: “Speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust.” Near the end of his remarks the Junior Senator from Rhode Island, violated his own rule, when he defended Mr. Holder by pointing out in some detail what a good job he had done in cleaning up the mess left by his Republican predecessor!
        I was hoping after yesterday’s hearing that the Republicans on the committee would get off their anti-Holder track today and give the nominee more of an opportunity to share her views on the many substantive issues that she will have to confront, and her philosophy and vision of her role as Attorney General of the United States and to talk about her leadership of the Justice Department. That had not happened by the end of the morning session, at which time I had to stop listening.
         Despite all of their political posturing, it is most likely that the Committee will move to confirm Ms. Lynch’s nomination. To my knowledge only Senator Ted Cruz has stated outright that he will not vote for her. One of two other Senators have expressed some concerns, but on the whole the Committee has been most complimentary of her.
        As one Democratic Senator commented, if the Republicans are so concerned about Eric Holder’s leadership of the Justice Department, the best way to solve the problem is to vote immediately to replace him.
        They certainly have the right person to recommend to the Senate.

* * * * * * *

WHAT WOULD ISAIAH SAY? (A Preelection Sermon) 

[This is a shortened and slightly modified version of the sermon I preached yesterday to the Pennswood Village Interdenominational Congregation, in Newtown, Pennsylvania, where I am in my thirteenth year as Minister of Worship.].

From a Bible card published by
the Providence Lithograph Co.
(c. 1904)
        If Isaiah were alive today, I doubt that he would win the most popular preacher award. He would be in too much hot water with those who think the church should keep out of politics.
        Isaiah was not too popular in his day either, for the very same reason. I can imagine the reaction when he attacked King Hezekiah’s foreign policy and denounced the politicians who were advocating an alliance with Egypt. One of the leaders was a foreigner named Shebna, who had risen to a position of power and influence in the court. Isaiah rebuked him publicly for his arrogance and presumptuousness in building an ostentatious tomb for himself.
        This, incidentally, is the only time in the Book of Isaiah that we find the prophet condemning an individual by name, and I’m sure Shebna’s supporters were infuriated by such blatantly partisan politics. Other prophets, like Amos and Jeremiah, did the same thing on occasion, but most of the time the prophets were dealing with issues and policies and general conditions. That was meddlesome enough, and they often paid a severe price for it.
        The setting has changed since Isaiah’s day, of course, but the issue of politics and religion has not. With a mid-term election about to take place, this is a good time to consider again the role of the church in the political process. Those who take the attitude that the twain shall never meet often quote the familiar words of Jesus: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). This is one of the most misunderstood and misused sayings in the entire New Testament. Jesus could not possibly have meant that God’s authority applies only to the church and not to the state. That would contradict everything he taught about God, who is Lord of all life, and about the kingdom of God, which term refers to God’s all encompassing reign and God’s universal realm. To interpret Jesus’ words to mean that there is a dimension of life in which the power of the state is above that of God is not only wrong but blasphemous!
        Nor should this saying be used to defend the notion that Christians should support any government, no matter how unjust, or corrupt, or evil. On the contrary, a Christian’s first allegiance is to God, whose commandments must always take precedence over the edicts of earthly rulers. The temptation has always been not to give God the things that are Caesar’s but to give Caesar the things that are God’s. Caesar too often gets the lion’s share and God the left-overs.
        The Pharisees and the Herodians tried to trap Jesus by asking him whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar. If he said Yes, he would infuriate the Jews, who viewed Roman taxation as an offense to God. But if he said No, his enemies would immediately accuse him of treason against Rome, even though they themselves were opposed to taxes. Does that sound familiar?
        It was a clever trap, but Jesus didn’t fall for it. He was aware of their hypocrisy, and he knew they were putting him to the test. So he asked for a coin and made them tell him whose likeness and inscription were on it. Caesar’s image and title on the coin were the recognized symbol of Rome’s rule and Caesar’s right to collect taxes. So Jesus had forced them to answer their own question.
        Then he silenced them with his powerful charge: Give Caesar his due, therefore, but render to God the worship and obedience which belong to God alone. Thus Jesus acknowledged the legitimacy of civil government within the context of the higher authority of God. In so doing he was taking a stand on a highly controversial political issue, so that his own example serves to contradict those who deny the church’s right to address itself to political issues!
        This text alone would be sufficient to establish the right, indeed the responsibility, of Jesus’ followers to engage in politics, beginning with their responsibility to vote.  In a democracy it is the right and the responsibility of every citizen to vote. And because it is the duty of a Christian to be a good citizen, it is the duty of Christians to vote.
        Some may think that statement is self-evident, but it is not. There are Christians who because of their commitment to the separation of church and state believe that Christians should not vote. And there are people who because of their commitment to a particular losing candidate in the primaries have declared they would not vote in the general election, as a form of protest. And there are people who are too lazy to vote, or who are not interested enough to vote, or who think the midterm elections are not important enough to vote.
        More reprehensibly, there are people who want to vote but will not be able to because of the restrictive voting laws in their states. So do not assume everyone knows the importance of voting or will be able to vote.
        To those people who could but don’t vote it needs to be said that not to vote is to shirk one’s responsibility to come to a decision and to voice one’s opinion in the democratic manner. Not to vote is to leave this responsibility to others. People should never express their disapproval, or anger, or resentment by boycotting the polls. That is irresponsible. It is our Christian duty as well as our civic responsibility to be interested, informed, and involved in the political process. So vote as you please, but vote, please.
        You would have expected me to say that, and Isaiah would certainly agree, if he were living in our times, once he had been introduced to democracy. He would expect us to consider all the issues and to base our decisions on a careful appraisal of the party platforms and the history of their performance, as well as the qualifications of the individual candidates. He would want us as people of faith to express our views without bitterness or rancor, and to be tolerant of those who happen to be on the opposite side of the political fence.
        In that connection, I’m pretty sure Isaiah would say that with regard to presidential elections, the successful candidate, whoever it is, needs and deserves our support and our prayers. All Americans should want their president to succeed for the good of our country and its role in the world. That, unfortunately, has not been the case with our current president, and I have no doubt that Isaiah would have plenty to say about that.
        If such comments are to be expected from a preacher, why are so many people always sounding off about the church’s involvement in politics? The church is people, and if its members are involved in politics, the church is involved. When they vote, they are part of the political process. When they serve as a party workers, or in public office at any level, or on some civic task force or commission, they are engaged in politics. When they take part in a political discussion, or attend a political rally, or sign a petition, or support a candidate financially, or display a sign or a bumper sticker, they are involved and the church is involved in partisan politics.
        Nobody can deny a person’s right to do that sort of thing. So what’s all the fuss about? Obviously the problem is not a church member’s right to engage in partisan politics. The problem is rather the church’s right to address itself to political issues as a corporate entity. Some churches have traditionally claimed the right to influence their members in political elections, even to the extent of urging support of a particular candidate from the pulpit.
        A Pew Research Poll released in September indicated that a growing number of Americans believe churches should express views on political questions of the day. There are more people who feel that way than there those who think churches should stay out of politics! What is even more surprising is that a growing minority of Americans think it would be good thing for churches to endorse particular political candidates!
        At a time when the church has been relegated to the sidelines as an opinion leader with regard to non-religious issues, I see those new survey results as a positive sign. Although I have my own political opinions, I have studiously avoided expressing my purely partisan views from the pulpit. But just as Isaiah did in the case of Shebna, I have never hesitated to address the moral or spiritual implications of any political issue, from Richard Nixon’s lying about Watergate, to Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions, to the Bush administration’s deceptive justification for their preemptive invasion of Iraq, an action I strongly opposed, even before it was taken.
        If Isaiah were alive today he would say that it is my right as a preacher, indeed my responsibility, to present a biblical, theological perspective on the moral, ethical, and spiritual issues of the day in whatever dimension of life I can discern them, including politics. He would probably say especially politics, for politicians draft the laws that define public morality, determine our nation’s priorities, delineate policies to guide our commercial, social, and public life, and enact programs to meet the needs of people and organizations. A preacher can bring the gospel to bear upon the issues, while leaving the technical aspects to the experts. In so doing we preachers face the constant challenge of helping our congregations to distinguish between the things that are Caesar’s and the things that are God’s, and we need their prayers to help us do that faithfully.
        Some political questions are largely programmatic in nature and should be answered on purely pragmatic grounds. Other questions have definite ethical and moral implications which demand the most sensitive theological insight and moral integrity. The issue, therefore, is not whether the church should keep out of politics, but whether the church can be faithful to its calling to speak for God to the issues of our time. After being at it for nearly sixty years I would say that most people feel it’s okay for their preacher to speak out on social or political issues —as long as they agree with him or her! When they don’t agree, it’s meddling!
        It is one thing for a minister to take a stand on an issue. It’s another thing for an entire church, or a denomination, or a council of churches to do so. But if the church of Jesus Christ is going to have any impact on the political, social, and economic structures of our society, it is going to have to bring its corporate witness to bear upon the issues that affect our common life. How should a church do this?
        Of one thing I am sure. You don’t decide moral issues by polling your constituents. Isaiah didn’t study the Gallup Polls before taking his stand. What he stood for was hardly ever the popular point of view. I’m equally sure, however, that he kept himself well informed. He wasn’t speaking out of ignorance. He knew what was going on, as his prophecies clearly indicate. Preachers would do well to follow his example, therefore, if they hope to speak with the same prophetic authority. That requires our best biblical/theological insight and spiritual sensitivity, as well as our practical knowledge of the issues themselves. It calls for responsible dialogue among those who can discern and articulate the underlying values and principles and the ethical implications of particular political issues and those whose expertise is needed to solve the problems that are raised.
        When a denomination or a particular church addresses a controversial issue, it is bound to offend some people, whose partisan views often cloud their moral judgments. Politics has been called the art of compromise, but the line between compromise and corruption is sometimes very thin.
On major issues I find myself having to compromise almost every time I vote. The issues are seldom defined exactly as I would want them to be. There have always been distinctions between the political philosophies of the two major parties. Those distinctions are sharper than ever these days, it seems to me, and because of that it makes it easier for a truly objective person, that is a person who is able to put principle above party loyalty, to make a decision.
        Every major national issue —immigration. gun control, campaign finance reform, the Keystone pipeline, fracking, Ebola, ISIS, abortion, the national infrastructure, climate change, voters’ rights, women’s rights, same sex marriage, unemployment, education, taxes, whatever— is at heart a theological issue. Most of them are stewardship issues. Nobody’s perfect, but it behooves us as Christians, before we go into the polling booth, to ask ourselves which party and which candidates better reflect the teachings of Christ.
        Many of us have been disturbed by the degree of negativity preceding this mid-term election. We need to listen carefully to the candidates’ criticisms of each other in order to assess the validity of their claims. I strongly object when a candidate grossly misrepresents his or her opponent’s point of view. It’s the old “straw man” ploy: deliberately misstate your opponents position and then attack what your opponent never said. Politicians —and theologians— are always doing that to one another.
        One thing is sure: God is on the side of the poor and the oppressed. Isaiah and the other prophets made that abundantly clear! We need to keep that in mind, when we vote. Biblical truth should guide a Christian’s thinking in any and every election. The prophets and Jesus remind us that God is on the side of those who are concerned about the future of this planet and those who live on it, that God is on the side of the peace makers and those who are faithful stewards of God’s earth and of all life.
There are, to be sure, men and women of integrity on both sides of the political aisle. They may agree on some things and disagree on others, and in sorting it all out, we voters, we Christian voters, may well disagree in our assessments. But surely Isaiah and Jesus would expect all of us to vote not for our economic self-interest, but for the candidates we think will move our society towards greater justice and peace, more responsible stewardship of our resources and power, more concern for the poor and the oppressed, and for those who are the victims of hunger, and disease, and homelessness, and any kind of abuse or neglect. 
        We need to pray humbly and earnestly, with an open mind and heart, before we vote, that the Holy Spirit will enable us to choose those whose ideas best reflect what it means to be, and whose character and style of leadership can help us to be, what we claim to be, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

* * * * * * *


        It is incredible to me that this mid-term election could result in a Republican controlled Senate, as well as a Republican controlled House of Representatives. What a disheartening prospect that is, even frightening, when you realize how many Republicans would owe their victories to their States’ voter restriction laws and the Koch brothers’ millions.
Mitt Romney sounding off again. Associated Press photo.
        How could any reasonable person see such an outcome as being good for America? What has “the Party of No” done to deserve anyone’s confidence in their ability to govern? Mitt Romney claims such an outcome would end the gridlock in Washington. He conveniently ignores, as he is wont to do, the fact it is his own party that is responsible for the gridlock!
       It is the Republican controlled Congress that has blocked every constructive piece of legislation that has come before the House. They blocked the American Jobs Act, they have opposed raising the minimum wage, they oppose gun control legislation, they have continually tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have blocked the infrastructure bill, they have rejected immigration reform, they have fought campaign finance reform, they have opposed closing the gender pay gap, they have opposed the President’s economic stimulus plan, and they have been against everything and anything the Obama administration has brought to them.
        Whatever the issue, if the President is for it, they are against it; if he is against it, they are for it, even when it means reversing their previously help positions! They give him no credit for anything —the soaring stock market, the stronger economy, the lower unemployment rate, the high corporate profits—, but if anything bad happens, no matter what it is, they find some way to blame the President. They impugn his motives, misrepresent his words, malign his character, and question his ability to lead while at the same time accusing him of being an “imperial” president. Their blatant inconsistency does not seem to bother them one bit.
        The sad fact is that their negativism has paid off. Tell the same lies often enough and the gullible will start to believe them. They are the reason for the President’s current low approval ratings. They have succeeded in convincing too many people, as Romney is trying to do, that the gridlock in Washington is President Obama’s fault, when it should be obvious to anyone that the Republican controlled Congress is to blame.
        Contrary to what Mitt Romney is saying, should the Republicans succeed in gaining control of the Senate, that will hardly end the gridlock, for the Republicans are themselves far from unified. Two things they all do agree on, however, are their common disdain for Barack Obama and their unrelenting desire for him to fail.
        The pollsters are now telling us that many of the races are too close to call. That is encouraging news for the Democrats, given the earlier projections of a Republican take-over of the Senate. I am disappointed in some of the Democratic candidates in red States, who for fear of the Obama-haters have distanced themselves from the President in order to boost their chances of getting elected. I would admire them more if instead of putting expediency over principle they had remained loyal to their party leader and the values for which he stands. They should have been defending the President and his record all along and countering the lies of his opponents.
         As one who believes in our system of government and sees the value of opposing political parties, I wonder whatever happened to the concept of  “loyal opposition,” and I yearn for the return of civility in political exchange and statesmanship in public discourse. I am embarrassed by the “in your face” style and belligerent attitude of some politicians, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie being a notable object lesson.
         Disagreement is to be expected, but fairness and decency demand that participants represent their own views honestly and their opponents’ views accurately. Too many politicians are always attacking snowmen of their own creation. We must not be misled by such behavior, nor should we put up with the hate mongering of the radical media. Their egregious disrespect for the Office of the President is despicable.
      To that end I hope that the American electorate will surprise the pundits and issue a resounding “No!” to the Party of No on Tuesday, November 4!

* * * * * * *


       Too many American voters have short memories.
       Take the Wisconsin electorate as an example. In April, 2012, more than a million Wisconsinites signed a petition to recall Governor Scott Walker. They were infuriated by the Governor’s attacks on the public service unions, by his administration’s misleading preelection tactics, by his enactment of a restrictive voter ID law and a law requiring women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion, and by his continual misrepresentation of the facts.
       Thanks partly to an inordinate amount of special interest money from out of State, Walker survived the recall election. Perhaps an even more important reason for the failure of the recall was the reluctance of many Wisconsinites to go that route. According to the exit polls the majority of voters were concerned about the divisiveness of the election. Two fair-minded friends of mine whose opinions on the matter I had sought, responded along those lines. Their feeling was that the better solution was to vote the Governor out of office in the next election.
        Well, here we are, less than three weeks away from the next election, and lo and behold, Scott Walker has a good chance of being re-elected. Not only that, there is speculation that he has presidential aspirations! How could so many Wisconsin voters have forgotten their reasons for wanting Scott Walker out of office?
        And how can so many Americans have forgotten who the real culprits are for the failure of Congress to deal with so many of the pressing issues confronting our nation? Who got us into the Iraq war in the first place, and that under false pretenses? Which party wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is now providing health care insurance for millions of Americans who had never before had coverage? Which party is responsible for the repressive voting legislation in so many States?
        How could any independent thinker, one who is concerned about women’s rights, voters’ rights, immigration reform, America’s crumbling infrastructure, campaign finance reform, global warming, gun safety regulations, and so many other neglected issues, possibly want the Republicans to take over the Senate? How soon they forget!
        Back to Wisconsin: what will happen in the forthcoming midterm elections? It will be interesting to see if those who wanted to wait till then to vote the Governor out of office, follow through on their intentions. It is still the same Scott Walker!
        Would that the civic-minded people of Wisconsin would set an example for the whole nation and send a message to the GOP that it is high time they started putting the good of the country above their partisan politics and their irrational hatred of President Obama.
         A Scott Walker defeat will send a clear message to that effect, while proving that Wisconsinites have longer memories than many of their fellow Americans.

* * * * * * *


        No matter what happens, good or bad, the Republicans find some way to fault President Obama. In all but one respect they are consistently inconsistent, the exception being their rigid determination to see him fail. To that end they consistently misrepresent his words, quote him out of context, and impugn his motives, while in so doing they often contradict their own previously held positions.
        This has certainly been true regarding foreign affairs. Instead of cooperating with the President in dealing with the highly complicated and extremely challenging situations that have arisen, including especially the ISIS menace, they second guess and criticize the President's every move, every word, what he says as well as what he doesn't say. They blame him for what is happening in Iraq, conveniently forgetting that it was not Barack Obama who got us involved in Iraq in the first place.
        They jumped all over him two days ago for saying we do not yet have a strategy for dealing with ISIS; that obviously did not mean he and his military advisers have not been seriously weighing their options. It is understandable that they have not yet come up with a way of assuring that the Syrian and the Iraqi governments will be able to assume responsibility for gaining and maintaining security in their respective countries. That has to happen before permanent peace can be established in the region. With Syria engaged in a civil war and Iraq involved in a recent change of government any strategy on our part is highly complex and demands the most careful thought. We have to be prepared, moreover, to bear the consequences of our actions. This is not a time to shoot from the hip, as some hawkish politicians would do without counting the cost.
        This latest outcry is consistent with the havoc they raised about the Adminstration's so-called "failure" to prevent the attacks on our consulate and another compound in Benghazi, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two American contractors were killed. The Congressional critics ignored their own failure to grant the funds requested by the Administration for beefing up the protection of our diplomatic bases around the world. Their Benghazi witch hunt goes on, despite the fact that their own House Intelligence Committee cleared the Administration of any wrongdoing!
        Similar negative attitudes plague the President regarding his position in the on-going conflict between Israel and Hamas. His reasonable attempts to call both sides to account for their aggressive actions have been met with criticism from those who accuse him of being anti-Israel. They ignore his verbal and his demonstrated commitment to the security of the Jewish state, though he rightly deplores its continued practice of building Jewish settlements on Arab territories.
        On the home front Congress has consistently refused to pass desperately needed legislation, yet they blame the President for using his executive authority to do what he can, as he promised to do, if they failed to act. Never mind the fact that he has used that privilege fewer times than did Eisenhower, Nixon, or Reagan.
        They say Obamacare isn’t working, yet they are the ones who are doing everything possible to keep it from working! Witness the Republican governors who are denying their own constituents health care coverage by refusing to accept the Federal funding to which they are entitled! Despite their lack of cooperation, and despite the Congress's' persistent efforts to repeal the law, millions of formerly uninsured Americans now have health care coverage they never had before and the number is growing every day. At some point the critics will realize their opposition is a losing cause. It will be interesting to see how they try to spin their change of heart. They've never let themselves be confused by the facts!
        They fault the President for increasing the deficit, yet the deficit has been reduced by more than 60% (nearly one trillion dollars!) since he has been in office, and the rate of increase in government spending under his administration is the lowest it has been since Harry Truman!
        They claim that the economy is so much worse since he took office, ignoring the fact that corporate profits have never been higher, the stock market keeps setting new records, and the unemployment rate has declined to from 10% to 6.1%. There have been 53 straight months of private sector job growth, during which nearly ten million new private sector jobs have been created!
        It is not the President but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that has refused to pass the American Jobs Act, or a comprehensive immigration reform bill, or meaningful gun safety regulations, or campaign finance reform, or the Paycheck Fairness Act. That last bill would help ensure equal pay for equal work and close the gap that has existed for women in the work place since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. And why has Congress persistently opposed the President’s monumental legislative efforts to deal with America’s crumbling infrastructure, efforts which also would have provided hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of jobs and stimulated more economic growth? All the while they complain that the President is doing nothing to improve the job market!
        Our do-nothing 113th Congress went on vacation this month without having passed the Senates’s bi-partisan Farm Bill, not to mention a budget.
        It is really unfair, however, to put all the blame on Congress. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. . .” Yes, it lies ultimately with us, the electorate. We are the ones who elect our public officials, and when we don’t exercise our right to vote or are not discerning in our choices, when we ignore the facts and fall for the panderers’ political propaganda, when we let partisan loyalties trump our desire to do what is best for our nation and the world, we deserve what we get.
        Many members of this totally ineffective Congress who are running for reelection this year deserve our condemnation not our vote. I hope that the majority of the American electorate will be alert and informed enough to make that distinction in the forthcoming mid-term elections and that more people than ever will be motivated and enabled to exercise their right to vote.    
        Unfortunately many red states with their various restrictive voting measures are doing their best to make it difficult for minorities and poor people to vote. It’s one more example of their consistent inconsistency, viz., loudly professing their love of America while seeking to deny some Americans their civil rights.
        There are many other examples that could be cited. Maybe inconsistency is too polite a term for the behavior of these politicians. Hypocrisy is a better word for it.

* * * * * * *


The Supreme Court of the United States

        There has been so much going on in our nation and the world about which I should like to have been commenting, but I have resisted the urge, having resolved to complete my current series of articles reflecting on the continuing experience of grieving the loss of my wife Margie, who died of leukemia eight months ago today.
        Although I have more to share on that deeply personal subject, I cannot help departing briefly from that resolution in order to comment on today’s decisions by the United States Supreme Court, coming so soon after some of their other disturbing rulings. I used to have such great respect for that august body, that had always symbolized for me the highest principles of impartial justice. But the Court’s actions today reflect once again the political partisanship and ultra-conservatism of the majority of the Justices.
        The Court voted five to four to permit business owners on religious grounds to deny their female employees coverage for birth control, coverage that is included in the Affordable Care Act. It is significant to note that the three female Justices —Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor—  along with Justice Stephen Breyer dissented.
        The ruling evoked strong negative reactions from most women’s groups, who see it as

discriminatory against women. It certainly sets a dangerous precedent that could lead business owners to deny other benefits that offend their religious beliefs. Opinion surveys indicate that most Americans believe that health insurance plans should cover birth control.
        The Court also ruled that non-union state employees should not have to pay any dues to State employee unions. The partial dues paid by non-union employees in the past traditionally have been considered to be their “fair share” of the cost of the benefits they have received from the work of the unions. Labor supporters see this ruling as another example of the growing anti-union attitude of conservatives.
        Right-wing Republicans are glowing about the Court’s decisions, which they see as a blow to Obamacare and to the President’s union support base. I wonder how much their hatred of Barack Obama influences the conservative Republicans on the Supreme Court. It is frightening how many Americans can’t see through the hypocrisy and the inconsistency of the Obama bashers. The President’s approval ratings reflect how many Americans believe the lies being spread about the President by his extremist opponents, who are always quoting him out of context, impugning his intentions, misrepresenting his beliefs, and ignoring the facts. Their actions betray the implicit racism in their hatred.
        Not all Republicans agree with their extremist colleagues. Yet to hold on to their seats they can’t stray too far from the views of their tedcruzian constituents. So they choose their persona to suit the occasion. Progressive thinkers are fearful that a Republican-controlled Senate would be disastrous for our nation. To prevent that from happening Democrats are doing their best to encourage their constituents to vote in the forthcoming mid-term elections, as there is so much at stake. They are trying to raise money from their grass roots constituents to prevent the Koch brothers and their billionaire counterparts from buying the election.
        It’s a tough challenge

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        Here's a weird piece of political irony: Who has emerged as the potential spokesperson for the Republican Party? None other than Republican congressman Paul Ryan!
        We remember him well the from the last Presidential campaign, when he was anything but reasonable. But in recent days he has actually sounded like a moderate, to the extent that he is drawing criticism from some Tea Partyites. Imagine that!
        Recalling Ryan's proposed budget and his outlandish comments about Obamacare, it's not easy to imagine it. But I must say, it's a welcome change ---if it's genuine!
        Let's hope it is.          
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        Republicans are glowing because President Obama’s approval rating has hit a new low.  An AP poll yesterday showed it at 37%.
        There are two principle reasons for that, in my opinion. Part of the disfavor is due to the “buck stops here” syndrome. People are tired of the stalemate in Congress, and even though the fault lies with the House Republicans, the frustration and anger of the general public will eventually land on the chief executive’s desk. It is happening under Barack Obama’s watch, and he can’t escape being the target, albeit it unfairly, of some of the public’s dissatisfaction with our dysfunctional Congress.
        Never mind that it has been the House Republicans who have adamantly refused to support any of the President legislative proposals, no matter how helpful and necessary they might be, and despite their having been approved by the Senate. The Republicans have been “the Party of No” from the start of the Obama presidency, and they have obstinately refused to accept even the main piece of legislation that was enacted into law and upheld by the Supreme Court, viz. the Affordable Health Care Act.
        The second and even more influential factor in the decline of the President’s approval rating is, in my view, the persuasive power of negativism. The effectiveness of negative advertising and political rhetoric cannot be dismissed. The consistent and persistent blame-casting by the Republicans and their hate-filled supporters was bound to have its effect. They are experts at the karlrovian tactic of accusing the President of the very thing of which they themselves are guilty. Their false accusations, misrepresentations and outright lies, all of which can easily be refuted by the facts (see The Grand Old Party Is Anything But Grand), were bound to influence the thinking of some Americans, whose frustration with Washington has trumped their objectivity.
        The opposition to Obamacare is a case in point. Some of the very people who will benefit the most from the new law are being hoodwinked into opposing it! Witness the fact that some of them think the Affordable Care Act is okay, but they are against Obamacare!
        I listened to the debate in the House the night the government was shut down. I heard the arguments from each side. The Republicans were playing the blame game; the Democrats were appealing to reason. I listen to the President's speeches. I know what he stands for. I also listen to the Republicans. What a difference! I am one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have petitioned the news media to call the Republicans to task for their lies, and to stop treating both parties as if they are equally responsible for the fiasco in Washington. The blame for the failure to pass all the legislation on the President's agenda, dealing with jobs, the infrastructure, immigration reform, and everything else, lies with the House Republicans and nowhere else.
        I'm so grateful that we have a President who is intelligent, idealistic, articulate, thoughtful, reasonable, highly principled, and who lives his faith. He has been trying to do what is right for the country ever since he took office. He succeeded where everyone else had failed in getting a health care bill passed. To be sure there are parts of the bill that need tweaking, as is the case with any major legislation, and he has shown his willingness to make those changes. He has tried over and over again to no avail to negotiate with the Republicans, who at the last minute are blaming him for refusing to negotiate when they are trying to hold the country hostage! They act as if they won the last election. Why should the President have to agree to defund the Affordable Health Care Act in order to get them not to shut down the government?
        Meantime, for fear of the Tea Party Speaker Boehner refuses to allow a vote on a clean funding bill, when seventeen Republican members of Congress have indicated they would vote for it! The shut down could end immediately, but he keeps saying there are not enough votes. Why doesn't he allow the House to vote on the bill in order to find out? No, he just keeps blaming the President.
        Shame on them, and shame on everyone who out of hatred for our first black President, agrees with them! And that's putting it mildly!

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       Michele Bachmann commented yesterday that Republicans couldn’t be happier about the Government shut down. “It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it!”
       Republican Congressman Marlin Stutzman of Indiana told The Washington Examiner: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this, and I don’t know what that even is.”
       Another Republican Congressman, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, of  Lubbock, Texas, scolded a National Park Ranger for refusing to allow some World War II veterans to pass beyond the barricade that blocked people from entering the WWII monument in Washington. The National Monuments around the Washington Mall are closed as a result of the government shut down, and she was simply carrying out the orders for which he and his fellow Republicans were responsible!
       Such comments and actions would be ludicrous if they were not so outrageous. The Tea Party fanatics are glowing about their achievement. Some have even commented that the shut down is good for the country! “Think of the money we’re saving!”
        What is especially infuriating is to hear the Republicans blame President Obama for the shut down. There is no way that the President deserves any share of the blame for the current debacle, and many Americans are very upset to hear some “pundits” speak as if both parties are equally to blame. I have signed more than one petition calling upon the network news commentators to stop letting the Republicans off the hook.
        Some G.O.P. leaders are not happy about the way things are going, but because of their fear of the Tea Party, they went along with the government shut down. They’d like to end it, but they don’t know how to do so and save face.
        I wish they’d worry more about saving the country!

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Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas
        The Grand Old Party is anything but grand!  
        The only thing they agree on is their hatred of President Obama. But they don’t agree on how to get rid of Obamacare. The right wing fanatics are willing to shut down the government to accomplish that goal. And their Senate spokesperson, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, has the gall to blame that eventuality on the President for his unwillingness to cave in to their efforts to abolish the health care legislation he fought so hard to enact!
        What do Senators Cruz, Rand Paul, and their ilk care if people who depend on Social Security to survive won’t receive their monthly payments? What do they care if thirty million Americans will not have affordable health insurance? What do they care if millions of  Americans are already enjoying the benefits of the new law? What do they care if the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have both estimated that the Affordable Health Care Act will eventually result in reducing the national deficit? What do they care that the nation resoundingly reelected the President who succeeded in enacting legislation that others had tried and failed to do? What do they care if the Supreme Court upheld the legality of the law, despite the Republicans’ concerted efforts to overturn it? What do they care if their misrepresentations of the Health Care law have been refuted point by point?
        Their more moderate colleagues are equally opposed to Obamacare, but they don’t want to plunge the nation into a disastrous financial crisis in order to repeal it. To be sure, their motives are not entirely altruistic, for they see the adverse political consequences of such a course of action. Despite all the misinformation put forth by the GOP, the public support for the new health program continues to mount, and the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want to see their government shut down. If it happens, they know whom to blame for it!
        As I write this, Senator Cruz is still speaking on the floor of the Senate in his effort to defeat Obamacare. They’re calling it a “faux” filibuster, because it is not technically a filibuster. But the Senator rants on and on, to the consternation even of some of his Republican colleagues. He’s a hero to his ultra-conservative right-wing ideologues, but to his moderate colleagues he’s a fly in the ointment, and to many if not most Americans, who now have seen the benefits of the Affordable Health Act, he is a deceitful demagog whose political motives are as obvious as his false statements.
        Our country needs a united not a divided GOP. But whatever became of the concept of the “loyal opposition”? The total lack of cooperation of the Republicans throughout President Obama’s entire tenure in office has been a huge impediment to legislative progress and is totally reprehensible and unconscionable.
        I hope they pay the price for their behavior in the forthcoming mid-term elections.

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        Republicans are asking people to sign a petition calling for the defunding of Obamacare. Why would anyone in his or her right mind sign such a petition?
        They wouldn’t if they knew the facts. Over a hundred million Americans have already benefited from the new law. On October 1, just two months from now, millions more Americans who are not now covered by health insurance will be able to buy affordable health care insurance, and they cannot be turned down because of previous health issues.
        Republicans in the House of Representatives keep trying without success to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It's the congressional version of the Chinese water torture. The right-wingers are even threatening to shut down the government over the issue.
        Instead they should be working with the Democrats and the Administration to try to fix
whatever may need fixing in the the new law to make it even better. Every piece of legislation of that magnitude is bound to have flaws in it.
        Such a reasonable course of action is the farthest thing from the Republicans' mind, however. Instead, in a last-ditch effort to get rid of Obamacare, they are circulating their totally misleading petition. They know that if they are to succeed in convincing their gullible followers, they will have to act fast, because more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act, and after October 1, when the law really kicks into high gear, it will be too late for them to hoodwink the public any more.
        Some higher income people may have to pay more for health care under the new law, but for far more mid-to-low-income Americans, the cost of heath care will be less, and millions more formerly uninsured persons will now be covered.
        So don’t let you friends be misled by the false propaganda of the Obama haters. Refer them to this link where they can get the true facts: Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.
        I hope this Republican led Congress's opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and to everything and anything President Obama proposes, backfires on them in a big way in the forthcoming mid-term elections. As long as the Republicans are in control of the House, I have little hope of the passage of any serious legislation on jobs, the infrastructure, immigration reform, further gun control measures, climate change, student loans, financial reform, sequestration, or any of the Administration's other efforts to deal with American's problems.

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        In preparing this Fourth of July article I did some on-line research on the history of our use of the words “In God we trust” on our money and stamps. The original motto of the United States was secular: "E Pluribus Unum,” which literally translated is “out of many one," pointing to the fact that we are one country formed from many states.
        In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote what eventually became our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. The final stanza reads:

               "And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'               
                And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
                o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
        In 1864 by an act of Congress the words "In God We Trust" were applied to a newly designed two-cent coin. The motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on the ten-cent coin since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since 1908.
        President Theodore Roosevelt disapproved of using the motto on coins or stamps.  He thought that cheapened the motto.  In 1956 at the height of the cold war, and in declaring its opposition to“atheistic Communism,” Congress passed a joint resolution to replace the original motto with "In God we trust."  The new motto was first used on paper money in 1957.
        The phrase "under God" had been added to the otherwise secular Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. In that same decade  "So help me God" was added as a suffix to the oaths of office for federal justices and judges. The courts basically decided that the motto "In God we Trust" does not endorse religion. They’ve ruled that its use is purely patriotic or ceremonial.
         Do you remember when Madalyn Murray O'Hair successfully challenged compulsory prayer in U.S. public schools?  In 1963, this suit (amalgamated with the similar Abington School District v. Schempp) reached the United States Supreme Court which voted 8-1 in her favor, effectively banning "coercive" public prayer and Bible-reading at public schools in the United States.  The irony is that her son William, on whose behalf she filed her complaint, became a born-again Christian!  Madalyn herself was eventually murdered.
        The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. conducted a national survey which showed that "In God We Trust" was regarded as religious by an overwhelming percentage of U.S. citizens. So they initiated a lawsuit on June 8, 1994, in a Denver, Colorado, District Court to have it removed from U.S. paper currency and coins. They also wanted it to be discontinued as the national motto. Their lawsuit was dismissed by the Court without trial, on the grounds that "In God We Trust" is not a religious phrase!  The Tenth-Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the dismissal.  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review all of these rulings. That should be embarrassing to the justices inasmuch as the motto hangs on the wall at the Supreme Court.
        In 1962 a bill to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the national motto, and the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was passed unanimously by the Senate and by near unanimous vote in the House.  Since then lower courts have decided that pre-game invocations by coaches, officials or students at high school football games were unconstitutional.  However, in 1995 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th circuit in Texas ruled that informal student-initiated, student led prayers at sporting events were constitutional.  Students may voluntarily pray together, provided such prayer is not done with school participation or supervision.
        Earlier the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld a ruling allowing religious songs to be performed at school concerts as long as secular songs are also included. So it’s okay to sing "Silent Night," if it’s followed by by something like  “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas," or “Frosty the Snowman," or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
        So my question for this Independence Day is not about our being one nation, but about our being one nation UNDER GOD, as we profess to be in our Pledge of Allegiance.  On June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill adding those two words to the Pledge of  Allegiance. But on June 26, 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of an atheistic father, Dr. Newdow, who objected to his daughter’s being taught the pledge in school. The court found that the words “under God” were an unconstitutional endorsement of monotheism.
        The opposition to the court’s ruling was immediate and vehement.  The public was outraged.  The polls showed that 90% of Americans disagreed with the ruling.  The very next day after the ruling the US Senate voted unanimously in favor of the pledge as it stood.  The vote in the House was 413 to 3, with 11 abstentions.
        Attorneys General from all 50 states filed papers asking the Supreme Court to review the decision.  They finally agreed to do so, and on June 14, 2004, the Court unanimously rejected Newdow’s claim  —because he didn’t have custody of his daughter!  Thus the Court sidestepped the question of the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance!
        In August of 2005 the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that teacher-led recitations of the Pledge did not violate the First Amendment.  The plaintiff, Edward Myers, did not appeal. And that’s where the matter presently stands.

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       On Tuesday the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote declared Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, thus paving the away for red states to pass laws restricting the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities. The court taketh away.
       The next day the Court, again by a 5-4 vote, declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, which decision in effect guarantees same sex couples the same rights under the law that heterosexual couples enjoy. The court giveth.
       In refusing for procedural reasons to rule on an appeal against California's Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage, the Supreme Court Court, once again by a 5-4 vote but with a different alignment of justices, in effect paved the way for California to become the thirteenth state to allow same sex marriage. The court giveth a little more.
        So now we await the impact of these decisions. Will Congress act to pass new legislation to restore the Federal government's role in protecting the rights of all citizens to vote? Will more states
pass laws to legalize same sex marriages?
        We'll see.

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      How can any fair-minded person not be concerned if not outraged by this morning's action of the Supreme Court in throwing out the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?  By a vote of 5 to 4 the conservative justices on the court, despite their rhetoric, showed their total insensitivity to and lack of concern for the African Ameraicns and other minorities who will be adversely affected by their action.
        I hope the justices are listening to the reactions of those for whom their ruling is a serious set-back to the equal voting rights they struggled so long to attain.  The fact that voting rights activists are so outspokenly opposed to their ruling should tell them something!
        It is one more glaring example of the fact that racism is still alive and well in America. That Justice Scalia should defend the decision to eliminate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act by referring to it as "the perpetuation of a racial entitlement" is utterly astonishing.  
        We who were infuriated by the egregious voter suppression efforts of so many Republican-controlled state legislatures in the last election have every right to be terribly concerned about the next election, when those states will have free reign to pass any legislation they have a mind to. State voting laws will still be subject to review by the Justice Department, but only after the fact, when the damage has already been done.
        Given the experience of recent elections, the constitutional rights of millions of Americans will be violated, unless we the people do something about it. We must let our voices be heard. One way to do that is to sign the petition that is already being circulated by Credo. Click here to read about it and to become a citizen sponsor of a constitutional amendment to restore the protective provisions of Sec. 4. 
        To read more about today's Supreme Court action, click on the following links: NY Times; Daily Beast; Huffington Post.
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        For Republicans across the board to blame the President for the flight delays resulting from the forced layoff of flight controllers at several airport hubs is the height of hypocrisy.
        The layoffs are the result of the sequester, which in turn is the result of the refusal of the Republican controlled Congress to compromise on budget cuts.
        President Obama had warned Congress and the nation of the dire consequences of the House’s failure to act and specified the severity of the cuts that would result from sequestration.  When he described the airport delays and long lines that would occur, he was accused by the Republicans of using scare tactics. 
        Now those same voices are screaming about the delays and blaming the President for effects he predicted and for which they themselves were responsible!
Rep. Sen. Mitch McConnell
        To quote Yogi Berra, it’s “deja vu all over again” for Mitch McConnell and the other finger pointing Republican Senators, who also blamed the President for their own failure to pass gun legislation. Now McConnell, for example, is saying, "As a result of the administration's poor planning and, I would argue, political motives, thousands of people were stuck on tarmacs."
        I have a hard time listening to any of them without shouting at the television! They and their Fox news friends misquoted and misrepresented the President throughout the presidential campaign and they’re still at it. They have never accepted the fact that Barack Obama was reelected by a decisive margin. Republican right-wing ideologies were rejected by the majority of the American people.
        Since then the GOP admittedly has been in disarray, but that’s no excuse for their hypocrisy!

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        Score one round for the good guys today, when the Senate rejected by a 58-39 vote a GOP measure that would have given people with concealed weapons the right to carry their firearms into other states with similar gun laws.
        I don’t think I’m alone in the opinion that any Senator or Congressperson who opposes meaningful gun legislation, including especially universal background checks for gun purchasers, a ban on the ownership of military-type assault weapons by private citizens, and the criminalizing of gun trafficking of all types, does not deserve to be reelected to public office.
        So I appeal to all you reasonable folks to pay attention to how your elected representatives are voting on this issue and make them pay for their caving in to the NRA and their “Red Neck” supporters, whose unwarranted fears for their Second Amendment rights have blinded them to the problem of gun violence in America.

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       The Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were downright mean to their former colleague Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearing yesterday. Why? Because he is President Obama’s nominee to succeed Leon Panetta as Secretary of  Defense! In attacking Hagel they were attacking the President.
       Senator John McCain, for whose presidential bid in 2000 Hagel had served as National co-chairman, was particularly hard on the nominee, though the two men were fellow Vietnam war veterans and had been close friends. But with friends like John McCain who needs enemies?

        McCain’s not so hidden agenda throughout his questioning was to justify the war in Iraq. At one point he tried to pin down Hagel regarding his opposition to the troop surge, which in 2007 then  Senator Hagel had called the “most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.” “Were you right?” asked McCain. “Were you correct in your assessment?”

        Hagel offered to explain why he had made the comment when he did. McCain interrupted,“I want to know if you were right or wrong! That’s a direct question, I expect a direct answer.” Hagel’s persistent refusal to fall into the “Yes” or “No” trap drew this terse comment from his questioner: “Let the record show that you refused to answer that question. Now please go ahead.”
        Senator Hagel had been a harsh critic of the war in Iraq, as was then Senator Barack Obama. But the nominee did not want to go on record now as opposing the troop surge that the President had  authorized. That remark, he said, was in the context of his over-all opposition to the war.
        Some questions cannot be answered with a simple Yes or No. It’s most annoying when someone demands an either/or response to a question that requires a complex answer. Senator McCain’s question was one of those. Senator Hagel’s reply could have been “Yes, and no!” That would have forced McCain to ask him how it could be both, thus calling for an explanation and legitimizing Hagel’s right to respond the way he did, instead of appearing to dodge the question.
        Chuck Hagel may not have acquitted himself in that hearing well enough to suit some people, but
in regard to the war in Iraq, it is Senator Hagel, like the man who has nominated him for Secretary of State, who was and is on the right side of history, not John McCain.

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Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly - AP photo
        I watched some of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on gun violence yesterday, including the moving testimony by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She was granted the opportunity to address the Committee at the very start of the hearing, before the swearing in of the five witnesses who had been invited to testify. In case you missed it, click HERE. Gabby and her astronaut husband Mark Kelly, both of whom are gun owners, stressed the urgent need for Congress to act to curb gun violence in America.
        Having already stated my views on this subject (see my post of January 12), I simply want to share a few impressions of the hearing. Committee Chair Patrick Leahy's rational and bipartisan opening statement was followed by ranking Republican Senator Charles Grassley's opening remarks. He started off mildly enough, but then launched into a harsh criticism of President Obama, which in my view was totally uncalled for and hardly the way to begin a reasonable discussion of such an important issue. Whether he was throwing sops to the Tea Party or stating his own position, his castigation of the President was entirely inappropriate. But that's the kind of political posturing we have come to expect from Republican leaders these days.

Swearing in the witnesses - L to R: Mark Kelly, David Kopel,
James Johnson, Gayle Trotter, Wayne LaPierre (AP photo) 

        The Committee had selected five witnesses to present their various points of view. After listening to each one and to the responses of the Committee members, my long-standing impression that Democrats are so much more reasonable than Republicans was reconfirmed. The arguments put forth by NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre, which I've heard before, were misleading and his answers evasive. He wants people to be able to protect themselves against the police and the National Guard! Senator Dick Durbin very effectively rebuffed LaPierre's denial that background checks and enforced gun registration would be any hindrance to criminals.
        I was shocked by Denver University law professor David Kopel's testimony. He opposes gun registration and advocates arming school teachers! How can any intelligent person believe that the solution to gun violence is more guns? The NRA loves that idea, of course, so their corporate sponsors, the gun manufacturers, can sell more guns!
        Attorney Gayle Trotter, speaking for the Independent Women's Forum, an ultra-conservative, anti-Obama research and educational organization, was just as upsetting to me. She argued for women to have assault weapons at home to protect themselves and their children against intruders.
        Balancing the testimonies of these pro-gun advocates were the reasonable testimony of Captain Mark Kelly and the impressively fact-based presentation of Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson, who pointed out that those involved in law enforcement are overwhelmingly in favor of strict gun legislation.
       The question is: Will common sense prevail? The extreme attitudes voiced by the pro-gun advocates and some of the comments by the Republican Senators, make me less optimistic about the passage of comprehensive bipartisan gun legislation. Public opinion will force Congress to do something, but it remains to be seen if there are enough level-headed Republicans who will join with the majority of Democrats in both Houses of Congress to enact a really meaningful and far-reaching gun reform bill.
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        Kudos to Senator John Kerry for his masterful opening statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, and for the way he responded to questioning. His statesmanlike bearing and his obvious grasp of the broad-reaching and strategic leadership role of the United States in world affairs and in the community of nations, reflected his long years of experience as a member and as chair of that powerful and extremely important committee.
        Senator Kerry tactfully resisted the attempts of some committee members to create any separation between his views and those of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, who had given one of the three very strong introductory endorsements, the other two coming from his newly elected Senatorial colleague from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, and from his long-time Republican friend and colleague, Senator John McCain. Senator Kerry also made it very clear that he will advance the President’s foreign policy, which he skillfully defended against the insinuating questions of some of the Republican committee members.  
        President Obama’s nomination of John Kerry should have no difficulty winning the approval of the Senate. He will make an excellent Secretary of State.
        So much for kudos. Now for the cat-calls, which today go to Senate Majority leader Harry Reid for caving in to Senator Mitch McConnell and the Republicans on filibuster reform. He had repeatedly declared that there would be no “handshake deal” on filibuster reform, but that’s what the two of them did, and in so doing Senator Reid sold out the American people who were counting on him to keep his promise to end the egregious misuse of the filibuster by Senate Republicans.
Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell  (AP photo)
        The mild reforms they agreed to do nothing to end the use of the “silent” filibuster, which has enabled Republican Senators to oppose a bill without ever showing up in person to defend their position before the Senate in full view of the American people,  and the over-use of the  super-majority rule, which requires a 60-vote majority to pass bills that should be decided by a majority vote. The use of these two legislative tactics by the Republicans has stymied the current  Senate, and as a consequence in 2012 they passed the fewest number of bills in modern history.
        Cat-calls to the entire Senate for not listening to the American people, the majority of whom have indicated their disgust with the gridlock in both Houses of Congress. And loudest cat-calls to all those Senators who voted for the watered down Reid/McConnell compromise instead of insisting on real filibuster reform.
        They had their chance to do something right for America and they blew it!

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Sec. Hillary Clinton - csmonitor.com

        After listening to Hillary Clinton’s testimony yesterday before committees of both Houses of Congress and her exchanges with her Republican critics, I was more impressed than ever with the intelligent and capable leadership of our soon-to-depart Secretary of State.
       Mrs. Clinton  made it quite clear that the Republican controlled House of Representatives must bear their share of the blame for any failure to protect our overseas diplomats, by refusing to provide the funding needed.
      The questioners made fools of themselves by their unwarranted
accusations, and I was left with the impression that it is Congress, not the State Department, who should be held accountable for their total lack of support. They ought to be answering questions rather than asking them. The arrogance of Rand Paul was appalling. From now on that word should be spelled with a “u”!
        The Republicans’ witch hunting betrayed their obvious political agenda, which was to damage the high reputation of the person who could well be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016.
        Despite their attacks, Secretary Clinton won the day. She was the “adult in the room.”

* * * * * * *


        After listening to Senator Mitch McConnell’s and other Republicans’ reactions to President Obama’s inaugural address yesterday, I can’t believe they’re talking about the same address I heard.
        Worst of all was tonight’s angry diatribe against the President by Wayne LaPierre, executive director of the National Rifle Association.  His false accusations and misrepresentations were typical of the kind of fear mongering we have come to expect from the NRA, 74% of whose members disagree with their leadership’s opposition to sensible gun legislation.
        Not all Republicans were disparaging of the President’s speech. David Brooks in his op ed column in the New York Times this morning called it one of the best of the past half century. Too bad the GOP politicians have to take their cue from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Wayne LaPierre instead of David Brooks.
        I thought President Obama’s speech was masterful. He covered all the bases, as he challenged us to work together to make the American dream possible for all people. In my view his speech was a beautiful blend of idealism and realism, appealing to our higher instincts while acknowledging the challenging practicalities. I heartily agree with his commitment to issues of social justice, equal opportunity, the need to address the impact of global warming, and his desire to end our years of involvement in wars and to find ways to resolve our differences with other nations peacefully, while maintaining our support for the cause of democracy.
       Having listened to and having read his address carefully, I can find nothing in it that should upset any fair-minded person. One has to read into the President’s words one’s own political agenda to condemn the address as vociferously as his Republican opponents are doing. Is the way they are misrepresenting his words and impugning his intentions an ominous indication that they still haven’t learned their lesson from the recent election and that the same spirit of opposition and obstruction prevails?
        We’ll soon find out, as the Senate addresses the issue of reforming the rules concerning filibustering.

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

* * * * * * *


       The NRA’s response to the Newtown massacre is infuriating to me, but to be expected. Their solution to the widespread gun violence in America is more guns! Why should anyone be surprised by the number of gun-related killings in the United States, where there are almost as many guns as people?
        I’ve never owned a gun, but I grew up handling guns. From the age of seven till I was twenty-three I wore a uniform most of the time. Like most other young boys I enjoyed shooting at tin cans with a bee-bee gun, and I liked shooting targets at amusement parks.
        I spent eleven years at McDonogh, a military school near Pikesville, Maryland. At Princeton University I joined the ROTC unit, but later enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to a V-12 unit. Following midshipmen’s school I eventually served aboard the USS Chandeleur (AV-10). As Disbursing Officer and later Supply Officer I was issued a 45-caliber automatic pistol, which I wore whenever I was transporting funds ashore, accompanied by two well-armed seamen. I was once actually wounded slightly by one of my fellow officers in an accidental shooting that occurred in the armory of our ship, of all places! But that’s another story.
James Yeager
        I share this bit of my background as a preface to what I have to say about the present situation in America, where gun violence has become a way of life and gun ownership is viewed as a sacred right. Gun owners bristle at the very mention of the term “gun control.” Witness the wild rantings of James Yeager, who declared, "I'm not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I'm going to start killing people!" If you can stand his foul language, check out his YouTube video.

Joe Biden and the Task /Force
         Something must be done to stop the violence that has become endemic in our society. While we await the report of the special task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden, some see any limitation on their right to own however many weapons and whatever kinds of weapons they want as a violation of their rights under the Second Amendment.
        I have a different perspective on this highly complex issue. There are three problems relating to gun legislation that nobody seems to want to deal with. One relates to the 2008 landmark decision of the Supreme Court in the District of Columbia v. Heller to reinterpret the Second Amendment as protecting the right of individuals to own firearms. That decision represented a huge victory for the NRA, whose persistent lobbying finally paid off. That decision needs to be repealed, but the gun manufacturers, the NRA, the gun owners of America, and the intimidated congressional representatives of both parties will use every argument, every ruse to keep it from happening. The underlying determinative issues here are economic and political, not constitutional. The abuse of the Second Amendment is the fundamental barrier to resolving the issue of gun control.  
        The second problem has to do with ordinary human behavior. Guns are for killing. Where there are guns, people are going to get killed. And it’s not just psychopaths and criminal types who do the killing. Apart from the many gun-related deaths and injuries that are accidental, like mine, there are the homicides committed by ordinary people who in a moment of rage resort to violence, and if there’s a gun handy will use it. So road rage causes an infuriated driver to pull a gun out of the glove compartment and shoot another driver for honking at him. A shouting match can easily lead to a shooting.
        There’s a beast in all of us that can rear its ugly head in sudden and unexpected ways in reaction to unplanned and unpredicted provocations. Some folks are quicker to fly off the handle than others, but who knows how even the most placid individual might react under certain circumstances?
        And what does it say about our culture that ordinary private citizens feel they need to own a gun for self-protection? I’m not referring just to assault weapons. I’m talking about handguns. Now the NRA and its backers want to arm teachers! The idea of having guns in classrooms is not only dangerous, it is outrageous! But what is even more frightening is that many teachers are preparing to do just that!
        The third issue is the biggest elephant in the room, and I don’t expect many to agree with me. It’s the issue of hunting itself. Every politician, however liberal or conservatives he or she might be, is quick to justify the use of guns for hunting. They proudly declare their love of hunting. Of course there are often justifiable reasons for hunting, such as the need periodically to cull the exploding deer populations in some states, where deer are a serious menace to drivers. But from my faith perspective killing for pleasure is not a justifiable motive. The killing of God’s creatures purely for sport is a stain on our humanity and a violation of our stewardship of life.
        I’ll admit my feelings on this issue are somewhat extreme. I don’t expect Congress to repeal the Second Amendment or the Supreme Court to rescind its recent interpretation of it. I doubt if our nation will follow the example of Australia and institute a widespread buy-back program  But who can reasonably deny that sensitive gun legislation is urgently needed. The right to bear arms should not include assault weapons and guns with high capacity magazines. Background checks must be required, tighter registration procedures must be established for the sale of guns, including the purchase of guns at gun shows, and restrictions must be imposed on the sale of guns on the Internet.
        Congress should act immediately to institute these and other sensible measures to prevent the gang related shootings that are taking place every day in many of our cities and the horrible mass killings that are occurring so often, such as the unspeakably tragic murder of those twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It‘s time for our elected representatives at all levels of government to take their stand against the NRA and the gun lobbyists and do what is right for the people of America.
        What are your thoughts on the subject?

* * * * * * *


Children being led to safety out of the Sandy Hook
 Elementary School with their eyes closed to avoid their
seeing anything that might disturb or frighten them.
       I was shocked and sickened, like everyone else, by the horrible slaughter of twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, this past Friday morning. My heart was breaking for those whose lives have been so rudely and cruelly devastated by this unspeakable catastrophe.
        Those of us who are pastors wrestled with what to say to our congregations yesterday, the third Sunday of this holy season of Advent. Our parishioners are grieving, too, and trying as people of faith to make sense of this senseless tragedy. Where is God in all this?
        Unbelievers are quick to use such a disaster to deny the existence of God. They wonder how anyone can believe in a God who would let wenty-six innocent children and adults be so brutally murdered. They don’t understand God’s permissive will and humankind’s propensity for misusing the freedom God has granted us. God did not kill those children; a deranged young man named Adam Lanza did, for reasons we do not yet know or understand.
        Believers have their questions, too. Christians may be wondering if in the face of such an unspeakable calamity they can affirm with the Apostle Paul that “in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, RSV).
        By the grace of God, however, the truth of Paul’s words is already apparent to the eyes of faith. Hearing the beautiful testimony yesterday of Robbie Parker, whose six-year-old daughter Emily was one of the victims, was for me an inspiring confirmation of the fact that God is indeed working for good in that family. Robbie appealed for prayers not just for the families of the victims, but for Adam Lanza’s family as well. Despite his immense grief, his heart was filled not with vindictiveness but with compassion. “Let this inspire us,” he said, “to be better, more compassionate, and caring toward other people.”  That’s how God works for good even in a terrible tragedy like the one in Newtown, Connecticut.
        President Obama’s heartfelt words at the memorial service in Newtown yesterday were further confirmation of Paul’s affirmation. The President challenged the nation to take action to end such violent attacks. If this latest attack can be the long-awaited inducement to take whatever steps are necessary and proper to prevent other such tragedies, then good has come out of it. I say “proper” steps, because arming school teachers with hand guns, as some members of Congress are recommending, would hardly be God’s way of working for good.
        But if the people impacted by such a tragedy are brought closer to God and become better persons for it, then God is working for good. If people everywhere are more conscious of the precious gift of life, if parents are hugging their children more, if communities are more determined to prevent such calamities from occurring in the future, if families, friends, and neighbors are drawn closer together by their common grief and their desire to heal and to help, if lawmakers are willing to impose stricter controls on the possession and use of weapons and on the kinds of weapons that are available to private citizens, and if more people are moved to speak out against the culture of violence that has engulfed our nation —the movies and television shows we watch, the language we use, the music our young people listen to, the video games they play— then good is coming out of the Newtown tragedy.    
        Understand, it’s not that tragedy itself is good. It’s that God can bring good out of it. Atrocities such as have occurred all too often in Newton and elsewhere are evil, but how people react to them, what they do about them, determines whether good comes out of them.
        The day I fail to see such confirmation of the truth of Paul’s words will be the day I stop believing in God.

* * * * * * *


       Shame on those 38 Republican Senators who voted against the United Nations Treaty banning  discrimination against people with disabilities.
        Ratification of International treaties requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate. More than 150 others nations have signed the treaty, which guarantees disabled persons the same rights provided disabled persons in the United States under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990.
        Kudos to the eight Republican Senators who voted with the Democrats in favor of the treaty, including Senators Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dick Lugar (Ind.), John McCain (Ariz.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats in favor of the treaty.
        Eighty-nine year old retired Senator Bob Dole, a disabled veteran of World War II, was wheeled by his wife, retired Senator Elizabeth Dole, onto the Senate floor as a gesture of his strong support for the treaty. He was greeted warmly by Senators on both sides of the aisle, but how disappointed he must have been by those of his own Party who voted against the Treaty, on the pretext that it would be an infringement on the sovereignty of the United States.
        How sheepish they must have felt, as their names were called out in opposition. They included some of Senator Dole’s closest former colleagues and friends, whose fear of a back lash from their Tea Party constituents was, I suspect, the real reason for their opposition. Their misguided political loyalties stifled their desire to do what was right for America and the world. Shame on them!
        But then, why should we be surprised? Because of their outrageous pledge to Grover Norquist, they’re willing to let the Bush tax cuts expire for 98% of us Americans rather than allow the tax rate for the wealthiest 2% to revert to the Clinton tax rate, which would represent a slight increase that the rich can well afford.
        Shame on them!

* * * * * * *


                                                        Regarding the dread fiscal cliff                                                                                                                 the backs of both Parties are stiff.
                                                        After hearing their views
                                                        on which option to choose,
                                                        I’m beginning to think, what’s the diff?

                                                        The wealthy will still have to pay
                                                        a higher tax rate either way.
                                                        Meanwhile posturing
                                                        is the politic thing.
                                                        So for now just ignore what they say!

* * * * * * *


     Romney went to the White House for lunch.
     What was said there I haven’t a hunch.
     Did Mitt say, “Thanks! I’m free
     now to be the real me!
     I am through with that Tea Party bunch!”

     Did the President say in reply,
    “I have always thought you’re a good guy,
     but I hear in my head
     all the mean things you said;
     can I now on that promise rely?”?

* * * * * * *


Rachel Maddow posted this composite photo of the nineteen newly appointed persons who will be serving as committee chairs in the House of Representatives, when the new term begins in January.

Note that there is not one woman or minority person among them!

Will the Republicans ever get the message?

* * * * * * *


       What ever happened to the “loyal opposition” concept? It has been replaced by what I call “the loser syndrome.”
        You encounter this syndrome in every organization, including in the church. A new pastor comes and those who used to be on the “in” with the former pastor start making odious comparisons and finding fault with the changes that usually occur. Those who have lost power seem to feel they have to exercise their influence in negative ways. They aren’t running things any more, so they oppose, and criticize, and second guess everything the new “regime” is doing. I’m sure you have encountered this attitude somewhere along the way. It’s the loser syndrome.
Illustration by Stephen Kroninger for TIme
       It is especially evident in the current political arena, and the prime example is Senator John McCain, who has never got over his loss to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. His and Senator Lindsey Graham’s unwarranted attack on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice drew a stern rebuke from President Obama, who called the attack “outrageous.” The Senators are accusing the Ambassador of either deliberately lying about the cause of the Benghazi attacks or of being incompetent for not knowing what she should have known. They have vowed to oppose her nomination as Secretary of State, should President Obama choose her to replace Hillary Clinton, who will be leaving the post in January.
        McCain’s conduct was all the more reprehensible, because even as he and Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte were holding a press conference to blast the Obama administration for what they claimed to be a lack of transparency, McCain was missing the State Department’s closed-door briefing for members of the Senates’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which he is a member! When asked the next day about his missing the briefing, McCain rebuffed the questioner angrily.
        The briefing confirmed the fact that Ambassador Rice had reported the information as it was given her, a fact that was further substantiated by the testimony of recently resigned C. I. A. Director David Petraeus. Ambassador Rice's remarks were completely accurate and commendably tentative. For McCain and Graham to malign a brilliant Rhodes Scholar, whose service to the United States has been exemplary and whose role as the U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations has won her high praise, is also hypocritical, for the Senators had no complaints about then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s role in justifying America's preemptive invasion of Iraq, based on the erroneous assumption that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
        John McCain and his allies are obviously using the Benghazi attacks as an opportunity to make trouble for President Obama, instead of cooperating in the effort to find out what exactly happened and how such a tragedy can be avoided in the future. It’s the loser syndrome. It is obvious they haven’t faced the reality that they lost the election. Their policies and ideas were soundly rejected by a majority of the American people.
        Get with it, Senator McCain! Admit you’ve made a mistake and start doing what the American people want you to do: reach out across the aisle and work in a bipartisan way to solve some of the problems our nation is facing. End the side-tracking and the scape-goating and get to work!

* * * * * * *


        In our nation's concern about our dependency on foreign oil and the laudable desire to find safe alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, "clean" coal, and natural gas, many knowledgeable Americans are deeply concerned about the dangers of the use of hydrofracking to extract natural gas.

        Having written about this issue before (see How One Church Has Addressed the Issue, and ALEC Is At It Again), I now urge those who are not familiar with what looms as a controversy of growing national and even international significance to read the following article, entitled Frack Fight.
        Given the conflict between the general public's concern about gas prices and the environmentalists' concerns about the harmful effects of fracking, between the conflicting economic interests of the oil companies and the health and safety concerns of communities impacted by the process, and given the enormous political implications of the issue, President Obama will face some difficult decisions in the months ahead.
        It will be one of the most challenging tests of his presidential leadership.

* * * * * * *


      On and on it goes. Mitt Romney tells his big donors he lost because of President Obama’s “gifts” to the African American community, the Hispanic community, and young people. His comments were in keeping with his infamous remarks about the 47% of Americans whom he accused of  paying no income taxes, expecting  handouts, and not wanting to take responsibility for their own lives. When will he ever learn?
        That on top of Karl Rove’s karlrovean assertion that Barack Obama won the election by "suppressing the vote"! When will he ever learn?
Senator Mitch McConnell
        In responding to an editorial in the Louisville Courier Journal celebrating President Obama’s victory, Senator Mitch McConnell wrote “Kentuckians did not, as the editorial board would lead you to believe, suggest that those of us representing their interests capitulate to the wishes of President Obama and his liberal allies in Washington. The fact is, America voted to maintain divided government.” What Senator McConnell failed to note is that the Democratic candidates actually received over half a million votes more than their Republican opponents, who though they lost some seats, managed to maintain the control of the House because of the gerrymandering that took place in Republican States following the 2010 mid-term election. This month’s election was hardly a mandate for divided government! When will they ever learn?
Ambassador Susan E. Rice
        Now we have Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham accusing U. N. Ambassador Susan Rice of incompetence if not conspiracy and vowing to block her nomination should President Obama want to appoint her to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. In so doing they have typically misrepresented Ambassador Rice’s role in reporting on the Benghazi attacks. She had nothing to do with Benghazi. She was simply reporting on the intelligence information  given her at the time. In response to a question at his news conference yesterday the President praised the Ambassador for her outstanding service to the nation and called the Senators’ charges “outrageous.”  Indeed they were. When will they ever learn?
        A Republican controlled committee of the Ohio State House of Representatives has recommended a bill that would in effect defund planned parenthood in Ohio. The bill re-prioritized funding for family planning services so that Planned Parenthood would be last on the list. Didn’t the Republican legislators in Ohio get the message from the recent election? When will they ever learn?
Representative Ron Paul
        The Tea Partyites are reporting with delight and Representative Ron Paul sees it as a good thing that since the reelection or President Obama, citizens of all fifty States have petitioned the White Houses’s web site We The People to secede from the Union! 25,000 signatures are needed for a petition to be accepted and replied to by the Administration  A number of States have exceeded the required number, with Texas (no surprise there!) leading all the rest. The movement has evoked a potpourri of ridicule, anger, and disgust, along with some pointed humor from those who see it as a welcome opportunity to rid the nation of so many bigoted red necks and racists. Two other petitions have been received from those who want the signers of the secession petitions to be summarily deprived of their citizenship. And Austin, the capital city of Texas, has submitted a petition to withdraw from the State of Texas! The secessionist movement is convincing proof that racism is far from dead in the home of the free and the brave! Those who have signed these petitions have branded themselves as racists!
        When will they ever learn?

* * * * * * *


        Who are the truly loyal Americans?                                                                          

        They are not the flag-waving red necks whose bigotry oozes out of every pore. Decent folks who care about the truth need to speak up and speak out against the absurd but dangerous rhetoric coming from the radical right. I feel duty bound not to let the racist charges against President Obama which we hear or receive from our friends and others go unchallenged.
        A college classmate of mine keeps sending me anti-Obama propaganda he receives from his far right sources. Usually I read it, because I want to know what the opposition is saying. Then I delete it. But sometimes his material is so blatantly racist and false that I feel compelled to respond.
        His most recent post-election offerings have been so outrageous that I had to reply. Here’s what my former friend (I feel it is appropriate that I change his name), sent me from his friend Sam Holliday, whose name I have not changed:

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: armigercc@comcast.net
To: * Armiger Cromwell Center <armigercc@comcast.net>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 23:27:11 +0000 (UTC)

        I do not know who wrote this, but it throws a spotlight on a choice each of us will have to make. Do we accept Obama as our Commander in Chief and go along as best we can with a supreme leader for the next four years? Or do we recognize that he is an existential threat to the American of our Founders, and do whatever we can to prevent the destruction of the American nation? I do not think there can be "maybe this or maybe that"; there is no muddling through a soft middle; there is no time for Hamlet like indecision.
        It must be one way or the other. It will not be an easy decision for anyone. There will be both opportunity and danger.
        Regards, Sam Holliday

Death of the American Nation
by an Anonymous Patriot

        The American Dream ended on November 6th in Ohio. The second term of Barack Obama will be the final nail in the coffin for the legacy of the white males who discovered, explored, pioneered, settled and developed the greatest Republic in the history of mankind. A coalition of Progressives, Blacks, Latinos, Feminists, Gays, Government Workers, Union Members, Environmental Extremists, The Media, Hollywood, uninformed young people, the "forever needy," the chronically unemployed, illegal aliens and other "fellow travelers" has ended Norman Rockwell's America. The American Constitution has been replaced with Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" and world governance.
        Traditional Americans naively thought their principles and ideals could be protected by the ballot box. Because of their own negligence and weakness they were proven wrong. Independence, freedom, hard work, risk taking, self-reliance, merit, civic virtues, morality, compassion and courage are not values and attitudes which the Obama coalition consider important. Their leaders seeks power and use takiyya, and the usefully idiots of the coalition seek dependence and free stuff. On November 6th the progressives and post-modern thought defeated the American our Founders established.
        Traditional Americans will be politically irrelevant under the centralized power of the Obama regime. Now they must neutralize the aforementioned coalition which has turned its back on our culture, our heritage and our traditions. Americans will never again outvote this coalition. It will take skill, determination, individual acts of defiance and massive displays of civil disobedience to get back the rights Americans have allowed the coalition to take away. It will take Americans who remember that the citizens of the American nation are the sovereign and that American has no King. It will take Americans, not moderates--not reach-across-the-aisle RINOs--to right this ship and restore our beloved country to its former status.
        Each of us will have to become part of the regime or stand up against it. Those who come after us will have to risk their lives, their fortunes and their Sacred Honor--just as our Founders did--to bring back the nation that this generation has timidly frittered away due to "white guilt", post-modern thought, and  political correctness.

Here was my first response:

        I'm sure West Point is terribly embarrassed by Sam Holliday's seditious racism. If he is still in the reserves he could and should be court martialed.
        As for the forwarded article by "An Anonymous Patriot," I can see why no one would dare to admit writing such racist garbage. Thank God there are more decent Americans than there are people like that, and despite the Republican efforts to make it as hard as possible for them to vote, enough did to elect the President to a well-deserved second term!
        As an independent thinker I was most gratified by the election results, which renewed my faith in the American electorate. Sheldon Adelson and his ilk and the Republican superPACs were soundly repudiated! They could not buy the election with all their billions, and Romney couldn't lie his way into the White House. Truth triumphed over hypocrisy and deceit, and fair-minded Americans recognized Republican obstructionism for what is.
        I hope saner and fairer minds will regain control of the Republican Party that it may become once again the truly conservative and principled party it traditionally has been. America will be the stronger for it.

To which Lucifer replied:

        Yes, I admit that there is a racist aspect to the article which Sam Holliday forwarded to me. But, beyond that fact, it is the aspect of the loss of our beloved country which stood out in the article. Yet, we need to be realistic about the fact that Obama has now set things up to make the US a third world nation. The biggest detriment will be Obamacare, under which those of us over age 65 will no longer have proper medical care, starting in 2013. Healthcare treatment decisions will no longer be determined by Physicians, but rather by unknown government bureaucrats. Thus, the idea of prolonging life when faced with the prospect of hip replacement surgery or a disease or restoration of health from an accident will no longer be possible. And, finally, the government will now have a control over many aspects of our lives which will restrict our freedoms. To return us to the country we knew a quarter of a century ago, or longer, will then be extremely difficult to achieve.
         The below article by Joseph Farah gives credence to the fact that the re-election of Obama to the POTUS was accomplished by voter fraud. This is all beginning to come out as the dust settles from the election procedures.
         And as to the credibility of Sam, I got to know him from church activities, living in the same community,  being members of the same section of a Men's Conversation Group in Chapel Hill, and serving together on the Board of a local section of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). His leadership & knowledge stood out in all areas.  He and his wife moved to a retirement community in Atlanta about five years ago in order to be closer to a son and his family.

Hello again, Lucifer!
        You and I have known each other since our college days, and I really appreciate our being able to exchange our views honestly and without malice. But I have to wonder how you can believe all the stuff you send me?
        All of these right-wing extremists impugn the President's motives with no evidence whatsoever to back up their accusations. They completely ignore his record. If he were guilty of the sinister kinds of things of which they are accusing him, do you think those closest to him would not know it? Would he have the kind of trust and respect from his colleagues, including his campaign workers, the cabinet, the White House staff, the press corps, and from the tens of millions of Americans like myself, who follow the political scene very closely? Michelle would never have married him, if he were that kind of person, and she knows him better than anyone else.
        As for Obamacare, are you advocating that we revert to the time when thirty to forty million Americans had no health care insurance, and when insurance companies could arbitrarily deny coverage to persons with pre-existing conditions? The President and the Democrats have admitted the Affordable Care Act has some flaws that need to be worked out and they are ready and willing to do that. Most of those flaws incidentally, were the result of the President's efforts to compromise with the Republicans, who even when their demands were met, still refused to accept the plan, simply because they didn't want the President to succeed at anything.  But the things you have said about Obamacare are simply not true, Lucifer. You are repeating the same old falsehoods, which if they were true, the bill would never have been passed in the first place.
        Your indictment, moreover, is not just of the President, who succeeded in accomplishing what no President before him had been able to do, but of everyone who had any part in drafting the legislation ---Democrats, Republicans, and impartial professional experts alike. Whatever needs to be fixed can be fixed, but it would be a horrible mistake to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Millions of Americans are already benefiting from the provisions of the Act, including some of my grandchildren, who now are still covered under their parents' health care policies, and countless people with pre-existing conditions, and women whose preventive care needs are now covered, and many, many more. 
        Turning to the election, the idea that it was stolen by voter fraud is utterly ridiculous! The restrictive I.D. laws, the purging of rolls, the misinformation about voting requirements and voting times and places, the limiting of early voting times, and other suppressive measures by Republican state officials, like Jon Husted, were supposed to be correcting a problem that all reputable researchers agreed simply didn't exist. There has been almost no individual identification fraud. For example, here's a summary of the conclusions drawn from the extensive research of the Brennan Center for Justice Center at the New York University School of Law:
            * Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare.
* Many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not
               demonstrate fraud.
* Voter fraud is often conflated with other forms of election misconduct.
* Raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda.
* Claims of voter fraud should be carefully tested before they become the basis for action.
        It is no coincidence that these restrictive measures in every case impacted predominantly Democratic voters. The efforts backfired, however, for they simply made African Americans, Latinos, and other targeted groups all the more determined to vote. So they stood in line for hours to exercise their fundamental American right. They refused to be disenfranchised!
        As a Christian I want to vote for candidates whose words and actions, policies and practices, conform most nearly to the teachings of Christ. Jesus hated hypocrisy. He demanded truth. He was on the side of the poor. I have never seen a President so viciously and dishonestly maligned, as Barack Obama has been. His opponents have done everything possible to keep him from succeeding. They have tried to paint him as unAmerican. They question his birth, his faith, his patriotism, his intentions, and in so doing they ignore or deny his accomplishments, which are amazing, considering the persistent effort of the Republicans to keep him from succeeding. They have put their partisan interests above the good of the country. Shame on them! Shame on them for being so disrespectful of the President of the United States and so deceitful about his accomplishments! They call the lie to everything we say we are as a nation.
        And shame on all those right-wing, red-necked extremists who try to wrap the flag around their racist views.They are the real danger to our democracy! Their hate-mongering is appalling, and my prophetic faith impels me to speak out against the evil they personify. I and many others disagreed strongly with George W. Bush, when he was President, and I was strongly opposed to his preemptive invasion of Iraq. America lost the high moral ground at that point. But I prayed for President Bush and I wanted him to do well for the sake of our country. I disagreed with his policies, but I never questioned his patriotism or his faith. President Obama deserves no less from his opponents, who need to learn some lessons from his very impressive reelection.
        I have stated my convictions, Lucifer. I'm always willing to listen to yours.
        Have a happy Thanksgiving!

* * * * * * *            


Karl Rove
        It has been interesting to watch the Republicans play the blame game. Karl Rove wins the prize.
        It has been interesting to watch the Republicans play the blame game. Karl Rove wins the prize for charging that President Obama won “by suppressing the vote”! There we have the most blatant example of the karlrovean tactic by the man who personifies it: accuse your opponent of that of which your side is guilty! Imagine a Republican accusing the Democrats of voter suppression!
        Other Republicans are blaming Hurricane Sandy for disrupting Mitt Romney’s momentum; or Governor Christie for his generous praise of President Obama’s leadership in responding to the storm; or the liberal bias of the main stream media; or the remarks of extremists like Todd Akin, whose candidacy for the Senate Romney endorsed; or the choice of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate instead of someone like Senator Marco Rubio, who they think would have narrowed the gap among Latino voters; or the Democrats’  negative attacks on Romney that succeeded in defining him early on as a “vulture capitalist” who couldn’t relate to and didn’t care about middle class Americans; or the fact that the Democrats had a much more sophisticated ground game than the Republicans; etc., etc.
        In the midst of all their accusations and alibis, I don’t hear the Republicans questioning the relevance of their own message, or their disdain for the fact checkers who pointed out their continual misrepresentation of the facts, or the ability of many Americans to see through their hypocrisy, or the fact that many of their constituents did not really like their candidate, but they hated Barack Obama more. It was the Republicans who painted Barack Obama as a failed President, overlooking their own determination to keep him from succeeding. In so doing they ignored or denied all that he was able to accomplish despite their persistent opposition.
        When George W. Bush was reelected to the presidency, he announced that he had capital and was going to spend it. In marked contrast to his predecessor President Obama’s remarks at the White House today were firm but conciliatory. While stating his earnest desire to work with both sides of the aisle to accomplish the needed tax reform and to resolve other pressing matters, he made it clear he would insist that the wealthiest two percent be asked to contribute a little more.
        The electorate made it clear that they think the wealthiest Americans should be asked to pay a little more. Most of us see the issue of extending the tax cuts for middle class Americans as a no brainer. The President wants to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, which would boost their tax rate slightly, to the level of the Clinton years. The Republicans, true to their pledge to Grover Norquist, have refused to exclude the top two percent from the tax cut.
        Something has to happen soon. Let’s see if some reasonable Republicans will no longer feel bound by a pledge they never should have made in the first place.
      It has been interesting to watch the Republicans play the blame game. Karl Rove wins the prize for charging that President Obama won “by suppressing the vote”! There we have the most blatant example of the karlrovean tactic by the man who personifies it: accuse your opponent of that of which your side is guilty! Imagine a Republican accusing the Democrats of voter suppression!
        Other Republicans are blaming Hurricane Sandy for disrupting Mitt Romney’s momentum; or Governor Christie for his generous praise of President Obama’s leadership in responding to the storm; or the liberal bias of the main stream media; or the remarks of extremists like Todd Akin, whose candidacy for the Senate Romney endorsed; or the choice of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate instead of someone like Senator Marco Rubio, who they think would have narrowed the gap among Latino voters; or the Democrats’  negative attacks on Romney that succeeded in defining him early on as a “vulture capitalist” who couldn’t relate to and didn’t care about middle class Americans; or the fact that the Democrats had a much more sophisticated ground game than the Republicans; etc., etc.
        In the midst of all their accusations and alibis, I don’t hear the Republicans questioning the relevance of their own message, or their disdain for the fact checkers who pointed out their continual misrepresentation of the facts, or the ability of many Americans to see through their hypocrisy, or the fact that many of their constituents did not really like their candidate, but they hated Barack Obama more. It was the Republicans who painted Barack Obama as a failed President, overlooking their own determination to keep him from succeeding. In so doing they ignored or denied all that he was able to accomplish despite their persistent opposition.
        When George W. Bush was reelected to the presidency, he announced that he had capital and was going to spend it. In marked contrast to his predecessor President Obama’s remarks at the White House today were firm but conciliatory. While stating his earnest desire to work with both sides of the aisle to accomplish the needed tax reform and to resolve other pressing matters, he made it clear he would insist that the wealthiest two percent be asked to contribute a little more.
        The electorate made it clear that they think the wealthiest Americans should be asked to pay a little more. Most of us see the issue of extending the tax cuts for middle class Americans as a no brainer. The President wants to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, which would boost their tax rate slightly, to the level of the Clinton years. The Republicans, true to their pledge to Grover Norquist, have refused to exclude the top two percent from the tax cut.
        Something has to happen soon. Let’s see if some reasonable Republicans will no longer feel bound by a pledge they never should have made in the first place.
for charging that President Obama won “by suppressing the vote”! There we have the most blatant example of the karlrovean tactic by the man who personifies it: accuse your opponent of that of which your side is guilty! Imagine a Republican accusing the Democrats of voter suppression!
        Other Republicans are blaming Hurricane Sandy for disrupting Mitt Romney’s momentum; or Governor Christie for his generous praise of President Obama’s leadership in responding to the storm; or the liberal bias of the main stream media; or the remarks of extremists like Todd Akin, whose candidacy for the Senate Romney endorsed; or the choice of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate instead of someone like Senator Marco Rubio, who they think would have narrowed the gap among Latino voters; or the Democrats’  negative attacks on Romney that succeeded in defining him early on as a “vulture capitalist” who couldn’t relate to and didn’t care about middle class Americans; or the fact that the Democrats had a much more sophisticated ground game than the Republicans; etc., etc.
        In the midst of all their accusations and alibis, I don’t hear the Republicans questioning the relevance of their own message, or their disdain for the fact checkers who pointed out their continual misrepresentation of the facts, or the ability of many Americans to see through their hypocrisy, or the fact that many of their constituents did not really like their candidate, but they hated Barack Obama more. It was the Republicans who painted Barack Obama as a failed President, overlooking their own determination to keep him from succeeding. In so doing they ignored or denied all that he was able to accomplish despite their persistent opposition.
        When George W. Bush was reelected to the presidency, he announced that he had capital and was going to spend it. In marked contrast to his predecessor President Obama’s remarks at the White House today were firm but conciliatory. While stating his earnest desire to work with both sides of the aisle to accomplish the needed tax reform and to resolve other pressing matters, he made it clear he would insist that the wealthiest two percent be asked to contribute a little more.
        The electorate made it clear that they think the wealthiest Americans should be asked to pay a little more. Most of us see the issue of extending the tax cuts for middle class Americans as a no brainer. The President wants to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, which would boost their tax rate slightly, to the level of the Clinton years. The Republicans, true to their pledge to Grover Norquist, have refused to exclude the top two percent from the tax cut.
        Something has to happen soon. Let’s see if some reasonable Republicans will no longer feel bound by a pledge they never should have made in the first place.

* * * * * * *


        I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. last night, watching the election returns. President Obama’s reelection was a victory for all Americans, even those who voted against him! For all Americans stand to benefit from the President’s policies. Barack Obama’s impressive victory, though not a “mandate,” is certainly a confirmation of the direction in which the nation is heading under his leadership and the progress that he has made so far. While there is much to be done, as the President is the first to admit, his reelection is a most gratifying vindication of his many first-term accomplishments, which have been so meanly misrepresented by his opponents throughout the presidential campaign.
        It is also a well-deserved repudiation of right-wing extremism, of the attack ads of the superPACs, billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers and their efforts to buy the election,  of “birthers” like Donald Trump, of the fear mongering conspiracy hunters, fueled by the Citizens United backed producers of the “documentary” film 2016: Obama’s America, which paints the President as conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to turn America into a Muslim state, and of the Republican state officials who tried to steal the election with their restrictive voter I.D. laws and other measures designed to prevent or discourage primarily Democratic voters from exercising their fundamental right to vote.  
        On a brighter note, Mitt Romney’s concession speech was commendably gracious and apolitical. It was also relatively brief, maybe because, according to rumor, he had not prepared one in advance. Maybe his delay in conceding the election was not due to his campaign’s unwillingness to concede Ohio to the Democrats, but to his need to work on a speech he never thought he would have to give.
        One of the things that pleased and impressed me most about what was obviously a very sad and difficult moment for Governor Romney and his disappointed followers, who had been hoping for a very different kind of message from their leader, was the crowd’s response to his announcement that he had just called to congratulate President Obama on his victory and to wish him and his family well. Instead of the usual outburst of booing that we are accustomed to hearing from the losing side at the mention of their opponent’s name, there was spontaneous, polite applause!
        Shortly after that, at the Democratic headquarters in Chicago, there was also a round of applause when the President reported on his opponent’s call and complimented him on his hard-fought campaign. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the similar reactions of both camps were a sign of a new desire for bipartisan cooperation in the days ahead?  
        We’ll soon find out!

* * * * * * *


Pres. Obama and Gov.Christie on Marine One
        To those who have been following my posts I apologize for my recent inactivity, but I was
without Internet access for a few days because of hurricane Sandy and unable to access my blog.
        That was frustrating for me, as I’ve had so many thoughts I wanted to share. I was so impressed by President Obama’s immediate and forceful response to Sandy, and especially by his and New Jersey Governor Christie’s commendable cooperation in dealing with the disastrous effects of the storm. The President’s actions drew high praise from the man who gave the keynote address at the Republican Convention and who has until now been a blistering critic of Barack Obama. His praise of the President’s leadership and the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) completely contradicts Mitt Romney’s campaign rhetoric!
        Meanwhile the Republican candidate is desperately trying to lie his way into the White House. He keeps on trying to scare Ohioans by charging that the Chrysler Corporation is planning to ship the manufacturing of Jeeps to China, despite the angry contradiction of Chrysler’s CEO.  Romney’s ads continue to level a similar charge against the General Motors Corporation, drawing an unprecedented blast from GM.
        In a blog post many weeks ago I coined the term “karlrovean,” which refers to the campaign tactic of accusing your opponent of the very things of which you yourself are guilty. The Romney campaign has been employing this tactic to an extreme. So we have Mitt Romney, Mr. Out-Sourcer himself, accusing the President of out-sourcing! And the man who has run the most negative campaign in my life-time, with the most false statements about his opponent I’ve ever heard, acting as if he’s the one being falsely accused (“Attacking me is not a plan for improving our economy.”)
        It is distressing to me that this presidential election is as close as it is. But what can we expect? The same uninformed Americans who voted George W. Bush into office will choose the flip-flopping Mr. Etch-a-sketch, who hasn’t the backbone to condemn the outrageously extremist statements of some of the members of his own party or to renounce the disgraceful efforts of Republican election officials to suppress the vote in their states, and who disdains the 47% of Americans he accuses of expecting handouts and paying no taxes, while refusing to reveal his own tax returns! Too many people have been hoodwinked by Romney's platitudinous rhetoric. They  can’t tell the difference between a boast and a plan.
        Not all Romney supporters are unintelligent and uninformed, of course. Yet they choose to believe the lies of the "birthers" and Romney's unsupported generalities, and they ignore his gaffes and overlook his faults because they hate Obama so much. They want to believe everything Romney and his surrogates say about the President because they want to believe it, whether it's true or not.
        Romney supporters have flocked to see the "documentary" "2016: Obama's America," ignoring the fact that it is a slick infomercial produced by Citizens United, the conservative advocacy group whose 2010 Supreme Court victory over the Federal Elections Commission led to the outlandish campaign spending by the SuperPACs, as President Obama predicted it would. Critics have pointed out that the film totally ignores what Obama has done as President. It's not about his record; it's CU producer D'Souza's speculation about the President's secret intentions, based on D'Souza's psychological analysis of Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from My Father. Having read that book, I find D'Souza's conclusions insidiously far-fetched.
         But honesty is not a virtue with the current brand of right-wing Republicans. And their leader is setting the example. Fact checkers consistently show that everything Mitt Romney says about President Obama is a misrepresentation or an outright lie. The Republican candidate has exceeded the limits of decent political discourse. He refuses to answer questions and has not granted an interview with the press for over three weeks!
        Meanwhile, his supporters refuse to consider the facts. They hate Barack Obama, and despite their denials, much of that hatred is semi-concealed or blatant racism. Why else do they refuse to acknowledge the President’s accomplishments? Why are they so ready to ignore the facts and to believe the lies of the Romney team?
        In case you have forgotten some of those lies, here’s a good summary from the Tampa Bay Times to refresh you memory: click on Romney’s lies.
        After perusing that list, how could any fair-minded American who really loves this country choose a man like that over Barack Obama, who is the same consistent, trustworthy person he was when he took office, whose goals for this country have not changed, and who has made remarkable progress toward those goals, despite the total lack of cooperation of the Republicans in the House and Senate?
        This election is a choice between truth and falsehood, between integrity and hypocrisy, between character and shamelessness, between genuine love for America and partisan loyalty. The plain truth is that our choice will say more about us than about the person we choose!

* * * * * * *


        Before discovering this newer video, I posted a link to a 2008 video, which I felt was still relevant and inspiring. It's still worth watching!
        In that post, which I have just cancelled. I suggested that as you listen to the stirring song from Les Miserables, imagine they were singing "one more term" instead of "one more day"! In this  newer version, featuring Broadway stars, they are doing just that, with contemporary lyrics and a powerful political message!
       The 2012 presidential election is just as important as the historic 2008 election, even more so, for it is a test of our American values. Truth itself is on the line. We can't let the dream die! There's too much at stake. We've come too far, accomplished too much.
        Click on this LINK, turn up the volume, click on your full screen, and be inspired!

* * * * * * *

ONE MORE DAY!        

        Do you remember the 2008 video? It's still relevant and inspiring!

        As you listen to this stirring song from Les Miserables, just imagine they are singing
"one more term" instead of "one more day"!

       The 2012 presidential election is just as important as the historic 2008 election, even
more so, for it is a test of our American values. Truth itself is on the line. We can't let the
dream die! There's too much at stake. We've come too far, accomplished too much.

        Click on this LINK, turn up your volume, and click on full screen.

* * * * * * *


        President Obama was the clear winner of the third “debate,” both in substance and in style.
Governor Romney was obviously trying to appear knowledgeable with his geographical name-dropping, but he was clearly limited to his memorized lines. That is undoubtedly why he chose not to debate but to reverse his previously stated positions and agree with the President on almost every for foreign policy issue. As was to be expected, Mr. Romney turned his every answer into an attack on the President’s economic record.
        The strategy did not work, however, for the President called attention to his opponent’s inconsistencies (“You’re all over the map, Governor!”), challenged his misstatements, and corrected his mistakes. It was abundantly clear which of the two candidates was more qualified to be Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces!
        The President was sharp, articulate, factual, and firm. His opponent seemed nervous and defensive. He was sweating. He spoke too fast and too long. The Fox News crowd complained that Bob Schieffer cut him off. He should have, but he couldn’t. He tried to, but Romney rudely ignored him and went on and on, never on the question, and it appeared at times that the President couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
        Today the President released three and a half million copies of his detailed plan for his second term. It is a far more factual, detailed, and explicit agenda than Romney’s vague generalities and platitudes.  It will be interesting to see how the Romney/Ryan team react, now that the rug has been pulled out from under their main criticism of the President!

* * * * * * *


        When it comes to foreign policy, how can there be a real debate tonight, when one candidate's foreign policy experience is limited to his investments in foreign companies and shipping jobs overseas? As the President put it very bluntly in the second debate, Governor Romney is the last person that should be talking about getting tough on China. His preparation for tonight's debate has been to memorize what he has been told by his neocon advisers. Since he has nothing to offer, all he can do is attack, attack, attack. He is good at that!
        During his overseas trip a few weeks ago Mr. Romney revealed his propensity for putting his foot in his mouth, and time and again he has displayed his dangerous tendency to shoot from the hip, as revealed by his totally inappropriate and premature criticism of the President immediately upon hearing the news of the killing of four Americans during the attack on the Benghasi consulate..
        We don't need a belligerent hawk in the White House. America's allies are dreading that possibility. The last thing we need is another war! What a tragedy it would be to destroy the good will and unity that has been established under President Obama's leadership! He has restored America's respect and role in the world community.
        Foreign policy has been one of the President's greatest strengths. Vice President Biden has had many years of foreign policy experience. Their opponents have had little or none. Voters should not be misled by Romney's rhetoric. If you need a reminder, take a look at this video.  

* * * * * * *


At last! A clear explanation of the Romney tax plan. Click on Plan. 

* * * * * * *


       What a contrast between the Republicans’ reaction to the second debate and the Democrats’ reaction to the first debate!
        Whereas Democratic sympathizers were the first to acknowledge the President’s disappointing performance and to concede that Mitt Romney was the winner that night, the Republicans are looking for all kinds of excuses to deny President Obama’s clear victory in Tuesday night’s heated debate.
Photo by Michael Phillips-
Pool/Getty Images
        As expected they heaped much of the blame on the moderator, Candy Crowley, for correcting Mr. Romney’s misrepresentation of the President’s remarks in the Rose Garden on the day following the Benghazi attacks. Instead they should be relieved that she didn’t call attention to all the other misstatements by the Governor. Ms. Crowley moderated what for me was the most spirited televised presidential debate, and the most lively exchange of views ever.
        The Republicans and some of the commentators have faulted President Obama for not laying out his plans for the next four years. I disagree completely with that criticism, because his plans were inferred over and over again in his responses to the various questions.  He will work for the passage of the legislative acts that Republicans have blocked, such as the Dream Act, the American Jobs Act, the Farm Bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Veterans’ Jobs Bill, the cost of living adjustment for veterans, continuation of the Bush tax cuts for those earning under $250,000 a year, the winding down of our involvement in Afghanistan, and continuing to push his policies regarding energy, education, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and the prevention of the outsourcing of American jobs. These are just a few of his most obvious commitments.
        While clearly identifying the differences between his own policies and those of Governor Romney, President Obama also skillfully dismantled his opponent’s repeated “five-point plan” by asserting, “He doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan,” which is all about giving tax breaks to the wealthiest one percent.
        One of the most exasperating things about the debates for me so far, is that more attention has not been paid to the obstructionism of the Republican congress. The President had every right to blame the Republicans for their total lack of cooperation. Their stated political objective was to make him a one-term President, so they opposed every piece of legislation from his administration, setting a record number of filibusters in the process. Mr. Obama, perhaps wisely, chose not to hammer on that theme, hoping that the Republicans will be more cooperative in his second term.
        That’s a reasonable expectation, since the Republicans’ main political objective will no longer need to be to keep “this President” from winning a second term.  That might be a good reason for undecided voters to lean his way in this election, especially if they consider how much President Obama has been able to accomplish, despite the persistent obstructionism of the Republicans!

* * * * * * *


AP photo/Charlie Neibergall
        President Obama was himself tonight. He was forceful, factual, articulate, confident, and above
all presidential in his bearing.
        Governor Romney seemed to get more and more uncomfortable and desperate as the debate proceeded.  He said almost exactly the same things he said in the first debate, again short on facts and substance. He must have known that President Obama would not sit idly by and not question his statements, yet he seemed totally unprepared to deal with President’s pointed objections.
        It was almost ludicrous to hear the Republican spin doctors try to argue that their candidate had won the debate. Romney’s expression was anything but confident. His usual tactic of responding to a question by attacking his opponent was obviously not working tonight, and the Governor was clearly on the defensive, while the President was cool, calm, and collected.
        Tonight’s debate was a totally different scenario. The President had many strong moments, but he was especially good in summarizing his accomplishments, and I liked the way he pointed out the differences between Romney and George W. Bush, after Romney had fielded the same question from the moderator.
        It was to be expected that Mr. Romney would criticize the President regarding the attack on the Benghazi consulate in which four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, but Mr. Obama clearly won on that issue, from my point of view. He spoke as President and Commander in Chief in faulting the Republican candidate for politicizing the incident prematurely and inappropriately, and telling him to his face that his remarks were offensive.
        The President’s answer to the very last question was also particularly effective, when he seized the opportunity to remind the audience of Mitt Romney’s denigrating remarks about the 47% of Americans who, he said, pay no taxes and refuse to take responsibility for their own lives. That could have been the knockout blow for Mitt with many viewers.
        Yet President Obama could not be faulted for bullying his opponent. His demeanor was pleasant for the most part, although he did not mask his disagreement with Romney’s remarks.  He used a stiletto not a battle axe to expose the “real” Mitt Romney, whose flip-flops and inconsistencies should have been apparent to any of those supposedly undecided voters in the audience, if thev had been following the Romney campaign.
        We’ll see how it all plays out in the polls.

* * * * * * *


        Governor Romney’s boost in the polls following the first debate is an indictment of the intelligence of anyone who switched his or her allegiance to the Republican candidate. Granted President Obama  gave a lackluster performance, and he disappointed his followers by failing to challenge his opponent’s misrepresentations. But he was true to his convictions and his words matched his record. You know where he stands and what he stands for.

        The same cannot not be said for Mitt Romney, who completely reinvented himself,  contradicting his previous positions on issues and saying things that were totally false. If people couldn’t trust him before, how in the world could they trust him after his totally hypocritical performance in that debate?
        He took his etch-a-sketch strategy to a new extreme, proving once again that he will say anything he thinks will help him to get elected, often to the embarrassment even of his surrogates who are continually having to reinterpret their fearless leader’s remarks. “What he meant to say was. . .”
         It is a mystery to me why any politically knowledgeable woman would want to switch her support from Obama to Romney. Women’s rights under a Romney presidency are in just as much danger following the debate as they were before the debate. Medicare as we know it would still end, and the wealthiest one percent would still be getting a huge tax break at the expense of the middle class under the Romney/Ryan tax plan.
        And no matter how Mitt now tries to explain away or excuse his insulting remarks about forty-seven percent of Americans, people know he meant what he said when he thought he was in safe company.
        I have a feeling the boost has hit its peak and the bubble will either burst or slowly deflate following tonight’s vice presidential debate. Joe Biden will not be as easy on Paul Ryan as the President, regrettably, was on Mitt Romney. Biden will forcefully defend the President’s record against his opponent’s false statements and extremist positions, and he will point out the flaws and dangerous implications of the Ryan budget.
        Is there any worry that Mr. Biden might say something inappropriate? Not among the Obama team! They have said “Let Joe be Joe!”
        Which means it should be a lively debate!

* * * * * * *


       The first debate usually goes to the challenger, and the initial response of most commentators, Democratic and Republican alike, was that Mitt Romney won the opening round. The general consensus was that he was energetic, aggressive, confident, and well scripted.  Many expected him to be the attack dog, and he did not disappoint his followers.
        Though he sounded specific with his one-two-three point style, he was no more detailed than he has been throughout his campaign. The President’s supporters were disappointed and frustrated that the President let his opponent off the hook time and again. They felt that the President was not forceful enough in his responses, and that he missed or ignored opportunity after opportunity to call out his opponent on his misstatements and contradictions.
        But hold on. The President did not say anything wrong. He is being faulted not for what he said but for what he didn’t say, not for being too aggressive but for not being aggressive enough. Maybe restraint was the wise course to take, at least in this first debate.
         To those who have been so quick to hand the debate over to Romney, I want to say, “Wait a minute! Have you forgotten Mr. Etch-a-Sketch? We didn’t hear the real Mitt. We heard the well rehearsed Mitt! Romney scored on style, not on substance. A non-observer might have a difficult time picking a winner from a written transcript of the debate, especially if the non-observer was informed enough to recognized Romney’s complete reversals of many of his campaign positions, as well as his departures from the Republican Party platform.
       "This is the same Mitt Romney who said he couldn’t care less about the 47% of Americans who pay no income taxes and consider themselves to be victims, who expect everything to be handed to them, and whom he could never expect to take charge of their lives. And here he is talking about how he wants to help the middle class! Have you forgotten the Mitt who opposed the auto industry bailout, who wants to give a 20% tax deduction to the wealthiest Americans, of which he is one, who said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act the first day he’s in office?”
        How is all that going to play out as the campaign moves forward? The President was easy on Romney in this debate for who knows what reason, but Mitt is not going to get away with the things he said in the first debate. Even his own surrogates are already having to reinterpret their candidate’s remarks, and the President is hitting back hard on the campaign trail. Let’s not forget that there are two more debates yet to come, and I have a feeling the President will be taking the gloves off in the next two. There is also a Vice Presidential debate coming up next Thursday night, and Joe Biden will not be as easy on Paul Ryan as the President was on Mitt Romney. Mr. Biden will represent the President forcefully and well.
       In this debate the President was calm, cool, and collected, though perhaps too calm, cool, and collected for those who wanted him to blast his fast-talking opponent right out of the ballpark  Who knows whether that would have been a better approach? I like the fact that our President is thoughtful, and careful about what he says. That might not work in a debate, but it sure works in his roll as President of the United States! He has represented our country superbly in the international community.  I am confident in his leadership, but the thought of Mitt Romney as President scares me, and his performance in the debate only increases that fear. If we can’t trust him as a campaigner, how could we trust him in as President? He has put his foot in his mouth too many times!
        In this first debate President Obama was typically reflective in his style, which made him seem less energetic and involved. He allowed his opponent to get away with the same lies he has been saying throughout his campaign (e.g. that the President robbed Medicare of 716 billion dollars). He didn’t point out Romney’s flip flops and inconsistencies, or the Republican obstructionism that prevented the passage of the American Jobs Act, and the Dream Act, and the extension of the tax cuts for the middle class because they don’t want the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
        Nor did he call attention to Romney’s personal tax problems, his overseas bank accounts, his tax shelters, and foreign investments. When Romney, who has studiously avoided talking about his record as Governor of Massachusetts, brought up the subject, the President did not quickly point out that Massachusetts ranked 47th among the states in job creation during Romney’s  administration.
        Romney did have a few zingers, but they were more or less lost in his overall rhetoric. One example would be his anecdote about his sons, ending with his karlrovian charge, aimed at the President, about repeating a lie often enough until people believe it, which is exactly what Romney has been doing throughout his campaign.
        So what’s the fall out? Romney may get a boost in the polls, but if he does, I predict it will be only temporary. Why? Because the fact checkers will point out his flip flops and his lies. The President is consistent. He is the same person in private as he is in public. There is nothing phoney about him. He can be trusted. He is obviously not as comfortable as Romney in attacking his opponent, but, as I have said, maybe for this first debate that was a good thing.
        And, have we forgotten which Party Romney represents? The Party of No!, the Party that is waging war on women’s rights, on voters’ rights, on union rights, and on the right of thirty million Americans to affordable health care.
        So what if the initial reaction of some people or even most people was that Mitt Romney was the “winner” of a very poorly run debate? So he can memorize his prepared script and deliver it with zeal. Does that change his character? No. Does it qualify him to be President of the United States? No. So he was better at criticizing his opponent than his opponent was at criticizing him. Does that make me like him or trust any more than I did? Not at all. If anything I trust him less.
       And I’m certainly not going to vote for him!  

* * * * * * *


        The first Presidential debate takes places tonight. Governor Romney and President Obama have been practicing hard for it. The political pundits have been discussing the importance of this long-awaited confrontation between the two opponents and opining about each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and what each one has to do to “win” the debate.
        Viewers at home will be watching to see how the two men comport themselves, and how they interact with each other and with the moderator, former PBS News Hour anchor Jim Lehrer. We’re told that the format will be different from that of previous debates, but regardless of the changes, it will still not be a real debate.
        Nevertheless, I hope the moderator will ask questions that draw out the two candidates in a way that enables onlookers to see the differences in their views on key issues. Mr. Romney will surely be attacking the President on the economy and jobs. The President will be making the case that “we’re moving in the right direction,” and that he has a better plan for moving forward, and pressing his opponent for specifies on his plans, specifics that have been missing to date.
        As I wrote in an earlier post, the President has one great advantage in this debate: the truth! Because Mr. Romney has been flip-flopping all over the place and consistently misrepresenting the facts, it will be much more difficult for him to avoid being challenged on almost anything he says. It will be interesting to see how the President exploits his opponent’s inconsistencies.
        There have been rumors that Romney will come well stocked with memorized “zingers,” and he will be inserting them cleverly and seemingly spontaneously. But as much as the media reps like to focus, disproportionally in my view, on these kinds of sound bites, I don’t think I’m alone in my feeling that what is more important is people’s overall impression of the character, personal values, and goals of the two candidates.
        Tonight they will have to talk to each other, not about each other. Despite the limitations of the format, as we listen to their exchange, we shall have an opportunity to compare and contrast them apart from their attack ads and superPAC commercials. At the end of the debate the spin-doctors and supporters of each candidate will be claiming victory for their man.
        But you and I don’t need anyone else to tell us what we’ve seen and heard. We can decide for ourselves which one seems more “presidential,” or more confident, or more in command of the facts, and we will make up our own minds, if we haven’t already, which of these two very different individuals we are more willing to entrust with the leadership of our nation for the next four years.
        For me that decision has everything to do with the personal integrity of the candidates, as reflected in the degree of consistency between their rhetoric and their record, between their stated positions and their personal practices, between their public affirmations and their privately expressed attitudes.
        I hope the debates will help us to make that assessment.

* * * * * * *


Some campaigners will say anything to attain
        the office for which they have lusted.
          If their actions, however, don't match what they say
       do they have any right to be trusted?            

* * * * * * *


      President Obama is leading in the polls in most of the critical swing states. That sounds encouraging for Democrats, but it could be totally irrelevant. It matters not that the majority favors the President if the majority can’t vote!  
Photo by Richard B. Levine - Newscom
        Seventeen Republican state legislatures have enacted harsh voter ID laws, purged voter registration lists, and adopted other restrictive measures to intimidate, confuse, and make it much more difficult for poor people and minorities to vote, the vast majority of whom have been voting democratic in past elections. Surprise, surprise! These blatant attempts to keep people from exercising this fundamental American right are outrageous.
        Strenuous efforts are being made to register voters, but the process is so cumbersome that only a small percentage of the potentially disenfranchised can be registered in time for the election. Unless more courts act to overturn these restrictive laws that have been enacted on the pretext of preventing voter fraud, millions of Americans will be unable to participate in the forthcoming election.
        That is unconscionable, but have the two Republican standard bearers spoken out against what these states are doing? No way! They want to win by hook or by crook, and if they do win, that’s exactly how it will happen.

* * * * * * *


Jon Keller (c) moderates first debate between Republican
Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth
Warren.  Photo by Barry Chin, Boston Globe staff
       For incumbent Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown to start off his debate with his Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren by questioning her Native American roots, on the basis of her fair-skinned appearance, was akin to the birthers’ charge that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is disqualified to be President of the United States.
        Both charges are shamefully racist. Brown’s attack on his opponent’s heritage was compounded on Tuesday by a disgusting video featuring several members of his staff leading a sign-waving crowd of chanting war whoopers and tomahawk choppers, whose antics were as disparaging to all Native Americans as they were intended to be insulting to Professor Warren.
        When asked about it, Brown said it was something he didn’t condone, but then, instead of apologizing for his staff’s inappropriate behavior, he tacitly excused them by immediately accusing Professor Warren of being the real offender!
        Right-wing Republicans have been quick to join in the attack. But many others have rushed to Elizabeth Warren’s defense as well. They rightly point out that Warren never claimed to be a member (citizen) of a tribe. What she said was that she has Native American roots on her mother’s side, and the records have shown that to be true.
        It’s a sad state of affairs when a United States Senator has to make his opponent’s racial heritage the central focus of his argument against her.

* * * * * * *


September 25, 2012 - President Obama addresses the United
 Nations General Assembly - AP Photo by Seth Wening
        President Obama is on the campaign trail today in Ohio, a critical swing state, where his
opponent, Mitt Romney, is also campaigning.
       The President has been criticized for not meeting one-on-one with some of the foreign leaders who have gathered for the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, and for appearing on The View yesterday. Although he did address the Assembly, he left afterward to continue his campaign tour. It was obviously not an oversight but a well calculated decision based on his immediate priorities.
       Some of the President's supporters would have preferred he act "presidential" by meeting with as many of the other heads of state as feasible, thus putting the nation's foreign policy interests ahead of his personal political ambitions. They feel he would have won the respect of more voters by suspending his campaign schedule.
       Three points can be made in the President's defense: (a) he is very popular abroad and he has visited with and kept in close touch by phone with many of those leaders; (b) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is an able and highly respected surrogate, is meeting with those leaders in his behalf; and (c ) with the presidential election less than six weeks away, that has to be his number one political priority now. Whatever diplomatic damage to his international image might result from his opting out of any one-on-one meetings with other heads of state at this time is minimal compared to the potential disaster of a Romney presidency.
        The president has his priorities in order, and I’m sure the international leaders understand that. They're politicians, too!

* * * * * * *


        Mitt Romney has finally released his 2011 tax returns, and no one is at all surprised by what they reveal. In order to be consistent with his insisting that he has never paid less than 13%, he took less than the full deduction of his charitable donations, knowing he can deduct those unclaimed donations in future years. Had he claimed the full amount of his charitable deductions tax experts are saying his effective tax rate in 2011 would have been under 10%!
        In addition to that maneuver, there were pages and pages of tax shelters and off-shore tax havens. That, too, was to be expected.
        The timing of the release was well calculated to get the thorny topic out of the way now, so that it would not be a distraction in the final month of the campaign.
        The issue may not go away, however, because there are still too many unanswered questions, and Ann Romney’s fear that releasing more returns would only give their opponents more things to attack, was obviously well founded.
             Mr. Romney’s tax returns reveal his character, and his values. While his giving to his Mormon church is commendable, the rest of the picture is not pretty. It makes his candidly disparaging remarks about the 47% of Americans who don’t earn enough to pay any income tax all the more egregious.

* * * * * * *


      Mitt Romney has always been short on specifics as to how he would help low income Americans, if he is elected President. He has offered no plan, just platitudes.
        Now we understand why! It’s because he thinks that the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax are moochers who could never be convinced “to take responsibility and care for their lives.” So why waste his time worrying about a plan for them? They’re not going to vote for him anyway.
        The irony is that many of them are Republicans who would have voted for him, before they heard the disdainful remarks he made about them at a private $50,000-a-plate fund raiser. Now that they know how Romney really feels about them, they may well have second thoughts about voting for him.
        I should certainly hope so!

* * * * * * * 


      Everyone’s talking about the recently released video of Mitt Romney’s self-damaging comments about the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax, whom he accused of looking upon themselves as victims, of feeling entitled to health care, to food, to housing, and everything else.
         “My job is not to worry about those people,” he said, “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” As if all those people are lazy, good-for-nothing, moochers! What an outrageous insult to hard-working Americans whose income is insufficient to warrant their paying income taxes! Who wants a President who thinks like that?
         In disparaging nearly half of the American population, including many of his own supporters, especially seniors on fixed incomes, Romney has drawn harsh criticism even from conservatives like Bill Krystol, founding editor of The Weekdly Standard, and  New York Times columnist David Brooks.
         While I was having lunch yesterday with my daughter Ellen and her husband Mike, my son-in-law wondered if Romney was including himself among the 47% who pay no income taxes. A good question, given that many suspect that there have been years when Romney paid little or no income taxes. His refusal to reveal his tax returns only fuels that suspicion.
         If he isn’t in the 47%, one could argue that he certainly has aspired to be, given his manipulative moves to avoid paying taxes!
         Of course Romney was not thinking of himself, when he made those remarks, but it would be amusing if someone pointed out to him the irony of his broad-sweeping and totally inappropriate charge, especially when instead of apologizing for his gaffe, he has been attempting to justify it.
        Romney’s attitude toward the poor and to those less fortunate then himself is a stark reflection of the faulty theology that assumes that those who are poor deserve to be poor. “They aren’t taking “personal responsibility and care for their own lives.” Conversely, those who are rich deserve to be rich. “I built that business!”
        Mitt Romney and his super-rich friends like Sheldon Adelson need to take heed to Jesus’ words:  “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23).

* * * * * * *


        It has been said that it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought dumb, than to open it and remove all doubt.
        What an appropriate adage for Mitt Romney, who following the recent attacks against the American consulate in Benghazi and against the American Embassy in Cairo, opened his mouth and removed all doubt that he is not qualified to be President of the United States.
        His totally inappropriate remarks revealed not only that he knows nothing about foreign policy, but that he lacks the character, wisdom, and personal leadership to deal with an international crisis.
        For Romney to politicize such a tragedy at a time when America is under attack by Islamic extremists, and to criticize the President as he did, with his usual misrepresentation of the facts, was outrageous and inexcusable. He showed he has absolutely no understanding of the complexity of the situation.
        What a contrast between Romney’s blustering comments and the President’s thoughtfully worded response, which was appropriately forceful yet sensitively tactful. Secretary Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the State Department this morning were also brilliant, as she condemned the offensive video that triggered the attacks, while making it clear that the violence against our diplomatic personnel and property was totally unjustified and would not be tolerated. The killers will be brought to justice.
        Romney’s utter lack of diplomacy scares the living daylights out of me. The man is a threat to American’s best interests in the world. He shoots from the hip, without thought of the consequences of his blustering remarks. Even moderate Republicans at first were critical of the timing and the tone of his comments. Only a few ultra-conservatives came to his defense immediately. Rush Limbaugh, the Screamer, is on Romney’s side, of course. They deserve each other!
        I dread the thought of Mitt Romney as President of the United States. He is itching to get us into another war, and time and again his belligerent remarks have been irresponsibly dangerous to our national interests. Shame on him, and shame on those weak-kneed Republicans who are now excusing or defending his incompetence and his deceitfulness, even when confronted with facts that glaringly expose the falsity of his accusations against President Obama.
        But then what else can you expect from a Party that has lost its scruples?

* * * * * * *


        I have a Republican friend who hates Barack Obama. In an exchange of e-mails he has refused to acknowledge that President Obama has accomplished anything. He accuses the President of spending all his time playing golf and basketball and taking vacations.
        When I took strong exception to those charges, and pointed out some of the President’s many achievements, despite the unrelenting opposition of the Republicans, my friend wrote back, saying “I disagree and I don’t want to discuss it any further.”
        That is the attitude of too many Republicans, who simply refuse to face the facts. Their hatred of Barack Obama blinds them to the truth. They make some outlandish and totally unsupportable charge, and then close their ears. They will not listen to reason.
        It’s this closed-minded attitude that frustrates and annoys me and others who feel there is a strong case to make for electing the President to a second term, a case worthy of a fair-minded person’s serious attention. The disturbing reality is that my friend is not alone in his hardheadedness, and I believe that accounts for the closeness of the race, for there’s no logical or defensible argument for choosing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan over Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
        Another disturbing fact is that our Republican friends and neighbors do not express any consternation about the voter suppression laws of so many Republican state legislatures. They are content to have their Party steal the election, if their ultra-rich superPACS can’t buy it for them.
        This is a serious concern, and a sad state of affairs for our nation. After the Republican National Convention there is no doubt that the Party of No has become the Party of Lies. To think that the Grand Old Party should sink to such a low level!
        I’ve always considered myself an Independent, and I have voted for the persons I thought would be the best leaders for our country and for the world, regardless of their Party affiliation. That applied to local elections as well.
        But because of the way the Republicans have been behaving for the past four years, and the things they now stand for —their war on women’s rights and labor unions, their jingoistic foreign policy, their unfair tax policies, their determination to repeal the Affordable Care Act, their opposition to the American Jobs Act and to the Dream Act, their opposition to Welfare and their disregard of the poor, to name just a few — and their overall obstructionism that has put their partisan interests above the good of the nation, I have to say that as a Christian I would be embarrassed and ashamed to call myself a Republican.
       The Democrats aren’t perfect, by any means, but they stand for most of the things I believe in, while the Republicans stand for almost nothing I believe in. Even on the things they say that I agree with, their policies are not consistent with the things they say they believe in. Neither do Mr. Romney’s personal practices agree with the things he says he believes in.
        So in this election I’ll be voting a straight Democratic ticket. I hope enough others will do the same to send a clear message to the leadership of the G.O.P that they need to free themselves from the ideological shackles of the Tea Party and return to the main stream of American political discourse.

* * * * * * *


        As I predicted (What A Difference!) President Obama's approval rating got a nice bump following the Democratic Convention. The Gallup Poll reported a seven-point boost over his pre-convention rating.
        Many factors combined to produce the positive result, including especially powerful speeches by keynoter Julian Castor and First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday night, Massachusetts Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, women's reproductive rights activist Sandra Fluke, and former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday night, and Senator John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Barack Obama on Friday night, and many others. The speakers were on target and well-coordinated, and the cumulative effect was an  impressively persuasive case for the reelection of the President.
        The positive, upbeat tone throughout the convention and the genuine enthusiasm of the delegates were contagious, and hitherto undecided viewers were obviously favorably impressed, as reflected in the bump in the President's approval rating. It was considerable higher than the pundits were predicting, given the minimal effect of the Republican Convention on Mitt Romney's approval rating.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak 
         For me the most inspirational moment of the entire convention was when former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, accompanied by Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, walked out on stage to lead the delegates in the Pledge of Allegiance. Still recovering from the effects of the assassination attempt that nearly took her life in January, 2011, she was greeted by shouts of "Gabby! Gabby!," as she waved to her admiring audience.      
         I'm sure that the Pledge of Allegiance has never had a greater emotional impact on those who joined her in the Pledge that night. There weren't many dry eyes in the convention hall as she spoke the words, and I dare say among those watching at home, including yours truly.

* * * * * * *


      After watching the final night of the Democratic National Convention, I repeat even more emphatically what I wrote in my blogpost following the first night: what a difference between this week and last week!
DLM Press. Pacific Coast News.com
        To all the reasons I gave for saying how much more inspirational, uplifting, positive, and substantive the Democratic Convention was than the Republican Convention, let me add another difference that occurred to me after watching the last two nights. It was the difference in the way the delegates at the two conventions looked at their respective candidates.
        The expressions on their faces told it all. The DNC delegates were genuinely inspired by President Obama. They looked at him with obvious affection, respect, pride, and gratitude. They hung on every word, and they nodded in agreement and expressed their approval with vigorous enthusiasm.
        I didn’t see that same spontaneous affection, respect, pride, and gratitude on the faces of the  RNC delegates. Their enthusiasm seemed somewhat hollow to me. It was as if they were trying to make themselves like their candidate, as if they were listening for things they could agree with, especially Mr. Romney’s attacks on the President.
        I said in my earlier post, there was a positive thrust to the DNC, whereas the tone of the RNC was much more negative. The faces of the delegates at the two conventions seemed to reflect that difference, but I admit that observation might have been influenced by my own
reactions to the two speakers.
        Last night Bill Clinton skillfully answered every one the Republican false charges against the President. Tonight John Kerry gave a brilliant tribute to the President’s foreign policy, leaving no doubt as to who is the more qualified person to be the commander-in-chief of our armed forces and to handle our nation’s international affairs. Vice President Joe Biden’s acceptance speech was a powerful testimony to the President’s leadership and to the personal qualities he has most admired about Barack Obama after working with him so closely during their first term in office.
       The various speakers were well coordinated and they set the stage perfectly for the President, whose acceptance speech more than lived up to everyone’s high expectations. I can’t imagine how any truly open-minded person, after watching both conventions, could fail to choose Barack Obama and Joe Biden over Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

* * * * * * * 


       Having watched the Republican National Convention and now the first night of the Democratic National Convention, my immediate reaction is, what a difference!
        The speakers tonight had far more substance and their tone was far more positive than that of their Republican counterparts. The Republicans spent more time criticizing President Obama than they did praising Mitt Romney. The Democrats were just the opposite. They spent most of their time praising the President and making the case for his reelection.
       There was a highly visible difference in the make-up of the attendance at the two conventions as well. The inclusiveness and diversity of the Democratic delegates was in marked contrast to the almost totally white Republican audience. It was exciting to see a microcosm of America tonight!
        I should mention one other important difference. There was something electric and exciting in the air at DCN. The delegates were much more emotionally involved, it seemed to me. Their enthusiasm was palpable, and they responded empathetically to the speakers.The Republicans were loudest when their speakers were negative about their opponent. The Democrats were loudest when the speakers were positive about their candidate!
        The effect was inspirational. It was a great start for the Democrats, and with some excellent speakers yet to come, including former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Obama himself, I'm going to be glued to my television set. If  the speakers can maintain the same high level in terms of style and substance for the next two nights, I'll be surprised if the President doesn't get a bigger boost in the polls following the convention than the Republican candidate did following the RNC.
        That's assuming there are enough independents and swing voters still left out there to make a difference.       

* * * * * * *


        The Republicans are asking the wrong question, and the Democrats need to make that point.
        The question is not, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  The question should be, “Is our nation better off now than it was four years ago?” The answer to the latter question is a resounding YES!

        Our nation is moving in the right direction. Even though unemployment is still far too high, for the past twenty-seven months istead of losing jobs, we are gaining jobs. Thanks to the stimulus, more than four million private sector jobs have been created. Many small businesses have been helped.
        The housing market is improving; home prices are rising.
        Thanks to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, women are now getting equal pay for equal work.
        The American auto industry was on the verge of collapse and is now thriving again.
        So, too, a major financial crisis was averted by the Wall Street bailout. The Stock market is flourishing. The Dow Jones Average is nearly double what it was four years ago.
        With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than thirty million previously uninsured Americans now have health care coverage, and millions more are benefitting or will soon be benefitting from its other provisions. Because of the Affordable Care Act, the life of Medicare has been extended by at least eight years, at no increase in cost to individuals.
        As to international relations, we are far better off than we were four years ago. The war in Iraq has ended. The end of the war in Afghanistan is in sight. Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization, and many of his henchmen have been eliminated. Al Qaeda, while still a threat, is far less so now than four years ago. America’s place of leadership and respect in the community of nations has been restored.
        These are only a few of the reasons why our nation is better off now than it was four years ago, and if our nation is better off, then everyone is better off, even those who are unemployed, for there is more hope for their future now.
        That is, unless the Republicans win the election and take us back to where we were four years ago!

* * * * * * *


        I've always enjoyed Clint Eastwood's movies, but I didn't enjoy Clint at the RNC Thursday night.
        He looked seedy and unkempt, and his slurred speech and the way he stumbled over his words, made me wonder if he'd had too much to drink before he appeared.
        I don't think I'm the only one who thought his routine was totally inappropriate. Some of the delegates enjoyed his raw humor, but others, including Ann Romney, seemed uncomfortable with it.
        The Republicans had a grand time bashing the President, but no one, not even "Make my day" Clint, has the right to be so disrespectful of the President of the United States. Had the President actually been sitting in the chair, Eastwood would not have had the guts or the gall to address him that way.
        For the movie actor/director to respond to his imaginary conversationalist in a manner that suggested Barack Obama would use the kind of foul language Eastwood made it perfectly clear he was using, was offensive, and those who laughed at it were just as disgusting to me.
        Eastwood's unscripted routine was an embarrassment to the program planners, who have been trying hard to put their best spin on it. The not-such-a-mystery guest speaker displaced the video that would have set the stage for the Man of the Hour, Mitt Romney. Not only that, it wasted a valuable chunk of prime time television, when the networks were covering the convention. 
        Because Eastwood ignored the clock, Senator Marco Rubio had to rush through his lengthy introduction of Governor Romney, who in turn appeared later than he was supposed to. The next morning the blogosphere was buzzing with comments not about Romney's acceptance speech, but about Eastwood's weird performance.
        The devil in me wants to say to the Republicans, "It serves you right!" But the better part of me rues the fact that millions of viewers had to be exposed to such a distasteful exhibition by the iconic Clint Eastwood.

PS Now it has been revealed (see this morning's NY Times front page article) that it was Candidate Romney himself who invited Eastwood to speak, following the actor's endorsement of Romney at a campaign fund raiser in Idaho earlier this summer. Romney's top aides, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, provided the talking points for Eastwood, who chose his own way to present them, ignoring in the process the blinking red signal to stop. Need we say more?

* * * * * * *


        There was only one thing missing from the Republican National Convention---the truth!
        I was hoping that tonight would be different, but it wasn't. I heard the same old lies, the same misrepresentations, and, of course, the same unsubstantiated claims and promises without specifics.
        Having heard the speeches of all of the attack dogs, I was expecting the presidential candidate to rise above his usual negative rhetoric and present his softer, more likable side. Tonight's program, we were told by the analysts, was to help those present and those watching at home to know the real Mitt Romney.
        The culmination of the orchestrated effort was to be the candidate's acceptance speech.  
I would have to say the planners achieved their purpose. Only it turns out that the real Mitt Romney is the Mitt Romney we've been watching and listing to throughout this campaign!
        The real Mitt Romney does not tell the truth, even after his prevarications have been publicly exposed. If the real Mitt Romney cannot be trusted now, how could we trust him as President of the United States?

* * * * * * *


      If only there could have been a true prophet at the RNC to stand up and ask, "Is there a truthful Republican in the house?"
        (to which I would have been tempted to add, "or in the Senate?")
        Will there be a truthful speaker at the RNC? Probably not, there hasn't been so far, and we haven't even heard from Mitt Romney yet!
        The speeches have been filled with half truths and outright falsehoods. To be sure, to varying degrees of effectiveness, they are revving up the crowd. Paul Ryan's speech last night gave them all the red meat they wanted. To be sure, they have every right to declare their differences with the current administration, to criticize its programs and policies, and to poke fun at their opponents. That's politics, and the Republicans are good at it.
        But what they say should bear some resemblance to the truth, and when their words are blatantly inconsistent with their records, that's utterly deceitful and hypocritical. As to be expected, the speakers have consistently misrepresented the President ("he wants to eliminate the work requirement for welfare recipients"), lied about him ("he robbed Medicare of $716 billion to pay for Obamacare"), and quoted him out of context ("he told business owners, 'You didn't build your business'"). The fact checkers are having a field day!
        Ann Romney charmed the delegates Tuesday night. Her love for and belief in her husband was obvious and sincere. She assured her audience that her husband "is a man you can trust!" But I was wondering, as she said that, how can I trust a man who doesn't tell the truth, who is constantly changing his story, whose professed financial policies are not consistent with his personal practices, whose refusal to reveal his income tax returns makes many people wonder what he's hiding, and who is either unable or unwilling to give a straight answer to a direct question, especially one having to do with his "plan" for saving the American economy?
        The Republicans accept no blame for the fact that they have consistently opposed every piece of legislation designed to help solve the very problems they're complaining about, e.g., the American Jobs Act, which was the President's plan for putting people back to work.  As I have said in previous blog posts, don't blame the President, blame the Republicans! They would rather let the country suffer than help Barack Obama succeed..Their stated goal was make him a one-term President. So now they are savoring the opportunity to blame the President for all of America's problems.
        The Democrats will have their opportunity next week to set the record straight at their own convention. They have one huge advantage over the Republicans: they don't have to lie! The facts are on their side.

* * * * * * *


Photo by Catherine Vail 

        President Obama has been criticized, in my view often unfairly, for failing to keep some of his campaign promises. You will hear it at the Republican national convention. I say unfairly for three reasons. The Republicans make it sound as if he deliberately ignored his promises, as if his promises were lies, in other words. That is totally unfair. There is a huge difference between sincere but unfulfilled goals and deliberately misstated intentions.
        The second reason the criticism is unfair is that most of the blame for what has not been accomplished lies not with President but with the Republicans, who have opposed whatever he proposed. Their intention from the start was to prevent the President from succeeding. Their publicly stated goal was to make him “a one-term President.”
        So if the job rate is higher than it should be, blame the Republicans who prevented passage of the American Jobs Act. If the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes, blame the Republicans who filibustered the bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class but not for those making more than $250,000 a year. If comprehensive immigration reform has not happened, blame the Senate Republicans for filibustering the Dream Act. If the Affordable Care Act has flaws in it, blame the Republicans whose proposals were incorporated in the Democrats’ compromising effort to gain bi-partisan support for the legislation. Yet even when they got what they insisted upon, the Republicans still refused to vote for a plan that would provide healthcare coverage and service for millions of hitherto uninsured Americans.
        The third reason it is an unfair criticism is that it ignores all that has already been accomplished during President Obama’s first term, despite the persistent opposition of the Republicans. Rather than my listing them here I suggest you do a Google search on “President Obama’s Accomplishments” and read for yourself any one of the impressive documented lists of his incredibly wide-ranging achievements. If you are not amazed, I’ll be amazed!
        A case could be made that President Obama in his first term has accomplished as much as if not more than any other President. I’m not overlooking the historic achievements of Abraham Lincoln (the Emancipation Proclamation), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the New Deal), and of other great Presidents. But none of them had to face as many different challenges at once as Barack Obama, who inherited a huge national debt, a staggering budget deficit, a collapsing financial industry, a bankrupt auto industry, dependence on foreign oil, an urgent need for immigration reform and health care reform, the sticky issue of the military's controversial "don't ask don't tell" policy, an alarmingly high unemployment rate, a stagnate housing market, a tarnished American image in the international community,  an unprecedented outsourcing of jobs to China and India, and an on-going threat of international terrorism —plus two enormously costly wars!
         In addition to these inherited problems, he has been faced with the negative impact of failing European economies, the threat of rogue nations like North Korea and Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, the violent clashes between the despotic governments of several Arab nations and their citizens struggling for freedom and democracy, and here at home the disastrous effects of the increasingly violent storms resulting from climate change. He leads a nation divided by extremely controversial issues like abortion, same sex marriage, suppressive voter identification requirements and repressive public employee union measures by Republican state legislatures, and issues relating to welfare, Medicare, public education, and environmental protection (e.g., the use of  hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale, the Keystone pipeline, and off shore drilling).
        During President Obama’s first year in office the success rate for his administrations’s legislative proposals was an astounding 96.7%! That was when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. When the Republicans regained control of the House, it was a different story. They were determined to see him fail. 
        Given the total lack of cooperation and persistently unanimous opposition he has faced from the Republicans, it is remarkable how much President Obama has been able to accomplish in less than four years. The passage of the Affordable Care Act, which no other President had been able to accomplish, was a gigantic achievement. So was his economic stimulus package which has created more than four million private sector jobs. But the Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and they refuse to acknowledge the benefits of the stimulus, even when their own districts have been helped by it!
        Most Americans were excited about having elected our first African American President, and we felt sorry that he had to take office under circumstances that could have doomed any President to failure. But Barack Obabma has more than met the challenge.  He has done amazingly well. He is not perfect. No one is. He has not achieved all of his goals. No fair-minded person could have reasonably expected him to. But he has done much more than his opponents give him credit for and he does not deserve the unfair and deceitfully misleading criticism he has received. He is leading the country in the right direction, and he has been a calming, reassuring influence in time of national crisis.
        I hope people will keep these things in mind, when they’re deciding for whom to vote in this election. Rabid Republicans won’t, because they are too filled with hate. But for fair-minded, truly independent voters, who genuinely care about the future of our country, it should be an easy choice. Barack Obama has proven himself to be a consistently thoughtful leader. His focus is clear. His Republican opponent, on the other hand, has shown himself to be an evasive flip-flopper.

      The metaphor that best describes the difference between the two candidates is this: Barack Obama is an arrow pointing the way. Mitt Romney is a weathervane blown by the winds of whatever audience he is appealing to at the moment.
        America needs an arrow not a weathervane in the White House.

* See article entitled CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT, posted August 30, 2014

* * * * * * *


        Mitt Romney got a big laugh out of his audience at a rally in suburban Detroit yesterday, when after commenting that he and his wife were born in Michigan, he quipped "No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
        The crowd clearly got the implied reference to the birthers' demand to see Barack Obama's birth certificate on the presumption that he was not born in the United States and consequently has no right to hold the office of President. Romney supporter Donald Trump and his ilk continue to harp on this theme, despite the fact that the President has released his long form birth certificate.
"No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate"!
        It was a calculated zinger, but when asked why he would make such a statement, Romney told CBS evening news anchor Scott Pelley that he was only joking. "And humor, you know ---we've got to have a little humor in a campaign." Romney assured Pelley that he believed the President was born in America and had every right to be President, but the joke was sure to appeal to the "birthers," whose support he needs in the forthcoming election.
        Romney's remark illustrates a point I made in a poem I wrote several years ago. It is entitled JUST KIDDING and is based on this saying from the Book of Proverbs: "Like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows, so is one who deceives a neighbor and says, 'I am only joking'" (Proverbs 26:18-19, NRSV).

If you want folks
to like your jokes,
yourself of friends not ridding,
it doesn't pay
to sting, and say  
"But I was only kidding!"

Time and again
some rascals when
their hurtful fun are poking,
employ that ruse!
It's no excuse
to say, "I'm only joking!"

(from  If I Do Say So Myself)

* * * * * * *


Click on the link below for a thoughtful, thorough, non-partisan view of the forthcoming presidential debates. There is one important omission in the article, however. There is no mention of the fact that Mitt Romney has been lying and contradicting himself throughout this campaign. President Obama will be standing on the high ground in these debates, and that is a huge advantage, for he will have a face-to-face opportunity to confront his opponent and hold him accountable for his many deliberately misleading statements. Mr. Romney has been falsely attacking the President throughout his campaign. The President can turn the tables in the debates and put his opponent on the defense. I'm assuming the format of the debates will give him that opportunity.  We should all be watching to see if the debate moderators will ask questions that enable such a confrontation.

* * * * * * *


Never in my entire life have I witnessed a more dishonest presidential campaign than that which the Republicans are running this year.
Believe the opposite of what they say!
Romney and Ryan, whose plan would destroy Medicare as we know it, are accusing the President, whose plan will prolong the life of Medicare, of destroying Medicare! That’s their karlrovian approach! The President’s plan has reduced the cost not the benefits of Medicare by 716 billion dollars, by eliminating excessive payments to insurance companies and health care providers.
Yet the Republican candidates are accusing the President of robbing Medicare of that amount in order to pay for the Affordable Care Act. That’s the dickcheyneyan principle: If you tell a lie often enough people will believe it.
So, too, with their total misrepresentation of the President’s welfare program, which they say has no work requirement. That is an outright lie, but they keep saying it. They want people to believe the exact opposite of the truth. They should not be allowed to get away with such deliberate falsehoods!

Back to the Medicare issue. The Romney/Ryan team wants to institute a voucher system, which would be disastrous for seniors, of whom I am one. I don’t know what my wife and I would do without Medicare. The vast majority of seniors are happy with Medicare the way it is. Those who are not are being hoodwinked into thinking the President wants to change Medicare, when it is his program that is protecting it!
Romney and Ryan want to restore the $715 billion in Medicare savings “that Obama stole.” According to independent research analysts, to do that would increase the premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by several hundred dollars a year!  But that doesn’t stop the Romney team from perpetuating their falsehoods.
  As the benefits of the Affordable Care Act are kicking in, there are more and more beneficiaries of the system to call the lie to the Republican anti-Obamacare rhetoric, rhetoric that is all the more reprehensible because they have no real plan of their own to replace it! The President has acknowledged that the new law has some wrinkles that need to be ironed out, and his administration is perfectly willing to work with the Republicans to refine the program as needed. But even as the law now stands, millions of Americans are already benefiting from the Act’s provisions, and millions more will benefit in the future.
Barack Obama was able to accomplish what no other President before him was able to do. Romney’s vow to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office should be reason enough for seeing that he never gets to be President!
But an even more important reason is Romney’s lack of trustworthiness. I want a President I can trust! If we can’t believe what Romney says as a candidate, how could we believe what he says as President? I’m not referring to the usual political hyperbole. That’s to be expected. I’m referring to his outright lies and deliberate misrepresentations of the facts.
I repeat: Romney has run the most dishonest campaign I’ve ever witnessed.
* * * * * * *


         In my previous post I talked about voter suppression and deplored the failure of any Republicans to speak out against it.
         It would be too much to expect Mitt Romney to oppose it. He has everything to gain if his supporters can steal the election by hook or by crook. His campaign has lacked integrity from the start. He will say or do anything to get elected. His team strategy is obvious: find a way to deny or denounce, distort or misrepresent every accomplishment of the Obama administration.
        Witness the most recent Republican misleading documercial featuring some retired Navy SEALs criticizing the President for “taking credit’ for getting rid of Osama bin Laden. CNN investigated and found that the makers of the film have strong ties to the G.O.P.! The film completely distorts the facts. The Republicans are clever at that!
         When non-partisan, independent researchers point out their discrepancies, as in the case of their misrepresentation of the facts relating to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, it doesn’t seem to bother the Romney/Ryan team one bit. They go on repeating the same lies.
         To be sure, both sides are on the attack. But there’s a huge difference between them in terms of both style and substance. The President has not quoted his opponent out of context, or misrepresented his opponent's positions. He has not indulged in the kind of personal attacks to which he himself has been subjected. Nor has he lied about his own accomplishments.
         With regard to Mr. Romney's income tax returns, the President has asked for no more than he himself has already provided. He has never questioned Mitt Romney's faith, or his patriotism, or even his success as a venture capitalist.
         I applaud the Obama team for keeping to the high ground and sticking to the facts!

* * * * * * *


        The Romney team has distanced themselves from Republican Rep. Todd Akin’s totally inappropriate and offensively sexist attempt in an interview two days ago to justify banning all abortions, based on his distinction between what he called “legitimate” rape and what he implied was consensual rape. The former, he argued, never results in pregnancy because the body of a woman who is forcibly raped blocks it! Therefore, by implication, any time a pregnancy results, the woman must have enjoyed it.
        Responding to the backlash from his remarks, Akin has since said he “mis-spoke,” but the damage was done. Members of his own party are demanding that he withdraw as the Republican nominee in the Missouri senatorial campaign. Their concern is political not moral. They're worried about the adverse political fall-out, not about women's rights.
        The truth is that Akin was simply representing the general opposition of ultra-conservative Republicans to abortion under any circumstances, a view shared by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who co-sponsored a bill that declared life begins at conception and defined a fertilized egg as a person. Fortunately the bill never made it to the House floor.  In his fourteen years in Congress Ryan has consistently voted against abortion rights. “I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” he declared in a 2010 magazine interview. Now here he is pretending to be offended by a Republican colleague who was trying to justify the view they both hold about abortion!
        As for Romney, it should be noted that he, too, has expressed his support for an amendment defining personhood as beginning at conception. The inconsistency of his and Ryan’s denunciation of Rep. Akin, given their own similar views on the subject, is another example of their flagrant hypocrisy.
        The Republican war on women’s rights continues, and it is thoroughly consistent with their opposition to and misrepresentation of the Affordable Care Act, which gives women greater control over their health care and free access to several new preventive services.
        Again I ask, why would any thinking woman want to vote for Romney and Ryan?      

* * * * * * *


        In my previous post I talked about voter suppression and deplored the failure of any Republicans to speak out against it.
        It would be too much to expect Mitt Romney to oppose it. He has everything to gain if his supporters can steal the election by hook or by crook. His campaign has lacked integrity from the start. He will say or do anything to get elected. His team strategy is obvious: find a way to deny or denounce, distort or misrepresent every accomplishment of the Obama administration.
        Witness the most recent Republican TV ad featuring some retired Navy SEALs criticizing the President for “taking credit’ for getting rid of Osama bin Laden. CNN investigated and found that the makers of the ad have strong ties to the G.O.P.! The ad completely distorts the facts. The Republicans are clever at that!
         When non-partisan, independent researchers point out their discrepancies, as in the case of the misrepresentation of the facts relating to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, it doesn’t seem to bother the Romney/Ryan team one bit. They go on repeating the same lies.
         To be sure, both sides are on the attack. But there’s a huge difference between them in terms of both style and substance. I applaud the Obama team for keeping to the high ground and sticking to the facts!

* * * * * * *


       The sinister laws of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and other states aimed at suppressing people’s right to vote on the pretext of preventing voter fraud are a flagrant violation of the fundamental principle of American democracy.
AP Photo
        It is no accident that these unwarranted attacks on voters’ rights are occurring in Republican states and the victims are primarily the poor, the elderly, young adults, college students, African Americans, and other minorities, people who have traditionally voted Democratic.
        In what was, in my view, a travesty of justice Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, upheld the state’s voter identification law. He refused to grant an injunction to stop the law because he saw no evidence that it would lead to disenfranchisement!
        Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai praised the decision. Why not, when he had previously boasted at a meeting of the Republican State Committee that the passage of the voter ID law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” The law threatens the voting rights of some 750,000 Pennsylvanians!          
        I would like to think that there are some fair-minded Republicans who are appalled by the efforts of Republican-controlled state legislatures to restrict voters’ rights by passing laws designed to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, namely voter fraud. Independent studies have consistently shown that individual voter impersonation is practically non-existent.
        Voter fraud is a fraud! Are there any Republicans who are honest enough to speak up and speak out against what’s going on in their own party? Shame on them for not doing so!


        The Republicans are resorting to their usual strategy, based on the principle that if you tell a lie often enough and loudly enough, people will start to believe it. Couple that with their karlrovian tactic of accusing their opponent of the very things of which they themselves are guilty and you have a perfect description of the Romney/Ryan approach.
AP Photo by Evan Vucci
          The Republican candidates knew they are on the losing side of the Medicare debate.  So they have decided to go on the attack by completely misrepresenting what the President did. They are accusing Mr. Obama of “robbing” Medicare of 716 billion dollars to help pay for the Affordable Care Act, when in reality that money represents the amount taxpayers have been saved by reductions in excessive payments to insurance companies and health care providers. Despite the fact that there have been absolutely no reductions in Medicare benefits, the Republicans are trying to scare Americans into thinking there are! The audacity of these two arch opponents of Obamacare accusing the President of wanting to kill Medicare! Disagreement is one thing; misrepresenting your opponent’s words and actions is despicable.
          Another example: In his first week as the Vice Presidential candidate Ryan has been denouncing the stimulus as a failure, even though he himself took advantage of if for his own Congressional district, arguing that it would create much needed jobs for his constituents. When the inconsistency was pointed out to him in several press interviews, he at first denied having appealed for stimulus funds. Then he said it was not he, it was members of his staff who did it! But when confronted with copies of letters he himself  had signed, he had to eat his words rather awkwardly.
          Then there’s Romney's flip-flopping on the Ryan budget.  If it were not so reprehensible, Romney’s awkward efforts to embrace and to distance himself at the same time from his running mate’s Medicare "plan" would be comical. Romney goes whichever way is convenient at the time.
          Both Romney and Ryan want to give tax breaks to the wealthy and they want to spend more money on defense, but neither one of them tells how they will pay for it. That’s another one of their strategic principles: never be specific. Romney has avoided giving direct answers to direct questions throughout his campaign. He embodies the belief that the best defense is a good offense. So the M.O. is to just to attack your opponent. Turn every answer into an attack against the President. Attack, attack, attack! And then accuse your opponent of attacking you unfairly!
          Romney continues to refuse to reveal his income tax returns. Instead he announces that he was able to review them and found that he had never paid less than 13%. “You’ll just have to trust me on that!”  Why should we trust a man who has lied about everything else?
Paul Ryan
          And what does that 13% represent? Was that just his income tax bracket, or did it include other taxes, in which case his income tax percentage would be even lower. But what if he did pay 13% of his income, are we supposed to be favorably impressed with that? Even his running mate paid a higher rate than that, as did most Americans with far lower incomes.
          Romney would not accept the Obama campaign’s offer to cease demanding he release more returns if he would agree to release just the last five years of his returns. The Republican candidate had called the interest in his tax returns “a diversion”; now he labels those who think he should release his returns “small-minded.” That would include two-thirds of the American public, who have indicated their belief that he should do so. It is hardly a minor issue, when the returns would indicate much about Mr. Romney’s personal and business practices, as well as his moral values.
          Despite all these problems, Mitt Romney is running neck and neck with the President in the national polls. That is a sad commentary on the rationality of those Americans whose partisan
loyalties blind them to the truth. The sad fact is that too many Americans buy into the lies of the Republicans, who never acknowledge the many accomplishments of President Obama, despite their adamant refusal to support his proposals, even things they once agreed with. To them the facts are irrelevant.
          In the campaign's raging rhetorical war Mr. Obama has one great advantage: he doesn’t need to lie! He can stick to the facts. The Romney/Ryan team will have a much harder time keeping their story straight, because they’re always having to change it. 

* * * * * * *


       Mitt Romney introduced his running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, this morning in Norfolk, Virginia, before an enthusiastic, flag-waving crowd. For the moment at least that will turn the discussion away from Mr. Romney’s business and personal financial practices!
          I was struck by the remarkable incongruity of the scene: two candidates who have never served in the armed services standing in front of the battleship Wisconsin, mouthing platitudes about truth, character, and restoring America’s greatness.
          It will be interesting to follow the political fall-out from what many pundits have been saying would be a risky choice for Romney, who, although he had already indicated his support for the Ryan budget, has now clearly shown his commitment to protecting the wealthy at the expense of poor and middle class Americans.
          Romney’s rhetoric never conforms to the facts, and his deeds certainly don’t match his words. The demand for him to release his tax returns is overshadowed at the moment, but it will not go away until he complies.
          I wonder if his newly chosen running mate will advise him to do so.

* * * * * * *


         In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday Mitt Romney said he wanted an agreement with the Obama campaign to talk about issues and to stop “attacks based upon business, or family, or taxes, or things of that nature,” which the Republican candidate feels are just a diversion.
          What an amazing suggestion coming from a man who has based his presidential aspirations on his business experience! Indeed, he claims to be more qualified to be President of the United States than the man who has held the office for three and a half years. If that’s his claim, it is hardly a diversion to examine his credentials.
          And since when is tax policy not an issue? It’s a key issue in this election, and because it is, it is hardly a diversion to question the personal practices of the person who has so much to say about it, though unlike every other presidential candidate he refuses to reveal his own tax returns, even at the urging of his own supporters.
          With his off-shore accounts and excessive use of tax loopholes Romney exemplifies the unfair advantages of the wealthy, whom he wants to protect from paying their fair share of taxes. That is not only an issue, it is a major distinction between the two political parties.
          Furthermore, if Mr. Romney wants to stop the speculation about his income taxes, why doesn’t he reveal his returns, as even many Republicans think he should do? What is he hiding?
          It is ironic that the presumptive candidate, who refuses to give specific answers to specific questions and who speaks only in generalities and platitudes, should demand that the President, who has clearly articulated his policies and plans, should stick to the issues.
          Governor Romney’s complaint indicates that the Obama campaign’s message is hitting the mark. From the day he announced his candidacy Romney has been attacking President Obama, and never have I seen a candidate more unfairly and deceitfully misrepresent his opponent.
          The difference between the President’s rhetoric and that of his opponent is the difference between fact and fiction.

* * * * * * *


          The Republicans talk about this election as a referendum on the failed policies of the Obama administration. I don’t know why the Democrats let them get away with that. If this election is a referendum, it should be on the Republicans in Congress who have blocked every proposal from the White House, like the American Jobs Act, which would have produced two million jobs in the first year.
          And they’re trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as more and more of its provisions are beginning to take effect. The Democrats need to do a much better job of helping the American people to understand who’s to blame for our economic ills.
          The polls indicate that the forthcoming election will be close. That’s exasperating to me, given President Obama’s thoughtful, intelligent, logical,  factual, yes and presidential style, compared to Mitt Romney’s non-specific, non-factual, frothy platitudes. Because of his experience at Bain Capital Romney claims to be more qualified to be President of the United States than the man who has been President for going on four years!
          The thought of Mitt Romney’s  being President is frightening. How can so many people not see him for what he is? How can they trust a consummate liar who refuses to reveal his income tax returns? What is he hiding?
          The “birthers,” the conspiracy fanatics, and other  right-wing hate mongers, despise President Obama. Why? He hasn’t done anything to deserve the kind of hatred and disrespect that so many people have for him. In my view it is racist through and through,
although the perpetrators deny that.
          But their rhetoric betrays them. They absolutely refuse to give the President any credit for all the good things he has accomplished. They impugn his motives, malign his integrity, question his faith, deny his patriotism. Never in my lifetime have I seen a President of the United States treated with such disrespect and contempt.
For all these reasons I hope Mr. Obama wins the forthcoming elections by a substantial majority and that the margin of victory will send a loud and clear message that America does not tolerate the kind of bigotry we are seeing from the far right.

* * * * * * *


Mr. Romney’s diplomatic gaffes
were blunders much too serious for laughs.
The kind of statesmanship that Mitt displayed
should really make Americans afraid
about the kind of President he’d make.
It would be much too great a risk to take!
Add to his goofs his flip-flops and his lies —
these are the things about Mitt folks despise

* * * * * * *


(Sing along, you know the tune!)

Yankee Romney went to London
just to help his image
but he made so many goofs
he did himself much dimage.

Yankee Romney messed it up,
acting like a dandy.
Stuck his rich foot in his mouth
and found it wasn’t candy.

Yankee Romney went to London
to impress the British,
but because he flubbed the dub
his reputation skiddish.

Yankee Romney messed it up,
acting like a dandy,
as a self-styled diplomat
he surely wasn’t handy.

* * * * * * *


       After listening to the news reports today and this evening of the horrible massacre that took place last night in the Century 16 Cinema in Aurora, Colorado, I am struggling to sort out the conflict of emotions that are flooding my mind and heart.
         There is first and foremost the shock of hearing of another mass killing, with twelve dead and 58 injured, many critically, only fifteen miles from Littleton, Colorado, where the Columbine High School massacre took pace in 1999. The shock is accompanied by the heartfelt grief and sympathy that I share with the rest of the nation for the victims, their families and friends, their neighbors, their communities, and all whose lives have been so brutally shattered by this tragedy.
         Every such tragedy is also for me and all persons of faith a reminder of the preciousness and precariousness of life, which is a gift we can never take for granted. We can better feel the wrenching pain of the Aurora victims’ families, when we imagine ourselves or our own loved ones in such a situation. It reminds us that we ought to be constantly thanking God for the gift of life, and for every new day we have on this earth.
       There is also, of course, a gnawing bewilderment about the alleged killer, 24-year-old James Holmes. Why would he do such a thing? And how could he have accumulated such an armory of weapons without anyone’s noticing?  What could have been done to prevent such a dreadful event, and what does the repeated occurrence of such terrible calamities tell us about our society?
         As these and similar thoughts crowd my mind, I am becoming more and more concerned about the increasing level of violence in our society. It is reflected in the discourse of political extremists. It is reflected in our cultural tastes. Why should we be surprised by these acts of violent behavior, when we consider the kinds of movies most Americans flock to see, and kinds of shows they watch every night on their television screens?
         And why should we be surprised that there are so many shootings, when so many Americans demand the right to own a hand gun, let alone assault weapons? Fueled by the rhetoric of the National Rifle Association and their hip-pocket politicians, the public has bought the idea that efforts to regulate or restrict the right of private citizens to own such weapons is a violation of the Second Amendment.
         I have long disagreed with the NRA’s interpretation of that much abused amendment, which was intended to assure the existence of an easily recruited militia, but which is now being applied, in my view, in a way that was totally unintended by the framers of our Constitution. It reads follows:

         “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the                    people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

         In two landmark 5 to 4 decisions, District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and Parker v. District of Columbia in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to possess a firearm for lawful purposes, including self-protection in one’s home. "Swing vote" Justice Kennedy sided with conservative Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas against the strong opposition of Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer.
         So in casting around for persons to blame for the escalating number of deaths each year involving firearms, don’t forget to include those five Supreme Court Justices whose rulings opened the floodgates to the possession of weapons in the home.
         But that’s a complicated subject into which I do not care to delve at this time. Suffice it to say that in my view there are too many guns in the possession of far too many persons, resulting in far too many shootings, both accidental and intentional, coolly calculated and spur-of-the moment.
Where there is a gun, there is always the danger of its being used in a moment of rage. There is a beast of fury in most of us, always ready to rear its ugly head and take control of our actions. Witness how easily drivers can succumb to road rage.
         In my view it is far to easy to acquire firearms, including AK47s and other assault weapons. I am not denying people’s right to hunt as local laws permit, although I myself could take no delight in killing animals for sport. Nor am I happy about the number of hunting accidents that occur every year. Where there are guns there will be accidents, right Mr. Cheney?
         I don’t own a gun. I never have, I never will. My wife Margie would not allow it in our home if I did!  I hope as the result of this most recent massacre there will be some sensible discussion of these issues in an effort to avoid such catastrophes in the future.
         The trouble is that, as with so many hot-button issues, people’s feelings on both sides are so intense that it is difficult to have a sensible discussion. Some right-wing fanatics might get angry enough to shoot someone they view as a threat to their cause! So those who want much tighter restrictions and regulations better not push too hard., Remember, the N.R.A. and their supporters have all the guns!    
         Forgive the dark humor; it’s too scary to be funny.

* * * * * * *


       Senator Mitch McConnell, who once favored legislation that required the disclosure of  the source of  large contributions to political campaigns, now opposes any such legislation. So he and his Republican colleagues filibustered again yesterday, thus successfully preventing the passage of the Disclose Act of 2012. The Act would have required the campaigns to report the source of any gift of $10,000 or more.
         No matter how they try to spin their actions, there is no legitimate excuse for not passing this Act. The American people have the right to know where the SuperPAC millions are coming from, but the Republicans don't want us to know who the fat cats are that are trying buy this election, and to whom they will be beholden.
         Their action is in keeping with their presumptive nominee's refusal to reveal his income tax returns. What does Mitt Romney not want the American people to know?      

* * * * * * *


         If there is any doubt about the G.O.P.'s lack of concern for low income Americans, it surely should have been dispelled when the Senate Republicans once again filibustered to prevent debate on the President's bill to extend the Bush payroll tax cuts for another year for those with an annual income under $250,000. That's 98% of Americans!
         Taxes for those earning more than that (the top 2% of the population) would revert back to the tax rate under President Clinton, which would have represented a modest increase. Unless Democrats can find a way to break the impasse, we're all in for a big tax increase next year.
         Yet the Republicans  call Barack Obama the "tax and spend" President! They've fought his every effort to lower taxes, to create jobs, to provide affordable health care for all Americans, to enact comprehensive immigration  reform, to help States put State employees back to work, to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, and everything else he has tried to do.
         And perish the thought that they should ever give him credit for all the good things he has managed to accomplish despite their obstructionism!
         Why don't the Republicans want this latest bill to pass? Because they care more about opposing President Obama than they do about helping their country.They even oppose things they traditionally favor, if in so doing they can thwart the President's agenda.
         Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear from the start that their main goal is "to make Barack Obama a one-term President." They don't want to create jobs, or do anything to help the economy, because that would reflect well on the President. They want things to get worse not better, so they can go on blaming the President for "his failed policies."
          Don't listen to what the Republicans say. Watch what they do!

* * * * * * * *


        I was shocked by the misinformation I heard from the lips of a good friend just recently. Having bought into the Republican propaganda about the evils of Obamacare, my friend was expressing his strong opposition to the Affordable Care Act. When I mentioned some of the specific benefits of the Act and asked if he opposed these provisions, he reluctantly conceded that “some aspects of the law are okay.”
         And when I asked why it isn’t better for all Americans to take advantage of the many good features of the law, with Congress continuing to work out the kinks and to make improvements which any such massive legislation demands, rather than repeal the Act, as the House Republicans have tried thirty-three times to do, my friend had no reply. How could he, when there is no logical reason to choose the latter alternative? I reminded him that President Obama has repeatedly said he will welcome any constructive suggestions for improving the legislation.
         But that doesn’t stop the House Republicans from spending some eighty hours of their valuable legislative time at a cost of nearly fifty million taxpayer dollars, repeating their fruitless efforts to repeal the law! What is even more reprehensible is that they have nothing with which to replace it. Congress would have to start all over.  Perish the thought!
         As people are becoming more aware of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the polls are reflecting its growing popularity. It is becoming harder for Republicans to peddle their anti-Obamacare propaganda. Their misrepresentations may well backfire on them in November.
         In the meantime, I encourage my readers to go on-line and read for yourselves the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and urge your friends to do the same. I am confident that any doubts you are now harboring about the Act  will be quickly dispelled. And I think you will agree with me that most ordinary people who say they oppose the law are speaking out of ignorance. Tell them to read the facts for themselves.

* * * * * * * 


       Who can unite the Republican Party? Not Mitt Romney! The gulf between the Tea Party and the “Old Guard” remains, and Mr. Romney, despite his chameleon-like style,  has not shown himself to be a unifier.

         Who speaks for the Republican Party? Not Mitt Romney! The Old Guard’s displeasure with his initial reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act proved that, forcing the Governor to do one of his classic back flips.
         Who is leading the Republican Party? Not Mitt Romney. He is too much of a flip flopper even for many Republicans. Too many of his own Party don’t like him or trust him. Ron Paul and his supporters are proof of that!
Congressman Ron Paul
         If Dr. Paul should win the majority of bound national delegates at the Nebraska State convention on July 14, he will have won five States, enough to be placed  in nomination and privileged to address the delegates at the Republican National Convention. He may not have much of chance of winning the nomination, but who knows what will happen?
         It should be interesting!

 * * * * * * *


         Yesterday’s report of the lower than expected number of jobs created in June and the continued 8.2% unemployment rate was good news for nobody except Mitt Romney and his Republican allies. Governor Romney wasted no time in using the latest government figures to blast President Obama, blaming him for the problem and accusing him of having no plan for creating jobs.

         That’s another one of the Republican candidate’s deliberate falsehoods. The President has a plan, Mr. Romney, and you know it. It’s called the American Jobs Act, the passage of which has been delayed by your Republican friends in the Senate!
         The American Jobs Act is much more specific than your vague generalities and platitudes. How dishonest of you to accuse the President of having no plan, when he has proposed an actual piece of legislation that would create nearly two million jobs in the first year!
         How? By providing aid that would enable States to rehire public sector employees, by increasing infrastructure spending, by cutting payroll taxes for small businesses, and in many other ways.
         When will you stop lying to the American people, Mr. Romney?

 * * * * * *


Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP

         Throughout the Republican primaries in every debate and whenever and wherever he spoke, Mitt Romney was unrelenting in his criticism of President Obama. In his response to almost every question he was asked in the debates, no matter what the subject, Governor Romney managed to work in an attack on the President.                                                                               
         Now that Mr. Obama has begun campaigning and is pointing out the differences between Governor Romney’s ideas and experience and his own, he is being criticized for being negative. I can hardly wait for the presidential debates, when the difference in the rhetoric and styles of the two candidates will be plain for all to see and hear.
         Let’s hope the moderators and panelists will hold both men accountable for their statements, and call to their and the viewers’ attention the inconsistencies, false claims,  misrepresentations, and flip-flops of which either one of them is guilty. There’s no question in my mind as to which of the two candidates has much more explaining to do!
         Following his bungling effort to explain why he opposes Obamacare when it was modeled after Romneycare, even his base supporters were wondering if Mr. Romney would ever get his story straight. After shocking them by declaring that the cost to those who opt out of the insurance plan is a penalty not a tax, the Governor caved in to them and did a complete about face. Even the Wall Street Journal has been critical of the Romney campaign’s confusion over the health care issue.
         As I pointed out in my June 14 post, Mr. Romney is in an awkward position. He can’t point to his one positive accomplishment as Governor of Massachusetts, his State health care plan, while at the same time attacking the President for instituting a similar plan for the nation.
         Governor Romney hopes to convince the American people that he can do more for them as President than can President Obama. He needs to be specific about what he plans to do and how he expects to pay for it.
         President Obama simply needs to point to what he has already done and show that the country has been moving in the right direction under his leadership. He is the first to admit there is more to be done, but he has much more to point to than does Mr. Romney.

  * * * * * * *


         Not Governor Rick Scott and some of his Republican counterparts!
         They are saying they will opt out of the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act, something they are permitted to do under the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.
         The program would cost the States nothing for the first three years. It is paid for completely by the Federal government. After three years the states would then kick in just ten percent of the cost.
         The governors would rather deny millions of their low income residents access to Medicaid than accept Federal aid! But that’s how they plan to oppose Obamacare. It makes no sense, and it shows the Republicans’ complete disregard of those who cannot afford health insurance.
         At some point the poor and the middle class are going to wake up and realize who’s on their side. It’s certainly not the Republicans!

 * * * * * * *


to Republicans: Stop lying to the American people about Obamacare. Your outrageous  charges are going to backfire on you, as the people discover, despite your lies, the benefits of the legislation. Instead of fighting it, why not take some credit for it, since it was modeled after your candidate’s program in Massachusetts, where 98% of the people are now covered?

to all voters: You have a better chance of arriving at the truth if you believe the OPPOSITE of everything Mitt Romney and his allies have to say about President Obama.

to the 17 Democrats who voted with the Republican majority to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Shame on you! Are you that afraid of or beholden to the National Rifle Association?

to the Democrats who, following the lead of the Congressional Black Caucus, walked out during the vote as a protest to the action of the House Republicans: Good for you! That was a stronger statement than a negative vote, when your vote could not have changed the outcome. It was a statement of principle!

to the Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who said that the Justice Department will take no action to prosecute Mr. Holder “for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege”:  Bravo for not complying with the Republican witch hunt.

to Congress for extending aid to States for highway and transit construction and for extending the lower interest rates on student loans: At last we can say Thank you! How did it feel to work together?

to Governor Romney: Tell the truth. If you stick to the truth, you won’t have to keep
flip-flopping all the time.

to President Obama: Please keep pointing out the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and explaining how it will lead to the creation of millions of new jobs. If you do that, you will be dealing with two major concerns at the same time, health-care and JOBS! And please, Mr. President, don’t stoop to your opponent’s level of discourse.

 * * * * * * *


      The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act was a huge win for America, and especially for the 33,000,000 Americans who until now have not been able to afford health care insurance.
The benefits of the program have not yet taken effect for many Americans, as the program was to be phased in over a period of four years. That’s why some Americans, who stand to benefit from the new law, in opinion polls have illogically expressed opposition to it, reflecting the negative influence of the Republican opposition.
Upon hearing the Court’s decision, Mr. Romney vowed to repeal the law on his first day in office. That’s another good reason for defeating him in November! Speaker Boehner doesn’t intend for the House to wait that long. He wants to repeal it immediately!
The President needs to keep doing what he did yesterday, which was to spell out for the American people the benefits of the law, when they will take effect, how much it will cost, and how much it will eventually lower the cost of health care in America.
Chief Justice John Roberts
He also needs to explain why the implementation of the bill was stretched out over a four-year period. It was a compromise to try to win some Republican support for the legislation. In retrospect the Democrats probably regret they did that, because it didn’t win them any Republican votes.  On the contrary, the Republicans have been taking advantage of the delay to try to stir up opposition to the law before people start benefitting from it. Wake up, America!
The Court’s decision once again reflected its partisan divide, with one notable exception this time. The deciding vote was cast not by Justice Kennedy, the so-called swing vote on the Court, but by Chief Justice Roberts, a staunch conservative! It was a surprise if not a shock to almost everybody.  Obamacare supporters are  overjoyed, its opponents are irate.
For me it was even more than a cause for celebration. It helped to restore my faith in the Supreme Court.  Thank you, Justice Roberts, for putting principle above politics!

 * * * * * * *


        There is an alarming amount of evidence that the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract methane gas from shale is seriously endangering the environment. In an effort to halt the practice local communities in upper New York State are taking to court the big oil companies, who in turn are spending millions to defend their right to use the controversial technique.

         Local congregations have members on both sides of the issue, while other members are uncertain and confused. It is a time for leadership within the churches and by the churches within their communities. 
First Presbyterian Church
Cooperstown, NY
         In Otsego County, New York, the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown is providing just that kind of leadership. An ad hoc committee of the church made a thorough study of the issue and brought their findings and recommendations to the Session, which then adopted a resolution. The Session is the ruling body of a Presbyterian congregation, consisting of a certain number of elders elected by and representative of the congregation, and the pastor, who serves as the moderator.  
         The resolution was then presented to the congregation for their edification and support, and to the local media. It stands as a beautiful example of the way a church should address such a controversial issue, and the pastor and the elders are to be commended for their courageous leadership and responsible citizenship.
         This is churchmanship at its best!

First Presbyterian Church

Cooperstown, New York 13326
Session Resolution on Horizontal High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing
Whereas, as people of faith, we believe that God is the creator of the earth, its abundant resources, all humankind, and the rich diversity of life that inhabits this world;
Whereas, we are entrusted by God to be good stewards of the planet, which requires that resources of land, air, and water be managed responsibly and sustainably, without destroying or despoiling God’s creation;
Whereas, consistent with the teachings of Christ, we have a moral obligation to prevent harm to our fellow human beings, including future generations who will inherit the earth;
Whereas, horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is a recently-developed technology for the extraction of methane gas from shale rock, involving the injection of large quantities of water or other fluids, toxic chemicals, and propants into the ground under explosive pressure to create and hold open fractures in gas-bearing shale;
Whereas, new information has emerged regarding the significant dangers of fracking, causing independent experts to conclude that the technology poses a serious risk of immediate, long-term, or even permanent harm to land, air, and water resources; said harm occurring through the migration of methane and toxic chemicals into groundwater supplies, airborn gas and chemical emissions, induced seismic activity, disposal of fracking fluids, and the widespread fragmentation of ecosystems and loss of wildlife caused by large-scale proliferation of drilling sites and related infrastructure;
Whereas, new information has emerged regarding incidents of contamination and sickness in Pennsylvania and other areas where fracking has occurred, leading medical professionals to question industry claims that natural gas can be extracted safely without endangering human health;
Whereas, an industrialized landscape created by the large-scale proliferation of fracking threatens to supplant existing and emerging economies which offer hope for a more sustainable future, protective of the earth and people, including but not limited to locally-owned family farms, wineries, organic agriculture, outdoor recreation, ecotourism, and businesses rooted in the rich history and rural heritage of upstate New York;
Whereas, due to the political, legal, and regulatory framework in which the fossil fuel industry presently operates, communities that have been subjected to intense and widespread fossil fuel extraction, including fracking, disproportionately suffer the consequences of extraction through environmental injustice and social-economic exploitation, without equitably sharing in the financial benefits enjoyed by industry;
Whereas, recognizing that natural gas has existed within shale formations since early geologic time and will continue to reside there should alternative technologies be developed for its safe extraction in the future, it is imprudent and morally objectionable to proceed with current methods of fracking in light of the inherent and significant risks posed to the environment, human health, and society.
Now, therefore be it resolved this 21st day of May, 2012 by the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown the following:
1.      The Session opposes current methods of horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing and supports local and statewide bans on use of the technology.
2.      The Session encourages the development of sustainable economies, renewable energy, and conservation measures so that New York State may serve as an example of good stewardship for the earth and an advocate for the well-being of its inhabitants.
3.      The Session urges the members of the congregation to support this resolution with concrete actions and encourages other faith communities to join with us in its support.

* * * * * * *


       Years ago I used to have great respect for and confidence in the Supreme Court. I believed those appointed to that high office, regardless of their Political affiliation, were impartial, objective, and fair, and that their commitment to the Constitution transcended their partisan loyalties. I respected the integrity of their decisions, and I viewed their dissenting views as honest disagreements in the interpretation of Constitutional principles and legal precedents.
         I am sad to say I can no longer feel that way, when I see the Court split on decision after decision along Party lines, and when I hear Justice Antonin Scalia voice his dissent today, in a most partisan way, to the Court’s decision to strike down most of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. Justice Scalia expressed his opposition to President Obama’s temporary ban on the deportation of children of immigrants and accused the President of refusing to enforce immigration laws.
         But that is only part of my concern. The Court had the opportunity today to correct their Citizens United ruling, which opened a Pandora’s box for unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns, when they overturned by a vote of 5 to 4 a one-hundred-year-old Montana law that disallowed contributions by corporations in that State. So now Citizens United has been applied to State and local elections, and the influence of the SuperPACS will be felt at all levels of  government!
          What does that do to the democratic process? Only the naive would think that the motive of corporate giving is altruistic. What are they hoping to get in return? Less regulation, of course, and lower corporate tax rates, and fewer environmental restrictions, and who knows what else.
          In the forthcoming presidential election voters will have to decide if they want this nation to be governed by politicians who are beholden to a few super-rich individuals and corporations, or to the general voting public, whose privilege and responsibility it is to elect them.
         In the meantime, we'll soon see what the Court does with the Affordable Health Care Act. That should be most revealing.

* * * * * * *


U. S. Attorney General Erick Holder

       Every truth-loving American should be outraged by the egregious decision of the Republican controlled House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
         Now Speaker John Boehner has indicated that the House will consider the case, and the NRA has warned that they will score the Representatives on how they vote!  
         The Attorney General has until now cooperated fully with the Committee, having appeared before them nine times and having already turned over thousands of documents.
         It is a blatantly political and totally unprecedented move to embarrass the President, who for the first time since he took office has exercised his Executive Privilege to prevent Mr. Holder from being forced illegally to turn over certain classified documents.

Right winger Mike Vanerboegh
         So of course the Republicans are now accusing the President of a cover-up, and even likening it to Watergate. It's astounding that the Republicans have bought hook line and sinker into the utterly preposterous gun control conspiracy idea promulgated by an ultra right-wing hate monger named Mike Vanderboegh. He was the Alabama militiaman who screamed for people to throw rocks into the windows of every Democrat office in the country following the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act!
         Readers will remember that the purpose of Fast and Furious was to allow a certain number of guns to slip across the Mexican border in order to track them to the leaders of the drug cartels. Unfortunately the plan went awry, when a U. S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed, possibly by someone using one of those guns. "Walked" guns were found at other scenes of violence.                  
       Vanderboegh has come up with the preposterous idea that Fast and Furious was a sinister plot by Attorney General Holder to further his supposed gun control agenda.  Now listen to this crazy logic: Vanderboegh would have us believe that in slipping the guns to Mexico, Mr. Holder's intention was for them to result in more violence and killings, which in turn would cause Americans on this side of the border to demand more gun control, in revulsion against the violence in Mexico! Can you imagine a more insane idea?
         But the Republicans have espoused it! And, as to be expected, the NRA is fanning the flames. So is Fox News, and who is the authority being cited for this absurd theory? The bombastic brick-thrower himself, Mike Vandenboegh! Now Speaker John Boehner has indicated that the House will consider the case, and the NRA has warned that they will score the Representatives on how they vote!
        The gun-walking project was begun by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in 2006 as a series of sting operations under Project Gunrunner, with the intention of ending the illegal flow of firearms into Mexico, by tracing the arms to their ultimate destination. I do not intend to try to outline here the complex history of the operation, but for those who would like to do so I suggest you check out the Wikipedia article* on the subject.
          Suffice it to say that what makes the Republicans' witch hunt so despicable is the fact that Project Gunrunner was initiated during the Bush Administration! The first major sting operation was called Project Wide Receiver. Project Fast and Furious came later.  It was continued and later ended by the Obama Administration.
         One would think that the Committee should hear testimony from those who devised and instituted the program. The Democrats on the Committee urged their Republican colleagues to do just that, but the Republican majority refused to do so! Instead, they have charged Mr. Holder with contempt of Congress and are threatening to arrest the Attorney General of the United States! Some are calling for his dismissal.
         Is it just a coincidence that Mr. Holder has been cracking down on the voter suppression efforts of Republican governors like Rick Scott of Florida? Is it just a coincidence that Mr. Holder is an African American? Is it just a coincidence that this spurious conspiracy charge comes so soon after the President's popular order to delay the deportation of children of illegal immigrants?
Republican strategist Karl Rove
Photo by Qurmudjin
         Mr. Obama's predecessors invoked their executive privilege many times. This is the first and only time he has done it. His opponents point out that as a Senator he had opposed President Bush's executive order protecting Karl Rove, as if Rove's behavior and Mr. Holder's performance as Attorney General were at all comparable.

          But truthfulness and fairness and consistency are noticeably missing from Republican rhetoric these days . What a pity they are not being held accountable by the main stream media for their unfounded accusations, misrepresentations, and outright falsehoods.
          Pardon the play on words, but, Is there an honest Republican in the House?

* (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATF_gunwalking_scandal

* * * * * * *


         The Republican are having a difficult time trying to find ways to criticize the President's temporary ban on the deportation of illegal young people who are in this country through no fault of their own.

         They say "If he wanted to do something about those young people, why didn't he do it earlier?" How hypocritically convenient of Senator Rubio and others to ignore the fact that it was the Republicans who prevented the passage of the Dream Act that would have made the President's move unnecessary!
          Mitt Romney's awkward dodging of Bob Schieffer's direct questions on "Face the Nation" was typical of the Republican candidate. When asked if he would repeal the ban, Mr. Self-Deportation would not commit himself.
          But then again, does he ever? Only when it comes to criticizing the President!Yet he has the audacity to say "People know where I stand, unlike this President who doesn't tell us what his plans are."  Really!
          There's that karlrovian tactic again! Accuse your opponent of your own weakness!

 * * * * * * *


        Using the karlrovian tactic of accusing President Obama of doing what his own Republican party is guilty of doing, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina attacked the President for having no long-term plan other than defeating the G.O.P. I prefer not to use the Senator's crude language as quoted in the June 25 issue of Time Magazine.
        Excuse me, Senator Graham, but it was your Republican colleague Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who said in 2010 "Our top political priority over the next two years is to deny President Obama a second term," and who has since publicly reiterated that statement.
        Karl Rove is the master of misdirection. Apparently his Republican friends are catching on to Rove's smoke screen strategy in their determination to disparage President Obama any way they can, without regard to truth.
        Senator Graham's accusation is just one more example.

 * * * * * * *


Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

        The President announced a ruling by the Homeland Security Department yesterday that places a temporary (two-year) ban on the deportation of children of illegal immigrants, provided they are under thirty years old, were under sixteen years of age when they came here, have lived in the United States for at least five years, have no criminal record, have graduated from high school or are still in school, or have served in or are serving in the military.
        An estimated 800,000 young people (some say even more) are effected by the ruling, which is only a stop-gap measure, but a very important one, until Congress passes the Dream Act, or its equivalent. When the Senate Republicans successfully filibustered and prevented the passage of the Dream Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for these young people, who consider themselves loyal Americans, they all, for no fault of their own, faced deportation to countries they've never called their homeland and whose language they may have forgotten or never knew.
        Mr. Romney called the ruling a short-term solution that will impede a long-term solution to the problem. His Republican allies view the ruling as a political ploy by the President to court Latino voters. A headline in the right-wing on-line publication Newsmax reads "Gingrich: Obama Pulled 'Election-year Gimmick' on Immigration."
        The ruling does indeed have political implications, and so does the Republicans' response, which is one more illustration of their total unwillingness to give the President credit for anything he does.
        It was inevitable that they would impugn the President's motives. Despite their accusations and regardless of the President's motivations, the bottom line is that it was, as the President declared, the right thing to do!

 * * * * * * *


U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky

I have been a political independent all my voting  life, but in recent years I have become more and more disenchanted with Republican principles and practices. It has not been at all difficult for me to choose which side I have to support in the current Presidential campaign. The Republican Party for which I once had great respect, even when I favored a particular Democratic candidate, now represents almost nothing I believe in, either as a citizen or as a Christian. There are many things that annoy me about the Republican rhetoric. Let me list least some of them.  I get irritated and sometimes incensed . . .

when the Republicans criticize the President for not intervening militarily and unilaterally against the Syrian government forces in their brutal efforts to quell the uprising in that battle-worn country. The Republicans'  arrogant, chauvinistic, hawkish, and insensitive attitude about America's role in the community of nations, an attitude that propelled us into two unnecessary wars, is most reprehensible, even frightening. . .

when the Republicans resent the Democrats' criticizing them for wanting to go back to the failed policies that got us into the budgetary and financial mess we're in. But that's exactly what the Paul Ryan budget, which the Republican have so enthusiastically embraced, would do. Their trickle-down economic theory didn't work before and it won't work now. . .
Speaker of the House John Boehner
when Republicans try to deny their war on women's rights, and voters' rights, and workers rights, and civil rights by accusing the President of  "class warfare"! .

when news commentators criticize "Congress" for not doing this or that, when it's the Republicans in Congress who are voting "No!" on every proposal, not the Democrats! The G.O.P. has certainly proved themselves to be the "Party of No" . . .

when Mitt Romney and his surrogates repeatedly misrepresent what the President has done, is doing, and would like to do, with the cooperation of Congress, to create jobs and to stimulate the economy. In their determination to make Mr. Obama a one-term President, they will say or do anything to malign his ideas, impugn his motives, and misrepresent his intentions. . .

when Mitt Romney offers his economic platitudes with absolutely no specifics about how he is going to pay for anything. . .

Florida 's Gov. Rick Scott
when the general public and the media don't raise a hue and cry against Republican governors like Rick Scott of Florida who are blatantly engaged in voter suppression. . .

when white people refuse to recognize let alone decry the latent if not overt racism reflected in the bitter opposition toward President Obama, who has done nothing to deserve such vicious hatred. Nearly all African Americans are well aware of it.

when the President and C.E.O. of J. P. Morgan Chase is praised to the skies by Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee and is used to bolster their own opposition to government regulation of Wall Street, instead of being asked to explain why he allowed his firm to gamble with their investors money. He admitted it was a mistake, but it was much more than a mistake, It was proof of the need for government regulation! . .

when right-to-lifers refuse to condemn those who commit terrible acts of violence, even murder, against doctors who perform abortions, and their staffs, and even their patients. They refuse to acknowledge that their own incendiary rhetoric is largely to blame for the hatred that drives some pro-life supporters to commit those violent acts. How inconsistent and hypocritical are those who would support life by destroying life! . .

when people who call themselves Christians speak and act in a way that denies everything that Jesus Christ taught. Like the prophets before him, Jesus was on the side of the poor, not the wealthy, and he despised hypocrites! . . .

when Karl Rove accuses the president of trying to buy the election when that is exactly what Rove and his billionaire buddies are actually doing! It's a tactic at which Rove is particularly adept: crticize your opponent for the things of which you yourself are guilty!

when I read opinion polls that indicate this will be a close election. I know there are Republicans who will vote for anybody but a Democrat, but how can any fair-minded, intelligent Republican vote for a man like Mitt Romney? I just hope the majority of the electorate are discerning enough to see the difference between the two candidates. . .

President Barack Obama 
President Obama is not perfect. But I trust him. After listening to Mitt Romney as a candidate, how can anyone trust him as a President? . .

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney
What a tragedy if we Americans should choose a flip-flopping prevaricator, whose policies are aimed at helping only the wealthiest one percent, over a thoughtful, intelligent, fair-minded leader who wants what is best for the nation as a whole, and who in his first term in office has accomplished much despite the adamant refusal of the Republicans to cooperate with him. . .

Given the cleverness of the Republicans and their SuperPACs at negative advertising and dirty tricks, it's a worrisome thought!

* * * * * * *


     Mitt Romney's record as a one-term Governor of Massachusetts was nothing to boast about. Massachusetts ranked 47th among the States in job creation, for example.
        So he prefers to present himself as a successful business man, opening himself to criticism on the same count. As a venture capitalist his goal was not to create jobs ("I like firing people!" he said), but to make money for Bain Capital's executives and stockholders. He did a good job at that, but that doesn't qualify him as an expert on job creation, and it certainly doesn't qualify him to be President of the United States.

        His strategy has been to attack, always attack, everything the President says or does. Thus he has put himself in a deservedly awkward position. He doesn't know how to boast about the one thing he has to point to regarding his work as Governor of Massachusetts. He signed into law a health care act that earned the praise of President Obama, and it became something of a model for the Administration's Affordable Health Act.
        So Mr. Romney doesn't talk about "Romneycare," because it's too much like "Obamacare"! His health care program for Massachusetts even has an individual mandate, which the Republicans are hoping the Supreme Court will rule is an unconstitutional provision of the Federal program. If they do, Romney will applaud their decision and use it to attack the President all the more.
        The inconsistency of his attacking his opponent for things he himself once favored doesn't bother Mr. Romney one bit. Logical consistency has never been one of his attributes. If I may modify a familiar cliche, his words speak for themselves! ("I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said there, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was"!)


        There is something really sinister going on in our country, and many Americans must be unaware of it, or there would be a huge outcry against it. Cognizant Democrats are crying "Foul!" while Republicans are overtly applauding.
        The effort to suppress minority voting by Florida Governor Rick Scott and other Republican Governors is appalling. On the pretext of preventing voter fraud, they are violating the rights of thousands of legitimate citizens, the vast majority of whom have voted Democratic in past elections.

        Surveys by independent researchers, such as the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, have shown that individual voter fraud is extremely rare throughout the United States. Yet so determined is Governor Scott to pursue his politically motivated agenda that he is even defying the U. S. Department of Justice's order to cease and desist.
        Even Florida's election supervisors, Republicans and Democrats, having discovered that most of the names on the list are legal voters, are refusing to comply with the effort of Governor Scott and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to purge non-citizens from the rolls.
        Under the pretense of preventing a problem that doesn't exist, Scott and his fellow "protectors" against voter fraud are trying to disenfranchise legitimate citizens.  Who, then, are the real perpetrators of voter fraud?

  * * * * * * *


        Those who have been following my earlier posts on the subject, will not be surprised to know that I was disappointed by the results of the Wisconsin election yesterday.
        As an interested outsider, I was concerned about the amount of money Governor Scott Walker had received from outside the State, about the John Doe investigation, about the indictment of two of his aides, about his attack on the public service unions, about reports of robocalls telling people that if they signed the Walker Recall Petition that there was no need for them to vote in the election, and about Walker's repeated misrepresentations of the facts (about the "balanced budget," for example, and about job creation).

        I had written two highly respected friends of mine who live in Wisconsin to express my views and to get their take on the situation. Both of them expressed their concern about the divisiveness of this election, but one was more was more favorable to the recall than the other, who had this to say:
        I don't believe in recalls unless an elected official has broken the law, or done something 
        "impeachable"  (i.e. high crimes and misdemeanors).  I am not a big fan of Scott Walker's.
        I think his methods have been quite divisive, but rather than resorting to mid-term recalls 
        (Lord help us if these become common) I think the solution is to "vote the bums out" at the 
        next election.
       Exit polls indicted that the majority of voters agreed with my friend, and that could well have been a main reason Walker survived this election. If so, he may be in for a rough time when his term is up two years from now.
       Another reason, however, was the fact that he outspent his opponent by more than 7 to 1, and that does not bode well for the Democrats, who can never match the spending of the Republican corporate superPACs. The political scene has drastically changed as the result of the Supreme Court’s overturning the ban on corporate campaign spending. Walker’s victory proves that with rare exceptions big bucks determine elections. Sad but true.
        Oh well, the people of Wisconsin have made their choice. The Republicans are gloating, the Democrats are spinning, and we concerned on-lookers are scratching our heads.

 * * * * * * *


       There's a difference between objective criticism, which is factual and fair, and partisan opposition, which ignores or distorts the facts and is bigoted and biased. We need to be aware of that distinction, as we listen to people's political comments, including those of news commentators and political analysts.
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC 
        Joe Scarborough and Rush Limbaugh, for example, are both Republicans, but there's a huge difference in the way they express their views. It is not difficult to tell which one is factual and fair and which one is biased and bigoted.                                    
Talk Radio Host Rush Limbaugh 
        The sad truth is that Rush Limbaugh and his ilk attract like-minded audiences, whose own prejudices are reinforced and inflamed by their slanted rhetoric. They are either unable or unwilling to try to separate fact from falsehood, and their lack of discernment is of great concern to fair-minded folks, who want politicians and their supporters to tell the truth.

         Some degree of hyperbole is to be expected from political candidates, especially in regard to their campaign promises. But we voters have a right to expect the candidates to tell the truth, and not deliberately to misrepresent the facts. They need to be held accountable for their words.
Gov. Mitt Romney
        The way Governor Romney misrepresents President Obama's record, impugns his motives, and ignores, denies, or, as in the case of the auto industry's remarkable turn-around, even takes credit for Mr. Obama's accomplishments is inexcusable. I look forward to the debates, when Mr. Obama will have a chance to make his Etch-a-Sketch opponent eat his words.                                                          
President Barack Obama
        The contrast between the two candidates ---their character, their style, their political values, their factual accuracy, their specific programs, their economic vision for America, their ideas on foreign policy and on taxation, their views about women's rights, workers' rights, voters' rights, health care, public education, immigration, and all the other issues that are dividing our nation--- should be abundantly clear to those who watch the debates with an open mind.
        I hope there are many such people still "out there," because they will be the ones who decide this presidential election.

 * * * * * * *


      This link will take you to an article that is disturbing to me. It seems like a local news item of relatively minor significance, but to me it is another example of the alarming war that is being waged on our environment.

        Up-State New Yorkers have been fighting hard to protect their environment against the dangers of hydrofracking. Local communities throughout that hard-pressed region have been contributing their hard-earned dollars to take on the big oil companies and their corporate millions. The New Yorkers' cause is of concern to our entire nation, which needs to understand that their appeal is not for the regulation but for the abolishment of fracking altogether.
        If you have any doubts about the dangers of his wantonly destructive process, I urge you to do some personal research on the matter. Read what the environmental scientists have to say on the subject. I highly recommend Dr. Sandra Steingraber's writings on the subject, which detail the results of her scientific research on the polluting of our environment.
        Dr. Steingraber, a cancer survivor, received the $100,000 Heinz Foundation Award for her latest book, Raising Elijah. The award was established by Teresa Heinz in memory of her husband Pennsylvania Senator H. John Heinz III, to recognize persons for their outstanding contributions in several important areas, including the environment.You should know that Dr. Steingraber has used her prize money to launch a State-wide coalition known as New Yorkers Against Fracking. Check out her web site: http://steingraber.com.
        And now, Ohioans, it's your turn!

 * * * * * * *


         President Obama deserves neither the credit nor the blame for the price of gas, over which he has no control whatsoever. Yet his Republican critics were quick to blame him for the high gas prices a few weeks ago. Now that gas prices have fallen significantly, those same critical voices are predictably silent.
        Is anyone surprised about that?

 * * * * * * *


       If you want to know what a right-wing Republican administration would be like, just look at what is happening in Republican controlled States around the country. Their attack on public education is frightening (e.g. Pennsylvania and Ohio)! Their war on women's rights continues (e.g. Virginia). Their efforts to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters, including especially the poor, the elderly, and immigrants, the overwhelming majority of whom have voted Democratic (e.g. Florida) is outrageous. Their determination to destroy labor unions (e.g. Wisconsin) is a frontal attack on a basic American right.
        Yet these Republican Governors have Mr. Romney's full support. Republican contributions from outside the State of Wisconsin, for example, have enabled Governor Scott Walker to outspend his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, 25 to 1 in his effort to prevent his being recalled from office! It is astounding and terribly disturbing that half of Wisconsin's voters either do not realize what is going on or are too partisan to care. Wake up Wisconsin!
        Wake up, America!

 * * * * * * *


        Mitt Romney claims that he is better qualified than Barack Obama to fix the American economy because of his experience in the business sector. President Obama is challenging that claim ---effectively, in my view.
       While acknowledging that private equity firms have their legitimate place in our free enterprise system, President Obama points out that their main purpose is not to create jobs but to make money for their investors. He concedes that Mr. Romney did a good job at that at Bain Capital. The President argues, however, that such a role does not qualify someone to be President, whose main concern must be the welfare of all the people, not just investors, and certainly not just the wealthy.
        Since the Republicans want to make the economy the focus of their campaign, President Obama has every right to engage them on that issue. The economic statistics tell a different story from the one presented by Mr. Romney and his surrogates. Government spending under Mr. Obama's administration, for example, is actually the lowest it has been in decades. More than four million private sector jobs have been created. Corporate profits as a share of the nation's GDP are the highest they have been since 1950! Millions more Americans have health care insurance. The auto industry is back on its feet. But these and other positive accomplishments are conveniently ignored or discredited by the Republicans.
        Everyone knows, and the President is the first to admit, that there is still much more to be done. The unemployment rate is much too high. Our infrastructure is in desperate need of a major overhaul. There's a long way to go to a full recovery, but we're moving in the right direction. Partisan voters have short memories, but they must not be allowed to forget the state of the economy when Barack Obama entered the White House. The question posed by the President, echoing what many Americans have asked, is "Why should we go back to the same Bush policies that got us into this mess in the first place?"
        Mr. Romney apparently is either unaware that his policies would do that, or he doesn't care. Either alternative is unacceptable to those who remember what the Bush years were like, and how his trickle down tax policies led to the huge national debt, the budget deficit, the Wall Street financial crisis, and the high unemployment rate inherited by the Obama administration.
        It is a mystery how so many Americans can be bamboozled by Mr. Romney's platitudinous rhetoric. They obviously don't want to be confused by the facts. Their hatred of Barack Obama blinds them to reality.They refuse to give the President credit for any of his many accomplishments, most of which were achieved without any support or cooperation from the Republicans.
         To be sure, both the President and Governor Romney must be held accountable for what they say. The difference between the two men, however, in their factual accuracy, in their specific proposals, and in their basic commitments, is plain to any objective observer. It is obvious which one is on the side of the poor and the middle class, and which one is on the side of the wealthiest one percent. Mitt Romney's views on public education and taxes are evidence enough as to where he stands.    
         Mr. Romney, whose record as Governor of Massachusetts was apparently not worthy of his using it as proof of his readiness to be President (he prefers to point to his record as a venture capitalist), feels he is nevertheless better qualified to be President than the man who will have already held the office for four years, and who has accomplished much in those years.
         His opponents have every right to differ with the President on the issues and challenges facing our nation and how to solve them. But the tone of their attacks is often despicable. His attackers bristle when anyone suggests their criticism reflects their latent if not their overt racism. But what else can it be, when their comments about him are so disparaging, unfair, and untrue?
         And what is most disturbing is that Republican Party leaders, including Mitt Romney himself, do not forthrightly repudiate those attacks. Witness Romney's silence on Donald Trump's continual questioning of the legitimacy of Mr. Obamba's citizenship.
         Mr. Romney has been widely criticized for his mendacity. The truth is, however, that it is not politically expedient for him to tell the truth about his opponent or about himself. Instead we are forced to keep waiting for the real Mitt Romney to reveal himself. Maybe the real Mitt Romney is none other than the Mitt Romney we've been watching all along ---the flip flopping Mitt Romney.

* * * * * * *


Don’t let Scott Walker buy his reelection with big bucks from corporate interests outside of Wisconsin. You have a powerful weapon: the right to vote. Use it!

Republicans and Democrats alike should be alarmed that Governor Walker is outspending Mayor Tom Barrett 25 to 1, largely with money from outside the State. According to current polls, it is having its effect. It is incredible that even some union members, who have the most to lose if Walker wins, have been deceived by his "divide and conquer" strategy. Are you going to let the Koch brothers and their ilk determine who wins the election on June 5?

Wisconsin is a microcosm of America. Karl Rove has a new $10,000,000 ad out attacking Barack Obama that is full of false information about his record as President. Wisconsinites can lead the way in exercising the power of the people to prevent a few rich billionaires from buying any election. Rest assured they’re putting their own interests ahead of yours.

A million people signed the petition for Walker’s recall. It was a grass roots movement. Those who until now have been undecided, or who have been hoodwinked by the deluge of  Walker’s campaign ads, should take your stand and do the right thing for your fellow citizens whose basic rights are being threatened by the Walker administration.

We’re watching, Wisconsin.  Set an example for the nation!

* * * * * * *


The global impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is far more serious than most people realize. If you are wondering why, click on the link below and read the article! 


* * * * * * *  


      A million Wisconsinites have signed a petition to recall their Republican Governor, Scott Walker. It is a grass roots movement to prevent the Walker administration from eliminating the collective bargaining rights of State public 
employee unions. With some of his aides under criminal investigation, the Governor himself engaged two criminal defense attorneys, all of which has heightened the demand for his recall. The recall election will take place on June 5.
      Walker has mounted an aggressive defense, having raised millions of dollars outside the State from his Republican allies, including the Koch brothers. Yet he falsely accuses his opponents of doing the same, even while vastly outspending them. The reality is that the recall movement has been supported largely by the people themselves, whose small donations cannot match the huge contributions of Walker's corporate contributors.
      Walker raised five times more than the four Democratic candidates put together in the recent primary, yet he and his supporters are trying to paint him as the victim. Witness the following excerpts from a recent article in the right-wing on-line publication NEWSMAX:
      "The left-wing labor unions, the screaming hordes of anti-capitalists and every member of Barack Obama's Administration hate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker because he is a true American Patriot who stands for what he believes in.
      And these radicals have assembled the largest and most sophisticated recall campaign in American history in order to exact their revenge on this brave man.
      You see, there is no way we can leave Scott Walker on his own to defeat the unions. The left is spending tens of millions of dollars to destroy this man[False! The Wisconsin Democratic Party is appealing to the Democratic National Committee for help they have yet to receive. At the moment they are being outspent 20 to 1 in television advertising!]  That's where the Conservative StrikeForce PAC comes in. We are ready to fight hard in Wisconsin to defeat the greedy unions and keep Scott Walker in office. . . 
      It was just one year ago when Governor Scott Walker proposed revolutionary legislation aimed at reining in public sector unions and saving Wisconsin's economy. . . The state legislature passed his reforms. Unemployment in Wisconsin fell, and the nation took notice. [Early reports showed Wisconsin ranked last among all the States in job creation last year. In an unusual move to counter this statistic, the Governor used information schedule to be released from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on June 28 to announce today that Wisconsin had gained gained rather than lost jobs in 2011. Even so the figure, which is not yet official, is far less than the Governor's announced goal.] . . .
      The unions and all their leftist allies are trying to destroy Scott Walker by spending millions upon millions of dollars in the nastiest and most dishonest campaign I have ever seen! [False! See above.] 
      Just consider what Scott Walker is facing:
  • A left-wing judge who signed a petition demanding that Walker be recalled and whose wife works for the recall campaign just ruled that Wisconsin's ballot security law [Part of the Republicans' voter suppression efforts!]  cannot be enforced this election! [Good!]
  • Twenty-nine additional judges in Wisconsin have violated their oaths of office and have openly declared their support for Walker's recall. [That 29 judges feel Walker should be recalled does not speak well for the Governor!]
  • And, twenty-five Wisconsin "journalists" have openly come out in favor of Walker's defeat! [Nor does that!. . . 
      This is how committed the left is to beating Scott Walker. To them, this is a battle for survival and they will do anything – ANYTHING – in order to win. [Wrong! It is Walker who is fighting for survival and is doing anything he can to win!] . . .
       Governor Walker and his allies are being outspent massively by the labor unions and he needs our help. [
That is absolutely false! The amounts raised are public information.] . . .
      The big labor unions are draining the bank accounts of their affiliates from states all across the country and are sending the proceeds directly to Wisconsin to pay for attack ads! [Not true!]

For America,

Dennis Whitfield
Chairman, Conservative StrikeForce PAC

This is the kind of propaganda we're getting from the Republican superPACS. I hope discerning readers will not be deceived.

* * * * * * *

Senator Richard Lugar

When Senator Richard Lugar was defeated by Tea Party backed candidate Richard Mourdock in the recent Indiana Republican primary, it marked more than the end of the 36-year term of a distinguished public servant. It reflected and symbolized the drastic change that has taken place in the nature and purpose of the Republican Party. The G.O.P. is not the grand old party it used to be. It has been taken over by right-wing extremists.

Before entering national politics Richard Lugar was an immensely popular, exceptionally effective, and highly respected Mayor of Indianapolis, whom I knew personally and admired greatly, when I was serving a church in that city.

As a United States Senator he has exhibited the highest and best of bipartisan politics. Throughout his long career he has been a man of stature and integrity. Because he was willing to put principle above political expediency and the good of the nation above partisan loyalties, he was able to work with his colleagues across the aisle on matters of national importance. That spirit, along with his wisdom and good judgement, earned him the respect and gratitude of his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and of our nation and its allies.

In reflecting on his recent defeat, Senator Lugar commented, “I knew that I had cast recent votes that would be unpopular with some Republicans and that would be targeted by outside groups. These included my votes for the TARP program, for government support of the auto industry, for the START Treaty and for the confirmations of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. . .  But I believe that they were the right votes for the country, and I stand by them without regrets. . . ” (quoted from the Newark Star Ledger of May 11, 2012).

How different his attitude and demeanor from that of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate today. Their announced goal has been to make Barack Obama a one-term President. To that end they have opposed every proposal put forth by his administration and given him no credit whatsoever for any of his accomplishments. The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of No! What a tragic development!

There have been many glowing expressions of appreciation for Senator Lugar’s service in the Senate. We wish him well, as he finishes his term in office. Would that there were more Republicans like him today.

 * * * * * * *

Finally, a main stream press article that tells it like it is! To read it, click on the link below:


* * * * * * *


The G. O. P. is adamantly bent
on favoring the wealthy one percent.
Their “trickle down” approach has never worked,
and that's why most economists are irked,
especially those who care about the poor,
whose numbers are increasing more and more.

* * * * * * *


Our congress has been crippled by a serious disease
that paralyzes government, called chronic geopese.
Those afflicted with this ailment, as their symptoms indicate,
when it's time to be constructive never will cooperate.
If the President is for it, they're against it from the go;
so on every new proposal they have always voted "No!"
Yes, the congress has been hamstrung by the chronic geopese,
and no one has found a cure for this crippling disease.

*pronounced jee-oh-pees; G.O.Ps, for short

* * * * * * *


How can any thinking persons who are under twenty-six
vote for someone who has vowed their health insurance will be nix?
“The first day I’m in office I’ll repeal the Health Care Act,”
says presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That’s a fact!

 The G.O.P.controlled House voted to extend today
 the lower interest rate on college loans that students pay,
 The problem is they passed the bill with customary stealth,
 by paying for the program out of funds for women's health,
 i.e., preventive care provided in the Health Care Act ---
 another sortie in the War on Women. That's a fact!
 How can younger voters with a sense of right and wrong approve
 of a Party that would pass a bill with such a sneaky move?

Of course, these issues are reflective of the disregard
the G.O.P. has for poor, who would be hit real hard,
as would be, too, the middle class, by their tax policies
that favor the rich one percent and big bucks companies.

There’s just as much at stake in this election, even more,
for younger voters as there was four years ago, for sure.

* * * * * * *


The G.O.P.’s continued war on women’s right to choose
remains a most disturbing issue in the daily news.
The mandatory ultra sound required by some States’ laws
has rallied the support of men and women to the cause.

Nor can Republicans deny what is a well-known fact,
      that almost every one of them opposed the Fair Pay Act!
And now they justify their vote by claiming it's not true
      that men for equal work still earn far more than women do.

We’re told that ninety-eight percent of women use the pill
or something else for birth control. They think they always will.
They may wake up some day and find this long-held right is gone!
One wonders how some women cannot see what’s going on.
And that's only part of the story. Click on http://pol.moveon.org/waronwomen/

* * * * * * *


Now that he is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mr. Romney is living up to his Etch a Sketch reputation. His incredible flip-flopping is bad enough. What is even more reprehensible is the way he and his supporters deny that he ever said the things he has been taped and is on record as saying. If we can't trust anything he says now, how could we trust anything he says as President? It's a scary thought!

* * * * * * *


After listening to President Obama's sincerely felt address at the Holocaust Museum in Washington this morning, I am tempted to comment on the stark contrast between his beautifully sensitive, thoughtfully worded, and politically balanced style and that of his front-running Republican rival, whose negative rhetoric is anything but inspiring. I found the President's remarks to be powerfully moving. I'm sure I won't be able to reconcile what I heard with the distorted misrepresentations of his critics, who twist and attack everything the President says.

* * * * * * *


I have been following presidential politics since FDR ran for a fourth term. I was in the Navy then, and loyal to my Commander-in-Chief. I was one who did not want us to “change horses in mid-stream.”

I’ve always considered myself an Independent, and as an ordained minister I registered as an Independent, because I wanted to be able to address the issues in the pulpit from a Christian perspective, when they impacted our moral and spiritual life as individuals and as a nation, without being accused of being partisan. I have always voted for the person not the Party.

Although I hadn’t voted for him in 1968, I voted for Richard Nixon’s reelection in 1972, because I believed his ambition to leave a legacy would make him an effective second-term President. His trip to China and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China was a good start. But then we learned about Watergate!

In recent years I have been registered as a Democrat, primarily because the Democratic platform consistently matches more closely my personal convictions and principles. Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that God is on the side of the poor, and that’s where I want to be as well.

People of good conscience often disagree in their interpretation of principles. The extent, for example, to which the laissez-faire doctrine is applied to the government’s involvement in the economic enterprise is a matter of continual debate.

To cite another example, there was considerable disagreement regarding the application of the Second Amendment1 to justify the right of private citizens to own handguns, until the Supreme Court in 2008 settled the matter in a landmark 5 to 4 decision ( District of Columbia v. Heller), ruling that Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to own firearms for lawful purposes, including self-protection in their own homes. The N. R. A., of course, was elated that the conservative Justices on the Court had prevailed. Many private citizens, however, myself included, were dismayed. And our fears have been realized by the increase in deaths involving handguns, a trend that has been alarmingly spiked by the so-called “stand your ground” laws that some states have enacted.

Another much-debated principle is that of the separation of church and state. As a preacher I avoid engaging in partisan politics from the pulpit, although my remarks may sometimes appear that way to the people whose political toes have been stepped on. I’ve never understood that principle to mean that a clergyperson has no right to speak to whatever issues he or she believes need to be addressed, because at their root all socioeconomic issues have theological implications.

I view many if not most issues from the perspective of Christian stewardship —stewardship of the environment, stewardship of the earth’s natural resources, stewardship of life, and so on. So issues relating to health care, birth control, voting restrictions, civil rights, women’s rights, immigration, capital punishment, taxation, “stand your ground” laws, off-shore oil drilling, fracking, gun laws, anti-abortion legislation, unemployment, use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners, warfare in general, to name just a few, are all stewardship issues, having to do with responsibilities as well as rights. As a Christian I want to vote for candidates whose positions most nearly reflect the teachings of and example of Jesus Christ, be those candidates Christians or non-Christians.

I have always wanted the political parties to pick the best possible candidates, who could rise above partisan loyalty for the good of the nation. I want to be able to like and to trust whoever is elected, and I wanted that person to do well for the sake of our nation, whether or not I voted for him or her. I admired my Dad’s attitude toward the President elect. Once the President was elected, my father was loyal, respectful, and supportive, whether or not he had voted for the winner. He wanted the President to succeed for the good of the country.

My Dad’s attitude must have rubbed off on me. I remember, for example, what a difficult choice it was for me between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson, because I liked and admired both men so much. I ended up voting for Eisenhower, but I would not have been disappointed if Stevenson had won, and I would have wanted him to succeed as President. Though there were marked differences in the two men and their Party platforms, the political discourse was for the most part civil.

How different is the political climate today. Instead of wanting President Obama to succeed for the sake of our country, his opponents want him to fail for the sake of their Party. Their leaders unashamedly announced that their main goal was to make him a one-term President. In that spirit they have opposed every piece of legislation his administration has proposed. They have reversed their positions when he has attempted to compromise by incorporating their original proposals. They have filibustered, second-guessed, and criticized, and they have too often caved in to the ultra-conservative Far Right, even the moderate members of the Party.

I waited and hoped in vain for those whom I have admired, like Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, to speak up and speak out against the extremists, but with a few recent exceptions,2 they haven’t. The exceptions have related primarily to the legislation which some States have passed restricting a woman’s right to have an abortion by mandating that she have an invasive ultrasound. The majority of women are outraged by these developments.

Historians tell us that there have been periods of bitter controversy in American politics, but I have never seen such meanness as has been exhibited toward President Obama by his opponents. They have given him no credit for the positive impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (3.6 million jobs created thus far), for reforming Wall Street, for saving the automobile industry, for signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which was passed when the Democrats controlled both Houses3, for ending the war in Iraq, for ridding the world of Osama Bin Laden, and for many effective Executive orders that have raised the ethical standards of government and streamlined many of its practices.

Most notable of his accomplishments was the passage of health-care legislation (the Affordable Care Act) that no other President had been able to accomplish. His opponents derisively called it Obamacare, ignoring the millions of Americans who for the first time will now have affordable health care. They pointed out the Act’s flaws and cumbersomeness, forgetting the fact that most of the law’s weaknesses were the result of the Administration’s efforts to compromise by incorporating many of their suggestions.

The President has been subjected to unceasing and merciless criticism throughout the Republican primaries. Now that he has finally begun to differentiate between his views and those of his opponents, they’re accusing him of bullying! What is even more disturbing is the way the President of the United States has been personally attacked by his opponents and their constituents. They impugn his motives, question his citizenship, his patriotism, his faith. Governor Romney continually refers to him derogatorily as “this President.”

George W. Bush had his critics, and I was one of them, but never was he treated that way Mr. Obama has been treated. People made fun of Mr. Bush’s verbal goofs, and many disagreed with his policies, but they never questioned his patriotism or accused him of not doing what he thought was best for America.

Mr. Obama’s Republican detractors are inconsistent in their attacks, however, accusing him on the one hand of accomplishing nothing, and on the other hand of acting like a dictator! You can’t have it both ways, but that doesn’t seem to matter to his critics. Whatever he says, they twist and attack. Whatever he does, they denounce or belittle. I cannot help feeling that much of the hatred being expressed toward Barack Obama reflects a latent if not overt racism.

Mitt Romney has deservedly earned himself a reputation of saying anything to get elected. He has proven himself to be the quintessential flip-flopper. One of his own senior advisers likened Mr. Romney’s intention to reinvent himself and change his views during the presidential campaign to an Etch A Sketch, a sobriquet his Republican opponents were quick to seize upon. Now that his chief opponent, Rick Santorum, has pulled out of the race for the Republican nomination, we are seeing the Etch A Sketch at work.

I hope the American people are perceptive enough to see through what’s going on, especially as Mr. Romney attacks the President for the very things for which he himself has been criticized by his Republican rivals. It’s a karlrovian (don’t look it up, I invented the word) tactic that the Republicans have used effectively in the past. The Romney Super PACs’ use of negative advertising is unsurpassed, and they’re now unleashing it against the President. The sad truth is that negative advertising works, because too many Americans are not discerning enough to see through it.

I hope the President doesn’t stoop to that level. He doesn’t need to fight that kind of nasty fire with fire. Far better that he keep to the high road, stick to the truth, and focus on the facts, which speak for themselves.

One of the things I admire most about our President is the thoughtful and reasonable way he responds to the pointed questions he is asked by the media and others about very sensitive issues. His very heartfelt reply to a reporter’s question about the Trayvon Martin case is a good example. He has represented our nation well at home and abroad, and I know I’m not alone in taking great comfort from that.

One would expect that any person who wants to be President of the United States has to be ambitious, but candidates should not sell their soul in the process. Nor should their personal ambition be oozing out of every pore. We have the right to expect them to want what is best for our nation, and to argue their points of view on the issues as vigorously and effectively as they can, but not by misrepresenting their opponent’s positions, and resorting to half-truths and outright falsehoods. We know politicians are addicted to exaggeration, and we can forgive their customary hyperbole, but we have a right to expect them to be fair and honest.

We shall have the opportunity in the forthcoming Presidential campaign to see which candidate best meets that test.

1The Second Amendment reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
2 Alaska’s Senator Lisa Murkowski is a good example.
3 The Bill received the support of only three Republicans. It was the first legislative act signed by President Obama.President Obama. 

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