Thursday, May 31, 2007

Presidential Profiles Redux

God, was I wrong about Ron Paul. After the Fox Debates (which polls on the Fox web site show that he won!) and this interview with Bill Maher, my view of him has launched him to second best...just behind Our Mayor...with the highest possible B.

Someone had to say it. Our dicking around in Middle Eastern affairs, by both Democrat and Republican administrations, was one of the causes of 9-11. Sorry to burst your bubble out there, folks, who believe that the good ol US of A is just this weepy little innocent babe in the woods who couldn't have possibly done anything wrong...please go buy a clue...but it's true.

Now's the part where all of you call me and Ron Paul "America Haters."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gospel and Verse

It took me awhile to track down this article. Rather than link to it, I am reprinting it here in full. This is from a David Brooks column in the New York Times last April and I think it is an excellent example of just how different Senator Obama is from the rest of the candidates. He really nails the reality of foreign policy in the world of 2007 and does it in a suprisingly non partisan way. I hope this interview turns some conservative heads.

Obama, Gospel and Verse

Sometimes you take a shot.

Yesterday evening I was interviewing Barack Obama and we were talking about effective foreign aid programs in Africa. His voice was measured and fatigued, and he was taking those little pauses candidates take when they're afraid of saying something that might hurt them later on.

Out of the blue I asked, ''Have you ever read Reinhold Niebuhr?''

Obama's tone changed. ''I love him. He's one of my favorite philosophers.''

So I asked, What do you take away from him?

''I take away,'' Obama answered in a rush of words, ''the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naïve idealism to bitter realism.''

My first impression was that for a guy who's spent the last few months fund-raising, and who was walking off the Senate floor as he spoke, that's a pretty good off-the-cuff summary of Niebuhr's ''The Irony of American History.'' My second impression is that his campaign is an attempt to thread the Niebuhrian needle, and it's really interesting to watch.

On the one hand, Obama hates, as Niebuhr certainly would have, the grand Bushian rhetoric about ridding the world of evil and tyranny and transforming the Middle East. But he also dislikes liberal muddle-headedness on power politics. In ''The Audacity of Hope,'' he says liberal objectives like withdrawing from Iraq, stopping AIDS and working more closely with our allies may be laudable, ''but they hardly constitute a coherent national security policy.''

In Chicago this week, Obama argued against the current tides of Democratic opinion. There's been a sharp rise in isolationism among Democrats, according to a recent Pew survey, so Obama argued for global engagement. Fewer Democrats believe in peace through military strength, so Obama argued for increasing the size of the military.

In other words, when Obama is confronted by what he sees as arrogant unilateral action, he argues for humility. When he is confronted by what he sees as dovish passivity, he argues for the hardheaded promotion of democracy in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.

The question is, aside from rejecting the extremes, has Obama thought through a practical foreign policy doctrine of his own -- a way to apply his Niebuhrian instincts?

That question is hard to answer because he loves to have conversations about conversations. You have to ask him every question twice, the first time to allow him to talk about how he would talk about the subject, and the second time so you can pin him down to the practical issues at hand.

If you ask him about the Middle East peace process, he will wax rhapsodic about the need to get energetically engaged. He'll talk about the shared interests all have in democracy and prosperity. But then when you ask him concretely if the U.S. should sit down and talk with Hamas, he says no. ''There's no point in sitting down so long as Hamas says Israel doesn't have the right to exist.''

When you ask about ways to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, he talks grandly about marshaling a global alliance. But when you ask specifically if an Iranian bomb would be deterrable, he's says yes: ''I think Iran is like North Korea. They see nuclear arms in defensive terms, as a way to prevent regime change.''

In other words, he has a tendency to go big and offer himself up as Bromide Obama, filled with grand but usually evasive eloquence about bringing people together and showing respect. Then, in a blink, he can go small and concrete, and sound more like a community organizer than George F. Kennan.

Finally, more than any other major candidate, he has a tendency to see the world in post-national terms. Whereas President Bush sees the war against radical Islam as the organizing conflict of our time, Obama sees radical extremism as one problem on a checklist of many others: global poverty, nuclear proliferation, global warming. When I asked him to articulate the central doctrine of his foreign policy, he said, ''The single objective of keeping America safe is best served when people in other nations are secure and feel invested.''

That's either profound or vacuous, depending on your point of view.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Barack Obama at 2004 Democratic National Convention Part 2 (of 2)

Better fetch that second hanky.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Torch Is Finally Passed

In the film Bobby (2006, d: Emilio Estevez), a campaign worker, Dwayne, is having a conversation with one of the campaign leaders, Wade. It is June 4, 1968 and it is the day of the California Democratic primary. Robert F. Kennedy is just about win. Dwayne turns to Wade in a very poignant moment and says:

"Now that Dr. King is gone, no one left but Bobby - no one. "

Within hours, Bobby Kennedy would be shot. In the film, the last time we see Dwayne, he is walking out of the ballroom with his head in his hands, shaking his head and crying. The actor who plays Dwayne, Nick Cannon, perfectly conveys the total loss of all hope for the future that many, many people at the time felt.

I still feel it to this day.

Because the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy quite simply signified the triumph of evil over good. These three men represented a grave threat to a group of very powerful men in this country. If Jack, Martin or Bobby were ever allowed to live and have any real power (and Jack did for awhile), these dark hearted men would lose their wealth and influence. The policies of the Kennedys and King would've made things better for more people. Equality in all areas of our country would have been the order of the day. The accumulation of knowledge, not wealth, and of striving to be a better person would've been the goals. Imagine a country filled with intelligent, self-empowered people whose central goal was not greed. Imagine a population that was no longer living in fear. How would these evil men be able to manipulate us and prosper?

They would not be able to grind their boots into the faces of people like you and I. They would not be able to lord over us like medieval kings, demanding our servitude through the empty promise of money. They would not be able to use fear to ask us to sacrifice our lives, most likely for a lie that assists them in their selfish quest for the pretense of power.

On that day in June, almost 40 years ago, evil was victorious. The torch, that was shared and passed from Jack to Martin to Bobby, was extinguished by these horrible men. And they have been running our country ever since. We all know who they are. We see them on television everyday. They talk of "morality" and the "culture of life." What a joke. People like Jack, Martin, and Bobby....they represented the culture of life. The men that have been running our country for the last 40 years represent the culture of death. It's just that simple.

Since I was a child and my mother told me stories about the Kennedys and Dr. King, since I read about them in school and have devoted my life, in as many ways as I can, to spreading the word about their dream, I have held a small, silent hope that someone would come along and take up the torch. Not seeing anyone through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, I had all but given up.

On the evening of July 27th, 2004, I was revived from my negativity when the keynote address was given at the Democratic National Convention. The title of the speech was The Audacity of Hope. It was delivered by the junior senator from Illinois. His name was Barack Obama. As I watched him speak, my eyes began to water. His words....someone had picked up the torch. And I knew I had found the person that I wanted to lead this country.

Barack Obama, to put it simply, is America. You can see it in the story of his life, which can be read by clicking here or by buying his first book, Dreams of My Father, by clicking here. His second book, The Audacity of Hope (click here to buy), to put it simply, is what America should be. He is extremely intelligent, compassionate, and, what he lacks in experience, he makes up for in an abundance of intellectual curiosity.

His vision on the issues of the day, which can be read by clicking here, involve an interactive community of ideas which allow anyone to submit a writing, recording or video that would expand the field of solutions. Whether it's Iraq, health care, energy, or the environment, each issue section contains detailed information that drive hard for common sense solutions. I encourage all of you to click on each section on his issues page and read through his carefully researched ideas. All of them completely blow away anything anyone else has to offer while at the same time allow a blank tableau for new ideas from you and I. Simply amazing.

What does his central message to Americans really boil down to? His words....

"Get involved in an issue that you're passionate about. It almost doesn’t matter what it is--improving the school system, developing strategies to wean ourselves off foreign oil, expanding health care for kids. We give too much of our power away, to the professional politicians, to the lobbyists, to cynicism. And our democracy suffers as a result."

"When you focus on solving problems instead of scoring political points, and emphasize common sense over ideology, you'd be surprised what can be accomplished. It also helps if you're willing to give other people credit--something politicians have a hard time doing sometimes."

All of you can now see that it was Senator Obama who inspired me to write this entire series of presidential profiles. He re-affirmed my reasons for becoming a teacher. Barack Obama gets an A and is, hands down, the best candidate out of all of them. It was his words who encouraged me to look, with new eyes, at some of the people who, perhaps in the past, I would've ripped or even ignored and find common ground. And you know what? There is a lot more of it than one might think. That is what the torch truly is the hope that we can all work together and be stronger as a team, learning from each other's differences. This is a very hard thing to do in this day and age when the people that are running our country....the people that stand to lose the most from an Obama presidency....continue to propagate the politics of divisiveness.

We have been divided and conquered. It is time to put someone in the White House who is going to truly unite us and make us stronger. We need a leader that is going to show us the power within ourselves and give us the freedom to explore our true potential. More importantly, we need to realize how sacred his message is and how vital it is that we protect it. There is no doubt in my mind that sometime between now and the election, an attempt is going to be made on Senator Obama's life. If he becomes too powerful, if he gets the nomination, if he wins the presidency, if he uses the power of the presidency for the common good of all of us, the men who stand to lose the most will attempt and possibly succeed in taking him out.

If it happens, people will say it is because he was black. A "crazed racist" will be blamed. That will be a lie. My hope is that all of you reading this will know the real reason why. It will be because he wanted, like Jack, Martin, and Bobby, to give more power to the comman man and make things equal....and better for more people. Now, we will all know who is responsible. We will all be watching.

Let's make sure it doesn't happen. Protect him by spreading the word about the power that each one of us has inside of ourselves. Let's remove the extra large bag of Cheetos from our laps, turn off the latest news on the celebrity du jour's reality show, and get out in our communities and do something that helps. If we all vote for Barack Obama, we give him the power that will, in turn, give us the power we need to vastly improve the quality of our lives. He will unleash the shackles with which those evil men have chained us. We will ignite the flame that will keep our children's future eternally bright. We will truly be free.

Barack Obama's central message speaks to the very nature of all of us, liberal or conservative. Because in the final analysis, the thing that is going to put American back on the right track is the individual effort of US citizens to improve our country's socio- and political systems. Senator Obama is saying look not at me but at yourself. Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.

What are you prepared to do?

Wednesday: Video, Part 1 (of 2) of Senator Obama's Keynote Speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Bring your hankies....

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Great Article

Here is a link to a great article about Our Mayor.

It's funny but I've always thought that when someone gets ripped by both the left and the right, that person is usually on the ball. Giuliani gets flamed from the right for being too liberal socially and then gets vilified by the left as "Rotten Rudy," chastising him for supporting too many of Bush's policies. Ah well....

Tuesday: My Democratic choice for president (as if you couldn't guess by now :))

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rudy Giuliani on Abortion

Recently, Our Mayor has been talking about abortion. And in the South. Whew! That's got to be tough and my respect level for him, especially when he says stuff like this, continues to rise.

Conservatives gripe that his explanantion sounds convuluted but it makes perfect sense to me. Abortion is a very grey area and it simply cannot be placed in such a black and white context. It needs a nuanced answer and, as usual, Our Mayor delivers one.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fox News Interview Part II

Can't import this video either but I can import other ones. Oh well, Fox News must have me on their enemy combatant list

Click on this link for more pearls of greatness from Our Mayor....

Friday: More video, Giulianni clarifies his position on abortion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rudy Giuliani Interview on Hannity and Colmes (Part 1 of 2)

For some reason, YouTube is not letting me import this video so here is the link to go and watch it.

Now, I know most of you think that I have lost my mind already. And linking to a Sean Hannity video? Don't worry, I still think Sean is a mindless drone. I found this interview interesting because if a Democrat had said the things that our mayor said, Hannity would've done his usual re-frame and attack job. Instead, ol' Sean was quite the smitten kitten, which I found amusing.

Wednesday: Part 2 of the interview.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Mayor of Our Town

In 1937, Thornton Wilder wanted to write a play that would define American life. He wanted to convey the pathos of our culture and capture a snapshot of life in our country in the 1930s. Little did he know that it would become the most produced play in American history, and its timeliness become infinite. It was called Our Town.

The story takes place in the 1930s in a fictitious town called Grover's Corners and is divided into three acts. Act I is titled "Daily Life," Act II is titled "Marriage and Love," and Act III is titled "Death." The first two acts are light hearted, fun, and care free. The third act is downright maudlin and exceptionally dark. It is a timeless American story and, in the end, one realizes that it's not simply about Grover's Corners but it is about our whole nation, with its laughter, its anger, and its tears.

Throughout my years, I have seen Our Town performed several times. It was produced at my grade school, my high school, my local theater, and was even made into a film with William Holden in 1940. Each time I watched it, usually at a different point in my life, I saw a new aspect to the play that I had not seen before. Every viewing has evoked a shivering sense of Americana, in all its glory and sadness. Our Town is the purest definition of the word America.

For several days in September of 2001, the man pictured below was the Mayor of Our Town.

I love Rudy Giulianni. The level of respect I have for him as a leader is so high it simply cannot be measured. Last year, I wrote piece on him for my Profiles In Courage series, which you can read by clicking here. Much of that post contains biographical information, his accomplishments, and his extraordinary leadership on September 11th. Since I don't want to repeat myself, I thought I would touch on what he has been up to lately.

He is running for the Republican nomination for President in 2008.

By leaps and bounds, he is the best person out of all of the Republican candidates for the job. For the first time in my entire voting career, I may vote for a Republican for President, if he is nominated and the Democrats put up Hillary. He is pro choice, pro gay rights, supports reasonable gun control, tough on crime, fiscally responsible, cognisant of climate change and desirous of universal health care. Yes, it's true. Finally someone with an "R" behind their name wants to truly serve the people.

More important, he has a very clear understanding of the threat of terrorism....clearer, perhaps then any other candidate, including my top choice on the Democrat side. Definitely more clear than President Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of our current leadership. Now, many of you liberals who read this may think I have lost my mind. Didn't Giuliani say that terrorists want the Democrats to win? Doesn't Giuliani support Bush's policy in Iraq? Well, the answer is yes to both questions but let's think about that for a moment, shall we?

As far as the first question goes, he has to say that crap to get the nomination. A liberal on social issues, Giuliani needs to throw a few zingers out there to placate the base. The second question, however, bears a little more scrutiny. I think our beloved mayor is pulling a fast one on all of us, much in the same way Hillary is pulling a fast one on the Democrats except in the reverse. I think he says he supports the Bush plan but because he actually has a brain in his head, as soon as he takes office, we will see the Bush doctrine go bye-bye and say hello to the Giuliani era of world law enforcement. Y'see folks, when Rudy was the mayor of New York he did something no other mayor there had EVER done: he lowered the crime rate. And he didn't just lower it, he drastically lowered it.

The man knows how to deal with crime. His track record proves it and so, I think that Giuliani, if he wins, will astutely re-organize our armed services into a strategic fighting force that is more suited to destroying Al Qaeda, which, in the end, is not an army in the traditional sense but is a collection of international criminals. In addition, I think he will turn to diplomacy, more often than our current leader, to also aid in this endeavor. I have no doubt in my mind that he will succeed. Do you know why?

Because I watched him on 9-11. We all watched him on 9-11. He knows how to act in a crisis. He behaved with such decisiveness and courage on that day that we can feel something for a leader we haven't had in a long time: Trust.

He is the Mayor of Our Town, after all, and he gets an A from me.

Tuesday: Video! Part 1 (of 2) of the Fox News interview with Rudy Giulianni w/Sean Hannity (what the??!!....has Mark lost his mind? Sean Hannity?)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Presidential Profiles #8: John Edwards

I feel tremendously sorry for John Edwards. If this were an election year in...say....2000 or earlier, me might actually have a shot at winning the Democratic nomination. But with the glitz and glamour of Barack and Hillary, he is being lost in the shuffle. That's too bad. He would make an excellent president and here's why.

One of his central tenets is that America needs to restore its moral leadership in the world. For the last six years, that leadership has eroded. Contrary to what we here from Bush Co, detaining people without a trial, torturing them, and being partly responsible for the deaths of a few hundred thousand people isn't a blueprint for leadership. Of all the candidates, Edwards is the only one talking about the morality of what we are doing in the Middle East.

His plan for health care is nothing short of stellar. Take a look at it here. It's Universal Health Care through shared responsibility. Everyone from the individual all the way up to the federal government takes responsibility for the care of the nation. It is an extremely comprehensive plan that works to solve the problem that 18,000 people die every year in this country due to lack of access to health care because of the fact that they are uninsured. And it encourages competition between private and public providers so the notion of one monolithic and lumbering public health system is not an issue.

He wants to seriously address global warming, end our addiction to oil through alternative fuel sources, and eliminate poverty by creating opportunity for everyone as well as instilling civic responsibility in every American. His fact sheet on these three problems, click here, offer one comprehensive solution for all.

His only drawback that I can see is that he lacks specifics on what to do about Iraq but his general vision about the Middle East is right on the money. It is for these reasons that I score him at the highest possible B known to man, barely missing the coveted A of my final two candidates.

On Tuesday, I will be putting up my pick for the best Republican candidate. After that and throughout next week, I will be putting up videos from You Tube, pictures, various writings and inspirations about the man who I think would be an exceptional leader.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Presidential Profiles #8: Bill Richardson

The more I hear about Bill Richardson the more I like him. Of all the candidates I have reviewed thus far and the three I have left, he, by leaps and bounds, is the most qualified to handle our foreign policy. During his 14 years in Congress, he visited Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Iraq and Sudan to represent U.S. interests. In 1997, President Clinton appointed him as Ambassador to the United Nations and represented the US at the UN in the ongoing Israel-Palestinian issue.

In 2002, he was elected Governor of New Mexico and was lauded by traditionally right or libertarian-leaning publications and organizations such as Forbes Magazine and the Cato Institute for reforming New Mexico's economy. In 2006, Forbes credited Richardson's reforms in naming Albuquerque, New Mexico the best city in the U.S. for business and careers. Cato has consistently rated Richardson as one of the most fiscally responsible Democratic governors in the nation. Of all the Democratic candidates, he is the only one with executive experience.

In addition, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times for his work in Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea, from which he just returned a few short weeks ago with the remains of several US servicemen killed in action during the Korean War.

His policy on Iraq, all of which can be read here, is where I have drawn most of my view. His seventh point of his seven point plan states:

We must redeploy some of our troops to stop the resurgence of the Taliban and to fight the real terrorists who attacked this country on 9-11. While all American troops in Iraq must be removed, we need to maintain a military presence in the region, including in Kuwait and in the Persian Gulf. We must have the regional capacity to use air power, special forces and other means to strike Al Qaeda anywhere. We do not need American troops in Iraq to perform this essential task. We also must bring our National Guard home where they are needed for homeland security, and we must focus our energy and resources on real threats, such as nuclear proliferation, Al Qaeda, public health, and global warming.

Bottom line: Bill Richardson just makes sense. Common sense. He doesn't use the language of fear, as Bush Co does, to map out solutions in Iraq and the Middle East. He addresses the real threats we face with a no nonsense flare. His foreign policy experience is sorely needed at present and, at the very least, he would make an excellent VP or Secretary of State.

So, I score Governor Richardson at a B, slightly higher than Kucinich or Huckabee, because of his experience in international relations and his attention to detail in regards to combating terror.

Saturday-Sunday: John Edwards

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Presidential Profiles #7: Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee used to be fat. Really fat. In fact, he was so fat that he couldn't walk up the steps to his office when he was Governor of Arkansas without stopping several times to catch his breath. In 2002, he was diagnosed with diabetes which was largely due to his obesity. So he went on a diet.

He lost 110 pounds.

Now, I am not one for "Oprah moments" but looking at the man to the left, all I can say is.....YOU GO GIRL!! Since that time he has become an advocate for a healthier America, citing it as one of our biggest concerns, and trying to increase awareness about how bloody awful for you the food is in this country. And boy do we need it. In addition to becoming extremely lazy and apathetic, we have become fat. Have you seen some of the porkers waddling around lately?

So, this simple fact alone regarding Mike Huckabee is deserving enough for my respect. It's hard to go on a diet and lose that much weight. It requires a great deal of self control, which I feel is a very admirable trait. I recently watched an interview with him on Bill Maher, in which he said, "America's biggest problem is that we think that, as a Christian nation, we are superior to everyone. We are not. People that truly believe in Jesus know that he was not a conqueror but a man of peace who humbly asked for people to follow him." Well, he should know. In addition to being the Governor of Arkansas, he is also a Baptist Minister.

He recently authored a book entitled From Hope to Higher Ground: 12 Stops to Restoring America's Greatness. Go buy it here. In the book, he recommends, among other things, that Americans should listen to more music and less talk radio, do volunteer work, and have regular conversations with people of other ethnic, religious, or political backgrounds. The general tone of the book is optimistic about our country and contains, not the politics of divisiveness, but of unity. Yes, he is a creationist, pro-life, and rabidly anti gay. Based on what he has said and written, however, I don't think his personal views are going to negatively factor into his policies, which are largely based on simple kindness.

For that reason, I score Mike Huckabee at a B, slightly higher than Kucinich because his position on the Middle East calls for a more active approach to eliminating terror as a tactic in the region. Being active, though, does not necessarily mean military engagement. The time he spent traveling around the world and spreading the word of God broadened his vision of other cultures. In other words, he has intellectual curiosity and lawdy, lawdy, lawdy...we need some of that mojo.

Friday: Bill Richardson

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Presidential Profiles #6: Dennis Kucinich

In October of 1962, President Kennedy faced the biggest crisis of his presidency. The Soviet Union had moved medium range nuclear missiles into Cuba, less than 90 miles away from Florida.

In order to get as broad a perspective on the situation, President Kennedy called in a wide variety of experts on the Soviet Union. Bobby Kennedy, Attorney General, pushed hard for the ultra conservative, Dean Acheson to be in the room at all of the briefings.

The president wanted Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson was known at the time as the doviest of doves, an appeaser that would've made Chamberlain look tough. As they were debating how to confront the Soviets, air strike or blockade, Stevenson suggested they make a deal with the Russians: they remove their missiles in Cuba, the United States would remove it's missiles in Turkey. The idea was extremely weak, ill conceived, and terribly wrong given the provocation on the part of the Soviets.

Ultimately, President Kennedy went for the blockade and it worked. He remarked later in the year that he was actually quite grateful that Stevenson brought up the idea because "all of us need to be reminded that, at the end of the day, we are all human." In the year 2007, Dennis Kucinich has reminded us all that we are human.

Look at this guy. He just looks like a drip. Actually, he looks a goofy cartoon character. There's no way in heck that he is EVER going to get the nomination. And yet...I can't help but think, as my hero did, that we need to hear that voice.

The voice that wants to replace our forces in Iraq with an international peacekeeping force. The voice that wants to really reach out to moderate voices in the Middle East. The voice who wants us to formally apologize to the Iraqi people for all of the death and destruction of which we are partly responsible . The voice that wants to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace.

His unwavering idealism is equalled only by the fact that he makes decisions based on his own principles, not politics. You won't catch Dennis Kucinich putting on an orange camo jacket and going out into the woods to kill something just so he can get votes. His hope for a better place is something that we should all strive for, not something that should draw laughter and accusations of weakness. In all honesty, Dennis Kucinich is probably the candidate who most adheres to the true principles of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason, Dennis Kucinich gets a B.

I wish I could be more like him. All of us should be. I wish I didn't see the world in the jaded way that I do. Having first hand experience with Islamic extremism taught me a long time ago that they are simply too dangerous to treat with so much idealism. But like President Kennedy said, we need to hear that voice. It keeps us measured. It keeps us honest. In the final analysis, it is what makes us American.

Thursday: Mike Huckabee

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Presidential Profiles #5: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is one strange cat. For starters, there's his name. Could we really live with a president named Mitt? Mitt is actually his middle name. When you hear what his first name is you'll know why he prefers to go by his middle name.

His first name is Willard.

Then there's the whole abortion thing. He was against abortion then he was for it when a relative died of an illegal abortion and now that he is seeking the Republican nomination for President, he is back to being pro-life.

He is for the death penalty, against all forms of equal rights for homosexuals, and his favorite book is Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard (yikes!). He supports the Bush Doctrine, is against stem cell research, and is a Mormon sans the extra wives.

In many ways, he seems like an ideal candidate for conservatives....but then you get to health care. Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, made it illegal for anyone to be uninsured in regards to health care. His plan called for all employers to immediately insure all of their employees. If an individual was unemployed, they would be able to choose their provider and the state would pay for it. They also would be able to choose whatever doctor they wanted or keep their old one. Since this plan is highly logical, well thought out, is working out great, and helps our everyone equally, conservatives hate it.

And him, because if everyone gets equal treatment, as we all know, that's one step closer to communism. Besides, heaven forbid, that we would start having healthier people who then wouldn't be bilked out of their retirement money by the pharmaceutical industry. Sadly, as far as most conservatives go, this is too black a stain on Romney to fully support him.

So, even though he is really conservative on most things, he gets a C in my eyes, just above Brownback and Biden, for actually doing something about health care and succeeding.

Wednesday: Dennis Kucinich

Monday, May 07, 2007

Who The Heck Are These Guys?

You may have noticed (and will notice in the next couple of weeks) that, in my Presidential Profiles series, I am not covering everyone. If you scroll back and take a look at the last four and then look at the next seven I will be putting up over the course of the next week or so, there are some folks missing. When I decided to run this series, my first rule was that they had to announce, officially, that they were running. They also had to be someone with whom I was familiar. But some people have commented that perhaps I should cover, at least briefly, all of the dogs in the hunt, so to speak.

So I thought we would start off this week with quick takes of those people that are not running but sort of are running and those people who are relatively unknown but running. Without further adieu, here they are:

THE REPUBLICANS (Officially Announced)

Tom Tancredo-hates all illegal immigrants to the point of blowing a bowel every time the topic comes up.

Tommy Thompson-former Secretary of Health and Human Services. Incorrectly identified anthrax attack, Bush lapdog, from Wisconsin (that's an extra strike so four total).

Duncan Hunter-My friend Bob likes him.

Ron Paul-Never, under any circumstances, trust any man with two first names for a name.

Jim Gilmore-I have no idea what to say here. Who?

THE REPUBLICANS (Not officially announced)

Fred Thompson-was great in Die Hard II, although I don't care for him much in Law and Order. Oh wait...his politics. Yeah, how about someone with intellectual curiosity? We have, after all, suffered six plus years without it. Also, dude, decide already. As it stands right now, you are about 30 million dollars and counting in the hole.

Newt Gingrich-(cough...excuse me for a moment...cough cough...) Bwa-hah ha-ha....what did you spend six years bitching about when Clinton was in office? And what did you then do yourself? Fuck off, dickhead.

Chuck Hagel-The best of the bunch. I wish he would get in the race. His stance on Iraq, no nonsense look at big government, and his plain civics would make him an immediate B in my mind. Run, Charlie, Run!!!

THE DEMOCRATS (announced)

Mike Gravel-Ah, the libertarian of the bunch. And he's weird and from Alaska. There are some things I like about him but does anyone but me even know what he looks like?

THE DEMOCRATS (unannounced)

Al Gore-hey, conservatives, guess what? Al Gore has been trying to make that house (you know the one you have been having embolism after embolism about for the last couple of months because he won an Oscar and since you all suffer from collective short man syndrome and can't stand it when a liberal is ahead of you on something...) of his green but can't due to zoning restrictions in Tennessee. Oh..wait...sorry...what do I think of him as a candidate? Well, he won the presidency once so maybe he could win it again.

Wes Clark-the mother fucking stud of the bunch. Best line ever (to the gun lobby): "Ordinary Americans have no business owning assault rifles. If someone wants to own an assault rifle, then should get themselves a pair of boots and come and see me. I have a job for them." Of everyone here and mostly everyone in my series, I trust him completely to find a solution in Iraq. I am, however, a little iffy on his domestic policies such as health care and education.

So, there you have it. If I have left anyone out, please let me know. As always, I welcome your comments.

Tuesday: Mitt Romney.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Presidential Profiles #4: Sam Brownback

Grading slightly higher than Joe Biden, but still at a C, is Sam Brownback, Republican senator from Kansas. Before the Democrats that read this blog have an embolism because they think I have lost my mind, consider these points. Senator Brownback:

1. was vehemently against President Bush's NSA wiretaps program, citing "big government" interference in the lives of ordinary citizens.

2. is against capital punishment because he finds that it is incongruent with "the culture of life."

3. is against the troop surge in Iraq. He said, "We cannot fight a war with the support of only one political party. And it does mean that the parties in Iraq--Sunni, Shi’a and Kurds--must get to a political agreement, to a political equilibrium."

4. worked with Senator Ted Kennedy (!) to enact stricter border regulations.

5. with Congressman John Lewis to help win placement of the African American Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

6. supports stem cell research.

7. and, last (and most important), visited refugee camps in Sudan in 2004 and returned to write a resolution labeling the Darfur conflict as genocide, and has been active on attempting to increase U.S. efforts to resolve the situation. He is an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network, which called him a "champion of Darfur" in its Darfur scorecard, primarily for his early advocacy of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act.

What the??!! Is this man a Democrat in sheep's clothing? No, because he still is pro-life ("Roe vs. Wade was a holocaust"), very against gay marriage, and thinks that Christianity should be taught in every school everywhere.

Yet, Senator Brownback gives me hope that Christian Conservatives, like himself, are beginning to see the hypocrisy of their ways. If you are going to be pro-life, you gotta be pro-life all the way. He is what many are calling the "New Evangelical." He, like Reverend Boyd, talk about the work of Christ being humble, seeking to eliminate poverty and spread the word of God through peaceful means, not the end of a gun barrel.

Sam Brownback may not fall in line with everything I believe in but he is making serious effort in areas that need attention. For that he gets a slightly higher C (I don't want to get into the plus or minus thing) than Joe Biden.

Monday: Presidential Profiles Short Takes (aka why aren't THESE people being profiled?)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Presidential Profiles #3: Joe Biden

A while back, I saw Joe Biden on Real Time with Bill Maher. He told a story about a recent visit to the White House. Senator Biden was meeting with President Bush to discuss Iraq. He asked the president whether it was wise to continue in Iraq and what his strategy was to combat the insurgency. The president told Senator Biden that he felt that it was wise because he "felt it in his gut." His strategy was to stay the course.

The senator than replied, "Mr President, are you suggesting that we keep troops in harm's way based on your gut feeling with no change in strategy?" President Bush paused for a moment and said, "Well, Joe, you know I seek guidance from God quite a bit and after much thoughtful prayer, I knew in my gut that to continue is the right thing to do."

"But what about the intelligence reports? The commanders on the ground? What are they saying?" Biden asked.

"I don't pay too much attention to details, " the president stated.

This exchange, if true, is frightening. It also made me like Joe Biden a little bit more because at least someone was asking some hard questions about Iraq. His foreign relations experience is vast, serving as a long time member and current chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. His plan for Iraq calls for "a third way that can achieve the two objectives most Americans share: to bring our troops home without leaving chaos behind. The idea is to maintain a unified Iraq by federalizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis breathing room in their own regions." The key points include:

1. Keep Iraq together by giving its major groups breathing room in their own regions. A central government would be left in charge of common interests like defending the borders and distributing oil revenues.

2. Secure the support of the Sunnis -- who have no oil -- by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue.

3. Increase, not end, reconstruction assistance but insist that the oil-rich Arab Gulf states fund it and tie it to the creation of a massive jobs program and to the protection of minority rights.

4. Hold an international conference to enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.

5. Begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007, with a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.

I like all of this but.....

Joe Biden is also kind of a dick, which is also one of the things that makes him appealing. The bad side to his dickishness comes in the fact that one of his main convictions is his own vanity. I mean, look at the man's hair! He also voted for the war and is now against so my beef with him is the same as Hillary Clinton. At least, though, he has a plan that has some specifics to it, something that Hillary is sorely lacking.

So it is for this reason I give him a C.

Friday: Sam Brownback.

2008 Presidential Profile #2: Hillary Clinton

I think Hillary Clinton is a liar. I don't think she is a liar for the reasons that have been circulating in conservative circles for the last 15 years. In what is probably the greatest example in recorded history of the pot calling the kettle black, conservatives will have you believe that Hillary is responsible for: a) the deaths of hundreds of people who "crossed" her and Bill; b) stealing millions of dollars from taxpayers; and c) every single bad thing that has ever happened to everyone ever.

Most of this is simply not true. It's all part of the usual conservative reframing of reality baloney. What is true about her is that she has spent the last seven years cozying up to several large corporations, especially key defense contractors in New York as well as several red states, and that she supports the Iraq War. She may say she doesn't but believe me, she does. If she is elected president, nothing will change in Iraq.

I wanted to like Hillary, y'know, I really did. The first woman president? We need a goddess in the White House. But Hillary? Nope. She is too far gone around the bend. Her time in Washington has made her cold and calculating--she'd give Dick Vader a run for his money, no doubt. While she and I do share some common interests on domestic issues, it is Iraq that is THE issue. And the Middle East. And defeating terrorism. I think her policies would be a simple continuation of the same crap we have had for the last six years.

The other thing is that if she is elected, our country would remain as divided as we are now. There are still people out there who froth at the mouth when Bill Clinton's name comes up. I would wager there are about 90 million of them in this country. There are still more who are Democrats and just don't like her. So, half of the country would hate her (for all the wrong reasons of course) and we just don't need that right now, whether it is justified or not.

Now I know that some of my liberal friends are going to pissed as hell about this take on Hillary but too bad. At the end of the day, I am finding it a real struggle to see a difference between her and W. Enlighten me, if you will but for now I give her a D.

Thursday: Joe Biden.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

2008 Presidential Profile #1: John McCain

I used to like John McCain. Remember the cool mack daddy maverick who bitch-slapped W all over the joint in 2000? God, I miss that guy.

He's gone now and he's been replaced by this man (left), whom we see pictured with President Bush at a recent fundraising event in Arizona. He might look like John McCain, walk like John McCain, and even talk like John McCain but he sounds an awful lot like George W. Bush, especially when he talks about Iraq. To put it simply, Senator McCain has taken leave of his senses when it comes to the topic of the Iraq War. He believes every single thing that comes out of W's mouth about the war and is betting his whole campaign on it. He thinks the surge will work, that the insurgency is in its last throes, and all the Middle East really needs is a forced democracy. Good Lord.....

He also has been seen cozying up to Jerry Falwell, who he used to call a moron. So basically he has been spending his days running to the right which, in all likelihood, will cost him the election because most people (like me) loved him for his independent attitude. He claims that his convictions have been the same all along but we all know it really isn't true. A man who I thought capable of no bullshit has an enormous amount of it spewing forth from his mouth.

It is for that reason that, as a presidential hopeful goes, he gets a D.

Wednesday: Hillary Clinton