*Lox and liver knishes – Certain things do not seem to go together. A recently released study of American Jewry by the American Jewish Committee verified an interesting phenomena/contradiction that I have wondered about. The study found that a strong majority of Jewish Americans are liberal in political philosophy and opposed to the Bush administration and its “campaign against terrorism”. By over a two-thirds majority they believe we should never have invaded Iraq. The contradiction is that the leading political Jewish voices in this country are Bush apologists and conservative/neo-con adherents. They helped concoct and/or support Bush’s misguided and failed unilateral foreign policy and preemptive war. Eric Alterman, writing for The Nation, notes that these less-than-representative Jewish voices dominate the political conversation. They include Irving Kristol, William Kristol, Seth Lipsky, Martin Peretz, Norman Podhoretz, John Podhoretz, Richard Perle, Richard Cohen, Mortimer Zuckerman, Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Goldberg, Lawrence Kaplan, Charles Krauthammer, David Horowitz, Jonah Goldberg, David Gelernter, Ruth Wisse, David Brooks and David Frum. Alterman notes, “Given the scare tactics the neocons routinely employ--from their frequent deployment of the intellectually vacuous term "Islamofascism," to Perle and Frum's warning that the nation's only choice is "victory or holocaust"--it is a remarkable tribute to the good sense of American Jewry that it remains a bastion of liberal humanism despite such naked attempts to manipulate longstanding fears and insecurities.” AND, like mayonnaise on corned beef, these pundits have been consistently wrong.
*Jews for Jesus in a Secular Society – This is a phrase I suggest characterizes the above noted Jewish “voices” that strongly support the poster boy for Christianizing America. Included in this group should be the Jewish Orthodox Joe Lieberman who genuflects at the Bush altar and recently endorsed for president John McCain, the man who said that America is a Christian nation. Apparently, selling one’s political soul has become a dollar store commodity.
*Let the games begin – Regardless of who wins the upcoming Democratic primary elections I will feel that America will be the winner. Edwards, Dodd, Biden. Obama, Kucinich, Richardson and Clinton give America a substantively better alternative to what we currently have and what the Republicans are offering. As noted by Markos at dailykos.com “every candidate on the Democratic side shares the same core principles, and that every candidate on the Republican side opposes them.” The choices are so clear and diametrically opposed that any candidates who speak of bipartisanship have a better chance of having pigs feet declared Kosher. Until the Republicans can locate a soul that embraces “American” values and the well-being of us citizens let them continue on the road to political Siberia.
*Platform for change ~ John Edwards– In an email I received this week from the John Edwards campaign he outlines some steps that he would take if elected President: “He will work to restore America's moral authority in the world by upholding the rule of law and safeguarding our civil liberties. He will say no to torture, protect our troops and our values by upholding the Geneva Conventions anywhere American security forces, military or civilian, are engaged. He will also restore habeas corpus. Because no president is above the law, he will respect the letter and spirit of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and end Bush's warrantless domestic spying program.
While much of the Patriot Act was necessary to ensure that intelligence agencies are able to share critical information, it included provisions that have been abused by this administration. John Edwards will restore important safeguards to the three provisions most susceptible to abuse: the "sneak-and-peek" delayed-notice searches, National Security Letters and the business and library records provisions.” These are certainly qualities that I expect of an American president.
~NY Times Editorial 12/31/07 – As America moves beyond the Bush era it is imperative that we understand what took place during this administration so that it can be corrected and not repeated, continued or expanded. This editorial is an excellent primer.
~The Death of the Bill of Rights – markthshark at dailykos.com has written a well-documented timeline about how the Bush/Cheyney administration has damaged our democracy over the past seven years. The change that these men have insinuated into the framework of our government is not widely recognized nor does it bode well for our democratic well-being. When a society is relatively prosperous, relatively peaceful and has enjoyed unprecedented freedoms, there is a sense that it will continue unabated. World history has demonstrated this future view is naive. The vigilance that a free society requires has taken on a new importance.
~Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics has released it top ten ethics scandals of 2007
*Lest we forget – In 2007, one thousand and fourteen (1014) U.S. service men and women were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since these wars began over 3900 American service men and women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of these deaths as well as 30,000 injuries were unnecessary.
*Quote of note - Clarence Thomas recently told an overflow crowd at Chapman University that he never wanted to become a Supreme Court justice, or even a judge. "There's not much that entices about the job," Thomas said, answering questions from the public that provided a rare glimpse of the man behind the office. "There's no money in it, no privacy, no big houses, and from an ego standpoint, it does nothing for me." I would like to suggest to Justice Thomas that on January 21, 2009 he resign from the Supreme Court and reduce both his misery and that of the majority of Americans since his jurist philosophy is best suited to a Neolithic society.
*Xenophobia ~ pandering – Many are wondering how the subprime fiasco came about. Theories about greedy financial institutions and unethical mortgage sellers aside, we have an answer from the somnambulant Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson. He told potential voters in Iowa that immigrants deserve some of the blame. "A lot of them couldn't communicate with the people they were getting the mortgage from." Hasta la vista Fredo.
*Scratching the surface ~ finding the tarnish – The site dailykos.com has done a series on Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. When running for this high office virtually nothing in one’s past goes unnoticed. In 1992 The Ron Paul Political Report had the following: “Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action.... Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the "criminal justice system," I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal... We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings, and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers.” No oKKK to Paul.
*Privatizing immorality – “Two hundred and fifty-six people once held in Iraqi prisons -- and who were released without ever being charged with a crime -- have filed suit against a US military contractor for their alleged torture between 2003 and 2004. The former prisoners are asking for millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages against CACI International Inc. of Arlington, VA “. The State Department gave private contractors a free rein with no oversight. We will be learning much more about the murder, torture, rape and theft committed by employees of these private companies during the private war within the Iraq war.
*Did he really say that?
-Warning ~ from Mike Huckabee – The Republican candidate for president, once again establishing his “grasp” of foreign policy and protecting the home front, had this to say following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, "We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there's any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”
-Warning ~ about Mike Huckabee – On Meet the Press Mike Huckabee offered his solution to the illegal immigration problem. It goes something like this. During a 120 day window the U.S. will process out 15,000,000 illegal immigrants where they return to their country of origin. (Not to go unnoticed, this would require about 300,000 busloads or 50,000 flights.) The immigrants then apply to return to America while the borders are being sealed. Since this will all occur within 4 months the negative effect on the economy will be minimal.
*What’s good for the goose ~ is good for the goose – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been one of the leading advocates for campaign finance reform. He must have meant for other people. The Washington Post reports: “McCain...has spent a long career decrying "special interests" and politicians who offer special access to them in order to raise money. As a presidential candidate this year, McCain has found himself assiduously courting both lobbyists and their wealthy clients, offering them private audiences as part of his fundraising. He also counts more than 30 lobbyists among his chief fundraisers, more than any other presidential contender.” McCain likes to characterize his political campaign bus as the “Straight Talk Express”. It may be the only evidence of “straight talk” in his campaign.
*Bah humbug CIGNA HealthCare – On December 11th doctors at UCLA Medical Center determined that 17 year old Nataline Sarkisyan needed a liver transplant. CIGNA denied payment. A groundswell of protests by friends, nurses and caring people eventually convinced CIGNA to reverse their decision on December 20th – the day that she died. The profits of America’s health insurers and the compensation paid to their executives are growing and the actual coverage that most of us receive is diminishing. This is a poignant example of the questionable state of healthcare insurance in this country. It is a situation that will only improve when a responsible and proactive federal government gets involved. At the present time both health insurers and the pharmaceutical companies virtually own the decision makers in Washington. Republican strategists would have us believe that the “profit motive” is the incentive for corporations to be responsible members of the community. Empirical evidence suggests not in this country in this century. It will require a leadership change in the White House and the congress for Americans and their doctors to regain a more responsible and responsive healthcare system.
*The President speaks - At a recent press conference President Bush said, “It’s what I do during my presidency. I go around spreading good will, talking about the importance of spreading freedom and peace.” If I were at the press conference I would have asked the location of the freedom and peace he has fostered. It appears to be one of those state secrets.
*A toast to 2008 - Drinking a little alcohol every day, especially wine, may be associated with an increase in life expectancy in middle-aged men. A 40 year Dutch study found that light alcohol consumption was associated with a lower rate of cardiovascular death and of death from all causes, and a nearly four year increase in lifespan. To your good health!
* “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey