Friday, December 30, 2011

Memories from 2011 Equal Tears and Laughter

The year 2011 was remarkable. The Arab Spring. The end of Bin Laden and Khadaffi. The Japanese quake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. One weather calamity after another, here and abroad. The debt ceiling crisis. Occupy Wall Street. The crazy GOP run-up to the primaries. The end of our occupation of Iraq.

We all have our specific memories. In no particular order, here are some of mine.

-  Peter Falk died.  It's well to remember an actor like Falk, who spread delight for decades in a wounded world. If the going gets rough in 2012, watch "The In-Laws", one of the funniest movies ever made. We'll miss you, Mr. Falk. "Oh, there's just one other thing..."

- 9-9-9 and Cain's bizarre ad with his smoking campaign manager and Cain's weird leer. (Actually, I wish this memory would go away!)

- The brave Japanese workers who kept going back into those hideously dangerous nuclear plants.

- The death of Vaclav Havel. Truly a man for all seasons, the poet and freedom fighter who proved that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

- Michele Bachman's husband dancing with her on a campaign stage. And badly too.

- Obama's great comic performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner while, unknown to us, he was waiting word on the outcome of the raid on Bin Laden.

- The voter who told a pollster that Newt Gingrich has "too much luggage".

- Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell endorsing Mitt Romney because "he's been consistent since he changed his mind."

- The Tea Party Congressman who vowed he would not only vote against raising the debt ceiling but would vote "to lower it". (Which is the equivalent of telling your bank that you've decided you owe it less than you do.)

- Mitt Romney constantly saying, "Ha. Ha. Ha." The man doesn't laugh. He SAYS, "Ha. Ha. Ha." Heaven help us, not eight years of THAT!

- John Boehner repeatedly being the man who couldn't deliver on deals he had made (which is a fatal flaw in politics).

- Donald Trump's stony face at the White House Correspondents Dinner while Obama shredded him. Also Donald Trump's hair and his weird little mouth. (I wish I could forget Donald Trump entirely.)

- How handsome and beautiful the Russians were who were photographed at the anti-Putin protests. They looked straight out of "Dr. Zhivago". Love those Russian hats! (Maybe Donald Trump should get one to cover whatever it is that is dead and lying on his head.)

- The thugs on camels attacking the Egyptian protesters, and then the joy of the Arab protesters when they triumphed in country after country.

- The OWS people occupying the "Law and Order" set that was a mock-up of the real thing and asking the TV folks, "What are your demands?"

- Jon Stewart bemoaning the end of Herman Cain but then delighting in the prospect of a debate moderated by Donald Trump. Stewart is the master! (Will Trump EVER go away?!)

- George Will on a Sunday morning talk show,  apoplectic about the GOP candidates: "Charlatan entrepreneurs!"

- The last U.S. Army truck leaving Iraq.

- President Obama's smile.

Let's be sure he's still smiling at this time next year. Then we can all smile.

So here's a toast to the people of laughter and courage: Obama, Havel, Jon Stewart, Peter Falk, those Japanese and Arabs and Russians and Occupiers, and our brave men and women now back from Iraq and the ones who never came home. And let us not forget the photographers and journalists who brought us the story of 2011 and especially those who died doing it.

"Ah, brave new world that has such people in it."

Happy New Year! Let's make it a good one!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's Predictions for 2012

It's risky predicting anything, especially in politics. But  -  what the heck!  -  I'm only old once. So here goes for 2012!

1. Obama will turn thumbs down on the XL pipeline.

2. The environmentalists will still be mad at him about something.

3. The Congress will enact an additional 10 month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits after the Tea Party House members try to hold the provisions hostage AGAIN.

4. Eric Cantor will try to get the Speakership away from John Boehner.

5. Secretary Clinton will keep traveling all around the world as the best and hardest working Secretary of State in modern times and therefore still not have time to get her hair done.

6. Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential nominee.

7. Chris Christie will be the GOP vice-presidential nominee.

8. The GOP will attempt to steal the election in November with the help of a lot of GOP governors who will arrange for "problems" at polling places in Democratic precincts.

9. Ron Paul will run on the Libertarian ticket or some third party ticket. He won't win.

10. Ruth Bader Ginsberg will retire from the Supreme Court, and Obama will replace her with Hilary Clinton, who will thus have time to finally get her hair done.

11. Economics experts will make a lot of wrong predictions.

12. Stuff will happen.

Will Obama win?

As Winston Churchill once said, when he was saying everything that Mark Twain hadn't said: "People get the government they deserve."

You're the only one who knows if Obama will win because you are the one who will make it happen. Or not.

So what's it going to be?

Monday, December 26, 2011

XL Pipeline Deadline: A Gift from the GOP to Obama?

Will Obama win or lose points in 2012 on the XL pipeline? Do you even know what the XL pipeline is?

Briefly, it's a pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Canada to Gulf coast refineries. It's a stupid project, roundly condemned by environmentalists and anyone with half a brain, but the GOP seized on it as a potential campaign issue and inserted it into the just-concluded fight over extending  payroll tax relief and unemployment benefits. As the price for agreeing to the two-month extension of these two vital measures, the GOP included a provision requiring Obama to approve or deny the XL project within sixty days. Prior to this, the administration had announced it would delay a decision until the present environmental studies were complete, probably at least a year.

On the surface it may look like the oil industry and their bought-and-paid for GOP Congressional representatives have scored a victory on the issue. But they didn't. The 60-day provision is a trap, a dog and pony show misguidedly staged by the GOP for the oil industry. It actually makes it easier for Obama to kill the project. In fact, it virtually begs him to kill it!

How? Because sixty days is obviously not enough time to complete the environmental and health studies for the project, and the public can understand that, especially as they learn that the project will possibly endanger the water supply for much of the Midwest. Once Obama has been "forced" by the new deadline to deny the project, it goes all the way back to square one, i.e. the proponents have to start all over with a new filing. All the way back to square one is a long, long way back. This is the kind of delay we environmentalists have always used to obstruct or kill bad projects.

But will Obama actually deny the project when the sixty days are up? There are three indications that he will.

First, he has already countermanded the State Department's premature approval of the project by requiring more study after environmentalists started screaming this fall.

Second, a prominent White House staff person has said Obama is unlikely to approve the project within the sixty-day limit because that's not enough time for environmental review. The staffer speaking was Gene Sperling, director of Obama's National Economic Council. White House team members do not go on record with such statements unless the President concurs. They don't if they want to keep their kneecaps. Also, since Sperling is head of an economic council in the White House, NOT an environmental one, his statement indicates that the White House has decided to go along with the environmentalists in the Democratic party and not with the labor unions that want the pipeline jobs.

Third, two very major Democratic Congressmen have said they have been reassured by the White House
that Obama will turn thumbs down on the project when the sixty days runs out. The Congressmen are no other than Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts. These are heavy-duty dudes, and you don't tell them "not to worry" unless you really mean it.

So there you are. The GOP in the House and the oil industry may think they got something with that sixty-day measure, but they got zilch. And they gave Obama a lovely opportunity to score political points, not just with his environmental base, but with lots of Midwest voters who have been worried about their water supply. In fact, because of the GOP drum-beating about the 60-days provision, far more voters are now aware of the pipeline and its potential problems.

And who really set all this up to happen? Rumor is that Obama himself quietly tempted the GOP into the entire trap. If so, he's learned how to set the bait every bit as well as Clinton used to for Newt Gingrich. When Speaker Gingrich seriously goofed and shut down the government back in the day, Clinton's fingerprints were all over it. Like Gingrich, the present House GOP contingent is blinded by its self-bestowed glory and can't resist over-reaching. Suckers!

I'm willing to stick my neck out and offer an early prediction for the New Year: the XL pipeline is not headed for the Gulf coastline in 2012. It's headed for the toaster.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stuff These In Your Stocking and Smile!

BREAKING NEWS ......  Hurrah! Santa just found another gift at the bottom of his sack! Right after I wrote this posting, the news came that the GOP in the House has caved in and agreed to extending the paycheck tax cut and unemployment compensation. This is wonderful good news for those who desperately need the money and for an economy that is on the mend. But it doesn't wipe away the bad rap deserved by the Tea Party Congress. Scaring people is not nice! No one will forget what nasty and callous guys these GOP House members really are.
Lots of good news this holiday season! So let's rejoice before we have to go back to contemplating the Grinchy GOP lineup for the Iowa caucuses. Take a moment and stuff these goodies in your stocking.

Top of the news is that President Obama's poll numbers are up significantly from a couple of months ago. He now has a favorable job performance rate of 49%! This is a six-point gain, and even his prior 43% was incredibly good for an incumbent when unemployment is still high. Even more surprising is that he beats the GOP as "most trusted" on managing taxes. Yes, TAXES! That's historically been the GOP stock in trade.

More good news. Obama's climb in favorability shows that his theme of fighting for the middle class and for fairness in taxation is working. He's taken off the gloves and, so far, is keeping them off. Let's hope he sticks to this theme. Repetition is the heart of effective campaigning.

More good news. One major poll shows Obama beating Romney by about 6 points nationally. The other would-be GOP nominees do a lot worse in a match-up. Until now, polls have shown Romney and Obama as a tie.

More good news. Claims for unemployment compensation are down yet again. This week's drop beat all expert expectations, and the number of claims hasn't been this low since  -  GET THIS!  -   April 2008. Since there has been a string of these lower numbers, there's some indication that another drop in the unemployment rate may be coming at month's end. (For those of you who have asked: Yes, these figures are seasonally adjusted so that temporary retail hires for the Christmas season don't falsely skew the tally.)

More good news. New housing starts went up last month, to the astonishment of experts.

More good news. Consumer confidence is improving.

More good news. For once, the media is telling it like it is, blaming the GOP House for stalling the  extension of unemployment benefits and, by blocking the paycheck tax break, taking $1000 out of every working person's pocket. Usually the media bends over backward to be "balanced" and blames both parties even when it's the GOP which is preventing things from getting done. Not this time! Did you ever think you would bless the Wall Street Journal? Its recent editorial tells the GOP to stop screwing around and immediately abandon a position that is stupid, stubborn, and killing the Republican brand. With the WSJ screaming like that, the rest of the media had to tell it like it really is.

More good news. For once, the White House PR people are being clever. They have invited people to post what the loss of that payroll tax break will mean to them and their families. And the media is publicizing the postings. Things like, "That's the money for my insulin." It's sad about the insulin, but this is the kind of reality that may pressure the House GOP to stop being Scrooge.

More good news. The GOP circular firing squad goes on shooting. Boy, do they ever! Romney and Paul blasting Gingrich. Bachman attacking Paul. Santorum squeaking at everybody. With all the footage the GOP candidates are running against each other on Iowa TV, the Democrats' ads for 2012 are being put together for them.

More good news. Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has just announced he is a candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination for president. Sure, you never heard of him when he was running for the  GOP nomination, but now you'll hear even less of him. On the other hand, he'll be there to challenge Ron Paul when the latter gives up hope for the GOP spot and bounces over to his real home in the Libertarian Party. Gosh, I hope the media gives us at least some samples of the two frothing at each other about who can better demolish the government and reinstitute the 19th century. And let's hope the Libertarian syphones votes from the GOP in the general election.

More good news. Americans Elect, a bunch of shadowy political has-beens and financially flush but anonymous donors, is being scrutinized critically by the Huffington Post and a few other outlets. About time. This group of would-be kingmakers has qualified itself on the ballots of twelve states, including California as of today. They say they are not a political party, but how is a not-political-party on a ballot? I don't know. They say they are the means by which "ordinary Americans" can directly pick a candidate for the presidency and ignore the offerings of our two major parties. This isn't true. The candidate will actually be chosen by the organization's Board of Directors, according to the fine print unearthed by Huffington. But more on this another time. Meantime, treat yourself to a read of the Huffington piece by Peter D. Rosenstein.

More good news. It's days old. I've written of it before. But it is still good news.

The troops are out of Iraq and coming home for the holidays!

And that's the best news of all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two Men Looked Through Prison Bars and Havel Had a Scooter

The last American troops are crossing the border today, leaving Iraq even as I write.

Meantime, an important man of peace has just died.  Vaclav Havel, writer and former president of the Czech Republic. In his twenty-year struggle for the freedom of the Czech people, he faithfully adhered to his central belief: "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred." He opposed war and violence even in the face of injustice.

My mother had a saying when we were kids: "Two men looked through prison bars, and one saw mud and one saw stars."

As a child I found this deeply puzzling. Why was my mother holding up prisoners as examples of something for us kids to learn. If they were in prison, hadn't they done something bad? And wasn't the real problem how to get out of that prison, rather than what they were looking at?

In his long struggle against Communist tyranny in Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel  actually went to prison more than once. He kept focused on the stars in the night sky, not the mud. He wrote plays and poetry and essays in prison. He kept writing about freedom. His works were smuggled into other Iron Curtain countries, especially Poland and Hungary. And -  finally  -  the walls came tumbling down.

A poet had spiked the guns of tanks with mere words and swept aside the Iron Curtain that had lain across all of Eastern Europe for 44 years. Havel then became president of a reborn Czechoslovakia.

But here's the best part. In the New York Times, his obituary reports that he traveled the long corridors of the presidential palace on a child's scooter. And on a stop at an airport he kept political heads of state waiting while he had a chat with Mick Jagger. He also loved jazz. This was a man who knew how to live!

Let me abuse the vehicle of metaphor for a moment and focus on the word "scooter" (no pun intended).

Remember, "Scooter" Libby and his bosses George W and Dick Cheney? Remember that they needlessly killed 4500 Americans and a ghastly number of Iraq civilians? Remember how "Scooter" lied to protect the devil duo and all that they stood for.  Might making"right" even when the premises are dead wrong. Large theories held with great delusions of grandeur. Lying to cover up bad stuff. And people dying, dying, dying.

Give us a man who prefers a real scooter, a kid's scooter, who goes gliding along the corridors of power with the purity of a child's heart, who believes in love and not war. Like Martin Luther King in "Letter from Birmingham Jail", Havel never took his eyes off the stars.

It's hard to preach peace, write well, bring freedom to a nation, and keep one's balance on a kid's scooter.

You did well, Mr. Havel. We will miss you, and we are better off for your having been with us. Thank you for speaking up for peace.

Like any good man of the theater, you timed your exit well. It's Christmas. And our troops are coming home.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gifts from Your Secret Santa

Over the next nine days, thousands of weary warriors will be walking through the front door of home. They will be home for Christmas. Their kids will hug them around the knees. Mothers and fathers will weep for joy as they hug a son or daughter. Spouses will finally know joy in hearts that have ached for so long.

Thanks, President Obama. Thanks for bringing them home and for ending one of the most disgraceful episodes in American history. Yesterday John McCain made clear this end would not have come had he been elected president. He said you would be "scorned and disdained" by history for bringing home our women and men.

Screw John McCain. And thanks, Mr. President, for all the other things you have given us.

We tend to forget. Because of the media despising good news, you've been sort of a Secret Santa. So here and now, let me count the ways:

 1. Ending the Iraq war yesterday.
 2. Ridding the world of Osama Bin Laden and 22 of his major guys.
 3. Saving us from a cataclysmic Second Great Depression.
 4. The Health Care Act. (America waited 100 years while all other presidents failed at this.)
 5. Ending "don't ask - don't tell."
 6. Getting the auto industry to agree to new standards on carbon emissions and miles-per-gallon.
 7. Saving the U.S. auto industry.
 8. Getting new regulations passed to control Wall Street and the damn banks.
 9. Helping the Libyan people get rid of a dictator without costing one American life.
10. Mending America's frayed relationships with the rest of the world.
11. Demanding  -  and getting!  -  $20 BILLION from BP for reparation to victims of the oil spill and for restoration of the Gulf Coast that will undo the environmental harm inflicted by a century of human stupidity.
12. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
13. The Veterans Employment Act.
14. Stopping the GOP from tipping the US into debt default last summer.
15. The $250 we each got in 2009 from the feds.
16. The $3000 each family has received in lower payroll taxes at $1000 per year over the past 3 years.
17. The extended unemployment benefits over the past three years.
18. The halving of the "donut hole" RX expense seniors must bear.
19. The 26-and-under who can now stay on their parents' health insurance.
20. The lawsuit against Arizona's racist anti-immigrant laws.
21. A REALLY BIG ONE! The treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear arms.
22. Support for the Arab Spring.
23. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
24. Appointing Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State. (Who else since Lincoln has so honored his rival?)
25. Appointing the first Latina to the Supreme Court.
26. Eric Holder's announcement that the Justice Department will fight the Republican efforts to deprive one million Americans of their right to vote.
27. The delay of approval of the Canadian fuel pipeline through one of America's major aquifiers.
28. The now-in-effect end of "caps" on health insurance coverage. (A 44-year-old friend of our family died because of the insurance company caps. Obama's health care law would have saved him.)
29. Making fun of Donald Trump at that Press Club dinner. (You're the best president for humor since JFK.)
30. Your smile.

And that ain't all! There's another SIXTY Obama achievements listed at a site called 3chicspolitico. My thirty were just the ones I came up with off the top of my head. The three politico chics came up with ninety because there are three of them and only one of me.

What did I forget? Among other things, getting the middlemen lenders out of the student loan program and providing for renegotiation of a lot of those loans. That's a biggie. But there's tons of others. AND, just announced today:  an end of federal funding for any experimenting on chimps! Even the animals can be grateful to Obama.

What did you forget of all the good things Obama has done?

Plenty, I'll bet.

We owe the skinny guy a lot. Far more than can be covered with a simple "Thank you." So does the world. People everywhere have benefitted by the end of Osama bin Laden and his gang, the avoidance of a Great Depression, the Arab Spring, the nuclear arms reduction treaty, the reduction in carbon from autos.

But more than we owe Obama a big thanks, we owe ourselves his re-election. Even though he has done an amazing amount to help us as individuals and this country as a nation, we are yet in perilous times.

Do you REALLY want Mitt Romney running this country?

It's up to you, you know. As I've said before, elections depend on volunteer precinct workers. Campaign funding SHOULD also depend on us folks, yet only 13% of the 99% give anything to political campaigns. And ordinary Republicans give far more in small contributions than do we Democrats.

The best thank you to Obama and gift to ourselves is getting involved ASAP in re-electing that smiling and skinny guy.

Can we do the right thing and help Obama like he's helped us and the world? Yes, we can! It's the best Christmas present we could ever give ourselves.

Better even than See's candy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Funny? You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

Life is so good! Right now politics is dishing up stuff so funny, so gratifying, that you just want to run out and hug the first person you see.

Let's take the item about the TV show "Law and Order" and Occupy Wall Street. The producers of the  show decided to do an episode with a plot including OWS. So the production people went to Foley Square in NYC this past week and set up OWS-type stuff as props: tents, library, cafeteria, etc. The police had only recently cleared the real OWS out of NY's little parks. Now along come about 100 actual Occupy people who step over the yellow tape bounding the set and just move right in. Some crawl into the tents; some browse the library; and some help themselves to the food. "Occupy Wall Street Is Not For Sale" someone writes on a fake OWS-type sign on the set. "OWS Is NOT a TV Show" is painted over another.

Best part? The newly-gathered Occupiers begin shouting at the TV folks, "What are your demands?"

Oh, America, I do love you so! You wild thing you!

Next item: Callista Gingrich's face. She's the third wife of Newt, as you may know. The one with the hair helmet. And all that bling from Tiffany's. Up to now her hair has been so weird that one could hardly notice anything else about her. That all changed on Saturday night at the latest GOP debate. Oh, my, did it ever!

George Stephanopoulus asked Newt if having had affairs and divorces should count against a candidate.  Gingrich looked deeply solemn and replied that he had made serious mistakes in his life and had had to repent and seek forgiveness from God. Some intelligent TV production person had the camera full-face on Callista while Newt was deeply repenting. Callista was not smiling.

She's sitting there, being called a "mistake" by her husband. She's being called a sin. She's being called a reason for repentance. And she's not liking it. Not one little bit. On her stoney face is that expression that says, "You just wait until I get you home, sonny boy."

Tiffany's is going to have a really good jewelry-selling year if Callista has anything to say about it.

The funniest part about this lovely bit is that none of the talking heads have noticed the delicious moment. They just chatter on, oblivious to that picture of a bleached blonde bling babe getting the Scarlet A burned on her forehead by her old, fat, colossally stupid and infinitely boring so-called husband.

Third item is a gift that keeps on giving. After years of being the long-suffering victims of Karl Rove's America-destroying elevation of George W and of the arrogant snideness of commentator George Will, we are all being treated to watching them go absolutely nuts because of the GOP candidates. They are SUFFERING! Visibly and vociferously! George Will has denounced the GOP would-be nominees as "charlatans", "entrepreneurs", and  -  heaven help us!  -  "charlatan entrepreneurs." This is the equivalent of George Will sputtering in rage. I love it.

Rove is tearing out his last wisps of hair. Before departing, Herman Cain drove him almost to apoplexy, as  Rick Perry and the other strange GOP contenders still do. Rove's apparently tolerable candidate, Mitt Romney, is "flailing", Rove noted three days ago, and in his flailing is failing to stop Newt Gingrich on his rise. The LAST thing Rove wants is Gingrich as the GOP presidential nominee!

Not only is Gingrich likely to lose the presidential race for the GOP, but he's also likely to remind a lot of people why they should vote Democrats into Congress. Even worse, at least for poor old Rove, is that Gingrich is never going to be Karl's boy. Gingrich's outsize ego and power hunger is easily equal to Rove's. And that's saying a lot. Just over a decade ago Rove jumped into the lead in GOP power politics when the likes of Gingrich, Dick Armey, and Tom DeLay had all crashed and burned. He shoved George W Bush into the nomination and became "the Architect", not just of Bush's presidency but of the GOP's about-to-be takeover of American politics for the next 50 years. Or so it was in Rove's dreams. Now he's up against another GOP madman given to dreaming of Uber Alles.

It's sort of like watching the Joker and Dr. Moriarty duking it out to be the Prince of Evildom. May the worse man win?

The funny part is that there is nothing left to win control of. There is no longer a well-organized, powerful Republican party. A kingdom has fallen apart. Part of it has gone frothing away as the Tea Party under the coaching and financing of Dick Armey, who  -  like Newt  -  is another of the living-dead who have come back to bedevil Rove. Another part of the Republican Party -  its more moderate voters  -  are wondering who these crazies are that claim to represent them. And the Latino voters that Rove courted so assiduously  -  with George W doing likewise as his puppet  -  is now saying to the GOP, "Are you KIDDING?"

So all the enfeebled Rove can do now, as the GOP is splintering around him, is beg the Republican Party to forbid the GOP contenders from participating in Donald Trump's "debate".  And the response from the Republican National Committee to his plea. Zip. Zero. There ain't nobody home. There's a youngish guy in a suit, holding the title of chairman and the debt owed by the party. That's it, baby.

Being a Democrat, I recognize things could go very wrong for us next year but, like the old song says:  "In the meantime, in-between times, ain't we got fun!"

Oh, yeah!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Pinata Obama": So the Liberals Are Waking Up..... Finally!

The tide may have turned for Obama. Though the top good news recently is the drop in the unemployment rate to 8.6%, such figures can reverse, as happened last spring. Of course the other significant news is that the Republican would-be candidates continue to be a joke. These are delightful developments, but there's even more going on.

The really big news may be that two leading lights among liberals have finally seen the real light. Each of them is a glamourous hero to the liberal intellectual community, and each commands enormous respect in the mainstream media. Where they go, others will likely follow. And it looks like they are finally falling in behind Obama.

And it's about time!

First is Nicholas Kristof, twice a Pulitzer Prize winner, once for his relentless effort to bring world attention to the horrors of Darfur. He's a columnist for the NY Times and a true working reporter, with a heart for the underdog and the victims of the world. To great extent he's the social conscience of the liberal Democrats, though one wishes the rest of the political spectrum would also heed his reporting and stop being so heartless.

The second is Thomas Friedman, also a NY Times columnist as well as a frequent talking head on TV.  He's more of a "seer" than Kristof the reporter. A three-time Pulitzer winner, he gives out the "big" picture, and the liberals all nod in agreement. He's possibly best known for two recent books: "The World Is Flat", about global interconnectedness, and "Hot, Flat, and Crowded", which is about the need for green.

For the first time in three years, this heavyweight pair have taken up the cudgels on behalf of Obama. Kristof says that it's time the liberals and intellectuals stop treating Obama "like a pinata" and get real about what the alternative to him would be if he loses in 2012. He also urges them to realize that "Obama has done far better than many critics on the left and on the right have given him credit for."

Well, that's for sure!

He goes on to remind people of how bad the crisis was in 2008, quoting the post-election Onion headline: "Black Man Gets Worse Job in America."

Friedman is more specific in his comments, lauding Obama to the skies for having achieved a tremendous reduction in the greenhouse gases emitted by cars and trucks. Citing a deal that Obama supposedly struck with the vehicle industry "last month" to lower emissions by 50% by 2025, Friedman is practically ecstatic. And well he should be. This is truly a major accomplishment by the President and puts the lie to all the whiners who have been accusing him of abandoning environmentalism, ranting at his not getting laws enacted to slow global warming. Like there wasn't a Congress? And it hasn't stood rigidly against such laws? Obama's use of executive authority in this environmental achievement was masterful!

But wait a minute! This isn't news, Mr. Friedman! This just didn't happen last month. I remember reading about this and discussing it with my daughter months ago. In addition,  Obama got another important deal back in 2009, requiring the auto industry to produce far higher miles per gallon. So why your delay in recognizing these big achievements for environmental betterment?

And why the delay by Kristof in recognizing that we have a damn good president? He mentions about five of Obama's achievements out of the thirty or so that one could easily list. It's not like it's been hard to find things to commend in this presidency. Go on! See if you can list the thirty!

Obviously, the White House did a poor job of tooting its horn these past three years. But aren't news reporters and analysts supposed to "have a nose for news"? Aren't they supposed to REPORT what's going on?

Or was it just more fun and ego-gratifying to take swings at the "pinata", the skinny guy from Chicago who "didn't have much experience" and would probably "flounder"? Did they enjoy generating a drama about Obama as a failure, believing readers want to get bad news and not good news?

I'd like to suggest that Obama is smarter than Kristof and Friedman put together. And smarter than virtually any of his liberal intellectual critics. At some level they probably realize this and resent it. They each like being the smartest guy in the room. After all, don't they know what we should do about everything?

Obama actually knows what we need to do, and he also knows HOW to get it done. This is in spite of a GOP determined not to let anything get done. Obama finds a way to make things happen.

And that, my friends, makes all the difference.

The liberal intellectuals can tell us all how things SHOULD be. But they don't acknowledge the tough realities Obama faces in a GOP controlled Congress. Instead of going after the GOP for its high crimes and misdemeanors of putting party before country, the liberal thinkies have ceaselessly expressed "disappointment" in Obama, thus further weakening his efforts to do the good things they want. That is not very smart, is it?

But maybe the liberal intellectuals are waking up and smelling the bacon. Unless they do, their own bacon will get really fried if the GOP wins in 2012. Worse, the middle class and the poor will be toast.

Burnt bacon and toast. Not very appetizing. That's not a "morning in America" I'd like to wake up to.

P.S. Welcome to the new reader from the Czech  Republic. I'll try to get an email address set up soon for this blog so you folks don't have to struggle with the oddly difficult steps of trying to leave comments through this blog service. Then you can tell me how things are where you are: in the Czech Republic, Russia, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Brazil, Spain, Ukraine, New Guinea, Ireland, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, or wherever else you are reading this blog. Including the USA. It is so cheering to me to think about you and wonder about you in all these different places. In fact, it amazes me that people so far away want to read about American politics. Keep a good heart, and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Letters to Santa from the Democratic Party and the GOP

Today being St. Nicholas Day, it is altogether fitting and proper that we get a look at the letters the Democrat Party and GOP are sending to Santa Claus this year.

St. Nicholas is, of course, the original of Santa Claus. When my children were young, the good bishop came in the wee hours of December 6 to pick up the letters to his subsequent Santa-self that they had left in their shoes along with some grass for St. Nicholas' horse. The rule was that if you didn't put your request on your St. Nicholas list, you couldn't expect Santa to bring the thing.

Similarly, there are some rules regarding the Christmas wishes of the Democrats and the GOP.  Mainly that none of them can involve physical violence against the other or stuffing ballot boxes.

                                                    THE GOP SANTA LETTER:
Attn: the so-called "Santa"
CEO of Christmas, Inc. Int'l:

If you want access this coming year to chairmen of any House committees or any legislative amendments  favorable to your organization, you'd better hand over the following items which are listed in order of priority:

1. A credible GOP candidate for the presidency. (We don't have one.)

2. A well-filled Christmas stocking to stuff in Newt Gingrich's mouth. Size large.

3. A severe downturn in the American economy. (Things are looking rather good at the moment, which could help Obama.)

4. A war with Iran. (Obama is shutting down George W's wars.)

5. Success in our efforts to deprive about 5 million voters of their right to vote in 2012. (They would likely vote Democratic.)

6. The removal of the idiot candidates from the GOP presidential primary. ( Since this is all of them, PLEASE bring us Item 1 above!)

7. The end of Social Security and Medicare by the popular acclaim of a suddenly demented citizenry.

8. The return of Ronald Reagan, but not as he really was but as we SAY he was. (Also, we want him alive & only in the early stages of dementia, just as he was in his second term. No corpses, please.)

9. Ralph Nader to run against Obama as a third party candidate in 2012 so we can snipe off 90,000 votes  again like we did in Florida in 2000. (You did a great job that year, Santa, and that 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court was the best stocking stuffer ever!)

10. Speaking of stockings, did we mention a big one to stuff in Newt Gingrich's mouth?

We have not been good boys and girls this year. We have been faithful to the GOP standards of screw everybody in sight so as to get money, stamp on the poor and middle-class, foment racism, tell outrageous lies with a straight face, try to destroy the government, throw people out of work with budget cuts, and be ugly to look at. Confident you will reward our consistency, we remain your respectful masters,
The Republican Party
                                 THE DEMOCRATS'  LETTER:

Hey, Santa, wha's happenin, dude? Did you catch Jon Stewart last night? And thanks for the gift of a sense of humor, which the GOP don't got!

Thanks for all the cool stuff we got this last year, especially the GOP contenders for the presidential nomination. Only one complaint:  Santa, the November 2010 election was a bummer! Can you take it back as a defective product?

Well, here's the list. We apologize for troubling you, especially at your age, but if we don't get your help, think what will happen to your Social Security and your Medicare. And remember, Santa, it was the Democrats who passed the safety law requiring all airborne sleighs to have a red light on the lead reindeer. If the GOP get control of the government,  Rudolph will be toast and you will be at risk for a midair collision because, even now,  the GOP is blocking a provision to extend the law to Wicked Witches on flying broomsticks.

1. Please make the Republicans stop saying "Democrat" when it should be "Democratic",  like in the phrase "Democrat program to rob the rich".  That ungrammatical "Democrat" rasps like fingernails on a blackboard. And they started doing it about 20 years ago just to annoy us. Santa, they are SO mean!

2. Stop them telling lies about us, please. We know you said we should stand up for ourselves, but they are such bullies and travel in a pack and yell the lies in a chorus over and over. And now Barney Frank is retiring, so we have nobody to answer them back and nobody could understand what Barney was saying anyway.

3. Peace on earth.

4. Enough food and shelter and clean water for everybody everywhere.

5. And for everybody everywhere, medical care and education and the right to vote. And help for Syria and the Arab Spring folks, please.

6. Help for our little brother Greece who is this year's Tiny Tim and threatens to pull down the whole world by stumbling on his crutches.

7. Save the planet, please. Humankind has made a mess and doesn't seem to have the will to fix it. Can you have a word with Mother Nature?

8. Some intelligence, please, for the Tea Party supporters and less mendacity among those in the GOP who KNOW about global warming and the bad effects of budget cutting in a recession but pretend that they DON'T know.

9. A kick in the butt to the Independents who use that label to disguise their laziness in not figuring out the issues and choosing sides. (Our side, obviously.)

10. No more shootings of our leaders. We've lost so many. Please spare President Obama and the others, and help that nice little Congresswoman in Arizona to fully recover. And no more shooting of nine-year-old little girls. Please.

11. Could you boost the American economy some more? Unemployment is dropping a bit, and that's good for our side, but there's still lots of folks who are unemployed, lots of folks still losing their homes, and lots of kids going hungry. This should be number one on our list, but we know it's already number one on your list. Oh, okay, put it at number one on our list, and we'll continue to suffer "Democrat Party" when it should be "Democratic Party".  (Argh!)

12. Do you think you can do something about Nancy Pelosi's facelift? It's getting scary to look at her. And thanks SO much for mostly keeping her off TV this past year. Could you do the same with Harry Reid?

You're a good egg, Santa, and we promise you we'll keep trying to help you out with your end of things, such as trying to do some good in the world. Don't worry about the other stuff we could have asked for but didn't. Like winning the presidency in 2012 and taking back the House. Even winning a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate! Wow, wouldn't that be cool! We'll take care of this stuff ourselves, Santa, as best we can. You showed us back in 2008 that, if we pull together and each do our part, we can pull off a miracle. That's how we got Obama. Or were you helping us back then too, you sneaky devil?

For everything, Santa, through all the years, we thank you. Most of all we thank you for each other and the vision that binds us together as people who aren't devoted to money but to all the brothers and sisters.
Especially to all the Tiny Tims among us who are real children and need help.

One more thing. Are chocolate chip cookies still your favorite? Michelle Obama is worried about your weight, Maybe carrot sticks instead of cookies?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

If the Republicans Weren't So Funny....

Donald Trump as the moderator of a GOP presidential debate?

Herman Cain scheduling the opening of a new campaign office for the same day he quits the race?

Newt Gingrich urging that nine-year-olds become school janitors?

Mitt Romney huffily scolding a Fox News interviewer for "not knowing the facts about my record"?

Michele Bachman saying she'd consider choosing Donald Trump as her vice-president if she's nominated?

Rick Perry thinking you have to be twenty-one to vote on "November 12"?

Jon Huntsman still persisting as the straight man candidate in a race that obviously has no room for the non-insane?

It's a lot of laughs! But leave it to Ron Paul to trumpet the real zinger. According to his spokesman, Ron Paul won't be at the Donald Trump debate because the notion of a reality show host as a moderator "flies in the face" of the dignity of the presidency. This is from a man who has made a career of sneering at government as an unnecessary evil! One has always concluded that Ron Paul, should he win the presidency, would immediately abolish the office along with the rest of the government, anarchist that he is.

But Paul is on to something. Something is indeed flying in the face of the dignity of the American presidency. That something is the collection of wannabes contesting the GOP nomination. There has never been such a collection of comics since the movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"! You'd think they were auditioning for roles in a remake of the madcap film, rather than running for the presidency.

But, in a way, it's not funny. It's sad. If about one-third of the electorate is Republican and this is the best they can produce as potential presidential nominees, we are all in a lot of trouble. What does this collection of zanies and egregious flip-floppers say about our citizenry? Or at least about a big chunk of it? Nothing very good.

We can, however, take some consolation from the fact that the GOP voters aren't all as daft as their would-be leaders. One by one, the aspirants have been elevated in the polls by the GOP voters, examined, and then dumped. You can't fool even a third of the people all of the time, it appears. The same sort of thing is going on in the wake of the 2010 election. As I noted in my last blog, Republicans who elected Tea Party candidates in 60 House races in 2010 are now having buyers' remorse. Big time. So big, in fact, that 48% of these voters now DISAPPROVE of the ENTIRE Republican Party. That's 48% disapproving of their own party!

There hasn't been this kind of disaffection in party loyalty since the Democratic white working class voters turned away from the George McGovern Democratic Party and ran to the arms of Nixon and Ronald Reagan several decades ago. And we all know how that story turned out.

Now poor ol' Ronnie and Richard must be turning in their graves because it seems that the nuttiest of the GOP are driving out the more moderate in their party, reversing the gains that R & R made those decades ago.

Meantime, we've had a lot of laughs with Herman Cain, and he presumably sold a lot of books. It was fun watching him fumbling for Libya and nine-ing around. But, let's face it folks, he was running thin on material, and the chickens that were coming home to roost were actually real women whom he had wounded. Including his wife. Thank you, Gloria, for not extending the charade of a campaign by standing by your man in front of TV cameras while he confessed and was contrite and kept running. Thank you, Herman, for sparing us another one of those "redemption" scenes a la Newt or John Edwards.

Nothing becomes you so much in your brief moment on the stage, Herman, as your leaving it. In leaving the race, tis a far, far better thing you do than you have ever done. Other than make pizza.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Great Good News for Democrats in 2012!

Two walloping big chunks of good news for Democrats! Christmas came early in North Carolina's recent local and state elections, and the Tea Party is sinking the Republican Party in REPUBLICAN House districts nationwide. Okay, make it three pieces of good news: the GOP is still stuck with the wildly weird collection of wannabe candidates for the GOP nomination.

First, let's look at how the Democrats just did a great job in North Carolina. For all the talk about purple North Carolina drifting back to being a red state, the Democrats swept lots of Republicans out of office in races from school boards on up. These were seats that had been held by the Republicans FOREVER!

The best news about this triumph is that it was actually executed by the Obama folks in an on-the-ground dry run for 2012. They are putting together similar ground organizations in every state and already have 35,000 volunteers nationwide who have signed "I'm In" cards. Are you one of them yet? If not, why not? We can do what was done in North Carolina in lots of other states in 2012 if you sign up. Yes, we surely can!

And it won't be just for school boards. It will be the presidency, taking back the House, and even  -  oh so hopefully  -  doing the near impossible and getting a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Why not dream big? After all, this isn't a dream. It's a necessity! And with winning the presidency and the Senate, we can in due course also have a solid majority of our folks on the Supreme Court.

Now for the hot news about the Tea Party damaging the GOP. The Tea Party crazies who got elected in 60 House districts in 2010 are so disgusting that the voters in those Republican districts are turning away from the entire Republican party. I don't make this stuff up. I don't have that wild an imagination.

Instead, these are the findings of Pew Research, the most reliable and thorough of all polling operations. This is the polling outfit that you see on PBS News Hour. The results startled even the usually unflappable head man, Andy Kohut.  Speaking of these 60 districts where approval of the Tea Ps and the GOP are both dropping, Kohut says, "You think of these as bedrock Republican districts. These are the Republican base!" Yet, as he points out, the Tea P House incumbents in these districts have sunk even more in voter approval than the Tea Party has nationally, and they are certainly taking the GOP down with them. Astonishingly, in these TP districts, 48% of voters now have a negative view of the GOP -  their OWN party!  -  compared to only a 41% favorable rate.

This is a drop of 14% since last March, chiefly tied to voters' perception of the GOP in the debt ceiling crisis. Like Lincoln said, "You can fool some of the people some of the time ......" Looks like that time has run out for the GOP-Tea Party.

And they are the same. The Tea Party IS the Republican party. My daughter keeps saying that, and she's right. The co-opting of the GOP elephant is complete. It was swallowed by the snake. And the voters know it. They aren't blaming a mere contingent of the GOP. They don't see the TP as a right-wing element of the GOP. They see the situation for what it is:  the whole GOP is a right-wing party. And they don't like it.

If the Democrats don't screw it up, things are looking good for 2012. By the way, who are these "Democrats" who might screw it up? The National Committee? The House Campaign Committee? No, sweetheart, these Democrats are YOU and me!

There's a crop out there in the fields ripening in the sun, an election ready to be won. All we need is each other. All we need is YOU! Get involved. Get ready. Get set to bring those favorable voters to the polls. YOU are still the people we have been waiting for.

Now more than ever.

As for the third piece of good news, the GOP presidential wannabes still being jerks? When we have already got two pieces of solidly happy news, who needs to focus on clowns for a laugh?

So get on-line and sign up as "I'm In" at Obama's site. And get your family and friends and everybody to do likewise. Let's all do as our counterparts did in North Carolina! Let's get organized!  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks to You: A Personal Note & "Dorogoi Dinnoyu"

I'm alone on this Thanksgiving Day but not lonely. And that's all thanks to you, the approximately 3000 readers of this blog. Knowing you folks are out there makes this a day for me to be thankful in a way that transcends turkey and conviviality.

Because you give me something to wonder about.

 Who are you?

Especially you, that lone reader in Ukraine? And you in Malaysia? And the one in Latvia? The one in Brazil? And why are there 21 of you readers in Russia and 16 in Ireland?

What is it about American politics that drew you  -  even if only once  -  to my blog? Will you be back? More important to me, what is your life like? How are things going there?

And how are you doing, my American friends? What do you think of all that's going on?

It's so great to have people out there to talk politics with. Or  -  more accurately in my case  -  to talk politics AT. You're so shy about pitching in with comments! But that's okay. I know you're busy. (And see the P.S. below.)  When one lives alone like I do, a one-way conversation is just fine. It's the norm!

At age 76, I've outlived most of my political friends and comrades. It's a bit sad when there is no one left who remembers or shares the passion of those struggles. Do you know the song: "Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end". These are the lyrics in English for the Russian song "Dorogoi dinnoyu." I think often of the lines in English: "We'd have the life we choose. We'd fight and never lose."

And we did. We lived, we fought the good fight, and in the end we did not lose. Well, maybe a skirmish here and there. But in the end, we won. All the hard work, sometimes scariness, and the sacrifice were worth it. We won because now you are there. You care about our world. You'll carry the good fight forward.

"The torch has passed to a new generation." Oh, yes!

I wish my political friends could have lived to know you. They had such faith that you were coming. In fact, all that we did, we did for you. "We must make it a better world for those who are coming." We actually said that.

Maybe it doesn't look like such a great world that we gave you, but it is a lot better then the one we got. There is very little war throughout the world compared to "the good old days" when millions were being killed. Nations of the world help when famine or disaster strikes a country. There are no lynchings any more in America. No longer are colleges closed to all but the sons of rich men. Women are equal beings before the law. Segregation is forbidden. The American middle class, though hard-pressed in these times, still lives far better than the middle class of my young years. And there are programs for the poor and elderly that didn't exist back then: food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, rent supplements, school lunch programs. The elderly and the disabled used to die by the thousands in America because they could not buy both food and medical care. The elders would freeze to death in their homes.

And people all over the world are ousting dictators.

It's better now. My friends rest in peace, knowing they did well. They rest in peace too because they know you will make things even better.

Live the life you choose. Fight and never lose. Then you too will never be sad when you are old and alone. And you too will, some distant day, rest in peace.  And, most of all, don't forget this line from the song: "We'd sing and dance forever and a day." We did that too. You do likewise. Be happy. Good fighters have to have merry hearts like we did.

And now my heart is merry when I think of all of you, wherever you are. Thank you for being there. On this Thanksgiving Day you have made one old lady very happy indeed. You be happy too. And fight on!

P.S. A reader has informed me that this blog service makes it VERY difficult for people to leave comments. Therefore, I'll set up an e-mail address for your comments and post the address here soon. I apologize to anyone who has had difficulty trying to comment. Ah, the wonders of technology! But it beats smoke signals, right?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Democrats Are Thankful

T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G!  Let's spell out why we Democrats have so much to be thankful for.  Let's count the blessings!

T -- THE TAX ISSUE.   Obama has maneuvered the GOP into defending lower taxes for the extremely wealthy, who already pay obscenely low amounts, while the GOP candidates propose higher taxes for the middle and lower income folks. Another word for the letter "T" is "TRAP". Obama has indeed set a trap, and the GOP has walked into it!

H -- HERMAN.   Cain has done his share  -  and it's been a big one  -  to make the whole Republican party look even more ridiculous than Rick "the Rock" Perry and Michele B did, put together. And that's saying a lot.

A -- AMERICA.   For all its problems, what other country would you call yours? What other country tries so hard to live up to dreams, to reach beyond the bruising realities of a disparate people ever struggling to be one, with liberty and justice for all? It's easy for small countries of one ethnicity and one common culture to agree sensibly. America is a continent, and its people are from everywhere. But somehow this crazy quilt works most of the time and keeps pursuing the dream.

N -- NEWT.    He reminds the voting public of the most corrupt political practices of the GOP, especially that of selling out the public for lobbying dollars from big corporations while spending a million dollars at Tiffany's.  And he looks old, doughy fat, smug and unhealthy, just like the Republican party. Newt, the poster boy!

K -- K STREET.    Just the term, that is. This street of D.C. lobbyists is such a handy gizmo for writers and readers. Use the term "K Street" and everybody knows what you're talking about. Saves a lot of words like "undue influence", "corporate takeover of American politics", etc. Just say "K"!

S -- The SENATE.   True, it ain't much. (Remember the wretched carryings on of Max Baucus and others during the enactment of the health insurance reform bill?) But the Democratic Senate has at least served the function of blocking the horrible bills that have passed the Tea Peeing House since the trolls took it over in 2010. God bless the founding fathers who gave us the Senate. They called it "the saucer to cool the tea." Wow! They could see into the future! Even foresee the "Tea" Party! Thanks, Dads!

G --  GINGRICH.  Yeah, he's already on the list, but can you really have too much of a bad thing?

I -- IOWA.    Against all predictions and contra to the historical bigotry of the white-dominated Midwest, Iowa went for Obama in its 2008 primary. It was a moment in American history almost as glorious -  and more meaningful  -  as Grant Park on the night he won the presidency. And it was in Iowa that Obama gave the speech that lit hope within Americans who yet mourned the great figures of JFK, Martin, Bobby, and Cesar Chavez, the leaders who had once spoken to the best in us. We had waited so long for a voice like theirs.

V -- VICTORY or VICISSITUDES?    Tough choice here. Victories like 2008 and smushing Bin Laden are treasures, for sure. But the vicissitudes now and until November  2012 are what will test us in our resolve to save this country from the greedy and the crazy. The tougher the battle, the greater the victory to come. And the more deserving we Battlers for Obama will be. So get ready for the job ahead!

I --  IOWA.    Well, if Newt gets two spots on our "thankful" list, why not Iowa? Long after Newt and his current wife's blonde wig helmet have gone to dust, the 2008 Iowa primary and Obama's speech  will shine with a brilliance all of Tiffany diamonds can't match. Thank you, you Iowans!

N --  NEW MEXICO.     Let's put politics aside for a moment and just rejoice. The pueblos and their art and dancing and rituals. The Latino culture.  Chaco Canyon. The biggest, most wondrous sky in the world. The colors of the mesas and cliffs, colors without names. The shrubs at the foot of such cliffs, replicating in November the lavenders, rose and golds layered above them in stone. Homemade flour tortillas, still warm. The Native Americans who sit on the platform at the Albuquerque railroad station with their little clay figures and weaving spread around them for sale to the passengers, just as their ancestors have done since the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad first came through over a century ago.

Okay, enough of that sweet stuff! Before we go on to the last G in Thanksgiving,  let's get back to politics.

Politically, New Mexico represents the future of the Democratic party as it squeezes the GOP relentlessly into being solely a party of the white South. The Latinos of New Mexico are part of the fastest growing ethnic group in America, and the GOP are stupidly alienating this wonderful segment of our society by using the "immigration" issue as thinly-disguised racism.

Hey, GOP!  Latinos aren't just a big part of our future; they are as deeply rooted in the USA as the PilGRIMs who put GRIM in your white racist roots. In fact, Latinos have been calling New Mexico  "home" since the 1500s. And the Native Americans have been here for perhaps 30,000 years.  So maybe the real "illegal aliens" are you white racist gringos who murdered your way across a continent and then took New Mexico and much of the Far West in a war so blatantly unjust that even the guys fighting it, like the young Ulysses S. Grant, questioned its morality.

G -- GOODNESS.    It is still everywhere. In people everywhere. In the beauty of the world everywhere. In spite of the ugliness humankind experiences or creates, as alluded to in the above paragraph, it is still in this young nation. Even in Washington D.C., there is goodness. The quiet, hard-working members of Congress you never hear about. The graying young president in the White House. The people who run Social Security efficiently. The "bureaucrats" at EPA who care desperately about the environment. In the Occupiers everywhere and the eleven UC Davis students who heroically held on to each others' arms while being drenched in pepper stray.

Goodness will not be denied. On November 19, 1863, in his Gettysburg address, Abraham Lincoln firmly recognized its power to persist even as the country was torn asunder and 600,000 Americans were killing each other. "Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

We couldn't destroy ourselves then, and we couldn't destroy America. We tried so hard to do it in the Civil War that the scars are yet with us. But as Teddy Kennedy said, "The dream shall never die." Goodness will prevail. Goodness will overcome.

In the same year as Gettsyburg, in the nation's darkest hour, Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day. He knew what we must know now. That we must be thankful for all that is yet good, in the sure and certain hope that we can make things better. Yes  -  most thankfully  -  we can!

Now, let's eat!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanks to Newt the Stupid!

Newt Gingrich is one stupid guy. He has conned himself and some segment of the media into thinking he's bright. He blathers on and on, but he actually doesn't know what he's talking about 90% of the time. He's a pseudo-intellectual blowhard. And he's dumb as a post politically. Slick and clever sometimes but actually stupid.

The clearest evidence of his colossal stupidity is the fact he's running at all for the GOP nomination. Did Obama bribe him to get into the race? Newt's so-called candidacy is doing the Democrats a world of good.

Why? How?

Because Newt has the biggest set of baggage in politics, and each piece of that baggage is full of dirty linen. Some of it's personal, but a lot of it is Republican.

Let's set aside the three wives for the moment. (Newt too sets aside wives.) Let's look at what a great walk Newt is providing politically down memory lane. Let's rejoice in how his now-spotlighted candidacy is reminding everyone of how really disgusting the GOP has been all along. And how the GOP is most emphatically responsible for the current economic and financial plight of this country.

Example:  One of Newt's "groups" got $37 million from the health care industry for "access to Newt". The out-of-office Speaker still had clout in D.C. at the time the Medicare prescription drug coverage was being enacted. The name of the game for PHARMA was to ensure that Medicare drugs  would cost the program full freight. Other federal programs, like the VA, bargain for drug prices and thus save billions of fed dollars. And Medicare bargains down prices for medical services. But, as the ex-Speaker of the House helpfully plowed the field for PHARMA, Medicare was prohibited from bargaining for drug prices.

The result? Medicare has to pay prices like the $850 a drug company charged Medicare monthly for each little bottle of just one medicine my late husband HAD to take or die. The pills probably cost a dime to make, and the bottle probably cost a nickel.

The bigger result? The conservative Club for Growth estimates this one bit of plowing by Newt costs the feds $60 billion a year. "Costing the feds" actually means costing you and me and the rest of us struggling taxpayers.

There's more about Newt and the money he got for the special treatment he finagled for the most rapacious elements in society. Lots more. These items will be bouncing around the media while Gingrich has his moment up in the GOP polls. Take note of them and hope that others do too. These are not Newt's moments alone. They are the standard M.O. of the GOP, so colossal in scale that it dwarfs the Democrats who try the same influence-peddling.

So thanks to you, Newt, all the shabby and dirty linen is on display.

But before we leave you, Newt, here's a special thanks for one of the best laughs ever in the pre-Daily Show era. It was back when Newt got booted out of the Speakership of the House for messing around with a staff woman. His replacement as Speaker served for a few weeks and then had to resign when it emerged he too was messing around on his wife. Mark Russell, then a piano-playing political comedian on PBS, did a delightful bit, solemnly entoning a "provision of the Constitution" that reputedly said, "In the event that the President of the United States shall be impeached for having sexual relations with an intern in the Oval Office, two successive Speakers of the House of Representatives shall immediately   resign."

Happy Thanksgiving, Newtie ol' boy! You have given us Democrats a lot to be thankful for in this campaign. And now everybody knows how you can afford to drop a million bucks at Tiffany's.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time Out for Action

Actions supposedly speak louder than words. They certainly take more time! Right now I'm caught up in a fight to save our little rural post office from being closed, so all my time is going to action. But the fight is reaching its peak, and I'll be back on the word-job very soon with new postings. Including a secret story about the original "dirty tricks" of Tricky Dick Nixon, who taught the GOP the evil tactics that now permeate their party.

As for now and the fight for the tiny post office, the heart of our community, there's no use in urging political action, as I've been doing in this blog, unless one gets into it one's self when the need is clear. At age 75 I should be "retired" from all this, one might say. In fact, I came here years ago to "retire"from a lifetime of politics and community action.

But one cannot retire from life. And politics is life. It touches everything in our lives  -  from the safety of the food we put in our mouths to the hazard of nuclear holocaust.  And it shapes the future of our children and grandchildren.

Politics is too precious and important to be left to politicians and the talking heads. Politics is ours.

So wish us luck in saving the heart of this mountain community, the little post office nestled between the spired churches, where two rivers meet and people care very much about each other. It's a bit of America worth saving.

And please check back for new postings, probably in a few days. You have been most encouraging as readers, both in your numbers and your far-flung geography. So, hi there! In Norway, New Zealand, Latvia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Russia, Israel, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia and all across America! Wherever we are  -  Yes, we can! Yes, we shall overcome!

After 75 years, I can tell you that good always wins in the long run and no good efforts are ever wasted.

So, for now, it's once more into the breach, dear friends......

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Loudoun County: Dallas 1963 Can Happen Again

November, 2011.

We wake up to a news story about a GOP group in Virginia posting a picture on-line of President Obama with a bullet hole in his forehead. And we remember another November.

"We will bear the grief of his death until the day of our own."

Adlai Stevenson said this after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And he was right. The grief has never gone away among those of us who loved our President Kennedy and still remember that sparkling, courageous, intelligent young man.

Time is supposed to heal all wounds. It doesn't.

Instead, the passage of almost 50 years seems to have brought us back to where we were in 1963 just before the assassination in Dallas. Now, added to our old grief, is the new fear that  -  yes  -  it could happen all over again.

We are afraid even to say so out loud. Perhaps our fear is that, by just speaking of the possibility, we who worry may bring the dread reality upon us.

We blamed ourselves back then when it happened in 1963. Somehow we had failed John Kennedy. We should have warned him. We should have seen it coming. We should have been there for him.

Ambassador Adlai Stevenson did try to warn him after being attacked by a mob in Dallas just a couple of weeks before our president was killed there. I still remember the pictures on TV and in the newspapers of the angry right-wingers spitting at Ambassador Stevenson and hitting him with a placard. It was so startling and extraordinary that it couldn't be meaningful. It must be just an aberration of some sort. It wasn't the way Americans express their politics.

How could we think that? How could we not see?

Almost from the very moment that the Supreme Court handed down Brown v. The Board of Education in 1954, white Southerners had been viciously attacking every "damn nigger" who tried to break the barrier  of "whites only." There had been shooting deaths, heads cracked open, attack dogs, fire hoses, bombings, punching and kicking and spitting and epithets. Some white supporters of civil rights and some newsmen died as well. And it was all fed by Southern governors, racist Senators and grim-visaged white "pastors"of the South. "Respectable" people. Just like now. Major political "leaders."

We mourned the victims and yearned for racial justice. I even tried to help in the Civil Rights movement.

But we didn't make the connection. We could not imagine that violence, seemingly engendered by a specific, sectional, historical issue, could become a mode of expression in other areas of politics.  Naive as we were, we didn't know that the slavering and snarling hounds of violence, like the dogs of war, cannot be controlled once they are unleashed. They go where they will and chose their victims. One day it's four little girls killed in the bombing of a church. Another day it's the President of the United States.

E Pluribus Unum. In the saddest ways we are indeed one nation. We who remember still grieve those little girls and our beloved President. And all the others. Our history is unified over time not just by grief but by hatred as well. The mobs who today attack members of Congress on the steps of the Capitol and the TeaPartyGOP with their vicious signs are the same people who attacked the children trying to integrate Southern schools. I remember their faces. White, snarling, ugly and very well-fed.

President Kennedy and his brother Robert, as Attorney General, were trying to enforce the new anti-segregation rules. Kennedy and Ambassador Adlai Stevenson were trying to avoid nuclear war with Russia, yet contain Cuba's belligerence. These three goals made them enemies on every side. For the liberals, the Kennedys weren't doing enough; for the right, Kennedy and Stevenson were doing too much. To the anti-Castro element, President Kennedy was a traitor. To the pro-Castro element, such as it was, he was a mortal enemy. To the white racists, he and Bobby were Grant and Sherman.

Does this sound eerily familiar? The man in the middle, standing on the ground of sanity in a sea of bitter, ignorant hatreds.

Now compare today's rabid anti-Muslim hatred with the frothing of the far-right back then against the "pinko" Communists they saw under every bed. The far-right then believed Kennedy was secretly betraying America to the Russians. They BELIEVED that. And today they believe Obama is selling us out to the "Muslims". They genuinely believe he is a traitor. Newt Gingrich, among others, has told them so.

And racism? The Civil Rights laws we achieved brought some justice but did not end hatred toward "people of color". We certainly hoped they would, but they didn't. The racists just got more slick and now run their hate campaign under the cover of sellouts Herman Caen and Senator Rubio.

White racism dies hard. It yet sucks its nourishment from the blood of the "Lost Cause" of the South in the Civil War. It thrives among the losers today who NEED someone to put down. It is explosive in those who see an America coming that is no longer "white". It fires the anti-immigrant ferocity the GOP presidential contenders now pander to. And it's so lucrative and empowering to the cynical GOP who exploit it.

And the racist whites can't stand that Obama is the President of the United States. They can't stand that there is a man in the White House who has darkish skin. THEY CAN'T STAND IT!

Driven by the violent language and imagery used by the GOP, one of these racists or anti-Muslim fanatics will pick up a gun and get up on a high building. At least one man brought a gun to an Obama event already. No arrest, as I recall. Instead it was left to Chris Matthews on "Hardball" to chew him out.

Another fanatic has screamed at Obama that he is "the anti-Christ." A Congressman has shouted at him that he is a "liar." Now a GOP group in Virginia depicts him with a bullet hole in his head.

The Secret Service gets more threats and warnings regarding the President's safety than they ever have received regarding any other president. Maybe they can keep stopping the maniacs. Maybe this time we'll get lucky.

But who will stop the GOP inciters who legitimize and stoke the worst impulses of the fanatics? If the trigger men can't get to the President, will they shoot another Congresswoman? Another nine-year-old girl?

Never a November comes but we who remember are back in Dealey Plaza. And our beloved President is dead. We failed him whom we loved. We didn't warn him. We didn't make the connections and foresee. We weren't there for him.

And does this pathetic, hopeless plea make amends now?  Or do any good?   -  "Don't ever go to Dallas, please, President Obama. Or Loudoun County, Virginia."

Please, don't go.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

GOP Treats for Halloween!

It looked for a while like this would be a disappointing Halloween compared to last year. No weird GOP candidate for Senate saying, "I am not a witch."

No New York GOP tough-guy-candidate for Senate offering to beat up a newsman.

No Crazy Lady Nevada GOP Senate candidate just being her crazy self.

I also miss the GOP ad in California with the sheep with glowing red eyes.

But it's going to be okay. Trick or Treat handouts from the GOP are plentiful this season of the silly. And the scary.

Mitt Romney doing so many turn-arounds on the Ohio labor legislation that his legs are wrapped around themselves like an advanced yoga-ist. (He IS an advanced yoga-ist, having turned around and around so many times on abortion, Romneycare, and  -  two days ago  -  climate change. Mitt's the only thing around that's changing faster than the climate!)

Rick Santorum lecturing on why a napkin is not a paper towel.

Herman Caen's main man blowing smoke at the voters in that fabulously funny ad. Got the smoker vote locked up!

Newt waddling in and vainly huffing through a terrific grilling by Bob Schieffer (the last real tv journalist) about how one gets half a million dollars in debt to a jewelry store.

Rick Perry stepping on his own (so-called) tax plan announcement by teaming up with Donald Trump to revive the "birther" thing. (It's not the "birther issue". There's NO issue. It's a thing!) And  -  oh, yes!  - Perry threatening Ben Bernanke with physical harm should he come to Texas. (Yeah, well, Perry ain't never seen Big Bennie's left hook!)

Donald Trump, wearing his hair as a year-round Halloween fright wig. And eating pizza with a fork!

Ron Paul letting people die on gurneys if they are not insured.

Michele Bachman being Michele Bachman.

Sarah Palin haunting the background and riding off at one point "to warn the British". Then handing us the real treat of the season by getting out once and for all from presidential contention.

Jon Huntsman being riotously funny in his daft belief the GOP has room for a candidate who doesn't drool on his tie.

Chris Chrisite reincarnating "Bobby" from "The Sopranos". But not as sweet Bobby but as a bad-ass blustery bully, as big and as belligerent as three NYC cab drivers put together. (My apologies to NYC cabbies. They're really mostly good guys. But this is the GOP season of hyperbole, and who wants to be left out?)

With a cast like this, who needs the usual Halloween tv old-movie menu of Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Vincent Price, Elsa Lanchester? Who even needs a chainsaw for a fright night massacre when the GOP candidates are massacring each other? Just pop the corn and pull up a chair, skip the old horror movies  and watch the GOPs on the news! It's as horror-fun as "Young Frankenstein".

To a Democrat, the GOP horrible hopefuls are especially a treat.

But should one of them get elected? BOOOOOOOO! We should be really scared!

And about that, I ain't kidding!

P.S. In spite of 2011's delicious treats, I kind of miss my old-time favorite:  Cheney shooting an eighty-year-old in the face. Those were the good ol' bad days for sure. You betcha!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chris Matthews, Nazis, and November 22,1963

November 22, 1963, and the assassination of JFK. The 1930s and the rise of the Nazi Party. Where are we headed now?

This week a "birther" from the state of Georgia was convicted in Tennessee. The jerk had wanted to use his Colt 45 and AK47 to "arrest" Tennessee courthouse officials for their failing to oust our "illegal" President Obama. This skinhead is just the latest in a growing line of those acting out the hatred being pushed by the GOP right along with its promotion of violence.

Remember the shooter in Tucson? The spitting and cursing mob surrounding the Democratic members of Congress as they tried to enter the Capitol to vote on health insurance reform? The broken windows at Democratic Congressional field offices? The knot-heads with their guns at campaign events? The guy at a recent Obama event, shouting that Obama is "the Anti-Christ"? There's more examples of nut jobs acting out on GOP political rhetoric, but that's enough.

You say these are just loonies and that America always has loonies. But the GOP is feeding these guys an incendiary and inciting diet of hatred-and-violence-as-politics. And as we know too well, loonies can pull triggers. Or act as "patsies". Someone just has to point them in a certain direction.

Chris Matthews, with whom I do not always agree, is not old enough to remember Nazi Germany and the Nazis' tactics in their rise to power, but he is a well-read man. He has also seen enough of sporadic GOP bully-boy tactics over the last forty-plus years to have caught on to what the GOP has been systematically doing since the rise of Obama in 2008.

And Mr. Matthews has been brave enough to almost make explicit the connection between Nazi Joseph Goebbels' tactical innovations (see footnote) and the GOP current modus operandi.

Almost alone among political commentators, Matthews has refused to take his eye off the Nazi-like tactics the GOP has been employing. He spoke up long and loud about the gunsight symbol Sarah Palin and other Republicans used to "target" Democrats in on-line postings and other publishing. He has deplored the violent language of the GOP, such as Perry threatening Texas might leave the Union. And the cry of the GOP that the right to bear arms is their right to "take back" their America with their weapons.

Incitement to violence was a classic Nazi political party tactic.

Matthews has also persistently pointed out that the "birther" issue is an attempt by the GOP to make Obama into "the other." He rightly connects the birth certificate issue with the GOP labeling Obama as a "Socialist". Most Americans in 2008 had no clue as to what a Socialist is. The term had been missing from the American political vocabulary for over seventy years! So the GOP was free to load it with sinister connotations. A Socialist is "the other." He's anti-American. He's  -  well, he's like a European!

Newt Gingrich, the supposed "intellectual" of the GOP took it even further. Per Newt, Obama is an anti-Western Mau Mau terrorist because his biological father was Kenyan!

Demonizing people as "the other" was the Nazi first step to creating the scapegoat. And you know what happens to scapegoats.

The Nazis had centuries of European anti-semitism to hand them the Jews ready-made as "the other." The GOP has centuries of anti-black hatred in America to hand them "the other." And let's not kid ourselves. The HATRED  -    the seething, near-bloodlust HATRED  -  that the GOP has stoked against Obama is rooted in the fact he is partly of African descent.

Racism is alive in America, though no one seemingly dares say so. It's the devil's fiddle the GOP has been playing since Nixon adopted his "Southern Strategy" in 1968. Now the GOP has a whole orchestra playing the hateful tune.

The veneer among the GOP right-wing bigots is as thin as the coat of whitewash Rick Perry's family painted that rock with at their hunting camp. And the GOP is stoking the racism in a clever way. With  Herman Caen popping up as a convenient Uncle Tom for cover, the GOP can again use the birth certificate issue safely, as they are now doing, to make Obama "the other". (If you don't understand that, maybe politics is not really your bag.)

Thus Rick Perry this week told Parade magazine that, after talking to Donald Trumpeteer, Perry just isn't sure about where Obama was born. He also said that the birther issue was a "good" one to keep going.

When you've got a good lie going and a racist political base, why abandon an effective Nazi tactic just because it fell out of fashion for a few months?

Keep your eye on this stuff, Chris Matthews! Keep pointing out the GOP tactics. Because you're on a national cable network, perhaps you're forbidden to use the accurate adjective "Nazi"when describing these tactics.  But as the guy playing "Hardball", at least you notice when the game turns dirty.

And even if you do not personally remember the Nazis, you do deeply and personally remember Dallas in 1963.

Keep telling it like it is, Mr. Matthews!

You may save someone's life.

Maybe -  God help us all  -  Obama's.
Footnote: A list of the Goebels/Nazi tactics is in my Oct.21 & Oct.22 blog postings, along with current GOP examples. For a decade or two after WWII, high school curricula required units on how to spot propaganda, undemocratic tactics, fallacious reasoning, etc. As WWII has become more remote in time, so have its lessons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy WS, the GOP, and the Stooge With the Smoke-Stained Teeth

Untwist the knickers! The so-called anti-semitic element of Occupy Wall Street apparently consists of no more than the Three Stooges! Count 'em! There's only THREE!

Who are the GOP kidding? The "anti-semitic" demonstrators the GOP  says are part of Occupy Wall Street are not only just three in number but so obviously fake as to make a cat laugh. I doubt they know what OWS stands for! Or GOP?

One of them is shown in a video on a reactionary website, standing on a sidewalk with his offensive sign over his head while a middle-aged guy in a windbreaker yells at him and a cop watches wearily. The sign-holder can be heard saying the same thing over and over: "Freedom of.......... speech."

The dots don't stand for naughty words. They stand for the long pause while the sign-holder obviously tries to remember what comes after "freedom of'". He's apparently been coached but not well.

A second "anti-semite" stooge appears in a still photo on-line on another far-right website. He is wearing a long-sleeved red jersey-sort-of shirt and holding up a sign urging "Google Jews on Wall Street. Google Jewish Billionaires'" etc. Maybe he owns shares of Google?

My favorite is the one I think of as "the Russian". He's on video, talking right into the camera. He's one of those is-he-slovenly-unshaven-or-is-this-his-fashion-statement. Judging by the rest of him, his demeanor, his argument, I vote for simply slovenly.

As for his slovenly rant, it seems as if someone has hastily force-fed him some anti-semitic crap, and he has not digested it well. He is certainly not producing foie gras, that's for sure!

He expresses worry in part about rich Jews taking over, not just the USA, but also Russia. Taking over Russia has not, to my knowledge, been a major issue for the Jews regarding Russia. Mostly the Jews have spent half a century or more trying to get the hell out of Russia!

So this man's concern about what the "bad" Jews will do to Russia indicates that Russia is pretty dear to him and that he likely works it into every conversation. But since someone wants him to go after the Jews, he'll do that too. Provided he can connect it to Russia.

What's really special about him are his teeth. He gets his mouth very close to the camera. You can really see his teeth quite well. A whole lot more than you'd like to. The lower front teeth are disgustingly and darkly stained with tobacco. It is not a pretty sight.

He's actually on the National Republican Congressional Committee website in another clip. He didn't get to talk about Russia on that clip, but you can see his teeth pretty well. If you want to.

"Well, that's all, folks!" -  as Porky Pig used to say. Only Elmer Fudd could imagine this pathetic trio of fake anti-semites have anything to do with Occupy Wall Street.

So who hired these three phony anti-semites?

Based on these Three Stooges, the National Republican Congressional Committee paid someone to do a video ad against Democratic Congressman Steve Israel, charging him with supporting anti-semitism by supporting Occupy Wall Street.  If the GOP spent money using this pathetic trio to attack Steve Israel, no wonder the GOP National Committee is $14 million in debt! Those guys at Republican HQ make Michael Steele look like he was frugal with the campaign money!

One more thing about the "Russian" stooge.

I wonder if Sarah Palin could see him from her front porch?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The GOP Nazi Tool Kit: "If It Walks Like a Goose...."

The Democrats and media are so busy being politically correct  -   heaven bless their misguided good intentions   -   that they refuse to call out the GOP for its use of Nazi political tactics in gaining and using power. This is a bad mistake.

The Nazis tools are effective. They have empowered the GOP to the point where, last summer, it could  push this country to near-economic collapse by engineering the debt ceiling crisis. That's a hell of a lot of power for a minority party! And these same tools could give us a reactionary GOP across-the board win in 2012. I mean the whole thing! The presidency, both houses of Congress and, in due course, five or more solid reactionaries on the Supreme Court.

No, the GOP would not then send us Jews to the gas chambers. At least I sure hope not. But they would hound 12 million undocumented people in this country.

"Vere are your papers?"

Twelve million of our fellow residents would live in fear of "the knock on the door in the middle of the night." Already migrant worker families in Alabama are pulling their kids out of school and hiding or fleeing the state.

Once in control, the GOP would cut taxes even more for the wealthy, unleash massive pollution by ending the EPA in the name of job creation, destroy Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, probably start a war of convenience somewhere, curtail our freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion.

Go on! You finish the nightmare list!  Think deregulation of food and drug safety, water purity, sewage disposal, Wall Street.  And global warming. Mining and timbering in National Parks. Rights of the accused. Due process. Fair elections.  What am I overlooking?

All this can happen if the GOP continues its successful use of Nazi political tactics and sweeps the board in 2012. For God's sake, the nightmare scenario I describe above is their actual campaign platform! Just listen to what they are saying!

Now let's be clear. Using Nazi political tactics to get power does not make someone a "Nazi" in the historical sense of the word. Please distinguish between the use of the word as a noun (historical German Nazis or today's self-identified Nazis) and its use as an adjective to describe today's GOP tactics.

I'm not confusing Dick Armey with ol' Adolph. (Armey doesn't have a mustache.)

But if a GOP political TACTIC goose-steps like a Nazi and ......  Well, you get it.

My last blog identified eight tactics the Nazis used to get power in 1930s Germany and pointed out how the GOP is using these tactics now:   The Big Lie, Intimidation, Incitement to Violence, Disruption of Public Meetings, Scape-goating, Media Control (Think Rupert!), Destroying the Unions, Guilt By Association.

Sound familiar, don't they?

Here's another:   Exploiting an "Incident".

The classic is the Reichstag fire in 1933. Claiming the Communists had started the fire in the German parliament building, the Nazis  -  then a minority in the government  -  forced a "declaration of emergency"  and within only six months had used the declaration to wipe out all other political parties, the labor unions and Germany's vigorous free press. The courts were emasculated and so were all the rights of the citizens.  Totalitarian control was complete.

It took them ONLY SIX MONTHS!

So what is the GOP doing these days that is similar to the Nazi tactic of exploiting an incident?  How about you tell me between now and my next blog? I'm 75 years old and shouldn't have to do all the work around here.

Meantime I have my eye on the stooge "anti-semite" the National Republican Campaign Committee claims is representative of Occupy Wall Street.

So tune in next time for "Occupied Wall Street and The Anti-Semitic Man with the Smoke-Stained Teeth".

And please share with me "incidents" that smell a bit like the smoke from the Reichstag fire. I thank you.

P.S. Someone has suggested I use the term "fascist" instead of "Nazi". That would be historically incorrect. Mussolini and Franco were fascists but didn't create or use the Nazi-developed propaganda and other political techniques. They just killed people. So we have to give credit where credit is due  -  to the Nazis!  

Friday, October 21, 2011

It Takes An Old Jew to Recognize Today's Nazis

I began blogging to encourage hope in our future. But history cannot be denied, nor can we ignore the facts of today.

My father's family died in the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi gas chambers.

Throughout my life I have suffered prejudice from my fellow Americans, the ones who despise Jews or Catholics. Seven decades of scorn.

So don't tell me who are today's bigots and nascent Nazis.  I'll tell you!

It's NOT the Occupy Wall Street people. The GOP are now accusing the Occupy movement of anti-semitism. And what does anti-semitism eternally evoke? The Nazis! But the Occupy group has none of the indicia of the Nazis. Nor are they the "mob" that Eric Cantor has labeled them.

The actual Nazi-like movement in America is the recently-kidnapped GOP itself and its succubus Tea Party and their bigoted backers. It's Gary Bauer and Glen Beck and all that crowd. And even the National Republican Congressional Committee, which refuses to take down its ad accusing Occupy Wall Street of anti-semitism.

From the tenuous safety of America, as a youngster I witnessed World War II and the Nazi machinations. Even now in the occasional nightmare, the Nazis are yet coming after me. So, asleep or awake, I know my enemies when I see them. In dreams I recognize the jackboots and the uniforms, the cruel heartlessness and delight in violence. And the ominous "Vere are your papers?"

And awake I recognize the techniques they used to gain power and keep it. Even without the jackboots and uniforms, I recognize them.

They come spewing lies. They systematically propagandize. "Tell a lie. Tell it often enough and people will believe it. The biggest lies work the best." That's Joseph Goebels, the master and minister of Nazi propaganda. And that's Nazi Rule One.

And doesn't that sound exactly like the well-orchestrated GOP lie machine that has been professionally orchestrated in recent years? Lie after lie after lie. Repeated, repeated, repeated. And now yet another Big Lie comes in the GOP video ad attacking Democratic Congressman Steve Israel, accusing him  -  a Jew -  of backing anti-semitism by supporting the Occupy Wall Street folks.

Nazi Rule Two: Another Goebels' principle: "Guilt by association."  In its drive to stifle all dissent, the Nazis executed dissidents for "being Communist". Now the GOP would kill the Occupy movement by accusing it of being anti-semitic. And take down a Democratic Congressman in the process.

You want more about how to recognize Nazis? You better  -  because they're here.

Nazi Rule Three: Disruption of public meetings:   Remember the clearly orchestrated summer of 2009 when no member of Congress could hold a town meeting without a takeover by a shouting, scuffling mob?

Nazi Rule Four: Instigation of violence:   Remember Sarah Palin and her pals "targeting" Democrats as if through a gun-sight while using the Second Amendment as pretext for urging violence against the government? Remember Arizona and the nine-year-old girl who died because a loony got the message? And how about that howling mob on the day the House voted on health insurance reform?  Forcing our own elected Congressional representatives to run a gauntlet of cursing and spittle, while above the disgusting spectacle, from a balcony of the Capitol itself, the GOP members of Congress cheered the horrifying acts.

Nazi Rule Five: Intimidation:   Remember the GOP guys with guns strapped to their legs at those New England political gatherings? Remember the rash of window-breaking attacks on Democratic Congressional field offices?   Broken glass. Kristallnacht. Sound familiar?

Nazi Rule Six: Scape-goating the "other":    For the Nazis it was the Jews, the gypsies, the homosexuals, and the "mentally-deficient". The Nazis even killed their own little German children who were deemed mentally "sub-normal". Now, among the GOP, "the other" is everybody who is a gay (though risking his or her life in a war zone), a Latino, or the sick and uninsured, or the poor soul who is out of a job. The biggest applause lines at the GOP debates come when the candidates flaunt their heartlessness and their despising of "the other".  And how about the persistent claim that Obama wasn't born in America? And how about labeling undocumented residents as "illegal aliens"? As if they weren't even human beings.

Nazi Rule Seven: Destroy the labor unions:   Always a key step among totalitarians of every stripe. Now think Wisconsin and Ohio.

Nazi Rule Eight: Control the media.  Think Rupert Murdoch.

It can't happen here, you say. That was the belief of the "good Germans" and the deluded Jews who stayed in Germany despite Hitler's growing influence. But it can happen anywhere that there is fear, economic trouble, ignorance, and prejudice. All it takes is a power-hungry and clever group of the ruthless, financed by hidden hands, willing to use the proven tools.

Such ruthless ones are now amongst us. They are well-financed. They have the tools. And, God knows, there's economic trouble, fear, prejudice and ignorance aplenty.

This old Jew worries. If you're not worried, I worry even more.