Filtered News 1/10

"Big day. Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House. Experts say Pelosi is now the most powerful non-Oprah woman." --Conan O'Brien

Starting January 23rd Canadians will need a passport to get into the United States. This is to discern non U.S. citizens from U.S. citizens. Look, all we need to do is look at the people with big bags of cheap prescription drugs to know which ones are Americans. --Jay Leno

"They executed Saddam Hussein. I guess that means that whole Iraqi thing is over. We can all go home now..." --David Letterman

"President Bush is claiming that a new postal law gives him the authority to read anyone's letters without a warrant. If you're upset about the law, you can let Bush know by writing to your sister." --O'Brien

"President Bush is expected to announce that he is now sending more troops to Iraq, despite the fact that his general, his military analysts, members of congress, and most of the American people are against the idea. The reason he's doing it? To give Iraq a government that responds to the will of the people." --Leno

On January 10, 1878, a constitutional amendment was introduced in the Senate that would give women the right to vote. The amendment was so slow to catch on that it wasn't signed into law for another 42 years. Who says men are insecure?

On January 10, 2001, President-(not)elect Bush and his "national security" team (Condi Rice and two street mimes) received a top-secret Pentagon briefing on military challenges around the world. We suspect they tuned out somewhere around, "Now listen carefully, this is important..."

On January 10, 1982, Mount Vernon, Ohio, lost it's biggest celebrity when Paul Lynde was found dead at 55 in his Beverly Hills home. In his honor, from Hollywood Squares

Peter Marshall: When Richard Nixon was Vice-President, he went someplace on a "good will mission," but instead wound up being stoned and shouted at. Where did this take place?
Paul Lynde: Pat's room.

Peter Marshall: We've all heard the old phrase "A pig in a poke." What is a poke?
Paul Lynde: It's when you're not really in love.

Peter Marshall: Paul, in what famous book will you read about a talking ass who wonders why it's being beaten?
Paul Lynde: I read it: The Joy of Sex.

Peter Marshall: Is it normal for Norwegians to talk to trees?
Paul Lynde: As long as that's as far as it goes.

For a lesson in perfect comic timing, go . "Oh my gooodness!"

After tonight's speech Bush will read the poll-tested words on his Teleprompter, and, barring a serious show of spine by the Democratic leadership, he will have his escalation of hostilities. And the Very Important People will continue to tell us why we should be patient for just a little bit longer. And we will shop. And the White House will spin. And the insurgents will adjust their tactics. And our soldiers will keep dying. And the Young Republicans will come up with shiny new excuses for why they can't sign up to fight in the war they've supported with religious fervor since the beginning. And lefty bloggers who have been absolutely correct on everything war-related since before it began will be accused of being shrill. And it will be déjà vu all over again.

: The Washington Post on how Bush got the generals to follow his New Way Forward.

A tidal wave of broken bodies. Linda Bilmes of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard has good news and bad news. Good news: better equipment means more Iraq and Afghan troops are surviving injuries on the battlefield. Bad news: with 16 troops injured for every one killed (vs. 3-to-1 during Korea and Vietnam), VA hospitals are facing :

So far, more than 200,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated at VA medical facilities---three times what the VA projected, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis. More than one-third of them have been diagnosed with mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, acute depression and substance abuse. Thousands more have crippling disabilities such as brain or spinal injuries.

Meanwhile, President Bush wants $100 billion in "emergency" funds to keep the conveyor belt of carnage going. I suggest that Congress approve it---exclusively for the treatment of our wounded. All those in favor, extend your middle finger in the direction of the White House.

The Consequences of George W. From Today's WSJ ($) because I subscribe and you, I'm guessing, don't, :

As President Bush prepares to unveil his latest Iraq strategy, Arab allies are worried about what might happen if the plan fails: that worsening strife could engulf the entire region, sparking a wider war in the middle of the world's largest oil patch. The potential of a much larger regional conflict that pits Sunnis against Shiites is increasingly on the minds of both Arab leaders and U.S. military planners, according to regional diplomats and U.S. officials. Some are calling such a possible outcome the "nightmare scenario." A wider conflict appears more plausible now because, even as Iraq is separating along sectarian lines, regional dynamics are shoving neighboring nations into two rival camps. On one side is a Shiite-led arc running from Iran into central Iraq, through Syria and into Lebanon. On the other side lie American allies Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, along with Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. These Sunni regimes are horrified at the emerging, increasingly radicalized Shiite bloc, largely financed and inspired by Iran, Arab diplomats say. In the middle is Iraq, which looks less and less like a buffer between these two axes of Middle East power, and more of a no-man's land that is bringing them into conflict.

OK, that's enough, before they call the lawyers. But you get the point. I don't care if he believes his own lies. So do most mass murderers. The man has done more damage to the world than any man since, well, I dunno. If I fill in that blank accurately, I will be called all kinds of names, and it will upset my mother. Let's just say more than any man alive ...

A metaphor:

Bush is like a man who is dealt two kings in blackjack (after 9-11) when the dealer is showing a three, doubles down instead of playing his winner hand, gets two twos, and continues to double down over and over and over until he loses his family's life savings and insurance policy. Kristol, Krauthammer, and Kaplan, et al, are like the Vegas floozies with fake boobs telling him what a big man he is the whole time, stroking his thighs while picking his pockets ... (Oh, and John "Maverick" McCain is the long-suffering wife ...)

Speaking of which, the McCain Suck-Up Watch, from our sponsors, is and . Meanwhile, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll that "only 17 percent" of Americans "called for an increase in U.S. forces."

Creationists not quite done screwing the schools The Kansas Board of Education has voted to revisit and likely repeal the curriculum casting doubt on evolutionary biology. But despite the thumpin' arch conservatives took in November, local and national fundamentalist creationists are urging the board to leave the old standards intact:

-- Supporters of the current standards repeated their argument Tuesday that evolution is unproven and that it can bias children against religion. "Evolution as it’s taught today is bad science," said Doug Kaufman of Leavenworth. "It’s unproveable."

Science doesn't deal in proof, and trying to prove anything to hyper-conservative flat-earthers inevitably leads to infinitely regressing goal posts. But scientific explanations can be tested, retested, corroborated, and confirmed, until they are accepted by consensus, and thought to represent some degree of truth. There they will remain, unless a better, tried and tested, scientific explanation comes along.

Science can indeed refine or reject some theological interpretations. But if one's theology holds that the universe is six-thousand years old, they have a lot bigger problems than evolutionary biology. That view is flatly contradicted by cosmology, stellar astronomy, stratigraphy, chemistry, atomic physics, and quantum mechanics, just to name a few.

It's easy to get lost in the scientific or religious discussion, but this isn't about evolution or science or even religion. It's just another right-wing funded attack on behalf of the mega-rich, cleverly packaged to appeal to the very working families whose future it will devastate. The real goal is to undermine confidence in public education, maybe ultimately replacing those institutions with privatized versions (No doubt run by a recently acquired subsidiary of Neoconia Inc., suckling at the taxpayer teat). And it's about eliminating property taxes on sprawling McMansions.

If money is the motivating factor for zillionaire clans and GOP cronies, here's some dollars and sense for those hard-working families who actually earn their pay the old fashioned way: The last time a school board got neo-conned into defending creationist nonsense, a appointed by President Bush took them to task. The creationists just moved on down the road to look for their next victim. The tax-paying residents of that small town were stuck with the legal bill. Would you like to be next?

Nattering ninnies revisited. Remember all the right-wing bloggers and pundits who said Valerie Plame wasn't an undercover CIA agent ("she had a desk job in D.C.!") and therefore her outing was no big deal? Well, she's writing a book and her former employer now says she her time spent as a CIA agent with (that's where the government disowns you if you get caught.). But the GOoPers are correct about one thing. Lord only knows what it is.

Because his pride is at stake :

A first wave of additional U.S. troops will go into Iraq before the end of the month under President Bush’s new plan, a senior defense official said Tuesday. Up to 20,000 troops will be put on alert and be prepared to deploy under the president’s plan, but the increase in forces on the ground will be gradual, said the official, who requested anonymity because the plans have not yet been announced.

Bush's pride vs the Constitution Here's a related to President Bush's claim to be a king. But it occurs to me that this 'debate' is really only a debate if you see this not as wrestling over policy between the president and the Congress but as President Bush as an epochal figure, a man of destiny in a grand historical struggle who has powers to answer to grander than Congress or the constitution. I know that may seem like hyperbole saying that. But if you listen to this conversation, I really think that's the subtext. Sure, Congress has the power of the purse, the thinking seems to go. But this is bigger than Congress. Bigger than the niceties of the constitution. This is his rendezvous with destiny in Iraq, the key battle in World War IV or IX (I don't remember which we're up to.)

At a certain level this isn't that complicated. The president and the Congress have a set of intentionally countervailing powers. And it is within that framework that we, as a nation, hash out our direction on great matters of the day like this one. But what I'm hearing is that what President Bush is up to in Iraq is bigger than all that.

And that leaves us in the dangerous position of the constitution vs. the president's grandiosity.

Going it alone Blair: .

Because he sucks Number of jobs John Negroponte has had in the Bush administration in the last five years: 4
(Source: )

An honest, intelligent man Larry Johnson's .

The act of an ass “President Bush lifted the drilling ban Tuesday for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, clearing the way for the Interior Department to .”

There IS a difference between Left and Right the “new chairman of the powerful U.S. senate banking committee,” today “vowed to and unscrupulous lenders that target minorities and military families.”

What liberal media? In his memoir, A Matter of Opinion, Victor Navasky attempts to identify the ideology of the editors of The New York Times and by extension of the political establishment, often (purposely) mistaken for "the liberal elite." He does so by examining how often the Times invites its reporters to break its own stated rules when it comes to those to whom they apparently do not apply. For instance, the Times editors will state in an "Editors' Note" that "The Times' practice is to present both sides of a controversy." But based on the Times' own journalistic practice, this rule was not applied to certain categories of individuals, including communists, terrorists, children, Jesse Jackson, people of color, or poor people. Another person, we recently learned, to whom they do not apply is Jimmy Carter. Amazingly, given Carter's status as former president of the United States as well as its oft-stated commitment to fairness, the Times recently ran a news story about the controversy inspired by his book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, in which every single "authority" quoted was an attacker.

Of course, part of the problem was that Carter was criticizing Israel in harsher terms than one generally hears in American public discourse. (Academic studies have demonstrated that the Times' coverage of Israeli behavior is far, far gentler on the Jewish state than is that in, say, the centrist Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz.) But another contributory public relations problem for Carter is that despite his born-again, Southern populist routes, he has become widely identified in the public mind as a liberal. And though certainly no announcement has been made anywhere, it's become OK for Times writers to vilify liberals without presenting "both sides of the controversy" as well. In fact, they don't even have to present any evidence. The Times' Carter piece can be found .

On and On The Iraq war exists in a perpetual "The official said Bush intends to hand control of the country to Iraqi forces by November... The official cautioned that the November date for Iraq control does not mean U.S. troops would withdraw by then." "AMMAN, Jordan - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Thursday that his country's forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 — which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops. 'I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007,' Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush on Thursday in Jordan."

Your Liberal Media Still going out of its way to

Lying sack of crap Via : Tony Snow says prez never said "Mission Accomplished."

I think the public ought to just listen to what the president has to say. You know that the mission accomplished banner was put up by members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, and the president, on that very speech, said just the opposite, didn’t he?

Of course, no part of that is true. For that May 1, 2003, Bush stood in front of a large banner that read, “Mission Accomplished.” In the opening of his speech, he declared, “. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” He called the “battle of Iraq” a “victory.” In his radio address shortly after the speech, he boasted, “I delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: and major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Additionally, as Bob Woodward reported in October, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had to pressure the White House to take out of the speech the actual phrase “Mission Accomplished,” but he couldn’t “.” In Oct. 2003, then-White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan admitted that the White House — not members of USS Lincoln — had “.”

Dem's Promise kept -- in record time What the Republican Congress couldn’t accomplish in five years, the Democratic Congress took care of in – yes! – :

House easily passes anti-terror bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anti-terror legislation sailed through the House on Tuesday, the first in a string of measures designed to fulfill campaign promises made by Democrats last fall.

Patterned on recommendations of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, the far-reaching measure includes commitments for inspection of all cargo carried aboard passenger aircraft and on ships bound for the United States.

The vote was a bipartisan 299-128

Some of the more interesting reactions from Republicans:

Several Republicans criticized the legislation as little more than political posturing in the early hours of a new Democratic-controlled Congress.

Yes, compared with the flag-burning amendment and getting God locked into the Pledge of Allegiance, national security certainly should take a back seat as "political posturing."

"This bill will waste billions of dollars, and possibly harm homeland security by gumming up progress already underway," said Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.

Note: The money complaint is issuing from the mouth of a member of a political party that is conducting a war off the books. And any visible "progress already underway" seems to amount to tapping our phones in violation of the Constitution, torturing people who’ve had no trial, suspending habeas corpus ... and oh, yeah, making us dump our perfume and take off our shoes at the airport.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., noted disapprovingly that screeners at the Transportation Security Agency would receive collective bargaining rights under the bill.

My word! Imagine the chaos into which this country will descend if workers get together to bargain about decent wages and working conditions! It’s hard to imagine, say ... police officers or firefighters joining any organization that would lead to collective bargaining, isn’t it?

And Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the measure "gives false hope to the American people" because technology for scanning all cargo containers is not yet available.

This from the same political party that brought us "Mission Accomplished!" and "Adapt to Win!" and – playing on a TV screen near you tomorrow! – "A New Way Forward!" Pssst ... Mr. King? I suspect that whatever the president’s so-called plan for success is in Iraq, it is "not yet available." And never will be.

That sound you hear is the "Dems are weak on terrorism" myth shattering into a million slivers.

Fortifying the parapets. The White House is lawyering up in anticipation of blistering Congressional investigations, and who do they pick to fill Harriet Miers' stilettos? Fred Fielding, once tasked with during the Watergate scandal. May the current presidency end the same way as that little kerfuffle.

Religious Reich won't like this points out an interesting fact: Of the four prominent Republican presidential contenders – McCain, Gingrich, Guiliani and Romney – only the Mormon hasn’t had more than one wife.

Are you sitting down? Ted Stevens, the ancient Alaskan senator, best known for calling the internet a "series of tubes," proposed legislation last week to from 27 to 40 miles-per-gallon. [Polite golf clap] But c' increments of one mpg per year until 2017? Lame.

Hiding the ugly truth? Some experts are questioning the delay in the issuance of the , wondering whether it’s being held back to avoid embarrassing the president on the eve of his speech announcing Operation Escalation Hard Sell.

Just askin' The analyzes the question of whether Iraq can really be considered a "sovereign nation" if the Bush administration is "thrusting new strategy" on its leadership.

Covering for a pal CIA on Duke Cunningham investigation.

Covering for another pal The CIA has submitted portions of a book manuscript by former Director George Tenet to the White House for review amid speculation the memoirs . A CIA spokesman denied allegations that the book had been submitted for review of negative comments about Bush.

Beach babe Obama. A two-page spread titled “BEACH BABES” in the latest issue of People magazine features a “in the Hawaiian surf.” Presented with the image yesterday, Obama said, “You know, it’s uh — … It’s embarrassing.” Later, “Obama noticed that Jay Newton-Small of Bloomberg News was studying the image. ‘‘ he mock-scolded, and hustled away.”

Bush has lost the wingnuts! Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, former Col. Oliver North — now a conservative military analyst for Fox News — said that on his recent trip to Baghdad he learned that “nearly all” U.S. troops opposed escalating the war in Iraq. They told North, “We don’t need more American troops; we need more Iraqi troops.” North added that Bush’s proposal “sounds eerily like Lyndon Johnson’s plan to save Vietnam in the 60s by gradual escalation as a way not to lose.”

Congressional war powers Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, President Bush will address the nation and announce by sending about 20,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq. Can Congress do anything about it?

Some members have claimed that . Legal scholars on both the and the say that’s false. History supports their case.

A new report from the Center for American Progress details how, over the last 35 years, Congress has passed bills, enacted into law, that capped the size of military deployments, prohibited funding for existing or prospective deployment, and placed limits and conditions on the timing and nature of deployments. :

December 1970. P.L. 91-652 — Supplemental Foreign Assistance Law. The Church-Cooper amendment prohibited the use of any funds for the introduction of U.S. troops to Cambodia or provide military advisors to Cambodian forces.

December 1974. P.L. 93-559 — Foreign Assistance Act of 1974. The Congress established a personnel ceiling of 4000 Americans in Vietnam within six months of enactment and 3000 Americans within one year.

June 1983. P.L. 98-43 — The Lebanon Emergency Assistance Act of 1983. The Congress required the president to return to seek statutory authorization if he sought to expand the size of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force in Lebanon.

June 1984. P.L. 98-525 — The Defense Authorization Act. The Congress capped the end strength level of United States forces assigned to permanent duty in European NATO countries at 324,400.

November 1993. P.L. 103-139. The Congress limited the use of funding in Somalia for operations of U.S. military personnel only until March 31, 1994, permitting expenditure of funds for the mission thereafter only if the president sought and Congress provided specific authorization.

Read the for more examples.

Official Washington -- or a lot of it -- doesn't get that democracy matters. The constitution gives the president great power and latitude in the exercise of his war powers. But not exclusive power. The president is not a king. Anybody who knows anything about the US constitution knows that it was designed specifically so that the president's need to get the Congress to finance his wars would be an effective brake on the vast power he holds as commander-in-chief.

In practice, Congress's power to declare war is little more than a nullity. War financing is where the constitutional rubber meets the road. It's true that war declarations were far more regularly invoked before the last half century. But anyone who doubts that the framers saw the power to finance or not to finance as the Congress's real power need only familiarize themselves wtih English constitutional history of the 17th and 18th century which was the framers' point of reference.

I'm actually probably a lot less inclined to want the Congress trying to constrain the president's hands with the power of the purse than a lot of readers of this site -- not in this case specifically, but just in general, at an instinctual level. But over time -- specifically over the the last five years -- I've come to believe that this isn't so much political wisdom or maturity as a less creditable inability, in spite of everything, to see that we have a president who has a basic contempt for our system of government and the rule of law and that the normal rules of inter-branch comity simply aren't in effect.

The way this is 'supposed' to work is that when the president takes a dramatic new direction like this he consults with Congress. That way, some relative range of agreement can be worked out through consultation. National unity is great. Or at least that's the theory.

But here we have a case where the president's party has just been thrown out of power in Congress largely, though not exclusively, because the public is fed up with the president's lies and failures abroad. (Indeed, at this point, what else does the Republican party stand for but corruption at home and failure abroad? Small government? Please.) The public now the war was a mistake. Decisive numbers we should start the process of leaving Iraq. And the public is sending more troops to the country. The country's foreign policy establishment (much derided, yes, but look at the results) is also overwhelmingly against escalation.

And yet, with all this, the president has ignored the Congress, not consulted the 110th Congress in any real way, has ignored the now longstanding views of the majority of the country's citizens and wants to plow ahead with an expansion of his own failed and overwhelmingly repudiated policy. The need for Congress to assert itself in such a case transcends the particulars of Iraq policy. It's important to confirm the democratic character of the state itself. The president is not a king. He is not a Stuart. And one more Hail Mary pass for George W. Bush's legacy just isn't a good enough reason for losing more American lives, treasure and prestige.

Waking up to no work. Even though the AP tries to pad their article with excuses, at least someone finally noticed that the president's record on jobs :

The U.S. economy has cranked out fewer jobs under President George W. Bush---by millions---than it had by the same point in the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. ... Under Bush, the economy produced 3.7 million new jobs from January 2001 through December of last year based on nonfarm payroll figures collected by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.... When Clinton was in the White House, the economy generated 17.6 million jobs during the corresponding period---from January 1993 to December 1998. Under Reagan, 9.5 million jobs were created from January 1981 to December 1986.

So, dear media, the next time you hear Bush or one of his flunkies citing that ridiculous "" number, feel free to tell 'em where to stick it.

Back to selling dispensation? Oh what a ---yawn---surprise: a new Villanova study finds that, in 85 percent of Catholic dioceses, a lot of money goes from . I'm tellin' God! I'm tellin' God! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah...!!

While we're all talking about the president's 'surge' plan, I want to make sure everyone sees Fred Kaplan's in Slate yesterday. It's a good example of why the most appropriate name for what the president is planning is neither 'surge' nor even 'escalation' but rather 'punt' -- a strategically meaningless increase in troops meant to allow the president to avoid dealing with the failure of his policy and lay the ground work for getting the next president to take the blame for his epochal screw-up.

One of the ironies of the current situation is that in the early months of the occupation, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who's slated to take over in Iraq, was the general on the ground who all the sharpest people on military affairs thought was the one guy in charge over there who really understood what kind of a battle he was engaged in. In short, counter-insurgency, or rather, heading off an insurgency by prioritizing real reconstruction and hearts-and-minds work rather than kicking people's doors down.

He spent last year co-authoring the Army's new . But look at what the manual says. Counter-insurgency operations require at least 20 combat troops per 1000 people in a given area. And look closely. That's not just military personnel, but combat troops.

Kaplan runs through the numbers. But the key points are that you'd need 120,000 combat troops to mount real counter-insurgency operations just in Baghdad. We currently have 70,000 combat troops in the whole country. So concentrate all US combat personnel in Iraq into Baghdad. Then add 20,000 more 'surge' combat troops. That leaves you 30,000 short of the number the Army thinks you'd need just in Baghdad.

Needless to say, Iraq isn't just Baghdad. And if you know anything about how insurgencies work you know that if we actually had enough troops in Baghdad (remember, to even get in shooting distance of that you need to evacuate the rest of the country) the insurgents would just fan out and start literal or figurative fires where we're not.

What this all amounts to is that 20,000 or even 50,000 new combat troops don't even get you close to what the Army says you need to do what President Bush says he's now going to try to do. To get that many troops into the country you'd need to put this country on a serious war-footing and begin drawing troops down from deployments around the globe. All of which, just isn't going to happen, setting aside for the moment of what should happen. And that tells you this whole thing is just a joke at the expense of the American public and our troops on the ground in Iraq.

What's sad about this (and it's hard to know where to start on that count) is that a few years ago, much, much more would have been possible with more troops on the ground. Alternatively, if the president and his key advisors hadn't lied to the country about the number of troops required to stabilize and police Iraq (then-Army Chief of Staff Shinseki said 400k+, I think) we might not have pulled the trigger in the first place.

We're living in the wreckage of the president's lies. And this is just one more of them.

Lazy asses. In their tribute to the inventor of Ramen noodles, who died last week, the New York Times whines that, comparatively, making Kraft macaroni and cheese turns the kitchen into :

You have to boil the macaroni, stir it to prevent sticking and determine through some previously obtained expertise when it is "done." You must separate water from noodles using a specialized tool, a colander, and to complete the dish---such an insult---you have to measure and add the fatty deliciousness yourself, in the form of butter and milk that Kraft assumes you already have on hand. All that effort, plus the cleanup, is hardly worth it.

Silly gooses...don’t they know what children are for?

What if Bobby had lived and won? It doesn't take much imagination to see that the deviation of the Republican Party from "Goldwater Republican" through the "Reagan Republican" to the "DeLay Republican" began . That year was the apex of a time of turmoil and change; a transition from the to . Unfortunately the brand of "law and order" practiced by Richard Nixon laid the foundation for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to appoint people who have no regard for the law. Robert Kennedy in a 1961 speech at the University of Georgia Law School:

"We will not stand by or be aloof. We will move. I happen to believe that the 1954 Supreme Court school desegregation decision was right. But my belief does not matter. It is the law. Some of you may believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is the law."

Somehow, I don't think that anyone appointed to a position of trust by Bobby Kennedy would have had so little regard for the law as the henchmen appointed by Nixon and Ford, and later, Bush I and "W." I think that today we would see an entirely different atmosphere in Washington if Bobby Kennedy had been elected president in 1968.

In the 1966 Annual Day of Affirmation Speech in South Africa, he , "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope..." This is what we could have had instead of a man who will probably be best remembered for saying, "I am not a Crook..." and be found to be a liar as well.

Robert Kennedy's words from his Announcement of Candidacy for President have as much meaning now as when he them in 1968:

I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all that I can.

I run to seek new policies - policies to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between young and old, in this country and around the rest of the world.

I run for the presidency because I want the Democratic Party and the United States of America to stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation of men instead of the growing risk of world war.

I run because it is now unmistakably clear that we can change these disastrous, divisive policies only by changing the men who are now making them. For the reality of recent events in Vietnam has been glossed over with illusions...

... At stake is not simply the leadership of our party and even our country. It is our right to moral leadership of this planet.

By changing one word, "Vietnam" to "Iraq," his statements are more appropriate than ever. There is no telling what R.F.K. could have accomplished. He was just coming into his own, and he knew it. At the Ambassador Hotel, , "I feel for the first time that I've shaken the shadow of my brother."

Other from Robert Kennedy that are as true today as when he said them:

All of us, from the wealthiest and most powerful of men, to the weakest and hungriest of children, share one precious possession: the name American.

The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country.

What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their causes, but what they say about their opponents.

Nations around the world look to us for the leadership not merely by strength of arms but by strength of our convictions.

The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use -- of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.

We can master change not though force or fear, but only though the free work of an understanding mind, though an openness to new knowledge and fresh outlooks, which can only strengthen the most fragile and most powerful of human gifts: the gift of reason.

All of these words from someone who had a vision for this country. A vision that would have taken us down a path to make America greater. We are at another crossroads in this country's history where vision is critical to our standing in the world, and by some accounts, our survival as a country. To that end, I hope that our new Congessional leaders share in a vision described by another quote from Bobby Kennedy:

In this entire century the Democratic Party has never been invested with power on the basis of a program which promised to keep things as they were. We have won when we pledged to meet the new challenges of each succeeding year. We have triumphed not in spite of controversy, but because of it; not because we avoided problems, but because we faced them. We have won, not because we bent and diluted our principles, but because we stood fast to the ideals which represent the most noble and generous portion of the American spirit.


January 10, 2007 - 3:58pm