Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ohio and Florida!

Does this sound familiar? What the polls are saying!
by Charlie Leck

I had lunch today with one of the leading politicos in the state of Minnesota. He knows his stuff. I know that because he’s a proven commodity. He understands the trends in our state completely. He’s very good on national trends also. I told him that over 50 readers have asked me to give them regular reports on what the polls are saying. He was pretty amazed at that number. I had my reader-tracking figures with me for overall blog visits. When he saw the blog was holding steady at 5,000 regular visits per week, he was even more surprised. He promised to start reading.

He’s not too trustful of the polls this year. He thinks a lot of funny-business is going on in both campaigns; however, he concedes that the real figures are now starting to come in. The bounce from the conventions is over. The first debate is history. One can begin to get some real readings.

“Don’t forget that this is not a national election,” he told me. “This is a state by state affair. You have to look at the powerful states and see what is happening. You may hear that Obama is ahead by 5, 6 or 7 points nationally, but if he is behind in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, he’s got a problem.”

“So, how does it look state by state?”

He pulled a big file folder out of his tattered brief case.

“Let’s begin at home,” he mumbled.

“It’s very close here,” he said. “My figures indicate Obama would win tomorrow if the election were held tomorrow. Hold it next week and it might be different. He appears to have a two point lead here. His campaign claims a very large, organized youth vote that is not being polled.”

“What about that?”

“I believe them. I’ve seen the phenomenon before – many years ago – and it’s more acute now with this wireless generation. However, we have to take the Obama folks’ word for the numbers. They claim it’s in the thousands in Minnesota – and millions nation-wide. We won’t know about that until we wake up on that Wednesday morning in November.”

“So, how about the other states you mentioned. Where is he?”

“McCain has about a two point margin in Ohio. No Democrat has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio. It’s worth watching. Yet, Obama has a significant lead in Michigan and a whopping lead in Pennsylvania. That’s significant. One needs to figure out why. It may be key. Obama will lose big in most of the south – by huge margins in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas. Yet, here’s what surprises me. There is a strong feeling he will win in North Carolina. That would be big. If he does, he might be able to lose Florida and still win. Obama is very strong in California and he should win there without question. He’ll win big in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. So, we’re coming down to Ohio and the western states. If Obama can win a few states the Democrats don’t ordinarily carry, he’ll win. Forget Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. He’ll lose them big but they don’t count for much. He’ll lose Arizona big and win New Mexico big. So, it comes down to Washington, Oregon and Colorado. Colorado is a really key state in this election. It really is! Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Ohio and Florida, are the states to watch. It’s in Washington and Oregon that this big, unpolled number of voters is vast. The polls won’t show it, but I think he’ll win big there. Colorado is tough to figure out. Obama will get killed in rural areas. Will the university towns and Denver come through big for him? Key question!”

I looked at him carefully. He was in deep concentration.

“So,” I asked him, “where are we?”

“We are down to two states! Surprise, surprise, surpise! Can you guess which two I’m talking about.”

I ventured an answer.

“Yup,” he said, “you got it! Florida and Ohio. At the moment, McCain has a one-point lead in each of those states. If that holds, it means Obama’s uncounted, silent army of young supporters is needed for him to win.”

I waved at the waiter and asked him to bring another martini for my oracle. It came quickly.

“So, we just sit through the morning of November 5th and wait for the count?”

“Yup,” he said, “and it will be very close. Sound familiar? Ohio and Florida!”

There may be more than you want to know in the following list my friend put together for me, but it’s here if you want to go on.

To review, these states are
locks for Senator McCain:
North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota

The following appear to be
locks for Senator Obama
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island

The following states have close races and will be
considered battleground territory:
Colorado (dead even as of this date)
Connecticut (leaning toward Obama, but Lieberman will campaign for McCain)
Florida (very close)
Iowa (leaning toward Obama)
Michigan (leaning toward Obama)
Minnesota (dead even)
Missouri (dead even)
Nevada (very close)
New Hampshire (leaning toward McCain)
New Mexico (leaning toward Obama)
North Carolina (slight, surprising lean toward Obama)
Ohio (very close)
Virginia (leaning toward Obama)
Washington (leaning toward Obama)
Wisconsin (significant lean toward Obama)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Art is Life’s Underdog!

Someone needs to stand up against the bully!
by Charlie Leck

I drove out into the countryside west of here the other day. I was taking the new dog to the vet for a booster shot of something-or-other. There is some lovely, rolling countryside along the highway out there and it was always a pleasure to look out over it, to remind myself once again what a remarkable artist God is.

To my surprise I saw that several new horse farms of generous size had been established out there. What a remarkable spot to pasture horses! The meadows are so remarkably beautiful on an autumn day and the reed grasses growing in the wetlands that spot the grazing land are incredibly variegated.

I was pretty shocked, however, to see the bright-white fencing that the owners had chosen. A sadness rolled over me and I shook my head as I drove on. Plastic fencing! They call it vinyl, you know, but, in reality, it is just a form of ugly plastic. White, plastic fencing ran around those gorgeous, natural, meadowland pastures.

My mind tried to recall something I had read in Patricia Hempl’s newest book. She’s one of the best writers in contemporary America and you’re missing a treat if you haven’t read her. What was it, though, I was trying to remember? I had to wait until I got home and then I leafed through the pages of the little book until I came upon it.

There it is:
“…art… was life’s underdog. It needed someone to stand up for it against the bully forces of uncaring and plastic.”
That’s it! That’s what the lines of plastic fencing do! They ruin God’s grand art. It is like taking one of the precious works of Monet and putting it in a florescent-colored plastic frame. Gad!

What are people thinking? God’s precious landscape needs someone to stand up for it! Oh, how I rue the day that they invented vinyl fencing. It doesn’t fit the picture. Think about it! Gallant and graceful horses playfully galloping across the countryside with luscious, green grass beneath their hooves. In the background one can see the towering linden trees, maples, oaks and evergreens. The landscape is dotted with spectacularly colorful wetland areas. And scratched across the surface of this lovely picture, as if someone has taken a nail and dragged it roughly and sharply across the canvass, is grotesque plastic fencing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cool-Hand Luke

I have a thought, but I think I’ll hold it for another time!
by Charlie Leck

Butch Cassidy! I’ll never forget him. Nor will I forget Cool-Hand Luke. Or, for that matter, Sully Sullivan or Eddie Felson or Frank Galvin or Max Roby.

Thanks, Mr. Newman. You were incredible – in film and in real life. I have some thoughts, but so does beaucoup le monde. I’ll let mine season and ferment.

Rest well among the stars!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The moment is compelling and the nation is in crisis, but the debate never got going!
by Charlie Leck

I’m listening again to some of the Sarah Palin interviews with both Sean Hannity and Katie Couric. One of them is playing in the background as I write this. The Hannity interviews were easy for her and they were designed to be that way. Hannity showed himself to be anything but a real and unbiased journalist. He’s a total fake.

One gets a more insightful look at Palin in the Couric interviews. I am quite amazed. This is not the same person who had a teleprompter in front of her at the RNC National Convention. I actually feel a tinge of sympathy for her. Rush Limbaugh pushed this woman on to the national scene. The McCain campaign rolled the dice by choosing her as a candidate for Vice President because their man was weak with the far-right voters. At this moment she is certainly in over her head. Perhaps, she’s a quick learner and by Thursday night’s VP debates she’ll figure some things out. I think the organization will keep her tied to a tight script in all her answers that night. They’ll want to avoid free-lancing by her as much as possible. We’ll see.

At the moment, the thought of Sarah Palin as the chief executive of our nation is quite frightening. Even some significant numbers of conservatives are backing off on her and wondering if the party didn’t make a mistake. She still has approximately six weeks to get up to speed in order to convince voters she can handle the job. Unfortunately, she has only 5 days to get ready to debate Joe Biden.

Yet, as awkward as she has been and as weak as this ticket looks, there is an extremely good chance that it is going to be voted into office by a very strange voting public. A very thorough Stanford University survey indicates more than 30 percent of voters who normally vote for Democrats have negative feelings about blacks that may influence them to vote against Barack Obama because he is African American. This kind of stuff is depressing to many of us. A nephew recently wrote to me and said it both plainly and sadly:

“OUTRAGEOUS!!! I am so angry at this government, at the Republicans, at the supposedly 'honorable' McCain... If he wins the election, I am going to give serious thought [to] finding elsewhere to live. If South Africa wasn't in such turmoil, we would have moved back there already. Of course, with this housing crisis, we're stuck with your place for years to come. Thank goodness we can actually meet the mortgage payments each month...so far.”
I have sympathy for his anger. I often feel the same heat inside. The idiots on the far right scream out that we should 'go ahead and leave then.' It isn’t quite so easy, is it? No, should we lose again in this November’s election, we’ll just need to work harder to convince more Americans that we can be a better, kinder and even freer nation than we are.

The polls look okay, so why the angst?
I watched the debate last night. I went on-line and watched it again this morning to make sure my first feelings were real. It was a bland, boring affair. There seemed to be no fight and no excitement in Obama. McCain seemed to be there for the taking and they just let him flop around meaninglessly without attacking. I didn’t like that.

Now, perhaps it’s a strategy that Obama’s campaign wizards have got worked out. Nevertheless, I still don’t get it. Obama’s strength is his enthusiasm and his ability to think and talk on his feet. It wasn’t there last night. There was no winner and no loser.

Perhaps, too, it’s the crisis situation we’re in right now. Maybe the campaign decided it was wisest to go softly and appear more compromising and genial.

One more debate as bland and boring as this one was and no one will be watching the third encounter.

The polls have improved for Obama in the last week. I'm wondering, though, if this strange and tepid debate will have some negative impact on his standing.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Honorable Senator John McCain Wins the Debate!

It hasn’t happened yet; Yet it has!
by Charlie Leck

It is hours before the debate. I’ve still got a Yappy-Hour to go to and then a quiet drink to have before the debate even begins. In case some of you think the above is a typo, I’ll explain. The Yappy Hour is a gathering of dogs that are released from their leashes and they make Yappy together. I’ll be a guest of my dog, Jasper, as the little gathering.

Yet, though it hasn’t happened, I guess it has. Ads have already appeared in several places – positioned by the McCain campaign committee – annnouncing that John McCain was the winner of the debate – as his campaign manager is quoted: “Hands down!”

If you don’t believe it, take a look! Maybe they’ll catch the mistake and pull them before you read this. Then you’ll just have to take my word. They were there. Here’s a Washington Post story about the slip-up.

What a world this presidential politics is!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What’s the Rush, Bush?

None of us wants a crash, but let’s do this thing correctly!
by Charlie Leck

I don’t remember who said it recently. Someone in Congress! “Let’s do this thing correctly so that it doesn’t come back to us needing fixing!” That sounds like Dodd of Connecticut. Probably was!

This is one of the craziest things in my life time. The President of the U.S. has warned us of “a financial doomsday” as one talking head just said from the TV. He put a Friday deadline on things. Why? He hints that the market might collapse at closing time on Friday if Congress hasn’t done something! Or, that it won’t open on Monday unless Congress acts.

Actually, Bush is trying a full-court press, hoping the opposition will panic and throw up a bad shot in the closing moments of his presidency and in its campaign to unseat his party. Nice move, George, but the opposing team just called a time-out and went to the sidelines to talk about your bold move.


A regular reader in Denver wants to know why I’m so silent on this. I thought I indicated he said all that needed to be said in his note yesterday. He expands on that this morning.
Bush is using his fear politics again... This time I’m with the right wing Republicans who are against this bail out... What we need is time, which is just what George wants to scare us out of... “Sign now, worry later!" Private money is starting to go into the market (like Buffet)... if it takes federal money, which it probably will, let's go slowly... By funding the bailout now, it will push back private money... and if we can buy equity instead of bad debt, we’ll all be better off... Why can't we take the time necessary?

Where was the fed a month ago? – ‘The fundamentals are strong!" Where was Paulson? "We're not in a recession!" Did they all just wake up to a bomb exploding that they didn't have any idea about?

Do you know what's the hurry? By moving slowly, we assure the global market that we will act with judgment, not panic....

I'd really like to hear what you have to say...you've been strangely silent on this...
Fred, Go back and the read the paragraph above that begins with “Actually, Bush is…..” and you’ll have your answer. No contemplative body is going to sign on to this as Paulson had it written up! Do they think we’re crazy?

Right wing! Left wing! Those in the center! On this one I think they’ll be together – at least in terms of thinking it through. There will be plenty of differences among them in the end, but something better than the Paulson document will come out of this as a result of the debate. That’s the way the nation is supposed to work things through. Fred, we learned this together from Mrs. Havens. It’s been over 50 years since we sat in her classroom, but the woman, now residing among the stars, made sense. “Conscientious debate without the trimmings of politics makes for good legislation!” It doesn’t happen often. This time it must.

George W. Bush has just been pulled from the game. His full-court press didn’t work. The other team failed to cave! This play is crucial. They’ve got to get it right!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This and that about the national news!
by Charlie Leck

Privatizing Social Security
Anyone notice how this issue is dead? Bush pushed hard for it eight years ago and again four years ago. It was going to be the way the masses could really make money. Can you imagine the condition of the social security system and retirement funds if we had gone down that bumpy road?

Bailing out corporate failure
Fred, from Colorado, writes that he’s decided against:
“NO BAIL OUT... i want a buy out...let the feds buy equity interest in ailing banks and lenders that hold bad mortgages or derivitives... that gives them cash to loan, keeps them in business and gives them time to sell bad investments... years if necessary... they should have more skill to sell them than the feds, and doesn't reward them for stupidity and greed...let them WORK their way out of this mess. there, now i feel better! F”
Corporate Welfare
I call it corporate welfare, of course – this notion of putting up hundreds of billions of dollars to keep corporations afloat. Just let the rich bastards complain about welfare services again for people in need! Then, remind them.

Want to really understand this mess?
I keep telling you. Democracy Now, with Amy Goodman, is one of the best places you'll ever visit on the Internet. Take a look at this broadcast with Juan Gonzalez if you really want to understand this mess we're in. This particular broadcast features the independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, along with Dean Baker, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Robert Scheer, a journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle. It's good stuff.

Political Fear
The politicians are all running frightened right now! They really haven’t got the slightest idea what to do with this financial crisis from a political point of view. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t – and they’ve got to get back to their home states so they can campaign. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Life as a politician is no fun. I do have some sympathy for them and I’m glad someone will do it. Though we often start to think they’re rotten, when people like Senator Stevens from Alaska pops up [see story in Monday's NY Times], most of these legislators are good people who really are committed to serving their constituents.

The polls appear to be very close between Obama and McCain. Obama loses really big in rural areas and wins in urban areas. Suburbs are interesting. Obama is doing better than one would expect. There is a bit of an uprising by educated, suburban women. The Obama supporters also claim to have a secret weapon they’ll unleash on election day – a whole nation of young people who are not wired into the system and aren’t reached by conventional polls. The campaign organization may be correct. Is there a vast army of first time voters who are fed up with George W. Bush and his uncle, John McCain?

The Debate
The confrontation between Obama and McCain is at hand. It will be interesting. Just watch how tough John McCain will be. He will be nasty tough. The only way he can get elected is to paint Obama as a radical and a dreamer. He’ll do nasty things to accomplish that. The key will be in how Obama handles the attack. My bet is that the Obama organization is preparing him to handle a lot of sleaze. After the first debate, the polls will start to mean something.

Keep your eye on this story
This could end up being a big story because, if true, it contradicts something John McCain recently said about one of his campaign aids. This is breaking news -- only broke last night!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sarah Palin is Frightening!

Here’s what frightens me about Sarah Palin
by Charlie Leck

One of my readers provided a significant and helpful comment to my recent blog about the possibility of Sarah Palin becoming President of the United States. He suggested I read a Newsweek Commentary by Sam Harris.

I did read it! Bingo! It hits the nail right smack on the head and explains perfectly why we should actually be frightened about Palin as President. She will be the woman answering the telephone at 3 a.m.. This member of the Assembly of God Church, which believes the end times are near at hand and that God’s will is going to be worked out in these end times – and she (Sarah Palin) will be among those who will ascend into heaven to be with their almighty God.

Here’s a small section of Harris’ commentary. I strongly suggest you go read it all:

“I care even more about the many things Palin thinks she knows but doesn't: like her conviction that the Biblical God consciously directs world events. Needless to say, she shares this belief with mil-lions of Americans—but we shouldn't be eager to give these people our nuclear codes, either. There is no question that if President McCain chokes on a spare rib and Palin becomes the first woman president, she and her supporters will believe that God, in all his majesty and wisdom, has brought it to pass. Why would God give Sarah Palin a job she isn't ready for? He wouldn't. Everything happens for a reason. Palin seems perfectly willing to stake the welfare of our country—even the welfare of our species—as collateral in her own personal journey of faith. Of course, McCain has made the same unconscionable wager on his personal journey to the White House.

“In speaking before her church about her son going to war in Iraq, Palin urged the congregation to pray ‘that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God; that's what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan.’…“You can learn something about a person by the company she keeps. In the churches where Palin has worshiped for decades, parishioners enjoy ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit,’ ‘miraculous healings’ and ‘the gift of tongues.’ Invariably, they offer astonishingly irrational accounts of this behavior and of its significance for the entire cosmos. Palin's spiritual colleagues describe themselves as part of ‘the final generation,’ engaged in ‘spiritual warfare’ to purge the earth of ‘demonic strongholds.’ Palin has spent her entire adult life immersed in this apocalyptic hysteria. Ask yourself: Is it a good idea to place the most powerful military on earth at her disposal? Do we actually want our leaders thinking about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy when it comes time to say to the Iranians, or to the North Koreans, or to the Pakistanis, or to the Russians or to the Chinese: ‘All options remain on the table’?

“The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has ‘elitism’ become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.

“I believe that with the nomination of Sarah Palin for the vice presidency, the silliness of our politics has finally put our nation at risk. The world is growing more complex—and dangerous—with each passing hour, and our position within it growing more precarious. Should she become president, Palin seems capable of enacting policies so detached from the common interests of humanity, and from empirical reality, as to unite the entire world against us. When asked why she is qualified to shoulder more responsibility than any person has held in human history, Palin cites her refusal to hesitate. "You can't blink," she told Gibson repeatedly, as though this were a primordial truth of wise governance. Let us hope that a President Palin would blink, again and again, while more thoughtful people decide the fate of civilization.”
Sam Harris, who is the founder of the Reason Project and the author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, says it perfectly.

You might like to visit the Sam Harris web site at http://www.samharris.org/

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Open Letter to my Brother

Oh, brother, where art thou?

by Charlie Leck

I’m going to let you share in this letter that I wrote this morning to my brother about his rather firm decision to vote for McCain and Palin in this November’s election.
Dear brother,

Thanks for your note criticizing my blog of 6 September about the contemporary Republican Party and the hatred that consumes it. I’m so sorry we’re on different sides of this issue.

It would be nice if we could sit down over a big lobster or a platter full of cherrystones and talk about this matter but I know that one or both of us would end up getting frightfully angry and there would be a scene.

Your main question seems to be about how I can possibly turn over the safety of this nation and international security to Senator Obama. Oh, brother, where art thou?

Do you realize how insecure we are right now? And, don’t you realize that what McCain and Palin advocate is just an absolute continuation of the current policies.

If there were problems anywhere in the world now, that threatened our security, we have, because of our current military involvements, only one means left with which to protect ourselves. That one means, of course, is the most horrific one and the one that we would least like to use. Our military is stretched to its maximum limits right now. We have a powerful and superior air fighting force and a good Navy that can move it; and that gives us the only hope we have in a moment of crisis. Otherwise, we are stretched too thin. We have no available ground forces to inject into volatile situations.

To hear Palin say it, and McCain endorse it, the idea that the war in Iraq is God’s battle is something that nearly turns my stomach. You personally know better than that. For how many years did we attend the same church and listen to the same sermons and learn from the same Sunday School teachers. This war has nothing to do with God and His will is not being implemented in this cruel war. God does not ever approve of the useless and cruel killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It gets very dangerous to inject religion in this whole question. It is even more dangerous when people who don’t understand the depth of our faith treat it as if it something common and simple.

Dear brother, the Muslim people are not our enemy. Our enemies are those extremists – whether Christian or Muslim or Taoists or Atheists who threaten our ultimate freedom.

The desperateness of our nation’s economic condition right now further weakens us militarily around the world. We haven’t the money to spend on further clashes and involvements – even the most petty ones – without driving ourselves even more deeply into debt. If there were to be an actual economic crash in the nation, we might be left impotent.

It is difficult, if not total fantasy, to try to blame this economic crisis on anyone but the ultra-conservative political movement in this nation that his given away virtually all the regulatory controls we once had over massive financial institutions and Wall Street.

The McCain/Palin ticket promises only a continuation of the Bush economic policies.

I fear you spend too much time listening to the constantly chattering purveyors of hate and division on the radio. These talk show idiots got exactly the kind of leadership they have been calling for over the last eight years and this awful administration has driven our nation into the dirt. I cannot believe that you want more of the same old, same old.

I have ultimate confidence in Senator Obama’s ability to reunite us with our former international friends and allies.

Don’t you find it refreshing that Senator Obama is incredibly intelligent? Are we afraid of intelligence in the White House? Over the last eight years, we have certainly proved what a lack of it in our highest office can do.

If you question Obama’s loyalty to our nation, you have definitely been listening to the bottom feeders among the media. Obama is a proud American who adores his country and wants only the very best for it. However, Obama also believes in the concept of global brotherhood. He is aware that we must be internationally responsible and a good and fair playing partner on the world scene.

A vote for McCain/Palin is a vote for the least we can be. America has lost its place as a great leader on the international stage. Obama, with the respect in which he is already held among our former friends and international partners, can return us to that place of leadership. Obama can make America proud of herself again and he can make the world admire us again.

I fear you will not even get to this place in my letter, dear brother, but, if you do, I hope you will try to think all of this through with a clear and unbiased mind. Do not bind yourself to a movement of hatred and fear. Move on in hope, knowing America needs to save itself – knowing that America can be a proud and great nation again.

Love from your brother,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Naming George W. Bush’s Successor

John McCain is insignificant! Sarah Palin is their guy!
by Charlie Leck

A friend recently alerted me to this quotation from George Orwell’s book, 1984. It’s worth sending on to you in light of Sarah Palin’s likely succession of George Bush as President if the McCain/Palin ticket wins. That group that sent George W. Bush to the presidency is not nominating John McCain. They are sending Sarah Palin to take over the Presidency.

“The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life ... A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors... Who wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure remains always the same.” [George Orwell, 1984]
Do not let it happen!

I read Jim Klobuchar’s piece yesterday. He is bemoaning an American public that can fall for the Sarah Palin hustle.

“The irony in this is that if… the Republicans can pull this out amid the growing befuddlement of the American public, the country will be putting the keys to power back into the hands of the same invisible manipulators who have been running it into the ground for eight years, victimizing millions of powerless people and driving the richest country in the world to the edge of bankruptcy.. In other words, the Republicans want voters to re-elect the agents of their misery.

“Nothing in the White House is essentially going to change, of course, if that happens. It may worsen. With McCain fumbling in the White House while reminding us daily of his biography, the Pentagon’s favorites will still hog the money. The financial industry, whose greed plunged millions of people into de facto poverty and out of their homes, will continue basically unregulated. A Democratic Congress can act, but today it needs 60 votes to pass anything of substance and you can usually subtract Joe Lieberman.

“None of this has to happen if the American public looks seriously at the spreading ugliness of the country’s condition today. The government bureaus are filled with hacks whose primary condition of employment is to undermine the regulatory powers they were supposed to enforce. So the mortgage and credit card industries went wild and turned customers into paupers. Profiteers raided the people’s treasury. Failing financials and businesses demanded a bailout by the taxpayers. Shameless tax cuts to millionaires and endless war have shredded the schools’ ability to compete with the rising powers of China and India in the technical skills not only of the future but in the here and now.

“The same behind- the-scenes operators who ran the government under George Bush will be back in a McCain White House, one likely to be even more inept and clueless. So essentially it will be guided by the same ventriloquists who will do most of the governing. The victims will be the same—the uninsured, the unemployed, the fading middle and working classes, and the faith all of those people put in the hands of a government once dedicated to the common good. There is a reason why American veterans, who fought to preserve that ideal or were put in harm’s way needlessly, are looking increasingly to Obama to bring the country back to its senses.”
There is some hope in the polls.
The bounce is now over. Nation-wide it appears that Obama has a couple of percentage points lead. That’s within the margin of error, however, so the race is essentially a wash right now. EXCEPT, it appears there is a huge, unpolled body of voters out there who are young, unattached to land-line telephones, and will vote this year for the first time. The Obama organization believes that these young people will support him in an overwhelming manner. They will put an enormous effort into getting these voters into the voting booths.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

McCain/Palin Backed Forcefully By Agents of Hate

These jerks actually make me tremble for the America I love!
by Charlie Leck

It is sad that guys like Shaun Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Michael Savage, all of whom have huge listening audiences, are such advocates of absolute hate. One could actually name another half-dozen of these guys. They are not about discussion and dialogue. If a caller disagrees with them they are rude and cruel to that caller. They don’t promote reasonable debate and careful, conscientious thoughtfulness about selecting a President or other electoral choices. Instead they whip their audiences into frenzy by claiming that the opposition is awful, dangerous and mentally unbalanced.

You probably think I'm exaggerating. I am not. I recently listened, thanks to Bill Moyers, to some of their programming. Moyers introduced me to a video that left him in despair. He warned that the language is so hateful some people would have a difficult time dealing with it.

Imagine Glen Beck telling his audience that someone should kill Michael Moore, the liberal film documentary producer. You say it would never happen? Listen to the video I’ll reference in another two paragraphs. Listen to Beck say he’ll provide the gun. Now, these are guys who claim to be the ultimate loyalists. The talker, Neil Boortz, may be the most horrible. Listen to what he says about Muslims and the residents of New Orleans. These are sick guys and they are responsible for making our society sicker and sicker with hate.

I gulped and clicked the button that started the video. It was as Moyer’s described it – shear, unadulterated insanity. More frightening is the fact that millions of people listen to these guys and accept what they say as gospel (what an unfortunate word to use).

Gird your loins! Now make the big click and listen to the hate that these guys promote. It is such a bad thing for our nation because it divides completely and pits citizen against citizen. The video is called Rage on the Radio.

These promoters of hate would have their audiences believe that liberals are enemies of the country – that we are insane perverts. Again, I am not being hyperbolic! If you haven’t clicked and gone and watched the Moyers video, go on back up a paragraph and do it now.

This is what the far right is selling to gullible people who are anxious to have an enemy on whom they can blame all the troubles of the nation.

It frightens the living day-lights out of me. It makes me fear for the life of someone like Barack Obama and it makes me fear for the future of our country.

There are so many reasons for those of us, who truly love our land, to throw all our energies and recourses into winning this upcoming election.

Must there be More Wars?

John McCain says, unequivocally, “There will be more wars!”
by Charlie Leck

Those of you who want Senator Obama to be President ought to be thinking carefully about everything you, as one person, can do to make it happen.

I tremble for our nation when I think that John McCain might be its President. I tremble because he believes completely that there will be more wars.

Are there no more peace-makers – those who are blessed because they are peace makers? Is there no more belief in peace? Have we given up on giving peace a chance?

Go! Go, and listen to Scott Ritter’s words about what is down this path of war for America – for one particular, unknown, city in America. His words have the ring of truth and they are frightening. I think they will make you say: “Barack Obama must be the next President of the United States! For the sake of our children and grandchildren, Barack Obama must be elected in November and each of us must do our part. We must.”

Go! Go and listen to what lies in the future if John McCain is elected President.

I need not pen a single additional word. Go and watch and listen.

I’m in a gentle, good mood!

Maybe the dog does that for me!
Maybe the polls are looking a little better!
by Charlie Leck

I’m in a decent mood tonight. I think it’s the dog, Jasper. He is turning out to be a wonderful pal and we do lots together and, one thing for sure, we don’t talk politics.

We take long walks every day. In truth, I walk and he runs like a crazy one! Lordsy, how he likes to ramp it up and tear through the high grass and crash into a tree he couldn’t see because the grass was both too long and too thick. Strange game, but he likes it!

Yesterday he met Bruno, a Doberman, at the dog park. His new friend’s favorite game was ‘you lie on your back and pretend I take your slim, attractive throat in my big powerful jaws and rip it wide open!’ Strange! My new dog loved that, too! He played it for 20 minutes or so. After each round of the game they’d run through the high grass, the Doberman’s long legs lifting him up so much that he could actually see approaching trees and avoid them.

I like the feel of the Presidential campaign right now. I can’t point to any polls to support my good feeling, but I sense that reality is settling in across the land and the mass of folks are starting to see the real John McCain and the incredibly real Sarah Palin. Their claims to be the candidates of change just don’t ring true! They represent the same-old, same-old. There’s nothing hopeful about it!

One of my brothers writes and asks how I could think about turning over the nation’s foreign and domestic security to Obama? What do we want? My brother wouldn’t understand. We don’t need another bully. We need someone with a brain – someone who can talk with other nations and not at them. There is nothing wrong with electing someone with a high degree of intellect.

I think about some of these things as I walk along with my dog. I just don’t take them so seriously. The sun splashes all over us and we look out and see the lake sparkling in the distance. We hear some church bells tolling and it feels peaceful and hopeful. There’s something magical about a man and his dog. My time with him is thrilling.

He’s got me walking again. I’m not afraid to go 3 or 4 miles. I take it easy and he keeps running back to me, patiently coaxing me along. He brings a tennis ball he found in the high grass and he drops it at my feet. My knees crack as I bend down to pick it up. I throw it for him, remembering the days when I could have thrown in well over a hundred feet. Now I can’t get it out there more than 40 or 50 feet. I laugh at myself and shake my head. My arm was powerful once. I remember a lot of extraordinary power I once had and have no more – those days in Paris when my wife and I fell unalterably in love in a little loft apartment on Cité Trevisse. It happens.

When we circumnavigate the outer trail of the big park and return to our starting point, he wants to go again. My heart says ‘yes’ but my legs refuse to go on. Three miles is a good walk for me. Trying to do six or seven will lay me up for a day or two. Better to be moderate.

The dog disagrees. He bounds forward toward the owner of the Doberman. The owner calls back to me.

“Can he come along?”

“Sure! I’ll wait here.”

Off they go, like kids who have fuel tanks always on full. They bound through the high grass. The Doberman sees the tree they are approaching. My dog doesn’t. The crash is head-on and he writhes on his side, in the grass, for only seconds, and then builds himself up on all fours and chases again after the throat-slasher.

Kids! Kids? What can you expect?

In the car, on the way home, Jasper snores loudly as he stretches out on the back seat.

END that thought!

A note came in my email yesterday to read Jerry Feldman at Daily Kos [Listen Up! We Can Still Win this Thing!]. It's solid, good stuff about how to approach the campaign and how to deal with all the crap that the McCain organization is always dropping around in very slimy places. You might want to read it if you're wondering how Obama can possibly win.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Break from the Rants!

This would read better if you spoke ‘shoe’ but it’s okay this way, too.
by Charlie Leck

A friend from Denver alerted me to the following posting on Craig’s List. I haven’t exactly figured Craig’s List out yet but I know there were lots of raves when it first opened for business. No name was included with this posting – only a posting number – and there was no way to contact the poster to ask permission to share this with you on my blog. Yet, again, how do you get hold of an old shoe and ask questions and permission? My apologies to the author if he/she is offended by being put on display here.

My name is Right Shoe. I am a right shoe - Skechers circa 2003. I lost my "sole" mate on Saturday in Otay Mesa. His name was Left Shoe.

You see, my owner, Left Shoe, and I were skydiving together, and as the chute opened, Left Shoe, my partner of 5 years, went flying away. I knew this would happen... I tried to tell my owner to tie us better, but he just wouldn't listen. (My owner has been learning how to speak Shoe... but talking to him is mostly like talking to a brick wall)

Left Shoe and I have been inseparable these past few years, ever since we got identical Made In China tattoos. It's like we were made for each other; we were even the same size & color, and we enjoyed the same activities. We traveled everywhere together, and we were even planning on going to Japan together in September.

Some people say Left Shoe jumped on purpose. Sure, we weren't in our prime anymore; Left Shoe especially got a lot of comments about being tattered and over the hill. But I know Left Shoe and he wouldn't do that to me. It was a bad day for Left Shoe because in the morning he stepped in gum, and then later he stepped in an unknown substance on the port-a-potty floor. But he was fine, and was excited to go skydiving. Left Shoe was resilient like that.

I really miss Left Shoe. I've come to terms with the fact that I may never see him again. But I really just want to know what happened to Left Shoe... Did he land in a lake? or did the winds carry him out to sea? or did he leave a little crater somewhere from the impact? or maybe he burned up on re-entry in a blazing fireball of glory.

If you know anything about what happened to Left Shoe, please contact me. I know I can't hope that Left Shoe is still alive, but I just want to know what became of Left Shoe...

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
--Alfred Lord Tennyson

All my thoughts & prayers,
Right Shoe

[click here for the Craig’s List posting if you want to see it in the original]

There’s a little break from my rants; but I’ve a heckuva rant for you tomorrow (Radio Rage). Continue reading for more of today's posting.

Do You Laugh or Cry?

A friend’s daughter raises a significant question!
by Charlie Leck

A little friend of mine is giving it a faithful try. He wants to grow up to be a blogger. He is only in the “I think I can, I think I can” phase right now. A while longer and he’ll move into the “I know I can” mode that will allow him to really get there. If he really keeps it up this time, he is absolutely worth visiting and reading.

His most recent posting, from which he sends you to two incredible videos, will leave you with that vague, empty feeling – wondering whether you should laugh or cry. The blog is in response to a significant question raised by his daughter.

Go visit PRAIRIE PONDERINGS and see why he picks out these videos to astound you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Republican Bounce

Watching the Polls
by Charlie Leck

Well, now it begins! We start watching the polls to see what’s happening. One really good political observer, with whom I have an occasional lunch, told me one shouldn’t even begin watching them until, at least, 10 days after the last of the two big endorsing conventions. That means we’ve got a few more days before we start paying attention.

One significant poll yesterday shows McCain taking a lead on Obama. Here in Minnesota the two are absolutely in a dead-tie. Obama earlier had a big lead. This is not unexpected. The Republicans are going to get a bounce from their convention (RNC); and the Democrats could not take advantage of the bounce factor at their own convention (DNC) because the RNC followed it so closely – and McCain shrewdly made his VP announcement on the morning following the DNC.

So, let a few more days go by before you start watching various polls. I am going to make regular reports here whenever there is a significant movement in any of the polls and I’ll send you to the appropriate website so you can analyze for yourself what that movement means.

In a blog sometime ago, I told you about one of the most astute and accurate observers (or election predictors) in the nation (though he’s actually in Sweden) – the Stromberg Model. He’s the one I’ll watch and read the closest. It’s not easy to find Stromberg’s projections, but I’ll keep digging and finding them and reporting them here for you. If you want to read how Stromberg works, go back to that earlier blog and you’ll find a variety of links.

The CBS/New York Times Opinion Poll has shown itself to be extremely accurate. You might want to watch it.

Here are some of the other excellent polls….
  • TIPP (a service to which one needs to subscribe – I’ll pick them up from news services and bring them to you)
  • Newsweek Opinion Poll (then click on ‘politics’ and off you go)
  • This particular site give you a good graphic look at what’s going on state-by-state with a very attractive map of the USA and then a summary of the totals.
Happy poll watching!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blog Junkie

There are good, bad and awful, but I love checking out the blogs!
by Charlie Leck

In absolute truth, I’m a blog junkie. I find more truth on the blogs than I do in the newspapers, which, in this day and age, are owned and controlled by massive, profit-seeking corporations. The Alternative News supplied by blogs get much closer to the truth. Here’s a little report on my morning reading of the blogs today (Friday, 12 September 2008).

David Letterman, in an opening monologue this week pretty much set to rest the question about whether Sarah Palin is ready to be President, revealing to us again that comedy often strikes deep at the heart of truth.

“I don’t think we need to worry about that because Bush has
lowered the bar so tremendously, I mean, I’m ready to be President.”
Now, in truth, that’s not funny! It’s a tragic truth.

David Zetland was a guest blogger on Freakonomics, one of my favorite blogs, writing about water and its future and the future shortages of water we can expect – in a nation that treats water so casually that “we water our sidewalk.” I urge you to read both of these blogs if you care. Part I. And, Part II.

A few days ago, I republished one of my blogs here at the request of a friend. The blog displays the incredible embassy that the U.S. is soon to move into in Iraq. The compound pretty much indicated the U.S. has very long term plans in Iraq. Now comes an Amy Goodman report about a “recently leaked draft of an Iraqui-U.S. agreement that outlines the long-term status of U.S. forces in Iraq.”

If you don’t read (or listen to) Amy Goodman regularly at Democracy Now, you’re missing one of the most important, insightful news writers in America.

A long time ago I wrote in disgust about the hundreds of millions of dollars that William McGuire made as the head of United Health Group. Need I emphasize the word health? While we wonder why health care and health insurance is so expensive in America, fat-assed executives skim nearly a billion dollars right off the top to pad their personal wealth. Now, legal settlements between McGuire and a host of government entities sound like it will cost the ex-executive nearly a billion dollars. [Here’s a story in our local paper about the settlement!]

Good! But, believe me, this is only the tip of the iceberg in the industry and it’s the American public that gets screwed!

Rachel Maddow has just launched a new show on MSNBC. That’s great. She’s wonderful and I enjoy her commentary. The problem is, just as it is in the case of Keith Olbermann, the only people who listen to them are the people who agree with them. Oh well, maybe the two of them can make us angry enough that we’ll get up off our lazy butts and join the fight to get rid of the right-wing, religious freaks who are taking control of our nation.

If you are a person of faith, but can’t stand the religious puke the right-wingers throw around – and you want something more rational and thoughtful, you really ought to spend some time every few days catching up with things at God’s Politics with Jim Wallis. You read some sensible and thoughtful commentary on the place of faith in our nation’s political struggles.

I also go to a blog called Healing Iraq regularly. I find it a pretty balanced read. They try to look at Iraq and what’s happening there in a very fair and accurate way. The state of the nation (Iraq) was a recent subject. It has been placed at the bottom of the scale in almost every category. Only Sudan is rated in more desperate condition.

“The height of the U.S. military surge in Iraq was a key factor in this year’s analysis of that country. And though Iraq’s score improved slightly, the gains that one might hope for—those that reflect fundamental, long-term changes—did not occur. The desperate predicament of nearly 4 million people driven from their homes, the abysmal state of public services, and the discord among sectarian factions have shown no real improvement. The incremental security and economic progress that has occurred are dependent on tenuous, short-term factors that could unravel at any time. Eager to cobble together a fragile peace, the U.S. military has armed dozens of new Sunni militia groups that could later turn their guns on the Iraqi government, their Shiite rivals, or the Americans many still regard as occupiers. Similarly, Iraq’s economy has improved only moderately, thanks largely to the spike in global oil prices, not Iraqi production. In short, progress in Iraq last year was negligible at best and deeply susceptible to reversal should the country suffer the kind of shock—a food shortage, a high-level assassination, an attack that unleashes ethnic hatreds—that has exposed so many states’ deep vulnerabilities in recent months.”
This is the mess that yet needs cleaning up. The cost to the U.S. is going to be staggering – even while we leave our own infrastructure and educational system without attention. Is this really the political party you want to vote for – to give them another 4 years to mess us up?

Andrew Sullivan, who blogs at The Atlantic, is another very balanced blogger. One can't accuse him of being to the left or to the right. He wrote yesterday about an Obama speech in which the Senator raised one of the issues that interests me most in these awful days – habeus corpus!

If you really have a strong theological bent, or want to, Our of Ur (by Christianity Today) might be a blog you’d like to visit and read. This thought comes from an essay posted there by Brandon O’Brien. It’s something we ought to really keep in mind.

“If we find our authenticity and identity in Christ, we’ll have to be prepared to stop judging our effectiveness by how people respond to us. We’ll no doubt be misunderstood by some. But we won’t, as some people fear, be disregarded or discredited for speaking or acting in each given situation according to the need. That doesn’t make us hypocrites. In fact, people are more likely to question your motives if you’re always affirming, always in-your-face, always cool and groovy.”
I’ll let you put your own interpretations on that and I won’t comment further.

For pure entertainment and reading pleasure I always find my way to Dick Cavett and The Talk Show. He posts about once a week and the reading is just wonderful. In his most recent blog he muses about how he would like time to ask Sarah Palin a question or two -- one being:

"I’d love to have the chance to ask her how being able to see Russia from parts of her state apparently qualifies her to deal with that vastly complex country more effectively than those scholars and diplomats who find themselves less proximate to its shores."
Enough! I hope you enjoyed this little tour around the blogs!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Tip of the Hat to Her and an Apology!

She was a fine ball player and the best all-around athlete I have ever seen!
by Charlie Leck

As a kid in the 1950s, I was a good baseball player – maybe even a little better than good. I hit over 600 in my last year of Little League, always over 400 in Babe Ruth League and 421 in a tough conference in my last year of high school; however, this blog is not about me, but about her. She was better than I and would have been a wonderful teammate, but we all resisted because she was, after all, a girl.

When it was mentioned that she might join our little league team, there was a mass insurrection. All kinds of players, including me, threatened to quit. What little shits we were!

Had our manager had any guts he would have said, “Take a walk!” However, this was in 1952 and no kids or men had any interest in feminine rights. She was kept out and not allowed to play because she was a girl and our team went on to a nearly unbeaten year. Near the end of the season, we lost one game to a team we had beaten by over 30 runs in our first game of the year. Then in the playdowns, to go to the Little League World Series, we lost to a big city team and got sent home. Had she been on our team, it is possible we would have gone all the way.

She was the best ball player I’ve ever seen – better than Toby Barkman and better than Ronnie Post. Better even than Johnny Sullivan. She could run faster than I. She could dig a ball out of the dirt, and handle it neatly, better than Toby could. Her swing was sweeter than Ronny’s and her bat was faster than Johnny’s. Nothing intimidated her – not a ball up around her chin or a barrel-chested runner coming head-on at her.

I was about 30 when I began to think about the unfairness of what we did to her – what I did to her. I had the highest batting average on that little league team and I led it in homeruns too. I didn’t want to give up that status to a girl. My god, how could I have been such a stupid little kid?

Now I know it would have been fun. She loved playing more than any of us. She had the widest, prettiest smile I’d ever seen. She laughed constantly. She could clap and holler just like a guy. In short, she would have been a great teammate.

Apologizing now is kind of silly; yet, that’s what I need to do. Mary Metzger, I’m sorry. I’m sorry we didn’t stick a bat in your hands and let you lead us to glory. Nothing will make up for what we did. I understand that, but I still offer this weak and far too late apology for what we did.

You were the best athlete I ever saw. You got robbed!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do You Think the War in Iraq is God’s War?

My goodness… my God… we can’t let this team get elected, so do something to stop it! by Charlie Leck

You’ve heard of the patients running the insane asylum haven’t you? Well, get ready for it in reality.
“In June, when Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addressed the graduating class of commission students at her one-time church, Wasilla Assembly of God, she painted the current war in Iraq as a messianic affair in which the United States could act out the will of the Lord. ‘Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God,’ said Palin. In a statement to the New York Sun yesterday, McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb endorsed Palin’s comments 100%" [from an AlterNet Story of 10 September 2008]
Here are the comments by Michael Goldfarb about the original Palin statement…

"This is an incredibly humble statement, a statement that this campaign stands by 100%, and a sentiment that any religious American will share -- the hope that our country’s actions are indeed righteous,…"
I get very nervous about people who go running around, claiming they know what God’s plan or will for the world is. I get very nervous about people claiming the God in whom I believe is a promoter of war and violence, death and destruction, murder and mayhem or hatred and bigotry. This war is all those things! God bless the poor troops who are over there fighting for their lives in a war that did not need to happen. It did not! It is blind foolishness to think otherwise. Trillions of dollars have been poured down that rat hole! Trillions!

This is an election that demands you do not sit on the sideline. We may lose, but let’s not lose without a fight. Get in there and mix it up. Talk to your neighbors. Convince them! Correct them when they develop misperceptions. Don’t allow this lying crap on the Internet to go unanswered. Condemn hateful email by sending your remarks on to everyone who received it.

Give money – everything you legally may and can reasonably afford to the Obama campaign.

Have you been listening to the craziness of this Sarah Palin? Do you realize there is better than a 50 percent chance she will become your President if John McCain is elected?

Saying the war in Iraq is God’s war is reason enough to defeat McCain/Palin. They both think it is. They both must be crazy!

Don’t sit back or you’ll have the crazies leading the country!

Here’s something I wrote to a friend quite a long time ago…
“Though I didn’t put my theological education to a sustained, long term practical use, it has still served me well and given me a way of thinking about events that is enormously helpful. I remember one of my better professors, an Old Testament scholar, warning me (actually us) about prescribing to God and His will events that take place around us and around the globe. ‘We are not capable of reading accurately the intention of God in the matters of human beings. We should do so rarely and only then with great, great caution.’ Of course, he was and is correct. The American religious fundamentalists believe they have some special insight into the will of God. They are not cautious at all about proclaiming so. It is, in a fustian manner, being disloyal to their Ultimate Source of Being.”
The religious right in America somehow thinks God is the special preserve of them alone. They are confounded when confronted with the reality that this is the God of humanity in every portion of the globe. When they claim that the War in Iraq is the “will of God,” the very devout and religious person in Sweden, Germany, South Korea, Columbia, and all the corners of the world, thinks that is an absolutely obtuse assertion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Significant Minnesota Business Leaders Support Obama

Will more business leaders come out for Obama?
by Charlie Leck

This week, four well-know community business leaders came out with endorsements of Barack Obama’s efforts to become President. I think there are others who will soon follow. They are aware that Obama will raise taxes on businesses, but they also know Obama will stimulate the economy, get people working again, reduce the national debt and generally benefit business.

Robert Pohlad, Chairman and CEO of PepiAmericas, Inc. and President of Pohlad Cos.
Ed Phillips, Chairman and CEO of Phillips Beverage Company
Robert Ryan, retired vice president and CFO of Medtronic
Lois Quam, Managing Director of Alternative Investments at Piper Jaffray
The endorsements were announced at a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol on 9 September 2008. Read the full story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Cheered and Cheered for these Republicans

These three guys are Republicans the way they were meant to be!
by Charlie Leck

I’ve written here often about the old, grand and glorious days of the Grand Old Party – the Republican Party when it was honorable and devoted to fair and clean campaigning, and to debating on the issues themselves and not on matters of character.

Well, yesterday, while driving along in my car, I listened to three of the finest Republicans that Minnesota has ever known, speaking about the state of politics today and how they would attack the current, desperate problems of our nation.

I had to pull the car over and completely stop, because I found myself clapping and cheering. Their speeches were incredible. Oh what I’d give to have Republicans like these guys again. Would that ever make politics and campaigns fun again? If guys like this beat you, you didn’t get maudlin and down-beat about it. You knew they were worthy and they would serve with fairness and distinction.

If you want to hear fine Republicans – who call themselves Progressive Republicans, talk about politics the way it ought to work, please go to the Minnesota Public Radio web site and listen to their brilliant speeches. You won’t be sorry.

Come on back, y’all hear?

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Last Christmas

It was a perfect Christmas Eve day!
by Charlie Leck

It was the kind of wintry Minnesota morning my sister liked. She figured if you were going to leave the warmth of Texas in December, to come to l’etoile du Nord, you should experience it as legend tells it. The snow fell heavily outside and we sat at the counter in the kitchen looking out at how it piled up in the yard. The house was very quiet, matching the silence of the falling snow. We could hear the fireplace in the dining room crackling and the warmth from it seeped out to us. My coffee was too strong for her, so I offered to dilute it with some hot water. She consented.

Sixteen years before this day, on a Halloween afternoon, we had stood in this same kitchen, unpacking the cartons that had been brought in from the moving van, and watched the snow fall so heavily. Over thirty inches piled up before it stopped. We were stranded. No one could come in and no one could go out. My wife was away, in New York. It was just my sister, the children and I. She was intensely happy. She was in charge of our safety! In command! What stories she would tell her friends when she returned to Texas.

Now, in the last year of her life, we knew it would be a white Christmas. It was only a day away and this promised to be a heavy snow that would pile up somewhat extravagantly. She smiled out at the cleanness and purity of it all. It was as if God were blessing her with this stunning gift. She was pleased even though a sad thought revealed itself in her eyes. She knew this would be her last Christmas.

Coming to Minnesota had been a desperate act for her. What could she do? Her days were running out and she still had things about which she needed to worry! There were so many loving deeds yet to be performed. She brought with her a grandchild about whom she was so concerned. The youngster was tangled in confusion and was struggling intensely with life’s seeming meaninglessness. My sister knew she didn’t have the time to rescue the kid. She was trying to pass the child off to me; however, I didn’t know how to love the way she did. I didn’t have the gift that Jesus had given her. I wouldn’t take the bait.

“Have I been so wrong?”

Her question was asked in a soft, quiet way; perhaps it was in a pleading manner. I took a long sip from my big coffee mug.

We had avoided the question for so many years, but she remembered the hours long, long ago when we would debate her total fidelity to her Roman Church. Childishly, I would argue with her about it. I read a number of anti-catholic diatribes and I memorized checklists about the errors and foibles of her faith.

“Incense is an abomination to me, sayeth the Lord!” I quoted the prophet.

I read the Bible devoutly as a youngster. Some old, faithful women in my church (Sunday school teachers), told me I must. I read it to find signals that the Catholics were all wrong, that they didn’t get it.

On that snowy morning I wished that she wouldn’t remember my foolishness, but the question hung there in the silence and beauty of that winter day.

“No,” I said very softly, “you weren’t wrong and neither is your church. The only thing they mess up on is this exclusivity stuff. Others will be there with you. Mother and Father! Buddhists and Jews will be there, too. Muslims! And, Frank and John and I will come along shortly. That’s the only thing they mess up on. All the rest is silliness. Faithfulness is all that counts. That we love the way he asked us to. That’s all that matters. You did it all so well. You were a faithful servant. No one was better at caring for those in need.”

She looked out into the brilliant, bright, snowy day. She nodded her head almost imperceptibly, a smile on her lips and a huge tear crawling down her cheek.

“I see angels,” she whispered.

“Hundreds of them,” I replied. “They are surrounding us with love.”

Now, as I write this on a summer night, there are billions of stars twinkling across the heavenly sky. I think of her almost every day and thank God for giving her to me. From out there among the stars she still watches over me and all those she loved so much.

One of my favorite pictures of my sister, Jean,
along with our son-in-law, Warner Bruntjen.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Will America Vote for Hatred or Hope?

The Republican Party is damaged and now controlled by bullies and hate-mongers!
by Charlie Leck

The Republican National Convention was pure Karl Rove, pure nasty and completely divisive. It tells us a great deal about the once proud Republican Party. It’s been taken over by hate mongers who believe that one should do what it takes to win – whatever it takes.

Jay Rosen, in the Huffington Post, calls the Republican Party “a damaged brand.” The longer it remains damaged, the easier for the mavericks and bullies to control it. It’s amazing how the jerks who control the Grand Old Party can bring Christian conservatives and the spirit of hatred together! Amazing!

As the NY Times, in an editorial, said of the convention, “Mr. McCain allowed the practitioners of the politics of fear and division to run the show.” The Times got it right – probably better than they know.

John McCain is not in charge of this campaign. As a matter of fact, it is out of his control. The big-nasties in the Republican Party believe McCain is not up to the task of organizing and directing a national campaign. They don’t believe he is even up to the task of controlling those who do organize and direct it.

If John McCain is incapable of controlling those who direct his campaign, how can he run a nation as complex as the USA? The simple answer is that he cannot. If McCain is elected President, the job will be done by the powerful, repugnant people who will surround him.

The recent convention was a massive attack on Barack Obama’s patriotism – McCain called it an attitude of “me first and country second!” Mr. McCain should apologize, but he won’t. I think this will be the basic theme of his campaign and that’s why they chose the running mate they did. She’s capable of grasping such a simple concept and she’s mean enough to repeat the mantra over and over again.

The next two months will be a time of vicious and unprecedented attacks by the Republican Party on all the devils they have created in the minds of the America people.

Here is what I hope Americans will vote against! I hope they vote against meanness, divisiveness, negativism, and hatred. I hope they will vote against bullies.

Americans should vote in a spirit of hopefulness. Americans should believe we can be a great nation again.

I remember a day in America when Democrats and Republicans did not fear losing an election. They knew, win or lose, America was going to be governed well and that it would remain a beacon of hope and pride for all the nations of the world. How sad that that day is past and appears irretrievable. How sad!

Sally and George Pillsbury (yes, of the famous doughboy family) are colossal Republicans – as deep-seeded as they can be. They are also great and important Minnesotans who have given massively to the good of this state they love so much. Mrs. Pillsbury speaks of her party being taken over by conservatives and she’s not happy about it. Yet, she still believes a comeback is possible because the people who have left the Party can be lured back if the GOP can return to its roots – “small government, personal freedom and individual responsibility.” And, those great old Republicans believed that government, though small, should be exceedingly effective at what it does. Mrs. Pillsbury hoped the revival would take place right here in Minnesota, at the Republican National Convention. I don’t think she foresaw an ultra conservative like Sarah Palin being put on the ticket. Nor did she foresee John McCain slip/sliding toward the very far right.

I’m afraid the dream that George and Sally Pillsbury have for a reform of their party has been put on hold. If the McCain-Palin ticket wins this fall, I don’t think the couple will see the return of the GOP to its former place of dignity in their lifetimes.

There’s not going to be a return to small government under McCain/Palin. They promise it, but it won’t happen. Just as George W. Bush promised it and then ran up a massive debt that will take generations to pay off. Just as Bush grew government to its largest size in history, so will McCain continue that trend in his attempt to rebuild America’s military might. And, George and Sally Pillsbury won’t see a return to personal freedom either. Under McCain there won’t be the right to choose for women; and neither will gays gain the freedoms for which they dream. And don’t hold your breath for an increase in individual responsibility either. But, here’s what you can look forward to – more and rapidly growing deficits.

Mrs. Pillsbury, bring you family on over to the party of the people. We’ve got much more in common with you than does John McCain and Sarah Palin. I promise! By just speaking up and asking Republicans to vote sensibly, you could put Minnesota on the Obama victory list.

I have two brothers who are loyal Republicans. They’re loyal because they remember the Party of our father – the Grand Old Party of Ike, Tom Dewey and Barry Goldwater – even the Party of Dick Nixon and Ronald Reagan. They can’t admit to themselves that that Party is gone and the Grand Old Party is really out of existence. They are not hateful and mean guys, but they choose to continue their loyalty to a Party that is controlled by such people.

In recent days I’ve stumbled upon an interesting blog that I want to keep checking out for a while, to see where it goes. It’s called ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE and it’s written by Charlie Quimby a Minnesota guy who spends a great deal of time in Colorado as well. The purpose of the blog is to investigate “how people can disagree and still build a decent world?” I suggest you spend a week or two looking at the blog with me and we’ll give it a review sometime later this month. Let me hear your reactions to it after you’ve read a few postings.

Come on back, you hear?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Do You Know What We Don't Know about Iraq?

The Bush administration’s “Iraq Plan” is not public knowledge! Read about “Enduring Camps!”
by Charlie Leck

This is a reprint of a blog posted here on 24 April 2008. One of my readers, in whom I place a great deal of trust, strongly urged me to repost it at this particular time in the campaign. The blog might have some effect if you will email this site to friends, asking them to read it, and ask them to email their friends about this craziness. I'll leave this blog posted for two days, so folks can easily find it.

Many have been critical of the Bush administration for not having created an exit strategy for the Iraq War. Turns out we were wrong to criticize. The Bush administration had and has no intention to leave Iraq.

What fools we are!

Read the following from AlterNet and you’ll see just why John McCain could say so lightly that we may be in Iraq for 100 years. That’s the plan, you dummy!I’m left aghast by this information and wonder how I missed it and didn’t catch any of the hints.

All of this will explain why it is so vital to the conservatives that they win the next election. They will pull out all the stops to do so – I mean all the stops! They have a 100 year plan to protect.

The following is only a little bit of an outstanding article by Tom Engelhardt. He writes a blog regularly at Tomdispatch.com. Try your best to read the entire article.

“No, there was never an exit strategy from Iraq because the Bush administration never intended to leave -- and still doesn't: Critics of the war have regularly gone after the Bush administration for its lack of planning, including its lack of an ‘exit strategy.’ In this, they miss the point. The Bush administration arrived in Iraq with four mega-bases on the drawing boards. These were meant to undergird a future American garrisoning of that country and were to house at least 30,000 American troops, as well as U.S. air power, for the indefinite future. The term used for such places wasn't ‘permanent base,’ but the more charming and euphemistic ‘enduring camp.’ (In fact, as we learned recently, the Bush administration refuses to define any American base on foreign soil anywhere on the planet, including ones in Japan for over 60 years, as permanent.) Those four monster bases in Iraq (and many others) were soon being built at the cost of multibillions and are, even today, being significantly upgraded. In October 2007, for instance, National Public Radio's defense correspondent Guy Raz visited Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, which houses about 40,000 American troops, contractors, and Defense Department civilian employees, and described it as ‘one giant construction project, with new roads, sidewalks, and structures going up across this 16-square-mile fortress in the center of Iraq, all with an eye toward the next few decades.’

“These mega-bases, like ‘Camp Cupcake’ (al-Asad Air Base), nicknamed for its amenities, are small town-sized with massive facilities, including PXs, fast-food outlets, and the latest in communications. They have largely been ignored by the American media and so have played no part in the debate about Iraq in this country, but they are the most striking on-the-ground evidence of the plans of an administration that simply never expected to leave. To this day, despite the endless talk about drawdowns and withdrawals, that hasn't changed. In fact, the latest news about secret negotiations for a future Status of Forces Agreement on the American presence in that country indicates that U.S. officials are calling for ‘an open-ended military presence’ and ‘no limits on numbers of U.S. forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term U.S. security agreements with other countries.’"
And read to about the new embassy we are building in Baghdad. Holy, friggin’ fiddlesticks! Can you believe this?

“No, our new embassy in Baghdad is not an ‘embassy’: When, for more than three-quarters of a billion dollars, you construct a complex -- regularly described as ‘Vatican-sized’ -- of at least 20 ‘blast-resistant’ buildings on 104 acres of prime Baghdadi real estate, with ‘fortified working space’ and a staff of at least 1,000 (plus several thousand guards, cooks, and general factotums), when you deeply embunker it, equip it with its own electricity and water systems, its own anti-missile defense system, its own PX, and its own indoor and outdoor basketball courts, volleyball court, and indoor Olympic-size swimming pool, among other things, you haven't built an 'embassy’ at all. What you've constructed in the heart of the heart of another country is more than a citadel, even if it falls short of a city-state. It is, at a minimum, a monument to Bush administration dreams of domination in Iraq and in what its
adherents once liked to call ‘the Greater Middle East.’“Just about ready to open, after the normal construction mishaps in Iraq, it will constitute the living definition of diplomatic overkill. It will, according to a Senate estimate, now cost Americans $1.2
a year just to be "represented" in Iraq. The ‘embassy’ is, in fact, the largest headquarters on the planet for the running of an occupation. Functionally, it is also another well-fortified enduring camp with the amenities of home. Tell that to the Shiite militiamen now mortaring the Green Zone as if it were ... enemy-occupied territory.”
Go view the MSNBC video on this compound. It will astound you. The reporter concludes the piece by saying the compound “makes it look like the U.S. will be occupying Iraq forever.” That’s the plan!There are 27 buildings built on 104 acres and would house up to 600 people. It has a huge swimming pool, gyms, lockerrooms and elegant dining facilities and conference rooms. It has so far cost over 700 million dollars. Now, the administration, before even moving in, wants it enlarged so that it can house the Iraq Commanding U.S. General and his troops – up to 2,000 more. Before this change it was estimated it will cost 2 billion dollars a year to operate the facility.

Are we crazy, or what? If you don’t think the neo-cons are out of control, your brain has gone fluffy.

Please, send this link to the AlterNet article on to your friends. This is insanity!