Friday, October 31, 2008

The Polls with 4 Days to Go!

North Dakota Rocks!
by Charlie Leck

This is my penultimate polling report. The final one will come on Monday morning.

Obama’s lead has steadily increased in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. It looks more and more like each of those states will go blue. If so, it is a huge nail in the coffin of John McCain’s campaign.

Each of these three states were counted on in the McCain victory strategy.

North Carolina
So was North Carolina, where Obama’s cut of the pie has slowly increased over the last few weeks. It is now a dead-even (pick ‘em) tie down there.

Remember, Ohio is a bell-weather state for Republicans. They can’t win without it. Obama has inched out in front by the tiniest bit – just outside the margin of error territory. The Republicans will do anything, including cheat, to win Ohio.

This is another state where Obama has just inched far enough ahead that he is outside the statistical region known as the margin of error.

The experts say that Virginia is only leaning toward Obama; yet McCain has steadily lost ground here and Obama’s lead is now over 7 points. In the next couple of days, if the trends continue, Virginia will be colored blue.

This has become the heart of the McCain strategy, as I’ve explained in a couple of recent blogs. McCain is pouring all he has into this state and he has cut deeply into Obama’s lead – perhaps cutting it in half. Nevertheless, every single pollster has Obama ahead by leads of anywhere from 4 to 7 points. McCain’s ground forces will continue to work Pennsylvania hard right up to Election Day morning. All of McCain’s hopes are now placed in the Quaker State. Even if McCain were to pull out a surprising win there, he still also needs to take Florida AND Ohio AND Virginia AND Missouri OR Indiana.

It’s a tall order for McCain but not entirely impossible.
The last four days of this campaign will be very exciting. Hold on to your hats! McCain’s forces need to come up with something very sleazy (and likely untrue) about Obama over the weekend and I’m betting they will because this is the Party of the biggest sleaze-ball in America, Karl Rove.

North Dakota
This one rocks me even though there are only 3 electoral votes at stake. A month ago Obama was behind by 14 points. Today (on this Friday morning), the state is in a statistical dead-even-tie. A remarkable story by Robert Eshelmann (republished in AlterNet from points out that even evangelicals and rural folks are abandoning McCain and the Republican Party in very significant numbers. This might explain what is happening in North Dakota and why Georgia, which is now being called a toss-up state, is moving toward a tight race (though McCain should still win in that southern state). The Atlanta suburbs are still running strongly in favor of McCain even though several polling organizations see suburban women in Georgia moving away from the Republicans.

I’ve got both hands pinching down the brim of my fedora.

Voter Fraud

The Truth About Acorn
by Charlie Leck
One of my regular readers voiced some real concern not too long ago about the strong possibility that Republican thugs would steal this election as they stole the 2000 election in Florida and the 2004 election in Ohio. Believe me, I answered him, there’s not many Democrats who don’t worry about the same thing.

The Republicans have put up a smoke screen recently in expressing their concern about fraudulent voter registration – especially about an organization called ACORN and its involvement in such illegal registration. Want the truth about ACORN? Go to this site: Brave New Films and its explanation of the truth about ACORN. It’s a video you’ll be able to send on to your friends who worry about what ACORN is doing.

As David Morris explains in his column, cited above, voter registration fraud is not really a problem in the United States. It occurs approximately at a rate of 0.000004 percent.
On the other hand, a purposeful manipulation of the votes of entire precincts by “fixing” the voting machines could accounts for thousands of fraudulent votes. The illegal purging of legally registered voters who are thereby prevented from voting could deprive a candidate of hundreds of thousands of votes.

Such purging of names from voter registration lists is going on right now across America and, funny, it seems to be happening in those areas that are most likely to vote for Democrats.
“…evidence of what I will somewhat imprecisely call election fraud – voter suppression by election officials and state governments – is widespread and validated. ‘Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law,” the New York Times recently concluded after its own investigation. The Times’ numbers don’t include efforts by state officials and private parties to discourage, intimidate or challenge eligible voters.”

This is the kind of election fraud for which you should keep your eyes and ears open. This is the kind of fraud going on now in several important swing states and the Obama campaign has lawyers all over these cases.

For those of you who insist on saying that Republicans don’t cheat, these cases make it quite clear that they try to in ways that make it look legal.

Don’t forget, no voter’s name may be stricken from voter registration list within a 90 day period before an election. That’s the law.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I’ve Told You a Million Times

If I was allowed to read only one blog a week,
I’d whittle the list down to two and then alternate between Stan Fish and Dick Cavett
by Charlie Leck

“I’ve told you a million times…” Oh, how my mother would say those words to me when I was a little boy. I’ll bet she said them a million times.

Well now, I’ve told you a million times (Yes, you! You, my readers!) that you’ve got to read Stan Fish. He blogs regularly (about once a week) in the NY Times. Blogging is really not a fair word for it, but it’s the one he chooses to use. Fish is a word-smith and a genius at communications techniques. He also happens to be very acquainted with, and bright about, the poetry of John Milton.

This week’s blog is just too, too wonderful – especially if you want to understand the effectiveness of Barack Obama’s campaign and how Obama’s technique frustrates the heck out of John McCain and his campaign organization.

“What he (or his campaign) doesn’t do is bring up the Keating Five, or make veiled references to McCain’s treatment of his first wife, or make fun of Sarah Palin (she doesn’t need any help), or disparage his opponent’s experience, or hint at the disabilities of age. He just stands there looking languid (George Will called him the Fred Astaire of politics), always smiling and never raising his voice.

“Meanwhile, McCain’s surrogates get red in the face on TV when they try to explain away the latest jaw-dropping thing Sarah Palin has said, or proclaim that anything can happen in seven days, or respond to ever more discouraging poll numbers by saying (how’s this for a weak cliché) that the only poll that counts is the poll on election day. (I know things are bad when my wife, a staunch Democrat, feels sorry for them.)

“What’s going on here? I find an answer in a most unlikely place, John Milton’s “Paradise Regained,” a four-book poem in which….”
Sorry! I can give away the masterful “in which,” so it’s something you’ll have to go and read yourself in Fish’s masterful blog of 26 October 2008.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The McCain Pennsylvania Strategy

For a political junkie this is all amazing stuff to watch!
by Charlie Leck

And some recommended reading:
The Hate Monger of Minnesota by Max Blumenthal in the Daily Beast

Jacksonville Journal story on blacks’ fear their votes won’t count in Florida

NY Times on how far right the appeals courts has been bushed under Bush

and Margaret and Helen’s blog from yesterday:
“What was I thinking when I called Sarah Palin a bitch?”

I am not the only one who has questioned McCain’s expenditure of time and money in Pennsylvania in the last two weeks. To all of us it seemed wiser for him to get out of the Quaker State, where he seems to have lost, and get to work in Ohio and Florida where the separation is very, very close.

The McCain strategy seems to be: Let Ohio and Florida take care of themselves; or, at least, let’s leave them in the hands of our local organizations. We could possibly win there without a lot of time expenditure. If that happens and we can take Pennsylvania, we’ll shock the nation.

So, what’s happening? Clearly McCain has gained two or three points in Penn. He has a week to go. If he could pick up 3 more points he may move this state into the “margin of error” category and anything could happen.

But, while he does this, what’s happening in Ohio and Florida, where McCain must absolutely win?

FOX News/Rasmussen Obama 4 points up
LA Times/Bloomberg Obama 9 points up
Rueters/Zogby Obama 5 points up

In one week’s time, FOX News/Rasmussen shows a 5 point swing toward Obama that puts Obama up by 5 points right now. For McCain that is an “ouchy” and makes the Pennsylvania strategy (that I am guessing at) seem foolish.
LA Times/Bloomberg Obama by 7 points
Reuters/Zogby Tie

I continue to believe that McCain’s in-house polling numbers are showing them something hopeful. It could be the only reason for them to keep up this apparently insane effort in Pennsylvania.

This is one I really want to watch on Election Day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Helen and Margaret

Some blogs are just damned worth-while reading! Regularly!
by Charlie Leck

One of my really good friends introduced me to the blog of Margaret and Helen (best friends for 60 years and counting). I don’t think it polite to tell a lady’s age, but figure it this way: Helen Philpot and Margaret Schmectman met in college just about 60 years ago. Add 20 years to that and you’re getting close but not quite there.

Now if all of this is true – you know, it could be a scam – it's just about the cleverest way for a couple of old gals to fiddle their time away. Helen lives in Texas. Margaret lives in Maine. They keep in touch with their blogging and keep their minds popping. On top of it all they are savagers. Think my blogs are rants and raves? They're mild compared to these two girls.

Go ahead, go meet the old peaceniks and fall in love with them as I did. If I find out their smack is all fictional and they’re really a couple of young marketers selling t-shirts and trinkets in the girls' on-line store (boy, I don’t have an on-line store yet), I’ll be thoroughly heart-broken. It wouldn't be anything new, however, because dames have fooled me lots in my life and taken significant advantage of me.

Their most recent blog, ELISABETH IS A MORON AND THEN I HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO SAY, is a wonderful example of what they do. In this blog they slam Elisabeth Hasselbeck, one of the co-host of the TV show, The View. They start off their rant with these pull-no-punches words…

“So Elisabeth Hasselbeck is not my favorite person. I would call her a bitch but that word is too good for her. She is such a moron. Pretty much everybody with more than a pre-school education realizes that the war in Iraq was a mistake. I mean if you ask Hasselbeck’s daughter what she thinks of the war in Iraq she probably would say something along the lines of a mistake by the Bush administration of monumental proportions which my generation will be paying for years from now. But she is only three so “monumental proportions” might be a mouthful. Now ask her mother that same question and you get some rant about how the terrorists are going to get us if we don’t get them first. I guess you’ve got to keep those pro-war fans happy so The View keeps its ratings up even if a few soldiers are dying needlessly.”
Now, it's like these lovely girls are whispering sweet nothings in my ear and getting me all lathered up. I’ve added them to my list of wonderful people I’ve just got to meet. Now just don’t turn out to be a couple of nasty girls from Smith College playing a prank on all of us.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama Fever among the Young!

I think the colleges and universities in the battleground states hold the key to this election!
by Charlie Leck

Recently, in St. Louis, a crowd of about 75,000 people (official police estimates) came out to listen to Barack Obama. Yesterday, in Fort Collins, Colorado, the home of Colorado State University, the estimates were that 45,000 turned-out to see Obama. In Denver’s downtown Civic Park, the police estimates ranged from 75,000 to 100,000 people. [see story in the Rocky Mountain News] A few weeks ago, Obama also drew crowds like these in Portland, Oregon (80,000 by police estimates).

I’ve told a friend that the election is Obama’s if he carries Colorado. If he adds Nevada and New Mexico to that, it will be a landslide. The most recent poll by the Rocky Mountain News and the local CBS affiliate in Denver (October 21-23) has Obama up by 12 points.

I don’t care how good your advance-team is, drawing crowds like this to a political rally and speech is virtually unheard of. Among young people there is unbelievable energy to elect Obama and photographs and videos of these crowds show them to be made up mostly of young supporters.
What must it be like to speak to such large crowds? (That’s a blog I’m trying to craft for tomorrow.)
The media was raving about the vast size of Sarah Palin’s crowds when she went out on the stump. They sometimes exceeded 10,000 people. For Obama that’s a disappointing turnout.

I have said for months that this (these young people) is largely unpolled support. Vast numbers of these youthful supporters don’t have land-line connections and they don’t have listings in phone books. Sometimes they’re counted by those polling organizations that work the streets and survey people on the side-walk. Those kinds of polls are vastly inferior, however, and politicians don’t count on them.

Obama’s campaign organization has targeted the college and universities in battleground states (Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Missouri, Virginia). Registrations among this age group have been nothing short of sky-rocketing and breath-taking.

In Ohio, the latest poll numbers come from Rueters/Zogby and show Obama with a 5 point lead. Big Ten Battleground polls have Obama with a 10+ point lead. That’s an interesting difference and I think it comes about because the Big Ten polls are much more connected to the major universities in the Midwest.

Rueters’ very recent numbers in Virgina give Obama a 7 point lead. In Missouri, all the polls show it to be a squeaker. Reuters has Obama up by 2 points and that’s within the margin of error so you have to call it a tie. There are several major colleges and universities in Missouri, however, and they may provide the votes that tip the scale. In Florida, Reuters’ polls through yesterday call it a tie. How many huge universities are there in Florida?

McCain’s organization claims to be closing the gap. There is some evidence of that in national polls; however, polls in key states show Obama to be holding steady or gaining in support. In places like Pennsylvania and Virginia, Obama’s lead has increased. Obama keeps pushing further in front in Colorado and Nevada. I’ve tabbed Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada as indicator states. As they go, so goes the election. The numbers, indicating very close races, haven’t changed in Missouri, Ohio or Florida.

Remember, 270 electoral votes [ev] are needed for election. Obama has 255 dead-solid votes from states he won’t lose unless there is some kind of vicious scandal in the next week. There are another 5 states leaning toward Obama. If he gets all of them he’ll have 306 electoral votes.

McCain has a difficult hill to climb. He showed come-back power in the primaries. He’ll need a tremendous kick-finish this time.

Let’s watch.

Obama needs to get 15 ev out of these 5 states that are leaning toward him:
New Hampshire (4)
Ohio (20)
Virginia (13)
Colorado (9)
New Mexico (5)

Or, he can get those 15 ev out of these states that are undecided (tied):
Florida (27)
Indiana (11)
Missouri (11)
Nevada (5)
North Carolina (15)

So, there are 10 states listed immediately above. In some cases, one state can give Obama the win – or he can win with any combination that adds up to 15 ev.

Just for the record, Montana and North Dakota are also listed as undecided, but they’ll go for McCain.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Cast this Vote for My Grandchildren

This election is not about me; it's about my grandchildren!
by Charlie Leck
I certainly hope this is not my last presidential election, but, as Elias Cohen says below, at our age one never knows. One thing I’m sure of is that this election is far more important to and for my grandchildren than it is for me. So, I’ll fill out my ballot with them in mind. I want to give them a better, healthier and more stable world.

Elias Cohen, an attorney, is a former Pennsylvania Commissioner on Aging and Commissioner of Family Services. He served under four Governors of Pennsylvania. He lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. The following brilliant statement by him is published here with his permission.
My last Election? My Grandchildren's First
Elias S. Cohen

In November two of my four grandchildren will vote for President of the U.S. and members of Congress for the first time. And I and some of my friends and relatives may cast our votes for the last time. As Dr. Samuel Johnson said, "Depend on it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

Voting in what I think may well be my last election certainly concentrates my mind. It feels like making out a will---what is the bounty I leave to my grandchildren? For me, my vote will shape my legacy, the kind of country I want to leave to my grandchildren.

I want to leave them a country that is not governed by ideologues and theologically based ideas, but rather by those who believe in civil rights, self-determination, respect for the widest range of belief systems, ethical principles, and evolving Constitutional law in this nation of immigrants and native born, drawn from the races and ethnic groups from around the world.

I want my vote to re-establish credible and even inspiring leadership from the Office of the President as a hallmark of the most powerful position in the world. I want my grandchildren to look to the President with pride in his commitment to science and knowledge, ethical precepts, and the spirit of the law that has served us so well in the past.

I want my grandchildren to live in a country whose national treasure and national conscience is devoted to preserving our countryside, our environment, and our rich variety of communities, services, and utilities. I want them to live in a country that does not squander our natural and economic resources and our unique American spirit on destructive wars, present and future.

I want to leave my grandchildren a country whose government is at its best when it strikes poverty, disease, homelessness, unemployment and despair rater than a government that believes it should get out of the way of rampant and wanton economic exploitation of our markets, our environment, and the consuming public---an irrational belief in the magical hand of a free and unfettered market.

And I want my grandchildren, when they travel the world to know that they are representatives of a country viewed as a champion of human rights, equality, and opportunity rather than a country whose government's blunders devastate countries, killing tens of thousands of civilians and causing the emigration of thousands from their homes.

I want them to inherit a country whose leaders eschew "wars of choice" based upon unfounded speculations and blind strategies---a leader who will spare them from other wars in which they and their children will be called upon to fight and pay for.

Let them live in a country where they can afford to send their children to a post-high school education demanded by a technologically advanced society.

Let them live in a country in which they can achieve a decent income, acquire sufficient resources capable of protecting them from unanticipated economic failure or erosion of monetary value, and protection from the economic assault of disease, disability, or chronic ailments.
I want to leave them a country that will assure them a country better protected from assaults on civil liberties than the one I will die in.

Next year more than five and half million of my age peers---those 75 and over will die. And over the following three years most of the rest of them will leave the voter registration rolls. For us, for them, this is the last opportunity to shape the legacy we would leave our grandchildren.

This may well be my last vote for a President and Vice President of this remarkable country. In casting it, I will have my children and their children in the forefront of my thought and prayers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Muddiest Mudslingers in History

This is, perhaps, the dirtiest election in American history!
by Charlie Leck

Let me sling a little mud before I get to the blog about how dirty this campaign has been.

Are you aware of this statement that John McCain made on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1993? He was speaking in favor of a bill to restrict the use of campaign funds for strictly personal uses:

MCCAIN: Madam President, the amendment before the Senate is a very simple one. It restricts the use of campaign funds for inherently personal
purposes. The amendment would restrict individuals from using campaign funds for such things as home mortgage payments, clothing purchases … and vacations or other trips that are noncampaign in nature. […] The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly.

Also, let me inform you that the NY Times has endorsed Barack Obama. It is a rather ringing endorsement without reservations [read it]. I think the time completely nailed the most important factor when it said:

Hyperbole is the currency of presidential campaigns, but this year the nation’s future truly hangs in the balance.

The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.

Finally, just before I get to the mudslinging, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson (Republican) has also endorsed Barack Obama [read it]:

Sen. Barack Obama arrived on the political scene as a wind of freshness, unity and idealism. He saw America as it could be if we reached across all divides. This long, grueling campaign has revealed a remarkably disciplined and focused leader who has the potential to become a truly great president.

President John F. Kennedy spoke of the opportunity of America to pass the torch of leadership to a new generation. This is entirely appropriate for today’s history, in that we need the benefit of a longer-term vision on the compelling issues of our time ranging from global warming to exercising financial discipline.

Arne Carlson served as Minnesota’s Governor from 1991-1999.
Now, on to mudslinging!
No candidate in the history of American politics has had to endure the slinging of mud and the outright lies about his character that Barack Obama has had to undergo in this campaign.

Watch this video and listen to Lee Rogers, on KSFO, claim on radio that Obama has said that he will stand with the Muslims in any confrontation. Part of what Rogers says is:

"[Obama]…admits in one of his own books" [that] "…in case of a confrontation
between the Western world and the Islamic world, he will stand with the Muslims."
In fact, the words “stand with Muslims” do not appear anywhere – not anywhere – in Obama’s book. Here’s what Obama really said in his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”

“In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
There has been so much of this kind of innuendo and outright lying on conservative radio that it sickens the heart and spirit of democracy, where decisions are supposed to be made on the basis of a fair exchange of truthful discussion.

These constant mistruths do damage to the Obama campaign. Make no mistake about that. People listen to these broadcast idiots and they buy into this stuff. I see it in my own family. It is a terrible crime – but unpunishable because of first amendment protections – against the American people and against our nation’s democratic process. I wish there was some way to make these guys accountable for what they say.

It continues to look bleak for John McCain. It seems that Barack Obama would win this election even if he were to lose Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia and North Carolina – and that is not likely to happen. Under such a scenario, Obama would have to win in Colorado and either Nevada or New Mexico (all three of those states are now leaning toward him).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ohio & Florida: Is the Fix In?

It’s a real dogfight over the two key states! Or, is it?
by Charlie Leck

Here’s the way it looks. Florida and Ohio appear to be the two most crucial states for John McCain to get figured out. His people might throw in Missouri and Virginia. It’s a virtual tie right now in Florida and Obama’s lead is slim in Ohio (though CNN’s poll yesterday gives Obama a 4 point lead).

Yet, John McCain is spending big time and big money in Pennsylvania. It doesn’t seem to make sense unless his campaign organization knows something that the polling organizations don’t. Sometimes these organizations have their own in-house polling experts and they are often very good. The national polling organizations have Obama winning PA by anywhere from 8 to 15 points. What’s up? The political pundits all wonder why McCain would be wasting such time in PA.

What if this is what John McCain’s organization knows that we don’t know?
What if John McCain knows he is going to win in Ohio, Florida and Missouri because the fix is in. This is a terrible conspiratorial suspicion that a lot of democrats have, but it is strange how McCain is not worrying about those three states. There are many of us who feel the election was stolen from John Kerry in Ohio in 2004. We all know about Florida in 2000.

What about this year? Is it possible the power brokers in the Republican Party already know who the winner is in these important states? If so, that leaves time for McCain to go to states like Pennsylvania and New Hampshire where he is losing big. There are major stories floating around about thousands and thousands of registered voters being purged from the registration lists – and mostly in low income and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. [Read this NY Times story about it!]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Woman is Strange!

It isn’t just this slip of the tongue, because the woman has been dazzling us with her weirdness for years!
by Charlie Leck

I’ve been following the strange career of Michele Bachman for years – ever since she began her legislative job in the Minnesota Senate in 2001. I haven’t a degree in psychology, but I sized her up pretty quickly. She’s not only on the stupid side, but she’s a real horse’s ass – and she’s crazier than a hoot-owl (which may be an insult to hoot-owls).

I’ve only one thing to say to the majority of voters in the 6th Congressional District in Minnesota: “You must have lost your minds, too!”

We don’t need or want people like she making legislative decisions in Washington. Her mind is warped by frothy, non-substantive religious gobbley-gook and she has a warped view of history and a limited understanding of the constitution and of the history of the United States. She is not qualified to be a representative in Congress.

Can her! Send her back to work with her husband in their family business – operating mental health clinics. Can you believe it? I mean, can you REALLY believe it? If that isn’t the case of a nut running the asylum!

She hails George W. Bush as one of our heroes! Enough said. Cases closed!

Her Congressional District is a large one. It runs all the way from Woodbury and Washington County, out on Minnesota’s border with Wisconsin, and then across the northern suburbs of the Metropolitan Region and up to St. Cloud, northwest of the cities. I’m aware that there are some pretty conservative communities included in that district, but, my goodness, do you have to send a whacko as well as a conservative to make fools of us all in Washington, D.C.? If you want to send a conservative, that’s fine, but send one out there who’s got more than half a brain.

This gaffe the other day on MSNBC isn’t unusual. She’s been saying jerky things ever since she arrived in the political limelight.

The woman is screwed too tight
And her attic is without a light

The woman is not very bright
And her brain just ain’t all right

The woman is in a drawn out fight
With goblins roaming in the night
Enough of her, already! Kick her out! Kick her out with all the other good-for-nothings who are destroying the country. Enough of her hate! Enough of her craziness!

Up with reason! Up with common sense! Up with moderation!

Faster than a Speeding Bullet!

The years slide by inevitably and inexorably and “gravity and the sun are mean forces!”
by Charlie Leck

It is quite a strange phenomenon to go 50 years without communicating with someone and then send off an email to him as if it was only yesterday that we shook hands and walked away in different directions.

Neil McMickle was a classmate in good, old Roxbury H.S. and, in 1958, we grabbed our diplomas and ran before someone realized they had made a mistake. He went off to the Navy. I ran in the opposite direction and found myself in college. He sailed into beautiful ports around the Mediterranean and other exotic places; I encountered and dealt with the rigors of difficult winters on the plains of South Dakota and Minnesota, trying to figure out ways to avoid and evade the growing war in Vietnam. We each married, had kids and found out we were lousy husbands and awkward fathers. He became a cop and I a fast-talking marketer.

He was one of the handsomest kids you’d ever want to meet. The girls swooned over him. It was something he had going for him! He should have been the stud of our class – the absolute leader of his mates – but he wouldn’t wear the robe and found the crown too heavy. I wasn’t handsome, but I was tall and strong looking. No one offered me leadership roles and I didn’t seek them. Neil and I were both loners and we didn’t have many friends – not even each other. When we left school, it was with a rush to get somewhere else – anywhere else and to put those high school years far behind us.

Now, we’re just two old guys. As Neil says, “gravity and the sun are mean forces!” He dabbles with astronomy imaging and I read relentlessly and write blogs.

I found the right woman, remarried and that has made all the difference. It sounds like Neil did too. He admits to screwing up his marriage to the delightful Janet Bigg. Lord knows I could have fallen in love with her, too. I struggled to win a desk next to hers in French II class. I felt more confident when I was near her. She had that kind of personality. She was a nifty person. (We used words like “nifty” a lot back then.) In my ’57 class yearbook, she scrolled some advice for me across her face: “Good luck in the future and keep that friendly smile.”

So, Neil, a kid I barely got to know, sends me an email and tells me the story of his life in a few hundred words. I had written to him first, asking him if he was going to the reunion and telling him it was great to picture him in my mind’s eye again – even though I had closed that door so firmly behind me 50 years ago.

Had I thought about him twixt then and now, I would have imagined he had gone into the theater or cinema or into something that could have taken advantage of his good looks. I think such attractiveness must be a burden for he or she who owns it. Most of us have never carried the burden. We had a few stunners in our class – Barb McCloskey, Dick Brown and Joyce Roesing. Jesus, they were gorgeous people.

Now that “gravity and the sun” have had their way, none of us need worry about it anymore.

“Ad Astra!” I say to Neil, “Ad Astra!”

“It was great to hear from you. Good luck to you and Ruth."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Nippiness of Autumn Arrives

I would have you read something poignant and stirring!
by Charlie Leck

The phase of autumn that tips the meteorologic scales from summer to winter has arrived in Minnesota. When I walked the dog this morning, I realized I should have pulled on a pair of gloves and that my woolen sweater was not enough to keep me warm. The tip of my nose and the rims of my ears felt as if they’d been nipped. They (you know who they are) say we are to have frost on Tuesday night – Wednesday morning.

How I love it!

It’s why we live here – to feel the coming of the great northern chill and to know that roaring, crackling fires are right behind. I fell so madly in love with Minnesota many years ago and I can’t get it out of my system. These dramatic changes of season are part of the attractiveness of this state and I never tire of watching and feeling the changes.

So, mix yourself a hot toddy and go to PRAIRIE PONDERINGS and read one of the most thought provoking blogs you’ll encounter this fall: The Importance of Being Earnest! Then, send it on to your friends – especially to those friends who confound you by their commitment to John McCain.

By the way, the dog loved the chilly morning. He was somehow extraordinarily excited by the sharpness of the brisk, crisp air.

How McCain Can Win

Peeling the Red Away in Indiana
by Charlie Leck

Obama’s organization is getting some results in Indiana. John McCain’s big lead is diminishing. Suburbanites are moving toward Obama as workers campaign hard, but politely, there for their boss. Indiana has lost an enormous number of jobs and folks are voting on those issues rather than social issues and national security.

There are still two weeks to peel back the red in Indiana. It would be a remarkable win for Obama if he can do. Remember how he almost shocked Hillary Clinton in Indiana. He came from way back to only a couple of percentage points on the night of the primary. He organization is using the exact same strategy they used back then.

Indiana also has a historically low voter turn-out rate and Obama is trying to change that and get his supporters to the polling places. Obama’s folks are also working the university and college towns, trying to get record turnouts in those communities.

In upscale suburban communities, Obama’s workers are finding women who are very turned off by the image of ditziness that Sarah Palin has brought to the Republican ticket. This matches what Thomas Edsall said in a recent blog on the Huffington Post.

“Palin is, additionally, costing McCain newspaper endorsements. Editor and Publisher calculated that as of Oct 18, Barack Obama led McCain 58-16 in the competition for the backing of newspapers. Many of the endorsements cited Palin as a factor in their
rejection of McCain. The Salt Lake Tribune, which supported George W. Bush in
2004, commented that ‘out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously under-equipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and
with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.’ The Kansas City Star, in turn, described Palin as ‘unqualified.’
There’s a chance – a significant one – that Obama could take Indiana. The most credible polls out of Indiana are over a week old and showed McCain with about a 4 point lead. It will be interesting to see what comes in over the next few days.

Ohio has Obama with a slight 2 or 3 point lead. Most people think he has salted Pennsylvania away. So if Indiana falls for Obama, one can move from NJ and go with through PA, NY, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and on to Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota – and count them all as blue states. It looks like Obama can win without Indiana, but Indiana simply puts the election out of reach for john McCain.

On top of all that, Obama has made great strides and inched into the lead in Missouri (a McCain strong-hold one month ago).

In Virginia, Obama’s numbers have gotten stronger over the last few days. McCain’s organization appears to have conceded it.

Colorado has also increased it support for Obama in the last week. No one is ready to declare a winner here, but the Obama camp is pleased with the trend.

New Mexico is solidly blue right now also. The small lead charted there is Obama by 5 points. Rasmussen has Obama by 13 points.

The Northeast, from Maryland through all of New England is blue. So is the west coast!
It’s difficult to see how McCain can win. Even Florida is currently running 3+ points for Obama. Give McCain all the southern states (but remember, no poller has McCain ahead in North Carolina right now) and McCain also get all the western plain states and Arizona). Without pulling off upsets in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, McCain can’t do it.

Keep this in mind, too. McCain is running tired. He makes mistakes when he gets very tired. He tends to get angry when cornered. Palin has lost both her luster and her thunder.

Then for good measure, take a look at Nevada, a state that McCain absolutely counted on. He’s losing there from 2 to 7 points. That, my friends, would be the coup de grâce.

Just for you information, one poll has Obama with a 41 point lead in Hawaii. The lowest number there shows him 30 points ahead.

A current break down (using an average number based on all current, reputable polls in each state… + shows Obama lead and – shows how far behind he is):

Alabama -17
Alaska -17
Arizona -11
Arkansas -15
California +16
Colorado +6
Connecticut +19
Delaware +18
Florida +3
Georgia -7
Hawaii +40
Idaho -39
Illinois +18
Indiana -4
Iowa +12
Kansas -12
Kentucky -14
Louisiana -15
Maine +9
Maryland +23
Massachusetts +20
Michigan +12
Minnesota +9
Mississippi -10
Missouri +2 (tie)
Montana -6
Nebraska -19
Nevada +4
New Hampshire +9
New Jersey +11
New Mexico +8
New York +25
North Carolina +1 (tie)
North Dakota -4
Ohio +3
Oklahoma -31
Oregon +15
Pennsylvania +13
Rhode Island +23
South Carolina -11
South Dakota -17
Tennessee -16
Texas -13
Utah -36
Virginia +7
Vermont +24
Washington +10
West Virginia -3
Wisconsin +10
Wyoming -26

Here are the hard facts for John McCain
McCain could win every state that is currently a toss-up and Obama would still win the election with 286 electoral votes (270 are needed for election). So, the only way McCain can win is by getting in there and taking some states in which Obama now has a hard –core lead. Where could he do that? Pennsylvania is possible. That could tilt the election back to McCain if he wins every single toss-up state as well.

The experts don’t think Pennsylvania is reversible. There are 4 other states, according to these same experts, where Obama’s lead is shaky enough that McCain could change the results. Virginia, Minnesota, Colorado and Mexico. Winning any two of those states would not be enough for McCain. He needs to win Virginia, Minnesota and either New Mexico or Colorado to win – or he can win by getting Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico.

I don’t think he can turn Minnesota.

So, McCain’s closing days strategy has to be to turn Virginia, Colorado and Mexico. Mind you, I said that he needs every single toss up state + this other scenario I gave you. I looks impossible, but we must wait and see.If McCain wins it will be the most startling upset in the history of American presidential campaigns – by far!A friend in Colorado writes and asks a significant question: “What if they don’t win ‘em but just steal ‘em?”

Robert Kennedy, Jr. has co-authored a piece in which he claims that it is the ONLY way McCain can win and it is about what they are going to do! Read this story by RFK Jr. and Fred Pelast...

CNN’s poll report yesterday afternoon show McCain closing the national gap a bit. It show McCain behind by only 5 points right now, compared to and 8 point deficit only two weeks ago. I can never figure things out from national polls, however. In our electoral system you’ve got to watch what’s going on state by state.

This CNN polls indicates a +20 for Obama when people are surveyed about who would likely bring the most positive change. That seems important to me. Obama also gets a slight edge on who would be the strongest, most decisive leader. The same poll shows that McCain has been able to distance himself from the policies of George W. Bush in the last two weeks. That’s crucial for McCain.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Does a great moment await America?
by Charlie Leck

I will never forget sitting before the TV nearly 7 years ago, watching Colin Powell, as the Secretary of State of the United States of America, address the United Nations. Powell presented reports from America intelligence agencies as evidence that the Nation of Iraq possessed and was prepared to use, weapons of mass destruction (WMD). His presentation was compelling and I reluctantly thought that the President of the United States had to take the action that he and Congress were about to pursue.

No one but Colin Powell could have convinced me. I held him in high regard. Not only had his marvelous autobiography impressed me, but his attention to detail as the Secretary of State and his manner in dealing with other nations seemed to make him the ideal head of foreign policy and diplomacy in our nation.

Colin Powell has lived in personal disgrace and shame for the last several years. Slowly, he came to realize that he had been duped and used by the Bush administration. The WMD intelligence information that had been provided to him was bogus. Outright lies were presented to him as confirmed facts. He, believing the lies, took an action that was completely against his nature. He recommended war and invasion.

Even so, in 2004, I believe Colin Powell could have had the Democratic nomination for President if he had sought it. He might have been able to get the nomination of either party in 2000. I believe, just prior to 9-11, he was the most popular military, political and diplomatic figure in America.

John McCain and his campaign organization has been pleased and relieved that Colin Powell has kept his silence in the last year – that he has not come forward to speak against McCain or for Obama.

Now, in a very low-key and humble manner, Colin Powell has endorsed the candidacy of Barack Obama for the office of President of the United States. I watched him make the endorsing statement. He didn’t seem thrilled to be doing it. I sensed that he would rather not do it. I also sensed that he felt he had no choice – that the future of the nation depended on what America does on Election Day in November. That may sound dramatic! I think Colin Powell believes it and I certainly believe it.

Powell called Obama “a transformational figure.” He talked about Obama’s “steadiness,… intellectual curiosity and…depth of knowledge… intellectual vigor… a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.”

What surprised many were his comments about Sarah Palin. Powell made is clear that he felt she was “not fit” for office.

It could be an extraordinary day -- an exceptional moment in American history. In his column, The Old Scout, in today's Minneapolis newspaper, Garrison Keillor put it this way:

“The American people are poised to do something that could not be imagined 10 years ago, or even five, which is to vote for the best man regardless of his skin color and elect him president. The campaign against him is not one that anybody will point to with pride in years to come. It is a long trail of honking and flapping and traces of green slime, as if a flock of geese had taken up residence in the front yard. But, Barack’s cool poise in the face of blather is some sort of testament to American heart and humor. The man has walked tall and his wife has turned out to be the brightest figure in the whole political parade, an ebullient woman of quick wit and beautiful spirit. Bravo, Michelle!

Onward, America,. We’ve all seen plenty of the worst – the sly cruelty, the arrogant ignorance, the fascination with trivia, the cheats, the weaselish and piggish and the buzzardly – but we can rise above it if we will only recognize a leader when one comes along and have the sense to let him lead.”
America is poised at one of its most historic moments – one of its proudest moments – and we now only wait, with our breath held, to see if could possibly be real.

If it happens, I want to hold my children and weep with them in joy and proclaim my pride that I am an American. As I blogged a couple of days ago, my constant prayer is: “Let it be! Let it be!”

Do the children realize it? From a historical perspective, this may be the most important presidential election ever held in the United States of America.

America is like a giant ship at sea. She turns ever so slowly and in such a wide arch, sometimes being buffeted by her own wake, but turn she must, so she may head back to her own proper place of glory.

Joe McCarthy Returns!

Oh my god, did you hear Michelle Bachman’s accusations about anti-Americans?
by Charlie Leck

At the same time yesterday, Colin Powell expressed deep concerns about the remarks of Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman who called Senator Obama unAmerican.

I am truly shocked! Startled! Dry-mouthed. Not only are these imbecilic words, they come from the mouth of a Minnesotan who lives just up here to the northwest of me. I’m ashamed! And the folks up there are really going to send this stupid, idiotic, moronic, Christian-right-wing freak back to Congress! People, have you no shame?

Go watch her make a shocking fool of herself!

By the way, she doesn’t understand that she’s made a fool of herself and thrown herself into the camp of Joe McCarthy. She also doesn’t understand who Saul Alinsky really was – a man who should be hailed as a hero rather than called un-American.

She says she was misunderstood!
Balderdash! The idiot’s remarks were on video. Watch them yourself!

We’ve got to stop sending jerks to Congress!
Enough already! Is the American electorate as idiotic as the representatives they send to Congress? We’ve got to stop doing this. As voters, let’s take a measurement of a candidates’ intelligence and common sense and refuse to vote for those who don’t at least measure up to our own levels. Michelle Bachman is way below the intelligence level of her constituency. Bachman doesn’t belong in the city government of the town she comes from – no less as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Are the people up there going mad?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Right About Now, We Need a Good Laugh!

Obama rocks the house!
by Charlie Leck

A few nights ago, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama attended the white-tie Al Smith dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Both had an opportunity to talk to the assembled dignitaries. It’s traditionally a light-hearted affair and the crowd expects to have a good time and a few good laughs.

Barack Obama gave them some laughs. Indeed, he sparkled in the role and rocked the house. He’s not a born comedian by any means, but he dryly belted out one-liners one after another.

I found myself chortling, giggling and out-right belly-laughing as I watched the MSNBC video on YouTube. You should be sure to watch it.

Of the housing crisis, Senator Obama pointed out that John McCain is feeling it 7 or 8 times more than most of us.

He also informed us that it was mere rumor that he was born in a manger. He actually came here from Krypton – sent by his father to save the earth!

Of his middle name, he said it was obviously given to him by someone who never dreamed he’d ever be running for the presidency.

He admitted John McCain was correct in his accusation that he was palling around with some blatant low-lifes, but then pointed out that he had noticed McCain present in some of those meetings of the U.S. Senate, too.

The laughing was raucous and warm at the same time. The comedic timing might not have been perfect, but the tone was ideal.

Don’t miss watching this wonderful 10 or 15 minutes of delightful video. [Go here]

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Know the Author!

We often pick up a book for the strangest reasons!
by Charlie Leck

I was traveling to Denver a couple of weeks ago, to spend two nights and a day. At the airport, on the day of my departure, I got through security much more quickly than I expected and had time to slaughter. Sitting in the airline’s VIP lounge seemed boring and so I strolled through the maze of shops in the terminal’s big concourse. In the bookstore my eyes were browsing over the titles. I picked up Garrison Keillor’s latest and decided it would be a good read while I sat waiting for the flight and during the two hours to Denver. I paid for it and headed from the shop, passing by tables of books, and saw the name of an acquaintance among the authors on a table of new releases – David Lebedoff.

“Why I know him,” I said to no one in particular; however, several people heard me and shuffled casually further away from where I stood.

Actually, I know his brother, Jonathan, much better. I admire both of them. They’re thinking men and accomplished in their fields. I was embarrassed to find out, when I flipped a few pages into the book, that David has authored a number of books – none of which I’ve read.

“David Lebedoff is the award winning author of five books, including Cleaning Up, about the Exxon Valdez case, and The Uncivil War: How a New Elite is Destroying Our Democracy. Lebedoff is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and Harvard Law School. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three children.” [page 265]
This one, with a complex and never ending title, intrigued me – The Same Man (George Orwell & Evelyn Waugh) in Love and War.

Wow! If that isn’t enough to get your blood bubbling! In a million years I wouldn’t have picked it up had I not known the author.

I read the inside, front flap. Waugh was an intriguing writer who I had not read until I was in my fifties. Don’t ask me why? There was a lapse in my education somewhere. Orwell, of course, had been high school reading – 1984 seeming like an impossibly long time yet in the future back then. When I finally ploughed excitedly through Brideshead Revisited, Vile Bodies and Decline & Fall, I realized I had missed some fine writing during my college and grad-school days.

When the plane landed in Denver, I was half way through Lebedoff’s fine book. I grew intensely interested in it quite early. The author writes quite smoothly and seems to have sympathy for the reader. In other words, there’s no squirming over sentences and paragraphs. The mind’s tongue does not get twisted and both the words and concepts flow gently across the pages. It’s fine to be a good writer writing about great writers; perhaps, it’s even essential.

The other half of the book was consumed on the way home. Then, over the next two weeks, I read it again. Now, of course, I’ve begun to pull down some of the volumes by Orwell and Waugh and stacked them for a rereading, which I’ll appreciate much more now that I’ve learned so much about the intensity of the two men during their lives.

At the heart of Lebedoff’s story is the idea that the men were so terribly different and yet so complexly the same. Intriguing! They were born in the same year (1903) and within the same British social system of strict class observance. Waugh moved toward the top of that structure and Orwell seemed more comfortable toward its bottom. What makes them so very much the same is the thrust of their writing, which strikes out against the privileged few who ran the world in which they lived and wrote. And, they both had a strikingly similar perception of what the future would hold, or bring, and their writing was dedicated to warning us about that future.

Lebedoff’s book, in subtle ways, becomes a commentary upon our own society and raises questions about the stability of the social structure that we have constructed.

“Artists foresee what statesmen do not!” [page 90]
There are a bundle of wonderful little sentences like that. Books with handsome sentences and hearty paragraphs please me. But, of course, they must also lead you somewhere and nourish you. Lebedoff manages to do both.

Waugh and Orwell indeed foresaw the coming of the Great War.

“The future must be catastrophic!”
Orwell typed out those words in 1931.

And, when that awful war came (1 September 1939), they were both attracted to it even though both were at an age that would have excused them from it. Orwell had fought in the Spanish Civil War as a liberal, against Franco and for democracy. In this respect, I’m sure that Waugh and Orwell were quite different. Waugh likely viewed the rebel fighters as commoners and fascists and not democratic heroes. Both would work their way, against significant odds, into uniform during the war against Germany. Orwell would fight in the field. Waugh would serve as an officer (with every intention of encountering danger and possible death).

Go on, pick up this book (or ask me to lend you my copy) and read to your absolute delight the story of these two gargantuan writers. Read about their commonality and their unfathomable differences – differences that made them quite similar at the same time. Such paradoxes David Lebedoff deals with quite well.

It’s an eloquent and elegant book. Those who’ve appreciated reading Waugh and Orwell will enjoy it most. Wrestle with the questions the author raises about our own society and the values its ruling classes seem to hold. There’s no better time to grapple with these matters than just before such an important election.

Lebedoff, David: The Same Man (George Orwell & Evelyn Waugh) in Love and War [Random House, NY, 2008]

“Orwell and Waugh both feared the future because they correctly saw the evil of their own time not as throwback but preface.” [page 184]

‘To the two greatest English writers of the last century, each of whom saw tradition as the banister and not the barrier to ascension, nothing would rival the delete button as the scariest feature of our own time.” [page 210]

“Evelyn Waugh rowed against the tide as steadfastly as did George Orwell, and in their wake is our path.” [page 218 – concluding sentence of the Epilogue]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Could it be a Landslide for Obama?

If Obama pulls more than 330 electoral votes it will be considered a landslide! Let it be!
by Charlie Leck

The most conservative estimates right now give Senator Obama 286 electoral votes. He needs 270 for election. These estimates do not include states where it is too close to call – Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida and Nevada.

Should Obama take Florida and Ohio, it is a landslide. Other toss-up states will follow, including Nevada and Indiana. It’s been a long time since a candidate hit 330 electoral votes. It could happen this year. Most polling organizations give Obama a lead in Florida and Ohio.

A landslide will mean that Obama is dragging congressional candidates in with him – the coat-tail affect – and the make-up of Congress will change dramatically.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Missouri and West Virginia were considered solidly McCain. They’ve slipped to a considerable degree as McCain seemed to implode. Those two states are now in the toss-up category.

Washington has been considered a state leaning toward Obama. Polls now put it solidly in the Obama count. Virginia has also moved from a leaner to a solid Obama state.

A lot will depend on how people saw the debate last night. Here’s what I saw. John McCain was swinging wildly, hoping to land a punch – any punch, anywhere. Obama, like the great Ali, “danced like a butterfly and stung like a bee.” By the end of the fight, McCain looked exhausted and worn down. He had thrown everything he had and he had no more.

As Don Hazen wrote on AlterNet:

“But McCain couldn't change at all and, in fact, did worse. His scripted Joe Plumber scenario didn't pay off and left the viewers confused. His attacks about Bill Ayers reduced his favorables consistent with poll results. McCain has been on a losing streak for almost two months, and there is no sign he can break out of his self-imposed straightjacket and dependence on the Rovian tactics that have consistently proved unpopular except for his ever-narrowing hard core base.”
Now the voters decide! Thank goodness for that. In desperation, the McCain campaign organization will need to pull out some nasty swiftboat type ads – and they will. I think it will be a mistake. This time around the American public has decided they don’t want any of that kind of rot again. It worked for the Republicans in 2000 and 2004, and look where it’s gotten us. That’s the attitude of the voting public this time.

Anything can happen in the remaining 19 days before we vote. Anything! The Obama, organization is well funded, however, and they will run the race right to the finish.

My great hope, as you know, is that change is on the horizon and that a great new day will dawn for America is January of 2009 – a day, I guess, I never dreamed I would live to see. My knees wobble from the thought and this certain prayer, this song of my youth, is perpetually in my heart:
“Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be,..

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be,..”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Minnesota’s U.S. Senate Race

Wave it in my face on the morning after the election, but here’s my shocking prediction.
by Charlie Leck

The current polls (the reputable ones) have 3rd party candidate, Independent Party Dean Barkley, getting anywhere between 14 and 20 percent of the vote in the upcoming election.
I think Barkley will do better than the high range in those numbers and will come very close to the threshold that will get him elected. Barkley will be in the 30+ range. That + figure will be the key.

My prediction is that Minnesota will elect a U.S. Senator that does not garner even as much as 40 percent of the statewide vote. Whoever the victor, he will not go rushing to Washington with a mandate in his pocket. I sure wish Minnesota had an instant-run-off policy in its statewide elections. It makes such sense!

The question no one seems capable of answering is this: From whom does Barkley take the most votes? A few weeks ago I would have thought it was Coleman. Now I’m not too sure.This is one important election the polls haven’t got right.

In 2009, Dean Barkley may be caucusing with Joe Liebermann. I can’t imagine the Democrats will want the Senator from Connecticut defiling their caucus any longer. They’re not going to need him as they do now and they may just cut ties with this turncoat.

Not, of course, that I’m bitter!

Palin’s Church is a Bigger Problem than Pastor Wright

What would such religious beliefs lead an irrational person to do in a time of crisis?
by Charlie Leck

Parts of the video that follows were shot inside Sarah Palin’s church with a hidden camera. I don’t promote or endorse using such devises to spy on worshippers; however, now that I’ve seen it, I feel strongly that what goes on inside that little church matters. It matters because Sarah Palin is running for a position that might leap-frog her into the White House someday. I think many of the reasonable people who are supporting Palin today would not do so if they understood some of the foundations of her religious faith and belief.

To me, I think this “stuff” is more frightening that the videos I saw of Pastor Jeremiah Wright. I don’t want a person who believes these things to be President of the United States and I don’t think you would either.

[You can watch the video by clicking here]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Would William Buckley Vote McCain-Palin?

Don’t be too sure that the late, great conservative would support McCain
by Charlie Leck

Read this commentary by Christopher Buckley, the son of the late, great, conservative political observer and writer. It may surprise you. It will entertain you. The story first appeared in The Daily Beast.

Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama
by Christopher Buckley
October 10, 2008 [7:33am]

The son of William F. Buckley has decided—shock!—to vote for a Democrat.

Let me be the latest conservative/libertarian/whatever to leap onto the Barack Obama bandwagon. It’s a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They’d cut off my allowance.

Or would they? But let’s get that part out of the way. The only reason my vote would be of any interest to anyone is that my last name happens to be Buckley—a name I inherited. So in the event anyone notices or cares, the headline will be: “William F. Buckley’s Son Says He Is Pro-Obama.” I know, I know: It lacks the throw-weight of “Ron Reagan Jr. to Address Democratic Convention,” but it’ll have to do.

Dear Pup once said to me, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.”

I am—drum roll, please, cue trumpets—making this announcement in the cyberpages of The Daily Beast (what joy to be writing for a publication so named!) rather than in
the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column. For a reason: My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”

As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.

As to the particulars, assuming anyone gives a fig, here goes:

I have known John McCain personally since 1982. I wrote a well-received speech for him. Earlier this year, I wrote in The New York Times—I’m beginning to sound like Paul Krugman, who cannot begin a column without saying, “As I warned the world in my last column...”—a highly favorable Op-Ed about McCain, taking Rush Limbaugh and the others in the Right Wing Sanhedrin to task for going after McCain for being insufficiently conservative. I don’t—still—doubt that McCain’s instincts remain fundamentally conservative. But the problem is otherwise.

McCain rose to power on his personality and biography. He was authentic. He spoke truth to power. He told the media they were “jerks” (a sure sign of authenticity, to say nothing of good taste; we are jerks). He was real. He was unconventional. He embraced former anti-war leaders. He brought resolution to the awful missing-POW business. He brought about normalization with Vietnam—his former torturers! Yes, he erred in accepting plane rides and vacations from Charles Keating, but then, having been cleared on technicalities, groveled in apology before the nation. He told me across a lunch table, “The Keating business was much worse than my five and a half years in Hanoi, because I at least walked away from that with my honor.” Your heart went out to the guy. I thought at the time, God, this guy should be president

A year ago, when everyone, including the man I’m about to endorse, was caterwauling to get out of Iraq on the next available flight, John McCain, practically alone, said no, no—bad move. Surge. It seemed a suicidal position to take, an act of political bravery of the kind you don’t see a whole lot of anymore.

But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

All this is genuinely saddening, and for the country is perhaps even tragic, for America ought, really, to be governed by men like John McCain—who have spent their entire lives in its service, even willing to give the last full measure of their devotion to it. If he goes out losing ugly, it will be beyond tragic, graffiti on a marble

As for Senator Obama: He has exhibited throughout a “first-class temperament,” pace Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s famous comment about FDR. As for his intellect, well, he’s a Harvard man, though that’s sure as heck no guarantee of anything, these days. Vietnam was brought to you by Harvard and (one or two) Yale men. As for our current adventure in Mesopotamia, consider this lustrous alumni roster. Bush 43: Yale. Rumsfeld: Princeton. Paul Bremer: Yale and Harvard. What do they all have in common? Andover! The best and the brightest.

I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of
bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.
It's a good endorsement -- this one by Christopher Buckley. About his father, there are two possibilities were he alive. One is that he might just vote for Obama in the face of the embarraassing campaign that Senator McCain has run. The other is that, with Buckley around as an advisor, McCain might not have run such a campaign if he knew Buckley was watching his every move.

Monday, October 13, 2008

John McCain is Stuttering His Way to Election Day

The Unsinkable Molly Brown
by Charlie Leck

Sometimes I swipe things from other blogs. This is one of thoses cases. I out-right stole the entire concept.

The following video is from Brave New Films. Better than anything I've seen, it tells the John McCain story. Brave New asks that everyone who watches it pass it along to 10 other people. Watch it and you'll see why. John McCain must not become the President of the United States.

Do it now! Pass it on.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This is Unprecedented Stuff

Dire warnings for John McCain and his campaign!
by Charlie Leck

In all my years watching politics and national elections, I have never seen party leaders step forward, as they are right now, with dire warnings for their candidate – in this case, John McCain. Read some of this stuff below. They are telling McCain, in no uncertain terms, to knock it off.

And, I’m telling you to put this in your memory bank. This is historic stuff and our grandchildren will one day find it all rather bewildering. Most of the following was from the spoken word, so look past the lack of perfect grammar…

David Gergen, writer and Republican advisor, thinks the race is still alive but McCain is falling back quickly.

“Every day that goes by, like today, when McCain doesn’t break through is a bad day for McCain…. And what you do sense is that McCain is losing control over his own destiny. That he’s no longer the man that seems to be in command –he’s thrashing around looking for something that will take hold.”
And Gergen also said something more dire:

“This—I think one of the most striking things we’ve seen now in the last few days. We’ve seen it in a Palin rally. We saw it at the McCain rally today. And we saw it to a considerable degree during the rescue package legislation. There is this free floating sort of whipping around anger that could really lead to some violence. I think we’re not far from that.

“…well, I really worry when we get people—when you get the kind of rhetoric that you’re getting at these rallies now. I think it’s really imperative that the candidates try to calm people down. And that’s why I’ve argued not only because of the question of the ugliness of it."
John Weaver, one of McCain former top advisors, and a very committed Republican, has provided some dire warnings for McCain.

“People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, the differences with Sen. Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared to Sen. McCain,” Weaver said. “And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn female voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive.”

“Sen. Obama is a classic liberal with an outdated economic agenda. We should take that agenda on in a robust manner. As a party we should not and must not stand by as the small amount of haters in our society question whether he is as American as the rest of us. Shame on them and shame on us if we allow this to take hold.”
Republican Frank Schaefer had similar warnings.
“John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as 'not one of us,' I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence. 'Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.'"
Ray LaHood is retiring from Congress. As a Republican, he supports the McCain ticket, but he has strong criticism for Sarah Palin and the way she’s campaigning out on the trail.
"When she mentions Obama’s name she gets people shouting back some awful things. She isn’t dealing with it."

"Look it. This doesn't befit the office that she's running for. And frankly, people don't like it."
Partisan Republican, Ed Rollins, says that the campaign is over – that Obama will win in a landslide.

“The momentum has gone all the other way… Barack has met the threshold where people think he’s going to be a leader. He’s tied McCain to the past and to Bush…. This is going to turn into a landslide.”
If Rollins is right and that’s McCain’s view also, he can do one of two things. He can take the high road and be very diplomatic, pushing the debate on solid and worthy issues; or, he can become deranged and flail around and throw every kind of punch he’s got, including the dirty ones.

John McCain is a tired and bewildered fighter. He honestly doesn’t know what to do.

As I wrote, early this morning, to a very long-time, old friend: “A grand old party has been raped. It is not truly conservative anymore. It is something else that none of us have been quite able to name and John McCain looks out of balance as its head.”

Let’s hope John McCain chooses to save his career and come out of this as a distinguished American.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sarah Palin and the State Trooper She Hates

Palin in a skuzzy type person and would be an embarrassment in the office of the Vice President!
by Charlie Leck

Here’s the facts, Jack! Read ‘em and weep! Sarah Palin (aka Mrs. Joe Sixpack) would be an embarrassment as VP. She was an embarrassment as Governor of Alaska. Even putting aside the results of the recent investigation ordered by the Alaska State Legislature, which found Palin abused her powers as Governor, the woman would still be an embarrassment. Brigitte Bardot, the famous actress of seduction, recently criticized Palin for constantly “making statements that are disconcertingly stupid.”

Palin has some interesting traits. These are my observation – and only my observations – of personality characteristics. I’ve got my rights to make such observations!

She’s tough – stupid tough! She couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to control her temper.

She’s not conciliatory at all! It’s her way or the highway. She’s very much a partisan and she’s going to stick to her views even when she discovers they’re wrong.

As per the above, she’s incredibly stubborn.

Humility is something she knows nothing about.

She’s not exactly stupid, but she doesn’t know when she doesn’t know! It’s dangerous, someone has told us, to have a little bit of knowledge. She has only a little bit of knowledge.

On top of it all, and circling back around to the first personality trait listed here, she’s nasty – really low-down, harsh and rotten nasty.

Frankly, Sarah Palin was John McCain’s biggest mistake. No one sensed it at the time, but all the campaign experts are seeing it now. McCain was desperate to move right. He felt he wasn’t going to pick up the support of the freaks way out there in Waa-Waa Land. Well, by picking up Palin, he got their support. The problem is, he lost far more of the support that came from the center. And, he lost a huge percentage of the undecided vote. It didn’t happen immediately. It took some time for the American public to see through this woman and realize she would be an utter joke in such a high and distinguished office.

So much for Rush Limbaugh as a presidential campaign advisor!

The Democrats don’t even need to go after Palin. Just as long as the TV cameras continue to show her, that’s enough. Her “deer-in-headlights” look as she answers questions is enough. Watching her slowly sink into a thick pool of quick-sand says everything that has to be said and the Democrats don’t have to touch it.

HEADLINE: NY TIMES (10 October 2008):
“Palins Repeatedly Pressed Case Against Trooper”
This NY Times story is thorough and cites many sources and reports on interviews with a wide range of people. It’s accurate! Take it to the bank! Nevertheless the folks in Waa-Waa Land will begin screaming about the “liberal” NY Times. Here’s something you and I both know: We wouldn’t want the NY Times after us if we had done something wrong! On this particular issue, Palin is toast.[Read the story by Serge Kovaleski]

Slinging Mud
Yesterday I told you that McCain’s organization is pressing the Senator to start slinging mud at Obama. They feel, with the numbers getting worse and worse for their candidate, they have little choice. The people in Waa-Waa Land actually believe the crap about William Ayres. That issue, like Sarah Palin herself, is indescribably silly and flimsy. There is, again like Sarah Palin, nothing to it. We can only hope that moderate, sensible people will see that and McCain’s numbers will drop even more.

Barack Hussein Obama
To appease the people in Waa-Waa Land, we will hear Obama’s middle name constantly uttered in the next four weeks. This will fill that strange land’s inhabitants with excitement and wrath! They will foam at the mouth. Will it affect moderates and sensible people? We can only hope not and, with great optimism, we certainly believe not.

The Chicago Connection
We’ll also hear a great deal about Chicago and it’s political corruption. Don’t feel sorry for Chicago. It is one of the world’s great cities and it will stand very well on its own against attacks from Waa-Waa Land.

Why does Waa-Waa Land dominate McCain campaign procedures?
There’s a potential answer in a column in yesterday’s NY Times…
Conservative Columnist, David Brooks

I don’t like the opinions of David Brooks, but I keep reading him anyway, in an attempt to better understand conservative thinking. In this column, “The Class War Before Palin,” Brooks is on to something – and not on something!

“Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.“…But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts.

This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.“Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

“The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.

“Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment.

“This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking “eastern elites.” (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin.

“Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the “normal Joe Sixpack American” and the coastal elite.

“She is another step in the Republican change of personality. Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all — men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch.

"And so, politically, the G.O.P. is squeezed at both ends. The party is losing the
working class by sins of omission — because it has not developed policies to address economic anxiety. It has lost the educated class by sins of commission — by telling members of that class to go away.”
I know I quoted too much of that column and I’m probably in copyright infringement trouble, but this conservative has nailed it and you should read his words. The conservatives are giving too much of a great party away to the Sarah Palins and Joe Sixpacks of the world. No problem with them being a part of the party, but when they are the party that’s a problem.

Here’s one thing I guaranty you – not that Sarah Palin won’t read the Brooks column, though that she won’t is highly likely also – and that is that Sarah Palin won’t understand this column if she does read it. Take it to the bank!

A great, strong conservative party is important to America. Perhaps, if Obama wins in a resounding way, the rebuilding will start and Rove, Chaney, Palin and Joe Sixpack will be asked to step aside for some real leadership.