Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ash nailed it: US foreign intervention in ashes

Vice President Joe Biden doesn't need to take Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the Warmongers Woodshed for his comment that Iraq showed "no will to fight" over their loss of Ramadi to ISIS. What Biden should be complaining about is America's will to go on squandering trillions adding to the hundreds of thousands dead, including 7,000 GI's, in failed Middle East policies while the Homeland continues to languish under war imposed austerity. America created ISIS, first by our criminal war which smashed Iraq worse than Humpty Dumpty, and then by funneling arms to rag tag terrorist groups we hoped would use them to overthrow hated President Assad of Syrian. They simply said "Thanks, very much Uncle Do-Do Bird. We'll use them to crate a Caliphate instead". And in the US, everybody loses...except the guys making the WMD and the sociopaths who relish endless war.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Pick: Whistle Stop by Philip White, University Press of New England, 2014

There were two famous Ferdinand Megellans. The first was flesh and blood, who, between 1519 and 1522, was first explorer to circumnavigate the earth. The second, also a traveler, but more important to history, was steel and steam, the presidential railroad car that carried President Harry Truman over 31,000 miles on his 352 speech whistle stop tour that brought him the most improbable of president...ial victories in the election of 1948.

Whistle Stop is the title of Philip White's book chronicling this fascinating campaign, in which every pollster not only predicted Republican Tom Dewey would swamp Democrat Truman, some even stopped polling in September. Truman struggled just to get the Democratic nomination, being challenged for nomination by the party's left flank, who felt he was not a worthy successor to the sainted FDR. His nomination caused a double split in the party; Southern racists joined he Dixiecrat campaign of SC Governor Strom Thurmond, and northeast liberals signed up with Progressive Party candidate, and Truman's predecessor as VP, Henry Wallace. That left Truman with just the west and Midwest to garner electoral votes.

But Truman was tough, smart and totally committed to carrying on the New Deal legacy of Roosevelt. Getting the nomination, he faced a dispirited party apparatus who bought the pollsters foregone conclusions of a Dewey landslide. Truman responded by doing something innovative in presidential campaigns. He created a campaign issue brain trust of seven brilliant strategists equally committed to his re-election. They boarded together in a bare bones hotel to enable them to work nearly round the clock crafting issue oriented and hard hitting speeches on everything the New Deal stood for: jobs, health care, price controls, infrastructure improvements, minimum wage increase, civil rights, and immigration reform. Sound familiar? Then they created the most ambitious whistle stop campaign ever. Truman gave up the 16 speeches a day, rising a 5:00 AM and not retiring till midnight. He blasted Dewey and the 'Do Nothing' GOP controlled 80th Congress relentlessly, not with gratuitous insults and name calling, but with facts and passion and truth. Dewey, meanwhile, mentally measuring the White House drapes, basically phoned in his campaign with platitudes based around 'unity' and 'competence' instead of substance.

Truman not only won big, 49.5% to 45.1% of the popular vote, and 303 to 186 in the Electoral College, he got to hold up the hated Chicago Tribune with the headline 'Dewey defeats Truman' for Dems to cheer and Republicans to cry.

Every Democrat and progressive should read 'Whistle Stop' before the 2016 campaign begins. It will inspire a commitment to win regardless of the odds, and it will re-enforce how brains, facts, passion and straight talk will trump impersonal, mindless platitudes.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ireland leads; Catholic Church dead last in race for human inclusion and equality

Congrats to Ireland for being the first country in the world legalizing gay marriage by popular vote. In spite of rabid opposition by the Catholic Church, 62% of Irish voters said YES to marriage equality. The vote wasn't concentrated in pockets of human decency; 42 of 43 voting districts passed the measure.

The vote adds an extra helping of raspberries to the Catholic Church, which is becoming more and more isolated in its hateful, discriminatory and self destructive opposition to marriage equality.
Maybe its time for all church attending Catholics of good will to substitute a note for greenbacks in the church envelope. It should say something like: "NO MORE MONEY TILL YOU TRULY ACT CHRISTLIKE AND EMBRACE THE ENTIRE HUMAN FAMILY."