Saturday, January 21, 2006

State of Belief Radio Show

Wanted to be sure to give a heads-up about this to anyone who hasn't heard yet. There is a new show on Air America Radio called State of Belief. It is hosted by Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance. Here is the blurb about tomorrow's show...

- Senator Patrick Leahy, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, explains why he voted for 8 of the 9 current Supreme Court Justices - but won't vote for Sam Alito.
- Paul Hackett, U.S. Senate candidate from Ohio, tells us why the Religious Right is like Osama bin Laden.
- Welton answers the burning question on your mind: Who the heck is Welton?
- Plus: politicians blame God (again); and the Religious Right goes berzerk over Brokeback Mountain.

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Senator Reid's Radio Address

I wasn't planning to do another post so soon, but I just had to share this snippet from Senator Harry Reid's radio address today. I think he is sounding downright "Howardly" here...

Reid accused Republicans of using "doublespeak" to sell their agenda.

"When they wanted to let energy companies release more pollution into the air, they called it the 'Clear Skies Initiative,'" he said. "When they wanted to let loggers cut down more trees and weaken environmental laws, they called it the 'Healthy Forests Initiative.'

"My favorite Republican doublespeak is when they wanted to give tax breaks to their special interest friends even though it meant adding more than $50 billion to our deficit, they called their effort the 'Deficit Reduction Act,'" he said.

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National Sanctity of Human Life Day

George Bush, by virtue of his proclamation of "National Sanctity of Human Life Day", has just handed us a great big present with pretty wrapping and a giant bow on top. Check this out...

National Sanctity of Human Life Day is an opportunity to strengthen our resolve in creating a society where every life has meaning and our most vulnerable members are protected and defended including unborn children, the sick and dying, and persons with disabilities and birth defects. This is an ideal that appeals to the noblest and most generous instincts within us, and this is the America we will achieve by working together.

We can't pass up an opportunity like this! Our pResident is *asking* us to do this. Let's talk about this, and pass it along to other blogs (I got the link above from My Left Wing). Howard Dean was just in Columbus this past week talking about how the Democratic party *is* the party of American values. Really, it's obvious that Bush is talking about protection of fetuses, but he came right out and said that we need to make sure "our most vulnerable members are protected". How are we doing with that in this country? How could we do better? What will we as the party of values do to mark the "National Sanctity of Human Life Day"?

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday night frivolity

I feel like it's time for some Friday night downtime. On Wednesday, as the event at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall was wrapping up, the discussion turned to the mystique of cat blogging. Whether it might be the key to winning elections. The conversation was obviously very tongue-in-cheek, but it reminded me that *everybody* does cat blogging. So, what could be *our* thing here at HEP?

Maybe we don't need to tie ourselves to any one thing, but I do like the idea of having "playtime" once in a while. We have to be serious so darn much of the time. And, looking through some of the pictures here, I'm reminded that the *incredibly* hard-working man who is the inspiration for this blog is also someone who genuinely knows how to have a good time.

That laugh! It's amazing to me that there are people out there who still think of Howard Dean as being the "angry one", when to me, I think of that head-thrown-back laugh as his trademark expression.

So, sure these are serious times, and there is much work that needs to be done. But we need to recharge too. There are plenty of ways to do that, but plain old silly humor is one of my favorites. And since *this* is what Howard Dean was seen doing the day after he ended his campaign for the presidency

...I feel it's pretty safe to say he approves.

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Dean: Rove has Zero Cred on National Security

Trying the "blog this" feature at the DNC blog to excerpt and link to a post... has a post called "Karl Rove Has Zero Cred on National Security" that's worth checking out...

Governor Dean: "Karl Rove only has a White House job and a security clearance because President Bush has refused to keep his promise to fire anyone involved in revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative," said Dean. "Rove's political...

By the way, if you haven't seen it yet, here is the transcript to Howard Dean's great speech at the Democracy Bond event here in Columbus, Ohio the other day. Now that the weekend is here, I've started working on an actual write-up of my *own* reflections on the event, but I don't think it will be ready to post tonight. Patience, grasshoppers...

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A Battle Worth Fighting

Teri Mills is a longtime Democracy For America community member. Her guest column on health care appears on Blog for America on Fridays and she blogs at

The New York Times ran a four part series last week on Type 2 diabetes that apparently caught the attention of a good many readers. By the time this column is published it may be on its way to the archives, but you can catch some quotes at and here are a few more that should raise your own red or blue flag. Even discovery of a gene won't immediately help the 40 percent of the population who are found to have a predisposition for developing the disease.

"An estimated 800,000 adult New Yorkers—more than one in every eight—now have diabetes, and city health officials describe the problem as a bona fide epidemic.

"The percentage of persons with diabetes New York City is nearly a third higher than in the nation. New cases have been cropping up close to twice as fast as cases nationally. And of adults believed to have the illness, health officials estimate, nearly one-third do not know it."

One in three children born in the United States five years ago are expected to have diabetes in their lifetimes, according to a projection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The forecast is even bleaker for Latinos: one in every two."

The Times articles point out the high cost of treating Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is preventable and can be postponed. These included the expense and hardship of caring for family members, higher taxes, increased public spending to divert the disease, but add on to that time lost from work, and higher insurance premiums and you can see how this condition will affect all of our pocketbooks.

A Times reporter went on to say, "Health economists suggest that if these preventive measures were practiced on a wide scale, complications from diabetes would be largely eliminated and the American medical system, and by extension taxpayers, could save as much as $30 billion over 10 years. The experts disagree on what such an effort would cost. (How much nutrition counseling does it take to wean the average person from French fries?) Nonetheless, many of them believe the cost would be largely offset by the savings."

Rapid Response, Howard Dean, and Jim Dean have taught us never to be silent, so here is one letter that was submitted but not published:

N.R. Kleinfield quotes the commissioner of the NY City Department of Health: "Getting millions of people to change their behaviors (to prevent Type 2 diabetes) will require some kind of national crusade." Nurses around the country could not agree more and are prepared to help lead the fight. As the most trusted of health professionals, nurses could be part of the solution of reducing health care costs and keeping families healthy. Providing preventive health care information to every American could be done through the proposed Office of the National Nurse. The National Nurse would address the nation on specific ways to prevent diabetes, followed by nationwide health education days led by volunteer nurses that the public would be encouraged to attend. The United States has a long-standing history of finding solutions to our problems. The National Nurse should be one of them.

Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP
Democracy for Oregon

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Filibuster Friday

With the weekend almost here, I hope to have more time to write up more about the great events with Howard Dean here in Columbus on Wednesday. In the meantime, check out Tim Tagaris' On The Road With Governor Dean (Recap) post at the DNC blog and his Kos diary about the same.

But in the meantime, please check out this new Filibuster Alito site:

When they surrendered on the original filibuster confrontation without a fight they told us they were "saving our ammunition." Strike one.

When they waved Roberts through without demanding access to any of his records for the last 20 years they told us they were "keeping our powder dry." Strike two.

Don't DARE try to tell us that now rubberstamping the most radical jurist on the appellate bench is yet more "picking our battles."

This is our litmus test. If our senators will not protect us from this constitutional outrage, we call for each and every one to be defeated in their next election. We call for candidates to arise in their own primaries if necessary to punish them for their cowardice and their complicity. If putting their own job on the line is not a circumstance "extraordinary" enough for them we don't know what is.

Here's what Paul Hackett has said about the Alito nomination:
Alito Would Set Dangerous Course for Court
And more diaries:
Alito: Keep the Pressure On by judybrowni

Howard Dean's recent remarks about Alito can be found in the post below this one.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Open Thread

Don't know what's wrong with the blog today, but thought I'd try posting a new thread and see if that helped. My version of "Well, have you tried thumping it?"

By the way, here is Howard's response when a member of the audience yesterday asked what we should be doing to oppose the Alito being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice:

"I would write your senator. I don't believe Judge Alito belongs on the bench for the reasons I wrote in my articles on the web site. And I think you need to speak with your Democratic senators, including Democratic presidential hopefuls, about doing whatever is necessary to make sure he doesn't get on the bench. He does not represent the mainstream in American political thinking, nor does he represent the mainstream of our values."

The picture above is not of Howard answering that particular question. I just wanted to post a picture of Howard, and this one has Katie Thomsen in it.

UPDATE: I just found out about this new Filibuster Alito site.

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Howard Dean's speech to Democracy Bond owners in Columbus

As I mentioned here, yesterday, January 18, I got to hear Howard Dean give a speech in my home town of Columbus, Ohio. Actually, I got to hear him give two speeches--one at the Ohio Statehouse specifically addressing ethics reform, and a second speech at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall. That speech was to Democracy Bond holders, and was longer and broader in scope. Anyway, while there will definitely be more to come about yesterday's events, I decided that before leaving for work today I wanted to at least write up the remarks by Howard Dean at the Democracy Bond event. Bloggers from Live from Dayton, Buckeye Senate Blog, Ohio 2nd blog, and The Seven Cent Nickel were also in attendance, and I invite you to check out what they have to say. And of course, Tim Tagaris, who was kind enough to invite me to attend, will be reporting on yesterday's proceedings over at the DNC blog.

Anyway, here's the speech from the Democracy Bond event...

(As Howard Dean began to speak, he thanked Chris Redfern, the new Chair of the Democratic party in Ohio...) He is just what the Democratic party in Ohio needs. A lot of energy--you should have seen him fending off those right wingers from Fox News this morning at the press conference. He is going to be great, I'm really looking forward to it--we are going to turn Ohio around. But of course it's not us that's going to do it, it's you. Secondly, let me also thank the Plumbers and Pipefitters. Until I got here this morning I did not know that this is where the caucus was that I actually won in Ohio.** I wasn't even on the ballot at that point. If only we'd started in Ohio instead of Iowa, maybe we'd be having this meeting in a different place, in a different city. Third, this is like old home week. I really appreciate the turnout. We did not expect 70 people to show up. I know that many of you are here on your lunch hour, so I won't go into a big long thing. But I really do thank you for coming. And I thank you (pointing to man in front row wearing a Dean for America shirt) for wearing that excellent t-shirt which you may stand up and model for everyone (Applause). And this is *not* winter weather--I'm from Vermont!

But you know, the fun thing about this is, it's preaching to the converted, so I don't need to spend a lot of time telling you what's bad about the Bush administration. I think most people in America know what's bad about the Bush administration. But I can spend a little time telling you what we're going to do about it and ask for your help. We are remodeling the Democratic party--you're going to see a very different party in '06 and '08. And it comes from a lot of the experiences I had in the campaign. Because we started out, as you know, in a state of 600,000 people, and 160,000 in the bank, and you built the campaign. A lot of you here *were* with me, and we learned to trust people who were out in the states and out in the communities, to do what they needed to do, and we felt that they knew best what to do in their own communities. And so you built our campaign from the bottom up. And it was an extraordinary experience because it made me understand that centralized government and centralized anything is not the most effective way to govern a country. It's not even the most effective way to run a presidential campagn. So, with that in mind as I took over the Democratic National Committee almost a year ago, we decided that we needed to invigorate this party. And let people know that they own the party. The idear, since I didn't get the job of my choice, was to change the country by first changing the Democratic party, and then changing the country through the Democratic party. And so, with extraordinary people like Mary Jo and Mary Ann and others who have been so wonderful, we are doing this county by county and precinct by precinct.

We started off first with the state partnership program. We are paying for staffers in every single state, and we have them in every single state now, and they're on the DNC payroll, but they're picked by the local parties, we train them. And their obligation is, one, they've got to sign on for four years. We want the *party* to be strong. We don't want these folks to get good and then go off and work for a governor or a senator. Two, they have to be diverse. They have to look like the people whose vote we're asking for. The state parties haven't been so good about that always. In Texas for example, they have one state organizer in the whole state party who's Hispanic, in a state which is 40% Hispanic. Three, we train them. They come to Washington, usually for two to three days, and we'll continue to do that. So, everybody knows what the techniques are around the country. And four, there has to be a Democratic organization in every precinct in the state, in every precinct in America.

It has become socially unacceptable because of the propaganda of the right wing, to be a Democrat in about a third of America's precincts. Just like it was socially unacceptable to be a Republican about 40 years ago in the South. We can't do that. We're not going to do that. And it's not a hard thing to fix--I learned that from my campaign too. There was a woman in a place called West County Missouri, which I wasn't familiar with, but she told me it was the most conservative county in Missouri. She said, "You know, I was a campaign supporter of yours, and we decided we were going to have a Democratic party in West County Missouri. We hadn't had one for a long time. So I had my friends over, and three of us sat in my kitchen, and that was the Democratic party in West County Missouri. And today, we have 250 people meeting every week. There are Democrats everywhere. Our job is to make sure they're willing to stand up and say so. And that's what these organizers are going to do in every single precinct. We lost Ohio in the rural areas because we didn't get out there. There are Democrats all over in rural Ohio, everywhere. We just didn't get out there and let them be proud of who they were. So that's the number one thing--every single precinct.

Now, the next thing we're going to have is a synchronized voter (bar?) and I'm not going to get into all that because it's technical, but we have to do it. Mostly it's infrastructure. But the next thing we have to do is have a unified message. Now we have done a lot of work on the unified message. I'll tell you what the difference is. We're going to pick up 2 or 3 or 4 seats, or 5 in the House this year. And we're going to pick up 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 seats in the Senate. But we're going to take the House back, the United States House of Representatives back if we can nationalize this election and have a unified message. And you don't have to take my word for this. Newt Gingrich proved that was true. The way we lost in 1994 after years of domination, was the Republicans finally figured out that in order to win, you have to not be like the other party. Because even when America wants change, if they have to choose between two parties that look the same to them, they're not going to make that change. We need to differentiate ourselves from the Republican party and be clear about what we stand for (applause). Because America wants a change, and they can't have a change without having a choice. And it's our business to provide them with a choice, and that's exactly what I intend to do. And that's exactly what I'm hoping the Democratic party is going to do.

It's not easy. The Washington folks, they get complacent, they enjoy their life. They don't enjoy their life in the minority very much, and that's where they are now. The truth is, nobody cares what Democrats say in Washington right now, because we're in the minority. In the House, I don't care what Hillary Clinton said--she was right. The fact is, they are treated like dirt, and you know who said that first? It wasn't Hillary Clinton, it was Newt Gingrich twelve years ago. It's true, they get treated like dirt. It is outrageous. FIfty percent of Americans have been disenfranchised in this country by the right wing, who don't believe fundamentally that they are to represent Americans. They only believe they are there to represent themselves. And we think that the other 50% deserves some say too, and when we get back in power, we're actually going to listen to those folks.

When I was governor, I believed that everyone was my boss. Including the Republicans who didn't vote for me, because they were part of the hiring process. So when I had meetings around the state, I used to include everybody. If they asked me some tough questions, they asked me some tough questions. I got paid to answer them. Imagine the embarrassment having a president of the United States who only lets people talk to him if they already agree with him ahead of time. You wonder why this country's in trouble? It's because the president doesn't respect half of us. That's what we're going to change. And when we get back in power, we're going to reach out to those folks who disagree with us, which is what I'm going to ask you to do right now.

There's two things I need you to do. One is to get a Democracy Bond if you don't already have one, which I know a lot of you do. Go to, and we ask you to sign up for what you can afford--ten or twenty or thirty dollars a month. If you're a wealthy attorney, give us a hundred or two hundred dollars a month. Whatever it is, it gives us a steady stream of income and it buys back America from the special interests. The only special interest that matters, is you. And the only special interest that we ought to raise our money from is you. If we've got a million people giving us $20 a month, that means that we don't ever have to depend on any special interests, or any money that there might be some quid pro quo for. Now the truth is, most of you know me well enough to know that there's not going to be a quid pro quo anyway. Because if they want one I say the quid is over there out the door and you can take yourself with it. But we need that sustaining membership of ordinary Americans to make this party work. The truth is, we are the party of ordinary Americans.

The second thing I need you to do, which is in some ways even tougher... It's fun to come here when we're all of like mind, and maybe we can have a little fun at the president's expense. But what we really need you to do is reach out and talk to those who didn't vote with us the last time. People who disagree with us. Because the truth is, we have something in common with a lot of those folks.

Evangelical Christians. People think they're all Republicans--it's not true. Because their values include making sure no child goes to bed hungry at night. A lot of Republicans are cutting school lunch programs. Their values include not leaving more debt to our children than we found ourselves. The Republicans are the largest borrow and spend thrift group I've ever seen. The largest deficit in the history of the country and going up. Evangelical Christians believe it is immoral to treat the earth that God gave us the way that this administration is. That's something that we have in common.

In fact, there's a lot that Americans have in common. You know what the greatest sin of George Bush and his administration is? It's not the Iraq war. And it's not even the enormous budget deficit which going to hurt us for years and years. It's the fact that he has chosen to deliberately divide America in order to win elections. To separate ourselves from each other. He's done more harm to this country, even than his lame-brained foreign policy, his incompetence in terms of the budget, by being willing to use divisive tactics to win elections. We can't do that any more, and when we get back in power we're not going to do that, because it's bad for America. (Applause.)

So I need you to reach out to people who you maybe don't know very well and who don't agree with you. Now, I'm not talking about the hard right, the intolerance of the hard right. But I am talking about a lot of the people who vote for them. Because, guess what? They're not that different from us. I'm going to tell you one quick story and then I want to get on to finish this up.

When Katrina hit, there were a lot of people at the DNC who had relatives and friends there and so forth. It was a very upsetting time as you can imagine. It was upsetting even for those who didn't know anybody there, to see how incompetent the federal government was in dealing with it. It was a really bad time at the Democratic National Committee. So we shut down our fundraising operations because we didn't think it was proper to raise money for politics while that kind of thing was going on. And we said to everybody, we will pay your salary for three weeks if you feel like you need to go down to the Gulf and help out.

So, a bunch of people did, including two young women who work in our finance department. And they went down there and they got teamed up with five ladies from the Southern Baptist Conference. Now, for those of you who know anything about the Southern Baptist, they're a somewhat conservative, to put it mildly, denomination, who often have preachers who preach that it's a sin to vote for Democrats. So, these two young ladies from the finance department sort of had a debate among themselves, "Should we tell them who we work for?" And they decided they would, in the interests of standing up for who they were. So they fessed up that they worked for the Democratic National Committee, and they sort of got this reaction, and thought that maybe they were thinking the word "Satan" when they heard that pronouncement. But everyone got along pretty well, and they were handing out food and water to people who really needed it. At the end of the time, one of the women said, "You know, we're all here together, and we're just trying to do things for our fellow people.

Now, I'll tell you why this is important. About a year from now, I can tell you that when these ladies from the Southern Baptist Convention go back to their home churches, some pastor in that church is going to stand up and say it's a sin to vote for a Democrat. And they're going to think back to the two young women who worked for the Democratic National Committee and say to themselves, "Now, wait a minute. I know two Democrats who work for the Democratic party. We were all in this together when we worked together." Personal experience trumps what the pastor tells you, and personal experience even trumps what your parents tell you.

That's why I want you to reach across the aisle and talk to people who didn't vote the way you did, but they are good, decent people who want to do the right thing for their country. Yeah, we won't agree on everything. But if they come to know you, they're going to listen to you more than they're going to listen to me, more than they're going to listen to Bill Clinton or John Kerry, or certainly George Bush. Because your point of view is going to be from somebody they've worked with, and they trust and they know that they have something in common with.

I want to finish this off by talking a little bit about our message. The message really is about values. It's not about issues. We're going to build our message around five issues that we've all agreed on--the House, the Senate, the governors, and the mayors.

And those are, one, we want honesty and integrity back in our government again.

Two, we want a strong national defense that depends on telling the truth to our citizens, our soldiers, and our allies.

Three, we want American jobs that will stay in America. And those will be built around a new industry. An energy independence industry where we'll retrofit people's houses with decent construction jobs, where we'll create alternative energies such as solar and wind and ethanol, and we'll have clean coal technology. These jobs will have to stay here as we reduce the amount of energy we use in this country from 25% of the world's energy for 5% of the population. It's a *huge* potential industry, where the Republicans will never do it because they're married to the oil industry.

We want a health insurance system that works for everybody. Just like 36 other countries, and I could name every one of them. We can do that in this country. Thirty-six other countries manage to balance their budget and provide health insurance for everybody. We ought to be one of those countries. Because we're in deep trouble. And this is not some Democratic do-gooder piece of socialized medicine, as the president accused John Kerry of. This is a business proposition. (Applause) I was in Michigan the other day, and the headlines in the two biggest papers, "General Motors invests $2 billion in Windsor, Ontario". Moving jobs to Canada because they can't pay their health care bills in this country. You want to keep jobs in America? We've got to have a national health insurance program that works for everybody. (Applause).

Finally, we need a public education system that works for everybody. Public education is a basic source of opportunity and optimism in this country, and Republicans don't stand for opportunity or optimism. They stand for taking what's know, George Bush talks about the "ownership society". His version of the ownership society is, "If you have a problem, you own it!" We're going to rebuild our community so we're all in this together. We want optimism and we want opportunity restored to those people who are willing to work hard. The public school system allows folks who work hard to get ahead.

The last piece of this, is about values. Because the truth is, Democrats are different than about 75% of American voters. We are cerebral people. We think about our issues, we choose our candidates based on issues. And issues are important. But if you have a twenty-five page environmental plan, which is wonderful, I tell candidates--put that on your web site. I don't want to hear more than about five seconds of that in a speech. Because you know what people care more about that issues? Issues are important to everybody. But what they care more about is what kind of a human being are you? Who am I going to feel most comfortable to have in my house with my spouse and my kids? What kind of a person is going to be a model for my children?

Moral values do matter. Not in the way the right wingers are all obsessed with gay marriage and abortion and all these divisive issues. They matter, because here's what Americans are really worried about. They're worried about what's on television, that their kids are seeing and they don't have any control over. They're worried about what happens between 3 and 6, because they have to work an hourly job and they can't change their schedule, when theire junior high and high school kids get home, because they know what every parent knows. That an unsupervised junior high or high school student after school is probably heading in the wrong direction. Or that they've got to be nervous about it in any case.

They're worried about the methamphetamine lab the sheriff just found two counties over and they know that's going into their schools. We need to speak to those folks, and we need to speak to those folks with some empathy. That's what values really are about. We actually did a poll on values. Gay marriage, the president's idear of values...half way down. Abortion, lower than half-way down. I'm not saying that it doesn't matter what people think about those things, it does. We should *never* be the party of pro-abortion. We're not the party of pro-abortion. Republicans said that, it's not true. I don't know anybody who's pro-abortion. The difference between the Democratic party and the Republican party, is they think Tom DeLay ought to make personal decisions for individual women, and we think those women are capable of making those decisions for themselves. (Applause).

But we need to speak about the real values of the American people. The values that say that we need to support families in raising kids in a moral way. The values that talk about no child going to bed hungry, while they cut the school lunch program. The values that say that if you work hard all your life and you play by the rules, and you work hard for your family, then you should not have a health program send you to bankrupcy court and lose everything that you have. Those are American values, and those are not Republican values. They are Democratic party values, we need to remind people of that. This debate *ought* to be about moral values, in every single race, because if it is, then we win.

So I'm going to finish by saying what we started with. This is a debate about values. Do you want a corrupt, immoral government in Washington and in Columbus, or do you want honest people back in government again. We will pass what we were talking about this morning. Lobbyist reform, elimination of influence peddling, insistence that people reveal what their conflicts of interest are. And we will do that...the Republicans have a pathetic imitation of a reform package that they announced yesterday, because they found out we were announcing ours today. That won't fly any more. Their days are done, they have no credibility left. You want real change in America, and the Democratic party will provide it. Thanks very much. (Standing ovation.)

**He might be thinking of the caucus, I think in December of 2003, which chose the delegates. Maybe someone else from Ohio can comment on this.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Honest Leadership & Open Government?

So the Democratic leadership has posted its "aggressive" Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. I'm underwhelmed.

You can read the complete plan for yourself; I want to respond briefly to each provision. Maybe some answers will be forthcoming at 2:00 p.m. when the event takes place at the Library of Congress. I hope.

1) Close the revolving door between the Congress and lobbying firms by doubling (from one year to two) the cooling-off period.

This is totally arbitrary to begin with. Why two years? Why not 3? How about 5? Be bold.

2) Significantly expand the information lobbyists must disclose -- including campaign contributions and client fees.

Who will be policing this? Is every lobbying shop now expected to have a compliance officer on staff?

3) Prohibit the receipt of gifts, including gifts of meals, entertainment and travel, from lobbyists.

You know someone is going to find the loophole on this one you can drive a Mack truck through.

4) Shut Down Pay-to-Play Schemes Like the "K Street Project."

Rahm Emmanuel has a lobbyist as treasurer of his campaign committee. So what is the likelihood that another "K Street Project" won't happen?

5) Requires lawmakers to disclose when they are negotiating private sector jobs.

Let's say this rule was in effect when Billy Tauzin negotiated his sweetheart deal with the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers' Association (PhRMA). So what? Would it have stopped him from accepting the job?

6) Prohibit "Dead of Night" Special Interest Provisions.

Right now, Democrats are still in the minority and the Republicans have been shameless about throwing their weight around (e.g., Senselessbrenner turning out the lights). How will this change anything if Democrats don't retake at least the House this year?

7) Zero Tolerance for Contract Cheaters.

Two words: Bunnatine Greenhouse. Greenhouse was chief of civilian contracting for the Army Corps of Engineers and was demoted after she reported serious contracting fraud and abuse related to the awarding of billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to Halliburton. How will this proposal protect another Bunnatine Greenhouse?

8) End rampant cronyism by requiring that any individual appointed to a position involving public safety possess proven credentials.

Who will be making those decisions? The Office of Personnel Management?

Two items are notably absent from this proposal:

1) Enforcement--The lack of discussion about how these rules would be enforced is deeply disappointing. You can talk about reform and integrity now and forevermore but without enforcement, talk is cheap.

2) Campaign finance reform--The party refused to draw a line in the sand about real reforms for financing campaigns. The Democratic party has the least to lose in doing so: it's already in the minority so there's little risk in raising the issue. And in so doing, the Democrats would have been able to draw real distinctions between their plan and the GOP's. Unfortunately, Big Money in financing elections is like crystal meth to politicians--terribly addicting and difficult to wean away from.

In the end, this plan is neither honest nor open.

UPDATE: Kos says, "I've been saying that Democrats have made a mistake by getting sucked into competing "reform" legislation. The problem with the GOP's culture of corruption isn't that existing law doesn't cover their transgressions. It does. So let's take a page out of the NRA playbook and argue for enforcement of existing law.

And once we clean house of all the criminals currently stinking up the joint, then we can enact laws to further clean up the joint."

I feel vindicated.

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Republican Reform: Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge

UPDATE: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Barak Obama, and Rep. Louise Slaughter will be speaking in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress to unveil the Democrats' Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. Most of the Congressional Democratic Delegation will be at this event, scheduled to start around 2:00 pm EST, and will be web-cast LIVE on CSPAN and webcast at Highlights of the Democrats' proposals are here.

Today's Washington Post reports on several Republican plans that would crack down on lobbyists. One plan, floated by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), would specifically ban meals and privately paid travel for lawmakers.

Really? No, not really.

According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group's expense and eat steak on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay.

As usual, there's a loophole that you could drive a Mack truck through: the plan says nothing about reforming campaign finance laws.

The plans offered by Republican leaders yesterday would change two of the three areas of law or regulation that govern lobbyists' behavior: the congressional rules that limit gifts to lawmakers and the laws that dictate the amount of disclosure that lobbyists must give the public.

A third major area -- campaign finance laws -- would go untouched, an omission that amounts to a gaping loophole in efforts to distance lobbyists from the people they are paid to influence.

Anything that members of Congress can now do in the pursuit of money for their reelections will still be permitted in the future -- including accepting lobbyist-paid travel and in-town meals -- unless campaign finance laws are altered.

One result may be an increase in out-of-town "fundraising" events.

Currently, lawmakers and staff members are permitted to take "fact-finding" trips paid for by private groups, including lobbying organizations and corporations. These excursions, whose destinations are often major cities and warm resorts in wintertime, need only be disclosed and include official functions to be acceptable under the rules.

Yesterday, Hastert and high-ranking Senate Republicans, led by Rick Santorum (Pa.) and John McCain (Ariz.), said they would eliminate these privately funded fact-finding trips as part of a comprehensive ethics package that they hoped would begin moving through Congress early next month. The senators also said they would restrict gifts to lawmakers but apparently would not go as far as to ban meals, as Hastert said he intended to propose.

Ye Gods. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The Republicans are going to have to do a much better job than these pissant proposals to prove they are truly the party of reform. Cooperating with federal investigators would be a good start.

And the Democrats? We're supposed to hear from them today about their ethics reform package. In Columbus, Ohio, Howard will be attending an "Honesty in Government" event at 10 A.M. this morning in the North Cross Hall of the Ohio State House. This event coincides with the unveiling of a package of reforms being introduced in Washington by the Democratic leadership in Congress. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House and Senate Democrats will propose their Honest Leadership and Open Government agenda.

I'm curious to hear what this agenda is all about. I sincerely hope the Democrats present a plan for real and substantive reform, not a plan that simply seeks to undermine the Republicans. I also hope it includes a component that is clearly absent in any of the Republican proposals: enforcement.

You can talk about reform and integrity all you want. But unless you have a plan to enforce the rules, any talk of reform is meaningless.

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Howard Dean on the road

Quick post before we need to leave the house to drop our daughter at school (son already left on his school bus) and head downtown to hear Howard Dean speak about ethics reform at the Ohio Statehouse. Hard to believe, after all the begging I and others used to do on Blog for America that "You *gotta* come to Ohio!" Well, he's finally coming. I promise to do the best write-up I possibly can, and I'm bringing my voice recorder so that I can (hopefully) transcribe the speech later on. But right now, as I prepare to leave the house, I am shifting back and forth between exhaustion (I've been working a lot of hours lately), a sense of unreality, and semi-panic that I might forget something I really mean to bring--like the voice recorder or the camera. And all the while in the background there is another mental program running at a subconscious level. My brain is saying its own improvised rosary and it goes something like "Hail Mary, full of grace, pray for me that I don't swallow my own tongue if I get the opportunity to say a few words to Howard today..."


I will definitely have *something* to write up, but if you keep your expectations low you won't be disappointed. ;-) In the meantime, there are some great Howard Dean on the road posts at the DNC blog you might like to check out.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Al Gore for President!

by Subway Serenade

Yesterday I got to see the "New and Improved" Al Gore close up. I watched the speech three times to make sure I wasn't fooling myself. But when he called The People to action, I knew. He's running for President in 2008. Everyone here knows that Howard Dean would be my first choice under any circumstances. But Dean has said, and rightly so, that there would be no sense in him running if the Democratic Party was as dysfunctional as when he assumed the Chairmanship.

Throughout the speech yesterday I found myself saying "Yes, Mr. President." at least half a dozen times. Not because he was saying anything new but, like Dean, Al Gore has become comfortable with the Truth his heart speaks. It saddens me deeply that it it's taken more than five years for a Democrat to say that "The President has repeatedly broken the law." and that such lawbreaking represents "a pattern of indifference." But it's finally been said, and Gore has picked up the standard dropped so badly by Kerry and Edwards.

Although most folks don't realize it, Global climate change is THE issue facing all of humanity. We should have begun what was necessary when Carter was President, and now we have genuine disasters looming on the horizon. I think that Al Gore has a keen grasp of the problem and how dramatic changes in the energy sector could go a long way toward reversing the damage already done. On nearly every other issue, I trust that he would take what went right with the Clinton years and take a new path that would move us toward the twenty first century that this world has long hoped for. But most of all we need a statesman who can articulate that direction, one who knows how to seize his moment in history. I think Al Gore did this yesterday.

When this Statesman finally puts words to his de facto announcement of candidacy yesterday, I believe his running mate will be none other than the man whose leadership takes back both houses of Congress this year.

Draft Al Gore for President 2008

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Senate Dems: Don't toy with me

Over at Kos, georgia 10 reports the following:

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said he and Committee Chairman Arlen Specter discussed the timing of the vote over the holiday weekend and agreed to move it to Jan. 24th. [...]

Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to serve on the Supreme Court will be voted on by the Committee on Jan. 24 and the full Senate is to begin debate the following day.

Leahy says he has "assured Chairman Specter that no Democratic Senator" will ask for a second delay in the vote, and Specter, according to Leahy, does not expect any delays coming from the GOP.

Harry Reid isn't letting the Democrats be rushed into an up-or-down vote:

"This is a key swing vote on the Supreme Court and Democrats are not going to be rushed into anything," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

I'm hoping the Democrats are using the delay productively to their advantage. Could they have a really big rabbit to pull out of their hat--like a filibuster?

One can only hope.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Grassroots for Cegelis, Part II

Bill T posted this in the comments last night, and I thought it was worth sharing on the front page...

Wanted to comment on the Christine Cegelis thread. Hope this is the right place to do it -- don't really understand these blog thingies (I'm an e-mail person myself).

I first started volunteering for Christine in the summer of 2004. Really got hooked when she was the only candidate or officeholder to march in our inaugural Disability Pride Parade (I was already legally blind when Howard Dean got me involved in actual campaign work). Nothing has changed since -- I've signed up to coordinate a handful of precincts in the run-up to the primary.

I'm not angry about the Beltway types' decision to run a candidate against her. A bit shocked, maybe. But my basic reaction is that if we're going to have the playoffs before the regular season, we simply have to buckle down and win. And I think there's a good chance we will. The Republicans have for decades dominated a district that is coming close to being evenly split because they put shoe leather on the pavement. Christine is doing that. Duckworth isn't -- her Web site doesn't even give people an opportunity to volunteer. Her advisers think they can win with a pure air war. I think otherwise. And when Christine wins in March (yes, I said March), she'll be that much stronger for the fight against Roskam.

A lot of Christine's volunteers are from Democracy for Illinois Linkups. That was especially true of the early volunteers in 2004 (how I initially got involved). And I've lost track of how many have endorsed her and are sending volunteers this time around. At least five I can count. Somebody commented that they didn't see much about her on the Democracy for Illinois Web site, but if you look you'll see her name at the top of the candidates' list and most of the events listed being related to her campaign. That's about the most you can expect from an organization that doesn't even exist on paper. If you don't see her near the top of the news posts, that's because this is old news in Illinois.

I had been concerned that DFA --meaning Burlington -- would move too slowly to have an impact on the primary. That was reinforced by the fact that in 2005 they didn't make any endorsements at all until Illinois elections were past. But on the conference call with Jim Dean last Tuesday I had a chance to bring up Cegelis and Dean's response was extremely positive. I expect to see an endorsement -- soon, too, since I was able to remind Dean that Illinois early voting started in just six weeks.

Someone has said, "Victory is the best revenge." That's our motto in the Cegelis campaign. It would be great if people here could help. And donations aren't the only possibility -- phone banking and data entry are things that can be done from anywhere in the country. If you really want to stick it to Rahm Emanuel, as well as prove that the grassroots has a place in American politics, go to

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MViMV Guest Blog

Tonight's guest blogger at the MViMV Blog will be...

Drum roll please...


I know you all have the "pleasure" of my company every day here on HEP, but if you would like more information about the upcoming Grassroots Retreat in Upstate NY, or would like to talk about other past or upcoming Grassroots Retreats, please hop on over to the MViMV Blog from 8pm-9pm EST tonight.

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It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

From listener...

What's happening in your area to remember and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.? Here's what happened in Burlington, Vermont. I wonder if Howard Dean was in attendance. Since he has long kept a poster of MLK, Jr on his office wall, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Judy Richardson Speaks at MLK Remembrance

Judy Richardson, Associate Producer of the six time Emmy Award winning Eyes on the Prize delivered the 2006 Burlington Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. address on Sunday, January 15, at 4 p.m. in the Contois Auditorium of Burlington City Hall.

Ms. Richardson is the Co-Producer of Malcolm X: Make it Plain. Ms. Richardson brings a long-time civil rights background to her Burlington address. Her documentary work has brought her experiences with the Civil Rights Movement in the South and activist groups in the North together.

Ms. Richardson has authored numerous articles and lectures nationally about the movement, its history and its relevance to issues of today.

The 2006 Burlington King remembrance was co-sponsored by the City of Burlington, Church Street Marketplace and United Way of Chittenden County. The event was free and open to the public.

If you can't get out to participate in a MLK, Jr. Day event, check out this site! It even has a Crossword Puzzle and History Quiz!

Here are some of my favourite MLK, Jr. Quotes. What are yours?

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
Martin Luther King Jr., Accepting Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 1964

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
~ Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, and thusly, carrying our whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
~ Martin Luther King Jr., A Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 1963

A riot is the language of the unheard.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr., from an address given in Birmingham, Alabama, Dec. 31, 1963

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
~ Martin Luther King Jr., December 11, 1964

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace be in your hearts, and on your lips, and in your feet, Dear Kindred!
~ listener

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Gore on C-SPAN

Gore is on C-SPAN right now.

Can't possibly keep up, but hopefully there will be a transcript available later. Gore is really ON!

Here's a live blogging thread about the speech on Kos. And another thread at Booman Tribune.

UPDATE: Text of the Gore speech available at Raw Story.


During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.

But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.
The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power.

A commitment to openness, truthfulness and accountability also helps our country avoid many serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned from recently classified declassified documents that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false information. We now know that the decision by Congress to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also based on false information. America would have been better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.
Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.
A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

Some more links you might be interested in...
Grassroots for Gore
Al Gore 2008

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Monday Comics

Another bank holiday, another Monday comics thread:

And my favorite for today (I'm a Steelers Fan): Here We Go Steelers! Here We Go!

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Open Thread

Man, I'm tired. Thank goodness for a three-day weekend. (Anyone have a post in honor of Martin Luther King that I can put up tomorrow?)

Anyway, I think this panda has the right idea.

'Night, everybody.

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Bush and his "spy powers"

I linked to this article from the Columbus Free Press in an earlier thread, and JayDean suggested that this was something that should get front page attention. I certainly agree. I should point out that it was a Free Press article by Bob Fitrakis, Diebold, electronic voting, and the vast right-wing conspiracy that first made me aware of the real dangers that Diebold-style vote counting pose to the future of any sort of representative government in the United States. Occasionally I see Bob around campus at the local community college, and when I saw him a couple months ago I commented about how frustrating it is that we can't seem to get any traction on this issue. If you can't verify that your vote is counted correctly, what do *any* of the other political discussions we have matter? As he says in his most recent article: What part of the headline in the Columbus Dispatch: "Diebold vote machine can be hacked, test finds" don't people understand?

Bob Fitrakis has a new piece in the current issue of the Free press, asking Did NSA help Bush hack the vote? It connects the dots between older, presumably "unsexy" stories like the issue of "black box" voting with the newer more alarming revelations about Bush claiming "spy powers".

What do we make of the President boldly proclaiming that he has "spy powers?" Does he have X-ray vision too?

When he and his cronies crawl up into Cheney's bunker with the sign on the door "He-man Woman-haters Club. No Girls Allowed (except Condi)," do they synchronize their spy decoder rings and decide what new absurd folly to unleash on the world?

No, that excerpt was not vital to the story, but I couldn't pass on including it, because I get a kick out of the imagery. That's probably going to stay with me the way Jon Stewart's joke a few years ago about Bush running downstairs on the morning of President's Day in his footie pajamas, anxious to find out what presents he'd gotten. But while the article has plenty of snark, it addresses some pretty serious issues about questions we need to be asking. And while we know that some will dismiss the questions as "tin foil hat" stuff, I would maintain that all such questions remain on the table as legitimate speculations as long as Bush clings to his assertion that he can do whatever he feels is necessary, no questions asked.
Illegal invasion of Iraq, suspending writs of habeus corpus, secret CIA torture dungeons, or election rigging? Most people outgrow such childish games and fantasies by the time they're ten years old. And by age twelve, most understand that the President is not a king. Or a dictator. That U.S. citizens have inalienable rights.

That there are such things as search warrants. If the executive branch of government is going to conduct surveillance on the American people, they have to get a warrant from the judicial branch specifying what they're looking for and the reasons for the search.

The Bush administration's utter contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the specific information we now know about its use of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance network should further call into question Bush's 2004 presidential "election." In a recent revelation, we have learned that the NSA shared the fruits of its illegal spying on behalf of Bush with other government agencies.

What are e-voting machines and central tabulators that pass the voting results over electronic networks from the internet to phone lines? No more than data easily spied on and tapped into. The Franklin County Board of Elections, for example, tells us that it was a "transmission error" in Gahanna Ward 1B, where 638 people cast votes and Bush, the Wonder Boy, received 4258 votes. It's not magic, nor is it an accident or an act of God. If the vote total wasn't so hugely illogical, no one would have caught it.

Bush and his cabal are notorious for collecting raw intelligence data and using it for their political gain. While many progressives accept the fact that our government manufactured an illegal war in Iraq and routinely violate human rights worldwide, many are reluctant to accept that they would spy on John Kerry and rig the election - which is very easy to do when the NSA does your bidding.

Read the rest of the article here. And then check out this excellent diary by georgia10, A problem of hope and Filibuster Bush, Impeach Alito by PaulLoeb. Yes, the Alito issue *is* related to what I've posted above, especially given Alito's views on executive powers.

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Prophet := False

Originally posted on The Underground Railroad

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
Matthew 7:15-23

Recently, a certain politician who calls himself a Christian and a religious leader declared that Israeli Prime Minister Arik Sharon's stroke was an act of divine judgment for conceding land to the Palestinians. Now when it comes to Israel I'm solidly in the Likud way of thinking, but this assertion is positively insane on many levels. Have you ever wanted to gag someone just to shut their mouth? Has anyone's words so infuriated you that you though it might come to physical violence? Have you ever had to deal with a False Prophet?

The first, and most obvious flaw in Robertson's assertion is the fact that Sharon is still alive. I would challenge you to find an instance in the Bible where God struck someone down for their disobedience and they lived for a couple weeks/months/years afterward. Robertson's pronouncement does not conform to Biblical revelation, and that is the first and easiest way to discern a False Prophet from a Prophet of the Lord. Our Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever and what He reveals today will conform to what He has revealed in the past and be confirmed by the Word He has spoken in the past.

The second flaw in Robertson's assertion is that God never promised anything to a secular Israel, and that is indeed what the current nation of Israel is - a nation after Omri's own heart. Israel, as a nation, no more honors the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob than does America honor His son, Jesus Christ. Both are secular nations that (barely) tolerate religious sentiments - i.e. "keep that crap to yourself and we'll get along fine" - but the secular nation of Israel itself is not God's own possession among all the peoples, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. People forget or ignore that God's promise to Israel was conditional: "IF you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, THEN you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Has the secular nation of Israel kept God's commandments? Not any more than has the secular nation of America kept His commandments, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, yet false prophets continually speak of God blessing the disobedient. It's almost as if Robertson's never read Deuteronomy 27-28.

The third flaw in Robertson's assertion - and this gets us back to our text - is that the spirit in which it was uttered had nothing to do with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control. Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits." Fruit trees don't bear nuts, and Robertson's assertion bears no resemblance to the fruit of the true vine - Jesus Christ. Is it loving to publicly castigate someone - someone who supposedly was a friend - as being smitten by God for disobedience? People usually talk to their friends and about their enemies. When Bill Clinton was going through his public scourging over his affair with Monica Lewinsky Al Mohler went on Larry King Live to publicly call Clinton everything but a child of God on national TV. However, when Bob Livingston - Republican Speaker-elect of the House - was caught with his member in someone other than his wife, Mohler privately sent him a letter encouraging him to resign. People talk to their friends and about their enemies, and Robertson treated Arik like an enemy, not a friend. Was this just a case of Robertson's mouth moving before his brain engaged? Maybe, but that would be the "self-control" fruit that is missing. Jesus said that we will know them by their fruit, and Robertson's "fruit" is not in keeping with the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

This is true of many Republicans who call themselves Christians. They cut funding to programs that clothe the needy, programs that feed the hungry, programs that help the imprisoned and the immigrants. They oppose universal health care for the healthy, the sick and the dying. James asks, "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." These Republicans who call themselves Christians comfort the already-comfortable and afflict the already-afflicted, when James said that those very people are the ones who oppress you and personally drag us into court, who blaspheme the fair name of Jesus Christ by which we have been called. Politics makes for strange bedfellows, but Jesus Christ expects His bride - and marriage bed - to be undefiled, while certain False Prophets seem to be riding the beast like a harlot clothed in scarlet.

This brings up the fourth flaw in Robertson's assertion, or more accurately, the flaw in Robertson's apparent thinking. Robertson seems to think that by forcing an all-out war in the Middle East he can force God's hand in sending Jesus back for the Church. Robertson seems to think that expediting the possession of all of Biblical "Israel" by modern-day Israelis will force God to expedite Jesus' return. If that is true then it is utter foolishness, for Jesus said that no man knows the day nor the hour when the Son of Man returns - not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. There was once someone else who thought that he could force God's hand, that he could orchestrate events to force God to do that which He seemed to be taking too long to accomplish. There was a man who once tried to do what was right in his own eyes, what he thought would advance God's work on earth, only on his timetable.

His name was Judas Iscariot.

Much like Judas, Pat Robertson has betrayed the cause of Jesus Christ. Much like Judas, Pat Robertson's perception of God's intentions are dead wrong. And much like Judas, Pat Robertson will be remembered for the harm that he caused the Church, not the good. Remember, Judas walked with Jesus for his entire ministry. When Jesus fed the 5000, Judas was there. When Jesus healed the sick, Judas was there. When Jesus cast out demons, Judas was there. When Jesus sent the 12 out to minister to Israel, Judas was one of them. Pat Robertson has done some good things for the kingdom of God, but like Judas - who was their treasurer - the bad that he has done will outlive the good, such that no one will be able to name anything good that he has ever done.

That's already true in the eyes of most Americans today.

There is a war going on right now and it seems that some people don't realize that they are opposing the very cause which they claim to be fighting for. I believe that there will be many people who call themselves Christians who find themselves the Judgment Seat of Christ saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not vote Republican in Your name, and in Your name cast out homosexuals, and in Your name oppose many abortions?" just to hear Jesus say, "I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness." The battle is for control of your soul, between humanistic self-determination and a mission of submission to the Divine Mind. So choose this day whom you will serve, be it the "gods" of this political realm or the idols of your own heart, but as for me and my house we will serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pat Robertson seems to think that he doesn't have to submit to anyone - what about you?

The choice is yours.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to exercise your freedom to choose,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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