Oval Office Address Open Thread

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President Obama addressed the nation on the occasion of the official withdrawal of combat forces in Iraq.  I am interested in your thoughts regarding the address and ask that you consider the following questions:  (1) Do you believe that the combat mission in Iraq was worth the cost in blood and treasure to the American people?  (2) Do you believe Bush’s trillion dollar imperial crusade improved Iraq in any way at all?  (3) Did the President reassure you that he is sufficiently turning his focus to domestic concerns–the economy in particular?  (4)  Does Obama look comfortable sitting behind the big desk and if not, why not? (5) What didn’t you hear that you expected and needed to hear?

Talk to me.  Don’t be shy.

The Purpose Driven Invocation

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With the announcement of Rick Warren’s selection by the inaugural committee to give the invocation at the most historic inaugural ceremony in American History, it shows that the realpolitik that is Barack Obama never misses an opportunity to make a symbolic appeal. The selection of Rick Warren is significant because it extends an olive branch of tolerance to the religious conservative and evangelical christian communities that are historically so resistant to Democratic Presidential candidates. Showing deference and respect to a moderate conservative powerhouse like Rick Warren, an admitted McCain supporter, narrows the psychological chasm between people of faith and the Democratic Party.

Don’t believe me? How about the Pew Forum?

Overall, 45% of Protestants voted for the Democrat, an increase of five points since 2004…Interestingly, Obama’s gains were among white evangelical Protestants (5 points), a traditionally Republican constituency, rather than among white Protestants who do not describe themselves as evangelical or born-again (no gain).

..Just as Obama made gains among most religious traditions, he also held steady or improved over Kerry’s 2004 support among people of all levels of religious observance. More than four-in-ten people (43%) who attend religious services regularly, that is, once a week or more, supported Obama, compared with 39% who supported Kerry.

Obama’s gains were particularly pronounced among the subgroup who attends religious services most often – that is, more than once a week; 43% of this group supported Obama, up from 35% who supported Kerry in 2004. Obama also received support from nearly six-in-ten voters (57%) who attend church occasionally (a few times a month or a few times a year), while Kerry won 53% of this group.

Rick Warren, despite his faith based a conservatism, is not a sanctimonious phony like a Pat Robertson or James Dobson. He is not totally bound by the straight jacket of homophobic religiosity and judgmental hypocrisy. Pastor Warren does not believe he’s on a personal mission from God to galvanize religious conservatives into supporting the Republican Party and it’s entire slate of right-wing candidates. While he is clearly on the conservative side of the abortion divide and marriage rights for same-sex couples, he also believes that same sex couples are entitled to partnership benefits, insurance, and hospital visitation rights. That tells me he has a firm grasp on reality and has both feet firmly planted on Earth. Robertson and Dobson are literally a stonesthrow away from homicide. Their unbounded intolerance and malevolent influence polarizes people of faith and goads them into negating the gospel they profess to live by.

I know that some of you find my criticisms of Barack Obama interesting and thought provoking, but this ain’t one of my critiques. I am more interested in making policy based criticisms instead of criticisms based on political correctness. The politics of this invocation are crystal clear and I admire Obama’s peerless skills.

Barack Obama, unlike the ignorant patrician who preceeded him, is really trying to unify the nation. I can’t think of a better way to do that than inviting Rick Warren to give a purpose driven invocation.

Michelle and Laura tour the White House

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After arguing passionately over proposition 8, I feel that you all could use some humor.  This is my first attempt at humor in a long while.   It stops when I am depressed and I am trying to recover.

I understand Michelle Obama got a grand tour of their new digs the other day and a little birdie told me that this is how it went down.

Mrs. Bush: (with clenched teeth and squeezed butt cheeks)   Welcome to the White House, Mrs. Obama.  It is a (makes air quotes) “fabulous honor” for me to introduce you to the loyal household staff and give you the grand tour of the entire residence and state rooms.

Mrs. Obama: Mrs. Bush, the cameras are gone.  You can cut the act.

Mrs. Bush: Whew.  Thank You.  I didn’t know how long I could’ve kept up the act.  The truth of the matter is that you people frighten me.  I just don’t know what this world is coming to.  Your husband’s election over a perfectly good white man is just not right if you ask me.

Mrs. Obama: No damnbody asked you.

Mrs. Bush: Anyhoo, I’ve had two Xanax and two Bloody Mary’s so we need to make this quick before they kick in.

Mrs. Obama: I can handle it from here. Don’t you have some embarrassingly servile House Negro who can show me around while you sleep it off?

Mrs. Bush: Condi is either shopping for shoes or in the Middle East and George fired that turncoat Colin Powell four years ago.

Mrs. Obama: No, Ma’am.  I didn’t mean those embarrassingly servile House Negroes, I meant the Black servants that wait on you hand and foot like they’re still on a plantation.

Mrs. Bush: Ron Christie, Armstrong Williams, and Alphonso Jackson are no longer with the Administration, dear.

Mrs. Obama: Nevermind. I see your (makes air quotes) “medication” is beginning to kick in.  Let’s just move on.

Mrs. Bush: Mrs. Obama, this is the White House Red Room, one of the White House’s many color themed historic parlors.   In keeping with this theme, your husband could entertain his many socialist and communist sympathizers and collaborators as they plot to redistribute the hard earned wealth of the the richest 1%.

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Mrs. Obama: Since were on the red theme, is this the room where your husband concocted the twin red herrings of weapons of mass destruction and yellow cake uranium from Africa as a pretext for war in Iraq? Cat got your tongue?  That’s what I thought. Why dontcha just keep it moving.

Mrs. Bush: Mrs. Obama, this is the famous Lincoln Bedroom that the previous president kept as busy as a brothel on a Saturday night by wheeling his wealthy campaign donors in and out at lightning speed. Needless to say, we’ve restored the room to its intended purpose.  How do you people plan to honor President Lincoln?

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Mrs. Obama: The best way to honor President Lincoln, Mrs Bush, is to unify the nation and preserve the union he so vigorously defended, unlike your draft-dodging, chickenhawk husband, and to work across the aisle with mutual respect and bipartisanship.

Mrs. Bush: Michelle, dear, here we have the historic Treaty Room as renamed by Jacqueline Kennedy, your role-model.   Speaking of Mrs. Kennedy, I do hope that you can keep better track of your husband than Jackie could. Democrat wives seem to have a problem in that department.  Anyhoo, The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in this room by President Kennedy in 1963. Your husband can use the room to surrender our nation’s sovereignty to the U.N. and leave us defenseless in the War on Terror.

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Mrs. Obama: Treaties, now that’s a concept I wasn’t aware the Administration knew anything about.   Have you ever heard about the Geneva Conventions?  No?  Neither has GeeShrubya.   As for keeping track of my man, nobody whose ever worked for Barack ever slipped up and referred to him as “my husband,” like your girl, Condi.  I know my man, but it must be sheer torture wondering whether your husband has a taste for brown sugar, honey.  Barack certainly does, and as you can see, (with both hands on her hips) that’s one mission he accomplished when he married me.

Mrs. Bush: (Flustered) Well I never…

Mrs. Obama: That probably explains alot.  Can we wrap this up?

Mrs. Bush: Last on our tour is the Diplomatic Reception Room, which serves as an entrance to the White House from the South Grounds for the members of the first family and for visiting dignitaries and ambassadors arriving to officially present their credentials to the President.  Y’all can use this room to pray to Mecca five times a day and receive all your terrorist supporters like Ahmadinejad and Hamas.

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Mrs. Obama: Diplomacy.  Now that’s another concept I am certain y’all aren’t familiar with.  How could you be…what with your preoccupation with preemptive war and indiscriminate bombing of defenseless civilians and all.  It’s hard to find time to grapple with the complexities of international law and the rules of war when your wars are just shameless grabs for oil and economic supremacy.

Mrs. Bush: Mrs. Obama, that concludes the official tour. Is there anything else you’d like to see?

Mrs. Obama: You mean other than seeing you, Lynn Cheney, and Mrs. Rumsfeld visiting your husbands in federal prison?

Mrs. Bush: Yes.

Mrs. Obama: I’d really love to see you carry your flat ass upstairs and pack.  Your time’s up.

Hate disguised as dissent

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Virginia blogger Vivian Paige, a good friend, is having a discussion on her space about the above graphic used by blogger Howling Latina, also a friend of mine. She highlights the fallout in the blogging community as Howling Latina was de-listed by Leftyblogs, a powerful ally in driving traffic to like minded progressive sites.

Vivian believes that the issue is purely one of free speech. She’s half right. However, there is no constitutional right to be listed on leftyblogs when your attacks on the Democratic nominee are either the same or worse than those on the far-right. I also believe that Hate Speech is not constitutionally protected. The aforementioned cartoon skirts a dangerous line between meanness and hate.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve written the following open letter to Howling Latina:

Dearest Mimi,

As a friend and fan, it surprised and pained me to see this graphic on your site. I have admired your strong Christian convictions and your committed and progressive Democratic activism. As a believer in the First Amendment I will always defend the right to free speech no matter how objectionable I may find it. But whether you’re ready to acknowledge it or not, this cartoon graphic crosses the line.

Sweetie, this cartoon graphic is gratuitously mean-spirited, disgusting and is rightfully construed as a racist insult. As a Cuban Latina, I thought that the inimical legacy of white supremacy in your ancestral home would be clear to you as a line never to be crossed. I say this as a progressive Obama critic capable of using provocative sexual innuendo and inappropriate imagery to make a legitimate point. I’ve made it clear to my readers that Obama has strayed far from what is both prudent and progressives many times. His equivocations on the road to the nomination enraged and saddened me, as well as others, but what you’re putting out there as criticism is neither principled nor Christian and I know that you’re better than that, honey.

Hillary has given up the ghost. She has endorsed Obama in the spirit of unity and he has praised her lavishly and returned the favor by asking the DNC to seat both Michigan and Florida‘s full voting strength. The race for the nomination is over, Mimi. The standard bearer of the Democratic party is an imperfect vessel named Barack Obama.

If you cannot accept that reality and support your party, then I can only draw the conclusion that your opposition is about race. Both you and Vivian dismiss the divisive and insensitive racial politics played by the Clintons during the nomination fight as acceptable. I respectfully disagree. But where we should all agree is that using the same racial attacks as the far-right on Barack will yield nothing positive and will continue to give aid and comfort to the supporters of John McCain and the criminal syndicate that masquerades as the Republican party.

This posture makes you look as ridiculous as the corporate whore and GOP sellout better known as Joe Lieberman. You remember him, right? He claimed to be against the Bush Agenda as he ran for and lost the 2004 Democratic Nomination for President and the 2006 Democratic nomination for the Senate. He then got in bed with them to win re-election and has been screwing us all ever since. It should be worth noting that Barack Obama endorsed him for re-election in the Democratic primary in addition to campaigning and raising money for him and that Lieberman returned the favor by endorsing John McCain.

This is not you, sweetheart. I encourage you to search your heart and to pray about this. I have every confidence that you’ll do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Skeptical Brotha

 

Condi Busts a Move

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Condoleezza Rice has made a series of overtures in recent weeks toward the wingnut establishment which indicate that she is surreptitiously campaigning to be named as John McCain’s running mate. Now that her time as Bush’s concubine and plantation Negress is drawing to a close, she is busting a move toward conservative apostate John McCain. Her fealty toward Bush no longer has the cachet it once did and she is looking to replace one massuh with another.

Content and empowered as Bush’s Foreign Minstrel and the black face of American Imperialism and White Supremacy, Condi now sees it in her best interests to contest for the Vice Presidency at this time. The GOP consensus is that Barack Obama has a lock on the Democratic nomination, so the time is right for Condoleezza Rice. I have written of this possibility in the past and I clearly wasn’t too far off the mark.This has been out there for awhile but I felt that today is the perfect slow news day to discuss it. Have at it

Bastardizing the Dream: Alveda King

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This is the week set aside in honor of one our own, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Normally a time for celebration, I have come to dread our annual commemoration because of photo-op’s like the one above with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, has fallen off the mountaintop, bumped her damn head, and become a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

 

Employed full-time by the religious right, she is an aggressive pro-life activist, minister, and professional public speaker. As she has moved steadily to the right, Alveda has provided political cover and given full license to those who would distort, defame, and destroy the dream of her late Uncle in the name of a fictitious colorblindness that is really white supremacy.

 

A long time opponent of Affirmative Action, she is entangled in a network of right-wing preachers hell bent on destroying the progressive social change that Dr. King fought for. While Dr. King spoke of the power of love and the creation of the beloved community, the glue that holds their little movement together is hatred, homophobia and a fixation with stopping same sex couples who love each other from having the right to marry.

 

In the month of Mrs. King’s death, Alveda participated in “Justice Sunday,” a wingnut gala consisting of the full constellation of reactionary politicians and their talabangelical brethren dedicated to fighting for the confirmation of Bush’s judicial nominees like Samuel Alito. Alito, an archconservative with a history of hostility to civil rights, provided the fifth vote to strike down voluntary Affirmative Action plans in the public schools last year. Weakening the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education without the guts to admit it, Alito and his allies on the court dealt the principle of ending separate but equal education a mortal wound.

 

Among those beating the drums of fascist religiosity with Alveda were Justice Sunday colleagues Tony Perkins, Head of the right-wing Family Research Council and a former Louisiana politician who paid white supremacist and neo-Nazi David Duke for his mailing list, and Jerry Falwell, a former segregationist who smeared Martin Luther King, Jr. as a tool of communists.

During most of Dubya’s first term, he found some way to paw Coretta Scott King in a manner that made my blood boil. Born on the same day as my grandmother two years apart, Mrs. King was always an icon in my household. I would NEVER allow George W. Bush to put his damn hands on my grandmother and I could never understand why Mrs. King visited the White House of a man who stole the Presidency. Her graciousness was always taken advantage of by this White House and she invariably became a colored prop in Dubya’s annual racist stage play of deceit every third Monday in January.

 

My personal favorite was the 2003 King Holiday. Within days of the holiday, the Administration announced a bold frontal assault on Affirmative Action by filing a brief against the Affirmative Action Admissions programs for both the University of Michigan and its School of Law. Writing a powerful Five-to-Four opinion upholding the principle of Affirmative Action, Sandra Day O’Connor ended her twenty years of steady opposition to Affirmative Action programs. Within two years, she resigned from the court only to be replaced by Alveda’s choice, Samuel Alito. It is only a matter of time now before Affirmative Action is destroyed by the Roberts Court.

 

Monday, I kept hearing reports of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee being invited to attend King Day services at Ebenezer Baptist Church by a member of “the King Family.” While not identified, I have a hunch that the black fool in question was Alveda. She was the one sitting next to the presidential contender that told White South Carolina Republicans that they shouldn’t tolerate anybody dictating to them about where, when and how to fly the confederate flag. After desecrating the sanctuary with his presence, Huckabee used the occasion to accept the endorsement of a group of black wingnut preachers, the “Coalition of African American Pastors,” a group Alveda has claimed a board membership of on her website.

 

 

This week, Martin Luther King III, “deeply” concerned about politicians misappropriating the legacy of his father, wrote John Edwards a beautiful letter telling him to keep fighting and stay in the race. If he was truly concerned about folks distorting the dream, he would have stopped his Mama from being used by George W. Bush, stopped his sister Bernice from demonizing gays and lesbians, put his foot down to permit the man who paid for his Daddy’s funeral, Harry Belafonte, to eulogize his mother instead of the ignorant patrician in the White House, and done something to put his cousin Alveda in check.

 

As adherents of the drum major for justice who preached non-violence, it would be unseemly for the members of the King family to take Alveda aside and beat her ass until she remembers what the hell the dream is really about. Nevertheless, let me be the first one to say to the King family that all of black America would happily forgive y’all if you laid down the principles of non-violence temporarily to “lay hands” on Alveda with “the love of the Lord.”

 

I won’t tell nobody and I am quite sure that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, a King family friend, would help. After all, she has kept her girls outta jail, despite the mess they’ve been involved in, and I’m very sure a discrete word from the mayor to the Po-po would squash it. If Shirley can’t help, somebody can always call Bishop Thomas Weeks, Juanita Bynum’s soon-to-be ex-husband. The way I see it he’ll pop either the question, Alveda, or both.

 

Although I can’t help but lampoon Alveda and make light of this situation for the sake of my fragile sanity, bastardizing Dr. King’s dream is no laughing matter.

Gonzales resigns

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Hat Tip: by Todd J. Gilman, Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – Al Gonzales was a corporate lawyer with little political experience when Texas’ newly elected governor stopped by his office to size him up. They hit it off instantly, the scion of a political dynasty and the son of migrant workers.

Mr. Gonzales became counsel to the governor, and for the last dozen years, hitched his career to that of his patron.

But the ride has ended. Mr. Gonzales announced his resignation Monday morning after more than two years as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general. He submitted the resignation to the president last Friday, and the president accepted Sunday during a meeting at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice,” Gonzales said, announcing his resignation effective Sept. 17 in a terse statement. He took no questions and gave no reason for stepping down.

The announcement ends a months-long battle with Republican and Democratic critics who said Mr. Gonzales should be forced out over the handling of FBI terrorism investigations and the firing of U.S. attorneys.

It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons,” President Bush said Monday in Waco, portraying Mr. Gonzales as the victim of “months of unfair treatment.”

Mr. Bush called him “a man of integrity, decency and principle,” and touted among Mr. Gonzales’ accomplishments some of the same legislation and policies that have most angered civil liberties groups, including the Patriot Act and the law allowing accused terrorists to stand trial by military commission.

Solicitor General Paul Clement will be acting attorney general until a replacement is found and confirmed by the Senate, Bush said.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff was among those mentioned as possible successors, though a senior administration official said the matter had not been raised with Chertoff. Bush leaves Washington next Monday for Australia, and Gonzales’ replacement might not be named by then, the official said.

When Mr. Gonzales moved to the White House, he became the legal architect of some of the administration’s most controversial policies – on torture, domestic snooping, detention of terror suspects – and a central player in fights over reshaping the judiciary to the president’s liking.

It was a mutually beneficial relationship, until the uproar over the bungled, politically charged firings of U.S. attorneys.

“They just bonded. Al is a very, very fine lawyer. He has a way of being direct and thorough and was just a great counselor, a great consigliere,” said Houston attorney Pat Oxford, a longtime friend of the president who was with him that day in Houston, when Mr. Gonzales’ career turned and Mr. Bush became his sole client. “It’s worked perfectly, until this moment.”

The Harvard-trained lawyer from Humble, Texas, loyally protected George W. Bush’s secrets and pushed the Bush agenda through five assignments, endearing himself with utter discretion on such matters as the governor’s youthful brushes with the law, and with valued legal advice on such knotty topics as death row clemency requests..

Mr. Gonzales worked for Mr. Bush as counsel to the governor, Texas secretary of state, justice on the state supreme court, White House counsel and, finally, U.S. attorney general – a cabinet post, the nation’s top law enforcement official, an achievement far beyond the dreams of his immigrant parents.

It was a meteoric rise, and a spectacular fall.

Critics say Mr. Gonzales can blame himself for the bungled firings, providing Congress with contradictory and misleading explanations and opening the administration to allegations of cronyism, politically-motivated interference and plain bad judgment.

“Embodying the American dream is not sufficient reason to serve as attorney general,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said recently. “The attorney general of the United States is the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer.”

Now, it’s back to private life for Mr. Gonzales. Mr. Oxford said in a recent interview that, “Any law firm in America would be honored to have Al Gonzales. … His career is still on the upward trajectory.”

The departure lets the president shed a major political albatross, but also costs him a longtime confidant. And it marks the near-purge of Mr. Bush’s Texas inner circle. Political guru Karl Rove’s last day at the White House is later this week. Adviser Dan Bartlett and White House counsel Harriet Miers, a former Dallas councilwoman, quit earlier this year.

It’s not clear why, after months of demands for his firing, Mr. Gonzales finally succumbed.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, speaking Monday morning on Fox News, called it a “sad day” and blamed a “hyperpartisan atmosphere” in Washington for the attorney general’s ouster.

“I think he was probably just worn down by the criticism,” said Mr. Cornyn who, like Mr. Gonzales, had served as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. “I guess Al Gonzales had had enough.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Mr. Gonzales had turned the Justice Department into “a political arm of the White House,” and had “suffered a severe crisis of leadership that allowed our justice system to be corrupted by political influence.”

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., emphasized the “cloud of suspicion” that continues to hang over the attorney general.

Accusing him of manipulating the nation’s justice system for partisan political gains, Mr. Conyers indicated that Congress will keep pressing the administration for more details about political motives behind the firing of U.S. attorneys. “The continued stonewalling of the White House in the U.S. Attorney scandal has deprived the American people of the truth. If the power of the prosecutor has been misused in the name of partisanship, we deserve a full airing of the facts,” Mr. Conyers said.

Matthew Orwig, a Dallas lawyer who served President Bush for more than five years as chief federal prosecutor in East Texas, said Mr. Gonzales still has plenty of friends in Texas and will be welcomed home “with open arms” – and, probably, a decent private sector job.

But “whether he’s at the height of his marketability – that’s been somewhat devalued. Even his friends will have to say that his term was not successful,” said Mr. Orwig, who stepped down three months ago as U.S. Attorney and is now managing partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal’s Dallas office.

“To a person, every one of the US attorneys who was asked to leave has more talent and integrity than the people who wanted them to leave, and I still don’t think there’s any plausible explanation of a good reason for the administration to ask them to leave,” Mr. Orwig said. “…At the beginning of his term people were concerned that Al Gonzales didn’t have the experience or talent to be attorney general, and by the end of his term people were concerned that Al just didn’t have the character. Why he held on, I don’t know.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report