Could it/is it happening here?

Looks a lot like facism is coming to this country. When judges are no longer allowed to interpret the law so that it is fair to all people and not just those in charge (ie straight, white, Protestant men) then we've got a problem. Case in point: today the House passed a resolution to protect the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance from further court challenges.

Come again? They did what?

Yes, they passed a law saying that no one can challenge their Christian activism and remove "under God" from the Pledge.

By passing this law, there admitting that they're wrong. They're admitting that the phrase should not be in the Pledge. They're making the Pledge about what they want it to be about and not something for all Americans.

They're pushing their Christian activism on you. What's next? A ban on alcohol?

America has always been about freedom of religion
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
and the ability to escape the dictates and tyrannies of people in other lands that insist you live like them. Now, we're dictating and tyrannically imposing, essentially assault ing the courts and individual rights.



Joe's Cajones

I am working in San Diego this week and last night, while getting some down time in my hotel room, I caught Sen. Joe Biden (Democrat-DE) on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now." He displayed a knowledge of foreign affairs and a passion for a successful foreign policy that is so absent in both Sen. Kerry and George W. Bush. His anger at the President was on full display and I couldn't help but wonder...WHY ISN'T THIS GUY OUR NOMINEE?? If you can find the video at CNN then take a look. Biden was superb! In the mean time, here are some highlights from the transcript of the interview:
BIDEN: They haven't promised any of the 3,000 forces needed to protect the electors to set up 25,000 polling places. I mean, it reminds me of that calypso song that used to be around. Don't worry, be happy. I mean, I don't understand the President, quite frankly, in terms of the way he's going about this...

...by the time John Kerry is president...if he is, this may be Lebanon. There may be no plan. The President keeps dumbing this down so much, that it makes it harder and harder...

...I think the President's becoming irrelevant. You're sitting out as a (U.N.) delegate from any one of your countries. What did the President just do today? He let you off the hook. He let you off the hook. He said everything's going fine.

ZAHN: Why don't you think the president took on the U.N. today? Is there a political calculation?

BIDEN: You know, Paula, I swear to God, I don't know. This is so much bigger than George Bush or John Kerry. I just don't get it.

I just simply do not -- and, by the way, it's not just that I don't get it. It's not just that I don't get it. Dick Lugar doesn't get it. Chuck Hagel doesn't get it. John McCain doesn't get it. All of us who deal with foreign policy up here, we don't get it.
When asked by Zahn why Bush is leading in the current polling, given all that is going on in Iraq, Biden really showed his cajones...
BIDEN: You know, I know this is going to sound corny to you. That's above my pay grade. That's about politics. I'm talking about substance. I don't care what John Kerry's number is.

I care about the kids that we have sitting over there. I don't give a damn whether John Kerry wins or loses or George Bush wins or loses. All I know is, this entire program to try to win the peace in Iraq is, in fact, going down the drain, because the president keeps saying stay the course, instead of change the course. What is the plan, Mr. President? I don't care whether you win or lose. What's the plan you're going to have in January? How are you going to hold elections, Mr. President? How are you going to train these forces, Mr. -- what are the two things he says, Paula?

We have to train the Iraqis to supplant the Americans, No. 1. And, No. 2, we have to hold elections in order to have a free and Democratic Iraq. Neither are happening. The secretary of defense said in February on your program, we've trained 210,000 people. I told you then that was malarkey. Last Friday, he said we've trained 95,000 Iraqis. That is malarkey. He said we trained 32,000 Iraqi policemen. Not one single solitary Iraqi policeman has completed the 24-week training program, not one single solitary one.

So why aren't we telling the truth? And what's going to happen, Paula, you continue this happy talk, and after the election, all hell breaks loose, and there's no elections, the American people are going say, no matter who is president, I have had enough. And then, Paula, we're not going to have red alerts. We're not going to have orange alerts...we're going to have a decade of red alerts, because you're going to right in the middle of the Middle East, another Afghanistan.
I've said it before, the number one issue for voters on Election Day is going to be the war on terror and, by extension, the messy, unnecessary war in Iraq. Period. End of story. This issue alone will win or lose the election for Bush or Kerry. This is why I have always thought the Democrats needed one of their top tier candidates to run against Bush. Sen. Biden is among that tier - and he'd be out-polling Bush by a mile had he run.

But alas, a "President Biden" is not to be. Should Kerry manage to win this contest (and for the sake of our country's future I hope he does), he'd do well to name Sen. Biden his Secretary of State or National Security Advisor.



Wrong Choices, New Direction

Sundays LA Times has this piece on Kerry's new theme. Like Wayne, I'm concerned about his candidacy, but more on that in a day or two...hey, don't blame me -- I supported Howard Dean.
After months of struggling to find a theme to capture the essence of his candidacy, Sen. John F. Kerry has settled on one: The election, he says, boils down to a decision between four more years of "wrong choices" or a "new direction."

Since Labor Day, the Democratic presidential nominee has stuck to that theme relentlessly, using it to shape arguments on Iraq, the economy and nearly all other topics he broaches.

To some Democrats unnerved by President Bush's recent surge in the polls, Kerry's adoption of a clearly defined theme to draw contrasts with the Republican incumbent offers a measure of hope. The question for Kerry is whether this new approach to framing the election comes too late to matter.

"He's shifting the game plan in the fourth quarter here," said Joe Tuman, a San Francisco State University political communications professor. "It's coming very late, and that doesn't speak well for how they're managing their campaign." The thematic adjustment coincides with an expansion of Kerry's top circle of advisors. Amid widespread concern among Democrats that Kerry's candidacy has floundered, several former Clinton White House aides and other seasoned campaign operatives have joined his strategy team.

One of the most visible results is the change in rhetoric. Earlier attempts by the Massachusetts senator at clarifying his message — among his slogans were "Let America Be America Again" and "Stronger at Home, Respected in the World" — had little effect, analysts say.

"You had a lot of mush," said Tim Hibbitts, an independent Oregon pollster.

With the election a little more than six weeks away and debates looming as the last predictable milestone of the race, he added, "they don't have a lot more time to try out new themes."

Mike McCurry, former press secretary to President Clinton and now a senior Kerry advisor, said the "wrong choices, new direction" theme should "crystallize the choice" that voters face.

"A referendum on where people think the country is, they lose," McCurry said of the Bush campaign.

In his travels around the country, Kerry has applied his "wrong choices" theme to prescription drugs, civil rights, gun control, education, Halliburton defense contracts and stem-cell research.

"George Bush made the wrong choice," Kerry told a Las Vegas reporter who asked Thursday about the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump here in Nevada, which Bush has approved and Kerry opposes.

"And what's interesting is that now that he's made the wrong choice, he's so stubborn, he won't change his mind and move in a better direction. It's like Iraq. It's like the budget deficit. It's like what's happening on healthcare, where people are losing their healthcare. Wrong choices."

The "wrong choice" mantra serves as a device for Kerry to raise doubts about Bush's character and credibility. By turning each time from "wrong choices" to the "new direction" in which he vows to take the country, Kerry has also tried to clearly define his own agenda, which remains elusive to many voters, polls suggest.

In a Detroit speech on the economy, Kerry hammered Bush last week for "the wrong choices that always give more and more to those with the most," then promised to "lead this country in a new direction" with tax credits for healthcare, college tuition and clean fuels for automobiles.

For Kerry, this thematic framework could work as a counterpoint to Bush's charge that he vacillates.

With a steadiness that Kerry's campaign has found hard to match, Bush has used the accusation as a template for attacks on matters as large as Iraq and as trivial as what kind of car Kerry owns. No matter the topic, Bush and his allies have cast Kerry as a wavering politician unfit to lead a nation that needs a strong and consistent commander in chief.

"The person who has been most effective in defining Sen. Kerry as a flip-flopper is Sen. Kerry, because he has repeatedly taken both sides of all the important issues," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said.

Still, even some Republicans say Kerry's new theme could be effective, but strategists say his biggest problem is timing. Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, said Kerry's new theme could have produced "pretty powerful results" in the spring by driving two trends: Bush's declining job approval ratings and the rising number of voters who saw the country as moving in the wrong direction.

But now those trends are no longer in place. Since August, Kerry has spent weeks on the defensive over his Vietnam War military service and his stands on Iraq while Bush's standing has been on the rise. So the Democrat is "shooting up the mountain instead of shooting down the mountain," Fabrizio said.

"If what you're trying to do, when you're running against an incumbent, is to explain why they should be fired, the question is are you talking about it when people are apt to be of that mind, or when people are starting to think things are better?" he said.

Thomas Hollihan, associate dean of USC's Annenberg School for Communication, said Bush largely succeeded in turning the race into a referendum on his challenger rather than himself, but Kerry's new theme carries potential to reverse that dynamic. "If people hear it often enough," he said, "they're going to remember it."
Let's pray they hear it, and let's pray they do.



Iraq and a Hard Place

Whether is is Bush or Kerry that is leading in all the popular vote polling, as we all know from the 2000 election it is the Electoral College that choses our next president. Thus, with only 44 days to go until Americans in each of the 50 states cast their ballots, it is the state-by-state polling that becomes important.

As of this date, the news is getting grim for John Kerry. Blue states from the 2000 map are beginning to see signs of Bush red. Unfortunately for the Senator, the 2000 electoral vote margin was paper thin and he has no room to lose one state, let alone a few.

Based on a average of current state polling, mixed with a gut hunch on where things are in each state (based on state voting history, etc), this is where I think things stand as of today, Sunday, the 19th of September:

Bush 309
Kerry 229

Leaving the blue column and going red...Pennsylvania (Bush up an average of 3 points); Wisconsin (Bush up an average of five points). In other "battleground" states, Bush is leading comfortably. In Ohio he is up 8, in Missouri hs is up over 7, in New Hampshire (Kerry's own backyard) he is up NINE in a recent poll, and in the "grand prize" state of Florida he is leading by a comfortable margin.

The problem? Iraq. John Kerry seems to be twisted and tormented over how to approach Iraq while Bush continues to lie and lie and lie about our successes over there, when a reality check would show that he has failed miserably. As former Clinton speech writer Paul Glastris points out on todays NY Times op-ed page, Kerry needs to take the battle over Iraq directly to Mr. Bush. If Glastris were writing a speech for Kerry, this is what the Democratic candidate would say: "I voted to give the authority he needed to unite the world in confronting Iraq. He abused that authority. But I trusted him, and now I share responsibility for the failing situation in Iraq. As president, I will take reponsibility for fixing it - and that, Mr. President, makes one of us."

Heavy words. Heavy words that Kerry ought to take to heart. For fighting Bush on his own turf is the only way Kerry will win this race.

As to the polls...the only explanation I have is that the people of the United States are in denial. They'd rather not hear about the enormous problems this administration has caused - problems that our children will pay dearly for. Americans would rather stick their fingers in their ears and walk away blurting "la-la-la-la-la."

They'd rather turn on the news and hear about Scott Petersen and Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart.

If the current trend continues, and Bush coasts to victory on Election Day, I suspect many Americans will wake up November 3rd with the biggest case of buyers' remorse in the history of American presidential elections.

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