Archive for October, 2007

Separation of Church of Latter-day Saints and State - The Romney Dilemma

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Pundits have been urging Mitt Romney to pull a John Kennedy - to take the issue of his religious affiliation head-on. Second only to Giuliani in fundraising, and in the lead in the GOP polls in New Hampshire and Iowa, Romney seems to have just two main negatives to overcome; his “flip-flops” on social issues and his Mormonism, and they may be related.

Former Bush advisor Dan Bartlett, in a moment of brutal candor in front of the US Chamber of Commerce, recently said, “The Mormon issue is a real problem in the South, it’s a real problem in other parts of the country… People are not going to step out and say, ‘I have a problem with Romney because he’s Mormon.’ What they’re going to say is he’s a flip-flopper.” He has two good points. One is that what people tell pollers often differs from what they do at the polls, and Romney is, in fact, a flip-flopping Mormon.

A Salt Lake Tribune editorial yesterday had this advice for Romney:

“Mitt Romney appears to have decided that to run successfully for president of the United States, he must run away from the issue of his Mormonism. He’s wrong about that. …

JFK did it in a celebrated speech to Southern Baptist leaders in Houston. Mitt Romney should make a similar statement. …

JFK accomplished that by emphasizing his belief in an America where separation of church and state is absolute, …”

(emphasis mine)

Unlike when JFK made that famous speech in 1960 to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, today most religious, southern, conservative voters are Republicans, and conservatives do not like or wish to abide by Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation,” like most Americans today. Back in 1960 Kennedy was lauded for his stance. Here in 2007, as the The Carpetbagger Report put it the other day, “If Romney were to publicly argue that “the separation of church and state is absolute,” he would be booed aggressively by conservative audiences that want more intermingling between religion and government, not less.” This is going to be tricky for Romney.

There are more contrasts to face as well. For starters, there are and have always been a lot more Catholics (about 25%) than Mormons (around 1 1/2%) in America. As the Salt Lake Tribune noted, “…polling about Americans’ religious beliefs and ideas shows that only about half of Americans have a favorable view of Mormonism, but about the same percentage know little or nothing about the faith,” but, “Those same polls show that Americans who actually know Mormons have a higher opinion of the faith than those who don’t.” But how many Americans can get to know only 1 1/2% of their fellow Americans, mostly concentrated in Utah?

The Salt Lake Tribune editorial went on… “Some evangelicals do not consider members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be Christians.”

Some? A September Baptist Press poll showed that 52% of Evangelicals belief that Mormonism is not a Christian faith, and evangelicals make up 30% of the GOP.

“…most American voters are fair-minded,” said the Tribune,”…We think that’s the ideal (the separation of church and state) most Americans still embrace, and would support in the voting booth.” This is simply naive.

Speaking as a liberal, secular, atheist, I have no horse in the GOP race. But let me offer this little piece of friendly advice to Mitt Romney: Ignore the Salt Lake Tribune. The best thing for Romney to do is to simply avoid speaking about his faith, avoid questions about it, avoid the high-minded clarions from the pundits, and just plain avoid the entire issue. America may be no more ready for a Mormon president than an allegedly liberal woman or an African American named “Obama.” Hillary knows this, and though she can’t hide her femininity, she can present herself as the moderate she really is. Obama is stuck. He can hide neither his race nor his name. Romney has it easier. If he can stifle the issue of his faith, and the GOP continues to lose support from the evangelical community, he could well win the nomination. And if Hillary is his opponent, that same evangelical base may well come out in the nationals, just to vote against Clinton.

Romney, keep the faith (to yourself).


Picking A President In America- Is Anybody Paying Attention?

Friday, October 12th, 2007

I recently finished reading a book called The Summer of 1787. It was an historical account of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution based on the writings of (convention secretary and 4th president) James Madison and other delegates to that convention. The book details the struggle to craft a charter for our fledgling government, and explains in some detail the necessary concessions that each of the state delegations had to endure to get to the final document. It is a story of compromise and crafty politicking, and no where is this more evident than in the recurring debates over how the new country would select its head of state.

Always at issue during the convention was the fear between the states that one region of the nation would wield more power than other regions. This too was a factor in the decisions regarding selection of the country’s president. Various plans were put forth and summarily rejected for one reason or another. One plan called for the Senate to select the president from a panel of candidates put forth by state governments. Another called for the House of Representatives to select from the top five vote getters in a national polling of candidates. Popular votes by the people (which of course only included white males at that time) would yield the top five vote getters and then the House would take over from there. Another idea was for a simple national election with the winner of the most popular votes getting the job. Each of these ideas, and others, were debated heatedly. The “Senate Plan” was rejected based on arguments that the people should have some say in who their leader is, else the president become a mere puppet of the Senate or the process would evolve into a sort of aristocracy with the Senate selecting from a small pool of potential contenders. The “House Plan” was similarly rejected too with the argument being that the popular votes would likely yield only final candidates from the most populous states, leaving the “smaller states” un(der)represented in the executive branch. The popular vote was rejected because of the fear that the average citizen would have little to no knowledge about the candidates to make an informed decision. (In the 18th and 19th centuries this was indeed a valid argument due to slow communications. Today, speed of communications and available of information has eliminated that particular concern, yet surprisingly many Americans are just as clueless about candidates today as they were in the late 1700’s.)

Eventually, the arcane system of electors and popular votes was devised, and with some constitutional tinkering in the form of amendments, we have in place the system we have today. State legislators select “electors” who in turn pledge their presidential ballots to the candidates who receive the highest amount of popular votes in their state. After the popular vote is counted and certified, those electors cast their ballots for the official presidential contest with the winner decided from those ballots.

The founders knew that this wasn’t going to be a perfect system, but at the time it was the best compromise they could cobble together. In this plan, they managed to assuage their greatest fears (or so they thought) about selecting a national leader: they wanted to assure that the average American citizen had some voice in who would lead the country and they wanted to assure that the office didn’t become some sort of dynastic throne.

Fast forward to the 2008 presidential election campaign. Witness the founding fathers turning in their graves.

Today’s presidential frontrunners are knighted by the press and accepted by the public much in the way that an infant will put anything into his mouth that is handed to him. There is little critical thinking among the American people and even less even reporting of the potential candidates. There are currently 8 Democratic presidential candidates and 9 Republicans. But the only ones we really hear about are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romeny, and now, Fred Thompson. A few others (Edwards & McCain) get some coverage here and there, but the rest of the field has been largely abandoned by the press. Why? Well, because voters don’t choose those candidates in polls. And why don’t they choose them? Because they don’t know enough about them. Why is that? Because the press largely ignores them. It’s a vicious circle that begins early in the process and pre-selects the final contenders for the public based on press coverage and preferences.

This is surely not the kind of popular vote mechanism the founders envisioned. Certainly it’s hard to think that of the 17 potential candidates that only Hillary or Rudy have ideas worthy of getting them elected president. And in the case of Clinton, the founders’ fears of a “presidential dynasty” come full force. If Hillary were to be elected, we’ll have created a two-family presidential dynasty that covers at least 24 years (Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton), an entire generation of Americans ruled by two families. And the worst part of it is that even though the Bushes and Clintons hail from opposing political parties, their basic political tenets are practically the same- none of them actually hold firm positions on anything of import, all are entrenched in the politics-for-cash system of governance, and they all have (or were always) become so detached from the truth of day to day life that they represent few actual Americans or their needs, desires, and concerns.

If American voters really believe that Hillary or Rudy are the best we can get for president then they just aren’t paying attention. Either that or they don’t care enough to make a better decision. Or perhaps they really do believe that 10 second sound bites are all they need to make a decision. Maybe they believe that if a candidate has a “D” or an “R” after their name that that’s all the information they need. However, if America really wants to find a new path into the 21st century then the voters are going to have to do better than this. They’ll have to actually move beyond the TV news reports, take a few minutes to read about the candidates and their positions, and not just accede to the picks of the press.

Is Hillary Clinton the leading democrat because of her qualifications to lead America in a new direction or because she is just the most well know candidate? I don’t think her politics have change much since she was the co-president with her husband. Actually, I take that back. She’s been quite hawkish in the Senate, dedspite her prostetations to the opposite. Personally, I don’t see how I could vote for her, and it has absolutely nothing to do with her gender.

Is Rudy Giuliani the top ranked Republican candidate because he’s the best man for the job? Or is it because he continually uses the 9-11 campaign poster and reminds Americans that he was the boss in New York when the terrorists hit? Is Rudy just riding on the coattails of fear, and if so, how does that make him presidential material?

But the press says these two are the top dogs, so when they trot out a poll or two, the numbers reinforce their coronation and perpetuate the momentum.

American politics, and especially presidential politics, are a farce. The candidates rarely offer a new vision for our country, seldom create a new path to trod. In this, George W. Bush has broken out of the mold- he has radically changed this country and how the world views America. Unfortunately, his vision has brought only death, misery and degraded our national reputation in the eyes of much of the world. If ever America needed a president with vision, with courage, and with wisdom, the 2008 presidential elections are that time.

Too bad we won’t get one.

Kudlow’s America: Some Eat Steak, The Rest Eat Cake

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

If there were ever to be a way to demonstrate the unedited and unadulterated mind set of the GOP elite, Larry Kudlow succeeds in presenting it in an article he titles, Put Some Steak On The Plate. Kudlow, while offering his take on yesterdays GOP debate, is kind enough to also insert his not so subtle thesis for a Republican victory in 2008 and therefore the means to insure that he and his cronies have the idyllic “steak” placed squarely upon their plates.

Last night’s GOP debate featured strong, pro-growth, supply-side policies from the four major candidates — Rudy, Romney, McCain, and Thompson. […]

This is all good. But let me remind folks that yesterday I suggested that Republicans were put on this planet to cut spending and taxes. And the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In other words, we need specifics. In other words, where’s the beef?

OK, I don’t begrudge Kudlow his ideology…he’s entitled to support whichever economic strategy he prefers. Further, I probably agree with the notion of prudent spending and reasonable taxation. Unfortunately, once Kudlow spells out the details by which he would pursue his stated objectives, our differences become more evident and his self-serving and less than palatable bias begins to emerge.

The Republican party needs to re-brand itself as the fiscal-disciplinarian party. GOP candidates must get specific about which departments and program clusters they’re going to curtail. The sooner the better. The burden is on their backs to reestablish credibility.

And while the Democrats are making hay with middle-class anxieties over taxes, health care, tuition, etc., Republicans need to launch an aggressive middle-class tax offensive.

For example, we don’t need six income-tax brackets. Here’s a thought: Take the 33 percent bracket that starts at $188,450 and get rid of it. Ditto for the 28 percent bracket at $123,700 and the 25 percent bracket at $61,300. Get rid of them. Collapse it all down into one simple 15 percent tax bracket. Then figure out what kind of spending cuts are necessary to finance it.

Let’s look at Kudlow’s two fundamental objectives. First, the revision of the tax structure advances a disproportionate boon to those making the most money (33 percent to 15 percent)…a goal consistent with his supply-side, pro-growth agenda…albeit one which is premised upon the belief that giving money back to the wealthy will facilitate reinvestment into the economy to better “float the boat”. While that is true to a point, it would simultaneously consolidates larger amounts of wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people…a move which further shrinks the middle class by pushing a small percentage of individuals upward and a much larger number downward.

Second, the reduction of spending immediately calls entitlements into question despite the fact that Kudlow states his own reservation with the cutting of Social Security benefits…a reservation I contend isn’t motivated by a concern for those who may be hurt but rather a measured calculation that the same can be achieved with far less repercussions than an open endorsement of such a plan. His motives and his modus operandi are revealed when he contrasts his “recipe” with that of the Democrats. Here’s how his strategy works. I contend the formula is little more than the classic carrot on a stick approach whereby the tax cuts must first be offered as the enticement (the means to procure votes) which then delivers the authority to enact the desired spending cuts.

As the bad news is disseminated (we have to pay for these tax cuts), the notion of self-interest leads a majority of voters to oppose cutting essential services while endorsing the reduction of money spent on programs perceived as “government handouts”. In other words, the underlying premise is that hard working individuals (defined as those who make enough money to receive the tax cuts) should be rewarded and those who don’t carry their own weight (defined as those receiving government assistance) should be penalized.

The end result is more of the same. In order to succeed, both spouses are compelled to work harder in order to make ends meet. Those on the top rung (the powerful) reinforce the merits of their message by offering the reward (a tax cut)…a reward they frame as needing to be extracted from those at the lowest rung on the ladder. As such, the focus is removed from those who benefited the most from the tax cuts (themselves) and they succeed in being portraying as the champions of the hard working middle class while vilifying those who have the least.

The ire of those caught in the hamster wheel has been masterfully directed downward. Thus the dangling vegetable is obediently chased in hopes it will lead to the quintessential prize…steak. Consequently, one either embraces the equation or one tumbles further down the ladder in shame…deserving of little more than reproach…and cake.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Republican Flip-Flops and the Liberal Bias of Familiarity

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

For most Republicans, it’s all very easy to be anti-gay. It’s in the Bible after all, right? And it’s so easy to be anti-regulation, for everything, from guns to pools. The government is the cause of problems, not the solution, right? And authoritarian government (for everything except commerce) is a given for Republicans, even if it means torturing suspected “combatants,” and even if they are American citizens. Why not? Republicans never have to suffer such tribulations, right? But what happens when a Republican’s family member is gay? What happens when some faulty products harms a Republican’s child or grandchild? What happens when some loony gets his hands on an automatic weapon and unloads on a Republican or his kin? What happens when a Republican is the victim of authoritarian abuse?

I’ll tell you what happens - the Republican “flip-flops.” That is to say, he or she changes his or her mind about something that seemed so easy to decide before it came close to home. Sometimes they never have to change their mind at all, but simply allow themselves to be agreeably disagreeable with the GOP status quo.

Log Cabin Caveats

Dick Cheney’s daughter is gay, as John Kerry rather uncouthly made sure we all know. Cheney’s otherwise the consummate Republican, but when it comes to gay rights and relationships…

“Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with. With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. … People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.”

How liberal, or at least libertarian, of him! My only critique of his comment would involve grammatical redundancies and the misuse of prepositions. Is that a Wyoming thing?

Of course, the Cheney issue has been out there a while (no pun intended). More recently the erstwhile conservative Republican mayor of San Diego, one Jerry Sanders, announced that his daughter is gay, which was apparently news to him, and reversed his position on gay marriage…

Mayor Jerry Sanders abruptly reversed his public opposition to same-sex marriage… after revealing his adult daughter is gay.

Sanders also signed a City Council resolution supporting a legal fight to overturn California’s prohibition on same-sex marriages. He previously said he would veto the resolution.

Sanders, a Republican former police chief, told reporters that he could no longer back the position he took during his election campaign two years ago, when he said he favored civil unions but not full marriage rights for homosexual couples.

“Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative,” he said at a press conference. “Those beliefs, in my case, have since changed. The concept of a ’separate but equal’ institution is not something that I can support.”

He fought back tears as he said he wanted his adult daughter, Lisa, and other gay people he knows to have their relationships protected equally under state laws.

“In the end, I could not look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships — their very lives — were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana…”

Sanders did Cheney one better. Rather than recuse himself from the issue, as does Cheney, the good mayor actionably stood up for his daughter’s rights. Actively endorsing gay rights or not, both men suffer criticism from Republicans and the Religious Right for their positions. Perhaps these critics should take a closer look at their own families - or even themselves.

The Brady Bunch

25 years ago, presidential press secretary James Brady, took a hollow-point “devastator” bullet to the head in the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. From then on, he and his wife Sarah, have worked tirelessly to bring sensible and constitutional firearm regulations through the The Brady Campaign. Of course, it took a Democratic president and Democratic Hill to pass the Brady Bill in 1993, a reasonable act that has since been watered down, unenforced, and partially expired thanks to the NRA’s puppets in the proceeding GOP congresses and White House.

Sometimes, though, things flip in the other direction. When Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York, he understood that a city of 8 million people, tightly packed in a 322 square mile city, can not operate safely with guns in every purse, pocket and holster. He backed the Brady Bill, said it didn’t go far enough, and pushed for national gun registration. It was a sensible position for the mayor of the most populous city in America, which at the time of his mayoral inauguration, had one of the worst crime epidemics in America. Crime did go way down. Even Giuliani admits that the Brady Bill and subsequent crime bills were a part of that.

Now that Giuliani’s running for the GOP presidential nomination, he’s had to soften his stance. He recently said, “(In) a place like New York that is densely populated, or maybe a place that is experiencing a serious crime problem, … maybe you have one solution there and in another place, more rural, more suburban, other issues, you have a different set of rules.” It’s a fair enough point, but doesn’t address illegal firearms smuggled into cities from “more rural, more suburban” places, as New York’s new mayor can attest. Nevertheless, Giuliani realizes that you can’t win the GOP nomination unless you embrace the gun-nut sector. Giuliani has his ace-in-the-hole for pretty much every issue that comes his way, though - 9/11. Now he says, “There are some major intervening events - Sept. 11 - which cast somewhat of a different light on the Second Amendment.” We’ll have to wait and see what happens if gun crime rises during a Giuliani presidency.

The Lifeguard is On-Duty

James Baker, Reagan and GHW Bush cabinet man and GOP star statesman, is presumably no fan of “Big Government” and it’s regulations. But four years ago, tragedy struck home. Baker’s little granddaughter, Virginia, became entrapped in the drain of a spa. She died. Said Baker recently, “Before it happened I didn’t think it was possible that a child could be entrapped in the drain of a spa. I’m here to say it is possible, but it is absolutely preventable with the installation of safeguards as well as awareness by parents and pool owners.” He’s now backing a bill on The Hill to strengthen regulatory guidelines for drain covers and to increase public awareness of drain entrapment.

Tortured Logic

This past May, in a debate in South Carolina, GOP candidates climbed on top of each other to show that they were tough on terror and believed in the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” All but one. A running hypothetical was proposed to the candidates, involving terrorism and imminent attack, and away they ran with it…

Giuliani said, “I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they could think of.”

Mitt Romney chimed in, “My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo. … And enhanced interrogation techniques have to be used — not torture but enhanced interrogation techniques, yes.”

Sam Brownback, champion of the Religious Right, reminding us of his Christianity, said, “If we have to later ask and say, “Well, it shouldn’t quite have been done this way or that way,” that’s the way it is.”

Duncan Hunter, underdog of Texas, said, “I would say to SECDEF, in terms of getting information that would save American lives, even if it involves very high-pressure techniques, one sentence: Get the information. Have it back within an hour, and let’s act on it.”

Ron Paul, libertarian hero, and as plainspoken as one can be, said, “Nobody’s for the torture, and I think that’s important. But as far as taking care of a problem like this, the president has the authority to do that. If we’re under imminent attack, the president can take that upon himself to do it.”

And Tom Tancredo, immigrant-basher extraordinaire, topped them all with, “I’m looking for “Jack Bauer” at that time, let me tell you.” I wonder if he knows that Bauer is a fictional television character.

Then there was John McCain.

The Arizona senator, Lieutenant Commander in the navy, Vietnam war hero, and POW resident of the Hanoi Hilton for 5 1/2 years, said…

“The use of torture — we could never gain as much we would gain from that torture as we lose in world opinion. We do not torture people.

When I was in Vietnam, one of the things that sustained us, as we went — underwent torture ourselves, is the knowledge that if we had our positions reversed and we were the captors, we would not impose that kind of treatment on them.

It’s not about the terrorists, it’s about us. It’s about what kind of country we are. And a fact: The more physical pain you inflict on someone, the more they’re going to tell you what they think you want to know.

It’s about us as a nation. We have procedures for interrogation in the Army Field Manual. Those, I think, would be adequate in 999,999 of cases, and I think that if we agree to torture people, we will do ourselves great harm in the world.

…and the interesting thing about that aspect is that during the debate, when we had the detainee treatment act, there was a sharp division between those who had served in the military and those who hadn’t. Virtually every senior officer, retired or active- duty, starting with Colin Powell, General Vessey and everyone else, agreed with my position that we should not torture people.

One of the reasons is, is because if we do it, what happens to our military people when they’re captured? And also, they realize there’s more to war than the battlefield.

So yes, literally every retired military person and active duty military person who has actually been in battle and served for extended times in the military — (bell rings) — supported my position, and I’m glad of it.

He was the only man on that stage to speak for our values and his experience against the torture of alleged “enemy combatants.”


I was speaking on the telephone the other day with a woman who said she was a Republican. We were talking about Giuliani and New York City. I mentioned to her that many liberal, New York detractors of Giuliani dismiss his record of crime reduction in New York because these folks had never seen just how bad things had gotten in some of the seedier parts of the Burroughs. She said, “I guess it’s because it never touched them.” I’m a liberal, and no big fan of Rudi, but I call a spade a spade when I see a spade. I remember the neighborhoods in NYC, prior to his mayorship, where cops didn’t even dare to go. That’s all since changed. Most people have never seen such places, so they can not relate to the subject. And that gets to the fatal flaw of “conservative” Republican epistemology: They don’t know what it’s like to be happily, openly gay. They don’t know what it’s like to face a gun in an alley. They don’t know what it’s like to suffer from dangerous products. They don’t know what it’s like to be tortured.

Even if you don’t personally know what it’s like to be gay, victimized, injured, or abused, a person of good character, intelligence, and imagination can empathize with those who do. A person who lacks these character traits, or panders to those who are lacking, avoids such transcendental thought. It’s better for them to make easy assertions - homosexuality is a bad choice, guns don’t kill people, buyer beware, kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out - for the consumption of the simple and singularly minded. But even the person who seems to lack good character, intelligence, and imagination, can not deny reality when it comes close to home - when it touches them. Dick Cheney, Jerry Sanders, James Brady, Rudi Giuliani, James Baker, and John McCain have all had to break with the GOP ranks on issues that were personal to them. Perhaps GOP voters should remember that Republican, conservative “values” don’t seem to hold up to the liberal bias of reality. If only we could extend their imaginations to poverty, health care, the new Jim Crowe called the “War on Drugs,” the war in Iraq, pollution, energy, education, and civil rights, because Lord knows these things just haven’t touched them at all.


The GOP - Party of the Red (necked), White (skinned), and Blue (blooded)

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Well, there ’s yet another another party “debate” tonight, this time for the GOP field. These silly, pointless forums this year - with too many candidates, too few serious questions and answers, Jack Bauer, a few fringe candidates, and one too many puppets - seem to have been developed by the parties to obfuscate the positions of the leading contenders. The idea is simple: clutter the stage with so many candidates and clutter the questions with so many questioners that the questions are quick and vague and the answers quicker and vaguer, in other words; keep the contenders safely lost in the noisy crowd. These pseudo-debates are a series of mechanical, repressed events, useless to the voters, and telling of little but the candidates’ ability to time prepared quips and soundbites.

What should be the telling is where, and when, and what forums the candidates do not appear. It seems that if the audience or the hosts may be a little hostile, or the forum may be a little too personal or open, or represents something a particular base dislikes, certain candidates lack the courage to show up. This is especially true of the GOP. On the flip-side, if the forum is hosted by groups with radical agendas, from theocrats to gun-nuts, the GOP team comes ready to play. One would think that a President of the United States of America should be a President of ALL THE PEOPLE of the the United States of America, not just fringe groups and the red-necked, white-skinned, and blue-blooded.

But just as George W. Bush promised to be a “uniter not a divider,” and the country is more divided than ever, this crop of candidates may exhort “unity” but you can be sure that division is their ultimate goal. If you can’t get more people to like you, get the people that do like you to really hate those that do not. Divide and conquer comes in many flavors. In these cases, the GOP field divides the country with aversion and subscription - avoid some constituents, play to others. So much for “unity.”

Who are the the constituents being avoided?

The NEA, Teachers…

Of all the GOP candidates, only former Arkansas governor and preacher Mike Huckabee showed his face at the NEA convention in July. Said Huckabee, “I’m astonished there are not more Republican candidates here. Do they not think education is important? Or are they just afraid of the NEA? I don’t know.” Try both an more.

The NAACP, African Americans…

Only one GOP candidate showed up - Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo, there to remind African American voters that immigrants, the bane of his existence, are taking their jobs. Said Tancredo, “Do you think we should wait a few minutes and see if these other guys show up?” Waiting, he’d be there for twenty Septembers.

PBS, Tavis Smiley, All-American Presidential Forums, and again, African Americans…

There were four conspicuous no-shows for this October event - oh, and they happened to be the four GOP front-runners! Who’d'a’thunk’it? Said Tom Joyner, co-moderator and radio show host, “Let me take a moment right here and now to say hello to those of you viewing from home. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain, Governor Mitt Romney, and Senator Fred Thompson. Well, you know, I had to call them out… I can only assume that Republican candidates who hope to become the president of all the people are here tonight.” He got that right.

So teachers and African Americans know where they stand with the GOP, and it’s not in the room. Just who is in the room?

The NRA, of course, the Values Voters, a fanatical Religious-Right group, and the rabidly anti-government AFP. Not that the Democrats are lining up for these folks though, or Fox for that matter. So it cuts both ways. But no one is trying to take away your guns or religion, and no one can seem to touch ridiculous, unearned, unthankful wealth. Hopefully there are enough teachers and African Americans out there to tip the scale away from the moot-issue gun-nuts, theocrats, and the selfishly wealthy. The GOP is betting on the opposite. Let’s hope they place their bets as well as Bill Bennett.