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A Sense of Futility: Cindy Sheehan retires as spokesperson for the peace-movement.
May 31st, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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Gold-star Mother Cindy Sheehan tendered her public “resignation” as head of the anti-war movement on Wednesday (read her letter here). In a letter bitterly entitled, “Good Riddance Attention Whore” (undoubtably a slur given to her by a detractor), Cindy describes how being “anti-war” should know no Party. That there are people on both sides of the aisle that both support and denounce the Bush Administrations’ rampant militarism and socially irresponsible ways.

To that point, I, a proud Liberal Democrat, am pleased to post for you a response to Ms. Sheehan’s departure by an anti-war Conservative Republican friend and contributor to “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet”:
 

A Sense of Futility.
by “Longfisher”

From the conquest of the Eastern Seaboard over the indigenous native population, to Manifest Destiny which resulted in uncountable murders and savagery against native and competing peoples (remember the Spanish, Mexicans and the French?), to our more recent foreign wars, America is addicted to militarism. That that militarism has contributed immensely to our short-term wealth is certainly true. But it’s corrosive impact on our moral foundations and our humanity has been far greater.

We are addicted to the fruits of militarism and oblivious to the damage it causes because America has never been devastated by a foreign enemy. We have not felt the pain of destruction. Accordingly, nothing will even so much as moderate our militaristic tendencies until there is a devastating war on America itself; a nuclear war in all likelihood. When it does come we will have richly deserved it for more than 250 years.

Ms. Sheehan’s personal and “the anti-war movement’s” protestations will amount to nothing as long as America continues to benefit from war, regardless of our ruthlessness, barbarity and savagery towards our victims. Only when they strike us a death or near-death blow will Americans awaken to the dangers militarism has always presented.

Sheehan senses this. Her farewell letter (if it should be called that at all as she wished few fair tidings) contains kernels of these thoughts. And, over time, hopefully quiet time for her reflection, I’m sure her position on America and our seemingly innate militarism will crystallize into a position much closer to mine. I’m happy that she has finally found her way towards this way of thinking. But, I regret that she only attained these insights as a result of her long, personally-costly and immensely frustrating journey. She has paid a very high price for the neglect of her parental and citizenship responsibilities before Casey was killed.

I am proud that as the leader of my own family, I recognized the destructiveness of America’s militarism some decades ago and have led my children away from it. Both of my children are alive today and wholly indoctrinated in the peaceful ways of Jesus Christ. I will not apologize for that indoctrination for there are great prospects that they will bring into the world the sorts of peaceful leaders that a one day peaceful America will desperately need.

Best regards,

David W.
US Marine and Vietnam Vet

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Does Cuba hold the keys to ending the war in Iraq?
May 30th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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Here’s an interesting thought: Does Cuba have the power to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Maybe!

Though it could take some time, legally, the power to end President Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might actually be within Cuba’s power. Let me explain. It has to do with the Ninth Amendment to the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. Most people only know the “biggies”: 1st (freedom of speech/religion/assembly), 2nd (bear arms), 4th (privacy/quartering soldiers), and the 5th (remain silent/self incrimination). The 9th Amendment gives ANY person within the borders of the United States ALL of the same basic human rights of protection guaranteed every United States citizen. This includes the rights of Habeas Corpus and Due Process. The 9th Amendment is very short, as if to emphasize how truly basic such a right is, leaving no “legaleeze” for bureaucrats to debate the “true meaning” of:

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Translation: the Constitution shall NOT be interpreted in such a way as to deny ANYONE held by the U.S. their inalienable rights. Why is this important to our case? Because the U.S. holds all of its prisoners from Iraq/Afghanistan in a prison camp on foreign soil… Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be exact. If the prisoners were held somewhere on U.S. soil, be it inside the United States, an American Territory, or an American embassy (which is likewise legally U.S. soil), then those held there would automatically be entitled all basic human rights. That means no torture, a speedy trial by jury, and legal representation. The Founding Fathers were telling the World that EVERY PERSON “is born with certain inalienable rights”.

Now here is where it gets tricky:

The United States leases the land for the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay from the Cuban government for $4,000 a year (and Cuba doesn’t even cash the checks!). It is Cuban land. They own it, and if they felt strongly enough about it, they could conceivably break their 99-year lease with the U.S. government in protest or on some technicality. Forcing the U.S. to move all of its prisoners from Camp X-Ray to someplace else. While there appears to be no shortage of foreign countries willing to house American POW’s, that was for just a few “special” prisoners, not the hundreds now being held in GiTMO. Likewise, if enough pressure were applied by the people of those countries, the Bush Administration could be left with no other choice but to house those prisoners on American soil (housing them anywhere in the Middle East… Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar… would be too tempting a target for insurgent forces looking to free their comrades). And when they do, the 9th Amendment kicks in, and all of those prisoners would have to be put on trial.

Likewise, unwilling to bring home more POW’s to stand trial, and unwilling to release angry prisoners that are likely to join the insurgency upon their return out of spite for their unlawful multi-year imprisonment… the Bush White House would be left with no other choice but to stop taking in more prisoners and hasten the end of the war before the others returned. The alternative is to face the public humiliation and global outrage of literally hundreds of unlawfully held “enemy combatants” being released due to lack of evidence, and possibly joining in the fight against us.

Hey, Cuba hates us, and they certainly aren’t doing it for the money if they aren’t even cashing the piddly $4,000 checks Eisenhower insisted we pay. They likewise oppose Bush’s war, and their close friend & ally Hugo Chavez would like nothing better than to stick it to George W. Bush, so why the heck not? Just a thought.

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Gingrich’s Gaff on Meet the Press: “What if…” analogy is EXACTLY what DID happen.
May 21st, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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Newt Gingrich was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning and made one whopper of a gaff that I doubt most people even realized (certainly not Senator Dodd whom he was lecturing, nor apparently host Tim Russert), comparing waning U.S. support for the Iraqi government to French support of the Colonists during the Revolutionary war:

Newt: […] “Prime Minister Maliki [of Iraq] is doing the best he can in a chaotic environment, and he’s not a very strong person, but if– ­imagine we were the French in the 1700s, debating the American Continental Congress and saying, “Well, should we really send aid to these guys? I mean, they can’t even hold- you know, they’ve retreated to Lancaster. They’re not even in Philadelphia. They’ve lost New York. George Washington’s lost all these campaigns. This guy Washington has no major victories. I mean, why are we sending money over there?

The former speaker may have written three books about the U.S. Civil War, but apparently he needs a refresher course on the “American Revolutionary War”. Now, if I remember my American history (and I DO), isn’t this EXACTLY what the French did do? They refused to support the Colonists… despite repeated pleas by Benjamin Franklin who was dispatched to France to beg the French Parliament to help the Colonists defeat their mutual enemy: England… until Gen. Washington proved he could win a few battles against the British. Washington had lost every encounter with the Redcoats until a *sneak attack* on Christmas Eve resulted in the capture of 1,000 Hessians (remember the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware? That was the infamous Xmas Eve raid).

Digital History” describes it thusly:

“Washington had only 6,000 troops whose terms of enlistment were set to expire in January 1777. But on Christmas Eve, 2,400 of his soldiers crossed the icy Delaware River and attacked British outposts in New Jersey. At Trenton, where German mercenaries were groggy from their Christmas celebration, Washington’s troops captured 1,000 Hessians. Then they defeated British forces at Princeton, leading the British to redeploy their troops close to New York City, leaving the region’s Loyalists at the mercy of the patriots.

In 1777, the British launched another offensive, designed to split New England off from the rest of the colonies. While one British army marched south from Montreal, another was to march northward from New York City. The northern army was defeated at the battle of Saratoga, 30 miles north of Albany, N.Y., and 5,000 British soldiers surrendered.

The Battle of Saratoga was a crucial military turning point. The American victory over General Burgoyne’s army convinced the French to publicly support the patriot cause.

PS: Someone might also remind Newt the next time he wants to make a “Revolutionary War” analogy… WE were the insurgents.

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8,000 Americans now DEAD.
May 18th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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As a frequent visitor to “The Democratic Underground“, I created a “tagline” in November of 2005 that reads beneath everything I post:

!!! 6500+ Americans DEAD !!!
(3,000 on 9/11. 1,900 in Iraq. 1,600 in Katrina.)
National debt: $8.18 Trillion and counting.
Gas $3.00 a gallon.
Osama bin Laden still on the loose.
* MISSION ACCOMPLISHED *

From time-to-time, I’d update the tag as particular “thresholds” were passed. Today, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq hit the 3,400 mark, pushing the total number of dead Americans as a direct result of this Administration’s incompetence to 8,000!

Sometimes, Republicans just need things spelled out for them, which is what my tag was intended to do. Do you think that when Republicans voted for George Bush, they ever fathomed that 8,000 Americans would die as a result, entire cities would be lost (“New Orleans”, towns in Mississippi and now Kansas), North Korea would be testing nuclear weapons, Iran would be threatening to build nukes, and our soldiers would be engaged in another Vietnam-style war on its fifth year with no exit strategy?

If this were Bill Clinton… holy hell!

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Oil Companies using Enron style price fixing. Closing refineries to jack up gas prices.
May 15th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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Gasoline prices hit a new record high Tuesday with the National Average now standing at $3.08 a gallon. The primary reason cited for the rise in gas prices is the high number of oil refineries “Closed for maintenance” (which turn oil into gasoline) just prior to the “Summer driving season”.

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because this is EXACTLY what Enron did, taking advantage of the new California electricity-deregulation laws (pushed through by Republicans in the late 90’s, arguing that it would SAVE consumers money as competition would drive costs down), to manipulate the cost of electricity. Enron closed power-plants and switching stations to create “artificial shortages” then charged exorbitant rates for what power was left. To relieve the strain on the remaining power grid, “rolling blackouts” had to be instituted, leaving many Californians in the dark with no electricity on some of the hottest days of the year. I remember even The Tonight Show with Jay Leno doing an entire show in near total darkness “as a show of support during the energy crisis”.

One of the most famous/evil quotes to come out of the Enron debacle was when CEO Jeff Skilling made the following joke:

    “What’s the difference between California and the Titanic?
     When the Titanic went down, the lights were still on.”

The sheer contempt Enron’s energy traders had for the people they were swindling made headlines when audio tapes from the trading floor made their way onto the Network News.

And now we are seeing it again, only a much larger scale, and with the blessings of the White House.

Where Enron created artificial shortages to jack up the price of electricity in a single state by closing power stations, oil companies have been closing refineries for “maintenance” during peak oil demand to manipulate oil prices across the entire country. And the heavily “oil-friendly” Bush Administration has allowed them to get away with it. What do you expect when a former oil-company exec with close ties to the Saudi Royal Family is made President, and the former CEO of one of the largest oil industry support firms in the country (“Halliburton”) is made Vice President?

You almost certainly noticed, along with the rest of the country, that oil prices plummeted just in time for the November election, dipping to a national low of just $2.39 on election day (falling as low as $1.99/gal for regular here in Houston) before creeping back up to Tuesday’s record high of $3.08 a mere 6 months later? The Bush Administration… namely Vice President Cheney… laughed at the notion that the government had some “magic wand” that they could just wave to bring down gasoline prices in time for the election. But that’s not exactly true. Truth is, the government has quite a few tools in their arsenal to help manage oil prices:

First… keep the “saber-ratting” to a minimum. Nothing can cause the price of oil to spike like uncertainty over the supply due to unrest in the Middle East. For as many as six months prior to the election, the Bush Administration stopped threatening the use of military action against Iran over their nuclear aspirations and began to cite progress via “talks” and “negotiation”.

Second… you suspend toping off the National “Strategic Reserve”. In April of 2006, the Bush Administration suspended purchases of oil to supplement the National Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserve, thereby leaving more oil for the consumer market and helping to bring prices down.

Third… the oil companies… on their own… at a time when they are seeing the largest corporate profits in history, it is most certainly in their best interests to maintain the status-quo in Washington. While it would be difficult (if not impossible) to prove that the oil companies kept all of their refineries online and output gasoline at a record rate in the months prior to the election in order to glut the market and drive down prices, the evidence seems clear that that is exactly what they did.

And now that the election is over, refineries are being shut down, gasoline prices are spiking, and profits are going through the roof a mere six months later.

Defenders of the Bush Administration might try to convince you that gasoline prices only climb as the price of oil climbs on the world market. If that were true, the current record price of gasoline should coincide with a record in the per-barrel price of oil. But in fact, oil at its current price of $63 per barrel is well below the record high of $78.40 on July 13, 2006 when gasoline peaked at $3.03 a gallon.

As you can see from the above graph, the price of oil tumbled downwards in the months before the November 2006 election, and have climbed steadily upward ever since. But the price of oil, while far lower than last years record, does not comport with the record high national average price for gasoline. Obviously, something else is effecting the price of gasoline. And that is a lack of supply due to the number of refineries that have been taken off line.

Since the November election, the National Average for the price of a gallon of gasoline has risen by as much as $0.85 a gallon. Fortunately, this has prompted some in Congress to call for a Congressional probe into price fixing, but, expect little to come of it. Despite massive evidence of criminal wrongdoing, it took Washington more than 5 years to prosecute Enron for its price fixing and stock manipulation, in which only four people were convicted, one of which (supposedly) died before he could be sentenced (“Kenny Boy” Lay) and another that has yet to be sentenced as he files his appeal.

We are witnessing CLEAR EVIDENCE of price manipulation on a MASSIVE scale here, yet Washington is almost timid in its response, and the White House has said nothing at all. It’s time to start demanding answers. Hopefully,this question will be put to the candidates running in the 2008 Presidential election. I know I’ll be doing my best to get this question on the agenda. The price of gasoline effects EVERYTHING in our lives. “Oil burning” electricity generation plants must charge more for electricity. The cost to grow, cultivate, harvest and ship all food products goes up with the cost of fuel, and that cost is passed on to you. The extra money you spend on gas, food and electricity is money you don’t have to spend on other things, cutting into sales and slowing the economy overall. And despite the inflation produced by these rising costs, wages have remained stagnant, which directly translates into a lower standard of living… and naturally, disapproval of the way Washington manages the economy (which believes record highs in the stock market are an indication of a healthy local economy) translates directly into poll numbers:

So if anyone has motivation to bring the price of gasoline down and investigate price gouging, it should be President Bush, whose poll numbers seem to be directly tied to gasoline prices:

Gas prices vs Bush's poll numbers

But George W knows what master he serves. What Big Oil giveth, Big Oil can taketh away.

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Chevron Admits to Violating “Oil-for-Food” Program While Condi on BoD.
May 9th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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EXCUSE ME, but why in the hell isn’t this a bigger story???

Apparently, Chevron has confessed that they were violating the “Oil-for-Food” program (to deprive Saddam of money he could use to buy weapons) in 2000 while Condi Rice was on their Board of Directors (1991 to 2000).

Now excuse me, but the Bush Administration made a BIG DEAL about how Saddam violating the “Oil-for-Food” program was “a violation of U.N. sanctions that demanded a military response”. They frequently pointed to Saddam violating the “Oil-for-Food” program when making the case for war, and afterwards using that fact to defend the decision to go to war when no WMD’s were found. (all links are to the whitehouse.gov official website):

o “Saddam Hussein has illegally imported hundreds of millions of dollars in goods in violation of economic sanctions and outside of the UN’s Oil-for-Food program. For example, Iraq has imported fiber optic communications systems that support the Iraqi military.” – Item #1: Saddam Hussein’s Efforts to Circumvent Economic Sanctions, April 29, 2003

o “SADDAM HUSSEIN’S EFFORTS TO CIRCUMVENT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AND IMPEDE THE OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAM” – PDF report. Given before the UN, Sept 12, 2002

o “President Discusses Growing Danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s Regime“:

“Saddam Hussein’s regime continues to support terrorist groups and to oppress its civilian population. It refuses to account for missing Gulf War personnel, or to end illicit trade outside the U.N.’s oil-for-food program. And although the regime agreed in 1991 to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, it has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.” – President Bush making the case for war with Iraq, Sept 14, 2002

And Rice herself on the subject in an interview with Al-Jazeera:

o “Now, we understood when we came to power here in Washington several months ago that we had a problem, for instance, on Iraqi sanctions; that people believed, or that Saddam Hussein was claiming that the sanctions that were in place were somehow harming the Iraqi people. We do not believe that they were harming the Iraqi people because in the north, where the U.N. administers the oil-for-food program, Iraqi people are doing well. It’s only where Saddam Hussein administers oil-for-food that there is a problem with the Iraqi people. – October 16, 2001 (barely a month after 9/11)

Couple this with Halliburton illegally doing business with Iran while Cheney was their CEO, and this should be a MUCH bigger scandal. Yet, not even the top sites on the Left seem to be giving it much play.

Is there a member of this administration left that shouldn’t be facing IMPEACHMENT? Rice, Gonzales, Cheney, Bush… this crowd makes the Nixon Administration look like the Founding Fathers.

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Responding to a letter defending racist immigration policies.
May 5th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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Today I received another one of those email chain letters forwarded by an “apolitical” friend that probably isn’t aware that the “popular wisdom” she is promoting is “latent racism” in disguise. An excerpt of that letter (available in full here) with my response follows:

Newspapers simply won’t publish letters to the editor which they either deem politically incorrect (read below) or which does not agree with the philosophy they’re pushing on the public. This woman wrote a great letter to the editor that should have been published; but, with your help it will get published via cyberspace!
(…)
Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today’s American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer.
(…)
And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I’m sorry, that’s not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900’s deserve better than that…

 
The problem with this example is that in the late 19th to early 20th century (~1880 to ~1920), the U.S. opened it’s borders to attract more people to move to America to bolster its burgeoning Industrialization that had just seen the creation of the telephone, the automobile, the electrification of our cities and the airplane industry. Increasing the size of the U.S. workforce so dramatically at that time helped America’s development enormously in the wake of World War I (called “The Great War” at that time, before we had sense enough to start numbering them) and prepared us for the “World War II” that we didn’t know was coming.

By contrast, the United States has grown increasingly isolationist, closing its borders and alienating itself from the outside world. Mexico, the country from which we receive the greatest number of immigrants (both legal and not) has a population of nearly 108 million people, yet the United States issues only 50,000 permanent visas (apx .04% of the population) annually. And due to the cost and excessive restrictions placed on those visas, only the wealthiest and well-connected Mexican citizens are able to obtain them. Most Mexican citizens looking for work in America are far too poor to acquire these visa through regular channels, so they are left with no other option than to risk their lives by sneaking across 50 miles of desert with only as much water and personal belongings as they can carry, then hope they aren’t shot, die of thirst/heatstroke, or bitten by one of the many rattlesnakes or scorpions littering the badlands between Mexico and the U.S.. In other instances, guides called “coyotes”… typically drug smugglers… promise to smuggle them into the country for a price, only to be left to die locked in the back of an 18-wheeler baking in the hot Texas sun.

Because we’ve made entering our country so difficult with borders in near lockdown, those who sneak across, come to stay… permanently. And because they know they probably will not be able to sneak back in if they go back home, often bring their entire families with them or else would likely never see them again.

There is something sinfully wrong with blaming illegal immigrants for a problem we ourselves created. Unlike Ellis Island at the turn of the century where we welcomed millions of immigrants into our country… immigrants that assembled Model-T’s on Ford’s assembly line, patrolled our streets as policemen and built the skyscrapers of The Empire State… whom we allowed to travel back to their homelands without fear of not being able to re-enter the country, we’ve now become more isolationist than ever before. Between being terrorized on a near daily basis by our own government, to fear of the possibility of terrorists entering our country, to plain old ‘mericun racism that dislikes anyone that doesn’t speak English, the United States has rolled up the welcome mat and rescinded Lady Liberty’s pledge: “Give us your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to breath free“.

History has shown what happens to countries that isolate themselves from the outside world: China, once the inventor of gun powder, rocket propulsion and from whom Marco Polo introduced “spaghetti” to Italy after visiting in 1275, built The Great Wall of China (in mid 1300’s), cut itself off from the outside world, and quickly became one of the poorest and technologically under-developed nations on the planet until reopening its doors and allowing the outside world back in during the latter half of the 20th century. Ditto for the Soviet Union behind “the iron curtain” and East Germany behind The Berlin Wall. All of these nations fell into economic, scientific and cultural decay after cutting themselves off from the outside world. While nations like the U.S., with its open borders and welcoming of immigrants grew from “a minor agricultural state” of mostly farmers to one of the great global super-powers in a span of just 50 years.

But today we seem to be following in the path of early China, Russia and East Germany.

The solution to our immigration problem with Mexico may not be *tighter* borders, but in fact *freer* ones. Increased security and tighter identification to protect us from “evil-doers” (as President Bush likes to call them) installed at a handful of freely crossable border “checkpoints”. By making the border easier to cross but only at select points would allow us to control the flow of exactly who enters our country and why. (right now, we have no idea who/where these people are that are sneaking in illegally.) And the ability to cross back and forth without fear of not being allowed to return gives immigrants less reason to stay permanently or bring their entire families with them. Coyote’s… the inhuman traffickers that prey on human misery… would be put out of business. Companies that believe they can abuse their immigrant workers because they know they have no legal recourse, would likewise be forced to behave responsibly.

But instead, we have a bunch of bureaucrats and closet racists that play on our darkest fears in hopes of turning what was once the freest, most scientifically and culturally advanced nation on the planet, and turn us into an East German gulag, locked behind an Iron Curtain, where science is frowned upon and “economic development” means raising the price of oil.

Every illegal immigrant does not have to be made a U.S. citizen with this solution. For those illegal immigrants already working/living in this country that aren’t about to “commute” to/from Mexico every day and wish to stay in the U.S., they can be assigned “work permits” that only need be renewed every year in order to stay and work in this country. Thus rendering moot the “rewarding criminals” argument that rallies Conservatives on this issue.

Wanna spread an opinion about immigration and the future of our nation? Please forward THIS story. Not the xenophobic one.

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The RNC Debates Show Next President Will Be a Democrat.
Debate marred by fumbles, foibles and defensiveness.
May 4th, 2007 by Admin Mugsy

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No doubt about it. If tonight’s performance is any indicator of what’s to come, expect 2008 to be a repeat of the ’96 Clinton/Dole thrashing where President Clinton’s optimism of the looming Millennium trounced Bob Dole’s cranky-old-man looking backwards longing for the simpler days of yesteryear. MSNBC hosted the first Republican Presidential candidates debate live from the Reagan Presidential Library in California.

Ten old white men stood on stage trying to convince us of the GOP’s “Big Tent” philosophy. Compare that to the 9 DNC candidates that include the first serious Woman, African American, and Hispanic presidential contenders in American history… and not one of them, forced to defend a President with a 28% approval rating.

Like The Passion of the Christ, the ghost of Ronald Reagan was resurrected at every opportunity. Not only were the debates held in the Reagan Presidential Library in the shadow of his mothballed Air Force One 747, his name was evoked no fewer than 16 times during the 90 minute debate (either by name or in the form of “the man whose library we are in”). Romney and Giuliani shared top honors with three invocations each of The Gipper… though Rudy probably wins that push by being the very first speaker and invoking Reagan’s name twice during his initial :30 second introduction.

In the week before the debate, viewers were allowed to submit questions they would like the candidates to answer. Unfortunately, those questions are no longer online, but a quick perusal by me at the time found between 90%-95% of the questions angry, accusatory and adversarial… most certainly asked by Democratic voters angry over the parade of abuses by the Bush Administration and the Conservative crime-wave that were Jack Abramoff, Mark folley, Tom Delay… ad infinitum. It appears MSNBC choose to exclude the adversarial questions and stick to those that seemed most likely to come from Republican voters. The most adversarial question of the night asked Sen. John McCain, “Do you believe in evolution?” The query was turned into a group question, of which three of the ten candidates raised their hands when asked, “Who here does NOT believe in evolution?” How anyone can look at our Chimp-in-Chief and dismiss any possibility that we are descended from apes, is beyond me.

Another question asked, first of Rudy Giuliani and then of the remaining candidates, specifically if they supported the idea of a “National Identification Card” as a means of dealing with illegal immigration. All but one (two?) said they supported the concept (with Texas Rep. Ron Paul the lone holdout on strict Conservative “right to privacy” grounds). Rudy was ADAMANT that the means of identification be “tamper resistant“. Hey Rudy, you know what’s the most “tamper resistant” means of identification? Have ID numbers tattooed  on  everybody’s  arms! Then, when the next question was asked of Governor Romney, he preceded his response by “clarifying” that he previously meant that only IMMIGRANTS should be forced to carry such a card, not natural born citizens. All of the other candidates suddenly chimed in with quick “Me too!” clarifications. Funny, because that wasn’t the question. And just how do they intend to get immigrants to carry these cards? And if you don’t have one, does that mean you’re a citizen? Reminds me of Cheech & Chong’s “Born in East LA” where he is asked to produce his “Green Card”. “Green card??? I’m from East LA!” (watch entire movie here). I mean, why on Earth would anyone carry a card that proves your NOT a natural born ‘mericun??? I don’t think they thought that one out too carefully, if you ask me.

Another fun moment was when Hard-Right wingnut Duncan Hunter tried to minimize John McCain’s veteran status by noting, “You’re not the only candidate up here with military credentials Senator McCain. I’m chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.” Oooooooooh, I bet that’ll have McCain looking for Hunter in his rear-view mirror! Another fun moment? Hunter making the case for War with Iran. Vote for Hunter if you’re worried about the war ending too soon… say, before the year 2100.

If there was a “sane” Republican in the debate, it had to be Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the lone Republican candidate (trailing far back in the polls) who voted against invading Iraq in the first place, and angrily condemned President Bush’s illegal wiretaps and suspension of Hapeas Corpus. Alas, he also argued in favor of abolishing all government-funded social programs, and over-turning Roe v. Wade, virtually assuring that no Democrats will be voting for him either.

All through the debate, one could not help but notice that the three leading candidates, McCain, Giuliani and Romney, were all trying to distance themselves from past remarks or public perceptions that hurt them in the polls… most notably Romney and Giuliani’s past support for Abortion Rights and McCain’s support for the war in Iraq. The first two bobbed & weaved like Oscar de La Hoya, explaining that they would seek to overturn Roe, while McCain took every opportunity to call the handling of the war in Iraq a complete & total disaster.

As political comedian Bill Maher pointed out in an interview last week: Republicans are desperately looking for “the next Ronald Reagan”, with his sunny optimism. Problem is, after abandoning long-time Conservative principles against “nation building” and standing for “fiscal responsibility”, the only thing Conservatives have left to run on is terror and fear.” The only candidates expressing “optimism about the future” and ending the war in Iraq, are the Democrats. So unless, through some nightmarish disaster, the two candidates turn out to be “Joe Lieberman (I-CT)” vs. Ron Paul (R-TX)”, I just don’t see anyone looking at the two candidates and deciding that extending the hell that has been the Bush Presidency for another four years is a good idea.

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