Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fear Factor

During my Thanksgiving travels I was looking at the big signs that now blanket our highways asking us to report any suspicious activity. Since 9/11 the administration has ratcheted up the fear quotient of this country to astronomical levels in the name of security. And not just security, the same fear has been used to cowl the electorate into casting their votes for "staying the course". And it has worked spectacularly well until this last election when people finally realized that they were not safer, that IRAQ is a disaster, and that the DEMOCRATS are not the devil. People are beginning to see that they are being lied to and manipulated for the good of the Republican party.

I am thankful for many things in my life. Family, health, food security (lol) and the fact that the eyes of the country are being opened. Thank God.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Long Live the King

There is a popular quote from revolutionary times that is often attributed to Ben Franklin. Regardless of the author it is appropriate for this entry: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"

The administration now claims that "enemy combatants" subjected to "approved interrogation" methods are denied the right to talk about how they were treated because the interrogation methods have been labelled "top secret" so the enemy combatants would be breaking security laws by revealing in what way they were "integrrogated" (read that as "tortured").

And everyone is OK with this?

I think the election was a step in the right direction to reign in the imperial presidency but I am stunned that anyone reads the above argument and nods in agreement.

The idea that we should be governed by leaders who do not reveal what they are doing under the guise of security is false. Our democracy flourishes with an open government that is beholden to the people and answers to the people.

I can only hope that we will continue our march back to the middle and end the current administration's efforts to increase presidential power and deny the people's right to know what is going on.

Let freedom ring.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Judge not, let ye be judged.

I guess it was to be expected. POTUS talks the reconciliation talk but can't bring himself to walk the walk as he resubmits judicial nominations that are unacceptable to the incoming Democrats. It's disappointing that our leaders would rather throw up barriers to governing instead of leading, under the guise of standing on principle. It's going to be a long 2 years if the word "compromise" is expunged from the government dictionary.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Democrats on the right track

In spite of Nancy Pelosi's meddling in the whip election, sanity triumphed and Steny Hoyer was the winner. I am breathing a sigh of relief. Just as I like the idea of divided government between the legislative and executive branch, I like the idea of Steny Hoyer moderating the much more liberal inclinations of Ms. Pelosi. Just a little more PURPLE makes all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A "few" bad apples.

I saw a republican representative make the case for earmarks by stating that the practice of directing federal dollars to constituent districts has been sullied by a "few" members who have abused the system.

If by a "few", he means "most" then he is correct. With billions of dollars to play with the temptation to abuse the system is enormous. Good judgement seems to go out the window as a representative moves up the ladder of influence and seniority. And most egregious is the fact that the party leaders turn a blind eye or tacitly endorse the abuse.

Maybe earmarks are beneficial and maybe federal dollars are well spent when thoughfully allocated to benefit a small portion of the country. Bu the process is broken.

To my way of thinking the whole process of bringing bills to the floor is broken. A bill should stand on it's own. No riders that have nothing to do with the main issue. No legislation should be anonymous. Congressional members should proudly place their efforts before the public and their colleagues for consideration and an addition to their record of service.

No bill or earmark should be automatic. We elect our representatives to be our proxy in the political process. We expect them to use good judgement in determining what is best for the country, the district, the constituents and the representative him/herself (in that order).

Hopefully the new blood in the legislative process will begin to turn the tide of corruption and ethical chicanery back to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What price loyalty?

Murtha vs. Hoyer. This shouldn't even be the first controversial Democratic issue. Nancy Pelosi pulls for Murtha even though he has ethical questions. Stenny Hoyer is the one to bet and I can only hope that Democrats are paying more than lip service to their declarations of ethical purity in the new Congress. If Murtha is 2nd in command in the House then we start the first inning with 1 strike right out of the box. I can only hope that Pelosi is showing loyalty to a cause she knows is lost. That way she wins both ways. Murtha feels like he has the support he deserves, Pelosi keep everyone happy but gets an ethically clean 2nd in command in Hoyer.

Batter up.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

The Republicans have done the math and if 71,000 votes had gone their way they wouldn't have lost the House of Representatives. Let's move on here. You can manipulate and Monday-morning quarterback election results until you're blue in the face and it makes no difference. A baseball team loses the game 1-0. Can they claim that 2 more runs and they would have won the game. Sure, but it doesn't change the outcome of the game. I'm sure the Democrats can find a few more votes that would have given them an even bigger win but they don't have those votes and the Republicans don't have their votes. The election analysis will go on and on but it's all going to come down to the leadership of those that have been elected.

The Democrats are up to bat. Game on.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Purple President?

Why isn't the President of the United States PURPLE? Sure, his/her nomination and election needs a political agenda so I can understand the party politics that drive someone to be elevated to the highest position in the land but after the election a different mindset should be in place. The POTUS should not be the cheerleader/head of any political party. The POTUS is the leader of the "entire" country, not just the people that voted for him/her and not just the party faithful. Party politics should be left to the heads of the national party organizations. This is part of the problem that we have today. Pushing a party agenda to exclusion of all else without a mandate from the people (what constitutes a mandate anyway?). We all need a leader. Let's hope POTUS and the new Congress can start putting people first.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mushy labels

Party affiliation is still "Democrat", "Republican", "Other". More and more it's the "Other" category that defines us. Now there are "moderate democrats", "conservative democrats", "liberal republicans", etc. Nobody fits into a nice two-party system.

I guess I'm a moderate democrat. I've stated my views on some critical issues in other posts so I won't bother with laying them out again. And I am not alone. The nation grows a little more PURPLE every day to the chagrin of the far ends of the political spectrum who refuse to see the forest through the trees. The world to them is still just RED and/or BLUE with no room for compromise.

I hope to see the far ends continue their march ito irrelevance. That will be good for the country.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Air smells sweeter

I woke up today with a smile on my face for the first time in a long while. The paper did not cause me to grind my teeth in frustration. THe air smells sweeter, the sun seems warmer and all is right with the world.

This bright outlook is not so much the Blue team success as it is the move toward moderation in government which has been sorely lacking for the last 6 years. GO PURPLE. I want the best of both worlds and the election results are a step in the right direction.

It's true that there is a lot of bipartisan feel-good rhetoric issuing forth from the mouths of both sides. I'm pragmatic enough to know that the honeymoon period is not going to last for the next two years but I am optimistic that there will be some middle ground where both sides can play nicely.

POTUS for once has at least acted less arrogant than his normal go-it-alone self. We have almost 500 leaders (435 + 50 + 1) that need to work as a team. POTUS can now go from being a RED team cheerleader using his my-way-or-the-highway approach to bludgeon the opposition (are we still traitors after the election?) to a PURPLE leader who governs from the middle where the people are concentrated. Will he do it? It doesn't really seem to be in his nature but for me, hope springs eternal.

Now I'm going to go out and breathe in the fresh air.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Roy Blunt, Republican majority whip gave a talk to the Heritage Foundation today, discussing Republican losses. Within 10 minutes it was "us" vs. "them". The talk is predicated on the belief that if you are a Democrat (liberal) then you are against family values. Somehow Democrats are the enemy. This is the elitist mentality that centers around the Republican thought process and encourages the hate-speech that comes from the far right. There is no "live and let live" or "love one another" in the Republican leadership.

Democrats are more accepting of the differences among us. That doesn't make them soft on family values. I can't even fathom how a person can be a "gay" republican as the entire party agenda is designed to exclude, marginalize and restrict your rights in this country. The minorities and the poor seem to also fall into that category as well. Republicans talk alot about returning this country to the people but their definition of who those "people" are, is not very inclusive.

The bipartisan talk lasted 1 day. Let the games begin.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Political Decision making

When is the President's decision making not political? Bush has asked Rumsfeld to resign following the Republican losses yesterday. He was asked why he didn't do it earlier especially after saying that Rumsfeld was doing a "fantastic" job and would be there until 2008. His response was that he never makes his decisions based on political expediency and that he didn't want to discuss a possible change before the elections.

What? Isn't every decision the President makes, by it's very nature, a political calculation? Bush can safely kick Rumsfeld to the curb now because the political climate is ripe for that change. Hanging on to the Defense Secretary before the elections was done specifically to avoid appearing to doubt the job that being done. Isn't this the same "fantastic" job evaluation that the FEMA chief received after Katrina?

These types of things should be done when they are necessary or desired, not when the political winds give you some cover to do so. Bush is definitely right when he says this is a chance for a new set of eyes and a new management style.

Step 1 of a new America

God's eyes

If the Republicans had prevailed they would thank God for watching over the country so as a member of the BLUE team I want to thank God for watching over the country. We are on the wrong path and the election is a referendum for a new path.

It's a path that still relies on family values, freedom and democracy. The pendulum is swinging to the middle and I couldn't be happier. Too much RED or too much BLUE is not good. PURPLE is the color of choice.

So what's the plan. If Nancy Pelosi calls me (fat chance) this is what I want:

1. A firm democratic plan for a change of direction in IRAQ. More troops to secure the country. More accountability on the IRAQI government for security and a mediation of the sectarian violence that is destroying everthing in it's path. Partitioning the country won't work (see how well ISRAEL and PALESTINE are playing together). It's a delicate balance but we need to raise the morale of the troops by finding a way to bring the longest serving members home and minimizing the STOP-LOSS implementations that constantly abuse our service personnel by keeping them past their promised return dates.

2. No impeachment. POTUS deserves impeachment hearings but just as Ford let Nixon off the hook for the good of the country the same should be done here. It will tear the country apart during a time of war when we must stand together.

3. Restore the checks and balances that Congress should apply to the Executive branch. This country should not be under an imperial presidency. Restore the 1978 Surveillance Act mandates for judicial oversight. I can't stress this enough. Despite what the Republicans say, this does not restrict surveillance or delay it or weaken it. All it does is require the surveillance be documented and tested by the courts. It can be done AFTER the fact so there is no delay. War does not abrogate the rights of the citizens or the rule of law. Accountability is the key here.

4. Show some honesty on budget matters and start the process of restoring the nation's solvency after 6 years of unrestrained spending. Maybe that will require "revenue increases" which the Republicans call tax increases. Both sides do it but hide it under other names. Nancy Pelosi has already stated that tax cuts to the top 1% are targetted but that tax cuts for the middle class will stay in place (were there any) or be implemented.

5. Secure our ports through inspection of incoming cargo. Implementation of the 911 commission recommendations. Why the RED team has not implemented them continues to elude me.

That's a good start. There's a new day in America.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stay the course?

It's election day. I'm praying for PURPLE. In the 2004 elections only 60% of registered voters went to the polls. If you're a registered voter, make the time and make a difference.

The President has stated that he is pleased with the progress in IRAQ. Donald Rumsfeld is doing a "fantastic job", IRAQ is the main front in the war on terror, your taxes are low, the deficit is high, social security and medicare payments are on life support, joblessness is low, poverty is at an all-time high, there are more millionaires then ever before (the Forbes top 400 are all billionaires), interest rates are climbing, congressional interns are being solicited by protected members of Congress, evangelical ministers are preaching against homosexuality and drugs while they buy methamphetamine and pay for sex. New Orleans has not recovered from the twin disasters of natural forces and government negligence and apathy. 20% of the President's time is spent on vacation at his ranch. Lobbyists control Congress and only half of our population is being represented by our leaders.

If you're happy with the direction of the country then there is nothing that can be said or done to make your want a change in leadership. Pull the lever for RED and move on.

It's true that a vote for change most likely means a vote for the BLUE team which will color the country a pleasing shade of PURPLE. The pendulum is swinging to the middle. The radical right AND the radical left will be disenfranchised. The politics of fear, hate, intolerance and elitist favoritism will be left behind. If you're not in the top 1% of wage earners I find it impossible to believe that you are satisfied with the condition of this country in all aspects.

Vote for change. You still get the war on terror, you still get protection from terrorists, you still get the war in IRAQ, you will get family values. The issues that concern you will be debated, discussed and acted upon.


We have nothing to fear but fear itself

If I ever run for president I'm going to hire the TV writers to be my speech writers. I'm going to start this entry and paraphrase the speech given by the President in the movie "The American President":

>>...America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free"... This is a country made up of people with hard jobs that they're terrified of losing. The roots of freedom are of little or no interest to them at the moment. We are a nation afraid to go out at night. We're a society that has assigned low priority to education and has looked the other way while our public schools have been decimated. We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious men to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, friend, I promise you, George W. Bush is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it.

So there it is. The head of the Republican party wants you to be afraid. Be afraid of change.

Don't make a move during wartime even though the war is now 4 years old and shows no sign of ever ending. I guess when it's still going on in 2008 the argument will be to continue with the Republicans in the executive office because we're still fighting a war and we shouldn't make any changes if we don't have to.

He doesn't say your taxes MAY go up, he tells you they WILL go up. The Democrats are arguing for fiscal sanity. Stop giving money to the people that the government doesn't have. I heard someone say yesterday, "When you're in a hole and you want to get out, stop digging." The Republicans have heavily mortgaged our future and our childrens' future and they have no plan to pay off the mortgage. In fact they want to take out some more mortgages. "Stop digging".

POTUS argues that his agenda will be coopted. That's what checks and balances are all about. Even with full Republican control of the wheels of government, the agenda is mired in the mud. Clinton became a better president when he was forced to govern from the middle after the 1994 elections. I think the executive and legislative branches function best when held by different parties. The pendulum is swinging to the middle where it belongs and POTUS must govern from the middle.

Family values are somehow in peril as well. It's as if Democrats don't believe in God, don't go to church, don't raise Christian families. Since when. Democrats seem more Christian in many ways then the Republicans who preach intolerance and hate. Live and let live. Read my discussion about loving your neighbor. Nobody will suddenly turn gay because they are suddenly given some legal protection.

Terrorists will not up the ante because a Democrat is in charge. They hate our way of life regardless of our political colors. Democrats want terrorists brought to justice. They want the recommendations of the 911 commission implemented (which the Republicans have balked at). They want all shipping containers inspected, they want trials for terrorists. they want to listen in on terrorist communications although they want the courts to sanction it after the fact to ensure that our laws are being followed. There is no delay in that despite what POTUS wants you to believe. They want justice. They want it as bad as the RED team does (maybe more). POTUS somehow wants you to believe that is not so.

Fear is no justification for selecting a candidate to represent you. Study the candidates and listen to your heart. Pull the lever for PURPLE.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Signs of the times

Are Republicans suddenly ashamed of their conservative credentials? My neighborhood is festooned with campaign signs. Interestingly all of the signs are BLUE. Republican RED is nowhere to be found. The RED teams doesn't want to advertise their team colors. In fact the word "REPUBLICAN" is not even part of the signage. Why?

I assume that the idea is to confuse the electorate. Keep then guessing what your values and issues really are. Hide, obfuscate and deceive them in the hopes that they will pull the lever for you on election day.

If the candidate believes we belong in IRAQ and that the war is being waged correctly then standup and drape yourself in the robe of conservatism. If he/she believes that POTUS has carte-blance in fighting the war on terror without regards to the rule of law, judicial oversight or any of the legislative checks and balances that are part of our democracy then they should have no trouble putting the big (R) next to their name on all their signs. If POTUS can ignore any parts of any law that he wants to under the guise of presidential perogative to interpret the constitutionality of the law regardless of judicial opinions then it should be no problem to emblazon their signs with shades of RED.

I have a lot of respect for a candidate that stands by their convictions in the face of adversity regardless of the political consequences. Those candidates have my vote.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Love Thy Neighbor

Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Matthew 5:43-44
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

I cannot figure out how the far right can wave the family morals flag and condemn others in the face of the two citations above. There are many other citations like these in the Bible and they all preach the same thing. If the country got behind these values we would do much to heal the divisions among us.

Would civil unions in the gay community destroy the values of the country? I would argue "no" Science has shown a genetic/hormonal component for same-sex attraction. Sanctioning civil unions would not cause a sudden surge in the number of gay people. Live and let live. Let bygones be bygones, turn the other cheek. Does any of this ring a bell?

When evangelicals and preachers spout fire and brimstone against the gay community I watched in open-mouthed wonder. Are they reading the same bible I am? Republicans wrap themselves in the values flag but in many cases appear to be lacking the Christian actions to support their indignation.

To my mind "inclusivness" is not part of the Republican agenda. You'r either with them or you are a traitor and subject to eternal damnation. Democrats don't appear to me to be anywhere near as hypocritical as the right.

Love Thy Neighbor. Is this really a complex commandment? Just do it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Every vote counts

I lost a debate contest in high school and the winning debate was a discussion about how every vote counts. That debate is the cornerstone of our democracy and it is critical to this election (as it is to all other elections).

I grind my teeth as I read the articles that seem to indicate that the Republicans primary goal for the polling places is to challenge and intimidate voters. They want your vote if it's a RED vote but would much rather you stay at home if it's a BLUE vote.

The Democrats don't seem to have that same priority. Maybe that's just good marketing. The BLUE team seems to want all the votes in the belief that the wave of change is in the air and that if everyone who wants a change casts their votes the tide will be in their favor.

Regardless of your affiliation the goal of our leaders should be to encourage you to vote. The more votes that are cast the better the reflection of our country's morals and values. If you're a law-abiding citizen of this country you should be given the opportunity to vote. You should not be discouraged or disenfranchised because of your beliefs, race, affiliation, etc.

BLUE, RED, or PURPLE....Stay the course, time for a change, rich, poor, middle-class, blue-collar, white-collar. It doesn't matter. Take your beliefs, take the time and on November 7th....VOTE. Be a part of the process and let freedom ring.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

When is a law a law?

"We believe that judges ought to strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench,"

Another case of POTUS talking the talk but refusing to walk the walk. There is an article in the NY times ( ) that pretty much makes the case that Bush believes that the laws passed by Congress and signed by him do not apply to him. He is free to disregard any and all parts of the "law" by using a "signing statement" to clarify his view. Basically Bush is setting himself up as judge and jury. Definitely not what was envisioned by our forefathers.

This is no way to run our country.

The doom and gloom argument

Republicans are arguing that a vote for a Democrat, any Democrat is the beginning of the end of the world. It's hard to find that argument credible in the face of the tremendous abuses that have taken place under full Republican control.

POTUS has long argued that his tax policy is helping everyone. He often bragged about the 600 dollars that he returned to taxpayers after his first round of tax cuts. At the same time those tax cuts took place the administration very nicely cut education outlays prompting enormous increases at the state level for college tuition. Increases that far exceeded the 600 dollar check from Uncle Sam. This is the kind of deceit now being practiced on the public in the name of conservatism.

POTUS has long argued that the administration has no control over oil pricing and that is pretty much the truth as OPEC holds the reins on this pony. Short of a moratorium on all foreign oil our hands are tied. Of course when gas prices go down the administration shouts it from the rooftops as if they accomplished the price break. Again, a deceitful manipulation of the facts.

All administrations do it but the current conservatives do it more flagrantly. They are in full control and yet the bad news is caused by liberals and traitors who dare to question the decision making at the top while the good news is all attributed to conservative policies. Deceit of the highest order.

Democrats question the loss of the legislative checks and balances on the executive branch and are quickly accused of being soft on security. POTUS signs all kinds of laws but includes official statements asserting his right to ignore the law in areas that he believes are unconstitutional. When did we indicate that we wanted unchecked power in the presidency. Didn't Watergate teach anything?
Asking for a return of those checks and balances with judical oversight of executive branch actions is not abrogating our security but strengthening our democracy.

Democrats question tax-cuts when we have mortgaged our future and are running enormous deficits. How can anyone argue about that? How do the Republicans plan to pay for the cuts that continue to be implemented? Does anyone ever look at the nice pie chart that shows how much of every dollar in revenue goes toward servicing the debt? It makes me sick everytime I see it and that piece of the pie just continues to get bigger and bigger. When Clinton left office we were well on our way to being able to use ALL of the revenue for the good of the country. Now that has all been rubber-stamped away by the conservatives.

The lies and deceit must stop. The checks and balances must be restored. The deficit needs to be dealt with. Examine the candidates and vote for the ones that will do that. For the most part the RED team is turning a blind eye to all of this. My voting card is fairly BLUE right now but there are several RED candidates that will get my vote because they appear ready to address some of these issues. I hope I won't be disappointed but I fear that I will.

Party over Country

Politics should be a two-way street with politicians, leaders and representatives providing direction and choices and the voting public placing the appropriate person into office. Sadly both sides of the equation have failed in their duties.

Our representatives on both sides of the political landscape have abused their positions showing a frightening arrogance and a total disregard for their constituents. They have placed themselves ahead of their party and their party ahead of their country and constituents. The scandals that appear on an almost daily basis continually chip away at the concepts of democracy that are the bedrock of this country. Allowing lobbyists to control the agenda, accepting money in exchange for political access, configuring voting districts to disenfranchise the democratic process, violating the innocence of young interns, twisting the words and actions of others to further their own interests, lying and deceiving the voting public for undisclosed agendas. The list of abuses is almost endless and both sides are guilty.

And the constituents are guilty of aiding and abetting the rape of democracy that happens right under their noses. A majority can't even be bothered to vote or are so disgusted with the process they have abandoned their duty. Many have allowed their party of choice to dictate their actions. It is the duty of each individual to put the best people into positions of power but many have come to the conclusion that they will abdicate their responsibility and leave the decisions up to their RED or BLUE party.

We deserve what we are getting from our leaders. We need to take back the political process. Vote. If you don't vote you have no business complaining about the state of our democracy. Vote for the overall best representative regardless of political leanings. The best representatives will put the people first and that is as it should be. Hold our representatives accountable for their actions and remove them when they violate our trust.

The end result will be a PURPLE democracy and that is as it should be.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Politicians as stand-up comedians

Obviously John Kerry should stick to politics, or at the very least, stick to the script. Political discussions are not considered scintillating conversation by the general population so our "leaders" like to enliven their speeches with humorous anecdotes and one-liners. Kerry attempted a one-liner but botched it by going for brevity instead of clarity. Only Jerry Sienfeld should attempt this.

According to the Kerry camp the one-liner went like this: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."

What Kerry actually said: "Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, and you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

It seems obvious to me that the attempt was to chastise the brain-trust that is prosecuting this war but POTUS and company have turned it into a slight against the troops themselves and demanded that Kerry apologize which he has refused to do.

Kerry is falling into the trap again like every politician does when the going gets tough. Denial (I am not a crook, I did not have sex with that woman), and arrogance (I have nothing to apologize for) only serve to stoke the flames. I'm convinced that if Clinton and Nixon had stepped up and apologized right away there would have been no impeachment or resignation. Politicians never learn.

What should Kerry be doing? Clarify his comment. Apologize for any offense that the misunderstanding has engendered and renew his criticisms of the decisions being made on the prosecution of the war. Demand that his clarification be a part of any discussion that the current administration wants to have about his statements (i.e. If my clarification is not part of an ad or discussion about my initial comment, then you are not being given the whole story).

Sigh....Unfortunately that will not happen. Kerry will stand firm allowing the administration to beat him unmercilessly for the next seven days, damaging the Democratic agenda and diverting attention from the real issues of the day which should be the prosecution of the war.