Sunday in Semi-Rural Red

The following is a true story of what can happen on a beautiful, sunny, Sunday afternoon in a parking lot in semi-Rural Red.

Setting: Although we’re still in Ashcroft Country, this place isn’t quite as rural or as red as the town where we last hung our hat.

So, as usual, when headed to the grocery store, I wore one of my Kerry/Edwards or Boston Convention tees. Just because. @;-) Driving into the lot, I happened behind a minivan with a Kerry sticker I’d not seen before.

“Rednecks for Kerry: Real People Need Real Jobs!”

I followed the van and parked next to it. Got out of the jeep, knocked on the window, and had a rousing conversation with the 60ish couple inside the van.

We talked about Kerry. We talked about the 2000 & 2004 selections. We talked about the 2006 election. We talked about the 2008 election. We talked about Diebold. We talked about the torture bill. (And the folly of leaving the defination of what torture is up to Mr. Bush.) We talked about taking the pulse of the country this coming November. And we talked about our efforts to put Claire McCaskill in the Senate.

It was a good talk.

I went into the store. I came out of the store. I walked to my jeep.

I passed behind a truck with a battered Kerry/Edwards sticker. I went up to the truck, knocked on the window, and told the man inside that I liked his bumper sticker.
He said, “Oh yeah, my wife just couldn’t bring herself to take it off.”

So we chatted.

I got in the jeep. As I backed out, the man with the truck and his wife were loading their groceries and he was pointing to me. So I stopped, got out, and she and I chatted. She said she would have given anything to have gone to the convention. She said she couldn’t think of anything better than to be a Democrat and go to Boston and hear John Kerry and Ted Kennedy speak. I told her it was a memory for a lifetime. And I told her I loved that she still had her sticker on her car. She smiled.

Change is in the air. We are in charge of reality. We are.

The War on Religion and The Duchy of Grand Fenwick

I’ve finally figured out the strategy of the religious right. They are taking lessons from Peter Sellers. In his movie The Mouse that Roared the Duchy of Grand Fenwick declares war on the United States under the assumption that losing the war would lead to them receiving foreign aide from the US to rebuild such as in Europe and Japan after World War II. I’m reminded of this movie by an article in The New York Times on the benefits religion receives from various exceptions. After commening on some of the benefits received, they note the claims of a “war on religion.”

In recent years, many politicians and commentators have cited what they consider a nationwide “war on religion” that exposes religious organizations to hostility and discrimination. But such organizations — from mainline Presbyterian and Methodist churches to mosques to synagogues to Hindu temples — enjoy an abundance of exemptions from regulations and taxes. And the number is multiplying rapidly.

The exemptions and other special breaks given to religious organizations give them an unfair advantage over non-religious organizations which may be competing with them as religious organizations are expanding far beyond religion;

As a result of these special breaks, religious organizations of all faiths stand in a position that American businesses — and the thousands of nonprofit groups without that “religious” label — can only envy. And the new breaks come at a time when many religious organizations are expanding into activities — from day care centers to funeral homes, from ice cream parlors to fitness clubs, from bookstores to broadcasters — that compete with these same businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Just like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, religious organizations may see an advantage in claiming to be at war, but they are actually benefiting greatly from aide from the United States government.

Kerry Stands Up to Swift Boating of Patrick Murphy

During his interview with Bill Maher on Friday night (video), John Kerry made it clear he would not stand for further Swift Boating. He is not only applying that to himself, but to other Democrats. Taylor Marsh (at Patriot Project and Huffington Post) quotes from an attack by Mike Fitzpatrick on Patrick Murphy for his sevice in Iraq:

“It just seems to me that Patrick Murphy, from what I understand, was not a front-line fighter. That is how it seems to me his service has been characterized. It’s honorable, but it seems to me that you have front line guys and rear guard guys. You’ve got rear-guard guys and front line guys. You’ve got front line guys here. It just seems to me that Patrick Murphy wasn’t one of them.”

Kerry’s response:

I won’t stand for the ‘swift boating’ of Patrick Murphy. It disgusts me that a congressman who has never worn the uniform of our country stands there in silence as a veteran home from Iraq has his service disparaged.

No one who has ever served would tolerate this kind of slander about a fellow veteran. In 2000, George Bush stood in silence while John McCain’s service was questioned. It was wrong then, it is wrong now for Mike Fitzpatrick to engage in the same double-speak. What is it these Republicans who never served have against Democrats who did?

“I have news for Mike Fitzpatrick. In war, bullets don’t differentiate between lawyers and medics, enlisted men and officers.

“You know why Mike Fitzpatrick is engaged in the lowest form of smear and fear politics? Because he’s afraid of actually debating Patrick Murphy about the disastrous war in Iraq. He’s afraid to debate a veteran who lives and breathes the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor. He’s terrified of actually leveling with the American people about the way the administration misled America into war, and admitting their stay the course slogans just guarantee more Americans die for a stand still and lose strategy. Mike Fitzpatrick should finally find the courage to debate the real issue instead of cowardly having his surrogates try to destroy anyone who speaks truth to power. It’s unacceptable to do this to any leader of any party anywhere in our country.”

Kerry has certainly learned from the 2004 campaign, and will be a much stronger candidate if he runs again in 2008.

Republicans Fall to New Lows in Polls

Newsweek finds that polling results are getting worse for the Republicans as the news of the Foley scandal came out shortly after other unfavorable news. Republicans can no longer claim to be the party of moral values as Democrats now lead Republicans 42% to 36% as the party more trusted on moral values. Bush’s approval has fallen to 33% which is a new low for this poll.

Previously the Republicans used fear of terrorism to improve support when they were in trouble, but this may no longer work. For the first time, Democrats lead Republicans by 44% to 37% on the question of who is more trusted to fight the war on terror. The polling results are even worse on Iraq:

for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll, a majority of Americans now believe the Bush administration knowingly misled the American people in building its case for war against Saddam Hussein: 58 percent vs. 36 percent who believe it didn’t. And pessimism over Iraq is at record highs on every score: nearly two in three Americans, 64 percent, believe the United States is losing ground there; 66 percent say the war has not made America safer from terrorism (just 29 percent believe it has); and 53 percent believe it was a mistake to go to war at all, again the first time the NEWSWEEK poll has registered a majority in that camp.