"It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubborness of the inorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed." - Albert Einstein

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I aspire to a stubbornly incorrigible nonconformity. The degree to which I have achieved my aspiration I leave in the capable hands of those whose wisdom and humilty exceed my own.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On March 25, 2008 Chelsea Clinton was campaigning for her mother, Senator Hillary Clinton. The younger Ms. Clinton was making one in a series of campaign stops at college campuses at Butler College in Indianapolis, Indiana. A student journalist asked Ms. Clinton if Senator Clinton's credibility was harmed by former President Bill Clinton's involvement with a White House intern.

The younger Ms. Clinton responded to the question with remarkable poise and grace, "Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business."

I am no fan or supporter of Hillary Clinton or former President Clinton. I believe that there are way too many unanswered questions about Whitewater, futures trading, and long misplaced files suddenly appearing on a table in the White House. Beyond that I am much more impressed that while Senator Clinton was practicing law and doing her "First Lady" gigs, Senator Obama was working with and for, and living among the poor and marginalized in Chicago.

Senator Clinton apparently "misspoke" about whether or not she was "under fire" in Eastern Europe, which seems odd to me, since I am quite sure that if you were for the one and only time in your life under fire in a combat zone I believe it would sufficiently impress itself upon your mind that it would be highly unlikely that you might "misspeak"about it years later, and only when campaigning for President of the United States. If, in fact, Senator Clinton did misspeak about being under fire, I would have serious concerns about her cognitive lapses.

Lastly, Senator Clinton's abrupt relocation to New York, a large state with a large Democratic voting block, seems to me to be a completely transparent attempt to position herself for a presidential campaign. Senator Clinton assumed that the Democratic party would enthusiastically embrace her and bestow the mantle of candidate upon her by default. Senator Clinton did not anticipate that Senator Obama wold be such a popular candidate.

But beyond all of that I am very troubled by how negative Senator Clinton has been in attacking Senator Obama, and we are still in the primary campaign.

So when the younger Clinton speaks with such grace and poise, is direct, makes no clever attempt to avoid or dismiss the question, and answers honestly with a tact far in excess of the question, I am very pleased. In fact, I want to know when Chelsea will run for something.

The student journalist who asked the question later defended the question by lamely claiming he was interested in Chelsea's response, principally to illustrate how Senator Clinton successfully negotiated a difficult time in her life. I think I can hear his nose growing now.

Regrettably, and amazingly, that has not been the end of it. Again on March 31, 2008 Chelsea Clinton was at North Carolina State University and was asked a similar question. The younger Ms. Clinton's response was equally tactful, poised, graceful, and direct.

It does make me question how truthful the American public is being when they consistently say that they don't like negative campaigning, since these inappropriate questions keep coming up and all the research indicates that despite our faint protests, negative campaigning works.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


On the evening of Tuesday April 1, 2008 I received an email from one of my Senators, Patty Murray. The subject line was "Rallying Against The Tanker Decision". In the email Senator Murray wrote that she protested the Air Force's "misguided decision to award a $40 billion tanker refueling contract to the European company Airbus."

I am simply appalled and I share my response to Senator Murray here.

Senator Murray,


  • As this nation spends literally billions of dollars daily to wage a war
    falsely claiming to be a retaliation against terrorists who were raised and
    trained in Saudi Arabia and based on overstatements, exaggerations, outright
    lies, and pretext to satisfy President Bush’s attempt to build his legacy on the
    backs of dedicated young men and women and the bodies of Iraqis
  • As no bid contracts are awarded to large corporations with ties to the administration and those same contractors are found to be wasting and/or embezzling the funds that American citizens have paid in taxes and borrowed against their children’s and grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s futures
  • As young men and women are deployed multiple times to fight an insurgent and now civil war with no realistic prospect of any hope for a resolution within sight - particularly given our experience of Viet Nam and the more recent and ongoing real world example of the utter and folly of a “war against terrorism” in the Middle East
    As daily more of those same young men and women come home not in uniform but in body bags
  • As the Democratic majority has been unwilling and/or unable to take an affirmative stand against the illegal, immoral, and ultimately unforgivable actions of the current administration while we watch our international legitimacy and currency erode with every new picture or story of American atrocities and excesses …

    And I could but will not go on.

    I find your “Rallying against the tanker decision” to be an obscene waste of your precious time as my representative in Congress. From everything that I have read the contract was awarded to the lowest bid who provided the best value for the money proposed, which of course, will be borrowed against the futures of my children and grandchildren and …

    I find it inexcusable that you
  • Have been unable to find as much passion to oppose the war in Iraq
  • To demand that the President acknowledge that there never were any weapons of mass destruction, terrorists from Iraq, or any terrorist training bases in Iraq, at least until the United States pressured some nations to join us in an unprovoked attack against a sovereign nation
  • To publicly admit that the only planes allowed to fly immediately following the bombings in New York and Washington DC were Saudi planes allowing material witnesses sought for interview by the FBI
  • Have not demanded that the President keep his word and fire any and all persons involved in the wanton release of a CIA operative’s name in retaliation for the truth spoken by her husband which was contrary to the Administration position and thus jeopardized her life and career as well as the life of her family
  • Have not demanded that the President and all members of his staff fully and unequivocally comply with the provisions of the Geneva Convention and oppose all forms of inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners and in particular denounce and reject any act of torture
  • That you have not demanded that the present administration immediately cease dealing with any contracted provider who was awarded a contract without competitive bidding and demand a full accounting of all excesses, waste, and embezzlement of millions of dollars and demand that any person including Chief Operating Officers, executives, or members of the present administration who have been found to have participated in such acts receive the same type of punishment that a young black man would receive for shoplifting.
Airbus won the contract in competitive bidding. Apparently it has been acceptable to this nation for decades that we supply arms to the world, including supplying arms to brutal dictators when it served a "national interest" and including supplying arms that American soldiers ultimately faced in Iraq when it was no longer in our national interests to support Saddam Hussein. And now we are supplying logistics and arms to Pakistan in what promises to be a repeat of a historical pattern of arming brutal, oppressive regimes in what is a truly misguided hope that we will benefit from the support of that regime and achieve some good end. It seems only just that when a provider, regardless of where their coprpoate headquarters are located, submits the lowest bid in a competitive bid and meets and/or exceeds the standards established for satisfying the bid, that the contract be awarded to that provider. If we truly believe in the capitalistic democracy and the free operation of the markets then we should believe in and demonstrate that in what we do. If we act against our own rhetoric, as we have so often done in the past, we can hardly expect that people will be willing to have confidence in our rhetoric.