Point of View Columns

A New York State of Mind

As you are reading this column the New York State legislature will have passed a budget that contains over $10 billion in spending cuts. The budget largely reflects proposals from recently elected New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and it appears that the New York budget scenario is being played out in state capitals across the country.

A few facts – Governor Cuomo is the son of the historically liberal former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and worked for the historically progressive former President Bill Clinton as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He was elected as the progressive alternative and antidote to the toxic right wing of the right wing gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano.

The public in New York and throughout the country has understood that local, state and federal budgets are in need of reformation and restructuring. The damage wrought by the great economic collapse of 2008 cannot be overstated.

Years of treating taxation as punishment instead of part of the price that all people (and corporations) pay for living in a civil society has created unsustainable imbalances that have to be rectified.

The turning point in these fiscal discussions has been focused upon whether these budget battles are going to be about dollars and sense or will they be about reforming the social and political landscape in this country. There are those who are willing to pursue a prudent social services agenda while also being fiscally prudent.

And then there are those who are willing to use the public sector fiscal crisis as a Trojan horse that will permit entry inside the gates built by a century of progressive reform so that they can begin to dismantle the safety nets for all citizens.
The New York state budget is a case in point.

Governor Cuomo and the legislature have determined that no tax increases are possible. Indeed, in the new budget any New York citizen who makes over $200,000 per year will get a tax cut. Meanwhile statewide aid for education will be cut by $1.25 billion and Medicaid benefits will be cut by $2.8 billion.

And certainly, and most clearly, the citizens of New York who earn the least, who own the least and who control the least will be the ones who will bear the brunt of these budget cuts.

This scenario is being replayed from Wisconsin to California to Washington, D.C. The balanced budget mantra is overlaid with the themes of reducing the tax obligations of the wealthiest Americans (and corporations) and reducing the services provided to citizens, especially the citizens with the fewest resources and the greatest need.

There is an empty and heartless meanness to this approach that transcends the numbers and figures that are in a budget discussion. The suggestion that it somehow makes sense that a corporate behemoth like General Electric has a final tax bill of zero while Headstart programs are closed and veterans’ benefits are cut is difficult to comprehend.

Just as no one is entitled to great wealth, no one is entitled to unnecessary hardship and misery – particularly in a country with the highest standard of living in the history of the Planet Earth.

The sense of community that brings citizens together into a caring and cohesive entity is clearly fraying. Perhaps this is attributable to the fact that the sense of shared obligation has been diluted to a point that it is hardly noticeable.

Spending has been supported at the local, state and federal level for everything from football stadiums to bridges to nowhere and the taxation consequences have been largely deferred or ignored.

As is the case for every celebration, there is a bill that has to be paid. It would seem logical, fair and patriotic that those who have benefited the most from American society would have to pay their fair share of the cost of that society.

The constant caterwauling about “no new taxes” might make sense in some other circumstance, but not during a time of crisis. That point seems to be lost upon those who see taxes as punitive and view cutting social services as the only logical choice.

Americans who lived through the Great Depression and World War II learned about shared responsibility and common sacrifice out of necessity. And out of that necessity was born the G.I. Bill and the beginning of the largest middle class expansion in world history up to that point.

That sense of shared responsibility and common sacrifice resulted in everything from the national highway initiative to the Great Society to landmark civil rights bills.

If you wonder if any of those bills would pass today you only need to look at the scorched earth that resulted from the debate and passage of the recent healthcare bill and you will have your answer.

Blanche Dubois was probably wrong to depend on the kindness of strangers. But I do believe that Americans should be able to depend on the compassion and concern of their fellow citizens.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 25, 2011

The weekend begins with impending radiation doom in Japan and more questions about the U.S. military intervention in Libya and where this will lead. President Obama has a lot of explaining to do in the coming week.

Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh continues to insure his first ballot entry into the “Idiots Hall of Fame” even with Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown giving him vigorous competition. Also, a new photography book chronicling the decline of Detroit offers lessons for all.

Once again, you are invited to visit the “Be My Guest” feature of Point of View to read a column by Professor Pamela Newkirk regarding her absolutely fascinating book “Between the Lines – The Power of African American Letters”. You will be doing yourself a great favor by taking the time to read it.

So Limbaugh Thinks Obama is a “Sissy”?

The week was marked by yet another childish smear of President Obama by that perpetual child, Rush Limbaugh. It seems that Limbaugh feels that President Obama is less manly because he didn’t move more quickly to rain death and destruction upon the military assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (and the unfortunate civilians who happen to get in the way).

On the Planet Limbaugh you should shoot first and ask questions later, if at all. Which is exactly why this country is already mired in two seeming endless wars and exactly why serious contemplation of the consequences of military action is needed – now more than ever.

We have already had a Sarah Free February and now a Donald Free March. Perhaps it is time for a Rush Free 2011?

Requiem for Detroit?

The 2010 census report tells us that the population of Detroit is now 713,777. In 1950, when Detroit was the fourth largest city in the United States, its population was 1,850,000. But the numbers do not tell the whole story.

The evisceration of a major metropolis is marked by more than urban flight and urban blight. In a moving book of photographs entitled “The Ruins of Detroit” – http://www.marchandmeffre.com/detroit/index.html – Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have compiled a searing montage of what the death of a city looks like.

There are lessons to be learned in the Detroit tragedy including the enduring possibility of renaissance and renewal. It is clear that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and his administration have not surrendered to the facts as they are and are instead trying to implement a plan of what can be in the new Detroit.

The prospect of renaissance and renewal in Detroit inspires residents of challenged cities across this nation.

There are also the lessons of what happens when corporate aspirations for profit eclipse notions of community and nation. Detroit is not suffering from a natural disaster like the hurricane in New Orleans or the earthquake in Port Au Prince.

The industrial/corporate complex of Detroit, dominated by the automobile industry, miscalculated and misunderstood the changes in their chosen field. They profited mightily from the labor and support of the people of Detroit and now the people of Detroit are paying dearly for these mistakes.

And now, while American automobile companies and their financiers are enjoying record profits, the people of Detroit sort through the rubble in search of renaissance and renewal.

Indeed there are lessons to be learned in Detroit.

Bad Boys Unite!

Charlie Sheen is careening through the Twittersphere and the blogosphere as the world waits for his brain to actually evaporate. He is getting ready to do a national tour including Radio City Music Hall in New York City as one of the venues for his marathon meltdown. Charlie Sheen may go down in history as the best argument against drug abuse ever.

Then Chris Brown throws a Chrissyfit and trashes an ABC dressing room because he didn’t like being asked about his felony conviction involving his brutal assault on his former girlfriend Rihanna.

The fact that he was so angry that he tore off his shirt and stormed out of the studio shirtless is a particularly curious act and indicates that maybe he is in need of a post-graduate anger management class or two.

Of course, if his celebrity had not earned him probation instead of a jail sentence he would probably be a regular resident of the bridal suite at the Los Angeles County Jail – in which case going around shirtless would have been his normal attire.

Where is Dennis Rodman when we need him?

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Beware of the Slippery Slope

President Obama was absolutely correct in resisting being hurried into committing American military forces to what is rapidly becoming a cauldron of combat and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

I am hoping that he is in some way correct in ordering U.S. forces to bomb and strafe Libya as part of a coalition of countries that was formed to protect the insurgents who are battling Muammar Gaddafi.
Military geniuses like Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman flailed away at President Obama for “standing by” while Gaddafi “attacked his own people”. Senator John Kerry and others implored him to “do something”. And now he has done something.

American missiles and bombers are now raining death and destruction upon the forces of Colonel Gaddafi. And there have been “unavoidable civilian casualties”. We are told to blame Gaddafi for interspersing his military assets in civilian areas but you can be certain that many people will see Americans killing Muslim men, women and children in Libya, just as this country has done in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen have acknowledged that regime change is not the goal of this mission. We are asked to see the natural justice in protecting the Libyan insurgents in Benghazi and Misrata who Gaddafi had virtually promised to massacre. And there is no doubt that preventing slaughter is a noble cause. But where does it stop?

As this column is being written over fifty people, killed over the weekend by Yemeni government troops, are being buried. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered the bloody crackdown against “his own people”. His people were, it should be noted, demanding his ouster.

It gets even more complicated, of course. President Saleh has been supported by the United States and Yemen is a strategically positioned country. Is it time to unleash some more Tomahawk and Cruise missiles on Yemen to prevent fratricide from becoming genocide?

In Damascus, Syria, President Bashar Assad ordered his police to fire on thousands of “his own people” who were protesting the multiple decades of rule by the Assad family. Several Syrians have already died and it would seem to be virtually guaranteed that there will be more bloodshed unless President Assad decides to leave for Geneva to audit his Swiss bank accounts.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain ordered his troops to fire on “his own people”, wounding and killing scores of protestors. While much is murky, it is very clear that this story is far from over and much more blood will be spilled in the very near future in Bahrain.

If the standard for American military intervention is going to involve preventing governments from punishing and killing its own people we are moving towards a very slippery slope from which there is no turning back.

In addition to Yemen and Syria, which are very much in the news, there are indigenous government forces abusing and torturing and killing citizens in Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe. The military rulers of Myanmar are infamous for their cruelty and violence in maintaining their power and the list goes on.

The United States simply cannot be the policeman for the planet. Aside from the questionable commitment of the lives of men and women of the U.S. military one has to wonder about the long term impact of these incursions, even in the name of truth, justice and the American way.

As in Egypt and Tunisia, no one knows the philosophy, ideology or allegiance of the insurgents in Libya. We certainly don’t know what the insurgents and protestors in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria are looking for in the future. We simply don’t know if we are trading the devil we know for the demon that we will come to fear. And all the while we are creating recruitment photo ops and propaganda videos for Al Qaeda and other real enemies of this country.

The lessons of Vietnam, if they are not remembered, will be relearned at a terrible cost. Many should remember that, from the American perspective, the Vietnam War began with a few troops with the limited mission of providing training and technical assistance to the South Vietnamese so that they could fight the communists. Then it was necessary to protect the trainers. And then those troops started getting killed and there was a need for more troops. And then Vietnam became a charnel house for American troops and the Vietnamese people.

We are all familiar with the George Santayana quote, “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Perhaps we should recall another of his less famous quotes, “Habit is stronger than reason”.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 18, 2011

The weekend begins with breaking news as Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns to Haiti less than 48 hours before the election, accompanied by……Danny Glover (and what could Mr. Glover be thinking?). Meanwhile the critics of President Obama continue to unite over anything and everything that he might do. And what on earth could be the reason for hurling insults at Japan as it endures the combination of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster?

Finally, you are invited to visit the “Be My Guest” feature of Point of View to read a column by Professor Pamela Newkirk regarding her absolutely fascinating book “Between the Lines – The Power of African American Letters”. You will be doing yourself a great favor by taking the time to read it.

Really Danny Glover? Really?

The tragic aspects of Haitian history are well known. Haiti’s recent history has been marked by challenges of almost biblical proportions.

It is a testament to the good will of many Haitians, both in Haiti and in the diaspora, that elections will be held on March 20th that hold the promise of being free and fair. The presidential candidates, Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat, have engaged in a vigorous contest right until the final day.

As the fragile tendrils of democracy and transparency try to take root in Haiti, it is incomprehensible that Danny Glover, the famous actor, activist and humanitarian, would take it upon himself to escort former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristede back to Port Au Prince today.

Both presidential candidates and President Obama have asked that Mr. Aristede delay his return until after the election for concern that his presence at this point could destabilize a very fragile democratic process.

Since Mr. Aristede has not participated in any part of the elections and is not supporting either candidate, there would seem to be reason enough for him to agree to wait in South Africa where he has lived in luxury for the past six years (the source of that luxury is another story for another time).

Instead, Danny Glover has seen fit to bring a torch to gasoline refinery. Given the tragedy and pain and suffering that the Haitian people have suffered historically and recently, it is just wrong for Mr. Glover to participate in this potentially destabilizing event. His prior relief work and support of reconstruction is laudable and it makes his current actions baffling.

If Mr. Aristede wishes to distract and disturb the electoral process he must ultimately answer to the Haitian people for any disruption that takes place on March 20th. But to whom will Mr. Glover answer as he jets back to the United States, not having to live with the consequences of his high profile escort of Mr. Aristede?

Hopefully the elections will be fair and free of the intervention of negative forces. But there is simply no reason to increase the degree of difficulty at this point in the history of Haiti.

Critics of Obama Unite!

Since he was inaugurated, President Obama has had to accept the reality that, for some people, whatever he chose to do would be considered wrong.

The latest example of this is related to the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. As encrusted oligarchies in Tunisia and Egypt tumbled President Obama was critiqued for the timing of his support for agents of change in these countries even though his measured support resulted in the desired regime change and accompanying good will throughout the region.

Libya has proven to be a very different situation as the entrenched dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has shown no inclination to leave and seems to be prepared to immolate his entire country.

In the face of this mindless strategy critics of the president have contended that he should show more “leadership” by establishing a “no-fly zone” and even providing supplies and troops to support the Libyan insurgents.

The commitment of troops and treasure cannot be the first response of this country as there are too many places on this earth with the same fact pattern – right now that would include Cote d’Ivoire, Bahrain, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe. Would these critics – most recently David Gergen and Senator Lindsay Graham, among others – have President Obama send troops and jets and materiel all over the world to fight injustice and tyranny everywhere at the same time like some latter day Superman?

Fortunately the United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution calling for a joint military effort in Libya and the wisdom of measured response has been demonstrated once more.

Mr. Gergen and Senator Graham seem to actually believe in Superman. Thankfully President Obama does not.

Insult to Injury

Since the triple tragedy in Japan the global response has been compassionate and tangible. Assistance has flowed to this island nation from all over the world.

But some knuckleheads are determined to show their stupidity by opening their raincoats of fame and flashing their miniscule intellects. Several celebrities including the noted blowhard Rush Limbaugh and the famous philosopher Fifty Cent have been quoted as stating that the people of Japan deserved the tragedies that they are suffering.

Some mish-mosh thought process linking Pearl Harbor to economic success to advocating environmental protection has resulted in this awful stew of hate and misinformation.

Of course Rush and Fitty just don’t care. But the rest of us should.

Have a great weekend!

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Be My Guest

Letters from Black America: Intimate Portraits of the African-American Experience by Pamela Newkirk

In an instant our most heartfelt emotions are conveyed via e-mail, text messages and cell phones, the remnants of our communiqués often vanishing as quickly as they appeared. We are liberated from the inconvenience of handwritten notes, purchasing and affixing stamps, locating a mailbox and delayed gratification. But surveying the rich letters of our past may cause us to question what has been lost in the name of progress. These letters, replete with personalized stationery, stylized penmanship, sentimental postmarks and quiet reflection, were eagerly anticipated, read and reread and cherished like family jewels. They are irreplaceable relics – the stuff of our personal and public history. And they are increasingly a dying art and lost historical artifacts.

The fleeting tradition of letter writing was in part the inspiration for Letters from Black America, a collection of more than 200 letters that traces the footprints, large and small, of a people from bondage to self-determination; from the Civil War to the War in Iraq; and from dusty plantations to the glistening White House. The correspondence of unsung slaves, soldiers, lovers, fathers, mothers, artists and activists are woven together with those of historical giants – from writers Phillis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin Alice Walker and Toni Morrison; to activists and statesmen Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Colin Powell.

The likely missives of the extraordinary are matched by the equally poignant letters of the ordinary who, pen in hand, share their joy and pain; ecstasy and heartache.

“My dear son Cato,” writes Hannah Grover on June 3, 1805. “I long to see you in my old age. I live in Caldwell with Mr. Grover the Minister of that place. Now my dear son I pray you to come and see your dear old Mother…. I am a poor old servant. I long for freedom. And my Master will free me if any body will ingage to maintain me …. I love you Cato you love your Mother You are my only son.”

On Sept. 19, 1858, Abream Scriven wrote his wife Dinah to inform her that he had been sold: “My Dear Wife,” he writes. “I take the pleasure of writing you these few with much regret to inform you that I am sold to a man by the name of Peterson a Trader and stays in New Orleans … Give my love to my father and mother and tell them good bye for me and if we Shall not meet in this world I hope to meet in heaven. My dear wife for you and my children my pen cannot express the [grief] I feel to be parted from you all.”

We’re taken behind the public façade of scholars and activists: In a letter to his wife from a state prison in 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes: “I know this whole experience is very difficult for you to adjust to especially in your condition of pregnancy but as I said to you yesterday, this is the cross we must bear for the freedom of our people.”

And W.E.B. Du Bois, the eminent scholar and activist, morphs into the doting father who tries to brace his 14-year-old Yolande for the curiosity of race at her British boarding school. “People will wonder at your dear brown [skin] and the sweet crinkly hair,” Du Bois writes in 1914. “But that is simply of no importance … Remember that most folk laugh at anything unusual whether it is beautiful, fine or not. You however must not laugh at yourself. You must know that brown is as pretty as white or prettier and crinkly hair as straight though it is harder to comb.”

In 1937 a disheartened young soldier serving in the Spanish Civil War writes of the pain of being segregated on the Queen Mary during his voyage to Europe. “That ship is really a marvel of man’s inventive mind. Its size and beauty is a credit to the genius of the human race,” wrote Canute Frankson. “I sure appreciated the opportunity of being on that ship. But I’m still burning up because they segregated, or may I say Jim-Crowed me. I cannot yet see how segregation, that despicable scourge of human society, could be alongside of such beauty. But it sure enough was. And with bells on.”

And in November, following Barack Obama’s historic election, Alice Walker wrote to express her soaring pride as an African American and southerner. “Dear Brother President (elect),” she wrote. “You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be brought down before igniting the flames of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear.”

What emerges is a multi-dimensional portrait of black life, a life long fraught with hardship, despair, and injustice but sustained by prayer, faith, humor and love.

In the end, it is apparent that while America so often fell far short of its ideals, African Americans rarely gave up on America. Here they loved their families, served their country in war and civilian life, expressed their humanity in the arts and fought a valiant and uphill battle for equality and an elusive acceptance. They remained on the soil they had tilled, and on which their blood spilled, determined to someday reap the rewards of their efforts.

We all have much to gain from the wisdom, passion, courage, and uncompromising commitment to justice contained in these letters. It is my hope that this volume will help inspire a greater appreciation for the collection and preservation of African-American letters.

Pamela Newkirk is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University and the author of Letters from Black America; A Love No Less: Two Centuries of African-American Love Letters; and Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media.

For more on her book please go to this link -http://www.thedefendersonline.com/2009/02/02/between-the-lines-the-power-of-african-american-letters/print/
and
ttp://www.nationinstitute.org/featuredwork/books/1423/letters_from_black_america%3A_intimate_portraits_of_the_african_american_experience/

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Point of View Columns

Calling All Rich People….

During the past few years Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have taken an admirable leadership role in urging their fellow billionaires and multi-millionaires to donate their vast fortunes to charity when they die. They have advocated returning their wealth to the people rather than simply enriching their heirs.

It is a noble and uplifting gesture and many of the super wealthy have committed to putting huge charitable donations in their will. All across the United States and around the world charities are monitoring the health of Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates and many more.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth that you hear would be coming from the heirs who are being denied the opportunity to become junior Midases.

While there is no denying the nobility of donating one’s fortune to charity at death, there is certainly no sacrifice involved. In fact, it could be argued that the only sacrifice that is being made is the sacrifice that is imposed upon the would-be heirs and heiresses of the wealthy who are typically being asked to scrape by on a measly $50 million for the rest of their lives.

While battling world poverty and global misery are noble causes indeed, I am suggesting that these crusading Croesuses remember the axiom about charity beginning at home.

I am, of course, referring to the burgeoning financial crisis in the United States. It is causing some members of Congress and state legislatures across the country to contend that government can not only no longer afford to feed the hungry, house the homeless or help the helpless. Some like Governor Walker of Wisconsin have gone so far as to state that governments cannot even pay public employees fair, negotiated wages.

The reason for this Scrooge-like approach to government and the public it is meant to serve is the budget deficit, especially at the federal level. There are many reasons for the multi-trillion dollar deficit – cash bleeding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that total almost 2 decades in the aggregate, herculean efforts to prop up the economy after the magic tricks of Wall Street ran out of magic and……………….tax cuts to the wealthy.

Most of the federal deficit is derived from the wars started by George W. Bush and…….the tax cuts to the wealthy. The new additions to the deficit during the Obama years have been due to efforts to bring about an economic recovery and……tax cuts to the wealthy.

That would be wealthy people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. That would be billionaires and miega-millionairs who seemingly can’t wait to die so that they can give away their billions and millions.

These would be the same billionaires who seem to think that paying their fair share of taxes while living wouldn’t be fair.

There is simply no hope in hoping that Congress will get the will to impose fair taxes on the wealthy so that veterans won’t be homeless and poor children will not be denied food and pre-school education.

The G.O.Tea Party stalwarts in Congress would rather see job training centers closed and health clinics shuttered than face the horrific notion of billionaires scraping by with a few million dollars less every year.

Perhaps the fact that the majority of the incoming Republican freshmen members of Congress are millionaires or the fact that virtually all of the United States Senators are millionaires has something to do with their cult-like adherence to protecting the loot of the rich.

Whatever the case, this change will certainly not come from Capitol Hill.

So I am proposing that, in teaching eleemosynary and selfless behavior to their fellow lords of the manor, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett take the lead in getting billionaires and millionaires to push for real tax reform.

Instead of refusing to pay taxes, the plutocracy of America can direct their tax advisors and counselors of evasion to waive deductions and reductions in their tax bills. They could also summon their Congressional representatives and demand that they take action.

Congress will never act on its own on this issue. President Obama has already been smeared as a socialist just for saving hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the auto and financial service industries. He has prudently avoided being labeled a card carrying communist by not taking the lead on this aspect of tax reform.

This version of tax reform – the wealthy doing the unthinkable, actually paying taxes at the same rate of someone making $50,000 per year, is an idea whose time has come.

Larry Ellison might have one less yacht, Oprah Winfrey might have one less Maybach, Michael Bloomberg might have a slightly smaller jet in his private fleet – but somehow I think that they can make it.

Just think. Rather than waiting until they die so that they can feel better about themselves, the wealthy can hear the applause and acclaim for their selflessness while they are still alive to enjoy it.

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Weekend Edition – March 11, 2011

The weekend begins with an earthquake in Japan and a tsunami in Hawaii. The week concludes with Libya in flames, passionate revelations by Newt Gingrich and increasing demands for a Donald Free March.

Fantasyland Foreign Policy

Senator John McCain and Senator Joseph Lieberman took to the microphones last week and criticized President Obama for not involving the U.S. military in Libya. These scions of the Senate seem to feel that the United States should support the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi by committing troops, materiel and imposing a “no fly zone” over Libya.

Senator McCain flew a jet that was shot down over Vietnam and he spent 5 ½ years as a prisoner of war. While his courage in the face of adversity should not be questioned, I am not clear as to why that experience makes him an expert on military affairs. Senator Lieberman has no military experience although he has a tremendous amount of experience in betraying his political allies when it is convenient.

I don’t think that one has to be Sun Tzu or Metternich to recognize the dangers of easing onto the slippery slope of “limited” military engagement for unclear purposes. The lessons of Vietnam, Iraq and Pakistan are quite clear.

Additionally, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been adamant in advising against this country stumbling into yet another quagmire.
The American military resources do not include magic wands.

There is also a whiff of politics in the air around Messrs McCain and Lieberman. During the past year hundreds of defenseless citizens have been killed by government forces in the Ivory Coast. During this same time frame there have been countless thousands of men, women and children slaughtered by soldiers in the Congo.

I can find no record of a call to action from the offices of the gentleman from Arizona or the gentleman from Connecticut. But now, Libyan liberation is the cause du jour and they perceive another opportunity to pillory President Obama.

I would also remind Senators McCain, Lieberman and others (like Senator John Kerry) that careless commitments of the military have resulted in disasters and too many men and women have already died, too much treasure has been needlessly wasted, because there was never a clear goal.

Let us hope that it doesn’t happen again in Libya.

The Passion of St. Newt

The G.O.Tea Party continues its race to the bottom with a gaggle of presidential candidates that can only help Barack Obama sleep better at night. The retreaded Newt Gingrich has made faux news by announcing that he will announce his candidacy for president sometime in May. I do not recall hearing a collective gasp of anticipation from the America public when he uttered these words.

Mr. Gingrich also stated that he has engaged in some moral indiscretions for which he is sorry. Presumably these indiscretions would include serving his wife with divorce papers while she was recovering from breast cancer surgery.

Another indiscretion would be the extramarital affair in which he was engaged while he was calling for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
If you are scoring at home that would be – infidelity, hypocrisy, and just plain meanness. That’s quite a trifecta for the Newt Who Would Be President.

And there’s more. Mr. Gingrich blamed his “passion” for working so hard for America for causing him to lose his moral compass. This is a new and refreshingly inane excuse for poor behavior.

I don’t think that this lead balloon will ever fly.

A Donald Free March

During the past week Donald Trump announced that he would make a decision about whether he would run for President of the United States at the conclusion of the season of his “Apprentice” program.

It is good to know that The Donald has his priorities in the right place.

It is now time to proclaim a Donald Free March. It is too much to ask that he go away. But we don’t have to listen to him, do we?

Have a great weekend!

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