Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 28, 2011

The business of fortune telling is not an easy one. But channeling my inner Sister Cleo, I predict that will conclude that the recent positive economic news somehow reflects negatively on President Obama. Meanwhile the Occupy Wall Street movement has gone viral, nationally and around the world. What the OWS protestors want may be a bit more complicated than a Tea Party menu. And finally, Rick Perry is the latest G.O.Tea Party presidential wannabe to genuflect at the altar of Donald Trump. Shouldn’t that be an automatic disqualification?

Fortune Telling in the Age of Obama

You may remember the now discredited Miss Cleo. Fans of Richard Pryor may remember Miss Rudolph. Whatever the case, we all know that predicting the future is a tough business. Nevertheless, I am willing to face the risks and make an absolute prediction based upon the news that the GDP for the United States increased by 2.9% during the third quarter of this year.

While this increase has been greeted as good news by most economists, I predict that the G.O.Tea Party candidates for president will spin the news as a negative for President Obama. The spin will go something like this – the reason why the economy is improving is that the business community is becoming convinced that Barack Obama will lose the 2012 election and the upturn in the third quarter is an indication of investor confidence that Obama will lose.

This approach is in keeping with the approach of all of the candidates in saying that anything bad is the fault of President Obama and it is impossible for President Obama to be responsible for anything good.

If nothing else, the G.O.Tea Party is consistent – consistently negative and truly the Party of No.

The OWS Wish List

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has gone international. From London to Oakland to Washington, protestors are occupying public venues to protest the seeming dominance of corporate agendas of 1% of this country at the expense of the other 99%. The staying power of these protests has been remarkable and there is no end in sight.
There has been significant commentary to the effect that the OWS movement is not like the Tea Party movement because they don’t have a “specific agenda”. And there is a reason for that.

The Tea Party came into being with a negative agenda: No taxes, No government and No Obama. It is a very simple matter to craft a negative agenda. A positive agenda is more nuanced.

It appears that the members of the OWS movement are concerned about increasing opportunity and improving the quality of life for people who have been trampled by the stampede to greed. The strategy that expresses these goals is not easily distilled into one word or a catchy slogan.

Being negative is simple. Being progressive is…………well, it’s complicated.

The Mountain Comes to Trump…..Again

Amazingly, Rodeo Rick Perry counts Donald Trump as a source of advice and (possible?) inspiration. This should disqualify Rick Perry for consideration as a serious candidate.

Donald Trump has been very successful at promoting Donald Trump. His ascent to fame began with his father, Fred Trump, one of the wealthiest real estate tycoons that you never heard of. Beginning his faux business career with a multimillion dollar starter kit, Trump has left a trail of bankrupt companies, unpaid creditors, disgruntled bondholders and enough lawsuits to establish a sub-industry in the law profession.

During his tepid presidential campaign, a thinly disguised attempt to boost the ratings of his television series, Trump was literally laughed off the national stage as he trumpeted the totally discredited birther tune. That Rodeo Rick Perry would think that Donald Trump could have anything valuable to say to him speaks volumes about his judgment, or lack thereof.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

The Answer is No

At the end of last week President Obama announced that all American military personnel will leave Iraq by the end of this year. This news was greeted with expressions of relief and thanksgiving by most Americans, particularly members of the military and their families.

The war in Iraq has lasted nine years and was started under false pretenses (remember the nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction?) and blanketed with a web of lies (remember the fake relationship between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorists?). This godforsaken and misbegotten military adventure by George Bush, Dick Cheney and their neo-con enablers consumed close to a trillion dollars, over 4000 American lives and damaged/wounded/injured over 30,000 men and women. Untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives and their country will be recovering from the catastrophe of the war for decades.

In the “Weekend Edition” of Point of View I predicted that Republicans would immediately criticize and attack President Obama’s decision on finally ending the war on Iraq. The fact that he is following through on an exit plan that was put in place by George Bush is beside the point. The G.O.Tea Party is against anything done by anyone named Obama. Period.

This tactic of political nihilism has been consistent and degrades any sense of true discourse or exchange of rational ideas in this country. When Osama bin Laden was killed on the direct orders of President Obama, the eternally discredited Dick Cheney and the perpetually mistaken Condoleezza Rice proclaimed this executive action to be the direct result of the policies of the Bush Administration even though President Bush failed to pull the trigger when bin Laden could have been killed in Afghanistan in late 2001 and essentially gave up on capturing him for the balance of his administration.

The truly historic Arab Spring which has continued through the summer and fall neither was nor orchestrated by President Obama but his responses have turned out to be pitch perfect. Most analysts give the reason for the seismic changes in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Syria as being the result of indigenous movement and it was clearly important for the United States to be supportive but not to the extent that the Arab Spring ended up with a “Made In USA” label. The Obama Administration has been able to manage that balancing act to date.

Predictably, such noted foreign policy experts as Mitt Romney, John McCain and Michele Bachmann had been demanding direct U.S. intervention since early this year. It is now clear that such a policy would have been a blood-soaked mistake that could have made the Iraq misadventure look like a weekend excursion. Yet the G.O.Tea Party shamelessly peddles its message of ‘No” as if a negative is an answer to the problems of this country.

It is clear that the basic plank in the G.O.Tea Party political platform will be to remove Barack Obama as President of the United States. There are no unifying principles, there are no enlightening visions and certainly there is no decipherable philosophy. Their strategy is “drill, baby drill”. Drill into the American public and exploit the reservoirs of irrational hate and mindless distrust that have characterized too much of the opposition to President Obama.

It is that strategy which empowers the criticism of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq even when it is accomplished pursuant to the timetable and plan of George Bush. It makes it possible for the Republicans to ignore the relief experienced by the millions of men and women who have served in the military and their families – men and women who have been asked to die and suffer grievously fighting a war that never needed to be fought.

It is also the strategy of “No” and eternal negativity which permits a “serious” candidate like Rodeo Rick Perry to state this week that there has been no definitive resolution regarding the birthplace of President Obama. As a presidential candidate Governor Perry is free to criticize the policies and actions of the Obama Administration, although it would be helpful if he would share an original and intelligent thought or two with the public.

For Rodeo Rick Perry to drill down to the well of (very) thinly-disguised racism in questioning whether Barack Obama is a “real American” is despicable and symbolizes everything that is wrong about the campaign(s) against the president. It degrades the entire political process and makes it almost impossible for any rational exchange to take place regarding the serious issues of the day.

Clearly the G.O.Tea Party is against anything done by anyone named Obama. The fact that it may be something desired by Americans or good for this country is irrelevant on the Planet Tea Party. When it comes to Barack Obama the answer is “No”.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 21, 2011

The death of Muammar Qaddafi was bloody and brutal. Somewhere in presidential palaces in Yemen and Syria and Zimbabwe getaway plans are being plotted. And somewhere members of the G.O.Tea Party are trying to find a way to make the obviously successful strategy pursued by President Obama seem like a mistake. Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh proved once again that you can be stupid and be on the radio at the same time. And it seems that, with his 9-9-9 mumbo jumbo tax plan, Herman Cain may have proved that Michele Bachmann can be right even when the moon isn’t blue.

Was Obama Right After All?

The gory death of Muammar Qaddafi was a lesson to the leaders of nations that seek to impose their will on their people with a sense of entitlement that they seem to believe is divinely inspired. One year ago the notion of Colonel Qaddafi being dragged through the streets of his hometown and slain with a bullet through the head would have been the stuff of fiction. Now it is on CNN.

Leaders in countries like Zimbabwe and Yemen and Syria and elsewhere have seen the decline and fall of their fellow leaders for life. There are some important lessons to be learned. The quick learners will find a way to go to London or Geneva for “health reasons” (which will be true). The slow learners will join the ranks of Qaddafi, Mubarak and Ceausescu and all the others who couldn’t read the writing on the wall.

Meanwhile, the G.O.Tea Party must be searching high and low to figure out how to make President Obama’s successful Libyan strategy look like a mistake. By being smart and leading with his brains instead of his chin he was able to avoid American casualties or turning a genuine Libyan revolution into yet another American misadventure.

And, speaking of misadventures, President Obama announced today that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. Seeing this country finally extricate itself from this neo-con-inspired morass will do little for the families of all of the dead American troops or for the millions of Iraqis who are struggling to rebuild shattered lives in their shattered country.

We can be sure that the G.O.Tea Party zealots will find some rationale for criticizing Barack Obama for ending this modern American nightmare. I guess that on the Planet G.O.Tea saving American lives and money as well as repairing the prestige of this country is wrong if it is done by anyone named Obama.

Radio Head

Just when you think that Rush Limbaugh can’t get any more stupid, he sets the bar lower.

This past week President Obama dispatched 100 Special Forces troops to Uganda to assist that country in combating the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA, which has been around for over a decade, is a particularly wretched and squalid thug horde which has specialized in torture, rape, murder and gratuitous pillaging through central Africa. Any effort to eliminate the LRA scourge from the lives of the people of Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere should be greeted with approval.

However, Rush Limbaugh, seizing upon the word “Lord” in the title of the LRA assumed that it was some kind of gathering of Christian soldiers waging holy war against murderous Muslims. Limbaugh would be funny if he weren’t so stupid. What isn’t funny is that there are millions of Americans who will actually believe what he says.

The Devil is in the Details

During one of the recent Republican presidential debates – seemingly produced by Comedy Central – Michele Bachmann, commenting on Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” tax “plan” opined that if 9-9-9 was turned upside down it would be 6-6-6 which is, of course, the sign of the Devil. It was a fair to middling laugh line except many observers thought that Ms. Bachmann was serious.

It turns out she was right – and the moon wasn’t blue. Upon further analysis it turns out that the pizza baron’s tax plan, if implemented would raise the taxes on a mind boggling 84% of Americans. Not surprisingly for a Koch brother’s sock puppet, Mr. Cain’s plan would reduce taxes for 26% of the highest earning Americans. A truly devilish outcome that would only increase the structural inequities that already exist.

Mr. Cain asked Americans to “do the math”. The math has been done and it doesn’t look good for him.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Cain Mutiny

For a while it seemed as if Herman Cain was playing the Alan Keyes role in the 2012 Republican primary process. As a perennial presidential candidate (1996, 2000, 2008) and erstwhile senatorial candidate (1988, 1992, 2004) Keyes has always been destined to fail in his electoral ambitions while lining his pockets from increased attention to his books, radio show, television show and speaking engagements. Herman Cain has seemed to be a well-heeled Alan Keyes with a slightly better resume.

But there is more to Herman Cain than meets the eye. It has been noted that, despite his prideful contention that he is a political virgin, he was a senior political advisor to the Dole-Kemp campaign in 1996. Despite his wearing his disdain for public service as some bizarro badge of honor he served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – not exactly a private sector position. And there’s more……….

Since 2006 Mr. Cain, the independent businessman, has been a virtual employee and paid spokesman for Americans for Prosperity (“AFP”). If AFP doesn’t ring a bell, it isn’t supposed to. But it is the political action arm of the ultraconservative billionaire Koch brothers who have also bankrolled the Tea Party movement.

Traveling around the country as its erstwhile charismatic badwill ambassador, Herman Cain has built up membership for AFP and touted its message of reducing taxes, reducing government and eliminating environmental and financial regulations wherever possible.

Mr. Cain’s connection to AFP and the Koch brothers is even more pronounced than his employment. His campaign manager, Mark Block is a former AFP employee. The wacky “9-9-9” pseudo tax plan was devised by an AFP board member and the Cain campaign uses the AFP outside counsel for its legal advice and services.

What are interesting are not the facts themselves. We should not be surprised that Herman Cain would align himself with the not so secret financiers of the right wing of the right wing. What is interesting is that in addition to his never mentioning his role with the Dole-Kemp campaign or the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, Mr. Cain has never managed to whisper a mention of his work as a paid spokesman for the Koch brothers.

His campaign organization has Koch operatives in key positions and his boasting of his independence doesn’t ring true when he has two billionaires, and their billionaire buddies as his benefactors. His speeches and statements could come right out of an AFP press kit, which isn’t surprising since he has been working for AFP and the Koch brothers for half a decade.

Herman Cain rose to national prominence when he debated President Bill Clinton regarding the health care proposals of more than a decade ago. He claimed then, as he does now, that requiring employers to provide health insurance for their employees would force his company, Godfather’s Pizza, to fire hundreds of workers. While he did not provide the statistics to justify his claim later research indicated that during the time that Herman Cain made millions of dollars as the Chairman and CEO of that pizza chain only 11% of the employees of that company were provided with health care coverage (including Herman Cain). Not surprisingly and not unlike the Koch brothers and their ilk, Mr. Cain still does not recognize the inequity of this situation and has promised to repeal the recently passed health care bill when he is elected president.

Through the AFP and other ventriloquist mechanisms, the Koch brothers are calling for the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the evisceration of the social services apparatus that has sustained this nation for more than half a century. The “9-9-9” tax proposal is just a Koch head fake as their real goal is the reduction, if not the elimination of all tax liabilities on corporations and their wealthy owners. That is the tune that Herman Cain is singing.

It remains to be seen whether Herman Cain will ride off into the sunset to reap his Keyesian rewards or will continue his presidential campaign in order to continue to spout the Koch party line. In either case it is clear that it would be too much to ask for Mr. Cain to come clean regarding his true identity as a mouthpiece for a neoconservative apparatus that is bankrolled by billionaires intent on demonstrating the true nature of class warfare in the 21st century.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 14, 2011

The myth of Herman Cain is turning into legend. The question is will it be the Tea Party that actually ushers in the post-racial era in America? Inquiring minds want to know. Meanwhile, it would be a good idea for wavering supporters of President Obama to take a look at his appointments to the federal judiciary – a very pleasant surprise is in store. And finally, Rodeo Rick Perry has been galloping around the country proclaiming his ability to create jobs and pointing to his record in Texas. We looked at his record. The conclusion is that he’s all hat and no cattle.

Shall the Tea Party Overcome Some Day?

Herman Cain has become the rock star of the G.O.Tea Party. On the one hand this makes perfect sense. He disavows any knowledge of government (although he served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City), he denies being a politician (even though he was a senior advisor to the Dole-Kemp presidential campaign) and his solutions to the ills of this country are rooted in simplicity (“9-9-9”) that the Tea Party loves.

But………..isn’t this the same Tea Party that walked around with racist posters and racially-tinged placards portraying Barack Obama in the most lurid fashion? Isn’t this the same Tea Party that seems to be cross-eyed crazy at the mere thought of a black American residing in the White House? The answer is yes.

Can the G.O.Tea Party move to a post-racial stance in supporting a black American for president if his message is their message? This may be the most interesting question to consider as when the G.O.Tea Party circus comes to a town near you.

Obama’s Score Card

We have heard Cornel West and Tavis Smiley and many disaffected others bemoan the “failure” of the Obama presidency. Clearly there are subjective perspectives and everyone is entitled to their point of view.

But every now and then it is useful to look at statistics – take President Obama’s appointments to the federal judiciary, for example. After 2 ½ years in office ½ of his appointments have been women, 21% have been black, 11% Latino, and 7% Asian.
Also, in over 200 years only four women have ever served on the United States Supreme Court. President Obama has appointed two of them.

Before speaking of the “failure” of the Obama presidency it might be useful to consult the facts and consider, what would the appointments of President Perry or President Romney or President Cain look like?

All Hat and No Cattle

Rodeo Rick Perry has been touting his authorship of the “Texas Miracle” and his “creation” of over 1 million jobs in the Lone Star State. A brief examination of the facts reveals that approximately 1 million new jobs were created during his 10 year tenure as governor.

However, only 116,000 of those jobs have been created since 2008 – which is when the Great Recession hit every state, (obviously) including Texas. Further, most economists attribute the growth in jobs in Texas during the Perry governorship to the increase in that state’s population and growth in the energy sector – neither of which Governor Perry can claim credit for.

It seems like Rodeo Rick Perry’s is a miracle worker only when miracles aren’t necessary.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Is Cain Able?

Sarah “Lock and Load” Palin wants to call him “Herb”, but lots of people are getting to know who Herman Cain is. This is great news for Herman Cain Enterprises as he has skillfully used the platform of his presidential campaign to sell his books (his latest is appropriately titled “This is Herman Cain!”) and to hike his average speaking engagement fee when his campaign ends. This would be a riff on the Alan Keyes routine of getting rich by running for president. Indeed, Herman Cain reminds me of Alan Keyes, but with a better resume.

Mr. Cain continues to make mini-headlines by telling an unemployed worker to “get a job and get rich” because clearly, on the Planet Cain, that’s all one has to do. The combination of hard work, good fortune and opportunity don’t have a thing to do with financial success.

Mr. Cain repeatedly points out that he has no experience in government as if that is a qualification for being President of the United States. If he really believed that lack of experience is an asset one wonders what the hiring policies at Godfather’s Pizza were like when he was chairman. It also has to be noted that, like so many of the other G.O.Tea Party denizens, Herman Cain has a rocky relationship with the truth.

Mr. Cain served as a board member and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. That is not an honorary sinecure and it certainly is a very serious part of government. Mr. Cain was also a senior advisor to the Dole-Kemp presidential campaign which tells us that he is not exactly the pure political virgin that he pretends to be.

When questioned about his knowledge of foreign policy Herman Cain proudly proclaims his ignorance. He stated that he doesn’t need to know about “small, insignificant countries” and that he would have advisors who would tell him what he needs to know in that regard.

Cain is wrong in so many ways on this. First, Afghanistan used to be a “small, insignificant country” until thousands of Americans were killed through attacks that were plotted there. Yemen, Somalia, Serbia, Rwanda and the not so small Democratic Republic of the Congo might be insignificant on the Planet Cain, but on the planet Earth worldly knowledge and international awareness are critical.

As for “advisors”, we have in recent history the example of President George W. Bush being famously lazy when it came to the details of foreign policy. “Advisors like Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice and Rumsfeld plunged this country into the bloody maw of unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pursuing a flawed neo-con foreign policy that never had a chance of succeeding. One can only shudder at the thought of a simplistic President Cain being led by foreign policy “advisors” who have agendas that are of no interest to him but could wreck the world.

Herman Cain gets plenty of support from the G.O.Tea Party for saying that there is no racism in the dens and klaverns where the tea partiers gather. When reminded of the clearly racists signage that accompanied the rise of the Tea Party (President Obama with a bone through his nose, for example), he dismisses these occurrences by announcing that those signs don’t appear anymore.

Even Pollyanna would know that the signs have been put away but not thrown away. And even if they have been thrown away for reasons of “political correctness” the hearts of those sign makers and sign carriers are still stained with racism.
And someone should advise Mr. Cain while he sits in his post-racial bubble of delusion that the G.O.Tea Party is not opposing the first black president in order to elect another black president.

The Cain phenomenon is indicative of a truly frightening aspect of the G.O.Tea Party presidential candidacy clown show. There is truly a race to the bottom being played out when it comes to information, awareness and knowledge. Not knowing has become a badge of honor. Not caring about facts and accuracy are surefire applause lines. Denying climate change, believing that Adam and Eve walking with dinosaurs should be taught in public schools, deriding the importance of “small and insignificant countries” is all very dangerous. Knowledge takes hard work. Ignorance is easy.

It has been said that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public. I only hope that this doesn’t also hold true for presidential elections.

Be My Guest

Be My Guest Column by Michele Ashley

“Katherine” the Great
Having the Confidence of a Child

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of informally interviewing a young lady of noble character. In my life it has been my good fortune to have met many amazing, beautiful, innovative, inspiring and brilliant people. On occasion I’ll meet someone that inspires me and moves my spirit. Let’s just say, I’m not easy to impress. To my amazement, such was the case recently when I met such a young lady—“Katherine” the Great. Since I’ve never been one to advocate exploitation of young folks, especially when it comes to social media, let’s just call her “Katherine” for the sake of this post.

I first met “Katherine” on a fluke, through her father, while she was in transit to Brooklyn, N.Y. to visit her grandparents for summer vacation. On first impression you instantly warm to her congeniality and genuine openness. Though at first she appears soft spoken, her hearty laughter and quick wit shines through in no time.

She even successfully carried off an English accent for an entire hour and it wasn’t until days later her father revealed to me it was all for show for me. Katherine and her family live in Upper Marlboro, MD – “in the meadows,” as she jokingly puts it. Trust me she lives far from the “meadows”—tipping cows is not on this young lady’s agenda.

What makes “Katherine” so special you may ask? Well, for starters if you were to lay eyes on her you might think it was the beauty of innocence etched on her mocha complexion or the loveliness of her hair void of chemicals, virgin in its cadence that she normally wears in a ponytail — but that’s not it. What makes “Katherine” so very special is her utter confidence in who she is as a person, and how she intends to move through this journey we call life.

Ok, not very special you think? Well…did I mention my “Katherine” the Great is 12 years old? Right – take a moment and keep reading.

When the opportunity to “interview” Katherine presented itself several weeks had gone by since our first meeting and so it was only our second time together. Despite this fact, her spirit had only grown more endearing to me. You see Katherine is that rare young girl who still maintains the innocence of a child while remaining inquisitive of the world around her. Not only is she respectful and easy-going, but she moves with the spirit and “knowing” of one far beyond her years. She is what you might call “an old soul”. They are rare and when you meet one it truly is magical.

Though you will catch glimpses of her youthful energy while she enjoys activities such as playing soccer, walking a tightrope for fun, canoeing with her Dad, playing miniature golf, and on occasion acting as her father’s personal fitness coach (yes, they even have a video to prove it!), it’s when you sit to speak with “Katherine” that her true self unfolds. To speak to “Katherine” is to forget she is only 12 years old.

Like poetry in motion, when asked questions like who inspires her (her answer: Michelle Obama – 1 point for “Katherine”—my favorite as well) and where does she see herself in 10 years (her answer: very successful, powerful and brave), she responds effortlessly as if she had actually read my mind and had only waited patiently for me to realize my questions. Her answers were clear lacking any confusion or hesitancy. Her face bright with the knowledge that her vision would not one day be her reality – but her reality was in the now.

On this particular evening, we had just finished watching the movie ‘Soul Surfer’ and I wanted to know her thoughts regarding the main character Bethany Hamilton. ‘Soul Surfer’ (for those who have never seen it) is a movie about a teenage surfer girl who summons the courage to go back into the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack. When I asked “Katherine” what impacted her the most about the movie, she replied “…that she continued doing what she loved despite her disability.”

If only we all had the heart and spirit of Bethany (whatever your “disability get back in the water!) and the clarity of thought like “Katherine” (get clear – stay focused), how much further would we be in achieving some of our own life goals and plans. To have the confidence of a child is a remarkable thing—almost magical. For many of us we’ve forgotten how to grasp that kind of magic in our lives today.

Remember when you feared nothing, the world was your oyster and at bedtime your dreams were your haven to safely map your journey for your life? Remember when it was safe to dream big and planning for a better tomorrow was more than just a whimsical thought but a youthful expectancy for your life?

Remember when?

To a young lady with doe eyes and an unshakable spirit, I am grateful. I’m grateful to have met “Katherine” for reminding me what it looks like, feels like and sounds like to have the confidence of a child; to walk boldly and confidently in the direction of one’s dream. To visualize and speak that which has not yet come into existence but which you look for on the horizon with utter anticipation.

I have no doubt “Katherine” will do great things in her life mainly because of her spirit, her vision and her attitude. She’s a heck of a girl who is gracefully on her way to becoming a woman of substance. Here’s to all the youthful Katherine’s who surround us every day. Take the time to learn, feast and grow with those who will come after you.

Remember, in life inspiration comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. It’s not about the wrapping on the gift but what lies beneath and within. Life in all its complexities can feel daunting and challenging on any given day. Yet from the mouth of babes as “Katherine” put it: “I’m afraid of sanity. You could be crazy…just be whoever you want to be…just be yourself!”

Here is to insanity – may we all have the courage to be crazy enough to have the confidence of a child.

–Dedicated to a young lady who is far from tipping cows in Upper Marlboro, MD–

Michele Ashley is Founder and CEO of CORE Compass Coaching where she works as the chief facilitator of women empowerment coaching programs internationally.
Ms. Ashley serves as the Chairperson for WEST Inc. a non-profit organization based in New York City whose mission and vision is to build a diverse network of women through forums, projects, programs, workshops, and partnership initiatives. She is a member of the Women’s Information Network (WIN) and has recently been appointed the new Women’s Global Summit Event Director for New York City and Washington, D.C. for 2012. For information on CORE programs please contact Ms. Ashley at Michele@CORECompasscoaching.com or http://www.Facebook.com/Ubercoach.com .

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 7, 2011

After much prayer and intensive review of her financial statements Sarah Palin has decided not to run for president. Not really a surprise except to the people who actually believed in the Grisly Mom. And while the name of Rodeo Rick Perry’s family hunting lodge was offensive, there is a curious aspect to the wails of offense coming from black leaders in this country. When actually, is it o.k. to use the word “nigger”? The manual has yet to be distributed. Finally, as the Occupy Wall Street movement continues some wonder if this is the left wing answer to the Tea Party. A better question might be where are the Koch Brothers of the left wing?

And the Pimp of the Year Award Goes to……….

Sarah Palin is not going to run for president. The only people who are surprised are the people who believed in her and sent her money. The Grisly Mom has turned out to be a Trumpish self-promoter who has parlayed her 15 minutes of fame into a career and a fortune.

Along the way she has mangled history and managed to help befoul the political atmosphere with inflammatory rhetoric – all in the name of “taking America back”. She put cross-hairs on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords district and then expressed shock when Ms. Giffords was shot in the head. I wish that I could say good riddance, but the Grisly Mom has promised to stay around. Clearly there is more money to be made.

The Ballad of Niggerhead

It’s a good thing that Rodeo Rick Perry wears cowboy boots because he has been stomping around from one manure pile to another ever since he decided that God wanted him to be president. It is pretty clear that God is reconsidering His advisory.

It turns out that the Perry family bought a Texas hunting lodge that had the name of “Niggerhead”. There seems to be some dispute as to how long the offending name stayed painted on a rock – Rodeo Rick says it was done years ago, more recent visitors beg to differ.

But, never missing an opportunity for some face time before the cameras, numerous black “leaders” have pounced on this opportunity to decry the insensitivity of Rodeo Rick and his family. Even Herman Cain felt it important to add his voice to the Amen Chorus.

What is mystifying is that black entertainers have introduced the word “nigger” into popular parlance. The list of rappers, singers and comedians who live and breathe the word would fill a small phone book. Nigger is not only a part of American slang; it is a part of international slang thanks to these ubiquitous messengers of mayhem.

Very few of the aforementioned leaders take the time to criticize P-Diddy, Jay-Z, and Eddie Murphy………and on and on….. for their constant, perpetual and endless use of the word. Perhaps we can take a moment to understand why Rodeo Rick and legions of white Americans are confused about the legions of upset black Americans who refer to themselves as nigger and pay for the dubious right to be referred to as nigger throughout the media universe.

And the Ballad of Niggerhead plays on…………….

Things Go Better with Koch?

The Occupy Wall Street movement is entering its fourth week and has now gone national. Commentators are openly speculating whether OWS represents the left wing version of the Tea Party. This is an unfortunate and downright bogus analogy because the Tea Party movement has been bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and their billionaire right wing frat brothers.

To ignore this fact is to continue the delusion that the Tea Party is a grassroots movement when in fact it is Astro Turf. Just ask Karl Rove and the other G.O.Tea Party operatives who have used Koch money to manipulate right wing activists for their own benefit – reducing taxes, reducing regulation and reducing the size of any government activity that doesn’t cater to their very particular interests.

In the meantime we will watch OWS and wait…………and see.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Biting the Hand……

The hypocrisy of the G.O.Tea Party gets to be more than a bit tiresome. But as long as right wing of the right wing wishes to drink hypocritical hemlock, it is important to point out the Grand Canyon between reality and the fairy tales that are peddled as public policy.

A common theme among the Noble Nine (soon to be the Terrible Ten if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the plunge – an awesome thought) is that “government is the enemy”. From Herman Cain to Rodeo Rick Perry to Magic Mitt Romney to Michele Bachmann, the story line is consistent and unshakable – government is the problem in the lives of the American people and reducing the size of “big government” will be a huge step on the road to a better life for all of us. So let’s look at the facts, an act that is unfamiliar to the truth-averse G.O.Tea Party.

We can take the hypocrites in any order – Herman Cain, for example never misses an opportunity to dismiss the importance of the federal government and to rail against the “stupid people” who are running government. Please know that Mr. Cain graduated from Morehouse College and Purdue University, two institutions that have received millions of dollars in federal aid over the years. Mr. Cain also worked as a civilian employee for the United States Navy, presumably he was not one of the “stupid people” working in government.

As the Chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza he presumably benefited from the work of the Food and Drug Administration which gave his customers confidence to buy his pizza anywhere in the United States.

And, by the way, Purdue University is located in Indiana. Indiana used to have the largest membership of the Ku Klux Klan in the country. The efforts of the federal government, particularly the Department of Justice helped make it safe for the young Mr. Cain to attend an integrated university in the heart of what used to be Klan country.

Rodeo Rick Perry tells us in his “book”, “Fed Up” that government is the enemy. This would be the same Rick Perry who attended Texas A&M University. While he was busy earning a 2.5 G.P.A. and putting firecrackers in toilets, Governor Perry did get a degree and a commission in the United States Air Force. It is highly likely that getting a college degree helped him get that commission and it is absolutely true that his alma mater has received tens of millions of dollars of federal aid over the years.

In a masterful display of double jointed hypocrisy, Governor Perry criticized the Obama Administration for – you guessed it – not sending enough federal aid to Texas to help fight the wildfires that are consuming the state of Texas. Not that Rodeo Rick believes that the wildfires have anything to do with global warming since he doesn’t believe in global warming – or evolution.

Magic Mitt Romney is a little late to the party when he comes to attacking the federal government. We can assume that he hopes that his magical powers will help us forget that he attended Brigham Young and Harvard Universities, two institutions that receive millions of dollars from the federal government every year. We are also supposed to forget that the universal healthcare program that he introduced as governor of the state of Massachusetts was absolutely dependent upon the continuation of federal aid and assistance.

As president of the organization that ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah he was responsible for steering millions of federal dollars into that venture. Now his Olympic victory is put down on his presidential candidacy resume even as he claims that reducing the size of government is the holy grail that we all should seek.

Michele Bachmann is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to hypocrisy. Congresswoman Bachmann makes constant reference to her having over twenty foster children in addition to her five children. She conveniently omits telling us that her home was designated a treatment center for young girls most of whom stayed only a few months and very few of whom stayed for more than a year. And………you guessed it, the Bachmann “treatment center” received government payments for each child that crossed the threshold.

Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus Bachmann, runs a “controversial” counseling center which is said to be engaged in efforts to “cure” homosexuals. But the center can’t be that controversial as it has received over $137,000 in federal payments for treatments at the center.

The reality is that federal, state and local governments play a huge role in the lives of all Americans. The reality is that preaching that government is the “enemy” is simply false and misleading. This is reality that the G.O.Tea Party leaders know is truth from their own life narratives and yet they still seek to mislead. That is when hypocrisy turns to shame.