Point of View Columns

Coincidence of Coincidence

President Obama’s most recent State of the Union address was an exercise in the normal and the paranormal. Normal in that since George Washington, every American president has addressed Congress at the beginning of the year to proclaim recent accomplishments and to articulate a vision for the future.

The paranormal aspect refers to the absolutely concrete nature of the opposition to President Obama. The opposition to this president and his very existence in the White House seems to transcend his policies and leads one to wonder what is the source and reason for this bitter disposition.

We all recollect that in January of 2009, within days of Barack Obama’s inauguration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared his intention to make him a “one term president”. In that same timeframe, the fatuous and foul-mouthed radio fool Rush Limbaugh expressed his fervent wish that Barack Obama would “fail” as president clearly not caring that if the President of the United States “fails” the American people suffer.

It should be noted that these implacable statements of opposition were issued, along with many others, prior to President Obama doing anything more controversial than choosing a Cabinet and making his inaugural speech. He had just been elected with one of the largest pluralities in recent history. He really hadn’t had a chance to antagonize or disappoint anyone. Yet the opposition came to life fully matured and steeped in venom and disdain.

When Barack Obama was elected in November of 2008 this country’s economy was in free fall thanks to the profligate policies of the Bush Administration. These policies included two murderous wars that were financed with debt (the first time this had ever occurred in American history) as well as turning a blind eye to the misdeeds of the financial community.

By the time he was president, Barack Obama was faced with an economy that was now hurtling to a bottom that never appeared. Working with the TARP tools provided by Congress and the Bush Administration the free fall finally stopped and three years later we are actually seeing real growth in the economy. For this the Teapublicans call Barack Obama a “failed president”.

Soon after his inauguration General Motors and the entire American automobile industry teetered on the brink of virtual extinction. The country that gave birth to the automobile industry was about to witness its death within its own borders.
And that would have been the outcome but for the policies of the Obama Administration which rescued G.M. and Chrysler and provided Ford Motor Company with a healthy environment in which it could compete. Today General Motors is again the world’s largest automobile company and millions of American jobs and American families have been saved. For this the G.O.Tea Party calls Barack Obama a “failed president”.

During his entire presidency President Obama has been subject to unrelenting and incessant questions regarding his citizenship. These questions were never raised when he was admitted to the bar in the State of Illinois or when he was elected State Senator or United States Senator.

No other president or serious presidential candidate has ever been subject to this bizarre scrutiny even though several famous Republican candidates were actually born outside of the United States – Barry Goldwater, George Romney and John McCain all immediately come to mind.

The hunt for the proof that Barack Obama shouldn’t be president – that somehow the laws of the United States and of nature have been offended continues to this very day. As you read this column a court in the state of Georgia is demanding that President Obama appear personally to present his birth certificate otherwise he will not be on the ballot in November. This follows a similar attempt in Alabama within the past few weeks.

These threads of illogic, idiocy and extreme partisanship form a pattern that is familiar in the tapestry of American history. Can it really be a coincidence that the first black President of the United States is also the first president to be subject to these bizarre inquiries regarding his citizenship. Is it possible that a president who saved millions of jobs in a vital American industry could be a “failed” president?

How is it possible that the president who directed the elimination of Osama bin Laden and ended American military presence in Iraq be denied any credit or consideration? And how is it that the first American president to bring about fundamental change in the healthcare system in over a half a century is the target of such hate and vitriol?

The Teapublican Clown Cavalcade of Candidates has been united on one point – that Barack Obama should be replaced as president. Fair enough – that is the job of the opposition party. But the rationale for why he should be replaced is devoid of logic and purpose except for one thing – and it is that one thing that is the unfortunate elephant in the room.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 27, 2012

While you were sleeping a name change took place and the United States of America became the United States of Stupid. That might explain how the Teapublicans complain when the economy of this country improves and when an American hockey player makes the news by boycotting the White House to protest the growth of government. And just to keep things interesting, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona wins the January 2012 Angry White Woman award. Go Jan!

Good News, Bad News

Earlier today it was announced that the Gross Domestic Product for the United States increased by 2.8% for the past quarter. While this does not match the growth rates of Brazil or China, it is significant positive news and an indication that the economy is continuing to improve during the administration of Barack Obama.

Predictably, the G.O.Tea Party zealots will argue that a) it is not enough of an increase in the GDP and b) in any event, the policies of Barack Obama didn’t have anything to do with it. Of course, if the economy were showing signs of decline, it would absolutely be the complete fault of President Obama.

If nothing else, the Teapublicans are predictable. And it appears that there is nothing else.

Hockey Puckhead

During this past week the Boston Bruins hockey team, the current Stanley Cup champions, visited the White House for a tradition salute by the president. This team has only two American members and one of them, Tim Thomas, boycotted the White House appearance claiming that he wanted to show his distaste for big government.

Given the unprecedented level of blatant disrespect that has been shown to President Obama during the past three years it should be no surprise that a hockey puckhead would want to join the party. But someone should remind Mr. Thomas that it is big government that pays for a builds many of the hockey arenas in which he makes a living.

Also, as a native of Flint, Michigan, he may want to ask some his former neighbors how they feel about big government after it bailed out the auto industry and save hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions of households in Michigan.

That would, of course require the use of logic. And it is obvious that what Tim Thomas was really protesting was the presence of Barack Obama in the White House.

Arizona Dreamin’

Speaking of disrespecting President Obama – I have been a serious observer of politics in the United States for 50 years. During that time I have seen presidents who were absolutely despised by their opposition – Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton come to mind. During that time I have never seen a senior public official personally confront a president in the incredibly rude and offensive manner of Governor Jan Brewer when she “greeted” President Obama at the airport in Arizona.

Yelling, finger pointing, with veins on her neck bulging while doing her version of the Angry White Woman; she appeared to really lose it in her confrontation with the president. This faded former cheerleader later stated that she thought that President Obama was “thin-skinned” and excused her behavior by hiding behind the tried and true defense that white women can use in confrontations with black men – she said that she felt “threatened”.

Of course back in the day, the merest hint that a white woman felt threatened by a black man would be enough to find that black man at the end of a rope. It is still enough to get a black man sanctioned or fired in the workplace. In the case of Governor Brewer, it is just another insult that President Obama has to ignore.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

The Meaning of Newt

The cheap thrills and rhetorical carnage that has characterized the Teapublican Clownapalooza presidential primaries have provided enough material to keep comedians and political commentators in business for years. We have watched the machinations of this contest the same way we will cast a wayward glance at a car crash while driving by – it is hard not to look.

We were witness to Rodeo Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann proving to be world champions of stupidity, bigotry and meanness only to see Rodeo Rick explode and be whisked away like a cheap balloon at a carnival. Meanwhile Michele Bachmann has simply evanesced making it seem that maybe she was just a bad dream. Jon Huntsmann showed true presidential qualities by quitting the race and disassociating himself from this shameful gaggle of Tea Party panderers – and then he endorsed Mitt Romney, the well-lubricated weather vane who points in whatever direction might lead to votes.

Now we have seen the Newt Gingrich Ego Machine trample Mitt Romney in South Carolina and head to Florida. During the coming week we will see Newt and Mitt and Rick and Ron trade barbs and insults as they vie for the blessings of the right wing of the right wing. And despite the obvious, glaring flaws of these candidates we can be pretty sure that one of them will win the G.O.Tea Party nomination and will be running against Barack Obama in the fall.

It is said that common knowledge is rarely common – and common knowledge supports the view that none of the Teapublican Clowns could ever beat President Obama on November 6th. And the logic that greases that slippery slope of thought could indeed lead to the inauguration of President Newt Gingrich or President Mitt Romney in January 2013.

And that should be a cause for concern for anyone who cares about the present and the future. That obviously does not include people who feel that it is more important to expound on their differences with the record of Barack Obama rather than focus on the areas of commonality and mutual support.

This is not just another futile plea for peace, love and understanding in the political arena. President Obama does not need warm hugs and cookies before bedtime. What he does need is support that matches the vigor and determination of the opposition. And it is clear that the opposition to Barack Obama is the product of molten fury that has literally obliterated common sense and good judgment.

The only explanation for the ascendancy of the candidacy of Newt Gingrich is that the opposition to President Obama would rather have anyone with a pulse and a big mouth in his place. The fact that Newt Gingrich was a failure as Speaker of the House and was fined $300,000 for ethics violations while holding that position, that he is directly responsible for the historic total shutdown of the federal government, that his personal life reflects crass hypocrisy and personal indulgence that spits in the face of his supposed adherence to “family values”, that he engages in the kind of loose grenade rhetoric that by turns insults and baffles — that with all of this excess baggage there is a significant percentage of the American electorate that would elect him to replace Barack Obama. That is how much President Obama is despised by the right wing of the right wing.

In the face of this mindless but determined opposition, it is not the time to parse through the policy nuances of the Obama Administration not only wants to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, they also want to repeal Roe v. Wade and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Given the opportunity the voters being courted by Newt and Mitt and Rick and Ron would withdraw the United States from the United Nations, make contraception a federal crime and disband the Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Department of Energy and the Department of Education for good measure.

The opposition of Barack Obama is prepared to seize the time and strangle it into submission. His supporters who are lukewarm simply do not appreciate the nature of his opposition. The policy measures mentioned are lifted from speeches and presentations by Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum. Any one of them will, as the nominee of the Teapublican Party, embrace and endorse virtually all of these positions.

The fact that Barack Obama has not been a perfect president cannot possibly be used as an excuse to allow asylum escapees to grab control of this country. The next time Tavis Smiley or Bill Clinton or Cornel West decides to grace us with their opinion on how Barack Obama could do a better job, chipping away at his support as they expound, instead of pressing the “Mute” button it might be better to ask them how does “President Newt Gingrich” sound?

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 20, 2012

There is now some legroom in the Teapublican Clown Car, better known as the Republican presidential nomination contest. With the departure of John Huntsman and Rodeo Rick Perry the last clowns standing are named Newt, Rick, Mitt and Ron (it is impossible to make this stuff up). What is clear from watching the most recent South Carolina debate is that reality, logic, common sense and decency have been deported from the G.O.Tea Party leaving us to wonder “what now?” every time one of the remaining candidates opens his mouth.

No More Mr. Nice Guy?

During the past year Congressman Ron Paul poll numbers have been at a steady 20% of Republican voters. That means that 20% of the Teapublican Party thinks that it would be a good idea to dismantle the Federal Reserve System collapsing the world economy in the process. It also means that 20% of Teapublicans think that the federal government is the “enemy” and should be dismantled. That would be the same federal government that inspects our food, safeguards the air and waterways, provides border defense and regulates air, rail and highway traffic while supporting education and healthcare.

It also means that 20% of Teapublicans are not appalled, shocked or offended by the fact that Mr. Paul’s weekly newsletter has for over two decades spewed racist rants as a matter of course. Mr. Paul disavowed the newsletters that bear his name which is like a bank robber pleading innocent even though his fingerprints are all over the safe.

That fully a fifth of the G.O.Tea Party stalwarts have no problem with this racially flawed candidate speaks volumes about the Teapublican concept of race relations and equity in the 21st century.

We need to listen.

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

In the aftermath of the Costa Concordia cruise line disaster in Italy there has been endless analysis and commentary about how such a horrible accident could happen. It appears that there was an avalanche of human error that has brought about death and destruction.

It might be useful to keep in mind that at any point of the day there are hundreds of cruise ships sailing on oceans around the world. That the tens of thousands of passengers arrive safely after enjoyable voyages is not due to luck or good fortune. Rather it is the presence of international and national regulations that serve to protect the passengers and ships.

So the next time a G.O.Tea Party zealot starts to proclaim the sanctity of “market forces” and that there is no need for government regulation of business practices think about how you would feel if your child was riding on an unregulated railroad or your mother was flying in an unregulated airplane. You may also think about how you would feel sitting down to a family meal consisting of uninspected food.

It may give you second thoughts about arguments against government regulation of business practices.

The Business of Government is Business

President Calvin Coolidge is quoted as having said “the business of government is business”. While there is no reason to think that he meant it literally there are many members of the business community, especially G.O.Tea Party zealots who believe that the only thing that government should do is help the wealthy get wealthier.

While wealth is a condition that most would embrace, not everyone is prepared to trample the rights, concerns and conditions of their fellow citizens in its pursuit. Nevertheless, when Mitt Romney contends that he will “not apologize for being successful”; few will question how he came by his enormous wealth. For members of the Teapublican Party success needs no explanation or defense.

It is, therefore, puzzling to say the least, to hear Mr. Romney and his Three Amigos castigate and criticize President Obama for his “bailout” of General Motors which just yesterday regained its position as the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. This is an amazing story since G.M. was pounding on death’s door less than three years ago.

President Obama’s policies saved a great American corporation, saved hundreds of companies that supply G.M. and saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. If indeed the “business of government is business” and President Obama saved a huge business and many more, how could he be wrong?

The answer is that on the Planet Teapublican Barack Obama has never done anything right.

Now that this is clear we can’t wait to ask Mitt, Ron, Rick and Newt – would they really have let G.M. disappear into bankruptcy as president?

Have a great weekend and remember November 6th

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Point of View Columns

Truth and Consequences

In a few days the South Carolina presidential primary will be held for the G.O.Tea Party candidates. In politics during the Age of Obama the bizarre has become the ordinary and the ridiculous has become routine. Lies are now so commonplace that the truth is treated as a stranger. Indeed, truth is now stranger than fiction.
To prove a point, you are asked to read the following statements and try to determine which one is not true (no peeking allowed):

1. Mitt Romney has over 30 relatives who are Mexican citizens. Indeed, Mitt Romney’s father, who also ran for president, was born in Mexico. Nevertheless, Mr. Romney proposes to deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants, millions of whom are from Mexico.

2. Rick Santorum has built a career of taking right wing positions on social issues. He is on record as favoring a constitutional amendment that would make abortion illegal. Mr. Santorum is also in favor of making contraception illegal which would eventually entail making the possession of a condom a federal crime.

3. In light of continuing questions regarding President Obama’s birthplace (and citizenship), Donald Trump has demanded a review of the marriage license of President and Mrs. Obama. Pointing to the high rate of unwed mothers in the black community, Mr. Trump has stated the need to make sure that President and Mrs. Obama were actually married at the time of the birth of their two daughters.

4. Ron Paul and his son have both gone on record as questioning the need for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Not a single one of the Teapublican presidential candidates has questioned or challenged this position.

If you chose #3 you made a good guess and you have probably been a frequent Point of View reader. However, an argument can be made that any of the other three items are too crazy to be true. But they are.

Mitt Romney’s grandparents were Mormon missionaries in Mexico when his father was born. A number of Mr. Romney’s relatives have been born in Mexico and over thirty direct relatives are currently residents and citizens of Mexico.

Despite this set of facts Mr. Romney has advocated a zero tolerance policy regarding undocumented immigrants which will ultimately translate into the forced deportation of over 11 million men, women and children. Aside from the irony of a nation built by immigrants (and presidential candidates who are the direct descendants of immigrants) taking such draconian actions against immigrants, there are only a few demented right wing of the right wing zealots who believe that such a policy could ever be enforced.

Rick Santorum’s fixation on the sex lives of every American is a matter of public record. His position against abortion can be respected. His desire to criminalize this most personal of medical decisions reflects unfounded moral superiority on his part.

His objection to contraception crosses the border of bizarre and goes into a very twisted territory. In Mr. Santorum’s view contraception encourages people to engage in sexual behavior that should be prohibited – whatever that means. That he would seek to criminalize possession of a condom or a birth control pill is pathetic – and supported by millions of men and women would seek to impose their will on the rest of the country.

Ron Paul has taken his libertarian philosophy to an extreme that absolves and excuses racism as a private act. His retrospective opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is vile and despicable as it reflects a sanitized view of American history. This is a view that recognizes segregation and institutionalized racism as being unfortunate at worst.

This is a view that simply erases the history of this country that included federal, state and local governments sanctioning the oppression and torment of black Americans simply because they were black. The civil rights movement was never just about drinking fountains and seating arrangements. Men, women and children risked their lives and died endeavoring to take a rightful position in this country, a position that had been denied as a matter of American history since the Constitution ratified slavery in 1789.

Shattered dreams and broken lives, fear and the burning shame of discrimination were the fuel that fed the fire of the civil rights movement. And while the Civil Rights Act has most assuredly not erased the stain of racism from the American fabric, civil rights legislation has most assuredly brought black Americans closer to the attainment of full citizenship.

The other Teapublican candidates have neither challenged nor questioned Mr. Paul’s position. That is the truth and that is a shame.

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Weekend Edition – January 13, 2012

The Teapublican presidential primaries, also known as The Eternal Circus, continue unabated. The relentless attacks on Barack Obama and common sense are funded by untold millions of dollars coming from unknown corporate and private sources (thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision). What we do know that the election of Newt, Mitt, Rick, Ron or Jon would be a disaster for this country and for most of the world.

We have been presented with the sight of Newt Gingrich crying crocodile tears as he complains about campaign advertisements that tell the truth about him – with Rudy Giuliani coming to the rescue (I do not make up these stories). We have seen American troops excoriated for desecrating the corpses of Taliban fighters. Did anyone really think that for the last ten years wars have been fought with manners, courtesy and decorum? And finally, President Obama has proposed to streamline government, saving $10 billion dollars over the next ten years as well as providing new levels of assistance to small businesses. Please read my prediction of Congressional action.

Tears of a Newt

For the past few weeks we have had the serious misfortune of having to listen to Newt Gingrich complain that Mitt Romney and his Super Pac’s are waging a negative campaign against him. It seems that Mr. Gingrich takes offense to advertisements that mention his $300,000 fine for ethics violations, his $1.6 million fee from Freddie Mac and reference to his serial extramarital flings.

Of course all of these items are true so it must be that Newt Gingrich is offended that someone would want to tell the truth instead of the sanitized and pasteurized version that he has been peddling. Imagine that!

And then Rudy Giuliani, who when he retired as mayor of the City of New York also retired the Most Divisive Mayor Ever Award, has come running to Mr. Gingrich’s defense. Mr. Giuliani was only happy with the truth when it told the story that he wanted told and it seems that he has found a “brother from another mother” in Newt Gingrich.

The Dogs of War

This week’s news brought us a video of American Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters that they had just killed in battle. The outrage expressed from Afghanistan to Washington was predictable. There is certainly nothing proud or heroic about this behavior.

But the expressions of dismay here in the United States sound a bit tinny and the strong scent of hypocrisy. This country has been at war for ten years. During that time hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children have been killed by American troops. In the process thousands of Americans have been killed and tens of thousands have been injured and maimed.

Did anybody think that all of this carnage was taking place in a genteel fashion? Does anyone know how they would behave if they were trained and directed to kill (or be killed)? This country has sent hundreds of thousands of men and women into savage battle, savage battle that requires savage behavior simply to stay alive.

I am shocked that anyone could be shocked by the videos. It is what happens when the dogs of war are let loose.

Crystal Ball

Today President Obama announced that he would elevate the Small Business Administration to a cabinet level position in order to insure that the interests of the American small business community will be taken into account in all governmental deliberations. He also called for the streamlining of the Department of Commerce in order to better serve the small business community and save $10 billion over the next ten years.

I predict that by the time you finish reading this column the G.O.Tea Party will be in total opposition to these initiatives.

Have a great weekend!

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