Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 30, 2012

The very existence of the Affordable Health Care Act, known in Teapublican circles as “Obamacare”, is being argued before the United States Supreme Court. It appears that the G.O.Tea Party and its amen corner on the Court is ready to dismantle a system designed to enhance and save lives, with no alternative proposal. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney got all overheated and stuck in a Cold War time warp as he declared Russian the “number one global enemy of the United States”. And finally, as controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin continues some people are speaking words that need to be spoken – for too many young black men the enemy is young black men.

Going Through the Motions

The Supreme Court of the United States had a reputation of being a nonpartisan forum for the resolution of legal issues of import. Ever since 2000 when the Supreme Court was explicitly complicit in the theft of a presidential election, there has been no doubt that on many issues jurisprudence has been swept aside in the name of naked partisanship.

But even in this era of supercharged bipartisanship the Teapublican jihad against the Affordable Healthcare Act is difficult to understand. The legislation itself is based largely upon a comprehensive healthcare proposal originally drafted by the very conservative and very Republican Heritage Foundation. And it was a Republican governor, none other than Mitt Romney (who was for universal healthcare until he was against it), who implemented the first (and only) universal healthcare plan in the country in the state of Massachusetts.

What is also difficult to understand is that the opposition to the Affordable Healthcare Act provides no alternative to solution. It is not as if 45 million uninsured Americans who will be covered by the current law will go away once they are stripped of the assurance of coverage that the law provides. And it is highly likely that without the mandate of law medical insurance companies will return to their practice of denying coverage for pre-existing illnesses and setting caps on benefits for Americans with catastrophic illnesses. And then what?

The fat and happy RobertsThomasAlitoScalia right wing of the right wing of the Supreme Court tosses out hypotheticals about mandatory funeral cost coverage and health club memberships as if this issue is some kind of moot court competition. And all the while they and their families have access to the best healthcare coverage on the planet. Meanwhile the game is already fixed and we know exactly how the RobertsThomasAlitoScalia gang will vote just as this gang (minus Roberts) knew that they were going to steal the 2000 presidential election.

The Teapublicans swear that their alternative to the Affordable Healthcare Act is not “let them die”. I wouldn’t bet my life (or yours) on it.

The Return of Dr. Strangelove

One of the great works of director Stanley Kubrick was “Dr. Strangelove” which featured a title character who was obsessed with the notion of going to war with the Soviet Union. In a Strangelovian reprise, Mitt Romney took time out from his trudging march towards the Teapublican nomination to refer to Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical enemy” – shades of the “Evil Empire”.

It would be a good idea if someone reminded Mr. Romney that the year is 2012 and not 1962 and that Russia, while not always a cheek and jowl ally, is hardly the “enemy”. It is one more country with competing interests to those of the United States. If every country that has competing interests is an “enemy”, the United States under President Mitt Romney is going to be an isolated, friendless and seriously weakened nation.

The Plague of Black Death

The killing of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch vigilante highlights the precarious existence of young black men in these United States. Some commentators have focused on issues of racial profiling and the proliferation of weapons. And it is important that these concerns receive serious and continued attention.
It is, however, also important that a fact is recognized – young black men are killing young black men at genocidal rates in this country. The George Zimmermans and rogue police of this country can be clear and present dangers for young black men. Tragically, young black men are an even greater danger. It is a fact that must be acknowledged and addressed.

For every Trayvon Martin tragedy there are countless cases of nameless young men who are dying at the hands of their brothers. Fratricidal genocide must be addressed by any 21st century progressive agenda.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Maximum Insecurity

We have listened to continued exclamations of American “exceptionalism”, especially during the Teapublican presidential primaries. The idea being that the United States is an extraordinarily special country on this planet and that to question any of its practices and policies borders on treason. But while this country careens down the path of unprecedented disparity of wealth and the calculated denuding of its educational system and degrading of its physical country, the United States has become truly “exceptional” for imprisoning more of its citizens than any nation on earth.

Amazingly, the United States has 760 prisoners per 100,000 which is simply barbaric, particularly when compared to other developed countries – Japan: 63 per 100,000, Germany: 90 per 100,000, Britain: 153 per 100,000. With all the crime and turmoil in Mexico (208 per 100,000) and Brazil (242 per 100,000), the incarceration rates in these countries are dwarfed by the American propensity to put its citizens in jail.

A further examination of these sad statistics reveals an even deeper flaw in the American system of injustice. The huge numbers of men and women who are arrested on drug charges drive the narrative of America as a jailer nation. The harsh, draconian sentencing mandates that are the weapons of the failed war on drugs have placed hundreds of thousands of Americans in prison for decades with incredibly dysfunctional results.

The lives of these men and women are devastated, stripped of any hopes and dreams by imprisonment as well as the punitive measures that are imposed upon ex-convicts that deny even minimal opportunities for education, employment and advancement.
The families of America’s inmates are also left without parents and spouses with horrific social and economic impact. Entire communities have been eviscerated as too many young men (and women) are carted off to serve decades in prison only to return with no skills or skills best suited for mayhem.

The human cost is almost matched by the insane economic cost to this country. In efforts to appear to be “tough on crime” prisons have popped up across this country like poison mushrooms after the rain. As the Teapublicans rant and rave about the need to reduce the size of government and diminish the services that government should provide to the American people, there always seems to be money available for more prisons.

Consider one set of statistics – since 1980 the state of California has built exactly one college. During the past thirty years the state of California has built 21 prisons. This is a very sad reflection on a country with priorities that are obscenely out of balance.

As already noted, the worst part of this scenario is that this United States of Jail has been created by a totally failed war on drugs. Every study regarding the issue of drugs in society has come to the conclusion that a penal solution is simply no solution at all. Yet this country has spent $1 trillion during the past forty years in this fake war. The result has been the creation of illicit drug cartels that have become multibillion dollar enterprises. In the process resources that could have been used for education, treatment, infrastructure development and economic investment have instead been used for prisons, prison guards and technology that never seems to lessen drug traffic – it only increases the profit margins for the drug dealers.

History is full of stories of nations that got locked into a certain culture or ideology and could not change – and then they were gone. The Roman Empire and the former Soviet Union come to mind. And while we are probably not going to see the United States disappear any time soon, we are certainly witnessing the not so slow deterioration and weakening of this country through the pursuit of policies that hurt millions of people and thousands of communities.

No country can continue to withstand the kind of internal erosion that comes putting millions of people in prison for long periods of time. That the reason for imprisonment has to do with essentially social and cultural choices makes the situation all the more tragic. Too many countries have found ways to decriminalize drug use without turning their cities into modern day versions of Sodom and Gomorrah.

What we do know is that the American approach to drug use has turned to many cities into battlefields and has turned the entire country into some kind of weird 21st century gulag.

What we also know is that this policy is unsustainable. American exceptionalism is also supposed to encompass creativity and innovation. Clearly it is time for that kind of exceptionalism to make itself known.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 23, 2012

Ever since Africans were brought to the shores of North America, African Americans have been murder victims. The killers have been slave owners, Klansmen, Confederate soldiers, police officers, prison guards and other African Americans. But the murder of Trayvon Martin is also another sign of the gun madness in this country that threatens to kill us all. Meanwhile Saint Santorum reminds us that a stopped clock is right twice a day as he comments on the Romney campaign. And finally, Dartmouth College is in the news for all the right reasons.

Gun Crazy

The sad and tragic story of the murder of Trayvon Martin is national news. It is right to focus on the clear signs of racial profiling that led to the death of an innocent seventeen year old young man who deserved a better future than what was delivered to him at the hands of a wannabe cop with a gun. It is certainly right to focus on the inexcusable conduct of the local police who did not arrest or even question Trayvon Martin’s killer.

It is also right to question how long the howling pro-gun lobby is going to be allowed to ransack every aspect of public safety in the name of the sanctity of the Second Amendment as they interpret it? Because the killer of Trayvon Martin is free today, and may never suffer any state penalties, because the Florida State Legislature in a moment of mob madness passed the “Stand Your Ground” which promotes the concept of self defense to include preemptive aggression.

There are certainly rational approaches to the concept of gun ownership. Banning guns from this country is impossible. Empowering untrained civilians to legally track down anyone they deem to be “suspicious” is insane and an invitation to mass mayhem. Legalizing the purchase of military weapons and armor piercing ammunition has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with killing.

As long as this country worships at the altar of the gun, Trayvon Martin will not be the last sacrifice on that altar.

All Hail the Stopped Clock

Saint Rick Santorum or Saint Santorum for short, in commenting on the Romney campaign proved that a stopped clock can be right twice a day. He urged Republicans to consider that, if Mitt Romney was the nominee, they might as well vote for Barack Obama.

I never thought that I would agree but one can only hope that the remaining sane members of the G.O.Tea Party listen to Saint Santorum and do indeed vote for President Obama.

A Great Day for Dartmouth College

As an alumnus of Dartmouth College I am going to take a point of personal privilege to note that today President Obama nominated Dr. Jim Yong Kim to be the new president of the World Bank. Dr. Kim, by the way, is the president of Dartmouth College.

A winner of a MacArthur Foundation grant and the one of the founders of the internationally acclaimed Partners in Health, Dr. Kim is a brilliant choice for this challenging position. I have had the opportunity to meet and listen to Dr. Kim and he is not only brilliant, he is a modern polymath who is brilliant in so many different iterations.

Congratulations to Dr. Kim and congratulations to President Obama on his brilliant selection.

Have a great weekend

Point of View Columns

When Freedom Equals Tyranny

It is amazing how the political campaign season has twisted and turned with stomach-churning frequency. As recently as six months ago, it would be accurate to state that the unifying goal and mission of the Teapublican Party was to defeat the Negro Anticolonialist Kenyan Muslim Undocumented Alien, President Barack Obama. It was the kind of mission statement that the entire right wing of the right wing could recite from a palm card – except, of course, the hapless Rodeo Rick Perry (oops!).

But now the mission statement has veered so far to the right of the Teapublican social agenda that defeating Barack Obama almost seems an afterthought. Puritanical zealots like Saint Santorum are bellowing that the future of the Republic is in jeopardy because of contraception and the right of women to make choices regarding motherhood.

Same sex marriage is opposed with a vehemence not seen since hoods and white robes went out of style. While high crimes and misdemeanors are taking place in corporate boardrooms, the G.O.Tea Party is concerned with what it believes is felonious conduct that takes place in the privacy of your bedrooms.

And now, in a move that would make a judo master proud, the Teapublicans have linked their opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act to religious freedom. The argument goes something like this: if an employer’s religious beliefs do not coincide with the medical treatment sought by an employee, the employer shouldn’t have to pay for it.

Leaping on this rickety platform of logic, leaders of the Catholic Church along with other opponents of contraception and abortion believe that they have discovered a backdoor strategy whereby these medical services can be denied to female employees, cloaking this strategy with the cause of religious freedom.

But it has to said – religious freedom entitles someone to practice their faith, not impose the tenets of that faith on someone else. Taking the argument regarding contraception, health care and religious freedom to its logical extreme many employers could impose restrictions. Employers who are Jehovah’s Witnesses can refuse to provide health coverage that includes blood transfusions and surgery. Employers who are Orthodox Jews could refuse to provide health care coverage that doesn’t mandate circumcision at birth. The list goes could go on into some sad, stupid state of confusion.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion certainly empowers these religious leaders to state their point of view. But if what underlies the denial of freedom to others, all freedoms are devalued. After all, there was a time when Roman emperors viewed all Christians as enemies of the state and put them to death for their beliefs. How odd it is that 2000 years later Catholics pronounce political death sentences on politicians that do not support their point of view.

As a practicing Catholic I certainly feel queasy about the political activism of the Catholic Church even as these vocal leaders and their self-righteous political supports have been noticeably less on the issue of child abuse by Catholic priests. The vehement statements of outrage against contraception and same-sex marriage dwarf any statements of dismay, disgust or apology by the Catholic Church when it comes to the abuse of children by priests.

Entire parishes and archdioceses have been bankrupted by the damages awarded to the victims of the Catholic Church. Yet the acknowledgements of guilt and complicity have been tepid when compared to the bellicose roar of the church hierarchy in denying the legitimacy of choice by women or of expressions of love that do not comport with their moral universe.

And the Catholic Church is not the only glass house. One of the largest entertainment industries in America is pornography. It would be naïve and silly to believe that Teapublicans do not count pornography customers in their number.
We are witnessing a return to a time best left forgotten when imposing moral standards and views on life were accomplished with threats and violence. The wobbly core beliefs of the framers of the Constitution were tested by issues like slavery and suffrage for women. But the sound concepts of freedom and the rights of individuals bound by a union focused on the common good are worth remembering and citing.

Those sound concepts are being remixed and spun in ways that are taking us back into a time of intolerance and injustice. We should remember that in such matters it can get late early.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March16, 2012

Now we learn that 60% of self-identified Republicans in Alabama believe (“believe”) that President Obama is a Muslim and worships Allah. Perhaps we really do live in the United States of Stupid. Meanwhile Mitt Romney and the rest of his Teapublican wingmen promise to get rid of Planned Parenthood if they are elected president. How did coming out against contraception, breast cancer screenings and the overall health of women become something to be proud of? And in that cheese-eating-Packers losing state of Wisconsin, the legislature has passed a bill requiring that the primary topic in sex education classes will be abstinence and that contraception will not be required as part of the curriculum. I guess we can count on a lot more Cheeseheads in the very near future.

Back Home in Alabama

During this past week the G.O.Tea Party Cavalcade of Clowns took its act to Alabama and Mississippi. As a result, for a few days we learned way more than we needed (or wanted) to know about what the Republicans in those two states think.
Remember that for almost 100 years Alabama and Mississippi were solidly and inextricably on the Democratic side of the political ledger. And then the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed during the Democratic administration of President Lyndon Johnson. That would be the Civil Rights Act that affirmed the right of black Americans to vote and to be free of racial discrimination.

For this betrayal, almost all white Democrats in Alabama and Mississippi became Republicans even though the Republican Party was founded in order to abolish slavery. Obviously it didn’t matter since Democrats had committed the more recent unpardonable sin of recognizing the basic constitutional rights of black Americans.
The Alabama contingent of former Democrats and their progeny had an opportunity to parade their views on the national stage last week. And that is when we learned that 60% (!!!!) of Alabama Teapublicans believe that President Obama is a Muslim and worships Allah.

The stone-brained stupidity revealed by this one polling statistic makes it reasonable to consider a national name change to the United States of Stupid.

Death to Planned Parenthood

Mitt Romney is now famously on the record as saying that as president he will “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. This is a stunning statement from a credible president that is unprecedented in recent history for its absolute disregard for the health rights of women.

Planned Parenthood has, over its decades of existence provided a broad range of health services to women that are otherwise not available. The G.O.Tea Party has seized upon the abortion issue, but less than 10% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood have anything to do with pregnancy termination. It should also be noted, as if it would make a difference, that for years no federal funds have been used to support Planned Parenthood Programs that involve abortions.

Obviously the important and essential work of this organization is to be sacrificed. Of course this sacrifice also will include the millions of women who depend upon Planned Parenthood for their essential health care needs.

Just as obviously, Mitt Romney and his Teapublican wingmen just don’t care.

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

The state of Wisconsin is known for its cheese and the Green Bay Packers. It is now becoming famous for electing lunatics to govern the state.

Earlier this year the legislature enacted a bill that stripped state employees of their collective bargaining rights. Ironically, Wisconsin was the first state to provide collective bargaining rights to public employees.

Now the legislature has passed a bill making the teaching of abstinence mandatory in sex education classes in all Wisconsin public schools. The teaching of contraception is optional and clearly not encouraged.

The sheer doctrinaire idiocy of this legislation is stunning and frightening. The closing of minds is never consistent with a useful education.

Meanwhile, get ready to see a lot more Cheeseheads in the very near future.

Have a great weekend!

Be My Guest

Be My Guest Column by John M. Palmer, Ph.D

Violence is as American as Apple Pie
The title of this guest column says it all, but in case you haven’t been paying attention to the world outside your door, let’s take New York City and the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.

The nineteen year old boyfriend of a woman with a twenty-two month old boy reportedly admitted beating the child until he stopped crying. The beating lacerated the child’s internal organs killing him. This past weekend a veteran US soldier reportedly admitted shooting over a dozen Afghan people. It turns out they were mostly women and children and they were reportedly killed in this incident.

A couple of weeks ago the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce hosted it’s Second Annual Urban Health Conference. During the four day event, one session was dedicated to the public health problem of violence. Some of the facts shared during the session at the Harlem State Office Building included; Between 350 and 700 calls are fielded on a city run domestic violence hotline daily; 67% of women killed in domestic violence incidents, in New York City, have not had in contact with the NYPD or the judicial system; most of the people shot in Central Harlem are black male youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years.

Do we have an epidemic of violence in this city, country, world? The term epidemic conjours images of infectious disease running rampant, killing the unprotected and vulnerable. Surely such an epidemic would alarm those whose citizens, neighbors, friends and kin were found to be victims. Research would be undertaken to develop an antidote, vaccine, treatment or effective intervention to stop the spread of the disease.

Authorities, leaders, responsible stakeholders would decry those who had been ineffective in stopping the grim reaper’s sweep through our communities and a unified, standardized approach would be developed and refined until the epidemic was quelled

Duh?! What happened?! Where is the leadership on this issue? Where are the standards of behavior that should be practiced by all of us at all times? Where is the call for decorum, polite discourse, humane comportment of all? Where are the resources to attack and eliminate the symptoms?

We have the aftermath of violence addressed. Ambulances to pick up the dead and battered. Victim service programs to help heal the victims, are funded. Hospitals have become expert in detecting and treating violence. We can even predict where it might happen. Why haven’t we developed the will prevent it???

Is it in our national interest not to make to big a deal of this issue? If we are too successful in questioning violence, as an acceptable response to any provocation, will it diminish our will to fight to protect our rights? Will the recruitment for our armed forces be affected if we are proactive and mandate conflict resolution as the fourth R? Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic and conflict Resolution?

Will we see our athletic competitions become less popular? Will colleges have to figure out other ways to make money if football becomes less popular? What will Vegas do without it’s Mega fights? Will hockey degenerate into figure skating with sticks?

Just when we have been able to get our females interested in knocking each others heads of for the Olympiad, in the ring, and in the hexagon!! Will they balk?

What will happen to the television and movie industry if we talk about the damage violent movies and television programming may do to support violent acting out, fighting , killing, etc?

The Soap box is there, the bully pulpit is available. No one seems ready to take the leadership. Is there still a resounding shame of a nation that would allow it’s most ardent use of non-violent tactics be murdered?

How often have we heard this issue being uttered as a vital political issue that should be addressed by candidates for the highest office in the land? How many solutions initiatives or programs have been proposed by our President or those who would become President? It’s the economy stupid? How much does a gunshot wound cost anyway? How about 1million dollars? Is our economy doing so well we can afford ignoring these current rates?

How much does it cost in human pain and suffering to deal with the aftermath of a woman murdered despite the order of protection she had against her spouse/lover/boyfriend? How many geniuses have we lost in their infancy as the victim of a caretaker that didn’t know how to control his/her temper?

When are we going to do something? Don’t wait! Start today! Take some effective action to stop human on human violence. I don’t want to suggest that we should love our neighbor or turn the other cheek, or ask” why can’t we all get along?” It’s been said and done to some effect – Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.

John M. Palmer, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of New York. He has served as the Executive Director of Harlem Hospital Center and Renaissance Healthcare Network in Harlem, New York, as well as Executive Director of Kingsborough Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, New York. He published a health and wellness column in Positive Community Magazine from 2007-2011.

Point of View Columns

World War III

Ever since the end of World War II most people who care about such things have sought to avoid World War III. The apocalyptic vision of a global conflagration has been enough to inspire the founding of the United Nations and literally hundreds of peace keeping missions. Yet, despite the best efforts of the well-intentioned World War III seems to have begun with the war against women in the United States, clouds of war hovering over Iran and Syria and this country mired in the muck of never ending conflict in Afghanistan. It seems that the dogs of war run silent these days.

In the United States a vitriolic campaign against the healthcare rights of women has flooded the Teapublican Party like the spill from a broken sewage pipe. Battles fought long ago are now being resumed with slogans reeking of self-righteous moral fascism.

As always, poor women are the grist for this particularly loathsome mill, but it should be clear that all women are at risk of being in the crosshairs of the right wing of the right wing. It has been proven multiple times that to the extent that women have control over their bodies and reproduction they have a greater opportunity to make affirmative, positive decisions about their future. When that control is limited or taken away, women are shackled to joyless lives with no prospect for a better tomorrow.

While the yahoo candidates of the G.O.Tea Party hoot and holler about abortion and contraception, the real agenda seems to be to deny women of basic healthcare services that are totally unrelated. But we should be clear that the milling mob of Teapublican zealots who advocate transvaginal ultrasound procedures are not only seeking to limit the number of abortions, they are also seeking to humiliate and subjugate women to the will of self-appointed moral czars. As you read this column the war on women is being fought throughout this country and in too many places around this world.

The fact that this country has been at war (in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere) for over a decade has anesthetized Americans to the cost of war. During the past decade over a trillion dollars have been spent and thousands of Americans and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghan citizens have died.

Most Americans glimpse the war between episodes of “American Idol” or during the “salute to the troops” at half time of the Super Bowl. The cost of blood and treasure is quite simply unknown to most of us.

And this empowers the G.O.Tea Party presidential candidates to once again bang the nearly broken drums of war in support of further conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan. And as they utter words of war they lull too many Americans into a sense of omnipotence cushioned with the security of knowing that the wars they embrace will never come to the shores of this country – as if 9/11 never really happened.

The former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence unit has stated that a war with Iran is a foolish endeavor. American military leaders can’t even begin to determine what a useful military intervention in Syria might look like. But the chicken hawk warriors who have never fought a war, who have never sent men or women to their deaths, feel that it is somehow useful to urge this country into another bloodbath.

And all the while this country is sinking deeper and deeper into the madness that is the war in Afghanistan. After being at war for a decade it should be no mystery that American troops would urinate on corpses, burn Korans or go totally crazy and massacre women and children in their sleep. It is impossible to wade into the fog of war and see clearly.

There is no argument that could possibly justify American troops staying and dying in Afghanistan one more day. This country’s security will not be enhanced next week, next month or next year if U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan. But the price paid in blood and treasure is not worth the gossamer veneer of national security that is supposed to justify this mission.

The world is at war in a more insidious and dangerous way than anyone could have imagined. War has always been the last alternative of a sane society. War is now a choice that is embraced too easily and too often. In playing with the fire of death and battle it is all too possible that a conflagration will begin that will not be extinguished easily.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 9, 2010

Andrew Breitbart died last week at the age of 43. It has been written that one should not speak ill of the dead, but those who cherish decency will not be mourning his passing – as for the Teapublicans, their eulogies of Breitbart tells us who they really are. Meanwhile, as this country struggles to reconfigure its educational system so that Americans can remain competitive in the global marketplace, the G.O.Tea Party seems to savor the prospect of dismantling the entire educational infrastructure. Meanwhile, shouldn’t Rush Limbaugh, who is spouting off from the permanent rhetorical sewer in which he resides should be a total embarrassment to the Teapublicans? Maybe, maybe not.

Andrew Breitbart – R.I.P.

Andrew Breitbart died and as the eulogies from the right wing of the right wing poured forth one would think that someone else had died. Characterizing Andrew Breitbart as some brave, intrepid journalist who was relentless in his search for the truth is like praising Donald Duck for his eloquence.

Andrew Breitbart was a bully and an unabashed liar who seemed to take great pleasure in publishing mistruths so that he could view the collateral damage from his lair in California. This unindicted blogger tried to ruin the life of Shirley Sherrod, a courageous civil rights heroine who was engaged in true public service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture until she was slimed by Breitbart.

The Sherrod incident alone should disqualify him for praise, but Teapublicans like Sarah Palin (there’s that name again!) have tried to make Breitbart into some kind of hero. Sarah and the rest of her Tea Partiers are simply shameless and shameful.

Dumb and Dumber?

Depending on the study to which you may refer, the United States world ranking in academic achievement ranks in the mid-20’s. Two decades ago the U.S. was in the top ten. Three decades ago the U.S. was in the top 5.

Faced with this enormous educational crisis the Obama Administration has been working through Department of Education and with the various states to come up with strategies to improve this deplorable state of affairs. Progress has been slow but there would seem to be no choice but to continue to search for solutions.

That would make sense to most rational human beings but not to the leadership of the G.O.Tea Party. All four of the remaining presidential candidates have vowed to dismantle the Department of Education if elected. Saint Santorum has gone so far as to state on the record that he believes that public education is “a relic of the industrial revolution” and that American children should be educated at home whenever possible.

The Teapublican position on this issue would be laughable if it were not so poisonous and toxic. This approach is similar to suggesting that the best way to put out a house fire is to cut off all the water.

Even an idiot could see the foolishness of a strategy. Perhaps the Teapublicans will be better off when some real idiots take charge.

Let Rush be Rush!

Rush Limbaugh is like some broken sewer that can’t be fixed. As a result the filth and sewage spills out recklessly damaging everything that it touches.

His latest disgusting foray had him calling women who advocate contraception “sluts” and “prostitutes”. Even President Obama had to lend his voice of support by calling one of the victims of Rush’s felonious sliming. But the G.O.Tea Party was tepid in its criticism (certainly not condemnation) of Limbaugh and their presidential candidates looked like aging contortionists as they tried to distance themselves from this buffoon…but not too much so as to incur the Wrath of Rush.

I can only hope that Rush Limbaugh stays on the air as he continues to give a voice to the deepest and most wretched aspects of the G.O.Tea Party persona so that we know it for what it really is.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

It’s Only a Test

In a time when common sense seems to have gone into some kind of witness protection program, insanity parades across the public stage masquerading as common sense. Somehow we are supposed to believe that it is possible to dismantle the federal government and still maintain a quality of life for American citizens that is, at the moment, unsurpassed in world history. Somehow we are supposed to believe that multiple wars are worthy of contemplation and serious consideration. Somehow we are supposed to believe that lowering taxes for the wealthy while diminishing services for most Americans will make this country a better place.

In these times we seek inspiration and solace wherever we can find it. I was attending St. Charles Borromeo Catholic church in Harlem – http://www.churchofstcharlesborromeoharlem.com -with my son this past Sunday and the choir was singing “Its Only a Test”. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s only a test that you’re going through,
It’s gonna be over real soon.
Keep the faith; don’t give up for it’s only a test.

I have tried to keep those lyrics in mind as it seems that the entire country is going through a “testing time”. Perhaps it will help to remember, the next time that Newt Gingrich, a major presidential candidate says that the Obama Administration is the greatest threat to the United States since Nazi Germany, that….” it’s only a test”.

We have seen Ron Paul, yet another major presidential candidate proclaim that, if elected, he would dismantle the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank. We have to remember “….its gonna be over real soon”.

Rick Santorum would have us believe that it is a sign of snobbery for President Obama to want to insure that every American has the opportunity for post high school education – college or technical school. He would also have us believe that the root cause of this country’s problems are somehow connected to the national sex life and, as Saint in Chief, he would ban abortions, contraception and seek to dismantle the American public school system for good measure. We have to remember……….”keep the faith”.

Mitt Romney asks us not believe our lying eyes and to believe that the Obama Administration bailout of the automobile industry didn’t save millions of jobs, even though it did. He also asks us to believe that the Obama Administration stimulus didn’t work although millions of jobs were saved and almost all economic indicators including unemployment and the stock market indices are more positive than they have been at any time in the last four years……..”Don’t give up for it’s only a test”.

It is one of the great historical ironies that the Republican Party, which was formed for the express purposes of opposing and outlawing slavery, has now transformed into the G.O.Tea Party which typically speaks of limiting the rights of blacks, women, gays and lesbians. It also seeks to lessen the protections of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the children that we parent. The Teapublicans seek to dismantle “big government” even though it was big government that created the physical, educational, technological and economic infrastructure that is the modern United States.

The founders of the Republican Party would certainly recoil from the Teapublican vanguard that is so mean spirited that it will refer to women who advocate choice and control over their own bodies as “sluts and prostitutes”. The G.O.Tea Party of today has substituted meanness for compassion and sharp elbowed selfishness for a sense of national community.

In Tampa this summer the Teapublicans will chant for more guns, more wars, lower taxes, fewer social services and schools if you can afford them. That is the mantra of a major political party in the United States in the 21st century……………”it’s only a test”.

We keep waiting for the American public to wake up and realize that the Teapublican would-be emperors have no clothes. They have been stripped naked without even a fig leaf of intelligence, sanity, common sense or compassion. And all the spin masters and Koch-funded attack ads in the world will not change this fact…….”it’s gonna be over real soon”.

As this election year progresses we can hope that the bright light of day and the glare of honest inquiry will reveal the G.O.Tea Party for the destructive and offensive vehicle for change that it is. Certainly the Teapublicans are advocates for change. But it is change that we can never believe in.

It’s only a test.

Point of View Columns

WEEKEND EDITION – March 2, 2012

Rick Santorum, with his constant obsession with the sex life of the American public, seems to be running for Saint in Chief rather than Commander in Chief. But he has taken a moment from beating the Bible to lecturing President Obama on the virtues of never apologizing. Meanwhile that Teapublican Doughboy, Rush Limbaugh, has basically compared any woman using contraceptives to a slut or a prostitute. Perhaps he is graduating from Doughboy to Pimpboy? Who knows?

A finally the pit of slime just got deeper. That would be the pit of slime from which the Teapublicans find mud to sling at Barack Obama. A knucklehead federal judge in Montana and a lunatic sheriff in Arizona are the latest in a long, sad line of slime slingers.

No Apologies?

During the past week Saint Santorum has criticized President Obama for offering an apology to the people of Afghanistan after NATO coalition soldiers accidentally burned some copies of the Koran. This incident has caused tremendous turmoil in a country already brutalized by decades of war and several American troops have been killed in its aftermath.

Saint Santorum has pronounced that the exceptional nature of the United States of America means that it should never have to apologize. On the Planet Santorum even in the case of an obvious mistake no apologies are necessary.
Of course on the Planet Earth apologies are a part of human interaction and civilized discourse. Only a fool would think that an apology is a sign of weakness. Indeed, there is a certain inner strength which enables the individual (or country) to apologize.

Saint Santorum is totally unfamiliar with this concept. And we have to wonder is “No Apologizing” a part of the curriculum as Saint Santorum home schools his
seven children?

The Doughboy as a Pimpboy

That Rush Limbaugh is an idiot is beyond debate. Over the past two decades he has retired every Idiot of the Year, Idiot of the Decade and Idiot of the Century award. The fact is that he is an entertainer. The sad fact is that too many people take him seriously.

Lumbering into the recent fake contraception controversy, Limbaugh huffed and puffed and proclaimed that women who purchase contraceptives through any federally funded program are being paid to have sex by men who pay taxes. Therefore, in his addled brain, these women are actually sluts and prostitutes.

It would do no good to tell the Teapublican Doughboy that women also pay taxes. It is also useless to point out to him that his analogy is entirely tasteless and unworthy.

Unfortunately, it is also useless to ask Rush Limbaugh to go away.

The Bottomless Pit
Let’s see….since he became President Barack Obama has been called a Kenyan, an illegal alien, a Muslim, a Marxist, a Socialist and the Anti-Christ. His credentials at Harvard and Columbia have been questioned and he has also been called a liar on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.

It would seem that the pit of slime could not go any deeper and then along comes federal court judge Richard Cobull who thought it would be interesting to use his federal court e-mail account to circulate a joke about President Obama’s mother that relates to orgies and bestiality. Judge Cobull has since apologized. We can assume that he apologized for getting caught.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who is currently under federal investigation for racial profiling) claims that his volunteer investigative team has discovered that President Obama’s birth certificate is……………are you ready?………a forgery.

The tribe of idiots that will believe that Barack Obama was not born in the United States will one day die out. Until then, those of us residing on Planet Sanity will have to endure these pitiful attempts to delegitimize the first black president of the United States.

Have a great weekend!