Point of View Columns

The Post Racial Fairy Tale

The election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 was a global feel good moment. Americans savored the notion of a young, energetic and brilliant new president. The sickness of war and the souring economy had this country yearning for the change that Obama promised. And the world looked on with wonder that a nation with a history that has been stained with the impossible atrocities of racism since its birth could elect a black man to lead it. It was at that moment that the narrative of the post racial fairy tale began to be told – and sold.

White Americans held up the election of Barack Obama as proof that America had “moved on” and that race was no longer a factor in political discourse. Even black Americans got caught up in the moment as President Obama’s inauguration was touted as the fulfillment of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream – even though towards the end of his life Dr. King’s rhetoric was decidedly anti-establishment.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, upon Barack Obama taking office, his opponents could let slip the racist dogs of war all the while claiming that the president was “fair game”. Rush Limbaugh bellowed that he wanted President Obama to “fail” while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell muttered hours after the oath of office was administered that his only goal was to insure that Barack Obama would be a one term president. Although such post-inaugural invective was unprecedented we were assured that there was nothing racial going on…just “fair game”.

And then, like mushrooms popping up in the slime of the forest, the Tea Party appeared. And so did effigies of Barack Obama being burned. And so did posters of Barack Obama depicted as a deranged black Joker and a witch doctor (complete with a bone through his nose). Republicans, Tea Party zealots and Teapublicans assured us that there was nothing racial going on….just “fair game”.

History can be a trickster. We can remember where we were on 9/11 but we forget that the Teapublican Party apparatus dedicated itself to complete and unalterable opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act proposed by President Obama, even though it would address the urgent health care needs of over 40 million Americans and the ongoing health care needs of over 300 million Americans. They opposed the Act even though its key elements were taken from the health care initiative proposed by the everlasting conservative (and Republican) Hoover Institute. Once again, we were assured that we were now living in a post racial America and the entire furor was just politics as usual.

President Obama was called a liar while giving an address to the United States Congress (by a United States Congressman!!!!) and we were told that in post racial America it was politics as usual. Sarah Palin winked at supporters who shouted “Kill him” referring to President Obama and we were told that it was just part of the post racial political scrum.

Throughout his presidency Barack Obama has been subject to the shameful “birther” attacks. Unprecedented in American presidential history, idiots from Rush Limbaugh to Donald Trump has sucked up news time and air space questioning the authenticity of President Obama’s citizenship. Once again, we were assured that there was nothing racist going on, just legitimate inquiry, or “fair game”.

Finally, and hopefully not too late, the cover of the racists and the bigots and the prejudiced miscreants has been blown. Over a dozen states have instituted laws that, while touted as being written to address non-existent voter fraud, are intended to suppress voter turnout among black Americans.

This is a throwback to the days of the Klan which had as its twin guiding lights the preservation of the sanctity of white women and the prevention of blacks from attaining any political power. Voter suppression was the key weapon of Klan because it recognized that voting black Americans were dangerous.

In this allegedly post-racial America, voter suppression has replaced Willie Horton ads and hysterical calls to action. In 2000 the Republican Party literally stole the presidential election and ushered in the Bush-Cheney flirtation with national and global disaster. As has been written before, rather than try to steal another election in November, the Teapublicans have decided to steal the election in August.

Mitt Romney goes to England and takes his foot out of his mouth long enough to sputter some inane comments about Anglo Saxon heritage and how the first black president of the United States doesn’t appreciate that heritage. One of Mr. Romney’s surrogates suggests that the first black president of the United States needs to learn how to be an American.

There is nothing post racial about all of this. If it quacks like a duck it is a duck. And this duck is a racist duck.

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Weekend Edition – July 27, 2012

It seems like Sarah Palin will never learn that silence is golden. That must be why she felt the need to share her impoverished opinion on the recent carnage in Aurora, Colorado. And speaking of Aurora, during the inevitable debate on gun control that ignites after every gun massacre, a factoid arose that is fascinating – there are more licensed gun dealers than McDonald’s outlets. And finally, John Sununu, a surrogate for Mitt Romney, tells us that President Obama should learn to act like an American. Can you say dog whistle?

And Exactly Who Asked Sarah?

One could only hope that after the Tucson Massacre in 2011 Sarah Palin would have had the good judgment to be quiet. After all, her website had put a rifle scope target on the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and then the congresswoman was shot in the head. The nastiness of the coincidence would be enough to shame most people into silence. But, of course, Sarah Palin is not most people.

In speaking about the carnage in Colorado Sarah Palin came out against gun control claiming that laws would not prevent “evil people” from getting guns and killing more people. While it is clear that the NRA and legions of gun lovers would agree with Ms. Palin, one has to wonder why it makes sense to make it easy, and legal, for “evil people”, to buy guns.

The alleged perpetrator in Aurora broke no laws in purchasing an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and an automatic pistol along with 6000 rounds of ammunition. It is beyond troubling that Sarah Palin, the NRA and their legions of supporters don’t have a problem with that narrative.
And it is that kind of illogic that guarantees that Aurora will not be the last venue listed on the blood soaked national roll call of tragedy.

Do You Want Fries With That?

Fact 1 – There are 123,000 licensed gun dealers in the United States. Fact 2 – There are 13,381 McDonald’s outlets in the United States. Incredibly, it appears that America loves guns more than burgers and fries.
Interesting in that a steady diet at McDonald’s will probably kill you over time. On the other hand, guns will get the job done right away.

And we know how much Americans love speed.

Can You Say Dog Whistle?

An old political trick, honed to perfection in the South, has been to put forth an offensive stratagem coded in such a way that the targeted constituency understands but the general public won’t “get it”. This has been called the “dog whistle” strategy – a message sent out on a frequency that only your audience hears.

The entire birther controversy surrounding President Obama is of the dog whistle variety. Few people seriously think that he was not born in the United States, but the birther narrative allows idiots from Donald Trump to Rush Limbaugh to decry Barack Obama as being the “other” – that is black.

Now John Sununu, acting as a surrogate for Mitt Romney after a failed political career of his own, stated that Barack Obama “needs to learn how to be an American”. Aside from trying to figure out what the hell it means to be an American in Sununu speak, it is clear that the Romney camp wants to be certain that every white voter remembers that the president is black – the other, someone who needs to act like an American.

The thing about dog whistles though, it’s not only the dog that hears it.

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Weekend Edition – July 27, 2012

It seems like Sarah Palin will never learn that silence is golden. That must be why she felt the need to share her impoverished opinion on the recent carnage in Aurora, Colorado. And speaking of Aurora, during the inevitable debate on gun control that ignites after every gun massacre, a factoid arose that is fascinating – there are more licensed gun dealers than McDonald’s outlets. And finally, John Sununu, a surrogate for Mitt Romney, tells us that President Obama should learn to act like an American. Can you say dog whistle?

And Exactly Who Asked Sarah?

One could only hope that after the Tucson Massacre in 2011 Sarah Palin would have had the good judgment to be quiet. After all, her website had put a rifle scope target on the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and then the congresswoman was shot in the head. The nastiness of the coincidence would be enough to shame most people into silence. But, of course, Sarah Palin is not most people.

In speaking about the carnage in Colorado Sarah Palin came out against gun control claiming that laws would not prevent “evil people” from getting guns and killing more people. While it is clear that the NRA and legions of gun lovers would agree with Ms. Palin, one has to wonder why it makes sense to make it easy, and legal, for “evil people”, to buy guns.

The alleged perpetrator in Aurora broke no laws in purchasing an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and an automatic pistol along with 6000 rounds of ammunition. It is beyond troubling that Sarah Palin, the NRA and their legions of supporters don’t have a problem with that narrative.
And it is that kind of illogic that guarantees that Aurora will not be the last venue listed on the blood soaked national roll call of tragedy.

Do You Want Fries With That?

Fact 1 – There are 123,000 licensed gun dealers in the United States. Fact 2 – There are 13,381 McDonald’s outlets in the United States. Incredibly, it appears that America loves guns more than burgers and fries.
Interesting in that a steady diet at McDonald’s will probably kill you over time. On the other hand, guns will get the job done right away.

And we know how much Americans love speed.

Can You Say Dog Whistle?

An old political trick, honed to perfection in the South, has been to put forth an offensive stratagem coded in such a way that the targeted constituency understands but the general public won’t “get it”. This has been called the “dog whistle” strategy – a message sent out on a frequency that only your audience hears.

The entire birther controversy surrounding President Obama is of the dog whistle variety. Few people seriously think that he was not born in the United States, but the birther narrative allows idiots from Donald Trump to Rush Limbaugh to decry Barack Obama as being the “other” – that is black.

Now John Sununu, acting as a surrogate for Mitt Romney after a failed political career of his own, stated that Barack Obama “needs to learn how to be an American”. Aside from trying to figure out what the hell it means to be an American in Sununu speak, it is clear that the Romney camp wants to be certain that every white voter remembers that the president is black – the other, someone who needs to act like an American.

The thing about dog whistles though, it’s not only the dog that hears it.

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Mitt Romney and the Myth of the Self Made Man

Recently President Obama pointed out in a speech that American businesses are not successful on their own and that they owe their success to the support and services provided by government and the American people. Proving once again that history, common sense and statistics have no place in his political rhetoric, Mitt Romney has responded by trying to promote the Myth of the Self Made Man.

The Koch brothers, Senator Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist, Congressman Paul Ryan and all of the denizens of the right wing of the right wing of the Teapublican Party loudly proclaim their goal of shrinking government, claiming that government gets in the way of business, job creation and the freedom of the American people.

In continuing his efforts to pole dance his way to the Teapublican nomination, Mitt Romney has contorted his personal narrative in order to win favor with the insatiable conservative wing of his party. And now, as he pursues this quixotic mission he has decided to twist the truth, obliterate the facts and defy common sense.

That President Obama’s statement referring to business relying on the support and services of the American government should be even remotely controversial is simply further proof of the core Teapublican ideology – “Obama Bad. Not Obama Good.” This not so insightful philosophy seems to inform Mitt Romney’s latest attack on President Obama.

It is difficult to imagine that a successful businessman like Mitt Romney would seriously think that a business could prosper in a community where there were no police, sanitation or fire services. Even though a good part of Mr. Romney’s business acumen lies with acquiring and denuding businesses and then selling off the scraps, one would think that even he would understand this elemental fact.

Mr. Romney could take time off from sending love notes to his money stashed away in faraway places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands and ask a businessman in Trenton or a businesswoman in Detroit what it is like to try and run a company when basic municipal services have disappeared and government has shrunk to a size that it can be drowned in a bathtub – to quote Grover Norquist’s timeless phrase.

If he could stop thinking about his tax returns he might read about how Steve Jobs, an entrepreneur that he cites as being independent of government, went to public school. He might also take a moment to reflect that almost all of the American employees of Apple spent some time in public school.

And if Mr. Romney is aspiring to be president he should know that almost all of the American employees of Apple who attended college went to an institution that received federal funds for research, construction and student loans. And the same story is true at companies from Microsoft to General Motors and any other business you might care to name.

It is true that businesses and their owners pay taxes. But is there anyone who would seriously argue that dollar for dollar American businesses get the best value for their tax dollars? The interstate highway system, the clean water system and the national power grid are pretty expensive items that provide incredible value to the business environment in this country. Even ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers would have to think twice about paying for the infrastructure that supports their enterprises dollar for dollar.

Historically, it was government financing that provided the resources that resulted in the construction of the transcontinental railroad which literally transformed this country and created a truly united United States. Countless fortunes were made from this single government investment as the heirs of Leland Stanford and alumni of Stanford University will attest.

More recently, it was the government that created the G.I. Bill which in turn permitted millions of returning World War II veterans (my father included) to attend college and become part of the middle class which has been the foun.dation for this country’s economic progress for over a half century. From General Electric to the general store on the corner, millions of American businesses and their owners and executives literally “owe” their success to government services and support.

It is inconceivable that anyone could seriously argue that government (federal, state and local) and the services that it provides has not been a full partner in the success of American business. And it is quite telling that Mitt Romney would try to put forward this myth of the self made man.

Mitt Romney may be a self made man but he didn’t do a very good job. He left out common sense and included an aversion to the truth

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Weekend Edition – July 20, 2012

It’s Friday and while you were sleeping twelve people were killed in a movie theater in Colorado. The NRA says that people kill people not guns. Tell that to the families of the victims. Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh continues to wallow in his personal sewer of hate and stupidity, now claiming that President Obama hates America. And finally, Mitt Romney’s wife Ann claims that the American people know all that they need to know about her family’s finances. And how, exactly, would she know?

Guns, Guns and More Guns

Last night someone in Colorado went nuts in a movie theater with an assault rifle and then a dozen people were dead. The news reports of this incidence refer to a “senseless killing”, presumably to distinguish this crime from more sensible killing.

The carnage in this country caused by guns is so massive that it seems that a killer has to get to a double digit body count to even make it into the news. An eighteen year old young man was shot and killed on a street corner near my residence in Manhattan and it didn’t even make the local papers. It makes you wonder how many shootings and killings are basically invisible.

The National Rifle Association has the United States Congress in a stranglehold, forcing it to adhere to its warped interpretation of the second amendment to the Constitution. The resulting bloodshed and slaughter is appalling and endless.

Unless and until the NRA is forced into the cave of irrelevance that it deserves we can be assured of gun smoke mixed with our news.

The Sewage that is Limbaugh

It was just a few short months ago that Rush Limbaugh sank to new depths in his personal sewer of hate and stupidity when he went on a deranged rant in degrading a young woman who testified before Congress, speaking in favor of including contraception in the array of healthcare services that should be provided to the public. Most sane Americans hoped against hope that, as several sponsors withdrew their support of the show on which this fatuous idiot blathers, we might be witnessing the end of Rush Limbaugh.

No such luck. This past week Limbaugh proved that it is almost impossible to lose money by serving up heaping, stinking piles of bad taste. In his latest attack on President Obama he assembles a set of “facts” that “prove” that Barack Obama hates America. He refers to the president’s father being a communist (this would be the father that Barack Obama never knew) and his mother being a leftist (whatever that means). He refers to the president’s training in the Ivy League, in Rush World a hotbed of leftwing extremism (although he might want to ask George W. Bush, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and John Roberts about that). He also mentions Barack Obama’s residing in Chicago; again in Rush World a virtual sanctuary for extremists (although the operatives of the Daley political machine that ruled Chicago for almost four decades might beg to differ).

Joe McCarthy, the idiot communist hunter of the fifties was always drunk and was almost always wrong. Rush Limbaugh is a recovering addict (prescription medications) and one might ascribe his mental state as being addled by past abuse. Whatever the case, he outdoes Joe McCarthy in that he manages to be wrong all of the time.

Lessons from the Romneys

It has been said that rich people are just different from you and me. And it is true. The very wealthy exist in a world of so much privilege and luxury that their sense of entitlement knows no bounds.

Take Ann Romney, for example. The wife of the presumptive Teapublican presidential candidate, when asked about the furor surrounding the millions of Romney dollars hidden abroad and the concealed tax returns replied that “the American people know everything that they need to know about our finances”.

While it is probably true that more Americans care about the Kardashians than Mitt Romney’s finances, Americans should care. It is important to know how a presidential candidate makes his/her money, it is important to know how that candidate has managed to pay/avoid taxes and it is certainly important to know why a candidate for president of the United States seems to think that it is fitting to stash a true fortune in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and who knows where else.

It is not surprising that Ann Romney is as out of touch as her husband. They make a perfect couple.

Have a great weekend!

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“Free Stuff” – An American Fairy Tale

The recent appearance by Mitt Romney at the NAACP convention was wrong on so many levels. In retrospect it seems that his sole reason for appearing was to demonstrate to his base that he was capable of strutting into an arena full of black people and telling them what they needed to hear – the Truth According to Mitt. That this was Magic Mitt’s Sister Souljah moment is pretty clear.

Any doubt about whether Mitt Romney was emulating Bill Clinton circa 1992 when then-candidate Clinton sought shore up his center and right flanks by publicly dissing the outspoken black entertainer were dispelled when Romney appeared at a fundraiser to gloat about the hostile reception that he received at the hands of black people. He actually told this private gathering of a distinctly lighter hue than he encountered in Houston that he told the NAACP membership “if they wanted a president who was giving out “free stuff” he wasn’t their man”.

Of course, he never actually said anything about “free stuff” at the convention itself (unless he said it under his breath), but safe in the more comfortable environs of tasseled loafers and St. John dresses, he found his courage to speak plainly and from the heart – at least that part of his heart that isn’t sequestered in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland. And, emboldened by his surroundings, Magic Mitt revealed his thinking when it comes to matters of history, justice to say nothing of the role of government in creating a sane and fair society.

The insult uttered by Mitt Romney is truly off the charts. To begin with, the membership of the NAACP is largely educated and middle class and more likely to being paying more taxes on a percentage basis per capita than Mitt Romney and most of his Bain Capital alumni. For Magic Mitt to suggest that because they are black, the convention attendees were mostly interested in “free stuff” is outrageous. The mentality that gives rise to such a comment is born of the most racist and vicious stereotypes.

Moreover, Mitt Romney should be very careful when speaking to any black audience about “free stuff”. The historical reality is that black Americans are the descendants of people who gave over two centuries of free labor through slavery which played a major role in building the economic infrastructure of this country. Black Americans are the descendants of people who were economically disenfranchised during the post-Civil War Reconstruction. Black Americans are still on the wrong side of every economic disparity table in this country from wages to cost of living.

Mitt Romney should be real careful when speaking to any black audience about “free stuff”. The life expectancy for black males is substantially lower than that of their white male counterparts. As a result, millions of black males in this country work for three decades and more, paying into the Social Security system only to die before receiving little if any of the benefits to which they are entitled. Their white male counterparts end of with the “free stuff”.

And what is “free stuff” anyway? Would “free stuff” include food stamps, public housing and medical care? In the Mitt World would “free stuff” include loans for higher education, Head Start and job training?

Or would “free stuff” include the trillions of dollars of tax cuts that billionaires and millionaires have received this country during the past decade? Would “free stuff” include laws that entitle the wealthy to legally shield their wealth from taxation in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland? Or, would “free stuff” include the historically gigantic subsidies and tax relief given to the energy and agricultural industries?

It would seem that Mitt Romney believes that services that the government provides to feed and housing and educating its citizens is not derived from some societal obligation. “Free stuff” is so insulting and derisive that it is clear that Magic Mitt’s perception of social services is at odds with the basic social contract that created and sustained a country that provided him with the environment and opportunity to become a wealthy man.

Like too many wealthy residents of the right wing of the right wing, Mr. Romney believes that he has amassed a great fortune solely by reason of his brilliant self and nothing more. And he obviously thinks that anyone who has not tasted from the cup of success is undeserving of that success and also undeserving of any assistance or support.

It is a mean, nasty and self-centered vision of self and the world that Mitt Romney articulated with his “free stuff” comment. It might have been off the cuff, but it was from the heart.

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Weekend Edition – July 13, 2012

It’s Friday the thirteenth and just be glad that you don’t live in Florida or Texas where the governors of those states seem intent on a headlong race to the bottom. Meanwhile Mitt Romney went to the NAACP convention and managed to damn near get booed off the stage. But supposed that was his plan all along? And speaking of Magic Mitt, the more we learn about his secret business and money dealings, the less we know. And we sure won’t get any help from Magic Mitt.

Texas and Florida and the Race to the Bottom

A couple of weeks ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott took some time off from the ethnic cleansing of that state’s voting rolls to announce that Florida would “opt out” of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. That would mean that there are literally millions of Floridians who may not receive healthcare coverage or will be socked with bankrupting invoices should a catastrophic illness occur.

This would be the same Governor Scott who actually returned close to $2 billion in federal transportation money that was to be used to build a high speed rail system in Florida. Once again, if you live in Florida, you lose.

Not to be outdone, Governor Rick “Oops” Perry of Texas also announced that Texas would also opt out of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This is particularly bizarre given that Texas has the highest number of uninsured children in the entire country. But then again, bizarre is what Rick Perry does best.

Maya Angelou once said “if you listen long enough people will tell you who they are”. Rick Perry and Rick Scott are Teapublican darlings and they act in accordance with who they are and what their vision for this country would be if they could only seize full control.

Listen and learn.

Boo Mitt!

Mitt Romney spoke at the NAACP annual convention this week and pushed all the right buttons in his playbook. He announced that he would seek the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in his opening statements and managed to alienate even black Republicans by the time he was finished. Needless to say, his oration was met with multiple choruses of boos, hoots and catcalls.

Some commentators attributed this less than stellar performance by Magic Mitt as another sign of his being “tone deaf”. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may have gotten it right when she suggested that Mr. Romney intended to get booed.

On further thought, this might have been Mitt Romney’s “Sister Souljah” moment. Just as then candidate Bill Clinton thought that it was important to show that he could “stand up” to black people, Mitt Romney may have wanted to demonstrate to his Teapublican base that he could go into an entire arena full of black people and tell them what they needed to be told – whether they liked it or not.

This may not have exactly been an Academy Award winning performance. But it sure seems that Mitt got the job done.

Where in the World is Mitt’s Money?

During this past week Mitt Romney has continued to fend off questions about his millions that seem to be stashed all over the world, particularly in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. Where else? We don’t know and we won’t know because being secretive is just one more squirrelly aspect of the Teapublican presumptive presidential candidate.

Now we learn that Magic Mitt remained as CEO of Bain Capital two years after he has asserted he left to “rescue” the Winter Olympics. “Rescue” is in quotes because the Winter Olympics in Utah were only successful due to a huge infusion of federal dollars, something that Mr. Romney would most certainly oppose today.

At the end of the day it probably doesn’t matter if he was engaged in day to day decisions during the two years that he said he was already in his emeritus post-Bain phase. But Mitt Romney and the truth seem to have only a nodding acquaintance at best.

When it comes to Mitt Romney, what we don’t know may be more important than what we know.

Have a great weekend!

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In Search of Mitt’s Millions

Ever since he was elected president, we knew that Barack Obama’s reelection campaign would be different. We had no idea……from Sarah “Lock and Load” Palin to Rick “Oops” Perry to Herman “Pizza Man” Cain, the Teapublicans have emptied the barrel in an effort to find the ABO candidate, Anybody But Obama. And scraping the bottom of the barrel, the G.O.Tea Party presents us with Mitt “Etch and Sketch” Romney, a political weather vane with millions of dollars stashed around the world. Really?

There are so many bizarre aspects of Mitt Romney and his overseas accounts. We could start with the fact that this is the first time in memory that a person has run for president of the United States with multiple multi-million dollar accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Lord knows where else. While it is not illegal for Mr. Romney to put his money anyplace in the world, one would think that the American people would be a little uncomfortable with a president who hedges his bets on America by placing considerable sums of money abroad.

And before Teapublican zealots begin to foam at the mouth because someone is besmirching the sacred cause of capitalism, think of the furor that would have consumed whole sections of this country if it turned out that President and Michelle Obama had Swiss bank accounts. This would have been seen as absolute proof that Barack Obama was some kind of Muslim Manchurian Candidate and calls for impeachment would ring from sea to shining sea.

It is also worth considering what the world reaction would be to a United States president who kept untold millions of dollars in secret bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands (we just don’t know about the Isle of Man, Vanuatu and other havens for the tax averse, the secretive and the wealthy individuals who are obsessed with amassing great wealth and then hiding it). It may be perfectly legal but appearances mean something too.

It is doubtful that Angela Merkel of Germany and Vladimir Putin of Russia have Swiss bank accounts. We do know that former Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha had Swiss bank accounts. We do know that Congolese president for life Mobutu Sese Seko had Swiss bank accounts. We can safely assume that former Liberian president, Charles Taylor (recently convicted of war crimes), had a Swiss bank account.

Other heads of state that have had Swiss bank accounts would include Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Juan Peron of Argentina and Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic. This would be truly strange company for the president of the United States to be keeping.

Mr. Romney and his cast of defenders and apologists will point out that all of his financial dealings are “perfectly legal” and indeed they may well be. But it is fair to wonder if the code of conduct for the president of the United States should simply entail his/her staying within the boundaries of the law pursuant to the advice of well-compensated lawyers who specialize in taking clients right up the line of legality.

There is no compelling reason for Mitt Romney and his wife to have millions of dollars deposited in accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands except to avoid tax consequences. Certainly Mr. Romney cannot be worried about the safety and security of American banks.

Mitt Romney has been quoted as saying that he pays all the taxes that he is required to pay “and not a penny more”. That doesn’t sound like the patriotic attitude that built this country, it sounds like someone who wants to get the benefits of living in the United States on the cheap.

And it is also worth asking what, if anything, is Mitt Romney doing with his great wealth aside from building more mansions than he can ever need and two Cadillacs for his wife? After all, he has claimed that wealthy people are the “job creators” of this country. But we have yet to learn of firms or businesses or start up ventures in which he has invested his personal wealth. It doesn’t seem like he has been pushing the job creation button for quite awhile, if he ever did.

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice once said “taxes are the price that we pay for a civilized society”. Clearly Mr. Romney either wants the discount version of civilization for you and for me or he just wants you and me to pay for it – not him and his family.

Remember November 6th!

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Weekend Edition – July 6, 2012

This past week wasn’t the best week for Mitt Romney and there may be more weeks like this to come. At least he has his jet ski to keep him warm. Meanwhile, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal seems to have discovered that Mitt Romney may not be such a great alternative to Barack Obama, even as they seethe at the very mention of the president’s name. And, speaking of President Obama, it would seem that Teapublicans can only blame him when things go wrong as they remain silent when anything positive happens on his watch.

The World According to Mitt

Soon after the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision a key aide to Mitt Romney declared that the penalty aspect of the individual mandate was not a tax. Then the Romney campaign confirmed that the penalty was not a tax. True to form, after a firestorm of criticism from the right wing of the right wing, Mr. Romney declared that the penalty was indeed a tax and that the health care mandate penalty in Massachusetts that was instituted when he was governor was not a tax.

His flipping and flopping is sounding very familiar. We all remember John Kerry being for the war in Iraq until he was against it, don’t we? The Republicans `changed his mind.

Mitt Romney never admits to changing his mind. He twists and churns and parses his words like a contortionist in some sideshow circus act. He seems to hope that we will forget what he said before, even if “before” was yesterday, and only remember what he is saying now.

Fat chance Mitt!

Mitt According to the Wall Street Journal

On the day after the Fourth of July the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal had a minor tantrum and took it out on Mitt Romney. His flipping and flopping and general campaign incompetence has outraged the WSJ editorial board mostly because he is making more and more Teapublicans that the reelection of President Obama is actually possible.

Mitt Romney had another John Kerry moment during the recent holiday. He was photographed riding his personal jet ski past his multimillion dollar lakeside summer home (one of his many homes) thereby bringing back images of Senator Kerry windsurfing just eight short years ago.

His Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous moment was followed by a revival of information regarding the actual wealth of the presumptive Teapublican Party candidate. We have been informed again that a significant amount of his wealth (that is his money) is located in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and possibly Saturn.

It is one thing for American voters to elect a fabulously wealthy man. John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt were certainly wealthy individuals who became notable presidents. But it is quite another thing for the president of the United States to sequester his money overseas.

That is usually a move reserved for African despots and South American dictators.

Obama Did It!

The Teapublicans have held up the image of Barack Obama as some sort of eternal piñata, to be whacked and smacked on any and every occasion. If anything bad occurs, it has to be the fault of President Obama. The rise in gasoline prices a few months ago is a perfect illustration of this phenomenon.

As gasoline prices went up Mitt Romney and his Teapublican puppeteers roared and hooted and howled that this was proof of the ineffective and weak leadership of Barack Obama. And then gasoline prices went down for over twenty days in a row and all we have heard are the crickets chirping and the wind blowing over America’s fruited plain.

One has to wonder how long this one trick pony can ride.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

The Stopped Clock Theory Rides Again!

The affirmation of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is as important for what it is not as for what it is. It is certainly a momentous decision as it grudgingly moves the United States into the 21st century when it comes to providing healthcare to its citizens. National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius absolutely upheld one of the cornerstone accomplishments of the Obama Administration and this decision will reverberate through this country. But it is also important to understand what the decision is not.

First of all, it is not a courageous episode in the career of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts. Justice Roberts is the very real architect behind the Citizens United decision which has so seriously damaged democracy in this country. He may be a lot of things, but don’t get ready to put his story in the updated edition of “Profiles in Courage”.

Conservatives and the right wing of the right wing may be gathering feathers and boiling tar for Justice Roberts, but all that he did was what he said he was going to do. He interpreted the Constitution of the United States as it was written and did not try to engage in contortions to get it to support his own political point of view.

There is no logical or constitutional support for ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. That the right wing cabal of AlitoScaliaThomas, joined this time by Justice Kennedy, sought to overturn this historic legislation is a testament to their blind partisanship and once more reveals the poverty of their jurisprudence.

Justice Roberts did lead the support of the Affordable Care Act and he should be applauded for doing his job. But, by ruling that the Act is supported by the right of the government to tax and not by the commerce clause of the constitution, he has thrown into question over a century of American judicial decisions who have determined that the power of the federal government to address national needs can be based upon that very same commerce clause.

Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare and many other federal programs have been ruled constitutional by reason of the commerce clause. We now have to wonder if battles that have been fought and won so long ago will return to fields of combat because of the poison pill that Justice Roberts inserted into his decision.

The recent Supreme Court decision also did not settle the issue of health care in the United States for all time. While it is true that many initiatives articulated in the Affordable Care Act will continue to move forward – insuring coverage for persons with pre-existing illnesses and allowing parents to continue coverage for their children until the age of 26 are items that come immediately to mind – there should be no doubt that the right wing of the right wing will not go away quietly on this one.

Consider that the Supreme Court decision permits states to opt out of this national program. And, by opting out, they guarantee that millions of Americans, mostly working poor, will either be uninsured or underinsured when it comes to health care. Why the Teapublicans feel that it is so important to institutionalize misery for Americans in the name of patriotism is one of the great mysteries of the 21st century.

Indeed, the battle lines have been drawn for November 6th, and it is clear that electing Mitt Romney will signal the beginning of a titanic battle with no less than the health and welfare of the American people at stake. And, make no mistake about it; the reelection of Barack Obama will not end this battle, as the Teapublicans have stated that their mission is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act no matter how many millions of American lives are saved.

As Election Day grows closer with every sunrise, it would be useful to consider why it is that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is virtually a blood oath for the right wing of the right wing. If the concern is that there are aspect of the Act that should be improved or corrected, there is a legislative process that will permit such reform.

But Speaker of the House John Boehner has promised to pull up the Affordable Care Act “by its roots” and it would seem that the real fault of the Act is that it has originated with the Obama Administration. The most contentious element, the individual mandate, was originally proposed by the highly conservative Heritage Foundation. As the Republican governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney endorsed the individual mandate as an important definition of individual responsibility.

But, because the name “Obama” is associated with the Affordable Care Act, the Teapublicans are willing to sacrifice the health and welfare of the American people.

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