Point of View Columns

Requiem for Sarah Palin

Last week it was announced that Fox News would not be renewing Sarah Palin’s contract with the network. Losing her position as a regular on television is just more evidence that the Ms. Palin’s star has lost whatever luster it ever had. But the departure of Sarah Palin is also further evidence that Fox News is just another entertainment network and not a serious source of news.

When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008 he accomplished several things. First, he demonstrated an awesome disregard for the United States and its citizens by choosing a person who would almost certainly have been the most unqualified Vice President in recent history (although Dan Quayle would have to rank a close second). But John McCain also placed Sarah Palin in the spotlight and gave her a platform for her to advance her own personal career.

From the moment that she claimed that she could see Russia from her kitchen window it was clear that Sarah Palin was not a person to be taken seriously. Her capacity for mangling facts and the English language became the stuff of legend. And there is no doubt that her position on the Republican ticket helped Barack Obama become the 45th President of the United States.

But out of the ashes of defeat, Sarah Palin rose phoenix-like and became a star – a celebrity who was famous for being……………famous. That any group would pay $50,000 – $$100,000 to hear Sarah Palin speak speaks to the power of 21st century celebrity and to the fact that it really didn’t matter whether Sarah Palin had anything of importance to say. It was simply enough that she was a celebrity.

Clearly this was the calculus that Fox News employed in signing Sarah Palin to a $1 million per year contract three years ago. Sarah Palin has no known expertise on any subject except self-promotion. Certainly the occupants of the executive suite at Fox News knew that, but then Fox News is a news network in name only. It is, in fact, a reality show just like “American Idol”, “Real Housewives of Wherever” and “Celebrity Chefs”, except that this reality show takes place in a set made to look like it is part of a news network.

Fox News buys celebrities and doesn’t care whether there facts and truth are part of the script. The fact that it broadcasts opinions that slake the thirst of their parched right wing of the right wing viewers is not the point. What is the point is that rarely are those opinions even in the vicinity of facts and, in many instances untruths, distortions and outright lies are the menu du jour at Fox News.

Election Day 2012 was the final illustration that Fox News is not a news network. Even before the polls closed their cast of commentators did everything but sacrifice a fatted calf to support their hopes and prayers that the Muslim Kenyan communist fascist anti-Christ would be defeated. They defied facts, they ignored statistics and staked their hopes on their belief that somehow, someway, Mitt Romney would deliver them from four more years of Barack Hussein Obama.

Even when the Fox News statisticians and pollsters decisively proclaimed President Obama re-elected, their commentators refused to leave their state of denial. The only thing that they didn’t do was click their heels in the hope that they might return to Kansas.

It is for all these reasons and more that it seems unfair that Fox News in effect fired Sarah Palin. She has never pretended to be anything more than a headline seeking, spotlight searching promoter of the one cause in which she believes with all her heart – Sarah Palin. And in that regard she has not changed.

I can’t help but think that Sarah Palin’s decline accelerated when she got carried away with her “lock and load” rhetoric and then put a gun sight target on the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on her own website – and then the Tucson Massacre happened. Many people have thought that Sarah Palin had blood on her hands after that and she never had planned to play the role of Lady Macbeth.

But clearly, as her popularity has declined, she no longer is an asset to Fox News. She used Fox News to promote her newfound celebrity, and Fox News used her to boost its ratings. Now Fox News has no more use for a fading star on her way to the land of miscellany and trivia. Soon she will be a Jeopardy answer, if she’s lucky.

Fox News has no more use for Sarah Palin and neither does this country.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 28, 2013

In the aftermath of President Obama’s second inauguration Cornel West just had to have something negative to say. If nothing else and I mean nothing else, Dr. West is consistent. Meanwhile, it appears that the NAACP is supporting the soda industry battle against banning/limiting the sale of sugary drinks – seems like the NAACP leadership is trying to end up with fewer members. Meanwhile, the war on women continues unabated – bans against abortion even in the instance of rape are getting serious legislative consideration in
various state legislatures. What is with these people?

Ya doesn’t have to go Home….

The cheering for President Obama’s inaugural speech when presumably Cornel West realized that the crowd was not cheering for him. Perhaps that explains his petulant and spectacularly juvenile criticism of Barack Obama using a Bible that belonged to Martin Luther King when he took his oath of office.

I am guessing that at some point Cornel West fell on his head and when he awakened he thought that he was appointed the Judge of All Things Black. By all accounts the King family thought that using Dr. King’s Bible was an honorable gesture and the historic and spiritual symbolism of President Obama using that Bible for his oath was undeniable – except on the Planet Cornel.

When I was in Dublin years ago I once heard a bartender say at closing time, “Ya doesn’t have to go home, ya just got to go.” Certainly it is time for Cornel West to heed that advice.

Do You Want Fries With That?

It has been reported that the NAACP is joining soda manufacturers in opposing the ban/limitation on the sale of sugary drinks claiming that any such legislation would hurt minority small business owners. Is it remotely possible that corporate contributions from sugary drink manufacturers played some role in this counterintuitive action on the part of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization?

After all, obesity, diabetes and other maladies that are directly attributable to the constant ingestion of sugary drinks run rampant in the national black community. Black people are literally killing themselves with poor diet and poor health habits. Drinking sodas and sugary drinks by the barrel is just one more way to die for too many black men, women and children.

For the NAACP to claim that they are acting on behalf of minority small business owners is disingenuous and transparently untrue. While many minority small business owners are part of an embattled sector of the American economy, it makes no sense to suggest that these business owners will prosper by participating in the degradation of the health of their customer base.

It would be a lot more honest for the NAACP to simply claim that they are acting at the behest of their corporate sponsors because the price was right.

The War on Women

Lost in the announcement that the Pentagon will begin a process whereby women will be allowed in frontline combat is the fact that the war on women continues unabated. There are currently state legislative proposals calling for prosecuting rape victims who have an abortion for “destroying evidence”. There are numerous state legislatures who are committed to preventing women from having access to any kind of an abortion for any kind of reason and humiliating and shaming those who do.

What makes this war on women all the more treacherous is that nowhere has there been seen legislative action to assist mothers and their children with respect to housing, education or general quality of life. In this war, pregnancy and childbirth are weapons to be used against the enemy.

And the enemy is women.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

“We are made for this moment”

Inauguration Day 2013 was a special day as Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office for a second time. The first time was for history, this time it was for legacy. President Obama spoke to the heavens and shook the earth with eloquence rarely heard in Washington, or anywhere else. It was also a special day for the millions of men and women who invested their hopes and dreams in change in the face of fierce opposition. And, having come to Washington for the great March in 1963, I was privileged to return fifty years later this time with my son.

Perhaps because he came to the national limelight through his outstanding oratory, Barack Obama is always competing with his own reputation, constantly being compared to his last great speech. But after six years of soaring oratory, perhaps it is time to appreciate the man for his power to move while conveying thoughts and concepts and emotions.

Certainly his second inaugural address to the nation took all who would listen to the peaks of imagination and the mountain tops of greater vision. He not only appealed to the common sense notion that a community or a nation is only as great as its individuals. He obliterated the concept of rugged individualism in society, revealing it for the fantasy ideal that it is.

He did not shy away from the reality of the challenges that face this country. But he reminded everyone that the history of this country is full of challenges that served as opportunities for greatness as they were overcome. And that is why, President Obama said, “we were made for this moment….”

The last applause had barely finished echoing through the concrete canyons of the capital before the Teapublican sock puppets raced to the microphones to declare that President Obama had not said anything new. And, in a new twist, it was said that by encouraging a sense of community in this country President Obama was a “communalist”, another sobriquet to be added to “communist”, “fascist” and “Kenyan Manchurian candidate”.

The truth is that while Obama was speaking to the entire nation, his words were intended for those who would listen. Certainly the right wing of the right wing was encouraged to stop clinging to their imaginary past and to stride into the future. But the truth is that President Obama’s words were for those who wanted to listen, who wanted to believe in the future and who did believe in tomorrow.

And while I was in Washington I had the opportunity to attend a private celebration of Organizing for Obama volunteers. There were no celebrities or seekers of headlines, only men and women who acted on their belief that tomorrow could belong to their dreams, but only if they tried.

These were some of the millions of Obama supporters who made calls, knocked on doors and made November 6, 2012 a day that will shine in the annals of history. And as I listened to these men and women I understood once more why Barack Obama won because these people were not organizing “against” Mitt Romney or the Teapublicans. Rather, they were organizing “for” the ideals in which they believed – freedom, opportunity, compassion and the recognition of the dignity that all men and women own as their birthright.

The Romney campaign and the opposition to President Obama were covered with vitriol, negativity and hate. These are elements that will motivate people, history tells us that. But vitriol, negativity and hate will not sustain a movement and will always be on the losing side of history – November 6, 2012 proved that.

And finally, in August of 1963 at the age of thirteen, my parents put me on an NAACP bus in Englewood, New Jersey and I went to the March on Washington – a moment in my personal
history that I can never forget.

On January 21, 2013 I attended inauguration of President Barack Obama with my son. It is still hard to believe that fifty years after the March on Washington I was able to attend the second inauguration of the first black President of the United States, and this time with my son. Truly there are blessings in this life.

We are made for this moment!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 18, 2013

Even though the Teapublican inmates are threatening to take over the Congressional asylum, I am still going to Washington for the second inauguration of Barack Obama because it will be history in the making – but the Teapublicans are still crazy. Meanwhile, in some kind of bizarre twist, we are about to witness a showdown on……………guns, where the winner or the loser will be us. And, speaking of lunatics, there are 187 Teapublicans who think that the victims of Hurricane Sandy don’t deserve federal assistance…….just because.

Not a Big Enough Asylum

On November 6, 2012 the Democrats actually picked up a few seats in the House of Representatives and several certifiable crazies like Todd (“legitimate rape”) Akins and Richard (“rape pregnancies are a gift from God”) Mourdock and Ben (“Obama is the worst president in history”) Quayle were sent home and hopefully to oblivion.

But there are more than enough Teapublicans to fill the crazy ward in the House. In just the first few days of the new Congress we have already seen bills introduced to do everything short of sending President Obama and his family to the moon (but stay tuned on that one).

Aside from over 180 Teapublicans voting to reject the fiscal cliff deal – thereby voting to send this country over the cliff – we are already hearing threats of impeachment hearings and an absolute embrace of the concept of this country defaulting on the national debt at the end of February.

A recent poll indicates that 64% of Republicans still believe that Barack Obama is hiding something about his youth. This means that the “birther” canard is alive and well and thriving in Republican circles. What is puzzling – and troubling – that there appear to be no sane, adult and reasonable Republicans willing to stand up and suggest that a lunatic strategy is actually no strategy?

At this rate the Republicans will go up on the shelf of history right next to the Whigs and the Know-Nothing Party.

The Showdown on Guns

In an historic moment, President Obama has signed 23 executive orders in an effort to truly address America’s gun addiction problem. It should be noted that he did not propose to take guns away from anyone. President Obama specifically reiterated the right of Americans to own guns legally. He also pointed out the rather logical notion that it is probably not a good idea for ex-felons or the insane to own guns.

In a predictable move the National Rifle Association attacked each and every proposal of the president. In a surprise move, the NRA even dragged the president’s daughters into the mud pit, claiming that their Secret Service protection was an indication of “elitism”, proving once again that there is simply no bottom in American politics.

Teapublicans like Senator Rand Paul accused President Obama of acting like a “king” for having the temerity to issue an executive order. He conveniently forgets that his right wing hero, Ronald Reagan, issued over 300 executive orders.

And now, we hear Teapublicans doing the Bull Connor/George Wallace/Strom Thurmond oldies routine threatening the “nullification” of President Obama’s executive orders.

Meanwhile, we are on schedule for over 11,000 Americans to die from gun violence this year.
The Teapublican/NRA response is to do nothing and let the blood flow.

The Sandy Aftermath

Earlier this week the United States House of Representatives passed a $50 billion relief bill to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy, most of whom live in New York and New Jersey. That is the good news.

The bad news is that over 180 Teapublican members of Congress voted against providing aid and assistance to their fellow Americans. This would be the same aid and assistance that was routinely provided to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, for example.

The regional, sectarian meanness of the Teapublicans is unworthy and shameful.
Unfortunately, due to the magic of gerrymandered engineering, we are going to be stuck with these Teapublicans for a while longer.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

In the Land of the Blind……

There is an old saying –“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. These days it seems that too many Americans are blindly following leaders with very limited vision when it comes to what is best for this country. Issues like the debt ceiling and gun control are currently elbowing for position on the front pages, but the more fundamental issue of where this country is going is worth examining too.

While it is absolutely possible for there to be intelligent, non-absolutist debate about gun control, it is very difficult to see how there can be any resolution to America’s gun addiction and predilection for using them to kill people as long as right wing political leaders and gun manufacturers maintain that there should be no limit on the ownership of weapons or even the type of weapons that should be owned by civilians.

It has been patently clear for years that the National Rifle Association is the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturing industry and the members of the NRA are just the lipstick on this particular pig. Yet millions of Americans have been persuaded that it is a critical, constitutionally-protected right to own entire arsenals of military weapons and that any control, scrutiny or limitations on this ownership is the first step towards tyranny that has not been seen in this country since the reign of King George III.

But for all of its posturing, the NRA is simply silent on the fact that 11,000 Americans die every year as the result of gun murder. The fact is that since the Newtown massacre last month over 600 Americans have been killed by guns and the chances are that someone else will have been killed by the time you finish reading this article.

This country’s passionate embrace of guns is encouraged and fueled by the right wing of the right wing even as their own constituents and their children are fall to gunfire. The logical extension of the right wing gun policy would have millions more Americans who will be better armed than most police officers and small nations – with no control, training and oversight. The imminent catastrophe can be seen even through the gun smoke.

Meanwhile, the debate over the debt ceiling has spilled over to the debate about how to assist the millions of Americans, primarily in New York and New Jersey, who have suffered greatly as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Incredibly, there are right wing G.O.Tea Party zealots seemingly without compassion or memory, who are opposing the levels of assistance that are requested as part of their opposition to increased spending.

In what can only be describing as hypocritical acrobatics, many of the congressmen opposing this aid come from places like California (earthquakes), Louisiana (hurricanes and floods), Texas (forest fires and tornadoes), Florida (hurricanes) and South Carolina (more hurricanes) that have received billions upon billions of federal assistance when calamities have hit their districts and communities.

It would appear that no one has told these members of Congress that the War Between the States ended in April of 1865. To engage in regional fiscal combat while American men, women and children are suffering is despicable and shameful. And everyone knows that when the next disaster inevitably hits Texas or Louisiana that the right wing zealots will somehow try to explain how the misery of their neighbors is different from that currently being endured in New York and New Jersey.

It is this kind of small-minded and myopic mindset that will doom this country in the near future unless the blind cease being led by the blinded. The right wing of the right wing mindset would never have financed the construction of the Hoover Dam or the Rural Electrification Act or the Tennessee Valley Authority, three projects that literally transformed the lives of tens of millions of Americans and truly brought this country into the 20th century.

The current G.O.Teapublican mindset would never have supported the G.I. Bill after World War II which empowered and enabled millions of veterans to go to college and create the modern American middle class. And the irony is that most, if not all of the Teapublican zealots can thank the federal programs just named for some aspect of the prosperity and comfort that they now enjoy and would deny to present and future Americans.

We continue to hope that the blind who are being led by the one-eyed blinded leaders on the right will open their eyes before it is too late.


Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 4, 2013

The New Year has begun full of hope and possibility. And then along comes the Fiscal Cliff and the Teapublicans confirming their infinite capacity to make fools of themselves. In New York City, Rudy Giuliani seems to think that he has some influence over New Yorkers – it must be New Yorkers with severe amnesia. And finally the latest employment figures show that economic growth is tepid. Could this possibly have anything to do with public perception of dysfunction and incompetence in Congress? But don’t believe that the blame should be allocated in a bipartisan fashion.

Ship of Fools

By January 2, 2013 the Congress finally passed a budget bill which meant that the United States would avoid the “fiscal cliff” that was put in place in August of 2011. The whole idea behind the “cliff” was that the severe consequences of “going over the cliff” would mean that Congress would act in a responsible fashion in budget negotiations with President Obama.

As fate would have it, President Obama and his budget proposals won a pretty resounding victory in November 2011. In point of fact 53% of participating voters endorsing the idea of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans while protecting and preserving the social service safety net that has safeguarded Americans for well over half a century. But the Teapublicans in the House simply refused to read the writing on the wall.

Even Republicans like Mitch McConnell in the Senate finally recognized the need to back away from the “cliff” and support a pretty even handed package. But not the G.O.Tea Party in the House – they actually seem to revel in the notion of wreaking financial disaster on the American people and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to vote for the compromise package.

And just for good measure, the crew of the Teapublican ship of fools went home without voting for disaster aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. It was a needlessly cruel and insensitive act which pretty much sums up the Teapublicans.

The Return of Rudy

A few weeks ago Joseph Lhota, the Executive Director of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) resigned his position, presumably to run for mayor of New York. Subsequent news reports indicate that Mr. Lhota, who served as a Deputy Mayor during the administration of Rudy Giuliani, was strongly encouraged by Mr. Giuliani to run with the promise of his full support.

While it is probably too late for Mr. Lhota to return to the MTA, someone should have told him that the myth of Rudy Giuliani has played to mixed reviews outside of New York. But in New York he is remembered as one of the most racially divisive mayors of New York since Vincent Impelliterri in the 1950’s.

Someone should have also reminded him that on September 10, 2011, then Mayor Giuliani was presiding over an administration that was mired in serial scandals. And that on that same day Rudy Giuliani was sleeping on the couch of friend after blowing up his marriage with careless and reckless personal behavior.

And if it wasn’t for the tragedy of 9/11 where Rudy Giuliani capitalized on undeserved praise for simply doing his job as mayor of the City of New York, he would just be an obscure “Jeopardy” question. Instead he is a wealthy man who has monetized the myth of his heroism and the real accomplishments of others.

Clearly someone told Mr. Lhota that a Giuliani endorsement would be helpful. If he runs he will learn the hard way that New Yorkers don’t forget so easily.

It’s Still the Economy Stupid!

In the aftermath of yet another episode of the Teapublican Krazy Klown Show, the latest economic figures are showing tepid job growth and an unemployment rate of 7.8%, up from 7.7% the previous month.

Every sane and knowledgeable observer of the American economy now realizes that the dysfunction in Congress is a major cause. Simply put, there is no telling what the Teapublican crazies in the Congress may do next.

And it is time to stop apportioning blame on a bipartisan basis. The progressive equivalent of the Teapublican rants might be a call for the nationalization of all major industries. There is nothing like that coming from the Democratic Party.

But the Teapublicans really want to dismantle the federal government, shred the social safety net and arm teachers, principals and students.

See the difference?

Have a great weekend!