Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 28, 2014

Seeming to respond to the Teapublican chicken hawks beating the drums of war, President Obama has announced that he will send $500 million of military aid to Syrian rebels. What could go wrong? Meanwhile, in Mississippi we had the opportunity to watch Teapublicans flip the script with Senator Thad Cochran trying to get black people to vote. And finally, House Speaker John Boehner has announced that he plans to sue President Obama for not upholding the laws of this country. Is this a flimsy and transparent prelude to impeachment?

The Bloody and Slippery Slope

President Obama now wants to inject a half billion dollars of weapons and military assistance into the churning and bloody swamp of sectarian violence known as Syria. He has stated that this aid will go to “moderate” rebels, whatever that is supposed to mean.

This is a movie that we have seen before. Then it was called assistance to the “freedom loving people” of Afghanistan who turned out to be the Taliban, al Qaeda and………..Osama bin Laden.

There are several outcomes and none of them good. The “moderate” rebels may turn out to be not so “moderate” and use their gift of weapons against Americans and American interests the next time some yahoo minister in America burns a Koran.

The “moderate” rebels may turn out to be stand-ins for al Qaeda and ISIS and the gift of arms will go directly to sworn enemies of the United States.

Or, the “moderate” rebels may turn out to be not such great fighters and will simply surrender their weapons or lose them in battle – weapons that will then be used against the United States.

Or, the targets of the “moderate” rebels will decide to attack the United States soldiers, personnel and interests wherever they can find them.

This move by the President seems to be a sign that the pressure from the Teapublican chicken hawks is finally getting to him, and that he feels it is necessary to “do something” in Syria. But this is wrong in conception, wrong in execution and fraught with fatal circumstances for this country. Senator Obama was elected to do better than this. President Obama was re-elected to do better than this.

Nothing good can possibly come from this move.

Mississippi Scam

Mississippi has always been the place where the dreams of black people go to die. During the horror of American racial slavery, Mississippi and Louisiana were the worst places for black people.

Since Emancipation, black people have been routinely and institutionally terrorized. The history of black people seeking to vote is written with the blood of martyrs.

This past week, the irony of Teapublican Senator Thad Cochran seeking the vote of black Mississippi citizens in order to eke out a primary win was ghastly and instructive. It is ghastly because Senator Cochran is a blatant hypocrite in seeking the vote of the black people of Mississippi. His record indicates absolutely nothing that the black people in Mississippi should support – except that he was slightly less racist than his opponent who accepted campaign donations from the Ku Klux Klan.

The instructive aspect of this horror show is that the black people of Mississippi have more power than they have exercised. With 37% of the registered voters in that misbegotten state being black, there is tremendous potential for change, reformation and progress.

Perhaps Thad Cochran’s chicanery can serve as a wakeup call for the black people of Mississippi.

Sneak Preview

House Speaker John Boehner has determined in his wisdom that he should further waste taxpayer dollars by suing President Obama for not faithfully carrying out the laws of the United States. His real, and thinly veiled, cause of action is that President Obama is not doing what Speaker Boehner and the Teapublicans want him to do.

Even though Barack Obama has won two national elections by significant margins, the Teapublicans will stop at nothing in their efforts to delegitimize this lawfully elected President of the United States.

Is this the prelude to an impeachment strategy in 2015? What do you think?

Stay strong and be great!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 27, 2013

Right now we are watching right wing terrorists hijacking Congress and doing their best “Thelma and Louise” imitation as the federal government hurtles towards yet another fiscal cliff. If you feel like you have seen this movie before – it is because you have. And, not satisfied with simply shutting down the federal government, the radical Teapublicans propose to also shut down the source of basic nutrition for millions of Americans. And finally, it wouldn’t be the New York City mayoral election without something bizarre and Joe Lhota and Adolfo Carrion are searching for Marxists and Leninists in Bill de Blasio’s closet as you read this column. Good luck guys!

Heading to the Cliff – Again

The Teapublican terrorists in Congress seem to wallow in the notion of holding the federal government and the American people as hostages while they demand that the majority of Americans kowtow to their distinctly minority agenda.

Having discovered that they can get the attachment of this country, and indeed the world, by throwing well-timed tantrums, a cabal of Teapublican members of Congress (who only represent about 18% of the American people, by the way) have managed to cause the credit rating of this country to be downgraded in 2011 and bringing about the sequestration debacle in 2013.

Now, in their continuing effort to abolish Obamacare – a law that has been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court and has been effectively approved by at least 53% of the American voters in 2012 – the Teapublican wing of Al Qaeda is now threatening to first shut down the federal government next week and, if they don’t get their way, they plan to have the United States government default on its trillions of dollars of debt.

And playing the role of Geppetto with these Teapublican puppets are the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires who plan to profit from the wreckage that their little Pinocchios will bring about.

It is about time to cut the puppet strings.

Let Them Eat………Nothing

If nothing else, the right wing of the right wing in Congress is consistent in its fanatical adoration of meanness. There are very few sane observers of the national landscape who do not recognize that hunger remains a serious problem in this country. Despite the terrible ravages of obesity – many Americans simply don’t have enough to eat in this Land of Plenty.

And it is against this backdrop that the Teapublican Terrorists have decided to demolish the food stamps program in the name of budget austerity. And somehow they have not seen the shameful nature of such a proposal – most recipients of food stamps are children and their mothers and the elderly. The myth of the able bodied man just chomping away on his food stamp funded steak dinner is just that – a myth.

And it appears the notion of compassion for those in need is becoming a myth in the halls of Congress.

Marxism in New York

As the New York City mayoral election moves into the final round, the three major candidates, Bill de Blasio, Joe Lhota and Adolfo Carrion have numerous major issues to address – income disparity, equity in law enforcement and affordable housing are a few of the many concerns. Since Mr. de Blasio is in the lead in all of the polls, it is reasonable that Mr. Lhota and Mr. Carrion have attacked him.

What is incomprehensible is that both Mr. Lhota and Mr. Carrion have spent an inordinate amount of time (that is any time) criticizing Mr. de Blasio because he and his wife went to Cuba for their honeymoon almost 20 years ago. And these Terrible Twins have gone on to express concern that Mr. de Blasio might have socialist or Marxist leanings.

Such a dog of an argument might hunt in Miami but this is New York City. And it is likely that most New Yorkers, if asked about Marx, would say “Groucho?” or “Harpo?” before believing that two mayoral candidates are seriously mentioning Karl in the middle of the campaign.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Point of View Columns

Pirates on the Potomac

The 9/11 terrorist attacks will be recalled this weekend, along with the death and pain and sacrifice that will forever be associated with that day. It is, therefore, more than a little ironic that after a decade of battling against terror we find the terrorists are safely encamped on Capitol Hill.

Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cohorts had declared war on the United States long before the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The 9/11 attacks were their most spectacular achievement, but the attacks were only part of a larger plan – to humble, cripple and ultimately destroy the United States. Their tools of destruction were exceedingly crude given their lofty goals – some hijacked planes, smuggled bombs and random assassinations.

In their most hate-infused dreams bin Laden and Al Qaeda could never have dreamed of wreaking the havoc that is now the calling card of the G.O.Tea Party. In early August Osama bin Laden must have been chortling from his watery grave at the bottom of the Indian Ocean as he watched the likes of Cantor, Bachmann, Palin, Paul and Boehner threaten to collapse the entire economy of the United States during the budget ceiling battle – endangering the global economy in the bargain.

Terrorists are known for taking hostages because they assume that their adversaries actually care for the hostages while they do not. The result of this lopsided equation is that terrorists refuse to negotiate while their adversaries work for a solution, all the time whittling away at their own position. Sound familiar?

During the entire debt ceiling “debate”, the G.O.Tea Party zealots refused to negotiate any aspect of their no-new-taxes mantra, arguing that the only budget balancing strategy that they would accept entailed cutting budgetary allocations that support the rapidly fraying social safety net in this country.

Although the debt ceiling has been raised 87 times since World War II, the Teapublicans used this fairly ordinary budget device as a dagger to be held to throat to the United States, threatening to sever the financial arteries that allow this economy to function.

That the ensuing damage to the American economy would be “on Obama’s watch” was all the justification that they needed for such irresponsible conduct. And President Obama, the reasonable adversary, did indeed negotiate with the terrorists that wore suits and ties and pearl necklaces, because he clearly cares for this country more than the G.O.Tea Party will ever do, their sanctimonious and self-serving pronouncements notwithstanding.

Having paraded a menagerie of madness before the world stage, it is no wonder that Standard & Poor’s lowered the credit rating of the United States for the first time in over 80 years. And it is no surprise that, having run through the financial china shop and created pure havoc, the G.O.Tea Party then trumpets the credit rating debacle as the fault of Obama for failing to show leadership. As noted before, the Teapublican story line is like that of the arsonist who blames the fire on the fireman.

Not satisfied with the heartless savaging of the economy and the brutalizing of the American budget, the G.O.Tea Party found new hostages at the end of the month of August. As a result of Hurricane Irene millions of Americans on the East Coast of the United States were seriously affected by storms, wind and floodwaters. Having worked in a community after a devastating flood I can attest to the misery, frustration and helplessness of the victims.

And these victims were perfect hostages for Congressman Eric Cantor who, sinking to a new low even for the G.O.Tea Party, announced that additional funding for the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) would only be approved by the House of Representatives if further budget cuts were instituted immediately.

Clearly Representative Cantor and his cohorts see misery as an opportunity and pain as a platform for their godforsaken agenda.

It is very clear that the spirit of heartlessness and selfishness which inspires the leadership of one of this country’s major parties is akin to the spirit of the pirates of another era and the terrorists of this era. Of course the pirates of long ago made no pretense of their mission – to get as much treasure as possible by being willing to kill or destroy anyone or anything that might be in their way.

Modern terrorists claim to be motivated by an ideal which can justify the most hideous of acts carried out in its name. The G.O.Tea Party terrorists lay claim to the high moral ground of reducing a governmental system that has produced a higher quality of life greater than that of any nation in the history of the planet. These same terrorists also have targeted the hope that sustains Americans who have not achieved that quality of life as yet.

As zealots, the Teapublicans have no hesitation or shame in targeting the weak, the sick, the poor, and the elderly — the defenseless in this society. In their immoral construct, the victims of a hurricane are perfect hostages to advance their goals. In their ultimate vision government will not take care of those who cannot take care of themselves and will not help those who want to help themselves.

These G.O.Terrorists are building a monument to pain and heartlessness, unless they are stopped.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 5, 2011

The dogs days of July have morphed into the lupine days of August – the wolves are out and no one is safe. Sarah Palin cries crocodile tears about being labeled a terrorist, but she IS a terrorist. Critics claim that Obama “surrendered” to the Tea Party loons in the immortal budget/deficit battle that will rage for years, but who’s got his back? And meanwhile, in case no one noticed, the economy of the planet is plunging like Icarus who dared to come to close to the sun…….whither Daedalus?

Sarah…You ARE a Terrorist

At some point during the autopsy of the godawful debt ceiling battle it was reported that, during a meeting between Vice President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats someone referred to the Tea Party kamikazes as “terrorists”. This created an artificial hue and cry from the right wing of the right wing wailing and bellowing that their patriotic bona fides were being impugned.

In keeping with the strict rules of the theater of the absurd, Sarah Palin popped up and claimed that Tea Party advocates and their running hounds in the Congress were simply patriotic Americans who were advocating the benefits of fiscal probity. And then, just to be sure that we understood how ridiculous she is, the former governor of Alaska stated that if the Tea Party advocates were domestic terrorists President Obama would be “palling around with us like he palled around with Bill Ayres”.

As it turns out Sarah Palin and the Tea Party maniacs employed classic terrorist tactics in holding the entire economy of the planet hostage while making outrageous demands to reduce the size of government and cut vital social services, all the while refusing to even consider increasing revenues by any means. Osama bin Laden must be laughing from his watery grave.

In his most virulent dreams bin Laden could never have imagined collapsing the entire American economy. Knocking down a few buildings and blowing up a few airplanes is child’s play compared to the damage that Sarah and the Tea Partiers have in mind for this country. Al Qaeda killed thousands, the bullet heads in Congress and their supporters threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions, if not billions throughout the world.

Clearly Sarah Palin is counting on the collective amnesia of the American public. But we should remember that it was Sarah “Lock and Load” Palin’s website that put rifle cross-hairs on the congressional district represented by Gabrielle Giffords who was, in turn, shot in the head. The fact that yet another gun-toting loon committed the deed does not absolve Sarah Palin of responsibility for creating an atmosphere and fomenting violent emotions where something like this can happen.

And finally, her snide remark about Bill Ayres requires some kind of response. Sarah Palin is either too young or too dumb to realize that during the 1960’s progressive activists were being shot and killed by National Guard troops in places like Kent State and South Carolina State Universities as well as being beaten and jailed by Chicago police during the Democratic Party convention.

Radical philosophies were freely debated and espoused but rarely was there any violence that remotely resembled “terrorism”. What we do know is today Bill Ayres is Executive Director of World Hunger Year – http://www.whyhunger.org – dedicating his life to feeding the hungry while Sarah Palin continues to stir the boiling cauldron of hate and irresponsibility.

So you see Sarah Palin, it is YOU who is the terrorist.

Who’s Got Obama’s Back?

The retrospective regarding the role of President Obama in the recent debt ceiling fiasco has been immediate and not very kind to the president. While some commentators have correctly pointed out that negotiating with terrorists disguised as members of Congress and the Senate is an almost impossible task and he got the best deal possible under the circumstances.

Others have pointed out that Barack Obama seemed to allow himself to be bullied by the Eric Cantors and John Boehners of the moment never threatening retribution but always being amenable to compromise. Once he made it clear that he would do anything to avoid the nation’s credit default he became impossibly vulnerable.
By taking the 14th Amendment option off the table in negotiations with the Republicans President Obama gave up the one weapon that he might have used, at least as a threat. His reason for doing so is that White House lawyers did not think that it was a viable tactic.

The argument could go on but the question still arises – where was support for Barack Obama during the negotiations? Where were the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and Nancy Pelosi? Where were Al Gore and Bill Clinton and the National Conference of Mayors? The NAACP and the National Urban League were having their annual conventions during this recent madness, where were the resolutions supporting the president and demands for him to use the 14th Amendment hammer?

As I wrote earlier this week, Barack Obama was like a guy in a chair fight where everybody had a chair but him. Not a great place to be.

Let’s hope that going forward we will see the same support that got Barack Obama into office resurface in order to keep him in office.

The Crash of ’11?

On August 4, 2011 the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted by over 500 points continuing a decline that has taken place over the past month. Analysts connect this indication of economic turmoil to market distress in Europe as well as the budget dysfunction in Washington. And this has happened without a default by the United States.

The G.O.Tea Party is masterful in denying reality. This would be the same party whose most vocal members claimed that a default would not adversely affect the American economy. I am guessing that they also believe in the Easter Bunny.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Time to Give Peace a Chance

This week President Obama is scheduled to present his timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. He is being consistent with statements made when he committed additional troops to that quagmire last year at which time a withdrawal schedule was promised.

As is the case when the military becomes involved with policy instead of being confined to strategic plans to achieve policy, there are voices within the Pentagon that are counseling against any significant reduction of troops in a country that has been called, for good reason, the Graveyard of Empires. Minimal troop withdrawal has been urged by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, among others, the argument being that a rapid withdrawal of troops would result in the evaporation of military “gains” that have been made during the past year.

Presumably these “gains” don’t include the continued pillaging of the Afghan treasury by the notoriously corrupt Karzai regime. These “gains” can’t possibly refer to the spectacular ineptitude of the Afghan military and security forces after almost a decade of American training and billions of dollars of aid. And these “gains” cannot refer to the continued reluctance of the Afghan government to bring its people into the 19th century, let alone the 21st century.

Of course I am referring to the thankless and endless task of nation building in a nation that clearly is resistant to the concept. The military reasons for invading Afghanistan are long gone. The Taliban, which was never a threat to American security, remains in Afghanistan and will continue to be a force in that country no matter how long American troops remain. Al Qaeda, to the extent it exists at all in Afghanistan is crippled, eviscerated and with the death of Osama bin Laden, decapitated.

If the reason for continuing to keep American troops in Afghanistan relates to nation building and the instilling of democratic values, American troops will remain for decades. If the reason to keep American troops in Afghanistan relates to American national security, then that mission is already accomplished and it is past time to withdraw from the bloody quicksand that has an endless appetite for American blood and treasure.

Of course the political ramifications of President Obama’s Afghanistan policy are never too far from center stage. The G.O.Tea Party clamors for smaller government and less involvement in foreign affairs, yet they also clamor for the continuation of the dance of death in Iraq and Afghanistan which has already gone on for a decade.

Meanwhile, the original supporters of the Obama candidacy were drawn to the incandescent flame of his quest for the presidency by his opposition to the war in Iraq and have been disheartened by his “doubling down” in Afghanistan. If there was ever a time for President Obama to demonstrate his continued kinship with Candidate Obama, it is now.

Billions of dollars are being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq every week. Every month American troops are killed, maimed and crippled by combat fatigue. While the advocates of war sit comfortably in their homes and Feng Shui designed offices, too many American troops as well as Afghan and Iraqi citizens are dying.

We watch the vitriol-laced charade of budget debates that are meant to disguise a drive to dismantle the entire federal apparatus that created modern society and all the while millions of dollars are lost daily like water poured onto the desert sand. And we have to wonder when common sense and logic will catch up to the madness and insanity that values war over peace and destruction over development.

When President Obama stands before the country this week he will have a unique opportunity to validate the change that his candidacy promised three impossibly long years ago. I am speaking not only about a change in the current American military policy in Afghanistan, and by extension Iraq. I believe that he has the opportunity to fundamentally change the nature of American policy when it comes to resolving international issues and concerns.

With the death of Osama bin Laden and the generally acknowledged demolition of the Al Qaeda apparatus in Afghanistan, there are no more military reasons for the United States to be there. There were never any military reasons for American troops to be in Iraq. And now would be the time to acknowledge the limits of military answers to international challenges by announcing the accelerated withdrawal of troops from these two theaters of death.

In the process of bringing peace and relief to hundreds of thousands of American families President Obama could establish the framework for introducing the war “savings” into the budget debate. This would, of course, require the G.O.Tea Party budget hawks to explain that the debate is not simply about dollars and cents but about fundamentally withdrawing the American government from protecting and developing the environment, educational resources, health care and the financial services industry.

There is a lot that President Obama can accomplish with this one speech. It is clearly time for him to seize the opportunity.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 27, 2011

This week we watched what’s left of the reputation of Arnold Schwarzenegger go up in flames while the alleged sexual predator Dominique Strauss-Kahn made bail and is holed up in Tribeca. Meanwhile, the Republican presidential derby is in such disarray that Sarah Palin is feeling the fire in her well-fed belly. As the killing of Osama bin Laden fades with each succeeding news cycle hope grows that expecting change in America’s Afghanistan war strategy makes more sense than waiting for The Rapture. And finally, we should take a minute to consider what caused the presidential candidacy of Mitch Daniels to be strangled at birth.

She’s Baaack!

Reams have been written about the lack of quality candidates in the G.O.Tea Party corral. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Doubting Donald Trump, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour or former Arkansas governor (and Fox News star) Mike Huckabee were certainly correct in assessing their chances of beating Barack Obama as being between slim and you’ve got to be kidding.

Still, it is amazing that the renegades and rogues are taking over the G.O.Tea Party asylum. Congressman Ron Paul who proposed abolishing the Federal Reserve Bank and just about everything else is a leading candidate. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who doesn’t have the good sense to be quiet so people only think that she is ignorant, is also a leading candidate. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is tied up in knots trying to explain his tawdry and hypocritical marital history while trying to be a “common man” with a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s. And he is a leading candidate.

And now, the grisly grizzly mom herself, Sarah Palin, has announced that she has that “fire in her belly” and is seriously considering running for president. Perhaps she is hoping that the American people will not recall her spectacularly self-centered flame out after the Tucson Massacre. Or she may think that the current crop of candidates has set the bar so low that she can sashay into the field and carry the G.O.Tea Party banner in an electoral contest with President Obama.

President Obama should be so lucky.

Are We There Yet?

The death of Osama bin Laden gave rise to much discussion regarding the meaning and import of his departure from the global stage. A key item that has been raised relates to the expectation in some circles that bin Laden’s death gives the Obama Administration the perfect opportunity to reconfigure its Afghanistan strategy, flipping the script, so to speak.

After all, a cogent argument can be made that al Qaeda has been definitely, and probably fatally, decapitated. The causus belli for the American presence in Afghanistan was to wipe out the al Qaeda base of operations that plotted the 9/11 attack on the United States. That mission has been accomplished.

Billions of dollars are being spent in Afghanistan every week while police, teachers and hospital workers are furloughed in the United States. Over $100 billion dollars will be spent in Afghanistan this year while programs ranging from Planned Parenthood to Head Start are being cut or put “on the table” of Republican budget chopping frenzy.

The loss of treasure and loss of life is insupportable. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al Qaeda is crippled. No American is safer in the United States because of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It is time.

Are we there yet?

The Tragedy of Mitch Daniels

Last week Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced that he would not be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. It will come as no surprise that I am not a great fan of Governor Daniels, yet I find the cause for his departure to be troubling and tragic.

News reports indicate that the reason for his presumptive departure from the race is that his marital history includes a story about him and his current wife divorcing and then remarrying 4 years later. In the interim Mrs. Daniels married another man and then divorced him to remarry Governor Daniels.

The fact that this entirely private and personal matter would have any impact on the presidential aspirations of anyone can be traced directly to the ravenous maw of the American press machine. Governor and Mrs. Daniels were quite correct in thinking that the media would focus on the marriage-divorce-remarriage story to the exclusion of anything else that Candidate Daniels might have to say.

Reporters and commentators would be frothing at the mouth while recounting every detail of this couple’s life together and apart. Not only is this wrong, the Daniels story is a teaching moment for anyone else who might seek public office.

Everyone has aspects of their private life that they would rather not be part of a CNN “Breaking News” story. And everyone has a right to that privacy, even candidates for public office.

There is not even a hint of illegal or even improper conduct associated with the Daniels’ story. It is just the story of a couple who are living their lives. And it is not the business of the press or the public to make these kinds of inquiries.

The departure of Mitch Daniels from the presidential race is a shameful commentary on the American press and the American public.

Finally, for the sake of all of us, Point of View has now been declared a Cornel-Free Zone.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 20, 2011

This week Cornel West proved that it is possible to be a fool and a hypocrite simultaneously; Congressman Peter King is out to prove once more that hind sight is 20/20 and Newt Gingrich may turn out to be more of a fool and a hypocrite than Cornel West. It has been quite a week.

The Shame of Cornel West

Cornel West has clearly decided to shed the shreds of credibility and integrity that used to attend his unkempt frame. It is more than shameful that Princeton Professor Cornel West decided to refer to President Obama as the “black mascot of Wall Street”.

Presumably the erstwhile rap video walk on has taught his students to marshal facts and present logical and coherent arguments in support of whatever point of view they might wish to express. No one would criticize Professor West for articulating serious policy concerns and considerations. But “black mascot”? C’mon Cornel!

Not being satisfied with a racist ad hominem attack, Dr. West had the temerity to opine as to the “blackness” of President Obama given the fact that his mother was white and he was raised for several years in Indonesia. Seeming to read directly from the birth playbook, he tried to argue that with a Kenyan father and a white American mother President Obama was not fully connected with the experience of black Americans.

Presumably Cornel West has in his possession a certification of his own blackness. I am not clear how teaching at Harvard and Princeton, institutions that have never been bastions of blackness, provide him with the credentials to judge the “blackness” of anyone.

More to the point, it is unconscionable for Cornel West to engage in a gutter-born, personal attack on President Obama that is such an obvious mime of the attacks of the birthers and Tea Party cohorts. Perhaps, in addition to his divinity degree he also has a degree in minstrelsy.

The fact that Barack Obama has not returned multiple phone calls from Cornel West is a testament to the good judgment of Barack Obama. The fact that he didn’t get prized inaugural tickets seems like a personal problem that should be filed along with his obvious need for hair care and an orthodontist.

Unfortunately, until now Cornel West has had sufficient stature and respect that his comments are listened to and circulated throughout this country. His stature now matches his diminutive frame. His respect has evanesced. That he would launch such personal and uncivil attacks on the first African American President of the United States is unworthy of the reputation that he used to have.

Wednesday Afternoon Quarterback

The death of Osama bin Laden has been seen as some as an opportunity for this country to move forward in dealing with terrorist threats to its security. “Some” does not include Congressman Peter King (R, NY) the chairman of the House Security Committee.

This past week he announced that he will be holding hearings on what transpired in the killing of bin Laden by U.S. military forces. It can be predicted that there will be more calls for the gruesome photographs of the dead leader of Al Qaeda. Certainly there will be a need for the Obama Administration to try to respond to detailed inquiries while avoiding security breaches – always a balancing act.

I have heard of Monday morning quarterbacks who have all of the bright ideas and second guesses the day after the game. Congressman King and his G.O.Tea Party cohorts seem to fall into the Wednesday afternoon quarterback category as the last game is so far in the past tense and right this very moment the Obama Administration is focused on putting another bull’s-eye on Saif al-Adel, the recently announced presumptive heir to Osama bin Laden.

Knowing that the Republicans are intent on second and third guessing President Obama will not scare al-Adel. Knowing that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress are focused on a tomorrow that may find him missing might give him pause.

Stupid Newt Tricks

Last week Newt Gingrich announced that he is running for president. This week he may have second thoughts.

He appeared on “Meet the Press” and clearly (and correctly) criticized the draconian Medicare reform plan of Congressman Paul Ryan as “right wing social engineering”. When the right wing of the right wing hollered like a stuck pig he recanted and stated that any use of “Meet the Press” quote would be a “falsehood” since he had now recanted. Clearly “I take it back” is a reasonable rhetorical tool on the Planet Newt.

Last week it was also disclosed that Newt Gingrich’s wife had an unpaid Tiffany’s bill of between $250,000 and $500,000. I would think it would be hard to attack the “Washington elite” while your wife is running up six figure tabs at Tiffany’s. Welcome to the real world Newt, I am sure that the residents of the Planet Newt will understand.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

The Death of Osama bin Laden

We can be sure that when he woke up this past Sunday, Osama bin Laden probably did not know that he had less than 24 hours to live. Of course, only the denizens of death row know the appointed time of their departure, but he had to know that he had been living on borrowed time ever since 9/11.

When President Obama announced that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday evening, the news was met with spontaneous demonstrations of joy and rejoicing throughout the country. The villain who had successfully plotted the deaths of thousands of Americans had received justice and everyone likes it when the good guys win every once in awhile.

I am hopeful that the death of Bin Laden and the manner in which he was killed will also occasion some thought and reflection after the celebration. We have to remember that during the ten years after the 9/11 debacle in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington billions of dollars and thousands and lives have been wasted on missteps and misinformation.

American troops went into Afghanistan with no clear mission other than to avenge 9/11 and in the process Bin Laden and many of his cohorts slithered away. And a decade later over 100,000 American troops are mired in the muck of a war in Afghanistan trying to do subdue or pacify a country and a people that have defied the best efforts of Alexander the Great, the Scythians, the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

During the past decade billions of dollars and thousands of lives were lost in Iraq pursuing the Great Lie of weapons of mass destruction foisted upon America and the world by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell. In the process of losing blood and treasure and capturing Saddam Hussein, a despot who seemed to prefer pornography to plots against the United States, Osama bin Laden continued to inspire plots against this country and its people.

With the death of Bin Laden it is time to revisit the policies that gave him a decade of borrowed time while wasting American lives and treasure. These policies assumed that traditional war strategies would work against an enemy that has no country, no standing army and no permanent base or location.

Bin Laden is not dead because of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He is dead because a strike team of less than 30 operatives killed him in Pakistan in less than forty minutes. There is a lesson to be learned from this.

Trying to attack Al Qaeda and its affiliates with huge commitments of troops and weapons is akin to trying to kill a mosquito with a shotgun. It is possible that the mosquito will eventually get hit but that strategy is guaranteed to cause untold collateral damage.

More focused and more surgical missions – missions with a purpose – make sense. More troops stationed in morass after morass does not make sense. And the death of Osama bin Laden gives President Obama an opportunity to flip the script.

President Obama can take this occasion to order a complete review and revision of U.S. military policy with the goal of withdrawing almost all military personnel from Afghanistan and Iraq. Remaining military operatives would be engaged in covert and discrete missions that have the clear purpose of capturing or killing individuals who are responsible for planning or committing acts of terrorism aimed at the United States.

The death of Bin Laden offers the perfect opportunity to quit the morass and walk on the solid ground of common sense. And the reward for returning to a sustainable reality will be saved lives, a healing economy and the first steps towards some sense of real national security.

Finally, it is interesting to note that on April 29th, at the time that the White House was releasing President Obama’s birth certificate to quell the braying of Lilliputians like Trump and Palin, President Obama was giving the final order to kill Osama bin Laden. Clearly he can walk and chew gum at the same time.

The events of the past few days offer a pure and clear contrast. There is President Obama focused on critical global and domestic issues, from the killing of Osama bin Laden to ordering federal aid to tornado victims in Alabama. And then there is Doubting Donald, the hustling huckster, working himself into frenzy over birth certificates and college transcripts, as if anything he might say was of any value or import.

The death of Osama bin Laden accomplished a lot.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 22, 2011

Easter and Passover are being observed as this week comes to an end. We also observe that John McCain is in Libya calling the anti-Gaddafi rebels his “heroes”. Really? A great circus movie, “Water for Elephants” opens this weekend but it is being eclipsed by the Republican circus featuring clowns for candidates. And by the time you finish reading this column the price of gasoline will have been raised again. Just another week on the Planet Earth.

Send in the Clowns (Part I)

There has been tremendous pressure on the Obama Administration to do more to support the rebels who are waging a war against Muammar Gaddafi that is not going well for them. Clearly, in response to this pressure a decision has been made to send in the clowns.

That can be the only explanation for the sudden appearance of Senator John McCain. He landed in Libya earlier today and immediately announced that the insurgents were his “heroes”.

One wonders if his dimming memory recalls American support of the mujahedeen in their battle in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. They were also the “heroes” of inveterate jingoists like John McCain.

Of course, these “heroes” morphed into the Taliban (who are killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan) and Al Qaeda (which is responsible for 9/11 amongst countless terrorist incursions around the world).

The Libyan rebels may be noble Washingtonians and Jeffersonians for all we know. Or they could be the spiritual cousins of Osama bin Laden. The point is we just don’t know. And John McCain certainly doesn’t know.

This might not be the best time for the United States to get entangled in another alliance that leaves bite marks on its posterior.

Send in the Clowns (Part II)

It is safe to assume that the Republican Party will run a candidate for President in 2012. It is also safe to assume that the right wing of the right wing and the G.O.Tea Party element of the Republican cohorts will ensure that this candidate will be against healthcare, environmental protection, taxes and abortion. What this candidate will be for is open to speculation.

In looking at the array of potential candidates it would seem that the greatest danger facing Barack Obama is complacency and overconfidence. Donald Trump swears that he would make a great Chief Executive. But The Donald may have to contend with the hundreds of not so silent contractors who built his New Jersey casinos and never got paid and the thousands of sullen holders of bonds in various Trump enterprises who lost every penny in the multiple Trump bankruptcies during the past two decades.

Sarah Palin is probably eternally discredited after her misbegotten star turn in the Tucson Massacre aftermath and Mitt Romney is without a political (or moral) compass and cannot recant his Mormon religion, thereby disqualifying himself in the eyes of the powerful Christian evangelical sector of the right wing of the right wing.

Only Michelle Bachman takes Michelle Bachman seriously and Herman Cain has yet to demonstrate how being the CEO of a chain of pizza shops qualifies him to be President of the United States.

There are other would be aspirants – they remind me of the circus car with an endless number of clowns exiting the doors of what appears to be a compact. The G.O.Tea Party has clearly taken on the challenge of entertaining the America public instead of challenging the American public with new ideas and emergent policies.

Gas Pains

As you read this column the price of gasoline is going over $4.00 per gallon across the country. Republicans, pundits and ordinary citizens have joined in a chorus to demand that President Obama “do something” about these rising fuel prices.

In response he has directed Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate any instances of fraud, collusion, speculation or price-fixing. That pretty much describes day to day operations in the oil industry.

Of course, when President Obama has proposed sustainable energy alternatives and conservation strategies he has been opposed by many of the same Republicans, pundits and ordinary citizens that now want him to “do something”.

Perhaps magic is what they have in mind.

Have a great weekend!