Point of View Columns

What Didn’t Happen on Election Day

For supporters of Barack Obama 11.6.12 was a good and great day. That Barack Obama was elected president for a second term was truly historic. He became on the 7th president in history to win two terms by more than 50% and the first since Franklin Roosevelt. November 6th was also the day that Mitt Romney lost giving Ann Romney much needed time to attend to her dressage horses. And Alan West lost meaning that he will probably be joining the cast of chuckleheads at Fox News real soon. But what didn’t happen on Election Day is also very important.

It is now almost a given that a defeated and chastened Republican Party will recognize that it is time for a new and more inclusive attitude. We have been led to believe that rising phoenix-like out of the ashes of defeat that the Republican Party, with leaders like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Nicky Haley, will build a bigger tent while muzzling the Neanderthals and misogynists who seem to lurk in every Teapublican gathering.

What sounds like wishful thinking also ignores the history of the Republican Party over the past fifty years. Until 1960 the legacy of Lincoln and the presence of influential progressives combined with the vicious racism of Southern Democrats resulted in significant support of the Republican Party by black Americans. Indeed, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon pretty much split the black vote down the middle in their historic confrontation in 1960.

In 1964 Barry Goldwater secured the Republican nomination for president and part of his personal platform was opposition to the Civil Rights Act. In 1968 Richard Nixon was elected as the Republican nominee for president his success due in large part to his pursuit of a “Southern Strategy”. Put simply, this “strategy” entailed attracting disaffected southern white men who hated the notion of civil rights, minority rights, inclusion and racial and gender equality.

Since 1968 the Republicans have had a pretty good run winning every presidential election but one from 1968 to 1992. Over that time the Republican Party has turned black Republicans into a rare and exotic species and has become the haven for refined racism, the Radical Right, neoconservatives and evangelical zealots.

However, since 1992 the electoral scoreboard is a little more evenhanded. Democrats have four of the last six presidential elections and right now their prospects for 2016 are fuzzy at best. On 11.6.12 Barack Obama won 93% of the black vote, 55% of the female vote and 73% of the Latino vote. National demographics don’t paint a pretty picture for the Republicans going forward.

But one should never underestimate the passion of zealots. The right wing of the right wing has been embedding itself into American politics for almost fifty years. The sting of losing the White House – again – is softened by the fact that the Republican Party still controls the House of Representatives by a sizable margin and the Senate is still not filibuster proof. There are currently 29 Republican governors in the United States and the serpent that is the right wing of the right wing remains coiled around state legislatures from coast to coast.

And it should be noted that at the state and local level the right wing of the right wing is much more strident, virulent and radical than anything that we may have heard from the likes of Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. And at the state and local level of government we are seeing legislative initiatives that will continue to restrict the reproductive rights of women, the rights of immigrants and access to everything from healthcare to civil rights.

What didn’t happen on 11.6.12 is that the right wing of the right wing of the Teapublican Party did not melt and disappear like the Wicked Witch of the West. A better analogy would be to liken the right wing of the right wing to Jason of “Halloween” movie fame who never seems to die.

On January 21, 2013 millions of Americans and millions more around the world will celebrate the second inauguration of Barack Obama. But it is more important than ever to realize and recognize that the right wing of the right wing may have lost the battle of 2012 but is more intent than ever on winning the war. The battle continues.

Point of View Columns

Romney is Running for King

There seems to be only one logical explanation for the continued arrogant refusal of Mitt Romney to release more than two years of tax returns – he is running for King of America not President. That would make sense. His stubborn and seemingly implacable stance in the face of over a half century of American presidential political tradition seems to indicate that in Romney’s world view, his future subjects need to get over it and get used to it. It would seem that his regal dismissal of inquiries into his finances is a preview of what would be an imperial and imperious Romney presidency.

In 1968 George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, voluntarily disclosed several years of his tax returns as he began his campaign for president. This established a tradition whereby every major candidate for president has disclosed a minimum of five years of tax returns – every Republican, every Democrat. Every candidate that is, except for Mitt Romney.

In 1974, after the resignation of Richard Nixon, President Gerald Ford appointed then New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller as vice president. Rockefeller, an heir to one of the greatest fortunes in American history was required to appear before a Congressional hearing to confirm his appointment.

As part of this process Rockefeller provided the people of the United States with not only his tax returns, he also provided an exhaustive set of financial statements. This information not only provided a clear picture of Nelson Rockefeller’s financial holdings and interests, it also provided unprecedented insight into the fortunes of the entire Rockefeller family.

No one ever mistook Nelson Rockefeller for being a populist, but he clearly recognized the need for the citizens of the United States to be clear on the financial interests and holdings of a person who would be a heartbeat away from the presidency. The comprehensive nature of his disclosures made it clear that he felt that he had nothing to hide and that his wealth and success did not need to be shrouded in secrecy and denial, hidden behind stonewalls. Clearly Mitt Romney thinks differently.

Incredibly, Mitt Romney has determined that tradition and common sense have no application in his personal universe. The close to half century tradition of presidential candidates disclosing their tax returns does not apply to Mitt Romney according to Mitt Romney. The common sense notion that anyone who is going to have responsibility for almost a third of a billion people and a multi-trillion dollar budget should let people know where his/her financial interest lie does not apply to Mitt Romney according to Mitt Romney.

We already know that Mitt Romney is a rich man. He touts his financial success as a badge of honor and flaunts his wealth with his many mansions and expensive toys and dancing horses. We already know that Mitt Romney has sequestered significant wealth in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. None of this public information indicates illegality, so interested observers, like the American people have to be wondering what is he trying to hide?

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann have planted their feet in cement on this issue. Mrs. Romney has been quoted as saying that “the American people already know everything that they need to know” when it comes to the finances of the Romney family. At least she didn’t suggest that the American people eat cake.

Despite the fact that senior members of the Republican Party have implored him to disclose his tax returns, he refuses to do so. He is so welded to secrecy that his actions seem suspicious to say the least. If he is wealthier than presumed, could he be richer than a Rockefeller? How much money could he possibly have in Swiss and Cayman accounts? And what about the Isle of Man and Vanuatu accounts?

And then there is the matter of hypocrisy. When he was being considered by John McCain for the vice presidential nomination in 2008, Mitt Romney reportedly turned over 23 years of tax returns to the McCain campaign. Clearly he believes that the American people are not entitled to a similar level of information.

To take hypocrisy to even higher levels, when vetting Paul Ryan for the vice presidential nomination, the Romney campaign requested and received several years of Ryan’s tax returns. Clearly the American people are not entitled to the same level of information.

Every American citizen has a right to privacy. However, a man or a woman who decides to run for President of the United States must, of necessity, forego much of that privacy it goes with the territory of presuming to be the Chief Executive of the United States.

Mitt Romney doesn’t have to disclose his tax returns. He also doesn’t have to be president.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 31, 2012

When Ann Romney reminisces about going through hard times with Mitt, she recalls how, as a young married couple, they faced a financial decision which almost made them dip into their stock portfolio. A real down to earth couple, but only on the Planet Privilege. Meanwhile, Teapublican stalking horse Paul Ryan reminds us that “words matter”, and for once we should listen to him. And finally, as the Teapublican convention ends they will remind us that “they built it” from a Tampa convention center 62% financed with federal dollars. Their hypocrisy is stunning for its unfailing consistency.

I Loves You Mitt

Ann Romney has trained enough of her dressage horses to prance on command so she had no trouble being summoned to the Teapublican Party stage to proclaim that she loved her “Mitt”. While her ode to a man who “loves to fire people” was touching, it is fair to ask whether she accomplished her mission of humanizing Mitt Romney.

It is a near impossible task to humanize a person who does more than a passable imitation of an automaton. Mrs. Romney tried her best but it is fair to ask whether a person who lives in multiple mansions with millions stashed in Swiss and Cayman bank accounts and who also has cadres of servants and caretakers is really the right person to convince the American people that Mitt Romney is a down to earth kind of guy?

Just asking?

Ryan Unplugged

Paul Ryan, in preparing his Teapublican convention speech has proclaimed that “words matter”. We should probably take him at his word – and not only the words in his speech.

The words in his proposed budget, passed twice by the Teapublicans in the House of Representatives, calls for the virtual elimination of all federal programs outside of defense, Medicaid and Social Security over the next twenty years. Those words would result in a shredded social safety net, a crumbled infrastructure and income inequity typically seen in so-called banana republics.

We can only hope that voters take seriously the words of a man who hopes to be a heartbeat away from the presidency by January 2013.

We Didn’t Build It?

When President Obama underlined the fact that no company, large or small, was built solely by the owners (due to the existence of the extensive governmental and societal infrastructure of this country) by saying “You Didn’t Build That”, we were assaulted by the caterwauls of so-called independent Teapublicans who built their businesses on their own.

The fact that few businesses could exist without the transportation and education systems in this country along with the rule of law which allows commerce to take place has been lost on those who would attack the president just for saying “good morning”.

So it was more than a bit ironic that the Teapublican convention, full of delegates and supporters who have proclaimed their independence of and from any kind of government assistance, held their convention in an arena in Tampa that was 62% by federal funds.

As usual the Teapublicans ignore facts that would make their so-called truths inconvenient.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

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!