Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 21, 2012

Trying to peer through the clouds of gun smoke that is hovering over this country it is very easy to lose sight of the tragic and cruel treatment to which Susan Rice was subjected. Meanwhile House Speaker John Boehner has blundered badly with his horrible Plan B budget proposal. So badly that come 2013 he may no longer be House Speaker – but who would want to lead the Teapub yahoos in the House anyway? And finally, as the shattered bodies of the children slain in Newtown were being buried the NRA announces a proposal to put armed guards in all schools. How stupid. How cruel and insensitive. How soon can the NRA go to hell?

Revisiting Rice

It is understandable that the Newtown tragedy would dominate the national news for the past week. Nevertheless it must be noted that Senate Republicans led by John McCain with their efforts to mash and mangle the reputation of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice managed to force Dr. Rice out of consideration for the role of Secretary of State.

With trumped up claims that Ambassador Rice somehow engaged in the deception of the American people with respect to the Benghazi incident, John McCain and his fellow deceivers managed to muddy the waters surrounding her performance in office as well as her character. That John McCain could engage in such shameless and vindictive grandstanding should not be surprising, because he has proven himself to be a small man, not only in stature but in character.

After all, it was John McCain who, in the name of naked political expedience, chose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. In choosing such an inexperienced, unprepared and not particularly talented person to be next in line to be president showed that John McCain had complete and total disdain for this country and its citizens. For him to assail Dr. Rice’s competence or qualifications to be Secretary of State is hypocrisy of the highest order.

It is also useful to note that in his series of personal attacks against Ambassador Rice John McCain said that she is “not very bright”. Considering the fact that John McCain graduated at the absolute bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy one would think that he might pause before impugning anyone’s intelligence.

But he showed once again exactly why he graduated at the bottom of his class.

What Comes After Plan B?

In his fiscal cliff duel with President Obama House Speaker John Boehner came up with what he believed to be a cunning maneuver. He proposed a “Plan B” which would only raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million. This plan would also eliminate unemployment assistance for millions of Americans as part of a number of other drastic draconian measures that would inflict pain on Americans who are already suffering.

One problem though. The Teapublican wing of the House refused to go along with the plan because it entailed raising taxes on millionaires. And so the plan didn’t even come to a vote. The Teapublicans are prepared to defend the tax plantation of millionaires and billionaires no matter how much pain is inflicted on the rest of us.

And John Boehner has got to be wondering how he is going to be reelected Speaker of the House in January when he can’t even get his members to support his Plan B. Quite soon John Boehner may be relegated to Plan X status, as in Ex-Speaker.

More Guns, More Blood

Exactly one week after the Newtown massacre and one week after an average of 34 Americans were killed daily by gun violence; the NRA announced their response to these tragedies. Incredibly and horribly, the NRA proposed to place armed guards in all schools throughout the country.

That any sane individual would think that the answer to 300 million guns in America is more guns is stunning. That any responsible organization would make such a bizarre proposal as children from the massacre are being buried is vile and reprehensible. The only thing worse is that in a spot poll over 40% of Americans seem to think that armed guards in schools is a proper response to the tsunami of gun violence that sweeps across this country like clockwork.

There has to be a special place in Hell for people who, in their blind romance with rifles, handguns and shotguns, want to see even more guns in schools. And the gun manufacturers who shield their love of profit by twisting the Second Amendment to the Constitution should be ashamed. But, of course, they are not. They never are.

What will be enough to change the gun-worship culture in this country? Clearly the horrific spectacle of Newtown is not enough. Clearly the daily death toll of gun deaths is not enough.

What will be enough?

Point of View Columns

Three Strikes and You’re Out!

As soon as Barack Obama was re-elected president (I just love the way that phrase rolls across the page) it took about two hours for new battle lines to be drawn. The fiscal “cliff” negotiations were anticipated since the January 1, 2013 was set in place over a year ago. The battle regarding U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is the outlier. In opposing her presumed nomination to become Secretary of State the Teapublicans, John McCain and Lindsey Graham in particular, are seriously wrong on three counts – and three strikes and you’re out!

First, the Teapublicans who are lining up to form a human wall of opposition to Ambassador Rice’s presumed nomination are by and large hypocrites of the first order. Staunch pitchfork and torch bearers and like Senators McCain and Graham are claiming that Dr. Rice is not trustworthy or qualified.

Yet these same senators voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. That Dr. Rice as head of the National Security Council presided over the 9/11 fiasco, the greatest lapse in American intelligence since the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. That Dr. Rice also helped orchestrate a symphony of misstatements and mistruths – “mushroom clouds over the Middle East” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” – that led to the calamitous and disastrous American military engagement in Iraq at a cost to this country of over a trillion dollars, over 4000 killed, over 40,000 injured and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths.

That Dr. Rice’s resume describes an untrustworthy and horrific record in security and foreign policy matters. Senators McCain and Graham voted to confirm her as Secretary of State without so much a muttering word of question or dissent. They are wrong for being hypocrites. Strike One.

On the other hand, Dr. Susan Rice seems to have trained her entire academic and professional life to become Secretary of States beginning with her being selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work in the State Department of the Clinton Administration is unquestionably excellent and her work as United States Ambassador to the United Nations has been a portrait of diplomatic skills at the highest level.

The Terrible Teapublican Twins McCain and Graham would like to nail the Benghazi tragedy onto Dr. Susan Rice’s record. In an effort to turn a tragedy into a scandal McCain and Graham would have us believe that the American Ambassador to the United Nations had some operational responsibility in Libya. The concept is so ridiculous it could only be a Teapublican talking point.

But McCain and Graham know the truth – former CIA Director David Petraeus told them. Essentially, Ambassador Rice was not permitted to make references to terrorist involvement in Benghazi in her initial statements because it would have compromised security and military initiatives that targeted those same terrorists. For pretending not to understand how the real world works and for trying to destroy the reputation of a lifelong public servant who has served this country well, McCain and Graham are wrong. Strike Two.

Finally, the Teapublican Twins seem to be hell-bent on ignoring the fact that Barack Obama is the President of the United States and on 11.6.12 was reelected as President of the United States. The United States Constitution is very clear in giving the president the power to appoint Cabinet members. And while the Senate is designated to provide advice and consent to such appointments, in over 200 years a presidential cabinet appointment has rarely been blocked and then in cases of outright fraud or suspicion of serious misdeeds.

Nothing like that has even been alleged with respect to Ambassador Rice, even by McCain and Graham. What we are seeing is a Capitol Hill Teapublican Temper Tantrum – they cannot get over the fact that President Obama won and that they lost. Ambassador Rice’s nomination as Secretary of State, should it be forthcoming (I personally hope that she is nominated), simply offers the Teapublicans another opportunity to obstruct.

Over the past four years President Obama has selected an entire Cabinet, two Supreme Court justices, numerous ambassadors and countless other officials – exercising his judgment in each instance. The American people saw his judgment at work in real time and reelected him with over 330 electoral votes and by more than 3 million actual votes.

For not acknowledging political reality and dragging partisanship to a new low, McCain and Graham are wrong again. Strike Three…….and you’re out!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – November 23, 2012

Reality bites, so it is said. But reality has not seen fit to bite House Speaker John Boehner who didn’t get the memo telling him that Barack Obama won. Meanwhile, look out your window for flocks of pigs flying in the sky – Alabama Senator Saxbe Chambliss is backing off of Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge. Last but not least, will someone please explain how Teapublican zealots have determined that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has become the poster child for treason?

Reality Bites…..Again

Soon after 11.6.12, House Speaker John Boehner somewhat dolefully announced that Obamacare was now “the law of the land”. One would think that the reality of President Obama’s 332 electoral vote victory had begun to sink in. But when the Teapublican tail in the House started wagging the dog, Speaker Boehner seemed to backtrack.

More recently, Speaker Boehner has announced that, during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations Obamacare should “be on the table”. He said this despite the fact that the American people voted to return to office the man for whom Obamacare was named.

The Obama Administration has said that such a strategy is a non-starter which makes sense. Especially since Barack Obama won the election and will never run for election again.
We can only hope that Speaker Boehner regains his tenuous grip on reality. Otherwise he should join the other zealots writhing in denial and nominate himself for the position of Speaker of Angrywhitemenistan.

The Return of the Flying Pigs

It has been said that in November of 2008 meteorologists all over the country predicted that flocks of flying pigs would be swarming the skies if a black man was elected president. Obviously Barack Obama won but the flocks of flying pigs were nowhere to be seen.

Now the legend is being put to the test again. Saxbe Chambliss is a very conservative, white Republican senator from Georgia (serious redundancy in that description). He has been a card carrying member of the right wing of the right wing of the Teapublican Party long before there was an actual Tea Party.

Now it seems that Senator Chambliss has announced that he is no longer bound to Grover Norquist’s insane, inane and destructive no-tax pledge which has tied the fiscal affairs of this nation into Gordian knots. Senator Chambliss further announced, quite sensibly, that his commitment and allegiance to his country is more important than his pledge to Grover Norquist.

While no one wants to be outside when pigs go flying by, we can all hope that there are other Teapublicans who will follow Senator Chambliss’ honorable example – at least this one time.

The Passion of Susan Rice

At some point the clueless Teapublicans in Congress decided that one more way to attack President Obama would be to turn the Benghazi tragedy into scandal that could be wrapped in flimsy supposition at deposited at the steps of the White House. Even after disgraced former CIA Director David Petraeus clearly stated that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice did not give the full story regarding terrorism in Benghazi because she was not given this information, Senator John McCain continues to howl at the moon.

While Senator McCain served his country in the misbegotten Vietnam War, it is not clear how graduating last in the class at the U.S. Naval Academy and being a prisoner of war for five years qualifies him as a foreign policy or military expert. It is also not clear how he is entitled to pick and choose facts that support his attacks on the Obama Administration as if he were presented with a menu from Wendy’s.

President Obama has given a forceful defense of Ambassador Rice and it appears that the full story of terrorism at Benghazi was not released in real time because the terrorists were being tracked in real time. Announcing awareness of the existence of the terrorists would be pretty damn stupid and even Senator McCain should understand that.

Too many Americans, Senator McCain included seem to believe that Jack Bauer, James Bond and Jason Bourne are real people and that their fantastic escapades are real – but they are not. And there is also no Spiderman, Batman or Superman.

Someone please tell Senator McCain…..but gently.

Have a great weekend!