Point of View Columns

The Circus is Back in Town

During the 2012 presidential campaign (which actually began in 2011), the Teapublican Party provided a bizarre and macabre Clown Carnival disguised as an electoral process. There was one Senate candidate who had to deny that she was a witch and another who introduced the particularly vile concept of “legitimate rape”. There was a presidential candidate who quoted the Japanese anime character Pokémon and another who wanted to colonize the moon. It turns out that 2012 was just the opening act.

Having written two published novels I would like to think that I have some idea of what kind of fiction is marketable. And I am certain that if I presented my agent with a book proposal that had a leader of the Teapublican Congress losing his seat to an avowed Ayn Rand zealot, she would throw me out of her office.

Yet, the latest news is that Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, lost in a primary to David Brat (you cannot make this up), a college professor who presumably lights candles to honor Ayn Rand every night. That would be the Eric Cantor who has voted to repeal Obamacare over fifty times. That would be the Eric Cantor who voted to cut food stamps and increases in benefits for veterans. The same Eric Cantor who led a Tea Party contingent in Congress that has shut down the federal government, imposed draconian sequestration cuts that impacted too many Americans and threatened to wreck the credit rating of the United States.

That Eric Cantor was not conservative enough for the citizens of the Congressional district in Virginia that he represents and we will now have to endure the lunacy of another ultraconservative who will be very comfortable with the likes of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Tim Scott and the Koch Brothers. And while David Brat may be comfortable with his theoretical musings on how the world would operate with little or no government, the implementation of his vision would produce a living nightmare for most Americans.

It begins with the fact that David Brat lives in the dream world of the self-made man. Somehow, in his contrived universe, he was responsible for building the public schools that educated him as well as training the teachers that taught him. In The World According to Brat, he earned everything through his own hard work and dedication – the roads and bridges and social safety net that protects him and most Americans have had nothing to do with his success.

The defeat of Eric Cantor should just be an historical anomaly. He is the first Majority Leader to have been defeated in a primary since the position was established in the 1890’s. But there is more to David Brat’s victory. Assuming that he will prevail in the general election in an overwhelmingly (and gerrymandered) Teapublican district, he will be one more voice of negativity, denial and fantasy added to the already unbearable Cacophony of No that is the Teapublican majority in the House of Representatives.

The takeaway from the downfall of Eric Cantor is that elections matter and that it is important to vote. The other takeaway is that David Brat is the symptom of a malady that is infecting the body politic and none of us are immune.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 24, 2012

With his incredibly stupid comment about “legitimate rape” Congressman Ted Atkins found himself in the middle of a national firestorm of outrage. But Congressman Paul Ryan has sponsored legislation referring to “forcible rape” and an entire cadre of Teapublicans in Congress thinks that all of this idiocy makes sense. Is Atkins the Teapublican head fake to distract us from the toxic mission that they are undertaking? Meanwhile we learn that the Teapublican Majority Leader and Majority Whip of the Congress led a taxpayer funded delegation to Israel that featured drunken and nude swimming in the Sea of Galilee. This is so wrong it’s hard to know where to start. And finally, the National Urban League has decided that Nike is charging too much for its sneakers. Can that be news? And doesn’t the Urban League have a few other, more pressing issues to worry about?

Watch for the Head Fake

It would seem that the Teapublicans are intent on self-immolation even before their hurricane-cursed convention begins next week. By choosing a doctrinaire, Ayn Rand acolyte as his running mate, Mitt Romney has painted himself into the right corner of the room on the right at the end of the hallway on the right.

Now, Congressman Ted Atkins, in striving for a Lifetime Idiocy Award, has gotten the full and complete attention of the American public when it comes to the abortion policy of the right wing of the right wing that has hijacked what used to be the Republican Party. The most dangerous part of Atkins’ statement was not his reference to “legitimate rape” (whatever the hell that might mean), but rather that his fundamental philosophy is that while the rapist should be punished, the rape victim should be forced to bear the child of that rapist.

By lifting the lid on the G.O.Tea Party Crazy Box, the entire country can now see that this is a party that clearly believes that women have no right to any kind of choice when it comes to reproductive issues. Congressman Steve King of Iowa joins Congressman Atkins and dozens of other members of Congress in believing that for biological reasons it is almost impossible for a woman to become pregnant by reason of rape.

But we should not let this instance of dumbness distract us from the entire Teapublican package which disputes evolution, believes that creationism is a scientific theory worthy of academic recognition and also is positive that climate change is a myth. In Tampa we will get the full view of the rush to idiocy that will become a national mission if Romney-Ryan is victorious on November 6th.

Pilgrims’ Progress?

Now it turns out that a short time ago, two budget hawks from the Teapublican Party led a Congressional delegation to Israel. Congressmen Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy are not foot soldiers in the G.O.Tea ranks; they are Majority Leader and Majority Whip respectively.

They also claim that waste is a key element in the budget crisis that this nation is facing.
So it might be a good idea to ask why it was so important for them to lead a delegation of over a dozen members of Congress and their staff members to visit Israel and spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars so that they could “fact find”. It might also be a good idea to ask how much of the people’s business was being taken care of when many of the members engaged in a drunken midnight swim in the Sea of Galilee, at least one member of Congress being so overwhelmed by this holy site that he swam in the nude.

Let’s see – wasting money – check! Desecrating a holy site – check! Looking like idiots while representing the United States abroad – double check! It sounds like the Secret Service was serving as their travel agents.

Wake Up Urban League!

The leading cause of death for young black men in America is homicide. Unemployment in the black community is at historic levels. The Teapublican Party has declared war on black voting rights and has legalized voter suppression. These are all pretty daunting challenges for the national black community.

So why would Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, go on national television to criticize Nike for planning to sell sneakers that will cost $300. This would be the same Nike that has been selling overpriced sneakers for over a quarter of a century.

It cannot be news to the Urban League that Nike sells overhyped sneakers and markets them to black consumers. It cannot be news that black consumers buy these sneakers. And it cannot be news that Nike’s mission is to sell as many sneakers for as much money as possible.

But what is news is that the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has passed a voter i.d. law that is clearly designed to diminish and suppress the black vote. It is news that voter suppression is being legalized and legitimized as a protection against non-existent fraud.

With the black community in danger of being disenfranchised after less than fifty years of nationally mandated enfranchisement is the real news. The National Urban League would do well to focus on priorities that really matter and that does not include Nike sneakers.

Have a great weekend!

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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.

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Death by Tea Party

As this column is being written we seem to have avoided The Rapture and Armageddon is probably several months away. Nevertheless, during the past two business days the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped by over 1000 points and Standard & Poor’s has dropped the AAA rating of United States debt for the first time in history.

To paraphrase an old line, the G.O.Tea Party will try to pour water (or something like it) on our heads and tell us that it is raining. The canned caterwauling of the right wing of the right wing is already claiming that these financial calamities are totally the fault of Barack Obama because the events happened “on his watch”. Of course, as usual, the G.O.Tea Party is allergic to facts and deathly afraid of the truth.

The dangerously bad economic news of the moment is totally and absolutely due to the Congressional hi-jinks perpetrated by the G.O.Tea Party during the debt ceiling debacle. While Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell would mouth the right words about avoiding default, they did nothing to quiet the Kamikaze Korner of the right wing of the right wing that seemed to welcome the idea of default.

The rest of the planet (and Standard & Poor’s) saw leaders of the American government playing with matches in an ammunition dump. These same leaders, Boehner and McConnell included, showed absolutely no inclination to engage in rational dialogue with President Obama by refusing to consider any tax revenue increases even if it meant damning the country into economic hell. And by Friday, August 5th, the heat that you felt wasn’t the dog days of summer; it was the fiery breath of an economic hell storm that is the clear progeny of the right wing of the right wing.

In the past that I have written that the G.O.Tea Party is so offended by the idea of the President of the United States being Barack Hussein Obama that it would seek to destroy American rather than see him lead it. I thought I was engaging in rhetorical hyperbole of the type that the right wing of the right wing has mastered. But I was wrong.

When irrational actions take place it becomes necessary to determine the irrational basis for those acts. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and Michelle Bachmann have to be held accountable for their actions. By engaging in an adolescent game of “chicken” with the greatest economy in history the right wing of the right wing and its supporters and enablers have wreaked havoc on the people of this country and on the global economy.

They have to know what they are doing.

The G.O.Tea Party blaming Barack Obama for this country’s latest financial woes is like the arsonist blaming the fire department because the building that he set on fire burned down. That would be the same arsonist who also stole the fire hoses and let the air out of the tires of the fire trucks.

They have to know what they are doing.

The financial debacle is not just a matter for historical reporting or historical analysis. Real men and women are losing their jobs because of this plummeting spiral into which America’s economy has fallen. In the days and weeks to come homes will not be purchased, companies will not open or expand. In the weeks and months to come flickering hopes will be extinguished by the icy breath of a recession that will not go away because it is welcomed by the G.O.Tea Party.

They have to know what they are doing.

In effect the right wing of the right wing is engaging in the “honor killing” of the United States. Rather than see this country under the leadership of a black American named President Obama they would kill it – not through bombs or guns, but through slow, but thorough, economic strangulation.

As the life’s breath wheezes out of the American people their strategy is to “blame Obama” even as they tighten the noose with every nihilistic tactic, with every statement of nullification. The only thing that matters to them is to build a pyre high enough and flammable enough to consume the Obama Presidency – using the American economy as fuel and the American people as kindling.

They have to know what they are doing.

For too long the Democratic Party, progressives and those of us interested in our own survival and that of our children have allowed the right wing of the right wing to dominate the center stage of public discourse, in the process setting the agenda – no government revenue increases, no public spending to stimulate the economy, no increase in the size of government (even for food inspection, airline safety and education) – no, no, no.

The miasma of negativity has traversed every part of this country. The right wing of the right wing is, in this country, entitled to its point of view. It is not entitled to dominate.

Remember – They have to know what they are doing.

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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!

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Child’s Play

I will confess to checking my hall closet for a handy pitchfork so that I could join the crowds howling for disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign. And then I did something that I try to do at least three times a day – I thought.

And I realized that Weinergate and all of its monstrously irrelevant iterations is the latest stale bread being served in the media circus. Holier than thou pundits and politicians have railed against his seemingly bizarre behavior which, it seems has disqualified him from ever walking the hallowed halls of Congress ever again.

These would be the same halls of Congress that has seen a former chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee cavorting in a Washington, D.C. fountain with a stripper. These would be the same halls of Congress that have been witness to obscene and salacious texts from a congressman to teenage pages and interns. We know of at least one senator with a “wide stance” while he solicited sex in a men’s bathroom and of another congressman who fathered a daughter out of wedlock while being married.

The sordid laundry list is seemingly endless. And now, Anthony Weiner has had his name added to the Wall of Shame that occupies a very prominent place in the halls of Congress. And now every politician and pundit with an urge for airtime has something to say about what Anthony Weiner and his betrayal of his marriage, of his constituents and the American Republic.

Of course what happens between Congressman Weiner and his wife is not the business of the public or the media. We don’t know the status of their relationship, nor should we. For now it appears that his constituents, the people who actually have voted for him, still support him and want him to stay in office. And if the American Republic can survive strippers in fountains and senators with wide stances, I am sure that it can survive salacious texts by Anthony Weiner.

Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have called on him to resign as his presence is a “distraction” from the important issues facing the American people. Republicans, including Majority Whip Eric Cantor, have called on Congressman Weiner to resign because he is a “distraction” from the important issues facing the American people.

I hope that someone notices that the only people doing the distracting are Democratic and Republican leaders along with their media handmaidens. Certainly there are some Americans who will indulge in the titillation that comes with peeking through the keyhole into someone’s private life.

But there are at least 14 million Americans without jobs who probably are not spending a lot of time worrying about Anthony Weiner. There are millions of Americans who depend upon Medicare to keep them healthy and alive who are scared to death by the Republican plans to eviscerate this lifesaving program while Democrats offer limp and ineffective defense.

There are $10 billion U.S. tax dollars being spent in Afghanistan during this month of June and that worries most Americans more than the most ridiculous Weinergate “breaking story”.

It appears that Congressman Weiner has not broken any laws. He has not been accused of sexual harassment. He may have done some of his sexting from his congressional office but I don’t think any sane human being, even members of the G.O.Tea Party can argue that this is a reason for him to resign.

The intimate aspects of his private life became public. His private life should return to the four walls and closed door where they belong. No one reading this column, no one calling for Anthony Weiner to resign, would wish to endure the kind of scrutiny to which he has been subjected. The fact that some of this scrutiny was the result of his self-inflicted inadvertence is not really the point. We are all residents of glass homes and stoning Anthony Weiner is not only childish, it is hypocritical.

The fact that too many members of the media are now engaged in a third week of Weinergate while the world goes to hell in a hand basket is shameful and unspeakable. Prurient interest can sustain a story but so far – there have been no crimes, there has been no corruption, there has been no fraud and there has been no betrayal of the oath of office that Congressman Weiner has taken.

There is nothing worse than adults playing like children when they are charged with more serious affairs. Perhaps it is time for all of us to grow up.

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(What a) State of the Union

President Obama in delivering his State of the Union message has wisely chosen to speak to the future of this country rather than the past. When he was inaugurated in 2009 he inherited a country that was mired in two unwinnable wars while watching its economy simultaneously implode and explode.

There is no doubt that the economic downturn has abated only slightly and only for a few. Most Americans are learning that there is something worse than losing a job –the fear of never getting a job again.

The herculean efforts of the Obama Administration to turn the tide of financial wreckage and shattered confidence have not been a complete “fix”, of that there is no doubt.
But there is also no doubt that the G.O.Tea Party do-nothing-let-the-free-market-prevail approach to America’s ailing economy would have had brutal results, with all but the wealthy being exempt from the pain.

That President Obama would be criticized by those who would have stood by while General Motors disappeared, countless millions lost their homes and jobs and the country as a whole suffered the numbing fear of tomorrow would be ironic were it not so tragic.

In his State of the Union address President Obama has chosen not to point out that the American tragedies and disasters over which he presides are not of his own making and are not the results of his policies or his philosophy. Were he to state this simple truth it would be mere moments before John Boehner or Michelle Bachmann or Eric Cantor would accuse him of “whining” and “refusing to take responsibility”.

So Mr. Obama has but on his big boy pants and stepped in front of the American people to take ownership of the problems that beset these United States. Only by taking ownership of the problems can he also take ownership of the solutions. But not everyone needs to be so restrained and reserved.

In point of fact the economic collapse which continues to erode and corrode and degrade the American belief in tomorrow was not the result of some cyclical market adjustment. The policies of the Bush-Cheney administration created a no-fault, no rules casino-like environment in the financial marketplace.

Regulators appointed, empowered and directed by Republicans turned a blind eye, looked the other way or didn’t even know where to look while a Rube Goldbergesque finance edifice was built that was guaranteed to come crashing down.

And when it did crash, it didn’t crash on the bankers and their enablers; it crashed on factory workers and homeowners and fixed income seniors. And, sad to say, most of the victims are still trapped in the wreckage.

That the Bush-Cheney administration and the Republican Party are able to treat this shameful episode in American history as an act of God, not unlike a hurricane or a tsunami is a tribute to their ability to avoid the truth while not actually lying. And it is an indictment of the media and the writers of history who accept this very Grimm fairy tale as being true.

What President Obama did not say in his State of the Union message is that the American economy has been seriously damaged by the godforsaken war in Iraq which drained billions of dollars out of this country with no consequent increase in security.

The President will not say that the Bush-Cheney Administration lied and deceived the American public and most of the world in stomping towards the killing ground that Iraq was to become.

Dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, made billions of dollars in profits while American soldiers and Iraqi men, women and children died. The Republican Party stood shoulder to shoulder while American men and women were chewed up and spit out by the monstrous war has become yet another Grimm fairy tale.

And this war, with its trillion dollar cost, combined with a jerry-built economic marketplace, caused the downfall of the American economy. President Obama did not choose to cast blame in this State of the Union message, but that doesn’t mean that there blame should not be cast.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the G.O.Tea Party are counting on the American public having the attention span of a goldfish. That way they don’t have to lie, they just have to act as if they are not responsible.

In point of fact they are irresponsible. President Obama did not say it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

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Weekend Edition – January 22, 2011

The aura of Chinese “Tiger Moms”, the hypocrisy of repealing healthcare and a Sarah Free February pledge, these are all part of this weekend’s Point of View.

“Tiger Moms” to the Rescue?

The January 8, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal contained the single most widely read article in the 100+ year history of the publication. The topic wasn’t chicanery in the banking system or an analysis of the global economy; it was “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”.

The article details a rigorous and fully disciplined approach to parenting that the author, Professor Amy Chua of Yale School, contends is responsible for the academic success of her children and millions of other Chinese children – both here in the United States and in China.

The ensuing hotly contested debate was predictable. The defenders of the “western” approach have launched a full throated protest against what they contend is a barbarous and abusive approach to raising children.

The supporters of the so-called “Tiger Moms” stress the statistical proof of the academic success of their progeny as being a definitive and absolute justification – the ultimate proof of the end justifying the means.

I would recommend that you take a few minutes to read Professor Chua’s article. It is much too easy to mythologize or demonize the Tiger Mom approach to parenting. I would also suggest that you take a look at some other statistics – like the ones that show American schoolchildren underperforming when compared to their peers, not only in China, but in almost every developed country on this planet.

The globalization of the economy has also brought about the globalization of competition in almost all walks of life. American children may be less prepared for this competition than their parents and grandparents and that would be a sorrowful legacy to convey.

Healthcare Hypocrisy

Last week the House of Representatives voted to repeal the healthcare bill passed by Congress in March of 2010. In a high and righteous dudgeon, the new Republican majority congratulated itself in firing the first salvo in the battle to repeal “Obamacare” because, in their view, the American people do not want the universal, guaranteed healthcare that every citizen of every developed nation on earth expects and receives as a matter or right.

A few true ideologues in the G.O.Tea Party have refused the gold plated healthcare coverage that every member of Congress receives from the day they take office for the rest of their lives – past retirement, indictment and conviction.

But most of the Republican leadership, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Michelle Bachmann come to mind; have clung to these benefits without excuse, explanation or shame.

It is bad enough and sad enough that as this country continues to slog through an economic morass that Republicans think that symbolic votes to nowhere is what this country needs. It is even worse that they walk the halls of Congress attired in full frontal hypocrisy – healthcare for me, but not for you – is the clarion call of the day for the Party of No.

Sarah Free February

It has been time for Sarah Palin to go for a long time. She was “refudiated” by the American electorate in 2008. She wisely quit as governor of Alaska before the citizens of the 49th state had the opportunity to administer a coup de grace to her political career.

Since then she has absorbed the limelight and spewed illogic, in the process assuming importance out of all proportion to her relevance or intelligence. And then there was the Tucson Massacre.

By clearly demonstrating her narcissism and tone deafness she has forfeited even the pretension to any position of leadership. But, being Sarah Palin, she won’t exit the stage as long as a few footlights continue to shine on her tarnished persona.

So Point of View will observe a “Sarah Free February”. Not another word will be written about her for the rest of this month or for the month February. After that, we shall see.

One more thing – GO JETS!!!!

Have a great weekend!

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Topless and Bottomless

It would be wise to simply abandon all sense of outrage and disgust while observing the mosh pit that passes for political discourse in America in 2010. Clearly the sky is the limit when it comes to outrageous and bizarre statements that are fobbed off the American public as facts. Consider:
• President Obama was not born in the United States
• President Obama is a Muslim
• The initial health care proposals included “death panels” for senior citizens
• The B.P. oil spill was an act of God

All of these statements of “fact”, and many more are part of the talking points of many Republican candidates running for governor, senator and Congress. That these “facts” are patently untrue has not moved the leadership of the Republican Party to distance itself from the members of their party responsible for these statements, much less correct them.

There is not the least bit of challenge or suggestion that accuracy might be useful that has emanated from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele or Representative John Boehner or Representative Eric Cantor or Senator John McCain all known as leaders of the Republican Party.

The silence of the elephants is astounding as it is absurd as Republican candidates call for the dismantling of the Departments of Education and Energy (Angle – Nevada), question the constitutionality of unemployment insurance (Miller – Alaska), publicly refer to homosexuality as an “identity disorder (O’Donnell – Delaware) and question to viability and rationale for the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Paul – Kentucky). When it comes to outrageous comments and points of view, the right wing of the right wing is topless. But it is also bottomless.

We have now learned that Rich Iott, the Republican Party candidate for Congress in Toledo, Ohio, regularly attends Nazi reenactment activities, in some instances wearing an
SS uniform, presumably to enhance the authenticity of the moment. The fact that he is part of a society that conducts historical reenactments of a German SS division did bother Representative Cantor enough to express his distaste – being one the few Jewish members of the G.O.Tea Party Congressman Cantor’s response was somewhat predictable. Although neither Congressman Cantor nor any other Republican seemed to have any problem with Confederate heritage celebrations in Virginia – I guess it depends on which end of the whip one stands.

And so we see that the right wing of the right wing is not only topless, it is bottomless. And through some strange hypnotic force that renders logic, common sense and intelligence inert, the right wing of the right wing is calling the shots for the entire Republican Party. There are more sightings of unicorns and griffins than there are of Republicans who believe that there is a limit to the amount of hate and ignorance that is being injected into the American political blood stream.

Whether it’s Dinesh D’Souza recreating an imaginary communion between President Obama and his father in a cemetery to Rush Limbaugh hoping that the President of the United States “fails”, no member of the G.O.Tea Party feels compelled to say that enough is enough.

Meanwhile, as this topless/bottomless maelstrom ravages the intellectual countryside of this nation, the Democrats remain mute and muted. The silence of the donkeys is remarkable given the vehemence and intensity of the attacks perpetrated by the right wing of the right wing. I am amazed at poll results that show Tea Party adherents exceeding Republicans in their interest in voting in the upcoming elections while Democrats lag far behind both. What could the progressives and moderates be thinking?

Could dissatisfaction with the less than perfect presidency of Barack Obama be reason enough to sit by and let Sharron Engle and Linda McMahon and Sarah Palin become the voice of the future? Could the fact that the Democrats have not been able to fully revive the economy that was truly moribund at the end of the Bush Administration be reason enough to return to the policies that damn near cratered the economy in the first place?

Isn’t the prospect of birthers and witches and know-nothings and Nazi reenactment enthusiasts and Confederate heritage aficionados enough motivation to simply walk to the polls and say “enough is enough”?

Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of earlier this year, millions of anonymous corporate dollars from the Koch brothers and the Scaifes and the Chinese are flowing into the coffers of G.O.Tea Party candidates as you read this column.

Fortunately, it is still a nation of one vote per person, but money doesn’t talk, it shouts in stentorian tones, and it seems to be drowning out the voices of reason and sanity across this country.

There are barely three weeks before the midterm elections. The members of the right wing of the right wing and their Tea Party cohorts are sharpening their pitchforks and fueling their torches in anticipation of a raucous victory celebration on the evening of November 2nd.

Right now, there is still time to create an unhappy ending to the G.O.Tea Party dream, which would be America’s nightmare if it comes true.

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