Point of View Columns

The Teapublican Circular Firing Squad

The G.O.Tea Party Presidential Klown Kavalcade has alternated from being comical to darkly dangerous to farcical to appalling. The constant lurching to the right wing of the right wing has turned the party that was founded around the concept of abolishing slavery to a gaggle of mean-spirited Teapublicans for whom no excess is excessive as long as it is cloaked in the threadbare cloth of conservatism.

The Teapublican Party embarked on an unprecedented strategy of intransigent partisan opposition from the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated as president. There is no policy, no program, no legislation, and no appointment that they have supported if it was seen as part of the Obama Administration. Clearly condemning President Obama to failure as a one term president has been more important than the health and welfare of the American people.

In their gleeful haste to unseat Barack Obama at all costs, the Teapublican candidates have relentlessly attacked each other as being undeserving of wearing the mantle of the G.O.Tea Party Avenger. It is not enough, in this Tea Party parallel universe, to simply defeat Barack Obama. It is of even greater importance that every policy of his be reversed and that the country is subject to reverse social engineering – eradicating every concept of a shared national purpose, compassion and social connectivity.

Saint Santorum has been almost hysterical in his claim that President Obama represents the greatest danger to this country in modern history. His hysteria at the prospect of a second Obama term in office is matched only by his horror at the idea of contraception and the right of women to choose how to live their lives. In Saint Santorum’s world, women have the right to bear children, home school those children and presumably fix meals for their lord and master and his progeny that she has been blessed to bear. And all along he continues to attack Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich has been a walking dead candidate for months, but thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision regular transfusions of billionaire dollars from the outer fringes of the right wing have kept him standing. And so Mr. Gingrich, who presents himself as the smartest person in the room, continues to prove that he is definitely not.

He has shown a remarkable ability to distort and misrepresent the facts, however. His views on the Obama Administration foreign policy have only served to bring clouds of confusion into international dialogue with bellicose rants about Russia, China and Iran. And all along he continues to attack Mitt Romney and Saint Santorum.

Not to be outdone, Mitt Romney has declared Russia as America’s number one geopolitical enemy (leaving some to wonder who is number two, and so on). Aside from revealing a thought process that would be more fitting during an episode of “Mad Men” in the 1960’s, Mr. Romney has shown himself to be willing to say just about anything to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for bile that exists on the right wing of the right wing. And all the while he continues to criticize Saint Santorum and Newt Gingrich for having the nerve to continue to run against him.

Ron Paul continues to be the ultimate outlier, attacking anybody and everybody. In Ron Paul’s world it is clearly each man for himself and women and children had better watch out.

This circular firing squad that the G.O.Tea Party has organized shows no signs of winding down anytime soon. While the nomination of Mitt Romney seems inevitable, it is not inevitable that the Teapublican zealots will embrace a man who has been compared to a well-lubricated weathervane when it comes to his political position(s).

Indeed, it will be interesting to watch when the Klown Kavalcade comes to Tampa for the Republican convention this August. It is hard to believe that the end of what promises to be raucous and riotous proceedings that the Teapublicans will come together and be the wind under Mitt Romney’s wings.

It is quite possible that the true believers, following Saint Santorum as their good shepherd will simply walk away from Mitt Romney and either stay home or run a quixotic third party campaign.

While this scenario makes no logical sense, to quote former president George W. Bush, never “misunderestimate” the zealots.

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Point of View Columns

Circus Maximus

This past weekend Herman Cain “suspended” his campaign for the Republican Party nomination for president. In the special world of Herman Cain “suspend” actually means “terminate”, just like payments to sexual harassment victims were “agreements” not “settlements”.

As Mr. Cain goes raging into the night we are greeted with the resurgence and rebirth of Newt Gingrich. The latest news has Newt surging into the lead of G.O.Tea Party contestants. This is a bizarre occurrence even by the circus standards set by the G.O.Tea Party.

To term Newt Gingrich damaged goods would give damaged goods a bad name. A failed Speaker of the House; a family values advocate who admits to serial extramarital affairs; a self-proclaimed “outsider” who pockets millions from major corporations while engaged in quasi-lobbying, Newt is a sorry piece of work.

Newt fancies himself an intellectual because he has a Ph.D. from West Georgia State College and then dishonors that degree by saying things that are bereft of intelligence, logic or common sense. On the Planet Newt President Obama is a “secular socialist” (whatever that is) whose policies derive from his “Kenyan anti-colonialist” philosophy (whatever that is). These diversions from sanity along with his stint as another deranged passenger on the “birther” bandwagon should automatically disqualify Gingrich as a serious candidate.

But this is 2011 in the United States of Stupid, where the cauldron of animosity and disdain and disrespect for Barack Obama has overflowed. Reasonable public debate and rational discourse has been replaced with sad slogans (“Obama is a failed president”) and lies (“Obama led this country into the current recession”).

It actually shouldn’t be a surprise that Gingrich is now the leading candidate of the G.O.Tea Party given the fact that the entire Republican cavalcade seems to auditioning for the role of Clown in Chief. Ron Paul wants to dismantle the entire federal government – just think, his proposal to get rid of the Federal Reserve Bank would plunge the entire planet into economic chaos.

Mitt Romney is in favor of deporting 11 million men, women and children from a nation founded by immigrants because of their immigration status. Mitt Romney is also against universal health care except that he was in favor of it when he was governor of Massachusetts and signed a bill implementing universal health care in that state.

Mitt Romney calls himself a “job creator” because he has made millions of dollars. He conveniently neglects to mention that he made many of those millions of dollars purchasing companies with borrowed money, eviscerating those companies and then selling off the parts for a profit. How’s that for “job creation”?

Others in the G.O.Tea Party circus include Rodeo Rick Perry who remembers that he would support an Israeli-led war against Iran (which would probably precipitate World War III) but he can’t remember what federal agencies and departments he wants to decimate or abolish. Michele Bachmann claims to be directed by God and

Jon Huntsmann thought enough of President Obama to accept his designation as U.S. Ambassador to China but now he thinks that President Obama is incompetent (we can assume that Mr. Huntsmann thought that President Obama made one good decision in appointing him). Rick Santorum considers the legalization of gay marriage as the first step towards the legalization of bestiality.

All of the Republican candidates have signed Grover Norquist’s no tax “pledge” which would effectively remove a major executive power should any of them actually get elected president. All of the Republican candidates support a “muscular” foreign policy which is exactly the kind of policy that has this country in two wars for over ten years.

We should be clear, however, that the problem is not simply the wackiness of the G.O.Tea Party clown cavalcade. They are vying for the nomination of a party that has been hijacked by the right wing of the right wing. No Republican could be a serious nominee for president if they even hinted that President Obama saving the America auto industry was a good thing.

It would be the kiss of death for any of the G.O.Tea Party candidates to suggest that the reduction of the federal deficit just might have to include increased revenue through increased taxes. Fake family values, kissing the ring of Donald Trump (yet another failed pseudo-politician) and giving voice to the incoherent hate for Barack Obama are clearly qualifications that are more important that intelligence, vision and sanity.

There is a chance that Newt Gingrich will be the G.O.Tea Party presidential nominee. There is a better chance that Newt will self-destruct by saying one more dumb thing after a stupid thing because he is so impressed with Newt Gingrich and believes everyone else should be too.

Democratic Party leaders can be pardoned if they salivate at the notion of a Gingrich candidacy. They are hoping that he won’t pull the pin until September 2012.

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Point of View Columns

Taken for a Ride

The G.O.Tea Party debatathon barrels along, coming to a city near you, no doubt. There is a basketful of silly, stupid and mean items of interest. Part of the reason is that presidential politics has turned into the silly season in the land of the G.O.Tea Party as the frantic search for the A.B.O. (Anybody But Obama) candidate reaches a fever pitch.

In the rush to unseat President Obama, the Republican Party has jettisoned all sense of reason, logic or facts. Any ABO candidate is a credible candidate. The only qualification is meeting the ABO test. That rather flimsy bit of litmus paper has produced a political clown show that would put Barnum & Bailey out of business if it ran more than once every 4 years.

The G.O.Tea Party abandonment of reality and common sense has led to some rather bizarre results. Take, for example, the recent Republican debate in Michigan. And keep in mind that if you don’t know anything else about the state of Michigan, you probably know that it has been heavily reliant upon the automobile industry for over one hundred years.

According to the Center for Automotive Research (“CAR”), if the automobile industry had collapsed in 2009 approximately 3,000,000 jobs would have been lost – including direct and indirect jobs as well as spin off employment. In a state as reliant upon the auto industry as Michigan the results would have been beyond brutal.

Of course the automobile industry did not collapse due in large part to a bill that was signed into law by President Barack Obama that pumped billions of dollars into the automobile industry in the form of a massive bailout. That bailout dragged General Motors from the brink of bankruptcy and allowed Chrysler the opportunity to have an orderly merger with Fiat, thereby saving that company.

While Ford Motor Company did not directly participate in the bailout, it certainly benefited from the fact that the surrounding economy did not simply implode. No one wants to own the last house standing after a firestorm.

The bailout that saved the automobile industry saved millions of jobs, millions of families, thousands of communities and a major component of the American economy. Arguing about saving the largest building on the block while it was on fire didn’t make much sense. Arguing that the building never should have been saved once the fire is extinguished sounds pretty stupid.

Yet, during the G.O.Tea Party debatathons we have heard candidate after candidate decry the bailouts as contrary to American ideals. Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rodeo Rick Perry, Jon Hunstman, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have all pledged to stand by and watch the next American economic building burn to the ground if they are faced with a similar crisis as president.

Incredibly, these Republican presidential candidates went to Michigan – Michigan!!!!! – And stuck to the party line. They stated that the bailout of the auto industry was wrong and that they would never support that course of action in support of the auto industry or any other American industry – or the people who worked in that industry.

Incredibly, the Republican citizens of Michigan who were in attendance at the debate did not hurl rotten tomatoes or walk out in protest. Even if there were no autoworkers in the room I have to believe that most reasonably intelligent residents of the state of Michigan understand the importance of the auto industry to their own livelihoods as bankers, lawyers, barbers or plumbers.

Instead, the G.O.Tea Party zealots in attendance drank the Kool-Aid and asked for more. Whether it is tax cuts for the wealth and the reduction of health and social services for 99% of this country, it seems that these zealots cannot help but vote and campaign against their own interests.

It is amazing that the Koch Brothers and their billionaire cohorts have funded fake grassroots movements like Americans for Prosperity in order to hoodwink and bamboozle a reasonably literate and reputedly intelligent American populace. Today many self-labeled liberals and progressives agree with the Koch-inspired mantra that government must be reduced in size even as the population of this country and its needs grow larger.

If the 2012 election were held today the Koch Brothers and the G.O.Tea Party will have won even if Barack Obama is re-elected. They have already fundamentally rewritten history and erased common sense, compassion and vision from public discourse, replacing these values with self-interest and a warped view of this country that ignores the expectations of the people who live there.

The G.O.Tea Party zealots are being taken for a ride. Unfortunately they are taking us with them.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – November 25, 2011

Last weekend First Lady Michelle Obama appeared at a NASCAR rally and was booed. Sadly, the rudeness is not a surprise. But who is it on the White House staff that thought that having Mrs. Barack Obama go to a NASCAR rally was a good idea? Meanwhile Newt Gingrich has surged to the lead in the G.O.Tea Party presidential polls. Could Barack Obama be that lucky? Finally, the G.O.Tea Party zealots in the Congress passed a bill overturning an Obama Administration initiative to have whole grain foods and vegetables in federal school lunch programs. A simple of example of how stupid can turn to dangerous.

Hail to the First Lady?

Last week First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden attended a NASCAR rally. They were roundly booed in a display of rudeness that was shocking even in the United States of Stupid. Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden were there to promote support of American troops that are returning to the United States from the seemingly endless wars that this country is waging.

The booing should have been expected, however. If there is anyone on the White House staff who believes that a NASCAR rally is a suitable venue for Mrs. Barack Obama has been working in a soundproof cable-free bubble for the past three years.
The only thing that would elicit a positive response from the NASCAR denizens would be an announcement by Michelle Obama would be an announcement that President Obama had resigned.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh rushed into the frenzy contending that Michelle Obama should have stayed in Washington instead of going anywhere for any purposed. He went on to say that the First Lady of the United States was “uppity” in presuming to make appearances around the country.

We know by now that Rush Limbaugh is a racist, drug-addled, stupid lout who should thank his lucky Jesus that by some quirk of fate he has been able to make millions spewing hate and ignorance. But does he have to prove it every day?

Newt on Deck

This week we learned that Newt Gingrich has surged to the lead in the G.O.Tea Party presidential polls. Presumable this is because Michele
Bachmann has turned out to be certifiably crazy, Rodeo Rick Perry is a caricature of Rodeo Rick Perry and Herman Cain’s self-inflicted wounds are beyond healing.
It is a testament to the sour taste that Mitt Romney leaves in the mouths of the zealots who occupy the right wing of the right wing in the G.O.Tea Party that damaged goods like Newt Gingrich could be given serious consideration as a presidential candidate.

There may have been other successful presidential candidates who married their high school teacher and then divorced them as they were recovering from cancer surgery. However their names escape me at this time.

There may have been other successful presidential candidates who have engaged this kind of over the top fear mongering – “Barack Obama is a greater danger to this country than fascism during World War II”. However, their names did not come up in my research for this column.

I would have to think that Team Obama would welcome a Gingrich candidacy. Of course, it is useful to remember to be careful what one wishes for.

Bon Appétit

During the 2010 election campaigns, the Tea Party faithful promised real change when their candidates arrived in Washington. Now we have found out what they meant.
Change has meant absolute, wooden-headed obstruction to any and every piece of legislation that does not precisely conform to Tea Party orthodoxy. Change has meant that this country has teetered on the brink of fiscal default and disarray, a potential disaster that the G.O.Tea Party has crazily embraced.

Change has also meant rolling back the Obama Administration initiative that calls for healthier federally funded school lunches. More whole grains, more vegetables and other subversive elements have now been eliminated by the G.O.Tea Party zealots in the House of Representatives.

By the way, pizza and tomato paste as a vegetable are o.k. in the world inhabited by the right wing of the right wing.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Who is This Guy?

The so-called Super Committee of the U.S. Congress, formed in the wreckage of this summer’s budget-deficit crisis, has failed to even come close to meeting its mission of setting a plan for a reasonable deficit reduction plan. “Reasonable”, in Planet Earth terms, would mean some reduction of government spending and a corresponding increase in tax revenues through the elimination of some deductions and selected increases in taxes. But “reasonable” does not translate into the lexicon of the G.O.Tea Party.

It turns out that all six Republican members of the have signed a “pledge” promoted by Americans for Tax Reform. The ATR sole founding principle is to oppose any tax increases –ever. The founder of ATR is one Grover Norquist. Mr. Norquist has managed to get over three hundred members of the United States Congress (House and Senate) to sign his mindless “pledge” effectively paralyzing any serious deliberation related to the budgetary process.

Since the critical function of the Congress relates to the budget, Mr. Norquist has effectively paralyzed the governmental process. If you want to know the father of last summer’s budget-deficit crisis, the DNA process would come up positive for Grover Norquist.

Grover Norquist is someone that most Americans have never heard of, who somehow wields incredible power in what used to be a democratic process. To be fair, Mr. Norquist has been honest in stating that his no tax pledge is a key element in a strategy to “shrink government to the point that it could be drowned in a bath tub”. One has to give him credit for particularly colorful terminology.

The goal of Grover Norquist is to actually, literally and really change the fundamental nature of this country. In the world of Mr. Norquist, there is no need for a robust federal government that would protect the poor, the weak, the environment or the future. In the Darwinian future that he envisions, it will be every rugged individual on his/her own, with losers being consigned to the American trash heap.

The ignorant aspect of the world according to Norquist is that these United States would not have achieved any level of real progress without a robust governmental structure – the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the Panama Canal, the W.P.A., the G.I. Bill, NASA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are just a glimpse of the transformative actions of government that have provided an economy, society and nation that has produced a high standard of living for so many of its citizens.

The no tax pledge is the succulent apple offered by the serpent. Paying no taxes while being able to live in a functioning society is a pipe dream typically dreamt in an opium den. Grover Norquist would have you believe that no tax increases in a growing and expanding nation would be a good thing.

In point of fact, Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Taxes is the price I pay for civilization”. Grover Norquist would have the American people believe that reducing the size and scope of government by strangling its revenue windpipe will make this country a better place.

Biting the apple full of worms and lies, members of Congress have signed on to a pledge that, taken to its logical extreme, will virtually eviscerate governmental processes leaving police, fire and minimal health and educational structures. The safety of the food supply, highways and airways and the arts will be left to “market forces”. The health, education and welfare of the American people will be left to those who have the resources to provide for themselves and whatever crumbs of charitable largesse that might be left over.

What is most interesting is that the G.O.Tea Party members of Congress who have signed Mr. Norquist’s “pledge” have seemingly let that “pledge” override the oath of office that was taken when they were sworn in as members of the House of Representatives or the Senate. Indeed that oath of office calls upon members of Congress to support the Constitution of the United States which, interestingly enough, does not contain a no tax pledge and does indeed call for Congress to impose taxes as may be necessary to provide for the defense and welfare of the country.

Mr. Norquist is the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind a curtain of not for profit secrecy (who funds his organization? Could the Koch brothers be far behind?). His vision of a country that would be bereft of progressive thought and an achievable future is dark and desolate yet the G.O.Tea Party members have boarded this ship to nowhere.

In November of 2012 Americans will have the opportunity to decide if this country should really be governed by single minded principles that have no relation to reality. Next year we can decide if someone died and left Grover Norquist in charge.

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All Guns, No Roses

While the G.O.Tea Party presidential circus careens across America spreading lies, misinformation and worn out comedy routines, black and brown America is killing itself. This is not a metaphorical observation. I mean it literally.

The latest New York City crime statistics indicate that even though 30% of the city’s population is African American, fully 60% of all homicide victims are black and 60% of the suspects in these crimes are black. If you add in members of the Hispanic community, fully 90% of all homicide victims in New York are black and Hispanic and 90% of the suspects are black and Hispanic.

Aside from reaffirming that the world is going crazy, these statistics tell a very interesting story. Most of these murders are committed with guns. It would be fair to say that there are too many guns that are too easily available.

But it is also about culture. For the past thirty years popular music, movies and literature have glorified violence, “gangster” ethos and disregard for human life. This cannot be disputed.

Consider the latest video game miscreation, “Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3”, sold hundreds of thousands of games as soon as it was released. This game modernizes, romanticizes and glorifies warfare – basically the wholesale slaughter of the “enemy”. While the “enemy” might be mythical in the video game, an impressionable youngster who plays the game incessantly can easily translate the ethic and mindset to the streets on which he lives.

Meanwhile, for the past thirty years popular music and music videos have promoted, popularized and glorified violence – all in the name of “keeping it real”. Fifty Cents might be wearing a coat and tie now, but he made his money rapping about killing other people. The same is true for Jay-Z, BET and too many others.

The argument that these performers and entertainment networks are just “keeping it real” and “giving people what they want” is facile and baseless and virtually unworthy of serious consideration. The bodies of men, women and children pile up on the streets of New York and across this country while the beneficiaries retire to their mansions while riding in their Maybachs.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association and promoters of the “rights” of gun owners pervert the Constitution to somehow support the notion that everyone has the right to own as many automatic weapons as they can afford. States’ rights advocates in Virginia and South Carolina falsely claim that they have no responsibility for the carnage in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York even as they profit from the sale of weapons that have only one purpose – the wholesale slaughter of other people.

The combination of this country’s gun culture and the gangster culture promoted in communities of color has produced a lethal cocktail. If the Ku Klux Klan or Posse Comitatus or the Tea Party was killing blacks and Latinos at the rate that blacks and Latinos are killing blacks and Latinos, national outrage would rock this country to its very foundation.

The NAACP and the Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus would be demanding Congressional investigations and the intervention of the United Nations. If white people were killing people of color at the current levels of homicide being perpetrated by people of color it would be an international disgrace.

Somehow, a black man killing a black woman or a Latino boy killing a Latino girl does not provoke the same level of outrage and concern. The combination of the gun culture and the gangster culture has turned every inner city street into a potential killing zone. And when the bodies fall there are the obligatory candle light vigils and marches and then it’s back to business as usual.

The problem is that “business as usual” shields the men and women who are responsible for creating this toxic atmosphere from any responsibility. The men and women who are responsible for the blood and gore and death never touch the rotten fruits of their labor while vacationing in St. Bart’s or taking private jets to Paris.

The numbers simply don’t lie. “Business as usual” means death on the streets of the cities of America. And the purveyors of this lethal, toxic and poisonous culture are able to escape any blame or responsibility.

The problem is that “business as usual” means another black girl or Latino boy will die before the end of the week. The rap potentates and music producers and gun advocates sleep easily in their beds of luxury.

The victims of their vicious “business sleep” forever.

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Weekend Edition – November 4, 2011

Looking at this past week, one would think that Halloween would be a pretty apolitical event – but not in Loudon County, Virginia where the county Republican Party circulated a Halloween poster showing Barack Obama with a bullet hole in his head and half of his skull missing. It’s nothing but fun and games in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Herman Cain has had a heck of a week “misremembering” sexual harassment charges and illustrating pure ignorance when it comes to foreign policy. And, paraphrasing Mr. Cain, Greece, an unimportant country on the Planet Cain (I bet he can’t spell “Papandreou” if you spotted him the 2 “p’s” and a “d”), almost brought the entire Planet Earth to the brink of financial cataclysm.

All Tricks and No Treat

This past Halloween the Republican Party of Louden County, Virginia thought that it would be a real fun thing to post a picture of President Obama as a zombie, complete with a bullet hole in his head and half of his skull missing. This is what passes for humor in parts of these United States.

The Virginia Republican Party denounced and disowned the offending posting and the Louden Company Republican Party apologized to “anyone who might have been offended”. But this disgusting display points out the toxicity of the political atmosphere where, in a country with a sad and unfortunate history of presidential assassinations and assassination attempts, serious political operatives would post photographs of the president as a dead man – all in the name of humor.

Very sad.

The Cain Spin Cycle

In a recent interview regarding his views on foreign policy, Herman Cain expressed his concern about China becoming a nuclear power. This might have been a useful observation in 1963, but China became a nuclear power in 1964 – 47 years ago! Even on the Planet Cain the news has to travel faster than this.

Perhaps Herman Cain was distracted by the slip sliding facts regarding sexual harassment charges that he remembers and the disremembers. And then he blames Rick Perry who blames Mitt Romney who blames Rick Perry.

The G.O.Tea Party is slipping into a cool, thick pool of stupid by the moment.

“Unimportant” Countries

Herman Cain famously said a few weeks ago that he didn’t have time to worry about “unimportant” countries as president – that’s why he would have advisors.
Given his lead in G.O.Tea Party polls, there are many members of the right wing of the right wing who think that dumb and dumber translates into useful foreign policy.
On that point, this past week, Greece, an “unimportant” country, brought Europe and by extension the whole world, to the brink of financial panic by wavering over a bailout strategy authored by the European Union. Greece has agreed to go along with the strategy, but not without a lot of drama.

Perhaps someone should let the G.O.Tea Party know that there is no such thing as an “unimportant” country.

Have a great weekend!

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