Point of View Columns

The Ebola Irony

The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has taken predictable turns for the worst. First leapfrogging from Sierra Leone to Guinea to Liberia to Nigeria, and then moving overseas to Dallas, Texas and Spain, the reality of an intercontinental plague that runs on jet fuel, ignorance and collapsing health infrastructures is difficult to contemplate, much less accept.

We have been assured by distinguished doctors and scientists that Ebola does not pose a real and present danger to Americans. But the recent Texas misadventure does not give us comfort and a sneaking suspicion lurks in the minds of many – suppose the doctors and scientists don’t know what they don’t know?

It took about two heartbeats for the Teapublicans to come thundering out of the Valley of the Stupid to seize upon the tragedy of Ebola to once again criticize President Obama. One can suppose that after almost six years, the Teapublican playbook is worn and dog-eared and that even the most rabid of the Obamaphobes brays their verbal attacks almost by rote.

Somehow, the playbook goes, President Obama should have shown more “leadership” by taking “action” once the Ebola outbreak was made known. Indeed, it is the fault of the Obama Administration that there hasn’t been more research on Ebola before the opening curtain on this tragedy was raised.

The irony of the last bit of moronic critique should not be ignored. Because it is the Teapublican Party that has advocated the draconian cuts in the federal budget that, even when modified, have resulted in massive reductions in the activity of the federal government – the shutdown of the federal government last year being only one surreal example.

The fact is that the majority of the Teapublicans in the House and Senate have signed Grover Norquist’s “No Tax Pledge”. By refusing to raise taxes for any reason at any time, these Teapublican sheep disguised as legislators are buying into the notion that the amount of federal spending should equal a percentage of GDP no higher than the level of government spending in 1895 (that is not a misprint).

Keep in mind that in 1895 there was no Food and Drug Administration, no Environmental Protection Agency and……, …………….no Center for Disease Control. The bizarre lunacy of the Teapublicans criticizing the lack of robust research at the CDC, the same agency that was shut down by Teapublicans, seems to be sheltered in the alternate universe in which they reside –where Everything Obama is Bad – logic, intelligence and common sense be damned.

It is interesting that those who believe in less government really believe that until they don’t. That is, until there is a BP oil spill. That is, until there is a 9/11 tragedy. That is, until the economy goes into a death spiral, threatening to take the automobile industry and banking industry and the rest of us with it.

But once the crisis passes, insanity returns without embarrassment or shame on the part of the Teapublicans. Indeed, they come across as the kind of party that would call for the closing of a fire house after it put out the fire at their headquarters.

This kind of Marx Brothers routine might make sense in a comedy show, but in the real world in which we all reside, the philosophy of smaller government only makes sense until it doesn’t. And it is at that point that we all will suffer.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 29, 2013

This week we learned that Michele Bachmann is under investigation for violating campaign law. It is possible that more charges will be added. Meanwhile, every day that the sequestration collar tightens on the American economy we find ourselves headed towards a true cliff. And finally, Nelson Mandela was hospitalized this week and thankfully is recovering. Perhaps other leaders throughout Africa will start to look at him as a model and not only an icon.

Michele Bachmann’s Real Crimes

The news reports from this week revealed that Representative Michele Bachmann is under federal investigation for campaign law violations during her bizarre and clownish campaign for president in 2012. What may be more interesting are the crimes for which she is not being investigated.

Fortunately for Ms. Bachmann there is no law against mangling the English language or distorting the facts until they bear no resemblance to the truth. Fortunately for her there is no law against repeatedly lying about the President of the United States and there is no law against being ridiculous.

If there were laws like these she would be in the process of being fitted for a nice orange jumpsuit right now.

On the Brink

Every day during the past four weeks that the sequestration scenario started to play out there has been a gradual tightening of the noose around the neck of the American economy and the American people. Grover Norquist infamously says that he would like to shrink government to a size that it can be drowned in a bathtub. And he may just get his wish.

Just this past week it was announced that 173 air traffic control towers in smaller airports across the country will be closed. Every day there are reports of the further reduction of the government workforce which, of course, means the further reduction of services provided to the American people.

In Durban, South Africa this week the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) met to discuss economic development and investment in infrastructure. They met to discuss a progressive plan for the future – a plan that envisions growth and a better way of life for the citizens who live in the BRICS countries.

Meanwhile in the USA, the supposed leading nation in the world, the prevailing narrative speaks of austerity, the need to do less with less. The fear of the future is palpable and it is that fear and shortsightedness that is moving this country closer and closer to the brink of true decline.

Grover Norquist and the Teapublican terrorists should be very happy.


When you go to the dictionary or Google and look up the word “icon” you would not be surprised if a picture of Nelson Mandela. His iconic biography is the stuff of true legend and he deserves every honor that has been bestowed upon him.

It is important, however, to remember that Nelson Mandela is also a revolutionary leader. Indeed, he is one of only two successful revolutionary leaders in modern history to freely relinquish power (the other being George Washington).

Mr. Mandela realized that the democratization process in South Africa could not be built on a foundation created by a cult of personality, no matter how admirable and honorable that personality might be. By safeguarding the free and lawful transfer of power to his elected successor, Thabo Mbeki, Mr. Mandela set in place a tradition that almost has to be observed by South Africans for generations to come.

The leaders of too many African states should consider the Mandela Model. Too many of these leaders have stayed in power for decades stunting the democratization process and strangling progressive measures in society through their overbearing personality cults.

Nelson Mandela is more than an icon; he should be a role model for anyone who presumes to lead a country in Africa or anywhere else in this world.

Happy Easter and have a great weekend!

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!

Point of View Columns

Mitt Romney and the Myth of the Self Made Man

Recently President Obama pointed out in a speech that American businesses are not successful on their own and that they owe their success to the support and services provided by government and the American people. Proving once again that history, common sense and statistics have no place in his political rhetoric, Mitt Romney has responded by trying to promote the Myth of the Self Made Man.

The Koch brothers, Senator Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist, Congressman Paul Ryan and all of the denizens of the right wing of the right wing of the Teapublican Party loudly proclaim their goal of shrinking government, claiming that government gets in the way of business, job creation and the freedom of the American people.

In continuing his efforts to pole dance his way to the Teapublican nomination, Mitt Romney has contorted his personal narrative in order to win favor with the insatiable conservative wing of his party. And now, as he pursues this quixotic mission he has decided to twist the truth, obliterate the facts and defy common sense.

That President Obama’s statement referring to business relying on the support and services of the American government should be even remotely controversial is simply further proof of the core Teapublican ideology – “Obama Bad. Not Obama Good.” This not so insightful philosophy seems to inform Mitt Romney’s latest attack on President Obama.

It is difficult to imagine that a successful businessman like Mitt Romney would seriously think that a business could prosper in a community where there were no police, sanitation or fire services. Even though a good part of Mr. Romney’s business acumen lies with acquiring and denuding businesses and then selling off the scraps, one would think that even he would understand this elemental fact.

Mr. Romney could take time off from sending love notes to his money stashed away in faraway places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands and ask a businessman in Trenton or a businesswoman in Detroit what it is like to try and run a company when basic municipal services have disappeared and government has shrunk to a size that it can be drowned in a bathtub – to quote Grover Norquist’s timeless phrase.

If he could stop thinking about his tax returns he might read about how Steve Jobs, an entrepreneur that he cites as being independent of government, went to public school. He might also take a moment to reflect that almost all of the American employees of Apple spent some time in public school.

And if Mr. Romney is aspiring to be president he should know that almost all of the American employees of Apple who attended college went to an institution that received federal funds for research, construction and student loans. And the same story is true at companies from Microsoft to General Motors and any other business you might care to name.

It is true that businesses and their owners pay taxes. But is there anyone who would seriously argue that dollar for dollar American businesses get the best value for their tax dollars? The interstate highway system, the clean water system and the national power grid are pretty expensive items that provide incredible value to the business environment in this country. Even ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers would have to think twice about paying for the infrastructure that supports their enterprises dollar for dollar.

Historically, it was government financing that provided the resources that resulted in the construction of the transcontinental railroad which literally transformed this country and created a truly united United States. Countless fortunes were made from this single government investment as the heirs of Leland Stanford and alumni of Stanford University will attest.

More recently, it was the government that created the G.I. Bill which in turn permitted millions of returning World War II veterans (my father included) to attend college and become part of the middle class which has been the foun.dation for this country’s economic progress for over a half century. From General Electric to the general store on the corner, millions of American businesses and their owners and executives literally “owe” their success to government services and support.

It is inconceivable that anyone could seriously argue that government (federal, state and local) and the services that it provides has not been a full partner in the success of American business. And it is quite telling that Mitt Romney would try to put forward this myth of the self made man.

Mitt Romney may be a self made man but he didn’t do a very good job. He left out common sense and included an aversion to the truth

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.

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.