Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 13, 2013

Michael Bloomberg has had a memorable twelve years as mayor of New York City. He is making his last few months really memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. Meanwhile the war cries over Syria have distracted national attention from the very real danger of the Teapublicans shutting down the federal government and collapsing the economy for good measure. And speaking of Syria, some people seem to be really disappointed that the United States cannot find a pretense for bombing Syria right now.

Bloomberg Didn’t Build That Either

The New York City mayoral administration of Michael Bloomberg has been notable for its embrace of art, innovation, bicycle lanes and efforts to markedly improve the health of New Yorkers. It has also been notable for some real serious errors in judgment, the Stop and Frisk program being one of them.

It will be up to historians to judge Mayor Bloomberg’s overall performance. But he isn’t doing himself any favors when he goes on and on about how much billionaires do for the poor people of New York City. He has expressed such barely concealed contempt for poor people that he makes it seem that rich people paying taxes is some kind of charitable donation for which the poor, and everyone else, should be grateful.

Mayor Bloomberg seems to have forgotten U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes quote, “Taxes is the price that we pay for a civilized society”.

Mayor Bloomberg also seems to have forgotten that long before he was a multibillionaire he was the beneficiary of taxpayer funded public education in his home state of Massachusetts. And as a student at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard he was the beneficiary of the gifts of wealthy donors who make sure that no student ever pays the full cost of their education.

Mayor Bloomberg speaks about how the poor in New York should be grateful that they are not poor in a third world country. He might want to also express gratitude that he is not wealthy in a third world country where he would be the target of pirates, kidnappers and revolutionaries.

Indeed, Mayor Bloomberg and the entire host of American billionaires would never have been become richer than Midas were they not able to take advantage of various taxpayer funded resources such as roads, bridges, electrical systems and an educated and skilled workforce.

Perhaps one day, after he has left New York’s City Hall, Michael Bloomberg will realize that he didn’t build the Bloomberg Empire by himself or on his own.

Dancing on the Edge

Because of the pounding of the war drums along the Potomac, one could be forgiven for not noticing that the Teapublicans are continuing to force march this country to the precipice of a government shutdown which will also have the effect of collapsing an already shaky economy.

The Teapublicans in the House of Representatives have already voted to abolish the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, over 35 times. Despite the fact that a bill abolishing Obamacare will never see the light of day in the Senate and that President Obama would most assuredly veto the hallmark of his presidency, the Teapublicans keep banging their already battered heads against this ideological wall.

Now they are threatening to shut down the federal government at the end of September unless Obamacare is defunded. How providing healthcare coverage for the people of this country is a cause for legislative battle is a mystery all but the Teapublican leadership.

In the meantime we can only watch out for more Teapublican inspired storm clouds on the horizon.

Serious About Syria

Even as President Obama was about to urge Congress and the American people to support a military strike against Syria, Russia and Syria (and France) came up with a plan that would remove chemical weapons from the possession of the Syrian government.

This plan had the effect of halting all talk of an immediate military strike and not surprisingly the right wing of the right wing has sounded like it is disappointed that this country has not started yet another potential war.

I guess they are just going to have to endure the burden of this country avoiding war.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

Biting the Hand……

The hypocrisy of the G.O.Tea Party gets to be more than a bit tiresome. But as long as right wing of the right wing wishes to drink hypocritical hemlock, it is important to point out the Grand Canyon between reality and the fairy tales that are peddled as public policy.

A common theme among the Noble Nine (soon to be the Terrible Ten if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the plunge – an awesome thought) is that “government is the enemy”. From Herman Cain to Rodeo Rick Perry to Magic Mitt Romney to Michele Bachmann, the story line is consistent and unshakable – government is the problem in the lives of the American people and reducing the size of “big government” will be a huge step on the road to a better life for all of us. So let’s look at the facts, an act that is unfamiliar to the truth-averse G.O.Tea Party.

We can take the hypocrites in any order – Herman Cain, for example never misses an opportunity to dismiss the importance of the federal government and to rail against the “stupid people” who are running government. Please know that Mr. Cain graduated from Morehouse College and Purdue University, two institutions that have received millions of dollars in federal aid over the years. Mr. Cain also worked as a civilian employee for the United States Navy, presumably he was not one of the “stupid people” working in government.

As the Chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza he presumably benefited from the work of the Food and Drug Administration which gave his customers confidence to buy his pizza anywhere in the United States.

And, by the way, Purdue University is located in Indiana. Indiana used to have the largest membership of the Ku Klux Klan in the country. The efforts of the federal government, particularly the Department of Justice helped make it safe for the young Mr. Cain to attend an integrated university in the heart of what used to be Klan country.

Rodeo Rick Perry tells us in his “book”, “Fed Up” that government is the enemy. This would be the same Rick Perry who attended Texas A&M University. While he was busy earning a 2.5 G.P.A. and putting firecrackers in toilets, Governor Perry did get a degree and a commission in the United States Air Force. It is highly likely that getting a college degree helped him get that commission and it is absolutely true that his alma mater has received tens of millions of dollars of federal aid over the years.

In a masterful display of double jointed hypocrisy, Governor Perry criticized the Obama Administration for – you guessed it – not sending enough federal aid to Texas to help fight the wildfires that are consuming the state of Texas. Not that Rodeo Rick believes that the wildfires have anything to do with global warming since he doesn’t believe in global warming – or evolution.

Magic Mitt Romney is a little late to the party when he comes to attacking the federal government. We can assume that he hopes that his magical powers will help us forget that he attended Brigham Young and Harvard Universities, two institutions that receive millions of dollars from the federal government every year. We are also supposed to forget that the universal healthcare program that he introduced as governor of the state of Massachusetts was absolutely dependent upon the continuation of federal aid and assistance.

As president of the organization that ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah he was responsible for steering millions of federal dollars into that venture. Now his Olympic victory is put down on his presidential candidacy resume even as he claims that reducing the size of government is the holy grail that we all should seek.

Michele Bachmann is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to hypocrisy. Congresswoman Bachmann makes constant reference to her having over twenty foster children in addition to her five children. She conveniently omits telling us that her home was designated a treatment center for young girls most of whom stayed only a few months and very few of whom stayed for more than a year. And………you guessed it, the Bachmann “treatment center” received government payments for each child that crossed the threshold.

Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus Bachmann, runs a “controversial” counseling center which is said to be engaged in efforts to “cure” homosexuals. But the center can’t be that controversial as it has received over $137,000 in federal payments for treatments at the center.

The reality is that federal, state and local governments play a huge role in the lives of all Americans. The reality is that preaching that government is the “enemy” is simply false and misleading. This is reality that the G.O.Tea Party leaders know is truth from their own life narratives and yet they still seek to mislead. That is when hypocrisy turns to shame.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 20, 2011

This week Cornel West proved that it is possible to be a fool and a hypocrite simultaneously; Congressman Peter King is out to prove once more that hind sight is 20/20 and Newt Gingrich may turn out to be more of a fool and a hypocrite than Cornel West. It has been quite a week.

The Shame of Cornel West

Cornel West has clearly decided to shed the shreds of credibility and integrity that used to attend his unkempt frame. It is more than shameful that Princeton Professor Cornel West decided to refer to President Obama as the “black mascot of Wall Street”.

Presumably the erstwhile rap video walk on has taught his students to marshal facts and present logical and coherent arguments in support of whatever point of view they might wish to express. No one would criticize Professor West for articulating serious policy concerns and considerations. But “black mascot”? C’mon Cornel!

Not being satisfied with a racist ad hominem attack, Dr. West had the temerity to opine as to the “blackness” of President Obama given the fact that his mother was white and he was raised for several years in Indonesia. Seeming to read directly from the birth playbook, he tried to argue that with a Kenyan father and a white American mother President Obama was not fully connected with the experience of black Americans.

Presumably Cornel West has in his possession a certification of his own blackness. I am not clear how teaching at Harvard and Princeton, institutions that have never been bastions of blackness, provide him with the credentials to judge the “blackness” of anyone.

More to the point, it is unconscionable for Cornel West to engage in a gutter-born, personal attack on President Obama that is such an obvious mime of the attacks of the birthers and Tea Party cohorts. Perhaps, in addition to his divinity degree he also has a degree in minstrelsy.

The fact that Barack Obama has not returned multiple phone calls from Cornel West is a testament to the good judgment of Barack Obama. The fact that he didn’t get prized inaugural tickets seems like a personal problem that should be filed along with his obvious need for hair care and an orthodontist.

Unfortunately, until now Cornel West has had sufficient stature and respect that his comments are listened to and circulated throughout this country. His stature now matches his diminutive frame. His respect has evanesced. That he would launch such personal and uncivil attacks on the first African American President of the United States is unworthy of the reputation that he used to have.

Wednesday Afternoon Quarterback

The death of Osama bin Laden has been seen as some as an opportunity for this country to move forward in dealing with terrorist threats to its security. “Some” does not include Congressman Peter King (R, NY) the chairman of the House Security Committee.

This past week he announced that he will be holding hearings on what transpired in the killing of bin Laden by U.S. military forces. It can be predicted that there will be more calls for the gruesome photographs of the dead leader of Al Qaeda. Certainly there will be a need for the Obama Administration to try to respond to detailed inquiries while avoiding security breaches – always a balancing act.

I have heard of Monday morning quarterbacks who have all of the bright ideas and second guesses the day after the game. Congressman King and his G.O.Tea Party cohorts seem to fall into the Wednesday afternoon quarterback category as the last game is so far in the past tense and right this very moment the Obama Administration is focused on putting another bull’s-eye on Saif al-Adel, the recently announced presumptive heir to Osama bin Laden.

Knowing that the Republicans are intent on second and third guessing President Obama will not scare al-Adel. Knowing that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress are focused on a tomorrow that may find him missing might give him pause.

Stupid Newt Tricks

Last week Newt Gingrich announced that he is running for president. This week he may have second thoughts.

He appeared on “Meet the Press” and clearly (and correctly) criticized the draconian Medicare reform plan of Congressman Paul Ryan as “right wing social engineering”. When the right wing of the right wing hollered like a stuck pig he recanted and stated that any use of “Meet the Press” quote would be a “falsehood” since he had now recanted. Clearly “I take it back” is a reasonable rhetorical tool on the Planet Newt.

Last week it was also disclosed that Newt Gingrich’s wife had an unpaid Tiffany’s bill of between $250,000 and $500,000. I would think it would be hard to attack the “Washington elite” while your wife is running up six figure tabs at Tiffany’s. Welcome to the real world Newt, I am sure that the residents of the Planet Newt will understand.

Have a great weekend!

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