Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 7, 2012

There is a reason why people who perform extraordinary deeds are called heroes and it seems on a midday subway platform in New York City this past week there were none to be found. Meanwhile New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez can console himself with the knowledge that he was only benched for one half of a game, Fox News has banished Karl Rove to the pines for a much longer time. And finally, Senator Jim DeMint has announced that he is resigning from the Senate to become president of a think tank – the word “oxymoron” immediately comes to mind.

We May Need Another Hero

Earlier this week Ki Suk Han was standing on a subway platform one moment and the next moment he was pushed to the subway tracks in front of an oncoming train. What we do know is that Mr. Han tried to get back on the platform for twenty seconds.
What we do know is that no one on that midday subway platform tried to help him climb to safety.

What we do know is that one R. Umar Abbasi, a photographer for the New York Post the time to take a number of pictures with his camera.

What we do know is that Mr. Han was struck by that oncoming train and died on the scene.

What we also know is that it is very hard to be a hero, which is why they are so few and so deserving of honor and praise.

What we do know is that there were no heroes on that New York City subway platform last week.

Benched!

During this football season the New York Jets have led the league in gratuitous drama if not wins. Last week, keeping it interesting, Jets coach Rex Ryan benched starting quarterback Mark Sanchez and the third string backup quarterback led the team to victory. And then Mark Sanchez was re-anointed as the starter, at least for now.

Not to be outdone in the gratuitous drama department Fox News has benched Karl Rove and Dick Morris. One has to believe that the real time election night meltdown of Karl and Dick had something to do with the Fox suits deciding that it was time for Rove and Morris to ride the pine for a while.

And while we will miss their adamant stupidity and their dedication to falsehood, the nation and the world are better off without them on the air.

The Oxymoron of the Year

The basic definition of “oxymoron” is basically a figure of speech which is self-contradictory – expressions like “jumbo shrimp” and “military justice” come to mind. Now, thanks to soon to be former Senator Jim DeMint we can add one more.

In his infinite wisdom Senator DeMint, one of the godfathers of the Tea Party movement, has accepted the position of president of the Heritage Foundation conservative think tank. That would be the same Jim DeMint who has authored or enthusiastically supported the wackiest elements of the Tea Party including birther strategies, the denial of evolution and climate change as well as welcoming the national default that was barely avoided.

“Jim DeMint and think tank” – an oxymoron for the ages.

Have a great weekend!

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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

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – November 11, 2011

Rodeo Rick Perry suffered through the mother of all meltdowns during the latest G.O.Tea Party debate. Unfortunately his brain freeze has distracted attention from the mindless policies that he incoherently articulated. In College Station, Pennsylvania Penn State students actually rioted because the football coach was fired for being implicated in a child sex abuse scandal. Question – where have these students been? Finally, today being Veterans Day, we would do well to remember the service rendered by so many millions of men and women over the years. It is simply too bad that Senator Jim DeMint actually went on the floor of the Senate to say that veterans are not worthy of special recognition.

In Search of Rodeo Rick Perry’s Brain

During the most recent Republican debate, Rodeo Rick Perry suffered a 53 second brain freeze right in the middle of his rant about the government agencies that he would close down if he was elected president. Predictably, most of the news media focused on the sheer absurdity of the seeming disappearance of all conscious thought experienced by the Texas governor.

It was painful to watch as Rodeo Rick desperately searched the clearly empty corners of his mind for some kind of answer. Mitt Romney, acting like the smarmy smart kid in high school who teases his slower classmate, even gave Rodeo Rick the wrong answer.

Lost in the post-debate autopsy is the fact that what Rick Perry was trying to say was that as President of the United States he would dismantle the departments of Education, Commerce and Energy. Really?

Currently this country is ranked 26th globally with respect to the academic achievement of its K-12 students. International competition is greater than at any point in history. Could this really be the time to shut down the United States Department of Education and its efforts to establish an effective national education policy?

It is estimated that over 60% of all jobs in this country are provided by small businesses. The Small Business Administration resides in the United States Department of Commerce.

Most economists agree that increasing international business opportunities is a great strategy for improving this country’s economy. That effort is led by the — you guessed it – United States Department of Commerce. Could this possibly be the right time to shutter that department?

The lack of a coherent energy policy will plague this country until it descends to second rate global status. The United States Department of Energy is the vehicle by which such a policy can be developed, articulated and implemented. Only a fool would think that shutting down this department at this time would make sense.
In the Koch-funded, lemming-like stampede to “reduce government”, the G.O.Tea Party is proposing national suicide. Hopefully, the clownish behavior of its proponents will not distract from the dangerous reality of their proposals.

Who is Penn State?

Pennsylvania State University has been a great educational institution for a very long time. Its academic and athletic achievements are historic and worthy of praise. Its students and alumni proudly proclaim, “We are Penn State!”

It is doubly mystifying that during the past week thousands of Penn State students rioted because legendary football coach Joe Paterno was fired. That he was fired for being implicated in a horrific pedophile scandal that allegedly took place on the Penn State campus for over a decade didn’t seem to matter to the rioting students.

Aside from the shameful disregard for the child victims, the Penn State students invite the question, where have they been? During the past decade a presidential election was stolen with the Supreme Court of the United States driving the getaway car. During the past decade this country has been engaged in two misguided wars, one of which was based upon outright lies. During this past decade corporate greed has created economic disparities unseen in over a century.

And during this past decade Penn State students, and college students all over the country, have been incredibly silent. Swathed in the cocoon of academia and safe in the knowledge that there is no draft to bring them into the bloody maw of war, college students across the country have seemingly lost the will to protest – unless it is in support of a football coach.

11-11-11

This item is not about a new iteration of Herman Cain’s tax plan. Today is Veterans Day and we would do well to remember the men and women who have served this country. The United States Senate passed a bill that would provide tax credits to employers who hire veterans in recognition of the fact that the unemployment rate for veterans who have served in the misbegotten wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is 12%

Only Senator Jim DeMint, a Tea Party demi-god, voted against this legislation. He stated that he did not believe that any American should be given advantages over any other American.

This is only a glimpse into the G.O.Tea Party mindset and the vision for this country that it embraces.

Have a great weekend!

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