Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 8, 2011

Clearly President Obama is either the best poker player on the planet, or the worst. His negotiations with the Republicans over raising the deficit ceiling have baffled his supporters and emboldened his adversaries – the end game will tell. Meanwhile football fans of a certain age mourn the passing of NFL Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey. Sadness at his passing is tinged with disdain for the greed of the NFL owners and players who are too busy carving up a $9 billion pie while leaving less than crumbs for former players who were broken and damaged by the game. And finally, the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case plays out with the victim now being on 24/7 defense. It makes you wonder who is actually accused of a reprehensible crime.

It’s Always Darkest before……Midnight

Anyone who cares about the future (and the present) of this country is watching the negotiations over the raising of the federal deficit ceiling carefully. The G.O.Tea Party has been very transparent in stating that they are prepared to bring the known world to the brink of financial ruin if that’s what it takes to get President Obama and the Democrats to agree to draconian budget cuts.

Indeed, if the deficit ceiling is not raised by August 2nd, the United States government will go into virtual default on its debt and the global capital markets will be on the verge of collapse. Republicans are claiming that raising the debt ceiling is a major event that cannot occur without a major reconfiguration of the federal budget.

In point of fact the budget ceiling has been routinely raised by Congress dozens of times over the past two decades. The fact is that the Constitution of the United States specifically allows Congress to raise the debt ceiling so that the government can finance its mission which includes “promoting the general welfare” of the people of the United States. But on the Planet Tea Party facts don’t matter and ideology conquers all.

And so we see President Obama seeming to offer up fearful reductions of government services that will most certainly impact upon those least able to provide for themselves. By appearing to appease the G.O.Tea Party lion with the red meat of budget cuts his plan may be to coax them into the cage of raising the debt ceiling and increasing taxes on the mega-wealthy individuals and Midas-like corporations.

If President Obama can cage the beast with this bit of strategy he will be a hero. But he is taking a tremendous risk as the G.O.Tea Party beast has yet to be tamed by anyone.

Giant Steps

The news that John Mackey passed away on July 7th was greeted with sadness and regret. There is sadness because John Mackey was a great NFL Hall of Fame player who also was a leader of the National Football League Players Association. There is regret because John Mackey died at the age of 69 in an assisted living residence where he had been living for over a decade suffering from frontotemporal dementia, a condition almost certainly brought on from years of collision and combat on the fields of the NFL.

There is irony in the fact that a pioneer of the modern NFL was entitled to benefits of approximately $88,000 year at the time of his death while at the same time NFL owners and players are haggling over how to divide a $9 billion pie with barely a thought for the former players who live their lives burdened by chronic pain or in clouds of confusion that never clear.

As the NFL labor dispute comes to an end, let’s hope that the owners and the players remember the wounded warriors who deserve so much more than they are getting.

The DSK Saga – continued……

The case against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is reputed to be “crumbling” because it appears that his accuser, a hotel maid from the West African country of Guinea may have lied on her visa application. Her multiple sins also include possible false information on her tax returns and an ambiguous taped telephone conversation with her boyfriend that was translated from her native Fulani just last week. It should be noted that neither the accuser nor her lawyers have been able to hear the tape or read the transcript of the translation.

Defense lawyers get paid to engage in the shell game of getting the jury and the public to take their eyes off the alleged criminal conduct. In this instance we are supposed to be concerned about the presumed misdeeds of the accuser while ignoring the fact that there is DNA evidence of a sexual encounter between DSK and the hotel maid with no evidence to support his presumed contention that the encounter was consensual.

Many times in rape and sexual assault cases defense attorneys seek to “blame the victim”. However, robbers can be raped. We cannot forget that murderers can be sexually assaulted. Whatever misbehavior can be attributed to the accuser in the DSK case cannot possibly excuse the former banker’s conduct. I am hoping that this will not be an instance where justice turns a blind eye to moronic and beastly behavior.

Have a great weekend!