Point of View Columns

The Circus Comes to Iowa

On the third day of the New Year the G.O.Tea Party Traveling Road Show and Clown Cavalcade will get serious – at least as serious as a Clown Cavalcade can ever get. On January 3, 2012 the Iowa Caucus will be held and actual votes will be cast for this sorry manifestation of the A.B.O. (Anybody But Obama) phenomenon.

It is pretty clear that only an irrational tsunami of distaste and disdain for Barack Obama could wash this collection of candidates on the political shores of this country. And it is pretty clear that lurking beneath contentions of opposition to the policies of President Obama is a racial animus that will remains unspoken except for the occasional slip.

We are witness to unprecedented insult and disrespect directed against President Obama and we are supposed to believe it is because he supported a bailout that saved the American automobile industry and millions of American jobs. Within hours of Barack Obama having taken the presidential oath of office Republicans united – not to pledge bipartisan cooperation or adherence to a set of policies that they believed were best for the American people – instead they united around the goal of making him a “one term president”.

This irrational pandemic has caused members of Congress to call President Obama a liar while he was addressing Congress. Apparently this has also liberated the caged racialist impulses of some Americans so that Barack Obama can be portrayed with a bone through his nose at Tea Party rallies and Michelle Obama’s physical features are fair game for public commentary.

This irrational pandemic has brought forth a collection of candidates that is so flawed that the G.O.Tea Party runs the real risk of their nominee being the victim of the A.B.B.U.R. (Anybody But a Republican) vote. In their desire to defeat President Obama because of who he is and what he is, the Republicans have assumed that any alternative will be successful – quality, competency, sanity and coherence be damned.

Consider that as this column is being written Congressman Ron Paul is leading in the Iowa polls and is a serious candidate nationally. The fact that Congressman Paul’s office has published a newsletter with serial racist rants for over twenty years has not damaged his standing as a candidate. The fact that Congressman Paul advocates the dismantling of the Federal Reserve Bank and multiple agencies of the federal government has garnered him the support of a cadre of zealots.

Newt Gingrich remains a leading candidate even though he has referred to Democrats as “Nazis” and claims that Freddie Mac paid him $1.6 million in consulting fees for his services as a “historian”. Newt Gingrich helped to engineer the last major shutdown of the federal government and his list of personal flaws and missteps contrasts with his hypocritical advocacy of “family values”.

As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney advocated and passed legislation instituting mandatory universal healthcare for all citizens in that state. Now Mitt Romney claims that this would somehow be a bad thing for the citizens of the other 49 states. Mitt Romney wants you to believe that a career spent buying companies with borrowed money, laying off thousands of employees and bankrupting those companies at a profit somehow has prepared him to manage the largest economy on the planet.

We also have the likes to Michele Bachmann who believes that she was chosen by God to run for president and communes with Him on a regular basis. She claims to be well prepared for the office of president by virtue of her seat on the House Committee on Intelligence – a punch line waiting for a joke if there ever was one.

Rick Perry has been pilloried for his gaffes and flubs during the debate. But we should all be concerned about what he is trying to say about reducing federal services to Americans by closing down federal departments. His suit and tie barely disguises a rhetorical bomb throwing anarchist who would disembowel a system of governmental services upon which most Americans rely.

Rick Santorum would govern this country pursuant to “Christian beliefs” although it is not clear who would be the judge of what constitutes “Christian”. Certainly his opposition to gay marriage indicates a tolerance deficit in his version of Christianity.

Jon Huntsman has distinguished himself by not agreeing to participate in Donald Trump’s hokum debate. He has not espoused the insane agendas advanced by his competitors. But he is certainly no Profile In Courage when it comes to speaking truth to the madness.

And there is your G.O.Tea Party Cavalcade of Clowns. Imagining any one of them as President of the United States makes me miss Herman Cain. After all, anyone who would quote Donna Summer quoting a cartoon character is worth the price of admission.

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.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 25, 2011

This week prayers may not have been answered in full, but we were all witness to the beginning of the end of a war without end. Meanwhile nowhere in the print or electronic media is there any mention of the fatal flaw of the Romney and Hunstman presidential candidacies. Finally, the G.O.Tea Party follies continue as the former proponent of the secession of Texas from the United States, Rick Perry, ponders the timing for his entry into the race.

Crying in the Chapel

Last week President Obama announced a schedule for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. If the schedule stays in place over 30,000 military personnel will have left that country by the end of 2012. That will leave approximately 70,000 troops remaining and President Obama said that they will be gone by 2014.
There are many Americans who never saw the need or the logic in having over 100,000 American troops in the Graveyard of Empires.

Most Americans regardless of their initial enthusiasm for vicarious combat have grown weary with a decade of death, outpourings of cash and the indelible feeling that nothing good will come out of this adventure.

There are logical reasons for withdrawing all the troops as soon as possible. The politics and logistics of the situation won’t permit such action, however. President Obama seems to be making the best of a very bad situation, and in this case we can only hope that The Force is with him.

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

Last week Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and more famously, President Obama’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. Having worked for Barack Obama for 18 months, Mr. Huntsman came away convinced that he could do a better job as president than the man who appointed him.

He is entitled to his flights of fancy but what is hardly mentioned is that, for the first time in American history, two Mormons are seemingly credible candidates for the presidential nomination of a major party. Within this generation Mormons refused African Americans admission to the church because of some presumed connection to the devil.

Followers of the Mormon faith were subjected to lynching and genocidal practices in the 19th century leading to their flight to Utah where there only opposition were the inconvenient Ute tribe, which was immediately dispatched. And, it should be noted that Mormons fought something very much like a civil war against the United States before grudgingly agreeing to become a part of the United States.

And now not one, but two Mormons are running for President of the United States and there seems to be assumption that bygones are bygones and that evangelical Christians whose forebears burned Mormons will not vote for a Mormon. The United States is a polyglot nation which still accepts change at a glacial pace.

One could observe that if a black man could be elected president then so can a Mormon. I would just suggest that someone might want to look a little more closely at this historic moment as opposed to dismissing it as irrelevant.

Because it most assuredly is not.

Let’s Get Crazy. Let’s Get Nuts.

The G.O.Tea Party, for all of its proclaimed revulsion at the mere thought of Barack Obama, seems to be secretly committed to his re-election. Candidacies that are doomed at birth, like those of Ron Paul and Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann, are touted as legitimate contenders to wrest the Oval Office from President Obama.

And now, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas and successor to George W. Bush, has indicated his possible interest in running for the Republican nomination for president. And I am sitting wondering how a responsible government official who is on the record as suggesting that Texas consider seceding from the United States (you can look it up) can be a serious candidate for president of this country.

Perhaps Governor Perry can come up with a “spin” to explain his intemperate remarks –but if he is the best that the Republican Party can come up with as a candidate Barack Obama’s biggest challenge will be overconfidence.

Have a great weekend!