Point of View Columns

Lies, Lies, All Lies!

Historians will refer to the 2012 Teapublican presidential primaries as “The Era of the Clown Car”. Given that over twenty aspirants for the Teapublican nomination have already declared, are about to declare or who are running without declaring, the 2016 Teapublican primaries may be re-titled “The Era of the Clown Bus”. But make no mistake, among this gaggle of serious contenders along with the jesters and pretenders who are just along for the ride, there is a common theme – lies are better than the truth.

Consider for example, the continuous denial of climate change on this planet and the connection between this looming ecological disaster and the contribution of Americans to this debacle as consumers and producers. Exactly not one of the men (and one woman) who wishes to be the next President of the United States will confirm their understanding of this well proven fact.

Instead, we hear sound bites that seem to be written for them by the media flacks and hacks at Exxon and Koch Industries. With the temperature of the planet rising, with both polar ice caps melting and with thousands of plant and animal species facing extinction as a result, it would seem that denying this reality would be foolish. Yet we have the Teapublicans saying in effect, “don’t believe your lying eyes”.

Even worse, the Teapublican 2016 game plan seems to call for resorting to revisionist history. The real history of American engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan is never going to be kind to the Bush-Cheney cabal that lied to the American people and then employed a botched non-strategy that has served to destabilize an entire region and endanger the world for years to come.

Rather than face facts, or even evade these realities, the Teapublican passengers on the Clown Bus are falling all over themselves to find new and unique and creative ways to blame the Obama Administration. Somehow, we are supposed to believe that the rise of ISIS and the serial explosions of violence and destruction in Libya and Syria and Yemen and Afghanistan and Iraq are the fault of President Obama even though any sober analysis of the historical facts show that the wanton and thoughtless “regime change” in Iraq and the intellectually challenged non-strategy of the U.S. in Afghanistan are the clear starting points for the conflagrations that plague that region now.

But, on the Teapublican Clown Bus, there is no reason to let facts get in the way. And while it is politically cool to blame the incumbent, we must worry that if the passengers on the Clown Bus keep drinking this neocon Kool-Aid there may come a time when “boots on the ground” starts sounding like a good idea and it will be our sons and daughters wearing those endangered boots.

And there’s more. The latest national economic statistics indicate that there has been an unprecedented five years of economic growth in this country –the unemployment rate in this country when Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States was 7.6% and before the country’s economic death spiral reached bottom the jobless rate was 9.5%. The current unemployment rate is 5.4%, the stock indices are at their highest points ever and corporate profits are in dream land.

Yet the passengers on the Teapublican Clown Bus would have us believe that “things have never been worse” and that the economy of this country is weak. One would think the Teapublicans would be a bit thriftier with their predictions and observations after erroneously predicting the demise of the republic with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and after calling in from illogical outer space that the decline and fall of America would occur should President Obama be re-elected.

But there is no room for truth, logic or, it would appear common sense, in the luggage compartment of the Teapublican Clown Bus. Indeed, the passengers seem ready to take the American people on a Ride to Nowhere.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 2, 2010

September has commenced and with it autumn beckons even as we brace ourselves during the midst of yet another hurricane season. The doors of schools are opening all over the country but none of us should take a moment’s pause from learning every day:

Sticks and Stones

I must confess that I do not make a habit of watching the Fox News Channel. Its motto is “Fair and Balanced” but all I ever encounter is vitriol being spewed at anything that does not mollify the right wing of the right wing, fairly balanced between diatribes and shrieks of rancor. But it is important to understand the full range of positions in this country and to learn what millions upon millions of Americans rely upon for their “news” and their points of view.

So I watched the Fox News summary of President Obama’s speech to the nation on the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. For the life of me I cannot tell you the details of the criticism leveled at President Obama because it was drowned out by cacophonous insult after insult. The level of critique was eerily reminiscent of a sixth grade schoolyard, one commentator saying “…..Obama looked like one of those nerds with a propeller beanie….” Another pseudo-pundit made fun of the way that President Obama folded his hands on the desk in the Oval Office.

I was struck by the fact that no one on Fox News referred to him as “President” Obama, he was either “Obama” or “Barack Hussein Obama”, but never “President” Obama. The reality of President Obama in the White House will be denied in some circles until time is no more.
And I was also very, very concerned that millions upon millions of Americans get their “news” and points of view from this source of artificial news.

And I think that the “change” that many of us sought in supporting Barack Obama may be very different than what we wanted. We may have expected a more open, caring and humane society. The “change” that we are getting is that adherents of the right wing of the right wing feel emboldened to show their true faces and the speak with their true voices.

The Koch brothers (the right wing of the right wing owners of Koch Industries who have been billion dollar bankrollers of the most insidious and odious attacks on democracy as we know it) can continue to hide behind their billion dollar curtains and drapes. There are more than enough emboldened zealots prepared to hold forth with their vision of America, a vision that does not include openness, caring or humanness. It is a very sad vision. It is a very dangerous vision.

Give Peace a Chance

This past week, Ms. Julie Menin, the chairperson of Community Board 1 in lower Manhattan wrote a very interesting op-ed piece in the New York Daily News. For those of you who have been in a cave for the past two month, Community Board 1 in lower Manhattan is the local organization that gave community approval for the construction of an Islamic cultural center that has a perceived proximity to the site of the World Trade Center.

This perceived proximity has, of course, been the source of tremendous controversy along with the revelation of a deep and pernicious vein of Islamophobia in the strata of political discourse in this country. And while the controversy continues to swirl, Ms. Menin has a very useful “compromise”.

She proposed that the cultural center be built as planned and at the chosen location. She also proposes that in addition to a mosque within the facility that there would also be a floor dedicated to an inter-faith, non-denominational space. The center would celebrate all faiths and inter-faith understanding.

Ms. Menin’s proposal is beautiful in its simplicity and in its appeal to be reason. We should watch the response to this beautiful simplicity and reasonable appeal.

Have a great weekend!