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 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 our contribution 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 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. Nevertheless, the passengers seem ready to take the American people on a ride to Nowhere.

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Romney’s Demolition Derby

One year ago the Teapublican Klown Car was full to capacity with the likes of Rick Perry and Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Saint Santorum. In Tampa the G.O.Tea Party turned the keys of the Klown Car over to Mitt Romney and he seems to be on a mission to conduct a one man demolition derby between now and November 6th. Every candidate makes a few gaffes. But to call Romney’s miscues gaffes is like calling the Grand Canyon a dip in the road.

Where does one begin? During the Teapublican snorefest in Tampa, the Romney campaign somehow permitted Clint Eastwood to engage in a part-demented, part-funny and part-sad performance art project just before Mr. Romney was supposed to give his long-awaited acceptance speech. The Romney campaign terms anything negative about its candidate a “distraction”. The Eastwoodpalooza certainly qualified as a distraction.

Last week the release of a video containing an intentionally obscene attack on Islam had tragic consequences. The ensuing rioting in the Middle East and Europe resulted in deaths and destruction including the death of the American ambassador to Libya. As the facts of multiple tragedies were being sorted out, Team Romney thought that this would be as good a time as any to attack President Obama.

The body of Ambassador Chris Stevens was (literally) not cold when Mitt Romney stood at the podium to term a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, intended to calm a riotous situation, as “an apology for American values” as well as a defense of the attackers of U.S. Embassy.

Of course, in typical Team Romney fashion they got it wrong. The statement was issues SIX HOURS BEFORE attacks anywhere. And it is not clear what “American values” Mitt Romney was defending. While free speech in this country does include the right to publish vile and offensive material, there is also a right to call that material vile and offensive.

It was pretty easy for Mitt Romney to play armchair quarterback in a campaign office thousands of miles away from the fray. By playing politics among the corpses of dead Americans and the wreckage of American facilities Mitt Romney managed to make himself even smaller in the eyes of many people who are watching him.

It is said that crises reveal people for who they are. If that is the case, Mr. Romney revealed himself as a calculating and appallingly opportunistic little man who is willing to exploit national crisis and tragedy for his own political gain.

But the Klown car careens on, with Mitt Romney wedged behind the wheel, unable to escape the collision with his own self. Because, this week Mother Jones released a video of Mitt Romney speaking at a private fundraiser in Florida, taped earlier this year.

Lulled into his comfort zone by the absence of the press and the presence of his fellow millionaires Mitt Romney stated the 47% of the American electorate who support President Obama lack personal responsibility, are dependent upon government and believe that they are entitled to things like healthcare, housing and food. Mr. Romney stated that his job was “not to worry about them” and to focus on Americans who support his small government, low tax agenda.

The gaping holes in his facts and his logic are large enough to drive his Klown car through over and over. The reality is that this country has evolved to a point where most people believe that Americans are indeed entitled to health care, housing…………..and food. This is a reality that the Romney-Ryan tag team plan to change.

It is so very clear that Mitt Romney has never personally known anyone who has lost their job and has had to rely on government assistance as a last resort. Mr. Romney has not seen the seemingly endless lines of job applicants when any company, factory or store announces that it is hiring. And Mr. Romney does not realize that the millions of elderly men and women who receive Social Security and Medicare benefits do not see themselves as dependent because they worked their entire lives and paid for the benefits for which they are now entitled.

We keep hearing that Mitt Romney is a “decent man” who has trouble connecting. The only problem – the Mitt Romney who tries to score political points during a national tragedy doesn’t seem very decent. And the Mitt Romney who writes off 47% of the electorate as being dependent and ill-suited for his Brave New World doesn’t seem very decent either.

And he isn’t even very nice to his dog.

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The Answer is No

At the end of last week President Obama announced that all American military personnel will leave Iraq by the end of this year. This news was greeted with expressions of relief and thanksgiving by most Americans, particularly members of the military and their families.

The war in Iraq has lasted nine years and was started under false pretenses (remember the nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction?) and blanketed with a web of lies (remember the fake relationship between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorists?). This godforsaken and misbegotten military adventure by George Bush, Dick Cheney and their neo-con enablers consumed close to a trillion dollars, over 4000 American lives and damaged/wounded/injured over 30,000 men and women. Untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives and their country will be recovering from the catastrophe of the war for decades.

In the “Weekend Edition” of Point of View I predicted that Republicans would immediately criticize and attack President Obama’s decision on finally ending the war on Iraq. The fact that he is following through on an exit plan that was put in place by George Bush is beside the point. The G.O.Tea Party is against anything done by anyone named Obama. Period.

This tactic of political nihilism has been consistent and degrades any sense of true discourse or exchange of rational ideas in this country. When Osama bin Laden was killed on the direct orders of President Obama, the eternally discredited Dick Cheney and the perpetually mistaken Condoleezza Rice proclaimed this executive action to be the direct result of the policies of the Bush Administration even though President Bush failed to pull the trigger when bin Laden could have been killed in Afghanistan in late 2001 and essentially gave up on capturing him for the balance of his administration.

The truly historic Arab Spring which has continued through the summer and fall neither was nor orchestrated by President Obama but his responses have turned out to be pitch perfect. Most analysts give the reason for the seismic changes in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Syria as being the result of indigenous movement and it was clearly important for the United States to be supportive but not to the extent that the Arab Spring ended up with a “Made In USA” label. The Obama Administration has been able to manage that balancing act to date.

Predictably, such noted foreign policy experts as Mitt Romney, John McCain and Michele Bachmann had been demanding direct U.S. intervention since early this year. It is now clear that such a policy would have been a blood-soaked mistake that could have made the Iraq misadventure look like a weekend excursion. Yet the G.O.Tea Party shamelessly peddles its message of ‘No” as if a negative is an answer to the problems of this country.

It is clear that the basic plank in the G.O.Tea Party political platform will be to remove Barack Obama as President of the United States. There are no unifying principles, there are no enlightening visions and certainly there is no decipherable philosophy. Their strategy is “drill, baby drill”. Drill into the American public and exploit the reservoirs of irrational hate and mindless distrust that have characterized too much of the opposition to President Obama.

It is that strategy which empowers the criticism of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq even when it is accomplished pursuant to the timetable and plan of George Bush. It makes it possible for the Republicans to ignore the relief experienced by the millions of men and women who have served in the military and their families – men and women who have been asked to die and suffer grievously fighting a war that never needed to be fought.

It is also the strategy of “No” and eternal negativity which permits a “serious” candidate like Rodeo Rick Perry to state this week that there has been no definitive resolution regarding the birthplace of President Obama. As a presidential candidate Governor Perry is free to criticize the policies and actions of the Obama Administration, although it would be helpful if he would share an original and intelligent thought or two with the public.

For Rodeo Rick Perry to drill down to the well of (very) thinly-disguised racism in questioning whether Barack Obama is a “real American” is despicable and symbolizes everything that is wrong about the campaign(s) against the president. It degrades the entire political process and makes it almost impossible for any rational exchange to take place regarding the serious issues of the day.

Clearly the G.O.Tea Party is against anything done by anyone named Obama. The fact that it may be something desired by Americans or good for this country is irrelevant on the Planet Tea Party. When it comes to Barack Obama the answer is “No”.

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Slipping Into Darkness

The swirl of the endless news cycles takes on an almost kaleidoscopic effect as we endeavor to make sense out of events and statements that simply make no sense. Is it true that Donald Trump, who became a parody of himself years ago, could be considered by some to be a serious candidate for President? Apparently the answer is a nerve jangling “yes”.

The Center for Disease Control reports that on an annual basis 76 million Americans will be sickened by food that they eat, 300,000 will be hospitalized and 5000 will die. Yet, one of the results of the budget “compromise” of a few weeks ago was that $10 million that funds food inspection will be cut from the federal budget. Clearly no sense is making sense in this parallel universe in which we find ourselves.

However, if we take a moment to consider the import and meaning of this constant flow of information we find that we have a right to feel unsettled and unbalanced. There are powerful political forces at work in this country, some marching under the banner of the G.O.Tea Party, but not all of them.

These forces are determined to carve, pare and eviscerate local, state and federal governments so that they will be able to provide only the most basic services – defense, fire and police protection and a bare modicum of education.

Expenditures on the aspects of government that define a society – healthcare, comprehensive education, social services for those in need, infrastructure, protection of the environment, preservation and support of culture and the arts – all would be severely reduced, privatized or eliminated in the brave new world proclaimed by too many already. And too often the response from centrists, progressives and the left wing of the left wing is garbled and muted at best.

The entire notion that those with wealth and privilege also have a responsibility to the greater society has been turned on its ear. Too many of the wealthy and the privileged have found their voices and their reason for being – to preserve and safeguard their wealth and privileges from the grasping and shameless hands of the poor and needy and the government that supports them.

The fact that large corporations now hire hundreds and spend millions in order to find a way to avoid paying taxes is public knowledge.
If we take a moment to ask where all of this is leading, we may not like the answer.

The fact is that this country is prepared to spend blood and treasure on an endless series of endless wars with no direct relationship to the security or safety of its citizens. Yet this same country is not prepared to invest the billions of needed dollars for education, infrastructure, environmental protection and the development of alternative energy strategies.

This stampede towards stupidity is not without consequence. This country is growing poorer and weaker and less educated and less healthy by the moment. The neglect and consequent decay of the infrastructure is ignored at great risk to future generations that the G.O.Tea Party claims to revere by reducing the budget deficit.

And I wonder how future generations will feel about receiving a bequest of antiquated railroads and airports, leaking water and sewage systems, inadequate energy supplies, collapsing highways and wretched schools.

Historians will look back on this time and wonder how it could be possible that over 300 million could collectively embraces policies that contained the seeds of their downfall. Multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya with no funds for schools, bridges, airports, education or healthcare seems like a recipe for domestic disaster. And it is.

As citizens in this country we have a right to consider the entire spectrum of political thought and philosophy. However, as citizens of this country we also have the right to speak out against cruelly cynical and selfish philosophies that will eliminate even the glimmer of the promise of hope for current and future generations if they are fully implemented. And even as you read this column this edifice of idiocy is being constructed brick by stupid brick.

Slogans and sound bites have replaced serious thought. Skill at marketing ideas seems to triumph over logic and basic principles of self-preservation.

It is never too late until it is too late and it is getting late early.

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Weekend Edition – April 22, 2011

Easter and Passover are being observed as this week comes to an end. We also observe that John McCain is in Libya calling the anti-Gaddafi rebels his “heroes”. Really? A great circus movie, “Water for Elephants” opens this weekend but it is being eclipsed by the Republican circus featuring clowns for candidates. And by the time you finish reading this column the price of gasoline will have been raised again. Just another week on the Planet Earth.

Send in the Clowns (Part I)

There has been tremendous pressure on the Obama Administration to do more to support the rebels who are waging a war against Muammar Gaddafi that is not going well for them. Clearly, in response to this pressure a decision has been made to send in the clowns.

That can be the only explanation for the sudden appearance of Senator John McCain. He landed in Libya earlier today and immediately announced that the insurgents were his “heroes”.

One wonders if his dimming memory recalls American support of the mujahedeen in their battle in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. They were also the “heroes” of inveterate jingoists like John McCain.

Of course, these “heroes” morphed into the Taliban (who are killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan) and Al Qaeda (which is responsible for 9/11 amongst countless terrorist incursions around the world).

The Libyan rebels may be noble Washingtonians and Jeffersonians for all we know. Or they could be the spiritual cousins of Osama bin Laden. The point is we just don’t know. And John McCain certainly doesn’t know.

This might not be the best time for the United States to get entangled in another alliance that leaves bite marks on its posterior.

Send in the Clowns (Part II)

It is safe to assume that the Republican Party will run a candidate for President in 2012. It is also safe to assume that the right wing of the right wing and the G.O.Tea Party element of the Republican cohorts will ensure that this candidate will be against healthcare, environmental protection, taxes and abortion. What this candidate will be for is open to speculation.

In looking at the array of potential candidates it would seem that the greatest danger facing Barack Obama is complacency and overconfidence. Donald Trump swears that he would make a great Chief Executive. But The Donald may have to contend with the hundreds of not so silent contractors who built his New Jersey casinos and never got paid and the thousands of sullen holders of bonds in various Trump enterprises who lost every penny in the multiple Trump bankruptcies during the past two decades.

Sarah Palin is probably eternally discredited after her misbegotten star turn in the Tucson Massacre aftermath and Mitt Romney is without a political (or moral) compass and cannot recant his Mormon religion, thereby disqualifying himself in the eyes of the powerful Christian evangelical sector of the right wing of the right wing.

Only Michelle Bachman takes Michelle Bachman seriously and Herman Cain has yet to demonstrate how being the CEO of a chain of pizza shops qualifies him to be President of the United States.

There are other would be aspirants – they remind me of the circus car with an endless number of clowns exiting the doors of what appears to be a compact. The G.O.Tea Party has clearly taken on the challenge of entertaining the America public instead of challenging the American public with new ideas and emergent policies.

Gas Pains

As you read this column the price of gasoline is going over $4.00 per gallon across the country. Republicans, pundits and ordinary citizens have joined in a chorus to demand that President Obama “do something” about these rising fuel prices.

In response he has directed Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate any instances of fraud, collusion, speculation or price-fixing. That pretty much describes day to day operations in the oil industry.

Of course, when President Obama has proposed sustainable energy alternatives and conservation strategies he has been opposed by many of the same Republicans, pundits and ordinary citizens that now want him to “do something”.

Perhaps magic is what they have in mind.

Have a great weekend!

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Weekend Edition – April 8, 2011

The weekend begins with another nuclear catastrophe being barely avoided in Japan while the Congress has the entire country teetering on the brink of another kind of catastrophe, this time totally manmade as the federal budget impasse threatens to bring this country to a grinding halt. And what is the response of the right wing? Let’s take another look at Barack Obama’s birth certificate! The lunatics have slipped their leashes and are on the loose.

Cruel but not so unusual….

As you read this column the federal government is at the brink of a shutdown engineered by the right wing of the right wing of the G.O.Tea Party in Congress that is insisting upon draconian cuts that will impact on everything and everyone from Planned Parenthood to National Public Radio to homeless veterans.

In adopting this scorched earth version of negotiation, these avatars of social pain and relentless injustice are willing to shut down the federal government even if that means that all Americans will suffer, including the spouses and children of military personnel who are fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere at this very moment. The mirror has not been made that can withstand the visage of these twenty first century fanatics.

They have cloaked their social agenda with budgetary robes. But it is clear to any keen eye that it is not the budget that is out of balance in their eyes. The right wing of the right wing is focused on the imbalances in governmental priorities that deem social services for all citizens to be important instead of continuously glorifying and enabling the endless accumulation of infinite wealth.

The use of words is very important in a society with so many forms of communication. Employing the word “entitlements” to refer providing social services to the citizens of this country is a tactic which is meant to invoke thoughts of undeserved and unearned privileges. Parents warn their children against feeling “entitled” and teach their sons and daughters that they must earn what they receive.

By using the term “entitlements” the right wing of the right wing seeks to demonize the recipients of social services as being undeserving of the unearned services and benefits that they receive. And, of course, these services and benefits are derived from the beneficent largesse of the tax-oppressed billionaires, millionaires and corporate plutocrats who have already suffered much too much.

Tax “relief” for the wealthiest people on the planet and reduction of “entitlements” for those in need of services are the lines of demarcation within which the budgetary battles take place. We have now entered a Dada phase of politics in America where no sense makes sense.

Birther Redux

Sometimes stupidity persists to the point that it seems to be immortal. But typically, stupidity has its Achilles heel – the truth.

In the midst of budget crises, wars and revolts from Libya to the Ivory Coast to Afghanistan to Mexico, while we are wondering if the next rainstorm will contain radiation courtesy of the disaster in Japan, Donald Trump and other half-wits are willing to content themselves with beating the dead horse known as the Obama Birth Certificate Controversy.

In point of fact there has never been a controversy over the site of Barack Obama’s birth. Yet the same people who brought you the Swift boats and the resurrection of Elvis Presley would have you believe that there is some real doubt regarding President Obama’s birthplace, the notion being that if he wasn’t born in America then he shouldn’t be President and his entire presidency is, therefore illegitimate.

I can only wish that The Donald and Mike Huckabee and all the other bearers of this tattered and stained banner of lies would use the internet. Barack Obama’s website has been online for over three years. Here it is again http://www.fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate
These clowns won’t let something like the truth get in the way of a good lie, but at least we know that these clowns are lying.

Have a great weekend!

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Weekend Edition – April 1, 2011

The weekend begins with April Fool’s Day and, incredibly enough, more birther madness. Barack Obama has been President of the United States for two years and 2 ½ months and there are still some people who just can’t let it go – “this must be a mistake” is their line of reasoning.

Meanwhile we continue to try to make sense of the Libyan conundrum and the slippery slope to which it leads even as the fiscal conservatives on the right wing of the right wing are notably silent about the cost of this venture.

Birther Madness —Really??

This week we were subjected to the renowned genealogical expert Donald Trump proclaiming that there are “serious questions” regarding the location of Barack Obama’s birth. He falsely stated that President Obama’s birth certificate has not been made available to the public (it has been online for three years).

Presumably, on the Planet Trump “reasonable people” have a right to question Barack Obama’s place of birth without a shred of evidence to support that question – and presumably these “reasonable people” can also question legitimacy of his presidency rather than consider the policies and accomplishments of his Administration.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Trump brought his own birth certificate to one of his endless series of television appearances. Interestingly enough, the document that he brought was not an official birth certificate – he brought a document that stated that he was born at Jamaica Hospital in New York, but an OFFICIAL birth certificate in New York City can only be issued by the New York City Health Department – and he did not bring that birth certificate.

Perhaps The Donald is laying the groundwork for a new television show, “The Secret Alien”.

The Libyan Conundrum

At the beginning of the week President Obama addressed the nation to explain the policy underlying American military intervention in Libya. The president was eloquent and factual and referred to the prevention of a human tragedy in Libya if the United States had not intervened, working in concert with its NATO allies.

Barack Obama was elected to make the hard decisions that few of us would aspire to consider, much less make. The commitment of military personnel and resources should never be taken lightly. The Defense Department estimates that $600 million dollars has been spent so far and that the upcoming tab will be in the neighborhood of $40 million per day.

There are CIA operatives in Libya now and sadly, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before there are American casualties to add to the mounting number of Libyan dead and wounded.

Accepting President Obama’s sliding scale for applying military solutions, it is still not clear as to what this country should do in Syria where there is a revolt brewing at this very moment and the Assad family that rules the government shows no signs of leaving.

And what about Egypt, where revolt is simmering again as the promise of revolution has not been realized with the departure of Hosni Mubarak?

And, as we have noted before, what about Cote d’Ivoire where the head of state, the loser of an election in November has simply refused to leave, precipitating a civil war with civilian deaths being recorded every day? And what about Zimbabwe and Yemen?

This is the slippery slope that beckons. We can only hope that the president treads carefully.

Budget Mystery

As the Libyan conflict has played out there has been little, if any concern expressed by the right wing of the right wing regarding the cost of this expedition.

As noted, over $600 million has been spent to date with no ceiling or final price tag.
Nevertheless, the same fiscal conservatives who have proposed to defund Head Start and food stamp programs along with NPR have expressed no criticism of President Obama spending hundreds of millions of dollars without explicit Congressional approval for a military purpose.

The irony is certainly self-evident. Enough said.

Have a great weekend!

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