Point of View Columns

A Race to the Precipice

This country has now reached that tragic and fearful moment where no sense makes sense. When madness is cloaked in normality there are no more norms, there are no more traditions and most importantly, there are no more laws that need to be observed, much less obeyed.

It has been part of the bedrock of American mythology that the Constitution is a wondrous document created by white slave owners and their enablers. That is certainly an overstatement but the Constitution has served as the governing document for these United States for over two centuries – a Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

And then along came Trump.

It should be made clear that Trump is not an evil genius – so comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, etc. are way off base. Trump is the symptom of a malady that has been coursing through the American body politic since the founding of the Republic. A nation which embraced epic genocide and massive land theft in the name of a white EuroAmerican supremacist concept of manifest destiny does not all of a sudden become well.

A country which embraced race based chattel slavery and then countenanced race based discrimination and injustice for centuries does not all of a sudden become well.

A country which to this very day embraces the concept of a second class of citizenship for all women does not all of a sudden become well.

There have been efforts at recovery to be sure. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were a good start – of sorts. But all the good will that gave rise to that good start were trampled in the rubble resulting from the deconstruction of Reconstruction.

In the modern era we have seen reparations for Japanese Americans, Supreme Court decisions affirming the basic inhumanity of state-based segregation and the President of the United State proclaiming that “we shall overcome” as he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and then signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But much in the same way that some therapeutic treatments result in negative side effects, those steps towards something resembling progress revived and restored the malady of racism and supremacy. The therapy of progress created the side effects of a renewed commitment to advancing fake grievances and revived opposition to the notion of liberty and justice for some.

As this nation seemed to progress to some semblance of a better state the side effects festered and grew stronger antibodies to that progress. The Republicans did not help with their dog whistle politics, stirring this toxic brew of racism, sexism and supremacy with calls for “Law and Order” and Willie Horton ads.

Barack Obama became president and the dam broke. The streams and rivers of race hatred and misogyny in this country became a flood – Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, the Tea Party were all further symptoms that the progressive vaccine was not working and the side effects had now become the malady that has been raging through this country.

And then along came Trump. It was more his megalomania that his falsely reputed skills as a marketer which brought him to the fore as the leader of a movement, indeed a crusade, to reclaim America in the cause of white male supremacy. He clearly craves attention like an addict needs his next fix and Trump discovered that he could not only get attention, he could receive adulation for spouting principles that he barely comprehends.

And now, after six years of overdosing on adulation, the favorite drug of megalomaniacs, he simply cannot turn it loose. Unfortunately for the people of America there is no rehab clinic for megalomaniac presidents and as a result Trump gets to play out this insane tragicomic opera of setting the world on fire as he resists losing his drug dealer – the drug dealer being the adoring MAGA hat-wearing citizens of Trump Nation.

And so as far at Trump is concerned, the Constitution is just a piece of parchment. For Trump presidential traditions are incomprehensible and meaningless. And if he sets the world on fire with reckless international actions it matters not to this man.

The question for Republicans and other Trump supporters is this – are antiabortion judges and massive tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the history of the planet worth the systemic dysfunction that Trump has brought about? Are the gutting of environmental protections of the air that we all breathe in the name of even more profit and the stamping out of even the pretensions of racial progress and gender equality worth turning the governmental apparatus of this nation into wreckage, perhaps beyond repair?

No one can truly know how this is going to end.

What we do know is that this madness will not end on January 20, 2021.

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Prelude to Impeachment

Since the evening of the  very day day he was inaugurated as President of the United States on January 19, 2009, the opposition to Barack Obama has sought to delegitimize his presidency, obstruct his administration all the while dismissing his achievements and exaggerating his missteps. The results have been mixed. President Obama was reelected by a sizeable vote in 20012. Today his poll numbers are at an all-time low. On the Planet Teapublican that means it is time to play the Impeachment Card.

Only two American presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton (Richard Nixon narrowly escaped almost certain impeachment and subsequent conviction by resigning and fleeing the White House in disgrace). It is worth noting that neither impeachment resulted in conviction, leading to the slightly obvious conclusion that these proceedings were politically motivated rather than being inspired by actual “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The politically charged atmosphere of the Obama Administration where the clouds of  negative ions are almost visible, it should come as no surprise that Teapublicans are feeling more empowered to use the “I” word every day. Of course it is hard to bring impeachment proceedings just because his very presence in the White House offends the racial and political sensibilities of his opposition. That is where the Prelude to Impeachment becomes a part of the always rickety and forever bizarre Teapublican strategy.

While highly respected constitutional scholars like Sarah Palin and Darrell Issa have opined that there are already grounds to impeach President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner has settled on a game plan that begins with the House of Representatives filing a lawsuit against the president. The basis for this lawsuit appears to center around the use of executive orders and the president exercising his discretion in the face of historic Congressional inaction.

It must be noted that lawsuits have been filed by Congress against the President in years past. But this planned lawsuit must be seen within the context of a six year campaign to get Barack Obama out of the White House by any means necessary.

The “birther” mania, while brainless and idiotic, was given CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation through nuance, implication and inference by the likes of John Boehner, Mitt Romney and other “serious Teapublicans”, to say nothing of the braying of Donald Trump, the screeching of Sarah Palin and the caterwauling of Michele Bachmann. Even the dimmest of these dim bulbs have always known that the “birther” strategy was not going to work, but it represented a few grains of hope on the hard scrabble earth of truth and reality.

Now there is some real sustenance for the meat eaters on the right. A lawsuit sounds sane and reasonable and it involves real lawyers and real judges – nothing nutty like questioning the provenance of a birth certificate. A lawsuit by the United States Congress sounds reality-based and if it wasn’t in the sixth year of the Obama Era, it might possible that there would be a credible basis for legal action.

But this is the sixth year of the Obama Era and it is hard to separate the delegitimizing efforts of these six years from this proposed lawsuit. The fact that law school professors and other “scholars” have supported the notion of this lawsuit misses the point.

The proposed lawsuit is a clear Prelude to Impeachment. The Teapublican strategy can be described as follows:
1. File a lawsuit against President Obama claiming that he has overstepped his constitutional boundaries.
2. Tie up the Obama Administration and the media attention for the next few months.
3. Await the 2014 election results.
4. Regardless results of the election and the lawsuit commence impeachment proceedings in 2015.
5. Tie up the Obama Administration and media attention for all of 2015.
6. Even with the likely event that President Obama will not be convicted even if he is impeached, leave President Obama as the lamest of lame ducks in 2016 with his legacy forever tarnished.

This is the Teapublican strategy which, if you will notice, does nothing to address the economy, the environment, the infrastructure, immigration reform or healthcare. All that this strategy represents is the last major assault by the Teapublicans against President Obama. A last gasp, if you will.

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Weekend Edition – October 18, 2013

During the past week in Washington we were witness to a commemoration of heroism and also some craven, low grade behavior. Let’s take the high road. Meanwhile the D.C. Demolition Derby occasioned by the Teapublican Reign of Error clearly demonstrated something that has been obvious for a long time – the spirit of the Confederacy is alive and well and residing in the Teapublican Party. And finally, “Twelve Years as a Slave” is opening in movie theaters across the country – and as we go see this film we should remember that slavery is also alive and well throughout the world.

The Reward for Valor?

This past week President Obama awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Captain (Ret.) William Swenson for his bravery and valor during an incredible battle in Afghanistan. Putting issues of this country’s foreign policy aside for the moment, there is no doubt that when one reads the account of Captain Swenson’s actions it is impossible not to be moved by his incredible courage and compassion in the most lethal of situations.

Here’s the thing – Captain Swenson is applying to be reinstated to active duty because………….he is unemployed. Incredibly, in a country where so many armchair war hawks and beer drinking flag wavers whoop and holler about “honoring our troops” that not one corporate titan couldn’t find the spare change rolling around in one of his offshore accounts to make sure that Captain Swenson never had to work another day in his life should he so choose.

The Romans and the Greeks and the Zulus used to honor their war heroes. It appears that here in the United States they get a hearty handshake and a medal.

Enough said.

Crouching Elephant, Hidden Dixie

During the Teapublican Reign of Error that just ended (for the moment) it was obvious that the tail wagging the Teapublican elephant was Southern in origin. With the exception of House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Minnesota) and Congressman Steve King (Iowa), just about every talking head was from one of the former Confederate States of America.

It is well documented that upon the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, white Democrats in the South deserted that party and fled to the waiting pachyderm that used to be the Republican Party and is now clearly the Teapublican Party. That these Southerners, these sour souvenirs of a damnable past, would now try to dismantle all the social progress that has been made since the end of the Civil War is no longer a secret.

The Southern Teapublican zealots are hell bent on turning back the clock and the tide of history and they seem to be wedded to the same suicidal strategy that resulted in Atlanta, Richmond and most of the South being razed in 1864. And in the process these sociopathic ideologues are willing to bring down the entire country in the process of achieving there damnable goals.

There is only one way to describe this crew – they are 21st century terrorists, plain and simple. And, as they have shown, they are capable of wreaking more damage than all the jihadist terrorists around the world in their wildest dreams.

Is it Time to Free the Slaves?

This week “Twelve Years as a Slave” is scheduled to appear in theaters across the United States. Reviews state that it is the most compelling and painfully accurate rendition of American slavery to ever appear in a feature film. Much like “Schindler’s List”, “Twelve Years as a Slave” promises to be a teachable moment for all American, black and white.

However, lest we think that the modern era is more advanced, the Global Slavery Index 2013, which is compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, estimates that there are 30 million people worldwide who are living under conditions of modern slavery. Some of the largest numbers of slaves, according to this study, are to be found in India and China. Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan had the highest number of slaves relative to the population of those countries.

Clearly, as a species, human beings have a long way to go.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Weekend Edition – June 21, 2013

It is been a hectic few week for the Teapublican Krazy Kweens – Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. One is coming back and one is going back. Meanwhile the Teapublican Krazy Kings in the Congress have redefined the word “Neanderthal” in their views towards women. And last, but certainly not least, it turns out that the Teapublican strategy to save America includes a work requirement for food stamps.  

Hello and Goodbye

A few months ago Fox News mercifully reported that Sarah Palin’s contract would not be renewed and the American people would be liberated from having to watch her pincer assault on common sense and good taste. During her ill-fated tenure as a commentator on Fox News Sarah Palin contributed less than nothing to rational, intelligent and useful discourse on American political issues.

But Fox giveth, and Fox taketh away. This past week it was announced that the Grizzly Mom is returning to Fox News and that she will continue pirouetting her way around anything that might even resemble the truth.

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann, the Krazy Kween with the faraway look in her eyes announced that she will not run for reelection in 2014. Which begs the question, if the citizens of a congressional district would vote for Michele Bachmann, isn’t it possible that may elect someone worse?

The Syrian government may have killed as many as 90,000 of its citizens during the past two years. The current regime is blood soaked and tyrannical and is clearly opposed by a significant portion of the Syrian population. And while there is no doubt that the current regime should be dumped in the trash bin of history, there is a lot of doubt as to what, or who, should replace it.

Alley Oop

Given the recent behavior by the male Teapublicans in the United States Congress it would appear that they actually believe in a version of reverse evolution – growing dumber and more coarse by the moment. Remember that this is the party of “actual rape”, transvaginal wands and shaming rooms in abortion clinics.

Now they have outdone themselves by proposing legislation that endeavors to nullify Roe v. Wade and leave women with no reproductive choice whatsoever. One of the more shameful aspects of this Teapublican episode is that only six Teapublicans did not vote in favor of the referenced legislation. And while this legislation will never pass the Senate and would be vigorously vetoed by President Obama, it is a sure bet that the legislation will be dragged out of the misogynous slime where it was created by Teapublicans time and time again.

And it is interesting to note that these so-called “pro-life” zealots are against reproductive choices for women but slice away at every social service program that will help the people (children who will become adults) who are in this country because a woman exercised her reproductive rights to have a child.

The result of the proposed severe restrictions on reproductive rights will be more unwanted pregnancies. In that context, the result of draconian Teapublican austerity measures will certainly result in more misery for more Americans.

Will Work for Food

In their never ending attempt to spew forth cruelty disguised as budgetary austerity, this past week the Teapublicans proposed draconian cuts to the food stamp program. For good measure they also included a work requirement as a part of the food stamp program.

Aside from the fact that a lot of people are receiving food stamps because they can’t find work there is also the slimy feel of self-righteousness about this proposal. Because there is a clear assumption that anyone seeking the assistance must be a con artist disguised as a hungry child or an elderly woman.

There will always be individuals who will seek to take advantage of charity but that is simply no reason to soak the social safety nets in the waters of meanness.

Have a great weekend!

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Weekend Edition – March 29, 2013

This week we learned that Michele Bachmann is under investigation for violating campaign law. It is possible that more charges will be added. Meanwhile, every day that the sequestration collar tightens on the American economy we find ourselves headed towards a true cliff. And finally, Nelson Mandela was hospitalized this week and thankfully is recovering. Perhaps other leaders throughout Africa will start to look at him as a model and not only an icon.

Michele Bachmann’s Real Crimes

The news reports from this week revealed that Representative Michele Bachmann is under federal investigation for campaign law violations during her bizarre and clownish campaign for president in 2012. What may be more interesting are the crimes for which she is not being investigated.

Fortunately for Ms. Bachmann there is no law against mangling the English language or distorting the facts until they bear no resemblance to the truth. Fortunately for her there is no law against repeatedly lying about the President of the United States and there is no law against being ridiculous.

If there were laws like these she would be in the process of being fitted for a nice orange jumpsuit right now.

On the Brink

Every day during the past four weeks that the sequestration scenario started to play out there has been a gradual tightening of the noose around the neck of the American economy and the American people. Grover Norquist infamously says that he would like to shrink government to a size that it can be drowned in a bathtub. And he may just get his wish.

Just this past week it was announced that 173 air traffic control towers in smaller airports across the country will be closed. Every day there are reports of the further reduction of the government workforce which, of course, means the further reduction of services provided to the American people.

In Durban, South Africa this week the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) met to discuss economic development and investment in infrastructure. They met to discuss a progressive plan for the future – a plan that envisions growth and a better way of life for the citizens who live in the BRICS countries.

Meanwhile in the USA, the supposed leading nation in the world, the prevailing narrative speaks of austerity, the need to do less with less. The fear of the future is palpable and it is that fear and shortsightedness that is moving this country closer and closer to the brink of true decline.

Grover Norquist and the Teapublican terrorists should be very happy.

Mandela

When you go to the dictionary or Google and look up the word “icon” you would not be surprised if a picture of Nelson Mandela. His iconic biography is the stuff of true legend and he deserves every honor that has been bestowed upon him.

It is important, however, to remember that Nelson Mandela is also a revolutionary leader. Indeed, he is one of only two successful revolutionary leaders in modern history to freely relinquish power (the other being George Washington).

Mr. Mandela realized that the democratization process in South Africa could not be built on a foundation created by a cult of personality, no matter how admirable and honorable that personality might be. By safeguarding the free and lawful transfer of power to his elected successor, Thabo Mbeki, Mr. Mandela set in place a tradition that almost has to be observed by South Africans for generations to come.

The leaders of too many African states should consider the Mandela Model. Too many of these leaders have stayed in power for decades stunting the democratization process and strangling progressive measures in society through their overbearing personality cults.

Nelson Mandela is more than an icon; he should be a role model for anyone who presumes to lead a country in Africa or anywhere else in this world.

Happy Easter and have a great weekend!

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What Didn’t Happen on Election Day

For supporters of Barack Obama 11.6.12 was a good and great day. That Barack Obama was elected president for a second term was truly historic. He became on the 7th president in history to win two terms by more than 50% and the first since Franklin Roosevelt. November 6th was also the day that Mitt Romney lost giving Ann Romney much needed time to attend to her dressage horses. And Alan West lost meaning that he will probably be joining the cast of chuckleheads at Fox News real soon. But what didn’t happen on Election Day is also very important.

It is now almost a given that a defeated and chastened Republican Party will recognize that it is time for a new and more inclusive attitude. We have been led to believe that rising phoenix-like out of the ashes of defeat that the Republican Party, with leaders like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Nicky Haley, will build a bigger tent while muzzling the Neanderthals and misogynists who seem to lurk in every Teapublican gathering.

What sounds like wishful thinking also ignores the history of the Republican Party over the past fifty years. Until 1960 the legacy of Lincoln and the presence of influential progressives combined with the vicious racism of Southern Democrats resulted in significant support of the Republican Party by black Americans. Indeed, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon pretty much split the black vote down the middle in their historic confrontation in 1960.

In 1964 Barry Goldwater secured the Republican nomination for president and part of his personal platform was opposition to the Civil Rights Act. In 1968 Richard Nixon was elected as the Republican nominee for president his success due in large part to his pursuit of a “Southern Strategy”. Put simply, this “strategy” entailed attracting disaffected southern white men who hated the notion of civil rights, minority rights, inclusion and racial and gender equality.

Since 1968 the Republicans have had a pretty good run winning every presidential election but one from 1968 to 1992. Over that time the Republican Party has turned black Republicans into a rare and exotic species and has become the haven for refined racism, the Radical Right, neoconservatives and evangelical zealots.

However, since 1992 the electoral scoreboard is a little more evenhanded. Democrats have four of the last six presidential elections and right now their prospects for 2016 are fuzzy at best. On 11.6.12 Barack Obama won 93% of the black vote, 55% of the female vote and 73% of the Latino vote. National demographics don’t paint a pretty picture for the Republicans going forward.

But one should never underestimate the passion of zealots. The right wing of the right wing has been embedding itself into American politics for almost fifty years. The sting of losing the White House – again – is softened by the fact that the Republican Party still controls the House of Representatives by a sizable margin and the Senate is still not filibuster proof. There are currently 29 Republican governors in the United States and the serpent that is the right wing of the right wing remains coiled around state legislatures from coast to coast.

And it should be noted that at the state and local level the right wing of the right wing is much more strident, virulent and radical than anything that we may have heard from the likes of Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. And at the state and local level of government we are seeing legislative initiatives that will continue to restrict the reproductive rights of women, the rights of immigrants and access to everything from healthcare to civil rights.

What didn’t happen on 11.6.12 is that the right wing of the right wing of the Teapublican Party did not melt and disappear like the Wicked Witch of the West. A better analogy would be to liken the right wing of the right wing to Jason of “Halloween” movie fame who never seems to die.

On January 21, 2013 millions of Americans and millions more around the world will celebrate the second inauguration of Barack Obama. But it is more important than ever to realize and recognize that the right wing of the right wing may have lost the battle of 2012 but is more intent than ever on winning the war. The battle continues.

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The Consequences of the Truth

Teapublican supporters of Mitt Romney, including Fox News, have touted his primary debate experience as a key advantage in his upcoming debates with President Obama. If verbal jousting with the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain are helping to make Mitt Romney better, then he is in worse shape than current polls already indicate.

There may be some infinitesimal mathematical possibility that trading barbs with Saint Santorum of the Sweater Vest will turn out to be an advantage for Romney in Denver and beyond. What is more likely is that at some point during these debates Mitt Romney is going to have to actually answer a question with the truth.

It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to figure that Mr. Romney will be asked about his alternative plan to the Obama administration’s policy in the Middle East after all of the criticism expressed by the Teapublican nominee. Mr. Romney has mentioned the assertion of American strength, American values and the American economy as being some kind of fix-all solution. But what, exactly, does that mean?

It is inevitable that Mitt Romney will be asked about his woeful and grotesque remarks about the 47% of the American population that he described as dependent and refusing to accept responsibility. Mr. Romney has acknowledged that his comments were “inelegant”, so what, exactly, is an elegant way of insulting half the American population?

Mr. Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have repeatedly asserted that they have a plan that will fix the American economy for decades to come. When asked for details Mr. Ryan has said that he doesn’t have time to give the American people the math. Mr. Romney has been even more opaque. But how can tax cuts for the wealthy be revenue neutral without a major negative economic impact on middle and lower income Americans, including increased taxes and diminished services?

Mr. Romney campaigned in the Teapublican primary with a promise to repeal Obamacare on “day one” of a Romney presidency. When questioned most recently he stated that he would retain key elements of Obamacare including the right of Americans with pre-existing illnesses to get health insurance. More recently he has stated that he thought that emergency room care was a useful alternative to Obamacare. What, exactly, can the American people expect from what Jon Huntsman has described as a well-lubricated weather vane named Mitt Romney?

During the Teapublican primary season Mr. Romney participated in a group demonization of Barack Obama. It seemed that during the Teapublican Klown Karnival the only valid talking point was that anything and everything associated with Barack Obama is bad. Mitt Romney showed himself to be adept at appealing to the baser instincts of the right wing of the right wing, from the anti-immigration zealots to the mental misfits known as birthers.

But now, in the general election, Mr. Romney has to actually explain himself. Does he really believe in self-deportation, a concept that started out as a satirical comedy bit on a California radio station? Does he really believe that it is an option as to whether evolution should be taught in the schools of America?

And, starting Wednesday, Mr. Romney will discover that he cannot answer every question by blaming Barack Obama. Does he really believe that there should be no medical coverage for contraception and that Planned Parenthood should be defunded? Does he agree with his running mate’s filing of several legislative measures that would outlaw abortion even in the case of rape or incest? What can mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and young girls expect from a Romney administration?

Mr. Romney has suggested that college students can borrow money from their financially challenged parents as an alternative to federal aid. He has opposed the federal bailout of the automobile industry which saved over one million American jobs. He has also opposed regulation of the financial services industry which managed to precipitate the near collapse of the global economy just a few short years ago.

There are a lot of questions for Mr. Romney to answer which cannot begin or end with his Blame Obama chant. He has been self-described as inelegant in his presentation. Paul Ryan has called him inarticulate. The London Olympic Committee has a few more names for him.

On Wednesday it may be time to break out the popcorn.

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Weekend Edition – September 28, 2012

Marie Antoinette has nothing on Mitt Romney and his “let them use the emergency room” response to healthcare for uninsured Americans. Meanwhile hopeful Teapublicans are touting Mr. Romney’s primary debate experience as a plus going into his debate with President Obama next week. They must be kidding. And meanwhile, Paul Lyin’ Ryan, the other 2/3 of the Teapublican presidential ticket seems to be hedging his bets more than a little bit.
Mr. Marie Antoinette

Mitt Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare as soon as he is inaugurated as president. “On Day One”, is Mr. Romney’s pet phrase. When asked what would happen to the over 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured and will be insured by Obamacare in the near future, Mr. Romney channeled his inner Marie
Antoinette.

He actually pointed to the fact that there are plenty of emergency rooms in hospitals all over the country as a viable alternative. The mystery is really that callous or is he just that out of touch with fragile nature of this nation’s healthcare system.

It is difficult to believe that a serious candidate for president would suggest that emergency rooms represent a viable healthcare strategy. And while we can be sure that Mr. and Mrs. Romney have not spent a lot of time in urban emergency rooms, it is still difficult to believe that a serious candidate for president would consign the sick, the elderly and children to emergency rooms for their primary care.

By the way, Marie Antoinette never actually said “let them eat cake”, but it is true that Mitt Romney has said “let them use the emergency rooms”.

Moving up to the Big Leagues

As the first presidential debate approaches, remaining Romney supporters are touting their candidate’s extensive primary debate experience as a reason why he will do well in Denver on October 3rd and beyond. They can’t be serious.

While Mr. Romney did indeed engage in twenty debates during the primary season, does anyone think that participating in a Klown Karnival qualifies as preparation for debating President Obama on the issues of the day? While practice is important, the level of competition is a critical factor.

Perhaps the Romneyites forget that one of Mr. Romney’s opponents couldn’t even remember his own talking points – Rick “Oops” Perry. Or that Michele Bachmann is at best delusional and may actually be in need of medical supervision – her claim that HPV vaccine causes mental retardation comes to mind.

Other Teapublican candidates that Mitt Romney vanquished included Herman Cain who admitted to having things “twirling around in his head” and Newt Gingrich who thinks that colonizing the moon is a good idea.

And we can’t forget Rick Santorum whose self-righteousness might have been attractive during the Inquisition but doesn’t come off so well in the 21st century. And, rounding out this less than impressive list of debate opponents was Ron Paul who played the part of the cranky old man at all of the debates.

If anyone on the Romney team thinks that debating these Klowns qualifies as useful preparation President Obama’s biggest task may be to steadfastly avoid the pitfalls of overconfidence.

Hedging His Bets

In 2008 then Senator Joe Biden ran for re-election as senator while also running as a vice presidential candidate. Not everyone saw this move as a demonstration of full confidence in the Obama-Biden ticket although some Democrats in Delaware thought it important not to give a certain Teapublican witch named Christine O’Donnell even a ghost of a chance of winning.

Now, in 2012, we have Paul Ryan, another vice presidential candidate who is hedging his bets. While campaigning on the sinking Romney-Ryan ticket he is also campaigning for re-election to Congress in Wisconsin. It cannot be the kind of move that inspires confidence with rank and file Teapublicans.

But then again, perhaps Paul Ryan knows something that they will only find out on November 6th.
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Have a great weekend!

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Weekend Edition – April 13, 2012

And now Saint Santorum is free to commune with all the other angels in his very interesting mind now that he is no longer a candidate for president. We might be inclined to breathe a sigh of relief except that Lady Macbeth Palin seems to think that Congressman Alan West might be a great candidate for vice president – and which way will the Mitt Romney weathervane blow on that one. And meanwhile, the Tennessee State Legislature seems intent on making sure that any child that goes through the public school system in that state will come out of it dumber than a bag of hammers.

Saint Santorum – R.I.P.

It appears that Saint Santorum, who walks with God and talks with God, is no longer running for president with God. His mean, near-hysterical rants against contraception and gay marriage were carried with the voice of someone with something deep and dark in their own soul. Who knows?

What we do know is that he has succeeded, along with other Tea Party evanzealots, in painting Mitt Romney in the far right corner of the national discourse. If he loses the election, Mr. Romney can thank, in no particular order, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain (yes, Herman Cain), Ron Paul and Saint Santorum for moving every major issue so far to the right that he can’t even spell “middle ground” in the general election.

It remains to be seen whether his “etch a sketch” strategy will work. But the record shows that in order to win the G.O.Tea Party nomination he favored – 1) a draconian anti-immigrant policy, 2) the total defunding of Planned Parenthood, 3) an absolute ban on federal funding for contraception, 4) an ironclad pledge not to raise taxes on anyone under any circumstances and 5) unequivocal support for the Ryan budget plan which calls for the evisceration and elimination of most social services and a host of other programs including the National Endowment for the Arts.

That sounds like a lot of baggage to carry all the way to November 6th. It will be interesting to see how Romney’s “etch a sketch” ploy works in the real world.

What’s Crazier than Alan West? Nothing!

Alan West is a Teapublican congressman from Florida who is known for bragging about carrying a concealed gun to public events. He has also called President Obama a threat to national security and may, on any given day, give the impression that he has taken leave of his senses.

Most recently, Representative West has stated publicly that there are 77-81 members of the Communist Party serving in Congress and that they are all Democrats. One wonders how far he is going to take this crude impression of Joe McCarthy, but as of the writing of this column he remains steadfast an unapologetic.

Into this unfortunate maelstrom marches Sarah Palin, who has yet to wash the blood of Tucson off her hands, suggesting that Alan West would be the perfect Vice Presidential running mate for Mitt Romney. And in the ensuing hush, all you can hear are the crickets chirping.

It is hard to believe that Mitt Romney would be so stupid as to select Alan West as his running mate. But then again, it is hard to believe that John McCain was so stupid as to select Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Somewhere the Obama campaign team is lighting candles and chanting incantations that sound a lot like, “Do it, do it!”

The Tennessee Waltz to Dumbness

The Obama Administration’s campaign to improve public education in this country is entitled “The Race to the Top”. Given that the United States is ranked 26th globally in terms of the performance of its K-12 students, it would seem the absolute wrong time for any responsible public officials to engage in a “race to the bottom”.

However, that is exactly what is taking place in Tennessee where the state legislature has passed legislation permitting public school teachers to present “alternative perspectives on controversial scientific topics”. The translation of this legislation is that it will permit public school teachers to present alternatives on “politically controversial” topics such as evolution, creation and global warming.

Scientists around the globe have settled on the issue of creation and evolution for over a century. While there are debates on the severity and causes of global warming, there is no serious question that global warming is taking place.

In Arizona legislation has been signed into law that defines life as beginning on the first day of a woman’s missed menstrual period. Soon there will be questions about whether the earth is round (or flat) and after that the race to dumbness will be a mad sprint to nowhere.

The saddest part of this story is that there are young men and women who, believing that they can trust their teachers will grow up ignorant even as they go to school. And what this country can ill afford is more ignorance.

Have a great weekend?

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Point of View Columns

Muffling the Drums of War

For almost three full years we have heard the squawks and screeches of the chicken hawks with Iran as their target. These are politicians, pundits and commentators who never hesitate to send young men and women to die for causes that are false, worthless or ultimately irrelevant to the security of the United States. For these fake Bravehearts, maintaining the image of this country as an invincible warrior nation is worth the sacrifice of someone else’s blood and the treasure of this nation.

Now we are starting to hear otherwise reasonable leaders speaking about all options being “on the table” as if we were engaged in some three dimensional global chess match. The so-called threat of Iran coming into possession of nuclear weapons is morphing into a cause worthy of yet another American Crusade, even though such a venture would make prior incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan seem like basic training in comparison.

This is all starting to sound like “Ground Hog Day” with gunfire as a soundtrack. During the run up to the war in Vietnam Americans were told that national security was at stake. If the communists weren’t stopped before they got to Hanoi they would be scurrying through the streets of Los Angeles in the blink of an eye.

During the first war in Iraq we were told that the future of America rested with our ability to help a distinctly non-democratic monarchy withstand Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army. How Kuwait became so important was never cleared up, even after the war that was fought to save it.

Before the second war in Iraq we were told that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. We were also told that he was an ally of Al Qaeda which had infamously attacked the United States in Kenya, Tanzania and on American soil. These turned out to be outright lies – not mistakes in intelligence. The Bush Administration never had any proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the alliance with Al Qaeda was a complete fabrication.

The harm done by these lies, fables, fabrications and deceptions is virtually incalculable. Over 50,000 American troops died in Vietnam. Trillions of dollars were spent on the two Iraqi wars with close to 5,000 military deaths and tens of thousands of permanently maimed men and women. And, of course, there is the devastation and ruin that has been visited upon the people of Iraq.

We are being told that a military option is “on the table” when it comes to Iran because it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear power. If Iran were to actually “weaponize” nuclear materials and if it were to develop a nuclear bomb and if it were to successfully build a reliable delivery system (a lot of “ifs”), how does that automatically translate into Armageddon?

After all, not every country that owns nuclear weapons is a friend of the United States or its interests. Keep in mind that Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan within site of the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. Although it receives billions of dollars in aid from the United States, elements of the Pakistani government regularly express their displeasure with this country. And Pakistan is a nuclear power. And military options are not “on the table” when it comes to its nuclear capacity.

Keep in mind that the People’s Republic of China is a nuclear power. This would be the same China that regularly engages in espionage against the United States. This would be the same China that is very clear in stating its opposition to American interests in venues around the world. And military options are not “on the table” when it comes to Chinese nuclear capacity.

For the United States to take military action against Iran to keep it from possessing nuclear weapons would create an especially satanic version of irony. After all, for all its proclamations regarding the horrors of nuclear weaponry, the United States is still the only country in the history of the Planet Earth that has ever used nuclear weapons against another country.

Bully boys like Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney can bellow about going to war against Iran (although I doubt that either of them has ever been in a real fight in their lives) while Michele Bachmann plays the role of over the hill cheerleader in this cheerless battle. But the awful reality of war looms like a nightmare over this country and over this world.

Perhaps after ten years of continuous war in Iraq and Afghanistan the American people have become anesthetized. Perhaps after over 3600 consecutive days of war in the news we are simply desensitized to the prospect of yet another war so we won’t really feel the death and destruction that it brings.

It is time to wake up.

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