Point of View Columns

Three Days in the Life of America

August 15, 2020

5,316,637–168,481 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans t4he beginning of the day)

Were it not for the fact that we are in the Age of Trump in the United States of Crazy, the fact that the first three attacks on Kamala Harris’s presumptive Vice Presidential candidacy were epic. Here they are in order of stupidity:

  1. She is angry, mad (as in angry, not mad as in Trump) and she is nasty;
  2. She sounds like Marge Simpson (Marge Simpson immediately issued a strongly worded expression of outrage at being “disrespected by Team Trump – I cannot make this stuff up); and
  3. Harris is not a natural U.S. citizen, even though she was born in Oakland, California, because both of her parents were immigrants making her an “anchor baby” (spoiler alert – there is no such exception of “anchor babies” in the Constitution.

One has to wonder if this is what amounts to Team Trump’s best shot. Or is this some Machiavellian strategic plan to lull the Biden-Harris team into a sense of complacency – kind of a Trump-style Rope A Dope. And since Trump can’t even spell Machiavelli, the smart money is betting that items 1,2 and 3 represent the Trump Team’s best shot.

The smart money is also betting that Team Trump will go back to sewer diving and gutter hunting and will come up with something a lot more offensive.

 August 16, 2020

5,361,613–169,489 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans t4he beginning of the day)

The day begins with what is supposed to be a good day in the new reality of Trump World because “only” 1,000 Americans died yesterday. The phenomenon of Trumpthink will result in the devastation of the Republic.

Meanwhile it was announced that former Republican Governor John Kasich will speak at the Democratic convention. What might have been a moment of apostasy a few years ago seems very much like common sense who senses the lurking abyss in a second Trump term as president.

And the Trump Sound Machine continues to beat the birther drum at Kamala Harris while claiming that it isn’t. The latest Trump strategy is to blame the entire birther controversy on “the media” even though everyone watches Trump peddling bizarro theories regarding her citizenship that do indeed originate from sources outside of the White House. But of course it is the White House remix that gives the these theories legitimacy in the fevered minds that inhabit MAGA World.

And tomorrow, the Democrats host the first national convention that will be totally virtual.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

 August 17, 2020

5,404,115–170,052 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The countdown begins as the virtual Democratic National Convention will begin this evening. Trump will be hosting rallies throughout several swing states this evening in an effort to distract attention from this evening’s events. And somehow we are not supposed to notice that we are in the middle of a cataclysmic pandemic while the President of the United States is hopping around the country as if the American people don’t have a care in the world.

As if tens of millions of Americans haven’t lost their jobs. As if close to 200,000 Americans have lost their lives while another 5,000,000 Americans have been infected. As if millions of businesses haven’t closed for good, turning lifelong hopes, dreams and aspirations into bitter ashes. As if fear stalks even the bravest as well as the most foolish because it is clear that no one knows what tomorrow may promise.

Ostensibly we are supposed to take some comfort in knowing that Trump is doing his damnedest (an intentional choice of words) to confuse, confound and derail the upcoming election by effectively dismantling key elements of the U.S. Postal, never mind that millions of Americans rely on the postal system not only to vote, but to receive medication, checks, and a range of goods and services. Clearly, Trump doesn’t know and/or doesn’t care.

Meanwhile the latest polls have the race between Biden and Trump narrowing to the point where it is virtually a statistical dead heat (an apt choice of words here). And one has to wonder who is it that, upon seeing the carnage that Trump has visited upon this country is convinced that he should be reelected?

Can it be, that with the death and disruption occasioned by the incompetence and intentional ignorance of the Trump regime being clear for all the world to see, that half of the American voting public will still want him to continue in office.

Clearly there is still a place for racism and stupidity and vile hatred in American politics…….and we should all be very afraid.

And now, the most unusual Democratic National Convention in history will start shortly and we shall see what the new normal looks like.

And then Michelle Obama decided it was time to eviscerate Trump in real time. As she recounted his many faults and multiple missteps she concluded with, “….he’s in over his head. It is what it is.” Ouch.

And if that last part sounds familiar it is because she was repeating Trump’s response when questioned about the (then) 150,000 American COVID-19 fatalities – “it is what it is was Trump’s memorable expression of empathy and sorrow for the deaths of so many Americans.

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College Admissions in America – The Tip of the Iceberg

The series of revelations describing a veritable cesspool of corruption, cheating, bribery and betrayals in the admissions process at prestigious schools of higher education including Georgetown, Stanford, the University of California, Los Angeles, University of San Diego, University of Southern California, University of Texas, Austin, Wake Forest and Yale leaves one spectacular question swinging in the air like a rotting corpse of lies – what is it that we don’t know? In other words, in the jet-propelled world of high stakes college admissions, are we to believe that only the nine schools mentioned are the bad actors? Or are we looking at the tip of the iceberg?

In a country where a fake billionaire can lie his way into the presidency, why should we be surprised when anyone with $50,000 to $4,000,000 can lie and cheat to get their son or daughter into the college of their choice, instead of their child being chosen by the college on the basis of something resembling merit? The audacity of the half a hundred otherwise wealthy and respectable defendants is breathtaking in that whatever concerns that they might have about equity, fairness or….wait for it…..setting a good example for their children, were outweighed by their desire to be able to say that their child was a student at Yale, UCLA, Georgetown, etc.

In a culture where imagined success literally trumps actual success, we cannot be surprised to find out that there are privileged young men and women are at this very moment students in colleges and schools that they are not qualified to attend. And it is tragic that students who might actually benefit from having a cherished once in a lifetime opportunity to attend these schools are not attending because their place has been taken by someone who already has access to every opportunity that life has to offer.

But we should not be deceived into thinking that this is simply a matter of a few (fifty???) bad actors trying to game the college admissions system with several millions of dollars and some photo shopped applications. This is not the only way that the United Privileged Parents of America are gaming the college admissions system.

We should understand that even reasonably bright and capable young men and women are being asked to compete for seats in universities and colleges all over America with young men and women (who may or may not be reasonably bright and capable) who have the advantage of having SAT “coaches” and college admissions consultants which can cost their parents tens of thousands of dollars a year – not to mention the fact that attendance a prestigious (and therefore brutally expensive) private prep schools and “special” public schools. In other words, the system is so rigged that the notion of equal access and success based on merit are simply wisps of words that need not even be spoken.

The magnitude of these crimes are almost too profound to comprehend as we will never know how many truly qualified students are being denied admission to colleges. The magnitude of the crime of rigging the entire college admissions system to solely benefit the children of the rich and privileged not only deprives the children of everyone else, it also deprives this country of its best talent and its best chance for a successful future.

John D. Rockefeller, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Michelle Obama, Reginald Lewis, Mario Cuomo, Mark Cuban, Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz are just a few of the contemporary prominent achievers who would never have been able to compete in the high stakes college admissions racket – their parents simply didn’t have enough money to “buy” opportunity through SAT coaches, college consultants, etc., much less be able to buy their children’s admissions at schools where the price only needs to be right.

We may never find out the scope and breadth of the outright bribery that is taking place in the college admissions universe. There are prosecutors and judges and juries and prisons that can address this kind of bad behavior. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The iceberg is the entire imbalance in the K-12 and college/university environment where power plus money equals college admission. And this situation makes it all the more problematic when conservative foundations and their attack lawyers seek to eliminate the few programs that seek to successfully level the playing field for those whose parents are not rich and powerful. Because some day, sooner than later, those without power and money will simply need not apply.

And that is the real tragedy for these United States.

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The Obamas – A Real Class Act

As the Obama Administration heads into the final lap of its eight year term, it is time for retrospectives to begin. And we can begin with the fact that, even after all the mudslinging and flaming arrows aimed at the President and Mrs. Obama; they have Stayed Strong and continue to Be Great. They have epitomized the concept of “grace under fire” – one more thing for which little credit is given to Barack and Michelle Obama.

Consider the First Lady’s remarks at the recent Jackson State University commencement ceremonies:

“When I hear words like dignity and excellence, I think about my husband … As I’ve walked this journey with Barack, I’ve gotten a pretty good look at what it means to rise above the fray, what it means to set your eyes on the horizon, to devote your life to making things better for those who will come after you. I have seen how, no matter what kind of ugliness is going on at any particular moment, Barack always stays the course …”

Much has been written about the substantive and institutional accomplishments of President Obama – the Affordable Healthcare Act and the introduction of a national health care system – the Dodd Frank Act and the initiation of the most ambitious reformation of the financial services system in almost ninety years and, of course, the salvation of the American economy in 2009. These items are historic and undeniable.

More subtle, and perhaps more important, has been the ability of President and Mrs. Obama exhibiting grace and class under the most intense pressure imaginable. Being called a “liar” from the floor of Congress or doubt being cast on the patriotism and Christianity of the President has been bad enough. Being called “shiftless” by the Sarah Palin, the Wicked Witch of the West must have been galling.

Being assailed on the “birther” issue by a carnival barker like Donald Trump might have been laughable for the first week or so, but after the first year the racist fumes of this noxious assault must have been revolting. But Barack and Michelle Obama stayed the course.

And for those who would say that in the 21st century the Obamas do not have any particular responsibility to establish respect for black America or represent black dignity in America I would suggest that they should take a closer look the next time they go shopping. Aunt Jemima is still on that pancake box, Uncle Ben is still on that box of rice and the Gold Dust Twins are still selling flour in the next aisle.

The sordid reality is that in the 21st century relics of black minstrelsy and slavery are still acceptable in the marketplace and so it should come as no shock that dignity and respect for black Americans are goals that have yet to be achieved. The First Family did not seek the responsibility of countering these charmless images, but just by being they have done so.

And so it is important that Barack and Michelle Obama have been able to maintain a stable marriage and raise two teenage daughters in the pressure cooker that is the American presidency, giving many white Americans (and some black Americans), a vision that they can only imagine. Given all the negative statistics regarding the pathologies attendant to black families, this First Family opens the door to the truth that stable and positive black families can and do exist in these days and times.

There will always be the black naysayers who want Barack Obama to “act more like a brother”. But history will show that what was important was that he and his wife acted like a man and woman with class and charm and dignity.

And that says a lot in these days and times.

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The Rise (And Fall) of the Black Obama Bashers

The phenomenon of the BOBs, a.k.a. Black Obama Bashers, began to appear as soon as then Senator Obama announced his candidacy in February of 2007. Unlike those who have serious policy or political differences with Barack Obama, the BOBs have always attacked him because of their own inner motivations – motivations which are so reflexive that they simply can’t help themselves. And we find that these Black Obama Bashers fall into three distinct categories.

Obligatory BOBs – These men and women attack President Obama as if their lives depend on them doing so. And in fact, their livelihoods do depend on it. We find these BOBs presenting themselves as black Republicans or even Teapublicans. These BOBs hold positions such as the in house expert on All Things Black or “urban policy” in right wing think tanks and foundations.

The job description for these BOBs is quite clear – engage in high profile attacks against President Obama thereby giving cover for the white organizations with which they are affiliated. After all, no one can reasonably accuse these institutions, foundations and political parties as racist when the ones throwing stones are black. Right?

Mercenary BOBs – These Black Obama Bashers are distinguished from the Obligatory BOBs because they are a bit more creative and are definitely more entrepreneurial. The Mercenary BOBs may or may not have deep philosophical differences with Barack Obama.

However, the Mercenary BOBs have ascertained the virtual gold mine of opportunity available to semi-articulate and passably educated black intellectual poseurs who mount attacks against the first black President of the United States. These BOBs are virtually agnostic on the question of President Obama’s accomplishments but they are passionate in their belief in the monetary value of their attacks.

And so they continue to launch their fact-challenged, historically deficient and logically impaired salvos at the White House, secure in the knowledge that they can write, rhyme, rap and cakewalk their way to fame and fortune, eternally grateful that there is a black man in the White House. For the Mercenary BOBs are nothing if not acutely aware of the fact that when Barack Obama leaves the White House in 2017 they are going to have to come up with a brand new routine. After all, playing the college level version of the dozens with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or Rafael (just call me “Ted”) Cruz won’t be anywhere as entertaining for the black audiences that they play to.

Pathological BOBs – These BOBs are actually in need of some kind of intervention. They cannot really help themselves when they see black people achieve more than they are capable of achieving. For the Pathological BOBs, Barack Obama is just another target to be placed alongside Oprah and Ken Chenault and Michelle Obama and Martin Luther King.

These Black Obama Bashers are simply reflexive and would be deserving of pity and sympathy were it not for the corrosive damage that they inflict upon the national black community by trying to diminish the achievement of members of that community.

What we do know is that all of these BOBs are destined to fade from memory. What we do know is that a library of books will be written about the presidency of Barack Obama. And what we also know is that the sad gaggle of BOBs that has proliferated over the past eight years will only deserve a footnote, if that, in any of the books in that library.

In the final analysis their contribution to serious deliberation, debate and discussion can be summed up in one word – zero.

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Weekend Edition – September 7, 2012

There is no question that the DNC convention speakers, headlined by President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro stated the party’s position as clearly as possible. One very clear point was made – the Teapublicans want to go back to a mythical past when all was well – well at least for some. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan clearly has an alias – Lyin’ Ryan. He seems to be a man who lies just to stay in practice. He can’t even tell the truth about his running time — and a lot more. Finally, with the presidential election less than 60 days away, it is clearly time for the talking heads/mouths that make a living being Obama naysayers to take a break – the stakes are just too high.

Back to the Future

Last week Julian Castro did a pretty fair imitation of Barack Obama circa 2004. Michelle Obama reminded everyone that she is an exceptional First Lady and all of a sudden talk of Michelle in 2016 started to circulate. Bill Clinton was exceptional in so many ways while Barack Obama reminded everyone why he has always been a very special President of the United States.

While it has been clear that the Romney-Ryan team seeks to go back to a future that is rooted in the past, it was important that the Democratic Party speakers make the point over and over again. Certainly Teapublicans will continue to serve up the same old stew while telling the American people that it is a new item on the menu.

This point was never clearer when it was revealed that 17 of the 24 members of the Romney-Ryan foreign policy team served in the Bush-Cheney administration. That would be the same administration that hoodwinked this country into a war in Iraq and the most dishonorable military disaster in American history.

This would be the same administration that botched the search for Osama bin Laden and mismanaged the military incursion in Afghanistan to the point that the United States is still mired there today. This would be the same administration that frayed and damaged this country’s international standing almost beyond repair.

One would think that serving on the foreign policy team of Bush-Cheney would be an immediate disqualifier. Not for the Romney-Ryan team. They want to go back to the future.

Lyin’ Ryan

Paul Ryan swings from hiding the truth to outright lies. As an example of the latter – he cites his mother taking public transportation every day to attend college to get a degree so that she could improve her professional career. He fails to point out that public transportation on public funded highways to attend college that receives state and federal funds forms an example of how and why government is important in the lives of all Americans. That would be the same governmental structure that he now seeks to dismantle.

As an example of the latter – Congressman Ryan states that he ran a marathon in 2 hours and 50 seconds. Fact checking soon revealed that he ran the referenced marathon in 4 hours and ten minutes – a credible time but nothing like the heroic time that he cited.
He said he forgot.

As someone who ran for thirty years I am very clear that any serious runner knows and remembers their running times in significant races – like a marathon. And no truthful runner could confuse a four hour marathon time with a less than three hour achievement.

It may seem like a small lie but it reveals a disturbing pattern in Mr. Ryan’s very real tendency to lie and misrepresent whenever it is convenient for him to do so.

The Vision Thing

During the past few years several talking heads and running mouths (Tavis Smiley and Cornel West come to mind as examples) have made not so small fortunes bad mouthing nearly everything that President Obama does and says. That is, of course, their constitutional right.

But after the sequence of the Republican and Democratic conventions it should be very clear that there are stark differences between the two candidates this time around. It is not exaggerating to suggest that a Teapublican victory would be catastrophic for many Americans while enriching and engorging a few very wealthy Americans.

One can only hope that these talking heads and running mouths will declare a two month cease fire rather than run the risk of becoming the 2012 version of Ralph Nader circa 2000.

Have a great weekend!

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The Weekend Edition – December 23, 2011

The year 2011 meanders and waddles and lurches to its end. True to form, we have gotten revelations that Congressman Ron Paul’s newsletter occasionally launches into racist rants – and he doesn’t know anything about it. Bank of America agrees to pay a $335 million dollar fine for enticing barely creditworthy minority customers into purchasing homes that they couldn’t afford. In addition to precipitating the bursting of the housing bubble, Bank of America has managed to damage and destroy communities all across this country. And finally, a nonentity of a congressman in Wisconsin thought that there was nothing wrong about him referring to the First Lady of the United States in appalling and disrespectful terms. Only in America.

Will the Real Ron Paul Please Stand Up?

Congressman Ron Paul is one of the leading G.O.Tea Party presidential candidates. Indeed, we shouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be the winner of the Iowa Caucus.

Being a leading candidate has its disadvantages. One of them is that reporters actually take the time to find out what you stand for and believe in. It turns out that Ron Paul has been publishing a newsletter for over 20 years which has had interesting statements such as:

• The Martin Luther King holiday is “Hate Whitey Day”
• The riots in Los Angeles only stopped when blacks had to pick up their welfare checks
• In Washington, D.C. 90%-95% of African American males are criminals or engaged in criminal activity

When questioned about these outlandish and purely racist statements Congressman Paul copped out. He said that he didn’t write (or read) the newsletter and that such scrutiny by the press is unfair.

There are strains and threads of racism all throughout the G.O.Tea Party fabric. Ron Paul missed an excellent opportunity to play to his base by owning up to these statements.

The Un-American Bank of America

This past week Bank of America agreed to pay a $335 million fine in connection with its outrageous practice of enticing minorities who were not credit worthy into purchasing homes with the assistance of so-called sub-prime mortgages.

The collapse of the housing market in 2008 was due in no small part to these piratical banking practices. These predatory lending practices have also resulted in the wholesale evisceration of neighborhoods and communities that had been stable until some executives at Bank of America started to put on their thinking caps.

We might think that $335 million is a lot of money. That is, until we compare it to the cost of destroying homes, lives and communities across this country. Indeed, Bank of America is very un-American.

The Bottomless Pit

The slime that has been directed at the Obama Administration started being hurled on January 20, 2009. Political attacks are part of the process but the partisan vitriol has been extreme. President Obama has been called a socialist, a fascist and a Kenyan anti-colonialist. There are still millions of Americans who will never believe that he was born in the United States and if nothing else, the
G.O.Tea Party has been unified in its dedication to seeing that he “fails” and is reduced to being a one term president.

But this past week a new low has been reached. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, a virtual nonentity from Wisconsin, was quoted as saying that Michelle Obama has a “large posterior” for someone who advocates healthy foods and exercise.
Of course this idiot gave the classic “if I offended anyone” non-apology.

During all the political battles involving Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton – and I am referring to classical wars over policy and vision – I cannot recollect a single word that referred to Lady Bird Johnson or Pat Nixon or Nancy Reagan or Hillary Clinton in such a stunningly disrespectful manner.

Barack Obama is a man possessed of considerable restraint not to respond to this vulgar attack on his wife and the mother of his children. What is incredible is that this disgraceful disrespect is not out of the ordinary in the United States of Stupid.

Have a great weekend!

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Weekend Edition – November 25, 2011

Last weekend First Lady Michelle Obama appeared at a NASCAR rally and was booed. Sadly, the rudeness is not a surprise. But who is it on the White House staff that thought that having Mrs. Barack Obama go to a NASCAR rally was a good idea? Meanwhile Newt Gingrich has surged to the lead in the G.O.Tea Party presidential polls. Could Barack Obama be that lucky? Finally, the G.O.Tea Party zealots in the Congress passed a bill overturning an Obama Administration initiative to have whole grain foods and vegetables in federal school lunch programs. A simple of example of how stupid can turn to dangerous.

Hail to the First Lady?

Last week First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden attended a NASCAR rally. They were roundly booed in a display of rudeness that was shocking even in the United States of Stupid. Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden were there to promote support of American troops that are returning to the United States from the seemingly endless wars that this country is waging.

The booing should have been expected, however. If there is anyone on the White House staff who believes that a NASCAR rally is a suitable venue for Mrs. Barack Obama has been working in a soundproof cable-free bubble for the past three years.
The only thing that would elicit a positive response from the NASCAR denizens would be an announcement by Michelle Obama would be an announcement that President Obama had resigned.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh rushed into the frenzy contending that Michelle Obama should have stayed in Washington instead of going anywhere for any purposed. He went on to say that the First Lady of the United States was “uppity” in presuming to make appearances around the country.

We know by now that Rush Limbaugh is a racist, drug-addled, stupid lout who should thank his lucky Jesus that by some quirk of fate he has been able to make millions spewing hate and ignorance. But does he have to prove it every day?

Newt on Deck

This week we learned that Newt Gingrich has surged to the lead in the G.O.Tea Party presidential polls. Presumable this is because Michele
Bachmann has turned out to be certifiably crazy, Rodeo Rick Perry is a caricature of Rodeo Rick Perry and Herman Cain’s self-inflicted wounds are beyond healing.
It is a testament to the sour taste that Mitt Romney leaves in the mouths of the zealots who occupy the right wing of the right wing in the G.O.Tea Party that damaged goods like Newt Gingrich could be given serious consideration as a presidential candidate.

There may have been other successful presidential candidates who married their high school teacher and then divorced them as they were recovering from cancer surgery. However their names escape me at this time.

There may have been other successful presidential candidates who have engaged this kind of over the top fear mongering – “Barack Obama is a greater danger to this country than fascism during World War II”. However, their names did not come up in my research for this column.

I would have to think that Team Obama would welcome a Gingrich candidacy. Of course, it is useful to remember to be careful what one wishes for.

Bon Appétit

During the 2010 election campaigns, the Tea Party faithful promised real change when their candidates arrived in Washington. Now we have found out what they meant.
Change has meant absolute, wooden-headed obstruction to any and every piece of legislation that does not precisely conform to Tea Party orthodoxy. Change has meant that this country has teetered on the brink of fiscal default and disarray, a potential disaster that the G.O.Tea Party has crazily embraced.

Change has also meant rolling back the Obama Administration initiative that calls for healthier federally funded school lunches. More whole grains, more vegetables and other subversive elements have now been eliminated by the G.O.Tea Party zealots in the House of Representatives.

By the way, pizza and tomato paste as a vegetable are o.k. in the world inhabited by the right wing of the right wing.

Have a great weekend!

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Weekend Edition – February 25, 2011

This week Motown came to the White House and from all appearances, everyone had a great time – President Obama had a chance to dance with someone other than the Republicans. Meanwhile rumors persist that Donald Trump might be a presidential candidate. Also, how long will Barack Obama continue to ignore Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on his wife. And finally, how long before the freedom movement moves from North Africa to the rest of Africa?

Obama vs. Trump in 2012?

In a recent hypothetical poll Donald Trump and Barack Obama were in a statistical dead heat in a 2012 run for the presidency. I don’t know who was polled but I do know that more people voted in the last “American Idol” competition than in the last presidential election. Therefore there is a strong likelihood that Trump’s self-proclaimed star power propelled him to these Olympian polling heights.

I also think that President Obama and his advisors are crossing their fingers and lighting votive candles all over the place hoping that The Donald and his hair would somehow be the Republican nominee next year. Just his presence in the Republican primaries would roil the right wing waters all over the place.

While it is true that sometime the American public confuses celebrity with competence the presidency is not another reality show. It makes all the sense in the world to take Donald Trump seriously as an entrepreneur and promoter. It makes no sense to take him seriously as a presidential candidate.

The real question – could Barack Obama be so lucky?

Obama vs. Limbaugh?

Barack Obama is famously know for being cool, unflappable and restrained. Nowhere has this restraint been more evident than in his non-response to the ever infamous Rush Limbaugh. This is the same Rush Limbaugh who stated publicly that he wanted Barack Obama to “fail” as President of the United States.

In his latest foray into swamp talk Limbaugh referred to Michelle Obama as a hypocrite for urging Americans to have healthier eating habits while she herself occasionally dines on something less healthy than tofu.

Limbaugh, the overweight, cigar chomping, recovering addict, also proceeded to opine on the attractiveness of the First Lady of the United States. In his view Michelle Obama wouldn’t qualify as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and Alex Rodriguez would never ask her for a date.

Perhaps it’s best that Limbaugh chose to pick on the wife of a man who is restrained, calm and cool. By now any number of men would be knocking on Rush’s front door before kicking him in the rear.

African Freedom?

Since the insurrection in Tunisia, followed by the revolts in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, there have been constant news reports and analyses regarding “change that is sweeping through the Arab world”.

A look at the map will reveal that all of the aforementioned countries are in Africa and that the “change” taking place involves the replacement of sclerotic regimes that have been around for too long.

Africa is a big place, however, and we should also note that there are a number of other African countries with regimes that have been around too long to the detriment of their people.

Consider – Teodoro Obiang – Equatorial Guinea – 32 years, Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe – 24 years, Yoweri Museveni – 25 years, the Bongo family – Gabon – 43 years.

Do not be surprised if the “change” sweeping its way across North Africa turns south sooner than later.

Have a great weekend!

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Sarah Palin v. Michelle Obama? No Contest!

The former governor of Alaska has had a pretty nice run so far – especially for someone with no discernible talent or evidence of ever having had an original thought. There are many ambitious men and women who aspire to the national stage, and Sarah Palin has arrived, seemingly without effort or a defined strategy.

While the ultimate demise of John McCain’s presidential ambitions began on the day that he chose her as his running mate, Sarah Palin has given new meaning to the word “Teflon”. The fact that she might be responsible for the stunning defeat of the Republican ticket in 2008 has only burnished her star.

Most people who admitted on national television that they don’t regularly read newspapers, magazines or books would probably remove themselves from public view. Sarah Palin wrote a bestselling book (that was actually written by a ghostwriter).

Most people who admitted to a lack of knowledge of global events and geopolitics would just be quiet on the subject. The Mama Grizzly in Chief weighs in on such topics about which she knows nothing with ease that can only be described as breathtaking.

Lately, Sarah Palin has trained her sights on Michelle Obama. First she criticized the First Lady for stating during the 2008 campaign that, for the first time in her life, she was truly proud of America.

Mrs. Palin, either through ignorance or barely disguised racism, refused to understand the context of Mrs. Obama’s statement; that African Americans who have witnessed lynching and “No Colored” restaurant signs might not be that proud of everything American. But Sarah Palin was able to make her veiled attack without any serious criticism. The power of Teflon is indeed an awesome thing.

Now she is attacking the First Lady’s campaign against childhood obesity. She has mocked Michelle Obama’s efforts to get Americans to eat in a more healthy fashion and in the process has managed to distort this laudable campaign into another example of how government is endeavoring to control the lives of ordinary Americans. Presumably it is one more reason why this faux warrior queen wants to lead the battle to “take America back”.

This latest Sarah Salvo could be dismissed except that her stupidity trivializes the very serious health issue that Michelle Obama is trying to highlight. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 32.7% of adult Americans are overweight, 34.3% are obese and 5.9% are extremely obese. Further the NHANES reports that 16.9% of American children are obese. The number in low income communities and communities of color are even higher.

These are stunning – and damning – statistics by any measure. These numbers indicate an incredible health problem that threatens the fiscal and physical health of this country.

This is no laughing matter, this is not a subject for catty tweets. Perhaps Sarah Palin could put her political bow and quiver aside for a nanosecond and express some concern for the health and welfare of the people to whom she presumes to give advice, if not lead.

Here is a direct quote from Chairwoman Sarah: “Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician’s or politician’s wife’s priorities, just leave us alone . . . ”

It would be shameful if government just sat by while children engorge themselves with Lil’ Debbies and Slurpies and adults Big Mac themselves to death. It is shameful that Sarah Palin would try to link a worthy effort to spread the message of health through nutrition to her perverted political worldview.

I have to wonder at what point this Elmer Gantry in high heels will meet her comeuppance. Is it possible for Sarah Palin to say anything about anybody at anytime without consequence?

Sarah Palin is a winking, malevolent comet blazing across the American sky. Clearly, the sooner that she burns out, the better.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 27, 2010

The last weekend in the month of August has arrived and in this era of the 24 hour news cycle it is clear that there is something happening here, there and everywhere all of the time. This past week is no exception to this nerve-shredding rule:

The Son Also Rises……
Having written two novels, I have wrestled with editors and my literary agent over what flights of fancy are implausible, even within the realm of fiction. And then I follow the news and realize that truth will always be stranger than fiction.

It was 22 years ago that Dan Quayle was elected Vice President of the United States and continued his successful quest to be perceived as some sort of national joke. His lack of knowledge of even elementary facts, his deer in the headlights look at press conferences, his public failure at spelling “potato” in front of a first grade class……the list goes on. Thankfully President George Herbert Walker Bush was a healthy man and, at the end of his one term, Dan Quayle faded into the obscurity that he (and we) so richly deserved.

And now? Someone named Benjamin Quayle (there’s that name again) appears in a congressional race in Arizona. And this someone is the son of Dan Quayle. And Benjamin Quayle proves that stupidity can be inherited as he took inanity to a new low in winning the Republican primary.

His campaign slogan is eight words (by his count), “Barack Obama is the worst President in history”. It should be noted that in 19 months President Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize, appointed two women to the Supreme Court, passed the most comprehensive health care legislation in American history and brought the country back from the precipice of financial ruin.

The invisibility of James Buchanan, the corruption of Warren G. Harding and the dogged persistence of George W. Bush to steal a presidential election, deceive this country into a war in Iraq that should never have been waged and nearly collapsing the national economy all come to mind when I think of worst presidents.

Clearly Benjamin Quayle is as good at comparative history as his father was at spelling.

Mano a Mano?
This week the outgoing commandant of the United States Marines, General James Conway, stated that “an overwhelming majority (of Marines) would like not be roomed with a person who is openly homosexual”. A stunning statement in a year of stunning statements, although to his credit, General Conway opined that Marines were “pretty macho”, inferring that since they are willing to fight and die for their country they could probably summon the courage to share a dormitory with someone with a different sexual preference.

One wonders if General Conway is confusing cross-dressing with homosexuality as it is not clear how someone is “openly homosexual” during the course of performing military duties and tasks. I shudder to think that this country is being protected by macho Marines who would cringe at being in the same dormitory with someone with a different gender practice, keeping in mind that sexual activity – heterosexual or homosexual – is prohibited conduct in military dormitories.

And, this statement should be taken within the context of Defense Secretary Robert Gates having ordered a survey of active duty and reserve troops regarding a proposed change in policy that will permit gay men and women to serve in the military without having to misrepresent or lie about their gender preference. The new policy would be, in effect, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

And once again we are witness to the determination of the rights of a minority by pursuant to the perceived will of the majority. The very first Secretary of Defense was James Forrestal, who appointed in 1947. In 1948 Secretary Forrestal was called upon to carry out President Harry Truman’s Executive Order 9841 which eliminated racial segregation in the military.

Even a dimly informed student of American history (Benjamin Quayle anyone?) knows that in 1948 segregation was the law of much of this land known as the United States. Lynching of black Americans was commonplace and any “survey” of the military of the American public or the military would have resulted in a resounding roar of disapproval of such a policy. But President Truman did what was right.

Decisions of morality or constitutionality cannot be subject to a voice vote, because the naysayers will always be the loudest ones and the voice of justice may be muted if not extinguished.

We should wish General Conway all the best for his years of service to this country. We can only hope that, whatever the results of Secretary Gates’ survey, this Administration will do the right thing when it comes to the rights of gay men and women in the military.

It Hurts So Bad
So President and Mrs. Obama went out to dinner during their vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. So Michelle Obama wore a colorful print shift. As is the case with her every public moment, photographs of her latest attire flew around the internet. And then the knives came out – again.

On some level I can understand that some people are compelled to give voice to their inner fashionista and let the world know their opinion on every garment worn by every person of note. I can even understand that some people might care.

What I cannot understand or countenance is the venom and anger and pure vitriol directed at the First Lady because of her choice of clothing. I am forced to think that the source of the venom and anger and vitriol has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with hatred and envy and ignorance. And that is truly a sad commentary on an aspect of what passes for public discourse in these United States.

Have a great weekend!

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