Point of View Columns

The Check is in the Mail

There just may be some truth to the rumor that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, has offered to pay CNN and Fox News to continue to broadcast Republican debates. While there is no truth to the rumor that her offers have been accepted, the rest of us can only hope that the Teapublican Show of Shows is renewed for the fall season.

Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, any billionaire can decide that virtually anyone with a pulse can be President of the United States. That may be the only way to explain the candidacies of Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, to name just a few of the members of the right wing of the right wing food fight disguised as a presidential campaign. But during brief moments of lucidity and clarity of thought the leadership of the Republican National Committee just has to be wondering if providing a national stage for every lost cousin and wild and crazy uncle in the Teapublican family is such a great idea.

Consider a thumbnail sketch of the leading candidates out of the fifteen remaining from the Spectacular Seventeen that greeted us a little over a month ago, keeping in mind that every single one of them (except John Kasich and George Pataki, propose to deny over 20 million American men, women and children healthcare on “Day One”, by repealing the Affordable Care Act:

• Donald Trump – What else can be said about the Orange Haired Wonder. While it is dangerous to dismiss the Donald, it is important to note that if you distill his message, he intends to govern by bombast, bullying and insult. This might work in the world of real estate, but it certainly won’t work in domestic politics or in foreign policy.
• Carly Fiorina – Her narrative of going from a secretary to a CEO neglects to mention that her father was a federal court judge and then dean of Duke Law School and that her degrees from Stanford, the University of Maryland and MIT might have something to do with her success. And, by the way, the secretary narrative? She worked as a Kelly Girl during her summers in school. Her personal fan dance notwithstanding, her plan to “not speak to Putin” and to “tell the Supreme Leader of Iran” what he must do is so implausible that it would be funny, except that it is not.
• Ted Cruz – He sees no problem shutting down the federal government and says that the Supreme Court acts in an “unconstitutional” manner when it issues decisions with which he does not agree.
• Mike Huckabee – He joins the Teapublican attack on the Supreme Court in the process ignoring the Constitution and over 2 centuries of case law. And he seriously wants to be President of the United States.
• Chris Christie – New Jersey has one of the worst economies of the fifty states. And then there is this pesky corruption investigation by the U.S. attorney, an investigation involving a number of his very senior appointees. And then, he wants us to believe that bullying is useful as a governance model.
• Jeb Bush – First, he is Jeb BUSH. Second, his record as governor of Florida, beginning with his presiding over the first theft of an American presidential election, is not a stunning calling card. And then again, does the RNC really want to pin its hopes for winning the White House on another BUSH considering the impossible mess created by the last BUSH?
• Ben Carson – His avuncular delivery of stunning madness and malice – denying the science behind climate change and comparing Obamacare to slavery (!!!!!!!) – proves that brain surgeons may not be the standard for brilliance in modern society that we might have thought was the case.

Of course the list goes on, and it is interesting that John Kasich, governor of Ohio, usually comes across as the only sane adult in the Teapublican echo chamber. And it is interesting that virtually nobody gives John Kasich a chance of winning the Republican nomination – right along with George Pataki (another sane adult), and Bobby Jindal (not so sane and not so adult).

It may be that there is a bizarro world scenario in which one of the highlighted candidates could win (there is a winning scenario for Kasich and Pataki, for example, but……….well, you know). Nevertheless, the RNC treats us to daily doses of Lindsey Graham wanting to wage more war and Marco Rubio fighting the Cold War twenty years too late, along with eliminating healthcare coverage for over 20 million Americans, and somehow that is supposed to be a winning strategy.

And that is why Ms. Wasserman Schultz is writing out checks to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and any other media outlet that will give the RNC candidates a platform. To the executives of these networks – the check is in the mail.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 24, 2014

Like a recurring bad dream Sarah Palin just keeps coming back, showering us with torrents of stupidity – last week the pattern continued. Meanwhile Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks proved himself to be an outrageously exuberant competitor, how that made him a “thug” in the eyes of some people reveals a lot about some people. And finally, it turns out that Mike Huckabee knows that there are a lot of women out there who simply cannot control their libidos. Who knew?

The Unsinkable Sarah Palin

In an interview President Obama offers the observation that some (not all) Americans who oppose him are racially motivated. In other words some white Americans don’t like him because he is black. He also opined that some black Americans like him simply because he is black.

Knowing Barack Obama’s aversion to racial controversy, it is pretty clear that he was stating some very obvious truths. There is certainly a racial element at work in his opposition, those Confederate flags and drawings of him with a bone through his nose – along with the birther myths didn’t just spring up like mushrooms.

And the fact that over 90% of black Americans supported President Obama at the polls indicates that there is an element of perceived racial solidarity among his supporters. After all, it is hard to find too many other things upon which 90% of black Americans agree.

And then Sarah Palin comes along saying that President Obama is “playing the race card”. She actually accused the man who never whines of whining that his opposition is race-based instead of policy-based.

If Sarah Palin were to actually engage in the thought process from time to time she might actually utter a fact-based word or two. Clearly, last week was not one of those times.

Sherman’s March

Last week football fans were treated to a great NFC championship game between the San Francisco 49’ers and the Seattle Seahawks. It was an entertaining and highly competitive game that was not decided until the final seconds. And it was in those final seconds that Seattle’s star cornerback, Richard Sherman, made a great play.

And that is when the fun started.

Within two minutes of the end of the game a reporter asked Richard Sherman about the game. With adrenaline coursing through his veins at about a million miles an hour he vented, boasted and vented some more, releasing some of the energy that had propelled him to superstardom on the great stage of sports.

Later Richard Sherman apologized for going over the top. He also pointed out that the only way that most NFL players can be successful is to adopt a hyper-competitive persona on the field and that he had not had time to “flip the switch” moments after the greatest game of his career.

And then………..the Twitterverse exploded and cascades of racist insults rained down upon Richard Sherman – he was called a “thug”, a “nigger” and (unbelievably) worse. And somehow a segment of the sports world lost sight of the fact that athletes, including Richard Sherman, are human beings.

They also lost sight of the fact that he graduated second in his class in high school, graduated from Stanford University and is pursuing a Master’s degree. They also lost sight of the fact that he is a young, articulate and thoughtful man who deserves better treatment for an outburst that may have boisterous but was not mean or obscene.

But most of all, that segment of the sports world lost sight of the fact that Richard Sherman is a human being.

Ladies’ Man?

Some things cannot be made up. This past week Mike Huckabee, a possible Teapublican candidate for president in the 2016 election, opined that some American women are using government funded healthcare services in order to obtain contraceptives to control their “libidos”. (He really said this.)

It is not clear whether there is any truth to the rumor that Mike Huckabee has been deluged with inquiries from single men as to where these women with uncontrollable libidos might reside.

Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 2, 2011

The pain will rain on the Cain train. That passes for news these days but by Monday we will know if Herman Cain was ever serious about running for president. Or, like so many of his fellow G.O.Tea Party candidates is this all about self-promotion? Meanwhile, the ridiculous ascension of Newt Gingrich as a serious presidential contender may turn out to be an early Christmas present for Barack Obama. And now that the unemployment rate is at its lowest rate since March of 2009 how will the Republican spinmeisters try to make this seem like another reason to vote against Obama.

The Pain of Cain Falls Mainly on the Train

Herman Cain has been a live streaming cavalcade of hypocrisy, feigned ignorance and simplicity posing as serious policy. The real Herman Cain is a moderately successful midlevel pizza chain executive whose main calling these days is working as a Koch Brothers sock puppet. The real Herman Cain also has some serious challenges when it comes to telling the truth.

Herman Cain has beaten bibles to a pulp while proclaiming his commitment to “family values” and he has attacked the excesses of society with the ardor of an evangelical preacher (and he has preached at numerous churches over the years).
Yet, when hit with this wave of allegations regarding sexual harassment and an extramarital relationship Herman Cain has alternatively attacked the accusers, refused to give a straight answer or simply closed his eyes, clicked his heels and wished that he was in Kansas.

Mr. Cain has now painted himself into a very tight corner and the script for how this will end has already been written. He will decry the pain that these accusations have caused his family and, without ever taking responsibility, he will withdraw from the presidential race “for the sake of his family”.
And then Herman Cain will go back to promoting Herman Cain through books, speeches and media appearances – now at a higher rate.

This seems to be the same Republican playbook used by Fred Thompson, Alan Keyes, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin. The basic strategy is to build a personal brand by campaigning for president and then sit back and reap the rewards in private jets and hotel suites.

I call it the G.O.Tea Party Shuffle.

All I Want for Christmas is …………….Newt?

The latest polls show Newt Gingrich surging to the lead in the G.O.Tea Party presidential race. Clearly there is a madcap desire on the part of the Republican faithful to give President Obama a Christmas present that will keep on giving.
We already know that Newt Gingrich was a failed Speaker of the House of Representatives who carried on extramarital affairs while espousing “family values” and excoriating President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky episode (does the word “hypocrisy” come to mind).

We already know that he married his high school teacher and then served her with divorce papers as she was recovering from cancer surgery earlier in the day. What a guy!

We know that he never met an outrageous idea that he didn’t like – at least when it comes to President Obama. That can be the only explanation for him spewing the thinly veiled racist rant that President Obama employed “Kenyan anti-colonialist philosophy”. A fitting rant from a man whose PhD thesis was on “Belgian Education in the Congo: 1945-1960”.

We are now learning that Newt Gingrich, through his various enterprises, may have earned over $50 million as a corporate advisor (sounds like lobbyist if you close your eyes and listen) for such small businesses as General Electric, Microsoft and…..Freddie Mac. Not exactly the resume of a Washington outsider or advocate of the common man or a small business crusader.

Merry Christmas President Obama!

Good News – Bad News

Just before this column was posted the latest economic reports announced that the national unemployment rate is 8.6%. It is a very high number that fails to mask the real pain suffered by so many Americans.

Nevertheless it is the lowest rate since March of 2009 which was when the newly-inaugurated Barack Obama found himself in the middle of an historic economic tsunami. By any objective analysis this new unemployment figure is good news.
We will leave it to the G.O.Tea Party zealots to explain why a lower unemployment rate is not good news for the United States. While “Point of View” is not a platform for prognostication, I predict that by next week one or more of the G.O.Tea Party candidates will explain why a lowering unemployment rate is not good news. Stay tuned.
Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 27, 2011

This week we watched what’s left of the reputation of Arnold Schwarzenegger go up in flames while the alleged sexual predator Dominique Strauss-Kahn made bail and is holed up in Tribeca. Meanwhile, the Republican presidential derby is in such disarray that Sarah Palin is feeling the fire in her well-fed belly. As the killing of Osama bin Laden fades with each succeeding news cycle hope grows that expecting change in America’s Afghanistan war strategy makes more sense than waiting for The Rapture. And finally, we should take a minute to consider what caused the presidential candidacy of Mitch Daniels to be strangled at birth.

She’s Baaack!

Reams have been written about the lack of quality candidates in the G.O.Tea Party corral. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Doubting Donald Trump, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour or former Arkansas governor (and Fox News star) Mike Huckabee were certainly correct in assessing their chances of beating Barack Obama as being between slim and you’ve got to be kidding.

Still, it is amazing that the renegades and rogues are taking over the G.O.Tea Party asylum. Congressman Ron Paul who proposed abolishing the Federal Reserve Bank and just about everything else is a leading candidate. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who doesn’t have the good sense to be quiet so people only think that she is ignorant, is also a leading candidate. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is tied up in knots trying to explain his tawdry and hypocritical marital history while trying to be a “common man” with a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s. And he is a leading candidate.

And now, the grisly grizzly mom herself, Sarah Palin, has announced that she has that “fire in her belly” and is seriously considering running for president. Perhaps she is hoping that the American people will not recall her spectacularly self-centered flame out after the Tucson Massacre. Or she may think that the current crop of candidates has set the bar so low that she can sashay into the field and carry the G.O.Tea Party banner in an electoral contest with President Obama.

President Obama should be so lucky.

Are We There Yet?

The death of Osama bin Laden gave rise to much discussion regarding the meaning and import of his departure from the global stage. A key item that has been raised relates to the expectation in some circles that bin Laden’s death gives the Obama Administration the perfect opportunity to reconfigure its Afghanistan strategy, flipping the script, so to speak.

After all, a cogent argument can be made that al Qaeda has been definitely, and probably fatally, decapitated. The causus belli for the American presence in Afghanistan was to wipe out the al Qaeda base of operations that plotted the 9/11 attack on the United States. That mission has been accomplished.

Billions of dollars are being spent in Afghanistan every week while police, teachers and hospital workers are furloughed in the United States. Over $100 billion dollars will be spent in Afghanistan this year while programs ranging from Planned Parenthood to Head Start are being cut or put “on the table” of Republican budget chopping frenzy.

The loss of treasure and loss of life is insupportable. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al Qaeda is crippled. No American is safer in the United States because of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It is time.

Are we there yet?

The Tragedy of Mitch Daniels

Last week Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced that he would not be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. It will come as no surprise that I am not a great fan of Governor Daniels, yet I find the cause for his departure to be troubling and tragic.

News reports indicate that the reason for his presumptive departure from the race is that his marital history includes a story about him and his current wife divorcing and then remarrying 4 years later. In the interim Mrs. Daniels married another man and then divorced him to remarry Governor Daniels.

The fact that this entirely private and personal matter would have any impact on the presidential aspirations of anyone can be traced directly to the ravenous maw of the American press machine. Governor and Mrs. Daniels were quite correct in thinking that the media would focus on the marriage-divorce-remarriage story to the exclusion of anything else that Candidate Daniels might have to say.

Reporters and commentators would be frothing at the mouth while recounting every detail of this couple’s life together and apart. Not only is this wrong, the Daniels story is a teaching moment for anyone else who might seek public office.

Everyone has aspects of their private life that they would rather not be part of a CNN “Breaking News” story. And everyone has a right to that privacy, even candidates for public office.

There is not even a hint of illegal or even improper conduct associated with the Daniels’ story. It is just the story of a couple who are living their lives. And it is not the business of the press or the public to make these kinds of inquiries.

The departure of Mitch Daniels from the presidential race is a shameful commentary on the American press and the American public.

Finally, for the sake of all of us, Point of View has now been declared a Cornel-Free Zone.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Ball of Confusion

Even a non-partisan observer of the Republican efforts to find a challenger for the 2012 presidential election would be more than baffled at the clownish cavorting that has taken place during the past year. The entire process seems that it has been produced and directed by Barnum & Bailey.

The American public has been subjected to the spectacle of a so-called “Grizzly Mom” who used to be governor of Alaska acting as if she knew something about anything. That Sarah Palin, a person so obviously allergic to knowledge and a stranger to original thought could have ever been seriously considered as a presidential candidate is a stunning commentary on the poverty of the Republican field of potential candidates.

And then Ms. Palin went from “grizzly” to just plain grisly when she made her unfortunate and incredibly self-centered comments after the Tucson Massacre. Since then she has continued to happily pocket millions of dollars from television shows and speeches, but even the G.O.Tea Party stalwarts don’t take her as a serious contender.

Last weekend Mike Huckabee, the former 300 pound governor of Arkansas and unsuccessful presidential candidate in the 2008 cycle announced that he would not run for president in 2012. I have to presume that Mr. Huckabee thought that most of America was waiting with bated breath for his Decision 2011.

In point of fact his decision not to run may have been the most eloquent expression of his intelligence in recent memory. After all, this is the same Mike Huckabee who has stated repeatedly that he does not believe in evolution and believes that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs (seriously). This is also the same Mike Huckabee who carried the soiled and discredited banner of the now discredited racist birther zealots.

In the end, Mr. Huckabee clearly decided that he would rather continue to make millions of dollars as a part of the Fox News Empire. Certainly he can at least make money spreading lies and mistruths. It is pretty clear that it was never going to get him elected president.

At the beginning of this week Doubting Donald Trump announced that he is has made his “Decision” and he will not be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. Doubting Donald’s announcement could not have been a surprise for anyone who watched him being barbecued and French fried at the White House Correspondents Dinner on the eve of the announcement by President Obama of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

It is presumed that he is still applying salve to his scorched and bruised ego as he scuttles back to his personal Trump World where he is still the center of the universe. He will not be scuttling for free, however, as it has also been announced that his faux reality show “The Apprentice” will be renewed for another season, bringing more unearned and undeserved dollars into the Trump coffers.

I have to wonder if and when the G.O.Tea Party adherents will recognize that they are being played in such an obvious and sleazy fashion. The most humble of hookers recognizes a pimp, what happened to the Republicans?

It is clear that Palin, Huckabee and Trump have all used and abused the platform that was provided to them by G.O.Tea Party stalwarts who believed that these individuals were providing some kind of answer to their call for an alternative to Barack Obama.

Palin, Huckabee and others have used this legitimate political interest to burnish their “brands” and make untold sums of money in the process.

I don’t believe for a minute that the recent announcement by Newt Gingrich (Newt Gingrich???) that he is running for president is legitimate. Newt Gingrich knows that he hasn’t had an original thought since his ill-fated Contract with America” almost two decades ago.

Newt knows that he is still tarred with the brush of responsibility when it comes to the shutdown of the federal government during his otherwise undistinguished tenure as Speaker of the House.

Newt also knows that the American public (especially American women) will not react favorably when they learn that he served divorce papers on his first (of three wives) wife as she was coming out of cancer surgery.

While most people are able to accept a dollop of hypocrisy with their political brew, it will be hard for Newt to explain how he could seek to impeach President Bill Clinton for his indiscretions at the exact same time that he was having an extramarital affair with one of his staff members.

What Newt also knows is that in building a “brand” it only matters that his name is spelled right. Newt will, at some point in the next 6-8 months withdraw as a candidate and go on to reap more revenues from his impressive array of corporate entities.

And the G.O.Tea Party will have been pimped again.

Point of View Columns

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!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 3, 2011

The G.O.Tea Party seems to be running a contest for “America’s Dumbest” in searching for a candidate to run against Barack Obama. Now Mike Huckabee has stumbled into the lead by falsely claiming that President Obama was raised by his Kenyan father in……..Kenya! We should not, however, take our eyes off Africa as the winds of change seem to be on the verge of heading south from Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. We should, however, avert our eyes from the Charlie Sheen debacle.

America’s Dumbest!

In a radio interview earlier this week, Mike Huckabee claimed that President Obama had a different view of the world because “he was raised in Kenya by his Kenyan father and grandfather”.

He went on to claim that this was where he obtained his anti-imperialist views (presumably a bad thing on the Planet Huckabee) and also where he learned to sympathize with the Mau Maus.

Perhaps Governor Huckabee was mangling the Gospel according to Dinesh D ‘Souza who has also opined that President Obama was channeling the philosophy of his anti-colonialist father.

The facts are that Barack Obama never lived in Kenya, that he was born in Hawaii that he spent a few years of his early childhood in Indonesia and “grew up” in the United States. Clearly Mike Huckabee won’t let facts get in the way of a good lie.

Of course this is all part of a damnable effort to demonize and delegitimize Barack Obama. It is important to people like Mike Huckabee to turn President Obama into the “other” so that useful debates regarding ability, quality of thought and vision never enter take place.

It would appear that people like Huckabee and other neo-birthers feel that they will come up short if the political discourse addresses ability, quality of thought and vision instead of fairy tales.

Eyes on Africa

Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim is a name that we should all know. Mo Ibrahim is a billionaire who made his fortune bringing cell phone systems to Africa.

He has now established a multimillion dollar “Ibrahim Prize” to reward African leaders who actually lead and engage in good governance. In an excellent article in the New Yorker magazine – http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/03/07/110307fa_fact_auletta – Ken Auletta profiles Mr. Ibrahim and his dream of a progressive Africa led by progressive leaders.

This may not be just a dream. Remember that in last week’s “Weekend Edition” I mentioned some of dynasties and oligarchies that were standing in the way of progress in Africa – Teodoro Obiang – Equatorial Guinea – 32 years, Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe – 24 years, Yoweri Museveni – 25 years, the Bongo family – Gabon – 43 years.

As of this writing these African oligarchies persist. But events move rapidly as Hosni Mubarak can attest. Keep an eye on Mo Ibrahim and his movement.

Sick Transit Charlie Sheen

During the past week we have been inundated with Charlie Sheen screeds, rants and ravings. Clearly there is no news or entertainment value in viewing to what is an increasingly sad meltdown.

It is also sad that there is a voyeuristic aspect to the news and entertainment industries that makes people want to watch self destruction in real time.

Richie Havens once wrote, “Hey, c’mon, you’ve got something better to do.”

Have a great weekend!