Point of View Columns

The Trouble with Trump

Donald Trump has become the poster boy for the New Jacked Up 21st century politics. Bluster, bigotry and bullying are now legitimate credentials for a presidential candidate, at least in the universe in which Teapublicans reside. While the spectacle that is the Trump campaign threatens the seating arrangement in the already overcrowded Teapublican Clown Car, there is actually a danger that the other candidates will try to out-Trump Trump in order to suck up some precious media oxygen.

As you are reading this, Donald Trump, the Heavyweight Self-Promoting Champion of the World, is leading all Teapublican candidates in national polls. Most self-confessed Teapublicans want him to stay in the race despite the daily exhibitions of classless and tasteless excess which define Trump as a candidate and as a human being. And as you are reading this it becomes clear that Donald Trump is not a momentary publicity comet flitting across the American skies (see Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain). His star has staying power and all of his competitors for the Teapublican crown know it.

It is now a bizarre badge of honor for Teapublican candidates to be attacked by Donald Trump. Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Lindsey Graham are thankful to be his targets because that means that for a few nanoseconds their name will be mentioned in the same breath as The Donald. Without being asked to respond to his insults, they would have few, if any talking points that anyone else wants to hear.

While Democrats are looking for ways to keep The Donald Clown Balloon floating high, they should be careful what they ask for. Donald Trump is impervious to insult and insulated from concern as to what others think. His run for president is an example of superselfindulgence on steroids. But, and this is important, if the polls are to be believed, there are millions (millions!) of American voters who think that Donald Trump is a serious presidential candidate.

Consider that just six years ago this country was in what was arguably the most profound, and certainly the most frightening financial crisis in its history. During the past six years a plans for universal healthcare coverage and reform of the financial regulatory system were devised and implements.

During this time this country has had to address crises ranging from the BP oil spill to the collapse of the Iraqi government to the rise of ISIS and the multiple implications of the Arab Spring. The dawning realization of the impact of climate change, addressing the necessity of a nuclear weapons agreement with Iran and the continued carnage that is woven into the fabric of the United States of Gun are all realities in modern America.

Russia in the Ukraine, new Chinese bellicosity and the explosive realization that black lives do matter, especially in the face of the domestic terror that American racism has supported are all issues that the President of the United States has had to address and we can be sure of only one thing, there will be no certainties for the next President, not here in the United States, not here on this planet.

It is virtually impossible to believe that Donald Trump has the competence, intelligence or intellectual capacity to manage all of these issues and more. But what Donald Trump has done is lower the bar for what are considered requisite qualifications to be president. Donald Trump is the one with the loudest bluster. Donald Trump is the one prepared to wrap himself in the hate-soaked banner of bigotry in order to curry favor with the haters and the bigots. And by being the loudest bully on the Teapublican block he has virtually eliminated any possibility of intelligent debate on that block.

Democrats and Teapublicans alike should be concerned. By demeaning the presidential selection process with his antics, Donald Trump is also demeaning the institution of the presidency. If asinine antics and a half-baked act that wouldn’t make it in Las Vegas are enough to qualify someone to be a serious presidential candidate, then the presidency itself becomes seriously devalued.

And that is a danger that this country can ill afford in the 21st century.

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Point of View Columns

The Turtle on the Fence Post

Country sayings are interesting and, in many instances, can be true. For example, if you see a turtle on a fence post, you can be pretty sure that it did not get there on its own. Similarly, when we see voting restrictions being imposed all over the country, we can be sure that it is neither a matter of coincidence or serendipity.

Almost immediately upon the election of President Obama in 2009, Teapublicans began a monomaniacal jihad with the sole goal of preventing him from being reelected. This group of supposed patriots hit upon the idea of restricting voting rights and the ethnic cleansing of voter rolls as a way of diminishing the support for Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Historians will view this as strategy that is soaked in brutal irony – the patriotic right wing that claims to revere the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence has sought to deny the right to vote to certain Americans.

It took some time for the Teapublicans to get their act together, but after the Roberts-Alito-Thomas-Scalia Supreme Court cabal eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013, the path to constitutional villainy became an open highway. Indeed over fifteen states and numerous towns, counties and municipalities have instituted laws, rules and regulations which have as their goal the restriction of voting rights.

Claims that these laws, rules and regulations are intended to prevent voter fraud are simply lies. There are no statistical reports which indicate anything but a miniscule number of voter fraud cases over the past two decades. The fact that the voting rights restrictions have nothing to do with concerns about voter fraud brings us back to the story of the turtle on the fence post.

The effect of the voting rights restrictions has been to reduce the opportunity of blacks, Latinos, the elderly, the very young and the very poor from exercising their franchise as citizens of this country. The individuals in these demographic sectors are not known to be traditional supporters of Teapublican candidates or the Teapublican agenda.

Is this result simply a coincidence? Are voting limitations on the constituencies that elected and reelected Barack Obama just an unintended consequence of the Teapublican initiatives, however fortunate it might be for the right wing of the right wing? Just think about that turtle on the fence post.

The reality is that many of the current riders in the Teapublican Presidential Clown Bus have supported these voter suppression strategies – Chris Christie in New Jersey, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in Florida, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz in Texas are up to their eyeballs in denying constitutional rights to American citizens who don’t figure to support them. They will deny this, of course, but remember that turtle on the fence post.

The Teapublican voter suppression strategy began after Barack Obama was elected. This strategy has never had anything to do with voter fraud. This strategy has always been about reducing the turnout of voters likely to support Barack Obama and Democrats in general. And any Teapublican who is thinking about running for President of the United States will want to stack the deck in their favor by diminishing the turnout of the Obama/Democratic base.

So, as the denials will spew from the likes of Christie/Walker/Bush/Rubio/Perry/Cruz………….just remember that turtle on the fence post.

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Point of View Columns

Fool Me Once

One very clear aspect of history is that the facts don’t change. But it is also very clear that the interpretation of those facts can mold history to suit the convenience of the interpreters. The fact is that senior officials of the Bush-Cheney Administration are arguably the architects of the most flawed American foreign policy in modern times. Yet those responsible for the policy debacle for which Americans are still paying the price are actually giving their opinions on foreign policy and critiquing the Obama Administration.

We could begin with Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the eight year fiasco that was the Bush-Cheney Administration. She was presumably on duty when everything but a skywritten message was warning of the 9/11 attacks. She was also part of the team that hoodwinked the American people and bamboozled a group of easily cowed “allies” into plunging headfirst into the bloody muck and mire that was the Iraq war. She was also a part of the team that jumped into Afghanistan feet first with no discernible exit strategy.

It is because of the Bush-Cheney Administration, including Dr. Rice,  that the United States economy suffered severe body blows from the costs associated with these unfunded wars of choice. It is because of the mistakes, misdeeds and outright deception engaged in by the Bush-Cheney Administration, including Dr. Rice, that thousands of American soldiers died needlessly and thousands more will suffer needlessly for the rest of their lives.

It is good to believe in redemption, but it would seem that the alumni of the Bush-Cheney cabal are peddling mass amnesia without even the slightest hint of humility or remorse for their errors and sins. Condoleezza Rice giving foreign policy advice is the logical equivalent of Sarah Palin advising on national campaign strategy or Rick Perry giving debating tips.

Are the American people supposed to forget or ignore the blood that is pooling at the doorsteps of the Bush-Cheney legacy? When we see the likes of Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld emerging from the wreckage of their foreign policy missteps as if nothing bad happened under their watch, are the American people supposed to forget the damage and disaster that occurred?

It seems that the Teapublicans are particularly adept at burying their mistakes in the mud of history assuming that the attention span of the American public is just slightly longer than that of a goldfish. But the survivors of 9/11 victims remember. The survivors and family of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remember.

And there’s more. The millions of Americans who are “structurally unemployed” because of the dislocation occasioned by the Bush-Cheney cabal remember. And the millions of Americans who lost their homes when they were caught in the vortex caused by unfunded and unnecessary wars combined with greed-driven tax cuts remember.

The sight of these architects of misery shamelessly sharing their world views is all the more appalling in light of the Teapublican fascination with the word “scandal”. Like a spoiled child with yet another toy the Teapublicans yelp and yowl and holler “scandal” anytime they can cobble together another criticism of the Obama Administration.

When real scandals were taking place during the Bush-Cheney years, there were appeals for bipartisanship and calls for national unity regardless of the errors that were made. The fact that errors of omission were made by the Bush Administration prior to 9/11 somehow didn’t move the needle on the Teapublican Scandal Meter. The fact that errors of commission were made by the Bush Administration in falsely claiming the existence of weapons of mass destruction as the causus belli in Iraq was never deemed to be a scandal even though this country continues to reel from the consequences of that awful war of choice.

Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and now even George W. Bush, can preen and parade across the television screens acting as if all went well during their dance with disaster. But the American people know better and history will not treat them kindly.

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Point of View Columns

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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Point of View Columns

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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Point of View Columns

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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Point of View Columns

Hide The Klowns!

The delicious symbolism of a Hurricane Isaac bearing down on Tampa just as the Teapublican convention begins is clearly the product of a divine script. But rain and gale force winds cannot possibly hide all the Krazy Klowns that have descended upon this Florida city. The powers that want to be of the Republican National Committee have tried to hack into the GPS devices of the Krazy Klowns, but they are coming to town anyway. And there aren’t enough attics, basements and closets available to hide them all.

Congressman Ted Akins kind of jumped the gun with his “legitimate” rape rant, but it is not as if Akins is the source of shame and dismay in the Teapublican Party. His odious and Neanderthal perspective on women is shared by many members of the legions of the right wing of the right wing including the presumptive vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan.

After all, it is Paul Ryan who has joined Congressman Akins in co-sponsoring bill after bill calling for the ban of all abortions, even in the instance of rape and incest. After all, the Teapublican Party platform calls for the ban of all abortions, even in the instance of rape and incest. And Mitt Romney is on the record as seeking to limit reproductive choice for women only in the instance of rape and incest – a position Paul Ryan calls “a step in the right direction”.

As you settle back to watch the Teapublican Klown Kavalcade with a glass of wine (or strychnine) there is an interesting bit of information that the leadership of the RNC would desperately prefer that you ignore. The following individuals have all led Mitt Romney in polling for president – Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

That would be Michele Bachmann who believes that God wanted her to run for president – although obviously God did not want her to win. Herman Cain, the pizza mini-magnate who couldn’t seem to tell the difference between a friendship and an affair and has ideas “twirling around” in his head was considered by many Teapublicans to be preferable to Mitt Romney.

Rodeo Rick “Oops” Perry was the darling of the right wing of the right wing until it became perfectly clear that Governor Perry was all hat and no cattle. And still, at this very moment, there are Teapublican delegates in Tampa who would vote for Rick Perry if they are allowed to do so. And we can’t forget Saint Santorum who wholeheartedly agrees with Paul Ryan that a rapist’s child is a gift from God to the rape victim.

Donald Trump, he of the manufactured hair and the contrived lies (or is it the contrived hair and the manufactured lies), played a latter day Dumb Quixote tilting at the birther windmill, that is until he was absolutely skewered and barbequed by President Obama at the National Press Club Annual Dinner. And The Donald, like a bad smell or a bad dream, still won’t go away.

And finally, it wasn’t too long ago that Newt Gingrich was the Teapublican flavor of the month (basically defined as Anybody But Romney). His ignoble failure at leadership as Speaker of the House and his pitiful personal narrative were bad enough. The fact that it was revealed on the national stage that he really had no reason to be so impressed with Newt Gingrich pretty much sealed the coffin of the Gingrich candidacy….and I haven’t mentioned Ron Paul who has been so moved by that fashionable neo-fascist Ayn Rand that he named his son, U.S. Senator Rand Paul after her (can you imagine a Democrat naming his son/daughter Marx?).

Nevertheless, there will be thousands of Teapublicans on full display who truly believe that a rapist’s child is a gift from God and that Barack Obama is a Kenyan, Muslim anti-Christ. There are presumably sane men and women who will contend that fraudulent claims of voter fraud are a legitimate tactic to deny the right to vote to black Americans.

The airwaves will be full of frothing Teapublicans who want to bomb Iran, shoot illegal immigrants and shred the social safety net. Shrinking the federal government to a size so that it could be drowned in a bathtub may be Grover Norquist’s ghoulish catch phrase, but most of the people that you see on television this week believe that this catch phrase articulates a strategy that will make this country better.

And underlying this entire maelstrom inside of a hurricane will be the gusting winds of racism. Toure and Chris Matthews at MSNBC have come under criticism for telling the truth. Ascribing foreign and un-American characteristics to President Obama are slick and slimy methods of playing the race card and stoking the mindless and soulless racist resentment that fuels the white heat of opposition to the very existence of Barack Obama on this planet.

And meanwhile, Mitt Romney blithely lobs not very subtle racist dog whistles and slime balls by touting his citizenship even though, ironically, his father George Romney actually was not born in the United States. But as Romney grips and grins his way through this outrageously gruesome Klown Karnival, the RNC leadership hopes that no one is watching…..or really listening.

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