Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 21, 2011

The death of Muammar Qaddafi was bloody and brutal. Somewhere in presidential palaces in Yemen and Syria and Zimbabwe getaway plans are being plotted. And somewhere members of the G.O.Tea Party are trying to find a way to make the obviously successful strategy pursued by President Obama seem like a mistake. Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh proved once again that you can be stupid and be on the radio at the same time. And it seems that, with his 9-9-9 mumbo jumbo tax plan, Herman Cain may have proved that Michele Bachmann can be right even when the moon isn’t blue.

Was Obama Right After All?

The gory death of Muammar Qaddafi was a lesson to the leaders of nations that seek to impose their will on their people with a sense of entitlement that they seem to believe is divinely inspired. One year ago the notion of Colonel Qaddafi being dragged through the streets of his hometown and slain with a bullet through the head would have been the stuff of fiction. Now it is on CNN.

Leaders in countries like Zimbabwe and Yemen and Syria and elsewhere have seen the decline and fall of their fellow leaders for life. There are some important lessons to be learned. The quick learners will find a way to go to London or Geneva for “health reasons” (which will be true). The slow learners will join the ranks of Qaddafi, Mubarak and Ceausescu and all the others who couldn’t read the writing on the wall.

Meanwhile, the G.O.Tea Party must be searching high and low to figure out how to make President Obama’s successful Libyan strategy look like a mistake. By being smart and leading with his brains instead of his chin he was able to avoid American casualties or turning a genuine Libyan revolution into yet another American misadventure.

And, speaking of misadventures, President Obama announced today that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. Seeing this country finally extricate itself from this neo-con-inspired morass will do little for the families of all of the dead American troops or for the millions of Iraqis who are struggling to rebuild shattered lives in their shattered country.

We can be sure that the G.O.Tea Party zealots will find some rationale for criticizing Barack Obama for ending this modern American nightmare. I guess that on the Planet G.O.Tea saving American lives and money as well as repairing the prestige of this country is wrong if it is done by anyone named Obama.

Radio Head

Just when you think that Rush Limbaugh can’t get any more stupid, he sets the bar lower.

This past week President Obama dispatched 100 Special Forces troops to Uganda to assist that country in combating the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA, which has been around for over a decade, is a particularly wretched and squalid thug horde which has specialized in torture, rape, murder and gratuitous pillaging through central Africa. Any effort to eliminate the LRA scourge from the lives of the people of Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere should be greeted with approval.

However, Rush Limbaugh, seizing upon the word “Lord” in the title of the LRA assumed that it was some kind of gathering of Christian soldiers waging holy war against murderous Muslims. Limbaugh would be funny if he weren’t so stupid. What isn’t funny is that there are millions of Americans who will actually believe what he says.

The Devil is in the Details

During one of the recent Republican presidential debates – seemingly produced by Comedy Central – Michele Bachmann, commenting on Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” tax “plan” opined that if 9-9-9 was turned upside down it would be 6-6-6 which is, of course, the sign of the Devil. It was a fair to middling laugh line except many observers thought that Ms. Bachmann was serious.

It turns out she was right – and the moon wasn’t blue. Upon further analysis it turns out that the pizza baron’s tax plan, if implemented would raise the taxes on a mind boggling 84% of Americans. Not surprisingly for a Koch brother’s sock puppet, Mr. Cain’s plan would reduce taxes for 26% of the highest earning Americans. A truly devilish outcome that would only increase the structural inequities that already exist.

Mr. Cain asked Americans to “do the math”. The math has been done and it doesn’t look good for him.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Is Cain Able?

Sarah “Lock and Load” Palin wants to call him “Herb”, but lots of people are getting to know who Herman Cain is. This is great news for Herman Cain Enterprises as he has skillfully used the platform of his presidential campaign to sell his books (his latest is appropriately titled “This is Herman Cain!”) and to hike his average speaking engagement fee when his campaign ends. This would be a riff on the Alan Keyes routine of getting rich by running for president. Indeed, Herman Cain reminds me of Alan Keyes, but with a better resume.

Mr. Cain continues to make mini-headlines by telling an unemployed worker to “get a job and get rich” because clearly, on the Planet Cain, that’s all one has to do. The combination of hard work, good fortune and opportunity don’t have a thing to do with financial success.

Mr. Cain repeatedly points out that he has no experience in government as if that is a qualification for being President of the United States. If he really believed that lack of experience is an asset one wonders what the hiring policies at Godfather’s Pizza were like when he was chairman. It also has to be noted that, like so many of the other G.O.Tea Party denizens, Herman Cain has a rocky relationship with the truth.

Mr. Cain served as a board member and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. That is not an honorary sinecure and it certainly is a very serious part of government. Mr. Cain was also a senior advisor to the Dole-Kemp presidential campaign which tells us that he is not exactly the pure political virgin that he pretends to be.

When questioned about his knowledge of foreign policy Herman Cain proudly proclaims his ignorance. He stated that he doesn’t need to know about “small, insignificant countries” and that he would have advisors who would tell him what he needs to know in that regard.

Cain is wrong in so many ways on this. First, Afghanistan used to be a “small, insignificant country” until thousands of Americans were killed through attacks that were plotted there. Yemen, Somalia, Serbia, Rwanda and the not so small Democratic Republic of the Congo might be insignificant on the Planet Cain, but on the planet Earth worldly knowledge and international awareness are critical.

As for “advisors”, we have in recent history the example of President George W. Bush being famously lazy when it came to the details of foreign policy. “Advisors like Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice and Rumsfeld plunged this country into the bloody maw of unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pursuing a flawed neo-con foreign policy that never had a chance of succeeding. One can only shudder at the thought of a simplistic President Cain being led by foreign policy “advisors” who have agendas that are of no interest to him but could wreck the world.

Herman Cain gets plenty of support from the G.O.Tea Party for saying that there is no racism in the dens and klaverns where the tea partiers gather. When reminded of the clearly racists signage that accompanied the rise of the Tea Party (President Obama with a bone through his nose, for example), he dismisses these occurrences by announcing that those signs don’t appear anymore.

Even Pollyanna would know that the signs have been put away but not thrown away. And even if they have been thrown away for reasons of “political correctness” the hearts of those sign makers and sign carriers are still stained with racism.
And someone should advise Mr. Cain while he sits in his post-racial bubble of delusion that the G.O.Tea Party is not opposing the first black president in order to elect another black president.

The Cain phenomenon is indicative of a truly frightening aspect of the G.O.Tea Party presidential candidacy clown show. There is truly a race to the bottom being played out when it comes to information, awareness and knowledge. Not knowing has become a badge of honor. Not caring about facts and accuracy are surefire applause lines. Denying climate change, believing that Adam and Eve walking with dinosaurs should be taught in public schools, deriding the importance of “small and insignificant countries” is all very dangerous. Knowledge takes hard work. Ignorance is easy.

It has been said that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public. I only hope that this doesn’t also hold true for presidential elections.

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