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 – May 11, 2012

Saint Santorum ate a great big fat helping of humble pie as he endorsed Mitt Romney in a late night e-mail. I bet THAT made him want to throw up. Meanwhile Aesop and the Brothers Grimm better move over as Mitt Romney is clearing making a move into the fable and fairy tale industry sector by claiming credit for the recovery of the auto industry. And finally, almost fifty years ago the writer James Baldwin warned us of “the fire next time”. He also issued some another warning that is worth heeding a half century later.

Love That Humble Pie!

Saint Santorum has spent the better part of a year telling us that Mitt Romney is a terrible person and a horrible choice to be the Teapublican nominee for president. He went so far as to exclaim that Romney would be “the worst person to be the Republican nominee”. Those are pretty strong and unambiguous words coming from the Pennsylvania Zealot.

You may recall Saint Santorum famously telling the world that a speech by John F. Kennedy advocating religious freedom in the political arena made him “want to throw up”. So we have to wonder how Saint Santorum’s delicate tummy reacted when he endorsed “the worst person to be the Republican nominee” to actually be the Republican nominee.

Of course the world of politics is full of accommodations and compromises. Indeed accommodations and compromise are what permits the political process to function in a useful fashion.

But we have been led to believe that, on the Planet Santorum, there are only absolutes and there is no room for compromise on issues like taxation, reproductive choice or social service strategies.

Clearly, on the Planet Santorum there is plenty of room for compromise and accommodation when it will benefit the political career of Saint Santorum, the patron saint of the Planet Santorum.

Romney’s Fairy Tales

Mary had a little lamb. Jack and Jill went up the hill. Little Miss Muffett sat on a tuffet. Add to that Mitt Romney being responsible for saving the American auto industry.

It appears that, in addition to running for president, Mitt Romney intends to vie for the position of story teller-in-chief. Last week he actually stated that he deserves a lot of the credit for the recovery of the auto industry because the affected companies followed his suggestion to restructure and reconfigure their business strategies.

Mitt Romney must have been stricken with a rare case of selective amnesia because in 2007 he personally wrote an op-ed article clearly advocating letting American auto companies go bankrupt. During the recent Teapublican primaries he severely and regularly criticizes President Obama for “bailing out” the auto industry with
taxpayer funds.

In point of fact, if Romney’s 2007 proposal was followed well over one million American workers (auto industry and related businesses) would be permanently out of work. If President Obama had not shown the leadership by calling for the investment of taxpayer dollars in an industry that is critical to the American economy the Bush-Cheney Depression would have been even more severe.

For Mitt Romney to claim credit for the recovery of the auto industry would be like (to use one of his favorite phrases) the rooster taking credit for the sun coming up.

On November 6th Mr. Romney will learn that the American people just aren’t as stupid as he thinks. He may be suffering from convenient bouts of amnesia but not everyone else is.

Remembering James Baldwin

James Baldwin was simply a great American writer who gained public notice and fame in the 1960’s. He is known for such great works as “The Fire Next Time”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Giovanni’s Room”. He was a great novelist, playwright and………..essayist. Here is a quote from James Baldwin that is almost fifty years old:
“Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have”

As we ponder the shameful machinations of the money machine fueled by the Koch brothers the Billionaires Boys Club, we can clearly see the impact of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which empowers ignorant and malignant political policy. Attacks on civil rights, human rights, women’s rights and the environment are now a part of the everyday news cycle.

Denial of evolution, global warming and the importance of the social contract are no longer academic exercises in backwater colleges and universities. We are on the verge of policies born of incredible ignorance reshaping the every aspect of this country’s existence.

Of course it has also been written that evil triumphs when good people do nothing. It would seem that, after fifty years, it is time to pay attention to what James Baldwin wrote.

Have a great weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!

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Point of View Columns

The Teapublican Circular Firing Squad

The G.O.Tea Party Presidential Klown Kavalcade has alternated from being comical to darkly dangerous to farcical to appalling. The constant lurching to the right wing of the right wing has turned the party that was founded around the concept of abolishing slavery to a gaggle of mean-spirited Teapublicans for whom no excess is excessive as long as it is cloaked in the threadbare cloth of conservatism.

The Teapublican Party embarked on an unprecedented strategy of intransigent partisan opposition from the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated as president. There is no policy, no program, no legislation, and no appointment that they have supported if it was seen as part of the Obama Administration. Clearly condemning President Obama to failure as a one term president has been more important than the health and welfare of the American people.

In their gleeful haste to unseat Barack Obama at all costs, the Teapublican candidates have relentlessly attacked each other as being undeserving of wearing the mantle of the G.O.Tea Party Avenger. It is not enough, in this Tea Party parallel universe, to simply defeat Barack Obama. It is of even greater importance that every policy of his be reversed and that the country is subject to reverse social engineering – eradicating every concept of a shared national purpose, compassion and social connectivity.

Saint Santorum has been almost hysterical in his claim that President Obama represents the greatest danger to this country in modern history. His hysteria at the prospect of a second Obama term in office is matched only by his horror at the idea of contraception and the right of women to choose how to live their lives. In Saint Santorum’s world, women have the right to bear children, home school those children and presumably fix meals for their lord and master and his progeny that she has been blessed to bear. And all along he continues to attack Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich has been a walking dead candidate for months, but thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision regular transfusions of billionaire dollars from the outer fringes of the right wing have kept him standing. And so Mr. Gingrich, who presents himself as the smartest person in the room, continues to prove that he is definitely not.

He has shown a remarkable ability to distort and misrepresent the facts, however. His views on the Obama Administration foreign policy have only served to bring clouds of confusion into international dialogue with bellicose rants about Russia, China and Iran. And all along he continues to attack Mitt Romney and Saint Santorum.

Not to be outdone, Mitt Romney has declared Russia as America’s number one geopolitical enemy (leaving some to wonder who is number two, and so on). Aside from revealing a thought process that would be more fitting during an episode of “Mad Men” in the 1960’s, Mr. Romney has shown himself to be willing to say just about anything to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for bile that exists on the right wing of the right wing. And all the while he continues to criticize Saint Santorum and Newt Gingrich for having the nerve to continue to run against him.

Ron Paul continues to be the ultimate outlier, attacking anybody and everybody. In Ron Paul’s world it is clearly each man for himself and women and children had better watch out.

This circular firing squad that the G.O.Tea Party has organized shows no signs of winding down anytime soon. While the nomination of Mitt Romney seems inevitable, it is not inevitable that the Teapublican zealots will embrace a man who has been compared to a well-lubricated weathervane when it comes to his political position(s).

Indeed, it will be interesting to watch when the Klown Kavalcade comes to Tampa for the Republican convention this August. It is hard to believe that the end of what promises to be raucous and riotous proceedings that the Teapublicans will come together and be the wind under Mitt Romney’s wings.

It is quite possible that the true believers, following Saint Santorum as their good shepherd will simply walk away from Mitt Romney and either stay home or run a quixotic third party campaign.

While this scenario makes no logical sense, to quote former president George W. Bush, never “misunderestimate” the zealots.

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Point of View Columns

Are Women Missing in Action?

It is time to stop thinking that the spectacle of the Teapublican Party lurching ever farther to the right is a momentary phase that will soon be corrected by more moderate factions within that party and within this country. And while the cold blue flame of hatred for the very existence of Barack Obama in the White House may have fueled the initial conflagration, the fire has spread through a forest of policy issues, incinerating everything in sight. For an example we need look no further than the undeclared war on women that is now in full view.

During the past year we have witnessed the right wing of the right wing make the eradication of Planned Parenthood an article of faith during the Teapublican presidential campaign. That would be the same Planned Parenthood that provides millions of women with affordable health care that would otherwise simply not receive. While less than 5% of Planned Parenthood’s services have anything to do with the termination of pregnancies, the holy warriors of the right are demanding the death of this provider of vital services for women and girls – without any thought of accommodation or compromise.

Numerous local and state legislatures have engaged in the hideous charade of protecting the rights of the accused while redefining and restructuring the definition of rape. The results of this gerrymandering of the borders of sexual conduct will only make it more difficult for female victims of sexual abuse and rape to obtain justice. And the clear result (and the intent of the proponents of these changes) is that even more women will remain in the silent shadows of shame and fear knowing that Teapublican justice for women in just a hologram and not really there.

We have seen Saint Santorum and his fake apostles rail against contraception because it enables people to “engage in sexual behavior that they shouldn’t be doing”. It would be bad enough if this latter day Savonarola was content with controlling the sex lives of men and women. What is clear from his comments and those of his believers is that women should accept pregnancy that is the result of rape as a “gift from God” and that abolishing contraception will return women to their rightful childbearing, obedient and disenfranchised status.

As you are reading this the Teapublican majority in the United State House of Representatives blocked the attempt to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. This Act has been deemed responsible for reducing domestic violence rates by 58% since it was initially passed (with almost unanimous bipartisan support) in 1994 (how times have changed). That there could be any political philosophy that argues against preventing rape and violence against women is obscene. That the sewage-filled mainstream of American politics can seriously discuss denying health care to women and referring to pregnancies that are the result of rape as “gifts from God” is blasphemous and monstrous.

There is one thing missing from this sad and dismal landscape. Where are the female warriors who are leading the hand to hand battle to wrest the self-righteous standard from the clutches of the self-appointed wardens of women?

Where is the Queen Boudicca or Golda Meir or Harriet Tubman or Benazir Bhutto?
It is difficult for me to imagine Margaret Thatcher or Carrie Nation or Mary McLeod Bethune standing by in muted protest while the rights of women were being sacked and pillaged in broad daylight. Perhaps the successful struggles for the rights of women have left the movement tired and satisfied. Perhaps there has been a feeling that rights, once obtained, could never be taken back.

Frederick Douglass correctly stated that power concedes nothing without demand. The companion thought is that rights are never retained without power. And certainly, the history of humanity shows that the rights of women have never been freely accepted or granted. And so, the Teapublican assault on women should not have been a surprise.

Nevertheless, the “muted protest” of women is puzzling in the extreme. The Teapublican agenda regarding women is clear in its steel-toed strategy, kicking women back into line and into the 19th century. Misogynist and sexist thoughts that could not be openly spoken in the public arena a few years ago are now part of the public policy debate.

On this Planet Earth nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed and nothing is forever. Women and men who believe that the rights of women are firmly embedded in the rights of all humanity need to wake up as the Teapublican fires threaten to burn down the forest of rights that it has taken so long to establish and preserve.

Remember November 6th!

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