Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Like many, if not most, liberals, and probably more than a few moderates, I am sickened, or at least saddened, by the so-called “debt deal” on the verge of passage. It was pure political/economic terrorism. And one can argue ad infinitum about President Obama’s negotiating skills, lack thereof, whether he’s a true progressive, a centrist, a closet Republican or simply so fixated on “swing” voters that he risks alienating his entire base in the belief that, come Election Day, it’ll fall in line. Or how this manufactured “crisis” played out entirely on Republican turf—how the Beltway media, and our politicians obsessed over long-term deficits at a time of high unemployment and lame economic growth.

Indeed, worst of all is what the deficit mania, and this deal, may do to the economy, specifically to the middle class, the poor, the unemployed and the soon-to-be-unemployed. Obsessing over deficits at this economic moment is like cutting back on cement while the dam is bursting. You might save some extra cement for those “children and grandchildren” in the pols’ talking points—but nobody will be around to care.

And yet, disappointed as I am, I am also realistic enough to know that if a Republican were in the White House—especially the GOP Version 2011—the outlook would be exponentially worse. Of course, one could reasonably argue that under a GOP president, the Republicans in Congress would simply have raised the debt ceiling, just as they have myriad times in the past. But we have a Democrat at 1600 Pennsy—and everything the GOP does, especially ensuring that the unemployment rate remains elevated, is in the service of destroying Barack Obama’s presidency. The owlish legislative master Mitch McConnell told us as much, in a rare moment of absolute candor.

Aside from destroying Obama, the far Right—backed by the likes of the Koch boys—hopes to dismantle our safety nets, expand the growing chasm between rich and poor, and whites and minorities, and take us back to the Gilded Age, when workers had no rights, Big Business ruled unchallenged, and Black folks were lucky to get jobs as maids and sleeping car porters. My father-in-law worked his ass off for 50 years as a salesman; he lives on a piddling pension and Social Security. Without that safety net, and especially without Medicare, he and his wife would either be dead or on the street today. And that’s where I’ll be when I’m his age, if the Teabagger fringe has anything to say about it.

Look at what the Republicans are doing on the state level, in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere. Assaulting union and women’s rights, and suppressing voter turnout in minority areas, among other outrages. They are out to remake America in their image—or, “take their country back” as they like to say.

But the Progressive backlash against the Walkers, Kasiches, Scotts and Snyders, should be inspiring. And instructive. Now is the time to vent. If you’re pissed off at Obama, go write a blog post. Tweet your ass off. Get it out of your system. Then mobilize in productive ways and fight for progressive change.

Criticize and push and prod the President, sure. But whatever you do, don’t attack him so hard, so viciously and for so long, that you help take him down. He still boasts more progressive achievements than any President since LBJ. And if there is one lesson to be learned from the debt debacle, and the attempted Right Wing takeover in the states, is that elections have consequences. To the extent that liberal and moderate Democrats’ apathy, or exasperation with Obama, led to the 2010 “shellacking,” perhaps the most disastrous election of my lifetime— not for liberals, but for the nation as a whole—those who stayed home, or registered “protest” votes bear some responsibility.

Next time will be even worse. Don’t fool yourself, throw up your hands and say “Meh, Obama, Schmobama, might as well let Romney win.” I remember how ticked off a lot of liberals were at Bill Clinton, how he was viewed as a Republican in Democratic clothing, how he triangulated and dissembled and moved rightward. If there’d been a blogosphere then, God only knows the level of vitriol he might have absorbed from his left. Then, thanks in part to the Ralph Nader candidacy (as well as outright thievery and the stacked Supreme Court), we got Bush-Cheney. And in the depths of that catastrophic administration, I would bet most liberals would have begged to have ol’ Bubba back, warts, stained dress, and all.

And so it will be if we help the Teabaggers take down Barack Obama. But far, far more frightening.


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Dear Mr. President,

I apologize for having been out of touch lately. Life has intruded and I’ve taken a break from my blog. But recent events, and the looming 2012 election have roused me from my slumber.

I needn’t tell you, or any reasonable person, that the sane wing of the Republican Party (and there is one) is being held hostage by its ignorant, fanatical, lunatic fringe—the Mo Brookses, Allen Wests, Joe Walshes, Paul Brouns, Louie Gohmerts and, of course, Michele Bachmanns—known loosely as the Tea Party. And, since the GOP controls the House, thanks in part to catastrophic Democratic and moderate-independent apathy in 2010, these inbred nutbags—and I say that with tough love— have a gun to the entire nation’s left temple.

It is considered vile to casually invoke 9/11; I’ve criticized plenty of people for comparing you and other Democrats to terrorists, merely, for example, because you believe every person’s life is equally precious—regardless of investment portfolio—and that, therefore, we are all equally entitled to the best health care. But the analogy here, amid the trumped up “debt ceiling fight,” is inescapable. Just as the al- Qaeda fanatics flew planes into the World Trade Center, symbol of American corporate and commercial power, the Tea Partyists are on a suicide mission to take down the entire U.S. economy, either in the service of their hysterical Ayn Randian ideology, a belief that the world is only 6,000 years old and that the moon landing was staged, or simply because they figure that you will go down in the wreckage and that we’ll have a white president in heaven. (Harold Camping, if possible.)

These people must be stopped. And after wracking my brain, I’ve realized that the answer has been staring me in the face since November 2008. And it finally struck me this week: When you more or less endorsed the Gang of Six deficit reduction strategy, a GOP aide immediately proclaimed that you’d doomed the plan just by praising it. We’ve long known that if you discovered a cure for cancer, the GOP would attack you for endangering the medical, pharmaceutical and funereal industries. If Obama is for it, we’re against it.

So how best to undo the Tea Party? Embrace it. Sing the praises of Loopy Louie and Batshit Bachmann. Just as you may have given Mitt Romney the kiss of death by praising his health care program, wrap your arms around the Teasters and give them a big , sloppy smooch. Borrow one of those Lady Liberty hats from Mrs. Clarence Thomas and slip on an “I Heart Grover Norquist” T-shirt. Let Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald  and Adam Green and Ed Schultz go medieval on you. That will only help (especially if they’re in on the plot, then they can lay it on extra thick).

I you say “Up,” they say “Down.” If you say, “For the love of God, don’t let us default,” they’ll say “Default, shmefault—what, us worry?” So, if you want to drive them even more nuts than they already are, and consign their dangerously psychotic ideology to the dustbin of history, agree with them. Give them some love.

And question your own birth certificate while you’re at it.

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Even at this early juncture, when polls are meaningless, most reasonable people would agree that the 2012 election is President Obama’s to lose. True, the unemployment rate remains dismal, but even so, the President’s approval numbers are hovering around 50 percent; he has enormous personal magnetism; he took out bin Laden; he saved the auto industry and brought us back from a possible Second Great Depression; enough people still blame George W. Bush for our continuing economic woes; and, conventional wisdom has established that the GOP wannabe field, at least as it stands now, is historically weak.

Indeed, POTUS’ best assets are his opponents, and the rogues gallery of Republican governors and legislators who are trampling civil rights in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Florida.

I’m not satisfied. I don’t trust the electorate, which in an uninformed, reactionary pique either stayed home in November 2010 or went out and voted in the grim slate of far-right Republicans now wreaking havoc at the state level, and at the national level­—in the House, at least—making sure the economy stagnates sufficiently to deny Barack Obama a second term. Or spins off into catastrophe, if the debt limit isn’t raised.

As a more or less liberal Democrat—and as an American—I want 2012 to be a slam dunk. Moreso than usual—because this group of Republicans isn’t like the GOP my late father voted for in the 1950s and 1960s. Ike and Clifford Case, the GOP senator when I was growing up New Jersey, would be Big Government Pinkos to this crew. Any field of candidates in which the lunatic Michele Bachmann is a plausible contender—well, that’s as scary as a Martian invasion.

So, maybe Barack is a shoe-in, even if the jobless rate parks at 9 percent. But I want to nail it. I want to nuke the Republicans—metaphorically—with nothing left to chance. And the only way that can happen is for President Obama to run with Hillary Rodham Clinton as his vice-presidential candidate. She’s reportedly had her fill at as Secretary of State, a job Vice-President Biden (someone I’ve always liked for his Everyman appeal and basic humanity) has always coveted.

To be sure, Hillary might not want to be second banana, even if it places her next in line for the White House; rumors have her longing for the World Bank presidency. Critics would mock Obama for needing Hillary to bail him out—you can just hear the Faux Newsies braying about that. If there’s any residual drama about Bill and his love life, well Andrew Breitbart will be sure to enlighten us about that.

Doesn’t matter. Pennsylvania and Florida? Done. Ohio? Chalk that one up, too. Scott Walker, Rick Snyder and the auto bailout success story have probably nailed Wisconsin and Michigan for Obama, but Hillary would seal the deal. The non-right-wing-Palin-Bachmannite female vote? In the bag. Those famous “white working class voters?” Obama would do a lot better with them if he had Hillary on his ticket. “Swing States” would overwhelmingly go blue, and the President might even exceed his 365 electoral votes of 2008. The GOP would be reduced to the Deep South and irretrievably Red states like Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Utah.

I don’t expect this to happen. But I hope the nuclear option—Obama-Hillary—remains an option, so that this one doesn’t go down to the wire.

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Call me crazy (it’s been done, believe me) but I just don’t give a rodent’s rectum about Anthony Weiner’s schlong, the myriad photos of same, or countless other images depicting various aspects of the former Congressman’s not-half-bad-for-a-46-year-old-guy anatomy. That’s not to say that, OMFG, the fact that he sent them out to a bunch of strange women—in the sense of female strangers, that is, although some of them may, in fact, be strange—is unspeakably creepy, sophomoric, sleazy, and, most egregiously, stupid. The Congressional Gym, for God’s sake? Why not just stride boldly down Pennsylvania Avenue in the altogether, organ of increase bobbing along with every purposeful step, while Barack and Michelle shield Sasha and Malia’s eyes and tell them men are pigs, and though we’re not Muslim, but we’re really getting the whole burka thing now?

Oh, and your name, Anthony. Much as I despise the NY Post’s political slant,  you have to admit they’ve got the funniest headline writers in the business. And you served them up a slow, straight fastball right down the middle.

And yet, I don’t care that Weiner did what he did, even though he had to know he’d get caught, even though I agree that he has some pathological compulsion I’m glad is not one of my many personal flaws. I don’t even care that he lied about it. He had to think fast—do I publicly humiliate myself now, or act like Sarah Palin, pull a “Blood Libel” and attack while playing the victim? Anthony rolled the dice and lost. I think what really did him in was his unpopularity among his own caucus—which means he must be downright loathed by the Republicans.

Speaking of Republicans: Believe it or not, I also don’t give an ant’s anus (Do they even have them? Paging E.O. Wilson) that Chris Lee posted his sublimely dorky shirtless shot on Craigslist. And the only reason I give a Yak’s left ( of course) testicle that David Vitter liked his DC hookers to watch him soil himself in Pampers (not produced by the Koch Brothers’ Georgia Pacific, BTW) is my utter revulsion at GOP family values hypocrisy—plus an eye-for-an-eye impulse: How can one pervert stay in Congress while another, arguably less gross, get’s nagged into quitting?

But essentially, I don’t care. I loathe everything David Vitter pretends to stand for. But the diaper thing, well, it’s amusing, but I don’t think it threatens the Republic. If your particular sexual fetish impedes your public service, well, yes, that’s worrying. But it’s the public service I care about, not how you get your jollies in off hours, provided nobody gets hurt and you’re not a pedophile.

What does threaten the Republic, however, is the politics of personal destruction. Weiner was playing with fire. But would we even know about this, would the media have spent three weeks of psychic energy on this, had not Andrew Breitbart released the photos and executed a more successful political mob hit than he did when he recklessly slimed Shirley Sherrod? On the evolutionary scale, Breitbart is one of those “creeping things” they speak of in the Bible. The lowest of the low, a smear merchant, a lying sack of whatever one finds in Vitter’s diaper who happened to have hit the jackpot with Anthony Weiner, however much penis envy he might have suffered while doing so.

You can think of Weiner’s downfall—a temporary one, for I think we’ve far from heard the last of him—as an assisted career suicide. He loaded the metaphorical gun (phallic, I know) and aimed it. But Breitbart pulled the trigger.  To be sure, the righties must have—well, soiled themselves—at the prospect of taking down the firebrand from New York’s Ninth District. Maybe his legislative legacy is sparse, but as a public advocate Weiner inspired liberals—a progressive with, for lack of a better word, balls. He put himself out there, he fought back, gave at least as good as he got—all the more sweet for his enemies to use his own folly to take him down.

That’s what troubles me. We have emboldened the Breitbarts and the James O’Keefes, and the Limbaughs and the Neil Boortzes and all those other hate-spewing slimeballs. Why stop at Weiner? Why not go after someone else—even if it’s entirely trumped up, it puts the victim on the defensive for a few news cycles and by the time the record gets corrected, the public has moved on; and henceforth when someone plays a name/word association with said victim, the first thing that comes to mind will not be the person’s accomplishments, but whatever scurrilous charge stoked the contrived “scandal.”

I would love to see income inequality or the corporate takeover of our political and judicial system fuel half as much outrage as Anthony Weiner’s penis. But weird sex trumps actual politics any day.  In any event, former Rep. Weiner is a tough New York guy. He’ll get through this.  God knows, he was insanely reckless and really, really tempted fate. And the “charges” proved to be true. But the next hit job may be aimed at an innocent.

Something’s been lost here, and it’s something way beyond Anthony Weiner’s Congressional seat.

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Yeah, it was majorly creepy what you did, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. But on the scale of things, the moral scale, the scale of lying, cheating and screwing American citizens out of reproductive rights, voting rights, unemployment, health insurance, workers’ rights—I could go on— it’s but a mere blip on the screen.

So my advice to you, Rep. Anthony Weiner: F— ‘em. Not literally, of course, heaven help us. But figuratively. As in, don’t resign. Not yet, anyway.

Now I want to make this clear Anthony: As The Daily News—no right-wing rag like Murdoch’s Post—put it, You’re a schmuck. I mean, WTF were you thinking? You’re the smartest, brashest kid in class. You’re “media savvy” as the media endlessly remind us. You’re also an exhibitionist—but we already knew that, didn’t we? The saying goes that the most dangerous place for a human being to be is between Chuck Schumer and a camera; I’d add in your name, among others, to the mix.

So you, of all people, should know better. But being a schmuck, last time I looked, is no disqualifier when it comes to Congress. Just in your own branch, I’d start with Boehner and Cantor and work my way down. You lied—but seriously, how many of us wouldn’t, at least at first, when caught with our pants down like that? Who knows how we’d react? I don’t make the automatic leap that just because you fibbed about an anguishingly embarrassing sexually-oriented quirk, we can’t trust you to fight for the liberal causes we so cherish.

Now again, this isn’t to let you off the hook.  You f—ed up big time and you did it did it to yourself, for sure. You really, really embarrassed us. Granted, without the sublimely slimy Andrew Breitbart—no less a scumbag because he happened not to be lying his ass off this time—we’d probably never know about it. It was a hit job, timed on the heels of the Democrats’ big NY-26 win, made possible by GOP Rep. Chris Lee and his dorkily shirtless Craigslist snapshot.

A word about Lee, just to prove that I don’t play partisan favorites here: Unless the guy had some other, sleazier skeleton in his closet, I don’t think he should have resigned. So there. Sure, whenever a so-called family values conservative pulls something like this, there’s the stench of hypocrisy. But I don’t give a damn about Lee’s hormonal urges any more than I did Bill Clinton’s.

But Lee was an exception, wasn’t he? By and large, Republicans don’t resign over sex scandals. Other than Mark Foley, whose transgression was far creepier than yours, they usually haul their long-suffering wives before the cameras, hold hands, and invoke Jesus. Then they go back to the business of screwing the middle class, protecting the rich so they can create jobs in Malaysia, and setting civil rights back 75 years, give or take. John Ensign only resigned because he was about to get booted from the Senate over ethics violations. Mark Sanford held on, even though he put the state of South Carolina at risk—not because he had a mistress, but because he went AWOL.

And then we have my fave, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who patronized the DC Madam and asked his hookers to diaper him so he could defecate in their presence. For that, the good people of Louisiana—whose legislators, at the moment, are engaged in the important work of trying to criminalize abortion, even in cases of rape and incest—re-elected him by a 57-38 margin.

All of which is to say, once again, “F— ‘em” Anth. Yes, you’re weakened—last night, Ed Schultz made the point that you’re hurting the party and the liberal cause. I see where he’s coming from; and it sure looks like your Democratic compatriots aren’t lining up behind you in support. But as a New Yorker, I, for one, do support you—and again, I’m not just giving you a partisan pass; my only objections to Chris Lee were over his policies and hypocrisy. Same goes for Vitter—as long as his sexual proclivities aren’t violent against women, or predatory against minors, I don’t really give a defecation what he does in his off hours. Just don’t preach to us about family values.

That’s something you never did, Anthony. As long as David Vitter holds public office you—whose sex scandal, as far as we know, is only virtual—should stay put. No, I guess you can’t be Mayor of New York—though I’d have taken you and all your lewd photos over Giuliani. But—and I may change my mind, pending further revelations—I don’t want to think that  Andrew Breitbart and a little cyber-schmuckitude on your part, can silence one of the great progressive champions.

And, speaking of the execrable Breitbart: You know that “x-rated” photo he’s holding as his ace in the, er, hole? Sounds like blackmail to me.

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Well, the “lamestream media” are at it again. While channel-surfing today, I caught the “CNN Political Ticker” and wouldn’t you know it, the first item on the list was Sarah Palin‘s Narcissipalooza Bus Tour of the Northeast, where she will likely encounter hostile crowds but, more to the point, hordes of, well, lamestream media. You know, the ones Palin trashes—and whose attention she so ravenously seeks.

I have never seen this mystical charisma Palin is supposed to have. Aside from the fact that she’s a know-nothing hate-monger, she delivers her inane babble in a strident screech that assaults the senses. Of course, the real reason the lamestreamers cover her so reflexively and religiously is that Palin is a perpetual trainwreck, with every earth-shatteringly stupid run-on sentence, every manufactured slight and drama. She’s a “mean girl,” an amoral, petulant, vindictive, self-absorbed adolescent—and these days that’s media gold.

In any event, after the Palin item, CNN’s ticker went on to tell us something or other about Mitt Romney going to New Hampshire. Or maybe it was Iowa–he’s a pathological flip-flopper, after all. Someone who was still listening might set me straight. The point is, that Palin, who has not declared her candidacy for anything, got top billing, while the Mittster got sloppy seconds.

Now, Lawrence O’Donnell and other sharp political minds have pointed out that the odds that Sarah Palin actually will run for President are next to nil. Beyond her base—the extremist Ignoramiat—her approval numbers (especially post-“blood libel”) are in the outhouse. What’s more, holding high public office would mean she’d actually have to learn something and, worse still, do some work. Gone would be the professional celebrity, the reality show, the obscene speaking fees.

But, as Lawrence also reminded us, as long as Palin pretends to maybe possibly kinda sorta run for POTUS—or something—she’ll continue to command the notice she so desperately craves, as well as the big bucks. It had to be killing SarahPac to see Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the actual GOP Presidential hopefuls—Newt, Mitt, T-Paw and Palin’s stunt-double, Michele Bachmann— hoover up all that press coverage in recent weeks. Not to mention President Obama, that anti-American pal of terrorists who—what was it again? Oh, right, he killed Osama bin Laden. It got so bad that Newsweek actually ran a story titled “Is Sarah Palin Over?”

Well, electorally, she was done long ago. But as a celebrity, not so much. And now, Sarah Palin is back, with not only the bus tour, but a self-produced “documentary” on—what else?—Sarah Palin. And right now, that’s driving the rest of the GOP hopefuls—and strategic geniuses like Karl Rove—as batshit as Bachmann.

I used to beg my journalistic colleagues to ignore Palin; and, yes, I was enjoying her absence. But even as my soul cringes at her return, the Democrat in me welcomes it with open arms, knowing that Mitt, T-Paw and whoever else are pulling out tufts of hair and grinding their teeth to nubs, as SarahPac’s greedy fame-whoring overshadows their efforts to capture press and public interest. The more Palin makes herself the face of the GOP, the better.

Along with Paul Ryan and that rogue’s gallery of Republican swing-state governors—Rick Scott, Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder—Sarah Palin is one of Barack Obama’s greatest assets.

So, Sarah, reload, hit the road and babble on….

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Okay: Ed Schultz has apologized for calling conservative radio mouth Laura Ingraham a “slut.” (He quickly caught himself and amended it to “talk slut,” but it was too little, too late.)

The apology—which, to her credit, Ms. Ingraham accepted—was entirely appropriate. Big Eddie is better than that. And he knows better than that; the term is crude, sexist and derogatory. For someone whose “Psycho Talk” segment (now happily restored) calls out right wing calumny it was a classic moment of pot-meet-kettle hypocrisy.

Okay, Rush. And Glennie. And Hannity. And Bill O. And Sarah. And Newtie. And Michele. And…. : Now it’s your turn. For years—never more than since January 2009—you and lesser right-wing demagogues have poisoned the atmosphere with falsehoods, hate speech and racism—veiled and otherwise. You have painted the President of the United States as an alien, radical, enemy of the state; you have demonized American workers. You have manufactured faux outrages, and lied over and over again—be it about health care reform, unions, the benefits of tax cuts and Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian “reform” of Medicare.

Have you used the word “slut” or any of its synonyms? I have no idea. But you have much to apologize for.

You won’t do it, though. Being a right-wing hate-and-fear-monger—or even a Republican— means never having to say you’re sorry.

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