Archive for April, 2010
Gillian Duffy, a retired woman in England could check off many of the membership criteria of the American Tea Party Movement.
- She is upset about high taxes.
- She is upset about the mounting national debt.
- She has a disdain for “the other”, i.e. foreigners.
The exchange between Mrs. Duffy and British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who was campaigning, showed the woman to be slightly cranky but not sufficiently so to deserve the insult she subsequently got from Mr. Brown. Apparently, her concern about the influx of Eastern Europeans into England did not sit well with the Prime Minister, who got into his limo and called her a bigot, unaware he was still on microphone. Brown later apologized both publicly and at Duffy’s home. (We won’t address the similarity between this and our own recent struggles with the immigration issue.)
On the one hand, it was a real hoot to see a world leader throw politics out the window and call it the way he saw it. On the other hand, his immediate apology proved that what the man says in public does not synch with what he says in private. So, he threw his credibility out the window also.
As for Mrs. Duffy, I am sure she is now a hero to the Tea Party movement here in the US. Move over Susan Boyle, America has found its new idol! I’m just waiting for Sarah Palin to anoint Mrs. Duffy on her Facebook page.
The past week produced some doozies from the GOP asylum.
An Idea No One Could Possibly Bawk, Bawk, Bawk At
First we get Nevada Senatorial hopeful Sue Lowden who suggests that bartering for your medical services is a good alternative to the current health care legislation. Heck, according to her it used to work fine. You went to your doctor and if you couldn’t afford to pay him, you offered him a chicken. When this brain-dead fool was offered the chance to explain her way out of such insanity, she stuck to her guns. In a world where Sarah Palin is viewed by some as a domestic and foreign policy expert, we can expect just about anything. So I strongly recommend, before Sue gets elected and the chicken plan becomes law that you visit the Medical Chicken Calculator just so you know how much chicken to buy before you get sick. An appendectomy for example will cost you 1,019 chickens.
I actually have an idea that Harry Reid can counter with. If I’m not mistaken, Reid grew up in a house of prostitution. Now can any of you think of an interesting barter system that ties into the world’s oldest profession? I sure can!
May I See Your Papers?
Lunacy must be contagious since Nevada’s southeast neighbor, Arizona had a touch of whacked out legislation this past week. Everyone knew that the Arizona legislature had passed a bill allowing police to demand evidence of legal immigrant status from folks they pulled over. Few thought Governor Jan Brewer would be crazy enough to sign it but sign it she did. The new law is ripe for abuse as few blond light-skinned folks are going to be asked to prove they are here legally. From my travels on other blogs, I’ve seen the case made that we already have laws requiring immigrants to carry with them at all times proof of their legal right to be here (I guess, green card, etc.). It has also been stated that cops can already arrest you if you refuse to provide identification when asked. These points are made in defense of the law. Here is where I am lost.
If it is already the law that legal immigrants should carry a form of proof of “legality” and it is already the law that everyone must produce id when asked by a policeman, then why on Earth do we need the Arizona legislation? Other than create a public relations nightmare for Arizona, what value does this new law add? By signing this easily misunderstood redundant legislation into law, Jan Brewer has bought her state a world of hurt. Since the law suits have already started and the Justice Department is already on alert, Jan better hurry up and jump to the chase. Get those un-American folks lined up and tattoo numbers on their arms while you’ve got the legislative momentum going for you!
Obama Did Not Read My Last Post
Well okay, I didn’t really expect the POTUS to be reading the Rutherford Lawson Blog but I sure wish he did. This time he tripped so badly that Rush Limbaugh actually had a good point. Yes, you will hear this from me only once so listen carefully … Rush Limbaugh was right (sort of).
Obama still does not understand that remarks addressed at a niche audience get heard by everyone. In a video aimed at DNC donors and OFA members, Obama urged that we get out the vote for “young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women”. Watch for yourself at the 1:58 mark.
My immediate reaction was “oh no he didn’t!” Whether intentionally or not, Obama implied that the older white male vote was either unimportant to him or a lost cause. The simple truth is without a decent portion of elder white males, Obama would not be President today (this is true of EVERY President). So after I caught my breath, I hoped against all hope that no one else would notice this. Alas, the blowhard loved by Conservatives everywhere, Rush Limbaugh, heard Obama loud and clear and worked it for all it was worth.
I think Rush Limbaugh is one of the worst things to happen to broadcast media. However, in this case, Rush raises a reasonable question. (Sorry Ed Schultz.) I’ve got a news flash for our President. Barack, white people matter. They have valid concerns just like minorities do. If you continue to make them feel ignored or marginalized, you will not only ruin any chance for a positive Democratic outcome in 2010, you will end up a one term President.
Dear President Obama,
One incident is just that, an isolated incident. Two incidents is perhaps a coincidence. Three makes a pattern. I’m writing this before you have the third incident. I want to help stop you before you establish a pattern you don’t want to establish.
Last week at a DNC fundraiser in Miami, you made some remarks that at first blush tickled me a bit until I gave it more thought.
I’ve been a little amused over the past couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes, taxes you would think they would be saying “thank you”. That’s what you’d think.
There are two problems with this statement, Mr. President. The first is that people protesting should not “amuse” you. It’s a choice of words that sounds terribly condescending. But there is a bigger problem. The “they” in “you would think they would be saying thank you” isn’t Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. The “they” are ordinary citizens who are struggling (many of them) to make ends meet. Did they get a federal income tax decrease? Damn straight they did. Do they look foolish protesting taxes generically when they should be protesting specific tax issues (perhaps at a state or local level)? Absolutely. But “they” are still your people. They are the citizens of this country, not elected officials, not megaphones like Palin or Limbaugh. They’re ordinary folks. When you speak of them in a demeaning way, you send the message that you are more the President of some than of others. A very bad message to send, indeed. You could have said, in a most humble manner, “I really don’t understand why they are protesting.” Instead, you gave the common man a kick in the ass, intentionally or not. Those who have defended you on this say you were talking to a particular audience. You know in the age of YouTube and 24/7 news, that is total nonsense. You are always talking to everyone, never just to the audience assembled at a particular rally.
Had this been isolated, I could let it pass. But then this past week while campaigning in California for Barbara Boxer, you got into a tiff with some LGBT protesters who heckled your speech. At about the 2:15 mark in the following video, the heckling began and your reaction was reasonable enough, telling your hecklers that you and Boxer support the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Then at the 5:24 mark things go off the rails once again. In response to a second round of heckling, you say to the protester “I’m sorry, do you want to come up here?”
Oh no you didn’t!
Did you challenge a protester to come up on the stage? What were you going to do, sock him in the jaw? Mr. Obama, you are the President of the United States of America. You are not some local pol on the south side of Chicago talking tough with the crowd. You know full well if the dude took you up on your offer, Secret Service would have pummeled him. You did not come across as wanting a dialogue with the man. You came up a bully, basically saying “I am the President, I DARE you to come up here and challenge me.” It was unbecoming to say the least.
Mr. President, I voted for you. I support your programs and I like you as a person. I have caught a lot of heat on this very blog for my support of you. I must tell you, friends don’t let friends drive drunk so I have to deliver some frank advice to you. I am no psychologist but I fear that your victory on health care reform has over-emboldened you. It has played games with your prick-o-meter. You see, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have permanent damage to their prick-o-meter. They are beyond the point of being able to recalibrate it. (And yes, women can be pricks too.) You, on the other hand, can take a step back and get a tune-up.
There is an important distinction that you may have lost sight of and it may lose you a second term if you do not take note. For the politician or political pundit, you have free rein. Go for it. Be as sarcastic as you want to be. They dish it out and you are completely within your rights to dish it right back. When it comes to private citizens, even those who gather in public forums, you must bend over backward to show respect. Yes, even when they act like total asses, you must show respect. Because, as President, they are YOUR asses. You are their President. You can be respectful without being patronizing. You can be respectful and still disagree with them. But you must show respect. Your enemies are looking for you to condescend and disparage. You must not give them that advantage.
Mr. President, for many years I worked for a large corporation and I can pin point the exact day when that company transformed from being special to just being another company that didn’t really care about its employees. On that day, the CEO was caught off the record blaming the sales force for the company’s ills. It was unprecedented. Executives at this company always took the heat when things went wrong and worked with the employees to change things. Never had a CEO betrayed his workers and blamed them for the company’s problems. When you play rough with the average citizen, you remind me of that CEO. It was his undoing. I don’t want it to be yours. You’ve gone down that road twice. Let’s not make it a pattern.
The Big Scam
Last week, Politico made a big splash when they unearthed a memo that shed light on The Tea Party Express. While it offered no proof that the Tea Party movement itself was manufactured, it did offer definitive proof that the “Express” was the brainchild of a GOP operative who understandably expected the full cooperation of Fox News (the media arm of the Republican Party) in promoting the Express.
So I sat back and thought about this revelation and about my original suspicions that the Tea Party was hardly a true grassroots movement. Then I had an epiphany. Why should this surprise me? Americans are, by and large, intellectually and physically lazy. Unless someone works them up into a lather, most Americans don’t have time to give a damn. They’re just trying to make it day-to-day. Guess what? Not a conservative phenomenon.
Without David Plouffe, there would be no Barack Obama. Liberals didn’t get some grassroots word of mouth enthusiasm over Barack Obama. They were organized. This ability of the Obama campaign (Obama for America (OFA)) to get people out to the caucuses is well documented in the Heileman/Halperin book “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime“. It took Hillary Clinton completely by surprise. By the time OFA was finished, Obama was an inspiration to millions of voters. It swept him into the White House. It was portrayed as grassroots but it was no more grassroots than the Tea Parties. Further proof can be found in how liberal support fizzled when OFA transformed into Organizing for America without Plouffe and as a subsidiary of the DNC. This was spelled out beautifully in Tim Dickinson’s article, “No, We Can’t” in Rolling Stone.
So the big scam is not that the Tea Party Express was manufactured by the GOP. The big scam is that we believe in grassroots efforts in this country where most folks read The National Enquirer and watch Jerry Springer. It’s okay to join a group and demand change. Don’t get me wrong. But let’s get real and admit we’re all being led by the nose by more powerful, better connected players.
The Real Boss
We all get caught up in the daily score keeping of politics. Is Obama the boss? Is Sarah Palin the big influence? Is Jesus Christ or Allah really running everything? Then once in a great while we are reminded who will have the last laugh. It will be, for lack of a better moniker, Mother Earth. The Earth is the ultimate bad “mother-shut-yo-mouth”. Just look over at Iceland. A glacier on fire. Who the hell ever imagined that? But Earth can serve up seemingly contradictory phenomena like this unmercifully. Who needs the mushroom cloud? Have you seen some of the pictures coming out of Iceland with the ginormous plume of ash rising out of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano? Air traffic hasn’t been this disrupted since 9/11. The terrorist this time is Mother Earth.
This is just one of the many pictures coming out of Iceland. Many more can be found here. As little men threaten to annihilate each other with atomic, chemical and biological weapons, we lose sight of the fact that we are but an ant on the ass of the huge Earth. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and volcanoes prove time and time again that we are not in charge. We are not in control. She can cast us off with no warning and no remorse. And the only one badder than Mother Earth is the Universe in which she resides. A large meteor collision can wipe her clean of all signs of life. Eventually, when the Sun burns out as all stars do, Mother Earth will be no more.
So, as we continue to debate politics and religion and morality let’s not forget that a force much bigger than any political party or country will have the last laugh.
Inspired by a comment I made in one of my comment threads, fellow blogger Alfie prognosticated about whether or not Barack Obama will be challenged in 2012 by a Democrat. I thought I would return the favor by conjecturing on the GOP side of the 2012 Presidential race.
What follows in no particular order are some of the names already being bandied about for Republican nominees. I’ll grade them on likelihood of winning nomination if they decided to run and likelihood of beating Obama on a five point scale. 5 = Extremely likely, 1 = there’s a better chance of finding Nicole Simpson’s “real” killer.
We might as well get the elephant in the room over with. Palin is comparatively young, extremely savvy about controlling the media which she claims to disdain, and very charismatic as evidenced by the huge crowds she attracts on a regular basis. It is very hard to tell how brave her fellow Republicans will be in challenging her in the primaries should she choose to run. If they attack her too sharply they will alienate a major contingent of the dissatisfied electorate. She has proven that she will not buckle down and become knowledgeable on the issues. Still, I’m not sure this would seal her doom during primary season. In the general election, Obama (or any other Democrat for that matter) will clean her clock.
Watching paint dry is a more exciting experience than watching Pawlenty. With more interesting characters from which to choose, Pawlenty does not stand a chance.
Bobby’s Republican response to one of Obama’s early Congressional addresses in 2009 was so awkward and embarrassing that it is hard to believe he could be a compelling challenger. He has been accurately compared to Kenneth the page in the sitcom “30 Rock”. This is another non-starter.
While the former Vice President has sworn he will not seek higher office, his nomination would present a choice of polar opposites for the American people. A Venn diagram depicting Cheney’s views vs Obama’s views would be two circles side by side with zero overlap. Cheney would get 100% of registered Republicans, Obama 100% of registered Democrats and then the fascinating exercise would be to see where the independents line up. For sheer drama, I’d pick Cheney as the next GOP candidate. One interesting question would be how much would his health play a role in his electability?
Since it is highly unlikely that we will have a booming economy in late 2011 and early 2012, Mitt Romney is the GOP’s economy pinch hitter. Romney, a successful businessman who saved the 2002 Winter Olympics games from financial ruin can claim some dollars and cents credibility. He also does very well in every GOP straw poll that has been conducted recently (CPAC and SRLC to name two). He has two major problems from my perspective. If health care reform is as polarizing in 2012 as it is now, Romney has some explaining to do since he championed a similar health care plan in Massachusetts while he was Governor. The “I was for it before I was against it” approach has not fared well in American politics. It also falls into Romney’s reputation as flip-flopper, firmly established during the 2008 primaries. In the general election, I think his Mormonism will definitely hurt him. My guess is that atheists find Mormonism the most detestable of faiths based on their history of racism. I suspect a good many Christians also don’t consider Mormonism a legit religion.
Ron Paul does not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting nominated much less elected. There is a simple reason why. He is truly the only one on the GOP side bucking the status quo. While America talks a good line about wanting change, the truth is the average American is change-averse. The further we get into Barack Obama’s presidency the more convinced I am of this. The change that Americans wanted to believe in when they elected Obama was really just a desire to return to normalcy (Warren Harding anyone?), i.e. getting back to work. That’s not real change. That’s just restoration of the status quo. Among Ron Paul’s more radical ideas is to bring virtually all our military forces home. He claims we currently are acting like an empire with troops installed all over the world. I have to tell you I like Paul if for no other reason than that he says stuff that is unpopular with the establishment. He also has a strong base among conservative youth. Still I don’t think he can galvanize enough support to be successful.
It seems Newt wants to resurrect 1994′s Contract with America. While Newt is capable of the dumbass statement, such as when he told Jon Stewart that shoe bomber Richard Reid was an American citizen (he was not), overall Newt presents an intelligent alternative to an otherwise dullard bunch. One suspects that if Newt ran he would come to the table with concrete ideas. On the other hand, Newt has a bit of Hillary Clinton disease. When Hillary ran for the Democratic nomination she reminded everyone of the 90′s and there was a sense of been there done that. I think Newt has the same problem. He’s not fresh. Since Republicans have no problem with hypocrisy, the fact that he cheated on his wife while trying to get Bill Clinton impeached for fellatio will not hurt him in the primaries. However in the general election, I’m not sure various independent liberal groups will be so kind.
A good many people say that Jeb was the Bush son who should have been President. I can only base my opinion of him on the few times I’ve seen him speak and the fact that he was a very popular Florida Governor. He also speaks fluent Spanish, America’s second language. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen of Jeb so far. He is soft-spoken which gives him an air of intelligence. He lacks the dumbass swagger of his older brother George W. However he has one major obstacle — his brother George W. If the sour taste of Bush has faded from the American tongue or been replaced by the sour taste of Obama, then I truly think Jeb has a shot at it. He would have to walk the delicate line of “I’m not my brother” while not outright dissing his kin. If he can get past that obstacle, I think he has a chance. (Let’s not forget America’s infatuation with making history. If elected, Jeb would make George 41 the only President to have two sons become President.)
I haven’t heard anyone talk about Tom Coburn, Republican Senator from Oklahoma as a Presidential hopeful but I’m tossing his hat in the ring anyway. When Obama held his health care summit this winter, only two Republicans came to the table with intelligent sounding talking points. One was Paul Ryan, a numbers wonk. The other was Tom Coburn who at least appeared to be there to suggest alternatives and carve out a solution. Recently Coburn made waves at a town hall meeting when he accused Fox News of sensationalizing the health care debate and defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In an age of brain-dead partisan politics, Coburn impresses me as a “fair and balanced” solution man. His having been an anti-abortion obstetrician and Baptist deacon should only improve his cred among Republicans. Despite my general liking for the man, I’m not sure he has the charisma to survive a Republican primary or general election.
Now, I must reiterate that I would not vote for any of the above. Now it’s your turn. Which of these candidates would get your vote in either the primary or the general?
Some headlines really make you wonder whether or not you are dreaming. The latest bits of absurdity to cross my path in recent days, in no particular order:
Today Barack Obama signed another START treaty with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev. Guess what? MSNBC reports tonight that Republicans in general are opposed to the treaty. In the past, these types of arms reduction treaties passed in the Senate by margins of 98% or more. This time it might be tough to get enough Republicans to sign on to make the two thirds majority needed for ratification. It’s another example of the just-say-no strategy of the GOP but it is also complicated by a recently revealed change in our own nuclear strategy.
With the exceptions of Iran and North Korea, for example, we have pledged not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear state. This departs from our traditional approach of “all options on the table” with anyone. What it translates to by my way of thinking is that we are acknowledging the grave responsibility involved in the use of nuclear arms and we are pledging to use them only in the most dire of conflicts. We can always depend on some imbecile from the right to get the message wrong and give it a wild spin. So one half of the Bachmann Palin Overdrive suggested today that this new approach is equivalent to the kid in the school yard saying “punch me in the face, I’m not going to retaliate”. Someone desperately needs to tell the half-wit half-term Governor of Alaska that the new approach is the same as the kid in the school yard saying “punch me in the face, I’m not going to blow you away with an AK-47.” It’s called reasonable and proportionate response.
We can only hope that the Senate Republicans depart from their singular obstructionist agenda long enough to ratify this important step in controlling the use of nuclear weapons.
Dumb and Dumber in 2012
Yes gang, in Minnesota this week Fox News’ Sean Hannity broached that nightmare scenario most of us dare not contemplate. He asked an audience of unstable Minnesotans how they would feel about a Sarah Palin – Michele Bachmann ticket in 2012. Predictably, the crowd roared. Now it is well-known that Sarah is crazy like a fox (no pun intended) and the millions she’s raking in on one deal or another attest to that. Bachmann on the other hand is just plain crazy. Whether it’s investigating which members of Congress are real Americans or worrying about census takers tallying up the folks who will be put in internment camps, Michele is, as Ron Reagan put it, a few McNuggets short of a Happy Meal. One also has to wonder from Bachmann’s comments if she has as much of a crush on Palin as Rich Lowry does.
The real nightmare is … what if I’m totally wrong? What if the majority of Americans find this pair of bobble-heads sufficiently appealing to vote for them? I can’t bear to think of it further. Let’s move on.
Was the Pipe Really Worth It?
I guess no one made it clear to Qatari diplomat Mohammed al-Madadi that smoking is not allowed on domestic American flights. I would further suggest that no one made it clear to the diplomat not to behave like an arrogant prick when confronted with his non-compliance. Trying to out do Gilbert Gottfried in the obnoxious humor department, Madadi told a flight attendant that the smoke she smelled coming from the bathroom was his attempt to light his shoes on fire. Poor Mo didn’t understand that in the aftermath of Richard Reid and Umar Abdulmutallab, we don’t find jokes about setting shoes on fire particularly funny. Qatar is bringing its comedian, ehhh, diplomat back home.
Some in the Arab community are saying Madadi was profiled. I’m sorry gang but when you make a joke about setting your shoes on fire while on a plane several thousand feet above the Earth, you’re lucky not to get the stuffing beaten out of you. I don’t care where you come from.
Billy Bob, the Civil War is Over and You Lost
My understanding is that if you ask the average German about the Holocaust, he’d prefer not to discuss it and if pressed, would express shame. In fact modern-day Germany views that atrocity as a terrible stain on its history. So, could someone please tell me why the South still celebrates the Confederacy?
Virgina Governor Bob McDonnell stepped in it big time when he issued a proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month and neglected to mention that minor element that brought the Confederacy into existence: slavery. Now this response did not really shock me terribly. When I visited Atlanta about 15 years ago on business, one of the first things I found on the hotel TV’s tourist channel was an advertisement for tours of plantations. No where in the advertisement did it say “join us in an examination of a shameful period in American history where Africans were kept against their will and forced to work for no wages.” On the contrary, it looked almost like visiting Frontier Land at Disney World. So I saw first hand that at least some Southerners feel no shame about their checkered past. In fact, they are still angry that they “lost” the war. A few weeks ago, Georgia Representative Paul Broun referred to the Civil War as the “Great war of Yankee aggression”.
Yup, in 2010 there are still Americans who talk about “Yankee aggression”. I’m not sure Broun ever backed off his rhetoric (he is a birther after all) but McDonnell had the good sense after a day or so to re-write the proclamation declaring slavery as a cause of the Civil War and an “evil, vicious and inhumane practice”. Ya think?
I have heard it time and time again. “Never in our history has the government forced an individual to buy something.” (Actually false from a couple of different angles.)
“This health care mandate is unconstitutional.” Several states have filed suit against the Fed on these grounds.
Well thanks to MSNBC and Huffington Post contributor, Lawrence O’Donnell, I’ve learned the dirty little secret that neither Republicans nor Democrats want you to know.
There is no individual mandate. Yes you read that right. No mandate. Nothing, nada, zilch. Let one of my favorite commentators, “Crazy Larry” explain it to you. Pay close attention at the 2 minute and 30 second mark after Larry has shot down one of Jim DeMint’s lies.
But don’t take his word for it. Here is the legal language from page 336 of the bill.
(2) SPECIAL RULES.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law—
(A) WAIVER OF CRIMINAL PENALTIES.—In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.
Patient Protection Affordable Care Act As Passed.
So now the law suits that were already frivolous have become totally absurd. Yes, there is a penalty for not purchasing insurance but there is no penalty for not paying the penalty. The penalty is not enforced in any way. On the contrary, the law prohibits enforcement of the penalty.
Why won’t anyone from the President to the Democrats to the Republicans ever tell you this? Simple. The President and his party want you to buy insurance. If you don’t, premiums inevitably rise. So they need you to believe there is an enforceable penalty for not doing so.
As for the Grand Old Stale Party, they can’t tell you the truth because then their fundamental debating point goes out the window. How can something that doesn’t exist be unconstitutional?
At this point I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m glad to see the Party of No exposed for the fools and liars they are. On the other hand if too many folks learn the truth, the expansion of health care coverage could be seriously compromised.
Once again the first bite of the sausage tastes real good but don’t look in that kitchen!