Life in the House of Mirrors

Do you look around and think life is starting to look like the distorted images reflected in the amusement park House of Mirrors? If so, you’re not alone. Virtually none of these observations are original — hell, lots of people and pundits are talking about them — but I wanted to get them documented for the record.

Ted Cruz in Need of Remedial Reading

During his 21 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. I think I read somewhere that he was really reading it to his kids who he thought were watching him on C-SPAN, as a bed time story. The great irony is that in the middle of a filibuster about rejecting Obamacare before it has even taken effect, he read a story about a creature who refuses to try green eggs and ham but in the end DOES TRY THEM AND LIKES THEM. Could the moral really be that Obama is “Sam I am” and Obamacare is Green Eggs and Ham?

Russia and America Allies (Sort of)

Regardless of how much you might distrust Vladimir Putin’s motives, the bottom line is that both Russia and the United States are getting what they want by Putin poking his nose into the Syria chemical weapons thing. Now, if Putin would just deport Edward Snowden, things might really be cozy.

Detente with Iran

Regardless of how much you might distrust Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, the optimist in me says it is good that he is at least talking a good game. After years of Ahmadinejad talking like a madman, Rouhani is a bit of fresh air. Quite frankly, Netenyahu’s immediate rejection of him, calling him  a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only further enforces my suspicion that Bebe is not the least bit interested in peace. Wouldn’t it take the wind right out of Benjamin’s sails if Iran finally decided that a vibrant economy was more important to it than nukes? One can only hope.

Is the Pope Catholic?

In recent weeks Pope Francis has said that the church over-obsesses about abortion and homosexuality. He has suggested that God loves homosexuals much as He loves others. He has even gone so far as to suggest that atheists who “follow their conscience” will be in God’s good graces. All this is not quite enough to make me convert but it sure makes it harder for me to be critical. This Pope serves the purpose that I believe religion should serve in every day life — as consolation to the downtrodden and spiritual nourishment to those faltering. 34 years ago my college roommate asked me “do you love?” I replied “yes”. He shot back at me “then you believe in God.” What a beautiful notion of faith — that it is overwhelmed by love of self and others. This Pope seems to be on that trip, and my hat is off to him.

Why Don’t We Care About Each Other Anymore?

A few weeks ago a woman called me on my job very upset that her dog was locked in her car. Assuming that some public agency could get help to her faster than I could, I put her on hold and called the police, the fire department and even animal control. NO ONE WOULD HELP. That’s right, not a single public agency representative gave a flying fig that this woman’s dog might die in her car from the heat. The good news is that while I searched in vain for help, she was able to get help on her own. As an aside, she assumed the worst about me and reported me as negligent despite the fact I had done everything I could to help her. The public agencies thought she was worthless and she in turn thought I was worthless.

A couple of weeks ago, a man walked into the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and shot the place up. The top two questions that the media focused on were “how did someone with his psychological profile get security clearance to work at the Navy Yard?” and “how did someone with his profile get a gun?” While both were reasonable questions, the most important question was asked almost as an afterthought. This man told authorities he heard voices in his head. He did not receive help. Were folks just too busy? This man essentially asked for help because he knew that he was a danger to himself or others. Why didn’t anyone care enough about him to get him the help he needed? That was the fundamental question that should have been asked. Why didn’t someone intervene in this man’s life to help him?

On the flip side was the story of Antoinette Tuff, a school book-keeper who calmed down a mentally ill man who had entered her school with an AK-47. In her short encounter with the man, caught on a 911 tape, she probably showed him more respect than he had received from anyone in a long time. When he agreed to give himself up she said, “I want you to know I love you and I’m proud of you, It’s a good thing you’re just giving up. Don’t worry about it.  We all go through something in life.”

This true hero met danger head on with compassion. In that moment, she convinced that man that someone cared about him. That made a difference and I believe it makes a difference in everyone’s life. I have had the good fortune of always having someone in my corner, whether it was my parents, or a teacher, or my wife and precious daughter. I’ve always known that at least someone cared about me.

There is so much anger in this country right now. Why don’t we take a page from Miss Tuff? She is right. We all go through something in life. Why don’t we help each other get through it?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Compromise or Capitulation: Where in the World is Barack Obama?

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 05:  The new version of the new look Australian Here and Now Monopoly board is launched at Hasbro's Head Office on June 5, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. 16.8 million votes determined which 22 regions made it onto the all new Australian Monopoly Here & Now board.(Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The punditocracy seems split over the deal Barack Obama struck yesterday regarding the Bush Tax Cuts. On the one hand, he sold his liberal base down the river. On the other hand he acknowledged that elections matter and showed good faith negotiation with the GOP. Heck, just on one network alone you could get whiplash watching the pundit ball bounce back and forth from Ed Schulz blowing a gasket to Lawrence O’Donnell thinking this is business as usual, to Joe Scarborough putting on his “political analyst” hat and screaming foul. Joe’s position was particularly perplexing in that as a conservative he favors lower taxes but felt Obama made a very bad move politically.

For me, it is just more evidence, in a growing dossier, that Obama has no core. He is first and foremost a politician and his favorite political strategy is reconciliation. Progressives are upset that he didn’t even attempt to put on a good fight to keep the rich from maintaining their tax cut. But where is the surprise here? Apart from fiery rhetoric, when has Obama fought for anything in the past 22 months? Health care? Nope, sorry no fight there. Yes it was a bit of a struggle to get what little we got, but oh we got so little. A real mess of legislation, most of which doesn’t even see the light of day until 2014.

Obama’s unwillingness to put the GOP up against the wall and dare them to screw over the working man in favor of the rich fits a pattern that is trying the patience of the far left. Rendition, Gitmo, and secret wire taps remain. Afghanistan war has been escalated (ok he said he would do that on the campaign but still). The fact that we have not seen what Obama is willing to fight for calls into question whether he truly has any ideology at all. It also brings back bad campaign memories of accusations of relationships of convenience with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

To borrow Joe Scarborough’s boxing analogy from today’s “Morning Joe”, Obama hit the mat before the end of the first round. Now that doesn’t erase the fact that his political opponents are rank hypocrites who last night agreed to add 800 billion dollars to the federal deficit. We should also take some small comfort that our paychecks will see a bit of a bump in January due to a 2% decrease in FICA tax. But still, it is a bit disheartening to see Hope and Change reduced to “Can’t we all just get along?”

Your New Banker: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

If increasing the deficit weren’t bad enough, I got a jolt to the system while watching MSNBC’s “Countdown” last night (skip to the 10 minute mark in this video). Sitting in for Keith Olbermann, Sam Seder reported a mind blowing fact that I doubt many Americans know. We talk a lot about how much of our debt China owns. But it turns out we spread our debt around pretty nicely. We owe Great Britain, Saudi Arabia and …. get this …. Iran.  To make matters worse, how much we owe Iran is basically a state secret. In fact, when we first borrowed money from the Saudis during the Carter administration, the deal was contingent on secrecy.

So my question to the GOP is do you have any shame at all? Are you so willing to keep spending money we don’t have that you will do business under the table with a country that wants to do us harm? I was already fed up with the Republican’s hypocrisy regarding borrowed money but now that I better understand the source of the money, I am totally disgusted and you should be too.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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