The Second Term Curse

You have to go back to January 20, 1961 to find a US President who didn’t screw the pooch in his second term. Nixon had Watergate and resignation. Reagan had Iran-Contra and taped testimony that made him look old and feeble (foreshadowing the Alzheimer’s that would eventually take his life). Clinton had Monica Lewinsky and an impeachment trial. George W. Bush had Hurricane Katrina and a financial meltdown that at least for the time being puts his presidency among the ranks of Buchanan, Harding and Hoover.

I can’t speak for all liberals but both times that I voted for Barack Obama I never dreamed his second term would melt down like those before him. There are two schools of thought about Obama. One claims he is an evil thug (turn to Fox News for that story). Another says he is asleep at the wheel. I tend to believe the latter. This is a man who, for reasons that escape me, still has not learned that the presidency is about leadership. It’s about knowing what the hell is going on around you. It’s about activity, not just passively relying on your daily briefing. As a non-sports fan, I’ll risk using a sports metaphor and say that Obama seems to think the MVP on the basketball team is the dude who can pass the ball to the best shooter. Obama never seems to go for the slam dunk himself. He passes to Pelosi (look at ACA) or he passes to Biden (gun control). Now he’s got three “scandals” on his hands that he needs to take the lead on if he is to maintain any credibility.

Benghazi up until this week was a tragedy exploited for political gain. Then a memo from one of Hillary Clinton’s flunkies surfaced that spelled out the petty politics at the heart of the matter. No, contrary to the opinion of Republicans who are in permanent denial about the implausibility of a Mitt Romney presidency, there was no attempt to tamp down the terrorist aspect for the sake of Obama’s reelection. The memo from Victoria Nuland (which has been in the hands of Congress for some time but strangely only surfaced this past week) spells out the reason for sanitizing the CIA talking points. She wanted to save face for the State Department. So the American people were lied to over petty office politics. Not even big stakes electoral politics. The equivalent of the software development team spinning the bad message from the testing team about the lousy code they produce.  Had the GOP proceeded with moderation, the memo could have seen the light of day sooner and Nuland could have been fired as the appropriate sacrificial lamb for the lie perpetrated on the American people. Bottom line, despite the overplay by the GOP, the truth about the Benghazi talking points are a supreme insult to the memory of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The IRS is caught targeting right-wing groups for added scrutiny. Something right out of the Nixon playbook, although as I said earlier, I doubt this goes as far up as Obama. I think Obama is innocently or willfully ignorant of the shenanigans going on around him. Now let’s be perfectly clear, some of the groups targeted ARE full of horse manure, applying for tax exempt status as a community service when they are a pure political organization. The problem is that they were targeted based on profiling. It’s like pulling over the black guy cos you think he’s more likely to have committed a crime. It’s immoral. It’s indefensible.

The Justice department is caught listening in on the calls of the Associated Press, encompassing the conversations of some 100 journalists, at least some of whom are talking with confidential informants. The excuse is that Eric Holder and company were cracking down on leaks that could endanger national security. But let’s be honest here. Washington is hardly leak proof when it comes to national security, particularly if the leak makes the administration look tough on terrorism. Where I come from, conservatives intimidate the press, not liberals. But then again, where I come from conservatives drone-kill innocent 16-year-old boys, not liberals.

What the hell is going on?

And the best my beloved news source MSNBC can do is say “all the presidents have done it” or “Nixon did it” or “Bush did it and where was the Republican outcry then?” Are you kidding me? The best you can do in defense of this presidency is say he is just like every lousy president before him? Didn’t we hope for more?

I don’t know where we go from here. Obama clearly needs to fire a few folks. Credibility needs to be restored. And MSNBC needs to catch up with the rest of the press who are not so enamored of our historic President right now. We need to be honest and say this stuff stinks to high heaven and we need to clean it up. Stop making excuses. Stop covering up. One common theme to the second term curse is that the cover up is always worse than the crime. Obama better wake the hell up and start managing his administration or he will find himself right down there with Bush, Buchanan, Harding and Hoover.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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The GOP Slate and the Week We Lost Our Weiner

The GOP Slate

OK, let’s be honest, the first GOP candidate debate on Fox about a month ago was a joke. It included at least one candidate, Gary Johnson, who we know will never be President of the United States (Gary who?) and it did not include some heavy hitters, namely Romney and Gingrich through no fault of Fox but just bad timing. So let’s ignore that debacle and turn our attention toward the real first GOP candidate debate carried on CNN last Monday. The debate itself was clumsy with “average Americans” asking the questions. We don’t need average Americans who have no TV presence asking questions. I would have preferred a panel of journalists but then let’s not forget, this is the Palin Era where journalists are to be bypassed. The opening statements were also gag-worthy as each candidate tried to one-up the other on how much successful intercourse they’d had: “I’m the father of three”, “I’m the mother of five and foster-mother of 630”. Finally there were the series of “this or that” questions designed to lighten the mood and make the candidates more human. I was fully prepared for the moderator, John King to ask Herman Cain “Tupac or Biggie?”

Here is my quick review of the roster:

Rick Santorum: One word — Google. Really. Can any man whose last name ranks first on Google as the definition of  “The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” expect to one day be President of the United States? Gay activist Dan Savage’s evil bit of brilliance in launching a contest to concoct a gay-oriented definition for Rick’s last name permanently makes him a punchline. I will give Santorum credit, however for consistency. He is against abortion even in the case of rape and incest. As I’ve written before, this is the ONLY pro-life stance that has any integrity. As for Rick’s performance in the debate, nothing newsworthy. Just another “red-blooded American” appealing to the far right base.

Michele Bachmann: It looks like I must abandon my wait for Bachmann’s fall. The Congresswoman from Minnesota just keeps rising and her debate performance, while not brilliant, was hardly the dumb-ass display we might have expected from someone who thinks Lexington-Concord took place in New Hampshire and our founding fathers ended slavery. One could see in this performance a cheer leader for the Tea Party with a degree of gravitas missing from her most closely aligned associate, Sarah Palin. In this sexist world of ours, Palin is almost too pretty. You, and I mean you Rich Lowry, want to bed Palin. But while Bachmann is a reasonably attractive woman, when you look at her you think of a mother, not a lover and you see someone who truly wants to be relevant. You can imagine Bachmann bouncing back from gaffes by doing a bit of study to avoid them in the future. Her best moment was when she referred to Obama as “someone far more eloquent than I” and then hanged him on his own words. I cannot believe I’m saying this but we need to keep our eye on Bachmann.

Newt Gingrich: Fresh from his campaign staff quitting en masse, Newt used the debate to lecture America in his usual nonsensical professorial way. Most telling was his intro where he departed from the pattern of very personal introductions (see reference to successful procreation above) and chose instead to open with a policy statement. This makes sense since Newt Gingrich is a serial adulterer with no moral standing. Like Santorum, but for different reasons, Newt is now a punchline. Time to move on.

Mitt Romney: Making the first debate appearance of his campaign, Romney acquitted himself well. Most pundits gave the night to him with Bachmann a close second. I am probably in the minority on this but I think Romney has made a good distinction between what he did in Massachusetts and what Obama has done on a federal level with health care reform. To me the strongest part of his argument is that dealing with health care should not be a federal responsibility, but should rest with the States. This makes anything he did in Massachusetts his prerogative. I also got a kick out of his assertion that Obama never called him to consult on HCR. If only Obama had called Romney, “Obamacare” might have gone down better! Sadly though, Mitt still looks like Michael Scott from NBC’s “The Office”, that boss who wants so desperately to fit in with his underlings and fails miserably. Pundits have said, he reminds you of the dude who laid you off yesterday.

Tim Pawlenty: Yes there are those who want to give him the rap accolade T-Paw but I simply call him “Punk Ass Beeyotch” (the Notorious P.A.B.). Just a day earlier on Fox News he coined the devastating term “Obamneycare” forever tying Mitt Romney to Barack Obama. When given the opportunity to hammer home his assault with Romney standing next to him, Pawlenty showed us the kind of leadership we can expect in the White House — he punted. I think Romney is a bit taller than Tim and maybe could have kicked his ass. Maybe that was too intimidating? Imagine President Pawlenty talking smack about Ahmadinejad and then entering into negotiations with him where P.A.B. capitulates on everything. The truth is Tim is a wimpy soft-spoken man who does his best to fake tough and fails. The debate only confirmed what I already thought … Pawlenty is a non-starter.

Ron Paul: I’m sorry but despite his racist past, I cannot resist watching Ron Paul in a debate. Whether it’s telling the truth about the war on drugs or on our wars in general, Paul is always a refreshing breath of air. He is the only candidate who actually suggests concrete policy changes that are truly radical, that take us in a new direction. And of course, America being what it is, he will never get elected talking like that.

Herman Cain: Normally I’d launch into a racially charged diatribe about the only black candidate being placed at the far right of the assembled candidates, physically marginalized from the get-go but it does not matter where you place Cain on the stage, the man brings that “I know nothing about the issues” Palin appeal to the masses and it has earned him big points in most recent polls.  Essentially Cain’s performance could have been matched by any one of the folks who regularly comment on this blog. He is a “regular guy” successful business man who, like Palin, uses his ignorance of politics as a badge of honor. (Of course, with Palin it’s a bizarre sort of badge to wear since she has been in politics much of her adult life.) His approach is, what have career politicians done for you lately? He made some murky remarks about not wanting Muslims to serve in his administration but he seemed to step it back a bit to make a distinction about radical Muslims. (Of course, Newt took that opportunity to double down on the Islamaphobia.)  Like Bachmann, Cain seems to be willing to learn and he made attempts at specific policy prescriptions. I would not totally rule out a Cain VP slot.

In the batting cage were three people who could mix things up a bit. The will-she-won’t-she Sarah Palin is still undecided on a Presidential run and her recent SarahPAC funded vacation did nothing to clarify her intentions. I am still hoping she runs just to see her and Bachmann face off on stage! The punditocracy claims that Pawlenty’s stumble last Monday night opens the door for Texas Governor Rick Perry to enter the race. I find the idea of secessionist running for President highly amusing. And besides, look at the last President Texas gave us. Last but not least there is Jon Huntsman who will announce his run in the next few days. Huntsman is what many of my readers call a RINO. He does not pass the far right conservative litmus test. Even more interesting, he must walk that fine line of opposing Obama and defending his own employment under Obama as Chinese Ambassador. On the bright side, the dude speaks fluent Mandarin, so he isn’t a dumb-ass. On the less bright side, he opens his pre-campaign by reminding people that he was in the never-heard-of rock band Wizard while invoking images of “Easy Rider” and being stoned in the 60’s on your motor cycle. While cryptic, it sure is original. I will be watching Huntsman closely as the man who could possibly beat Obama.

weiner with all the fixins

The Week We Lost Our Weiner

If you see the progressives in your neighborhood dressed in black this week it is because they are in mourning. On June 16, after a three-week roller coaster ride of lies, revealing photos and high school worthy word-plays, New York Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner finally gave into mounting pressure and resigned. The circus atmosphere at his resignation speech was entirely consistent with a scandal devoid of any sense of dignity.

What emerges for me from Weinergate is one overriding thing: rank hypocrisy. Everywhere you looked during this scandal you saw a hypocrite:

The Media: The mainstream media said they desperately wanted to get to serious business and Weiner was a distraction but they kept leading their broadcasts with him. A prime suspect was Chris Matthews who declared some relief on Friday that Weiner had resigned so things like the debt ceiling could be discussed, but who with final editorial judgment over his show, decided to lead with Weiner on every show for almost two weeks.

The Democratic Party: From Nancy Pelosi to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Dem’s claimed they wanted Weiner to resign so he could “heal”. We all know that is plain and utter bullcrap. They don’t give one’s rat’s ass if Weiner heals. They want their anti-GOP talking points to take center stage again and not be overshadowed by one Congressman’s proclivity for exhibitionism.

The Republican Party: The party that gave us Larry Craig and David Vitter should do only one thing when a sex scandal emerges. STFU. Enough said.

The man himself: While it is true that Weiner never played the “family values” card like so many of his Republican counterparts, he was an outspoken advocate for moral causes, health care reform most notably. While no one is perfect, it does seem to me rank hypocrisy to talk about honesty and virtue in politics and then betray everyone around you with brazenly stupid behavior that you then try to lie to get out of.  The scandal makes a mockery out of one of Weiner’s finest moments when he talked about political courage.

What a terrible waste.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Mourning in America

On New Year’s Eve, thousands of birds dropped dead mid-flight in Arkansas littering the streets. A similar mass fatality occurred in Louisiana. Scientists have struggled to explain what could have happened, guessing that perhaps the birds were scared by fireworks and went berserk flying into each other and trees and other objects. Everyone has missed the obvious explanation. The birds were liberals despondently anticipating today’s GOP takeover of the House of Representatives.

As Ohio Representative John Boehner accepted the Speaker’s gavel from Nancy Pelosi, the party of “no’ transformed into the party of “not anymore”. Affordable health care: not anymore. Financial regulation: not anymore. Anything even slightly progressive to move our country forward: not anymore. Now of course, the barrier between the House’s sworn intent to turn back the clock and reality is a Democrat controlled Senate and a Democrat in the White House. The “repeal” of the Affordable Care Act will be a symbolic exercise in scream therapy for the House but the Senate will never allow repeal. Even if enough crazy blue dogs team up with the GOP in the Senate, the President will veto the repeal and there won’t be enough votes to override the veto. This will be the first of many useless attempts at reactionary politics in the House. But the plot thickens even more.

One of my conservative readers commented the other day, “These new Republicans better not forget who put them in. We better get the budget we expect.” I had to laugh. It wasn’t one of my more optimistic days and I responded:

The GOP is going to disappoint you terribly. Here’s the deal.

The GOP of the Bush-era (the first six years) is the real GOP. You see there is no such thing as conservative fiscal policy anymore. We have a credit society … a debt driven society … a short-term satisfaction society. There are no grown ups anymore. This is not liberal; this is not conservative; this is a state of the current human condition.

A bunch of Tea Party folks will come into Congress on Wednesday and after a short honeymoon, the old-timers will tell the new guys to STFU and play the game the way it’s always been played: pork barrel spending and caving to lobbyists. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio will have their hands tied (assuming they were the real deal to begin with). John Boehner is old school. There will be no revolution under him and THAT my friends is what is needed right now. A legislative revolution on a par with what is going on in Great Britain.

Our fat spoiled society, underemployed by greedy bastard international conglomerates will go on just as they have for the past decade. The poor will stay poor, the middle class will become poor and the rich won’t know the difference and won’t give a damn. And all you suckers will identify with the have’s when you’re all a bunch of have-nots. You’ve said in the past that my allegiance to liberal politics will end me up in a trailer park in Gary, Indiana. Well my conservative friends, we’ll all be together one day in that trailer park where you can tell me face to face how effective your grand old party is. 👿

Clearly I wasn’t having a particularly good day. But unfortunately, I was also speaking the truth. Just within the 2010 campaign we saw radical Tea Party politicians like Rand Paul start to step things back a bit when they went from the primary to the general election. Do we really believe that after years of the House ignoring Ron Paul’s call for military budget restraint that suddenly his son is going to be taken seriously in the Senate? Who are we fooling? Look at our new Speaker. He’s been around since 1991. Boehner is going to bring fresh ideas to Congress and clean up waste and corruption?

There is not a lot to be happy about today. What is the prescription for liberals? I think our best course is to look at the good things the GOP wants to do, like cut the deficit and control needless spending and then hold them to it. Let’s not be obstructionist about good ideas just because they come from the GOP. Remember, idiot Republican Congressmen voted against stuff they once supported once Obama also supported it. We don’t want to follow that example. In the area of spending cuts, let’s push for serious Department of Defense cuts. Let’s make the conservatives truly share in this sacrifice they say we all must share in.

On Twitter today, the snark about John Boehner was in full bloom. Keith Olbermann tonight is fuming particularly noxious exhaust. I say we jump from the anger stage of mourning and go straight to acceptance. Accept who is in charge in the House and hold them to their promises to the American people. Our anger and disappointment from last November will be vindicated in the utter failure of the good old boys to get anything useful done. When the Tea Party patriots of the new House get a lesson in reality, it will be our turn to say:

How’s that hopey changey thing workin’ for ya?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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