How I learned to Relax and Enjoy the Newtron Bombney

For many months, I have been tied up in knots over the contenders for GOP nomination. I am terrified that on the third Tuesday in January, 2013, someone will utter any of the following:  “President Romney”, “President Gingrich”, “President Paul” or “President Santorum”.

I watch the GOP debates, with all of the venal, xenophobic, hypocritical, self-serving garbage that the candidates spew.

Any of these people would destroy our nation.  Setting aside Ron Paul and Rick Santorum (who are not winning the primaries), Gingrich is just evil, mercurial and evil (it bears repeating) and Romney is clueless and changes position faster than some in our nation change underwear.

President Obama who was elected to fix everything in less time than it took to break it all.  And, he wasn’t supposed to break a sweat or a promise or make a mistake.  We were exuberant, irrational and naive about the true state of our nation.  No one — no Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Tea Party-ist, whatever — would face any easier re-election bid.

Let’s just accept that.  If McCain had won, he would be called the GOP’s version of Jimmy Carter.

And let’s be clear — Obama’s campaign fed on the hopes and aspirations that we were electing a messianic politician.  He rode high and won on outlandish expectations that his campaign encouraged.  Once elected, he had to tamp down the expectations.  Because he found out just what he inherited and it wasn’t pretty.

But the GOP nominee can be the next president of the United States.  We cannot ignore that scary possibility.  (To wit:  GWB won 5-4 in the Supreme Court.)  Too many people are comfortable that Obama can beat either Romney or Gingrich, but the economy is fragile and people are deeply divided over President Obama (some for political reasons; others, for reasons that are, let’s say, less than Christian).  So, nothing is a sure thing.

Why am I scared? We have never been more divided as a nation.  And President Obama has incited the angry passions in the left wing of the Democrats and all of the Republicans — Democratic left, because he wasn’t nearly as “progressive” as they had expected and the Republicans, because he wasn’t nearly the effete liberal, scared-y cat they were hoping to skewer.

Now that the GOP is divided and frantically scrambling to blow back against a Gingrich nomination or presidency, I smile and relax.

If I set aside what the mud-slinging says about us and our society, I can talk about the debates in the same conversation as others talk about the Real Housewives of Los Angeles.  And no one knows I am talking about the political debates and our (G-d forbid) future president of our country.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

President Obama, Save the Date

Dear President Obama:

I know, deep down, in your heart of hearts, you are not anti-gay marriage.  In fact, I think you don’t understand why people draw the line in the sand on this issue.  Given what a mess heterosexuals make of marriage, who should care if more people want to get married and then pay the marriage tax, to boot.  If some crazy gays want to do this, then G-d bless, right?

But you’ve missed the point.  It’s about taxation.

People don’t want to subject us queers to the marriage tax because the problem in Washington is spending, not revenue.

How about if you have a special tax code exemption for us so we don’t have to see our hard-earned dollars go into social programs? Maybe speak with Majority Leader Boehner (and how come his name isn’t pronounce “Boner” anyway?) about this.  I am sure that he will drop his Defense of Marriage Act defense once he realizes the gay marriage is not back door taxation.  (Don’t even think that was a clever pun for those who are male.)

Look, the GOP standard bearers want to protect our lives and our incomes.  Why else would they not want us to serve in the military?  And not marry?  Well, aren’t we the unanticipated darlings of the far-right?

This is the triple negative political action play that is making my head spin.  But never mind the GOP.

Andrew Cuomo, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have all stepped on the bandwagon.  Now I know the Clintons aren’t running for political office anymore (maybe a seat on the Supreme Court . . . ).  But Cuomo figures by 2016, equality will be a non-issue.  And he is right.  But you are in the “here and now” where it is gutsy to be a sitting President and lead by example.

You’re in a tough spot.  Let me sweeten the pot.  POB (partner of blogger) and I are getting married next year.  We had planned it well before the vote because we just wanted to celebrate our family and friends.

There’s an invitation with Michelle’s and your names on it if you just say. . .

Yes, gays can.”



This is now our national discourse?  WTF?  How about if you don’t like what you hear, instead of tearing it down, Build It, Tough CHick.

Ugh, I have stooped to her level.  Soon I’ll be sending my son to appear on Dancing With Famous People’s Children who should be home taking care of their love children.

But the person who out-Sarahs Sarah is Michele Bachmann.  Our founding fathers fought to end slavery?  Ever hear of the 3/5th Compromise in the Constitution that effectively legitimized slavery and kicked the issue down the road for a century?

Everyone has a right to an opinion.  And I have a right to determine that someone’s opinion is stupid, ill-informed and baseless.  And I have the right to believe that a scholar’s view has more weight than someone’s who has not studied the topic and relies on talking heads (on any network) for opinions.

WTF, indeed.  As in:  “Sarah Palin??? WTF is that Grizzly Mama saying?”

Politics, Politics

Ok, the rant is building, building, building . . . here it comes!!

I liked the State of the Union address.  The President could have touted that he saved the car industry, that he kept the country from economic free-fall, that the US and Israel disrupted Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but he didn’t.  I think he should have because America needs to remember all that he has accomplished.   But that is because I am partisan.  I think he struck the right tone as willing to make principled compromises. Besides, he had one hour to say all things to all people.  Hey, now that’s a reasonable expectation.

The sign that he did a good job was that he was being pilloried by MSNBC, CNN and, even without watching it, FOX.

Oh, and, apropos of nothing, Speaker Boehner has a bad body colorist.

In the GOP retort, Paul Ryan said investment is a code-word for spending.  It is not.  There is no code. Investment is spending.  When I invest in real estate, stocks, etc., I am spending money, with an eye toward making a good return on my investment.

So, the three things that distinguish the GOP and the Democrats is who should do the spending, on what and how much.

I believe in spending on education and innovation.   I believe that these will provide a good return on the money invested.  The GOP believes that investment should be made by private enterprise.  How private enterprise would have developed the Internet and GPS or will develop high speed railways and clean energy without government grants is beyond me.  And should we abolish public education?  No, but the GOP wants to starve it so that the little money spent on it would be a waste.

We pay the least amount of taxes of the industrialized nations.  Before WWII, tax rates had some people paying 80%.  So everyone, chill out on taxes.  Remember the GOP spent willy-nilly (not a usual phrase for me) on two wars and kept it outside the budget so that the American people wouldn’t know.  So, now, NOW, we have to worry about taxing the top 2%?  Did you ask me?  If you did, I would tell you to keep my tax cut and buy some muzzles for the Tea Party legislators.  Now, that is a good investment.  Do you think it is really tea?  It is a dry weed-like substance.  We should try rolling that “tea” and seeing if smoking it give us delusions of intelligent impact on the national discourse, too.

Paul Ryan seems like a lovely guy but I was distracted by his perfect hair and a little freaked out by his Biblical references. And why is your part half way between the middle and one side?  Isn’t that radical?

Rep. Ryan said something like our regulations were fine, it was just the corporate and governmental evil-doers that stole our prosperity.  But, wait, that happened BEFORE President Obama was president.  Remember, that Decider guy?  Yeah, that one.  He was running the show.  And, wait for it . . . he is a Republican!!!  Omigod, how embarrassing, Paul.  Still, with that gaffe extraordinaire, your hair did not move.

And, will you stop about small government?  There are 300 million of us.  We need hordes just to pave roads and administer social security and Medicare, run the military and veterans benefits.  You don’t mean to scrimp on these things, do you Paul?  You even referred to the days of Lincoln as an example of small government.  Those crazy, high energy, innovative days when were no fair labor laws, children worked 14-hour days, no food or product safety laws and, oh, yes, no truth in advertising or disclosure by companies.  So we could die in the factory, die from rotten food or poisonous products or lose our life savings to corporate con men.  And, as a student of history, you know that our nation went through boom and bust cycles every decade because of the inability to regulate the unbridled greed of speculators and market makers.

Oh, yes, sign me up, Paul, for your vision of America.  Or I guess I could just go to a third world nation for the same experience.

President, pundits and Palin

I watched the President’s speech last night.  He spoke as our nation’s leader, as a parent, as a person and as a professor.   He clearly choked up when talking about the young girl who was killed.  In that moment, he was a father who couldn’t imagine losing one of his daughters.  

It is something that is remarkable about this President.  He has young children and he often talks about the world he wants to pass down to them and their generation.  They are our future.  Last night, as President and father, he asked us to live up to the ideals of that young girl who was killed.  Let’s move beyond the cynicism and the vitriol.  Let’s make our kids proud.  This wasn’t fake rhetoric or soaring oratory; this has been his message and his example since the campaign days.  

(And yes, he is professorial, so sometimes you have to struggle through the abstract and long-winded parts.) 

I noticed how naturally his and Mrs. Obama’s hands intertwined when he was seated.  Theirs seems a relaxed affection that belies his stoic and Mr. Spock-like reputation.  That comforted me although I am not yet sure why.

It was startling that it was a rolicking good time at the auditorium.  I think those tuning in expected something more somber.  But, having been in mourning more than once, I know it is the start of a personal journey and not something to be judged by outsiders.

Then I watched portions of Sarah Palin’s podcast.  I am not sure what I would do if people blamed me for the deaths of innocent people.  She is who she is: an agitator but not a leader.

The conservative, liberal and middle-of-the-road pundits were out-doing themselves last night.  They must get paid by the word and get bonus dollars for picking things apart in ways that become senseless.   And I think there is an even bigger bonus if you say something really inane and it gets repeated by another pundit on another show. 

All in all, I think we and our democracy are best served when we, as citizens, go to sources — reading the books and listening to the speeches and debates —  and making the decisions, rather than relying on talking heads to tell us what we ought to think.  They get paid to incite controversy.  If we just listened to each other, maybe the tone of the rhetoric would naturally tone down.

Tragedy on so many levels

In Tucson, many are dead and injured as a result of a deranged man with a deranged message.

Let’s put aside the left blaming the right and whether it is foreseeable that a lunatic would do this.  That conversation will get us nowhere and misses the point.

I think it is more worthwhile to wonder why politics is a bloodsport these days in a way that we haven’t seen since in perhaps a century.

Let’s think instead about how our politician are so invested in being right that they vilify the oppositional view and the integrity of its proponents.  In 2008, when Michele Bachmann said that then candidate Barack Obama and Michele Obama were “anti-American” because they hold views different from hers, that is a code that our country is being infiltrated by enemies.  Think about it, she said that the likely 44th President was the Manchurian Candidate of the movies.  And in the movies, a lone gunman (the good guy) kills the Manchurian Candidate.

Then Sarah Palin has a website that has a target on Rep. Giffords’ district (“in the cross-hairs”) for some reason or other.  Or the famous, Palinism: “don’t back down, just reload” or something like that.  Words have meaning, even if you try afterward to refudiate them.

This is war-speak.  And in war, enemies are killed, and our soldiers come home to heroes’ welcomes (ideally).  But war produces body-bags, brutality, starvation, desperation and carnage.

Is that the fevered pitch we want in our national discourse?  So, let us speak gently and with respect when we debate.  Even if we have to fake it.

Let’s set some ground rules:

  1. A socialist and tea-party member can love this country and protect the very institutions of government that make us strong.
  2. It isn’t about being right; it is about building a consensus and keeping this country great.
  3. Political defeat is hard to take but you can’t take your marbles and go home or start threatening people.
  4. The media does more to stoke the divisions than provide any useful information.
  5. If our nation tacks to the left or right, some people will not be pleased, but they must always remain the loyal opposition. (It is hard; I know. I had to endure the policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney and even some of President Obama’s policies I don’t like).
  6. Exemplifying and practicing the principles of this nation are essential for this country to move forward in one piece and in peace.

Gays in the Military

Does anyone really believe that, with the lifting of the ban, gays will start wearing rainbow flags and singing Judy Garland songs instead of the national anthem? 

Military is a macho place where gays will be harassed for decades to come.  I doubt gays will start coming out of the closet in droves tomorrow. 

The point on the injunction is that no one can get forced from the military for being gay, so gay service members don’t have to live in fear of discovery while they serve our nation on the battlefields.  Our nation should be grateful to those who love this country so much that they will risk their lives even though they face senseless discrimination. 

Let’s get at the fear, which is sex:  Some people think that gay service members will start propositioning heterosexuals and start having sex in public. 

First, straight people over-estimate their attractiveness. 

Second, these people are trained military personnel who abide by a code of conduct. 

If a gay or straight service member acts in a way unbecoming an officer or enlisted person (use any example you want) then that service member can still be, and should be, discharged. 

And, President Obama, don’t fight this injunction.  We are here, we are queer and we are tired of waiting.

Square Peg; Oval Office

I listened to President’s Obama’s speech.  I did not listen to the pundits.  But let me make some educated guesses:

If you are a GOP candidate or in the GOP leadership, you thought (i) he was short on specifics for economic recovery, (ii) he should have come out in favor of tax cuts, and (iii) he failed to vindicate the success of the surge in Iraq for enabling him to fulfill a campaign promise of ending the combat mission in 18 months.

If you are Keith Olbermann (and sometimes Frank Rich), you wonder why he didn’t renounce war all together, and how he could possibly mention George W. Bush and patriotism in the same sentence.

If you are Maureen Dowd, you wonder what happened to his passion and why, even though we elected Mr. Spock, he didn’t somehow morph into Dr. Spock.

If you are Chris Matthews, you are joking about how his eyes fluttered from time to time because you really can’t cope with your rock star hero’s having to represent the establishment he ran against.

I will go out on a limb here and have an opinion:  I liked his speech.  I thought he spoke movingly of the sacrifices of our troops.  He heard our fears about our economy and tried to be reassuring — as reassuring as one can be in the twenty minutes of prime time allotted.  He danced around the backlash against Muslims and building of mosques and community centers.  That was disappointing, but “politic”.

So, if you are the opposition, you hated it.  If you are among the democrats who wanted public health care and war crimes tribunals for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld (I don’t disagree) you are frustrated to the point of distraction.  If you just want the President to do his job and you appreciate even a little what an impossible job it is, you thought he did fine and just want him to keep trying.

So, how did I do?  If I hit 75% accuracy, I will have saved two hours of my life by not watching talking heads or reading pout-y Op-Eds.  How liberating.

When Jon Stewart gives up and just rants

Jon Stewart is my voice.  He says what is on my mind.

But more than that.  He is my litmus test for whether I am over-reacting.  If he slams a news story in a light-hearted and are-they-“f”ing-kidding-me way, then I think I am over-reacting; it is stupid but it will pass.  But recently, Jon Stewart has given up on satire and has gotten visceral and angry.  Especially with the mosque in lower Manhattan.  That scares me because I had hoped that I was over-reacting in my belief that this country is going down a bad road with the opposition to this mosque.  I am scared of mobs incited by power-seeking ideologues who will throw away the principles that make this nation great.

A measure of a nation and a people is whether they hold fast to their ideals in the face of those who would destroy them.  Hey, Sarah, Newt and Harry Reid, how do you think we are measuring up?

And, so, Jon Stewart speaks for me when his humor oozes hopelessness from the political stagnation and petty internecine warfare.

President Obama cannot solve all of our problems.  And he is an egotistical, self-satisfied politician.  But he is more thoughtful and careful than George Bush and his cronies.  He is not always be right, but he is trying.  And I don’t agree with President Obama on many things, but I can still support him as the President of the United States.  If anyone says he or she agrees or disagrees with the President 100% of the time, then there is more to it that a president or his policies. It is about something else.  President Obama is more polarizing than any other President.  Why?  Because he is an African-American.  It is both liberating and threatening to Americans.  Let’s talk about it.

The GOP can rally the base with veiled racist fears.

Yes, I am feeling hopelessness and despair and so, it seems, is the most trusted name in news.

(I remember Stephen Colbert from his days at Dartmouth and I cannot, will not, listen to him.  I remember too much of when he wasn’t a fake neo-con.)

The Audacity of Stupidity and the Audacity of Hypocrisy


I am constantly amazed that politicians will say anything to anyone without regard to facts and the interests of our country.  


Here is one audaciously stupid thing:

Jon Stewart’s satire is spot-on about the anti-Islam fervor in this country spewed by those — like the Governor of Tennessee — who have the nerve to say in the same paragraph that freedom of religion is a cornerstone of our nation’s laws.  According to the Governor, unencumbered as he is by facts or knowledge, Islam is a culture.  [Note to self:  wonder about the education systems in our country.]

Stop. Think. Vomit.

Now let’s move on to the audaciously hypocritical.  I have TWO things that rile me.


Jon Stewart is also spot-on about the outrageous things politicians will say just to sully an opponent’s record.  For example, Jon Stewart highlighted Newt Gringrich’s decrying Obama-Reid-Pelosi socialism in the same sentence that he touts zero capital gains tax in Communist China.  

Remember, Newt Gingrich famously shut down the ENTIRE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT because — his own words — he didn’t like that he was put in the back of Air Force One when a delegation of US leaders went to the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin.

Remember, too, that Newt Gingrich famously carried on an affair with a staffer while pushing the impeachment of then-President Clinton over lying about extra-marital sex.

Stop. Think. Worry that people will believe him.

Bush Tax Cuts: 

I think any responsible economist (and even those in the Bush Administration) would agree that tax cuts “don’t pay for themselves” and that tax cuts should only be effectuated in connection with reduced federal spending.  The Bush tax cuts were in fact followed by outrageous over-spending.  This is something that should have shocked the fiscal conservatives such as Sens. McCain, McConnell and DeMint, and Reps. Boehner and others, but apparently, not so much.  They voted on those spending bills.  Now we are supposed to trust them that they should be in charge?

Letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans lapse could reduce the deficit by $300 billion.  Do the wealthiest Americans really need help in this economic climate?  As one of least wealthy of the wealthiest Americans, going back to the Clinton Era tax structure will not make a material difference in my family’s life.  I imagine that those wealthier than I are not counting on the tax cut either to make ends meet or go on vacation or send their kids to school or whatever.

But, listen to the GOP leaders — they want to keep those cuts.  They are trying to fashion it as a tax “increase” for political gain.  Another step toward socialism, they suggest.


Stop.  Think.  Worry even more that people will believe these clowns.

Are you wondering where the audacity of stupidity and the audacity of hypocrisy meet, join forces and become a near-nuclear threat?  Drum roll . . .

Sarah Palin