Friday, August 31, 2012

 Dirty Harry meets the GOP

     Crazy old man takes the stage at the Republican Convention and talks angrily to an empty chair, just before Mitt Romney gives the speech of his life . What gives?

     Whoever was in charge of timing and scheduling at the RNC convention flunked badly. The night before they followed a brilliant speech by the candidate's wife with an in your face angry fat guy Governor from New Jersey who was all self absorbed and less complementary of the candidate than he should have been. Can you say, "Get the hook?"

     There were moments when the Republicans actually did shine. Ann Romney's wonderful and inspirational talk was one of those moments. Blue as the blood in my veins may be, I could be persuaded to vote for her. Problem is, she's not running. She seems to me , as the mother of five fine sons who raised them with a loving but largely absent father, to be the real hockey mom we can all respect. Sadly, this was not the case for most of the other supporting cast of characters and bloviators.

     Mitt Romney's most inspirational moment for me came when he said about President Obama's election that we as Americans, himself included, wanted him to succeed. The problem is , his Vice Presidential partner Paul Ryan, and the other head honchos in the Republican Congress did not. They were plotting immediately to chart a course that would insure Obama could not solve America's problems, for if he did, his re-election would be assured, so they decided to just say everything, all the time . Total non-cooperation on their part elevated politics over governing , and they even drove the Chevy almost to the levy during the debt crisis debate, playing chicken with the American people. They largely achieved their objective.  Our credit rating even got downgraded. Whatever happened to the old  golden rule of politics, "First, do no harm"? Sadly, for America, it went out the window on day one of Obama's Presidency.

     So, Obama did not totally succeed, and the jobless number remains high.  He did some good things, like saving the auto industry and millions of jobs, but unemployment  would be lower if they had just voted for a jobs bill that would have fixed and built roads and bridges.  They refused to do so, knowing Obama would be given credit, so they just sat on their hands and will continue to do so until the election is over. There is no letting up to their no-ism.  Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan politically outsmarted, indeed,  ukered the President with their negative trump cards of filibusters and no votes.

     The problem for Obama was that he was initially naive. He didn't fully understand that they were just playing him along, and that at the last minute, they would again pull the plug on any broad solution to the debt crisis, or the Medicare funding problems, or a bill giving better health care coverage to millions of uncovered Americans. They chose to walk away from the table and curse the darkness. They played Obama for a chump, and sadly he mostly went along, trying desperately to find common ground, where there was none to be found.  He was continually surprised when they teased him, entreated him, and then just slammed the door in his face. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

     Obama may have finally learned his lesson, and is starting to fight back. The only question is, will it be too little, too late, or can he save the day for himself and the country. Will he be Mighty Mouse, or Mickey Mouse. That is the question.

      Mitt Romney as Popeye the Sailor man actually does have a chance of knocking Obama out of his Executive chair. I guess it all depends on how much spinach Obama eats between now and the Democratic convention. If it were up to me, I'd take the arugula off the White House menu, and feature a little more red meat .  Obama will need all the testosterone he can muster to beat back this bunch in November.

     We shall see if he can play the role of the man of steel, or just crumple under the weight of the unrelenting Republican mega funded juggernaut. Hopefully he will rise to the occasion and save the day for America. Hopefully. That's still the key word. Hope. Fortunately, it springs eternal.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh My Akin Breakin' Heartland

I have just returned to Missouri from a pleasant summer in upstate New York. I teach part time here in the heartland. It was very hot all summer in Missouri. The temperatures are just beginning to settle down to near normal levels, and then, boom! The political world is lit up like a bonfire as a result of what one Missouri congressman said, and what a Kansas Congressman did. One dipped into the unholy waters of the Abortion/Rape debate, and the other, a Freshman Republican Congressman from Kansas went skinny dipping in the Holy Sea of Galilee.
Just when you think this year’s political campaign season could not get any worse, or any weirder, it does.   Enter Reps. Kevin Yoder and Todd Akin.
      There’s something about Missouri. It is where the country usually pivots. And courtesy of Akin’s foot-in-mouth disease, we now have another pivotal moment from Missouri that could be an epiphany or just plain apocryphal for the chances of Republican ascendancy come November.
Congressman Akin just won the nomination for the Senate from Missouri. He is running against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, whose chances of re-election, until now, had been rather dim. Akin actually said that women who are raped can effectively will away a pregnancy, so there is no need to allow a woman who is a victim of “legitimate rape” — as opposed to illegitimate rape? — to choose to abort such a resultant pregnancy. In essence, he theorized that somehow you can’t get pregnant unless you enjoyed the rape.The sad thing is, he apparently meant it.
OK, since you can pray away the gay, why can’t you also pray away the day you got raped? Maybe he meant that the power of positive thinking can cause you to self-abort? Who knows?
     Most Americans, including me, firmly believe in the power of prayer, and positive intention, but this comment takes it to a whole different dimension.
     Akin could be the 51st vote that would give Republicans control of the Senate. He is from the western suburbs of St. Louis — and the Michele Bachmann school of religiosity in politics. He was trained as a divinity student and later became an engineer. Politics, however, and the strong support of Tea Party type Conservatives in Missouri, have allowed him to take the national stage in a way that is not entirely flattering to Missouri. His statement, or misstatement as he calls it, was front-page national political news, but was buried on Page 6 of Monday’s Joplin Globe.
I guess it is a sad thing for the Republican Party that he is from Missouri, and he showed us.
He showed us what prominent Republican strategist Craig Shirley said is true. Shirley said that the Republicans are becoming the party of “intoxication, intolerance and idiocy.” If top Republicans are saying that, just imagine what the Democrats might say.
And GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is closely allied with this guy. Their stances on most issues are very similar. Ryan and Akin both serve on the Ways and Means Committee together, and have jointly sponsored legislation which would prohibit abortion, except in the case of “forcible” rape, as if rape of any kind (other than statutory) is consensual. As President Obama said correctly, “Rape is rape!”

Congressman  Yoder is from the western suburbs of Kansas City, Mo., (which suburbs happen to be in Kansas). He and a bunch of other Freshmen Republican frat boy types went for an ale begotten moonlight  swim on a junket to the sea of Galilee. Yoder , apparently the boldest of the allegedly boozed up bunch, admits that he actually stripped off all his clothes to skinny dip where Jesus so famously walked on water. Alas, there are no calls from the National Republican leadership for his ouster. Why is that?

     He demonstrated a different kind of forgivable stupidity than his cohort Congressman Akin. Akin's mistake was to wade into the waters of a debate about abortion that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and others want to avoid. Akin, though fully clothed at the time of his verbal gaffe, just waded into the wrong waterway. He would have been better off to dive head first into the Red Sea in his BVD's as part of a stunt on The Jackass TV program. That would be forgivable, but blowing the cover of the anti -women agenda of the GOP, and potentially losing to Claire McCaskill, and losing a Republican controlled Senate as a result,  is just inexcusable. Besides,  Congressman Yoder doesn't even have a Democratic opponent.
     I guess it boils down to this: Jesus forgives sinning skinny dippers, but women whose rights  have been  scorned by the GOP will remember  Akin- like jackasses like Elephants do. They will never forget.

So Congressman Yoder survives, and Congressman Akin is mortally wounded, but soldiers on.  What to make of this conondrum?

How does Paul Ryan set himself free from Akin?
The answer is, he can’t. Yoder can stay, but Akin has to go, or Ryan becomes a huger liability for Romney than he already is.  And so far, he shows no signs of going. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Kansas and Missouri show us again what is really going on. Woe are we. And woe unto the GOP...big time.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Show me!

In the immortal words of Tom  Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire------- "Show me the money" ! In the less immortal words of Sen.  Harry Reid to Mitt Romney, •Show me your tax returns!" to that, Mr. Romney responded on Fox News' Sean Hannity show, "Harry Reid had better put up or shut up! " whoa Nelly! What's going on here with this war of words? Who is Trumping whom here?
     When the Birthers kept shouting for Barack Obama's birth certificate, and he kept dodging release of the actual document, Sean Hannity and others of his ilk adopted the "Show me position" when it came to the question of whether Obama was really born in Hawaii . Ultimately, Obama caved, and released his birth certificate. End of story? Not completely. The doubting Thomases like Donald Trump remain, but to those among us who are still sane , after this already long dragged out campaign, that was proof enough.
     So back to taxes. If Mitt Romney would just release ten years of his tax returns like his father ( who was the first to do so) did, that would be the end of it. Claiming, as his spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom did that " He paid 100 per cent of any taxes owed" will just not cut it. What if there were no taxes owed? What if his losses exceeded his gains, aided by channeling money to offshore Cayman Island accounts, or putting the pea, albeit legally, under some other shell?What if he didn't owe anything for ten years? 100% of nothing is still nothing. Does it depend on what Romney's definition of is, is?
    Now, to his rescue rides John McCain, the former Republican Presidential candidate whose thorough vetting of Romney in 2008 (including reviewing of twelve years of his tax returns)  resulted in his not choosing Romney, told the Wall St. Journal  that Romney's returns were 100% legal. Oh, that should end it! Truth is, you can be 100% legal, and still pay no taxes for certain years. After all, that's why God made tax lawyers and tax loopholes. And as for McCain's thorough vetting of Vice Presidential candidate...there is a two word response ...Sarah Palin.

Some smart businessmen legally avoid paying taxes much of the time.
 They do so by taking advantage of legal loopholes in the tax code that require them only to pay what is legally due Uncle Sam, and not one penny more! Those guys are heralded in the business community for their money making genius. The fact is though, they just don't run for President. When you run for President, you should have nothing to hide. Just ask John Edwards or Gary Hart about that. If you do have something big to hide, somehow, it eventually comes out, temerity and hubris  not withstanding.
   So, sorry Mitt. I'm from Missouri. Show me! Nothing short of a real ease of your tax returns will end this debate, and if there is something to hide, you shouldn't be running for President in the first place. If there is truly nothing to hide, then just release the returns. It's that simple. Show me.