Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Fall Lineup

Hey, Republicans, how's that nominating process goin' for ya? Isn't life fun when you let the Tea Party know-nothings run your primary election process? All together now - Wheeee!

Seriously, right-wingers. Look at the Murderers Row of candidates who have stood before their anxious, statesman-starved constituents and struck themselves out one after the other.

Batting lead-off was Michele Bachmann, who seemed like a very polished and skilled politician until she began speaking. Then Rick Perry swayed boozily to the batter's box, fanning away at every grapefruit-league softball pitch, even forgetting his own talking points. Next up was former pizza magnate Herman Cain, and after several weeks of reports of his behaving like a pimp around women, he gave up (long before, it is worth nothing, the conservative electorate ever did).

Now, predictably, Newt Gingrich is rolling in his role as clean-up hitter. So what if he divorced his first wife while she had cancer? John McCain did something very similar, and he was an old white-haired guy who was good enough to lose to Barack Obama. Who cares if Newt can't handle money? We need a leader, not a calculator. What difference that Newt shut down the government in 1995? Saved us taxpayers some money, didn't it?

Surely, Vern Wuensche is waiting in the on-deck circle. Or Jimmy McMillan. Forget Jon Huntsman - far too reasonable of a human being, and besides, he worked for Obama. Poor Rick Santorum must feel like the last guy in line in the Red Light district.

All through this process (which has been painful to watch but good viewing nonetheless) is Mitt Romney, yelling, "Put me in, Coach!" He was actually an okay governor in Massachusetts - made sure everyone had health care, looked out for gay rights, wasn't crazy about abortion - but that may well be the thing that startles the base about him. Or it might be something else... Let's just say that the Evangelicals don't view Mitt's religion as something exactly out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Whether or not Republican primary voters are capable of making an intelligent choice (please, God, Ron Paul) remains to be seen. With unemployment sighing down and consumer confidence having nowhere to go but up, any GOP standard-bearer will be the cake in Obama's 2o12 cakewalk to re-election.

All the economy really needs is for the banks to lighten up on the indebted, for corporations to pull some of the cash out from under their golden mattresses, and for the super-wealthy to pay a little more in taxes. All of that adds up to... What?

A solid second-term agenda. (Who would have guessed that Obama would be impenetrable on defense issues?) See you next year, Republicans. If you drink too much at the New Year's party, believe me, everyone will understand.

pH 12.o4.11

Monday, September 19, 2011


Finally, the excruciating game of Rope-a-Dope ends. President Barack Obama has stopped ducking, stopped weaving, stopped laying back against the Republican Party and the professional pugilists who do its dirty work.

Obama, seemingly content to jab his way through his first thousand days in office, has at last thrown a punch, and aims to follow it up with a few quick combinations before leaving his opponents flat on their faces, a Jackson Pollack impression of themselves left on the canvas in November of next year. That's the plan, anyway.

The First Haymaker has been unleashed, with Obama's $1.5 trillion deficit reduction plan allowing the cream of the Bush tax cuts to expire. "This is not class warfare," stressed the POTUS. "It's math."

His plan is a guaranteed non-starter among the right-wing elephant herd in Congress, which wrongly perceives and portrays the closing of upper crust loopholes and the expiration of said tax cuts (restoring them to those draconian Clinton-era levels) as a tax increase.

The GOP may as well be the NOPE when it comes to tax increases, even on the Soroses, the Buffetts and the Gateses. They have chained themselves to the human anchor that is Grover Norquist and his sociopathic Club for Growth cronies. Tea Party bacteria has infected the Republican Party, and most Americans are sick of it. In this economy, it's hard to drum up sympathy for millionaires anymore.

The amazing thing is how far conservative lawmakers have stuck their chins out on this. Non-Tea Partiers, like Speaker John Boehner, were amenable to revenue increases during the debt ceiling showdown, but they were drowned out by all the uneducated hollering in the House. The few remaining realists in the Republican Party (mostly residing in the supposedly adults-only Senate) had their frustration summed up by John McCain, whose recent crack about "Hobbits" incensed the new conservative base.

Yet they will defend the uber-wealthy to the hilt, against a ginned-up so-called tax hike, because they have to - they're all-in now. The Obama plan (also generating savings from troop pullouts in Iraq and Afghanistan) should also renew the faith among his own party, which has grown weary of his propensity for using the wrong end of the olive branch... No more.

Any semi-seasoned political hack can tell you how to finish off the conservatives now that their arms, exhausted from endless flailing, are hanging limp by their sides: Link them to the Abramoff-esque lobbyists whose pork-barrel projects have pushed our nation to the brink of bankruptcy, like the $700 billion Medicare drug plan, passed by Republicans and signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. Or TARP, which gave almost a trillion dollars to banks that had already proven themselves to be irrational and irresponsible, which was drummed up over a weekend by Bush's henchmen on their way out the door. Or, y'know, the war in Iraq.

From Big Agriculture to Big Pharma, from Big Oil to Big Defense, Republican pockets are stuffed with pork. Which makes them hypocrites. That doesn't matter to the radio-zombies out there, but it does to Independents, not to mention those woefully addled voters who somehow still describe themselves as "undecided".

Obama's path to re-election looks blessedly easy at this point. The electorate is on his side on the tax issue. His approval ratings, while slackening, are still better than most of his predecessors had at this stage of their first terms. And the field of opposition candidates is so laughable as to raise the image of them all showing up to the debates in the same small, brightly-colored car.

Swing away, Mister President. By all means, swing away.

pH 9.19.11

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Checking In (Before Checking Out)

Now that the debt ceiling mess is out of the way, we can address the issue of... Well, let's see, football season is under way... You know, I can't think of a thing. For good or otherwise, I have seriously lost my passion for the political fights anymore.

Maybe it's because I'm back in the Big Mitten, Michigan. I feel safer here. It's a blue state, a union state, a place that has water you can drink and air you can breathe. Very different.

It's also a socially progressive state, despite the presence of a Republican governor and a legislature dominated by some of the smaller fish to be found in the GOP's hatchery ponds. I don't feel the need to respond so much as I used to when I lived in a Red state - Arizona, where Democratic congresswomen are shot through the head every once in a great while; thank God and everyone else, Gabrielle Giffords cast her vote as the debt ceiling bill passed in the House. Amazing.

Up here, things are a little different. Medical marijuana, for all the public spasms of certain public officials, is a fact of life now. Care providers are growing some glossy magazine cover material, and patients with medical cards are smoking marijuana, legally, in their homes. See? Progress. Takes a long time, but there it is.

It's not just a Michigan thing. Voters in Arizona, too, passed a medical marijuana law. That state, however, is doing everything it can to not implement the law's provisions, or to do so as inefficiently as possible (everybody's got to have goals, I guess). Then there's the issue of gay marriage. They're doing it in New York now; it's not just a Massachusetts thing.

All across the land, "liberalism" is continuing its inexorable march, as it has since the Dark Ages, through the Enlightenment, and the Renaissance, and the Victorian era. The natural desire for the expansion of human rights, the push for an end to exclusion, has seen civilization evolve through lethal, oppressive historical warts such as imperialism, fascism, communism... Mmmm.


Regardless of whether or not such Beck-esque comparisons are accurate, or even necessary, social conservatives continue to do nothing but hold back our society (it is, after all, the dictionary definition of their movement). The next battle they win in the hearts and minds of the majority of the American public will comprise their first one, because they've basically been wrong about everything, and clearly aren't looking to make any dramatic course corrections anytime soon.

In the process of being obtuse and obstinate, they've aligned themselves with the Top One Percent that has been hoarding the fat of the economy for over 30 years now when it comes to profits, CEO-to-employee pay ratios and, let's face it, wages against inflation. All while essential human needs like housing, health care, food and energy have become the playthings of billionaires. Declaring oneself a conservative these days is nothing about which any sane person can take any measure of pride.

They just proved that when they put a gun to the head of the world economy in the name of "princibbles" that have been whipped up by wealthy profiteers and the smear-merchants who work for them, punching the daily time clock, settling their rich, fat arses into comfortable chairs, perching like the parrots that they are in front of their cameras and microphones.

Really, though, it's not my problem. Or at least it doesn't feel that way anymore. I'm out. It's summertime, as they say, and the living's easy.

pH 8.o3.11

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Boehner of Our Existence

(The following is published against the best advice of Napoleon Bonaparte: "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.")

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) gave a speech on Monday, May 9th, 2011 before the Economic Club of New York, in which it appears that his will and his sanity have crumbled before the Joshua-like trumpets of the Tea Party:

"It's true that allowing America to default would be irresponsible," he said in reference to the upcoming House vote to raise the ceiling on our national debt, "But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt limit without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and to reform the budget process."

No, invading and occupying a country that posed no threat to our national security would be "irresponsible". If the debt ceiling isn't hoisted up in time, and the U.S. defaults on its credit obligations, it would be financially even worse than that (which is obviously hard to fathom).

"If America were to default," says Roger Altman, a former Treasury official under President Clinton, "even for 24 hours, that would have an unprecedented and a catastrophic impact on global financial markets and on American markets." Yup. It would.

Does anybody wonder where Speaker Boehner's outrage about spending was during the previous administration? Those books didn't seem to cause so much panic without the funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan included in the bottom line. Funding these conflicts through separate (ahem) spending bills that were excluded from the regular budget maintained deficits that were only in the half-a-trillion-a-year range. This was perfectly acceptable to conservative lawmakers and voters alike.

What's changed, then? Some say it was the alarming influence of the Tea Partiers, comprised largely of little old people who don't want to ever see their taxes go up (although they're happy to cash their inflated Social Security checks whenever they get a bump). They see President Obama as one whose policies will increase their share of the burdens that we all, as Americans, face.

Never mind that they wouldn't be the targets of the Democrats in that regard, even if the average tea-bagger is either already on Medicare or coming in for a landing. And while Boehner lip-synced a few sentences about reducing Medicare, he also said (as he always does, probably even when saying Grace), "Tax hikes should be off the table."

Those who are now so eager to slash spending are beginning to notice that the same old folks who are bull-horning about the deficit are actually the ones who benefit the most from government spending - excluding, of course, defense contractors. These sacred (consider that a typo if you must) cows can only dodge the meat axe for so long.

Republicans in office have to appeal to those same Margin of Error voters even as they take aim at their entitlements, so they'll propose trillions of dollars in cuts knowing that the Democrats in the Senate would never let such a deal reach the Oval Office, shielding Obama from having his veto signature attached to a government default. Whichever way the ball bounces, they figure they'll have something to hang on the liberals.

However, in playing chicken with the debt ceiling, the GOP has spooked an even more important constituency of theirs: Big Business. The U.S. going into default would upset the apple cart on a global scale, and these captains of industry are still bailing out their yachts from the last financial disaster (see Bush). Although they are fewer in number, the CEO-set whose signatures adorn so many checks to the Republican Party have a little more clout than a bunch of suddenly-wannabe-patriots rallying on government property - in the warmer months - and a hell of a lot more to lose.

The Republicans chose this devil's dance, and they are poised to find out exactly what happens after violating one of humanity's oldest social norms... The one about not biting the hand that feeds you.

pH 5.1o.11

Friday, April 15, 2011

Anozira: Birther of a Nation

Arizona just can't leave well enough alone. First came SB 1o7o, their attempt to create their own foreign policy where immigration is concerned. The federal courts had to intervene and restore some sanity to the misguided and misdirected law.

Next up in court will be the Grand Canyon State's new and improved interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which has only been on the books for about 150 years now. They say that they know, they just know, that when the 14th Amendment says that those who are born on U.S. soil are U.S. citizens that it doesn't really mean it. It means... something else if one or both of a baby's parents are in the U.S. illegally when said baby is born. It means that a naked infant, having committed such a heinous crime in his or her first few moments of life (which begins whenever Arizona says it does), is denied U.S. citizenship, damn the torpedoes and the U.S. Constitution.

Arizona welcomes, these conservatives say, a court challenge to this bill, similar to the court challenge that immediately came down on SB 1070. Even though they lost that one.

The regressive apes who have controlled Arizona's laws and purse strings for far too long have now gone the extra mile in making themselves look idiotic. They've officially joined the "Birther Movement" by passing a law saying that President Barack Obama - or (ahem) any other presidential candidate - must prove his citizenship, or else Arizona won't put their names on the ballot.

All that's left is for Governor Jan Brewer to sign this official act of quackery into law - and she's done worse during her time in office, so there's no reason to think she won't. After all, Arizona's "no permit required" law allowed Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords's assailant to legally walk right up to her with a gun under his shirt. A scant seven weeks after that atrocity, in which 6 people lost their lives and Giffords was shot through the brain, the Arizona legislature passed a bill - figuratively, I'm assuming - that allows students to carry firearms on college campuses. Very educated.

As an expatriate Arizonan (still using that license plate), I look at all this through the grainy prism of personal experience. To my way of thinking, this Birther Bill comprises a third strike against the state of Arizona. SB 1070 was an act of secession - a throwing off of Constitutional law. Ditto for the bill denying 14th Amendment rights to Americans who have the bad luck to be born in Arizona. Now, refusing to put the incumbent president's name on the ballot, denying millions of Americans the right to vote for the candidate of their choice in a federal election?

Strike Three, Arizona. You're out.

The confederate cabal of legislators who make the laws in Arizona do not respect our Constitution. They have passed law after law that runs directly afoul of it. These are outright acts of secession, several of them in a row, in fact. Should the United States of America wait for Arizona to start lobbing shells at Fort Huachuca? Or should they get out the map and the scissors?

Because of its treachery, the state of Arizona should be either (A) dissolved, with its lands and its debts divided up among its contiguous neighbor-states and Mexico or (B) simply spun off to exist on its own. I personally favor 'B' because New Mexico, California, Nevada and Utah should not have to bear the burden of dealing with those people, and Mexico has enough problems already with Arizona gun hawks whose sales are fueling a narco-civil war south of the border.

Simply put, Arizona should be left to fend for itself, because that's what it wants. That's what it should get. If the state can fund and operate the Grand Canyon, let it do so (fat chance, since most of the state parks have been defunded by the Republicans in power). If they think they can get by without Colorado River water, they should be allowed to try. Or electricity from the Hoover Dam. Or federal highway money. Or military bases. Their people should have to carry passports if they want to get back into the United States.

Membership in this Union is a privilege, not a right. Puerto Rico can replace Arizona as the 5oth State so we wouldn't have to spend the money on new flags.

Of course, John McCain (who was born in Panama, don't you know) will feel entitled to be the de facto president of the new nation called Arizona. Actually, they should be forced to change their name to Anozira instead. It would make perfect sense for a place in which everything else is so amazingly backward.

pH 4.15.11

Monday, February 7, 2011

Postcard From Home

Hey, Arizona, remember what I said? You're too dumb - statistically speaking - to fathom how far I went to get away from you, and I'm glad I did. You're a Red state, a Christian Conservative state, a Confederate state that believes in Ronald Reagan's rugged individualism and whatnot. So you'll understand when I explain it to you in the most Biblical of terms:

Be content with your lot. You asked for it. I don't begrudge you it. And I hope (actually, I know) that you'll choke on it.

To the good people in Flagstaff and much of Tucson, bastions of sanity in an otherwise bedlam-racked place, I say good luck. Fight the good fight for as long as you can, until you come to (your senses) the same conclusion I came to. And then leave. It's the best thing, the only thing, you can do. Pick up your skills and your earning potential and your good intentions and bring them to places where they will be appreciated. Where others will benefit from them. Where they can make a difference.

Just leave, like the Anasazi did almost a thousand years ago. Leave behind the state of Russell Pearce and Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio and Ben Quayle and Jon Kyl and your other Senator there, the senile guy who graduated 5th from the bottom of his class in Navy pilot school, the guy who got his pasty old ass whalloped in the last presidential election - what was that loser's name? McPalin? Something like that? You know, the confused crustacean who's been giving Barry Goldwater's senate seat a bad name for the last twenty-odd years? That one.

Say goodbye to him and all the other low-life conservatives who make their living demonizing immigrants. Those would be the same immigrants who serve the agriculture and hospitality industries from whom the Republicans take campaign contributions, to the tune of millions of dollars, year after year. Say goodbye to all of them, and to those beautiful red sunsets, too...

I'll let you in on a little secret, although I suspect you already know: It's the smog, not God, that makes those Arizona sunsets so blushingly beautiful. Kiss her goodbye because she doesn't really exist. I speak from experience: The only parts you'll really miss are immovable, inanimate objects: Mountains, canyons, saguaro, the sky. Don't worry. They won't miss you, not one bit.

Trust me. In a hundred years, it'll be like you were never there at all.

pH 2.o7.11

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Absolutely Senseless. Business as Usual.

Twenty minues ago it was reported that Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (8th district) has been shot in the head at a Safeway store in Tucson where she was conducting a constituency meeting. Eighteen people were shot and six have been killed in the indiscriminate attack, one a federal judge, another one of Ms. Giffords' staff members. The most horrific fatality was that of a nine-year old girl.

Ms. Giffords has survived surgery and is in ICU at Northwest Medical Center in Tucson at this time, despite earlier reports that she had already died.

Gabrielle Giffords? What did she ever do to anyone except try to provide them health care? Or affordable housing? Or food stamps? Or unemployment benefits? Or a tax credit to trade in their old car, or another tax credit for buying your first home?

Whether or not this was a politically motivated shooting, that doesn't matter to Congresswoman Giffords or her family. It doesn't change the fact that this is symptomatic of another problem altogether, an infection in my chosen State. It isn't getting any better. It isn't going to change. It isn't going away.

I used to think it was just crazy here. Now I understand that it is, in fact, just an evil place. A beautiful, terrible place. And I want nothing more to do with it.

Bonam Fortunam, Gabrielle Giffords. You were cut down in the midst of doing the right thing, trying to make Arizona and the United States a place in which I could proudly say I live. I join so many others in praying for you and your loved ones.

Good bye, Arizona. I'm so done with you.

pH 1.o8.11