Supreme Fools

March 26, 2016

Mitch McConnell is nothing if not a consistent fool. Make that a supreme fool. Before President Obama ever entered the White House, he publicly stated that his job (and the job of all GOP Senators) was to make sure that Obama was a one-term president. He then initiated the most obstructionist campaign against any president in history. It became so absurd that Republicans in both houses of Congress opposed the president’s initiatives that they had previously supported. It got so bad that the American Psychological Association is considering a new diagnosis of “Obama Derangement Syndrome” or what we call “black-tracking” (rejecting their own ideas whenever Obama supports it).

Perhaps the best example of black-tracking is to not even consider the current nominee for the Supreme Court. In one of the best “in your face” political dunks of all time, President Obama nominated someone that Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) only one week earlier cited by name as a man who would easily pass unanimously if only the president would be reasonable enough to nominate him. It clearly showed the willingness of Republicans to put party before the welfare of the country, leaving a Supreme Court seriously impaired for over a year, maybe a year and a half by the time the next president nominates and the Senate confirms.

All the obstructionism Mitch McConnell and his deranged GOP Congress has accomplished up to now is to hurt the country by failing to do much-needed legislation and making the institution of Congress the most derided and least respected in history. Then again, he and his cronies may have accomplished something else. By trying to destroy the Obama Presidency, he may have destroyed his own party. The obstructionism and rhetoric of the GOP leadership has spawned the two front running candidates for their party based on platforms of rejecting their leadership. The reality is that Congress stopped serving the needs of the country shortly after the Citizens United ruling codified the creation of the “donor class” and permanent dysfunction of government.

Bergdahl and the Real Threat to Americans

June 18, 2014

Jon Stewart got it exactly right with his Daily Show routine on the conservative media mania over the Bergdahl exchange with Taliban leaders from Gitmo. He called it “Home is Where the Hate Is” encapsulating the hatred being expressed toward Sgt. Bergdahl and President Obama.

We’ve talked before about my feelings about Bergdahl (we don’t leave troops behind and we don’t convict people without a trial – well we aren’t supposed to), but let’s reflect for a moment on the men who were exchanged for his return. None of the men released has ever been associated with attacking the United States. The chief prosecutor of Gitmo detainees has said they weren’t even on his radar (in contrast, the driver of bin Laden was tried and convicted even though he never participated in any attack anywhere).

They were leaders of the Taliban who were Afghans fighting in Afghanistan, which makes them enemy combatants, not terrorists. They were bad guys no doubt, and I have no doubt there is a drone with their names on it, but no more evil than the hundreds of Vietnamese exchanged for our POWs, or any other enemy combatant in every war we have ever fought.

In contrast to these Taliban leaders who never attacked the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been documenting dozens of terrorist attacks on American soil from right wing groups. The most recent was the attack was the slaughter of police in Las Vegas by two white supremacists.

In fact, in the time that these Taliban leaders have been imprisoned in Gitmo since Bergdahl’s capture there have been no attacks on America by Taliban and at least 35 deaths of Americans by American right wing terrorists. If the chicken hawks in Congress were really concerned about our national security, then they would be going after right wing extremists.

I would be a lot more worried about the right winger next door than a Taliban in a cave 8,000 miles away. 

Justice and Justices

March 13, 2014

There is a minor rebellion brewing in the Democratic Party over judges nominated for lifetime appointments to the federal courts. At first glance you would have to scratch your head over the nomination of Michael Boggs, a man with as despicable a history on civil rights as any Jim Crow era politician. This is Obama’s nominee? The constitutional law attorney, an African-American? That’s the best he can do? 

The fact is that he is one of four GOP nominees that Obama has had to accept in order to gain approval of numerous other nominees immorally (if not illegally) being held up by the GOP. It’s a devil’s bargain that should be resisted, even if it does mean that a crisis in the federal system results. Maybe I am becoming a nihilist, but it might be better to have no judges than prejudiced ones. It might be better to let the system break down in crisis than to compromise justice. The legislative branch is all but broken now, and the cancer that is the Tea Party conservative movement is metastasizing into the courts. Maybe it’s time to draw a line, and justice is a good place to start.    


State of the Union

January 28, 2014

When President Obama delivers his fifth State of the Union address he is reported to be emphasizing the problem of economic injustice. At first glance, this would seem to be a good thing, since the extraordinary re-distribution of wealth to the top 1% has only accelerated in the past 4 years, and the ability of Americans to improve their financial situation has significantly declined.

I say “at first glance” because without a radical change of policy the Obama Administration will only continue to accelerate these trends. Maybe some of you remember Jim DeMint’s infamous “you lie” outburst during the first State of the Union address by Obama? Maybe it should have been held in reserve for this one. Let me explain why …

The fact is that 95% of the benefits of the “Obama Recovery” have gone to only the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans. The fact is that during the same Administration that has prosecuted more whistle-blowers than all other Presidents combined, prosecutions of white collar crime has virtually stopped. Journalists, Congress, academics … all agree that illegal activity by Wall Street bankers has escalated since the taxpayer bailouts, illegal activity that has robbed the taxpayers of countless billions SINCE the bailout. I think we all understand now that Congress has been beholden to Wall St. and billionaire donors for years, but “say it ain’t so Barak”! 

A few years back, March 27, 2009 to be exact, President Obama held a meeting with the Lords of Wall St. at the White House.  During that meeting he reportedly cut a deal to not criminally prosecute any of the bankers for the massive fraud that had nearly destroyed the economy. At the time, the President denied this leak, but facts speak for themselves. Prosecutions of white collar crimes has reached an all time low under the Obama Justice Department, even as more and more evidence of white collar crime is being unearthed. 

Many of the rich and their hired apologists in government and the media accuse economic justice advocates of simply being envious of the rich and desirous of a something for nothing society. The fact is that much of what has caused such an unjust distribution of wealth has been a rigged tax code and illegal activity by banks “too big to fail”. We simply want a fair playing field.

When President Obama talks about the need to “protect the middle class” and to “restore the ability of Americans to improve their financial opportunities”, realize that his policies have been designed by Wall St. to protect Wall St. and not our own well being.  Without a radical reversal of his own policies, it would be a false promise (a lie).    


Monday Moanin’

August 25, 2008

It was 40 years ago this week that kids were getting their asses kicked by Mayor Daley & the Chicago police at the DNC for trying to stop a war. Déjà vu all over again… Except this time we are being beaten down by focus groups, excuses and Fox News.

As a former Democratic Party candidate for Governor of Michigan I am often asked questions about politics and the Democratic Party in particular. Running for Governor was the very first time I ever ran for any political office and while I won the nomination by defeating two establishment Democrats, I couldn’t beat the Democratic Establishment. Obama is an establishment candidate, which explains how he can be in a dead heat with McCain. As Will Rogers once said “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat. So as the Democratic Convention begins this week, this is what I wish the Democrats would say at some point:

Obama has been criticized for saying that as President he would talk with our adversaries under the right conditions and use diplomacy to avoid conflicts. What is McCain’s foreign policy? Dancing around on stage singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran.” to the Beach Boys tune of “Barbara Ann”?

Obama has been criticized for not being “American” enough, but he was raised by a single mom, lived with his grandparents, attended Public Schools, paid for his education with loans, has been married to the same woman, chose to help his community rather than go to Wall Street and has never been involved in any political scandals. McCain was raised in privilege, attended private schools, left his first wife and children and do we really need to talk about the “Keating Five”?

Obama has been criticized for being “elitist” and not understanding the situation of working class Americans. McCain believes the economy has made great progress and that the definition of rich is being worth $5 million or more.

Obama has been criticized for not approving of off-shore drilling to help ease the energy crisis. McCain helped create the energy crisis by supporting the Bush plan of allowing the oil industry to create our policy in secret. The same advisors who created the Bush plan are now advising McCain.

Obama has been criticized for being naïve about foreign policy because he would rely on diplomacy. McCain confuses the difference between Shia and Sunni, believes Afghanistan borders Iraq, Czechoslovakia still exists… well, this could go on for a while.

Obama has been criticized for not going to Iraq as often as McCain to talk to the “boots on the ground”. McCain stages a walk through an Iraqi market to show its safe, shakes hands with wounded soldiers on camera and votes against giving them increased V.A. benefits.

In other words, attack, attack, attack. Forget the focus-group crafted “end the war, rebuild the economy and energy independence”, which I am sure we will hear until we are sick. Democrats seem to be better at attacking each other than defending the working class or defending themselves from the Republican sleaze machine. One thing I have learned is that if you want to take on a bully, you have to go right at him. This how you win in the courtroom and how you win in politics.