Tag Archives: Obama

Why My Head is in The NBA…

Bballbannerbanner201obama18-950x594I have to admit that after the exhausting, exhilarating and ultimately victorious contest that was the hotly contested 2012 Presidential Election. I’m taking a breather from politics to immerse myself in the NBA Basketball season.

Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel at thThough I’m paying close attention to the Papal Conclave, the Sequester melodrama, Rand Paul’s drone strike filibuster, the Chuck Hagel affair, Paul Ryan’s continuing budgetary impudence — and everything else that Lawrence O’Donnell is covering on MSNBC — the fact is, I don’t have much disposable time.

Between my day-to-day work in television, writing The New Vic & Paul Show with my hilarious wife, the imminent graduations of my two younger daughters (Eva from Louisville High School in May and Emilia from Northwestern University in June) — and trying to develop some new TV shows to pay for it all, I have scant time for recreation and vicarious emotional release.

That’s where the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers fill the bill.

Let’s be clear. I am not a front-runner. Never have been.

Austin_carr_top_000As a Cleveland native and Cavaliers fan since the days of Austin Carr in the Cleveland Arena during my grade school years, I was nonetheless completely supportive of LeBron James’ move to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat.

After seven years of servitude under an owner who surrounded The King with nothing better than Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, LeBron had a right to pursue a championship in Miami.

So, in the East, I am rooting for LeBron James and The Heat.

In the West, my preferences are just as personal and idiosyncratic.

Michael JordanAfter spending my post-Northwestern University, early adulthood in Chicago in the 1980’s, I was a Michael Jordan and Bulls fan who had just moved to Los Angeles in 1991 — when Air Jordan and the Bulls defeated The “Showtime” Lakers for the first of six NBA titles. If I had any money at all that June, I could have made a mint betting against all the overconfident Lakers fans I watched those NBA finals with.

f256fb37612dd205421094a3ce4251bcDespite living in Los Angeles, I was never really a Lakers fan. I loved former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson – and I hated Bulls owner Reinsdorf and his General Manager, Jerry “players don’t win championships, organizations do” Krause. But while I celebrated The Zen Master’s success with The Lakers, I could never embrace Kobe Bryant, despite his incandescent talent.

elton-brand-02So, like Billy Crystal, I turned my attention to the underdog Los Angeles Clippers. I enjoyed the rise of The Clippers during the Elton Brand/Chris Kaman era – but, in the past two years, my devotion to The Clippers has been repaid with interest.

chris-paul-blake-griffinThis year, The Clippers have been the greatest show in the NBA. “Lob City” has been a nonstop showcase of team play, dazzling, high-flying dunks, aggressive, larcenous defense – and the deepest bench in the NBA. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan – and super subs Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe have raised expectations for what The Clippers can do in the NBA playoffs.

So, whoever gets elected Pope – and whatever those a*#holes in the GOP do to President Barack Obama’s agenda – I’ll be rooting for a Miami Heat versus Los Angeles Clippers NBA Final.deandre-jordan-alleyoop-dunk-over-pistons

After that, I’ll get back to what really matters.

But, boy oh boy – would I love to see LeBron James go one-on-one with Paul Ryan…

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Why is Jonah Goldberg Featured in a Great American Newspaper?

goldgerg1originalHow does someone get to be a political pundit? How does someone become a political TV talking head? How does someone end up an opinion page columnist for The Los Angeles Times?

s-JONAH-GOLDBERG-largeRight wing tool Jonah Goldberg has managed to achieve that mass media trifecta. And, in Jonah’s woeful case, his advancement is a victory of nepotism and narrow thinking over intellectual capacity, wisdom and common sense.

Goldberg has somehow become a nationally syndicated political columnist and frequent TV pundit without ever having entertained a serious thought in his lead-lined head. But before we delve into the shallow and flimsy foolishness of his most recent LA Times column — let’s examine how young Jonah rose to his lofty, loony professional position.

Baby Jonah was born in March of 1969 – a year after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and the onslaught the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Whatever young Jonah learned about the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960’s he must have read about many years after those epochal events. And his perspective had to have been colored by his mommy, Lucianne Goldberg.

Yikes.

Portrait of Pussycat League Cofounders

Jonah’s mom is the blonde.

Long before she became infamous for promoting the Monica Lewinsky scandal, publisher Lucianne Goldberg was already up to no good. Her son Jonah was just a one-year old baby when Lucianne co-founded the “Pussycat League” – an organization dedicated to opposing the women’s liberation movement. Jonah turned three during the 1972 presidential campaign while his Machiavellian mom was covering George McGovern’s candidacy as a reporter for the Women’s News Service. Problem was, Lucianne was on leave of absence from the Women’s News Service at the time. (Maternity leave?)

tripp3a_111298ftwpLater, it was revealed that she was being paid to spy on McGovern and those traveling with him.

Right wing toolery and questionable journalism are literally mother’s milk to Jonah Goldberg.

jonah_goldberg_cover_Page_1_Image_0001.380Soon after Jonah graduated from college in 1991, his mom’s creepy right wing bonafides helped him land into a gig at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He joined National Review as a contributing editor in 1998 and was asked to launch National Review Online. In an intellectually vacant universe dominated by know-nothing blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity — a college-boy, think-tank nerd like Jonah won a reputation as a deep thinker. Much like Paul Ryan (remember him?) was considered a “serious” thinker with respect to the nation’s budget and debt.

And now, Jonah regularly appears on The Los Angeles Times opinion page. What he writes is usually shallow, ill-considered, conservative dogmatic drivel. His column this week is a case in point.

Here’s Golberg’s latest column in The Los Angeles Times, along with my commentary IN BOLD CAPS:

Goldberg: Soldier Girl Blues

The decision to allow women in combat hasn’t stifled the debate.

By Jonah Goldberg — January 29, 2013

What if, during the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney had accused President Obama of wanting to let servicewomen serve in combat? After all, Obama had hinted as much in 2008. What would Obama’s response have been?

0_22_450_033109_han_jonahHERE WE GO — JONAH STARTS RIGHT OFF BY SETTING UP A STRAW MAN. MITT ROMNEY DIDN’T ACCUSE PRESIDENT OBAMA OF WANTING TO LET WOMEN SERVE IN COMBAT – IT WASN’T EVEN AN ISSUE IN THE 2012 ELECTION. BUT, OH MY, WHAT IF HE DID? (LET’S JUST IGNORE THE FACT THAT JOURNALISTIC JONAH DOESN’T BOTHER TO CITE OBAMA’S 2008 “HINT” ABOUT WOMEN IN COMBAT. WE’LL JUST TAKE HIS WEASEL WORD FOR IT.)

My hunch is that he would have accused Romney of practicing the “politics of division” or some such and denied it.

DownloadedFileBOOM! OUCH! JONAH LOWERS THE BOOM! HE GUESSES THAT IF ROMNEY HAD MADE AN ACCUSATION THAT HE ACTUALLY DIDN’T MAKE IN REAL LIFE – THEN OBAMA WOULD HAVE REPLIED IN A WAY THAT JONAH SIMPLY IMAGINES HE WOULD RESPOND. AND JONAH DOESN’T APPROVE! DID IT OCCUR TO JONAH THAT’S HE’S HAVING A FANTASY DEBATE WITH HIMSELF?

In any case, wouldn’t an open debate have been better than putting women into combat by fiat?

130125-women-in-combat-stay-classy-conservativesOH PLEASE, JONAH! DO YOU REALLY THINK OBAMA WAS THE GUY WHO “PUT WOMEN INTO COMBAT?” DIDN’T BUSH AND CHENEY ALREADY DO THAT? HAVE YOU READ THE HISTORY OF THE WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, JONAH? HOW MANY WOMEN HAVE BEEN KILLED IN COMBAT ALREADY? THERE ARE NO FRONT LINES IN THESE WARS AND MANY A FEMALE GI HAS ALREADY COME HOME IN A BODY BAG. WOMEN JUST DON’T GET COMBAT PAY – AND THEY DON’T GET THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT THAT COME WITH COMBAT EXPERIENCE.

You’d think the folks who are always clamoring for a “national conversation” on this, that and the other thing would prefer to make a sweeping change after, you know, a national conversation.

Instead, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the change on his way out. And Panetta has been lionized even though it wasn’t really his decision to make. If the president didn’t want this to happen, it wouldn’t happen. Perhaps Obama let Panetta run with the idea, just in case it turned out to be a political fiasco.

images-1THIS IS A LOT OF ILL-INFORMED, WHOLE CLOTH CONJECTURE ON JONAH’S PART: TWO PARAGRAPHS OF COMPLETE NON-JOURNALISM. DID CUB REPORTER JONAH EVER TALK TO SECRETARY PANETTA – OR EVEN AN UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE (SPEAKING OFF THE RECORD IN THE SHADOWS OF A WASHINGTON PARKING GARAGE) — ABOUT HOW THIS DECISION WAS MADE? OR DID JONAH SIMPLY YANK ALL OF THIS SUPPOSITION OUT OF HIS RIGHT WING RECTUM?

The good news for Obama is that it hasn’t been. Absent any informed debate, polls support the idea.

130123223824-women-marines-afghanistan-story-topOHIGOD! A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT GENDER EQUALITY IN THE U.S MILITARY! HOW SHOCKING! I’M SORRY JONAH DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO MODERATE “ANY INFORMED DEBATE” ON THE ISSUE. IF JONAH HAD BEEN THE NATIONAL DEBATE MODERATOR, WOULD THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HAVE REJECTED THE IDEA THAT WOMEN SHOULD SERVE IN COMBAT? I DOUBT JONAH’S POWER TO MOVE THE MATION’S CONSCIENCE. (SEE, I CAN RAISE STRAW MEN, TOO! IT’S EASY. I SIMPLY IMAGINE JONAH DOING SOMETHING – AND THEN I CAN CRITICIZE HIS ABILITY TO DO THE THING I IMAGINED HIM DOING!)

Indeed, the Republican Party has been shockingly restrained in even questioning what is a vastly bigger deal than the lifting of the half-ban on gays in the military — “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The mainstream media have celebrated the milestone and largely yawned at the skeptics.

Most lacking from the coverage is any attempt to explain how this will make combat units better at combat. Instead, we’re told that gender integration is necessary because without combat experience, it’s hard for women to get promoted.

women_military_cc_imgHERE, JONAH STARTS TO GET IN OVER HIS HEAD. HE WANTS TO APPEAR FAIR AND REASONABLE – BUT HIS PREDJUDICE IS CLEAR AND INESCAPABLE. IN THE NEXT FEW PASSAGES, HE STARTS TO SOUND A LOT LIKE THE INTOLERANT MORONS WHO ARGUED AGAINST BLACK SOLDIERS SERVING ALONGSIDE WHITE SOLDIERS IN COMBAT.

Lifting that glass ceiling is an understandable, even lofty desire. But what does it have to do with making the military better at fighting?

111YAWN. ANOTHER CODDLED, SILVER SPOON CONSERVATIVE CHICKEN HAWK SHARES WITH US HIS INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THE MILITARY WORKS. JONAH EVEN KNOWS MORE THAN A FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER.

My point isn’t that women should be kept out of all combat roles. Indeed, as many supporters of the move are quick to point out, women are already getting shot at. “In our male-centric viewpoint, we want to keep women from harm’s way,” Ric Epps a former Air Force intelligence officer who teaches political science, told this newspaper. “But … modern warfare has changed. There are no true front lines; the danger is everywhere, and women have already been there in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

True enough. But does anyone believe such changes are permanent? Will we never again have front lines? Or are the generals simply fighting the last war and projecting that experience out into the future?

Women In CombatIS JONAH SERIOULSLY CONJECTURING THAT THE WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ARE OUTLIERS – AND THAT, IN THE FUTURE, WE’LL RETURN TO WARS WHERE THE FRONT LINES ARE CLEAR AND WELL-DEFINED? SINCE JONAH IS SO GOOD AT IMAGINING — WHAT WARS DOES HE IMAGINE. OUR BIG, SET PIECE WAR WITH CHINA? IS HE DREAMING OF OUR INVASION OF NORTH KOREA? OR IS HE CONTEMPLATING OUR INVASION OF IRAN — WHICH, OF COURSE, UNLIKE IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN, WOULD HAVE CLEAR FRONT LINES, RIGHT? HAS JONAH EVER HEARD OF ASYMETRICAL WARFARE? GUERILLA WAR? INSURGENCY? OR IS HE STILL WISTFULLY WATCHING “SANDS OF IWO JIMA” AND “THE LONGEST DAY”?

Heck, if we’ll never have wars between standing armies again, we can really afford to cut the defense budget. Something tells me that’s not the conclusion the Pentagon wants us to draw.

toy-soldiersOH, GOOD LORD. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TELL JONAH TO PUT HIS TOY SOLDIERS BACK IN THE BOX AND CRACK A BOOK ON MILITARY HISTORY? EVEN WARS BETWEEN STANDING ARMIES CAN DEGRADE INTO GUERILLA WAR AND INSURGENCY. SADDAM HUSSIEN HAD A STANDING ARMY IN IRAQ, REMEMBER? THEY JUST DIDN’T STAND VERY LONG AGAINST OUR INVASION. INSTEAD, THEY MELTED AWAY TO FIGHT IN CRAFTIER WAYS: TO DO THINGS LIKE BOMB AMERICAN MESS HALLS IN THE GREEN ZONE.

AND BTW, JONAH – YOU AND I BOTH KNOW THAT, GIVEN THE CLOUT OF THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX – WE COULD HAVE NO ENEMIES AND FACE THE PROSPECT OF ETERNAL PEACE – AND WE STILL WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCE THE PENTAGON BUDGET.

AR-710229995.jpg&maxw=350&title=1I CAN’T STAND ANYMORE OF GOLDBERG’S COLUMN, SO I’LL CUT TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH…

Obama’s decision hasn’t stifled the debate, it’s merely postponed it until the day Americans see large numbers of women coming home in body bags too.

WE’VE SEEN FEMALE SOLDIERS IN BODY BAGS ALREADY, JONAH. THAT’S WHY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND SECRETARY PANETTA ARE CHANGING THE POLICY – AND ACKNOWLEDGING THAT WOMEN ARE ALEADY SERVING IN COMBAT.

PLEASE, LOS ANGELES TIMES, CAN’T YOU JUST RUN ANOTHER FUNNY POLITICAL CARTOON IN PLACE OF THE BRAYING, BANAL WORK OF THIS HAREBRAINED HACK?

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Banal & Bankrupt Notions from the Squishy & Feckless Political Center: An Examination of the Weak, Useless, and (perhaps) Willfully Naive Thinking of Columnist Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times.

doylebanner 1Barack Obama Sworn In As U.S. President For A Second TermWithin days of President Barack Obama’s triumphant and stirring Second Inaugural Address, we were treated to a seemingly profound and thoughtful newspaper column by Los Angeles Times opinion writer, Doyle McManus, who gave us his sage and pointedly disappointed observations on the tone of Obama’s speech. Deeply serious Mr. McManus thought President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address should have struck a less partisan attitude. But who the hell is Doyle McManus? What is he thinking? Why is he such a naïve, right of center, post-partisan fetishist? And why should we just ignore what he writes?

6a00d8341c7de353ef0133f5907330970b-320wiDoyle McManus is a son of privilege. Born in 1952, the son of a San Francisco advertising executive, he graduated from Stanford University. A Fulbright scholar, Doyle attended the University of Brussels before joining The Los Angeles Times in 1978. Thirty years later The Tribune Company made him a columnist. Mr. McManus is an accomplished journalist — he’s covered every presidential election since 1984 — but he’s managed to keep his rose colored classes perched on the bridge of his centrist nose.

And his opinion of President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address is a gob of lukewarm spit.

Here’s middling, piddling, pusillanimous Doyle’s opinion column in The Los Angeles Times, along with my commentary IN BOLD CAPS:

Obama’s reach wasn’t long enough

By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

On the eve of Inauguration Day, White House political strategist David Plouffe promised that President Barack Obama’s inaugural address would include a call for bipartisan cooperation.

“He is going to say that our political system does not require us to resolve all of our differences or settle all of our disputes, but it is absolutely imperative that our leaders try and seek common ground,” Plouffe said on ABC.

But it was hard to find that outstretched hand in the inaugural speech Obama gave Monday.

mitch-mcconnell-make-obama-one-term-presidentREALLY, MR. DOYLE? DID YOU REALLY EXPECT THAT, AFTER REPUBLICAN SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL GREETED OBAMA’S FIRST INAUGURAL BIPARTISAN OVERTURE WITH A CLEARLY STATED DETERMINATION TO MAKE PRESIDENT OBAMA “A ONE TERM PRESIDENT”, THAT OBAMA WOULD STRETCH OUT HIS HAND TO HAVE IT BITTEN AGAIN?

In 19 minutes, Obama delivered an eloquent, powerful and often combative summary of his values as a progressive Democrat who believes that an activist federal government helps make America great.

And if there was any question about how ambitious an agenda Obama intends to pursue in his second term, the answer was clear: He’s going big, not small, just as he did in 2009.

The president listed a daunting series of priorities: a fiscal deal including tax reform, measures to reduce health care costs, a new immigration law, gun control and education reform. He made a point of promising progress on climate change, a priority he seemed to have abandoned during his difficult first term. He added full equality for gay Americans, an item that made its way onto his first-term agenda only through a campaign-year back door.

Obama knows that he will need to win some Republican votes, especially in the House, to accomplish any of those goals. But on Monday he chose to assert his electoral mandate rather than extend an olive branch.

0122-OBAMA-BOEHNER-sized.jpg_full_600AH, YES – THE OLIVE BRANCH! JUST HOW WILL EXTENDING AN OLIVE BRANCH – WHICH McCONNELL AND BOEHNER REJECTED DURING OBAMA’S LAST TERM – GET THESE NEANDERTHAL, TEA PARTY-DRIVEN REPUBLICANS TO MOVE FORWARD ON TAX REFORM, REDUCING HEALTH CARE COSTS, COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION LAW, GUN CONTROL AND EDUCATION REFORM – LET ALONE EQUALITY FOR GAY AMERICANS? ARE YOU SERIOUS, MR. McMANUS?

If there’s a second half of his strategy — a secret plan to help bring some Republicans to “yes” — the president is keeping it well hidden.

Most inaugural speeches are so anodyne — full of airy invocations of national unity and vague calls to greatness — that the words are forgotten by lunchtime. Not this one. It was a progressive’s call to arms.

1358788602_barack-obama-inauguration-speech-467OF COURSE IT WAS. IT WAS A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS – PROGRESSIVES, LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS – WHO ELECTED HIM. AND HE WAS SPEAKING TO US – THE MAJORITY WHO ELECTED HIM AND WANT TO MOVE THE COUNRTY FORWARD. WHY DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU, MR. McMANUS?

“We have always understood that when times change, so must we,” Obama said, “that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges” (are you listening, Tea Party?) and “that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.

“A great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”

And instead of gauzy invocations of common ground, Obama issued a series of surprisingly tart political zingers aimed, not so subtly, at his adversaries.

“Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” he said. “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.

“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

He even took aim at Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, who has derided recipients of federal benefits as “takers” rather than “makers.”

photoAMAZING! OBAMA ACTUALLY RE-STATED THE ARGUMENTS THAT WON HIM RE-ELECTION! MR. McMANUS SEEMS TO BE SHOCKED THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WOULD ACTUALLY EMPHASIZE THE KEYS TO HIS VICTORY: CHAMPIONING THE 99% — AND PROTECTING FDR’S NEW DEAL SOCIAL SAFETY NET.

“The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security … do not make us a nation of takers,” he said.

Ryan, who was on the platform listening, took the high road with a statement that said: “We (have) strong disagreements over the direction of the country. But today we put those disagreements aside. Today we remember what we share in common.”

Privately, though, many Republicans were seething.

AP771916897310_620x350BOO HOO HOO. PAUL RYAN IS SEETHING. CRY ME A RIVER, McMANUS. CAN YOU IMAGINE ANYTHING OBAMA MIGHT HAVE SAID THAT WOULD HAVE PLACATED ANTI-NEW DEAL TEA PARTIERS LIKE RYAN? SPARE ME THEIR CROCODILE TEARS. 

It was a long way from the Barack Obama of 2009, the brash young idealist who promised to change the way Washington worked, seek post-partisan solutions and banish “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long.”

2700349-president-barack-obama-2013-obama-inauguration-650-430IT WAS A LONG WAY FROM THE RELENTLESS PUNCHES THAT OBAMA TOOK IN THE FACE FROM THE GOP AFTER OFFERING AN OLIVE BRANCH IN HIS 2009 SPEECH. WERE YOU THERE, MR. McMANUS? DID YOU MISS PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FIRST ADMINISTRATION? WERE YOU SLEEPING THE PAST FOUR YEARS – AND JUST WOKE UP, IMAGINING YOU’RE IN POLITICAL FANTSASY LAND?

This year, instead of an outstretched hand, he delivered a slap. “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” he said.

Obama has been trying this more pugnacious approach since the November election, and it has undeniably made him more effective — so far. He forced Republicans to back down on income tax rates at the edge of the “fiscal cliff,” and he appears to have forced them to back down again on their threats to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling.

boehner-kelly-clarksonDUH. GETTING TOUGH WITH THESE GOP CLOWNS ACTUALLY WORKS. BECAUSE REPUBLICAN IDEAS ARE MORIBUND – AND THEIR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA IS DETRIMENTAL TO PROGRESS.

It’s impossible to blame any politician, even a president who once promised post-partisan hope and change, for surrendering to reality and doing what works. But it sure isn’t pretty, and, more important, it may not always be effective.

At some point, Obama is likely to need willing collaborators from the opposition — if he hopes to pass an immigration reform law, for example, or negotiate a long-term deal to reduce the deficit.

When that day comes, the president may find himself wishing he had devoted a few more words of his second inaugural address to offering an outstretched hand.

obama-inauguration-elite-dailyREALLY, DOYLE McMANUS? DESPITE ALL HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY, DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE GOP CULTURE WARRIORS AND TAX FETISHISTS WERE GOING TO BE ASSUAGED BY OBAMA SPEAKING A FEW “MORE WORDS” IN THEIR FAVOR?

DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT BOEHNER, RYAN, McCONNEL, RAND PAUL AND THE REST OF THE GOP WILL ACTUALLY RESPOND POSITIVELY TO OBAMA “OFFERING AN OUTSTRECHED HAND”?

IF SO, THEN DOYLE McMANUS — YOU ARE EITHER A COMPLETE FOOL OR SOMETHING MUCH, MUCH WORSE. 

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Home Sweet Swing State.

“And again I say unto you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a Republican to win the Presidency without carrying the great state of Ohio.”

With apologies to Matthew 19:24

Ohio and the American Presidency have a very close relationship. In fact, there have been seven U.S. presidents who were born in the Buckeye State. Topping the list is my personal hero Ulysses S. Grant, followed by Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft and Warren Harding.

In the period after the Civil War, from 1869 to 1923, seven out of the eleven men who won The White House were Ohioans — including three presidents in a row: Grant, Hayes and Garfield, Civil War veterans all.

And one of the four presidents who weren’t from Ohio was named Cleveland!

Of course, presidential politics are fraught with contention on all levels – and that extends to the claim I heard as a Cleveland schoolboy that Ohio was the “Mother of Presidents”.

That rankles Virginians who point out, correctly, that eight Commanders in Chief were born in the Old Dominion. Ohioans counter by claiming an eighth president of their own, William Henry Harrison, who settled in Ohio and lived there until his death. Virginians counter that Harrison didn’t move to Ohio until after his marriage in 1795, when he was about 23 years old. Yielding to Virginia, Ohio now calls itself the “Mother of Modern Presidents”.

Would that all presidential disputes could be solved by the deft insertion of an adjective.

There’s another oft-stated reason for Ohio to claim the title of Mother of Modern Presidents. No Republican presidential nominee has won the White House without carrying Ohio — and no president has been elected without winning in the Buckeye State since Democrat John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Truly, my beloved home state is the mother of all Oval Office bellwethers.

In this election, Ohio is back at the epicenter of presidential politics.

As it was in the 2004 contest, Ohio is shaping up as the lynchpin among the remaining battleground states – where victory in the Electoral College will ultimately be decided.

The 2004 election was a low point for the practice of democracy in Ohio. Aided by a Republican Secretary of State who did all he could to thwart the desire of urban, minority and college voters to cast their ballots – President Bush defeated John Kerry by just 118,775 out of 5,598,679 total votes. A mere 2.1 % margin of victory gave Ohio’s 20 electoral votes to Bush – and with them, a second god-awful term in the White House for Dubya.

I hope that the election in Ohio is not that close on November 6th.

It certainly shouldn’t be.

Given President Obama’s steadfast support for middle class and working people – as exemplified by his courageous decision on the auto bailout – sensible, pragmatic and hard working Ohioans should give Obama their support.

Given President Obama’s support for women’s rights, freedom of choice and equal pay – Ohio women (and the men who love and respect their wives and daughters) should support the man who has been their champion.

I expect that a proud, blue collar state that has seen unemployment rates drop and manufacturing jobs rebound as President Obama pulled our economy out of the deep, dark ditch into which it was plunged by discredited Republican “top-down” economics won’t be fooled again by Romney’s magical plans, false promises, evasions and outright lies.

Please listen, my fellow Ohioans.

Under Romney, the nation’s deficit will no doubt rise — as the rich get richer, the middle class get squeezed, and the poor and disadvantaged among us get thrown under the bus. It’s been that way with GOP presidents since Ronald Reagan blew up the deficit and began the redistribution of America’s wealth to the fat cats at the very top of the economic food chain.

Don’t be fooled, Ohio.

Ohioans love the red, white and blue, and we salute our soldiers with pride and profound gratitude – but Romney never deals with our war veterans unless he’s using them for a photo op.

Romney said that he didn’t mention our warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan – or our returning vets – in his acceptance speech at the GOP convention because, When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word “troops”, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.”

Did you hear that, Ohio?

Mitt Romney doesn’t see the vital difference between the flesh and blood men and women who serve our nation heroically on the battlefield — and the corporate war profiteers who make billions building planes, tanks, ships and expensive weapons systems.

That’s why Romney wants to take our hard-earned tax dollars to plow another two trillion into military spending that the Pentagon hasn’t even asked for. Someone’s going to get rich off Mitt’s extra two trillion – and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that many of those guys are the same military-industrial complex billionaires secretly bankrolling Mitt’s Super-Pacs.

My fellow Buckeyes, Mitt Romney says he should get your vote because he’s a businessman. But why is that? What does being a businessman have to do with running the government?

Is it cost effective for the post office to pick up your Grandma’s mail at the end of a long rural road in the Appalachian mountains of southeastern Ohio? A bottom-line businessman like Romney would conclude that it’s not profitable – but our government is devoted to providing every citizen with postal service, regardless of where they live. That’s the American way.

I could go on and on about this “government should be run like a business” canard. It’s a fallacy. And Ohioans should know better than to listen to such garbage. The job of government is not to turn a profit — but to keep us safe, provide needed services, and promote the general welfare. Mitt Romney has no clue how do get THAT job done. It doesn’t interest him.

Business CEO Romney made his money as a “vulture capitalist”. I didn’t coin that term – Mitt’s Republican competitors did. Mitt and his Bain Capital cronies bought American companies, loaded them up with debt, and “harvested” them by selling off their assets and shipping the jobs overseas.

That’s a formula that made Mitt millions. But it’s not a formula made for Ohio workers.

C’mon, Ohio! Vote for your own interests on November 6th. Vote for your jobs, your homes, your communities, our veterans, your wife, your daughter, your children’s education – and so much more.

Vote for Barack Obama.

And then, we can claim Obama as one of our own. Along with William Henry Harrison, President Obama would be the 9th president from Ohio. We could drop the “Modern” and truly call our state the Mother of Presidents.

Go, Buckeyes! Vote!

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Ken Burns: Obama vs. Romney = Bedford Falls vs. Pottersville.

There have been few times in the three years since I began this blog when I’ve devoted a post entirely to the words of someone else. I feel lazy leaning on the writings of others. But when my friend Ron Crawford sent me this open letter from Ken Burns today – I felt it would be a service to make sure it was read by as many people as possible. Below, the award-winning PBS documentarian nails the stakes in Election 2012 – and the many reasons that President Barak Obama should be re-elected.

Originally published in New Hampshire’s The Union Leader, October 18, 2012.

Why I am voting for Barack Obama

By: KEN BURNS

One of my favorite movies of all time is Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart.

In the film, Stewart’s character, a despondent and near suicidal George Bailey, who runs a small savings and loan in the town of Bedford Falls, is given a gift: the chance to see what his town would be like if he’d never been born — if he’d never extended a helping hand to his neighbors when they needed it most, never helped his community understand how much they depended upon one another.

In this alternative vision, the town’s plutocratic banker, Mr. Potter — without the decent George Bailey to counter him — rules everything. A bottom-line-is-everything, every-man-for-himself mentality runs unchecked, resulting in Bedford Falls’ metamorphosis into “Pottersville,” an amoral, soulless place.

The movie has a happy ending, thank goodness, but its themes endure to this day and echo in the current presidential election, which at its core asks the question: What kind of country are we? Are we Bedford Falls or Pottersville? Are we all in this together — and stronger and better because of it — or are we entirely on our own, with a few “makers” on the top of a heap of “takers?”

I’m supporting President Barack Obama because there is no question about his answer to that question. Having observed Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts, and then watching him in the Republican primaries as he tacked this way and that whenever it suited him (but mostly to the far right, the Tea Party radicals, even the birthers), I can’t be sure of him.

As a student of American history, let me give some perspective. Much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt (one of the subjects of a new documentary series we are working on — if Romney doesn’t get his way and PBS isn’t eliminated), President Obama took office at a time when lax regulation of the financial industry had brought us to the brink of a complete collapse, creating an industry that needed nearly a trillion dollars in President Bush-authorized bailouts. He also inherited two off-the-books wars that had further ballooned our budget deficit, an auto industry on the verge of bankruptcy, and a loss of prestige in the international community.

Like FDR, Obama has walked us back from the brink. He averted a depression, ended one war and put us on the path ending the other, rescued the auto industry, slowly building the sound footing necessary to have a sustained recovery — better, smarter regulation of those that brought this upon us, tax breaks to save a dwindling middle class, and a request that the very super rich, folks like Gov. Romney who have taken advantage of loopholes and deductions and off-shore accounts to amass their fortunes, pay their fair share. (Like FDR’s hero, Theodore Roosevelt — also part of the new series we’re making — Obama has deployed the shrewd combination of speaking softly and using a big stick. Ask Bin Laden.)

There’s a lot more work to be done, obviously, but history itself suggests that changing the trajectory of things takes time and patience and, as FDR demonstrated, intelligent experimentation. (All Mitt Romney seems to offer is a return to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place.)

Unfortunately, unlike FDR, who had great cooperation from across the aisle for many of his programs, Obama has had to pretty much go it alone. As the Republican Party ignored his gestures of compromise and bipartisanship, they also moved further and further to the right, the furthest right they have ever been since the party was founded in 1856. Further right than the days of President Ronald Reagan, who in his second inaugural address in 1985 said, “Our two-party system has served us well over the years, but never better than in those times of great challenge when we came together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united in a common cause.”

How different, that attitude, from the Republican position of the last three years, which has taken the very process that forged our Constitution and created this great country — compromise — and tried to turn it into a dirty word.

More than a student of American history, I am also the father of four daughters. They mean the world to me, of course, and I’ve tried to teach them those timeless American values “It’s A Wonderful Life” promotes: a small-town hard-work ethic, holding to your inner principles and not changing with the first breeze of opposition, never lying, and loving both the country and its potentiality. And they constantly point me to the future, to the essential question George Bailey faced: What can one person do to make their community a Bedford Falls instead of a Pottersville? Well, there are many things. But one of them, I think, is to vote for Barack Obama.

Ken Burns, a filmmaker from Walpole, is director of “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “The Dust Bowl” and many other documentaries.

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And now for something completely different…

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Filed under History, Politics

The Election in 2 Videos..

Here are two videos that capture the essential issues in the 2012 Presidential race between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The first video lays out the stark contrast between Obama’s progressive agenda and Romney’s regressive, top-down, trickle-down approach to governing.

Now, here’s a more visceral take on Romney’s candidacy. Our good friend Shelly Goldstein put new words to the classic 1965 rock single by The Knickerbockers, written by Beau Charles and Buddy Randell. Enjoy!

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Filed under Comedy, Music, Politics

A Satiric Salute to Mitt Romney

Our good friend Shelly Goldstein put new words to the classic 1965 rock single by The Knickerbockers, written by Beau Charles and Buddy Randell. Enjoy!

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Filed under Comedy, Music, Politics