Saturday, January 7, 2012

Morning Joe: GOP presidential field is weak

Morning Joe host, Joe Scarborough shared his low opinion of the current GOP presidential contenders on his MSNBC morning program. Scarborough, a former conservative Republican congressman, stated:

“I think part of the problem with the [Republican] presidential field that we have is you had a lot of candidates who realized the only way they could make a connection with voters - or raise money -was go on cable shows and instead of just disagreeing with their political opponents call them socialists or fascists or Marxists,” observed Scarborough, a former Republican congressmen from Florida. “Certainly you had that with Glenn Beck on Fox and some other shows. And it causes such a corrosive atmosphere and it makes good people not to run for political office.”
That said, Scarborough has not been shy about sharing his (low) opinion of the current Republican field.
“Without passing any judgment on their ideological positions,” he said, “this is the weakest presidential field in history. They don’t do the basics: they haven’t organized; all of them except for Mitt Romney are broke. It’s been a remarkably weak field.

Scarborough is dead-on correct. The GOP contenders drone on and on about their hate of all things Obama, but they offer no contrasting or workable solutions for middle-America. In lieu of a middle-class agenda, the GOP offers more of the same: More tax-cuts for the rich, more supply-side economics and less corporate regulation. In other words, more of the same policies that have been crushing the middle-class for the last 30 years. To make matters worse, they ballyhoo a middle-class agenda as being  socialism.

One Silver Lining: More and more respected GOP leaders, politicians and opinion shapers are beginning to speak out about the party's direction and need for a course correction. Let's hope it takes root.

Arsenio Hall joins Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice Show

It seems as if Donald "Comb-Over-Man" Trump has landed 1990's talk show legend Arsenio Hall for the 2012 Celebrity Apprentice Show.

Trump, who spent most of 2011 pandering to the lowest racist element of the Tea Party, will, via Hall, have an opportunity to demonstrate that he "always had a great relationship with the blacks."

And Arsenio, who has spent the last two decades in relative obscurity, will get another opportunity to entertain prime time America. . 

As one of the blacks, I won't be watching. I refused to endorse or support anything Trump. I was beyond appalled on how Trump was given a platform to vent his nonsense regarding President Obama's birth certificate and demanding to see his report card grades. 

He even bragged about his efforts:

Trump may be moving on from the birth certificate issue—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want credit for its release.
“Today, I’m very proud of myself because I accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,” Trump said at the opening of a New Hampshire press conference. “I want to look at it, but I hope it’s true so that we can get on to much more important matters; so the press can stop asking me questions.”
Now that the White House is passing out copies of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate like they’re flyers for half-priced chicken shwarma, Donald Trump has something new atop his wish list: Obama’s college records. source

I am surprised that Arsenio has signed on to the Trump brand - anything to resurrect a career. I guess a gig is a gig.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Michelle Obama and the Evolution of a First Lady

The following excerpts are from The Obamas, a new book by Jodi Kantor ofThe New York Times about the first few years of the Obama administration. The book raises the curtain so the reader can glimpse the behind the scene rivalries, drama and tension of the White House. 
The Michelle Obama of January 2012 is an expert motivator and charmer, a champion of safe causes like helping military families and ending childhood obesity, an increasingly canny political player eager to pour her popularity into her husband’s re-election campaign. But interviews with more than 30 current and former aides, as well as some of the first couple’s closest friends, conducted for “The Obamas,” a new book, show that she has been an unrecognized force in her husband’s administration and that her story has been one first of struggle, then turnaround and greater fulfillment.
Mrs. Obama is a supportive but often anxious spouse, suspicious of conventional political thinking, a groundbreaking figure who has acutely felt the pressures and possibilities of being the first African-American in her position and a first lady who has worked to make her role more meaningful.
Initially, she had considered postponing her move to the White House for months; after arriving, she bristled at its confinements and obligations — unable to walk her dog without risking being photographed, and monitored by her husband’s aides for everything from how she decorated the family’s private quarters to whether she took makeup artists on overseas trips.
New to the ways of Washington but impassioned about what her husband had been elected to do, she saw herself as a guardian of values. She was sometimes harder on her husband’s team than he was, eventually urging him to replace them, and the tensions grew so severe that one top adviser erupted in a meeting in 2010, cursing the absent first lady.
“She has very much got his back,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s longtime strategist, in an interview. “When she thinks things have been mishandled or when things are off the track,” he continued, “she’ll raise it, because she’s hugely invested in him and has a sense of how hard he’s working, and wants to make sure everybody is doing their work properly.”
Mrs. Obama’s difficulties illuminate some of the president’s central challenges in the White House, including how the Obamas’ freshness to political life, a selling point in 2008, became a liability in office. Her worries about his staff point to a chief executive with little management experience who clung to an inner circle less united than it appeared. (Mr. Emanuel’s relationship with the president grew so strained that the chief of staff secretly offered to resign in early 2010; Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, had a tense relationship with Mrs. Obama and with Valerie Jarrett, another adviser). She shared the president’s ambivalence about political chores and the back-patting and schmoozing that can help get things done in Washington. read more


The New Orleans Saints will win the Super Bowl!

Oops, I prematurely let the cat out of the bag. Let's preview and walk through the NFL playoffs. By the way, savor these games like the last bite of a sandwich. After the Super Bowl (February 5th), the greatest American sport will be on a six month hiatus. .

The Houston Texans will face the Cincinnati Bengals, a team they beat 20-19 on a last second touchdown to secure their playoff spot. Andre Johnson returns for the Texans but, I favor the Cincinnati rookie QB Andrew Dalton over the Houston rookie QB T.J. Yates. Cincy wins 23-13

The Denver Broncos enter the playoffs on a 3 game losing streak. In those games, the Tim Tebow magic was exposed: First by the low ranked defenses of the Patriots (31st) and Bills (26th). And when he faced a good defense like the Chiefs (11th), Tebow was lost --all that running around (college option style) didn't work. He failed to make NFL caliber passes and the Bronco offense stalled. His playoff reward: Tebow will face the number one ranked defense - the Pittsburgh Steelers. Easy call... Pittsburgh wins 31-10.


New England Patriots have Tom Brady, the second ranked offense and Bill Belichick scheming to stop a rookie quarterback...need we say more. The New England Patriots will host and slaughter the Cincinnatti Bengals. Patriots win 41-17.

The Baltimore Ravens will defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers for a third time this season. Ben Roethisberger has not fully recovered from his high ankle sprain and this will make it easier for the Ravens defense to contain his passes out of the pocket. Ravens win 19-13.

Many NFL experts/analysts/pundits see this as the year that a high powered offense can win it all without a good defense. I am on that bandwagon (reference my Saints prediction) but, the Ravens - with a mediocre offense - will go into Foxborough and defeat the high octane Patriot offense. The Tom Brady led offense has rescued their poor defense (31st ranked) all season by scoring a ton of points. However, Brady will not be able to do that against the Ravens. The Ravens defense knows him too well and they have beaten the Pats before in Foxborough.
Ravens wins 23-20

The Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints end their seasons offensively on fire! The Saints averaged 44.0 points their last 3 games, and the Lions averaged 35.6. The key to victory, obviously, will be which defense stops or slows the other's offense. The Saints defense only allowed 17.6 points  in those games while the Lions gave up 27.4. This should be a fun game if you like high scores. Saints win 48-27.

The dome team Atlanta Falcons will travel to the chilly and windy Meadowlands to take on the resurging New York Giants. Eli Manning and the Giants offense seems to be hitting on all cylinders with wide-receiver Victor Cruz turning in sensational big plays in the last 3 weeks. The Giants can control the ball and they have an experienced and talented defensive front four. This front four will make for a long day for Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan.
Giants win 27-13

San Francisco 49ers are back in the playoffs but not for long. The Saints will go into SF and spank the the young and inexperienced Niners. The Niners defense will keep them close for 3 quarters and then the Saints will "Brees" through the 4th quarter.  Saints 34-17

The Green Bay Packers were on the verge of an undefeated season and Aaron Rogers was touted as having the best season of any quarterback in history. They have been the only consistent dominate team all season with only one lost. They will host Giants (another cold weather team) and will fight for their playoff life.
Packers win 34-27.

Folks, the following prediction goes against conventional wisdom.. Why? Because I am - against conventional wisdom - predicting that a dome team to defeat, in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, the number one seeded Packers. Both teams have "unstoppable" weapons but, the Saints defense will be more successful than the Packs defense. Saints win 44-38

Once again, flouting conventional wisdom, a better offense will beat a better defense...well, not exactly. The New Orleans Saints will defeat the Baltimore Ravens because the Ravens offense will sputter. The Saints will capitalize on their opportunities and the Ravens will not. Saints win 23-13

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Race & Politics - Part II

I write about how race has shaped politics a lot (read part I). Not because it's a sexy or controversial subject that will grab people's attention.

Quite the contrary, the subject of Race and Politics is often treated as a taboo - an uncomfortable subject to discuss in mixed company.

Outside the thinly veiled (or in many cases open) racism of hate radio and FOX, where the conversations are more inflammatory than reasonable, Americans avoid this topic like the plague. From time to time mainstream media will produce a documentary on the subject, but generally speaking Race and Politics receives scant attention.

So, why discuss it at all?

In absence of intelligent, thoughtful and constructive dialogue we have power hungry demagogues that divide working class people by stroking their racial fears and immigrant fears. The most damaging net result of this exploitative campaign is white working class people manipulated into empowering a party that is decimating the middle-class.

Joan Walsh writes in

Sadly, Brooks is right that the Republican Party has become the home of the white working class. I wrote weeks ago that it’s silly to keep talking about “Reagan Democrats,” because the demographic group that Richard Nixon began luring to the GOP, and whose allegiance Reagan cemented, simply aren’t Democrats anymore. Steadily since the 60s, white working class voters have shifted their political affiliation to the Republican Party, (although Obama, paradoxically, did better with them than John Kerry or Al Gore did). Brooks is also right when he admits “Republicans harvest their votes but have done a poor job responding to their needs.”

But whether they’re led by Santorum or Romney, Republicans are not going to suddenly start responding to the needs of the working class, white or otherwise. And certainly not working class families. A generation of sanctimonious GOP talk about “family” ignores the fact that progressive legislation helped create the family as we knew it from World War II through the ’70s (which is what GOP family values folks hark back to). Certainly it was progressive reformers who scratched and clawed to carve out what we now think of as “childhood,” once reserved for wealthy children, by passing child-labor and compulsory education laws (which Gingrich and the modern GOP, by the way, apparently question). With all due respect to Santorum’s late grandfather, unions protected by liberalized labor-organizing and worker safety laws made dangerous mine work safer and pushed many struggling working class families into the secure middle class.

It was the New Deal and post-war liberalism that created the conditions to allow at least a couple of generations of white working and middle class women to stay home with their children. And it was the erosion of that post-war wages and benefits social compact, probably more than feminism, that sent women surging into the workplace, whether or not they might have wanted to be home with their kids. Unfortunately, the white working class has ignored most of this, undermining its own well-being by embracing the anti-government politics of paranoia and racial division espoused by the modern GOP. read more

Monday, January 2, 2012

How Race Shaped American Party Politics

Southern Strategy Propaganda
Quite frequently when I engage my conservative friends in political banter, I am asked - rhetorically of course because they are always ready to give a lecture before hearing the answer - why do blacks in overwhelming numbers support the Democratic party?

After their lecture and my explanation, I flip the question and ask: why do non-wealthy whites continue to vote for the GOP and against their economic interests?

I agree, the GOP gives lip service to middle-class bedrock issues. But as one Democratic congressman retorted: When push to shove they will move heaven and earth to pass tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and large corporations while raising taxes on 160 million middle class Americans.  That’s a position that damages the American people.

In fact, GOP front-runner Mitt Romney has tellingly declared that corporations are people.

So what spell has the GOP cast on the average white American voter? In an excellent article/essay posted on The Root , Paul Delaney poignantly explains how race has defined and shaped our two party system.

He writes:

It's a given that the GOP attracts more whites and the Democrats attract more blacks, but it wasn't always so.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was on target when he said in 1965 that with the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the Democrats had lost Southern white voters for a generation. He was off a bit and too optimistic. The loss has lasted longer than a generation, and the reason for it goes deep into our nation's history.

Since the 1860s, many whites in the Southern states have harbored a special, deep dislike for any of their brethren, anywhere on the continent, who took up the cause of former slaves. Think of the reactions to Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, Ulysses S. Grant, Viola Liuzzo, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

The civil rights movement jump-started a change in American politics that led to today's alignment of blacks voting heavily for Democrats and many whites supporting Republicans. It used to be the reverse -- after all, the GOP was the party of Lincoln, who signed the proclamation that freed African Americans from slavery. It was also the party of the black politicians of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.

What happened? The switch in party loyalties, which happened in two stages, was based purely on racism.

At a conference I covered in Louisville, Ky., on school integration in 1976, a Southern white attorney who was an unwavering supporter of desegregation stunned the audience by declaring flatly that the problem they were having integrating the schools was simply, "White folks don't like niggers."  read entire story