Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Only One Way on Taxes

 ("Invitation to a Dialogue: Which Way on Taxes?")

The fear of tax avoidance or the concern that the rich will stop working if the top tax rate increases to 39% are ludicrous rationale for suggesting that a desperately needed revenue stream be denied. Bill O'Reilly briefly attempted to convince us that he might have to walk away from his multi-million dollar job if this transpired, but even he couldn't sustain this pretense.Where is the data, the historical precedence, that supports either of these contentions? Some studies suggest that the maximum tax rate would have to be closer to 70% before enough people would retire to bring in less overall tax dollars for the government. As with so many Republican talking points, fear, not fact, is the predicate.

As to Mr. Roth's second contention,  while I do agree that the tax code needs an overhaul,  a revenue neutral proposal (assuming this is an accurate assessment) is not the answer. What this economic quagmire demands is a significant immediate stimulus. I know that the Svengali like hold of Grover Norquist on the Republican party compels them reflexively to require no imposition of additional tax burdens. However, Mr. Roth, and those like him, must stop pretending that refusing to require more of those who have the capability to contribute at this critical moment will magically make us healthy. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lying, As An Art Form

("Presidential Politics as Craven Crudites")

It is not Mr. Bruni's picture of dirty politics that is so distressing, but his suggestion that the Democrats share the Republicans love for distortion that is not fair or accurate.

Yes, neither party is perfect, but for the Republican party a disregard for the truth serves as their centerpiece. From the moment President Obama took office Republican fiction has been shamelessly and relentlessly substituted for fact on discussions relating to health care, the environment, evolution  the debt ceiling and beyond. They have talked of death panels, the fiction of global warming,  the reality of creationism, and manufactured an economic crisis that led to the edge of a global disaster.

A lack of integrity permeates and infects their positions. It is not surprising that Romney and Perry have so brutally and brazenly "rearranged" facts in their recent attacks.  Both sides are not equally culpable, or equally lacking in scruples. It is an ugly image that Mr. Bruni paints and it should  be a portrait shown with greater precision.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It is a year that has been decidedly more famine than feast. In our country there are new reports of 100 million of our citizens living as poor or nearly poor. Those just finishing school are often saddled with debt and a vision of a job market that is more foe than friend. The not so super-committee has just handed America an empty plate for Thanksgiving. The housing market remains a shocking mess. The definition of retirement is that no one is interested in obtaining the services that you wish to perform. And the Republican party's platform for America is an unmitigated disaster.  We resent those who are rich, and question how anyone can still party like its 1999. We are exhausted from all the hard work that it takes just to stay in place. What then, makes this a time for us to give thanks?

This question doesn't have an easy answer. Troubles are global in scope and staggering  in magnitude.  The Arab spring gave us an image of a people mad as hell and unwilling to allow the status quo to remain unchallenged. Many have taken to the streets throughout the European Union and now in our own country. All are trying to work through the pain and the disappointment and force their way to a more humane world. But the recent events in Egypt tell us that it is an best a work in progress. The uprisings in Greece and Italy that speak to the lunacy of austerity programs that merely force poverty into more homes, have not produced sanity. Occupy Wall Street, for all its promise and all its force, remains an enigma to many.

So, maybe this is a Thanksgiving unlike others, in which we have less to appreciate, and less to be thankful for. Maybe what this Thanksgiving is all about is teaching us the difficult lessons. Maybe this is the year that we suffer so we can come out of this stronger and more resolute. Maybe next year we will have more control over our destiny. Maybe next year those who care so little about the suffering of others will not be in position to inflict such pain. Maybe next year will show us more compassion and understanding.

And thus, when we gather together to feast, we may want to give thanks for this our year of common famine. Let it be the catalyst for a time in the not so distant future when we all have good reason to consider this a day of thanks-giving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


("Can Conservative Media Stop Mitt Romney?")  The real question should be can the Liberal Media Help.

Those in the Republican party who are the most offended by the policies of the great flip-flopper are more offended by everything  ever proposed by the brain that sits in the Oval office. For the many millions that listen to the gospel according to Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. O'Reilly, they would vote for ABO (anybody but Obama). It is not these votes that the Republicans must garner next November. Nor their enthusiasm, for they will bark all night if told to do so.

But for the many who may find Obama an enigma but do not drink the Tea Party's Kool Aid, would a candidacy by ABM (anybody but Mitt) capture their interest and their vote? Could Citizen Cain, the I'm not a politician (and lobbying doesn't count), I'm not a harasser (and those 2 settlements don't matter), I'm not interested in foreign affairs (and Libya and Ubeki-beki-stan don't register) succeed with these people? Could the ever disdainful, arrogant and often deeply offensive Newt the historian be able to walk away from his past infidelities, his hand deep in the pocket of those Federal agencies he rails against, and a candidacy that has been an excuse for a book tour?  Who else is left on the far right,  Perry, Bachmann, Santorum? Each is dying a slow death.  And Huntsman. Even though he could be the most attractive option to the fence sitters, he hasn't learned how to play the primary game, and so he stands helpless in the wings.

For those of us who find the Republican field an appalling mess,  the ABM crowd  may be our best hope for 2012. If the "hold your nosers" finds Romney the most offensive choice, then ipso facto, the rest of the voting world might find him less intolerable.  And that, next year, may unfortunately be good enough. So I ask the liberal media to find that Cain is able or that Newt is nice. Let the far right have its candidate and let the left have the election.

Friday, November 18, 2011

No One Knows What Goes On Behind Closed Doors

Your editorial "Exceptional Court Coverage" speaks to the necessity to hear in real time the Supreme court discussion on the health care challenge, as its determination will "affect every American". It is critical, so your words would suggest, that the process, not only the result, be known to the American public.

Yet it strikes me as odd that  we seemingly accept without comment that the super-committee has gone about reaching its answers outside of our watchful eye. How are we a government of the people when a decision of such potentially monumental economic importance is made in  silence?

I understand that, in the highly unlikely event an agreement is reached, it will be subject to congressional scrutiny and review, and we will be permitted in on that subsequent conversation.  But why only then? I don't agree with the implicit premise that those charged with governing  can only do so effectively when we are not interfering with our presence. Our ability to "participate" in the critical arguments that impact our lives, whether before the Supreme Court, or behind the closed doors of the super-committee are at the essence of what "we the people" should mean.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Occupation

 ("Jolted, Wall St. Protesters Face Challenge for Future")

Secret meetings, failed negotiations, early morning raids and an end to the occupation. It makes for a fascinating read.

It is clear however that the idea born here reaches well beyond the grasp of any court order. It may well be, as was suggested in your companion story ("Beyond Seizing Parks, New Paths to Influence") that too much energy has been devoted to maintaining a presence at Zuccotti.

This movement is not tied to time and place, but to the goal of evicting the 1% from their seat of unbridled power. It is a daunting task that may be filled in the coming months with secret meetings and failed negotiations. Until the occupation by the 1% ends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Descent

There is almost a palpable sadness when people ask about my mom these days. "How is she doing" becomes phrased more as a statement than a question.

Trouble seems always a moment away. Sleep now is filled with hallucinations, paranoia and  an engulfing restlessness. Day and night have lost their meaning. Her grasp is so fragile, so tenuous.

It is a world where villains and demons, shadows and conspiracies, isolation and resentment live. It is a place that is exhausting to watch and clearly almost impossible to endure. And it is here that my mom finds herself more and more.

It is as an endless cycle downward. It has been a long and terrible descent and it appears to have no bottom.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Fiddler

("For European Union and the Euro, Time Runs Short")

Angela Merkel is playing the part of Nero in the conflagration of the European Union. Rome burned yesterday as its former leader was given an unceremonious Italian boot. This follows in the wake of the disaster that is playing out in Greece and it seems but precursor for what will next transpire in France. And yet, while the citizens in all of these countries cry out for an end to their economic decimation, while the circumstances demand that the crushing weight of  fiscal austerity be loosened and while pleas escalate for financial assistance, Merkel fiddles. Her dictates for restraint, restraint, restraint have left societies throughout this Union on the verge of collapse. It is time to take the fiddle away from Merkel, or at least demand that she play a very different tune if the fire is to be extinguished and the Union saved.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pity for Perry?

Who knew we had the capacity to feel sorry for Governor Perry? As he stood there, helpless and exposed to the world as an actor in need of a line, the final nail was hammered in the coffin housing his 2012 Presidential bid.

After his manic performance as the happy and peppy Perry went viral last week, it seemed an impossibility that his fall from grace could find even lower depths. But it did.

And so we bid Mr. Perry well as we send him back to Texas where his shortcomings can be hidden beneath his cowboy hat and underneath an oil well or 2.

Now we are left with the likes of Mr. 9-9-9, his closet suddenly bulging with those conspiring against him, whether they be from Mr. Perry's camp, or Mr. Romney's, or a vehicle of the "Democrat machine". And we are sure to endure more audiences like last night, who wildly cheered for Mr. Cain when he seemed deeply offended by the audacity of a question relating to his character.

It almost makes me wish for the good old days of Sarah Palin. Almost.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Frazierandali,  Aliandfrazier, effect and cause, cause and effect.

It was the pinnacle of heavyweight boxing and at the apex they stood as one. In an era of unparalleled American excellence there was Norton, Ellis, Quarry, Foreman, Holmes but there was never another Frazierandali, Aliandfrazier.

With all that defined America in the late 1960's and early 1970's,  in a time of tumult and changing mores, while the world watched as Vietnam divided our country and a President resigned in disgrace, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali captured our attention and kept it.

From the first of the epic trilogy on that night in Madison Square Garden, where the force that was Frazier broke the jaw and closed the mouth of Ali, to that moment in Manila where the saga came to a close, it was a compelling drama. As Frazier sat on his stool, almost blind and unable to come out for the last of 15 brutal rounds, Ali collapsed in his corner. Each had traveled to the limit of his physical and emotional capacity.

And so death has finally separated Frazier from Ali. But from the moment 40 years ago that these 2 first exchanged blows they became forever intertwined and inextricably connected by their greatness and the force of their wills.

Frazierandali, Aliandfrazier. Now and forever.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Above the Cacophony


Did you ever notice how many commentators there are informing us about life's shortcomings without any hint of humor, introspection or irony?

Did you ever notice a unique voice among all the cacophony?

Andy Rooney's often cranky observations of what irked him, and should have irritated us, gave a comfortable landing to the often distressing truths of 60 Minutes, and to the relentlessly harsh world we face each day.

Did you ever notice how much we need that?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bright Lights

 ("Putting Millionaires Before Jobs")

Where is the outrage? Another jobs bill is filibustered into submission by those who have the audacity to pretend that they represent the best interests of this country. Our infrastructure, like our nation, is crumbling in front of our eyes, and yet the $60 billion package  vanished in the blink of an obstructionist's eye.

We see the President and Vice President trying desperately to call us into action. We hear the moral indignity in the words of the pundits on the left. And we read the words of the editorial of the New York Times and other similarly thinking publications.Yet, if we are to believe that the 99% can do good, we have to do better. We have to mobilize today as an army against the endless onslaught of smug Republican moves intended to destroy a President and bring this country to its knees. We have to rise up as one not next November at the polls but today and tomorrow and as many tomorrows as it takes to regain control of our lives. What is happening in the halls of Congress is sickening and it is our duty and our obligation to make certain that there is hell to pay each and every day for those who continue to treat us with such disrespect. Let the bright lights of public scrutiny and scorn look down on those who protect the few at the expense of so many.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Armadillos and Peccadilloes

("Day of the Armadillo")

We are in desperate need of armadillos and peccadilloes, large and small, to distract from the ugly realities of life. The glorious end of the baseball season is but a memory and the basketball season is in a millionaire's lock-down. We need to be able to turn to the nonsense of Congressional time spent on reminding us that we still officially trust God. We want a cat fight to develop among the Republicans over the Cain affair (it sounds like a movie title), with all its leaks and lies. The last thing we want to do is focus on the dismal economy here and abroad, the misguided fiscal austerity, the fear that we are but one wrong move away from a man made global tsunami.

We have a long wait until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. It may be weeks or months until agreement is reached on how the billions are equitably divided between the haves and the haves in the NBA. So, I ask Ms. Collins to keep us entertained in the meantime with meaningless tales. And I hope that Mr. Cain stays around long enough to provide a few more edible armadillos.