Posts Tagged 'Republicans'

I’m Available

As long as the Republicans have decided to close their eyes, ears and mouths when it comes to even considering a Supreme Court replacement for Scalia, I’d like to apply for the job.

It makes no sense to me for the Black Guy to nominate a truly qualified person since the selection would be sentenced to the bowels of an already constipated Senate.  And the nominee would be also be harming his or her chances at some other important job.  Like Postal Commissioner or Surgeon General, guys who have a lot of impactful things to do.

So, since I have no desire to shred envelopes or tell people to quit drinking good vodka, I hereby throw my hat into the ring. I’ve got very little to do for the next ten months so I can devote my full attention to filling the vacancy created by Scalia’s timely departure.

And I have no baggage to bring to the Court. I’m not an attorney, know next to nothing about the law and have, as evidenced by my blogs, no axe to grind with anyone. My last brush with the law was a parking ticket thirty years ago, so vetting by the FBI should take less than a day.

If I am nominated and confirmed, I promise to emulate the way some others behave on the highest bench in the land. In particular, I will refrain from opening my mouth in open court, thereby eliminating any possibility of shaming myself or causing embarrassment to my colleagues. This has worked well for at least one member of the court who has, it is said, been present but silent for more than two decades.

Actually, what with the ease of communicating electronically, I can stay home, listen to the proceedings with my stereo headphones and then vote by pressing a button, just like many of our Congressmen or Senator Rubio.

My nearly four score age is a plus too. Already living on borrowed time, an accelerated departure is probably in the cards as a result of the stress I will be under deciding the fate of others. Forget about the lack of impunity or accountability enjoyed by the sitting justices. Being Jewish, I bring a boatload of guilt to the job, sure to make my life a living hell. So, I’m probably up for a short, quiet, no waves tenure that’ll probably be over before The Donald squats in the Oval Office.

On the rare occasions that I will be present in the courtroom, I promise to bring a stoic, judicial appearance that will bring confidence to my colleagues and to those presenting arguments to the Court. Nodding knowingly at the right moments and curling my lip when appropriate will enhance my stature with others.

Depending completely on my law clerks to form my opinions will be standard operating procedure. After all, who knows the law better, an old guy like me or someone fresh out of law school angling for a future zillion dollar job with a multi-national law firm.

So there you have it. A no-risk solution to a problem that everyone thought was a Constitutional crisis. I’ll even buy my own lunch.

I hope that the Black Guy and the Kentucky Colonel are reading this blog. You guys know how to reach me. But don’t take too long. I expect to soon hear from The Donald about the job of Attorney General.

Republican Poster Children

My good friend Ralph, in a somewhat inebriated state, once said “I don’t like so many things that I don’t even know what I don’t like anymore.”  Over the years Ralph and I have joked about his half-serious declaration that, for some people, is the center point of their lives.

I was reminded of it again when I read the sobering rant aired by Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) who told The Washington Examiner  “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Marlin was of course referring to the current budget crisis and the Republican crusade to banish Obamacare  before anyone can find out that it actually helps people.  A major brain fart was obviously gassing Marlin’s ability to reason, evaluate the consequences of his actions, and to speak without the intervention of serious drugs.

But to be fair, Marlin was probably just relying on those in his party who were feeding him a constant barrage of one-liners, manufactured facts, and u-turns in their twisted road to sway government opinion that would seriously challenge a Barnum and Bailey contortionist.

After shutting down the government because they couldn’t deep-six Obamacare, Republicans have taken the high road by picking those government programs that deserve to be reopened (like parks) and keeping other less important ones shut down (like the National Institute of Health and OSHA.)

Marlin’s good friend, Texas Republican congressman Randy Neugebauer, also had his facts somewhat mixed when he berated a  National Park Ranger at the Washington WWII memorial for doing her job.  Carrying an oversized American flag in his breast pocket, Randy objected to the Ranger’s attempt to keep people out of the facility which had been officially closed due to the government shutdown provoked by you know who.   “The Park Service should be ashamed” Randy declared as his flag began to wilt.

A near-by bicyclist shouted  “This woman is doing her job, just like me. I’m a 30-year federal veteran — I’m out of work.”  The man at this point was face to face with the Congressman who was perhaps irritated by being delayed from cashing his U.S. Government paycheck.

“Well, the reason you are is because Mr. Reid decided to shut down the government,” responded Neugebauer, no doubt restraining himself from calling the Senate Democrat a Commie bastard.

“No, it’s because the government won’t do its job and pass a budget” said the 30 year federal veteran.

Having wilted completely, both the flag and Congressman Neugebauer returned to the House floor where he proudly proposed an end to the National Park Service and the opening of Yosemite to oil exploration.

So to Marlin Stutzman I say, your disrespect is well deserved.  You’re lucky enough to still be employed even though you’ve refused to perform the functions required of your position.  Namely, to better the lives of those who look to you for leadership.  Not to make their lot more difficult.

And to Randy Neugebauer.  You should be greatly ashamed for displaying the symbol of our country while doing your best to destroy the thing it has most stood for.  Protecting and helping those less fortunate than you.

But I will grant both of you this.  You are the ideal poster-children of the Party to which we owe our current state of affairs.  Keep up the good work.

Stick ’em up

When I was nine I lived in a Chicago semi-tenement where my whole world was the one block area surrounding our building.  My closest buddies, Alan and Alfred, joined me daily in hide-and-seek, softball in the alley, setting fire to things, and playing cops and robbers.

In addition to our motley assortment of beat up baseballs, a make shift hand-me-down chemistry set and stubs of colored chalk that occasionally aggravated the neighbors, we had those not-so-real cap guns that looked like they belonged in Gene Autry’s holster.  The cheaper guns required us to laboriously place one paper cap at a time in the little slot just ahead of the firing pin.  The more expensive instruments of mass destruction let you put a whole roll of paper caps in the gun and then hope that it wouldn’t jam as we pointed our gats at each other and said stick-em-up.  We usually blasted each other even if we obeyed that order.  And then we went home for lunch.

I was recently reminded of my childhood cops and robbers as I listened to the contest between those who think Obamacare is worth trying, and those who would sooner turn us into a dead beat creditor than allow the law an even shake.

Republicans, who undoubtedly possess the automated cap guns of my youth, have yelled stick-em-up and waved an array of mind numbing ransom demands.  The Democrats, one-cap-at-a-time users, are standing by waiting for the Republicans to run out of caps before using the one cap left in their arsenal.

Holding the nation hostage while insisting that their demands be met reminds me of Cleavon Little, the black sheriff in the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles.  Arriving as the new Sheriff Bart in the wild west town of Rock Ridge, populated by a majority of moronic racists, he is confronted by drawn guns and a less than admiring populace.  Sensing his imminent demise, Cleavon pulls his own six-gun, holds it to his own head, and threatens to kill himself if his adversaries don’t give up.  Confused by the display, the bad guys back off.  I always thought this was pretty funny until I watched Speaker Boehner pull the same stunt just the other day.

Convinced that the Democrats will, as usual, back off and give ground, Boehner has capitulated to the Tea Party crazies who are holding guns to their own heads.  Assured of continued job security through gerrymandered districts and terrified of primary challenges by an even worse right-winged zealot, House Republicans are perfectly content to demand unquestioning fealty to their every demand.  Or, bang you’re dead.

Sensing that the defunding ransom demand may not be quite politically correct, the House has apparently replaced it with a new wish list of unsavory pronouncements, including a one year delay of Obamacare.  That’s just enough time for the Koch brothers to invest a zillion bucks on sadly juvenile ads similar to the recent one sponsored by them showing Uncle Sam (looking a great deal like Donald Trump) leering up the skirts of a young coed who was foolish enough to sign up for Obamacare.  Poor, deluded girl.

It matters not one whit that Obamacare was passed by Congress, was used successfully to defeat its reborn antagonist Mitt Romney, and finally upheld by the Supreme Court.  Better to continue to wage a battle already lost by threatening to shut down the government and default on obligations already committed to.  Better to keep firing caps until the other side hollers ya got me.

Mel Brooks claims that his idea of the scene in Blazing Saddles of cowboys sitting around the campfire and farting came from watching lots of westerns where cowpokes seemed to always be drinking coffee and eating beans.  Mel assumed that this caused great waves of bloated gas that must have been freely expelled as they sat around and mused about life on the open range.

It’s too bad that Mel had to go all the way to Texas when the same kind of farting around happens daily in Washington, D.C.

Cleavon Little

No Time to Wait for Superman

We went to the movies with Yoram and Bert yesterday and saw Sarah’s Key.  A somewhat schizophrenic movie, it vacillated between engrossing and boring.  It should have ended thirty minutes earlier.

As is our custom, the forty minute ride to Ventura went quickly as we made the rounds of politics, the economy, the British riots, the astoundingly dopey letters-to-the-editor in the Ojai Valley News, and my recent, somewhat less dopey, Waiting for Superman blog.  We especially marvelled at the inability of the Democrats to mount an understandable, mind-grabbing offensive to counter the simple-minded missives delivered by the bad guys.

It appears that lots of folks are waiting for Superman, including Timothy Egan who wrote a similarly named New York Times article on the same day I penned mine.  Egan compiles a compelling, and basic English list of points that should be taped to every Democrat’s refrigerator door and repeatedly shouted from their windows much like crazy Peter Finch did so eloquently in Network.

As Egan points out, given the present composition of the House of Loons, the Senate’s sixty vote obstruction provision and the upcoming (isn’t it always upcoming) election, any economic solutions offered by Obama will never see the light of day.  You can read Egan’s column, but to save you time and to make the list compact enough to fit on your refrigerator, I’ve taken the liberty of providing a Fredified version of it.

Rich people should pay more taxes.  Period.  Leave the rest of the folks alone.  Let the Republicans be the champions of the rich in a country where 5% of the population owns 60% of the assets.  Even more amazingly, 1% of the population owns about 33% of the wealth.

Higher taxes never stopped a business owner from trying to sell more and make more profits.  It’s better to make an extra buck even if you gotta pay half of it to the IRS.  Let the Republicans do the math.

Higher taxes never stopped any owner from hiring people.  As long as they made money for him, he hired them.  Let the Republicans prove the opposite.  Oh, and point out their intent to reduce corporate income taxes.

And, while we’re talking about the unemployed, ask anyone to name a single jobs creation bill proposed by a Republican since Obama took office.

Instead of falsely claiming that the financial stimulus bill was a failure, you might point out that Obama created more jobs in 2010  than Bush did in eight years.  If anything, the stimulus should have been three times larger.  Instead, the Republicans focused on debt reduction in spite of its job killing effects.

Nearly 50 million people don’t have healthcare insurance.  Obama’s healthcare reform act, though imperfect, chips away at that contemptible situation.  Let the Republicans tell us why these folks should go without insurance.  Rick Perry might be qualified for that assignment since 1 in 4 Texans have no insurance.

Repeat the mantras of the leading Republican candidates.  Especially those dealing with reliance on the bible for solutions, the age of the planet, disputing man’s contribution to climate change, the abolishment of the Federal Reserve (accompanied by the guillotining of Ben Bernanke), a moratorium on environmental regulations  (leave it to God),  the claim that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, their refusal to allow a woman to determine how to manage her own body, elimination of the minimum wage, getting folks to be more responsible starting with the elimination of federal disaster relief, and their ideological shackle to the National Rifle Association and single-minded Tea Party dim wits.

If all that doesn’t work, try scaring the undecided with the prospect of more Supreme Court justices like Thomas, Scalia and Alito…or worse.

So take that blanket off your face, quit being a woe-is-me wuss,  get up off your duff, and be more like Peter Finch…even if he was a loon.  Oh, and stop worrying about getting the facts straight.  They don’t.

Whaddaya got?

I poured a glass of cheap wine, plunked myself on the couch and grabbed the clicker.  One of my favorite programs is the PBS NewsHour.  Jim Lehrer is the non-profit version of Dick Clark.  He goes on and on like the Energizer Bunny and his face displays but a few cute wrinkles probably acquired as a result of holding his breath while interviewing conservative neocons and America Firsters.

I was particularly amused on Wednesday when the program showcased John Cochrane of the University of Chicago who gleefully discredited the benefits of the Obama stimulus plan.  Not surprising since Professor Cochrane famously predicted the doom of the program when it was first announced.  Maintaining a perpetual silly smirk reminiscent of you-know-who, I wondered what his economics students must have to put up with.  Probably a proponent of the flat earth theory, the Professor holds sway on Chicago’s South Side by championing supply side economics in a manner that would make Ronnie Reagan proud.

One of the Professor’s more erudite statements was in response to Jeffrey Brown’s question of whether the stimulus might have helped stave off a second depression…I mean, the stimulus, in the end, is taking money from one place and giving it to another place. And it’s too easy to forget that you had to take money from somewhere in order to do any stimulating.  Pretty heady stuff.

Brown then asked Professor Cochrane whether any jobs might have been created or saved by the stimulus money…Well, it’s lovely to tout the benefits, but let’s not forget the costs.  Like any time the government spends money, it has to come from somewhere.  So, you get to see the jobs that the stimulus — I don’t want to say created, but the jobs supported by the stimulus. What you don’t see is every dollar of stimulus had to come from somewhere.  Thesis material indeed or at least fodder for a pop-quiz.

Sometimes though we are treated to folks who actually make sense.  Like Thursday when Judy Woodruff interviewed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.  I like Judy.  She asks simple questions and her facial expressions speak volumes.  The subject was the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  Better known as “Cutting Costs and Collecting More Taxes”, Obama formed the non-binding commission when the Senate shied away from the opportunity in an election year.  But then every year seems like an election year.

I’m a fan of Alan Simpson.  The former three-term Republican senator from Wyoming mixes common sense and humor in a way that puts you in your place and you say “thank you sir, may I have more?”  The June 7, 1994, edition of the now-defunct supermarket tabloid Weekly World News reported that twelve U.S. Senators were aliens from other planets, including Simpson.  Those who argue that it’s downright unfair to give equal voting weight to an alien from a small state like Wyoming alongside big state senators, turn strangely quiet when Senator Simpson is mentioned.  Maybe they remember George Murphy, the song and dance man from California who tapped his toes for six years in the Senate before being defeated by John Tunney, the son of heavyweight boxing champ Gene Tunney.

Senator Simpson along with Bowles, a Democrat, are co-chairing the commission.  Bowles, a nice guy, was relatively quiet as Simpson took and held the spotlight.  WoodruffWell, some people, mainly Republicans right now, are arguing, what’s really needed are tax cuts, that, even if it raises the deficit in the short-term, that this would get government out of the way of business, business could grow, and the deficit will take care of itself.  SimpsonWell, I’m not smoking that same pipe.  Wise man.

The same program aired a clip of the Republican leadership reacting to news of the Commission.  Emerging en masse and in lock-step from a Capitol chamber, they were led by Senator McConnell and House Minority Leader  Boehner. They strode to the microphone.  Having escaped voluntary vetting by the Truth Squad and having conveniently forgotten that last year he had praised the commission idea as the best way to address the crisis, Mitch announced his opposition to the Commission on the grounds that it was loaded with Democrats and focused on tax increases.  This notwithstanding the fact that of the 18 members, 3 will be appointed by him, 3 by Boehner, and two more Republicans by Obama.  As befitting the current Washington mood of  “all for one and one for all”  at least 14 of the members have to agree on any recommendation.

At least these guys are consistent.  Having come up with a Republican plan that includes lying low, inciting the base and hoping for the worst, they refuse to see any good in any thing.  Like my friend Harry who said I don’t like so many things that I don’t know what I don’t like anymore, it’s enough that they just take sustenance, maintain their innocence and wait for November.

They’ve practiced this approach for so long that maybe they’re not devious obstructionists.  Maybe they don’t even know why they’re against anything anymore.  It reminds me of that scene from The Wild Ones.  The one where Brando’s asked what he’s rebelling against and he says, Whaddaya got?

We were robbed!

Irv and Jeri are here, experiencing  below average temperatures and above average rainfall.  But if you come from the old country (Chicago), you take whatever you can get.

I’ve tried to ignore the political landscape while they’re here but find it a herculean task given the state we’re in.   The state of California, I mean.  The budget process goes on and on, we get frustrated, our bile rises, and we look around to see who’s to blame.  If you really want to know, just look in the mirror.

Proposition 13, the need for a two-thirds vote to increase taxes, and a similarly foolish rule about passing  budgets are requirements designed by us, the voters.  In a gleeful spree we happily made it so difficult to run this state that we are now enjoying the fruits of our labors.  So, dear fellow Californians, read ’em and weep.

But since you won’t take responsibility for the mess, let’s see who else we can blame.  The Governor?  No, I think he’s been an honest broker and keeps trying to be a mediator.  The Democrats?  Sure, they’re at fault for slashing expenditures, negotiating regressive tax increases and believing that those concessions would make the other guys come to their senses.

Three days ago after some nail biting negotiating between leaders of both parties, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat, said “I’m very confident the governor will have this budget on his desk tomorrow morning.”  It’s Tuesday evening and the Eagle hasn’t landed.  Republicans, with their 1/3 minority are holding out for Armageddon.  It isn’t enough that the Democrats with their 2/3 majority have agreed to…

—$8.6 billion dollars of reductions to education while California is already the 49th lowest spender per pupil in the country.

—$1.3 billion in reductions to human services including cuts to monthly checks for the aged, blind and disabled.

—$880 million in cuts to higher education including a 10% reduction for the UC systems.

—$208 million in reductions to health-care funding, including the elimination of dental coverage for Medi-Cal recipients.

As if the dollar cuts weren’t enough, the Republicans also got…

—A $770 million reduction to the taxes paid by multi-state corporations.

—Environmental concessions, including a delay in the implementation of new air pollution requirements on diesel engines (cough, choke.)

—A spate of tax increases that impact those least able to pay.

Not good enough, they said.  We don’t care what our leadership negotiated for in good faith.  We signed a pre-election pledge not to support tax increases…and you know how important our pledge is.  No, we want more cuts to balance the budget.  Screw the tax increases.  Take it from the school kids or the blind guys.  Close the DMV…who needs a driver’s license anyway.  And if that doesn’t balance the budget, take away our cars, our per diems and cut our salary by two-thirds (I thought of this final idea.)

In reality, the Republicans are afraid of losing their jobs.  Their constituents would surely vote them out of office…and elect other dedicated Republicans who think more of  their job security than what the people of this state need.  But next time let’s make their replacements wear masks.  No sense having to guess who’s trying to rob us.




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