Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Definition of Asynchrony

As the Iowa primary looms near, and as the country recovers from another remarkable season of cheer and good will toward all, the asynchrony of it all causes one to pause and reflect on what is real and on what should be real. First, as the Iowa deadline approaches, the pack of Republican candidates are gorging themselves on the weaknesses of fellow candidates in a manner remarkably reminiscent of the gang of kids in Lord of the Flies which has as its main theme the distinctions between civilization and savagery. Who and what to attack next appears to be the strategy of each candidate in constant no-holds barred deviations from Reagan’s 11th commandment; Thou shall not speak badly of other Republicans. I must admit that after 70+Christmas seasons I have become a little jaded about our society’s gifting thing which tends to obliterate the “real” meaning of the pulse within all of us to reach out to others, but what is going on in Iowa is repugnant in all respects. For example, who could possibly be impressed by this gang lining up to try to impress Iowans with their Christian values and principles? Wait, did I say that wrong? The chief idea floating around Iowa at the moment is that the most important consideration a voter should consider is how conservative and Christian a candidate is. In America? The country which has as its most basic founding principle this matter of separation of church and state? As Dick Vitale, the sports announcer would say, “You’ve got it baby.”

But there is more, while proclaiming the authenticity of their respective Christian merits, each of the candidates is outdoing others by suggesting that the other mortal candidates running against them are somehow unworthy because they are not Christian enough (i.e. Gingrich with his multiple infidelities and marriages or Romney because he is not a Christian at all). Earlier in this diatribe I have used the word “asynchrony.” I like the word. I don’t think I have ever used the word before, but it just popped into my mind while I was trying to mesh the incongruity of what we are witnessing in Iowa during this Christmas season. But there is a definite asynchrony is what is going on out there when a candidate says his position is completely different now than it was two, three, five, or ten years ago while at the same time attacking a fellow candidate for positions held twenty years ago. Christine O’Donnell, the love of the Tea Party, gave us the best example of asynchrony in action when she endorsed Romney and dealt with his flip-flopping saying that “That’s one of the things that I like about him — because he’s been consistent since he changed his mind.”

Now I understand what I don’t understand

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Usually when I write one of my blogs I figure out what the title is going to be before I actually sit down and write what I want to say. I look for something pithy, or cute, or cutting, or grandiose. My purpose is to get the attention of a reader and grab that attention long enough until my entire blog is read.

Something I read this morning in the NYT has triggered something deeper. Joe Arpaio has been the renegade sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona for a long time, and in my mind, has been most famous for keeping jail inmates wearing pink underwear and uniforms while enclosed in small tent cities subject to the rash elements. Today it Is reported in a letter summarizing a three year long investigation by the U. S. Justice Department that charged the sheriff with long standing invidious discrimination against Latinos. For example, as reported, “The letter said Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely than non-Latinos to be stopped on Maricopa County roads. It noted many examples of arbitrary and unlawful immigration crackdowns, of crime sweeps initiated not because of crime, but because the office had received reports of people with “dark skin” or speaking Spanish. (One such raid was conducted in Sun City, a retirement community, two weeks after Sheriff Arpaio received a letter complaining that employees at a McDonald’s there did not speak English.) After finishing reading about Sherriff Arpaio’s misdeeds, I fancied myself writing a blog entitled “What do you expect?” The gist of this potential blog was going to be along the lines of “nothing should surprise us when it comes to this guy.” But the Justice Department letter triggered something deeper. It also noted that the good Sheriff did many of these things with the blessing of the Department of Homeland Security (a name which still brings shivers to my spine for its neo-Orwellian implications).

Now I digress to note that within the past month Congress has passed a law enabling the president of these United States to arrest and imprison any American citizen without legal recourse for what could be alleged as terrorist activity or support. Throw in a little thinking like Gingrich’s manufactured Palestinians (i.e. borderline crazy thinking) and acquiescence to Sheriff A’s conduct (already well-documented) and one does not have to go to far to conclude that a writer of blogs in America might conceivably be imprisoned and stashed away for life by a president who simply disagrees with what the blogger writes and seizes the writer under the rubric of terrorist activity or assistance. The statute, as passed, gives the writer no relief whatsoever, no guarantee of judicial review, no utilization of the principles of our society that are based on the rule of law, nothing whatsoever.

Now, I must digress further. During my career as a trial lawyer, I would assess and present cases to juries in terms of conduct of drug corporations and doctors as violative of red lights. For example, Eli Lilly and Co. violated a red light in the marketing of the drug Oraflex in 1983. The company ignored the red light of 400 deaths of elderly people in the United Kingdom and the concerns of the physician hired by Lilly who warned that the dosage of the drug was too high and thus toxic to the elderly. Lilly simply went ahead and marketed the drug in the United States and killed an additional 3000 people without telling anybody, FDA, physicians, or users, about this red flag.

To allow a single individual of the United Sates, i.e. the president, to snatch someone off the streets of America without explanation and imprison that person without any legal recourse whatsoever, is stupid, unconstitutional and dangerous on its face. That is the red flag about which I write; The need to modify what I say or think or write lest I BE THE ONE WHO IS TAKEN AWAY. This is creepy, scary stuff.

P.S. to read what one U.S. Senator (Al Franken) thinks about this issue, go to

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All Potato, No Meat

To those who know me, they think of me as a thoughtful commentator on various matters of public importance. To those who don't know me, but think they do, they consider me an outrageous left wing nut job who is interested in promoting socialism and other left wing nut job socialists like the Kenyan Barack Hussein Obama. Looking at it from another perspective, those who disagree with me, by and large, tend to do so with what I call Fox talking points; i.e. all potato but no meat (substance). The vitriolic comments really soared recently when I called the current crop of Republican presidential candidates "bat-s___t crazy." It peaked when I presented my opinion of a hypothetical interview with the potential next first lady, Callista Gingrich. (More sophisticated readers may have realized that I purposely misspelled her first name to signify that she should get the "l" out of here.)

It was refreshing, therefore, to read over the past few weeks that George Will, David Brooks and other leading conservative commentators in various muted tones agree with my assessment. Today I report that the staunch conservative journal, The National Review, came over to the dark side (as the Fox policy wonks are won't to call the likes of me): I take the liberty of including the verbatim report of an editorial from The National Review which issued a stinging critique of Newt Gingrich on Wednesday, saying his character flaws make him unfit to be president and asking Republicans to “reject a hasty marriage” to the front-running candidate.

As reported in today's New York Times:

“Gingrich has always said he wants to transform the country. He appears unable to transform, or even govern, himself,” the editorial says of Mr. Gingrich, who served as speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. “He should be an adviser to the Republican Party, but not again its head.”

"The nearly 1,200-word editorial in the current issue comes as Mr. Gingrich has moved to the top of most polls of the Republican field after a string of impressive debate performances and after other conservative candidates, like Herman Cain and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, have either pulled out of the race or lost their luster among the right.

"The editorial praises Mr. Gingrich’s unexpected comeback from afterthought to front-runner: “Just a few months ago his campaign seemed dead after a series of gaffes and resignations. That Gingrich now tops the polls is a tribute to his perseverance, and to Republicans’ admiration for his intellectual fecundity.”

"But nominating Mr. Gingrich, the editorial warns, could weaken the party’s chances of putting its candidate in the White House, squandering what the writers say is a time of “uncharacteristic” unity, when conservatives are in “consensus about most of the pressing issues of the day.”

"“We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity.”

"It continues: “His character flaws — his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas — made him a poor Speaker of the House. Again and again he combined incendiary rhetoric with irresolute action, bringing Republicans all the political costs of a hardline position without actually taking one. Again and again he put his own interests above those of the causes he championed in public.”

"It references Mr. Gingrich’s personal life (“very few people with a personal history like his — two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses — have ever tried running for president”) and says that he was, during his tenure as speaker, “one of the most unpopular figures in public life.”

"The editorial latches on to what it sees as Mr. Gingrich’s unchanged behavior, the same behavior that led his party to a devastating midterm election loss, and to his following resignation in 1998 amid ethics questions, despite assurances from his aides and advisers that Mr. Gingrich has “conquered his dark side,” it says. “There is reason to doubt that he has changed,” it says, citing a series of out of context quotations from Mr. Gingrich where he seems to flip-flop on statements or appear egotistical.

"“Enough,” the editorial says.

"Mr. Gingrich is not the only candidate skewered. Of Gov. Rick Perry, the editorial says, “conservatism should not choose a standard-bearer who would have to spend much of his time untying his own tongue.” It also cites Representative Michele Bachmann’s “casual repetition of false anti-vaccine rumors” and Representative Ron Paul’s “re-dabbling in vile conspiracy theories about September 11” as reasons they are unsuitable candidates.

"It concludes: “We will render further judgments in the weeks to come as the candidates continue to make their cases and are, just perhaps, joined by new candidates. At the moment we think it important to urge Republicans to have the good sense to reject a hasty marriage to Gingrich, which would risk dissolving in acrimony.”"

Now we finally have some meat with those potatoes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Personal Interview with Calista Gingrich

One of the advantages of being a self-motivated and disciplined blogger is to have unfettered access to famous people, or sometimes famous people, or wannabe famous people. In the instant case I have tried without success so far to reach Calista for an interview, so I must now resort to the next best thing; an imaginary interview with the possible next first lady of our land. I would expect that the interview would go something like this;

Mrs. Gingrich, As you may know, it is common for wives of our presidents to take up specific causes as part of their efforts as first ladies. For example, Michelle Obama has taken up the cause of helping children understand the benefits of eating healthy foods. Have you given any thought to what special projects you might offer to America if and when you become first lady?

Yes I have. The moment Newtie is sworn in the first thing we will do is take a two week cruise to Greece to reduce the stress he will undoubtedly face as president. On our return I will begin to dedicate all my efforts to establish a series of homeless shelters for women who have been abandoned by philandering husbands. As you may be aware I have considerable experience in this area having observed firsthand the effects on Newtie’s second wife when he abandoned her to marry me. I am also aware of the devastating effects on Newtie’s first wife when he abandoned her to marry his second wife. Since Newtie’s and my conversions to Catholicism which, by the way, completely absolves us of any blame or responsibility for our former actions, I have realized that these poor women need a homeless shelter and counseling where they can shed their tears and share their fears.

What advice would you give the young women of America insofar as dating married politicians?

First of all, I resent the implication that Newtie was a politician when I first started dating him during his second marriage. He was the Speaker of the House for God’s sake. He was beyond politics. He is a historian. Now back to your question,. I would advise all the young women of America to make common sense decisions when selecting a politician to conduct an affair with. The first decision is to ask oneself is that is this cad you are dating marriage material or is it more likely that he will dump you when the sex gets stale and go back to living with his wife? I might add that the advantage I had with Newtie was his track record at the time our affair began. I knew it was just a simple matter of time that history would repeat itself and he would dump wife number two for me just like he had dumped wife number one for her. After all, as I said Newtie is a historian.

Don’t you think that a young woman could simply conduct an affair with a politician for fun?

Having an affair is not about fun. It is business pure and simple. Why else would Newtie have a running account for $500,000 at Tiffany’s. I do love my jewelry. One of my favorite things to do is to place my latest piece of jewelry on the bedside table and leave the light on while Newtie has his way with me. I can always turn my head to look at the gems to remind myself what my life is really all about.

Thanks for your time. Best wishes.

A. Thank you. By the way, here’s my private number. Call me any time. Newtie will be out of town a lot and I would really enjoy your company.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nutjobs Result in Consequences

This has been the craziest presidential primary season that I can remember. Virtually all of the current Republican candidates have a major issue or two hovering over their heads calling into serious question the issue of fitness; that is to say, fitness to be the leader of the modern world’s largest and, to date, most successful democracy. The prevailing theme of each of the current crop of candidates (except for, perhaps, Paul and Huntsman) comes right out of the Tea Party playbook. Romney, as an example, has had to completely redefine himself and disavow nearly every damn thing he stood for as a (good) Massachusetts Republican governor. Then we have the current frontrunner, Newt, who has had nearly a life long association with Washington, claiming to be the anti-Washington Christ-child.

But I digress. Let me write a bit about Florida and a specific situation that Tea Party thinking has brought to bear on American citizens in that state. Florida, like all other states, gives its residents preferential treatment insofar as the costs of tuition for a college education. It is Florida, home to nearly one million Cuban refugees and their descendants, that has come up with perhaps the most bizarre and pointless anti-immigrant policy of all. Beginning last year, the state’s higher education authorities have been treating American citizens born in the United States, including graduates of Florida high schools who have spent their entire lives in the state, as non-residents for tuition purposes if they can’t demonstrate that their parents are in the country legally. Think about it. All of us sitting cozily in our safe and secure domiciles and who might want to go back and take a college course or two would have to demonstrate that our parents (at our age probably deceased) were in the country legally. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea as to how to go about doing that. A student at the University of Florida who is a natural born citizen of the United States and a life long resident of the state of Florida who currently pay $5700 yearly tuition and cannot demonstrate that his/her parents are in the country legally would have to pay $27,936 annually to continue his/her education. The same policy, although at lesser rates, applies throughout the college educational system in Florida, including junior colleges.

The major point of today’s blog is to point out that now might be a good time to reflect on what this Tea Party adventure has brought to society at the moment and allow us to decide whether or not voters want to continue on this path so we get more of the same, or to soundly reject the current insanity and restore this nation to the core beliefs that make it so special. In the background of all this, please remember, my Republican friends, that you may get what you ask for if you support these blunderheads.