THIS President and YOU People Lost the Election. BIG Time.

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Prelude:  I almost titled this post “The Fall of the Plutocrats’ Prejudiced Pronouns.”  What held me back, though, was the fear that if someone pronounced my clever alliteration out loud, they might get saliva on their computer/tablet/smartphone screen.  Since this is the beginning of the cold and influenza season, I decided to restrain myself in the service of good public hygiene.  Oh, do remember to cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm or your shoulder.  The viral laden droplets are far less apt to be transmitted to another when you offer that hearty handshake of yours.  And for crying out loud, stop being a wuss and go get a flu shot, too.  And wash your hands!

THIS and YOU: Pronouns of the Rich and…and…and…?

The leaders of the Right (the political and ideological right, that is), both formally and virtually, have consistently referred to Barack Obama as “THIS” president. Ann Romney, the now former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife, upped the rhetorical ante during the campaign by referring to the country’s population as “YOU” people, by which she apparently meant the 99% of we mere plebes who lacked any cache’ conveyed by filthy-richness have no right to believe anything beyond what we are told by those who, after all, really matter: The ONE percent at the top of the socioeconomic marble staircase. From their lofty perspective, the expectation of unquestioning subservience applies just as much to those underlings of their own party, in this case the GOP, not just the 47% of the unwashed masses who weren’t going to vote for Romney anyway because they were too busy not paying any taxes or doing anything substantive or “responsible” to care for themselves.

As one who studied the power of rhetoric during his doctoral work, I found the Conservatives’ use of the pronouns “this” and” you” revealing in the sense of standing next to a rock wall and suddenly having an invisible door open.  Casting aside all caution for fear of being swept back into the Republicanism I have been in recovery from for close to a decade, I stepped over the threshold.  What a mess!  Just don’t tell anybody.

The Republicans have been referring to THE president as THIS president virtually from the day he was first sworn into office in 2009.  I contend the use of this particular pronoun was intended to be an objectivist put-down in most cases, to be both denigrating and condescending. For some, though, it is a subtle but rhetorically obvious statement based on the racial prejudice of the speaker.  I think it can be suggested that it is the modern euphemism of the discredited term, “boy.”  In some people the choice of the pronoun is not due to conscious thought so much as an expression of a kind of group-speak, although it carries the same rhetorical effect–a sarcastic slur.  The emotional effect and intent is to place a linguistic wedge between the man, in this case, Barack Obama, and the office that he holds, which happens to be President of the United States; it is intended to communicate that in the opinion of speaker, the person in possession of, again, in this case, the Oval Office is not legitimately entitled to be there. That is because he is __________ (fill in the blank).

The use of the pronoun “THIS” as a pejorative has been rampant amongst the GOP leadership for both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  In fact, I would go far as to state that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard Rep. John Boehner, Rep Eric Cantor, and their Senate counterparts, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Kyl use the phrase, “THIS president,” I’d probably be richer than Karl Rove (who loves to use the pronoun, as well), who now has nothing more useful to do than to count the fees he made off the hundreds of millions of dollars he conned from the billionaire marks to defeat not just Pres. Obama, but also numerous Democratic senators and representatives, which, as we know now, was a complete waste of money.  I’m just certain Karl doesn’t have to give back his undoubtedly very big commissions despite all those losses he suffered at the hands of the American Voter.  But I digress.  Well, I do have to ask, “Hey Karl, how’s that Citizens United thingy working out for you these days?”

As I wrote earlier in the blog regarding Ann Romney’s rhetorical use of “YOU people” the same point is evident.  With recent reports coming out of The Netherlands of how Bain and Romney are alleged to have laundered millions in profits through the Dutch financial maze and in all likelihood avoided paying tens of millions of dollars in U.S. Taxes, it appears to be crystal clear why Mrs. Romney didn’t want to have those facts come to light. Especially to YOU people!  Not only is Romney very possibly indictable for felony tax evasion against the United States, it also would mean that the ten percent Mr. Romney has claimed he has given to the LDS as required by its church rules during those years was millions of dollars short.  Salt Lake would not be amused.

With such a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads and campaign, Mrs Romney had to resort to the only weapon she had at hand, a stinging verbal rebuke of the underlings for even daring to raise the question.  We the people—or in her rhetoric, “YOU people” are not worthy to be privy to the true financial records of the Great and Powerful Oz…er, uh, Rom. I am fairly certain that to this day she believes she put the entire nation in its place—once and for all.  They never did release their true tax returns for the ten years that has become the standard for presidential and vice presidential candidates.  Romney even required his running mate, the most unfortunate, Rep. Paul Ryan, to provide those documents to the Campaign as he was being vetted to be Romney’s running mate, but it seems suspiciously apparent to me that what was good for the goose was not good for the gander.

For me, the great irony of this election is that the Lords of plutocracy put forth a mighty cry, a bunch of bucks and a candidate that had all the personality of a Madam Tussaud’s wax museum figure, and they pretty much lost it all.  I find it hard, well, close to impossible, to be honest, to have any sympathy for their plight.

The election is over.  America is still in the hands of the people who count, not THOSE people* who thought they could buy it and own it, with the rest of us being subservient to their plutocratic will.

*Sorry, just couldn’t resist that one!

Mitt Romney is Four Years Old

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I am sitting on my couch listening to Mitt Romney give his acceptance speech as the Republican nominee for President the United States.  What strikes me (as it has with other speeches I have listened to from the Republican National Convention) is that unlike scientific creationists who at least believe that the universe is a scant 6000 years old, Mitt Romney and the Republicans believe the universe is four years old.  Four years old.

Nothing in the universe existed before 2008 (shouldn’t that be year 0004?) in the GOP cosmos.  No universe, no galaxy, no solar system, no earth, no America.  It all spontaneously came into existence the moment President Barack Obama took office.

In the Republican cosmos according to Mitt Romney, nothing came into existence until Barack Obama became President of the United States. Four years ago.

That’s it.  In their cosmology all the ills America is facing are the directly the result of four short years.  Since nothing existed before that time, the Republicans and Mitt Romney believe there is nothing for which they have to take responsibility.

There is only one conclusion I can draw from Mitt Romney’s speech: The GOP is only four years old, therefore Mitt Romney is only four years old.

As a progressive and a Democrat I have news for them.  We live in a universe that is nearly thirteen billion years old, the solar system is four and a half billion years old, America is 236 years old, and four years ago when Barack Obama took office, the economy he inherited had been worn threadbare and emaciated by years of Republican living high on the hog, passing bills and conducting wars with unfunded mandates.  They are the ones who drove our economy into the ground, not President Obama.

And don’t the Democrats bear responsibility for their version of bad legislation in the past?  Of course they do.  What they don’t claim, however, is that the universe began with George W. Bush.  FDR, maybe, but not Dubya. (For the satire-challenged, that was it.)

Mr. Romney, since you are only four years old, you do not meet the Constitutional minimum age of 35 to be President of the United States.  Neither are your Republican toddler companions.  That goes for your running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan–a disciple of Ayn Rand, an atheist objectivist–along with Rep. John Boehner, so-called Speaker of the House who has raised obstructionist political shenanigans to the highest levels ever seen in the history of the Republic, and finally Mitch McConnell, minority leader of the Senate, who for the past four years–again that toddler age–has not one day done his job as a senator to govern but has dedicated is every breath to the defeat of the President.

America needs a mature adult in the White House.  That adult is Barack Obama.  He lives in the real world with a clear sense of history, both the good and bad.  And without a clear sense of history, there can be no clear sense of the future.  That is America–true Americans have never wavered from that clarity!

Boehner Blink?

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Question #1 regarding the Federal Budget Debt Ceiling Limit Talks is are we hurtling toward a disaster on August 2?

Although the actuality for the U.S. Government and economy (depending on which pundits you choose to believe), may be more political than a real fiscal disaster, the political war of words has escalated to an incredible intensity.

Anyone paying the least attention to the rhetorical clashes between the political parties–and their internal factions–knows that the positions on both sides have been hardening, although perhaps ossifying (even fossilizing) might be more appropriate.

August 2, 2011 has become an temporal Great Wall of China (yes, I get the irony of the comparison).  Imagine two opposing armies charging headlong toward it from different directions, oblivious to fact the wall is not going to move.  Even though they hit the wall at the same time, the damage they inflict upon themselves will be enormous.  Evidently, only in the split second after the crushing blow of charging warriors into the wall begins, will the generals of both armies realize the magnitude of their mistake.  The Wall, though, won’t be hurt much at all.

In this game of chicken with an unmovable object, however, something unexpected has just happened.  Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, perhaps, has blinked. The New York Times reports (9 July):

Citing differences over tax revenues, House Speaker John A. Boehner said on Saturday night that he would pull back from joint efforts with President Obama to reach a sweeping $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan tied to a proposal to increase the federal debt limit.

Huh.

Now.  Who’s paying attention?  Will the Republicans, both the Mainline and the Tea Party factions trust Boehner’s judgment and unexpected move?  Is their iron-will to resist compromise, in the end, a strategy they can hold up as a prize, not only in congress but with their base?

Will the Democrats pull back from their headlong rush into the wall as well, and trust that the President’s growing pressure on Boehner to soften his position is having an affect that will meet their political goals regarding the deficit cap, as well as those for the Federal Budget and the economy in general?

We’re going to find out in just a few days.

Sniffer Report: AHIP Pushed the Button and…

The Sniffer

The Sniffer

e=mc2 (Excessive-influence = moola x congressional-greed squared)

America’s Health Insurance Plans pushed the button on their “nuclear option” bomb to blast health care reform into oblivion.  The safety was released, the countdown went to zero, and “click!”

This is what AHIP and Big Medicine wanted to hear:

bravo_test_s atomic mushroom cloud(Click on the photo)

Instead they heard this, from the President of the United States:

In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.

Don’t think for one second that AHIP has conceded or surrendered.  As the bills move through the process of being reconciled, the intensity of the pressure on Congress and YOU and ME, will intensify into a political nuclear storm, the likes of which we have never seen.  The days before the final votes in the Senate and the House will be filled with a Big Medicine-financed noise that would turn an Orc to stone.

President Obama, however, did not stop there:

Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition. Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.

I repeat here what I posted on August 15, 2009:

There are times in the history of a nation, that certain reforms, regardless of the opposition, and, yes, even despite the fears of some must be overcome and guaranteed for all as part of the Common Good.  One of those times was the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery.  One of those times was the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States granting women the right to vote.  One of those times was Brown v. The Board of Education decision of the United States Supreme Court that revolutionized equality in education for all U. S. citizens.  Many more could be mentioned.

Now is the time for health care to be added to those moments of sublime national change, to join those great reforms, cast as the finest, hardest steel into our Nation of Laws as an inalienable right and an eternal Blessing of Liberty.


The Public Plan–Is Obama Capitulating or is This a Feint?

The media is all a-twitter (pun intended) over touting the demise of the Public Option in the Health Care Reform legislation, as if it were sliding toward the edge of the negotiating table ready to dribble over like a melted popcicle.  On the news I must have seen the clip where the President calls the plan just a “sliver” of the whole reform effort a dozen times.  Pundits are in full obituary mode.  Even the New York Times, a staunch supporter of the Public Option, is grief stricken.  Bob Herbert, in his column for August 18th, wrote,

The hope of a government-run insurance option is all but gone. So there will be no effective alternative for consumers in the market for health coverage, which means no competitive pressure for private insurers to rein in premiums and other charges. (Forget about the nonprofit cooperatives. That’s like sending peewee footballers up against the Super Bowl champs.)

It’s over.  The insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank.  The clink of expensive brandy snifters raised in countless boardroom toasts is reverberating across the country.  The corporate jets are warming up on the  tarmac, ’cause it’s fiesta time for Big Medicine!

Have you heard Rep. John Boehner or Sen. Mitch McConnell whine about anything significant this week?  Have the shout-down disrupters in the Town Hall meetings gotten more strident?  Are the “experts” on Fox and CNN actually agreeing?  I even heard a PBS contributor use the term “panic” when referring to the president’s health care strategy.  Is Tom DeLay going to be on Dancing with the Stars?  I mean, if Tom DeLay “The Hammer” who almost certainly has been consulting with his Republican clients about how to kill the Public Option, has time to, well, uh, trip the light fantastic  on national TV, can there be any hope?  UPDATE: Chris Matthews, host of  “Hardball”  just named DeLay, “Twinkle Toes.”  I’m not kidding–check the transcript on MSNBC  for 8/18.

Hmm.   Well, I’m suspicious.  You see, in the days before the election (when Extreme Thinkover was still in its infancy) I posted a blog stating one of the most difficult things Americans would have to come to terms with, if Barack Obama won, would be the presence of a very smart president as president:

Make no mistake, this will be a shock to Americans if Barack Obama is elected, not because he is African-American, a Democrat, a liberal, or in the eyes of some, the Anti-Christ, but because he is smart.  That’s right, I said it plain and simple.  Barack Obama is a smart person, well educated, and has an intrinsic capacity for deep analytical thinking.

Now, I knew this would be a shock to Republicans, who had basked in George Bush’s inability to compose a coherent sentence, and Dick Cheney’s ability to snarl his victims into stone-like fear for the past eight years.  I, however, underestimated how much of a shock this would be to Democrats, who voted for Obama.  But I admit now that the Democrats in Congress are as much in shock.  They can’t seem to figure out to do with their success, AND a president that thinks complex thoughts and speaks, well, college-level English.

Back to health care reform.  I’m just thinking.  Why would a really smart politician like Barack Obama just waffle around on one of the key ideas of his health care plan?  Yes, I know, he can’t control all the political variables, and having majorities in both houses of Congress takes a while to get the kinks worked out.

So, is the dust-up over the Public Option the result of an inexperienced president, a disorganized president, a whatever president–panicked, sold out, capitulating?

Like John Stewart said, “I can’t tell if you’re a Jedi and ten steps ahead of this thing?”

Or maybe is this president well aware of this game of chess played on a shifting, multi-dimensional board, with changing rules and players, and working out his strategies many moves in advance, letting the different gambits and forays play themselves out, knowing full well what his end game will be and when to pull that trigger?

Capitulation or a calculated feint by a very smart man, who happens to hold the highest office in the land and is determined to get what he wants?

My take: Jedi Master and the Public Option: Yes.

Cheney: Violating the Code of Ethics for Retired Ministers…And the Tradition of Respect Held Sacred by Former U.S. Chief Executives

Every professional association that I have belonged to has a Code of Ethics.  It is one of the hallmarks that not only defines what the profession stands for but also guarantees to the public, whether customer, client, patient, parishioner or whomever, the standard by which that professional will act with integrity.

In light of recent comments by former vice president Dick Cheney blasting the new administration’s policies on national security, I wondered if there was a Code of Ethics that applies to the the nation’s two top executives?

In an interview on CNN (quoted in the NY Times), Mr Cheney said,cheney-snarl

“He is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack,” Mr. Cheney said of Mr. Obama in an interview on the CNN program “State of the Union.”

UPDATE:  March 29, 2009:  Today, on the CNN Political Ticker website both U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke and Gen. David Patraeus take issue with Cheney’s inappropriate comments and breach of professional ethics by spouting off about the Obama administration’s changes on national security.

UPDATE #2: March 29, 2009:  The fallout from Dick Cheney’s unethical criticism of the Obama administration continues to generate backlash.  Former President Bush made this statement in response to a question about Cheney’s remarks:

“He deserves my silence. I love my country a lot more than I love politics. I think it is essential that he be helped in office.”

I spent an evening Googling and scouring Wikipedia, but came up with, well, not a thing.  Now,  maybe I missed it; and there are laws that apply to federal employees.  Just about every state in the Union has a code of Ethics for its Executive Branch.  President Obama signed into law a new code for his administration in January.  And, of course, there is the United States Constitution, but we all know that Cheney never let a little thing like that interfere with anything he decided he was right about.

But a code of ethics that applies specifically to the president and vice president of the United States apparently has never been written. (If there is a code of ethics either historically enforced, or currently in place, not including Obama’s new one, I’d love to read it.  Send it to me!).

You might ask, “So what?”  As an ordained minister, one of the conditions of my standing with my church, the Disciples of Christ, I have to abide by a Ministerial Code of Ethics.  All major denominations have such codes.  That code is structured so the pastor not only ministers in an ethical manner during the time he or she is serving a congregation, but also after the person has left to serve another local church or retired from active service.  Pastors develop a strong rapport with their members, and when they leave to work at another church, even if it is one across town, the pastor is responsible for maintaining the professional boundaries so the new minister can work freely to develop a new trust and rapport with the church.

The same principle is true for when a minister retires.  While I was in seminary, I was the youth minister for a church whose senior pastor had retired after over thirty years at that church.  Even though the church was located in a city of nearly three million people and the retired minister moved to another part of town, he did not set up and strictly abide by those ethical boundaries.  The new senior pastor, with whom I worked, was constantly having to “defend” his actions to those members who were calling the old pastor and getting a sympathetic ear.  It was a lose-lose situation.  A year after I had graduated from seminary, the church fired the senior minister.  In all honesty, he never had a chance to succeed.

Here are the two statements that are relevant to this discussion from the Ministerial Code of Ethics:

  • supporting and at no time speaking maliciously of the ministry of my predecessor or another minister in the congregation in which I hold membership;
  • encouraging the ministry of my successor upon my retirement or other departure from a ministry position, without interfering or intruding, and by making it clear to former parishioners that I am no longer their pastor.

With these two precepts so deeply engrained in my professional life, I find Mr. Cheney’s statements inexcuseable.  Because I believe he so blatantly violated the trust of the American people in his open disdain for the United States Constituion, as well  as the Oath of Office he took as Vice President, in his retirement, he should remain silenced for the rest of his life.  He has violated the Code of Ethics by both interfering and intruding with the actions of his successors.  He is no longer our vice president and I thank God he was never our pastor.

The Strength of the American Soul

My daughter, Bethany, was at President Obama’s inauguration.  With a ticket.  We sent her a text message during the festivities:  “I see the dignitaries, I hear the band, but I can’t see you.  Wave for me!”, and later, “They’re taking a satellite picture of the Mall.  Be sure to smile!” (Check her blog for all her adventures!  View her Flickr inauguration slide show here.)

Satellite Image of the Capital Mall Crowd at Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Satellite Image of the Capital Mall Crowd at Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Photo Credit: GeoEye and MSNBC.com

Yes, it has been a joyous day.  A joyous day!

Welcome, President Barack Obama.  This man most improbable!

The largest crowd in inaugural history.  One estimate says 1.9 million in the Mall.  The National Park Service is going to make an exception about not counting and crowds and count the crowd.

I looked at the crowd.  I thought about the crowd.  Humor me, here.  Think about the crowd for a moment.  Think hard.  What was distinctive about this crowd? Not its historical presence.  That’s obvious.  We’ll all remember the pictures of the crowd, along with where we were on this day.

Look closely:

Obama Inauguration Crowd and U.S. Capital Building

Obama Inauguration Crowd and U.S. Capital Building

Photo Credit: AP & BBC.com

Here’s what I see.  1.9 million individuals who each made a decision to attend.  Not one person was there because he or she was forced to attend to support the regime or the politburo or to create an illusion of unanimity for the global television audience.

They came because they could.  They came because they wanted to.  They came driven by a personal odyssey with a million different reasons.  They came because to ignore the call to stand there at that time would diminish them for the rest of their lives.  And for those of us who did not walk onto the Capital Mall?  Were we diminished?  Not in the least, for they were our proxy.  E pluribus Unum.  One out of many.  We are the Union.

The strength of the American soul is not our Constitution, our laws, or our branches of government.  They are all essential tools.  The strength of the American soul, the very genius of the American experiment, is that we do not fear to gather. Yes, I know, we are not perfect at that, although on this day we proved the walls of racism are crumbling.   And on this day, when Barack Obama took the oath of office, those walls mortared by fear seemed to be dissolving before our very eyes.

How many millions around the world, fearing for their lives or to avoid arrest, secretly watched or listened to our moment in history, aching for just one moment of that freedom of decision, of will, of assembly?

We gathered without fear. No one feared for their lives.  No one was even arrested.

Our soul as a nation is stronger today.  We should not be altogether surprised, for we gather every four years for the great Presidential Inauguration rituals.  But our world is so different than it was even eight years ago.  We face tyrants who use brutality and fear all over the world to weaken us, who strike from the shade, who love the rule of death to divide, isolate, and frighten us from gathering at all.

Today they failed.  They failed by underestimating the strength of the American soul.  Our will to gather is so strong, that we prepared to defeat the most nefarious action they could imagine.  We gathered.  Prepared.  In a peaceable assembly of millions.  Without fear.

Our soul as a nation is stronger today.  The world knows it.  Most importantly, we know it.