Archive for March, 2014

There are two things John Boehner cannot do: Lead the House majority and fake outrage. Yesterday was no exception, as the House Shrieker took to the podium to decry the president’s decision to allow people a little more time to complete the health care enrollment process. He tried to look angry, but all that accomplished was to make him glow an odd shade of orange (apologies to my Loompa friends). You can view the video here courtesy of The Washington Post.

Now whenever Mr. Boehner gets in front of the camera, it is best to picture him as he really is, a marionette dancing on the strings of his Tea Party puppeteers. He just jerks and dances, his hands and legs flailing and his lips flapping up and down as the masters make it appear that he is speaking. It is quite masterful.

Yesterday’s pageant started as the Obama Administration decided to extend the deadline for Affordable Care Act applications to April 15th. This was prompted by an exceptional spike in applications as the end of March approached. Over 5 million people have already enrolled and the demand is so high that it is causing a backlog in processing. For this reason, the president has extended the deadline for people who have already began the process but could not finalize it by March 31. The Wooden Speaker was outraged!

So, dressed in his usual red nose and orange glow, Johnny danced onto the stage to declare “HELL NO YOU DON’T!” (Oh, wait, that was another show. Sorry.) Actually, John had this to say about the new deadline: “Last night brought us yet another delay of Obamacare, another deadline made meaningless. As if he hasn’t put enough loopholes into the law already, the administration is now resorting to an honor system to enforce it,”  An honor system, imagine that. What an outrageous concept, honor.

He went on to mouth: “The law says that enrollment stops at the end of March. That’s what the law says. I’ve got to live by the law, you’ve got to live by the law, the American people have got to live by the law and guess what? The President needs to live by the law as well.” (Waterboarding, anyone?) Oh, that evil dictator Obama, wanting everyone to have access to health care.

Now, let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we. Anyone who remembers the good old days of the Bush Administrations roll out of Medicare Part D, life was no picnic then either. As Think Progress pointed out yesterday, in 2006, when the botched roll out of Bush’s prescription plan caused similar backlogs, he extended the enrollment deadline for six months. SIX MONTHS! Not 2 weeks. But alas, back then times were different. The president was a republican, and John Boehner was not yet fitted for his strings. So he lay in his marionette box, silent on the Bush Administration’s not living by the law. Oh, and the Tea Party hadn’t been invented yet, so no puppeteer was available anyway.

But these are different times and this is a different congress. Led by the Marionette of the House, John Boehner, this congress has been dedicated to opposing anything Obama. Point out that his has been the least productive House in modern history, and Johnny scoffs. After all, they have voted 50 times to repeal Obamacare. At least that’s a new achievement in futility,

Have no illusions, republicans are vary afraid. They are afraid that Obamacare is working. They are afraid that people will like it. They are afraid they are on the wrong side of history. They are afraid that people will no longer be amused by their marionette show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past Sunday afternoon, after taping The Tim Corrimal Show, which I do most every Sunday, the participants in the round table chatted for a while. Our guests on the show were Seth Pajak of VEGANesp Blog and author of the must read book “Wrapped in the Flag”, Claire Conner. As Seth and Claire spoke of their upbringing with conservative parents, I was struck by the contrast with my own. While they were survivors of conservative households, I was the radical evolution of a liberal activist mother. As we spoke, I recalled the story of my mom, and how she became involved in Democratic politics and thus inspired me.

My mother was a child of Italian immigrants. Her story, like millions her age at the time, was one of struggle and sacrifice. She wanted to be an actress on Broadway, but in the throes of the Great Depression, such dreams fall victim to the struggle to survive. She and her siblings did everything to make ends meet, even when those ends seemed light years apart. She picked blueberries, cleaned houses after school, and did anything else she could to contribute.

When she was sixteen years old, my mom took a job as a waitress in a local hotel. It was mundane work for such an ambitious young girl, but it had a paycheck at the end of the week. Every day she served meals her family could never enjoy to earn money for the meager existence they shared at home. She did it eagerly, and she did it with love.

So it happened one October in 1936 that the local Republican Party had a dinner for their party leaders. My mother was a server that night and during the evening she endured the anti-Roosevelt speeches, the usual Republican clap-trap of tighten your belt and lifting the bootstraps. I remember my mom quipping one time that after hearing these speeches she began to think Republicans had a leather fetish. The conversations at the tables were really not that interesting, or any of her concern. The goal was to put in a shift and get paid. But as the evening progressed, things got personal. Something happened, something that changed the trajectory of my mother’s life.

A conversation at one particular table caught her attention. As she slid the plates of thick steaks and potatoes onto the table, she heard a particularly offensive conversation. The men at this table were bashing President Roosevelt, the New Deal, and everything democratic. Then suddenly the conversation crossed the line. One man said to the others at the table “and of course he is encouraging these greasy wops that they should have their dignity with our money! They should starve as far as I’m concerned!” Greasy wops. The words felt like one of the streak knives had been plunged into her chest. She described the rage to me as uncontrollable. What happened next became family legend. Before that fat swine could shove another cut of beef into his mouth, she dumped the entire tray of meals on his lap and declared  “I’m one of those greasy wops, and you can now serve yourself!”  She stormed out. She never got paid. She never cared.

The next day, she went to the local Democratic chairman and became a youth volunteer for the re-election of President Roosevelt. But she didn’t stop there. The cruelty of the remarks she heard that fateful night remained with her her entire life. As the Great Depression waned and with the onset of World War II, she became a wife and mother but never forgot how important it is to be involved in government. She became a local democratic chairperson, a county chairperson, and a state chairperson. She never relinquished her responsibility to her family or her country. Jane Santorsa remained true to her convictions, until that day in 1998 when she had a debilitating stroke. I remember sitting with her one night in the nursing home, watching the Republican convention of 2000. She lay in her bed, the fire of outrage still in her eyes. At one point she squeezed my hand until it hurt and whispered “They never change, Joe. Always pay attention to government, and never push a Republican lever or I will reach from the grave and cut off your hand!”  I always do, and I never did.

Conservatism is like cancer, and like cancer it comes in many forms and levels of aggression.  Some are more subtle and mask the symptoms until it is too late. Some are more aggressive and have to be treated immediately. They range from the Republican party, to the Tea Party, to hate groups and Rush Limbaugh. But make no mistake, whatever form or no matter how aggressive, these diseases of society must be dealt with or they will kill.

There is a tendency in our society, as in the care of our own health, to ignore things and tell ourselves that everything is all right and bad things only happen to someone else. This is the advantage a cancer like Conservatism has. It hides in the shadows, hoping we don’t notice, and by the time we do, the damage is done. This happened to liberals not too long ago, and we are now struggling to survive and hang on to the life that used to be our great country.

Ironically, it started with the election of Barack Obama. Euphoria spread through our ranks and we felt we had finally slayed the twin dragons of hate and war and were headed toward a better world. We felt good. We felt invincible, so we celebrated, perhaps too long. Then came the first sign of the disease, the Tea Party. At first we ignored it, we laughed at it, we said to ourselves it’s nothing and just ignored it. That was our first mistake. It grew, feeding off the hate, greed and bigotry that was built into its DNA.

The cancer first manifested itself as resistance to helping the victims of the greed of Wall Street, then later spread as opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act. By some miracle, though, we recovered for a while. Some relief was given to the casualties of the Great Bush Recession and a form of health care was passed. So we told ourselves those symptoms were nothing. Everything was all right. Except it wasn’t. The temporary relief of symptoms only meant the disease was regrouping and would come back with a vengeance. That was our second mistake, ignoring the mid-term elections of 2010.

Liberals stayed home in November, 2010 basking in the glow of our new president and his recent legislative achievements. Life was good, the symptoms had abated and we felt safe. So we went on vacation. Conservatives did not. They went to the polls in great numbers and by the time we recognized the disease was back, it was in control. They won the House of Representatives, state houses and legislatures, school boards, and city councils. The disease of Conservatism had metastasized to every level of our government.

Now we were really sick and the manifestations of the disease were many. Women’s rights to health care, the right to marry whom you pleased, even the right to vote was under attack. Aid to the hungry, help for the unemployed all that made us human was waning. Every cell in our body politic was being ravaged by this malignancy. So we went to the doctor, but medical science could only do so much at this stage. We managed to save the presidency, but the disease already had taken its toll.

So this may be your last warning, liberals. Our country is sick with the cancer of Conservatism. Much has been lost in the time since 2008, when we felt so good about our health. But like cancer of the body, there is always hope when there is life. It is getting late, but it is not too late. Pay attention, educate yourself on the issues, do the same for your friends and neighbors. Tweet a tweet, warn your Facebook friends, volunteer for a liberal candidate, and most of all, vote this November. Vote like your life depends on it, because at this late stage of the disease, it does.

An Open Letter to John McCain

Posted: March 18, 2014 in New Post

Dear John,

There are some things we cannot change. The sun rises in the east. Gypsy moths destroy foliage. You lost the 2008 presidential election, quite handily I should add. By now you should have passed through the various stages of grief, but for some reason you are stuck on the anger phase. This is not a good thing for your health, your complexion, or anyone seated to your immediate left or right. 

You have become prone to outbursts that, from any other person, would probably get you committed to a facility for psychiatric evaluation. But you are not any other person. You are a United States senator and, more importantly, a Sunday staple on Meet the Press. As such, you have become the darling of the Beltway Press, and especially David Gregory. But to the people outside of the Beltway, you are a very scary individual. 

In 2008, for example, you were losing badly to in your attempt to become the first warlord of North America. Your campaign was stumbling and, if I recall, you even quit your campaign for a while. You should have left it there. You panicked, and in a moment of desperation that was worthy of Nero, you chose a deranged ex-beauty pageant contestant  to be a your running mate and a heartbeat away from the nuclear codes. I guess you thought that if you could not have America, you would let it burn. Or glow. Well, that didn’t work out so well for you, but it did supply Fox News with one of the funniest parodies of a news commentator ever.

Then came Libya. You wanted Moammar Gadhafi dead and an American warplane to carry the message. With friends like you, who needs terrorists. Why just a few years ago you praised Moammar for his peace making and pledged undying support from the US Congress. Et tu, John? Oh, the potential glory. It brought back fond memories of villages burning and collateral damage. Those were the days. 

And now, in the throws of a crisis in the Ukraine, you once again cannot control your anger. This worries me deeply. You have been running amok on the cable circuit demanding that the president send military aid to the Ukraine.You said, and I quote, “One of the things that I would do is send some of our military to Kiev and find out how we can best assist them,” Well, here’s an idea, Johnny. Instead, how about we send some aid to our schools, our towns and our states for badly needed infrastructure? How about sending aid to our poor, our hungry children, and our homeless? How about sending aid to our old, our sick, and our unemployed? Maybe dropping bombs is more fun, but helping our own citizens is more virtuous.

So here’s my advise. Get some help, John. Anger management support, Prozac, pilates, anything to reel in that rage. The election of 2008 is over, Sarah Palin is the punchline to a very bad joke, and David Gregory is not going to marry you. Please make life more pleasant for your family, for your country, and for the people seated to your immediate left and right and just shut up.

 

 

My Blog Rebooted – To Begin…

Posted: March 17, 2014 in New Post

I am not a writer, let’s get that out on the table right away. If you came here to read Pulitzer Prize material or Ernest Hemingway, might I suggest the The Washington Post or “The Sun Also Rises”. I do not possess the skills of a good writer. Good writers have the gifts of style and form, a gift of painting pictures with words. I have none of that. What I do have is a great deal of frustration and anger about the injustice, hypocrisy,  and callousness there is in the world, and in my country in particular. These span many topics and many groups, and here on my blog I will, from time to time, release my frustration for all to read or none to read, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I don’t keep my rage to myself, but rather release it in words. If one other person reads this blog and smiles, or nods, or in someway finds a kindred soul with whom to relate, so much the better.

To begin, I dislike conservatives, and the Republican party that they call home. If you are a conservative, then we have started off on the wrong foot, because I do not like you at all. It’s just a gut reaction, nothing personal. If you are a liberal or a Democrat, I may like you, but it is not certain. You have a lot to prove to me. Yes, I am being judgmental, so sue me, but you have disappointed me in the past and offer no promise for the future.

So why do I dislike conservatives? Well, that’s easy. You’re an easy lot to dislike. You favor money over honor, corporate profit over people, and power over compassion. In short, you are lousy human beings. Harsh? Not harsh enough. Painting with too broad a brush? I just wish the brush was broad enough to paint you from my consciousness. But you persist like fleas on a hairy dog, slowly sucking the blood from your host and leaving nothing but your droppings as your contribution to humanity.

Case in point: Paul Ryan, the conservatives’ idea of a policy wonk and Ayn Rand’s idea of a hero. A self proclaimed conservative thinker, he likes to pretend that he brings new ideas to the table, ideas that will help the poor, heal the sick, and guarantee a balanced budget, all in the name of compassionate conservatism and Christian values. So how does he stack up to the injustice, hypocrisy, and callousness I see in this country, and his party in particular? Lets take a look.

Paul Ryan wants to privatize Social Security, voucherize Medicare, and dismantle the social safety net of the New Deal and Great Society. You see, he doesn’t see these programs as a safety net, he sees them as a “hammock”. Well, the problem with his hammock is that the lazy ones lying in it are his constituents. You know, the Wall Street Gang who used fabricated instruments to drive our economy to its knees; The oil interests who deny the fouling of our planet and hate environmental friendly regulation that cuts into their profit; The reckless corporations who want the freedom to offer inferior products, free from liability when they injury or kill, and free from the burden of paying their fair share of taxes.  Yes, the conservatives little cow eyed Paul Ryan would cut aid to hungry children, take Medicare away from the old and infirm, and strip away all the humanity a government should represent, all in the name of a balanced budget and lower taxes for the wealthy. Unjust? I would proffer immoral.

And how about hypocrisy? At the age of 16, after his father tragically passed away at the age of 55,  Paul Ryan received Social Security benefits until the age of 18. Those benefits helped him pay for college, something he may not have been able to afford otherwise. Yet his budget would cut those same benefits to others, and privatize the program for the profit of Wall Street. Hypocrite? You bet.

And how about callousness? Well, let’s look at how Paul Ryan sees poverty in our country. To quote our compassionate Ayn Rand Fanboy, he claims that poverty is largely a product of a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” “So there’s a real culture problem here,” Ryan continued, “that has to be dealt with.” So there you have it. Poverty is a choice of lifestyle, specifically minority lifestyle. If you just will yourself to be wealthy (and white, I suppose) it will happen. In the mean time, give back your food stamps and let your children search for food in dumpsters. How’s that for callousness?

So there you have it, the first example of why I dislike conservatives and my first poorly written rant. If you like it, you can leave a comment and I am happy you enjoyed. If you didn’t like it, please don’t comment because I hate rejection and am really not interested in contrary opinions anyway. Have a great week!