Saturday, February 23, 2013

Know When to Hold 'Em

John Boehner and his fellow GOP Congressmen are trying to make President Obama look bad in light of the looming sequestration.  They keep bleating that he hasn't put any plan on the table for dealing with the mess they have created but which they say was all his idea.  Meantime they have been off on yet another vacation.

Two errors here. The President does indeed have a plan on the table.  More accurately it's on the White House web site or can be found other places on-line by googling.  (Apparently the GOP hasn't caught up with googling yet.)

The second error is the claim that President Obama is responsible for the approaching sequestration.  Gosh, Speaker Boehner, we all remember that in the summer of 2011 you and your cute pals in the GOP House caucus were going to let the USA default on its debts and send the world into a tizzy.  Unless.....

The "unless" was institution of a fail-safe mechanism that would assure you and your chums, Mr. Speaker, of a major reduction in the government deficit.  If the two sides in the House didn't come up with a mutually agreeable plan for deficit  reduction, what we now know as "sequestration " would take effect.  It was a Doomsday device straight out of "Dr. Strangelove."  A meat axe cut of all departments and programs except Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, veterans benefits, etc.

And just to be sure you GOPhers were on board for bargaining by being willing to raise some taxes on the wealthy, half of the cuts are to come from the defense budget.

That was eighteen months ago.  And for that time, both sides seemingly ignored the sequestration issue.  The Doomsday machine just quietly ticket away in the closet while the two parties went out campaigning.  They seemed to think that the election would decide what approach to take on deficit reduction:  cut spending or increase revenues or do both.  As it turned out, the American people voted by a 5 million vote margin for Obama and thus for his constantly reiterated plan of using both spending cuts and revenue increase.

And there is no doubt that this is what the American people want.  Two major polls this week  -  one by the impeccable Pew Research group  -    show that such is the case by SEVENTY-FIVE per cent.  Even a majority of Republlican voters say this is the approach they want.

But the GOP refuses to accept that Obama has won the issue and that he has won election, that the Democrats increased their margin in the Senate and reduced their deficit of seats in the House by about one-third.  Indeed, the House Democratic candidates out-polled the GOP candidates nationally by ONE MILLION votes.  But for GOP gerrymandering, the Democrats would have easily taken the House majority.  The GOP, treating its gerrymandering as if it created a representational reality, keeps insisting it won the election because it still controls the House.

What are these guys smoking?

On the basis of their gerrymandered House win, the GOP House members refuse to meet the Democrats one-third of the way and agree to a 2 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases. Instead, they want President Obama to jump in and start saying what he proposes to cut come March 1. They want him to set out a "plan" to make sequestration less noxious.

And he won't. That's a fool's game, and Obama is not a fool. He's actually quite a good strategist.  He isn't going to put his fingerprints on the pain the GOP has devised.  Remember autumn of 2008 when Lehman Brothers had collapsed and the entire financial structure was fatally freezing up?  John McCain announced he was halting his campaign and heading to D.C.  He called on Obama to join him in some half-baked run-to-the-rescue.   Quite correctly, Obama ignored him, going to D.C. only after Bush asked both to attend a meeting at which Bush announced what HE was going to do.

Don't rush to save the other guy's a_ _.  Hoover urged FDR to come help him out between FDR's election and the inauguration (then held in March).  FDR declined.

Play your own position.  Don't rush in where you have no real authority.  Let the other guy own his mess until, by law or other reason, the mess is legitimately yours to resolve, along with the power to do so.

Let the American public rightfully go on blaming the GOP for what's coming in a week.  The blame is already on the House GOP by over 10 points in last week's polls.  They created the sequestration; they could end it by a simple vote to do so.  Or they could bargain to replace it with spending reductions AND revenue increases.  Instead Boehner has announced he won't meet with Obama any more.

Just keep on holding 'em, Mr. President.  You're doing fine.  And let's see how long the GOP is willing to continue protecting the super-rich from taxes while lines grow longer at the airports,  meat goes uninspected, military workers get laid off in droves in Texas and Georgia and Virginia.

Yeah, Mr. President, just keep holding 'em.                

Friday, February 22, 2013

Deport the Gringos?

Do you know who a  gringo is?

It's probably you.  Unless you are of Latino descent.

"Gringo" was the Latinos' term for non-Latinos in California in the 1940s and 1950s when non-Latinos were calling Latinos "Mexicans."  Of course they weren't Mexicans.  They were United States citizens.  In fact, many of them were of families that had been living in the United States since before it was the United States.

Neither "gringo" nor "Mexican" was meant as a friendly designation, though neither was always hostile.  The wholesale misuse of "Mexican" was chiefly the product of ignorance of history and also of an era in which labeling was routine.  So-and-so was a "kike" or a "colored" or a "Chinaman" or a "papist" or whatever.  The key thing was that so-and-so's principle identity was not WASP, not white Anglo-Saxon Protestant.  So-and-so did not, therefore, matter.  I was a so-and-so, definitely not a WASP.

As for the Latinos, at least some of the ones I knew in the 1940s and 1950s thought that the gringos ought to be deported from California, Arizona, and New Mexico.  One young man named Rodney, a friend of my brother put it simply:  "The gringos stole my people's land."  Rodney was twelve years old.

The gringos used more than the Mexican-American War to get land away from the inhabitants.  Although the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidlago ostensibly protected the property rights of the resident Mexican land owners now within USA borders, the "yanquis" quickly contrived to get these holdings away from them, chiefly by abuse of the legal system. No sooner was the treaty signed than vast holdings passed from Mexican hands to gringo hands.

By a quirk, I was living on the tiny remnant of one such holding in 1960 when my first child was born.  Up the hill from us on successive terraces lived the last of the family that had once owned much of the land between Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles and Malibu, a huge rancho.  Now the old grandparents on both sides of the family grew corn on the hillside and tended grape vines.  Grandpa Jose made big clay ollas for wine and for olive oil from the olive trees.  The kids played all over the hillside, and their joyful Spanish rang out through the canyon.  Mrs. Sanchez, one of the grandparents, gave my baby daughter the baby gift of a "pink blanky" that she dragged with her everywhere throughout childhood, leaving the last fragment by mistake in Vermont when she was eleven.  At Thanksgiving and Christmas Mrs. Sanchez made sure we had their homemade tamales for our dinner.  They were good friends and good neighbors.

When things began happening in Delano under the leadership of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, I sent money.  In subsequent years, kids and all, I helped in person.  By 1960 I had seen Edward R. Murrow's program "Harvest of Shame", and I had read an article in the New York Times Magazine about the dreadful conditions inflicted on farm workers.  The farm workers' "la causa" became my "causa"  for almost thirty years.  Somewhere I have tucked away a thank you letter from Cesar Chavez for the work I did.  Dolores Huerta and I were friends.  When she recently got the Presidential Medal of Honor from Obama,  I cried for joy.

I wish all the people who hate the Latinos and want to deport eleven million "illegals" could live on that hillside and eat tamales and know Mrs. Sanchez and watch the children play.  I wish they could be in the fields of the Great Central Valley in the 100 degree heat, bending to pick tomatoes.  Or in the fields of the Salinas Valley, bending, endlessly bending, to pick strawberries.  And there is no water. And there are no outhouses.

Viva la raza!  Viva la causa!  Viva all our brothers and sisters everywhere.  And may the ignorant and hating gringos of today either get with the program and grab a tamale or else self-deport!

And viva Obama for helping our brothers and sisters and for giving Dolores that well-deserved medal.  I wish someone would give Obama a medal!        

Thursday, February 21, 2013

In Your Face, McCain!

How gratifying to see John McCain freaking out as a constituent angrily attacks him for supporting immigration reform.  This televised confrontation occurred at a McCain town meeting recently in Phoenix, and the constituent let him have it both barrels with the usual racist lies and hatred.  Caught like a deer in the headlights, McCain is grimly clenching his bared teeth.  Quite a picture.

The main complaint of this constituent is that McCain and his kind are going to rob the constituent and his white friends of THEIR Social Security to pay Social Security to "illegal aliens."  This is so stupid, it doesn't bear answering.  What is interesting about it is that it shows how uninformed, nonsense-filled, and delusional the Far Right is.

And these are the folks that McCain chose to embrace on his way to  re-election to his Senate seat last year and in his run for the presidency in 2008.  In both races he turned his back on his prior efforts to get immigration reform through the Senate and sought to get as far right on the issue as he could.  Remember his commercial about "Build the dang fence!"

Now he's stuck with the devil he invited to his table.  Good.  It's nice that there is indeed justice in this old world.

It's also nice that he's getting fried after the ruthless and unwarranted frying he gave Susan Rice and then Chuck Hagel.  This is a new and bitter McCain we have been seeing.  He seems set on revenge against Obama for beating him in 2008.  Well, John, someone had to do it.  You are obviously not presidential material.  The two things going on now really show your unfitness:  (1) your willingness to embrace the far right whackies  (yes, we do remember you selecting Sarah Palin as a running mate), and (2) your grudge-match view of governing.  Bobby Kennedy said that revenge is a dish best eaten cold, but he would never have bent the processes of government for his personal vendetta the way you have in trying to deny Obama his choices for cabinet members.

Here's wishing you lots more lively town meetings, Senator McCain.  If this first one of yours is any indicator, it looks like you and your fellow Republicans are going to face audiences as wild and ugly as those that opposed the health care bill.

Have fun, John!  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Good Article on the Future of the GOP (None)

The GOP is in big trouble.  Part of it is demography, as we have noted all along, but there are problems even beyond that, according to a very good article in the current New York Times Magazine.  To take your mind off winter, read the article in front of a roaring fire and drink some hot chocolate.

Please note that in the article Obama's chief campaign guru, David Plouffe, confirms something I said in my postings about Marco Rubio having no influence with the general Latino community.  According to Plouffe, "The Hispanics voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don't give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban American from Florida."  Beyond that, Plouffe notes, Obama actually WON the Florida Cuban vote for the first time ever, chiefly because younger Cubans don't care about all the anti-Communist stuff that bound their parents and grandparents to the GOP.

It's nice to get confirmation of something I asserted.  Now you can know I don't just make stuff up!

Enjoy the hot chocolate!

Friday, February 15, 2013

More Things Wrong with Marco Rubio (and the GOP)

The last time I talked about Marco Rubio, I emphasized that, being of Cuban descent, he didn't really represent the Latino community generally and that the GOP was silly to think he could help them win over Latinos from the Democrats.

Now let's look at how he actually hurts the GOP.

Not only do Latinos in general not identify with Cuban Americans; in many cases they resent them.  In the eyes of the often desperately poor immigrants from Mexico and the rest of Latin America, the Cuban immigrants were of a privileged class back home.  Many fled Castro because he was grabbing their land and other holdings and preparing to punish them for their involvement in the pre-Castro regimes that exploited and impoverished the majority of the people.  In short, the loss of wealth and the easy life drove many Cubans to migrate, not grinding poverty.

Cubans are also resented by the general Latino community for another reason.  While Latino immigrants have for decades been hounded by the border patrol and the immigration service  -   and even full-citizen Latinos are thus harassed because of racial profiling  -  Cuban Americans are virtually spoiled darlings.  From the 1960s through the 1990s they served an excellent propaganda purpose: "freedom-seekers" fleeing a Communist dictator.  They were a tool in the Cold War public relations game.

What also is off-putting to Latinos about Cuban Americans is that the GOP keeps using them as poster boys and poster girls for the party's claimed inclusiveness.  This cynical exploitation clearly demonstrates  to Latinos that the GOP knows nothing about them and doesn't care to learn.  "All Spanish-speaking immigrants are the same" seems to be the message.   That's about as prejudiced as you can get, perfect proof that Republicans don't know Latinos and don't care to.

All of this made the "bottle of water" incident a disaster.  While the talking heads are inclined to shrug off Rubio's awkward dive off camera for a drink, it made him look very bad in Latino eyes and possibly to a wider range of voters.  He looked like an amateur.  Sure, any speaker can get thirsty, but all pros make sure ahead of time that water is within easy reach.  Rubio wasn't hip enough to take care of this business, and the GOP managers who shoved him out in front of the cameras didn't respect him enough to provide the water within easy reach for him.  They negligently set him up to look like a clown.

There's a harder truth beyond even these.  Rubio is not ready for prime time.  Anyone who has done public-speaking knows why Rubio needed that water.  He was scared.  It's fear that provokes that sudden speech-freezing dry mouth.  Poor Rubio.  He has a long way to go if he's still wrestling with stage fright at this point.

And what does it say to Latinos when the GOP pushes an ill-prepared Spanish-speaking American onstage where he flounders in great loss of dignity?  The message is pretty ugly and demeaning.

No, Rubio is not the answer to the GOP problems with the Latinos.  The answer for the GOP is lots simpler:  be more like the Democrats.  And, GOP, quit insulting the Latinos out of your profound ignorance.  Come out of your country clubs and get to know the people.  You don't know what you are missing!      



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's Wrong with Marco Rubio?

The media has decided that Marco Rubio is the GOP's very best hope of changing into a winning political party.  Last night the party used him to rebut Obama's State of the Union message. Time magazine even put him on its cover, boldly labeling him the savior of the GOP.  He is, the media claims, young, fresh, well-spoken, pleasant, and a Latino who can bring the Latino community into the GOP fold.

Nonsense.  The only thing that is true in the above laundry list of Rubio attributes is that he's young.  He isn't fresh. Or at least his ideas aren't.  He mouths the same old stale GOP dumbness, as he did in his  rather pathetic effort to rebut Obama Tuesday night.  He isn't well-spoken.  How can someone who has nothing to say be considered "well-spoken".  Terms like "smooth" or "snake oil" come to mind instead.

Well, maybe he is actually "pleasant".  I'll let him have that one because it doesn't matter much.

But a figure who can bring the Latino vote to the GOP?!   Nay, no, never!

First of all, Rubio is not "Latino" in any sense of the term that matters in politics.   He is a Cuban-American.  Leave it to the GOP (and the media) to get this wrong.  They think that anyone who is from "south of the border" (or whose ancestors were) is someone Latinos can identify with.  Not true.  The vast majority of Latinos don't identify with Cuban-Americans at all and especially not with Republican ones.

The reasons are simple. First, non-Cuban Latinos have been Democrats for a long time because they have perceived that the Democrats have been on their side on many issues beyond immigration, all the way back to Bobbie Kennedy on the grape strike.  And they remember Ethel Kennedy coming to a vigil outside the Salinas California jail where Cesar Chavez was imprisoned because of union organizing activity.  By contrast, except for George W and his bill for immigration reform, the GOP hasn't cared a rat's ass about Latino issues.  And it was George's fellow Republicans who doomed his bill.  No single Republican is going to shift the Latinos' choice of party.

Besides party affiliation, there's another way Rubio does not share the political history of Latinos.  His community is present in the USA largely because of Castro's takeover of Cuba in the late 1950s.  Even though Rubio's family apparently left Cuba before Castro's takeover, many others came here as refuges from Castro's Communism. The enemy of the Cuban-American community's enemy was their friend.   And the GOP really played the anti-Communism card, even to Ike authorizing the Bay of Pigs invasion.  When JFK refused to use American air power and land forces, the anti-Castro Cubans became passionately Republican.  That lasted until the current younger generation.  (The same has been true of the Chinese here who fled the Communist takeover  in China in the 1940s.)

No such affinity exists between the non-Cuban Latinos and the GOP.  So why would they fall in line behind Rubio because he's a Cuban Republican?  They won't.  He is, in short, nothing to them.  In the old days, he would have been called an Uncle Tomasito, a docile house slave, trying to make it by being on the master's team.  Or "an Oreo", i.e. chocolate on the outside and white on the inside.

Not pretty?  Racism never is, and one of the great harms it does is produce such attitudes within a group towards those they perceive as traitors.  But, after all they have been through and still suffer  (and I've seen some of it up close), Latinos may have the right to be bitter toward those they see as sell-outs.

In their ignorance the GOP and the media pundits  have grossly insulted the Latino community.  First, they have assumed all Spanish-speaking people are the same, and thus the Latinos will see Marco Rubio as "one of them".   Second, they have assumed that Latinos have the memory of a leaf and will giddily overlook all the insults, hatred, and hostility heaped on them by the GOP in recent years.  All the Republicans need do, they seem to think, is push one of their "boys" forward who speaks Spanish while the rest make nice noises about immigration reform.  The GOP thinks that will do it.

How dumb can you get?  That's the worst insult of all, to assume your victim never noticed your hatred and that you still have a clean slate.  Hey, GOP!  I've got a nice bridge you might want to buy.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Karl Rove Dines with the Devil

"If you sup with the Devil use a long spoon."

Karl Rove was too arrogant to heed the wisdom of the old maxim.  Back in George W's first run for the White House, Rove wrapped his arms around the far right, especially the evangelical far right. And he's been hugging them ever closer ever since. But now he's surprised that the hug has turned into a stranglehold.  And it's Rove and the GOP that are being strangled.

Rove has finally accepted that he and his cronies and minions and millionaires lost in 2012.  A right shellacking, you might say.  They lost the presidency, House seats, and Senate seats.  They were supposed to win!  While the GOP had a decent shot at a couple of those Senate seats,  the Tea Party snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating that unelectable rape-obsessed  dynamic duo running in Indiana and Missouri.

It's all the Tea Party's fault, Rove proclaims.  And he's announced that he's now tooling up his super pacs to scuttle unacceptable far right candidates in GOP primaries hereafter.

Good luck, Karl boy!  You think money and/or good sense can convince your far right friends that they should run moderately-spoken, moderately-positioned candidates who might win some statewide elections?  That's a dumb thing to believe, Karl.  Do you really think you can unwrap the octopus arms of the Tea Party with some big spending against it?

Where you been, boy?  (To quote  President Clinton theoretically speaking to Romney last fall.)  Didn't you notice that MONEY did NOT determine the outcome of the 2012 election.  It didn't elect Romney nor Scott Brown nor a whole bunch of other candidates you shoveled it at.  In fact, you and your super-duper pacs had the lowest success rate in recorded history and spent more money than God has in the bank on the first of the month.

You, my boy, were a disaster!

And you still are!

For one thing, making a big announcement IN ADVANCE of your planned warfare against your own right-wing family is stupid.  It gives them longer to get angry at you and your "establishment wing" of the GOP.  And lots longer to prepare to resist and retaliate.

And there will indeed be resistance and retaliation, Karl.  As your favorite fellow GOP in Alaska would say, "You betcha!"

You dined with the Devil.  And now the Devil will continue to take his due.

And we all get to watch!

Thanks, Karl!