Wednesday, July 29, 2009

White House Beer Analysis

The beer orders are in for the Should Have Not Blown My Top summit tomorrow at the White House. Can their beer tell us something about the mindset of the attendees? Let’s take a look.

Sgt. James Crowley – Blue Moon: A most sensible choice. Blue Moon is a white beer that’s perfect on a summer day with a little lemon squeezed in. He’s obviously not trying to score any points with the GOP by projecting a Joe-The-Plumber image. I’m sure Rep. McCotter would prefer he ordered Miller Lite delivered by their populist mascot. But while Blue Moon is an American brew, it’s one that tries to pass itself off as a Belgian witbier. Crowley doesn’t care. He just goes for what tastes good to him.

Henry Louis Gates – Red Stripe: A little bolder. Picking the most recognizable Jamaican brew is obviously going to bring up Bob Marley and Rastafarian comments. But Gates is saying bring ‘em on. Go on. Tell him he’s un-American because he doesn’t drink beer brewed in this country! My only complaint is that it’s a little too obvious. Gates could have thrown everyone a curve ball by drinking a Lambic or a Trapist Ale. Better yet, in the spirit of reconciliation he could have ordered a real Belgian White and given a taste to Sgt. Crowley.

President Obama – Bud: I have the feeling Rahm is to blame for this. I mean Bud? It’s the beer for people who don’t like beer and have no idea what it’s supposed to taste like. It’s what you order right after you reach legal age. It’s really just Zima with two hops and Yellow Dye No. 7 added. It’s the beer that started all the jokes about American Beer (My favorite; a man sent a sample of Bud to a lab. The results came back “Your horse has diabetes.”) It’s a choice that says “No controversy please!” written all over it. Oh what a wasted opportunity. He could have made such a statement by choosing a great American micro-brew like an Anchor Steam or a Craftsman. It could have been about the small guy over the corporate juggernaut, green shoots, or local sourcing. Instead we got Bud, safe, dull, tailor made not to offend anyone, the choice of American business as usual. Maybe the president’s beer choice will serve as a reminder. Budweiser is now owned by a foreign company as a result of “business as usual.”

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It’s Time to Call Lou Dobbs What He Is

The Southern Poverty Law Center has sent a letter to CNN requesting he be removed from the airwaves for “…trading in falsehoods and racist conspiracy theories, questioning President Obama's American citizenship.”

I’m surprised it’s taken this long. The evidence has been building for some time that his views on race fall somewhere between David Dukes and Darryl Gates. A number of incidents big and small show that Dobbs can only be called a “populist” if you exclude a good proportion of the population, which apparently Dobbs has no trouble doing.

First the small:

There was his “Cotton” gaffe while discussing remarks by Condoleezza Rice.

There was this public appearance where he declared that racism wasn’t real only to have a member of the audience jump up and prove him wrong.

In these incidents Dobbs pushes the typical racially insensitive whitewash (pun intended) of our history. Basically he claims that because everything is hunky dory now, the past doesn’t matter. Except everything isn’t hunk dory. Those nooses in Jena didn’t hang themselves and that guy in the Barnes & Noble is not just overly enthusiastic.

The bigger incidents are much more sinister. Before the Birthers there was Dobbs’ infamous report on the immigration debate a few years ago. Media Matters eviscerated a Dobbs segment where he quoted the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group with roots in the pro-segregationist White Citizen’s Council. That same segment also featured a map of Aztlan, the parts of the US that fringe conspiracy theorists claim Mexico wants to retake militarily. His correspondent even referred to an official visit by the Mexican President as a “military excursion.” Hmmm. Giving air time to fringe conspiracy nuts and right wing whackos. Sounds familiar.

That’s why Dobbs’ embrace of the Birther movement should come as no surprise. What is a surprise is that CNN continues to stand by him. They offered a half assed apology for the Aztlan piece. They haven’t canned his butt for continuing to flog the Birthers in his radio show. What does he have to do to get fired? What will it take for CNN to pull his “respected journalist” card? How many more nut jobs does Dobbs have to give credibility to?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Maybe They Should Have Checked With Crowley First

One of the dangers of trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill is that the mole hill can actually get smaller.

I imagine that's how Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) must be feeling as he introduced a resolution demanding that President Obama formally apologize to the Cambridge police force for remarks he made about arrest of his friend Professor Louis Gates, Jr.

The only problem is the President has already made a conciliatory speech in which he expressed regret over the words he used.

Not enough for Rep. McCotter? Okay, how about inviting Gates and the officer involved Sgt. James Crowley to the White House for a beer? Sure it sounded like a joke, but turns out it was a serious offer and Crowley has accepted. He's even placed his drink order, a Blue Moon. (If it were me, I would have ordered the real fancy stuff. The one that's aged in Kentucky Bourbon casks and costs $72 a bottle.)

So McCotter can go ahead and introduce his measure on the floor (see below foe full text)meanwhile the man he's supposedly defending will be at the White House sharing a brew with the President who supposedly did him such grievous harm. Obama, Crowley and Gates will, later this week will do what they all should have done in the first place and what the GOP ought to do now about this whole situation, namely chill out.

Whereas on July 16, 2009, Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Sergeant James M. Crowley responded to a 911 call from a neighbor of Harvard University Professor Henry Louis ("Skip") Gates, Jr. about a suspected break-in in progress at his residence, which had been broken into on a prior occasion;

Whereas on July 22, 2009, in responding to a question during a White House press conference President Barack Obama stated: "Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all of the facts involved in this local police response incident";
Story continues below

Whereas President Obama proceeded to state Sergeant Crowley "acted stupidly" for arresting Professor Gates on charges of disorderly conduct;

Whereas, as a former Constitutional Law Professor, President Obama well understands that all Americans are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and their actions should not be prejudged prior to being fully and fairly judged by an appropriate and objective authority after due process;

Whereas, President Obama's nationally televised remarks may likely detrimentally influence the full and fair judgment by an appropriate and objective authority after due process regarding this local police response incident and, thereby, impair Sergeant Crowley's legal and professional standing in relation to said incident; and

Whereas, President Obama appeared at a daily White House Press briefing on July 24, 2009 to address his denouncement of Sergeant Crowley and stated: "I could have calibrated those words differently" but "I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station."

Whereas, President Obama's refusal to retract his initial public remarks and apologize to Sergeant Crowley and, instead, reiterate his accusation impugning Sergeant Crowley's professional conduct in the performance of his duties;

Now therefore be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

Calls upon President Obama to retract his initial public remarks and apologize to Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Sergeant James M. Crowley for having unfairly impugned and prejudged his professional conduct in this local police response incident

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Are We Just Incapable of Universal Health Care?

Even after every other country in the industrialized world has adopted some form of Universal Health, even after four decades of Medicare covering 27% of the population, even after poll after poll shows health care cost at or near the top of the countries concerns, the chances of Universal Health being passed seem to be as far away as ever. At best we can hope for some indirect bank shot attempt to try and curb costs.

I don't blame anybody but for this situation except us, the American people. We just seem incapable of pulling this particular trigger.

The American people seem unusually immune to the arguments on this subject. It's really a mystery. The public by and large has accepted the dangers of climate change why is this so hard?

We're the only wealthy industrialized country that does not provide health care for all it's citizens. If we were the only country without IPODs there would be an uproar. But here we blissfully ignore the fact that all of our major trading partners have Universal Health Care. We cling to the notion that it's too expensive and will ruin us financially. So why hasn't it sunk China yet? Or Germany? Or Britain? Yet instead of heaping scorn on the financial doomsayers, we seem to reserve our bile for Michael Moore.

The costs of health care haven't just affected Mom and Pop but major companies. Back when GM was still breathing, it's main concern was how to manage the health care costs of it's employees. One official referred to it as "A health benefits management company that also makes cars." Sounds like it could have saved a lot off its bottom line if there was Universal Health Care in this country. But instead of getting behind the drive for Universal Health GM and its cheerleaders took yet another swipe at the unions. Fat lot of good that course of action did them.

No the answer has to be something inside us as a people. We just can't look at this particular issue and really see it clearly. We can't see other countries providing for their citizens with a fraction of our GDP. We can't see the thousands of dollars each individual would save or the millions it would save businesses big and small. We can't look at this debate and realize that it's ours. Not Clinton's. Not Obama's but ours. It's there if we really want it. But do we?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dan Quayle the Smartest Republican Out There?

Former Vice President Dan Quayle made news by seemingly praising President Obama. But was it praise or a very clever line of attack?

According to a report at The Swamp, Dan Quayle: offering President Barack Obama kudos for surrounding himself with talented advisers on national security and the economy.

But then he goes on to say:

"Now I think they will have to make some tough decisions,'' Quayle said of Obama in the Lake Tahoe talk. "He knows the deficit is menacing. Whether he is willing to stare down the left wing of his party and say, 'Guys, we've got to get this budget in order before we take on too many things,' I don't know."

How nice. Except Quayle stayed mum on the deficit when George W. Bush was in office. I guess running up deficits to give tax breaks to the richest 1% of the country is allowable. But run up a deficit to keep the economy from collapsing or to try and ease the suffering of the rest of America and it's grab your pitchforks time!

This is an attack by another means and a very clever one because it's loaded inside a compliment. If the GOP had been running these kinds of attacks instead of calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist or trying to prove Obama wasn't born in Hawaii citizen they might actually be getting somewhere. That and, you know, actually offering solutions to the problems. Instead they remain a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.

One thing is for sure, the Republicans have reached the point where Dan Quayle is the smartest guy in the room.

Sarah Palin still Popular with Her Base. That's Because she hasn't Quit on Them Yet.'s War Room examines a Washington Post-ABC News poll and finds Sarah Palin hasn't slipped in support from her base.

Simply put, she has a base, and they're not going to be swayed, so her favorable numbers aren't likely to ever dip much further than they already have.

Well that's to be expected, after all the state she quit on has a total population smaller than some cities. So all her fans in the lower 48 are still cheering. She hasn't let them down yet (unless you count little things like the election last November.)

Republicans lacking their usual self reflection have bought her line that her quitting was about a stand of some sort. But what sort of stand. I'm one of the few who take Palin at her word that she couldn't stay in office without violating her core principles (at least I think that's what she was trying to say.) But it seems to me that her quitting is saying out loud that Republican Core Principles are incompatible with practical government. That in order to be true to your Core Republican Principles means there's no way to effectively govern a state, even one with a population less than a million and is awash in oil revenues. Look at what happens to Republicans who actually make sensible governing choices like (I can't believe I'm writing this) Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here's a guy Republicans once wanted to rewrite the Constitution for so he could run for the White House. How many GOP signatures would that bill get now?

The Republicans have become the party of Talk Radio and Fox News Shows, a bunch of talking heads and windbags who can yell over the airwaves but who's Core Principles prevent them from managing the town of Pawnee.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Does the Free Market Warrior Still Think the Free Market is So Hot?

The Free Market Warrior, a kiosk selling "Impeach Obama" bumper stickers in a Charlotte mall is having his lease canceled according to the Charlotte Observer. Owner Loren Spivack puts the blame on liberal politics.

“It's really unfair that both I and my employees are being chased out of here for purely political reasons,” he said.

But both Spivack and the Charlotte Observer one crucial flaw in this story of Big Brother running rough shod over the little guy. Namely that the decision came not from any government official or party committee, but from the owners of the mall themselves. It's the mall that is canceling Spivack's lease, which would make this a business decision, not a political one. Did the politics of the mall owners come into play? Possibly. Was this primarily motivated to avoid bad publicity? Without a doubt. However as a true "Free Market Warrior" Spivack ought to support a company's right to make its own decisions. The mall owners thought the Free Market Warrior kiosk would negatively impact their business, so they got rid of him. That's the essence of a Free Market. But instead of being a true defender of the faith, Spivack for some reason calls the decision political. News flash, the Free Market isn't a Conservative Fairy Godmother who delivers nothing sweet treats. Sometimes she's a hideous bitch goddess that will screw you over big time. Spivack just got the same lesson we all endured back in 08.