Take Five (Who'da Thunk It edition)

ONE: Scumhog Millionaire et al.

Donald Trump wrapped up his latest and most Rococo exercise in crass, self-aggrandizing buffoonery on Monday with the altogether unsurprising announcement that he has decided not to vie for the GOP Presidential nomination after all.

Trump used the opportunity both to pat himself vigorously on the back and to indulge in some rank untruths, all of which was also altogether unsurprising:

“This decision does not come easily or without regret, especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

What Trump should have said is “ranking down there with ditch water,” since his Icarus-like fall from political favor has been swift, despite most Republican voters being unable to distinguish Shineola from, let’s say, um, Santorum:

Trump’s support for the Republican nomination fell from 26 percent in April to just eight percent in early May in surveys done by Public Policy Polling.

The announcement came hot on the heels of Mike Huckabee’s admission a couple of days earlier that he doesn’t particularly feel like getting his ass kicked by Barack Obama next year either:

“All the factors say go, but my heart says no.”

Trump was quick to offer up this ludicrous tidbit of congratulation and commentary on the Huckabee announcement:

“Mike Huckabee is not going to be running for president. This might be considered by some people, not necessarily me, bad news because he is a terrific guy — and frankly I think he would be a terrific president. But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates. So, Mike, enjoy the show. Your ratings are terrific. You’re making a lot of money. You’re building a beautiful house in Florida. Good luck.”

Now, you might be thinking at this point that the race for the Republican nomination just got a little more rational. And you would be dead wrong:

Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday she’s close to deciding whether to jump into the 2012 presidential race, and she suggested that Mike Huckabee’s and Donald Trump’s exits from the field make it more likely she’ll get in.

Huckabee’s and Trump’s decisions have “changed the grass roots and what they’re looking for,” the Minnesota congresswoman said on Fox News Channel on Tuesday. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook, our Facebook has been lit up, our donations are pouring in. People are saying ‘Michele jump in, we want you to run.’’

Bachmann has decided to utilize a two-tier approach to campaign fundraising:

… asking supporters to choose to donate small amounts if they want her to stay in the House, or larger amounts if they want her to pursue the presidency.

No word yet on how big a donation is required if one simply wants her to shut up and disappear, but I have my checkbook handy. Continue reading Take Five (Who’da Thunk It edition)

TSW #2

“Did we stir things up? Absolutely.”

- Scott Walker, WISN Milwaukee, April 12, 2011

Friday Talking Points [162] -- Budget Standoff Continues

The American media lost interest in the war in Libya faster than they’ve ever done so before, not to even mention the eerie radioactive glow emanating from the milk aisle back home in West Coast grocery stores. Instead, they have been going bonkers all week over the prospect of a government shutdown situation. Will a deal be reached? Will the government shutdown? Will the media enjoy the living heck out of the whole thing? Yes! They will! And why shouldn’t they? Their comfortable salaries, after all, are in no way dependent upon the Small Business Administration being open to help them with loans.

Sigh. What’s depressing about the whole thing, to me at least, is how the entire knock-down-drag-out fight is merely the preliminary round. This whole government shutdown walk-to-the-brink-and-stare-into-the-abyss thing is nothing more than the warmup for the next budgetary battles — which will be much bigger. The entire initial fight is about staking out ground for the next two fights — raising the debt ceiling, and the 2012 budget. Nobody involved — not the Tea Party Republicans, not President Obama, not John Boehner, not Harry Reid — really cares all that much about how this particular round ends up. They’re all stuck thinking: “If I give in now, they’ll want more later” — and they’re all entirely correct.

But this is going to be a marathon, and not a sprint. Much to the media’s glee, no doubt.

Because there’s going to be plenty of time to hash the whole thing out later, and because anything written about it now is going to be stale after midnight tonight (no matter which way it goes), and most importantly because we here at this column are dedicated to fixing our mistakes (when we make them and realize it), today’s introduction to the talking points is going to be entirely self-referential. Take that, mainstream media! Heh.

Two weeks ago in this space, we ran a contest to come up with a better name for the war in Libya than what the Pentagon had managed (“Operation Odyssey Dawn”). One week ago in this space, we plumb forgot to pick the winners and announce them (oops!). Which brings us to this week, and to the winners of our “Name That War!” contest (woo hoo!). All of our winners will receive absolutely nothing, other than the usual bragging rights in the comments section. Our entries came from various different sources, so click on the links to see the original commentary.

Many people picked up on the acronym aspect, including a few entries who tried to use the original “OOD” acronym. But before we get to the winners, we have to highlight the funniest comment the contest generated. It is slightly “blue,” so you should cover your children’s eyes until you finish reading the next paragraph. All set? OK, here goes. Continue reading Friday Talking Points [162] — Budget Standoff Continues

Take Five (mad, bad and dangerous to know edition)

ONE: I don’t like Mondays.

Not satisfied with simply destroying American broadcast journalism and inflicting possibly irreparable harm on the nation’s body politic, Fox News has unveiled its new Monday morning bloviator.

The very same week the network announced Glenn Beck’s program is officially circling the drain, a move which could almost make me believe someone rational has been added to what passes for their brain trust, Fox achieved a new low by adding Donald Trump to their stable of braying asses:

“Mondays with Trump,” a brand new segment where “The Donald now makes his voice loud and clear on Fox” on the news of the day.

Because, you know, who on earth can make sense of the news without hearing what Donald Trump has to say about it? But wait, you say. Trump’s already indicated that he’s running for President. Doesn’t that mean he shouldn’t be appearing on Fox News?

Rest easy, grasshopper. They’ve found a loophole for him:

[Dana] Klinghoffer, the Fox News spokesperson, said that Trump will be permitted to continue making the regular Monday appearance even if he declares a presidential campaign, since he is not a paid contributor. It would be highly unusual for a network to give a regular weekly forum to a declared presidential candidate.

Fox News suspended Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as contributors in March ahead of their likely presidential campaigns. The network also employs Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, both of whom say they are considering presidential runs.

Trump’s recent appearance on the O’Reilly Factor gives us an idea of what to expect, not only about his worth as a commentator on current events, but as aspiring Leader of the Free World. He summarized his Iraq “policy” in 11 faintly Palinesque sentences:

You stay and protect the oil and you take the oil and you take whatever is necessary for them and you take what’s necessary for us and we pay our self back $1.5 trillion or more. We take care of Britain, we take care of other countries that helped us and we don’t be so stupid.

You know, we’re the only country and if you look at wars over the years and I study wars, OK? My whole life is a war. You look at wars over the years. A country goes in, they conquer and they stay. We go in, we conquer and then we leave. And we hand it to people that we don’t even know. Now, who are the people that are going to be running Iraq? The person that hates the United States the most will be running Iraq. So, in a nutshell, we go in, we take over the second largest oil fields and we stay.

Somewhere on a quiet street in Houston’s posh Tanglewood neighborhood, George Walker Bush turns off the television, pours himself a pint of Jim Beam, looks down at Barney and says, “Why does a half-wit like this think he could be President?” Continue reading Take Five (mad, bad and dangerous to know edition)

Take Five (squirmish edition)

ONE: A Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

With exquisitely unfortunate timing, the Oxford English Dictionary announced its most recent update a week ago, adding overdue words such as “biker” and “taquito” along with newer Internet-based coinages such as “LOL” and “OMG” and at least one word whose 15 minutes were up some time ago (“wassup”).

Four days later, failed Vice-Presidential candidate and scandal-plagued half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was inexplicably asked for her opinion on US involvement in Libya.

Palin’s most immediate issue seemed to be what to call the action:

Do we use the term “intervention”? Do we use “war”? Do we use “squirmish”? What is it?

Palin probably didn’t intend it this way, but “squirmish” is accepted by other language watchers such as Wiktionary and the Urban Dictionary. The latter added its first definition of “squirmish” more than four years ago:

physically manifesting an emotional reaction to something perceived as disgusting; recoiling uncomfortably from something perceived as offensive; combination of squirmy and squeamish

Quite. Finally I’ve found a word to describe my reaction to Sarah Palin.

Palin then riffed on the President’s mention of the North Star in his speech on Libya, working in asides about Alaska’s state flag and state song, and finishing with this gravity-defying verbal chassé:

He kind of wandered off again, and allowed more of the inconsistencies and the questions and kind of the dubious rationale being used. More of that just was being revealed.

And if anyone reading that can decipher it, please contact the good people at the Oxford English Dictionary. Stat!

TWO: Unsavory Sundays.

Every Sunday since 2005, volunteer organization Savory Sunday has been setting up in the basement of the Wisconsin statehouse and serving a hot meal to the homeless of Madison. Every Sunday, that is, until Governor Scott Walker‘s Reign of Error turned the capitol into a combat zone.

Capitol Police want to meet with meal organizers “to see if they can accommodate them,” Carla Vigue, a spokeswoman for the Department of Administration, which oversees the Capitol Police, told me Friday afternoon. The “cafeteria” area in the basement where the group serves the meal, was used as a staging area for police during the peak of the protests, but is less in need now, she says.

But meal organizer Tom Barry tells me that Capitol Police told him Friday that the group could resume serving on April 3. The arrangement would be week-to-week, Barry says, depending on the number of protesters at the Capitol.

And, everyone entering the Capitol for the meal would have to have all their belongings screened at a checkpoint, like everyone else entering the building these days.

“That’s disturbing,” Barry says. “Most of the people who come have everything they own in a backpack. Being subject to screening is going to deter people.”

Clearly, Governor Walker wants the homeless to eat what he’s been trying to make public sector workers eat. The supply of it, after all, has been plentiful in Madison since the day he was sworn in. Continue reading Take Five (squirmish edition)

Our Budget and Finances are Exactly Where Republicans Wanted Them To Be

I’m amazed at how little has been mentioned about the real reason that our state and federal budgets are where they are. When I am saying that, I’m not talking about the details of spending or revenue, I am talking about one party’s MOTIVATION for keeping the spending and revenue in the general trajectory they have been for the last 30 years.

First, let’s examine the history of deficits in this country since the early 1960s.

As we can see from the graph, the modern practice of out of control deficit spending started with Ronald Reagan, continued under George H. W. Bush, was reversed by President Clinton, and then re-initiated with wild abandon by George W. Bush. President Obama and his fiscal policies are a separate case that I will discuss in future articles, but in the 28-year period between January 1981 and January 2009, all three Republican Presidents were guilty of financial irresponsibility and the one Democratic President was fiscally responsible.

What is it about these Republican Presidents that caused them to act this way? Is there a philosophy and strategy behind it?

The answer is YES. As I talked about in the link below in my appearance today on Peter Lavelle’s CrossTalk show on the Russia Today network, Republicans have been operating under a strategy called “Starve the Beast” since Reagan’s days in office. Continue reading Our Budget and Finances are Exactly Where Republicans Wanted Them To Be

Wisconsin Governor Offers Qaddafi Asylum, Job

In what is seen as a strong indication he is contemplating a 2012 Presidential bid, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced today that he has not only extended an offer of asylum to Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, but has also offered the soon to be dead or deposed dictator a position in his administration. . . . → Read More: Wisconsin Governor Offers Qaddafi Asylum, Job

An attack on public employees is an attack on the environment

I was asked to speak for the Sierra Club at the rally to save the American Dream held on the steps of the Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois in solidarity with Wisconsin public employees.  The large crowd was fired up from previous speakers so I was glad to have very enthusiastic response. Here’s the text of my speech from the February 26 rally.

American Dream rally

(Will Reynolds speaking at the Illinois rally to Save the American Dream at the Illinois Capitol. Springfield NAACP President Teresa Haley on the left introduced speakers.)

I’m here to say a few words as Chair of the Illinois Sierra Club about why Sierra Club and other environmental groups are supporting these rallies across the nation.  But I’m also here because I’ve been a union member and organizer. And because my dad was a state employee in AFSCME Council 31 from before I was born until he retired.

I know what the right to organize means for a workplace.  I know that those politicians who try to take away our right to organize are the same ones who would take away our right to clean air and clean water. Those who would unfairly apply budget cuts to public employees are the same forces attempting to gut environmental protections.

I know that an organized workplace that protects the safety of its workers is more likely to protect the safety of the environment and the community they work in.  It’s no coincidence that non-union coal mines with poor safety records are usually the same mines with poor environmental records.

The Sierra Club knows we don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and good union jobs.  Auto plants in Michigan and Illinois are reopening to build fuel efficient cars and hybrids.  Illinois fields that cover abandoned coal mines are now growing wind farms that are providing the good union jobs of our energy future.  America’s economy is being rebuilt on a foundation of green union jobs. Continue reading An attack on public employees is an attack on the environment

“Let em protest. It’s not going to affect us.”

Do protests matter?

I thought this was one of the most revealing lines from Wisconsin Governor Walker’s taped phone conversation with the Koch impersonator.

My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused, is that that would scare the public into thinking that maybe the governor has got to settle to avoid all these problems. Where as I’ve said, hey, ya know, we can handle this, people can protest, this is Madison, ya know, full of the 60s liberals, let ‘em protest.

It’s not going to affect us and as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of people are telling us we’re doing the right thing. So, that’s my gut reaction, is I think it’s actually good if they’re constant, they’re noisy, but they’re quiet, nothing happens, cause sooner or later the media stops finding them interesting.

Many have asked, “What if Egypt happened here?”

The answer is pretty simple.  The police would keep the protests in a limited area, most people would be nonviolent, and if a few stragglers get out of hand then the police will handle it away from the cameras.  If any police violence is captured on film they know that the press will either ignore it or blame it on the protesters anyway. Continue reading “Let em protest. It’s not going to affect us.”