Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ragtime for Republicans

American author, E L Doctorow, a national treasure, explains why America has moved from de Toqueville-induced exceptionalism, finding ourselves lost and misguided on a frightening road to "unexceptionalism".

I don't know what's more horrifying - that we're headed in this direction or how we actually got there. (You can figure the last bit out - it's not rocket science - but this really should be made viral and translated into a simpler sort of English so everyone can understand).

TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world, do the following:
PHASE ONE
If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential election. Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.
If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist attack by invading a nonterrorist country. Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives, manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate.
Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.
Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.
Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay less proportionately than the middle class. See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor widens exponentially.
By cutting taxes and raising wartime expenditures, deplete the national treasury so that Congress and state and municipal legislatures cut back on domestic services, ensuring that there will be less money for the education of the young, for government health programs, for the care of veterans, for the maintenance of roads and bridges, for free public libraries, and so forth.
Deregulate the banking industry so as to create a severe recession in which enormous numbers of people lose their homes and jobs.
Before you leave office add to the Supreme Court justices like the ones who awarded you the presidency.
PHASE TWO
If you’re one of the conservative majority of a refurbished Supreme Court, rule that corporations, no less than human beings, have the right under the First Amendment to express their political point of view. To come to this judgment, do not acknowledge that corporations lack the range of feelings or values that define what it is to be human. That humans can act against their own interest, whereas corporations cannot act otherwise than in their own interest. That the corporation’s only purpose is to produce wealth, regardless of social consequences.
This decision of the court will ensure tremendous infusions of corporate money into the political process and lead to the election in national and state legislatures of majorities of de facto corporate lobbyists.
PHASE THREE
Given corporate control of legislative bodies, enact laws to the benefit of corporate interests. For example, those laws sponsored by weapons manufacturers wherein people may carry concealed weapons and shoot and kill anyone by whom they feel threatened.
Give the running of state prisons over to private corporations whose profits increase with the increase in inmate populations. See to it that a majority of prisoners are African-American.
When possible, treat immigrants as criminals.
Deplete and underfinance a viable system of free public schools and give the education of children over to private for-profit corporations.
Make college education unaffordable.
Inject religious precepts into public policy so as to control women’s bodies.
Enact laws prohibiting collective bargaining. Portray trade unions as un-American.
Enact laws restricting the voting rights of possibly unruly constituencies.
Propagandize against scientific facts that would affect corporate profits. Portray global warming as a conspiracy of scientists.
Having subverted the Constitution and enervated the nation with these measures,  portray the federal government as unwieldy, bumbling and shot through with elitist liberals.  Create mental states of maladaptive populism among the citizenry to support this view.
PHASE FOUR
If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, decide that the police of any and all cities and towns and villages have the absolute authority to strip-search any person whom they, for whatever reason, put under arrest.
With this ruling, the reduction of America to unexceptionalism is complete.

Don't ever let anyone tell you this mess was or is the President's fault. 

When the Pandering of the One Per Cent Is Insulting

Bill Maher had occasion to interview Charles Murray this week. Murray, as you know, is the Libertarian social commentator-author-cum-political pundit, whose works include Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980 (which argued, quite simply, that social welfare programs did more harm than good to the people they were intended to help, and, thus, created the notion of a permanently lazy underclass, dependent upon the government for survival); The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (which, controversially, argued that some races were more intelligent than others); and the latest Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010, which concentrates on the demographic of the white working class.

In the book, Murray divides society into two halves: the socially affluent, better educated and wealthier Belmont and the economically deprived Fishtown, otherwise known as the Boondocks or the other side of the tracks.

Maher's interview with Murray is a non-entity. The two men basically circumvent whatever points they are trying to make, and I got the impression that Maher actually wanted to agree with Murray about some things, but since Murray's abhorrent views are generally a bete noire to the sort of fashionable liberal Maher pretends to be, any agreement was not the done thing.

Basically, now that more and more poor white people (many ex-inhabitants of the fabled Middle Class) are depending upon welfare benefits, Murrays book is just a white version of Losing Ground, which dealt with the  so-called problems welfare programs engendered for people of colour who took advantage to the point of depending on them.

For this, as with most everything else, Murray points his finger at and blames everything on ... the Sixties.

You can watch the verbal sparring in these two clips - the interview encompasses the second half of the first clip and the first half of the second:-





The part which interests me is the bit where Maher asks Murray to explain the social differences between the affluent Belmont and, as Maher puts it, "my people, Fishtown." He then goes on at length to explain that he was raised in a town which, prominently, had a Belmont and a Fishtown section, and that he was from the Fishtown end of the stick.

Maybe that's true for Maher, but I've actually lived on the edge of the sort of Fishtown Murray means. I've walked through it. I've attended school with some of its inhabitants and taught many of their children.

Maher comes from River Vale, New Jersey, a bedroom town in affluent and mostly white northern New Jersey. Maher's father was a news editor at the local NBC-affiliated radio station, a white-collar job. So maybe the people who lived on the Belmont end of River Vale were the corporate executive types and maybe the Fishtowners comprised the middle-management sorts embodied by Maher Sr.

The fact is that Maher was able to attend an Ivy League university, during the Seventies when the great middle-and working-class exodus began to institutions of higher learning; but Maher wasn't one of the rest of us, who were able to attend, thanks to the social welfare legislation enacted by Lyndon Johnson, which Murray abhors. Maher wasn't a scholarship boy at Cornell.

Daddy paid.

As Paul Begala points out later in the program, it's plausible that tuition at Cornell in the 1970s was relatively inexpensive compared to its humongous costs today, but the fact remains that it was a privately-endowed university and cost considerably more than Begala's state-funded University of Texas or even my alma mater, the University of Virginia (which, thanks to Bob McDonnell, is now more privately-endowed than state-funded).

Truth is, Bill was always destined to live in Belmont, otherwise known as Brentwood in Los Angeles.

The Fishtowners, white and black, were those poor souls, presented as normal parts of their demographic, shown in Alexandra Pelosi's patronising film shorts shown several weeks ago on the program - and they are people whom Bill Maher would cross the street to avoid in real life, much less real time.

It's insulting when someone who has no concept of working class life seeks to identify himself with such people, because mostly, this is done to curry popularity and favour. Bill is quick to identify Willard pandering to the (white) masses and now trying to curry favour with the youth vote.

Bill should look in the mirror.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Real Time Hodge Podge

Sorry for the bad quality ... Good Gingrich jokes, and he actually refers to the President by his title. Don't agree about Bill's VP picks for Romney, though.



Uh-oh ... This oughta be good ... the social scientist who talks about poor whites ...



Jeez, I know Willard tries to empathise with the hoi-polloi and fails. Watch Bill do this too. Bill talks about Charles Murray's town with two sides of the social track - Belmont (the wealthy side) and Fishtown (the poor people). Bill says the town where he grew up was like that and that he was from Fishtown ... i.e., the wrong side of the tracks.

Pull the fucking other one ... Bill Maher grew up in prosperous white Northern New Jersey, in a bedroom town called River Vale. His father was a news editor at the local NBC-affiliated radio station. That is not poor white. By his upper middle class, white-collared town, it might be, but by normal standards, it's not.

More on that later.

The Panel:-



Three Cornell graduates dipping on a Texas Longhorn ... or is it a Yankee thing? And S E, thirty-odd years ago, in the Seventies, when I finished college, guess what? All my friends and I moved back in with Mom and Dad. That's not reprehensible, and it's not new.

Paul Begala shows the Yankees that sometimes you can't beat good, old-fashioned Southern common sense.

Bill should address his own racism instead of pandering to a shallow, liberal audience. However, he's right about the Mormons. And Mitt's a tither.

New Rules:



Bill can be so puerile.

Having said that, pretty good editorial, but who remembers Bill wanted to be John Edwards's bitch, himself?

Overtime:-

Thursday, April 26, 2012

If You Want to Know What Paul Ryan's Budget Will Look Like, Look at Britain

Martin Bashir shows us all exactly what would happen if Paul Ryan's budget becomes the law of the land. Because it's the law of the land in Britain, who - today - officially announced it's in double dip recession.




By the way, this time last year, the Brits were sucking their bad teeth over the fact that middle class Americans were resorting to charity foodbanks, a concept unknown in the UK. Well, foodbanks subtly began dotting up on horizons here in Britain last autumn, and today it was announced that since January, alone, some 120,000 people had resorted to using charity foodbanks - many from, yes, the leafy suburban middle classes.

Morning Joe's Gonad Politics: Two Pricks and a Plagiarist Spinning

Joe Scarborough's angry that Willard isn't sufficiently conservative for his tastes, and he and Mark Halperin agree that the President is wrong to paint Willard as a Rightwing radical. And, Mike Barnicle, plagiarist, just thinks when people see Romney, they won't be afraid of him ... you know, like they might be with a black guy.

Not only that, but Joe, Dick Halperin and Barnicle all try to spin Jimmy Carter's remarks into a covert endorsement of Willard. Listen to President Carter, who's quick to say he'd prefer a Democrat in the White House, but who's nicely saying that Willard's just the best of a bad lot to tolerate. Joe's been up North too long. He should recognise Southernspeak.

The media does, however, favour Willard, to the extent of proclaiming amazement that a "Democratic leader" like Jimmy Carter would almost give his blessing to a Romney Presidency.




Folks, this is gonad politics at its worst. Willard can be as moderate as he wants - the fact is, should he be elected, the Republicans in Congress, if they win the upper hand, would force him as far to the Right as is humanly possible. Considering he's a man who's already said he isn't overly concerned about the poor, has gone on record as having endorsed the Ryan Budget, and has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, I'd say Rightwing radical is an apt description of Willard.

Never forget that in popular cinematic culture, Willard was a man who was comfortable in the company of rats.

Not much has changed then.

Jon Lovitz: Arrogant Idiot and Asshole

Jon Lovitz, formerly of Saturday Night Live, and now making a living showing the world how verbally inarticulate he is, launched into a totally foul-mouthed diatribe against the President during his ABC's of SNL podcast, along with co-host Kevin Smith.

Lovitz, who purports to be a Democrat and says he voted for the President in 2008, sounded more like the Libertarian arm of the Republican party in what descended into a profane rant against the President demanding that the rich step up to the plate and pay more taxes.

Lovitz pays enough taxes, thank you very much, he reckons, before he launches into an insanely ignorant soliloquy about having to pay fifty cents on every dollar he makes, one dollar on every two dollars he profits. Uhhh ... I'll be the first to admit that I'm no maths genius, but I make that a 50% tax rate, something that's as foreign to the United States as universal healthcare.

The gist of this entire, five-minute, potty-mouthed rant is that Lovitz and the rest of the 1% with whom he (a Democrat, mind you) identifies, pay enough taxes and (his words) the President (whom he wantonly refers to by his surname only, just like every other Progressive opinionator in the country) is just a "fucking asshole" for even suggesting this.

Experience the articulace of Jon Lovitz, yourself:-



Comedy or not, it's poor satire, and in an election year, when you get a self-proclaimed Democratic big mouth with a podium, not only implying that the President is an arrogant idiot, but openly calling him a "fucking asshole," people, the Democrats are in deep doo-doo.

I hope the laughter in this segment is canned, because in listening to that, the only fucking asshole I heard and recognised was Jon Lovitz.

This guy obviously has a problem with the President, and I suggest to you that it's more than paying more taxes. But let's not say openly what it is, shall we?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We the People

If you're seriously thinking about voting for Romney, or voting Third Party or not even voting (both of which are tantamount to voting for Romney), you seriously need to listen to The Boss.



Emphasis on the "we." We the people. We take care of our own. Yes, we can.

This is what the Democratic Party is all about - looking out for our own, making the 99% more relevant and stronger, standing up to the 1% who will dominate this country, economically, sociologically and, certainly, religiously.

We can rise from the ashes. We can do it again. We built this country - white, black, brown, yellow, of every nationality and every hue. E Pluribus Unum ... Out of many, one. One as a whole. One, meaning many, meaning we.


The Democrats are we.  Everyone else is after the singular ego.

We look after our own, and yes, we can will achieve et in Arcadia ego ... Not Mitt Romney.

Look at the faces of those people in the video. Those faces mean nothing to Willard.

We look after our own, even if they hate us doing so. That's why we're Democrats. (Or, at least, it should be why we are.)

The Brits Indulge in a Little Ethnic Cleansing

Oh, to be in London in the springtime of the year. The rain is pelting down and gales lash against the White Cliffs of Dover. The Conservatives are in power, Rupert Murdoch's being persecuted and it's less than a hundred days until the Olympics begin.

They're being held in what was and is known as the East End of London, traditionally one of the poorest areas in the city. And one of the most ethnically diverse.

For any of you would-be Anglophiles, who get your knowledge of Brit-Life from the likes of Katty Kay or PBS repeats of Eastenders, the East End used to look like this:


But now, it looks more like this:-


There's been quite a bit of controversy in the news lately about what's effectively been described as sociological ethnic cleansing centering around certain areas of London.

Let me explain something. In the UK, there is, as in the US, swathes of government-subsidised housing for low income people. That which we would call "the projects," the Brits refer to as "council estates" (as in maintained with government assistance by the local councils). But since Maggie Thatcher made it possible for tenants to buy their rented council properties, there have been few new council properties being built. Instead, the government has been encouraging private landlords to rent their properties to local councils in order to house low-income people. Rents are guaranteed to be paid by the council, as most tenants are on housing benefit anyway - which means they get reimbursed part of the rent they pay by the government.

But there's a problem now with rents and property values rising. Because whilst the East End houses lots of poor people - most of whom are immigrants with brown or black skin - it's also very close to the financial sector, and now the rich, young banksters are buying up properties and sending real estate values sky high.

Result? The local councils can no longer afford to subsidise poor people when landlords' rents and property values, in general, are rising.

Solution? The Tories (that's Conservatives) have it sussed: ship the council tenants out of London, get some mug council someplace in the North of England, where it's cheaper (and whiter) to take on a bundle of people too poor to pay a real rent. Especially from the East End, which is going to be swamped with American tourists here for the Olympics this year.

I mean, it wouldn't do for Americans  to get confused and think they were on Main Street, Jalalabad, instead of someplace in East London. They want fish'n chip shops, not Halal butchers.

Of course, The Guardian reveals all.

A number of London councils are planning to move housing benefitclaimants outside the capital as cuts shrink the number of properties affordable to people on welfare, prompting fears that a policy to export poor residents of the capital will strengthen "divisive rightwing extremism" in northern towns.
Tory-led councils such as Hillingdon, Croydon and Westminster have admitted either placing claimants outside the capital or said they were preparing to do so. Adverts have been placed in local newspapers in Berkshire asking for landlords to become part of a "three to five years guaranteed local authority scheme".
A political storm erupted over the policy to ship out poor households when it emerged that Labour-run Newham council was planning to move 500 families who relied on housing benefit some 160 miles away, to Stoke-on-Trent.
Newham council says it can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation. It says rent rises linked to the Olympics and the demand for housing from young professionals has caused rents to rocket in east London.

But the controversy surrounds Newham council, the poorest area of London's East End, which is controlled by - surprise, surprise - Labour, who are proposing to relocate 500 council tenant families from their homes in the area (which have become too expensive for the council to maintain) up North to Stoke-on-Trent, which is about 170 miles as the crow flies.

Here's what happened:-

Newham said the gap between market rents and the housing allowance was too big following the central government cap on housing benefit payments. Since January, councils have been writing to claimants telling them of shortfalls in rent that they will have to make up. The Chartered Institute of Housing estimates that Newham must have at least 1,500 families affected by welfare cuts immediately.
Newham, one of the most economically deprived local authorities in the UK, which legally must house claimants, said it had had to look "further afield for an alternative supply" of affordable housing.
The Labour-controlled local authority, which will host 2012 Olympics events, wrote to the Brighter Futures housing association in Stoke, offering it the "opportunity" to lease homes to the council.
Gill Brown, chief executive of Brighter Futures, wrote to local MPs warning of the consequences if "London boroughs are allowed to export their most vulnerable and challenging families to cities like Stoke-on-Trent".
She likened it to the experiences of 10 years ago, when a Home Office dispersal programme moved thousands of refugees into privately owned properties in north Staffordshire.
"The result was huge unplanned pressure on local services, the collapse of already vulnerable neighbourhoods and the rise of divisive rightwing extremism," she said.
A Labour MP warned that Newham's move was the "tip of the iceberg". Karen Buck, the Labour MP who was passed the Newham letter, said it showed that ministers were wrong when they claimed no one would need to move as landlords would lower rents to accommodate welfare cuts.
She said there was increasing evidence that local authorities were not able to meet their responsibilities. "We see homelessness rising, rents rising and this is a big problem for a government which claimed that none of this would happen."

And, if that's not bad enough, certain landlords who've leased properties to the councils are beginning to evict council tenants who can no longer pay rents due to their Conservative-inspired cut in rent caps.

Again, The Guardian sports the tale of a landlord "forced" to evict a young family from one of his properties because they could not afford his rent, and their rent cap (benefit) had been cut. Here's how the landlord described the situation:-

"The social cost is immeasurable. Lives are being wrecked," he said. "I don't like ethnic cleansing, and that is what is happening." He described the tenants he was in the process of evicting as "exclusively non-white".
"I don't think that it will save any money and I am very worried about the social implications. What is going to happen to the kids? We have tenants in the office crying, regularly," he said, asking not to be named.
"Secure home life is important. See where this ends up in four years. See what social issues you are going to have… We are asking for trouble."

The obvious problem now is the rise of the English Defence League (think Tea Party on steroids) in the areas in the Midlands and North of England where a lot of these poor people are being shifted. This is a tinderbox waiting to explode. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time to Put the the Right Kind of Blue into Blue Collar

Yes, I'm a Baby Boomer. Yes, I was part of that post-War generation who was, I suppose, brought up in what some now call the Age of Prosperity. I can just about remember Kennedy's Inaugural speech, the one where he chided us to "ask not what our country could do for us, ask what we could do for our country."

My part of the Baby Boom generation came of age in time to benefit from the legacy of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the legislative gains which enabled thousands of working class kids to receive a university education.

I can also remember when the working class, my heritage, was staunchly and solidly Democratic. I was raised to believe the Democratic Party was the party of the working man and woman. "If you have to work to live," my daddy used to say, "You're working class. Own it."

I do. I'm proud of my heritage, but I'm not so proud that much of today's working class has abandoned the Democratic Party or that much of today's Democratic Party has abandoned the working class. I think it's time contact was re-established, and maybe the scions of the Democratic Party need to re-examine their own backgrounds and make the first move.

Here are two proud sons of working class families, good Democrats, and - no matter how much wealth they've accrued - still wear the blue collar aura with pride.

Monday, April 23, 2012

When NO Means NO, Dennis Kucinich

Not content with the fact that the newly redistricted Congressional district in Ohio chose Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur as their candidate to run against Joe the Plumber, Dennis Kucinich has traipsed cross-country back to what he perceives to be the Pacific Northwest ueber-Liberal haven of Washington State, complete with a survey for potential registered Democratic voters.

The survey has one question:-

Should Dennis Kucinich run for Congress from Washington State?

Apparently, Washington has pretty lax residency laws for anyone wanting to run for public office. All you have to do is find a place to rent and register before May 18th to be able to declare yourself a candidate for public office.

It may have escaped Dennis's attention, amidst all the anger, bitterness and general angst at being refused by people literally right from his backyard (not that he ever really lived in Toledo for many years - at least not in the 16 years he represented Ohio's 10th Congressional District. His recently-acquired trophy wife (thirty years younger) hails from the sophisticated part of the Southeast of England (that's London or its leafy suburbs), and somehow, I don't see her settling nicely in a place like Toledo (too much like the deprived part of Bolton, Lancashire - not that she's ever seen that) - but until January 2013, Dennis actually has a job to do: representing the people of the 10th for as long as it's extant.

So he got rejected. It happens to the best of us, but now he wants to relocate, abandon the people who actually did elect him in Ohio, to try to court up the people of Washington State, just because they're supposedly as ueber-liberal as he is?

Something smells here ... oh, wait ... I know ... it's positively parliamentary! You see, in the UK, we have what's known as "safe seats" in Parliament. They're seats that have always been Labour or Conservative since Jesus walked this "green and pleasant land." (Cough, cough). If the devil, himself, stood for Parliament as a Conservative from a safe conservative seat, he'd win. A lot of these safe seats serve as springboards for aspiring young politicians. And you don't have to be from the area you represent.

I live in the Southeast of England, closer to France than London. Until 2010, the Member of Parliament representing the constituency in which I live was from Wales. He lived in London, and had a weekend home in our area. But he'd never lived here full-time, never raised his children here, never shopped here, never had a business here. The house was bought for "residency purposes" and used whenever he'd come back for the odd weekend and photo opportunity. The latest MP comes from closer to home - just North of London. Again, no home here, apart from the ubiquitous one for weekend jaunts.

The MP for Vauxhall district in London is from Northern Ireland. Tony Blair was nominally Scottish and represented a Northeastern constituency which, had he had to live there, he'd probably have died rather than do so.

This is par for the course in Britain, because most people who serve in Parliament are professional politicians - educated to do nothing else but campaign and play politics from the time they enter university. In the US, we call them "carpetbaggers."

Remember Hillary Clinton being called that when she decided to run for the Senate from New York? Dubya Bush was equally one - don't be fooled by the phony Southern accent. In 2009, the voters of Virginia decided they didn't want Terry McAuliffe to be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate because he had a whiff of the Carpetbagger about him. So they elected Bob McDonnell as Governor ... who happened to be from Pennsylvania and, yes, a Carpetbagger.

Go figure.

Maybe Dennis has taken his wife's advice in this. I mean, Washington shopping and lifestyle has to be hard to give up, and Washington state is probably a lot cooler, sociologically and otherwise, than Toledo; but in this last-ditch effort of practically begging to be sent back to Congress from anyplace (as long as it's hip and liberal) is embarrassingly desperate and makes Dennis seem more of a common-and-garden political hack rather than a crusading Progressive.

Even Stank Cenk Uygur thinks as much, because he was certainly taken aback by Dennis's concession speech, when he lost the Democratic nod to Marcy Kaptur. Check it out, and check out Stank's Cenk's rare moment of political acuity.



You know, this is probably why Dennis lost this battle. I mean, here's the man who not only sued the cafeteria in the US Congress after breaking a tooth biting into an olive pit, he also made mincemeat of the media calling for the President's impeachment for his role in aiding Libyan liberty.

Or maybe the reason Dennis lost was because last year, when the world was beginning to turn away in revulsion of the bloody clampdown by the Syrian President on the anti-government protestors, Dennis and wife breezed into Damascus and spent a few days kissing Assad's assad.

After all, it was Dennis who asserted that President Assad was "highly loved and esteemed by the Syrians."

But that's not enough. Last year, it seems that documents found in deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi's compound show that Dennis was in correspondence with the regime, asking for titbits of information regarding possible corruption in the Transitional Council and evidence of any of the rebels' involvement with Al-Qaeda - probably to show how inept, irresponsible and reckless the President from his own party was in Dennis's attempt to impeach him.

Who would want a Democrat like that?

It seems, not many in Washington, according to Seattle Times Op-ed columnist Joni Balter, who succingtly writes in a recent editorial:

"Should Dennis Run in Washington State?" He should know already that we have plenty of our own politicians, Democrats and Republicans, who can capably fill open seats in the 1st, 6th and 10th congressional districts.

Those who have announced intentions to run know the issues. They know their neighbors, because they have spent more than 10 minutes in their districts. They even know how to pronounce Willapa and Washtucna.

Few among us are clamoring for a politician with five toes in Ohio to come, rent a place to "live," establish residency and pretend that somehow, lickety-split, he is the best person to interpret and translate the needs of Northwesterners.

The Democratic leadership certainly has no use for him.

"I think this is thoroughly offensive to the people of Washington state and thoroughly offensive to his (Ohio) district," said Dwight Pelz, chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party. "He is obviously the ultimate definition of a carpetbagger, a person who moves into a district moments before the deadline, rents an apartment and, instantly, he is a resident of Washington state and a candidate for Congress."

Few Washingtonians can get upset about people moving here and working in the public or private sectors. Many of our top politicians hail from somewhere else: former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, to name two.

The good ones came and spent the time learning about the place before running for office. Kucinich pretends he can straddle big parts of the continent, representing Ohio while flying in to speechify and participate in marches.

Are we supposed to buy the idea that Kucinich is a good fit because he had a seminal experience years ago when he supposedly saw a UFO while hanging out with Hollywood actress Shirley MacLaine near Graham, Pierce County?

(Oh, Lord ... there's a Virginia connection ... my bad).

(snip)

The law says Kucinich can come here and file for residency before May 18. All he has to do is rent or buy a place to live. Nothing in Washington law says he has to stop representing Ohio. But that doesn't make it the wise thing to do or make him the best fit for any of our districts.

If you think about it, Kucinich would just be repotting the plant, so to speak, trying to match his own liberal politics to fresh soil in Washington.

Another part of the equation: He is just enough of an annoyance for Democrats who worry he will detract from homegrown office seekers in districts with open seats. All of which prompted state Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur to quip that he will pay Kucinich's airfare to the state anytime and every time the congressman from Ohio wishes.

Aye, there's the rub. In trying to be the voice of the most fickle part of the Democratic party, the Progressive Left, Dennis has, inadvertantly, become the most useful idiot the Republicans have at their disposal.

If he truly wanted to do some good, he'd go back to Ohio, maybe get a job at Ohio State, lecturing in political science, start a PAC and start to raise some money. It's not long until 2014, when Ohio Governor John Kasich will be up for re-election. In opposing him, Kucinich would be doing the utmost in promoting Democratic interests and could regain a new political life.

But, at the end of the day, for Dennis, it's all been about one thing: Dennis.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Race Is About Race

Virginia gave the world the first American wife. Virginia gave the UK the first female member of Parliament.

Virginian women go where others fear to tread, and so Melissa Harris-Perry, child of Charlottesville, said what millions of people have thought about the election of 2012, but few have dared to say:

At the end of the day, it's all going to be about how many people in America are willing to re-elect a black man.

Oh, let's be even more specific ... how many white people are going to do that?

For all the rhetoric about the economy, the deficit, the war on women, the wars in the Middle East and dogs riding on the tops of cars, it all boils down to re-electing a black man and why various demographics elected such a man in the first place.

Melissa's best moment comes in her introduction, when she calls out all the Progressive types who only voted for the President in order to be part and parcel of a great moment in United States history ... we see their types in Bill Maher, who moans about voting for a black man, but getting a white man, who donates a cool million bucks to the President's SuperPAC and then spends the rest of the campaign moaning on his very public forum about how disappointed he is with the man. How to get your candidate elected ... not.

Yes, Melissa sets the cat amongst the pigeons, but her ineffective panel dance around the issue like a duck dances around a june bug ... wanting to talk about every other demographic and campaign strategy but the obvious problem the President faces.

Watch and learn ...


Why Learn Civics When It's So Much Fun Pissing on the President?

OK, yesterday was 4/20. It was also my dad's birthday. And it was also Hitler's birthday too.

Of course, limousine liberals would celebrate the first event and fingerpoint at the Right on the third, but it seems that the issue associated with the first event - the legalisation of recreational drugs - is what's really got the Progressive Left angry. I mean, like really, really, really angry - angry enough to stay home from the polls in November.

Because, you know, Puritopians or EmoProgs or whatever just have to have something about which they can be angry with the President.

Otherwise, life isn't worth living.

This was proven in the online Overtime segment of Real Time last night.



Just start off the whine about the President poo-poohing the idea of legalising drugs, and all the usual cockroach talking points come scurrying from the woodwork.

Thomas Frank: Obama promised to repeal NAFTA.

Chrystia Freeland (who's a mutant cross between Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston and Megan Mullaly): Gitmo's still open, Gitmo's still open!

And, of course, the two resident conservatives have suddenly become all-too-sympathetic to the plight of poor pot smokers, nationwide.

Look, I would love to see pot legalised. And taxed for revenue. But for all this posturing and expostulating, this panel (and its moderator) still exhibit an amazing amount of ignorance when it comes to the powers of the Presidency (which ain't much).

End NAFTA? Repeal it?

End Gitmo? Didn't the President try to do just that?

But in both these cases, the eminent talking heads, and Bill, are ignoring the part played by a very important player in our government ... Congress. And the last time I looked, the House belonged to the Republicans, and the Senate is only being held by Democratic fingernails.

But, hey ... even the Buffett Rule failed the Senate test. I guess what Bill Maher observed about that holds true about NAFTA, Gitmo and marijuana ... something to do with a black President.

Sometimes, your allies do a helluva good job masquerading as enemies.

And finally ... a special word for the avowed "liberals" on the panel - yes, that's YOU, Maher and Frank ... it's PRESIDENT Obama. Or maybe your consistent propensity with referring to the President by his last name only has, you know, something to do with him being a black President.

Real Time on 4.20 (or Hitler's Birthday)



Good pot joke about the Senate. Thought he was amazingly condescending to the lady farmer. Plus, I'm glad she blanked out the racist joke he made.

Panel I



The awful Canadian Chrysta Freeland ... a mutant lovechild of Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston with razorblades for vocal chords.

Panel II with Ross Douthit. It gets worse.



Panel III: Don't ever try to argue economics with hardcore Republicans.



Good New Rule about Newt the Pussy Hound.

Overtime:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cash Cows, Chavs and Social Climbers

Women have been given pretty short shrift lately.

On one hand, the Republican party is systematically trying to chip away every hard-earned, hard-fought right which women have attained over many years - the right to equal pay, the right to chose and plan our families, the right to fair and equal treatment in the workplace, the right, even, to vote.

We get called "sluts" by Rush Limbaugh and "cunts" by Bill Maher. The Republicans accuse the Democrats of disdaining women who stay at home to raise children. The Democrats accuse the Republicans of championing women who are financially secure enough to stay at home and raise children whilst ripping away the social safety net of those mothers who have to work to feed their families.

But sometimes, women - aided and abetted by the media - are their own worst enemies.

And so it comes to pass, that no less a media staple than Time magazine has named to its list of the world's One Hundred Most Influential People, no other than Kate and Pippa Middleton, whom the magazine has labeled the very "avatars of aspiration."

They share the list with Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and a woman who is truly an avatar of aspiration, IMF chief Christine Lagarde. Even their own Prime Minister, that nice David Cameron, didn't make the list.

Who are the Middleton sisters?

Pardon me whilst I revert to my Southern bitchy roots ... They're the over-hyped, over-photographed daughters of the sort of people my mother would refer to as scrubbed-up white trash. Mummy came from nothing and became an airline stewardess - the one, as you do, who married the pilot. They retired from the friendly skies to start an internet children's party company catering to the wealthy set around the UK. They made enough money to send all three kids to private schools. The highest aspiration the girls sought was simply to marry well.

Kate bagged the big prize - Prince William, son of Chas and Di, and now she's no less than the Duchess of Cambridge. She got an MRS degree from the same university as Wills got his proper one; then she got a graduate degree in waiting around, doing nothing in a million-pound pad bought by Daddy, waiting for William to propose - hence the nickname working Brits gave her: Waitey Katey.

Pippa's done even less, but now she basks in Kate's glory, and that gets her high-class beaux, expensive presents and loads of sponsorships from blue-chip farts for doing nothing. In another day and time she'd be called a grande horizontale - otherwise, nicely known as a prize "cash cow."

The Guardian reported this elevation of the Britain's version of the Kardashians with its usual aplomb, especially in the way they describe Time's drooling.

According to the magazine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Pippa Middleton earn their position as "avatars of aspiration" amid a British class system riddled with snobbery.

"To appreciate the remarkable rise of the siblings whose very name, Middleton, seemed to presage an unremarkable life among their fellow commoners, you must first appreciate the forces that keep most Britons in their place," Time magazine's Europe editor, Catherine Mayer, writes of their inclusion.

"Snobbery is one luxury all classes feel able to afford. The man and woman in the UK street are swift to mock the upwardly mobile," the citation continues.

Their entry points to the media's "muttered nasty somethings" about the duchess's ambition to "wed above her station", pointing to her supposed nickname of "Waity Katie" and bracketing her and Pippa, 28, as "the wisteria sisters" determined to climb.

Pippa is now "globally recognised, especially from behind", it states, undoubtedly in reference to the Sarah Burton bridesmaid dress that drew so much comment at her sister's wedding. Incidentally, Burton is also listed. Paparazzi photographs of the two sisters are offered to picture editors regularly.

"These images matter. The Middletons have become avatars of aspiration," it says. Yet they are "latter day Mona Lisas" who "smile mysteriously and keep their mouths closed", it adds.

"In an age of bleating, tweeting, confessional celebrity, the middle-class Middletons show their real class," the magazine continues.


That's right. Pippa's famous for the shape of her ass in a designer frock. She's also famous, more recently, for riding around the streets of Paris with a high-class boyfriend and jokingly waving a gun - a gun! - at the pursuing papparazzi. Whatever "class" Pippa has, she sure doesn't have sense of history. Maybe someone should remind her of what fate generally befalls well-heeled young Englishwomen who tease and taunt the media through the streets of Paris.

There's something disturbing about the fact that these two women - women, who, like Ann Romney, will be defined by the choices their wealth, celebrity and social connections afford them, will never know or care about the lack of choice which defines their sisters lower down the social ladder. There's something even more insulting that women who have accomplished nothing except bagging the Prince and basking in the glory of that bagging in order to bag an equally rich marital prospect, should be included on the same list as women who've genuinely used their intellect and abilities to crash through the glass ceiling and actually achieve something - women like Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel, not that either Middleton would know or even care who those women are.

There's something even funnier in their aspirations, and that's the fact that they are one generation removed from a social stigma the British refer to as chavdom.

A "chav" in the British equivalent of poor, white trash, and even though the Middleton girls and their brother (whose entrepreneurial aspirations have certainly been helped by his "royal" connections) might scrub up well, their mamma lets slip every now and then - like chewing gum when she's talking to the Queen (not something that Henry VIII would have countenanced).

Then ... there's Uncle Gary ... the drugs dealer, who lives in a villa financed off his cocaine sales. The estate is situated in that area of Spain known as the Costa del Crime.

Here are some pictures of Uncle Gary:-

Here's Uncle Gary cutting some prime coke:-


And here's Uncle Gary fore:-


And aft:-


He could almost be found with a meth lab on any trailer park in any divey part of any town in America. How's that?

Oh, and here's Ma Middleton:-


By the way, Uncle Gary's benefitted from the Royal connection too. He's just signed to appear on the Brit version of "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here." I daresay, he'll bag a few new clients for his cocaine operation whilst in the Australian jungle.

The cult of celebrity dismays me. Our own Kardishians are embarrassing enough, but you expect them to be tacky - even at the expense of making a former Olympic gold medalist share in their tack and tat.

But I came of age on the cusp of the first wave of real feminism, when women were encouraged to get educated with a view to accomplishing something professionally, to achieve something more from university than a husband who was a doctor or a lawyer or Mitt Romney.

And now, in the 21st Century, we see two women, brought up exclusively to sell themselves to the highest bidder, entirely on their sexual merits.

In an age when that nice David Cameron's government is running roughshod over genuinely poor people and rescinding many of their benefits, one of these social climbing cash cows has managed to latch onto the biggest of all taxpayer-funded tits to suck, and is carrying her sister, brother, mother and dodgy uncle along for the ride.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bill Maher Is Not Foster Freiss

Now the Republicans are trying bullying tactics again. They're after the Democrats to return the million-dollar donation Bill Maher made to the President's SuperPAC because of "offensive" remarks Maher allegedly made about the fragrant Ann Romney on his panel show last Friday.

Here are the offensive words. (Have the smelling salts handy!)



OK, I happen to think Maher is a misogynist and a racist, but on this one, I'll give him the benefit of a doubt, because he told the truth and in words I would have used. Ann Romney had the choice to stay home and raise her children. Most women don't. And it's true - Mrs Romney has never been in the situation where she had to get her ass out the front door and get to work.

Crudely put? Possibly. Offensive? Not in the least. Sometimes, the truth hurts.

And if the Republicans are offended by the remarks made by someone who donated a measly million dollars to the President's campaign, what about the really offensive remarks Republican mega-donator, Foster Freiss, made about women and their right to birth control?

Remember this?



Bill Maher told the truth, brusquely, about Ann Romney. Multi-millionaire Freiss insulted the intelligence of an entire gender.

Maybe the Democrats should demand the Republicans return the millions (plural) Freiss has contributed?

Ted Nugent Is Worse Than Hilary Rosen, But Willard Says Nothing

When Mrs Romney took umbrage at Hilary Rosen's inopportune, but truthful, remarks, her husband and the Republican party declared that the Democrats were against stay-at-home moms.

And so the President and every ranking Democrat moved quickly to disavow Rosen's remarks and reinforce the obvious truth that mothers have the hardest job in the world - whether they work outside the home or not.

In other words, ranking Democrats threw Rosen under the bus, and she was forced to apologise for what Mrs Romney, all-too-smugly, later referred to as an early birthday gift.

Now let's flip the political coin to the other side.

Whilst speaking at the annual National Rifle Association conference, failed rock star and wannabe gunslinger, Ted Nugent, had some choice things to say about the President:-



That's right, eminent Constitutional scholar, Ted Nugent, delivers a three-minute party political broadcast in favour of Willard, chocked to the brim with lies, slander and - oh - just the occasional veiled threat.

First of all, he singles out, not only the President, but also the Attorney General. I wonder why? It's not rocket science. He accuses them of - I quote - "wiping their asses with the Constitution."

He has some words about the four liberal justices on the Supreme Court, accompanied by a shout of "Communists" from the audience. He accuses these four of being - again, I quote - "intellectually vacuous punks."

Pardon me, but the only intellectually vacuous punk I see is the one spewing lies, hatred and subtle racism.

Of course, he caps it all off with what can only be described (and what has been interpreted by the Secret Service) as a direct, albeit veiled, threat:-

"If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

Sounds like a threat to me, big Ted implying that he's willing to risk his life or his liberty to "save" the country from four more years of a black man in the White House.

Then, he ends by giving his own Palinesque version of our American Revolution. I think Ted needs to read some actual history. We did do a fair bit of negotiating with England before we decided to break and declare independence. And compromise has always been the bedrock of our democratic process, not decapitating people at the polls as he so figuratively describes.

And, please ... someone tell Ted Nugent that Braveheart, the movie, was the biggest pack of lies masqueraded as fiction - produced, directed and starring a racist, just like Ted Nugent.

Besides, Ted, at the end of the day ... Scotland lost. Like the Republicans.

And at the end of the actual day, after these very public and very slanderous remarks, which included a threat on the life of the President of the United States, has Willard or Ann Romney stepped forward and condemned Ted Nugent.

No.

Remember that.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Three White Southern Men Disrespect and Patronise a Woman and a Person of Colour

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A Perfect Picture of White Privilege

Willard and Ann Romney.

In an interview with Ann Sawyer to be broadcast tonight, Willard issued a curt message to the President: "Start packing."

And Miss Ann added, "It's our turn."

Because, you know, it just wouldn't do to have a black man in the White House who isn't a butler. And even if he has to lie to get what he wants, Willard will do just that.

Because he's Willard, he's rich, and he's white.

When Men Treat Women Like This ... There's a Problem

Watch (from last Thursday's Morning Joe):-



Mika Brzezinski deserves some kind of medal for keeping her cool and being unfailingly polite when faced with what can only be described as a table filled with men whose mammas ought to hang their heads in shame at the way they didn't bring them up.

I've never seen such overt rudeness and patronising of a woman since I was first year at a university which had formerly been all-male, didn't want women there and whose male students did everything within what they thought was their power to get us to leave.

Scarborough hasn't progressed, socially, past the uncouth, ill-bred fraternity boy he undoubtedly was at Alabama. The plagiarist, Mike Barnicle, exhibits the downside of Celtic misogyny. And the rest are just herd-followers.

I know Scarborough is a Republican, who masquerades his Tea Party tendencies behind a fallacious "moderate" mask; I'm not sure about the political affiliations of the rest, but when men treat a woman, seated at the discussion table as an equal, in the brutish and patronising way these pricks treated Mika, she deserves a good shot of vodka. I'd need one too, to deal with such incivility.

But ...

It's not just a problem of the Right. Look:-



Another pasty-faced fraternity boy, this time from the Ivy League, who affects a Left-leaning stance and seeks to refer to a female employee of Fox News (who happens to be a qualified attorney) a "blonde twit."

Jane Harman, however, a Democrat, swiftly moves to remind Bill Maher that this sort of language, in refering to women, and this sort of attitude toward women, in general, is unacceptable.

And he reacts like a spoiled schoolboy being sent to the naughty step by the teacher.

With people like Scarborough and Maher (and many others), is it any wonder we have trouble getting responsible and intelligent women to enter political life?

Glenn Greenwald Needs to Come to Britain

I'm a bit worried. I watched GiGi a few weeks ago on Real Time and actually found him the most likeable of Bill Maher's guests. He sat beside Bill and smiled, but for some reason, Bill didn't respond.

Anyway, have I got a place for GiGi to visit ... The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I'd actually be on GiGi's side here. I'd egg him on, chipping away at everything that nice David Cameron and his assistant premier Nick (Legover) Clegg are hoping to achieve.

At last ... at last the New York Times reports something that's been bubbling away here in the UK for weeks. As the article reports:-

The George W. Bush team must be consumed with envy. Britain’s government is preparing sweeping new legislation that would let the country’s domestic intelligence agencies monitor all private telephone, e-mail, text message, social network and Internet use in the country, bypassing requirements for judicial warrants.

As with all such legislation on both sides of the Atlantic, sponsors promote the bill as a necessary new tool to keep the public safer from would-be terrorists, child molesters and common criminals. We are not convinced. What such sweeping new powers surely would do is compromise the privacy and liberty of law-abiding British citizens without reasonable justification.

Proper warrants, in Britain, as in the United States, are not hard to obtain whenever there is reasonable cause. And without such cause, the authorities should not have unchecked power to snoop on private conversations. As Britain’s ongoing hacking scandals demonstrate, unflattering private information in police hands can be selectively leaked or bartered to unprincipled media outlets with painful consequences.

The measures now being contemplated would betray the election promises of both parties in Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition to be more protective of traditional British civil liberties than their Labor Party predecessors. When Tony Blair proposed similar legislation in 2006, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, both then in opposition, rightly opposed it and Labor backed down.

The government’s proposed law will not be unveiled until next month. But the British press is full of semi-official leaks. The Sunday Times of London reported a few weeks ago that Internet companies would be required to install hardware that would let intelligence agencies routinely monitor headers and patterns of communication and give the agencies the capacity to monitor the contents of individual communications without a warrant.

There is still time for more reasonable voices to prevail. David Davis, for example, a leading Conservative backbencher, has publicly challenged the proposal for not focusing on terrorists or criminals, but on “absolutely everybody.” He rightly characterizes it as “an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary innocent people in vast numbers.”

Britain has no formal equivalent of America’s constitutional guarantee against unreasonable search, although that concept is rooted in English common law. But Britain has its own long and admirable civil liberties traditions going back to the Magna Carta of 1215.

With London’s Olympics just months away, we recognize the need for vigilance against terrorist plots. But this legislation would go much too far. It needs to be rethought to protect the privacy of innocent British citizens.

I just had to include the entire article because it informs America just exactly what's going on in a country many Puritopians highlight as being more tolerant, open-minded and liberal than the US. Several so-called Leftwing pundits have even asserted that the Conservative, that nice David Cameron, is actually more to the Left than our own President.

It's one thing for Cameron to champion same-sex marriage, challenging some in his own Anglican Church and, indeed, in his own party, but it's quite another thing to put private citizenry under what is tantamount to continuous surveillance.

Please note the highlighted parts. It's true that when Tony Blaier proposed such measures in the wake of 9/11 and the London Underground bombings, Cameron's party allied with the hard Left of Blair's party to condemnn and reject them ... just like the Republican party is now repudiating Romneycare, which was actually formulated some years before by Bob Dole.

So the next time someone wants to have a good old moan in the US about how repressed you are and how your civil liberties are being infringed by wicked, evil Barack Obama ... come to England, where STFU is close to becoming a law.

And I haven't even started on what that nice David Cameron is doing to the National Health.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Choice Is the Operative Word, Mrs Romney

Let's listen once again to Hilary Rosen's remarks, which offended so, so many Republicans:-



Her remarks didn't fuss me too much. I grew up in a household where my mother was a full-time mom. We weren't rich; we weren't poor. Would we have been better off, had she worked? Definitely.

But guess what?

My mother wasn't raised to go out into the world and work. She was a Southern girl, who came of age in the 1930s. OK, I know the South was backward, but she was raised to marry and marry well and as soon as possible. This is what she did.

When I was a kid in the 1960s, everybody's mom stayed at home. That was the way of the world then. One decade later, and I was in college studying with a view to having a career.

Things change.

I understood Rosen's word, not as anything detrimental to Ann Romney or to mothers in general; indeed, when she chose to respond to the remarks, Ann Romney, herself, only reinforced what Rosen meant.

You can read The Washington Post's account of her reply here.

But here's what Ann Romney tweeted:-

“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

And there's the rub.

The operative word is "choice."

Ann Romney married, very young, a man who was the son of an extremely wealthy man. Willard lived on trust funds, which plugged the holes in any household budget - not that his wages were ever very low. When Willard was involved in a traffic accident, whilst on his Mormon mission in France, Daddy contacted no less than Sargent Schriver, then the U S Ambassador to France, to ensure Willard were sufficiently and efficiently cared for in those socialist European hospitals.

How many other Morman missionaries, who, essentially, live off charity, could claim such attention?

But I think Rosen is right when she cites that Willard is time-warped in the 1950s - or at least the early 60s. His style is pure Mad Men. He does, indeed, have an old-fashioned, fairly quaint view of women, of which the rabid fundamentalists in the Republican party will fervently grasp and shape to fit their own pejorative agenda.

In that respect, Ann Romney, unwittingly colludes with that image:-

Early in Mitt Romney’s political career, their most traditional of marriages had been mocked — especially after his wife told the Boston Globe in 1994 that the pair had never had a “serious argument,” and that he had never raised his voice to her. If he had, she added, “I’d dissolve into tears.”

In that same interview, during her husband’s unsuccessful campaign for the Senate, Ann Romney gave an impolitic description of the closest thing to economic stress they couple had ever experienced. When her husband was in graduate school, she said, “we had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining.”

In the first instance, this is a statement made by a woman who "knows her place," and she knows, but doesn't consciously realise, that that place is somewhere between "chattel" and "second class citizen" which existed in some vague netherland immediately before or immediately after women got the vote.

In the second instance, this example removes the Romneys even further from any hope of understanding the lives and foibles of us ordinary folk. With Willard in graduate school and a couple of kids to nurture, Ann could still choose to stay at home and raise the kids, because they lived off stock dividends - when most wives of graduate students waited tables, taught school, worked as nurses or secretaries or whatever, in order to keep a wage coming in and food on the table. They didn't choose to do that. They had to do it.

And that's the difference between Ann Romney and all these women who are worried about the economy and jobs. A lot of those women who are doing the worrying are moms with children. They're worrying about the economy and jobs because, unlike Ann Romney, they don't have the choice of being able to stay at home with their children. Their jobs might mean the difference between being able to pay a mortgage and being made homeless. Their jobs might mean being able to buy healthy food and eating cheap processed junk.

I don't know Ann Romney. She looks and sounds like a very nice and sincere woman. I know she's not been well, and I applaud her courage in fighting debilitating disease. But, there again, she's had the best of health care because she's had the highest level of private health insurance - which didn't come to Ann by way of any job other than her husband's.

I wish her well, but I want everyone to realise that the Republican pushback in this instance is payback for the Democrats exposing the Republicans for their agenda against women's health.

It would be nice if Ann Romneys' husband had enough courage to address that.

Does Anyone See Anything Wrong with This? Because I Don't

Zut alors!

Gee, I remember learning that phrase back in the late 60s as a high school student learning French. I always wondered when or if I'd ever use it. When I got to college, learning proper French, I never heard it uttered by any of my professors, all of whom were French to the core. Whenever I've visited France - and I live about 30 miles, as the crow flies, from that country, I've never heard it, but I've dug it up now, because it so fits the mountain-in-a-molehill moment engulfing French politics at the moment.

Once again ... zut alors! President Sarkozy has been caught filming a tele-conference with Monsieru le President Obama, and the French are revolting. (Sorry, that's an old British joke - har-dee-har-har).

Here's the offensive article:-



According to The Observer (that's The Guardian dressed in its Sunday best), Sarkozy has now officially embarrassed France in front of the whole world.

Why?

Well, this is also an election year for Sarkozy, who isn't very popular in France for various reasons, and he's facing stiff opposition from little Miss Le Pen, who - had she been alive at the time - would have welcomed Hitler into France with opened arms and roses. Sarko is everything previous French Presidents have not been - a first generation Frenchman, Jewish, married to an internationally famous beauty who's counted Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger as notches on her lipstick case. He also had a famously public bust-up with Wife No 2 (who lives in New York); he's practiced a wee bit of nepotism in appointing his oldest son (from Wife No 1) to a lucrative public post; and he's blatantly pro-American in a way no President of France has been before.

Although the French are grateful for our help and have been in the past, we're still that Trans-Atlantic upstart who ensured that English, instead of French, became the international language of diplomacy. They're still smarting over the Louisiana Purchase and the fact that Monsieur Du Pont decided to immigrate to America. (And did you know that Napoleon's great-great nephew was in Teddy Roosevelt's Cabinet and founded the precursor of the FBI?)

Zut alors!

Anyway, the French are revolting, because they think it a crass move and rather tacky of Sarkozy to film a teleconference he had with our President. Why? Because - mon Dieu! - Sarkozy will do the unheard of thing of using this film as campaign fodder, and it just might help him win!

Days before the 22 April first-round vote in the French presidential election, the rare glimpse of banter between world leaders shows Obama saying of the campaign, "It must be a busy time." He adds: "I admire the tough battle you are waging." Sarkozy replies, grinning and with arms folded: "We will win, Mr Obama. You and me, together." The cameras leave before the presidents talk about Syria, Iran and oil.

The Socialist party accused Sarkozy of breaking diplomatic protocol and embarrassing France on the world scene in order to boost his struggling campaign for re-election, saying the images "weakened France's credibility in Washington and across the world".

The SNJ-CGT journalists' union at the state broadcaster France Televisions condemned what it deemed "a grotesque communications operation" by Sarkozy, calling it a "surrealist sequence" of electoral media strategy.

French media questioned whether the White House knew the footage would be made public or whether Obama was set up. But Washington told Le Monde it had indeed been aware that cameras were authorised to film the first few minutes of the video conference.

In answer to the French concerns, don't be so worried about our President. He's not the type to be set up so easily. That's a bit naughty and condescending to assume otherwise. And, of course, the President knew very well that Sarkozy was filming what amounted to be only the welcoming banter of a teleconference. Sarkozy knew that Obama would benefit from this because he could use such a film clip to emphasize his esteem, his standing and his ability to deal with other world leaders. In other words, it enhances his foreign affairs credibility against Willard's bluff and bluster.

As for the French Socialists' claims that Sarkozy embarrassed France in front of the world, I would have thought Dominique Strauss-Kahn pretty pretty much accomplished that.

I like Sarko's words ... "We will win, Mr President ... together."

I wish him well.