Can Obama Get Off the Mat?

Obama said knock you out....but when?

A funny thing happened on the way to President Obama’s big jobs address given to a joint session of Congress.  Like so many things in this Chief Executive’s life even the relatively routine matter of getting the speech scheduled at a time of the president’s choosing became a major controversy.

The Tuesday Obama wanted to give his speech fell on the same night the Republican presidential challengers were scheduled to gather for a debate.   This sparked cries that the president was trying to big foot the Republicans so Speaker John Boehner asked the president to move his speech to Thursday instead.   The White House conceded to Boehner’s request and immediately the howls when up how Obama had caved to the Republicans–again.

But it also brought to light a different issue.  How little the GOP seems to respect this particular president.

When she was House speaker, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California verbally tormented President George W. Bush. (Ms. Pelosi’s description of Mr. Bush as “an incompetent leader” comes to mind.) Dick Armey, a Republican former lawmaker from Texas and now a Tea Party leader, referred derisively to Bill Clinton as “your president” when speaking to Democrats. President Ronald Reagan sparred often with Democrats on the Hill.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said this year that his first goal was to see Mr. Obama defeated.

“The closest we have come to this was Tom DeLay’s hatred for Clinton when he demanded impeachment of him,” said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group. “But that was one guy or a handful. Now it is much more widespread, and the toxicity is, and culture is different now.”

Mr. Ornstein pointed to the fight over the payroll tax cut sought by the Obama administration — one that many Congressional Republicans supported in 2009 but oppose now — as an example of Republicans’ opposing Mr. Obama even when they had agreed with him on a policy.

Mr. Obama has had his own contributing role. Often when he has met with Republicans he has taken a scolding tone that irks them. Even some of his fellow Democrats viewed his attempt to schedule an address on job creation before a joint session of Congress next Wednesday — the same night as a major Republican presidential debate — as clumsy if not downright rude. It then became embarrassing when Mr. Obama capitulated and changed the date to Thursday at 7 p.m., as Mr. Boehner wanted.

But the dynamic, which Democrats largely blame Republicans for, has irked many of them, especially on the Hill. “I think it is unprecedented of a leader in the Senate of either party to say the most important goal he has is to make the current president a one-term,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California. “That is about respect, that is about priorities and it is just wrong.”

Julian E. Zelizer, a political scientist at Princeton, said that when it comes to Mr. Obama, Republicans “just keep gaining confidence to force his hand.”

“While there might be a few people whose words have become nastier than usual, I think this is really the new normal in Washington with a president who is always on the ropes,” Professor Zelizer said. “I am not convinced that is about lack of respect so much as the feeling that this is a weak president. If the president seemed more powerful they would have returned the call.”

The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said Thursday that the administration spent “zero” time worrying about whether Republicans in Congress are showing the president the respect that the office deserves. “You guys care much more about this than we do,” he scolded reporters who asked about the relationship between Mr. Obama and Congressional Republicans.

Ready to rumble?

I count myself among the ranks of the “you guys” that Carney dismisses.  If the president continues to act like a doormat he shouldn’t be surprised if Republicans wipe their feet on him.

Washington is a place of power and with power comes respect.  I’m not exactly sure how Obama can command the respect that is due him as benefits his office, but a show of strength might help.

Back in the day of the first George Bush, disrespecting presidents was called “the wimp factor” and since then every man that’s held the office has come in for more than the usual kind of criticism that’s expected.

Any president is going to face natural adversaries.  No matter how popular a president or his policies are, someone is going to dislike both intensely.

I’m not going to pull the race card (this time at least), because this is Obama’s fault to an extent.  Obama is slow to anger and even slower to show it for reasons I can speculate upon but hesitate to say.   Even if Obama knows in his heart of hearts some of the shit slung at him is based upon his race, he’d never say it out loud.  He’d be denounced as a whiner and it’s a fight he would never win.

Presidents can be seen as weak, even as ineffectual, but if they look like they’re going to cry because they get punched in the jaw, they’re done.  Nobody respects a crybaby.

I won’t be listening to his speech next week just to hear what he has to say about creating jobs.  That’s the most important part, but how he says it will matter just as more.

If he challenges the Republicans to step up and do something more than obstruct and oppose anything he proposes because he’s proposing it I’ll be pleased.  Some have suggested Obama has been playing defense and executing a clever version of Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” strategy against George Foreman.

The thing is, Ali eventually came off the ropes to knock out Foreman.  If Obama’s strategy is to keep taking roundhouse rights and upper-cuts until the Republicans punch themselves out and get arm weary, it doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect.

If he’s pleading yet again with the Republicans to hold hands and sing “We Are the World” and show his willingness to reach across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisan bullshit, I’ll retch and be disappointed as I choke down the bile rising in my throat.

Right now, I expect disappointment.  Obama needs a Ali-style knockout of a speech.  He’s past the point of covering up, clenching and jabbing as he waits to be saved by the bell.   The Republicans are coming to take his title.

I know Obama can fight.  I’m just not sure if he will.

Is Obama ready to fight for his presidency and his principles?

Doug Lamborn: Accidentially Ignorant. Intentionally Racist

Racism: The tar baby Republicans won’t let go of.

Writing in USA Today, columnist DeWayne Wickham called out the GOP for it’s “disrespect” of President Obama.

What should be clear to the whole world watching the debt-ceiling battle is that the Republicans are far more intent on taking the president’s scalp than balancing the nation’s books. They had ample opportunities to do the latter during the eight years of George W. Bush.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has been especially relentless in the debt-ceiling fight. He attacked this first African-American president with a palpable disrespect not only for Obama personally, but also for his esteemed office.

Following what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called Cantor’s “childish” display during a meeting with Obama, the House majority leader complained that the president had cut short the meeting and stormed out of the room. “He shoved back and said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and walked out,” Cantor snidely told reporters— as though the president needs his permission to end a White House gathering.

That encounter might have reminded Obama of the open letter Frederick Douglass, a runaway slave and abolitionist who became one of this nation’s first black diplomats, wrote to his slave master.

It would be “a privilege” to show you “how mankind ought to treat each other,” Douglass told the man who had badly mistreated him. “I am your fellow man, but not your slave.”

Douglass’ words might have prompted another reflection when, during a critical point in the debt negotiations, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, contemptuously waited more than half a day to return a call from the president.

Or, Obama might have heard Douglass’ words ringing in his ears after acting House Speaker Steve LaTourette of Ohio had to warn his GOP colleagues during a heated debt-reduction debate on the House floor to stop making disparaging remarks about Obama.

This total lack of respect is downright contemptible — if not unpatriotic. Such contempt, I’m convinced, is rooted in something other than political differences. Today, you might not see the overt actions of racist southern governors like Ross Barnett or George Wallace in the 1960s. But the presence of Jim Crow, Jr. — a more subtle form of racism — is there.

It’s possible to blame the raw rhetoric and tension between the president and the Republicans on the summer heat, the unflinching media scrutiny on the debt ceiling negotiations or next year’s elections and the gamesmanship that Washington thrives on in these sort of dust-ups.

On the other hand, maybe Wickham is right. Maybe the Republicans have a deeper seeded issue with Obama. Like a racial one.

The latest example comes from Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado:

“Even if some people say, well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that, they will hold the president responsible,” said Lamborn said Friday during an interview on a Denver radio station. “Now I don’t want to even have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get, you get it, you know… you are stuck and you are part of the problem now and you can’t get away.

The sooap that makes you dirtier, not cleaner.

Lamborn may just be a lamebrain who had no idea of the racial (and racist) implications of such a loaded phrase.

But how many “accidents” does it take before it stops being accidental and starts being deliberate? How many times can the nation’s first Black president be taunted, mocked and insulted based upon his race before it becomes clear it is based on racism?

How far does it have to go? Does someone have to stand in the well of the House or Senate and drop a “N-bomb” on Obama before there’s no denying it anymore?

Apologists for Lamborn have said he meant no offense by the reference and people who are offended now were probably the same ones who were offended when the word “niggardly” was used by another politician years ago.

“Niggardly” isn’t an insult. Niggardly means cheap, not a dark-skinned person of African heritage. “Tar baby” is an insult and if you doubt me, try calling any sentient Black man by that name and see how they react (but you might want to take a step or two back first).

Since we’re mucking around deep in the Cliche mine, let’s excavate another one while we’re in here. It’s called “playing the race card” and you don’t have to be Black to pull it and throw in on table as a device to shame guilty conscience liberals into spasms of White guilt.

Lamborn the Lamebrain and his victim.

White folks can pull it too–and they do. They do it when they want to dog whistle to the real hardcore racists, that they got their back. “Pssst…I can’t say it out loud, but I can’t stand ‘those people’ either.”

Did anyone’s ears just perk up?

Republicans used to call it “the Southern Strategy.” Now along with romancing slavery it’s just “standard operating procedure.

Lamborn apologized to the president and says he “regrets any misunderstanding” over his comments.  What’s to misunderstand?  How many times do most people say “tar baby” in a year?

An apology is meaningless when it’s issued only because you got caught in the act of being stupid, insensitive, crude, but mostly racist.

An apology is worthless when it’s issued after the dog whistle to the really hardcore racist that you’re sorry you said it (but really you’re not sorry at all).

An apology is garbage when you know what you said is what you meant and the “apology” is just to cover your ass.

Apologies are meaningless when they come from Republicans after they have made racist remarks because as sure as God made little green apples, there’s going to be another Republican coming down the chute to say something even more racist.

Kill that noise.  Apology not accepted.
Forward these bullshit lies to someone who will happily swallow them. Try Herman Cain. He specializes in absolving White Republicans of racism. He’d probably love the gig.

The Herminator Gets All the Women. Gotta be the hat.

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The Art of the (Bad) Deal.

"Hot buttered peas for everyone! Yay!"

Hooray.  We’ve got a deal on raising the debt ceiling.  A catastrophe has been averted.  Let the celebrations begin!

Oh wait…so what you’re telling me is the conservatives got everything they wanted and liberals got nothing!  For a break down of the pros and cons of the debt deal and the winners and losers (since this is still America and everything gets condensed down to the final score) Stephen B. Foster, Jr. examines what’s in there on Addicted To

Liberals had to eat their peas.   From all the outrage being expressed they didn’t much care for ’em.

IMPEACH PRESIDENT OBAMA (or at least run a real liberal against him in the Democratic primary next year)!

Primary President Obama? Sure. Why not?  It shouldn’t be all that hard to find someone willing to waste their time on that fool’s errand.   Cynthia McKinney isn’t doing anything better with her time.

Just so long as there are primary challenges to every Republican as well. You want a better deal? Should have thought about that in 2010 when all these Tea Party types were winning elected offices and the Left stayed home scratching themselves.

Get mad? That’s legitimate. But after you get mad, get organized and ELECT PROGRESSIVES, NOT CONSERVATIVES!

Let’s face facts: Not ONE of the three Democratic presidents since LBJ has been a committed die-hard progressive. Not one. The Democratic Party treats progressives the same way it treats minorities and gays: as a voting bloc with nowhere else to go. So of course they get the back of the hand from the Democrats. They know we are homeless.

The perfect progressive challenger for Obama would be Paul Wellstone, but since he’s not with us any more maybe he’s not as perfect as I thought.

The only viable and workable solution is to do what the Tea Party did: TAKE OVER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. How does Jim DeMint control not only the Senate, but the House? Because he only supports conservatives who think like he does. If you don’t he will field a challenger against you which is why Robert Bennett, Lisa Murkowski, Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist went from sure bets to out of politics (Murkowski had to mount a write-in candidacy to hold off Sarah Palin’s hand-picked candidate).

Obama be Obummed

America needs a strong liberal Third Party but that time is not now. It’s better to do what the right-wing did and that’s take over a weak existing party with strong, ideologically prepared candidates. I don’t want to kill the Democratic Party. I want it to regrow a SPINE.

Run a primary challenge to Obama if you want to. Nobody thinks he will lose the nomination. Barack Obama WILL be the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2012. That’s a lock.

There were some folks that made Obama a deity when he’s really just a good politician. I never expected Obama to be a liberal action hero.   After the way John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell scandalized his name, maybe Obama will realize the futility of trying to extend a hand to two-legged pit bulls who want to chew it off up to the elbow.

But if you want a Democratic Party that isn’t owned and operated by Wall Street and corporate America and is first a party of the people, not fat cats, the Left will have to run and win Congressional races until the Progressive caucus on the Hill is as powerful as the Tea Party caucus is now.

We can start cleaning up this mess by kicking these G.O.Tea Partying Yahoos to the curb and replacing them with some real pragmatic progressives.  It’s faster and more effective to take over the existing organism and bend it to your will than to start from zero and try to build it from scratch. I love Progressive philosophy, but too many of them fall in love with the theory and forget about the practice.

Paul Wellstone would be the progressive's dream candidate. If he wasn't dead.

Did Bams and the Dems get pimp-slapped? Sure, they did. But since there are 40 strong, militant and die-hard Tea Baggers in the House that weren’t there before, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

If you didn’t vote last November and you want someone to blame for the debt ceiling debacle, go no further than the nearest mirror. Simply put, if there were more Democrats than Republicans in the House and Nancy Pelosi instead of Agent Orange was the Speaker of the House, this would have never happened.

And then we could go back to hearing folks griping about Bams not pushing “the Black Agenda.”

Just remember what Sen. Lindsay Graham said at the confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor:  “ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.”  The seeds were sown in November 2010.  They flowered into full bloom in July 2011.

If you elect 63 more Republicans (and an especially, angry, militant and rabidly anti-democracy strain of Republicans who strongly reek of TEA), than Democrats, then you should expect they would be willing to hold the U.S. economy hostage to get their way.

Don’t like the effect, don’t produce the cause.  Elect liberal Democrats, not conservative Republicans.   This is Politics 101, people and it’s not complicated.

People get the kind of government they deserve.  If they don’t put in the work to get the kind of government they want, they deserve whatever they get.

Barack gets his Pee Wee Herman on.

It’s Time to Eat Your Peas, Mr. President

"Man, after dealing with those Republicans all day, I need a smoke!"

You can’t talk to a man when he don’t want to understand and apparently you can’t negotiate with Republicans either.  So why try?

John Boehner walked out of debt ceiling negotiations, again?   What is this?  The third or fourth time already? Boehner leaves and comes back more times than an abused spouse.

The hell with him.  Boehner’s afraid if he makes a deal Eric Cantor will take his job.   And he wants to keep his job  so he won’t make any that raises the debt ceiling without huge and painful spending cuts.   Painful for Democrats and their constituents.   As long as no millionaire or billionaire is left behind, that’s all The Boehner Bunch cares about.

This is getting nowhere fast.  After Boehner’s latest walk, the President explained to the press what went wrong this time.

Obama said he offered Boehner “over a trillion dollars in cuts to discretionary spending,” including domestic and defense spending.   

“We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs,” the president said.  “Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.”   What Obama wanted in return was $1.2 trillion in revenues and none in tax rate increases.

"I know what you mean, dawg."

No deal, dude. 

“It’s hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal,” a bewildered Obama said. “Can they say yes to anything?”

Apparently not and so its time to say the hell with the Republicans.  If the debt ceiling is going to be raised and Chaos and Disorder avoided it may be up to the president to save America from going off the economic cliffs.   The GOP is sitting in the backseat of the car screaming in Obama’s ear to speed up and drive off the cliff.   He needs to throw an elbow into their yapping mouths and take control of the situation before disaster strikes.

Maybe it’s time for President Obama to take President Clinton’s advice, bypass the Tea Party-possessed GOP, invoke the 14th Amendment and raise the debt ceiling with the Constitutional powers granted to the Chief Executive without cutting any more dirty deals with double dealers like Boehner, Cantor and  Mitch McConnell.

The New York Times agrees Obama is going to have cut the GOP loose.

A deadlocked Congress has become incapable of acting consistently; it commits to entitlements it will not reduce, appropriates funds it does not have, borrows money it cannot repay and then imposes a debt ceiling it will not raise. One of those things must give; in reality, that means that the conflicting laws will have to be reconciled by the only actor who combines the power to act with a willingness to shoulder responsibility — the president.

There comes a time when no deal is better than a bad deal and a terrible deal would be one that shreds the social safety net for the poor, the elderly, students, veterans and the most vulnerable and suffering citizens while sparing Wall Street once again as Main Street bears the brunt.

It’s time to eat your peas Mr. President.  A big ol’ heaping plate of ’em.

Obama said he’d risk his presidency to resolve this crisis. Fine. Time to call the Republicans bluff.   If they have the balls to try to impeach him, then let them try to impeach him.  The polls say the GOP is playing a losing hand with their “drive faster, homey, not slower”  death dive.   Maybe this is all just one really long and really bad television show where everything gets resolved in the last five minutes and maybe the Republicans are as  crazy as they seem to be. 

Could the Republicans decide to try and impeach the president if he bypasses them and raises the debt ceiling without Congress?   Maybe.  Let’s find out. 

My guess It will never happen. Not with a presidential election right around the corner.  The Republicans will be exposed as the bullies and cowards they are and they will lose And the president and the country will win.

Put a little butter on the peas, Mr. President.  They aren’t so bad at all.


Crisis? WHAT Crisis?

"Angry? You've never SEEN me angry."

Washington’s latest manufactured “crisis” is whether in the stand-off between President Obama and the Republicans, who will back down in raising the nation’s debt ceiling by August 2.   If they fail to reach an agreement the government will be unable to pay its bills, Social Security checks may not go out, and America will go into default plunging the financial markets into chaos and the nation into a deep recession.

(Insert deep, cleansing breath here.)

I’m not buying any of the Chicken Little scenarios from either side.  This is like the NFL labor talks. A deal WILL get done.  This is just the whining and pouting before everyone has to swallow their peas.

I’m glad to see Obama lose some of his fabled cool long enough to go off on a nickel and dime douche and smart-ass like Eric Cantor.  I would like to further displays of such passion when it comes to putting people back to work, standing up for his nominees like Elizabeth Warren and getting the U.S. out of Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The ONLY good thing that can come from this debacle is Obama FINALLY understands you can’t negotiate with terrorists.  All Cantor, Boehner, McConnell and the rest of these professional road blocks understand is POWER.  The kind of power a president can bear to make the life of a single snotty representative or senator absolutely miserable.   Obama doesn’t need to be invoking the name of Ronald Reagan.  He needs to call up some of that blunt, tough talking, take no shit attitude of Lyndon Baines Johnson,  the last Democrat who went he said “JUMP” the opposition would say, “How high, sir?”

Obama is a nice guy.  He would rather compromise than confront.  It’s his default position.  I get that.  But when dealing with absolute knuckleheads like Eric Cantor, you have to remind them who’s sitting at the head of the table and who is not.

This is ALL political theater. From Obama and from Cantor and from Boehner and from McConnell. Everyone wants to see who’s gonna blink first and neither side wants to be the first. This is posturing at its worse and at the end of the day not one second of it will do a damn thing to solve the problem Americans want addressed. JOBS!

Let's hug it out guys.

Where are the JOBS? That’s what the President and everyone else in Washington should be focusing on because sooner or later the debt ceiling will be raised one way or another.

I’m a politics junkie, but I’m not stressing over this.   Everybody’s throwing raw meat to their base.  Everybody’s playing to the camera.   But before the clock strikes midnight and the damn country turns into a rancid pumpkin, the deal will get done, the checks will go out in the mail, the “crisis” will be narrowly averted and the pundits will pontificate how once again “the system worked.”

Which will be absolute garbage.   The system doesn’t work and the fix is in.   We are being played for suckers.

You want a crisis?  The drought in Africa is a crisis.  Unemployment in Detroit is a crisis.  The drug cartels beheading tourists in Mexico is a crisis.  The box office gross of Green Lantern is a crisis.

This is not a crisis.  This is dinner theater and the actors on stage are just rehearsing their lines and playing their parts.

Bush’s Wars Are Obama’s Wars Now

Obama stands alone

I consider myself a supporter of the president, but I don’t support his attack on Libya and the continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Which is why it troubles me to learn President Obama ignored legal advice that he did not have the authority to wage air strikes against Libya without the authorization of Congress.  The president’s insistence he does not need their approval has angered Congress and found both Republicans and Democrats demanding answers from the White House or they may decided to end the funding of the wars in three Muslim countries.

Maybe this time John Boehner and Dennis Kucinich are right.  Congress should pull the financial plug on these endless wars.

The president should either get Congressional approval of the war in Libya (and make no mistake, it IS a war even without ground troops being involved) or get out.  The same thing applies for Afghanistan and Iraq.   End the war.  Bring the troops home.

The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for ten years and for what?  Osama bin Laden is dead and most of what’s left of Al Qaeda is holed up in Pakistan beyond the reach of a drone attack.  Iraq can handle its own affairs  Why is the U.S. maintaining four PERMANENT bases there?

There is only one answer.  The U.S. plans to stay in Iraq.  Just the same way the U.S. has stayed in Germany, Japan and South Korea long after the wars there ended.

Like I said, I am a supporter of President Obama, but I’m not so blind I can’t recognize there are some things he has NO power to change and the imperialistic nature the U.S. has to occupy and keep up military forces wherever we are is one of those things.  It is a manifestation of this country’s wish to put its footprint on the entire globe.

America is one of the world’s superpowers and trying desperately to keep China from overtaking it.   Failing to fend them off economically, the decision seems to have been made to keep the military option strong and a counter-balance to China’s globe-spanning plans.

Especially when they run counter to America’s own plans for global superiority.

In geo-political games of power and dominance even the President of the United States can be a manipulated pawn of forces beyond him.

The president has drawn down the number of troops in Iraq, but he’s not talking about dissembling the bases built there.  Those will stay and that means U.S. troops will continue to remain in Iraq to occupy those bases. I imagine Israel must be pleased by that prospect.

Afghanistan isn’t a lost cause.  There was never a cause in the first place.   Karzai is as crooked as a dog’s back leg and only controls a small part of that ungovernable country.  The rest is run by the Taliban and warlords.  Nobody can impose order on the chaos there and many other nations have tried before the U.S. and failed dismally.  Afghanistan is a trap.  All it does is bleed money and lives.

As for Libya, Qaddafi is a madman AND a racist, but he’s not America’s problem.  This is a civil war and it should left up to Libyans to depose Gaddafi or not.   After all this time, the superior strength of NATO hasn’t brought the dictator to his knees.   What’s the upside of continuing to pour money down a rat hole to kill one particularly tenacious rat?.

I think its possible to both support the president and still criticize him when he makes mistakes (and he has made his share of them like everyone else).

Going the route of a Cornel West or Lupe Fiasco is going too far because they make the criticisms personal.   I don’t believe Obama is a bad guy because he has done some bad things.  I’ll take him on his worst day compared to any of the Republican challengers on their best.

But waging wars in three Muslim countries is a lousy way to win them over and it wont get gasoline under $4 bucks a gallon either.

Three years ago it was possible to say Obama inherited the wars George Bush started.  You can’t say that anymore.  These are Obama’s wars now and he owns them.   It’s up to him to end them.

But these wars are bleeding America dry as the costs run into the millions daily and billions yearly.  We cannot continue to throw good money after bad to do little more than kill a few terrorists and a lot of civilians.

It’s time for the president to earn that Nobel Peace Prize.  He knows how to.  He has to decide he wants to.

Unemployment is not “Funemployment.”

Five applicants for every one job. Are you the one or the four?

I wander onto debate boards and I wander out in a daze when I read something like this:

I am of the opinion that there are plenty of jobs out there, but many many people refuse to take jobs that they consider to be beneath them.

I am guilty of this too. I was on unemployment about 10 years ago…there were plenty of jobs, but I refused to work at McDonald’s or whatever so I just kept collecting my unemployment checks.

And once again , I’m guilty. My year of unemployment was fantastic. Funemployment it was.

But it and I was wrong.

You’re still wrong.

Unemployment is funemployment? Sure it is. IF you have no bills, no family, no responsibility and no sense of pride or personal worth.

Because if you do, unemployment is hell. It’s hell to stare out the window at 9:00 a.m. and realize nobody cares you aren’t somewhere because you have no place to be.

It’s hell when you’re parking your car blocks away to keep it from being repossessed. It’s hell when you won’t answer the phone because all it is are calls from bill collectors demanding you pay them money you don’t have.

It’s hell when it’s a week after Thanksgiving and you observed it with baloney sandwiches because that’s all you could afford and the only way there’s going to be anything under the Christmas tree is if the church you attend comes through with its toy drive.

It’s hell when you’re standing in line at a food pantry and skipping meals so the kids can eat what you got and you’ll settle for whatever’s left. It’s hell when you show up bright and early at a job fair all shaved, showered and smiling only to find out nobody’s actually hiring but they will take your resume and will get back to you if they’re interested (and they never are).

It’s hell when you’re staring up at the ceiling and wondering if you should take that $20 bucks you borrowed and buy some gas for the car so you can go look for work or buy a few groceries and some off-brand NyQuil for the kid’s phlegm-filled cough.

It’s hell when you run into someone you haven’t seen in years and they ask what you’re doing now and you lie because you don’t want to say, “nothing.”

Anyone who says being unemployed is fun has no appreciation to be unemployed for a long time because your job has gone overseas, your company has gone overseas (and left you behind) or because what you used to do isn’t being done anymore in your town.

There was a conversation on NPR’s Talk of the Nation where host Tony Cox interviewed New York Times labor and workplace correspondent Stephen Greenhouse about the current dire economic straits too many Americans find themselves facing:

Mr. GREENHOUSE: …I think people are feeling pessimistic about the direction of the nation. I think they feel that the government isn’t doing enough to turn things around. They feel businesses aren’t doing enough hiring.I think a lot of them, though, are still somewhat optimistic about, you know, their family. They think their unemployed 21-year-old out of college is going to find a job two months from now. They think, you know, the father whose been out of work for three months or five months will somehow find something. But it ain’t easy. There are still, you know, five people looking for work for every job opening. COX: You know, speaking of that, there are some people who for sure are going to be very pessimistic, frustrated, unhappy at the stroke of midnight tonight, as their unemployment benefits that they had hoped to extend beyond where they had already been extended are going to be over.Mr. GREENHOUSE: Some extended unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire tonight; 120,000 people who are unemployed will lose their benefits 1.2 million, 1.2 million will lose their benefits at once. And in another month, another 800,000 will lose their unemployment benefits. So that means within a month two million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits.

And this will be the first time, I believe, in our nation’s history when unemployment was over in modern American history when unemployment was over, well over seven percent and we were cutting off extended unemployment benefits for people.

Ask those 2 million people if there’s no extension of unemployment benefits how much “fun” being without a job is. Maybe for some of them it is a 24-7, non-stop party with a couple of hundred in free money to party down with. For everyone else it’s a life of quiet desperation and learning much to your chagrin how quickly you can become part of the discarded and obsolete.

They've got a blue vest in your size waiting for you.

The other thing about being unemployed is who you are has a lot to do with how hard the hammer falls when you’re not working.

COX: Things are tough. I’m going to take a call from Nashville in a second. But to follow up that point about differences in terms of unemployment, we would be remiss, I think, if we didn’t talk about the fact that there are racial differences in unemployment, as well, and that while the last caller was talking about 13 percent unemployment in his portion of the country, I think African-Americans would look at a 13 percent unemployment rate and say oh, wow, we’re doing a lot better.Mr. GREENHOUSE: The unemployment rate for African-Americans is around 16 percent. For Hispanics, it’s around 12 percent. For teenagers, it’s up around 20 percent. For African-American teenagers, it’s up around 40 percent.

What do all those unemployed African-American and Hispanic teenagers do with their time? Probably a lot of dicey things people who have jobs don’t have time to do.

A job for a kid today might prevent a burglary, car theft or worse tomorrow. Something I learned in Criminology class back in college stayed with me.  People who desire legitimate goals will result to illegitimate means to get them when they have no legitimate means.  Not all of us can get back on our feet toiling in the service economy. The ends don’t meet on $7 or $8 bucks an hour.

Too many people in Washington don’t give two shits about a Black kid that isn’t working until one sticks a gun in their face and jacks them for their ATM card. Then they want to create lots of jobs. Mostly in the prison-industrial complex giving rural Whites work guarding urban Blacks. They care a lot then.

I will say this though: If you haven’t found a job and your unemployment benefits are about to run out and even McDonald’s and Wal-Mart won’t hire you because you’re too old for them, too young, too over qualified, too under-experienced, too much the wrong color, gender, sexual orientation or too something and you still voted Republican because you were mad and wanted to send a message to Washington, you are getting everything you deserve:  not a damned thing,  because John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the GOP do not give a fuck about you.

"Jobs? We meant jobs for US. Not you."

Does Nancy Pelosi Get It That She Lost It?

Not simply repudiated, but rejected.

Forget for a minute about how terrible the election results were for President Obama.  Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi taking more heat for the way Democrats got hammered?

Pelosi won reelection with 80 percent of the vote so she can stay in Congress as long as she wants to, but I can’t think of a single reason why she should stay in a leadership role after the debacle she  presided over.   If the election results were seen as a repudiation of the President, they were a total rejection of Speaker Pelosi.

Just like Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich, Pelosi has become a left-wing liability and an easy target for right-wing media, a punching bag for Republicans and an anchor around the necks of Democrats. Here in light blue turned blood-red Ohio she was  as popular as the Michigan Wolverines.   Every Democrat that won election riding Barack Obama’s coattails in ’08 was turned out in 2010. I had to keep my remote nearby so I could click away from yet another in an endless series of commercials of a hapless “Nancy Pelosi Democrat’ being pummeled as her stooge.

Now after presiding over the worst slaughter a majority party has suffered since 1948 and losing over 60 seats, Pelosi is supposed to be the field general who will rally Democrats after a crushing defeat? How? General Patton she ain’t.

While she wasn’t a terrible Speaker of the House, Pelosi clearly underestimated the range of dissatisfaction the electorate had with Democrats and she was a liability, not an asset to most of her caucus.

I’m not crying over all the Blue Dog Democrats that got put to sleep, but losing that many moderate-to-conservative Democrats leaves a more liberal and more isolated minority in the wake of the Republican wave.    Rightly or wrongly, Pelosi’s highly partisan and bitterly divided House is extremely unpopular with voters and will be blamed by defeated Democrats as contributing to their defeat.

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner will have to ramrod an incoming class of Republican freshmen smelling strongly of tea and in no mood to give an inch to Pelosi or President Obama. Boehner may have the toughest job in Washington trying to get his extremely ideological majority not to overplay their hand and toss the Democrats a road map back to power.

Pelosi’s high negatives as all that’s wrong about “San Francisco values” remains a problem Democrats cannot solve with her in a prominent leadership role. Pelosi may believe Boehner is only keeping her seat warm for the next two years, but while it might be better for her ego to hope this is merely a temporary reversal of fortune, stepping aside so she could be replaced by the blander, but less ideological Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn might be better for her party.

"I have not yet begun to fight." Um. Okay.


Pelosi’s refusal to step aside is her way of saying she’s not going to go the Sarah Palin route and quit.   By staying Pelosi is making it clear she wants to fight for her political legacy even if many Democrats wish she would just go away quietly.

I personally have a lot of admiration for Pelosi’s iron-clad commitment to her liberal values.   Unlike Obama, she’s a true believer and an unwavering champion to the causes she believes in.   But she is also rigidly ideological and treated the Republican minority with barely concealed contempt when she wasn’t ignoring them completely.    No doubt Boehner and company will return the favor tenfold.

To paraphrase the president’s well-worn phrase he used on the campaign trail this year, Nancy Pelosi drove the Democrats into a ditch. Now she wants to be the one to pull them out?  As he ponders what the Republican rout of Pelosi’s Democratic majority means to his reelection hopes, President Obama has praised Pelosi, but you have to wonder if he really wants her hanging around making a tough job even tougher.   She needs to hand the keys over to somebody else. Probably anybody not named Nancy Pelosi.