Ode to trees, fleas, and phony pleas

parasiteBy Robert Becker

I think that we shall never see
A Willard Romney wannabe:
Would slavish dupes ape sham devices –
A void of ideas, beset with vices?

He lies and dodges, struts and preens,
Icy, disingenuous machine,
Then beats upon his Baneful breast:

“The richest one must be the best;
Award the power to him who prays
That Mormon saints rule End of Days;
With Armageddon looming near
Let’s unzip magic underwear.
My needy bosom worships God
To master how to scrape and nod:
Campaigns are made by fools like me
And billionaires who’ll set us free. Continue reading

Paul Ryan: stock right wing VP hitman

By Robert Becker

Nothing bold, visionary, or adventurous here: the knee-jerk right winger in spades.

Whether you responded with shock, surprise or delight to his V.P. pick, Mitt Romney delivered no bombshell with Paul Ryan. Au contraire. The briefest survey confirms “going hard right V.P.” typifies the modern era for the Gruesome Old Party. That Romney the Null and Void would pick an extreme partisan to shore up his skeptical base was inevitable: lock up the sheeple who trust super-rich Mitt even less than they did Dole, Dubya or that old guy enamored with the Palin.

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Chris Hedges' 'Genocide' Jeremiad: more heat than light

By Robert Becker

 Apocalypse Now?

He who lives by the sweeping generalization, as does Chris Hedges, is vulnerable to analytic close reading (pinpointing ill-defined terms), let alone far more basic queries: is this true, does this apply, is the context right? Somehow I don’t see how his in-your-face, homiletic abstraction in “Science of Genocide” advances the moral, political, even hortatory progress this icon of the left seeks. In fact, overwrought equivalences between at best superficially comparable categories lower his credibility. Continue reading

Three cheers for Mitt’s yankee tax shrewdness

By Robert Becker

Disclosure: nothing here, defending the grievously-assaulted GOP entrant, reflects my father’s 40 year CPA career. I did, however, inherit his prudent tax credo: declare all income (certainly with paper trails), deduct all that’s defensible by logic or statute, and sign up the best tax wizards you can afford. Ask Mitt Romney, who’s mastered the art of spending deductible CPA dollars on astonishing advice that saved him multi-millions — all presumably legal and above board, as far as we know. Sure.

I put aside whether fewer, highly suspicious-looking tax gimmicks, plus many millions buried offshore, wouldn’t have better served Mitt’s thin presidential resume. Let that bide: no one’s perfect and capital outlasts capitulation. In the meantime, let’s not throw the GOP primary-winning, babe-in-arms out with the tax water, as Harry Reid’s roguishly “give “em hell” stunt attempts to do. There’s only custom and precedent, not law requiring anyone, rich or poor, to release tax returns, though naturally the more you have, the less you want to broadcast. So, Mittens is rich and clever: get over it, losers. Continue reading

Cheney gets Palinized in Tea Party food fight

By Robert Becker

What, me, I’m the big ‘mistake’?

Mercifully brief, this week’s rousing Cheney-Palin-McCain food fight delivers more brash hijinks to liberals and Democrats than NBC’s controversial, jingoist Olympic coverage. Really, Dark Vader takes on the Tundra Hussy with pinwheel-loaded McCain pulling up the rear? Summertime, and the punditry’s easy. No doubt, after this merry episode in GOP dissension, we face months of Romney drudgery, slogging through a brittle convention, all the while deflecting Bain/tax/culture scandals until November. Continue reading

Genuine political fakes vs. a rank imposter

Romney the imposterBy Robert Becker

Great news this week for majority rule: CNN polling reported 63% think Bain Capital exploits make Mitt Romney more likely to “make good decisions handling” the economy over the next four years. What else matters to hardscrabble anguish in towns like Peoria, Illinois? Let’s hire a tough, no-nonsense CEO to remake America as Bain remade venture capital — and none of that feel-good, sentimental socialism.

Moreover, six in ten honorable voters (CBS/NY Times) won’t let jaw-dropping Bain revelations “matter to their vote” (so much for predation, outsourcing, job demolition, and tax-avoidance sleaze). Finally, 54% (USA Today/Gallup) affirm Mitt’s “personality and leadership qualities” are what a “president should have.” Exactly what “qualities,” pray tell, other than deviant capitalism and a gaffe-filled, policy-free pageant that glorifies his zealous “elasticity”? Continue reading

Romney, perfect foil for a Republicrat incumbent?

Romney the By Robert Becker

On paper, Obama fans should be ecstatic, taking on a tin-ear, gaffe-prone, flip-flopping, bromide-driven, predatory casino capitalist who fudges, lies, and distorts the destructive downsides to his great business prowess. Here’s a brash politician who shrinks from his single public office – recoiling from his most celebrated success, the horror of state health reform. Throw in his massive financial spoils, flush with secret, offshore holdings and tax dodges, and recollections of a personal reign of terror against his pet dog and one fellow student pinned down and victimized for seeming gay. Does this ultimate, fabricated Republican nominee not already pale next to the post-primary John McCain?

This week’s self-inflicted wounds reinforce a veritable emblem of the unfeeling, plutocratic, opportunistic hustler, repeatedly revealing his core belief system: the end (profit, fame, election) justifies any means. It’s not pretty. For once, why not trust the quip last year from that Irascible-Ideologue, Ann Coulter: if Romney gets the nomination, he “will lose to Obama”? So, why the gloom, Democrats, why the virtual polling dead heat in battlegrounds like FL, which Romney has to win but Obama can lose? Why does a still “likeable” incumbent, with bragging rights from a half dozen arguable wins, look so vulnerable? Is there some national cognitive dissonance here, or what? Has the vast right wing hate machine wholly poisoned the well?

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Are you proud to be an American? I’m not.

by JS O’Brien

Doubtless, the title of this piece made you think I was about to launch into a blame-America-first jeremiad on this July 4. Not the case. This is about pride; what it is and why it makes sense, or doesn’t make sense, to have it.

I grew up around adults who had a regional greeting when they shook hands: “Proud to meet ya!” I thought that was strange at the time, and I still do. Why would anyone be “proud” to meet someone? I suppose, theoretically, if you’d accomplished something really spectacular that got you into a meeting with someone powerful and famous, you could transfer your pride in accomplishment to that meeting, but that’s a bit roundabout, eh? More likely, it’s one of the manifestations — along with the phrase, “Proud to be an American” — of sloppy thinking and misplaced values that are an un-American as terrier pie. Continue reading

‘Apocalypse Now’ vogue engulfs Chicken Littles

gloom doomBy Robert Becker

Is the sky falling on this Beacon on the Hill, ending a century of Yankee dominance, crushing the greatest, most brashly exceptional nation known to mankind? Is this worldwide wonder of freedom and democracy, the intersection of divine history and human destiny, kaput, on its last legs, about to implode? Not quite, not yet, and that’s no endorsement of the status quo: powers-that-be hold high trump cards.

Every generation endures end-of-the world scenarios, and we still dread last century’s, nuclear holocaust. Drama — let alone anxiety — commands our attention and heartstrings. Pandemics, portable nukes, fiery asteroids, religious mania, starvation, rightwing nuts, and looming climate change, all threaten millions. But anxiety, even nightmare projections, do not mean Armageddon is upon us, nor that pundits suddenly discover reliable crystal balls. Discretion is the better part of this valor.

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Food fights exploit class, income splits

Food is a weaponBy Robert Becker

As epic battles brew between sustainable, organic and non-renewable industrial farming, the politics of food surround our every bite. That’s a good thing, driving better assessments of actual food costs while factoring in enormous, perpetual farm subsidies and government supports. What we eat, and deem worthy for others to digest, has as much to do with class, income, family, and status as with packaging, nutrition and health.

Hardly going down as a high point is the latest skirmish from Mayor Bloomberg of New York, defying logic and common sense by asserting smaller soda containers will automatically reduce consumption of sugary drinks. Talk about vulnerable liberal tunnel vision and over-reach, this notion skims the surface of obesity, empty calories, and unhealthy eating habits. Chew on this indigestible morsel, Mr. Mayor: Continue reading

Does money – or dirty sources – ruin politics?

Is there clean money?By Robert Becker

Progressive Pushes “Perform or Payback” Plan

Declaration by Oswald M. Griswold III, progressive/entrepreneur/activist

Since our political hubs begin to loom as business subsidiaries for the biggest banks, energy-industrial cartels, and unhinged billionaires, let’s fight back with a business-reward model for progressive campaigns. If corporations are people, why can’t the residual left reinvent itself, just like willful corporations that leverage deductible “investments” — or go elsewhere? Think: lemon law for progressives. Continue reading

It’s a wrap, Obama on track: Gallup speaks, experts squeak

ThepeoplescubeBy Robert Becker

How comforting to discover, long before $2 billion evaporates in our quadrennial mayhem of misdirection, the finale! Survey says: Obama gets an encore, unless the wary one flubs big-time or a Black Swan sidelines his headlines. I got evidence: the latest poll, elitist expertise, stock charts and detailed voting patterns back to 1860. Match that, Mitt, you twit.

But, alas for the left, few glad tidings, just which brand of anti-progressive runs the White House. Okay, pedestrian mini-series deliver more suspense, but that’s what we got. No high drama every election. Instead, a six-month horror show full of faux suspense plays out — “will the nice, stumbling right centrist beat back the mechanized, alien throwback?” — only for the nation to end up treading water.

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Romney, unzipped and exposed as Babbitt clone

By Robert Becker

Enough with that down-home, baseball glove moniker for Willard. Let’s identify Mitt the unfit with his most compelling doppelganger, that paragon of phoniness so fully satirized by Sinclair Lewis he’s America’s icon for narrow-mindedness: Babbitt. Indeed, tainted Babbitry today rules the GOP, uniting materialistic complacency with unthinking conformity – ever fostered by the God of Progress and sponsored by rabid, small-minded Boosterism. Thus, today’s self-righteous spawn: deluded American Exceptionalism.

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Pick 'em: Romney, Romney-bot or Vampire

By Robert Becker

Two verse satires, a call by me and a response by Paul Kibble, were spawned after these words in last week’s column: “All in all, Romney works as political vampire, the bloodless fiend who gets vitality by predating the life force from less affluent victims. Just as vulture capitalism feeds off hemorrhaging companies, Romney campaigns like a spider, ready to pounce, anesthetize, then suck the life out of foes.” I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed writing, then tinkering with them.  — RB

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Slogging 'Forward' toward campaign slogans

powerlinesBy Robert Becker

Finally, erratic Obama wordsmiths have slogged their way to the ideal slogan: “Forward,” aptly safe and succinct and vacuous. What if it echoes MSNBC’s “Lean Forward,” itself no powerhouse of punch? Less is certainly more these days, and this president notches one more historic threshold: no other slogan since 1844 relies on only one word.

As Molly Ball of The Atlantic explained, slogans vary when focus shifts — from foreign policy to health care, now to the economy. But “nobody seems to know exactly what the message is, or what this campaign is about,” she opined, a main “part of the problem with Obama’s presidency. It’s sort of been all over the place.”

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Trickle-down Gulf wreck-onomics

oil skin findings/James KirbyBy Robert Becker

Here’s showered leg skin examined by geologist Rip Kirby. Under regular light, the skin seems clean, but ultraviolet light reveals orange blotches — dispersant-mixed oil muck. /Tampa Bay Times/James Kirby photo 

If you care about salt water only when gargling, or annual beach parties, might as well skip this piece. Finicky readers will depart anyway, not drawn to environmental catastrophes, here the potential collapse of the Gulf ecosystem. Right off, two years of research proves the causal catch-all phrase, “BP oil spill,” drastically underplays the enormity of effects: the damage from double pollutants (oil + dispersant) carried by waves, deposited on seascapes, then absorbed by an incredible variety of living masses. Continue reading