Monday, July 25, 2011

Call Their Bluff, Mr. President: Raise the Debt Ceiling

I'm about through with this goat rodeo in Congress about raising the debt ceiling. President Reagan got 18 debt ceiling increases without this level of last-minute debate and rancor and President Obama can't get one? No Congress has ever refused to raise the debt ceiling, but now that President Obama is in office, they are refusing his first-ever debt ceiling increase request?

I call B.S.

I think this is payback for health care reform. I think this is, as Sen. Harry Reid said, an effort to embarrass the president.

If I were President Obama, I wouldn't have even deigned to negotiate an increase in the debt ceiling limit. All this talk about cutting spending and eliminating tax loopholes should have occurred when Congress passed the budget. Now the time's come to pay for the budget they passed.

Call their bluff, Mr. President. Raise the debt ceiling by executive order.

By my count, you have a 3/4 chance of being able to do so successfully. Once you do it, your opponents will rush to a U.S. District Court in the Fourth Circuit, the conservative "rocket docket," to seek equitable relief to prevent you from doing what you've already done. At some point, this issue will reach the U.S. Supreme Court, probably sooner rather than later. As I see it, the U.S. Supreme Court will do one of four things:

1) Dismiss any effort to overturn your executive order as a political question over which they decline to exercise jurisdiction;

2) Uphold your authority to increase the debt limit;

3) Hold that an increase in the debt limit was implied in Congress' passage of the budget; or

4) Hold that you didn't have the authority to increase the debt limit.

Even on the off chance that the U.S. Supreme Court reaches the issue and decides that you didn't have the authority to increase the debt limit, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will have the cojones to void your increase of the debt limit given what it would entail -- an international financial meltdown of epic proportions. What Supreme Court would want that on its hands?

Mr. President, as they say in the military, sometimes it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. And, to be honest, you very well may not get a second term if you raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.

But for the good of the nation, Mr. President, do not let our country fall off a financial cliff. There is no political point worth making that would take down the economy of not only our nation, but other nations as well.

Call their bluff, Mr. President. Raise the debt ceiling by executive order.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, Unsung

Today I heard that Amy Winehouse passed away. I'm so sad for what could have been. She was a unique and amazing talent, a voice that you recognized instantly because she sounded like no other. I put Amy Winehouse up there with the greats -- Etta James, Dinah Washington, Whitney, Aretha, and the like. It wasn't that she could do the vocal gymnastics of Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey -- it was her phrasing, that of an old soul who had listened to far more masters and learned far more from them than her contemporaries ever did. Her talent is what many young artists hope for and will never, ever achieve.

My heart and prayers go out to her family. What an incredible, incredible loss. I can't help but think that if she had known her true worth and the value of her incredible gift, she would still be here.

My favorite Amy Winehouse song is "Me and Mr. Jones." It reminds me of my childhood, of my mom, of family card game gatherings with clouds of cigarette smoke, fatty foods, Sock-It-To-Me cake, Seven and Sevens all around, and shouts of "Who dealt this mess?". It is the music of my mother's generation. Plus, I think even my mom would have smiled a wry smile at the turn of lyric, "What kind of fuckery are we?" and gotten up to do the stroll. Here's the link:
http://youtu.be/HXjx2fo4XhA

Rest in peace, Amy Winehouse. I wish you had known how truly phenomenal you were.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whoop That Trick, Wendi Murdoch!

Wendi Murdoch is my new heroine.

I don't care what Rupert Murdoch did or didn't do, he's over 80 years old. You don't hit on the elderly. I don't care what your cause is or who you are.

Second, I admire a woman who will take up for and take up arms for her husband. If you even think about hitting my husband, you just bought yourself a fight with the both of us. I don't care what he did. You don't hit my husband. I am so down with Wendi Murdoch on this one.

Wendi Murdoch is the quintessential "Ride or Die" chick. So am I.

Here's to you, Wendi Murdoch. Whoop That Trick!

http://youtu.be/3Z2ffd-otQY

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stop The Debt Ceiling Pissing Match

For the first time in our nation's history, our federal government faces the serious prospect of defaulting on debt.

That our elected officials could think that raising the debt ceiling, something so vital to the functioning of not only our economy but the entire world's economy, could be the subject of political negotiation and gamesmanship is absolutely ludicrous. You want to talk about debt reduction? Great. But not when you have debt to pay such that, if you don't pay it, the entire world economy will spasm. The potential defaults of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Ireland have nothing on the cataclysmic result of the first United States default.

I call B.S. on any Congressperson who would even think that raising the debt ceiling is subject to negotiation. That said, I specifically call B.S. on the Tea Party activists who even put this sorry-ass political play in motion. This is a desperate attempt to score political points at the expense of their political nemesis, who just happens to be the nation's first African American president, with absolutely no consideration of the effects on the entire nation, if not the world.

And somewhere in Beijing, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are looking at each other and saying, "Are those crazy-ass Americans for real?"

I wonder how you say, "Bitch betta have my money" in Mandarin.

Enough is enough. Stop the debt ceiling pissing match.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Michele Bachmann Is Passing For White

All the blogosphere is atwitter (get it?) about Michele Bachmann signing a document called "The Marriage Vow" which declares that a black child born during slavery was more likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born after the election of our nation's first black president.

That Michele Bachmann would show any concern whatsoever about black children being raised by both their parents in marriage when her own parents divorced confirms for me what I suspected all along: Michele Bachmann is passing for white.

Yeah, I said it. I think Michele Bachmann is black. Why else would she even care about black children and their chances of being raised by both their parents?

Long before I found out about her "Marriage Vow" and her deeply held concern for black children, I always suspected she wasn't straight-up white.

"Look at her," I told my husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB), when I first saw Michele Bachmann on TV, "she's got that tawny cast . . . that deep beige skin tone that, back in the day, would have been hailed proudly as that of an 'octoroon.'"

My husband, who has relatives who span the skin color spectrum from lighter than Michele Bachmann to deep chocolate, stared hard at her image on the screen and said, "Well, you might be on to something there. She's got the same skin color as Mary Landrieu, and Landrieu looks mixed, too." Looks to me that Michele Bachman and California Attorney General Kamala Harris are about the same skin color. I'm just sayin' . . .

Could it be spray tanner? Nah. Not orange enough, like John Boehner, although it would be perfectly acceptable for her to use spray tanner given that she represents Minnesota.

Could we be on the verge of having our -- dare I say it? -- first African American female president?

Ms. Bachmann, I urge to you reconnect with your African American roots and embrace your real people. Nothing else explains your concern for black children. It's not too late for you to learn how to fry catfish, make a better-than-average potato salad, and do the Electric Slide. You can even put the flat iron away and embrace your hair's true texture. Rock that 'fro and go.

And while you're at it, tell Mary Landrieu and President Jimmy Carter they can stop passing for white, too.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Godspeed, Betty Ford

If you had asked me who my favorite First Lady was, I would have said Betty Ford, hands down. Mind you, my Democrat friends would always get this perplexed look when I said that Betty Ford was my favorite First Lady. They didn't appreciate what I appreciated about Betty Ford: Betty Ford was keepin' it real long before we had a phrase for what she was doing.

I admired her candor. She took breast cancer out of the closet and put it front and center in the nation's view. I doubt there would be as much research on or progress in treating breast cancer but for Betty Ford. My paternal grandmother died of breast cancer before I was born, and I can tell you from what I heard, back in the '50's, people didn't talk about breast cancer above a polite whisper. Betty Ford singlehandedly changed all that.

Betty Ford let us know that she thought her kids were no different than other American kids. She suspected that her children smoked pot and that her daughter had probably had sex. What American parent hasn't had these same thoughts?

I admired the fact that, after her struggles with alcohol and prescription drug addiction, she didn't just enter recovery and move on with her life. She thought about the struggles of others, so much so that she started the Betty Ford Center to help others with their struggles in recovery. She didn't have to do that. But she did. Now, "The Betty," as it's referred to in shorthand in movie references (e.g., "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"), remains a top-flight facility for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

More so than any First Lady in my lifetime, Betty Ford connected with people and put her issues out on front street, so to speak, so that we could do the same and deal with our issues, too. I doubt that people in recovery from addiction would have the acceptance they have today to speak openly about their addiction but for Betty Ford. I've had people admit openly to me, "I'm an alcoholic" with no shame, just a simple declaration of the truth. I doubt that would have been as easy before Betty Ford's candor about her addiction and recovery.

Godspeed, Betty Ford, and thanks for keepin' it real. You helped more people than you will ever know.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

There's A Reason They Call It A "Not Guilty" Verdict

I've been somewhat surprised at the backlash against the jury in the Casey Anthony trial. No sentient being with warm blood could help but be repulsed at the prospect of what Ms. Anthony was accused of. But proving beyond a reasonable doubt that she did indeed murder her daughter? That's another story.

That's also the social contract we as Americans agreed to in the design of our justice system.

I can't say I followed the Casey Anthony trial as closely as, say, Nancy Grace, but from what I did read and hear, the evidence against Ms. Anthony appeared to be circumstantial. To the extent that the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she murdered her daughter, the justice system worked as it should have. I'd rather let a murderer go free because of circumstantial evidence than have an innocent person subjected to the death penalty based on circumstantial evidence. That's how our justice system is designed.

No, I'm not naive, and yes, I know that people get convicted all the time based on circumstantial evidence. And yes, Ms. Anthony's acquisition of a tramp stamp with the words "Bella Vita" during the time her daughter was missing didn't help her case. But disliking how someone carries herself and proving that she murdered someone beyond a reasonable doubt are two different things. No, I don't think Ms. Anthony is innocent. But I don't think the prosecution was able to prove its case, try as they might, beyond a reasonable doubt.

There's a reason why they call it a "not guilty" verdict: It doesn't mean the accused was innocent; it means the prosecution could not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Ms. Anthony isn't necessarily innocent; she's just "not guilty."

And as flawed as the American justice system can be in practice, in theory, it's pretty good and better than most. I'll definitely take it over what some of the other nations have to offer, even on a bad day, like the day Ms. Anthony was acquitted of murder.