I find corporate America fascinating. We love to hold corporate CEOs up as some sort of financial business gurus, when in fact they are simply ordinary guys. Microsoft is an excellent example. For years, Microsoft could do no wrong. They were always ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, that was decades ago. The last thing that Microsoft truly got right was Xbox 360 and that was almost a decade ago. Remember how Microsoft got into cell phones about 10 years ago? Everybody thought it would be absolutely great if there were some way you can sync your email with your cell phone. The Windows cell phone was a disaster. Earlier this week, Microsoft bought Nokia. Unfortunately for Microsoft, in my opinion, this is too little too late. Google bought the cell phone portion of Motorola more than two years ago. We’re now seeing cell phones they’re rolling out that are fabulous. (The golden halo that surrounded Apple seems to be losing its shine also.)
Remember representative Joe Wilson? He was the South Carolina Congressman who shouted out in the middle of a joint session of Congress, “You lie, at Barack Obama!” Well, Joe Wilson really hasn’t done anything of note since then. Yesterday, Rep Wilson decided that he needed to unleash the crazy as John Kerry testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He decided not to unleash one or two crazy theories but instead to go for the bonanza. The reason that Barack Obama was coming to Congress to seek authorization to use military intervention to deter Syria from unleashing more chemical weapons was not that this needed to be done. No, instead it was because Barack Obama was trying to divert our attention away from “Benghazi, IRS, NSA scandals, the failure of Obama care enforcement, the tragedy of the White House drafted sequester.” The quote from the MasterCard commercial fits here – priceless.
Light truck sales increase to their highest number since 2007.
The media loves a point-counterpoint. They love bad versus good. They love rich versus poor. Any time you can paint a story as two extremes they start salivating. Now we have Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal versus President Barack Obama. There is a magazine article in which there are supposed to be some disparaging comments about Barack Obama, Joe Biden and his cabinet members. Frankly, some of the comments were juvenile. It is almost as if they were speaking off the record or they thought that the reporter was in a coma. President Obama has a complex decision to make — fire Stanley McChrystal in the middle of an offensive in Afghanistan, which could disrupt the military and its chain of command or keep the general and risk losing face with the military. Personally, I think it depends on the assessment of the Afghanistan war. If the offensive is meeting its goals then I would keep the general. If the offensive has been a huge waste of time, money and manpower then I would trash the offensive and fire the general. This is not an easy decision. No matter which President Obama goes on this one, look for the conservative media to bash him one way or the other.
Judge Martin “Marty” Feldman of the US District Court in New Orleans is making news. (I don’t know whether he is called “Marty” for short. Of course, Marty Feldman was a great comedian, best known for his performance in Young Frankenstein.) This Feldman has overturned the president’s moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. The Obama administration will appeal.
Many people are now picking up on Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP as the Republican Party line rather than a rogue personal statement. As I’ve said many times, Republicans are very disciplined. They’re not known for emotional outbursts. (I think that Joe Wilson’s You Lie outburst at the President was planned.) When they say something, it generally has been thought about and approved on many levels. Republicans are outraged that a corporation would be asked to clean up something that they caused. There’s a reason that the Superfund was allowed to dry up by the Bush administration. Corporations were supposed to pay fines for their transgressions, fines collected and placed into the Superfund. The Bush administration stopped collecting fines. Without fines there would be no Superfund because in their minds making business clean up what they messed up is a bad thing.
I was too disgusted after the NBA finals to actually talk about them. I wasn’t disgusted that the Los Angeles Lakers won. I was disgusted that instead of watching a basketball game, I watched a professional wrestling match. In spite of frankly my having gotten nauseated throughout the game, I feel compelled to congratulate Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson (arguably the greatest coach of all time) and the Los Angeles Lakers. I would only ask that in the off season, point guard Rajon Rondo learn how to shoot free throws. Is that so hard?
Michael Jackson died approximately one year ago (it’ll be one year on the 25th). Some are confused about the fact that he has left a mixed legacy. I am not confused. I grew up with Michael Jackson. I had all of the J5 albums. I saw the J5 when they came to Dallas in 1970. Michael was 11 but they said he was 8. I was 9. Michael Jackson was a complex person, just as many of us are complex people. He was a great humanitarian and one of the best entertainers to ever live. He also slept in an oxygen chamber, had a zoo complete with a tiger and chimpanzee and he had problems with personal relationships with adults and children. I love him as an entertainer. Whenever I see his Emmy award-winning performance of Billie Jean at the Motown 25th anniversary special or his performance of Man in the Mirror at the Grammys, I get goosebumps. In spite of my utmost respect for his musical talents, I’m not sure I would leave my grandson with him for more than a nanosecond.
This is the sad fact. Republicans have only been interested in pushing their corporate agenda and nothing else. They aren’t interested in working with anyone who isn’t pushing the corporate message. Period. There is no in-between for the Republicans. Democratic presidents are in the way and they are not to be tolerated.
Several people objected in comments, emails and other places to my argument yesterday that what Rep. Joe Wilson did — though dumb and juvenile — was hardly some grave threat to the Republic or even a substantial deviation from standard right-wing political behavior. Some argued that Obama’s race has caused the Right’s hostility towards him to be both unique and unprecedentedly intense. That some people react with particular animus towards the first black President is obvious. But there is nothing new about the character of the American Right or their concerted efforts to destroy the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.
To see that, just look at what that movement’s leading figures said and did during the Clinton years. In 1994, Jesse Helms, then-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, claimed that “just about every military man” believes Clinton is unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief and then warned/threatened him not to venture onto military bases in the South: “Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here. He better have a bodyguard.” The Wall St. Journal called for a Special Prosecutor to investigate the possible “murder” of Vince Foster. Clinton was relentlessly accused by leading right-wing voices of being a murderer, a serialrapist, and a drug trafficker. Tens of millions of dollars and barrels of media ink were expended investigating “Whitewater,” a “scandal” which, to this day, virtually nobody can even define. When Clinton tried to kill Osama bin Laden, they accused him of “wagging the dog” — trying to distract the country from the truly important matters at hand (his sex scandal). And, of course, the GOP ultimately impeached him over that sex scandal — in the process issuing a lengthy legal brief with footnotes detailing his sex acts (cigars and sex talk), publicly speculating about (and demanding examinations of) the unique “distinguishing” spots on his penis, and using leading right-wing organs to disseminate innuendo that he had an abandoned, out-of-wedlock child. More intense and constant attacks on a President’s “legitimacy” are difficult to imagine.
This is why I have very mixed feelings about the protests of conservatives such as David Frum or Andrew Sullivan that the conservative movement has been supposedly “hijacked” by extremists and crazies. On the one hand, this is true. But when was it different? Rush Limbaugh didn’t just magically appear in the last twelve months. He — along with people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Bill Kristol and Jesse Helms — have been leaders of that party for decades. Republicans spent the 1990s wallowing in Ken Starr’s sex report, “Angry White Male” militias, black U.N. helicopters, Vince Foster’s murder, Clinton’s Mena drug runway, Monica’s semen-stained dress, Hillary’s lesbianism, “wag the dog” theories, and all sorts of efforts to personally humiliate Clinton and destroy the legitimacy of his presidency using the most paranoid, reality-detached, and scurrilous attacks. And the crazed conspiracy-mongers in that movement became even more prominent during the Bush years. Frum himself — now parading around as the Serious Adult conservative — wrote, along with uber-extremist Richard Perle, one of the most deranged and reality-detached books of the last two decades, and before that, celebrated George W. Bush, his former boss, as “The Right Man.” (more… )