Archive for June, 2012

John Roberts, Unlikely Hero of the Left

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Chief Justice John Roberts

By Bob Gaydos

So, John Roberts, hero of the left wing and savior of Obamacare. Who wuddda thunk it?

Actually, the chief justice’s law school professor, for one. Laurence Tribe, who taught Roberts as well as President Barack Obama at Harvard Law School, opined on Tuesday, two days before the historic Supreme Court ruling was revealed, that he felt Roberts would vote to uphold the law, as much to reinforce the image of the court as an apolitical neutral umpire as to rule on the law’s constitutionality.

In an interview on MSNBC, Tribe said, “I think that the chief justice is likely to be concerned about the place of the court in history and is not likely to want the court to continue to be as deeply and politically divided. Doesn’t mean he will depart from his philosophy. You can be deeply conservative and believe the affordable care act is completely consistent with the United States Constitution.”

Which is pretty much what Roberts did, siding with the four so-called liberal justices to preserve the major legislative victory of Obama‘s presidency. Of course, the airwaves and the blogosphere exploded Thursday as anyone with a law degree and an opinion on the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act and a means of transmitting that opinion to a large audience explained why Roberts did what he did. Or, as many Republican politicians did, to call Roberts a traitor to their cause. Safe to say, many of the latter group aren’t too concerned with the nuances of judicial restraint and co-equal sharing of power among three branches of government.

I don’t have a law degree and I don’t belong to any political party, but, hey, I‘ve got a blog, too. And without pretending to read Roberts’ mind, some things seem obvious in the wake of this ruling:

  • Obama got a huge boost in his re-election campaign, since repealing the health care act as unconstitutional was all Republicans have talked about for months. Case closed. It’s constitutional. Spin it any way you want, the president wins this one.
  • Republicans are now going to have to find an actual plan to replace Obama’s if they want to continue their argument. House Speaker John Boehner seems not to care about that. All he keeps talking about is repealing the act, which the Senate will never do. Plus, with so many provisions in it that Americans like (no refusal for pre-existing conditions, kids on parents‘ plan until age 26), that will not be easy for any Congress.
  • Mitt Romney, who actually has talked about replacing the health care act after he repeals it as president, seems to be stuck with offering up his own plan, which he introduced as governor of Massachusetts. That plan, of course, is what Obama’s plan and an initial conservative plan, was modeled on. So Romney continues to talk in circles of fog and disingenuousness.
  • Roberts obviously possesses a chief justice’s concern for the way his court is viewed. He does not, for example, think justices should be offering strong political views on issues that are not contained in the case on which they are ruling. (Justice Antonin Scalia, who acts as if his life term gives him the right to pontificate and criticize — as he recently did on Obama’s order sparing tens of thousands of young immigrants from deportation — obviously doesn’t get the neutral umpire view.) Roberts both criticized the Obama health plan (an overreaching regulation of commerce by requiring insurance) and ruled on its constitutionality — it’s a legitimate tax, even though Democrats didn’t have the guts to call it that.
  • By stressing that the court’s role is not to judge the law, but to decide if it can be upheld and, if so, to do so, Roberts demonstrated control of his court and reassured some Americans who have had an increasingly dim view of it since Bush v. Gore. It falls to Congress the power to pass laws, he reminds us, whether they seem wise or not. This is a definition of judicial restraint.
  • Spinning the 5-4 ruling as a conservative victory for the future because Congress is warned off trying to expand use of the commerce clause to regulate behavior and Republicans will be energized to actually replace the Obama health plan with one of their own doesn’t come close to the overwhelming victory it gives an incumbent president seeking reelection right now. If I’m a politician, I take that trade anytime.

So, Chief Justice John Roberts, intentionally or not, hero of the left wing.





Gigli’s Photo of the Week

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Mountain Brook

Robert Frost – Hyla Brook

By June our brook’s run out of song and speed.

Sought for much after that, it will be found

Either to have gone groping underground

(And taken with it all the Hyla breed

That shouted in the mist a month ago,

Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)–

Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed,

Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent

Even against the way its waters went.

Its bed is left a faded paper sheet

Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat–

A brook to none but who remember long.

This as it will be seen is other far

Than with brooks taken other  where in song.

We love the things we love for what they are.


Mitt’s ‘Circus’ Sends in the Clowns

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

By Emily Theroux

Come one, come all to the three-ring circus of Willard “Mitt” Romney’s “This Week in Immigration” road show! Step right up and have the time of your life!

That cornball “Greatest Show on Earth” hype was what came to mind while I listened to the Mittster’s “traveling press secretary,” Rick Gorka, an apparently sentient young man behaving eerily like a trained parrot before an assembled media gaggle. Undaunted by the attempts of reporters to elicit a different response to their repeated questions about Mitt’s immigration agenda, Gorka managed to say absolutely nothing substantive for a full seven minutes. When asked about Mitt’s considered opinion of the recent Supreme Court ruling that rendered Arizona’s notorious “Papers, Please” Act legally impotent, his laconic, gum-chewing flack echoed the Boss Man’s desultory “states’ rights” bibble-babble, as he noted, “over and over and over again.”

Willard “Lizard Boy” Romney has apparently designated the robotic Gorka as his substitute ringmaster. This inspired hire has provided the candidate with a nifty dodge from the media circus converging on “The Magical ‘Mitt-stery’ Tour” of daring escapes from accountability, mind-boggling platitudes, and broken-record ballyhoo that the campaign has devolved into. Why the calliopes and clown brigade every time the campaign stops at a new venue? Because the GOP candidate mulishly refuses to answer a potentially lethal question: What is his policy on immigration reform?

“The governor supports the right of states,” Gorka mechanically replied. “That’s all we’re going to say on this issue.”

That and Mitt’s tedious contention that President Obama has broken his campaign promise to “address” the immigration system within the first year of his presidency and, “therefore,” hasn’t made any attempt to reform it since then. Mitt jumped to the conclusion that the states have some nebulous “Tenth Amendment right” to “craft their own immigration law” when the executive branch “fails” to act. (This view also enabled dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia to “strike down the results of the Civil War,” in the words of a clever headline writer for Alternet.)

We’ve almost arrived at the main attraction: Mitt’s audacious high-wire act in the center ring. But first, send in the clowns! I think I spy Rush “Bubbles” Limbaugh, fortunately still looming in the wings – but I have no doubt he’ll swing by soon, his imposing bulk dangling from the high bar of a very slender trapeze. And mira, amigos – here comes Jan “Rosie Sunshine” Brewer! She’s got her platinum wig all in a wad because she thinks the Supremes don’t like her finger-wagging routine any more. She’s so goofy, she still thinks her side “won” when the ruling came down!

Look over there – is that Michael “Emmett Kelly” Steele, returning for Act II of his hilarious GOP stand-up routine? I barely recognized him without the villainous moustache. What’s that he’s saying – Mitt’s going to lie low for the rest of the summer, then give us some general-election “straight talk” after Labor Day to let us know, finally, what he’s decided to say he thinks about Amercia’s “illegals” quandary? What’s that about David Koch and the Super PAC puppeteers? Very funny, Pennywise!

And there’s Hizzoner, Nino “Bozo” Scalia, riding bareback on Ann Romney’s prized dressage horse. That’s some clown get-up he’s got on there – a judge’s robe! Bozo probably should have been wearing boxing gloves, because he had a big spat with the majority, who didn’t think much of his highly politicized dissenting opinion – or his brainstorm about calling down the Insane Clown Posse on all 12 million of those “alien” interlopers, chasing them back across the border, and then letting Mexico deal with them, even though they didn’t all come from Mexico. (And you’d never know that Nino himself was the son of an immigrant, would you?) Take a bow, Nino/Bozo – or get that fancy horse to do some of those little fluttery ballet steps for you! (That equine must have been pricey. Good thing Mitt could write it off as a “business expense.”)

I realize Mitt’s really teetering up there; at least he’s risk-averse enough to always use a net. (Obama’s the real daredevil, though; no net, no sissy tights, just a big stick to help him keep his balance.) What’s really scary is what Mitt’s up against, straddling “the danged fence” the way he does. If he leans too far to the right, he’s in danger of losing even more of that baffling demographic, Latino voters (which he can’t fathom until he figures out how to tell the “legal” immigrants from the “illegal” ones). And if he swings too far to the left, he’s going to fall off the back of the “Restore Our Future” campaign bus! (Odd concept, by the way – how can you “restore” something that hasn’t happened yet? Sounds like a socialist takeover, if you ask me.)

When the Romney traveling circus comes to town, prepare yourself for the awful truth: This circus is no genuine fun at all, with the exception of a little schadenfreude. (We’re laughing at you, Mitt, not with you.) This Big Top spectacle offers its share of elephants, aerialists, and clowns, and it even has its own traveling pitchman. But it’s so repetitive that it’s guaranteed to “cure insomnia,” as Martin Bashir quipped on his MSNBC show – and it’s no place to go searching for honest solutions to the serious economic dilemma this country has been tricked into by GOP hucksters. The same scam artists who flim-flammed Americans into buying what Dubya’s Great Neocon Illusionist Exposition was selling 12 years ago hope to fool the gullible into believing that Brother Mitt’s Traveling Salvation Show offers a shiny new approach to the one that drove the wagons into the ditch in the first place.

As P.T. Barnum is falsely credited with saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” If Mitt manages to pull a fast one on the American people and sell them his own bill of goods by talking in circles for the next four months, we’ll only have the folks who aren’t paying attention to blame (like all of those registered Democrats who stayed home in droves during the primary election for a candidate to run against Tea Party freshman Nan Hayward; if you’re reading this, which would surprise me, you know who you are).

I wonder what pearls of wisdom Mitt Romney will have to offer about Scalia’s “miscarriage” of judicial propriety, by the way?

Very likely, nothing new. Move along, folks. The show is over. Nothing to see here.

In circus lingo, a “fireball outfit” is a traveling circus that earns a reputation for swindling patrons. If that’s indeed what’s been going on during this comedy of errors, the voters should demand their money back and ride the bums out of town on a rail when they show up at the next whistle stop with their hands out.

Finally, a Poll That Is Useful

Monday, June 25th, 2012

By Michael Kaufman

Although the 2012 presidential election is still five months away, a day does not pass without the announcement of results of a new poll. One day we may learn that Romney has slipped a couple of points with Latino voters, or that support for Obama has gone down a notch or two with another group. Catholics, Jews, women, African-Americans, folks who live in “swing-states,” high-income people, college graduates, gays, people in the military, seniors, youth–all and and more are fair game for the burgeoning polling industry.

It was hard enough to keep track when there were just Harris and Gallup competing with each other to be numero uno in the poll game. But since they have been joined by Zogby, Pew, Rasmussen, Quinnipiac and others, it is getting ridiculous. Major media conglomerates are also getting into the act, often combining a TV network with a big-city newspaper and/or a big-name in the polling field to lend prestige:  “According to the latest NBC-New York Times-Gallup survey…”  All these polls, to paraphrase one of my old editors, “say everything and they say nothing.”

We don’t need polls that can’t possibly tell us anything about the outcome of an election held five months from now. Too many things can and will happen between now and then to influence the results. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need any polls. Polls can be helpful. To prove it I am hereby undertaking the first Kaufman-Zest of Orange poll to determine the opinions of our readers regarding a subject of admittedly minor importance, but which nonetheless should be of interest to all.

The background is this. My neighbor and I walk our dogs together a lot. One of us allows their dog to pee on mailbox posts along the way. The other considers this objectionable. Each thinks our opinion is shared by the majority of our neighbors. We’ve agreed that a poll will be a good way to settle the argument. You don’t have to be a dog owner or a property owner to participate. All responses posted below and via email will be tabulated and results announced some time next month.

So here goes….A simple yes or no is all that is required (although comments are welcome):

Question: Is it okay to let one’s dog pee on mailbox posts other than your own?

Feel free to identify yourself as belonging to any of the categories listed above. Perhaps we’ll uncover significant differences of opinion or trends among Catholics and Jews, men and women, gay and straight, etc.   Whichever side you’re on regarding dogs peeing on mailbox posts, remember to exercise your right to take part in this admittedly unimportant poll! (No proof of residency, absence of criminal record, or photo ID required.)

FROM THE VIRTUAL MAILBAG—My recent post re Scott Walker was “spot on,” wrote M.R. “The sad thing is that no matter who wins the election we can expect further erosion, if not total loss of our liberties. I hate to seem so pessimistic, but if something miraculous doesn’t happen soon, we are heading for a corporate dictatorship, where even this column will be banned!!” I agree there is plenty of cause for pessimism but there are also some encouraging signs of popular resistance….Paul Fischler, mentioned in a recent post as “another kid” who used to win paint jobs and other prizes from Alan Grant’s 1960s radio jazz program, wrote to correct my faulty memory of our meeting some 50 years ago: “Actually, I don’t think we met in the Garden City Hotel (since I don’t remember the performance you mention). I think we met when Alan Grant was organizing some sort of jazz club… and a few young people showed up for the meeting at some sort of club (or bar)… which had a juke box full of jazz!” Paul is right: We met at the Cork & Bib in Westbury. Prior to his email we hadn’t been in touch since…. Keep those cards and letters coming in.

Michael can be reached at








Making Orange County Bike-Friendly

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Bicycling is the lowest carbon-producing form of transportation (along with walking) that gives you exercise and a great view at the same time. Many larger cities are actively encouraging cycling as it helps alleviate traffic congestion and increases foot traffic in downtowns.

Using a code known as the “Five E’s,” the League of American Bicyclists rates bike friendly communities on such matters as Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. A community must demonstrate achievements in each of these five categories in order to be considered for recognition.

–For Engineering, a community needs to design a bicycle master plan using well-designed bike lanes and multi-use paths to accommodate cyclists on public roads, The community also must provide bike racks for secure parking.

–Education includes teaching cyclists of all ages how to ride safely in any area from multi-use paths to congested city streets as well as instructing motorists how to share the road safely with cyclists.

–Encouragement means a community promotes and encourages cycling through events such as “Bike Month” and “Bike to Work Week.” It also should produce local bike maps, route-finding signage, community bike rides, commuter incentive programs, and initiating a “Safe Routes to School” program.

–Enforcing laws that encourage safer cycling and road-sharing to help create a bike-friendly environment in the community.

–Evaluation and planning is simply determining ways to make cycling safer, and setting benchmarks to gauge success. Here the community is judged on its systems for rating current programs and on its future plans.

As more and more local residents park their cars and put on their bike helmets, it’s time for municipalities to create safer shared roads and employ other of the 5 E’s. As it stands, there are no 5 E communities in Orange County, but some municipalities, including Montgomery, are working on implementing parts of the program.

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.



To and Fro With Duplicitous Mitt

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

I’m not sure who first confronted a liar and declared, “You, sir, are a stranger to the truth.” Nor do I know how the great Yiddish expression “Pish nisht af mein fus, un dertzail mir az si regant” (Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining) came into being.

But here we are after what seems like the hundred years of the Republican campaign, now with just 131 days left until the election and both expressions have significance.

It finally dawned on the Republicans that they may get their money from guys in white shoes and pastel colored golf blazers, and they may yap on and on about their view that government should not provide any service except what is specifically mentioned in the Constitution, but that elections are decided by ordinary people with mortgages, illnesses, kids to educate, and intense worry about the future of their jobs.

And many of those people are Latino.

So when the Supreme Court tossed most of the onerous Arizona immigration measure – salvaging the part that allows the police to declare like Peter Lorre “Your papers are not in order” as they write a ticket for overtime parking – reporters called on Mitt Romney for comment. But Romney had a problem:

His party’s Supreme Court made the ruling against most of the Arizona law.

His party’s Arizona governor had enacted the law with her signature.

His party’s outer fringes have serious problems with people born someplace overseas.

His party’s members still capable of rational thought, who have resisted the onslaught of the Tea Party, understand that that the GOP’s continued nativist fear and/or loathing of immigrants – as the immigrant population increases – will cost them dearly in elections to come, maybe starting with the one in November.

So, did Mitt call a news conference and proclaim, “This ruling stinks?” Or did he assert, “The court should be commended?”

He did neither. Instead he did what he does so well. He ducked having to face the press on what is arguably the most contentious issue of this election year, and issued a gutless press release in which he attacked President Obama’s executive order on allowing certain undocumented young people to remain in the U.S. And Mitt declined to say anything else about the specifics of the court’s ruling.

Romney doesn’t understand that refusing to respond seriously – and issuing a press release is such a refusal – when you’re after the most important job in the world, is a form of dishonesty. It’s kind of like the time Romney said Obama is unqualified to be president because he’s “never worked in the private sector.” This of course ignored Obama’s work as a writer, attorney, teacher and community organizer. That’s OK Mitt, maybe no one noticed.

Maybe he had nothing to say into a TV camera for fear of offending some Republican yahoos. Or maybe some Hispanic or Latino voters, but he will continue to condescend to them by uttering the required “Buenos Dias” at southern and western campaign stops and then turn the show over to his son Craig, who is fluent in Spanish, to deliver the message.

“How can we trust him on anything?” Newt Gingrich has said.

“If a man’s dishonest to obtain a job, he’ll be dishonest on the job,” Mike Huckabee has said.

Romney is a “chameleon,” Michelle Bachmann has said.

Chameleon? Mitt? In 1994 Romney (running for the Senate), said abortion should be safe and legal – though he opposed it. In 2002 Romney (running for governor), asked abortion supporters for their backing. That same year, Romney responded to a Planned Parenthood survey, saying he supported state funding of “abortion services” under Medicaid. “In 2005 Romney (as governor), identified himself as pro-life. In 2007 Romney (running for president), was quoted in The Times: “I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice.” This year (running for president), Romney said Planned Parenthood should be defunded.

Hold on. I hope that’s just rain on my leg.


Good Policy Can Also be Good Politics

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Barack Obama: A humane move on immigration.

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe Barack Obama is finally figuring it out. You can only negotiate, compromise and reason with people who are willing to negotiate, compromise and reason. In other words, apparently no one with the authority to speak for the Republican Party.

Having committed itself on Day One of his presidency to a priority goal of denying Obama a second term as president, the GOP, led by the no’s of Tea Party conservatives, has opposed every idea, proposal, act of the Obama administration, including those with Republican origins. Even when the act is obviously a good thing — a moral thing — to do.

For example, Obama’s executive order immediately removing the fear of deportation from some 800,000 young people who were brought into this country as children by their immigrant parents. Make no mistake, these young people are Americans in every way but documentation. They have grown up in the United States, gone to our schools, our colleges, served in the military. They work in our businesses. And yet, with the fervor of the GOP anti-immigration campaign growing every day, these young people who call America home lived in fear of being sent back to a “home” they never knew.

Not any longer, thanks to Obama. In a quintessentially American act, the president gave these young people legal status. If they were brought here before age 16, have been here at least five years, are under 30 years old, are in school, have a high school or GED diploma or served in the armed forces, and have no criminal record, they can stay and even apply for work permits.

What was the Republican response to this humanitarian act?

They accused Obama of playing politics.

Really? That’s all of you’ve got? Politics? From a politician? Gosh, guys, you make it sound like a bad word. Just because you’ve been bashing Latinos for two years now during your presidential balloon fight of a primary race, anything positive a Democrat does on immigration is “politics”?

Face it, the GOP has surrendered any right it might have had to a Latino vote with its harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. So Obama, or any Democrat, would be a fool not to appeal to Latinos. If that be politics, so be it — but this also happens to be good policy and good politicians can marry policy and politics for success.

The pitiful GOP response included a failure by presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to answer a simple question — although asked three times on “Face the Nation.” If he disagrees with Obama’s order welcoming these immigrants, would Romney, if elected president, issue an order nullifying it? Yes or no? He never replied. Best he offered is that “events” might supersede the president’s well-motivated move as the Romney administration sought a comprehensive answer to the immigration situation.

Yeah, like Republicans have sought for the past ten years. They have blown up the Dream Act, which was a bipartisan immigration effort, in favor of urging deportation and pretty much nothing else. The thing is, Obama has been deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace. But he has just made nearly a million young people — who did nothing illegal — immune from that threat.

Look, Republicans for the most part are simply ticked off that they have been trumped, politically. They have shown no real interest in a humane immigration policy for this nation of immigrants. They may rail about drug trafficking from Mexico, but for years they had no plan for the thousands of immigrants who streamed in from Mexico just to seek work — often work most Americans didn’t want to do.

Worse, Republicans have become unable or unwilling to simply respond to acts or events for what they are. For example, to say in this case: The president did a good thing here. We applaud him.

Even Marco Rubio, the Florida senator with vice presidential aspirations and an obvious stake in the Latino vote, could not simply praise Obama for his humane gesture without suggesting it would have been better to get Congress involved.

Really, Mario? You know full well that Republicans in Congress scared George W. Bush away from humane immigration reform, which his instincts told him was the right thing to do and which could have been a major accomplishment in his otherwise disastrous presidency. Some Republican wing nuts in Congress are threatening to sue over Obama’s order, behaving as if the president does not have considerable powers of his own, including the power to grant amnesty and immunity from laws, including those on deportation.

Nothing drives a rigid, intolerant, uncompassionate, fearful, selfish person crazier than someone exhibiting a flexible, tolerant, compassionate, hopeful, generous attitude toward the object of their fear. Call it politics if you wish. Others call it basic human decency.

* * *

PS: I like that ending, but I have to add something for any Republicans who might have read this and feel upset or insulted or angry or whatever because they don’t necessarily agree with their party’s response to the president’s decision in this matter. It’s not my problem. If you are a Republican today, for better or worse, you are identified with these views. As I see it, you have three choices: (1) Accept the statements and views of your avowed leaders as they are, in silence; (2) work to bring your party back to a more traditional conservatism, one that still has a heart; or (3) get the heck out. The choice is yours, and that, too, is politics.





Mitt Romney, Human Question Mark

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

By Emily Theroux

Ever get the feeling that Mitt Romney qualifies everything he says to death?

He’s careful never to: a) utter a simple declarative sentence; b) directly answer a direct question; c) take a definitive stand on any controversial subject; d) reveal that he lacks any sincere or strongly held beliefs; or, e) reveal that, au contraire (as Missionary Mitt might have said, waiting out the Vietnam War in Gay Paree), he actually has any sincere or strongly held beliefs. If Multiple Choice Mitt, as one wag called him, continues to hide behind temporizing, query-dodging, and verbal gymnastics, pretty soon, nothing he says will make sense to anyone who still cares to listen.

The candidate’s question circumvention, it appears, may already have reached critical mass. Mitt is currently “trying to walk a line” (translation from Republican: ducking the question) by camouflaging his reaction to President Obama’s new deportation policy for undocumented immigrants.

A Bloomberg poll released three days after Obama’s announcement revealed that Americans enthusiastically support the plan by a margin of more than 2 to 1. Mitt, however, blindsided by the president’s stroke of sheer political genius, has been caught dumbstruck with his pants bunched around his ankles – a posture that could make walking and evading pundits at the same time a harrowing experience.

Bewildered by this unexpected challenge, Mitt found himself faced with another of those risky sit-down interviews with a non-Fox journalist. His interrogator, CBS veteran Bob Schieffer, asked Romney five times whether he would rescind Obama’s grant of deferred action – which is not an executive order, a form of “back-door amnesty,” or a path to permanent legal status, as some news outlets have mistakenly reported. Instead, this presidential directive (lauded by the reform advocacy group America’s Voice as “the biggest news on immigration in 25 years”) offers a reprieve from the threat of deportation to some 800,000 “DREAMers” – those undocumented immigrants age 30 or under who were brought here as children.

Mitt Romney’s ‘great allergy to specifics and details’
Facing Bob Schieffer’s simple question, Mitt meandered, stuttered, and blundered through a series of obfuscations that clearly didn’t meet Schieffer’s standards for an answer. Mitt suggested they “step back and look at the issue,” then segued into a nonsequitur about Obama’s alleged failure to do anything about immigration reform earlier in his term. (This charge, one of Mitt’s stock campaign lies, ignores the fact that Senate Republicans shot down the DREAM Act during the 2010 lame duck session of Congress by once again abusing the filibuster during a procedural vote.)

Still stalling Schieffer, Romney digressed about the military and then nonsensically claimed that any perceived need for him to reply to Schieffer’s question “would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with – with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals, such that they know what their – their status … is going to be.”

After Romney’s disastrous “Face the Nation” interview, Rich Lowry of the National Review observed that the candidate exhibits a “great allergy to specifics and details.” The reason he’s so vague, Lowry speculated, is that Romney believed he lost his 1994 Senate race against Teddy Kennedy because he was “too specific” when speaking to the press. Hence, his manic swing to the opposite pole: extreme equivocation.

Mitt thought he had plenty of time to wait for Sen. Marco Rubio to come up with a bright idea that would exculpate him from his “severely conservative” position on immigration during the primaries: that undocumented immigrants should simply “self-deport.” Mitt figured the current Congress wouldn’t pass any version of the DREAM Act, whether it bore Rubio’s imprimatur or not. If they did, he reasoned, he could simply veto it; he boasted about that frequently on the campaign trail.

Mittens hides out between a rock and a hard place
As things stand now, Mitt can choose to court Latino voters by admitting that he’ll probably leave Obama’s policy in place while searching for a “long-term solution” (a phrase he repeated five times in a press statement intended to convey that – as with every other policy position about which he’s been interviewed – he didn’t plan to reveal any details until after the election). If he concedes that he won’t rescind Obama’s directive “on Day One,” he’ll antagonize the GOP’s most xenophobic supporters.

Since Rubio confessed that his “DREAM Act Lite” proposal was dead in the water once Obama enacted virtually the same plan, Mitt’s only alternative is to keep stonewalling reporters and insisting, as he did when the GOP “war against women” became an issue, that his message for Latino voters would be focused “intently” on economic issues. If he takes that route, he may alienate Latino voters even further than he already did by pandering to anti-immigrant bigotry during the primaries.

To make matters worse, Mitt’s own caucus has leapt into the fray, with Mitch McConnell and three other senators exhorting him to man up and explain in detail, at an upcoming conference of Latino officials, what he’s planning to do about immigration. In the House, John Boehner and company have joined their radical base to denounce Obama’s plan as “executive overreach.”

Boehner shed crocodile tears for Obama’s “victims” while speculating about the constitutionality of the president’s proposal. Adding insult to stupefying hypocrisy, Boehner (who practically invented gridlock) huffed, “The president’s actions make it much more difficult for us to work in a bipartisan way to get to a permanent solution.” (You want bipartisan, Mr. “Compromise – I reject the word” Boehner? Step outside, and I’ll show you bipartisan!)

Young Latinos who lobbied for DREAM Act elated, worried
Whether Obama’s immigration plan is challenged in court or emerges as a viable policy, many young DREAMers who hope to be spared from deportation are jubilant. Others, however, remain apprehensive about declaring their identity to the government. Although the Obama administration has tried previously to deter Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from deporting so many young, productive immigrants and asked the agency to focus instead on apprehending undocumented criminals, ICE isn’t bound by law to halt deportations simply because the administration asks them to. Instead of being handled by ICE, however, this new, more affirmative process will be implemented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that handles benefits, not enforcement.

If Mitt ever gets around to formulating a response to the plaintive queries of DREAMers, they may find his dissembling approach offers far too little, way too late. No one will be paying attention any longer, whether he runs his malicious ads in Spanish, Klingon, or Farsi.

The lesson Mitt may glean from this humiliating episode is written in plain English: When you stop taking questions in public life, you learn the hard way that people soon stop waiting for your answers.

Maintaining Your Cool

Monday, June 18th, 2012

By Shawn Dell Joyce

As the mercury rises in Orange County, people from around the world offer low tech ways to stay cool:

Mexicans: Dampen a bed sheet and hang it in the window. The water evaporates in the breeze, cooling the room in the process. Another method is to place frozen two-liter bottles of water in front of a fan for instant a/c.

Egyptians: Again, dampen a bed sheet and use it as a “blanket.” Evaporation does the trick.

Chinese: Keep a bamboo mat between your skin and a hot or hard surface like a car seat or chair. The bamboo allows air to circulate, and keeps bare skin from sticking to hot plastic.

Bahamians: In humid climates people often dress down and get wet. Getting wet reduces your core body temperature by three degrees, and will last up to an hour. If you wear clothes that can get wet as well, the cooling effect will last longer. You don’t have to have a pool; a hose, faucet, or misting bottle will work.

Bedouins: You can actually stay cooler in hot climates by covering your skin. Picture desert dwellers in their turbans and flowing white garments; the white reflects the sun, and the natural, loose fabrics shade the skin where there is no shade. Bedouin cultures often wear two layers in the heat of the day. Skin exposed to direct sun is hotter than skin insulated by clothing. Turbans and bandanas shade the eyes, and soak up sweat from the head; this then evaporates and helps cool you off.

New Yorkers: Apartment dwellers in major cities often move bedding onto their fire escapes to sleep in the cooler night air. Rural counterparts can sleep on screened in porches or outdoors. Another trick: Fill your bathtub with cold water and take periodic dips. If you live on the top floor, turn on the ceiling fan (or attic fan) and open the windows to draw out the hot air. Turn off incandescent lights, which generate 90 percent heat and 10 percent light. Use compact fluorescents or LEDs instead.

Caribbean people: Spicy foods make you perspire more, which cools the body. Spices also help stop foods from spoiling as quickly, and give you an endorphin rush that feels good in any temperature.

Italians: Train grapevines over window trellises to provide shade in summer and let in light in winter. Slightly opening windows on the bottom floor, and fully opening upstairs windows maximizes Mediterranean breezes through your villa.

Southerners: Front porches are part of the cooling system of a southern home. Sitting in a lawn chair or rocker that has slats or openings (for air flow) on a shady porch with some iced tea is a tradition. You hold the glass of iced tea against your neck to cool the blood to your brain, and on your pulse points in your wrists. Blow into the iced tea and cool air will rush around your face and neck. In temperatures over 105 degrees, soak your clothes and sit in the lawn chair with iced tea.

Women: Always carry a folding fan in your purse. Dampen a handkerchief and tuck it into your cleavage. It is very cooling and keeps sweat from running down your chest. Southern women often spritz with rubbing alcohol then stand in front of a fan. Follow that with a sprinkling of baby powder at your pulse points and you’re cool as a cucumber.

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School of Art in Montgomery.




The Constitution? What’s That?

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

If the American experiment with popular rule comes to an end, I’m convinced it will be as a result of otherwise sensible people allowing mold to grow on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Often we don’t abide by what the framers had in mind. One glaring example is over the question of how the United States shall go to war. The Constitution, in Article I, spells it out within a long list of Congressional powers and authority. Congress declares war.

The last time that happened was 71 years ago, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Since then, American presidents have sent troops and fleets to wage war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, the Gulf and many other places with no congressional declaration sought or granted. I don’t recall any serious congressional objection to this presidential use of force.

In New York City, meanwhile, the mayor and his police commissioner are busy dismantling the Fourth Amendment – the one that forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures” – to ensure the continuation of their odious stop-and-frisk program. Briefly: A cop stops a “suspicious [read: nonwhite] person,” asks for identification, orders the “suspicious person” to empty his pockets, notices that along with some money and a handkerchief, the pocket contained some marijuana that is now showing, and promptly arrests the “suspicious person” for displaying marijuana in public. Never mind that to refuse to clear out his pocket renders the “suspicious person” guilty of ignoring a police officer’s command. Either way, there’s an arrest.

Last year, NYPD stopped and frisked 685,724 people: 53 percent were black (blacks comprise 26 percent of the city’s population); 34 percent were Latino (Latinos comprise 29 percent), and 9 percent were white (whites comprise 44 percent). The numbers suggest stop-and-frisk is something you might have encountered on the streets of Berlin around, say, 1939.

Racist? Not us, cry Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. If you bet $10 on the assumption that no relative of Bloomberg or Kelly has ever been stopped and frisked, pick up your money. You’re a winner.

If there’s been a popular movement involving huge numbers of middle class people marching on City Hall to protest this racist atrocity, I haven’t heard about it.

Now, in Middleborough, Mass., some residents are upset about people (especially high school students) swearing in public. And so, the Town Meeting voted to allow the police to fine people $20 for cursing in public. You might think the vote of 233 people who participated would have been about as close as 117 to 116 or that the measure would go down in flames. No such thing. The vote was 183 to 50. That’s 79 percent favoring a dubious move to get around the First Amendment.

It’s dangerous enough that the penalty for uttering a dirty word in public is strictly a police matter. It’s at an officer’s discretion, Police Chief Bruce Gates told The Patriot-Ledger.

Worse is the fact that there’s no official list of banned words. A dirty word is what a police officer on duty says it is.

Can you say “shit?” Probably not.

Can you say “asshole?” Maybe, maybe not.

And since this idiotic rule is up to the cop who hears it, can you say “cop?” Or “fuzz?” Can you call your boss a “son of a bitch?”

No one knows. But that’s OK in Middleborough where the people have accepted Gates’s explanation that the rule is not directed at what he called “ordinary swears,” whatever they are. Actually, he said, the rule is to prevent “profane [a word with religious overtones] language directed at some attractive female walking through town.” He didn’t say which member of the force will decide which females are attractive and thus deserving of protection or what official action he would take if he heard someone saying something profane to a female he finds unattractive.

What they’ve enacted in Middleborough sounds ridiculous. But it’s more than that. It’s dangerous. Oh, and I forgot to mention that children as young as 7 are eligible to be cited under Gates’s rule. He didn’t say what would happen if a kid and his mom and dad refuse to pay the fine.