Friday, September 28, 2012


 On October 30, 2012, the doors will close and Fresh Start will cease to exist.  The Walnut Creek charity's name says it all.  Its purpose was to offer a Fresh Start to those on the margins of the richest nation in the world.  It is a testament, a proof, of the power of one person to make a difference and it is a sad day for the Bay Area.

     Susan Prather was the force behind Fresh Start.  What an extraordinary woman she was.  Charismatic, passionate, articulate, smart and clever.  She was offended by a society where the homeless and poor are invisible and where care is defined by warehousing them in de-personalized and exploitive conditions.  She coined the term "poverty pimp" applying it to the thousands of people in this country who earned a nice living off of the troubles of others, and whose salaries came from dollars intended to aid those who needed the help the most.  Her outrage, at the reality in which $9 out of $10 given to help the poor and homeless never reached them, knew no bounds.

     I met Susan through Greg Edmonds.  She was a master at public relations.  Politicians and bureaucrats in the East Bay came to fear and loathe her.  Some also came to admire her.  She embarrassed and shamed them and shone a light on all the dark places where they would hide while implementing policies which left people on the streets with no hope.  She would call with a good story and quote.  She did her homework.  Boards of supervisors and social service agencies hated to get a call, "...Hi, I'm calling from KGO to check the facts on an issue of concern to Susan Prather."  You could hear the shudder at the other end of the line.

     Susan was fearless.  For years she prowled the streets of the "iron triangle" in Richmond late at night.  These are some of the most dangerous, violent, murderous streets in America, and yet she walked them with impunity.  She helped those in need to find shelter and a meal or rehabilitation.  She peddled hope.

     I got a call one day, in the newsroom, from a man who identified himself as a Vietnam vet who was at the end of his rope.  He was homeless, penniless and desperate.  Suicide seemed to be his best option.  I asked if he would promise not to do anything for a short time.  I got a number to reach him.  I called Susan. I went back to whatever I was doing.  Several weeks later, I got another call.  It was the same man.  However, now he had gotten medication...he was connected to the V.A. and was getting benefits.  He was even living in a small apartment.  He was no longer suicidal and had hope and it was all because of Susan.

     One night, on the air, Susan called me.  She needed help.  A clinic in East Richmond had lost its only volunteer doctor and would have to close.  Could I help?  Would I help?  Someone has to keep this vital clinic open.  In the middle of some topic, we just stopped and she made her plea for doctors and nurses to volunteer.  She called back the next night to announce 4 docs and a couple of nurses had contacted her.  The clinic would remain open due to the generosity of KGO listeners. (with a gentle nudge by Susan)  It was the start of a wonderful pattern we would repeat over and over again over the next several years.

     Susan started Fresh Start in 1998, in Richmond, under the auspices of the Grey Panthers.  She moved to the Fellowship House at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek in 1999.  With the help of volunteers she created a warm, inviting, caring environment where the least of those in the area could drop in and be welcomed.  They could wash their clothes. (She talked a local business into donating a commercial washer and dryer)  They could get packages of clean underwear.  (Ward's drawers)  They could get a meal and they could take advantage of her genius with bureaucracy.  She would find programs and grants and ways in which clients were entitled to benefits and connect the two sides.  She found shelter for families and sometimes she just provided a hug and the assurance someone cared.

     The Thanksgiving Charity drive had been in existence for a number of years and it was extraordinarily successful.  Each year thousands of people contributed to help 3 Bay Area charities working with the poor and homeless.  One day, perhaps a moment of inspiration from the Holy Spirit, it hit me Fresh Start needed to be a part of this campaign.  Now the pie would have to be sliced into fourths.  It might mean less money for the other 3 charities, but it was so the right thing to do.

     Like the loaves and fishes, not only did it not result in less money, the generosity of listeners increased exponentially.  Donations increased so much each charity got more than it was getting before.  In the last year of my career, Fresh Start was given $125,200.  (This was my only victory over the Feds...They were going to indict me in October of 2008.  I had my lawyer threaten the Justice Department.  If they did that, and I was fired as would be expected, I would publically call them out and accuse them of being so anxious to get me, they cost those charities hundreds of thousands of dollars.  They blinked.  They waited until December, when the drive was over, to come after me.)

     God, I loved being associated with Susan.  I loved the generosity of so many strangers who helped her minister to the least of her brethren.  She was so cool and Fresh Start was the bomb.  Now it is over.

     I want a villain.  I want to blame someone.  I want to attack Cumulus for blowing up KGO and ending the Cureathon, (over $1 million a year raised for Leukemia research), and the Thanksgiving Charity Drive, ($5 million raised over 18 years).  I want to scream about faceless, gutless, immoral corporate stooges throwing Fresh Start to the wolves.  Oh, it would feel so righteous.

     However, the real villain in this piece is yours truly.  Had I cared more about Susan and her ministry...had I not suffered from the sin of pride...had I appreciated all she and the other charities were doing...had I loved her and my family and their work like I said I did...I would not have made choices which broke the law, embarrassed and saddened Susan, hurt my family and friends and I would have stayed on the air still pleading and cajoling listeners to pony up.

     The closing of Fresh Start is a tragedy which resulted from corporate suits, who have no moral compass and no community ties, and from an egotistical, judgmental, jealous and ungrateful man who had turned a deaf ear to the Spirit and who lost sight of everything Susan Prather stood for.

     I know exactly what Susan would say about someone running for president who doesn't care for half of the people because they are getting government help and are needy.  She would be merciless.  I also know how much I let her down.  Fresh Start should be able to continue without Susan because we are called by the Gospel to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit prisoners and heal the sick understanding when we do it for them, we do it for Jesus and thus God.  God bless Bill Lunghi, Robin Lunghi, Susan Prather Lunghi...for a brief shining moment it was glorious and redemptive.

Friday, September 21, 2012


 Have you heard about it?  It's all over the news.  It's a disaster waiting to happen and storm flags have been raised.  Its warnings are getting more and more intense and the language is virtually biblical.  It could be the end of the world if some are to be believed.  It has produced a bumper crop of Chicken Little's convinced the sky is falling.  What is this cataclysm which we must avoid at all costs?  What is this threat to all we hold dear in this nation?

     If nothing is done to stop it, a fiscal "Armageddon" will befall this country on Dec. 31, 2012.  On that date, the massive tax cuts passed by George Bush, cuts which dropped rates to levels not seen since the 50's, will end and rates will rise back to the levels they were when Bill Clinton was president.  The payroll tax cut will also end and across the board cuts will occur throughout the federal budget including the War Department.  This "sequestration" of funds was part of the bi-partisan deal to raise the debt ceiling.  (Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan supported and voted for the deal.)

     Moody's Investment Services says it could downgrade the nation's credit rating if this comes to pass.  (This is a strange turn of events because Moody's last downgrade was because the U.S. wasn't cutting spending and dealing with an out of control fiscal emergency.  Now they are going to cut it because the U.S. is cutting too much?)  Economists tell us if this plan is allowed to go into effect, economic growth will suffer.  As much as 1% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) could be lost if the tax cuts and sequestration are allowed to occur.  We are told this is a cliff which we must avoid at all costs.  It's the Y2K fear all over again, but worse.  We must do everything we can to avoid this economic black hole.  Are you scared yet?

     Would it be heresy to suggest we do nothing and let all of this come to pass?  Would it be sheer lunacy to propose this could be a good thing in disguise...that the results could be the best thing to happen to Washington and Congress, the White House and us?  If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, billions of dollars in revenue will flow into the treasury.  Tax rates under Bill Clinton were so odious and oppressive over 20 million jobs were created, we had 8 years of prosperity and a budget surplus when he left office.  Sounds horrible to me.  The cut in the payroll tax was a stimulant for the economy, but it threatens the fiscal health of Social Security and it too needs to be restored.  Sequestration would result in across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending including the budget for the War Department.  This is a budget which has seen massive increases over the last 10-15 years and the cuts proposed wouldn't even bring the department's budget back to Clinton era levels.  We spend more on the military than all other nations on earth combined.

     What would January 1, 2013 look like if we dove off this cliff headfirst?  First, it wouldn't matter if Congress stays deadlocked for four years after this date.  It wouldn't matter if Democrats and Republicans couldn't agree on a thing.  The obstructionist tactics of Boehner, Cantor and McConnell would be rendered impotent because massive deficit reforms would be in place.  Government would be automatically smaller.  Revenue into the treasury would explode.  The deficit, which everyone agrees must be addressed, would be reduced and the trend lines would continue a downward curve.  Republican arguments about gutting Medicare and Medicaid would evaporate, as deficit projections would decline.  Congress could fail to pass any appropriation bills, and the nation's fiscal health would still improve.

     Yes, economic growth might slow, but it would still grow and the major obstacle to future growth, the deficit and debt, would have been addressed in a serious manner.  In fact, if Congress could not agree on anything, the benefits of the tax increases and spending cuts would grow faster and faster as economic growth picks up.

     The reality is Congress would start to debate ways to cut some taxes and hold hearings on how to spend the increased sums flowing into government coffers.  There would be no motivation to obstruct.  Just the opposite would happen.  The motivation now would be to cooperate.  Refusing to work with President Obama would not do Republicans any good.  Democrats would not have any reason to find bi-partisan solutions to economic problems.  Republicans would be looking for ways to cut taxes while Democrats would be proposing spending projects for infrastructure and education and the two would meet in the middle.

     Letting fiscal "Armageddon" happen...jumping off that cliff would make it easier to find more deficit reductions.  The curve wouldn't have to be so steep; the cuts wouldn't have to be so radical and deep.

     I am here to tell you this is a win/win proposition.  It scares the hell out of politicians because it doesn't require them to "do" anything, which they are very good at, and yet the nation benefits.  A war machine which has been on meth for far too many years will have to realistically prioritize and won't be able to demand such a large piece of the fiscal pie.  It's so beautiful.  The military budget is cut and Congress doesn't have to "do" a thing but watch.  The more you look at this, the less crazy it gets and that's the reason Washington can't let it happen.

     We need to call, write, text or email members of Congress and just use one word...JUMP.  We need to let the laws of unintended consequences take over.  This "situation" was never supposed to really happen.  Yet, if it does, this nation's fiscal foundations will be in better shape...the political language of obstructionism will be eliminated...Congress will have no excuse or motivation anymore to avoid working and become part of the solution instead of the problem.  (This year Congress did not pass even one of the 13 appropriation bills necessary to run the country.)

     It is counterintuitive to go and run and jump off a cliff with the belief it will benefit you.  In this case we need to "jump" and radically change how Washington does business.  I love it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

1% vs. 47%

As Mitt Romney tried to reboot, reset, restart his campaign this week, he did something he hasn't done since he announced his intention to run for the presidency....he committed truth.  It is an unforgiveable, unpardonable sin because the entire Republican strategy has been to "not" be Barack Obama.  They key component of that strategy is "not" to say anything specific...not offer alternative policy...not explain the Romney/Ryan fiscal policies and just remain "not" being Obama.  The goal was to run against the economy and avoid letting this be an election of choice between two competing visions.  That was the intention....up until now.

     In front of folks who paid $50,000 a plate, Romney told the truth.  He is now paying the price.  Romney announced there were 47% of the American people who were never going to vote for him and would cast their ballots for Obama.  True.  He said they look to government to help them navigate an economy which ate up their savings, home equity, jobs and hope.  True.  He said he,"...doesn't worry about these people."  True.  He reminded his audience many of these people don't pay income taxes.  True.  He promised to cut many of the tax breaks for the working poor and middle class to reduce the size of government.  True.  If what he said was true, why is he taking so much heat?

     The last thing regressive Republicans want is an honest debate about the direction of this country.  Truth is their kryptonite.  They don't want to admit their real agenda because they know the votes of the 1% cannot take them to the White House.  Romney lifted the curtain to reveal what the wizard is really up to and now his party is scattering like roaches when the light's turned on.

     The remarks Romney made which are really killing him came after the above.  He claimed this pro-Obama, government dependent 47% saw themselves as victims,  (this is bad for some reason), and they refuse to take personal responsibility for their lives.  These greedy, ungrateful, leaches think they have a right to food, health care, shelter, clothes and he is here to tell America he won't let that happen.  He won't let the 1%'s taxes go up to support these cretins.  He won't allow them to "redistribute" wealth from the 1% to the 47%.  He will keep the great unwashed in their place by cutting everything from food stamps to Medicare to Medicaid.  He will keep them from "burdening" industry with clean water and clean air regulations and Wall Street with demands for reform and transparency because they feel "entitled" to breathe clean air, drink clean water and not be on the hook to bail out the thieves who occupy Wall Street.

     Romney seems offended by Americans who feel victimized.  How could anyone come to such a conclusion?  The same Americans who were lied to and stampeded into two wars are the same middle class and working poor who saw trillions (with a T) of their tax dollars used to bail out banks and Wall Street, and watched as Congress failed to help them stay in their homes or help with the financial burden of educating their children.  As tuition skyrockets in state schools and the U.C. system, there is no money to help.  There is plenty of money for big business and industry, the Dow is rocking and corporate profits are rolling, but the middle class has lost 10 years of financial gain and Romney says they are greedy and feeling entitled.  How could any reasonable person conclude the game is rigged and not in the favor of the 47%?

     This is the same Romney; bemoaning the fact many Americans pay no income taxes, who refuses to release his tax returns to show he isn't one of them.  This is the same Romney who has used Swiss bank accounts and accounts in the Grand Caymans and Bermuda to reduce, if not eliminate, his tax burden on millions in income.  This is the same Romney who wants to cut tax rates 20%, on top of the Bush tax cuts he would make permanent, for the 1% without explaining how he would pay for this grand gesture.  This is the same Romney who would have to raise taxes on the middle class and cut programs for the 47% shredding the social safety net they need at the moment. (how could they feel victimized?)

     Of the 47% cited by Romney, 18% pay no income or payroll taxes and most of them are elderly receiving Social Security benefits which they did pay taxes on most of their lives.  Another large group are children and of those who didn't pay income taxes, almost 25% paid payroll taxes.  This means they are working, but not making enough to warrant taxes or they benefit from the earned income tax credit which kicks in for working Americans earning less than $28,000 a year. (something Romney/Ryan promise to eliminate)

     In full damage and spin control, Republicans say bring on the debate.  This election should be about two different visions for America.  Obama envisions an America where college is affordable... students aren't burdened with so much debt it follows them for the rest of their care is available for everyone...the roll of government is to make sure the vast wealth created by capitalism doesn't just accrue to the 1%, but raises all boats.  Romney/Ryan see a nation where its survival of the fittest (thank you Ayn Rand)...caveat emptor (are the food and drugs we ingest safe or not?)...a nation where the federal government is weak, regulations rolled back, industry given free rein and wealth goes to the wealthy.  They yearn for a return to the Gilded Age (look it up), of Morgan, Carnegie, Rockefeller and Harriman when there was no income tax, no inheritance tax, no payroll tax, no strong federal government.  They strive for a world with no F.D.A. or S.E.C.  A world where what is good for Wall Street is good for America.   This is what this election should be about according to the Republicans, well so be it.  Because of Romney's slip, their real agenda is on the table.  They don't care about the
worst off in America (Romney's words).  They resent all these handouts.  They object to all these programs for people who won't take responsibility for the fact they are poor and struggling.

     Obama has to welcome this debate.  Finally the true parameters of this election have been revealed.  Romney/Ryan aren't trying to grow the economic pie.  They aren't seeking the White House to turn the economy around for average Americans.  (They don't care about them according to Romney)  They are running, in George Bush's words, for the haves and the have mores.

     Former Texas Governor, Ann Richards once commented George Bush was born on third but thought he hit a triple.  Romney's comments show a disdain and disrespect for working and middle class Americans which is breathtaking in its scope.  He has defined the last 2 months of this campaign as about two visions.   BRING IT ON !!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


The Lion of the Left has three new blogs!  Check it out!

 In a blatant and dishonorable maneuver, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has inserted himself into the presidential race.  Popping off to reporters, Netanyahu blasted President Obama, for refusing to approve triggers which, if set off, would start a war with Iran.  The Israeli leader wants the United States to draw "red lines" in the sand...limits on Iran which, if exceeded, would green light a military attack.  What is not clear is whether the red lines would trigger an attack by the U.S. or Israel or both.  (I suspect Netanyahu wants red lines so the U.S. would be forced to attack Iran to save face.  There is ample precedent for him to believe this is possible.  The most recent example is from Bush '43 who said the U.S. had to attack Iraq because we said we would and we cannot afford to lose face in that region of the world.)

     Mitt Romney has already genuflected to Netanyahu and Israel.  On a recent trip, he clearly stated he would use military force against Iran to back Israel's play.  Netanyahu is trying to force President Obama into a similar commitment.  He is trying to put political pressure on Obama so he will abandon diplomacy and economic sanctions and agree to an ultimatum to Iran that if it crosses one of these lines it will lead to war.  The calculation is if Obama waffles or equivocates about Iran, it will confirm Romney's accusation he is no friend of Israel and Jewish voters will switch to Romney in November.  Netanyahu should be ashamed of himself.  Romney isn't reflective enough to think about what such a commitment to Israel would entail or cost in terms of resources, treasure and blood.

     As of now, Obama and his European allies have told Israel to stand down.  They have clearly expressed the belief there is still time for sanctions to work and Iran to change its policies.  If Obama is re-elected, he will be even less inclined to get militarily involved in Iran and Netanyahu will have no leverage over him.  He is trying to blackmail Obama into sacrificing his sanctions on the altar of political expediency.

     Romney has committed himself to military responses all over the world.  (It’s why he wants to increase the military budget by trillions of dollars)  He supports attacks on Iran.  He wants military involvement in Syria.  He has declared Russia to be our greatest enemy and he says he will go after China too.  Netanyahu knows this...knows Romney will never have a chapter in Profiles in Courage... and now he is willing to use the lives of young American soldiers as part of an extortion plot to force Obama to go along.

     The puzzling part of Netanyahu’s position is he has not articulated what these lines or limits should be.  What ultimatums should the U.S. impose on Iran?  Should we go to war unless Iran allows international inspectors to enter the country?  What happens if they don't find a smoking gun?  (In Iraq, they didn't find anything yet we went to war anyway to show we meant business)  Should Iran have to shut down all nuclear research?  How would we know if they did?  Is Iran allowed to pursue nuclear research for peaceful purposes?  How do you know the difference?

     If Iran ignores one of our red lines, what happens next?  Do we attack from the air?  What do we attack?  Do we attempt to destroy every research facility in the country?  How many casualties will we have to endure?  Since experts say such an attack will only set back Iran's timetable, are we going to put boots on the ground to insure Iranian compliance with our red lines?  If we do attack, what is the definition of victory?  When do we stop the carnage?  If Hezbollah launches attacks on Israel from Lebanon, do we retaliate there as well?  What are the economic consequences of an attack on Iran?  What happens to the price of a gallon of gasoline?  Can Iran shut down the straights of Hormuz?  Will Iran use surrogates to commit acts of terrorism against "soft" American targets?  What do we do then?  Do you feel that sucking motion as Netanyahu draws us in deeper and deeper?

     Obama has refused to meet with Netanyahu in New York.  Good!  He should hold firm on that decision.  Netanyahu has inserted himself into the domestic politics of this country and he should pay a price.  No president, except maybe Romney and Bush, would allow him or herself to be stampeded into actions detrimental to the nation's interests.  No president can afford to let the world think he can be threatened with no consequences.  No president should ever make a decision to go to war under duress.  No president can ever put the needs or desires of a foreign power ahead of the interests of the American people.

     Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons.  Israel has refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty while Iran is a signatory.  Israel says Iran getting a nuclear weapon is a direct threat to its security, and yet no rogue nation has ever acquired and then used a nuclear weapon.  Not even the whack-jobs in North Korea have threatened to use one against the South.

     I don't like Obama's policy in Afghanistan.  We should come home now.  However, he has been more nuanced in his policies toward the Arab Spring nations.  He came up with a successful way to support the liberation of Libya with minimal American military involvement.  He has refused to get America more involved in the civil war in Syria and his diplomatic approach to Iran is still our best chance to resolving this problem.  His reluctance to use force is good for this nation.  Romney's commitment to use force first is quite scary.

     As for Netanyahu...Obama should tell him to butt out....Congress should tell him to shut up...American Jews should tell him they are Americans first and they will not tolerate a foreign leader inserting himself into out political contests...the American people should tell Romney to grow up, get a spine, show some testicular fortitude and stop pandering to Israel, and anyone else who might vote for him, in the hope the Jewish vote will abandon Obama and embrace him.

     The majority of Israelis do not support an attack on Iran without American approval.  Netanyahu is trying to extort such approval at the cost of American lives and treasure.  He should fail.  He will fail if Obama is re-elected.  If Romney wins, your children will not be safe from whatever direction the wind blows.


Did you happen to catch Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan on the Sunday news shows?  It was an extraordinary performance.  On CBS, Ryan looked like a deer caught in headlights and Romney looked dyspeptic.  What was it that was upsetting their stomachs?  They were asked for specific answers to specific questions...oh my!

     The Romney/Ryan budget would cut taxes another 20% on top of the Bush tax cuts, which they would make permanent.  They would increase military spending by more than one trillion tax dollars.  Over ten years, this would cost the American treasury over $10 trillion.  At the same time, Romney/Ryan promise to reduce government spending to about 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reduce the deficit and balance their budgets.  (If this sounds familiar it's because both Ronald Reagan and Bush '43 promised to do the same thing.  Reagan ended up increasing taxes 8 times during his time in office including the largest tax increase in history, and both Reagan and Bush exploded the national debt and deficit.)

     On CBS, Ryan was asked how they would pay for all this tax cutting and increased spending and he promised to close tax loopholes which would generate enough savings to more than pay for their profligacy.  You didn't need to be a highly paid anchor to ask the next question.  "Congressman Ryan, which specific loopholes would you close?"  Ryan stared into the camera as if in a stupor.  With wide eyes he sputtered, offered generalities, and promised there were plenty of offending exemptions from which to choose.  With a look of relief he stopped only to face the same question again.  "Can you give us some specifics?"  Ryan did not offer a single one.  Here was his chance to really hit Obama...his chance to show his and Romney's bonafides...his chance to show his legendary command of all things budget related...his chance to show they are serious about balancing the budget and instead he had nothing, bupkis, nada, zip, zilch to offer.  Later in the program, Romney was asked the same question and the anchor got the same response.  The best Romney could offer is to say when he is president, "...everything will be on the table."

     In his speech to the Democratic convention in North Carolina, Bill Clinton gave the sound bite that could dominate the last two months of this campaign.  He announced this whole contest is "...about arithmetic."  He then attacked the Romney/Ryan budget as not adding up.  He is right.  Ironically, Bush '41, who called Reagan's version of this fairy tale "voodoo economics", and Al Gore, who said Bush '41's numbers "...didn't add up", were both right and yet Reagan and Bush were elected and, surprise, surprise, it was all true.

     The Tax Policy Institute has issued a report which analyzes the Romney/Ryan approach and concludes there are not enough loopholes to close to pay for the tax cuts and increased military spending.  The report goes further and says the only way Romney/Ryan can pay for their proposals, reduce the deficit and balance the budget, is to raise taxes on the middle class by an average of over $3,000 per family.  Romney and Ryan feigned outrage at the report, but when asked to refute it with specifics, they declined.

     This warmed over trickle down economics has never added up and never will.  Ryan knows this.  It's the reason why his budget proposal, which Romney has endorsed, says he would gut everything from food stamps to job-training funds, from funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to Medicaid.  It's the reason he champions cutting money from the budget for roads and bridges and the entire national infrastructure.  It's the driving force behind his agreement to cut Pell grants for middle class kids who want to afford to go to college and the earned income tax credit that helps people who work, but are still poor.

     Romney and Ryan will never answer questions with specifics.  They know to do so would be to reveal the emperor has no clothes.  They are going to try to sneak into the White House, like Reagan and Bush, hoping the American people don't read any of their proposals or actually demand specifics before they vote.

     You can do the numbers yourself.  Don't take my word for it.  Add up the tax cuts and the military increases and then look at the basic exemptions in the tax code, like mortgage interest or charitable deductions, and add up the numbers.  Clinton is absolutely correct.  The deafening silence from Romney/Ryan when asked for any particulars will tell you all you need to know to confirm it is all about arithmetic and Romney and Ryan are on the wrong side of the equation.

     So what do we do now?


Jesus was fond of calling the Pharisees hypocrites.  He called them "whitened sepulchers", bright on the outside but dead on the inside.  He would get so agitated because they would claim to be holy and righteous, but were really venal and bereft of any real substance.  They were always more concerned with appearance than they were with reality.

     An American ambassador is killed in Libya, along with three staffers, and our embassy in Egypt is invaded.  All of this caused by an insulting video about Islam posted on YouTube.  The embassy in Egypt initially issued a respond criticizing those who would post such a thing knowing how it would be received.  It was the wrong initial response and the White House corrected the mistake quickly.

     Enter Romney the Pharisee.  Seeking an opening to criticize Obama's foreign policy, Romney jumps all over the initial response and accuses Obama of apologizing to the invaders.  When informed of the White House clarification, Romney then accuses Obama of sending "mixed messages" and attacks the President for a non-focused foreign policy and further criticizes him of fumbling the crisis in Syria, Egypt, Iran, and for not having a single American make it to the finals of the U.S. Open this year.  (ok, the last one was mine)

     None of this is new.  For months Romney has accused the President of going abroad and "apologizing" for America's shortcomings.  Despite a steady drumbeat of pushback from the media, and despite news organization's analysis showing Obama has never apologized to anyone, Romney continues to foist this canard on the American electorate hoping for traction.  It hasn't happened so Romney tried it again by stepping on the dead bodies of innocent Americans to try to score some political points.

     In a hastily called news conference, Romney defended his foreign policy chops and said his policy as President would be based on three legs.  His priorities would be clear and transparent.  He would make sure American take a lead role in preventing an Arab Spring from morphing into and Arab Winter, and when necessary he would use overwhelming military force...with a clear mission...a clear exit strategy...a clear rationale for the American people.  This was Romney the Pharisee at his best.

     Romney was an ardent and vocal supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Both wars violated the "Romney" doctrine.  There was no exit strategy in either and Romney has even criticized Obama for getting out of Iraq and announcing he would withdraw American forces from Afghanistan in 2014.  When asked how he would handle Afghanistan and Iraq and whether he would continue an American presence, Romney the Pharisee refuses to answer.  Overwhelming military force was not used in either war, and both required "surges" to try and achieve some form of victory.  Neither war ever had a definition of victory which had any relation to the situation on the ground.  Romney the Pharisee never objected.

     Romney is most vocal in his criticism of Obama's handling of Iran.  He made a trip to Israel and essentially turned over the keys to the White House, and American foreign policy, to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Romney the Pharisee says he will take America to war with Iran if Israel is threatened.  Why would he go to war?  What would a war accomplish?  How long would the war last?  How many American troops would be needed and how many would die?  What would be the definition of victory?  When asked any of these questions, questions taken directly from his foreign policy three-legged stool, Romney the Pharisee refuses to answer simply saying wait until after he is elected for answers.

    Romney wants to get militarily involved in Syria.  Why?  What would be the mission?  How long would it last?  What would be the size of the "overwhelming" force?  How would you get out?  Who do you aid?  Who do you arm?  How do you avoid arming Al Qaida?  Romney the Pharisee offers no answers.

     A Romney budget would increase military spending by a couple of trillion dollars, but Romney the Pharisee refuses to say how he would pay for these increases.  Romney say our biggest enemy is Russia, yet offers no reasons for this conclusion or any light on how he would deal with such an enemy in a manner different than President Obama.  Perhaps what is most troubling, and proof of the Pharisaical nature of the man, Romney employs as his foreign policy advisors, the same architects of the disasters which were Iraq and Afghanistan.  The same neo-cons who sold the lies to the American people and were responsible for the deaths and injury of millions, are now whispering in Romney's ear.

     There may be one way to deal with Romney the Pharisee.  The American people should insist they will back a President Romney and his military adventurism...they will get behind the toady for Israel...they will rally to the sides of the Napoleon of the Great Salt Lake if, and only if, the first one into combat...the first one to fly a mission...the first one to fight in the straights of Hormuz, is one of his five sons.  (a doff of the hat to Peter B. Collins for the idea)

     It should offend your sensibilities to watch Romney nit-pick about a statement out of the American embassy in Egypt at a time when Americans are dying and offer nothing of substance in response.  Romney's approach to foreign policy is the same as his approach on the economy.  Jesus would have understood him perfectly.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Message from The Lion of the Left...

Hello Lion of the Left fans!  Our Lion has expressed that he would love it if everyone would feel free to Twitter, Facebook, Google-Plus, Email, or Blog his posts to others who might be interested.  These link buttons are at the bottom of the blog posting.  Everyone has permission to post these blogs anywhere they wish.  The Lion appreciates your comments and reads them regularly.  Comments are reviewed before posting to eliminate foul-mouthed trolls; so it may take a day or two before your comment is posted.  Let's keep communicating with The Lion of the Left! - Girl Friday-

Friday, September 7, 2012


  I was listening to James Carville commenting on the Romney candidacy and he provided a succinct and pithy summary of what you get with Romney.  "...with Romney you get Bush's economics, Cheney's foreign policy and Santorum's social issues."  His insight is excellent and it provides a shorthand way of talking about Romney for those of your friends considering possibly voting for him.

     Romney is on record as promising to cut taxes again for the top 1% and he would make permanent the Bush tax cuts.  Under Romney, the top 1% would receive a tax cut over $250,000.  The last time this was tried, under Bush '43, the deficit exploded, national debt rocketed into the stratosphere and the gap between the uber-rich and the other 99% of Americans widened faster than Chris Christie's waistline.  Romney's plan would cost the national treasury $10 trillion over 10 years.  He says he would pay for it by closing tax loopholes.  However, the Tax Institute issued a report recently laying out the case that even if Romney closed every loophole, it wouldn't make up for the lost revenue to the treasury.  The only way Romney could balance his proposal would be to raise taxes on the middle class.  Bush proposed privatizing Social Security and Medicare, as does Paul Ryan.  Romney has embraced this approach.  Your social security payout would be based on how well Wall Street manages your money. (really...can you imagine what your account would look like today if you had to retire?)  Romney would give you a voucher for Medicare and you would have to make up the difference if the voucher didn't cover your insurance premium.  Like Bush, Romney wants to cut corporate income taxes.  He claims they are the second highest in the world.  Strange, though, when you factor in all the loopholes and exceptions, most big U.S. corporations don't pay any taxes at all and the corporate tax, in reality, is the second lowest in the world.  Once again, Romney offers no specifics for how he would pay for all the lost revenue to the treasury.  (wink, wink, nod, nod, we know exactly what he would do)

     Bush inherited a budget surplus and quickly cut taxes and increased military spending wiping it out.  Romney promises the same plan.  Cheney and the neo-cons advocated a foreign policy of using military force to democratize nations in the Middle East.  Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bolton were chomping at the bit to attack Iraq the moment Bush took power.  They desperately wanted to help eliminate an enemy of Israel.  In 1992, the neo-cons, in conjunction with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, cooked up a plan to conquer Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein.  (Hussein had been an active supporter of the families of Palestinian suicide bombers)  Bush '41 rejected the plan saying Saddam wasn't worth an additional American life, and also asking who would replace him once he was gone?  Bill Clinton also rejected the same plan.  Bush, at Cheney's urging, wholeheartedly jumped in.  September 11, 2001 gave him the chance to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.  He took it.  He also refused to pay for it.  We know now, (some of us knew then), this foreign policy was a failure and was based on lies built on lies.  We know now, they borrowed the money to pay for these wars. (much of it from the nation Romney calls one of our biggest enemies...China)  We know now, Afghanistan is a basket case and Iraq is now an ally of Iran.  We know now, the Taliban and Al Qaida regrouped and grew stronger and more diverse during this time.  Now, Romney wants to get militarily involved in Syria and says he is willing to go to war with Iran.  (once again doing the bidding of Netanyahu and Israel)  He even employs the same neo-cons on his foreign policy team.

     President Obama got us out of Iraq and will have us out of Afghanistan by 2014.  (I wish it were sooner)  Obama says arming the Syrian resistance is problematic because of the Sunni influence and presence of Al Qaeda among the resistance.  (shades of the mujahidin in Afghanistan)  Obama's continually tightening the economic sanctions against Iran.  He has almost worldwide support for his approach.  (including Arab countries).  He understands there can be no conventional war with Iran.  Our military is broken and it would take over 500,000 soldiers to try to take on Iran with little guarantee of success.  He understands an airstrike would have limited success and the law of unintended consequences could prove a disaster to oil prices and to Israel and its allies.  However, Romney..channeling Cheney...ignores all of this and rattles his sword.  Could the American people be stampeded again?

     The Republican platform has a plank that outlaws abortion in all cases with no exceptions.  It opposes gay marriage and even calls for an end to civil unions.  Romney has endorsed immigration laws like the ones in Arizona and Alabama which require Americans to "carry their papers" to prove to cops they are here legally.  He sides with the Catholic Church in refusing to make contraceptive coverage available through health insurance to employees in schools, hospitals and social service agencies.  He supports the church's position any Catholic businessperson should be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from an employee for religious reasons.  He opposes equal pay legislation.  He would prohibit women from fighting in combat and gays from being in the military at all.  If all of this sounds familiar, it should.  It was the social issues center of Santorum's run for the Republican nomination.

     No Republican mentions George Bush or Dick Cheney by name.  At the recent Republican convention, they were like ghosts or Beetlejuice with party members afraid to invoke those names lest they might actually appear before the TV cameras for all to see.  The Bush/Cheney years were an unmitigated disaster for this nation in terms of fiscal and foreign policy.  Romney and Ryan never mention them on the stump.  Santorum was relegated to a minor speech no one saw or heard.  They tried to hide him as much as they could.  Yet, the policies and programs which Romney champions are a mix-tape of the three and a sampling of their greatest hits.  The problem is the American middle class, young American soldiers and American women are the ones who will be "hit" the worst if Romney proceeds to the White House.

     No matter what you think of Obama, you will not get a replay of Bush, Cheney and Santorum if he is re-elected.  You will not see policies to expand the wealth of the 1% at the expense of the 99% nor will women have to fear their government invading their bodies and their freedom.  When someone asks you why Romney spells disaster for our future, just say Bush, Cheney and Santorum.  It's easy to remember and even easier to see how their failed past policies would fail again only this time with worse results for this nation than the first time around.  What was it Einstein said about insanity?