Friday, February 26, 2010

President Obama's "Dog and Pony Show"?

My favorite Republican, Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and former U.S. Maryland senatorial candidate (see links to my previous blog posts on Mr. Steele through the title above) declared yesterday morning on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown" that President Barack Obama should have held his "dog and pony show"--the gathering yesterday at Blair House to bring together Congressional leaders of both parties--a whole year ago, when the Congressional Democratics began their effort to craft national health care reform legislation.

Specifically, Mr. Steele stated:

"This whole dog and pony show that we're about to witness today is something that should have taken place a year ago, when the administration first came in last February and laid out its agenda for health care. This is how you should have started it - bipartisan, public forum, CSPAN, your cameras rolling to capture this and to capture, most importantly, what the American people want. And right now, they want us to start over, and I think we should."

Of course, given Mr. Steele's scathing and dismissive characterization of the President's effort to enable bipartisanship on health care as "this whole dog and pony show," presumably the Republican national chairman would have thought such an event a year ago would have been equally of little consequence.

Reminded by "Daily Rundown" hosts Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie that President Barack Obama did indeed convene a similar forum on March 5 of last year in Baltimore, an "Oh" moment occurred for Steele showing how well briefed he was (an African-American Sarah Palin?). Todd stated, "And it wasn't just the legislative leaders. They brought in folks from the industry as well. And that one was televised. So. . . does that one not count? I'm just curious."

Steele replied lamely, "Well, apparently it didn't. Because we don't have health care. And we don't have reform like everyone is talking about."

The RNC Chairman was also asked why Republicans had not tried to enact health care during the eight years that Republicans had the majority under President George W. Bush. Well, replied Steele we had things like the Iraq War to worry about.

Oh, again.

Yes, indeed, if Bush had not led us into the ruinously expensive Iraq War that has not made America any safer, we might have the resources for things such as affordable health care that Americans need!

Dreaming of Spring!!!!!

Blessed Are The Lawnmakers
(Dedicated to Senator Grassley of Iowa)

Every politician on the stump
(tree stump, that is) promises
much. They speak of high ideals,
gaze toward the purple horizon
and survey the lordly forest.

When they reach the Capitol
in Washington, they mutate
into Lawnmakers: bugs lost
among the blades of grass
unable to see the trees.

And Baseball season. . . . and Poetry, perhaps?

My Belated Confession

I admit it -- I cheated: I took steroids
-- they helped me to win all those awards,
the Pushcart, the Pulitzer, and the Nobel
-- even if it's ignoble of me to admit it.

Although I claimed that I took no stimulants
(here, I dab my eye) I've let down my family,
all my fans and all aspiring poets who believe
they can reach the pinnacle without a fix.

I confess, I doped myself up real fine. . .
I deserve to be stripped of everything.
For my success, anonymity I would trade.

My megalomaniac malice was incontestible,
my artful duplicity all too contemptible:
I fully deserve the world's tirade.

Christopher T. George

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Health Care for All? Dream On. . . .

This Thursday, in the health care showdown. . . .

Republican leader John Boehner
and President Obama
will both show us what they have. ;)

Is it too much to hope that the American public will get the health care system that it needs and deserves? Well, probably not, because I think President Barack Obama made a rookie mistake in his first year of office in wishing for health care and handed the idea over to the Democratic leadership in Congress, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California on the House side and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada on the Senate side.

Obama should have led from the beginning instead of letting the Congressional Democrats do it because it led to all the sweetheart deals and wrangling that has characterized the health care debate over the past year and led to the mess we are in today.

Obama and the Democrats, moreover, did not do enough to defuse the charges of the vested interests that passage of health care would be bad for the country, would put us further in debt and lead to such things as "death panels" for Grandma.

Now in a televised meeting between the Democrats and Republicans at the Blair House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Obama will try to fix the impasse that his earlier lack of leadership has created.

As has been widely reported among the pundits, the Republicans have largely become the "Party of No" with some right wing commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and even certain conservative politicians as well openly saying they wish Obama will fail.

This is hardly a recipe for passage of health care that will provide coverage to the some 45 million Americans who are not covered, that will help lower skyrocketing premiums or ensure health care for those with pre-existing conditions. It does not look good, Playmates.

There was a Prez named Obama
who couldn't be dumber
to wish for health care
while foes yell "Don't you dare!
We would rather be sick Plumbers!"

When Obama took office, a few commentators predicted that he could be the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt, getting us out of a recession almost as bad as the Depression of the 1930's and finally passing landmark health care in a long-awaited and much-needed reform that could be likened to President Roosevelt's passage of Social Security or President Lyndon B. Johnson's passage of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960's. A new New Deal like the one FDR gave the American people or a new Great Society similar to the one insituted by LBJ.

I do believe that with the Recovery Program instituted a year ago, Obama and his team saved this country from a worse recession, although Republican critics have carped at the cost and some Republican lawmakers have even refused "stimulus money" for their states or districts. As with the health care discussion, the wimpy Democrats lost the debate and let the Republican charges stick.

As far as I can see, the only PR victory was the "Cash for Clunkers" program that helped the U.S. automobile industry by allowing the public to trade in their old cars for new ones. "Cash for Clunkers" got good publicity and was widely reported to have been successful.

"Cash for Clunkers"--a great and nifty slogan that captured the public imagination. Obama and the Democrats need to come up with similar ideas for slogans that will help them win over the American people to the idea of health care reform. Americans need to be persuaded that such reform is good for them, as of course it is. Don't let the special interests and the rich cats win. They already have their health care. What do they care about the majority of American?

Go for it, guys. For the nation's sake, for the sake of all of us. Please!!!!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Postscript written Friday morning, February 26:

President Obama's attempt to get Republicans on board to finalize health care has apparently failed. As reported on the Hill blog (see link through title), Republicans "continued to assail Obama's proposal for its cost and size, repeatedly asking the president to 'scrap the bill' and start over."

Democrats meanwhile seem prepared to pursue health care alone, through the so-called "Reconciliation Process" by which they will try to iron out the differences between the House and Senate bills and pass it in the Senate for Obama to sign.

Donna's Purple flamingoes on our apartment balcony during the big Baltimore snow, February 10, 2010!

Purple Flamingo Out in the Baltimore Snow

It's a hard hard winter in Bawlmer
we ain't used to the white stuff
but we got our purple flamingoes
out on the balcony to memorialize
the Ravens who didn't go all the way
oh Poe save us do a flip in your grave
under the big marble hunk at the corner
of Greene and Fayette, city under feets
of the white stuff and s'more on the way
hey hey hey, wail the sax, thrum the bass
purple flamingo out in the Baltimore snow
purple flamingo out in the Baltimore snow
purple flamingo out in the Baltimore snow
oooo-wee purp flamingo in Bawlmer snow

Christopher T. George

Thursday, February 04, 2010

What Was So Great About J. D. Salinger?

Let's face it, J. D. Salinger, who has just died at age 91, was a virtual one-hit wonder, known primarily for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, a well-thumbed copy of which was found famously in the pocket of convicted John Lennon assassin Mark David Chapman when the loner shot the rock star on the night of December 8, 1980. Chapman supposedly killed Lennon because he recognized in the former Beatle the same phoniness that Catcher in the Rye hero Holden Caulfield saw in the world around him.

What's the world's fascination with Salinger? Or is it a kind of Baby Boomer longing for a lost innocence, a desire to have what could not be, more literary jewels from the reclusive Salinger? An aching throb like a missing phantom limb? But Salinger was America's literary ghost long before his death, and in the nearly four decades since he last wrote for The New Yorker in mid-Sixties. He was literature's Greta Garbo. AWOL from the scene, understandably perhaps conjuring dreams among his admirers of a luminescent and glorious return like the legends that King Arthur or Elvis might one day return.

Now of course those same Salinger junkies have thoughts that there could be more great novels written by Salinger just waiting to be discovered. But couldn't it have been more that the writer realised that he had written his one great book and had nothing more left to contribute??? According to Lillian Ross, the writer once said he'd never "had the annoyance" of meeting Truman Capote.

That was a case, I suppose, of the admired superior moral values of Salinger, able to look down on the more commercially oriented Capote, a noted publicity hound. So thus did one literary legend dismiss another. Yet perhaps the real truth is that J. D. Salinger and Truman Capote were very much alike: two peas in a pod. Both famous mostly for just one great book each, The Catcher in the Rye and In Cold Blood, respectively. Their promises equally unfulfilled.

Hit the title above for a number of tributes to Salinger in The New Yorker of February 1, 2010. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Loch Raven Review 5th Anniversary Reading, Ukazoo Books, Towson, Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gabriele Munter, "Black Mask With Rose," 1912, from the cover of Loch Raven Review Print Volume 5 shortly to be published.

I am pleased to let you know that the Loch Raven Review Fifth Anniversary Reading will be held beginning at 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 13 at Ukazoo Books (, 730 Dulaney Valley Rd., Towson, MD 21204, opposite Towsontown Town Center Mall (it is one of the stores behind Superfresh), (410) 832-2665.

We are aiming to have as many local poets/writers as we have published in the five years of our existence as are able to attend, maybe some out of towners too.

Scheduled readers include Caryn Coyle, Dan Cuddy, Jim Doss, Dave Eberhardt, Christopher T. George, Reginald Harris, Clarinda Harriss, Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka, Dan Maguire, Mike Monroe, Michael North, and Dr Michael Salcman.

To read the latest material by these and other talented writers in the Winter issue of Loch Raven Review, just released, tap the title above. Enjoy!

All the best


The Brown Party: No More Red or Blue?

Of course, there's no real reason to think that U.S. Senator-elect from Massachusetts Scott Brown will be much different than any other of the vote-down-the-line Republicans who have been resistant if not to say obstructionist to the Democratically led health care proposal initiated by the Obama administration. But he did run more as an Independent than as a Republican, actually a very canny thing to do for a man who hoped to capture the Senate seat so long held by the late Edward M. Kennedy. And as a state senator in Massachusetts he did vote for the state's health insurance program even if he now opposes the proposed federal health insurance package now stalled in Congress. He even told ABC's Barbara Walters that he supports Roe versus Wade, the woman's right to choose. And on gay marriage he says that should be left up to the states. In Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, he states that the matter is "settled."

It would be nice to think that as a United States Senator for Massachusetts, Mr. Brown would be a genuine Independent. So far, he has called himself a "Scott Brown Republican" -- whatever that means. Might we dream perchance of a Brown Party that would help us break the gridlock that so often seized Washington? I really don't know whether the guy has what it takes. But maybe the former Cosmopolitan magazine centerfold has more going for him compared to that other rising rising (or is that falling???) star of the Republican Party, Sarah Palin, the former Governor of Alaska, lampooned on Saturday Night Live for saying she can see Russia from her house. Ahem.

Independent parties have not faired well in American politics; the national government has long been sewn up tight by the two main parties. Still, it would be nice to think that someone could throw some spice into the mix to get us out of the current impasse.

For more on Brown and a look at that Cosmo centerfold, tap the link through the title.