Robert Stein 1924-2014

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If anyone has comments, questions or condolences, please feel free to send a private message to the family at robertstein@optonline.net.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Aftermath of Nature's October Surprise

In “Sunset Boulevard,” the aging movie diva exclaims, “I am still big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

If Mother Nature had a voice, her line would read, “It’s the politics that got small” as she delivers the most unexpected October surprise of all—-a reminder that government is still vital in our lives, no matter how much Tea Party pygmies denigrate it.

One of Mitt Romney’s loudest surrogates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, steps up to reinforce the message, calling the Obama Administration’s storm response “wonderful,” “excellent” and “outstanding.”  He tells TV interviewers, "It’s been very good working with the president. He and his administration have been coordinating with us. It’s been wonderful.”

The President himself leaves the campaign trail to oversee the White House response as Romney and Ryan schedule “storm relief” events in Ohio, a swing state untouched by hurricane damage.

If any October surprise could affect their contest, it would be the opportunity for Barack Obama to stop pleading with voters and spend all his time being presidential from now until Election Day.

George W. Bush defined himself with a “Heckuva job, Brownie” gaffe over the response to Katrina. Sandy is providing a very different script for this president.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, goes the ancient saying. This one could help Romney and Ryan to be “Gone with the Wind.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Obama: How a Lame Duck Can Fly

In all the likely outcomes, a reelected President would still face Tea Party gridlock in Congress. How could he overcome it?

By pushing to its limit his Bully Pulpit from next year to the 2014 midterm elections, clipping the crazies’ wings and morphing into a Lame Duck who can still fly for the rest of his term.

As Nature forces Barack Obama to be presidential a week before balloting and Bill Clinton makes his case in Florida, wavering voters must be persuaded that the man Mitt Romney humiliated in the first debate is ready to step up to the Tea Party as he did to his Oval Office challenger from then on.

Second-term presidents have traditionally gone for the history books (just before reelection, Communist-bashing Nixon went to China), and Obama has ample incentive to wipe out his wavering against Boehner and McConnell in the debt-ceiling showdown.

From Inaugural Day on, a reelected Barack Obama would have to be relentless in calling out the new Congress—-no more Grand Bargains or other deals the Tea Party won’t let their leaders honor.

In this final week, after the other storm has abated, the President must make it clear he will use all his power to get the country and the economy moving again.

He has to show there is more mileage on the wings of a Lame Duck than a Wild Goose.
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

American Storm Watch

In Atlantic states, residents are transfixed by Hurricane Sandy as TV screens fill up with faces of governors and local officials issuing directives, warnings and reports on their preparations for the worst.

Families hunker down with the knowledge that many thousands are out there to help in case of disaster.

Elsewhere in the nation, attention centers on pre-election minutiae. Fox News is mesmerized by the question of who did what in Benghazi weeks ago.

Regardless of ideology, can Americans admit to themselves they don’t live in the bubble of selfishness that dominates election ads and campaign rhetoric?

Can we stop talking about who didn’t build what and realize that forms of community, elected or not, are vital to keeping what we have?

Can we remember that the ground under our feet is not as solid as it seems and that in so many ways we are one another’s keepers?

Hopefully, the storm’s property damage will be less than predicted. Can we do anything to minimize the human damage of our presumption? 

What's New, Sununu?

His former chief of staff, a white Republican, weighs in on Colin Powell’s Obama endorsement and delivers a twofer on racism, not only against his boss but the President as well.

Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkinson blasts: “My party is full of racists, and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin, and that's despicable.”

Wilkerson, who had previously expressed regrets about not resigning over his role in helping prepare Powell’s 2003 U. N. speech on Iraq’s nuclear weapons, was delivering another whack, this one for Barack Obama, to the back side of Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu as  he hastily retreats from his gaffe about the General’s endorsement.

It’s long past time for one of their own to call out the G.O.P. 's racism over Obama. Well done.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Renting Their Heads to Romney

Metaphor for the day: An Indiana man auctions off space to have Mitt Romney’s campaign logo tattooed in a 5-by-2-inch space on the side of his head. The winning bid is $15,000.

Without compensation, millions of other voters have been renting their heads to the Republican candidate’s drumbeat of brainless stump speeches and campaign ads, which nine days from now will leave them with a hangover but hopefully no lasting evidence of their folly.

Underscoring the gap between his tenure in the White House and Romney/Ryan brainwashing, the President in his weekly address talks about new consumer protections his Administration has put in place. Complaints, he points out, will be pursued against “anyone who tries to take advantage of you, or rip you off. 

Starting this month, that includes "the folks who come up with your credit score...

“The same procedure will apply for bank accounts, student loans and mortgages. Their only mission is to fight for you. And when needed, they’ll take action.”

No such redress will be available to the man with the permanent Romney tattoo who faces a lifetime of disfigurement. Then again, it may be only justice to end up as the butt of jokes after you’ve laughed your way to the bank.