Friday, June 17, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) I disagree with his decision, but he had his reasons and I wish Anthony Weiner well. If President Obama's comments yesterday are any indication, he'll land on his feet.
2) In other news, dog bites man, rain falls down, and conservative fascists support low taxes. I wonder if this asshat sees the obvious flawS in his logic?
3) The title of this article is disconcerting, but it's actually a pretty good piece.
4) Lady, you made how many billions already? Go away.

5) By now, you've heard about the little scare at the Pentagon. I wonder what kind of device it actually was. I know they'll tell us something, but'd drive to the Pentagon and risk arrest for a pipe-bomb or some such? Doesn't make sense.
6) Michelle, I think you've mixed up Paul Ryan with President Obama. Also, "secret"...I do not think that word means what you think it means.
7) Well, now this is a bit of a surprise: AARP has dropped its opposition to SocSec benefit cuts. Another case of "I've got mine, Jack"?
8) DOMA unconstitutional? How did I miss this obvious story?
9) Paging Gene Rodenberry! Mr. Rodenberry! Pentagon on line one!
10) Finally...Paging Charlton Heston! Mr. Heston! Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on line two!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

*Rolling Eyes*

Not only is this a cat psychic, she comes from the Bill Frist School of Diagnosis.
And here I am, sitting in an office trying to earn a living...

So Rich = Unemployed?


And Now, Today's News For The Undead


There's A Certain Irony Here

Weight-loss surgery is more effective on patients who fall below the threshold for, ummmm, weight loss surgery

Your Photo Of The Day

It's Hard To Believe, But...


Lest You'd Think I'd Forget...

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:

Introibo ad altare Dei.

Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called out coarsely:

—Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!

Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round gunrest. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding land and the awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bent towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and shaking his head. Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak.

Buck Mulligan peeped an instant under the mirror and then covered the bowl smartly.

—Back to barracks! he said sternly.

He added in a preacher's tone:

—For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine Christine: body and soul and blood and ouns. Slow music, please. Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A little trouble about those white corpuscles. Silence, all.

He peered sideways up and gave a long slow whistle of call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white teeth glistening here and there with gold points. Chrysostomos. Two strong shrill whistles answered through the calm.

—Thanks, old chap, he cried briskly. That will do nicely. Switch off the current, will you?

He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his watcher, gathering about his legs the loose folds of his gown. The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.

—The mockery of it! he said gaily. Your absurd name, an ancient Greek!

He pointed his finger in friendly jest and went over to the parapet, laughing to himself. Stephen Dedalus stepped up, followed him wearily halfway and sat down on the edge of the gunrest, watching him still as he propped his mirror on the parapet, dipped the brush in the bowl and lathered cheeks and neck.

Buck Mulligan's gay voice went on.

—My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?

He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight, cried:

—Will he come? The jejune jesuit!

Ceasing, he began to shave with care.

—Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.

—Yes, my love?

—How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?

Buck Mulligan showed a shaven cheek over his right shoulder.

—God, isn't he dreadful? he said frankly. A ponderous Saxon. He thinks you're not a gentleman. God, these bloody English! Bursting with money and indigestion. Because he comes from Oxford. You know, Dedalus, you have the real Oxford manner. He can't make you out. O, my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knife-blade.

He shaved warily over his chin.

—He was raving all night about a black panther, Stephen said. Where is his guncase?

—A woful lunatic! Mulligan said. Were you in a funk?

—I was, Stephen said with energy and growing fear. Out here in the dark with a man I don't know raving and moaning to himself about shooting a black panther. You saved men from drowning. I'm not a hero, however. If he stays on here I am off.

Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade. He hopped down from his perch and began to search his trouser pockets hastily.

—Scutter! he cried thickly.

He came over to the gunrest and, thrusting a hand into Stephen's upper pocket, said:

—Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.

Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show by its corner a dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly. Then, gazing over the handkerchief, he said:

—The bard's noserag! A new art colour for our Irish poets: snotgreen. You can almost taste it, can't you?

He mounted to the parapet again and gazed out over Dublin bay, his fair oakpale hair stirring slightly.

—God! he said quietly. Isn't the sea what Algy calls it: a great sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton. Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks! I must teach you. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother. Come and look.

Stephen stood up and went over to the parapet. Leaning on it he looked down on the water and on the mailboat clearing the harbourmouth of Kingstown.

—Our mighty mother! Buck Mulligan said.

He turned abruptly his grey searching eyes from the sea to Stephen's face.

—The aunt thinks you killed your mother, he said. That's why she won't let me have anything to do with you.

—Someone killed her, Stephen said gloomily.

—You could have knelt down, damn it, Kinch, when your dying mother asked you, Buck Mulligan said. I'm hyperborean as much as you. But to think of your mother begging you with her last breath to kneel down and pray for her. And you refused. There is something sinister in you...


Happy Bloomsday!

As Long As You're Annoying New York Lawmakers

Make another call about this. Let's get New York back in the 21st century.

We Need To Fake Left And Ram It Up The Middle

Clyde Haberman of the Times points out it's fourth and goal at the one yard line.
Let's punch it home. Call Dean Skelos. Force a vote. Remind him that even his mentor, Joe Bruno (!!) supports gay marriage now.


How will you know when the Teabagger movement has finally jumped the shark and is headed towards obscurity?
If it's not the Norquist relegation, then this.
Made with high fructose corn syrup, I noticed.

The World's Toughest Job

Imagine being a Socialist President in an era of belt-tightening.
I fully expect Greece to default. Should that happen, the dominos will tumble. I can't see past what happens in Europe but it wouldn't surprise me if we suddenly find ourselves living the movie Americathon, right down to the rich Native Americans offering to buy us back.

We Might Want To Pay Attention To This Guy

After all, he sort of kind of warned us about 9/11...

Congratulations To Boston

It's been a long time coming, but your long nightmare is over. As a Rangers fan from a long ways back (and one with a memory of '72), it's nice to see you guys win one.
Now, about that Cup. It may vacation in the Cape, but it really should come back to its penthouse in Manhattan.

Condolences To Vancouver

Not on the Cup loss, although that's sad, but on the loss of pride and dignity
Your team will be back. You'll win a Cup or two in your time. What your more unruly fans did last night will not be erased for some time, however.

Mopping Up After Grover Norquist's Wet Dream

You may recall Grover Norquist. No, not the lovable fuzzy Muppet. The bare-teethed, knuckledragging caveman who once famously observed that he wanted to shrink government down to a size he could drown it in a bathtub.
He pretty much got his wish. And as with all wishes, one should be careful what one wishes for.
Right now, we are in the midst of an economic disaster, one that could go either way, but seems more likely to tilt towards the abyss. Job growth is non-existent, companies are hoarding cash after their well-documented tax cuts of the past thirty years, and average Americans are unable to even move to places where jobs actually are, mostly because they now have to triangulate two wager earners as opposed to one.
Again, all this is due in large part to Norquist's mantra of lower taxes and smaller government.

Half of Americans say they couldn't come up with $2,000 in 30 days without selling some of their possessions. Meanwhile, companies are flush: American firms generated $1.68 trillion in profit in the last quarter of 2010 alone. But many firms would think twice before putting their next factory or R&D center in the U.S. when they could put it in Brazil, China or India. These emerging-market nations are churning out 70 million new middle-class workers and consumers every year. That's one reason unemployment is high and wages are constrained here at home. This was true well before the recession and even before Obama arrived in office. From 2000 to 2007, the U.S. saw its weakest period of job creation since the Great Depression.

Nobel laureate Michael Spence, author of The Next Convergence, has looked at which American companies created jobs at home from 1990 to 2008, a period of extreme globalization. The results are startling. The companies that did business in global markets, including manufacturers, banks, exporters, energy firms and financial services, contributed almost nothing to overall American job growth. The firms that did contribute were those operating mostly in the U.S. market, immune to global competition — health care companies, government agencies, retailers and hotels. Sadly, jobs in these sectors are lower paid and lower skilled than those that were outsourced. "When I first looked at the data, I was kind of stunned," says Spence, who now advocates a German-style industrial policy to keep jobs in some high-value sectors at home. Clearly, it's a myth that businesses are simply waiting for more economic and regulatory "certainty" to invest back home.

So it's really no wonder to read that Norquist's influence in the very party that spawned this hell-creature is on the wane:

Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist’s influence over Senate Republicans slipped Tuesday, a development that could have implications for bipartisan budget talks as well as for the future of the party’s orthodoxy.

For decades, Norquist’s anti-tax pledge has dominated Republican politics, with most party members vowing — at Norquist’s behest — to never raise taxes or to offset any tax increases wtith tax cuts elsewhere.

But the No. 3 Senate GOP leader said Tuesday that eliminating tax breaks might be a legitimate way to solve the nation’s current fiscal crisis. “My view is a good way to reduce the debt is to get rid of unwarranted tax breaks,” GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said.

Now, not content with simply repudiating Norquist and the ludicrous (and soon to be firmly debunked) "lower taxes are good For Americans" mantra, the GOP manages to muck it up by taking away one of the few tax breaks that might actually be good for the nation: the corn ethanol subsidy.

Reasonable people can disagree about the subject: corn is already a heavily subsidized crop, for instance, and corn ethanol actually uses more energy and may therefore produce more carbon than sugar cane or switchgrass ethanol production. Corn is a pretty noxious crop, and it's probably better used in ethanol than in high fructose corn syrup additives. The debate can rage on ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

The focus I'd take in terms of the subsidy is, if it weans Americans off fossil fuels, it's a good thing. Ethanol, particularly corn ethanol, should be viewed as a way station on the road to energy independence, not just from foreign oil but from large size energy conglomerates.

Norquist's attempts to remain relevant smack of desperation. Yesterday, for example, when he saw the handwriting on the wall that even conservatives were going to back the rollback, he offered a compromise of voting for the elimination of the tax credit to be offset by a permanent elimination of the inheritance tax.

(The estate tax, but I'm trying to find a way to defuse the "death tax" imagery.)

The amendment submitted by Jim DeMint (R-StirCrazy) was attracting some attention until leadership quashed the notion, pointing out that the amendment would kill any chance of either proposal passing, and it would likely never make it to the committee, much less through it.

The original amendment, offered up by Tom Coburn (R-(not)OK), puts Coburn in direct conflict with Norquist, and could signal Coburn's first trial balloon for a potential bid for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. By turning his back on the symbol of failed Republican policies of the past thirty years...and really, how hard is it to admit that you have a problem, GOP?...he sends the message that he's willing to forgo any support from the small and shrinking vocal minority of Teabaggers in order to come off as someone who can actually govern a country without throwing a temper tantrum.

He learned the lesson of the Obama candidacy, in other words: No Drama Obama.

So there's a slap fight coming in the Republican party. Get the popcorn!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maybe Some Good Came Of Fukushima?

It might have killed the whaling industry...right after it kills the whales.

Dear Speaker Boener...


Ahhhhhhhh, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board...


What could they possibly blow up, Senator?

A couple of racehorses? I mean, you already blow the tops off mountains!
I, um, didn't mean that the way it came out. Mostly.

But Healthcare In America Is The Best Ever!


The End Is Coming!

This has been a very exciting Stanley Cup finals!


Some global warming denialists will go to great lengths to deny global warming...
The conference, while it did caution about a Maunder minimum, drew few conclusions about the lack of activity and indeed, even though we are currently in a cycle that should see a solar maximum in 2013 (and possibly one of the largest ever), it was noted that 2008 and 2009 saw very few sunspots.
And yet, both years were among the warmest on record, globally. Most scientists are hesitant to even draw the conclusion that THE Little Ice Age was caused by a Maunder minimum.
The "Little Ice Age" was a period of cool temperatures that extended from the medieval historical period until the 19th Century and could be responsible for some of the great social progressive changes in that time period, from the American and French Revolutions to introduction of beer to the New World (yes, I consider that progress!) to the women's suffrage movement.

Wanna Know Why Teabaggers Exist?

I'm guessing liberals make up the lion's share of the 20% who are proficient.

Slightly Less Of A Loser

Howard Kurtz seems to think we should take a Michele Bachmann candidacy seriously.
In front of a largely partisan and admission-paying audience, Bachmann apparently "wowed" what was basically a hand-selected audience of party activists (i.e. Teabaggers) and made the biggest impression of any of the Dopey Dozen.
The obvious comparisons are made to Sarah Palin, of course, who does pale a bit by comparison.
I'm not convinced. I think she's sincere in running, but it's what she's running for that I think Kurtz misses. Bachmann cannot win the nomination of the GOP. That much is clear. She's a small dog in the elephantine money fight of Romney-Perry (especially if Palin throws her weight behind Perry, which I think she will.)
It's clear that Bachmann is not running for President.
But Senator from Minnesota? Against Al Franken?
Yea. I think that's probable.

Interesting Poll Here

Gender safety issues are global, as if you didn't know. Afghanistan is the worst country in the world for women.
India ranks surprisingly high, however.

Jake Tapper Doesn't Really Get It

I mean, he's right, a little. The Republicans didn't just talk about gay marriage or abortion or whatever silly policy items the DNC highlighted in their video.
But read the list of topics Tapper notes, and you'll see some even dumber topics being discussed.
The Tenth Amendment was debated? Really, Jake? That's a vital issue? The Teabaggers?
The DNC is more right than you're letting on!

Uh Oh

The CPI rose at an annual rate of 3.6% last month. Inflation is considered anything above 4%.
Ironically, if you factor back in food and energy costs, the CPI rise was only 2.4% per annum, which is less troubling. This was due in large part to a drop in energy prices, however, which will no doubt begin to bounce back up now that summer is upon us.
One large reason why core CPI is calculated without energy (and food) prices is to smooth out volatility and seasonal fluctuations. It tends to be more accurate a gauge of how consumers are being affected long term (with energy and food is a better snapshot of how consumers are feeling the pain.)

Scott Walker Loves Him Some Pork

In the latest go-round on the collective bargaining issue in Wisconsin, Walker has exempted the public transportation unions from the ban on collective bargaining.
Why, you ask? After all, it's not like Wisconsin has a thriving subway system or an extensive bus infrastructure.
It turns out, Walker would stand to lose some $46 million in Federal aid.
So much for the "smaller government" Teabagger credo.

On The One Hand...

Pakistan continues to be a conundrum wrapped in an enigma:

Pakistani intelligence has detained five alleged CIA informants who spied on Osama bin Laden in the months before the al-Qaida chief was killed in a special forces raid, US and Pakistani officials have said.

The Pakistani informants noted the details of vehicles visiting Bin Laden's house in Abbottabad, 35 miles north of Islamabad, and helped run a nearby house from which CIA spies watched the al-Qaida leader.

A Pakistani official said the owner of the CIA hideout had been arrested along with several other people.

A military spokesman denied a New York Times report that a serving army major had also been detained. The arrests highlight continuing tensions between the US and Pakistan in the wake of Bin Laden's death. They are likely to intensify pressure from senior Washington politicians to cut Pakistan's $2bn annual aid package.

On the one hand, Pakistan swears they are assisting the US in its efforts to contain terrorism and in particular, Al Qaeda. On the decide.

This development comes on the heels of the hectoring given by Pakistani security officials to CIA chief Leon Panetta last week about covert activities in Pakistan.

This, despite the fact that Panetta had all but accused the Pakistani security forces of aiding and abetting militants by showing them a video of a bomb factory in Waziristan (note, not even in Pakistan) evacuating after the US had notified the Pakistanis they were aware of the activity.

Not even about to launch a raid, just that they knew it was there.

One can only assume the CIA have knowledge of activities inside Pakistan and will not reveal this to the military.

On Pakistan's part, they raise a legitimate concern...legitimate, to a degree: if the US had foreign agents acting on its soil, they'd be well within their rights to roll up any citizens who are cooperating with those agents, no matter how "friendly" that nation may be or how aligned their interests may be (ex. Jonathan Pollard.)
Still, Israel isn't about to commit a terrorist act on American soil (unless you want to count the JDL, but that was decades ago,) whereas Al Qaeda and other Muslim extremists would do so in a heartbeat. Pakistan ought to step back from this concern and focus on the larger issues involved, most notably their precarious standing in the world when compared to other nations in the region and other global issues.
Pakistan is essentially the country going up for seconds at a barbecue and then cutting the line to get thirds, even tho they are a "plus one" at the do. Musharraf was asked not so politely to step aside and one suspects that the military does not have the stranglehold it once had on the nation.
In fact, if I was Panetta, I'd be looking to push this guy further up the food chain:

A senior Pakistani official said the dispute represented a clash between "Pakistani hyper-nationalism and American arrogance".

That about sums it up, on both hands.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

First It Was Tunisia, Then Egypt...

...then Libya, Yemen and now, Syria?

And Sometimes, Capitalism Works!

Scott's Miracle-Gro Co. to target medical marijuana growers.

Your Feel-Good Story Of The Day

Meet Matt Stutzman, Olympic archer.
You're seeing that picture correctly.

Smart Retreat

It strikes me that Anthony Weiner's decision to take a two-week leave of absence makes a lot of sense.
He's under enormous pressure to resign, from within his own party as well as from the Republican monkey cage.
Two weeks away from all that will give him time to catch his breath and mend some fences behind the scenes.
Too, in Washington, two weeks is an eternity and anything can happen that will distract people from him. Most notably, another scandal.


Perhaps heaven ain't ready to expand the brass section just yet.

A Womb With A View

It's not the first attempt at a womb transplant but it may be the creepiest: a mother is going to donate her womb to her daughter who is unable to give birth.

Marriage Equality In New York State

Time to amp it up. If your state Senator or Assemblyperson is sitting on or even near the fence, get on top of him or her.
I have to hand it to Andrew Cuomo. He has his father's gift for dealing with the opposition without giving too much away.

Could There Have Been More Fallout Than We Were Told?

It looks like the west coast of the US has seen a large spike in baby deaths ever since the Fukushima reactor meltdown.

Remember "It Depends On The Definition Of 'Is'?"

Well, apparently Clarence Thomas is so stupid, he doesn't know what they definition of "make" is.

Just For The Record...

....I, too, am a male lesbian, in that I love women.

From Their Lips To God's Ears

China has ratcheted down the rhetoric in its dispute with Vietnam.

BEIJING — China on Tuesday pledged not to resort to the use of force in the tense South China Sea, as neighbours with rival border claims stepped up their complaints over Beijing's assertive maritime posture.

Beijing called for more dialogue to resolve the long-standing territorial disputes in the area after the Philippines sought help from the United States and Vietnam staged live-fire military exercises in a show of military strength.

"We will not resort to the use of force or the threat of force," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

Now, either they learned from recent history, or they've decided its not worth the bother getting their military entangled in these dire economic times.
Which sort of flies in the face of history. Wars are always about improving the economy of the aggressor (and protecting the economy of the attacked).
There are no other reasons for war, even terrorism. Al Qaeda didn't attack America because of some ideological dispute. Al Qaeda attacked America (and bin Laden admitted this at one point) because "western infidels were exploiting Muslim resources" (e.g. oil).
Or words to that effect. I'll leave it to the reader to find what he exactly said amidst the dross that passes for ideological nonsense.
America has not been and is not immune to this form of economic advancement. Surely, the entire Iraq debacle was based on the resources under Iraq and the opportunity to divest our interests in the Middle East away from Saudi Arabia, where 16 of the nineteen Al Qaeda attackers hailed from. In addition, we hedged our bets in this: not only did we establish a fealty among some sectors of Iraqi society (which now includes many westerners who are there specifically to exploit the oil wells), we also provided the Saudis protection from Saddam Hussein, who has in the past turned an eye towards the Arab peninsula. Anyone remember the first Gulf War?
It's kind of a win-win for us, lose-lose for everyone else (or at the very most, "win some, lose some".)
China's statement, assuming we can accept it at face value, is intriguing and needs to be dissected a little. First, understand that the part of the China Sea that is under dispute may contain large petroleum reserves. Given China's late entry into the fossil fuel markets, it's understandable that they would prefer to keep their money in their own bank, so to speak: rather than rely on uncertain sources like the Muslim world-- China's track records with the Uighurs is not a good one-- if they can develop domestic sources, or at least close-by sources that they can exert direct control over, they're ahead of the game.
The issues with Vietnam stem from what they term aggressive incursions into territorial waters by Chinese vessels, and the cutting of electric cables that Vietnam has laid in its own waters. China counters that Vietnamese boats have harassed Chinese fishing vessels and that the cables laid are in Chinese waters.
This raises the interesting spectre for the United States, if I may digress, of siding with Vietnam. After all, enemy of your enemy, and all that.
Right now, China's economic influence exceeds its military influence. That's a given, especially as it is that economic influence that is their strongest argument for keeping the US at bay in this dispute. There really is no need to deploy a naval fleet (altho my suspicion is both sides here are masking a truth, that little of this dispute involves commercial boats.)
The Chinese may be engaging in a brand new kind of warfare, the kind I advocated back in the days when the drumbeats for war with Iraq were pounding: economic warfare. Bleed a nation dry of its ability to have a GDP and you effectively have beaten their military without firing a shot.
Hm. Perhaps they really have been studying history!

To No One's Surprise

Michele Bachmann is running for President, but gutless coward that she is, she couldn't just come out and say "I'm running."
Nope. It's "I've filed the papers necessary to make a run."
Which is weird, because she's made her reputation out to be someone who speaks plainly. There's an awful lot of nuance in a simple statement. She's still teasing her way into the race, and even though she's the hot topic of the day in the GOP, she still missed an opportunity to finish what Sarah Palin started last week: throw a body blow to Mitt.
But hey, at least I'll have plenty of material to work with the next year or so!

Monday, June 13, 2011

M-I-C, K-E-Y, F-A-I-L!

Kaus tries his hand at comedy...
Hey! You were warned in the damned headline!

Thanks For Pointing That Out, Captain Obvious

What's Wrong With This Picture?

SCOTUS says that the First Amendment does not apply to conflicts of interest.
Well, OK, but....
Conflict-of-interest rules "have been commonplace for over 200 years," said Justice Antonin Scalia, and they have never been thought to infringe on the free-speech rights of lawmakers, he said.

In the past, the court has said the Constitution gives legislators a right to speak freely, but it does not give them a right to cast a vote on matters if they have a conflict of interest, Scalia said. The right to vote in a legislative body "is not personal to the legislator but belongs to the people. The legislator has no personal right to it," he said.

Sharks! With Frikkin' Lasers!


Another Score For Obama

You might have missed this in the middle of all the Weiner snits this weekend, but we got another Al Qaeda braniac.

Karma Comes In Instant, Too!

It couldn't happen to a nicer hoaxster.


Apart from understanding how Republicans handle defeat a year and a half ahead of it, I have no desire to watch or read about this.

Pobre Hijastro

Yesterday was Puerto Rican Day in NYC.
I suppose that since Puerto Ricans-- Los Boricuas-- have had such a big influence on my life and my city, I lose sight of the fact they really are second-class citizens in our nation.
This was driven home by the startling realization that President Obama's visit to the island tomorrow will be the first official visit by a sitting President since 1961, although Gerald Ford did host a G-7 summit there in 1976.
For us, it is really a momentous occasion that the president is making an official visit," Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, who is scheduled to meet with Obama, told POLITICO. "It will allow us the opportunity to discuss with the president important issues - just as the governor of Florida or Delaware would do if the president were to visit their state - and showcase what Puerto Rico is all about."
Now, it's true that Puerto Rico has, by its own hand, chosen to live in a limbo between statehood and independence. Citizens there cannot vote in American presidential elections, although they can hold primaries. They don't have official representation in Congress, but they can be drafted to fight and die for our country.
If Puerto Rico was a state, its GDP would rank it about 40th, ahead of New Hampshire, Idaho, Maine...and Alaska.
Now, Puerto Ricans have been accepted as US citizens since 1917. You don't need a passport to travel there, and of course, the US Dollar is the accepted currency.
It is, by all accounts, an island with a rich heritage and history, and of remarkable beauty. And it has a shrinking economy and high unemployment.
These dichotomies make it all the more mystifying to me why Presidential visits seem to be so far and few between. For the 1961 visit, the cynic in me suggests that this was a move by JFK to solidify Puerto Rico's ties to the mainland in the face of the unrest posed by the Castro regime in Cuba which probably gave rise to the FALN, a terrorist organization that was particularly busy in the 1970s.
Ford clearly threw the island a bone by holding the G-7 summit there. And then...nothing until 2011?
Very odd. Economic development on the island would go a long way to resolving the statehood question in either direction, to be sure, and yet no one's given this that level of thought? Economic development would stem the draining population, too, allowing more people to stay in their ancestral homeland.
Economic development would go a long way to helping the nation get up off the mat. It has enormous resources, a hard-working population, and a literacy rate that would make many US states proud.
And yet we deign to acknowledge it twice a century.
Pretty shameful, if you ask me.