Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Johnson Treatment

President Obama is a brilliant orator. But the time for big speeches has passed. Health care reform is going to require what political scientists call the The Johnson Treatment.

President Lyndon Johnson gets a bad rap as president, chiefly because of the Vietnam Conflict. But we sometimes forget that it was he, not President Kennedy, who was responsible for getting Civil Right Legislation passed. It was President Johnson who got Medicare and Medicaid through the United States Congress. It is not commonly remembered that before becoming Vice-president and then inheriting the presidency; Johnson had been an iconic legislator. I can say without fear of correction, that Johnson had been one of the most influential and powerful majority leaders in the history of Congress. He was able to use the full force of his own personality to garner support for bills he supported. He convinced people to either join his cause or prepare to get bulldozed.

The most famous aspect of The Johnson Treatment was executed through shear proximity. Johnson got face to face with people. He then used every emotional weapon in his arsenal. He used everything from flattery to cajolery. He used logic and threats, and anything in between. But that was only part of the treatment. Johnson was a master at finding out what people wanted and needed. He told people face to face in private what he needed from them, and what he was willing to do for them in return. One newly elected freshman congressman was ushered aboard a plane and delivered to the Oval Office for a private audience with president who said "Congratulations son I'm going to need your help". The congressman never voted against him.

Its alright for the president to sell the nation on health care reform with stately speeches in grand halls and whistle stop tours. But he needs to get up close and personal with the blue dogs. He needs to apply The Johnson Treatment one them one at a time, and away from their staffs. There is something each one of them needs support for in their districts. Someone needs more aids, someone needs a hospital, someone needs government funds for play grounds. All of them need campaign support contacts. I know it all sounds like pork and the president is against pork barrel spending. But this fight is too important not to pull out all the stops. I assure you that Congress was not rushing to get in line to support Civil Rights Legislation in 1964. It took some arm twisting to get that done.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tyler Perry Again?

Congratulations to Tyler Perry for having his second number one movie opening. I Can Do Bad All By Myself was a hit at the box office, raking in over 20 million dollars. It stars two of the best and most undervalued actors in Hollywood, Taraji P. Henson and Brian J. White. And for that reason alone I wish I could bring myself to support this film, but I can't.

Tyler Perry is the most over rated phenomenon since the electric knife. I watched his plays and I saw the movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman. I have watched several episodes of Tyler Perry's House of Payne and Meet the Browns. And I come away from every experience dissatisfied. Now he's launching a talk show. Being ubiquitous is no substitute for being good.

There are good moral messages in his stories and the music is usually great. The cast is always attractive. The casts though attractive are generally either poor actors or poorly cast. Either way, the effect is disastrous. His famous "Madea" character's language mocks the Bible and I find it a little offensive personally. Then there is his nasty habit of resorting to stereotypical buffoonery. Watching Tyler Perry's work reminds me of the old Amos and Andy sitcom. It's a little embarrassing to watch, but on the other hand I'm so relieved to see black folks on television that I kind of put up with the shucking and jiving. Maybe this new movie is better than I think. By most accounts I'm missing a real treat. But I'll wait till its on HBO to find out. I prefer investing in quality programming. For me, supporting Perry's work at this point is like supporting Al Sharpton's bid for president. Just being black ain't gonna get.

Friday, September 11, 2009

911 Eight Years Later

Its been eight years since the 911 attacks that gripped the nation. The President and First Lady braved the cool fall weather and the rain (much of the time without umbrellas) to honor the fallen and support the families that they left behind.

I still marvel that people could unleash such violence on other people. Anytime that happens I am deeply saddened. What is more remarkable is the courage displayed by people in crisis. One of the stories I recall was the security guard who led three separate groups of strangers down the stairs to safety. Four times he charged up into a building on fire until it finally collapsed on top of him.
September 11 was declared a National Day of Service by executive order of President Obama. (Not a bad day's work for someone who conservative extremists have branded an un-American, communist, socialist, fascist, terrorist, liar ugh?)

Let us live up to the challenge to do something today that in some small way honors the examples of love and sacrifice that shown through the rubble of that national catastrophe.

God bless the President. God bless the United States of America.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Buttons and Bows

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis inspired women around the world to adopt the pill box hat and super sized sun glasses in the sixties. And unless I miss my guess sparkling brooches and over sized bows will be showcased on the runways of New York's Fashion Week in 2009. The First Lady (pictured above) attending the joint session of Congress last night has been wearing voluminous bows regularly, since her tour of Europe in the Spring. Mrs. Obama is almost single handily elevating the status of accessories.

Normally Mrs. Obama chooses big bows in black and white or black on black. Last night she was the fairest of them all in a coral colored frock that featured detailed handiwork that would have made Coco Channel light headed. As if the bow covered pleats, brilliant brooch, abrupt sleeves and stiff skirt were not eye catching enough, just behold all the drama in the back. Mrs. Obama is fashion forward and fearlessly so.

Contact Your Local Blue Dog

Here's a list of blue dogs who need to be pressured into supporting a public option. Which is NOT the same thing as government take over. During the campaign season, politicians ask volunteers to call and cajole people into voting for them. They even have computerized calling systems called robocalls. We need to call them and insist that they support legislation that speaks directly to the character of our country.

Jason Altmire (PA-4)
Mike Arcuri (NY-24)
Joe Baca (CA-43)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Melissa Bean (IL-8)
Marion Berry (AR-1)
Sanford Bishop (GA-2)
Dan Boren (OK-2)
Leonard Boswell (IA-3)
Allen Boyd (FL-2)
Bobby Bright (AL-2)
Dennis Cardoza (CA-18)
Christopher Carney (PA-10)
Ben Chandler (KY-6)
Travis Childers (MS-1)
Jim Cooper (TN-5)
Jim Costa (CA-20)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3)
Lincoln Davis (TN-4)
Joe Donnelly (IN-2)
Brad Ellsworth (IN-8)
Bill Foster (IL-14)
Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8)
Bart Gordon (TN-6)
Parker Griffith (AL-5)
Jane Harman (CA-36)
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration
Baron Hill (IN-9), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy
Tim Holden (PA-17)
Frank Kratovil (MD-1)
Jim Marshall (GA-8)
Jim Matheson (UT-2)
Mike McIntyre (NC-7)
Charlie Melancon (LA-3), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications
Mike Michaud (ME-2)
Walt Minnick (ID-1)
Dennis Moore (KS-3)
Patrick Murphy (PA-8)
Glenn Nye (VA-2)
Collin Peterson (MN-7)
Earl Pomeroy (ND-AL)
Mike Ross (AR-4)
John Salazar (CO-3)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-47)
Adam Schiff (CA-29)
David Scott (GA-13)
Heath Shuler (NC-11), Blue Dog Whip
Zack Space (OH-18)
John Tanner (TN-8)
Gene Taylor (MS-4)
Mike Thompson (CA-1)
Charlie Wilson (OH-6)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rep. Joe Wilson - Unplugged

I was feeling badly for Republicans who seemed to have been invited to something akin to a Democratic pep rally. Republicans looked as uncomfortable as turkeys invited to Thanksgiving dinner. And rightly so, cause they got served. But then the "gentleman" from South Carolina called the President of the United States a liar from the well of that distinguished chamber. At that moment my sympathy vanished. That's when I remembered that health care reform is not the real problem. For many conservatives the election of Pres. Obama in November is the real source of the contention; and they simply will not support his presidency. The open hostility was not "you are telling a lie", in that in that it called into question the correctness of his information. It was both personal and angry. It was also erroneous, but apparently that is beside the point.

Rep. Wilson may have inadvertently united the fractured Democratic party tonight more than he knows. I am confident, now more than ever, that substantial health care reform will pass this year. If possible, by Democrats and Republicans sitting down and breaking bread together. If not, then I suspect Democrats will shove that bread right down the Republicans angry throats.