Time to push the mute button on wingnuts, left and right

You can spread the butter on Keith Olbermann because he’s toast at MSBC.
And now there’s speculation that his exit signals the impending extinction of the wingnuts.
Granted, Olbermann and MSNBC management were at each other’s throats like vampires for years. But his ratings were slipping.
And with Glenn Beck’s ratings plummeting like a Mexican cliff diver and Sarah Palin’s popularity waning after her plunge into reality TV, the whirligig of partisanship extravagance may be disappearing like morning dew.
A good thing, if this truly is an evolution. Lightning rods on both the left and the right have imprisoned us in a time of meanness and darkness. Grumping and glowering dissonance and division are cancers to discourse and progress.
Perhaps a popgun doesn’t have the same bang as dynamite. But it can get your attention without blowing everything up.

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Don't run over your toes with your snow blowers but there's a blizzard of reasons why Obama should win in 2012

I know some of you likely will suffer orbital fractures to both eyes reading this. But I ran across an interesting piece today detailing why President Obama has a good shot at being reelected next year.
Granted, 2012 remains light years away in political terms. A sitting president, even a standing president, can suffer evocative highs and cavernous lows — depending on what blows up here at home or abroad.
Still, if you plumb a number of factors as of this writing, the planets seem aligned for Obama next year.
Here’s why:
The economy’s rebounding, and that should stop despair from raining on voters.
Obama’s approval ratings are ticking up.
The Republican field could be a landmine. With no obvious frontrunner at this point, the Republican primary season may drag on and be messier than a truck-stop diner kitchen. The Tea Party could be divisive to the point that Republicans spit more bicuspids than West Virginians. While Republicans try to see who best mimics Reagan, Obama can stay above the babble, looking presidential.

The power of incumbency. In the last 56 presidential elections, 31 have involved incumbents; 21 of those candidates have won more than one term. Like the home team or the casino, the incumbent has a big advantage. Challengers just don’t pack the same punch.
The mainstream media continues to treat Obama with kid gloves.
Obama has an experienced and well-greased campaign organization. Synchronization is not something you just wing. And his reelection effort could be the first campaign to raise $1 billion. That should top-off his fuel tank.
Obama sprinkles stardust on the campaign trail. OK, he may use a teleprompter. But the guy can win over crowds with his oratory.
The 2010 midterm voters that swept Republicans into control of the House, governorships and state legislatures were older, whiter, and more conservative than those who went to the polls in 2008. Young voters, more minorities, more women and generally more liberals should be back in 2012. The Hispanic vote is growing, and Obama resonates with Hispanics. The Hispanic Institute is working hard to increase Hispanic voter participation in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Colorado. Winning those five states could seal the deal for Obama.
And I know some of you will scream a decibel-busting puh-leeze at this, but more Americans now view Obama as a moderate. Forty percent see the president as a moderate, up 10 percentage points from a year ago. More importantly, 44 percent of independents now call Obama a moderate, up from 28 percent a year ago.
My apologies for bringing a firehouse-red alarm and a bright-lime nausea to those of you on the right.

Fountain Girl's criminal problems ripple troubled waters deeper than you'll find in a mall fountain

I must say at this juncture the tale of Cathy Cruz Marrero is becoming a tad more compelling than discussing the lifecycle of a rhododendron.

In fact, her story is swelling like a blowfish. Oops. Excuse the aquatic reference. Her big splash of fame all started with her plunge into a Berkshire Mall fountain while texting.

Of course, you already knew that. Everybody in the world knows that because her fall went more viral than swine flu, putting her at the center of a vortex of hilarity. Never again doubt that the Internet is a synchronous, steamrollering force.

The Reading woman even wound up on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning to talk about her soggy pratfall. Guess what? She may even sue the mall.

Marrero had a busy morning. She also was in Berks County Court today for a status hearing on theft-by-deception and related charges. She was charged in October 2009 for using a co-worker’s credit cards to make more than $5,000 in purchases at two local stores. She also has several theft cases and a hit-and-run charge on her record.

Suddenly this lady is defined by more than a couple seconds of catastrophe.

Her plunge had set eyes fluttering when posted on YouTube. Now her criminal issues have tongues fluttering as well.

Suspicion now is racing to replace all the laughter. Suddenly her story could be mined more for pathos than chuckles.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to wonder if her swan dive into the fountain was all that accidental.

Zat is zee question preying on more than one mind, I’m sure.

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not whether you're coming from the left or the right; ask where you are going

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address 50 years ago today was brief (at 14 minutes seemingly shorter than an NFL timeout) but memorable, punctuated by that indelible line exhorting Americans to pursue careers and lives guided by public service.

Lines are more than a just a string of words. They have a context. The best lines are literally lifelines.

JFK had a mystical instinct that enabled him to connect with an audience. Part of it was his charm and good looks straight from central casting. Part of it was his eloquence.

Despite the stone-dust pallor of a half-century, his oft-cited challenge for Americans to take responsibility for something larger than themselves, to contribute to something larger than themselves, should leap to the next throat … and the next one … and the next one.

Even until this day.

Every wave must begin with one molecule of water and every fire with a single spark. That single JFK sentence, buoyed by time’s retrospection, hopefully can launch a new wave of idealistic, not narcissistic, Americans.

Obama-Hu summit more than just another game of Chinese checkers

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are hanging out together all day and tonight, talking about the weather, human rights, core interests, development paths, trade, security, and why chop suey really should be eaten with a spoon instead of chopsticks.

They also are meeting with execs from leading Americans companies to discuss investment and who they like in the Bob Hope Desert Classic.

Tonight they’re attending a black-tie dinner at the White House where cheesesteaks and fries won’t be on the menu but perhaps cats and dogs will be.

Of course, China sure has evolved. It wasn’t that long ago when Mao was running the place that the country was as insulated as a hothouse orchid.

Now the Chinese span the globe as an economic colossus. China and the U.S. do $400 billion in trade annually. And China seems drawn like cold hands to a fire when it comes to U.S. investment.

When Hu arrived in Washington, he brought more than a change of underwear. China has agreed to $45 billion in trade and investment contracts with U.S. companies and has made a series of other trade-related concessions as part of his visit. The impending deals are estimated to support some 235,000 U.S. jobs. With the American economy hardly as spectacular as Chinese fireworks, that is a firecracker big deal.

And Beijing has promised to improve the business climate in China for U.S. companies, like purchasing legal software for starters and cracking down on widespread software piracy. China also said it would allow the use of more imported technology and give foreign companies a more even playing field to compete for government contracts at both the national and provincial levels.

Which is leaving Americans spongy with hope that perhaps the Chinese aren’t so bad after all.

Not so fast my friends. While we need China almost as much as oxygen these days, there is that little matter of human rights. This has been a sore subject for years between the two nations, a hurt that continually slides into the U.S. like a drawer being closed. And rightfully so. The Chinese stomp on their citizens like driver ants. I guess when you have so many people, you tend to treat them like disposable parts.

We keep scolding the Chinese about human rights and Obama brought it up to Hu again today, even though the point of contention now is so old it’s all veins and arthritis.

The Chinese aren’t going to change. But we need their change.

Majority of Americans, even the hardened gladiators who are packing, support tougher gun restrictions

I know this will be horseradish in the shooting eye of all the NRA folks and groups lobbying against any new gun-control measures, but a new bipartisan poll shows that both gun owners and the general public support stronger measures to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and other potentially dangerous individuals.
The poll — conducted for the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns — suggests that while far-reaching gun-control legislation seems unlikely to pass, some narrower measures may be able to earn bipartisan support.
Imagine that. That should shake some thunder from the heavens.
Granted, the love for guns in this country always will smolder on, like a fire deep in an old mine. But just maybe the colonization of trigger-happy minds is beginning to expire, and the apocalyptic axis of guns and violence eventually will run out of bullets.
Then again, I’m probably in desperate need of electroshock therapy for even suggesting that may come to pass.

Today more than ever we need to heed, or at least hear, Martin Luther King Jr.'s message of inclusion and human dignity

Today’s federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. has arrived just in the nick of time.
The Tucson tragedy seems to have the masses acting like madmen — dragging their chains and howling at the moon, which suddenly always seems full and never a thin smile.
The griddle of turbulent discord has a flame that throws plenty of heat.
After all, just review the comments on this blog since the Arizona shootings. Whether folks are coming from the left or the right, many seem willing to bite off the heads and suck out the lungs of their political polar opposites.
Which is why all of us should ponder King’s legacy today.
“Dr. King’s message was about inclusion and the recognition of human dignity, of human rights and making sure that all of our voices are heard,” says Imani Perry, an African-American studies professor at Princeton University.
The message of King, the pacifist Southern preacher who championed the civil rights movement and whose own life was cut short by gun violence, is the ideal balm for those seeking solace from today’s venom of dissonance and division.
We must ease the tension that has everyone strung tighter than a piano wire.
Replacing a punch in the mouth with a friendly pelting of rose petals would be a transformative, if unrealistic, start.