Make. It. Stop.

Oh. My. God.  Did you read the news?  The Congressional “Super Committee” failed.  I cannot speak for you, but I was shocked that anyone — including the expert media — believed anything would be accomplished here.  Especially after the House took up and passed such groundbreaking legislation as the determination that pizza is a vegetable.  How can you expect anyone to work after that?  I mean, they’re only human.

Normally, blaming the media feels like a cop-out.  We love to hate the news media when they use their ink and air time covering the Karashians or Snooki and conveniently forget their story selections are based on what we buy.  Don’t care who Brad Pitt is screwing?  Don’t read the tabloids.  In this instance, however they seem to be more than mere spectators.  Andrea Mitchell didn’t see this coming?  If I saw this coming, she should have.  And thus the political media, who build up these paper tigers, feel more complicit.  The coverage of this debacle — as was the deficit ceiling fiasco before it — borders on media malpractice.  Real conversations about serious problems become showdowns at the OK corral, great for ratings but not so much for anything else.

But blaming the media remains a cop-out.  As does blaming the Tea Party.  The Tea Party didn’t cause this problem, they may not be helping but we aren’t here because of them.  Remember they only came on the scene a few years ago.  Even Grover Norquist didn’t cause this.

So, if we cannot blame the media and we cannot blame the right wing (or the left wing) — who caused this?   We did.

President Obama got into trouble when a clip of him calling Americans lazy (ironic given how many GOP presidential candidates have called #OWS protesters lazy and dirty).  I don’t think we are lazy but we are whiny.  We want everything without paying for anything.  Most of us agree that we need a good military, decent education and a host of other programs but we don’t want to pay for them.  The disparity of what we want and what we want to pay for extends beyond taxes and spending: We tell ourselves — and the world — that the US represents the pinacle of exceptionalism and socioeconomic fluidity but we trail most of our peer countries.  Think taxes destroy freedom and rob citizens of happiness?  Don’t tell that to Norway.  Taxes are much higher there — especially when the Value Added Tax (VAT) is included — yet they have the highest standard of living on the planet.

Back to our Congressional conundrum.  We have the Congress we settled for.  Each member is elected to represent their district, their part of the country, their special interests.  By special interests, I do not mean lobbyists but constituents.  Through gerrymandering, a word I learned in junior high school social studies but never thought about until moving to Washington, Congressional districts have been distilled to the point where extreme views are common place.  Our Congresspeople don’t compromise because we don’t want them to.

The Congressional “super committee” was never supposed to succeed; it was set up to do exactly what it did — give the impression of action while doing nothing to accomplish anything.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

Kind of ironic bok title, huh?

Kind of ironic book title, huh?

Herman Cain, aka the pizza magnate and current flavor of the month in the GOP POTUS candidate, has made some interesting choices and statements. He seems to think running for president and selling books are not mutually exclusive activities.

To give him his due, the Cain campaign has bought a lot of his books so he is definitely selling a ton while running for president. And Governor Sarah Palin would tell you her VP run and the speculation about her possible 2012 run did not hurt her book sales but just because you can do something, does not mean you should.

This is not an anti-capitalist view I am trying to promote. Sell as many books as want but it seems a little unseemly to use a presidential run to do it. Any presidential campaign is really a multi-month (or year) job interview for the most (or one of) important jobs in the country. Nothing a candidate does will really prepare anyone to be president (and it’s not supposed to, you should be qualified to run before you make that decision) but it does give the nation a chance to get to know the would be candidates. This is not a time to bring anything but your A game. When you think about that, is this really the time to split your energy between running and doing anything else?

Running for president is hard. Not has hard as being the leader of the free world but it is hard. That’s why I criticized Cenk Uygar when he said that Mike Huckabee was “too fat and happy” to run. I have a lot of respect for people who admit that it takes a lot of time and energy to run and there are no guarantees. Good for you, Governor.

Governor Rick Perry has learned how much harder it is to run for national office (I believe he thought that his track record in Texas would prepare him better for the presidential race) than any state-wide. That’s one of the reasons he has said he may not take part in upcoming debates (not that his underwhelming performances have had any role, seriously, if you cannot stay awake past 8:00 pm, how can you be president?).

Congresswomen Michele Bachmann has learned this, too. Maybe that’s why her New Hampshire staff all quit in a huff. Maybe she thought she could make up facts as she goes along in this campaign the way she does every other time she opens her mouth but it doesn’t seem to be working as well as she thought.

So we come back to the current front-runner (in national polls, though, not the state polls, where it matters more), Herman Cain. It is worth noting that the title of this post could also refer to Godfather’s pizza. With all due respect to Chicago deep dish pizza lovers, you can theoretically make pizza outside of New York, but why would you?

Full disclosure, which is pretty obvious to anyone who has met me or read what I write, I am a liberal Democrat and have every intention of voting for President Obama. Having said that, I think having two robust parties and a vigorous discussion about where we want the country to go, is in everyone’s best interest. I was really impressed when Governor Chris Christie said that he believes in “small government, lower taxes and less regulation,” not because I agree with ANY of that, in fact I do NOT, but that’s where our conversation should be.

Herman Cain is not advancing our political discourse at all. His economic plan (the “9/9/9” or “9/0/9”) would be disastrous. His ignorance of foreign policy is scary. It is his lack of interest in running for office, while he runs, that bothers me the most. With little or no campaign infrastructure, few details on his policy proposals and a general laissez-faire attitude towards the process, I am left with the thought that if he doesn’t care about his campaign, why should anyone?