Foul Nectar of the Beatdown

Aquarian Weekly 11/11/09 REALITY CHECK

FOUL NECTAR OF THE BEATDOWN
New Republicanism & The New York Yankees Carry The Day

November can be a cruel month for some. Turkeys would not describe it as a “fine time”. Turkey blood flows freely when the October calendar turns and the winds blow cold. Their slaughter is complete and in great numbers. Turkeys would be glad to tell you what it is like to be absolutely certain that you are doomed. But, alas, they cannot. Politicians and Major League Baseball players have to do it for them. Perhaps the Philadelphia Phillies and Andy Spano and Jon Corzine and nearly the entirety of the Democratic Party’s line-up in Virginia can best define the brutal finality of being on the receiving end of The Beatdown.

jc & Rob Astorino on Election NightPoor Andy Spano. By late Tuesday, with four tall gins and a hat borrowed from Doctor Thompson’s kitbag, I watched solemnly as his battered and humiliated image appeared on the giant screen set up in the main ballroom of the Crowne Plaza. Over at the Rye Hilton, his aids had to wake him from what they said later was a “shock coma” to shuffle desperately onto a podium and explain how a 12-year incumbent in a three-to-one Democratic district could be severely thrashed by a 42- year-old broadcaster named Rob Astorino.

Astorino told me earlier that despite the odds he’d never felt calmer. The Cuban tending bar in the Scarsdale Room downstairs depicted the challenger’s demeanor as strangely confident; something between the last man at a blackjack table who is sure the bitty on his left will take a hit on 18 and leave him with his Ace and the cold, dark Mariano Rivera stare before he unloads another ungodly bat-shattering cutter to sting the knuckles of his helpless opponent.

Rivera, a pitching machine, who is to closing baseball games as Picasso was to slapping together a new art form between barely legals, is in many ways for the World Champion NY Yankees what the voter became to a vulnerable candidate like Andy Spano; the death knell. There is a bell that tolls when the hour is late and Number 42 is toeing the rubber. It is an abstract reverberation, like being smacked in the face with a scalding wet rice sack. There is a stinging heat, followed by an awareness of pain that does not soon fade; permanence in pinstripes.

Fiscal conservatism carried the day as much as good old Yankees mystique in a brand, spanking new stadium did.

Ah, but fate, like baseball, has a way of bringing home the pure-cut doses of reality only the loser can accept with any proper emotional prescience. Although it turned out Spano had no serviceable answer for his defeat, nor did the several stunned members of the Westchester press corps. Several of the more confused among them flailed their arms about twice spilling my eleven-dollar cocktail and putting a scare into the victor’s first-born son, Sean, my godchild, and a hearty soul who told me that his father would not only win on this night, but “dominate”. His words, not mine.

By the time we reached the staging area, Spano was finishing up his concession speech across town, still being streamed in living color on a massive screen with drunken louts gripping nude photos of Sarah Palin and shouting expletives at him.

“That’s pretty harsh,” said Astorino’s treasurer, Laura Schwartz, who had once shared press credentials with me to the Yankees last titles in 1999 and 2000. We found the entire scene oddly serendipitous, together awaiting Astorino’s victory speech mere feet from a rostrum jam-packed with half-crazed Republicans, each of whom wanted a small piece of The Beatdown.

“This is a crude form of poetic justice,” I told Schwartz, “a job only Walt Whitman can distinguish properly.”

Ignoring my observations, she pointed sadly up to Spano’s final steps from politics and whispered, “Look at how his bones sag; there’s a ghostly fog upon him, as if soul has been plunged in battery acid.”

“My God, woman!” I shouted. “To hell with Whitman, get a pen!”

But there were no pens; only a rabble of sign wavers hooting and chanting Astorino’s name. I kept thinking of the right field pavilion at Yankee Stadium for Game 2 of this year’s World Series; where the wife and I watched the Bronx Nine get off the mat down 0-1 to begin a four-out-of-five clip of winning that within a week would secure the franchise’s 27th title. Beneath the din of bestial fanaticism before us, it became apparent that this was no ordinary autumn.

The Yankees would win with the great Rivera on the mound, a vindicated A-Rod having turned his wrecked image and October baseball into something out Homer and, of course, the inimitable Derek Jeter sprinting in from his shortstop position having finished a post season wherein he collected an unfathomable 22 hits in 18 games for his fifth ring. But none of this transpired before a Republican named Chris Christie ousted incumbent favorite Jon Corzine for New Jersey governor.

Corzine and Christie ran a hate-filled smear-fest that ended badly for Corzine when he foolishly relied on the same “strong” Democratic base as the blindsided Spano. But the 47 year-old Christie, like Astorino, culled moderate Democrats and a boatload of angry independents with a newly formed but proved to be unbeatable Libertarian populist, anti-tax, anti-big government mantra. Long gone from these Republican tickets, albeit a smaller sampling than the routs of ’08 and the soon-to-be discussed challenges of 2010, were the divisive social issues that have turned many conservative dinosaurs like Rush Limbaugh into powder. It’s over for Limbaugh’s 1950s’ style politics and the sooner the national party understands this the better chance it has to rise from the ashes.

Fiscal conservatism carried the day as much as good old Yankees mystique in a brand, spanking new stadium did. That and the usual flip-flop mentality of the electorate which collectively expects to be given everything and not pay for it, which ultimately cost the progressives in a small but significant way in 2009. And while the young, bold Astorino is a proud religious man and runs the Catholic Channel for Sirius Radio, he also said without equivocation that his faith and social ideologies were not the issue; lowering the tax burden and responsibility in government was.

There is a new stadium in the Bronx with the same results. Will this be the start of a new century of republicanism?

It was no ordinary November.

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Rob Astorino In The Land Of Scum

Aquarian Weekly 10/29/09 REALITY CHECK

ROB ASTORINO; FRIEND & COLLEAGUE IN THE LAND OF SCUM
Rob Astorino
Not one hour ago I received a link to a story in the Journal News that turned my stomach, something that rarely happens to cynical old hacks who’ve not only seen but done it all twice. It seems that during the previous day’s debate between candidates for the county’s executive position at Pace University, the incumbent, 72 year-old Democrat Andrew Spano saw fit to frame his Republican opponent, 42 year-old Robert Astorino’s economic policies as racist. Spano, after a dozen years in office, the duration of which Westchester’s tax bracket has elevated to that of A-Rod, the Clintons or the guy who owns Madison Square Garden is finally being challenged and has gone the predictable ugly route.

Spano’s been around the block more than once and let’s face it maybe one time too many. He knows what he said and how it would be extrapolated; Astorino’s policies — “a cover for racism” — make the candidate a racist. This appears to be the new political “buzz” word, as was “commie” in the fifties and “subversive” in the sixties and “undesirable” in the seventies and, whenever the urge strikes, throw Nazi in there for good measure.

Sure its politics as usual, covered here with a sense of spiteful apathy and smarmy humor weekly. In fact, it’s completely understandable and sadly probable from our perspective; who doesn’t choose panic and mudslinging over an exchange of ideas? It is nothing else if not entertaining, which goes a long way when you sit where I do. Problem is this time the target of this gutless attack is someone I know well and sincerely respect.

I can tell you firsthand from a long-standing personal and working history with the candidate that neither Rob Astorino nor his proposed fiscal polices are racist. In fact, knowing Rob as I do, stooping to this ham-fisted attempt at demonizing speaks more of his opponent’s spectacular lack of honor, not to mention his lazily conceived and doom-addled strategy.

While being a professional colleague of mine for nearly twenty years, during which he has displayed nothing but an enviable commitment to ethics in all forms, Rob has managed to succeed at the impossible; competing in two vocations replete with soulless bottom-feeding degenerates; journalism and politics, while maintaining an unwavering comportment that is impervious to corruption. Despite this reporter’s repulsive dereliction of scruples and frightening lack of integrity, he has called me friend; as I, him. And as I gracelessly careen towards the half century mark, it is not a term I dare use loosely. Robert is indeed a friend; a true bedrock warrior in the infinite roll call we all must cherish when the karma winds shift in weirdly unpredictably directions.

This is why for years now I have been reticent to use this hoarsely sacred weekly voice to champion his political causes, which has currently taken him through his second campaign for County Executive of Westchester, NY.

It’s Rob’s dream to make a difference. I know, because he has told me so, against all the bitter advice I have given him beneath the pall of such nonsense as “making a difference” or “changing the game for my kids”, and all the other piddling garbage most politicians regurgitate to justify some ego binge in which we’re supposed to comply.

Not Astorino.

I can tell you firsthand from a long-standing personal and working history with the candidate that neither Rob Astorino nor his proposed fiscal polices are racist. In fact, knowing Rob as I do, stooping to this ham-fisted attempt at demonizing speaks more of his opponent’s spectacular lack of honor, not to mention his lazily conceived and doom-addled strategy.

He does not run for accolade or some opaque definition of love and acceptance. He’s nailed that in several solid gigs in radio and television, and built it at home with his wife and three children. Neither does he run merely to win and then turn into a tired political lifer mannequin like his opponent. He runs for the sheer youthful passion of proving that democracy must begin and end with the will of the people, that to deny your neighbors a choice against the status quo is the ultimate act of unpatriotic cowardice. He runs because every once in a long while someone needs to prove the entire system is not a bust.

Yet, with all of that before me; kinship, professional respect and a story worth telling, I still felt in light of the subjective no-brakes miasma that normally fills this column that it was somehow inappropriate to comment. But when hit with this bullshit, which tops all the other bullshit hurled at Rob for trying to oust a man whose sense of decency has even managed to make me, a mean-spirited, black-hearted iniquity machine, nauseous, I could be silent no longer.

So in the interest of complete disclosure, I admit to my support in all facets of the Astorino campaign, his generosity in offering me full access for a book I’d planned to write a few times but was curtailed by one assignment after the other, and finally, despite an unabashed commitment to an existence of derelict paganism, standing as godfather for his first born.

Thus, I will guiltlessly forge ahead.

I do not know Andrew Spano from the proverbial wall’s hole, but I can clearly deduct from his actions in this campaign and the consecutively botched years at a job he is patently incapable of performing that he is a barely functioning fear-mongering dunderhead who has outlived any possible usefulness to the body politic but refuses to give up the ghost for either some bizarre state of euphoric inertia or sheer madness.

Whether you’re Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative, any race, creed or color, there is something passe about Spano’s tired shtick in which in many ways a young idealist like Astorino, whatever you think of his policies, should always replace. This is what I believe fueled this country in 2008 — more than race or ideology. Eventually it’s just time for a new generation, a fresh voice to offer an alternative idea without the clatter which drowns it out, from town hall goofiness to debate wrangling.

Lord knows I’m not saying Spano has no right to spout fallacies or get rough and loose with the truth, even in light of his disastrous HUD deal that will likely bankrupt what is already the second highest taxed county in America. On the contrary, that kind of thing allows us contact with the core of a person’s balance, both intellectually and morally. It certainly puts a face to cheap politics. It is sad and it is decrepit and it should be sent packing.

Who knows what the voters will believe or carry with them into the privacy of the polling booth? Not sure who wins these battles of finger-wagging childishness after all. Not the people, I know that much. All I can offer without hesitation or regret is that after watching a tape of the entire debate, Andrew Spano, hardly a novice in this political landscape, was waxed verily by my friend, and when push came to shove grasped desperately at demeaning his opponent and then blatantly lied about Rob Astorino’s agenda and heart, and when given the opportunity, refused to retract it. Therefore his credibility on everything else he stands for is in question.

This makes Rob Astorino the better man.

Let’s hope the better man wins.

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Solutions For U.S. Health Care 2009

Aquarian Weekly 10/14/09 REALITY CHECK

SOLUTIONS (SORT OF) FOR NATIONAL HEALTH CARE Climbing Down From The Fence To Make The Hard Choices There is little chance anything resembling a pittance of national health care reform will be constructed much less passed through the legislative branch of our government any time soon. The time has long passed for any binding bi-partisan resolution on this subject, as if this was even a realistic consideration in the first place, and perhaps that is a good thing. Anything this convoluted and as incompetently debated is best left dormant. It’s far better to just leave things the way they are. It’s the American way. Laziness, fear, and stupidity are our most precious resources now. We invent little and manufacture less with a national psyche so ill-suited for life’s harsh realities we substitute celebrity outrages as the crudest form of original thought.

Uninsured American YouthThe sensitive reader may consider these observations mean-spirited or perhaps an ironic subjugation to the very points listed; so to be fair, we shall provide a quick example and move on to the more salient points.

Before sitting down to write this morning, I noticed a newsflash that the president of the United States has won the Nobel Peace Prize, no more an insignificant piece of information could be presented when compared to the greater issues before us. Nonetheless, it will doubtless take up at least one if not two news cycles, celebrated by Mr. Obama’s supporters, derided by his opponents, and manifest into another in a series of idiotic referendums on his executive position and personal affect; not unlike the utterly moronic and endless yammering about his bid to procure the Olympics for the United States.

In both cases, laziness, fear and stupidity jump to the fore: (Laziness) No one has the slightest idea how the Olympics base their choice of country, who makes this call, and what the effect a head of state may or may not have on the outcome, just like hardly a soul has any idea what the Nobel Peace prize is, what it stands for or who the hell doles these things out in the first place. (Fear) Placing great import on this “story” as a barometer of success or failure for a presidency or the personality that holds it only serves to battle resistance, which is considered by lazy people as a kind of barrier to a personal love or hate of said individual. (Stupidity) Well…

This brings us to a breakdown of National Health Care as it applies not necessarily to a solution or even a steadfast defense of or opposition to certain key issues, as it will show that true reform or clear restructuring of a most pressing and pertinent issue is often parried with no real focus on the hard choices.

To wit:

ESTHETIC SURGERY, DEATH PANELS & ABORTION AID

The first issue at hand when you consider National Health Care is that there are too many of us, and we all want to be thin, good-looking and live to see as many World Series as possible. I get it. But what is the greater good for society; that you cut out unsightly fat and tuck drooping skin, create as many useless human burdens as you wish, and live into decrepit old age to suck every last drop of resources – utilities and medicines to keep you breathing, nurses and assistance to move you around, shelter and sustenance to keep you going – and for what? Take up space? So your love ones can watch you breathe? Hard choices must be made; they are made every day by insurance companies. More people are sent into the void by lack of funds than any other reason, just as a preponderance of surgeries is selective and not crucial. Call it a Death Panel or common sense. Humans do not posses the dignity of elephants. Deal with it.

MANDATORY INSURANCE FOR YOUTH

Other than education, insurance is the one commodity Americas are willing to pay for, and pay for abundantly, and not receive. And more times than not when received, it is shoddy, rationed or denied in full.

The youth are a drain on our society; they’re relentless metabolic explosions, sexual rapaciousness, and penchant for all-things speed, mind-altering substances and overall daily attempts at cheating death cannot continue to go unchecked. Don’t tell me every time you see these mass protests with tear gas and baton beatings by police, rock concert mosh pits or shirtless goons at sub-zero football games, you’re not getting out the national debt calculator? An alarming percentage of these cretins are undeniably wild and most pressingly uninsured. I should know, I was one of them, to the point where my parents had to get special (just incase he impales himself or his liver implodes or is felled by fast-food abuse we will not be ruined) insurance. Freedom comes with a price, which is to be determined.

INSURANCE COMPANY DEMISE

Whether expanded competition across state lines, tort reform, single-payer options or one blanketed health insurance plan, it sure as hell beats any argument made by or for insurance companies, which work en masse on a principle that amounts to the biggest scam in the history of capitalism. Other than education, insurance is the one commodity Americas are willing to pay for, and pay for abundantly, and not receive. And more times than not when received, it is shoddy, rationed or denied in full. But hey, this is a free trade society and insurance companies, despite their heart-warming slogans and tearful ads are in business to make money, not give it away. Charities are for that, and even those are questionable at best. The very existence of companies based on taking money that will only be returned if and when disaster hits, and then arbitrarily deciding if the type of disaster merits a return on your funds is simply a horror show worth destroying. When people argue about the incompetence of the federal government, they are correct, but when compared to the lawlessly insidious practice of any insurance firm, it pales.

MORALITY

Finally, we come to the Big American Lie; that this country was built and is governed on a moral construct, that we have a universal and binding obligation to our citizenry to ensure the overall well-being of our future safety and continued happiness. By buying this nonsense we cannot make the hard choices that are needed for national survival. It is the freedom to pursue personal joy, create a political landscape to control one’s own environment, and finally to protect what can be prized from this faintly controlled anarchy with every fiber of our being that has erected this 233 year experiment into the richest and most powerful free society known to modern civilization. All this laziness, fear and stupidity is part of the very human nature we attempt to regulate, pigeonhole, and judge when we begin the challenging climb out of the muck. More times than not, wallowing in the muck beats the climb. It’s too hard, too scary, and too complicated a climb. We know muck. Give us muck; religion, television, and the occasional thrill, we’ll be fine.

 

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Afghanistan: The Original Quagmire

Aquarian Weekly 10/7/09 REALITY CHECK

AFGHANISTAN: THE ORIGINAL QUAGMIRE The United States must leave Afghanistan now.

Not in eleven months or after careful discussion and continued study to determine an undisclosed time, but now.

Soon after, it must leave Iraq.

Desert Quagmire: The SequelThese and other difficult but sound decisions are only debatable because it is today, and not four or five or six years ago when these hard choices should have been made, instead of the slack-jawed flag-waving, ribbon-tying jingoistic miasma we received. Back then, if you had asked any voter if this country would still be embroiled in two wars seven or eight years on, they would have chuckled, even bristled with fear and fobbed it off as doom-speak and defeatist thinking by a paranoiac borne of anti-American rhetoric.

If only we could have employed a time machine and fast-forwarded the mood then to now, we may have seen how literally insane it is to continue to call what is going on in the Middle East a policy or a strategy or any clearly defined idea that unfolds into a serviceable conclusion.

But, alas, there will be no conclusion. It will drag on another five, ten years. And when it threatens to die down something else will pop up to take its place. Iran? North Korea? Maybe it will finally spill over into the real threat, Saudi Arabia or maybe the home base of true tyrannical charm, China. Nah, too much money to be made; comrades of convenience can abuse all the civil rights and unleash all the terrorists they please, just keep the oil and loans a-comin’.

Ah, but, don’t fret; you can wager for the rest of your natural born life there will be American foreign military presence wasting our money and stealing our children to not “win” somewhere.

And what the hell is “win” anyway? Can anyone describe what a victory over terrorism would look like? Is it possible? Of course the answer to these and other rhetorically sarcastic queries is no. It is not possible. It will be as it is now; nothing but stemming the tide, waiting them out, bleeding them dry, showing strength, taking the fight to them, all adding up to a slag heap of blood and treasure that will surely bankrupt the United States as it did the last in a long series of history’s fading super powers, the Soviet Union.

Nope, there will be no exiting Afghanistan or Iraq anytime soon.

And why not?

The government needs it.

War is nothing more than another in a spectacular line-up of wasteful, inefficient, badly orchestrated and overly funded government programs.

All these yahoos waving signs about tyranny and government take-overs of Health Care had better start turning their attention to our greatest mismanaged money-pit; the War Machine. With the money poured annually in this finger-in-the-dam waiting it out policy in the Middle East you could bankroll the education, health concerns and retirement of the entirety of North, Central and South America.

War is nothing more than another in a spectacular line-up of wasteful, inefficient, badly orchestrated and overly funded government programs.

This is why our president is “taking time to sort out details on Afghanistan” or some such falderal. When running for the office in 2007, Barack Obama visited Afghanistan and concluded that it was not only winnable but crucial to the war effort, then campaigned diligently on the “right vs. wrong” war ideology: Iraq = Wrong, Afghanistan = Right. The imbecilic college rah-rah mentality of grass roots political hysteria took this as some kind of anti-war slant, just as the poor suckers who were waiting for Obama to legalize gay marriage or even drugs — the latter of which, by the way, would defeat the Taliban in less than thirty days while also rescuing our suicidal farming industry.

But that must all seem like a dream to Joe Cool now that at the conclusion of the bloodiest month in Afghanistan in eight years of baseless meandering, the president hasn’t bothered to speak to the general running things over there but once since he was sworn in. Oh, and before people are all up in arms about this nugget of info, where has your press been? More importantly, where has your outrage been? Since the blatantly fascist ban on the control of the media’s coverage of returning coffins was lifted, only the Associated Press bothers to cover the dead shipped back from these completely useless and utterly winless exercises in abject murder and destruction, all under the appropriation of our beloved nation and on our dime.

Shit, did you even know that Cindy Sheehan is still protesting out there?

Yet, without our vocal participation, much of which is wasted daily investigating the president’s citizenship, which party asshole might be calling the other nitwit a killer, whose lousy children are being indoctrinated into some political mind frap, and an agonizing series of insignificant television personalities trading on unchecked hearsay as some kind of invincible factoid, the powers that be continue to dangle these criminal acts of global stupidity as if a philosophical, and worse still, political carrot of victory. And for the oddest of reasons, we as a people continue to bankroll and support this crap, and allow our brave and impressionable youth the fast lane to its slaughter.

When it comes to endless military campaigns, America goes beyond simple amnesia; it dabbles in a rare stew of revisionist lying and slapdash illusions sold as patriotism. Thus, we are trained to swallow impish notions that to cease making one abysmal mistake after the next is “cutting and running” or “giving up” or forefend, “quitting”.

This, of course, is nonsense, like most of the lies perpetuated by the Dullard Brigade; many of whom with different names from different ages poured our money and blood into stone-cold failures in Korea and Viet Nam and now Iraq and soon Afghanistan.

The Democrats won’t stop it. The Republicans sure won’t. Congress refuses and the president, the one who rightly railed against this cycle of madness appears to be fine with letting it continue.

Of course the generals keep asking for more troops. This is what generals do. Then the guilty and confused in the legislature come running to us with their hands out to get us to pay for it. This is how it goes, over and over and over and over and over until you are dead and a new set of saps take the reigns.

Forget about the national debt and political ideologies weighing heavy on the future of our children.

They’ll be too busy fighting and dying for that endless and most popular, bipartisan government program: War.

 

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Jimmy Carter’s Race Illusion

Aquarian Weekly 9/23/09 REALITY CHECK

THE RACE ILLUSION Jimmy Carter’s Insult As Excuse-Making

I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man. – Jimmy Carter

Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter, America’s political equivalent of Liz Taylor, who emerges every so often to stammer out the most insane gibberish known to freethinking man, used the NBC Nightly News this week to offer his derision of Southern whites and summarily branded the opposing voices to this president, an African-American, and his policies as racist. The former president’s descent into dementia was evident a few years ago while promoting a book on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, unfortunately entitled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, when an otherwise brilliant thinker haphazardly framed an almost amazingly infantile argument that would please many half-wits comparing the current Healthcare debate to Nazi Germany. And so it was then that Carter clearly established a preternatural need to turn vague comparisons into unflinching accusation, as if it were as simple as comparing a headache to decapitation.

Thus, his latest half-baked comments to a visibly flabbergasted Brian Williams, who was caught somewhere between the glee of a man with a scoop on his hands and an empathetic character wishing somehow the old fool would trail off into the sunset, has a familiar ring to it: Disrespect for the office of president, his policies and his authority, is nothing less than veiled racial discrimination.

Bad move. Not constructive. Distracting.

The thing is, although it was as cheap and weak as the defenders of the last president calling everyone unpatriotic, I get Carter’s point. He is a proud Southerner, born and bred in a time when Jim Crow laws ruled and a random lynching was part of the Sunday morning church activities. He’s nauseated by and sensitive to these issues, like say, Bill Cosby, who also felt the need to weigh in on the subject; a proud black man, who was wrongly denied his rights in a time of segregation and systemic violence against his people. I get it. We all get it.

However, nobody needs Jimmy Carter and Bill Cosby comparing those with opposing views to a sickeningly large number of card-carrying racist dummies in the South and by proxy their representatives like Joe Wilson from South Carolina, who has spent his entire time down there defending the flying of the Confederate Flag above the state capitol as some kind of noble Southern legacy, instead of what it actually represents; the total and utter defeat of America’s greatest crime against humanity.

This is all common knowledge, but how it reflects on the current debate about Healthcare or any other discussion of our current president’s policies, or how he is “treated” in the face of them, is patently unfair and frankly further muddies an already sludge-filled river of nonsense emanating from all sides.

This president, this time, and this place are all the beginnings of a healing period on this subject that has rarely been as pivitol in the national politic.

Not to mention that broaching racism now flies in the face of the most momentous and game-changing elections in our great country’s tarnished history. A mere nine months after a substantial majority of Americans of all race, creed and color were dancing in the streets, shouting soliloquies from rooftops and filling the columns of major international newspapers with well-deserved celebration, and after a remarkable number of whites, suburban, urban or otherwise (48%, in fact) voted for the first African-American to lead a major ticket for president of the United States, its suddenly all about race now?

Ill-timed. Ill-conceived. Insulting.

Especially in defense of the very man who while running for the nation’s highest office never initiated the playing of the race card to curry favor or defend his right to lead. Only after ridiculous charges of terrorist sympathies and cloudy origins and a strange middle name was he forced to identify the elephant in the room; and even then he balked at the chance to challenge why his opponent, John McCain spent years trying to deny and eventually voted against making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday.

This president knew the score better than any of us when he decided to take on this challenge two years ago, something his Democratic opponent, a woman, didn’t get until it was too late. Not being the white, Anglo-Saxon cookie-cutter would be an easy target, but at the same time cannot be touched for fear of being labeled, and to be labeled in this country is the nastiest of things. It keeps us from offering opinions that we really mean and then retract post-backlash.

What is most disturbing about posing even the most extremist dissent as racism is it lends itself to the promotion of Victimhood, another American staple. Oh, poor Mr. Obama. He has no chance against the rowdy, gun toting, Bible freaks! What? He’s the fucking president. He was chosen as such during the most widely reported and highly attended election on record. He has the Constitution at his back and the army at his disposal.

Secondly, and most importantly, this entire mess completely ignores the main tactic used against presidents by their opponents; a scheme as old as the powdered wigs capping the skulls of the founders of this grand experiment. It is Politics 101, and it has been used against every chief executive since I’ve been sucking air — Kennedy was a Roman Catholic beholden to the Pope, Reagan was a doddering old fart capable of incinerating us all, Bush senior was a wimp and his baby boy a dim bulb, Clinton was a slick hippy and our beloved Jimmy Carter a dumb hick.

The stereotype the opposition has laid on Barack Obama is less about his color than he being this media-created myth, a neophyte who is incapable of leadership and thus a tool of the Democratic machine. Who knows anything about this guy? The unknown newbie, ushered into an office he barely deserves to steal bald eagles and piss on the Constitution.

Blah, blah, blah.

No one in recent memory had flown into the White House on the wings of such reverent falderal as Barack Obama, and because of this the opposition must mock, deride, and take the guy down a peg or two. It is the very core of what we do here in this space; peck away at the two-dimensional facade and see what remains. Whining about it only emboldens the charade. This is why the president immediately derided Carter’s comments as not constructive and hardly representative of his stance.

Race?

It will always play a big part of what’s going down; but to reduce it to a political tactic equal to the boorish attacks it faintly hopes to defuse is amateurish at best and at its worst plain ugly. This president, this time, and this place are all the beginnings of a healing period on this subject that has rarely been as pivitol in the national politic.

Women and minorities received their day in the public arena like no other this past November. It was rousing success. One I thought impossible. To return now to the standard hue and cry is tired 20th century thinking.

It’s the equivalent of painting those of us who think Sarah Palin a voodoo simpleton as misogynistic hate mongers.

Nice try.

 

 

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Final Battle For U.S. Healthcare 2009

Aquarian Weekly 9/16/09 REALITY CHECK

HOPEVILLE IN AUTUMN

This debate has become less about facts than emotions. – Joe Scarborough

Political animals, real political animals, know virgin territory when they see it. This kind of thing can create weird currents and strange vacuums and absorb concussive effects unrecognized to the untrained eye. The efficient aggressor can use it as a rare opportunity for marking territory. In fact, identifying uncharted political and social terrain is one of this space’s specialties, recognizing when events go sideways and judging how the true professionals own it. Aristotle was a pro. Cincinnatus. That crazy idiot who runs South Carolina.

Joe Cool Makes His CaseThis past Wednesday, Barack Obama proved his political pedigree, unleashing his thus far unforeseen feral side in an historic address to congress upon its autumnal reconvening. All the tell-tell signs were there; the snarl, the unflinching spring-loaded crouch poised to mutilate whatever remains of a National Healthcare debate. It was evident in his tone; combative with overtures of indignation and a sousance of schmaltz.

Presidents prepared to horsewhip lawmakers, plead with the electorate, and make certain everyone within earshot knows whose boss can provide a most revelatory experience. And believe me, political animals can smell a member of the pride from miles away.

It was, ultimately, this president’s finest speech, as noted by NY Times columnist, David Brooks on PBS soon afterwards — the best since the campaign’s Race Speech. But it was, without argument, overtly and unapologetically political; from the opening salvo, which conjured the independently spirited Teddy Roosevelt, whose anti-establishmentarianism status has gained traction in recent decades, all the way to the shameless grand finale, a tearful tribute to the Left’s late hero, Ted Kennedy. It toed the difficult line between paying backhanded lip service to bipartisanship while ripping the opposition new holes. Mostly it accomplished its only pertinent goal, to galvanize a recently dispirited and fractured Democratic base spewing queer demands on half-baked ultimatums.

The address’ most important point, however, was its stake of historical claim, which is exactly what is transpiring in Washington right now as you read this; for never in any lifetime has Healthcare Reform gotten this must traction, caused this much furor, or moved this far down the legislative line. For the first time even fellow cynics are willing to admit that this puppy might even come to a vote, unlike the recently quashed Cap & Trade fiasco.

It was crisp, chock full of luster, and at times a king-hell romp. The problem is it is a speech he should have given three months ago.

There is a sense now, and you can almost feel it seep through the television as Republicans squirmed in their seats, shouting random hoots and waving copies of dissenting bills, that this idea of avoiding a head-on collision with Joe Cool is a dream fast dying. Ask South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson, who confused the chamber with a Dylan Goes Electric concert and blurted out “Liar!” twice. By morning, reeling Republican officials were shoving him out the door to blubber a half-assed apology.

It is becoming more and more evident by the day that this issue will have to finally be settled in the realm of law and not in the ambivalence of popular opinion or beneath the din of stupidity. The country is fast losing patience with the issue, and the months of incoherence coming from the founders of this movement has left ample room for Myth-Making 101. The president made more than veiled references to this throughout the hour-long address, affecting an anger lost on his first nine months in office.

It was crisp, chock full of luster, and at times a king-hell romp. The problem is it is a speech he should have given three months ago. It was nothing more than a pep talk, a call to arms. What was needed was a final summation, a forceful, undeniable framework. But instead of a singular push for one signature agenda, a strongly worded manifesto for an actual bill the president would sign, we received vague examples of what can be worked out through determination and an understanding of its gravity. And although it is admirable this mostly liberal president could begin to broach opening interstate insurance competition or visiting tort reform, it has become laughable that a wide range of options and back-to-the-drawing-board rhetoric is still passing for a proclamation.

The failure to hit concrete points like the who and how of its bankrolling (made more curious the day after when even prominent Democrats were waiting on number-crunchers to figure how in the world $900 billion over ten years would pay for this thing) was manifest upon a reading of the transcript the next morning. Without the drama and inflection of the performance there seemed to be nothing in the text that answers the key questions, and since the Democrats have no one even close to this guy’s ability to communicate, trouble still brews.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are also slowly splitting at the seams. There is the tried and true political animal salivating from The Right refusing to cast a vote for anything that would hand this president a much-needed first term victory, one in which has avoided chief executives for nearly a century. Then there is a growing contingent of moderates and survivalists (political animals all) lead by Maine Senator Olympia Snow, who understands all to well that being on the wrong side of history is not a wise move. If the train has left the station, it is better to not be left on the platform with nary a voice or anyone to bow to. But they have also learned the lessons from the Democrats who voted with fervor for an unpopular and badly conceived war, only to be buried by its abysmal results. This has now become the new administration’s gamble, as Iraq was the last go-round.

This time, however, unlike a few poor souls being shipped halfway across the globe on the wave of flimsy excuses, we’re all on the front lines now.

 

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Edward Moore Kennedy 1932 – 2009

Aquarian Weekly 9/2/09 REALITY CHECK

EDWARD MOORE KENNEDY — 1932 – 2009

Ted KennedyIt is a good thing Ted Kennedy is Irish Catholic. He is going to heaven. That’s how it works. No matter what kind of sham your life is, what type of negligent homicide you’re guilty of, scores of hypocrisy you’ve dabbled in, and the fraudulent legacy you leave behind, the slate is clean. They bring a priest in, throw some incense on you and you’re fast-tracked to the pearly gates. And if there’s something akin to the heaven the Kennedy’s believe in, then Mary Jo Kopechne will be waiting there to greet him; the beautiful, young Boiler Room Girl with bouncy blonde locks and a dazzling New England smile standing across from the ravaged, wrinkled, cancer-ridden shell of the man who left her to drown in a dark inlet at Chappaquiddick 40 years ago.

And if there is a God, she will kick him squarely in the testicles. Twice.

It is a heartwarming story worthy of Revelation; the part of the Holy Bible where it all comes to pass — the shit rain, the seven-headed beasts, bottomless chasms, and the torture of the unrepentant. Humanity, in a phrase, is “kicked in the testicles”. Twice.

It is a book Ted Kennedy knew well. Every Kennedy knew Revelation backwards and forwards. Mother Rose insisted on it. She made them read it aloud every night before cookies and milk, later admitting it was a veiled attempt to wipe away the terrible iniquities of her husband, the racist bootlegger, who after visiting 1930s’ Germany framed the Jewish slaughter in Europe this way: “They brought it on themselves.” Later, the patriarch became a master at fixing elections, buying off laws, and hosting Senator Joseph McCarthy and his loving family up at Martha’s Vineyard for weekend detentes on how to “strip Commie Jew bastards of their rights”.

But despite the insanity of their parents and the ill-gotten fortune they would exploit to power, three of the four Kennedy boys became victims; the eldest, Joseph Jr. in World War II, and Jack and Robert to assassins’ bullets two decades later. Not baby, boy, Ted. He was a survivor. He was the one Kennedy that understood the lessons of Revelation. The Big Bad Senator had to look out for Number One. And this philosophy served him well for 47 years of public service.

Edward M. Kennedy was the genetic run-off of America’s Royal Family; a boorish toad of a man with the scruples of a desperate crack addict and the brains of a dung beetle. Everything he stood for or achieved was bought for him, handed down from the crimes of greater men and far more accomplished cretins. He was a failure and a geek and caused so much family embarrassment he was repeatedly sent on beer runs during the famous shirtless Kennedy football games. He was booted from Harvard as a dumb ass jock and stumbled into the Senate in a cesspool’s sludge of nepotism.

Edward M. Kennedy was the genetic run-off of America’s Royal Family; a boorish toad of a man with the scruples of a desperate crack addict and the brains of a dung beetle. Everything he stood for or achieved was bought for him, handed down from the crimes of greater men and far more accomplished cretins.

His professional career consisted of manic bluster on inconsistent drivel, including flip-flopping on abortion whenever it benefited him. He personally screwed two Democratic presidential candidates by stringing the party along like a coquettish debutante; leaving the doomed George McGovern to choose a shock-treatment patient for vice president during a cantankerous convention the Kennedy Camp ignited. Four years later, Kennedy blew his best chance at the White House when his shameless behavior of six years earlier — leaving a girl to die on a drunken night of lunacy with his pregnant wife convalescing at home — forced him to back out. Four years hence, he and his cronies haunted the weakened incumbent in a nasty primary race, all-but sealing the fate of an embattled Jimmy Carter. Minutes before the death rattle, Kennedy ignored party diplomacy and snubbed the president on the convention stage, symbolically hoarding his delegates and creating what later would become the Reagan Democrats.

Kennedy wasn’t even a decent drunk; surpassed by his first wife, Virginia Joan Bennett’s Herculean consumption of barbiturates and vodka. Mrs. Kennedy’s lasting comment on living with Teddy was she eventually had to check into several rehab stints after trying to drive her car off a cliff in a botched escape scheme. But escape she did in 1978, separating from Kennedy, but inconceivably remaining married to aid his botched1980 presidential run before divorcing him outright the next year.

Even from the grave Teddy remains a survivor. Just this week, on his deathbed, Kennedy lobbied to strike a 2004 law he championed to let the naming of his successor fall into the hands of the governor rather than the previous law, which handed it over to a special election, a process that could drag on for months and leave a crucial Democratic seat open for the eventual vote on Health Care Reform; his lifelong political objective.

It was a seamy, partisan, almost mean-spirited move, but summed up what Ted Kennedy, like any servable political survivor excels at. And no one clinging to this ragged democracy should begrudge him. Ted’s problem was that he could never keep his mouth shut when the other side pulled the same treacherous chicanery. He flew into a rage upon the pardoning of Richard Nixon in 1974, only four years after his Chappaquiddick fiasco, mustering the gall to comment, “Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?”

Kennedy’s spectacular exercise in hypocrisy was also on display during his vocal attacks on Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork in 1986 and Clarence Thomas in 1991, the latter of which he had to slink away due to its “sexual harassment” theme, something the Kennedy boys, and most assuredly Teddy Boy turned into an art form. In fact, only weeks before the hearings, the senator’s nephew, William Kennedy Smith was arrested on rape charges, allegedly meeting the victim at a bar with his soused uncle.

I am proud to say in the wake of his passing, having thrown words down for public consumption over 20 years and in this space for a dozen now, I have never, ever written a single positive thing about Ted Kennedy.

Until now.

He was no Jesse Helms.

 

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Last Temptation Of Obama

Aquarian Weekly 8/26/09 REALITY CHECK

LAST TEMPTATION OF OBAMA Joe Cool Must Rally To Save Progressive Movement

It is pointless to argue that George W. Bush all-but destroyed the conservative movement, while ironically, in more ways than a little, failed to resemble or embody any of the true aspects of conservatism. His lunatic federal spending, ill-conceived and badly executed nation building, and most strikingly, an almost hippie-fueled freedom-around-the-world meddling was distinctly progressive and at times downright liberal; the final straw being his $400 billion Medicare Barack ObamaPrescription Drug Modernization Act, which will doubtless bankrupt the system, not to mention simultaneously signing into law the recently dubbed “Death Panel” quotient. His government’s behavior in the controversial but wholly private Terry Shivo case sealed the deal. Under Bush, the federal government became a massive, invasive, insufficient mess; all the fears of the original and less religiously baked and corporate lapping conservatives of yore. Yet so-called conservatives defended Captain Shoo-In all the way through, trading in their fragile ideologies for a slice of the power pie.

Now it is the progressives turn. Handed the entirety of the government and the majority of the public’s trust in two consecutive ass-stomping elections, and the hiring of the first African-American as chief executive, they are faced with choosing between the purity of their ideological faith or staying in charge. This faith was squarely laid on the shoulders of a Democratic Party, which handed over the reigns to the party’s liberal wing last November just as Republicans handed a powerful voice to the right wing in the autumn of 1980, when their holy patriarch, Ronald Reagan landed the final blow of a century-old conservative push.

Barack Obama is, as stated more than once in this space for over a year, the yin to Reagan’s yang. He understands this better than most, having put his liberal-cred on the line during the primary campaign by quoting Reagan copiously at rallies and giving network interviews that conspicuously skipped the impact of the Clinton era while heaping praise on the totality of Reagan’s political reach.

Thus, the president went into this thing with eyes wide open, and should now realize that the man he sold the progressive liberals and the majority of the nation’s Independents with chants of Change and Yes We Can is now on trial — in the halls of governance and the Main Street he loved courting so.

It is Go Time for Joe Cool, the man who did not listen to crazed pundits when they prodded him to go ugly on the Clinton Machine or get tough on the weak McCain/ Palin rhetoric over months of campaigning. The vaunted Obama Syndicate, which bested all comers and stayed above the fray during racial nastiness and mud-slinging hoo-hah has to emerge soon, or not only will his legacy be in jeopardy, but the significance of his entire presidency and the last stand of true progressive politics in America.

It is an enviable quest, whether agreed upon or feared, for it is the determinate of what leadership means. And isn’t that the deal you run on, raise all that money and have every fiber of your being vetted ’til Tuesday to achieve. It comes with the gig, and the gig has suddenly challenged what Obamamania stood for, not some political ploy, but a very real and inspiring movement.

The August stand-off on National Healthcare, the continued struggle for energy reform and the pogrom on the rich and all-things corporate has turned the new president’s first significant challenge into his Gettysburg; notwithstanding the moronic notion that this is his Waterloo as recently proffered by sub-mentals whose laughable grasp of history is on display every time some nitwit minimizes the horrors of Adolf Hitler by portraying or referring to the president of the United States to humanity’s most celebrated monster. It was imbecilic when the anti-war movement did it to the last guy, and it is equally so now.

This space offers Gettysburg as the perfect wartime analogy, seeing how Napoleon’s last stand at Waterloo implies a lengthy run of victories and unquestioned power coming to an ignominious end over a seminal moment when what appeared to be an unstoppable Union force had to prove on the battlefield and not on the statistical sheet it was to either crush the rebellion or slowly be bled dry.

But a shameful lack of historic perspective aside, the next few weeks will likely render a verdict on liberalism and its always-entertaining off-shoot, progressivism. And this is not merely because Barack Obama is the most progressive president perhaps ever, but because not since The New Deal or The Great Society has this country been faced with such a severe legislative shift in the role of the federal government over the private sector. And like the previous two massive shifts, this one has been at the very least agreed upon by both major parties: There is a problem with our healthcare system and it is time for some type of energy reform. The debate rages on as to the length and breadth of the government’s, and let that read the taxpayers’ level of responsibility therein.

For his part and to his credit, the president has taken to the streets like none other in my lifetime; engaging direct dialogue with the citizenry on the healthcare issue specifically. And although this has helped frame his enthusiasm, it has met with mixed results, merely because no one pushing the legislation can clearly define its more detailed pratfalls, sacrifices, or benefits, as laid out in perfect bureaucratic banality over 1,000 pages. Generalities and axioms have not taken hold, nor should they, for generations have understood that once the toothpaste is out of the tube in large government programs there is no putting it back.

Due to the occasional ferocious public pushback and more importantly a Republican contingent in the senate that is emboldened by the groundswell, the president is already beginning to sway from ideology to politics, miffing those on the far left like Howard Dean, who from the periphery try and hold Obama’s feet to the fire. Then comes more rumblings from the House that there could be two bills, following in the public relations, “Insurance Reform vs. Public Option” the president has leaned on in weaker moments.

There is already a sense on the Right that the white flags are beginning to be unfurled, and to a certain extent, they are, as long as this progressive president tries to both govern and chase the two-party unity tag, at best a pipedream worthy of a man banging his head on the unyielding healthcare wall.

It is an enviable quest, whether agreed upon or feared, for it is the determinate of what leadership means. And isn’t that the deal you run on, raise all that money and have every fiber of your being vetted ’til Tuesday to achieve. It comes with the gig, and the gig has suddenly challenged what Obamamania stood for, not some political ploy, but a very real and inspiring movement.

And that is as much at stake now for progressivism as the supply-side, less-government, Shining City On The Hill rallying cry was for conservatism in 1981, not long after the Reagan Victory became the Reagan Myth as the 40th president of the United States, faced with a crippling recession and an alarming spike in the national deficit, unilaterally rolled back his famous tax cuts one by one, until he was forced to repeatedly raise taxes across two terms. But the myth lives, like the myth that The New Deal without an ensuing world conflict was a rousing success in saving a nation plunged into a Depression by the same drunken spasms of greed we too paid dearly for these past months.

A presidency and his ideology on the line.

Go time.

 

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Un-American Again?

Aquarian Weekly 8/19/09 REALITY CHECK

“UN-AMERICAN” IS UN-AMERICAN

Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. – ‘Un-American’ Attacks Can’t Derail Health Care Debate Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer

There is stupid, insipidly moronic, and then there is the above.

Mob In what can best be described as a barely masticated brain poof, the Speaker of The House and its Majority Leader decided it would be a good idea to deftly illustrate how arguments can be utterly bereft of reason while simultaneously driving home the point of their opponents. If nothing else, it is a miraculous feat. Not sure it gets us any closer to supporting Universal Healthcare, but nonetheless…

If there has ever been a point to America it is to drown out opposing views. It fueled the Declaration of Independence, sparked a revolution, erected a constitution and inspired a series of amendments, motivated generations to expand the borders, crushed the secession of the South, supplanted the human condition with industry, and invaded nearly every hemisphere on the planet.

However, it is now official that no matter what bleating dink is in charge of this government of ours, there seems to be this prevailing thought that if you’re not on board with the agenda, you are un-American.

No, I’m sorry; “simply un-American”.

Here’s some simple American for ya:

FUCK Nancy Pelosi and FUCK Steny Hoyer and FUCK any lame motherfucker who tells me I’m un-American for writing it.

By the way, the CAPS were a visual illustration of “drowning out”. Apparently the “F” word was not sufficient enough.

Drowning out opposing views has freed slaves, given women the right to vote and control their bodies, and toppled more than a few foreign despots. Almost every inch of progress achieved for good or ill, depending upon point of view, began with “drowning out an opposing view”.

What I can only guess Ms. Pelosi and her sidekick meant was the “denial of opposing views”. That would be a plausible description of un-American, but “drowning out opposing views” is the very essence of America. There is no America or democracy or really any structured society without it. And, ironically, “drowning out opposing views” pretty much defines what this fancy USA Today op ed faux pas is trying to accomplish.

Here’s another doozy from the goon squad: “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves.”

Did the recession drain the entire proofing department at USA Today?

Yes, people who oppose views are usually frightened by the facts behind them. This is why they oppose them. Also, the use of “facts” here is dicey. The rancor about Healthcare is merely speculation; no one, whether opposing or supporting the concept, has a goddamned clue of how it will play out. This is made painfully obvious by the continued lunacy coming from both sides, whether it’s “Death Panels” or “Curtailing Insurance Company Greed”. Finally, the use of “disruption” is downright insulting. Would Ms. Pelosi call those who opposed the Iraq War “disrupters”? I doubt it, since she counted herself one.

Would Ms. Pelosi call those who opposed the Iraq War “disrupters”? I doubt it, since she counted herself one.

One more key question for our House Speaker: What is the difference between Dick Cheney’s two-dimensional bunker mentality against dissent and this crap? The most disturbing aspect of the Pelosi/Hoyer drivel is that it feeds into the long-running fears Americans have about their legislative branch, whether it is Republican senators making infantile anti-Healthcare arguments with cartoon placards of bunny rabbits or red-faced Democrats acting as if people screaming at public forums constitutes “mob mentality”.

To wit: “Tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted ‘Just say no!’ drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.”

I argue that visual aids and chants are fine examples of “substantive discussion”, but maybe you don’t. Okay. But this does not make you un-American. Perhaps it suggests you need to get laid, sip a beer, read a little Blake, turn up the volume on Ray Charles and get to shaking yo ass, but to each is own.

But hell, “Un-American” worked like gangbusters for Republicans during the months and years following 9/11, through all the goofy machinations and laughable screw-ups masked as patriotism, so why not? Just throw it out there, like the opposition currently throws out killing grandmothers, Nazis, tyranny, and rationed care to spin the tide. And this is all very American, and quite educational; unlike someone claiming that crazy innuendo and bombastic fear mongering are hidden plots to warp the electorate. Get over yourself; we have talk radio for that.

Of course behind all this posturing is a Democratic Party on its heels with the decades-old Healthcare debate, as it has once again plunged into a quagmire of bureaucratic nonsense, followed predictably by harebrained panic-speak. You’d think by now professional civil servants would recognize the telltale signs. They might even recall similar tactics employed when the last president tried to privatize Social Security, another American institution the citizenry believes is doomed but gets nuts when you try and restructure, just like Healthcare or the College Football Bowl system.

What is this, the fourth, fifth, twentieth, thousandth crack at this? You have to give them credit for what many would describe as the very definition of insanity — attempting the same failed maneuver time and again and expecting victory. But even George W. would have been hard-pressed to write something as completely irrational as Pelosi, which should give Sarah Palin supporters hope.

Speaking of idiocy, White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel recently told the NY Times, “Do not associate loud with effective”, which is hilarious when considering the source. Emanuel would be delivering sub sandwiches around the Southside of Chicago without his brilliant use of the “loud as effective” template.

I haven’t boned up on my Machiavelli lately, but I feel pretty confident that it isn’t too cool for populists to be mocking the populace. This is a fair tack for a Right Wing “The public doesn’t know what’s good for it” play, but the Democrats, who posit themselves as “Saving the people from themselves” would be better served with more coddling and less sarcasm.

At the very least the party shouldn’t unleash people with questionable debating skills and at best sub par literary abilities to front what the president of the United States has repeatedly called the most important piece of legislation of his young administration.

Why doesn’t the new guy just go the route of the last cabal and ignore everyone and do whatever the hell he wants. He has the votes. He has the “political capital”. Enough with these people expecting everyone to love them. Get on with it, and then history will decide what works and what doesn’t.

Annoying. Defiant. Reactionary.

Very American.

 

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Obama Beer Summit Review

Aquarian Weekly 8/5/09 REALITY CHECK

STUPIDLY, STUPIDLY, STUPIDLY… …Life Is But A Dream

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. – 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution

Beer SummitLast week in the final seconds of a nearly one-hour press conference on Healthcare reform the president of the United States commented derisively on a curious case of police activity in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Barack Obama, despite admitting he did not know the hard details of the case but did have a personal relationship with the accused, said the police acted “stupidly”. After a close review of the police report it turns out the president was kind. What the police did to a Mr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. was beyond blunder or misconduct. It was criminal, and when all is said and done should be tried and convicted as such.

The “stupidly” part came afterwards.

The ensuing furor over the president offering any commentary on such a random case, despite its thorny racial overtones, was heated and somewhat warranted, even though as the first citizen of the United States and its chief executive officer and protector of the constitution, and also, (yikes!), a black man, he was simply asked and answered honestly. However, rarely are presidents as candid and forthcoming on such matters, excluding, of course, the famous quote from Richard Nixon about Charles Manson’s obvious guilt smack dab in the middle of the most dramatic trial of the twentieth century. The president busting on cops would be a cause for uproar. Apparently the president can only mock the press, dissidents, evildoers, or hippies without backlash.

Of course the president eventually backslid, as everyone does these days, which is very disappointing. Just because it hurts the odd feeling or crosses an invisible line of presidential etiquette does not make the observation false or wrong. It was true and right, and quite frankly not strong enough. Perhaps the president should have been more up on the details, then maybe he would not have been so quick to try and make nice, and make nice he did the day of this writing with a hollow and creepy White House “Beer Summit” between the victim and his most ardent critic, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department.

Most troubling is that this P.R. fracas misses the most salient points — the entire episode has less to do with race, freedom of speech, or the presidency than it does with the priority of the Fourth Amendment.

Let’s begin with the incident at large, and then move onto the subsequent silliness. Firstly, there is a fair argument to be made that Henry Louis Gates Jr., author, scholar, literary critic and Harvard professor for nearly two decades was harassed within the walls of his own home because he was a black man. Cambridge is a lily-white upper crust town, and that upon returning home from a trip to China his driver, also an African American man, attempted to help him gain forced entrance through a “jammed” front door. Moreover, the woman who called the cops, Lucia Whalen, was cacuasian.

Most troubling is that this P.R. fracas misses the most salient points — the entire episode has less to do with race, freedom of speech, or the presidency than it does with the priority of the Fourth Amendment.

If you’re African Amercian this might seem more than a tad coincidental. However, I too might be inclined to call the cops if two guys I did not recognize were trying to gimmy their way into a home. That’s not true. I’d probably mutter, “That’s a shame” and walk away. But I get it. Then again I’m not black, so how could I begin to understand what someone who is might say to such an overt act of suspicion and the subsequent goofy actions by the local police.

This gets us to the climax of this notrious tale of bungle: When responding to a report of a possible break-in, the Cambridge police cuff and arrest Gates, charging him with disorderly conduct after what the officer described as “a confrontation”, but was later revealed as pretty much an overly dramatic wigout by Gates. Here’s where things get weird whether you relate or not.

Once the officers arrive, Gates clearly shows his identification and suffucient proof that the house was indeed his residence. Now it no longer matters why anyone called the cops, what color Gates is, what he does for a living, or what the hell the president of the United States or anyone else thinks of the proceedings. It is a blatantly indefensible 4th Amendment violation, and no matter what harrangue followed, barring physcial abuse to the officers, civil servants of the state grossly overstepped their duty and broke the law.

Oh, and by the way, prosecutors later dropped the charges, all but admitting the police at the very least acted inappropriately.

How the president could cave when the facts of this case were later made clear beyond mere public relations is beyond fathoming.

Could it have been the insipid ranting of Right Wing idiots blabbering on about Obama hating white people or dinasuars like George Will mucking up network news shows with the most out-of-touch Jim Crow gobblygook imaginable? Probably. Now that an outspoken Hispanic woman is in the dock for the Supreme Court and middle America needs to be greased for the Healthcare dirge, it’s time to placate; but since this space is not written by a politician or anyone running for the Congeniality ticket, it won’t fly here.

One thing Will, who knows less about race relations in this country than he does about baseball (at least he didn’t write a laughably moronic book about race relations), said about Gates was right; he’s a victim. But Will seems to think the president made him one, instead of the police, who actually ripped the guy from his home and arrested him for merely being an asshole. And shit, I can have half the people I know dragged to the tank for that.

Will, like all the crazies who attacked Obama for his commentary, profess to be card-carrying conservatives, who cannot stop whining about how the country is besieged by sudden tyranny, and scream bloody murder anytime someone mentions gun control — we need to protect ourselves from an authoritarian state, you know — appear comfortable with thin-skinned coppers playing Gestapo in someone’s living room.

 

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