Friday, December 31, 2010

Maybe Some People Seriously Should Think about Going to Church

I am not a religious person in the least. In fact, I don’t believe in any god; but – unlike seemingly a fair few people of the liberal persuasion – neither do I feel the need to elevate any person, living or dead, to a god-like position. Everybody has feet of clay, and no one is perfect, and that includes people whom some would normally regard as heroes or role models.
But there’s a defining line between having feet of clay and sinking fast in slime.

I’m more than a bit uneasy at the free pass to heroic martyrdom currently being given by many on the Left to Julian Assange, who was currently named The Nation’s Person of the year by the fragrant, but bored, socialite who keeps that publication afloat with her private fortune and reckons this entitles her to be considered a bona fide political pundit. What happened to the days when wealthy, bored socialites visited the sick and destitute? I suppose they no longer count, since many of them watch Fox News.

A lot of punditry on the Left have invested a lot of speech time and writing space to pointing out the bleeding obvious to their viewers/listeners/readers: People like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell are grifters – narcissistic egomaniacs with media savvy and an eye for opportunity in promoting their personal brands, as well as the ueber-Rightwing agenda of a certain political party, at the expense of wantonly discrediting the current President, both personally and politically.

That is true.

Also true is that both these people have been proven to be liars. The same can be said about the Palin protoge’ Joe Miller, whose supporters had a penchant for armed marches through the streets on public holidays and strong-arming reporters in an overt effort to stifle Freedom of the Press.

But the Left is capable of spawning like demons as well, and no one fits the bill better than the latest drama queen, Assange.

To say this guy gives me the creeps is an understatement, and I’m pretty astute at judging a book by its cover; so I don’t feel as alone in my initial assessment of Assange as a Class A Asshole and drama queen when I’m in such disparate company as Jon Stewart, Saturday Night Live and The National Review. That pretty much covers both sides of the fence.

As soon as Assange burst on the scene, I saw (in this order) book deal, high-profiled interviews and movie deal, with Leonardo di Caprio lined up to play the jerk, himself. I saw dollar signs and offshore bank accounts swelling. And a permanent position in the cablesphere as an “esteemed television analyst.”

I saw the Left clasp him to their collective bosom as the latest Christ-like figure, that position being enhanced by his almost ephemeral image. I heard them proclaim his demands for government and diplomatic transparency, whilst willfully ignoring the fact that the whisteblower not only got noticeably cadgey about answering allegations surrounding possible rape charges but also resorted to open blackmail by daring authorities to follow through with his arrest and extradition.

I don’t know enough about the sex crimes charges to comment on them, per se. I don’t think anyone does, and that includes Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann, both of whom didn’t do their liberal credentials any favours by dismissing the womens’ claims as “hooey.” Moore has a daughter and Olbermann, a sister and nieces. One would hope that, should any of their female relatives have the misfortune to be sexually attacked by some lowlife, that these men would be loathe to dismiss such claims as “hooey.” Anyway, I was raised by my liberal Democratic parents to believe that our party was the party who championed the rights of minorities and women. I guess such things pale in the wake of such a male messianic figure.

I just think that if Assange has nothing to hide, he should return voluntarily to Sweden, answer the charges, submit to the STI and HIV tests and clear his name. I may be wrong here, but I sense that it’s the tests which seem to trigger a ballistic response in Assange, causing him to resort to shouting down any interviewers who raise that point. Doing that not only makes him look suspect, it makes him look decidedly seedy, like a louche and peripatetic roue’, travelling the earth intent on spreading a disease as a means of imparting his disdain to the legion of women he reckons are ready to fall at his feet.

When asked, recently, in an interview with an established British daily, if he were promiscuous, Assange replied laconically that he wasn’t promiscuous, he just liked sex.

So do we all, but if a woman slept with three different men in a five-day period, she’d be deemed a slut in no uncertain terms and called promiscuous (and that’s being nice). How should a man doing that same thing be considered any differently? Yet from the most prestigious quarters of the Left, this man is a hero and his detractors, anything from deluded to CIA operatives.

In a world where, arguably, the most intelligent and articulate man to occupy the Oval Office since John F Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt, has his every word parsed, his every nuance interpreted and his whole agenda criticized as vociferously by his purported supporters as much as by his detractors on the opposite side; in an era where genuine heroes come few and far between, it amazes me that people have to dig deep to elevate such a pejoratively cryptic, openly hypocritical and deeply dislikeable man to the status of Saviour of the Truth.

He is anything but.

What he is, however, is a grifter, pure and simple - the 21st Century’s equivalent of Elmer Gantry gone rogue, a snake oil salesman who, in another time, would be found preaching redemption for a dime at a tent revival before retiring to a wooded enclave with the intention of deflowering the local village virgin, leaving as a souvenir, the fruit of his loin within her, be that infant or infection.

Are we that morally, spiritually and intellectually bereft that we seek our heroes amongst the people who wish us only the worst, at the same time enriching themselves at our expense?

My personal hero happens to be Keith Richards, but my standards are low, and Richards has never ever pretended either to be something he’s not, or to act as any sort of moral arbiter.

If the people of the Left are that desirous of a genuine messiah figure, perhaps it’s time they went back to church. I don’t know about you, but to me, Jesus is one helluva lot better hero, martyr and messiah than a lanky, skanky Antipodean who looks as though he’s in dire need of a bath.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Paul Simon - American Tune (1975)


No Vote, No Voice

My mother’s oldest brother never voted in his life. He went to his grave, having never cast a vote for a single politcal candidate, Democrat or Republican. That didn’t stop him from having opinions though, about every man who ever sat in the White House, and he could have voted in every Presidential election from Roosevelt’s first to Nixon’s last. At every family gathering, be it holiday, birthday or funeral, he could be found someplace in the corner, drink in one hand, vociferously complaining to some poor sod about the injustices of the current government, whilst jabbing the guy dangerously in the chest with his free hand, which held a Marlboro precariously between his forefinger and middle finger.

Finally, one day, the exasperation got to my dad.

“Bill,” he yelled across the room, at the wedding reception of one of my numerous cousins, “Shut the fuck up. You don’t even vote. You don’t vote, you don’t have a voice, and no right to criticize those people.”

When I registered to vote at 18 in 1972, that message stayed with me and has stayed with me ever since, ensuring that each year I make sure I receive some sort of absentee ballot with which I might make my voice heard. It might be an insignificant one, but at least I’m exercising my right to have it heard, to remain an active part of the political process in my own country.

Keith Olbermann is a powerful man with a powerful voice and the ability to influence a lot of people who watch his program daily. Keith Olbermann’s program is dedicated to what he considers to be the most controversial and important political stories of the day. It’s fact-based political news, heavily laced with opinion – Keith’s opinion and anyone else who happens to be a guest and who echoes that same opinion. Sometimes, at the end of his program, he gives a lengthy and erudite “Special Comment” on some particular subject which, he feels, affects him greatly.

Last week, in the wake of the President having reached a compromise with the Republican leadership of the House and Senate regarding the extension of the Bush tax cuts, amongst other things, Keith registered his idealogical displeasure with this compromise in no uncertain terms.

Like everyone else inhabiting the fashionable fringe of the Progressive Left, inhabitants of metropolitan and otherwise areas of the so-called “Left Coast” and the affluent urban areas of the Northeastern corner of the U S, he ranted and railed about the President “caving in” to the Republican Party. In one Special Comment, he referred to the President as an American Neville Chamberlain, meaning he was nothing less than an appeaser. That was on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday night, he openly referred to the President of the United States as a quisling.

Oh, really?

To say directly that Barack Obama is the epitome of the worst kind of traitor, to liken him to a man who betrayed his country and delivered his people into the hands of the worst kind of fascist regime, the Nazis, is not only pretty heavy going, it’s absolutely worse than any rhetoric or hyperbole the Tea Party have attempted. That sort of accusation actually places our President on a footing several floors below the lower extremities currently occupied by Bush 43 and Richard Nixon.

On Thursday night, when two Republican Senators, aided and abetted by the Senate’s newest Blue Dog, reneged on a promise to vote in favour of the repeal of DADT, holding the delayed Democratic support for the tax cut legislation to ransome before delivering their vote, Olbermann, again, directly blamed the President for this, and salaciously took pleasure in relaying the details of a pretty prickly encounter between House Democrats and Vice-President Biden, repeating, not once, but several times, that one member of the Democratic caucus actually shouted out, “Fuck the President.” Instead of sounding like a seasoned and responsible newsman, Olbermann sounded like a cross between a gossipy, but indignant, old spinster and a ten year-old boy, giggling behind the woodshed at the wonder of a crass four-letter word.

Keith Olbermann doesn’t vote.

He feels that voting would impinge upon his journalistic integrity, yet he contributed to three different Democratic candidates for Congress, including one who’d just appeared on his programm. I’m sorry, but if you are a journalist, and you choose not to vote in order to maintain an impartial integrity, doesn’t contributing to candidates of a particular political persuasion kind of negate that? Isn’t that more than just a bit hypocritical?

It still does not belie the fact that this man does not vote, yet he’s allowed a public platform by which he can influence the opinions of people who do exercise their privilege. And that, to me, is immoral.

A person who doesn’t vote enables whatever political party is given the mandate to govern at the polls. Therefore, Keith Olbermann is just as responsible for enabling Bush to initiate the unpaid-for tax cuts in 2001, as he is for enabling Barack Obama to reach a compromise with the Republicans to extend them.

You don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.

Shut the fuck up, Keith.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Morphing on The Hill

Loads of people are in high-gear whine mode about the deal cut in Washington by the President with the Republicans last week. One of the lesser ad hominems being thrown at the President at the moment is the accusation that he's morphed into a Republican at last.

I beg to differ.

It's the fools on the Hill in the Democratic Party who are showing their true colours.

Pardon me, but I thought the deficit was one of the main GOP Rightwing talking points. You know, the spreading of the fear meme that if we don't get the deficit down and pronto, we're doomed to be roasted on a blazing spit in eternal hell or end up in international debtors' prison or something along those lines. Until last week, I thought the Democratic response to the GOP deficit war cry was, "Do not address the deficit at the expense of jobs."

In fact, many Democrats, both on the Hill and off it, who were critical of the President, often said in hindsight, that perhaps the first two years of his Presidency should have been devoted to job creation, instead of healthcare reform; in fact, that's one of the nicer criticisms two of the more bitchier self-proclaimed professional political pundits have levelled.

But that's all water under the bridge. The President effected a compromise with the recalcitrant Republican party to allow the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens to be extended temporarily for the next two years, in exchange for the tax cuts to be extended permanently on people earning less than $200,000 per annum ($250K for couples), a 13-month extension of Unemployment Insurance, a year's moratorium on payroll taxes and several other bits of legislation beneficial to the working class, the middle class, the working poor and their children (especially if those children wish to attend college or university).

Now, all of a sudden, it's a matter of the highest dudgeon that the exchange concerned the two-year extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens. That and only that. That the revolt was led on the Hill by various and sundry elected officials in reasonably safe seats, and included members of Congress who rank amongst the wealthiest on the Hill - four of the five richest elected officials in Congress are Democrats - was truly astounding.

Not that they shouldn't want or expect to pay more taxes. That's fully in line with the Democrats' altruistic principles; but also, as career politicians, many of whom have been around the political block more than enough times, they should know that, in the free world, politics consists of compromise and compromise isn't pretty and doesn't make people happy. Even that great arm-twister, Lyndon Johnson, recognised that. So did FDR, who effectively compromised away any inclusion of African Americans in New Deal benefits in order to keep the Southern Democratic Senators sweet.

I cut my teeth in a Democratic cradle on the mantra that Democrats looked after the poor, the working poor, the working people, that Republicans helped only the rich and big business.

I guess nobody looks after those people now, except, maybe the President; and if Congress keeps throwing an idealogical hissy fit, that'll pretty much mean no one will.

But then, why should we Democrats worry about a bunch of toothless, uneducated rubes who sit agog in front of Fox News and always vote Republican anyway?

A couple of points amidst all this adolescent angst taking place at the moment:

The President told the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House that he wanted the tax cut situation addressed on the Hill when Congress returned from its summer hiatus in September. He wanted the tax cuts to feature in the midterm campaigns. If they'd passed for the middle classes, with the wealthiests' expiring, then that was a positive point to feature in any Congressional campaign; if they'd been defeated by Republican intransigence, then there was all the evidence a Democrat needed that the GOP cared only for the rich and their corporate masters.
Both Reid and Pelosi refused to consider this, informing the President that they would be addressing the tax cuts after the midterms, as there were too many who were up for re-election whose districts contained quite a few people above the arbitrary $250 point. Sticky subject. In fact, Russ Feingold personally lobbied to President not to press this issue until after the mid-terms. Well, Feingold lost his seat, and so did 65 Democrats in the House. Had this issue been addressed when the President originally asked, who knows what this might have wrought?

With that in mind, had more people actually got up off their asses on November 2 and moseyed along down to the polls, there may never have been need of such an odious compromise.
And, finally, thinking ahead to 2012, if the President should choose to try for re-election (and I wouldn't blame him if he didn't), the fact that the Republicans were all for using the moot point of reducing the deficit at all costs, to be more important than addressing the unemployment issue, would lend itself to being a very strong campaign point ... only now, the Democrats have boarded the deficit bus to ride along the road to 2012 with the Republicans, it seems.

And with the highest hypocrisy.

Suddenly, the tax cuts for the wealthiest, which she supported in 2001, have become distasteful to Senator Mary "Louisiana Purchase" Landrieu, who had to be bought like a high-class Big Easy hooker in order to sign onto any healthcare reform.

The longer this bus ride continues, the more ammunition the GOP have to throw back in any Democratic candidate's face in 2012, included that venerable saint, Howard Dean, who sounded off on this same note today.

And by effectively validating the deficit argument as the single most important issue that must be addressed in Congress, with rejecting this bill outright as contributing to that deficit, doesn't this sorta kinda (forgive the Palinese) indirectly validate Simpson-Bowles?

The political bus these recalcitrant Democrats are about to board at their own risk doesn't stop until the deficit's been addressed, and, like all means of transport, it doesn't do flip-flops, no matter how regrettably short the voting public's memory is. Any moving vehicle which flip-flops, as we all know results in its occupants suffering inevitable fatalities.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees

To say I'm pretty angry at the moment would be an understatement, but then, having lived in the UK for almost 30 years, I suppose I've mastered that art. It certainly wouldn't go amiss in the US, and maybe that's what's pissing off so many people of either political stripe: the fact that they spend the majority of the working day shouting down the odds at one another whilst the President rises above all the clamour with a quiet demeanor.

The Right see this behaviour, shout that he "doesn't get it," and brand him an elitist. The Left see this behaviour, shout that he "doesn't get it," and say that he's weak and spineless. The Right march in the streets, carrying placards with the President dressed like a jungle tribesman or a monkey. The Left blog angrily about "the Affirmative Action President" or "the house nigger."

Each night, I watch the BBC News at Ten. The presenter reads the items, all actual news items about events which occurred during the day in Britain and even around the world, in measured tones, with no opinion about anything reported. If an in-depth analysis is sought, a journalist who specialises in the subject being explored is brought in for about five minutes. In Britain, the political media is populated by people who've actually followed political procedure and know how the process and the politicians operate. They report the why and wherefore of the facts and leave it to the viewers to form their own opinion. Amongst their commentators, you won't find any ex-sportscasters, film producers, comedians or socialite ex-wives of politicians. You won't find a single trust fund kid whose father bought her a newspaper. And although the questioning in the few opinion shows is undeniably tough, there's no shouting or name-calling.

Although I have lots of issues with the BBC, at this moment in time, I'm eternally grateful for its measure.

At the moment in the UK, the gap between the wealthy and the poor has never been greater. It's bound to get even bigger, considering that David Cameron's just cut all child benefits to families earning more than £40,000 ($55,000) and is substantially increasing university tuition fees. This gap didn't turn into a breach overnight once Cameron got the keys to Downing Street. Maggie Thatcher moved the goal posts, and Tony Blair stole them. So, that's been a continuously worsening situation for the past thirty years. Sound familiar?

There's always been rich people, ever since there's been some sort of civilisation. There's even a song which says that the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. In Britain, the working class envied the rich, whilst the middle class emulated them.

The America I left in 1981 hadn't yet succumbed to Reaganomics. Coming of age in the Seventies, I was taught that knowledge was power and that a college degree enabled social mobility; and there has always been an element of keeping up with the Joneses. I guess maybe, thanks to The Gipper, keeping up with the Joneses literally became a way of life. Instead of education empowering people, the sense of wealth provided by plastic money and a loan-friendly financial services system enabled most working class people to dub themselves middle class, fooled them into thinking that the latest electronic equipment in the home, the biggest SUV on the block or the timeshare in Redondo Beach, the annual Carribbean cruise, meant one had finally attained The American Dream. Whenever I would visit home in the 80s or 90s, I always remember marvelling at how well-off and how "rich" people were.

Now I know it was all an illusion, and I wonder if this anger directed at the wealthiest Americans these days, whilst simmering precitiously under cover before, is misdirected anger at the fact that, since 2007, people have realised that, for one reason or another, we won't get the same opportunity to "play rich" again.

Margaret Thatcher once made an odiously cruel statement, and one that will be synonymous with her tenure as Prime Minister for eternity. She said, "There is no such thing as 'society.' There's just people trying to get by."

After yesterday's shenanigans, I'm wondering if what she said isn't true in America.

Oh, I know it's always been true of the Republicans - at least the Republican Party as it existed from Reagan onwards - although I can remember the liberal Republicans who fought for social justice, like Nelson Rockefeller and, as unbelieveable as it might seem, George Romney. But now I'm absolutely certain that this anti-societal attitude has pervaded the Democrats as well, from the Blue Dogs to the Progressives.

From Mary Landrieu to Bernie Sanders (yes, pedants, I know he's not a Democrat) they were united in condemning the President's recent compromise with the Republicans on extending the tax cuts. You know, I've never in my life heard so much venom in the blogosphere against the extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. I guess anger comes easier now once people realise that the lifestyle they lived in approximation of the good life they wanted to attain was pretty facile and transient. They want the good times back, and they want it now. George Bush took it from them, and now Obama's keeping it, or so it seems.

Yesterday, Barack Obama showed me one thing - that, above all the hype, he's a man of immense compassion. He put his neck on the line and put his people, the people of America - white, black and brown and anything inbetween - first. I've no doubt he didn't try to get the Republicans to budge on ending the tax cuts for the wealthy; he's certainly talked about this consistently enough in the past, that I certainly didn't doubt his sincerity. But they wouldn't budge. Sometimes you can't budge a brick wall with your head.

He could easily have said, "Stuff you, we'll let the whole thing collapse," and be done with it. Come January 1, everybody's taxes go up. In a recession. Done and dusted.

In truth, the President tried to get Congress - a Democratic Congress, remember - to vote on this measure immediately before they recessed to campaign. He knew then, as he knew on Saturday, that, although there were votes enough to pass this measure in the House, the votes were lacking in the Senate. It would have failed, but that failure would have sent a strong message to voters about just whose side the Republicans favoured. But the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill - that's Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - balked and refused. And then, immediately before yet another week-long recess, a vote on the extension of UI benefits failed to pass.

Obama seized the moment. If the Republicans wanted to retain the tax cuts for the wealthy, he was willing to extend the cuts for 2 years, but only if they would allow an extension of UI for the next 13 months. Throw in a reduction of payroll tax for a year, and the Republicans get their inheritance tax wet dream.

All in all, this increases the deficit - which never has, in my memory, become a major worry for Americans until out irresponsible and whore-panicked media made it so; but it's also shown us that the only thing which worries the Republicans is serving their wealthy corporate masters, whilst the President went for helping the unemployed, keeping the tax burden down for the middle and working classes, and maybe, just maybe, stimulating the economy a bit more with this payroll tax reduction.

But this wasn't enough for the fools on the Hill. Talk of filibuster and voting the compromise down, coupled with vicious and snarling attacks from the hate-filled Progressive blogosphere and bully-boy rantings from Ed Schultz prompted the President to reach out and smack some ass on both sides of the aisle. I feel he was right. And I would say to the likes of Rachel Maddow, whom I usually admire, and Keith Olbermann, whose narcissism is so bad that he made his remembrance comment about Elizabeth Edwards all about himself, simply to STFU and take your medicine.

This isn't about denying Freedom of Speech, it's about acknowledging something: That Liberals or liberals or even Progressives or whatever you want to call yourselves, people who believe in social justice, think about putting the disadvantaged first, instead of trying to score political points, which end up leaving those same people in a worse condition than before.

I was taught that the Democratic party stood for tolerance and compassion, caring for the less fortunate and championing the rights of the oppressed. Today, one end of the Republican party answers to the corporations and the other end is a festering pool of intolerant, belligerant, mean-spirited purists. My bad for thinking that purism was the stuff of Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers, something that smacked of Nazi Germany at its finest hour!

I used to know, via the Internet, a couple of those purists. One was a former local politician, who liked to crow that she was from the "Left Coast." The other is a writer, teaching in a small Florida university, unhappy for various reasons, with his lot in life and blaming that on America. They were fine and friendly as long as you agreed with their point of view, but they were unable to sustain any divergence of opinion. Discussions escalated into arguments and ended in ad hominem when one made a point to which they were unable to respond, when they listened at all. There's a special karma in the world for such people. The failed politician was forced, for economic reasons, to abandon her beloved Left Coast for the bowels of Alabama, and Mr Florida had a heart attack. Lucky for him, he was privately insured. The President for whom he's reserved a special and vitriolic hatred just provided a source of healthcare for the millions of people for whom Mr Florida expresses concern but for whom he actually does nothing.

For all those whining, including the talking heads on MSNBC, about Obama caving, maybe they should take a look at the Dark Side and see what they're saying. Fox and The Daily Caller were absolutely stymied yesterday. They were confused and confounded by what had happened, and didn't know how to spin the thing. People were equally confused and dismayed on Michele Bachmann's Facebook page. There was a sense that somehow they hadn't exactly got what they wanted, that they were pwned.

On the other hand, the Democrats would do well to think about this: If they filibuster this, or if they vote it down, the tax cuts will lapse and the UI extensions would have been non-existant, with millions of long-term unemployed kicked to the curb. In one fell swoop, the GOP could point the finger and accuse the Democrats, not only of being the party which hiked taxes during a recession, but also the same party who pulled the plug on UI extensions. That's as much of a surefire win for the GOP in 2012 as is primarying the President.

And the papers are replete with full-throated bayings for that as well; in fact, Michael Lerner, writing in the Washington Post, smugly asserts that, rather than offering a primary challenger, the Democratic party will eschew the primary system all together and force the President not to run for re-election in order to replace him with a big-name ueber liberal - in short, to effect what is tantamount to a de facto coup, by means of eliminating a primary process. This is rich, coming from the party who wholeheartedly embraced the lengthy electoral process as evidence of making the Democratic candidate the choice of the people. Even richer is the fact that the party who bullied through a much-needed and long-overdue Civil Rights' Act, now becomes the party to ditch the nation's first African American President.

Who's the racist now? Perception, after all, is reality.

The Democrats are angry because the President didn't score points with the Republicans, but many of them ran from his policies whilst on the campaign trail. The ultimate blame for this compromise situation, as a longtime friend pointed out to me yesterday, lies with the voters, themselves - or rather, the non-voters. If the Democrats had bothered to get over their almighty and childish sulk because the President couldn't undo in two years what it took thirty to achieve, or that he didn't wave a magic wand and eliminate DADT and end the wars, amongst other things, if they'd manage to "man up" and vote, or if the 30% of the LGBT community hadn't voted Republican in some sort of perverse protest, the President wouldn't have been forced to compromise.

As for the celebrity pundits, obviously, Rachel and Keith, ensconced in their million-dollar ivory towers, have never experienced long-term unemployment nor have they known anyone who has experienced this. They've never spent a week, a day or even an hour in the deprevation of an urban ghetto or amongst the poor working class in a Southern or Midwestern town, the latter being the demographic which always votes against its interest, the demographic which Keith's and Rachel's followers ignorantly refer to as "flyovers" or "unreconstructed Confederates", who would be better off actually seceding from the Union so the ueber-tolerant and all-inclusive Progressives wouldn't have to be bothered by their existance or even share a country with them.

Seems like the President cares about them, though, even though the people they elect, from either party, do. This lot care more about their posturing and their egos than the masses who populate the hoi polloi. They're only good for votes and only then when they vote the right way.

In all my life, and I remember Presidents from Kennedy to the present one, I've never seen a President so hated and reviled on both sides. A pundit/comedian, who likes to think of himself as well-informed, pondered after the elections, how the American people could hand the keys of government back to the clowns who derailed the process the first time. It seems to me that the hubristic Democats, clamouring to abandon the President for some as yet unnamed Great White Hope, are doing the same.


Monday, December 6, 2010

R Is Not Just for Republican

What is the “middle class?”

When I grew up in the 60s and 70s, the middle class was white-collared professionals, all of whom had a university degree. They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, accountants.

Most people were from solid working class – blue collars, skilled and unskilled, or low-level clerical. My parents were strictly blue-collar, but we were taught that you bettered your own social position by education. The 1970s saw record numbers of people going to universities thanks to the scholarships and financial aid schemes engendered under the Johnson and (yes), the Nixon Administrations, and social mobility was achieved thus.

I have a cousin who married a doctor. Her husband’s father was a self-trained carpenter from South Carolina who never learned to read or write, but he saw one of his sons become a doctor and the other finish at West Point.

Somewhere in the past 30 years, when we got conned into believing that just because we had a credit card in our pockets and could get a loan from the bank on the collateral of your house or whatever to buy the latest car or go on a lujo cruise, that we were middle class. In truth, most of us aren’t.

And in truth, for all the talking head pundits, Right and Left, go on about the “middle class”, who are REALLY working class, they’d have to fumigate themselves if they ever had occasions to walk amongst them.

An awful lot of the Obama-hate on BOTH sides of the political equation is down to one thing and one thing only: RACE.

The sooner that’s admitted, the sooner we can address the elephant in the room – and that elephant’s not necessarily a Republican.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Richard Nixon's Legacy: This Democratic Party

I'm giving up officially. On politics. Specifically, American politics.

I was raised in what my mother regularly called "a Democratic kitchen" in the South, by parents who had been Roosevelt Democrats. My father cast his first vote as a 21 year-old for FDR's second term. Four years after that, my mother cast her first for his third. They, unfailingly, voted Democratic until the day they died; in fact, my father would often proudly proclaim he would vote the Democratic candidate if the candidate turned out to be the Devil, himself.

In the Virginia Democratic primary of 1988, my father voted for Jesse Jackson. The following year, he voted for Douglass Wilder in the gubernatorial election. In 1992, he voted, again, for Jackson over Bill Clinton in the Presidential primary. My father was white and had been raised in the segregated South of Jim Crow. He didn't care about race, he told me. He voted Democratic, because the Democratic Party was for what he called "the working man," and Jesse Jackson, he reasoned, was more for the working man than Bill Clinton. Besides, he continued, Jesse had known poverty, the same sort of abject poverty my father had known as a child and a young man growing up in the rural South. At the end of the day, in November 1992, he voted for Clinton too.

That was the way I was raised: The Democrats were for the working class, and the Republicans were for the wealthy and the business class. My first Presidential election fell in 1972, when I was part of the newly-registered demographic of 18 year-olds. I voted for McGovern; so did my parents, but they held their noses. My father would have preferred Humphrey; my mother, Ed Muskie or Ted Kennedy. They stayed with the party, because they always believed that the Democrats would work for their interests.

Years later, after spending most of my married adult life in Britain (but never failing to vote in Presidential and Congressional elections in the US), I'm looking back at that era when I cast my first vote, and so I started to read Rick Perlstein's book, Nixonland, which has not only taught me a great deal of things I was too young to notice, even in 1972, it's filled me with a curious sense of deja vu, especially concerning today's Democratic Party.

The Democrats, as we know them, the angst they're encountering at the moment amongst their supporters and their elected officials, is the culmination of a seed subtly planted by Richard Nixon back in 1970. It's a perfect storm about to implode, and the result of that implosion will be what Karl Rove has long sought to achieve: an unbroken hegemony of Republican rule in the United States.

I vaguely remember the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, when Hubert Humphrey won the nomination without ever having entered a primary. Lyndon Johnson, the current President, had gone from hero to zero in the two years from his 1964 election. He was primaried by Eugene McCarthy, who was advocating an anti-war platform. After two close showings in the early primaries, Johnson withdrew, announcing he would not seek re-election. Then Bobby Kennedy announced his candidacy, and many expected McCarthy to fall by the wayside, as most pundits thought him a stalking horse for Kennedy; but McCarthy stayed the course, and Kennedy was assassinated.

The Convention was more famous for what happened outside the venue than inside. The protest riots, led by Jerry Rubin and Abby Hoffman, are the stuff of legend; when anyone thinks of this particular convention, they think of the Chicago Seven.

In 1970, there was a revolution within the Democratic Party, whose base, heretofore had consisted of a solid core of working class people - the farmers of the Midwest and Western states, the industrial workers of the Rust Belt and the agrarian workers and labourers of the Southern states, who were fronted by the unions and cooperatives. Before 1970, the world of the Democrats was pretty much that of the Republicans, politically - smoke-filled rooms, men in suits, cigar smoke and deal-making. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Back this candidate, and I'll see you get your bridge built. That sort of thing.

That all changed in 1970. A couple of young political strategists decided to mold the Democratic party from a blue-collared party of principle to a high-minded elite corps of coastal intellectuals. No more would their thinksters be the types embodied by Bob LaFollett or the CIO's John Lewis. The mindsets of the party would be centred on the West Coast or the Northeast Coast of America. The party would promote an Affirmative Action agenda by means of ensuring that the state delegations to the 1972 Convention would reflect the racial and gender demographics of each state. Instead of principles the old working class understood, like minimum wage and price controls, this party would advocate ideals - basically, peace, love and understanding, in a nutshell.

The kids who were on the streets in 1968, would be at the centre of power in 1972. And above all, there would be no compromise on any of their ideals. None whatsoever. Their way, or the highway.

And Nixon smiled. Because he knew that such idealistic aspiration would prove divisive.

Almost from the very beginning, it was. At the 1972 Democratic Convention in Miami Beach, many states showed up with two delegations, each claiming to be the duly elected one. Illinois fielded two delegations, one of which contained Mayor Richard Daley, the other of which, didn't. The two delegations clashed over which one was the legal one. They couldn't reach agreement and were arguing vociferously, when Daley and Jesse Jackson drew aside and, between the two of them, worked out an arrangement where half of the Daley delegation and half of the reform delegation would serve. When Jackson revealed the resolution, he was shouted down as a traitor for compromising, and the Daley delegation left.

Immediately he was on the campaign trail, when McGovern, who had previously stated that upon his Inauguration, he would order an immediate cease-fire in Viet Nam, walked back the statement with a need for maintaining troops in nearby Singapore, the "no compromisers" (now calling themselves, "Progressives"), again shouted him down for his betrayal. When the governor of a Northeastern state asked to see McGovern during the campaign, with a view to endorsing him, McGovern was publically castigated by his backroom staff for daring to enter into what appeared to be private negotiations with the governor.

"No backroom deals!" They shouted.

And so it went on. Nixon had welcomed the refomation of the Democratic party. He could see the factions forming within and could see the in-fighting that would occur. He'd already started infiltrating the staffs of various Democratic contenders with college-aged operatives of his own, the celebrated ratfuckers of Donald Segretti, amongst whom was a young Karl Rove, with a view to causing dissension and general mischief in an attempt to upend Democratic candidates. The object of the 1972 election, as far as the GOP and Nixon were concerned, was to ensure that the Democrats fielded the weakest candidate possible, and McGovern fit the bill.

The campaign was a shambles from the very beginning. Nixon's operatives, Roger Ailes and Pat Buchanan, managed to feed the press exaggerated stories of McGovern's supposed liberal ideals. He became the triple-A candidate, allegedly endorsing amnesty (for Viet Nam draft dodgers), abortion and acid (de-criminalisation of pot). He suddenly found himself going on the defensive in swings through the Prairie States, having, painstakingly, to explain his real policies to disbelieving farmers in Nebraska, whereas previously, McGovern, from South Dakota, had found this tranche of voter an easy touch.

He even had trouble finding a Vice Presidential candidate. Kennedy turned him down. And Humphrey. And Abraham Ribicoff. Finally, he landed Thomas Eagleton, a freshman senator from Missouri, who, it was rumoured, had a drinking problem. Almost immediately Eagleton had accepted, the press "suddenly" found evidence that he'd been hospitalised for depression and had received electric shock treatments. Eagleton was the Sarah Palin of his day, but with the grace to resign, as unqualified, before the campaign got underway. Sargent Shriver was tapped as a suitable replacement and a quasi-Kennedy.

The rest is history. McGovern went on to a landslide defeat. Only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia declared for him. He got 17 electoral votes. He couldn't even carry his own state of South Dakota, a state which, heretofore, had been solidly blue. The old Democratic base - the farmers, the industrial workers - stayed home. For the first time in its history, the AFL-CIO refused to endorse a Democratic candidate, its leader, George Meany, pointedly saying that George McGovern did not speak for the majority of his Democrats. Some of those from the old base furtively voted for Richard Nixon - hence, the myth of the Southern Strategy.

McGovern, himself, was so confused and disillusioned with what had appeared to happen in the Democratic Party, that - instead of voting for Jimmy Carter in 1976 - he voted for Gerald Ford.

During the decade after the McGovern election, Republican operatives strengthened their presence amongst the farmers and working classes of the Midwest, the Rust Belt and the South. They used local people who spoke like the people they targeted, who understood the values and concerns of this demographic. In short, the GOP used people "just like" the people the targeted. "People like us." And even though they blipped and saw these people support Jimmy Carter's successful 1976 run, they were acclimatised enough to Republican values (which didn't seem so different to the ones they held) that by the time Carter was visciously primaried by Ted Kennedy (primarying a sitting President again), the old Democratic base were ready to be recognised fully as "Reagan Democrats." For the next 12 years. Many of these Reagan Democrats are now Republicans, most probably voting against their own interests.

In 1996, in preparation for a 2000 Presidential run, Republican strategist Matthew Dowd and the infamous turd blossom, Karl Rove, devised a new Republican strategy: play to the base. Forget the independents. Independents were well-educated fiscal conservatives with social consciences. They always voted the issue, never the party. Concentrate on elevating the base to centre-stage importance. If they were religious, give them a hefty dose of Christianity. If they liked their Second Amendment rights, show them your pistol, if not your pistolino. Work your base and they will work for you. And the Republican base did.

While the Democratic base is just one of shifting sand.

One of the biggest frustrations my father had with the Democratic Party was the fact that they could win the battle but not the war. As soon as they'd attained a notable victory, the various factions within started in-fighting. Today, we seem hell-bent on an Armageddon amongst the Democrats between the Progressive ueber-Left and the rest of the party, whom they would like to see expelled for reasons of reality, compromise and pragmatism. The kids who took over the show in 1970 and demanded no compromise, no discussion, who engaged in shout-downs have now come back bigger and stronger - maybe not in numbers, as poll after poll always shows Americans identifying themselves as Liberal/Progressive numbering around 20% of the electorate. But they're aided and abetted by the 24/7 cable media and various internet aggregates, who repeatedly obsess, cherry-pick, second-guess, surmise and assume soundbitten titbits presented as fact, heavily coated with opinion.

Almost from the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency, they've nit-picked, parsed and second-guessed this man like no other President before him. At first, it was under the guise of constructive criticism, then it just became gratuitous, now it's become downright mean and nasty. When members of so-called Progressive Left begin to refer to the President as the Affirmative Action President or, as one particularly vile commentator on Huffington Post did recently, a "house nigger," then I'd say the Democratic Party was seriously in danger of imminent implosion. Remarks like that make it all too obvious that racism is alive and well and surreptitiously gnawing at the fibre of so-called progressivism, just below the surface, so that it doesn't necessarily show, unless one of the more unrestrained and immature elements loses control. The fact that Arianna Huffington's crack team of moderators let that remark stand speaks volumes for her ethics as well.

With all that in mind, it's no wonder John Boehner's got by in the past two years, retiring to the nearest bar to imbibe as soon as 5PM showed on the clock. Apart from just opposing everything on the President's agenda, all the GOP had to do was sit back and watch the Democrats destroy each other. They giggled at the Progressive sections open desires to rid the party of Blue Dogs. They watched the base perform erratically, to the extent that a media personality is an icon one week for saying the right thing, and a felon the next for disagreeing with the accepted opinion de jour. Our way or the highway.

I was raised to believe that as a liberal or a Liberal, we of the Left were tolerant, open-minded and inclusive. These days, I'm finding none of that in what purports to be the Democratic party. Instead, I'm finding intolerance, obdurance, close-mindedness, a strong authoritarian bend and a whiff of racism. And hatred. Lots and lots of hatred. Hatred for the Republicans, I can easily understand; but hatred of people within their own party, hatred of other types of Democrats on an equal proportion of that of the opposition, is unfathomable to me. The Blue Dogs are to be hated and defiled, the Obamabots, even the President, himself, and Southerners - there's a special hatred for Southerners. Why, we're all toothless, illiterate, shitkicking inbreds, who are all unreconstructed Confederates, who should have been left to secede. (Never mind the fact that most of these so-called intellectual effetes have trouble discerning "secede" from "succeed" and often end up inadvertantly wishing that we so-called "unreconstructed Confederates" had actually won the Civil War.)

It's more than an oxymoron that these same people deride the Republican party for marching lockstep, yet almost demand the same subservience within the Democratic party, whilst at the same time crowing about how diverse and individual our viewpoints are and how proud we were of that fact. Go figure, because I can't.

And I won't. Not anymore.

I'm done with the Democrats, done with politics and done with America. The Democrats have fucked themselves and played right into Karl Rove's game plan of GOP dominance. The so-called liberal media feed the lie to their viewing/listening public that the President is a poor communicator, when, in actual fact, the only way he has to communicate his program is via the media, who choose not to emphasize his successes, but dwell overlong on what they perceive to be his failures. They're part of strategy too. A Republican president would give them scores of angst-ridden material. Imagine Keith Olbermann counting the days until a President Palin would be up for re-election.

I'll vote in one more election. I'll vote for Obama in 2012, or whoever the Democratic candidate will be - which means, if there's a primary or he's forced into not running again, my vote will be as wasted a vote as my father cast for McGovern in 1972. And that reminds me of something else my father believed: That if you move too far to the Left, you find yourself on the Right.

After all, neocons are lapsed liberals. Ask Arianna Huffington. She should know.

Good-bye. It's been real.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why I'm Scared of Sarah Palin

While I’m not a person who scares easily, I’ll be brutally honest and say this woman scares me more than any politician I’ve known in any country. She scares me far more than the chillingly cheerful Russian leaders we were taught were our enemies when we were children. She scares me more than Franco, and I spent a fair amount of time in Spain when Franco was enjoying the last wind in his sails before his ultimate fall. She certainly scares me more than Maggie Thatcher or Ronald Reagan ever managed to do; and whilst I viewed the emergence of George Bush the Younger on the political scene in 2000 with the sort of horror reserved for observing an impossibly drunk fraternity boy opening his flies on a wintery evening to write his name in piss on the snow, I viewed Palin’s debut on the political stage with abject fright.

Just as I’d had Bush pegged as the rich frat guy you enjoyed hanging out with until he got drunk and puked on your shoes, from the minute I saw Palin, she oozed the mean girl gene. And I mean “mean.”

But what alarmed me even more, as the campaign season swung forward, was her abject ignorance. The interview with Charlie Gibson, where she had no idea what a particular foreign policy initiative was and tried to blag her way through the question (“In what respect, Charlie?” Smile sweetly, bat the eyelids.), impressed upon me the image of a woman who’d used her looks to progress as far as she had. She really was the Homecoming Queen who’d stepped up to the plate to become Queen of the Prom, and this was it. Then came the Katie Couric interview, where her answer to what newspapers she read (“some of’em, all of’em”) was a frantic clutching at straws and where her total ignorance of any Supreme Court decision was almost comical (“I’ll get back to ya on that one.”)

Then came the subtle hate speeches, where she intimated that Candidate Obama wasn’t exactly like any other candidate who’d run before, if he were, at all, like any American. After all, he “palled around” with terrorists.

In all honesty, I’m not certain whether Palin, herself, frightens me or whether what she and her followers radiate as a whole, frightens me more. It’s not just the cult of anti-elitism, it’s the ingrained idea that anyone who obtains a university degree from a quality institution, much less someone who attains a professional degree from a law school or a graduate degree is something pejorative. It’s the whole idea that they’ve almost been chosen by a cruel Christian god whom they’ve appropriated to impart their message of entitlement to take this country back to a time in which they fervently believe, but which actually never existed.

The Founding Fathers whose memories she verbally fondles in her speeches were the most elite members of society of their time. They were Deists, and some were even atheists. They were cultural products of the Age of Reason. If Thomas Jefferson or James Madison came back today, Palin would sneeringly label them “Democrats.” If Jesus Christ appeared, he’d be denounced as a Progressive and castigated. Again.

Palin’s made racism fashionable again. I guess you could say that racism is the new black this season, all because there’s an intelligent, articulate and compassionate black man in the White House. But it’s not that sort of racism. It’s the sort which leads people to make campaign adverts showing distinctly dark men hovering around a suspicious gate, intimating that Latinos are suspected of being here illegally; it’s the sort of ignorance borne of that sort of racism which leads a candidate for the United States Senate to remark condescendingly to a room of Latino students that some of them “looked Asian.” It’s a plea to “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” their inalienable right to worship as they please where they please. It’s pointing out in the worst possible and most tactless way that the First Lady of the United States is not “one of us,” whatever that means.

What frightens me even more is the attention this woman garners. Honestly, the late Princess of Wales didn’t garner this much hype at her peak. MSNBC gives her as much attention as Fox, and Fox employs her. Almost every morning, Joe Scarborough and his lackeys sit around their table and plot various ways by which this woman not only can secure the Republican Presidential nomination, they plot her course to the White House. Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann certainly talk about her as much as they ever did Hillary, but without the venom; and their criticisms are such that one is left with the definite impression that if they got the opportunity and she gave them the chance, they’d fuck her. On his latest Sunday program, Matthews even compared her favourably to Bill Clinton in political acumen.

The press are obsessing about her viability as a Presidential candidate. I wish they’d stop. Because the more they obsess, the more concrete the possibility becomes, and then I’m forced to remember that this is the country who deemed Richard Nixon dead in the water, after he went down in defeat to Pat Brown in the 1962 California gubernatorial race, and Nixon stormed back in 1968 to win, not one, but two terms as President. His second Administration not only left us with the legacy of Watergate, it also left us with Roger Ailes and Karl Rove, who cut their teeth either working on media strategy for the Republican party or ratfucking the Democrats in the name of Nixon.

And this is also the country which enabled the Supreme Court to annoint George W Bush as 43rd President of the United States, and then elected him to a second term out of sheer fear, they guy with whom you’d want to share a beer. This is the country who elected a black man to clean up the mess left by the trust fund frat boy, but who somehow can’t seem to accept the fact that this President speaks to us and treats us as though we’re children.

And the big fright is that there’s just about enough of us Oedipal enough to want to throw caution and reason to the wind, conjuring up age-old images of dark bogeymen, creatures from the black lagoon and things that go bump in the night, to seek solace in the bosom of a Mama Grizzly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Queens of Denial

In the aftermath of the mid-term shellacking, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about John Edwards and wondering, frankly, if the country, Right and Left, would have gone half as crazy as it appears to have gone, had Edwards kept his nose clean, his tackle in the box, won the nomination and entered the White House.

I’m inclined to think that most of the inanity we’ve witnessed since January 21, 2009, wouldn’t have occurred. The GOP may have been obtuse and tried to object to everything that was introduced as legislation, but I don’t think we would have seen the Tea Party. We certainly wouldn’t have seen elderly and undereducated, white Americans trawling through the streets with posters of Edwards as Hitler or Edwards as the Joker. He would have tried to effect his programs, most of which had a heavy social justice flavour, and Fox and Glenn Beck would have foamed and fulminated, accordingly; but we wouldn’t have witnessed Beck informing the world that Edwards was a racist, with a deep-seeded hate for white people. No one would have asked, demanded to see Edwards’s birth certificate; no one would have deemed him a socialist or a communist or a fascist or all three. No one would have prayed for his death.

More importantly and more than likely, he would have accomplished his legislation by means of compromise. That’s normal. It’s what politics is all about and it’s what politicians do – debate and compromise. You do this for me, and I’ll see that this is done for you. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Life in the political bubble. If such compromise meant Edwards’s legislation was a mite watered-down, his so-called Progressive base, most likely, would have swallowed hard and cut him some slack. After all, at least there would have been a Democrat in the White House.

And if he inevitable and selfsame mid-term shellacking had occurred under an Edwards Administration just under two years in the running, the so-called Progressive Left would have been discouraged, but not defeated. The photogenic President would have smiled that winning smile, shrugged his shoulders and said he’d try to plough on with or through the Republicans. Sure, there would have been a few odd political pundits saying he was already lame duck, but they would most likely have been of the Charles Krauthammer variety – curmudgeonly, cantankerous and conservative.

The first time I voted was in 1972, for George McGovern. I was 18, fresh out of high school and newly-arrived at my elite, East Coast college. The first President I remember is John Kennedy, but I remember him from the perspective of a small child and my parents’ gloss on his Presidency. Yet, I can never remember such a moment when any President has been so viciously, vindictively and ferociously hammered by his supporters as by his opponents as Barack Obama has been.

Has some of the criticism been justified? Of course. Presidents need this criticism, but more of the same has been simply gratuitous and – put simply – mean.

Immediately before the mid-term election, Jon Stewart held a Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC. Stewart’s beef was with the 24/7 cable media and the way they sought to obsess, parse, ueber-examine and analyse trivialities and, thus, elevate the mundane to the critical. The media, Stewart said at the end of his speech, makes the political problems we face insoluble. It polarizes and deepens the divide between the political Left and Right.

I would go further and say that the 24/7 cable media wants political problems to remain insoluble. It gives them talking points, increases their ratings and fattens their wallets. When their voices get louder, so do ours in return. And when we shout, we forget to listen, because we’re trying to get our own talking points established, never stopping to think that the talking points we are propagating are actually the talking points memed by the corporate media for the agendae they hope to achieve.

Add a few well-established and well-known internet media moguls to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

Last week, on Veterans’ Day, Howard Fineman, hack, published a piece in that bastion of journalistic integrity, The Huffington Post, the headline of which claimed with authority that the White House had "caved" on the Bush tax cuts. The article led one to believe that the President’s Special Advisor, David Axelrod, had admitted that the President will now push for an extension of all the tax cuts, for the rich as well as the middle class. The whole premise of the article was based on Axelrod’s comment, "We live in the world we live in" or something to that effect, which is a pretty innocuous statement. Not once did he mention compromise; he certainly never uttered the word "capitulation."

Talking Points Memo and The Daily Beast mentioned the article, with a link, but none of the "newsprint" sites covered it, except Greg Sargent, writing his Plum Line blog in the Washington Post; and Sargent’s blog was a refutation, or "refudiation" of the article, itself, complete with denial of intent by Axelrod and a summation that the article, itself, was false and misleading journalism. Later, The Daily Beast printed the refutation and stuck with it. But Howard the Hack made the ubiquitous rounds of MSNBC’s talk shows. Amidst Ed Schultz’s mouth-foaming tirades about how awful Obama was and what an abject failure he was, Howard the Hack side-stepped Ed’s pulpit to enter the spittle-filled solarium of his BFF, Chris Matthews, moved on from there to peddle his wares to Olbermann and finished up dissing Obama with that noted political pundit, Jane Hamsher, on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show.

By Friday night, Bill Maher and Michael Moore (he, who told us in 2000, that Bush and Gore were the same, therefore we should vote for Nader – how well that worked out!) were waxing lyrical about how Obama had "caved" on the Bush tax cuts.

Ne’mind, the President was in Southeast Asia, on a trip the Rightwing would have you believe was costing the taxpayer $200 dollars a day.

Also on Friday, Chris Matthews devoted 12 minutes of his show to Mark Halperin (son of a Nixon operative) and John Heilemann, discussing a possible primary challenge from the Left for Obama in 2012. I don’t know who salivated more at the prospect, Chris or the journalistic duo, one of whom had already plotted Palin’s path to the Presidency in 2012.

As things never cease happening in threes, over the weekend, the Washington Post printed an article by recusant Democrats, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen (both token Fox "liberals") reckoning that it would be best for all concerned if President Obama announced immediately that he was not going to run for a second term in 2012 and spent the next two years stabilising the economy with the Republicans. Such a philanthropic feat would set a precedent for the Presidency, and Obama would be fondly remembered in a warm, fuzzy haze by a grateful nation ...

Just like Ol’Massa and Ol’Missus like to sit on the verandah of the old home place, remembering kindly, old black Uncle Rhemus, who used to tell them stories.

That’s it, Mr President, you’re time’s up. Thanks for helping us out and holding the fort for four years, but that’s your lot. You’ll be remembered as the first African American President, and that probably means the only African American President – but, hey! We haven’t had another Catholic since Kennedy, and at least you’re getting out alive, Mr President! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

As if that article weren’t enough, again the ubiquitous Huffington Post published on Sunday a blog by that noted political correspondent (not), Deepak Chopra, calling for Obama either to eschew running for re-election or be primaried.

The sheeple who populate HuffPo’s commentary fold went wild with delight! Oh, yes, please! A primary! Elizabeth Warren! Alan Grayson! Russ Feingold! Hillary! ABO ... Anybody But Obama! He’s got cooties!

Of course, as opinions are like assholes, everyone of the sheeple had one, and all of them were ignorant of history:-

■1968: Lyndon Johnson is primaried by Eugene McCarthy. Johnson drops out and does not run for a second term. McCarthy and Robert Kennedy duke it out until Kennedy is killed. Then McCarthy and his fellow Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey endure an ugly, bad-tempered Democratic Convention, for Humphrey to get the nod. The Democrats lost. We got Richard Nixon and Watergate, which begat Roger Ailes, Pat Buchanan, a college senior from Texas named Karl Rove, and the Southern Strategy, as a result of the beginning of the Democrats’ abandonment of its original base in the Midwest and the South.
■1976: Gerald Ford is primaried by Ronald Reagan. Ford wins the nomination, but loses the election.
■1980: Jimmy Carter is primaried by Ted Kennedy all the way to the convention, where Carter wins the nomination, Kennedy gets drunk and refuses to acknowledge Carter on the podium after the nomination. Result? Carter loses the election, and we get 12 years of Republican rule, Morning in America, trickledown, unregulated credit, faux prosperity, the First Gulf War and the Reagan Democrats.
■1992: Poppy Bush is primaried by Pat Buchanan. Bush loses the election.
Anybody not notice the obvious pattern? Presidents who are primaried do not win the ensuing election. The voters perceive the Presidential party as vapid, weak, shallow and unfit to govern and abandon it like rats deserting a sinking ship.

And just when you think it’s safe to go into the water again, up sprouts HuffPo’s Howard the Hack, like a veritable hack-in-the-box, with an article today, promoting an Independent ticket comprised of Michael Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough. That’s right: Michael-40 billion-dollar-fortune-I’ve-been-a-Democrat-Republican-and-now-an-Independent-Bloomberg and Joe-dead-woman-in-the-back-office-Scarborough.

Ne’mind, Bloomberg is saying, both publically and privately (and stridently), that he has no plans to run for President, either in 2012 or anytime, as Howard the Hack points out, with a nudge and a wink, plans change.

(Pssst! Hey, we’re the meeja! We can make things happen. Plant that seed, and watch it grow. After all, we were the ones who planted the seed about the skinny black guy. I mean, who wanted a dour-looking middle-aged woman who looked like your first wife hanging around outside a probate court?)

And the dittoes duly popped up, just like the teapot dummies in the Mock the Dummy videos, piping how much they liked Bloomberg, liked Joe, would vote for that ticket rather than Obama. After all, Obama’s everything compromising and now, according to Lieutenant Choi, he’s probably a homophobe too.

(And did we mention that he’s black? You see, that’s what’s really bothering us, although we don’t want to come off sounding like those toothless, unwashed, misspelling people on the Right. It’s different, you see. Our concern, well ... it really isn’t racism, it’s just ... just ... well, he doesn’t act like we thought a REAL black President would act. Can we say that? Well, Bill Maher said pretty much the same thing, and he’s not racist. I mean, he’s dated black women.)

Give me strength.

Those are the thought processes of the puerile voting public – the ones who stayed at home and sulked or maybe the 30% of the LGBT voters who voted Republican as a protest, although how they think Republicans can help their cause is beyond my ken. Jim DeMint doesn’t even think them fit to front a classroom of children, so they’ve made great progress there.

These are the people who buy into the media’s assessment that the President, the White House and the Democrats, in general, are just not great communicators who couldn’t get the message of their achievements across.

I say poppycock, and those people need an exercise in listening at source. An administration gets its message to the people by means of the media at hand, which has a moral duty to be resonsible, honest and – dare I say it? - fair and balanced. After all, the same radio networks who carried FDR’s Fireside Chats also carried the racist invective of Father Coughlan. But that sort of honesty doesn’t exist in this day and age, and the President has been woefully undermined by the 24/7 cable media.

Fox will always prove recalcitrant. They are, after all, the broacasting PAC of the Republican Party, but the sad truth is that the other two cable giants, MSNBC and CNN, follow Fox’s leads in promoting some of the cack they’ve generated about Obama. The Palin agenda is pushed nearly every day on MSNBC, and this is a woman who recognises that any publicity is good publicity. Hosts on MSNBC’s opinion shows interview birthers, tenthers and Teabaggers. They give them credence from one side of their corporately-funded mouths, whilst parsing each word the President utters from the other side, including a lot of speculation on what he could have said, should have said and needs to say. So much criticism masked as "advice", and now various Progressives are beginning to openly refer to the President as the "Affirmative Action" President.

(But we can’t be racist. Not us. We’re from the Left, dontcha know?)

It’s a really sad reflection on what’s really at stake in America and establishes for me, the truth that the myth of the ugly American is, in fact, a reality. The great media-managed experiment in post-racial politics is going down a failure, according to those who know. The only thing the Left really has to push for is a primary, to rid the country of a President who couldn’t undo in two years, what it took thirty to accomplish.

I wait with baited breath to see the next political darling of the Left. Considering the wannabe movers and shakers in this world of poltical illusion, where nothing and no one is as it seems, I suspect various blowhards with a following on the Left will try to push Joe Sestak to primary Obama. Bill Maher and Michael Moore literally paid homage to him as the porcelain god of the Progressivism on Bill’s show last Friday night; and as Bill’s mommy, Mrs Huffington, likes to think of herself as a viable pundit, she might like to extend her empire into the realm of king-making. So be it. He’s photogenic, he talks tough and he’s got nothing to lose. It would be no skin off his ass if such a venture rendered the Democratic Party unelectable for the foreseeable future, because the Republicans would inevitably win that war.

It just seems as if intransigent idealogy has infected the Left as much as the Right, and in cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face, one finds one unable to smell a stink brewing just off the horizon, so a more explicit warning might be due those who are so deaf that they refuse to hear.

Think about this aspect for 2012: A President Palin in the White House, with mooseburgers being barbecued on the South Lawn and various and sundry baby daddies being given lodgings in the White House. Or if that doesn’t scare you, try this out for size: Attorney General Joe Miller.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hackery Dickery Duped

People just don't know and won't believe that the President doesn't legislate.

This tax cuts brouhaha is another "death panel" debate. It's when someone takes a concept, labels it and spins it like a top. We all know the origin of the "death panel" meme and how, eventually, it resulted in a good and viable concept - end of life care - being scrapped.

Well, this year's model is the Bush tax cuts. HuffPo DELIBERATELY ran with a storyline that was nothing more than out-and-outright libel: deliberately misquoting a high-ranking White House official and writing an article surrounding that misquote that was a tissue of lies as well as a gaggle of supposition, innuendo and second-guessing. HuffPo, pointedly, stated that the White House was "CAVING" on the tax cuts.

It was a non-story spun into a panic, and the sheeple bought it. Countless numbers of petitions started, Facebook pages springing up, people CONDEMNING the President. This happened on Thursday. The previous Saturday in his weekly address, the President solidly affirmed, yet again, that the Bush tax cuts would be made permanent for families earning less than $250K and individuals earning less than $200K. He also CONFIRMED that it was impossible to allow such tax cuts for the rich to become permanent.

NOWHERE, other than Huffington Post, did this story appear. The Daily Beast and Talking Points Memo picked it up, but with a link to HP, as if they didn't want to claim it. It was the "real" newspapers who broke its credence: Greg Sargent in The Plum Line, his WaPo blog, actually followed the story up, calling up Axelrod and speaking to other White House communications people.

Axelrod totally disclaims he either said or implied anything about the WH caving on the tax cuts. Sargent printed this and his own opinion was that the White House was telling the truth, and that Huffington Post was doing the spinning. Later the NYT reiterated that.

At a press conference in Japan, the President was inundated with questions about this, including a particularly smartass one from Savannah Guthrie (and someone should tell this woman that the President of the United States needs to be addressed with RESPECT) about how he was "negotiating" these tax cuts, which prompted him to reply shortly that he negotiated in Washington and not in Japan.

Pretty obvious that everyone believes an irresponsible cub reporter and a has-been political hack trying to score points and promote his boss lady's anti-Obama agenda rather that the President, himself.

And to add insult to injury and to PROVE a point I've laboured long and hard, it's bad enough that some so-called Progressives are referring to Obama as the "affirmative action" President, but one person in particular blamed all of this on David Axelrod, whom she called the "fat, drunken Jew."

Of course, HuffPo wants Obama to be forced into making the top-tier tax cuts permanent. Are you kidding? Madam will be rolling in clover; besides, how many times does one need to be told that Huffington Post is a faux Progressive site.

Yesterday, the same authors published an "update" on the original article, quoting Obama's definitive denial of their premise, but its gist was highly suggestive, with a dismissive air that implied the President wasn't to be believed. The big red tabloid banner which graced the site yesterday proclaimed that George Bush lifted huge portions of his recently-published book from other sources. In other words, he plagiarised. That's rich for Huffington, considering she was sued in a very BIG and very PUBLIC way years ago when she was Miss Stanisopoulos, living in Britain off the coattails of the late Bernard Levin and trying desperately to be accepted as a part of the British political media intelligentsia, for plagiarism. In fact, that high-profiled case at the High Court signaled her departure from the United Kingdom for our shores, where - it appears - we are a bit more gullible and shallow when it comes to Greeks causing shifts and rifts.

Today, however, various other authors who wrote about and studied the Bush Administration, including Bob Woodward, the unofficial Presidential muckraker who wrote four books on the Bush regime, slapped Huffington Post in the chops on this "exclusive," saying that Bush would have had access to NSC documentation and memos, as would others who have written about the regime; but most professionals who have read his book deny that there is any plagiarism as such.

A lot of people opine that Huffington Post is fast becoming Drudge for Progressives. I prefer to think of its editor-in-chief as the reincarnation of P T Barnum's belief that there's a sucker born every minute, thus proving that certain elements of the Left are as gullible as the Right.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

He's Not Your Boyfriend

Keith Olbermann got an indefinite suspension without pay handed to him yesterday. Nobody died. Nobody declared war. No one detonated a suicide bomb. There was no tsunami, no earthquake, no raging forest fire, no loss of life.
A 51 year-old celebrity talking head, who earned upwards of $8 million dollars per year knowingly breached a clause in his contract and got handed his ass on a plate.
Everyday someplace in this country, various and sundry fiftysomethings get handed their asses on a plate, usually by management in a company/industry where they’ve been working for the past thirty years; but they don’t have an $8 million dollar salary to sustain them, nor will many of them ever hope to work again, unlike Keith, who – if he’s not retained – will probably grace the portals of CNN for an even bigger salary.
But the way people are responding to this in the blogosphere is nothing less than astounding, and I don’t mean that in a good way. There’s been such a cyber renting of raiments and a gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair that all this expounded grief would find a better home in a Cecille B DeMille biblical blockbuster.
All of a sudden, the election is forgotten. The fact that a dangerous Republican party with a virulently reactionary Rightwing has just taken control of the House of Representatives, the fact that these people and their cohorts in the Senate won’t articulate their so-called American promise to remedy our economic woes, the fact that the Senate Minority Leader is dictating events as though he’s won a mandate, himself, to rid the White House of the black man in the Oval Office, the fact that a nationally elected official from the GOP is spreading an obvious lie all over the country about the totally inflated cost of the President’s 10-day trip to Asia, has all gone with the wind in the face of the fact that Keith Olbermann has been put on indefinite suspension without pay.
People are demanding boycotts of MSNBC, Starbucks and ComCast. People are speculating how long it will be before Rachel Maddow is the next head to roll. People are blaming ComCast, especially the CEO they’ve put in charge of MSNBC, pointing to Bushian associations and Republican leanings. There are petitions, there are pleadings.
If the so-called Democratic base had been this galvanised on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi would be looking forward to another stint as Speaker for the 112th Congress.
What does that say about us that we could get all up in arms about a multi-millionaire talking head, a man whose ego is so ginormous and so thin-skinned that he won’t tolerate divergent points of view on his program every night, but we couldn’t be assed to go and vote in this election?
Oh, sorry … just remembered. Keith doesn’t vote either. He just criticizes politicians and the government. Sorry, Keith, but the way I was raised, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice; and without that voice, you’ve no right to criticize the elected government, because your non-vote gave them tacit approval.
And you have even less right to hold a nightly bully pulpit in which to influence the opinions of others.
Many of these lost souls lament the loss of a voice. Pardon me, but I didn’t realise we on the Left suffer from collective laryngitis or that we’d somehow elected Keith Olbermann to speak for us.
I didn’t.
I may agree with a lot of things he says, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes he gets it wrong, and I have more than a little bit of a hard time with a man who refers to a woman as a mashed up piece of meat with lipstick, I don’t care what her party affiliation is. That man, that person, doesn’t speak for me.
It also bothers me a great deal to hear people from the Left lament the fact that there are no people on “our side” who can compare to the GOP operatives who spew for Fox. We’re supposed to be better than dittoes. Let the Rightwing and their Teabagging counterparts hang on every word of Beck, Hannity and Whoever the rising star of the moment in Murdochland be. Those people are used to being told what to think and how to think from the religious pulpit to the Republican demagogues.
Yet we’re cultivating our own brand who swear by Ed Schultz’s carpet-ridden rants and worship at the altar of St Keith.
Keith Olbermann made three financial contributions to as many Democratic Congressional and Senate candidates this year, one on the day he interviewed one of the three to whom he contributed. He made the maximum disclosable amount possible, which indicates that he knew that his contribution would be published in their individual disclosures … which means he knew MSNBC would find out what he’d done.
NBC and its cable affiliate MSNBC have had, since 2007, contracts which contain a clause forbidding news and opinion journalist personnel from making political donations to candidates or political parties without first obtaining permission from their respective managements.
Keith didn’t, so he is in breach of contract and was punished, accordingly.
This is what firms/companies/industries/businesses do when employees break the rules.
But I will admit that something doesn’t ring true in all of this: Since he was told to leave the premises of MSNBC on Friday, Keith’s been silence itself. Usually, when his ego’s been dented or he feels his pride’s been dealt a blow or someone’s done committed a grievous wrong against him, Keith hits the Twittersphere. This time, there’s been nothing.
And that silence brings a few conspiracy theories of my own to the fore.
First, after listening to Rachel Maddow’s excellent and rational comment on Keith’s suspension Friday evening, I thought that maybe this was a contrived event for a particular purpose. Rachel’s lengthy remarks weighed in heavily with fact-based findings and statements about how Fox (News) not only allows its news and opinion personnel to contribute to various GOP candidates’ campaigns, they also allow themselves and the candidates licence to ask for donations. The also have on their payroll at the moment, no less than five people who, plausibly, could be in contention for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012.
In other words, Fox is acting more like a PAC for the Republican party than the “fair and balanced” news organisation it purports to be.
MSNBC, on the other hand, has standards written into employment contracts to which its employees must adhere, regarding political contributions or endorsements. When the employee breaks that rule, he’s punished.
This is what news organisations do.
So maybe MSNBC contrived this whole occurrance by which they’ve driven home the point to the American public which the President stated over a year ago – Fox News is really the propaganda arm of the Republican Party.
Or, maybe Keith orchestrated this whole brouhaha for a different reason. Keith has form in leaving jobs with panache. He’s usually fired and asked never to return to the premises. CNN approached him in 2006, offering him all sorts, the least of which being MSNBC’s total destruction by Countdown moving to CNN. That manouevre fell through, but maybe someone’s said something at which he’s biting. A bit of suspension time, his dittoes going mad on the blogosphere, a lot of publicity drummed up a la Conan.
Or … maybe he just broke the damned rules and is being punished.
Either way, people are reacting to this as if this were a tragedy of immense proportions. When I pointed out to a self-righteous soul on Facebook that Keith was a millionaire who, if he had to do so, would walk away from MSNBC to another network with no trouble at all, whilst his counterparts in ordinary life are doomed to unemployment insurance which the Republican Party would love to deny them; when I pointed out to this Left Coast soul that Keith would be all right, but his ordinary life counterpart would suffer, she gave me the po-faced reply of a prima donna: “And so will liberty.”
People, this man is a millionaire pundit who lives a lifestyle, even in unemployment, of which you can only dream. He’s employed by a major news corporation for a seven-figure salary, and he’ll probably live to be employed by another news corporation for an even bigger seven-figure salary. He’ll have Cadillac healthcare until the day he dies and the best tickets to Yankees’ games.
He’s a celebrity talking head, he’s not your boyfriend or your husband or your brother or the guy you have a drink with or the fella in your old fraternity. And whilst he loves your tweets and your online petitions and your threats made to MSNBC, he’s just nto that into you.
What he is into is his own brand, his ego, the size and weight of his wallet and the ratings for the corporation which pays him. Lately, his protegee, Rachel Maddow, has been bettering Keith in the ratings stakes … and that might well have something to do with this too.
At the end of the day, Keith is a voice for Keith, and a voice for whatever MSNBC want him to promote. We have our own voices on the Left. We don’t need corporate hacks, however many charitable ventures they front or promote, voicing opinions we’re capable of forming, ourselves. We should channel our critical thinking gene, even if that sometimes means listening to opinions from the other side of the spectrum.
My guess is that Olbermann will be back. There will be a brief, perfunctory apology and then it will be business as usual, with maybe even a return of the Worst Person in the World. Last Saturday at the Rally to Restore Sanity, Keith reckoned Jon Stewart had jumped the shark when Stewart included Keith next to Glen Beck in a montage of blowhards from both political extremes who contribute to the polarisation and ineffectuality at problem-solving in this country.
Friday the shark Stewart jumped took a chunk out of Keith.
Good night and good luck.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Manning Up to Maypo Madness & Mourning in America

Two years ago, the American people delivered their mandate. They chose an intelligent, intellectual, well-spoken and inspirational African American man to lead their country as President of the United States. Not only did they merely elect him and his party, they did so resoundingly, and in such a way that the most hardened and experienced of political advisors reckoned that the Republican Party was dead in the water.

All it had taken to kill them off was 8 years of the most ineffectual, incompetent and corrupt President in the history of the United States: George W Bush.

But the American people have a problem, and this problem has developed over the past 30 years.

The American people are stupid.

The American people are childlike.

The American people are spoiled.

Thirty-four years ago, we elected another inspirational, intelligent and articulate man from the Deep South to lead our nation. He spoke to us as adults and told us the problems we faced as a nation and what we needed to do, together, to solve those problems. He tried to wean us off oil, and in the four years in which he held office, our daily oil consumption was halved. He installed solar panels in the White House. His name was Jimmy Carter, and his quest for re-election to a second term was sabotaged and doomed to failure when an American political legend, the last surviving son of a political dynasty, challenged the serving President to a primary and fought him for the nomination right up to the party convention.

When Carter secured the nomination at that convention, Ted Kennedy got drunk. No surprise, that – Kennedy and his estranged wife, Joan, were pretty much raving alcoholics during that time. Kennedy was still drunk when he appeared with Carter, in a staged show of unity, later in the evening on the podium. He barely acknowledged the man.

To the American people, the Democrats of 1980 appeared shallow, vapid, petty, divided and unfit to rule. And so a legion of them decamped to vote for the happy Gipper, who promised them a shining city on a hill and morning in America. He then proceeded to deregulate the finance and credit industries, allowing Americans, through their plastic, to learn that it was no shame to live in debt, because sometimes you just needed a brighter and shinier object than the one your neighbour had to make you feel better .. or richer.

He also repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which had, heretofore, established responsible guidelines pertaining to the reporting of news and opinion. With that repeal, he indirectly bestowed upon the American people the wisdom of Rush Limbaugh.

In response, after he had shuffled away from the Oval Office to live out the twilight of his life, eating jelly beans and dozing off in the opaque haze of Alzheimer’s, the grateful American people named an airport after him, and the Republican party idolized both the man and his tenure in office.

OK, we lost on Tuesday. Two years after a resounding triumph, which really should have sounded a death knell on the Republican Party, they’re pumped up and calling the shots, while we’re … well, we’re in vapid, shallow, divided and unfit to rule mode again – you know, acting like Democrats.
Well, I say we channel a great, fighting Democrat from the past, Harry Truman, and paraphrase a favourite saying of his:

The FUCK stops here.

You got that, Democrats? Stop it. Right now. Fall out from the circular firing squad, pointing fingers and blaming this one and that one, but mostly, the President. To quote a well-known sage from the Dark Side, we now have to regroup and reload.

Let’s take a leaf from the Republicans’ book. When everyone else was counting them down and out, they stuck together like glue. They determined a policy of no cooperation and stuck with it lock-step. They won the house on lies and platitudes, but no promises and no concrete plans. Ask them how they’re going to solve the jobs’ problem, and they change the subject. Ask them what their plans are for revitalising the economy, and they just say, “Wait and see.”

They got a message to the people without getting a message to the people. Most refused to debate their Democratic opponents. The ones who could have done so – and, maybe, brilliantly – ignored the prospect. Eric Cantor must have enormous self-esteem problems. He was reduced to being doggedly followed from county fair to book signings, by his Democratic opponent, Rick Waugh, asking, pleading, begging, demanding that he face him in a debate. Cantor refused to even recognise him. Perhaps Eric is practicing effeteness, waiting longingly for the day when his big, rich, Protestant Christian corporate financers invite him into the sacred portals of their exclusive country clubs for a round of golf and a four-course dinner.

Forget it, Eric. You’re nothing more than their pet Jew, their own personal little Semitic Step’n Fetchit.

And when these people did debate Democratic opponents, they showed their ignorance – like Christine O’Donnell, smugly telling Chris Coons, a constitutional lawyer, that he didn’t know the Constitution, asking pertly where exactly “separation of Church and State” was in the Constitution she professed to love so much she carried a copy with her wherever she went.
Well, Eric the Avoider is back in the Nation’s Capital and on course to be the next House Majority Leader, whilst Gidget Goes to Washington didn’t make Washington. (Never mind the fact that she’ll probably be picked up by Fox News for a seven-figure salary along with Sean Hannity in her pocket, but there you go.)

I’m not saying we Democrats should do all that – act like assholes and – well, act like ignorant assholes. But we should learn the language of lockstep for our own survival.

Look, I know we’re a big tent. You look at a Democratic convention, and you see America. You look at a Republican convention, and you see apartheid. Not only are we Democrats diverse ethnically and demographically, we’re also diverse philosophically -Blue Dogs, centrist Third Way proponents, liberals, progressives, whatever: At the end of the day, we’re still Democrats.

Listen, if you scratch a Republican, you’ll find they’re pretty diverse philosophically too. A Jim DeMint is no way like a Richard Lugar; Rand Paul is no Olympia Snowe. But they know how to close ranks when the going gets tough.

Three days ago, I stumbled upon something pretty disturbing – various writers and commenters amongst the Democratic base are now referring to our President as “the Affirmative Action President.”

That’s disgusting, but it proves a point I’ve been making for months and for which I’ve been roundly criticized by some of the so-called open minds which make up a part of that base. The Right treat the President like an uppity n-word, and some elements of the Progressive Left treat him like the lovechild of an Affirmative Action appointee and Prissy from Gone With the Wind.

Another thing I read this week, which was pretty alarming, was the fact that only 9% of young people voted this time. The New York Times published an article wherein the reporter asked various young voters why they weren’t bothering to go to the polls on Tuesday. One kid replied that he couldn’t be bothered with Obama because Obama didn’t go on The Daily Show enough.


That’s pretty stupid.

But then, we’re pretty stupid. In fact, we’re so stupid, that we expect this President to undo shoddy practices that started in earnest 30 years ago and were exacerbated during the first 8 years of this decade – in other words, right the wrongs of 30 years in 2.

People are hurting, that’s true. People have lost jobs, education’s gone downhill, and the dollar in your pocket is leaner; but we have to look in the mirror sometime and acknowledge that we were encouraged to embrace greed and pleasure as an antidote to actually paying attention to what was really happening in our country during those years.

Wasn’t it a wise, Republican sage who advised us to go shopping in the wake of 9/11? Then he set about reminding us of what mortal danger we were in, so that we remained in a state of perpetual fear. Hey, it’s always easy to control frightened children.

The Left has spent so much time bickering and backbiting during the past two years, that we’ve actually come to the point where most of us refuse to listen to the President. Why listen to him anyway, when you’ve got the pundits on television to do that for you? Anyway, the President’s lost his campaign gift of eloquence and is no longer capable of communication.

Listen to another pundit, and you’re told that the President just “isn’t into” the Middle Class problems – never mind the fact that he only awarded them their biggest tax cut in history.

The President and we the people of the Left have been ill-served by our self-appointed media outlet, MSNBC. They purport to be the polar opposite of Fox. Well, Fox always had George Bush’s back. Bush could have barbecued puppies on the South Lawn of the White House and served them up on a bed of babies’ heads, and Fox would have convinced its audience that that was the most normal thing in the world.

I’m not saying that the President shouldn’t be criticized. He should. He expects it, but MSNBC has gratuitous criticism down to an art form. The President’s party got smacked in the mid-terms. We lost the House and have a slim majority in the Senate. That’s a fact of life. Politics, at least for the next two years, are going to resemble kabuki theatre. The first thing the President did – which was the first thing Bill Clinton did in 1994 and Ronald Reagan in 1982 and LBJ in 1966 and Harry Truman in 1946 – is shoulder the blame and extend the olive branch, saying that now, more than ever, the two parties have to find some common ground and work together. I’m sorry, but that’s a fact of life.

But in the wake of this, we get the likes of Ed Schultz pussifying the President and Michael Moore adamantly stating that “the President just doesn’t get it” and advocating fist-banging and dictating.

How patronising.

And then come the rumours already of a possible primary challenge in 2012 from either Russ Feingold or Howard Dean, and sll the dittoes on the Huffington Post gleefully hope for this, refusing to believe that this would result in the truly frightening prospect of President Palin and the Party of Winkin’. Or maybe they just subscribe to the Meghan McCain school of history: “I wasn’t born then so I just don’t know (and don’t care).”
Michele Bachmann is interviewed, first by Chris Matthews and then by Anderson Cooper, and totally ignores the questions asked her – with Cooper, going on a totally unjustified and untrue rant about the President’s upcoming state visit to India costing the taxpayer $200 billion dollars – a fact she nabbed totally from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, who actually went on to fantasize about the President being assassinated whilst on this tour.

And MSNBC doesn’t answer this crap at all, save for Rachel, whom I’m convinced is the only journalist in that entity with any integrity. Instead Schultz gets his time in castigating the President for complying with the Republicans, while Moore adds to the already incessant Huffington meme that the President doesn’t get America, Americans or his party.
Michael, I think he does.

The man isn’t stupid. He knows, without having to hear it from Mitch McConnell or John BONER, that these guys want him vacating the premises in 2012. They would do anything, including foisting an unqualified, ignorant and vindictive person on the nation, convincing the soccer and Walmart moms that she’s just like us. They would stomp on heads and promote vicious lies. They would sell their collective souls to ensure that the only black man in the White House is serving coffee to them, instead of sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. He knows what he can do. He knows what he can’t do.

And he needs our support now more than ever. The Democrats in the Senate and those remaining in the House have got to learn to act en bloc. No voting against the party and no posturing. And we, their constituents, have not only got to make sure that our elected officials do that – after all, our taxes pay their salaries – we have to ensure that we remain en bloc too.

Anyone wanting to primary this President needs to get out of the way. There’s another party waiting to embrace you. They’re called the GOP. Anybody believing the Huffington meme that the President doesn’t care about the middle class needs to read a bit of her pedigree too.

Treehugging Newt Gingrich on holiday in August isn’t my idea of what the self-appointed Voice of Progressives should be doing.

And Ed Schultz’s rant in response to Robert Gibbs’s Professional Left criticism in August, when Schultz demanded that Progressives stay home instead of voting, would put him in pole position to be considered Press Secretary for the new Republican Majority Leader and fellow Virginian – just imagine, Reckless Eric and Big Ed Do Washington.

The first thing we on the Left have to do is man up, as Sharron Angle, the Gladys Kravits of the Republican Party advised Harry Reid. (I guess he was more “man up” than she imagined, considering that he’s bound for Washington and another six-year term and she’s left in Nevada bleaching her sheets in anticipation of having to confront all those brown-skinned Asians creeping across the non-existent Canadian boundary fence in order to terrorise Americans). Manning up means learning to recognise that a lot of what we’re dished up by the so-called progressive media (be it 24/7 cable or internet) is a load of hoke, that they have an agenda (which is usually their ego, their wallet size, their ratings/clicks and the corporate entity that’s funding them), and that we’re perfectly capable of formulating our own opinions, thank you very much.

We the people are entitled to be responsibly informed by a responsible media. When MSNBC parses the President’s every word, second-guesses his every action, and promotes on a daily basis the possibility of Sarah Palin mounting a Presidential campaign , they’re not serving us very well at all and are no friend either to us, the Democratic Party or the President.

We’ve got a rough two years ahead of us, and we have to start acting cohesively by turning OFF irresponsible pundits and tuning into our own critical thought processes.

Otherwise, we’re in for an indefinite period of mourning in America.

If that doesn’t scare you, just remember that a drunken friend of corporate lobbyists is two heartbeats away from the Presidency now.