Thursday, March 31, 2011

DON'T PANIC ... It's Just the C I A

Most of the Rightwing are confused over Libya. They don’t know how to respond to the way the President has responded. Let’s be honest: Gaddafi’s not exactly your Hosni Mubarak. I mean, he doesn’t walk around in a tailored suit kitted out by Brooks Brothers. So whilst it’s funny to watch the Right contort themselves into a position where it seems as though they’re almost forced to side with Gaddafi in this mess, they haven’t exactly bought into another version of the big lie propaganda being subtly promoted by a less than salubrious media.

The latest magnificent obsession we’re being asked to gobble to the point of nausea is the fact that the President has signed a secret order authorising C I A operatives to go to Libya and liaise with the rebel forces.

With that announcement – let’s call it a leak, because that’s what it was – all the Firebaggers are crawling from the woodwork, all the Kucinichivites and Moorebots are wagging fingers and twittering remorselessly about something they had realised from the getgo, but which we lesser mortals, uncomprehendingly refuse to believe.

There! TOLD YA! Obama lied. No ground troops in Libya? Ha! Tell me another one. NOW tell me he’s not like Bush.

Well, he’s not. Sorry to disappoint you, but the C I A is not “troops on the ground,” and that secret order, the existence of which has just been released, was probably signed and blown into live several weeks ago, when this whole kerfuffle started, or shortly thereafter.

Tell you another thing too … They’re not alone, because MI5, the British Secret Service and their version of the C I A, has been right along beside them all the time.

Use your common sense, Firebaggers, Kucinichivites and Moorebots … how the hell else do you think Britain, France and the US got ground information about where Gaddafi’s army and military materiel was located? How do you think they knew where heavily concentrated civilian areas were in order to avoid collateral damage in the bombing raids? There’ve been intelligence operatives in that country for quite sometime.

In fact, they’re everywhere and in every country. In most of the Western countries, our allies, there’s a C I A operative planted in every U S embassy – a cultural or political attache or one of their respective staff. In countries which aren’t so friendly, their cover is deeper. And the same game is played with us on our home soil. How many years did that bevy of Russian spies live amongst the people in suburban New Jersey and Washington DC before their covers were blown?

Spies are just what they are: spies. They blend in with the scenery until the become part and parcel of the fixtures and fittings of a country. If they’re very good, they never get caught or exposed until well past their useful dates. If they are discovered, they know enough to face the consequences. It’s part of their job. They don’t swan around in Aston Martins, drinking martinis which are shaken and not stirred like 007, and they don’t disappear down telephone booths or use shoe phones like Maxwell Smart.

They’re there for a reason, and they’re here for a reason too, so let’s not panic and call the President a liar and stamp your feet and act like the emotional adolescents you are. One of the main reasons they’re in and about Libya is not only to find out the extent of Gaddafi’s strength or weakness, but also to find out exactly who these insurgents are whom we’re helping at the moment. After all, it pays to know if the enemy of your enemy is really your friend of just another asshole-in-training.

Who knows who leaked information about their existence or why it was leaked, but maybe it was done as a test. Maybe it was done for the President’s amusement, so he could watch the 24/7 news boys and girls push the fear and resentment button and watch the children perform their dance of indignance.

I guess after all the crap with which he has to deal, he needs a laugh, and he also needs to gauge the intellectual calibre of the country he governs.

A Well-Informed Electorate Elects a Responsible Government? Ask Eric Cantor

“Reckless Eric” Cantor is a marvel to behold.

As a Congress, consisting of Tea Partying ignorati and well-heeled, corporately-funded and criminally-intentioned spivs on one side and spineless and cowering Mr Pooters crying out for nursemaids on the other, dithers and dathers about finalising a government budget, our Eric steps manfully into the fray to annouce that, should the Senate not decide to come to the table and submit a budget proposal for consideration before the approaching deadline of April 6th, then the budget passed by the House – the one which cuts Federal funding for such dangerous organisations as Planned Parenthood and NPR – will automatically become the law of the land, fiscally.

Our Eric says that with certainty. He says it, not only with certainty, but with clarity before the nation’s news media, who scribble away furiously on their notepads and raise nary a query about his pronouncement.

Well, our Eric is wrong. And with that arrogantly simple-minded statement, he proves patently that he’s unfit for the office of Congressman from the 7th District of the Commonwealth of Virginia, ne’mind Majority Leader for the House of Representatives.

Somewhere, in some nether world, James Madison, who shares a common Virginian heritage with Eric and me, is screaming from beyond the grave. If you cup your ear, you can probably hear him.

What an insult to the author of the Constitution, that not only a Congressman, but also a leading politician from Madison’s home state, should be so ignorant of Congressional and Constitutional procedure!

I’m a product of the public school system in the Commonwealth. Way back in the dark ages, when Richard Nixon was President and VietNam was still in swing, as a high school junior and as part of my curriculum, I had to take a year-long civics course, simply entitled “Government.” Every high school junior and senior in the Commonwealth had to take the course, and we all had a red and blue textbook, with the title “U S Government” emblazoned in white across the front.

Up in Fauquier County, my teacher was a retired Army officer and avowed libertarian from an old Virginia family, named Col Slater V Marshall. We spent the entire first semester, studying the Constitution and the government, its three branches and their functions and how they related and policed one another in the system of checks and balances. We learned about elections. On Fridays, we discussed events current in the news and debated the hot topics of the day. When we’d finished an exhaustive study of our own government, at some point in the school year, we learned how a parliamentary democracy works, and we also studied how the then-Soviet Union was set up to govern.

One of the things we learned, whilst studying our own government, is how a bill becomes a law. As part of our exam process, we had to reiterate, in essay form, the passage of a bill from the moment it was introduced to the moment it became law.

Eric Cantor attended one of the most exclusive private boys’ schools in the Commonwealth. I can only imagine that they didn’t do a very good job of teaching civics there; and if they didn’t, I’m astounded that he didn’t pick this sort of information up during his undergraduate tenure at George Washington University or later in his law studies at William and Mary.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of Eric’s, but I give him credit where credit is due, for being able to be consistently re-elected to what is largely a very rural constituency. And I have to be honest. Virginians are Virginians. I’m as proud of Eric being Majority Leader of a party I don’t support as I’m as proud of Norfolk-born-and-bred Ed Schultz being a predominant political voice of the Left in the media. But anyone of my generation, and that includes Ed, would have choked chewing their cabbage to hear Eric pronounce that if the Senate didn’t act on presenting their version of the budget, then the House’s version becomes law. Without passing through the Senate. And I have to wonder how many people of subsequent generations, including those populating the political news media now, realised the enormous faux pas the House Majority Leader made in asserting that.

Because it’s simply not done.

Put simply, fiscal legislation begins in the House, is approved by the Senate (or is diddled with, sent back to the House to be passed) and then sent to the President for his signature or his veto. In asserting that the House rules supreme and supersedes the Senate, Eric’s either patently ignorant or pandering patently.

Which one?

I think the latter, and I think it’s just another in a long line of scare tactics which have become normal behaviour for the Republican Party. The fact that Reckless Eric blatantly made this statement on the record and in front of the nation’s cameras, and the fact that the news media covering the event, blithely recorded it and made no attempt to refute (or, indeed, “refudiate”) the assertion, is simply indicative of the collective ignorance pervading the country at the moment. In fact, the only media personality who actually picked up on Eric’s misguided assumption was Lawrence O’Donnell, who skewered Eric for his ignorance on last night’s The Last Word.

I don’t presume to know why none of the newshounds shadowing Eric didn’t pick up on his error. Maybe they were ignorant of the procedure, themselves. If that’s the case, they have precious little business covering events on Capitol Hill. Or maybe they knew and allowed this to be broadcast, in hopes that the informed viewing public would pick up on the discrepancy and howl in indignation at what was tantamount to a gross error in legislative procedure made by a senior member of the House majority party, which is probably assuming too much and giving too much credit to too many members of the viewing public, themselves.

More than likely, it’s probably a case of mutual and cynical pandering on the part of both Eric and the press. As we say in Virginia, Eric’s hankering for a full-on government shutdown. He’s so thirsty for it, he can barely resist licking his lips. He knows this isn’t 1994 – although if the GOP get absolute control of the government, as they have in some of the Midwestern states, it will be worse than Orwell’s 1984 – and he knows that, with the aid of a corrupt and compliant corporate media representing both the Right and the Left, blame for any government shutdown will be laid firmly at the President’s feet.

If that be the case, that’s not just shameful, it’s shameless and immoral. Not only does it show the disrespect evident for the President by various elected officials, it also shows the same on behalf of the media, who used to be trusted, reliably, to inform the public – and even worse, it shows the low regard with which elected officials and the media regard the general public.

Whose fault is that?

Well, it was yet another Virginian, the author of the Declaration of Independence, himself, who confidently asserted that a well-informed electorate can be trusted to chose a responsible government.

How long, then, is that piece of string?

UA:A [1.9.7_1111]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bageant and Webb: Virginia's Loss

Early Monday morning, I heard about Joe Bageant’s passing. Joe, along with Senator James Webb, provided me with a seminal epiphany regarding both my political and biological heritage this past year.

I was born in Joe’s hometown of Winchester, Virginia – basically because at that time, the mid-1950s – Winchester Memorial Hospital was the only hospital servicing Frederick, Clarke, Warren and Fauquier counties in Virginia, as well as southern West Virginia; but the people Joe described in his first book Deer Hunting with Jesus are all too familiar to me.

For a long time, Joe had been a champion of what he calls redneck culture, and not derisively, as many of the Left refer to that demographic. Senator Webb, as befits a Senator and a statesman, refers to that tranche of Southern society in a more refined manner, as those people of Scots-Irish descent, in his history of that culture, Born Fighting.

Both books left an impression on me, if for no other reason than both men are relatively scathing – Bageant even moreso – in their open criticism of the Coastal cultural elites who have reshaped and effectively sought to dominate the Democratic party for the past 40 years. Collectively, they’ve created the myth of the virulent racist redneck, found in the South and in the rural Midwest, and their urban counterpart in the Rust Belt, caricatured years ago in the character of Archie Bunker. Both men go into detail about how this myth was propagated by the so-called ueber-Left Progressive Democrats in affluent boroughs and safely Democratic constituencies all along the “Left” Coast as well as tucked away in the Northeastern corner of the United States, specifically from New York City to Boston, to the point where it was appropriated by the culture warlords of the Republican Party, twisted to suit their purposes in a campaign of fear and culture conflict, until the myth, regrettably, has come to be perceived as a reality.

What was sad about all this, is the fact that this demographic - commonly known as the old “working class” and its union association (in the event of the industrial North and Midwest) – was effectively thrown under the political bus by the Democratic reformers of 1970. The union bosses, they deemed too politically corrupt and too ignorant, for their liking; and the sweaty, undereducated working class, too dumb and roughewn for their refined tastes. They were almost derisive in their dismissal. What were these people going to do? Vote Republican? They’ll carry on voting Democratic. Fuck’em.

But they didn’t, did they? Some succumbed to Lee Atwater’s Southern Strategy; others became Reagan Democrats. Most watch Fox News now. Why?

In Deer Hunting with Jesus, two episodes stick raw in my memory. Bageant speaks with several working class people living in and around his old neighbourhood of Winchester, Virginia, just the wrong side of the railroad tracks – people now in their fifties or sixties, working dead-end jobs at box stores which line the strip mall landscape along the interstates which weave through the Piedmont of the Blue Ridge. They work for minimum wage and they work like dogs – some at one job for sixty hours a week, some at three. That’s the difference between rednecks and po’white trash, Bageant explains – not that the Coastals would differentiate.

A redneck will work until he’s ready to be dropped in the grave and genuinely wants nothing more than his due from the government. In fact, he’s suspicious of the government, and that’s down to his Scots-Irish heritage, as further explained by James Webb. These people have an inculcated heritage of pride handed down, generation-by-generation, to them from their forefathers who left the poorest part of the British nation for a new life in the colonies. These people don’t trust the government as far as they could throw the proverbial stick. They’ll take Social Security and Medicare as their due, but want little else.

A po’white, on the other hand, is someone to be viewed with shame, someone so lazy or ineffectual that he has to accept government hand-outs in the form of welfare and is actually proud of it.

In Bageant’s book, he interviews several childhood friends, all of whom are suffering from various physical ailments and medical conditions, mostly brought about by poor diet and lifestyles. Face it, these days, poor people are morbidly obese. The cheapest food is the most fattening food, and precious few of them have the extra money for a gym subscription. As would be imagined, many of these people are insufficiently insured medically or aren’t insured at all. When asked by Bageant how they would feel if they had government-sponsored healthcare, free at source, but funded by higher taxes, most responded positively. Hell, they didn’t care who implemented the damned thing, Republican or Democrat, they’d be in favour of it. Hands down.

Yet, according to most people, this demographic seems the most adverse to any sort of “socialised medicine,” if for no other reason than it might be a harbinger of the infamous “death panels.” Why is that, do you think? Why would these people respond positively to such a suggestion of single-payer healthcare from Joe Bageant, but would vehemently poo-poo the idea when presented by a politician or a political operative, most likely from the Democratic party?

Possibly, for the same reason that these selfsame people gave to Joe for voting Republican, against their interests. They’re not stupid, they reasoned, although they reckoned “those Washington people” had them pegged as such. They knew damned well that both parties treated them, positively, as potential votes in an election year and, negatively, as nuisance constituents any other time; but they at least saw the Republican candidates for office when the time came, and other times, they knew the operatives the GOP sent amongst them as local people who spoke their language – used their vocabulary and dialect and sounded like them. That’s probably why the anomaly of a nice Jewish boy like Eric Cantor, with a broad Tidewater Virginia drawl and the drawn out courtesy culture in which we were all raised (“Yes, sir” and “No ma’am”) is able to represent a largely rural constituency in the Shenandoah Valley, each of whom could probably count on one hand the number of Jewish people they’ve known in their lives, and that ONE person would be Eric Cantor.

Bageant also talks about how blacks and redneck whites work side-by-side in shitkicking, low-paying and soulless jobs daily, without much of any thoughts about race or racial differences, but how their white betters, first the old land-owning elite and now their corporate successors, have played this difference off against each other in what has resulted in being tantamount to trickedown racism. Divide and conquer, as they say. But on the rare occasions when people wake up and realise that the difference isn’t in skin colour, but in those who have, as opposed to those who don’t, the result has been astounding. Barack Obama turned Virginia blue for the first time in three decades, didn’t he? Yes, some smartass would say, but that’s mainly down to North-to-South migrations into urban areas like the sprawling suburb of Northern Virginia. Well, I’m a Fauquier County girl from the Tenth Congressional District, represented by that inestimable Republican Frank Wolf, and Fauquier County, largely rural, has been the blue thorn in Wolf’s red ass for the thirty years he’s been in Congress.

The other thing remarkable about Bageant’s observations is how cleverly the Republican party has used religion and culture to imbue this demographic with a false sense of self-worth. The GOP operatives highlight, pejoratively, the elite condescension of the Coastal elites toward the South, the rural Midwest and the old working class of the Rust Belt. These people are made to believe that such liberals look down upon them strictly as a second-class and almost subhuman proletariat. Sometimes, I’m sorry to say, various high-profiled spokesmen for the ueber Left reinforce this impression.

Bill Maher often refers to the Midwest as “flyover country”, and in a recent editorial on Real Time, ridiculed the South as being filled with Civil War re-enactors and losers intent on endlessly celebrating a one hundred fifty year-old act of treason. Yet James Webb repeatedly points out that a large contingent of armed forces personnel come from the South, including a huge number from West Virginia, mostly kids – black, white and Latino – from one-horse towns whose high schools aren’t geared to promoting college enrollment and who are often faced with the choice of operating a meth lab, gutting chickens in the local processing factory or the military.

And since the great Democratic reformation of 1970, the only Democrats to make all the way to the White House, have been two bubbas and a black man, and the current incumbent has very Southern and very Scots-Irish roots from his mother’s side of the biological equation. In fact, since 1900, bar two, all of the Democrats who successfully attained the Presidency were Southerners. Could it be that these affable sorts were able to communicate more effectively with the working classes? I even think Barack Obama, for all the television punditry would deny, communicates with ordinary people of any background, more effectively than any other President since FDR. At least, Obama speaks to people as adults; it’s not his fault that most of America hasn’t progressed beyond adolescent reasoning.

The religious aspect promoted by the Republicans is mostly that of the dangerous Dominionist dynamic – convincing these basically good Christian people that, because they’re Christian, they’ve been chosen by the Lord to ascend to his side, come the Judgement Day. They are, effectively, the Chosen -whilst the overtly secular Left take on the aura of the anti-Christ. Thus, they’re able to promote the Left’s agenda of pro-choice (read pejoratively: abortions) and human rights (read pejoratively: gays coming out of the woodwork) as evil and wrong. Thus, a Glenn Beck is able to convince his audience of millions that Christianity really shouldn’t be about social justice at all.

It doesn’t matter that the efforts of the Democratic Party might bring you affordable healthcare free at source, or that their efforts provided free public education, paved the roads and brought electricity to thousands of rural homes in the past; it doesn’t matter that this is the party who’s traditionally protected the rights of working class people and working poor for donkey’s years, pun intended … this party is now promoted, cynically, by the Right, as anti-God, anti-foetus and anti-America, fronted by a man who – nudge nudge wink wink – doesn’t look like an American, doesn’t sound like an American, doesn’t have a name like an American and doesn’t even want to lead like an American.

There’s a culture war, all right; and it’s not enough that this culture war exists between the Right and the Left, between Democrats and Republicans. It exists within the Democratic Party, itself. When people who purport to be Democrats, lump everyone in the South into the category of unreconstructed Confederates, itching for the opportunity to seceed once again, they’re throwing an insult not only in the faces of Southerners who are Democrats and who come from a Democratic heritage, whose family stayed with the party rather than claiming Dixiecrat or faux Republican heritage, but it’s a slap in the face of Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. It’s a slap in the face of people like Ann Richards and Molly Ivins.

In the wake of the disastrous Midterms last year, during the time when the Coastal elites of the Democratic party were feeding fodder to the 24/7 cable chattering classes about Obama’s caving on the temporary tax cut extensions for the wealthy, I was glad that, no less than Chris Matthews and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, brought up the subject of the working class and the working poor and Obama’s mention of them in his press conference where he outlined the rationale for his compromise and, in doing so, royally pissed off the ueber elite from those affluent safe constituencies.

More and more, I hear the pundits wonder why the President doesn’t do well amongst white working class males, or even amongst the rural working class, in general. The President, one-on-one before these people, does fine. It’s the rest of the people who’v become the collective voices of the Left, the ones who give the impression that these people aren’t worth the bother, who do the damage. In the 2004 Presidential campaign, Howard Dean chomped at the bit to be able to speak to Marlboro Man of the South, who drove a pick-up, adorned with a Confederate flag and a gunrack. Dick Gephardt and John Kerry thought he’d gone mad. Books have even been written about how the Democrats can achieve by effectively writing off the South.

But just imagine the power drive and the loyalty if we invested half as much energy into putting ourselves amongst these people, speaking their language and listening to their needs as constituents and citizens as we do deriding them? Look at any small town in the South or the rural Midwest. You’ll see a Republican party headquarters staffed by local people known to all. You see a Democratic headquarters pop up every four years and staffed by eager college kids from outside the area who disappear the day after the election.

People say the middle class is in danger. I say the middle class is a myth today. If you have to work to live, you’re working class. Embrace that idea as positive, and come home to the Democratic party.

Already this year, the Left has lost James Webb to resignation and Joe Bageant to death. Virginia will miss the pair of them. As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather have one James Webb and one Joe Bageant fighting my corner than a thousand fragrant designer-clad Katrina vanden Heuvels.

Monday, March 28, 2011

No One Listens to the President

Tonight, when the President speaks to the nation about Libya, let’s do something different.

Let’s listen. Let’s listen, and then turn the television off and think about what he’s said. Mull it over in your mind, but only after having watched the thing and having imagined that the President was really talking to you.

You see, a lot of helpful people in the media think the viewing public is stupid. Well, a lot of them damned well know it. And the ones who don’t, have actually convinced the viewing public that, because they happen to be celebrity talking head on television, they know far more and far better what the President wants to say to you, and so they give you their interpretation and tell you that’s what he really, really, really meant to say.

Then they start bitching about what he didn’t say and should have said, and how he should have said what he did say differently. They twist and turn and bend and break down and analyse and parse his every word, his every inflection and his general body language to the point that one half of what the pundits do say is in direct contradiction to the other half, and that only confuses everyone.

But maybe they want that too. You see, the pundits all say – Right and Left – that the President has a communication problem. Some say he’s too high-brow, too elitist. Others say he depends too much on a teleprompter. Still more wonder how he could communicate so effectively as a candidate, but not as President.

Well, he does. I see no different in candidate Obama and President Obama. From everything the candidate said, I was able to ascertain that he was a centre-Left pragmatist, who patterned himself after his Presidential idol, Lincoln. He was never an out-and-outright Progressive, not even the type. His one remark about single-payer healthcare insurance amounted to opining that if the US were starting from scratch, where no one had health insurance, single-payer would be the way to go. His mere mention of the fabled and infamous public option was to give a nod to the fact that if it were possible for the government to offer some sort of public health option as a means of healthcare insurance, that should be considered also.

He promised to ratchet down Iraq and ratchet up Afghanistan. He’s done both.

But then, I listened to what the man said, all the while noticing various members of whatever live audience, watching his speeches with looks of abject rapture, the way the born-again religious fundamentalists of the Right look when they think they see Jesus peeking at them in the sunlight through the leaves of a magnolia tree. I’d be willing to bet these people are the ones stamping their feet and shouting about the fact that the President’s done nothing (they wanted).

Remember John McCain’s catty election advertisement which presented the President as a shallow celebrity along the lines of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears? Well, in part, Old Man McCain was right. So many people were so caught up in their pre-conceived phenomena and self-constructed celebrity of candidate Obama, that they invested him with the sort of qualities with which a teenage girl invests a particular rock star on whom she has a crush. Suddenly, the rocker represents all her hopes, aspirations and beliefs – when he probably doesn’t at all, it’s all in her mind and heart.

So it was, I reckon, a lot of people thought they listened to candidate Obama with their ears, but they were really listening with their minds and hearts. In a way, he captured the nation’s imagination similar to the way John Kennedy did – except Kennedy didn’t have the impediment of a 24/7 news media hanging on his every word and analysing his every movement.

The Rightwing call the President a tyrant, a fascist and a dictator in much the same way the Leftwing described Bush; but listening to some parts of the Left, I’m left with the impression that what they’d really like is a Leftwing Bush, and wish the President were more like his predecessor, albeit with a Progressive bend. In short, we’re all wanting Big Daddy, when we really have got a dedicated professor trying to get us out of the shitstorm the last guy left. We’re wanting JR Ewing, and we’ve got Bobby.

We’ve got talking heads who tell us the President’s a racist, we’ve got talking heads (from the Left) who tell us not to vote, who threaten the President with one term only, we’ve got others who, granted a Presidential interview, don’t deign to let the man get a word in edgeways. And we’ve got politicians who say outright that the President’s confused, that he’s a foreigner, that he’s weak, that he dithers. (Since when did “dither” become a euphemism or even a synonym for “deliberate?”) We’ve even got politicians from his own party, with degrees in communication, who condescend to say that a constitutional law scholar either doesn’t know or is in contempt of the Constitution. And then there are those who politicos who don’t trust the President to tie his own shoe without getting Congressional approval first.

Gee, I wonder why?

So, tonight, let’s do something different. When the President speaks, let’s listen to what he’s got to say. And when he’s finished, let’s turn off the television and think about it.

You might find that you’ve learned something.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Fools on the Hill

OK, Congress is mad at the President. I get it. They’re mad because he didn’t ask them for their permission to join two other permanent members of the UN Security Council in effecting a no-fly zone over Libya in order to dissuade a brutal dictator from committing what would, effectively, have been genocide. Or they’re angry because he didn’t consult them beforehand (although he really did, in a meeting at the White House immediately prior to leaving for his trade junket to South America, but I guess nobody was listening).

And that doesnt’ really surprise me either, because not many people bother listening to this President.

He can be forgiven for not consulting with them, however. Maybe he thought they were so busy trying to undo everything he’s taken the time and effort to effect in the past two years, like healthcare reform, or maybe he thought they were so conflicted in arguing about defunding Planned Parenthood or NPR, that stopping long enough to give cursory sanction to the United States participating in a UN-backed multilateral effort to enforce a no-fly zone over a country embroiled in a people’s struggle against a brutal dictator, intent on retaining power via genocide, would tax their collective integrity too much.

For the record, yes, the Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to declare war, but it also gives the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to make war; and the last declared war we fought, involving Congress’s declaration, was World War II. As hard as it is for some of us to fathom, myself included, this is a humanitarian effort, under the auspices of the United Nations, enacted in order to prevent what would, most indubitably, have resulted in genocide.

I’m as uncomfortable about this as anyone else, but I’m comforted by the fact that we’re not leading on this, as hard as some people in this country and elsewhere are trying to make us. I think it’s significant that two other countries, France and the United Kingdom, were chomping at the bit to have a go at this exercise, rather than us. That the President was aware of the situation, we have no doubt; and many of the ones, politicos and plebs, were wringing hands and wondering why the President wasn’t doing more weeks ago. The plebs were the ones wondering why he didn’t react similarly to Egypt’s plight or why he didn’t highass it up to Wisconsin to lead the people’s protest against an elected governor.

It seems as though everyone, from politicians to pudits to proletariat, want this President to do everything for them, but not without their permission; that way, if anything bad comes from whatever it is the President does, the blame can only lie with him. In starker terms, it’s an abnegation of responsibility.

I find the latest hissyfit, on Congress’s part, mystifying, because I can remember Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, effectively doing the same or similar things, and only telling Congress after the fact. Newt Gingrich groused, but no one waved a pocket copy of the Constitution or called for either Reagan’s or Clinton’s impeachment. Clinton was impeached for getting a blowjob in the Oval Office, but not for involving the United States in participating in a no-fly zone over Kosovo or for bombing Iraq. Nobody in the Democratic majoritied Congress castigated Reagan for invading Grenada.

Dennis Kucinich, jumping between MSNBC and Fox, this week, pushing and then trying to walk back his call for Obama’s impeachment, verged on being an embarassment for the Democratic party in that it handed the GOP its greatest campaign advertisement material aimed at independents for the 2012 election cycle. Expect to see soundbites and film clips of Dennis’s impeachment pronouncement in party political commercials approved by Tim Pawlenty or Sarah Palin or even Donald Trump, depending on the whim of Republican voters.

At one point, Kucinich risked sounding like a Tea Partier, invoking the Constitution as the highest law of the land, as opposed to the War Powers Act of 1973, within which the President acted and by which he made his decision. Quite simply, other laws and measures are enacted which can supersede the Constitution, until such a time as those laws are deemed unconstitutional by a court of law. That’s how separation of powers worked, in case Dennis just might like to check.

And let’s just clarify another couple of things. Yes, this is about oil. For Britain. And yes, this is political posturing. By France.

If you recall, back in 2007, Tony Blair’s swansong was to visit Libya, kiss Gaddafi and return to Britain, waxing lyrical about the fact that Gaddafi had forsworn state-sponsored terrorism and wanted to begin legitimate engagement with the West as a partner – and, oh, by the way, the Brits got this super deal for BP to begin drilling offshore in Libyan waters, all for the price of release of the dying Lockerbie bomber, who’s still alive, unless the recent kerfuffle has wrought otherwise. So, erring on the side of caution, David Cameron wades in, under the guise of humanitarian action, to ensure Britain’s, or BP’s, oil interests are protected.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s up for re-election in May of this year. His approval ratings are currently hovering around the 35 per cent mark. He is, for all intents and purposes, the French Bush. A successful foray to succour the Libyan rebels would mightily increase his street cred on the world stage and possibly win him a second term as President of France.

But there’s also a third factor for these two European statesmen, more subtle than either of the two obvious reasons for being there. Should Gaddafi prevail, Libya will bleed refugees, who will eventually end up in Cameron’s Britain by way of Sarko’s France. Europe’s not a great place to be, at the moment, if you’re Middle Eastern or African and Muslim. America isn’t the only place with dodgy people playing up immigration issues.

So let’s disabuse ourselves of the cynical notion that our President is pursuing this for oil or to prove himself another version of Bush II, or even that he dithered before making his mind up to enter into this enterprise and, in doing so, snubbed Congress. Or that he even needs to be impeached. In deciding to be a part of the multilateral no-fly zone mission, he executed an action, which is what the Executive Branch of our government does.

At the moment, I’m giving him the benefit of a doubt, that we’ll hand over command of this mission to someone else very soon, as specified by the President, himself. He’s usually pretty reliable in doing what he says he’ll do, and if ever he isn’t, you can usually find that his failure is down to Congress and not him.

And as for Congress, they’re angry. Good. Now maybe they can channel that anger into something productive, like legislation creating new jobs. Until then, as we say in Virginia, if they’re mad, they can kiss their collective ass and get glad.

Monday, March 21, 2011

We Are Aiding and Abetting the Republicans

In an online conversation this past weekend, someone reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in years – the Reagan Presidential campaign of 1980. Some of the most effective campaign commercials used by the Reagan team during that election cycle were ones which utilized audio and video clips of Senator Ted Kennedy bashing incumbent President Jimmy Carter during his abortive primary challenge.

“Wanna know what the Democrats think about President Carter? Just listen to what a leading Democrat has to say.”

We all know what happened in the 1980 election. We’re still feeling the repercussions from the defection of the Reagan Democrats today. But, really, this goes back further.

After having spent the first two years of the Obama Administration, nit-picking, finding fault, gratuitously criticizing, and, when all else failed, inventing reasons to despair of the Democratic President, in the run-in to another general election, various people, pundits and politicians are still calling for this President to be primaried.

Some people making this plea may be very young and, therefore, wouldn’t be aware of what happens when a serving President is primaried, but others should know better. Here’s a quick recap: Lyndon Johnson was primaried by Eugene McCarthy in 1968. After coming close to losing in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, Johnson decided he wouldn’t run for re-election, which opened up a race for the nomination between McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy. After Kennedy was assassinated, McCarthy and then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey duked it out all the way to the Chicago Convention. Humphrey won the nomination and lost the election to Richard Nixon.

In 1976, Gerald Ford was primaried by Ronald Reagan, then considered the scourge of the Right and far too conservative ever to be considered seriously. Ford retained the nomination and lost to Jimmy Carter, who was primaried, himself, by Ted Kennedy four years later, losing the election to Ronald Reagan. So much for being too far to the Right to be elected. Reagan got two terms.

Then, in 1992, George H W Bush was primaried by lovely, cuddly Pat Buchanan – he, who still wishes he were in the land of cotton, sitting on the verandah watching the slaves frolick in the fields. Buchanan wasn’t a joke. He came close enough in some primaries to make the Brahmin Poppy Bush distinctively uncomfortable. Result? Bush lost the chance of a second term.

I know. Someone’s bound to point out that whilst history is instructive, it’s in no way determinative; but it does have a rather unpleasant way of repeating itself, and if you scratch the surface of the history of primaried Presidents, you’ll uncover a pretty nasty truth: that when a Democratic President is primaried (and loses the subsequent election), the fallout is far worse than when a Republican is primaried and loses.

Look at 1968. That election gave us Richard Nixon, and although Nixon left in disgrace two years into his second administration, due to the Watergate scandal, he left us the legacy of Roger Ailes, Karl Rove and ratfucking – all of which are very much with us and causing grief today.

Now look at 1980. That election gave us trickledown, credit and financial deregulation, a serious defunding of the Department of Education, Reaganomics, and the first Gulf War. Now tell me every bit of that isn’t impeding upon our lives today.

It wasn’t enough that, from the getgo, we’ve had celebrity talking heads, the 21st Century equivalents of Tom Wolfe’s infamous radical chic, ranting that Obama was a corporate sell-out, that he was a traitor for not implementing single-payer health insurance (he never did), that he’s no different from Bush, that he doesn’t care about the Middle Classes, we had some of those selfsame people encourage voters to stay away from the Midterm polls in protest.

I think the recent events in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan bear proof of the perils of not voting.

Since the Midterms, we’ve had media voices, as well as Democratic politicians refer to the President, variously, as a quisling or a Nazi collaborator, regarding the temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts. We are still hearing from them how the President caved to the Republicans on this measure, never mind the fact that the Republicans had effectively shut the door to any negotiations regarding the repeal of DADT, or the passing of START or the First Responders’ Bill, until the tax cuts were extended. As things went, the so-called “cave-in” accomplished an entire year’s extension of unemployment benefits and a moratorium on payroll tax, amongst other things, as well as DADT being repealed and the other two bills enacted. Funny, how the Democrats and their well-heeled punditry neglect to mention the compromise which effectively bettered the plight of the working class.

But then, this Democratic party doesn’t even recognise the working class, per se.

And recently, pundits have stomped feet and demanded the President join the picket lines in Wisconsin, openly issuing a rhetorical threat that if the President wanted to see a second term, he’d better get his ass to Wisconsin. Since then, Congressman Anthony Weiner has gone on record as saying the President had no values, and Senator Bernie Sanders and perennial Presidential wannabe Dennis Kucinich have called for a primary challenger “to make the President stronger.”

Now, Kucinich is even calling for the President’s impeachment in view of the recent and very reluctant participation in the Libyan no-fly zone. Darrell Issa must be doing cartwheels.

Considering all this, Karl Rove and friends must have a virtual library of sound bytes and film clips stored up for whoever finally gets the Republican Presidential nomination.

More than any other President in my memory, and I was born midway through Eisenhower’s first term, I can’t remember any President so vilified, so de-legitimised and so excoriated by both sides of the political equation as this President.

Primary Obama, and he’ll still get the nomination; but he won’t be stronger, nor will the Democratic party. In case they haven’t noticed, there’s a very real chance they might lose the Senate, this time around. The sheeple on the Left, and some politicians from safe Democratic districts, seem to forget that the only thing, at this point in time, separating us from a Republican Armageddon, is four Senators and the President.

Primary Obama, and he will lose the general election. It doesn’t matter if his Republican opponent be Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin or Donald Trump, he’ll lose. A primary challenger to a serving President tells the voting public that the President and his party are weak, shallow, vapid, divided and unfit to govern; and whilst that might be true of the Democrats, in general, it’s not true of the President. He really is the only adult in the room.

The 1968 primary challenge brought us 8 years of Republican rule and a pardoned Richard Nixon. The 1980 challenge took 12 years to reconcile. Primary the President, and we’ll be well on the route to Karl Rove’s goal of an unbroken hegemony of Republican Presidents. Give up the Senate and the House, and the Democratic party, with union funds seriously depleted, risks becoming a non-entity, a token opposition.

Given the Citizens United decision and the Kochroaches crawling from the corporate woodwork, and Karl Rove’s unbroken hegemony takes on the distinct image of 21st Century fascism, imbeded in dominionist theocracy.

The irony of this peculiar situation will be the fact that many within the President’s own party willfully aided and abetted not only his downfall, but the political suicide of the Democratic Party, itself. Many of us are doing the Republicans’ work for them. I guess many of us really have moved that far to the Left, that we’ve now found ourselves on the Right.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I TOLD Y'ALL About Arianna Huffington. Now How's That Ratfuckery Thingy Goin' Fer Ya?

Chickens have come home to roost, or rather buzzards picking over the carcass of the dead. One of the “founders” of Huffington Post has come back to blog.

Andrew Breitbart.

If that’s not proof that Arianna Huffington isn’t the biggest ratfucker since Donald Segretti touched a college student named Karl Rove with his magic wand, I don’t know what is. The question is, who touched Huffington? Was it Newt or Issa? People should have sussed that she was about to come out of the neocon closet when she was photographed tree-hugging Gingrich on holiday last summer, and then earlier this year she was snapped sitting with Darrell Issa in Vegas, his arm cosily wrapped around her shoulder.

My guess is that it was neither. She was merely an opportunist, interested in promoting her own brand. She saw that Progressives needed the equivalent of Drudge and went for the market, successfully conning a shallow media and an even shallower public following in her wake.

Once she’d successfully driven a wedge in the Left, appropriating its lowest common denominator by feeding them a diet of her talking points, and once the Midterms had handed her back the stronger Republican Party she craved, she crawls, like the Kochroach she is, into the sunlight.

Think of it. She’s had y’all wound so tight, you’ve managed to spend two years sniping and griping at everything this President said, did, tried to say or tried to do,when more energy could have been spent sounding off at the Republicans or organising retaliation against the Tea Partiers.

Just remember what the Iliad warned: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Here’s the lnk:-

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Sheen Smokescreen

Sometimes, living abroad has its advantages, even in the age of the Internet.

For example, I’m probably the only American in the world who doesn’t know exactly what’s been happening with Charlie Sheen. I haven’t a clue, and I suppose he doesn’t either; but whilst I caught rumblings in the background and tabloidesque headlines here and there on various internet sites, I truly don’t know what all the fuss is about and – quite frankly – I don’t care.

Here’s what I do know about Charlie Sheen:-

- He’s Martin Sheen’s son. I’ve always liked Martin Sheen.

- He’s Emilio Estevez’s brother.

- He starred in Platoon back before Oliver Stone was Oliver Stone and did a good job.

- He starred in Wall Street with Michael Douglas and did a good job.

- Now he’s on Two and a Half Men, which is shown here in the UK on an obscure channel at an obscure hour, and no one watches it enough to talk about it.

And that’s all I know about him, except he seems to have gone off the rails a bit, or at least enough to make the 24/7 guys obsess about him ad nauseam. He seems to have given various and sundry interviews to various and sundry talking heads on various and sundry morning programs and said unusual things.

I haven’t paid attention to the obsessing because it doesn’t interest me. Sheen’s got a problem of sorts – either emotional or psychological – and that’s his business. If he wants the public to know about it, that’s his business too; but I think it’s kind of creepy the way the media seem to have taken up residence on this subject, from all angles. Last week, Lawrence O’Donnell even spent twenty minutes of his MSNBC program evaluating the Sheen phenomenon as though it were a controversial and recently announded political principle. I know O’Donnell’s show is going through adjustment problems in the wake of KO’s departure, but it really is beneath the intellectual calibre of someone like Lawrence O’Donnell to rake over the coals of another man’s emotional breakdown on what is supposed to be a political analysis program.

That’s political, not psychological.

You know, fifty years ago, if something like this happened to a leading television actor, he would have retreated behind his gated home, and his publicist and the network for which he worked would have reported him to have been suffering from exhaustion or something of the sort. Three hundred years ago, inmates in local insane asylums were hung outside windows in cages in order that passersby might be entertained. Today, we watch people like Charlie Sheen break down and do and say silly things on television, being interviewed by network newspeople.

I know the news media obsessed in the extreme two years ago at the sudden death of Michael Jackson, but Jackson was a star of international repute and consequence. He was relatively young, and his death was sudden. He’d been a driving force in popular music. Still, the attention and obsession lavished on him were too much.

Then, there was balloon boy.

What’s peculiar about the Sheen situation is that it’s being used so much on so many overtly political programs as a valid topic of discussion, I can’t help but wonder why it’s being discussed instead of something else. And it is almost as though it’s being used as a smokescreen in order to avoid discussion of something more controversial.

Sheen’s dominated headlines on various programs whilst public sector workers have had their collective bargaining rights wiped off the slate in Wisconsin. Libya’s boiling over, while the media obsesses about Charlie Sheen. There’ve been earthquakes in New Zealand and now Japan, the latter worse than the former. And Congress have sat around whining and whingeing and doing nothing of what they’re supposed to be doing.

I use Bill Maher‘s Real Time to gauge a lot of what’s going on in the political spectrum. For two weeks now, the main topic of discussion on Real Time, entering a mention into every conversation, has been Charlie Sheen. This past week, Bill even managed to make an analogy of Sheen to Sarah Palin.

What I really want to know is simply what’s being hidden behind the Sheen smokescreen, and why has it been constructed? My guess would be that it’s yet another diversion for a public, both Right and Left, who are totally devoid of the ability to think critically. So when the media finally decide to let go of Charlie Sheen and allow him to deal with his many problems in the privacy he deserves, both sides will be able to turn, yet again, to the Obama-baiting they love so dearly, guided by the media talking heads they trust so much.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin and Learning from Our Mistakes

Five hours ahead and one day behind, I went to bed last night, having just watched Rachel Maddow begin her Tuesday broadcast by roundly proclaiming that the people of Wisconsin had won the battle of wills against their governor’s intransigence.

Now I wake up this morning to find that, despite Rachel’s joyous declaration that the people of Wisconsin had won, that the shifty-eyed corporate tool, who happens to be the duly elected Governor of Wisconsin, had budged, the Governor’s party had, in fact, managed to rewrite the odious bill in question, in such a manner that it could be rammed through the legislature and in one fell swoop, a basic right of working people with a fifty-year pedigree had been consigned to the dustbins of history. Dead as a dod. Kaput. No refunds, no returns.

Let’s be brutally honest, people. This was never about fiscal responsibility. It was never about balancing a budget and job creation, two of the major subjects the Republican party whined and groaned about throughout the fall campaign of 2010, two of the major accusations of failure levied at their Democratic opponents.

It was all about, it was ever about busting union power, bringing those organisations formed by working people, of working people and for working people, to their proverbial knees. It was about quashing the little man. It was about keeping the peasants in their place.

We have it on record. Scott Walker said as much – in fact, he bragged about it – in his oleaginous twenty-minute telephone conversation with faux David Koch.

The demise of the union and the quelling of their remaining power is a major objective, not only of the Republican Party, but also of their corporate puppetmasters, primarily the shady woodwork-dwelling Kochroaches. It’s also worth mentioning that part and parcel of Walker’s landmark legislation colludes the sale of public utilities to private corporate entities, and we all know who’ll benefit from that. It’s so not rocket science, that even dummies understand it:-

As amusing as the dummies’ take on this situation may be, the bitter irony is, simply, that it is the people of Wisconsin, and – by extension – the working people and the working poor of our country, who end up being royally rogered up the backside by David Koch and his ilk, via any representative we elect from the Republican party.

I grew up in a union home, in the South. If that sounds like an anomaly today, there actually was a time, in what’s traditionally been known as the Upper South, where unions were visably present and part of everyday working life, and even if they weren’t as strident as they were in the Northern industrial parts of the country, they certainly improved upon the lives of their members and their members’ families.

My dad worked in a textile mill, a huge entity which provided employment for men and women in four predominantly rural counties on the cusp of that monster which grew to become known today as Northern Virginia. Most of the fathers of kids who went to my high school worked there. The mother of Joe Bageant, author of Deer-Hunting with Jesus and one of the most strident practical Progressive voices of the South, worked there.

In the era before clean air technology became a given, on certain days when the wind was right, you could smell the rotten-egg stench from the factory, certainly, where I lived and sometimes thirty miles south to the town where I attended high school. My dad brought it home on his clothes, and it saturated the interior of his car. But that union-backed stench provided him with fully comprehensive health insurance, which made it possible for me to get my teeth straightened. It paid the hospital bill for my younger cousin, whose appendix ruptured and who had to spend six weeks recovering at the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville. It paid for all my mother’s chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and it topped up my father’s Medicare until the day he died sixteen years ago.

That union-backed stench gave us a living wage, and when I was in college in the mid-Seventies, and the union called its workers out on strike for six weeks, I opened an envelope one day at college, to find a check from the AFL-CIO for the princely sum of $100, as help toward paying for my textbooks, as my dad had been on strike for an overly-long period.

Like the people being targeted inWisconsin, I began my professional life, after taking my degree, in the public sector as a teacher. Virginia, being one of those states who embraced Taft-Hartley and who fervently worshipped at the altar of “right-to-work”, had made it impossible for state employees to unionise. We had to make do with pithy “Education Associations”, professional organisations which were unions in name only, with no collective bargaining allowed. I recall the one time we pushed our weight and even threatened to strike, we were summarily told that, were we to do so, they had enough applications for employment on file, that they’d have the classrooms staffed within two days.

Keith Olbermann, blogging on his new website, FOKNews, reckons the Wisconsin governor and his cronies, by coming out of the thugs’ closet, have effectively signalled the incipient suicide of the Republican Party. Nate Silver reckons this action will do more than anything else to galvanise the base of the Democratic Party.

I wish I could be so hopeful, because we certainly are in need of some adhesive to bind the gaping wounds rent asunder by our own self-destructive tendencies.

Rachel’s all-too-preciptous cry of triumph two nights ago makes me think of the way everyone from the media to the grassroots declared themselves openly Leftist enough in November 2008 to predict that the Republican Party was dead in the water, only to find that by March the following year, the Right had taken a leaf from Saul Alinsky’s book and had organised themselves into a movement that was, at once, strident, vociferous and very ugly. It received its battlecry in the early morning rant of a CNBC business commentator and its backing from the omnipresent Koch machine. It’s field lieutenants were the willfully ignorant Vice Presidential candidate from the losing ticket and an ex-rodeo clown, who was also a recovering alcoholic. They fed their base on fear – fear of a seminal President, like no other we’d had before in our history. Their object was to demonise the Democrats and de-legitimise the first African-American President.

But it was never about race.

Forty years ago, in the wake of the VietNam fiasco, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the violent shambles of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, the Democratic party reformed itself, removing its base from the rural Midwest of agricultural cooperatives, Southern working poor, Rust Belt industrial workers, and unions. Didn’t you hear? Like the Don McLean song, the Democrats took the last train to the Coast (Left Coast or Northeastern) and developed attitude.

That attitude basically gave a shrug and a disdainful nod to the old base, turning its back on the old union organisers. The Midwestern farmers were rubes, the Southerners all racist and people like George Meany, many of whom barely had grade school academic credentials, didn’t fit into the cosmopolitan, city-centred, elitist mindset of the newly-minted Democrats. They would lead and the old base would follow. After all, what else were they going to do? Vote Republican?

Fast forward ten years to 1980, the year all this shitstorm we’re suffering now started in earnest with the election of Ronald Reagan, and that’s exactly what they did. The unions endorsed Reagan and he busted their asses. The Reagan Democrats were formed, and the South and rural Midwest bled red. The Republicans communicated with these people on their level, in language they understood, and with operatives with whom these people were familiar. Like the seasoned conmen they became, they built trust. With the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, the culture war battles began in earnest on the airwaves. With the advent of Karl Rove, heir apparent of that king ratfucker, Donald Segretti, the die was cast.

The aim was an unbroken hegemony of Republican rule, appealing to the basic instincts of their uneducated and undereducated base – play up religion, emphasize family values, and use every occasion to keep them scared and compliant. Walk into any remaining factory or warehouse in certain parts of the country today and you’ll see people at work, their minds being indoctrinated over loudspeakers by Rightwing talk radio stations, screaming Rush, Beck or Michael Savage. It’s mind control by osmosis.

And from 2009, we, ourselves, on the Left, became our own worst enemies. Lulled into a false sense of security and faux wealth since the Gipper’s regime, and fed on a diet of instant gratification, whilst nurturing a total ignorance about the way our government functions, instead of actually listening to the President, we chose to have various and sundry celebrity talking heads, so-called scions of the Left, corporately paid, analyse and interpret every word spoken or unspoken, every action completed or contemplated and every thought assumed by the President, not for the way we saw or heard ourselves, but the way they thought we should respond.

They told us so much they confused people who were already confused.

They endowed the President with so many powers of government that, had he chosen to use a fraction of those which they deemed he had, he’d have been successfully impeached. As much as the Right pushed the big lies of death panels, socialism, soft cell terrorism, and phony birth certificates, the Left heard their own tell them that Obama was weak, he was a pussy, he hated Progressives, he wasn’t enough like Bush, he was too much like Bush, he was a coward, he caved, he just wasn’t into the all-pervading Middle Class (which, somehow, seemed to have pushed the working class and working poor into some limbo located between irrelevance and non-existence). One progressive talking head went so far as to issue a clarion cry for all Progressives to boycott voting in the Midterms in order to teach the President a lesson. And the LGBT community was so convinced of the President’s concealed homophobia because he hadn’t whipped out an Executive Order repealing DADT (he couldn’t), that 30% of LGBTs who voted in the Midterms, voted Republican.

Well, that worked out nicely, didn’t it? Especially since, not two weeks ago, that selfsame talking head was screaming into the cameras that the President had better get his ass to Wisconsin and get on the picket lines or risk being a one-term President.

I’m wondering who voted for Scott Walker, because they were sold a bill of sale. Were they people who’d previously voted for the President in 2008 or who’d kept Russ Feingold in the Senate in previous years? Were they decent people who’d been scared shitless by the Tea Party’s virulent warnings about the plug being pulled on Grandma or the myth that the President was really a Manchurian candidate? Or was Walker elected as much by those so-called Progressive sulkers and pouters who stayed at home to make a point? Because as much as the people who voted for this dangerous dolt, the people who didn’t vote enabled him.

Now, like a cancer, we’re seeing this union busting legislatively spread across the Rust Belt and heartland of the industrial Midwest. We’re seeing a South Carolina governor employ an education advisor who’s openly stated that he hates the idea of public schools. We’re watching a redux of Joseph McCarthy sit in the House of Representatives and target a group of American people for having a particular religious belief that labels them, in his eyes, terrorists, whilst it’s actually the Congressman in question, Peter King, who’s not only palled around with real terrorists, the IRA, he’s danced, sung and contributed to their cause.

Maybe Keith and Nate will be right. Maybe this will be our carpe diem moment, and maybe the Democrats genuinely are having an epiphany and remembering that they were, ever and always, the party for working people and not the intellectual idealogues who ponder what might be in a Utopian future over a skinny latte and some New World merlot, the sorts who, even know, are contemplating a great white Progressive hope who’ll primary the President, thereby insuring that Karl Rove’s vision of one-party Republican rule becomes a reality.

It’s important to remember that all roads now in the Republican party are leading to the Koch brothers, who not only had real Nazi relatives, they actually had real Nazi associations. It’s important to remember that the first thing that nice Adolf Hitler – the one who made the downtrodden and conquered German people feel good about themselves – did upon assuming office as Chancellor, was outlaw all the trades unions.

This is starving the beast that is the Democratic party, considering that a very large proportion of its major contributors are unions.

History repeating itself? Well, those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it, so they say. A culture war has been raging in the United States for the past thirty years, with the Republicans presenting themselves and their operatives as guardians of God and fetuses, whilst leaving the women and children to fester and fend for themselves. The wanton destruction of the unions will be the tinder which starts a conflagration.

And the issues at hand for the 2012 election won’t be the deficit or jobs or healthcare reform or Afghanistan, although they’ll be cleverly disguised as such. The main issue will be cultural. And the deciding factor will determine how we define America.

Caveat emporium.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Arianna's Marie Antoinette Moment

Boy, do I love it when frauds are exposed. I love it when people are exposed as users of other people in order to gain their own prominence. There's nothing I like better than to see someone jump a shark out of sheer ambition, only to see the shark rear up and take a prime piece of well-deserved ass.

I have long known Arianna Huffington to be the abject phony and opportunist that she is. When I first heard of her, she was a raving Rightwing wannabe political commentator, trying desperately to gain a foothold in the British political media and failing. She'd just written a polemic, challenging Germaine Greer's feminist writings, which would have made Phyllis Schlafly look like Jane Fonda.

Then there was the plagiarism trial, which resulted in further besmirching her name as a dilettante and a political parvenue.

Fast forward to the Nineties when I'm home visiting my folks, only to see a huge article in the Washington Post's Sunday magazine, describing Arianna Huffington (I'd known of her as Stanisopoulos), dutiful Congressional wife, located in Washington and trying to organise weekly soirees resembling the intellectual and poltical salons of the French Empire, fancying herself and her European antecedents as a modern-day Madame de Stael.

The salon idea failed, but it hooked her up with Newt Gingrich, and together, they mounted a virulent campaign intent on impeaching one William Jefferson Clinton, with Arianna manning the online petition for Clinton's political demise.

Well, we all know how that worked out too, and we all know the success story that eventually became The Huffington Post. In one way or another, we were all sucked into the Huffington vortex, reckoning and believing it to be the Left's answer to Drudge.

I don't know if I were born cynical or if I acquired cynicism, having married a Brit and lived abroad for so long, but - suffice it to say - I never bought St Paul's Damascene conversion and I sure as hell didn't buy Arianna's abrupt Left turn from neocon to Progressive, literally overnight. And I knew I was proven right as soon as she started nit-picking and wantonly criticizing, not only the President, but also various high-profile members of his Administration, in particular, Tim Geithner, as she waged a war against the evils of Wall Street and the corporate take-over of America.

As Arianna always has a very vocal opinion about anything which she can use as a stick with which to beat the President, I cocked a suspicious eye at the fact that she chose to remain silent at the height of the Shirley Sherrod controversy - but then I knew Andrew Breitbart was a co-founder of HuffPo and a protege of Arianna from donkey's years back.

I cocked an even more suspicious eye as she trolled the country, trolling the more gullible and less emotionally and politically mature sections of the Left, in the run up to the 2010 Mid-terms, driving a wedge deeper than the Grand Canyon in that particular demographic. The message the Greek Media Whoracle preached was simply that Obama didn't give a rat's ass about the middle class, that he'd hung them out to dry, and that - by the way - she had a reasonably priced book she'd written that would explain everything.

So, when she announced that she'd signed a pact with the corporate devil that is AOL and sold her little internet baby for the handsome sum of $315 million, I could just imagine that shark tasting feta cheese.

And now, I'm sure he's had a feast.

Her legion of unpaid bloggers took umbrage that she'd scored such a profit on their backs. It kinda smelled like slavery in the Old South - you know, when Massa would laugh all the way to the cotton bank with his profits whilst his slaves toiled wearily in the fields. But, hey, they should be grateful they were cared for, and so Arianna's dutiful bloggers - the hoi polloi, not the well-oiled and wealthy celebrity types - should be grateful she was affording them exposure.

She even despatched one of her paid lackeys, someone named Marco Ruiz, to the front line to explain why she wasn't about to share her good fortune with her unpaid minions, but how, as well, her good fortune benefitted all the little people, dahhhlinks, because these unfortunates got free exposure. Actually, Marco explained, it was rather like the same situation as when an author appeared on a television program promoting his latest book, or when an eminient authority appeared on such a program to expound upon a subject.

Except, it's not, because those authors and authorities get paid an appearance fee. Even her surrogate son, Bill Maher, pays his Real Time guests $2500 for just sitting at a table. That at least covers their First Class air fares from the East Coast.

The beleagured bloggers have even created a Facebook page, highlighting their concerns, entitled, "Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?" And Marco the cheerleader has been assigned a presence on that page to fight Arianna's corner. His latest attempt was to inform all the unfortunates how ungrateful they were, and how he'd forever be grateful for what Arianna had done for internet journalism and for hiimself.

"But, Marco," a commentator pointed out, "you are paid."

And now, it seems, various contributors have decided to take a leaf from Wisconsin's book and institute a strike against The Huffington Post, demanding collective bargaining rights. The spectre of various HuffPost bloggers manning a picket line en masse outside Huffington's swish Soho offices in New York, with Madame assuming the Scott Walker role is the stuff of legend - another little man standing up for his own interests against a rich corporation, which is, essentially, what Huffington's become.

Bill Lasarow, publisher and editor of Visual Art Source, which has contributed content for free to HuffPo for a year now, has announced that his organisation is going on strike against Huffington, with two demands, specifically:-

1) that Huffington develop a system whereby bloggers are paid for their efforts and

2) that Huffington differentiates between paid promotional content and writers' work.

They are also proposing that contributors band together to instigate a system of collective bargaining. While it's not illegal that bloggers are unpaid, Lasarow points out, it's unethical and just a wee bit hypocritical.

And so much for the sainted little people for whom Arianna had made herself a self-appointed spokesperson.

If nothing else, this proposed action has shown, indelibly, how far removed and how out-of-touch with ordinary people, the faux and fashionable Progressive intelligentsia has become. Immediately this idea was mooted and put into the public domain, one of Arianna's celebrity bloggers - you know, the ones who have substantial income from another source - jumped to her defense.

Robert Scheer, who blogs occasionally for HuffPo, but whose professional writing efforts are imbursed by Katrina vanden Heuvel's trust fund, AKA The Nation, readily assumed the role of Huffington Knight Errant, saying, “In defense of the use of unpaid bloggers, of which I happen to be one among the many who appear on a regular basis on the Huffington Post, we are not exploited.”

Oh, well ... that's all right then. God's in his heaven, all's right with the world, and Robert Scheer speaks for a multitude.

The op-eds, Scheer says dismissively, were never a source of serious income anyway. Maybe not for Mr Scheer, but the striking contributors say - and rightly so - for well-known contributors, who aren't concerned about reimbursements for their efforts, to take this sort of dismissive attitude is nothing short of disgraceful.

And, really, doesn't this sort of disdain smack of the Koch-infested Right? It certainly goes a long way in explaining why, at the beginning of last week, when the Wisconsin protests were reaching their heights, that the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post sought to write a lengthy account of hers and Bill Maher's exploits at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, making light of Kirk Douglas's aphasia, rather than lend moral support to those middle class strugglers in Wisconsin, whom she formerly purported to support. She would do well to remember Kirk Douglas, a lifelong liberal and Democrat, was the one man who broke the Hollywood McCarthyite blacklisting of Dalton Trumbo, a writer.

Instead, Madame weighed in on the potential strike situation, whilst at a conference in New York City last week, with these words, ridiculing these people: "Go ahead, go on strike! The idea of going on strike when no one really notices!"

Oh, really, Arianna? I guess you haven't been noticing the thousands of middle class people - you know, the ones you convinced the President disdained - camping out in freezing conditions to fight for their rights against a governor, who's increasingly become megalomaniacal.

With such an attitude, it's mete to ask how one says, "Let them eat cake" in Greek, the moral of this story being: Beware of Greeks causing rifts.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mike Huckabee: The Craven Christian

Politics and religion don't mix. Really, they shouldn't mix. Actually, they're not meant to mix, especially in the United States, where our Constitution calls for a separation of Church and State.

Now, that doesn't mean that men of the cloth can't dabble in politics. We've had clergymen serve in Congress before, including two Catholic priests. But that doesn't mean political clergymen can bring their faith to the floor of Congress, and conversely, it shouldn't mean that professional clergymen should bring politics to the pulpit.

Religious politicos are no different to the usual corrupt variety in having feet of clay - after all, look at all the sexual shenanigans which occurred in that poor excuse of a "church" on C Street which doubles as a home for wayward Christian congressmen. However, I have to say, until this week, I'd actually thought Mike Huckabee above all that stuff.

Huckabee, to me, actually seemed an anomaly, because he looked and sounded like a nice Republican - a dying breed and a bit of an oxymoron these days, I know; but he did seem, politics apart, to be a genuinely nice man.

Being a genuinely nice man is no real qualifier. He is a Republican, an ordained clergyman who believes that religion and politics are indelibly intertwined, a social and fiscal conservative. He would never get my vote, but he impressed me simply because he wouldn't rise to the vicious and nasty bait others in his party doled out regarding demonisation of the Left.

But like everyone else in the GOP at the moment, it seems Huck's not immune from suffering from their particular and current brand of meanness which just amounts to nothing more than not-so-cleverly disguised racism.

Until recently, Huck's been one of a handful of Republicans whom I thought had balls enough to give the President credit from time to time. When the President made the unannounced visit to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet and salute the returning coffins of servicemen killed in Afghanistan, Huckabee praised this, saying he was proud, at that moment, that Obama was his President. He even made a soft-pedaled criticism of the current Republican mean girls, Palin and Bachmann, and Rush Limbaugh, in their persistent bitchery about the First Lady's campaign against childhood obesity. And I believe in his past as a clergyman, he's encouraged and even opened his own churches up in welcoming African Americans into his Southern Baptist congregations.

Currently, Huckabee's leading in most of the polls regarding potential GOP Presidential candidates for 2012. He's running ahead of Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich; and I guess life at the top of the poll got to him this week. The previous week saw him pasting political rival Romney regarding the prototypical healthcare package he initiated in Massachusetts, which eventually became Obamacare.

However, this week, Huckabee let his political ambitions belie the Christianity he wears on his sleeve, and he succumbed to the temptation of The Big Lie mentality, in order to firm his roots with the teabagging base of the Republican Party. In an interview on a conservative talk radio station, Huckabee sought to smear the President of the United States as rabidly anti-American and sought to explain this perceived "anti-Americanism" as a result of Obama's having been raised in Kenya, with his father and his grandfather, the latter imbuing him with a virulent strain of anti-colonialism acquired as a result of his having been incarcerated during the Mau Mau Rebellion of the 1950s.

The interview was lengthy, in depth and repeated the meme of Obama's "Kenyan" upbringing, which was a base lie. Anyone who's read the President's autobiography Dreams of My Father, knows that Barack Obama Jr didn't meet his old man until he was ten years old. That was the first and last time. He actually didn't visit Kenya until he was a grown man.

A day later, Huckabee tried to walk back the lie as a misspoken irrelevance. He wasn't actually referring to Kenya, you see; he was referring to Indonesia (where the President did, indeed, spend a great deal of his childhood, living with his mother and stepfather). If that were the case, then why didn't Huckabee's interviewer attempt to correct him, rather than letting him vent about the President being anti-American as a result of his Kenyan uppringing?

Oh, it was to promote the lie that's currently found, if not on most Republicans' lips, then most certainly at the backs of their tiny minds. The President's not one of us. He's different. His name is foreign in a way ours have never been foreign before, and he certainly looks different.

The most extreme of the Republican base openly doubt the fact that the President is even American, maintaining the birthers' mantra that he was born in Kenya - something which if John Boehner and Eric Cantor won't correct amongst their voters, then Huckabee has always been at pains to disdain; but in his interview, the foremer Arkansas governor and ordained Baptist minister merely changed tack and altered the goalposts around the birther theory: Obama may have been born in the United States, but let's get the message out that he was raised in Kenya and absorbed anti-colonial opinions from his father and grandfather, which formed the basis of his political ideals which he hopes to foist on the United States.

As a well-known Republican sage might snark, that's kinda oxymoronic.

It's oxymoronic because, as Americans, we're all supposed to be anti-colonialists. That's why we revolted against the old country. We were second class colonials, and we wanted to be their equals. That's part of our American identity. I don't get it. Is Huckabee coming down on the side of the Brit in the Mau Mau Rebellion, because if it does, it says an awful lot about Mike Huckabee.

Yes, the rebellion was a reaction by native Kenyans against British rule, and it resulted in the British instituting concentration camps and torturing various rebels. Is Huckabee endorsing that sort of behaviour engendered by the white British rulers against their black indigneous subjects? If so, what does that say about Mike Huckabee?

Because, really, that's what this whole Kenyan thing is about - the whole Kenyan, birther, secret Muslim dynamic. It's simply a euphemism for the fact that the Republican base, and many of its elected officials, don't like the fact that the President is black.

In the 21st Century, it's all about race. The President is black. He's not like us. He has African roots, from the country of Kenya, his father was an atheist, he was given a Muslim name and his grandfather opposed a colonial authority. Therefore, he's a Manchurian candidate, dumped in the White House by the subversive Left in order to lead us all down the unrighteous path of socialism, communisim, fascism, whateverism happens to be worrying the Teabaggers on a particular day of a particular month at a particular time of day.

It's racism, and Huckabee, ordained man of God and gentle Christian pastor, is pushing a lie, in order to consolidate his pre-eminence as a viable Presidential candidate amongst the Republican base. This other man from Hope, Arkansas, is dispelling the man who offered us the audacity of hope solely because the colour of his skin is not the type they would hope to be seeing sitting in the White House, unless it were in a servile capacity.

Never mind the fact, as Joan Walsh recently pointed out, that the President was raised by a Caucasian mother from Kansas and his Caucasian, middle-class grandparents in Hawaii. As she reiterated, no one wants to speak of them. Why emphasize Obama's American roots at all, when his Kenyan heritage serves the ulterior purpose of delegitimising him so effectively?

Well, if the Kenyan heritage is all that matters for these people, perhaps they need to address these "Kenyans" who happen to be relatives of our President: Brad Pitt, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis.

If Obama's mother's heritage doesn't count, then that must mean that all of the above are Kenyans, surely, because they are lateral relations of the President, and in the case of Davis, the President is directly descended from him.

Pitt apart, knowing that the President claimed real kinship with any of the others would be a plus factor in the South and parts of the rural Midwest. It would make him a fully paid-up member of the club, eligible to be included as part of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a bubba.

Just imagine how that would play in the Red States.

And, maybe, if Mike Huckabee just scratched the surface enough, he'd find that he might be Kenyan too.