Friday, July 29, 2011

The Perils of Politics and Alcohol

Never mix politics or political discussion with alcohol. Take it from people who should know better.

Too much alcohol can make you maudlin, causing you to cry at inappropriate moments, like when you're trying to get the party you control to screw the American public to the wall. It also alienates your associates, especially when you bark orders about their "getting their asses in line." And eating too much pizza with your booze, might make for unpleasant, uncontrollable smells on the House floor as well as unseemly accidents.

Never drink alcohol before breakfast or in place of breakfast. Not only do you find that you say inappropriate things, but also you find that you project your own inadequacies on the objects of your criticism. The President isn't a loser, Peggy, you are for daring to appear on our television screens at that time of the morning and in that state.

If you have a penchant for the old Chablis, avoid anything like that which might be offered you in the green room before a panel discussion. You never know who might sit next to you, and losing all your inhibitions after imbibing, you might find the real you (and all your inherent ugly prejudices) some spilling out over your tongue. For example, you might be sitting beside Van Jones and start screaming out that Eldridge Cleaver (your image of what a real black man should be like) had a big cock (or at least, that's what you've been led to believe about black men). Maybe someone should tell Katrina that when her tumescent Cleaver died, religiously, he was closer to Mitt Romney than any of her secular idols and politically, he'd turned into the prototype that's now known as Herman Cain. Still, The Priory in London will take your money for rehab, dear. Oh, and comb your hair.

Never drink alone late at night, and if you do, don't go on Twitter. Drink regresses you until you become a mean-girl Heather adolescent, spewing racist comments at people who aren't fortunate enough to occupy your bully pulpit - with emphasis on the word "bully." Once you've sobered up, you'll find you'll make a butt-clinchingly embarrassing fool of yourself trying to suck up to all the famous people you haven't insulted, just to prove you have minority friends. And sometimes when you're drunk, you end up making people like Rick Warren and Andrew Breitbart look almost honourable.

Indulging in a long, liquid lunch isn't as much a substitute for Viagra as it is a warning for an onset of inappropriate prurience. One might find oneself returning to one's place of work and assuming that your position of influence might make you more desireable in the eyes of that younger woman administrative staffer you've been ogling for the past few months. Trust me, it doesn't. It makes you look like a horny old hoofer, but she'll make a few bob off the legal suit that comes from your sexual harassment.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Pundit-and-Politico Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our (Political) Gang 2011

Remember the old film shorts from the 1930s "Our Gang?" Ever wonder who the Our Gang crew would grow up to be if they went into politics? Well ... Let's pretend a reality television show was produced entitled OUR (POLITICAL) GANG 2011 ... Starring ...

Michael Moore as Spanky

Dennis Kucinich as Alfalfa

Joan Walsh as Darla

Bill Maher as Skippy

Tavis Smiley as Stymie

And ...

Cornel West as Buckwheat

Special Guest star

Arianna Huffington as The Wicked Witch of the West

The Fraud That Is Bill Maher

Would the real Bill Maher please stand up? Who is he? I want to know. Is he a comedian or a political pundit? Is he a Progressive (as he claims he is), a libertarian (as he’s been on record in the past as saying) or a closet Republican (he did vote for Reagan the second time around and for Dole in 1996)? Is he a bona fide intellectual or a dilettante? An original thinker or a dedicated follower of fashion? Is he an atheist or is there a tryptiched altar in his bedroom, complete with votive candles and a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

This is the man responsible for introducing the likes of Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Grover Norquist and Christine O’Donnell into mainstream America. He counts Coulter amongst his best friends – one of two, I imagine, because media whore and Queen Ratfucker, Arianna Huffington is the other one. He lambasts the corporatocracy which has taken over America, yet bows from the waist in open admiration at Huffington’s defection to that realm of power and glory (not that she ever left off trying to break down the doors anyway).

He describes himself as a Progressive, but he openly supports the death penalty and racial profiling. He is anti-union and crossed the picket lines during the writers’ strike to carry on with his show. After the strike ended, he made it a stipulation that any writer working on his Real Time show not belong to a union. He is virulently against the National Endowment for the Arts. Whilst he was vocal in his criticism of George W Bush, he lauded him for the Iraqi surge. He’s a fervent defender of Israel.

If any other self-proclaimed “Progressive” openly claimed those credentials, he’d be immediately lambasted as a Blue Dog Dem, and that’s being kind. Those credentials are solidly Republican.

During the health care debates throughout 2009, Bill pushed the envelope in favour of the fashionable “public option,” even advocating Medicare-for-All when he interviewed Congresscritturs pushing that meme; but at the end of that season, in a lengthy interview with Bill Frist, he blurted out that he didn’t trust the government to administer any sort of health program, before launching into an anti-vaccine argument with Frist, a practicing physician, that belied his self-promoted reputation as a secular ratiionalist worshipping at the altar of science. The week before that episode, he engaged himself in a totally ludicrous argument with Jeff Toobin, criticizing what he called “Western medicine” and insisting that people left the United States dying of cancer for alternative treatments and lived to tell the tale.

In fact, Bill seems far cozier in the company of some of the most notorious conservative politicians and commentators, Frist included. Coulter, as mentioned, is his BFF; and the criminally-challenged Congressman, Darrell Issa is a frequent guest on Real Time, as is Dana Loesch, Matthew Continetti and the infamous Andrew Breitbart, whom he fails to challenge on any point and actually appears to protect.

In fact, it was the conservative writer, S E Cupp, who perspicaciously sussed that Bill’s strident atheism didn’t really appear to be non-belief at all, but rather, an anger at God. In fact, it’s only recently that Bill’s actually outed himself as an atheist. Until 2009, when Richard Dawkins awarded him his coveted Atheist of the Year award, Maher identified himself more as a questioning agnostic, saying that atheists were just as uncertain in their non-belief as fundamentalist Christians were in theirs. He actually admitted to believing in a higher power, just one which wasn’t the traditional view of God as the ultimate father figure.

The “Progressive” Bill Maher has shown himself openly queasy about Islam and Muslims, in general. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, in 2010, he quipped that, of course, Islam was a religion of peace. “There’s a piece of you over there and another piece over there, and that’s after the suicide bombers have struck.”

He was openly rude and blatantly disrespectful to Congressman Keith Ellison, one is Muslim.

And then, there are the remarks about the current President of the United States, referring to him disparagingly as “President Sanford and Son,” and lamenting the fact that Barack Obama wasn’t his idea of a real black President, one who would use ghetto-style language and intimidation techniques, even to the point of showing his Cabinet and Congress a gun tucked inside his suit jacket.

I’m positing that Bill Maher is a fraud, and anyone who looks at him either as an intelligent and fearless voice in the pundit community or an equally brilliant satirist, needs to wake up, smell the coffee and learn to think for themselves.

This is a man who follows the fashion of the easy money trail, rather than owning up to common sense principles that he’s afraid to avow publically because it would mean swimming against whatever the currently fashionable tide is concerning a popular topic of discussion or criticism.

He’s proven this with his attitude toward President Obama.

Bill was raised in a Democratic household, although now he doesn’t describe himself as a Democrat, and he’s too afraid to admit that he is, at heart, probably more of an old-style moderate Republican. It’s not unusual for someone to start life as a Democrat and then become a Republican – like John Boehner. Conversely, Hillary Clinton was formerly a Republican who switched parties along the way.

No, Bill’s a political starfucker. He leans Democratic when it’s cool to do so, and punches the Republicans when it’s the flavour of the moment to do that as well. And when the radical chic, whom he emulates and longs to join, find a trendy independent with a bone to pick, they push his meme too. Hence, Bill, along with those other two politically astute self-promoters, Michael Moore and Katrina vanden Heuvel, sold their followers on the message that it was all too hip to back Ralph Nader in 2000, because Bush and Gore represented the same corporate animal.

There you go. Bill enabled George W Bush, but then Bush gave him some great comedy moments and, no doubt, lined his pockets with money to ferret away from the California tax authorities, so who’s complaining? Not Bill.

Now we’re seeing Bill sell his dismay about Obama with everyone from Piers Morgan to Lawrence O’Donnell. I remember when he started this meme, and I remember the background to it, and it’s the background which, I believe, is sincere and incongruent to the undermining message he’s promoted on and off since then, which has done enough harm to the President, but serves only to enhance Maher’s own publicity. I don’t have any problem with self-promoting hacks, but I do have a problem with people who hang on their every word and follow them to the point that they convolute themselves in contradiction.

At the end of Bill’s 2008 season, the week after the Election, Bill – who was genuinely pleased with an Obama triumph – sat at his panel’s table and discussed with Jon Meacham how exactly they thought Obama would govern as President. Bill acknowledged that Candidate Obama had run as a centre-Left pragmatist and admonished Progressives not to get caught up in the hope that he would be able to pursue an exclusively Progressive agenda. He even warned that the Republican party, although defeated, was anything but down and out and would be an obstructive force with which to reckon.

He and Meacham then agreed that Obama would have no recourse but to govern from the centre and would have to seek bipartisan support from the GOP for certain measures. Bill even cited Mario Cuomo’s famous quote about politicians campaigning in poetry and governing in prose.

So far, ao astute. So sensible.

Fast forward to February 2009, and Bill’s first program after his hiatus. He took a break from comedy in his monologue, to remind his audience of the immense obstacles, especially with the economy, facing this President. He was right in saying that Obama was essentially the black man brought in to clean up the mess made by the entitled white man. He was actually facing the worst economic situation since Roosevelt’s first term, but then Bill reminded people about the public in Roosevelt’s time, the so-called Greatest Generation, of which Bill’s parents (and mine) were a part.

Bill reminded his llisteners that the President had said that this would take time, that he couldn’t do it without the public’s help, and that was reasonable.

“I hope,” he said, “that now we’ve got our man in the White House, that people are just going to sit back and expect him to perform miracles and right this situation right away, because that’s not the way it’s done. It’s gonna take some time, and we all have to tighten our belts. But, you know, I’m not so sure this generation is able to do that, not like our parents’ generation.”

He went on to explain how his parents had lived through a Depression and a World War. They were suffering when Roosevelt asked them to tighten their belts even more during a real Depression, and they came off that, only to be asked to make sacrifices during a war. They got on with it and did what was asked; but he was right to single out the immaturity of people in present times. He actually ended his spiel by wryly reminding people that this wasn’t a matter of just cleaning house, and the President wasn’t that sort of servant.

Again, brilliant summation.

By the third week in June, he was castigating the Republican party for moaning about Obama always being on television; by the fourth week in June, 2009, Bill abruptly changed tack, in one week: Now he was moaning about Obama being on television so much that he’d done nothing since he’d become President. He seemed to enjoy being in front of the camera too much. Why, the only thing he’d accomplished in the first 100 days was getting a dog. Where were the WPA-style jobs’ programs, where was healthcare? And then the killer line: Why couldn’t Obama be more like Bush in ramming legislation through? Why couldn’t he have more of the Bush swagger?

Such bodacity garnered Bill umpteen appearances on talk show after talk show and the floodgates on Obama-bashing opened in earnest. As time went by, Bill loved to remind people that he was the first political commentator who dared to criticize the President. By the end of that year, he was snarkily referring to him as “Barry,” emulating the pithy and petty old white men of the Tea Party he disdained. When the President fulfilled a campaign promise of implementing a surge in Afghanistan, Bill tweeted indignantly that Obama was now “just like Bush.”

This carried on to a lesser degree – racist comments aside – during 2010. At least Bill had retained enough of his integrity to realise that 2010 was a Midterm election year, and that the Democrats were in danger of losing out. But in the aftermath of the Midterms and after the tax cut compromise, he took to the airwaves on Fareed Zakaria’s program to label the President a “pussy.” He’s since called him that once again in recent weeks.

In fact, the only time the President has received any approbation from Bill Maher this year was when Osama bin Laden was killed.

Since then, his constant meme has been “caving” or wishing that Obama had pushed Democratic principles, and insinuating that Obama is a Republican at heart.

Singularly oxymoronic from a man who openly supports the death penalty, who’s on record as being anti-union (please, the attention paid by Maher to the Wisconsin debacle was fashion-following only), who’s against the NEA, who defends Israel in every corner, who starfucks Bibi Netanyahu, and who doesn’t have a problem with American citizens getting assassinated without due process.

Bill Maher says Obama is a Republican at heart.

As for the President not promoting Democratic principles, I presume Bill hasn’t heard about the following:-

■- The Lily Ledbetter Act (ensuring equal pay for women doing the same work as men – but wait! Bill Maher’s got a sexist problem with women).

■- The Matthew Shepherd Hate Crime Act (but wait! In 2007, no less than Alan Simpson, ripped Bill a new asshole, when he made an untimely gay joke, to which Simpson took offense)

■- The Dodd-Frank Act (but wait! Bill wholeheartedly approves of BFF’s Arianna Huffington’s entry into the Wall Street arena)

■- The Affordable Care Act (but wait! Bill’s on record as being against anything like a Congressional Act which regulates healthcare)

■- Repeal of DADT (enacted by the man Bill would crawl over broken glass to interview, Bill Clinton)

■- Pushing for the repeal of DOMA (another Clinton accomplishment)

There are other things. Bill, like most of his ilk, failed to see that the compromise secured by agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts for 2 years, contained many valuable benefits for the unemployed, the poor, the working poor and small businesses. But Bill wouldn’t see these things, simply because he has no occasion to think about them. He simply isn’t concerned. And, by the way, just to detract from Bill’s constant meme of Obama being a bad negotiator, the tax cut compromise was negotiated by Joe Biden.

And this week he’s back, singing the same old song of Obama disappointment on Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC show, when in reality, he was conflicted to the point of confusion. On the one hand, Bill understands very well that the President has to react the way he does at various times because he’s contending with an Opposition who’ve made no secret of the fact that their aim is to destroy Barack Obama – as a President, as a politician and as a man. And yet, he undermines the President in the next breath, by insinuating that he was naive to want bipartisan cooperation, that he was needy in “wanting the Republicans to like him,” that he was a bad negotiator (yet again) and was caving to their demands by not demanding revenues in exchange for spending cuts (when it was Harry Reid, who famously caved in this instance, after the Republicans had walked out on the Presidential negotiations).

Finally, by beginning his interview with O’Donnell with such an infamous qualitative statement as “I like Obama BUT …” he simply reveals that he doesn’t like the President at all, which indicates that Maher is either stupid enough not to have listened to the President at all during either the campaign or his early months in office or that he’s enough of a shallow starfucker to herd-follow the Professional Left shills who gratuitously criticize absolutely everything this President does or doesn’t do which doesn’t meet with their high purist standards, in an attempt to grift a spare buck and some free publicity.

Because I’ve heard him speak eloquently and intelligently in defence of this President and because he was still astute enough to realise that something as straightforward as increasing the debt ceiling (a procedure in which no President in recent history has had to involve himself directly) is a manouevre to destroy the country’s economy in an attempt to bring down one man, I believe the latter.

Like his mommy-figure, Huffinton, Bill’s all about self-promotion and getting as much attention as possible. And he wants to play with the big kids, be in with the in crowd. It’s cool in Bill’s world to be a Progressive hating on the black man in the White House, and when Bill derides the stupidity of Americans and manages to convince the dittoes who follow him religiously that he’s a Progressive who’s OK with the death penalty and who’s not ok with defending labour through unions, then he’s laughing all the way to the bank at such singular inability to think critically; but he’s not going to complain if it makes him some money.

At the end of his interview with O’Donnell this week, Lawrence asked Bill if there were even a remote part of him who was hoping for a default on the national debt for comedic purposes. Bill replied that he had money; even he wouldn’t want to see that happen. But I have a sneaking suspicion that he’d like to see this President fail and a Republican in Office in 2012.

After all, a Republican in the White House is just so much better for comedy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Some People Need Reminding

Just about a year ago, prior to Congress breaking up for its August hiatus, the President summoned Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to the White House. Mindful of the fact that 2010 was a Midterm year, and that all of the House and a proportion of the Senate would be on the hustings during the month of October, the President had something important on which he wanted the House and Senate to focus after they returned to Washington in September.

He thought it important that the Hill tackle the Bush tax cuts before heading out on the campaign trail. The President was erring on the side of caution. There was still a sizeable Democratic majority in the House and a reasonable one in the Senate. Best deal with the Bush tax cuts now, before the campaign season started in earnest. Repeal the tax cuts for the wealthiest, and extend indefinitely those for the middle and working classes. That way, when the politicos were on the campaign trail, the fact that Congress had vouchsafed tax cuts for the neediest people, whilst raising taxes on the wealthy, would be a valuable selling point.

The Speaker of the House agreed. The Senate Majority Leader demurred. He was locked in a neck-and-neck battle in his home state with Tea Party Queen Sharron Angle, and raising taxes on a particular demographic in his state, unfriendly to his political persuasion anyway, just might tip the balance in Angle's favour in the election.

Later, he was backed up in his position by no less than Russ Feingold, who requested a meeting with the President in order to implore him not to pursue this agenda until after the Midterms. Feingold, like Reid, had too much at stake.

Well, we know what happened. The Democrats lost the House - mostly Blue Dog seats, with the exception of Alan Grayson's and Tom Perriello's; the Senate was returned with a smaller majority. Reid retained his position. Feingold lost to a Teabagger. And the Republicans held the Lame Duck session to ransome, refusing to do business until the Bush tax cuts were extended. For everyone.

Fast forward to December, after the tax cut compromise. The President, again, spoke to the Senate Majority Leader and the outgoing Speaker of the House. As part of the legislation to pursue during the December Lame Duck session, the President suggested that a vote be undertaken then and there to raise and extend the debt ceiling. Best get this out of the way in a clean cut vote, whilst the Democrats were in the last gasps of their majority in both houses. The President foresaw difficulties in the types of people the public had chosen to represent them in the House, and the Democrats' majority was weakened in the Senate as well. Get this done, dusted and out of the way.

Once again, Harry Reid demurred. He'd prefer to leave this to the time it came up for debate, at the earliest, in the spring of 2011. Already, the 24/7 talking heads were wondering how a Republican House full of Teabaggers would tackle an increase in the debt ceiling, a situation few of the incipient Freshmen Congressmen seemed to understand. Even some of the incumbents weren't that certain what the debt ceiling was all about. But Reid insisted. Delaying the vote, he said, would ensure that the Republicans, who were now being called upon to govern, would own part of the responsibility.

And so we find ourselves on the brink of disaster.

Last Friday night, John Boehner, the current Speaker of the House, tanked, yet again, on the President, walking away from an overly generous offer on deficit reduction, because the President was insistent on raising tax revenues on the wealthier classes. Talks broke down, again; and Congress suddenly remembered that legislation - specifically, fiscal legislation - was the job they were elected to perform (and paid to do via peoples' taxes). So the Democratic leaders and the Republican leaders decided to formulate their own plans for deficit reduction, and to cut the President out of any and all negotiations.

The Speaker's plan is in total disarray because he cannot unite his caucus. Frankly, his plan stinks anyway, and it's just designed to repeat all this unnecessary melodrama, sturm und drang as a pejorative sideshow in the middle of an election year. Besides, it's an open secret that everything the Republican Party in Congress has done, is doing and will do, has only a single aim: to ensure that this Presidency fails.

Senator Reid's plan is somewhat better, but not perfect. And, like the GOP's effort, it includes no raisings of revenue.

Now, in an eleventh hour panic, the House announces - nay, the House tells the President to invoke the ambiguous 14th Amendment option, something that has never been tried before and may be impeachable.

Where this goes from here is anybody's guess, but one thing is certain: whatever happens won't please either the Right or the Left (and the extremes of both are united in their vicious, vindictive and vehemently ad hominem attacks on the President), and at the end of the day, the President will bear the castigation and the blame, when we really should be pointing the finger at Congress and some specific members.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Joan Walsh's Dysfunctional Understanding of History and Government

Last week, the President - you know, the black dude who sits behind the desk in the Oval Office - spoke to a coterie of politically-involved college students, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. It really was a masterclass in what politics in the real world was all about. He channelled Lincoln and spoke of compromise being the essence of governing in a democracy.

And it sent Joan Walsh into paroxysms.

I get it that Joan has a problem with a black man doing what her heroine Hillary was born to do. I get that she towed the line for the first part of the President's Administration and offered support for him (as opposed to others of her ilk in the overloaded punditsphere), but I also understand that such support was contingent on his bowing out gracefully after one term and allowing her gal, Hillary, to take up the reins. I get that once it became obvious that the President was going for a second term, Joannie let her true colours show, and that pun was richly intended.

The Lincoln reference seemed to strike a particularly sour note with Walsh. After all, in the wake of a recent contretemps with various African American voters on Twitter, she took the oppportunity of reviewing a recent history of the Civil War to equate her Irish heritage's suffering with that sustained by African Americans before, during and after the conflict. Now, after reading about the President's tutorial session with the college students, Joan reckons she's Frederick Douglass to the President's Lincoln.

Go figure that one.

During the masterclass, the President spoke about compromise in politics, explaining how it usually meant never getting 100% of what either side originally wanted, and he poiinted to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation as evident of that. He pointed out that this original Executive Order, later strengthened and fully legalised by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, effectively ended slavery in those areas of the country which were, at that time, in direct rebellion against the US Government. It retained the institution as it stood in those states which had not seceeded - places like Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky (where both Lincoln and his wife - who hailed from a family of slaveholders and whose brothers fought for the Confederacy - had been born). In fact, slaveholders sat in Lincoln's Cabinet - the Attorney General Edward Bates from Missouri and the Postmaster General Montgomery Blair from Maryland.

The point of the Emancipation Proclamation example wasn't just to reiterate that the order was, in and of itself, a compromise; the President also used it to emphasize the dangers of spin journalism, citing The Huffington Post as a prime example of how, were Lincoln existing in the 21st Century and issuing the Emancipation Proclamation in this context, HuffPo would have cherrypicked and spun the situation as Lincoln having sold the slave population the short end of the stick. As an example of compromise, the Emancipation Proclamation was a starting point: the President knew that the institution of slavery was "enshrined" in the Constitution. It would take a Constitutional Amendment to rid the nation of this blight. He did what he could within the context of his office, and in using this example, the current President not only illustrated the art of compromise and what it could achieve, he also showed Joan Walsh and others of her ilk inhabiting the Professional Left, that he had their measure and knew exactly what they were.

That's probably what irked Joan so much, because her pedantic response to that was to point out prissily that not everyone was happy with the limited strictures of the Emancipation Proclamation and cited, amongst others, Frederick Douglass and Horace Greeley as vociferous in their condemnation of its limitations. What Joan willfully failed to realise that, as important as men like Douglass and Greeley were to their time and age, they, by no means occupied the omnipotent 24/7 bully pulpit of today's cable news networks, combined with the power of the Professional Left on the Internet. Their voices, although nationally known, traveled slowly, in comparison to the speed with which today's information is dispersed; and their writings were read only by that portion of the population which was sufficiently literate to do so.

On the other hand, there was another faction of the population who felt they had a reason to be displeased with Lincoln's freeing of certain parts of the slave population, and Joan's forebears probably constituted a part of that demographic: the immigrant population.

Before his Presidency and throughout, leading up to the Emancipation, Lincoln was at pains to mollify the immigrant population, the newly-minted citizens of Irish and German descent who constituted the bulk of cheap industrial labour in the North and who provided much of the gruntwork of the Union Army, reassuring them that, contrary to some of the spin they were being fed, he actually didn't want to place the African American population on a level footing with the white ethnics. Newly emancipated slaves, travelling North for work, would constitute and even cheaper workforce against whom the ethnic whites would have to compete. And this prejudice didn't go away with the Emancipation; it still hasn't left entirely, and it reared its ugly head in the white backlash riots in the North and on the West Coast in the mid-1960s. I suppose that attitude, were the 24/7 news cycle and the internet available during Lincoln's time, would have ensured Lincoln was hung out to dry by the Professional Left of the day, also.

So it would appear as though Lincoln, much like our current President, was getting it in the neck, pretty much, from all sides: the South seceeding and fighting a war to retain their "property rights," the Abolitionists disgruntled because Lincoln wasn't doing enough to ensure total liberty for the slave population, and the white ethnic immigrants grousing because they felt he was doing too much. Sound familiar?

Similarities between Lincoln and our current Presidentn have been noted many times. Both were unlikely candidates, elected to the highest office in the land and at critical times in their respective centuries. Not only was Lincoln the compromise candidate of the new Republican Party, he presented himself as a centre-Left pragmatist, willing to compromise and institute incremental change in order, ultimately, to achieve his aims, knowing precisely that incremental change, almost imperceptible change, was change that lasted and developed positively.

But he was also a rank outsider in Washington terms. He'd only served 2 years as a Congressman, during which time he lived away from his family in a boarding house. He was a Westerner, self-educated, somewhat gauche in social graces. The more refined political elements of Washington, even those of his own party and including some members of his Cabinet, regularly encouraging cartoonists' depictions of him as a gangling ape.

Not only the Opposition, but even some members of the fledgling Republican party, including Cabinet members, felt Lincoln unqualified for the office of President of the United States and summarily treated him with scant respect. This eventually led to his Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P Chase, being removed from the Cabinet and given a sideways promotion to the Supreme Court.

The worst offender, however, was George McClellan.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln was pressured into appointing the mercurial McClellan to head the Army of the Potomac against the Confederacy. McClellan was a Democrat from an aristocratic Pennsylvania family and a supporter of slavery. To McClellan, Lincoln was a rube, an uncouth Westerner who demeaned the office he served and knew precious little about anything. He treated the Presidentn with open disdain. When Lincoln requested meetings at the White House, McClellan generally demurred attending, saying openly that he had other things to do.

Once, frustrated that his attempts to meet with the General had been met with repeated rebuffs, the President determined to visit McClellan at his Washington abode one evening, effectively, to force a meeting about the lack of progress in the Army of the Potomac's manoeuvres. When Lincoln arrived, McClellan's servant told him that the General and his wife were attending a party elsewhere in the city. That's fine, replied Lincoln, he'd await their return and was ushered into the McClellan's parlour.

After waiting several hours, Lincoln heard the McClellan carriage arrive. As the General entered the house, his servant told him that the President was awaiting him in the parlour. McClellan didn't miss a beat.

"Tell the President that I'm tired," McClellan told his servant, as he climbed the stairs, "and that I'm going to bed."

Needless to say, McClellan was subsequently relieved of his command and went home to cool his heels in Pennsylvania. When no further military orders were forthcoming, he challenged Lincoln for the White House in 1864, running as a Democrat and losing. History remembers McClellan's empty pomp, circumstance and arrogance. They remember the disrespect he meted his Commander-in-Chief.

Will Joan Walsh or any of the pundits from the Left who are addicted to constant criticism of this President, even acknowledge the wanton disrespect ofttimes openly shown the current President, even from their own quarters?

One night ago, when Joan was on a tweeting surge again, she pissingly remarked that she understood that compromise was an essential element of governing, she just didn't think compromise should be an excuse for governing.

Look, I know Joan wasn't young enough to vote or even understand the machinations of government when Richard Nixon was President, but history is there in black and white for all of us to see - and many times, it's in living colour. Nixon had a Democratic Congress, and I'm not giving him credit for all of the so-called liberal accomplishments he achieved. Read Rick Perlstein's "Nixonland." You'll see that Nixon's perpetuation and enhancement of LBJ's Great Society, as well as his creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, was done entirely for ulterior motives which were contrary to the ethos of the legacy of these entities. Nixon, after all, was all about Nixon; but he recognised that the only way to accomplish anything in governing under those circumstances, was to compromise.

Hell, Nixon compromised so damned well and so damned subtly, that he actually got the Democratic candidate that he wanted for the 1972 election and won a landslide, even though he was perilously close to a criminal investigation for his part in Watergate.

As much as it might pain purists and Joan to remember, FDR governed by compromise enormously, and within his own party. Reagan and Clinton had to do much the same, when they were presented with the fact that they were, effectively, minority Presidents.

We got into our present situation because people who should have, simply didn't vote in the 2010 Midterms. Now our government is being hijacked by a tranche of the Republican party whose members are, arguably, the most ignorant representatives ever chosen to national office. One of them, actually, should be in a military prison; instead he's on Capitol Hill. Figure that one out.

As the President remarked last night, the ubiquitous mass known collectively as the American people may have voted for divided government, but they sure as hell didn't vote for a dysfunctional government. Joan Walsh might be well advised to realise that the President isn't a king or a dictator, as much as she might sub-consciously wish he were. He's also not white, and that bothers her too. But in situations like this, the only way forward in anything, is compromise - otherwise, you get gridlock, and everyone suffers.

And I certainly don't remember Joan agonising and whingeing when her heroine Hillary's husband compromised his way through two terms, achieving the likes of DADT and DOMA, as well as contributing to our financial woes by repealing Glass Steagall, but then again, the Big Dog was that whiter shade of pale.

The sole and total object of this season's Republican Party is the downfall of Barack Obama. The thugs masquerading as legislators have been open in actually stating as such. They aren't interested in governing. Mitch McConnell says his major aim is to ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term President. John Boehner states that it's important to "stop" Obama. Tim Scott, a freshman Congressman, as well as the criminally-compromised Darrell Issa, wants to impeach him. So does Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat. And Joan isn't even touching on the fact that Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, stands to earn a bitch load of money by betting against the survival of US government bonds in the event of a default situation. That puts a whole new meaning on the phrase "conflict of interest." In fact, it brings it firmly into the realm of treason, but no one on the Professional Left, Joan included, is mentioning that.

Joan would do well to remember a little bit of recent history, such as what occurred in 1980, the last time a Democratic Party turned on its President and he was primaried by a Senator in a misguided act of hubris. We got the start of the shitstorm in which we findn ourselves now - 12 years of it.

Joan Walsh needs to understand the blunt edge of the truth: If Obama fails, we all fail. That's the end of the Democratic party, the end of the unions, the end of everything which we've taken for granted - separation of church and state, public education, woman's right to choose, healthcare, human rights, the lot. It's the end of the Left and the rise of the Right so far to the Right, that Reagan would blanche in his grave.

Joan Walsh needs to put aside her prejudices and remember the fate of those who are ignorant of the past. This time, it's going to be worse. This is our Armageddon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Waiting for the Great White Hope

You know about the Great White Hope, don’t you? You know about the Great White Hope, don’t you?

At the turn of the 20th Century, Jack Johnson, an African American, won the boxing heavyweight championship of the world. He beat a white man. During the era of Jim Crow in the South and racial condescension in the rest of the country, it was unthinkable that a black man could ever best a white. And so the wishin’ and hopin’ and prayin’ began in earnest for a white boxer to appear who would best Johnson and effectively put paid to the fluke that a black man could ever beat anyone white.

Funny enough, at the Berlin Olympics of 1936, America went colour-blind for a moment, to rally behind athletes Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, the future Congressman and co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, in opposition to an event which was presented as the Germans’ example of Aryan superiority in all things.

Two decades later, Jackie Robinson was “allowed” to integrate professional baseball. Less than half a century after pivotal civil rights’ legislation, our country elected the first African American President. Morally superior Europe looked at us in awe, because morally superior Europe brushed its own racial problems under its collective carpet, but in the week before Barack Obama’s historic achievement, the British historian Simon Schama told a transatlantic audience that a Barack Obama would never happen in the United Kingdom – not in the next decade and not in the next five decades.

This was America’s moment to put aside an element of racism which had long pervaded and defined a lot of American life. Of course, it didn’t. We knew it wouldn’t. And it was easy to surmise that most of the objection and the delegitimisation of this Presidency would come from the Right and from the South. I mean, that’s where all the racists are, aren’t they?

As the United States teeters toward defaulting on its massive debt, more and more we’ve seen, especially this year, that it isn’t just the Southern Republicans who have a problem with a black man in the White House. Many on the Left seem to have a problem dealing with a very competent and very intelligent black man who’s pretty much smarter than a lot of what you see on our side of the aisle on Capitol Hill, and who’s made it patently clear that while he’s in the White House, he’s there to work for the best interests of “the American People” and not just to kowtow to those who deem themselves to be his Progressive masters – whether they be in Congress, in the media or in the blogosphere.

There are some on the Left who call themselves pundits, who really have no idea of how politics really works, much less how government is supposed to work. Some of these people opining on what the President SHOULD say, what he SHOULD do and how he SHOULD act, almost to the point of ordering him about, have no real connection to the political world at all; but, for whatever reason, they’ve got a pulpit and a television camera, and since 2009, instead of lauding this man his achievements on our behalf, instead of encouraging us in our support for a President from our side of the political spectrum, they’ve refined nitpicking to a polished art and incessantly criticize the President as much, if not more, than Fox News.

During the healthcare debate, rife with lies and misinformation during the summer of 2009, instead of aiding the Democrats in their message about what exactly healthcare for all was supposed to achieve, MSNBC gave unbridled coverage to Tea Party assemblies. Various male pundits and comedians-cum-pundits were fascinated by Sarah Palin and now turn that fascination to Michele Bachmann.

Constant throughout this Administratoin has been the cry now and again for Progressives to unite with the Tea Party. Arianna Huffington started this meme, the same year she wanted Joe Biden to resign and “rebel” against the White House. Jane Hamsher openly sides now with conservative commentators and Republicans, deeming any Obama supporter the “dumbest motherfucker.” And even wannabe mean girl Joan Walsh, wallowing in the Puma-iest self-pity that the Democratic Party would deign to choose a black man over a “qualified white woman,” now suggests that the Democrats on the Hill combine forces with the GOP in a game of terminal chicken against the President.

These people stopped listening to the President ages ago, and along with the likes of John Boehner, Eric Cantor and various members of the White House press corps (some of whom ascended from the ranks of rank bloggers, themselves), treat him with open disrespect – reckoning him naive, incapable, incompetent, spineless and shallow, when he affects calm in a stressful situation and stoking that well-known fear of “the angry black man” when he shows passion and frustration. Some of these people, like Joan, even exhort the sheeple of Cyberland not to pay any attention to the President; instead, listen to them.

Well, just look at the number of talking heads who, in former lives not too long ago, were card-carrying Republicans. Some still are and are ratfucking the lowest common denominator of the Left:- Arianna Huffington, Cenk Uygur, Ed Schultz (puts a whole new complexion on his exhortation to Progressives not to vote in the midterms, doesn’t it?)

Others, like Michael Moore, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Bill Maher trolled the country and the airwaves in 2000, telling anyone who would listen that Bush and Gore were the same, and it was so much better and more important to vote for Ralph Nader. Consider this trio of false prophets enablers of the phenomenon that was George W Bush.

We all know that the GOP is searching frantically for its White Knight. We know that they’ll probably move heaven and earth to ensure that said Knight is not Michele Bachmann. After all, it was the Rightwing who broke the story about her incapacitating migraines.

That’s fine. We expect them to do that. They’re the opposition.

But it seems that the Left has never left off looking for their own special brand of a white political Jesus, as we constantly hear blips and grips about wanting to find someone, anyone willing to step up and primary the President. No surprise that all the names mentioned have been white.

Faux Progressive Hamsher is even offering “re-education” classes for African Americans, intent on telling them what SHE thinks Obama is really about. If that isn’t condescending racism, I don’t know what is.

With all the spin, supposition and fear-mongering innuendo the usual hacks in the media have managed to ratchet up regarding what they want the public to believe about the President’s perceived dismantling of Social Security and Medicare, it seems a lot of people are investing their hopes in Bernie Sanders.

I have great respect for Senator Sanders. I like him. But he comes from a primarily white state which is also a primarily prosperous state. His filibuster against extending the Bush tax cuts last December would have been admirable had that compromise not included vital legislation benefiting the unemployed, the poor, the working poor and students from working class backgrounds. The fact that he readily appropriated himself of the help offered by that noted Congressional “Progressive” (not) Mary Landrieu, who certainly represents a state with a huge number of poor and disadvataged people, was rankly cynical.

There’s a sad irony in all of this that Democrats and people who purport to be from the Left would think about repudiating the nation’s first African American President. It’s supremely hypocritical, and actually, it’s just what the Right want to see; because it proves to them and to any independent observer from another country, that the so-called Left is not really any different than their blood brothers on the Right.

So let them proceed with their primary fantasies. Maybe there will be someone brave or stupid enough to step forward and commit political suicide, both for themselves and for the Democratic party as a whole. Because in primarying this sitting President, they’ll attain their great white hope, although it may not be the one for whom the Left is hoping, and it might just lead to an unbroken hegemony of great white Rightwing hopes that will last a generation and firmly close the Overton window forever.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The President Who Isn't

People are living longer. Just look at the number of ex-Presidents we have living yet. There are four, and I can’t remember when so many ex-leaders of the country have been alive and compos mentis.

There have always been ex-Presidents who lived beyond their term of office. Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Ike all lived to be reasonably, if not very old men; but it’s always been sort of an unwritten tradition that ex-Presidents were allowed to retire gracefully to work on their library legacy (unless you were an established criminal, like Richard Nixon, and then you were allowed to retire in ignominy) and were expected to refrain from comment or criticism of the incumbent, whether he was a member of their party or not.

Of course, many engaged in charitable or philanthropic endeavours and were wheeled out to wave or address the faithful at various party conventions or caucuses, but most knew enough to demur tactfully from any commentary on the state of the government of the day or the current inhabitant of the Oval Office.

Until now.

The last two Democratic Presidents are alive and well and within the public domain: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton - the former a symbol of Democratic failure and the latter basking in a state of post-Presidential beatitude. I voted for both.

During the first year of Barack Obama’s tenure, at the height of a long, hot summer of Tea Party madness centering on the healthcare debate, when everyone was screaming “death panels” and “pulling the plug on Grandma,” NBC sought Jimmy Carter’s opinion about the strident scenes of ugly criticism directed at the 44th President of the United States, by his opposition, both elected and within the public domain.

Carter was quick to tell the obvious truth, which no one in the media wanted to confront: the real reason behind all this Tea Party insurrection, the demonstrations, the name-calling, the accusations and armed people showing up at rallies, was racism, pure and simple. Carter was a Southern man, who’d come of age during the era of Jim Crow, a liberal Democrat from the geographic area which used to harbour the Democratic base. He knew and could readily identify racism, no matterr how subtle the perpetrator intended it to be, and the Rightwing of the day was hardly subtle. Straight up: The hatred borne by the Right against Obama was racial, pure and simple.

I, personally, think Carter hit the nail on the head. A lot of other people with whom I’ve spoken pretty much think so too; but obviously, this was an answer that unsettled the news media, and they took their cue from the White House, who played down the remarks entirely. They reported what Carter said, and moved on precipitously.

Well, of course, the White House would play down any insinuation of racism. This is a seminal Presidency. An African American in the White House isn’t going to play the race card, even when he’s cognizant enough to know exactly why he’s being meted the treatment he’s receiving from some sectors.

And so, President Carter was dusted off, thanked politely, and returned to his Presidential box.

It would appear in this instance, that absence did not make the heart grow fonder; or maybe Carter hit a bit too close to the truth, and maybe that truth isn’t just popping up on the Rightwing side of the political coin. Because now, several voices are being raised in identifying a brand of racism, peculiar to the radical chic of the extreme Left, emerging in Progressive quarters.

In the case of the Big Dog, Bill Clinton, absence has made some Democratic hearts pine longingly, and a Presidency which began twenty years ago is now viewed through rose-coloured glasses as a bastion of liberalism.

In political terms, Bill Clinton’s still a reasonably young man. As head of the Clinton Global Initiative, he’s frequently seen at high-powered and high-profiled events around the world and in the United States. I can’t remember another President who’s been interviewed as much and as often, post-Administration, by everyone from David Gregory on Meet the Press to David Letterman, right down to Jon Stewart. In fact, Bill Maher is messing his knickers at the prospect of getting Clinton on his program for an interview.

Even the President has called upon Clinton for help in getting his message across, especially when turning a press conference over to him after effecting the infamous (for blinkered, disgruntled EmoProgs) Bush tax cuts compromise.

Don’t think for one minute, Barack Obama didn’t know exactly what he was doing and why when he had Clinton answer questions asked by a press which have been nothing less than openly disrespectful to the current President. Any viewer with nous could cast his mind back to the sort of questioning the President had received only weeks before in the wake of the 2010 Midterm shellacking, when fluffy sprites like Savannah Guthrie insouciantly asked the President point blank if he “just didn’t get it,” and compare that with the measured, respectful questioning Clinton received when he addressed the press corps.

Since then, it seems as if almost every move or utterance the President has made has been followed a few days later by someone ferreting out Clinton for a comment. The 42nd President has been tact incarnate in refusing to comment or criticize a Democratic successor, but in the wake of the increasingly infuriating Republican intransigence regarding the debt ceiling, some perspicacious hack tracked Clinton down recently simply to ask him what he would have done in this instance.

Clinton replied that he would have used the 14th Amendment option and dared the courts to challenge him.

The press and the EmoProgs went wild.

More and more, in various areas of the Left’s photosphere, amidst all the speculation and media-enhanced spin about the President’s latest betrayal of “caving,” I’m seeing EmoProgs whine and wail about the good old days under Clinton, and wondering now amidst all this sturm und drang “WWBCD” (“What would Bill Clinton do?”)

It’s all very well and good for Mr Forty-Two to say he’d invoke the 14th Amendment in this current crisis. He’s the equivalent of an armchair quarterback now, lobbing suggestions from the sidelines, along with everyone else, after the fact, when, actually, if he were faced with such a similar situation, he’d do what he did for six years between 1994 and 2000: try to effect some sort of compromise with the Opposition.

It’s simultaneously funny and sinister how the most strident voices on the Left now channel Clinton, reincarnated as a Progressive’s dream, whilst at the same time their increasingly hateful rhetoric brings to mind those people, all over the country, to whom the 39th President referred.

You have to wonder why the longing for Bill Clinton has established itself so firmly that these people, as ignorant of history as their Rightwing brethren (it would appear) think life would be a Progressive’s wet dream if Slick Willie were staring down the recalcitrant ignorati inhabiting the House on Capitol Hill.

This is Bill Clinton, who, in 1993, effected the largest cuts to Medicare in the history of the program, backed by a Democratic Congress. That’s right. Bill Clinton cut Medicare significantly, and there was nary a peep from the high-profiled Liberals about in the day - not from Ted Kennedy in the Senate, not from Bernie Sanders, who was in the House at the time.

This is Bill Clinton, who abandoned any pretext to discussing healthcare reform after the same Democratic Congress slapped down his attempt. It was 17 years before this subject was addressed again, and this time it passed, successfully, despite the attempts of such so-called powerful Progressive voices like Jane Hamsher, to railroad the legislation.

This is Bill Clinton , who when the same Democratic Congress demurred allowing gays to serve openly in the military, instituted the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell legislation, which the current President managed to get repealed.

This is Bill Clinton, whose was forced to compromise for six of the eight years he served as President, because in the 1994 Midterms, he not only lost the House, but also the Senate, and he had to deal with one Speaker Newt Gingrich, who - in and of his day - was just as uncompromising as the current crop of fools on the Hill. He compromised, and - sorry - but I didn’t hear any sort of objective rumblings from the likes of Joan Walsh, who was certainly palling around in the incipient cyber blogworld of the day. If there were grumblings, they were always directed at the Republicans pulling the strings.

This is Bill Clinton who signed off on NAFTA and repealed Glass Steagall and signed DOMA into law, and this is Bill Clinton, whose Cabinet officials and advisors included some of the current President’s most strident and vocal critics of the day, Robert Reich and James Carville.

This is Bill Clinton, or a mythologically progressive facsimile thereof, that scores of EmoProgs are channelling each day as the clock ticks down to Debt Ceiling Armageddon.

It’s so easy to make people from our past into historical giants to the point that the somehow begin to resemble the gods from Olympus. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson - all become some sort of purist role models of strength to be emulated, figures of such gigantic moral proportion that the current incumbent of the White House becomes almost prosaic in comparison. It says quite another thing about our historical perspective when certain of us project such onto contemporary high-profiled figures still with us, like President Clinton. And it becomes more than wishful thinking when someone with a bully pulpit like Chris Matthews forgets himself (again) and refers to President Clinton as the President, not once or twice, but regularly in a segment on his show.

Think again about President Carter’s words, and all the ugly rhetoric and language being directed at the President (that’s President Obama, thank you) by various and sundry voices from the Left, high-profiled media voices whose thoughts and opinions trickle down to the lesser mortals who are their sheeple.

Is this longing for a Clinton prototype just a longing for a President with a white face - you know, a President who’s more like the us most Progressives hanging about on blogsites are?

I supported Barack Obama’s candidacy from its beginning, and I’m a white, Southern woman. If you supported the centre-Left pragmatic realist that he was, good for you. If you supported a Progressive who was willing to die for single payer healthcare and ending all wars, you didn’t listen. Go to the back of the class and study more. If you supported Candidate Obama because you assumed a black man would be as radical as your Leftist Progressive values are, get real and get the designer sheets out of the closet. And if you supported Candidate Obama because you thought it would be cool to see a black man in the White House, grow up.

People like you are an embarrassment in that you give credence to literacy testing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Civil Disobedience and Its Consequences

When I was a junior in high school, in the middle of Richard Nixon’s first term, I took a course in civics. Back then, this was required of all high school students, usually taken in their junior or senior year. Our civics course was simply entitled “U S and Comparative Government” and was taught by a retired army officer. Col Marshall was an old JAG lawyer, a conservative, an atheist, and one of those singular teachers who encouraged, demanded that students think outside the proverbial box, or at least, pretend to do so.

As required reading for the course, he insisted that we read Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” (subtitled “Resistance to Civil Government.”) I’ve re-read this several times since then – quite often, the perspective of a sixteen year-old changes with age and life experiences. Like a lot of things, each time the piece is read, new ideas emerge – things, heretofore, I’d not considered.

Thoreau wrote the essay as a consequence, both of his objection to the Mexican-American War and to slavery. Going back and looking at this essay again, I’m positively astounded that the Tea Party hasn’t picked up Thoreau, instead of or along with Ayn Rand, as a particular hero.

Thoreau thought that the government of the day was corrupt. (Not much has changed then.) His premise was that whenever government asked a citizen to act in such a way that such an action impinged upon his moral reservations, then it was the citizen’s duty to disobey the request, by passive resistence. In Thoreau’s case, it was a matter of refusal to pay taxes. Taxes provided funds for the war, and taxes, for Thoreau, represented a citizen’s tacit approval of slavery, as, then, the institution was upheld by law.

So, in a nutshell, if one disapproved of a law, one broke, via passive resistance, to prove a point of conscience. Incumbent upon this action, was the fact that, as per usual, anyone who broke the law was usually punished, either by fiscal fine or by imprisonment. Thoreau welcomed that. Any sort of punishment meted the offender by the government should be worn, figuratively, as a badge of honour and a means of proving the point that the law, in and of itself, was unjust and wrong.

Put succinctly: Commit the crime and you do the time.

What was unique about the way in which I was taught about the principle of civil disobedience, as a high school student, was how the teacher drew in contemporary and near-contemporary examples of this – from conscientious objectors in the first two World Wars, to Gandhi, right down to Martin Luther King, whose use of Thoreau’s principle was something we’d all seen enacted on our television screens and actually remembered. Years later, when I had occasion to read more about Gandhi and to see the Academy Award-winning film of his life, I remember being struck by the number of times both he, Martin Luther King and their followers were beaten and imprisoned by officials of their respective governments and how they accepted their fates with dignity and aplomb.

Recently, we seem to have a spate of people bucking against what they consider to be unjust laws imposed by a corrupt government on its citizenry, in the name of civil disobedience – but with a difference. Each time these perpetrators are arrested or apprehended by officials of the government, this action is met with great wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garmentry by their supporters and incessant calls for signatures on various petitions against the government investigating and prosecuting the people who’ve infringed these laws. If they’re charged and imprisoned, there are demands for their immediate release, many times from the culprits, themselves.

That’s not civil disobedience. That’s cowardice.

When Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King placed their hand in the fire that was an unjust law, they expected to get burned. That was the entire point of their willful disobedience. They knew the consequences. Their actions and the subsequent reactions ensuing proved a point; and although it may have taken years, these men’s protests were ultimately proven to have achieved what their perpetrators intended.

A year ago, Richard Clarke, in an appearance on Bill Maher’s Real Time, declared that illegal cyber activity – otherwise known as hacking – was the new terrorism. Cyberwars. Recently, the Justice Department has identified cyberterrorism as one of their main objectives and warned that anyone suspected, arrested and tried for this crime will meet the full force of the law.

I recognise that the former co-founder of PCCC, who is, ironically, an ethics fellow at Harvard, may have been exercising thoroughly Thoreauvian civil disobedience in his hacking of MIT’s computer systems in an effort, illegally, to download the entire contents of MIT’s JSTOR service, to prove a point. But if he did this and broke the law, then he should also face up to the fact that he’d going to be prosecuted and accept his fate.

So should his legion of supporters, some of whom, themselves, are professional authors and historians, and should, therefore, view this in context.

Otherwise, they’re deceiving themselves and those of us who read and trust their own works. .

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nabucco - Hebrew Slaves Chorus

To hear this sung in the distance in Italy on a summer's evening is bliss.

Of Cabbages and Kings: It's Not That Obama's Naive; It's Just That the President Isn't White

(Sigh) I hate to bring race into this equation. I hate even approximating a race war, but the time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings, thus saith Lewis Carroll.

Race has always been a part of the 44th Presidency. It couldn't help but be. After all, Barack Obama is the first African American to be elected President. John Kennedy was the first Catholic elected to that position. People spoke about how Kennedy's devotion to Rome would impact upon his legislative agenda, but that only covered his religion. Race, like the poor, is always with society, and it stands to reason that this President's race, whilst it certainly shouldn't impact upon his ability to govern, is clearly a problem, overtly and covertly, with various and sundry citizens of the United States, Right and Left.

I know I'm opening a can of worms, and a lot of sites where I'd hope to post this will explode in all kinds of cockroaches crawling from the woodwork in order to gnaw at the ideas expressed herein, but - hey - better to be called a cockroach than "the dumbest motherfuckers," which I gather a noted sage in the Progressive community reckons anyone who supports the President is.

Let's see, one high-profile voice in the blogosphere who passes himself off as a Progressive, but who is really a Koch-funded, Citizens United-supporting, child labour-loving, Gary Johnson Libertarian, refers to supporters of the President as "Obamalovers," in what he reckons to be a cute and clever rendition of the old Dixiecrat pejorative of "n*ggerlovers."

A second neurotic doyenne of the Professional Left blatantly declares any vociferous supporter of the President to be a paid Breitbart troll whose sole purpose in life is to undermine the Presidency of Barack Obama. Go figure that one, especially since this same pundit went on record to say she resented African Americans even thinking that they constituted the President's base.

To say that race matters, regarding matters to the Right of the political spectrum, is an understatement. Who doesn't remember many of the people showing up for Sarah Palin's campaign rallies in 2008, with their stuffed monkeys called "Little Hussain," the elderly woman challenging McCain with her misguided fact that Candidate Obama was an Arab, the shouts and jeers, even to one man shrieking out that Obama must be killed during a Palin pow-wow. Then there was the Tea Party and their various depictions of the President as a socialist, a communist or anything frighteningly evile, but always depicted as an African chieftan or, again, a apelike creature. And let's not get started on the Birthers.

I know all about Republican delegitimisation of the Democrats, particularly Democratic Presidents. That's been the order of the day, presidentially, since Clinton was elected in 1992; and, yes, Clinton was particularly demonised in a way, heretofore, no Democratic President had been. That, I will admit.

Real demonisation of the Left by the Right began some 40 years ago, and was actually, unwittingly aided and abetted by the Democrats, themselves - or at least the New Age Democratic Party fronted by Gary Hart and co. The Republicans excoriated the liberal Democratic tendancy left over from Johnson's Great Society of the Sixties, and the New Dems responded by eschewing any reference to liberals or liberalism. From thence forward, they referred to themselves as "Progressives," and forwent any association with what they perceived to be the failed liberalism of a herd-follower like Hubert Humphrey.

Humphrey supported the Viet Nam war, and so the New Dems affected an anti-war stance on all fronts, which made it easy for the Republicans to big up the myth about the Democratic party being weak on defence and unpatriotic. Why, as the Republicans pointed out, a great many of the so-called New Democrats, were scrubbed up hippies from the Flower Movement. And the Democrats obliged there and now. Whenever someone attacks the Left, a favourite saying amongst the Professional Left pundits is that said person is "punching a hippy," when many of these people talking like this are too young even to understand what a real hippy was, and those who are, are ex-Republicans, themselves.

A lot of these so-called Professional Left pundits have been making hay while the sun shines for the past three years, criticizing everything this President says and does. They've done it so much and for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking that they actually hate the man, and you have to ask why.

Well, I've bought just about as much of their rationale, pushed at them via talking points engendered by those well-established guardians of the Left like Arianna Huffington, who taught the dittoes to recite that Obama was a Wall Street tool, that he was a corporate whore, that he "just wasn't that into" the Middle Class, that he was a Nowhere Man. I've had just about enough of their gloating when another well-established hero of the Left, Cenk Uygur, goes of an a high-handed screed, boasting about what he would tell this President to do. I'm fed up with that wannabe Alpha Male, Bill Maher, emerging from his hiding place behind the comedian's mask to tell us how weak the President is, how bad a negotiator he is, how he has no spine, how he constantly caves to the Republicans, especially on tax cuts to the rich, when the high-minded Bill Maher, himself, cheats the State of California out of millions of dollars in property tax annually with a phoney charity registered as the owner of his properties. And I'm tired of the assumption voiced in Joan Walsh's latest blog and wittered and twittered about by various and sundry scribes from the Progressive Left: the President, especially in these debt ceiling negotiations, is naive.

And, really, naivete has been the contents of the envelope pushed by the ueber Left since the beginning of this Administration. The President is naive about wanting bipartisan cooperation for legislation. He's naive to want the Republicans to like him. He's naive about Afghanistan, about Healthcare reform, about job creation, about the economy, about just about anything, simply because there are just oh-so-many experienced pundits on the Left who could just do things so differently if he'd only listen to them.

What's frightening about that is the sheer number of those scions of the Left who, until the past decade, were card-carrying neocon Republicans.

Is there a whiff of ratfuckery about the place all of a sudden?

This naivete motif, I'm sorry to say, plays in very nicely with an image many of the Professional Left retain regarding African Americans, especially those in positions of power. It's basically an "Affirmative Action" mentality toward them: they've achieved what they've achieved, thanks to Progressives' efforts, so now they'd do well to listen to the advice these people have to impart to their protoges. They need help, and the ueber Left is there to give it. They're there to tell - er, advise - the President what to do.

It's just a typically and badly hidden genre of patronising racism, but it's racism, all the same. And their frustrated, because the President, intelligent Negro that he is, simply won't do as they say - because if he did, you know, things would just be that much better. Ne'mind, he'd probably have to bypass the Senate and people like Ben Nelson and Joe Manchin; ne'mind, that he'd have to pretend the Republican House didn't exist, although it does - thanks, in a great part to all those Progressives who sat out the vote in a sulk in 2010. Hell, he can just rule as a dictator. After all, isn't that what Bush did? Well, as one Progressive noted this week, Obama's nothing but a black Bush, anyway.

Sometimes, the Left suffers from a psychological wardrobe dysfunction.

But it seems as if the President is too much the recalcitrant Negro for some on the Left, it seems he's not Negro enough for other big mouths who manage to say nothing. After all, earlier this spring, no less than Cornel West excoriated the President for, amongst other things, daring to have a white mother, be educated in primarily white institutions and feel at home amongst educated, white, Jewish men. This coming from a man whose parents were educated professionals, who grew up in a predominately white community, and who has spent all his adult life amongst the leafy, white academic suburbs of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Princeton, New Jersey.

But at long last, it would seem that people in the political and pundit world are beginning, if they haven't realised it beforehand, to, at least, find the courage to allude to the racism which belies the treatment meted this President, by both the media and the public in general.

Note Rep Sheila Jackson Lee's pointed comment, aimed at House Republicans, about the real reason so many difficulties are being dreamed up about the passage of this year's debt ceiliing increase:-

And just to be fair and balanced, we've had Lawrence O'Donnell give a masteclass on The Last Word this past week about What The President Is Really Trying to Do 101, for all those who subscribe to having the President's words and intentions inadequately interpreted for you by no less than Adam Green of Bold Progressives, who, for the modest price of five dollars a shot requested contribution, will ensure that you stay in an appropriate state of fear at the next betrayal the perfidious President is about to enact against his natural supporters. Not that any of these people either listened to O'Donnell or paid heed to what he said, if they did; but Thursday night's segment was particularly brilliant, in view of the scare-mongering Green is propagating regarding the sort of cuts to Medicare he envisages Obama making only in his scammy, little mind.

Watch the segment, for yourself, especially the bit beginning around the seven-minute mark:-

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That's right, in 1993, when Lawrence O'Donnell was an aide to the Senate Finance Committee, no less than Bill Clinton, pushed through the biggest cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the history of the programs' existence ... with the complete and utter support of both a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House. No single liberal opposed these cuts. Not Ted Kennedy who was then in the Senate. Not Bernie Sanders, who was then a Congressman from Vermont. This was Bill Clinton Pre-Triangulation, before Newt got control of the Hill. This was Bill Clinton in liberal mode.

As O'Donnell asks rhetorically, where were all the voices shouting betrayal then? Instead, now, we don't even get a definite word from the President about any sort of cuts to Medicare; instead we get a deliberately concocted and misleading headline by Sam Stein, arguably the laziest and most inept reporter covering anything Presidential, and all hell breaks loose - so much so, that when the President states categorically that wealthier people should pay more into their Medicare program and the ueber Left erupts, they're opposing exactly what they berated the President for not doing in November: raising taxes on the wealthier elements of society.

And, of course, the unspoken question of why people are doing this from the Left to the President, is left, appropriately, dangling, by O'Donnell.

I am not alone in thinking that this is the first time in my life when I've seen a President so derided by both sides of the political equation. Not even Nixon, who was revealed to be crooked and dishonest, was so reviled. And whilst Clinton was certainly delegitimised in the worst way, first for supposed criminal activity, and subsequently for a sexual peccadillo, this was done entirely by his political opponents in the Republican Party.

Delegitimising a Democratic President is par for the course for the Republican Party, even the lunatic asylum which is masquerading as such right now; but unrelenting criticism of a President by those on his side of the spectrum is not only stupid, it's divisive as hell, and projects the party as being weak and as much out of control as the Teabaggers on the Right.

The latest fly in the ointment with which the Progressives hope to smear the President came in the leak about Elizabeth Warren not getting promoted as head of the newly-formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Late last night on Twitter, that noted political pundit Katrina vanden Heuvel, child of privilege who pays lip service to the poor and who's fashioned a career for herself as a political sage without any iota of political experience or acumen, was working herself into a lather trying to find someone who knew "something" (presumably, something bad) about the man rumoured to be the President's choice - like, was he a Wall Street or an international banking tool?

Of course, this is the same Katrina vanden Heuvel, who last year predicted that Nick Clegg would emerge triumphant from the British General Election as Prime Minister, because he'd been an intern on The Nation. (Nick Clegg is now the vilified as the most odious political opportunist in Britain and a true betrayer of his party). And this was the same Katrina vanden Heuvel who trolled the lengths and breadths of MSNBC during the campaign of 2000, telling all and sundry that a vote for Al Gore was a vote for George Bush, and real Progressives wanted Ralph Nader to succeed.

That theory all worked out so well, didn't it?

And of course, that was the same Ralph Nader, who, on election day 2008 and several times publically thereafter, has taken perverse pleasure in referring to the 44th President of the United States as a "Tom."

Racist, much?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Progressive Pundits Punching Down: KO KO's Disabled Lady

The more I see and hear of the thin-skinned, cherry-picking, rumour-mongering rich kids and faux bourgeoisie who inhabit the political tranche of the Fourth Estate in America these days, the more I begin to worship at the altar of the BBC, which is troubling for me.

If public figures are going to increasingly put themselves within cyber arm’s reach of the public they purport to serve, people whose reading or viewing habits effectively pay these icons’ over-inflated salaries, then said talking heads need to learn the art of civil debate and how to accept disagreement gracefully and listen to another point of view, especially if that point of view has something valid to contribute to the discussion.

Last night on Twitter, Keith Olbermann got into a one-sided slanging match with a former fan, whose handle was “stormymalone.”

“Stormy” politely objected to the content of Olbermann’s latest “Special Comment,” based entirely on the rumour-mongering of arguably the laziest so-called journalist ever to cover the White House beat, Sam Stein. Stein is a suckling of Arianna Huffington, who’s being guided by arch-hack Howard Fineman in the art of shady, anonymous sources who always purport to know the way the object of their hatchetry thinks.

Olbermann based his comment on Stein’s rumour-mongering that maybe the President was angling to raise the age limit on Medicare to 67. The content of Olbermann’s latest “schooling of the President” (because that’s what these effete, white, affluent and privately-educated Progressives have to do to a black President, dontcha know?) was to remind him that liberals care about the poor, the indigent, the weak, the elderly and the disabled – implying that the President doesn’t. Olbermann also issued a less-than-veiled threat not to vote for Obama in 2012, if he even thought about cutting either Social Security or Medicare – which is rich, since Olbermann has never voted. The only assumption to be gleaned from that piece of overt hostage-taking is a nudge-nudge-wink-wink implication that, although Keith doesn’t vote, his threat is implicitly a clarion call for his sheeple to sulk out the vote in 2012.

And that would work out so well for all of us, wouldn’t it? Sulk out the vote for hissy fit then let the sort of roosters in the henhouse that will do real and lasting damage. Kinda like cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face, isn’t it?

Anyway, “stormymalone” twittered her point, politely, to Olbermann:-

@keitholbermann Disenchanted w/ special comment tonight. Silly. Lots more liberal dems want Obama than don’t. Good night & good luck #sadabout 7 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone


@keitholbermann The world didn’t end when SS age was raised from 65. So when I’m 66+ it will be there. I still plan to work to 70 at least. about 7 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone


@keitholbermann Slams President for raising Medicare age from 65 to 67 yet 50% of youngish kids now will be 100+ yrs. That’s progress.

And Keith’s reply?

@StormyMalone in short, you’re fine, so screw everybody else. Hate to break it to you: you are not a liberal @StormyMalone Jesus, you really are nuts

Nice, eh? Not.

I know Twitter only allows for a 140-character response, but this doesn’t even denote actual character within the specified limit. This is the response of a creep, an overgrown adolescent who isn’t receiving the adulation and compliments on his cleverness he feels are his just reward and so he belittles his critic. She’s not even a critic, she’s a fan who watches his show and who happens to disagree with his point of view. Within the specified limit, “stormymalone” managed to get her point across succinctly, concisely and politely; and for that, she receives snark, ad hominem and invective from a high-profiled public figure.

Olbermann’s not the only one to treat his public thus. Joan Walsh famously tells anyone with a differing viewpoint that they’re “mental,” that they “need help” and that it “sucks to be you.” The celebrity talking heads issuing these verbal sideswipes aren’t recalcitrant adolescents, they’re a fiftysomething man and woman, multimillionaires who are fortunate enough to be given a public pulpit from which to expound on the frustrating weaknesses which they perceive this singular President to possess. Never mind that neither Olbermann nor Walsh has ever had any real connect professionally with government, elected officials or the manner in which politics functions in this country. Never mind, that one doesn’t vote and has never been able to commit himself enough to vote (albeit, he can seek to influence others’ votes). Never mind, the other is an unreconstructed PUMA who has difficulty accepting a black man at the helm as much as the other does as well.

Never mind that these people mouth platitudes regarding the poor, the working class, the Middle Class, the indigent, the troops, the disabled, the immigrants and cuddly animals. These are people who write cheques from the sanctity of their minimalist living rooms, for the benefit of the needy or the disabled, and the only working class people they know are the ones to whom they pay minimum wage to clean their less-than-fragrant bogs.

They are liberal voices, dammit, and their point of view is the accepted one! The populace will obey!

Well, it turns out that the omniscient Mr Olbermann, who reckoned that “stormymalone” was just some selfish shit out to score some late night points against a big name on Twitter – you know, some pleb who needed taking down – was actually responding to someone who had a very real and very vested interest in any changes to come in Social Security and Medicare.

“Stormymalone” is, in fact, an elderly disabled woman, a Democrat in red Indiana, a constituent of Mitch Daniels, who plans to work until she’s 70, if she’s able. The real time benefit of the twittersphere is that it enable you to watch so-called icons reveal their rancid feet of clay, but at the same time, it’s sad in that you get to see so many ordinary people’s expectations of these people vanish into the smoke and mirrors behind which their idols hide.

“Stormymalone’s” palpably disappointed reply to Keith’s snark:-

@KeithOlbermann That was a bit harsh, no? I’m on disability and still work like crazy even though I feel like crap. Not noble, just real. about 7 hours ago via Twitter for iPhonein reply to KeithOlbermann


@KeithOlbermann Seriously, I can understand the error because you are so much younger than I and I only know because I had to decide this yr about 7 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to KeithOlbermann


@KeithOlbermann You mean for SS? My birthday is 2/28/45 and my SS age is 66 which I just reached in Feb. about 7 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to KeithOlbermann


Seems Professional Left can’t reconcile they voted in 2008 for POTUS Obama and not Dictator Obama. Move to Cuba, guys. No need to write… about 7 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone


And further:-

@BlueTrooth @keitholbermann pontificated to me in a tweet saying I’m not a liberal. 100% Pro choice, pro gov, pro Obama. Guess I’m an R! about 7 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to BlueTrooth

Here is Olbermann, perched high and alone in his ivory tower someplace in the oh-so-fashionable upper West Side of New York City, issuing threats to a President he’s already branded a “quisling” and a “Nazi appeaser”, bullying out a woman who was born in 1945, someone who is disabled and who is still working and making her own contribution to society and who plans on working until she’s 70. She’s someone who’s been there, done that, read the book, seen the movie and bought the teeshirt. KO’s salary in one week is probably more than she’d see in a year, and he treats this person as if she’s something he scrapes off the bottom of his shoe.

You know, living in Britain, we’ve all been transfixed here at the rate the media of Rupert Murdoch has come tumbling down to the ground, several year after the BBC, itself, was found to be – in certain respects - less than clean. Watching antics like this, from people who are supposed to be professional, only reinforces my view that the United States has become a oligarchy where the minds of willfully lazy and intellectually bereft people, both on the Right and on the Left, allow themselves to be led by the short and curlies into a welter of deliberate misinformation, by a media with its own sinister agenda.

So much is levelled on this President that people believe he has to do everything - execute, legislate, adjudicate. Even the Congress, both houses, act like the ubiquitous spoiled brat, stamping their feet and insisting that Daddy pay attention, that Daddy take an interest; and when Daddy does, they sulk some more, because in paying attention, Daddy has to remind the rest that they’re nothing but a gaggle of snivelling crybabies, looking after their own corporate preserve.

And so the media propagate the myth of the Magic Negro, if only to show that there is no such thing, and they unwittingly collude with the Dark Side conservatives, the arch-Rightwing activists, they purport to hate so much. They enable them, and by urging their sheeple to withold the vote for a Democratic President who’s achieved more legislatively than any Democratic incumbent in the past 50 years, they play an enormous part in taking this country back to the cultural dark ages.

But that’s OK, as long as Keith or Joan or Katrina or Ed still get their airtime and their points across. That’s OK, as long as there are people out there who’ll repeat their talking points and defend any criticism of Keith or Joan or Katrina or Ed as if they were deeply personal friends or family members, taking any disagreement as a personal insult. In the world of their warped loyalties, Barack Obama is the traitor, and these designer-clad, misanthropic twitterphiles are the only thing standing between us and any Armageddon they’d have us believe our President would inflict upon us.

That’s OK, because “stormymalone” inadvertantly revealed Keith to be the proverbial disrobed Emperor. These sadsacks want to be loved, adored and accepted; and any criticism of the viewpoint they’re trying to push regarding this devilish, uppity black President, means we like the black buy best, or as “stormymalone” opines, sadly cognizant:-

@JesusOfSuburia Wonder if Obama blocks people who disagree with him? KO will block me too. Our sin? We love Obama more than Keith.

And in the words of a real newsman and journalist, folks, that’s the way it is.