Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bought and Paid For

I have been rather hard on the press because of their seemingly passive role in the lead up to and the conduct of the Iraq war. I never had any independent confirmation of the fact that the press basically rolled over for the Bush administration until now. Jessica Yellin on CNN admitted that her bosses at MSNBC told her how she should cover the war. Here are some of her comments:
"I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings. And my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president...they wouldn’t say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes. That was my experience."
I am very sure that her experience was not unique. I have said this before but when the press is no longer free to present their own views, then we no longer have a free press.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The One and Only

The Clinton campaign and their supporters are now doing something that they accuse the Obama supporters of doing. They have "drank the kool-Aid" and are now willing to argue points that are completely without merit. From Hillary and Bill to the campaign staff to the Clinton supporters on the web, they are now willing to argue that not only do the rules simply do not apply to them, but that anything that does not favor their argument is some illegitimate.

In any contest, a set of rules are agreed to before the contest begins. If this were not the case, chaos would ensue. Before this campaign for the nomination began, each candidate (including Hillary Clinton) agreed that the Michigan and Florida primaries would not count because they had defied the DNC and moved their election dates. Harold Ickes, one of Clintons closest advisers was on the committee that approved the rules. Senator Clinton herself made statements in which she agreed that the votes in those states didn't count for anything. Therefore the number of delegates required to win the nomination was 2,024 (that number has since been increased because of the Democratic gains in the special Congressional elections). However, now that Senator Obama has that number well within his grasp, the Clinton campaign is arguing that the number to secure the nomination must include the delegates from Florida and Michigan. Is it just me, or is that an absolutely ridiculous point?

The fact that Hillary Clinton is now claiming that her fight to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates is somehow akin to the fight for women's suffrage or the battle for civil rights is absolutely preposterous. I can guarantee, without reservation, that if the positions were reversed, that Senator Clinton would not be "fighting" to have those delegates recognized. This is purely a politics play. The problem with this, outside of the obvious, is that it is attempting to de-legitimize the Obama victory. The Clinton supporters have somehow decided that this not only the DNC's fault, but also Obama's (as if he were part of the DNC rules committee). If this were about fairness then you would think that even Clinton's supporters could not argue that the Michigan result should stand as it is. Senator Clinton was the only candidate on the ballot and unless we have somehow been transferred to the old Soviet Union, that is not how a Democracy is run.

The next argument that the Clinton camp has put forward is that they are winning the popular vote and therefore have some claim to the nomination. Let's forget the fact that their total includes the illegitimate votes in Florida and Michigan (where Obama's name wasn't even on the the ballot) and revisit the words of the Clinton Campaign's chief advisor, Terry McAuliffe. After Hillary Clinton's loss in Iowa, he was quick to remind everyone that the race was about delegates and since Hillary had a solid lead in that category (at that point provided by the super delegates), the race was not about the popular vote. Now, the campaign is espousing the exact opposite viewpoint. First of all the popular vote is an inexact measure, because of the lack of votes counted in the caucus states. Secondly, if at the beginning of a baseball game, everyone agrees that it is the winner is the team with the most runs and then in the ninth inning tries to argue that it's the team with the most hits that actually wins, I think everyone would have to agree that their argument doesn't hold any water.

The Clinton camp makes another ridiculous argument by pointing out that her recent landslide victories in West Virginia and Kentucky are somehow indicative of Obama losing support as the race continues. This argument, of course, treats his victory in Oregon (with has less than a 5% African-American vote) as somehow less important because they say so. The elections have broken pretty much to form since Super Tuesday. I would bet that there is not one pundit worth his or her salt, who could not have predicted the outcome of every race since Super Tuesday. Hell, I did it and I'm pretty sure that I have spent a lot less time on the campaign than those on the Clinton staff. To base an argument on the variances in the primary schedule is just silly. Obama won Virgina and Maryland (200 total delegates) by overwhelming margins and he even won the White vote in Wisconsin. Did that mean that Hillary Clinton had a "problem" with Whites or did it just mean that those states were predisposed to vote for Obama? I would argue, and I think successfully, that the answer is the latter.

The Clinton camp has now become what it always accused the Obama campaign of being. They have been reduced to making emotional arguments as opposed to rational ones. I have always said that Senator Clinton has the right to continue her campaign for as long as she'd like. I don't believe that the length of the campaign itself has done any damage to the Democratic party. However, when the argument for your campaign no longer deals with the rational but with the emotional, it does start to do some damage to the party. Some of Clinton's supporters have now bought the argument that the Obama victory is not legitimate and regardless of what Hillary Clinton says at the end of the campaign, their emotional commitment is now too deep to allow them to see reason. For them, this campaign is no longer about beating the Republicans in November, the campaign and their involvement has become a personal battle about one thing and one thing only, making sure Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee of the Democratic party regardless of the cost.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Take me to your cheerleader.

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory the Vatican's “Chief Astronomer” (-but wait, that’s not the funny part) declared that belief in alien life does not contradict a faith in God in an interview just over a week ago on Tuesday May 13, 2008 in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
Are you laughing yet?
The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, was quoted as saying “the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.”

Where to begin on this? We here at Random Thoughts have been on a mostly political jag lately, what with the Democratic nomination process still ongoing, and the latest revelations about the Bush Administration’s crimes against the people and our system of government. I’m feeling profoundly exhausted, and even a little helpless as we are entering what I fear will be a transition into a “W Bush” third term with John McCain at the helm. But sometimes, the news of a particular hypocrisy or insanity (read this excellent piece on what I like to call Pat Buchanan’s “Nigga, you better thank whitey address” right here) is so stunning in its ridiculousness, that we feel moved to write about it. Which brings me to what I see as the Vatican’s latest reform...

According to this interview with this high ranking Jesuit, belief in aliens is okay, but as far as we know belief in the inalienable rights of Gays and Lesbians to be… well Gays and Lesbians, is still blasphemy. How do you leap frog to recognizing the possibility of the existence of alien life, while maintaining the prehistoric insistence that earthbound Gays and Lesbians are going to Hell?

I’m sure there will be the usual “irrationalizations” made by the American Catholic establishment. Homosexuality, although not a big enough deal breaker to have been included in the Ten Commandments, is a sin; whereas recognizing Alien life, is simply a further elaboration of pro-life principles it would seem. I mean everybody loves E.T. right? But Harvey Fierstein, while cuddly, isn’t really looking for our approval. Hats off to him.
I, like many of you, appreciate the contributions of the Catholic Church and its many great writers and thinkers across centuries. Thomas Aquinas is one of many, many shining examples whose influence is felt across cultures. I also have found, only until adult life sadly, a profound solace at times of personal loss, in the ceremony of funeral as a last good bye to family and friends who have passed on. The Catholic Sacraments are pretty hard to beat as far as marking and celebrating life’s various stages. But looking at the Roman Catholic Church’s legacy across history, those comforts and goodwill are overshadowed by: the decades-long attempts at cover-ups of institutionalized pederasty in the United States; its conspicuous silence during the mid century holocaust in Europe; its tacit and overt endorsement of slavery in the “new world”; its support of the Spanish Inquisition; its persecution of scientists; its funding of the crusades, and the Vatican’s love of money and political influence over its own philosophical principals.
There are those of us in America who would rather forget all of these things, and instead focus on the role that the Vatican and its Roman Catholic Church played in managing fragile human societies in disastrously dangerous time periods in Europe’s history by: attempting to curb sexually transmitted diseases by promoting monogamy, discouraging suicide, and generally enforcing common law with the fear of a pain-filled afterlife. All noble things considering that humankind as a species was up against famine, the black plague, syphilis, cholera and general internecine stupidity. We need to reexamine why it is that certain rules for living were generated by our churches, temples and mosques throughout history and what, if any, relevance they have for our world now.

Once upon a time, in some town in central Europe, let’s say in the 1200s, where the infant mortality rate may have been as high as I in 2, a Gay or Lesbian person may have looked like a serious threat to the population’s future. You simply could not afford to not have people forming families and not fucking like mad to produce children or the town could conceivably die in a generation’s time (back then about 25 years or less). So the Church stepped in to scare people into contributing to the population, and I mean really scaring people, like burning some poor motherfucker at the stake, and if some sensible person asked why his pal was burned at the stake, set him up next. The etymology of the word “faggot” can be traced to these periods in history.

Cigarettes are still called “fags” today in the U.K., as are boys of all ages, before they get beat to death in the U.S.

Why do some of these rules stick then? Jews and Muslims are still instructed to avoid pork. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say God would never, ever, ever outlaw the consumption of such a delicious animal, it gives us the ham sandwich, the bacon sandwich and the pork sandwich, oh, and don’t forget the ham sandwich. Then again, the bible says God wouldn’t let Adam eat an apple or he’d kick him and his girlfriend off his land. This then must be a case of temples and mosques stepping in to stop the eating of pork chops probably due to some disease long ago eradicated by refrigeration or medicine. So why can’t my Muslim and Jewish friends come over for pork chops? (Well one of them would; I won’t out him) The answer is a simple confusion between the notion of tradition or values and simple force of habit. The Exclusion, abusing and killing of Homosexuals is contextualized as a tradition and part of a set of values by many religions.
It’s in fact, just an old habit that got put in print.

Who's to blame? As Alan Moore ’s fictional terrorist V said long ago in some always near, but never actual future: “certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.”

And so as the cause is you and me, the answer is also you and me.

The Catholic Church now recognizes the right of its constituents to believe in alien life, and presumably the right of those alien life forms to exist. This is reform, but it is comical reform, as when the Church attempted to explain the paradox of how Moses, an un-baptized prophet and a Jew, would avoid the fires of hell.

We have too many Gays and Lesbians who are our friends, mentors, teachers, co workers and yes… family to have them excluded from any facet of our lives… and yet we do. We let so much shit slide in our lives. The question before us then is this: Can this be the century where there are no doors closed, to anyone? I’m not talking about frowning convincingly when someone tells an off color joke (read: “political correctness”), or going to see a movie about gay cowboys and being moved to tears (read: “being full of shit”). I’m talking about standing with someone when they are being treated as less than human. I live in New York City, the same New York City that is considered so liberal and tolerant as to be worlds away from the rest of the country and I still see this shit happen everyday. I’ve even done it myself.

It’s up to you and me and everyone we know. The Church and other religious and political institutions can draw whatever imaginary lines they want between us. No one can stop us from standing together and going about our lives, -if that’s the kind of world we want…

…or we can just wait for our alien neighbors to come down and ask why we have all these silly people in big crazy hats giving us orders from old, outdated textbooks.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

King George, The Madness of

This article is entitled, "The rebirth of the Imperial Presidency or how to run an administration by employing the Hermann Goering approved tactics of lies, fear and intimidation".

The Republican party is supposed to be the inheritors of the legacy of the Anti-Federalists (I speak of the Anti-Federalism of Jefferson and not the various groups that opposed the Constitution on various grounds and came to be know collectively as anti-federalist). Meaning that they favor small government, states rights, low or no taxes and strict interpretation of the Constitution (Religion was not a part of the equation in those days as there are some who would argue that Jefferson himself was an atheist). Under the original purpose of what became the original opposition party (the Democratic-Republican party), was to oppose the over broad (in their minds) policies of Alexander Hamilton who was the first Treasury Secretary under George Washington. However when Jefferson became President he took full advantage of his "executive" powers when he negotiated and completed the Louisiana Purchase. There is nothing in the Constitution which grants the President the power to take such an action, but despite being a strict constructionist, he felt that it was in the best interest of the country to proceed with the purchase none the less. This is a very simplified version of the events that took place and the positions that were taken, but I think it actually serves as the first example of a the Imperial Presidency in action (Imperial Presidency meaning extending the powers of the office beyond those that are defined in the Constitution).

I won't bore you with all the examples during history but a couple of highlights include Lincoln suspending Habeus Corpus during the Civil War (which he had the right to do under the Constitution, but was supposed to wait for approval from the Congress before taking the action) and FDR threatening to pack the Supreme Court in order to get his New Deal legislation approved. All of these actions from the Louisiana Purchase through FDR are looked upon favorably by history because they all proved to be beneficial to the country. However, the extraordinary use of Presidential power can also lead to extraordinary abuses as well. In theory, the Congress of the United States has oversight of the Executive branch. The President is immune from lawsuits and prosecution while in office, but he is not immune to review and removal by the Congress. The President can be impeached for treason or high crimes or misdemeanors as defined by the Congress at the time to the incident.

There have only been two impeachment trials in the history of the United States (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) and neither ended in the President being removed from office. In fact the most famous Impeachment actually never took place. Richard Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee had approved the articles of Impeachment, but those articles were never voted on by the House of Representatives. Nixon, who was pardoned by his replacement, engaged in any number of illegal acts while in the White House. These acts are minor compared to the previous invocation of the Imperial Presidency. Wiretapping, burglary, illegal campaign contributions, bribery and obstruction of justice seem fairly minor when compared to the acquisition of fully 1/3 of the land mass of the entire country. However, Nixon felt that as the President, he was above the Law. And while not as lofty a use of the Imperial Presidency, assuming that the laws of the country do not apply to you, certainly counts as trying to use the office in that manner.

The current administration has seen a return to the glory days of the Imperial Presidency (along with a healthy dose of the Nixon brand paranoia thrown in for good measure). The basic tenants of the Republican party's Anti-Federalist roots are now just given lip service (although the low taxes are still a major talking point). Smaller government (what a joke), states rights (yeah right), strict interpretation of the Constitution (as long as that interpretation means that affirmative action and abortion are limited or eliminated), are no longer goals of the administration. This administration has engaged in a systematic process of propaganda in order to further their agenda that would have made Goebbels blush. In an excellent article by my co-contributor on this blog, he recounts a conversation by Göring (the head of Hitler's Luftwaffe) in which he laid out the process by which any nation (including a supposedly Democratic one) can be led to war:

"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

This administration realized that easiest way to bring about an Imperial Presidency was to find or create a common enemy, rally the public to action through lies, eliminate dissension through intimidation and then maintain public support through fear. And amazingly it has worked. The President has practically limitless power and the people have (willingly, I might add) handed over all their rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

This administration has authorized the use of torture (the President has even had his legal staff write papers that rationalize the use of the torture against American citizens), engaged in massive campaign of propaganda in support of an unwarranted military action, hired and fired people based not on merit but on party allegiance, funneled untold billions of taxpayers money to their friends and allowed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals to die BECAUSE THEY COULD. It only took about 230 years, but the United States has managed to put King George back in power. If Jefferson were around today he would be aghast at what is being done in the name of his party. Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus in order to save the Union, George Bush did it in order to save his ass. Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR are probably spinning in their graves (Nixon too, probably because he wishes that he would have thought of it himself) over the current state of the Bill of Rights brought about by this administration. They simply would not believe that the precedents that they set would lead to the current state of affairs.

Yesterday, King George showed that he does have some heart however. He is after all a "compassionate conservative". When asked about why he doesn't play golf anymore, he said that it just didn't seem like the right thing to do. He didn't want the mothers and relatives of dead soldiers to see him playing golf. Wow, That is quite a gesture from a monarch (of course he is too incompetent to rule alone so while he is the figurehead, we are clearly under the rule of an Oligarchy). American citizens lose their fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and friends and the President, who would be King, gives up his golf game. That sounds like a fair trade to NO ONE. But then monarchs don't have to justify themselves to their subjects, do they. He might as well have said, let them eat cake.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tunnel Vision

Perspective at this point in the campaign seems as hard to come by as momentum. All sides in the current Democratic contest seem to have lost all perspective. I'm not necessarily talking about the campaigns themselves, because I'm pretty sure that they are aware of the realities of the situation, but the supporters of the candidates and the Press seem to lack a big picture view.

Today's primary in West Virginia will have little effect on the overall race for the Democratic nomination. Senator Clinton will win by something in the 34-40% range. It will probably net her about 10 delegates and upwards of 100,000 votes. Those are the facts. Now the press will once again bring up the point about Obama and his inability to attract white working class voters (West Virginia being the whitest and working classiest of all the states in the union). I would make the point that West Virginia and next week Kentucky represent states which are openly hostile to Barack Obama and that they should not be used to project any trend toward the rest of the country. If the "trend" in West Virginia were actually a trend, then Hillary Clinton would have wrapped up the nomination a long time ago. But Barack Obama victories in Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, Minnesota, Wyoming, Kansas, etc. were certainly not built on the strength of the black vote in those states.

Hillary Clinton's supporters are quick to point out Obama's perceived weakness without admitting that the numbers look even worse for Clinton among African Americans. If the Clinton supporters are to be believe their own argument that middle class whites will not vote for Obama, then they must be equally worried because the black vote has gone to Barack Obama at a much higher percentage. Barack Obama has actually won the white vote in a number of states, while Hillary Clinton has never come within 60% points of Obama among the black vote. In the Clinton supporters argument, African Americans are just taken for granted. "Of course they'll vote for Hillary, what reason would they have not to. They are Democrats and in the end they'll come home to the party." For some reason, they never apply that logic to the "White working class voter". They will point to states like West Virginia (which Huckabee won overwhelmingly against McCain, just to give you a measure of the indicative nature of the pre-November voting) and Kentucky and say that Obama is a flawed candidate. They will not, however, apply that same analysis to their own candidate.

The Obama true believers are in their glory at this point and are quick to try and kick a Clinton when they're down. This is incredibly short sighted, however, because the Democratic party cannot win in November without strong support from Hillary Clinton supporters. The candidate himself has tried to play above the question of when Senator Clinton should exit the race and has clearly turned his attention to the battle against McCain. While I understand the need to fully engage John McCain, I think this does a disservice to Senator Clinton. While it is a mathematical certainty that Obama will end up with the most delegates at the end of the primary season, the difference is not that great that he should be able to just ignore his main challenger. This is not analogous to the McCain-Huckabee battle, because McCain had a lead of over 500 delegates as he moved to toward securing the nomination. Obama is not in the same situation and while I find no problem with engaging the Republican challenger to a certain extent, I feel that it is somewhat disrespectful to Senator Clinton and her supporters to ignore her all together.

A broader view of what lies ahead and behind in this race for the nomination would probably be to every ones benefit. Unfortunately, I know the Press isn't about to change their micro-analyzing ways, and I don't think that the most fervent of Clinton or Obama supporters are going to be able to be reasoned with until this race is finally settled.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"Down Goes Frazier!"

Howard Cosell uttered those memorable words on the night that Joe Frazier lost his heavyweight belt to George Foreman. Foreman came into the fight as a prohibitive underdog, but proceeded to give Frazier the beating of his life, knocking him down six times in two rounds. Frazier never recovered from that first thunderous right hand that floored him. Frazier was looking ahead to a big money rematch with Muhammad Ali and probably took the Foreman bout lightly. Although Foreman was undefeated and had a string of knockouts to his credit, most boxing experts thought that Frazier would be able to handle him easily.

It really is only in hindsight that this seems a ridiculous thought. Frazier was 5 inches shorter and 20 lbs lighter than his opponent. His straight ahead fighting style set up perfectly for the heavy hitting Foreman. Frazier's style of absorbing his opponents blows in order to land his own may have worked with the less powerful Ali, but was a recipe for disaster against Foremen. He was knocked down three times in both the first and second round before the referee called a halt to the action. Veteran boxing observers were stunned by what had happened, but they were quick to hail the new champion and proclaim that he was all but unbeatable. Of course Muhammad Ali (in the role of wiley veteran) took the title away from Foreman a year later in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle".

I apologize for that somewhat lengthy lead in but I find a lot of similarities between that night in 1973 and the Democratic primary race. Hillary Clinton came into the race as the heavy betting favorite. Most pundits were already looking ahead to who she would face in the fall. The Clinton camp certainly was, since they had no real strategy in place for the campaign to continue past Super Tuesday. To their ultimate detriment, they overlooked the challenge that Barack Obama posed from the beginning. They assumed that Clinton's name recognition and years of experience would be enough to vanquish any opponent on the Democratic side. The Clinton's were looking ahead to a rematch with the Republicans. It was a fight that had won in the past and they looked forward to having another opportunity to take on the Hillary named "vast right wing conspiracy".

Barack Obama came into the campaign as a decided underdog. He burst upon the national stage and the 2004 Democratic convention with an inspiring keynote speech for John Kerry. At that point, he was an Illinois state Senator, but after the speech he became a national figure. He decided to run for the US Senate in 2006 and emerged victorious after his opponent became embroiled in a sex scandal and eventually was replaced near the end of the campaign. He started his campaign about a year ago trailing Hillary Clinton by as much as 30 points in the national polls. The press didn't give him much of a chance at the time, but in truth, they didn't give any of the Hillary's opponents much of a chance. Last year it was presumed that Hillary would be facing Rudy Giuliani in November. The primaries were supposed to be a mere formality before the main event. No could have foreseen the movement that Obama's campaign would spark. No one could have imagined that he would be able to get one million donors by the end of February. No one could imagine that he would build an organization that was not only equal to, but in almost all respects, better than the one that the Clinton campaign would put together. No one in the press predicted this would happen and the Clinton camp was very secure in the knowledge that their candidate was the inevitable Democratic nominee for the presidency.

A funny thing happened on the way to the nomination however. Barack Obama landed the first significant blow by winning Iowa and the Clinton campaign has never really recovered. The truth is that if he hadn't won that first caucus, his campaign would probably have run aground. That single stunning victory changed the mind of millions of people all over the country. That single vote turned Hillary Clinton supposed coronation from a backyard bbq into a dog fight and it was a fight she was unprepared for. It was as if she had brought a knife to a gun fight. Her victory in New Hampshire righted the ship temporarily, but it could not stem the growing tide of Obama support. She did manage to win Michigan (as the only candidate on the ballot) and Florida, but neither primary counted toward her delegate count because they had broken the DNC rules by moving up their primaries to before Super Tuesday. Her big state strategy allowed her to hold her own on Super Tuesday, but Obama actually came out ahead in pledged delegates and states won. February was a whitewash for Obama (due to the lack of a post super Tuesday strategy on the part of the Clinton team. If you look up the definition of "looking past your opponent", you will see a picture of the Clinton campaign team). Clinton proceeded to lose 11 straight races, while coming up with excuses for all of them (black population, she doesn't do well in caucuses, those states don't really count, etc.).

However, Hillary proved her championship mettle by pulling herself off the canvas on various occasions. After Obama's victory string (which basically assured him of the nomination), she scored victories in Ohio and a partial victory in Texas. Heading into Pennsylvania, with Obama stretching his lead out in the national polls to 10%, she scored a 9 point victory to prove that she wasn't quite done. Heading into yesterday's primaries, she seemed to have everything going her way. Obama had to face various questions about his patriotism and his association with his pastor and a former radical and the press was quick to point out that she had "found her voice" (which is funny, because I thought she had "found her voice" in New Hampshire). The polls were pointing toward a close race in North Carolina and an easy victory in Indiana. She had already said that North Carolina would be a "game changer" and was anticipating a full turnaround in her fortunes. She had found that big punch that was going to stagger and bloody her opponent. However it was not to be. Instead of landing a haymaker of her own, the former presumed champion was left bowed and bloodied on the canvas. The fight is not technically over (Obama does not have the required number of delegates for the nomination), but everyone has begun to look at the referee to call an end to the fight for the good of the vanquished opponent.

This campaign will be remembered as the one that provided the answer as to what happens when an immovable object (Clinton's inevitability) meets an irresistible force (Obama's movement). Perhaps looking back years from now, we will think that the press was naive to think that the outcome could have been any different. Perhaps people will say that it was easy to see that Obama would eventually emerge as the winner. Perhaps they will say that the press ignored all the signs that pointed to this day. Perhaps the stunned voice of the pundits will echo across time just as the the stunned voice of Howard Cosell has from that warm January night in Kingston, Jamaica in 1973.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

First Lady Princess Leia on Hurricane Katrina, Says the planet of Alderaan Will Increase Aid

First Lady Laura Bush has taught me to laugh again.

She has given me the joy of laughter, and not the terrified laughter of an American who looks at the escalating deficit in horror, not the panicked, insane laughter of a man watching the latest news reports of the war in Iraq, but the derisive laughter of condescension.

While she is an exponentially superior public speaker than our current president… she’s only married to him. She has no authority to address the American public on anything. She was not voted into office, she just happens to be married to someone who was (or at least according to Supreme Court Justice Scalia). And yet, yesterday, it was delegated on to her, the responsibility of addressing the world about the horrific cyclone in Myanmar, -which the First Lady still refers to as Burma in a passive aggressive but transparent effort to drive home the US’s opposition to the military government that has seized power there.Yesterday’s address by the First Lady offered us all a wonderful look into the Bush administration's stunning hypocrisies and failures as they outlined how they would now help the victims of a cyclone, -which is really a species of hurricane.

It requires a particularly selective type of amnesia to talk about a cyclone in an Asian country, while there are people in your own country still suffering from Katrina’s historic devastation and your own husband’s unprecedented ineptitude. So, I thought it would be interesting to take the transcript of First Lady’s speech, and simply substitute the words: “Laura Bush”, “Burma” and “the United States” for: “Princess Leia”, “New Olreans/Lousiana” and “the planet Alderaan” in hope of a comparative analysis of all this bullshit.

Here’s how the transcript of yesterday’s speech now reads:

First Lady Princess Leia on Hurricane Katrina, Says the planet of Alderaan Will Increase Aid.
Fictional Transcripts Wire Service Monday, September 5, 2005; 5:50 PM

FIRST LADY PRINCESS LEIA: Thank you, everybody, for coming out. I just want to make a few comments about New Orleans.
On Monday, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Now the storm affected more than 1.7 million people and, according to the American media, and killed over 1,300 people. The aftermath has left cities paralyzed, families separated, and houses and businesses destroyed.The Alderaanians are a compassionate people, and we're already acting to provide help. The planet of Alderaan has offered financial assistance through our intergalactic embassy. We'll work with the U.N. and other international nongovernmental organizations to provide water, sanitation, food and shelter. More assistance will be forthcoming. Alderaan stands prepared to provide an assistance team and much-needed supplies to New Orleans, as soon as the US government accepts our offer. The US government should accept this team quickly, as well as other offers of international assistance. As they cope with this tragedy, the men and women of New Orleans remain in the thoughts and prayers of many Alderaanians. It's troubling that many of the American people learned of this impending disaster only when foreign outlets, such as Radio Free Alderaan and Voice of Alderaan, sounded the alarm. Although they were aware of the threat, New Orleans’ state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path. The response to the Hurricane is just the most recent example of the Bush Administration’s failure to meet its people's basic needs. The regime has dismantled systems of agriculture, education and health care. This once wealthy nation, led by the present US administration, under President George W. Bush currently has borrowings to the tune of $4.3 trillion and is expected to skyrocket to almost thrice that figure by the time the president finishes his second term in office in 2008…

I could go on and on beating this joke to death, but I think you get the picture, -unless you’re one of those unfortunate Americans still in denial about this administration’s gross incompetence, or worse, one of those unfortunate Americans still living in a temporary home (read: government issued trailer) due to Hurricane Katrina leveling your region, in which case you probably don’t have internet service, three years after this disaster wiped you out.

Are you’re wondering about the relevance of the photo of John McCain and George W. Bush that leads this post? It was taken Sunday, August 28, 2005 when so called “day-ahead warnings” from the weather bureaus were clear that an enormous storm was going to rock the state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region. The next morning, as Hurricane Katrina began to batter New Orleans and Eastern Louisiana, Bush left his ranch saying to the press that “we are fully prepared”. He kicked off the start of Hurricane Katrina with a birthday celebration for Senator John McCain. He was so busy that he missed that day's video conference on Hurricane Katrina. The next day, Tuesday, he continued a tour in sunny California for his drug benefits plan as the flood waters climbed, levees broke and Americans lost their lives.

In the interest of full disclosure, you can read the First Lady's full remarks here at this link,

-actually, the original material is pretty stupefying on its own.