Saturday, December 31, 2011

Make One Thing Sacrosanct in 2012…

Another year is about to be come an irretrievable part of the past, joining all other years in memory, in the imagination.
It’s customary to make a wish for the coming year, and so I’ll make mine known here. In 2012 I would like a bill proposed to make the camera, whether a video camcorder or a cell phone’s tiny sensor an inviolable and untouchable personal possession.
Every time authorities block a camera’s view, or confiscate a recording device, they do so because they are about to do something they don’t want seen by others… they are about to do something wrong. No police officer, national guardsman, agent… -no one funded by my tax dollars has the right to cover their tracks by stopping someone from recording reality.
It would be great if there were a law on the books that protected the right to record, photograph and expose, -in a sense the right to bear a camera (the way many in America insist laws should protect the right to bear arms.)
Just a thought, just a wish I have for 2012.
Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"You Can Get Jail Time for Killing a Child Molester."

File that under the many things I learned this year, -another long year where at certain points I felt stupefied at all the things improbable that were made real. Some things I just learned over again, like making a proper Windsor knot before the Power Considine wedding, or the limitations of lenses in photographing moving subjects and even static ones.

Bin Laden was cornered and shot dead; -so much for ever-present, omnipotent Fu Manchu-like super villains twirling their mustaches. They can get shot in the head just like anyone else. As for the foreign policy and militaristic overreach they inspire or enable,
-that’s harder to kill. That’s our ongoing war to fight as a citizenry if we care to heed President Eisenhower's warnings.

I learned the battle against what we call Fascism will never end. Tomorrow’s "Dick Cheney" is out there, -he’s probably in college right now, learning how to be this century’s great offstage dictator, although like all his predecessors he’ll be missing some fundamental thing that’ll tip us off. He’ll have some inhuman reflex, -like the inability to not shoot his friends in the face while on vacation, -or that curious inability to smile without letting you know he’s the devil’s own.

I found out that American administrations can actually end wars and occupations, if that’s what they suddenly decide they want to do. The desire to "do" can uncomplicate things mighty fast. The Iraq war Xmas 2011 deadline was nice to be sure, but how about two Xmases ago? -Or three, or four.... I don’t know that there’s been any satisfactory explanation as to why now as opposed to earlier times other than vague statements about "stability."
Is it ever to early or too late to end a war that was started on a lie?
-No. Never.
Remember to say "Welcome home."

Currently News Corp. is embroiled in a phone hacking scandal centered on its disregard for privacy and civil rights, and Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes are still referred to as people who work in the business of journalism? I found that the word "news"can be thrown at any enterprise; -kind of the way you can found a religion on the premise of a flying spaghetti monster, (or a dead Jewish rabbi-carpenter on a cross.) People can try and de-legitimize the legacy for the New York Times for its support of the Iraq War (The Left) or its relentless backtrack on the war and reportage on the Yellow Cake claims (The Right) but there is nothing as destructive to the concept of journalism as the fact the FCC will do nothing about the fact that Fox "News" Channel, includes the term "news" in its name and product description.
They are an opinion and disinformation network whose focus is Right wing, wealth-protecting elitist propaganda.
All they can do is deny it, as they deny so many other things on a 24 hour cycle.

Having a Black president and a Black Attorney general doesn’t mean the Constitution is any safer. The Patriot Act provisions were extended... And there’s that business of guns going to Mexico.

There are still a lot of stupid people loose in the world emboldened by the "me-too" culture of the early 1980s that continues today, bigger than ever. Misinformed people aren’t ever confronted if they are angry enough. Opinions are given the weight of fact. A lie can be given the same authority of a fact when no one has the guts to point it out. People’s stated beliefs are accepted as counter arguments to reason in America, -and around the world, religious fundamentalism continues to spread like a wildfire of cancers. People still focus and get fired up about stupid and inconsequential things. -Case in point, this blog, founded by MyCue 23 where we have discussed every subject under the sun, for better or for worse and drawn some heavy arguments from self-perceived adversaries, and people who just out-and-out don’t like what we have to say, has had one post that stands above all in terms of total numbers of visitors and vitriolic reaction:

You’ll note I didn’t bother responding to a single one of those replies because frankly, they speak for and refute themselves quite adequately. I was going to post a follow up to that post on his birthday called, "Michael Jackson: Baby Fucker." but whatever people may think about me or MyCue 23, we don’t post on here to upset or antagonize readers, even the people we don’t agree with. The fact that a post about Michael Jackson that points out the obvious problems with how his celebrity immunized him from due process of allegations (that for example recently ended the tenure of coaches at Penn State and Syracuse) drew such emotion and passion (and typographical errors) but not a single cogent argument against my notion that Jackson would likely have ended up in jail had he not been so talented, so famous and so wealthy (like many other celebrities and artists) really says it all, and frankly proves my point. I saw no need to write "Michael Jackson: Baby Fucker" this year.

Well, there’s always 2012...

But the greatest thing I learned this year, a small, precious thing I had long forgotten since I last marched on Washington DC in 1989, was the simple fact that the people have the power. For better or for worse. This year, in Wisconsin, in Cairo, in Athens, in downtown Manhattan, people defied every mechanism of control that manages our daily oppression and started a new era of defiance, freedom, visibility and citizenship that cannot be rolled back. I learned that the words I read in a comic book more than twenty years ago, were more than just an empty, theatrical threat, -but a suggestion as to what our responsibilities to each other really are as a society, and as a world.

A merry Christmas day, and happiest of holidays to you all.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Many will be home by Christmas. Iraq will begin a long drawn out process of assembling itself, possibly for the first time in the modern era as a centralized state and not a conglomeration of fiefdoms... -or not. They have a lot of dead to bury and account for.

I hope most of the armed services personnel can get on with life after being put in the service of an American administration’s opportunistic power grab disguised as preemptive foreign policy. The whole of government and the nation still owes these men and women an apology for risking their lives on a strange bet made by the Bush administration. The 9 year war in Iraq has now ended. It has ended after the spending of many more billions of dollars and after many more lives than were promised by President Bush in his stilted, laconic, bragging forecasts. No will hold him or the conflict’s true architects, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, accountable. They all got away with this crime free and clear. -That this war made millions for Dick Cheney’s friends in industry is never directly discussed, as if his refusal to answer any questions he doesn’t like could somehow operate as reasoning, justification, or policy.

The war is finally over Mr. Cheney. Thankfully, you and your Nixon-era cadre are finished too. I don’t think the country could survive another bout of what you call “keeping us safe,” incompetent, lying thieves that you are.

Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


They’re Still at It. They’re not going home.

…Occupying this and that, over here and over there. OWS participants are annoying and scaring everyone from formerly unconcerned stock traders who “don’t know what everybody’s so mad about,” to minimum-wage janitors who work at corporate banks and wish that the great unwashed sitting at Zuccotti Park would just all go get a job and take a bath.

Even the cops’ frustrations are hitting an existential boiling point as they aggressively defend the dignity and peace of mind of a transnational financial community that has no empathy and less in common with their own way of life than people in their own economic strata, like those girls they are cowardly pepper spraying on occasion. Cops aren’t as stupid as everybody likes to pretend. They know what happened to their 401Ks while the banks returned to profitability on their own dutifully paid individual income tax funded bailout since 2008. Cops know that not a single institution on Wall Street will ever stand with them when it’s time to fight for the raises and pensions of policemen... Yet they continue to follow orders that amount to open and violent transgressions against the right to assemble and the right to dissent in our republic, conveniently forgetting that even the police have to occasionally take to the streets to fight for their own rights and be heard. Even cops are “labor” in the end. It’s an odd wrinkle of hypocrisy in America that persists generation after generation.
For all the calculated misinformation about what this, now nationwide, action is about (It’s been called “unfocused,” “aimless,” “infantile,” “disingenuous,” by the Right and by the Left) it seems pretty obvious that among the several things the OWS participants want are: the elimination of corporate and banking institutions from our political and electoral processes, and law enforcement and criminal prosecution (as opposed to negotiated fines paid with money illegally gained in the first place) every time transnational banks break the law.

-The fact that there are so many things that are wrong and frankly criminal about the way transnational and high finance (and the Wealthy 1% they serve) do business was somehow presented as a failing on the part of their critics by the media, the New York Times in particular is the very height of protectionist denial on the part of the American ruling class. It is intentionally disingenuous and broken reasoning: Citing that an argument is unfocused or groundless because it isn’t “concise”… The problems that OWS’s argument addresses are composed of too many crimes to lay down in convenient sound bites for our collective idiot mind. OWS’s target and their focus on its abuses cannot be processed by CNN in its current form, and it will never be reported honestly by Fox “News” or any other corporate news outlet.

Amid the media’s own aimless story-hungry opportunism, it’s important to assert that this is no “let’s-pretend-the-60s-never-ended exercise.” The counter culture of the 1960s and the goals of the civil rights era have long been absorbed into the mainstream in everything from our systems of daycare, anti-discrimination laws, to the way we teach history, to recycling laws, to HR policy in the workplace. OWS isn’t a rehash; it isn’t leftie or progressive nostalgia or make-believe. OWS is a direct and public assault on institutionalized financial oppression. It is an assault led by the people directly affected, past, present and future.

As much as the GOP’s branded mouthpieces for the wealthy want to pretend that OWS is just a long running prank, they know it’s not. It makes them scared. It scares them because this isn’t the fake populism of the Tea Party, which at its heart is codified by concerns and policy arcs that were never important to its members until a Black man suddenly became president. The elite, the 1% are now names that are gaining permanent traction. We used to just call them the Rich. We used see through nonsense like the Bush (43) and Clinton era series of tax cuts for the wealthiest in America. We used to have a middle class. We used to have a manufacturing economy stateside, -not an offshore community of international vendors whose disregard for workers’ rights would make Upton Sinclair draw a gun.

Who didn’t know it would go this way after the deregulation policies of the Reagan, Clinton, Bush (43) years? –There’s not a single man, woman or child alive who knows the value of a dollar, or more importantly, -the horror of its absence, who didn’t see something like this coming. Flint Michigan’s collapse in the 1980s was the first of many to fall to an industry that used its Reagan era tax breaks and subsidies to automate -not hire. Reagan’s successor raised taxes to stem the tide in an act of sober politically imperiling responsibility we’ll probably never see again. Clinton signed the erosion of media ownership restrictions into law, thereby laying waste to local news as we knew it, allowing a damaging consolidation of jobs and establishments we’re only now assessing in its proper horrific scale after the move to online finished what the corporate takeovers didn’t. If Clinton thought we could afford the tax breaks he signed over to the %1, he should have looked further beyond the great budget surplus his administration successfully wrought in the 1990s to what was happening on Wall Street: the rise of wildly conditional instruments like derivatives that combined with the tech speculation bubble collapse of 2000 would bring in one of the toughest periods of my adult life here in New York.

We’ve seen these OCCUPY park encampments in history books and soon, with a generation of vets returning to at best a jobless recovery, the OCCUPY camps will be less of a political statement and more of an inarguable consequence of 30 years of policy. Once upon a time these encampments, these occupations were called “Hoovervilles.” They were consequences of the Great Depression.

It’s interesting that whenever we are under threat by the rich, elite, ruling class of old money monsters who engineer misery in America, whenever some big scam is about to be perpetrated that will cost many lives, like the Iraq War Dick Cheney concocted with the political inertia appropriated from 9/11, our theatrical hatred for the French is always dragged back out of the steamboat trunk, dusted off and resurrected at fever pitch. It’s a wonderful distraction and it works every time. I’m waiting for it to come up again, now that legitimate people movements are being completely dismissed again as simply “socialist” and “un-American” agitation. Our very notions of Right and Left politics come out of the ashes of the French Revolution. I hope this time people pause and give some thought to the image of Marie Antoinette’s head sailing into a basket as crowds cheered.

At the heart of it all, the banks protected themselves with our tax money, used every politician in government they had bought outright to engineer interest free loans to protect themselves and safeguard their way of business. No Bank EVP’s job will ever be off-shored, -no- that’s for the rest of the suckers at the bottom of the food chain in America who have interest rates imposed on them from on high… you know: me and you and everyone we know.

-They, the occupiers, students, the protesters, the children of the now eroded and all but imaginary middle class -and let’s face it, despite the New York Post’s campaign of lies, -the actual poor, are still at it. They are still assembling in my downtown right near the old house of Morgan. They are still at it in Boston, LA, Oakland and by the way, “they” have never stopped where it all started, in Wisconsin. “They” are not stopping anytime soon, because they have a lot of outrage to dish out, a little over two hundred years’ worth.

“Only in New York” they used to say about anything crazy or uncommon… but remember this current wave started in the mid-west when THE people decided to remind Governor Walker that he and the state legislature were only guests in the capitol. They came with sleeping bags and showed them.

They showed them that “they” are us.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Rest in Peace Champ

In honor of the great Joe Frazier, who passed away yesterday, I'm reprinting something I wrote back in 2006.

Ali-Frazier III. The Thrilla in Manila. The final meeting of boxing titans. Ali had christened the fight in his then famous "poetry". He said, "It's gonna be a killer, and a chiller and a thrilla when I get the gorilla in Manila." As if the fight needed any more buildup, Ali decided to dub Frazier the gorilla, which did nothing to lessen the already substantial animosity from the Frazier camp. On October 30, 1975 Ali and Frazier would wage the greatest heavyweight fight of all time. The battle was so monumental that neither man would ever be the same again. They left not only their blood and guts in the ring that night, they left whatever was left of their youth as well.

 Ali and Frazier fought for the first time on March 8, 1971. The fight that was billed as the fight of the century and lived up to that billing. It was quite possibly the greatest sports spectacle of the century. It featured the first meeting of undefeated heavyweight champions. Ali was coming back from a three year layoff after having his title stripped and being prohibited from boxing due to his refusal to enter the armed services. Frazier had stepped into the void created by Ali's absence and had won the title in the heavyweight championship tournament. Ali had a couple of tune up fights and declared himself ready to reclaim his rightful place atop the heavyweight division. Ali and Frazier were friendly during Ali's boxing exile, with Frazier even giving Ali money during a particularly rough stretch. Once the contracts were signed however, Ali began to taunt Frazier in public. He called him ugly and an Uncle Tom. He painted Frazier as the "white man's champion". He claimed to be the people's champion. He turned the fight into a battle between the status quo and the voices for change, between the old and young, between black and white, between rich and poor. Frazier didn't want any of it and he grew to hate Ali because of the taunting. The fight itself was an epic battle. Ali dominated the early rounds with his speed and his jab. Frazier, a notoriously slow starter came back in the middle rounds. The fight was fairly even as they entered the last five rounds of the fight. The years away from boxing had robbed Ali of his ability to dance around the ring for 15 rounds. As the latter rounds became more of a flat footed slugfest, the fight swung in Frazier's direction. Frazier knocked Ali to the canvas in the 15th and final round with a thunderous trademark left hook. Ali somehow managed to pull himself up at that count of 4, but the decision was never in doubt. Frazier had defeated him and could now lay rightful claim to the true undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.

The second fight in the trilogy took place in January of 1974. Neither man was champion at that point. Frazier had been knocked senseless by George Foreman in Jamaica a year earlier and Ali had lost to a previously unknown boxer named Ken Norton. Both were at the crossroads of their careers. The fight was held at Madison Square Garden in New York, which was the same venue as their first fight, it had none of the majesty of that fight however. Ali continued to taunt Frazier and Frazier continued to build animosity toward Ali. They even tussled on Wide World of Sports while doing an interview with Howard Cosell. Ali was probably just acting, but Frazier was dead serious. The fight in the ring was neither as interesting nor as close as their first fight had been. Ali won easily, although Frazier did score with a number of punches. The fight was really the beginning of the end for Frazier. He would fight only four more times before retiring. Ali went on to fight 15 more times after the second Frazier fight.

The third fight was supposed to be easy for Ali. He had just recently regained the heavyweight title from George Foreman in Zaire and Frazier was perceived to be at the end of the line. Ali didn't train heavily for the fight but Frazier threw everything he had into preparation. He wanted to shut Ali up once and for all. The fight took place at an indoor arena that had no air conditioning. Under the TV lights the temperature soared well above 100 degrees in the ring. The humidity was stifling. The only ventilation in the building was in the form of fans that were ineffective in battling the heat and only served to circulate the already searing air. Ali was confident as he entered the ring. He felt that he would be able to take Joe out in the early rounds. Joe had another thought in mind. The fight started in the familiar pattern of Ali - Frazier fights. Ali dominated the early rounds. He peppered Frazier with jabs and power punches that Frazier seemed unable to stop or dodge. The fight began to turn once again in the middle rounds. Frazier pinned Ali to the ropes and began to pound at Ali's midsection and score left hooks to the head. Ali tried his rope-a-dope technique which had been so successful against Foreman, but Frazier proved too smart an opponent to simply punch himself out. He was much more economical and precise in his attack than the outclassed Foreman had been. As the fight wore on Ali knew that he was in for a battle. In one of the clinches he said, "Joe, they said you were done", "They lied to you champ" was Joe's only response.

The later rounds saw Ali's punches begin to take a toll on Frazier's face. His head became a misshapen lump of bruises. His eye were swollen and his vision became compromised. Ali seized the advantage. He produced pinpoint power shots to Frazier's head and started to build a lead. Frazier did not stop punching however. He hurt Ali on numerous occasions as the fight wore on. Ali was later quoted as saying that those later rounds were as close to death as he as ever felt. The heat and Frazier's relentless attack pushed him to the brink of quitting. His corner pushed him out for each round and he continued his attack on Frazier's face. A series of shots in the 13th round sent Frazier's mouthpiece flying into the crowd, but he never stopped coming forward, absorbing punishment, but also dishing it out. Frazier's corner wanted to stop the fight after the 13th round but he convinced them to give him one more round. In the 14th round a nearly blinded Frazier absorbed a vicious beating from Ali and his corner did indeed call it quits before the start of the 15th. In the tape from the fight, you can see Frazier arguing with his corner about stopping the fight, but in the end his trainer, Eddie Futch, had the final say. Frazier was so upset by that decision that he never spoke to Futch again. Ali, upon seeing that the fight was being stopped, got off his stool, raised his hand and then collapsed onto the canvas.

Both men had absorbed a tremendous amount of damage in the fight. And while Frazier's face looked the worse for wear, it was Ali's body that had suffered the most in the fight. Ali always gave up his body in order to protect his face and Frazier exacted an enormous toll during the fight. Ali was under a doctors care for several days after the fight, while Frazier was able to walk away in generally good condition. Joe Frazier would once again lose by knockout to George Foreman in his next fight after which he retired. Frazier had a short lived comeback a few years later in which he fought only once, but basically his career ended that night in Manila. Ali said after the fight that he was going to quit and most people believe that he should have. Of course he wouldn't. He would go on to lose and then win the title one more time and he would suffer ignominious defeat at the hands of Larry Holmes in an ill advised comeback. Ali is now afflicted with Parkinson's Syndrome, which means that although he doesn't have Parkinson's he has all the symptoms of a sufferer of the disease. It's a more scientific term for what used to labeled "punch drunk". His speech has been affected to the point that he doesn't speak in public anymore. His limbs shake uncontrollably and his movement is limited. His continued boxing activity after that night in Manila is probably the main reason for his condition today.

The thrilla in Manila was an epic struggle between two extraordinary fighters. Both men were past their primes, both had already secured their places in boxing history, both had nothing left to prove, but on that night they showed the world something more than just a championship bout. They were no longer fighting for the heavyweight championship, they were fighting for the championship of each other. They had split the first two fights and the winner of this fight could forever claim victory over the other. Neither of them was willing to give up that fight. They both fought to the edge of death to prove something, not to the world, but to each other. Ali won that night, but paid a heavy cost by continuing his boxing career. The effects of his decision to continue to fight have made him a shadow of the person he used to be. Frazier is still relatively healthy today and while he says that he harbors no ill will toward Ali today, there has to be a lingering thought in his head that perhaps by losing, he was the ultimate victor that October night in Manila. +

Monday, October 10, 2011

Really Pedro? Really?

It was the emperor Servius Tullius, (6th king of Rome, technically an Estruscan) who invented the first census we know of. His reasoning, we are told, is that once you knew what you had in the way of families, males of a certain age, women, children etc. you could ascertain your potential as a nation, and also identify your limits and needs; As a ruler he could tell if he would have a shortfall of men to supply his armies with soldiers, or whether a growing population of aged, or infant classes demanded a need for food surplus to be generated or procured from foreign trade sources.

The Census is one of the great gifts (among many) that the Roman civilization’s ancient governments have given the modern world: The ability to know the size and characteristics of your nation’s population through tallies and demography.

But as John Madden once famously said; you can use statistics to prove anything.

As self-conflictingly Berra-esque as that statement of Madden’s playfully makes its curved point, its relevance to the science and practice of demography can’t be overstated in America. We are a Republic of districts, boroughs, counties, hamlets and parishes… it all makes about as much sense as the variegated shape and contours of baseball fields as equivalent platforms for playing the same game in principle.

Recently some surprising statistics leapt out of the National Census’s recent efforts.
“Whites” were seen as growing in the tallies accrued in 2010. Nothing shocking about that in and of itself except that it suddenly trended against the last several decades of demography. Upon further investigation, it turned out the increase was due to a nuance in classification; or more specifically an option in classification. Hispanics and Latinos are not recognized as a “race” by the Census. The Census forms explicitly say so. This of course flies in the face of centuries of institutional racism and conflict in the Americas, because anyone familiar with the word “Spic” would tell you it’s not a synonym for Yankee. There’s a wall being proposed to keep out Mexicans, -not Canadians.
The Census forms only allow for identifications of Hispanic Black, or Hispanic White, or Non-Hispanic White, or “some other race” where Hispanics are concerned. It seems Hispanics, filling out forms in the secrecy and anonymity of the enclosed world of their minds, were marking themselves down as Hispanic White, or White altogether.

It’s an ironic development in so far as one of the Census’ objectives is to allocate resources to communities at risk, or with special needs, such as English as Second Language classes for children of immigrants in hopes of assimilating them into the workforce and society more functionally, -more comprehensively. If it suddenly looks like there’s only “White” people in Spanish Harlem, the funds for that kind of schooling may never come to that district, to name one possible consequence.

I’ve always marked down “some other race.” I’m Hispanic: The cops and all the gatekeepers of all the places I wasn’t welcome in as a youth never let me forget it, so there I will spitefully stay on the Census form, if only out of respect for my younger self and all of his hassles. I can understand the allure of wanting to pass as a member of a dominant class, it’s an obvious one, with obvious benefits, and with some dark, nasty drawbacks because at the heart of this all is a capitulation to the old-world idea that race is biologically consequential or “real.” At the heart of all this is the belief that skin color itself and not the social reality that stigmatizes it that determines one’s future.
I know someday, we’ll all just insist on being human counted as “human.” Although I’ve somehow managed to see the election of an African American president, I suspect that other day is a much longer way off, when so many of us are willing to mark down a color as if it were some portent of winning some crazy game in which we know everybody loses eventually.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Remember Those Orders, Officer.

Officer, the next time the mayor tells you to go shove it, the next time they threaten to negotiate your contracts by firing masses of you and your fellow cops, remember all the kids you beat, remember all the girls you clubbed and shoved to the ground this past weekend. Remember all the people who you maced in the name of “order.” Remember all of the people you committed acts of violence against. Remember those people you hit in the face for exercising their right to assemble.

I don’t think you’ll so easily forget: it’s the people you are beating up.

Exactly who is it that you serve and protect, officer?
Who are you going to beat up over the nagging voices in your head?
Who are you going to beat up when you realize what end of the leash you are on?

Monday, September 05, 2011

New Post.

It's been months.

But I'm back and I'll try to remain as long as it's sane to do so or as long as I'm able, which will be hard to do any case. I'm lucky enough to be working full time in this America.

Times are bad, times are hard; not as bad or as hard as they've ever been for our scurrying clawing species, nor as bad or as difficult as they will ever be... but when the king and pope of the Nixon-era goons, Dick Cheney, walks about freely, talking about himself in whatever fictional set of reappraisals he thinks most flattering and exculpatory, and it passes for fact in the minds of the many dimwits who oppose only the things that don't make them feel good about themselves and their country...

You and I had better do something, because an entire generation of people in our armed services are either maimed or dying daily. It's happening right now, right this second. They are our best and our brightest by sheer numbers alone, and they are being sacrificed to secure the fortunes of the elite rich in this country and the various industries those elites control: industries that do not even make it a priority to create jobs for this nation. Haliburton's name never comes up on the subject of job creation, but they sure have gotten rich off of these wars by exploiting the manpower and lives of the world's most powerful and capable military. Never forget that military is made up of single, individual human beings who have forsaken their rights as individuals in trusting that the Pentagon, and the Congress it answers to will never send them into lethal conflict unless it is absolutely necessary to protect their nation.

The 2000s were not that long ago, friends. I'm not entirely convinced they ended, not in any way that really counts; Not with two wars, a bank-ruled economy and a new squad of candidates talking about God and protecting the interests of the Rich... not with Rupert Murdoch's vile corporation beaming its lies and propaganda to the gullible and the willing, while it's been making a mockery of those most basic of its readers' rights: privacy.

I'm just a writer living in the 21st century, and that's what I can do: write. I can point out problems, I can point out the criminals masquerading as administrators and politicians from my own subjective corner of the fray. Maybe the best I can do is point out one single problem over and over again.

This is a problem I first noted at the age of six, when I overheard at the dinner table that my mother was being exploited, not by some company or global corporation, but by another immigrant with a different vision, a fucktard eden of their very own in the suburban hinterlands, a cul de sac in Massapequah perhaps, all dreams fueled by theft. For this vision of a better life of their own, they (these contractors who approached unemployed single women at labor offices and the port authority) skimmed thousands of dollars from workers, paying them below their government mandated minimum wage, and pocketing the difference. When a RICO-justified raid shut down the factory that my mother had worked at, she had by then already put herself through college and was working as an office assistant for a non-profit public defense fund in lower Manhattan. I can tell you as her only child, that a single dollar would have made a difference in those early days, and those thieving motherfuckers took much more than that from her wages, a lot more.

Back to that single problem of ours... The problem is simple as are most problems that we really, (in our hearts if not our minds) actually want to solve. The problem is that we are always ready to exploit people far ahead of just leaving them alone. We're always ready and eager to make something off somebody, well ahead of just letting them be.


Saturday, July 16, 2011


Seal of the United States Department of State.Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday, the Secretary of State announced that the US government has decided to recognize the rebel council of Libya as the official government body of that country. This will, in theory, lead to that body being able to get access to some of the funds of the Libyan government assets that have been frozen in foreign banks. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that our government is finally taking steps to recognize the legally elected representatives of the Libyan people...(oh, what's that you say, they haven't been elected by anybody). I'm sure that's just an oversight. At least when they get the money they will be able to provide the people of Libya with the resources I'm sure they so desperately need... (oh, what's that you say, they only want the money so that they can buy weapons to continue their civil war). Well at least the US government is setting a fine example for the Libyan people of supporting freedom movements all over the region... (oh, what's that you say, the US government has seen fit to ignore similar uprisings in neighboring countries like Syria where thousands have already been killed or imprisoned). Well at least the unfreezing of the assets can be viewed as humanitarian aid because it's not like we're at war...(oh, what's that you say, our drones sometimes fire rockets at targets). But since there has been no formal declaration of war and our President says that they have no real ability to harm our personnel that it doesn't qualify as war...(oh, what's that you say, just ask the family members of those that have been killed or injured by our rockets if they think we're at war). 

Well, in conclusion, I'd just like to say that this move by the US to recognize the Libyan rebels is a wonderful example of how we seek to promote and strengthen democracy around the world. I couldn't be prouder (oh, and by proud I mean absolutely disgusted).
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Friday, July 08, 2011

E Pluribus.

The words, “People shouldn’t fear their governments. Governments should fear their people.” were a small cast off remark by the imaginary terrorist “V” in Alan Moore’s (we can hardly call it “dystopian” anymore, much of it has come true in ‘90s London and ‘00s New York) “V for Vendetta.” The first time I was enlightened by the glare of those ten simple words I was riding a subway train, reading them in a serialized British comic book. I shut the pages, afraid someone might be reading over my shoulder. That was in 1988, -but to quote the words of singer songwriter Jello Biaffra, “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem, Now.

I had planned this post for the fourth of July, but my heart isn’t in it for theatrics or corny symbolism I used to employ on this blog.

All of the mid 20th century Orwellian projections of republics and “democratic” super states waging perpetual wars in order to enable governments to rule their people from above have come true in full measure. President Eisenhower tried his best to warn us about the confluence of our economy and our military. “Fear itself” as FDR rightly pronounced, is the thing to be afraid of… but not for the reasons he implied at the time. President Roosevelt was talking of the kind of fear that paralyzes a nation in the face of war; in the face of an expansionist adversary. On the contrary, we need to concern ourselves with “fear” of death that enables governments to justify any action allegedly committed in the name of national security… -because young people the world over are dying.

I’m seeing more and more homeless vets in my neighborhood park, some strung out, others harmed beyond any physical measure, unable it seems, to stand each other’s company. These soldiers came back “home” to extreme joblessness and in some cases absent families that had moved on without telling them. On one of my morning jogs, a 29 year old named Henry D*******z told me that he had joined the military in the fervor of his own personal patriotism, wanting to protect the nation he had immigrated to at five. But when he got to Afghanistan, and subsequently Iraq, he understood that his patriotism, his love of country couldn’t be applied in a conflict that had no front, no visually verifiable enemy. He told me that whatever his orders on patrol, it was tacitly understood by his platoon that anyone could be the enemy, and therefore everyone was. His experiences in wars, the attitudes he was forced to adopt in combat, went against everything he had believed in his whole life. His time in combat challenged all that the Catholic Church and the Constitution had taught him about the sanctity of life, and the inherent wrong of killing. Strangely, I’d never thought of the United States’ Constitution that way: as a thing that “teaches” us. All of my life, until Henry offhandedly described it as such the other morning, I thought of the Constitution as law, as blueprints for living fairly, rationally. It was humbling. It is as humbling as hearing Henry talk about his eight some odd years in uniform. At 43, I can never serve my country’s armed forces in any respect, and for the first time in my life, I’m wondering just what kind of citizen that makes me. I have no illusions about the glory of war, but I have to ask myself why I have been satisfied to let my peers, and now my younger counterparts risk their lives in military service, at the pleasure of various administrations, -both the corrupt and the impractically idealist, while I have gone about my life in a distinctly separate society.
It’s not a fear of death, because although I am as afraid of dying as anyone walking the earth, I would not hesitate to participate as a fireman, if my local government deemed it necessary to the safety of the community.
It is the subjugation of my will to the larger vision of a given administration’s plans for the nation and the world that I cannot abide. This is the great sacrifice every enlisted person makes for love of country, short of the ultimate sacrifice in combat, beyond which nothing more can be given.

I would never make a good soldier.
But someone has to.

I haven’t seen Henry since the Second of July. It worries me a lot. I found myself looking all around for him this morning as I went through my exercises. I worry, even though I know people disappear all the time in New York City. People move on, or are forced to relocate. But often times it’s something far more tragic.

This morning, one of the more vocal, volatile veterans, a pale young kid I’ve always avoided, who has tattoos creeping up his neck, was asked to leave the park by the rangers. These transient ex-soldiers are beginning to scare the shit out of the yuppies who have overrun the formerly Irish, Dominican, and African-American neighborhoods of upper Manhattan these particular soldiers emerged from. Truth be told, the remaining native holdouts of those ethnic neighborhoods, don’t want them either. The mere sight of them congregating by the GWB Port Authority bus location draws a lot of complaints. These are bums, addicts, homeless people everyone says: -The fact that they are veterans of still raging wars is irrelevant during rush hour. I hear some white collar worker complain of having to step over their sleeping bodies on their way to the token booth and I know that more than their stink, more than their unseemliness, it is the wars they represent that offend people who want to just “get on with their lives.”

This is wrong. What happened at Walter Reade was a disgrace, but what is happening under this administration dwarfs that negligence in a scale nobody is contemplating.

As with the Clinton administration, the Obama administration seems to ostensibly wear a cloak of beneficence. These administrations represent politicians and policymakers that at least care to say the “right” things to the country’s people. But aren’t we past the point of calling certain problematic things, -things they are not? The rationalization that the last administration started these wars is holding less and less weight, and the excuse that President Obama didn’t promise an exit, but an escalation of commitments in Afghanistan is unconstructive to the point of meaninglessness.

What’s so benevolent about an administration that is waging two, maybe three wars at once? -Nothing. It’s the persistent myth surrounding Democrats, to their detriment and at times to their benefit, depending on a given election cycle’s place in world history. Democrats are no less likely to let loose the military on any target compared to GOP-topped administrations. Democrats certainly seem to resist pulling out of conflicts, hopeful that they can bridge enough time until another succeeding administration ends up holding the bag.

There is no Anti-War movement in America anymore. While I could never be a part of it, because I don’t believe in pacifism, the Anti-War movement is an important perspective. The Anti-War movement has been successfully neutralized, diffused and rendered impotent by the media, and the calculated obfuscation of pundits on TV and Radio, who represent the rich elites who benefit or profit from the making of wars.

E Pluribus Unum, roughly translates to “Out of the many: one.” from Latin. It’s only recently, now that I have to see the people who have fought the current wars, and see them every day (I live across the Harlem river from the VA hospital in the Bronx) that I’m realizing that there’s something wrong with that ideal. Unity, is always a murderously selective enterprise for our human species. Historically, unity is always proposed in advance of some conflict, some enemy real, imagined, or as yet unidentified. Dividing and conquering is an ages old strategy, proven time and time again… but what of the collectivizing of humans into this aggregate body we call a nation? Doesn’t that makes conquest of a whole other kind equally possible? Equally inevitable?
What about this blind unity that gives us, (We the people) as much direct say in world affairs and the future of the world, as much freedom as a roaming blood cell has to determine its fate and purpose?

I wish the journalists would do their jobs and tell people what’s really going on. I wish someone would devote a single headline pronouncing the end of our Republic, and the birth of our new Protectorate now that, without much noise at all, the Patriot Act has been extended.

Somebody with the ability to make us listen and the skill to make us pay attention has to point out that our young people are still dying because of ongoing wars, even after they return “home.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

Keep It Coming

In recognition of the NY State Legislature taking a historic step toward equality today, I'm reposting something I wrote a few years ago. Let's hope it's the start of an avalanche.

The most disappointing moment of the 2008 campaign for me came when Joe Biden said that he and Barack Obama did not support the right of homosexuals to marry (it was even more disappointing than Obama's vote on the FISA bill). It can only be seen as ironic that in an election when the American people decided to elect an African-American to the highest office in the land, the voters in four states decided to deny homosexuals the right to get married. In California, even more ironically, African-Americans voted overwhelmingly for the ban. I am positive that neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden are opposed to homosexual marriage, but in order not to ruffle the feathers of the country, they took the more popular public stance.

This battle is very reminiscent of the bans against interracial marriage which were eventually struck down by the Supreme Court. In the case of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court stated:

"Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State." (Just as a side note, Alabama had retained their law against interracial marriage on the books until 2000)

According to the Supreme Court, marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man". However the bans against homosexuals marrying have been upheld in various court challenges. The highest court in New York basically said that the homosexuals cannot be given the same protection under the law because discrimination against them hasn't been recognized until the recent past.

The New York Court of Appeals held in 2006:
"[T]he historical background of Loving is different from the history underlying this case. Racism has been recognized for centuries...This country fought a civil war to eliminate racism's worst manifestation, slavery, and passed three constitutional amendments to eliminate that curse and its vestiges. Loving was part of the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s... It is true that there has been serious injustice in the treatment of homosexuals also, a wrong that has been widely recognized only in the relatively recent past, and one our Legislature tried to address when it enacted the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act four years ago (L 2002, ch 2). But the traditional definition of marriage is not merely a by-product of historical injustice. Its history is of a different kind. The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted. We do not so conclude."

I do believe that in time this will become a non-issue. It's just a shame that the American people always seem to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into giving oppressed minorities equal protection under the law. The Supreme Court has usually has had to take the first step and I do have hopes that over the next 8 years, the Court will address this issue and lay it to rest once and for all. Here is what Barack Obama said in his now famous Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic convention:

"For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper -- that makes this country work."

And I would add that if there is one person or group who are having their "fundamental" rights denied, then we are all oppressed, even if my rights are not being infringed upon. Denying the fundamental rights of citizens to marry is separate from the fight for Civil Rights of African-Americans (and clearly less violent), but the right to vote, the right to live where you want and the right to marry who you want are unalienable rights that are essential to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, that according to the Declaration of Independence, we were all endowed with by the Creator. Eventually we, as a country, realized that denying basic rights to an entire group of citizens based on something as arbitrary as skin color was wrong. I hope for the day when we as a country will realize that denying the fundamental rights of any minority group makes us smaller and uglier in the eyes of history. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was implemented to protect the rights of former slaves, but it should be applicable to every citizen regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual preference. The 14th Amendment, Section 1:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let's See Some ID

President Barack Obama discusses his plan for ...Image via WikipediaI wrote a piece back during the first month of President Obama's term that laid out the four things that I wanted him to accomplish. I was under no allusion that the administration was paying attention to my blog, but I figured it was worth the effort at the time. Of the four issues I mentioned, only one (health care) has been addressed in any significant way. Just as a refresher to all those who weren't followers of this blog at the time, the other three issues were Afghanistan, education and restoration of the Constitutional rights that were taken away under the previous administration.

I understand that logistics have gotten in the way of any significant change in Afghanistan, so I'm willing to give the President a pass on that one. I still don't believe that we have a real exit strategy or that our troops are doing any good, but I understand the difficulty in removing an army that is propping up a puppet regime.  However, the fact that education hasn't even gotten so much as a passing mention does not make me particularly happy. And the rolling back of rights that are guaranteed under the Constitution, well let's just say that this administration has apparently decided that it likes being able to eavesdrop on our conversations, detain us without due process and ship us off to other countries for "questioning" if it feels it's necessary. This is from the same President who said during his inauguration speech that the choice between safety and our ideals is a false one. Apparently he changed his mind. 

All that being said, I am totally on board with the President's mission of changing the tone of Washington. He has tried time and time again to reach out to the opposition. He has made so many concessions that some of his supporters have doubted his conviction to progressive ideals. I never have (okay, I may have wavered a bit during the health care debate). Despite all of the in fighting and political horse trading that has gone on during this administration, I always felt that the President was at least speaking truthfully or as truthfully as he could, to the American people. This week, however, I believe that he has crossed the line. In speaking about the continued NATO action in Libya, he said that US would always intervene when it saw the leader of a country harming it's own citizens (I'm paraphrasing here, but that was the general sentiment). I know, he knows and the American people know that is a crock of shit. There are multiple regimes that we support (particularly those with oil), who do great harm to their own citizens and we don't so much as bat an eye in protest. In fact we support those countries with our dollars and our weapons. We did the same for Qaddafi only a few short months ago, until he apparently turned into the worst person in the world. 

This is by no means a renunciation of my support for this President or his administration. I am very satisfied with the many things that he has been able to accomplish in the face of historic opposition. He has survived unsubstantiated attacks against his family, his citizenship, his academic record, his patriotism, his religious beliefs, etc. to forge a very impressive record of accomplishments. I stand by him and stand ready to support him in the next election. What I am saying is that I'm disappointed. Not by the lack of action on my pet issues, but that this President who I hold in such high regard, would speak to us, would speak to me as if I were a child with no understanding of the world. 

I always thought that President Obama did us the courtesy of speaking to us as if we were adults. I appreciated that after having to listen to the jingoistic patriotism that was spewed out at us by the previous administration. It didn't always come across as exciting or sound bite worthy, but it was the truth (or as much truth as could be shared). We all know that we are not the world's morality police. We can't afford to be and frankly we are no position to foist our views of morality on anyone. But when we decide to target a particular leader for removal based on strategic considerations, I would appreciate it if the President would show us the courtesy of being upfront about it. We have no moral basis for intervening in Libya. There was no genocide going on. What we did was get in the middle of civil war because it served the strategic goals of us and our allies. I know politicians think that we are pretty stupid (and given our willingness to be convinced of almost anything I can understand why). However, part of the change message that I bought into was that we were now going to be treated like adults. Stupid adults maybe, but adults nonetheless. Up until now I thought the President was doing a pretty good job of that. I can only hope that this is just a misstep and not a sign of things to come.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Human Condition

"Can't we all just get along?" Those famous words were uttered by Rodney King during the height of the LA riots. And the answer to that is, of course, no. We are not designed to live in peaceful coexistence. From the time we are able to reason, we look for ways to separate ourselves from others. We, individually, or in a group start labeling those around us. We start looking for ways to make ourselves feel superior as soon as we become self aware. 

Often the question is asked, how did the holocaust happen? The answer is as easy and as predictable as every time it has happened since then. The pattern goes something like this, our innate feeling of superiority leads to a feeling of entitlement which leads to frustration which leads to resentment which leads finally to anger. Once we reach the point of anger all that we need is a target to focus that anger. It has happened time and time again. Whether it was the Armenians or the Jews or the Japanese or the Chinese or the Blacks or the Tutsi or the Mayans or the Muslims or any other group that has faced genocide in human history. It happens time and time again. It leads one to the inescapable conclusion that we, as a race of beings, are born with the ability to commit the most haneous of crimes against each other.  

The only question to how far we are willing to go is how much the "target" has been dehumanized or devalued. In the case of the victims of genocide, the target has been so devalued that they are no longer viewed as worthy of the same right to life as the perpetrators. The victims are viewed as "monkeys" or "innately evil" or "sub human" or "dirty" or something less than <.I would ask those on the left whether they feel "superior" to those on the right? Do you think that you are better because you care more about the preservation of our planet? Or because of your more tolerant attitude toward people who are different? Or because you are against war? Those on the right may feel superior because of their religious beliefs, or because of their greater sense of patriotism or because the color of their skin. Are you superior to your neighbor because you have a higher IQ than they do?  Are you superior to your neighbor because you have more money than they do? Are you superior because your kids go to better schools? Are you superior because you shop at better department stores than do? The fact is that doesn't matter what the reason is, we are always looking for a reason.

Our ability for cruelty, hatred and disdain toward our fellow human beings is seemingly limitless. Our current political discourse is just an example of our seemingly congenital need to feel superior to someone or some group. Those on the right see Godless, unpatriotic hippies on the other side and they feel superior to them. Those on the left see racist, hypocritical rednecks on the other side they feel superior to them. It is just a continuation of our need to subjugate someone to make us feel better about ourselves. The thing is that there are lots of shared views on both sides of the debate. I'm fairly sure that at church on Sunday, there are representatives from both sides of the isle. I'm pretty sure that both sides pray to the same God. I'm fairly sure that both sides have their fair share of patriots, rednecks and hippies. There are Gays, Blacks, Jews, Asians, Mexicans, etc, who vote Republican at every turn. And there are Whites from Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, etc, who are dedicated Democrats. 

As Abraham Lincoln once said, there is much more that unites us than separates us. But as we use terms that devalue others based on something as insignificant as political views, we are fulfilling a basic tenant of the human condition. Does it matter what we issue we use to separate ourselves? Does it matter whether we open a boiled egg from the big end or small end? Not really. We will find what makes us different and someone will always be there to exploit our need to feel superior. Whether for political gain or monetary gain or a power grab, those looking to gain something will always be able to manipulate some portion of the masses to go along with them as long as they appeal to one of our most basic needs. The Human Condition allows us to commit the most horrible of acts without a second thought. I guess we can be grateful that our current political discourse has not yet devolved to the point of an armed conflict. Yet we are only a few short steps from taking up arms under the guise of protecting ourselves against an as yet unnamed enemy. If history has shown us anything, it is that every society (regardless of how supposedly enlightened it may be) is cable of turning against itself. That is the Human Condition.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No Choice. Again.

We’re reading it everywhere aren’t we?

President Obama’s formerly shifting political fortune, born aloft by an improving if not stabilizing economy (the numbers are largely horseshit, just look at how many of your own friends are still out of work, the point is things aren’t getting worse which is a huge accomplishment) has now gone stratospheric with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. No Republican is eager to run against this Black President now, whereas just weeks ago, buffoons like Donald Trump were emboldened to ridicule, insult and even run against the first Democrat to hold the highest office in the land since William Jefferson Clinton. (Trump is not a Republican by the way, let’s get serious. Even I think too much of the party of Lincoln to honor Trump’s attention hungry brand of opportunism as some sort of platform.)
The thinking amongst Republicans and analysts attempting to foresee the near future is that the President is now, suddenly invulnerable to the kinds of groundless criticism and arbitrary policy opposition that the GOP has been breathlessly supplying since 2008. President Obama’s important, historic operational victory against Al Qaeda, has had many Right wing strategists wondering aloud: what can take the place of the facile catchy nonsense that people like Michelle Baachman were serving up every day? I agree. It’s hard to keep pushing tired bullshit like “the President’s a Kenyan,” or “The President’s a Muslim” when he brings the most wanted man on Earth back in a body bag (-You can complain about him dumping the body in the ocean and not showing you pictures, I guess.)

The Republicans have always more or less claimed that they owned the homogeneous Caucasian voting blocs (in the South, in the MidWest etc.,) foreign policy, defense, war and in general –patriotism, as issues/strongholds of their own. They have shown the raw power of repetition in the political imagination by repeating it over and over again and getting large swathes of the electorate to buy it. So what do they do now that the President of the United States is African American (disproving the old Nixonian era premise that Democrats only supported civil rights to get votes?) What do they do now that the President might be leading the most bank-friendly (which pisses me off ) administration in history? What do they do now that the President has shown himself willing to do (an violent incursion into Pakistan without Pakistani sanction or knowledge apparently) what his Republican predecessor could not?

The Republican panic amongst formerly bold-talking candidates like Pawlenty, Romney and others seems to be the realization that they cannot take a political opponent like the President to task on the resolution of issues or enacting of policies so similar to their own -if not in letter, then in consequence. Healthcare Reform might have been a nice wedge issue to resurrect in 2012, but it’s the law of the land now (as little as it actually is and actually does,) and nobody is excited to argue for the repeal of legislation that outlaws quasi-criminal consumer fraud like rescission that literally kills Americans when Insurance companies decide it’s cheaper to let a citizen die (you know, those real “death panels” that are called accounting departments at HMOs.) Romney in particular won’t have a credible thing to say in opposition of Healthcare Reform, -his strategists could tell him to accuse President Obama and Nancy Pelosi of copying his idea and success… but where does that get Romney in the larger GOP picture? The Right has opposed the very process of Health Care Reform. Expanding healthcare coverage has never come up as a goal during a Republican administration, only on the agendas of certain Republican Governors.

There are other troubling issues about this President that will never be raised (at least not by his opposition) such as the fact that he hasn’t overturned any of the expansions in Presidential powers the Republicans (in office) insist are still necessary (I’ll be writing more about this on July 4th) and that render the whole of the Constitution, optional at best for a sitting President. This is, for all the legitimate and all the disingenuous criticism levied against this administration, the absolute worst thing the Obama administration has done: Every day that secret laws and powers stay on the books, or the provisos allowing for secrecy sit unaddressed, the Republic exists in name only.
I stupidly expected a Republican, or at least a Libertarian to lead the charge on this issue. Naive, I know. Even the American Left has refused to point out the irony behind our current state of affairs: The President needs a warrant to search my house, but he has the power to have me, an American citizen assassinated, legally, without anyone knowing. It’s true, look it up.

Damn Dick Cheney and his servile asshole shadow government. Damn John Yoo and his sycophantic devotion to the presidency: The next time he wants to overcompensate for his ethnicity, I hope he has the decency to leave the rule of law out of it. Damn President Obama for not overturning these secret monarchial instruments immediately. (…More on July 4th)

…Back to the President’s apparent rising fortune due to his assassination of Osama Bin Laden: The trouble with this sort of thinking by Republican strategists and candidates is that Democrats rarely seem to be able to win on wars or foreign policy alone (unless you’re FDR in which case you were able to leverage the war against unemployment to a positive degree,) regardless of their actual record, just as Republicans never see to be able to capitalize on sound fiscal policy in practice: Case in point, Ross Perot or not, at some point, somebody, some journalist or pundit is going to have to concede that President George Herbert Walker Bush raised taxes, -something anathemic to a lifelong, big business Republican and he thereby lost his reelection bid. Bush 41 raised taxes because it was necessary, and he knew it was political suicide when he did it. Republicans should be proud of that. It’s never acknowledged, but the economic recovery (in some sectors not all) and subsequent record setting expansion (in some sectors not all) under the Clinton administration was due in some large part to Bush 41 essentially capitulating to reality, and most importantly, putting the country’s future ahead of his own political fortunes.

-and here’s a revelation. I voted for the man in 1988. I, a poor kid from the South Bronx, registered to vote by ACORN… Me, a far Left Liberal, Progressive from a Democratic household, whose mother was a Kennedy and Civil Rights-era immigrant voted for a Republican.
It was a throwaway term I remembered from sixth grade, a silly but catchy two word aphorism I remembered from a class report I had to write for school on the Republican candidates in the 1980 primaries. “Voodoo Economics.”
With that, I knew that later catchphrases like “Read my lips, no new taxes!” were just campaign talk. There was an intellect there, in the mind of that ex CIA head, that former ambassador, and former WWII pilot that let me understand Bush was not a reductivist like Reagan, but also that he was not Michael Dukakis. Dukakis, who for all his ideological strengths and commonality with me, just did not convince me that he had the managerial capacity to get the country through the next four years, a horrible time post Reaganomics for youth, -my remaining time in college and what would be my first two years out of school.
I didn’t see the Gulf War coming, but even in this; he chose the stability of a living known threat in Saddam Hussein, to the upheaval and interminable conflict and bloodshed the U.S. is ironically embroiled in now thanks to the policies of his son’s administration. Bush 41 fought a war for oil and called it a war for Kuwati freedom, -I’ll never forgive him for that lie and the bombing campaign, -neither will the Iraqi people.
But Republicans will never forgive him for raising taxes.
Democrats, and many close friends on the Left have always expressed shock and even disgust when I tell them that I voted for the elder Bush, citing Panama, citing Iraq. When I point out President Bill Clinton’s unrestricted use of our armed forces, and his bombing of Iraq they look at me as if I took some cheap shot at them: -All I’m shooting down is a misperception that still persists along party lines, sometimes furthered by the parties themselves. Democratic Presidents may run as sober advocates of peace and diplomacy, but they are no less likely to set our formidable military loose on foreign countries.
It was a Democratic President that dropped the atomic bomb, -twice.
Bush 41 exerted an intellect barely masked by the shucksy/folksy pretensions recommended by his PR men. The man was a nerd, and I respected him for that. I always side with the smartest guy in the room who makes his point with facts, -not the guy who says he’s the smartest guy. All we can hope for after election day, is that a President makes policy decisions that put the nation first with our collective futures and wellbeing in mind.

Better dead than Red” may as well be a rallying cry among Democrats and the sane in America today. It’s what things have come to. You can thank the activity around Sarah Palin for a lot of it. She was a calculated and cynical choice for a VP candidate that frankly endangered the nation, I don’t care how nice, feisty, down-to-earth anyone thinks she is. As many people as she energizes, she appears to motivate far many more to ridicule and stand against her, and by extension the GOP. She is the latest avatar of an anti-intellectualism on the Right that is disgusting to Americans like me: It’s a gambit I want to see disappear from American politics. Nobody should be proud of their ignorance or simplicity if they are running for any office, and none of us, on the Right or the Left should stand for it.
Many of us on the Left have been reduced to not so much as consider the “opposition.” There shouldn’t be an opposition ultimately. We shouldn’t be able to make up our minds so far in advance, with so little thought or examination of the candidates. The bottom line is Democrats should have to work for my votes too. They shouldn’t be able to count on their opposition being so uniformly outside the center that I have to vote for whatever alternative presents itself, and I tell you that in the case of a Sarah Palin, I’d make sure I was there bright and early to vote for another candidate.

Certainly there are issues that are deal breakers for many citizens, but the Right has become so recklessly puritanical that they will at times attack their own, robbing us of potentially strong legislators and leaders. There are no moderates left, no dissenters, at least none that are welcome in the GOP. When you consider the irresponsible and issueless campaigning strategies like the “Swift Boat” promotion, the GOP encounters opposition from voters like me even after they “win” an election.

A Republican figured out how to make healthcare reform actually work in his state, another managed, (for a time) to get blanket medical coverage for children in hers. Why don’t they and their concerns, and more importantly their abilities have an open home in their own party?

The country is not as divided as special interests and the elites (--The real elites, not some chatterbox who drives a Prius or a Hummer and reads The New Yorker or the Economist, I’m talking about really Rich people) would have us believe.

You and I are not so far apart that a label or party brand should stop us from voting for the same candidate. We want to live, and find happiness and be safe. There’s so much more to running this country than politicians would have us believe. No party should be so far from the center of our hearts and minds; so ideologically doctrinaire that it cannot create policy that serves nothing other than pronouncements and supports nothing but internecine party divisions.

I’m not a contrarian, not where it’s important anyway. I am a Liberal, I am a Progressive, and I vote Democrat most of the time out of a dearth of choice. –Why isn’t there someone other than Lincoln Chaffee or Christine Todd Whitman in the red column who could get my vote today?
It’s ridiculous.

When I write long screeds like this, I like to remember Jack Kemp. I doubt he and I could have agreed on much, -except jobs and civil rights. He may have gotten my vote in the ’88 if I had been able to vote in a Republican primary, (another stupid wrinkle in our system.) When he ran with Dole in ‘96, I wondered openly how they could have gotten that year’s ticket “upside down.”

Maybe for once, it shouldn’t be about winning arguments in America, but really presenting the people with ideas instead of emotions and targets. After all, you can win an argument and be absolutely, fundamentally wrong. We’ve all done it. People who are married do it all the time: Make the issue in question emotional, or about something else altogether and you can shut another person down and walk away leaving nothing resolved except the echo of your own voice drowning out the facts.
While we’re trying to win arguments with each other, the clock is running down, our problems are getting worse and nothing is getting done.
I’m asking everyone in this country to wonder aloud and with their neighbors and the people on the street, and out on the road, “What good is a two party system, when there isn’t any real choice to make?”
Picking your party as a first resort or a last resort is not a decision.
That’s not choosing.
That’s going along with the herd.

We’re not donkeys. We’re not elephants.
We’re Americans.
We’re human beings.


Monday, May 02, 2011

Buried at Sea.

Knowing that you were about to be taken out of this world must have been real tough, as Navy SEALs closed in on your mansion Mr. Bin Laden. The fear you felt must have been unimaginably terrible and for that I have no sympathy, only a kind of grim glee. I long ago reserved my tears for the human beings who jumped to their deaths on September 11th, -martyred as unwilling participants in your attempts at global symbolism. You saw great value in killing people on their way to work around the world.

You had marshalled your considerable wealth to kill as many people as you could around the world to make a point to governments you formerly collaborated with for the last twenty five years. You killed people working at embassies.

Now, you're dead.

The world will not be thrust back into the 15th century, or whatever it is you were trying to bring about with your sad, repressive brand of religious fundamentalism.

The United States Armed Forces, in its great wisdom, denied you the moral high ground of having your body desecrated, and instead condescended to your own traditions.

Your chapter is closed.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Show Us Your Papers Mr. Trump.

“To be insulted by these fascists, is so degrading,” goes a song by David Bowie off of his Scary Monsters LP in 1980. A noted socialite millionaire and let’s be honest, Reality TV buffoon has been grabbing the mic a lot recently: New York’s own Donald Trump. We couldn’t get straight answers on anything the last administration did behind closed doors, but now a sitting President, duly elected, has had to produce papers for the first time in history to prove his right to be called an American citizen at all, -and consequently prove he is the President we all know he was elected to be in 2008. It’s no coincidence that this also happens to be the first African-American Commander-in-Chief. A coincidence ceases to be such, when it is in fact the reason behind an event.

Emily at The Vigil blog, posted a humbling outrage at this ongoing nonsense, along with a video that shows how far we’ve come as a republic, and how far many of our fellow citizens have to go in order to catch up with the simple promises of our Constitution. Emily’s post explains, once again, why this whole birther nonsense is just another tired instance of people camouflaging racism as “procedure” or “due diligence:”
Sadly, it’s nothing new is it? Just the same old tired racist crap.

I’ve got a request of my own, since I, like French writer Balzac long before me, suspect that behind every great fortune there is a great crime. My request is simple: Show us your papers Mr. Trump.

It shouldn’t be much of a hardship at all since Donald Trump recently said he would divulge all of his finances once the long form birth certificate (read “papers”) were produced by the President when he was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos.

Show us your papers, Mr. Trump.

Show us how you make and hide all that money from the public, the IRS, your debtors and let, as you yourself have suggested, “the experts decide.”


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Victory for ‘No Nonsense’ in Arizona… for Now.

I have always said that I’ll support Conservatives when they act like Conservatives (as long as it’s not in contradiction of my core philosophical beliefs.) Even as a pro-union, pretty-far-Left Liberal, who tends to vote for Democratic candidates fairly consistently, I still see a dire need in this country for Constitution-minded, small government, pro-small business, pro-individual politicians interested in making the Republic work for the people by enabling competition on the fairest, most level field achievable under law. Someone has to promote those perspectives with muscular clarity, because the Liberals and Progressives will forever be focused elsewhere necessarily, so that the poor aren’t legislated into slavery at the very least.

Teddy Roosevelt has been dead a long, long time.

Voting for Democratic candidates shouldn’t be a no-brainer for me, or for anyone. We’re Americans. We should have to make a well thought out choice between at least two distinct visions for policy and legislation. Sadly, the Republican Party, which has been the self-identified center of Conservative policy in America for several decades, only seems to stand against bureaucracy, subsidies, and expansion of government powers when its candidates and its tiny minority of super wealthy constituents can’t benefit from said bureaucracy, subsidies, and expansion of government powers. The same relativity is consistently applied to Conservative support for deregulation.
That leaves me with no choice at all as a citizen. Democrats should have to work hard for my votes and not rest assured simply because New York State always goes blue come election time. Hopefully, someday people like Lincoln Chaffee won’t get run out of the Grand Old Party simply for standing on principle. …Which brings me to Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona.
Yesterday Governor Brewer vetoed two bills that seemed all-but-law-before-the-fact as they sailed toward her desk from the Conservatives in the Arizona state legislature. The "birther bill," which theatrically and ceremoniously mandated various proofs of U.S. citizenship for candidates running for President, had never been anything but a sad embarrassing ploy to keep the very idea of Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship a live subject for discussion among people looking to neutralize him politically. The bill insists upon, among other things, that long-form birth certificates, baptismal certificates, proofs of circumcision, all be put on the state ballot. The birther bill was a puerile attempt by Arizona legislators to put an asterisk on the Obama Presidency: -this from politicians who claim to oppose unnecessary bureaucracy at every turn?.. -except apparently when it enables harassment of their political opposition.
In what I considered to be one of the most surprising recent moves by any Governor, Brewer, (who made national headlines last year for signing a draconian state law cracking down on illegal immigrants,) vetoed the birther bill. The governor’s reasoning? "(it) could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions." -Applause please.
The other bill before Governor Brewer had nothing to do with ongoing partisan silliness and the predictably racist nativism that had accompanied the historic election of an African-American President in 2008. This bill was a proposed gun law that would have allowed firearms on college campuses. This was such a staggeringly idiotic policy move on the part of the Arizona legislature that it almost merits no comment at all, and yet it would have flown in Arizona. Governor Brewer, in a moment of admirable sobriety and decency, vetoed that bill also.

The second veto was more surprising than the first, because surely by saying “no” once, Brewer understood she had bought herself some political capital to say “yes” to any remaining proposal in a form of disingenuous compromise between two controversial bills: a type of compromise that is often little more than a calculated “Coke or Pepsi” ruse when it comes to lawmaking in America.

I thank you Governor Jan Brewer, as a citizen of your country. I thank you because although I don’t live in Arizona, I may have to visit it again one day. I’d like to think that there is no place in the United States whereupon the laws are so alien, so opposed to what we all know are our common notions of decency that there may as well be walled borders to separate the irrational from the sane along the interstate.

Now about all that anti-immigration legislation Madame Governor...

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