Showing posts with label campaign. Show all posts
Showing posts with label campaign. Show all posts

Monday, August 15, 2016

Politics in the age of short-fingered vulgarians

My wife thought I was having a stroke.

There I stood in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fair, mouth agape, jaw slacked. My eyes must have been a little glazed over. I stared at the Republican Party of Iowa booth.

Actually, I stared at the Crooked Hillary photo booth. That stood in front of and perpendicular to the life-sized Donald Trump cutout, where bunches of good Iowa people were lining up to take a picture with the cardboard candidate.

I found myself compelled to take pictures of the people taking pictures, if for no other reason but to reality-check myself that this campaign -- this insane presidential contender -- was really happening, and that a formerly mainstream political party had entered the terminal stage of a decades-long descent into bat-shit madness.

THIS COARSE display . . . this supreme unseriousness and spleen venting . . . this is how the the government becomes delegitimized (see Obama Derangement Syndrome) and the country becomes ungovernable. This is how we lose faith in democracy, and how we cast off all our hopes for the future.

This is so beneath us as Americans. We are so beneath us, at least beneath our better selves, as Americans.

This is how everybody becomes The Other, and this is how opposing political parties become Lebensunwertes Leben

How damned sad that what's left of Republicanism sounds so much more serious in the original German.

The Real Donald J. Trump -- star of stage, screen, divorce court and bankruptcy -- would sound just as nuts in Classical Latin, alas.

As we were leaving the fair Sunday, I asked my wife whether this would be the last Iowa State Fair we'd go to without having to get a passport or obtain a visa. Would Iowa end up in the Republic of Heartland, while Nebraska joined with the Dakotas in the new Canadian province of South Manitoba? Would the United States still be united in 2017, somehow, despite Trump ginning up panic and rage among the booboisie about the "rigged election"?

Could be a hell of a "reality show."

Call it The End of the World as We Know It.

And we feel . . . pissed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Now that Bobby Jindal has been reduced to bouncing the rubble of his native Louisiana after nearly eight years as governor, it's time for a new challenge.

Finishing off the United States of America.

We now know officially what we previously held as common knowledge -- Louisiana's worst governor ever (and believe me, that's saying something) intends to knock James Buchanan off his lowly throne as worst president of the United States. Ever.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a one-time rising star in the Republican Party now struggling to become one again, announced Wednesday that he is running for president in 2016.

Jindal made his entry into the race on Twitter, ahead of a planned formal announcement in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner later this afternoon.

There had been little doubt that the 44-year-old second-term governor would run. He has already traveled multiple times to early-primary states -- spending 45 percent of his days outside of Louisiana last year. And this year, some of Jindal's top state-government aides left to join his presidential "exploratory committee."

Jindal becomes the first Indian American to ever be a serious candidate for president. But at this point, his chances of winning the GOP nomination seem extraordinarily low.
WE CAN only hope, Washington Post. We can only hope.

But there's reason to hope the worst ever governor of Louisiana hasn't a snowball's chance in Hades of becoming the worst ever president of the United States, judging by the less than auspicious goings-on on the candidate's official Facebook page.

BETWEEN the open mockery by detractors and at least one instance of a supporter calling President Obama "the Muslin Arabian prick that's in the White House," this campaign should be as entertaining as (God willing) it is doomed.

Get your popcorn now. You won't want to miss a minute of this one . . . because you gotta laugh to keep from crying.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Never mind the bollocks

Because we Americans seem to be, at heart, a most unserious people, we have outraged national campaigns over this.

A naughtily named new flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, "Schweddy Balls," has inspired a national boycott call and hungry curiosity in Omaha, as elsewhere.

Members of want the ice cream company to stop making the flavor.

The limited-edition flavor, launched this month, is a tribute to "Saturday Night Live." The name refers to a 1998 sketch in which Alec Baldwin played holiday goodie baker Pete Schweddy.

Monica Cole, director of the online activist campaign, said she's seen the skit, but she's not laughing at it or its namesake dairy treat.

"We find it vulgar, not what we would like our children to be seeing or asking for at the supermarket or a Ben & Jerry's outlet," Cole said from the group's headquarters in Tupelo, Miss.

-- Omaha World-Herald,
Sept. 24, 2011
But not this.
Black babies are dying in Omaha.

That's the simple, straightforward message the group of about 40 people — most of them black women — had to work with. Their assignment was to take 10 minutes to come up with a way of spreading that message to the people who need to hear it.

The fact that the infant mortality rate is high among blacks in Omaha was no surprise to many of those at a community forum earlier this week at the Turning Point campus in north Omaha. That for every 1,000 black babies born in Douglas County, more than 14 will die in their first 12 months.

Or that the rate is three times higher than the county's white infant mortality rate: 4.7 deaths per 1,000 babies.

But a Douglas County Health Department map showing that the highest concentration of baby deaths was near 33rd and Lake Streets, in the area around Salem Baptist Church, surprised Thelma Sims, director of the Salem Children's Center.

Sims first saw the map about a month and a half ago.

"I was really devastated and sad," she said.

She lives and works in the area but hadn't known that from 2005 through 2009 the neighborhood's infant mortality rate was 27 to 33 deaths per 1,000 births — in the range of the rates seen in Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Kyrgyzstan.

Rates are harder to grasp than actual numbers, so when looking at the state's vital statistics for 2005-2010, for example, you find that 113 black infants died in Douglas County during that period.

Of those, the leading causes of death were listed as sudden infant death syndrome, 21; maternal complications of pregnancy, 20; prematurity, 16; and birth defect, 14.
-- Omaha World-Herald,
Sept. 24, 2011
Really, America?


On this ship of fools, steerage is a dangerous place to book passage. Obviously.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sick bastards = the new normal

See this billboard in Grand Junction, Colo.?

From what I can remember of my college American-history coursework, this would be at least as nasty as any cartoon ever drawn of an American president by an opponent who absolutely, positively hated his guts. Maybe a little more nasty.

It's as nasty as anything the Federalists aimed at the Democratic-Republicans. As over the top as anything the Know-Nothings threw at . . .well, anybody. As nasty as anything a South Carolina Democrat threw at Abraham Lincoln before South Carolinians unilaterally declared him Not Our President and shot up Fort Sumter.

By the time people hate their government -- and its leader -- so much that they're depicting the president of the United States as an Islamic suicide bomber, a stereotypical gay man, a gangster and a Pancho Villa-knockoff Mexican bandit, I think it's safe to say the country is sitting on a powder keg. And here comes a bunch of tea-party crazies knocking flint and steel together.

ACCORDING TO The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, the billboard came from the “constitutionalist libertarian” mind of "artist" Paul Snover. He told the newspaper he wasn't "allowed to say" who bankrolled it.

The billboard, erected along the I-70 Business Loop between 28 1/2 and 29 roads sometime Monday, depicts the four “Obamas” sitting around a table with playing cards showing only sixes bunched in groups of three.

Also on the table is a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a liberty bell, a toy soldier and a statue of Justice holding a balance.

Beneath the Obama caricatures are numerous rats, some of which are labeled as the IRS, trial lawyers, the EPA and the Fed. Sitting above all that is a line, “Vote DemocRAT. Join the game,” which is positioned between two vultures, one of which is labeled the U.N. and the other with the name Soros, a reference to George Soros, a major national Democratic financial supporter.

THE ARTICLE in The Daily Sentinel also gives us some idea of the contempt Snover -- who has described himself as a supporter of tea-party organizations and Glenn Beck's "9/12" movement -- has for the country's duly-elected government:
“The Constitution has been thrown in the trash and burned by our very own government and we the people watched TV while America burned! The enemy is not at the gate, it is a cancer within our own borders,” Snover wrote on the Mesa County Second Amendment Task Force website. “From what I have learned of history and what I see going on in all levels of government, I can but conclude that there is no constitutional republic any more, only a sick tyrannical twisted dictatorship."
IS THIS what tea partiers see as "American values," as opposed to "Marxist" ones?

That Grand Junction billboard and its creator's paranoid screeds are what "patriots" think is appropriate public discourse today? Goodness, what would tea-party favorite John Adams say about this kind of thing?

I think I have the answer to that.

He'd call it sedition, and they'd all be in jail right now.

Be careful what you ask for when you "take back America," people. You just might get it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We hate us! We really hate us!

Well, this is discouraging.

Not surprising, not by a long shot, but discouraging nevertheless.

Last night, this account of the Delaware U.S. Senate debate went up on
The New York Times website. It describes the knives-and-bludgeons gutter fight between tea-party pin-up Christine O'Donnell and her Democratic foe, Chris Coons, where we see the candidates defined, on one hand, as the Red Menace and, on the other, as a papist puppet ready to impose the will of the Vatican upon an oppressed American public.

I can't wait for Nov. 2, can you? From The Caucus blog on the Times' site:
Christine O’Donnell, the Republican Delaware Senate candidate, and her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, hurled personal attacks at each other in a nationally televised debate Wednesday night.

A feisty, aggressive Ms. O’Donnell called Mr. Coons a Marxist whose beliefs came from a socialist professor and said he would “rubber stamp” the policies of the Democrats in Washington. Mr. Coons raised questions about whether Ms. O’Donnell’s faith would drive her positions on social issues like abortion, prayer and evolution.

Pressed by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Ms. O’Donnell refused to say whether she believed evolution was a myth, saying that “what I believe is irrelevant.” As she did throughout the first half of the debate, Ms. O’Donnell quickly tried to return the focus to Mr. Coons, saying, “I would argue there are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist belief.”
THE DESPAIRING thing about this account isn't that politicians play fast and loose with facts. The despairing thing about this account is that it's, I believe, a pretty fair illustration of exactly how divided, embittered, hateful and raring for a fight we are in America.

Back in September, I thought Jimmy Carter probably was engaging in some slight hyperbole when he said the country is Civil War polarized.

"This country has become so polarized that it's almost astonishing," he told NBC anchorman Brian Williams. "Not only with the red and blue states, President Obama suffers from the most polarized situation in Washington that we have ever seen -– even maybe than the time of Abraham Lincoln and the initiation of the war between the states."

THE MORE I think about it, though, the less I think the former president was engaging in hyperbole.

We've gone through bad times in this nation since 1865. We've fought over communism and Vietnam and civil rights. We muddled through 1968. The constitution survived Watergate.

Back then, however, we had a center -- both socially and politically. We had some degree of bipartisanship, a working across party lines, in the nation's capital.

NOW, we have two extremes. The center did not hold, and there's no Abraham Lincoln in sight.

The economy is as bad as it has been since World War II, people are hurting, people are scared, we're post-9/11, we're at war, we're all going broke, and the sexual revolution has laid waste to the American family. And on top of all that, we're at loggerheads over mutually exclusive notions of "how shall we live, then."

And we hate one another. We really, really hate one another.

Hang on. It's going to get ugly before whatever happens, happens.

All we need is a spark. God only knows what that will be.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The world's second-oldest profession

The next time you hear a Republican say his party is looking out for ordinary folk just like you, remind yourself that he's a damned liar.

Also remind yourself that you don't matter, that the whole political system is set up to screw you and screw you good, and that there will be no meaningful reform of, well . . . anything if there's big money on the side of the status quo.

HONEST TO GOD, Republicans are so shameless they don't even go off the record when they talk to The Wall Street Journal about workin' hard to stay the bankers' bitch:
In discussions with Wall Street executives, Republicans are striving to make the case that they are banks' best hope of preventing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats from cracking down on Wall Street.

GOP strategists hope to benefit from the reaction to the White House's populist rhetoric and proposals, which range from sharp critiques of bonuses to a tax on big Wall Street banks, caps on executive pay and curbs on business practices deemed too risky.

Democrats have dominated Wall Street's fund-raising circles in recent elections. Mr. Obama himself raised millions of dollars from employees of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and other Wall Street firms.

Now, at least some Wall Street executives have reduced their political contributions to the Democratic Party and its candidates, according to fund-raising reports and interviews with executives at financial-services firms.

Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio made a pitch to Democratic contributor James Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of J.P. Morgan, over drinks at a Capitol Hill restaurant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Boehner told Mr. Dimon congressional Republicans had stood up to Mr. Obama's efforts to curb pay and impose new regulations. The Republican leader also said he was disappointed many on Wall Street continue to donate their money to Democrats, according to the people familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for J.P. Morgan declined to comment.

"I sense a lot of dissatisfaction and a lot of buyer's remorse on Wall Street," said Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the second-ranking House Republican and a top Wall Street fund-raiser for his party.
THE DEMOCRATS, of course, wasted no time in going all Huey P. Long on the GOP -- that is, if the Kingfish had used words like "symbiotic":
The White House referred calls seeking comment on Wall Street donors to the Democratic National Committee. A DNC spokesman said: "It's not surprising that Republicans are seeking money from the same banking industry they are the champions of. The relationship between Wall Street and Republicans is symbiotic."
THIS WOULD be funny if it weren't so Orwellian. Think 1984, Ministry of Truth.

The Democrats, you see, took home most of the Wall Street money during the 2008 campaign. And if the DNC spokesman's name happened to be Winston Smith, I'm reaching for the Early Times right now.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Old times there are not forgotten. . . .

In all the sordid racial history of the American South, one taboo was always powerful enough to kill.

The act of it was strictly illegal. In 1955, in the Mississippi Delta, the mere thought that a 14-year-old black boy might have had it on his mind put Emmitt Till in his grave. What was left of him.


If all the racial bugaboos of the segregated South had a corresponding curse word, miscegenation would be the F-word, the C-word, the MF-word and the S-word all rolled into one. Especially if we're talking a black man marrying, having sex with, dating or just looking wrong at a white woman.

(White men having their way with black women -- so long as no wedding vows were exchanged -- garnered de jure disapproval but a de facto wink and a grin.)


The feds said states' rights didn't include forbidding interracial matrimony. But the toxic enculturation of a Jim Crow society remains lodged in many a Southern mind, not unlike a malignant and inoperable tumor.

The fear of miscegenation is the kind of carefully taught evil that wormed its way into the subconscious of Southerners -- of Americans -- of a certain age and older. It gets beneath one's beliefs and convictions; it adheres itself to Pavlovian recesses of the subconscious, the ones governing what you feel in that split second before moral rectitude kicks in.

IT'S AN UGLY TABOO that feeds on the ugliest parts of our human fallenness.

Which, of course, makes exploiting voters' ingrained race-mixing revulsion a no-brainer for the savvy-but-unethical political operative.

And, in case you haven't noticed, there are just a few of those in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. It looks like a few more have just crawled out from under a rock in Baton Rouge to take racially charged shots at the city's African-American mayor, as reported by The Advocate:

Mayor-President Kip Holden on Friday said he is calling for a criminal investigation into a political mailer that alleges he had an affair with a married woman and was beaten up by her husband.

The mailer was in the form of a letter signed by the Rev. Charles Matthews, who Holden said does not exist.

The mailer includes a photo of Holden with a “black eye and busted lip” that he said is actually a doctored version of the picture on the mayor’s Web site.

Holden acknowledged he did suffer a black eye last year when he tripped over a piece of carpet, but noted he did not get a busted lip from the accident.

The mailer claims the woman’s husband punched Holden in the mouth and eye, and police have refused to serve as his bodyguard “on moral grounds and a strong belief that someone is going to get injured or worse, die.”
THE NEWSPAPER, truth be told, sanitized the story quite a bit. It didn't even touch the miscegenation angle, which the political mailer most certainly did -- including a photo of the black mayor and the white woman in question. Here's some purple prose directly from the "reverend's" word processor:
Pulling his pants up with one hand, grabbing his expensive alligator shoes with the other, Mayor Melvin "Kip" Holden ran from the residence, but not before a 5' 10" Caucasian man punched him in the eye and mouth (see picture). A reliable source reported seeing the Mayor's mouth bleeding as he hurried to a black Lincoln with a public license plate.

Standing in the door of his residence the man watched the Lincoln speed away driven by the mayor's bodyguard, an on duty Baton Rouge police officer. With tears in his eyes, he turned and stared at his nude spouse.
EXPENSIVE alligator shoes.

Caucasian man, tears in eyes.

Nude spouse.

You didn't see any of that ugliness in The Advocate's "mainstream" reportage. Nor did the paper point out the staggering irony of it all -- the political opponent Holden suspects is responsible for the flier is . . . black.

Holden said the allegations are ridiculous, and are obviously the handiwork of one of his opponents in the mayor’s race and their operatives.

“I have had the same four police officers with me since I took office. The only one that is no longer working with me is Eugene Smith, who said he needed additional time with his family after his father was killed in an accident,” Holden said.

Holden said criminal charges may be filed as a result of the smear tactic. He said he’s contacted the state Attorney General’s Office and the FBI.

Because the mailer was sent via U.S. mail and contained false information, federal mail fraud charges could be pending against the perpetrators, Holden said.

Holden also suggested that Metro Councilman Byron Sharper may be involved because he called the mayor’s office earlier this week and warned that “we’re going to drop a bomb on you.”

Sharper could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Holden said Metro Councilman Sharper’s brother, Kurt, has distributed the fliers in public buildings.

“We have provided his identity to law enforcement as a source of information and involvement,” Holden said in the statement.
PERHAPS SOMEBODY'S trying to get both white men and black women mad at the mayor. I mean . . . y'think?

Then, to throw in a red flag for all the fire-breathers among the Religious Right, the smear piece declares, ostensibly unironically:

The FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL, THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM, Local Ministers, and the Metro Council recently defeated Mayor Holden's attempt to pass a blanket declaration as to Baton Rouge being a sanctuary for homosexuals through his One Baton Rouge resolution. Please join with us in demanding legal and moral conduct from our public officials.
YOU BET, podna. Pleas for legal and moral rectitude in a sleazy, racist flier allegedly produced by black pols stooping to Kluxer tactics against a black mayor. Only in Louisiana. . . .

Only in Louisiana, dammit. Isn't anyone down there the least bit ashamed yet of what they tolerate and who they vote into office?

Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Barack Obama as . . . The Soprano

This we may now assume: The next president of the United States won't know Shiite from Shinola.

ALL BECAUSE Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama -- obviously the innocent victim of some Looziana-style justice -- doesn't have the stones to deal with his Reverend Whack Job problem once and for all. And if how a man reacts when it all hits the fan shows us what he's made of -- and, indeed, where his convictions truly lie -- electing the doddering, ill-tempered Republican poster child for "senior moments" instead of yet another doctrinaire social-left Democrat probably will end up being a wash for the nation.

That, of course, is tragic in its own right. What can one expect, though, in a nation now politically riven between fascist-leaning, tinfoil-hat wearing GOP true believers and "progressive" Democrats who can muster true passion and outrage only when someone suggests women ought not have the "right" to murder their unborn offspring or, relatedly, suggests that f***ing is not an entitlement.

DO I UNDERSTAND this correctly?

Monday, not only did the Rev. Jeremiah Wright go before the National Press Club and defend some of the more offensive and crazy things he's said in the past, but then insinuated that Obama was disingenuous in the opprobrium he heaped upon his ex-pastor and spiritual mentor's rhetorical excesses.

And Wright couldn't leave bad enough alone, either. No, he had to stick the shiv in one of his own sheep's back as he threw Obama under the bus -- all the while clowning, mugging and mocking like some sort of ecclesiastical Huey Long in blackface. With security provided by the Nation of Islam -- that's Louis Farrakhan's Black Muslims to you and me.

Now, after all that, what you see in the above MSNBC video is all the fury Obama could muster?

Here's how The Associated Press reported the response from the junior U.S. senator from Illinois:

"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday," Obama told reporters at a news conference.

After weeks of staying out of the public eye while critics lambasted his sermons, Wright made three public appearances in four days to defend himself. The former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has been combative, providing colorful commentary and feeding the story Obama had hoped was dying down.

"This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright," Wright told the Washington media Monday. "It has nothing to do with Senator Obama. It is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition."

Obama told reporters Tuesday that Wright's comments do not accurately portray the perspective of the black church.

"The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago," Obama said of the man who married him.

Wright criticized the U.S. government as imperialist and stood by his suggestion that the United States invented the HIV virus as a means of genocide against minorities. "Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything," he said.

Obama said he heard that Wright had given "a performance" and when he watched tapes, he realized that it more than just a case of the former pastor defending himself.

"What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that contradicts what I am and what I stand for," Obama said.

In a highly publicized speech last month, Obama sharply condemned Wright's remarks. But he did not leave the church or repudiate the minister himself, who he said was like a family member.

On Tuesday, Obama sought to distance himself further from Wright.

"I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia explaining that he's done enormous good. ... But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS. ... There are no excuses. They offended me. They rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced."

"At a certain point if what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally and then he questions whether or not you believe it — in front of the National Press Club — then that's enough," Obama continued.

OBAMA SAID he was outraged, but his demeanor and reserve belied that notion. Instead, Obama just looked whipped.

He looked like a man who was despondent over a political setback, maybe even a fatal one. He looked like a man who'd just been "owned" in an argument. He looked like a man who just got his ass whipped.

That's the problem. His is the "outrage" of personal setback; it is not the outrage of someone who has seen something bigger than himself attacked and trashed. It is not the outrage of someone who fights for something dearer to himself than himself.

Lord knows it wasn't the righteous fury of a committed Christian who'd just seen the gospel cheapened and violated by the hateful, crazy antics of one of its ministers. Perhaps Obama might have summoned that kind of righteous anger if Rev. Wright had attacked "reproductive rights" instead.

AND ISN'T THAT just the problem with "progressives"? In what do they believe apart from "Do what thou wilt"? For what are they willing to die? For what do they live?

Sadly, for the Democrats and for America, it has come to this: Not only can't the Dems beat something with nothing, they can't even beat nothing -- and that's exactly what the Bush-McCain GOP represents -- with nothing.

It takes a Democrat to lose to this GOP

Barack Obama is going to grow a pair, right now, and deal with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- his posturing, egomaniac ex-pastor -- or we're going to be in Iraq until we have no army left and America is left as a broke, broken and beaten country.

And if Hillary wins, things could be even worse.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank
weighed in Monday with a most depressing blog post:

Should it become necessary in the months from now to identify the moment that doomed Obama's presidential aspirations, attention is likely to focus on the hour between nine and ten this morning at the National Press Club. It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered - and added lighter fuel.

Speaking before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam official Jamil Muhammad, Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, defended the view that Zionism is racism, accused the United States of terrorism, repeated his view that the government created the AIDS virus to cause the genocide of racial minorities, stood by other past remarks ("God damn America") and held himself out as a spokesman for the black church in America.

In front of 30 television cameras, Wright's audience cheered him on as the minister mocked the media and, at one point, did a little victory dance on the podium. It seemed as if Wright, jokingly offering himself as Obama's vice president, was actually trying to doom Obama; a member of the head table, American Urban Radio's April Ryan, confirmed that Wright's security was provided by bodyguards from Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

Wright suggested that Obama was insincere in distancing himself from his pastor. "He didn't distance himself," Wright announced. "He had to distance himself, because he's a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was anti-American."

Explaining further, Wright said friends had written to him and said, "We both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected." The minister continued: "Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls."

Wright also argued, at least four times over the course of the hour, that he was speaking not for himself but for the black church.

"This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright," the minister said. "It is an attack on the black church." He positioned himself as a mainstream voice of African American religious traditions. "Why am I speaking out now?" he asked. "If you think I'm going to let you talk about my mama and her religious tradition, and my daddy and his religious tradition and my grandma, you got another thing coming."

That significantly complicates Obama's job as he contemplates how to extinguish Wright's latest incendiary device. Now, he needs to do more than express disagreement with his former pastor's view; he needs to refute his former pastor's suggestion that Obama privately agrees with him.

ON THE OTHER HAND, if Obama manages to save his campaign from Wright's one-man wrecking crew -- Live! In a speaking engagement near you! -- and if he manages to survive the John McCain (expletive deleted) storm that's headed his way, he just might end up being as spectacularly bad a president as Jimmy Carter. At best, there's no way he can live up to his billing as some sort of political messiah, which will leave his delusional hordes with a bad case of disillusionment.

Color me Not Optimistic, no matter what.

If and when the Democrat presidential candidate manages to get blown out by the GOP's McCain -- The Republicans! George W. Bush's Republicans! The morally, intellectually and spiritually bankrupt Republicans! -- this election year, I'm going to try to buy up the FDR memorabilia at the Dems' estate sale.

I'll be there early.

The Post's Eugene Robinson nails another aspect of this silly, sickening and sad spectacle.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Politics makes you stupid

This, from the New York Times, is a perfect example of why I have an almost visceral negative reaction to political activists of any sort.

It is, in a word, "idolatry":
But Mr. Richardson stopped returning Mr. Clinton’s calls days ago, Mr. Clinton’s aides said. And as of Friday, Mr. Richardson said, he had yet to pick up the phone to tell Mr. Clinton of his decision.

The reaction of some of Mr. Clinton’s allies suggests that might have been a wise decision. “An act of betrayal,” said James Carville, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton and a friend of Mr. Clinton.

“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week.

Mr. Richardson said he called Mrs. Clinton late on Thursday to inform her that he would be appearing with Mr. Obama on Friday to lend his support.

“It was cordial, but a little heated,” Mr. Richardson said in an interview.
BETRAYAL? JUDAS ISCARIOT? That kind of nuclear language over a freakin' political endorsement?

James Carville -- and, frankly, the rest of Washington, D.C., too -- needs to get a damn life. What we have here is a failure of perspective.

It's not like Richardson betrayed his lord and savior. One, Hillary Clinton -- it is obvious -- cannot even save herself, and her ex-prez hubby ain't gonna raise her campaign from the dead.

Two, Barack Obama ain't the savior, either. Saviors have no need of Bill Richardson's endorsement.

Three, Carville needs to go home, pour himself a double of something mighty fine, pat his child on the head, put on some sweet music, make out with his wife and thank God for his blessings. In that is found the meaning of life.

In the Washington fever swamps is found a bad case of nothing good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Southerners know exactly what this is

Andrew Sullivan, over at his Daily Dish, thinks the above anti-Barack Obama video is an instance of GOP "swift-boating" of the Democratic presidential candidate in the wake of the hullabaloo over his ex-pastor's sometimes-incendiary sermons.

It's not that.

"Swift-boating," named for the ginned-up controversy over 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry's days as a Navy "swift boat" commander in Vietnam, is an ideological assassination. The above hit on Obama is racial.

That makes it race-baiting, not "swift-boating." Down in Oxford, Miss. -- home of one of the video's creators, former Laura Ingraham Show producer Lee Habeeb, now an executive with the right-wing Salem Radio Network -- there is a more "colorful" term for the tactic, which is as old as Jim Crow.

The difference between "swift-boating" and race-baiting boils down to what we don't see in that odious little YouTube offering -- a single white face.

IF HABEEB and his cronies merely meant to send the message that the U.S. senator from Illinois is a wild-eyed, unpatriotic lefty, why not juxtapose the video of Obama's interviews and Wright's red-hot rhetoric with egregious clips of at least a few egregious white people through the ages?

You know, like hippie anti-war protesters from the '60s waving Viet Cong flags. Like Abbie Hoffman. Like Jerry Rubin. Like Jane Fonda in Hanoi. Or Sean Penn with Saddam.

Like the Dixie Chicks on foreign soil cracking on the neocons' lord and savior, George W. Bush.

No, instead we get "unpatriotic" images of "ingrate" black men -- Tommie Smith and John Carlos, fists raised at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City . . . Malcolm X . . . all to a Public Enemy rap soundtrack. All we needed to make the argument ideological and not racial was just a single honky.


We didn't get one.

And Habeeb and his fellow anonymous White Citizens' Council wannabes aren't fooling this Southern boy with bull hockey like this. From Jonathan Martin's blog on the Politico web site:

Asked directly if he believes Obama is a patriotic American, Habeeb said "absolutely." But he added that "his patriotism is not my kind of patriotism."

"I believe he is hiding his Marxism from the American people," Habeeb said.

And despite the inclusion of Malcolm X, the black Olympians and a rap song by Public Enemy, Habeeb claimed he was not being suggestive.

"I didn’t do this to make him like a scary black man."

LOOK FOR the head fake. The White Citizens' Councils were all about fighting commies and pinkos . . . whose tactics, we were to believe, centered on wrecking America from within through the mixing of the races.

This YouTube video was all about the "scary black man." And you can blame it all on some scary white men.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jeremiah Wright is not 'out there'

This guy in Harlem ATLAH is the real Out There deal.

the Hon. James David Manning, Ph.D., really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY hates Barack Obama, whom he calls a "long-legged freak," adding "Obama pimps white women and black woman."

Not that that's casting aspersions or anything. From the video:

I haven't trashed Obama. His African in-heat father went a whoring after a trashy white woman. He was born trash. I said he was born trash. I didn't trash him. I'm speaking the truth about him. . . . I got a word in my mouth. I said I got the word of God in my mouth. And God's not afraid of Obama or anybody else.
AND AS YOU MAY have noticed above, Harlem isn't Harlem anymore. God said.

The good reverend tells us that Harlem is now ATLAH, which means --
at least according to the Deity -- "the land where the people shall walk barefoot, because the land is holy ground."

Well, at least the Apollo Theater.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Back when I was 4 . . . and cruel

I am why the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is so angry.

I also am why it's such a tragedy that Barack Obama's friend and former pastor has let his anger -- and he does have every good reason to be damned angry -- define him.

I am white. I grew up in, and was indoctrinated by, the segregated South. I went to a legally segregated public school until fourth grade. And, as a child, everybody I knew was about as racist as a late-June day is long.

Black folks were "niggers" -- at least in the lexicon of the common . . . like me and mine. You didn't go to school with them, it was illegal to marry them, they got all the jobs that were "beneath" white people and -- when it was your time to go -- you didn't get sent on your way via the same church, funeral home or graveyard.

It's just the way things were in Baton Rouge, La., when I came on the scene 47 years ago next Monday. It remained that way, in slowly diminishing thoroughness, up to the time I reached adulthood. And some of it hangs on to this day.

THIS MORNING, the Democratic presidential candidate -- in so much hot water over what his pastor said and when did Obama know he said it -- gave a masterful speech on race relations in America. It may have been the most blunt and honest speech on the matter I've ever heard a politician give.

Louisiana Gov. Earl Long may have given a more succinct, more colorful, more imperfect and more courageous version of that speech before a wild-eyed bunch of segregationists in the state Senate, but that was nearly two years before I was born. It got him thrown in a Texas nuthouse . . . so he couldn't exercise his gubernatorial power from his rubber room.

Barack Obama, at long last, has said what so long has needed to be said . . . in the manner it needed to be said. It's important, and his life -- and my life -- testify to why it's so important.

Having been born into a racist family in a segregated state, I was indoctrinated into America's original sin from my first moments of awareness. I did about the worst thing you could do to an African-American man -- at least, the worst thing short of murder or extreme physical violence -- by the time I was 4 years old.

I remember that I was sick, and that the doctor had called in a prescription to Andrew's Rexall Drugs. In the mid-1960s, drugstores still delivered. And we all know who the "delivery boys" were, at least in the segregated South.

SOON ENOUGH, there was a knock at the door. Back then, our house had no air conditioning. On that warm day, all the windows were wide open, and there was little fear that someone was going to burst through the screen door to rob, rape and kill you.

So the delivery man heard well when I ran toward the kitchen, yelling at the top of my lungs.

"Mama, the drugstore nigger's here!"

I think my mother had decency enough to be embarrassed as the man took her money and handed over the prescription as he muttered, "I'm not a nigger." I wonder what that poor man must have felt -- what a man old enough to be my father felt -- when this little white boy was blithely, naturally as he breathed in the air, running around the house announcing the presence of the fill-in-the-blank "nigger."

What does it do to a man to be so cavalierly dehumanized even by a small child? What does it do to a small child to so cavalierly dehumanize a man he ought to be calling "sir"? At least in a more rightly ordered society.

What does it do to a country when so much of what is considered "normality" is in reality cruel and inhuman?

It warps it, is what it does. It perpetuates an endless feedback loop of dysfunction.

I grew up in a sick society, as have many in this country. It takes a lifetime of hard work, introspection and (frankly) grace to overcome that. I'm still working on it.

Barack Obama's working on it, albeit from a different angle than I am. So is, I suspect, Jeremiah Wright, who comes from the perspective of that ill-fated drugstore delivery man . . . though it's obvious he has more work to do. Hurtful things -- the immense human tragedy of America's original sin -- have molded the retired pastor and led to anger that is righteous . . . to an extent.

BUT WHEN IT defines a man -- when it defines large segments of society -- it is no longer righteous. It just adds to the tragedy. Like the tragedy of a presidential candidate potentially going down in flames because he gave an angry old friend the benefit of the doubt.

Race (and racism) always has been a complicated matter in this country. And nowhere in this country has it been more complicated than in the Deep South.

I, the Caucasian son of racist children of racist parents in a racist land, just might be -- for all I know -- related to the angry (and black) Rev. Wright. I mean, if Barack Obama is kin to Dick Cheney, anything is possible.

A great uncle of mine was disowned by his family for marrying a Creole woman in New Orleans. Disowned by my grandfather who, I'm told, used to laugh about sleeping with black women who were good enough as sexual playthings but just not good enough to be a wife.

Or to treat as a human being.

I JUST FOUND OUT I have a black first cousin on the other side of the family. I wonder how many African-American aunts or uncles I might have on the philandering grandfather's.

And I wonder whether, in some cruel twist of fate, I might have been calling my own flesh and blood "nigger" when I was 4 -- back when evil was normative.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Imprudent . . . and un-Christian, too

Do you want to give
a man who wishes others dead the raw power to make it so?

From Agence France-Presse:
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain Friday said he hoped Fidel Castro's resignation would be followed by his speedy demise, and rapped Democrat Barack Obama for offering talks with Cuba's next leader.

"Fidel Castro announced that he would not remain as president -- whatever that means," McCain said in Indianapolis.

"And I hope that he has the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon.

"But the point is, the point is that apparently he's trying to groom his brother Raul. My friends, Raul is worse in many respects than Fidel was."

In a formal written statement, McCain also took a shot at Obama, the Democratic front-runner who renewed his offer to speak to leaders of US foes without preconditions in a campaign debate with rival Hillary Clinton in Texas.

"So Raul Castro gets an audience with an American president, and all the prestige such a meeting confers, without having to release political prisoners, allow free media, political parties, and labor unions, or schedule internationally monitored free elections," McCain said.

"Senator Obama says he would meet Cuba's dictator without any such steps in the hope that talk will make things better for Cuba's oppressed people.

"Meet, talk, and hope may be a sound approach in a state legislature, but it is dangerously naive in international diplomacy where the oppressed look to America for hope and adversaries wish us ill."
I MEAN, my God! Isn't not wishing others dead something most people's mamas teach them by the time they're five?

I'm starting to think something is seriously wrong with John McCain. Seriously wrong.

This I do know: It would seem McCain is working overtime to be mean enough, deceitful enough, shady enough and just plain unhinged enough to make it possible for pro-life Catholics like myself to vote for Barack Obama with a clear conscience.

Lord have mercy on us all.

And on Fidel Castro, too.