October 2008


Broke But Unbroken

I remember watching my father take a bent nail, bend over and slowly turn the nail on the concrete floor while tapping it with a hammer.  To straighten it out.  He’d then throw it in a rusty coffee can and grab another.  My dad grew up wealthy but he’d no more throw away a perfectly good nail then he would vote Democrat.   I was eight or nine when what my father said began to matter as much as how he said it. He was a formidable figure.  He had the look that, suffice it to say, well, you did not want to disappoint. Ever.

It is interesting that arguments made today about government intervention in the banks and markets are vaguely familiar.  One thing I recall my father saying (in conversation with others) more than once was, “Roosevelt betrayed his class.”  I had not the foggiest idea what my father was talking about but I am sure (from my perspective today) that he was reflecting the sentiments and opinions of his father and of how that generation (1890-1940) of men considered and governed their world.

Broke but unbroken in 1960, my father moved his family from the country back into the city.  With no money, he went to the bank and received a loan to buy a home.  His down payment?  He said he’d paint the house. Sweat equity I guess. Sweet.   The bankers knew my family.  And he once again put on a suit and tie and practiced law.

My father had a simplistic notion about humanity.   There were two groups of people.  Them & us.  Us consisted of blood relatives.  Jepsons.  Them consisted of everyone else.  Oh, he’d toss in friends into his intimate circle but if you boiled down the stock of humanity, the only gruel that remained (critical) was family.

Social Security?  Medicare? Medicaid? Welfare?  Social assistance programs?  Student college loans?  Federal aid to the states?  Head Start? The New Deal?  The Great Society?   My father had no truck with any of it.  If he were alive today, he might vote for McCain strictly on the dated notion that Republicans are better stewards, more fiscally responsible than the profligate Democrats.  Emotionally he’d want to vote that way, intellectually he’d know there’s not a nickel’s worth of difference between the parties.

The year I was born (1949) there were approximately 149 million Americans.  Social Security was the extent of such federal “social” programs. The safety net so to speak.  If states and local communities provided social services, that was up to them.  Children born out-of-wedlock, children born impoverished, children born sick, well, that’s unfortunate but that’s the timeless human condition.  Let the families deal with it.  Now and forever more.

Another example would be the miner crushed but alive from an accident or who develops Black Lung.  Again, is that not a family or a local issue.  Why should the taxpayers of Iowa (for example) support the unnecessary progeny spawned from the irresponsible sexual behavior of the Alabama poor or the risky employment choices (mining) of the West Virginia uneducated?  Where is personal accountability?  And the weak died on the way.  As it has been since the beginning.  These were my father’s sentiments.

And now we have an America on the ropes economically.  And corporate welfare is a given.  For what else can we do? Trillions to bailout the wealthiest so the center holds, so that we can continue to drive down our expressways without being shot or mugged in our own homes from roving bands of armed thugs.  Oh, you say, I’m being an alarmist.  Perhaps.  History is replete, however, with such possibilities (examples).

Ask yourself this, why are we giving “our” money to stabilize American markets made unstable by corporate stupidity, gambling and greed?  If social order is not the reason, well, let’s conduct a grand (noble?) experiment.  Not one nickel of taxpayer money.  Let the markets adjust without federal intervention.  No loans to GM or Chrysler.  No infusion of cash into America’s banks.  No homeowner mortgage payment adjustments. There will be a self-correcting adjustment.  As it is in heaven.   “Some” will suffer but so be it.

The Republican Right gets apoplectic over welfare for the poor yet willingly (Oh, but reluctantly they claim) sticks its empty wallet out to be filled from the government coffers. Ah, sweet, hypocrisy.

I get it.  In a perfect world, every child would be born to loving, educated, fiscally prudent parents who cherish the child and who instill it with initiative, independence and self-reliance and also with a sense of community and solidarity with the nation.

I get it.  In a perfect world, our economy would always reward intelligence, initiative, creativity, ingenuity, hard work and integrity. And capital would flow accordingly.

But, alas, we do not live in the perfect world.  It is a messy, painful, often chaotic world that we humans do our best to manage.

America is broke but unbroken. And as my father decades ago took a bent nail and slowly straightened it out, let us elect Barack Obama President and give him the will, the chance to hammer the nation straight once again.

My conservative father would see the wisdom in that.

10.30.08

A Walk N’ Talk For Obama

I’ve been giving some thought to the next presidential election.  2012 is only 48 months away.  Here’s my pick for the Republicans.  It’ll be a Sarah Palin/Joe “the” Plumber Ticket.  Dumb & Plumber.  That’s right.  Dumb & Plumber.  (You heard it hear first.) It’s a natural.  What with the Republicans constantly dumbin’ down America!  Why not a presidential ticket to, like, you know,  so totally “WOW” the Republican base?  A little exorcism (religion), a little lead into gold economic policy and, whoa, hey, maybe threaten to invade Venezuela (Spread democracy, plus oil! Is that good or what?) and you’ve covered all three legs (constituencies)  of the Republican Party.

Remember the first Republican debate (so very long ago) and the moderator asked if there was anyone on the stage who didn’t embrace evolution?  Three hands (from actual 21st century Republican candidates to be President of the United States) shot up.  Science?  Who needs it?  Ha! Love it.  I’m telling you, 100 years from now when our ancestors ask, “How in the hell could America have fallen so low?”  That’s right, “Fallen.” They’ll show those Republicans hands going up (over and over again) and that will say it all.

I apologize. Sort of.  Picking on Republicans these daze is like hunting with Cheney.  Remember when our vice President shot a close (arguably, too close) friend in the head. The type of hunting that day was to take caged birds to the hunt, let’um go and blast’um out of the sky soon after release.  Not quite shootin’ apples in a barrel (my pokin’ at Republicans) but you get my point. So after this election, I’m taking a hiatus.  The Republicans will predictably turn on one another, cannibalize (Mmmm-mmm good) a few of their own, return to their think tanks and write papers on how they need more orthodoxy, more purity, much more purity in the movement. Those Republicans remaining in office will hold regular prayer breakfasts, hold their sanctimonious noses and be in the minority until the Democrats self-corrupt themselves out of office.  And so it goes.

I’ve held fund raisers (excellent reason to drink champagne) in my home this campaign season for both Barack Obama and Suzanne Kosmas who is running against the little man (“lm”), Tom Feeney. Kosmas is, to me, infinitely preferable to “lm.”  I thought him absolutely wretched (and scary) as Jeb Bush’s running mate during the Jebster’s first run at being governor. Years later he created the 24th Florida Congressional District while in the Florida House of Representatives, gerrymandering a tailor made district of Republican stalwarts.

For a Democrat to actually win the 24th two things had to occur.  A great candidate (Kosmas) had to confront a fallen Feeney.  Which indeed is the case.  The lm aspired to greatness  ( a timeless tale) and saw Jack Abramoff as his ticket to the big time. Abramoff, a corrupted Washington lobbyist,  proved to be as crooked as a barrel of guts and we are finding out exactly how much “lm” liked ‘dem barrel vittles. And so, today Kosmas has a crack at, as “they” say, of voting the bum out. Visit her website at: http://kosmasforcongress.com

And then we’ve got “Ol’Term Limits” Ric Keller of the 8th Congressional District.  Of course, once elected to office he backed off his promise to limit his service in office.  Why is that so predictable?  Keller’s big congressional achievement was the Cheeseburger-Cheeseburger Bill which “would have shielded manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of food and beverages from lawsuits blaming them for weight gain, obesity, or a health condition related to weight gain or obesity."  For the onetime Pillsbury Doughboy to have initiated the Cheeseburger-Cheeseburger Bill is laughably ironic. He is a congressional non-entity and I support his opponent.  Alan Grayson is a smart man with a good heart. Give Grayson a chance by giving him your vote. Do it once. Do it again if he’s worthy.  Cuz’ we know who ain’t.  Visit his website: http://www.graysonforcongress.com

Let’s sweep’um out and vote’um in.  Feeney and Keller out!  Elect Kosmas, Grayson and Barack Obama IN!

To that end I encourage every patriot of sound heart and sure foot to join the Walk for Obama this Saturday, October 25th.  It’s a rally and a walk to encourage early voting.  We will gather at 9:30 am at 200 North Denning Drive in Winter Park (Obama headquarters).  For those so willing, the motivated will walk a little over a mile to the Winter Park library (1.1 miles). If you have an Obama T-shirt please wear it or dress in red, white & blue!

Prior to the walk, I recommend a hearty breakfast (a chocolate malt, coffee & Eggs Benedict works for me) at the Briar Patch on Park Avenue or a sweet role and coffee at the Saturday Market and then make your way to the start point of the walk on Denning Drive. Could be fun. Make a party out of it. Get a party.  Walk N’ Talk.  It’s a stroll.

I’m already planning my celebratory victory party for November 8th but I take nothing for granted. And neither should any Democrat! Forever remember the elections of 2000 & 2004.  What profound, sad tragedies for America. It will take years to repair America from the damage of the George W. Bush administration. What man hath wrought!

I will not believe Obama elected until I read it in newspaper headlines.  Two days after the election!

Until then, walk your talk!  Be there!  Eat first.  It’s a Walk N’ Talk!

Do the Avenue afterwards.   Stroll down to Timothy’s for a look-see.  Buy art. Shop local.  It’s patriotic. You do want to be a patriot, don’t you?

10.23.08

It’s Good Vision.

A reader recently wrote and accused me of being a Fascist for supporting Barack Obama.  I found that an interesting accusation as only my dearest friends know of my latent Fascist tendencies.   It’s the uniforms, don’t-cha see.   Jodhpurs and whips and the pistols-on-the-hip thing and, oh, of course the frequent Marx Brother’s goofy hand-jive salutes, yes, by all means sign me up. Let’s have more authority in our lives.  Does that mean I have to give up wearing pajamas in public?   What kind of self-respecting Fascist wears jammies in public?  Hmmm.

Let’s go to the source.  “Fascism, which was not afraid to call itself reactionary . . . does not hesitate to call itself illiberal and anti-liberal,” said Benito Mussolini.  Hmmm.

I thought I would explain today why I support Barack Obama for President.

1.)    I am pro-choice.  I will not vote for a candidate who does not support a woman’s right to reproductive choice.  A woman’s body is her own.  She, and only she will determine for herself her future.  Period, end of story.  This is a deal-breaker for me.

2.)    I want to end the war in Iraq now.  I do not want any troops stationed in Iraq. Or, the Middle East. I remain unconvinced that our war policies in Afghanistan are wise.

3.)    I want America to be respected in the world.  I want America to be known for its ideals. Not its torture policies.  I want the Bush policy of pre-emptive, wars-of-choice against non-hostiles repudiated.  I want America to work pro-actively with both our allies and our antagonists.

4.)     I want Barack Obama elected because he is intelligent, literate, savvy and resourceful.  That he is an accomplished black man is a definite plus to me.  It will be a watershed historic moment for America, that the nation can transcend its violent history of racism and elect a qualified man to be president regardless of his color or race.  It will be an electric moment for the world, too.   America walks its talk about equality and opportunity. I will, indeed, feel enormous pride in the nation if his election comes to pass.

5.)    I want the integrity of working for the Federal government returned.  I do not want political hacks appointed to jobs in the Justice department.  I want competent, effective leaders for our government agencies (FEMA comes to mind).  I want our intelligence agencies de-politicized and America’s finest minds working to give our elected officials, accurate, factual and verifiable assessments of the world.

6.)    I want the current Republican culture that all government is suspect and therefore unworthy of support shown to be the shortsighted nonsense that it is.  I want those government agencies that have legitimate oversight and regulatory responsibilities to be reinvigorated with smart men and women to pursue a mission that prepares and protects the nation from corruption and the excesses of partisan zealotry. (Think: financial, agricultural, energy, judiciary, environmental, national parks, pharmacological and media.)

7.)    I want America’s economy to be put on a sound financial footing.  This is critical.  It is our highest and most immediate priority.

8.)    I want an energy policy that acknowledges that regardless of where we get our petroleum we are dependent on foreign oil and will be until we are not.  To that end—energy independence—I want an energy plan “Marshall Plan equivalent” that commits the nation (its resources) to securing achievable energy goals across all sectors of the American economy by 2020.  It’s good vision!

9.)    I want fewer Americans born to/into poverty.  To that end, I want birth control to be safe, available and affordable (free if necessary). I want responsible birth control taught and encouraged in America.  I want every child born in America planned and wanted.  I want to reverse Bush policies that teach/offer abstinence only as public policy.  It is an infantile, repulsive approach to human sexuality and needs to be repudiated and eliminated.  For the world, too.

10.)    I want the elimination of poverty in America to once again become a national topic of conversation.  That what the least of us experiences is a reflection on all us. And because we have failed in the past (to eliminate poverty) does not mean new and different approaches are not called for, nay, required.

I didn’t mention healthcare reform, entitlements or any other number of issues just as important or pressing.  My list of ten could have been in any order.  They happen to be in this order, as I considered them.  I believe/feel/think Barack Obama’s election will more certainly and effectively deal with these issues than a John McCain victory.  Most definitely.

One last thing.  I want full, public and exhaustive Congressional hearings on how America got into the Iraq war.  I want chapter and verse.  Same goes for our current financial meltdown.  To avoid such insanity in the future, let’s have a full accounting now.  I want hides hung on the wall.  For decades to come.

“The next step [in a Fascist movement] is to fascinate the fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other,” observed Bertrand Russell.  How prescient.  Is that Sarah Palin’s role?  To fascinate the fools?

10.16.08

Pit-bulls And Lipstick.

Boy, did I have it wrong!  And I apologize!  Sarah Palin can actually chew gum and walk, rather, talk at the same time.  Egg on my face, huh?   No, seriously Sarah Palin showed she could cram for a test and regurgitate on demand.  And that’s crucial when you’re VP and you have to uh, um, ur, hmmm, cram for a test and regurgitate.

And now the gloves come off!  John McCain’s campaign says it is no more Mister Nice Guy!  NO WAY!  He’s going to let Barack Obama know what’s what and point out to “REAL” Americans exactly what kind of candidate Obama is for  associating with known thugs and ne’er-do-well’s.  And Sarah “The Pit-bull” Palin is just the gal for that truth-tellin’ job!

Let’s recount the questionable associations and I recommend that everyone who is computer literate (sorry, John) that you Google these issues and extensively research them for yourself.  You have Reverend Wright.  Let’s not forget William Ayers.  And, of course, Tony Rezko.

It seems Reverend Wright, Obama’s former longtime minister went majorly overboard in his condemnation of America based on his personal experience as a black man (actual observations and the written factual history of slavery, Jim Crow and racism in America).  Bad, bad Reverend Wright for showing anger and frustration regarding America’s long history of racial violence and intimidation of its black citizens.  How dare you, Reverend Wright, for having the temerity in a predominantly black church to speak of injustice.  Such cheek!

But then you have the Republican Vice President’s church where ministers actually lay on the hands and utter the words over Sister Palin that she not be plagued by witches and other supernatural, ungodly demons. She was running at the time (Oct. 16, 2005) to be Alaska’s governor.  Hey!  It’s a frontier up there!  Witches in the wild woods of America’s West!  But, of course, a black minister speaking of injustice in America is patently unacceptable yet evoking a witch doctor in the VP’s church is perfectly okay.  Republican values, don’t-cha see.

William Ayers.  When William Ayers was advocating violent protests during the Vietnam War, Obama was all of eight years old.  Years later in Chicago, Ayers had rehabilitated himself such that he served on community boards with Obama. Ayers gave Obama $200 for one of his campaigns.  That’s about it, kids.  Google the issue.  Any substantive reading on the subject and you’ll see the issue for what it is, a distraction from the failed Republican (Bush/McCain) policies (Iraq/economic).

And finally, Tony Rezko.  Google the following: http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/124171,CST-NWS-obama05.article.  It presents “an” assessment of the subject as well as an actual Q&A interview with Obama over the issue and their (Rezko/Obama) relationship.

But if John McCain is going to bring up Rezko, let’s review John McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five Scandal of the 1990s.  When McCain speaks of all his experience, he must be speaking of his first hand experience of being censored by the Senate ethics committee for “poor judgment.”   A corrupt Arizona constituent (Keating who was eventually jailed) in his close relationship with Senator McCain causes the Senator to be investigated for unethical behavior and be to be censored in August, 1991, with a “poor judgment” call.  Poor judgment!  Poor judgment on Iraq!  Poor judgment on the economy (recall: The fundamentals are strong!)  A history of poor judgment.  That’s John McCain.

And we won’t even go into John McCain dumping his wounded wife, Carol, for the Budweiser Beer heiress Cindy Lou Hensley in 1980.  He was 43, Cindy Lou was 25. This is what Cindy McCain said on the Jay Leno "Tonight Show." She joked about how the Navy captain pursued her. "He kind of chased me around . . . the hors d'oeuvre table," she said. "I was trying to get something to eat and I thought, 'This guy's kind of weird.' I was kind of trying to get away from him."

Isn’t that fun?  Ha! Ha! Say it over and over with a Julia Child accent. “He chased me around the hors d’oeuvre table.”   It gets a lot funnier.  Think a high-pitched Julia exclaiming, “He chased me around the hors d’oeuvre table.”   More nasal.  Good thing John McCain was single at the time!  What?  He wasn’t?    Oh well, we won’t go into that.  Will we?

So, the American economy is in a veritable meltdown.  We’re spending $10 billion a month in Iraq and the John McCain for President Campaign is going to unleash the dogs of political war by having Sarah Palin go negative on Barack Obama. I am reminded of that famous Marsellus Wallace quote from the movie, Pulp Fiction,  “I'ma get medieval on your a**!”  That is what we want from Sarah Palin?  To get “medieval” on Barack Obama?

Remember when lipstick on a pig was all the news, the rage?  Update: lipstick on a pit-bull might be the more appropriate analogy.   Hey, “they” do willingly embrace the barracuda image!   What shade, then, does the barracuda hockey mom wear?

Is a barracuda a bottom-feeder?  We’re finding out.

10.09.08