Showing posts with label Personal Musings/Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Musings/Politics. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is marriage a right or just a rite?


A major argument for same-sex marriage is that it is a family value that conservatives ought to be happy to encourage.  But that argument is as silly as opposition based on what the Bible says. Face it: LGBT people want the same rights as other people, and opponents of same-sex marriage think that homosexuality is immoral. It seems to me that both views ought to be respected. But why on earth is marriage the arena in which notions of equality and morality are fought?

A long time ago, many progressive people scoffed at the notion of marriage. They asked how can either a civil or religious ceremony bind two people who should be able to live together as long as they both shall love? Now, many of these people say the marriage act is essential for two people in love, as long as both are gay. The argument seems to be that everyone is entitled to equal protection of the law, which now favors married couples at the expense of singles. It makes sense to me, but why on earth are married people getting breaks in the first place? The only reason I can figure is that the state, for whatever reasons, believes marriage is important.  But what I can’t figure out is why the legal framework for marriage is up to the 50 states (or any level of government, anyway).

I don’t care how two people (or three or four; or gerbils or hamsters) choose to amuse themselves in private. Why should the state care? If there is a social good behind the institution of marriage, it seems to me it is because children thrive when their parents are married, and historically the more children a marital unit has, the more hands there are to work and to make up for infant mortality (neither of which is a big problem right now.)

If one is to argue that the purpose of marriage is to procreate, the question arises regarding couples who are infertile, those who choose not to repopulate and those who marry past the age of fertility. Should they be prevented from marrying? Of course not. Nor should anyone else. But, again, I ask, why should they marry in the first place? And, more important, why is it any of the state’s business to approve or disapprove of historically notorious promises of love and fidelity.
 
As the old gag goes about why marriage is important: "Why fight with strangers?"

Monday, January 02, 2012

Killer Congressmen

The following current, retired, defeated or dead members of the U.S. Congress voted in 2009 to kill a U.S. Park Service ranger. The murder, by a brave wounded warrior of our heroic wonderful armed forces, didn't happen until Jan. 1, 2012 in a national park -- which had been opened up to loaded weapons by the following defenders of freedom.

I wonder if Gabby Giffords would change her shameful vote now.


SENATE

Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Ensign (R-NV)

Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagan (D-NC)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murkowski (R-AK)

Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sanders (I-VT)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (D-PA)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Udall (D-CO)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)

HOUSE

Aderholt
Adler (NJ)
Akin
Alexander
Altmire
Arcuri
Austria
Baca
Bachus
Barrow
Bartlett
Barton (TX)
Bean
Berkley
Berry
Biggert
Bilbray
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Blunt
Boccieri
Boehner
Bonner
Bono Mack
Boozman
Boren
Boswell
Boucher
Boustany
Boyd
Brady (TX)
Bright
Broun (GA)
Brown (SC)
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Buchanan
Burgess
Burton (IN)
Buyer
Calvert
Camp
Campbell
Cantor
Cao
Capito
Cardoza
Carney
Carter
Cassidy
Chaffetz
Chandler
Childers
Coble
Coffman (CO)
Cole
Conaway
Costa
Costello
Courtney
Crenshaw
Cuellar
Culberson
Dahlkemper
Davis (AL)
Davis (KY)
Davis (TN)
Deal (GA)
DeFazio
DeGette
Dent
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Dingell
Donnelly (IN)
Dreier
Driehaus
Duncan
Edwards (TX)
Ehlers
Ellsworth
Emerson
Etheridge
Fallin
Flake
Fleming
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foster
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen

Gallegly
Garrett (NJ)
Gerlach
Giffords
Gingrey (GA)
Gohmert
Goodlatte
Gordon (TN)
Granger
Graves
Grayson
Green, Gene
Griffith
Guthrie
Hall (TX)
Halvorson
Harper
Hastings (WA)
Heinrich
Heller
Hensarling
Herger
Herseth Sandlin
Higgins
Hill
Hinchey
Hodes
Hoekstra
Holden
Hunter
Inglis
Issa
Jenkins
Johnson (GA)
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jones
Jordan (OH)
Kagen
Kanjorski
Kennedy
Kind
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kingston
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Kissell
Kline (MN)
Kratovil
Lamborn
Lance
Latham
LaTourette
Latta
Lee (NY)
Lewis (CA)
Linder
LoBiondo
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lummis
Lungren, Daniel E.
Mack
Maffei
Manzullo
Marchant
Markey (CO)
Marshall
Massa
Matheson
McCarthy (CA)
McCaul
McClintock
McCotter
McHenry
McHugh
McIntyre
McKeon
McMorris Rodgers
McNerney
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Melancon
Mica
Michaud
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Minnick
Mitchell
Mollohan
Moran (KS)
Murphy (NY)

Murphy, Patrick
Murphy, Tim
Murtha
Myrick
Neugebauer
Nunes
Nye
Oberstar
Obey
Olson
Ortiz
Pallone
Paul
Paulsen
Pence
Perlmutter
Perriello
Peterson
Petri
Pitts
Platts
Poe (TX)
Pomeroy
Posey
Price (GA)
Putnam
Radanovich
Rahall
Rehberg
Reichert
Reyes
Rodriguez
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Rooney
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Ross
Royce
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Salazar
Scalise
Schauer
Schmidt
Schock
Schrader
Sensenbrenner
Sessions
Shadegg
Shimkus
Shuler
Shuster
Simpson
Sires
Skelton
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Souder
Space
Spratt
Stearns
Stupak
Sullivan
Tanner
Taylor
Teague
Terry
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiahrt
Tiberi
Titus
Turner
Upton
Walden
Walz
Wamp
Welch
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Wilson (OH)
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Wolf
Young (AK)
Young (FL)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Capital Day

Had a satisfying Labor Day, indulging first in my love of small-town parades and then a baseball game from prime seats with my family.

As the columnist E.J. Dionne says, it should be called “Capital Day,” because it is no longer about the labor movement, which has gone the way of the milkman, but just another faux-patriotic day that marks the end of summer, the start of school, renewed mattress and car sales and the continuation of political campaigning. It irks me that moron broadcasters remind us that Labor Day is the traditional start of the campaign season. It is the traditional start of the campaign season in a campaign year, not the year before! Thus the lamestream media create traditions and rewrite history.

This Labor Day comes in the midst of a national orgy of wallowing in a disaster of 10 years ago; every public or broadcast reminder of 9/11 is tied in with promoting a particular network’s program or selling a product in the name of veterans. I probably should find a cave to hide in for the next week, but instead I will probably continue to challenge public displays of phony patriotism.

Anyway, here are some photos of the Kensington, Md., Labor Day parade, where the local and state pols are available for casual chat and ride in antique cars, where they ride behind the other horses’ asses (of mounted state troopers) and nursery schools, dancing schools and pirates entertain passersby, kids and dogs.

I wouldn’t miss it, and look forward to being there next Memorial Day, which has now become the start of summer and a chance to glorify current and future wars by paying pretend homage to the cannon fodder of past ones.







Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Chicago Code

When my public affairs career at FDA came to an abrupt end, I blamed the Chicago machine politics of Barack Obama for putting in place incompetent kids who had no clue as to media relations, personnel management or general qualities of being human.

More evidence comes from this account earlier this week by a reputable suburban Chicago newspaper of new Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s press secretary. The Rahm administration was inaugurated just as the one TV drama that captured Chicago corruption so well ("The Chicago Code") was canceled, even though it was on Fox.

It is no longer clear to me whether Emanuel was a creation of Obama or vice versa. In any event, here is one more example of Obamachine contempt for transparency -- and here is one less Democratic vote for president.

The questions that Emanuel's press secretary won't answer
By CHUCK GOUDIE
Once Rahm Emanuel takes the oath and becomes Chicago' s mayor today, you will be hearing and seeing a lot more of a young woman named Tarrah Cooper. She is beginning the job of a lifetime, even though she doesn't have much life time behind her.

Ms. Cooper (who pronounces her first name as Tair-uh, not Tahr-uh) is going to be the “face” of the Chicago mayor's office, as Mr. Emanuel's newly anointed press secretary. At the tender age of 25, she is certainly a fresh face.

Never having heard of Cooper before Emanuel returned to the Chicago political scene last fall, I was curious to find out about this person who would be responsible for espousing the positions and platforms of Chicago's first new administration in two decades; would be the go-to contact for information about important daily news stories; or, heaven forbid, be the public source in the office if there was a calamity of some kind.

Never having heard of Cooper before Emanuel returned to the Chicago political scene last fall, I was curious to find out about this person who would be responsible for espousing the positions and platforms of Chicago's first new administration in two decades; would be the go-to contact for information about important daily news stories; or, heaven forbid, be the public source in the office if there was a calamity of some kind.

Last month, after learning that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had issued a scathing report against Mr. Emanuel's school superintendent to-be, I contacted Ms. Cooper for a response. The EEOC in Rochester, N.Y., where Jean-Claude Brizard had been running the public schools, determined that he had an age, race and gender bias when firing a top administrator.

I asked Cooper whether this had been known to Rahm Emanuel and why he nevertheless selected Brizard? Had Emanuel not known? Was Brizard's job offer being revoked?

In our very first conversation, rather than simply answer the questions, Ms. Cooper stated that she wished to speak “off the record.” I informed her that I wouldn't have such a conversation, especially not with someone who is in the business of providing public information. Seemingly frustrated by that, she said that she'd have to call back.

During a series of subsequent calls and emails, Ms. Cooper waged a relentless, several-hour campaign to convince me that such a finding by a federal panel against their choice to run the Chicago schools was not a news story. Sounding like a robocall, she persisted in the theme that “this isn't a story.”

As we prepared the report for broadcast, Cooper also sent two emails containing misleading and false information. First she stated that “an independent investigation found that Mr. Brizard did nothing wrong.” But that report was prepared by a firm hired by Brizard's school board and hardly independent.

Next she wrote that “a court of law has proved that he did not do anything wrong.”

That was completely false. A civil suit is still in the early stages. Ms. Cooper, who did not respond to several requests for comment on this column, just graduated from the famous University of Missouri journalism school in 2008, so what she learned should still be fresh.

She worked as a reporter on Mizzou's TV station and interned at MTV in New York.

Before joining the Emanuel for Mayor campaign, she worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., where her bio states “she helped to manage the Department's messaging, priorities and actions for numerous national incidents including the H1N1 epidemic, the December 25th and Times Square attempted bombings, the Haitian earthquake and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.” Based on DHS alerts, it seems she spent considerable time processing forms submitted by reporters to attend agency events.

At city hall, she succeeds longtime mayoral press secretary Jackie Heard, who was paid a salary of nearly $180,000 per year. On April 23, I sent Ms. Cooper a number of questions for this column. They included:

• Is there a set of written guidelines or protocols that you are working from in dealing with reporters and news organizations?
• How involved is Mr. Emanuel in setting the tone for dealing with the press and in what manner? Does each story inquiry get run by him?
• Which of these best describes your view as press secretary in dealing with Chicago's major newspapers and TV and why: Tools for getting out message as we see it; aimed at embarrassing or uncovering negative aspects of the administration; a necessary evil that has to be controlled.
• How will your cooperation with news organizations be based on the nature and tone of their day-to-day coverage?
• Does your youthfulness and lack of experience symbolize what seems to be administration focused on hiring managers under 35?
• What qualifies you to be press secretary for the mayor of the third-largest city?
• How much will you be paid?
• What are your career aspirations?

In more than three weeks she has yet to answer any of the questions. After asking a few times to meet me “off the record,” which I declined, Tarrah Cooper has stopped replying.
It is interesting that the mayor's new press secretary felt no inhibition about displaying hundreds of personal photos on her public Facebook page, showing her partying with friends, in beach attire and at a slot machine.

When you are 25, apparently some things are OK to be put on the record.

Chuck Goudie, whose column appears each Monday, is the chief investigative reporter at ABC 7 News in Chicago. The views in this column are his own and not those of WLS-TV. He can be reached by email at chuckgoudie@gmail.com and followed at twitter.com/ ChuckGoudie.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Transparent Vindication

As loyal readers may recall, I was suddenly defederalized last October a few weeks short of being legally immune from employer abuse of the kind administered to at least four older workers in the FDA public affairs shop.

Everyone knew the that new boss was not only not the same as the old boss but actually was parachuted in from a planet where “communication” meant silence, “transparency” meant hiding information and “public service” meant “no we can’t.”

Now, however, it seems that either her ability as a manager was exposed to her bosses or she failed to toady enough to the Obama hacks. (I can’t prove anything, but I suspect the former.) She is, I am reliably told, leaving government to join an advocacy/lobbying group run by the state politician whom she worked for before arriving in DC to wreak her damage here. In Washington, departing a high profile job in only one year is not a sign of success.

Anyway, this is not the story of one guy having a problem with one bad boss. I have moved on happily from other ones and survived. This is a story about how what happened in front of my naive eyes seems emblematic of what is going on elsewhere in government -- the wreckage of Obama's pretense of bringing a fresh way of doing things to Washington.

Many of my own observations are confirmed by an op-ed in today’s Washington Post detailing how this administration is more secret and contemptuous of public information than the Bush administration.

In the meantime, I remain one of the uncounted unemployed. Vindication doesn’t put food on the table, but it does taste sweet to announce, “Boss, thy name is ‘Payback.’”

Friday, February 04, 2011

Mourning in America

I will watch the Super Bowl this weekend and try to keep up with events in the Middle East. But I will otherwise keep the television off lest I become convulsed with nausea at the national outpouring of treacle over the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan.

I was a reporter who had the privilege of covering the White House for four and a half years, encompassing the middle of his tenure. I believe I was as fair in my coverage of him as I was in coverage of anything else I reported. And I stood on a street corner to pay my respects as his hearse rolled through the streets of the capital city.

This recollection is merely a futile attempt to command the tide to stop, to speak up against the worship by weak, ignorant people of a saint who did what he could to drown this country in debt, death and decline. In my view, both close up and in retrospect, Reagan was a tool of an ideology that while it did not wreck America, certainly hampered the social, economic and international standing of this great country.

His life story was one of denial – the result of having to mediate between his mother and a drunken father; getting his first professional break by “re-creating” (that is, making things up) broadcasts of far-away baseball games; acting in movies whose lines or plots he would later in life believe to have been true; and moving from a union leader to a shill for one of the worst (or best, if you will) icons of runaway capitalism, General Electric.

Every president makes mistakes of policy, but the lasting damage Reagan did to this country was to advance and repeat the shibboleth that government is your enemy.

He would often tell adoring audiences – almost always all-white and middle-aged –“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” (I am not sure he used that line when appearing before military audiences, which was his wont, because his handlers would never let him near an unfiltered crowd.)

First, let’s review some of the greatest hits of a president who some observer long ago aptly called an “amiable dunce.”

--Voodoo economics
--The Laffer Curve
--Ketchup is a vegetable
--Deficits don’t matter
--Evil empire
--We begin the bombing in five minutes
--Opposed sanctions against South Africa
--Opposed the Martin Luther King holiday as an economic loss to the country, signing it into law only after Congress passed it by a veto-proof majority.
--Opposed the original Voting Rights Acts, and originally opposed its extension in 1982, signing it into law and taking credit for it only after Congress passed it by a veto-proof majority.
--Sent Marines to Lebanon where they took the low ground at the airport and lost 220 of them in a suicide bombing, the Corps greatest single-day loss of life since Iwo Jima.
--Three days later invaded Grenada, a campaign in which more than half the U.S. deaths were from friendly fire and in which more medals were handed out than there were troops on the ground.
--Presided over the most corrupt administration in recent history, with at least 100 appointees tarnished by conflicts of interest, indictments, convictions or firings.
--Five years after vowing “we will never negotiate with terrorists” authorized the trade of arms for hostages, and then sent his hapless vice president out to explain to the public, “Mistakes were made.”

Ronald Reagan believed the government should stay out of people’s lives, except when they were in the bedroom, and he prevented family planning aid from being offered to developing countries that we preferred to keep poor and thus more susceptible to communist influences.

He glorified family values though he was a divorcee and spent six or seven years on the dating market as one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors. I remember the day he met his 2-year-old grandson for the first time -- and called him by the wrong name. His elder son, the adopted one, was sexually molested at camp as a child, but did his father ever know? He had no use for his younger son or younger daughter, who opposed him on most major issues, and when there was a family portrait at Christmas, it looked like a hostage photograph.

He was a union president, but he hated workers, using his presidency to smash organized labor. He was a liberal Democrat but “named names” that put former colleagues on the Hollywood black list.

His hatred of government began only when General Electric started paying him to host “Death Valley Days” and then to propagate the company’s capitalism-uber-alles in lectures to GE employees all over the country. To paraphrase what he later said about the Panama Canal, They bought him, they built him and they were going to keep him. He became a conservative because during World War II, when all the other leading men in Hollywood were actually away at war, he got better and better movie parts, earned more money and had to pay taxes at a historically high level.

As a political performer, Reagan read a script great, keeping you on the edge of your seat waiting from him to drift into a miasma of mental mulch, only to recover in time and complete the sentence with a punch – though the sentences were usually false pieties that rarely made any policy sense.

He told great stories, but the best ones were not true, such as the one about him helping liberate concentration camps, or the one about the heroic Air Force pilot who, after his plane was brought down by enemy fire, comforted a wounded crew member by telling him, “That’s all right, son, we’ll ride this one down together,” leaving listeners wondering which one of the dead airmen related the story in the first place.

Everyone said he was personally warm, but only to those he thought could help him. To the extent that he was even made available to the press or public – which was hardly – I was in his face constantly as part of the press pool. After four and a half years, I am utterly convinced he had no idea who I was, or at least could not attach my name to my face. I bring this up because almost every other politician I ever met had as a chief political asset that very skill. In short, his only political skills were a smile and a shoeshine.

He appealed to the worst in Americans and was venerated because he tapped into the fantasies of white working people who wanted to follow him backwards into some nonexistent golden age when morning in America meant, racism, poverty, war and being what that unctuous Chris Mathews calls “regular people.”

His skill was in adopting simplistic slogans by which he governed. He was, indeed, the godfather of the hate-mongering vermin who now operate the Tea and Republican Parties in his name. He might even be appalled.

So upon the centennial of his birth, all I can say is that Abraham Lincoln was wrong. You can fool all of the people all of the time. The only reason his acolytes want to memorialize him as the greatest ever is because they know he was the biggest goddamn phony ever to rise to the presidency and they are afraid history will judge him so.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wallowing

Through cable TV, the Internet and even AM radio, the United States today is doing what it does best . We are wallowing like pigs in a mudbath of bathos. I am unaware of other nations that celebrate their defeats as much as, if not more than, their victories. Where were the public demonstrations for the recent 65th anniversaries of V-E and V-J Days?

Yet, you cannot open your eyes or ears on this day and not hear a radio commercial promising proceeds of some fly-by-night promotion going to “wounded warriors,” see a newspaper picture of a sports start giving an autograph to children of someone killed on 9/11, or experiencing politicians of all stripes (including yellow) just before an election dwelling on morbid memories. The victims of 9/11 shouldn’t be forgotten – by their families and friends. But how should I remember someone I don’t know and who did nothing but show up for work on time or board an airplane?

The rest of us are 9/11 victims, too -- of a peculiarly morbid American fixation on terrorism by which we daily accept the victory of the skyjacking Muslim murderers. Our every movement in or near public buildings, our phone conversations, our travel, and even our thoughts are now circumscribed forever lest we “give in” to terrorists.

We gave in from the beginning.

“Terrorists” (and I suppose I would have to include freedom-fighters known by various names such as Minutemen, the Irgun, Algerian rebels or Viet Cong) win at the very moment they replace the concept of “territory” to be won with “terror” that robs ordinary people of their ordinary lives.

We are perpetually honoring servicemen and women who signed up out of patriotism, a lust for adventure or the need for a job and then feel they are denigrated for doing their jobs if we don’t stop every couple of minutes as a nation to worship them. But why don’t we actually fight back against the real enemies – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and, yes, the brand of Islam that will fight until it takes over what is left of the world? That would take a much larger mobilization and a larger dollop of courage than the United States is willing to expend – especially when it is so much easier to bitch, moan and wallow

President Obama epitomizes the lunacy that attaches to the memorialization of a terrible event by saying that we must not let our anger override the constitutional rights of our citizens -- at the very same time that his secretary of defense and top military commander “ask” a wacko Christian preacher to give up his constitutional right to burn a Koran.

This fruitcake Terry Jones is the only honest one among those using 9/11 for their personal glory. He believes Islam is evil and wanted to do something about it. If Obama, Secretary of Defense Gates , General Petraeus and the flag-waving news media were honest, they would have ignored Jones. If Muslims acted against American interests as a result, they would have gone to real war against Islam, saying that the American culture believes in freedom of expression and we will fight you to all our deaths to defend that freedom. Not just make laughably empty speeches.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Listen Up, Louisiana

Pardon me, but what the hell are those rabid right-wing Republicans who have run Louisiana for a generation doing by calling for government intervention after they have sold themselves to the oil industry? A foreign company, at that! And what the hell are those dingbat dimwit Democrats doing demanding Obama do something. Like what? Suspend the Constitution? Seize an oil company? Arrest and jail executives without a trial? Call Superman?

How about if Louisiana had bothered to build defenses against floods and get other industries besides petrochemicals to sustain itself instead of racing stupid-go-lucky toward the bottom of every ranking of poverty, employment, education and culture?

Remember what conservatives used to say to welfare recipients – if you don’t like the benefits, “vote with your feet” and move to another state. Hey, Louisiana, you got what you paid for. Now hoist your rucksacks and hit the road, shut up or start electing people who truly have your well being at heart.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

D.C. Droppings XXIII

Local Boy Makes Bad

A Chevy Chase, Md., senior at the University of Virginia who graduated from a top local prep school (already three elements that make me gag even in the best of times) is alleged to have killed his ex-girlfriend. Both were beautiful people, good students and members of the school’s top-rated lacrosse teams.

This was a natural news story locally, but only here could the routine televised “I couldn’t believe he could do such a thing” testimonial came not from a clergyman, a neighbor or a former teacher. The character witness in this neck of the woods was his nanny!

Grant Wasn’t Just a Northern General

Turns out, as we kind of knew all along, that the most Republican of states get the most return on their tax dollars; that is, the states that are the bottom of every list of everything good – think Mississippi, Alabama, Florida -- get far more in federal grants, contracts and other spending than they contribute in taxes. And much more than Democratic states.

As Dana Milbank in the Washington Post suggests, maybe these Gulf state politicians ought to reject any help from the Coast Guard, NOAA or EPA in cleaning their fouled waters.

The Back Doors of Justice

From both a civic and an architectural point of view, the Supreme Court has handed down yet one more inexplicable decision.

It is closing the grand front entrance emblazoned with the motto “Equal Justice Under the Law” under which millions of Americans, including more than a few scoundrels, have passed or at least photographed. The given reason is security. The real result is one more diminution of the majesty of the American legal system, whose chief judges prefer tailoring not just the people’s access, but the law itself, to fit through the back doors of justice.

I am reminded of what Abby Hoffman said during the Chicago Seven trial: “In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

D.C. Droppings -- XXII

Pulitzer Praise

I never admitted it, though no one ever asked, but I fell in love with an op-ed columnist -- a Republican, conservative Southerner. But the author's writing is superb, and the ideology, such as it is, is never predictable.

That she is young and blonde helps, too.

Kathleen Parker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary yesterday, and deservedly so, I thought, because she can think and write at the same time.

Decades ago, I liked to read George Will because although I have never agreed with him (except to root for the baseball team our sons were on) because he could write. But about 25 years ago he had written all the words in the language several times over and now makes less sense than ever (for example declaring that the Constitution should really not allow all people born on U.S. soil to be citizens.)

I will read anyone, regardless of opinion, whose writing and style I enjoy and envy. I say envy because although some people think I can write, I really can't make a lot of points with as much grace as I would like. To me, words are nails and I am a hammer.

Anyway, I have liked Ms. Parker from the start of her stint maybe 18 months ago, and today's column is another example of humanity glistening through a usually turgid Washington Post op-ed page. Grab a hankie, first, though.

Let's Go to the Videotape!

Friday, May 1, 1970 dawned a beautiful spring day, though not so beautiful for civilian Cambodians who, while not at war, were bombed by Richard Nixon in contravention of civilized behavior unmatched until the 43rd presidency. Due to the weather, a previous scheduled outdoor rally of anti-war activists drew a crowd. Four days before Kent State and other campuses erupted, the University of Maryland -- long a hotbed of social rest -- went to war.

In reality, the occupation of the main commercial road bordering the campus, was as predictable as the takeovers of the same real estate in previous generations after panty raids or football games. It was a lighthearted attempt at protest. Eventually, the Maryland National Guard was activated, and no satirist could ever have painted a picture like what really happened when some male protesters disappeared and re-emerged a short time later in uniform.

What I will never forget is that when the fierce-looking Guard personnel carriers rolled down U.S 1, protesters cheered. The reason: They were replacing the local police.

The bastard sons of those bastard cops are still on the job in Prince George's County, Maryland, but this time through the magic of videotape, the entire world saw what they do for sport. After the annual seizing of Route 1 after a basketball defeat of Duke, the cops beat an apparently tipsy student whose only crime was skipping along the sidewalk.

Everyone in the D.C. area know that this police force, which just came out from under federal supervision after decades of brutality cases, cover ups and mysterious jailhouse deaths, has been like that forever. Now, some serious shit should hit the fan. They beat up the grandson of a retired judge, who commented:
"They should go to jail ... And my opinion is: it was assault with intent to murder, or assault with intent to maim -- both of which are felonies in the state of Maryland."
Although Prince George's County is majority black and the wealthiest black political jurisdiction in America, the cops -- of both races -- are stuck in 1960 when, according to the student newspaper account of the first drugstore sit-in arrests, an arrestee shouted, "You can't do this. This is America." Whereupon a county cop replied, "This isn't America. This is Prince George's County."


Haley's Vomit

That police force would be more at home in Mississippi, whose record on race, poverty, education and health rank them as a developing country run by an enlightened despot. The despot is a porcine, lard-jawed, slime-dripping Gov. Haley Barbour, former chair of the Republican Party, former political director for Ronald Reagan, one-time king lobbyist and friend of Jack Abramoff -- and always a racist.

I covered him briefly in 1976 when Barbour, as a state party leader in a state with few Republicans, held his national Republican convention delegation together to renominate Gerald Ford. Had he not, Reagan would have been nominated. He was charming then, but the timbre of his voice and his entire body language told me I would not want to be anywhere near this man off the job.
When Katrina hit the Louisiana-Mississippi coast, Barbour -- whose state got the Bush Administration's largess based on shared Republican values -- rushed to get on television. His first reaction to the disaster was to announce that looters would be shot. After the storm, his main project was getting federal funds to rebuild the offshore casinos in his waters.

He was in the news against this past weekend when he was asked about the Virginia governor's proclamation commemorating the confederacy without mentioning slavery. Said Barbour, everyone knows slavery was bad and that somehow mentioning it as the cause for the Great Treason of 1861-1865 was just a bunch of "diddly."

Maybe even some troglodyte white Republicans (are there any other kind?) will be offended enough to deny Barbour his place as a political leader on this planet. But I'm not counting on it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

End of an Era

Nov. 24, 1963 was cold and damp, and I stood on Pennsylvania Avenue observing the cortege that bore the body of John F. Kennedy to the Capitol where he would lie in state.

Aug. 29, 2009, was hot and oppressively humid, and i stood on Constitution Avenue (just before it joins Pennsylvania Ave.) and observed a less crowded, less formal procession of Edward Kennedy from his last visit to the Senate he loved to his gravesite, near his brothers, in Arlington Cemetery.

In June of 1968, at age 20 and without the resources or logistics, I was unable to ride the Robert F. Kennedy funeral train from Washington to New York, after receiving a last-minute invitation as a leading college journalist.

For better or worse, the Kennedys made a difference in this world, and while much was made of the huge extended family and the courtesies they extended to mourners (as pictured below), I don't see anyone capable of carrying the torch.

Former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, "three generations of imbeciles are enough." Well, the first two generations of Kennedys in America were not imbeciles, but the third one sure is.

Joseph Kennedy III was among the dumbest members of Congress before he chose not to run because of marital infidelities. He later became chief American pitchman for the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez (owner of Citgo, by the way.)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is a flaming conspiracy nut who believes the government infused children's vaccines with a chemical that caused autism. His views comparing the Bush administration to fascism I happen to agree with, but his language, his facts, his judgment and his general persona make him utterly incapable of persuasion or leadership.

His older sister, Kathleen, was lieutenant governor of my state and failed to distinguish herself and then lost an utterly winnable campaign for the governorship.

Others in that generation are either dead from drugs, dead from reckless aviating or acquitted of rape.

Anyway, here are some photos from the pre-crepuscular motorcade that took Ted Kennedy to the darkness of Arlington Cemetery and eternity.






(The yellow blob reflected on the left side of the hearse panel is me.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Self Explanatory Exploitation



and ...

Family exploitation (Jon on Fox5-TV, Washington, about his memories of Kennedy).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enough Can't Be Said

It never fails to amaze me how many average Americans who vote Republican and hate liberals would be totally screwed if it were not for people like Ted Kennedy and things they take for granted.

They are like the people who call health care for all a socialist un-American plot but who warn politicians not to touch their Medicare. They are like the young TV station employee I read about today who, upon looking at Walter Cronkite's coverage of the JFK assassination, asked, "Where was the 'live' bug?"

Here is a thumbnail of his legislative career.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hypocritic Oath: First Do Harm

I try hard to love my country, but damn it’s hard when Americans seem to be the most ignorant people on the planet and they elect liars and demagogues who harm the most basic interest any person has – personal health.

Here is who I am talking about:

Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray, of San Diego is asked about the verbal thuggery his party is fomenting at town hall meetings held by Democratic lawmakers and says this “fear” and “paranoia” is the reason why health care reform should not be rushed through Congress. Until two weeks ago, when the Republican Party and its paid cheerleaders, decided to spew lies, frighten the elderly to death and stand silently by their henchmen disrupt democracy, no one at all had any fury at all about this legislation. So, maybe Mr. Bilbray should have been asked by the wimps on MSNBC who was spreading the fear and paranoia?

We know who they are. They are the four horsepersons of the Apocalypse. Their names are Gingrich, Palin, Limbaugh and Shirley. The last one is Craigon J. Shirley, whom I met fairly pleasantly about 25-30 years ago when he was a young radical bomb thrower. He is a p.r. operative for the rightest of the right wing. He is beyond conservative, although to call someone a verbal stormtrooper would not advance any argument.

He was behind the infamous and racist Willie Horton ad on behalf of George H. W. Bush and behind this ad now appearing wherever ignorance and hatred are a matchstick away from open violence.

As for the other well known hypocrites, we know who they are. Thanks to Rachel Maddow of MSNBC , we learn that Limbaugh, who is calling health care supporters pro-Nazi, actually has been paid to promote the living wills he and others now claim are a Democratic plot to kill the elderly.

Also, thanks to Maddow and others, we learn that Sarah Palin signed a proclamation during her brief governorship favoring living wills. And Newt Gingrich, who has called Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor a racist and the Obama health care plan Naziistic, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post earlier this year calling for – you guessed it – living wills as part of the Medicare program. So Limbaugh, Palin and Gingrich were for "death panels" before they were against them.

And then there is that cowardly little hog farmer Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chief Republican negotiator on health care legislation, who has been pretending to be bipartisan and who President Obama naively believes is a moderate.

Grassley doesn’t have town hall meetings; he has pig sty meetings, and this week, while having led America to believe he was delaying action in Washington to improve the bill, he was telling his rube electorate that he opposes “pulling the plug on Grandma” (which is not in any bill) and that he is to be lauded for “putting my finger in the dike.”

Meaning he never had any intention of getting health care reform legislation at all, much less improving it. The next time Iowa is flooded or hit by tornados, Obama ought to put his finger in the dike of disaster assistance.

Why do I call the American people stupid? Aside from the foregoing, consider the following, courtesy of Bill Maher.

  • About one-third of the American people – Fox News viewers – believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks.
  • A majority of Republicans and majority of southerners do not know whether President Obama is American.
  • A majority of Americans cannot name their member of Congress.
  • Two-thirds cannot identify Roe v. Wade and two-thirds do not know what the Food and Drug Administration does.
  • A near majority of Americans believe God created mankind pretty much as it exists now.
  • A majority believes U.S. foreign aid is about 25 times higher as a percentage of the budget than it really is.
  • 18 percent believe the sun revolves around the earth.
  • Half don’t know that Judaism preceded Christianity.


And that, my fellow Americans, is why I believe this country deserves what it elects. Fortunately, I will be dead (and I have a living will) before this country collapses from sheer ignorance.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Glock's Spiel

I am going to take space today to replay the comments of, and add my responses to, the arguments against my views on health insurance reform. My correspondent, one Mr. Gaston Glock, will not be happy but I am choosing to print his words in blue and mine in Republican red.
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There is *nothing* more important than FREEDOM.

Hunger. Sex. God. (in any order you choose)

However, this bill restricts the freedom of individual citizens, it restricts the freedom of doctors and medical professionals, it restricts the freedom of private employers, it restricts the freedom of the insurance industry.

Any legislation restricts freedom. All the rest is commentary.

But specifically, any individual can pay anything he/she wants to any doctor. Medical professionals, however, are not free to practice the best medicine they know how because of insurance companies. Doctors now are paid, essentially, by insurance companies, which have more money and more power than government. Insurance companies—not government—rations health care. So pick your villain. I will choose government, whose officials I can lobby and vote out of office.

Private employers are not free, either, in the best use of their workforce or their capital -- due to insurance companies. Reform legislation would, in fact, restrict the freedom of the insurance industry, which has among the largest profit margins of any industry, and this industry should be restricted.

This.... from assholes who can't even get three days of vehicle trade-in's right? Christ -- the auto industry has been accepting trade-in vehicles for 3 generations in a transaction that takes 10 minutes. Put the US Government in charge of it, and the whole thing collapses in three days because of incompetent bureaucrats.

I am amazed at your line of thinking. Here is a government program that is incredibly successful beyond all predictions. It is directly stimulative to the economy. The reason a transaction may take longer is to make sure no one is cheating the government/taxpayer. But it doesn’t take longer for the consumer. It takes longer for the dealer and there is not a single car dealer in the U.S. as I write who is not peeing in his pants with delight at this program. A program by the way we borrowed from Europe

I want this for my health care? I opt OUT of this asinine healthcare program and I have to pay a $2,500 penalty?? That is NOT FREEDOM.

I suppose it isn’t freedom to have to insure your car either, but doing so makes it possible for you, and me, to drive. It isn’t freedom to register with the Selective Service System. It isn’t freedom to have to get your kids vaccinated before going to public school. It isn’t freedom to have to get a Social Security number. Ad infinitum.

That is an oppressive government, controlling peoples lives, the type of which leads to revolution.

No, revolution is caused by rising bourgeois discontent over inequalities in society.

Perhaps you really ought to learn what fascism is. Guess what, it starts by Goverment controlling private industry.

I know what fascism is. It is an alliance of government and corporations that imposes its economic and political will by force. It was created by your ancestors and it killed mine. One of the political techniques it uses is to repeatedly lie in small ways and big. Another technique for maintaining political control is to set subgroups of the population against each other sowing fear and hatred, making it easier for the fascist leader to assume and maintain power.

Yeah, Washington knows how to run the banks better than bankers do.....they know how to run the auto industry better than automakers do.....they know how to run healthcare better than health professionals do. Health professionals know how to run healthcare. They are not allowed to -- by insurance companies. And even a cursory drop-by to the reality-based world would make apparent to you that the banking and auto industries are incapable of running themselves.

Profit itself is neither good nor bad but the social cost of private profit has to be taken into account. The system we have now creates a middleman between patient and doctor, and we know what middlemen do. We have examples of Medicare, VA and plans that cover civil and military servants that work very well. You might as well farm out to profit-making corporations things like war.

Oh, nevermind. Blackwater really helped us secure the peace and freedom of Iraq.

...let's bow down do omniscient Washington. Bureaucrats know better than everyone else. Oppressors one and all.

What you fail in each of your posts to recognize is that freedom flourishes here because we have representative government. Bureaucrats, as you know, operate the programs created by Congress, who are elected by the people and who rely on bureaucrats to make the detailed decisions the elected officials are afraid to. And, yes, because of their job requirements bureaucrats do know better than most other people. They, however, are not nor should they be empowered to make policy decisions that go beyond the scope of their executive branch leadership’s direction. And they never do. So blame your elected leaders. And the more we all blame them, the easier it can be to regulate a health insurance program than it is when profiteers run the program.

I would be tempted to ask you how you would run health care, but I am pretty sure I know: Make it entirely a market-based enterprise. You would be dead in five years, from rampant infectious disease if nothing else, or bankrupt. Financially bankrupt, that is.

And most importantly, read the 10th Amendment. This fascist Federal goverment was never granted these powers by the people, and thus those power are reserved to the States or the People.

This government was granted no powers by the people. They took those powers by a bloody revolution. I know which side you would have been on, too! Only losers yap about the 10th Amendment. There has been exactly one 10th Amendment “victory” before the Supreme Court in generations. To others who are still interested in this discussion, do as Herr Glock says and read the Constitution and its granting to Congress power “to make all laws which shall be for carrying in to execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States or in any department or officer thereof.”

Freedom TRUMPS government!

This a tautology of immense silliness. Without social control (government), freedom goes only to those who are of superior physique, intellect, amorality and means. Since none of those attributes is usually attributed to you, I am surprised that you think you would survive long under the Social Darwinism you worship. Or as the distinguished political philosopher K. Kristofferson, Ph.D., once wrote: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

No, you don't believe in freedom my subservient friend. Nor does this President.
Over the years, I have seen that what you think is violation of freedom I see as expanding freedom to others without taking away rights from others.

Saying someone doesn’t believe in freedom is like saying someone doesn’t believe in the weather. It is plain stupid and unproductive. When it rains, it is good for farmers and bad for picnickers. When there is a winter of excessive snow, it is bad for home builders but good for ski resort operators. “Freedom” is a relative term, and your freedom is someone else’s demise. It is a pure concept only when you are running around naked (clothes restricting your freedom, naturally) trying to escape nature’s predators.

"Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither." -- Benjamin Franklin

Real nice, adopting the left’s favorite quote about the Bushitler Administration, run by a president whose grandfather actually did business with real fascists.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Hate the Sinner, Too

The honeymoon lasted just six months, and now President Obama is in the dog house of the American people, a collection of the smartest individuals ever evolved but dumber than amoebae when acting as a group.

Today’s polls show the more Obama talks up the necessity of health care reform, the less the people support him or reform. The Republicans are winning because they, alone among mammals have the ability to stick together -- and lie without shame.

They have opposed everything Obama has done, said or believed without ever coming up with a counterproposal to anything. The reason for that is simple – Republicans do not want anything done at all on any problem facing the country. So their strategy has the benefit of simplicity, as befits their intellect. If you are for nothing, then you are free to attack someone on the basis of his party and now, thanks to Glenn Beck, his skin color.

Everything Republicans have done in the past 20 years has been intended to divide Americans from one another, spew hatred and protect the very wealthy, or those who wish to be wealthy but are too dim to understand they never will be as long as any Republican is ever elected to office. As Harry Truman, as partisan a Democrat as ever lived but who conservatives would have you believe was a Republican, once said: “If you want to live like a Republican, you have to vote Democratic.” When nothing happens, those who have it all prosper. There is no hope for anyone else, and that is the way the debauched demagogues who put their religion above their public responsibilities and their dicks into anything that moves want things.

On health care, the venomous vermin in the Republican party have succeeding in tipping the political debate after losing handily in the last couple of elections. Their lies have finally convinced a majority of Americans that health care reform will hurt them. They have convinced most people that Obama has failed because the economy that Republicans wrecked in eight years has not turned around in six months.

Consider, in the past week elected Republicans have said health care reform legislation will kill old people, allow for an upsurge in abortions, take their doctors away and destroy freedom. And that is because – remember this is all from elected Republicans – the president of the United States is an undocumented Muslim socialist.

I am making none of this up!

Then there is Glenn Beck who has called Obama a racist! And Lou Dobbs, still employed by CNN, who is demanding Obama produce the birth certificate that is part of the public record. And there is Rush Limbaugh, the thrice-married drug-addicted bloviator who could not tell the truth of if he were waterboarded. (If he were, I would feel sorry for the board.)

The problem is that Democrats, or progressives, are incapable of agreeing on even general principles and they are too decent, in general, to adopt Republican tactics that have not changed since Dick Nixon, Dick Armey and Dick Morris crawled out from under rocks. Democrats and progressives are doomed; handicapped by the inconvenience of thought.

So to anyone who thinks Republicans have the answers (and these are people who demand that the federal government keep its hands off their Medicare!), I suggest they:

Lose their Medicare coverage.

Lose their veterans benefits

Lose their Social Security

Lose use of interstate highways

Lose tax deductions on their home mortgages

Lose flood insurance when their trailers are swept away by the Big Muddy

Lose police protection and

Get sick from unvaccinated children or AIDS-infected whores and die.

Then, the only government they will have to worry about is that of the Eternal King. And He is going to be mighty pissed at them.