Tuesday, November 4, 2008

That far-off distant dawn is here

TWENTY YEARS AGO, a transplanted troubador from the South wrote a song about events that occurred 20 years earlier, in the 1960s. It was a song about race relations in the United States, and I first heard it in the late ’80s when he performed it live in the coffeehouse-like crypt of a church on the campus of Columbia University.

Through lyrics woven together in his typically folksy way, singer-songwriter David Massengill of Bristol, Tennessee, covered a lot of ground in his song, from the days of the old Amos and Andy show to the integration of white schools, from church bombings to fire hoses and billy clubs, night riders and lynching mobs, all in an effort to stay "Number One in America."

Ax handles vs. the right to vote.
All-white jury; that's all she wrote.
Back of the bus, Don't rock the boat.
Separate but equal, by the throat.

Perhaps the most personal moment comes when he tells us about an incident in his hometown. The Ku Klux Klan applied for a permit to march there. What many folks up North don't know about Bristol, Tennessee, is that there is also a Bristol, Virginia, and that the two sister cities are actually one city, nearly seamless except for a state line. The boundary is the yellow stripe that runs down the main thoroughfare, known as State Street.

Virginia granted the KKK a permit to march one day, but the Tennessee side said no. And while TV cameras were triple-tiered to record the event, the KKK conducted its demonstration. But on hand to make sure they did not march into Tennessee were a contingent of Tennessee sheriffs and deputies, as well as hordes of white and black Tennesseeans who "laughed and cried and hooted and jeered" until the Klansmen disappeared.

And then David sang this verse, which has stuck with me in the 20-some-odd years since I first heard it:

In some far-off distant dawn,
When a black is president and not a pawn,
Will they burn crosses on the White House lawn
And talk of all the days bygone.

Well, as I write this in Wednesday's wee hours of the morning, that far-off distant dawn is just a few short minutes away. America will wake up soon to the first black president in the history of the republic. And the most amazing thing is, it looks like folks see him for something more than just a man of color. They see him as a man of hope, and promise, and youth.

We've finally come of age. Not unlike the closing tale in David's beautiful song, where he watches a poor white girl pick out one toy, that's all, as her family shops for Christmas presents they can ill afford. This girl picks out a black-skinned doll and holds it to her chest in awe. Curious to see her parents' reaction, our narrator is amazed to discover that the mom and dad are matter-of-fact; they just check to see if the doll is cracked.

We have, indeed, come of age.

I'll leave you with David's clarion call in "Number One in America." It bears repeating as we wake up today in a changed new world, where a black is president and not a pawn.

MAY YOU MAKE A REBEL STAND,
WHERE BLACK AND WHITE GO HAND IN HAND
UNTIL THEY REACH THE FREEDOM LAND.



P O S T S C R I P T : This is for you, Aunt Linda. May you have an especially happy 96th birthday next week, having lived this long to get your one birthday wish!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Choking on his words

Rush Limbaugh, who I call Rosebud, is bitching and moaning about an impending electoral landslide by Democrats, calling it a calamity for the country.

Funny how he changes his tune when people actually follow his advice.

You see, over the past eight years, he happily has been telling liberals they shouldn't resort to the courts to legislate change. If they don't like the way the country is going, they should vote out opposing representatives and elect new ones who will pass laws to their liking. Make the republic what it was meant to be, a representative democracy.

Well, be careful what you say, Rosebud. America is about to vote out another big batch of incumbent representatives and senators and replace them with more moderate, if not leftist, Democrats.

You'd think Rosebud would be ecstatic. But he isn't, of course. I don't think he ever believed we could pull this off. So now that we're about to, he has changed his tune. He's bitching and moaning that it will be an unchecked power grab by the Democratic Party.

Well, let him choke on the ballot box. What Rosebud doesn't want to admit is that this is exactly what checks and balances are all about. We had a Republican in the White House and a Republican-controlled Congress for several years (no bitching and moaning back then from Rosebud, was there?), and look what that got us: Unchecked pork barrel spending that made the GOP look like game-show trailer-park trash on a free shopping spree. (Or Sarah Palin with lipstick, take your pick.)

So now the pendulum has swung back in the other direction. Don't know how long it will last, but that doesn't matter. It's a check, and in the end, over time, on average, it creates balance.

We'll survive whatever comes our way. We always have.

Friday, October 24, 2008


We proudly endorse . . .


A friend of mine outside of Atlanta (who looks amazingly like the actor who played Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird”) has been so excited about the candidacy of Barack Obama he is saving the text of every major speech Obama has given this year.

My soon-to-be 96-year-old great aunt in Connecticut is hoping to live long enough to see Barack sworn in as the 44th president, let alone cast her ballot for him.

Walking through a supermarket that caters to a lot of minorities, I find folks smiling, and I find myself smiling back. They know it's going to happen, and they feel good.

I hear it in their voices. I sense it in their body language. I see it in their eyes.

This is what it must have felt like in 1932, when a nation placed its faith and trust in a New York politician who told us the only thing we had to fear was fear itself.

This politician from Chicago has managed to steer clear of nasty, negative, low-road attacks on his opponents, and if he wins on Election Day, will be that much farther ahead of the game in uniting the country and making us feel good again.

This is the Hope candidate that our nation has been waiting for, longing for, since our previous attempt ran amok in scandal and impeachment.

This is going to be momentous. One of those watershed moments in the history of our republic. That the inauguration of Barack Obama will occur during the 150th anniversary year of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and the bicentennial year of Abraham Lincoln's birth is no small coincidence.

So please, get to the polls and vote. Become a part of history. Be able to tell folks ages and ages hence, that you voted during the Great Election of ’08. That you were there when that “far-off distant dawn” finally arrived.

It will, indeed, make you feel good.

Palintology 101


She's a maverick

Right.

We know a little bit more about this so-called North Star of the Republican Party since John McCain pulled her out of obscurity and thrust her onto the world stage.

It isn't pretty.

She was supposed to be a maverick. A reformer. A foe of big government. A fellow straight-talker. A hockey mom and an average Josephine.

Reformer? She played petty politics in Alaska and fired a professional police officer because he refused to dismiss the cop who divorced her sister.

Foe of big government? Spending rose more than 30 percent while she's been at the helm of state government in Alaska.

Straight talker? She lies everytime the name Bill Ayers flows out of her mouth. Talk about red-baiting. Can you imagine if she were a Democrat taking similar potshots at ex-POW McCain? She'd probably accuse him of palling around with communists!

Hockey mom? At the first chance she got, she went on a spending spree through high-end clothing stores and within a matter of hours spent more money than Joe the Plumber makes in a whole year.

Average Josephine? Not with that $150,000 wardrobe.

When Barack Obama rolls up a landslide in the Electoral College (something GW Bush never did) and the Democrats are masters of both houses of Congress, the only scapegoat the GOP will have besides John McCain is his No. 2, Sarah Palin. They'll be putting her on a bus to nowhere so fast we can only hope Alaskans wise up when her term comes up for renewal and send her back to the boonies.

Bye, bye, maverick.


The Manchurian McCandidate


Now that the debates are over, I can't believe this guy wanted to do 10 of them! It only took three debates for McCain to have a complete meltdown. Sure, he did a better job of answering some of the questions and getting in a few good digs, but when it was all over, I got the feeling it was way past his bedtime.

Forget about calling him at 3 in the morning, Hillary. He won't hear the phone ring.

There should be some sort of mercy rule so this guy doesn't go off the deep end before it's over. End it now. Go out with some dignity. You're going to have nothing left if you keep going like this.

He lauds Joe Sixpack and Joe the Plumber, but he's no Joe Paterno. Seventy-three years is a lot of water under the bridge, and old man McCain can't tread water that long.

So play Taps, retire your colors, and live to fight another day in the United States Senate, where you used to be an honorable and sane man.

Say goodnight, John.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Houston, We Have a Quagmire

“During times of universal deceit,
telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
— George Orwell


Vietnam all over again.

The president sees he can’t impose his will on a foreign country through military force, so his solution is to send in more military. The more soldiers in country, the more U.S. casualties. The more U.S. casualties, the more committed the president becomes to not letting those soldiers die in vain. So he keeps the mission going. And going, and going, and going.

It’s an endless, bloody cycle.

Meanwhile, we disrupt the daily routine of normal Iraqi life, causing thousands to uproot their families and migrate to safer surroundings. Bombings and other attacks by a handful of insurgents claim more and more civilian lives. The unseen enemy picks off our soldiers one at a time, like any revolutionary uprising would. Hundreds and hundreds of years of bitter enmity between two religious sects erupts into bloodshed, fostering an atmosphere of civil war.

Thousands of the very people we aimed to save are dying every year. Our own soldiers and Marines, walking on the edge of this civil war, get caught up in the moment and kill even more innocent Iraqis. Our wide-ranging presence in the region — from supersized warships to overhead stealth aircraft — bumps into the national interests of other nations and causes even more friction and unrest and danger in the region.

And meanwhile, the cost to the American taxpayer skyrockets. Not only are we borrowing more money to finance this debacle, we are indebting our children’s children for years to come with what will surely be the steadily rising ongoing costs of caring for all the men and women we keep sending over there, only to come back traumatized or maimed or dead. How will we pay for that? Who has the money for it?

Speaking of money, we’ve done a great job of destabilizing the price of oil by our very presence in the Persian Gulf, costing those least able to afford it more money at the gas pump.

It’s a miracle the whole place hasn’t already blown up in the president’s face.

At what point do decision-makers realize they have another Vietnam on their hands? 5,000 U.S. dead? 10,000 dead? 30,000 dead? 58,000 dead? Just what we need in Washington: A mirror wall on the other side of the mall.

The president and his new war czars are voicing concern over the local leadership in Iraq. If we see the Iraqi prime minister’s body on a slab sometime soon, will we have the courage to look inward? Will we have ripped yet another page out of the Vietnam playbook by decapitating a government we’re frustrated with?

And on top of all of this, here is a president giddily sending our men and women off to war, writing huge checks for profiteering companies like Halliburton but squeezing every last dime out of the soldiers and Marines who are actually doing the dirty work. Get injured? Well, if your wound is only 10 percent of your whole body area, you only get a small pittance in government compensation. Better luck next tour, son. Speaking of which, how soon can you pack?

What’s that? You say your wound covered 80 percent of your body? Hey, don’t worry, we have only the best facilities for wounded heroes like you: it’s called the Walter Reed Hilton.

What’s that? You won’t need a reservation because you’re dead? Don’t worry, we’ll send some janitors out to the airport to retrieve your body, whenever it is that you get back. It might take a while because, while we pay Halliburton workers to fly first class to Kuwait, you stiffs in uniform have to fly coach to get home, and only when there’s room for you onboard. If we don’t have any maintenance personnel at the plane to greet your casket, don’t worry. They’ve got these great things called forklifts that can do the job.

No wonder they didn’t want pesky photographers capturing scenes like this on camera.

[Believe it or not, this practice was only recently stopped, after a grieving father stood up and shouted his outrage when he learned janitors running a fork lift removed his son’s casket from a commercial flight. No honor guard, nothing. Welcome home, boy. Mission accomplished. Yes, sir.]

War protesters this time around don’t have to bother spitting on our returning soldiers. This war-dodging chickenhawk of a commander in chief has found the one job he’s actually good at: spitting on our returning veterans. [Hey George, been to a military funeral yet?]

We went into Iraq on false pretenses, false promises and false pride. Our hubris made us believe we couldn’t possibly lose a war with a two-bit dictator like Saddam Hussein. We rallied to the flag after 9/11 and we were ready and willing to pay whatever price necessary to go after Osama bin Laden. But we once again underestimated bin Laden, so we devoured whatever raw meat was thrown our way by the dogs of war in the White House. This time, it was Saddam Hussein, though it didn’t matter whether it was Iraq or Iran or Syria. Whatever. The Bush folks could claim al Qaeda was set up practically anywhere before 9/11, facts be damned. And we hungrily swallowed it all.

Riding along embedded in the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld deceit are the distinguished members of the press. We get our news presented with waving flags on our TV screen. Next, I expect to see a silhouette of our Leader, posing with Barney the dog, looking out across a beautiful sunset as another broadcast day comes to a close.

Go back to sleep, America. Don’t trouble yourself with waking up just yet. After all, we paid Halliburton good money for all those body bags. Be a shame to see ’em wasted.



Fairness, shmairness


The other day, Rosebud was ranting about educators who are “force feeding” their pupils with information about global warming. (Rosebud is the term I’ll use from now on for Rushbo, who has a penchant for renaming people as a form of derision. Since he harkens back to an era that is long gone, Rushbo is now Rosebud.)

Anyway, he claims school teachers are abusing their position by indoctrinating youngsters according to the liberals’ playbook on global warming. He bemoaned the fact that no other side was being represented, that there wasn’t even any mention there’s a debate about the subject. He went on to say that it was simply a matter of fairness to have all sides represented. After all, he noted, these are the PUBLIC schools, not privately owned schools.

Unfortunately, what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander, at least not when Rosebud is the gander. Radio and TV shows hosted by conservative mouthpieces like Rosebud, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Drudge, and so on deluge the airwaves with their one-sided diatribes against all things Not Republican. Where’s the fairness in that? These are, after all, the PUBLIC airwaves.

Bring back the Fairness Doctrine? Nothing gets these Neanderthals quaking louder than the threat to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine, which after all, just made sure that the public airwaves were offering equal time to have all sides represented.

Rosebud sees no contradiction in denouncing the Fairness Doctrine when it applies to shows like his but demanding it for schools on issues like climate change.

Way to go, Rosebud.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


He can never be fired, only fired up


The ironies are pretty thick with the Rev. Al Sharpton demanding Don Imus be fired from his job. It must be nice not to have to worry about ever being fired if you don't have a job in the first place.

What exactly does Sharpton do to make a living? Has he spent all that money he raised running for president yet? Nice job that. You can declare your candidacy for president and start raising all this money, traveling about the country with a government-paid posse, living off the local bucks of your grassroots backers, bankrolling your lifestyle with greenbacks collected from even your poorest subscribers, and if you raise enough cash, you can live off of it until the day you disband your campaign organization, which doesn't have to be the day after you lose an election.

Is Sharpton a working, paid minister? If so, he's a pretty lousy one for forgetting one of the chief tenets of his profession. If a sinner confesses his sin, admits he did wrong and apologizes to all those he offended, isn't he deserving of forgiveness in God's eyes? Isn't any card-carrying minister who follows God's teachings supposed to turn the other cheek and forgive a true repentant?

Imus has repented so many times since his on-air racial insult that it's almost sickening to have to hear it over and over. He says he's sorry. He says he was wrong to say what he did. He fully and completely accepts guilt, blame and responsibility. And yet, neither the Rev. Sharpton nor the Rev. Jesse Jackson appear willing or able to forgive ... to say, "I forgive you, brother, for I, too, have sinned."

Didn't Jackson beg forgiveness for his "Hymietown" remark at the 1984 Democratic National Convention? Who even remembers that anymore?

I'm trying to recall the last time Sharpton begged forgiveness for something outrageous he either did or said, but I can't recall any instances, even though he's had plenty of opportunity to do so. From the lies he told about a young black girl being raped by white men (it never happened; the girl, it turned out, was lying), to the inflammatory exaggerations -- and, yes, slurs -- he made during the Crown Heights race riots, he has never admitted wrong, never apologized, never begged forgiveness, even though there's no question his behavior was beyond the pale.

As any real minister can tell you, it was Jesus who said: "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."

I guess Sharpton and Jackson cast their first stones so long ago, they've got no stones left to hold.


Sunday, April 8, 2007


Mission Accomplished

By George Walker Bush

I have succeeded in hoodwinking the American and British people into believing there were 9/11 terrorists in Iraq building nuclear weapons that they were going to aim at the United States and Britain;

I have succeeded in getting the public and Congress to let me invade Iraq, decapitate the Saddam regime, send the local Army home with its weapons, summarily dismiss every government worker because of their party affiliation, and screw up the infrastructure so badly during “shock and awe” that it will take a miracle to get everything back up and running again;

I have succeeded in suppressing the media’s reporting of what’s really going on in Iraq — from the war’s full toll on its citizens to the daily carnage in terrorist bombings and the mass exodus now under way — by keeping them holed up in the only supposedly safe area of Baghdad [although once in a while we let a terrorist come close to their hotel just to scare the bejeebers out of ’em] and by getting dittoheads like Rushbo & Hanno & Billo to castigate them for anything negative they write, under the guise that it’s an attack on our troops’ morale;

I have succeeded in saddling the American people with a debt they will take years to pay off, thanks to my shrewd way of not vetoing any pork-barrel projects during the six years of my reign while Republicans were in control of the purse strings, racking up humongous deficits the likes of which no Democratic Congress had ever seen. Now that those spendthrift Democrats are in charge, here comes that super-secret Veto pen, if I can only find it. Here somewhere. I’ll have to ask my Daddy where he hid it. But we have to keep a lid on Democratic spending so I can keep throwing money down that shithole in Iraq;

I have succeeded in keeping Osama bin Laden at bay so I always have a scapegoat I can point to and blame for the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere. Damn those Iraqis for executin’ Saddam so fast, he had plenty of use still left in him. Must make sure nothing like that happens to bin Laden, unless the polls hit 20 percent, then it’s SELL like Wall Street has never seen before and I miraculously pull out the head of Osama bin Laden.

All in all, I would have to say I succeeded a lot in the last six years. Are we better off today than we were six years ago? He-he-he ... I sure am. Have you seen Halliburton’s stock lately?

On that note, my fellow Americans, I bid you, “Mission Accomplished."


Saturday, April 7, 2007


Petard hoistings

I have my radio in the kitchen tuned to one of the area all-talk stations, and it’s programmed to automatically come on around noon and again at night. In case I’m not home, it makes it sound like someone else is inside the house, so it acts as sort of a security system.

When I’m there and the radio clicks on, I usually let it run. I’ve now gotten quite accustomed to listening to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Matthew Drudge. I’ve come to quite a few conclusions, but I just want to focus on one today.


Why is it when it comes to talking about big government, conservatives like these don’t think government can do anything right. Universal health care? You can’t trust big government with that. Mail delivery? Privatize it, they say. Just about any function you name, they’ll pooh-pooh government’s role in it, claiming private enterprise and fair-market competition can do a much better job.

So it got me thinking, what about war? Where’s their disdain for big government’s handling of military matters? An imbecilic chicken-hawk like George W. Bush can totally fuck up an entire military operation from the get-go -- from disbanding a nation’s military to outlawing the party that ran the country -- leaving us with one unholy shitpile to clean up, and yet these commentators will still pledge their unyielding support for this bumbling commander in chief and a military mission that can never possibly be accomplished. [When Bush was formulating “a new Iraq strategy” during the winter, where was the outrage over the fact that he didn’t have an Iraq strategy to begin with?]

For all my disdain of Halliburton Inc., I think they could probably do a better job in Iraq than the Bush government. Let’s just give them a contract to clean up our mess. Outsource the military. Let some secretive board of directors make the decisions and carry out the business plan. They could probably do it cheaper, hiring non-American labor, thus costing fewer American lives.

Whenever these conservative dittoheads diss the government’s handling of things, don't forget: the military is part of that government.



Odd Sheets of Paper


“Who was that ill-mannered creature,” said Candide, “who spoke so harshly of the play at which I wept so freely, and of the actors who gave me such pleasure?”

“He’s an evil-minded fellow,” said the abbé, “who earns his living by damning every play and every book. He hates a successful writer, just as eunuchs hate successful lovers. He is one of those snakes of literature who feed on dirt and venom. He’s a pamphleteer.”

“What do you mean by a pamphleteer?” asked Candide.

“A dealer in odd sheets of paper,” replied the abbé, “a journalist.”



Introduction

The Left. The Right. The Middle of the Road. I’m tired of getting bombarded by idiots without being able to respond.

The true mission of an honest journalist is to point out the facts on both sides, show contradictions with the known record, and expose hypocrisy, fraud and lies. Truth and justice are the American way, regardless of whether most Americans recognize it when they see or hear it.

“In a democracy,” Ed Klauber of CBS observed in 1939, “it is important that people not only should know but should understand.” Here is my humble attempt to make people understand, with no apologies to the hypocrites, cheats and liars about to be exposed.