Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Chris Christie Blows Into Tampa

As a strengthening Hurricane Isaac takes aim on The Big Easy, seven years to the day of Katrina’s catastrophic devastation, an even bigger bag of wind is set to be unleashed tonight in Tampa as NJ Governor Chris Christie takes the podium as the GOP’s Presidential Convention keynote speaker.

For the past week Chris Christie has been the topic du jour of all the news shows. Morning Joe, Good Morning America, News 12 New Jersey and the front pages of the local press have paraded and fawned over the GOP’s ascending star as if he were the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. 

Journalists ask Christie if he intends to unleash his “fire and brimstone” Jersey hubris during his keynote speech. His tough talking, take no prisoners’ attitude seems to be all the rage in Republican Party circles these days. When GMA host George Stephanopoulos asked Christie if he represented the GOP mainstream Christie answered, “I’ve been to over thirty states since my election as Governor and everyone has welcomed me with open arms. With me you know who you’re buying.” Indeed Christie’s value as a political celebrity is rising. In his brief tenure as Governor he spends a lot of time jetting about the country, politicking for himself and the GOP. He’s been out raising funds for his reelection campaign and his coffers are overflowing with out of state money from his well heeled big time 1% contributors. Mr. Christie’s discerning buyers know what they are purchasing.  His hubris is a nice word for his arrogance and opacity that are the hallmark of the political deals he’s cutting for his out of state friends when he arrives back home in the Garden State.

Christie’s supporters love his tough talking style but his tough talk is nothing more than the arrogance of power, the political and economic elites employ to cover their back room deals. Christie’s tough talk is nothing more than a front to deflect. When a reporter asked Christie about failing water delivery infrastructure and its impact on public health, the tough talking Governor answered “Did I say on topic? Are you stupid? On topic, on topic. Next question,” Christie said to the reporter. “Thank you all very much and I’m sorry for the idiot over there.” Christie also scored big with anti-union and privatization of education supporters by calling public school teachers, “drug mules”.  Its a denigration unworthy of a governor and a damaging characterization of professionals working within a systemically challenged public school system.

Yeah Christie’s a real bad ass tough guy. When a Navy veteran asked for more details from Christie about the proposed merger between Rutgers Camden and Rowan University, he called the gentleman an idiot and used the power of his pulpit to brow beat and insult the man; who had every right as a citizen and taxpayer to receive a respectful reply to his question. This week Christie is crowing that he finally closed the Rutgers/Rowan deal with the bipartisan help of his lap dog democrat friends; as details concerning the financing and costs of the project remain obscure. It will be left to vigilant citizens to follow the money and see where and how state funds will flow into which private hands.

Yes Christie and his GOP supporters may love his tough talking but I suspect they pay a premium for the Christie brand because he knows when to keep his fat mouth shut. Sure their thankful when Christie refuses to shed any light on his business dealings and political moves. Christie’s less then transparent appointments of commissioners to the NJ Highland Commission allowed the governor to pack the oversight board with pro-development interests. The NJ Highlands is a sensitive watershed region for millions of state citizens. In a densely populated state like New Jersey, protection of water resources and environmental conservation should be priorities but out of state El Paso Corp has eminent domain to dramatically expand its pipeline through the ecologically sensitive area to deliver natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale deposit. Is this the fruit of Mr. Christie’s cross country road show to interested buyers?  Christie’s short term profit is New Jersey’s long term problem.

In another strange case of the bloviating governor going mute is his refusal to provide insights into his interests and practices in a privately run prison halfway house business that regularly receives state funded taxpayer money. Governor Christie, “the entrepreneur” catches a bad case of laryngitis when asked to provide insights into his cashing in on the privatization of the prison system and the rent seeking practice of his company using government funds to provide substandard service.

Yeah they’ll be a big wind blowing through Tampa tonight that will rival anything Isaac can throw at New Orleans. Christie will crow about the New Jersey miracle since his governorship began but statistics show that the state is lagging its Mid-Atlantic rivals. Facts and politicians seem to be two mutually exclusive matters so it shouldn’t present an obstacle for Christie to say or claim anything the tough talking Jersey Dough-boy claims as truth.

This is particularly true of a fact based, reality challenged Republican Party that believes there is no science to support climate change, the idea that public schools are a liberal conceit, the notion that women rape victims can’t get pregnant, progressives are enemies of the state and to preserve the constitution we must withhold the rights of some citizens. If you think that this is an unfair shot at the GOP mindset, did you see the GOP California poster of Chris Christie riding a surfboard? Talk about a problem with the concept of reality.

Music Selection: Beach Boys, Surfin Safari

Risk: truth, transparency, civil discourse, consensus

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August 28, 2012 Posted by | democrats, elections, labor, labor unions, republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fall of Prince Charles

Charlie Rangel you stayed one term too long.  Twenty terms in office has taken its toll on you.  You have courageously fought for the marginalized in our society and have brilliantly served your constituency and country.  But like Brett Favre you didn’t know when to call it quits.  You could have gone out on top like a champion of the people you so ably represented during your four decades in public office.  Now your left to tramp through the morass of pedestrian politics to defend your reputation and salvage a bit of your integrity.

I didn’t think it was wise decision to run for reelection during the last midterms.  I thought it was motivated by a selfish ego.  Your alleged indiscretions and misdemeanors have made you the poster child for all overreaching politicians and their supercharged sense of entitlement.  As Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee your oversight to pay taxes on Dominican rental properties, improper use of mail privileges and your expansive portfolio of rent controlled apartments showed you to be a master exploiter of the numerous ways politician lose touch with the mission of service and the means by which they shamelessly serve themselves by using the power of their office.

Mr. Rangel you did your party and your president a disservice by running for reelection.  This country needs new fresh ideas, youthful energy and representatives unsullied by the  graft and excess privilege taking endemic to political careerists. Yesterday, a panel of your peers on the House Ethics Committee convicted you of numerous policy offenses and conduct unbecoming a congressmen.  They did you and the country a huge favor.  The swift dispatch of justice helps our country avoid the political theater of a  national trauma that a Republican controlled and Tea Party inspired Committee hearing would orchestrate for the American people.

During your last campaign I recall some Eyewitness News video of you strolling down 125th Street followed by a courtier of staffers and hangers-on.  As you waded through your adoring constituents they obligingly parted as if to make way for a royal prince.  As you passed by you pointed with extended arm to individuals as if to say to each “‘I see you and you are mine, you are mine and you are mine.”

Clearly the  good Bonnie Prince Charlie is beloved in his principality.  Mr. Rangel has faithfully served the people of the 15th District of New York and brought home some major bacon.   He has fought hard for the marginalized and working people to codify social justice as a law of the land.  But as he pointed to exuberant constituents anointing them with a royal recognition I could not chase the thought of you holding leases on four rent controlled apartments.  Given the national nightmare of home foreclosures and rising homelessness I couldn’t help but think of the families displaced from affordable housing by Mr. Rangel’s gluttonous pursuit of a radical entitlement.  All the good work Mr. Rangel accomplished does not excuse a mindset that  allows one  to rationalize behavior that shuts out needy families from affordable housing.  It’s an example of how power and privilege corrupts the best men and a symbol of all that is wrong with America and the leaders we chose that brought us to where we are today.

Thank you for your service Mr. Rangel.

You Tube Video: Bobby Womack, Across 110th Street

Risk: democracy, corruption, politicians

November 18, 2010 Posted by | corruption, democracy, democrats, ethics, homelessness, politics, republicans, social justice, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann’s Handfull of Subpoenas

Michelle Bachmann recently advanced the idea that the new congress needs to go to Washington with a hand full of subpoenas to fully uncover and punish the criminal behavior of the Obama Administration.   Why does she want to do this?  Why does the Chairwoman of the Republican Tea Party Caucus think this is a good idea?

During President Clinton’s second term the GOP’s extreme partisanship led to impeachment proceedings and severely hampered the effectiveness of our government and its Chief Executive.  This distraction may have made some political hay for Republicans but crippled our Chief Executive’s ability to focus on and deal with the growing terror threat Al-Qaeda was preparing to launch against our country.  The GOP’s actions provided support, aid, cover and comfort to the terrorists and heightened our country’s vulnerability to attack.  Perhaps we should investigate their activities and motives for effectively becoming a Fifth Column for the Evil Doers?

Earlier in the year, Ms. Bachmann’s suggested to Chris Matthews that we should investigate the UnAmerican activities of congress and senate members to root out and expose those who hate America and are actively working for its destruction.  I’m not so sure about this; it may lead to the mass imprisonment of  the Republicans who obstructed President Clinton’s ability to perform his duties as Commander and Chief. With the GOP gone it would be impossible to form a consensus to effectively govern the nation so I’m kinda lukewarm on this one.  After all President Obama and the ruling democrats rely on the good will of the loyal opposition GOP party to show the country that democracy works and that we can all get along.

But because I don’t think Ms. Bachmann’s idea is a good one doesn’t make it bad. After all I’m coming from a pretty partisan place myself.  So in the spirit of consensus building I’m trying to understand why she would propose such a thing.  Though its a dangerous and scary place to visit, I have tried to get inside Ms. Bachmann’s mind to understand her reasoning why she thinks the congress should spend the next session investigating members for crimes against the republic.

I have comprised a list of 13 reasons as to why Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party may think this is a good idea for the country.  Please feel free to add your own.

1. Because its fun to shut the Federal Government down (ask Newt Gingrich)
2. It will heighten partisanship to levels yet unseen
3. Obstructionism is their preferred style of governance
4. Dissent is dangerous to a democracy
(America is long over due for another round of McCarthyism)
5. Enemy combatants sitting in congress must be imprisoned
6. It will demonstrate reactionary street cred
7. Sean Hannity thinks its a good idea
8. Rush Limbaugh thinks its a great idea
9. Glenn Beck tearfully pleads to show no quarter to “Wilsonian Reprobates”
10. Compromise/consensus forming is for sissies
11. Its how Michele Bachmann Mans Up and shows her pair
12. It plays well on Talk Radio and to the rabid dogs in the TP howling for fresh meat
13. 2012 GOP can say we did our best under trying circumstances now give us the White House and Senate. We’ll finish the job. Rove calls it the Coup de Grace campaign. A final silver bullet to the head of the democrats, democratic consensus and Federalism paid and financed by serious 527 money.

You Tube Video: Edvard Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King

Risk: consensus, governance, democracy

November 13, 2010 Posted by | 9/11, Clinton, conservatism, democracy, democrats, Federalism, government, politics, republicans, Tea Party, terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Forth Estate Crosses Over

There is this program that runs on the WE Cable Network.  It’s called Crossing Over with Jonathan Edwards.   Jonathan Edwards is a psychic medium.  He stands in front of a live gathering of 75 people and tunes into psychic vibes emanating through the audience.  The vibes are messages from deceased loved ones who have crossed over the Acheron.  The dead are keen to communicate warnings, good wishes and assurances to assist living  loved ones on how to navigate the tricky vicissitudes of life.   During the show, Jonathan walks about the room picking up on celestial chatter and begins to relay and interpret a soliloquy of the dead like a macabre game of supernatural telephone. Jonathan Edwards asks his audience to suspend all disbelief as he bestrides the nexus of the metaphysical spirit world and the pedestrian reality that most earthlings inhabit.

The most common messages the dead channel through Jonathan seek to absolve the anxiety and guilt of the tormented living.  Crossing Over is popular because it offers its audience an  absolution, confirms personal cosmology and rationalizes the pursuit of desires by affirming the consequences of decisions as a self fulfilling prophecy.  It safely places its audience in a self validating cosmic echo chamber.  Its an ongoing morality tale with only happy endings and unfortunately only a tenuous connection to authenticity and objective truth.

The state of the news media industry is very much like Crossing Over.  The Forth Estate once thought of as an objective arbiter, information dispersant and truth seeking medium it is now chosen and consumed as a branded version of reality.

The devastating earthquake that buried Haitians in heaps of rubble unleashed global battalions of news teams to cover the event.  Many of the news crews from large established networks beat first responders to the scene.  In some cases the arrival of news teams actually held up the arrival of rescue teams and supplies because the airfield and crowed airspace could not accommodate all the traffic.  The news teams were forced to hole up at the airport because blocked roads prohibited them from going anywhere.  I recall Robin Roberts and the GMA News team dodging fork lifts and supply trucks left with nothing more to do then to urgently interview themselves.  Correspondents were reduced to ghoulishly opining about the tragedy while eagerly mugging for the cameras with contorted faces to portray the human tragedy unfolding beyond the range of their cameras.

GMA’s presence added nothing and in fact inhibited rescue efforts.  I thought of all the drinkable water these crews consumed could have been used to quench the thirst of Haitians dying from dehydration. Thankfully the GMA News team soon left after spending a self indulgent weekend at the airport. Their moral outrage registered and attempt at ratings grab accomplished.  Their contribution to shedding light on the scope of this tragedy and placing it in a larger context of its meaning to the global community of nations was lost in deference to the tragedy’s emotional impact on GMA reporters.  For GMA the subjective condition of the emotional distress of their media stars had become the story.   Their viewers must have figured that if GMA’s News celebrities were hurting this story must be big.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta was an example of how a newsman became part of the story in a positive way.  I recall with great admiration watching a camera crew following Dr. Gupta as he walked amidst the rubble of Port-Au-Prince.  He learned of the location of a hospital and went to investigate how it was delivering services to the injured.  Upon his arrival Dr. Gupta discovered the make shift hospital was little more then injured people being placed in the hallway of a building.  The dead were being stacked outside by a wall surrounding the compound.  The hospital had no doctors, nurses, beds or supplies.  The facility lacked water to clean wounds or salve thirst.  What the hospital did have was a constant stream of wounded arriving in greater numbers desperate for any type of care.  The scale of the quake, the massive amounts of injured victims and the overwhelmed capacity of  the hospitals ability to respond was reported in stark clarity.

Dr. Gupta was overwhelmed by parents cradling their broken children.  Dr. Gupta a licensed medical doctor took off his correspondent hat and put on his stethoscope.  He honored his Hippocratic Oath and started treating babies and the wounded with whatever he could cobble together.  Dr. Gupta was no longer a journalist but was now a doctor.  He asked that the cameras stop rolling so he could perform his duties as a doctor.  I’ll never forget the look on Dr. Gupta’s face.  It spoke volumes about the desperate conditions he was confronting and the firm resolve that he would perform his duties as a trained physician under trying almost impossible circumstances.

We could understand Dr. Gupta’s crossover from journalist to doctor.  It was proper and correct response as a human being but as a journalist all objectivity had been lost and in many respects Dr. Gupta had become the story in a constellation of a million stories emanating from the epicenter of one of the great human tragedies of the past century.  This is a departure from the norm of real time documentary reportage.  I can’t tell you how many documentaries I came away from cursing the producers and cameramen for doing nothing to prevent the baby wildebeest from being  consumed by the lion pack or for failing to offer a family of refugees in Darfur a bottle of water or a ride on their jeep to escape the marauding  Janjaweed.

News Corps, network media division Fox News belies the myth of the monolithic liberal mainstream media and its claim of balance in its marketing handle.   Fox News may offer a fair presentment of the news to its conservative viewership but its claim of balance that suggests the inclusion of a liberal perspective in their news product is specious.

Fox News really came of age following 9/11 and the growing conservative drift of the nation. Its useless to posit weather Fox News created the conservative drift or developed programming to market to this political demographic; but the political inclinations of Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch have always been decidedly conservative.  At its founding in 1996, Fox News started differentiating itself from the liberal mainstream media by supporting the Republican impeachment drive of President Clinton, effectively  setting the stage for its partisan approach to reporting the news.  In many respects its unabashed partisanship was a game changer in how news and information was being packaged, positioned and delivered in the emerging narrow casting market paradigm.   Its sentiment not very different from the golden days of yellow journalism practiced by William Randolph Hearst.

Liberals and progressives have criticized News Corp for its lack of objectivity and  balance.  Many believe it to be the official party organ of the Republican Party and its compromised coverage is more akin to propaganda then news.  I believe this to be true as well.  Fox News has countered that it provides both news and opinion.  Fox News employs many of the leading conservative voices.  Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee are senior GOP members on the payroll of Fox News.  They regularly appear on shows hosted by Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity who are conservative celebrities in their own right.  The trick is discerning what is news and what constitutes opinion and editorial content.  The line that demarcates them is increasingly a fine one.  Even the innocuous news blurbs scrolling along the bottom of the TV screen seep in partisanship.  Some may report objective facts like the closing level of the Dow or the latest sports score. These little factoids appear alongside pieces that consistently reinforce the conservative credo of the network.  Its also a practice for commentators like Karl Rove to opine on stories covered on news segments.  The pundits impassioned analysis of the story leaves the listener little room to doubt the interpretation as a validation of the viewers conservative  political sentiments and ideological disposition.  The ability to distinguish fact from opinion becomes increasingly lost in these clouds of obfuscation.

As the model of creating, packaging and marketing partisan news the advent of Glenn Beck as a political entertainer is symptomatic of the maturation of the industry.  Glenn Beck’s show is more of a political reeducation camp that tries to provide low information voters and political neophytes with a more robust framework to understand the history and philosophy of conservatism.  Beck extends the Fox News portfolio of infotainment products.

Beck’s role in encouraging the formation of the Tea Party expands the footprint of News Corp.  Some may consider this crosses the line into political activism but I believe it to be a highly developed form of call and response direct marketing.  Beck’s incessant rants about the imminent collapse of  American democracy, the downfall of free market capitalism and the advocacy of the purchase of gold to hedge against these terrible prospects has attracted  the sponsorship of gold marketers and other fear merchants living large and minting major coin in the time of terror.

Fox is not alone in this sin.  CNBC profited from the pre-crash market run-up and had a vested interest in fueling market speculation and excess.  The business channel owned and operated by NBC  took some heat on this issue in the wake of the market meltdown.  During the market run-ups and the creation of the numerous market bubbles CNBC was taken to task for its roll as a biased shill in creating a risk averse mania that fed into the speculative orgy.  The encouragement of reckless behavior would cost investors and Main Street citizens a good portion of their retirement savings.  Jon Stewart took on CNBC celebrity Jim Cramer for his role in stoking unhealthy speculation. The claim of caveat emptor is not a sufficient disclaimer to absolve CNBC of this perceived wrong doing.  Information and data is the fuel that powers the capital market engine and viewers perceived CNBC to be a critical channel for this type of decision support data and analysis.  As animated red bulls flashed across the TV screen screaming “buy buy buy” the speculative urge feeding the demon greed of Cramer’s viewers jumped at the prospect to secure easy profits and pushed the execute button to route a flood of orders to E-Trade.

Media outlets were not alone in profiting from the conflict of interest in their business model.  The rating agencies Moody’s, Standard and Poors and other issuers of financial health assessments were roundly criticized for a business model that accepted fees from companies  to determine their investment ratings investors use to judge safety and soundness of the companies securities.  Investment banking institutions like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley ran into trouble for trading securities that they advised their clients to hold in investment portfolios.  Large commercial banks have also been called on the carpet for the inherent conflict of interest in their mortgage lending business that integrated mortgage underwriters, originators, servicers, securitizers and investors under a single roof.

Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has given corporations a megaphone to direct enormous amounts of capital and influence on Americas political culture.  The exponential growth of the political industrial complex places media companies on the cusp of an emerging market.  News Corp occupies a well defined franchise in the vortex of this growth industry.  News Corp will be the predominant media channel attracting politically sponsored advertising from 527 corporations to advocate issues central to the conservative agenda.  The market for political theater is strong and growing and News Corp has one of the hottest theatrical properties in celebrities like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.

If Fox News bends and packages information with selected editing in support of political narrative; Andrew “NAACP” Breitbart and James “ACORN” O’Keefe edits news to create a false narrative to affirm ideology.  The omnipresent  multi-channel digital world and the need for consistent real time affirmation justifies entrapment and libel as fair game in the political narrative. The specious political ethics of radical entitlement, means justify ends, medium is the message and relativistic ethics is the next step of  an ideologically mature ,technologically enabled infotainment industry.  The self affirming echo chamber that verifies fact and swears to any truth is blessed with selective amnesia and a self correcting mechanism of  a highly refined subjective fact checker informed by extreme prejudice.

Jon Stewart  use of satire and exaggeration to make a lager point of clarified and reified truth is old school stuff.  In the Age of the Avatar,  the real, the imagined, the intended and the manifested get confused in the digital clouds of form, delivery and content. The medium is the message, the network is the computer and Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity was a marketing event to stake a claim on the market of moderation.  No doubt a highly educated discerning market segment with lots of disposable income.  Its only downside its getting a little long in the tooth.

The Forth Estate is rapidly evolving due the dramatic changes in technology, market structure, business model and consumer consciousness.  The role of the free press and the constitutional protections it enjoys in a democratic society is under siege and on the verge of bankruptcy.  The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and LA Times are old media institutions struggling to stay financially solvent and culturally pertinent.  Time will tell of their ability to evolve and create a sustainable business model  that will be validated by a market economy.  We have learned that truth, disclosure and transparency are not priceless assets but virtues that must support a sufficient  p/e ratio to to survive in a capitalist economy.

The past few weeks we’ve had a few First Amendment martyrs.  Rick Sanchez, Juan Williams and Keith Olbermann learned that the sword was more powerful then the pen.  The more important lesson that managers could remove them on the whim of executive fiat if they failed to demonstrate restraint of pen and tongue.  In actuality the  removal of these gentlemen from the news desk was more of a business decision then a violation of  their right of Free Speech.

As we enter the second decade of our two wars on terrorism even the embedded journalists rolling through the distressed hamlets of Iraq and Afghanistan are getting a bit war weary.  Like a captive hostage the embeds could not help but to identify with their chauffeurs.  The brave soldiers driving the Humvees’ were always in control of what the embeds saw, was responsible for their safety and quickly became the reporters best friend born of dependency, admiration and the comradeship that develops during war.  Objective reportage was the first causality in this  type of arrangement.

We need to take a cue from Jonathan Edwards.  He is the real shaman of our time.  Blessed with unique skills to help his audience to realize that self affirming connection is only possible by crossing over and taking suggestions from the well placed authorities residing in an unseen mysterious supernatural world.

You Tube Music Video: Tom Waits, Lie to Me

Risk: First Amendment, free speech

November 12, 2010 Posted by | 9/11, banking, branding, business, Clinton, commercial, commodities, culture, democracy, democrats, economics, elections, government, history, investments, marketing, media, news, philosophy, politics, product, regulatory, sustainability, Tea Party, war | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank You Tea Party

America wakes up this morning to a new political reality.  America has decidedly turned a  shade of reactionary red.  We thank the Tea Party for showing us the way back to a dead past.

We thank you for your activism and energy.  We thank you for the passion. We thank you for your professed love of country.  We thank you for showing us how to spend the piles of corporate money on disgusting attack ads in service to our great democracy.  We thank you for reminding us that the US Constitution is America’s most precious asset even if you sometimes miss the point about what it actually says.

We thank you for returning the country back into the hands of the GOP.  After two years of living under the fascist hell of the dictatorial regime of Barack Obama the endurance of the people could suffer it no longer.  We long to enjoy the freedoms that tax cuts for the rich, corporations freed from regulatory shackles and the old time religious revival of laissez-faire capitalism offers as the only way to assure the social uplift of all citizens.

The GOP thanks the Tea Party for returning the country to their control.  The GOP appreciates the Tea Partys expeditious return to their local districts so Republicans can get on with the serious business of government. The serious business of government is working seriously with serious business people with serious money to address the serious problems of these serious constituents.  In all seriousness the GOP will tirelessly labor to solve the serious problems for these serious constituents.

The nation thanks you for the lively political theater you presented during the election.  Your eccentric cast of characters,dressed like Nazi enacters,wacky witches, militant militiamen, Adolph Hitler lookalikes and long dead patriots in tri-corner hats added some much needed levity to the weighty matters confronting the nation.

We thank the Tea Party by supporting a field of candidates that had the courage to publicly speak their convictions to raise the specter of  prejudice and fear.  The Tea Party’s religio-political fundamentalism raised the fear bar to heights that dwarfed even the three lanterns glowing in the Old North Church.  Like Paul Revere before them, Tea Party patriots road across the land alerting kin and countrymen to the dangers of secularism, recalcitrant Islam, liberal government, homosexuality, Charles Darwin and evolution, foreigners or any Mexican immigrant idling too close to our southern borders.

The Tea Party has given us pause to reconsider our addiction to caffeine fueled government spending and a lavish lifestyle and choice of coffee as national drink.  If you pardon the French, chai is now the preferred brew du jour.  So with pinky up we lift a tiny cup to celebrate the day by swilling a mouthful of Red Rose with the fervor of an Afghani, Ottoman or Brit.

Thank you Tea Party. Thank you.

You Tube Music Video: Sly and the Family Stone: Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again

Risk: consensus, political, pluralism

November 3, 2010 Posted by | conservatism, democracy, democrats, elections, government, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Better Way (3): Vote Green Party

It was the summer of 75.  I was going into my sophomore year in college.  I just switched my major from business to political science and I was standing in front of a shopping mall on the outskirts of Boston getting signatures to secure ballot status in the State of Massachusetts for the Social Workers Party (SWP) Presidential candidate Peter Camejo.  That afternoon as I dodged shopping carts, roller skating kids and big finned cars spewing black emissions from leaded fueled V8’s,  I secured over 300 signatures from fellow citizens in support of a ballot listing for a socialist candidate for president.  I did so by engaging my fellow citizens in an appeal to their democratic sentiments.  I explained to each person who stopped to listen that their signature was an authorization to grant ballot status for the candidate.  Signing the petition was not an endorsement of the candidate or his views or an indication that they would vote for him.  The petition solely conferred ballot status to the candidate so that his views may be represented in the democratic market of ideas and voted on.  Most people readily if not eagerly signed the petition.  All felt it was critical that all opinions needed to be heard.  For many it was a passionate defense of the democratic process and a celebration of their commitment to the ideals of a democratic republic.  I doubt weather today’s voters would be so approachable.  The ability to listen with an open mind or being amenable to signing a petition to grant ballot status for a socialist candidate is rapidly disappearing from America’s political culture.  Pluralism is under attack.  It is being hunted down and eradicated like a species of animal unfit to live in a democratic landscape meticulously manicured by the Glenn Beck’s and Rush Limbaugh’s of the world.    Times have certainly changed.

In the interest of transparency and in the spirit of full disclosure I feel the need to admit that I have always been a registered independent voter ever since I was eligible to vote.  At the age of 54, I have been an active voter for 36 years and during that time I have rarely missed an opportunity to exercise my right and fulfill my responsibility as a fully enfranchised citizen in a democratic republic.

Like those who signed my petition back in 75 I consider it a privilege and duty to participate in the electoral process.  I always believed that free and open elections were a distinguishing characteristic of  America.  I consider voting a bedrock right that must be exercised to assure that democracy endures.   The US Constitution and The Bill of Rights remain the surest guarantor of our democratic freedoms and can only be defended by celebrating our enfranchisement through the consistent practice of voting.

The right to vote was hard won.  It was the a fruit of liberty watered with the blood of revolutionaries.  It was the full promise of liberation made to former slaves wrested from the peace won from drinking a long draft of wine pressed from the grapes of wrath.  Women right to vote was finally won well after the century mark of our republic finally securing true universal suffrage for all citizens.  When I vote I believe myself to be honoring the hard fought and dearly won suffrage victory of those who went before.  I scratch my head at learning that Meg Whitman only recently realized that healthy democratic societies requires its citizens to participate in the electoral process.  The growing preponderance of retired multi-millionaire businesspeople running for office is a curious development.  This new breed of politician comes before the electorate speaking about the poverty of the systems political values.  Emboldened with a perverse freedom from want these candidates approach politics as the next step in an enterprising career move.  Flush with cash channeled from their personal version of the American dream they testify to the sanctity of laissez-faire democracy and  are willing to use a portion of their treasure to keep hope alive for a very very select few.

During my 36 year voting career in national, state and local elections I usually vote for third party candidates.  I do this because I believe that the duopoly of our political system does not provide sufficient options for a differentiated choice between the two ruling parties.  I vote for progressive  third parties because I believe it important that we break the stranglehold of the two party system.  A precondition to breaking the control of the duopoly is to alter the political psychology of American voters.  This takes education, enhanced transparency and the visibility and honest engagement of third party candidates, not their demonization.    I try to vote for the person over party and I have voted for a Republican or two over the years.  If a third party candidate is not running for office I more then likely vote Democrat because I believe them to be a closer match to the political interests of my social position and political aspirations.

The expansion of choice, the delineation of positions, the articulation of differing visions and approaches to problems are important to the health of a democratic society.  The people who signed my petition for SWP ballot status knew and respected the importance that all voices need to be heard.  Some as I recall even expressed a dislike for socialism but voiced a love of democracy.  By signing the petition they demonstrated their commitment to cherished democratic ideals was greater then their political prejudices; believing that all voices needed to be heard and fairly judged by an open and free electorate.

The deep abiding respect for Americas democratic culture is in dire jeopardy.  The sickening video of a Rand Paul supporter stomping on a woman carrying a banner in support of his opponent has become an iconic symbol of American politics.  Last week, unlicensed security personnel for Sarah Palin’s handpicked Alaska Senate Candidate Joe Miller, handcuffed and forcibly restrained a reporter who dared to ask Mr. Miller a question.  These incidents are being played out against a backdrop of virulent attack advertisements playing in continuous loop on all media channels.  The unending stream of personal attacks demonizes the candidates that feature fantastic claims framed by blatant lies in service to a narrow ideology that protects the power and privilege of special interests.

Or consider the surreal parade of “I Am You” candidates.  These non-professional politicians speaking the hard truths political correctness refuses to utter, make comical faux pas that reveal damning personal virtues like witchcraft, Nazi affectations, knuckleheadism, opportunism and scoundrelism.  This off putting political theater erodes our faith and confidence in democratic process.

One can imagine the enemies of democracy gleefully advancing the careers of the political cretins presenting themselves as viable candidates.  These dangerous Fifth Columnists actually endanger democracy.  They are so off putting that the electorate will revile from the choices, like in Nevada which allows the voter to pull the lever for none of the above.  In fact an insidious Republican PAC is running ads aimed at Latino voters in the Southwest.  The ads advise Latinos to boycott the election and vacate the right to vote because the Democratic Party has abandoned them.  The advertisement concludes that not voting is the best way to send a message to the Democrats.

One also needs to evaluate and consider the big money moving into the campaign on behalf of  the two major parties.  The source of “big money” is big moneyed interests.  The Supreme Court decision of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has unleashed a tsunami of corporate money into the electoral process.  The money is buying favor from our elected representatives.  Lots of this money is flowing into the campaigns of Tea Party backed candidates who are running under the well worn moniker of Republicanism, exposing the sham masquerade of their avowed independence.

Big money is instilling fear and favor into politicians of the established parties.  Donkeys and Elephants are eager to avoid the scorpion sting of big money finance vehicles and are just as eager to mainline the addictive smack of big money contributions.  One can argue this has degraded and devalued the significance of our vote but I am here to assert that the value of our vote has never been greater.

Free people deserve more then a choice between the lesser of two evils.  If we value our democracy we must not squander our votes on candidates whose interests are antithetical to our own.  The Green Party offers a vision and solutions that are not beholden to the special interests that have a stranglehold over our political institutions and economic system. The political pornography polluting our airways is clogging the arteries of our body politic.  America can no longer suffer the paralysis of government engendered by extreme partisanship or the promulgation of  fear promoted by intractable power elites.  America is in desperate need for a cure the lesser of two evils cannot provide.  The greater or lesser evil can only be avoided by voting for a progressive candidate not bought or controlled by those who continue to thrive off the misery of our broken system.   The back and forth swing  of a pendulum that oscillates between the radical conservatism of the Republicans and the ineffectual liberalism of the Democrats united in service to a common master needs to come to a blessed end.  America can break with this cycle.  A vote for Green is a vote for the sustainable future of  a more democratic and just America.

The Ten Key Values of the Greens

Social Justice
Community-Based Economics
Nonviolence
Decentralisation
Future Focus/Sustainability
Feminism
Personal and Global Responsibility
Respect for Diversity
Grassroots Democracy
Ecological Wisdom

You Tube Music Video:

Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, This Land Is Your Land

Part 1: Tea Party Fundamentalism

Part 2: Damnation of the Democrats

Risk: democracy, elections

November 1, 2010 Posted by | conservatism, culture, democracy, democrats, elections, ethnic, government, Palin, politics, psychology, republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Deserve Better (2): The Damnation of the Democrats

A few days after President Obama took office I remember him emerging from a meeting at the Pentagon.  The summit was arranged to brief the Commander In Chief on the progress of the wars and to assure the nation that the new president was in-sync with his generals and admirals charged with running the war.  Emerging from the highly publicized meeting America’s new war time president stated “as long as the generals take care of what they have to do, we’ll take care of what we have to do.”  I found the statement to be unsettling.  It implied that  the new administration would not alter the course set by the previous administration insuring that the inertia of Bush’s policies and strategies would continue unabated.  On another level Obama’s statement also seemed to suggest an abdication.  I get nervous to think that the Commander in Chief  has ceded civilian control of the greatest military force the world has ever known.  The decision to pursue war or enjoy peace is too delicate a matter to be left to the decisions of an entrenched military-industrial bureaucracy.  The abdication of assertive control, weather its born from the desire to get along, build consensus or a deep seated need for acceptance has been a disturbing custom of Obama’s presidency and the prevailing characteristic of the Democratic Party.

Obama’s easy surrender to established protocols, processes, precedents has been a hallmark of his presidency.  It exemplifies the failure of the Democratic Party’s oppositional legacy to Republican rule during the two previous Bush Administrations.  At every turn, the Democrats gave in to the Republican conservative legislative agenda with little or no dissent.  The Patriot Act, the blind march to  two unnecessary wars, the dismantling of government oversight and regulatory controls on business, the slavish submission to Republican led expenditures or tax cuts in service to corporate welfare and the tepid lip service to the struggle for social justice made the democrats complicit accomplices in America’s dramatic conservative swing.

The democrats failure as an oppositional force to counter the reactionary juggernaut of neo-conservatism has emboldened the reactionary impulses of the ruthless power elites.  Threatened by economic distress and disintegration of our political institutions, Americas ruling  plutocracy has spawned a malevolent Tea Party movement to crush any progressive populism that may arise to counteract their social position, economic power and political sovereignty. The democrats adamant refusal to stand firmly against the destructive impulses of xenophobia and virulent nationalism has allowed an ugly chorus of fear to become our new national anthem.  The resentful voices of suspicion, intolerance and  exclusion grows ever louder each day as emboldened Falangists and neo-fascists take center stage on a surreal  commercial production of American political theater.

In defense of President Obama his presidential campaign and his administration have expressed a deep desire to pursue a political consensus.  This sentiment is admirable and the ability to form a consensus is an absolute and critical virtue to the health of a democratic society.  The freedom to express differing opinions, voice dissent, air grievances, petition, ability to listen, interest to hear, converse, change opinions and assimilate these competing impulses to form a consensus to express the common will are what makes democracies imperfect yet the fairest expression of governance.  Mr. Obama has sought to pursue and build consensus with an opposition Republican Party that has been nothing short of obstructionist since the democrats assumed control of the Executive office.  Rush “Country Firster” Limbaugh said it best “I hope he fails” set the tone and sealed the intractability of Republicans and any possibility of bipartisan cooperation to deal with the critical issues confronting the nation.

Last summers spectacle of town meetings designed to initiate a national conversation on Health Care Reform devolved into a partisan shouting match and an opportunity for the formation of the Tea Party galvanized by propaganda about a socialist takeover of the economy, death panels, and the idea that President Obama was a fascist dictator.  At this point President Obama still took the opportunity to sit down with the leadership of the GOP in a televised discussion to initiate a dialog.  The Consensus Builder in Chief was rebuffed again.  The democrats responded by killing single-payer and backing down on universal health coverage.  The watered down health care reform bill accomplished an extension of coverage for more, but not all Americans and eliminated preexisting conditions as a disqualification for coverage while also extending the power of insurance companies by making it mandatory that all tax payers purchase health insurance.

This reform is not a significant ground breaking legislative event.  President Obama and the democrats should have recognized early on the inability to work a compromise with the obstructionists in the Republican Party.  As is the case with Cap and Trade legislation, rescinding  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan war, financial services reform, TARP and the economic stimulus bill;  the GOP, “Party of No” has done everything in its power to derail the efforts of the democratic party to address the deep problems confronting America.  The Democratic Party should have leveraged its control of the legislative and executive branch of the Federal Government to push through a program for a new America.  The pressing circumstances of history required decisive leadership and bold ideas to address the complex problems confronting America.  FDR’s “New Deal” or Johnson’s “Great Society” were ideas accompanied by innovative legislation to solve systemic problems.  The democrats tepid response acquiesced to the conservative demands of the GOP.   The Blue Dog Democrats yelped and barked louder then any rabid GOP hound subverting a robust game changing legislative response to the problems confronting America.

The democrats would again demonstrate their timidity in how they responded to the Gulf Oil Spill.  If the free falling economy was the equivalent of economic Armageddon the Horizon Deep Water catastrophic oil spill was its environmental equivalent.  In each case President Obama fashioned piece meal responses designed not to offend “free market evangelists” for fear of being accused of over reaching.  Both instances provided opportunities to mobilize the nation and its significant resources in these titanic tests of national resolve.  In both instances the cojones challenged donkeys failed to seize the reins of state to wield its power.  I am still shocked by images of Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein pulling the strings on Timothy Geithner like a marionette to exact concessions during the banking crisis.  Or consider the high profile of BP CEO,  Tony “I want my life back” Hayward mounting a $50 million PR campaign to quell any concerns that the benevolence of corporate capitalism will eventually “set things right.”    The Republicans turned this into President Obama’s Katrina with Bobby “don’t spend no stim in Louisiana” Jindal taking the EPA to court for declaring a moratorium on deep water drilling.  And the fattest of fat cats Republican Mississippi Governor Haley “rebuild the casinos first” Barbour shaming Obama to spend a portion of his non- Martha Vineyard family vacation swimming in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a PR disaster for President Obama because he failed to act with the resolve or manner of a strong decisive leader.

But now as the midterms approach the democrats must answer to a crumbling alliance of constituencies that they have taken for granted and failed to help.  They are unable to see  constituents as anything other then a demographic voting block devoid of a face, personality or soul.  The democrats see stereotypes not people.  Labor unions are blue collar voters that now approximate 7% of registered voters.  This year the democratic controlled legislature failed to act on Card Check legislation that would protect the right of labor unions to vote and organize non-union companies.  Another important constituency of the Democratic Party is the LGBT community.  The military said it would comply with the decision of a California District Court  that overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Incredibly, President Obama’s Attorney General appealed the decision and asked the court to reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Teacher unions are also big supporters of the Democratic Party, but many democrats support school vouchers and Charter Schools and seem unconcerned that financial and institutional support of public schools continues to erode.  Working class families and woman  are under severe distress as unemployment rates approach 10%, home foreclosures rise , spiraling cost of living increases spike, the cost of sending kids to college slip out of reach and a marked erosion in quality of life and expectations for a secure future and comfortable retirement evaporate.    The democrats did little to solve these pressing problems save the offer of cheap lip service that they understand their pain.  Charlie Rangel secure in the refuge of his four rent controlled apartments will not feel the cold experienced by a homeless mother and her children this winter;  nor will Hillary Clinton lose any sleep worrying about  deploying Chelsea to fight an incomprehensible war in Afghanistan.

This mid term election democratic candidates are running away from their unpopular president.  They will run on a platform of tax cuts and appear as local election district manifestations of gun toting patriotic Christophanies.  The poverty of a party with no conviction of principle is made plain.  Having no principles, Democrats have not offered a true alternative to reactionary Republicanism.  Nearsightedness has robbed them of a vision for a new republic.  They offer no demarcation with the broken policies that preceded their rule.  The hallmark of their governance has been the complete compromise with an recalcitrant opposition; content to administer a broken and corrupt apparatus rather then chart a new path.  The democrats remain shining examples of self serving politicians retuning to office  on mythical inertia to secure rent controlled apartments while public housing remains an endangered and dear want for many.  They believe themselves to be righteously led by the presiding shame of a president made possible by an epic civil rights struggle who cannot muster the fortitude or conviction to extend the equal right of marriage for one of his liberal constituencies.

We deserve better.

You tube Music Video: Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Compared to What

Risk: democracy, two party political system, liberalism

 

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Bush, conservatism, culture, democracy, democrats, environment, labor, LGBT, Obama, politics, recession, republicans, social justice, TARP, taxation, Tea Party, unemployment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fundamentalist Politics in Nevada

Political operatives  circulate this photo in an attempt to taint the reputation of candidates running  for office in highly contested elections.  It has surfaced again in the Nevada Senate  election  campaign of Harry Reid and Sharron Angle.

I recently received an e-mail with this lovely image. The e-mail states that this is a photo that captures the 1889 public execution of Remus Reid for horse stealing and other crimes in the Montana  Territory Prison.  Remus is an ancestor of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Mr. Reid is running for reelection and is locked in a campaign battle with Teabagger darling Republican Sharron Angle.

The e-mail stated that a professional genealogy researcher (read: political hack) discovered this photo and asked Harry Reid if he cared to comment on it.  Mr. Reid’s reply maddened the author of the e-mail, stating that Mr. Reid’s reply is a typical example of his Bull Shit.  To quote the e-mail on this disingenuous genealogical inquiry:

“Believe it or not, Harry Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

“Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

NOW THAT’s how it’s done, Folks! That’s real POLITICAL SPIN, or typical Reid “BS”

The real BS of this story comes from Sharron Angle and her political propagandists.  This Teabagging wind bag asserts that she has been anointed by God to save Nevada and the Union from socialists, liberals and terror loving anti-Americans (read democrats).  God officially came out for Ms. Angle’s candidacy a few weeks ago.  Not surprising since Jesus Christ has been the unofficial head of the GOP since at least the Reagan Administration.  The breaking news of God’s endorsement of Sharron Angle was scooped by that hard hitting team of journalists at the 700 Club.  You can see the story here:

Interesting this deeply Christian women says nothing about repealing gambling or legalized prostitution in her state or ending the wars but will make it her first order of business if elected to repeal the health care bill that extends coverage to all citizens.  Curious that God would direct this deeply religious woman to deny health care to the poor and give a free pass to the wealthy riding their camels through the golden eye of the needle.  Somehow I don’t think Ms. Angle’s positions are something that Jesus would support.

To make a point of righteous indignation, we get Ms. Angle circulating photos of a public hanging of Mr. Reid’s ancestor.  I don’t believe Jesus would approve of this either but Ms. Angle no doubt knows a side of Jesus Christ I have yet to discover.  So Mr. Reid responds with some amusing political satire to the inanities of Rovian inspired Teabagger politics and the point becomes the political spin of Mr. Reid.

I imagine Ms. Angle is trying to hold Mr. Reid accountable for the crimes of a distant ancestor that was dead before he was born.  Theologically this is not very Christian of Ms. Angle.  According to Jesus everyone is responsible for their own salvation.  The sins of my father and great great uncles may be visited upon me but I am not responsible nor accountable for those sins.  Christianity teaches people are active agents in their own salvation.  Ms. Angle should go back to Sunday School.  There are loop holes to this belief.  According to Pat Robertson, the CEO of the 700 Club, the only exception to this New Testament precept is if you are Haitian and your ancestors made a pact with the devil to rid Haiti of French colonial rule.  But as far as we know Mr. Reid is not Haitian (though at press time we understand that Rush Limbaugh is reviewing Reid’s birth certificates) and so would not fall under this rule of being guilty for your ancestors sins.

This e-mail campaign is typical reactionary Rovian electoral tactics.   It is born from the same virulent partisan attacks of Andrew Breitbart that demonstrates no allegiance to truth and less to the guidance of any moral compass in journalistic pursuit.  Again in my estimation a most Un-Christian practice.  Attack an opponent to raise an emotional response using lies and racist symbolism are Tea Party practices that is rife throughout the movement of these little neo-fascist Christian Falangists.

The less said about issues and substantive programs to address the deep rooted problems of our country the better for the Teabaggers and the GOP.  The Party of No got their Brown Shirt Shock Troops motivated around no taxes, no social welfare, more guns and prayers.  It is the sycophantic mantra for a white middle class movement that patronizes class distress and offers no solutions to their pressing economic and cultural constriction.  Nothing about issues. All about raising an emotional response with cliche, platitudes and negative symbolism.

Many of the original western settlers had a hand in the violent displacement that stole land from the Native Americans.  Did Ms. Angle’s ancestors occupy Native American land as they colonized the West?  Did Ms. Angle’s ancestors rightly compensate Native American’s for their land when they took control of the hood?  If Remus Reid horse stealing ways is a valid campaign issue perhaps we should examine the genealogical lines of other westerners to determine how they got control of the land that they currently occupy.

One last point about the e-mail that I found curious was that “Politically” was misspelled in the subject line.  The subject line read: Politicaly correct? I wonder if the ignorance born from people who quote words like “refudiate” are seen as badges of honor.  These badges (kind of like Rush Limbaugh’s imaginary medals of honor that adorn his puffed up chest) are worn only by True American’s who hate pin headed liberal intellectuals who know how or care enough about the quality and “correctness” (there’s that word again) of communication to use a spell checker.  Correctness, accuracy, truth and morals means little to the authors of these e-mails and the Andrew Brietbarts of the world.  Its all about the preservation of their cosmology that protects the fundamental truths of political party, social class an eroding culture of privilege and  a warped theology.

Who ever is sending this stuff out, Joseph Goebbels would be proud of you. Keep repeating the Big Lie. Pretty soon you’ll begin to believe it yourself and swear its true.

My response  to this dangerous nonsense:

Kristallnacht in America

Il Duce’s Ghost

American Evita

You Tube Video: Paul Robeson, Ballad of Joe Hill

Risk: culture, politics, religion, truth

July 27, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, culture, democracy, democrats, elections, faith, republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Name Is Legion

stempedeOne of the more disturbing Gospel passages for me appears in the fifth chapter of Mark.  It is the story of Legion;  a man possessed of many demons.  Legion lived amongst tombstones and took to cutting himself.  The townsfolk were terrified of Legion and bound him with chains.  Legion would break his chains and he could be heard howling and cursing his fate as he roamed the night in lonely exile through his mountainous domain.

One day Legion saw Jesus approaching the village and went to him begging not to torment him.  Jesus saw that the man was possessed of demons and commanded them to leave the stricken Legion.  When the illness left Legion the demons asked Jesus if they could inhabit a heard of pigs foraging nearby.  Jesus consented and the pigs went mad and rushed off a cliff into the sea where all the pigs drowned.

Though the story may be the first accounting of a human sickness causing a swine flu infestation it always bothered me.  Jesus’ consent to infect a heard of innocent pigs whose sickness compelled them to leap to their deaths is disturbing.   Perhaps there is a cultural justification to the story for the prohibition of eating pork and the classification of pigs as haraam but upon rereading the story,  it was the desire of the illness to enter the swine.  The story is a wonderful examination of the non-discriminate nature of illnesses and disease.  Jesus provides the reader with an important lesson not to shut out the ill and to take considered action to engage the malady to effect the cure.

Who amongst us does not have demons or illness lurking within?  Indeed we are all Legion.    As a person in recovery, I identify with Legion’s state of possession and find great comfort in Jesus’ example of the necessity to heal. He rebuked the use of chains, showed tenderness and empathy to the infirm.  He effected the cure and commanded the ill to rejoin the the community as a whole and healthy human being.  John Donne’s Meditation 17 is very similar in the importance of community in dealing with illness and tribulation.

Jesus’ understanding of illness and his example as a healer stands in direct contradiction to some of the inane proscriptions for dealing with the swine pandemic that have been put forward.  Guided by fear and the desire to politicize the pandemic some politicians are using the swine flu as an opportunity to collect some political capital.  The Stepford Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman; observed with great intelligence and insight that the the last swine flu outbreak occurred while another democratic administration held the White House.  Ms. Bachman apparently suspects that the pandemic may be politically inspired and connected to the platform of the Democratic Party in some way.

Twitter and other social networking sites are alive with tweets proclaiming this is evidence of another terrorist attack.  Ive seen a bunch of tweets stating this pandemic is clear evidence of Al-Qaeda activity in Mexico using our open borders to destroy America.

This type of thinking is very dangerous.  I remember when AIDS first surfaced as a disease.  Little was known about its origins and causes.  What was known was that many Gay men were becoming infected with the disease and if I recall correctly it was referred to as the Gay influenza or virus.  This categorization of AIDS stigmatized the disease and those who were infected.  This stigmatization contributed to the spread of the disease because homosexuals who were infected with AIDS would avoid treating the disease because of guilt and shame.  Non-gay men who were infected with the disease may have been slow to seek treatment because they believed themselves not to be infected because they did not engage in homosexual activities.  In either case the misinformation, stigma and shame attached to the disease by people for the purpose of political gain were responsible for the spread of the disease.

The howling yodelers of Talk Radio and Fox News are also crowing about the political dimensions of the flu.  Some want an immediate closure of our borders and question the political resolve of of the Obama Administration to live up to their pledge to protect the Homeland.  Glen Beck of FOX TV states that President Obama is a prisoner of his liberal PC convictions.  Beck cries through a river of alligator tears about  the failure to close the borders is synonymous with an act of sedition that seeks to destroy America.

While Mr. Beck professes a great love for his country he demonstrates a poor understanding of  what distinguishes America.  Just lurking underneath the surface of Mr. Beck’s demagoguery is blaming Mexicans for the pandemic just as Ms. Bachman blame of democrats for the spread of the disease.  Science  instructs that illness is an equal opportunity malady.  It does not discriminate on the basis of people place or color.

In Mark’s story about Legion, Jesus took action.  Jesus didn’t say use a more study chain nor did he say build a wall around us to protect us from this scourge.  No Jesus touched Legion.  In story after story Jesus touched lepers,  blind people, crippled and the dead to cure them.  Jesus was available during his ministry to all people and allowed others to touch him so that their faith would free them from their demons.  Jesus understood that a wall of ostracism is a poor defense from a pandemic.  Ironically its isolation that incubates the disease of body, mind and soul.  Jesus  stressed that the ill be part of the community to witness and teach others about restoration, rehabilitation, the importance of action and the need to serve.

Politicizing problems obfuscates solutions. The mother of fear is ignorance and the thinking exemplified by Ms. Bachman and Mr. Beck is enough to create 10 pandemics of fear, suspicion and resentment.  Little do they realize the real gold that can be mined through the challenge of tribulation. We’ll close with these words from John Donne’s Meditation 17.

Writes Donne:

Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

You Tube Video: Louis Armstrong, St. James Infirmary

Risk: isolation, politicization, ignorance

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Bible, community, culture, democrats, gay rights, jazz, LGBT, Obama, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hand In Cookie Jar

cookiejar“The more things don’t change, the more they stay the same.” This quote is worthy of becoming a Yogism if it is not one already. The great American philosopher, Yogi Berra could have opined these words about the degree of change the new Obama Administration is bringing to the art of governance. Fresh off the trivial embarrassment of the new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s forgetfulness to pay taxes, we are now presented with the unsurprising news that Obama’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle failed to pay taxes on various forms of income and gratuities. He has made up this slight oversight by writing a check for a cool $140 G’s. That is a lot of oversightedness.

Obama’s promise to bring change to governance looks suspiciously like the old ways of governance. The installation of a Treasury Secretary that is not aware of his tax liability is most disturbing. More disturbing is Tom Daschle’s nomination as a cabinet secretary charged with reforming a broken health care system. In that position Daschle will be responsible to fix a health care system that has been hijacked to serve the special interests of commercial providers. That will be a most difficult task for Daschle because most of the income and honorariums he failed to declare came from the very same special interests the new Health and Human Services Secretary will need to dislodge from gorging themselves at the money troughs the current health care system richly confers. Insurance companies, HMO’s, and other commercial health care service providers fed Mr. Daschle a steady stream of income since his departure from the Senate two years ago. Most ironic was the provision of a limousine and chauffeur to Mr. Daschle by a private equity firm. Mr. Daschle gives real meaning to the term limousine liberal.

You can’t make this stuff up. We criticized Republicans because of their hypocrisy concerning their self professed commitment to integrity and family values only to witness a parade of GOPers getting caught in extramarital affairs, lying to grand juries and gay sex scandals. The democrats ask Americans to pay taxes to serve the needs of the common folk and working people but take every opportunity to avoid reaching into their own pockets to pay their fair share. The disease of exceptionalism and a deep sense of entitlement is a pandemic that crosses the isle and has thoroughly infected the heard of elephants and donkeys that lazily graze within the people’s halls of government in our nations capitol.

You Tube Video: Mike and Angelo, Life Is So Peculiar

Risk: Health Care System, governance

February 3, 2009 Posted by | democrats, government, jazz, Obama | , , , , , , | 2 Comments