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
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
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
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:
You Tube Video: Paul Robeson, Ballad of Joe Hill
Risk: culture, politics, religion, truth
One 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.
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
“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