Dec 30, 2011

December 29, 2011: Four Years Gone, Reach Out In the Darkness, Requiem for Benazir.


The following is from a post at this time 4 years ago following the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhuto. In honor and remembrance, I have reposted one of my favorite columns.

“I think it’s so groovy now
That people are finally getting together
I think its wonderful now
That people are finally getting together
Reach out in the darkness
Reach out in the darkness
Reach out in the darkness
And you may find a friend” --Friend and Lover “Reach Out in the Darkness” 1968

I was standing in line at a gas station when that song so rarely played stabbed my consciousness like hot steel on a cold night. It seems so long ago now as we approach yet another presidential election cycle, the 10th such season of promises, since that song was popular, since that terrible time when the universe came unhinged. There was a certain inexorable logic behind that season of tragedy. The nation was deeply divided between rich and poor, black and white, young and old, war and peace. The Tet Offensive had demonstrated the total bankruptcy of our war policies and the nation, after several long summers of rioting and rage was bracing itself for another “long hot summer”. Yet we had emerged strong and promising, pregnant with possibilities, challenging the established order, dreaming things that never were and asking “why not”?

First Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota emerged to challenge Lyndon Johnson for his party’s nomination. In February, McCarthy nearly defeated Johnson in New Hampshire. By mid-March Robert Kennedy, after re-assessing his situation was drawn into the race, and by the end of March Johnson announced his retirement. It seemed as if the heavens had parted and a new dawn had come to America. But throughout the season dark clouds loomed on the horizon like the ugly protesters that ringed the outer fringes of the Kennedy rallies.

I remember watching on television Robert Kennedy announce his candidacy for the presidency on March 16 from the old Senate chamber. Kennedy had been drawn into the battle much sooner than he had wanted, preferring to defer a presidential bid until 1972 or 1976. But the conflicts both at home and abroad had caused many of his friends and political supporters to look elsewhere and Bobby knew that his national stature demanded that he step forward. I watched with a certain foreboding as he picked up the mantle of his brother and began the campaign, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

As April Fools day dawned Johnson had fled the field and it seemed as if victory would come without firing a shot. But within days the long national nightmare began. Martin gunned down in Memphis and the rioting that followed, the entrance of Vice President Humphrey into the race to carry the standard of the party regulars, and finally, after winning all the remaining primaries save Oregon (which went to the anti-war McCarthy); Bobby too was gunned down as he reached for his party’s nomination. Within 90 days it was over, all that remained was to vent our rage at the convention. It was like a Greek tragedy beginning with the hubris of youth, and ending by cursing the fates; beginning with so much promise and ending with the ultimate booby prize: Richard Nixon.

“Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I lay traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reach Bombay”
--- The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil”

In this frame of mind I returned home. Going into the living room, I turned on the television and up came the financial news network. I was watching the market numbers and noticed on the crawl space a news report that former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated following a political rally. I turned to CNN and followed the initial reports that she had died following an explosion set off by a suicide bomber. Later this was revised to include shots fired at her motorcade at close range. It felt like de ja vu all over again.

The truly redeeming quality of politics is that by participating one can experience a certain mobility otherwise unattainable. Through political action one can transcend one’s station in life and meet not only interesting, though largely self-absorbed, individuals but on occasion rub shoulders with the powerful. In 1968 I was drawn into the Kennedy campaign, first working with his advance men organizing a political rally at Campau Square in downtown Grand Rapids, and then later in Indiana running a sound truck and doing door-to-door work in Michigan City and Marion. And so it was that four years later a son of a poor factory worker found himself in a Hotel room in Cambridge Massachusetts sitting on a bed talking politics with Benazir Bhutto.

She was 19 at the time, a freshman at Radcliff, daughter of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, young, intelligent and articulate. I was 23, a senior at Grand Valley State. We were drawn together as participants in the Harvard Invitational Model United Nations held at Cambridge Massachusetts. She was representing, of course, Pakistan. I was representing, not so obviously, the United States. I was deep in my senior thesis on the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 when I received a call from Dr. Junn, the head of the political science department, asking if I wanted to participate in a model U.N. sponsored by Harvard. I asked which country we would be representing and he told me the United States. It seemed a set up: why with all the colleges and universities attending would Harvard ask a small teachers college in western Michigan to represent the United States? The answer: Vietnam. Here was a golden opportunity for the debate teams of Harvard and Yale, not to mention several others, to beat up on United States foreign policy. We would be the perfect “straw man”.

We called a meeting of the several members of our delegation and I was chosen chairman, principally because I had written several papers on Vietnam and was something of the resident expert on the subject. This made me in effect the United States Ambassador to the United Nations playing the role of then UN Ambassador George H.W. Bush. I preferred to see myself as a young Adlai Stevenson but was forced to consult the record, largely one of abstaining from votes on Security Council resolutions that characterized the Nixon White House. Fortunately I knew the history of Vietnam and American involvement in it as well as all the arguments in favor of our prosecution of the war. In addition I was an outspoken early critic of the war and knew the arguments of dissent. So it happened that I became the unanimous choice to sit at the Security Council and face the debate teams of America’s most prestigious universities.

The first day was a rough go. Villanova, representing Germany stood with us, but the school representing France bolted to our adversaries and followed the Chinese by launching an all out attack on American “imperialist” foreign policy. Represented by the University of Utah, who had spent two weeks with the Chinese delegation at the UN in New York, the debate teams of Harvard and Yale representing countries like Cuba lined up with several others to oppose our intervention in Indochina. At the end of the first of the three day session our delegation met at our hotel suite to map out strategy given that many of the participants were not faithful to the policies of the governments they were purporting to represent, but were instead using the forum to express personal opinions. We determined that drastic action was needed. I asked how much money we had brought with us. Dr. Junn gave me a figure and asked why. I responded that we must now do what diplomats the world over have always done—order large quantities of alcohol and play the gracious host. In a word: PARTY!

We sent someone out for the requisite liquor and let it be known that our suite, which in due course became the entire floor, would be scene for an “international” social event. It was during a bit of banter with my friend from Utah, a slightly older man who had fought with the Montignard tribesman in Vietnam and who would later, playing the Chinese role magnificently, refer to “running dog American Imperialism” that I was elbowed by a young lady who introduced herself as the representative of Pakistan and asked if I could speak with her. We went to a room and she impressed upon me the urgency of the United States introducing a Security Council resolution concerning India and, if memory serves, had something to do with Kashmir. I told her I would do the best I could and we talked for some time about Pakistan and its relations with her neighboring countries, Kashmir, and the United States.

The next day I met with her again, but unfortunately things were tight at the Security Council as I struggled to stave off a full fledged assault on the United States. Benazir stopped by and importuned me once again but I tried to explain that I had greater problems to deal with at the moment. She left disappointed. Finally, midway through the second session, the Council voted by a majority of one to strike Vietnam from the agenda. We had dodged a bullet but there were still issues in South Africa, Rhodesia, and elsewhere that consumed the time. Mostly it was theatre. I had stopped while walking through the “yard” and bought a socialist rag being hawked by a vendor which I read whilst the Chinese “Ambassador” from Utah railed on about “American Capitalist Imperialist Aggressors”. The Chairman of the Security Council, who was in real life a legal counsel to the United Nations, asked me in a terse Eaton accent if the United States had any response. I remember saying’ as I peered up from my worker’s party rag, “It is the position of the government of the United States that the ranting of the honorable ambassador from the People’s Republic is unworthy of comment and that if he is interested in serious boilerplate I have a copy of an excellent publication he might find informative”. In any case events dictated that Pakistan would not emerge as a major player as long as the Cold War lasted. I had tried to teach, on that day so long ago, an important lesson in international politics: that the United States has no friends, it has only interests; and that United States support could be uncertain.

But it was not Benazir’s nature to remain undeterred. Critics, and there were many in Pakistan, saw her re-emerge as a political figure too closely allied with the United States. She had promised to allow the Americans to use Pakistani territory to establish bases of operations against the growing lawlessness in the tribal provinces along the Afghan border where Bin Laden is believed to have taken refuge. But most importantly she represented, as her father before her, an attempt to transform Pakistan from tribal feudalism into a modern secular liberal democratic state.

I sensed all those years ago that Benazir was in large measure enamored with all things American, attending an American university, adopting western dress, and with her father attempting to impose a western style republic on a tribal culture. I felt then it was risky business. Many transformational political figures have paid the last full measure for their effort. The Gracci brothers in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar for creating pax Romana, Lincoln, the Kennedy’s; and in her own part of the world Mahatma Gandhi, Neru, Indira and Rajib Gandhi, her own father. I watched with a certain foreboding as she went home to once again pick up the mantle of her father, hoping for the best but fearing the worst; and as I watched her bloody return from exile I told my wife that Benazir was going home to die. It had the inevitability of 1968 about it, as certain as the setting sun.

Go gently into that good night Benazir Bhutto; we are left now to reach out in the darkness.































































































































































December 28, 2011: Boner Backs Down, Crumbs From the Table, Cowardice on the Ramparts


We have been treated this week to the spectacle of one John Boner doing some serious backtracking as his Rescumlican majority were forced to cave in to pressure from the White House and their Senate colleagues and approve the extension of reductions in payroll withholdings for what John McCain and Sarah Palin so derisively dismissed as ’Joe Six-Pack’ and his family. As it stands, befitting the partisan brinksmanship that has characterized the behavior of the No-Nothing Party, the compromise reached extends for only a paltry two months as the Rescumlicans use whatever tools they can for the benefit of their rich benefactors, this time being the oil companies over a proposed pipe line into the United States from the oil-rich sands and shale of Canada.

Meanwhile public approval of Congress continues to plummet to record lows. It is ironic that the American people should blame their institutions for this mess. After all, they voted for gridlock by returning the idiot-wrong to power, why then should this come as any surprise?

The great chasm that is dividing the parties, itself merely a reflection of the divisions within the country, grows ever wider. Yesterday Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Oklahoma, announced that he will not seek re-election giving the Rescumlicans an ever greater probability of taking control of the Senate. Nelson’s announcement is part of a series of setbacks for the ‘Democratic Leadership Council’ that championed the election of people like Nelson, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and others who have either lost bids for re-election or are now retiring rather than face a referendum on their actions while in office.

What many tried to tell them, as they sold the soul of the Democratic party for what they saw as safe political strategy, was that by gutting national health care, and adopting what in effect was simply a weak and watered down health insurance reform bill, they would lose in the bargain their own political base and gain no pass, for their misguided efforts, from the modern Rescumlican party. So, with the dawn now of the next election season, we can say goodbye to the likes of Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman as we said goodbye to Blanche Lincoln and several others last year. You will not be missed, for your service has not only brought about the discrediting of Democratic Party values, but has cost your party it’s majority in the bargain. We did not elect you to be Bush-Lite, We went to the polls and voted as Democrats, not for some watered-down version of Bush-Cheney. We voted for change and got chump-change. We elected you to be our champions and for your cowardice on the ramparts you have earned the calumny of Democrats everywhere.




Dec 22, 2011

December 20, 2011: Caribou Barbie, Not a Single Precinct Captain, Pipe Dreams of the Lotus-Eater.



Let me reiterate: the political process does not recognize unorganized opinion. It is almost ridiculous to have to utter these words, so apparently obvious stands the reality, but when dealing with Rescumlicans, particularly those on the idiot-wrong, the business of rendering obvious what is apparent and clear to the rest of humanity is a work of paramount, albeit futile urgency.


So today it was reported that Caribou Barbie, otherwise known in this column as the ‘guttersnipe’ from Alaska, has told Fixed News that she has surveyed the Rescumlican field and found them wanting. Again, a stopped clock is right twice a day, and so it is with the idiot half-governor late of Alaska. It was the last part of her statement that caught my eye. Bemoaning the lack of real Presidential timber currently in the field she went on to say that “it is not too late for someone else to enter the race”.

Forty years ago this may have been true, but with the number of primaries and the front-loading of nearly all of them--particularly the big states--it has long since become necessary to raise nearly 100 million dollars before the first citizens gather at caucus across the state of Iowa and cast the first ballots. Only a complete political neophyte could possibly have uttered such an absurdity, for the time has long passed when the money would have been raised to staff the field operations, set up the phone banks, purchased the voter lists, printed the mailers and brochures, set up the internet sites, bought the newspaper, radio and television advertising. With Iowa only now a matter of days away, New Hampshire quickly to follow, and with only 120 days or so left before the issue will be decided, it should be patently clear to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of such things that it is far too late to even think of throwing one’s bonnet into the ring. But not Sarah Palin who, despite having been on the last national ticket, appears to have learned nothing about Presidential politics.


If she is testing the political waters for a possible late bid, she will find that her supporters have long since been laboring on behalf of other candidacies, that she is woefully short of money, and that she is without a single precinct captain. None of this registers in the simple mind of the ‘guttersnipe’, who’s prevailing psychosis can be measured in the awful gap between her ambitions and her achievements; a chasm that can only be bridged by the pipe dreams of the lotus eater.

Dec 20, 2011

December 19, 2011: Adults in the Sandbox, Ron Paul as 'Spoiler', Precious Little Time Left.


“A Republic does not recognize unorganized opinion”
                                        ---from the 'Quotations of Chairman Joe'

It was announced over the weekend that the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s most prominent and influential newspaper, has endorsed Mitt Romney in the upcoming Republican contest. Citing ‘Baby Huey’s’ record of rabid partisanship and calling him a ‘divider’ and not a ‘uniter’ the paper’s editorial board chose Romney instead because of his record at not only cleaning up the failing winter Olympics held in the 1990’s in Utah, but his ability to work across party lines to move the state of Massachusetts forward on several important issues.

Today, was announced that Bob Dole, former Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Republican Presidential Candidate also announced his support of Mitt Romney for the Presidential nomination.


It has been my experience that there is almost an inverse correlation between a press endorsement and winning an election. Most of the candidates I have worked for over the years, including myself as a candidate for County Commissioner, have received, sometimes reluctantly as in my case, the endorsement of the local paper only to see office slip from our grasp albeit by the narrowest of margins. Conversely, I have worked in and managed campaigns were we did not get such endorsements and walked to victory. It is as if the public takes perverse pleasure in thumbing their collective nose at the megaphone of the elite.

Be that as it may, it is refreshing to see the adults in the playground begin to pass judgment, for it is clear that several of the Rescumlican wannabees are completely devoid of the maturity and judgment, not to mention native intelligence and political organization, to be serious Presidential contenders.

Still, one must remember, the Iowa contest will not be decided by primary vote, or even a closed primary vote, where only registered party members cast ballots. Instead delegates to the national convention will be chosen at causes held in living rooms and school gymnasiums all across the state. Only those candidates who reach a certain ‘threshold’ of support will be considered, meaning that those supporting say a lightweight like Michelle Bachmann will soon discover that she has insufficient support and will then throw their weight behind another candidate, say Rick Santorum or Ron Paul. This is the reason Bachmann has taken on Ron Paul in the latest debate, not only has Paul perhaps the best organization in the state, but his pre-caucus polling numbers suggest that many of Bachmann’s and Santorum’s supporters are looking for a place to go after the first ballot and they would rather have Paul be in the position of having his supports desert him and come to them instead of the scenario that now seems likely. Clearly, this system, being so closed and involving such a low percentage of the qualified voters, gives immense advantage to those who have spent the time and the resources to build an organization and are now among the front-runners. As with Obama’s victory in Iowa four years ago (see previous posts), often the winner becomes every one else’s second choice.


This scenario favors Ron Paul, inasmuch as he has the national exposure and, like a stopped clock, is right twice a day. In his case he managed to parlay his opposition to the war in Iraq into a great deal of campus support in 2008 building a national organization and name recognition in the process. His ideas on spending and taxes are deplorably regressive and reactionary and will do material damage to the middle class should he prevail, but his early emergence on the war issue blinded many in the upcoming generation as to his domestic agendas. As a consequence he now stands before us as a first-tier contender who has the campaign experience and the organization to be a real spoiler in the race.

Recently the polls were showing ‘Baby Huey’ in the lead, Romney second, Paul Third. Bachmann and Santorum have been maneuvering to try to replace Paul so as to survive the Caucus and head to New Hampshire. To this observer, that seems unlikely. Neither have the organization to sustain them and their increasingly shrill campaigning will not suffice in this non-primary setting. From here it looks as if Paul may be the spoiler as Gingrich’s support begins to wane. Romney, I think will hold, but the party is still looking for some kind of viable alternative to the Mormon, and is now torn as it looks to alternatives. Gingrich, with all his baggage and his inability to organize, will struggle to win this contest. For Romney, despite his religion, has the inside track. That’s why the voices of influence are beginning to jump on his bandwagon. The issue will be decided at the South, the question being will the party be able to ‘organize’ around an alternative in time to grab the prize from the Mormon’s grasp. Not in Iowa, not in New Hampshire. Romney will hold his own in Iowa, win New Hampshire and then the real contest begins.


What the ‘tea baggers’ and the idiot wrong have to understand is what George Wallace did not. It is not enough to campaign and get crowds, one has to organize and for that there is precious little time.



December 17, 2011: The End of an Error, What Lurks Beneath, Hang in the Balance.



This year witnessed two important, if not earth-shaking events: the end of Glenn Beck’s stint on Fixed Noise and our military withdrawal from Iraq. What these will mean in the coming years will, from this vantage point, be difficult to surmise but one can only hope for the best.

After years of haranguing his audience with increasingly shrill, paranoid and, at times, delusional commentary Glenn Beck had become an embarrassment to even the likes of Roger Ailes at Fixed Noise. It is difficult to say at what point his daily tirades went over the line but for those of us who never thought we would live to see the day that the depths of journalistic depravity would never be sounded at the Murdock flag station it was indeed a happy day to see the fool crawl back under the rock that is talk radio; but we are left with only half a victory knowing that he still has the microphone and can still poison the well of public opinion. Why is it that these conservatives are such corpulent ignoramuses? Why is it that they all have the same prison pallor? Why is it that they every one of them--Boortz, Limbaugh, Beck, Rove, Coulter--all have that same pasty countenance one normally encounters when one overturns a rock to reveal what lurks beneath? Perhaps this is why John Boner spends so much time in the tanning booth, for they all know that their moribund ideas will not withstand the light of the noonday sun. In any event cable television, if not talk radio, has become that much more civilized.

Speaking of civilized, the Iraqis’, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, now too have god on their side. It was announced this week that the United States is completing its military withdrawal from Iraq after nine and a half years of conflict. Much was made of the events here in the States with the nightly news showing the American Flag being lowered for the last time in Baghdad juxtaposed with scenes of welcome home celebrations as our soldiers return to their homes and families. The press, as always, has given a veneer of success and happiness to the event with the implication being that the withdrawal was at our initiative with the Iraqi government ready to step into the breach. John McCain, always the polecat at the barn dance, looking for yet another way to savage this President and lamenting the premature end to his hundred-years war, took to the Senate floor to condemn the administration for pulling out of the beleaguered country.

The truth is otherwise, for the United States did not go into that good night voluntarily or quietly. In fact for months the administration negotiated with the Iraq government to allow us to leave several thousand Americans in the country holed up in military bases that would serve as a quick strike force should trouble (say the nationalization of the oil fields) develop. The Iraqis, eager to further legitimize themselves by ridding the country of foreign occupation balked. Even so the final stumbling block, it has been reported, proved to be the question of “extraterritoriality” wherein U.S. forces were subject to U.S. not Iraqi law. Having had enough of the likes of Blackwater shooting up the country only to be tried and largely let off by U.S. authority using U.S. military justice, the Iraqis balked at continuing the practices. The result was that we were, not so politely, asked to leave. And so the curtain falls, and we witness the end of yet another error.


Of course the supporters of the conflict will rightly point to the nascent Iraqi experiment in republican government and, misreading history, will claim that it was the much heralded ‘push’ engineered by George the Lesser, known in this column as ‘ol two-cows’ that was responsible for the successes that we have had. This has the salutary effect of legitimizing our military involvement and helps salve the wounded national conscience.

But even after nearly a decade and trillions of dollars in the effort it is difficult, at this distance, to speak with anything like confidence in the outcome. Just how far is the reach of Malaki’s government, how honest or efficient it is, and what is it’s span of control are, at this reading, matters of conjecture. I suspect only time will tell. What is clear is that the major ethnic and religious divisions still lurk just beneath the surface ready to re-emerge as soon as the United States is safely out of the equation.


The press, as always, follows the ambulance or in this case the pictures. Scenes featuring the changing of the guard and homecoming celebrations replete with assurances that it was our military intervention that made all the difference give this latest foreign adventure all the trappings of success that we gave to our dalliances in Cuba and the Philippines. In fact, what stability the central government in Baghdad now enjoys has much more to do with the several tribes and Sunni factions that --outraged by the arrogance and ruthlessness of Al Qaida --changed sides in 2007 and moved quickly to re-establish some semblance of order. Still, withal, one hears reports even recently of large scale suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism. How long the relative peace will last is still a question in dispute.

But there is also a larger story. The infrastructure in Iraq is still a shambles even in the wake of massive infusions of American aid. Electricity in Baghdad is available, in some neighborhoods, only a few hours each day. Sanitation systems are in ruin. Military roadblocks dot the landscape even in the nation’s capital. Why is that? Why after all these years and so much money are things still this bad? The answer is graft, corruption and the security issue. Billions have simply disappeared and security has been so bad that construction projects have been delayed or cancelled. How then can we see this as a success, and what does that augur for the future of the country? In the opinion of this observer we have done what we should have done, at least after the mistake to invade Iraq in the first place, and that is simply declare victory and go home.

But for the Iraqis and their government the end-game and our alliances hang in the balance.




December 15, 2011: The American Nightmare, American Paradox, Gullible's Travels.

The “American Dream” is becoming an American nightmare”
                                               ---from the 'Quotations of Chairman Joe'

The news services today led with stories concerning the nature of the American economy. One in two Americans, according to newly released census data can now be classified as either being impoverished or as “low income” giving further evidence of the decline of the middle class, and further impetus to the political polarization of the country. Meanwhile it was reported that six of the Walton’s, owners of Wal-Mart, are worth as much as the lowest 30% of the population. This is not without consequence. Over half of the schools, as reported on Yahoo yesterday, fail to meet federal education standards as the nation stands powerless to act.

It was also reported today that the Obama Administration is about to back off it’s efforts to levy a surtax on millionaires to pay for cuts in payroll withholdings on the working class. Once again the great unwashed--the ‘tea-baggers’ and the libertarians--have served the interests of the wealthy by holding hostage the crumbs from the table in the interests of protecting the wealthiest among us. Nothing, it appears, will stand in the way of the headlong drive to concentrate wealth into the fewest hands in the shortest time possible.

The paradox is that the American people, duly assembled, elected this divided government virtually guaranteeing ‘gridlock’. It was clear going into the election booth a year ago that the Rescumlicans would, following like sheep their unofficial icons of ignorance--Beck and Limbaugh, do nothing but grind the wheels of governance to a stop. And so they have. It is said the ‘Politics is the art of the possible”; that any political figure or any administration is constrained by what are, in reality, a set of limit of possibilities at any given time. In a republic these possibilities are imposed by the electorate by periodic elections if elections are to mean anything. Exercising their constitutional, if not their god-given, right to err, the great unwashed stampeded by the hysteria ginned up by the idiot wrong acted to nearly eliminate any further possibilities. As a consequence Obama has been further restrained by the modern Lilliputians in an ongoing farce known as “Gullible’s Travels”.




Dec 16, 2011

December 13, 2011: Another Man‘s Religion, ‘Baby Huey’ in the Lead, Spectator Sport.



“There is nothing more ridiculous than another man’s religion”

                                             ----from the “Quotations of Chairman Joe”

On an NBC panel tonight, featuring Chris Todd and other election analysts, recent polling has confirmed the surge of ‘Baby Huey’ to the head of the pack as the former House Speaker gains the lead. Gingrich is only the latest following Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Texas Governor Perry and most recently Hermann Cain to challenge Mitt Romney for the lead in various straw polls and public opinion polls, as the ’fundamentalist’ base of the Rescumllican Party searches desperately for some alternative to the Mormon from Utah. Whether ‘Baby Huey’ is allotted more than his fifteen minutes of fame remains to be seen.

The assembled analysts were quick to point out the Achilles heel of the emerging Rescumlican field. Romney, running nearly even with Obama is the most electable but will have a hard time getting his party’s nomination, presumably because of his so-called ’health plan’ in Massachusetts and his earlier positions on taxation and social issues. Gingrich while facing an easier road to the nomination is reviled by Democrats and Independents alike and faces a daunting task winning the general election. So ended the analysis for further penetration into the political realities will reveal the darker side of American politics, places nightly commentators and news anchors fear to tread.

Simply put, to any honest political observer it is readily apparent that the fundamentalist base of the modern Rescumlican Party will not nominate a Mormon to carry its standard into the general election. Focusing on Romney’s so called “moderate” political record and pointing out--correctly--that the Massachusetts health care law is anathema to the political base of his party, the political pundits cover only part of the story and present only half the analysis.


Deviations from bedrock orthodoxy have not cost national political figures their party’s nomination. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Bush the Greater, Bob Dole, John McCain and even Ronald Reagan deviated from orthodoxy when the recognized both unpopular and god-awful public policy when they saw it. Nixon instituted wage-price controls, gave us the Environmental Protection Agency, even called for a guaranteed annual income, Ford was Mr. Pragmatist incarnate, Bush raised Taxes, Dole worked with Democrats at least some of the time, even Reagan raised taxes and increased federal spending. However much is made of Romney the moderate, Romney the Compromiser, Romney the Reasonable, this is not what the fundamentalist base of his party finds troubling. It is Romney the Mormon.

To Southern Baptism, the place to which the modern Rescumlican party went in search of succor as it embraced southern politics after the flogging it took at the hands of Lyndon Johnson, Mormonism is seen as a nothing more than a cult. Through the eyes of Southern Baptism Mormonism not only appears ridiculous but, like Catholicism, is seen as a “cult”. Anyone embracing such a cult must, by definition, lack the moral fortitude and perhaps the intelligence necessary to see ’the light’. Such a man is disqualified from high office. It is the reverend Wright issue all over again unalloyed with issues of race.


The press, of course, not eager to offend the southern audience or the religious fundamentalists, fixes instead on the horse race betting as it always does that the public will be content with form rather than substance. Meanwhile in churches all across America, as in 1960, a campaign will be waged against the “Mormon’ discounting his beliefs as ludicrous and, by extension, his political standing. The analysts are right of course. Romney will find it hard to get the party nomination for he will fight to a near draw in Iowa, win New Hampshire and then head South where he will hit a brick wall. The question for the political base of the party is whether it can coalesce around a viable alternative, someone suitably protestant, in time. Enter Baby Huey. Oh yes he’s changed his religion. The once suitably Baptist, then Episcopalian is now Catholic.



December 10, 2011: Sold, Exile on K Street, The Gingrich That Stole Christmas.

Flashback: it is 1994 and the Rescumlicans have taken control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. At the head of the Rescumlican delegation was a brash young Congressman from Georgia who, after recruiting a bunch of right-wing ideologues and fashioning his so-called “contract on America”, ran a national campaign designed to gain control of the House. The campaign while proving successful produced an agenda that was not so successful. Only one of the ten planks in the platform that was the “contract” ever passed the house, none became law. For instance, the part calling for term limits became an almost immediate casualty.


Gingrich, having engineered the electoral upheaval, became the new incoming speaker. Not only did he prove brash, arrogant, and a bit uninformed, but--in what proved to be an early version of “unitary theory of government” immediately upon taking hold of the speaker’s gavel began to behave as if he were the center of government, as if he were in London and was now, as titular head of the house, serving as Prime Minister. It got so bad that at one news conference President Clinton had to remind the assembled reporters, if not the nation, that “I am still relevant”.

In a prophetic gesture, on an early January morning in 1994, as Gingrich was about to take the Gavel former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder of Colorado led a small band of Democratic members up the steep steps leading to the upper reaches of the capital dome, stepped outside and over the dome of the capitol building stretched a huge “sold” sign. It was a telling if brief demonstration in protest of what was surely to come.

Within hours a certain reprobate named Tom Delay would be elevated to the position of majority Whip of the house and would assist the speaker in forging alliances and otherwise selling the interests of the people to the lobbyists of K street. For 12 long years ’we the people’ were sent into exile as the k-street lobbyists took control of the national government.. What followed was not only massive rounds of deregulation, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which allowed the banks to re-enter the stock market, but the shutdown of the federal government over Baby Huey’s attempt to gut Medicare, massive cuts in domestic spending, ending with the Jack Abramoff scandals. In fact, in the waning hours of Rescumlican control in 2006, long after Baby Huey was driven from office by his own party, one of the last acts of the malignant majority was an attempt to do away with the 40 hour work week.


In the weeks following the election of 1994 leading up to the holidays, as the shadow of Baby Huey stood over Washington and about to assume power, I entitled an entry to my journal “The Gingrich that Stole Christmas”, referring to what he was about to do to the already tattered social safety net. I remember one of the national journals had a similar revelation and stole my headline. It was, like Congresswoman Schroeder’s gesture, prophetic.

In fact Baby Huey, in his short stint as Speaker, had embroiled himself in so many confrontations, so many unpopular legislative initiatives and so much scandal (his book deal with Rupert Murdock being one of them) that he had by the late 1990’s become a poster child for Democratic Party fundraising. The mere thought of giving “le infant terrible” any additional leverage proved so repugnant and the Rescumlican majority had dwindled to such narrow margins that the leadership of the House--Bob Michaels of Illinois and a young John Boner of Ohio among them--approached the speaker after the 1998 elections and informed him that they would vote with the Democrats if he stood again for Speaker. Gingrich, by then perhaps the most reviled politician in America, promptly resigned not only his position as Speaker of the House, but his seat in congress. From there he assumed new roles as professor, writer, and yes, lobbyist.

Much has been made of Gingrich’s marital difficulties and the circumstances surrounding his separations and divorces but, like Herman Cain, much of this fixation obscures the greater point. Gingrich, for all his professorial manner, all of his attempts to portray himself as a “policy Wonk” in the mold of Bill Clinton, is pure fa├žade, for underneath the image lurks an agenda of pure greed. It is this greed, symbolized by congresswoman Schroeder’s trek up those steep stairs to the roof of the capitol, that is the real point. Under Gingrich, the House became a cesspool of corporate greed on the make with the House serving as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Corporate Cartels. It wasn’t so much the hypocrisy of Gingrich presiding over the votes to impeach President Clinton over an affair with a White House intern while the Speaker was having his own affair with his own intern, as much as the hypocrisy of presenting a Rescumlican agenda of economic opportunity while in the process selling the people’s government to the very forces that will bring the end of such opportunity.


Like Nixon, Gingrich is banking on the half-life of the collective memory of the country and is busy out and about refurbishing his “image”. But like the “new Nixon” this represents simply another Madison avenue make-over in service of the larger agenda which is to service the interests of the national and international cartels at the expense of the larger national interests and, perhaps, the republic itself.





December 9, 2011: Herman Cained, Splendid Diversions, Ultimate Uncle Tom.

It was announced over the weekend that presidential wanabee Hermann Cain, he of Godfather’s Pizza, has announced the suspension of his presidential campaign amidst the increasing number of revelations concerning untoward sexual conduct. The latest being a long affair with a woman ending as he was announcing his bid for the White House.

All of this is interesting, if not amusing, but hardly new to presidential politics. From the campaign against Thomas Jefferson in which it was alleged, correctly late twentieth century science would reveal, that Jefferson had fathered several children with his slave Sally Hemmings to the famous campaign against Grover Cleveland, where the opposition slogan ran “Ma, Ma, where’s my pa? He’s gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha”, to Nan Britton’s famous affair with Warren G. Harding in the white house, to Gary Hart and the “Monkey Business” revelations, to the many Clinton peccadilloes, Hermann Cain is only the last in a long list of public figures caught in such scandal.

While certainly entertaining, and sometimes a bit unseemly, these behaviors have served to derail several recent presidential bids and brought disrepute or resignation on several congressional leaders, but at some level have served as only splendid diversions. What’s lost in the ongoing revelations in this case is that most, if not all, of these “affairs” occurred while Mr. Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association. That is while he was functioning in his capacity as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

The internal contradiction implicit the spectre of an emerging spokesman for the “tea baggers” and the idiot wrong being nothing more than a lobbyist seeking direct rather than indirect political access has been lost not only on the conservative base of the Rescumlican Party but on the larger nation as a whole.

So now Hermann Cain, perhaps the ultimate “uncle Tom” takes his place as a minor footnote in the dustbin of history. No matter, for he will be well taken care of for waiting in the weeds is “Baby Huey” otherwise known as Newt Gingrich who now emerges as all other alternatives have self-destructed as the chief rival of Mitt Romney for the nomination by the Party of Greed. Cain represents precisely the kind of man to which Baby Huey will sell this country upon his elevation to the presidential chair.

Take heart Hermann, you may still have a future.