Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bring It




“Christie for President,” only the Republican Right could think of such a thing. Gov. Christie’s approval rating has been falling steadily, particularly with women voters who he doesn’t seem to understand have the franchise, since he began to gut education. His disapproval rating is neck and neck with Obama’s. He got a bump from his handling of “Irene.” However, as we learned from Rudy “a subject, a verb and 9/11” Giuliani, that and a dime will get you a cup of coffee. Oh happy days, compared to the sleek, smooth, smart Mr. Obama, Christie will look like just what he is – a thug with all the sophistication and charm of a cop beating up a drunk, as Raymond Chandler once said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hello Alice



I hate politics and most politicians. I follow them out of a sense of self preservation. Yet, I hate them because they ruin people’s lives, twist and distort reality to promote a world view that serves the few over the many.

Millions are out of work in this country through no fault of their own. They are treated like leaches when they need unemployment, while politicians inveigh for deregulation of the institutions where the fault lies – pleading job creation.

Home ownership has gone up in smoke – granted some people took out mortgages they couldn’t afford – that does not take the peddlers and frauds off the hook. Although, we hear very little about them these days.

Republicans, who can’t win a fair fight, go about gerrymandering districts, shutting poor people out of the voting booth, and changing the rules of the Electoral College. That is when they aren’t destroying unions.

Tea Party trolls sit in audiences applauding the death penalty and squealing, "let him die.” Just before they trot off to church and bath themselves in the salvation of a poor working man they would spit on today.

Children are slipping below the poverty line at a dreadful rate. Their health care is dissolving. Their education is evaporating into the old political payback system. Replace public education with a fee-for-service-free-market-fiasco, add a healthy dose of religion, and call it, “school choice.” Good for the kids, hell no. Good for wealthy, contributing special interests, you bet; much like privatizing the military and the prisons.

While all this misery boils up from the American People like poisonous fumes the politicians stand around on the Hill and in the White House pissing on each other’s shoes, or supporting lamp posts on the corners of Pennsylvania Avenue with their partisan slip showing, soliciting any lobbyist that will toss them a dime.

This is the state of American politics. These are our political leaders up to their tits in legalized corruption.

You are on the other side of the looking glass now, Alice. What are you going to do about it? What are any of us going to do about it?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories of 9/11


Brad and I were in Washington D.C. ten years ago on this day. He had a training in Falls Church, and I decided to go sightseeing in the District. I had an appointment to tour the Capitol and was hoping to see Tom DeLay. They hadn’t arrested him yet, and I wanted to thumb my nose at him. Half way down the Mall I heard a sound. It was loud, everywhere and nowhere, an explosion but not an explosion. A minute or so later a guy came out of a building to my left.

“Someone flew a plane into the Pentagon,” he whispered.

“You're nuts? The Pentagon is the most secure building in the world. That is like pissing on Zeus’ shoes.” I was a little harsher than I intended.

In exactly the same tone and exactly the same words he repeated, “Someone flew a plane into the Pentagon.” He walked away.

I knew I had better get back to Falls Church – Papa would be worried. I went to several Metro Stations that were closed before I boarded a train that let me off about 10 miles from my destination. Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, as Tennessee Williams said, I got a lift.

My dear husband was standing on the portico in front of our hotel. He was smoking. Brad is cardiac and has no business smoking. In my befuddlement I start toward him to raise hell. As I reached him, he took hold of my hand and said with tears in his eyes, “I thought I had lost you. We heard the Capitol was hit.”

“No,” I said. “Just the Pentagon.”

“Barbara, the Trade Towers are down in New York.”

“What, they just laid down?”

He turned and led me into the bar where a number of people gathered around a big screen T.V. looking at the ash and rubble which had once been one of the jewels in New York’s crown. I ordered a double bourbon - neat. I don’t drink, so I gave it to the guy next to me and told him to drink it for me. He did. He’d had several.

I bought a package of smokes and went outside to sit on a bench near the door. The color of the sky, of the trees and flowers had muted, gone flat and surreal like the world of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone or an Ingmar Bergman film. Now and then, and particularly on this day, those colors return like the lingering heartache for a lost loved one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Out of the Bowels of History




It has long been customary in American politics to impersonate not Jefferson, or Lincoln, or Roosevelt, but rather the itinerant peddlers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. These people roamed the country in wagons selling “patented medicines” that were collectively known as Snake Oil. A growing and organizing medical community along with a burgeoning public health system eventually put them out of business, since their concoctions were generally useless and often dangerous.

Their modern day counterparts in the body politic are not so easy to contain since the Snake Oil they are peddling – patriotism, God, guns and gluttony – are not tangible. Wrapped in the red, white and blue, thumping the Bible and screaming about the evil government while sucking off its tit, these swindlers are dismantling or poisoning Democracy in the same way the scammers of the previous two centuries deceived or poisoned an unsuspecting and na├»ve populace.

By far the most dangerous of these con artists is the politician who ruthlessly flogs religion. As in the case of the old remedies, many alcohol based, the hooks in the religion scam are solace and immortality. People terrified of being alone in the universe, of their extinction after death, of simply living a pointless life without miracles, magic and meaning, stumble up to the wagon of any two-for-a-nickel Elmer Gantry and lay down their money, political allegiance, free will and common sense for an empty bottle labeled hope.

The most insidious, the most pernicious aspect of this idiocy is that in order for the God of the medicine wagon to be real everyone must follow Him or at least the tenets of the religion He represents. Even though faith cannot be regulated or spirituality mandated. Thus, there will be no abortion; no gay marriage; no labor unions since God is a free market aficionado. Climate change is a lie because man is powerless to affect the earth. Evolution is a perjury, and only Creationism can be taught in the schools. God is an American, and we can kill anyone we like. All of this would become the moral imperative of any ship of state unfortunate enough to find a Perry, Bachmann or Palin at the helm through the grace of the God they have promulgated and the infinite dependency of their followers.

Just as the peddlers who made their elixir in the back of a wagon seldom drank it, the God of the extremists is a tool and not an article of faith. I have to believe this, otherwise why would self professed Christians follow an agenda anathema to the teachings of Christ? As did the power lusting popes who used scripture to attempt to control the known world via devout monarchs; so too with the land grabbing abbots and bishops bent upon amassing wealth on the foundation of holy writ. Murderous, crusading kings slaughtering in the cause of the Almighty and at will setting the standard for all military madmen. The inquisitors and Witch hunters were simply predatory thieves in the name of God. All of their shadows are falling across the land today, rising out of the darkness of history like a foul stench. To see many modern politicians without their historical antecedents is becoming more and more difficult because as Sherlock Holmes once said, “The parallel is exact.”

Even though religion scamming politicians have always been with us, today their resources are vast and their ability to reach many millions of people devastating. Now more than ever, their masks must be stripped away. They must be put back in their box and relegated to the fringe where they belong. This is the civilian work of people like Reverend Weldon Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance who have grown disgusted with the perversion of the best of their faith to serve the worst of motives.

We will never accomplish the unmasking of these holier-than-thou, right wing apparatchiks with the soft phrases and sweet words of an Obama speech. The maddening insistence by this president that bipartisanship can be achieved with religion pandering fanatics on the right is analogous to Elliot Ness attempting to attain a bipartisan ceasefire with Al Capone on the streets of Chicago. They had nothing on which to base an agreement. Capone’s God was crime; his savoir was money. Yet, this most brutal mobster in the history of American lawlessness took time out from bootlegging, prostitution and staging massacres to feed people during the Depression which is more than I can say for many of our “Godly” leaders in Congress then or now.

If Obama hasn’t the chutzpa to face down these new age scoundrels then he must step aside and allow Biden, Brown, Sanders, Frank or Grayson to help us all do it. This is a matter of National Security, for the cabal on the right, hiding behind the Bible and spewing greed like a faucet churning out filthy water, will surely destroy our way of life.