Friday, December 29, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
A Tell-Tale Passing
With the sad passing of President Ford, we see yet again another passing of sorts; this one slightly more pathetic than sad: Chimpy trying to “pass” over his own blatant incompetence. But just like Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" demonstrates, that which you suppress does come back to haunt you.
Perhaps I’m experiencing a synchronistic phenomenon here because just yesterday I finally started Frank Rich’s The Greatest Story Ever Sold, and in the first chapter, Rich lays out why Chimpy is no more qualified to do his job than, let’s say, Maggie Spellings is to do hers.
As Rich and others suggest, these past 5 Bush years ought to be dubbed The Age of Passing: Pretending to be the Very Thing You’re Not. You would think by this time that the White House spinzone would realize that we caught them at their game; but it looks like they’ve missed a pass or two in their now obvious attempts to score. Chimpy’s incompetence has grown so incredibly out of control and his defense mechanism of “passing” has become so fucking transparent, he’s beginning to parody himself. Poor Chimpy is just not that conscious, though, to recognize that he’s become a farce.
Just take a look at Chimpy’s highly ironic words about President Ford; they give new meaning to Freudian displacement. He praises Ford for his “integrity;” he mentions Ford’s pivotal role at the time for a nation that needed “healing;” he goes on to comment on how Ford led with “common sense” and “kind instincts;” and he even goes so far as to note how Ford helped the country through a “period of great turmoil and division.” I swear: these are his words, not mine. As I’ve mentioned before in my quest to be 1% more conscious: you can’t make this shit up. But you don’t have to hold a PhD in psychology or linguistics to realize that in this speech (and I’m sure in others) Chimpy is displacing and denying all over the place, attempting to “pass” by his own incompetence in his elegiac remarks on the passing of a former president.
The best part for me was that as I finished reading the speech, my 9 week old began screaming because she was apparently trying to “pass” gas. If only Chimpy would recognize that he’s so full of crap, the world would be a better place.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Call me annoyed. Several weeks have passed and I still can’t help but marvel at Oedipus Lieberman, whom I’m officially renaming. Hey, renaming is as American as apple pie—Jay Gatz became Jay Gatsby; Marshall Mathers became Eminem; and hell, Hillary can’t decide if she is Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, or Billary Clinton—a renaming that remains in abeyance.
It’s official: Oedipus Lieberman has morphed into Captain Ahab, another tragically fueled figure. In this unfolding novel of contemporary American foreign policy, Melville’s masterpiece certainly comes to mind because as we grapple with how to “catch” some sort of success in Iraq, the ubiquitous presence in the American psyche, it eludes us just like the whale-the ubiquitous presence in the novel—escapes mad Ahab. And Ahab’s as deranged as they come. So is Lieberman.
While many in our ship of state have fully realized that the leviathan Iraq is Apocalypse Now, not Apocalypse Later, not Apocalypse On Hold because we want to avert a Vietnam redux, Captain Lieberman, in his insatiable megalomania, cannot help himself. He wants more troops. He wants more troops even as Chimpy equivocates. He wants more troops albeit Dodd and others with far more experience in foreign relations and armed services have said we are past the point of no return. He wants more troops even though it’s relatively clear that there is no military solution to the Iraq quagmire.
But like the maimed Ahab who once wrestled with his nemesis and sustained a loss, Captain Lieberman, who survived a primary loss to seek revenge in the general, cannot let go of that which has brought him so much agony: Iraq. And let’s hope that there really doesn’t exist some sort of symbolic parallel here: Ahab couldn’t extricate himself from what tormented him, and thus we leave him dejectedly strapped to the monster that subsequently brings his ship and him down.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
What the hell is going with George H.W. Bush lately? Frankly, I’ve never had a problem with the man. As I’ve indicated many times before, I prefer his breed of martini-lunch, afternoon golf-playing, diplomatically prone Republican decorum to these asshole neocons. And I had jiminy cricket HIGH hopes that he would rescue us from his shithead of a son—chimpy. But the crying this week and the failure of the Iraq Study Group, the front for father Bush--let’s face it--to move chimpy to do something, has me deeply concerned that we are in the midst of the revenge of the siths, or, in our case: revenge of the shits. Daddy Bush’s latest display, in Japan of all places, involves a comment that indicated he would “beat the hell” out of Hillary should she run for the presidency. Now I know Hillary inspires homicidal tendencies, but come on now: have a martini or two. Chimpy must’ve REALLY fucked-up.
Friday, December 15, 2006
HOW ABOUT THIS FAMILY PHOTO? What a lovely group!
Something Wicked This Way Comes: Open, Locks, Whoever Knocks!
The tragic impulse in Macbeth launches into warp speed in ACT III. Duncan is long dead; Malcolm has bolted to England; Donalbain to Ireland. Macbeth realized he had to off Banquo, so he hires three thugs to do the deed. And he places servants—spies—in peoples’ houses. The Lady makes excuses for her man when, at a dinner, the ghost of Banquo looms only to scare the shit out of Macbeth. She wants the on-lookers to think one thing, when, in fact, something else is going on. Hecate, the goddess witch, appears and scolds her hags for their prophecies for Macbeth. Even the supernatural falls victim to the tragic impulse, which thunders vehemently toward more chaos, more corruption, more death, and more evil.
The tragic impulse in the Bush administration has escalated recently. Papa Bush and the paleo-conservative world of Republican diplomacy are symbolically dead. While Papa bolted to Florida to deliver a tribute to the favorite son, Jeb, Chimpy snubbed and smeared the council of elders—the Iraq study group. Scared shitless by the Papa Bush ghost, the W. posse realized they must off Baker III, consigliore extraordinaire, so they dispatched the echo chamber thugs to do the deed. While there has long been spying in Americans’ houses, we just don’t know whose houses and why because the NSA program still remains a “cloak & dagger” topic. The Lady made the lamest excuse of them all, blaming the media for Chimpy’s lower-than-Nixon approval ratings. Sadly, while Senator Johnson had a stroke, the political soothsayers speculated about the balance of power, who will actually run in 2008, and what we will hear in the change of course message Chimpy has postponed yet again to next year. The tragic impulse gains vigorous momentum as more chaos, more corruption—word has it that Abramoff is squealing like a pig in jail, more death, and more evil become abundantly apparent. Seeing George H.W. Bush cry was not only ample evidence enough, but, moreover, a haunting omen that something wicked this way may come, so bolt the locks to whatever knocks.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
So as NASA reports that a black hole has swallowed a star, the renowned “Iraq Study Group” has released its report today that claims Iraq, once a potential star of the Middle East for its rich oil fields, has turned into a black hole. Is this new information?
Quite frankly, it seems as though the mainstream media, the punditry, and everyTom, Dick, and Nancy—yes, folks, let’s include Nancy because she will be the Speaker of House, has been having the same conversation for months. What do we do with Iraq? We can’t immediately pull out? We can’t stay forever? We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past—ah…Vietnam. But we want to secure a better future. After all, Democracy is on the march. It’s like a bad broken record, which just skips, skips and skips. And while the record carelessly skips, the more bodies pile up and up—theirs and ours. Can we move on to a different song?
Meanwhile, Chimpy has hit new lows in his torpor of denial—a black hole that requires a shrink, not an NASA astrophysicist. He and his goons continue to pars, to insist that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and to claim that everyone who questions them, let alone disagrees with them, is partisan. That that asshole Tony Snow went after David Gregory today for “framing” things in a partisan way is the height of hypocrisy…for this week. Who the hell knows what’s on the launch pad for next week? Perhaps the weapons of mass destruction, which are going to be sent to the moon.
What the “Iraq Study Group” has revealed is that there’s no clean exit from Iraq: whether we do it now or later. Freedom isn’t on the march. Civil War and sectarian violence escalate. Our troops are doing their best albeit reports now indicate that they need new supplies. And things simply look like…a black hole.
Back to the record skip: Is this new information? Haven’t we heard this all before? We are in desperate need for a new song, and not the same old tune.
The most resounding line from Sartre’s No Exit is “hell is other people.” The most hellish reality for America’s foreign policy: there’s simply no exit.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
QUIEN ES ESA NINA: Who's that girl?
Margaret Spellings. That’s who. One of the most stunning appointments to the Bush administration cabinet this term has been Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education. Our gal Maggie was appointed back in November 2004, after Bush actually won a term.
That the mainstream media has let this appointment fly by has been unbelievable, especially for those of us in public education. Granted, one could see why the media went into an orgy over the “heckuva” job that non-qualified Mikie Brown was doing as FEMA director when New Orleans went under water. But wake-up media: Take a look at Maggie. Because although many of us on both sides of the aisle initially had high hopes for the broad improvements that No Child Left Behind would have had, it’s becoming patently obvious that it’s a colossal failure and there’s a big secret in America that few know about: Maggie Spellings, who heads the Department of Education and No Child Left Behind, is COLOSSALLY unqualified for her job. In the hierarchy of education, Spellings would be hard-pressed to get a substitute teacher position. And I’m not kidding.
Let’s review the qualifications of two former Secretaries of Education, shall we? I’ll even select two former secretaries who served under Republican presidents, ok? Just so you don’t think I’m being unfair and imbalanced here. Let’s start with Rod Paige, who served under George W. Bush’s first term.
Now I’m not a big fan of Paige, especially when he equated teachers unions with “terroists.” Well…I do know a building steward or two who has a narcissistic personality disorder and who has declared a jihad against anyone who disagrees with them, so he might’ve had a point; but that’s another story for another day. Back to Paige. Like him or leave him: Paige was more than “well-qualified” for the job. Holding a doctorate degree, Paige dedicated his life to education, serving as a teacher, a coach, a dean, and a superintendent.
How about Bill Bennet? The right guy the left loves to hate? Dr. William Bennet served as Secretary of Education under President Reagan during Reagan’s second term. As with Paige, Bennet is not one of my favorite people, especially when he made that heinous comment, suggesting that one way to reduce crime would be to abort African-American babies. Truly uncalled for. Regardless of this remark, though, which is awful, Bennet was “well-qualified” for his job. Bennet has more degrees than a thermometer, including a doctorate from the University of Texas and a law degree from Harvard. Additionally, he had served on countless boards and councils related to education, including the National Endowment for the Humanities.
It’s clear: we, the American citizens, expect that someone who fills a cabinet position such as Secretary of Education should be both well-educated and well-qualified, and that that individual should have some experience in public education. So that brings me to Margaret Spellings’ qualifications. Previously the Assistant to the President Bush for Domestic Policy, Spellings holds a degree in political science from the University of Texas. And that’s about it for education. Maggie was involved with education reform in Texas when she lived there, and she worked with then governor Bush on a whole host of issues related to education. Too bad her only experience being in a classroom has been as a student, and it’s a shame that there’s no indication that she served some time as a substitute teacher, which, in Connecticut, requires one to have an undergraduate degree, which Maggie does have. But that’s ok, isn’t? I guess that although I don’t know a fucking thing about a hospital, I should apply for chief of surgery. And maybe you, reader, who may know NOTHING about let’s say, astro-physics, should design a space-craft for NASA.
When our gal Maggie first came out as Secretary of Education in 2005, she had a “heckuva” of arrival taking everyone on from the cartoon characters on a PBS show, whom she thought were lesbians, to Dr. Betty Sternberger of Connecticut, former Secretary of Education in Connecticut, who, like Dr. Paige and Dr. Bennet had experience in education and in the classroom. Imagine that.
What I find most disappointing in all of this—deep breath—is that as a teacher, department head, and trained mentor teacher, I usually find a lot of common ground with my conservative colleagues on issues pertaining to education. In fact, we tend to agree on a great deal whereas I am constantly at odds with "left-leaning" colleagues who are more overly concerned with students’ feelings, with whether or not students like them, with sucking-up to administration, with creating problems where they don’t exist, and with slowly dismantling the Western canon in a vain effort to say that such works as The Odyssey are no longer valid (yes, some asshole presenter at a conference I attended actually said this—my wife is my witness—she was there, too). To be frank, I have found in my ten years of teaching that many left-leaning and conservative educators do have a wealth of common ground. The problem is: too many people in Washington and elsewhere are too unconscious to recognize this.
Who’s that girl? Maggie Spellings. And I’m sure she’s a nice person, and I’m sure she’s been loyal to President Bush—he likey likes that. However, she’s grossly unqualified. But here’s where Georgie has blown yet another opportunity. What the fuck? Just think what could HAVE been done had he had the right people—no pun intended—reached out across the aisle, found a way to deal with some of those zealots in the union—I know, I know, and forged away to make American education at the vanguard in the 21st century. Bill Gates has been plowing along. So has Bill Clinton and his business associates in his work for with the Clinton Foundation. Maybe we do need to get business more involved because public education remains tragically left behind. Maybe the "true" free-market conservatives have got it right.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
But Texas Air National Guard George doesn’t seem to get it, does he? When asked about what lessons the Vietnam War has to offer, our Commander of a Chimp replies, “We’ll succeed unless we quit.” Great response there, skippy. Obviously reading off of the dick diplomacy notes of Five Deferment Dick, Georgie wants to stay the course despite the mid-term election results, despite the declaration of Father Bush and his republican, old guard cardinals of the Iraq Study Group (whom I much rather prefer)—“Son, you’ve definitely fucked-up,” despite being confronted by Mother Nancy Patricia Pelosi for throwing spitballs in the Foreign Policy H block class, despite Kenn Mehlman OTDing (that’s out the dooring) of the RNC, and despite his approval ratings once again dipping around-to-below freezing.
Sure: he fired Rummy, a move many Republicans said he should’ve made weeks ago to have given some GOP candidates a snowball’s chance in Iraq of winning. Make no mistake about it: this election was a referendum on the war, despite what that asshole Oedipus-Revenge Lieberman says.
But one would think that after journeying to the heart of darkness of America’s foreign policy past, after seeing the iconography of Ho Chi Minh and the specter that that represents, after considering how Vietnam rebuilt itself in the wake of chaos and has inched to some sort of appreciation—in its own time—of free market capitalism, Georgie would get 1% more conscious about what’s going on. If his foray into the Pacific Rim with a PR blitz in the country where 58,000 Americans lost their lives doesn’t elevate his approach to this war in some way, then we will all being whispering in unison: the horror! The horror!
I've always had a high approval rating with my conservative students. I'm serious; I'm not kidding. And these kids know that I'm left of center.
What gives? A few things. First and foremost, self-identified conservative students know a bit more about government and politics--and I appreciate that. And they tend to appreciate me for appreciating that--and them. This isn't saying much, though, because most high school teachers will tell you that despite having a state-mandated "civics" graduation requirement for all students, a scary, overhelming majority of our students know squat about government and politics. It's true. Generally, though, conservative kids know more than their peers.
Because the rightolescents, I believe, know a bit more about government and politics than most of their peers, they come across stronger in class discussions that might address politics or debatable issues in one way or another. Of course, years ago when I first entered teaching, I came across a Sean Assity-in-training, who knew nothing other than what he thought; where did he get this from? Sean Assity, of course. He, though, was the exception, not the trend. Suffice it to say, the rightolescents know their stuff.
Frustrated with what was happening to the leftolescents I knew who were adrift, I was motivated a couple of years to help a group of students, at the high school where I teach, to form a young democrats club. I had to take some of these leftolescents out of the bell jar of the 2004 loss and educate them about what many of the righties already knew. And I had to encourage them to get involved; I am proud to say that many of them did with this past election.
In a recent phone conversation with a retired, left-leaning colleague of mine, whom I will call MC Master Teacher, MC Master Teacher has agreed with my observations and has also noted that in class discussion or debates, the rightolescents are generally much more controlled and compelling. I find this also to be true. More oftentimes than I care to admit, leftolescents, especially those who just claim to be so for no reason other than what they feel, tend to implode with emotion when addressing controversial topics, aspiring for high drama and operatics rather than a measured discussion. This helps explain why I don't get the right's infatuation with histrionic loud mouths like Mann Coultergeist and Rush Limfart. It doesn't make sense: would you rather have George Will and Peggy Noonan presenting your case or Coultergeist and Limfart? I say George and Peggy all the way.
Another reason that my approval rating has been consistently high with the rightolescents is that I--I believe--allow them to express their views and beliefs, regardless if I agree with them or not. Much to my dismay, I have heard stories from the rightolescents over the years that they felt uncomfortable coming forth with their ideas in certain classes. And while I can't cite any specific educators who do this, I knew a few trolls on the left who fit the bill of being looney, close-minded, and tragicaly one-sided. We educators need to encourage critical thinking for all adolescents, regardless if they ooze right or left. Let's work together on educating and broadening the American minds.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Russert: Senator Lieberman, welcome back and congratulations.
Oedipus: Thanks, Tim. It's great to be here.
Russert: Senator, you won the general election but lost the primary. Your thoughts at this juncture?
Oedipus: Tim, I have to tell you: it's been a difficult couple of months; I've learned and grown as a politican and as an indivdual; and I thank the candidates for such a spirited race. But as you know: this is politics. These things sort of happen, but the challenge is to move on.
Russert: You've gone on record saying it was a bitter campaign. Your thoughts?
Oedipus: It was bitter, and I wish it had been different--on my part, as well as on my opponents'. There was a great deal to talk about and we do need to move forward now.
Russert: Have you spoken to Mr. Lamont now since the election?
Oedipus: Yes. I thanked him for his efforts. I thanked him for being involved and raising the issues to new levels. You know, at the end of the day, he and I do see eye to eye on many issues and I have certainly considered our differences and where I need to be more embracing--let's say. And it's my hope that now the election is over, Mr. Lamont will join me along with my supporters in making sound decisions for our state and for our nation.
Russert: Improve? Would you elaborate?
Oedipus: Certainly--as I mentioned in my campaign, my role as a politician is about people. And while many agree with me, there are many who are disappointed with me. Now it's my job to listen to why those people are disappointed and to note that while we may disagree, we can work to cultivate common ground. That's my challenge. It's about people, Tim: I'm serious when I say this.
Russert: Does this include the bloggers, whom you claim vituperated you?
Oedipus: Yes. Look--being in public office isn't easy. You will have your supporters and your critics. And there were many critics who were bloggers. But as a public official representing many of these people, it's not my role to distant and isolate these individuals: my challenge is to reach out and to know them better to settle our differences and to move forward.
Russert: Iraq? What do we do now?
Oedipus: Well, while I've gone on record to support the Bush Administration, now is the time to make some changes. I don't know what exactly those changes are, but we need to do something because things aren't working and the American public is growing increasingly angry with the handling of the war. And I believe President Bush feels the same way.
Russert: And as you've indicated, you're a true Democrat. Will you caucus with the Democrat majority with the new congress?
Oedipus: Certainly. I said I'm a true Democrat, and I will caucus with my colleagues. Sure, many of them supported my opponent--I know that. But to be truthful, what would have I done had one of them faced a primary challenge and didn't win? Politics can be ugly at times. But we have to move on. And I have to move on. I said I was Democrat, and I mean what I say.
This was obviously the interview you didn't see; instead, we saw more of the same of Oedipus--angry, spiteful, parsing, and inflexible. Some things will never change.
George. And if he isn’t, then he should be. For weeks now, we’ve heard the right wing goon squad fear Nancy. Nancy, the liberal. Nancy, from San Francisco. Nancy, the left coaster. Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. Nancy, bella Pelosi. You almost get the vision of Taylor and Burton, as Martha and George respectively, singing, “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf? Virginia Woolf? The Big Bad Woolf?” In fact, while composing this entry, I went to the Wikipedia biography of Pelosi, looking for a picture, when lo and behold, I found a graphic photograph of a certain female part where a picture of Pelosi should’ve been. Talk about the vagina dentata male fear!
There’s a lot to fear with Nancy Patricia Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is a first class politician and a better role model for women than that triangulation queen, Hillary. What’s Hillary calling herself now…an ambassador of bipartisanship? Ok, Hillary Lieberman. What a crock of shit!
The youngest of a large Italian-American family, Pelosi learned early on from both her father and her family that there are discrete skills necessary to be adept at politics. Pelosi’s father, a former mayor of Baltimore and a congressman, and her brother, also a former congressman, served as role models for Pelosi. But I would argue that growing up in an Italian-American family also provided a solid training ground for Pelosi, and I speak here from personal experience because I’m part of Italian.
The Italian-American family is all about politics; anyone who is Italian-American should know. There’s the head of the family, of course—the mother. Yes, folks, mothers have far more power than fathers in the family albeit this doesn’t seem to be so. Just look at Tony Soprano, for heaven’s sake: he can’t escape the wrath of his mother or the presence of his wife—the mother of his children—and the judgment of his shrink—Dr. Melfi—his surrogate, psychic mother. Let’s take a lesson from Tony: You never want to permanently piss off the Italian-American mother because if you do, you will receive an unbearable wrath or a sustained silent treatment, which is worse. Learning to navigate the waters of our mothers’ households—their kingdoms—teaches us Italian-Americans political skills that seldom can be reduplicated elsewhere. I won’t even address sibling dynamics—the senatorial set, the aunts and uncles, who act like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, and the multiple cousins and their factions—a blog is clearly insufficient for the volumes of political experiences to be analyzed here. One could write tomes upon tomes.
The fear of Nancy, though, extends beyond her ethnicity. Pelosi’s accomplishments are quite impressive unto themselves. Having raised five children, Pelosi officially entered politics once her children were in high school. She rose through the ranks of the political scene in northern California, Marin County, San Francisco, to be exact, which has a history of being red despite the conventional indigo perception. First elected to the House in 1988, Pelosi has been a flame-thrower ever since. And she’s known for her discipline, her backroom politicking, and, believe it or not, her moderation. Sounds like all the attributes a Republican pole salivates over; for Barry Goldwater’s sake, even Joe Scarborough has gone on record to say nice things about Nancy; this, of course, was in the late afternoon when the red set was still at work.
So let’s put this equation together: Mrs. Pelosi comes from the matrix of all political matrices—the Italian-American political institute, nothing to sniff at; Mrs. Pelosi has learned skillfully how to operate in the “family”; Mrs. Pelosi is a mother, a grandmother, and a practicing Catholic—the right hates that; Mrs. Pelosi is far better at flame-throwing than frumpy Hillary; and Mrs. Pelosi, like Howard Dean, another figure of hate for the right, has all the attributes of a successful politician: discipline, responsibility, decisiveness, fearlessness, and conservative traits of governing that so many overlook. Add these factors together and what you get is what the opposition fears most: the possibility of a successful, moderate—yes, moderate, House Leader.
Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi? The neoconservative, hard right—you betcha. Just looking at Georgie in the press conference with Pelosi this week conjured up images of the naughty Catholic school boy meeting with mother superior—I know: been there, done that. The faithful left—sure, the criticisms are already rolling in, just check out The Huffington Post. And what about that junior senator from New York? Well, if she’s not scared, then perhaps she should take a harder look at Nancy Pelosi and how Pelosi has risen to success in a man’s world without bending herself into a pretzel of unrecognizable shape.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Here we go--crash helmets on: now that Lamont lost, we Americans have to "rush to judgment," the media, pundits, and yes, some of us bloggers, to suggest that the Netroots and Democrat activists have gone down in defeat in the wake of Oedipus Lieberman's redux. Snap out of it!: there's a lot more to this picture than meets the eye. First off, as KOS notes: elections are elections. Some of the candidates the net activists supported won, and some lost. Secondly, I would encourage both Lamont supporters and Lieberman voters to check out this article by Dave Sirota, who worked for the Lamont campaign. Granted, Sirota worked for Lamont but we need to go inside of the storm to see what really happened. Sirota is an apologist--you say? Well, that's a matter of perspective.
Last but not least, let's deconstruct this mono-myth promoted by David Brooks and others who have this lazy excuse for those of us who support Democrats wanting change. As I compose this blog intermittenly, I am chasing my three year old around the house while burping Catherine, the Great, who's just about a week and a half old. I don't have time to channel Lenin or Marx to ascribe to some right winger's fantasty of the mad, liberal left. My wife (yes, I'm married and we do go to church) is upstairs getting the kids' clothes so that we can go out shopping for food and baby items. Sorry, but we don't have time to plan a hostile revolution that would make Abbie Hoffman and his followers telekinetically communicate with one another from the grave. We both drank eight o'clock coffee this morning, not Starbuck's--not there's anything wrong with that. Quite frankly, we both find Starbucks good but a bit strong, so we stick with the working person's coffee just to get us through the morning. And we are charting out our day because later, I have to go to one of my three jobs. Sorry to piss on delusions of an angry "left," but I need to make a suitable living to provide for my family instead of attending the local chapter of the communist revolution.
Facts are facts; elections are elections; and some of us neither have the time nor the inclination to fulfill this poorly conceived vision of a leftist coup.
Have a great weekend, and may the force be with you all.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
(some quick observations)
1. The tide is high and I'm holding on (yes, I'm inspired here by the great Debi Harry): But let's not go nuts. Tsunami--I think not. Many of these wins were razor thin margins of victories. Even Chimpy pointed this out. Snap out of it Dems.!!! Don't get me wrong: I'll take it. But just as soon as the tide got high, the waters have already started receding and rather quickly. Be bold Dems. Bold and appealing, not whimpy and scary.
2. Post election Oedipus: A true Democrat? Get real. Ol' Joe boldly projects anger and revenge--any 9th grade student can see that. I suspect he will be doing more 3 dimensional chess with the caucus than he did before the primary smackdown. The fact that the right-wing chorus, led by none other than David Brooks and Mr. Safire on the OP-ED pages of the Times this morning, have harmonized in favor of Joe should give you an indication of how they have framed the Oedipus redux.
3. Ned is dead: Not really. Heal thyselves, Lamontistas. Ned Lamont, I believe, forced Dems. to surgically re-implant a backbonde when it came to the war. Both pundits and political scientists have noted that the Lamont influence coupled with the Murtha insurgence deserve more consideration. Get it, Dems.--a backbone. Perhaps this is why Lady Clinton, although she offered some alms to the Lamont campaign, stayed away from CT. You can't get into a pretzel with a backbone. Too bad Kerry got the backbone a little too late.
4. Looking to 2008: Well, from Lady Clinton's acceptance speech, which was enough to put me and everyone else I know to sleep, the lady has a lot of work to do. As a father of a new daughter, I'm delighted that we FINALLY have a woman speaker of the house and hope some day that we have a capable, qualified woman in the White House. Which brings me to Nancy Patricia Pelosi, who's got a pair. We like ballsy women. That's we--Americans. Hillary has shown some balls in the past. But she has cowered and triangulated a little too much for my liking. In fact, one can hear this in the rhetoric of her lame-ass acceptance speech. A note to Hillary: If you want to be perceived as tough, then be tough. Study Pelosi. Study Thatcher. Study Ol' Billy's smackdown of Chris Wallace. Study some of the gutsiness of Lamont. In the meantime, Barak and Gen. Wes. Clark are looking good, very good. And Johnny Edwards awaits in the background.
5. After the wave and the low tide comes in: hopefully, something will be done about the Iraq situation. It's a mess. Rummy is gone. Bush's Daddy's folks have come back--thank God. Let's hope something can be done for our troops. And let's stay 1% more conscious.
Monday, November 06, 2006
A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND
(a note to readers: Catherine, the Great, the latest addition to our family, arrived last week. Hence, I’ve been 1% more conscious amidst burping, changing diapers, and sleepless nights.)
Well, it’s official: Oedipus Lieberman’s narcissistic personality disorder has swung into yet another new chapter, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” In a pathetic effort to direct voters to look for his name at the ballot’s bottom—an appropriate place indeed, although I’d prefer his name off the ballot entirely, Oedipus et al are running an advertisement campaign to make sure the voters find him. How ironic!
Perhaps Oedipus Lieberman should find himself, since we now know that he’s really not a “true” Democrat even though he still clamors to be one. It’s also blatantly obvious that he’s not a “real” independent either. Being financed by every special interest group and corporation known to man, Oedipus Lieberman should be going public any day now. That Oedipus Lieberman has now sought the backers of former CT Governor and convict John Rowland shows the depths that Joe will go. And since Halloween has come and gone, some Republicans might be getting the hint that while Joe has temporarily aligned with them, his relentless masking and unmasking as any political entity financiers and their bases want reveals an individual who will do anything to retain power. Folks, he’s not a Republican either. Put simply, he’s Oedipus Lieberman, a man so myopic that what matters to him most is his own self-interest.
In a twisted way, I’m fascinated by this new chapter, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” for two reasons: one, the blatant irony; and two, for those of us familiar with the great Flannery O’Connor, her famous short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
Let’s start with the irony here: who is really good in this senate showdown? Is it Joe, an establishment, self-serving politician who believes he owns a senate seat and who is more patently concerned with special interest groups than with his own constituents? Hell, I’ve received more mail from Joe and his “friends” in the past two weeks than in the past eighteen years he’s been in the senate. Too bad the mailings are about Ned Lamont and not about explicating Lieberman’s positions on Iraq, especially since there were approximately 100 American deaths in Iraq last month compounded by the fact that military leaders have been calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation. Too bad the mailings didn’t set the record straight on Joe’s position, or let’s say positions, on Social Security. Joe’s done more triangulating on this one than Billary and Billary put together. Too bad these mailings were swifter than a response by Joe’s office to me and countless others for not filibustering the confirmation of Samuel Alito. Too bad these mailings were quicker than the responses to the many constituents who discovered that they no longer could count on Joe even though they once agreed that Joe actually did serve Connecticut, an element of this political narrative that the media has conveniently overlooked.
Is Ned Lamont the good one in this campaign? Granted Lamont is a political neophyte. Undoubtedly, he’s rather unpolished; he’s not as smooth as Joe, or as quick witted as Lucky Hands Al, who, let’s face it: talks a great game but comes up short in more ways than one. Just talk to people who live in the Derby area, and you may find out that they don’t think Al’s funny at all.
Willing to take a risk, Lamont is a father of three teenagers and a former Lieberman supporter, who, like many of us, views this prolonged, ill-conceived and mismanaged war very differently and has grown increasingly fed up with obdurate Oedipus. Unlike many of us, though, Ned has the money, influence and wherewithal to do something about it. Say what you will: Yes, Lamont is basically financing his own campaign. Yes, he has little political experience. But at least we know that Ned has paid for his campaign and dares to offer new ideas and bold criticism whereas Lieberman has been bankrolled by Wall Street backers and hackers, neoconservative loons, and special interest groups who are more concerned with…staying the course. By the way, folks, it’s a known fact that ol’ whining Joe has surpassed Lamont with campaign contributions.
Who’s good? You decide. But what does Flannery O’Connor have to do with this? O’Connor’s dark, twisted, comedic story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” focuses on this old, southern grandmother who remains stuck in her ways and resists change while the whole world around her, including her family, breaks from the past to move toward the future. On a family trip to another southern destination, the grandmother and her family learn that there’s a serial killer on the loose. Because of the grandmother’s insistence on visiting a plantation along the way, one she once went to long ago, the family literally crashes into this lunatic and his posse. Yes, they all meet their fate because of her, because of her stubbornness, because of her unwillingness to change, because of her unbending reverence for the past. One by one, the serial killer and his men start to kill off the family, saving ol’ granny for last. She tries to reason with him, and strangely enough, begins to believe that because he’s a good, Christian man, she can convince him not to KILL her. The hell with her family, who is already dead. By the time that the serial killer kills ol’ granny, the reader—and obviously, the author—are glad to see her dead. She’s that unforgiving.
So what’s your point? What does this have to do with the CT senate race? Are you outrageously implying that Joe is allegorically…that awful grandmother? Are you asserting that the serial killer and his posse are the deranged neocons who’ve bulldozed the Bush administration and engineered the Iraq fiasco? Is the car and the family in the car the electorate of Connecticut?
Perhaps you’ll have to read “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Who’s good? You decide.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I seldom say this: but I agree with President Bush. I know; I know: you think I'm crazy. But I'm not. You see, he's warned the democrats not to dance in the red zone. And he's right. As I've mentioned before: it's not over 'til the fat lady sings. And a week in a campaign season can be a very long time. A lot can change. Furthermore, one of the main reasons for republican success in the last decade has been their superior get-out-the-vote effort. So, before we all fantasize about dancing in the red zone, let's remember: there's at least two minutes on the clock.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Although I'm supporting Joe Courtney for the 2nd Congressional District seat, I've never had a major problem with Rob Simmons. Sure, I've been known to call him Washington Rob on occasion. But I have no ill will towards the man; I haven't re-named him, like I've done with Oedipus Lieberman--that shithead. And yes, I've heard all the stories about Rob and the nasty campaigning in 2004. I've also heard a number of friends of mine who say that Simmons and his family are good people.
Without question, Mr. Simmons ought to be congratulated for his service to this country in the Vietnam War. And indeed, his overall record generally demonstrates a "tendency" to be independent. He still does lockstep with the Republican led congress a bit much for my liking, though. He's no Linc Chafee or Olympia Snowe.
Anyway, this post focuses on the recent television ads for the Simmons campaign. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised by the ironies in two of the ads in particular. And I'm not the only one who has noticed.
The first ad in question ran earlier in the season, and a segment of the ad showed Washington Rob shaking EB workers' hands as they were exiting the yard; that's leaving for the day, not forever due to, let's say, lay-offs. Let's think about this for a minute. The fact of the matter is that EB has laid off a shit load of people recently, and more layoffs are to come. Yes, people are leaving EB because they are losing their jobs. Regardless of what Mr. Simmons has done in the past with attempting to secure sub contracts, why the hell would his campaign be so sloppy not to emphasize Simmons' work--no pun intended--for EB in another way? Perhaps when the workers were ENTERING the yard?
The second ad has been running recently. It's quite simplistic and effective but only to a point. Check this out: the ad involves an interview with a mother of a son who is in the CT National Guard. No question: this woman's concerns, her son's service, and Simmons' support of our troops are ALL to be commended. However, what was highly ironic about the interview with the Buchanan woman--that's her name, I believe--is that she recalls how she had to appeal to Congressman Simmons because (hold your breaths) her son was sent to Iraq without the proper equipment???????????????????????????????????????? Granted, to his credit, Congressman Simmons stepped in (thank God) to get this soldier the equipment he and his fellow troops needed; who wouldn't? The bigger issue, though, is that this narrative only confirms and emphasizes in a major way yet another fuck-up of the Bush administration and the Republican led congress: they've been sending our soldiers to Iraq and in harm's way without the necessary protection. What the fuck? Again: good for Congressman Simmons for helping out; not so good for his campaign to be packaging this information this way, though.
My point: I'm a bit stunned by the Simmons campaign team for allowing these rather problematic ironies, which, in turn, may affect him negatively, be apparent when they are trying to get Mr. Simmons re-elected. Perhaps they, too, could stand to be 1% more conscious.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I tried keeping up with who's been indicted; who's been locked up; Mary "no more wire hangers" Matalin, the eternal apologist; the exploding Foley closet; cell block Abramoff; Scooter, the pooper; and every other GOP arrest that I totally forgot Halloween, or, more aptly Hallowgop. So in honor of the usual suspects, check out this post on Wonkette:
And this Wall Street Opinion piece by none other than Sister Peggy Noonan; she's a conservative, kids, and hoping for a loss.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Just when I think it can't get any more absurd, it does. Is it a full moon? Could it be that all hallow's eve is upon us? Perhaps the literati are channeling Ionesco and Kafka? Or is there some sort of planetary alignment tilting the world off its axis? Maybe the WMD have been found?
Let's begin at the beginning: last Sunday, a day of rest. Woke-up. Got Nathan, our son, out of bed. Returned to Mommy & Daddy's room for a bit. Watched a kids' show on PBS--you know, the network that Maggie Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education, who's no more qualified than a substitute teacher, attacked with a "heckuva" of a punch. Went downstairs. Got the papers. Ate breakfast. Made sure Nathan was set with his Thomas the tank engine train set in the family room. Moved to the living room. Turned on ABC's This Week. Lo and behold: George and George.
As I was enjoying my third cup of coffee and a rather delicious apple crumb muffin, George asked George about the rhetoric of "stay the course." And George replied: "We've never been 'stay the course,' George!" I gagged. Muffin flew all over the place. Coffee splattered onto the paper. Nathan came to the rescue. Thomas derailed off the track, and so did his friends. Amy asked if I was alright. And I replied--to the TV, not to Amy: You've got to be kidding me?
If you haven't been conscious this week, let me drag you out of zombiezone. Our commander-in-denial, George W., appeared for a one-on-one interview last Sunday with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. Yes, a bit of a shocker since W. has been in huddles lately with the right wing echo chamber, including their cultural saint, Pill O'Shitty. Back to George and George. What seemed to be a routine interview took a most absurd turn when George asked George about the "stay the course" rhetoric, and George, well, flat out denied it. Granted, we've all backstroked or butterflied in the river denial, but George just bellyflopped into it like the fratboy he is. Hence, my spitup routine and Thomas flying off the tracks. Poor Thomas!
For sure, I thought that team Bush would throw W. a safety tube. No, not a chance. Instead, on Monday morning, captain Snow dived right off--no pun intended--the bridge of parsing, and virtually said the same thing, thus creating such waves that the blogosphere erupted with all sorts of commentary.
While I was still thinking about that yummy apple crumb muffin, I also thought that within a 24 hour news cycle, the media would've had this framed, settled, and doublespoke: "what he meant was 'stay the course' as a philosophy, not as the overall strategy and tactics. So we can argue this point, but this president is serious about the war against reality--oops--I mean, terroism." But no. Monday evening came, and so did more absurdity.
Like a recurring figure from Greek literature that creates all kinds of havoc, George reappears, and in my neck of the woods. That's George Stephanopoulos. He comes to SE CT to moderate the Lamont--Oedipus Lieberman--Cool Hand Al show-- debate. A routine political event quickly turned into a hybrid performance--Kabuki Theater meets Greek Tragedy meets Last Comic Standing. It was priceless: part debate; part transparent candidate preference on Mark Davis's part--that asshole; part unsolicited audience participation on behalf of the LaRouche Choir that responded to poor, tragic Joe; and a whole lot of comedy provided by Al. The most priceless moment, though, in my mind, was when Ol' Joe disavowed himself from "stay the course." Sunday collapsed into Monday. Absurdity rebounded: I was in a Kafka story. Thomas was tooting in the family room; the LaRouche choir harmonizing wouldn't leave my head; the apple crumb smell came back and made me hungry once again; and the shockwaves of denial flooded from my television quicker than a poltergeist.
What was it? Was it a sign of things to come? Was this the October surprise? Did aliens usurp my body to use it as a host? Should we all revisit Ionesco and Kafka to find the answers? Or could it be that I had been georged?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I'm concerned, very concerned. After last night's debate, if it did not become abundantly obvious that Joe has to go, then I can't help you. Al said it best: it was a performance indeed. The chorus chimed in, as it does in Greek tragedy; Oedipus Lieberman was still meglomaniacal, claiming that now he is for a phased withdrawal; and the hecklers rocked the house. Was I watching a debate? Kabuki theater, a la Joe? Theater of the absurd? No, just Joe and all of his bull.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Coming to a Classroom near You
Part 1—The Craziness
Yesterday was one of those days when I was wavering between suicidal and homicidal tendencies—yes, I’m being overly dramatic. But you know what I mean: it was too much to bear. So my overarching dilemma felt like: would I feel better off if I killed myself, or if I killed someone else? Interruption upon interruption. Paper after paper. Demand after demand. Mini crisis after mini crisis. E-mail “in” folder was full. Stop the madness!
Folks, this is just a brief description of the day of the life of a public school teacher—and every teacher feels this way, at least once a week. A bit crazy? Yes. A bit worrisome? Oh, yes. Completely insane? Absolutely yes.
Ten years ago, when I first entered this profession, it was a great time to teach. Masses of people were retiring; jobs were a plenty; practical instructive techniques were being implemented; and teaching was both challenging and exhilarating. During this time, I made some lifelong friends; some were already in the profession, some, along with me, were just entering; and I was even lucky enough to meet my wife.
At this time, there were so many initiatives. Technology was revolutionizing teaching; we were all learning new strategies; and students, for the most part, were changing along with us, or at least trying.
Being a new teacher, I was certainly overwhelmed but never overburdened. I distinctly remember a much appreciated, seasoned veteran tell me that if I were a “quick study,” I could possibly gain leverage on my teaching in three to four years. Leverage meaning: it would get easier and more manageable. Well, three to four years have quickly come and gone, and while I still love working with students, I have a newsflash that far too many teachers know: the job isn’t getting any easier.
Nowadays, teachers, those who actually do their job, have far too much to do. First and foremost we are supposed to teach, come up with plans, “align” our teaching with standards; correct work, and sometimes assign imaginary numbers to ward off a witch hunt that might ensue; do clerical duties that involve paper management—a Stephen King nightmare in the making; counsel students because we need to be concerned with how they feel and whether or not they like us—who cares if they are learning; communicate with parents to justify the grades we give; be on a committee that addresses the “need” for… more committees; attend professional development conferences that are usually hosted by…people who are no longer in the classroom or well-paid consultants; and bedeck our rooms with mission statements, standards, discipline policies and any other interior design item so that we can “flip” the room should another teacher come along, or more dreadfully yet, a walk-through or NEASC team. Can you imagine if we wallpapered the crib with the entire NCLB document? Now that’s what I call alignment!
I wish I were making this all up, but I’m not. Any good teacher worth his or her job, and many visit this site, knows that it’s just too much. And while there are some, just like in any profession, who make those of us who do our jobs, look bad by doing nothing; by pitching tent near a PC while the students do busy paperwork; and/or by going on a control freak rampage, attempting to micromanage everyone else’s day (that’s dedicated to JD and my conservative brethren SK), we all get the same amount of pay. Of course, this pay lags severely behind the salaries of other professionals, say accountants, insurance industry professionals, and, in some cases, store managers—not that there is anything wrong with these professions. I’m just saying that teachers who teach; who counsel students and do care how they feel on some level, just not with a social worker’s or psychologist’s level of expertise; who abide by what comes down from the Mt. Olympus of Administration and the Titans of Central Office; who care about their kids’ learning; who attempt to contribute to rather than contaminate the work environment; and who have a love for their discipline and actually “work” through assignments just as students should and/or do feel that sometimes, we would much prefer killing something rather than managing this inordinate amount of demands.
So in an effort to make us at least 1% more conscious about the current state of public school teaching, I have initiated a new strand on this blog, which both many teachers and, word has it, students read, called “Coming to a Class Room near You.” This is just part one in a long series to come, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
PREVIEW: Coming to a Classroom near You, part 2: The Jeri D. Hours Log: Sorry Folks: We Really Don’t Get Summers Off.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Corporate Dollar Baby
New parents of infants find themselves on a crash course of learning. And the quicker they learn the better off they are. The first learning lessons are about the crying baby. Lulled into the false reality that babies always sleep, we soon learn that babies cry a lot. And there are three basic reasons for an infant's cry: the baby is either very tired, hungry, or needs to have his diaper changed.
Would SOMEBODY please change Oedipus Lieberman’s diaper because he is so full of crap? The whining this week has made many of us go crazy-- and North Korea go nuclear. The noise has been unbearable. It doesn’t seem like he’s overly tired; it doesn’t look like he’s hungry. It must be that smelly, wet diaper on his bum that has him—and us—in such a stink.
From once again claiming that Ned Lamont is buying a senate seat when Joe has racked up more corporate contributions to surpass Lamont and an ENRON redux in fundraising, to flip-flopping on everything from social security to his “real Democrat” waffling on whether or not he wants the Dems to re-take congress, Joe has shown that mirror, mirror on the fall, his greatest flaw of them all: himself.
That real republicans have yet to recognize Joe’s part megalomaniacal, part narcissistic personality disorder is rather stunning; that’s why we told him to hit the bricks, not wear a diaper.
Joe doesn’t care about Democrats; he doesn’t care about Republicans; he just cares about himself. Acting too quickly to throw Alan Schlesinger, under the bus, or in a closet—their latest “uncolonized space,” the republicans witness Schlesinger coming up--or coming out—pun intended—swinging as a true conservative in the recent humorous debates . Who cares if he had a problem at Mohegan Sun? True conservatives would place their bets on Al.
A corporate dollar baby, Joe has to go. Oh—wait. I hear a baby's cry. Perhaps our baby Joe, like baby O’Reilly, that crusading cultural wart, in his latest interview with W., might once again blame the “bloggers” and their “vitriol.” I guess we’re 1 percent more conscious, and we approve our message.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The Rime of the Ancient GOP
Crash! Bam! Boom! Darkness falls. Winds gust to tornadic speeds. Lightening scorches the earth. Peals of thunder roar and roar. The ground begins to quake. A massive seismic wave undoes all. Buildings crumble. Cities fall. Bridges collapse.
Osama has been found? Definitely no.
A new “Exorcist” movie? No, not yet.
Apocalypse Now? No way.
Apocalypse Redux? No, Brando, no!
Apocalypse recycled, renewed, reused? No, no, and no!
The GOP closet door has exploded off its hinges, faster than RuPaul snapping her fingers, saying: “Get DOWN with your bad self.” Yes, my friends, I have a huge news flash for you all, left, right and center, so brace yourselves. Hold on tight. This may be a bit much. Seat belts buckled. Crash helmets on. Get in the launch position. 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!: There are gay Republicans. OH, my GAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As the Foley scandal reduplicates legs quicker than a xenomorph in some strange sci-fi flick, we, the electorate of the United States have two choices: to be conscious or not to be conscious. You see, so many have the Foley scandal completely wrong, especially those who shapeshift along my side of the isle, eager to look inside the closet. But let’s review the basics, so we can get the story gay—straight, I mean
Mark Foley was a congressman from Florida, who was first elected in that tsunami wave of Republican takeover in 1994. Too bad the wave’s undertow of hypocrisy immediately pulled several of its surfers down, including their demi god himself Newt, whose had more marital and extra-marital problems than Susan Lucci’s Erica Cane of All of My Children. The larger point is: the tsunami’s aftershock remains.
Thus, back to All My GOP Gays because even back then, sources claim that everyone knew Foley was a closeted homosexual. In fact, prior to the election cycle of 2004, rumors crept out from behind the door that Foley was then considering a run for the Senate, for the seat that Martinez would take. The Florida GOP world knew that Foley’s closeted life would become an issue in such a highly publicized race. The GOP knew that they couldn’t square, or triangulate in not-such-a-pink sort of way, Foley’s life with their traditional values, especially when they were making the case against gay marriage, with every nutjob from insane-in-the-membrane Ted Nugent to Pat Robertson to Jerry Falwell. Several news organizations knew this information, too. Hence, no Senate for Foley.
What’s troubling here is that of course there are gays in the GOP. And I’m not just referring to Jeff Gannon/Guckert, the gay male escort who posed as a reporter—and I’m sure as other things as well—in the White House Press Room. Yes, believe it or not: there was a gay hooker near chimpy, not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld has duly noted. But there are gay people in the GOP—learn it, deal with it. Just check out the Log Cabin Republicans, for heaven’s sake. Just check out Andrew Sullivan, for Will & Grace’s sake. Look at Lynn Cheney, for Deferment Dick’s sake.
Let’s face it: Gay people are us. They are in our families, our communities, our churches, our temples, and our mosques. They are us; we are them. They are part of our human family, and we should recognize this fact more often. What’s disturbing is how the GOP has systematically tried to strengthen its deathstar laser beams by brutally exploiting the very members that support their party.
On September 29, 2006, Mark Foley resigned, not because he was gay; rather, because he was embroiled in several allegations of inappropriate conduct with minors. And everybody knew, from the top down, or the top/bottom, in this case. The media then went nuts.
So as the GOP door ripped off its hinges, some ugly realities come before us. Who cares about Mr. Foley’s sexuality? Research abundantly shows that there is no correlation between one’s orientation and one’s inclination to engage in lewd acts with minors. In fact, like it or not, research compellingly singles out heterosexuals with an overwhelming trend of having sexual relations with minors. We do care, though, that Foley was messing around with underage pages, which is unconscionable. What’s even more unconscionable is how the GOP, the party of values, covered all this up, leading angry, irrational dems., who are still salivating revenge for the witch hunt of Billy Clinton, along a path of distraction.
But when you really think about this: is it a cover-up, or a gussied-up story to lead us astray? In this hot political climate, the answer is obvious. We are being led away from the more imminent horrors that have “come out” in the past couple of weeks. And these horrors all eddy around two black holes on this planet: Iraq and Washington.
While many people trotted along the Foley scandal path, there are several things they missed. This week, we learn that in Iraq the civilian body count hovers around 600,000, claims The Lancet, a highly respected British journal. This week’s Newsweek, with Foley on the cover and more about Iraq and Washington on the inside ironically, reports that last month there were 2,500 deaths in Iraq alone. Last week, we, Americans, lost 13 of our soldiers, just in seven days. And the sectarian violence—get a load of this shit—has spread to the Internet; go “inside” the Newsweek closet, bypassing the cover to learn more. So while everyone drools over Foley’s e-mails and IMs, they may want to refocus their interest on how the Iraqi death squads—not terrorists—use the Internet now as a way to kill. Like the bodies falling dead aboard the ship in Coleridge’s haunting, classic “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” bodies are dropping all over Iraq, both ours and theirs. But no need to worry: the other news this week that many ignored is that the Armed Services has, get this, dumb-downed entry requirements to attract more recruits. Several veterans and my dad tell me that is NOT a good sign.
A HUGE news item that many have missed, as they helplessly pitched camp inside the Foley closet, the news that may very well cause symbolic seismic eruptions and renegade jet streams, is the release of Tempting Faith by David Kuo, former deputy director of the Bush White House Faith-Based and Community initiatives. Talk about doors flying off their hinges. This brutal exposé shows, among many things, that Bush-Rove et al merely used the religious right for their political gain, calling many of its leaders “boorish” and “nuts.” That’s a surprise!
When will we learn? In Coleridge’s poem, the mariner relates the albatross around his neck with the enormous guilt he feels for randomly shooting at it. For him, it’s a horror. In our current state of politics, our leaders don’t want to acknowledge what they have shot at it or any “shooting” that’s going on, let alone redemption by wearing anything around their necks. For us, this is our horror, except, let’s keep it in the closet.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
IT’S NOT OVER ‘TIL THE FAT LADY SINGS
(a special thanks to JM for the research on this entry)
Snap out of it! I’m tired of hearing Dems. whine and boo-hoo about the latest polling that shows Oedipus Lieberman up by ten points against Lamont. As my Italian grandmother Frieda, whom I loved dearly and who was a die-hard Republican, said: it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.
Granted, the polling doesn’t look all that good. And one would think that we, Dems., finally got rid of ol’ Joe when we threw his ass overboard on the primary day in August. But like the Rocky movies—yes, a new comes out this Fall—that never go away, Oedipus is back for yet another round.
A review of Connecticut political history, though, is much needed. During the 1988 senatorial election, before Joe morphed into the megalomaniacal Oedipus Lieberman, he was running against Lowell Weiker, a liberal republican—a quick lesson for my republican colleagues here: kids, you can be liberal and be a republican. Look at Lincoln Chafee. For Pete’s sake, based on this motley crew that controls the RNC, Barry Goldwater would be considered a left-wing radical. Back to ’88. Anyway, in October of that month, prior to the debates—and there were a couple, at least—on the 12th & 17th—Joe was running ten or so points behind Weiker.
With an endorsement from William F. Buckley, the arch conservative of National Review fame, Lieberman ran a campaign to the right of Weiker. Yes, so all this bullshit about Oepidus being the “true” liberal in his race against Lamont is for the birds. Anyway, Joe did amazingly well during the debates in '88, which gave him enough momentum, in less than a month’s time, to eclipse Weiker’s lead and win the seat. The point: it’s not over yet.
WHAT ARE YOU PRETENDING NOT TO KNOW?
Pat Benatar taught babyboomers’ babies—my generation—a thing or two. Benatar along with Chrissie Hynde, Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart, and Joan Jett were the hard rock chics of the late 70s/early 80s who took no shit, who railed against weak men and weak women, who were far from afraid of being called an angry bitch, and who helped shift, I believe, the gender paradigm to a more equitable position. These women blazed a path that allowed Madonna to do her thing, for Tina Turner to resurrect from the 60s, and for several other no-talent assholes to walk, stumble upon, or just crash and burn. Stunning audiences with a three-and-a-half octave voice, Benatar waged war against the very things she had to confront: abusive power, outdated stereotypes, and being told you can’t do what you can do. When we listened to the classically-trained Benatar downshift from operatic highs to grungy, raging howls, we heard Puccini arias meeting Led Zeppelin rifts. It was like nothing we ever heard before. The one lesson we learned from Benatar and her ilk was that if we were in a bad relationship, then get the hell out.
Why oh why are we in these bad relationships with our current politicians, the people whom we elect to represent us? As Bob Woodward’s latest book suggests about Bush and company, are we, too, in a catatonic state of denial? If so, can we ever wake up? Or is it more analogous to a question Dr. Phil often asks: if you had terrible food at a restaurant, would you go back again? Are we truly going “back again” for the same old shit-on-a-plate that made us sick the first time? Let’s face it: the answers to these questions are very scary, and, strangely enough, make a convincing case for viewing daytime soap operas as much needed therapy. Perhaps repeated witnessing of blatant melodrama might well lead us to the ugly realization that we are stuck in an awful relationship with politicians, and we need to get out.
Regardless of which side of the isle you are on, things aren’t going exactly well for us, the American citizens. Polls consistently show that both Republicans and Democrats desperately want a split from our current political relationships. It’s bad enough chimpy’s approval ratings fluctuate between below freezing—31 and a whopping 40 or so; Deferment Dick’s stagnate in the teens. This congress, who just gave itself another record raise and more days off, isn’t doing much better either. Their approval rating is in the toilet, and we should definitely flush. Rather than being responsive to the American people, they are more concerned with their own agendas, their lobbyist friends, and their sex scandals. You thought Bubba and Lewinsky were bad? This Foley scandal makes that sordid narrative look like an Aesop Fable.
But let’s take a look at why we should dump these chumps. The “main street” American economy continues to get ravaged by the “wall street” American economy; CEO salaries continue to skyrocket while the middle class hits the dirt. Our true earning power measured against steroid-like, Jose Consecoish inflation rates is lower than ever. Home-heating and gasoline prices, albeit on a convenient downswing for now, aren’t exactly helping matters. What will they be like in January? Health care costs are rising, while health care benefits are diminishing; we pay more for less. Education costs, despite one’s talents and achievements, provide a fast track for a lifetime of debt rather than a lifetime of opportunity. And our foreign policy should be more aptly called our Foreign Horror. Now reportedly under the scrutiny of Henry Kissinger, who, like something from an Edgar Allan Poe story, has crossed over from the dead, this policy continues to create bad relationships all over the fucking world. What are we pretending not to know?
One would think that a much needed break-up is in the air, or at least a deordorizing stick-up is. But just like all the abusive relationships we have witnessed in soap operas or in our own lives, some people just can’t help themselves. They rationalize; they justify; they try to explain that while they should flush the crap down the toilet, they would much rather allow it to stay around and stink up the whole place. Gives new meaning to the notion of something being rotten in Denmark, doesn’t it? But there are more important questions to ask.
Why as an electorate, are we willing to stay in these bad relationships when all the evidence convincingly shows that, well, we are in very bad relationships? Do we like the abuse because we’ve become so used to it? Why don’t we vote in our own best interest? Or do we need to be “smacked out of it” by Benatar and the Wilson sisters of Heart to tell these barracudas: You Better Run?
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Fear is Foul; Foul is Fear: When the Battle is Lost and Won
It seems that literature is hot again. All the Kings Men hits the big screen soon with Sean Penn in the lead. Frank Rich’s The Greatest Story Ever Told is creating quite a stir, a renegade maelstrom of sorts in right-wing circles. Bill O’Reilly, that literary virtuoso from Fox Fiction, has published yet another volume of shit. Or “crap” as David Letterman would say; George Allen would call it “macaca,” of course. O’Reilly’s latest effort is called Culture Warrior—perhaps in honor of his tragic, out-of-court settlement in a brutal “love is battlefield” against Andrea Mackis and her rather descriptive yet strange stories of Bill’s fetish for…falafels. Let’s not go any further. Thank the good Lord for O’Shitty’s arch nemesis, the one and only Keith Olberman, who has just released his own literary effort: The Worst Person in the World: And 202 Strong Contenders. Something tells me that ol’ spinboy tops that list.
Even Chimpy is reading lit. again. Yes, W. has returned to the classics. Let’s remember, though: the man isn’t that stupid; I’m serious. He just acts stupid to get votes, to appeal to “hawd wurking American menn,” and to seem like well, Tom Cruise in Top Gun—“major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” That’s as authoritative as Cruise pontificating about post-partum depression, modern psychology and Brooke Shields.
According to Maureen Dowd, Chimpy’s red-headed Achilles columnist, who has been forbidden from the White House Press Room albeit gay male escorts are certainly allowed, and whom Zell Miller says is daemonic because of her red hair and her heritage—Irish, W. has taken a liking to a rather eclectic taste in literary choices: from novels of history to The Stranger by Camus to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. An impressive reading list indeed!
I am glad he has time to do this and run the country, a war in Iraq, which he started, a reconstruction effort in the Gulf Coast, which he has neglected, and meet, greet, and, in some cases, like poor Angela Merkel who received an unsolicited, chimpy shoulder rub, terrorize world leaders at close range—better not bring Deferment Dick along, because if you get real close, he might shoot your face off, no pun intended.
So what is this sudden zeitgeist with literature? Given our leader’s selection from the Western Canon, one can’t help but speculate about what has inspired his choices. Take Macbeth, for instance. Could it be that W. sees something “uncanny” between him and the main character? Is it that Karl has been calling poor Hillary Lady Macbeth for so long that W. wants to find out once and for all what the hell he means? Or is it that he likes those weird sisters—the witches, and, since Halloween is coming along, well, what the hell? Could it be that just as the play states from the beginning, “the battle” has begun and when November 7th is here, we will soon learn who has lost and won? Bingo: I think we have a winner.
The 2006 midterm battle for political control has more than just begun; we have entered the heart of darkness, the final stretch, the “fear factor,” and nothing scares us more than scary stories. Who cares if the National Intelligence Estimate released this week declares that the Bush Administration is systematically causing more terrorism? Just remember that we are fighting ‘em over there to prevent them from coming here, and that’s scary enough. Who cares if Bubba Clinton resurrected from the land of bi-partisanship to kick the snot out of Chris Wallace with facts, personal admission, and candor in that now famous interview? Just remember that Bubba did almost sleep with Monica Lewinsky, and that’s scarier. Who cares if two-to-three star, republican generals testified this week on Capitol Hill that the war effort is a huge mistake and Rummy is an even bigger mistake? Just remember that they are unpatriotic leftists, and this is most scary. Who cares if we are now rejoicing that gas prices are falling from over three dollars a gallon to a “save-the-middle-class-vote” of just over two fifty a gallon? Just remember that the hurricane season impacts the oil production, and this is very, very scary. Who cares if manufacturing jobs are out-the-door? Just watch the Rob Simmons commercial to make you feel better, which will scare you into not voting for Joe Courtney.
These are some scary stories indeed. But lo and behold: fear is foul, and foul is fear. Let the battle rage on. And no, there aren't horns growing out of my head because I’m Irish!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
LADY OF MASS DECEPTION
I just caught Katie Couric’s interview on 60 Minutes with Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. And what I can say? A lot.
I will begin with the reality. There’s no question: Condi’s one smart woman, and you’ve got to give her credit, like her or leave her. As an African-American woman, she never ceases to amaze me how the hell she navigates the GOP stratosphere, especially with the likes of Five Deferment Dick and Lunatic Rummy dwelling in the celestial realm. Especially since a large part of her party put up a stink in the House with renewing the Voting Rights Act in the spring. Especially since much of the right-wing talk radio echo chamber resounds with openly racist comments daily. And there’s no question that she along with likes of General Colin Powell are the GOP success stories of individuals who did not come from the best backgrounds and who truly pulled themselves up from their “bootstraps.”
Now let’s move to the deception. Did Dr. Rice have the right to talk with Couric about her childhood? Absolutely. Did Dr. Rice have the right to talk with Couric about the segregationist South during her childhood in Alabama? Absolutely. Did Dr. Rice have the right to comment on racism and its horrors? Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. Should Dr. Rice have equated the racist-motivated bombings in the South in the 1960s with the “war on terror,” against which she and the Bush administration have waged real war, against which she and the Bush administration propagandize on a daily basis, against which she, George W. Bush, and the Republic Party use as a campaign tool? Probably not. But it worked; it was convincing; and as Frank Rich has noted in his new stunning book, it’s another narrative strand of The Greatest Story Ever Told. And how clever of them to air this effort on the season premiere of 60 Minutes.
Couric did her best. She was as pointed as she could be. But this interview was with a high-profile politician; in such cases all questions, editing, and sequencing were probably checked by Condi’s people ahead of time. In a few instances, like when Couric asked Dr. Rice about whether or not—wait minute, the story shifted a bit—she believed in Bush’s plan of spreading democracy in the Middle East, Couric became a little tough; but Couric was no where near as tough as Senator Barbara Boxer’s questioning of Condi during her confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January ’05. Couric's pseudo moments of toughness were far and few between. The point is: Couric wasn’t certainly as tough as she should’ve been and it seemed that she may have been muzzled. That's because she seemed to be mesmerized by the ever brilliant Lady of Mass Deception, or at least Couric was told to look as if she were.
Condi was clearly allowed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes in this interview. From claiming that she and the administration didn’t know about the scanty intelligence, pre-Invasion to Iraq to the claim that she “resents” it when people think that she—the “mushroom cloud” fear-mongerer—and the administration misled the country, Condi just made it all look as controlled and appealing as the gorgeous clothes she was wearing. Both the red and white dress suits looked great; you go, girl! My friends from Stanford tell me she’s one hell of a shopper. But let’s not forget, though, that although she’s brilliant and she has quite an inspiring life story, she’s one of the team. She was one of the team when the neo-conservative establishment was mobilizing in the late 90s to put together a foreign policy strategy for their established candidate, Chimpy Bush; she’s been part of the team and her dividends have paid off as she was (it’s uncertain if she still is) on the board of directors at Exxon Mobile; she was part of the team when she sold the war to the American people; and she’s been part of the team that has shifted the focus away from the now-proven-false justification of weapons of mass destruction to “freedom’s on the march”—nation building and “spreading” investment opportunities—better known as capitalism.
I don’t have a problem with Condi personally, and I unequivocally believe that she’s very good at her job: deceiving. Perhaps this is why talk show personality Randi Rhodes claims that every time Condi lies, that gap between her teeth widens ever so more. Well, Randi, it seems to me that those shiny fangs have been capped, and for good reason.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
WHO'S YOUR DADDY?
I know I’m not the first to make this claim, and there are those who are far better informed than I to explicate it, but: We, Americans, are in the midst of a pandemic known as the “daddy” trauma. And we need to get help—quickly.
This can be scene in the best show in town: the 24/7 political theater, which is quickly going into warp drive as we jet into October. Just look at the political advertisements here in CT. Those congressional republicans who face a serious challenge from democratic opposition have the “daddy” fever like no one else. What’s the “daddy” fever? It’s quite simple; it’s the rhetoric of “fear not little ones, I am here to protect you simply because my party and--regarldess if I'm truthful or not--I have said so.” I wish I could say that there was more to it, but that’s the gist of the message and what’s even more frightening: it works.
With one part smear and four parts fear, both Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons, better known on this blog as Washington Rob, have launched commercials that look like they were produced by the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer of the Armageddon genre—you know, the action-packed, testosterone laden, special effects extravaganza that bedazzles the eyes and does nothing for the mind?
Let’s face it: Johnson takes the academy award for this one. Her newest commercial shows the map of the world, with “phone-links” allegedly between her opponent Chris Murphy and some random-ass terrorist in Pakistan, suggesting that Murphy talks to the terrorist, when in reality Murphy merely supports the federal FISA law as written: to do random phone-tapping, the federal government needs to get a court order within 72 hours of initiating such a program. Let me break it down for you: Murphy supports the law whereas Johnson does not, as does our favorite little chimp, W. But this is not about truth; this is not about reality. This is about who’s your daddy. Put simply, it’s about perception management, and, our gal Nancy looks like a better, stronger, ass-kicking Daddy. And poor law-abiding Chris looks like, well, a whimp.
Washington Rob, whom my republican friends keep insisting is a nice man, jumped on the Daddy Wagon recently with gusto. I have been telling the Courtney campaign that they need to turn aggressive and stay aggressive. But no. Albeit Joe Courtney gave a respectable performance in his debate with Washington Rob on Monday evening and can easily come off as a bulldog, Rob has got that formidable “daddy" fever that transfixes and controls. From the get-go, Rob cleverly conflated the war in Iraq with the war on terrorism—surprise! surprise! He then quickly referred to the McCourt mother and child, New London residents, who lost their lives on 9/11, with a grieving paternal tone, a despicable, disgraceful move on this part. And then he discussed how he has been responsible for saving the sub base from closure. This was just in his opening remarks; and you can see and hear the “daddy" fever all over the place. Who cares that time and time again, the links between Iraq and the 9/11 have been disputed, disputed, and disputed? Who cares if people invoke the deaths of 9/11 for political gain and exploitation; they’ll just say they are paying homage to those who lost their lives? Who cares if it was a delegation of Connecticut politicians, both state and federal, both republican and democrat, who were responsible for saving the sub base? Washington Rob and Oedipus Lieberman, another “daddy" fever addict, just want to claim it for themselves, regardless of the facts that both Electric Boat and Pfizer, Inc., have been laying off left, right, and center. Simmons, quite frankly, only got better as an “our father” in his closing remarks, when making one claim after another he turned to Joe Courtney, and in a condescending tone rhetorically asked if Joe could do a better job. While Simmons’s television ads pale in comparison to Daddy Johnson's, the message is the same. What’s slightly scarier, though, is Daddy Washington Rob is seen outside EB, shaking workers’ hands, as they leave the yard: only if people were focusing on the real truth that hundreds of workers have, in fact, really left the yard due to layoffs. A sad reality. But Daddy Washington Rob makes it all look better.
What is it with this daddy trauma? Reports have abounded that W. has had a long history of daddy trauma of his own; everyone knows that it was Jeb whom Momma and Daddy Bush had pegged for the White House, not chimpy. Everybody knows that chimpy was a big fuck-up pretty much all his life until he was reborn. Everybody knows that W. likes to look tough, masculine and…a bit like Tom Cruise in Top Gun to make such declarations that our missions are accomplished. But just like with Cruise, we all know deep down, an enormous disparity exists between the surface daddy and, well, the daddy in the closet. And let’s not even consider the strange, surrogate daddy relationships W. has with Darth Cheney and Lunatic Rummy. It’s daddy trauma overload!
Don’t mistake me: I think the “daddy” thing works for republicans. This is why I suspect that there will not be this tsunami wave of democratic take-over in November; it isn’t going to happen. There may be some gains. But the “daddy" fever taps into peoples’ unconscious fears and desires to blind them to the truth. It lulls them into feeling safe, secure and aligned with people who look like they know better simply because they claim to know better.
But there’s something enormously problematic about the “daddy" fever, and we can only sustain this cultural headache for so long. Just take a look at Jodi Rell’s political ads to know the difference: unlike her republican colleagues, Rell comes off as the good witch from the west. She uses no fear; she seems like you want to invite her to your house for tea; she refers to being “part” of the team that saved the sub base; and, well, she makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. That’s right: I am predicting a big Rell win in November. DeStefano doesn’t stand a chance. But what’s interesting here, though, is for all the dark and negative attributes of “daddy" fever that Daddy Johnson and Daddy Washington Rob have, our beloved Jodi has gone to the opposite pole--the good mother—and it works.
Because we’ve nursed the “daddy" fever for so long in American politics, because we’ve been like that speaker in Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy”—symbolically living in a black shoe seeing enemies all over the place, because the “daddy" fever has become so epidemic and has caused seismic rifts in the electorate, I can’t help but think if and when the paradigm will ever change?
Plato believed that a state was in part a direct reflection of those who lead that state and served as a paradigm for those who followed. In light of this consideration, are we doomed with more “daddy" fever because W. can’t appropriate his “daddy issues”? Are there too many “daddies” around him to swing the pendulum back to the center? Or is it that just maybe we need different daddies and some good mothers in the mix so that the center can and will hold?