Historical Irony and Booker T.

November 6, 2008

booker1

John McCain gave a fine concession speech last night.  High minded and principled.  His admirers say that that’s the real McCain, as opposed to the nasty mud slinger his campaign handlers forced him to be in recent months.  Perhaps so…

He cited Teddy Roosevelt’s invitation to Booker T. Washington to visit the White House and the condemnation that rained down on him for it as an example of how far this country has come in the last century.  For example, the quotation below, with offensive epithets retained for historical flavor:

“The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they learn their place again.”

[quoted inTheodore Rex, Edmund Morris, 2001, 55]

Need it be said that the speaker, Benjamin Tillman was a stalwart of the Democratic Party?


To the left of me, to the right of me!!

October 17, 2008

Socialists, communists!  To the left of me, to the right of me!!  We’re lost!!!

Yep, earlier this election season, there was a deep-pocketed fund manager in Austin, Texas making his dissenting voice heard on the bailout package with cartoons depicting Bush and Paulson as agents of a Stalinist takeover!

In their last debate, McCain asserted that Obama wants to give us a health care system like the ones in Canada or England.  You know, those impoverished, third-world, communist tyrannies we know and love…Heavens to Betsy!  Today, in the NYTimes letters there was this gem:

I think Mr. Obama is a socialist who will change the very foundation of our nation. That may appeal to some, but the reality is that socialism does not work.

Socialist indeed!  My father wishes he were a socialist the way I wish there really were two cultures in our country now.

How deep must we go to plumb the depths of ignorance of history and politics to reach bottom in this letter writer’s mind?  Still, I’m happy to see how shaken up the credit crisis has gotten people.  At least they’re asking, “How does our country work?”


We, terrorists all!

October 8, 2008

This cover on the New Yorker magazine caused quite a (negative) stir recently.  Disgusting and reprehensible were words applied to it, I recall.  It seems, now, however, that it was pretty much on the mark.  Yes indeed, listen to Sarah Palin talk and watch McCain’s ads (“Obama, too dangerous for America!”) and this cover appears to have been strangely prescient.  “This is what we’ve come to,” it was saying, and it was right.

I guess I’m a terrorist too, or at least a sympathizer.  I occasionally attend cultural events in town at a foundation administered by a fellow who did time for some criminal political activity in the 60s.  Oh, yes, and my wife has crossed paths in the field of adult education with Cathy Wilkerson, the Weather Underground member who demolished her parents’ townhouse in Greenwich Village with a too-sensitive bomb. 

I think Obama was in grade school while this was going on.  Palin probably wasn’t born yet.

Guilt by association.  Palin & McCain, the Grand Inquisitors.


Live, from Wall Street!

September 30, 2008

I took a little walk down to Wall Street, USA at lunch just now.  I actually went into Federal Hall for the first time.  (That’s George Washington on the steps, the Stock Exchange in the background.)  I hadn’t known that the building was erected some 40 years after GW’s first innaugaral.  The original structure wasn’t so imposing.

The scene there was frenetic.  Of course, tourists are always in abundance in NYC these days, what with the dollar being so low, but the television cameras were out in force.  I had to fight my way past a crowd gathered to here the latest pronouncement from the Oracle…er, update from the trading floor.  An historic time, this, and liable to more deeply change the country than 9/11 I would say.  That threat came from without – now, as the saying goes, the enemy is us.

David Brooks, with his finger in his ear to take the nation’s pulse, is fit to be tied as he decries the Republican “nihilists.”  He can’t believe that they are acting as though it is 1984 and the “enemy” is socialism or “Mondale liberalism.”  (It’s always 1984 somewhere!) Well, soi disant conservatives on the right tend to be out of touch with history, Dave.  They yearn for the golden days of 1884!  The Republican elephant is splintering into its constituent parts:  Palin-ite religious paleo-conservatives; Wall Street money men; and strict captialist libertarians, similar to what were called in the 19th century, horrorible to say,…liberals!

The hub hub makes me think of the last days of the ancien regime.  Hope it doesn’t get to that!  History is happening right before me – real people, milling around, wondering what’s going on – hanging on the words of the suits emerging from the temples of Mammon.  Surely, many of them must be thinking, “All those words of the politicians…what do they mean?  This whole system, it’s just made of people!  It’s not rocket science, it’s not the weather.  Some people wanted to get very rich in a very easy way, and now they’re terrified.  Of course they want us to bail them out.”


Are YOU experienced???

September 17, 2008

What a topsy-turvy few weeks in the news it’s been!  Let me mention my highlights:

Federal Government declares it will let Lehman fail to protect the principles of the free market.  Rep. Barney Frank declares Sept. 15 Free Market Day.  Sept. 16 Federal Government effectively nationalizes AIG.  This under a Republican president!

John (Keating Five) McCain, the Republican candidate, lambastes the “greed” of Wall Street and calls for more government regulation.  Experience, Oscar Wilde said, is the name so many of us give to our mistakes.  Has John learned from his?   He did recently say that he knew little about economics.  Time to hit those textbooks, John!

Republicans, whiter and richer than ever, have a convention at which they rail against the elite.

Does experience matter?  OF COURSE – Palin has none…ooops, it doesn’t REALLY matter!

David Brooks, at sixes and sevens over the nomination of an airhead evangelical for veep practically endorses Obama-Biden.  What other conclusion can you draw from his recent column?  He just can’t face the facts of it.  (Shocked, shocked!!! that Republicans would nominate such a person simply because she assures their rabid base of religious nuts.)

News reports say that the Fed bailout of AIG may actually be quite profitable for the taxpayer, as was the loan bailout of Mexico in the 90s.  They charge high interest rates, and they get to call the shots, having dumped the shareholders.  Why not do this more often a reporter asks?  “That would be socialism…”


2 + 2 = 5

September 4, 2008
Our Big Brother

Our Big Brother

Will I ever tire of citing George Orwell and his book, 1984?  As I like to say, “It’s always 1984 somewhere!”  Right now, it seems like it’s then right here in the USA.  In his book, Orwell has the Party functionaries say that if The Party says the laws of arithmetic are suspended, then 2 + 2 = 5 and that’s it.  Believe it or die!

George Romney told the RNC that we need “a party of big ideas, not Big Brother!”  This from a minion of the party that has implemented domestic surveillance and suspension of habeus corpus.

The Republican flunkeys, one after another, tell us that we should elect their man because “Washington is broken!”  Uh, yeh…YOU’VE been in charge for the last eight years.  No wonder it’s a mess!

Funny also that the bedrock American political culture, even at the RNC, seems to be Democratic:  references to profiles in courage (JFK), the glass ceiling being shattered by Hillary and Geraldine, calls to service (FDR)…etc.

Keep calm…


Wake me when it’s over…

August 31, 2008

The Election…aaarrghh!   I made up my mind long ago.  That is, there wasn’t even a question.  The political theatre is not for me.  Going over the statements and claims made by the Republicanos just drives me nuts.  I should tune in to the McCain party just to try and learn why anyone would vote for them, unless they’re a religious fundamentalist or a wealthy coupon-clipper.  Grrrhh…must calm down…


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