If only this was always true. Unfortunately, history has a tendency to be written by the people in charge. For example, I find it rather disgusting that President Abraham Lincoln promoted himself as a racist. Mr. Lincoln was no man with sensitivity for black people and yet black people love him. He freed the slaves! Trust me, if Mr. Lincoln could have met his goals and keep black people as slaves, I’m sure he would’ve died a much happier man. Mr. Lincoln suffers from no stern judgment. And if it can happen for him, why can’t it happen for Mr. Bush?
I was rather appalled to hear the suggestion that the future would be much kinder to President George Bush. This man has wreaked havoc on the United States and the entire world. He will forever be linked to this second war on Iraq under the guise that the United States had the right to initiate preemptive wars against perceived yet totally unsubstantiated threats. We will find the weapons of mass destruction. We will chase Osama bin Laden through the gates of hell and around the flames of perdition until we find him. Mr. Hussein defied United Nation mandates and so the United States had to defy the United Nations in order to prove to the world that no one should be defying the United Nations. The reasons the Bush administration gave for promoting war is as long as the war itself.
Mr. Bush turned a blind eye to the suffering in New Orleans. The other day in his final press conference he held fast to his claim that the federal government moved quickly because the Coast Guard was there plucking people off the roofs of their houses during the storm. Because the local Coast Guard was unhampered by bureaucracy and didn’t get the memo that the lower part of Louisiana did not receive federal disaster area recognition and didn’t wait for approval to come through proper procedure in order to act, Mr. Bush wants to claim the actions of a few helicopters as indicative of a prompt, and it is implied sufficient, response by his administration to cover the lame effort put forth by FEMA. If I recall properly, Mr. Bush said heckuva job Brownie and not heckuva job Coast Guard.
Mr. Bush let oil companies define his energy policy and then looked surprised when those companies started making record profits earning as much as a billion dollars a week while the public suffered with paying four dollars a gallon for gasoline. Mr. Bush put people with sympathy for polluters in charge of the EPA.
Mr. Bush ignored the signs that a financial crisis was looming and instead stuck his head in the sand with claims that the foundation of the economy was strong. Plugging the hole that people were beginning to fall through when it was a relatively small problem never registered on Mr. Bush’s brain. We had to wait until large companies were failing before reacting. Mr. Bush enacted a policy of too big to fail, too small to help. By the time the government began to react, it was too late. A stitch in time would have saved a huge national collective headache. There is the Valerie Plame fiasco which could probably be summed up as No Spy Left Behind. And don’t forget how the Bush administration would manipulate science to deny doing anything about global warming or to fund any science that conducts research with stem cells from embryos.
There is a long list of Mr. Bush’s associates who have sulked away into obscurity, or soon will be. There’s Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield, Chief Advisor to the Vice President I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a butt load of White House press secretaries, Julie Myers of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Christine Todd Whitman of the EPA, the former director of FEMA Michael “Brownie” Brown, Thomas White the former Interior Secretary, Elaine Chao the Secretary of Labor, Paul Wolfowitz the former Deputy of Defense Secretary, and the master king pin of all Karl Rove.
Mr. Bush points to his No Child Left Behind policy as one of his few successes. But for the past eight years the government has mandated that schools teach children to take a standardized test in order to compete for their funding instead of teaching children the three R’s. Mr. Bush likes to point to his drug policy for seniors as another success. Let’s see, we’re going to counter a war that has cost millions of lives and destroyed families and robbed our national treasury with the fact that our senior citizens no longer have to go to Canada to afford their prescriptions. Classic Bush.
When I initially heard Mr. Bush say that he will be vindicated by future historians I had to laugh to myself. Ain’t no way in hell people can forget the depth of this administration’s inclination to manipulate facts and distort truths. Nobody’s memory is that short. No history book’s pages fade that quickly. I held on to this notion for about a month or so.
But then I got an epiphany and I realized that there is very good potential that Mr. Bush could be remembered as one of the best Presidents this country ever had. I heard a report that President-elect Barack Obama will be using a Christian bible that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln to take his inaugural oath. Mr. Obama will be delivering his inaugural address within sight of the Lincoln Memorial. For a while now, Mr. Obama admitted that he has been using the presidential policies of Abraham Lincoln as inspiration for his strategy for picking his cabinet by reaching out to his political opponents as well as by reaching across the political divide to the other party. Mr. Lincoln’s influence is all over Mr. Obama’s political image at this particular moment.
On the surface this will sound like a good thing to a lot of people. But Mr. Lincoln was no benevolent agent for the black community. While the black community has been trained to love Mr. Lincoln because he was the great white man that freed the slaves, Mr. Lincoln was also a racist and a bigot who felt no inclination to truly abolish slavery and make the black community whole. Mr. Lincoln admitted that he was never in favor of bringing about social and political equality between the white and black races. Mr. Lincoln said he would never support voting rights for black people. Mr. Lincoln was a good example of racism of his time. Yet, his reputation for racial compassion remains one of the greatest products of propaganda in America. This man’s character has been so thoroughly whitewashed that the majority of black people are more than happy to worship this man’s name. The first black President worships this man as well, a man who said he would rue the day that blacks and whites would be free to marry.
So if such a flip of the original script can happen for Mr. Lincoln, why can’t it happen for Mr. Bush as well? History is written by people who control the present. The history of today will be written by people who control the future. If the people who control the future think favorably of Mr. Bush they’ll put so much spin on the reputation of his presidency that a black hole couldn’t suck up all the lighting used to favorably distort his image. The stench of this presidency will be described as little more than the pleasing fragrance from a thorn free rose. Mr. Bush too can be whitewashed. Depending on who controls the future all it takes is time.
History may have a long range perspective that passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates people who fight for equality and the end to oppression. That’s a pretty thoughtful expression and one we’d all like to think holds a lot of water. Vindication sounds good. But another thoughtful expression that holds even more weight is the one that says those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has some hardened steel balls. The man stands before a cheering crowd and invites anyone to tape his conversations because they are so lawful. He’s then caught on tape complaining that somebody expected him to give away the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama without getting anything in return. It’s fucking golden and you can kiss his ass if you think you’re going to get in there without making it worth his while to put you there.
Caught red handed Mr. Blagojevich says that he’s innocent of any wrong doing. Instructed by members of the Democratic Party not to assign anyone to the Senate seat because for all technical purposes nobody he selects will be fully trusted, Mr. Blagojevich settles for former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the position. The word is settled because the first Senate picks were smart enough not to get caught up in this messy affair. Not Mr. Burris!
Mr. Burris, confident that he has the legal authority to take his seat as the junior Senator from Illinois, is more than happy to jump at the chance to become Mr. Blagojevich’s political bitch. Mr. Blagojevich can simply sit back and watch the spectacle of this political drama unfurl from his Governor seat. Now, long before Mr. Burris was selected it was made public that no one Mr. Blagojevich would select would be acceptable. However, Mr. Burris, who became the first black political something or other in the great state of Illinois, thought it clever to play the race card and scream that the only reason he is being denied his rightful place in the Senate that happens to be zero percent African American at this time is the fact that he is black.
The stench from this farce gets even thicker.
Now, Representative Bobby Rush wants to throw his two cents into this cock fight. Mr. Rush, who originally opposed Mr. Obama’s effort to become the junior Senator from Illinois and instead supported Mr. Obama’s white opposition, now says that the seat must be held by someone of African decent. Essentially, it is nothing more than blatant racism on the level of Alabama Governor George Wallace keeping black students from attending Alabama University that keeps the black Mr. Burris from entering the all white United States Senate.
I have to confess that my knowledge of Mr. Rush’s history with the black community is a bit lacking. However, if this racist rant is any indication of Mr. Rush’s thought patterns then it should be obvious that this man has become the very last thing the black community needs. Would it be fair to Mr. Rush if white people were to stand up and say that the other ninety nine Senate seats belong to white people? The fact that Mr. Obama and Mr. Burris share skin color is not a qualifying attribute for his appointment to the Senate and does not deserve a single moment of consideration from anyone.
You would think black people learned our lesson about getting any black person to replace a black politician or political appointment. For example, Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointee to the Supreme Court was replaced with Clarence Thomas, the second black appointee to the high court. Yes Mr. Thomas might have been a black man. But to think this somehow automatically made Mr. Thomas a more appealing justice to black people is simply ludicrous. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again, I’ll be happy to take Ruth Ginsburg, the little white Jewish lady on the Supreme Court, any day before I’d take uncle tom Mr. Clarence to hear my case. Being black doesn’t mean one should enter a quid pro quo with the black community. It’s this very kind of thinking that got Mr. Blagojevich in trouble in the first place.
It is a travesty of everything the black community has worked for to see these two black relics from days of yore play their race card so hard. They are allowing themselves to be played to do the bidding of a blatantly corrupt Governor. Mr. Burris and Mr. Rush are too caught up in the moment of getting that fucking golden something to know that all that glitters is not gold. And even if it was golden, everything golden isn’t always worth having. King Midas learned that lesson the hard way.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Mr. Blagojevich is about as far from King Midas as one can get. His touch didn’t bring value to the Senate seat. The Senate seat is not something golden that should be coveted. If anything it is a stinking, ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. It is tainted. It is contaminated with an infection of political corruption that needs to be sterilized with nothing less than political fire. The first people Mr. Blagojevich asked to accept a seat at the center of this controversy knew better than to blemish their reputation with such political poison.
But in typical human fashion there is always somebody around who is more than happy to snatch whatever glitters in their eye. In a perfect impersonation of the poor Smeagle / Gollum of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fame, some people are simply blinded by that which shines believing it will complete them. I can imagine Mr. Burris at his home muttering to himself calling for his precious, ready to chase his golden ring off a cliff into bubbling lava.
The taint is simply too strong in this one. The simple fact that Mr. Burris doesn’t have the good sense to avoid the association with the Illinois Governor is proof that he is unqualified to become a member of the Senate. Mr. Burris would sell his soul to Beelzebub, or Blagojevich, if it would result in his appointment. A for sale sign could be placed around his neck without fear of exaggeration. That’s not what the people of Illinois need at this time. It seems the Governor is intent on making sure the people of Illinois rue the day they ever heard the name Blagojevich and Mr. Burris is just too happy to help.
“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” – Illinois Senator Barack Obama
With that simple statement President-elect Barack Obama expresses his compassion and sympathy for the government of Israel in their perpetual conflict with the Palestinians. However, I do wonder how Mr. Obama would feel if his two daughters were going to sleep every night hungry because of a blockade that kept him from obtaining food. How would Mr. Obama respond if somebody was preventing his daughters from getting medication they need to control allergies or for other ailments? How would Mr. Obama react if there was somebody who kept his family in the dark refusing access to electricity or fuel? Would these conditions be more acceptable or more tolerable for him and his family?
While Mr. Obama wears his compassion for Israel proudly on his sleeves, his compassion and empathy for the people of Palestine and in the Gaza strip competes with the chirping of crickets for silence. The idea that the Palestinians are the only ones responsible for triggering this conflict is about as unfair as the racially generic but predominantly white community of America’s claim that the black community is more prone to criminal behavior based solely on one sided statistics and per capita numbers instead of an all encompassing understanding of cause and affect.
For the past six months there was a cease fire in this part of the world. There were no rockets falling in the northern part of Israel. There were no bombs falling in Gaza. But while people enjoyed life free from falling bombs and suicide bombers, Israel maintained its blockade on the Palestinian people unhappy with the fact that these people exercised their democratic rights and voted for Hamas to run its government. The people of Israel see Hamas as little more than a terrorist organization and decided to put the thumbscrews to the Palestinian people in order to influence them to select a different form of government.
It is true that Israel withdrew from Gaza. But it’s also true that Israel refuses to let the Palestinian people control their own destiny or to exist as equals. If Gaza does not comply it is subject to a punishing embargo designed to make the people regret their collective choice. Israel may feign surprise and innocence to the rocket attacks, which is meant as a retaliatory action for a people who have to see their children doing without the basics other people take for granted with no end in sight. The cease fire was honored, and yet no progress made on the blockade front. Who is the real aggressor in this conflict? Is Israel as innocent as they would like the world to believe?
It is a rather ridiculous notion that the Palestinian people want to erase Israel off the face of the planet is going to do it with the rather low technology rockets that would have difficulty hitting the ground if it weren’t for gravity compared to the United States military contractor sourced smart bomb technology of Israel’s arsenal. While a constant rocket attack is nothing to be tolerated, neither is the systemic starvation and subjugation of an entire community of people.
At last count, well over three hundred fifty Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four day bombing of Gaza and three times that many have been injured compared to five Israelis. Dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed in the past four days from Israel’s massive retaliation and the Israeli government has made no signal that the escalation of violence will be halted any time soon. The message is that if anyone thought the people of Gaza was living in hell before, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Those people can deal with their affliction and feel the wrath of the Israeli military at the same time now. They will be bombed back into submission.
And if all that doesn’t work, judging by the public support of Israel by the American President and the President to be, a low yield nuclear device would probably be acceptable. We can’t have other people in the Middle East thinking that they are entitled to the same existence as the people of Israel. The Israeli people have a right to expect to be able to go to bed at night without rockets coming into their home. Whether or not the people of Gaza can have the same expectations, as well as the expectation to food, medication, utilities and the other essentials to meet a civilized standard of life is a matter of opinion.
In the news this morning I saw a member of the Israeli legislature discussing Israel’s options as well as the potential for the American response. Recognizing the fact that the United States is about to go through a presidential transition, one official dismissed the idea of angering the coming Obama administration. The legislator quoted Mr. Obama’s statement at the beginning of this article. Why would Israel worry about Mr. Obama when Mr. Obama made it clear that the United States is fully behind Israel?
The President-elect has never uttered a single word criticizing Israel’s actions against its neighbors in the Middle East. Mr. Obama has never uttered a single word supporting Gaza. Unfortunately, before he can even assume the presidency, Mr. Obama has again demonstrated his bias against any changes in the status quo. All the slogans about a time for change are quickly evaporating into a political vapor of the same old same old. People who continue to hope for a genuine peace in the Middle East brokered by an impartial Untied States government led be Mr. Obama are better off hoping Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny will visit their homes.
So the children of Israel can sleep well at night knowing Mr. Obama looks at them and sees them as he sees his own two daughters. Such empathy and compassion sends a strong message of support. Too bad the other children in the Middle East don’t have an American President who is willing to vocalize a similar compassion and a similar support. What world leader stands ready to empathize with the children of the Gaza strip?
The other night, right after work, my cable station participated in the test to determine whose television is not high definition signal ready. As the minutes wound down to test time, I sat cool and confident knowing that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. And right on schedule, in big letters across the screen, my television displayed a message that my television was not digital signal ready. I was pissed. I wasn’t upset over the fact that my television wasn’t ready. I was upset over the fact that I had to spend five minutes watching a message that my television was digital signal ready instead of my news program. I had to miss five minutes of my television show to learn something that I already knew.
I bought my television about seven years ago. It is a big, cathode ray tube, design that weighs a ton. It was state of the non-projecting television art when I bought it. But that was way before digital television was going to become a standard, and only, broadcast. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a five minute interruption of the News Hour With Jim Lehrer.
But my television is hooked up to one of the digital satellite providers and so I really have nothing to worry about. The cable company will continue to transmit in whatever signal the cable box needs and the cable box will continue to transmit whatever signal my television needs. The last thing I need right now is to worry about going out and buying a digital signal ready television.
I have to admit that I have noticed that now is a really good time to buy a television if one truly needs or really wants one. I was looking through a Best Buy advertisement where I saw a 32 inch flat panel name brand television going for less than four hundred dollars. Now that’s a deal if I ever saw a deal on a television. But nevertheless, four hundred dollars is a lot of money these days when people are facing the real possibility of being unemployed or losing a home or both or worse or both and worse. The expense of a new television just doesn’t see prudent right now.
And yet, the five minute broadcast condemning mine and so many other people’s television to obsolesce troubled me. The program was designed to make people as afraid of their television sets as they were after that one movie where the dead girl popped out of the television to kill people who watched her video seven days earlier. People have never looked at their television with so much suspicion knowing that it might betray television watchers everywhere at the least opportune time two months from now in mid February.
What better time to instill a sense of mistrust and a sense of panic about the impending television crises on par up there with the overblown Y2K disaster than the week before Christmas when retailers are hurting the most and people are on the fence about major gift giving purchases. The warning that your television is not digital signal ready might be intended to push those fence sitters on the dark side of instant gratification and avoidable debt or at least diminished savings.
Even if the television isn’t digital signal ready what’s the worst can happen? Somebody misses a show? I missed five minutes of mine and I survived. I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. How long will it take to go out and get another television or a converter box or a cable box if your signal fails? About as much time as it takes to go out and buy one of those devices today. And worst comes to worst you just might find yourself with some extra time and under less influence from some marketing company.
If I had my druthers I wouldn’t even have a television signal in my house. The idea of paying good money out of my pocket for the blatant propaganda that comes through the various television shows and commercials and news broadcasts is more than enough reason to give me pause. Most of the shows I like to watch are available off the internet in whatever signal my computer needs. It’s nothing to hook a line from one of the computers to my old television. If my television goes out in mid February it could be a blessing in disguise. But the rest of the family may not be ready for a television broadcast free existence.
But in the meantime, I’ll continue to suffer the messages telling me that my television is evil and could possibly fail me come mid February. I will watch the propaganda telling me that my non digital television is not a digital television and will turn against me. If anything I should respond with a preemptive strike and cut the analog signal off as well as its digital counterpart before they cut me off from the money I pay on a monthly basis to be influenced by the most pervasive propaganda delivery system in the world. I could use all that money I will save from not paying for monthly broadcast propaganda and buy a new digital flat screen television. Who knows, I could use it to watch one of those videos where the girl comes out seven days later.
Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church claims that he is not a homophobic because he has had dinner with gay people. He is not homophobic because he has a church full of people who care for gays who are dying of AIDS. However, Mr. Warren believes that homosexuality is a sin and people who are gay are going to burn in hell. Mr. Warren explained that homosexuality is not the natural way of nature explaining quite simply that certain body parts are meant to fit together. But obviously not Mr. Warren’s brain and mouth.
Mr. Warren said that he thinks allowing a gay couple to marry is similar to allowing a brother and sister to be together and call that marriage or an older man marrying a child and calling that a marriage. It seems Mr. Warren feels that gay people marrying is akin to incest and child rape. It should be noted that this is the kind of argument that people once used to prevent interracial marriages. It doesn’t take much to imagine some racial bigot making the argument that if you allow black people to marry white people it is just a matter of time before people (by people we have to assume white people) start marrying their horse, cow, dogs, or whatever. Interracial marriages will lead to gay marriages! There will be marriage anarchy!
And this is the man President-elect Barack Obama has chosen to give the invocation during Mr. Obama’s inauguration. Not only should gays and lesbians be angry that Mr. Obama so honored Mr. Warren with such a high profile connection to the Obama presidency. Anyone who takes offense at such blatant and thoughtless narrow mindedness should be outraged. In one fell swoop Mr. Obama has confirmed himself as a man who is tolerant of certain bigotries and prejudices.
Mr. Obama defended his choice of Mr. Warren saying that Americans need to come together even when we disagree on social issues. That dialogue is part of what his campaign was all about. Beautiful words for sure. Any minute now we can expect Mr. Obama to give a voice to the member of the klan who hates black people or to the chauvinist who thinks women should stay at home barefoot and pregnant. We may disagree on those social issues as well but that’s no excuse to keep these people from having a public voice. I wonder when we can expect Mr. Obama to give the anti-Semite his or her time in front of the public’s attention. Would the person who advocates prejudice against the Jewish community and Israel be just as welcome in the White House during the Obama presidency?
The question is totally rhetorical. Mr. Obama is an apt politician who dodges most controversial issues by deftly aligning himself with the orthodox view designed to gratify the majority of people. In Mr. Obama’s calculation, the gay and lesbian community is nothing to worry about. The political power that may be associated with the gay community pales in comparison to the strength of the conservative intolerants. And a sympathetic gesture to conservatives now can work wonders later on. You never know when you will need a favor. Or maybe Mr. Warren’s selection is payback for a favor already given. You may never know. But the point is that right now, the offense of the gays and lesbians is nothing that warrants Mr. Obama’s attention now. Besides, there’s plenty of time to appease these people later on.
By all means the American people need to come together on the social issues. Going forward to face the many crises on our horizon, the country needs the cooperation of all socially conscious communities without exception. Any support of people who are intolerant and stand ready to impose their views supporting inequality and separate conditions for others is inappropriate and rather shortsighted. In an America where we talk about unity for all, to unite with a bigot is counterproductive.
Mr. Obama is willing to gamble his relationship with the homosexual community for the greater good. It is a classic political move. The good of the many or the politically strong takes precedence over the good of the politically weak. We’ve seen Mr. Obama exercise such judgment when he stands before the Jewish community and states in indisputable terms that the United States will not let Israel fail. We’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum when Mr. Obama stands in front of the black community to reinforce racial stereotypes by charging black fathers to quit being fools and support their black children.
For sure the gay community, like many communities tired of the past recent years where an ultra conservative political agenda was in firm control of our politics, wanted to see a new change of direction and firmly supported Mr. Obama. And to thank the people for their support Mr. Obama makes a high profile deal with the Dick Chaney of the homosexual community.
It’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and watched a football game in my living room. Like most things I used to do once upon a time I don’t get the same thrill out of watching a televised football game that I used to. Like most things the game of football is filled with some of the most blatant examples of disparity. Young upstarts fresh out of school getting hundred million dollar contracts to play sixteen games out of the year and shoots him self in the foot with an unregistered pistol or runs a dog fighting business out of his basement on his days off. I watch players dance a jig and showboat into the end zone only to lose the game. If homey could only focus on playing the game with some kind of class instead of dancing like a five year old when something goes their way I might be a tad more willing to invest more of my limited time to watching the sport. But ticket prices approaching triple digits and ten year old stadiums, condemned because of the relative obsolesces compared to the new platinum for stadium construction on the other side of the country with entire rows of escalating seats, has sapped away my love of the game.
One thing about football that really drove me crazy is how after four quarters of play from both teams, the whole game will come down to a single act of whether or not a kicker makes a field goal. The kicker misses the three pointer and he lets his teammates down. If only his foot was stronger or his aim was more accurate the team would have won the game. Monday morning quarterbacks will complain bitterly that the unsuccessful kicker needs to go. How the hell did he miss that fifty eight yarder?
But it takes an entire team to win a football game. If the offensive line doesn’t protect the quarterback the quarterback won’t be able to do his job of searching for the best player to get the ball down the field. If the receivers don’t do their best to get down the field the ball is less likely to go down the field. If the defensive line doesn’t hold the opposing team will be able to score more easily. Everybody helps to win and everybody helps to lose. It is that plain and simple. The entire team wins. The entire team loses.
Last week, the United States Senate, driven by a very Republican effort, failed to pass legislation to help the domestic automobile industry because of the UAW’s refusal to go along with a stipulation that the pay of the domestic autoworkers must be in line with the pay of the foreign autoworkers. The deal collapsed like a house of cards on an especially windy day. And now, the Senators that kept the bill from being passed are given credit, or blame depending on perspective, for the eminent failure of the automobile industry.
Now from what I understand, the domestic automobile industry has been losing ground against its competition for more than three decades. Ever since the first oil embargo of the seventies which led to the first major energy crisis this country had to face, our domestic car company has been losing ground to its foreign competition. It was easy to dismiss the competition back in the day when the big three controlled more than seventy percent of automobile sales. It was business as usual with half assed attempts to offer products that could meet foreign carmaker standards of quality and efficiency. And while foreign carmakers pushed a relentless campaign to improve their products from the ground up with constant regularity whether they were selling well or not, domestic manufacturers sat fat on their laurels, happy to push old iron in new, colorful sheet metal.
But the real poison pill of the domestic car companies was its refusal to prepare for a future where energy costs becomes much more expensive and the profitability of selling inefficient automotive products. While the foreign carmakers began to follow the domestics’ example of offering huge, lumbering trucks and sport utility vehicles, the foreign carmakers never stopped developing their products at the other end of the automobile spectrum. Small cars are king right now and the traditional truck is a has been. Even Hyundai, whose initial products were so dismal they conjured images of a slightly more modern Yugo has learned from its mistakes and is now competing head on with the best from Japan and Europe. Everyone seems to have made significant steps towards improving their stakes in the small car market game. It appears that everyone is taking steps to compete with the exception of Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. And now that the market is flipped, the domestics are poor competitors in need of a near miracle Hail Mary field goal just to stay in the game.
Whatever their reason, enough Republican lawmakers refused to cooperate and give the domestics that miracle. And now, we’re supposed to believe that these lawmakers are the reason that our automobile industry is about to bite the dust. But the lawmakers, like the field goal kicker, should have never been put in the situation of being the only hope for the entire team. Hail Mary’s seldom work in football. It is the last gasp strategy of a desperate team incapable of winning the game with sound fundamentals.
Who was it that said that the United States would be greeted in Iraq as liberators? Who was it that said that President George Bush would have statues built in his honor by the people of Iraq for liberating the country? If this person meant that George Bush would be liberating people from their shoes then he or she was dead on accurate. However, it is pretty clear that the Iraqis don’t build statues for shoe liberators.
When I saw the President ducking shoes hurled at his head by the Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, I had to ask how much more evidence do we need that this man’s approval ratings have hit bottom. According to the news reporter, in Iraq, throwing a shoe at someone is the mother of all insults. I remember when the statue of Saddam Hussein were pulled down by United State soldiers how so many Iraqi people made considerable effort to use their shoes to hit the statue in its symbolic head. A shoe to the head appears to be standard procedure for communicating dissatisfaction with someone.
I have to admit to some disappointment that the Iraqi shoe thrower yelled something in his native language drawing the attention of Mr. Bush and giving the President an opportunity to duck the thrown shoes. It would have been so satisfying for me to see Mr. Zaidi’s Hush Puppies bouncing off of Mr. Bush’s head. Mr. Bush has some pretty good reflexes, probably honed from all the projectiles hurled by Laura Bush on a regular basis. Mr. Bush ducked behind the podium and rose back up again with his trademark smirk, more frustrating to see than one of those stupid painted expressions on a whack-a-mole game at a Chucky Cheese pizza.
In an interview that followed, Mr. Bush wanted people to think about the symbolism of what had just happened. Saddam Hussein would never tolerate anyone throwing a shoe at him. The thrower, the thrower’s family and friends, and maybe the shoe salesman who sold the shoe to the thrower would disappear to be executed under what could be imagined as the most gruesome of circumstances. Kind of like what has happened to many Iraqis who found themselves in the custody of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib.
A lot of progress has been made in Iraq. Mr. Zaidi won’t be executed by Saddam Hussein. He will only face Iraqi law. Then again, if Mr. Hussein was in control of Iraq, the Mr. Zaidi wouldn’t be so upset from watching his country getting royally screwed by a foreign invader. A lot of progress has been made in Iraq. But there has also been a lot of destruction and corruption and stagnation and regression and death, all at the hands of Mr. Bush.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis didn’t have the good fortune of dodging a simple shoe hurled at them by a disgruntled American soldier. Hundreds of thousand of Iraqis could do little more than duck as megatons of explosives rained from the sky released by American planes of war, easily some of the most sophisticated machines of death made by man. And for the Pandora’s Box of chaos Mr. Bush has released on the country of Iraq, he gets to duck from a couple of shoes.
The Iraqi government so friendly to Mr. Bush is holding Mr. Zaidi on charges of a barbaric act that insulted the Iraqi state according to Yasin Majeed, the prime minister’s media advisor. The government said Mr. Zaidi’s ignominious act was not fitting of media demanded an apology from his employer, the independent television station al-Baghdadiya. But instead the television station demanded Mr. Zaidi’s release, calling the man a hero of the Iraqi people. The television station played continuous loop of patriotic music with Zaidi’s face plastered across the screen.
For throwing the shoe at Mr. Bush, Mr. Zaidi now faces years in prison. In all honesty the man attempted little more than attempted assault. Mr. Bush was not injured in the least. No one died. A nation was not destroyed. Mr. Bush is responsible for heinous crimes against the country of Iraq and is hailed by a puppet government as a hero. Mr. Zaidi throws a shoe and now faces years behind bars. Yes it might be true that Mr. Zaidi may have let his passion get the best of him. He probably deserves punishment. But does this man truly deserve to spend years behind bars?
It turns out maybe there hasn’t been that much progress made in Iraq after all. Disparity seems to be alive and kicking in Iraq, as much now as it did back in Mr. Hussein’s day. It’s this type of discrimination that makes you want to throw your Nikes, Buster Browns, Doc Martins, Stacey Adams, Converses, Nunn Bushes, as well as your Rockports at somebody’s head. I’m surprised it’s taken so long for someone in Mr. Bush’s vicinity to realize that half the fun of having feet is having two shoes to throw at the most opportune time.
Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on charges of conspiring to sell an appointment to the United States Senate in what prosecutors called a political corruption crime spree.
The Governor was also accused of demanding kickbacks for to do his job and grant government contracts, lucrative jobs and appointments. It was the Governor’s way or the highway. The problem is that the Governor’s way was a toll road that started in the mid five figures. The man even tried to get certain editors fired from the Chicago Tribune newspaper because of their critical coverage of his administration.
According to United States attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, “The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering […] They allege that Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target, and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”
The seventy six page criminal complaint against the capitalistic Governor included descriptions of recorded conversations in which Mr. Blagojevich complained bitterly that while President-elect Barack Obama’s team had a preferred candidate in mind, no one was willing to give the Governor anything except gratitude. Mr. Blagojevich was recorded saying, “They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck’em!” It was the Governor’s plan to sell the senate seat vacated by Mr. Obama to the highest bidder. Mr. Blagojevich considered taking the seat himself to avoid impeachment by the Illinois legislature to make a potential run for a future presidency. Mr. Blagojevich also considered trading the position for a post in Mr. Obama’s cabinet or a corporate board position for his wife.
Now here’s the kicker. Mr. Blagojevich was released on a forty five hundred dollar bond. His lawyer said the Governor was very surprised and certainly feels that he did not do anything wrong. It’s only business as usual in the state of Illinois. Doesn’t everybody sell political offices for personal gain? Mr. Blagojevich was originally elected as Governor on a promise to reform the culture of corruption surrounding his convicted predecessor, Republican George Ryan. Now that he is in the driver’s seat, Mr. Blagoyevich has no clue where the line lies between blatant corruption and incompetence. That, or the Governor simply meant to change the culture of corruption from Mr. Ryan’s hands to his own and kick it up a notch to show the other political criminals how corruption is really done.
Chicago FBI chief Robert Grant said that even the most seasoned investigators were surprised by what they heard the Governor saying. The blazen behavior of Mr. Blagojevich is particularly surprising since the Governor had known for years that he was under investigation for alleged hiring fraud and, if he had any sense, must have suspected federal agents were watching him.
The Governor’s office declined to comment on the charges or calls for Mr. Blagojevich’s resignation, saying only that the allegations do nothing to impact his services, duties or functions to the state. The man is caught red handed in the cookie jar of politics, selling services to the public as if Illinois was the Kmart of politics and the senate seat was just the blue light special. Any senate appointment by the Governor will be tainted with suspicion of kickbacks or some other kind of exchange for personal profit at public expense. Illinois United States Senator Dick Durbin put it best when he said, “No appointment by this Governor, under these circumstances, could produce a credible replacement.”
Prosecutors quoted Mr. Blagojevich as saying on wiretaps on his home telephone, “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing. I’m not gonna do it.” In that respect, Mr. Blagojevich is correct. He had the public’s trust and such an honor was truly golden. And for his betrayal he’ll get a zillion years behind bars.
And whoever submitted a bid to Mr. Blagojevich for the chance to buy the senate seat needs to be exposed as well. Anybody who is buying a political office in an under the table deal is looking for a personal payoff. The winning bidder would get in office with the intent of recouping their financial investment as a top priority. People need to know who’s willing to buy their political office. Mr. Blagojevich couldn’t do what he does without partners in crime. We need to know who the buyers are and prosecute them as well.
I heard an interesting fact over the radio this morning. I only caught just a brief smidgen of the discussion because I was having a debate with the Ms. on something totally different. By the time I heard what caught my ear the radio conversation was half over. But from what I could surmise the topic of discussion was the raid on the Taj Mahal Hotel and the other attacks that took place in Mumbai, India by a group of highly trained terrorists.
The speaker was comparing the Mumbai attacks to the attacks against the United States on September 11th of 2001. The big question was how do the authorities respond when the people who are holding hostages have no interest in negotiating? How do you negotiate with hijackers when the only thing the hijackers want is to use a Boeing 737 as a super sized SCUD missile? How do you negotiate with people who know and accept the fact that they are on a suicide mission?
Before the events that launched America’s high profile war on terror the game plan was hijackers took over the plane, the plane lands, negotiations were initiated, and the vast majority of people lived to give their television interviews, write their books and make the talk show circuits. It wasn’t until we saw those planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center did we realize the game has changed. With one event the sport of hijacking and bringing the hijackers to justice took the deadliest of turns. In one fell swoop the guy whose job was the negotiator became a target of budget cuts. In this game of high stakes the new player at the table has taken the bluff of negotiation off the table.
The same formula was applied to last week’s deadly events in Mumbai. There was no objective of negotiation. There was no high profile bad guy with a list of demands saying that he will kill one hostage for every fifteen minutes his demands were not met. There was none of the flair of Hollywood. This wasn’t Die Hard Five: Die Hardier. There was only indiscriminate bedlam as gunmen mowed crowds of people down with automatic rifles and a total disassociation from a fellow human. This is where we are headed as a society of people.
And before we start patting ourselves on the back because we are somehow less awful than somebody else somewhere far away, can anybody really explain the difference between a group of gunmen running into a crowd of people shooting everyone in the vicinity and a country of people who use technology to launch stealth missiles from unmanned drones that shoot with pinpoint accuracy at the bad guy attending a wedding and dismisses the collateral damage that comes from killing everyone in the vicinity?
Maybe these gunmen simply decided that they had sufficient evidence to launch a preemptive attack because they felt they had enough evidence that somebody in those crowds represented a clear and present danger to their way of life. Maybe the gunmen felt that they had to take the fight there to Mumbai so they wouldn’t have to fight them in their homeland wherever that may be. That kind of twaddle makes as much sense now as it did the first time we heard it. The Mumbai gunmen seemed to have taken a page out of the United States government’s playbook on how to deal with other people and used whatever resources they had at their disposal to carry it out.
Terrorists no longer take hostages as bargaining chips. Bargaining with the lives of hostages is pretty much a waste of time these days. Hostages are more useful as a statement when all their lives go up in a single senseless act that garners the attention of the world. Having someone’s life spared doesn’t instill fear in people’s hearts. The senseless murder of human life is a much more effective tool to get people to take someone seriously.
And terrorists aren’t the only ones learning from the United States’ example. India feels that there is sufficient evidence to hold Pakistan responsible for the attacks in Mumbai. It appears that the gunmen were trained in Pakistan and launched their attacks from Pakistan. The United States launched a unilateral preemptive war on terror on Iraq with far less reason for conflict. In fact, the war on Iraq had absolutely no real reason for conflict. But now the United States government wants India to practice a little restraint. Don’t do as we do. Think of the greater good instead.
The double standards of our American government is truly thick. We believe we have the moral high ground to kill with total abandon but point fingers at those who kill. We launch global conflicts with nothing more than a desire for revenge and intelligence reports that have the integrity of cheap toilet paper but want others to work towards peace. The reason al Qaeda even exists in the first place is because the United States trained and funded them to fight the Soviet Union. And now, we fight them in other people’s countries so we don’t have to face our retribution here.
And now many Americans assuage our guilty conscience or pique our need for war with the claim that people around the world hate our freedom and we need to come down even harder on people who may not see eye to eye with us. If the windup to the presidential election is any indication, many of us want politically leadership that will continue to act unilaterally with the sole interest of America as a focus. Screw what other people want. And the moment somebody else acts with only their interest as a concern, we’ll wonder how can anybody do such a thing.
Maybe they took a page out of the American playbook and decided to do their own unilateral act of self interest. Maybe they decided to do a preemptive war to keep from being attacked. Maybe they thought they were defending their freedom because others were so jealous. Maybe they see how little we truly value life and decided they can match our lack of compassion. Maybe they simply thought what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The United States government isn’t the only entity that can act with such disregard for anybody else.
Unfortunately, President George Bush, the man we elected to do the job of leading this country is in charge until January of 2009. To hold President-elect Barack Obama responsible for the mess Mr. Bush has made of things is pretty unfair. Mr. Obama himself has said that we only have one President and he needs to do his job. But it won’t stop a lot of people. If the study of human nature proves anything is that people are more than ready to have double standards.