Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HoneST: One in a Million

Two Points For Honesty
Honesty is dead. Well, maybe not dead, just on life support. Truth is debatable, but you'd think we'd get honesty right. Some people are as honest as their financial situation will allow. And if their income is in jeopardy, honesty suffers accordingly. That's one of the reasons, I proffer, why there's so much fanfare, and ballyhoo when honesty finally shows up (because of its rarity), but honesty is not all always welcomed or sought--especially where life and limb is at stake in a no-snitch environment.

In a world where compromise is expected, and a shaving of the facts becomes not only acceptable, but anticipated, and one's moral compass is adjusted to fit the situation, we hold up those few stalwarts who take a stand for the facts, and are willing to put honesty above the screeches of special interest. But not all of us are that frontline courageous, or that devoted to honesty, and the facts, to put these things ahead of money, fame, influence, power, or what have you.

I'm thinking of Olympia Snowe. I'm thinking of Jane Hall, now with CNN after more than a decade with Fox News, and who is one those featured in the video clip below. I'm thinking of the GOP. I'm thinking of Joe Lieberman. And I'm thinking of many, many, others.

Olympia Snowe has to date resisted supporting any Public Option proposal, even one that might feature a trigger.

Snowe gives the impression that she's for insurance reform, when in fact she's more likely to vote to give health insurers more money, and more members, than expand health care for Americans, or force the current health insurance system to be more responsive to the needs of its member. This is dishonest. It serves her interest more than it does the American people. Where there's no competition, free market forces can't drive costs down, and improve the health coverage people are currently receiving from their health insurers. Insurers have for years enjoyed anti-trust exemptions, an exclusion that's now under fire as congress seeks other ways to expand competition in the industry.

This, too, is the purpose of a public option, to provide competition where very little now exists.

In the video, Jane Hall admits that she left Fox News because of some of its excesses, but still supports the controversial news media. Now I wonder why?

Other news networks are rushing to Fox News' defense. Now, I wonder why? Rachel Maddow on MSNBC gives a cogent explanation as to how Fox News blurs the line between being an actual news outlet who supports a point of view and one that promotes a point of view:

She admits that it's probably not illegal to use the public airwaves to promote a political ideology under the guise of a news organization, but news media that do so mustn't be shocked when they're treated as propagandist and provocateurs. The next video, if you haven't seen it, is a must see. It goes a long way toward understanding why I'm angry with Fox News, and why the president's security detail (the secret service) is working twice as hard to keep him safe.

It's this kind of claptrap that probably led to the death of Dr. Tiller at the hands of a crazed killer. No matter how you feel about abortion, killing abortion doctors is not the way to end the practice, provided you think it should be stopped. Yet, Bill O'Reilly occasionally attacked this doctor, and he didn't do it in a fair and balanced way to say the least. Do they ever live up to their motto over there at Fox News? The motto is dishonest, and misleading. I'm not surprised that Dr. Tiller is now dead, when you take into account our current climate of dishonesty, and the media's part in all of this.

For some at Fox News, I'm pretty sure that they're creating this climate of dishonesty, and potential danger for the president, Senator Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, strictly for the money, and not because of conviction. Were it not for greed, who, in their right mind, outside neo-Nazi's and the KKK, and similar groups would create and sponsor a climate that might rip the social fabric of this country. It's dishonesty that colors media discourse, and drives the various attacks against public officials. And as long as this climate is maintained and permitted, it's imperative that Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and those of his ilk are called out for it. People's lives hang in the balance.

The lives of our president and his family hang in the balance. Responsible people on the Left and the Right need to speak out against this assault upon the will of the American people. The last I checked, we're a nation of laws, not an oligarchy, nor ruled by one party, and one party only. We're a democracy. And that should say a lot. Where democracy is truly practiced, it's almost synonymous with freedom.

Joe Lieberman, after taking a million dollars from insurance companies over the years, threatens to give Republicans the filibuster margin they need to kill the public option provision in the health care reform bill. Using a series of ploys over the years, Lieberman continues to serve in congress as a senator, and his electorate continues to support his dishonesty. I'm hoping, this time, he's outfoxed himself by half.

So what is Fox News' crime? In its obsession to hike television ratings (think money and greed), and keep them high, they are endangering elected officials, providing fodder for fringe groups who would like nothing better than to return this country to the good ole days of Jim Crow, and worse, manufacturing news, not satisfied with just reporting it, and establishing and maintaining a climate which pits Americans against Americans, and thriving on the chaos that ensues.

I can assure you of one thing: Many black Americans will never forget how the first black president was treated by the Republican party and some in the media. It's reminiscent of the collective pain felt during the Civil Rights moment, and prior. If the GOP's new web site is an attempt to attract blacks to its party, it failed. More than a snazzy Web site is needed to bring blacks back under the tent. It's going to take honesty, the kind that Matthew Hoh recently exhibited. We'll settle for nothing less.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are We Dreaming Or Is It Real? An American Report Card

More than two-thirds of African-Americans believe Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for race relations has been fulfilled, a CNN poll found -- a figure up sharply from a survey in early 2008.

The CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey was released Monday, a federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader and a day before Barack Obama is to be sworn in as the first black U.S. president.

The poll found 69 percent of blacks said King's vision has been fulfilled in the more than 45 years since his 1963 "I have a dream" speech -- roughly double the 34 percent who agreed with that assessment in a similar poll taken last March.

But whites remain less optimistic, the survey found.

"Whites don't feel the same way -- a majority of them say that the country has not yet fulfilled King's vision," CNN polling director Keating Holland said. However, the number of whites saying the dream has been fulfilled has also gone up since March, from 35 percent to 46 percent.

In the 1963 speech, delivered to a civil rights rally on the Mall in Washington, King said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

"Has that dream been fulfilled? With the election of Barack Obama, two thirds of African-Americans believe it has," CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said."

In light of this poll, I thought I would investigate the dream myself to see how close we've come to making it a general reality. I thought I would take it one dream at a time and do a kind of metric to see just who has it right, white or black, whether we've seen with Obama's ascension to the presidency, a realization of Dr. King's dream.

I won't be using any hard data, but will be relying on my own observations to reach whatever conclusion seems appropriate.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

This is still a mix bag. Some places have extended equal protection under the law to the lesbian-gay community (permitting marriage), while some states have sought to thwart and suppress those efforts.

Although segregation exists in places, we still see too much de facto segregation to truly say that all men, including women are created equal, when women are still trying to get equal pay for equal work. All in all, I would give America a 'C' in it's efforts to realize this dream.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

Given what little I could find on this subject, it appears that some hopeful signs are occurring on the horizon. Although many would concur that some progress has been made regrading this dream, I believe that I can safely assume that this part of Dr. King's dream hasn't been fully realized, so I would give Georgia a 'C+', fully aware that Georgia was a kind of barometer for racial progress during Dr. King's life.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

Well, I don't have to research this dream, because if the state of Mississippi had been "transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice," it would have made the evening news, and we surely would be in the end-times, and, I might add respectfully, with the second coming right around the corner.

Is that cynical enough!

No, Dr. King's dream has not been fully realized in the state of Mississippi, and I give that state an 'F' in terms of realizing Dr. King's dream. Barack Obama did win Mississippi's Primary thanks to the black vote there, but he lost rather sizably in the presidential race, 56.4% for McCain to 42.8% for Obama. Now if anyone has evidence to support a higher grade, meet me after school, and we'll discuss in in my office.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I'll have to go with my gut here, and say that we're beginning to make some progress in realizing Dr. King's dream. The election of Barack Obama as this nation's first sitting president gives me some hope. I think that by and large this is a reality, but I'm only given the nation a 'B-' here, because we haven't seen a full-court press to up this grade beyond the election of President Obama. I want to see a little more progress before I'm willing to say this is a dream realized.

[I wrote this blog entry some months ago, prior to the Town Hall meetings, gun-toting demonstrators, Birthers, and Deathers, and those folks clamoring for a return to the past. You know who they are--the "I want my country back" crowd. Originally I gave this category a "B-" but with recent developments, I can barely manage a "C," but I'm still hopeful.]

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is a dream not only for our nation, but for the world, and although I'm certain that we can give this nation and the world an 'F-' in this dream category, I'm still hopeful that someday--perhaps sooner, that later--we will rejoice at the realization of this dream for this nation and for all mankind.

So I would say that the whites overall have it right. Dr. King's dreams haven't been fully realized. There's still work to do. But I can also understand black folk's euphoria over the election of Barack Obama as this nation's first African American president, and see his election, if not the culmination of Dr. King's dreams, at least the beginning of them, and that's a good thing.

I would welcome your opinions as to whether Dr. King's 'Dream' has been realized, whether you think we're making progress, or believe that we still got a 'long row to hoe,' and a lot of 'water to carry' before we can say in the words of Dr. King:

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And Dr. King saw progress by the metric of freedom, for he knew where freedom was allowed to thrive, progress would follow. Where freedom was allowed to flourish, our differences wouldn't be as pronounced as those things that bound us together. He saw freedom as the grand leveler, the grand uniter, which this country had to embrace, if it wished to remain great and become even greater.

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Sick Puppies"

Sick PuppiesIt's often been noted how much whites love their pets, dogs in particular. I love dogs, but, like kids, I love them from a distance. I don't care for the daily walks so that they may relieve themselves while I walk behind with pooper-scooper in the ready, nor the daily grind of rearing kids that would challenge a Supernanny.

Just because whites love their dogs, doesn't mean that all uses of the word "dog" is flattering. There are some phrases that make you wonder just how much people love their dogs:

"Shoot him dead in the street like the dirty, low-down, dog he is," from a possible Western movie, to "She's a dog," when you wish to speak derogatorily of a woman's lack of feminine pulchritude.

So when you hear that Bush 41 refers to Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann as "sick puppies," as he responds to a question about media civility, or lack thereof, you've got to wonder if he got his cable channels straight, and really had Fox News in mind. Compared to Fox News' Glenn Beck, and Hannity, Countdown with Keith Olbermann and the Rachel Maddow Show are pussy cats, not puppies, next to the big dogs, the dobermans of Fox News.

At no time have their shows come close to spewing the vituperative venom against his son that spews from Fox's best when it comes to the denigration of liberals, and the besmirching of the president. Nothing the two MSNBC commentators have said over the years remotely justifies his attack, but we know President Obama has been called a "racist" by Beck, and is daily the object of Fox's derision and scorn.

Both Olbermann and Maddow responded to the ex-president. They did it with humor, a measure of stupefaction, and sincerity. Watch....

It all started out well, with an invitation to President Obama from Bush senior to the Bush Library and Texas A&M. In an open letter to the Aggie Family, Bush senior wrote the following:

To My Fellow Members of the Texas A&M Family:

Howdy! As you have probably heard, I have invited the 44th President of the United States of America to come visit the Bush Library and Texas A&M, and President Obama has graciously accepted.

Along with the administration, faculty, and so many of you, I am honored that The President, our President, is taking the time and making the effort to come to College Station on October 16th to talk about an issue that unites all Americans — namely, community service and its vast importance to our continued well-being as a Nation. Our country still faces many tough challenges, and the message that will come out of our Presidential Forum on Service, I hope, is that every American regardless of age has an important part to play in helping us overcome the obstacles to our common progress.

This is not about politics. This is about the importance of service to our communities and our country."
Read more here.

What prompted the letter was how Barack Obama was received on a previous visit by some in the student body. The letter asked for civility. So it was strange that Bush 41 chose to use the occasion to be uncivil to Olbermann and Maddow.

Now I have to give George H.W. Bush his props. He did attack the GOP for attacking President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor:

"Former President George H.W. Bush stood up for his former judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor Friday, telling CNN Anchor Robin Meade that GOP critics who called President Obama's Supreme Court pick a racist were off-base, and unfair.

'I don't know her that well but I think she's had a distinguished record on the bench and she should be entitled to fair hearings. Not - [it's] like the senator John Cornyn said it,' he told CNN. 'He may vote for it, he may not. But he's been backing away from these...backing off from those radical statements to describe her, to attribute things to her that may or may not be true.'"
Read more here.

And he had some pretty nice things to say about President Obama:

"Former President George H.W. Bush told CBS News that President Obama 'is entitled to civil treatment and intellectual honesty when it comes to critics.'"

Now some of this may be to soften President Obama's willingness to bring his son up on war crimes, and hold him judicially responsible for other possible unconstitutional acts, and to give others in his son's administration, such as Vice-President Cheney, a pass, and not prosecute for crimes he may have committed as he pursued a shadow government, and a proxy presidency.

It is written: "An attack is a cry for help." This unwarranted attack against two of MSNBC premier commentators can be described as such. I understand that Bush the elder wishes to protect his son, and his legacy, from adverse criticism, but I've never observed these two MSNBC pundits trading in lies and deceit. They pretty much document their positions, and often correct the so-called factual positions of their rivals, and are quick to own up, if they get it wrong.

Clearly Bush the elder wishes more for his son than his son's record warrants, and would that all people in the media accept his son's presidential policy decisions as unimpeachable. That's what fathers hope for, but that's unrealistic: his son did some God awful things while president, attacking a country that didn't attack us first, and waging a war against al-Qaeda in Iraq, when they were miles away in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

No, George H.W. Bush, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann aren't the "sick puppies," your son, George Bush, and the people he surrounded himself with, are the "sick puppies."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Man of Steel(e) v. (O)bambi

Man of Steel(e) v. (O)bambi)In a street brawl, I'd give Michael Steele a slight edge over Obama. In the arena of ideas and style, not so much. We all know the cynicism that went into the selection of Michael Steele as head of the RNC.

Republicans needed an attack dog that was of the same color and ethnicity of their closest Nemesis, Barack Obama.

At the time of Steele's selection, Republicans believed that Steele could deflect criticism of racism when our beloved president was attacked. And, as an added bonus, he might be able to enlarge the party with one of its most elusive prospects--black voters.

But with a change of strategy--attack Obama, attack him often, and attack him on everything--Michael Steele's value to the party took a hit. The party no longer needed a hitman. Everyone was elevated to that status.

He went from Michael Steele, "You be the man," to Michael, "We no longer feel you." The Man of Steele is now beginning to feel the heat and that heat is threatening to smelt his short career as head of the RNC, and possibly dash his political hopes altogether.

We have all seen the posts that decry President Obama's supposed weakness. He's soft on terrorists. He's nothing more than an "empty suit" (and this from certain blacks). He's doesn't fight back. He's a push over. He's weak domestically and internationally. He's not respected by world leaders, his own generals, and the opposition party. They delight in tearing him down, and reveling in his failures.

MSNBC is showing a video of gleeful Americans for Prosperity folks cheering and high-fiving each other after learning that Chicago failed in its Olympic bid to host the 2014 Olympics in the first round. What we saw were Americans rooting against America, and seeing no contradiction. It's becoming fashionable to oppose the president, root for his failure and cheer when he loses. If you didn't see this lunacy, it's a must see:

His loss is America's loss, not just Chicago's loss. After this blatant exhibition of anti-Americanism, how can these Americans for Prosperity folks face their family, their neighbors, or consent to being captured on film in such an uncompromising position. They're like drunks pissing in public, figuring the relief was worth the exposure.

And we've all seen Steele's toughness, and he, too, doesn't mind exposing it for all the world to see. The following video is from a Town Hall meeting at Howard University where the topic of health care reform came up.

In this video we get to see just how tough and ruthless Steele can be. We see his lack of empathy. He relished the opportunity to use his verbal prowess to smack down one of the attendees in response to a question she asked.

Watch a young man ushered out by a hefty security guard during Martin Luther King, Jr., National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Chicago, March 25, 1966, for simply interrupting Steele.

Did Steele signal the young man's ejection, or was it prearranged? Either way, Steele could have spoken up and permitted the young man to stay to hear the remainder of his self-serving answer.

In contrast to Steele, we have the more presidential Barack Obama. Weathering the criticism of the liberal public during the presidential race that he should hit back, return fire for fire when McCain-Palin, and their surrogates mounted all-out attacks against him in a no holds barred fistfest, he chose to remain on course, and, for that, earned the nickname "No-Drama Obama."

His opponents dubbed him "Obami" to ridicule his lack of fire in the belly when it came to defusing controversy, and standing up to his critics and enemies. We should note: Obama beat out the team of McCain-Palin rather handily, despite his style, and unwillingness to fight as they fought--down and dirty.

And if I were to choose styles, Steele's rough and ready, shoot from the hip, or shoot and ask questions later, approach, or President Obama's steady, unflappable, but well-thought-out approach, I'd choose Obama's without regret, whether he manages to see his political agenda fully realized, or all his campaign promises fulfilled.

Recently, Steele has been muzzled, forbidden to make policy for the party. He had turned rogue, taking a page from Sarah Palin's book, but he's no Sarah Palin, whose newly written book (with the help of a ghost writer [Strike while the iron's hot!]) has risen to bestseller status long before being published. Until Steel can command that kind of star quality, it's best he leaves "going rogue" to her.

It's not always what we achieve but how we achieve it (cheat on a test or study for it). It's what we don't lose in the process (our eternal soul), but what we gain (self respect, and the ability to sleep nights). Some things are too priceless to lose. Other things come with too high a price.

Each day we're defining who we are. We do this with the decisions we make, and what we choose when faced with dilemmas. And many times--other than our own conscience--no one stands between us and our choices and decisions. There's no angel on one shoulder, and a devil on the other, competing for our attention. And although we might seek the help of others, we are, when all is said and done, responsible for our own choices and our own decisions, as we are the primary beneficiary of them.

This business of choosing and deciding is so critical to our growth and development as souls on this plane, that it behooves us to make up our mind in advance, so that we won't be tempted in the moment, by the moment, to decide and choose in a manner that's not in our best interest and the interest of others.

Choose and decide, then, ahead of time, and you'll never face another quandary, nor be stymied by another dilemma.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Nobellicose Prize

Congratulations! You just won the Nobel Prize. Congratulations! You just lost the Nobel Prize.
"No prophet is accepted in his own country." This statement is applicable to prophets and black presidents. In the case of a certain black president, Barack Obama, not all countrymen, but enough to raise eyebrows, and curl lips.

We saw the truth of the statement within days of the president taking office. A certain radio personality put him, black folks, and the rest of world on notice with these words: "I hope he fails."

We're now so hardened that we're no longer shocked when ugly people say ugly things about the president. So when the Nobel Prize Committee gave its most prestigious award, the Nobel Peace Prize to a sitting U.S. president after ninety years, Woodrow Wilson being the last for his support of the League of Nations and his work on the Treaty of Versailles, we waited for the other shoe to fall, knowing that criticism from the Right wasn't far behind.

What caught us off guard was the harsh words on the Left.

We knew Republicans would line up to denounce the Nobel Prize committee for their choice. But we didn't expect liberals to slam the committee in language as harsh as their conservative counterparts: "Don't they see what's going on in the U.S.--high unemployment, an economy stumbling like some drunk searching for his next bottle." You'd think that, as long as our nation is seen as struggling, the president can't be singled out for any award except the "Golden Raspberry Award."

This blog has a few awards of its own to hand out--the Nobellicose Prize--for those Republicans who spoke out the loudest, with malice aforethought, because President Obama was favored this year by the Nobel Prize Committee.

The Nobellicose Prize, then, goes to three honorees: Michael Steele, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, for their continued non-support of President Barack Obama. There are runner-ups, to be sure, but they're too numerous to mention here, but you know who they are. This time, I only wish to honor (strike that, dishonor) three of Obama's biggest admirers (strike that, haters).

Michael Steele earned his award with these cutting words, stating first that President Obama should for the sake of his own integrity refuse the award:

“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’ It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain – President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”

And these gems, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh, making himself one of the three finalists for the coveted Nobellicose Prize:

"And the two girls came in, "Hey, Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize. It's really cool. It's a three-day weekend, Daddy. Let's get up and let's go."

"And Obama said, "Yeah, it's great to have kids to help you keep things in perspective." I'm on the verge of retching right there. Then Obama gets to the meat of the matter says he doesn't deserve the award. So Obama... (laughing) I mean, he's agreeing with the Taliban and us, because we don't think he deserves the award, neither does the Taliban! The Iranians are upset. (laughing) Al-Qaeda hadn't weighed in yet, Osama bin Laden, but there should be a tape before the weekend is out."

But that's not all, our last honoree, Glenn Beck, spoke these words to earn the Nobellicose Prize:

"The Nobel peace prize should be turned down by Barack Obama and should be given to the tea party goers and the 9/12 project....Because of the tea party goers and the 912 project people that stood in his way and stopped him from accomplishing from the things that he thought, 'Please I'm the messiah, I'll be able to accomplish that.'"

For Republicans clearly this president is not their president, and this country, under this president, is not their country. "We want our country back," they cry.

And when it comes to peace: The Republicans want us to fight our way to peace, not talk our way to peace--blind to the contradiction that this poses.

After listening to, or watching these wingnuts, I know now why it was necessary to fight a civil war in this country, and why Jim Crow lasted so long. There's a certain number of whites who will resist black progress, and, in the process, resist white progress towards filling in the racial divide. These whites gain more by resisting, than by cooperating; by holding back, than moving ahead; by increasing racial tension, than by relaxing it.

The Nobel Peace Prize could be seen as a finger in the eye of Republicans in this country who spend their days tarring and feathering President Obama.

I've read several articles justifying the Nobel Committee's decision to select President Obama as this year's recipient of The Nobel Peace Prize. Their reasons compel a reassessment of his achievements, but perhaps not as well as the following video segment from Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC:

Achievements take on many colors and aren't always seen in our existential world of actions versus ideas, construction versus idealism, and material efforts versus a change of heart, humane aspirations, and noble pursuits.

And it belies the oft-repeated grumbling that people abroad see our president as some kind of lamb, one that's afraid of his own shadow. It's not about timidity in international policy, but the use of "smart power" which I've discussed before in one of my blog entries by that name.

The world's people don't want a bellicose America, one that lead international diplomacy with a heavy hand, and a fighting stance, but one that's willing to talk with enemies and seek common ground where possible.

Some days, the callous, racialistic events in this country transport me back to the forties and fifties and a "Colored Only" existence, justifying the anger and, yes, rage, I occasionally feel toward this country.

Isn't it ironic: the country that gave us a black president is working just as hard to take him away. It's this dichotomy, this white schizophrenia with which blacks must live that impacts our own sanity.

How do we keep our head, so to speak, while all those around us are losing theirs. And yet, I know how the story will end. We wrote the ending first ... before the story began. It's done that way sometime, when you wish to be certain of the outcome, because, if you don't, a story can get away from you, and create its own ending.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


ConservaZombiesFor years, zombie movies have been a staple of Hollywood. They're popping up now like mushrooms on the bottom of cave floors.

They're rightly classified as horror flicks, but "some cross over into other genres, such as comedy, science fiction, thriller, or romance, even animated films. There have even been developments in zombie-specific sub-genres, such as the "zombie comedy" or the "zombie apocalypse".

What are zombies? "Zombies are mythical creatures usually portrayed as either a reanimated corpse or a mindless human being."

My interest in them here is simple: What if Republicans had the power to turn us all into Conservative Zombies (mindless adherents to conservative principles and ideology), using some heretofore unknown transformational powder (a mixture of chemicals kept more secret than Colonel Sanders' secret blend of herbs and spices) while we're still living, rather than waiting for us to die.

Would they do it? My guess is yes. For one, it would make the world safe for conservatism, and Republican idealism.

Republicans wouldn't have to contend with a black man ever again becoming the president of the United States, and, if he did, he would be liberal-proof, one hundred percent conservative.

They wouldn't have to spend hours at Town Hall meetings shouting down liberal speakers from that accursed Democratic Party with their insane goals of reforming health care.

They wouldn't have to stock up on extra guns, and create a bullet shortage, because there would be no fear that guns would be regulated or taken away. Just think of it: A shortage of bullets.

They wouldn't have to march on Washington with idiotic signs, similar to others we've seen calling the president a socialist, a Marxist, and a racist.

They wouldn't have to be always against things. For a change, they could be for things. They wouldn't be known ever again as the Do-Nothing Party. They still may do nothing, but no one would speak of it. ConservaZombies don't speak all that much: they mostly grunt assent.

And, as an added bonus, Republicans could do away with all those liberal or quasi-liberal cable news channels such as MSNBC and CNN. ConservaZombies wouldn't watch them anyway, not with Fox News around. Fox News would become the official news channel of ConservaZombies.

Republicans could do away with liberal talk shows, since Rush Limbaugh and Hannity would monopolize the airwaves. ConservaZombies need only one word in their already limited vocabulary, "ditto".

And Republicans could do away with liberal magazines, because the Weekly Standard, the National Review, and other conservative magazines would rub shoulder to shoulder at newsstands. But not for long, ConservaZombies are known to fight over them, and it's hard to distinguish the chaos from a white sale.

And who would need an American Flag, when a Conservative Flag, menacing, uncompromising, and dripping with historical hubris, would do the trick.

Or a flag to say allegiance to when you have Gene, the Flag Man. And the new conservative pledge of allegiance might look a little like this one. ConservaZombies like nothing more than wearing or draping themselves in the flag.

ConservaMania would infiltrate the church. Liberal religious institutions would be defunct, as well as liberal ministers. Already, this new brand of conservative ministers is cropping up.

And a new Conservative Bible would be commissioned. Already the groundwork is in place:

" The Conservative Bible Project is the brainchild of attorney and teacher Andy Schlafly, a son of conservative standard-bearer Phyllis Schlafly. His Bible-related Wiki, which allows contributors to post information, comment on others' and suggest tweaks or fixes, went up this summer.

"The project quickly drew fire.

"'These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture?" So asked Rod Dreher, a conservative blogger for Beliefnet. "They really think it's wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism?'

"Schlafly said he aims to counteract modern translations, not edit the Bible.
'I think liberal bias was less of a problem in older translations,' he said. 'It's refreshing to read anything that is free of liberal bias, and the Bible is the most well-read book in the world, so that should be the first thing to clean up.'"

My advice to liberals and progressives: Don't drink Budweiser. And stay away from Chili, and Shrimp and grits. And surely avoid the Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in Chicago. And arugula is definitely out of the question. That restaurant and those foods I've identified are particularly targeted by Conservatives. They would like nothing more than to sprinkle your food with vast amounts of Zombie Powder.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Sometimes I feel like I'll never catch up. When I think I'm making progress, I'm presented with yet another challenge. This time it's "fusion." No it's not a Ford by the same name, nor the musical genre as in Jazz fusion, nor Glenn Beck's magazine (although aptly named) "Fusion," it's something called "fusion centers."

What are fusion centers? Fusion centers had their birth shortly after the largest terrorist attack on American soil took place on 9/11/2001. They were designed as a way to share information, to connect dots crucial to our national security, and to address one of the weaknesses that the attack brought to light: the lack of multi-agency sharing of critical intelligence.

There's been some out cry on the right and on the left regarding these centers, and the only reason wingnuts on the right haven't used fusion centers with which to attack President Obama is that they mostly agree with their mission.

Although they have an innocuous sounding mission, some believe that the government is exceeding the purpose for which these centers were founded. According to Wikipedia:

"A Fusion Center is a terrorism prevention and response center that was started as a joint project between the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs between 2003 and 2007.

"The fusion centers gather information not only from government sources, but also from their partners in the private sector.[1][2]

"They are designed to promote information sharing at the federal level between agencies such as the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice, US Military and state and local level government. As of July 2009, the Department of Homeland Security recognizes at least seventy-two fusion centers.[3] Fusion centers may also be affiliated with an Emergency Operations Center that responds in the event of a disaster."

Think of it: 72 centers and climbing. I'm beginning to worry that our country is starting to look a great deal like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, where close tabs were kept on dissidents and regular folks.

Already excesses are being identified, where information is being gathered on folks simply because they oppose government policies in some fashion, and have no subversive ambitions.

"Though they [fusion centers] developed independently and remain quite different from one another, for many the scope of their mission has quickly expanded--with the support and encouragement of the federal government--to cover 'all crimes and all hazards.' The types of information they seek for analysis has also broadened over time to include not just criminal intelligence, but public and private sector data, and participation in these centers has grown to include not just law enforcement, but other government entities, the military and even select members of the private sector."

I and another blogger have had similar experiences: what appeared to be snapshots of our computer screen. To be sure there's software to conduct these kind of surveillance. Here's a couple: Find one here, and another here. Designed for companies that wish to track the online behavior of employees, and for parents who wish to track their kids' Internet activities, the government may be using them to collect data on ordinary citizens--for one nefarious reason or another.

What's to prevent the government from using similar, and more sophisticated software to spy on those Americans they suspect, whether they have anti-government sentiments, or not?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Planned GOPsolescence

The year is 1875 and you're a horsewhip maker, and you're hearing rumors that something is being developed that could put you out of business, or impact it greatly if you didn't adapt. That rumor, if you believed it, could throw you into panic, couldn't it?

Now move ahead several decades, and turn the corner into the twenty-first century, and you have a similar situation, but it's not horsewhip makers panicking, but a political party. It's the year 2004 and you're hearing about this scrawny senator from Chicago, with a funny name, who may have presidential ambitions, and who, as keynote speaker at that year's Democratic National convention, has brought the crowd to its feet admist thunderous applause, and if you're Republican and a presidential hopeful, or just a Republican hoping to replace Bush with another Republican, your heart may flutter a bit.

And then you learn that the speaker is also black. If you're a Republican you may not panic right away, but you sure as hell want to keep a close eye on what could possibly be a dark horse: You may have thought to search for that outdated buggy whip you've been holding onto for such an occasion.

And if you heard any part of that black man's speech that night to the Democratic National Convention, you still may not panic, but a tinge of worry would certainly leave foot prints across the surface of your mind, as he spoke the following:

"Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us--the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of "anything goes." Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America-- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America--there’s the United States of America."

And you may not have panicked when Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee claimed huge wins in Iowa, with Obama edging out Hillary Clinton, garnering 38 percent of voters. You may not have panicked, but worry lines would be seen forming across your weary brow, as Huckabee took in a respectable 34 percent of the voters, but was still four percentage points below the Democratic front runner. And you'd note: The press saw Obama's victory as a win for change over experience. And still you'd see no cause to panic.

If you didn't panic when Obama won Iowa, worry lines would certainly began to deepen when he defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in a heated contest to represent the Democrat Party against rival John McCain, who made a surprise, come-from-behind showing to become the Republican Party nominee.

If you managed to keep your composure up to now, you noticed that GOPers were beginning to show the first signs of panic at McCain-Palin rallies, when cries of "terrorist," and "kill him," in reference to then Democrat candidate Barack Obama punctuated rally speeches. You would also notice: The signs of panic became full-blown terror when posters of Obama flanked by Osama bin Laden, Curious George dolls, and boxes of "Obama Waffles" for sale, and racist e-mails began to surface.

You think: If this scrawny black guy with the funny name (which GOPers abundantly made fun of) actually do the unthinkable, win the presidency, with his laundry list of social programs, then the GOPers had more to worry about than a black man in the White House.

Their very existence was at stake.

If Obama succeeds, then conservatism fails. People would come to see the benefits and advantages of liberalism, especially if that dreaded healthcare reform law, with that "public option" is allowed to pass. If Obama does what he promises, then liberalism will be preferred to conservatism--and where would that leave Republicans. Liberalism had to be stopped at all cost. Its success would spell the death of the Republican party, and conservatism will have met its Waterloo.

Republicans would have to bring out the big guns, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and concerted Republican resistance to any and all things Obama attempts. They all had a stake in destroying Obama, and the party he represented. With liberalism on top, succeeding where conservatism failed, then the Republican Party would be obsolete.

Then you'd know the awful truth: Obama must be stopped. Must be stopped at all cost. And you'd tell fellow GOPers why he must be stopped:

For one, Obama would usher in a post-racial age, narrowing the racial divide. No longer could race be exploited, and white voters be counted on to vote for the white guy in local and national elections. Something had to be done. GOPers's strategy: keep reminding all voters, Democrats as well as Republicans, of Obama's race, of his African-Americaness. Draw him into a debate on race, thinking that would surely alienate white voters. Tell whites that his health-care plan was little more than a black give away, a reparation for blacks. And when everything else failed, attach his blackness to his policies.

Call blacks racists, including the president, himself. Talk secession. Talk "taking the country back." Talk civil war and arming militias.

For two, Obama would usher in liberalism-socialism. Take Obama's message of "change," and distort it. Tell Americans that he's moving to fast, seeking wholesale change, where incremental change is all that's needed. Tell them that he's a socialist, and that socialism is bad, and that capitalism and the free market made America strong (although greed, and a lack of regulatory restraints on financial institutions had plunged the nation into a recession that threatened to become a depression).

For three, an Obama presidency would end the careers of talk show hosts, Rush Limbaugh and a number of other Republican and conservative pundits that make a pretty damn good living exploiting every thing from race to religion, from pitting one party against the other to putting loud, and disruptive plants at town hall meetings, to replacing actual turf (grassroots movements) with "AstroTurf" movements paid for by affected corporations and institutions.

For four, it would spell the death of Fox News. Fox has "made its bones" on holding liberals at bay, supporting George Bush's policies, his war in Iraq, attacking Cindy Sheehan on every occasion, and Dr. Tiller, "the baby killer." If liberalism succeeds, if the people are actually shown to benefit, then Fox News would have no natural adversaries, no cause, nothing, and no one to fight, no standard to bear, nothing to do but fold up its tent and steal away into the night, as ratings drop, in a desperate effort to reformat programs, and restructure how it delivers news-propaganda.

You'd remind them: If the GOP becomes obsolete, those who depend on it for their own survival, will also become obselete: Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and a host of conservative poltical strategists and pundits. Their livilihood and fortune depended on Obama failing. They know this, and early on, they announced their intentions to destroy him politically.

You'd remind them: Medicare has been such a success, that any government run program that emulates it, and expands it, must be attacked. The GOP can't give the Democratics this poltical edge, and neither can Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and those of his ilk.

You'd remind them: Survival at all cost. There's still some use for whips, but not as much as before the twentieth century. If President Obama and liberals succeed in reforming health care, actually finding ways to increase competition, and dramatically cutting the cost of healthcare for Americans, the GOP may not be, in this century, as useful as whips.