Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Defacing of an American President

The Defacing of an American President.There's more than one way to deface the image of a president. It can be done with spray paint, with words, and thorough the use of an assortment of negative images.

It's not enough to do it once. To have a lasting impact, it's important that it's done, over time, again and again--the way that time, rain, and wind, together, can wear down almost any structure that stands in their way.

For our president, that wearing-down, destructive force of time, rain, and wind, has come in the form of the Tea Party Movement. Recently an organization has come to the president's defense--one other than MSNBC, and liberal radio personalities. In an uncharacteristic move, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), apparently fed up with the Tea Party's racist assaults upon this nation's first black president, has backed a resolution to "curb its enthusiasm:"

Tea Party members have used "racial epithets," have verbally abused black members of Congress and threatened them, and protesters have engaged in "explicitly racist behavior" and "displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically," according to the proposed resolution.

"We're deeply concerned about elements that are trying to move the country back, trying to reverse progress that we've made," NAACP spokeswoman Leila McDowell told ABC News. "We are asking that the law-abiding members of the Tea Party repudiate those racist elements, that they recognize the historic and present racist elements that are within the Tea Party movement."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in coordination with 170 other groups, including labor unions, is planning a protest march in Washington, D.C., Oct. 2 as the next step in building momentum against the Tea Party.

The "One Nation" march is designed as an antithesis to the Tea Party, and it's about "pulling America together and back to work," McDowell said.
More here

Now that the resolution has been adopted by those attending the NAACP's annual convention, it was not surprising that the Tea Party leadership, and other supporters, Fox News for one (no surprises there), are condemning the NAACP for their stance, and for calling for the Tea Party to repudiate those racist elements in its midst.

I applaud the NAACP for the resolution. Other groups should follow its example, and insist that the Tea Party distance itself from this kind of racist behavior by calling it out, and condemning it.

But that won't be happening, and here is why:

The wave of public acclaim that swept Obama into the White House had to be met with a force equal to, or greater than, lest he and Democrats for the next five national elections continue to ride high in the hearts and minds of the American people.

This offense to the Republican party, and conservatism, could not stand, and would not stand.

Liberalism was a bigger threat to the sanctity of the American Way, the Holy Grail of the U.S. Constitution, and the honored memory of our Sainted Forefathers who fashioned this document to govern the affairs of men--than al-Qaeda, the Iranians and their persistent effort to enrich uranium to build nuclear bombs with which to destroy us and Israel.

This threat wasn't lost on Rush Limbaugh. His was the first shot across the bow of Obama's freshly formed "regime," which was soon picked up in sundry incarnations:

"I want him to fail."

Sensing that the Republican party had played too nicey-nicey, allowing the liberal (now socialist) takeover of the presidency and the congress, the Tea Party Movement (more edgy, and more conservative than the mainstream) was given birth.

They in the movement had one goal: Topple Obama.

If he was seen as an icon (Shatter his image!). If he was a unifier (Brand him a racist!). If he galvanized a crowd with words alone (Call him the anti-Christ!).

For months now the destruction of a president and his party has been well under way, the assaults occurring daily--here a little, and there a little, a chipping here and a whittling there.

And the method has been sinister, a Machiavellian plot that Machiavelli himself would have endorsed, and would have been proud to call his own.

The opposition party resorted to several tactics, using a stratagem that would be the envy of Tricky Dick, were he alive, and will, over time, be inducted into the Hall of Fame of Dirty Tricks

The method was simplicity itself: The Tea Party Goers would, until the next national election, put all their collective energies toward the following: the radicalization, the Islamization, the socialismization, the Hitlerization, the blackenization, the racialization, the foreignization*, of Obama.

It didn't matter that, by associating Obama with Hitler and the holocaust, that it marginalized both--the horror that emerged as concentration camps, and the mass extermination of Jews, and the evil that was Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Predictions have it, from the White House Press Secretary himself, Robert Gibbs, that the Fall elections could result in a hand over of the keys to the U.S. House of Representatives to Republicans.

Although I, for one, am not certain of the outcome of the election for the House or the Senate come this Fall, I have never underestimated the power of bad press, and its destructive potential, especially when those who would wield it, wield it unscrupulously, and with deadly intentions.

A late but timely revision to this blog entry, thanks to "Blinders Off". If you watch only one You Tube video this week, this is it: "What if the Tea Party was Black"? Who says our young people aren't paying attention.

*Some words created just for this blog entry.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Luck Strike Means Find TobaccoSome of our nation's young people still act as though it will take immeasurably longer for their brain's development to catch up with their over-all physical development, than others in their peer group.

It's as though we have spoiled six-year olds inhabiting adult bodies, but, unlike six-year olds who're physically limited, these mental juveniles can plan, organize, and otherwise use their adult cunning to challenge cops, damage and destroy public and private property--all the while giving the proverbial finger to parents, whom, I trust, would disapprove of this type of behavior, and a protruding tongue to the quality of their rearing, or lack thereof.

Having reached the limits of their prodigious patience, some cities are preparing to fight back:

PHILADELPHIA — It started innocently enough seven years ago as an act of performance art where people linked through social-networking Web sites and text messaging suddenly gathered on the streets for impromptu pillow fights in New York, group disco routines in London, and even a huge snowball fight in Washington.

Flash MobBut these so-called flash mobs have taken a more aggressive and raucous turn here as hundreds of teenagers have been converging downtown for a ritual that is part bullying, part running of the bulls: sprinting down the block, the teenagers sometimes pause to brawl with one another, assault pedestrians or vandalize property.

On Wednesday, the police here said that they had had enough. They announced plans to step up enforcement of a curfew already on the books, and to tighten it if there is another incident.

They added that they planned to hold parents legally responsible for their children’s actions. They are also considering making free transit passes for students invalid after 4 p.m., instead of 7 p.m., to limit teenagers’ ability to ride downtown.

Lucky Strike, now more often referred to as "Luckies," introduced a message on its cigarette packs in 1917.

It was: L.S.M.F.T. (Luck Strike Means Fine Tobacco).

Now what does all this, a brand of cigarettes, "Luckies," have to do with the topic at hand. Well, not much.

Just this: A book I read years ago said that Lucky Strike's popular message could be used as a mnemonic device to remember something more important than a cigarette message; the initials of the message representing something infinitely more valuable--a key to understanding human behavior, and a reminder of a methodology that would allow one to respond in a way that could defuse a human interaction gone awry.

It is this: Low Self-esteem Means Friction and Trouble (L.S.M.F.T).

This little bit of knowledge has served me well over the years, and have extricated me from some rather sticky situations that could have spiraled out of control, but for it.

For all the laboriously slow methods available to us to win fame and success (college, starting a business), we seem to be living now in an era of instant gratification. And, too, quite aptly, we have been called the "throw away society," and that, too, may also be true. We, as a society, it seems, don't value anything as much as we used to.

Now we want things quickly without resorting to the tried and true methods of the past--hard work, elbow grease, true grit, or moxie.

For better or for worse, we're living during a time, thanks to the Internet, and a twenty-four hour news cycle, and cameras and cellphones everywhere, as ubiquitous as portable transistor radios used to be, where the average Joe or Jane can now become a celebrity over night.

Consider the 'Barefoot bandit' with a cult following on Facebook of around 60,000 fans, and a reputation rivaling that of Bonnie and Clyde, and the sudden success and fame of a homeless man caught on camera folding an American flag, military style, that had come unmoored from it's mooring during a storm.

Now captured in the Bahamas, there's talk of the existence of a possible movie deal for the "Barefoot bandit," and most likely a book deal, as well, and that the homeless man is receiving job offers, and other outpouring of largesse from grateful strangers around our usually jaded nation that were moved by his uncommon display of patriotism.

Reality T.V. shows, often featuring the common man and common woman, who, in past years, would have been dubbed "Everyman," can now garner a following to equal that of movie stars.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 is one of those shows, that, at its peak, attracted as many as 9.8 million viewers.

With all this allurement of instant fame and monetary success just a video away, or a Reality T.V. show away, or a foolish stunt away, or an eluding of the cops away--who needs to work hard, study hard, and sacrifice time, and energy to bring one's self-esteem up, and launch it into the stratosphere of public acclaim, and monetary rewards.

Instead, all that is now needed is luck, a gimmick, and a good agent.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Spies Among UsOur latest spy caper, now all the rave--comprised of ten Russian citizens--is not your usual cloak and dagger escapade.

It's certainly all of these--invisible ink, secret code words, fake names--and it's also this: quiet family time in the burb, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and other concessions to American culture to allow these Russian spies to blend in. One person has described one husband-wife team as a "nice couple."

That's us: "Nice."

"'They’re such a nice couple,' Susan Coke, a real estate agent who sold a home in Montclair, N.J. to two of the suspects — who called themselves Richard and Cynthia Murphy — told The New Jersey Star-Ledger. 'I just hope the FBI got it wrong.'

"Prosecutors say that for the past decade the alleged Russian spies, while passing as everyday people in suburbia and elsewhere, engaged in secret global travel with false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink and encrypted radio messages."
More here.

What does these arrests on espionage charges say about governments' ability to forge understandings--treaties, and other international agreements--when they don't trust each other?

And if governments don't trust each other, what does that say to a people who place their trust in governments so that they may have their common defense, and their common welfare secured?

I say: Take your lead from governments around the world. These governments are actively engaged in knowing what the other is about using surreptitious means, if necessary, to do so.

We don't have to go that far, however, but it behooves a people to use whatever democratic means that are at their disposal to maintain those checks and balances to which the founding fathers were so partial.

And staying informed--our becoming a knowledgeable electorate--should be an indispensable part of holding governments accountable. If the Russian government is willing to go to such great pain, to such amazing lengths, as to insert spies in our midst to stay informed about our government's intentions, and to gather sensitive information, how much more us, the people, the one's who'll suffer the most for government's missteps.

Wikileaks is one of those organizations that is on the frontline of that information gathering, and a young Army private, one Bradley Manning, faces "an Article 32 Hearing, which is similar to a grand jury" because of an alleged leak to Wikileaks which it promptly brought before the American people.

The U.S. has formally pressed criminal charges against Army Private Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking secret military files to Wikileaks, including the hugely controversial video of U.S. helicopters killing civilians in Iraq. Manning faces several charges, including espionage, that could carry a sentence of up to 52 years in prison. These charges, however, raise more than they resolve about the complicated case. Here's what we still don't know.

Private Manning charged with disclosing iraq-slaughter video. Trigger happy Apache crew remain uncharged.
More here.

How far the people should be willing to go to gather information on government activities, and coverups, will always be debatable, but what is not debatable is the role of the people: We the people should be the final arbiters, the ultimate checks and balances to counter the potential tyranny that's always inherent in power, and within the confines of government, because of the power that it wields in our names.

Be certain of one thing: Government will not always work in the best interest of the people it claims to serve. It will always exercise power that's not in the interest of the people--from illegal wiretaps, to a financial reform bill that still leaves the country exposed to rapacious Wall Street bankers, to a laxity of regulatory policing of Big Oil (to name a few), who will still seek to drill in environmentally sensitive areas, without appropriate safeguards, or the means to respond responsibly, and adequately, to catastrophes when they occur.

And they will surely occur.

Just as other countries spend millions watching what other governments are doing that may be inimical to their welfare, it behooves us to do the same with equal enthusiasm.

The news media is often seen as the fourth branch of government, but there's a fifth branch that's often overlooked, and--for all its usual diminished positioning--is the most important when it comes to buttressing our democratic superstructure: the American people.

As citizens of this country we have a duty to perform--a duty that's more important than the duty of government. That duty is to be vigilant. That duty is to insist that government works on behalf of the people, and not just on behalf of other societal entities, whether they're corporate special interests, or non-corporate special interests.

We the people--our interests--should always come first, and not last, which is too often the case in our current political climate.

It's when we take our eye off of government, and allow it to operate in secrecy, striking deals behind closed doors--just as Cheney did with Big Oil, and Obama with Big Pharma--that our democracy is put at risk.

Further, we need to take a proactive role in our own governance. Always we should insist that government is responsive to the people, and beholding to us. At the end of the day, it is us, the people, that will either succeed or fail when government succeeds or fails.

Where there's trust--real trust--governments don't need spies to guarantee that trust. Where there's trust--real trust--the people can relax their vigilance. But that day isn't yet upon us.

Until that time, as Jefferson warned, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." It's also the hallmark of a democracy.