Sunday, December 28, 2008

GOP: KKK Karaoke?

The GOP just can’t seem to shed its divisive and racially insensitive mantle of privileged intolerance and hate. Many Republicans still herd all black and hispanic people into the back entrances of their minds, and find raucous, race-bating, put-down musical parodies good for an attitude affirming chuckle. “Why no harm intended!”

Chip Saltsman, pretender to the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee who thought it would be funny to send a CD with 41 tasteless, demeaning racial parodies to his Republican buddies as a holiday gift makes my point. The good-old-boy gaffe caused an uproar. Saltsman still thinks the songs, produced for the ever sensitive, Rush Limbaugh, are “light hearted” and “good humor.”

What good old Chip has done here is to also prove what my departed yellow dog Democrat Irish-stock father always enjoyed pointing out about South Texas politics, “The jackasses always stick out a head higher from everybody else.” His observation works across party lines and on the national level as well.

In the quiet confines of the private whites-only clubs and well-tithed all white Protestant churches many still do not see what all the uproar over the “clever little songs” are all about. It is dismissed as so much more thin-skinned political screaming from “those liberals.” Even one of the two African-American candidates for the chairmanship of the GOP National Committee, J. Kenneth Blackwell, reportedly called the disgust with the Republican’s “Barack The Magic Negro” racial ditty, mere “hypersensitivity.” Perhaps a token dismissal?

Just to be sure they don’t regain any of the flood of Latino votes that went to the Democrats, the happy holiday hum-along CD also contained a tasteless treatment of hispanics set to the music of our national anthem titled, “The Starspanglish Banner.”

While high profile Republicans like current party chairman, Mike Duncan, former GOP house speaker, Newt Gingrich, and many more in the GOP leadership have been quick to distance themselves from, and denounce Chip Saltsman’s musical miscue, I have to wonder how many of the other candidates for the GOP party chairmanship, who were, or were not, on the gift list for the now-toxic CD will issue statements categorically denouncing Saltsman and his lack of musical taste.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dialogue: The Great Depression of 2009?

What happens after the last strains of Auld Lang Syne fade away on New Year’s Eve, and the glow of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20th quickly dims? By then, the deep economic mess we face should really start to sink in across America.

Those of us in our Golden Years may see things coming that those of more recent generations can’t even imagine. Its really a matter of what our parents knew about the great depression in the 1930’s and what they taught us when we were young. But if you were born in 1970, by the time you were old enough to remember daily life, things would have probably seemed fine. Your parents grew up when America was taking deep swigs of the new good life and opportunity after WWII. My folks were little kids when the 1929 crash happened. They grew up in the depth of the depression and did without. So, I got stern warnings about spending and saving money. Warnings that 40-somethings today probably didn’t get. And 40-somethings certainly didn’t see thrift and restraint reflected in the America of their youth.

How prepared are Americans today to cope, adjust, improvise, and to help one another as things really get tough in the coming year or two? Could really bad times that go on and on bring about a forced reset of the American psyche? A sea-change in leadership is coming, but a new Obama administration will begin work in the midst of global recession. Our new leaders will inherit record-setting national debt, and the diplomatic debris and great political uncertainty left by Bush and company. Massive government stimulus and work programs will be part of the long term solution but individual responsibility for daily survival will be key on the community level.

Compared to the more than ten years of misery, loss, unemployment, hunger and grinding uncertainty following the crash of 1929, we are a much stronger nation today. But the ability of average Americans to make do and to do without will be an unfolding saga. Will the new jobless again be forced to depend upon soup-kitchens and handouts to survive? Can we even imagine that? Millions, who for decades have been spending money they do not have, using a wallet full of credit cards to get whatever they want, will be forced to take a hard look at themselves. A pay-as-you-go world is a great social leveling force.

I would like to see an exchange of ideas about what you see coming on the basic person to person level. Post a comment and let's hear your thoughts and observations. Hardship can also create positive changes. Will humbling loss and poverty merely increase crimes like shoplifting and burglaries or will it bring out a renewed American strength and pride? What role will the internet and wireless communication make as times get really tough?

Let's start by exchanging ideas and talking to one another early on.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bush: Lame Duck Ducks

Timing is everything. Sneaking out of the White House under maximum security, "Almost-No-Longer-President" Bush wanted one more long ride on Air Force One. No one even missed him. Then Sunday he appeared on TV at a hastily arranged press conference in Iraq. He had just taken his place beside his inadvertent host, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, when an Iraqi TV journalist a dozen feet away, bellowing insults and invective, hurled his shoes, one after the other in rapid succession at Mr. Bush.

Fortunately Bush is an expert at ducking things and both shoes zipped by, inches from his head. But it was impossible for America's commander-in-chief to duck the insulting symbolism the tossing of shoes at him on live TV represented to Middle Eastern viewers. Before being hauled off by security agents, his attacker shouted that the shoes, and the symbolic filth on their soles, were a "farewell present" from the women, children, and innocents killed and injured in the Iraq war. He also called Bush "a dog." Bush lamely recovered, inappropriately quipping that the shoes "were a size 10," unaware that he had just been mightily insulted in the worst way.

I mentioned timing. Just yesterday, The New York Times broke the story about a U. S. Governmental "official history" of the the Bush administration's monumental failures in Iraq. Still in draft form, "Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience" was meticulously compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. A 513 page draft copy was made available to The NY Times who quickly posted a PDF link to the entire report. It is a damning document.

As the NY Times internet story was being published, Mr. Bush was back-slapping his way through talks about a recently negotiated Iraq-American security pact. This last visit was to have been a high note in his presidential legacy. Instead, he was figuratively smeared with street filth in front of millions. At the same time a government report detailing his failures in Iraq became available to millions more back home.

The government's findings mirror Peter W. Galbraith's acclaimed book, "The End of Iraq." It is a scholarly, intensely personal and detailed account of Iraq's complex history, politics and religious counterpoints and how they doomed Bush's clumsy efforts to utter failure. Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat with years of experience in Iraq, preceded the government's just released research and historical findings by almost three years with his award winning book which details the tragedy, waste, incompetence and delusional madness of the neo-conservative Bush loyalists pre and post invasion.

"Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone" written by Rajiv Chandresekaran, Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Times, offers a darkly humorous personal glimpse of American waste and madness in Iraq. His reporter's eye for detail captures America's Catch-22, slap dash bungling following the invasion of Iraq. He shows how totally unqualified, clueless Bush loyalists assigned to the "little America" Green Zone of Baghdad burned through billions of dollars, ultimately accomplishing nothing to speak of.

I highly recommend both these books not only because they are compelling, but because they pre-date and confirm the findings of the "official history" conducted by the U.S. Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. All three sources provide the detailed evidence, names, dates and documentation needed to structure a criminal case against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others. Is all there in black and white.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bob Jones University Says 'No' to Racism, Abercrombie & Fitch

World religions, right down to localized fundamental religious schools like Bob Jones University in South Carolina, follow what they call the "local ethos" to justify dogmatic religious statements and teachings. Damning, faith-based broadsides like the ones from BJU are always also attributed to some biblical scriptural quote. But now, finally, BJU has issued a half-hearted apology for their racist past. They blame their own disgustingly well documented racism on a social “ethos” rather than simply having done the right thing from the beginning. At least it is an admission that what liberals of the day were telling them 30 years ago was correct.
Students at Bob Jones University becoming smart at the
Bob Jones University Library, reading books by Bob Jones.
Photo by Francis Miller / Life Magazine / 1948.

Bob Jones U. apologizes for racial past

GREENVILLE, S.C.-- Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian school in South Carolina, has apologized for its "racially hurtful" past policies.

In a statement posted on its Web site, the university blamed its policies on the "segregationist ethos" of the United States.

"Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures," the statement said. "We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it."

Bob Jones, founded in 1927 by evangelist Bob Jones Sr., did not admit black students until 1971 and did not admit unmarried blacks until 1975.

Interracial dating and marriage was banned until 2000, a policy the administration justified based on a commandment given Moses against the mixing of unlike things. That became an issue during the presidential campaign when George W. Bush spoke on the campus.

Source / UPI / Nov. 21, 2008

And to further understand BJU: The clothes make the man.
"BJU bases its dress codes for men and women on the application of the principles of modesty, gender distinction, appropriateness and distinction from the world. ....

Brand Restrictions. Abercrombie & Fitch and its subsidiary Hollister have shown an unusual degree of antagonism to the name of Christ and an unusual display of wickedness in their promotions. In protest, articles displaying their logos are not acceptable to be worn, carried, or displayed (even if covered or masked in some way)."
Go here for a dress code chuckle.

See much difference in BJU and a strict Islamic Madrassa? Read this student expectation extract:
"Students are challenged to develop Christlikeness that is evidenced in consistent Christian character. To help each student to grow in Christlikeness, BJU has a reasonable, just, and firm disciplinary system.

Loyalty to Christ results in separated living. Dishonesty, lewdness, sensual behavior, adultery, homosexuality, sexual perversion of any kind, pornography, illegal use of drugs, and drunkenness all are clearly condemned by God’s Word and prohibited here. Further, we believe that biblical principles preclude gambling, dancing, and the beverage use of alcohol.

Dating and Mixed Groups

We want students to have wholesome social opportunities in a setting that provides accountability for biblical requirements of purity. It is with this in mind that we chaperon campus activities where men and women students are present and require a chaperon when students date or interact in a mixed group off campus."

And to think, some of us went to UT in Austin, Texas when we could have been socially neutered and made brain dead in South Carolina!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recession: Delusional Politics meets Lewis Carroll

"The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today!" Young Alice Bernanke stared at the ranting Queen and mumbled, "I don't understand you. It's dreadfully confusing!"

Monday's top news headline could have been read through Lewis Carroll's Looking Glass: "It's Official: U.S. is in Recession" What a surprise. But even as the National Bureau of Economic Research issued its formal pronouncement that, "A US recession began in 2007" the evil royalty and aides in Wonderland's White House still refused to say the word "recession."

“ `And you do Addition?' the White Queen asked. `What's one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?'

`I don't know,' said Alice. `I lost count.'"

Instead of fessing up and accepting what has been abundantly clear to most all of us as the economic sky is falling all around, White House spokesman "Foxy Loxy," Tony Fratto, instead, breezily remarked upon the fact that the NBER “determines the start and end dates of business cycles.”

Too late for doublespeak. Bush's last parade had all ready been undone. Hans Christen Anderson wrote about such parades in 1837. And the ending of his tale about another deluded emperor fits the Bush political legacy perfectly:

"The Emperor is naked," the child said.

"Fool!" his father reprimanded, running after him. "Don't talk nonsense!" He grabbed his child and took him away. But the boy's remark, which had been heard by the bystanders, was repeated over and over again until everyone cried:

"The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It's true!"

The Emperor realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He though it better to continue the procession under the illusion that anyone who couldn't see his clothes was either stupid or incompetent. And he stood stiffly on his carriage, while behind him a page held his imaginary mantle."

But hundreds of thousands of Chicken Littles were all ready out of their coops of delusion having heard Bush and company formally described by everyone as being buck naked! A flapping, frantic flock followed including Goosey Loosey, Henny Penny and a Thanksgiving survivor, Turkey Lurkey, all squawking, panic selling and sending the Dow down 680 points, almost 8%.

Lewis Carroll had yet another explanation for things, that also might fit the end of the delusional politics of the Bush era while also acknowledging that no one has a clue about what is happening economically right now:

`It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.

`What sort of things do you remember best?' Alice ventured to ask.

`Oh, things that happened the week after next,' the Queen replied in a careless tone. `For instance, now,' she went on,`there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.'

`Suppose he never commits the crime?' said Alice.

`That would be all the better, wouldn't it?' the Queen said.

With apologies to Mssrs Carroll and Anderson