Archive for August, 2011
Every now and then liberals, white liberals in particular, bend over so far backwards to defend the down-trodden black man that they fall on their ass. One such case occurred this week with respect to a comment made by GOP Presidential contender Rick Perry.
Last week while visiting Rick Hill, South Carolina, Perry was asked about the civil rights movement. He commented that the country had made “great strides” in civil rights and now it was important to create an economic environment in which companies could succeed.
I first heard about this supposed gaffe when MSNBC’s Chris Jansing discussed it with Politics Daily writer Alex Wagner during a Matthews-less edition of “Hardball”. I have a major junior high school crush on Alex Wagner but that didn’t stop me from wondering what the heck was going on between the two of them and their outrage over Perry’s comment. Their assessment was that Perry was making a despicable comparison of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement to making life easy for fat cat corporations. In so doing, they said, he was diminishing and disrespecting King in particular and blacks in general.
Then in preparation for writing this piece, I noticed that ThinkProgress.org similarly had their nose out of joint about the quote:
To compare the “struggles” of corporations who often pay virtually nothing in taxes to the plight of black Americans in pre-Civil Rights America is remarkably ignorant, even for Perry. Martin Luther King Jr. argued that economic rights for the poor were as essential as political rights, and was a great advocate for unions and the very anti-poverty programs that Perry believes are unconstitutional. While King fought for a living wage and more welfare for the poor, Perry fights for more corporate welfare.
Folks, it really is time to get a grip. There is no doubt that in many ways, Rick Perry is a horse’s ass. I would sooner move to Canada than vote for him. However on this point, he is expressing a very natural opinion for a pro-capitalism, laissez-faire economy politician. Let’s be honest. You can give a minority all the “rights” in the world but if they can’t find a job, then you really haven’t achieved anything, have you? Maybe I’m being naive on this one but I see Perry simply saying that after doing the heavy legislative lifting of the civil rights era, we now have to follow-up with creating an economic climate that employs Americans, all Americans. He explicitly said that folks need to know they can come here and make their dreams come true. Not too different from the words found at the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Notice the quote doesn’t say, “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free so they can collect unemployment indefinitely because there really is no opportunity here.”
It’s time we liberals stop seeing an attack on minorities around every corner. If we get the wax out of our ears and listen to what Perry actually said, we can see how what he advocates is an essential, albeit insufficient, ingredient to minority empowerment.
Where T-Paw Went Wrong
It’s been a week since Tim Pawlenty (known in the Republican hood as T-Paw) withdrew from the GOP Presidential race. There hasn’t been a heck of a lot of real analysis on his withdrawal. Let’s face it. Watching Pawlenty was a lot like watching paint dry. He was hardly a media darling. Still I’m surprised that I haven’t seen a good post-mortem on his campaign.
Maybe I just don’t understand GOP politics but I have the prescription that would still have Pawlenty in the race today. Very simply, target the right demographic. For reasons that totally befuddle me, Pawlenty decided to take on Michele Bachmann and go after her voting block. It doesn’t take a Sigmund Freud to figure out that Pawlenty with his vanilla demeanor was a rival of Mitt Romney, not Michele Bachmann. To put it a bit differently, there are two factions of GOP candidates this season, the sensible and to varying degrees, the wild-ass crazy. Pawlenty, no matter how much he wanted to be the bad boy you don’t bring home to Mama, was in the sensible league with Romney and Huntsman. Pawlenty should have saved his money, like Mitt did, and waited for the right opportunity. Instead, he blew his entire chest on Iowa and to make matters worse, blew it on the Ames Straw Poll which everyone now knows is NO predictor of future victory.
But then, I’m not really sorry to see Tim go. Tim is, in a word, a punk. Call me old-fashioned but I find something wrong with a candidate who shrinks away from attacking the acknowledged front-runner (Romney) and instead goes full throttle against the only woman in the race. Tim’s lucky he ran out of money because if he hadn’t, he would eventually have had to man-up. I’m not sure T-Paw had the testosterone to run the race to the end.
Why I’m Through with Change.org
For over a year now, I’ve subscribed to e-mails from Change.org. Like a typical liberal, I was moved by the organization’s commitment to social justice. I didn’t keep track but I’m guessing I signed an online petition or two over the past few months. I must admit, as the months wore on, their e-mails didn’t so much move me to social indignation but rather depressed the heck out of me. I also had the sneaking suspicion that some of the folks for whom Change.org advocated didn’t really deserve the advocacy. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came in the form of an article on the makers of “Sesame Street”, The Sesame Workshop (known as the Children’s Television Workshop back when I was a kid).
Apparently the folks at Sesame Workshop had to release a statement saying that they would not have the characters Bert and Ernie get married. Yes, you read that right. Some gang of absolute idiots had petitioned Sesame Workshop to have Bert and Ernie get married. Change.org facilitated the petition. The simple translation of Sesame Workshop’s very polite statement was “for goodness sake, these are PUPPETS! What the hell is wrong with you?”
Now apparently Change.org and the authors of the petition felt that in a time of high suicide rates among gay youngsters, having Bert and Ernie, who have roomed since they came on the scene in 1969, get married would send a message that being gay is ok. It would be in the vein of the “It Gets Better” campaign.
I propose that one way to make “it get better” is stop sexualizing children. I don’t doubt that gender preference is deeply ingrained and very possibly innate. That does not mean that such a preference needs to manifest between the ages of two and four (the demographic of “Sesame Street”). The notion that a four-year old is homosexual, or heterosexual for that matter, is to my mind patently ridiculous. The Sesame Workshop has stated that the friendship between Bert and Ernie teaches kids that very different kinds of people can be friends. That is sufficient in teaching tolerance to kids. If by some wild stretch of the imagination little Johnny says to his Mommy “I want to kiss a boy but I don’t think anyone will like me if I do”, Mommy can always say “people can still like you if you’re different. Look at Bert and Ernie. They’re different. They look different. They like different kinds of things. And they like each other a lot.” This lesson in tolerance can be given without having to tell a four-year old that Bert sticks his pee-pee in Ernie’s bum-bum.
Before everyone accuses me of being a homophobe, let me be perfectly clear. I believe consenting adults can do whatever the heck they want with each other and it’s nobody’s business but theirs. I also believe that two people who love each other, with a sexual component, should be allowed to marry in a civil ceremony if they so please, regardless of gender. However I draw the line at how we introduce children to sexual concepts. The notion of teaching a four-year old that Bert and Ernie are gay (and all that goes along with that) gets me as annoyed as the constant heterosexualization of minors that gets portrayed on the Disney Channel on a regular basis. Our kids should be worried about reading, writing and arithmetic and how to be kind and compassionate to their fellow human beings. They should not have to be worried about what to do with their penises and vaginas. Why can’t we let a four-year old be a four-year old? They’ll have plenty of opportunity to wrestle with sexual urges when they hit puberty.
Sometimes liberals have trouble picking their battles. Now that Change.org has shown such bad judgment in trying to turn a wonderful kid’s show into an episode of Dr. Ruth, they can continue their battles without me.
A couple of years ago CNBC’s Rick Santelli (see section in my article titled The End of Empathy) proved what a prick he can be by ranting about how he and his rich friends were tired of pulling the weight of moochers and deadbeats. Actually, Rick claimed to make his case for the common man which only led pundits to laugh at the irony of his rant coming from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Fast forward to August 9, 2011 and another CNBC veteran, Dylan Ratigan goes postal on live TV as his frustration with our broken system reaches its limit. Unlike Santelli’s anger (which aligned perfectly with the then nascent Tea Party movement) Ratigan’s anger is non-partisan and unconcerned with preserving the status quo of keeping the rich wealthy.
I completely identify with Ratigan’s rage. We have a dysfunctional Congress, one side in denial about the hard decisions that must be made to restore our fiscal health and the other side using their call for sound fiscal policy as a weapon to defeat their political opponents, including the President, rather than to really help our nation. The President himself does not emerge from this blameless either. Obama’s “leading from behind” is getting very old. He is not showing bold leadership by any stretch of the imagination.
While conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh delight at the latest disasters, using them to justify their criticism of liberalism in general and Obama in particular, some liberal media folks are demanding specific action, almost in a desperate attempt to save Obama’s presidency. Most notably, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has become red in the face demanding that the President immediately launch a jobs program that puts people to work now.
The ship is headed toward an iceberg and responsible folks in the media are silent no longer. The love affair with the President is over. Folks are mad as hell and they’re shaking their fists at Obama to DO SOMETHING. This is an anger that I can understand.
A bunch of nincompoop government officials get together and tie two completely unrelated bits of governance (paying debts and future spending) together for no good reason but to cause chaos. The head of the government has not one single detailed idea to resolve the standoff between the nincompoops and the more sensible status quo types. Various meetings follow and each day the lead news story is “BLANK walks out on debt talks” where BLANK is filled in by the name of a different legislator with each breaking story. Then comes the great punchline. The gangs that couldn’t shoot straight get together and carve out a piece of legislation that appoints a committee to come up with spending cuts at a future date (it’s called kicking the can down the road) but since we know nothing good ever comes out of committee, they operate under the threat that if they come up with bupkis, all sorts of draconian measures will be automatically implemented. The debt crisis is averted and everyone is happy … scratch that … and no one is happy.
And hilarity ensues!
Wait, you say. This is not an original plot line? Darn, you’re right. This sad excuse for comedy just unfolded before our very eyes over the past few weeks. The one thing I walk away from when I look back at debt ceiling Armageddon is the total lack of adult behavior. Liberals calling conservatives hostage takers and terrorists. Conservatives playing the fool by conflating two things that were never meant to be linked and in the process putting what little economic stability we have left at risk. Oh and then let’s not forget the latest modus operandi of any Washington dispute: there are no facts! Economists say not raising the debt ceiling would result in default on payments and ruin America’s financial reputation (including the loss of AAA credit ratings) and a bunch of folks who create their own set of facts (led by the glorious Tea Party) call the economists not just mistaken but liars. And of course, Obama quoting these economists makes him the chief liar in the bunch.
Folks, if we were not already the laughing-stock of the world, we are now. Not only have we lost the ability to have civil debate but we have become so ideologically polarized that no risk to our country is too great so long as someone can be proven wrong. I cannot point to a single entity involved in this debt ceiling debate who merits admiration or praise, including the Commander-in-Chief. Die hard Obama fans say he played the crisis masterfully. Every true liberal and progressive knows that he caved once again to pressure from the right and as a result the revenue side of the “solution” will not come to pass.
If you want your government running like an episode of “F Troop” then sit back and be happy. It is awfully entertaining. If you want it to be effective then you may have to wait for some major changes. The system is broken. Capitalism is broken. We are in deep trouble. If this debt ceiling debacle that just ended this week is someone’s idea of a joke then all I can think of are the immortal words of the Bee Gees.
I started a joke, which started the whole world crying,
but I didn’t see that the joke was on me.