Sunday, May 31, 2009

Comments on the Left and Obama

These are some comments I posted on Yahoo's Buzz Up regarding an article in the US News and World Report--see article below:

Obama's Battle With the Liberal Wing of the Democratic Party
U.S. News & World Report 

    By Kenneth T. Walsh Kenneth T. Walsh – Fri May 29, 11:32 am ET

Four decades ago, the liberal, antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped to force President Lyndon B. Johnson from office. Specifically, Johnson decided not to run for re-election in 1968 in large part because of rising primary challenges and increasingly vitriolic demonstrations against him. One chant that was heard often at anti-Vietnam War rallies was "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"

The level of anger now is nowhere close to that level, but there are warning signs that President Obama is starting to generate serious opposition on the fiery left. There is increasing unease about his sending 21,000 more troops into Afghanistan, which some compare to the early escalations in Vietnam. [Read about Obama's 12 most important decisions]

There is disquiet that Obama has abandoned his promise to release photos showing brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists.[Read about Obama's torture problem]

There is consternation that he is moving toward using military tribunals to prosecute some terrorists, that he has not banned assault weapons, and that he has not acted aggressively enough to protect a woman's right to have an abortion.

Many liberals are also unhappy that Obama shows no interest in a "single payer" healthcare system in which the government would take the lead in guaranteeing adequate medical treatment. [Read about Obama's uphill battle to reform healthcare]

Among the groups that have been ratcheting up their criticism of Obama are the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Public Citizen, and members of the 77-member congressional Progressive Caucus. [Read about Obama's journey from charismatic to polarizing]

But despite the disappointment in some quarters, most liberal Democrats have been giving President Obama a pass on his centrist policies, and he still enjoys high approval ratings from the public. The question is whether the overall patience of leaders and voters on the left will last much longer. [Read about why Obama's job rating stays so high]

White House strategists express confidence that they can keep most liberals in line for the foreseeable future. One reason is that Americans on the left have such lengthy wish lists on issues ranging from healthcare reform to legalizing gay marriage. They don't want to create any permanent break with Obama.

And White House officials say this core of the Democratic Party, with some exceptions, will continue to give its president the benefit of the doubt. They point to a meeting that Obama held with the Progressive Caucus in late April. "It was very cordial," recalls one attendee. "The sense I got from that meeting was that there was a clear desire to work through their differences and try to find compromises. There were no flash points."

It appears that after eight years of a Republican in the White House, liberals are willing to muffle their dissent. "There is such an overriding sense of relief that it's Obama and not George W. Bush in the White House," says Geoff Garin, a veteran Democratic pollster. "There is a pretty strong inclination to cut him a lot of slack." Garin also says that liberals "may say he is not tough enough on the banks or that he's keeping the troops in [Iraq] too long and not delivering quickly enough on 'don't ask, don't tell' [to change policy and allow gays to serve openly in the military]. But they are still delighted and thrilled that he is president of the United States." It also helps in muting opposition that Obama and White House officials are reaching out regularly to inform liberal leaders of what Obama is doing and to get feedback. The president's speech Thursday defending his plans to close the Guantánamo Bay prison--a move that is widely supported on the left--was part of that outreach. [Read about the members of Obama's inner circle]

White House advisers add that Obama will be pushed only so far to the left, and with good reason. Only 19 percent of Americans, after all, identify themselves as liberal, compared with 36 percent who say they are moderate and 41 percent who say they are conservative, according to the latest poll by Democracy Corps, a Democratic think tank.

Still, the next few months will be a time of testing. How many compromises will Obama accept on healthcare and on legislation designed to limit global warming and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil? How far will he go in courting conservatives on issues ranging from national security to abortion? Is he sliding ever deeper into a morass in Afghanistan, as LBJ did in Vietnam early in his presidency? [Read about Obama's challenges in Afghanistan]

The looming fight over Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court should ingratiate him to some critics for the time being, since she has strong support among liberals. But the overall uneasiness on the left is real and will remain a serious long-term problem for the new president.

My comments, also posted on Yahoo's Buzz Up:

Well,as I see it, IN OUR HUMBLE OPINION, we, the ultra-left of the Democratic Party must be RELENTLESS...that is, we have to keep track of each and everything President Obama is saying, doing and thinking, as well as all his advisors, cabinet, etc.  I made the mistake during the Clinton years of getting complacent, and figuring Bill would just do "the left thing"....but, shiest!  He increased the Drug War, screwed up equality for gays/lesbians, and did not significantly help the health-care debacle.  Granted, he did a lot of good things, such as not starting wars, balancing the budget, producing a surplus, etc.

But we lefties must be on Barack's ass about everything, and be unremitting and uncompromising.  The two fascist wars that Bush et al started, along with the attempted right wing coup of 9/11, gives us a clear starting point.  We must take our righteous anger to the streets and channel it in positive directions to teach Joe six-pack and Soccer-mom Sally that the "liberal agenda" is IN THEIR FAVOR!  We also need to seize control of the mainstream media and maginalize fascist monopolies, like FOX, MSNBC etc.  We must get the truth to the people (to be cynical, "the unwashed masses") and make the truth simple, understandable and palatable to them.  

The pressure is on US, and no other group can do as much good for ourselves (the USA) and the world.  It is due to the left and the union movement that we have weekends off, that we have any sort of national health-care (crappy and the world-wide disgrace that it is), and basically freedom of expression in general.
Time has come today!  Let us join together and organize, increase unions, march in the street (and not just in San Fran!), demand change, sign countless petitions, personally lobby the president and Congresspeople.  They WILL do what we DEMAND that they do.  It is our responsibility to make these changes a reality.  One last note, regarding something that needs MAJOR reform is the PRISON-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-----there are FAR too many ways to get arrested in the USA.  It is, and I am not exaggerating, now like the old Soviet Union at its worst!  We MUST dismantle this Machiavellian horrific travesty--and it starts by dismantling the root of it all---The Drug War.  Adults must be allowed to put what ever plant, chemical, object or whatever into their own bodies.  Without this, we are little more than slaves, clearly indicating that we are OWNED by the State, rather than the State being for the people, of the people, by the people.  We must take BACK Cognitive Liberty!  It is the root of all other rights.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memories of Zeus in New Orleans

This is finally another snippet from my forthcoming book, Apeshit.

Memories of Zeus in New Orleans

When I was 14 years old, a freshman in high school, my father, as was his wont, decided to take me and my little brother on a vacation to New Orleans. We had never been there before (Mengele and I.) I don't know if my dad had been there before, I can't recall. It was a road trip, and that was to see a lot of the country that way. We went in his 1978 Chevy Monte Carlo, which had a bitchin V8 engine, but enclosed in a small hood. In other words, it did not look like a fast car, but it was quite powerful. And my dad always drove fast. I liked that about him.

As the older brother, I got to rode shotgun. But, being kind and gracious, I did switch off from time to time on the trip with my brother, Mengele. Why my parents chose to name him (that is his first name) after one of the most notorious inhumane torture-doctors, I have no idea. But, that's likely in another chapter and had to do with his destiny. My dad, Zeus, planning with excellent forethought, had a large plastic (insert name brand here) cooler full of iced-down sodas for Mengele and I and beer for him. Of course, that was back in the day, when drinking and driving was not such a mortal sin and capital offense. Dad was a bourbon salesman in those days anyway, and had a fairly high alcohol tolerance. Not that he was a drunk, he could just hold his booze quite proficiently. He was required, in the course of his job, to call on liquor stores and bars of all types, and schmooze with the owners and, of course, let them sample the product. And, to show them it wasn't hemlock, he of course, had a couple belts himself.

The scenery was greenery passing througgh Kentucky and Tennesee. As my future ex-mother-in-law would say, "verde con avaricio!" I should have taken that phrase, and her intonation, as a dire warning, but I was clueless, and naive and in love, so I chalked it up to some weird Madrilenyo saying...Flashin' past the windows were mainly cows, horses and beautiful pastures. But in those days, I was more interested in what was on the radio....incidently, my father, Zeus, was (on the weekends, and at night) a rock and roll singer in a band. So, he kept up with all music, just like me, a teenager. He was a cool dad. That was wonderful, as most kids' dads were complete squares or red-necks where we grew up, in Okolona, Kentucky. Okolona, like Amsterdam, was actually below sea-level. In other words, it was a frikkin' recently-drained former swamp! In the outskirts of the incredible metropolis of Loiusville, Kentucky. As I recall, as we were passing through Nashville we were grooviin to "Takin' It To The Streets," by the Doobie Brothers.

Zeus was a big fan of the
Doobie Bros, and eventually would take Mengy and I to see them in our first "real" rock concert later that same year, but lest I digress.....I, as per my duties as first officer (when riding shotgun, we were first officer, like Spock on Star Trek!), had to multitask. Of course, these were in the days when only rich people owned 8-track Quad stereos in their rods, so fm radio was king. "No static at all, man!" I took very seriously the job of tuning out country music and finding the local rock and roll stations. Other duties included opening and passing my dad a beer, so he could chill, while driving. Then, in an extraordinary gesture of trust, Zeus would take a catnap, and order me to drive while sitting in the middle seat of the car (actually where the arm-rest could fold up or be lowered). I would drive with my left hand, although I am right handed. This I did for as long as I could stand, usually 15-27 minutes, then I would wake the captain and politely ask him to resume at the con.

He'd splash his face with the icy water from the cooler and resume, singing all the way down the highway. I was a shy boy and played percussion on my legs and hard surfaces of the car interior. Since Zeus was a powerful and professional singer, I felt my crummy voice would only disrupt the music. My brother would sing occasionally from the back seat, and also add hoots, claps and vocally-imitated guitar solos. Zeus always amazed me, as he knew the words to EVERY song, even ones that had just come out! He told Mengele and I how his band, the Monarchs, had cut several records at RCA and Mercury studios in Nashville, as we passed fifty-seven signs advertizing the Grand Ole Opry. Daddy was a friend of Glen Campbell, as the band had toured with the Beach Boys in the early sixties, and it was one of those periods where Brian was having an "episode" (and I loathe that word, but I can't think of any otherword to describe it) of spiritual emergence. So, Glen was filling in as the lead singer on that tour. At that very moment, daddy was doing his best John Fogerhty as he wailed thru "Travellin' Band." "Won't you take me down to Memphis on a midnight ride--I wanna move! Playin' in a travellin' band--yeah! We were flyin' cross the land, tryin' to get a hand, playing in a travellin' band!" And we were.

It was a happy time. School had just let out, and the song "School's Out" by Alice Cooper came on the radio several times in the stretch of I-65 from Louisville to Alabama. Even Mengele and I would howl in every word to that song, overcoming shyness pretty-much involuntarily, because that song set our souls on fire! Alabama looked depressing, even at 110 miles per hour, as my dad would sometimes gun it to. The houses looked little more than shacks, like something out of the Grapes of Wrath, which I had just read for the first time that semester. What a great book! A frikkin' masterpiece! I didn't even know that there was a movie already made of it, with Henry Fonda as Tom Joad! But, hey, I am tripping forward in time, so I'll get back to the
story...Mengele had gone to a yard sale and bought a wind-up Kodak Brownie (God, I am old now...) movie camera, and we had brought at least two cans of film for it. Mengey was always into photography, even as a little kid. He took a few shots at the landscape, but bein' as this was the first movie camera he and I ever used, they turned out very blurry and would nearly make you vomit from "movie-induced-motion-sickness." But again, I get ahead of myself. I felt bad and ashamed of our country when I saw that the people living in the shack-like houses in Alabama were all black. The black people I grew up with in Louisville had a house exactly like ours. So I was wondering, "what the hell?" Even at the advanced age of 14, I really did not understand how it was for colored people in "the South." Louisville was, in our minds, NOT part of the "South." It was really more like "the Mid-west." But, the "South" truly began about 10 minutes by car to the South of Louisville. When you hit Bullitt county you were in the South.

Returning to Alabama, we were tired (my brother and I) and began to ask dad if we were going to stop and spend the night at a motel, but he was hell-bent on driving straight thru, all the way to New Orleans. So, I did my duty left-hand driving when he would tell me to. And, I must admit, I liked it, until my arm started getting stiff and sore...
We were going to stay at his girl-friend's house in Fat City, which I thought was a pretty funny name for a town. We had met Susan a few times before, and she was very pretty and nice. I could see why dad dug her. I got a rise in my Levi's a few times when she was staying at my dad's apartment in Louisville, before she moved down to New Orleans.

The radio blasting the entire trip-my father never, EVER, had silence in the car, and seldom at his apartment. I bless him for that..for he instilled in me a love of music and eventually an incredible knowledge of music, such that I would become an audiophile and a shower-singer. Zeus is now deceased. R.I.P.