Thursday, September 29, 2011

Those Diabolically Clever Racist Republicans!


Thus reasons that brilliantly incisive political pundit Janeane Garofalo.

Of course, if Republicans supported a white candidate, instead...why, they'd be RACISTS.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Attila and the Witch Doctor" in Venezuela

Readers of Ayn Rand's For the New Intellectual will recognize these archetypes, what she described as a symbiotic relationship between "mystics of muscle" and "mystics of mind." And they'll also grasp how it relates to the following amusing news story:
Shamans from tribes in Venezuela's Amazon jungle held a ceremony at the Miraflores presidential palace Saturday to help Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recover from his cancer treatment.

Chavez, who insists that he was "not sick but recovering" from cancer, greeted the shamans wearing a track suit in the colors of the Venezuelan national flag and wore a crown of feathers the visitors gave him.

Members of the Yekuana, Jivi and Wayuu communities danced, sang and prayed as they invoked their ancestors to protect the Venezuelan leader.

The ritual was aimed at protecting Chavez "against enemies and bad health," said Miguel Morales, a shaman from the Jivi community.

It also serves "so that he is left in peace, politically," he said.
I just couldn't make this stuff up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A 9/11 commentary: "Unilateral Moral Disarmament"

Not long after the attacks of September 11, 2001, I wrote a commentary on the meaning and source of the attack for a magazine called Navigator.

Nothing in the intervening ten years has caused me to alter my fundamental analysis of the ideas at the root of the assault on America. As we contemplate the tragic losses of human life from that infamous day, and the philosophy at the heart of the attack, I thought I'd share with you that commentary:

"Unilateral Moral Disarmament."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

An unsurprising political fall

Way back in 1978, I met the former Margaret Kelley, a young woman running a quixotic campaign for state representative as a Republican in the Democratic stronghold of downtown Boston. I was impressed enough to volunteer to become her campaign manager, and also personally smitten enough to later become her husband. (We raised a daughter together before separating and divorcing in the mid-1990s).

Margaret was running against another political newbie, a Democratic lawyer from Boston's Italian North End neighborhood by the name of Salvatore DiMasi. He struck us at the time as a terminally ambitious young man on the make, too slick to be scrupulous (as he demonstrated in several ways during the campaign). In other words, a typical creature of Boston machine politics.

We gave it a gallant shot, even took a couple of precincts away from him in the election. But the gerrymandered votes were heavily stacked in the North End, where against a name like "DiMasi," the name "Kelley" didn't have the odds of a pizza slice's survival in an Italian sports bar. We were out-registered Democrat to Republican something like 13-1; we lost about 2 to 1; for us, that was a moral victory.

In the intervening years, Sal DiMasi rose like scum to the top of a stagnant pond, up through the ranks of Massachusetts politicos eventually to become the Speaker of the state House of Representatives -- in short, one of the most powerful politicians in the Commonwealth. He did it the old-fashioned way for a Boston Democrat: by a combination of cronyism, corruption, and outright criminality.

It all caught up with him in 2009 when the Boston Globe exposed his sordid machinations. Sal DiMasi has just been sentenced to eight years in federal prison "for steering millions of dollars in state contracts to a software company and secretly profiting from the scheme."

I saw this guy's lack of scruples first-hand in 1978, so this news comes as no surprise to me now. I do find it dispiriting that so many voters expect this sort of behavior as the norm -- even as desirable -- from their politicians. So, before we dismiss the memory of Mr. DiMasi with indifferent contempt, perhaps we should ponder the words of the guy who once said: "Politicians, like water, cannot rise higher than their source."