Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ON THE FRINGE RANT: Monday Night Shame

this is an audio post - click to play

New Orleans Poor Pay For An Expensive Saints Opener

How does Al-Jazeera get it and ESPN and entire American media establishment doesn't?

The Super Bowl-like display for the re-opening of the Louisiana Superdome last night may have a far lasting legacy than the Saints' week three victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

FEMA spent $185 million on not just rebuilding, but markedly upgrading a sports arena when thousands still lack the necessities of a simple third world nation.

What does this say about our society? Was the tens of millions that ordinary Americans donated to the relief cause really happen? If so, then why is every quote, every interview and every story telling us how a three-hour football game was exactly what the citizens of New Orleans needed. Exactly what they needed?

How about a roof? What about consistent running water? A clean classroom?

Was a huge federal expenditure needed to repair the Superdome so soon or did the acts of a reprehensible owner push the city and state in this direction? It should be recalled that while Hurricane Katrina was a nasty storm, the tragedy of New Orleans was irrefutibly man-made.

Very few American media outlets (Here's ESPN's take), reported Monday night's game in it true ight, but inexplicably Al Jazerra did.
'This is exactly what the city needs,' said Saints season ticket holder Clara Donate, 58, who lost her home and all her possessions to Katrina's floodwaters. 'We all need something else to think about.'

But some were in no mood to celebrate the team's return, saying the $185 million dollars spent on refurbishing the Superdome could have been better spent on helping those still struggling to rebuild their lives after Katrina.

Irma Warner, 71, and her husband, Pascal Warner, 80, live in an apartment in suburban Metairie while working six days a week to restore a home flooded by 7 feet (2.1 meters) of water in New Orleans' Lakeview neighborhood.

'We rode around through the Ninth Ward yesterday,' Irma Warner said.

'When I saw that, I thought, how can they spend $185 million on the Superdome. What about all these poor people?'

It's not hard to see why the Superdome was built before thousands of destroyed homes were even cleared. New Orleans is and has always been the most corrupt city in America. Every sector of the public trust is plagued with graft from the mayor's office to the dog catcher. The city has always been crime-riddled and the school system a national joke.

The flood walls were built with the flimsiest of materials because building them properly would have been less money in the profiteers pockets. The voters of New Orleans continued the cycle of corruption by recycling crooked politicians by not paying attention to their decaying city.

The people of New Orleans, of whom no national figure would dare criticize in the light of Katrina, are to blame for disaster that unfolded and by their native inability to choose a safe and honest mode of government have again squandered a huge opportunity to take care of their future instead of their fleeting desires.

Allen Used N-Word; Who's To Say Virginians Don't Either?

Language is a living thing. It lives, breathes and changing over time. Three years ago, the word "swift boat" was singularly used as noun, as in, a small, quick draft water vessel. Today, through popular culture, the term is a verb like, "John Kerry was swiftboated in the 2004 election". To be swiftboated is entirely something else. It's a shameless attack on one's character perpetrated with lies and innuendo. George Allen: You've been swiftboated. Kind of.

Payback is a bitch, as they say. In Allen's case, the chorus of former colleagues from the distant past who are alleging the Virginia governor's use of the word nigger, are probably rooted in the truth. But, does that matter? Isn't this the type of division President Bush likes to employ on the electorate?

A few classmates and former teammates from the University of Viriginia said that a youthful Allen used the racial epitapth regularly in normal conversation. One even claimed that Allen said when referring to the some sea turtles, around here the only one's that "eat 'em" are niggers.

The difference in the swiftboating of Kerry and the apparently hatchet job on Allen is that the Southern governor's past leads directly to these sorts of accusation. In the Salon piece by Michael Scherer, a former high school classmate in Los Angeles recalled that Allen wore a confederate pin on his lapel for his yearbook photo. The source saw the use of the rebel pin as a "middle finger" to the blacks kids in the school.

At first glance, this story is undeniably debilatating to Allen's Senate campaign, but not necessarily to his apparent national aspirations. If Allen is indeed the Republican to succeed President Bush's constintuency, then this sort of division between liberals and far-right conversatives and more precisely, the South versus the North, should work to his advantage.

Living in one of the bluest counties in the bluest of blue states surely clouds one's grasp of the differences between the unique regions of this country. That a politician uses the word nigger so freely is quite endearing to some in the reddest of red Southern states. It might be noted that, at this point, pundits are not saying his race against Jim Webb is toast. In addition, if Allen runs for the GOP nomination this sort of bad press will be more than a year old. That's not to say that something as treacherous as the foggy memory of whether Allen said the N-word thirty years won't continue to bite the heels of his campaign on a daily basis.

Remember, reporters on the Little Rock capital beat heard rumblings of then-governor Bill Clinton's dalliances with women, before the bombshell of Gennifer Flowers exploded nationally.

This story won't hurt Allen that badly. Think about it. He's a gun-toting, nigger-saying, dumb redneck who claims to love Jesus. The Democrats haven't figured out how to beat a Republican with that profile, who's to say they will now?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

George Allen Meets Black Folk And Chinamen

The Talking Points Memo reported Tuesday that Virginia Governor George Allen's homepage featured a photo gallery from the embattled governor's "Ethnic Rally".

The grip 'n grin with African-Americans and Vietnamese supporters or various minorities willing to take a picture with a bigoted, tall white guy is too funny to be real. But, remember, Allen is running for re-election in Virginia and this sort of stuff works in the South.

Allen's problem is that he's caught in the middle of a statewide election with blatant overtones for a future presidential run. The fact that the guy likes to flag the Confederate flag or calls Indian men "macacas" isn't really relevant to Virginians, who would mostly call such people far more vulgar names.

Americans will forget the macaca slur because, frankly, nobody knows what it actually means. It's one of exotic sounding words that just sounds bad. My dad use to call us macacas when we were young. I thought it was a playful moniker akin to calling a bunch of rambunctous kids little monkeys.

What they should not forget if Allen wins re-election and cashes the victory into a run for the Republican nomination is that the man stands strongly against the equality of blacks and minorities as a whole. If he can muster the will to win over the religious right of the GOP, Allen will become the standard-bearer for the legacy of George W. Bush. There is simply no other possible candidate capable of being downright racist in front of the ultra right wing while being able to seem palatable to the rest of the political spectrum.

If and when the Confederate flag debate is again discussed, it should be strongly noted that the flag not only represents the most reprehensible period in our history, but is also the same flag that flew over a rogue Southern government during the Civil War. Is this the cultural divide Allen will exploit in the next two years. You betcha, good buddy!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ann Richards, Grand Texas Dame, Dies

Ann Richards
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Former Texas Governor Ann Richards died tonight. One must wonder how our nation would look today if she just had beat the younger Bush in the 1994 Texas Gubernatorial race.

The wily, silver-haired Democrat had a sharp wit and rarely in the last two decades has an American politician dead-panned so concisely a comment than Richards did back in 1988 when she skewered then VP George H.W. Bush.
"Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
To be more precise in conveying the meaning it works better if you replace the "help" with hep as she did at the 1988 Democratic Convention.

She wasn't just a one-shot quipmeister, either. She highlighted the equality of men and women by saying, "Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

She also made fun of the former president's lack of an Texan drawl when she noted, "I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like."

It's odd why Democrats today fail to attack W's faux country boy persona when he's actually a product of the snobby Northeastern establishment that he claims to be against.

Who knows what would have happened if Richards would have beaten W. back in 1994. She was, after all, the first of his father's detractors to famously fall at the son's hands. The second could possibly be Al Gore, the VP of the man who beat his father in 1992 and to be followed by, of course, Saddam Hussein and finally democracy.

Ann Richards death, today, marks just another end to a Democratic Party too afraid to attack either harshly or through hilarious commentary. We don't have many politicians like Ann Richards anymore and until we do the very things she championed, minority and gender equality and programs for the poor, will continue to dwindle into oblivion.