Thursday, February 8, 2018
For the longest time, those of us with roots in the Americas who learned from our older relatives—and in some instances witnessed it ourselves—what a US-backed and installed right-wing dictatorship looks like, have contemplated why it hasn’t happened here. Maybe it was a condescending ‘That’s fine for those savages, but we’re civilized here’ attitude that for decades kept those thoughts in check. But I’ve always wondered if somewhere, deep in the corridors of right-wing influence and power, over cigars and brandy, while dreaming of or actually plotting the destabilizing yet another foreign county and installing another strong man who’d kindly defer to big business interests while he stomps on his own people, the idea hasn’t been floated: ‘What if we did it here?’
And yes, I know what you’re thinking: I’m just another partisan dilettante yapping away. Sure, guilty as charged. But I’ve quoted him before and I’ll quote him again: “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.” Right you were, Kurt.
But seeing the process of delegitimizing the press, rigging elections, questioning patriotism, pointless military parades, etc. etc. etc. is of no surprise to me; I can vouch for the ugliness this portends and worry that most on our side of the political fence here in the US are still in ‘it can’t happen here’ mode. No? Ask yourself how many previously unthinkable things you’ve seen happen in this country over the last year and change. And ask yourself how comfortable you are with a third or maybe more of the country being absolutely fine with these previously unthinkable things.
It doesn’t happen overnight but it moves along steadily and insidiously. And when you have a corrupt government, supported by a number of people who mostly don’t have an issue with autocratic leadership—as long as they’re not on the business end of the 2 x 4 with a rusty nail on the tip—and a core who want to decimate those who believe, feel, live and think differently, how do you think that usually plays out?
Meanwhile, we’re hoping that the same people who wanted this and made it happen somehow become reasonable and let us appeal to their (chained to a wall in the basement) humanity. And that elections, which have now been proven to be easily tainted, will save the day.
Yeah, reminds me of a Judas Priest song.
Sunday, February 4, 2018
They hate a country that has tried, over the last 50 years, to shed the horrible aspects of its past, to move towards a place of equality, respect, tolerance and understanding. No. They want a white supremacist fatherland where everyone else is a second-class citizen who speaks only when spoken to and knows their fucking place; what “make America great again” is code for.
Numbers may be the currency of veracity but impressions speak louder: I read all the time that the country is getting more open, more diverse. Perhaps this is exactly the case and those who feel threatened are reacting accordingly. Which reminds me of something I read about how the ‘90s indie/underground/alternative rock ushered a wave of feminism and tolerance that never really took hold in a prominent and lasting manner: the flannel shirt didn’t fit very well.
I took it to mean that the average American is not so much liberal or conservative as they are lodged damn smack in the ideological middle, as mainstream as they come, and not really comfortable with the unadulterated manifestations of either side the social and political fence. (And also, that people will fake allegiance to the trappings of a pop culture moment to avoid looking uncool to their peers but will eventually revert to who they really are.)
We are what we’ve always been; we’re experiencing déjà vu all over again—but with a twist: the American institutions created to ostensibly protect us are being assailed by those for whom treasonous self-preservation is above all, and supported by a third of the country’s population, a staggering number of whom have had enough of keeping the truly dark, hateful, selfish nature of their souls in check.
I have no idea how this ends but I feel that, even if this country remains united on paper, the depth of our divide is too great to overcome in any way that we can coexist without a profound measure of disdain. And that’s what I see as a best case scenario for, in fact, I truly believe any display or support for compassion, openness and tolerance will be met by force, humiliation and subjugation.
Folks, we’re at war and the American Taliban has no intention of taking prisoners. Their actual intention is to crush us so that we may never have any kind of power or even momentum to fight them for the soul of this country. You don’t think so? Look around you: the undermining of bedrock institutions; refusals at various levels of government to comply with the law; the kid glove treatment of sworn international enemies; religious leaders not even bothering to cover their tracks, as they openly and hypocritically rewrite their own rules of morality as befits their political corruption and greed.
They’re in it to win it. And destroy us.
What's our plan?
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Friday, December 22, 2017
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Democrats, unfortunately, still haven’t gotten that memo, acting as if it’s possible to shame the shameless into doing the right thing. That being on the side of righteousness is enough to win elections. Or that somehow full-on attacks when politically beneficial is crass or beneath us. (Kudos to the Doug Jones camp for being smart in holding back—and letting the GOPers in Alabama go on a rampage against each other—but that should be an exception, not the rule.)
Guess what? When you’re in politics, you’re by definition already in the gutter. And to reach the moral high ground without climbing over those who impede your way is simply not possible. That moral high ground is obtained, as mom says, by not defaming or lying. But otherwise, whack ‘em over the head with the kitchen sink—or the mop bucket, in the preferred Dominican version.
Bottom line: The people we're up against don't see us as being of a different ideology or philosophy, as we see them. No, we are the enemy. And when you face an enemy you use every resource at your disposal. That's why they have no qualms about supporting bigots, otherwise incompetents, racists or even pedophiles; whatever it takes to reach their nefarious goals.
Whether it’s populating the courts with fundamentalist Christians in the hope that they will repeal women’s rights to their bodies and in the workplace (so they can stay home and become the baby makers the white supremacists want them to be), as well as revoking the separation of church and state as a big step towards turning this country into a theocracy; rolling back social safety nets, environmental protections, student loans and other assistance for higher education aspirants from the working class, and further decimating the rights of the workforce in the name of Big Money; these people are not messing around—they’re playing for keeps. (You think the Koch brothers investing in the purchase of Time magazine is portfolio diversification? Think again.) They've seen it done all over the world—and in many instances by our own government—now it's time for the bigger and better American version.
The very soul of our beloved country lies in the balance, and time is most definitely of the essence: much of the damage done by this administration and its accomplices is likely irreparable. So, what are we gonna do? Continue to act all prim and proper while the other side smears feces in our collective faces and laughs about it? You tell me.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I was blessed by virtue of not losing any of my loved ones in the Sept 11th attacks. But I was here in NYC and along with my fellow New Yorkers felt the overwhelming sadness that befell my city. I remember every detail of that fateful day as if it just happened a few months ago. Among the many instances I can still recall was the burning smell coming thru my bedroom window; the parked cars on my street, covered in ashes; seeing a small army of Brooklynites walking home from Manhattan, in a daze, as if returning from a war zone; hearing of how the news cast a pall around the world, particularly in the Dominican Republic--NYC looming so large in the collective Dominican experience.
Incredibly, it wasn't until Sunday night, when after hearing the news I sat down and composed a brief statement, that I actually, and briefly, cried. A few tears came to me, possibly the result of never completely acknowledging how profoundly the events of that otherwise beautiful September morning had affected me. It's an emotional thing for us New Yorkers, in a way that few other will ever understand. But I can't even attempt to imagine what the news of this monster's death must mean to those whose lives were tangibly and irrevocably changed by this despicable event. I want to think about them right now and it is my sincerest hope that his death brings them at least a modicum of peace and even a bit of consolation.
Friday, April 22, 2011
This is a huge deal.
"Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club. I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball. My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. McCourt's ownership. I will announce the name of my representative in the next several days.
"The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future."
McCourt is in the midst of a fierce divorce battle which has put a spotlight on his financial woes and threatens the stability of the Dodgers. He recently turned to Fox Sports for a $200m loan which Selig vetoed. Last week he managed to borrow $30m from Fox to cover payroll and other expenses. Personally, I think this prompted Selig to act against the Dodgers owner, who unlike the Wilpon family who own the New York Mets--and whose own financial mess led them to borrow $25m from MLB this past November in order to meet payroll--McCourt went outside baseball to obtain that money and Selig may have feared the Dodgers could end up in the hands personas non gratas to MLB. Imagine, if you will, McCourt missing a couple of payments on a loan obtained from shady characters and losing the team to them; Selig and the other owners would have a conniption to say the least.
I have my issues with Selig, but at first glance I agree with his decision regarding the Dodgers. (And I am not alone: in L.A. he's been hailed a hero for doing so, believe it or not.) Granted, there is more info to surface concerning this mess to be sure. I also think this is a wake up call for the Wilpons. As my Dad used to say, "When you see your neighbor being shaved, it's time to lather up." We'll see how this one pans out, but at least for now Selig has taken a solid step towards correcting a screwup he helped initiate by ushering McCourt into MLB ownership and turning a blind eye to his subsequent financial shenanigans.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Not feelin' it.
As you can see, this scenario would eliminate the Oakland A's and the Tampa Bay Rays, both of which are in dire straits in terms of operating in their current locations. The A's want to move to San Jose but the San Francisco Giants have some sort of territorial rights that MLB has not wanted to address. Meanwhile, the Rays want to move from St. Petersburg to Tampa and build a domed stadium there but, allegedly, St. Pete bureaucracy and a bad Florida economy stand in their way.
Another option, and one which both A's and Rays ownership are said to be partial, is a buyout. The other 28 teams would have to cough up aprox. $25 million each to cover the aprox. $700 million both teams are worth. Not only do I not want to see both of these teams disappear--especially a storied franchise like the A's--I hardly see revenue sharing beneficiaries like the Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates each coming up w/$25m. No dice.
Obviously both teams need to move: The A's situation in Oakland has become untenable and bringing big league baseball to a state that only cares about football was a huge mistake to begin with, despite the Marlins' two World Series championships (1997, 2003) and the Rays' pennant in '08 and winning their division last year. But getting rid of them would be stupid. So is eliminating geographical rivalries and the identities of each league.
And as for that other rumored development--the disappearance of the DH--on a personal level, I'm quite opposed. When I watch a National League game and witness the uncomfortable awkwardness and even downright clumsiness in the vast majority of pitcher at-bats and their occasional, subsequent base running, it makes me give thanks for the DH in the AL and lament that Connie Mack--who first came up with the concept--did not live to see it implemented.
Let's hope the A's and Rays' respective situations are resolved in a way that benefits each team and their fans. If not, the best case scenario would be a variation of the Montreal Expos mess all over again. The worst? Well, you see that monstrosity above, you tell me.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Plenty of smokers are pissed and rightfully so. At the core of this negativity is not necessarily being unable to smoke in yet more areas, but feeling singled out for an unhealthy habit, yet drinkers--who when driving drunk, actually kill people in a much quicker and tangible way--don't face the same stigma. I don't have much of a problem with outdoor smoking bans when they are reasonable (restaurants, for example) but enacting it in bars was a ludicrous decision made by former smokers who are now anti-smoking zealots, plain and simple. Newsflash: NOTHING healthy is going on in a bar; everyone there is POISONING themselves w/alcohol. And there's plenty of that idiocy and hypocrisy in the way they've handled this new twist.
You want to tax the hell out of cigarettes and make them $12 a pack? Done. But how 'bout we jack up six packs of beer, along with wine and spirits? No? Of course not. Why? Well, for one, NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg and his lifestyle police would be guillotined within minutes of enacting such a thing. And let's not get into the grand hypocrisy that no one wants to bring up: why can't I buy cheaper cigarettes from out of state vendors? What is the ultimate goal: to make people quit or raise revenue to pay for alleged health costs? 'Cause you can't have it both ways by raising the price of cigarettes as an incentive to quit and then penalizing those who choose not to quit and want to buy them elsewhere. Hell, they even the balls to try and sue sovereign territories over which they have no domain! (Yes, Indian reservations.) This bullshit double standard is what pisses smokers off. And, for the record, many non-smokers are upset at being welcomed at their corner store by those garish anti-smoking posters. "I don't smoke and I don't need to see 'em; put them by the cigarette-vending area, not by the front door, damn it", complained a friend recently.
A while back, when one of the more recent cigarette taxes was enacted, I had this to say about it:
As anyone who’s seen the smug wine-and-cheese crowd in the media condescendingly turn up their noses at the mention of smokers—it seems we are just slightly less disgusting than Bin Laden, pedophiles, and OJ Simpson—this tax increase is one of the more elitist, bullshit moves I’ve seen in my lifetime. Let’s make it fair, non-smokers: how about, from now on we tax a six-pack of Bud so that it costs $24 at the corner bodega; a bottle of cheap wine or spirits a minimum of $50. Hey, a sin tax is a sin tax. And the economy could sure use a jolt, right?
(Btw, this is going to fuel mob-related cigarette bootlegging like never before. I never thought I'd ever say this but, I'm rooting for La Cosa Nostra on this one.)
And, as fellow blogger Rambler recently stated, "No one ever had one too many cigarettes and killed a family of four on the way home from the bar. "
Fuck you all, you arrogant, patronizing, hypocritical assholes. You know who you are.
Still stand by every word.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This is not some conspiracy theory nonsense or the overactive imagination of paranoid pundits. Just look around you and pay attention to the statements, proposals and more importantly, the actions of the new crop of Republican lawmakers and officials. It's not a conservative vs liberal agenda, but a radical dismantling of the federal government and what it stands for. Let's not be fooled: this is what these folks are looking to accomplish. They want to turn our country into a genuflecting mass of subservient automatons who should be grateful someone deigned to give 'em a job and not let them rot in a ditch somewhere. A country in which business interests trump everything else at all times, regardless of whose air, water, or food is being poisoned. A country in which the elderly have to work until right before they die. A country in which education and healthcare are regarded as luxuries befitting only those who can pay for them.
In recent years, a lot of these ugly scenarios have come closer to fruition than ever thought possible. The current batch of Republicans in power seemingly believe they can get the complete job done with just a big push. God help us all if they turn out be right.