Send In The Clowns!

Sarah Palin, Alaskan Barbarian 

The Alaskan Barbarian at Home 


 A First Look

 So finally we heard from Sarah Palin – a rootin tootin gun slinging fading beauty queen from the wild wild west who is a religious fanatic, bans books, loves moose stew and is married to a white man she claims is an Eskimo – and it was painfully obvious that she is a clueless air head with the gift of gab.  It didn’t take long to see why the Republicans have placed such a premium on “managerial skills,” because this woman knows as much about the realities of the world as a mule knows about playing a fiddle.  Unfortunately the job of President of the United States is not the same as managing a Wall Mart, or the remote and under-populated state of Alaska.  Much has also been made of her tenure as the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, which has a smaller population than resides in a four block radius of my neighborhood in Manhattan!  And I for one don’t believe that this simple minded country bumpkin could manage the affairs of New York City, let alone be entrusted with the fate of the nation.  

I have been to Alaska, driven for long stretches across its icy bosom when I was in the military, and it is mostly barren plains covered with snow and frozen tundra, or snow capped mountains.  I even considered going up to work on the oil pipeline they were beginning to build on the North Slope because of the high pay they were offering.  But I soon thought the better of returning to Alaska.  It’s a picturesque place but once was enough.  I’d just as soon see it on a postcard, or CBS Sunday Morning.  To try and make this desolate wilderness, populated by gun totin barbarians like the Governor, a model for what America is, or ought to be, is ridiculous.  It is safe to assume that Sarah Palin is not only clueless about foreign policy; she is equally ignorant of urban policy.

Governor Palin’s most impressive moments came when she discussed the energy crisis and the politics of oil, but that was marred by her shameless special pleading for the oil industry’s right to drill anywhere they want – even in the Anwar wilderness.   A vast wildlife preserve with limited oil deposits which lay right in the breeding grounds of the Caribou herds, Anwar is a critical component in the preservation of wildlife in the great Northwest.  I know of whence I speak because I once co-wrote a story in the Guardian/Observer of London about the firing of the British born civil engineer and cartographer, Ian Thomas, from the Department of the Interior for making a map that showed the spot where Bush planned to drill was right in the middle of the Porcupine Caribou calving grounds. 

            Thomas was fired but the outcry in the press, which the Guardian article initiated, caused Bush to abandon his plan to drill there.  So Governor Palin is not the only one “who knows the North slope of Alaska.”   I interviewed the mapmaker at length and he told me in detail about the topography, flora and fauna, and wild life in the area.  This is protected land, and John McCain has pledged not to drill there if he is elected President.  Let’s see if he keeps this promise as well as he as kept his word on immigration, Veterans benefits, rejection of religious extremism, etc.

 As I watched that crowd of screaming glassy eyed rednecks who filled the auditorium in St. Paul they reminded me of the lynch mob in Ishmael Reed’s great satirical novel Reckless Eyeballing.   Justly called “the greatest American satirist since Mark Twain,” Reed’s fiction is both erudite and hilarious; it is also irreverent with a disdain for racism, sexism, and bigotry of any kind, as well as pomposity and puffery.  There is a scene where a Jewish guy from up north goes down south and attends what he thought was a sporting event, held in a big stadium.  But then the redneck MC gets on the mike and began to recount the rape and murder of young Mary Phelem, a Christian girl whose attacker was a Jew.  But we can never know for sure if the Jew was guilty because the Christian crackers lynched him.  Then the Jewish guy learned that the crowd intended to reenact the lynching and he was the Jew they intended to lynch.  In a tragic/comic farce the Jew began to run for his life with the whole stadium chasing him!  

 That’s how I felt watching those right-wing Yahoo’s at the Republican convention.  And I am not the only black person who feels that way.  And the fact that there were only 36 blacks at the GOP convention explains why.  As rich and popular as D.L. Hugely is, he told Larry King that he looked at that crowd and just didn’t feel like he would be welcome there.  The whole vibe of the Republican convention was pugnacious; the mediocre political functionaries who spoke in behalf of John McCain’s character and judgment sank repeatedly into the gutter with a style of bombastic oratory that was innocent of either artifice or erudition.

There were a lot of personal attacks on the character and integrity of their Democratic opponents; but as they had nearly nothing to say about economic policy, or health care, or the mortgage crisis, or the collapse of public education, or the inability of deserving students to go to college because their parents can’t afford to help them, all that was left to them was the politics of personal destruction.  Remember the ordeal of John Kerry?  Here is a real hero, during and after the Vietnam war, especially after the war, who fought down on the ground where the blood and guts are real, not flying around in a multi-million dollar death machine bombing innocent men, women and children from high in the sky – I was in the Strategic Air Command and I know that’s what happens when you carpet bomb a country.    Yet the Republican attack machine made Kerry look like a dishonorable sissy and elected a shameless slacker who hid out in the National Guard while the war was raging in the steamy jungles of Vietnam.

As I write I am listening to the chatter of the TV pundits – whom I have long thought of as considerably less intelligent than print media pundits, and tonight’s commentary proves my point – and I am amazed at the shallow analysis of these guys.  They were discussing Mitt Romney’s speech with what I thought was far too much respect, given the fact that most of it was standard Republican prattle: mean spirited and shallow as a dry creek bed.   That is also an apt description of the speeches of Huckabee, Rudi, and Sarah Palin.

           Rabid, Racist, Rudy!

APTOPIX Republican Convention

Freaking out at the Republican Convention


By far Rudy Giuliani was the worst of the lot.  A showoff and pompous Martinet at heart, Giuliani was in his element.  He had the eyes of the world on him, the grandson of Italian peasants who can remember when the blond blue eyed races didn’t consider him “white,” and he intended to make the most of it.  So in a crude and overemotional fashion, much in the way transvestites switch their butts more than real women, Giuliani launched an artless diatribe that exposed him as a shallow charlatan to all but the shrieking idiots in the arena.   He hit all of the traditional Republican talking points and he was especially vicious; which was easy for Rudy since he seems genetically prone to racist behavior.   I was a working journalist in New York City when Giuliani ran for the Mayor’s office against David Dinkins, the first Afro-American elected Mayor of New York in the 360 years that African Americans have lived in that city, and Rudy conducted a racist campaign against him. 

            And when Rudy became Mayor he enacted racist policies that will cripple the progress of black people in New York City for decades. But this is not surprising because during his tenure as the Federal Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he never once brought a racial discrimination case!   Thus as Mayor he knew exactly how to camouflage his racist policies so that they cannot be proven in court.  The main arena in which he did this was in the city’s economic policies.  For in order to bring a discrimination suit against the City for discriminatory practices in contracting, hiring or promotions the city must keep records of who got what according to race and gender so that the offended parties could prove their claim based on public records.  When Giuliani came to office during the reactionary Republican ascendancy he ordered New York City agencies not to keep such records, thereby destroying the evidence of his crimes with no fear that Washington would intervene to enforce the Civil Rights laws.   This is the same man who as a Federal Attorney during the Reagan Administration went down to Haiti under pro-American fascist dictator, ”Baby Doc” Duvalier and reported there were no human rights violations.

As I watched him strutting around the stage like a little Bantam rooster I wondered why he was there at all.  His whole speech was an assault on Senator Obama’s judgment; yet this is a man whose judgment is so bad he recommended a mobbed up thug named Bernard Kerik to his crony George Bush to direct Homeland Security.  And if the FBI had not exposed Kerik’s mob ties we could have this incompetent sociopath heading a vital national agency, just like the guy who headed FEMA, and the whole world witnessed the results of such cronyism in the Bush administration’s response to Katrina.  And where does Rudy get off lecturing Barack Obama about the treatment of women; Barack’s wife says he is a darling of a husband and his children adore him. 

On the other hand Giuliani’s children told the press that they learned their “family values” from their mother.  And his daughter publicly declared herself an Obama supporter when Giuliani was still in the race!  They despise Rudy because of the way he humiliated their mother, Donna, a working television journalist who gave up her career to become Mrs. Giuliani; Rudy repaid her by openly screwing around with that shameless hussy to whom he is now married.  The tawdry red dress she wore as she applauded her Italian stallion was appropriate, for had she come along at an earlier time in the history of this republic she would be wearing a scarlet letter branded on her forehead.  And if Sarah Palin gets her just desserts, she will end up sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap!

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem 2008

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