June 26, 2017

Yes We Cain!


At the top I must admit something: I am a supporter of Herman Cain. I want him to win the Republican nomination. Of course, my primary reason is that I think Barak Obama would beat him easily. But there are other reasons. Obama and Cain are such different characters (and not only politically) that it would create a fascinating race. Obama is thoughtful, sometimes to the point of ponderous, heavy with what the pundits call ‘gravitas’. Cain is breezy, shoot from the hip with what the pundits call ‘retail political skills’. (I first heard the term two months ago when the pundits were claiming Perry had them. Soon everybody on TV was using the term.)

It would also take ‘race’ out of the race. I don’t think you’d see too many Cain supporters carrying little monkey dolls to campaign rallies. And on a societal level it would be mind-boggling. As Howard Stern remarked: ‘If Martin Luther King came back to life he would say: “Whoa! Two Black men running for president?!? That’s a little too much, even for me!” A Presidential race between two black contenders might afford the most positive proof yet about how far America has grown up when it comes to matters concerning race. Perhaps then we could move forward and also deal more maturely with a female presidential candidate.

Or maybe not completely. Making a comparison between political camps Ann Coulter said to Sean Hannity: ‘Our blacks are better than their blacks.” Could you imagine someone saying:“Our Jews are better than their Jews”? And the charges of racism against the harassment claims are ridiculous. If this is a racial ‘high tech lynching’ than the Weiner whirlwind was ‘a high tech pogrom!’

Cain is not the most ignorant of the candidates (in my opinion Bachman and Perry get the low IQ awards) and if intelligence were a factor in the Republican primaries John Huntsman would be leading the pack instead of floating around it somewhere like Banquo’s ghost at the dinner table. Cain is also not the most egregious flip-flopper (Mitt Romney gets that award). Cain’s notorious changes of position are different, taking place over hours or days demonstrating a lack of thoughtfulness rather than a premeditated manipulation. He was a conservative talk show host and conservative radio hosts argue whatever position is in the playbook that day. When it comes to facts, whether its is WMD in Iraq, the shrunken, useless brain of Terry Shiavo, “Lying Louima” or tax cuts raising revenue conservative radio hosts will never admit they were wrong. Tomorrow is another day and another issue to inflame. Herman plays politics by talk radio rules and since most of his supporters are probably also avid listeners its no problem for them.

Early on the pundits were too easy on Cain: His explanations for his position on abortion were impenetrable. I still don’t know whether the electric border fence was a joke or not. And his bafflement over the Palestinian ‘right of return’ baffled even FoxNews, where Chris Wallace tried to help him out by explaining what it meant. Cain’s answer: “Oh, I don’t think the Israelis would have a problem with that!” Oh, really? And his latest gaffe about China ‘s attempt to gain nuclear capability makes one wonder if he also thinks we’d better catch up with the Russkies in the space race!

But later, after they had identified him as amorphous on issues, the media made every statement conform to their pigeonhole. Although I don’t support his 9-9-9 plan at all his apples and oranges explanation about state sales tax made perfect sense to me. The pundits played dumb, making believe they couldn’t understand that state sales taxes would exist either way, with or without a national sales tax. They weren’t part of the plan to adjust FEDERAL taxes. It WAS apples and oranges.

So I am dismayed that these latest charges of sexual harassment could derail the candidacy of polling frontrunner Herman Cain. Or I should say how he has handled those charges. What constitutes sexual harassment can be as relatively innocuous as telling an off color joke or as serious as molestation or coercive rape. Or a lot of noxious things in between. At this point we don’t know where Cain’s transgressions lie on the scale of severity. Still it seems odd to me that Anthony Weiner should be forced to resign over activities that were consensual and provoked no complaint and Cain should be let off the hook for actions and/or comments that were considered inappropriate and inspired serious complaint.

When I was a talk radio host I had an employee come to me, wide-eyed and clearly shocked. One of the on-air hosts, a powerful and popular man had offered her a ride home and on the way he pulled over and began to massage her thigh. He asked if she found him attractive and suggested that if they both were not married might something ‘happen’ between them. She was stunned, uncomfortable around him now and didn’t know how to proceed. I told her she had three options: 1. She could screw him. 2. She could begin the process of legal complaint (and all the negatives that might entail). Or 3. She could just not let herself get into any situation where they were alone ever again. She took a fourth option. As a man I hadn’t thought of it. She used the incident as leverage for her own benefit in the work place, a sort of tacit, teasing blackmail. As far as I can see that choice worked out better than any I had recommended.

I don’t mean to diminish the grievous nature of sexual harassment in the workplace but there is a difference between man-handling someone in the broom closet and saying a hair on a coke can looks like it came from a pubis. There are also different levels of tolerance. And different levels of sophistication. And different levels of dealing with things that make one uncomfortable. In short its difficult to form an opinion about the Cain allegations until one knows just what it was he did. On the other hand, it is entirely justified to believe that the way he has handled the scandal has only magnified the mess.

A friend of mine, one of a vanishing breed of intelligent and thoughtful conservatives asked me to explain Herman Cain’s appeal. I told him that I think a lot of politics these days depends upon emotion. Democrats want someone who will kick ass (Grayson, Weiner, both now gone)…they want their own Chris Christie (or more precisely: a Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt, someone who isn’t afraid to identify enemies and beat them.Grayson and Weiner, maybe because they were only Representatives, always seemed to me to be punching up and not always effectively. Still I cheered. Weiner originated one of my favorite quotes about current politics: ‘The problem with Democrats is that they show up at a knife fight armed with library books.’ Democrats want TOUGH. And that’s one reason Obama has toughened his talk. He’s already demonstrated to independents he can be reasonable. Now he has adopted a more Truman-esque ‘Give ‘em hell’ persona.

If Democrats want TOUGH, Republicans want PERSONALITY (they already have the market on tough!) …thats what Reagan had above all and made his policies more palatable to so many including Reagan Democrats. Who do Republicans have today? McConnell, Cantor, Ryan, Romney–guys who seem cold and robotic or Bohener, who with his crying and tan just seems weird. Palin has personality (not much else) Cain has personality plus (plus a record–I still can’t believe he was on the Federal Reserve!) One might argue that Bachman also has personality but it a forced, unnatural personality, grating after long term exposure–its the packaged responses, the oblivious response to what’s happening around her like a wind up doll with unblinking eyes and pre-recorded answers. Cain has what Reagan had—an easy going affable manner, comfortable in his own skin, a way to communicate simply and an unflappable nature no matter how many times his self-contradictory logic or ‘facts’ are challenged. Its also the ability of a good salesman who can sell 20 Mule Team Borax or the ‘city on the hill’, Domino Pizza or ‘9-9-9.

Or Juiceman Juicers, 1800-MATTRES and progressive politics!

Occupying My Time in NYC

FORMER MEMBER OF THE 1%What took you so long, America?

Over the summer Israel experienced over 50 protests across the country. The demonstrations began with young people camping in tents and quickly mushroomed across the country. Their slogan: “The people demand social justice.” The demonstrators concerns included social and economic fairness, business corruption, the cost of living, regressive tax laws, stagnant wages and income inequality. Finally in early September nearly half a million Israelis took to the streets for the largest demonstration in the history of the nation. 430,000 Israelis were cheered on by others along the avenues and roads of Israel. Proportionately compared to the US population that would equal almost 20 million Americans. And it all began with a few tents camped on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.

Many of these Israelis compared their protests to the ‘Arab Spring’, revolutions that swept the Arab world transforming unjust societies. And of course there were more violent outbreaks in Athens and London as politicians attempted to make the people pay for a financial meltdown created in the boardrooms of financiers and bankers.

You probably saw pictures of the violence in London and Athens. You probably heard news reports about the youthful uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East. And you probably heard next to nothing about Israel because it didn’t fit our corporate media narrative that salutes Israeli bravery fighting terrorism but not Israelis fighting crony capitalism and a corrupted economic and political system.

I’ve not seen one media figure compare Occupy Wall Street to the historic Israeli movement yet I’ve seen many broadcasters anxiously contemplate its explosion into violent riots as in London and Athens. Commentators also compare it to the most silly and frivolous Hippie ‘happenings’ of the Sixties. Many mass movements from anti-war demonstrations to the Tea Party to the Israeli Summer have also been described as having a ‘carnival atmosphere’. When people share serious common cause in large groups they tend to celebrate and celebrate rowdily. Don’t forget the Boston Massacre began as a snowball fight and the Boston Tea Party was a group of rowdy young men half-heartedly dressed up like Indians!

I just returned to Florida from two weeks in NYC. I’m usually busy every day with Kyle or business during my trips to the city but I wanted to be a part of this protest. I’d always said that if the Tea Party would identify the real malefactors, i.e. the unregulated manipulators of our economy and our government, I would join them. Well, they never got to that point. They were almost immediately co-opted by the very corporate and political forces that created our economic crisis. I wanted , in some way, even a small way, to be a part of the Occupy movement.

So I gathered with other OWS protestors at Grand Army Plaza across from The Plaza to march up Fifth Avenue and Park on what was called ‘The Millionaire’s March’. Millionaire's March-Grand Army Plaza This parade had a specific political purpose: protesting Gov Cuomo’s proposed sunset of the New York State millionaire’s surcharge. We would visit the front doors of Rupert Murdoch’s penthouse, then on to David Koch’s apartment on Park and the condos of Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co and hedge fund manager John Paulson, who made billions betting against those Credit Default Swaps. It should have been called ‘The Billionaire’s March’, but poor Jamie Dimon was only worth $200 million. (Actually, I pointed out to a few demonstrators that Mr. Dimon was perhaps the bank CEO LEAST responsible for the meltdown but certainly a suitable candidate for the millionaire’s surcharge).

There were plenty of reporters and cameras around, so many in fact that it seemed every protestor had a chance to talk with them! (And there were about five hundred marchers!) I hadn’t come there to speak but INSIDE EDITION came up with a camera and I did an interview, then a reporter from ABC’s Internet news operation, then a foreign correspondent. I talked about the executives who got hundreds of millions for destroying Merril Lynch, Bear Stearns,AIG and Lehman Bros. I compared the thousands of demonstrators arrested to the zero number of executives who were rewarded rather than face charges. I talked about the inequity of capital gains tax versus tax on labor. Hedge fund billionaires who pay less tax percentage than teachers because of an accounting fluke. The distortion of democracy by corporate lobbying. How capitalism could not survive if Americans did not believe it was a fair system. I wasn’t going to end up on Bill O’Reilly‘s OWS goof reel…at least I hoped not!

What are they protesting!?!?

I kept wondering: ‘If there are no leaders how will we know where to go? When to stop? When to start?!?’ But word filtered down through the crowd that we were all to stay on the sidewalk and follow police instruction. And we did.

Surprisingly, many of my fellow marchers were in their forties or fifties and despite media attempts to portray us as ill informed and clueless I had many conversations with mature well-educated protesters. One couple, immigrants from South Africa interestingly talked about the inspiring social changes in their country, contrasting that inspiration with ours. I didn’t chant with the crowd but did shout out “Lets save capitalism” several times wondering if other marchers knew what I meant. They did. This was no ‘Bolshevik Mob’ storming the Winter Palace.

At one point a minuscule, overweight, Rush Limbaugh mini-me ran to the edge of the march and began shouting at us. “Why do you people hate America?” he ranted. “Why do you hate the Constitution?” Some around me responded that they loved America, that we were enjoying one of our rights under the Constitution by assembling and speaking out. But he would not stop. Now, I have a pretty big voice with a lot of diaphragmatic support from my old acting training and I shouted back loudly (and yes, lamely): ‘Why do you hate Teddy Roosevelt and FDR? American presidents who stood for economic reform! Why do you hate them so much” He started to say: “I don’t hate Teddy Roosevelt and FDR…I don’t hate—wait a minute, I do hate FDR! I hate FDR! I do hate him!” He then scurried away down the street before I could continue our insightful dialogue. Probably late for class at The Cato Institute.

The police were professional, though most smirked sarcastically from the street. Can’t blame ‘em for that…they were probably upset that the ‘liberal media’ yanked Steve Malzberg and Glenn Beck off the air in NYC. When I worked on a conservative talk radio station I was always amazed at how many callers claimed to be cops. Some nights it felt like every third caller was a police officer! (Actually, I would enjoy hearing Steve go over the top describing this movement! No one rants like Steve). When it was time for me to leave one cop shouted: “So you finally had enough of this?” I told him I had to pick up my son from school at 3. But all in all the police did a professional job on a march that extended several blocks and had no marshals or crossing guards of its own.

For that matter, the marchers did a professional job as well.

OUT OF MY MIND…

Have there been any new pop music forms since Grunge? We had Punk, Heavy Metal, Disco, Rap, Hip Hop, Grunge through the seventies and nineties. Have there been any new categories in this new millennium? If not, why is that? Do trance and techno count? I don’t know enough about them to say…….The movie THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is better than alright. Much better: Mark Ruffalo, Annete Benning and Julianne Moore are superb. The kids are alright……..Inconvenient facts that will start some kind of argument if you mention them: The first person murdered on 9/11 was probably a Jew. Among the first terrorists indicted after 9/11 were two Jews who planned to blow up a mosque and assassinate a Republican congressman. The first people arrested after 9/11 were probably Israeli Mossad agents filming and mocking the attack. Try it……Is it just me or does John Boehnor’s skin seem even more orange than usual? And is that mascara or does he just have naturally black rimmed eyelids like the actor who plays Ricardo on ‘LOST’?……Anyone over fifty should read the sci-fi book ‘REPLAY’. I read it everywhere I go. Give it away as a gift on birthdays……INCEPTION is no longer the #1 movie in the US. THE OTHER GUYS made more money this past weekend. I must be the only one finding Will Ferril’s act growing thin. Steve Carrel too for that matter…….What happened to conservative Representative David Drier? A few years ago he was everywhere on the tube— FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC. Then rumors began circulating on line that he was gay and had been living with another man for years. I haven’t seen or heard about him since. Has anyone else? He won re-election in 2008 but took his profile so low he could walk under a door frame (perhaps the door frame to a closet)…… I’ll be back in NYC on August 17th for a week. I can’t wait. The days will get longer, I’m certain…….Why do the days in Florida seem so short?