Sunday, September 28, 2014


So now they expect you to reward them. The most unproductive, polarized, ineffective, and despised Congress in American history has abandoned the nation's business in order to focus on convincing you that they are worthy of your support for reelection. After a five week summer recess and a grueling eight days back in session, the congressional Republicans just said, "fuck it," and lit out for the territories, leaving trivial matters of war and peace to wait until after the midterm elections. Indulge me in a hypothesis. Let's say that you are the personnel manager of a large hospital, and right in the middle of a measles outbreak, all your employees decided to return home to prepare for their performance reviews. When they came back after the rubella epidemic had worsened, would you rehire them?

And yet, the noise on the right has grown so deafening, they think they're winning. Republicans are as confident as Mitt Romney on election night. The hammer-locked Congress, led by the fearsome tag-team of "Blubbering John" Boehner and Mitch "The Obamacare Assassin" McConnell, don't even realize that their strategy of destroying the President at the expense of the country hasn't worked. Even after Obama's reelection and Eric Cantor's loss, they still didn't get the message and continued with their destructive agenda. The goose-stepping Congressional Republicans have obstructed, delayed, blocked, and filibustered every single initiative offered by the President, costing countless numbers of desperately-needed jobs, and now they want your vote. Republicans have loudly criticized the president for taking executive actions and then leave town during an international crisis, abdicating their Constitutional responsibilities to discuss the use of force. The British Parliament's debate was fascinating, but Congressman Bubba from Birmingham can't be called away from his fish fry. There are donors hands to shake. Can you imagine if John McCain and Sarah Palin were elected in 2012? We'd be dropping nukes on the Kremlin screaming, "We're all Ukrainians now," although recent events have shown we may have used the Palin family type of fistfight diplomacy first.

While Obama was securing a unanimous vote in the UN Security Council to crack down on foreign fighters joining ISIS, only the second U.S. President in history to chair such a committee, right-wing media exploded in outrage over his inadvertent salute to a marine while holding a coffee cup. Fox News went wild with indignation, even though this militaristic gesture of saluting while exiting a helicopter was initiated only thirty years ago by the Hollywood warrior, Ronald Reagan. Then, the usual Fox suspects exulted at the resignation of Eric Holder like the 7th Cavalry claiming a scalp, while vilifying the Attorney General for his presumed "racial favoritism." Holder once said that when it comes to discussing matters of race, we are "a nation of cowards." His choice of words may have been combative, but he was right. Or, maybe half-right. We don't discuss race across color lines, but that never stopped the Caucasian Party from discussing it amongst themselves. To believe the GOP, you'd think that roving gangs of displaced Acorn volunteers and welfare cheats were conspiring to vote under false names to steal the next election. Just listen to their rhetoric;  A Fox News host said that Eric Holder was, "one of the most in America," who, "ran the Department of Justice much like the Black Panthers would." The morally bankrupt Dick Cheney claimed Obama "would much rather spend money on food stamps...than defending our troops." And Old Faithful, Sarah Palin, telling a recent audience how to combat liberals who "scream racism just to end debate," uttered this gem: "Well, don't retreat. You reload with truth, which I know is an endangered species at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue." Her verbal bomb fell about two blocks short of its target.

For the sake of sane government, these right-wing obstructionists are richly deserving of being swept from office. If they can't win fairly, they cheat. They demand new documentation as a condition for voting, they restrict days and hours to make it difficult for the poor to vote, they gerrymander districts to insure a Republican majority, and they lie. All the time. In these dark days, what we are witnessing is the last gasp of white supremacy in this nation. That's what all this "we want our country back" stuff is about. But the GOP is willing to burn down the country club before they'll admit any of these mixed-race aliens into their midst. Largely based in the South, the Republican Party is now the last bastion of the old Confederate mentality. Regardless of who controls the Congress in 2014 or even wins the presidency in 2016, this is the last spasm of the philosophy of white entitlement.  Ultimately, leaders will come along to see the value of diversity and replace the agenda-driven, politicized, corporate-owned Justices on the Supreme Court and restore honor to the term "public servant." No time soon, however. The Fox News demographic may be aging, but not fast enough. Die-hard viewers of the corporate propaganda outlet still think Obama is the Anti-Christ.

Monday, September 15, 2014

ISIL Schmisil

A few months ago, no one outside of the defense establishment had ever heard of ISIS, but now that the President has offered a strategy to combat these barbaric psychopaths, the right-wing geniuses in congress and every talking blonde-head on Fox News has suddenly become an expert on Middle Eastern foreign policy. It's clear that the terrorist organization has become an existential threat to the US. Recently, an ISIS leader paraphrased George W. Bush, saying, "You are either with us or we will kill you." Their savagery has again taken this nation back into a sectarian war, and if that is the case, the reactionary Obama haters need to sit down and shut up. When the criminal Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses, he was at least given the courtesy of bipartisan support before his lies were exposed. No such support for Obama. An editorial appeared in the New York Times, composed by John McCain and Lindsay Graham, the Abbott and Costello of warmongers, goading the president into stronger action, including more American troops on the ground. After Obama's televised address outlining plans for assembling a coalition to join the fight, a speech, by the way, which could easily have been given by G. Dubya, Lindsay Graham ran to Fox News Sunday and said, "Our strategy will fail yet again. The president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed here at home."

The 'Bama-bashers first took issue with the president for using the term ISIL, instead if ISIS. I was baffled too and had to Google it for myself. So, ISIS means the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Which raises another question- Levant is an antiquated term used mainly by archaeologists, meaning the area currently in conflict, but also including Palestine and Israel. The apocalyptic conspiratorialists went blotto claiming Obama had a hidden agenda. One end-of-times website said, "When Obama refers to the Islamic State as ISIL, he is sending a message to Muslims all over the Middle East that he personally does not recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, but as territory belonging to the Islamic State... Obama's ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel." Really? Another article credited to the Fox News Staff joined the argument over the president's choice of words. A massive mob of jihadist maniacs are running wild in Iraq and Syria, committing mass killings, public executions, beheadings, and crucifixions, and the conservative crazies over at Fox are arguing over semantics. Meanwhile, Obama has killed more terrorists than sand fleas and crotch rot.

These three gruesome videos of a knife-wielding, British-sounding ISIS terrorist, who will soon be known as "ashes in a keffiyeh," are meant to goad the West into sending in ground troops as targets. Aside from our Special Forces who, to no one's surprise, are already there, these savages aren't worth sacrificing a single troop. In this case, Obama's strategy is correct- use air strikes and drone the hell out of them. Recently, I viewed a video online that was either leaked or classified because it was quickly taken down. It showed the view from a US helicopter warship over a camp of ISIS killers, scurrying like rats in a barn while being targeted and blown to hell by our military. I must admit, it was the most engrossing thing I've seen online in a while. We have the technology to halt the advances of this group of disaffected men without women, but the need for ground troops is the subject of the current Paris Conference. Muslim countries need to combat this threat directly, but the cavalry isn't coming- not from our dear friends the Saudis, or the Turks, or the United Arab Emirates- the "Coalition of the Threatened." Our military claims that an army of Sunni Muslims is necessary to fight the Sunni dominated ISIS militia who were left jobless after we disbanded the Iraqi army. Of course, since that army belonged to Saddam Hussein, they had to go. Now, they're back and they're enraged and insane.

Y'all know me. I'm a leftist peace-nick. There hasn't been a war since Vietnam that I haven't opposed. But these thrill-killers are a different animal. This is a moral issue. Remember the first Gulf War after Iraq invaded Kuwait and Poppy Bush drew a line in the sand? You could question the motives for the war, but not the conduct of the operation. Under the direction of General "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf, a force of 675,000 troops from twenty-eight countries was assembled to fight Saddam Hussein's brutally loyal Republican Guard. After getting their asses kicked out of Kuwait, the Iraqi army retreated in a single-file column, making it easy for US fighter jets to transform them into one long smoking strip of bacon in the desert, the final indignation for non-pork eaters. I've noticed the same single-file progression of ISIS through Iraq. Perhaps the Schwarzkopf strategy can be dusted off one more time and air strikes could be used to create even more lines of crispy critters in the sand. Better still, the CIA could start a blood feud between ISIS and Al Qaeda and let them shoot it out among themselves. There is no negotiating with someone missing their soul. It may come as a surprise, but this pacifist says, "smoke 'em." Nothing deters a terrorist quite like death.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Renamed, Renewed, and Recycled

It's way past time for a name change of this effort. Originally, I had created the term "Born-Again Hippies" not for a blog title, but for the radio. I was doing a program called, "The Psychedelicatessen" for the community station, playing protest music from the 60s, and I began to get a lot of response from young people. Once, after playing an anti-war song, I pontificated, "Old men make wars for young men to die in," and the phone rang. It was a man in his 20s, choking back emotion, while saying, "I feel like you're the only person on the radio that cares about us." Calls and email arrived from Vietnam veterans encouraging me to continue speaking out about the Bush wars. I began the radio show for fun and nostalgia, but the deeper the Bush administration dragged us into war, the more relevant the old music became. The station's director asked me to stop all political commentary  under threat of cancellation- and I tried. I thought I could get my point across with the music alone, but then Hurricane Katrina struck. I felt that if I had a platform, regardless of how small, and I failed to use it, then that  would make me a coward. So, partly out of the necessity to express my outrage over the drowning of New Orleans, and partly because I was under the delusion that I was becoming the leader of a new youth movement, I went off on the radio- big time. I announced the formation of "Born-Again Hippies" as a plea for the Woodstock generation to reawaken their social conscience and as a cause around which young people might rally. My show was cancelled and I was fired from my free job. I was urged by friends to continue to express myself, and the "Born-Again Hippie" blog was born.

In my career as a musician, I've taken particular pride in some of the more demented band names I've invented. I've had two working bands called The Hired Hands, and Holy Cow, but have also performed under the monikers: Chest Pains, The Moodbusters, The Disco Nazis, Feedbag, and Jerry's Kids. I imagined that "Born-Again Hippies" was clever, and it may have been for a rock band, but not for journalistic purposes. Perhaps my intent would have been better conveyed by a name like Reawakened Hippies or something similar. But in my desire to come up with something catchy, I neglected to consider the implications of the term "Born again" in an opinion blog. I can imagine that these posts would be a great disappointment to someone who did a Google search on the title, hoping to find an evangelical support group for aging acid freaks, and ended up with me. Also, the "Born-Again" part was discouraging potential readers who instinctively believed that this was an evangelical, religion-based forum. So after much consideration, it's time for a blog makeover; including the name, design, and fonts. We even threw in the undercoating for free. In other words, we can pledge to you that the newly christened "Recycled Hippies," will be the same old shit, only more of it.

Not to worry, your favorite Born-Again Hippies posts will remain on the net in perpetuity- possibly longer. I only wish I had thought of this 280 articles ago. Even with a new name, this blog is now nine years old. If I can keep it up a few more years, lord willing and the creeks don't rise, maybe we'll throw a big Bar Mitzvah bash for this bad boy. The funny thing is, looking back over nearly a decade of opinions, the only time I've been wrong was my belief that Al Gore would be president. Of course, that's on him for not running again and instead focusing on getting rich. I wrote an article about it called "Al Gore Broke My Heart." You could look it up. I did accurately say, when the coronation of Hillary Clinton as Democratic nominee was taking place in early 2008, that it wasn't going to happen. Here's another prediction that you can check up on in a couple of years: Hillary Clinton will never be  president. Maybe this deserves an article of its own, but I believe that the nation has moved on. Of course, I eagerly await the election of a woman to this country's highest office- Elizabeth Warren. Two years is a long time for another Hillary coronation, and enough time for other formidable candidates to emerge. Warren claims she will not run. Lots of people have claimed that.

Lastly, I will remain a staunch defender of this president as long as the irrational, untrue, bombastic, and hate-filled remarks of the hysterical right are launched over the airwaves. Fox News and right-wing talk radio peddle fear and hatred, pure and simple. Has anyone been assigned a government-appointed doctor yet? How about the "death panels?" Anyone refused an operation because they're too old or sick? It was all bullshit from the president's political opponents and the Koch-backed Tea Party, who unwittingly did the bidding of the same people who are raiding the national treasury. The Obama administration made the same semantic mistake that I did. The Affordable Care Act was never about healthcare reform, it was about insurance reform. If they had sold it that way, who could have sided with the heartless, soulless, insurance company death panels?

The misplaced outrage over Obamacare helped usher in a whole slate of Republican governors and state legislatures. And what was the result? Local and state governmental focus, across the country, shifted from jobs and the economy to abortion restrictions, relaxation on gun sales, and hampering minorities and the poor from voting. Of the five Republican governors touted as possible 2014 presidential candidates, three are under investigation (Christie, Walker, and Scott), one has been indicted (Perry), and one has been convicted (Bob McDonnell). The same governing philosophy has infected numerous other states, including Tennessee. CSNBC has compiled a list of the worst states in which to live, and the Volunteer State came in at #1. We're #1! Among the reasons listed were the poor health of the state's citizens, including high rates of diabetes and obesity. And guess who's blocking the available expansion of Medicaid to the poor? You got it, Governor Bill Haslam. This means that the state pays more in taxes to subsidize the program elsewhere, and in real terms, poor people will die because of ignorant, spiteful, governmental obstinance- all directed at Barack Obama. The only way to right the ship is to sweep these ideologues from office, but the right-wing fog machine is clouding the picture and causing static in the message. How do you like me so far?