Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Notes And Observations

1) I see our wonderful governor, the Spoiled Little Bastard, was in the news again yesterday. He apparently has refused to meet with the federal Secretary of Transportation regarding building new rail tunnels under the Hudson to New Jersey because he feels it would be a "waste of time." Why? Because Cuomo wants federal grants, not loans, in order to get the project started, and apparently he has decided, in his infinite wisdom, that there is no point in discussing the matter because only he, Emperor Andrew, has a legitimate view on the subject. This is about the 674th example of why Cuomo is the most arrogant and obnoxious public official in America; the ego that he routinely and proudly displays is, in its own way, truly magnificent to behold, a thing of wonder and amazement that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. This guy, given a chance, would absolutely build a cult of personality like the bozos in North Korea. It's gotten to the point where both nothing that comes out his mouth is surprising anymore--and also where no dose of reality will ever penetrate the wall of ego and self-deceit surrounding that this guy has surrounded himself with. I doubt he ever reflects on the fact that he got merely 54% of the vote last year against one of the lamest candidates a major party has ever nominated for a significant office. I'm sure that it doesn't even register with him that his autobiography, released last year, has barely broken four digits in sales (that's Mein Kampf numbers, for the historically minded, at least until Hitler took power in 1933).
But what really killed me about the news item was Cuomo's assertion that he was "ready to pick up a shovel himself" to get the project started. I actually laughed out loud, because this poster boy for a child of privilege has never done any sort of physical labor in his fucking life. This is a guy who was taken to elementary school in a fucking helicopter, that was handed a federal cabinet post at 28 years old  because of family connections (I wonder how HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo would have reacted if a state governor had refused to meet with him circa 1999), and has shown a stunning and regular lack of knowledge about how the vast majority of New Yorkers actually live their lives on a day-to-day basis. I honestly think that Andrew Cuomo has never used a shovel in his life, or any sort of tool more than a screwdriver, in his entire life.
There are more things wrong with the American political system than can be counted in an hour. But the Spoiled Little Bastard, and other hereditary princes like the Bush brothers and Rand Paul, are near the top of the list of major ailments. I can't stand Donald Trump, because he too occupies the position he does because he largely inherited his position in life from his own father, but I have to say I am truly enjoying the spectacle of him turning the political world upside down. Because these professional politicians need to be tossed aside like yesterday's breakfast, and he's actually doing it. And as much as I hate politics and politicians, I cannot wait until the inevitable Cuomo run for President takes place, whether in 2020 or later--because I am literally chortling with anticipation when he registers minuscule vote totals. He's less appealing than the last New York politician to run for President, lame-ass Rudy Giuliani, and will be hard-pressed to match Rudy's tiny vote totals.
2) The most impressive cock-up, as the Brits say, of our lifetime is taking shape a mere 180 miles from my home, and so far it has largely escaped the notice of our national press. But one of the bloggers that I read daily lives in Philadelphia, and he has been posting nearly daily, with a mixture of disgust and awe at the true stupidity involved, regarding Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the City of Brotherly Love. I, too, cannot believe what I am reading. In the name of security, basically no one within four miles of where the Pope is going to be will be allowed to drive a car--including people that live within that radius. There are absolutely no provisions for any mode of getting into the area except on foot, and those that live in the area basically cannot leave it during the time Francis will be there. And then apparently there is an outer perimeter, too, that will be guarded like a war zone--unbelievable. And Philly will be hosting the Democratic Convention next year, too. I can't wait to see what that is going to look like.
But the point is that if you need more proof that those that rule us or that occupy positions of authority are inaccessible to the vast majority of peons that make up this world, this item will suffice as evidence. The Pope is the head of a church that claims nearly a hundred million adherents in this country, and basically no one is going to be able to get near him, except those with power and influence that can be helicoptered into the area he will be in. I forget what year it was, but when I was a kid, one of the popes--might have been Paul, might have been John Paul--visited the USA and said a Mass at Yankee Stadium, and a few of my relatives that live in New York City attended. There is no way that anyone of my social station will be attending anything that Francis will be doing in Philadelphia--all in the name of "security." What a shame, and what a joke. Our keepers are the real powers in this country, not our elected officials, and not those we look to for spiritual guidance (and this Pope comes closer to walking the walk than any other Pope or other religious leader in my lifetime).
3) Speaking of security... it's been one year since Micheal Brown was executed by a Ferguson police officer, and there have been protests in that unfortunate city marking the anniversary. And just to show that nothing has been learned and that nothing can be learned, the police showed up in riot gear  to confront the crowds, and some knuckleheads in the crowd took advantage of the chaos to start some bullshit of their own, giving the police an excuse to act like Fascists. I am aware, painfully so, that a lot of people are, frankly, incapable of making good decisions, especially when a lot of other people are around them. But I am also aware, more than ever, that the forces of "order" (I'm not going to dignify what happens in this country by saying "law;" more on that in a moment) are engaging, and have been, in a suppression conflict for a long time now. I am glad that I live in a place where the heavy hand of authority isn't quite so blatant--but it's blatant enough so that I have brushed up against it, and have felt fortunate to escape without consequences. I am totally positive that the fact that I am Caucasian is nearly entirely responsible for my not having legal issues after contact with the police... There is still much controversy and debate about what actually happened with Michael Brown. But one thing that was clearly established in the aftermath was just how predatory the Ferguson PD was toward its city--67% of its revenue was derived from fines and fees, and nearly 3/4 of its residents had some interaction with police in the previous three years. No one is really disputing that the police department was and is essentially a shakedown operation. And although the fact that an officer killed someone is more of an attention-grabber, the shakedown operation is actually more insidious and damaging--and probably more widespread across the land.
4) Which leads to this little fact that is only slowly dawning on the rest of us. One positive result of Ferguson is that police conduct everywhere has been subjected to scrutiny like it never has before. And it's hard to escape the conclusion that our police forces, as a general rule, don't behave a lot differently than law enforcement officials in what we like to believe are Third World hellholes. The near-total lack of accountability for their actions is bad enough, but there have to have been two dozen instances that have made national news (and therefore making it likely that this is the tip of the iceberg as far as the ubiquity of the behavior) in the last year of police officers lying, covering up, and conspiring to and actually breaking laws themselves in the name of "order." There has been a tendency for two hundred years for cops' word to be taken at face value in courts and among other authorities--and it is becoming clearer by the day that the credibility given is nearly totally unwarranted. It has gotten to the point where any public account given of what a cop says and does cannot be believed. And it has gotten to the point where any police contact is frightening, not because of legitimate worries about paying consequences for actions, but the uncertainty of whether the guy pulling you over is going to play by the rules with you.
And when you live in a place where you cannot trust authority, you're not living in "the land of the free." And all of you that incessantly spout and repeat the propaganda about American exceptionalism and how great we are can shut up and go away. Because the biggest problem we have is not those that abuse their authority, but those that rationalize and make excuses for those that do so. They are nothing more or less than Quislings and collaborators. And those that abuse their authority couldn't get away with what they do if not for them.

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