Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Red Pencils and Blue Pencils: Of Slavery and Bondage

My favorite Maryland Republican, Michael Steele (above), chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), has been in the news again.

First, on the weekend of the final House of Representatives vote on health care reform, when Tea-Party activists verbally attacked Democrats entering the Halls of Congress to vote yelling out racial and homophobic epithets, Mr. Steele, an African American, failed to strongly condemn such behavior instead just labeling such people as "stupid." And this against the background of the long history of violence and hatred displayed at times in this country in the past.

Need Mr. Steele be reminded of the slavery, Jim Crow, fiery crosses and the Ku Klux Clan? The same weekend featured a number of instances of vandalism against the offices of congressman, apparently both Democratic and Republican as violence, even if just (so far) against property reared its head.

Second, Steele and his personal expenses for February, as revealed by the Federal Election Committee last week, totaled $17,514 and $12,681, respectively, for the use of private planes and private cars. And the RNC are reportedly in trouble for authorizing an undisclosed Republican's expenses of $1,946 spent at a California nightclub known as Voyeur West Hollywood that specializes in bondage and simulated lesbian sex.

A spokesperson assured the media that the person whose expenses were covered, and who will now be made to reimburse the RNC, was not Mr. Steele himself. Well, that's a relief. (Subsequently, it was revealed that the man who billed the RNC for their time at the club was Erik Brown, an Orange County, California GOP donor-vendor. Should we say, "Good work, Brownie"? The RNC staffer who paid Brown was fired by Michael Steele.)

Bottom line is, the GOP operatives have been enjoying themselves while the country faces serious issues. Remember this is the party that speaks about "Family Values" and fiscal responsibility. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

The U.S. Capitol in 1829 with the copper dome designed by architect Charles Bulfinch. H. and J. Stokes, after Charles Bulfinch "United States Capitol," The Jackson Wreath. Philadelphia: Jacob Maas, 1829, p. 87.

In regard to where hateful rhetoric can lead, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist Eugene Robinson has an excellent column in today's Post, "Where the rhetoric of rage can lead." Check it out by clicking on the title above.

As a War of 1812 historian, I am reminded of the savagery of pro-war Baltimoreans against anti-war Federalists in the streets of the city in the summer of 1812 after President James Madison declared war on the British. A man who when I got into research on the war appeared to me somewhat of a hero because as a private in the 27th Regiment at North Point on September 12, 1814, made a statement that appears consistent with some of the nasty rhetoric we are hearing these days. Levi Hollingsworth, who owned the copperworks on the Gunpowder River where the copper for the Bulfinch Dome on the restored 1830's U.S. Capitol was made after the then Capitol buildings was burned by the British in August 1814, remarked about Federalist tortured and killed by the mob "They deserved it." Are such incidents and such sentiments the price of democracy? I hope not.

Meanwhile, talking about democracy Google has removed itself from Red China after the hopes of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who grew up in his native Russia under the Soviet Communist regime, to liberalize China through the internet were dashed after the Red Chinese hacked into Google to trace dissidents.

China continues to use strong arm tactics against anyone who opposes the regime despite the hopes of Brin and even Bill Clinton that the Internet might help open up the country. The former President reportedly in 2000 mocked Chinese attempts to control the Internet, "Good luck. That's sort of like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall."

And Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. . . .

Image and Words

Sometimes image comes first and words follow,
stumbling along in the wake of the eye candy.

Here are March raindrops I captured for you,
the photographer drenched in the downpour.

Was it worth it, a few words dripped on the page:
image to startle the eye, words to tickle the mind.

Christopher T. George

Of Asteroids and Asterisks

Health care got enacted and as Barack declared,
the earth didn't chasm, nor did asteroids attack us
tho' GOP eyes rolled and Obamacare's foes groaned.

Soon all those i's will be dotted and asterisks added
as the wheels of government creak into motion.

The new GOP cry has become "Repeal and Replace!"
But heading to November's polls, they best save face
-- to repeal the new reforms might bring more disgrace.

Christopher T. George

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