June 30, 2009

What's on a Dead Punkers T-Shirt?


Indeed, there are lots of interesting things happening lately; there was the New Haven Firefighter decision (score one for the good guys), the withdrawal of troops from Iraqi cities, support for the burgeoning Honduran dictator, Manuel Zelaya, by our current administration, and a couple celebrity deaths.

I definitely don't feel like writing about Michael Jackson, although I can't resist pointing out how hilarious it is that Al Sharpton is the Jackson Family spokesman. In fact, I don't even feel like writing about Obama this week. I am already sick of him and it is only Tuesday. Sometimes I find it refreshing to take a step back revisit little moments from the past…Moments of significance which really cemented my political views. So let's take a break from the big "O" (and all the noise of the week) and allow me to share a thought or two.

Obviously, if there was ever an early punk rock icon who deserved a movie it was Sid Vicious. I know this kind of thing is a subjective mine field; Johnny Thunders or Iggy Pop both deserve votes. But when it comes to '77 punk, and one individual who would influence punk rock style in a huge way: Sid is it. The hair, the stance, and my favorite - his bass guitar slung way down to his knees, were all elements which would launch a thousand bands and sell a million jars of hair gel.


One of Sid’s t-shirts that made many appearances was his totally giant swastika shirt. The shirt was so much one of his 'trademarks' that it made it onto cartoon versions of him, was printed for posterity on records sleeves, and was seen being worn on documentary footage. Personally, I did not enjoy that shirt as much as Johnny Rotten’s, "I hate Pink Floyd" shirt, but I got the point never the less. While Rotten chose to irritate the tired rock and roll counter-culture of the previous generation, Sid took a jab at the older folks who had only a few decades before fought to rid Europe of the menace which marched under the swastika. Maybe I am giving Sid too much credit...maybe he just thought it looked cool. Who knows?

What is interesting about the swastika shirt is that in the 1986 film "Sid and Nancy", the swastika conspicuously became a hammer and sickle. It is more than a little significant that the producers decided to exchange one murderous totalitarian regime's symbol for another. It is at heart, a clear example of the long standing, double-standard our culture has had concerning these two similar systems.


If we ignore the similarities of these two political systems and judge them separately, calculating sheer genocidal body count, then the Soviet’s hammer and sickle is the clear winner. That symbol presided over a social system which had been executing, purging, and torturing many years before the Nazis even came to power. Lenin instituted terror as a state policy by late 1918 (Hitler was merely an upstart in those days). Later, Hitler openly admired his Communist contemporary, Stalin, for his skill in mass murder and the technical methods of extermination, such as specially designed railway cars. The Soviet Holocaust in Southern Russia and Ukraine in the 1930's was an effective, albeit sloppy precursor (killing between 7-10 million “class enemies”), to the Nazi extermination of the Jews years later.

Yet, somehow Communism and its symbols get 'lesser evil' status in the West. Far beyond some late 80's punk film, we still see this status today. For example, it is an eBay policy that nothing resembling Third Reich paraphernalia can be sold with the exception of items dating from the WWII years. So you can't buy that Hitler statue you always wanted, but you can buy a Lenin or Stalin bust to worship to your hearts content. T-shirt websites have any number of communist inspired shirts and hats. And how many movies have you seen about college kids where the dorm room has a Che Guevara poster in the background? I suppose Nazi Field Marshal Walter Model just doesn't look as cool sporting the monocle as a leftist murder in a beret.


It is far worse than a conspiracy - it is an entire culture which is responsible for this farce. The Left has worked hard to keep the hundred million or so skeletons in its closet. It is the very same culture that made rats out of people in Hollywood who 'named names' when asked to expose known Communists years ago. Certainly they would have been heroes if they named members of a Nazi party. Instead they circled the wagons to protect each other and made martyrs out of those who were guilty. (Today, they are ‘survivors of witch hunts’ while openly admitting to affiliations with Moscow!) Most of all, they minimized the atrocities of one system and obsessed on another - as if Nazism was the one and only personification of evil in a political system - year after year, decade after decade.


As someone who has had relatives killed by both Nazis and Soviets, I can tell you dead is dead. I don't know exactly what the producers of Sid and Nancy were thinking when they swapped out Sid's shirt back in 1986. Maybe they just thought the hammer and sickle looked cooler - but I doubt it. I think they knew exactly what they were doing. It is the acceptable symbol of mass murder. After all these years of a totalitarian double-standard, maybe eBay and other outlets just don’t know any better. It does seem like it has paved the way for Socialism to actually be considered viable in America by many people - and we know what the next train stop after Socialism is…It reminds me of the infamous Khrushchev quote: We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism.

stay tuned, friends....

June 19, 2009

The Great Black Hype?


Few things in life are as excruciatingly boring for me as shoe shopping. I am a guy, after all; I really don't understand needing more than a pair of flip flops and one pair of dress shoes. So when a few weeks ago I was informed that we were going on a shoe shopping expedition, I fought to stay home like a drowning man fights for the waters surface. Okay, that might be over-dramatic, but those of you who know me would attest to the fact that taking me somewhere I don't want to go is like trying to bathe a cat. As usual and despite my protests, I find myself driving into a store parking lot thirty minutes later. It could have been worse. It could have been strictly a shoe store, but this time it was the department store with the big red circle logo and that’s not too awful.

My typical modus operandi in a situation like this is to head straight for the book and magazine section and hunker down until it's time to go. With that in mind, the following blog piece is a typical example of what is going on in my head during times like these. So the next time you see some poor soul with his eyes glazed over in the book section your local department store… it could be me just killing time…

These days it is impossible to escape the avalanche of Barack and Michelle Obama in the print media. From the checkout lines to the book stands, their faces glower from the cover of all kinds of paperbacks, hard covers, special collector’s edition books and magazines, print media of any kind. Not even JFK could have reached this level of (over)exposure but I am not certain they had Black Biker and Needlepoint magazine back then.


Okay...okay...we all get it. He is a our new black… well half- black president and the First Lady has very competent stylists working for her. Because really, if you think about it, when most of these books and magazines came out of the oven, what had Obama really achieved besides being elected and being of multi-racial parents?


I decided to see just what exactly was in these Obama books, and specifically in the half dozen children's books on sale. What better place to see Obama's progressive message without all the smoke and mirrors of 'grown up' politics? Friends, I was utterly amazed.

For my readers familiar with early Soviet propaganda – I will tell you that the similarities were uncanny. If you are not familiar with Soviet propaganda and the "Socialist Realism" style, then you need to go no further then examine the landslide of children's Obama books. All the elements of Socialist Realism are present in terms of its treatment of political leaders. The art form, in this case illustrated books, is created to support the political ideology of Socialism. Naturally, reality and historical facts are always subordinate to the advancement of ideology, and it is important that the work is digestible to the masses. Check and check. In other words, Soviet Socialist Realism and all the Obama books I saw were both very shallow and unashamedly partisan.


While the parallels between the Socialist Realism of the collapsed Soviet State and recent children's books about Obama are stunning (and deserve further examination), I began to see a common theme. Perhaps more than a theme, I noticed a reoccurring presentation of Obama.

The Democrats and the Obama administration have worked hard to give Obama a larger than life image. The Democratic Convention, for instance, was just one of the high points for Obama’s very talented handlers and multi-media wizards to really create the political rock star that Bill Clinton could never have been. For more sober folks, Obama seemed to be coming off ever more like a political demigod. But these children’s books had not so much of a political as a racial demigod.


The presentation of Obama the 'Great Black Hope’ is no secret. It is a combination of his messiah image and the fact that he identifies himself as primarily black. In many of the books I read, the message of Obama as the ultimate expression of the entire Civil Rights Movement is crystal clear. From the Buffalo Soldiers to the Tuskegee Airmen to Martin Luther King, the culmination of the civil rights struggle was Obama’s election. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy - Or so they want our children and us to believe.

(Let us not forget that America’s first black president has a very white mother. It is interesting that he didn’t choose to sell himself by his true racially identity of being of mixed race. To me, that would have made him be the ‘unification of black and white’- but I guess I am just a dreamer... Anyhoo, I think that Obama identifying himself (or allowing himself to be identified) as black says quite a bit about the political landscape of our nation, but I digress.)


What really fascinates me is how the Congressional Black Caucus and their allies - the liberal and solidly Democratic segment of the black community, which claims to speak for all black people, has so firmly hitched their wagon to Obama’s star. It is not surprising, but it is also not without some degree of risk.
Say for instance, Obama turns out to be at worst the harbinger of American Socialism - bankrupting our once great country, and at best an inept boob of a president... Does the entire black community want to share in his disgrace and the responsibility for the disaster left behind by the “Great Black Hope”?


In some ways, American blacks have no choice but to float or sink with the ship. After all, the truth is that most blacks voted for him and most significantly, they were very honest about the fact that they voted for Obama simply because he is black. Polls indicated that ideology was a very distant second. I don't recall any outrage from the Left over voting for someone solely based on race- something that until Obama was considered a serious thought crime. I am not sure that this is exactly what Martin Luther King had in mind all those years ago.


Many of my conservative black friends deeply resent the entire black community being shackled to Obama and his platform. These courageous people are quite used to being told what they should believe by the Congressional Black Caucus and white liberals. They are also quite used to being (mis)spoken for by self-appointed black ‘leaders’. I can’t imagine the guts it takes to speak out against Obama and be black today, however, it does seem to have some benefits: the confused look on a fellow African Americans face when they admit the don’t support Obama – amusing; the shocked look on a white liberals face when they admit they don’t support Obama- PRICELESS!

If the past months of Obama’s presidency are any indication of the next four years, and the Great Black Hope turns out to be the Great Black Hype, there will be a lot of disappointed children, particularly non-white, who are being victimized by the New Socialist Realism in the books they are reading. And a whole lot of disappointed adults, of all races, who are being victimized by political rock stardom. (The Congressional Black Caucus will suddenly remember Obama is only half black and scramble to find a ‘truly’ black candidate to ‘really’ make history) At that point, the black conservative opposition will have an opportunity to offer a real alternative and a huge role to play in the Republican Party we rebuild together. And maybe, just maybe, my daughter will be reading books about black heroes like Thomas Sowell and Ward Connerly. Well, I did mention I was a dreamer…one who hates shoe shopping.

Post script! My friend Mary over on Myspace sent me a link to some actual Obama shoes! You must see this to believe it:




June 2, 2009

A Bishop, Rush Limbaugh, and Mr. Howell walk into a bar...

The Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “There are not a hundred people in the world who hate the Catholic Church, but there are thousands who hate what they mistakenly believe the Catholic Church to be”. Naturally, as a ‘statue worshiping, Mary-loving, papist’ myself, I agree with Bishop Sheen’s statements directed at anti-Catholics, but the general idea about ignorance can also be applied to the political realm.

If we substitute Conservatism for the Catholic Church we arrive at one of the larger hurdles we face today: There are thousands who hate what they mistakenly believe Conservatism (and conservatives) to be.

An example of mistaken perceptions is a typical episode from my not-so distant past…

The Image of an "open-minded" liberal

Setting: a beat-up hatchback with the obsequious "Fight Racism" and "Mean People Suck" bumper stickers across the back window. A conversation between the driver and passenger is turning political while the Smiths "Louder than Bombs" jangles in the background...It is here we find our hero sitting in the back seat, slightly buzzed, when some words catch his attention...

Driver (twenty-something female, vegetarian, dressed in black skirt, with black eyeliner): "...(inaudible)...closed-minded bigots like Rush Limbaugh."

Passenger (twenty-something female, very short and dyed hair, nose ring): “ oh Gawd…he’s terrible!”

Me (twenty-something male, cigarette ash-stained jeans, scraggly hair): “Did you say Rush Limbaugh?”

Passenger: “…ya…you know…loudmouth, racist or something…”

Me: “so you guys listened to his talk show?”

Passenger offended: “Are you serious?”

Driver laughing: “I wouldn’t listen to assholes like that!”

Me: “So neither of you have ever actually listened to him, but you are calling him terrible and a racist? Ok…that seems kind of prejudiced if you ask me…”

Both women look at each other as the track “William, It Was Really Nothing” ends.

Driver slightly annoyed: “Everyone knows what he’s about!”

Me smiling: “ Everyone but you two…you said yourself you wouldn’t listen to someone like that…but you’ll take someone else’s word for it…hm…sounds…”

Driver: “sounds what?”

Me sarcastically: “…really open-minded to me…”

I light a cigarette and slump back in my seat.

Me quietly: “My work here is done.”

Obviously, the question is how does this happen? How is the Left able to so effectively control people’s perceptions about conservatives and Conservatism? Certainly, there are the long and complex answers…the root historical causes like the Soviet infiltration of and influence on: the American labor movements, the Roosevelt administration, and the various ‘60’s peace and liberation movements – all of which we know to be true thanks to the recent access of Soviet archives.

Soviet Archive Logo

Combine all of this with the entrenchment of liberalism in university faculties, multi-culturalism, historical revisionists…and the election of Obama starts to makes sense – not to mention who the culprits are in skewering perceptions of Conservatism. Unfortunately, a Republican party drifting away from Conservatism has been ill-suited to counter this cradle to grave indoctrination.

But there is also a simple answer to the negative perceptions about Conservatism. The liberal viewpoint is readily accessible. There is an effective liberal activist element which, evolving with the news and entertainment industries, created a ‘Leftist Orthodoxy’ for popular culture (called counter-culture when convenient). Considering that the news media is predominately left of center, one can be assured that the proper liberal viewpoint will always accompany any news event. One can also be assured that a conservative viewpoint will either be misrepresented or silenced all together.

The liberal viewpoint continues to bombard people from the entertainment side of the media – sometimes in creative ways, sometimes subtly, but most of the time not. Fiction and comedy-news shows all work well to reinforce the party line. Often characters we are supposed to identify with are liberals and it is the ‘Default Viewpoint’ of America as reflected by Hollywood (but most often not by reality).

Hold on... Mr.Howell never drove a pick-up with a gun rack!

Not content to preaching their own message, the Left has always made shaping perceptions about Conservatism a priority. They go back and forth between portraying us as bitter rednecks, clinging to our ‘bibles and guns”, or country club trust-fund babies, like Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island, and my favorite, the fat-cat industrialists polluting their way to profits while running over baby seals in their SUV. Naturally, the stereotype changes to fit whatever issue or circumstance may arise.

Marching off to work at a State-run Auto Factory

Indeed, our liberal friends learn about us from other liberals. Sound bites, stereotypes, and top-down directives from the Democrat Party HQ - such is the ‘ideologically incestuous’ nature of the Left. I am not making any novel revelations when I say most die-hard liberals have a political viewpoint based on misconception, emotion, and intention – it is a tough nut to crack. Luckily, most conservatives I know are bright enough to discern the inherent liberal bias in the barrage of information we all see and hear.

What should concern us, however, are the average people - the mass of folks caught in the middle - who might be apolitical most of the time, who consider themselves moderate, who love their family and country and (this is the scary part) are getting their perception of Conservatism from the Left!

It is certainly true that these people helped Obama become president. They also happen to be the best hope Conservatism has to take back the Republican Party and the country. Disillusion with Obama is already growing, but as long as people continue to learn about Conservatism from Liberals it will amount to nada in the worst case and cynicism in the best. (*Cynicism is not much better. The older I get the more I see cynicism as creative cowardice).

Hope-nosis is beginning to wear off

So the Obama gang simply harvested a crop of votes that they have been cultivating for decades and fertilized with a slick multi-media campaign controlling both sides of the debate. In a sense, the actions of average folks trying to survive tough times are understandable. But now the war for hearts and minds is critical. Taking control of our message and shaping perceptions should be our central priority. After all, it is one thing to have the Left lie to the average citizen about who they are…but when will we stop letting the liberals tell the folks who we as conservatives are?

Stay tuned and subscribe...