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Friday, November 02, 2012

OCTOBER SURPRISE: THE SUPERSTORM AND THE 2012 ELECTION 

JAZZMAN CHRONICLES. DISSEMINATE FREELY.


By Jack Random



“I have a job in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics… I have to say, the administration, the president, himself, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them. I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, October 30, 2012


No one can predict what will happen in the final days of a presidential election. Last time around the October surprise was the impending total collapse of Wall Street and the global financial system, a crisis so acute it forced a Republican president to go against a fundamental tenet of his party’s philosophy by advocating a massive financial bailout.

For those whose memories are short, we were on the verge of a catastrophe that went to the very foundation of our economic system. Had it been allowed to unfold (let the markets correct themselves), a worldwide Great Depression would certainly have followed.

Republican John McCain’s muddled response, contrasting with Barrack Obama’s decisive leadership, paved the way to a clear and decisive victory.

In the 2012 election, the crisis came in a different form. As if to remind us that the effects of climate change cannot be denied by political decree, Mother Nature spawned a Super Storm whose breadth and depth of destruction throughout the northeastern seaboard was unprecedented.

Just when we thought climate change would not make an appearance this election cycle, along comes Hurricane Sandy to provide a grim vision of what our willful ignorance can do. And while we cannot with certainty attribute one extreme weather event to global warming, we would be fools not to acknowledge that this is exactly the kind of event climatologist have predicted.

Every Romney supporter who laughed when their candidate belittled the idea of a president fighting the rise of the ocean might now have second thoughts, particularly if they live on the east coast.

Welcome to the new world where catastrophic weather events become more commonplace, more extreme and less predictable.

As our hearts go out to the millions of Americans affected by this storm, the lives and homes lost, the towns and communities decimated and the hardships that will be faced for years to come, our responsibility as citizens compels us to connect these events to the choices we face in the coming election.

Governor Chris Christie of devastated New Jersey rose above partisan politics when he praised President Obama’s quick and decisive response to this catastrophe.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney staged a fake relief event and refused to comment about his previous positions advocating cutbacks in emergency management, handing responsibility to the affected states and privatizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

We all remember what the last Republican president did to FEMA and how miserably that agency responded to Hurricane Katrina.

Candidate Romney is spending his final days of the campaign talking about big change but what he’s really offering is a change back to the policies of George W. Bush. When a president fundamentally does not believe in the role of government, agencies like FEMA, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Protection Agency inevitably decline.

To suggest that a state hit by a disaster and still struggling to climb out of the financial hole created by Republican policies, should somehow manage its own emergencies is flagrantly irresponsible. To suggest that a profit-motivated private corporation would do a better job of emergency management is absurd.

We have already witnessed what private insurance companies did in the wake of Katrina, drawing artificial lines between wind and water damage, finding loopholes and any excuse to deny claims or tie them up in court until wary and beleaguered homeowners are forced to sell out at a loss.

In times of crisis the people deserve and indeed demand an effective federal response to save lives, to mitigate damage and to help rebuild. President Obama is fulfilling that basic governmental responsibility because his administration was prepared for it. He has promised to stay the course and we must hold him to that promise.

That is not the kind of federal response we could expect from a Romney administration. Yes, he would appear on television, he would express his sincere condolences, he would make promises but in the end every state, every community, every homeowner and every individual would be left on their own. When the cameras leave and the coverage fades, the promises would be forgotten.

It is times like these that test the spirit of the nation. It is events like these that touch our hearts and trigger our empathy for our fellow citizens because we know, at another time and place, it could happen to us, to our families and loved ones.

At times like these we are made stronger by our sense of unity and our confidence that our elected leaders will help us to recover and rebuild.

At times like these we know what good government looks like.

It is perhaps unfair that a presidential election should be decided by a single event but when a candidate disavows virtually everything he has campaigned on to hide the fact that his agenda is to maximize the profits of the corporate elite while the rest of the nation pays for it with an age of austerity, then fairness is no longer in the equation.

The polls say the election is a toss-up (at least in the popular vote). I have no reason to doubt their validity. But with four days to Election Day, with the devastation of the Super Storm fresh in our collective consciousness, I believe we will see a clear and decisive victory for the Democrats in the House of Representatives, the United States Senate and in the White House.

Jazz.

JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE BEEN POSTED ON NUMEROUS CITES OF THE WORLDWIDE WEB, INCLUDING THE ALBION MONITOR, BELLACIAO, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, GLOBAL FREE PRESS AND PACIFIC FREE PRESS. SEE WWW.JAZZMANCHRONICLES.BLOGSPOT.COM.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

ALI & OBAMA: THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES 

JAZZMAN CHRONICLES. DISSEMINATE FREELY.





ALI AND OBAMA:
PUGILISM AND THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES


By Jack Random



“It’s gonna be a thrilla and a chilla and a killa, when I get the gorilla in Manila.”

Mohammed Ali


In the world of boxing no one compares to the greatest heavyweight champion of all time: Mohammed Ali. He is remembered for his conversion to Islam and his refusal to be drafted for the Vietnam War (a conscientious objection that would cost him many years of his boxing prime) as well as for his accomplishments in the ring.

As a boxer he is best known for his eighth round knockout of reigning champion George Foreman in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle and for a series of three fights against his nemesis, Smoking Joe Frazier. In the Rumble, Ali debuted rope-a-dope, a strategy of playing possum, planting himself on the ropes, covering his face with his gloves, taking punishing blows without retaliation before emerging to stun his opponent.

In the series of fights against Frazier, Ali displayed the full range of his boxing abilities, including his ability to bounce back from defeat, his resilience, toughness, and his unrivaled ability to take a punch and come back dancing.

For the third and decisive match against Frazier, the Thrilla in Manila, employing rope-a-dope, Ali absorbed blows round after round that would have killed a lesser man, but then he came out dancing like a butterfly, stinging like a bee, winning the match when Frazier could not answer the bell in the fifteenth round.

Mohammed Ali emerged from the Thrilla in Manila a legend, a man who transcended the sport that propelled him to fame. As a boxer, he was the most talented combination of power and speed the heavyweight division has ever known.

Whatever you may think of his policies or philosophy (a progressive moderate who has been attacked as ferociously from the left as from the right), Barrack Obama is to politics what Ali was to boxing.

His oratorical skills beckon the days of Camelot: John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. And in the closed one-on-one quarters of the presidential debates, he has proven as resilient as Ali against Frazier.

In 2008 he out-pointed a formidable opponent in Hillary Clinton during the primaries and handily defeated a badly overmatched John McCain. In 2012 he went up against an aggressive, ever-shifting chameleon, a man completely unbound by his own words, his own campaign pledges, promises and policies.

A stunned and frankly unprepared Obama had little choice but to plant himself against the ropes, cover and absorb the best blows Mitt “Slick Willy” Romney could throw, hoping against hope that the American electorate would understand the duplicity, hypocrisy and deception his opponent was displaying. It was a dirty fight, filled with sucker punches and below the belt shots, but the viewing public either did not understand or did not care. Victory went to the challenger.

Like Ali after the first showdown with Frazier, Obama took his defeat like a man and yearned for a rematch.

In the second debate, Slick Willy seemed convinced he was dealing with a weak and wounded president. He came out of his corner with the same aggressive posture, like a bully in the playground, using the same shape shifting tactics. But this time Obama was prepared. Landing counterpunch after counterpunch, he waited patiently for the chance to land a crushing blow.

The opportunity came mid-debate when Slick Willy circled his opponent, certain he had the president cornered. His campaign managers had telegraphed what they believed would be their candidate’s golden moment: the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an attack that killed our ambassador and three other Americans.

Holding to the conviction that the president had waited fourteen days before calling the event a terrorist attack, when Obama stated that he had used that very term the day after the attack in the White House Rose Garden, Slick Willy closed in for the kill.


ROMNEY: I think [it’s] interesting…the president just said…that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

(Romney stares at the president.)

OBAMA: That’s what I said.

ROMNEY (staring): You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror?

OBAMA: Please proceed, governor.

ROMNEY (to the moderator): I want to make sure we get that on the record because it took the president fourteen days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

MODERATOR: …he did in fact, sir…call it an act of terror….


No amount of spin or obfuscation can erase the stinging blow of that moment. Slick Willy was ill prepared for his own line of attack. He hit the canvas and stayed down for the count. The bully was beaten. He stumbled to his feet and finished the match but the damage was done.

In the final and decisive showdown, Obama danced like a butterfly and stung like a bee, schooling his overmatched opponent on foreign policy like a mentor to a rambunctious youth. Slick Willy was out of his league. He emerged from the event in the never land of Republican denial where up is down, night is day and Slick Willy won the debates. In fact, he never knew what hit him.

From my perspective securely to the left of the president, it is a shame that neither of these candidates was truly held to account. Neither Romney nor Obama has an effective answer to what has come to be known as the China problem. It should be called the Free Trade problem.

Slick Willy is stuck on currency manipulation, otherwise known as the status quo or the Obama approach.

The real and essential solution to the China, India and third world trade problem, a problem that goes to the heart of trade imbalance, job exportation and depressed wages and benefits is Fair Trade: a trade policy that takes the cost of labor fully into account. But that is a line neither of these candidates will ever cross. Their ties to monolithic international corporations are far too tight.

It is worth noting that the only Fair Trade advocates in our government are Democrats. There is not a single Fair Trade Republican in either house of congress. So if you think Slick Willy will get anywhere near the real China problem, you’ve been drinking from the punch bowl of Republican fantasy.

In the end, given the choice we have and not the one we wish we had, Barrack Obama has emerged from these battles the stronger, the wiser and by far the better choice for at least 95% of the American people.

Mohammed Ali emerged from Manila an eternal legend, whose star burned ever brighter when he refused to be a spokesman to the Islamic world for the Bush administration. Whether Obama reaches that lofty status depends on the election and a successful second term.

At this juncture, his challenger’s flaws and shortcomings fully exposed (conviction is a terrible thing to waste), every citizen of this nation and indeed the entire world should be hoping he succeeds.

Jazz.

JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE BEEN POSTED ON NUMEROUS CITES OF THE WORLDWIDE WEB, INCLUDING THE ALBION MONITOR, BELLACIAO, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, GLOBAL FREE PRESS AND PACIFIC FREE PRESS. SEE WWW.JAZZMANCHRONICLES.BLOGSPOT.COM.


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