“In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.” — Fran Lebowitz (h/t to RE Paris)
GOOD RIDDANCE, ANDREW BREITBART
“I’ve never killed a man but I’ve read several obituaries with glee.” — Mark Twain
Andrew Breitbart is dead. The Earth is now a better place.
Like Twain, I don’t care much for gloating when a bad guy dies but in this case, Whoopee!
Gone, Baby, Gone
Breitbart was a character assassin, an amoral ideologue, an agent provocateur, and, well, a dick of the highest order.
Here’s the difference between a warthog like Breitbart and a human being of decency. When Shirley Sherrod heard about his death, she said, “The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time.”
Sherrod: A Gracious Victim
This from a woman whose career serving in government was derailed by a phony-assed, maliciously edited video produced by none other than Mr. Breitbart.
And speaking of phony-assed, maliciously edited videos, it was Breitbart’s airing of the ACORN footage that led to that social service organization’s eventual bankruptcy and demise. Nice work, Andy-baby, pissing on all those folks who need food, housing, and legal services for your own professional advancement.
Naturally, the Republican candidates for president are mourning his passing as though a great public servant is gone from the scene. Rick Santorum calls his death a “huge loss, in my opinion, to our country.” Mitt Romney remembers him as a “loving husband and father.”
“Aw, He Was Such A Nice Guy.”
Reminds me of when any notorious Outfit boss kicked the bucket back in Chicago. No matter that he’d been responsible for corrupting labor unions, forcing the Mob’s way into legitimate businesses, and murdering loan sharks, recalcitrant shopkeepers and potential witnesses, his neighbors would say he was such a nice guy and a real fine family man.
Hey, people, even A. Hitler was kind to his dog Blondi. That doesn’t excuse him for his evil acts.
Anyway, Breitbart — though not Hitler or a capo, but profoundly destructive in his own way — joins such luminaries as J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Curtis LeMay, and Lee Atwater in the pantheon of dead evil Americans.
It’s irrelevant that he was “a loving husband and father.”
“Welcome To Hell, Andy!”
PAYING THE PIPER
Now that Mayor Mark Kruzan doesn’t have to worry about reelection for a while, he can level with Bloomington voters about the state of the city’s finances.
They ain’t good.
Kasey Husk of the Herald Times reports this morning that Kruzan says there are “dark clouds on the horizon” for us.
Potential Cover Shot For Bloomington’s Annual Financial Report
The reason Kruzan waited until now to drop the bomb on us, apparently, is the potential that voters could have blamed him for the economic mess we’re in. That would have been stupid, of course, but then again no one ever accused the electorate, either here or nationally, of being remarkably brilliant.
Smart Enough To Know We’re Not All That Smart
Hell, an entire major political party is fired up by proud anti-intellectualism. (I won’t even link to that party — you can guess which one I mean.)
So no, the city’s empty pockets aren’t Kruzan’s fault.
But we know where the blame primarily lies — all those clever, conniving, duplicitous investment banking house unindicted felons who played our economy for hundred of billions of dollars in fees and bonuses and left it dry.
Check out Michael Lewis’s book, “Liar’s Poker” for an early snapshot of the unregulated, greenback-worshipping, hyenas that populated Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street money-squeezers back in the mid- and late-80s.
Not a one of those reprobates has ever served a minute in jail. Yet guys like Mark Kruzan have to worry that voters may turn on them because of the sins of Wall Street.
We can only hope there is a hell so that Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their aiders and abettors can join Andrew Breitbart in it.
IT’S ALL RELATIVE
With Russia’s presidential election three days away and Vladimir Putin looking like a shoo-in, we’re being inundated by news stories and commentary about what a despot the former KGB spook is. Deep thinkers are howling about how un-democratic the supposedly-now-democratic heart of the former Soviet Union is.
No doubt Putin’s goons have had “meetings” with dissenting journalists, his spies have added a dash of “strychnine” to the soup of neighboring pols or fed polonium pellets to expat whistle blowers, and his PR flacks are hard at work manipulating the minds of Russian couch potatoes.
That’s all true. Plus, Putin is such a charismatic tough guy that when he met the notoriously untraveled George W. Bush, this holy land’s president-at-the-time tumbled into a deep man-crush over him.
Yesterday, though, I caught another side of the story. Former IU writing professor Erlene Stetson and her husband visit us at the Book Corner nearly every day when they’re in town. Her husband was born in Germany and they keep homes in both countries.
The husband — whose name I never catch because we start talking about world events and history immediately, leaving little time for idle chit-chat and social niceties, so let’s call him Mr. Stetson — started ruminating about Putin and Russia.
“It is amazing,” Mr. Stetson said, “how things have changed in Russia.”
He was talking about the Russia of today vis-a-vis that of such sweethearts as Joseph Stalin and his successors.
Mr. Stetson pointed out that even if the Russian press and TV outlets are manipulated and intimidated now and again, they’re still a hundred-fold freer than the old state media apparatus was under the Communist General Secretaries.
He also says the recent mass protests against Putin and Russian voter fraud would never, ever have been tolerated in the Soviet days.
Eastern Europeans of a certain generation view the new Russia in a state of near-awe these days, according to Mr. Stetson. Not that they envy Muscovites and the like, just that the relative relaxation of traditional Russian authoritarianism is so jarring in comparison to the bad old days.
Of course, it’s easy to look good when the object of comparison is a tyranny that, under Stalin, murdered tens of millions of people to maintain discipline, advance ideology, and just for the fun of it.
This reminds me of revisionist historians who decry the so-called Fathers of Our Country for owning slaves and treating women as decorative appendages.
White men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did indeed “own” human beings, including their lovely brides.
Viewed through today’s lens, Washington and Jefferson appear to be monsters.
In their own day, though, the framers of the US Constitution were the most progressive thinkers on the face of the Earth. They eschewed divine authority and legislated nobility out of existence. Yes, the only US citizens that counted were white male land-owners.
But that was a hell of a leap forward from previous social set-ups. We’ve been taking leaps in fits and starts ever since.
As the late, astute Molly Ivins once wrote, “It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”
“The Lord” and Money — perhaps this should be our national anthem.