Monday, May 10, 2010

Personal Aside: Obama’s Hollywood-Style Cool.

  Feast of Saint Damian de Veuster of Molaki.* 
       Drama continues to surround the man I not long ago described as the worst president of the United States—less patriotic, far less interested in U. S. well being…more of a mystery (his school papers under lock and key) than the forty-three who preceded him. He embodies only one trait: Hollywood-style cool which increasingly has become endearing to U. S. voters (beginning with JFK).  You caught a good taste of Hollywood Cool when he appeared, teleprompter and all, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner where he slayed `em…I mean slayed `em…with his cool—while professional entertainer Jay Leno (who’s anything BUT cool) looked on with admiration. That Hollywood style cool enabled Obama to campaign as a reasonable moderate but who now governs from the decided Left.  
                             “Prof. Hill” the  Music Man. 
      More than anyone else, Barack Obama resembles the fictional “Prof. Harold Hill” in the musical The Music Man.   It is 1912. He blows into a midwest town, gathers a vast following with a pledge to build a Boys’ Band, with instruments, new uniforms and Hill’s special quick way of teaching them to play together like John Philip Sousa’s Marine aggregation with hardly any practices. But the “professor” moniker is invented and Hill is a musical illiterate. 
       The plan is to collect money from the gullible townspeople for boys’ band uniforms and instruments and then skip town as the supplies arrive COD—Hill to amass a tidy fraudulent profit as he already has in other smallish towns .  
                               The Eternal Teen-Ager. 
          Similarities: In the campaign Obama—a man of largely unknown origins--reared for the most part in Indonesia, his papers at Occidental, Harvard and the University of Chicago under lock and key—took America down a perfumed road: promises involving healthcare,education loans, amnesty, cap and trade.  
                 All wrapped up in a pretty  bow, example: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.  Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes; not any of your taxes!”[Italics mine].   It was a true “Prof. Harold Hill” hoax. His 2009 budget repeals the Bush tax cuts on people making $200,000 and couples $250,000, hiking the 33% bracket to 35% and the  29.6% to 35%.  
       Further on in the campaign, Obama pledged this: “We will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 a year. This will eliminate taxes for 7 million seniors—saving them an average of $1,400 a year—and will also mean the 27 million seniors will not need to file an income tax at all.”  Nothing has been heard of this provision since the campaign ended and there is no plan whatsoever to implement it. Indeed his budgeters say it’s entirely impractical.
       Someone once said Obama’s like the eternal teenager who points to this-and-that which he wants but doesn’t pay for. A super-dooper Obama-Burger menu in a fast-food restaurant would advertise: 
      You can order everything you want and the guy behind you has to pay  for it.   
                                   Back to “The  Music Man.” 
         The Music Man ends when Hill falls in love with the town’s librarian: Marian the Librarian who has been on to him from the start.  
      He scrubs plans to board the train for his getaway. So he is arrested for fraud. But in the distance can be heard the excited kids playing their instruments—badly: but happy with them!  The townspeople are so entranced on hearing their kids try to play the music that they forgive “Prof. Hill.” And the town constable releases him into the loving hands of his girl Marian who forgives him and all is beatific.  He is forgiven as a lovable fraud.  
                                 Springfield (Ill.) Holding the Bag. 
         Not so with this fraudulent presidential salesman, however.  For one thing albeit a minor note, Obama’s campaign still owes the city of Springfield, Ill. $55,547 for municipal expenses accrued for his mega-style national announcement rally held Feb. 10, 2007.   
        It was a splendiferous event, held at the Old State Capitol where Lincoln made his famous “House Divided” speech.  It was a David Axelrod-style beginning for a memorable campaign: scarcely a dry eye in the national press corps after he finished evoking Lincoln and himself.  A small down-payment on the bill has been made—but Ernie Slottag, the city of Springfield’s accountant says he’s still awaiting full payment. Something tells me Ernie Slottag will wait a long time.   
          The money owed Springfield is paltry by governmental standards—but that’s by far not the most serious thing to happen to Obama. His and his party’s numbers have plummeted as result of  his pushing national health care down the gagging throat of a populace, the majority of which despises it.  The numbers are plummeting because it is clear that the bills likely will have to be paid by a European-style VAT tax where consumers, particularly the poor, will be hit by taxes at every stage of a transaction. 
                             “Transparency” and Lobbyist Reform?  
           His and his party’s popularity have so cratered that the Democrats are worse off in the polls than at any previous time in the past 50 years.  This is in part because his so-called “reform” campaign has been a tissue of lies. He vowed to end no-bid contracts above $25,000 which has been discovered by the media to be fraudulent…Also at least five days allowed for public comment rather than to rush bills through Congress before the people had a chance to review them and to have all discussions on C-SPAN.  It became a laughingstock with his national health care program when Speaker Pelosi blurted out that “once we pass this thing and people have a chance to see what’s in it, they will like it!”  
         The bottom is dropping out of Obama/“Prof. Hill’s” music satchel because he promised tougher rules against revolving door cynicism of lobbyists moving into government and back to private lobbying again: “No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years.  And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.” 
        What a joke! Goldman Sachs, the investment bank under purported withering fire from Obama, just hired his until very recently White House general counsel to lobby for them—Gregory Craig. Just think: the man who knows more insiders in the White House than almost anybody else will be prowling its corridors working in behalf of his corporate client…while Obama excoriates Wall Street to the media.  
         This “Music Man” even broke campaign promises before he was elected. He pledged to accept public financing after nomination so as to eschew “big time contributors.”  When he discovered he could do much better with big time contributors than limitations and federal bucks, he turned tail on his earlier promise.  Outrageously after election and re-garbing himself in the toga of reformer, he hypocritically shook his finger at the Supreme Court from the dais at the last State-of-the-Union for rolling back some public-financing rules.  
          The Court’s sin?  Rejecting the idea that government officials can micromanage speech and pick favorites among political funders—returning to what was always had done in U.S. history before McCain-Feingold usurped the Constitution.
                  Grabbing Car Companies Without Approval   
          Speaking of the Constitution, Obama moved without congressional approval to nationalize two of the nation’s Big Three automobile companies—and also imposing specific wage ceilings on employees at banks taking bailout money…as well as his making the government the direct provider of student loans by hiding that significant change in public policy inside the mammoth health bill. 
        One unredeemed pledge was good. He  promised to close Guantanamo within a year but couldn’t find any takers for the terrorist bad guys—so it stays open. His Barbados-born attorney general announced Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be tried in a civilian New York city court which was unpopular all-round.  But Eric Holder did read  “Miranda rights”…designed for U. S. citizens only…to the Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a native of Nigeria—as Obama told the nation Abdulmatallab was “an isolated extremist” rather than the truth: he was a trained al Qaeda operative.   
        His pledge to provide an “open handed” diplomacy, produced a deep, low bow to the Emperor of Japan and a supine “reaching out” to Hugo Chavez, Cuba, Libya, Syria and Iran.   There was a smack-down to Poland, our ally in eastern Europe, by withdrawing missiles.  All these violated concepts he supposedly stood for in the campaign.   
          Ah but there has been one promise and premise that seemed viable—until now.         
                   The One Promise Transcending All Others. 
          It was the promise…and premise…that the first black president could help heal racial wounds that existed in this country ever since the civil rights melees of the `60s…the bitterness with forced busing and affirmative action in the `70s.  It was a bitterness that continued through the generations since the Civil War—including the disastrous Great Society of LBJ which  produced fatherless households in our urban areas and chaotic non-family groupings headed by overworked and exhausted single mothers.  
         Those post-civil rights years transformed Boston into a near Belfast and my Chicago from a city of ethnic neighborhoods into miles-long tracts and cordons of racial animosity, neighborhoods turning into “Sides”—and “Corridors.” The black South Side, the black and Latino West Side etc.  
          It seemed that if anyone could provide racial healing it would be Obama.      
          But no, that last premise-promise has been broken into shards.  
           With November 2010 looming and a possible loss of many Democratic seats…threatening his reelection in 2012…Obama and his Squid allies have decided it’s time to play the race card. 
            And so he storms across the country using race and immigration as a draw—calling  on…get this…”young people, African Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008” to “stand together once again!” So much for bringing the country together.
                      Immigration “Reform” to be the Cry.
            The key incitement to left-wing voter turnout is to be immigration even though Obama said there is little chance a bill can get through Congress. It’s more valuable to him and the national Squid, though, as an appetite sweetener for 2010 and `12.
       He has officially named the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton—ace racial demonstration fomenters—to be his point men along with Cong. Luis [“Little Looie”] Gutierrez (D-IL)…whom even a Squid alderman called “this little  pipsqueak,” the 5`6” Puerto Rican-born ex-Chicago cab driver and social worker with FALN in his background who has campaigned for “independence” for Puerto Rico.  Gutierrez had said he voted for ObamaCare on the understanding that Obama and congressional Democrats would move a major immigration bill.  Now Obama has served notice that he would prefer to use an un-passed immigration bill as an inducement to get more Latinos to vote.  
       Gutierrez is all for that. Stirred-up Latinos,  energized Hispanic voters, after all, helped flip Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico from Republican to Democrat in 2008.   
      To spur the lefty grassroots, Gutierrez was arrested last week as he demonstrated against the Arizona law after a sit-down in front of the White House where he and 35 others spurned orders from the cops to move.  But as he was being put in cuffs, news broke here about a Squid deal he was involved with to take advantage of an “affordable housing” provision for his daughter and her husband, both Squid employees wherein they bought a two-bedroom flat in Humboldt Park from a hefty contributor to his campaigns at earmarked cut-rate prices for “the poor” and flipped it a year later at a 55% profit.  That appears to be against the law and prosecutors are probing the details.  
          As ad hoc head of Obama’s get-out-the-Latino vote for 2010,    Gutierrez called the Arizona law “racist” in an appearance last week on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But while he was denouncing the law, an Arizona sheriff’s deputy was exchanging gunfire with narco-terrorists about 70 miles north of the border in a now infamous drug and human trafficking corridor. The deputy was ambushed by five drug smugglers, took fire from an AK-47 in the hands of the smugglers and was shot in the abdomen. All the while Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor, said everything that can be done to secure the border is being done.   
         “We are continuing to look at Arizona but I can tell you this,” she said. “In the end every resource that can be put at that border is being put at the border, every security is being made [sic] but we still need comprehensive immigration reform.”  Known as “Big Sis,” she infamously had said “the system worked” after a terrorist evaded the nation’s security system and airline passengers had to fight a terrorist to foil his attempts to ignite a bomb concealed in his underwear. As Homeland Security secretary she has refused requests to station troops at the Arizona border although earlier, as governor, she had called on the Bush administration for troops at the same border (Bush did).    
          So 14 months into the Obama administration, his last promise has been shattered.    Obama’s summons to minorities for 2010 shows he will run a largely racist, divisive campaign and a campaign that will attempt to set generation against generation.  Even a nationally known nonpartisan Internet newsletter has become alarmed. 
       Politico, terms the Obama crusade a drive “with unusual demographic frankness.” Meaning racially motivated.  It’s not the polls alone, although God knows they’re bad enough for Dems and liberals.  It’s what’s known as the “index of eagerness”—the motivation of blacks and Hispanics to go to the polls and get their fellows to do the same.  
        That motivation is low. It’s seriously flagging with Obama’s core constituency--but the index shows excitement and fever for victory inherent in conservatives.     Hence Obama needs to spur a race-tinged crusade. He needs it for 2010 and beyond. And to do it, he has unleashed the great racist tsunami since the days of George Wallace, himself indebted to Theodore Bilbo and Huey Long.   
         Wallace was the Alabama governor who stood in the courthouse door to block desegregation of state schools…and who, when he ran for president in 1968…carried five southern states and 10 million plus popular votes. His inducement to white voters to join him to defeat pro-civil rights candidates was not less direct than Obama’s call to minorities and youth to defeat mainstream candidates—a plea that was telecast by the Democratic National Committee. But the day of reckoning may be coming soon.
                             Update on the Blago Trial. 
          Last week, the effort by Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers to force the president to testify in Blago’s corruption trial which begins June 3 hit an obstacle. A federal judge here ruled that Obama’s testimony is not required at the trial—but added that he might reconsider the issue during the course of the trial if Blago’s lawyers submit more evidence that they need Obama’s testimony.  Count on that happening—one way or another—by leakage or submission of formal evidence.
        *: Saint Damian of Molakai [1840-1889]. He was born Jozef De Veuster, the 7th child of a Flemish corn merchant in the village of Tremelo, Flemish Brabent, Belgium. He attended college at Braine-le-Comte, then entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary taking the name Brother Damianus (Damian in Dutch, Damien in French).Following in the footsteps of his brother Auguste, Damien became a Brother in 1860.  His superiors thought he was not a good candidate for the priesthood since he seemed to lack intellectual depth even though his education was adequate. But after he learned Latin sufficiently, they decided to ordain him a priest. 
        In 1865 he was assigned to the Catholic Mission on North Kohala on the island of Hawaii. Hawaii was then a kingdom under a king, Kamehameha V and with a legislature.  Hawaii was at that time being overrun by diseases which were brought to the country by foreign traders and sailors. This included leprosy (now known as Hansen’s disease) but which was then incurable. Fearful of its spread, the government passed an “Act to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy” in 1865 which quarantined the lepers and removed all of them to the east end of the Kalaupapa peninsula on Molakai, on the eastern end of the Kalaupapa peninsula.  It was divided from the remainder of the island by a steep mountain ridge—and even today is accessible by land only by a mule track. 
           By 1868 the inhabitants, left to themselves and avoided by the rest of Hawaii, fell into dissolute behavior.  They were allowed to grow their own crops but because of their sickness it was nearly impossible.  The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911 despaired of them writing “Drunken and lewd conduct prevailed. The easy-going, good-natured people seemed wholly changed.” While the bishop believed the lepers needed at the very least a priest to minister to their needs, he understood that the assignment would be a virtual death sentence so he did not want to send any priest there under the rubric of obedience.  He asked for volunteers—and in May, 1873 Father Damian was the first to volunteer. Later that month he arrived at the settlement at Kalaupapa where he was presented to 816 lepers living there. 
         Damian’s first course of action was to build a church and establish a parish. His role was not limited to priestly duties: he dressed ulcers, built homes and beds, built coffins and dug graves. He was still regarded by the inhabitants as less than equal to them since he was well and they fatally ill. In December, 1884 it all changed. While preparing to bathe, he put his foot into a tub of water which he mistakenly believed was adequate but which was scalding. He felt nothing although his skin began to blister. After examination, he addressed his congregation in these words which revolutionized his appeal and which made him beloved by them: “We lepers.” He wrote his brother Pamphile who was in Europe: “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.” 
          In his last years Damian engaged in a flurry of activity.  He hastened to complete building projects, enlarge orphanages.  He died of leprosy on April 19, 1889 at the age of 49.  But believe it or not, there were critics of his life—some from adherents of Protestant churches in Hawaii.  The Congregational and Presbyterian churches in Hawaii entered arguments against his sanctity and indeed called him promiscuous with women lepers which contact purportedly infected him. .  The best known tract was written by a Honolulu Presbyterian, Rev. C. M. Hyde who referred to Fr. Damian as “a coarse, dirty man” whose leprosy should be attributed to “carelessness.”  But also that year, Hawaii was visited by the famed novelist and poet, Robert Louis Stevenson author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped.   Also a Presbyterian, Stevenson addressed himself to the defense of Fr. Damian and drafted a general letter which in the estimation of the Catholic Encyclopedia made “the memory of the Apostle of Lepers…brilliantly vindicated.” 
        Wrote Stevenson to Hyde: “You are one of those who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take a pleasure to find and publish them; and that, having found them, you make haste to forget the overvailing [sic] virtues and the real success which had alone introduced them to your knowledge. It is a dangerous frame of mind.” 
      Stevenson examined each and every one of Rev. Hyde’s objections and with the meticulousness of a superb defense lawyer answered every one. Indeed, the writings of  Stevenson, the Presbyterian, actually fueled the case for the Catholic Church to initiate a case for Damian’s canonization. In 1977 Paul VI declared him to be Venerable, the first of three steps to canonization. In 1995 John Paul II beatified him.  In 2009, Benedict XVI formally canonized him in the presence of King Albert II of Belgium and Queen Paola as well as the Belgian prime minister and several cabinet ministers. 
      In the 20th century,  Hansen’s disease was been found to be treatable with the drug dapsone--though not curable (the drug having to be taken throughout life). It is not highly contagious except for in close and frequent association with sufferers such as Damian had.  In latter years, some have appropriated St. Damian as a patron for those who are suffering from HIV and/or AIDS which is all well and good—but recalling that AIDS comes from immoral sexual pleasure objectively contrary to the will of God-- and as such Damian should not be seen as a patron of homosexuality…but as a spiritual refuge for penitent sufferers.

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