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The Expansionist
Monday, April 16, 2007
 
Death and Taxes, as Seen from the Center of the World. I've been too busy and depressed to write for this blog in the past few days. There is some kind of horrendous illness in my house that kills kittens, and I have been trying to save them, with very limited success. The news outside my house has been little better.
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The enemies of free speech have triumphed in the Imus case. That is deplorable and in itself depressing. I was going to write a brief comment, titled, "Fired but Forgiven", about how "our girls", the Rutgers women's basketball team, have decided to accept Don Imus's apology — a day late and hundreds of thousands of dollars short. You see, I live in New Jersey, which of late has become central to a number of stories in the national news. Rutgers is the State University of New Jersey, and it is a comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team by Imus out of a New York City studio that cost him his job. Our Governor, Jon Corzine, was then almost killed in an accident on the Garden State Parkway, on his way to the meeting between Imus and the Rutgers women in the Governor's Mansion in Princeton. Some hotdog aggressive driver, a young male, apparently pulled in too close in front of someone, who then swerved into the Governor's SUV, causing it to go off the highway at high speed. As The New York Times reported today,

Mr. Corzine, 60, has been in critical condition and on heavy doses of pain medication since Thursday evening, when he broke his left femur, 12 ribs, a lower vertebra and his breastbone and collarbone in a crash on [the] Garden State Parkway.

(Oddly, Corzine is the third New Jersey governor in a row to break a leg!)
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New Jersey doesn't have a Lieutenant Governor (an oddity that may be addressed by a state constitutional amendment), but we did have uninterrupted executive authority, because the President of the State Senate, Richard Codey (from West Orange, six miles from my house, in my county, Essex) instantly resumed the post of Acting Governor that he occupied when Governor McGreevey resigned after announcing that he is a "Gay American". Codey's wife Mary Jo is spokeswoman for at least two excellent commercials showing on TV here, about postpartum depression. I saw her at the opening of an exhibition at the Newark Public Library a few weeks ago, tho I didn't get a chance to thank her for those public-service announcements. I don't know if these are seen anywhere but New Jersey, but they should be.
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I sort of met Corzine once, when the law firm I was working for at the time opened expansion space on the same floor of the building as Corzine, then a U.S. Senator, had his office on, and he participated in a meet-and-greet in our conference room. It was 2004, and Corzine was head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. I asked him what Democrats were doing to head off Republican efforts to implement "bankruptcy reform" that would make it very difficult for the little guy to declare bankruptcy. He jokingly admired my bald head and full beard (like his), then went on to say he was very hopeful the Democrats would win enuf seats in the Senate to prevent that "reform". As it turned out, he was wrong. The Democrats refused to raise the issues of bankruptcy or debt or usury, and went down in flames, both Presidentially and Congressionally. I tried to warn them, but they didn't want to hear it. They knew better. So now we have effectively abolished bankruptcy for everyone but corporations, which can not only still declare bankruptcy but also use the bankruptcy laws to void labor contracts and escape pension obligations!
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Then Corzine, a mega-millionaire, ran for Governor; Codey (who had been a brilliant Acting Governor) dropped out of the race because he couldn't match Corzine's resources; and Corzine bought his way into the Governor's Mansion. He proceeded to do a number of bad things, such as promote the slaughter of babies in order to chop them up for parts (embryonic stem-cell research). My city, Newark, won grants for ADULT stem-cell research, I'm pleased to say.
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So, as you might now appreciate, I have mixed feelings about Corzine's present difficulties. As the Times article says, "He’s not out of the woods yet," but "remains at risk of developing life-threatening complications like pneumonia or infection". We may yet get to chop HIM up for parts — assuming that such a public-spirited citizen dedicated to medical progress has signed the back of his driver's license to authorize donation of his organs if he should die.
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As the Imus controversy wound down, the Duke lacrosse players' case popped up. Not only did the State of North Carolina dismiss all charges, but the state's Attorney General also, most unusually, declared the accused innocent. Thus New Jersey, and more particularly Essex County, was in the news again, because Reade Seligmann, one of the innocent accused, is from Essex Fells, 10 miles from me. A webpage I found that was put up at the time of the initial accusation lists the entire roster of the Duke lacrosse team, then second in the Nation. Seven players were from New Jersey, including one of the three indicted defendants. That page (I won't dignify it by a hyperlink) pretty much prejudged and convicted them. Something like 70 members of Duke's own faculty did the same. I wondered. The case sounded so wrong, and so familiar — Tawana Brawley all over again. And so it was.
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The white man Don Imus was fired from an extremely lucrative job for a single indiscreet utterance of 12 words. (Would you believe there is now (or was, briefly) an "I love nappy-headed hos" teeshirt!? (That is to say there was a few hours ago, but the same site now does not show it but a somewhat different teeshirt about "Silken Haired Damsels".) I found that site when checking for the exact number of words in Imus's remark. Is this an amazing country, or what?) The black woman who filed false charges against three young white men (more like boys, really) faced no penalty, and thus lost nothing, whatsoever. The state prosecutor who relieved the Durham County prosecutor of his duties in regard to the Duke lacrosse case decided that altho the stripper had made damning accusations without any justification whatsoever, he would not prosecute her for filing a false police report because her mental state was so confused that she might actually have believed what she charged. Never mind that she was not a nun or schoolmarm but a stripper and that semen from several men — none of them on the Duke lacrosse team — was found inside her. She was still to be presumed an innocent taken advantage of by white kids of privilege.
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So white kids were persecuted for nothing, a white man was fired for trivia, and blacks got to pose as victims while actually being persecutors, victimizers. And white people won't fite back!
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Major media said of the truly innocent white boys accused of rape that this ordeal not only oppressed them for a year and drove some of them out of Duke, perhaps even out of college altogether, but might remain with them for the rest of their lives. Considering that they were just college kids, that meant that this scurrilous accusation could oppress them for 70 years! But the bitch — yes, you heard that right: bitch — who 'laid' those charges is not to be punished. The worst the media could think to do is to name her, repeatedly: Crystal Gail Mangum. Wikipedia put up a page about her, complete with foto. Will that suffice?
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Some media have compared the situation of the Durham three with that of Ray Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Labor under Ronald Reagan, who was acquitted of wrongdoing in a criminal prosecution over corruption. Immediately after the trial, in the courthouse, he famously asked (approximate quote, because I have seen different versions of his exact words but this one more closely accords with my recollection of news footage): "Where do I go to get my reputation back?" Ray Donovan was also from New Jersey (Bayonne, about 11 miles from me).
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Then, this past weekend, we had a nor'easter. Torrential downpours dropped over 7 inches of rain in parts of the region, and New Jersey was again in the heart of the story.
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Tonite, Jay Leno said in his monolog that it has happened again: a 31-year-old Newark schoolteacher has been accused of having sex with a 13-year-old male student. My city, but I hadn't heard that before he mentioned it.
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Thus might you see why some of us do see New Jersey as the center of the universe. Actually, of course, anywhere I am is, as far as I can see, the center of the universe. New Jersey is the English version of "Nova Caesarea", the "New Land of Caesar". Or is it the "Land of the New Caesar"? In either case, New Jersey — don't you dare call it "Jersey", which is properly used only in a few combined forms, like "North Jersey" and "Jersey Shore", in both of which I have lived — is far more central to the United States than most people appreciate. For one thing, the speech of educated New Jerseyans (NOT "New Jerseyites", a term that exists only in dictionaries, not in New Jersey) is the best English in the world. We use all 42 phonemes of American English (lacking only the peculiar half-AU-sound of British English found in the London pronunciation of "not" or "dissolve"), without pretentious clipping of diphthongs.
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The image outsiders have of New Jersey bears very little relation to the reality, be it of my own, grossly misunderstood city, Newark, or of places like Princeton, Mount Laurel, Cape May, or the undisturbed forests of the northwestern Highlands region.
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During the rainfall that kept most New Jerseyans indoors the past couple of days, I was channel-surfing and came across an episode of the black sitcom Girlfriends, which is in general a really good show, despite having originated on "the WB" network, now "the CW" (for CBS and Time Warner, the joint owners). In that episode, one of the main characters, speaking to another, refers to a woman of their mutual acquaintance as, and I do indeed quote, a "nappy-headed heifer". Not "ho", but "nappy-headed". As it happens, the bulk of the Rutgers women's basketball team — all black except for one white player who stands out like a neon sign in the group picture — have processed (straightened) hair, not nappy, that is, kinky (in the nonsexual sense). Would it be nappy if it weren't processed? Probably. But in point of fact, it was not nappy during the Tennessee-Rutgers NCAA final. So Imus was factually wrong, as tho that matters.
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In any case, the Rutgers women had the terrible catastrophe of having a bit of the sheen from their moment of glory as the Nation's No. 2 women's basketball team taken away by Imus's comment. Big, friggin' deal. The real catastrophe was that the Rutgers women got to the finals but lost. The whole state felt that loss, but we didn't feel the need to blame someone. (We're from New Jersey. We've got New York City, the greatest city of the Western world, on our northeast, and Philadelphia, the city where the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed, on our southwest. We are used to being second-best.) Imus had nothing to do with that, but some Rutgers women — the coach? — felt the need to displace onto someone else the tumultuous feelings of disappointment and anger she/they had from having gotten so close to a national title but then lost.
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Imus apologized. The Rutgers team, like the good girls they are (we grow 'em nice in New Jersey, a state filled with well-mannered boys and girls of all races), forgave. That should have been the end of it. But Imus had already been fired. So much for freedom of speech in the New America.
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I prefer the Old America. To quote from Stewart H., a Jewish supervisor on the evening shift of a word-processing center I used to work at in Downtown Manhattan,

"The great thing about this country is that everybody has something bad to say about everybody else."

Not any longer. Now everybody has to hold in the things they want to say. So instead of being the most frequently uttered epithet in the United States, "nigger" is the most frequently THOUGHT epithet. And its utterances-in-silence are growing by leaps and bounds the more that white people feel that their rights are being taken away by blacks.
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How long can this go on before things explode? We have seen in Lebanon not so long ago, in Rwanda after that, in Yugoslavia after that, in Kosovo after that, in Iraq and Darfur now, what can happen when intergroup resentment builds up. Is it really impossible that things like that could happen here?
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And what do we do about the censors who would gag us, and the bigots and reverse-bigots who would convict people upon the mere utterance of an accusation? Comedy Central's Daily Show regaled us with clips from CNN's odious Nancy Grace, in which, time after time, no matter how many weaknesses in the case against the Duke lacrosse players asserted themselves, that dirty damned bitch insisted that the players were guilty anyway. Will Nancy Grace, that vile piece of sh*t, lose her job? Don't count on it. She's a woman, you see, another protected class entitled, like blacks, to attack others without fear of consequences.
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That is the New America. I look forward to a Post-New America, like Post-Modern Architecture, in which we rise above the trendy groupthink of the present to return to a more measured and balanced approach to the world, in which we value honesty and openness, and condemn both censorship and prejudice in its strictest sense: pre-judging without trial or even evidence.
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Barack Obama, that evil, hypocritical piece of sh*t, chose to side with the censors who think that no one should have the right to say things they disapprove of — even tho Obama himself appeared on the Imus in the Morning Show! It's now official: I HATE Barack Obama and would gladly deport him to his father's homeland, Kenya. He does not belong here, if he does not hold the essence of the First Amendment dear.
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Imus was, to borrow from Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings, victim of "a high-tech lynching" in which the rope was the nonstop repetition of his 12 silly words by 24-hour news media and worthless nobodies like Al Sharpton who somehow achieved media clout despite having been disgraced in, for instance, the Tawana Brawley affair. So perhaps the kids from Duke, including one from my county, will emerge from this momentary taint to become powerhouses in media and society.
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Meanwhile, as someone (Jay Leno, I think) observed after I had come to the same conclusion, the Republicans in Washington were delited to have someone take the heat off them, even if for only a few days. They could continue to dodge hard issues like the horror they unleashed in Iraq and the ruination of scores of millions of Americans by debt made worse by usury and "bankruptcy reform" that trap them in debt for life. Democrats too are spared the glare of public focus on why they won't undo the Republican tax cuts for the rich that have produced a massive redistribution of wealth from poor and middle class to rich, nor undo the plutocrats' bankruptcy "reform", nor pass a national usury law, nor provide any form of debt relief for people now losing their homes in record numbers of foreclosures.
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I and 250 million-plus other Americans of modest means will pay higher taxes than we should because the major parties are controlled by rich people who haven't a clue about how the rest of us live. And do not for an instant care.
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On Comedy Central's Daily Show tonite, Andy Card, former White House chief of staff for Dumbya, conceded that everyone in the White House is cut off from the reality of the Nation by virtue of working so very long and very hard within the White House environment, which is sealed off from distractions. They work from very early in the morning to very late at nite, and have no time to kick back and sit in front of the television set or talk to their neighbors, so haven't a clue as to how the rest of the world lives, nor what really concerns ordinary Americans. He said that even White House staffers don't have automatic access to the President, because the Chief of Staff has to protect the President from excessive interruption by dissonant voices (he didn't put it quite that way, but that was the sense). The Chief of Staff is the gatekeeper who determines what the President does and does not hear directly from people, by controlling which people get to talk to him. And everyone in the highest levels of the Administration is so busy working within their own area that they haven't any time, nor inclination, to check their perceptions against the reality outside the office.
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I have a suggestion. Hire more staff! Instead of 300 people working 16-hour days, have 600 people work 8-hour days, so they can spend 8 hours outside the office, watching TV, listening to radio, talking to their neighbors, walking the sidewalks and beaches, and absorbing thru personal interactions what it is that life in this country is all about.
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I have, of course — as regular readers know full well — much more to say about these and other issues, but I have taxes to file, and a beautiful blond kitten to bury.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,308 — for Israel.)



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