Sunday, September 07, 2008

Guest Blogger: Charlie Stella Has His Say

"This is Liberty Hall. You can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard."

--A. Bertram Chandler

As most of you know, occasional commenter Charlie Stella and I don't agree on much when it comes to politics. But the guy's a hell of a writer. I love his work, and I was more than a little pleased to discover that he likes mine as well. So when he sent a version of the following post to his e-mail list, I invited him to have his say here on What Fresh Hell.

After all, I'm all about free speech and the marketplace of ideas.

Now, I know Charlie doesn't expect that everyone here's going to agree with him. But I know my loyal Hellions will play nice.


Recently some on my reader list were confounded by my support for the baked Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin. Once a poster child for the left, I've done some about facing over the last 8 years that included votes for Rudy Giuliani and Bush twice. While Rudy was my original preference for president this go (because 9-11 aside, he actually did a good job cleaning the cesspool New York had been left post Dinkins), I was fine with Obambi being the winner (because it would be good for the country if a minority got a chance to sit in the big seat). Then I changed to Nader (for the sake of genuine change) and then the baked Alaskan appeared on the scene and, well … here's something that'll make no sense to most, but perfect sense to me. The following is an edited version of an email I sent to my Knucksline distribution list (what my old blog was called; I'm the Knuckster/Knucks/Knucklespeare/Generalissimo; the Principessa is my wife).

Where I stand on hot-button issues:

Abortion: still pro choice

Gun control: absolutely favor it in urban areas

Censorship: Abhor it--any form of it

Religion in public schools: keep it out

Religion in general: I'm an atheist, but knock yourself out if you're not

Creationism: don't buy it

Gay rights: the constitutional amendment should be to permit gay marriages/not preclude them

And then here is where things get a little muddy:

Environment: Drill baby, drill.

Immigration: Something needs to be done and sooner rather than later or all those outsourced jobs both parties seem to support (Hillary supported companies outsourcing jobs in NY a few years ago) will put a lot of American citizens in contention for whatever is left (currently being handled by illegals). Word processors will soon be washing dishes and I'm really not very good at it.

Death Penalty: when it's an absolute positive conviction like the clown caught on video torturing the kid whose family the same clown had just killed? I'm for pay-per-view torture until dead but would settle for two in the back of the head five minutes after the video was verified. Otherwise life in solitary is fine with me.

Iraq: Fool me once, shame on you … we're out of there.

Afghanistan: One last push to get OBL (which might include a "single" surgical strike or "600 surgical strikes" into Pakistan), but get it done and get out.

Israel: I've said it many times. If I were born Palestinian, I'd probably be a terrorist … but I wasn't. I was born here and favor security for us first, then allies as a priority. I'd put more genuine pressure on Israel to "get along" but if Israel was attacked militarily (especially by nations already at extreme odds with us), I'd help defend her (which includes a potential and devastating {see below} war).

War (in general): If we're not going Roman, let's not waste our ___ing time. There's no need for "boots on the ground" unless we intend to occupy and we shouldn't ever want to do that again. In the Generalissimo's world, trust me, you won't want to go to war with us (or sponsor terrorism against us).

Darfur: the ultimate hypocrisy of this nation's current foreign policy. If we can help those most in need, we have no business in Iraq (especially since we've come to learn the several reasons we were given turned out to be nonsense).

And then there's this …

Bush/Impeachment: Absolutely, his entire administration (the same people I passionately defended four years ago) … and if the collective UN had anything between their legs besides the New York City parking tickets they'll never pay, they would bring war crimes charges against GW & Co. for the absolute disaster their Iraq gambit turned out to be.

The Supreme Court: I prefer a left leaning court, but figure the court will always sort itself out sooner or later. I used to be much more concerned about appointments when I voted strictly Democrat, but have since relaxed my concerns. I don't see Roe v. Wade being overturned (no matter what the court makeup is), nor do I see a constitutional amendment precluding gay marriages ever happening.

I'm not sure how I'm classified anymore, although the following adjectives have been used: Neanderthal, lunatic, crazy, maniac, whacko, jerk, fat, fat jerk (but that's a really low blow) and a few expletives most of your email filters won't permit. By the way, "jerk" is the Principessa's personal favorite.

My voting record most of you(s) know … a straight Democratic ticket until Slick Willy's 2nd term (when I didn't bother voting because his lack of a response to terrorist attacks home and abroad ended my support for him and the Democratic Party). Then back-to-back Bush votes I now regret, but mostly because he's made it so easy for the Democrats to regain power in the form of a mandate (by screwing up pretty much everything he did, although I do give him credit for scaring off terrorist attacks here).

A co-worker recently found it comical (I think) that she'd be considered an elite. This after verbalizing how she couldn't understand how people who were (or seemed to be) so smart could vote Republican. To be fair, there was nothing malicious in her statement. She was merely wondering aloud how people she genuinely liked and admired (and who seemed so on the ball) voted (or were) Republican. I pointed out that I sure used to think that way (when I thought anything that wasn't liberal was dumb) … but that that is exactly what the right labels an elitist attitude; the idea that someone else's divergent opinion is ipso facto stupid.

I prefer arrogant to elite but we all get the picture.

I know there's a gigantic passionate political divide in this country (but, let's face it, that's been forever); extremists on both ends think (or assume) the other end is uninformed and/or delusional and/or guided by divine spirits, etc. The question is which side is right? The answer, obviously, is neither. The problem, however, is what plagues this country election year after election year. What is lost, I think, is how the left has been so marginalized it's barely visible anymore. Obambi is NOT a liberal (certainly not by my definition). What is considered left today is barely left of center (which is why someone like Dennis Kucinich is literally laughed off the Democratic stage by his own party during its debates ... the same DK I'm probably most in line with socially/but at polar opposites with regarding terrorism). Hillary Clinton (originally a "Goldwater girl") couldn't have sat more on the middle of the political fence without giving birth to plywood. John "the Maverick" McCain proved as much a maverick as Barry Bonds proved his very late budding career wasn't chemically enhanced.

Somehow the various causes and extremes have been muddled to the point of confusion and unless you're at one of the extremes looking in … well, it becomes one big jumbled mess.

Enter the politics of presidential convention sideshows. Obambi picks Biden. McCain picks Palin. Neither has anything to do with how the top slot candidate's themselves would govern and everything to do with perception and appeal. So much for Change We Can Believe In and/or Country First, eh?

Except for the cosmetic appearances of both tickets, what's the difference? Even Bill Maher recently exposed the private corporate parties going on outside the Democratic Convention for members of Congress (where some ducked rather than be caught on camera). And we all know it went on at the Republican Convention as well (perhaps with more expensive champagne/call girls).

Both parties have been bought and sold and neither really seems to do much for the people they passionately claim they represent. The cronyism, nepotism and inherent corruption fostered by the bureaucracies of government leave little in the way of hope and/or change for the people electing their officials. Do the Democrats really work for the little guy? I don't think the 9% approval rating supports that notion. Do the Republicans only support the rich and powerful? It sure seems that way, especially since the only layoffs and outsourced jobs I notice are the ones directly affecting the poor slobs in the lower and middle classes. But wait, many of those outsourced jobs are fleeing blue States, too! Is Hillary really fighting for the middle class in New York? Ask some of those affected by the 10% across the board (except they're all service staff) cuts many of the law firms, financial institutions and other corporations and companies are making in favor of having their services performed in Chennai, India.

Personally, I don't think either party gives a rat's ass what happens to the poor schmucks trying to get by. If they did, I have to ask, why don't they'd do something? Here the question becomes rather nebulous … almost like, "if there really were a God, how could he (or she) let there be war, hurricanes, earthquakes and the like … to which, I'd like to add, Democrats and or Republicans …

Recently my very goal oriented older son (working full time for an outsourcer at Goldman Sachs while pursuing his MBA nights) was very much moved by Joe Lieberman's address to the Republican Convention. The left shouldn't think my son stupid for liking Joe Lieberman and the right shouldn't think they've won him over. Charles is voting for Nader (God bless him--Charles, not Ralph Nader). I attacked Lieberman and then one of his friends did the same in emails (albeit for similar, but not fully the same reasons). Charles liked the idea of pols crossing party lines to say what needs to be said and to do what needs to be done. He doesn't get the point of polar partisanship. Good for him (Charles--not Lieberman or Nader) … he's thinking. That's a good thing (and something the left need not bother taking credit for--or they'd think maybe they were wrong once in a while). Remember, some of you lefties so in the know, those more than half a million who died during World War II really did sustain your right to obnoxious protests (whether you geniuses think the fire bombing of Dresden or the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan was necessary or not). And some right-minded folk likewise need to get over their Christian selves when they declare homosexuality and/or abortions abominations against God deserving of violent assault. Nobody minds that either side has its own opinion, but the vitriol and rancor each side seems to have for the other appears equally uneducated and unchristian (sarcasm intended).

And then there are the Neanderthals, lunatics, crazies, maniacs, whackos, jerks (and a few expletives most of your email filters won't permit--but no more fat jokes) like myself who, after being burned for staying with one party or switching to another (and being made a fool in both cases), just want something genuinely different. So much so, in fact, we'd take somebody off the street who ran a successful lemonade stand (anybody over the age of 11 in fact). And if that somebody happened to run a business, government or lemonade stand successfully (frankly, I don't care if it was a PTA meeting so long as the constituency was over 18, bathed at least once a month and could speak the mother tongue), no matter what his or her social views are, if he/she can get things done, I'm all for him/her.

Let's face it, the lawyers (Yale, Harvard, etc.) have struck out big time "running things" … Yale gave us Bush (and should be burned to the ground for it). Harvard gave us Obambi (130 "present" votes--what I call "change my ass"). Alaska (and all that whacky religious stuff) gave us a woman who accomplished a few things I can relate to (even if I don't believe in most anything she is a proponent of). Palin (for all her attempts to censor books, etc.,) seems to get things done. As a half-assed author, I probably should be worried about this book banning thing … but I'm not. If Palin were President, I'm pretty sure the Democratic Congress (and some more moderate Republicans) would keep the book banning, etc., in check.

As to her troopergate scandal, if what I saw on CNN last night was half accurate (her former brother-in-law admitted to having tasered his stepson, was caught drinking in uniform in his patrol car twice and illegally killed moose(s)) … well, it just makes me like her a little bit more.

So, it may be a "no brainer" to the elite left (and some independents) that the country should elect a slick talking professor like Obambi, but it's an equal "no brainer" that the hardheaded right (and some independents) choose the war hero who, although he can't remember how many homes he owns, can be crafty enough to pick the "barracuda" babe from Alaska (a woman whose only purpose on the ticket is to solidify a portion of his disgruntled party and desperately appeal to disgruntled Clinton supporters).

And for me, it's an even easier choice (or reason) to vote for a ticket with somebody I'm diametrically opposed to on so many social issues. Sarah Palin (the mother/PTA/Mayor/Governor) is something different (dare I say it?) for a change.

Honestly, no sarcasm intended.

My only issue with Palin, by the way, is McCain. It won't be easy to pull the lever for that guy after all the unmaverick-like compromising he's just engaged in (including his Palin pick). That said, I won't be losing any sleep if Obambi wins. I do think it would be good for the country if he won and he would certainly have a majority in the House and Senate to push through his agenda (whichsuggests things would get done; nothing has happened since the Democratic Congress was mandated to end the war in 2006, has it?). But, if he still feels compelled to vote "present" (or the presidential equivalent, which is to talk us through the next four years about how good the following four will be with him making all those changes down the road), I suspect we'll be headed back to the right as the pendulum does seem to swing back and forth anyway.

For my money, it's defense first (which still may require some offense, albeit from the air rather than boots on the ground). I don't see anybody neglecting our defense the way Slick Willy did again for a while. While I'm not opposed to playing hide the cigar (to each his/her own), I don't expect my President to be doing it while the country is branded a "paper tiger" (Bin Laden's label) after one attempt on the World Trade Center was dealt with in court and several other terrorist attacks against us abroad were barely dealt with at all. That still bothers me.

So, despite her personal convictions, I really do prefer Palin. If for no other reason, to show all us dopes casting votes that it doesn't take a well groomed lawyer and/or a war hero to get things done (see Harry Truman). I like the idea of somebody with enough determination to see through the bullshit and come up with solutions. Palin used Democrats to clean house of some dirty Republicans in Alaska. What's wrong with that?

—Knucks (Charlie)

Charlie Stella is the author of:

Mafiya: A Novel of Crime (January, 2008) Pegasus
Shakedown: A Novel of Crime (June, 2006) Pegasus
Cheapskates: A Novel of Crime (March, 2005) Carroll & Graf
Charlie Opera: A Novel of Crime (December, 2003) Carroll & Graf
Jimmy Bench-Press: A Novel of Crime (December, 2002) Carroll & Graf
Eddie's World: A Novel of Crime (December, 2001) Carroll & Graf


Sandra Ruttan said...

So, let me get this straight. Who are you voting for, Charlie? ;) (You know I'm not serious. I've been gone all weekend and I'm still wrapping my head around your original e-mail.)

Tom said...

Uh, Charlie . . . Harry S Truman *was* a war hero. He was a leader of men in the field, who took care of his duties and his troops, and did well in his field engagements.

Contrary to popular belief, some of us on the left are familiar with the manly art of self-defense. Some of us also know how to hold 'em and squeeze 'em at any range you care to name (for which we possess appropriate equipment). Some of us have served, believe it or not. It's just the phony-baloney pack of psychopaths, warmonger profiteers and delusional boy-kings who perturb us.

The fact as I see it is we're stuck with a corporatocracy controlling both parties. Shaking that will take some work. I hope my grandkids are up to the job, but I am concerned their schools don't much teach the Constitution in all its grandeur.

Evita-Sarita is unacceptable. She is utterly unqualified to have her finger anywhere near The Button. She would be the first to admit that if God told her to push The Button, she would. She's a Dominionist, and you don't want her ordering your affairs. You've seen what The Crawford Cretin has been able to do to tie up Congress. I think she could be worse.

Let's not find out.

Anonymous said...


Didn't mean to offend lefties who served, etc. (I apologize), and I am very aware of Harry's service (he's my favorite president), but ... he didn't wear it on his sleave the way McCain is doing now. He was also "unqualified" for office (selling hats) before his (cough) community service.

As for that button ... well, me thinks Palin plays the "God" angle the way politicians play any angle they can. I'm not saying she's fugazy about her religion, but I seriously doubt she'd start pressing buttons because Jesus told her to.

And I feel fairly certain Obambi would discuss the issue in lecture halls for weeks on end if missiles were headed our way ...

Sandra: I want Palin for President (not McCain). I can live with Obambi ... I ignore the choices as best I can (making believe Palin's at the top of the ticket). If someone who runs a successful lemonade stand steps up, I'll probably vote for them. Should they share my social concerns, I'd do it gladly. I'm fed up with both parties and don't kid myself about the Democrats anymore. They keep losing for a reason ... this year it's because they let HC hang around just long enough to inject racism into the contest ... the "super dopey delegates" could've ended that fiasco 8 months ago. Now they may just reap the rewards of being cowards (afraid of Hillary). Unbelievable how it'll happen this year (if it does), because after Bush, Kucinich could've won (too bad they laughed him off the stage).

Hey, how 'bout my beloved new york state buffalo bills? They're gonna win it for Tim Russert this year ...

Louise Ure said...

Charlie, you want someone who can get stuff done? Bush got stuff done. I just wish he hadn't.

Anonymous said...

And Clinton didn't ... my opinion why 9-11 happened, but, sausiche his own.

President by committee might work, though ... I guess if Obambi wins, we'll find out.

Ted Cohen... said...

If you guys want some good Bush fodder, check out this new book by the Maine reporter who outed Bushie on DWI charges: