Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another ‘Conversation? Really? / Bill, Huma and Jennifer / Let’s Go with Fracking...

‘Conversation’: Enough Already… Too much has been written lately about Trayvon Martin, so Mr. Gripes will not foist onto readers his own tedious scribblings about that tragedy, except to make two distinct points:

First, we Americans don’t need any more ‘conversation’ about race in this country. It’s become a useless exercise. A ‘conversation’, after all, is a convenient excuse for no action, akin to all those committees set up during the past decade to figure out budget deficit reduction.  It’s very evident the situation we’re in, and it’s obvious to all but the most wishful thinkers that nothing’s going to change. The well-heeled white upper middle class – and this is not a criticism, per se – is not going to give up one inch of social status or one dollar to ameliorate the racial divide in this country. 

As long as black people, or, more generally, poor people, are out of sight, they’re out of affluent, upper-class consciousness, too: that is the actual dynamic going on. The United States, for all its purported progress – and we do have, miraculously, a black president – is still very much segregated, especially within our urban environs: the root cause may be more economically based at this point than color-based, but the reality is that the poor and blacks live in virtually walled-off ghettos away from the more well-to-do, white populations. Integration, except at the margins, is a myth.

Mr. Gripes recalls, during the embarrassingly innocent times of the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a lot of high-minded puffery that income redistribution was a viable solution. I can only laugh at this notion many years later, proposed as it was by well-intentioned people, who, in retrospect, were incredibly naive: there’s no stronger human instinct than holding on to what you possess and own, especially money.  [Sure, a Mark Zuckerberg can give away millions, but he’s got billions in reserve.]

There’s no Great Society around anymore to inject money into the inner cities like LBJ did during the late 1960’s – the country right now is essentially broke. Jobs are scarce, too. So, it’s business as usual, as the economic chasms get wider, and that means the race situation continues to stagnate and fester. The last thing we need is more soul-searching, pointless conversation, leading nowhere.

One more point: in the immediate aftermath of the Trayvon trial, guess which two relics, like a pair of ancient, tired and irascible crocodiles suddenly springing out of the Everglades tall grasses, show up on television networks to vent their rage? None other than Jesse Jackson and the Rev Al Sharpton.  It’s remarkable at this late date these two jokers are still referred by newscasters as ‘spokesmen’ for Afro-Americans. 

‘Spokesmen,’ my ass. 

Who decided these two were kingmakers, anyway? Mr. Gripes would wager that Jesse Jackson has, at this point, basically no standing among Afro-Americans; Jackson’s still furious that Barack Obama, in possession of  a rancor-devoid, Harvard-Law-School-trained composure, stomped on poor Jesse’s firebrand head, and made him irrelevant. Al Sharpton? A shiny-suit salesman who built his brand – and makes a lot of money – by stoking the race card. He’s essentially a one-trick pony who somehow managed to catapult himself into hosting a prime time cable talk show and heading up an organization called the National Action Network [It’s ‘non-profit.’ Wink-wink. No worries for Big Al, though: The IRS wouldn’t dare pull an audit.]  Amazing what good old American hucksterism and hustle can accomplish.

A Match for the Ages – Jennifer, Bill, Huma and Twitter: Mr. Gripes has ignored all news reports of New York City mayor candidate Anthony Weiner and his Twitter escapades: I find the details too sordid, too creepy and too loopy. I’m genuinely uninterested in Mr. Weiner and his assignations.

There is one aspect of the story, though, that I must confess I follow voraciously: the repercussions of the l’affaires d’Weiner on that most formidable of alliances, Bill and Hillary Clinton, the ‘Franchise.’ For those who may not know the connection, Mr. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, was, until very recently, a close advisor to the aforementioned Mrs. Clinton, both during her State Department tenure and since her departure. And, as you can imagine, the pictures of Huma standing ‘beside her man,’ when her husband confessed to his multiple online dalliances, reminded us of that iconic image of Hillary standing next to Bill, during the 2000 Presidential race, as he denied vehemently indignantly reports of an affair with that lovely blonde, Jennifer Flowers. It felt like ‘déjà vu, all over again,’ as Yogi Berra put it.

Naturally, news got out that Bill was apparently very ‘disturbed’ that the Weiner debacle may ‘blowback’ on Hillary, because it brings back all those memories of Ms. Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and the seemingly hundred other ‘romances.’

Let’s have no misconceptions about the Clinton plan: Hillary is running for President in 2016. Mr. Gripes, six months ago, had his doubts – not any longer. The Clintons obviously don’t appreciate any bumps in the road, and this is one hell of a bump. So, it’s no coincidence that Huma has now taken a leave of absence from her job with Hillary – don’t think for a moment that the redoubtable Clintons didn’t orchestrate that move. 

So, Bill, of the quivering lip, Mr. Gripes has some advice for you: just keep your big trap shut, for once, hide out in the Hamptons for a couple of months, and keep your head down. The last thing Hillary needs now is for you to bring up Mr. Weiner:  ‘the pot calling the kettle black’, eh?

Oh, one more thing, Bill: you should get down on your knees every night and thank your God that there was no such thing as the internet, Twitter, Facebook, et al when you were running for President. Can you imagine? TMZ wouldn’t just be on for an hour every evening: it’d be on 24/7, with nothing but stories of ‘Bill and His Babes.’ Your old girl friends would come out of the woodwork, visions of sugarplums and riches in their heads, equipped with videos, tapes, photos, phone conversations, everything. Cable television would be orgasmic at the tsunami of material they’d be showered with.  And, you never know, there’d probably be a delectable sex tape or two. There is no chance in Hell you would have been elected President. You’re one hell of a lucky dude, Billy boy.

Let’s Not Dawdle on Fracking – Mr. Gripes, despite his otherwise saturnine opinions on virtually any modern human endeavor, has always been rather hopeful about the Middle East. Reasoning? If the Brits and Irish could resolve their intractable, bloody IRA war, then any conflict, including the Middle East religious wars, can be settled.

I don’t think so any more. The events over the past couple of months in Egypt, arguably the one Arab country most capable of setting up representative government with a modicum of bloodshed, prove that any kind of peace over there is nothing but a delusional fantasy. It’s just not going to happen. The killing and violence and sectarian hatreds will go on and on.

The United States must extricate itself from that part of the world. We must. Over the past 50 or 60 years, what have we accomplished, besides squandering billions and billions of dollars propping up tyrants, in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Iran [the Shah, remember?]. The dictators then used that money to build up their repressive forces to crush, imprison and murder their own citizens. At the end of all this time, after all the failures, why do we stay when we have nothing to show for it?

There’s only answer of course. Oil, oil, oil. America would exit the Middle East tomorrow if we didn’t have essential oil interests over there. Every base would be closed, every aircraft carrier would sail home, and there’d be no more arm shipments supporting psychopathic thugs. 

So, what’s to do? Environmentalists aren’t going to like my solution, but I say there’s one simple option: Fracking. Fracking is a recently discovered method of extracting natural gas from shale rock. Formerly, those deposits were completely inaccessible. Not anymore. Simultaneous with this new process is the fortuitous discovery that the United States has huge gas reserves trapped in the shale rock. There’s so much natural gas reserves in the ground here that our dependence on the Middle East may cease to exist in a matter of decades.

So, let’s not wait: let’s get fracking. Right now, environmental concerns have held up full-blown production, but there are some states currently which are already experiencing a ‘gold rush’ in gas extraction.  Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, is at the moment deciding whether to permit fracking upstate, a depressed area absolutely in need of jobs and infusions of money. On the national level, President Obama has already come out in favor of fracking.

Again, I say full speed ahead. Fracking is going to happen on a huge scale in this country. There’s no way it’s not going to happen. Politicians will not dare refuse the huge tax receipts, and the boom to depressed areas that will ensue as the gas is extracted, as well as the thousands of jobs that will be created for constituents.

And, equally important, America, the day the last serviceman and ship leave for home, will finally and definitively declare to everyone over there, ‘Kiss my fat butt. We tried like Hell to help you, but the killing has never stopped. So, sayonara to all of you ungrateful bastards. We’re not coming back. You’re on your own now.’

Jim Israel
Mr. Gripes
August 21, 2013