Author Archives: stephenanoriega

Obama Can Keep the 60’s from Coming Back

By Stephen Noriega

I believe that Barack Obama can avert another 60’s. Perhaps this sounds counterintuitive or even pessimistic. It is not meant to be either. The election of Barack Obama brings on another possibility. It is the possibility of breaking unfortunate repetitions of human behavior. Barack Obama may be able to circumvent a simmering resentment of our government that made so much in the 1960’s necessary and so painful to many.

People often look back on the 60’s and early 70’s with a definite degree of romanticism. People with long hair, making love in the forest and singing beautiful music can warm the hearts of aging accountants with revisionist personal histories. The 60’s make people think of the Age of Aquarius, a time when so many things were possible and the only limitations existed in the mind and the quality of the mushrooms. The ‘60’s is thought of as a time of social revolution tied with the embrace of the wretched, two concepts rarely seen together in political history.

hair-theatreaddictcom72007TheatreAddicts.com 7/2007

However, the 60’s also meant the burning of American cities, the murder of ideological activists and the beginning of American adventurism in the form of spreading terror as well as democracy in the world. A few people during this time recorded great accomplishments, often at the cost of their own lives. The 60’s brought into the public consciousness the images of dogs attacking black people, naked girls running from napalm and dead students at formerly quiet universities.

police_dogs_1963


kent-state-1970john-paul-filo1John Paul Filo, 1970

Others simply rode the wave of this time for their own amusement. Tim Leary might have had great progressive ideas, but he really just wanted to get high. Leary became psychologically addicted to LSD and tried to get as many bright minds to follow him into his own Wonderland. I know he talked about things much deeper, but he will never be known for anything more. He went on tour with G. Gordon Liddy twenty years later.


Jerry Rubin ran wild in the 1960’s, generating counter-culture sloganism and culminating his urination on conservative society with activities in the 1968 Democratic National Convention that resulted in the Chicago 8 / Chicago 7 Trial. When the bills didn’t get paid with political petulance, Rubin became a business investor. He went on tour with Abbie Hoffman for a fee in the 1980’s. When Abbie Hoffman died, he and David Dellinger were the only ones out of the Chicago 8 / Chicago 7 at his funeral. Rubin was killed by a car with a significant stock holding in Apple Corporation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the concept of Satyagraha to North America and proved that racial oppression could be fought without a single gun or bomb. He insisted that his protesters dressed formally so they would not look like hippies and thugs. He insisted that people did not fight the authorities even when the authorities injured them. He gained wonderful momentum, bringing the Kennedy family into the fight, Robert much more willingly than John. Even Malcolm X, changed by his hajj to Mecca (yes, that’s right, Mecca in the 60’s was an origin of racial harmony) and influenced by King, Jr., changed his tune to one of more peaceful resolution. The 60’s also brought the assassins that killed Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy. After that, racial progress fell into inconsistency, self-service and sublime discrimination.


The 60’s had the Great Society, a well-intended but mishandled attempt to keep the cities from burning and to bring the poor out of the ashes. Lyndon Johnson tried to keep a war going while redistributing wealth at the same time. Eventually something had to break and the Great Society fell first. Then Vietnam fell into the hands of the communists and the American spirit slowly fell into a “malaise”.

jimmy_carter_01timemag2007

Time Magazine, 2007

These times have many similarities to the negative side of the 60’s, only without a decent drug to escape it all. Instead of pot and LSD to deny our problems, we have crack and meth, drugs that destroy instead of simply cover. We have unpopular military actions, this time in two countries and possibly three. Even as we boast about our progress in Iraq, we see Afghanistan fall into chaos and Iran apparently asking to be attacked by our impatient and reactionary leadership. Immigrants make up a new class of people to be hated and persecuted. Notice how the word for undocumented people went from “immigrant workers” to “illegal immigrants” to the objects, “illegals”. Minorities and young Americans openly question the veracity of governing institutions, although their numbers in protest are miniscule compared with yesteryear.

convention2bthecloudcrimethinccom2008Crimethinc.com, 2008

Barack Obama does not represent merely a revolt from the diseased status quo, in spite of what Rush Limbaugh might say. Barack Obama is part of both the old guard and needed revolution. Obama is an Ivy League educated, well-connected part of the political culture. He is also an African American with ideas of community organization, social justice and strong international negotiation. Barack Obama is quite capable of shifting paradigms from existing paradigms at the same time. Obama can push for economic justice while railing against deadbeat fathers that won’t pay for their children. Barack Obama can speak of talking with our enemies while promising to throw bombs into Pakistan if it means killing Osama bin Laden.

obamahopeprogressneublack022008Neublack.com, 2008

Barack Obama has many problems to face but much credit to take if things even go from terrible to bad. He can refresh our view of government while not feeling stripped of its protective duties. Barack Obama can encourage us to think beyond our present position while remaining responsible to ourselves and society. The time of the Great Society brought just as much violence and self service as historical progress. Barack Obama can usher some more, much needed, change while keeping us on task socially, personally and morally.

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Filed under American Electorate, Democratic Party, Media, Obama, Protest

I Told You So

By Stephen Noriega

I posted the blog on September 15th, 2008. It was right after the GOP convention, when everyone loved her. I said this was the worst pick for the John McCain campaign. Now I get to say, “I told you so” with pride, annoying volume and belligerent indignation.

sarahpalin21

Photo by The National Inquirer, distributed 2008

It came to pass quickly, Senator McCain, that your only path to winning an election was doing things that may damage you further than this campaign. Governor Palin took John McCain places that he will regret. In the heat of this contest, with veneers of anger shrouding the obvious, McCain fell into the Palin trap of off-message rants and poisonous speeches designed to illicit fear and xenophobia, not optimism or hope©.

Governor Palin made it quite clear that she wished to be an active, policy-making Vice President. This is simply a continuation of a modern trend. Starting with Richard Nixon and his ambassadorial skills, the Vice President has slowly become more important. Al Gore was often criticized for taking an excessive role in helping Clinton with policy issues. Dick Cheney took the office to a whole new level, holding secret meetings, being in charge of entire policy realms and showing a true disdain for Congress and even the voters.

Did McCain really want a powerful vice president with whom he could barely get along? Sarah Palin did not answer the third grader’s question incorrectly. She meant that she wanted to have power and influence over the Senate. Perhaps Sarah Palin is not ignorant about constitutional issues, at least compared to most other people. Sarah Palin has been an executive of larger and larger offices and she saw this as a path to even more political clout. She will certainly not be another Thomas R. Marshall (considered the laziest Vice President under Woodrow Wilson). She wanted to be another Dick Cheney. Perhaps she knows painfully little about the Constitution. This is even more frightening than a politician’s ambition. With the clothing scandal, she may end up being another Spiro Agnew, constantly messing with McCain’s authority like Agnew did with Nixon until being pulled asunder by a petty transgression. (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-edwards-lichtman5-2008sep05,0,5935217.story)

It is not just Palin’s eye on power that had McCain in a bad way because of her. Palin is a politician, and politicians seek power. That is what they do. But Palin couldn’t even follow the talking points of the campaign. McCain must have developed serious reservations about how she will follow policy talking points once comfortably in Washington, D.C. When the issue of Palin’s clothes emerged as a thorn in the campaign, everyone tried to stifle the nano-scandal and move on. Not Governor Palin. She continued to defend the $150,000.00+ makeover.

Even people in the McCain campaign revolted. Anonymous rats, stinging with bitterness of being in the wrong campaign, started to take shots at the candidate with the anxious ears of the press wide open.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone… She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.” (CNN – 10/2008)

Palin has shown sides of this in the media view. Instead acting humble, especially after some disastrous interviews with infamous soft-ball-throwers like Katie Couric, Palin went on the offense. She spewed venom at rallies that incited the lunatic fringe of her party with never a speck of clarification or apology. When McCain saw the potential destructive nature of this, he voiced his disapproval of the personal hatred campaign, something an honorable person does. Palin apparently never got the memo.

With each bumble, misunderstanding of history, petty scandal and word of aggression, Governor Sarah Palin demonstrated how she was the worst pick the McCain campaign could have made. This is not about gender. This is not about politics or political agendas. This is about a person who did not deserve, because of a lack of competence, any consideration of such an importance office.

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Filed under American Electorate, McCain, Palin, Republican, Vice-President