Archive for July, 2005

“All the Money’s in Poverty”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) disposes of money by the tens of millions of dollars.

The exact amount is not known because, as with Jesse Jackson, the Internal Revenue Agency will look at the SPLC’s books about the time that salamanders grow breasts. In any case, no one questions where the SPLC gets tens of millions each year, at least.

When President Johnson’s War Against Poverty got going in 1964, huge consulting firms began to spring up all around Washington. People who got government grants would say, without any humorous intent, “The money is in poverty.”

When I was an honorary Boston Southie, my little outfit of three people didn’t even have a bank account. But we organized a joint protest of the anti-busing and textbook protestors in Washington, DC that included at least ten thousand people. Every one of them was a working-class person who paid his own way from West Virginia, Boston, Louisville and other places to be there.

Our little apartment was known as “The Kanawha Hilton” because so many working people from that coal-mining area of West Virginia would stay there when they came to Washington.

The three of us, a former newspaper man, my legal secretary wife, and I would call up grassroots protests who couldn’t afford press relations people and ask them, “What do you want us to do?”

We did their press conferences, we marched with them, we spoke for them when they wanted us to. We rode with the independent truck drivers, we worked with wildcat coal strikers.

And we paid our own way.

It came as a bit of surprise when the Communist Party’s official publication, “The World,” announced that we were “part of a highly-financed right wing conspiracy.” They named us specifically, The Populist Forum, as one of the “heavily-financed right-wing groups.”

I remember reading in the Communist World in the 1960s a that a Jewish millionaire had left them a million dollars in his will. That was a million dollars in the 1960s, remember.

It was a small item because it wasn’t that much of a deal. A million bucks was nice, but it was in no way unusual. Plenty of limousine liberals gave them lots of money and whenever the head of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) went to Russia, they would send him home with a million dollar gift in his jeans.

Once again, we’re talking about a million bucks in the 1960s. With inflation and growth, the American Gross National Product (GNP) is well over ten times as high today as it was in the 1960s, so you can just multiply that figure by ten to get an idea of how much money I am discussing here.

The Communist Daily World was called the Daily Worker in the old days. That got sillier and sillier and sillier, since there were no workers in the party by 1960, and certainly no white gentile workers. Like every other Communist Party, the American one was led by people who would not know which end of shovel you dig with.

Lenin, Trotsky and all the “intellectuals” who ran the Communist Party there and here lived the high life. The leaders of the Revolution of the Poor and Oppressed never missed a meal and none of them ever did a day’s work in their lives.

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Incident

I got a comment saying “Fuch (sic) you all, bloggers.”

The e-mail address was chrismatthews@msnbc.com

Obviously this was not from Chris Matthews.

As you know, I hate the respect respectable conservatives show to liberals so they can be “respectable.”

So it may surprise you that I wrote back, “I knew Chris Matthews when I was on Capitol Hill. He was our opponent, but we respected him and I do not appreciate your using his name this way.”

Naturally the note came back as undeliverable. Chris had nothing to do with it.

This was a reaction, not a thought-out response.

Am I a hypocrite?

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Break a Leg!

Now that I am doing interviews, I often hear the phrase “Break a leg!’

As you know, it is considered bad luck in theater circles to wish an actor good luck. So you say to him, “Break a leg!”

Recently a well-wisher told me, as I faced an interview, “Break his leg!”

I replied that “Break his leg” is not necessarily a good thing to say to a former combat mercenary. It was a joke, but it reminded me of something.

Once I was waiting for a plane in an airport in Eastern Europe.

You know how it is, in cases like that you strike up conversations with people and it turns out that the people you just happen to talk to you are amazingly similar to you. So I started talking with a guy and it turned out he was a former member of the Special Forces, Army.

The man is now wealthy, but I would be willing to bet that, like me, he got an assignment in that country and was doing the work gratis.

I know that a lot of you are experts in martial arts and will tell me I don’t know what I am talking about, but a million years ago when I was young I learned a special kick to take out a person’s knee.

When I say take out, I do not mean a temporary incapacitation. If you are in unarmed combat and you used that kick, the knee was gone forever. Maybe modern surgery can take care of it, but back then it shoved the knee backwards and took out everything that goes with it.

It is a useful kick. It puts a lot of pressure on something and I use it to shove luggage back into line and so forth. I did that in the airport. When I did, I noticed one guy who was also waiting for the plane flinch. He could see the horror I could be doing to the person such a kick was intended for.

I said to the former Special Forces man, “I’ll bet you that man there is somebody we can relate to.”

So I got that guy into the conversation and, lo and behold, he too had been Special Forces, Air Force.

It was an interesting experience on a number of levels, and I hadn’t remembered until someone told me, “Break his leg.”

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The Big Guy

You cannot imagine what a relief it is to me that my staff REALLY TALK to each other.

When our team got started I told everybody they had to be SENIOR staffers. They took over because they LOVE the idea.

When a congressman or an executive hires senior staff, the main directive is, “Do it.”

I was a professional senior staffer.

People think that the man in charge, the Big Guy, wants to be on top of everything. In the real world, that’s the last thing the Big Guy wants.

If he did, he wouldn’t be a Big Guy.

I’m not a Big Guy, but one of my staff enjoys referring to me as “Hisself.” People who don’t understand the real world feel they are really “getting things done” when they talk directly with Hisself Himself.

But if Hisself knows what he is doing, he gets staff who keep on top of things. When you talk to me, I immediately call my staff and try to remember what the conversation was about.

That’s what every Hisself does.

There are no dictatorships. All governments are oligarchies.

Don’t mistake this for humility. This is reality.

I don’t think I have humility. I think I have guts. It takes guts to delegate. I used to tell the people who worked under me on Capitol Hill, “I will take responsibility for anything you DO. I will NOT take responsibility for what you DON’T do.”

People who can’t delegate lack the guts to take responsibility for the people they trust.

I am a lousy conduit. The fact is that when you are talking to any member of my staff you are talking to the person who is really responsible for what is going on.

They have told me that they are proud, and even “damned honored” to be my Senior Staffers.

[What He said. –Staff]

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You Can’t Be Right if You’re not Willing to be Wrong

I said that there no Annotated Constitution and Traeger Smith informed me that there is, and that there has been for a long time.

I am beginning to believe that there is NOTHING one or another of my commenters don’t know about. That would scare the hell out of the average college professor.

Which is one reason I am no longer a college professor.

I taught in college and I had to take over some graduate classes. Everybody there except me got to grad school by taking down what the professors said and regurgitating it. There are no surprises in class.

It is boring as hell.

No student is going to look something up to hit you with the way my commenters do. No student is going to have a point of view he won’t back away from.

I wasn’t like that, and you will notice that I didn’t make it in Academia.

This blog is entirely different. You KNOW things. You are willing to stick your necks out and be hit back.

I am willing to stick my neck out and I fully expect you to knock me down when I’m wrong or when you disagree. That’s what I ENJOY.

I am an actual intellectual. I am not interested in a producing a bunch of intellectual clones who say predictable things. Old Bob is the dictator of his own little blog, but his little blog is here to hammer out what is right and what is wrong.

Ole Bob has been wrong many times in the past and Ole Bob will be wrong many times in the future.

When I am wrong, it can be embarrassing, but I also know that if you are never wrong, something is wrong with YOU.

If you’re so careful you never say anything stupid, you are not doing any serious thinking or any serious questioning.

Any person who really thinks is going to be wrong a LOT.

So when I’m wrong you tell me so.

People are always warning me against making sweeping statements. They tell me it makes me vulnerable.

Vulnerable to what?

Well, they say, it makes me vulnerable to getting caught making a mistake.

The difference between them and me is that what they call making a terrible mistake is what I call learning.

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