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Beware the Jabberwock!

Mark A. Goldman                                                                       Dated: 4/5/07


Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!  Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!”   –Lewis Carroll

On February 28, 2007, Newt Gingrich masterfully demonstrated how to misdirect your attention by telling the truth.  Mario Cuomo did the same thing.  Republican. Democrat. The Jubjub bird. The Bandersnatch.  I just watched the 'debate' on CSPAN yesterday.  You can also find it here:

The two of them met at The Cooper Union (search: Lincoln at Cooper Union) in what was billed as a debate. The host was Tim Russert of NBC's 'Meet the Press'. This was no debate. This was subterfuge disguised as intelligent conversation. Don't stop reading yet.

It was quite an interesting event, too. First up was Newt Gingrich who knocked me off my chair by actually telling the truth about how government functions, or rather doesn’t function, and he didn’t exclude the Bush administration. One might be tempted to say that he didn’t pull any punches. At least I was almost tempted. He actually said some interesting things and talked about how much we needed change in politics, in government, in America. He talked about reforming Presidential campaigns, nuclear proliferation, and how we could have a health care system that works.

He talked about real change. He was almost brilliant. He was also a deceiver. It was a cover up. When he asked why we haven't had a national dialog about nuclear weapons and how important it was… that was calculated misdirection. Nuclear proliferation is dangerous to be sure, but nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea or Iran is not the mortal threat we face today. The threat we face comes from within.

I couldn’t help wondering what happened to the old Newt. Here we have a man who once behaved like a mad shark who would say or do just about anything to accumulate power at the expense of the truth and basic decency. He as much as anyone was responsible for convincing Republican officeholders to completely surrender their sovereignty to their party leadership in order to accumulate and consolidate power... to win elections... to dominate government. And what was the result? The disenfranchisement of The People.

Some of the time on stage he actually sounded like a hero. In fact, his comments were so thoughtful that Mario Cuomo almost fell over himself. When asked who would make the most interesting Republican candidate for President in 2008, Mario thought that Newt would be their best choice. Maybe he would be. While he thought Clinton would be the most likely standard bearer for the Democrats, the way I heard it, Mario honestly couldn’t think of any Democrat who was really qualified to be president. I can't either.

Mario was no slouch with his ideas either. He was not quite as on target as Newt was, in my view, but he did say some interesting things. He criticized the Democrats, for example, for being unwilling to discuss anything of real importance. Democrats, he said, have an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t talk about anything controversial during a campaign. The idea being, that the most important thing to remember in order to get elected... is not to rock the boat. The idea being, that if you don’t get elected you will never get to do the things you really want to do. The idea being, that once you do get elected, then you can do the important work you always had in mind.

Well, Mario rightly pointed out that this is just the strategy of cowards and fools. If you don’t raise the issues when you’re running for office, the public won’t be prepared for them once you are elected, so you won’t be able to get them done once you are in office anyway.

So what was so deceptive about all of this? It sounded like a pretty enlightening conversation to most listeners I’m sure? It sounded that way to me at first. I enjoyed it so much I was almost willing to believe my ears.

It took me awhile but I finally figured out what could possibly inspire Newt to actually tell the truth about how bad government and this administration is: by telling the audience the truth about bureaucratic and governmental dysfunction and offering a few good suggestions about how to make things work better, he was able to gain the trust of his audience. But I don't think his intention was in any way altruistic. He used the truth to avoid talking about a much greater truth. He used the truth to avoid talking about what is really important: this administration and this Congress are more than incompetent... they're a malignancy on our republic.

Newt was right when he said he was afraid for his grandchildren; that they were in more danger now than he was when he was a child. They are. And he is part of the reason they are. Why? Partly because of how he conducted himself when he was in office and partly because he is still covering up the real danger we face even now as we enter the last turn in the bend just before we head over the precipice.

Our Constitutional republic is being replaced by a fascist regime right before our eyes. It threatens to end the great American experiment itself. These people are usurping our freedoms, leaving every honest American bereft of the legacy we promised our children. What we are facing here is treason.

We do need to improve government, but first we need to preserve the rule of law; we need to protect and preserve the Constitution.  What we have is not incompetence, but systemic corruption.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time for you to wake up now. You've got some catching up to do.

“What has happened to basic honor and decency?  Torture?  Rendition?  Indefinite detentions?  The right to be legitimately represented by an attorney?  Fraudulent elections? Depleted Uranium?  Cluster bombs in populated areas?  Dead citizens floating in the street?  No-bid contracts?  Secrecy?  Signing statements?   Criminal incompetence and negligence?”


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