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09 November 2012

Never Kick Anyone When They Are Down, Even Your Enemies. Give Good Advice Instead.

Lionel Barrymore as Henry Potter in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." Would he have given back the 8000 dollars if Uncle Billy hadn't kicked him while he was down?

     There is a crucial scene in Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, where Uncle Billy, the absent minded relative and business partner of main character, George Baily, is making an 8 thousand dollar deposit in his company’s bank account. After happily making out a deposit slip, Billy jaunts to the teller only to run into Mr. Henry F. Potter, the Baily family’s sworn enemy, being wheeled by his body guard. Potter is clutching that day’s local Bedford Falls’ news. This, Billy, Grabs right out of the old man’s hands and begins reading loudly, gloatingly, sarcastically about the return of George’s younger brother Harry to Bedford Falls after winning a Congressional Medal of Honor for action taken in the Pacific Theater.  Uncle Billy can’t resist gloating over this greedy but pathetically lonely old man in a wheel chair. Billy even defiantly compared Potter to Hitler saying that George had to stay home because there were heels here in this country and not just in Germany. Billy triumphantly folds Potter’s newspaper and flings it back into Potter’s hands, never realizing that he also handed him the deposit slip with the 8000 dollars cash in it. Later, Billy doesn’t remember if he even brought the money, and the audience sees him frantically looking for it. He swore that he had with him, but could never be sure. Meanwhile, the other, the enemy, Mr. Potter is seen in the foreground, holding in his fist his final evil revenge over HIS ENEMIES. As Mr. Potter said in an earlier scene, “Those Bailys have been a thorn in my side for years.” Sitting there in his office with a gleeful evil look on his face, Potter could have simply gone out there and embarrassed Billy in public, saying, “Here, you forgot this, you moron!!!,” and thrown the money back into his face. But Billy underestimated the bitterness of this crippled old man, jealous of a family, the Baily’s, he also saw as trying to always thwart his will. Potter had just suffered another humiliation at the hands of the cursed Bailys, and the fool had handed him his ultimate revenge. Instead of returning the 8000, Potter kept it, and as far as the viewer was concerned, he kept it long after the end of the movie since Potter never admitted to having it.

     I love this movie for many reasons, one of which is the lesson you learn from the above scene. It begs a question. What would have happened if, instead of mocking Potter and gloating, Uncle Billy had invited the gentleman to his nephew’s home for the holidays?

     Take it from me; there is no one who hates his enemies more than I. Yet, when you see them down and defeated (mass murderers excluded) don’t you sometime feel sorry for them? I hate to say it: but I do feel sorry for someone who is down, even my enemies. What’s wrong with being able to show some mercy for another member of the pathetic human race, even my enemies? Would this not perhaps change them to a friend?

Spoiler alert: Don’t read the next paragraph if you have not seen “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

     The entire point of the final scene where, after the 8000 dollar crisis is resolved and George is celebrating with all his family and friends, we learn that throughout the entire picture, George Baily was cultivating friends instead of money as Potter was cultivating money instead of friends. Remember the message that George’s guardian angel Clarence leaves him near the final frame that “No man (sic) is poor who has friends.”

     As upbeat as the ending was, we are still left with Mr. Potter out there, still steaming, still filled with rage, unrepentant, and making nefarious plans for the future. If only Uncle Billy had the same wisdom his nephew ended up being graced with because Potter may have made a nice addition to the holiday fabric.

     Bill Maher has often called the Republican Party the party of business. We must also remember that the Republican Party was the first progressive party of this nation under the tutelage of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, and even the early years of the Nixon administration. His administration created the EPA after all. Believe it or not, it was the Democratic Party that was right wing. They supported slavery in opposition to Lincoln’s opposition to it.

     This really baffles me all the time, but I think I understand it. This is why history is vitally important for all of us to be cognizant of. 

     I consider the radical right a constant enemy and scourge on both parties throughout their histories. In the latter years of US History as the Democratic Party moved toward the left, they somehow expelled the radical right wing scourge that had plagued them, but instead of this scourge dissipating, it settled like a nasty bit of toxic material on the Republican Party. Today’s GOP is now suffering the era of the far right disease. Our only hope is that they can expel it.

     There are many great people in today’s Republican Party including Steve Schmidt, Michael Steele, Tim Pawlenty, Colin Powell, and Joe Scarborough among others. I call on these and others, I beg them, to purge the GOP of the extreme right wing party that has hijacked intelligence and rationality for frothing outbursts of irrational hatred. The Democratic Party succeeded in doing this, so now it is up to you.

     Be like Dwight Eisenhower who may have been a conservative but never dreamed of undermining his country’s social contract. He never imagined imposing his personal religious views on others. He may have believed in smaller government, but that did not stop him from creating the interstate highways.  I personally do not agree with fiscal conservatism, but at least fiscal conservatives like the great Bob Dole did not try to destroy the social contract no matter how much they supported big business.

     The GOP has been hijacked by what Lawrence O’Donnell calls the “Bat Crap Crazy”.  The Republican Party fiscal conservative small government message is being obfuscated by vaginal probes, legitimate rape, wars on Planned Parenthood, wars on labor unions, wars in general. And I wish Michael Steele, Steve Schmidt, Colin Powell, Joe Scarborough, and Tim Pawlenty would form a coalition of Republicans demanding the ouster of the tea party right. Let these bat crap crazy extremists form their own party and disappear like the Whigs. Better than seeing a one party system in this country Republican or Democrat.

     I am not asking any conservative to give up what they believe in, but please stay out of a woman’s uterus. Please stay out of our bedrooms. Please respect the law of the land including the social contract and Roe vs. Wade. I never understood what bat crap craziness had to do with fiscal conservatism. Please, reasonable intelligent Republicans out there, please get rid of the bat crap crazies in your midst. Reclaim the party that both me and Bill Maher always disagreed with, but loved.

     If you need my helping progressive hand, agree or disagree, please do not hesitate as I never kick anyone, including my enemies, while they are down. I understand the horrible damage you could have wrought upon me if a Romney had won. Thankfully, we can breathe a sigh of relief that the voters have delivered us, albeit temporarily, from the hands of the Philistines.

     This does not mean that the idea of fiscal conservatism or the GOP is dead. It just means that it has to be retrieved amid the rubble wrought by the extreme right wing invasion. I call on true fiscal conservatives and scholars such as Schmidt, Steele, Pawlenty, Scarborough, and Powell to reclaim their Grand Old Party. I look forward to a future partnership, a fusion of the great principles from the left and from the right. It is quite sad how conservative intellects like Schmidt, Steele, Pawlenty, Powell and Scarborough are scuffled aside and replaced with West, Bachmann and others who have all made a mockery of the GOP and conservative principles in general.

     We need to reclaim the GOP and hence save our flawed but reparable two party democratic plutocratic republic. The only way to do this is to expel the righty extremist tea party from the Republican body politic.

     The GOP did not lose this election. They are being held hostage. It was the extreme Right Wing Bat Crap Crazy Tea Party that lost the historic 2012 election. AND WHEW, WHAT A RIDE THAT WAS!

     I am a proud progressive liberal who wants an intelligent opposition, not a one party dictatorship. Sadly, with the GOP under the Looney Spell, there will be no intelligent opposition until Schmidt, Steele, Pawlenty, Powell, and Scarborough step in. If they want to start up a Facebook page and begin the purge, if they need me to donate to save the GOP, I AM HERE BROTHER!

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