- Ilias Katsos: the Colossus of …Georgitsi who Built the Colossi of New York
- Madeline Singas Confirmed to New York State Court of Appeals
- Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection Fellows Researching Fascinating Greek American History
- “Eye Spy” a Moment: Inside the Lens of Photojournalist Tasos Katopodis
- AHEPA Celebrates 99th Anniversary and Greece’s Bicentennial with its Annual Convention in Athens
It takes a crook to expose the crooks…
If fits the surreal of this election that Donald Trump is accusing Hillary Clinton of representing the interests of billionaires and of Wall Street at the expense of the common man. It’s like Hillary accusing Donald of representing the interests of–unions. Which is true! A big part of his success as a businessman emanates from his ability to bring unions over to his side, making the constructing of huge edifices in New York possible—just like it’s true that Hillary’s political success owes to her support from Wall Street throughout the years.
This is the best democracy money can buy, as Greg Palast put it years ago in his book of the same title, and unless you have the dough you make no bread, my friend. This is the state of the American politics today and we are all in it, voters and voted. It’s easy to point the finger to the people on stage, the politicians, and blame them for everything, but have we taken a minute to ask ourselves when did we stop being citizens, if we ever were, and instead turned to pathetic spectators—and not even the kind that you find in football stadiums? At least they are engaged, we are not!
It wasn’t my intention to give democracy lessons; I believe you can only teach by example and I’m not much better in that regard. The feeling of hopelessness when it comes to politics, the knowledge that we can’t do much to change the course of a system that affects our lives, is paralyzing. Pharmaceutical companies spent three billion(!) last decade in lobbying alone, so how can we ever hope to get affordable medicine that actually cures diseases instead of coping with the symptoms so that we do become and remain customers for life–literally drug addicts?
Even the bold and the beautiful get tired and either adapt or disappear. For the common folk indifference has become the prevalent form or resistance and our mortgage and debts are the front on which our daily struggle takes place in a Sissyphian manner. For the sake of sanity we turn to comedy, rock n’ roll, or both, but those are placebos with a temporary effect, strong enough to keep us in place, most of us, most of the time. Our appetite for more of everything feeds our addiction to material things and our total dependence on consumerism materializes as a “natural” consequence. If we are what we eat, then we become what we buy, and our existence is shaped by what we owe and for how long …
Often it takes a crook to expose the crooks so I believe that overall Trump’s candidacy has had a positive effect, so far. Sometimes things need to become worse before they get better and, who knows? if we’re lucky that might be the case now, whether he is elected or not. And I hope he will challenge the results! The smooth transition from one president to the next brought us where we are now, with no real choice, once more. Between a professional politician and a clown the choice isn’t always obvious: that’s why Hillary is struggling to win what should have been an easy landslide. If we had four, let’s say, viable candidates, then we could talk about one or more real choices and we’d be tempted to act as citizens, not as consumers of the only two dishes served, just like airline food.
“Natural” and “Naturalized” …
I also hope that Trump’s ascendancy and ridicule of our political system will lead to the kind of discussion that will end the awfully discriminatory state of two kinds of citizens: the “natural” (those who were born here) and the “naturalized” (foreign-born). For a country created and made up of immigrants this bipolar stance when it comes to citizenship is unacceptable! This “naturalized” status makes me feel …transgender! Who can question my patriotism and my Americanism? I have both a shrink and a lawyer! Either we are citizens, with absolutely equal rights, or we are not. This sort of discrimination made sense when it was implemented, for fear that some monarchists would push for the second son of the then- British king to become king of America. In our time only …Gipsy Kings came close in the ’90s and they too are over now.
Besides being unjust and discriminatory, this distinction between “natural” and “naturalized” prevents enlightened citizens like me(!) from running for president! I’m totally confident that I’m capable if only it were allowed. I was elected and triumphantly reelected president of the Association of Lefkadians in New York. Believe me, if I could manage to deal with the roughly 17 Lekfadians who showed up at the meetings for sure I can govern this country! Don’t forget, Obama too started as a community organizer–and he was foreign-born, if we believe both Hillary in 2008 and Trump since then!
Help feed the …rich!
Every year, members of the National Hellenic Society asked me why I don’t cover their convention. The answer was simple. I usually am in Greece in early fall and I would miss it for a few days.
This year I stayed on in the US, so I called their office and told them that I’m interested to covering the convention. The person I spoke to was happy to hear that and told me he would confirm with me shortly. In a few days I received an email from him indicating that the “founding father” of the organization said that if I wanted to do so I had to pay and being the generous he is offered “reduced rates” in order for me to attend the various events!
Now this is a small publication: we struggle with each issue to make ends meet. I have to pay for my airline ticket, for the hotel–and ON TOP OF THAT–I have to pay (at reduced rates) to cover THEIR convention?! The reduced rates have to do with the meals that are served at the events. In other words, they wanted me to pay for my lunch and dinner in order to give them FREE publicity! And so much for the famous Greek hospitality; although to admit the truth, we go there to work and not for the food. It might be hard for the “founding father” to believe it, but we poor have enough to eat: we don’t need to go to Vegas for that…
Joking aside, this is unheard of! Usually major organizations facilitate coverage by the Greek American media because they value their help and understand the struggle to survive every media outlet must face and overcome. If the organizations don’t want coverage they say so and we part friends. With all due respect to the “founding father” offering “reduced rates” sounds—cheap–and coming from him is impossible to believe!
Because I consider the National Hellenic Society an organization with great potential, albeit not displayed as of yet, I want to help! And since I’m a man of deeds, not just words, I decided to donate our last issue’s profits, $150 to be precise, to the organization to help with the meals and drinks of next year’s convention! I also urged associations such as the National Philoptochos, the Church, the benevolent societies in the names of various saints, even the Hellenic Initiative, to come together and create a fund for this purpose. We are Greeks after all and we must help those of us in need!
1) The other night Ann Coulter was accusing the Koch bothers of conspiring against Trump! We are living the absolute surreal in the American politics. What will be next, Tea Party for Hillary?
2) Whereas the Republicans were trying to exclude as many Black and Hispanic voters as possible from the voting lists, now they will be trying to make them vote any way possible so that Trump doesn’t get elected!
3) Poetic justice with the Deutsche Bank! Germans are hoping for the kind of solution they rejected as unacceptable for Greek and Italian banks…