Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Current Comedy, 12/16/08: This Year’s Holiday Hits

Every year some lame pundit whips up some sorry ass Christmas song parodies as if that counted for clever commentary. It’s one of the oldest tropes in the business, and who am I not to respect tradition? ‘Tis the season to make folly, as they say.
While there has been quite a bit of speculation as to which holiday hits fist dap the top of the charts with the First Family-elect, there is building evidence that current White House occupants intend to bah-humbug the whole season. After all, Bush isn’t expecting much from Santa this year (there’s that whole “naughty or nice” thing), but at least a member of the Iraqi press made him a present of a nice pair of shoes.
Meanwhile the rest of the regrouping Republicans are gathering around the yule log of American Democracy as their Teutonic forebears once did, trying to reignite it with these festive lines:
Auto Industry, Au-to Industry
How fast we see you fading
You wanna pass for wasting all that gas
What made you keep on waiting?
Global war-ming’s
Way past proof
Gore inconven-i-enced us with that truth
Ignore rich whores
Who run the show
Fox News’ll still
Blame the workers though
Auto Industry, Auto Industry
We used to say buy USA
Till you pissed all that goodwill away
Auto Industry, Auto Industry
Ya make hybrid Hondas looks better everyday

As for Obama, however, the consensus seems to be that his choice for holiday hit is a tie between the holiday chestnut “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot like Clinton” or that old evergreen “Chicago Pols Are Coming to Town.”
While the Dem mainstream seems to prefer the old-time rhymes of the former--
It’s beginning to look a lot like Clinton
In every cabinet post
Got Richardson back again
And that Summers that won’t end
And Geithner to keep the economy burnt as toast

--as for that song and dance, I just have to sing right back:
On the twenty- seventh day of the Transition Obama sent to me
A woman I’d rejected in the name of Hil-lar-y

The case for or against “Chicago Pols Are Coming To Town” is a bit more complicated, like trying to explain anyway Obama’s not-very-lifelike denial of a connection with the Illinois governor’s attempt to market Obama’s vacant senate on EBay as if it were used tinsel. Appointing the head of Chicago public schools, Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Dept. of Education is like appointing Mrs. O’Leary’s cow chief fire safety inspector. Bush did the same thing with Rod Paige, from the soon-to-be discredited Houston school district and look what that brought us: 7 years of “No Child Left with Mind.” Oh come on, with fellow Chicago pol, Rohm Emmanuel already ransomed and captive to Israel, one wonders whose silver bells Obama will be answering to?
Chicago politicians have long held a reputation for jingling all the way to the bank. It is no coincidence that Chicago’s city hall was once the inspiration for the perennial season favorite “God Arrest You, City Councilmen.” As David Moberg writes in his article “State of Disgrace” for The New Republic “Since 1971, according to University of Chicago political scientist Dick Simpson, at least 1,000 state and local politicians or businessmen have been convicted of political corruption charges, including 30 Chicago aldermen, as have two of the last four governors (with Blagojevich poised to make it three out of five).”
Speaking of which, one thing’s for sure, despite his Windy City roots, Obama won’t be caught dead humming along to any tune involving a certain governor currently roasting over an open fire. Right now he is a lot more likely to be favoring “All I want for Xmas is to knock out Blagojevich’s two front teeth” over the more traditional “Gov. Blagojevich Song.”
Blagojevich arrives just in time as an almost too perfect spoiler, plopping into this auspicious news cycle to remind Americans of the long established Democratic reputation as cheats and scammers. It is a tradition that goes back to the party’s roots in Andrew Jackson. Blagojevich may be dreaming of a black and white prison jumpsuit colored Christmas, meanwhile Obama must grit his teeth at the strains of his very first and sure to be least favorite gift this season: a brand new scandal:
Gov. Blagojevich looked down
On a prized seat in the Senate
While Chicago pols bumbled all about
Like cops choreographed by Mack Sennett.
Asking for a cool one mil
and a cushy job for his honey
who knows how far this mess might spread
if Fitzgerald chases the money?

-mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cheney Prison Abuse Investigation Officially Dismantled

December 10, 2008 Raymondville, TX—In a story that is already disappearing from view, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra has been removed from prosecuting the prison abuse scandal case that brought national attention to this South Texas town by charging Vice President with conspiracy to profit from prisoner abuse and neglect.
Though the case initially portended to possibly have national impact, today’s news is just the latest act of what has evolved into an ongoing battle of wills between prosecutor and judge, State District Judge Manuel Banales, a judge Guerra attempted to have recused from the case and had warned would be prejudiced against him. Banales, who had already thrown out Guerra original set of indictments on technicalities, has now barred Guerra from in any way working on the case which appears to be the only criminal charges likely to be filed against any high ranking member of the Bush administration.
Guerra was further ordered to turn over all files in his possession regarding the case, thus effectively dismantling the investigation Guerra has been pursuing for the last six years.
His investigation finally came to light on Nov. 17th when a grand jury impaneled by Guerra returned indictments against a handful of local officials who had been harassing Guerra as he attempted to conduct an investigation into charges of corruption and abuse/negligence at a local ICE immigration prison. While infighting and corruption among law enforcement officials is hardly new in the four borderland counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley (note this bizarre case occurring on the same day), what caught the eye of reporters and pundits nationwide was that Guerra’s indictments included two astonishingly high profile names: Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales, as well as a state senator, Eddie Lucio.
Cheney owned stock in the company owned the GEO Group, the company that managed the prison; and Alberto Gonzales had gotten involved in the efforts to quash Guerra’s investigation, or so his indictments claim, though the world may never know the truth. On Dec. 1st when Banales dismissed the indictments he also refused to allow any of Guerra’s massive accumulation of evidence to be introduced into the record.
With his new ruling on Dec.10th Banales is in effect attempting to confiscate those records. As hearing ended Texas Rangers escorted Guerra out of the courtroom to guarantee he would relinquish the files he had been amassing for years. A special prosecutor, pro tem district attorney Alfredo Padilla, has been assigned to review the case and Guerra has been ordered to not discuss it with the grand jury when they reconvene this Friday Dec. 12th, though many wonder if the files will ever see the light of day.
Throughout the month-long hyper-public ordeal, Guerra’s outspoken and often outrageous demeanor has made him a target in the press and been the main justification for Banales’ dismantling of the case. Throughout his 20 year on again off career as the Willacy County District Attorney, Juan Angel Guerra has so earned a reputation for theatrical confrontation that his early career was chronicled in celebrated documentarian Hart Perry’s 2003 film Valley of Tears (a staple on liberal television networks like Free Speech TV).
One wonders if in this case that bombastic public persona proved to be his undoing.
Guerra did not appear in court when the charges were first announced. Later in the procedural hearing to recuse Banales, Guerra had a shouting match with the judge, who pointedly left Banales in charge. That same afternoon Banales would summarily dismiss the all charges, including those against Cheney and Gonzales, thus preventing the nature of those charges from even being heard in open court.
Finally on the 10th, according various reports of the three and a half hour hearing, Guerra erratic behavior was at its most extreme. Emma Perez-Trevino’s article in the Brownsville Herald, documents that “Guerra refused to answer numerous questions and challenged the court to hold him in contempt and jail him.” Christopher Sherman’s AP article for the Houston Chronicle explains that “Banales said the only reason he did not hold Guerra in contempt was to deny the prosecutor ‘any dignity whatsoever’ after the disrespect he showed the court.”
With his case completely dismissed, and dismantled, and his records confiscated; having his outrage at the corruption he hoped to challenge turned into a weapon against him, an unsupportive national liberal media who first championed then shunned his case without first looking into its merits, and even having his own home foreclosure become fodder for public derision, one hopes Banales will accept that he has achieved his goal in publicly destroying Juan Guerra. Banales may feel he has achieved justice in his own personal battle of wills with Guerra, but for Guerra supporters around the country and the families of abused and neglected prisoners in GEO prisons across the country if they will ever be allowed their day in court.
Unfortunately for the prisoners held in the privately run prison system the GEO groups runs and Dick Cheney in part owns and in part shapes through his office as Vice President, their struggle for justice and humane treatment was never the topic of the coverage of their case. Prisoners in US privately run prisons die off at a rate five times faster than those in publicly operated prisons and the health care issue that Guerra had hoped to address has already been a scandal unto itself as documented in Wil S. Hylton 2003 Harper’s article, "Sick on the Inside."
The next and possibly final scene in this courtroom drama takes place Friday when the Willacy County Grand Jury reconvenes one final time before Guerra steps down at the end of the month. With pro tem DA Alfredo Padilla on hand to act as his muzzle, Guerra will not be allowed to discuss the case in any way; though he has vowed to continue to fight to prove his accusation of systemic corruption in the private prison industrial complex, no matter which legal hurdles are thrown in front of him and even after he leaves office.
“What does all that matter with people dying in these prisons from this neglect and abuse?” Guerra shared in a personal call with this reporter following the Dec. 1 dismissals. “They can humiliate me, they can take my home; but what does that matter when people are dying from abuse and neglect?”
With determination like that, America will have to stay tuned.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Current Comedy, 12/08/08: The Seven Types of Propaganda, Obama Style

Today while looking through the new US history book I am to teach with, I found their discussion of propaganda tucked into the coverage of the American Revolution. Not where I would’ve put it, but appropriate enough. It was not the first time that intentionally misleading promotions and pronouncements in periodicals prodded an American public into a war. Nor was it the last.
As you may recall from your high school journalism class, or from that one crazed social studies teacher who kept imploring you to be less gullible than an Eloi marching blindly into a Morlock cave, there are seven types of propaganda. While Bush boners like the “Healthy Forests Initiative” and “you’re either with us or against us” may have been painfully plain to the liberal among us, Obama might be harder to peg.
Obama did not simply buy his way into the presidency, he talked us into it; even if he did raise seven hundred and fifty million dollars, outspending McCain 2-1 in the homestretch. Clearly Obama made his case with the American people; but his campaign was no less manufactured than McCain, except Obama’s worked. He didn’t talk America into hiring him it by being the anti-politician; he did it by being the best politician the money could buy.
Educational ethics lead me to disclaim that the following list is based on an online handout I stole from Dan McDowell of West Hills High School in Santee, CA, without his foreknowledge, but with his permission and my apology, in the hopes we can all just write this off as educational intellectual freedom in the further hope some of us might learn something.
Barack Obama has worked very hard to appear to all things to all people while campaigning, but now that he is defining himself through his cabinet appointments and press releases; it could be fun for the strong stomached to parse the propaganda factor in Obama’s present pitches. Or it could be distressingly predictable and depressing.
Obama’s propaganda does not protrude as pronouncedly as Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” codpiece, but he’s still got it hanging seven different ways.
APPEAL TO AUTHORITY: Appeals to authority cite prominent figures to supports a position, idea, argument, or course of action.
We’ll start with reminding you of something that you already knew: no one gets into the club unless they are already a member. Oh sure, Obama and McCain competed to see who was the farthest outsider and the most maverick; but most mavericks are out on the range, not in the Hart Senate Office Building. They don’t call the Senate the “Millionaires’ Club” for nothing.
Oh yeah, Obama’s been in there with “the haves and the have mores,” those adorable folks Bush calls his base. We’re talking Bilderbergs, baby. Obama’s been hanging out with them since he got hot, just like Hillary, Robert Gates, Bill Richardson, Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, and Tom Daschle. You throw in cabinet member memberships in the Council on Foreign Relations and other NWO-type group and you’ve got most of Obama’s people coming from the crowd that produced Bush’s people. I am sure we’re all agreed that those guys are indeed the authorities on how to run a government … straight into the ground.
GLITTERING GENERALITIES: This approach is closely related to what is happening in TRANSFER (see above). Here, a generally accepted virtue is usually employed to stir up favorable emotions. The problem is that these words mean different things to different people and are often manipulated for the propagandists' use. The important thing to remember is that in this technique the propagandist uses these words in a positive sense. They often include words like: democracy, family values (when used positively), rights, civilization, even the word "American."
In the campaign Obama’s greatest strength was that he didn’t give a simple answer. Even his shorter remarks were built on specifics. In politics that is often mistaken for telling the truth. Now of course, President –elect Obama is happy to speak in generalities. For example, on Obama’s change.gov website, in his Friday 12/5 speech, which addresses the half a million jobs lost last month alone, among the over two million this year, Obama promises “to put people back to work and get our economy moving again.”
Good thing we didn’t elect the other guy. He probably wouldn’t have thought of those kinds of things. (OK, knowing McCain, maybe not.)
BANDWAGON: The basic idea behind the bandwagon approach is just that, "getting on the bandwagon." Either everyone is doing it or supporting this person or cause, so you should too. The bandwagon approach appeals to the conformist in all of us: No one wants to be left out of what is perceived to be a popular trend.
Do you have your Obama plate? Everybody wants one. You don’t want to be the heretic who doesn’t love him enough to collect plastic crap for him, do you?
TESTIMONIAL: This is the endorsement of a philosophy, movement or candidate. While celebrities are usually used, it can be people who supposedly "know" about the topic or situation.
Unfortunately for some of us, many of the people who have lately taken to endorsing Obama are actually far scarier than Rev. Wright or Bill Ayers ever were. When Karl Rove cup of Thanksgiving cheer includes a WSJ editorial praising Obama, you know he isn’t in the same party as Kucinich anymore. These days Obama’s looking so Republican even GOP hard-line pundit David Horowitz has taken to fronting for him.
PLAIN FOLKS: Here the candidate or cause is identified with common people from everyday walks of life. The idea is to make the candidate/cause come off as grassroots, all-American, for the common man.
Obama photo-ops are a clear winner in this field. It is probably not even possible to take this image any further of being a man of the common earth than the now iconic pic of Obama’s feet propped up revealing his soles worn through.
TRANSFER: Transfer employs the use of symbols, quotes or the images of famous people to convey a message not necessarily associated with them. In the use of transfer, the posters attempt to persuade us through the indirect use of something we respect, such as a patriotic or religious image, to promote specific ideas.
As Daily Show’s Jon Stewart justly chortles, Obama’s bunting bill is more getting obscene than the GOP Styrofoam fake straw hat bill. No less than five flags flank the dauphin as he makes pronouncements these days. That’ll teach you, lapel flag flakes, who is the REAL patriot.
FEAR: This technique is very popular during wartime. The idea is to present a dreaded circumstance and usually follow it up with the kind of behavior needed to avoid that horrible event.
Wanna create some fear? Start here: All the Robert Rubin acolytes given high positions of power did not help many Americans feel warm and fuzzy. During the campaign Obama rightly slammed McCain as wrong on deregulation, but now he’s advancing the same kinds of people? When the audience commented on what appeared to be smoke and mirrors in selling repackaged Clinton Redux as “Change,” the Obama reaction was swift and reminiscent of the way Ari Fleischer used to do such a heck of a job reminding folks they should watch their step for being too liberal. Now Obama’s got Steven Hildebrandt to do it for him.
Keeping the theme going, recent admissions reveal the Obama “Take America Back for the American People” plan has already lost its crowd pleasing components of taxing the rich and windfall oil profits. Oops, there goes some of that populous luster. And how about this James Ramstad, the proposed “Drug Czar”? No wonder they call the position “Drug Czar.” The guy is charge of a Gulag the size of Siberia, and Ramstad seemed intent on keeping it that way.
Remember the Yes Men’s faux New York Times edition, where an Obama admin would be a liberal’s dream come true? Well, for this one liberal the dream is coming nightmare: that I’ll wake up in ’09 and it will be ’02 again.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Current Comedy 12/1/08: On Not Drinking the Kool-Aid for General Jim Jones

There are plenty of stories ripe for lampooning. A ton of stories begging for your attention: We could stare in open-mouthed disbelief with the rest of the mainstream media at the Mumbai terrorist attacks, which is exactly what we are being instructed to do on most every news front. Which is exactly the reason we should resist the temptation. Mumbai, a terrible terrorist tragedy at a very opportune time for those given to oppressing, is almost too exquisitely 9/11-ish. Terror Takes Center Stage, ignore all other news stories.
I also refuse to drink the Kool-Aid over the appointment of Jim Jones, General Jim Jones that is, to NSA chief, along with the return of Robert Gates at Defense and “Why-the-hell-not, Hillary Clinton” to the Secretary of State. Mainstream media may be gawking at how smoothly the transition is going. But from the view we get out here in the sticks, the baton passing isn’t so impressive. We already know the truth: the less you change, the easier the transition.
If Obama really was working to improve our security, he’d do more to protect us from the outgoing Bush admin, who are just about finished rewriting the Labor Dept. workplace safety standards on toxic exposures. According to the New York Times, this is the first of many little nuggets on Bush’s final to-do list of still more ways to screw us before leaving office.
For that matter Obama could also make a statement or two about Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s efforts to prevent Bush pre-emptive pardons for his outgoing lackeys. Stopping Bush or at least promising to undo him is “change that we need.” Restaging a faux Clinton Camelot is “more of the same.” Now there’s the chant we should be hearing. Where’s that Biden when you need him?
But for me, over these last two weeks, the story that has hit closest to home came from my hometown, Raymondville, Texas; and from a friend I have kept up with since high school, more than 30 years ago, Juan Angel “Johnny” Guerra. Touch me, I’m famous. Once upon a time I had PE with the guy who tried to lock up Dick Cheney.
Many on both the left and the right side of the media will spin this story down to nothing and have been aiming to bury it as quietly as possible. But for me, Juan Angel Guerra is a hero I wish more people would write about.
I was in Raymondville for my mother’s funeral on Oct. 23rd, so my wife and I dropped by his county offices to see him, the day he initially filed the then-secret, now famous, or infamous, indictments. He shut the doors and leaned to us to whisper. He told us of a massive corruption and prisoner abuse case he had just finished with the grand jury. The case was too big, too hot. It was nationwide. It went all the way to the top. He couldn’t even talk about it there.
We followed him to his house out by the county line. It felt like the scene in the second reel of a movie where the brainiac explains the secret plot to the hapless dupes while they are checking to see if that black SUV is following them. Turned out, with the aid of a woman named Blanca, Guerra had been secretly pursuing the case for years. He had corporate flow charts and prisoner rights videos in stacks, folders of folders in folders of folders on his desktop, and cases, literally cases, of paper files stacked around the room. The whole house that we could see had been turned into a private office for this one case.
But it was too much to comprehend, especially while dealing with 80 years of my family’s debris and 50 years of my own memories. We left with my head a-swirl. I offered to write a story about the indictments when they came out, you know, to help promote them. He said that was OK. He was already in touch with the New York Times. We laughed, but it was true.
On November 17th Guerra stunned the world by managing to do what no other prosecutorial official in the United States had had the cajones to attempt: he brought charges against Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales. These weren’t little charges either. Cheney was accused of using his influence as vice president to direct prisoners and prison money to have ICE immigration prisons built to be managed by a company he owns stock in. And, further, that in the interest of making a profit, this company cuts so many corners as regards prisoner medical treatment and safety that prisoners in the Raymondville Texas facility and across the country had died as a direct consequence of that willful neglect.
As for Gonzales, the charge was that he had used his power as US Attorney General to stop investigations into GEO Group in general and the Raymondville prisons in particular. Further, Gonzales was only one of many in the criminal justice system who sought to stymie Guerra’s investigations into corruption in the prison system. As part of the long ranging efforts to thwart Guerra’s investigations into the prison corruption case, for 18 months trumped up indictments hung over his head, hobbling his investigation and losing him his re-election bid. In addition to the high profile targets like Cheney and Gonzales, there were a handful of local indictments bundled in the mix for good measure.
You probably never heard the story reported that way. You weren’t supposed to. The Guerra story was meant to marginalize any die-hards who still had hopes of seeing criminal justice-style retribution against the blasphemies of the Bushco years. The case was made to look like a loser from the get. The majority of the news stories that reported on Guerra’s effort to follow one money trail through the corrupt side of the American Police State Prison Economy movement were written to make Guerra out as the fool for indicting the people who had worked together to falsely indict him, and depicted the Cheney-Gonzales connection as outlandishly Byzantine at best, and most likely, simply preposterous.
It was a story built up to tear down. Even the Left was supposed to laugh at the country bumpkin county DA who once protested those charges against himself by camping in the front yard of the county court house with farm animals. Jon Stewart took his turn at mocking Guerra’s efforts on the Daily Show, leading his show with a bit about it when news of the indictments was new. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales tried to crowd him explaining the complex paper trail that took years to assemble into an interview with less than 10 minute for the segment, leaving Guerra looking inarticulate, out of his depth and chopping off his entire explanation of the Gonzales connection.
It all went as planned. Despite Guerra’s stalling efforts to give the story time to build momentum, the story instead was laughed off in less than a week. Except Guerra didn’t know he was a joke. He thought it really was wrong to use positions of power to swing government contracts. He thought it was wrong to hinder investigations into the abuse, neglect and deaths of prisoners. It was wrong to leave people, even guilty ones, to suffer and die more often in exchange for making an extra buck or two; and wrong for him to not try to do something about it.
But, he was wrong. Like I said, it was a story built to tear down. You weren’t supposed to believe it anyway. That story was officially put to rest today, Dec. 1, as so many of us feared it would: all charges being summarily dismissed. On a technicality no less, with none of Guerra’s reams of amassed evidence even admitted.
On the 10th is a hearing to stop him from attempting to re-file indictments in revised form. Since his term ends at New Year’s, the case will then be lost and soon forgotten. One doubts whether national media, which briefly hovered around the tantalizing prospect of Cheney on trial, before moving on to other issues to drone to death, will even deign report the outcome.
Like I say, most of us knew the case would come to nothing. Motions upon motions would delay, misconstrue and eventually bury any case such as this where an earthling tries to reach up and touch power with justice. But for a couple of weeks we had another chance to believe that change could possibly actually come.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Footnote: Hollywood cinematographer/director Hart Perry, wrote about Guerra and made him one of the stars in the 2003 film, Valley of Tears, Perry’s immense twenty year spanning documentary on race relations in Raymondville, home of the farm workers strike of 1979, the Casteneda v. Pickard lawsuit which established bilingual mandates for schools in America and Guerra. Yours truly appears in the film at 16:27 in the background of a march which came in from west of town, i believe on a Saturday. I'm wearing a white tee shirt, red shorts and looking doofy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Current Comedy, 11/17/08: Little Georgie Jr. Loses His Very Own Iraq War

Yep, you read that title right. So stop the presses, whatever other news you were thinking about ignoring, ignore this one first.
I know, I know, you were hoping I would comment on Georgia Representative Paul Broun setting a new North American land speed record, and coming in a close second to the world record time, for calling a newly minted world leader a “Hitler.” Last week, displaying his lightning fast GOP-style smearing techniques, Rep. Broun labeled Barack Obama a Hitler less than ten days after his election. The only faster recorded time was that of the Berlin press corps who on Jan. 30, 1933 called Hitler a “Hitler” on the pretty much the same day of his appointment as Chancellor. It will stay a hard record to break.
I also do not intend to expound on Fox News finally noticing that Obama did indeed run as a centrist; nor will I re-demonize the de-demonizers who are currently trying to demonize the demonizers of President Bush. I apologize for not bashing those apologists. This is better than that whole roundelay, here’s the news: Little Georgie just lost his very own Iraq War.
That’s right, in breaking news on Monday Nov. 17, 2008, the US and Iraq signed a finalizing peace accord with a, gets this, a “timetable” creating a schedule for US troops leaving the country, evacuating according to terms dictated not by Bush, but by Iraq. Iraqi government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh framed impending departure like this: the “best possible, available option” was for US “forces [to] withdraw on June 30, 2009 from cities and districts to bases agreed upon by Iraq and the US administration. This date is not liable to change according to the situation on ground. The date is definite and final."
The US would further be required to vacate the country entirely, including all the personnel for all those big beautiful bases we just built/bought, all 150,000 Americans, by New Year’s Eve 2011. Let me repeat that last line from the Iraqi spokesman for you: “This date is not liable to change according to the situation on ground. The date is definite and final.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is definitely what we call ‘getting told’ and who gets told in a war? The losers. If you win, you stay however long you want, like McCain once said. We still have troops in Japan and Germany after 60 years and everybody knows we kicked their butts. In comparison we don’t have soldiers in Vietnam, do we? Well, no live ones.
As of yet, realization of this defeat has probably not registered on your American viewing public. Last word we had from Bush and the “stay-on-message” team of GOP operatives, the Repub talking point was to not set timetables. It was tantamount to admitting defeat. McCain for example, Bush’s bitch since the ’04 election, would never broach anything that could even remotely be construed as somehow related to defeat.
In fact the GOP philosophy of “don’t ask and don’t tell about timetables” eventually jumped the shark while in McCain’s fumble-fisted fingers when he stretched it to a point of being proud of himself because he was willing to keep fighting in Iraq for hundred years just to show how repulsive the very idea of timetables were to him.
But look, if Iraq can tell us when and how to leave, we are not in control of the country anymore. Though as many would note who have swum through this quagmire these last six years, in many ways America lost the war in Iraq right around the time we thought we had won it and decided not to leave. Late ’03, Saddam was finally captured, wrapped up like a gift wrapped X-mas turkey. That was the good news: one of our two clearly stated goals had just been actually accomplished: topple Hussein.
The other stated goal wasn’t going quite as well. We had already ruined the occupation on the ground with L. Paul Bremmer’s de-Baath-ification program and dismantling the Iraqi Army so they could re-assemble as the Iraqi Insurgence. We’d let five thousand years of history be looted so we could guard the oil ministry records of wells that were on fire. But most importantly by that point it had become all too obvious America had failed in our other noble cause: the WMDs.
We never found any because they hadn’t been there in the first place. Like many of us knew all along. Some of us who knew better protested the genocide. While others, who also knew all along, conducted it. Right then, right there mid-December ’03 a moral world leader would have said, “We were wrong about the whole WMD thing, but hey, we got Saddam. Sorry for breaking your country. We’re outta here.”
And that moment, when the US didn’t say that, was when we lost the war. The rest of the world knew a long time ago what we finally had to be told: we don’t belong in Iraq and we need to leave.
Thanks again, George Jr. You have outdone your dad when it comes to ruining a war for us.The man who once made the whole world fixate on his trussed up codpiece as he boasted before a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished,” who would later whisper to Bob Woodward in private that his advice on Iraq to the next president would be “don’t let it fail,” just got told “get out” of the country he once so willfully occupied. Defeat never tasted so sweet. The irony is almost too delicious, except for all the dead Iraqis.
And their blood on our hands.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Current Comedy 11/11/08: The Old “Wake up the Morning after Screaming,‘Oh My God, What Have We Done’” Routine

You May Ask Yourself, Where Does That Highway Lead To?
And You May Say To Yourself, Oh My God, What Have I Done?
--Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime”

It’s morning in America. Like the teenager once so hypnotized by the brilliant glow in her boyfriend’s eyes, who now finds herself sneaking back into the house with unsightly stains in unmentionable places, many Americans woke up on Wednesday Nov. 5th checking themselves for long-term effects of their debauchery. A Black man elected president, Mandingo never seemed so taboo. And here we had done it. Obama had made a dream come true, right then, right there for so many Americans. Now what?
Change has come, but just where it is going is still anybody’s guess. Who would have thought that a politician’s website would become a national overnight sensation giving America a new idol to ogle at Change.gov. Or that suddenly policy wonking is sexy again. Who would have thought a Peruvian Hairless would have a chance at being First Mutt, or that Americans would “ooh and ah” over a trick as old as Checkers.
Elsewhere Obama graces special issues of People Magazine and kids of creeps across America woke up on the 5th to find Obama hadn’t sold their parents into white slavery, made Islam the official religion or forced them to marry gay people. However the “Obama is the Antichrist” bloggers are s&*(#@ in their pants right now as crowds around the world go wild and ignite a global spirit of uniting.
It seems we actually have a liberal majority in America and that the propaganda the right’s been force feeding us over these last several years is exactly the malarkey many thought it was all along. Just one of the many distortions we might find lodged in the filter American media uses to shield the American public. Now what do we do now that we got him?
Well, like with any straw man trussed up to appear presidential, it doesn’t take long for the buffoonery to show. When Joe Biden warned Obama would be tested in less than six months by some world leader, no one realized the test would come, not from abroad, but from typically slimy Dems in his own party and secret provisions in the Big Deal Bailout. It turns out as so often happens with the Dems, once the rhetoric is over and we get down to definitions, it seems they prefer to define “change” as “change from your hand to mine.”
Democracy Now is currently reporting that a heretofore secret passage of the $700 billion, no make that 850 billion, no actually it is well over a trillion tax dollar giveaway to big business has, not only the already acknowledged 13 billion dollar CEO bonus component, but also a clandestine $140 billion windfall profits clause that Dem senator Max Baucus didn’t want you to know about. According to the Washington Post, “Staffers with Senate Finance Committee chair, Max Baucus, a Democrat, reportedly asked that an administration briefing on the tax code change be kept secret. … Congressional aides admitted lawmakers agreed to keep the change hidden to avoid public outrage.”
Cats out of the bag and I’m ready to be outraged. How about you?
How Obama handles this mess will define the kind of president we purchased. Hopefully it won’t show that Bush isn’t the only one capable of squandering massive amounts of goodwill when given a little taste of power.
To complicate matters, at this same time in the same state where foul-up hedge fund managers are soon to be rewarded with even more tax payer money, the state of New York is planning to cut billions out of services, so citizens will suffer so the wealthy can get wealthier. “In with the new boss--” Meanwhile the Fed is loaning so much money out that they will not reveal the names of the companies in question in fear the news will threaten the market. “--Same as the old boss.”
So, it looks like the first real test Obama has to face will not come from abroad but from the way the American elite including his own party are all too visibly bilking the American public. Villains like Iran, North Korea, Chavez, will have to wait their turn, if America continues to be its own worst enemy.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

11 Laugh Lines Learned in the Latest Election-revised

With Obama poised Janus-like at the cross roads of American history, liberals await smoke signals. Will we finally have an agenda where a government of, for, or about the people won't be slandered as socialist, but recognized as insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare?
Or, will the tacitly accepted branding of the centrist Barack Obama as a liberal lead to a new rightward shift in the "Stereotype" of liberalism like Clinton's election did? Giving the nod to Rahm Emanuel and Clinton –era John Podesta suggest that Obama will in some ways be a continuation of business as usual. It could be a way to right shift what the left looks like.
Either way, the world has shifted:
1) You can't win by appealing to your base. It was a lesson in this election that kept multiple Obama supporters muzzled while McCain's crowd bit the hand that fed them. Actual liberals kept their mouths shut to let Obama cajole the mainstream crowd. Meanwhile the McCain-Palin traveling tent revival and side show threw red meat and hoked it up for the god and country crowd. Grand Old Partyers may have had themselves a fine old time, but watching footage of it scared the piss out of the rest of us.
2) If you throw enough crap around, a bunch of it sticks … to you. And after hearing them a thousand times, really, "yes we can" is a lot more appealing 3 word summation of a world view than, "Other Guy Sucks."
3) Your cousin Adolph can come out of hiding now. Sticks and stone will still break our bones, but names sure aren't hurting us anymore if anyone with any name named Hussein can wind up being the president.
4) Republicans can't add. McCain aped the elephant line about not wanting to waste government spending on anything as frivolous as, say, services, except for the armed ones, of course. Then in the guise of saving money, McCain supported the Bush's outsourcing model that meant hiring companies like Halliburton and Black Water to first screw us over with cost plus contracts, then stand around and not do government work, as if they could not do their jobs any better than real government workers already don't do their jobs. Paying for corporate profits on top of the cost of poorly getting your business done is not a way to save money.
5) John McCain doesn't know what good representation is. As an AZ resident these last eight years, I have been continually amazed at Mr. Anti-Earmark's gall to suggest that not working to steer government spending back to the home folks is counts as good representation. McCain bragged about his record of having secured NO special projects for AZ. Gee thanks, John. Earmark spending is called pork barrel because that is the sign of the man we sent to Washington bringing home the bacon.
6) Take a flippin' e-mail, dude, People of the 21st century are not impressed you stopped being tech savvy when 8 tracks ruled.
7) Bitchiness is still ugly even in $150, 000 worth of business suits. And if that kind of behavior is what passes for Christianity these days, it is small wonder fire and brimstone leave such a bad taste in so many people's mouth.
8) Old War Heroes may never die, but that doesn't mean we want to hear about it for the rest of our lives.
9) If you don't like big government, quit. Come on McCain, everybody knows the US Gov. is the largest employer in the world and it needs to stay that way. Arguing that under your leadership you would shrink government translates out to saying that you are just as ruthless as any other selfish CEO who thinks nothing of laying off thousands of workers in favor of a bottom line.
10) Cities are where the people are. In urban counties across America Obama routinely snagged as much as 80% of the vote—Phoenix and Forth Worth being typical of the exceptions. Even in the reddest of states, cities went blue and when it comes down to it doesn't matter how much land you have, dirt don't vote.
11) In the end it didn't matter who all the right and the media tried to tie to Obama's coattails, the scariest affiliation remained being too closely associated with the world's leading terrorist: George Bush.
--mikel weisser writes from the Left Coast of Arizona.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Current Comedy, 11/6/08: Eleven Laugh Lines Learned in the Last ‘Lection

Current Comedy, 11/6/08: Eleven Laugh Lines Learned in the Last ‘Lection

With Obama poised Janus-like at the cross roads of American history, liberals await smoke signals. Will we finally have an agenda where a government of, for, or about the people won’t be slandered as socialist, but recognized as insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare?
Or, will tacitly accepted branding of the centrist Barack Obama as a liberal lead to a new rightward shift in the “Stereotype” of liberalism like Clinton’s election did? Keeping in mind Obama purports to be pro-Israel, pro-Death Penalty, pro-Bailout, pro-Ethanol, Clean Coal, and anti-Single Payer Health Care, giving the nod to Rahm Emanuel and Clinton –era John Podesta suggest that Obama will in some ways be a continuation of business as usual.
All of which makes it even easier for media to use Obama’s ascent as a new way to characterize what Looney tune liberal means in relation to the “liberal” president. It could be a way to right shift what the left looks like. OR,
Obama could actually be the shining secret image serious social revisionists had all been hoping for and serious neo-cons and racists had long been fearing: Barack Obama didn’t spend 20 years in Reverend’s Wright Church without listening a little now and then.
Either way, here’s some laugh lines we learned lately about the way the world has shifted:
1) You can’t win by appealing to your base. It was a lesson in this election that kept multiple Obama supporters muzzled while McCain’s crowd bit the hand that fed them. Actual liberals kept their mouths shut to let Obama cajole the mainstream crowd without getting the man hamstrung by being smeared by their reputations as happened with Wright and Ayers. Meanwhile the McCain-Palin traveling tent revival and side show threw red meat and hoked it up for the god and country crowd. Hateful hardcore Grand Old Party may have had themselves a fine old time, but watching footage of it scared the piss out of the rest of us.
2) If you throw enough crap around a bunch of it sticks … to you. And after hearing them a thousand times, really, “yes we can” is a lot more appealing 3 word summation of a world view than, “Other Guy Sucks.”
3) Your cousin Adolph can come out of hiding now. Sticks and stone will still break our bones, but names sure aren’t hurting us anymore if anyone with any name named Hussein can wind up being the president.
4) Republicans can’t add. McCain aped the elephant line about not wanting to waste government spending on anything as frivolous as, say, services, except for the armed ones, of course. Meanwhile in the guise of saving money, McCain supported the Bush’s outsourcing model that meant hiring companies like Halliburton and Black Water to do stand around and not do government work, as if they could not do their jobs any better than real government workers already don’t do their jobs. Problem is if you say you want to stop wasting government money you can’t then outsource government work to private contractors because they cost more, a lot more. Paying for corporate profits on top of the cost of poorly getting your business done is not the way to save money.
5) John McCain doesn’t know what good representation is. As an AZ resident these last eight years, I have been continually amazed at Mr. Anti-Earmark’s gall to suggest that not working to steer government spending back to the home folks is what counts as good representation of the folks who elected you. McCain bragged about his record of having secured NO special projects for AZ. Gee thanks, John. Earmark spending is called pork barrel because that is the sign of the man we sent to Washington bringing home the bacon.
6) Take a flippin’ e-mail, dude, people of the 21st century are not impressed you stopped being tech savvy when 8 tracks ruled.
7) Bitchiness is still ugly even in $150, 000 worth of business suits. And if that kind of behavior is what passes for Christianity these days, it is small wonder fire and brimstone leave such a bad taste in so many people’s mouth.
8) Old War Heroes may never die, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear about it for the rest of our lives.
9) If you don’t like big government, quit. Come on McCain, everybody knows the US Gov. is the largest employer in the world and it needs to stay that way. Arguing that under your leadership you would shrink government translates out to saying that you are just as ruthless as any other selfish CEO who thinks nothing of laying off thousands of workers in favor of a bottom line.
10) Cities are where the people are. In urban counties across America Obama routinely snagged as much as 80% of the vote—Phoenix and Forth Worth being typical of the exceptions. On the complete US county map there are red state counties large enough to swallow entire New England states, But even in the reddest of states the cities went blue and when it comes down to it doesn’t matter how much land you have, dirt don’t vote.
11) In the end it didn’t matter who all the right and the media tried to adhere to Obama’s coattails the scariest affiliation remained being too closely associated with one the world’s leading terrorists: George Bush.
--mikel weisser writes from the Left Coast of Arizona.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Current Comedy, 11/2/08: Dewey Defeats Truman

By all rights and reasons, by the time you read this, Barack Hussein Obama should have become, or be fast on his way to becoming, the next president of the United States.
Despite all the Newsmax articles lamely linking Obama with every troublemaker from Bill Ayers to Tony Soprano (I swear!) Obama overcometh, or so it seems. Despite Fox News laughingly condescending and falsely maligning him for 18 months and Glenn Beck nightly reaching low grade orgasm in loving his loathing of the man. And Hannity and Rush and Savage and Kristol and Ingram, ad nauseum. Despite CNN pretending to journalistic integrity as they ballyhoo everybody-else’s every outlandish claim against the man. And Keith Olberman nightly discrediting liberals
Despite McCain lying about his tax cut more than one hundred times in campaign rallies and a lapdog media reporting the lie at least half as often and Palin conducting lynching parties, excuse me, I mean rallies, so Jim Crow, John Lewis himself had to step up to be crucified to get the complaint lodged. Despite being single handedly responsible for justifying the potential launch of a singing career for Joe the Plumber.
Despite the fact that many of us on the left still find ourselves analyzing how many concessions we’ve had to make with our own beliefs systems to support his campaign even though he purports to be pro-Israel, pro-Death Penalty, pro-Bailout, pro-Ethanol, Clean Coal, and anti-Single Payer Health Care.
Despite his terrorist knuckle bump, Angela Davis emulating wife, being secretly foreign born with no birth certificate, and being “officially” labeled the most liberal senator in Congress. Despite spending two years being dissed by opponents in his own party, and being hated so much by fans of the opposing party that one would fake her own beating, blacken an eye and carve a backward B into her cheek in the hopes it would somehow look right when not in a mirror, just to do her part to damage his chances.
Despite having to wake up every day and know that across the country you are probably second only to George Bush as the most hated man in America; and further knowing that only the first rounds of neo-Nazis and meth heads has yet been arrested for plotting to kill you. Knowing that if you should win the presidency the number of domestic terrorist plotting against will multiply. Despite knowing all that and still going out every day and displaying a white shirt suitable as a target.
Despite all those years secretly hanging out in Madrasas and that whole Wright-is-wrong thing, the Barry who became Barack has made the American Dream about as absolutely as can be imagined. This child’s story arc is as far a rise in American society as is possible. Twain’s Prince and the Pauper was more plausible: the two year old Black baby of divorced White female, who grows up in Indonesia and Hawaii, rises to lead a nation that once would have kept him in chains.
For Barack Obama’s story to be any more amazing he would have to sprout wings and fly, walk on water, leap tall buildings in a single bound or actually end a war, provide health care and balance a budget.
At latest count, somebody’s poll probably has him at like 70 kajillion electoral votes to McCain 41. USA Today lists nation wide voter registration increases that show new voters avoiding Republicanism like anal rashes. And yet--
And yet among many Michael Moore in what had to be one of the scariest costumes out this Halloween, the fat sloppy disillusioned liberal, comes on Democracy Now big deal Friday before Election Night episode and warns the fix is in and we have be to prepared to rise up after the fraud commences. Gore Vidal among others sends an open letter to Obama fearing fraud and begging him not to concede. The race that looks so winning is not even run yet and his supporters are already rehearsing their consolation speeches.
With the Crab bucket mentality of Republicans however, anything is possible. You know the story of the crab bucket: it doesn’t have to be too deep a hole to keep crabs captive. For any time one tries to rise up the others pull him down. As we read about the GDP contracting on the same day we see Exxon breaking new quarterly profit records, Repubs aim to win on the backs of the Average Joes they are helping hate him. The Republican scorched earth campaign has burnt many bridges that will have to be rebuilt. If Obama wins all the hate will be left over and focused on him.
But if McCain wins, as James Carville has warned, expect riots. But keep this in mind: even with thousands being thrown off the rolls, waves of voters intimidation expected, electronically aided vote flipping and absent absentee votes already reported, record voter turn-out met by minimal preparation and the typical sundry shenanigans, it should not be enough to keep this thing from still looking like anything less than a landslide.
Dewey Defeats Truman? Could be. We’ve seen some pretty far-fetched scenarios shoved down our throat during these last eight years. The possibility is not even in doubt. The question is what happens if we decide not to swallow it this time?
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Death in the Family


Today is Friday Oct. 17th, 2008. After a week in the hospital in ICU on a ventilator, my mom, her pastor and her doctor agreed to take her off of life support. Tomorrow, Sat. 10/18, i will be heading for Texas. Thanks to her pastor we did get one final phone call goodbye.

If i have any plans with you this week, please consider them cancelled with apologies. Write me back at this address and i will check in when i return from TX. If you need to speak to me or Beth while we are traveling, my phone is 928-234-5633.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Current Comedy 10/15/08: In His Most Ferocious Performance Yet, McCain Eats Self

The third and final Presidential Debate held Wednesday Oct. 15th was actually lost the previous weekend when John McCain found himself at a Minnesota GOP rally being booed by his own followers. He was trying to get them to curb their hatred of Barack Obama. But his fans had responded exactly the way his ads had told them to. They were hating the Black man and fearing for their lives. “He’s a—a--an Arab,” some woman whimpered before McCain could get the mic from her. They were blowing his cover. They were showing their colors and his.
That was the moment of decision where John McCain, once again, went the wrong way. If McCain was indeed to win the race with the mainstream before all hope was lost, he had to somehow distance himself from that fragile wacko base that used to be known as the Republican Religious Right, and reactivate the image he had cultivated over the years of being a supposedly reputable heroic persona with astute insight and a clear compelling vision for the good of all Americans. Not that I ever bought that line of crap, but that’s what he’s been trying to sell, every since he lived down that Keating thing.
But Wednesday in his last chance to salvage, not only his campaign, but his whole political legacy, McCain didn’t do, or even attempt to do the noble thing. Instead, he gave in to the dark side and all the pent-up anger inside him from having to watch himself slowly lose this election. So he swung for the fences with all the bile and grimace he could muster. Oh yes, and don’t forget the schmaltz, McCain slathered on plenty of schmaltz. While the word has come to mean something like clichéd sentimentalism, in the original Yiddish it meant something like “chicken fat.” And by the end of the night McCain looked like a candidate that had congealed. In fact, his public presentation was so off, so out of touch with the kind of behavior the majority of 21st Century Americans are expecting from their president that it makes small surprise of the fact the man is so old school he does not even know how to do email.
I have long said that the election for president is like getting to pick your dad who is going to occasionally be mad at you and give you stern speeches—or in some cases incarcerate you for attempting to exert 1st Amendment freedoms while he pilfers the cookie jar. This night, as he had done in the past, Obama came off like that annoyingly right and reasonable dad, frustratingly clear and patient when pointing out our short comings, and explaining why our allowances need to be cut; but basically still someone you could depend on and trust.
Meanwhile McCain came off like some creepy cranky grandpa you hope you never have to stay with if real parents aren’t available. It really was a facial thing: he looked like the jerk his record shows him to be. And when McCain made his well-expected big grandstanding effort at lobbing a William Ayers stink-bomb on Obama, Obama parried deftly and, as the LA Times fact check on the debate verifies, in short understandable order dismissed McCain’s claim of lies as a lie. Obama then scored his best shot of the night noting, “The fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me.”
At which point McCain demonstrated another of his patented eye rolls and resumed blindly attacking Obama with his worn out assortment of already debunked misrepresentations or begging for a vote while demonstrating a barely introductory level familiarity with the seven techniques of propaganda.
At some point as we watched McCain stretch his mouth around the latest hateful thought that was so visibly crossing his mind throughout the night, John McCain completely defied the laws of medical science and ate his own self and the last remains of his reputation. As the bevy of after-debate polls showed McCain statistically looked terrible in every way pollsters can measure asinine behavior. Smugness, condescension, blatant deceptions, rudeness, and cheap pandering, they just don’t play as well on nationwide TV as they must in some Washington cloakrooms.
Sneers, interruptions, snorts into the mic while off camera, McCain’s face was his worst enemy. At one point when Obama noted that even Fox News had disputed the McCain misrepresentation that Obama had tried to raise taxes on people earning as low as $42,000, John McCain threw such a huge, theatrically huge, double-take eye roll, that the kind folk at Daily Kos were inspired to create and post a gag reel of his best eye rolls in the debate on YouTube within hours. And at that point John McCain not only sealed his loss of the debate, but of the election as well.
Game Over, John McCain. You have beaten yourself. Of course, that is just this set of polls. Who knows how you will do in November with your buddies counting?
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Current Comedy, 10/7/08: Gotcha Soundbite Journalism

Like many around the country I waited with baited breath, laptop open, pen in one hand and remote in the other to take notes on the Tuesday Oct. 7th, 2008 debate. After the amazing entertainment value of the Biden-Palin sideshow (AKA Say-it-Ain’t-So Joe V. the Gorilla from Wasilla) just a few days earlier, like many among the 70 million of us who watched Biden pummel Palin, I was tuned in and psyched up.
However after an hour and half of the candidates and about that much time with the commentators (not to be confused with the high class taters or the sweetpea taters) I find, to appropriate the ruling cliché of these times, “no one hit one out of the ballpark, so I guess we’ll call it a tie.”
Of course in Biden-Palin, you had the under-card upstarts swinging as wildly as they felt they could get away with. Palin, for example, at that point felt all she could get away with were simple distortions of the Dems record. However emboldened by MSM’s giving her a pass plus WAY too many points credit on the grounds “she doesn’t fail quite as miserably as we expected, so that means she did great,” by Saturday Palin was a wild woman wielding the T-word, “Terrorist,” as if she were the latest version of a wannabe McCarthy-ite testing out the latest red-baiting jingoism. And as Democracy Now watchers know, by the end of the weekend she was comfortable enough to let her audience members call out for Obama’s death.
If not stopped she’ll be pissing on cars at intersections by next week. So, in the interest of the public good and for the protection of paintjobs everywhere, I will devote the rest of this week’s column to some of the old “gotcha soundbite journalism” Republicans so loathe. You know, where they say something that clearly reveals their vile character or evil intentions, thinking that they are safely in a crowd of equally vile characters, and then some awful commie exploitive journalist catches them on an open mic. Republicans call this “gotcha soundbite journalism.”
I call it “truth hurts, don’t it?”
Displaying his typical bitter and dismissive sense of humor, McCain undercut his vague talking points by prefacing most of his expositions with derogatory remarks aimed chiefly to insult Obama, but also having enough bile to insult mediator Tom Brokaw at least once. It was a supposedly refined version of the Palin wail, but it was still the grotesque sound of McCain flailing dirt with both fists. Of course, when he’s playing the game that way, you can’t help but enjoy the gotchas.
One of my favorite early ones was when McCain tried to tar Obama with the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae crisis, and says he “[bets] most people never heard of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae before the crisis.” Since the twin companies were the nation’s biggest home lenders, it seems McCain loses his bet, but wait, double-down, Obama then gotchas McCain himself by sharing the underreported factoid tidbit that none other than the voice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, lobbyist extraordinaire Rick Davis, was a chief organizer of McCain’s Campaign. GA-CHUH!
Another good gotcha was the way McCain again attempted to fashion himself as Mr. Anti-Earmark. Quite the image, however, while he was busy trying to grab credit for his non-role in crafting and selling the repub Senate bill which amounted to the House bill from earlier in the week, one had to reflect that the substantive difference between the two is the Senate version was draped in a representative’s favorite fabric: pork. Mr. Anti-earmark is trying to take credit for 150 billion of taxbreaks and porkbarrel spending. He tries to embarrass Obama as a contributor to the 16 billion invested in hometown projects and then tries to take credit for ten times that amount. Gotcha again.
Other good gotchas include McCain’s faint smearing of Obama for not “talking softly and carrying a big stick” to which Obama replied by singing the McCain hit, “Bomb-bomb-bomb Bomb-bomb Iran” right back at him. Or there’s McCain crowing “we can never allow a second holocaust” besides the one he cheerleads for that we’re conducting in Iraq. And how about Obama nipping McCain’s Pinocchi-nose down to a nub, regarding their competing tax cut plans by twice slapping down McCain prevarications about his $700,000 tax cut for CEOs.
There’s the Cheney-to-Bush-to-McCain weapons of mass deception triple play gotcha of McCain’s near foaming at the mouth accusation that if the US were to follow the Obama Iraq Peace Plan, “Al Qaeda would reestablish their base in Iraq.” If only he could have had Lieberman as a lifeline.
Perhaps the most expensive gotcha was when McCain tried to dance around discussing potential revisions in Social Security and Medicare. Even when prodded to address Medicare he feinted away, hoping the rest of us didn’t know that that same day it was reported his economic plan includes cutting one point three trillion out of Medicare. Now that’s some big league gotcha.
Almost as good a gotcha came when the bitter McCain attempted the bait and switch as Obama came up for the after the match handshake. McCain offered his wife, Cindy’s, hand first and then slipped off leaving Obama hanging. The gotcha supposedly goes to McCain, except that the whole exchange was caught centerstage on film, already available on a You Tube near you and so the whole world gets to watch McCain be an ass. Gotcha right back.
Then the sweetest part, the gotcha that keeps on giving came after an hour and a half of watching McCain be a smug self-righteous jerk, a wannabe Bush in Reagan clothing, it came after the CNN commentators obligatorily called the debate a tie (Which is mainstream media-speak for “the Dem kicked the crap out of the Republican, but our sponsors don’t allow us to say that, but since you were just then watching it with your own eyes yourself, we have to say something that seems believable if we repeat it a under times and only replay the parts we want you to see.”)
It came as we watched when the pundits pilloried McCain for getting hoisted on his own petard of mudslinging and shallow promises as the after-debate polls slid ever farther the Obama way.
Lordy, Lordy how it takes me back to about four + years ago just before the ’04 RNC convention. McCain sells off in his renegade-among-republicans status for a slow-dance with the decider in chief. The maverick let himself be branded. And now, like all the other rats going down with the Bush-ship, McCain is finally wising up to the old adage, “you got to dance with the one that brung ya.” Oh that last look on McCain’s face as you could see him watching his hopes sink slowly in the west.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quick Take: Biden By Da Landslide

I don't know which debate some folks were watching (particularly the commentators on CNN), but i saw Palin caught being shrill, phony, ignorant, dishonest, narrow, clichéd and obvious about it, bitchy and out-classed repeatedly; and as Rady Ananda pointed out, there was that time she seemed affected by Biden and stammered, looked flummoxed and desperate, for the space of several questions. For a while she was undone.
I don't consider her avoiding questions scoring points especially as baldly as she did it, especially as often, and most especially the fact that each time she blew off the questions to return to her script, it was such a narrow script on energy plans, and being vague about the greed on Wall Street. Most importantly i saw her straight-facedly advance some of the most transparent attempted deceptions of the McCain camp about his less than stellar record and her lack of one.
Also in her back into her own messes way, Palin gave reference to the real reason she was on the ticket: Alaska oil and gas, including the huge natural gas pipeline she symbolically waved as a show of her power, but instead it revealed that it wasn’t about the lipstick or the pit bull with Palin in the end. With Palin it’s more about getting Alaska and putting up with her, than any other consideration of why she’s claimed to have tapped for this role.
Many said Biden had to win by not bullying her, while all the while trashing McCain and Bush and he did that so many times Palin eventually chided him for looking back and jaw-droppingly acknowledged the Bush admin had made blunders. She even repeated herself and you could imagine the collective hiss from the steam letting out of the GOP Watch Parties across the country.
I saw Biden slam home several points that were played with style and cleverness, including more than once getting a zinger last word on a subject and Palin getting no chance to refute, leaving her unsettled to start her next round. Well played. I also saw him slap down GOP BS when she tried to spread it, like on the Vote to cut funding for the troops thing when Biden noted McCain did the same thing and the campaign’s respective tax plans.
Watching on CNN we saw a graphic supposedly of lines reflecting "Undecided Ohio Voters" broken down by men and women. We saw Palin at negative or flat-lined a majority of the time with these voters and Biden repeatedly scoring, particularly with women to a point where the EKG like scrolling graph topped out, climbed all the way to the top of the chart then slid along the upper edge, particularly on lines about education and Bush being scum. The tale of the tape on this one showed that much of the time, particularly in the later portions of the debate, the audience whether or not the audience agreed or disagreed, most of the time they could’ve cared less just as long as she’d stop speaking since they’d all already heard it before.
Biden scored one of his biggest moments when Palin, by his (and by my) reckoning, misinterpreted the Constitution about the legislative powers of the vice president. Biden hit that one in the sweet spot on his reply that reaffirms the rabid liberals who were once Obama's base. As the Illinois Senator has rushed to the middle of the road those initially inspired have had their enthusiasm somewhat tempered by his transformation from a member of the choir Wright was preaching to, to a moderate Afghan War loving, Israel loving, Off-shore Oil Drilling 'Democrat-style Commodity." The poor man has been bleached of as much color as is possible without totally cooling off his base.
So, when Palin poorly asserted that she looked forward to the powers of the Vice President in the Senate, and imagined to what extent can 'he,' or god forbid in this case 'she,' craft and direct legislation. She then obligatorily tossed Dick Cheney a prop for his work with muscling Congress. Biden then gave was undoubtedly the liberals rallying cry quote: Biden made a point of looking straight at the camera and said, "Dick Cheney is the most dangerous vice president this country has ever had."
That's a line that me and millions like me needed to hear to keep our faith.
So many pundits watching the show measured it by how well or not well they perceived Palin; but Biden was also in a position to sell a plan and hit one, or several, out of the park.
As far as i'm concerned he did just that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Current Comedy, 9/30/08: Aussie Rudd Condemns American People While Senate Readies Tax Cuts

As the impact of the citizen propelled revolt against the failed US House of Representatives $700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street crashed markets around the world, Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tisked our interference in his markets and urged Congress to get on with it. Off with you, Cheerio, and all that. In so doing Rudd joined the wrongheaded chorus of leaders stunned by the fact the people remembered the fact they have the right to speak.
What Rudd was complaining about is Americans actually taking the time to run their own flipping country. As is typical the rich and powerful complain that the citizenry have no will and no voice, until we show some and then they say we have no brains. Sure, we hear the powerful condemn the people, but still we do not hear about how much Rudd or Britain’s Gordon Brown are offering to help pay for the bailout they are insisting we Americans must tolerate having to pay for.
Meanwhile back at home challenging our security, the US Senate is preparing for round two of the bailout battle and intending to roll out a similar bailout proposal except with the extra added bell and whistle of … come on, guess. You got it! More tax breaks for business! As reported by Yahoo, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., [has] called it ‘a brilliant move’ that will ‘help pick up votes on both sides of the aisle.” Will the people call out again against this Congressional boondoggle of robbing the poor to further the rich, or will we once again succumb to the Neo-Con drug of choice, the tax break.
And if we resist, will we be heard? Or is the actual question, how loudly will we have to speak to heard, if it comes to that.
The way the bail out reads, banks around the world are already lining up for the gravy train, while no real provisions are made to help those millions of Americans already suffering real not inflated losses. For all the damages the markets have done to real people throughout the years, I say let them collapses all the way back to zero like the credit houses did at the end of Fight Club. Know what the third rule of Fight Club? No, your profit margin is not more important than me feeding my family.
Remember: Wall Street is a game, a sham, a pack of lies agreed upon. The “money” Wall Street generates is based on speculation, not actual goods or services produced. It is largely about people buying and selling each other ideas about wealth: the value of the image of a company, a bank’s line of credit, not the investors life savings, a housing market not a real house, the future value of pork parts. The market does not have to behave the way it does. It’s a choice. The GOP did not have to deregulate and allow them to be as nasty as they want to be either. That was also a choice.
Just as nobody is forcing the banks to tighten credit on each other except the government, just because predatory practices have become the norm, it doesn’t mean that is the only way you are allowed to act. On Tuesday, following the fabled Market plunge of one point two trillion in value, when everyone should have been cautious and could have been considerate, they were back in business, buying, selling and screwing each other over as usual as often as they could, once again licking their lips in anticipation of the upcoming government paid for golden parachute.
If only the people would shut their mouths and keep quiet.
Meanwhile Congress and the President shove Wall Street in our faces and try to tell us that their artificial markets with their artificial rules should have the right to take real food our of our mouths and throw us in the streets for the plutocracy’s continued comfort. And yet, we see that the crisis, as oh so terrible as it is supposed to be, wasn't actually important enough for congress to work through a holiday for. Oh, how important Congress was this weekend when they "burnt the midnight oil" Saturday because of the "crisis.” No wonder they took Sunday off to let the aides type stuff up. But come Monday they had to act right away or else the markets would be lost. And then when their scheme fell through because all America roared, "HELL NO!" suddenly the crisis wasn't important enough to work through Tuesday.
I know it’s a religious holiday, but hey, we've been working through Ramadan. Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas. People do stuff during the holidays ... when it’s really important.
Well folks, this one really is that important, and We-the-People all need to keep working. It doesn’t matter which Naomi you lust or listen to, Naomi Wolf or Naomi Klein, America is at the edge of dictatorship. The Bilderbergs are only guaranteed to win if we don’t shove back. Every anti-Bush issue across the spectrum is embodied in this bailout. This is the outrageously diabolical Bush world paradigm cratering under its own weight of lies.
This is the whole kill billions for trillions in oil profits that has us in so much hot water over global warming. This is the war bought as freedom, but sold for money; and so willing middleclass thugs could go torture and destroy brown skinned people for god and country. This is the Department of Interior partying it up with sex, drugs and oil company lobbyists as they rape the environment for their buddies in big business and terrorize hippies at the Rainbow Gatherings because of a smell in the air. This is every freedom we’ve traded for a scrap of security deserving neither.
Realize this: if the best possible scenarios being woven actually occur, the same Uncle Sam we’ve allowed to usurp near dictatorial powers, will, by necessity, “forced by the mechanisms of the market,” end up being the owner of the homes and businesses of millions. If that happens then the terrorist really have won and they’ve done it while waving a US flag.
This is still our chance. This is still our country. Time to show we still deserve it.
-mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Current Comedy, 9/29/08:The Pack of Lies We Are Expected to Agree To

As I predicted in last week’s laugh-fest, the administration has begun the cracking heads of those guilty of the crime of being all too visibly poor. The first of the NWO’s new century Hoovervilles to be attacked was homeless settlement in Seattle, Washington known as Nickleville. Following the government thrashing, the homeless residents fled to a nearby parking lot to await their next beating. Just like the rest of us.
Also, as predicted but not written about before, having had a week to digest the predigested news they are force-fed, the rightwing would-be wonkettes who hang out at my workplace watercooler have begun to regurgitate neo-con pundit pap like: “As much as I hate it, you’ve got to bail out Wall Street, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna give MY money to help out some knucklehead down the street who wouldn’t make his house payments.” (I swear, actual quote.) Of course these are the same people who are still feeling obligated to go ga-ga over how funny and smart Sarah Palin is.
As I type (evening, 9/29/08), led by the recurring unholy alliance of Denis Kucinich and the House GOP with their ever predictable Blue Dog tagalongs, Congress has turned down round one of the Bush Bailout. In response, the Market dropped an inconceivable one point two TRILLION dollars in worth today alone. That translates out to about twice what we’ve spent thus far on the Iraq War. Imagine: Iraq Times Two. And it didn’t really kill our country even once. Yet.
Though to listen to the Bush line, all loyal Americans should have died last week of anaphylactic shock when Congress failed to pass his conveniently timed bailout bill on Friday 9/26/08. Yet somehow even when Congress again failed with the slightly refined version of the bill on Monday 9/29/08, the TV kept selling me cars, movies and hemorrhoid creams.
To hear Kucinich tell it, the Bush Administration’s recent harassment of banks might’ve been the final precipitating agent in the hot new fashion of bank collapse. Interviewed Monday morning by Democracy Now just prior to the House discussion and ultimate down vote on the bill, Kucinich noted, “A former head of the FDIC [told] a group of congressmen yesterday that the Bush administration has been going around the last few weeks, actually, so tightening up on the practices of banks that they were forcing them to have bigger reserves, which …would … create the kind of tight money policies that we’re saying we’re trying to alleviate with this bill…. There’s a possibility that this crisis has a little bit of manufacture to it.”
Imagine that: like the Iraq War, sold with phony urgencies and covert provocations. Paulson wonders why Americans were outraged over his demand for zero oversight and accountability. Why don’t we trust “Good Ol’ Hankie-Wankie”? I’ve got just four letters for you Mr. Bush Cabinet member: WMDs. From that point on, even the most loyal American had the right to challenge the pronouncements of this administration. Not just the right, but the obligation; that is if they were loyal Americans in the first place.
And who should we trust, among these players? Perhaps Padre Paulson, of late of Goldman-Sachs, who first helped create the collapse from both ends (both Wall Street and the Whitehouse) and now will benefit from the aid he is attempting to empower himself to bestow? Maybe we should trust Nancy Pelosi, who has so much riding on the rest of us saving her stock at AIG. How about Bush? Should we trust him? Ok, just kidding, after all, this is a comedy column. According to Paul Begala on The Daily Show Bush is up to an 82% disapproval rating, which puts him right up there with anal injection of habenero paste.
I say don’t trust any of them. None of them are talking holding folks accountable, like George “The Uniter” Bush who succeeded in throwing us all into debt back in 2001 when he pressured the mortgage industry to target minority and low-income buyers; or John “The Great Deregulator” (his own moniker) McCain who in 1999 basically undid oodles of the Roosevelt era protections that were made so Americans would never have to find ourselves in this predicament again. Thanks fellas!
Nobody, not even my neo-con water cooler workmates, is talking about the evil financial instrument that has undone so many Americans over the last few years and is the citizen’s side of this mortgage-financial crisis: the ARM, the Adjustable Rate Mortgage. People sign-on on a loan at one rate and in a couple of years, the rate changes whether they can pay it or not. Also a true story--I lost some friends not long ago who had to move to a new town after having lost their home. He’s a fireman, she’s a teacher, supposedly American bedrock professions, but the house they purchased at a manageable $1000 per month ballooned to $1600 a month after two years and they were screwed. I guarantee you the ARM is the biggest villain in this psychodrama, which is so not about Wall Street investment bankers taking a giant soaking and losing 90% of their wealth, leaving them with mere hundreds of millions, like poor Hank Paulson.
And that is the biggest ugliest truth in this week’s situation comedy that nobody is acknowledging: the fact we the people have let our leaders tie the fate of our country of hundreds of millions to the gambles made by the few to joist with each other with levels of unimaginable money such as the rest of us will never see--except incrementally as it leaves our pockets in taxes to subsidize their gamesmanship.
And don’t give me that nonsense about the Stock market isn’t some sinister plutocracy, but instead it’s the millions of us Americans who have our money tied into the market through various retirement accounts and what all. We’re for the most part just mindless sheep that have been told to trust and did so. This is how we’re rewarded for believing in our country.
We’re not the ones who created half a quadrillion dollars worth of derivatives so hedge fund managers could gamble with the whole world’s life savings the way the Dutch once gambled away Europe’s wealth in the Great Tulip Mania of the 1630s. Nor did we dream up predatory lenders, nor are we the ones trying to give away our country to them. This is just another case in a long series of occasions where the rich decide to collapse the market to see how much more dough they can shake loose.
But they aren’t the ones winding up in the Hooverville, nor the ones who will get their heads cracked when they’re stay poor becomes to annoying for the people in power. Please, if we really have 700 billion available to help the economy, let's spend it on the people and invest our energies, instead of our dollars, on re-regulating the markets, eliminating ARMs, and prosecuting Wall Street billionaires for so defrauding our public. Then let's also look into the efforts of the Bush admin to precipitate this crisis and Paulson should be at the top of the list. That is Wall Street reform that would do Americans some good.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Current Comedy, 9/22/08: Every Conspiracy Theorist’s Worst Nightmare: US

Current Comedy, 9/22/08: Every Conspiracy Theorist’s Worst Nightmare: US

Greetings from So-Hi.
Out below, in my front horizon, is a stretch of highway 68 known as Union Pass. It is the straight line across the horseshoe bend on I-40 at the western Arizona border. Over the Black Mountains, where trains couldn’t go and so Route 66 didn’t follow, from Kingman the route runs west 27 miles and in the last 12 falls 3000 feet to Bullhead City, the fabled Colorado and the casinos of Laughlin Nevada, or, a hundred miles farther up the road, the casinos of Las Vegas.
At night, the stars trail down out of the mountains to crawl across Golden Valley below. It’s quite a sight, endless. These days 68 flows through here day and night. It is the alternative route for points East to Vegas and the only one for trucks and heavy vehicles, a detour around the Hoover Dam, every since the terrorists won back in ’01.
I see my share of traffic up close as well.
I drive that pass to work and often watch the trucks along the way, noting the armored vehicles being hauled west. I spot them more often than I’d like. Flat bed trailers, not always military rigs towing them, weaponry lunging like roped animals with each highway jostle, cannons strapped to the deck tugging at their tether. Machine gun barrels ropes in place, windows taped over. Bradleys, Humvees, trucks, incomprehensible wheeled vehicles with arms and levers, and the tanks, at least a tank a month that I see, driven through this route, west. Where do they go, you can’t help but wonder.
This week, 9/22/08, I hope I didn’t get an answer. But it appears this election round’s October Surprise may be a little livelier than I’d been expecting, having hoped for cupcakes. It looks like the Bush Admin Homeland Security is preparing for the next front in the War on Terror right here at home: terrorizing Americans so we’ll shut up about impeaching and or arresting Bush or any other crowd sized reaction to the disasters he’s created for us.
Army Times reported it, Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman echoed it, and now everyone’s message board from Ron Paul to Nine Inch Nails is buzzing with the fact that a unit from our forces in Iraq, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, is being deployed to … the US.
That’s right, now the enemy is us.
Somebody page Alex Jones and let him know his padded cell at the Denver Detention Center is ready. If there really are Bilderbergs, this looks like an EndGame. The article goes on to say that the unit is being prepared if “called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called non-lethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.”
Flaunting the once sacrosanct Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting the use of US soldiers against US citizens, the Bush move is the first time an actual active army fighting force has been designated to a strategic planning military group known as the US Army North. That’s right from the Northern Command, every conspiracy theorist’s worst nightmare, the same folk who bring you the martial law drills every year. They would also be the same ones back about seven years ago who created those hijack plane drills that happened to take place on the exact same day real planes were crashed into the Twin Towers—the ominous mystery men in films like Dylan Avery’s Loose Change and Zeitgeist. The first line of defense in a case of national emergency or martial law.
Perhaps the soldiers are in actuality preparing for something that will never take place and we leftwing discredited are panicking over nothing. The government is just being prepared, providing for a common defense. Hey, there will probably be a peaceful transfer of power come January and no one will object in the slightest to any of Bush’s actions between now and then and any election results between now and then. Maybe I’m just nuts. OK, we know I’m nuts, but maybe I’m nuts and wrong. Maybe the Neo-cons are the nice people they always say they are and they have no need to fear they will ever be held accountable for the rape-fest they’ve been having with Lady Liberty these last eight years.
But maybe Bushco is scared. I know I would be. The house of greed Repub “Free Market” policies built, in part led by good old John McCain’s deregulation efforts in the late 90s, have opened the door for the greatest economic disaster/swindle in history, a national economic disaster to the tune of 700 billion dollars, even topping Brother Neil Bush and company’s half a trillion dollar S&L scandal in the 80s. It is another case where everyone’s money will be going to the richest 1%--another case where the very people who claim to detest class warfare fire the first shot.
First Bushco gives energy companies the license to pillage then gives social program money to war profiteers with a phony war he knows is unwinnable while neglecting the war in Afghanistan and the misery we still manage to create there and all the while managing to find the spare time to screw over both the environment and lobbyist bought hookers, or least that’s how the ballers’ roll in the Denver offices of Dept. of Interior these days. And now, giving what ever is left Wall Street, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG for screwing up by being too greedy. America can no longer afford her people, the rich need their money.
And the millions of mortgages that have been held by those companies, will now be owned by your favorite uncle, Big Brother Bush. No need for elections when this kind of class warfare turns to shooting warfare. Call in the army and open the cages. This could make Hoover’s Bonus Army debacle look like an Easter Egg roll.
Now I know where all those tanks and trucks and weapons of mass destruction are headed: home to roost.
--mikel weisser writes from the west coast of AZ.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Your Right to Remain Silent

This was actually published elsewhere about a week ago:

Usually around this time in the election cycle, I find myself daydreaming about the inevitability of the upcoming last minute political revelations which can cause a candidate to sink or swim on the turn of a phrase. The term for these drama-fests was originally coined by Gary Sick when discussing an alleged conspiracy among the 1980 Reagan campaign to use George H. W. Bush to stall the Iran Hostages’ release until after the election. Ever since then, the news scandal which erupts in everyone’s face just in time to change the course of elections (so voting machine programmers don’t have to) has been known as the “October Surprise.”
For a good while now, the Repubs have fought some of the dirtiest campaigns this side of gonorrhea. Most every Dem lost election in recent times has had an October Surprise: Dukakis going down over Willie Horton, Gore and the bogus Internet claim, Kerry and the litany of ways he was Swiftboated. Somehow it seemed this go-round however; the GOP was playing the typical Dem role of the hapless losers, making every wrong step possible.
Depending on how far you want to go back there’ve been numerous opportunities to chronicle the buffoonery of the GOP campaign including my favorite: McCain not knowing a Shiite from Shinola back in the spring. Then there’s the way it was revealed that McCain, who once crowed of himself as anti-lobbyist, has now built his campaign staff almost exclusively out of lobbyists and the Neo-Con think tank crowd. That led to the public embarrassment and possible treason when Randy Scheunemann himself, of the Project for the New American Century fame, McCain’s go-to guy on foreign affairs, was revealed to be a paid lobbyist for the former Soviet republic of Georgia (currently of the fabled UniCal Caspian pipeline fame) at the same time McCain starts calling for US intervention in the Georgia/Russia standoff.
And of course there is that figure the Dems are already walloping McCain with daily: his 90% plus voting record of siding with the increasingly unpopular George W Bush through many of Bush’s worst decisions. In a fair election, just being that associated with the Suharto-like Bush would be enough to discredit McCain, if not get him investigated for indictment on his own rights, like fellow AZ GOP member Rick Renzi.
And then, like an over-ripe Christmas plum, the McCain campaign offers up Sarah Palin as a vice presidential choice. If that is the face and the voice of the new Republican Womanhood, no wonder so many male GOP leaders support “Abstinence Only Education.” If the Dems only exploited one scandal a day on this woman they could be discrediting her clear up until Obama’s Inauguration. Suddenly I find myself wondering if the good guys are actually going to win this round and if this year’s inevitable October Surprise isn’t going to come down on the GOP. Maybe after years of effort to stitch all the pieces in place John Conyers Judiciary Committee will actually come out with the goods when Congress resumes and initiate Impeachment Proceedings. And everyday the hearings are on the media could plaster McCain with Bush just like he so richly deserves.
But then I think wait, I’m living in America and that kind of justice is hard to come by. It’s usually bought or sold. Perhaps our October Surprise will be that in light of the successful suppression of free speech and free press activists at this year’s Republican National Convention, the Bush administration in the interest of public safety and public awareness will soon be releasing an amending Bill of Rights. Since so few Americans have expressed concerns over the steady erosion of those rights, Bush & Co. have rationalized that given sufficient personal freedoms and creature comforts we could be persuaded to ignore the loss of our civil rights.
“Here is the summary version of your new Bill of Sale: the right to remain silent.” Anything you say can and will be used against you. Perhaps in staying silent for so long we Americans will find we’ve traded away our ability to speak in exchange for a fuller bowl of porridge and a warmer bathroom.
Either way this is definitely a time to watch for the next shoe to drop. Who will be surprising whom? That depends on who is actually dealing the cards and I think we’re going to find out soon.

--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

“Middle Class Thugs for Bush” Part 2

This last weekend I went to the Mohave County Fair in Kingman and, while standing near the Democrat booth, I cringes at the disgusted retorts made by some of the passers-by who were enjoying their afternoon at the fair by sharing racist and other hateful remarks with family and friends. It reminded me that eight years ago, during Illinois State Fair time, I wrote about an experience of being verbally and physically harassed at an early Bush campaign rally in Springfield, Illinois.
My editor, at the liberal A&E weekly I frequently wrote for, ran the piece with the title, “Middle Class Thugs for Bush.” Within a week I had been fired from the better paying conservative glossy monthly local magazine I also wrote for. Which started the series of events that led me to Arizona, where I get to annoy you fine people.
Anyone reading this piece in that certain conservative daily Western AZ paper where I occasionally publish might note you are, by far, not the first to call for my economic ruin because you disagreed with some words I wrote.
Imagine wanting to have the power financially destroy another person because you were offended by the way they thought. You imagine it. I can’t.
Because, actually, those of you who would want that kind of power, disagree with letting people you disagree with have such freedoms in the first place. You in fact are the same middle class thugs my editor was talking about way back then. And that’s the problem with George Bush: he represents the middle class thugs then and he does now.
He was wrong then, just as John McCain is now, by striving to be the hero of those giving in to the worst aspects of the American spirit. That is unfortunately a part of our history as indelible as our calls of freedom, justice and prosperity. That’s right, some Americans have always acted as if their right to disagree with someone extended to a right to have them destroyed. When little kids act this way we tell them to grow up and some parents even call them stupid. What should we call these parents?
All too often they are the same Americans that try to act like our country is not capable of ever doing anything wrong. The victims of the Tuskegee experiment, Japanese Internment, Iran-Contra, and Operation COINTELPRO are likely to disagree. And they’re giving into the same impulse that makes some want to support our country’s efforts when it says it intends to destroy another country even though we know it’s wrong because all those anti-war protestors are just pissing you off.
Truth is, America has always been the voice of dissent and the tyrants among us, whether in our fairgrounds, or in our Oval Office, have always tried to prevent that voice from being heard. Like Wilson’s Sedition Acts during WWI, which once famously imprisoned a movie producer for making a movie about the American Revolution, because Wilson had made it against the law to portray the British, our then-allies, in a bad light.
Like last month when the Minnesota RNC police security arrested 40, count ‘em 40 journalists trying to report on police brutality out at the protests, while inside the coliseum the polo shirt crowd crows to each other about their love of county. Whose country? Is it “We the people,” or is it “Us and Them”?
Wrong then, just as it’s been wrong any of the countless times American force overwhelms American fairness. Whatever other thing this country is legendarily supposed to be about, it is touted as the Land of Free, who should also be free from the pettiness of those who call themselves brave.
Here is an excerpt from that piece back in August, 2000: “These people weren’t some drunks, punk kids, or ruthless thugs. They were what passes for upstanding citizens, well dressed adults carrying slick signs and wearing their candidates’ pins. They were proud to be mean and felt it their right.”
This probably why the thugs among us support aggressor warrior candidates like Bush then and McCain now. Bush proved willing to go so far as to build a war out of weapons of mass deception, as has been irrefutably proven. How little will it take to push the famously hotheaded McCain over the edge so he can prove his inner thug-ness also with some more of our sons and daughters?
--mikel weisser writes from the Left Coast of Arizona.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Upcoming Musical Peformance

Mikel Weisser's new band, Here, will be performing live at Kingman Arizona's Beale Street Brews Friday Sept. 5th, from 7-10. Mikel will sing lead and play guitar with longtime Kingman favorite, Pep Hagan, accompanying on bass. Lead guitarist, Dennis Groves might possibly be sitting in. About 1/3 of the songs Here are expected to play will be Weisser originals, many coming from his early days as a struggling vocalist in the 1980s Austin music scene. Weisser, the son of 60s era vocalist Patti Weisser, only learned to play guitar three years ago and has since pursued his life long dream of putting together his own band.
Weisser claims the clever band name comes from the phrase, "They need some practice, but at least they're here."
Call Mikel at 928-234-5633, or Beale Street Brews at 418 E. Beale Street, (928) 753-4004 for more details