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