Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Current Comedy, 1/28/09: The Change Is Going To Do Me Good

At what point did the inauguration “get” you?
You know, at what point did the whole spectacle of that whole thing last Tuesday get to you in that break-down-sobbing “There’s hope for this country after all” kind of mood, where you clutch to your loved ones and look around at the world with new eyes? At what stage along the way did it finally get to you--that rush of release at the personal sensation of having an immense weight lifted off of our national karma? Did that happen for you?
Got me about the third day, I clearly remember the moment.
Understand I am a professional cynic. I don’t give-in easily to the idea of trust or hope in my government. As a child of the 50s, I’ve been lied to by said government about the Kennedy assassination, the King assassination, the other Kennedy assassination, and oh yes, the Kennedy assassin at Chappaquiddick, and that’s just the Ks.
Vietnam, Cambodia, (nukes, oil, banks, sex, drugs, AND rock n roll), Russia, China, Watergate, Chile, Afghanistan, South America, Central America, the Schools of the Americas, Iran-Iraq, Iran-Contra, Star Wars, the S& L Crisis, the Gulf War, Gulf War Syndrome, New Taxes or the lack thereof, Clinton’s Women, and on and on; and all that was last century before the real pros took over. As the man says, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” And that slave rapist was supposedly one of the good guys.
So, despite the inauguration fever all around me, I was slow to embrace the possible joys of living under an actually democratically elected well-intentioned leader as opposed to the mass murdering kleptocrat I’d been enduring. I was duly awed at the sight of a million and a half people on the National Mall. So much happiness it was contagious. And, I admittedly took pleasure as I analyzed Obama’s speech with one of my classes to search for clues of intentions and condemnations and nodded at their admiration as they stared at the screen at a black man they wanted to be like who was not limited to doing something with a ball, swilling champagne while mumbling obscene rhymes, or capping someone’s ass with a nine. It felt real good, I admit it, but still—
The liberal in me had already tapped out a long laundry list of various Obama positions to be wary about. Still, I hummed along with my wife’s recurring mangling the “Obama, Obama” song as we watched ball-watching commentators gush. And I smiled proudly at my four year old granddaughter when she squealed with delight, “That man is Obama” as she pointed at the TV screen throughout the following days.
Then that Thursday night after watching my wife continue to pour over the newly Obama-fied website, I heard her gasp with excitement, “New executive orders!” as she leaned into the screen of her laptop with wonder.
Now, having been a frequenter of the Bush Whitehouse site while showing students how to write research papers over the last eight years and a peruser of Obama’s site, I could not recall ever having a moment like that when I felt such joy about any page I’d ever found. So I had to give a look.
And that’s where I got hooked. It was the Jan. 21st presidential records executive order that first set my heartstrings a-twittering. After clawing my way through the boiler plate I found this nugget in section 3 (b), “The Attorney General and the Counsel to the President, in the exercise of their discretion and after appropriate review and consultation under subsection (a) of this section, may jointly determine that invocation of executive privilege is not justified.”
For the first time in eight years I saw it written in plain English that someone with the power to do so might actually tell Bush “No.” That moved me I must say; but I think it was when I opened the agenda menu and read that the first item was Civil Rights, that I first realized I was falling in love.
End racial profiling, civil unions formalized and equalized, equal sentencing for all forms of cocaine? A president who not only knows what the term LGBT means and has an entire set of policies on LGBT issues beyond something along the lines of “Well, equal rights may be OK for some of us, but the Bible says them folks is sinners.” Was this to be an America I was familiar with?
When I scanned my way to the other end of the impressively long alphabetical list and saw the word “Women,” I was genuinely curious instead of smirking as I had whenever the words “Clinton” and “Women” were juxtaposed or, groaning as I had during the Bush years when the term “women” only came up in the GOP’s policy considerations as it related to ways to overturn Roe V. Wade.
The tears finally began to well when I opened the Immigration page. It opens with a quote from Obama’s senate days that ends with the line, “Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should." -- Barack Obama, Statement on U.S. Senate Floor, May 23, 2007. Instead of Bush’s stall, this felt like a good start on an under discussed ultra urgent issue. As I read through the details of how to deal with the millions of undocumented émigrés already with us I started to balk, till I looked again at the words “Bringing People Out of the Shadows.” There was something about the humanity in those words. Maybe I didn’t agree with some of his methods, but at least now there’s hope.
And in the instant I realized I was feeling hope in America because of my president, not in spite of him, that’s when I got “got” by that inauguration feeling and that’s the moment I cried.
They were stored up bitter tears. I’ve been grieving for my country a long time. The change is going to do me good.
--mikel weisser writes for the left coast of AZ.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Current Comedy 1/19/09: Hello Private Citizen George Bush

As anyone indulging in the All-Inaugural-All-the-Time cable news shows knows on the eve of the inaugural, Dick Cheney has injured himself moving boxes from the White House to his new home. Cheney will be attending the inaugural in a wheelchair. No matter what else gets said about this story as it progresses, or doesn’t, remember this: If Dick Cheney was moving those files himself; it means he didn’t want anyone else moving them for him. Why?
You know he could have had someone doing this sort of thing for him, he’s Dick Flippin’ Cheney. But seriously between secret meetings on energy policies, torture, WMD lies, and his overall war on the US Constitution, one wonders how many files Cheney would rather the rest of us not know about. No one may ever know which dossiers Cheney wrenched his back to keep secret, but given the repression and secrecy his office has come to represent in America, you can bet it wasn’t his collection of thank-you cards.
In other inaugural news, with hundreds of law enforcement jurisdictions under their control and more than 10,000 national guardsmen on hand, the security for tomorrow’s massive main event is the most intense ever created for an American event and will make a border checkpoint look like a 300 lb security shack reject snoozing off his lunch. This particular pageant could include as many as two million spectators on a pilgrimage as holy as Ramadan itself--to see Obama take office. For its sheer volume and impact on society, Obama’s inaugural itself can count as the first of his new jobs programs.
However in reading the fine print, the do’s and don’ts in the president-elect’s guidelines for attempting to exercise your right to visit your capital city tomorrow include the obvious prohibitions against firearms and explosives, but further all residents and visitors to Washington DC are forbidden to carry “sharp objects (of any length) … sticks or poles … pockets or hand tools, such as “Leatherman,” packages, backpacks, large bags, duffel bags.” So all you Macgyvers, dog owners, Andys and Opies, travelers, anyone bearing car keys or toothpicks and those wearing pockets [?] stay away! This is the people’s inauguration. Glad we got rid of that last fascist in time for this new one.
Still it’s hard not to have hope at a time like this. Obama’s the hottest marketing gimmick this side of carbonation because he truly is a dream come out of left field and yet come true. His vision has seemed as of yet hazy, but clearly different. And after 8 years of the same old Bush, everybody’s buying different. Promises of swift action to end the war, supposed executive orders addressing reversals of Bush admin stances on birth control and Guantanamo Bay, and new fuel efficiency standards, have the pundits swooning. It could be an actual component or two of steps to that viable future we’ve always known to believe was impossible as long as it was the same old guys running the same old game in DC.
But maybe this time it’s not.
Maybe the guy many of us hoped we were voting for is actually still in there somewhere and tomorrow a new future for America begins. So, here’s to dreaming the impossible. Though outgoing CIA director Michael Hayden went on record stating he expected no Obama investigation in Bush torture policies, AG nominee Eric Holder acknowledged that he considered waterboarding torture, so maybe there’s hope yet, that some justice could be done.
For years we have been told that there was no way to address the indignities that the Bush admin was perpetrating because he was in power, well as of noon tomorrow he’s not. Once he is no longer president, Vincent Bugliosi has loudly claimed that private citizen George Bush can be arrested as soon as he leaves office. We all know those crimes demand justice or the stain of the Bush legacy continues to spread to all us Americans who have stood by and let him get away with these murders and then say they were in our names. Now is the time calling on all people, of all countries, starting tomorrow, to clamor for Bush's arrest as loud as any protest ever known. If there will ever be a time when Obama will listen to the American people regarding Bush, this is it.
Business as usual says that Obama will let Bush get away with it for the sake of expediency, but it doesn’t have to be that way with this inauguration. Business as usual is not what the American people voted for. Besides, business as usual is not the way to start a new day, is it, President Obama?
-mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Current Comedy 1.14.09: Pelosi, Palin, and Even Bush Are Right

According to the weather reports as of Wed. Jan. 14, the weather for Obama’s upcoming Inauguration next week will be cold, an overnight low of 22 the night before and snow that morning for that lovable den of iniquity more generally known as your capital city, Washington DC. This, of course, supports the contentions of bigots and religious fanatics everywhere who have said that hell would have to freeze over before a black man could become president.
It must be that time of year weirdness reigns. For example, in an odd example of the way even broken clocks are right twice a day; this week’s news cycle saw a trifecta of liars, buffoons and fools getting it right to the point that it honestly bears acknowledging. George Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin all issued public statements that were both smart and correct. Former baseballer Bush actually managed to pull of his own triple play. With each of these three having such horrendous records at “getting it right,” Vegas odds-makers would have refused to even speculate as to the chances of such a convergence.
What next? Will it be revealed that Anne Coulter has a redeeming quality?
My personal favorite among the trio was Sarah Palin’s observation that the press and the political process were giving Carolyn Kennedy a break in her quest to be the next Kennedy public self-immolation. Palin accused that JFK’s “widdle-bitty-daughter-all-growed-up” might be getting special treatment because she is an elite in the class warfare of America.
Yeah. No kidding, Palin’s right. [It feels SO weird to type that]
The Kennedy family, like other longtime millionaire families in America, are part of a ruling class that shapes the lives of the rest of us the way rich kids on the beach build their castles: so their friends can traipse through them, wreak havoc and then fudge fat government contracts to fake at rebuilding them. The current Kennedy family earns extra credit for being only a couple generations removed from the time when her granddad smuggled in whiskey during Prohibition, putting that family on par with the Bush grandfatherly legacy of having been caught bankrolling the Nazis.
What Palin claims to resent is that Kennedy’s class gives her power and an unfair advantage. But even though there is wisdom in her observation, in the end Palin’s lament breaks down to a case of the lady protesting too much. Palin herself didn’t seem too upset a few months back when the money and power of that same group of elites were netting her a $150K wardrobe and private jets all over the country.
Pelosi’s case is a bit more complex. Despite the fact that the woman has not been able to honestly claim a shred of credibility since 2006 when she took impeachment off the table as soon as Americans had voted Dems into power specifically to attend to that very duty, this past week Nancy Pelosi made a very wise and apparently nonpartisan observation: Barack Obama is not keeping his campaign promises. As of yet, this observation can only be ruled to be “apparently nonpartisan,” for as Margaret Kimberly’s widely republished Black Agenda Report article “Freedom Rider: Bush Goes out a Winner” summarizes, thus far Obama’s efforts appear to be more in keeping with the Bush/GOP goals than his own party’s platform or even his very own campaign promises.
In specific, Pelosi was finally getting around to carping about Obama’s early on bombshell of a choice to jettison the populist promise of taxing the rich, a lie frequently foisted on a struggling public by a Democrat wanting to be thought of as a reformer. Of course when he was running for the attention of the American public, he could get a lot of mileage out of promising to thrash the rich. However now as president, Obama is also beholding to those very rich who own the country they let him claim to run.
All of which brings us to Bush and his swansongs for the press. Swaggering, bitter, and cockier than ever, in his final press conference the frat boy martinet Bush danced around owning up to debacle that has been his presidency, though he did acknowledge the whole WMD thing was “a significant disappointment." In a “disappointment two-for,” Bush also admitted that the Abu Ghriab prison deal was as well "a huge disappointment." Boy, George, you just can’t get much righter than that.
For Bush however, these disappointments were merely a matter of misjudging policy issues. For the rest of us: The WMD and Abu Ghriab disappointments include the fact that, as the scope of the massive criminal enterprise of Bush lying us into unprovoked wars and tortures against our fellow man was revealed, as we came to learn the depths of the cruelty in our name and the layers of deceit employed to keep the American public from the truth, when we finally had it all proven and laid out for us how we the American public had been swindled into mass murder and enabling mass fraud, that we then still allowed ourselves to continue to be governed by the despot and to even be accused of voting the man back into office instead of having the traitor arrested. That is the greatest disappointment.
Which regretfully brings to mind Bush’s final and must urgent truism: “there's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict damage on America — on Americans." I have a clear idea of who he is referring to. As of Jan. 20, the great criminal I’m thinking of may no longer be in charge, but he will still be at large.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Current Comedy, 1/6/09: Tainted

Once upon a time an embattled Illinois governor, George Ryan, did an apparently noble thing. Officially, in response to loud and long public outcry from prisoner rights organizations such as the Innocence Network and due to the noble efforts of law students at Chicago’s Northwestern University, in 2000 George Ryan magnanimously halted all Illinois state death penalty sentences and ordered a reinvestigation of all the pending cases.
Noting that in the length of time it had taken for Illinois to execute 12 death row prisoners, another 13 had been able to prove their innocence, the noble statesman issued these heartfelt words as duly reported in Wikipedia: "We have now freed more people than we have put to death under our system …There is a flaw in the system, without question, and it needs to be studied.”
Of course it was all BS.
Ryan’s ass was in trouble up to his earballs and the whole thing was a sham. In an earlier election, state workers at state truck inspection stations were raising money for Ryan’ campaign by strong-arming truckers for donations, instead of inspecting for competence, they just asked for bribes. They were basically selling trucking licenses for campaign cash. It all blew up in everyone’s face when a wreck killed someone.
Ryan needed to change the subject, thus the death row pardons. It was a good thing to do, a noble act in and of itself, and, famous enough to get him nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. But it didn’t get him off the hook for selling driver’s licenses. As of this writing he’s still serving time near Terra Haute, IN.
All of which, obviously brings up embattled corrupt Illinois governor du jour, Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris, and that funny little word “taint.” In this fast paced world of today’s punditry, a phrase with all the lurid appeal of criminality, sex, open wounds and spoiled vegetables was bound to be so overused, unto death, that in a matter of days, no, hours, Stephen Colbert could make fun of said overuse with plenty of clips to spare of supposedly serious people intoning the word “taint” as if it were a physical badge, a Scarlet A soldered onto one’s chest that they saw on Roland Burris and not in their own souls.
Many people are unaware that the word “taint” also has another meaning, which doesn’t appear in most dictionaries. But for folkie midwives and natural childbirth granola crunchers familiar with the hippie birthing commune known as “The Farm” or proud owners of Ina May Gaskins’ timeless tome Spiritual Midwifery, “taint” has a different meaning entirely. “Taint” is the slang term that inch or so of skin between the anus and the vagina so well known to ejecting babies, medical personnel, including midwives, and porn aficionados worldwide.
In midwife parlance, as far as I can tell, it is the direction NOT to go when considering an episiotomy; but please do not quote me. I am not a midwife, a member of the medical personnel nor could I play one on TV.
But beyond that narrow little window on the world however, “taint” used in this way refers to a “neither/nor” situation as in “’t ain’t this one nor that one.” And such is the case with Roland Burris. As Illinoisans know, having had to endure his multiple campaigns for the last dozen years or so, Roland Burris is neither so much an anus nor a vagina. At least not in any sense beyond the average asinine behavior expected from any politician.
In fact Roland Burris actually had a respectable enough reputation long before Blagojevich came along looking for a lifeline to tie his sinking ship to. Blagojevich may be being his typical venal, conniving self. It is after all, as demonstrated, an Illinois gubernatorial tradition; but that doesn’t mean that Burris was not a good choice for US senator, not that there is some secret disease infested connection between the two men.
There is however an obvious association between Blagojevich and Burris that connects them in a way that discredits both their reputations. If a person were to look for “taint” as in the way that stain of an association colors, infects, putrefies a body, anyone associated with the Democratic party’s senate contingent is indeed at risk for sharing their reputation as sullied, tarnished, “offensive or deleterious.” The shenanigans of Harry Reid and his donkeys remind the American public that no matter what kind of statesmen we work ourselves into believing we’ve elected, what we get is petty egos playing childish games.
No matter which way it turns, anus or vagina, Blagojevich or the US Senate, Burris is going to end up contaminated by some discrediting association. A man in the middle, Burris is only now realizing he’s tainted, but it’s been going on for a long time. In all truth the negative associations Burris have to deal with today began long ago, when his own low ego and large ambition set him down the path of glad-handing jackasses and kissing babies.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Current Comedy, 1/1/09: New Year's Column--Turning Over a New Belief

Dear Santa,

Once again I have been stiffed out of my Xmas wish list. What gives?
Did you not get my list? Should I show you anew?
I know last year, I said I wished for a Democratic president and I didn’t care who it was so long as they could beat the legacy of Bush. OK, technically you’ve come through. Thanks again for the Obama puppet. No matter how much I complain, don’t think I don’t appreciate the horror show the McCain-Palin puppets would have been. You can indeed milk that particular piece of gratitude all the way till the cows come home.
But, you know, a Xmas wish list doesn’t have to be a strict guideline or anything. Remember, with my last year’s Christmas wish when I asked the Dem president, I had actually specified the “Kucinich” model? Missed a little detail there I guess.
Anyway, Dear Santa, Janus, whoever, here’s what I am after this year. Even though you didn’t get me any of this stuff for Xmas, it’s not too late. You could make it a New Year’s Resolution to try a little harder.
New Year’s is as good a holiday as Xmas to represent hope, and it lasts all year long. I know this wish list is reads a little extreme, but if you’re all out of “world peace,” I’ll settle for that cheesy sweater you keep re-gifting me.
1. Dump Israel. I know I’m going straight for the jugular of the AIPAC consortium that Obama and Emanuel are beholden to. But, just like America finally admitted it had to disassociate itself from the Suharto-like conduct of Bush to regain our international credibility, we are going to have to reject the Nazi-like behavior of our ally that occupies Palestine as if it were Birkenau if we are going to maintain a reputation for giving a shekel for the sanctity of human life. I know Revelationists and Neocons have been wet-dreaming about a confrontation like this for decades. It’s ironic how the same crowd who claim to love the sanctity of human life are always so willing to kill for it. But even Olmert admits it’s a “Pogrom” and Bush loves to defend a tough Israel, so come on Obama, you want to be thought of in that group? Take a clue.
2. Somebody clue those kiddies high on the last 8 years of Jesus Juice to learn some Christian-like humility because here in America, the supposed land of religious freedom, the big JC is no longer in charge. Desperate ditto heads are now turning the flames up on the old fire and brimstone routine in the hopes of shouting down the wardrobe malfunction of the Religious Right getting caught with their pants down backing the wrong guys in the last election.
To make matters worse for the theocrats just a couple of days after the Solstice New York Times Charles Blow’s “Heaven for the Godless” revealed that the vast majority of Americans are ready not only to equally respect non-Christian belief systems, but even essentially godless ones. As far as most Americans are concerned, being a good person is now more important than which god you have to bow through to get there.
3. Hey Santa, despite the Illinois government officials concerted best efforts, I know you have plenty of these items left over, so I say “indictments all around.” Just on the charge of treason we could fill a whole GEO Group regional operation. Sure, I’m talking the Bush in-crowd, the Bush out-crowd, and Pelosi and her co-conspirators who reduced Congress to ditherers and the propagandists who put that crap in our face 24/7 while the Bush crimes against humanity continued. But why stop there?
Before it spreads any farther we have to address the criminality of the whole Bail-out Bubble and the bubble-makers in general. And, not just the folks who dismantled Glass-Steagall, but the many who have profited knowing the plunders they were committing: all the big Greenspans and Paulsons and especially all the little Bernie Madoffs in banking and real estate in general, who knowingly made their money out of air and then expect real people to pay the real bills.
And while we’re at it, let’s include businesses who’ve denied their workers healthcare or outsourced their workers’ incomes while selling their products wrapped in Red-White-Blue. And not just the car companies execs who have willingly screwed not just America’s, but whole world’s economy and environment. For sure we need to roll in the oil execs who colluded with them against our country’s best interests. Bare minimum, only give bailout money to companies that replace their executives.
4. Fire anyone who has gotten their job by saying they want to reform education, for just like Reagan they aim to fix what ails government by starving it to death. The same people who have been in charge since the days when the 3Rs of education meant “Reading, ’Ritin’, and Repetition” are the same people who have risen to their power by promising “Reform.” Education has been in the process of reform for the last 40 years and gotten worse every year. It wouldn’t stay broke if you didn’t keep fixing it. Like George Washington and James Garfield the doctors in charge are killing the patient. Education will not be reformed until those in power actually address the needs of teachers and students and not the needs of each other.
But hey, times like these I hate to create unemployment, so let all educational administrators be rehired as janitors in the schools they’ve destroyed through inadequate funding and excess legislation. It’s going to take a lot of new staff to clean up the mess they’ve made. In fact, talking about firing people, downsize all the people (politicians, commentators and bean counters alike) who have been talking to you about saving taxes by cutting services. Government services are not supposed to be about saving our tax money, they are supposed to be about spending. It’s an old truism, but it certainly applies in this time of a changing of the guard: if the government can print funny money to buy wars and bailout businesses, then there is no excuse to not spend much, much more on the services our governments claim to be providing.
5. Let’s get some saucy goose for all those saucy ganders who voted in anti-gay legislation across the country. Allow civil unions for LGBT and demote all straight marriages to the same, thus equal, civil status. Separate religion from state … as it says somewhere.
6. Install an automatic “no confidence vote” mechanism in the presidential approval rating polls, you know, like a democracy would have? It should kick in automatically when Obama fails to act on his numerous dormant campaign promises to liberals, like corporate and plutocratic tax adjustments, or some truth and reconciliation for the crimes of the scoundrels of the last eight years.
7. How to pay for it? Simple. Raise Taxes. In specific, raise the tax on a certain vegetable both homegrown and domestic and by regulating the citizen spending on this certain vegetable through taxation, we can reduce government spending on incarceration of our fellow Americans.
8. And, Cut foreign aid spending. Americans recently were in an uproar over our government’s choice to tolerate the Pentagon’s efforts to introduce a military presence in the homeland to police us from ourselves. In response we were told having an army trained to attack our own citizens was good for us. Reduced to this—policing a democratic people with an armed military—is clearly not good, and basically wrong. And if it is wrong to do it to our own citizenry, then we shouldn’t be forcing our military on the citizens in others countries occupied by our thousand or so military bases and installations. Don’t merely imagine the savings, imagine the redirected spending. For the truth of the matter is the best way to aid our friends in foreign countries is to stop spending so much money on threatening them with our military.
I know it’s just a Xmas wish list, but it would make a great set of New Year’s Resolutions. What do you think, Mr. Santa? If not, please still send the cheesy sweater. I can give it to the next homeless guy I see. Happy Season of Hope,
–signed me.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.