Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Current Comedy, 4/20/09: A New Hussein

Larry King wants to eats my brain. He aims to have it melt out of my ears like some flashback R. Crumb cartoon. It’s all about the Twitter these days with Larry King. He’s like some 100 year old vampire feasting on our stupidity. Absolute poison, if you ingest it you will die. It’s the new crack—one hit, you’re done and here’s comes old Larry with a straw.
Translation: As I type this, I am of the impression Mainstream Media, er, at least CNN, is consciously trying to Twitter-fy my brain, fully well knowing, as I do because I saw it on their channel, that Twitter destroys all it touches, or so say the smart folks at the National Academy of Sciences. Straightforwardly, in an advanced publication, these scientists are warning America, and the rest of the world for that matter, that Twitter desensitizes you, demagnetizes your moral compass, destroys your ability to feel empathy, along with creating several other zombie-like moral effects on a person that will make them all the more easy to control and to tolerate outrageous violence.
So, just to clarify, on April 14th , both on that evening’s scroll and in the expanded headlines, and still available on their website, CNN quite clearly reports, with scientists they present as credible, that Twitter can be more dangerous to our country than a whole host of Osamas,. In unambiguous language they report that Twitter is bad for your moral compass on the one hand, then--as expected in a comedy--they market the crap to death with a whopping 129 different articles about Twitter in their online archive, including some artificially manufactured business involving Larry King as a comically rendered full-blown Twitter-holic. CNN loves Twitter the way Fox loves its Tea Parties. These days, catching Larry King pitching Twitter on his show has become as common as catching Wilford Brimley hawking adult home health care and about as phony.
What is the message behind posting as news an article that condemns a product, then essentially providing it with free ad time, as Larry King’s shows have recently become, 129 times? Twitter: it’s bad for your brain, why don’t cha try it kiddies?
Sunday April 19th King sank to his new low regarding this naked marketeering of the magic Tweetie- Tweet- Tweet with guests Ashton Kutcher (that is the first time in my life I’ve typed that I swear), Sean Piddly-Puff Coombs, Oprah herself, Jimmy J-Dawg Fallon failing to seem sincere and Ryan Seacrest literally phoning it in. All of them shilling for Twitter. That many celebrities pushing a drug and it becomes a new cocaine. Like gangster rap, like chatrooms, Goth fashion, like punk, hippies rock in roll itself, like TV, like the next new drug we’re always not supposed to like even as we’re being taught to, mainstream media has always made a fat dollar selling us stuff they tell us we should be ashamed of ourselves for enjoying. Even AlterNet is in on the game, following the fad with well over 120 articles of their own on the subject. This is just the latest step in our culture-makers ongoing efforts to keep us lazy and stupid, at least dumb enough to be their adherents. They are hoping we will stay stupid long enough so they can get the next war set-up.
Word on the street is they’re resuming casting for the next Hussein.
Right about now, Barack Obama could sure use some Hussein. And no, I’m not talking about his middle name. The purpose of this column is not to make lame jokes about our president’s middle name. Besides that one I mean. No, you remember Hussein, right? Saddam Hussein?
I ask if you remember because we Americans aren’t so good at remembering history which is why we have to spend so much of the time repeating it. For example, when I went looking for my earliest reference to Hussein I found one in a piece called “I Go to War” from the second year of this then-fledgling column, back in January of 1991. I was dreading the impending war.
"Is the real reason we're at war with Hussein that he didn't buy American when we gave him money for guns?"
He sniggered, "No, the real reason is that you TV generations are stupid. You can't remember any of the lessons that sneak out through the networks unless they're talking about cool new ways to consume or not consume whichever is the current fashion. You don't even know how to think and don’t have the patience to learn. The war is breaking you into three camps-- those who find war wrong, those who find war right and those who find war boring. Once the majority of a population finds mass murder and systematic destruction of a culture too boring to consider and just wish they could find another channel to watch, no one will care if we wage continuous war with one stooge or another for the rest of all time. Of course, even if they figure it out, I can always just stop the current war and start a new one. Long as our economy is so based on military issues, it doesn't matter what the people might think, the national budget is going to require wars on a regular basis to keep itself afloat. People are so pissed off with current conditions it isn't hard to make them want to fight somebody.

And so on, same as it ever was. Just change out a name or two and that same passage could’ve been written about either Bush or, more and more lately it seems, Obama. If we’re unlucky, it could be written next month or next year, if the dogs on the right and those blue dogs that trail them for scraps actually start to catch a little skin one these days while nipping at his heels.
Is there a Saddam in your future? For longer than I’d like to remember Saddam Hussein served as America’s favorite bad-guy love/hate relationship. He was so easy to hate. Back in the 80s, what could be more natural for Americans to hate, White Americans that is, than a stocky ethnic –looking guy with a heavy mustache? Yet for 25 years it was like we dated the guy.
For the first ten years he was a bastard. But doggone it, he was our bastard in the Middle East. So when he did bad things we forgave him, like passing gas. Despite the fact that during our 21st Century Iraq Occupation we would help make sure he was put to death for it, back in the day successive US governments forgave him for gassing his own people. Turns out it was our gas in the first place and Saddam only knew how to use it because we taught him how.
Then when Bush I needed an enemy in the way that any floundering president needs a good enemy, Saddam became our favorite Boogey Man. They sold more pictures of Saddam than Satan for awhile there. It got to the point Trey Parker and Matt Stone could poke fun of his absolute demonization in South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, four years before Bush Jr. would recycle our hatred of the guy to sell his phony war. Junior managed to get himself another five years of kicking around Saddam before we accidentally let the Iraqis kill him. Good ol’ Saddam, the kind of guy you’d love to hate.
But so with Saddam so dead, Obama is in the market for a new international whipping boy. Luckily this recent news cycle brought two applicants: another South Park alumnus Kim Jong-Il, of late tossing around war threats and the ever detestable Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps the one person in the world who could make Israel look sympathetic.
One thing’s for sure, if things begin to get rough for the current admin, as they once did for Bush, as they did for Clinton, as they did for Bush I, and on and on, you can bet Barack Obama will find his very own Hussein. And the rest of America will be too Twitter-fied to care. But Larry King is not going to slurp up my brains. I have no time for Twitter.
Excuse me now I have to check my Facebook—

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

Friday, April 17, 2009

Current Comedy Notes, 4/15/09: Bamboozled

First let me admit that though I was briefly raised by a black family as a child, I am not now nor never have been a black man. According to some that means I am not entitled to opinions on racial issues in this country. But personally I am a huge fan of the Spike Lee film, Bamboozled.
In the film, a black man gets convinced to sell out his ethnicity to initial lavish success and in the course of two hours and fifteen minutes, everything he cares about, including his life itself, is destroyed. At the same time Lee surveys Black music and fashion, skewers the media with an insider’s knowing, shows a documentarian’s eye for fascinating fetishistically photographed Jim Crow memorabilia; and, as usual, dazzles us with audacious cinematography, intense naturalistic dialogue and performances, and most importantly, addresses numerous angles on the decidedly American issue of race.
Not to say that racial diversity isn’t right up there with love of god and love of country among the leading murderers and oppressors throughout history world over; but here in the US of A, we have our own special brand, our own personal history, our marriage of Black and White written in words of blood.
In the 1650s when Virginia-based Englishmen were abandoning the whole class-based indentured servant muck-up they had erroneously imported with them from England in favor of an All-American flavor of xenophobic racial slavery, they set a tone for Americans using highfalutin language to justify bloody deeds, couching their self-interest in tones of beneficence, and disguising bestial hatreds as mere privilege, or a government given right to be an arrogant jerk.
Somehow, even though the White population soon came to train their children to hate the Black population, they married themselves to depending on the blacks’ backs for their easy wealth and blacks’ forced privations for their sense of superiority.
Over the last 360 years, America has gotten really good at ignoring the evidence of that kind of thing, but this week’s news cycle brings yet another case of wondering whether America can ever grow out of this savagery and further wondering if the current administration isn’t shockingly a part of continuing the problem instead of the apparent solution Obama was once marketed to be. A mix of Black and White, yet neither in one sense, yet Black enough in another to undo all the Whiteness that had shamed our history. Obama seemed to be all things to all people. But as it has been frequently noted, the only way to say you are going to satisfy all the people is by lying to some of them and betraying others. You can’t be all things to all people. Some simply want to hate somebody’s guts.
The same week we learn of the US government aiding a Nazi avoid incarceration for prison camp war crimes, we also learn of Obama’s choice to boycott the UN Racism Conference in support of our partner in crime, Israel. It’s a move that was far more audaciously Bush-like than one would’ve thought possible, even after Obama’s started his slow slide towards reversing his reversal of Bush torture policies and or the endless war in general.
It was Obama betraying us on race. Just the thought of that seemed too much to take, because that’s what got him elected. Then as if to dash any hope many Americans had of actually enjoying a just country on the 16th Bush, er, I mean Obama issued immunity to Bush era Justice Department officials for their roles in creating a US that openly tortures. Not just in lynching mobs of the good old days, or cadres of cops out of sight of cell phones. Alberto Gonzales tortured our Constitution, Douglas Feith tortured civility, John Yoo tortured logic and they’re all getting away with it. And, now that the pretenses are off, Obama’s beginning to torture my patience.
We’ve been bamboozled. Those who thought they were electing the Black man got the White half too and once again Whitey is screwing us. In comparison, take for example, David Patterson, in comparison to me that is, and, now I guess to Obama too, David Patterson is now and always has been a Black man. Having suffered prejudice, he cares about the suffering of those oppressed by unjust laws. That is why Patterson is joining the gay day parade to get same sex marriages in his state. It’s been clear with Obama for quite awhile that he was willing tolerate an America with second class citizens, so long as they stay in the back of the bus. Does this mean Patterson is Blacker than Obama? Maybe not, but in this case it’s the blind guy who sees beyond the differences and to the equality.
Over on the right, Whitey is busy bamboozling his own self. Tax Day Tea Parties get front page news coverage while the anti-war protests of equal or larger sizes got buried somewhere on page “why-bother.” Claiming patriotism in hating the country and demanding selfish rights, the teabaggers, who so justly earned Paul Begala’s scorn on Tax Day use their hate-speak to begin the process of brainwashing people to vote for their side in the next electoral chess match.
Meanwhile they’re propelling waves of mass shootings (more than 50 dead in 8 recent shootings) and earned an investigation by Napolitano’s Homeland Security. The Right believes they are doing their patriotic duty in curbing some wild liberal by condemning Obama’s every maneuver and hate groups have increased 34%. These are the kinds of hypocrites who are so ethically bankrupted those who once insisted on Bush’s right to wage war now sneer at Obama’s efforts.
From over here on the Left, it looks like Obama working very, very well at advancing their interests though. White people on the Left, have looked to outspoken black politicians in hopes they can actually accomplish something progressive since they must’ve overcome such a great deal to get elected in the first place. Combine that with a flashy sense of stage presence and White liberals expect action from all that liberation theology rhetoric.
That’s why they’ve fetishized firebrands like King and X embraced and abandoned Jackson and Sharpton as their brands went sour and bought Obama in a big, big way. It’s a reverse prejudice but still a prejudgment. And in Obama’s case looking like a wrong. The Right get sold he’s not White enough and so they get to hate him. They’ve been hating the Black man for a long time. The Left is starting to see he’s not nearly as Black as we thought we bought. But both sides are being bamboozled.
For now it seems like it’s David Patterson who sees the issue of prejudice clearly. Certainly this week, he left Obama in the dark.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Current Comedy 4/6/09: God Is Dead

Yes, it’s true, god is dead.
I saw it on the radio; saw it being officially announced by the pope himself. We Americans lost a great hero. But it’s true, based on this last week’s news cycle, we have conclusive evidence that god, at least as far as we Americans have dreamed up our own personal plastic Jesus on the dashboard kind of god, has now died of elder abuse. Beaten down by a mob in New York City, betrayed by those who claimed to love him, then crucified by the vengeful crowned heads of Europe; and more people stood around and watched this martyrdom than the Kitty Genovese slaying.
Of course if this were an Easter bunny kind of tail, then god would be up and pitching for the Yankees again in three days, though I’m not so sure this time. By now the Christians in the audience, if there are any still reading at this point anyway, are wondering, “What kind of god are we talking about here?”
Fear not, holy people, it was only the American god, our Manifest Destiny image of ourselves, the one we insist the rest of the world bow before, not one that an actual Christian could be expected to like. Christians are supposed to love their neighbors, cherish all life, not just the unborn, honor the planet, turn the other cheek and make sure that the least at least are treated as well as the finest. Obviously no American god would behave like that. Once upon a time those who would call themselves Christians called the American god Mammon and our main streets Babylon. I guess that was before they thought they owned them. But back to our story--
As mentioned earlier, from his sound proof room, dressed in his finest raiment, the high priest (pun intended) to the self-proclaimed “most holy of Americans,” Rush Limbaugh himself, was on hand to deliver the final communion, share an oxycotin wafer or two, and then, along with his friends at Fox, cheer on god’s post-mortem disemboweling after the deity was pronounced dead upon arrival. In all truth, god was actually still lying there grasping his last, but Rush ruled god dead anyway so he could have something to bitch about. Then in typical Limbaugh fashion he went on to repeat himself fifteen different times in twelve different ways, liberally mixing in the occasional paid product placements.
But that was just the beginning of the death of our god. Like Tinkerbelle, a god needs to be believed in to survive and in the last few months an amazing amount of folks who like to call themselves good loyal Christian Americans have turned their backs on their country, the Christian Nation so Manifestly Destined to rule over all. These supposedly god-fearing pious have taken to praying for our country’s ruin. As part of the stampede, Fox “News” is now moving into Rwandan-style media propagandist territory, promoting the tepid ersatz revolutionary theater trend known as tea parties, militias and even war-gaming civil war against the government.
After years of calling for those who didn’t love the government to shut up, or even be deported as traitors, now Fox calls calling for armed insurrection against a duly elected president (a term they may not be familiar with). Religious leaders, pundits, and considerable regions of the US Congressional map (including oddly numerous “blue state” congressmen) are all condemning our country in ways that make Rev. Wright’s infamous “God Damn America” seem like a misprinted request for water conservation.
If the people who most loudly insist the rest of us have to listen while they crow that they are the true Americans, if those kind of folks have turned to hating the country this much, it’s no wonder our god died—from absolute embarrassment over the actions of the people who claim he supports them.
Then, following that desecration, as if to add injury to insult, god’s corpse was next flown to London so the heads of state of 19 other nations could kick around god’s dead body for the plague it had brought among them, AKA Obama’s turn with the G20. You know inflation done set in when in the course of less than a year the number of Gs around the world that want to stand around and call us names has increased 250% from a G8 to a G20.And when they all got together to say what they wanted the nations of the world also shunned and condemned the American god.
With Bush we were told not to care that the rest of the world hates us. America didn’t need the other 94% of the population anyway. After all we were told they only hate us for our freedom. But in truth it had something to do with our particularly rapacious brand of capitalism, something to do with our greed, and a whole lot to do with the kind of laziness and thugishness that expects our entitlement to never end, not to mention our own special brand of hunger that would rape a whole world for a whim and softer toilet paper.
It is the kind of appetite that Americans are famous for and the kind of thing people all over the planet are dying over and this last week the rest of the world told us they were tired of putting up with our crap. Around the world people are calling for an end of the Washington consensus as Gordon Brown so stylishly put it while pandering to Sarkozy.
As you may recall under the ideals of the Washington Consensus rest of the world including the non-wealthy Americans, were told to trust our leaders and their pals on Wall Street. Just let the plunderers have absolute control and everything is going to be all right. But guess what they did? Yep, that’s right, they plundered. And when you have ripped off an entire planet, that’s a lot of pissed off people. Folks around the world had been calling for Bush’s head, or at least his ass, for years; but our current president doesn’t want to play it that way. Guess what again? The people of the planet are more than willing to be pissed at him instead. And so around the world Obama is going to be greeted with as intense an anti-message as Bush ever got. The difference is that the message to Bush was an accounting for all of his wrongs. Obama is being called to the carpet for our wrongs.
My, how the tone has changed in a year. Bush laughed at the rest of the world when they asked us to become just a little more green by changing our technologies and energy investments. Instead, Obama laughed at US, at our efforts towards more greenery in his recent electronic town hall meeting when Americans asked him to legalize marijuana by pointing out the economic benefits; wouldn’t even entertain the question, blowing it off the way an arena rocker ignores those outside the gate asking for an autograph.
But if the rock star Obamas had “skipped across the pond” expecting to be welcomed Iraqi-style, with flowers and all, and then dabble in petty faux gaffes with the queen, what they got were their April Foolish hats handed to them, first in London and then at NATO. Obama had to hightail it to Iraq and Turkey for safety sake to get away from the angry crowd of twenty Gs. At least the assassins in Turkey only use knives and not their tongues and everyone knows they’re goofballs.
Here we give them syndicated radio shows and “news” networks, then let them parade around claiming to be patriots while they eviscerate our god.
-mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona.