Friday, August 28, 2009

Current Comedy 8/27/09: Dear Reader,

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our regularly scheduled entertainment, for this latest installment of “Flogging the Reader.” Tonight’s contestant, Mr. "Hatred and Yelling i don't think so" from the comments section on “Preaching to the Choir” part one.
Dear Reader, though you follow standard Republican rebuttalist techniques, I am impressed. Your will to distortion is mighty; I must hope that my quest for the truth is more powerful. Left no other place to start I must say:
Either you live in a world so hate-filled you don't recognize it, or you're lying, or have become so desensitized from living on a diet of too much Rush that you now no longer actually register the feelings of others. I'm betting on door #2, but judging from the viciousness that spews from my TV, lynch mob mentality i find on right-wing websites when I research and the sickening forwards i sometimes receive from my right-wing readers, perhaps you really can't perceive the anger embodied in your message. Perhaps you really think that everybody’s vision of god involves striving for constant warfare and the dehumanization of other cultures, but you’re wrong. And yes, Jesus loves me, even if a room full of his supposed followers have forgotten how.
But maybe as you insist on claiming, you actually are too ignorant to parse the words you type. It was an argument that Bush used, though to little effect and much misery. Here let me help:
Let’s just start with your apparent assertion you had no idea your typical tired right-winger remarks about me needing to get a job (have one, paid well, you?) and the creaky "love it or leave it" coda are intended as intentionally deflective insults. You used them the same way you were insulting my Patriotism, then i countered with the Navy thing--Just a childish game to take us off topic. I consider it my patriotic duty to stand up for my country when I must defend it from its politicians or supposed holy men, don’t you?
But none of that (your insults nor my counters) actually has bearing on the discussion at hand, except as a low blow technique to weaken me through insult, because, like so many right-wingers who’ve considered it their patriotic duty to insult liberals through the years, when you find yourself challenged and don’t want to mount an actual argument, you simply start calling us stupid, slinging mud, and blaming your victims for the messes you chose to create. Naw, no hatespeak there in those word choices. You're innocent, right? What is your purpose? Good clean fun? It’s just those stupid commie hippies picking on the poor conservative again.
As well, Mr. "Hatred and Yelling i don't think so," you obviously are also impaired at understanding the words of others, or again disingenuous in your distortions of the passages you mangle by me and by Kim, so let me explain your deception to you. I said in my column that it is the lobbyists, in particular Dick Armey's business, Freedom Works, a company that gets paid to organize disruptors that they are stirring up trouble dishonestly. Here is the passage: “those overweeningly upright fake Patriots, actual big pharma lobbyists, Dick Armey’s Freedom Works.”
Looking at it anyone can see who is called fake. Like one could see right now I am presently doing to you, Mr. "Hatred and Yelling i don't think so." I wrote it’s those guys that are the "fake patriots," not the Kingmanites at the event and we can all see it when we look at the text. But you look so much more maligned with the misquote; so i see why you chose it.
The same is true with your distortion of Kim Lawrence’s blog: she says what made her uncomfortable was not the merely being in church, but hearing so much hatespeak in a church. Maybe you recall the hatespeak: Hate Obama, Hate Moslems, Hate Immigrants, Hate people who write legislation in language beyond the JH level, and especially hate anyone not Christian enough to measure up to your standards. I heard all that stuff, others heard it; in fact much of it is quoted in articles. For you to feign ignorance, makes you either a liar or … what?
People, meaning more than one, more than Kim, came to me and told me of the hate that filled that room. How they felt threatened, glared at, stared down. More than one told me they feared for their safety after I was booed down and that then they kept silent in the oppression. I did too because that was the intention. Of course you didn’t realize that either.
Like you didn’t notice it was NOT a Republican rally; it was not a secret sect church service. It was supposed to be a chance for all of Franks’ District 2 constituents to listen and speak. We listened to your hate, even if you couldn’t hear it. Did you hear anything I said there or here? Probably not.
You were, to your credit, up front acknowledging you weren’t writing to change my mind and had no intention of opening yours. You write about this attitude as if it is something to be proud of, like you are so proud of refusing to open your heart to the poor, the sick, peacemakers and the needy. Whoever has been telling you that that is Christian needs to be stopped. It’s giving good man a bad name. If that mindset is the one you see as most holy, you are a poor witness to our god.
--mikel weisser, a pantheist, which by definition includes Christianity, writes from the left coast of AZ.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Current Comedy 8/25/09: “Rev. Right’s” Hell House: (Preaching to the Choir Part Two) The 33 Minute Hate

Across the country, there is a phenomenon that occurs each fall. In cities and towns across America, Christians unite to scare the crap out of their children by sending them to hell. Hell House that is. Imagine the worst assortment of those church elder, “I told you so!” fire and brimstone lectures, acted out with zero budget FX and local actors as if directed by Mel Gibson with a 55 gallon barrel and a ladle.
Officially nothing more than a heartfelt nationwide crusade to save the souls of young people, Hell House® is also a best selling product among those believing they can purchase their way to Jesus. As the watchdog group Religious Tolerance explains, Hell House was developed by Keenan Roberts, a pastor of the Abundant Life Church in Arvada, CO back around 1992 and traces its roots to Jerry Falwell. Each $200 "Hell House Outreach™" kit includes “a 263 page manual which covers ‘everything from media publicity to casting and costume.’”
Hell House is supposed to scare the devil out of you, to make your impressionable teenager beg for the chance to stick to the straight and narrow unless they burn forever in hell, or inadvertently drown during a dousing of red tinted corn syrup. Though Falwell gets to claim ownership on inventing this beauty (just one among many gifts to humanity, or so they say); the proper progenitor of this type of entertainment was actually an Englishman named Eric Blair, more commonly known as George Orwell, the inventor, or definer of our current condition; for we are all living a post 1984 existence.
We’ve always been fighting Oceania, or is it Eastasia, or Eurasia? It’s always been hell. What with War being Peace, and Freedom being Slavery, it comes as small wonder that Ignorance is Strength. The news says everything’s never been better; and we can’t remember so we take their word for it. All we have to remember is our two minutes’ hate.
Remember? As 1984’s main character, Winston Smith, drags his way through a typical day he is occasionally required to assemble en masse for a film presentation to incite the passions, patriotism, and lust for bloody revenge among the citizenry, AKA the “Two Minutes’ Hate.” Even though Winston knows most of what he is watching is nothing but lies and propaganda, for he works in the factory that manufactures lies, Smith like everyone else is still enflamed by the masterfully crafted images of the glory of love of country, the barbarism without, the innocents needing protecting within. Mostly the hate video was about the evil ones who hate us for our freedom and how we want to kill, Kill, KILL them.
The two minutes’ hate is a very powerful image. It brings to mind O’Reilly spraying the lens with spittle from the intensity of his rant or Rush Limbaugh conjuring oxycotin-speak as he waves around in clouds of his cigar smoke. It’s not news. It’s the angry lust for revenge bought and sold as entertainment. It’s hate, but hate sells.
And as I arrived on Aug. 22, 2009 at the Assembly of God Church saw Trent Franks opening act was a 30 minute short, 33 Minutes, brought to us free of charge by the Heritage Foundation; in an instant I realized I was experiencing our own era’s Two Minutes’ Hate. Ironically enough, on the website you can even view the standard or the extra special two minutes’ long trailer.
My favorite part of the full length version that I steamed through while waiting for Trent Franks, A Right leaning Jeremiah if ever there was one, was early on when they purposefully misquoted the Preamble to Constitution to make it seem like the first obligation of our country is to be militaristic as Hell[house], because according to the Constitution “defend the nation” is our nation’s “first duty.”
Actually it’s not. As in: it is not our first obligation to our country to wage a war of aggression or intimidation with most of the countries we do business with. Nor is “defend the nation” the first of the 6 defining clauses in the Preamble. As you can see, it is number 4, right there beside the supposed horrendously socialist injunction to “promote the general welfare.”
“We the People of the United States, in Order to: 1. form a more perfect Union, 2. establish Justice, 3. insure domestic Tranquility, 4. provide for the common defense, 5. promote the general Welfare, and 6. secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
To me, after being caught bold-faced in that act of fudging like that, everything that follows is suspect and for those familiar with the techniques of a two minutes’ hate, the distortions come so fast and furious it’s dizzying.
33 Minutes tries to justify both the violence we’ve created around the world with our atomic weaponry and how we can finally have peace by just making some more atomic weaponry. This is next level of violence the Heritage Foundation and Trent Franks wants to sell us—a brand new Reagan style Missile Defense Shield with 21st Century bells and whistles. Make no doubt about it, Mr. Franks, religious man that he is, is above all else, a minister of war.
And why not? With his position on the Armed Services Committee, you can bet Franks has some friends with some dollars in military contracting. As Vote Smart plainly tracks for you, Franks received over 50 grand from defense contractors, with 4 of 10 of his top donors being military/aerospace, it’s safe to say he’s making a killing selling us war.
Early on the film takes up that great saint of the right, Ronnie Reagan, and one could feel the crowd almost coo. While some remember Reagan as the 5th face that should grace Mount Rushmore, I’m of the school that remembers a Reagan who committed some of the biggest Republican Presidential outrages between Nixon and Bush II.
I could start with Iran-Contra and that would be plenty by itself, but to be sure my point is made we can throw in Afghani-flipping-stan and Osama flapping Bin Laden, ignoring the AIDS crisis into an epidemic, closing mental hospitals and overnight creating a whole new world of homelessness, Supply-Side "Voodoo" Economics, Trickle Down theory, anti-unionism, wave of deregulation and the whole Central America shamefest of covert invasions and propped up human rights abusing dictators. School of the Americas, anyone? That’s what Reagan taught the world to think of us.
But in the view of Hades known as 33 Minutes, his word was gold. He was such a peacemaker Reagan “wanted to make nuclear weapons obsolete”; so he raised his defense budget 50%, bought still more nuclear weapons and did his damnedest to sell us a multi trillion Star Wars Missile Shield that made billions for our friends in the military-industrial complex until somebody wisely pulled the plug.
And now more than healthcare, Trent Franks came to Kingman with a mission to sell us something. A missile. He knew he was preaching to the choir on healthcare. No need to come to Kingman over that. But he was here to sell us something: fire and brimstone. And that’s what 33 Minutes delivers. With explosions flickering the eye every few moments, booming bass lines shrieking the urgency of action in fully throated surround sound, 9/11 tromping on our heartstrings recurring in a measured rhythm, flashes of violence, billows of smoke, exploded debris, Arabs and Asians, and uniformed talking heads wearing lots scrambled eggs, 33 Minutes sells its hate by telling us how dangerous our world is and the only way to make it safer is to buy them bigger guns.
It’s the kind of film that punctuates its jump cuts with drum beats and flashing lights. The kind of film that shows the same snippets of destruction several times in various montages, because those images of fire are so cool. The kind of film that makes a big deal of explaining that the legendarily lethal “Electro Magnetic Pulse” is “…a pulse of electro-magnetism” because that explains everything. It seems the worst thing that can happen in an atomic attack is to have an A-Bomb blow up in the upper atmosphere. It doesn’t necessarily kill you, but it might stop your blackberry from texting which as everyone knows is almost as bad as waterboarding. SO, the best way to avoid having them blow up their H-bomb in the upper atmosphere is … to blow it up ourselves.
Unfortunately for the Heritage Foundation and the artistes behind this work of cinema, the film’s final hellish invention fails, an attempt to present George Bush as a man of vision and integrity who also wants to sell you this umpteen trillion dollar missile system and we should buy it because he is a man of integrity. Anytime your argument depends on George W. Bush’s image as a wise statesman, the project’s in trouble.
As 33 Minutes enfolds itself into its final moments of flag waving and Lady Liberty kissing, the serious, earnest narrator implores us to dig deep, to save our souls from such hell. Remember, “You can’t put a price on people’s lives,” … except of course when it comes to paying for their universal healthcare.
Luckily for us all this particular overlong episode of the two minute’s hate left us with its own justification to pull the plug on Franks’ latest missile defense boondoggle and the ad campaign, he’s working so hard to star in. As the narrator explains, “If America is constricted by fear, then all is lost.”
I agree.
Stay Tuned for Part Three: The Right Jeremiah
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Current Comedy 8/24/09: Preaching to the Choir:Reportage from Trent Franks’ Kingman Rally, Part one: The Non-Believer

I searched for two weeks for the question, the magic question, the one to make Trent Franks break character. That’s all we liberals really want in some cases, for the politicians we claim we’re skewering to flinch, maybe to, at least briefly, show that chink in the armor and hope that some one gets it.
I practiced my question in the air, to my dogs, at my wife and on the phone with people. I tossed in bed with it in my mind till I wrote it in my journal, then made sure I arrived at the Assembly of God in Kingman, AZ on Saturday August 22nd, 2009, one hour and forty-five minutes early (as the manual advises—that is the right-wingers’ disruptors handbook as written by Astroturf experts to disrupt, divide and deflect news coverage of townhall meetings when Democrat Congressmen came home for August break, those overweeningly upright fake Patriots, actual big pharma lobbyists, Dick Armey’s Freedom Works).
Once inside I meticulously hand copied my question onto the required form for the nice local lady from the Republican Women’s group and then had her double-check to make sure it was legible.
Then, as the sprinkling picked up to a drizzling, I went back to the corner of Gates and Stockton Hill Road, the access most would take to Trent Franks’ “Come to Jesus and Learn to Hate Healthcare” Meeting and I set up my protest. Before long the rain blew so hard it melted some people’s signs and streamed from the bill of my “Impeach Bush” ball cap. I stood with a war hero, two mothers and their teen children. And it rained.
We didn’t plan anything and nobody told us what to do. We were there, each because we believed the tone of the healthcare rallies around America where right-wing disruptors had destroyed discussions was the wrong tone for a thinking headed political opposition--because we hoped quietly convey our messages to the stream of cars that filled the church parking lot. We too wanted our voices heard.
My signs, a repeat, “Insure Domestic Tranquility … Promote the General Welfare …” These Are the Real American Values” and a new one, “Why Does the GOP Keep Selling Us Fear, Greed, & Hate?” blew in the occasionally gushing winds, but not so much even the gray haired were unable to read them well enough to flash me a feeble finger.
Meanwhile as the rain poured, I practiced my question.
I’d poured over Franks’ voting record as detailed at Vote Smart, a website Franks somehow failed to recommend when he was asked about a good place to check that record in his Saturday afternoon church revival, occasionally billed as a townhall meeting. Franks also couldn’t mention another less complete but well regarded source for congressional info used by millions across America. Franks’ lack of answer on that question was telling. That question had come from one of his fans, not me. My question was this:
“Mr. Franks, you are part of the same crowd who sold us the George Bush Administration with its WMD deception that led to the deaths of over a million people, that sold us tax cuts which created massive deficits, which have crippled our economy, which sold us the stripping of American liberties in the name of security. As a millionaire you have worked very hard to help the wealthy at the expense of the many and that appears to be what you are doing now. When our healthcare system is the most expensive in the world with worst record among developed countries for actually helping the sick and the poor, here you are feverously working to spend more on weapons, but not on saving lives. My question for you is this: with such a long and distinguished record of doing what is wrong for America, why should we trust you now?”
As duly reported in the Mohave Valley Daily News, for the most part I was drowned out by booing shortly after the WMD deception clause. To their credit both Rep. Franks and the reporter from the Kingman Daily Miner did their best to follow me through the yelling. Here’s what KDM’s Suzanne Adams thought I asked, “Rep. Franks, you're part of the same group that during the Bush administration sold us on weapons of mass destruction, tax cuts that led to massive debts and the stripping of American liberties in the name of so called security. Right now we have a health industry that works against taking care of its citizens and you're working to maintain that status quo. Why should we trust you now?"
Which is accurate enough for me. I couldn’t even hear my own speaking. One of the nice Republican ladies, the who’d seen to it I got a turn with a question after watching me hold my hand up for about 30 minutes, suddenly, and understandably, turned fire-eyed, somewhere around the line about tax cuts and deficits; and she leaned into me so fast I pulled back a bit. “You’ve got one minute,” she whispered just above a hiss.
With that kind of noise and hatred around you, a minute is a very long time. I don’t think I lasted twenty seconds.
This was after we’d already witnessed the “good citizens” of Kingman amble on for paragraphs about the prestige of their own backgrounds, the glories of their faith in Mr. Franks and Jesus, or the umpteen ways they, personally more than anyone else in the whole world knows Obama has no birth certificate. But as if a dream came true, I actually got my question asked. At least this one part of America worked this one time like they teach us to believe in schools.
And, for an instant Franks flinched. But, it turned out his answer was better still.
(Next, PART 2: Rev. “Right’s” Hell House: the 33 Minute Hate)
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Current Comedy: 8/18/09: This is What Democracy Looks Like?

Back in the fall of 2004, when we were protesting against the war and the Republican leadership who’d caused it, we had a chant.
A call: “Tell me what Democracy looks like?”
And an answer: “This is what Democracy looks like!”
We were angry. And, history has shown, we were right to be. By that point the train of abuses had already been long and bitter. The lies about WMDs had long been thoroughly debunked—as we said they would be. And the country we’d claimed we were saving, we were clearly hellbent on destroying. The torture scandals were coming out. The Halliburton scandals were coming out. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were already dead, killed in our beloved country’s name and the mission that had supposedly been accomplished a year earlier had already devolved into full-blown quagmire—as we said it would. As Cheney also once said it would, before setting out to create just that.
Millions around the country and ten of millions around the world had already been protesting, marching, signing petitions, demanding their fair voice in the public arena of ideas and steadily been ignored. We’d been branded traitors for telling the truth. So when the Republican National Convention came around in the August of ’04, once again tens of thousands, some said hundreds of thousands, took to the streets to tell our leaders, “We object.”
Tell you what Democrcy looks like? That is what Democracy looks like. And today, as I look back on the groundswell of passion, inventiveness, mobility, and anger at that time, I never would have imagined I would see anything like it, albiet on a lilliputian scale, by the right-wing of our country and never over anything as shallow as the selfish impulse to refuse to aid our fellow man. Nor would I have ever expected to see such love of hatred, such glee in condemnation, such lust of violence or such openly treasonous behavior from the same people who used to scream death threats at me because I wore a peace sign.
Fast forward five years and as the astroturf grows long on the “healthcare rebellion” of the fall of 2009, this past Monday I took my wife and daughter to see Obama and what we saw were ugly Arizonans instead. Whipped up by the fake grassroots efforts of Dick Armey and his junta of goons, enflamed by a propagandist media machine so toxic it makes Radio Rwanda seem tame, a thousand or so anti-healthcare reform activists surrounded the three thousand person pro-healthcare reform rally, taunting us with hatespeak for over four hours.
Quite impressive. The igonrance was astounding and so was the danger level.
I personally do believe that health care should be a universally provided service, like police care, or fire care. And so when the temperature rose into the low 100s by mid-morning, I carried water to both sides of the street because when it’s that hot, water is healthcare, preventive healthcare. Unlike the Republican leadership currently disgracing Arizona’s reputation the way Bush once did to our country’s, I also believe education should be a universally provided service.
And so, though I disagree with your message very much, I’m willing to give you some schooling.
First and foremost, “because you’re stupid, that’s why!” is never going to be regarded as a cogent argument in any debate. Spending three hours designing an elaborate sign that wittily insults Democrats, but which you cannot defend when politely asked about is no way to sway people. Simply chanting “Read the Bill” also does not qualify as an in-depth explication. And since it implies that the all the chanters actually did themselves read each and every page of every version of the several bills out there. It makes them look pretty silly in the hundred degree weather to be standing there with so many of their pants so obviously on fire.
And to angry people on both sides … Shut up. For those on the left side of the street, shouting with vengeful glee, “WE are the Majority!” does not guarantee the other guys are wrong. Remember? The majority once thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, though we told ‘em and told ‘em no. They also once thought Saddam did 9/11 and that George Bush was a good man. Being in the majority doesn’t mean you are right; it just means you can be swayed.
And you guys on the right? Please. These same people advocating violence and hatred to solve problems today are the folks who hated the 60s protesters for acting up during Vietnam. The folks carrying guns to the rally this past Monday are the same people who a year ago were calling for the extremination of Bill Ayers because he’d tried to use violence to stop America’s other great shameful war. And all Monday’s group wanted was to not pay taxes, especially if it was going to help the sick.
Is that the image you want for yourself? Probably not. Christians steer clear of this healthcare debate: not wanting to take care of the sick and the poor is guaranteed to make you look like a hypocrite.
Next, distance yourself from the angry nutjobs. It discredits your whole movement. I want to immediately acknowledge as I walked both sides of the street, still wearing my peace signs, I talked to several clearly passionate but also clearly spoken people who made the effort to communicate fairly and I learned once again that there is a lot of common ground between the left and the right when it comes to the problems we see in this country. Imagine what all we could accomplish together if you weren’t so intently busy calling us all those names they keeps telling you to call us.
If you really want people to think of you as good Americans, then when those nutjobs come around whipping up your anger to the point you want to hit somebody, tell them to go away. They are making you all look nuts. And, who knows but that they could be agents of the current COINTELPRO operation. You guys remember Operation COINTELPRO?
Started in the 60s, COINTELPRO was/is an effort to discredit and demonize anti-war/political opposition groups by infiltrating them with folks who would incite violence, embarrass, disrupt, divide or disorganize the group. Operation COINTELPRO and its subsequent generations have been implicated in protester misbehavior and violence in every anti-war movement since then and in the WTO mayhem in Seattle, as well the protests at both the 2004 & 2008 RNCs. Besides, do you really want to be associated with the ugliest of those images? Is that actually your impression of the American way?
If you really think the guy with the diapered donkey hung in effigy yelling demeaning epithets face to face with an opposing crowd of two thousand actually make your cause look noble, better check the old think machine because it’s obviously malfunctioning.
Also, and I’m sure you already know this, carrying weapons to a healthcare rally is clearly not about healthcare or freedom, it’s about threatening. We know it, you know it. Pretending it’s about your right to have a gun in Arizona only makes you look like a liar. It’s about being so scary your opponents are silenced: it’s a message—if you annoy me too much I’ll shoot you. No, it’s not about self-defense when you’re the one doing the bullying. It’s called assault with a deadly weapon. After all, it is an assault rifle. And no, no stampeding herd of deer were likely to attack us that morning in downtown Phoenix thus require the twenty shot clip and backup pistol on your hip, so you can’t call it hunting either. We know what you wish you were hunting and in America that’s not called patriotism, it’s called murder.
If your message is good, you won’t need to act badly to convince others of it. Speaking of which, the whole Hitler thing would really be comic if it weren’t so pathetic. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we did it too; but we were comparing Bush to Hitler for taking millions of lives, not saving millions of lives. Get a new slogan, that horse won’t run.
And lastly, you people who claim you hate socialism, better face it, a government at all, any type, is a socialist enterprise. Everyone of us protesters there that morning, both the pros and conned, all rode on roads built on the public dime, were protected by military and police forces paid for with taxes, and enjoy parks, schools, standard weights and measures, sewage systems and a host of other luxuries of the supposed developed nations. If you choose to live in society, you are part of the socialism.
The Preamble to the Constitution establishes the goals for the new government it was designed to create. The media and the GOP leadership as well have been quite willing to forget that insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare are both among our highest goals and both clearly socialist. For that matter, “For the People, Of the People, By the People” is the epitomy of socialism. And if you aren’t willing to work for those goals, then who is the real anti-patriot?
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Open Letter to AZ District Rep. Doris Goodale

As i was writing this letter to my rep. trying to discuss the, at that point proposed GOP Ed budget, i got the news that that disastrous document had been passed. You can see how it changes the letter.

Open Letter to the Arizona GOP leadership,

I seriously appreciate you asking my opinion on this though i bet you could guess it--

(Shortly after i received your letter and started my reply, Beth came home and gave me the news of the GOP budget passing. I imagine you know some people who are celebrating. I assure you millions of Arizonans will not celebrate tonight. In fact i would venture to say the only folk happy about this move are the GOP, their rich friends and folks who haven't realized what you have done.

Yet. An intentional 2.7 billion dollar shortfall by 2013 will be felt by all but the wealthiest of Arizonans.

I am sure you can understand how this news tempers the rest of my reply.)

--call me a tax and spend Democrat (an all-too-common supposed-epithet hurled when GOP attempt to avoid their fiscal responsibility), but you know what my answer is: i say you've cut too many taxes already, created a disaster of your own making (possibly intentionally) and need to put some taxes back before this state collapses from underfunded services, dangerously underfunded. Excessive tax cutting, has created this mess, just as the AZ congressional budget analysts have noted that the proposed new GOP budget will cause even greater shortfalls. I try hard not to believe this had been done purely for political gain and, it seems, class bias, but such continuing bald-faced greed gets harder and harder to explain away as good natured American individualism.

Cutting budgets to afford tax cuts? Even after 30 years of strident insistence by the GOP (both state and national), tax cuts have yet to prove to accomplish anything significant for the vast majority of the citizenry: They are designed by the wealthy for the wealthy at the expense of the many. Tax cuts mollify the ignorant and enrich insider: what a disgraceful way to behave while calling one's self a "public servant." Just see the pattern of contracting wealth in our country, and the ever expanding permission for businesses to act as rapaciously as possible. How are those behaviors "good" for America or Arizona. They are not good for me as a social studies teacher trying to convince my students that their government acts with their best interests at heart; at the same time--

( Wait. I'm sorry. I'm sure you can tell the civility and even camaraderie i began this letter with have left me now. I feel i have just witnessed a betrayal, on your part personally, but to a larger degree on the AZ GOP's part. And not to me in particular, though once again just about the time i begin to have faith in you to act like a human being i again am faced with you acting as agent of predators out to fill their pockets at the expense of our children. Like a doctor refusing to administer services because he prefers to pay attention to his bottom line rather than his Hippocratic oath, the AZ GOP has chosen to consciously endanger the life of our state. I mean all your cuts are a bad idea at a time when our people already struggle from a staggering lack of services. I will have to write later when i can remember to be more civil.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lone Protester DOES NOT Disrupt Kingman GOP Meeting, Still Makes Point.

At the Elks Lodge in Kingman, Tuesday August 11th the billed guests of honor, State Reps. Nancy McLain and Doris Goodale, along with State Senator Ron Gould, were no-shows, probably down in Phoenix doing more damage to the health education and welfare of the good people of Arizona. Meanwhile, at this meeting, there was another guest attending however, a lone protester with 3 signs. I know about the protester in question because it was me.

Standing outside a respectful distance across the street or beyond the driveway and acting politely (which is my usual protest mode) I held up 3 signs while the Kingman GOP arrived, met and departed, staying about three hours to make sure most of the folks attending had a chance to see my message if they cared to look.

My signs read: 1) "AZ GOP/Tax Cuts for the Rich/ School Cuts for Your Kids." 2) The second one had that slogan + "Who Are They Really Working for? Not AZ, Not US." 3) The 3rd was a blown up picture of the Constitution w/ the words: ““Insure Domestic Tranquility”/ “Promote the General Welfare”/ These are the REAL American Values.”

I have been protesting for now 30 years--occasionally, during wartimes for example, in some pretty hostile territory. It is scary to go to the stronghold of your opposition and tell them you think they're wrong. Tonight, however, i was treated as well, no, make that I was treated clearly better than i have ever been in such a situation. I almost felt supported. Tonight in Kingman, at their own meeting, which they failed to attend, the AZ GOP leadership clearly was not.

I received FAR more thumbs up than middle fingers and a couple of folks stopped to tell their support. Dozens smiled to me as they passed. My protest was not about Democrats versus Republicans. It was about Arizona’s education budget in the hands of AZ’s current anti-public-education leadership. The rank and file citizens of Kingman apparently do not like this don't like the AZ GOP Ed plan either. Maybe they have kids.

It was interesting to see what the locals really feel without the statehouse party leaders on hand. One woman came and explained that inside the scene was an unhappy one. Local GOP officers filled in for the missing Goodale, Gould and McLain and openly stated that they didn't like the new budget plans. While at the mic the one official supposedly said, bitterly, that down in Phoenix they didn't know what they were doing.

Unlike my mostly silent and consciously polite protest (I admit I also played guitar during the slack times when nobody was outside as I waited peacefully outside in the 100 degree + weather), during the meeting there was a call for disruptors to attend Harry Reid's the Elks Lodge townhall meeting in Searchlight, NV on Wed. Aug. 26th. Lately the press has plainly found the pattern in the dangerous behavior of the so called "astroturf" agitators: paid organizers and political hecklers who travel around the country to attend and disrupt healthcare townhall meetings. Instead of discussion, they have promoted discord and even violence in an effort to keep their opponents silent and crush the actual democracy they claim to be protecting.

In this case the operatives are seeking to bring folks in from another state. Of course Reid is the Senate Majority Leader and as such everyone's elected official. But with my example there before them, but was disappointing to hear of this plan still being hatched in front of this crowd of my fellow citizens. That kind of behavior was not entirely supported by the local GOP. One of the women stopped by to show her support and said, “Please keep making noise. I hope somebody hears it.”

I replied, “I’ve been trying to polite. Tell them to be polite in Searchlight.”

She smiled and said, “Exactly.”

As sweet as that scene was, it is not to suggest that the entire evening was confrontation free. There were some clenched faces and raised fingers among the cars leaving at the end of the evening, including a particularly hilariously grimacing old woman in a white sun bonnet. But my favorite was the middle-aged redneck woman who read the sign about insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare then yelled out, “Welfare my a_ _!” Not recognizing that the lines come from the Preamble to our very own US Constitution. Form a more perfect union, provide for the common defense, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty, you know, the stuff we claim we want our government to be about.

With angry undereducated folks like that, I guess it is small wonder that the current AZ GOP still has some die-hard supporters on this ed budget. But judging from the looks and behavior of the Kingman area Republicans attending tonight, I am proud to report that the majority of my fellow citizens in attendance are smarter than that.

Must’ve been in school before the budgets got cut.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Current Comedy 8/09/09: Top Ten Current Not Funny Jokes

1. Giant guy in business suit holding a tiny guy in work clothes by the throat. They're standing outside the small guy's house w/ foreclosed sign. A cop is turning to watch. The giant guy says, "He's picking on me!"

2. Right-wing protesters whose unfurled American flags are in the position to look like swastikas.

3. A rich mom is dragging her child away from staring at a poor person. The mom is also tipping the valet some coin change for bringing their car around. The mom says, "charity begins at home."

4. A little touchy (maybe over a line): or white guy w/ a crew cut is pointing at the TV where Sotomayor is being confirmed and he's screaming, "I knew that N____ would hire a racist!"

5. Homeless guy sleeping under newspaper w/ the headline, "Goldman-Sachs Executives to Receive 11 Billion in Bonuses" He murmurs, "Knowing they're safe helps me sleep at night."

6. On the same theme: kid sleeping in a cardboard box is enviously looking through a fence at a shaggy dog sleeping in a doghouse.

7. Very cartoonish: a fat guy is floating in a dingy in the shape of the USA, around him are others floating in the water and they and the waves they make are in the relative shapes and positions of you know, South America, Africa and Asia and so on. He's got mounds of supplies all around him. He says, "If there was only more room i could let some of you ride along."

8. An Arab is fallen in barbed wire in the shape of a crucifixion. OR that's the scene on TV. The scroll says, "Afghan Civilian Death Toll up 25%." The viewers say to each other, "Those people are so godless."

9. Middle class guy is standing in front of his foreclosed home between two streets. On one side a limousine is coming towards the front of the picture. On the other nondescript dark figures are walking off carrying all their worldly possessions. He yells at the poor people, "Look at the mess you made."

10. Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck in a radio studio: on the wall it says "RADIO RWANDA." On a calendar it shows April 1994.