Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Current Comedy, 9/29/09: Easy Answers

Before anyone even asks: Yes, I’m going to try to take the easy answer about the G20 protests in Pittsburgh last week: I think that the vandals at the heart of the Thursday night riots in Pittsburgh should be caught, arrested, jailed and made to pay for the personal property damages they did. However, I doubt they can be suitably punished for the far greater crime they committed: the damage they did to the legitimate causes they claimed they were working for is irreparable. Once again, ALL liberals and their ideas get demonized for the violence of a few. Thanks, you scum.
As if the news from the G20 protests wasn’t already bad enough, as many expected it would be, the disparity of enforcement and coverage between DC and Pittsburgh was grave injustice that any Americans who cared to watch plainly saw--in the ways that the Sept. 12th anti-American government protesters were treated by DC police and lionized in the press, and the ways that the anti-global oppression protesters were tear gassed, rounded up, and pepper sprayed by the Pittsburgh police at said G20 Summit. Sound Cannons? OMG.
Now, I know, when I put in all those qualifications my easy answer isn’t so easy to swallow. It’s in fact the harder answer to make because it sounds like I am avoiding the $50,000.00 of property damages done by the vandals. What a terrible thing some people did in protesting for what they thought they believed in. It’s almost as bad as shooting an abortion doctor for Jesus, while he’s ushering at a church. No, not really.
But as supposedly liberal groups from the Weather Underground to Earth Liberation Front have had to admit: violence in protests damages more than the buildings razed or even the lives lost: it discredits the whole idea of a movement, the good the movement already had made or may have done, and all the good work of everyone else who is also working on that cause. Your group is now the demon whether the rest of you earned it or not.
Well, it’s for certain your opposition will attempt to use it that way.
Ending the Vietnam War was in itself not a bad idea, but the violence of some of the protests against it turned the judgment of American History against those whom the events of history have proven right. But if you talk to Mr. and Mrs. America, those rotten dirty hippies were all worthless no-good-nicks who hated America.
History has again and again Americans were right to complain about some of the things our governments have done. It is not un-American to note that our country has often suffered through and had to work against the some type American governmental misbehavior and those who work to condemn the tyranny get demonized by government and the press as a rabble of no consequence.
In the Spanish-American War: business sentiment called for a war, the press whipped one up and we went on to slaughter Filipinos in the name of democracy far worse than their Spanish colonial masters had. Meanwhile US government contractors unscrupulous business dealing outfitting the war effort led to ten times as many GIs dying from food poisoning due to tins of tainted beef than those that died by a Spanish bullet.
In World War One, Wilson campaigns as a pacifist to get re-elected in 1916, then does an about-face and throws us into a war where huge numbers of righteously indignant Americans openly resisted the draft, so Wilson made it illegal to speak against the war in any way, which led to outrageous civil liberties oppressions. Afterwards it was clear bankers and weapons manufacturers had trumped up the war for their own profits. After wards people looked back on this folly and thanked their preferred deity we humans could learn from such mistakes.
And that’s just two of the wars we said we’d learn from.
Yet when Iraq comes along the government with the aid of the press gin up some fake story about weapons of mass deception, demonize Saddam enough to where Americans want to wipe the whole of Iraq off the map, we jump on the bandwagon just like 1890s rubes. Then when the whole thing fizzles as it was bound to, we quibble over which act the underlings did that qualifies as torture and leave the policy makers alone when they were the ones who made decisions to destroy the lives of millions then consciously sold those decisions to the American public based on lies. Meanwhile government contractors make billions while building showers so shoddy they electrocute our soldiers. We wind up killing Iraqis at a pace far greater than Saddam and his sons ever managed in their finest rape rooms.
Nowadays, climate change, fiscal regulation, peace in the Middle East and addressing religious violence are all worthy causes and most Americans would in themselves support some interpretations of these issues. But now due to the violence in the Pittsburgh streets so reminiscent of 60s era mayhem, each of those issues now will to some seem unjustly radicalized, suspect, un-American. And that is a mistake on our parts, both our people and our press.
Meanwhile Wall Street is clamoring with excitement over their good news: strong 3rd quarter earnings will once again lead to outrageous executive bonuses for Wall Street, even though their business practices first impoverished the nation. Even though they enjoys their current fortune due to being propped up by the rest of us. So they are expected to spend as much as half of their earnings on compensations and bonuses. This year, Goldman-Sachs alone will have its profit measured in hundreds of billions. And where did they get that money? From the people they foreclosed the homes of.
And this doesn’t even address the issues of climate change and ocean acidification. This list doesn’t address the efforts of protest groups in Pittsburgh to call attention to China’s civil rights abuses. You remember those? Tibet Conquest, Tiananmen Square, Prisoner organ harvesting, Falun Gong religious persecutions? Internet Censorship and governmental spying? The same old stuff we always said we hated. Remember how as children we were taught to always hate the Chinese governments for their inhumanity to their own citizens?
Until those governments became our favored trading partners and bankers. Now the American governments turn a blind eye. It’s supposedly better for American business.
These concerns were just a fraction of the driving issues that pulled tens of thousands to Pittsburgh last week. All of them now with their reputations tarnished due to the violence of a handful of hateful zealots. As a liberal I must tell my readership how sorry I am to see such behavior in my name and in the name of causes I believe in.
I cannot imagine how shamed some of you must feel following the Sept. 12th rally, which came off like a rightwing hate fest. Surely those folks shown in so many photos with the racist treasonous signs were a miniscule minority among the 50,000-70,000 loyal American activists who converged on Washington to make their love of country known.
Well, I guess it must be hard to defend some of those images your movement is now associated with. I know how it goes. With some behaviors there are no easy answers.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Current Comedy: 9/21/09: Peace Will Soon Be At Hand

Somebody notify Glen Beck. As he could have predicted, with more and more protesters taking to the streets, the powers-that-be have started their crack down. In the latest outrage, two separate grassroots protest groups are suing over harassments and defamations. These loyal Americans had taken to the streets to bravely and loudly advance their vision of a viable political agenda for our times, only to be mocked by the media and harassed by the man.
Same joke as last week, I am NOT talking about the lynch mob-like crowd scene on the National Mall that was literally choreographed by and for Fox “News” last week on Sept. 12, but the current, equally valid, environmental protesters being pre-harassed by the Pittsburgh PD in advance of this Thursday’s G20 Summit.
Quick reminder: This week economically devastated working class Pittsburgh hosts this year’s annual “G20 Summit.” Leaders of the world will dine on fine foods, couch their agendas in terms that sound magnanimous, size up the new American president, and, if possible, discern the best way to be on America’s best side. Let’s face it, even though China and India are doing blockbuster business in the way of catching up, the US is still the driving economy of the planet. For now.
The G20 Summit is the US’s turn to hang with the best of the rest. The G20 are the countries with the 19 biggest economies in the world plus the European Union en bloc. Long ago and far away, the group used to be a much more exclusive “G6,” also the even luckier sounding “G7,”and, after some entourage adjustment, the more sporty “G8.” Full disclosure: in an earlier feverish bid for inclusiveness back in ’99 they shot all the way up to the sonorous “The G33,” but backed off down to awkward sounding “G22,” which didn’t quite have the ring to it, so two more nations were jettisoned, and there you have it.
Working together, these nations’ economies control about 85% of all the money in the entire world. And their meetings have long attracted world class protests, but not in Rustbelt Pittsburgh, thus the crackdown. Racist posturing, propagandist pandering and mounds of trash on the National Mall to denigrate the president in as vulgar terms as possible = good clean fun for loyal Americans. Groups of environmentalist protesters staging street theater to try to draw attention to the catastrophe unfolding as we ignore Global Warming = clearly anti-American who thus need to be surveilled, and have their vans unlawfully searched and seized.
A lot of environmentalists hope to set the stage at the Summit for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. It’ll be the first time in a long time that the rest of the world could possibly look to an American president in hopes of leadership in dealing with the pollutions that are poisoning the planet. Previously the Bush presidency played the bad boy and had scorned calls for stricter regulations on carbon emissions. At one point, in typical Bush fashion, he even mocked the assembled body and laughingly called himself, “the world’s polluter.”
Much of the world is wondering, with the rightwing holding Obama to the ropes, will there be hope for any environmental progress? The cultural warfare we’re engaged in as a nation over health care is just the warm-up for the battle we’ll see the Right put up when America tries to adjust our self-destructive addiction to pollution. Already the rightwing/Big Oil cabals are engineering the next set of protests Tea Party type Americans will be suckered into. Already they are working to challenge the president in so many ways that he can’t accomplish much beyond working to defend himself. As Yogi Berra once said, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Just as had happened in 1993 when Clinton came to power, like they had successfully done to Carter over a decade earlier, the right wing organized an all-out assault on the democratic president’s agenda in health care and energy. In Clinton’s case the onslaught took down both his plans for universal health care and energy consumption tax to regulate us off of fossil fuels.
The rest of the world has been waiting for us to join in the effort to keep the planet from choking itself to death. But they could be waiting a long time more if the Right has anything to do with it and it looks like they do. Just as the rest of the civilized world realized long ago that, as Tory MP Tony Benn so delightfully phrased in the Michael Moore movie, Sicko, “If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.” It’s such a basic principle of human, one could even say Christian dignity, and still, look how not-far health care reform has gotten since the Right kicked up the noise machine. Here’s what’s next.
Oil corporations have already practiced staging Astroturf fake energy protests, in Houston no less, where oil company workers were shipped in for the protests, paid their company wages for being there and actual protesting citizens were kept out; and then the event was billed as a spontaneous citizens’ uprising at the American Petroleum Institute's Energy Citizen event.
And as phony as that is, I just imagine Glen Beck will soon be leading the charge for a December 7th Club or something like that to ‘drop the bomb’ on Obama’s energy policies. And the rest of the world will keep watching while America continues to over-pollute, over-consume, underfund our education, over-fill our prisons, over-export war and weapons, undercut our own health care and overly congratulate ourselves for our freedom.
Meanwhile, while we weren’t looking, we’re losing another war. As of Monday, Sept. 21, 2009, TV news anchors and commentators talk about Afghanistan as if America’s chances are already over. The Taliban have virtually regained control of the country and if we want the control back, it’s going to take four times the manpower and four decades to do it. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, had heartily concurred in the call for more troops. You remember Karzai, the former Unocal employee we installed in power within months of Sept. 11th 2001? The guy who recently claimed a reelection victory in an election widely recalled as a fraud. That Karzai. Well, Karzai still has that all that Unocal pipeline project to protect; so you can bet when it comes to getting an army to fight off Taliban, he would much rather borrow ours than create his own.
Currently the best estimates say that if we had the political will to send in 600,000 troops and to have generations of them stay there for 40, count ‘em, 40 years, then we might make some headway. Sounds like a mighty big amount of political will. But these days, most Americans barely have the political will to get out of bed in the morning, unless, of course, they’re being fueled on hatred of all things Obama. So, here’s the silver lining in all this:
That Afghanistan War is likely to go down the tubes too, once the Right Realize they can hate him for that as well. Iraq was Bush’s war to lose, and lose it he did, but Obama is likely to have Afghanistan taken away from him. When right-wingers can claim to be patriotic by calling for an end to “the Awful President’s Illegal War,” then you’ll know peace will soon be at hand.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Current Comedy 9/14/09: In Praise of Joe Wilson

Suddenly the name Joe Wilson is back in the news and lots of liberals are trashing it. I have to break from the pack on this one and note that Joe Wilson was a patriot who stood up for his country and did what had to be done in the time when such a thing was a lot to ask of a guy. Joe Wilson stood bravely even when he was humiliated by the president and his goons and the lives of his family were threatened. I mean, I feel the criminality of Joe Wilson’s treatment at the hands of the administration rises to the level of impeachable offense.
Oh yeah, I wasn’t talking about the current goof, South Carolina Republican, Addison Graves “Joe” Wilson. The latest in the long line of GOP buffoons to attempt to make their name by calling the president names? No way! Addison Graves Wilson is as much a “Joe Wilson” as Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher was a plumber. I was talking about an actual American hero. Let’s face it, the GOP section’s audience reactions to Obama’s big Health Care Speech Wednesday were anything but heroic. If that was the crowd representing me, I’d hide. No wonder they keep those people in the back row. You saw the kind of behavior that gives neighborhoods a bad name.
The current politician in the news, the latest “brave patriot Republican” to do the brave patriot thing--of hurling insults from afar while in a pack of sullen buddies acting tough in the balcony--is not the kind of Joe Wilson I think we should remember. Joe Wilson is a cool name. It shouldn’t be squandered on jerks in the peanut gallery. Whether you agree that the president lied in saying that government money would pay for immigrant healthcare, or should I say continue to pay for government health care, is beside the point.
But here’s the point as to Wilson’s lie remark: Right now if a person goes into an emergency room and needs care they get it. Just to double check, do you, dear readers, prefer hospitals to deny folks service in the emergency rooms?
Think about it.
If the answer is “no,” you are not the kind of goon who would leave the sick and wounded to die in the streets. Then you have to see that currently, “yes,” the desperately poor and sick get their emergency room treatments as a government treat, citizenship or no. Again the question: leave the sick and dying to rot on street corners because of immigration paperwork?
Do we really want hospitals denying folks service and leaving them to die on the sidewalks. Imagine the fumigation bill that entails to keep downtown areas tourist friendly. If you’re down for that sort of thing, then the rest of America, the majority of Americans btw, though not the majority of Americans shown on TV these days, the majority is right to work against you. But to Wilson’s point: Are there provisions in the health care bills Obama was discussing that set up new protocols for paying for undocumented immigrants? No.
And the fellow, I shan’t call ‘gentleman,’ from South Carolina knew that. Like a herd of jocks over in the corner misbehaving at a school assembly, the Republican supposed leadership paced, taunted, and puffed themselves up, until somebody went too far. And, just like they say, everybody thinks it’s funny until someone gets caught. And now it’s freaking hilarious, right?
Again think of the kind of person who looks up to such behavior. If you’re argument’s good, you don’t have to be a jerk to make it. If you’re wrong being a jerk about it just proves it. Is that the kind of person you’d look up to: the rude jock telling fart jokes while the principal was talking about the cancer fund? It’s not the kind of image I’d want representing me.
Now the real Joe Wilson was very much not a jerk when he told his president off. Of course, back then the president was Bush, it was 2002, and he was illegally assembling fake evidence to prosecute a case for an unnecessary and illegal war. Award winning diplomat, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, was the “go to guy” on Africa, having served under numerous presidents in African postings going back to the mid 70s. When the Bush propaganda machine was ginning up the war on Iraq, Wilson was sent to verify what was already widely considered as a false accusation that Iraq was buying uranium ore from Niger, the famous false “African Yellowcake” story, the press let us ignore.
At first Wilson followed protocol and reported that the story was false through proper channels. By the way at the time, that was what the CIA was saying about Iraq and nuclear weapons as well. But some speech writer somewhere was in love with the phrase, “the smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud;” so Bush goes ahead and makes the assertion anyway with his famous “16 words” from another presidential speech delivered to the joint Houses of Congress.
After the speech and after Bush got to start his war, you know the one we’re still fighting, the real Joe Wilson also called his president a liar for all the world to see. It wasn’t just a cheap catcall from the bleacher seats either. In fact he didn’t even use the word “liar” anywhere in the text of his piece. Instead Joe Wilson proved it. In a thoroughly documented article published in the July 3, 2003 edition of the New York Times, Joe Wilson published a piece called, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa” demonstrating that the Bush admin knew better when they claimed Hussein was pursuing, not even having, merely pursuing, nuclear weapons. Now in this case, since the president knew something wasn’t true and said it anyway, that makes him a … well, you get the point.
In response back then, a GOP admin to a Dem troublemaker, staffers for the vice president’s office wound up taking the fall for leaking to the press that Wilson’s wife was a CIA covert agent, one with a thoroughly blown cover these days. Though the trail led straight to Cheney’s desk, henchman, Scooter Libby, eventually stood trial and was found guilty of obstruction of justice. As many have noted, exposing the identity of a secret agent in a time of war is the kind of thing folks have faced firing squads for, Bush instead issued a partial pardon.
So we have one situation where a certain Joe Wilson, a fierce supporter of Strom Thurmond and member of a Confederate loyalist group that seeks to justify slavery, I mean, the kind of guy who makes such an ass of himself that the entire GOP ought to swap the Dems for the donkey logo, who calls out “You Lie!” when he’s lying himself. And in the other situation we have a man with a lifetime of distinguished diplomatic service (winner of three different State Department Distinguished Service Awards), who researches the issue thoroughly, risks his career and, ultimately his wife’s life, to speak out at a major untruth, not a quibbling misrepresentation.
I think it’s clear which Wilson deserves to be thought of as a regular Joe.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Current Comedy, 9/9/09: Have to Be Upside Down

Have you heard the one about how now resigned environmentalist Van Jones told Obama he had to move the dreaded “Welcome Back to School” speech from the original Wed. Sept. 9th date, because of concerns about the environmental impact of the massive cleaning bills necessary to mop up after all those evangelicals crap a brick sweating out the Rapture because the Devil himself will be speaking directly to their children on 9/9/9, WHICH upside down is 666, or the mark of the beast, which proves Obama is the anti-Christ just like they’d been warning us about? And who was going to take care of their pets when they were gone?
Yeah, I didn’t think it was funny either.
But at least one atheist group did, as Tara Lohan reported 9/02/09 on Alternet.org, an organization calling itself Earthbound Pets has offered to take care of Raptured Christians’ pets if the second coming came to past. With this being the day that so many the hard core Evangelical Christians have been looking forward to, to have their literally “holier-than the-rest of our” behinds raptured on out of here up to heaven to sit among the chosen 144,000 who sit on the right hand of God and get to hang with the J-man himself while the whole world roils in the torments brought by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and so on.
Insignificant, comic, glorious or absolutely terrifying depending on where you stand in the sliding scale from seriously Christian to seriously non-Christian, today, 9/09/09 is one of the most horrifying days for some true believers, certainly the worst since 6/06/06, when the gods unleashed that horror of horrors, the remake of The Omen and it was so scary it was in fact a bomb.
I’m not surprised if you haven’t kept up on the latest Revelationist lore; but some people do. Some folks take this more seriously than the Super Bowl and are expecting a hell of a light show. Maybe you personally are not a Revelationist, but you shouldn’t ignore the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world are living their lives expecting that the Beast, the anti-Christ and the Whore of Babylon are soon to be their future dominatrix. Talk about making it hurt so good.
So, if you are not one of the true believers who thinks that today is the day that Obama is going to detonate the world and your little pumpkin patch is among the 144,000 most earnest, then joke lightly on your Christian brethren today, my fellow Americans, you will have no idea of the terror some of our fellow citizens might be feeling all day today. There are so many things to fear.
Like the number 144,000, a darn small eye of a needle to shove a rich man through. Once upon a time, i.e. 1st century AD Judea, 144,000 of the most devout Christians was somewhat selective but a fairly encompassing number of the number of potentially anointed. You could probably even get away with being somewhat of a slack-tivist martyr and still find a ticket in coach. Nowadays, there are something like two point two billion folks around the world who claim to be Christians all competing for a berth in steerage when the Rapture Express lifts off. The math breaks down to only one out of every 15,277.8 Christians will get a golden ticket. It’s enough to have kept the fans of LaHaye and Jenkins up all night planning how to decorate their little piece of heaven when their kingdom comes. And, apparently wondering who will take care of their pets.
Some people will say, ‘why do I pick on these poor people, just trying to practice their religion? Why make it about religion?’ My answer is, of course, I never would want to tease about somebody’s religion. Except, of course, when that religion wants me dead.
But like other vengeful gods throughout history, the Christian god has been used to brutalize the multitudes and the god of Revelations intends to throw a whole bunch of us into a lake of fire. This is how he will show his brotherly love for mankind. Percentage wise, none of us have more than a .0000020571% chance of making it to heaven. That’s some pretty slim odds even for Vegas casinos, even when the fix is in. Sounds like the kind of guy our US government leaders should work against if they were indeed looking out for the people. But sad to say that is rarely the case.
Every since the founding deists created the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; some Christians have been working on tweaking the rules so they can gain more power. It must be the ones unfamiliar with the passage about the meek inheriting the earth.
In recent history, many of our American Christian religious and political leaders have been openly Revelationist, believing that god’s will is that they should do all in their power to bring about the biblical Armageddon. Two of the most notable would be Billy Graham and his acolyte George Bush. In comparison to destroying the entire planet for the sake of a population the size of Gilbert (though perhaps with better malls), it makes Jeremiah Wright’s little “Goddamn America” dance seem downright silly.
Unless of course you believe you are one of the chosen, one of the very, very few to be chosen. If you are one of those elite then everyone else is expendable, right? In America alone that’s something like three hundred million eight hundred and fifty-six thousands Americans killed, making their fantasized for 9/09/09 something like 102,285.333 times worse than the real world 9/11. So many terrifying thoughts shredding the nerves of poor Christians as they try making their way through 9/09/09 today, which is indeed 666 … if your sense of the whole world is upside down. Like:
What if they’re the ones driving when the Rapture hits and their cars wreck and kill others or even their family. Can lawyers get a hold of the area code for heaven? What if you get Raptured, but your honey does not? Can you borrow one of a Moslem martyrs’ forty-nine virgins? What if you get to heaven and the only other family member that gets there is that one uncle you always hated and he wants to pal around? What if the rest of your family goes, or that annoyingly overfriendly Buddhist down the street is actually the good soul that gets Raptured and it turns out you weren’t nearly as holy as you thought?
And don’t forget the ever pressing issues of whose going to feed Fido and clean the cat box?
But most of all the question that will torment some Christians today is the thought that has terrified Christians for Millennia: what if the whole thing’s just wrong and you and all you devout ancestors have been duped and used as tools? As another foretold date comes (and hopefully) goes unfulfilled, many Christians may have their entire worldview shaken today and have to face up to a different Revelation: the Copernican one—that they and their god are not the center of the universe.
Which makes them only about five hundred years behind the times.
Let’s pray they hurry and catch up.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Current Comedy, 9/2/09: Preaching to the Choir part 3: The Right Jeremiah

Right away people are going to ask about this title. ‘What is he trying to say?’ they’ll say. ‘Is that a reference to controversial minister, Jeremiah Wright, and if so, what does that have to do with the long delayed third part of a purported trilogy about our congressman’s townhall meeting back on the 22nd?’ That sort of thing.
Some might try to pass it off as a reference to the biblical preachers of old who preached fire and brimstone and a message of retribution for the people who dwell in iniquity, but the structure is far too arch for it to not be about Wright, right?
You remember Jeremiah Wright? The hard preaching Chicago minister who sermonized to Barack Obama for 20 years before being dropped like a flaming spud-nick back in March of ’08, when then-candidate Obama started to take some heat for the texts of Wright’s sermons. You surely remember the whole “Goddamn America” thing, what fun it was watching that traitor get fried, huh? What does that have to do with little protester me, attempting to call Trent Franks to the carpet in the middle of 900 rabid right-wingers?
When last we traced the exploits of our protagonist, it was August 22nd of 2009, over a year removed, and at a Kingman, AZ church, not Chicago. And furthermore, Trent Franks was the speaker and there was no Wright in sight.
So, as I was saying, I asked my question, “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?”
And Trent Franks flinched. Not much, not for long. The guy’s been in public office somewhere or another since, you guessed it, 1984. He’s dealt with dissidents before. He knows how to channel the energy in a room. Before his adoring rightwing audience, he sliced me and diced me, duly thrashing me for my serial transgressing on the right wing’s recent record while his fans cheered on.
Just as my braying had spooked the herd of elephants in the room, his soothing voice reassured the converted that the heretic was of no consequence. It was like a scene from the WWF, as Jesse Ventura explained in Alex Jones’ “The Obama Deception,” a political bit of fakery meant to move the masses, but after the cameras are off the supposed opponents buddy up and laugh at the stagecraft. Silly little audience heckler gets trounced by the circus strongman, the crowd goes wild! In fact, it worked so well for Franks; I could have been a plant, a straw man for the hero to pillory so the audience can glory in their righteous indignation.
But, there was a difference between the scene we played out in public and what he told me in private afterwards. Trent Franks’ official response to me as duly reported by Suzanne Adams of the Kingman Daily Miner was,
“Bush ‘would be pretty surprised to hear that I was supporting his administration,’ Franks said. He had supported an alternative to Bush during the election. And the people that made fun of Bush and his focus on nuclear weapons may one day wish he was back, Franks said. ‘There was a lot that I didn't agree with him about, but he did keep us safe. As far as the status quo, I think we should be moving toward a more freedom-oriented system and I think that's what our healthcare bill will do.’"
Like various remarks Franks made throughout the course of his two and a half hour speaking engagement, Franks’ reply to me, while pristine on the surface, was full of inaccuracies and intentional distortions, contradictions so blatant that they showed themselves within the context of that single afternoon’s talk. For the two simplest examples: Franks attempted to distance himself from Bush in that opening line of the quote, but elsewhere in the course of the afternoon, he spoke long and waxed eloquent about his “good friend George Bush,” and “flying on Air Force One with George Bush,” etc. with each variation on the truth gauged towards maximum audience effect, not absolute veracity.
Then there’s the scene in July 2008 at the Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Imperial Presidency” dubbed the “non-impeachment impeachment hearings” led by Dennis Kucinich. Franks had loudly been part of the Bush cover team in the impeachment hearings, making impassioned speeches about the injustice of besmirching a glorious man like George Bush by merely suggesting he ever even erred. Here is an actual quote from my coverage of the hearing for OpEdNews: “somehow we're going after this president you has done everything in his power to protect us.”
Later on “Franks contended that though the president has only has a 30% approval rating Congress' approval rating is in single digits due largely to its despicable hounding of the poor president. Coincidentally later that same day MSNBC showed the latest poll which had the numbers at Bush 23%, Congress 15%.” He also claimed any who questioned Bush should “be ashamed” and any accusations of Bush wrongdoings were “fairytales.”
Further, a scan of Franks’ complete voting record, again courtesy of Vote Smart.org, shows Franks’ allegiance to the party line, which by definition was explicitly the Bush agenda for the last 8 years. So whatever “distance” Franks wants to feign, it wasn’t significantly shown in his actions as a legislator either.
As for “keeping us safe,” Bush and his policies have probably done more to enflame Moslem extremist ire than any one else since Popes stopped holding crusades and presidents took over the funding; as Erik Prince of Black Water recently acknowledged. The fact that the whole world knows the Iraq War was based on a lie and that America still refuses to do little more than grudgingly ignore it is the kind of genuine reason people in one country come to hate the people of another country. Creating millions of new enemies for us is not my preferred method for promoting the American public’s safety.
It was through Bush and the Republicans’ efforts that de-regulations of the housing markets coincided with the sub-prime lending that set up the housing bubble. Then, a change in policy led to the stampede that brought the market contraction to a crisis. Then while millions of Americans roiled in the foreclosure waves and job losses Bush offices again with Repub support organized the trillion dollar bailouts which give public money to the rich and debt to the poor in addition to their foreclosed homes. You remember the bailout? The one we now condemn Obama for?
And don’t forget Bush once proudly laughed as he called himself “the world’s biggest polluter” at an international conference. His multitudinous efforts on repealing the environment progress of previous presidents through the potentially impeachable practice of signing statements was monumental enough by itself but that amounts to only a fraction of the decimations promoted by the Bush administration with Franks adamant approval. The changes in policy direction were widespread and have already caused irreparable harm. And not just some namby-pamby environmental impact like the extinction of some silly little spotted wombat living on some tiny river valley nobody cares about.
Based on policies his office pushed, engineers stalled and underfunded levy maintenance in New Orleans, then stalled and underfunded the initial rescue effort. And in the aftermath, Bushco quietly sanctioned the widespread land grab of poor people’s property in the name of business investments, leading to widespread homelessness and misery.
All of which reads like the exact opposite of keeping America out of harm’s way.
But these were not the facts Franks’ audience wanted to be confronted with. The message they were wanting to have reinforced was god, country, guns and tax cuts and that was the raw meat Trent Franks was serving up. And Kingman ate it up. For better or worse, Trent Franks is the icon of what the Republicans of western Arizona want to see as their noble world vision.
So, it was small surprise Frank’s supporters gave him one of his biggest standing ovations following his reply to me. While Dem congressmen around the country were hashing their way through hostile town hall moshpits, Franks was preaching to the choir, greeted like the feature speaker at a church revival, which in fact is what he was.
The minister who introduced Franks keenly, perhaps intentionally explained that when he recounted their numerous experiences together, both social and religious. Folks dressed up in their Sunday best with lots of red, white and blue. The stage craft of the event made it clear: It was essentially a Saturday go-to-meeting service. Franks was one of the brethren, a returning hero for the church of the Republican Religious Right. Or at least the way it looks from Kingman, AZ.
What Franks said to me were the lines people needed to hear to be reaffirmed in their belief system. Franks’ speeches about the glories of the Republican positions on healthcare, immigration, the war on terror and the economy, didn’t have to be based on reality. They just had to satisfy the moment till the talk could get back to what the audience wanted to hear about: god, country, guns and tax cuts and oh yes, how we’re number one and all that stuff.
Even if it’s not true, it’s the only message some conservatives want said. And it is not that they just don’t want to hear it, they don’t even want it said. As if to really love a country, one must deny its flaws at all costs. Germany had had a lot of deniers at one point and look how far a government can stray if people are expected to ignore and deny misdeeds. It’s certainly not an attitude I would take with my children, to deny their misbehavior, they’d never correct it. It’s been proven again and again it is not a safe one to take with our leaders either.
But the Republican Religious Right of America have a lot of denying to do these days and are not ready to be held accountable for the indignities and inhumanities their reign has wrought. Like the recently reported on Republican mother who is outraged that the president might want to speak directly to the children of our country with his Tuesday Sept. 8 speech, afraid her child might hear that America is imperfect because the president wants to get kids believing we need to work to fix it.
This is the kind of willful, insistent angry ignorance that filled the halls of a church that claimed to proclaim love and joy of our great and varied country, yet told a woman who dared admit she was a democrat that she needed to leave, she wasn’t welcome to see her own congressman because she was a commie, etc. This is a true story of someone else whose willful public humiliation didn’t quite make it into the news. And, like me, she made a point of recording it for the good people of Mohave County to share.
Bullhead City blogger Kim Lawrence recounted her catalyzing experience in her account of the event posted on “Activist in Training” (http://frominsidethesnakepit.blogspot.com/ ): “I still don't understand what people were trying to prove carrying guns into a church, but while I felt somewhat nervous, I wasn't afraid...yet. My friend and I sat down and I was immediately called out for being a Democrat. I was called evil, a socialist and a communist, then asked to leave. All this coming from a well dressed older gentleman who looked like he could have been very nice. I stayed my ground, stating I am an American citizen and had a right to be there.
“I am also appalled at the out right lies regarding our President and how Rep. Franks not only allowed it but encouraged it. He seemed smugly pleased with the anger and hate. Shame on you!! And in a House of God no less!! … Hatred toward your fellow human beings should never be condoned.

“It was a frightening ordeal and not necessarily from the standpoint of being a liberal in a hall of extreme right wingers, but more from the standpoint of an American seeing such outright hatred. I understand anger. Many are angry at rising costs, that their man didn't win the Presidency, and many don't agree with liberal politics, but the blind, raw hate that has come to surface and enticed by so called leaders like Franks is the most disturbing thing I think I've come across.”
This was the kind of crowd who scared also a man in attendance because as the event proceeded he became physically afraid he’d be called out as a non-believer and the crowd would turn against him and the guy was once a wrestling coach. This is the kind of crowd that wants a man like Trent Franks to tell them they are the good guys even as they do things their bibles tell them are bad: acting in hate, supporting unjust wars, ignoring the needs of the sick and the poor.
And Trent Franks is the right Jeremiah to preach that such acts are righteousness and it’s the wicked in the society that are to be condemned for its sufferings: the immigrants, the foreigners, the poor. Trent Franks is as anti- an anti- liberal as could be concocted in a Heritage Foundation think tank if they had a genetic lab. In fact, if you took an alphabetical laundry list of liberal stances on issues from abortion to women’s equality, he’s been against it. For just one example, he is so determinedly against legislation aimed to improve women’s equality that he’s figured out a way to vote against bills to help women end wage discrimination five different times, under five different names. That’s dedicated.
So after his momentary flinch, that brief shining instant of his tape loop reloading, Franks made the right move to cast me, the designated non-believer, to the flaming pit while the multitude cheered and then continued to entertain “birther” questions long after even the converted had lost patience with it. Why? To focus the hatred of the masses against the president. In this, Franks was little different from Tempe’s Steve Anderson, the stridently Right AZ minister who now has twice called for the president’s death from the pulpit. If that’s not the equivalent of “Goddamn America,” then I’m unsure what qualifies.
But, here’s the thing that the righteous of Kingman missed, after the crowds had left and the autograph lines formed. Yep, I got Trent Franks’ autograph, even a couple of photographs of us mugging for the camera and talked with both him and his staff separately, cordially, and extensively. I’ve got this one photograph showing us smiling as he told me how much alike we were and how much we probably agree on.
Just like Jesse Ventura noted in the “Obama Deception,” the scene was little more than stagecraft meant to sway the masses. Franks had played me like a ricochet and won the moment. But if Jeremiah Wright had been wrong for using the church to condemn our country’s leaders, then Trent Franks is the Right’s right Jeremiah.
And if Trent Franks is what passes for what is right these days, I am proud so many call me wrong.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona