November 19, 2009
When CNN forked over whatever amount they had to in order to get Lou Dobbs off the air, one could imagine that Dobbs was sufficiently chastened for his Birther/Mexican-hate ideologies. That would be far from the truth, however, as Dobbs is already making it clear that he should be the one making policy, not discussing it.
“I have come to no conclusions and no decisions,” said Dobbs. “Do I seek to have some influence on public policy? Absolutely. Do I seek to represent and champion the middle class in this country and those who aspire to it? Absolutely. And I will.”
It will be interesting to see if Dobbs does make a run. The American mainstream media has made an irretrievable turn over the past decade or two, as “Journalism” has been redefined. Today, the general public could name any number of “Journalist-Entertainers,” (or the catchier “Journotainers”) from Dobbs to Glenn Beck to Anderson Cooper to Rush Limbaugh and so on. But it’s highly unlikely that more than a minuscule percentage could name one actual reporter at the New York Times.
With this shift, Journotainers have noticeably reached the point where they now believe that their often poorly thought-out commentary has political gravitas and historical importance. Dobbs could very likely be the first journotainer of this era to attempt to make the switch from preacher of ideology to political campaigner. He has the name, face value and hubris to believe he is up for any job, even the Presidency.
Of course, he isn’t. The guy at the bar telling you that Obama’s a secret Muslim is just as qualified for higher office as Dobbs. Being near politicians does not make one a politician, and it’s difficult to envision Dobbs doing much more than making some noise before falling in a primary, or being a distant third as a third-party spoiler.
But that shouldn’t stop Dobbs. Look for him to be a candidate for office in 2010 in New Jersey.
“Right now I feel exhilaration at the wide range of choices before me as to what I do next,” Dobbs said.
The pure narcissism that drives Journotainers means that it’s highly unlikely that Dobbs will be the only one to make the attempt. Journotainers from Jake Tapper on one end of the scale to Beck on the other and all in between will be emboldened by any success that Dobbs has, and see themselves as the better choice.
Because that’s where American journalism is today. Reporting on stories or breaking them is considered below the celebrity journalists that rule the MSM landscape. Because for today’s journotainers, simply cozying up to and making concessions to power is very likely nowhere near good enough. After all, what’s the use of a pulpit if you don’t have power?
November 16, 2009
As someone who has spent a great deal of time perusing the American political landscape, I can say that my political prognostication skills have improved likewise. And I can say with complete certainty that I can clearly see the next move the Democratic Party will be making.
You see, after the recent elections that saw Democrats take a horrifying defeat by only gaining two seats in the House of Representatives, many Dem factions have already started practicing making their best mealy-mouthed faces in bathroom mirrors. With Health-care reform, Afghanistan, unemployment and other things on the table, this is a time when historic actions are demanded. And if there’s one thing Democrats don’t do much of these days, is historic actions.
No, the time is to flee. There are the 2010 elections of being the party that tried to solve things never solved anything at the ballot box. And with President Barack Obama’s popularity numbers ominously falling and rising willy-nilly (but generally within the polls’ percentage for error considerations), it’s time to find respite in rhetoric rather than reform.
On this, the Democrats will be using a popular Republican tactic – always vote against the Democrats.
You see, Republicans have long been students of percentages. And not silly percentages about how the public overwhelmingly desires government-run health care. But real numbers. Like the fact that there’s technically a 94 percent chance they’ll get re-elected. Right off the bat, they have a big ace-in-the-hole long term and the freedom to spend their time reacting to daily popularity polls.
One wouldn’t imagine that – strong appearances to the contrary aside – a President with an approval rating of 56 percent would worry much if that number dropped to, say, 55 percent. Over at the GOP, it’s a commencement of synchronized circle-jerk of hyperbole. And they’ve done it for so long, every player knows their part.
Drudge gets a tip from Zogby about a 1 percent drop in Obama’s popularity. Drudge runs in under the banner-long headline of “The Obama Dream is Over!” (A quote he got from an “unnamed political campaign advisor.”) Then, simultaneously, 14 billion conservative bloggers post various themes on it, 38 percent of them with a theme of “America finally noticing Obama’s a Black guy.”
From there, every elected Republican spends the day answering every question with the Drudge-created quote about Obama, and how obviously America approves of a his work stalling or filibustering everything that comes to his desk. Democrats then spend the day answering questions from reporters like “Some are saying the Obama Dream is over, is it?”
Texas is a stunning example of how well Republicans band together under the banner of “No!!” In the House vote on the health-care reform bill, every Republican from Texas in the House stood up and said “No!!”
And here’s the thing, I’d have a better chance of winning a Nobel Peace Prize than of most getting the chance of getting decent health-care insurance in Texas. OK, bad example. I’d have a better chance of receiving a Nobel Prize for Physics than of most receiving the chance of getting decent health-care insurance in Texas. You see where I’m going with this.
But that’s one stubborn stand for ideology – regardless of whether that ideology changes the moment Rush Limbaugh says so. Mostly, though, it’s a stand handed down by the Party Elders (such as Limbaugh). If something would represent a Democratic victory, it must be stopped, at all costs. And that decree is followed with little or Cao exception.
Basically, if you’re representing a state where 25 percent of the population is without health insurance, you vote yes on whichever reform plan has the best shot of passing. And you do that if the only thing you get out if it is some syringes and band-aids. To vote otherwise is a complete dereliction of duty.
But it’s a strategy. And removing all human emotion and compassion from the equation, it’s a stunningly powerful tactic. Democrats can never really commit to the overall evilness of shoving it right down voters’ throats, which really makes it all that much worse. While Democrats hold a knife in one hand, they hold a lollipop in the other while apologizing profusely. Republicans have knives in both hands and tell everyone listening that it was the damned liberals that brought them to this.
This is the plan many Democrats will go, however. With Village People like David Broder and Peggy Noonan shrieking for a liberal shift to the right like teenaged Jonas Brothers fans, many Democrats will desperately fight for the mythical middle-of-the-roaders – the same ones who said they were undecided the night before the Obama-John McCain Presidential election. And Democrats will court that vote by voting against Democrats.
It’s going to happen. It’s not like I’m Kreskin, here. So if it’s going to happen anyway, why not make it look like a plan?
November 4, 2009
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That the United States of America was founded as a great experiment in freedom has always been somewhat of an unintended practical joke. The great freedoms espoused in such documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights have always had the world’s attention. But these freedoms Americans so revere have been countered by the importance of defining which Americans were deserve such freedoms. It has always been so.
While insinuating that the Founding Fathers were pulling a practical joke is a polemic sentiment, how else can one interpret any document that begins with “all men are created equal” and then immediately follow it with a definition of slaves as 60 percent of a person?
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
As English abolitionist Thomas Day wrote in a 1776 letter: “If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature”, “it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.”
Such has always been the paradox of the United States. While words such as “Freedom” and “Liberty” are shouted with such jingoistic and patriotic glee, these freedoms have always been the sole property of the majority. It has always been so, and millions of Americans from every era have fought hard to ensure that these freedoms only apply to “Real Americans.”
Yesterday in Maine, we saw the majority gain its latest victory in its perpetual battle to keep the minority beneath them, as voters in Maine overturned the state’s Gay Marriage law. For now, the people have spoken, and their words are as old as the Union itself – Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, provided the majority doesn’t have to share these rights with any minorities that are morally unacceptable, be they slaves or gays.
Because while America has always been a nation that preaches freedom, the preaching of religious fundamentalists has always had a deciding vote in who deserves these freedoms. And with Proposition 8 in California and yesterday’s vote in Maine, these fundamentalists have made it clear with their words and dollars – the LGBT Community is not worthy of having the same rights as others.
The election of Barack Obama was, to many, a mandate for freedom. But, in Maine, we saw how Obama has handled Gay Rights issues. Because while they had the money and time to campaign for Dave Corzine’s failed bid to be re-elected as Governor of New Jersey, both he and the Democratic Party were silent and even disinterested in Maine’s Gay Marriage referendum.
Six months ago, the Los Angeles Times presciently defined Obama’s role in the fight for Gay Rights thusly:
“Although he appears willing to sign gay rights bills, he takes a curiously passive approach to ensuring that such legislation actually gets to his desk.”
Basically, if you can get Gay Rights legislation to his desk, he’ll sign it. But don’t expect this transcendent President – the first member of a minority to ever hold the office – to use up any of his political capital fighting for the rights of others. Such fights are for candidates in speeches to the disaffected, they are not the type of fights an elected official has much interest in. Not when there are millions of religious votes to be had.
Still, Tuesday’s elections did have its bright side for Gay Rights activists, as voters in the State of Washington narrowly voted to increase “Domestic Partnerships” – giving gay marriage advocates a partial victory.
But, as it always has been, the freedoms promised by the United States are still separated by nebulous walls. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) is still the law of the land, and gays and lesbians still get fired for having a sexual preference that religious fundamentalists abhor. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is still on the books – and has been vociferously defended by the Obama Administration – meaning that as of today, a married same-sex couple in Vermont is not a married couple in Maine. And Gays and Lesbians can still be fired from their jobs due to their sexual preference as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) slowly makes its way through the Senate.
To put it as simply as possible, as of today, Nov. 4, 2009, members of the LGBT Community do not have the same rights as a heterosexual white male like myself. In the eyes of the United States Government, I am more deserving of rights than any Gay, Lesbian or Transgendered person.
These rights will never be given to the LGBT Community without a fight. Freedom, especially in the United States, is predicated on fighting for those freedoms. And the fight will continue, and the voices will get louder until they can no longer be ignored.
Because despite it all, there is one advantage that the LGBT community owns. And that is the fact that those in federal and state governments just don’t care who has the rights promised in the Founding Fathers’ documents. What they care about is money and votes. It has always been so. And the Milton Friedman revolution has given them all the money in the world. The economy is now the sole possession of the U.S. Government and their corporate sponsors. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are little more than irksome side issues.
This is why the LGBT Community will – with the help of allies that truly believe in freedom and liberty – eventually gain the rights that will make them five-fifths of an American citizen. This great practical joke of liberty will eventually become a literal truth for the LGBT Community, as it is for myself and others in the majority.
That it will require a tireless and endless fight goes without saying. For any minority, the fight for equal rights is a long and arduous one, filled with small victories and big losses. But the brave and unstoppable fight by Gay Rights activists will eventually turn the politically impossible into the politically inevitable. It has always been so.
September 4, 2009
When the last living thing
Has died on account of us …
To be used for killing, money is no object. For healing, it is a valuable commodity and we must be frugal. The narcissistic and greedy who painted war’s dead out of the picture have already done their job of removing the sick from health care reform. The profit of the moment far outweighs forward thinking, and so we discuss genocide and history’s greatest monsters. And another claim is denied.
…How poetical it would be
If Earth could say,
In a voice floating up
From the floor
Of the Grand Canyon …
We will all sacrifice in order to maintain the status quo. We’ll continue paying to keep the rich comfortable and worry free. We’ll continue paying to kill, torture, rape and maim the nameless and faceless in far-off countries. And we’ll continue to put profit ahead of the planet. And as life is rinsed from the Earth, we’ll continually fight over the bounty of our own invention.
Until the final one, the possessor of all the world’s riches and wealth, is washed away. Like the rest of us.
… “It is done.
People did not like it here.”
The “choice” of health care reform: How will health insurance corporations choose to handle windfall profits?
August 26, 2009
In 2004, Presidential Nominee John Kerry and the Democratic Party studiously avoided speaking much about health care reform. And while the official 2004 Democratic Platform (PDF) dedicated a section to health care reform – with tax credits being a big part of reform – it was largely outweighed by the issues of the day, terrorism and homeland security.
Still, the section on health care reform included this line, later popularized by President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign, when health care reform was one of the top priorities in the DNC Platform (PDF):
“And we will provide all Americans with access to the same coverage that members of Congress give themselves.”
It’s a line we don’t hear much these days, as the Obama Administration has made noises that a “Public Option” is negotiable and not the main part of health care reform, anyway. And, according to Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, the latter is true:
“Now, obviously, the public option was not a cure-all. In fact, the Democrats had in reality already managed to kill the public option by watering it down to the point of near-meaninglessness,” wrote Taibbi.
The question here, however, is this: Why has health care reform become issue No. 1 in the U.S. Is it purely the result of the election of a Democratic President and a public literally dying for a better system? Or is it possible that the health insurance industry was ready to make the investment necessary to insure profits for years to come?
It is a fact that health insurance corporations have continued to profit wildly over the past decade. But they have done so by jacking up costs. While the profits remain and the costs skyrocket, small businesses have begun to put a halt to many employee benefits, health insurance included. This is not a workable business model.
The half-dozen leading overhaul proposals circulating in Congress would require all citizens to have health insurance, which would guarantee insurers tens of millions of new customers — many of whom would get government subsidies to help pay the companies’ premiums.
Basically, the health insurance industry has pumped more than a million dollars a day into the only fight they have to win – destroying the line “and we will provide all Americans with access to the same coverage that members of Congress give themselves.”
That is the entire health care reform battle in a nutshell. Because conservatives may howl about the costs of a government-run health insurance option, but it’s pure farce. How could any “fiscal conservative” look at the obscene amount of money the the U.S. government pumps into the health industry (nearly 18 percent of the GDP) and then state that the U.S. has the “best health care system in the world?”
They can say that because health insurance corporations fill their coffers. And the reality that “choice” in health care coverage would seriously damage profits. Health insurance corporations are more than willing to deal with some regulation, provided they remain the only choice available. Despite the simple fact that Americans overwhelmingly approve of the the choice that a government-led health care option would bring.
But at this stage of the game, “choice” isn’t even on the field:
Real choice is not part of the bills moving through the Democratic-led Congress; even if the much-debated government-run insurance plan was created, it would not be available to most people who already have coverage. Republicans, meanwhile, have shown no interest in making insurance choice part of a compromise they could accept. Both parties are protecting the insurers.
The result of it all is impressive theater. The debate has been drowned with a cavalcade of lies involving “death panels” and “assuring all Americans have access to affordable health care.” The choice for most Americans in this health care reform debate is basically whether they choose to drown out the lies, or buy into them.
Because between deals with Big Pharma and the the health insurance industry, as well as the blatantly obvious and over-the-top fight to demonize a public option, the main “choice” to come out of the Great Health Care Reform Battle of 2009 will be how health insurance corporations spread out the windfall of profits heading their way.
Which is how it was always meant to play out.
August 23, 2009
Here on the outer layer of the onion known as the United States, free men and women are arguing over health care reform. It is the latest debate. Previously, we debated issues like torture, war, and the economy.
It’s all pretend, of course. It is Kabuki theater of the highest order, with American citizens playing their part as they always have. We are a Democratic nation, after all. Appearances must be maintained.
Think about it. The “will of the people” is almost always completely ignored when it comes to massive moral and economic issues.
The U.S. is now a nation that knows for a fact that our government has tortured people. The latest torture story involves threatening prisoners with electric drills. Yet the GOP now says that the U.S. will be attacked by terrorists if there is an investigation into any of the crimes. And President Barack Obama has made it relatively clear that he has limited interest in the crimes of the previous administration.
Americans are also aware that the U.S. – which still has troops in Iraq – is now gearing up to accelerate its latest failed war. The lessons of Iraq, Vietnam, and of course, Afghanistan, teach us that this latest attempt to create a mini-U.S. in Afghanistan will result in little more than a waste of taxpayer money, lives, as well as ongoing chaos in that region of the world.
Most in the U.S. are also aware that profit-hungry investment banks created an economic disaster. And we rewarded them with obscene amounts of money. And the biggest of them have had their hands held until they have resumed making profits, to much applause from both sides.
And with health care reform, we should all be well aware that it is a battle of health insurance corporations versus the American people. And, thus far, the health insurance corporations are winning. Handily. And politicians – with pockets stuffed with Health Insurance Corporation cash – will work as hard as they can to insure that, in the U.S., sickness will always equal profit.
In the film “Quiz Show,” contestant John Turturro takes a dive on the show, and laughs when asked if it’s possible that he cheated while his opponent didn’t. Torturro replies by asking what sense would it make giving the answers to just one contestant? If you are going to throw a fight, both sides must work together.
And that, in the end, is the situation the U.S. is in. We are a two-party system. And corporations learned long ago to bribe both sides.
With an impotent (if not complicit) media, a President that seems desperate to hold on to the status quo on the biggest issues, and a citizenry that is arguing over issues that don’t even exist, we have become a Kabuki Theater of Dunces. We have kept ourselves on the outer layer of the onion, having been long-ago convinced that there is nothing underneath.
How do we end the play? How do we change our perspectives? We probably can’t. After all, the election of Obama was supposed to be a massive victory for intellectualism. Problems would no longer be ignored or overwhelmed by rhetoric.
Yet, here we are, in August 2009, and the biggest debates are about whether we are becoming a socialist state, whether we want to kill Grandma, and whether Obama was born in the U.S. For now, most other topics are conveniently being left off the table.
In the end, what it comes down to is the fact that most U.S. citizens are comfortable in their Kabuki roles. This is by no means to say that there aren’t many Americans out there trying to fight the good fight and help the citizenry. But they are playing by rules that may have never actually even existed.
At this point of U.S. history, the status quo could not be more safe. The very few will continue to take the majority with them in their search for never-ending profits and their strategies to forever stay on top. And the majority will continue to let it happen, as the corporate media keeps them too afraid, self-satisfied or oblivious to look any deeper. Americans will continue to play their roles, while those that run the nation are working from a completely different script.
Because it’s all Kabuki. Period. And the show will go on.
August 14, 2009
It is with no small sense of irony that I write this post. After all, I’m a guy who just wrote a satirical piece about killing the elderly. Nonetheless, my own examination of fraudulent health care reform claims can’t be compared with Ann Coulter riffing about killing Rahm Emanuel’s brother. Or Glenn Beck joking about how he’d poison Nancy Pelosi. Or Beck joking about killing many other people. Or Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Lou Dobbs, or the hundreds of copy-cat angry right-wing death porn stars out there “joking” about murder daily. Because the “jokes” about killing liberals and the “wacky fun” of demonizing liberals and blaming them for every ill on the planet are coming fast and furious, 24/7.
Yes, folks, we are right in the middle of a Right-Wing Death Porn shitstorm. With the amount of Death Porn floating about, I believe I should be able to watch Bisexual Interracial Amputee Friday’s on TNT. Because the standards are just out the window at this point. Think about it, people like Ann Coulter are going on Extreme Right-Wing TV Shows and joking about killing liberals – even though right-wing extremists have just recently gone out and killed based on their hate of liberals.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very hesitant to call for anyone to be called off the air. After all, the ability of soulless douchebags to rise in the media industry is part of what makes America great. Right? But I must say I am heartened to see advertisers jump off Beck’s bandwagon. Do Geico and other companies really need to be associated with someone who daily promotes civil war and civil unrest?
I also must say I am heartened by CNN looking to smarten up the debate some by axing know-nothing radio hosts:
CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein asked his show producers to avoid booking talk radio hosts. “Complex issues require world class reporting,” Klein is quoted as saying, adding that talk radio hosts too often add to the noise, and that what they say is “all too predictable.”
I’ll overlook Klein’s world-class hypocrisy in not firing Dobbs – an all-too predictable radio host – because I’m willing to take whatever we can get. Because as I see it, there will be soulless hate-mongers in our media forever. It’s just gotten a bit frightening that they’ve gone so high-profile.
A well-armed nation is in serious economic turmoil. People are looking to freak out. Hate has become the nation’s only renewable resource. And it’s not like it’s happening in a void. Have you noticed that right-wingers don’t say jack anymore about the DHS report that warned of extreme right-wing violence? Because they know that it has and will happen again. They just keep stoking the fires, regardless. Paychecks override morality for many. And Right-Wing Death Porn pays the bills.
David Neiwert has done a lot of work on Eliminationism, and is worth a read on the subject. The simple fact is that there will always be Coulters, Becks, Hannitys and O’Reillys out there. Part of being a free nation rests on not allowing them to destroy the fabric of the nation. But it would be a lot easier if a few more big-media executives would stop supporting the Right-Wing Death Porn Machine.
August 10, 2009
In the real world, there are more than 40 million Americans without health insurance, and millions more that are under-insured. In the real world, faceless health insurance companies chose whether Americans live or die, based on profit. In the real world, millions of American families live in financial turmoil as health care bills destroy any hope they may have for a better future.
In the hypothetical world of ideology, health care reform is a mass murder. Thus far dead in the hypothetical world: Trig Palin, Ben Nelson, Ted Kennedy, Babies, the elderly, and likely many others. It’s a health care hypothetical holocaust out there, as imagined bodies litter the battle field.
Obviously it’s all nonsense, and little more than the status quo – in the form of health insurance corporations and Big Pharma – fighting anything that could harm their bottom line. But deadly scenarios drawn out of whole cloth and comparisons to Nazis tend to do better in the public sphere than actual facts, as we’ve learned over and over again.
As it stands now, it appears Obama will get something passed in regard to health care reform. But having already capitulated to Big Pharma, it’s become difficult to trust that Obama won’t go for political expediency rather than reform that actually makes a genuine difference to the silent majority.
In the end - brushing aside hypotheticals and conjecture – one thing Americans must understand is this – this train won’t be rolling by again any time soon. Whatever happens with the debate and ultimate legislation of health care reform, one thing is certain, it won’t be brought up again for quite some time.
This is why Americans must fight for the best possible health care reform. Check that – the best possible health care reform for American citizens.
While the ignorant spout off about the end of the United States due to Obama’s policies, the simple fact is that over the past three decades, the nation’s economy has shifted dramatically. And during this economic crisis, Republicans will look to put more of their finishing touches on their ideologically based “Starve the Beast” philosophy. One need only look to California to see that strategy in play.
Basically, it comes down to this – a true middle class can’t survive in the U.S. I can say that my opinion of where the U.S. is going has been affected by the fact that I live in Brazil. What I see in the U.S. over the next several decades is that wealth inequality will grow and jobs that used to afford people good lifestyles will diminish greatly. Because the U.S. can’t compete as is. Hardcore capitalism is the rule of the planet, and when you have cheap labor in China, Brazil, India, etc., there is no way at all for the U.S. to compete long term. Not without average workers seeing their compensation decrease dramatically.
So basically, when I look out my window in Brazil, I see where the U.S. is going. It will eventually be a nation of the pobre, with millions in favelas. I can see no way around this in the world “free market.” For the U.S. to compete, U.S. workers will have to receive the same treatment as workers in China and other emerging nations. Because those nations won’t be raising their standards to reach ours.
But most of those nations will have universal health care. And that’s something Americans won’t have for the foreseeable future if they don’t demolish the false hypotheticals and force health insurance companies, Big Pharma, and the U.S. government to accept that it is time for a new status quo. Yes, they will fight. The status quo always does when threatened. But simply speaking, it is time for average Americans to “get theirs.” It is time for Americans to stand up and demand lives that won’t be ruined by health care bills or by illnesses they can’t afford to treat.
Because in the end, health care reform comes down to two hypotheticals – Do American citizens deserve to be treated as well as large health insurance corporations, and ; 2) If not now, when?
April 7, 2009
There has long been a meme going about in right-wing circles that liberals will go to any length – fair or foul - to censor conservatives and take away their First Amendment rights. Well, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
Because the simple fact is that liberals should want right-wingers to take full advantage of their right of free speech. In fact, right-wingers should have more TV programs, more radio hosts, and more columnists. Conservatives need to spread their words far and loud throughout the countryside.
So this is to Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Joe Scarborough, Bill Cunningham, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Bill Bennett, G. Gordon Liddy, John Gibson, Phil Valentine, Tucker Carlson, Rita Cosby, Glenn Reynolds, Larry Kudlow, Kevin James, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Miller, Michael Smerconish, Thomas Sowell, Dick Morris, Cal Thomas, Pat Buchanan, George Will, David Limbaugh, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, Michael Barone, Jonah Goldberg, Debbie Schlussel, Michael S. Malone, Daniel Pipes, Kathryn Lopez, Oliver North, John Stossel, Walter Williams, Frank Gaffney, Michael Reagan, Pam Atlas, Erick Erickson, Dinesh D’Souza, Fred Thompson, Victor Davis Hanson, Chuck Colson, Mary Katharine Ham, Chuck Norris, Rich Galen, Glenn Beck, Phyllis Schlafly, Robert Novak, Bill Kristol, Fred Hiatt, Robert Kagan, Rick Roberts, Chris Baker, Mickey Kaus, Matt Drudge, Mark Steyn, Kathleen Parker, Morton Kondracke, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, and all the other Conservative talkers and writers out there. We understand that you’re a rag-tag, underrepresented group, and we’ll never try to silence you.
In fact, we liberals should demand that conservatives keep talking. We may even work to pass a constitutional amendment stating that conservatives MUST exercise the right to free speech at every available opportunity. We can make room for that by ditching the second amendment.
Because we know that when Conservative analysts speak, there’s no way they can keep their crazy in check. And that goes for all types of Conservatives.
So we want the Religious Right Conservatives to keep shouting about things like Gay Marriage, how life begins at penetration and what Jesus really thinks.
We want Economic Conservatives to keep screaming that problem with the economy is that we haven’t been conservative enough, and that our only hope is to eliminate all taxes for all rich people.
And we want Hyper-Nationalist Conservatives to keep demonizing illegal immigrants and to keep calling President Barack Obama a Nazi Fascist. We want to listen to you interview politicians like Michele Bachman so we can all hear about her “re-education camp” theories.
And we want war-mongering conservatives to keep bellowing about how the U.S. needs to obliterate anyone that doesn’t bow before the U.S.
Simply put, this nation needs Conservatives to keep talking. Because then they’ll have no choice but to partner up with other Conservatives, as no right-minded human would come near them. Ultimately, this selective inbreeding will lead to new generations of Conservatives who can’t help falling off cliffs, drowning in sinks, and hording guns for the sole purpose of accidentally shooting themselves 400 times.
We call this “evolution,” and being that the average Conservative media type doesn’t believe in that, they’ll never see it coming. Eventually, many Conservatives will de-evolve enough to crawl back into the sea, to be eaten by whatever sea life happens to be swimming by.
Of course, there will be some liberals that will argue with this approach. They’ll say that Conservatives media types are angry, vitriolic folks whose words lead to violence. Well, I say that this is the price we Americans have to pay. The death of an ideology is never pretty. But with Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi running this nation, I see the death of Conservative stupid-speak being just around the corner. It won’t be much longer before you hear Coulter, Hannity, Beck and the rest talking about flying saucers, invisible rabbits and New World Orders.
Conservatives are at the tipping point, people. To shut them up now would be madness. So to hell with the Fairness Doctrine. We need Conservative media stars to take their schtick to its logical conclusion – complete and utter madness that will eventually lead the vast majority of them to hospitals for the criminally insane.
I’m ready to accept the fact that to most Conservative analysts, disagreement means censorship. So be it. But at this stage of history, it’s vital that we allow and encourage great conservative thinkers to say whatever is on their demented minds. It’s what has gotten them to where they are today, after all. So keep talking, Conservatives, it really is the most patriotic thing you can do.
March 29, 2009
This was previously published at Best Syndications on July 13, 2005
You learn fairly early that being a writer is a life of stale doughnuts, cold coffee and little or no recognition. Of course, my life was exactly the same before I decided to write full time, so to me it’s all good.
I didn’t go to college until I was 28, because I was busy exploring the world and opening my personal boundaries. OK, mostly that consisted of exploring bars and opening bottles of beer. In fact, the ages of 21 to 27 are pretty hazy to me. I know there were a couple jobs, mostly involving lifting things, and I know I had a nice dinner at Red Lobster once. Aside from that, I’m at a loss.
The “Lost Years of Bill” as many historians now recall it is neither here nor there and is really a story that only a full-length novel could fully express. I’m currently working on this project, which will likely become my life’s work.
Back to writing. I attended the University of Alaska Anchorage, which is a fabulous school if you plan to major in shivering or desolation. I majored in journalism, which meant I got to do a lot of reporting on shivering, desolate people.
Anyway, I learned early that being a writer meant to check your ego at the door. Getting your name in a newspaper is fine if you’re main goal in life is to impress your mom, but a great percentage of the general population thinks journalists and writers are self-absorbed egomaniacs. I plan to address this at length in my book, which is tentatively titled “BILL!! Say it again: BILL!!”
This great epiphany occurred to me during spring break of my junior year.
While many of my fellow students were enjoying fabulous Alaskan spring break rituals like drinking, passing out in a snow bank and having their toes amputated, I volunteered to be a counselor at a University sports camp for children.
Most of the other counselors were student-athletes, which made me stand out like a sore thumb. A big, fat, stale-doughnut-eating sore thumb. This was pointed out to me by one of the kids at the camp.
“You’re kind of fat, what sport do you play?” the lovable little cherub asked.
“Well, what I do is watch those guys play sports while I eat doughnuts and write about it,” I replied.
“That’s kind of sad. Bye,” the adorable urchin said.
So, while the athletes got to instruct groups of adoring 10-to-12 year olds, I was stuck with the 9 year olds, who have the attention span of, well, some sort of witty analogy for short attention span people. Sorry, reliving these painful memories is draining my creativity.
Basically, I spent my spring break trying to play dodge ball with 9 year olds, who had the uncanny ability to disappear from the group for hours on end. I’d find them hidden away in teachers’ lounge, smoking cigars, drinking brandy from snifters and telling witty jokes about farts.
In the end though, I got my message across I believe, and we spent the final couple days of the sports camp sitting around computers, eating stale doughnuts, drinking cold coffee and stressing over deadlines. They considered themselves lucky for the experience and for the ulcers and heart attacks.
So what does this all mean? Well, first of all, 9-year-old children should be kept in a closet until they’re 10. Extremely compassionate and humane closets, mind you. Second, writers, whether a journalist for the Dubuque Weekly Journal or Michael Crichton, shouldn’t take themselves too seriously.
Once again, this will be covered in excruciating detail in my book, in a chapter I will likely call “Jeez, Get Over Yourselves, it’s Not Like You’re Bill or Anything.”
March 27, 2009
A couple weeks ago, Jonah Goldberg wrote a column for the Los Angeles Times, claiming that Barack Obama is a fear monger.
Recall that not long ago, the first item on the bill of indictment against the Bush administration was that it was “exploiting” 9/11 to enact its agenda. Al Gore shrieked that President Bush “played on our fears” to get his way. In response to nearly every Bush policy proposal, from the Patriot Act to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, critics would caterwaul that Bush was taking advantage of the country’s fear of terrorism.
The Bush administration always denied this, and rightly so. If the president admitted that he was using a national calamity for narrow partisan or ideological advantage, it would be outrageous. Indeed, every time Karl Rove or some other administration official said anything that could be even remotely interpreted as using the war or 9/11 for partisan or ideological gain, the editorial pages and Democratic news-release factories churned into overdrive with righteous indignation.
Well, now we have the president, along with his chief aides, admitting — boasting! — that they want to exploit a national emergency for their preexisting agenda, and there’s no scandal. No one even calls it a gaffe. No, they call it leadership.
It’s not leadership. It’s fear-mongering.
This isn’t to attack Goldberg, who very likely doesn’t even remember what the hell he wrote two weeks ago, nor cares a whit. It’s still impressive the sheer amount of myopia that could go into writing that the Bush Administration didn’t exploit 9/11. Because compared to Barack Obama’s words about the economy, Bush was flat-out a terrorist mastermind while President.
The House’s failure to pass the bipartisan Senate bill would jeopardize the security of our citizens. As Director McConnell has told me, without this law, our ability to prevent new attacks will be weakened. And it will become harder for us to uncover terrorist plots. We must not allow this to happen. It is time for Congress to ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. It is time for Congress to pass a law that provides a long-term foundation to protect our country. And they must do so immediately.
Seriously, Bush terrorized the U.S. far, far more than any Islamic group. From 9/11 on, the Bush Administration put its foot on the neck of the American populace and kept it there.
So whether you’re happy with how Obama’s doing or not, it’s truly idiocy to even entertain the idea that Obama could fear monger anywhere near how well Bush did it.
February 18, 2009
I have a confession to make. I am the root source of all evil on this planet. Me. If the entire world collapses, you can put the blame on me. Because I ate at Applebee’s. In Brazil.
Now, while I understand that no amount of explanation would forgive me of this sin, let me try and explain anyway. You see, I was visiting friends and family in Belo Horizonte and we were out looking for a place to eat. Someone laughed and said there was a new Applebee’s in town. I said “Wow, I’d like to see that.” Of course, being no one in brazil really understands anything I say, this was immediately translated to “Oh boy, let’s eat at Applebee’s.”
Which is how I ended up with an appetizer sampler platter at Applebee’s the other night. Which was pretty awful. Except for the ribs. And the chicken quesadillas were OK, as well. Also, they played a Madonna concert DVD on an endless loop. Now, while I know Brazil’s copyright laws are flimsy, Applebee’s Belo Horizonte is clearly breaking some sort of copyright law.
But this is neither here nor there. Because I know what I did. I helped fund the mediocrization of Brazil. Because if there’s one thing Brazil doesn’t need, it’s a freakin’ Applebee’s.
Because while I won’t say that a big restaurant dynasty like Applebee’s showing up Brazil is a sign of the moral collapse that globalization brings, let me just say this: Applebee’s showing up Brazil is a sign of the moral collapse that globalization brings.
They already have McDonald’s in Brazil, and have for some time. Strangely enough, in Brazil, the empty calories they serve are expensive. There is no Dollar Value Meal at the McDonald’s in Brazil. There are a few other chain restaurants around, but not that many. Though I hear that Friday’s and Outback Steakhouse do well in some parts of Brazil. The latter because Brazilians don’t have enough places nearby to get a steak, I guess. And the former because Brazilians just don’t know how to relax after work, I suppose.
Anyway, I just feel awful about supporting Applebee’s, and I deserve your scorn. Because even if the global economy is helping Brazil out in some ways, it’s just not worth Brazilians selling their souls to eat at distinctly American, and distinctly crappy chain restaurants. Leave that to us Americans who were born and raised on this type of mediocrity.
Crossposted at William K. Wolfrum Chronicles in Bad Portuguese
January 27, 2009
To say I’m at a crossroad in my life is a vast understatement. In fact, it would be more correct to say that I’m off the road entirely. The loss of my Mom has left me with a void that just can’t be filled, and will have to be worked around to the best of my abilities. My career, while occasionally full of bells and whistles, maintains its pace of consistent stagnation. Not that I much care at the moment. I keep working because that’s what I think I should do. But there’s truly a numbness in me that has taken over.
But life continues on, and I try and focus on the positive. Such as my loving wife, Emilia, who stood by me throughout an oft-turbulent 2008, as she’s stood by me for more than a decade. She is truly a miracle. But she has decided that she will no longer stand by me. The time for standing is over. It’s time to dance.
Call me Samba Bill.
In less than a month, Emilia and I will travel to Rio de Janeiro, where we’ll take part in the 2009 Carnival celebration. We will be part of the parade for the Imperatriz Leopoldinense Samba School in Rio’s grand Sambódromo. Just to give you a quick idea what this means, here is where we’ll be performing:
And here’s what I’ll be wearing:
Oh yeah, and I’ll need to samba my ass off for the entire, hour-plus-long presentation. And no, as a matter of fact, I can’t samba a lick. And neither can Emilia, thus disproving the theory that all Brazilians samba out of the birth canal.
So, we have begun taking samba lessons. Thus far we’ve taken one. My entire samba arsenal consists of the fact that I can walk forward and backward to the count of Um, dois, treis. Um, dois, treis … . More or less. But let me tell you, as someone who has never had a dance lesson before, the fact that I can do that is like winning Dancing with the Stars.
We’re taking this seriously, though. Carnival demands our best effort. Because in Brazil, there are 360 days where life is mass chaos. But during Carnival, the nation becomes a well-oiled machine. Brazil becomes a South American Sweden. And we’re taking it seriously for ourselves, as well. We are less than a month away from being part of one of the biggest shows on the planet and we want to do well and enjoy ourselves. And while there’s trepidation, there is also excitement at being part of this amazing spectacle.
So now, I have to think of the samba for a couple hours every day. And that gives my mind a little time off from missing my Mom. And it gives me more time to appreciate my wife. Because while I don’t know where my life will take me, I know that with Emilia at my side, there will be dancing. Oh yes, there will be dancing.
November 16, 2008
Brazilians and Argentinians have long argued who was the better soccer player: Was it Argentina’s Diego Maradona, or Brazil’s Pele. And while they were both otherworldly on the pitch, the sensible selection for this question is Pele. The great Brazilian champion dominated while a teenager, dominated after coming back from injury, and dominated with a great team around him. And he still stands tall as one of Brazil’s biggest, and most loved stars.
As for Maradona, he helped Argentina to a World Cup title (cheating along the way) and showcased his considerable skills in Italy. But then he met cocaine, and his career fizzled as drugs and high-living robbed years off his playing career. Still, Maradona has always been a major – if not flighty- personality. He gained a lot of weight, had stomach surgery to fix that; started a popular talk-show in Argentina where the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Hugo Chavez were guests.
And now, this man and his past are the head coach of the Argentina national football squad. The question remain is how long he’ll last, as he’s already threatened desertion should he not get the assistant coaches he wants.
But Maradona is a shrewd one. Obviously having studied the Bush/Chavez playbook, Maradona now wants his name striken from interwebs in Argentina.
Argentines clicking on the local version of Yahoo in search of information about their country’s most legendary soccer star (and current national team coach) are in for a disappointment. All they’ll see is a disclaimer in Spanish stating: “Due to a court order requested by private parties, we find ourselves obliged to temporarily suspend all or some of the results related to this search.” The only exceptions are links to major news media sites. Nor is this peculiar result exclusive to searches for Diego Maradona. The soccer star is just one of 110 major public figures in Argentina to have secured a court order restraining the Argentine versions of Google and Yahoo from serving up search results on their name
What worries the search engines is that the ruling’s legal principle effectively holds them responsible for the content of web sites turned up in their searches.
A spokesperson for Google Argentina labeled the lawsuit “completely illogical. It would be like suing the newsstand for what appears in the newspapers it sells. Or demanding the newsstand vendor to tear out offending pages from the newspapers. The lawsuits should be against the websites carrying the information, not us.” Google Argentina has appealed the court order, and says it will not filter any links until the appeal has been decided.
The lawsuit is the work of Martin Leguizamon, 48, a Buenos Aires attorney who has taken on the local versions of the two internet giants on behalf of many of Argentina’s best-known actors, models, sports personalities and judges. “We started our first lawsuit two years ago,” says Leguizamon. “When Maradona found out about what we were doing he came to see me and asked me to represent him as well.”
Maradona, widely viewed as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, has had a career of highs and lows. His two goals against England at the 1986 World Cup — one of them scored illegally with his hand, which he famously attributed to “the hand of God” — helped to symbolically avenge Argentina’s defeat in the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas war, and he went on to lead Argentina to victory over Germany in the final that year. But he was banned from the professional game in Italy in 1991 for cocaine use, and he tested positive for drugs at the 1994 World Cup tournament. He recently reclaimed the public spotlight by accepting the job of Argentina’s national coach, although in keeping with his mercurial personality, within a week he was threatening to resign if he couldn’t get his way on coaching-staff appointments.
Earlier, I had begged for Argentina to give Maradona the job, and they came through. Now, we have time to enjoy Maradona’s stunts for a short time, It’ll be fun to watch, but over quickly. And when he’s finally fired or forced to quit, it will be everybody’s fault but his own. Thankfully for him though, Google and Yahoo will have kept Maradona’s madness away from curious Web searchers.
November 8, 2008
For liberals, one of the biggest disappointments of Barack Obama’s career was his ‘Yes’ vote on the FISA legislation that handed U.S. telecoms retroactive immunity for illegally spying on U.S. citizens. For Obama, it was a shrewd political move – the legislation was headed to pass anyway, and by voting for it he avoided the inane screams from the illogical right that he had somehow voted to completely demolish U.S. intelligence.
Nonetheless, the vote was a disappointment. Despite passing 69-28, Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin all cast their votes against the legislation.
With Obama’s political odyssey now having reached its highest level, it will be interesting to see if the subject is broached again. Because we have – and continue to see the damage to civil liberties that comes with leaving the intelligence industry to its own devices.
NEW YORK – The FBI tracked the late Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam for more than two decades, newly released documents show.
Students at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism obtained the FBI documents by filing a Freedom of Information Act request. The university posted the documents on its Web site Thursday.
The FBI monitored Halberstam’s reporting, and at times his personal life, from at least the mid-1960s until at least the late ’80s, the documents show. The agency released only 62 pages of a 98-page dossier on the writer, citing security, privacy and other reasons.
Halberstam won a Pulitzer in 1964 for his coverage of the Vietnam War while working as a reporter for The New York Times. In 1972, he wrote “The Best and the Brightest,” a best-selling book critical of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia.
It’s unclear when the FBI began monitoring Halberstam, though the first documents made public date from 1965, when he was a Times correspondent in Poland during the Cold War.
The agency kept tabs on Halberstam’s reporting there and his first marriage, to Polish actress Elzbieta Czyzewska, the documents show.
The files include published reports of Polish officials expelling Halberstam and Czyzewska from the country because of his news stories about Poland’s communist leaders. The documents also include stories written by Halberstam and telephone company records of calls to him. …
… Under J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director at the time, the agency’s now-defunct counterintelligence programs known as COINTELPRO monitored and disrupted groups believed to have communist and socialist ties in the 1950s and ’60s.
Before it was shut down in 1971, the domestic spying operation had expanded to include civil rights groups, anti-war activists, the Ku Klux Klan, state legislators and journalists.
“COINTELPRO was a program of subversion carried out not by a couple of petty crooks but by the national political police, the FBI, under four administrations…by the time it got through, I won’t run through the whole story, it was aimed at the entire new left, at the women’s movement, at the whole black movement, it was extremely broad. Its actions went as far as political assassination.”
Toward the end of his historic campaign, Obama grew fond of saying that “Power does not concede without a fight.” And the President-Elect was correct. Now the question remains whether he will take away some of the new powers that George W. Bush awarded the Executive Branch when it comes to surveillance. Yesterday at his first post-election news conference, Obama stated that the U.S. intelligence industry needed some changes. One would hope that one of its changes will be to remove some of the power that it already has, and will only continue to abuse.