Thursday, January 31, 2008

On The Town

I'm off to my beloved NYC for a few days of R&R, so no posts until Sunday at the earliest. Must recharge the batteries, and for me, nothing quite does it like walking around Manhattan. Have a great weekend, and see you when I return.

Here are some clips from Glenn O'Brien's cable access show, "TV Party." What local TV looked like back in the day.



And here's a trailer for "Downtown '81," featuring Jean Michel Basquiat. What the city looked like when I first moved there. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pre-Soaking Your Sane




Will John McCain finally receive the Bob Dole "I have it coming, it's mine, goddammit, get your grubby mitts off it!" nomination? It's looking more and more that way. Good for him, I guess. Considering the rotting imperial wreck of whatever nation remains, he'll need all the positive vibes he can grab. As for the rest of us . . .

I love watching these late night victory celebrations. You'd think that we live in some robust democracy, all songs, balloons and cheers from the faithful, as the smiling ghosts of Jefferson and Lincoln float above, high-fiving and bumping chests. It's quite a show, and a necessary one, given the dreadful reality of our depoliticized world. If nothing else, we Americans play Make Believe better than the most gifted poseur you can name. Fantasy is Job One, and our endless elections are perhaps the most vibrant examples of this national mindset.

What if it's McCain vs. Hillary in November? Oh man, that would be a blast to witness. Two nearly identical choices for imperial manager, the one slight difference being that McCain says he's opposed to torture, while Hillary must wait to check wind velocity and direction. I can see the liberals twisting themselves into numerous knots trying to justify a Hillary vote over McCain, assuring each other that it's the right thing to do, and of course reaching back to Bill's criminal years for inspiration. You mules better hope that Saint Obama gets the nod instead. At least with him, the fantasy is easier to pull off. Change! Hope! Stardust! Ponies! If I ruled the world . . .

Funny thing is, not that long ago, McCain was the liberals' favorite Republican, especially in comparison to the Bushes. His time in a North Vietnamese cell earned McCain a lot of guilt cred among Bill Clinton's groupies, who felt bad backing a draft dodger over a POW. So, they tried to have it both ways: Clinton, Hero President; McCain, War Hero and All Around Good Guy.

I remember it all too well.

Whenever I appeared on Alan Colmes' late night radio show in New York, I'd hear this uttered by Alan and his many liberal guests. One night it got really gooey. I was on with Peter Bales, some history teacher/stand up comic who boomed and blustered about his "superior" intellect and deep grasp of American history, and with Jaid Barrymore, mother of Drew and walking soap opera, who also informed me of her massive brain power. Between these two, the studio was a tight fit. But I did manage some breathing space.

At one point, Colmes (who I mercilessly teased about being Sean Hannity's punching bag -- "Is it the money, Alan? The screen time?") asked the panel if John McCain was a war hero. Bales puffed out his chest, tilted his head to the side, weighed the issue, then pronounced that, yes, McCain was indeed a war hero. Barrymore quickly chimed in, adding her assent, while Colmes breathlessly spoke of how honored he was to have personally met McCain and basked in his glow.

Then they all turned to me.

"Well," I said, hesitating a moment, for I knew my answer would elicit some hostility, "I'm not sure how heroic it is to incinerate Vietnamese children."

"OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" was the collective reply.

Colmes told me I was tasteless. Barrymore said I should be ashamed of myself. Bales puffed out his chest yet again (he did this a lot during the three-hour show) and demanded to know whether I considered McCain a war criminal.

"No. Not personally. McCain didn't create the policy. The war criminals were in Washington."

Still, I added, that doesn't exonerate McCain for dropping bombs on the Vietnamese.

"Oh!" squeaked Barrymore. "What should he have dropped instead -- birthday presents?"

The slagging went on for a little while longer. Here I was, in the middle of three Clinton liberals, reminding them why McCain ended up in a POW cell. Not that I supported torture or reprisal beatings, but some context was in order. The Vietnamese didn't sneak into the States and kidnap McCain from his snug bed. The three couldn't care less. What's more, they defended the U.S. bombing of Vietnam, at least so long as McCain was doing the killing. It was a handy reminder of how crazed liberals become when they taste a little blood.

Afterward, in the building's lobby, Barrymore took me aside and said that if I wanted to have a career as a media talking head, there were certain things I shouldn't say. At the time, she was a regular on Howard Stern, so Barrymore knew of what she spoke, or so she told me. Bales, who had been hitting on Barrymore during the commercial breaks, waited impatiently for her to finish advising me. Finally, they both left, and as I waited for the car service to arrive, two words kept spinning in my head.

"Birthday presents?"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hope On A Rope




If you believe that there's no hope, you guarantee that there's no hope.

This is one of the early Chomsky maxims that caught my young, evolving eye, back when I moved from pursuing comedy to learning about and working against the corporate media. It became a mantra of sorts, a necessary reminder that if I, on stage, on the page, in a small circle of people, didn't reflect this idea in my actions, then why would those to whom I was speaking?

Recently, while going through yet more old boxes in a slo-mo attempt to streamline my files, I discovered dozens upon dozens of letters from event organizers, radio and TV hosts, activist groups, and numerous individuals, all responding to talks I gave, debates I participated in, meetings I attended, and it was interesting to read how positive and upbeat I seemed to many different types of people at the time. They were inspired by whatever it was I said -- Central America and the Middle East the main subjects -- and pledged to apply this inspiration to their respective efforts. (I also raised money for FAIR, which I represented more times than not.) It brought back a variety of feelings, not all of them good (another story), but overall it seemed as if I was reading about another person, someone who passed from this plane long ago.

Late Saturday night, I happened to catch Noam on Book TV, from an event taped last week. Noam has slowed, obviously, but his main message remains the same as it was when I first heard him speak in 1986: those of us privileged enough to have the means to communicate possess a unique opportunity to affect positive change. It's simply our choice. During the Q&A, Noam was hit with a few negative remarks, that this is a horrific time, and how can anyone feel at all optimistic about the future, assuming that a future even exists, etc. Noam conceded that, yes, times are very bad for a great number of people, but conversely, there are more openings to address and hopefully mitigate these dreadful conditions. It's all where you place your desires.

What Noam was saying is certainly true, that we are limited to the degree we choose to limit ourselves (external conditions notwithstanding). But it appeared that the audience wasn't quite buying it, not like they did when Noam roamed the Earth. I'm not even sure how much of this Noam himself truly believes. It comes off so automatically, like a switch he clicks on when certain stimuli appear. I haven't spoken to Noam in years, but when I did, he was no stranger to dark prognostication. Being the young optimist I mostly was then, some of his bleakness surprised me, but also alerted me to rougher waters I had yet to encounter. In any event, whatever his actual beliefs, Noam kept singing "Don't Stop Believin'" to the crowd until he checked his watch and bid adieu.

As always during his talk, Noam compared historical periods to prove his contention that the U.S. is a much more civilized place than it was when he was growing up during the Depression and through World War II. Again, he made irrefutable points, especially when it comes to social interactions, as well as a wider awareness of how the world actually works, as opposed to the fantasy endlessly screened for our amusement. But for the first time in some time, I noted slippage in his approach. Contrasting the Vietnam war era with our current terror world, Noam noted that back then, the U.S. could carpet bomb Southeast Asia, and for many crucial years, did so without significant protest. That's no longer the case. As bad as Iraq is, the U.S. is not terrorizing that country as it did Vietnam and Cambodia, and that public awareness of and opposition to such brutal war tactics has a lot to do with this reality. Thus, in a weird way, the invasion of Iraq is not as awful as it might've been had the public simply not cared.

While it's true that public opposition to the Vietnam war had some effect, however late the large protests formally arrived, the only serious opposition the warmakers paid attention to was on Wall Street. By 1968, major sectors in the American corporate world had turned against what was a money-losing enterprise, and this imperial pessimism began to spread throughout the U.S. elite, from boardrooms to newsrooms to finally the White House, as a steady withdrawal of U.S. troops commenced in the early-1970s. And let's not forget that the Vietnamese themselves played a rather significant part in thwarting American war aims, at great loss to them and to their country. Set against this backdrop, marchers in the streets were at best a distant third in the running.

Also, as time goes on, imperial strategies change, depending on need and the region under consideration. Today's American war machine doesn't need to carpet bomb a country as it did 40-plus years ago. For one thing, the weapons are much different and pack a stronger punch. For another, the present global wars have less to do with ideology (to the degree that ideology was ever a serious factor) and much more to do with resources and geopolitical positioning. Of course the U.S. isn't carpet bombing Iraq as it did Vietnam: the whole point to the occupation is to "stabilize" the energy reserves and bring them under Western corporate control. Why destroy what it is you most covet? Public pressure has nothing to do with that. Indeed, U.S. elites ignored the millions who opposed the Iraq invasion to begin with. Now, suddenly, they care what the average person thinks? I don't know why they would, outside of marketing studies and poll taking, given the utter collapse of whatever "antiwar" movement once existed.

I do agree with Noam that people should continue to hope, and act on this hope, but only if it's part of a wider, critical perspective. Sadly, in this country, "hope" is a simple brand that increasingly belongs to Saint Obama, who spreads it around with an evangelical smile. Even sadder still, too many "progressives" buy into Obama's brand, dancing behind him with pixie dust in their eyes, being led right to where the war makers want them. If I were an Iraqi, an Iranian, or especially a Palestinian, I wouldn't be feeling terribly secure about the near future.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Free Blinders With Every Purchase




Suharto, the Indonesian tyrant, crook, and butcher, finally joined the well-over million dead he helped to exterminate, although unlike most of them, Suharto expired in a hospital bed, and not in a body-lined ditch or against a bullet-pocked wall. The wire services have performed their societal function, casting Suharto as the corrupt mass murderer he was, without, of course, emphasizing the crucial U.S. role in arming, advising, and backing Suharto's regime.

But when it comes to historical whitewash, we must naturally bow to the master of the genre, the New York Times. Marilyn Berger, assisted by the reliable Seth Mydans, skillfully airbrushes U.S. involvement in Indonesian affairs, including the genocidal assault on East Timor, employing the Samantha Power technique of softening the blood-stained focus. Oh sure, the Times tells us, the U.S. gave money to Suharto. But:

"In doing so, the United States, along with much of the rest of the world, showed a willingness to overlook the corruption, favoritism and violations of human rights, including the disappearance of opposition politicians, that came to characterize Mr. Suharto’s rule."

Well, if you mean pumping the Indonesian military with advanced weaponry while actively blocking attempts to stop the violence and corruption is a form of "overlooking" the brutality, then yeah, I suppose that's exactly what the U.S. did. From Ford to Carter to Reagan to Bush to Clinton. All averted their eyes, whistled random tunes while somehow, some way, the Indonesian state kept replenishing itself with U.S. weapons and continually found itself on the favorable end of failed diplomatic moves to end the repression and theft. It's not as if the U.S. and its corporate partners had any real interest in that part of the world, like, say, massive oil reserves. Nope. The U.S. funded Suharto because it specifically didn't want to know what was going on. This is what separates us from the Milosevics of the world. And thank Sulzberger that the New York Times is there to define the difference.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Ghost Of Rimming Past




Once news of Heath Ledger's passing spread wide, you knew it was coming, predictably and quite unavoidably. Set your watch, tap your foot, and see the curtain rise.

The queer cowpoke jokes. The sniggers and snorts from presumably straight men who think that Ledger dying at this point in his career cements his fag image for eternity.

Maybe Ledger really died of AIDS. Maybe Jake Gyllenhaal had Ledger killed in a jealous lover's spat. Hooo yeah! Git it? He was a fruit in boots!

I've seen online and heard on sports radio all kinds of "Brokeback Mountain" tie-ins to Ledger's death, most of them incredibly one-dimensional, stupid, and not even approaching funny -- that is, if you insist on some kind of intelligence in your humor. Frankly, I don't know if there is an intelligent, humorous connection between Ledger dying and his stellar performance in Ang Lee's film. But I do know the sound of hetero-fear, that nervous, adolescent chuckling that emerges when the closet door starts to open a little too wide. Were Ledger an actual gay ranch hand, it would be bad enough. But he was an actor who played a character in a fictional story -- you know, pretend. Not real. Yet when "Brokeback Mountain" initially appeared, I couldn't believe the amount queer-phobia thrown at the film, at Gyllenhaal and at Ledger. A lot of it was heard on sports radio, one of the last bastions of white male angst, where attacks on "political correctness" are encouraged, because, like, if black people can call each other niggers, then why can't white people use the same word? It's just not fair! And now we have movies that show American cowboys fucking each other on the prairie. Where will this PC madness end? And who can stop it?

I grew up with and around a lot of white guys like the ones I've been hearing lately, and I know the type all too well. They're sad, pathetic specimens, hanging on to some fantasy image of male strength and virility (which is, to use their reasoning, kinda "gay" in and of itself). Politically isolated, socially atomized, they look to blame or mock those ostensibly beneath them -- hell, anything but face the stark, political reality that shapes their every movement. Ultimately, the joke's on them. Heath Ledger's final film was not "Brokeback Mountain," but will be "The Dark Knight," in which he plays a heavily-armed, psychopathic mass murderer. Somehow, I don't think American white boys are gonna mock Ledger for that portrayal. Hmmm, I wonder why . . .

Suffocation With A Kiss



If you need additional evidence of American disdain for those we help to murder and starve, recent events in Gaza should suffice. Other than the standard news reports of the current chaos and misery, coupled with the typical furrowed-brow "analysis," there has been little to no real outrage about what the U.S. is financing and politically supporting. On the lefty peace margins, yes, as well as from Israeli and Arab activist groups and writers who closely follow these savage events (stories from ground zero have been filling my inbox all week, to which I'm just now catching up). But from American liberals, nada, at least so far as I've seen.

A search scan of the leading liblogger sites -- Kos, Atrios, Greenwald, Firedoglake, Digby, Ezra Klein, Yglesias -- produced zero on the Gaza crisis, which, again, is no real surprise, and again, probably just as well. They are too busy trying to choose a Dem Savior, because it's Their Turn, Their Time, a spectacle that at least produces a few laughs, however fleeting and empty. Besides, Mount Hillary and Saint Obama, whatever their actual differences, are united when it comes to crushing Palestinians. So really, what's there to discuss?

Three exceptions on this front remain my pals Jon Schwarz, Rob Payne, and Juan Cole. But then, you already knew that.

The official narrative is that the peace-loving U.S. and its dovish Israeli ally don't want to strangle Palestinians trapped in a rotting cage, but Hamas forces their hand. What's happening is more of a rescue mission -- to rid the Palestinian people of their Islamic captors and return them to the responsible arms of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who knows his place in the regional plan. The only way to do this is to squeeze the blood out of Gaza, for sometimes love must take violent forms in order to achieve lasting results. In this case, rough love includes closing all border crossings, cutting off food, medicine and fuel to the entire area, while shutting down Gaza's only power plant. That this accelerated the death and disease rate is unfortunate, but necessary. Remember when you tried to housebreak your first dog? All those hours spent beating it, starving it, denying it water and clean shelter? What Israel is doing to Gaza is a bit like that, only to 1.5 million strays.

Knocking down the Philadelphi wall, which allowed the mass pouring into Egypt for food, medicine, and other supplies, showed that the Gazans aren't quite ready for imperial conditioning. Our Egyptian client initially tried to help, firing water cannons and beating those crossing the border. But the tide proved too much, and Hosni Mubarak, trapped between serving Israeli interests and keeping his largely pro-Palestinian populace from erupting, eventually allowed the Gazans entry (although efforts to close the border have begun again). So, for a few days, anyway, some families will be able to eat, though the raw sewage filling the streets does not, I'm guessing, help with digestion. Then again, eating stale bread in an outdoor toilet streamlines the consumption-to-waste process, saving precious water in the bargain. In a sense, what we're doing to Gaza is environmentally friendly, if you squint your eyes and shake your head back and forth enough times.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sick Oh . . .

Some kind of viral infection/flu has kept me semi-conscious since Sunday night, and only now am I able to stumble around, hold down fluids, and maybe, just maybe, ingest some solid food. I haven't been this sick in years, and brother, you can have it. Chaotic images crowding my clouded mind, every part of my body aching, head splitting in two, puking into a bag beside my couch. So, blogging and the book have been the least of my concerns.

At least I didn't go Heath Ledger. What a waste. Ledger was a terrific actor, just finding his stride with years ahead of him to polish his craft. As my favorite saying goes, death never takes the wise man by surprise, he is always ready to go.

My son and I have been anticipating "The Dark Knight," the next Batman film in which Ledger plays what is perhaps the most twisted Joker ever screened. Apparently, he went deep Method with this part, living in a hotel room, keeping a journal of crazy thoughts, listening to the Sex Pistols and watching "A Clockwork Orange." From the looks of the trailer, Ledger appears to have accomplished his lunatic clown goal.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Behind The Fractured Music

The teen and I have been rummaging through boxes of old photos recently, and I unearthed some candid shots from my illustrious past. Thought I'd take a break from the book and share, so you can get a better sense of who this dope truly is -- or was.




This is me, with my father and stepmother, from 1975, my junior year in high school. This is around the time that I moved from sports into theater, with comedy just on the horizon. Here, I'm doing some facial exercises, in line with the Method aesthetic.




One of the few pix of me in the Army, December 12, 1980. I'm being promoted to Sp4 by my boss, Frank Harris, and my commanding officer, LTC Lynn. Frank was a retired Army officer (a Captain, I believe), and one of the nicest, most supportive men I knew while in uniform. LTC Lynn was okay as officers went, but he seemed right out of the Phil Silvers show. A Sergeant who saw this pic said I looked stoned. Recalling some of the people I hung out with then, I probably was. America was never safer.




Kamakaze Radio, from our hottest period, where we sold out every show. (We replaced the "i" in kamikaze with an "a" as a homage to The Beatles.) This ran in the Indianapolis Star, just above a glowing review of our opening night. The reviewer wondered why I didn't come out for goodnights. I was backstage, kicking chairs and cursing up a storm, convinced that the show was a flop. It wasn't. I was simply immature and out of my mind.

I had a huge crush on Laure Spencer (misspelled by the paper), on whom I'm leaning in an oh-so wacky pose. But I was too young and callow for her, or something. Still, she possessed a light but commanding presence on stage, a real natural comedienne. It was a joy writing for her.

The rest of the cast was fine as well. This was KR's final revue before Jim Buck and I moved to NYC, looking for the big time.




But when Jim and I arrived in NYC, this was all we could afford -- on Norfolk Street, Lower East Side.. This shot is from late '82. We shared a one bedroom in this ratty building, populated by junkies, a few crazy people, and a smattering of young boho types like ourselves. We lived across the hall from a shooting gallery, where junkies would come and go at all hours of the night, pounding on the door, yelling for "TERR-YYYY!!" to let them in. I can still hear their coarse, smacked-out voices.

This building is long gone, replaced by a parking garage in a well-lit, gentrified neighborhood. The junkies are mere ghosts.




Here I am being threatened with a gun, though it looks more like a long index finger, on a tarmac somewhere on Long Island, 1985. This was a photo shoot for True Love, a romance mag for which my then girlfriend, Mary, often posed. She brought me along for this gig, which proved to be my only appearance in the romance press. I had hoped for a stellar career as a romance model, but LA called, and I moved west not long after.




Here's another shot with Mary. Man, was I crazy about her. She dumped me a few months later, for a Pan Am exec, if memory serves. The airplane behind us foreshadowed my romantic doom.




With my son during a break in shooting dust jacket photos for "Mr. Mike," early 1998. My editor didn't like the glasses and tie look, so I posed in a Byronesque black shirt, sans specs. One of those photos was ultimately used. Still, I kinda like this look. A friend told me I resembled a white Malcolm X. After that, I steered clear of ballrooms.




And finally, my father and younger brother Cole, from last summer. Believe it or not, I'm the quietest of the three. If you ever come to a Perrin family gathering, bring ear plugs.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Some Calm In The Storm

If you're feeling down or depressed; if this samsara world of brutal illusion is wearing you out; if you feel like crawling into a wood chipper and calling it a day, just remember: David Hasselhoff is out there. Sometimes, I feel like he's singing directly to me.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Syllogistic Hula Hex



Back in the tank for the final tome push. Jesus, this thing is actually coming together -- how well I'm too close to say, but my editor is happy so far, tapping his foot across the pond, waiting for the remaining chapters. So posting will be light for the next 14 days. And you were expecting another crazed assault on the Dems. Silly rabbits.

To my agitated liberal friends, many of whom see me in militia camo gear, fear not: I despise the Repubs as well, perhaps even more than you. So happy to see the depressed state I inhabit hand Mitt Romney a primary victory. Michigan is now Mittwit country. Yeah, we're walking a little taller today. Still, I think McCain might've done better had he dragged around a Vietnamese kid on a chain. There are countless POW/MIA bumper stickers and flags across the rural plain, and the revenge imagery would've played big. C'mon John -- are you gonna let that Smithite pretty boy ruin what is doubtless your final run? Work to your strengths!

Also, I've added Roseanne to the roll. Together, we set the big tent aflame.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

God Bless Godless Hollywood

For those who think me harsh and utterly cynical, here's something that nearly always makes me tear up: the closing scene from Hal Ashby's "Coming Home." I saw this when I first joined the Army, and it sorta sunk in. Then, after another year in uniform and a year's worth of history books and political mags absorbed, plus time working alongside a few Vietnam vets, I saw the film again, and it had me.

If you haven't seen "Coming Home," then me explaining who the characters are won't make much sense. This is one of the few films where I really like Jane Fonda, and Jon Voight's angry combat vet rings true (he reminds me a bit of my late uncle, a Navy vet who was also paralyzed while in uniform). Bruce Dern's hair is too long for a Marine, but hey, it was the late-70s. And you can spot Ashby in a brief cameo, as his car passes Fonda's on the highway.

No A Paulogies




Several readers, both directly and indirectly, have criticized my "defense" of Ron Paul's presidential campaign. Why so soft on a whacko righty? I'm asked. Is this a sign of further rightward drift? Don't I know any better?

Let me take a moment from stocking my basement with gold bars and automatic weapons to say for the record that I don't support Paul's campaign, and have no plans to vote for him, nor would I under existing conditions. I thought I'd made this plain in my original post when I confessed to having many differences with Paul's politics. Clearly, this didn't get across. So, I'll say it again: I have numerous problems with Ron Paul, and do not support his campaign.

Capice? Terrific.

The two points I was trying to express were: 1) liberal attacks on Paul's alleged racism, especially the New Republic's hit piece, have more to do with Paul's anti-imperial politics than with upholding Dr. King's dream; and 2) when it comes to statist abuses, I would side more with libertarians like Paul (though not exclusively Paul) than with most Dems, Hillary and Obama included. Of course, Paul is imperfect on the civil liberties front. His stances on immigration and abortion rights alone should make one wary. And his laissez-faire approach to economics would hand more power to corporations, given the present system. Thus, I don't view Paul as some kind of answer. Indeed, if the guy were ever elected to high office, I suspect that he'd either be weighed down by political/economic reality, which would negate most if not all of his plans, or he would crash ahead regardless, sending the system into chaos and shock. But this is all speculation. Ron Paul is not going to be president.

There are those lefties who do support Paul's campaign, seemingly undisturbed by his numerous faults. In some ways, pro-Paul lefties are essentially Leninist in their approach, looking to heighten the contradictions of the system, perhaps knowing that in the contemporary U.S., a radical from the right would gain more grassroots traction than one from what passes for the left. Others are so sick of the war that they'll back anyone who openly opposes imperialism, no matter where it originates. Given that the leading Dems, all rhetoric aside, embrace the war state, and that Paul's profile is higher and stated position much sharper than any other antiwar candidate, his campaign is attracting a lot of positive attention. Again, this is why TNR attacked him with what it had. Were Paul in Mike Gravel territory, he wouldn't inspire the same venom. He'd be ignored or laughed away.

I support no one for president. Not. A. Soul. No matter who takes the wheel later this year, the ship will remain on the same destructive course for quite some time. Enjoy shuffleboard and bingo while you can, and try not to spill your Mai Tai on the deck.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Pauling



The liberal attacks on Ron Paul, fueled by a recent hit piece in the New Republic, are so transparently cynical that it almost makes me smile.

Almost.

To quote James Ridgeway, liberals can be and often are the meanest motherfuckers around. Criticize any of their scared beliefs, then watch out. They'll come at you with anything they've got, doesn't matter if it's truthful, accurate, or even sane. American liberals truly feel that they are humanity's Final Word. If you dispute that, you're a bigot, a hater, a piece of slime that deserves only the nastiest treatment. And baby, you'll get it.

At issue is Ron Paul's supposed racism and queer-phobia, reflected in newsletters that bore his name. Paul has distanced himself from the newsletters, saying that others penned the toxic rhetoric, without his direct knowledge or approval. Maybe Paul's telling the truth. Maybe he's not. Maybe he really does despise those of darker hue and same-sexers. Maybe he's like the worst racist you've ever seen. Maybe he eats black children for breakfast.

Whatever Paul actually believes about minorities and queers is not the real concern here. What bothers liberals, TNR's James Kirchik among them, is that Paul is the only presidential candidate who is seriously running against the state. This includes anti-imperialism and calls to end the Drug War. Given that Hillary and Obama are nowhere near this mindset -- quite the opposite -- means that anyone who is must be a bad person. If those newsletters didn't exist, hit men like Kirchik and the libloggers who support him would find something else to smear Paul with. Because, at bottom, they oppose any dismantling of the war state (recall Kos' shitting all over Kucinich). They simply want their preferred candidates to run the machine instead.

For TNR, there's another angle to its anti-Paul attack: Israel. Paul wants to end U.S. military aid to Israel, and is critical of Israeli aggression (he's also critical of Hezbollah and Hamas, but that doesn't count). This simply won't do for Democrats and many liberals, who either support Israeli violence and occupation, or are at best mum on the topic. When Israeli fighter jets were pounding Lebanon in 2006, it took weeks for leading libloggers to type the slightest negative word, which for them was "disproportionate." It was okay to bury Lebanese in rubble, just so long as it wasn't too much rubble. By opposing this and other uses of American tax dollars to kill and maim Arabs, Ron Paul shows that he's probably anti-Semitic as well.

The funny thing about TNR attacking Paul for being racist is that TNR has published plenty of racist musings itself. Martin Peretz alone contributed much of this, his belief that the "primitive" Palestinians are genetically and culturally incapable of achieving peace (for which no one is to blame, added Peretz in a tender moment) merely one of many racist screeds that TNR had no problem pushing. Then there was former editor Andrew Sullivan inviting Charles Murray to explain at length his "Bell Curve" theory in TNR's pages, a decision that Sullivan defended by writing, "The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief." Of course not. Ron Paul, on the other hand . . .

I might be mistaken, but so far as I know, Ron Paul has not left the campaign trail to oversee the killing of a black man. Liberal hero Bill Clinton did in 1992, flying back to Arkansas from New Hampshire to witness Rickey Ray Rector take the lethal needle. (Since Clinton was our first black president, did that constitute black-on-black violence?) Clinton also expanded the police and prison state, in which a large number of African-Americans are trapped, and shredded the safety net for the poor, among whom reside many African-Americans. Does this make Bill Clinton a racist? Hush yo' mouf!

Racism isn't Paul's only sin. According to Kirchik, those newsletters exhibited acute paranoia:

"[S]pecifically, the brand of anti-government paranoia that festered among right-wing militia groups during the 1980s and '90s. Indeed, the newsletters seemed to hint that armed revolution against the federal government would be justified. In January 1995, three months before right-wing militants bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, a newsletter listed 'Ten Militia Commandments,' describing 'the 1,500 local militias now training to defend liberty' as 'one of the most encouraging developments in America.' It warned militia members that they were 'possibly under BATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] or other totalitarian federal surveillance' and printed bits of advice from the Sons of Liberty, an anti-government militia based in Alabama--among them, 'You can't kill a Hydra by cutting off its head,' 'Keep the group size down,' 'Keep quiet and you're harder to find,' 'Leave no clues,' 'Avoid the phone as much as possible,' and 'Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.'"

Yikes. Scary stuff. Sane people know that there is no American surveillance state -- or there wasn't one during the hallowed Clinton era, when all that crazy militia activity was taking place. According to liberal history, police state measures (torture, too) only occur during Republican presidencies, the past seven years being the most recent example. For Paul's newsletter to say otherwise is simple lunacy.

I'll tell you this: I've studied various strands of American right wing political philosophy and beliefs, and have had many conversations with rightists of different temperaments, and when it comes to seriously defending First and Fourth Amendment rights (what remain, anyway), I'll stand with libertarians like Ron Paul. I may not agree with most of his beliefs, nor that of the anti-statist right overall, but I know that Paul and others like him aren't looking to tap my phone or break down my door in the middle of the night. Think the Branch Davidians were paranoid?




Then vote Hillary or Obama. And sleep tight.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cry Me A River Of Blood




It might've been nice had Hillary Clinton wept on camera before, say, when told of the children roasted at Waco, or when shown evidence of her husband's role in strangling Iraqis, or when told of her husband's help in slaughtering Kurds, or when Lebanese and Gazans were blasted by Israeli firepower, or when she voted to have more Iraqis killed. Nothing but dry eyes and applause for the violence. So you'll pardon me if I don't get too worked up over Hillary's tears, shed ostensibly for our glorious homeland and her desire to take us to the mountain top.

Hillary Clinton has blood on her hands, and is looking to keep her fingers a rich, moist crimson. I have zero compassion for her, and that narcissistic display about how "hard" it is running for imperial manager was one of the more nauseating sights I've seen in this whole wretched campaign. That liberals buy into it doesn't surprise me, given their strange attachment to the Clintons over the years, but it does sadden me. And now that Hillary is back in the race, at least for now, there'll doubtless be more hideous, self-centered spectacles to come, with libloggers wagging their fingers at the sexist corporate media, warbling about gender bias, Beltway jealousies, and related gossip games.

Next stop, Michigan, where Hillary is running virtually unopposed. The poor thing.

Is it any wonder why we're the envy of the world?

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crate Expectations

Reading about this endless election is a lot like crawling through wet sand with a cement block on your back. Apart from the wonk takes, where the tiniest policy position is pure mother's meth, accounts about the remaining candidates range from the semi-religious to the snarkiest celebrity dish, all of it mind-numbing.

You wouldn't know how deeply buried in corpse-choked shit we are, rattling about in our respective veal crates, looking for any distraction from the slaughterhouse on the hill. Right wingers are divided, awaiting to see how the post-Bush fall out will affect them. Liberals are anxiously dreaming, insisting that it's their birthright to have a Dem prez elected this year, and when that happens -- and it must happen, do you hear, it MUST HAPPEN -- the universe will begin to right itself. At least, they hope that's the case. Contemporary American liberalism is all about hope. They turn their sad cow eyes to their keepers, trusting that the blades being sharpened aren't intended for their throats.

Little wonder that Obama has most of them spellbound. His oratory is sweet music among the crates, bovine heads bobbing to the beat. Hillary simply spooks the room, putting everyone on edge, even though, if it comes down to it, the veal libs will take her over any GOP keeper. But Obama spins a much gentler yarn, elevating captive moods while keeping all in place. He's the most logical choice to run the abattoir for the next four-to-eight years.

To those who admonish me for being so pessimistic, what can I tell you? I didn't chose this mood, for it eats away at me and drains my creative energy. If I truly believed that there was a real chance for change in this election, brothers and sisters, I'd be out there waving my placard. But our imperial system does not require change, merely an executive who can help run it more efficiently. Obama is emerging as that executive. Like Reagan and Bill Clinton, Obama becomes who you want him to be, at least in your own head. That's an important political gift. Bush was and is too polarizing. A system based on lies, theft, alienation, and murder needs a steadier hand. That's what the Obama campaign is all about. He has arrived at the perfect time. The guy may very well pull it off.

I've been watching the first season of "Enterprise," the most recent offering from the Star Trek franchise. I enjoyed the original series, as well as "The Next Generation," but after that, I lost interest. "Voyager" and "Deep Space Nine" put me to sleep. "Enterprise" grabbed me because it dramatizes the dawn of human intergalactic exploration, which in Star Trek time is the mid-22nd century. I've always liked the beginning of narratives, and in "Enterprise" we see how awkward the first human space steps are. The crew is helped by a Vulcan officer, who naturally looks down on humans, but must smooth their path since they are now part of the deep space community.

The interesting thing about "Enterprise" is that it takes place before the James T. Kirk/Spock era, and so cannot appear more advanced than the show from the 1960s. Impossible to do -- the computers alone make the original show's consoles look like Mattel toys. But as with most science fiction, one must ignore such unavoidable contradictions. (Time travel narratives, my favorite sci-fi genre, are contradiction fests.) I suppose what I like best about the whole Star Trek franchise is the conceit that humans somehow, some way, rid themselves of war, famine, greed, money, and united to explore space. This was never fully explained (though "Enterprise" hints at Vulcan influence, as that stiff, logical species advised humans for 90 years, until they were ready to blast off), and perhaps cannot be explained. Again, sci-fi doesn't have to make total sense to entertain.

I recently watched the "Fridays" episode that William Shatner hosted in 1981. It's a pretty solid show, the running gag being that James Kirk is thrown back in time to the ABC lot in Hollywood, and until Spock can fix the situation, Kirk must pass for Shatner, performing in sketches, dealing with the cast backstage, etc. When Spock informs Kirk of what year he's in, Kirk explodes, "You've got to get me back! This culture was insane!"

"They're your ancestors, Captain," Spock calmly replies.

And so we are.

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Barack Would Approve

Since many American liberals are in such a happy mood today, I dedicate this video to them. Conceived by Joey Manderino and David Young, it accurately nails how libs see politics as a means to feel good about themselves. And that's what really counts, right?

Note the beaming couple in front of the fridge. Obama supporters to a T -- or O, as the case might be.

Saints Preserve Us




There are few things more nauseating than American liberals giddy over politicians. Their worst features rise to the surface and emit an acrid stench, perfume to the faithful, noxious to the rest. Saint Obama's victory in Iowa has many online libs on their knees today, hands stretched upward to the light, dopey gleam on their faces, tongues wagging uncontrollably. Most lib worshipers are interchangeable in their hosannas; but Ezra Klein of the American Prospect takes it a bit higher on the mountain:

"Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence."

Phew. Will someone please open a fucking window on the way out?

If Pastor Klein's sermon is any indication of how libloggers are going to speak as the campaign drags on, then oxygen masks will be required for the duration.

I suppose the one good thing about Iowa is that Hillary finished third. Not that this will stop her. Quite the opposite. The Clintons are serious pit bulls, and finishing just behind John Edwards of all people will only intensify her power quest. Recall that husband Bill finished fourth in '92 with a whopping three percent. Didn't stop Bubba from ripping out throats to the White House.

For now, we must endure the liberal revivalist clamor, since the faithful truly believe that This Is Their Time. No point in talking to them. Just smile, move slowly, and always keep an exit in clear sight.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Scablicious




The late night hosts are back, praise Paramatman, though only two, David Letterman and Craig Ferguson, are union sanctioned, as Letterman's production company struck an interim deal with the Writers Guild of America. Leno, Conan, and Kimmel returned minus their scribes, ostensibly to help those non-WGA staffers affected by the strike, but in reality to keep their corporate bosses from losing more ad revenue, and stem the hemorrhage of viewers watching, or worse, doing something else.

While Leno and Conan made all the right noises about supporting the strike, even though they are WGA members and have crossed the picket line to work, Jimmy Kimmel, ever the rebel, called the strikers "ridiculous" for picketing NBC. Now, no one's gonna confuse Kimmel with Big Bill Haywood, but it certainly doesn't help the writers' cause when a host openly derides their efforts. "Solidarity" is clearly not in Kimmel's vocabulary. But then, what the fuck does he care, so long as he gets paid? Identify with and front for the suits and you will not lose income -- that is, until they tire of your act and desire something cheaper to produce.

Whether or not the WGA gets what it deserves from this strike, the return of the late night scab shows, with liberal icons Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert about to cross the line as well, reflects the power corporations enjoy, and highlights the apolitical nature of most consumers, cynically catered to by the hosts. Writers are the most needed, and thus most despised, workers in the industry. If producers and corporate managers could eliminate writers without losing audience share or ad revenue, they would in an instant, then take lunch. They're already robbing writers wherever they can. Why not take the next logical step and be rid of any added drain on their wallets?

But that's not gonna happen, not anytime soon. Some kind of arrangement will be worked out with the WGA, doubtless one not favorable to the writers. Spinners of concepts are no match for makers of big business deals. On the privately-owned entertainment plantation, writers are forever in the fields.

Since Kimmel is a big fan of Letterman, here's a Top Ten list devoted solely to him:

TOP TEN JIMMY KIMMEL TRAITS

10. Eyes glaze over when polysyllables are used

9. Crank yanks cancer survivors

8. Believes that a football is pork

7. Usually drunk while on camera

6. Thinks that Filipinos make "awesome house pets"

5. Considers Ben Stein a rational, political observer

4. Jerks off to Sarah Silverman jumping on a trampoline

3. After hours dog fight referee

2. Dreams that one day, Letterman will call him "Master"

1. Scabs for kicks!

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