Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alone In The Bone Orchard




She woke to a wall of cleansing fire, distant trees cindered, the emerging dawn drowned in rising smoke. She walked out to greet the flames, so beautiful, pure, finally here. She had dreamt of this moment since childhood, smiling as the blackened grass spread to her bare feet, a tickle, some pain, then immersion. She collapsed into charred bone and ash. The fire moved on. Her dreams did not lie.

Another month of this endless, dreadful election. Like dragging dead cows through wet shit and mud. Maybe I should be amazed by how excited and energized many observers remain, reacting to the tiniest items, looking for any angle to celebrate and promote their tribal leaders. But that would be wasted energy. Still, how sad and sick it is that these jabbering proles have convinced themselves that their opinions and concerns matter to the main players, especially in the current financial maelstrom. The more contemptuously they are treated, the more servile they become.

Michael Moore adds to this madness by telling his fans to phone Obama and Congressional Dems and give them all a good talking to. This after listing numerous instances where the Dems actively assisted the Bush gang, an open, bipartisan assault on whatever "civil" society exists. According to Mike, "THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM." His caps, not mine. But hey, when you're peddling fiction such as this, you need all the velocity that mere words can muster.

What's particularly annoying during these periods is how powerless people adopt the language and concepts of their masters. The corporate loudspeakers tell us how "special" and even "sacred" presidential elections are, a system of top-down ratification that becomes more mystical as the final day nears. This is continually drilled into us, and despite mountains of rotting evidence to the contrary, countless people buy into it and believe they have a personal say in the process. This was clearly evident when McCain "suspended" his campaign and spoke about not attending the first "debate." The corporate press pissed all over McCain for his stunt -- not that anchors and pundits are inherently opposed to political stunts, just that this specific stunt could've affected their ratings, which fatten during election years. Obama naturally joined in, as did his followers, hooting from the cheap seats, as if their voices can be heard on the main stage.

Well, McCain played them all as well as could be expected, and I seriously doubt he had any intention of missing that first debate. I really wish he had. Nothing I enjoy more than spending 90 minutes watching two chumps try to out-warrior each other. If there was some direct physical action, some demonstration of pain endurance, that would be different (not to mention more profitable for the networks). Instead, all we got were blustering promises of violence to come.

Snooze button time.

Still, I'm glad that Obama showed who he really is, an energetic, sometimes eloquent servant of empire, agreeing with McCain about NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, calling Venezuela a "rogue" nation, pumping Iran up to monstrous proportions, etc. There was also the requisite Kill Bin Laden moment, as if icing that figurehead would have any real effect on the Terror Wars, apart from a short-lived propaganda spike. Bin Laden serves as a boogeyman piñata that Obama keeps whacking, hoping to see votes pour out once it breaks. He needn't swing so hard. Obama could announce later today that he supports public beheadings for "terrorists," and his liberal choir would sing their approval, however edgy it may make them personally. Once you embrace Joe Biden, anything's possible. Remember, this ticket is the "humane" option. What better cover for ongoing brutality?

While browsing in a local bookstore recently, I noticed that a number of anti-Bush items, playing cards, coasters, 1/20/09 gear, were on sale, many slashed down to practically nothing. We're nearing the end of the Hate Bush industry, and it's been a profitable one for liberals, despite their distaste for the man himself. Indeed, it was their distaste that sold. Say what you will about Bush -- he moved liberal product, much more than Ronald Reagan ever did, whose final days in office swiftly evaporated to little fanfare. Not so Bush. And as their reactionary cousins do with Bill Clinton, liberals will continue to hate Bush for years to come, perhaps forever. Unless McCain is elected, dies, and Sarah Palin becomes president. I'm certain some liberal hustler is already preparing for that possibility. Can I interest you in a 1/20/13 ball cap?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Approve This Message

I don't know how I'll vote, or even if I'll vote, come November 4. But of all the campaign ads I've seen to date, this is easily the most inspired. (Thanks to Noah Zweig and old friend Sam Husseini for bringing the below to my attention.)

Promised Land Inc.




God, I'm happy that the election is over. So motherfucking ecstatic. Finally, I can turn away from this disagreeable topic and concentrate on painting my collection of erotic Hummel figurines.

It is over, yes? I mean, based on all the crowing and strutting in various liberal corners, that's the picture I'm forming. And if there's anything truly solid in this sad world, it's gotta be liberal prognostication. Then again, I saw much of the same leading up to Kerry's defeat last time around. I worked in the local Kerry/Edwards office on election day, and the head libs could barely contain their glee about the coming victory -- until darkness fell, and the numbers began rolling in.

But maybe online libs are right this time. Maybe McCain's tactic to delay his shared press conference with Obama is a sign of desperation by the GOP, that their sacrificial candidate is essentially through. Wouldn't surprise me. Yet it seems that liberals are too aggressively confident, that all the celebratory noise covers a raw fear that the Repubs will once again find a way to squeeze in. There's a meanness as well, which, should Obama win, will become state-sanctioned. An Obama administration will stir up seriously twisted reactionary opinion and action, much harsher than what poor Bill Clinton endured. For all the talk about holding Obama's feet to the fire from a "progressive" angle, the right wing assault will practically guarantee an across-the-board liberal defense of The President (enunciated as on "The West Wing"). It's pretty much already here.

I think that McCain is employing every trick he knows or has heard of in order to win this thing. He hasn't come this far to suddenly throw in the towel. His "leadership" bit is both transparent and inspired. It gives Obama a slight opening, but he's still forced to match McCain's "concern" for the present crisis. McCain is making Obama react to him while he dominates the news cycle. It also bolsters the fiction of Maverick McCain -- what's a mere debate, which you can have any time, when the very nation is at stake? Senator Obama, just what are your priorities? The election? Or your country?

Whatever works. This election is taking place during a very anxious and unusual period. McCain's people clearly understand this and are acting accordingly. Obama wants to stick to the script, as do his followers. It's Their Turn to rule, so what's with all this cancelling debates bullshit?

Let's see how it shakes down. Forty days is a Bosch-like year in American politics.

Speaking of Better Tomorrows, Joe Biden's recent speech at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal was at once shameless and utterly revealing. His attack on McCain for backing the Iraq invasion was a howler, given Biden's own culpability on that front. But as I've said, every tactic must be tried, no matter how ridiculous or potentially self-defeating. Thank God there's no real democracy, or some of this rhetoric might prove damaging. As it is, candidates can spout pretty much anything, since real power lies elsewhere, content to finance the circus but wise enough to know that the cages are secure.

Lest anyone think that Biden was flirting with pacifism, he added, "Iran is much closer to the bomb; its influence in Iraq is expanding; its terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon; its ally, Hamas controls Gaza and launches rockets at Israel. Beyond bluster, what would John McCain actually do about these dangers? He doesn’t say."

McCain the pussy? That's an interesting jab. Finer still is the promise that an Obama/Biden administration will do something "about these dangers." Of that I've no doubt. And should that balloon go up, what will Obama's fan base say or do? Somehow the words "feet" and "fire" aren't coming to mind.

You'd think that at a time like this, "Savage Mules" would thrive, or at least provoke some debate. But as you know, most lib outlets want nothing to do with my critique, and have no stomach to engage me directly. Their choice, of course. Perhaps my moment was meant to be brief. With "Mules," I flicked a spitball into a sea of flame. Not even a puff of smoke. Well, at least I still have my Hummel tribute to Plato's Retreat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Savage Tools




My old pub crawling pal Juan Cole vented the other day about the US being a "nation of masochists." It was one of his livelier posts, fueled by the growing fear that McCain will be the next president. Being a somewhat partisan Dem, Juan naturally lays much of America's sorry condition at the GOP's filthy feet. He's mostly right, but does skim over the crucial assistance that the mules have handed the Bush gang at practically every turn. If liberals are freaked by McCain's staying power, they can thank their Party's key players for giving the veteran gook killer the oxygen he needs to win. And let's not forget that liberals are usually the biggest masochists around.

Still, I don't think that "masochism" fully applies here. Ignorance, fear, and delusion play major roles as well. This morning's New York Times reports that a DC reactionary group, Freedom's Defense Fund (don't that git yer nipples all hard'n tight?), is running ads in Michigan's Macomb County, portraying Obama as essentially a terror-happy Islamonigger who, once in office, will rip off his moderate mask and steer this fine Christian nation toward ruin and oblivion. That's the gist I get, anyway. Like so many liberals, numerous reactionaries appear to believe that Obama's not a willing servant of capital and empire, but that he harbors a secret self, saying what he must in order to be elected. Come Inauguration Day, the Real Obama emerges, which for liberals is a progressive patriot channeling FDR, and for right wingers, a treasonous surrendercrat, wiping Iranian and North Korean asses with Old Glory.

We knew this was coming, eh kids? And it's not even October yet! I can't wait to see what kind of shit surfaces over the next month.

I'm sure that those reactionary ads will sway white Michiganders already leaning in that sordid direction. Visual aids help racist appeals, smearing Obama's non-white face all over the screen. Here in liberal Ann Arbor, McCain bumper stickers and lawn signs are steadily growing in number, a few of which are on my quiet block. I don't know what this means for Obama, but it can't be good. Juan has doubtless noticed this as well, hence his alarm. But really -- given our history and who we are as Americans, is any of this really surprising?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Freedom At Point Zero



John McCain is suffering from a cancerous growth on his right side, says a medical adviser to his campaign. Numerous attempts to have the tumor removed have been unsuccessful, and it is feared that if elected, McCain will carry the cancer well into his first term.



Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, looking to inject a little fun into the ongoing financial meltdown, force struggling homeowners to guess which Senator is holding token foreclosure assistance.



Not to be outdone, Sarah Palin plays a rousing game of "Who Wants Some Insulin?" at a Diabetic Patriots For McCain rally.



Always the straight shooter, Joe Biden informs suffering consumers that he has nothing for them, apart from his undying contempt for their very existence.



Preparing for the possibility that he may lose the election, Barack Obama helps liberal followers rehearse what campaign aides are calling "The People's Temple Option," which guarantees no post-election hangover.



While campaigning for McCain, Rudy Giuliani reminds the public that he is a complete and utter asshole.



In a desperate attempt to make older white voters more comfortable with his candidacy, Barack Obama has begun imitating Sammy Davis, Jr. Here he sings "I've Got To Be Me" at the annual Frank Sinatra Scungilli Bake Off.



Unmoved by Obama's act, these McCain supporters say they prefer Trace Adkins.



No matter who wins the election, Obama and McCain both insist that they share the same view of the American public.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Forgive Us Now For Wasting The Dawn




My father phoned yesterday, pissed about the present economic mess (he's a Wall Street Journal reader with a calculator in his head). Yet he's optimistic about Obama being elected and clearing away some of the wreckage. Dad's so hyped on Obama that I don't have the heart to seriously disagree. This is a guy who voted twice for Reagan, and prospered under Clinton. Either he's moved a little left of center, or the center's moved rightward. I can never really tell. In the end, the ownership stays intact, serving the same minority, trying to expand and strengthen American hegemony. So getting all squishy over Obama or whomever falls more into celeb worship territory.

The old man laughed and said, "I've been reading your blog, son. It's pretty funny. You read it and think, "Jesus, I'm gonna cut my wrists!'"

Who says words lack impact?

But my father is right. I have been a downer of late. I've attracted a lot of new readers over the summer, so they may not know that my mood changes without warning, that a bleak rant can be followed by absurdist observations, or just cheap visual gags. If you're new to the site and wonder how wide the rain cloud is over my head, please be patient. My emotions will shift. Unlike other bloggers, I wear my work on my sleeve. I suppose I could be more "professional" and maintain a rigid neutral mask, or more lucrative, pretend that I love the Democrats and Obama, and lend my talents to making liberals feel better about their prospects, however unlikely or fictitious. There's plenty of money to be made by saying that what ought to be true, is. As I've mentioned before, a few professional lib friends continually scratch their heads, wondering why I don't play this game. One recently opined that I could be "bigger than Greenwald" if I suddenly saw the bright mule light, and fell in with the liblog crowd.

We'll never know, will we?

No my friends -- you are stuck with this humble narrator, whose work is on the verge of some kind of change. Not quite sure what, but it's coming. I feel it more each day. Late at night I tap out extensive, frenzied notes, most of which make no sense until days later, and I ponder who the fuck would confess such insanity, and what happened in their life to create so much emotional turmoil.

You know -- stuff like that.

For the moment, I'm still Mr. Savage Mules, though that's begun to wane, unless there's an unseen wave of appearances about to consume me. My publisher doesn't want me to air this publicly, but the truth is that many liberal or Dem-leaning outlets are backing away from me and my book. Their mad desire to elect Obama, plus the possibility that he may lose, makes them wary of, if not openly hostile to my critique.

Last night, I was to give a reading at a local liberal bookstore just off the main UMich campus. This gig was confirmed in late June by all involved. Then my interview with Glenn Greenwald appeared at Salon; within two days, the bookstore suddenly discovered that they had double-booked September 18.

Whoops!

Would I mind moving the reading to November 20, weeks after the election? Actually, I would mind, I told them through my publicist, and that their "snafu" was bullshit. If you think my reading would in any way hurt Obama's ascension, why not be honest and simply admit it? I don't possess magical powers, and I doubt that many of the college students attending would be swayed by my criticisms, judging from the big Obama love on local display. Hell, it might make a lively event, with plenty of heated discussion back and forth. But the bookstore, which I promised to keep anonymous, continued to pretend that it was a scheduling error. Still, given all that, I may take the later date, but only if Obama wins. Should McCain triumph, I doubt that me trashing the Democrats in that sad wake would go over very well.

I would love to mix it up in the coming weeks. If nothing else, it will further sicken and push me toward another form of writing, or whatever lies beyond this immediate mindset. I wish I could tell you what it is, but I haven't the faintest. Just the person needed to dissect our present condition.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Patriotic Clowns




Are there more oppressed or ridiculed members of society than right wing Hollywood players? I'm sure there might be a few, but if so, their ability to publicly make their sad case is decidedly insufficient. Not so the Hollywood right. Yes, their love for George W. Bush and John McCain brands them in an unforgiving town. But somehow, they are able to make ends meet, while effectively transmitting their dissident message to the outside world.

One of these samizdat transmissions, "An American Carol," will soon be on some 2,000 American movie screens. Directed by David Zucker, the film, from what I've seen, is an attack on Michael Moore, who is haunted into worshipping the flag, allowing his inner-nationalist to boldly, proudly emerge. Zucker wanted Dan Whitney to play Moore, and I'm sorry this didn't happen. That would've recommended the film right there, as anyone who's watched Whitney in "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" could tell you. Instead, Zucker settled for Kevin Farley, brother of Chris, who, based on the clips available, is essentially doing his late brother's shtick. Good thing that "An American Carol" is a comedy, or this casting might've been disastrous. The plot itself sounds inspired. Jon Voight as George Washington; Kelsey Grammer as George Patton, the ghosts of whom push Moore toward patriotism.

"When George Washington takes [Moore] to the World Trade Center," right after 9/11, says Grammer, "it made me cry."

Finally, some decent satire in American film.

How well will "An American Carol" do? It looks dopey enough to rake in some serious dough, especially from those white men and women who feel stifled by Political Correctness. Cultural self-pity usually sells, if marketed shrewdly. Too bad Zucker's film was made before Josh Howard displayed his hatred of the National Anthem. In a recently released video, shot at a charity event over the summer, the Dallas Mavericks star quipped, "'The Star-Spangled Banner' is going on. I don't celebrate this shit. I'm black."

Oh man, how sweet would it be to see Jon Voight's Washington, a slave owner, rub Howard's face in the rubble at Ground Zero, giving him a lesson in proper white manners? "I'ze sees it now, Massuh George!" Howard could reply, his tattered slave clothing morphing into top hat and tails. "I'ze gots so much freedoms in my feets, I'ze just gots t'dance!" Old Glory rises above the wreckage as Howard performs an inspired tap routine, with Washington smiling and clapping in time.

"A laugh out loud comedy that makes you proud to be an American," raves Michael Medved. Kelsey Grammer adds, "When the disrespectful slave becomes a patriotic tap dancer, it made me cry."

In the director's cut, Abe Lincoln (Tom Selleck) kicks off a star spangled rave, playing twin turntables as the spirits of the 9/11 dead dance their way into Heaven, where God (Arnold Schwarzenegger) high-fives and chest bumps each upon entry. Meanwhile, the Muslim hijackers (various Arab and Latino actors thankful to get any paying job) are sent straight to Hell, as Satan (Adam Sandler, in a nod to his film "Little Nicky") prepares a post-life feast of roast pork and cheap whiskey, served by leather-masked gay men with AIDS.

Who says conservatives aren't funny? Can't wait for the DVD.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ghost Of Satire Past




Sarah Palin has helped push Tina Fey a few more rungs up the celebrity ladder. The moment Palin was unveiled as McCain's sidekick, Fey's name was mentioned across the spectrum, for obvious, physical reasons. Always happy to give the audience what it wants, SNL predictably featured its former head writer and Update anchor in last Saturday's cold open, the video of which is everywhere online.

I've received a number of emails asking, "Wasn't Fey great as Palin? Didn't she nail her to the wall?"

Yeah, I suppose. Imitations are easy, perhaps the laziest form of comedy, much less what passes for parody. Fey was already nine-tenths there on looks alone. Affect a pinched, northern accent, and you've got it. What SNL did once Fey got it was the typical lighthearted, breezy bit the show is known for -- shape the caricature (Palin's a perky dope) and repeat it ad nauseum, which I expect will happen with Fey's Palin throughout the election season. Palin's camp naturally said that the candidate found Fey amusing, and I've no doubt that Palin herself will appear on SNL in the near future.

This is network "satire," 2008. A comedy celeb gently imitating an emerging political celeb, who could very well be the next vice-president. Nothing too sharp or penetrating. Nothing that exposes the criminality just beneath the false, bleached smiles. Whatever it might have been a thousand years ago, SNL is currently part of the propaganda process, not making public figures uncomfortable, but making its audience comfortable with public figures. The routines are repeated all over the news channels and online, which drives home the perception that it's all in good fun, that those who seek to rule us aren't all bad, especially if they laugh along with the comics portraying them.

Michael O'Donoghue used to tell me how socially acceptable comedy was killing real satire. Comics wanted money and fame, and pissing on powerful people was not the surest route to success. As much as I admired -- hell, worshipped him, there were times when I thought that Michael was stuck in his National Lampoon past. I wanted him to write for the present. But Michael was worn down, aghast at what was considered "satirical," fearing that his style of cut-throat humor was passé, or worse, being dumbed down for wider appeal. No wonder he kept going back to that room where the likes of Doug Kenney, Henry Beard, Anne Beatts, George Trow, Sean Kelly, and Brian McConnachie were throwing knives with frightening accuracy. How do you maintain that kind of satirical aggression in a thoroughly corrupt era, where the jesters eagerly kiss their masters' asses?

Michael, you're not missing anything.

Today's clowns toss Nerf balls in a cluster bomb age. Don't hold your breath for "The Afghan Baby Book."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Infinite Mess

What drives writers to suicide? In David Foster Wallace's case, deep, relentless depression, according to his family. Sad fucking ending. His wife finds him hanged. I've never understood that exit strategy. I'm too afraid of choking, I suppose. Why not pills and booze? Classic combo. Pass out and don't wake up. Hanging seems like it would seriously hurt before you die. Maybe that's its allure.

Unlike literate others, I never really got into Wallace's work. I respected his imagination, which was complex and vast, and appreciated his sense of humor, though it was too studied and academic for my taste. And all those footnotes, like Chomsky with a joke file. Nicholson Baker used this device with tighter economy in "The Mezzanine," yet it was Wallace who set the rambling tone for those young writers who worshipped and imitated him. But for all of his influence and critical praise, Wallace ended up teaching creative writing at a small college. Hey, a gig's a gig, and I certainly wouldn't reject a teaching job (which I'll never snag, having no degree); yet it seems like a slow death of its own, passing judgment on unrefined work you wouldn't touch unless there was a paycheck attached. Wrestling with one's own writing and inner-demons is taxing enough. Trying to impart this on those who in most cases lack the gift, the fire, the need, is a kind of insanity.

Ah, fuck it. Looking around, it's no crazier than everything else.

Wallace checked out at an interesting, potentially devastating time. Wall Street's in flames, Bush is sending troops into Pakistan, ushering in the Obama Doctrine before its namesake can do the honors, the resource wars are heating up, as is the next Cold War, with the spectacle of Russian ships in the Caribbean, a floating middle finger to NATO. Our owners offer us a "choice" between an eloquent speaker who appears increasingly lost and out of his depth, and an angry old man who seemingly longs for one final battle, smoking ruins over which he can declare "victory" before dying, passing the show on to a Bronze Age amateur. There's a lot of consternation among Serious Folks regarding Sarah Palin's lack of governing experience and her shallow understanding of the world. Should she somehow become president would be the ultimate joke and crowning absurdity, a fitting punishment for our many crimes.

This is why so many people are straining and sweating to get Obama elected. They're trying to stave off the inevitable by sticking Senator Change in front of the landslide, hoping for the best. From the anxious expression on Obama's face, this is merely a weak stalling tactic. We're in the middle of an astonishing mess, with the worst yet to come. Maybe David Foster Wallace felt he could no longer satirize reality. No one can anymore, but some of us are too thick to realize this, or too sickened to even care. As for me, I keep tapping out these screeds, stupid smile on my aging face. As much as I despise all this, I remain curious to see where it goes. I have a pretty good idea already, but guessing the ending has rarely stopped me from watching the film. Pop a cold one and pass the chips.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Prez Cred




How did you spend your 9/11 anniversary? Save for those intimately affected, it's become a pseudo-day of mourning, background noise to the bullshit parade.

I briefly thought about the various times I was either inside or atop the Twin Towers, or underneath, staring up those slightly curved glass spines. Architecturally, they were uninspired, as 70s as plastic pants. But they were the first identifiable symbols I saw when I first hit New York, lit up at night, right outside my Lower East Side bedroom window. A good luck charm, of sorts. So when I watched them collapse, pulverizing all those people inside, I felt instantly empty and horrified. It seemed to cement my exile in Michigan, making me feel even sicker. Smoky clouds covered lower Manhattan, the nation was about to go nuts, and I threw up in my mouth, held it, then choked it back down.

I concede that mine was not the worst reaction. Not by a mad dog's throw.

That lovely memory rose and faded fast, making way for the real meaning of 9/11 -- the brightest green light for the worst in humanity, or as chum Jon Schwarz gently puts it, an "enormous opportunity." Those murderous lunatics on the planes brought to the surface what was already forming, a 21st century police state integrated with global capital rackets. The pretense of "Constitutional protections" finally given its last rites. I don't know if global elites privately celebrate every 9/11, but they should. They've always been able to do whatever the fuck they wanted, but now it's right in our faces. And apart from some kind of social uprising or genuine political upheaval, neither of which seems in the offing, there's really not much We The People can do about it.

Against this grim backdrop, the presidential sweepstakes appears more ridiculous than ever. Of course the candidates had to say their requisite prayers over the 9/11 dead, posthumous props for their respective power grabs. The GOP's political necrophilia is more inspired, and thus more tasteless, than what the Dems offer, but then, the mule party always seems hesitant to get Grand Guignol. As I've been saying in recent interviews, I don't know why this is, considering the Dems' rich, murderous legacy. At times I think Democrats are like Don Knotts: "The Shakiest State Terrorist In The West." They'll eventually kill you, but given all the bumbling before the act, it seems like a miracle that they can.

I think this is why Obama can't shake McCain. For all of his soaring rhetoric and historic purpose, he's now entering crunch time, and some stress is starting to show. Obama doesn't look like a guy who can whip your ass, and for countless Americans, that's a bad sign. Granted, Nixon didn't appear all that imposing, but he surrounded himself with known gangsters and con men, which beefed up his profile. McCain's old, yet he gives the impression that he'd get in a few solid shots, maybe bite off a piece of your ear or nose, before you finally took him out. And Sarah Palin? The woman looks crazed, and kills large animals from a fucking helicopter! A lot of Americans clearly love that, and on this front, Obama can't compete. All he has is Joe Biden playing Harold Hill from "The Music Man." Not the sidekick you want when boasting about your desire to kill hajji scum.

I believe that Obama can and will murder his share of poor people, but I'm not the one he needs to convince. As days go by, the prospect of a McCain/Palin administration seems more and more realistic. Obama better start strangling badgers if he wants to win this thing.

MORE ME: For those who can't get enough uplift. At Lenin's Tomb.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fricked In The Head




Most comedians and comedy writers know dick about politics, to the degree they bother thinking about the topic. (There are exceptions, of course, my dear pal Barry Crimmins being the most prominent.) When funny boys and girls try to talk policy, they tend to stay well within mainstream constructs, acting as if we live in a participatory democracy, however compromised or corrupted.

A few get really worked up. A friend who'll stay nameless told me of his time on Janeane Garofalo's old Air America show. After each political pronouncement, usually shouted into the mike, Garofalo would pump her fist in the air, even though her listeners couldn't see it. She dramatically affirmed her opinions to herself, which were the standard Dem apologetics spewed on that awful "progressive" network. My friend thought she looked crazy. Who -- Janeane?

I thought of this while reading Adam McKay's five-alarm warning to his fellow mules at Huffington Post. McKay, as some of you know, was once the head writer at SNL and writes and directs Will Ferrell's popular screen comedies. Funny guy. One of the better minds to work on that desiccated sketch-fest in recent memory. And true to form, McKay squanders his talent by attempting political analysis.

McKay is worried that Obama's blowing the election, which at the moment appears true. There's plenty of time left, "debates" (aka shared press conferences) to watch, televised assaults and softly-worded promises to endure, but don't be surprised if Senator Change and his corporate-war whore sidekick eventually lose this thing. Obama's taking the traditional centrist Dem path to certain defeat, just like Gore and Kerry before him. Sure, there will doubtless be vote suppression and theft, but that only works when the election is close and comes down to the wire. Obama/Biden should be pasting McCain/Palin, wiping them from their shoes after every campaign stop. But it's not happening. Not yet. And before long, it may be too late.

Like a lot of online libs, McKay sees this slow-motion train wreck already in progress, and tries to keep the Dem ticket on the right tracks. But as with those who refuse to or cannot make a structural critique of the system that makes such spectacles inevitable, McKay blames the media for much of this sorry state.

"This isn't a game of Monopoly or 'Survivor'. There are real truths that exist outside of the spin they are given and have an effect on lives. 250,000 Iraqi civilians are dead because we let our reality be distorted by the most effective propaganda machine in fifty years, the corporate American press. Money and jobs are flying out of this country as our currency becomes worthless and we're talking about the fact that McCain is a veteran. If someone busted into your house and robbed you would you then forgive them if you found out they were a veteran? Of course not. So why are we forgiving McCain for selling out his country by supporting the Bush agenda?"

I dunno. You could start by asking all those liberals now appalled by McCain's politics why they gave him a free pass and enthusiastic praise for so many years. Like Joe Lieberman, McCain hasn't changed all that much. He's simply become inconvenient. Back in the '90s, when liberal McCain love was strong, libs yelled at me for not showing this war hero the proper respect. Couldn't I see that McCain wasn't like the other Repubs? The man not only slaughtered Vietnamese so we could enjoy faster drive-through service at Wendy's, he had conviction, morals, and personified patriotism. Well, that's all down the memory hole; now it's the media's fault for pushing this war-crazy old man and his gun-toting MILF on the rest of us.

This is a tired but reliable tactic, readily employed by both political wings. Recall the GOP reactionaries booing that Islamocommie outlet NBC at their recent gathering. How unfair the Peacock was to Sarah Palin, to God, to guns, to moose meat and the flag. To them, the corporate media are America-bashing leftists. To liberals, the corporate media swallows conservative lies and shits out Dem-hating talking points. Only in an apolitical culture could either of these complaints be taken seriously. Our owners must be laughing their fat asses off. They have us squabbling over phantoms. As I keep telling those who write to me about this, the system isn't broken -- it's fixed.

As for McKay's concern about Iraqi dead (no mention of Afghans blasted by US missiles -- a little preview of what to expect should Obama win), he can thank his friends in the Democratic Party for assisting in those war crimes. The global Terror Wars are a bipartisan project. If you're going to assail the Repubs, honesty dictates that you hit the Dems as well, assuming that you're at all serious. But why do that when you can simply play Blame the Media? Everyone knows those lyrics. Karaoke fun for all.

What's really amusing is how McKay advises Obama/Biden to turn against the very corporate system they represent and serve. It's like expecting a rising Mafia don to denounce the blood oath, or a tiger shark to settle for salads. Funnier still, McKay presumes that his fellow Dems are somehow wired for anti-corporate activism and agitation. That they not only support a corporate party, but actually give it money, either doesn't concern him or flies right over his head. Hell, these are people who not long ago were defending CIA "patriots." You expect them to suddenly become Nader's Raiders? They had their chance to flex such muscles back in 2000. They preferred (and retroactively defend) the corporate Gore/Lieberman ticket. It's a little late in the day to turn that frigate around. Not happening.

But funniest of all is McKay's close:

"This is it folks. If McCain takes power we fade and become Australia in the seventies: a backwoods country with occasional flashes of relevance. Except we've got a way bigger military and we're angrier. People will get hurt and we'll pay the bill for the bullets. I'm telling you, unless we wake up, we're gonna lose this frickin' thing."

G'day mate, and throw some ragheads on the barbie. We're already living in a land Down Under.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

As God Is To Ants




Say there was this guy with whom you had to deal every day, and he constantly bragged about his superior morality, how everyone envied him, spoke casually about assaulting if not killing those who got in his way, and demanded that you praise him or else be deemed his enemy. Would you really want to know this guy? Be his friend? His lover? Would you seek to "reform" him, get him back in touch with his basic decent nature that you're positive exists beneath all the bluster and bullshit?

I doubt that most of you would attempt any of this, save for those masochistic or deluded souls forever among us. But if a nation-state, say ours, for example, behaved this way, there would be no shortage of volunteers for any or all of the above tasks. Hell, some would pay for the privilege, and readily do, as we currently see in this wretched campaign. Every four years reveals a deeper level of demented fantasies, but the '08 election is so far the most perverse.

I never thought we'd witness anything as bad as the past two Bush campaigns, but Hail Neptune, McCain/Palin is even worse. In fact, it's so fucking bad that Jed and Elly May could very well win in November. Recall that snobbish critics trashed and dismissed "The Beverly Hillbillies" when it first appeared in 1962, yet the mass of TV viewers loved it and made it an instant hit, as well as a timeless classic. And that was when people were supposedly smarter than now. Being a simple man, I'm not quite sure what all of it means, but I suspect it doesn't auger well for the Democrats.

Yes -- those poor, deserving Democrats. Why must they continually compete with such low elements? Can't people recognize their superior values, that they seek to improve and beautify our lives, if only we had the wisdom to allow them? Apparently not. Only the stupid and evil are blind and deaf to their charms, and will stop at nothing to deny them their rightful place on the throne. Oh, how the white trash envy and fear them. The morons.

Yikes. Sounds like that guy again. He's seemingly everywhere these days.

The United States, what remains of it, anyway, is clearly the repository of the world's madness. Sure, there are places where life is much worse -- there always are, especially those areas we help to "administer" -- but no country on the planet can come close to American insanity. We've taken what the world has to offer and refined it into something glittering and unique. Others imitate us, attempt the same routines, but they are at best second-rate knock-offs. Our propaganda system is the best the world has ever seen; and as reality worsens, the agitprop improves. Even those who claim to see through it are affected. About the only internal escape left is the Amish route. I'm certain that the vast majority of Amish have never read a political blog in their humble lives, and they're the better for it. As things currently stand, they may be the only sane segment of the population left.

I feel I have a minor right to say this, given that I spent nearly four days sans computer and so sans blogs. I know that four days isn't much to a rational person, but in the online world, it's three lifetimes. A brief scroll through the regular sites shows thousands of words spat out since I unplugged, every tiny feature, hint of rumor, alleged bias pounced upon and ripped apart by ravenous bloggers. How I so didn't miss it. Were I to unplug completely, never to return, I'd be forgotten in no time, my online remains buried under ceaseless chatter and bile.

But as promised last week, I'm sticking around for the time being. It would be a shame to miss out on this rapidly deteriorating campaign. When listening or watching any of the Big Four, you clearly see how we're being reamed, the rhetoric so insipid, the pledges so unreal, the contempt for the populace so ingrained and open. And yet, roughly half of all eligible adults will actually reward these assholes with their ratification. Not that it matters what the rabble think. Either make it a landslide for one of the tickets, or make it close enough that private power can shift it in the desired direction. That's the public's role, and little more. It's why the propaganda system practically screams at you to VOTE. Once that moment passes, it's back to soothing narratives and brightly-lit spectacles. Until the next herding season.

Barn raising, anyone?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Story So Far




Whenever Republicans gather en masse, you get to see the worst in white people. Not that white lefties are much better -- in some ways, they're worse -- but at least with them one can be a little looser, a touch crazier, depending on the room. (A few years ago, right before I did stand up for a local peacenik fundraiser, the woman in charge, who was also the emcee, nixed a masturbation joke I'd just written, fearing that it might seem "sexist"and "pornographic." So there's that.) White reactionaries, in my experience, live in another world altogether; a dismal, narrow place that feeds their resentment, fear, and hatred.

The professional rightists I've hung out with seemed full of ideological gusto when talking about communism, guns, the flag. But get a few drinks into them, and they'd become nerdy, insecure, anxious to seem "on." They were also open to sexual humor, but only the crudest, dumbest lines. One guy I knew for a time admitted to me that he fantasized about fucking liberal women. They seemed exotic to him. I said that liberal women were overrated, that you had to go for the more radical, crazy types to have any serious fun. I also mentioned my fling with an Objectivist, the only time I slept with someone to my right. "Naw," he countered, waving his hand. "Those Randians are atheists. A decent girl should at least believe in God."

Yeah, I've had some wild times.

Watching the Repubs last night took me back to my youth, when my mother and stepfather had friends over for drinks and dinner. They were the typical country club conservatives who played golf, told racist jokes, loved Nixon, even during Watergate, hated commies, though I don't think any of them ever met a real Marxist or socialist, wore "square" clothes, the whole bit. Their lives seemed so limited to me, and I couldn't wait to escape, grow my hair long, smoke dope, and meet some of those people they openly despised. All of which I did -- and more. But that's another rant.

In short, there's only so much concentrated right wing blather I can take in one sitting; and last night, I was able to stomach some of Rudy Giuliani, and a little of Sarah Palin. That was it. I turned to HBO's "Hard Knocks," a look inside the Dallas Cowboys' training camp. I love pro football, which provides finer, fascistic entertainment. The purity of padded violence is a lot more honest than those speeches in St. Paul. And what I wouldn't give to see Giuliani creamed by full-scale blitz. He has to be one of the phoniest "tough guys" in modern politics.

A few readers, upset with my Dem slams from last week, asked why I don't go for Republican throats more often. Why my "obsession" with the mules? I think the answer is self-evident, if you've read me with any regularity. But if you're new to this patch, the basic reason is that Dems and liberals claim to be "progressive," and thus my allies, so I examine their motives and political history much closer than I do with reactionaries, who make no pretense of having my back. There are numerous sites that regularly bash the right, so if you need that kind of action, there's plenty to choose from. I bash my share as well, but it's not a preoccupation. I have no tribe, no flag, no gang colors. Again, if these things matter to you, the liblogs are but a click away.

I also received a tremendous outpouring of support from readers and friends, asking me to not shut down the blog. I knew airing that thought might be seen as a cheap sympathy ploy, but it wasn't. I was completely serious, and to a degree still am. This fucking election is killing my mind and stomping my soul. American political reality is as bad as I've ever seen it, and I suspect we haven't reached bottom yet. Maybe we never will. Maybe we're destined to float down the shit stream indefinitely, splashing, sinking, swallowing mouthfuls of sewage. Hard to tell. All I know is that I'm sick of the rancid taste, and would much prefer a healthier diet, or at least something with a fresh lemon scent. What you saw the other day was me snapping and flipping out. Apologies. I'm not saying that it won't happen again, but I wanted to be clear about where I was coming from, to the degree that I know myself.

So, for the time being anyway, I'll keep tapping out whatever. Your thoughts and suggestions, even financial donations, are of course always welcome. I'm going away for a few days to clear my head and recharge. I should be back next Tuesday, hopefully with a smile, a song, and perhaps some dirty limericks or haiku of a "suggestive" nature. I understand that blind monks get really weird behind rice paper doors.

LISTEN: To me on a right wing radio show in Cincinnati, one of my least favorite towns. I'm going to appear on many reactionary programs during this election season, and I find it fun fucking with their preconceptions of my Dem critique. Fear not -- I'll be doing liberal shows as well. They're not as juicy as the right, but a boy must go where the microphones are open.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pluralism In Action



Joe Lieberman, at the 2000 Democratic Convention:

Al Gore is a man of courage and conviction. He believes in service to America. He volunteered for Vietnam. Together, we crossed party lines to support the Gulf War.

I was there in the room when he forcefully argued that America's principles and interests were at stake in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Two weeks ago, our opponent claimed that America has a hollow military.

I must tell you, that made me angry.

America, we know better than that. Our fighting men and women are the best-trained, best-equipped, most potent fighting force in the history of the world, and they will stay that way when Al Gore and I are elected.

And Al Gore is also a man of vision and values . . .

For his entire career, Al Gore's values have guided the way he meets the challenges that lie ahead. That's why I hope you will conclude, as I have, that for his honesty, for his strength, for his integrity, and for his character, Al Gore must become the next President of the United States.


Liberal reaction: Joe Lieberman for Vice President! Put this fine public servant a heartbeat away!

********

Joe Lieberman, at the 2008 Republican Convention:

What we need most is not more party unity in America but more national unity!

Especially at a time of war, we need a President we can count on to fight for what's right for our country - not only when it is easy, but when it is hard . . .

John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion and support the surge, and because of that, today, America's troops are at last beginning to come home, thousands of them, and they're coming home in honor!

John McCain will be a president that our allies will trust and our enemies will fear, and that's the kind of President we need here in America . . .

Vote for the leader who, since the age of 17, when he raised his hand and took an oath to defend and protect our Constitution, has always put our country first.


Liberal reaction: What a neocon asshole. Fuck Joe Lieberman and all that he stands for!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pig Nation




When I was in Boot Camp, we were shown films of anti-Vietnam protests and police riots, which, back then, were still fresh in everyone's mind. While some of my fellow trainees hooted at the screen ("fuckin' hippies/commie faggots"), the point of the presentation was that we, the Army, were protectors of the Constitution -- that those filthy Hanoi Jane lovers had every right to protest the war, even if they were communist stooges. Not every trainee accepted this, openly fantasizing about shooting and beating dissidents. But our Drill Sergeants admonished them, though one was sympathetic to their views (he would pace our barracks before lights out, talking about fighting Charlie in the paddies, while spoiled college kids back home called him "baby killer"). Overall, the concept of Constitutional freedom was repeatedly stressed.

That was a long time ago. I don't know what Drill Sergeants tell their trainees now, but when it comes to police academies, it's clear that the war is domestic, the population The Enemy. At least, that's the impression I get after Denver and currently in St. Paul. What goes through these cops' minds when they bash a CodePink activist to the ground, calling her "bitch," which happened in Denver, or when they manhandle someone as small as Amy Goodman, which just happened in St. Paul? Not to mention all the anonymous people beaten, pepper sprayed and arrested in between? I mean, these big bad Alpha pricks dressed in riot gear, backed by massive force, beating the shit out of women? What the fuck is wrong with them? Obviously, they feel it's okay, as their superiors make excuses, citing "security risks," and St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman -- a Democrat -- brags about police "restraint."

Welcome to Pig Nation, a bi-partisan production that will receive more of our money regardless who wins the White House. Right wingers, at least the reactionary wing (I'm cutting the libertarians slack), probably don't care, so long as police state activity doesn't inconvenience them. Most liberals pretend that police violence is strictly a Republican feature, if their lack of concern in Denver is any indication. They'll blissfully vote Obama/Biden, thinking that this will put an end to the GOP nightmare. That it merely shifts the nightmare to the other side is apparently overlooked if not dismissed. You certainly can't talk to them about it. I know. I've tried.

Over the past days, I've reached for various masks that hang on my office wall, then submerged myself into character while touring a number of liblog comments sections. It's not pretty. There are some truly twisted mindsets claiming to be "liberal," or worse "progressive." Even mildly broaching the idea that perhaps, just maybe, Obama/Biden is not the fix that is needed, that it is more of the same, only with tin halos and false smiles, will get you slammed. The Ticket will not be questioned, not in any serious way. The Republicans and the Republicans alone are the source of all evil in this land. Every tired retort is repeatedly aired -- McCainiac, Naderite, racist, sexist, etc. You know the script. Facts don't matter. Refuting their falsehoods, meaningless. We have entered the religious phase of the campaign, and only those embracing the faith may speak without being slimed. If it wasn't for PETA, I suspect that snake-waving would be part of the ceremony, provided that the snakes were registered Dems, of course.

This is The Opposition, soon to become The Rule, should the election play out as most of us suspect it will. Once Obama's president, many of these "progressives" say that they'll feel safe enough to challenge the Dems from within. I've heard this from a number of quarters, including from people I respect, and it's utter bullshit. Won't happen. The Clinton years are the template, and that's already ancient history. The Obama years will crank it to a new, obscene level. Power always attracts followers and servants, and the idea that "progressives" will go after President Obama as he fortifies the police state, expands war, and keeps private interests flush, is ridiculous and ahistorical. And Vice President Biden? Phew. Pig Nation incarnate.

While traveling through libland, I also encountered some pretty vile remarks about Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter, Bristol. Whore. White trash. Skank. Bitch. Occasionally, a thread-tender would pop in to tsk tsk these remarks, but for the most part, they remained popular with many commenters. I'm confident that some of you have seen this and worse at a few of the more popular sites. When I confronted these people, they defended their epithets by saying that it was "payback" to the right for how they treated the poor Clintons (whatever happened to them?) and liberals in general. But surely, my patient character countered, their abuse shouldn't authorize your own. I thought you were the humane alternative to such political poison. Didn't Obama say that we're better than this?

Fuck that and fuck you. This is life or death. Our very existence hangs in the balance. No time for niceties. This is war.

Some of these people would make fine riot cops.

I have no sympathy for McCain or Palin. Like Obama/Biden, they seek to rule us, and must be resisted and critiqued. But going after a pregnant 17-year-old? Yeah, yeah, I know -- the Palins are hypocrites, and this is the result of bad parenting and false premises when it comes to teen sex. Yet this thin cover has allowed some deeply misogynistic behavior to seep out, and should Palin remain on the ticket, it will only get uglier. Besides, when did liberals become horrified by teen sex, or sexual "controversy" overall? Certainly not when John Edwards or Bill Clinton were in the crosshairs. In those cases, we were told that sex was a "private" matter, despite the fact that they are grown men and were elected officials. For them, sorrowful understanding. For Bristol Palin, who to my knowledge is not running for public office, catcalls, sexist abuse, and conspiracy theories. At least by some. I haven't read every single sentence by libloggers on this issue, so I trust there are saner heads out there. But then, trust is a two-way street.

I'm so sickened by all of this that I nearly shut the whole blog down. Fuck it. I've had my political say and can only repeat myself. Time to move on. Go into my Bukowski period and write about the human condition instead. In longhand on notebooks. He was about my age when he wrote "Notes Of A Dirty Old Man," and after nearly four years of blogging, I feel very old and quite dirty. Better to swig vodka, smoke weed, and laugh at the sun. It would achieve about as much as I've achieved online, and would be a lot more fun. Certainly less stressful.

But after conferring with a few close advisers, and the fact that I'm still promoting "Savage Mules," I'll keep this pop stand open for a little while longer. Just know that I write my ass off for zero money, still perform blue collar work to pay the bills, and that my book, while selling well, has yet to net me a dime. The advance was laughably low, and already spent on gas. Meantime, I see others making a living writing socially acceptable, even "edgy" prose for larger outlets. So why the fuck am I wasting my time doing this for free?

Oh yeah. Because I care. For what that's worth.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Hour Is Now Enforced By Law




Watching the libsphere in hysterics over Sarah Palin has been entertaining, and no attack on her is considered too low or too coarse to post in a comments section. Apart from her reactionary positions, the main lib beef, as I recently noted, is with her inexperience. Liberals demand seasoned insiders like Joe Biden to help guide the empire, someone who can properly manage the machinery of state, bomb the right countries, spy on the right people, and above all, normalize imperial matters after eight years of "wrong" turns. Palin is an affront to their sense of professionalism. Thus the constant abuse.

Given this, I'm somewhat puzzled by liberal concerns over police state tactics in St. Paul. Less than a week ago, most of them were cheering on two men who openly promised more war and more cops; but now that the logical extension of such promises is on display as Republicans gather for their infomercial, many of these same people are outraged and worried about constitutional freedoms. They now champion marginal peace groups that couldn't get their attention in Denver. Could it be that when the GOP bashes, pepper sprays, intimidates and arrests peaceful dissidents, it's considered much more damaging to democracy than when the Democrats do the same thing? Especially in a historic election year such as this? I'll leave such jaded thoughts to angry purists and other losers.

The bottom line is this -- we live in a bi-partisan police state, and it's only going to get worse, no matter who wins in November. The elite are protected by SWAT and Delta teams, riot cops, razor wire, automatic weapons, pepper spray, tasers, and clubs. The Feds spy on those who manage to organize some resistance, no matter how ineffectual it actually is. The police raids on homes in St. Paul are direct reminders of who has the power, a federal "fuck you" to those who have the audacity to openly dissent beyond state-sanctioned "free speech zones," walled-off holding pens surrounded by heavily-armed cops.

Much of this happened in Denver, and except for Glenn Greenwald, who made some critical noise about the overwhelming police presence protecting the corporate few, not many libloggers created a fuss, especially once the Dem superstars emerged to beckon and wow the faithful. At that point, any possible concern liberals might have had about police state measures flew out the window. Meanwhile, antiwar dissidents were clubbed, pepper sprayed, and arrested by Denver's finest, while the majority of Democrats were applauding their political bosses and weeping about "change."

I'm told by Glenn and others who are in St. Paul that police and federal actions there are worse. I'm sure that's true. After all, the Repubs are the incumbent party, and the sitting president himself was to attend before bowing out in order to "focus on" Hurricane Gustav. The same would be the case if a President Gore or Kerry attended their conventions. When the imperial manager and his advisers blow into town, police actions decidedly amp up and crack down. If Obama is elected and fulfills his promise of more cops in the streets, with expanded war overseas, just wait until the 2012 Dem convention. Imagine all of the new weapons and repressive tactics that will be developed over the next four years -- with our tax dollars! Will there be the same liberal anguish then as there currently is in St. Paul?