Sunday, June 27, 2004


Saw Fahrenheit 9/11 this weekend in New Orleans (a 2 hour drive away). It was really good--very moving, surprisingly detail-oriented (statistically speaking), and funny and eerie all at the same time. The showing we attended (7:40 Sat. night) was sold out. A separate line had to be formed for just F9/11 ticketholders, and it must've stretched at least 50 yards around the mall food court.

I thought the reviews (even the relatively positive ones) were unfair at heart. Of course, Hitchen's attempted evisceration is clumsy, bitter, and quite long.

But here are some points in the movie to which he took exception:

Fahrenheit 9/11 makes the following points about Bin Laden and about Afghanistan, and makes them in this order:

1) The Bin Laden family (if not exactly Osama himself) had a close if convoluted business relationship with the Bush family, through the Carlyle Group.

2) Saudi capital in general is a very large element of foreign investment in the United States.

3) The Unocal company in Texas had been willing to discuss a gas pipeline across Afghanistan with the Taliban, as had other vested interests.

4) The Bush administration sent far too few ground troops to Afghanistan and thus allowed far too many Taliban and al-Qaida members to escape.

5) The Afghan government, in supporting the coalition in Iraq, was purely risible in that its non-army was purely American.

6) The American lives lost in Afghanistan have been wasted. (This I divine from the fact that this supposedly "antiwar" film is dedicated ruefully to all those killed there, as well as in Iraq.)

Well okay, but...
1) This is widely documented and cannot be argued--and the relationship was not just through the Carlyle Group, it was through Harken and Arbusto as well.

2) Yes--see, it's generally not a great idea to have foreigners who have their own interests at heart (i.e., getting rich and promoting militant Islam) having a stake in roughly a tenth of a country's economy.

3) So before 9/11 it's perfectly okay to talk to the Taliban, to bring them into our country, even though we knew of their connections to terror, their oppression of women, and so on. It's only after 9/11, after we've let them have a good look around, fly on some planes, maybe check out the security situation, and given them the whole dignitary treatment, that we can fairly criticize the Taliban?

4) Of course, here is a favorite jab of the rightwing--"Oh, I thought you were anti-war, so why are you complaining about there being too few troops, huh? Maybe you really are a warmonger like us and just can't bring yourself to admit it." And of course it misses the point, which is, in the context of the movie, there was only a token effort made to "go after al-Qaeda" and this is demonstrated by the fact that, relative to say, Iraq (120,000 troops +), a tenth of the troops were sent to Afghanistan (11,000).

5) Right! How convenient that the installed president and former Unocal rep would be in favor of attacking a fellow Muslim country with our Army! That's ludicrous by any standard.

6) First of all, the film never says that. Moore is fair and sympathetic to U.S. soldiers and shows the human costs of the war on both sides. And secondly, when one is killed in a poorly planned invasion fighting people who were openly embraced by some of the most powerful and influential members of one's society before said invasion when one could've been doing anything else--feeding the poor, raising a family, painting a house, etc.--yes, that's a waste.

Here's the first draft of a letter I'm mailing to the Hattiesburg American, my hometown newspaper:

Dear Editor,
Michael Moore’s new movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” should be seen by every voter before the election in November, as it is a brilliant synopsis of what should have been in the major news media since 2000. Unfortunately, Tupelo is currently the only city in Mississippi where the movie is playing, so I went to see it in New Orleans with my wife and some friends. Why any theater owner or distributor in this area would not want to make some money from this movie is beyond me—the showings in New Orleans were sold out Friday and Saturday (the night I went), and reports are much the same across the country. The movie is as “fair and balanced” as any Rush Limbaugh broadcast, and it shows the ill effects the Iraq war has had on the Iraqi people as well as the toll it has taken on our country and our brave soldiers. There is no need to fear “Fahrenheit 9/11”—unless your name is George W. Bush.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

CLINTON LIKE THE PRESIDENT...a vote for Bush is against yourself
(supposed to have been posted June 22, but computer was down)

Bill Clinton’s autobiography was released today to great fanfare. Even I fell prey to it and bought a copy of the book (along with paperbacks of “Rogue Nation” and “What Liberal Media"). I’ll probably never read the whole thing, but I did vote for Clinton in ‘92 and ‘96 and retain somewhat warm feelings toward him, even though I’m learning that some of the things he did contradicted the reasons that I voted for him. And I’m not talking about how Clinton didn’t “deal with the terrorist threat” either.

Rush Limbaugh had a substitute on today, and he was making that very point–how if only Clinton hadn’t let the terrorists get away, Bush wouldn’t have had to be so decisive and manly as to take us into an unnecessary war. If he got around to blaming Reagan and Bush for Clinton’s terror problems, I didn’t hear him. But he should have.

The conservatives are quick to give Reagan (undue) credit for the booming (for the rich) economy under Clinton–i.e., it was Reagan’s noble tax cuts that created the Clinton economy. But they never seem to bring up the Reagan and Bush policies of arming Iran and assisting Iraq and cozying up to Saudi Arabia. Might that not have had something to do with creating Clinton’s terror problem?

And might Clinton have been able to operate more freely and focus more intently on problems such as terrorism if the rightwing media and rightwing politicians not been hounding him from the second he announced his candidacy? One would think so. It’s really, really sick–the Republican media and politicians wouldn’t let him have a moment’s peace and called into question every missile strike Clinton did order and now they all sit and criticize him for not doing more and try to make it look as though Bush is finally fixing what Clinton broke.

Well, any fair person knows that terrorists did not pop up out of nowhere during the Clinton administration and he was just too much of a puss to do anything about it. Which is how the Rush wannabe was explaining it today.


And as I was reading the intro to “What Liberal Media” just a few minutes ago, I noted how Ann Coulter regularly referred to Clinton as a “liar.” Uber-conservative pundit Ann Coulter called the President a “liar.” And pretty much everyone in the media speaks freely about how Clinton lied under oath to the Starr people.

But no uber-liberal pundits refer to Bush as a liar, at least not without lots of qualification. Liberal pundits will say that Bush traffics in “half-truths” or title books “The Lies of George W. Bush,” but they rarely come out and say “Bush is a liar.” There’s some sort of bizarre consensus and understanding that calling Bush a liar is somehow beyond the pale. Like, okay, maybe he lies, but he’s not a liar. Chris Matthews says this when it comes to Bush–something along the lines of “To know if someone’s lying, you have to know their heart, and I don’t know Bush’s heart” or some rubbish to that effect. NBC’s David Gregory said on the Imus program that he wasn’t qualified to brand Bush a liar (when Imus came out and asked Gregory whether or not he could agree with the statement that Bush and/or Cheney are liars).

Well, I just want to make it known that if what the President of the United States speaks on matters of policy in contradiction of the facts, everyone is authorized to say he is a liar. Why? Because he is the best-informed person in the entire country. He gets all the information. He hears (or should hear) from all sides and is privy to information the average citizen or even the average reporter is not. He should seek to speak the truth on all matters at all times, and he should be more careful than anyone else in the world about his words, because they can have enormous effect...

However, Bush has never admitted to lying. Clinton has. So it’s OK to call him a liar, according to the Washington consensus. You can call someone a liar if they admit to it. But, according to the bizarre Washington consensus, if you don’t admit to lying, you shouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of being called a liar even if it is obvious to everyone that you are lying. Dick Cheney, we’re looking in your direction...


Today I heard the awesome second album from Canada’s Atomic 7...their jazzabilly surfstrumentals are bite-size twangfests, like incidental music to an indie cult Western about cowpokes hangin’ ten...

And the cover of the debut (?) album by Chicago’s Fort Rile Dog sure gets one’s attention–it has a mold of a dog’s upper jaw pasted onto it...the music is mathy emo, but in a good way...sort of like Rumah Sakit meets Chavez...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

NO LINK, NO JUSTIFICATION FOR WAR ...a vote for bush is vote against yourself

So the 9/11 Commission says officially that there was no link between Saddam and Osama regarding the 9/11 attack, which was what we were supposed to be avenging and preventing in our preventive war. Well, we ran the prevent defense against the wrong guy--wrong in the sense that Saddam never attacked our country. And so friends, that makes the Iraq conflict officially an unjust war. It was not in self-defense, it was an act of naked aggression.

And fuck you if you think that calling a spade a spade (i.e., saying that America started an unjust war and acted with aggression) makes war critics "anti-American." We're pro-American--we don't want Americans killing or being killed in clear violation of everything good about America--freedom, democracy, speedy trials instead of summary executions, diplomacy, etc.

Those who still believe in this godforsaken, immoral war had better turn off "Fox and Friends" and "The Savage Nation" for two seconds and get a clue--judgment day's a-comin'. You better jump over to the right side of history--you know, the side that seeks peace instead of hostility, the side that embraces civil rights and justice for all people (including atheists, Palestinians, inner city children, and so on), the side that seeks to further what all of Western history has been steadily, inexorably progressing toward since at least the Magna Carta--true freedom and equality under the law for everyone, true protection of the weak against the strong, and on and on.

You better get right or get left.

Getting right involves going over to the left.

It is our duty as loyal citizens of this great country to evict George W. Bush from the White House this year. He was crooked in the way he got into office, he's been crooked in office, and we need to straighten him out about how things work here in this country that belongs to all of us--not only the rich, not only the well-connected, not only the oil companies, not only the successful, not only the smart, not only the rapacious capitalists who would deprive their fellow citizens of employment oppportunities just to make a few extra bucks.

They say Bush won Florida, and hence the election, by 537 votes, but he really won it by only one--that fifth Supreme. And then conservatives want to complain about "activist judges..." It's so outrageous, one has no idea where to begin in combatting the outrage...

...I'm getting off topic...

Anyway, the war is wrong and the whole world knows it was and is wrong and tried to tell us. And lots of us here in the U.S. tried to tell the War Pigs, but they did it anyway. And now they have to pay the price for their crimes. If not impeachment, removal, and jail sentences, they at least need to be removed from office, the whole lot, and never heard from again in public life. If anyone in a major position in this Bush administration ever again dares to raise his or her head to run for public office or offer themselves as a candidate for an appointment, they need to be laughed right out of the public square.

Why? Because they fucking blew it. They bit the big one. They squandered our treasure, they wasted our resources, they sent our young men and women to die under false pretenses, they destroyed our alliances, they made us into an evil caricature of ourselves, and generally mouthed the words about America's greatness while acting aggressively to undermine it.
STRONG/WEAK ...a vote for bush is a vote against yourself

...up feeding the baby this morning. Heard a Kerry speech on C-Span...I liked the part about "you don't make America strong by attacking the weak" referring to cutting social spending and cutting taxes. These left-leaning pundits that constantly criticize Kerry are not really helping. I mean, it's not only the Republicans who try to paint him as boring, communistic, and out of touch, it's also Democratic sympathizers. I don't often hear the Repubes downing Bush, not even over procedural, nitpicking issues like whether or not his slogan is sassy enough. That makes the Repubes look like drones, because they defend Bush utterly, even when it's clear to everyone (even them) that he has done something terribly wrong or just stupid. However, these rightwing pubic hairs do control all three branches of the government...maybe occasionally looking like a pre-programmed drone will
help our side. Why should we admit to doubts about Kerry when the other side acts like the ground their guy walks on belongs in a special Republiban wing of the Smithsonian and he's not even out of office or dead yet?

I guess my point is, let's build Kerry up, not kill him with a thousand pricks...because he's the only hope for our side, for one thing, but he's also the only hope at this point for our country and the world...

In fact, the Kerry I saw in the speech from yesterday at the New Jersey AFL-CIO convention was clear, concise, witty, moving, sincere, articulate, and passionate. If and when the American public gets a really good look at him, there's no way Bush will legitimately win this election. I mean, they're already trying to steal it again...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


I can't watch Meet The Press anymore. I like Russert okay, he does ask tough questions (for a mainstream guy, anyway), but the interview subjects get away with lame non-answers. Not because I think he necessarily wants to let the subjects get away with non-answers. But the show is only allotted an hour.

And maybe that's the problem. Maybe there should be a political show like Meet The Press that doesn't stop. I mean, in a sense, the political show never stops. You can hop from Hardball to Charlie Rose to Hannity to Scarborough and then all over again and see the same interview subjects in the same clothes on all these shows. It's really kinda like one long a pundit tag team...

But when I say it doesn't stop, I mean that the show can go long if necessary. Then maybe Chomsky would start appearing on some mainstream shows because he won't have to be shushed. At least, that's what I heard were his objections to being on mainsream shows. I mean, if you think about it, on these pundit shows, half the time is taken up with one of three things: 1) talking over each other, 2) interrupting each other (or getting indignant about being interrupted), or 3) reminders of how little time is left in a segment--"in ten seconds, Ann, tell me why you think John Kerry
will destroy America..."

So anyway, I didn't watch Meet The Press this past Sunday with Colin Powell, but my friend and colleague Mik Davis did and emailed me these pithy comments:

Uh..Powell on Meet The Press. Offering the 'good
soldier' line of reasoning. Countering the European
criticism that our presence in Iraq has fueled
terrorism and destabilized the Middle East with the
whole 'Well, we removed Saddam and his regime' line..
forcing it down our throats's like they
killed a housefly with a flamethrower. Sure there's
no fly bothering us house either.

Anyway, one startling revelation that you may/may not
know about..we are not only paying for this unjust war
(latest poll figures are now 49/49 just/unjust) with
taxpayer money. Now, while gasoline prices soar to
nearly 2 dollars a gallon..weare also paying for the
subsidies that allow Iraqis in their unstable economy
to pay only 5 cents per gallon for gasoline there
Another place where US taxpayers are paying more than
90% of the cost for a new democracy.

The good soldier routine is getting tiring. Maybe Powell should try the valiant, courageous soldier routine. Or maybe he forgot it...

But seriously folks, isn't that fucked up? Isn't that one fact reason enough to throw Bush out? I mean, we were told that oil revenues would pay for the reconstruction! By "liberating" Iraq, we're enslaving ourselves and our children to debt! Who thought this was a good idea? Morrissey was right on the money!

In fact, I'm going to take a cue from Lou Dobbs, the hellhound on outsourcing's trail. I need to have a mantra, a hook, a haiku of a reason to get Bush out and print it with every entry I make to this blog that no one will ever read. Something like, "a vote for Bush is a vote against yourself." That'll do for now--I'll refine it, I'm sure. But this whole pointing-out-how-Bush-is-fucking-up-America-and-the-world situation has got to be boiled down so it's concise, memorable, and catchy!!!

Every day, people should see "A VOTE FOR BUSH IS A VOTE AGAINST YOURSELF." Even if they don't believe it, it will stick in the backs of their minds. Because if there's one thing the Rush Hannities and the Republiban party has taught these rightwingers, it's that you gotta look out for yourself above all else. But the fucked up part of it is that they say tax cuts and social spending cuts are the way for people to do that, when in reality, those things are what the superrich want so they can continue to fuck over people like you and me.

Nighty night...

Monday, June 14, 2004


Where do you start in thinking about the horrible, insane mess that President Bush has gotten this great country into? Do you start with the unnecessary and illegal war about which has now been revealed that many civilian casualties were incurred because we got the opposite of what Bush suggested for months (years) was "good, solid intelligence"? Or should you start with the supposedly now booming economy in which any jobs that have so far been created are only taking us halfway (so far) to where we were before Bush hijacked (yes, that's like what terrorists do) our country and meanwhile college tuitions are going up, jobs are being shipped overseas, child-care costs and health care costs are increasing, and Bush's answer for it all is more tax cuts for the wealthy?

I mean, it's a fluid situation, and every damn day, there's some new study released by some just-formed group (usually with a name that describes either the opposite of the group stands for or explains it's nefarious purpose in doubletalk code) which claims to debunk the conventional wisdom. Or claims to reaffirm the conventional wisdom. At any rate, enough studies are done and released about enough topics that everyone who talks to a newspaper or a tv pundit has an expert-conducted study to cite that supports their side, no matter what their side is.

Prime example, global warming. Rightwingers say it's junk science, leftwingers say it's happening right now. Who's right? Well, let's go to the experts. Whaddya know, the experts all disagree. So it would seem there is no objective reality.

Except that they just disagree about certain things on the surface, even though they all agree that the climate is definitley changing. The WMD situation is another example--David Kay says "we were all wrong" about WMD because he hadn't found any, then just this morning, Glen Beck starts talking about how WMD shells with UN inspection stickers have been found in junk heaps in Turkey and Jordan. OK, maybe so, but we can all agree that the WMD are not now and have not for some time been in Iraq.

But, back to what I was saying. The situation in America is fluid, the economy does "a little better than expected" and the Republicans all stand up and cheer on every radio and TV show and then when first-time jobless claims "exceed expectations", they all harrumph about how employment is a lagging indicator. And it almost makes one's head explode.

And so everyone knows what the large, overarching truth is, i.e., global warming is happening, there were no WMD in Iraq at the time of invasion (esp. no nukes), the economy is in the crapper, and so forth and so on. So, not that this is any original observation or anything, but this is where, as the Cherokee proverb goes, he who bullshits best eats most.

There is a group of people who understand the actual truth and understand that if the public realizes that a given thing is true, they won't support the policies that this group proposes that will only benefit this group and even then only in the short run. So they break out the bullshit--case in point, we don't Iraq to switch to euros in oil trading, because that'll make it difficult for our buddies at Halliburton and Shell and Chevron Texaco to get a rich as fucking possible, so (and this is the bullshit part)--SADDAM IS BUILDING NEW CUELER WEAPONS and RAH RAH WE'RE THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH! The first part is false, the second part is mostly true, and...

My god, going through all this, I just don't know if I have the energy...long story short, get Bush out!!! I mean, his very family name is short for bullshit...

Saw Jan Schakowsy, Democrat of Illinois givin' 'em hell on C-Span a few minutes ago...stick it to 'em...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


The Reagan Memorial Lionization Propaganda Parade goes on...and it brings some thoughts about tax cuts and incentive to mind. Over at David Brock's Media Matters, he and his people are doing a great job at setting the record straight about what these right-wing media hellhounds are doing to our country. I was glad to see some corrections and clarifications on programs I had heard with my own ears, especially this one, from Bill O'Reilly's radio show:


O'REILLY: All right, so it's income redistribution. It's basically slapping more tax -- and remember, if you were earning $500,000 or more, you're paying your property tax already. You're paying a federal income tax. You're paying a state income tax. You're paying all the other taxes that come along.

Now, is this good? Is this what we should be doing here in America? Now, remember -- remember how the country was founded. So this is a deviation, because the Founding Fathers didn't want any federal income tax at all. That only happened around the turn of the 20th century. And they said OK, leave it to the -- leave it to the locals to tax and take what they need.


So it's basically a kind of quasi-socialist mentality. Remember, in the socialist countries, it's basically leveling off -- if you make a lot then we take it from you and we give to the bottom so that nobody has too much. That's communism, that's socialism, obviously got a lot of appeal. Got a lot of appeal.

It doesn't work because it robs incentive. I mean, that's why it doesn't work, but in this country, income redistribution is a hallmark of the Democratic Party and the Liberal bent of it. Hillary Clinton loves it. All right. And McGreevey obviously loves it, but is it morally right? Is it what this country was founded on? See, there's the question.

I find the part about how income redistribution supposedly "robs incentive" particularly interesting. Now, if you're wondering why I bothered to bring up Reagan, it's because until this current administration, he held the record for the biggest tax cuts ever. And tax cuts supposedly return incentive to entrepreneurs--as if by magic. Of course, no one likes paying large chunks of their income in taxes. But I don't think (and I hardly ever hear anyone say this) that the idea that taxes kill incentive is true at all.

The idea that taxes are the death of incentive was obviously born out of the widely held misconception that the only thing that motivates anyone to do anything is profit, especially financial profit. It's an idea that we are all basically chimpanzees, and the biggest banana is the only reward that will get us to perform tricks for the cameras.


I do find that comparison of human beings to base animals is a useful analogy in some respects, but like all analogies, it breaks down eventually (i.e., if a is always analogous to b, then a is b and no analogy is necessary). To continue the chimp analogy, suppose the zookeeper brings out a bunch of bananas to feed the whole chimp colony. There is one that is obviously bigger, even to the chimpanzees. Let's suppose for analogy's sake, that every chimp in the colony wants to have that banana because it's the biggest. They don't want any of the smaller bananas, they must have the biggest one.

But the zoo's rules are one banana per chimp, and the chimps have learned this over time. Well, what can the chimps do? They are all equally deserving of receiving nourishment, they figure, and that gigantic banana would be nourishment beyond belief. So when the zookeeper starts to tear bananas from the bunch and throw them to the chimps, they ignore all the bananas but the biggest one. When there's only the big banana left, they all clamor for it and a chimp riot ensues. The zookeeper barely escapes with his life, and the chimps literally begin to kill each other over this banana. Eventually, one chimp ends up with the biggest banana, all the other chimps are dead, but even the victorious chimp is so badly wounded he won't last long enough to finish the huge banana that he fought so viciously for.

Now, humans wouldn't do that. Humans would settle for a banana that was almost as big, or at least be happy to have a banana at all. When the bananas are thrown out, humans would think "here comes my banana" and morre or less take what was thrown their way. They might be a little bit resentful, but the human that wound up with the big banana would try to convince them that he was the most deserving and that's why he got it. And the other humans wouldn't really believe him deep down, but they aren't all that concerned because at least they got a banana and think that one day, they too will be the recipient of the biggest banana.


And that's because humans are rational beings. They understand that they shouldn't always have the biggest banana, or the largest slice of pie, or the biggest return on their investment. They in fact cannot always have that unless the system is rigged in their favor.

A human might feel that if he or she doesn't have the biggest salary, at least I've got my lovely spouse and my kids, while that billionaire lives all alone. A human would be willing to find the cure for cancer in order to stop people's suffering, not just to make billions of dollars from it. We've all heard stories of people like Van Gogh, who created great art but never received recognition or remuneration for it in his lifetime. So if he and millions of others like him will do great work without necessarily getting a lot of money for it, why do they do it?

Well, they do it because they like doing it--it gives them pleasure, it makes them feel better, it makes them feel connected to society, and on and on. In this respect, humans are not beasts--they are capable of doing a thing for its own sake.

The cynic might agree and suggest that those do-gooders can just feel great about their work and the rest of us will take the financial rewards they generate. The realists would say, no, let's assume that all but the most psychotic and sociopathic people have this capacity to do a thing for its own sake--whether it's medicine, art, sports, writing, politics, soldiering, etc.--and let's create a situation in which they can really pursue such things, and their reward can be the work. King Crimson's Robert Fripp has a great saying with regard to this idea: "The reward of the musician is music." You can use this for any profession "The reward of the doctor is healing people," "The reward of the governor is providing for the general welfare of the citizens," etc.

Now, this idea supposedly has been thoroughly discredited because it sounds suspiciously like the Communist Manifesto's "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." That idea is a thorougly Christ-like one ("Do unto others...") and is not discredited just because Lenin and Stalin and the rest of them screwed it up. The trick is to create a system that is neither wholly, rapaciously capitalist, nor woefully utopian socialist. The answer to a question is almost never either/or, it's somewhere in the middle.

And a system that rides that line is what we've been progressing toward for the entire history of this country. But Reagan-worshippers and Bush and their amen corners would like to change that direction entirely. You can hear it every single day on conservative shows like Limbaugh's and O'Reilly's. They think people are evil creeps whose only interest is their own personal gain. What they may or may not realize is that every single day, there are people working for non-profit organizations, writing books and songs and poems that may never be on any best-seller chart simply for the love of doing it. And one thing that allows these people to do these labors of love is a fair tax system that allows their government (which is actually the people themselves--when the right-wingers talk about wanting "less government" what they're actually saying is they want less control by the people and more control by the corporations) to provide a certain standard of living for them.

So if a certain tax rate makes a person want to stop being a venture capitalist, then maybe they should stop doing that and do something they really love. They should work toward actualizing themselves as human beings, rather than doing anything and everything only for its profit potential.

Monday, June 07, 2004


I am not a historian. I do have a BA in history. I have taught history in junior high schools, but our focus was always either early world history or American history until 1877. I am an American citizen, and I had the (mis)fortune of my own junior high and high school career taking place during the Reagan administration.

I point out these things to say that I have very few facts on which to base my negative opinions about Ronald Reagan. I mean, I came of age during his presidency, I studied history in college, and taught history as an adult, but I have never intensely studied the Reagan years, either as a requirement or simply for my own edification. Unless you count hours of listening to Minutemen and Camper Van Beethoven records as intensely studying the Reagan years.

And I guess I do kind of count those hours. I first remember my father voting for Carter in 1980 (or maybe that should say "voting against Reagan" in 1980) and telling me and my sister what a whack-job "Ronnie Ray Gun" was. My dad was studying for his divinity degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (my mother also took some classes), and my sister and I would hang out on the campus while my parents were in class. I remember us being on campus when the election was called in favor of Reagan, and my father in particular convinced us that Reagan's election was undesirable and I in particular shared his disappointment. He explained to me that Reagan would be bad because he wanted more "nukes" and really was not fit to be president.

A brief aside
I'm struck now by the fact that my father, as a would-be Southern Baptist minister, would vote for Carter instead of the icon of today's conservative movement. Of course, my father is also a scientist with a Ph.D in thermodynamics and mechanical engineering, and his view of the world had been very much influenced more by his experiences in science at that point than by his relatively new Christian views (which he'd acquired a mere five or six years prior). Now his pendulum has swung entirely in the opposite direction, when he told me in 2000 that he'd become a "single issue voter" and the single issue his vote hinges on is a candidate's opposition to abortion.

So anyway, that was my first impression of Ronald Reagan, handed to me as an earnest sixth grader. Of course, my interest in politics would soon be overshadowed by an obsession with the Beatles, as John Lennon was killed the very next month.

I remember hearing about Nicaragua and contras and Sandinistas during all these years, but I never really tried to sort such things out at the time. But I also remember starting to get into "Bloom County" and "Doonesbury", both of which I remember as being no friends of the Reagan administration. And as I got older, The Clash, U2, The Police and R.E.M. started to inform my thinking, and even if I couldn't completely understand every reference in their lyrics, they were always pretty clear about their politics in interviews.

And even during the Iran-Contra hearings, I was still more into music than into politics. I think I felt that a young kid from Mississippi had very little chance of really sussing out the truth of such things, much less being able to make a difference about any of it. And let's face it, when I started college that fall, I didn't really even want to go. I wanted to play guitar in a world-famous rock band and only went to college when it became apparent that wasn't going to happen right away. And I only majored in history because advertising, my original major, began to disgust me and I had always enjoyed stories about Andrew Jackson, Jean Lafitte, and the Alamo as a kid.

I am only now beginning to understand the unsavory nature of America's policies toward Central America during the Reagan administration. I am only now beginning to understand the implications of Reagan's tax cuts and deficits. And of course, let's not forget our arming of Iraq AND Iran during the eight-year war between those two countries (and let's not forget the 1983 picture of Donald Rumsfeld smilingly shaking Saddam's hand). I can only anticipate my horror at what I will perceive as my current naivete after another ten years has passed.

So my impression of Reagan is not a favorable one. From the get-go I didn't think much of him and am now beginning to fill in the blanks in my understanding about why. And the irony of the current Hollywood bashers lionizing actor and SAG president Ronald Reagan is, well, ironic.

So when we got to the club where my current band was playing this past Saturday night, they had the TV on and some channel was going into Reagan memorial overdrive. The bartender confirmed that Reagan had died, and we began to discuss our reactions to his death--mine was "Good riddance" (which I felt a little bad about saying at the time, until I heard Cuba's reaction).

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Oh, George Tenet...goodbye. I wish I had a name that meant something else, like our dear departed CIA chief does. Maybe my name could be Clinton Principle or Clinton Precept. You know, I've never really ever heard anyone remark on Tenet's name. If Clinton Doctrine was on TV every day defending himself about how he got billions of dollars for his agency but couldn't stop a few unassuming people from blowing up some buildings and how he thought that basketball metaphors were an excuse for invading other countries, people would probably remark on that name.

"DCI Doctrine...that's an intriguing name for a government
official, wouldn't you say, Howard Fineman?"

"Oh yes, Chris...especially when the doctrine Doctrine seems to follow is one of screwing up all the time."

But just because I've never heard anyone remark on Tenet's name doesn't mean it's never happened. I just haven't heard it. And just when I was starting to think Thomas Friedman might be all right after all, I see him all over TV yesterday and today promoting some claptrap about outsourcing. He was probably on Lou Dobbs and I missed it.

Friedman was quite passionate about his love for outsourcing. But he was even-handed, boy lemme tell ya...he's one helluva straight-shooter. He was all like "I don't support or not support outsourcing, I'm just saying it's here to stay" and like "hey man, it's just all the shitty jobs that most people could do and would be hired for that are going overseas--all the good-paying jobs in management that only a handful of people in a small circle of jerks with MBAs will ever get hired for are staying here, dude." And he actually used the guys that started Google as an example of what everyone in America should be doing instead of being a phone person for a computer company. It's like, hey man, if you want a good job, just invent something that changes the world. You know, don't be poor--that's for trashy dumb people. All the smart people who deserve to make a living and support their families invent sophisticated technologies that really take off in the marketplace--I mean, isn't that what the majority of people do these days?

Hey Thomas Friedman--piss off with your olive oily mustache and your sexless Lexus. We all know how the world really works--protectionism for me, free trade for you. Socialism for the rich, free markets for the poor. And then one of these jackass TV hosts brings up John Kerry, saying "Oh Kerry's a staunch free trader--all this stuff about 'corporate Benedict Arnolds' and what not--that's just for the election." Well, of course they're right (I think it was Howard Fineman on Hardball yesterday. I mean, Kerry is just a taller, smarter, older, wiser, braver, more talented, more experienced, less privileged, less holier-than-thou, less delusional, less full of himself version of Bush. And that's unfortunate, but reality is usually a series of misfortunes that add up to nothing. Or something...

Oh whatever...

Oh one other thing: So I heard Rush Limbaugh today reading a story about some transexual getting a divorce. It was a man who became a woman, and, commenting on the article, Limbaugh said the person in question had had "the opposite of an 'addadickotomy" (which he pronounced "ADD-UH-DIK-OTT-UH-MEE). Rush Limbaugh, Mr. Conservative Values, said "Add a dick otomy." Get it? When a woman wants to become a man, Rush and his pals say she's having an add-a-dick-otomy because they're putting a DICK on her. For those precious, unstained, cleansed in the spirit, uber-churchy types out there--DICK is a slang word for that thing you shouldn't put a condom on because every time you have sex you should create precious, precious life. The Penis!!! Now I'm not sure, but I'd bet that's a violation of the new FCC standards. I know I wouldn't go on the air at the station where I work and talk about attaching DICKs to women. And if I or anyone else did, it would be solely in the context of an educational discussion about sex changes and I'd use the term "penis".

I'll have to look up those FCC standards and maybe make my first ever complaint to the FCC...

Hey Rush, piss off ya damn drug-addicted, un-"screw"led, conservataliban rat bastard...