Sunday, March 27, 2005

If He Was a Messiah ... Why All The Insanity Then?


"We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said we're going to legislate you out of the schools. We're going to take your commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states. We're not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We're not going to let the Bible be read, no prayer in our schools. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And then we say, 'Why does this happen?' Well, why it's happening is that God Almighty is lifting his protection from us."
- Pat Robertson, explaining on his 700 Club cable TV program why the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had occurred two days earlier (but oblivious as to why such nations as Sweden and The Netherlands, which are more secular than the U.S. could ever hope to be, are spared such tragedies), quoted from Beth Corbin.

"If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses."
- Lenny Bruce

Ah, yes! It's all about the values. You just had to know that the unctuous wonder of NBC, Pudgy Timmy, who is also known as the Pillsbury Doughboy of pundit TV, had to see the ratings opportunity for Meet The Press: He couldn't let go of such a wonderful opportunity to rattle the cage under the guise of actually giving a shit. Hell, Sparky, there's nothing like Easter Sunday to make us grab onto those bloody wooden Christ-o-fixation symbols and profess our allegiance like Stuart Smalley drinking mightly from the Jerry Fallwell Kool Aid dispenser.

PUDGY TIMMY:  I want to read something that you said to The Washington Post in 2003:  "Catholics have no right to impose their views on others.  Even if they say homosexual conduct is unfitting for a Catholic, they have no right to impose that on the nation."

If you believe that homosexuality is immoral or that abortion is the taking of a life, or that you believe very strongly that Terri Schiavo should remain on a tube, are you not honor-bound as a political figure to try to, in effect, bring about that result, if it's a firmly held motional belief?

REV. DRINAN (MY KINDA PADRE):  Yes and no.  Go back to Vatican II.  Three thousand bishops agonized over this, and at the end of the day, they said that the church should never seek to impose its views.  They should not have any shadow of coercion, renouncing 20 centuries of the church dominating the scene.  So I think that it's a different world, and we respect everybody else and there's lots of things that are immoral that should not be illegal.


PUDGY TIMMY:  There are now more Muslims than Jews in America.  Is there an Islamic view of the Schiavo case?  Is there a monolithic view?

PROFFESSOR ASLAN:  No, just as there isn't a monolithic view amongst Christians and amongst Jews or amongst any religious faith.  I think that most Muslims agree that life is a precious commodity, that we must endure life and we must respect it and value it.  But I also think that the important thing about this Schiavo case is that it is bringing up, not just a legal issue, but as Father said, it's bringing up this--an important debate about what life truly is. Is it just simply a heartbeat or is it a matter of quality of life?  Is it a matter of vitalism?


PUDGY TIMMY:  You are a Catholic priest, a Jesuit.  You are also a member of Congress, and then the pope told you, "Get out of politics."  What was it like when you received that order?

REV. DRINAN (THE PADRE GETS IT):  Well, it's a little more complicated than that.  They changed canon law.  I had the permission of Cardinal Cushing to run for Congress, and he was enthusiastic about it.  There were three or four Catholic priests in politics in Latin America, and they were contentious, and they were now revising canon law.  So all that the pope did was to centralize the decision. A bishop can't do it anymore, the Holy See has to do it.  And if you want to see some up-side to it, after I left Congress, I was in Brazil, talking to some priests over there, and one priest said to me, "We wept for you," but that if priests were allowed to enter the Congress all over the world, we would have people who were very conservative, fascists, the brothers of generals becoming elected in Latin America.

PUDGY TIMMY:  You don't miss it?

REV. DRINAN:  Democrats say they're not happy up there these days.

Watching Pudgy Timmy bob and weave this morning reminded me that it seems we have supplanted the 12-step du jour society for an evangelical one, with organized religion seizing upon our general level of emptiness as individuals trying to find our way in a rapid-fire world with all the cookie cutter answers found in an interpretative account of one man's life while under the thumb of despotic Rome. That, to me, has always been the historical context of the Jesus allegory and it may be that Jesus in his real form was probably a number of characters put to the cross as political prisoners or seen as a threat to the general order of things - sacrificed either at the behest of the Romans who needed some ritualized blood letting (and they were heavy into the need for symbolic sacrifices and punishments) or the Jews with their own political ambitions in mind - with the Legions or the Praetorian Guard running an Abu Ghraib-like interrogation facility of their own in the land of Judea ... and who under Caesar could fault them for making a few mistakes and creating a martyr or two along the way?

Martyrs, like Christ and his apostles, were a very big deal in the ancient world - and they were necessary to fuel the debate between religion and politics and power. The Catholic Encyclopedia takes the exploration of martyrs from there:

Acceptance of the national religion in antiquity was an obligation incumbent on all citizens; failure to worship the gods of the State was equivalent to treason. This universally accepted principle is responsible for the various persecutions suffered by Christians before the reign of Constantine; Christians denied the existence of and therefore refused to worship the gods of the state pantheon. They were in consequence regarded as atheists. It is true, indeed, that the Jews also rejected the gods of Rome, and yet escaped persecution. But the Jews, from the Roman standpoint, had a national religion and a national God, Jehovah, whom they had a full legal right to worship. Even after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the Jews ceased to exist as a nation, Vespasian made no change in their religious status, save that the tribute formerly sent by Jews to the temple at Jerusalem was henceforth to be paid to the Roman exchequer.

Doesn't it always come down to death and taxes and who exactly is passing the plate on Sundays? And there's no reason better to ask for just a little bit more when the anniversary of martyrdom is at hand.

For some time after its establishment, the Christian Church enjoyed the religious privileges of the Jewish nation, but from the nature of the case it is apparent that the chiefs of the Jewish religion would not long permit without protest this state of things. For they abhorred Christ's religion as much as they abhorred its Founder. At what date the Roman authorities had their attention directed to the difference between the Jewish and the Christian religion cannot be determined, but it appears to be fairly well established that laws proscribing Christianity were enacted before the end of the first century. Tertullian is authority for the statement that persecution of the Christians was institutum Neronianum - an institution of Nero - (Ad nat., i, 7).

Of the 249 years from the first persecution under Nero (64) to the year 313, when Constantine established lasting peace, it is calculated that the Christians suffered persecution about 129 years and enjoyed a certain degree of toleration about 120 years. Yet it must be borne in mind that even in the years of comparative tranquillity Christians were at all times at the mercy of every person ill-disposed towards them or their religion in the empire. Whether or not delation of Christians occurred frequently during the era of persecution is not known, but taking into consideration the irrational hatred of the pagan population for Christians, it may safely be surmised that not a few Christians suffered martyrdom through betrayal.

From the age of Constantine even still greater veneration was accorded the martyrs. Pope Damasus (366-84) had a special love for the martyrs, as we learn from the inscriptions, brought to light by de Rossi, composed by him for their tombs in the Roman catacombs. Later on veneration of the martyrs was occasionally exhibited in a rather undesirable form; many of the frescoes in the catacombs have been mutilated to gratify the ambition of the faithful to be buried near the saints (retro sanctos), in whose company they hoped one day to rise from the grave. In the Middle Ages the esteem in which the martyrs were held was equally great; no hardships were too severe to be endured in visiting famous shrines, like those of Rome, where their relics were contained.

So, essentially, the entire psychotic rabble of evangelicals clutching "graven images" and praying for Saint Schiavo's mystical powers is based on nothing more than a suspension of disbelief - a literary tactic mastered by guys like Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy - which means that the writer throws in a few key historical facts and weaves a mind-blowing narrative with larger than life characters around which the storytelling and dialogue confers status to the plot. Some may call this hypothesis a form of blasphemy - and I readily admit that it is only "best guess" from a number of theological accounts, mind you - and they may even chalk this up to a deviant's acidic rationale, but in reality this Jesus archetype probably lived a dissident's humble existence with a loyal group of followers who were trying to find their own way in a harsh ancient world and he died a violent death for giving people hope or thinking beyond the horizon or mountaintop. Sounds like a version of Martin Luther King with a lesser form of weaponry ... the more I think about it.

But overall Easter is a symbol of rebirth, and in that sense I wholeheartedly join with your reason to celebrate for that reason only - no matter the religious affinity, or whether you believe in the Easter Bunny or not - because the winter of our extreme discontent is finally over and here comes Spring.

Enjoy the silence, hope that many more of us have awakened to the cold reality and don't do something really stupid while on a chocolate buzz.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Ayatollah Dubya Issues a Fatwa and Cable TV News Becomes Al-Jahzeera

"The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin -- and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost."
- Vaclav Havel

"I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes and I don't think I'd be waving those [Gay Pride] flags in God's face if I were you."
- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club television program, August 6, 1998

The Texas Stranglers - our child preznut, Dubya, and "Bugman" Tom Delay - along with Senator "Doktor Mengele" Frist went off the deep end this week, but nobody seems to know what this all means ... not just yet, anyways. The whole and sordid notion of a "culture of life" was lost, once again, in a staggeringly vast Skinner Box of rabid dumbness and bitterly placed innuendo that apparently represents nothing at all and were put together at the cost of interrupting Sunday afternoon brunch for a host of politcally needy Congressmen who were denied the golden opportunity to wine and dine only Washington's best cash and carry flesh ... never mind that in the rest of the civilized world this weekly endeavor is widely regarded as the world's second oldest profession.

The religious right base, a sleazy collection of defrocked and delusional priests, constitutional attorneys, slimy moralists and crackerjack punishment addicts, have spent the better part of four years roaming about people's bedrooms and hijacking the Rethug party to examine almost everyone for alleged sex crimes and un-Godly thoughts in places like Miami and Columbus and deep into the East Los Angeles barrio.

The calculated quid pro quo was to trade away social freedoms for theocratic jurisdiction, while establishing a pattern of some kind of bond between starving the beast known as the federal budget and erecting a series of smoke screens to tangle the scent - but there was never any firm agreement on anything but the high cost of inserting a feeding tube when the clock on billable hours runs twenty-four hours a day.

There was even more hollow muttering and vicious slander and endless paranoid moaning that arrived via the media pimps, crooked preachers, dirty cops and crud merchants. Freaks with bad teeth and even worse breath and skin conditions were pounding the desks of CNN and MSNBC and FOX and staggered aimlessly into the legions of security guards protecting Terry Schiavo - our pundit patron saint of the Million Dollar Baby gone insane - from receiving a non-court-ordered glass of water or Wheat Thin. There was a sense of ignorance turning into madness followed by anger amongst the medical profession for allowing Bill Frist to take the Hypocratic Oath.

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post jumped knee deep into the issue with front page analysis into the life and times of America's worst and most baffling social lightning rod since John Wayne Bobbitt had his manhood tossed on the side of the road, as the rest of the nation continues on its collision course with doom, despair and duncehood.

The final obituary by the media wonks held hostage by this age of irrational fanaticism will clearly be an expansive roadmap on everything ever transcribed or analyzed within the breadth of the DSM IV - The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - starting with anxiety conditions, a wide and general level of manic-depressive psychosis and a massive collective dip into every kink, disturbance and perversion since Freud took his first hit of cocaine and dreamt of trains and tunnels and fruits and vegetables contorted into sexual organs. Our last slip into a theocracy of the banal, due sometime in July when the Chinese hold a fire sale on our federal debt and Dubya goes fishing in Lynchburg for a Supreme Court Justice, will be the end of what we once knew as the American Century.

The reaction to our demise will be almost predictable and the rundown to the end will be less intelligent and probably more violent than the French Revolution on Mark McGwire's secret stash of anabolic steroids. There will be widespread looting and tenured professors being led out in the square by the short hairs for a lengthy stoning by evangelical whackjobs - and soon enough even the moderates will start pissing their pants and pushing shopping carts filled with cardboard and copper pipes and empty bottles and cans to convince the extremists that they are more insane than intellectually malleable. John Ashcroft will be yanked out of retirement and appointed a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court - even if nobody drops dead from natural causes or a scheduled plane crash in the Rockies. The hottest rumor of the day features a persistent rumor between the Big House and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is known to be suffering from an advanced stage of senility or trench foot or cancer of the testicles. Many of our nation's best genetic scientists and most profitable pornographers expect to be rounded up by the Homeland Security Department on the night that Ashcroft packs his church organ and moves up into the high court with all the pomp and circumstance of General MacArthur taking back the Philippines.

So while a new CBS poll shows that 82 percent of the respondents want Dubya and our first Evangelical Congress to stay out of the Saint Schiavo case - and the rest of the world wonders why America seems more enraptured than appreciative of the freedom it chooses to enforce around the globe - Brother Jeb seems more Pontius Pilate than Governor of Florida as Good Friday turns into a good night and the usual suspects start preening their feathers for the fallout once Our Lady of the Worthless Feeding Tube passes away, while Operation Rescue's Randall Terry pulls a Lee Harvey Oswald and starts attacking the County Coroner's meat wagon with a high-powered rifle aimed from the odd vantage point of a church steeple.

There is no absolute concensus about how this will play out for 2006 - and, ultimately, 2008, when all the cards get played once and for all - but the heavy hitters are already taking bets and gathering names for the draw ... and there are operatives working overtime tonight who get paid large because they are smart about politics and elections, and they are not advising anyone of note to place their hard-earned cash on either Doktor Frist or John McCain once the nuts are dropped into the vise for the glare of a media primary excursion that seems more Miss Teen USA through Blood-of-Christ-colored sunglasses than a slash and burn deathmarch toward the GOP's prudish refusal to face facts.

They are not stampeding down to the window to bet on Brother Jeb or Pat Robertson, either, for that matter. But Jeb is kaput already, unless Terry Schiavo sprouts angel wings in Pinellas Park and gives birth to the second coming, and Robertson is just another one of those fanatic high-stakes multi-millionaire televangelists who have descended upon this political age in the name of Jesus H. Christ because a good buck can be made by passing the ignorance plate. But Robertson has some good things working in his favor, and in the world of big-time politics, early victories are key indicators and are often won at the margins, so it seems more a factor of what your opponent isn't than what you stand for, at least during the primary phase ... and once the train leaves the track and the pundits start kissing the pet rock known as the front-runner, the clock cannot be turned back. A lot can change between now and 2008, and three years is a lifetime in politics, but given the current state of theocratic mania brewing where alcohol and ammunition can still be purchased in the same corner store, Robertson looks about as dead-lock as any candidate does in present form. He sounds more like a wealthy uncle than a freakish religious deviant with avarice in his soul. So if Doktor Frist is a fire-breathing speed bump and John McCain remains a stupifying gasbag of biblical proportions, Boss Reverend looks pretty appealing to the prayer tent wingnuts at this moment - or at least like the certifiable theocratic fly in the ointment, until the Rethug powers-that-be can latch onto something less conflicted. Robertston may never make it to the Big House, but truly he feels that God speaks to him and to us through him, and he will not be easy to beat as long as they still can tack up little white crosses on plywood churches.

He is a fortunate man who has not lost the petty urge to ram christianity down our throats, and that counts for a lot in game of politics these days. Dubya has always managed to pull out the great victory with a little help from his thuggish operatives in the field, but he is not really a spiritual fellow, and when all is said and done he will be chased out of Washingon like some mad poison swine gone giddy on greed. The Chimperor will be lucky to get out alive ...

Boss Reverend won't face the same fate. He's a man of God, or so he says, and he has a vast television empire - uncontrolled by the idea of fairness in media or equal time - along with his own reporters who will swear that God speaks to him almost nightly ... even though they are on the payroll. Robertson can pull apart the numbers and polls better than Karl Rove, uses the Good Book as his Karen Hughes, and he knows how to raise campaign finances because he does it on a daily basis, while spouting recommendations ranging from the stoning of UFO enthusiasts because demons can appear as slanty-eyed, funny-looking creatures and blaming Muslims for slavery in the US and calling AIDS the "hammer and gun" of the homosexual movement. "We have enough votes to run the country," he once opened at a Washington for Jesus rally. "And when the people say, 'We've had enough,' we are going to take over."

To the uninformed spectator, this political clash will be an incredible struggle between David Hasselhoff cast as Jesus and Osama Bin Laden in the form of Democratic Party, but in reality, the fate of a once great nation will rest on a blindspot that no one can quite yet see. Robertson will set up shop near his CBN headquarters in Virginia Beach, which will then become known as the "altar of the free world," and even though he will do his due dilligence with the botox shots and facial peels, Boss Reverend will say that Jesus has given him that jaw-droppingly attractive sepia glow because he's running for president and many will ring the call center with a love offering.

"If Christian people work together," Boss Reverend once penned in his self-titled Pat Robertson's Perspective in 1992. "They can succeed during this decade in winning back control of the institutions that have been taken from them over the past 70 years. Expect confrontations that will be not only unpleasant but at times physically bloody ... This decade will not be for the faint of heart, but the resolute. Institutions will be plunged into wrenching change. We will be living through one of the most tumultuous periods of human history."

"When it is over, I am convinced God's people will emerge victorious."

And now back to Joe Scarborough for another breaking story on the Saint Schiavo vigil - "she still isn't dead!" - and perhaps another gratuitous Nazi death camp comparison brought to you by the people of Enzyte, Cialus and Levitra.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

Existential Terror ... The Rethug Playbook on Amphetimines


amphetamine noun. A colorless, volatile liquid, C9H13N, used as a central nervous system stimulant in the treatment of certain conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and narcolepsy, and abused illegally as a stimulant.

"I like the idea of people running for office. There's a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America. I don't know, I don't know if that will be their platform or not. But it's -- I don't think so. I think people who generally run for office say, vote for me, I'm looking forward to fixing your potholes, or making sure you got bread on the table."
- Dubya brings us his favorite local political issue (potholes) of representative government, Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005

"The only way to look at a politician is down."
- H.L. Mencken

We are still too caught up in the collateral damage now to consider all the ramifications and understand what truly has taken place in these last four frenzied years ... or to consider for a moment that the Real Intendment of what our current corporate oligarchy calls the "The Post 9/11 World" and what historians will forever term as "Shock and Awe Democracy" which will surface not so much from the day-to-day events of Iraqi self-determination and America's new role in shaping geopolitical borders - or even from our own terminal destiny with the unpaid purchase order - but mostly from what the survivors will inevitably accept as what all of this madness really cost us in the end.

Here, to take the Lord's name in vain, is a Jesus Christ-sized mini-series right out of The Sopranos: tragedy, conspiracy, dark and off-the-wall humor, and the unending suspense of never really knowing who was lying or who was running his mouth to the bank of corrupt feds or who was telling the truth all along ... These days it hardly seems to matter much to the vast wasteland of political greenhorns who find themselves ensnared by a 24-hour Orwellian dysinformation campaign - as it is being played out in the duplicitous morass known as "organized media" - like it was another summer rerun of Desperate Housewives or American Idol with tanks, humvees, jets and missles as the teen heartthrobs. Not even hardcore libertarians or your garden variety moderates quite know what to make of this direction we have chosen or have even a remote clue as to whether we have reached the other end of this phase or whether we're trapped in a constant state of bizarre transmutation.

The massive downstream fallout from this exercise, the raw and sometimes petty drama of the daily malfeasance and the deceptively played ignorance from Our Preznut, "Chimpy McFlightsuit," comes together in a multi-tiered plot that appeals to almost every form of curious mind - from the bleeding heart activist and peacenik demonstrator to the tightly packed constituency of Barnaby Jones aficionados and the millions of silent voices whose sole interest in these proceedings is the inevitable spectacle of envisioning once-dominant and self-righteous men brought down to their knees like Jimmy Swaggart whimpering for our forgiveness.

Consider Donald "Redrum" Rumsfeld and Paul "Dopey" Wolfowitz, as examples - a pair of career bureaucrats and close allies of every Rethug chief executive since Gerald Ford - who, if they were Romans back in the ribald days of Tiberius and Claudius, would have purchased only the best gladiators by loaning Caesar the cash at triple the going rate. They are the ideological toxic waste from the Reagan Revolution as it then played out in the penetralia of the Defense Department, who rationalized and supported Saddam's brutal existence in one instance and then both signed the infamous PNAC letter faxed off to Bubba in 1998, by simply stating that "the only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction" and advocated for the "[removal of] Saddam Hussein and his regime from power" ... Here were two career insiders with enough camouflage to erase even the faintest heat signature and so much power that they considered it a normal day's work to treat the CIA, the Department of Defense and every federal agency with a diplomatic or intelligence mission statement like brainless minions in their own private agenda ... and who could summon battalions, clandestine forces, covert paymasters or even a few well-placed assets in the so-called liberal media establishment by simply punching the "homeland security" buzzer under their desks.

And suddenly, just at that wonderful moment when the Saddam statues fell, they casually put their initials on some benign memo proposing that the use of torture leading into an election year would fall to the back pages of The Nation or Salon with hardly a bit of outrage or even probing questions during the weekly Pentagon press briefings - and several months later while basking in the adoring glare of Neo-Con power-players at Cafe Milano, both get a call from some administration flunkie that could take the heat if the message got mangled, whom neither of them really knows from the daily cabinet briefings, saying that the press got a hold of some photos showing a group of the detainees being dragged around like anesthetized chihuahuas to a water dish filled with lava rocks ...

It all seems like a bad atavistic dream, at first, like it first did when Dutch got hit with that little scandal called "Iran-Contra," because Ollie North couldn't keep his business "off the farm" - as it was first theorized back then - but when they get back to the White House to see their old buddy Dubya, it seems that something has gone terribly wrong. Both Alberto Gonzales and Dick Cheney are in the Oval Office with the preznut; Dubya welcomes Redrum and Dopey with that waxy smile and chimpish expression when he get his nuts in a vise, but otherwise he says nothing because little Alberto advised him that it was in his best interest to keep quiet. A queer tension hangs in the air like a lead cloud and Redrum is the first to flinch. How will this play out in the press? Wolfowitz starts to shift himself to the couch and motion for a drink but Cheney cuts this off at the pass: "We're working out the details on this, Paul. Scooter will give you the run down later tonight at home ... from a pay phone."

Redrum stares back at the room, realizing that he's just been handed the murder weapon, then he reaches for his swollen leather briefcase and barks out his best subordinate good afternoon. Mother of fucking Christ! What the hell was that all about? During his clipped march back to the Secret Service Escalade, he sees Scooter and Scottie reading an early morning edition of The Washington Post and he angrily shoots off a nice morning to you as they stroll by ... Less than thirty minutes later, Redrum descends upon the Pentagon Situation Room like Count Dracula overcome by a major league bloodlust, along with a carton of Cubans, the Sy Hersh story and the best and the brightest serfs to be found among the recent graduation classes at West Point and Annapolis; some of the lesser known cowboys in the Department are already rounding up their personal effects and trading in their bathroom keys for an extended stint in the Near East Division, which means it will take another Rethug administration before they can trade spit with another hot Air Force captain. Things couldn't be worse for the boys and girls on Redrum's team - and mixing it up with Dick Cheney is like asking a Medellin loan shark for an extension and eating the interest.

That was his last good day in Washington in a harsh nutshell. We will probably never know what he and Dubya talk about these days, nor how they actually communicate, because Alberto and Dubya's Number Two know what happened to Nixon when he made a couple of calls from one of the White House phones that fed into the tape-recording system ... Redrum was not relegated to Fredo status - officially - but when your boss can't be seen in the same room with you for an extended period of time ... let's just say that the Secret Service will duck in the event that shots are fired in your direction and your virtues will be fabricated to such a layer of deception that Congress may actually name a highway in your behalf, albeit posthumously.

Indeed ... and now we have drifted off into some dangerous compound equation. And it's beginning to mushroom into some unmanageable entity, much like our obsessive soiree in Iraq ... But before we zoom off into the panoramic camera shot just above the horizon, it would be unfair not to dig deeper into the mothership of our current discontent further, a reacherous cabal so ruthless it was called the "California Mafia" by its detractors and responded in kind with gnarled fangs, angry threats to just about anyone who opposed them and subpoenaed enough dissidents to the point of begging for a poorhouse deep in the mean streets of Calcutta. Dubya is - in the same instance - the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Lee Atwater, a vile and noxious combination of planned dementia and social carcinogen, armed with the same level of acute psychosis that absolves the master when he blasts the hell out of the enemy to prove that God was still protecting them ... which in the case of Ronald Reagan was manifest during a microphone check before one of his Saturday radio broadcasts: "My fellow Americans. I'm pleased to announce that I've signed legislation outlawing the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes." Without becoming too obviously unfair with this point, the administration certainly could not send a diplomatic envoy to Al-Qaeda to smooth down the feathers, so to speak, nor could it ask Muslims to question Islamic views of reality without questioning their own religious motives ... because for many untold Americans, it would unleash its own brand of soul-wrenching terror about the very terror we have unleashed.

But at least Rethugs and Democrats can agree on one thing tonight: Dubya is no Ronald Reagan. But ironically, both Dubya and Reagan draped themselves in the shrouds of religious conservatism at home and openly pushed for religious moderates or even liberals abroad - seeing foreign religious conservatives as constituting huge threats to America's interests. Yet even Reagan's unburdened view of the world has now proven very costly in the new century, on many wide and synergistic fronts, his decision to destroy communism at any cost meant that we funded terrorists in Central America and that our hard-earned tax dollars were used by dictatorships worse than even Uday and Qusay and led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Under his watch, Dutch also provided intelligence and supplies to Saddam Hussein and gave Stinger missles and paramilitary training to the same band of Islamic fascists who eventually became the Taliban and now have retreated back to Afghanistan's other disturbing legacy - by doing for the heroin marketplace what the Cali cartel did for cocaine. Dubya, as well, has shown that not considering the complexity of the world is costly on many fronts - placing it in a constant state of existential terror that plagued the late 20th Century and endures even today - because his approach on the threat of global terrorism will only feed the very forces that want to kill us all.

In the end, when considering the tragic and compounding costs, perhaps Dubya, too, shares the same fiscal sense as his master, Ronald Reagan, who once remarked about the government's ability to outspend its means, "I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself."

Jesus, Lord Almighty, those were the days, eh?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Off With Their Heads and Other Curious Delivery Systems

"The United States and the U.S. stand together in support of the Iraqi people and the new Iraqi government, which will soon come into action."
- Dubya redefines the present coalition forces in Iraq, Brussels, Belgium, February 22, 2005

"Sometimes, words have consequences you don't intend them to mean. 'Bring 'em on' is the classic example, when I was really trying to rally the troops and make it clear to them that I fully understood, you know, what a great job they were doing. And those words had an unintended consequence. It kind of, some interpreted it to be defiance in the face of danger. That certainly wasn't the case."
- It's kind of hard to draw that conclusion if you revisit the evidence accumulated over years of listening to Dubya, Washington, D.C., January 14, 2005

Friends tell me I watch way too much pundit TV, but they are only half-right. There's a wide disparity between simply "tuning in" for the lastest spin session on CNN or ABC or MSNBC - or the Home Shopping Network, for that matter - and charting a course that actively responds to the public relations slime job being rammed into cyberspace like Play-doh through a fun factory fuzzy pumper. The key distinction, for the vacant and retarded and uninformed, is the moment it takes to stand on the ledge in a moment of total freedom with the adrenaline vibrating through your fingertips and a tragic misstep that leads to a meaningless and terrible death.

The lesson from all of this is that you must be an educated observer, and you have to throw each broadcast over on its side to truly understand who benefits most from the message: If all you learn from the constant disorganized barrage of fractured facts and bloated commentary is the story appears to be truthful, you have been sentenced to a lifetime of confusion and horror beyond human capacity - especially if you have one of those high-end satellite systems beaming seven hundred TV stations, non-stop, in the form of a jagged white hum - from which the deliberate distortions are marked by some hellish metronome bent to hyperspeed. Our world is surrounded by a cool plasma oasis today, whether the medium is TV or HDTV or Internet, and it's getting even harder to pinpoint the distinction. The only difference between Peter Jennings on ABC and Hewged B. Clanked pimping overstock asian pornography by way of some exploited email list that burped out your domain is not so easy to comprehend when all you've done is sit in front of a terminal while the whole world is trying to lift the last bottom dollar from your wallet. These are the sum of all the passive-aggressive activities driven by incessant greed and the petty need to control, and the voices sound so genuine and concerned that it seems like it's coming from your own conscience - as if it were a whisper calling out to you during the transition of one dream and into another - until you can no longer escape the inevitable choking sound in your throat.

This is what happens when technology passes too much information at a dizzying and convergent pace, forcing you to parse out every fifteenth word just to keep up, which is like neglecting to read the fine print before you drove off the lot in that practical used car with the great finance rate that you just had to have - the one with the new coat of paint and bald tires and the pesky leak in the radiator - and many good people get taken on a bad deal every day.

Hell almighty, meandering once again, but not so far from the point I was trying to make - because any mention of "bad deal" can always be traced back to the dubious and painful reality that is Dubya. Our peachy and sociopathic child preznut, The Chimperor of Crawford. He has this deep-seated resentment about serving overseas in an unpopular war ... Clearly, he does, but we'll dig deeper into these matters at another time. But we should not totally release on this point right now, because it has a lot to do with our level of uneasiness about Iraq and the personal ideas we keep to ourselves on the nature of this conflict, even if we were to separate logic from the rationale we were spoonfed all too efficiently, then we breath a collective grunt from having been steamrolled by that coordinated scam called The Hunt for WMD, like it was penned by a drunken Tom Clancy trying to meet a publisher's deadline ... which evolved into a series of terrorist connections to Al-Qaeda and, only then, was fashioned into a pro bono exercise to spread gunship democracy in the repressive Arab world. Facts can become very flexible in this information age: Make a webpage, take donations, produce an infomercial, sign the loyalty oath, enforce message discipline ... pick any focus group tested position ... change a mind and take the ride.

Perhaps there never was a concept of in the public interest when it came to organized media, much in the sense that there never has been any concept of honor in the world of organized crime. It's all been a myth no bigger than the bogeyman living under your bed or rabid alligators running amok in the New York City sewer system. Perhaps the idea of a free and rational media - no matter the channel - bit the dust on the night Walter Cronkite declared, about Vietnam, that it was "increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could." Today these words echo like a faucet dripping in the darkness as the message machine churns out images of happy and grateful Iraqis blowing kisses into the distance like bodacious sausages in the frying pan at Denny's, while Pentagon crisis managers edit the package late into the next day, so all of it can be offloaded onto the morning drydocks feeding a media factory stripped bare of ethics and personnel and the venerable notion that news should provide a service beyond tacit servitude to the policy-elite.

It used to be that "positive spin" on the evening news was so expensive for an administration to obtain and so maddeningly difficult to manage that no public official except Richard Nixon ever rose up to the "ends justify the means" pathology of Ted Bundy without the psychotropic medication - and it was mostly out of the question to risk a spin operation in the hands of some roving journalist who might not be able to connect the dots in time. There were oversight committees with real teeth and a harsh interpretation of the equal time provision, who are now called socialists by right wing extremists aimed at your checkbooks and tax dollars and online subscriptions to Bill O'Reilly gear - but it's always done in the name of progress or sponsored by groups like The Club for Growth ... which means that somebody else is getting ahead and living fat off the public dole like Matthew Lesko minus the question marks on his suit, while "your child gets left behind" and your job gets "right-sized" and you get taxed in even newer ways because grandma can no longer live on her own because the waiting list at Golden Years Rest Home is longer than the season tickets line at the Meadowlands.

Ah, yes! The new century looks even dimmer than the old one, offering us unchecked opportunities for premeditated abuse and unheralded ways to make a buck. Anybody with a $69.95 per month PHP Server and a MySQL backend along with Zend Performance Suite and enough bogus email accounts to throttle the tsunami-spared half of Indonesia, for instance, can send two or three thousand anonymous emails a day to the prime ministers of Bangladesh and France or NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue that simply say, "REMEMBER OUR ENCOUNTER IN PRAGUE? I LOVE YOU. WHEN CAN WE EMBRACE AGAIN?" Or something more like this, "I AM THE BORDERLINE RETARDED BROTHER THAT MOM NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT. THE DOCTORS HAVE JUST RELEASED ME INTO THE WORLD SO YOU BETTER CALL BEFORE THE VOICES TELL ME TO KILL AGAIN."

Internet technology has this wonderful capability of leveling the communications playing field, and a lot of fun happens over the wire almost every night on chat rooms with web cameras and enterprising young minds devising new ways to deliver your Vicodin and Cialis and Ambien and Xanax over the wire without prescriptions. It's the same mindset that created P.T. Barnum and Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. And this same enterprising spirit lives on today from the bowels of occupied Iraq in the shape of some of our military men and women armed with personal video recorders and laptops which can burn personalized combat movies straight to DVD.

Extreme Cinema Verite: BAQUBAH, Iraq - When Pfc. Chase McCollough went home on leave in November, he brought a movie made by fellow soldiers in Iraq. On his first night back at his parents' house in Texas, he showed the video to his fiancee, family and friends.

This is what they saw: a handful of American soldiers filmed through the green haze of night-vision goggles. Radio communication between two soldiers crackles in the background before it's drowned out by a heavy-metal soundtrack.

"Don't need your forgiveness," the song by the band Dope begins as images unfurl: armed soldiers posing in front of Bradley fighting vehicles, two women covered in black abayas walking along a dusty road, a blue-domed mosque, a poster of radical cleric Muqtada Sadr. Then, to the fast, hard beat of the music - "Die, don't need your resistance. Die, don't need your prayers" - charred, decapitated and bloody corpses fill the screen.

"It's like a trophy, something to keep," McCullough, 20, said back at his cramped living quarters at Camp Warhorse near Baqubah. "I was there. I did this."

Imagine the Kevin Dillon character from the movie Platoon, a self-professed redneck with an Alabama-sized sadistic streak, who tells the others in his unit: "I like it here. You get to do what you want. Nobody fucks with you. The only worry you got is dyin', and if that happens you won't know about it anyway. So what the fuck, man?" Now imagine this Bunny character with a palm sized digital camera and a few hardcore metal CDs and a laptop with an Avid editing program, having captured his latest firefight on video. Welcome to Redrum Rumsfeld's all-volunteer army in the 21st century, a treacherous combination of My Lai and Wes Craven, with a little Vlad the Impaler and Headbangers Ball thrown in for extra spice. Any soldier can create action packed snuff movies and send them back home to his buddies via e-mail or by way of a secure edge-server, uncensored by the military, and this practice has become a cottage industry of "photographs and video footage depicting mutilation, death and destruction that soldiers collect and trade like baseball cards." Several websites already sell some of this snuff footage from the war - which in many cases seems more like MTV meets Faces of Death, the Iraqi years.

"It gets the point across," McCullough said. "This isn't some jolly freakin' peacekeeping mission."

In the end, who really needs a big brother when you're already watching and imitating him?

This is Team Gonzography. Signing off. Good night.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Strange Myths and Arguments from A Loser's Den


"It's an important concept for our fellow citizens to understand: That no one in need will ever be forced to choose a faith-based provider. That's an important concept for people to understand. What that means is if you're the Methodist church and you sponsor an alcohol treatment center, they can't say only Methodists, only Methodists who drink too much can come to our program. 'All Drunks Are Welcome' is what the sign ought to say."
- Dubya's uplifting Tony Robbins moment in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2005

Some stories in the naked city are terribly messy, and this one could take a very long time to tell if I ventured to describe all the sordid particulars and reasons for all the blame and bizarreness and freakishness that surfaced along the journey and rationalized all the blood on the walls. It's a pretty vain time to be American - and it's getting more and more dangerous, but we'll get back to that point later.

The last thing I did before taking that tragic leap of faith that kept me free from an unrelenting depression over the current state of political affairs these days was to tune into Hardball for another menagerie of despair, speculation and provocateurism, alternating between moments of low-grade cosmic precision and a suicidal tendency that reared its ugly head in the forms of Marie Cocco, columnist for The Washington Post, and Tony Blankely of the Moonie Times, another bastion of journalistic mendacity.

Such scandalous bastards! These freakazoids pundits are the same retreads who played the lead role of organized lap dogs for the last biggest deception of an administration, known in the criminally insane wing of the Rethug party as the "Reagan Revolution," a grotesque collection of down-low misfits and cranky ideologues and high-stakes racketeers so befuddled with psychosis and esurience that Baby Doc Duvalier was their Ricardo Montalban and Imelda Marcos became a pin-up gal.

And the nation had fallen for the Gipper's cruel hoax. But so what? Americans love hucksters and carneys and fairy tales, as they say in Hollywood back lots, and we are easily inspired by the sleight of hand in front of a circus tent and the big lie from our desperate politicians constantly in re-election mode, which explains why pinheads like Billy Mays can get rich with mind-numbing infomercials hawking truck loads of Kaboom and OxiClean, while good men are forced to die like dogs in the street ... I am not exactly sure if I should fork over the credit card or pop a cap in my temple from hearing, "Woooooood Driiiiiiiiiies Oooooouuuut," a thousand freaking times a day. Call now and get a "reusable" cleaning bucket as long as you can handle the noise pollution ... or a win a date with Ron Popeil - inventor of " The Pocket Fisherman" and "Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler" and "GLH-9 Hair in Can Spray" - with an orange glow coated gopher grabber shoved down your piehole to muffle the shrieks of boredom during an all-expenses paid trip on a deserted island to make ass-children.

Ha, ha, ha, Sparky. How's that one for a funhouse mirror? There is no worse agony in life than to realize that in the course of every thirty seconds no less than a thousand Americans could be inspired to dial Billy Mays' toll free number, which probably gets answered in places like Bangalore and Manila, shifting the American trade deficit another fifty cents each time you grapple with the Gator grip.

Ah, but never mind this fruitless dive into the shadowy realm of infomercials. They are no more appropriate than the nightly post-mortem on the American Century that seems to ooze from the White House like a giant blob of liquified Kobe beef with the Jesus H. Christ five-alarm hot sauce - and, in fact, it may be a harsh reminder that at least 51% of our lost nation hasn't evolved much past the simple cause-and-effect that fire does indeed burn.

So is it any surprise that Dubya, still clutching to the twisted belief that he has this huge and all-encompassing mandate, is officially changing his name to "God's Preznut."

"He has already remarked that God wanted him to be President," a top cabinet official says. "By changing his name to 'God,' he's just making it official." Dubya feels this will solidify his authority, says the aide. "He can't wait to send a bill to Congress and say, 'Pass it. It's God's will.'

"He told me, 'Whenever liberals raise an objection to my plan to privatize Social Security, I'll just point to our currency where it says 'In God We Trust' and say, 'Lookie over here? It says In ME we trust.' And when the moonbats say I must be impeached for lying about the war in Iraq, I'll remind them that the Pledge of Allegiance says that 'Murika is 'one nation, under ME.'"

Dubya also feels changing his name will give him more clout on issues like teaching creationism in schools, faith-based social programs and abortion. The preznut also thinks it will help win the war on terror. "When I say to the radical Muslims, 'This is the voice of God. Surrender!' they'll stop attacking us," he once told a counter-intelligence advisor.

Many Democrats are going ballistic, but admit there isn't anything they can do. Said a top Democratic senator, "We can't come out against God. We'll get killed."

The narrative and its symbolism could go on for hours from here, but what's the point? Which reminds me of an old saying - which states, in effect - that both the pragmatist and the true believer can be right, but not correct, at the same exact point on the curve. The outrage aimed at the Credit Industry lobby vis-a-vis the Bankruptcy Bill and the get-in-line-and-be-counted Rethugs and DLC-don't-rock-the-business-boat wannabees who voted their intentions for 2008, while righteous from an emotional and ideological standpoint, the crystal clear technical matter is this: a Democrat will be standing in the White House in 2008, and the fractures already appearing at the base of the party statue are crackling ... which means a fifty year trend of short term progressive thinking bordered by stretches of right wing domination will endure, at least until the deep thinkers on the left learn how to flip the script.

It goes a little like this, and it has been this way since Julius Caesar first considered that Brutus wanted him dead. Which was a solid gold bond, and he did. John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Brother Bobby and Rasputin and Martin Luther King each had a morbid fascination with the great beyond, and what the great darkness would do to their legacies. But it also recalls that the first order of politics is survival, and that the real leadership of the national Rethug party understands this object lesson with the clean and ruthless efficiency of a diamond-encrusted hacksaw.

Flashback to 1992, when they said, "It's the economy, stupid." And how James Baker III, then svengali to the first Bush decent into the abyss of ruination, took his marching orders and scuttled the re-election campaign before it ever caught steam. Not out of fear for destroying the planet or giving out fat checks to key contributors or waging bloody excursions into the Third World for commodities, but because the economy was so bad that it had to be dumped on Democrats. But Bubba threw them a huge curve ball by rolling dice on the powerful lobbies that put him there, and what should have been destroyed in a short four years took millions - your millions - in special prosecutors and eight years of built-up hate. What fears the Rethug party more than anything else, even today, is the general impression that they are perceived to be more in lock step with Herbert Hoover than Ronald Reagan, and that Dubya's failures could lead to another 20 year domination of populist Democrats who could pack the Supreme Court and build new public infrastructures in the name of Big Government and go to war with new emerging enemies of the state, further distancing the right wing base into a series of walled complexes filled with hate-crazed, bottom-line maniacs and survivalists.

It almost happened - twice - right at those moments in time when Dwight Eisenhower almost decided to run as a Democrat, as did Colin Powell many years later. It was the same thought process that delivered us Wesley Clark, because he brings with him, as it was rationalized in the backrooms of power at the time, a combat-driven economy kept in order by fascist thugs weined on the breast of the military thought process, where places like Texas and Georgia and Alabama and South Carolina produce the best meat for the grinder and just a fortunate few can land in Harvard and Yale to begin their lives as career gubment spooks.

Rewind the tape back to 2000, and once again it was Baker-cubed who pulled the strings in Florida when all the nuts were tossed into the vise, and the court system was left to turn the screws. Kennedy may have been an accident that took only one motorcade to solve, but the Democrats have made short order of themselves ever since; for every single step forward since Camelot - and it could be argued since the dawn of the Korean War - the party of FDR and Truman and Jefferson has taken four steps back either in disgrace or the perception of being out of touch. Al Gore became one symbol, paying for Bubba and the blue dress, and then Kerry became another, but the pattern goes a lot deeper than just that. It reaches into the pathetic boyish wonder known as Jimmy Carter, as panacea to Nixon's vileness and treachery, and LBJ - a tinpot and ignorant precursor to our child preznut Dubya - as a monument to national mourning and the unlearned lessons of Vietnam being played out in Iraq today and, perhaps, Iran and Syria in the future.

This is all part of the gameplan, Sparky, and this, too, shall pass - maybe with all the excruciating pain of a kidney stone, but we will endure. The question is: Can we survive? The Rethugs will end up passing the torch to some passionless senator or another party hack next in line, but they are going to drop the bad debt and the Middle East mess and the misery index on the Democrats to solve and become identified with for the next twenty years. Even Dubya, in all his wretched wonder, knows the bill is coming due, and comng soon. It works in cycles - whether a few DLC wonks want to appeal to the middle or still others want to play "class warfare" as an afternoon sport on MSNBC or Air America - but the truth of it all is pure politics, and James Baker III will be called in again to do the dirty work at the docks so the bad karma and blame can be dropped into the landfill that has become the American electorate. Bill Frist and John McCain and Newt Gingrich and the daily assemblage of right wing punditry will not be amused, but they will get in line and adapt. They will go quietly into the night, if they know what's good for them and their bank accounts.

It was good old Ronald Reagan who once told everyone who was listening that "this generation may be the one that will have to face the end of the world as we know it." Thus far we've made it to 2005 - barely - surrounded by scams and pimps and misinformation and political junkies left swollen from years of personal addiction. The Gipper warned us, and I still have no reason to think that he was lying at the time. Good luck with your debts, keep your powder dry and just survive.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Staying on Theme With Pathetic Ramblings from the Freak Desk


Even with tax refund season upon us, we've been a little cash strapped here at the Team Gonzography complex on the sandy shores of Hermosa Beach. It's not a plea for paypal referrals; it's just the way things are these days. But to make up for the expenses required to operate this place, we have let some of our creative juices do the talking and recently shipped off several ideas for TV pilots for the coming entertainment cycle, which follows this loosely based "to-do-it" list if we are to have an impact on the Nielsen ratings by September - proposals and contracts with the networks in the spring, casting and pre-production by the start of summer, and an expeditious production cycle leading to the pilot itself. Our crack Hollywood representation - led by the indomitable Malosi Shapiro, the first Samoan/Jewish agent in the entertainment industry - has advised us that the vast majority of these pilots never see the light of day much less a first episode on FOX, but we remain undaunted in this challenge to impress the network executives in charge by aiming our proposals at a new and fractured viewing public at home.

Here, fresh from the shared server holding the treatments and scripts to our pilots, are just a few of the TV series we are pushing for the upcoming season:

The Metal Detector: This reality show reveals the hidden world surrounding America's "unsung heroes in the war on terror" - the security guards who frisk you at airports and make the tough racial profiling decisions and force you to take off your shoes - appears to be the front-runner, but we'll need the guy from COPs or the other narrator from Most Scariest Police Chases to get this one to committee. "As long as the test audiences don't fall asleep, this one is a go!" according to our agent.

Abdullah's Heroes: Positioned as a campy homage to the TV classic Hogan's Heroes, the setting is Camp X-ray at Gitmo, and this sit-com traces the lives and escape attempts of a ragtag pack of Al Qaeda detainees and their dim-witted American captors who seem more occupied with Beyonce posters than guarding them.

With each week comes another botched-but-humorous plot to overtake the prison camp, which is always broken up by the guards - often through pure luck - by a gregarious sergeant from with a severe eating disorder, played by Drew Carey. "We may be able to pursuade Tony Shahloub from the USA series Monk," says Malosi, our representation. "But in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Arab-Americans see the plot line in a terribly bad light."

CSI - The Archdiocese: Need I say anymore?

McQueer: Key West's meanest and badest law enforcement official just so happens to be gay, but in a real manly sort of way - at least that's the synopsis we pitched to the network execs. We have serious doubts about finding success with a homosexual storyline of any kind, unless we can get Tony Danza to play the lead role and Jude Law to take on the part of his feisty but organized significant other.

Who Let That One Go?: Another key reality TV show idea from the Team Gonzography think tank, it's all about five average Americans who eat way too much fast food - a spirited cross between Candid Camera and MTV's The Real World. They share a stylish apartment in Beverly Hills and venture out into public places with a harsh case of flatulence, and unsuspecting shoppers and visitors and church goers must guess Who Let That One Go? for tons of cash and prizes before the next commerical break. This one, we believe, has a great deal of traction and a cable deal on Spike TV is imminent.

* * *

No love in their X's and O's: "When Louisiana State professor Leigh Clemons went to to order a Patriots jersey with the name of one of her former students, [New England] cornerback Randall Gay, she was rejected, according to Rex Wockner, a columnist for, a website for gay-and lesbian-related news and issues.

Clemons was told that the league's official online merchandise center does not print 'naughty words' on jerseys. She had to make a series of phone calls to get 'Gay' on a jersey. Columnist Jim Buzinski of Outsports Magazine, which covers the gay sports community, did further research and found there are 1,159 banned words in the NFLShop filter. Among the acceptable words were 'Hitler,' 'Fag,' 'Terrorist,' and 'Bin Laden.' Buzinski's story got the NFL to revise its filtered list, and now Randall Gay fans can order a jersey with his name on it."

* * *

Fed up with having the wool pulled over your eyes? YOU can tell when your favorite politician is lying through his teeth by using the technique of a top body-language expert!

"Experienced politicians have learned to avoid body language associated with deceit," says Dr. Stephanie Gotwell of Chicago. "They don't, for example, look away when fibbing - instead they stare brazenly into the camera."

Luckily, you can see through even the wiliest politician.

"Just like a poker player, every politician has a tell - a tiny signal he unwittingly gives out whenever he's being deceptive," Dr. Gotwell explains.

"Once a politician has been caught in a single lie, all you have to do is scrutinize a videotape of the speech and find his tell' - so you can't be hoodwinked again."

Here, from the expert, are the tells of some of America's best known political figures:

BILL CLINTON -- The former Prez gestures with his index finger when lying. Most infamously, he did that on national TV when insisting, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

GEORGE W. BUSH -- Dubya's tell is a smirk before the fib. Says Dr. Gotwell: "You see the President doing it in his State of the Union address of January 2003, when he warned that Iraq had WMDs, citing as proof that 'The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
"Of course, the White House already knew that evidence had been forged."

DONALD RUMSFELD-- The crusty Secretary of Defense grimaces as if experiencing hemorrhoidal pain when he's being deceptive. Says Dr. Gotwell: "Rummy can be seen doing this last spring when he vowed publicly that all Iraqis detained by the Coalition would be 'treated subject to the Geneva Conventions."

DICK CHENEY -- The Vice President's lips always twist when he tells a whopper -- most memorably when he stated during the vice presidential debates that he'd never met Sen. John Edwards before that night.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE-- The Secretary of State's dead giveaway is a nervous laugh. Says Dr. Gotwell, "For example, prior to the invasion of Iraq, Condi told CNN that Iraq's aluminum tubes were only really suited for nuclear weapons and warned, 'We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.' But experts had already told her the tubes were for small artillery shells."

* * *

Minister Pushes 'Jesus Condoms' to End Teenage Sex: "A controversial preacher says teenagers will stop having illicit sex no matter how strong the temptation if parents will make sure they never leave home without one of his trademarked 'What Would Jesus Do?' condoms stashed away in their purse or wallet.

'WWJD condoms are a divinely inspired idea and they work like a charm,' says the Rev. Dr. Paul Morehead, whose short-wave radio broadcast from Montgomery, Ala., reaches an estimated 16 million listeners worldwide.

'Don't tell me about hormones. Don't talk to me about unbridled appetites of the flesh.

'When a young man and a young woman give in to Satan, when they strip down like animals in the wild and prepare themselves for a lusty round of heavy petting and full-blown sex, what better reminder for them to buck up than a WWJD condom with the image of our Lord and Savior right there on the package, and then, as a fail safe measure, also on the prophylactic itself?

'I've tested them with my own teenagers and hardly a weekend passes when one of them doesn't come back home with a WWJD condom completely unrolled and dangling unused from his or her fingertips or pushed up under the seat of the car as a badge of honor.

'At the very moment their temptation was strongest, they turned back from sin after seeing the boldly-lettered WWJD logo that signifies, 'Stop! Think! What would Jesus do in this situation?' '

Flabbergasted critics couldn't disagree more.

They say putting Jesus Christ on condoms isn't just tacky, it's a sacrilege -- and they openly wonder if preacher Morehead hasn't lost his mind.

'If you give a child a condom, you're pretty much telling him that sex is O.K. as long as you use protection,' fumes Marcia Kenderly, a born-again Christian with four daughters ranging in age from 13 to 18.

'Rev. Morehead says his own children show him their WWJD condoms as proof that even though they came close to having sex, they didn't.

'But how can he be sure that instead of having sex with the condom, they didn't have sex without it? I'm a married adult and I wouldn't let my husband use one of those things.

'I feel like I'm committing a sin just thinking about it.'

Naysayers aside, Morehead has arranged for a manufacturer to produce 100,000 of the WWJD prophylactics that he plans to sell for $5 a pop over the Internet and through Christian bookstores nationwide.

'All the profits will go to a home I'm building for unwed mothers,' says the preacher. 'A home that wouldn't be needed if those girls had been carrying a WWJD condom.'"

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Quien Es Mas Macho ... Jeff Gannon or Rip Taylor?


Sex. Sex. Sex. On some days you wonder what it all means. And then on some days you actually find out. It's like noticing a gigantic mushroom cloud in your rearview mirror during rush hour traffic, and you're locked into assuming the position for a cruel annihilation that is about to begin. Ka-blam! Total destruction. Nothing more to debate, it's all right there in the fiery gloom.

Some of us live for these moments of supreme clarity, these low-rent and ribald revelations that produce a hot and ruthless moment of total understanding, and on many days I can be found wallowing in the muck with them ... but there are times when I chose to ignore the naked truth. It's not so different than the raw anticipation you feel when inching toward that first decent on a roller coaster, or getting into a violent bar fight. Whoosh! An immediate charge inside your bones, eyes darting and the senses settling on a dull and distant whisper.

Extremism is the sport of deviants and fools. Some of us enjoy the ride, but you really have to want to go there after the first chance at anything.

History is chockfull of these odd and crazed beings. They surface momentarily to remind us that the pathway between man and creature is terribly narrow and then somebody throws a match into the gasoline and the road flare becomes a brushfire, and many times it can't be subdued. The foul scent of terminal perversion overtakes the motives and alibis. It happened to us in the summer of 2004 and it's been reshaped into the Iraqi Governing Council, that "dead can dance" rhumba towards the nuclear problem in Tehran and the administration's crusade to evaporate Social Security in the name of a designer crisis much like WMD. It defined our latest descent into the abyss of corporate dysinformation disguised as fair and free elections. The stretched truth is all part of the public record now; the fix is in.

It's one part Marquis de Sade on a quaalude martini, another part Fight Club, with the rest of us starting to lose our minds, along with a ton of people dying, and suddenly our boyish lad Dubya isn't quite what he was making himself out to be, now, is he? The press nursed him through two rubber-stamped elections, allegations of a cocaine habit the size of Midland, difficulty mixing Jim Beam with a steering wheel and a knocked-up receptionist at best. But Dubya is God's little wonder. His special little creature. You've been warned already, Sparky, and you'll be warned again, while we are forced to watch him bounce around the planet like a wind up toy on speed, just another self-serving testament to high stakes greed. Good old Dubya: Take a real good look at him because he's the archetype for a new American century, perhaps the last in all its gutter ball resplendence. These people who put him there - the freaks from the penthouse office spaces and supremacist think tanks and secret bunkers - it's really no mystery where they come from. We've sharpened the human instinct into a relentless need of marking our time on Earth with every petty desire or base deception or eager addiction, we have manufactured reputations to the size of the Hoover Dam, separated the world by connecting it to endless moments of instant gratification through a cybernetic network of scams and spams, recycled even the dullest and least attractive fads with consolidated house notes that are all coming due, until every living human being becomes an aspiring emperor to his own avidity, and thus becomes his own blueprint for God that the rest of us are forced to wade through daily, just to endure. So, in the end, where else can you go from here? What's left? And while we're hustling from one fabricated plight to the next because we're too overwhelmed with the meaningless details to really notice the build up, who's watching the planet as the air fills with killer particles, the water turns into chunks, and even the fish and vegetables take on the greasy aluminum taste of chemicals? And it's not about to slow down, Sparky. It will disintegrate even faster now, and there's no chance of turning it back ... we'll just keep hedging our bets on the future, or sell a version of what we want the future to look like - flat, filled with fear, religious, insane and paranoid - even when there's no future in the distance. It's Jon Voight and Eric Roberts on that Runaway Train to dawn. And there's now thousands of little Dubyas all giddy and intoxicated about this breakneck race to the future - replacing AD on the Judeo-Christian calendar with AO, for after Osama, because Frank Luntz told them that everything after September 11 was negotiable in "the minds of voters," somewhere in a 4H tent on the outskirts of Terra Haute - trapped in starched white collars or behind the scanner at a convenience store or waiting tables with no purpose or place, but always raised to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires or movie stars or rock and roll icons, while the powers-that-be are getting ready to rape and pillage God's soon to be former-planet and lick their digits clean as they reach for the bloated P/E ratio and a business plan that seems more fist-fuck than pristine. Then you wake up, but just a little too late. You can't buy back the old house note or even shit out the chemical sheen eating away at your intestines - you've been had ... and had hard, Sparky. Your therapist is a serial killer with a "thing" for runaways, your belly is distended from years of ravenous gluttony, your medical doctor is nothing but a dimestore pusher who would rather prescribe than treat, your eyes are bruised shut from the deliberate plastic beating of advertising and over-extended credit, your dick can't get up without ten minutes of porno and half a bottle of Vitamin P, and you're stuck in traffic screaming for somebody - anyone - to show you the light. But guess what? You've rolled the dice one too many times, and gambling is nothing but a tax on stupidity. We're waking up slowly, Sparky. And when enough of us get there - all at once - we're going to discover that we are a very, very pissed off bunch.

But it could be worse. An oxford-wearing, "don't ask don't tell" homosexual with a shaved head could be lobbing softball questions to your preznut in the name of "fairness in media," with a front row seat for this theatre of mass destruction. Not that having a gay man in the White House Press Corp is a problem, but at this rate we might as well contact Howard Stern or Saturday Night Live for a correspondent. Maybe former SNL regular Tim Kazurinsky could re-introduce his line of ice cream delicacies from the Carvel sketch, including "Jingle Buns", "Santa Snowballs", and "Peter, the Yule Log... in vanilla for $4.95, or chocolate for $19.95!"


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