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August 28, 2005

Of Cats and Men

Lately we’ve seen a rash of Republicans bolt the party line, as its leader, the President of the United States, articulates that line. That’s pretty dramatic – the Republicans never used to air their dirty laundry and in-fighting was under the cloak of omerta.

But just as mob members have been tripping over each other to save their skins, so too have many Republicans, and for the very same reason. With POTUS’s job approval rating at 40%, the Red party has to look to the elections of 2006 and 2008. More important, they have to start paying attention to the vox populi.

Practical as though it may be, these Republicans are showing a hell of a lot more courage that their counterparts on the other side of the aisle. It is clear that the official symbol of the Democratic Party should be changed from the donkey – as though that were a compliment – to the pussy.

For six years now, the Blue party has allowed itself to be set up like a bowling pin. Knocked down, it gets to wearin’ thin: in response to the constant claim that they all voted in favor of the Iraq War, not a single one of these pussies has shown the raw courage to step forward and say “That’s because President Bush lied to us. After 9-11, we put our faith in our leader and he betrayed us.” Nearly alone among public figures, only America’s lightning rod mom Cindy Sheehan has shown the guts to speak this truth.

The Donkeys have been lying down and taking it where the sun don’t shine for more than half-a-decade. I think that’s why they keep losing elections: the Elephants are about something. If you don’t like it, there’s no alternative so you don’t vote – or you toss your vote away on a spite candidate. Lucky for us, the odd Jesse Ventura (and, maybe, Kinky Friedman) gets elected. That keeps things interesting.

Many of my Progressive and Libertarian friends bitch and moan about how we have to destroy the two party system. Some think the Democrats and the Republicans are two sides of the same coin. They are wrong. That coin is a slug with an “X” carved onto only one side.

Right now, I long for the day when we regain a TWO party system.

Posted by Mike Gold at 10:54 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

August 23, 2005

The Times They Sure Have A-Changed

Boy, I’ve been off the air for a long, long time. Back in my day, if you called for the murder of, well, anybody, you’d get your ass fired. Particularly if you were employed by a big corporation like ABC. And I should know; I worked for ABC during the Vietnam War.

It turns out Monday night Pat Robertson, one-time presidential candidate, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, and outer of purple Teletubbies (that one will be on his gravestone), called on Monday for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him a “terrific danger’’ to the United States. That’s from the Associated Press.

He made this rather remarkable request of our government on his teevee show “The 700 Club,” which is carried on the ABC Family channel, which is owned by Disney. It’s also on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and – amusingly – syndicated to over 100 FCC-regulated broadcast stations.

Perhaps my memory is a bit foggy, but I seem to recall the FCC frowning on broadcasters calling for the murder of foreign government officials. Of course, if you call for the murder of a domestic government official, they’d get downright cranky.

Trigger-Pops Pete continued: “You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,’’ Robertson said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.’’

Nice to hear about the oil.

As much as I am startled by Mr. Robertson’s broadcast, I have to admire the way he splits with our President and embraces the traditional Republican value of fiscal responsibility. Again, according to the Associated Press, Trigger-Pops Pete said “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.’’

“And if you pledge just $100.00, maybe god will give him cancer!”

I made that last line up.

Posted by Mike Gold at 11:50 AM | Comments (58) | TrackBack

August 17, 2005

It's My Party

Whenever the Bushites utter the phrase “9-11,” the BS detector switch inside my head gets switched to overload. Today, it went off like a massive power surge at the Bally pinball plant.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, “The Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of September 11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing. The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died September 11, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black.”

Sounds like a hell of a party. In a time-honored tradition employed by magicians, dictators, and spin-masters of all sorts, when you’ve got a bad hand, give ‘em the old razzle dazzle. As Jerry Orbach once sang:

Give 'em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance

Though you are stiffer than a girder
They'll let you get away with murder
Razzle dazzle 'em
And you've got a romance

Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em
Show 'em the first rate sorceror you are
Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you've got no talent
Razzle Dazzle 'em

(copyright sometime by somebody, I’m sure)

54% of those surveyed by the Gallop/CNN/USA Today people say the war in Iraq was a mistake – “not worth going to war.” Bush’s job performance rating is lower than a UPN sitcom. Cindy Sheehan is making Bush look like a dick – although, to be fair, she’s received a great deal of help from George’s neighbors. So it’s time to whip out the old sawhorse and once again link 9-11, the mother of all apples, to the war in Iraq, the father of all oranges. Why do the Bushites think Americans are a bunch of dumb shitkickers? Well, it sure worked last year.

The Washington Post was going to sponsor this event but dropped their support once the details came to light. The Pentagon said in response "Everyone in America will pay tribute and commemorate this important day in different ways."

That may be true. I, for one, will pay tribute by cursing the day the Supreme Court – the highest court in the land – put this incompetent lying bastard and his evil masters in office.

Yep. They must have been high.

Posted by Mike Gold at 03:32 PM | Comments (53) | TrackBack

August 14, 2005

The Truth About Yoko

In promoting the musical "Lennon," which just opened on Broadway, Yoko Ono told the press that as a working class hero her late husband would have loved to see his story and music reaching such a wide audience in the “popular” format of a Broadway musical.

Well, now we know for certain. Ms. Ono lives on Mars.

Broadway ticket prices run from $46.25 for early week nosebleed seats to $101.25 for first-floor accomodations. If a working class mom and dad hire a sitter and include a dinner that is anything north of McDonalds, they’re spending well over a week’s take-home pay on Yoko's working class event. That, of course, assumes these working class folks live in the New York metropolitan area in the first place. If they walk in from the hinterlands, they’re still going to pay at least $200.00 a night (counting taxes) for a third or fourth tier hotel room.

There are a few discounted seats available at $75.00 a piece, but the theater won’t let you sign over your welfare check.

It's nice to have a spotlight on Lennon's solo work -- and it's even nicer to see something go up on Broadway that isn't a revival or a new Andrew Dice Webber production -- but I think I'll just listen to his stuff on CD. That way Ms. Working Class Hero doesn't see an additional penny.

Posted by Mike Gold at 01:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 09, 2005

A Lost Pioneer

If you’re going to die, be sure to pick a time when a big-name celebrity isn’t doing the same thing.

This is no slight against Peter Jennings, who I thought was a good anchorman and a better reporter. Besides, I think he’d agree with me on this one.

A true media pioneer died a couple days ago, and his passing barely got a mention on the various news programs and newspapers I monitor. John H. Johnson was the founder and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, known for Ebony and Jet (the latter combined with his initial publication, Negro Digest – a.k.a. Negro World) magazines as well as sundry interests in television production, cosmetics and fashion.

One cannot overestimate the importance of Ebony and Jet. Before their publication, there were no national magazines oriented towards the black population – and, therefore, no magazines on the racks to offer a racial and ethnic balance to the white-oriented publications of the time. In other words, prior to Johnson the only representations of black society were created and managed by white people.

This is no mean feat. He had to acquire national distribution for his magazines and secure big-name advertisers. Nobody was really selling to a national black audience at the time, and magazine distributors were well known for their, let me politely say, conservative and self-rewarding attitudes. This was all virgin turf, and in the 1940s our nation was hard-pressed to accept the possibility of financial opportunity in the black American markets. Their worldview was shaped by Amos’n’Andy and minstrel shows, both of which, for the record, continued into the 1960s. He couldn’t even buy a building for his headquarters in Chicago’s South Side – his white lawyer fronted for him.

It comes as no surprise that in the early 50s Johnson Publishing was at the forefront of the civil rights movement. In fact, many believe it was Jet’s coverage of Emmett Till’s murder in 1955 that put that publication on the map.

Today Ebony and Jet have a combined circulation of two and three-quarter million, and that doesn’t count Ebony Jr. or their book publishing. John H. Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996.

As for Peter Jennings, the man took some very strong positions against the direction television network news has been heading – a tough role to play in today’s world. He continued to pilot his broadcast even after he left the anchor chair, even while he was dying of cancer. I hope his employers at Disney will respect his efforts.

Posted by Mike Gold at 01:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 07, 2005

Happy Anniversary

As we're in the middle of our 60th anniversary celebration of the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it comes as no surprise that we've been inundated with the litany about how, if not for the nuking, one million American lives and three million Japanese lives were saved. Usually, this is followed by the statement from some baby boomer that his father was being prepped for an invasion, and no doubt would not have survived this bloody event.

Professional cynic that I am, whenever I hear this statement --€“ it is usually repeated damn near word for word -- I think about the 200,000 dead and wounded (and, many cases, later dead) Japanese. I do the math and figure there would be, what, over a million people who are NOT here today?

I have no doubt that these soldiers were being prepared for such action. Knowing the reaction to the bombings would be ugly, our government got ahead of the story; a physical act of spin control that is common to the military and was used brilliantly during the D-Day preparations.

The fact is, a great many top military commanders did not agree with this decision. They felt it unnecessary. I'll site but one source. If you think this guy was stupid, ill-informed, or a hysterical peacenik, I invite you to Google to your heart's content because plenty of well-informed people shared the opinion of General Dwight Eisenhower.

Gen. Eiserhower said: "Secretary of War Stimson visited my headquarters in Germany, [and] informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act"€¦

"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and second because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.

"It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of "€˜face.' The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude, almost angrily refuting the reasons I gave for my quick conclusions"€¦

"Japan was at the moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of "€˜face'. It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."€

Of course, even if Eisenhower was wrong and the bombing of Hiroshima was justified, that doesn't explain why we dropped a weapon of mass destruction on Nagasaki -- with far greater precision, I might add. At the very least, Truman and Stimson are smoking a turd in hell for that one.

Happy anniversary, folks.

Posted by Mike Gold at 11:07 AM | Comments (45) | TrackBack