Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blog #47: "Hear Ye, Hear Ye. . ."

“Hear Ye, Hear Ye!” a booming voice in my head keeps repeating. “Let us raise our glasses high. Let us give a toast to our federal government, that entity which proudly represents ‘a few of the people, a modicum of the time.’”

Mantra of the Bush/Cheney administration. Taking the slogan of, “we put the law on your side,” Bush/Cheney amends that to read, “we put the government on your side if you’re rich. And we solemnly swear we’ll do our damndest to make you a lot richer. As for the rest of you turkeys out there, get a life, get religion, and until you straighten up and fly right you get to pay the taxes that support us in the style to which we wish to become accustomed. So there! That’ll teach the 70% of you out there for being Democrats and independents. In our party only Republican rightwing Christian conservative yahoos need apply.”

The week’s big news stories began with the story that we all suspected was the case long before an investigation revealed its truth. It was the news that, surprise surprise, the Department of Justice under former attorney general Gonzalez used strict lines of questioning to make sure that it hired no employees, lawyers or otherwise, who were not 100% loyal to the Bush White House. Congressional testimony placed that responsibility directly on the shoulders of one Monika M. Goodling, charging she espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices. This aide exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department’s second-in-command.

This was done not just in recruiting the Justice Department’s political jobs, but also recruiting for permanent civil service positions, therefore making the practice illegal as well as immoral. One source said that among staff members she was known as “she who must be obeyed.” Whereas this kind of deck stacking makes absolute sense to the absolutists of the world, men like former Bush adviser Karl Rove and former House majority leader Tom DeLay, to many of us such behavior happens to be not just illegal, but highly immoral. This is because of all the government departments, the Justice Department in particular should not operate from a narrow partisan perspective, but should administer its justice with as wide a swath as possible as it purports to serve many aspects our widely divergent society.

All the while as he was running for president in 2000, the inveterate Bush, he of the two faces, both spewing odious vapors, wielded the specter of his bonafides as a politician by pointing out that as governor of the State of Texas he had worked closely with the Democratic leadership of the State House and Senate, and that it was he, therefore, who was the best qualified to bring the diverging political forces in Washington together. This had actually been true in Texas, for as governor he would not have gotten to first base if he hadn’t been bipartisan, for in those Good Old Days Democrats ruled the Texas roosts, including both State houses. Incessantly harping on this, the 2000 election cycle found Mr. Bush assuring us that Texas had been only the beginning, and further that he alone was the one who would reach across the aisle breaking the hold of flagrant partisanship in the Congress. That if elected the former governor of Texas would be a truly bipartisan president. What an absolute crock! What a cynical promise considering how completely the Democrats were shut out of the legislative process during Bush’s first six years, in many cases not even allowed to attend the meetings in which industry lobbyists actually wrote much of the Republican legislation of the period. It was not until the blessed 2006 elections that Democrats finally won back control of the House and Senate, and consequently began to have their voices heard.

Recently vice president Cheney pointed out to that ABC reporter that this administration does not let itself be influenced one little whit by polls. In other words, they could care less that up to 80% of the nation believes the administration is on the wrong path. He boastfully admitted ignoring the polls as if that was something of which to be proud. Whereas it may be true that a president with one ear to the wind may not be much of a leader, however, if his sense of direction is correct, at least he will be taking the nation in a direction in which its people wish to go. A true leader does not lead his nation off a cliff. A true leader does not take a horrific happening like 9/11 and attempt to skew it to his own purposes, claiming nonexistent ties of Saddam Hussein to Al Quaeda, trumping up tales of mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction and bogus claims that Hussein is months away from being able to produce nuclear weapons, thereby promulgating such a state of anxiety within the United States that Bush’s subsequent invasion of a country which had done not a single aggressive act towards the U.S., came as almost a matter of relief.

Only fools and despots arbitrarily attempt to lead their people to places where they don’t want to go. And the Bush administration seems to be top heavy with both. No sir ree sir, the vice of Cheney to the contrary, a real leader pays attention to the people who elected him, takes the public pulse often and leads the people in a direction in which they wish to be lead. Which is a reminder to us that the blessed time keeper is gently ticking away the final moments of Bush/Cheney, that its reign will soon be just a painful memory, a distant nightmare as it were. Fortunately Laura Bush is house hunting in Dallas. I really think that two ex-presidents named Bush in Houston would be a strain of our city’s delicate infrastructure. George Herbert is one thing, he had sense enough to listen to his advisers when they told him to stop, don’t enter Bagdad. Let W. settle in Dallas where all of those right wing conservatives will make him feel right at home.

And our Mr. McMeToo, alias Mr McSame, spent the early part of this week exhibiting his latest removed skin blemish while chattering away meaninglessly about how he is going to balance the budget by curtailing government spending, while at the same time renewing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, plunging full speed ahead in our occupation of Iraq with it’s ten billion dollar weekly outlay, and at the same time take care of our nation’s needs for a stable housing market and low priced gasoline. Oh and by the way, he announced he is going to bring our troops home from Iraq, but only after winning a complete victory there. Right on! How far can you bend credulity, Mr. McSame? Here’s one more question for the American voter to answer. Do you see a bankruptcy in our nation’s future? Inquiring minds want to know.

In the last couple of days Mr. McSame’s campaign has been charging that the Obama campaign is playing the race card. Of course he’s playing the race card, you worthless twits, he’s black! What other card would you expect him to play? And you, mister bereft-of-ideas, are playing the Caucasian card for all its worth. And given the recent Caucasian history of your party I would predict that it’s not worth all that much.

In the first draft of this paragraph I called the presumptive Republican nominee Mr. McMeToo. In a revellation of massive proportions I renamed him Mr. McSame, because it damn near rhymes with his real name, McCain. The way he has been coming on of late, disparaging Senator Obama’s character, trying to associate him with the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and demeaning his motives, we think Mr. McShame might be a more appropriate moniker. So there you have our three variations, Mr. McMeToo, Mr. McSame, and Mr. McShame. Which name do you favor? Ir none of the above then make up your own name for him.
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Back during the dim dark days of the Vietnam war the nation’s newspapers were nonplussed. What to do? U.S. presidents don’t lie; let me further qualify that, U.S. presidents do lie just like everybody else, but we have placed them on a pedestal raised so high that America’s family newspapers and television news anchors cannot call a president on his lies. The statistics LBJ was handing out in the early stages of the Vietnam War were obviously conceived in his wildest dreams. Or perhaps gleaned while high on some exotic mushroom or a highly potent blend of Hashish. At one point an ingenious reporter on N.Y.’s Herald Tribune, perhaps remembering the mythical missile gap phrase from the Kennedy/Nixon election, came up with the phrase “credibility gap” to describe LBJ’s sojourns from the realm of reality. The newspapers of the nation invoked collective sighs of relief. Newspapers don’t like to lie, at least not when they are well aware the information they are imparting is fiction. Now they had a cover. No longer having to pretend it resembled the truth, they could report on it like it was, all the while warning their readers that the administration had a “credibility gap.”

Of course, as a people we have gone a long way since then. After LBJ we had Nixon, who went on to stretch credulity to previously undreamed of lengths. And in these days of our coming of age we are no longer so naive that we think truth has any connection at all with politicians, particularly presidents. We always hope for the best, of course, but after seven years of a Bush team doing its best imitation of a totalitarian regime (all done in the name of protecting we, the people, of course) we have become all the more cynical.
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The standard myth Republican sympatheizers (hereafter referred to as Repugnant. Symps) like to use these days is the fiction that the Democratic party is no different from the Republican party, and therefore it would be a waste of your vote to support them. That is a myth being promulgated by much of the media, including Jack Cafferty and Lou Dobbs of CNN. Let’s go back fifteen years, shall we? Bush 71 had come off of a high during Gulf War I, only to get mired down in an economy which showed the strains of financing a full scale military operation completely on credit. Under Bush 71 the budget deficits loomed large but surmountable. Bill Clinton took office, and the economy soared. Job creation was at a maximum, and although a disturbance happened in the Balkans, no war developed from it. The conflict was resolved merely by the threat of bombing. And in response to the bombing of two of our African embassies, and of the naval vessel Cole, Al Quaeda training facilities were bombed in Afghanistan. But again no war. A smooth running federal government, fueling an unprecedented period of growth, and get this, all the while Republicans one and all were screaming and hollering “nay!” at every step of Clinton’s way, and in spite of the Republican’s investigating him every which way to breakfast, by putting the interests of the country ahead of his own party Bill Clinton managed to reduce the federal deficit in his eight years in office and actually ended up creating a surplus. A surplus Bush 73, was quick to turn into a pile of red ink, and we all know where the federal deficit has gone from there. Straight to the Christian right’s heaven.

Why do we, the American public, continually delude ourselves with this threadbare Republican nonsense? Supply side economics, the mainstay of Republican rule under Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover created a massive depression which took Franklin Roosevelt his first two terms to begin to get under control, and after America was attacked at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt even funded the ensuing world war in such a way that the nation was not financially crippled. In fact, thanks to rationing, war bond sales, and other matters of the like the US emerged from the war economically stronger than ever. Democrats were strong until Eisenhower’s two terms, then they won back the presidency by the skin of their teeth under John F. Kennedy. After Kennedy’s assassination Johnson stepped into the presidency, and jumped feet first into the Vietnam War. He won one full term running against Barry Goldwater, some say after a tv commercial spread fear of Goldwater’s nuclear trigger finger. But Vietnam did not go as planned, and at the end of his first full term in office Johnson proclaimed that he would not run again for the presidency. A wildly contested presidential race ensued during which anti-war candidate Bobby Kennedy who was leading the Democratic pack was shot and killed, and Hubert Humphrey ended up being the Democratic candidate, with Richard Nixon winning the general election thereby enabling him to draw out the Vietnam War for another four years.

Republicans returned to their true mettle of deregulation and a weak federal government during the mid term election of Clinton’s first term, and by Bush 73 they were well entrenched in deregulating the government. People tend to forget that the reason banks and other such entities got regulated in the first place was due to their irresponsible behavior with people’s money back in preRooseveltian days. But modern economic wizards like Texas A&M economics professor turned politician Phil Gramm managed to deregulate the energy industry just in time for Enron to take its spectacular dive, and then he quickly deregulated banks so that he could step down from the Senate to a lofty position with the Swiss banking firm of UBS. From there he can comfortably watch while any number of American financial institutions enjoying the benefits of Gramm’s deregulation, go belly up, and in his prevailing omniscience Gramm has called our American complainers “whiners.” He was McShame’s economic advisor (and very likely his Treasury Secretary tobe in the unlikely event of a McShame presidency) until the fallout from his whiner comment forced McShame to distance himself from Gramm. The thought of Phil Gramm as Treasury Secretary is enough to send chills down even Republican spines.

How come deregulation doesn’t work? you might well ask. It certainly seems to go hand in hand with the idea of freedom. Regulation was put in place because businesses cannot always be trusted to do the right thing by their customers, or even their stockholders. Regulations were not arbitrarily put into place due to some wishful thinking on the part of some bureaucratic rule makers with too much time on their hands. Regulations were applied where and when needed, and should not be removed without the expectation of dire consequences. The Republican mantra is filled with similar dissonance. In many cases it is flat out wrong. The Congress presently has lower scores than the president because the Republicans have held to the administration’s line leaving the Democrats powerless to break their grip and do the bidding of the majority that elected them. Only now, with Republican prospects in November threatening to go down the tubes, is the White House and Republicans relenting enough to let certain popular pieces of legislation pass with a presidential signature. But don’t let that fool you. They will return to a government regulation free state the minute our backs are turned and our attention is elsewhere. Be wary, stay awake, and vote Democratic in November.
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And here is what to me is the best piece of news of the week that has passed. According to Reuters the two biggest pot smokers of the 1970’s are about to embark on their first comedy tour since their acrimonious split 25 years ago. “Cheech and Chong: Light Up America. . .” will hit 22 cities in the United States starting with Philadelphia on September 12 and ending in Denver, Colorado on December 20. In between they will play Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C. among other places.

"This is a moment that I've been looking forward to for many, many years because we have such a legacy and history together that we couldn't escape it, even if we tried," Chong told reporters at a news conference to announce the tour. Cheech and Chong were one of the most successful comedy teams of the 1970s with hit movies and chart-topping records based on their brand of marijuana-influenced humor.

Marin said their humor about doing stupid things while being stoned on marijuana should still appeal to today's youth, as well as Cheech & Chong's older fans. "We've had the younger audience all along. Every time they get to that certain age, they go through that Cheech & Chong period of watching the movies, listening to the records. So, it's almost like a rite of passage," Marin said. As they discussed their tour, Cheech and Chong relied on some props in the form of synthetic marijuana plants to win some laughs, as Chong "watered" the plants with bottled water.

Marin, 62, and Chong, 70, spoke about their upcoming tour to reporters at the Troubadour, a fixture on the Southern California club scene. Marin said as budding comedians, he and Chong waited in line outside the club for hours for the chance to perform there. Cheech and Chong gained notoriety in nightclubs in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s and released their first album, "Cheech and Chong," in 1971. "Los Cochinos" in 1973 won the Grammy award that year for best comedy album. In 1978 their first movie, "Up in Smoke," proved to be a blockbuster, raking in more than $100 million at box offices.

They performed together onstage for the last time in 1981, but continued to make movies and records. The pair split following the 1985 release of their album "Get Out of My Room." Chong said that their break-up – which was well-publicized and bitter – was caused by success. "What happens if you don't have big problems, like trying to make it – when that's cured when you've made it – then your little problems become your big problems," he said. "So you start fighting over stupid things."

Marin carved out a career as a television actor in shows such as "Nash Bridges" and "Judging Amy." Chong also did a lot of TV work, including appearances on "That '70s Show." Chong has long advocated the legalization of marijuana, and in 2003 was arrested and later imprisoned for selling drug paraphernalia.

And just why is an upcoming Cheech and Chong tour worthy enough to get a large Reuters story announcing it, and to be mentioned in these unvenerated pages? For one thing, for seven years now America has been too damned uptight, allowing the so-called Christian right entirely too much influence on what we have gotten to read and see and enjoy. If any team can break this logjam and get the river of comedy flowing again it has to be Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Particularly with George Carlin no longer in the house, we have a problem of comedic straightness impaled in cement. Their tour should make short work of that little problem. I just wish I could see it, I hope it will be filmed and the results come out on DVD. It’s sure about goddamned time we had some real humor in our house once again. Cheech Marin summed up their years of fighting this way. "We've gotten to the age where we don't feel like fighting anymore," he said, "because the end is a lot closer than the beginning."

Out with Bush/Cheney. In with Cheech/Chong. Anyone second that?
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If you happen to be wondering whatever happened to the Fake Steve Jobs, go here: Although it is interesting, of course written by the same author, but it doesn’t have the verve of Fake Steve. Trouble is, I suspect, that these days the Real Dan is a hot property, and he daren’t do those wild profanity-laced speculations that were so funny when he was writing as Fake Steve and hiding behind the persona of the Apple CEO.

I will freely admit that it was those hilarious posts by Fake Steve that got me into blogging. My oldest son had been pressing me to write down pieces about my life for the edification of his two sons, and I toyed with the idea of publishing a blog as that would give me an incentive to write. One day I visited the Google blog creation site, and for the fun of it I filled out the blog template. Actually, what I did was to take a blog I had written in AppleWorks, saved it to the clipboard and then pasted it into Google’s blog template. And after proof reading it, I hit the publish button at the bottom, and viola! My very first blog was published.

Of course somehow I screwed up the URL, spelling the word little with an extra l, hence (Note the double t’s, double l’s, double e’s, and double d’s.) To this day I haven’t changed it (which would probably be quite easy) because of my theory that its incorrectness might make it somehow stand out. I also freely admit that to this day I use the very same routine I had used submitting that original post.

All during the week I write my blog in the very same AppleWorks’ word processing program I used in the beginning, then come Saturday mornings I highlight what I have written, copy it to the clipboard, after which I open my Google blog page, sign in, click on new post, and when the template appears, I paste in the contents of my clipboard. I have resisted learning the first thing about html as if it was the plague. I used the name the Real Little Eddy because it being a blog, I felt I could tell the truth about what I think and feel about what is right about America, and what I feel is screwed up about our land of the free and home of the brave. Of course, the $64,000 question: would anyone bother to read it? Well, a few do, though early on I made the mistake of installing a counter at the bottom of my page, and my weekly page viewers are in the vicinity of a hundred or so, miniscule in web terms.

And so I ponder the possibility of teaching myself html and other tidbits of Webpage Creation 101. The purpose, to have a web presence beyond my blog. I have done 13 onehour episodes of my podcast recreating my former radio program Nightsong, and I would like to create a page on the internet where I can post these so that anyone out in internet land who is interested in creative radio could have access to them.

Now Google very conveniently has a free site on which anyone can have their own webspace, just like it has blogspot where anyone can post a blog. The site even has templates which you can use to artfully put your page together. I am seriously looking into this, and although I have nothing to report on at this time, I hope to soon begin exploring it’s possibilities. It would be fun to perhaps have a poem or two, a couple of photos, and of course, access to my podcasts. It could also have a link to my blog, plus links to blog collections on certain topics, like presidential candidates. Not to forget the Texas Child Protective Services doing what they do best – taking children from their rightful godgiven parents and putting them into the statewide Texas foster child system. Does the figure 460 sound about right? And what would you feel about a judge who not only makes this happen, illegally treating the many cases as one to expedite the removal of the children, but who when the Appeals and Supreme courts affirm the parents’ original right to due process and orders the court to return the children, that same judge requires the parents to pick the children up themselves from the far flung reaches of this rather large state at their own expense?

Where do judges like judge Walther come from. These days most all Texas judges are Republicans. Kind of figures, don’t it? I hate to admit it but Texas Republicans were pretty smart. The first thing they did was get their members elected and appointed to judgeships throughout the state. That was so their legal squabbles, their many challenges of voters who won’t vote their way, and their outrageous redistricting plans, etc., would receive a sympathetic hearing in the courts. So here is your challenge, Democratic party of Texas, if you dare accept it. Start high on the hog. Win back Texas, one judgeship at a time. Then go after the rest of the hog. The State House and Senate. If you ask me after seven years of State and Nationwide systematic abuse, the Republican hog is very vulnerable.
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Little Eddy comments on the nation and Texas ever guided by the inspiration of Samuel B. Clements (Mark Twain) and George Carlin to name two of our inspirations. We thank you for dropping by, and hope to see you again next week. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

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