Remember How Great is was before 9-11? No? Of course not. This reprinted From Crapshoot, April 20, 2001

Arsenic & Old Lays

April 20, 2001

Here's a thought:

If you take a socio-etymological hand and shove it all the way up the ass of the social descriptor "Orwellian" and grab, pull, and turn it inside out, you get something like "Warholian." Orwellian, of course, refers not so much to the author as to his two most popular books, "1984," and "Animal Farm."

Warholian is a shorthand for some of the bits gleaned from the late Andy, specifically the one about everyone being famous for 15 minutes but even more so the idea that celebrity for celebrity's sake has replaced fame for accomplishment's sake.

If the fact that our elected reps uniformly exhibit unplumbed shallows were the only result, we would still be in relatively good shape, but unfortunately, the problem goes deeper than that, even if they do not.

The way this plays out in the corridors of power is that, for the most part, our elected officials seek to be performers instead of managers. Their patriotic battle cry is "Hey, look at me!" And as the engines of social management are completely obstructed by a bunch of spotlight-hungry babies who don't seem to have ever heard of, let alone read, the Constitution, we get social chaos.

They hate government but want us to vote them way up high for 2, 4, or 6 years (for no other purpose I can discern but their ability to smile and say, "Hey, I can see my house from here."). I suppose we must then have some debt of gratitude to Michael Huffington for having spent 26 million dollars a few years back to provide the punch line for an already-bad joke: "Vote for me. I won't do anything. Look at my record. I didn't do anything before."

We have come to a thoroughly deconstructionist government in which two truisms dominate action:
The first: Since I don't have a clue, a principle, or an idea, no one has one. So why shouldn't I just say anything that will sell and cut loose and pay off the people who paid to get me here. My ball, my White House, my country.

The second: We used to have principles and customs and we were happy, so we need to resurrect the prejudices and depredations of the past. They may have been bad, but we liked them and believed in them. The press tells us that everyone has done all those bad alternative things with sex and drugs, even Liberace, so the press must be bad. The government tells us we can't just dump our dirty motor oil down the sewer to wash away to the sea, so the government must be bad. (And the press, no innocents they, tells us that Woodward and Bernstein got an important story by behaving like rabid weasels so they, too, have a right to behave like a pack of feral dogs.)

Junior Bush learned how to deal with that press in Texas by denying access to anyone who writes critically of him or his administration. As Molly Ivins put it, "The relationship between the press and governor Bush was identical to the relationship between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton." (Damn, that fine lady can turn a phrase.)

The need for shallow celebrity makes us look to our top dog the way the Brits look to the royal family which is bred, brought up, and trained to administer shallow celebrity. But we don't care to look at the acts of management making actual governance a covert thing, so those who care about those things must work on them privately and late at night, after or between sound bites.
And sound bites do preserve the essence of Orwellian meaninglessness, do they not? "Slavery is Freedom," "Arbeit Macht Frei" "Working men and women are special interests," "Corporations are NOT special interests." A snappy phrase in hand is worth two actual ideas in the bush.

An opposition congress can spend some $50+ million on a meta-analysis of William Jefferson Clinton's dick – where has it been, what's it been up to, and what has he said about it. Historically, we went from the Watergate investigation ("What did the president know and when did he know it?" to Clinton investigating ("Who did the president lay, and when did he lay them?") And this devaluation of significance has destroyed some important things, like authority.

Those same Willy-obsessed guys now control the White House, the House and the Senate, and they're STILL going on about it William's Willy while they declare the Clinton presidency to be "the tragedy of missed opportunities."

As I recall, Bill Clinton managed to get some things enacted into law like Compassionate Leave, portability of health insurance from one job to another, and more. While Poppy Bush's claims to fame included introducing an anti-flag burning amendment and going back on his word to lobby for a cut in the capital gains tax while being up to his skinny ass in scandal concerning an illegal war in Latin America, consorting with an enemy prior to election, and huge payoffs via the Banco Lavoro and BCCI. There was a good chance that re-election might have won Poppy the seat of honor in an impeachment, one involving real threats to national security.

Dubya Bush (it's becoming more apparent daily that the W is for Wanker) has so far managed to piss off all our allies by uselessly damning the Kyoto Accords concerning CO2 emissions and global warming; drawing a stupid line in the sand with China ("No Apology"), having his associates tug their forelocks and shuffle and mumble, "Sorry," then running away like a chickenshit kid to a safe place and yelling back, "Nyahh, nyahh, I didn't really apologize." As he is right now trying to convince us. (I used to think of Poppy Bush as the sort of man who would have his friends drag someone into an alley, beat the crap out of him, then come in and throw a few safe punches while his buddies hold the fellow back, then leave before the man was set loose. Junior seems to be willing to merely shout from the street, "So there!")

Additionally, Junior wants to eliminate salmonella-testing for school lunches and allow health-threatening levels of arsenic in drinking water (cancer, heart disease, etc) to continue, reversing the Clinton-Gore long-overdue reduction of allowable levels. (Arsenic, by the way, is one of the side products you get from the most environmentally destructive form of gold mining, i.e., pouring huge amounts of sulfuric acid into a decapitated mountain, something Armand Hammer was doing in new Mexico, which now has seriously high arsenic levels in the water, and a rate of stomach cancer that should impress even our current Secretary of Health and Human Services. This is the same Armand Hammer Poppy Bush later pardoned for illegal financial dalliance with the Soviets.)

No one cares that Junior is paying off his friends by allowing them to continue poisoning us, even at an increased rate. But they still yell and shout about Bill Clinton's dick. Obviously, Clinton's shortcoming was that he didn't smear arsenic on his member, thereby eliminating surviving witnesses who would brag on their political mouthings.

As to that authority thing: Power is guys in the streets with machine guns. Authority is bobbies with sticks. Power certainly does grow out of the barrel of a gun, but authority grows out of respect, trust, and a sense of community. So years of chipping away at meaning and accountability gets us to a place where we have a president whose only accomplishment has been to lower our expectations so far that we're delighted and congratulatory when he passes a crisis without saying or doing anything to screw it up beyond repair.

Colin Powell (at least back in the My Lai and Iraqi Massacre days) is power-based authority. Mother Teresa was moral authority. And Jesus, as I write this on Easter Sunday, is the most non-power-based authority one can imagine – the Helpless God. Possibly because His lesson wasn't about power but transcendence. (Obviously, when you see the bumper sticker: "Jesus is coming back – and is he pissed!" you know you're in the presence of someone who didn't get the message.)

Of course, being perceived as dumb IS Wanker's talent. Back in the early 60's, a mentor of mine, explaining the popularity of California governor Pat Brown, told me "There's never been a man who met him who didn't come away thinking he was smarter than Pat. And then, the afterthought, 'Damn – I'm smarter than he is, and he's governor. I must be ok myself.'" Well, the same can be said about Dubya.

But Al Gore, well there was a man who never met anyone without Al trying to show that he was smarter than everyone, present company included. That's usually political death (although, even with all that against him, he still won the election, if not the White House).

The Bushies have it all figured out, how those damn intellekshuls love to make fun of dummies, so let's put a man out front who has that role down to perfection, and let 'em laugh. Does it occur to anyone that there's something curious about the fact that Dubya himself has come up with better jokes about himself than we have? Cause we're out here making fun of him, while his Minions of Mammon are in the back room eating our (salmonella-laden) lunches and getting rich.

Do the words, "Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain" ring any bells? No? How about "You can't fool all of the people all of the time, but if your brother's governor of Florida, you can pretend you did it once, and it lasts for four years." And as the sun slowly sinks below the western horizon, and the focus on Billy's Willy is gradually supplanted by attention paid to Bush's Blunders, an image keeps running through my mind: Bill Clinton is watching an episode of "I Claudius," the same scene, over and over. The scene is the one where Tiberius, widely and publicly castigated as a sexual degenerate, is sick and about to die. He looks up from his bed at Caligula and says, "With you as emperor, they'll make me a god within a year." And Tiberius laughs. And Bill Clinton laughs.
The rest of us may find it a little more difficult to laugh.

Howard Pearlstein



Oh but what if.... (repost of an unpopular think piece from 2003)

What if we don't win in Iraq?

I know that Bill Murray said our record was "... ten and one." in Stripes
but he was wrong. It's not that good. He neglected to mention any of the following:

We invaded Cuba in 1851, but couldn't get it done.

We invaded Mexico, but that dragged on, and although Black Jack Pershing and his African American troops chased Pancho Villa's ass up and down the hills and valleys, that border just south of the Texas Republic still tells us that Mexico is another country.

And then we invaded Russia in 1918 -- for a regime change! We put together a force consisting of the English and German troops and went in at Archangel. The Bolsheviks had been weakened by seriously drastic in-fighting, so it looked like we had a shot. Those weakened Bolshies whipped our asses and pushed us back into the sea. (They don't talk about that a whole lot in high school history.)

And of course, our glorious invasion of Vietnam turned out so well we really want to do that again, do we not?

So how about it? What if we lose?

We should at least consider the possibility.

In the words of the great, late Lord Buckley:

"If you get TO it,
And can NOT do it,
There you jolly well are, aren't you?"

They all say: "Oh, of course we're not going to lose..."

Well, in the words of Former Love Goddess and Media Harridan Judy Tenuta, "It could happen."

First of all, remember this -- winning does NOT consist of taking Baghdad. 
This is not a video game, regardless of what Georgie might think from his 2-hour-a-day habit.
Winning means holding on to the place once you've taken it:
Taking it AND Holding on to it.

The Brits in Palestine ... whoops, there goes the King David Hotel with 800 troops in it.

Vietnam ... Hamburger Hill being the epitome of examples, with people bleeding and dying and taking the hill and losing it and taking the hill and losing it -- what passes for the "old in-out" with the sexually twisted murder freaks, forerunners to Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Perle -- the ones who don't actually fight but just sit in command centers jerking off to reports of those who actually do the killing and dying coupled with fantasies of power they seem to feel they lack in their real lives. Mean little motherfuckers.

"Sexually twisted -- really over the top, isn't it? 
"But for added amusement, George W. Bush and his friends used to tuck firecrackers into the mouths of frogs, throw them in the air, and watch them explode." a story told by a childhood friend described in a New York Times profile for the 2000 election campaign.
Animal cruelty is the big alarm bell every teacher and psychologist is taught to look at a potential sociopath and murderer.   Despite that, the U.S. media chose to overlook at violent murder of frogs as nothing more than an amusing anecdote from Dubya's childhood -- and, as someone already pointed out, "How would that fact be treated if it were being said of Saddam Hussein as a boy?"


20 years ago, I said, paraphrasing Lord Buckley's comment about Jonah "You keep ringing that 'anti-semite' bell, you're gonna bend that bell and it won't work when you need it."

I was also INCREDIBLY tired, being a Jew myself, of the snotty "self-hating" tag that the pathologically embarrassing moronic pitbulls like Abraham Foxman throw at any of us who disagree with him and his official talking point (just one: "Anyone who criticizes anything Jewish is to be marginalized, ostracized, and defined as an anti-semite." -- this is the Jewish version of "THERE'S A CONSPIRACY AGAINST CHRISTMAS, i.e., stupid over-the top alarmist nonsense). His angry overuse of that word devalues it, ultimately making it a cliché without meaning. 

Of course, I must admit, long before that, I had had it with visiting Sabras who threw down on me saying "You're not a real Jew if you live in the USA."

To which I could only respond, "Well, you wouldn't be a LIVING Jew if the USA wasn't backing your play with weapons, UN vetos, and all the rest. In other words, buddy, you only get to swagger like an arrogant prick because your big brother is standing behind you."

Of course that answer pretty soon edited itself down to "Go fuck yourself." (I'm not the most diplomatic person in the world.)

So it's a major step into civilized debate if we can get off the automatic "anti-semite" response to criticism of anything from shooting 12 year olds who are throwing rocks to having violently vomitous repulsion at people like Meier Kahane (there's a real difference between a guard dog and a mad dog, and Kahane fit into the latter category -- sort of a Jewish Rambo).

Of course, to enter into actual discussion involves examining some fear- and greed-motivated things done that were really inexcusable, and that takes some serious doing whether it's an Israeli looking at what they've done to the Palestinians or an American who has to look at what we've done to Native Americans, Latin Americans, and pretty much everyone else.

THAT takes some courage.

But that phony "Well should we do NOTHING at all?" red herring  is pure crap in cream sauce and has to end.

No -- since what you're doing doesn't work, has NEVER worked, didn't work when the Germans or the Dutch or the English or the French or the Mongol Hordes did it -- TRY DOING SOMETHING ELSE.

I'm just sayin'



It's a Sunni** day in Iraq, winds from the north, and ISIS resurrects her fallen husband

Well ok -- every time they say ISIS I think of the goddess.

And interestingly enough, the ISIS religion was dominant throughout Europe until 5th century C.E. when the loving Christians crushed what they called paganism.

Until then, they were in competition, and as delineated by one John Faulkner, since no religion emerges in a vacuum, any reading into both religions, however cursory, will make obvious how many tenets of early Xtianity were directed at the Isiaic religion -- you don't have to do this, you can do that, etc.

Of course this isn't the same ISIS as the goddess who -- most marvelously -- resurrected her dismembered husband by assembling all the pieces scattered by Set -- except one missing piece -- Osiris' penis, which had been devoured by an oxyrhynchus fish*
-- she carved one out of wood (pause for obvious "woody" joke here) and "blew the breath of life into him."  (And as most of the boys would say: 
"Son --if that don't make you stand up and shout, nothing will.")

Finally, in the 5th century, as Xtian missionaries wandering through Europe discovered a centuries-old statue of a woman with a child in arms in one town after another (to date, 11 or 12 such so-called "black madonnas" have been found).

They were clever enough to leave the statue in place and just change the name ("No, we don't call it Isis and Horus anymore, it's Mary and baby Jesus.")

And since the demons of pretty much every religion come from the religions of those who gave them trouble, imagine the surprise of the citizens of the city of Oxyrhynchus on the Nile, who worshiped the fish (or at least held it in high esteem for whatever reason -- food source, bringing rain, whatever) when the ISIS people swept down on them and killed everyone and destroyed their city.

*a species of fish of the Nile River which was important as the fish that ate the penis of Osiris, though it is not known exactly which species of fish this is. One possibility is a species of mormyrid, medium-sized freshwater fish that figure in various Egyptian and other artworks. Some species of mormyrid have distinctive downturned snouts, lending them the common name of elephantnoses among aquarists and ichthyologists. A figurine from Oxyrhynchus of one of these sacred fish has many attributes typical of mormyrids: a long anal fin, a small caudal fin, widely spaced pelvic and pectoral fins, and of course the downturned snout.

**As bizarre as religions can be, for all we know, the Sunni's of ISIS are a violent memorial tribute band for Bobby Hebb who died a few years ago.
Remember? Bobby Hebb? Sunny? 
Maybe what they're chanting is the lyrics translated into Arabic.
Remember what Mr Manson did with the lyrics to the Beatles' Helter Skelter.
Or a whole lot of violent folk did with Onward Christian Soldiers.
Or the cute little Singing Nun and her chirrupy little song, Dominique --
about how good old Dominic and his band of sociopaths killed several hundred thousand Cathars for disagreeing with something-or-other papal. (From which regional genocide came one of the most cynical retorts ever connected to mass murder. When Dominic asked the papal envoy supervising the slaughter: "How will we know to tell the true believers from the heretics?" The Pope's boy said: "Kill them all -- God will know his own."

So if the ISIS troopers ARE singing the Bobby Hebb song, maybe THAT's what the late Casey Kasem meant when he referred to "The Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah."


(OK, you tell me, if not what I'm saying, how any of this ISIS SUNNI SHITE business makes any sense any other way)

Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain
Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain
Now the dark days are done and the bright days are here,
My sunny one shines so sincere
Sunny one so true, I love you

Sunny, thank you for the sunshine bouquet
Sunny, thank you for the love you've brought my way
You gave to me your all and all
And now I feel ten feet tall
Sunny one so true, I love you

Sunny, thank you for the truth you've let me see
Sunny, thank you for the facts from A to Z
My life was torn like a wind-blown sand
Then a rock was formed when we held hands
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, thank you for that smile upon your face
Sunny, thank you thank you for that gleam that flows with grace
You're my spark of nature's fire
You're my sweet complete desire
Sunny one so true, yes I love you.

Sunny, yesterday, oh, my life was filled with rain
Sunny, you smiled at me and really really eased the pain
Now the dark days are done and the bright days are here,
My sunny one shines so sincere
Sunny one so true, I love you


Oh, one more bad semi-pun:  "And the Kurds have already gone a-whey."

It's as if everyone changes places or changes faces but the names all remain the same -- or as Randall Jarrell said many years ago:

"The tide goes in and out, but the sea and the sand remain the same."


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