the last word(tm)
Vol. 13/No. 13 - 412th issue - October 29, 2004
Bathroom Bandit, editor-in-chief - serving Bellevue, KY, from New America
email@example.com - http://members.iglou.com/bandit
blog blogga blog at http://bandit73.pitas.com
REFORMED RIGHTIST FIGHTS REPUBLICAN NOISE MACHINE
It's not very often we do book reviews, except occasionally for a reference work like Almanac Of American Politics, but now we've come across a book so effective at cutting to the heart of America's painful tumble into fascism that we can't pass it up.
The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock has the potential to bust wide open the right-wing media corruption that has defined the American political system in recent years. We have this book, and we've read it. Brock was once well-known as a right-wing hatchet man - until he decided to grow a backbone and renounce his tired old ways. Brock's book exposes how the media has been used a tool to indoctrinate the hearts and souls of the American public with propaganda representing ideas that are so right-wing that they would have been laughed off the face of the planet 20 years ago.
The main point of The Republican Noise Machine isn't so much to disprove the notion that the media has a liberal bias - a notion that is spread mostly by the media itself. What the book does is detail HOW right-wing think tanks and talking heads have used the media to grind the poopy talons of conservatism deeper into our minds. These conservative zillionaires and stink tanks actually bankroll magazines, newspapers, websites, and extremist publishing houses such as Regnery. This fringe media exercises a surprising influence over mainstream media. By having attacks against political opponents rebroadcast and reprinted continuously, conservatives benefit from what amounts to a constant barrage of political campaign infomercials, whether there's an election going on or not.
So basically, folks, the problem isn't that well-funded conservatives propagandize to their own audience, who won't support liberal candidates anyway, but that their misinformation ends up being reported as fact by regular newspapers and TV networks.
Conservatives have also sabotaged the broadcast airwaves - which are supposed to be a public trust - by lifting caps on how many radio and TV stations a company may own, which has driven independent voices off the airwaves.
You don't have to be a full-throttle progressive populist like us to incur the thunderous fury of the conservative media monolith. We'd hardly consider Clinton and Gore to even be left of center, but they and Democrats like them have been targeted through the media by right-wing character assassins just because they run against Republicans who are more conservative than they are. To compound the problem, anyone - such as Gore - who points out how the Republican National Committee originates bogus stories that are picked up by talk radio and then by larger media outlets is attacked further, which perpetuates the cycle.
We'd be glad to put our honesty and ethics up against the rightist racketeers of the media any day. According to Brock's book, right-wing media sources are characterized by racism, bigotry, at least a pinch of plagiarism, incitements to initiate violence, wild exaggerations - and yes, even outright lying. While we try to make sure our articles agree with the facts, often backing up our points by citing outside sources, right-wing commentators can lie with impunity. While we've made more efforts than ever before to investigate things thoroughly to avoid having to correct ourselves later, right-wing media outlets have increasingly ignored this basic standard of journalistic ethics. We've even seen the media lie to kick a vanquished opponent who's already down.
A lot of negative effects can be attributed to the right-wing takeover of the media. We think it inflames prejudices of every sort and even contributes to community and family violence, because of its influence on the public's sensibilities. It also creates a false impression that the political Left is - quite paradoxically - limited largely to the entertainment industry and other highly paid elements of society. This is preposterous, because the left wing - by very definition - represents not only a progressive social agenda but also the economic interests of the working class. Nobody has been more critical of the excesses of entertainment corporations - especially of their efforts to demonize file sharing software - than we have.
Brock points out that the right-wing media has moved the center of debate in America far to the right of where it once was. It's now possible for someone to be considered relatively liberal even though many of their ideas are clearly anything but. We think this leads even the most reliable voices of the Left to abandon some of their own ideas and suppress their own natural political instincts, because they internalize the notion that their own stances are too radical, even though these stances were considered mainstream 20 years ago.
Yes, America is advancing backwards!
Strikingly, The Republican Noise Machine reports a phenomenon similar to what we've noticed. It says that even people thought to be resistant to propaganda from the likes of Rush Limbaugh internalize the message and succumb to supporting right-wing causes.
It's kind of like how if you go to Bro$$art and the principal keeps calling you a lazy, worthless slob, you eventually internalize the daily barrage of criticsm and begin believing it even when it isn't true. What the right-wing message machine does is nothing short of brainwashing.
As Brock points out repeatedly, this situation is unacceptable in a democratic republic, which is supposed to rely on people making informed choices. People can't accurately judge candidates and policies when their only source of information is a media that isn't just ideologically driven but is almost totally dominated by one side - conservatism! Of course, a democratic republic is exactly what America today isn't - and it's largely because of the media, which has rubber-stamped every conservative action at least since the late '80s.
(For the record, a poll on one nonpartisan site we read shows Bush isn't carrying a single state, even though Nader, Badnarik, and Peroutka are each winning at least 2 states. So not everyone is duped - just most of those whose votes actually get counted in the "real" election. Still, don't stay home on Election Day, because then the conservatives' cheating will be less likely to work this time.)
Incidentally, one of the most influential conservative scumbag rags is the Washington Times, whose credibility is nil but whose manufactured stories are often quoted by rightists to boost their cause. This hate paper was founded by Sun Myung Moon, who calls himself the "new Messiah" and refers to the United States as "the kingdom of Satan". Moon also frequently spews anti-black and anti-Jewish hate speech. Next time you see some big story breaking from the Washington Times, remember this. We've also been told that the Times itself loses money, but Moon keeps investing hundreds of millions of dollars in it because it's such a powerful right-wing propaganda mill.
We say The Republican Noise Machine could potentially stop conservatism in its tracks, because it is so incisive and detailed. No review can really do justice to this great book. If Brock's tome acquires an audience even a fraction of the size that every conservative publication gets just through their massive promotional campaigns, then the virulent disease of modern American conservatism WILL be eradicated. Why? Because people will see what the Far Right has done, and they'll be so mad that conservatives have exploited their emotions and lied to them that they won't even wait until the next election to find a remedy.
More information about The Republican Noise Machine can be found at: www.randomhouse.com/crown/brock
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Massachusetts is the home of patriots - not just the football Patriots, but patriots in the literal sense.
On Election Day, voters in 9 legislative districts in Massachusetts will have the chance to urge the gutting of parts of the misnamed Patriot Act, after civil liberties groups obtained enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Getting the right number of signatures wasn't much of a problem, because the Patriot Act - which allows increased government spying - is so hated there.
Opponents of the Patriot Act are the real patriots. Don't let the name of that federal act fool you. (We're sure you haven't let it fool you, if you've read us regularly.)
Nationwide, over 350 cities and counties, including some in Massachusetts, have already officially condemned the Patriot Act, and some have taken the brave step of overriding it.
In addition to urging state lawmakers to encourage members of Congress to support repealing parts of the Idiot Act, the Massachusetts measure also tells legislators to ban state resources from being wasted on acts that violate the Constitution - such as racial profiling or unreasonable secret investigations.
It's a shame our elected officials around here don't have the gumption to condemn the Patriot Act. County officials can pass a law to praise a right-wing private high school, yet they fall silent when a corrupt federal regime tries to stomp into the county and spy on its citizens.
We've been told that the editorial board at the Cleveland Plain Dealer voted 5 to 2 to endorse Kerry, but the publisher vetoed them and announced the paper would endorse Bush.
While the flap over this bit of arm-twisting apparently caused the newspaper to not publish any endorsement at all, we're sure this isn't the only paper where something like this has happened. Keep this in mind when you see some paper bark down some smug endorsement of Bush that bears no relation to their community's economic concerns.
TEACHERS KICKED OUT OF FAIRGROUNDS FOR DISAGREEING WITH BUSH
We know there's skillions - even fillions - of other incidents like this all over America (which are completely ignored by the right-wing media) but this one is especially embarrassing. It again shows the Bush regime's thorough intolerance of anyone who dares to dissent.
In Central Point, OR, a group of 3 teachers was threatened with arrest and kicked out of the Jackson County Fairgrounds all because they wore t-shirts saying "Protect Our Civil Liberties" at a Bush rally there. Since it's a county-owned fairgrounds, the facility is paid for with their tax dollars - so, in other words, they got thrown out of their own fairgrounds.
The irony is that they were prompted to show up at this rally wearing those shirts because they heard of other peaceful dissidents being thrown out of other Dumpya events. For instance, in Eugene, OR, a dissenter was cited for "trespassing" for saying "no" after Dick Cheney falsely claimed the Bush regime had made the world safer. In Jacksonville, OR, police shot pepper balls at a peaceful demonstration outside an inn where dictator Bush was lodging.
In the fairgrounds episode, Bush campaign officials escorted the 3 women out of their fairgrounds and told them their shirts were "obscene". The teachers were then threatened with arrest.
Disgeorge's followers are always crashing Kerry rallies at union halls and the like, and waving Bush signs in everyone's faces. Yet they have the nerve to raise a stink if a lone citizen takes umbrage at them, which always touches off a wave of sanctimonious eeping from the Freak Republic crowd. However, when those who oppose Bush show up at Bush events in a PUBLIC place such as the fairgrounds, and are PHYSICALLY attacked not only by lone individuals but also by campaign workers, you never hear a peep about it.
While we have the chance, here's an aside we'd like to throw in, just because it pisses off fascists so spectacularly: The Internet (including Usenet) is public. Yes, ISPs and hosting services may be private businesses, but the Internet itself is public. Public as a bird! (That's an inside joke, everyone.) Next time you see some conservative asshat whining about dissenters invading "their" Internet, tell them to put this in their pipe and smoke it. (You already know what's in the pipe Bush is smoking.)
The last thing America needs is another 4 years of Bush stifling free speech.
KEYES FINED FOR ELECTION VIOLATIONS
Alan Keyes - best known for throwing a lengthy temper tantrum outside a Georgia television station during the 1996 presidential campaign - always makes himself the target of much ridicule every time he runs for any office, and this year is no exception.
Keyes is running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican from Illinois - why Illinois, we don't know, as he didn't even move there from Maryland until he decided to run for Senate - and has managed to find himself trailing in the polls by what may be the most lopsided margin of any major party candidate for the Senate anywhere in America this year.
To the world's amusement, the Federal Elections Commission has fined his ill-fated 2000 presidential campaign $23,000 and ordered him to reimburse the government for $95,302 in public funding his campaign received, because his campaign officials admitted accepting $168,200 more than what was allowed (ooh, an Allowed Cloud!) and taking over $15,000 in anonymous contributions.
As if that wasn't enough, at least one ethics complaint has been filed against his current Senate campaign - this time for improperly coordinating with a right-wing organization to run ads against his Democratic opponent Barack Obama. The organization, called the Empower Illinois Media Fund, has created ads that make ridiculous assertions such as one claiming Obama supports legislation to "teach sex to kindergartners".
Clouds of scandal continue to waft over the Republicans.
BUSH TRIES CREATING HIS OWN REALITY
Each week we have enough material sent to us from readers to fill our computer like poo fills trousers, and a majority of it seems to deal with the weakening grasp Dumbya has on reality.
Someone sent us an article by Robert Parry that talks about how a journalist was assailed by a senior Bush aide for being from "the reality-based community." According to the aide, this community is made up of those who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality" and that "when we act, we create our own reality."
Evidently, Bosh doesn't think in analytical terms. He thinks what he creates in his diseased mind is reality. Apparently this is how he copes. He really is living in a place he created in his own mind that's a cross between "Fantasy Island", "Sesame Street", and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We think he probably goes to bed each night fancying himself as King of the Universe and comforts himself by thinking of cruelly torturing to death his many enemies on a massive TV screen that hovers in view of all of humanity. He apparently confuses his fantasies with reality and thinks the laws of science don't apply to his actions.
The article says this is particularly dangerous because an unusually large portion of the American public has latched onto Bush as a sort of holy messenger. That's why this election is so important. It isn't just about electing a President for 4 years. This election will establish a long-term pattern of how the government will operate and how average citizens will view where they stand in society. If Bush is named the winner, this will be trotted out as a ratification of his supposed greatness. We sincerely think that if this happens, the truth about modern American conservatism will never be told in America's history books, because this warped ideology will be so firmly entrenched.
We wonder what Bush's days must be like, and if some of his delusions are chemically induced. We have this image of him locking himself in the Oval Office, tuning the radio to a channel that has nothing but static, cradling on his hands and knees on a blanket on the floor, snorting some coke, closing his eyes, releasing silent but deadly bunker blasts, and seeing in his mind a map of the U.S. with each state filled in with red, before the map fades into the image of his campaign bumper sticker surrounded by animated U.S. flags (horribly stylized like the flag on his sticker) on an otherwise blackened television screen.
YOU BETTER RUN, YOU BETTER TAKE COVER!
It's always satisfying to pull one over on the Far Right. In their opinion, the purpose of working-class people such as myself is to act as poorly compensated machines to serve them. We are not human and do not have human aspirations, according to the right wing. Therefore, the right wing does not view us as having the right to occasional rest and recreation.
But - since the beginning of human history - recreation has been a fundamental human right that people are endowed with by nature. So we took advantage of this on the weekend of October 16-17 by shoehorning an extra overnight road trip into the year before it's over.
This time we went to Toronto for a Colin Hay concert. Colin Hay, as you may know, was the lead singer of Men At Work, that legendary hit machine from Australia of the '80s. Men At Work was cool. Back in my day, they were the hippest band around. We had tickets to see them in Cincinnati many years ago, but they were forced to cancel.
So here's our approximate route, people:
Our approximate route on the way back included:
Wow! I'm international!
I acquired an upset stomach before my Toronto trip, and it lasted until after the trip was over.
We only had time for one full meal each day. On the way up we ate at an Eat 'n' Park outside Ernie - oops, Erie, PA. The food was good, but it was mighty stinky in there. On the way home we ate at a Steak 'n' Shake in Woodhaven, MI. I noticed a family of 4 people wasting almost their entire meal and not leaving a big enough tip.
We had surprisingly little hassle at customs. Entering Canada, they stopped us for a "random" car search, since I'm on Bush's shit list. I thought for sure Canadian customs was going to deny us entry, but after about 15 minutes they let us go on. The oppressive yoke of the corrupt Bush dictatorship lifted from our shoulders in Canada. Reentering the U.S., we encountered a traffic jam that delayed us about an hour and almost caused us to run out of gas.
Pooing is cool.
On this trip we didn't get very close to downtown Toronto, but road traffic there is managed much better than it is back home. I don't think the traffic was any worse there than in Cincinnati, even though Toronto is a much larger city. Also, SUVs are far, far less common in Canada than in the U.S. In Canada, suburban sprawl and misery is nowhere near as bad as in the U.S. of A. In addition, radio is much better in Canada. I heard the best radio I've heard on any road trip since hearing the radio in small markets in the Western U.S. in 1996.
One interesting thing I noticed in Canada - in addition to the fact that traffic signs use kilometers and the words on some signs are in both English and French - is that Reese's cups are just called Reese cups (with no "'s"). Also in Canada the restroom is more likely to be called the washroom.
Speaking of things toilety, the johnnypot in our motel room was a meany! When you pulled that lever, it REALLY flushed! The toilets at Brossart would clog if you tried to flush, say, a cough drop - but our toilet at Motel 6 looked like it was invincible!
Of course the main event on my Toronto trip was the Colin Hay show in Newmarket, ON. The Newmarket Theater is a small auditorium that shares the building with the local high school. We had third row seats, and the concert was SPECTACULAR! Colin Hay plays acoustic guitar, and he makes hilarious remarks between each song! After the show, he emerged from the concert hall and chitchatted with us for a few minutes and autographed a CD and a flyer for us.
I was pleased to discover later that Colin Hay opposes the Dumbya regime.
How satisfying it was to visit Toronto and see Colin Hay live in concert! To quote the chorus of one of Men At Work's hit songs, I am a person who feels good to be alive!
AH! SOME ENDORSEMENTS! EW!
For years, we've had a tradition of endorsing candidates for political office, and we've seldom been able to resist the temptation to headline our endorsements with the expression "ew!" This dates back many years, possibly to a 1989 computer bulletin board message about the loss and reappearance of a Bicentennial bookmark.
Occasionally we've been backstabbed by some of our own candidates who began supporting fascist policies once they took office. But usually we've had reason to be proud of our endorsements, because occasionally we're met with the opportunity to support candidates who stand on principle in the face of adversity.
Now, we haven't endorsed anyone for county and local races in a while, since that's more prone to that type of shit and because so little information is available about these races that it's hard to make an informed choice. But hopefully you'll know to stay clear of the lever with the elephant on it this time. We know some of you have been trying since 1980 to get that elephant to pop out of the chute, so that's why you keep pulling that lever, but we're sorry to inform you that it's a voting machine and not an elephant vending machine, so you might as well give up.
It's almost beneath our dignity to discuss in detail the many failures of the Republicans in the past 24 years of what has almost amounted to one-party rule. It would disgust us to rehash the countless abuses by the Bush regime and the Contract With America. Republican leaders have acted not just incompetently but maliciously, and - unless they someday clean up their act - it's not likely we'll endorse a Republican any time soon. It's also important to note that several Republican administrations in recent years have been involved in drug dealing, even while they accuse everyone who disagrees with them of being a dope fiend.
Democratic leaders have the spine of cottage cheese, passing up numerous chances to stand up to Republican abuses. Shockingly, many important Democrats have supported indefensible policies that are carbon copies of those backed by Republicans - such as the soft attitude towards (supposedly friendly) international tyrants masquerading as democratically elected leaders, inadequate concern for civil liberties or economic security, and Clinton's rightist "microinitiatives" such as school uniforms.
We'd hate to belabor this point, but the Democratic Party has some serious fence-mending to do among true progressive populists. We try to avoid personal attacks unless we're REALLY pushed, but let's face it: Some actions by party leaders in recent years have been utterly heartbreaking.
Because of this, it's hard to justify supporting either major party, but anyway...
PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. We're proud of endorsing Ralph Nader 4 years ago. It would be great if we could do it again, since he shares our views on so many issues. But things are different now from what they used to be. We knew Bush would rig the 2000 election, but we had no idea people would tolerate it as they have. Although we would be highly reluctant in this election to endorse Democratic nominee John Kerry, because he is considerably more conservative than we are, he is the only candidate who can beat Bush - and defeating Bush is something that must be done at once. You know Dumbya will again make every effort to avoid abiding by the result of the election if he loses, but that's a problem federal marshals will worry about when he refuses to leave the White House.
At least it's fair to say Kerry is much closer to us and to a vast majority of Americans on every issue than Bush is. There's more difference between the 2 leading candidates in this presidential election than in any other in many years, so the major parties aren't entirely the same.
Kerry has made significant progress over other candidates in recent years in at least one area: While Bush's so-called Justice Department has conducted violent raids against medical marijuana gardens that are perfectly legal in their respective states, Kerry has actually acknowledged what a big failure mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines are.
From the standpoint of national security, we can say with certainty that America would be much safer under Kerry than under Bush, for Bush has cost America the worldwide respect it had.
We sincerely hope that if Kerry wins he'll be decent enough that we won't have to demand his ouster in 2008 and that the Democratic Party will come to its senses by abandoning ideas that seem more suitable for the Republicans. Right now, he really is the most realistic choice. That is why we are endorsing - with some hesitation - JOHN KERRY and JOHN EDWARDS for President and Vice-President of the United States. We could hardly blame anyone for unsubscribing to us because we didn't endorse Nader - but this was a very, very, VERY tough call.
U.S. SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY. This isn't as tough of a call, because there's only one person running against the disastrous Republican incumbent Jim Bunning. When we say Zero Man (as we call him) is a disaster, we mean it. We mean it like a dictionary. A big ol' fuckin' unabridged one, no less!
Bunning was even ranked by National Journal as THE most right-wing senator following the retirement of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond. It can be argued that Zero Man had one accomplishment in the late '90s, regarding a bipartisan law on disability benefits, but this is a rare exception. It was as if he was having just a few clear days in a career otherwise marked by zany actions, and it's been downhill - WAY downhill - ever since.
Lately, Bunning's bizarre behavior and tantrums have been the topic of much concern. Strange behavior is by no means limited to Bunning or even to conservatives. Everyone says or does something that's poopyism material at least once in their life. But with Bunning it's a pattern. And it's been that way for years with him.
Predictably, Democratic challenger Dan Mongiardo may not be as liberal as we need him to be - but he's the only option. National Democrats haven't put much money in this contest, because they didn't count on Bunning being such an incredible idiot, but it has become a surprisingly competitive election. Zero Man must be defeated, so without further pause, we endorse DAN MONGIARDO for Senate.
U.S. HOUSE FROM KENTUCKY'S 4th DISTRICT. Another tough decision. To replace the retiring Ken Lucas - who is ranked as the most right-wing Democrat in the House - there's 3 people on the ballot. One of them is already eliminated from our endorsement, because he's the Republican Geoff Davis, who made a complete ass of himself in the 2002 race, as you'll recall. We're tempted to support Democrat Nick Clooney, who is well-known for his career as a TV newsman and newspaper columnist. (In one of Clooney's columns he mentioned how he once played a monster on a TV show, so if he's elected, he may be the only member of Congress ever to have done so.)
But what Congress needs is an independent voice. Michael Slider is a respected political science instructor who's running an unusually strong independent candidacy. His campaign focuses on populist causes that are all too rare in congressional politics these days.
Slider supports universal health care, and he opposes NAFTA and membership in the WTO. He expresses a deep concern about the growing gulf between the rich and the working class, and he wants to finally break up media monopolies. He won't accept campaign money from corporations. Slider backs many of our basic views on education: While most politicians and the media seem to worship standardized testing, Slider agrees with our view that standardized tests are a crock of shit. He believes schools should stress creativity, not conformity. He also wants to increase pay for teachers, because he takes education very seriously - as we do.
Like we said, we're strongly lured to endorse Clooney just to keep Geoff Davis from winning. Every time we see one of Davis's nasty political ads, we find it harder to resist the temptation. In this case, however, we think there's good cause for electing an independent, since Slider is so in sync with what this sprawling district needs. This is an even tougher call than our presidential endorsement, but we have to decide. So yes, we're endorsing MICHAEL SLIDER for the House.
KENTUCKY CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Usually, whenever an amendment is posed to Kentucky voters, we offer an opinion on it - and this year's lone proposed amendment is no exception. Though not the only state to have its good name dragged through cess by a proposal like this, Kentucky is facing the embarrassment of a proposed amendment to the state Constitution dealing with the issue of how to define marriage. One obvious problem with such an amendment is that it's clutter: Its primary purpose duplicates what the statutes already say.
But, examining it a bit more, it actually goes much further than that. And for what? All because a vocal minority of fanatics think the Constitution should be amended every time something displeases them.
So Republicans in the legislature actually went through the trouble of writing an amendment to stop gay marriages, even though the law already does this. Such redundancy really cheapens the Constitution, people. And look at the slippery slope it creates: If a website says something that some right-wing loudmouth disagrees with, will they demand an amendment to repeal free speech? If poor people continue to vote against Republicans, will they pass an amendment to limit voting only to wealthy landowners?
For over 200 years since statehood, Kentucky has done fine without a marriage amendment, and it's preposterous to waste the taxpayers' money to update the law books with such an amendment now. This amendment doesn't just affect gay marriage, however. The proposal is so extreme that it would affect all "unmarried individuals". If you're not married - gay or not - you'd lose protection by the family courts and even the domestic violence laws. It would even prevent businesses from providing domestic partner benefits to workers.
Instead of trying to subvert the federal and state Constitution with crap like this, these conservatives should instead dock a ship in international waters just outside the 12-mile limit and start their own country. These reactionaries obviously don't appreciate America very much, because if they did, they wouldn't be trying to make such a mockery of the Constitution.
Kentucky voters ought to be madder than hell right about now. With so many problems facing the state, the public is confronted with this shit - which is really designed to unjustly target a whole class of people.
You know what to do: Vote NO on this amendment.
Defy expectations by helping Kentucky and the rest of America have a great election on November 2. We wish we had time to document all the recent right-wing scandals and vandalism - including the rightists' boasts on Freak Republic about how they snuck Bush stickers into bookstores and stuck them inside anti-Dumbya books - but with your help, their commando tactics will be wasted.
WOMAN FIRED FOR SUPPORTING KERRY
In Moulton, AL, a woman who worked at a factory was fired from her job because her car displayed a Kerry/Edwards sticker in the rear window.
Once again, the intolerance of Bush's cultists is on display for the whole wide world to see. Big surprise, huh?
Here's what happened, folks: The woman was returning to work from a break, and the manager said she had to "remove the sticker off my car or I was fired." The woman replied that the owner of the factory, who is also a prominent bankruptcy attorney, couldn't tell her who to vote for.
So the manager told the woman to say that to the owner - so she did. According to the employee, as quoted in the press, "I asked him if he said to remove the sticker and he said, 'Yes, I did.' I told him he couldn't tell me who to vote for. When I told him that, he told me, 'I own this place.' I told him he still couldn't tell me who to vote for."
I bet you're rubbing your hands together in excitement right about now! It's always satisfying when someone stands up to some right-wing jackass!
After the factory owner threw a Monty Burns-like shitfit, the woman went back to work, but the manager showed up later and said, "I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry."
The owner had previously included a letter with workers' paychecks extolling Bush's alleged greatness. It said, "You got the benefit of the Bush tax cut. Everyone did." So the boss can express political opinions, but an employee can't???
Isn't it illegal to fire someone because of their political views? Not like we'd expect John Ashcroft to enforce the law or anything, because he never does, just like how he won't prosecute fascists who run "behavior modification schools" that kidnap and torture rebellious teenagers.
FCC CENSORS ANOTHER STATION
Last month, Knoxville First Amendment Radio (90.9) in Knoxville, TN, followed in the footsteps of Tantrum 95.7 by being raided by the right-wing fucks from the FCC.
A group of 3 agents from the FCC's Atlanta office and 3 U.S. marshals broke into the KFAR studio and stole all of its equipment (including the broken stuff). No trial, no nuthin'. They just decided to make themselves Judge Judy and executioner (as Homer Simpson would say).
KFAR was reportedly the only genuine community station in town - since the big stations in town usually run stomach-turning voicetracked junk and precious little that's designed for Knoxville. KFAR exceeded FCC regulations and didn't interfere with any other station, but it got shut down anyway. "The real criminals are the FCC officials who have given the public airwaves away to huge media conglomerates like Clear Channel," said one KFAR fan. "The airwaves belong to the people, and the public has a First Amendment right to broadcast on public airwaves."
The First Amendment. It means what it says, and it means it like a dictionary. And not just like one of the little dictionaries like the one that got dropped in the toilet at St. Joe's - we're talking more like an unabridged multivolume set, like the one at the library that needs its own stand. THAT'S how much the First Amendment means what it says! It REALLY means it! As Dr. Seuss might say, it means what it says, and it says what it meant - the First Amendment's perfect, 100%!
After all, this is the same First Amendment that Crap Channel and other exploiters of the airwaves cited when regulators dared to propose limiting the number of broadcast licenses they could own at everyone else's expense. And the same First Amendment cited by Sinclair to provide what amounted to free airtime for the Bush campaign, even though the airwaves are supposed to be a public trust. Crap Channel and Sinclair can't very well be taken seriously when they oppose the First Amendment rights of independent broadcasters but try to hide behind the First Amendment to justify monopolizing the airwaves for themselves or giving unreported "in kind" contributions to Disgeorge.
If the FCC is so serious about cracking down on unlicensed broadcasters, why do they let "approved" Clumpy Channel stations jump off their assigned frequencies and jam other licensed stations (like their 94.1 in Cincinnati does)?
MORE HOSTETTLER POOLOGGERY
Here's a congressman we used to mention a lot because of his fascism - and who should have been defeated years ago: Rep. John Hostettler, a right-wing Republican who represents - rather, misrepresents - Indiana's 8th District, in the southwest region of the state.
How'd this lunatic ever get elected? Because it was 1994, that's why. Can't expect an honest election from that year. We distinctly recall that in elections in later years, his opponent would be declared the winner, only to have a whole bunch of votes for Hostettler suspiciously appear out of nowhere and cause him to "officially" win.
Hostettler was known for his anti-Semitism and his view that the Second Amendment refers to individual ownership of nuclear bombs. On April 20 of this year, he seemed to get himself in over his head by trying to bring a loaded handgun onto an airplane. While attempting to board a US Airways flight to Washington at Louisville International Airport, he was caught concealing the weapon in his briefcase.
The congressmoron's press secretary said, "Apparently the congressman had left a handgun in his briefcase and forgot it was in there and took it to the security checkpoint." What?! How could someone possibly leave a handgun in - of all places - a briefcase by accident before getting on a flight? The press secretary elaborated that Hostettler was allowed to carry a gun anywhere he chose because he had a permit, and that he is an avid sportsman.
Yes, it's possible to use a small handgun instead of a rifle for hunting. Maybe not too common, but it is possible. More importantly, however, EVEN WITH A PERMIT you can't bring guns on planes! If you have, say, a driver's license, does that give you the right to drive over the neighbors' lawns?
What the hell was Hostettler trying to do by having a gun on a plane? Let's put two and two together: It was April 20 (Hitler's birthday), Hostettler has pro-Nazi views, and neo-Nazis have been responsible for domestic terrorist attacks in recent years. Hostettler was part of the Contract With America crew of crackpots that defended Timothy McVeigh. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to see the potential for danger this guy has.
As a result of his attempt to bring a loaded gun onto a plane, Hostettler was sentenced to 60 days in the slammer, but won't have to serve it unless he has more run-ins with the law during the next 2 years. He also had to surrender his gun, and he's also not allowed (another Allowed Cloud!) to have a gun in Kentucky or purchase a gun anywhere other than Indiana or the District of Columbia until those 2 years are up.
John Hostettler really got a slap on the wrist. Just think what would happen to YOU if you accidentally left even a can of mace in your suitcase in the trunk of your car in some parts of the country. The state would give you some free lodging and meals for the next couple of years - but it ain't gonna be a Holiday Inn.
Here's more evidence of Hostettler's zany conduct. In 2002, when a group of breast cancer survivors came to his office, he kept shouting them down and insisted that they had all had abortions. Later, Hostettler denied this episode ever occurred. Hostettler once showed up at Indiana University to confront a group of environmental activists. Throughout the event, he continuously argued with them about the proper pronunciation of the phrase "polychlorinated biphenyls".
People deserve better representation than this in Congress, and let's hope that in this election Hostettler's political career is forced to a screeching halt as voters send him home kicking and screaming.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
This voluminous letter to the editor submitted to us from a reader - titled "How To Fix What's Really Wrong With The American Government" - is about Roger Rothenberger's Beyond Plutocracy: True Democracy For America, a full-length book that's been made into a web page:
To The Editor Of The Last Word:
Most of America's many political, economic and social ills are caused or aggravated by its most fundamental problem: America is not a democracy. America is a plutocracy governed by a wealthy few. Its government is populated by and first and best serves the wealthy who hold a perpetual hegemony of power and wealth through the generations, much to the detriment of the rest of the populous. Elections, offices and the favors of government are bought just like any other commodity.
While the major political parties embrace some differing secondary issues that attract each of us to one over the other, they all embrace and do not alter the current plutocracy. Therefore, the fundamental injustices and the many social and economic problems caused by the plutocracy are never repaired. Superficial reform and eternal tinkering will never fix the problem. The problem is not which party or who populates the government. The problem lies in its design, its structure and the distribution of its powers. The wealthy and wealth serving hold a hegemony of power over the electoral process and in all three branches while all others are excluded.
Our current plutocracy is not the result of irresponsible wealthy corporations and individuals corrupting in recent decades our once-sacred democracy. The creators of America's constitution and government were among the wealthy aristocrats of their day. When creating their new government, the founders excluded democracy to the extent politically possible at the time. They embraced instead the republican form of government, so-called "representative" democracy.
The great failure of representative democracy is that supposed representatives do not fairly represent the entire populous but themselves and their wealthy clients first and best. Thus, the republican form of government always degenerates into plutocracy, governance by the wealthy. In truth, it starts out as plutocracy and never rises above it.
The greatest service of the representative form for the wealthy is that while excluding democracy it appears to be one. People dutifully vote and believe the myth that America is a democracy, albeit a strangely unresponsive one that they repeatedly try and fail to make work for them. Thus, unrecognized for what it is by most people, the continued existence of the American plutocracy is assured.
As dramatically demonstrated by their rapid increase of power and wealth in recent decades and by the economic decline of all others, the wealthy few who occupy the coordinated and mutually supportive seats of power in government and elsewhere have got their act together.
The excluded many are fragmented in thousands of ways and ineffectually beg an unhearing government to include their needs and interests: minority rights, women's rights, something of a living, corporate honesty, morality in the media, environmental protection, a true balance of interests. . .The divided many claw at each other as republicans vs. democrats, left vs.right, conservatives vs. liberals, capitalists vs. socialists, "good" people vs. "bad" people, etc. Like seeds in the wind, the divided and excluded are scattered over hundreds of thousands of projects and places, each attempting to do in their own way what good they can within a national environment that is physically, mentally and spiritually poisonous to the furtherance of good.
The solution, the only possible solution, is to partially redesign the American government. I have done just that. I have written a full-length book entitled "Beyond Plutocracy - True Democracy for America," hereafter simply Beyond, about how to fix what's really wrong with the American government. It is available free at www.beyondplutocracy.com.
In Beyond, the profound imbalance of power currently favoring the wealthy few is corrected by the creation of a new fourth branch of government, the demos. The demos consists of the entire electorate electronically practicing a new kind of democracy designed to achieve consensus on a limited set of our nation's most important issues.
The sole power to tax and three other economic powers are removed from the other branches of government and moved into the demos. The demos also contains a new way to elect the president, senators and representatives. In our current electoral process, we are resigned to rapidly selecting "the lesser of evils" from among a few poorly known candidates financed, and, therefore, pre-selected, by the wealthy. In the demos electoral process, any number of candidates (who need not be wealthy or wealth supported) may take any amount of time to run for office and build a following. Members of the electorate may take any amount of time to study and deliberate about candidates and to reach out to each other across states or the entire nation to directly elect truly representative officeholders that resemble them in body, mind, interests and pocketbook.
The only way that the millions of divided people currently excluded from government will ever gain any significant measure of power and win a better world is to come together and pull together as a unified political power. But what can this diverse many come together around? They (we) should, we must, come together around the one thing we share in common: our exclusion from government.
The singular goal of the excluded many must be to win inclusion in government. This does not mean that everyone should drop what they are doing now: environmental protection, helping the poor, etc. Everyone should simply add "winning inclusion" to whatever they are currently doing.
The most convenient place to build this unified political power, the True Democracy Movement, is on the Internet at a single location. At this location, we must build the demos described in Beyond, each person working as capability, interest and time dictate. Then we must work with persistent unity and dedication to first make this demos become a political power to be reckoned with and, in due time, make it become the fourth branch of our government.
Once the entire electorate is empowered both by direct participation within the demos and by finally being able to elect truly representative representatives to the other branches of government, we can all deliberate on an equal footing WITHIN government about all of our other issues. America will finally have gone beyond plutocracy and become at long last a true democracy.
Using the media they own and the offices they occupy, the elite who most benefit from the current plutocracy have succeeded in convincing many people that any change in our current system is a radical move toward socialism or communism. This is the "red scare" tactic. The changes proposed in Beyond have nothing to do with socialism or communism. They merely introduce a judicious measure of true democracy and fair representation into our government.
Significant change is characterized by the elite as activism and radicalism. In truth, our current plutocracy is extremely radical, and the elite's relentless fight to ever increase its power, wealth and privilege is extreme activism. Beyond's "consensus government" is designed to avoid all extremes and achieve a moderate consensus of the entire electorate - a golden mean - that facilitates individual freedom, personal responsibility and good citizenship.
In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is our right and duty to throw off despotism. We now suffer a despotism of extreme plutocracy. Individual freedom, the attempt to achieve true democracy, and truly free enterprise not under the foot of government-favored corporate giants are all under assault from the radical elite. It is our right and duty to win true democracy, honest representation and just governance for our nation and the generations to come.
The design of government has improved throughout human history. Over two hundred years of experience with our government's current design has clearly shown that it has serious flaws. But these flaws can be repaired. The proposals made in Beyond are offered for your consideration as the right corrective measures for what is really wrong with our government.
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(Copywrong 2004. Online edition created with Internet Exploder 6.)
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