Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Decline of American Civilization

Now, if I understand correctly, the right is trying to destroy any help the poor have through their ongoing “kill” of ACORN, they are trying to eliminate the working class’s right to organize their labor beginning with their attacks on SEIU, the conservatives in Congress are forcing us to buy $600 billion in overpriced and ineffective health insurance without a public option and if we don’t we are fined about $3,000, and corporations may soon become in control of our electoral process and have unlimited control over our government through unlimited use of their war chests similar to what we saw with the Tea Baggers in July and August because of a possible Supreme Court decision in favor of Citizens United.

What happens to America, what happens to Americans and how long will we take that shit?

I hate to leave you hanging, but I’m still working on this script—it’s almost done—and I can’t really get in to this question right now, but, so, umm, here’s a, uh, rallying…cry....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Is the Washington Times Not Out of Business?

The Washington Times is spreading lies about death panels by proxy. That Ronald Reagan’s favorite newspaper would take the conservative line on health care reform or even lie is not what I am aghast at.

What bothers me is why they are taken even remotely seriously and why the hell they have not been exposed as a tool for the anti-American Moonie agenda and their circulation diminished.

The Reverend Moon claims to have been visited by Jesus on a mountaintop in Korea and proclaimed the Second Messiah. The Christian Right, if they were really right on Christianity, would realize that is heresy (and perhaps even blasphemy) by their own Christian beliefs.

Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is Mormon. He is buddy buddy with Mr. and Mrs. Moon. You can find video of him on You Tube praising the Moons and attending their functions.

The same is true with former Republican North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms who, in 1988 alone, is reported to have spoken at five Moonie functions.

The bump in the logic road here is that back in the 70s, Moon claimed he would take over and control America. How does that jibe with these conservatives anti-Communist sentiment? The Communists wanted to take over and control America as well if I understood correctly.

The difference, as I understand it, is Moon gives away money to bribe politicians. That Reagan said Moon’s paper was his favorite newspaper made the Gipper America’s first Moonie president.

I’ll say it again. Ronald Reagan was America’s first Moonie president. Moon seems to be the Achilles Heel of the conservative right. Why more people don’t expose this is anti-American and anti-Christian.

That crown and cape he and his wife wears is also anti-American and anti-Christian.

If they can run ACORN out of business, shouldn't someone do the same thing with the Moonies?

Oh, I get it. It's because Moonie is pronounced "money". The "u" is a short vowel sound not a long one in Korea and conservative American politics.

More Moon later.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eddie

I wrote about Eddie Hatcher in my first four posts for this blog called Iran Contra’s Dark Secret Revisited With Activist’s Death. Today would have been Eddie’s 52nd birthday. He died this past May 1st.

When I was in North Carolina in 1996 trying to produce a film about Eddie and the larger Iran Contra cocaine backdrop, I held a press conference to expose what I had uncovered about Jesse Helms and his connection to the cocaine of the Contras and the cocaine-funded military coups in South America, and the conspiracy to persecute Eddie.

At that press conference, there was a reporter/columnist there from the Wilmington Morning Star. Her line of questioning to me was from the perspective that I was glorifying Eddie, who had terrorized 19 people the day he and Timmy Jacobs took the hostages at the Daily Robesonian newspaper.

One of her co-workers had been one of Eddie’s hostages. The woman had suffered nightmares and anxiety from the ordeal she suffered at the hands of Eddie and Timmy.

I have never condoned the hostage taking. I should note here that Eddie and Timmy let many people go free. Regardless, the hostage taking was designed to draw attention to government collusion in the drug running that was destroying Robeson County and other parts of North Carolina—and America—with the cocaine aspect of the Iran Contra conspiracy.

Eddie and Timmy freely agreed to turn themselves over to law enforcement and stand trial. And to the point raised by Eddie’s critics about the hostage taking I would raise this point: George Bush lied to get us into a war with Iraq where 4664 Americans have died so far and 31,494 have been wounded. This does not take into account the, perhaps, hundred thousand who will have nightmares and other psychological disorders as a result of the trauma of war.

What Eddie subjected the hostages to also pales when compared to what Wall Street bankers did to the millions who lost their jobs and their homes with the economic melt down last year they caused.

What about the nightmares and psychological disorders and shattered lives that resulted from their greedy and borderline criminal behavior? I don’t remember them being interested in turning themselves over to law enforcement or standing trial for their misdeeds. I have not even heard them offering up an apology.

And what about the number of people who have suffered as a result of being denied surgeries prescribed by doctors and who went bankrupt because of health insurance industry greed?

What Eddie did had nothing to do with greed, you see, no matter how evil his critics believe his actions were. It had to do with trying to draw attention to a government-involved drug running scheme and avoid being killed by local law enforcement practically the very same day.

His motives were to help stop the drug scourge that was rampant in Robeson County and destroying the community. Eddie did not make billions off his actions.

I used to be confused and confounded by Eddie’s detractors when they did not see the significance of the larger conspiracy Eddie tried to expose in the context of his actions, but after the Tea Baggers this summer, I can see that there are too many stupid people out there.

If Eddie had made billions off his actions he may have been regarded as a folk hero—an opposite and equally erroneous opinion, in my opinion—of what he really was.

But Eddie did not make billions like those who profited off the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or make billions on Wall Street foreclosing on homeowners, or make billions from honest, hard working Americans paying their health insurance premiums.

Many of those who despised Eddie were ignorant of the larger story. But it goes beyond that. Here in America, it seems there are those who prefer being on the side of those, like Helms, who were responsible for the cocaine coming into America to destroy lives and cause nightmares and psychological disorders.

As I said, I don’t condone what Eddie did, but if you compare Eddie’s actions to the actions of others—like American presidents and CEOs---Eddie should have a statue erected in his honor in Washington, DC.

Friday, September 25, 2009

We Need a Frank Serpico in Congress!

“Frank, let’s face it, who can trust a cop who don’t take money?” is one of my favorite lines from the 1973 movie “Serpico” starring Al Pacino. I read the book “Serpico” by Peter Maas when I was a kid long before seeing the movie.

In the movie, Frank explains that all his life he wanted to be nothing but a cop. As a nine or ten year old, he recalls, there was an emergency in his neighborhood with lots of excitement and flashing lights and a big crowd gathered around a tenement. And he was asking everybody what happened but nobody knew.

“Then all of a sudden the crowd just parted—like the Red Sea—and there were these guys in blue and I thought, ‘They know.’”

That’s how Frank Serpico, the proto-type of the uncorruptible cop, back in the days when many of New York’s Finest were most corrupt. Serpico idolized, romanticized and idealized being a policeman because of the power and knowledge policemen had—and because of the service the provided to the people.

Perhaps the same could be said of elected politicians—although there are much fewer opportunities to become an elected official than there are cops.

Senators and Representatives, they know, and they are surrounded by crowds and they, supposedly, help the people.

Police corruption is based on the premise that cops sell their power to withhold or avoid arrest and imprisonment for the benefit of criminals. Similarly, political corruption is based on the premise that Congresspersons sell their power to pass laws and enact funding for the benefit of criminals and quasi-criminals.

With the health care “debate”, we have seen how legalized bribes in the form of campaign contributions offered by the health care insurance industry have bought off the Blue Dogs and the Republicans.

America needs a Frank Serpico of Congress. What Serpico went through to maintain is integrity as a law enforcement officer is more than admirable, it is iconic. In ancient times Frank Serpico would have been turned into a Roman God of virtue. In my young mind—and today—that is exactly what he is—only New York is Rome, as it is in many other aspects.

A Frank Serpico of Congress today would make the rest of them shrivel and shrink like demons before an exorcist just because of comparison reasons. Those bribe takers we have now would not be able to easily explain to their constituents who they really work for and why.

Is it the money from lobbyists or concern for the welfare of the people and the betterment of society that they care most about?

Sure, corporations are people too. And so are pimps, prostitutes, pushers, polluters and politicians.

This is supposed to be the official
Frank Serpico blog. If we cannot have a Frank Serpico-type Congressperson, then perhaps Serpico’s opinions of current American politics will help.

For those who have never seen the film or read the book, I recommend them both.

Plus, it’s a New Yawk story! And I will always love New Yawk!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

God Tells Me

I’m busy working on this script, as I have been for awhile, but I wanted to impart this to you, because I think it is important.

I was walking through a park surrounded by nature, feeling an inner peace and a connection to God.

And then God came to me and told me something I never ever considered before, which is:
for those who are killed in automobile accidents, there is a drive-thru lane in Heaven.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kids Are People Too!

“Kids Are People Too!” was a news/variety TV program for teens that ran on ABC from 1978 to 1982. The program grew out of another TV program called “Wonderama” for pre-teens and children that ran for 20 years and was hosted for about ten of them by Bob McAllister, who hosted KAPT for about a year and was fired by ABC due to creative differences.

Corporate wanted something different than creative.

Now, the Supreme Court is poised to decide if corporations are people too. I find the whole thing absurd and see a possible overturn of election finance law as a dark day for America.

Let’s hope some organization files another suit and can prevent the overturn in the event the Supreme Court guts what the Founders intended as the First Amendment in the form of freedom of expression.

While not all corporations are bad and because of capitalism we enjoy a high standard of living, there is enough greed in corporate America and enough unresolved bad in capitalism to require improvement.

Corporate greed is the Achilles Heel of the American corporatism as evidenced by the taxpayer bailout last year. While they seek to dominate us through the class system and their wealth to manipulate everything but the Chinese, they need We the People in ways they do not want to admit.

And they are afraid of We the People, otherwise the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations would not have funded the tea baggers, birthers, deathers and other nutters to sway the argument back in July and August.

Even Obama is afraid of We the People, otherwise he would not have violated his campaign promise of transparency and prohibited We the People access to his visitor log.

If Sotomayor votes in favor of overturning previous decisions that upheld Tillman, then we will have another example of Obama going the other way.

At that time, I become angry.

Until then, just to whet all our appetites for Change We Can’t Deceive In, here is a post-screening question and answer session with Michael Moore for his new film, “Capitalism: A Love Story”.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Comedy Hero is Gone

As I write this, it is the 37th anniversary of the premiere of “M*A*S*H”, one of the more progressive comedies to come from American television in the history of American television.

I wrote a script for “M*A*S*H” when I was about 16 or 17 that dealt with the acceptance of a prostitute who lived and worked just outside the 4077th. Frank wanted her removed and Hawkeye championed her not for his own sexual gratification, but for her humanity.

“M*A*S*H” was one of my favorite comedy TV series of all time. I especially loved the first four years from 1972 to 1976. The man who created that exceptional bit of TV comedy, Larry Gelbart, died last Friday.

For those not in the know, Gelbart was a giant in comedy. He began at the age of 16 writing for Danny Thomas. He wrote for Bob Hope and Jack Paar. He was one of the writers for Sid Caesar 50 years ago when Caesar had arguably the most genius writing staff of anyone which included, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Neil Simon, Gelbart and Carl Reiner.

He wrote the award-winning Broadway hit, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”. He wrote the screenplays for “Tootsie” and “Oh, God”. He wrote many other things, but perhaps he is best remembered for “M*A*S*H”.

Military-based comedies on American TV before “M*A*S*H” were “McHale’s Navy”, “Gomer Pyle”, “Sgt. Bilko” and “Hogan’s Heroes” among others.

“M*A*S*H” was the first military comedy to rail against war in a serious way, although utilizing comedy. Granted “MA*S*H” the TV show had “MA*S*H” the movie to set the tone for its anti-war sentiments. Had the film not succeeded it is doubtful Gelbart and Reynolds would have been able to make “M*A*S*H” the success it was. But what Gelbart did with “M*A*S*H” could not have been duplicated by a lesser talent no matter what the success Altman’s film had.

Throughout the history of comedy, those who did social commentary first worked in straight comedy, with the exception of Mort Sahl and perhaps a few others later on, although Lenny Bruce seemed to be bent early on.

But even Lenny started on the Arthur Godfrey talent show doing impersonations and working in the Catskills and early New York television. George Carlin did straight comedy before becoming the counter culture icon he became. Early Richard Pryor did Bill Cosby-type comedy, before the classic, groundbreaking “That Nigger’s Crazy” followed by his follow-up albums.

Obviously there is a big difference between Larry Gelbart and Richard Pryor, but the same was true with Gelbert. He honed his comic craft in the straight comedy of the day before he began utilizing everything he learned to satirize war and warmakers.

“M*A*S*H” was set against the backdrop of America’s “military action” in Korea a little more than 20 years earlier, but at the time America was still in Vietnam. Therefore, the anti-war sentiments in “M*A*S*H” fit nicely with the anti-war sentiment in America and Gelbart exploited that nexus as no one had before. No other sitcom had been so anti-war with the obvious exception of “All in the Family”.

Gelbart’s genius was to entertain while educating. Of course, Gelbart alone was not responsible for the genius that was “M*A*S*H”. He could not have found a better partner to produce such a subversive show than Gene Reynolds who, like Gelbart, had quite an extensive resume in mainstream Hollywood product.

Alan Alda’s “Hawkeye” became iconic and “M*A*S*H” owed much to Alda’s comic acting talent. Larry Linville brought us a Frank Burns that seemed more like a real person rather than the creation of an actor.

The anti-authoritarian banter between Hawkeye and Trapper was very Marxian—Groucho, that is. The well-defined characters helped present a show that lampooned military authority and their desire for and organization of war, juxtaposed with the very human aspect of war, i.e., saving lives and dying, therefore becoming nearly as subversively counter culture as John and Yoko introducing America to the Yippies and the Black Panthers on the Mike Douglas show back in 1972.

Gelbart created the character of cross-dressing Corporal Max Klinger after Lenny Bruce’s own stories of dressing up in WAVE’s uniforms to get out of the Navy in which he served during WWII.

After Gelbart’s departure, “M*A*S*H” would continue and become one of the highest-rated TV series of all time. In fact, the finale of “M*A*S*H” would become the most watched TV show in history.

In his career, Gelbart won an Emmy for ““M*A*S*H” and two Tony’s for the books for “Forum” and “City of Angels” and was nominated for an Oscar for “Oh, God” and “Tootsie”.

I watched a couple of first season Gelbart-scripted “M*A*S*H” episodes tonight and the humor is as funny today as it was 37 years ago. That is a testament to the comic genius of Gelbart as a writer, script consultant and series creator.

Most comedy writers are intelligent and articulate people. Gelbart was one of the most intelligent and most articulate. There is an eight-part interview series from the Archive of American Television on You Tube. This video is part four where Gelbart talks about the creation of “M*A*S*H”.

For those not familiar with Gelbart, I suggest you watch the video. Larry Gelbart is American comedy history.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Max Redroom

In 1980, the great director Stanley Kubrick committed to film his version of the Stephen King novel, “The Shining”. In the film as in the book, there is a scene where the son Danny writes “REDRUM” on the wall in lipstick so that when it is viewed in the mirror by his mother Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and she sees “murder”.

Max Headroom was a fictional character that was pure artificial intelligence and had a TV show in the 80s.

Max Baucus is the United States Senator from Montana and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who, yesterday, revealed his health care bill.

Put them all together and you get a guy named Max who was on TV today and many times in the past, whose intelligence seems as artificial as Styrofoam who has murdered his own Senate health care bill, his reputation in Congress and possibly, and hopefully, his chances of getting re-elected in Montana.

One of my favorite comments from Deep Throat, Hal Holbrook’s character in the movie “All the President’s Men”, is appropriate here: “These guys just aren’t that bright and things got a little out of hand.”

These are a few of Baucus’s comments, “It is balanced, a common sense bill that can pass the Senate,” and “It is time to act. This is our moment in history.”

Now you see why I compared Baucus’s brain to Styrofoam.

Baucus has received more money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries than almost any other Senator. No one expected him to deliver anything substantial on health care reform. But he thinks we believe he did.

All these guys do is lie anyway. Even Olympia Stone reportedly described the legislation he created as “watered down”.

All that time wasted in pursuit of bi-partisanship

This makes Obama that much more frustrating. I knew Baucus was ridiculous way back when. Could Obama not have exercised some leadership in July, for God’s fuck’s sake?

Could Obama not have written the health care bill he wanted back in February or March or April and told the Senate and House to make it work by September?

As I offered in a previous post, perhaps Obama was allowing the Teabaggers (and even Blue Dogs connected to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries) to run their course and then he would take control. I’m paraphrasing my own theory—it had more to do with poker and being Captain Kirk.

Hang on. Am I talking about the same Obama who was brown nosing Wall Street Tuesday, basically asking them to regulate themselves or he’s going to hold his breath?

If Obama can call Kanye West a “jackass”, you know what he thinks about Baucus, Grassley, Palin, Enzi and the rest.

Well, today everyone balked at Baucus. Why? Because Baucus bogged us down and Baucus mocked us.

Yes, the plays on his name are important.

Repetitive ridicule is a superiority tactic most apparent in the principles of school yard/locker room bullying from my youth. I know it well because I was subjected to it mercilessly and failed in turn at it miserably.

We all need superiority over these assholes. I am tired of my government behaving the way it does—and that’s before the corporations take over everything after the Supreme Court rules in favor of Citizens United and makes multi-nationals people too!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Calling in Sick Today

Like my friend Dennis, I too am working on a script. And I have a goal schedule of 15 pages per night. But tonight I am starting late, so the blog has to be forfeited. I have many ideas but no time.

As a wise man, or a white man, or a wide man once said, “That’s why God invented You Tube.”

So, here is one of my favorite Blondie songs. I would have presented more but EMI seems to have required embedding to be disabled by the user. Bastards!

This is a live version of “Dreaming” but the audio is not live. Still, the visuals are great and should take anyone back to that time if they lived through it.

The song is 30 years old and always takes me back to those days when I was young, idealistic, hopeful, and had almost no responsibility—or other people’s problems.

The drumming by Clem Burke is most impressive.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Iraqi Shoe Thrower

If I typed his name as the heading, you may have no idea who this post was about. His name is Muntazer al-Zaidi, for those who do not know or have forgotten.

At this writing it in unknown whether he will be released today or there will be another delay. I can only hope he is released and hope my positive vibe has its intended effect.

What I find interesting is what he said as he threw the shoes. As many of you know, I do not speak Arabic, but I found the translation in an article: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” he shouted before he threw the first shoe, and, “This is for the widows and orphans of Iraq,” he shouted when throwing the second one.

If I were Iraqi, I would be just as angry if some shithead like Bush lied to launch a war for oil and war profits which resulted in widows and orphans and maimed and dead—especially children.

It is unclear what Mr. Zaidi will do for work once released. He may return to work for the Iraqi television station in whose employ he was when he became a hero to billions worldwide.

If throwing shoes is one of the greatest insults in the Arab world, then perhaps the US military, upon the commencement of its invasion way back in 2003, should have lobbed shoes at Saddam and his son’s Uday and Qusay and their palaces. It would have saved a lot of innocent lives and we could have humiliated Saddam into surrender.

A lot of money could be made by throwing shoes, pies, water balloons and other assorted items—tractor tire rims?—at Saddam and his son’s Uday and Qusay, just like at a state or county fair amusement booth not only in America, but in Iraq as well.

Since that is not possible now, perhaps Zaidi would consider working as a taxpayer-paid shoe thrower; lobbing steel-toed boots at Max “Haucus Paucus” Baucus, Kent “Gone Bad” Conrad and Harry “The Need for Speed” Reid.

Then I’m sure he can get hired by liberals at Teabagger rallies. I know I’d pay to see some of those idiots defending the insurance industry’s death panels and their billion dollar profits get a size 13 snow boot on the noggin from a second-story window somewhere near the demonstration route.

I’d love to see Jim “Demented” DeMint have a Payless Shoe Source work boot graze his splanchnocranium.

I envy Mr. Zaidi, as many of us probably do. Why? Because we would all like to have thrown a shoe at Bush but we were only able to scream at the TV while Zaidi actually vented his anger in a good ol’ fashioned, non-lethal way.

But Zaidi paid the price for it, and I don’t think any of us would want to serve the prison time, but that’s the beauty and convenience of vicariousness.

For those who want to see it again here is the best version I could find on YouTube in the brief time I had to search for it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Big New York City Move

On this day 400 years ago, Henry Hudson had already sailed up the Hudson River, although it was obviously not named that back then.

More importantly, it was 27 years ago, almost to the day, that I moved to New York with my friend Dennis Perrin. It was a Tuesday at about eleven pm when we climbed into his big tank of an early-to-mid 70s olive drab color Mercury Marquis with a white vinyl top and missing front grill.

We drove all through the night, seeming to convince each other, if I recall correctly, that we were making the right decision and taking the right direction in our lives. We weren’t going into such a big change blind because we had visited NYC for one week the previous June for the big anti-nuclear rally that began at the UN and ended in Central Park.

We arrived in New Jersey and I was driving when we got pulled over by the New Jersey state police. I had seen them going the other way, unless there were two different troopers.

Driving Dennis’s car we obviously looked like a couple of potheads although I was not into pot as much back then as I would later become.

I told Dennis we were being pulled over and he shoved a joint he’d just rolled—or some similar scenario—as far back under the seat as he could.

I pulled the car to the shoulder and the troopers made Dennis and I get out of the car. One trooper reached up under the seat but could not grab anything. The troopers separated Dennis and I and tried to get us to admit we had some drugs and where it was.

I remember the trooper telling me it would be easier on us if I just told him where the drugs were. Ha! I think it went easier on us just the way it worked out—with me saying nothing.

The troopers took Dennis and I to the trunk where we had crammed all the possessions that would not fit into the back seat.

The troopers were asking who owned everything they held up. Dennis had hidden his stash in the pocket of an article of clothing near the bottom of the pile of clothes. When they asked whose shaving kit it was and I claimed it, I knew we were home free.

I don’t remember the exact sentiment, but I think Dennis and I laughed and celebrated our victory and even saw it as a sign that our trip was ordained by the Gods of Manhattan.

We arrived in Chester, New Jersey where we stayed with the family of a friend of Dennis’s. Her father was a pharmaceutical executive. They were from England and very nice people. We had stayed with them in June.

Dennis and I would drive to Morristown and park the car then get the commuter train to Hoboken, catch the PATH to the World Trade Center and scour the city looking for jobs.

I don’t remember looking for very long. Memory is a bit fuzzy, but I remember sitting on a bench on 26th Street on the north side of Madison Square Park worried about getting a job. The job I got was at 25th and Fifth Avenue, right around the corner, in this building:

It was a shipping and receiving job for Frankel Associates. Dennis had also gotten a job down near Wall Street, if I remember. But he and I were somehow running out of money. I thought I had saved a thousand dollars and I cannot remember how much Dennis had saved. I remember Dennis and I talking in the guest room where we stayed and knowing our backs were against the wall and we had come so far that we couldn’t just go back home.

So, we asked to borrow about $600 from our hosts. I know it was not any easy decision for them, but soon they said yes. The next day, I told my new boss I needed another day to find a place to live.

Dennis had to start work the next day, I believe, so the apartment finding was up to me. I remember sitting in Washington Square Park with the Village Voice and finding a listing for the apartment we ended up renting—apartment 4C at 153 Norfolk Street in this building:

I had no idea where Norfolk Street was, so to find it I “listened to the wind”, as it is called, and I began walking down to Houston and then east. As I approached Bowery, I remember thinking that I didn’t really want to go much farther. The Bowery was scary back then. But something told me that Norfolk was on the other side of Bowery and that was where I went.

I remember paying the money and signing the lease. The rent was $395. Quite expensive for that neighborhood back then, I would say. They knew I was not a New Yorker. But we moved to New York to live in Manhattan, not in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island. Dennis posted a recent video of our first building on his blog last week.

I remember we loaded up the car and drove into Manhattan on a Sunday night—either the 12th or the 19th. We came through the Holland Tunnel and up to Houston and over to Norfolk. Before we got to Bowery (somewhere around Mott Street) we took the Indiana license plate off the car because we didn’t want people to know we were from Indiana and rob us.

Luckily we found a parking spot right in front of the building and unloaded the car. We didn’t have that much stuff and it didn’t take that long. I don’t remember what we ate for dinner that night. I also don’t remember a giant sense of enthusiasm. There was a real and gripping sense of what lay ahead—adjusting to New York. I had wanted to live in New York since I was 14. I had moved even farther away from home at the age of 20. But New York is New York. If you don’t respect it, it can eat you alive.

Going to work everyday and developing relationships and exploring and learning everything New York had to teach changed me beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Dennis and I developed a sort of New York toughness. The winter was rough but invigorating and the next spring was so rewarding.

Dennis and I moved to a New York that still had a little roughness left over from the 70s. It’s been 27 years ago, but to put it into its proper perspective, we arrived less than two years after John Lennon was murdered, about five years after Son of Sam was arrested, about six years after the release of “Taxi Driver”, and about seven years after the premiere of the “Saturday Night Live”, and the Twin Towers had just nineteen years left to stand.

It’s too bad the memories of one’s more precious days are only relegated to photos and fading memories, whether your own or of the people you shared the experiences with.

It’s too bad there isn’t a You Tube for the things we’ve done and the places we’ve been.

Happy New York Move Anniversary, Dennis.

Friday, September 11, 2009

That Morning

I write better when I stay up through the middle of the night. In the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, I was up writing. At about 8 am PDT, my roommate Gianin called from Switzerland to tell me with much excitement and breathless anxiety, “Jim, America is under attack! The World Trade Center doesn’t exist anymore!”

This was the same guy who tried to convince me that baby powder was cocaine, that there were UFOs over Malibu and other assorted practical jokes.

When I refused to believe him, he became exasperated. Then I thought, “Well, why would he be calling me so early?”

He begged me to turn on CNN and I did. I was shocked. Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn were talking and there was a shot from the top of CNN’s midtown headquarters at, I believe, Penn Plaza, showing that the World Trade Center no longer existed.

I do not think it is necessary to write about feelings of patriotism or recall the day in greater detail. I do believe the Twin Towers should be rebuilt, so, allow me to link to the piece I posted on July 16th to
Rebuild the Twin Towers.

Included in the post is a film about how the Twin Towers were built. We all know how they were destroyed. How they were built is, undoubtedly, even more fascinating.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two Oh One Oh

It’s been a rough couple of months for progressives—and Americans—surrounding all this health care reform traveling vaudeville show.

Nothing is certain as yet, but many believe Obama pulled the rabbit out of the hat. I did not get to see the speech because I was picking up a friend at the airport.

However, I saw snippets of it and listened to some guests on the Marxist Socialist Nazi Bolshevik Communist network (MSNBC) and they believe Obama “hit one out of the park” and brought a “game changer”.

The four year conversion time table may complicate my strategy of making America a more progressive country, but we have time.

I said a couple of weeks ago that Republicans could lose even more seats in the House and the Senate in 2010 if the Democratic Party and the progressives in it play it right.

By 2012, progressive Democrats could win even more so that the Blue Dogs are significantly marginalized just in time for the asteroid to wipe us all out because the Mayans said so.

The working, middle and lower classes of America want and need help and not just because of Bush’s economic meltdown. Average Americans have a deep need to know that their government cares more about them.

Senator Tom Coburn’s belief that people should not turn to their government for help is, I believe, classism. If corporations can turn to their government for help, and Republicans agree with that, they are classists and corporatists and hypocrites.

Taxpayers pay taxes. They deserve more for their tax dollar than to have 50 cents of every one of those dollars to be given to the military for contractors and weapons manufacturers who have no oversight or accountability. That is never mentioned by the Coburns and his ilk—I mean, like.

This is their Achilles Heel. Republicans don’t really care about the American people despite the right-wing Christian and abortion and flag-waving brainwashing. This needs to be explained to the American voter provided the Supreme Court doesn’t rule in favor of Citizens United and our elections can be bought and sold by corporate America.

They can also lose from a true Christian point of view because their lack of compassion for the uninsured in favor of insurance companies is certainly un-Christian. If Christ was anything, he was progressive. Lying and scaring old people is not something Christ would approve of. Really make the old Midwesterner Bible Belters understand this and watch what happens.

Someone with guts and balls needs to exploit the Repub’s and Blue Dogs’ lies about health care reform at their town halls and defeat them in the next available election. But that requires a very good opposing candidate.

If health care reform succeeds, all the Birthers in Congress could be forced out of office because of the high poll numbers Obama could well have because of a rebounding economy and the initial successes of health care reform.

I would caution progressives not to get greedy. The goal is to win centrist and slightly-conservative Americans with health care. Americans want to know that people care about them and do not care more about illegal aliens, etc. The Republicans are going to exploit immigration. Progressives should not make the mistake of stepping into the trap.

The goal is to build a better America. That cannot be done by piling on everything all at once. Some issues must be left for another time. If you convince Americans you are for them, they will help you be for others next time.

Certain Congressional races should be targeted, but not all. Perhaps Grassley is vulnerable—and easily defeated—because of his speeches about “death panels”, obstructionism in his “Gang of Six” seat and flip flopping on “death panels” by blaming it on Sarah Palin.

Obama needs to help forcefully. With the anticipated success of health care reform by 2010, Bill Clinton also needs to campaign. His ability to gloat because of the health care victory could be extremely valuable and key to Congressional victories in many, many races.

I personally am slightly more conservative than the average progressive on some issues. But we need to take this country in another direction and swimming to the other shore after the shipwreck we all survived since 2000 is the only real way to recover. We need to get as far away from conservatism and corporatism as possible then we can slide back down when progressives begin fucking everything up in another 10-20 years.

This is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Grassley, Coburn, Vitter and the others need to be made understand that fact in no uncertain terms.

And if they do not agree, they need to hear the same phrase I remember hearing conservatives say to liberals and leftists when I was a kid, and that was: “This is America, love it or leave it!”

On to Single Payer!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance to the Logo of AIG/AIU…

Back in 1983 after moving to NYC, I read Alvin Toffler’s “The Third Wave”. One thing I remember from the book was Toffler’s belief that one day multi-national corporations would be stronger and more powerful than governments because of globalization, etc. That became even more apparent today in two stories.

The first was on Huffington Post. It was a New York Times editorial titled “
A Threat to Fair Election” about the Supreme Court seeming to go out of its way to hear arguments about overturning a decision the Supreme Court has regularly made which prevents corporations and unions from spending more than the regulated amount of campaign contributions.

This means corporations could spend as much as they want to elect the presidents they want, Senators they want and Representatives they way. This means American citizens will have much less impact on elections than they do now. In effect, our elected leaders will be voted into office by the power of the corporation in much the same way the Deathers and Nutters operated at the town hall meetings this summer.

Given that some liberals believe Obama moved the Supreme Court to the right with Sotomayor, it will be interesting to see how she and the conservatives on the highest Bench in the land vote on this.

Toffler believed, according to the Wikipedia, “The assault on the nation-state from above would include the rise of powerful non-national entities: IGO's, multinational corporations, religions with global reach, and even terrorist organizations or cartels.”

Do Republicans and Democrats count as terrorist organizations and cartels? And which would be which?

The second story was an Associated Press piece titled “
Fines proposed for going without insurance” that a bill was floating around Congress that would propose fines between $750 and $3800 for anyone found not to have health insurance. This part of the overall bill—if not the whole bill—was obviously authored by the insurance industry but attributed to Max Baucus.

This means there will be cops in every emergency room ready to take to jail the injured and near death who don’t have Blue Cross.

This means the health insurance industry may soon have the ability—through Congress—to force us to buy their health insurance with all its denials and deductibles and death.

Didn’t we purchase our health insurance last year when we bailed out AIG with 150 billion dollars?

So our future may soon be run by corporations. There will be no need to vote; our corporations will elect who they want to lead us. There will only be a need to be good consumers and workers.

There will be laws passed by the corporations. And there will be town halls where people will be called unpatriotic Communists if they mention they did not buy the products produced by American Corporations.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

How can we as Americans really be free if our lives and our governments are run by corporations and not by ourselves?

It seems the Second Amendment allows us to shoot at CEOs and glass-walled corporate headquarters to maintain our nation’s Constitutionally-guaranteed security.

Then Erik Prince’s Blackwater/Xe mercenaries, hired by the multi-nationals, will return fire on Americans. Why? Because Doug Coe and his twisted right-wing Christian-capitalist-military group The Family had said God likes the rich and powerful but not the poor.

And Prince’s obsession with being a soldier in the Crusades will allow him and Coe and all the Family’s Senators to redefine the Crusades as also being against working, middle and lower class Americans who will also be considered by them as infidels. They already believe that, they just don’t say it.

The Second American Revolution may soon be coming to your country near you.

Does that mean it would qualify as the Third World War just because the corporations are multi-national?

Just kidding!

For those who need convincing—or a good laugh!—here is the best scene from the 1976 movie, “Network”.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Supra Lubna

Yesterday morning after waking up I looked to see, as I do every day, how many visits my blog has received. Given that it was Labor Day I expected 3. I was surprised to find 61, about 55 of which had read my second piece on Lubna Hussein’s trial being postponed arising from her arrest in Sudan in July on charges of indecency for wearing trousers.

Yesterday it was announced that she had been convicted and fined $200 and the punishment of 40 lashes had been set aside. I laughed because Lubna won. Despite the conviction which they had to give Lubna to save their faces, Lubna backed them down. It was a small victory compared to the conviction but it was a major victory compared to what could have happened.

She had stated to the world media that if convicted she wanted to receive the 40 lashes in public. Because of international publicity Lubna garnered for her case by being brave and outspoken, she backed the Sudanese authorities into a corner and they had no choice under the intense global media spotlight to back down.

I read farther down the story to find that Lubna said she was not going to pay the fine because she was going to appeal the conviction and she wanted the law repealed. An
LA Times online story that said she wore the same trousers to trial that she was arrested in.

I laughed again because Lubna inspired me. When I said in
my first piece about Lubna, “The world needs more brave souls like her”, I didn’t know she would be this brave.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I am finishing a screenplay about honor killing that I wrote with my friend Rinde who was born and raised in northern Kurdistan (southwestern Turkey) and writing a book about the history of honor killing, I always try to imagine the audience it would attract world wide.

The movement Lubna could be starting in Sudan could spread far and wide. In America more than fifty years ago, the Civil Rights movement was sparked by a seamstress named
Rosa Parks who simply refused to sit at the back of the bus. She was arrested and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began.

What Ms. Parks began obviously led to the election of the first African-American president of the United States, whose middle name happens to be the same as Lubna’s surname.

Change is possible. Because the Civil Rights Movement began in a place as fundamentalist with its Jim Crow laws toward blacks as the Sudan is with its Sharia laws toward women, a Civil Rights Movement for women can begin in Sudan.

I want to emphasize that in no way do I, as a western man, mean to suggest anything bad about Muslim men. Quite the contrary.

A victory for Lubna is a victory for Muslim men everywhere because then Muslim men will not have to use their anger and other emotions and get as upset about something as trivial as women wearing trousers. Then Muslim people everywhere can turn their attention to the more important issues facing people everywhere. It takes a lot of brain power and energy to get angry. And it is very draining.

Why not put that mental and emotional energy to good use in other ways and for other issues like food and education and health care for all the people?

As I said in my second piece about Lubna, Sharia’s indecency laws are constructed so that the woman becomes responsible (by covering up every bit of skin) for Muslim men being tempted when the responsibility should be on Muslim men to see some skin and learn to control their temptations.

Muslim men not being responsible for controlling their own responses only makes them weaker. Therefore, the indecency laws may need to be revised if not only to give women stronger rights and to make women more comfortable in their dress and to make Muslim men stronger to control their responses. Trousers cover all the skin. Modesty is all that is required by Quran. Are Lubna’s trousers not modest?

If Lubna’s trousers violated the indecency laws for many of the same reasons that were discussed 80 years ago in America when Hollywood stars began wearing trousers—the argument that trousers removed a woman’s femininity—then that has nothing to do with indecency as much as personal taste on the part of the Sharia interpreter.

It seems to me that Muslim women wearing trousers would be more in line with the equality that Prophet Muhammad stressed between Muslim women and men. But that’s just the opinion of a westerner who has done some study of Islam and Quran in the past ten years.

When Lubna wins by repealing the law, I suggest she launch her own line of clothes. She will make a fortune selling her own brand of trousers all over the world and could use that money to help other causes for the women and children of Sudan and other countries.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day, All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

According to that well of socialist indoctrination, the Wikipedia, the form of the celebration for Labor Day since its inception in America in 1882 after being borrowed from Canada, involved a parade for labor and trade organizations, followed by a festival for the workers and their families.

Originally, the AFL (American Federation of Labor)—back then not yet joined with the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations)—decided that the Sunday preceding Labor Day should be called Labor Sunday to nourish the spiritual aspects of the labor movement.

So, how ironic that Obama is giving his speech to a joint session of Congress a mere two days after Labor Day on historic legislation regarding health care reform for those who have fallen through the cracks that organized labor sought to protect.

It seems that everything everyone in the Obama camp has been saying up to now, including Obama himself; has been telegraphing that he has abandoned the public option in favor of a bill in which all Americans are legally obligated to get health coverage from an insurance company just like car insurance.

This means the next time you get pulled over by a cop and he asks for registration and insurance it may mean registration with a health insurance carrier and proof that a current policy is in force so that if you are in an accident there will be proof that when taken to the emergency room, your emergency health care expenses will not be paid for by those who’ve been bearing the burden up to now.

I prefer to wait until Obama speaks before getting nasty about it.

I have been rewriting this screenplay on honor killing. That’s an even more depressing subject than health care reform. And it is almost as complex.

Honor killing is illegal in Islam. It is against Islam to kill someone without trial. Honor killing takes place only in cultures in which men have absolute control over a woman’s sexuality usually in communities where that is used to judge a family’s “honor”.

We’ve had honor killings in this country. But mostly we’ve just had violence against women in the west.

I am also writing a book about how honor killing began and the birth of honor killings shares the same history as Christianity and Judaism. Perhaps after that history becomes familiar, male domination through all things social, political and religious throughout the world may begin to be resolved and hideous things like acid attacks against teenage girls like those that are common in Afghanistan may become as ancient history.

Even if Obama doesn’t say what we want about public option health care reform, our lives haven’t been put in jeopardy or taken for innocently talking to a stranger and we haven’t had to go to a hospital because acid was thrown in our faces for a variety of insane reasons.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Few Days Lite

That’s me in the East Village back in 1985. Glorious days.

I wasn’t happy with what I had written yesterday about Dick Cheney, so I didn’t post it and didn’t post anything in its place. Snarky is no substitute for satire.

I left the Haudenosaunee post hoping more people would read it. I believe it is a valuable piece of American history—especially for the Birthers, Deathers, Gunnutters, Seceders and whites who hate a black president for reasons of skin color as opposed to the frustration and disappointment others feel about Obama.

I am hoping the announcements made today that the Attorney General is required by law to investigate torture could lead to Cheney going away for awhile (until Obama offers a presidential pardon) for torture.

I doubt Obama will make mention of anything significant next week when he addresses Congress about health care. Hope I’m wrong. Perhaps he’ll beg the Republicans to make another attempt to negotiate. Unless he’s playing very high-stakes poker, I don’t understand him and don’t want to try right now. To me, Obama is like an African-American, accentless Schwarzenegger.

Speaking of Schwarzenegger, he must have been someone Teddy Kennedy rolled his eyes about many times at family functions in Hyannisport when Schwarzenegger tried to talk politics. So far Obama is disappointing, but I hope Schwarzenegger is disappearing.

This post serves as fair notice that the next few posts will be light on substance because I need to cram between now and Tuesday to finish a screenplay about honor killing, a very serious subject throughout much of the Muslim world.

As I explained a couple of years ago to that close personal friend of mine who’s a recording artist up the beach, I believe one aspect of the war on terror is for we and the Muslim world to encounter each other as friends and get to know each other and discuss our realities with each other. A better shared future depends on it. This is my way of carrying that forward. A more in-depth book about the bigger issue will follow.

I’m happy about the fifth season SNL DVD release on December 1st. I will buy it its first day out just as I have with the first four season releases.

All the fires and smoke hanging in the air here in Los Angeles and the high temperatures have been a bit debilitating and exhausting.

Happy Labor Day if I don’t post between now and then.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Little Known Anniversary of the Roots of Our Freedom and Democracy

One afternoon in 1988 I jumped into the St. Lawrence Seaway and was totally unprepared for the shock that went through my body caused by the cold of the water. The panic on my face must have been evident because of few of my Mohawk friends, notably Lorraine Canoe, grabbed me to make sure I did not drown. I remember trying to force the words from my mouth that I was okay but I don’t think those words were intelligible.

That happened at Akwesasne, the Mohawk Reservation in upstate New York, where I was for a function for the Akwesasne Freedom School headed back then by Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp who I interviewed for the WBAI-Pacifica radio show mentioned in the “About Me” paragraph to the right.

What may send a similar shock through America’s body is discovering the little-known, non-white history of the origins of our democratic freedoms. While we have always been taught that our democracy was founded by our white land owning and slave holding Founding Fathers, the historic fact is that American democracy as we know it would not have happened without borrowing it from American Indians.

That’s right, 867 years ago yesterday one of the giant cornerstones of America’s democracy, our “More Perfect Union” federalism and many facets of the structure of our government, many of our freedoms and various European democracies owe its creation to the Five Nations Haudenosaunee (pronounced Haudeno-shonee), which is the confederation of the Onondaga, the Seneca, the Cayuga, the Oneida, the Mohawk and with the addition of the Tuscarora later, becoming the sixth nation in the Haudenosaunee.

On August 31st, 1142, three hundred fifty years before the conquest of Columbus, the Haudenosaunee, otherwise known as the Iroquois Confederacy, was founded through the Great Law of Peace—the
Iroquois Constitution.

What the Iroquois Constitution inspired in our own Constitution are many and fundamental. The two Houses of our legislature, our Congress, are taken from the Haudenosaunee not the Greeks; the three branches of our government are taken from the Haudenosaunee not the Romans; veto power, impeachment and the procedure for when a leader becomes sick were taken from the Haudenosaunee not the British.

All of this and more was borrowed and used by America—the same America which attempted to kill off or assimilate, the bulk of its entire indigenous population, even though it owed a major part of its “democratic experiment” to people who many American military, political, religious and business leaders thought were not even human, or were devils, or were simply beneath whites in all aspects. The term “ignorant savages” as used back then was not nearly as derogatory as it is today.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin told colonial delegates in 1754, “It would be a strange thing if six nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming such a union and be able to execute it in such a manner that it has subsisted ages and appears indissoluble, and yet, that a like union should be impractical of ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous, and who cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interest.”

Moreover, Europe was inspired to throw off the suffocating shackles of monarchies by the Haudenosaunee through the Myth of the Noble Savage. The French took inspiration to end the reign of Louis the XVI because they saw how the Haudenosaunee lived in harmony with one another and with their surroundings and wanted the same for themselves.

One major difference of the freedoms or the Haudenosaunee and America lies in the intrinsic rights of women—existent among the Haudenosaunee but absent at the founding of America.

According to the book
“Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World” by Jack Weatherford, Karl Marx was also inspired by the Myth of the Noble Savage to invent communism to reflect the liberty enjoyed by the Iroquois and how their community took care of all of its members without class distinction or structure with equality for all.

So, the founders of the two Cold War enemies inspired by American Indians to want greater control over their own freedoms and personal liberties.

The Great Peacemaker, whose name was Deganawida, and Hiawatha, his spokesman, would perhaps be bewildered at how badly the superior white race comprehended peace, given that the descendents of Marxism and American democracy could not forge a peace between themselves so many centuries after the Haudenosaunee did and that they nearly brought the world to nuclear war—a worse fate of war than the Great Peacemaker would ever have known or imagined in 1142.
On October 21, 1988 the US Senate passed a
Concurrent Resolution to acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy in the development of the U.S. Constitution. So, if America says its true, you cannot doubt it.

However, there have been Christian attempts to diminish or deny the influence of the Haudenosaunee on the US Constitution and our freedoms. This is an
example of one attempt which, in this link, is roundly refuted. Some Christians can barely get Christian history straight, let alone American history.

What I find fascinating about this is the Birthers, Deathers, Gun Nutters and typical Repubs and Dems are having trouble enough with America being lead by a black president, how much would they hate finding out that their freedoms, the ones that we still fight the “war on terror” to preserve, were created by Indians.

I promised to use this blog to educate about Indians. If you think the Birthers, Deathers, and others mentioned above are bad now, just read a little American Indian history.

And if you believe we can’t get health reform care from our government so easily, just remember, it was once very easy for them to give out small pox.

Just kidding.