FEB 2002

MICHI GANDERS

INCENSED LICENSE...The Michigan House wants to allow the release of "Choose Life" license plates bearing the authority of the state of Michigan - as if abortion was illegal here. Even worse for those who incorporate the separation of church and state into their belief system, fees from these special plates would be directed to religious anti-abortion groups via the Secretary of Stateís office. Well, they can be as pro-life as they want, there will still be roadkill on lifeís highway....Michigan is not part of the bible belt but this sure smacks of being bible belted. Let me guess, Jesus is their copilot? Or is he riding shotgun keeping an eye out for abortion providers?...For years Iíve suspected some legislators must have metal plates in their heads; but who knew they were license plates?

POLY TICKS

PRETZEL LOGIC...If President Bush really choked on a pretzel and thatís what made him pass out and fall off the couch to receive a scar the size of a half dollar plus a bruise on his lower lip - well, then heís taking this non-drinking thing too far. You gotta wash it down, gotta give it a chaser OK? Forget about terrorists, just keep this guy away from the snack foods...."My mother always said, ĎWhen youíre eating pretzels, chew before you swallow,í" Bush joked. "Always listen to your mother." Meanwhile, Poppy complained, "So, think youíre too good to pretend to like pork rinds, huh?"...The presidentís physician proclaimed G.W. to be in outstanding health and that his coughing stimulated a nerve, slowing his heart rate and causing a brief loss of consciousness (no, Iíll let that one pass). Also, Bushís type of faint may be more likely in people in good shape due to an already low heart rate and blood pressure....Now thatís what I call a spin doctor.

HYSTERICAL REVISIONISM...US Senator Strom Thurmond celebrated his 99th birthday in December - thatís 14 in dog years. Despite criticism that heís too old to be functional, Thurmondís supporters claim heís forgotten more than some of us will ever know - like thatís a good thing. A case in point, one of the senatorís quotes: "I have done more for black people than any other person in the nation, North or South."...Which sounds ridiculous. But he did free his slaves.

VIRAL CULTURES

THE REA$ON FOR THE $EA$ON ...Hoping to recover from a slump that began long before 9/11, retailers werenít thrilled with this yearís holiday sales figures. Even pickpockets and purse snatchers reported lower cash hauls and expressed disappointment that most stolen credit cards were already maxed out.

THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY POTHEAD...(Remember when ALL the potheads were hairy?)...It took a year, but Britainís Royals are finally feeling the heat from underage Prince Harry getting caught drinking ale and smoking pot. His father, Prince Charles, gained PR brownie points by taking Harry to a heroin clinic to witness the ravages of drug addiction - as if one joint equaled surrender to the needle. But I notice Charles didnít take him to an alcoholic treatment center (thatís because daddy drinks)....And were those "magic" brownie points?

BUSINESS BURROS

CONCORDE DISCORD...Well, the pinnacle of aviation achievement is back in the skies as British and French Concordes agreed to no longer use Bridgestone/Firestone tires....The super-sonic planes, which travel at twice the speed of sound, safely landed in New York City during a major slump in cross-Atlantic air traffic, and after their own 15 month absence. One change on the big bird is the lack of silver cutlery, newly replaced with plastic for security reasons. Yet at $10,000 a ticket they ought to cut the food up for you....The next terrorist challenge? How to hijack a passenger plane with a spork.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER...The airlinesí prayers were indeed answered when Congress responded to their financial pleas like a pavlovian cargo cult with an ATM card. Our leaders gave the industry a $15 billion bail-out from US taxpayers because these same Americans, after 9/11, decided not to fly for SOME "neurotic" reason....Once upon a time the airlines wanted government out of their way. Uncle Sam supposedly stood in the flight path of even greater profits. They cried out: "If only we could run things ourselves" and the mantra "Let the market decide."...So what happened? They got their deregulation wish and proceeded to run the industry into the ground: closed service routes; cancelled flights; fliers sometimes stranded for days; rampant bankruptcy and take-overs until the few remaining airlines claimed to be operating to the bone. And that was BEFORE September 11th!...Like any sore loser, capitalists love the thrill of risk-taking in the market - until they get seriously burned. Then they come running back to Uncle Sam asking for a "do-over."...If the airlines paid their security personnel more than fast food workers, they just might have prevented terrorists from super-sizing four airliners. How perverse that by [potentially] being criminally negligent in airport security, the airlines end up reaping financial rewards. They actually became richer BECAUSE they were irresponsibly greedy! (And when corporations get this sort of a windfall, how do they celebrate? The old fashioned way: by firing 100,000 employees.)...The airlines clearly cared more about their shareholders than their ticket holders. But that strategy backfired when, it turned out, no one really wanted to be a dead ticket holder....So the market had spoken; the airlines just didnít like what it said.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM/PATRIOTIC ROT...When you think of war profiteering, you seldom think about toilet paper sporting the image of Osama bin Laden. Yet thereís money to be made in marketing the misery of September 11th because when it comes to a sense of patriotism, too many Americans have little sense. Sure, most of the terrorist trinkets are recycled Ayatollah products, but think long-term. This wasnít the first conflict to exploit anti-Arab jingoism, and unfortunately it wonít be the last. Meanwhile, someoneís laughing all the way to the bank - and make no mistake about it, theyíre laughing at YOU....But then the major corporations got involved with their "patriotic" commercials demanding we spend money on their goods "for the good of the company, er, country."...Whatís more offensive, Osama bin Laden condoms or big corporations exploiting the deaths of thousands of American lives for profit? When it comes to capitalism, you can always count on SOMEONE being exploited, so donít be too harsh on them. Theyíre only trying to capitalize on the situation. Itís what they do. They donít know any better....As for terrorist toilet paper? I guess weíre expected to do our patriotic doody.

ENRONíS END-RUN/CORPORATE CRIMINAL #1...Americaís seventh largest corporation went belly-up, taking down shareholders, retirees and employees in one strike as the Board of Directors made off with just over 1 BILLION DOLLARS. Enron and its consulting/auditing firm Arthur Andersen even shredded documents to conceal illegal acts and in the end did more to sabotage the US economy than Osama bin Laden. These were economic terrorists and theirs was the ideology of unbridled greed. But hey, whatís more American than that?...As more facts were revealed Enron sounded like they were in the agriculture business, treating everyone like mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed bullshit (hey, if you canít roll out that old joke for this scandal when can you?)....The media says such events could threaten Americaís trust in large corporations - as if thatís a bad thing.... Because of his relationship with the former energy giant, Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from involvement in the federal investigation into what is the largest case of financial fraud in the history of the United States - that and investigating Enron would cut into his ability to take away more of our constitutional freedoms. Itís the same old problem: "So many amendments, so little time."...Enronís contributed so much money to Democrats and Republicans, to governors and presidents, to state legislatures and to Congress, that it seems thereís no unbiased group left to investigate them. But I say, "it takes a crook to catch a crook." So what if Congress and the White House are over-qualified?...After being convicted the Enron executives should go to prison for their criminal behavior, even if they give the money back. And once there, America should be in no hurry to turn these ex-execs into ex-cons.

GORED BY FORD...Ford Motor has announced plans to layoff 35,000 workers and the closing of 5 plants in its latest restructuring - which is looking a lot like deconstructing to me....Remember their post-9/11 ad campaign, "Letís keep America rolling"? Who knew it would be to the unemployment line?...Looks like thatíll end up being "J.K. Rowling" - meaning Harry Potter merchandise. And wouldnít you know, sheís from England and most of the products are made in China.

DOWN FOR THE DISCOUNT...As stock figures continued to decline, and after firing their Chairman, K-Mart Corporation finally declared Chapter 11, becoming the largest retailer ever to do so. So the next time you see an in-store blue-light special, their stock on sale could be literal.

AMERI CANARDS

GERALDO-ING THE END?...Fear not, lovers of journalistic integrity! Geraldo Rivera is back, and Afghanistanís got him. (Havenít these people suffered enough?) And THIS time heís got a gun. So if he comes up empty with Osama bin Ladenís cave like Al Caponeís vault, thereís gonna be more than chairs flying....And heís not exactly a "smart bomb" either.

TEEN ANGEL IN HELL...The 15-year-old who flew a Cessna into a Tampa skyscraper was seeking attention, according to his best friend. Which only worked for 15 minutes of fatal fame, because these days crashing a plane into a building is SO "9-11."

STATUE OF LIMITATIONS...Controversy has ensued over the proposed statue to honor New York firefighters for their heroic efforts during the attack on the World Trade Centers. Not because of its cost or location, but because it was modeled after a widely-seen photograph of three white firemen raising the American flag (not unlike the Iwo Jima memorial). The only problem is the proposed change to white, black and latino to symbolize the diversity and solidarity of New York City in the disasterís aftermath. Should the city be politically correct or factually accurate? Should a memorial be of a literal event or exemplify the spirit and values of an overall experience?...But doesnít anyone recall that the Iwo Jima photo, which the memorial was based upon, was actually a re-enactment? The photographer wasnít there when it originally happened so they recreated it. Were the final participants the exact same men? Does it matter?...In the end itís just a monument - perhaps more to ideals than to reality.

GLO BULLS

OILY WAY...If you believe the war on terrorism is unconnected to oil, just examine a few facts. 15 of the 19 hijackers of the 4 planes used in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi Arabian. Saudi Arabia pays extortion to Islamic fundamentalist groups to assuage their desire to topple the illegitimate Saudi government (supported financially and militarily by US dependence on their massive oil reserves). Are the Saudis feeling nervous? Well, theyíve placed severe restrictions on the US militaryís use of their territory for staging areas against Afghanistan - compared with the Gulf War. Yet the President claims weíll go after states who support terrorist activity. So, why arenít we bombing Saudi Arabia if weíre so serious about "draining the swamp" of terrorism? Oil. That slippery slope....According to the BBC, Afghanistan was chosen for the site of an oil pipeline to deliver the precious commodity from the Caspian Sea region towards the Arabian Sea. Recall that the Bush presidential campaign was heavily funded and supported by the oil industry even through advisors and, too, he did own an oil company. Vice-President Cheney (is he still alive?) made millions for himself at Haliburton supplying oil corporations after the Gulf War (where he was Secretary of Defense) and constantly harps on opening up the Arctic refuge to oil drilling - even if it will take 10 years to deliver the 6 month supply. With all that in mind, what exactly does America need in order to put these puzzle pieces together? A smoking oil well? [See Kuwait, 1990]

UNINTELLIGENTSIA...Weíve all laughed at the odd and sad tale of John Walker, the Marin County California young man who converted to Islam and joined the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But at least he was able to do what our multi-million dollar intelligence organizations couldnít: penetrate the al-Qaeda terrorist apparatus....Letís see, they didnít need their own missiles (they hijacked our planes) and we didnít need the CIA (they didnít prevent a thing)....So isnít it time to bring back the oxymoronic "military intelligence" reference joke? I hope we donít have a better example booming on the horizon....But they had such a great record going too after not having a clue about the collapse of the Soviet Union - remember The Evil Empire? - their entire reason for existence. (Can anyone say "conflict of interest"?)....Perhaps the spy agencies are just jealous....In other democratic nations like Western Europe and Japan, these intelligence officials would have willingly resigned in shame at their massive failure. Here in America, being above means never having to say youíre sorry.

SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT...In some parts of America, they still have barn raisings. In some parts of Israel, they still have home razings

FEB 2002

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