Meet the Older Boss

After calling Monday night’s RNC opening ceremonies on account of shame, it was obvious that John McCain was about to drop off the Bush-Cheney team at the next intersection with an open sewer grate. Last night, in accepting the Republican nomination for president, McCain jettisoned, by calling for the end to “partisan rancor.” That means everyone. After all, if McCain can be big enough to look past recent American political ugliness, he canexpect nothing less of his political opponents. After all, the Hapless Warrior isn’t really a Republican, he’s just a patriot. But not just any patriot. McCain doesn’t just love his country, last night he proclaimed he’s in love with the USA. Psychosexual overtones be damned, this leader isn’t afraid to express his attraction to majestic purple mountains and fruited plains. If you don’t like it, you’re just part of that tax-loving America-comes-second crowd.

So get with it, the old man says “no rancor!” and he means it. It would be downright unpatriotic to mull over the failed policies and unmitigated sleaze that have accelerated the decline of the land John McCain loves more than anyone who wouldn’t vote for him. He walked the walker last night. He owned up to slight Republican difficulties in between his live reading of his autobiography that filled in those blank spots left after three days of RNC bio vids of McCain. He told us that some Republicans had succumbed to corruption but promised “change is coming.” Well that’s a relief! How, you might ask, will McCain facilitate this change? By extending his hand to former enemies.

He has already proven that he can do this. Why else would so many Bush insiders (who hatcheted him in the 2000 R primaries) either be working for him or pipelining strategy to him? Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, and ad and media strategists Mark McKinnon, Russ Schriefer, Stuart Stevens and Fred Davis have all greased up McCain’s campaign with their fingerprints. And let’s not forget Bush’s 2004 attack dog, Steve Schmidt, who is now chained to the front seat of the Straight Talk Express. Talk about forgiving and forgetting! This McCain is a saint and a patriot!

This means the hucksters, who crammed George W. Bush down our throats as a compassionate conservative whose foreign policy would be humble and who would never engage in nation building, are back. This time they’re telling us that their candidate is the miracle cure for the ethical, fiscal and spiritual plague they visited upon us in the evil-as-he-is-incompetent George W. Bush and his soulless ghoul of a vice-president, Dick Cheney. So the question is rather simple, America — are we really going to let these fuckers piss in our faces again? Are we really going to let them sell us this Keating Five alum as a reformer, this impatient hothead as a warm credit-sharer, this ultra-hawk as the only viable hope for peace? Maybe. This is after all America, where anything can happen.

After Sarah Palin’s high octane yet empty-caloried speech Wednesday, it’s likely a large audience tuned in last night to see what all the excitement was about. By that point, the excitement was about 24 hours ago and not soon to return. Thursday’s RNC offered a night of endless drivel from several Gluttonous Old Party luminaries, including:

Former Fatherland Security Commandante Tom Rigid, who actually uttered the phrase “over 230 plus years ago.” He was bound to appear sometime around when the GOP reeled out their favorite nostalgic propaganda tool: 9/11 highlights.

Sen. Linseed Graham, McCain’s buttboy de camp, declared victory is on the way in Iraq, just as the R’s crack AV team projected a shot of a very large military cemetery behind him. Nice touch!

Former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs provided a treat for the evangelicals by babbling in tongues.

And Cindy McCain, who believes in throwing an occasional pearl into the poor box, provided the easiest of acts for her hubby to follow.

After one more video salute to remind us that he served in the military, McCain came out and gave the speech that would not end. Ever. I guess he figured that since he was incapable of delivering a barn burner, he would instead mention every piece of straw in the hayloft. Things grew pretty hazy for the next couple of hours but when McCain began to speak reluctantly of his POW past, for the 1800th time since January, you knew that he was close to wrapping this thing up so he could get back to his family and a good, home-cooked American meal.

It wasn’t too long before he was yammering “Stand up, stand up, stand up, and fight!” This caused several members of the Texas delegation to nearly kill one another, but mostly instigated a large uproar of appreciative clapping, hooting and howling. Then McCain, the guy who is supposed be ready for anything, didn’t notice that the crowd interrupted him and so he plodded ahead with his Rockne rhetoric even though his frail voice was all but drowned out by the roused reactionary rabble. He kept reading the script during an inaudibly clumsy crescendo to his boilerplate special of a speech. McCain’s Bambi-meets-the-teleprompter routine provided a silly counterpoint to his jingoistic surety. I haven’t witnessed such a moment in American politics since GHW Bush’s final campaign rally in Houston in 1992 when someone mistakenly cued the marching band that then broke into Twist & Shout, which was what Poppy was forced to do during the last few lines of his swan song.

The night was as genuine as the fake “home-made” signs that pockmarked the convention. (OK, either they were fake or every Republican just happened to buy the same watercolor markers that they then used to create remarkably uniform printing and messages.) The proceedings wound down with one last forced march of the spouses and kids onto a stage that was quickly becoming a de facto set for the Family Feud. Survey says: Hopelessly contrived!

Balloons and confetti dropped. Music of incomparable dildocity blared and then it was over. Sarah Palin was rushed off to isolation lest anyone ask her anything improper about her background, qualifications or knowledge of the world she wants to rule. McCain, up well past his bedtime, headed off for some much needed rest so that he can resume his deranged social studies teacher act today. And we are left to fret over whether or not this duo, with the help of the con artists who brought us George W. Bush, have in fact proven that we will get fooled again

 

Barry Crimmins, Political Satirist

Former Air America Radio writer and correspondent, internationally renowned political satirist and author of the acclaimed Seven Stories Press book Never Shake Hands With A War Criminal helped bring the Boston Comedy scene into the modern age when he founded two of Boston’s most fabled clubs: The Ding Ho and Stitches. Such acts as Steven Wright, Paula Poundstone, Bobcat Goldthwait, Kevin Meaney, Jimmy Tingle and many, many others cut their comedic teeth in the rooms Crimmins started and at shows he produced.

On April 21, 2000, the Boston Herald’s Robin Vaughn’s review of one of Barry’s shows included a concise Boston Comedy history lesson.

“In 1979, Crimmins, a politically minded comedian from upstate New York, started booking Boston’s brightest, brashest young wits into the Ding Ho, a seedy Chinese restaurant in Inman Square. The club, run for and by comedians, was an unpedigreed underdog, but broke conventions of the day in paying its performers reasonable fees and maintaining Crimmins’ comedy booking standards. He was hell-bent on originality and unforgiving of plagiarism. It was boot camp for the best comics in Boston and some of the most successful standups in the country. ”

According to that same Vaughn review, Crimmins hasn’t lost any prowess as a performer.

“To his old crowd, Crimmins is the patron saint of original, creative comedy in Boston and a brooding ideologue. His wit is as sharp as his sense of social justice, which has been known to eclipse a joke or two. But his hour-plus show, ‘Chicken Soup for the Vegetarian Soul’, served as a persuasive example of what intelligent stand-up comedy, politically themed or otherwise, can be.”

After helping jumpstart Boston comedy, Barry left production to concentrate on performing. In short order he gained attention as one of the top political satirists in the country. He has made countless television appearances on everything from The NBC Nightly News to The HBO Young Comedians Special to The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He has recorded two CD’s: Strange Bedfellows on A&M and Kill the Messenger on Green Linnet. His writings appear regularly in the Boston Phoenix as well as several other publications. He was a staff writer for the syndicated Dennis Miller Show and has toured in performance with Billy Bragg, Jackson Browne, Utah Phillips, Michelle Shocked, Steven Wright, Dar Williams and numerous others.

As special as it is to see Barry anytime, his election year performances are exceptional. After months of inundation with campaign ads and stump speech and media hot air nothing scratches the pesky political itch better than Barry’s well-reasoned and just plain funny responses to political conventional wisdom.

For example, we’re told repeatedly that if we don’t vote we have nothing to complain about. Barry’s reply: “Oh yeah, have you read a ballot lately? The biggest problem with this election is someone is going to win it!”

But by the end of his show there are very few people who wouldn’t feel a little guilty about not voting or, for that matter. becoming active in grassroots efforts. Barry has worked tirelessly for a myriad of causes and has been honored on numerous occasions for his willingness to drop everything when his insight and leadership were needed. Crimmins received the Peace Leadership Award from Boston Mobilization for Survival. He has also been honored, along with Ms. Maya Angelou, with The Courage of Conscience Award from Wellesly College and The Life Experience School at The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts. Community Works gave the Artist for Social Change Award to Barry for his years of activism.

Henry Laundering 

Here’s the straight poop on the hostile takeover of the government that’s currently prancing around Washington in drag as a bailout of Wall St. This scheme is an advance transfer of power so that the same fuckheads who have raped and pillaged the United States and the world for the past seven and a half years remain in control after George W. Bush no longer serves as the official frontman for their confidence game. Got it?

Bush and his Wall St cronies have taken the American people hostage. If we don’t cough up the first $700 billion installment of a gargantuan ransom demand, they’ll show us that they mean, and are, business, by beginning to knock us off one family, one industry, one town, at a time. Whoops, they’ve already been doing that — but now that it serves them, they’ll publicize these atrocities.

Paulson, Bush and the rest of them should be rounded up and thrown into the growing prison sector for extortion because using threats to coerce money from people is extortion and extortion is a felonious act. This incredible cash grab is the coup de grace of a coup d’etat that will move the USA once and for all into Mussolini-style corporate/government fascism. Once they ram this thing down our throats, every American taxpayer will soon have a new job, treading treacherous fiscal water for a bunch of economic dam-blowers.

Bush came into our national media room last night with his shopworn faux folksy act to rechristen Henry Paulson as “Hank.” The nicknaming was meant to humanize a cold-blooded reptile so that we’d trust it with not just the keys to the kingdom but the entire kingdom. So he laundered Henry the Hustler and shrunk him into Hank the Hero. If the squalid scam works, and it will, the American nation will become Paulson’s Plantation.

Having humanized the money-grubbing automaton, Bush proceeded with the threats by telling us that we’ll have no access to dough unless we first give it to Mr. Hanky for processing. Yesterday, via Congress, our nation’s alleged deliberative body, Paulson told us that there’s no time for luxuries like thinking before we take off our pants and present them as a tribute to our new uber finance minister. We were informed that there’s no telling how terrible things will get unless we sign the biggest deal ever without so much as reading the LARGE PRINT.

The audacity of this is even more massive than the attempted robbery itself. Again and again we have heard moneyed moralists chastise people who signed toxic housing loans because they were desperate to get some shelter. These saps didn’t read the fine print about how their loans could suddenly require monthly payments larger than their meager paychecks. Well at least the now-dispossessed got to live like the lucky folks for a few years but such contextual compassion is considered sentimental tripe in the banking rackets. These people didn’t read the fine print and the fine print put them out on the street and that’s that. Sympathy for such livers-beyond-means who were too desperate to look a gift horse in the mouth has nothing to do with economic reality. People too imprudent to read the fine print, made microscopic by nattily-attired grifters, deserved the destitution that awaited.

Point taken! Which is why I say we can’t afford to sign-off on a bailout shaped by a Wall Street sharpie, whose first move was to put himself and his chosen cronies above and beyond any accountability for how he chooses to spend our money. Especially when this guy is rushing us to sign the deal like a used car dealer who knows the bananas in the crankcase may not last long enough for the sucker to drive the lemon off the lot.

And so Congress is about to abdicate its traditional duty as a speed bump between the Bush Administration and even more unchecked and unmitigated power. In perhaps the most humorous moment of his testimony, Paulson had the nerve to tell a House hearing that he felt it was “presumptuous” to include safeguards in his plan. Of course Paulson had no qualms about safeguarding himself and his co-conspirators from the aforementioned accountability.

Our sleazy, piece of shit president warning us last night that America could slip into a financial panic drove me over the edge. The little fucker did everything he could to panic us and then warned that, unless we panic, panic could ensue. He spoke of job losses, bank failures, no money for homes, cars or education of our children unless we first hand over unprecedented authority and a few mountains of moola to Paulson. Think of it, not only was this crook the Treasury Secretary during this economic collapse but he knew that the Bush-Cheney Crime Cartel had this economic kidnapping at the ready months ago. In the meantime he told us everything was just fine. And then, with Congress desperate to leave town to hit the campaign trail, the fire alarm got sounded.

In an attempt to amplify the blaring sirens, loyal dupe John McCain suspended his presidential campaign from its march to nowhere to get back to DC to help out with crucial photo-ops. Such altruism! Just what Washington needs at this moment — another asshole willing to make a self-serving grandstand play to help stampede the lemmings into thumping down the craggy ravine of this criminal scam of a bailout. (And Bush of course endorsed McCain’s move and went so far as to say that if McCain decides it would be best to cancel the election, the White House would use all of its power to help stop the proceedings.)

Paulson is the stranger with a pick-up truck with a couple of ladders on it, who conveniently shows up in the aftermath of a hurricane. All he needs is a few grand to run down to Home Depot for some supplies and he’ll have our hearth and home restored by sundown. But please, no checks. Just hurry and get the cash so he can beat everyone else to the lumber aisle.

Actually he’s worse than that guy because he helped cause the hurricane and he knew well in advance when to show up with his rescue flimflam.

Don’t get me wrong, there is cause for panic — panic about how truly fucked we’ll be once we dig an even deeper pit to make Henry Paulson our economic dictator. Call your elected representatives today to remind them that as any wise consumer knows, we must first read and understand the fine print before we sign any financial instrument that will put us on the hook and maybe even out on the street.

Note: I’m now on facebook, ostensibly so I can announce new posts to people who use that service. If that’s you, befriend me and off we’ll go.

Power to the Feeble!

NOTE: I went up on the roof Saturday to take a look at the chimney prior to heating season and hammered my wrist (Steep roof, sudden increase of gravity, quick grab of chimney with hand at extreme angle = YEOW!). It’s pretty painful and makes typing rather difficult. It makes typos rather easy so please accept my preemptive apologies.

I had most of the following written before my imprudent ascension and although it isn’t exactly hot out of the oven, I did manage to finish cleaning it up this morning by typing with my good hand and so for posterity….

Living in/under a political system that’s all but limited to two parties that represent views spanning from the center-right to the far right (when measured by international standards) makes foreign policy debates between those two parties sure to be disputes about where the United States should concentrate on killing people. Dennis Perrin corroborated this sad truth with a brilliant piece of satire concerning Friday night’s John McCain/Barack Obama clash at the University of Mississippi.

Outside of reiterating that our economy would be fine if we would simply face up to our national addiction to foreign wars and if we’d acknowledge that militarism is poison to our country and even more lethal to uncounted innocents around the globe, there isn’t much for me to say, except to analyze how it may have influenced voters.

Outside of reiterating that our economy would be fine if we would simply face up to our national addiction to foreign wars and if we’d acknowledge that militarism is poison to our country and even more lethal to uncounted innocents around the globe, there isn’t much for me to say, except to analyze how it may have influenced voters.

Considering how quickly he seems to be losing his grip on reality, McCain was wise to reverse his announced plan to skip the Mississippi debate to focus on economic grandstanding. Because he showed up Friday night, he doesn’t have to run the risk of having the debate rescheduled for a few weeks from now when it might not be necessary for him to pretend he doesn’t recognize Barack Obama, as he did throughout the evening at Ole Miss. After attempting to excuse his antisocial behavior with his calcified, never funny admission that he isn’t “Miss Congeniality,” McCain spent the night illustrating that he could be as twisted physically as he is politically. His profane body language caused him to appear to be possessed by a unique blend of fascism and autism. While twisting and turning ever further away each time his opponent spoke, McCain couldn’t have looked any more ready to blow up had he a lit fuse burning on top of his scrotum-faced head.

According to pollsters, this hurt him badly with the crucial undecided simpleton demographic. Up until Friday, these folks hadn’t shown the good sense to run in the other direction when they saw a cranky old men who employs devices so trite, cliched and emotionally manipulative that Lee Greenwood would reject them out of hand. Throughout the debate, McCain unwittingly demonstrated his approach to foreign policy with his aversive treatment of Sen. Obama by ignoring his enemy until he attacked him.

Relentless attempts to guilt us into supporting him because he was shot down and captured during America’s imperialistic assault on Southeast Asia (allegedly fighting for your freedom from Ho Chi Minh) were sewn into the lining of his every assertion that he alone is moral enough to put the snarl on the puss of the USA’s carnivorous foreign policy. The foggily furious Republican came off as just another shattered old vet, responding poorly to the latest course of meds the VA is testing on him for Big Pharma.

Still, John McCain is one of two people who could take the oath of office come January. (OK, three if you consult actuarial tables) So if you’re droolingly stupid, horrendously ill-informed and bubbling with self-contempt, Whispering Johnny is probably your man. This means you should ring the bell or ask your attendant about how to either get an absentee ballot or arrange for a field trip to the polling place on November 4.

The rest of you understand that McCain is as dim as he is impatient and angry. Only a sap would celebrate (as he did Friday night) a bunch of American soldiers who re-upped while still in Iraq, believing that they signed back on because of a deep and altruistic patriotism. McCain, who spent the night saying “What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand is…,” doesn’t understand the main reasons why American soldiers in Iraq would re-enlist. First, some of them surely choose to stay on out of survivor guilt and so they remain at the table to play another round of Deer Hunter Russian roulette. But many more, when given the choice between a back door draft (via stop-loss) or re-signing the dotted line and getting a cash bonus, know which end of the gun to point away from themselves. The fact that these soldiers are coerced in this fashion only underscores what a dismal failure this war occupation has been, and how horrendously wrong McCain’s jingoistic of this disaster continues to be.

Friday night the Arizona senator presented himself as a grumpy incumbent with nothing but knowing disdain for Washington and all that it stands for, himself excluded. His failure to pull off this charade conveniently leaves Obama as the earnest but slightly naive student council candidate who is visiting the White House for a day and dreams what things look like from behind the President’s. After Friday’s debate, American political fence-sitters are much more likely to say, “Take a look, young man.”

This and that…. I’m no more freaked out by the shifty economy this morning than I have been for years. We will get nowhere until American workers stop investing their life savings in corporations whose “profitability” hinges on fucking over workers. The market plunge? Big traders punished us for ordering Congress not to pay the fat cat extortion demand. They will buy back the stocks they dumped at a bargain and profit twice from their seedy manipulations. Along the way, they’ll provoke panic and break the resolve of the House to say “Not so fast!” and get their bailout ransom, as well. This is what you call having things tilted in your favor. No matter what happens, things are rigged for the Robber Barons and against us serfs.)

Sam Smith of the Progressive Review followed the money down the drain on this fiasco and makes it clear that if we don’t look at “bottom-up” solution, taxpayers will, um, take it up the bottom.

The most recent owner, Phyllis High Jones, refinanced the house through Countrywide Home Loans in 2006, taking out a $208,000 mortgage that would gradually inflate to $226,000. That same year, Fannie Mae bought the loan from Countrywide. Then the housing market collapsed in Prince William County. Jones defaulted this year. The townhouse went up for auction, but there were no takers. Fannie Mae had no choice but to become the buyer of record — sale price $226,000. This summer, Fannie Mae tried to sell the townhouse for $149,000. Still no reasonable offers. The price has now been lowered to $69,900.”

By current bookkeeping, that is a $226,000 loss added to the federal books. But did it have to be? Unless she was trying to sell her home, the fact that the housing market collapsed doesn’t explain Jones’ default. More likely the increase in the mortgage and/or some personal problems made it impossible for her to cover it. Thus what appears to be a $266,000 loss may in reality only have been one as small as $18,000 (the change in her mortgage) or the $266,000 minus whatever she still able to pay.

Instead of buying the mortgage for $226,000, Fannie Mae could have become a passive equity partner with Jones in the amount of whatever Jones couldn’t handled. Let’s say Jones could have supported all but $69,900 of her mortgage; Fannie Mae would assume that portion. Today, Jones would still have her house, Fannie Mae would have saved itself $156,100 plus whatever profit it makes on its equity when the house is sold down the road, and there would be no fire sale going on – lowering other house prices in the neighborhood.

Multiply this approach by the 54,000 foreclosed homes Fannie Mae had last June, and the national story changes dramatically.