Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Nation that Mistook a Dangerous Zealot for a President

As regular gentle readers will know (that’s you Bob!) I’ve been AWOL from discussion of Bush, Kerry and the election for some time now.
Burn out, depression, same old-same old – who knows? All I know is that I couldn’t sustain the level of horror and disbelief required to continue watching the sad, sick sideshow that the war, the candidates and the run up to the election has become.
(Well, I watched it… fairly pathologically… but I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.)
And then I saw respected investigative journalist, author and New Yorker magazine contributor Seymour Hersh on Jon last night, touting his latest offering, the sobering ‘Chain of Command – The Road from 9/11 to Abu Grhaib’ and I found new heights (or depths) for my horror to grow.
(My horror is like the biggest fatty you ever saw – sometimes I give it bonbons in the form of reading the Op Ed section of the New York Times and sometimes I put it on a diet by religiously clicking past CNN without a peep or a peek. But I’m inconsistent – it’s why my horror is consistently flabby…)
Hersh, a veteran commentator (he originally broke the story of the My Lai massacre, winning a Pulitzer for his troubles so many historically ignored moons ago) was appearing on the Daily Show to discuss the book that details the White House’s single-minded pursuit of an attack on Iraq following through to the prison scandal in Abu Grhaib.
There was plenty there to discuss, plenty to ratchet up my already over-loaded horror quotient (or HQ as I now think of it) with speculation on the raw sewage that’s going to enter the atmosphere on wings when the truth about the even more horrific goings on at the Guantanamo prison come to light… the political nature of virtually every decision that surrounded covering up the various nightmares… and the fingerprints traceable to Vice President Dick Cheney visible on nearly every revolting, spine-chilling incident.
It’s funny – I’ve heard so much of it before (though with a few new twists and tweaks each time) that it’s beginning to sound like rote. It’s what makes the situation bearable though; all these ‘no surprises’
surprises, my eye fixed firmly on the White House and the American public, and trying, trying, trying to understand why a good 50% of them don’t see what the rest of Americans and the rest of the world see. How they can be sound asleep to the disconnect between Afghanistan and Iraq, Bin Laden and Saddam, serving in the military and allowing influence to include you out. You know – the usual.
So I guess in a way I’ve become saturated –there’s only so much insanity you can take before you have to step back and start taping 30-something reruns… letting the ‘same old, same old’ discussion swirl about you like so many buzzing, blundering bumble bees. But then Hersh said something that made me sit up and stop speculating on how Jon would look in a double-breasted navy pinstripe set off with a red tie, taking horrible notice of a truth I seriously hadn’t considered.
It’s not about oil and money.
According to Hersh, the real truth, the real horror - and the sorrow and the pity - is that people are on the wrong track if they believe in the conspiracy theories – theories so old and so familiar, they’re in danger of becoming as comfortable as a lullaby.
It’s not a conspiracy… it’s much, much worse.
The real road, the actual path to truth and righteousness, and the reason more than a thousand Americans and well over 10,000 Iraqis have lost their lives (and thousands upon thousands of others are injured or maimed or driven mad by the sights they’ve seen) is that Bush, Cheney, and the gang of neo-con ‘Zealots and Utopians’ that run the White House actually believe that they were right to go to Iraq. Right to bring death and destruction and misery raining down from above. Right to believe – and still believe - they can bring shiny American democracy into the lives of those they have literally and figuratively tortured for going on 2 years now.
That ‘flowers in the street, happy Iraqis welcoming the troops’ crap? They believed it. Setting up a government and patting it into place (and on the head) before cheerily saying a hail and farewell and trotting off to do the same thing to the rest of the Middle East? All in the original plan. Improving the US reputation as the planet Earth’s moral authority? You betcha. Getting the support of Americans who would march like sleepwalkers into the polling booths to endorse four more years of the same? Priceless.
And it’s happening right now.
The first of the debates is tonight and most of the pundits are already handing it to Bush, along with the oath of office and an order of fries – but there’s still hope: Americans must wake up. I believe it, Hersh believes it – he has to.
It reminds me of the film – a true story – about possibly the most famous sleepers ever, described by Dr Oliver Sacks (based on a chapter in his book: ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’ and played by Robin Williams in the 1990 movie) who brought them back from frozen eternity for a few short months, before they slipped back into twilight.
There’s a scene that occurs before the ‘Awakenings’ when Sacks (Dr. Sayer in the film) consults with a doctor who had diagnosed many of the patients with the mysterious sleeping sickness years before; Sayer asks the doctor (Max von Sydow if memory serves) if he thinks the patients are are sentient – conscious, aware - inside the bodies that hold them prisoner. The doctor replies that of course they are not. But Sayer persists – why, he wants to know, is the doctor so sure?
“Because the alternative,’ the doctor replies, “is unthinkable.”
Rise and shine America.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Dream a little dream...

It always happens this way; just as soon as things on the work front start to pick up (not that there’s all that much – bits and pieces, odds and sods, this and that…) and I find my near constant worry-level that it’s ‘next stop the gutter!’ dropping ever-so-slightly, fully fledged and out of seemingly nowhere come my love anxieties.
It began last week with my stampede away from the now elusive elevator boy, and has continued this week with a series of dreams (not re-runs thank God!) centred on my new celebrity love-interest, cable TV star Larry David.
Larry David – that’s right, Seinfeld creator and producer, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s creator and lead actor, misanthrope, whiner, misunderstood humanitarian, keeper of the societal rules that govern who pays the tab, makes the call, sits facing the door, uses the bathroom, wears the shirt, tells folks when the terrorist attack is coming… (and so on) and world class kvetch – Larry David. I had not my first erotic dream about him last night and I have to tell you, it’s not curbing my love anxieties one little bit.
(I’d tell you about the dream, but for the most part it was about Larry and me sewing blankets and mine had more than the standard two sides and I got a little preoccupied with that and other mysteries of the universe and the erotic part of the dream lost some of its momentum. Typical.)
So when I add the runaway elevator interlude in with the weird inappropriate-type dreams, I’m sure you understand how I wonder if our heroine will ever get the love machine back on the rails. It’s a matter of confidence you see, and times like these last couple of years have tested mine to the breaking point.
But Larry's not my first dream lover. I’ve always been attracted to off-beat types; celebrity-wise there was the Gene Hackman period (Gene circa the 80’s), the Mickey Rooney flirtation (Mickey during the Andy Hardy years… or perhaps more correctly, Andy Hardy himself), the John Goodman fixation, and on and off for years the Robbie Coltrane obsession (but only as Cracker.) Lately that Jacob Hoggard kid from Canadian Idol has captured my attention in a way I’m sure his mother wouldn’t approve.
Eclectic? Odd? Strange even? Yes, yes, yes – but there’s a thread; a thread of sexual confidence despite the vagaries of weight or appearance or human frailty; a thread of humour – the big belly laugh kind of taking the world on at its own game; and success, or semi-success (or even just carrying on following earth-shattering failure) because somewhere inside, these guys - these characters – know they’re special.
And special is, well… special.
I crave those moments when I feel indisputably special; when I am picked or chosen or complimented or recognized, or included, or singled out for attention.
I like it better than money, better than shoes, better than fries. I like it so much, and fear not getting it so much that sometimes what I most want is to be in the audience being thanked by whoever is winning the prize for really being responsible for it all – “this one’s for you baby!” he says as he waves his Oscar in the air – that’d satisfy.
But Larry David. Where does Larry David fit into all this? Granted he’s funny and confident out of all proportion to his abilities (Larry David the character I mean – Larry David the multi-squillionaire seems to be pretty darn able altogether) but he’s got just a scintilla too much of the ‘Out of Towners’ agony. (See the film if you haven’t seen it – but if you walk away at the end without a tension headache and an upset stomach, you must have dozed off somewhere around the time Jack Lemmon loses the cap on his tooth and has to go to a job interview with one shoe, whistling like a steam kettle.)
It’s agonizing to watch Larry line up a screw-up, then follow through with classic insane bravado; to observe him as he deliberately takes a stand on the basis of some archane unwritten rule of behaviour, then gets his ass handed back to him week after week. Actually, sometimes I have to almost brace myself to watch him. But then – oh then, fellow cable aficionados – he does that thing that I find almost as irresistible as a foot massage accompanied by a plate of crispy fried potatoes: he goes on with confidence.
Could it be – is it possible – my dreams are telling me something… and it’s not to take the first flight out to Manchester and pull Robbie Coltrane drunk and disorderly out of a gambling parlour, putting out his cigarette before he can burn a hole in his egg-stained tie, then propping him against something extremely substantial in order to bellow into his drunken, red-veined face: save me!
Am I supposed to be saving myself – having confidence when none seems available, going forward when it all feels like another trip to the blood-stained wall for yet another session of head-banging, continuing to write it out and post it and try to get as close to my own personal truth as I can without self-immolating?
Yeah. Maybe. But maybe it was just a dream…

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Idiots and whatnot...

Hey cute guy! Whoo – hooo! Cute guy! Over here… that’s right – here on this blog; how clever of you to have found me without my name, phone number, or actually any identifying information whatsoever…
As if.
Oops, I did it again. In my relentless pursuit of never letting anyone know I’m remotely interested in them, or could in any way be identified as single and desperate, I blew off another opportunity to meet someone I actually did find attractive and for whom the reverse could maybe/probably/likely be assumed to be true.
It was easy. Because I am the best. The ne plus ultra of cool characters – the unreadable, un eye-catchable, what-me-worry-I’ll-never-get-a-date-again-as-long-as-I-live, most permanent semi-living singleton semi-alive.
If you’d like to know how it’s done, let me illustrate with a scene right out of my own sorry life…
So there I was at 317 Adelaide this afternoon, coming out of a 4th floor studio, having just recorded the voice-over for a television commercial introducing a new drug (“R____ may cause side effects including nausea, dizziness, internal bleeding, temporary psychosis, war in the Middle East…”) when as the elevator doors slid open I espied that rare and elusive creature: the attractive male of reasonable age. (Please God - let him not be in is 20’s!) And what’s more to the point, he saw me.
I hopped on and immediately faked going through my purse, looking for something-or-other (keys, notepad, pencil, tranquilizers…) just so’s I wouldn’t stare and drool.
(I’m nearly paranoid about looking needy you see; that, plus I’ve seen far too many Doris Day movies where the hero will do anything – from hiring detective agencies, to having his apartment redecorated, to posing as an insecure Texas cowboy, all alone in the big city – ANYTHING in order to find the gorgeous creature he glimpsed briefly from across the automat (10 cents for pie!) and must now have for his very own. So when you think about it, a girl should never really actually have to do anything...)
But this time I was to be saved; knowing I was going directly on to my volunteer shift, I was wearing the green vest with security pass looped around my neck and it was this gear that offered him the opportunity to pose a question.
“HSC,” said the Adonis of my dreams. “What’s that?”
“The Hospital for Sick Children,” I offer breathlessly (or breathily maybe) “I’m a volunteer there.”
“Oh,” replies the Greek God come to life. “How terrific! I’ve always thought I’d be interested in that.”
As the elevator hurtles toward the ground floor and the end of this romantic exchange, his buddy pipes up. Did I mention there was someone else in the elevator? Maybe not. Surrounding him there was absolutely no pixie dust whatsoever.
“Yes,” he said. “Didn’t that friend of yours do it?”
Before Mr. Wonderful can even respond I’m burbling away – the busiest little brook 317 Adelaide has ever had flow through it before.
“Yes! You should do it! We’re always looking for men…there are already so many women there and the guys want a male presence, somebody to play Nintendo with… or Battleships… or just to hang out with…”
I rattle on, practically defending a Masters thesis on the psychological benefits of male role models on young boys, and I carry on… and on.
Finally we hit ground zero and as the doors open and the three of us emerge, the man who could one day proudly bear the name ‘Mr. Storm’ asks me for my card – so he can find out more information he says. (Ha ha! Really?)
I have no cards. How could I? I do things that don’t fit into any known category or description under two paragraphs; the one time I had cards, they were made by a friend and had my name, address and telephone number and underneath in quotations and italics: “Advice and Whatnot”. Perfect. Love it. Whatnot!
But sadly, not a single dog-eared identifier remains.
I could have done a number of things: I could have asked him for his card… I could have offered him my phone number and told him to call for all the help (wink, wink) he’d need to get fixed up for the next intake and orientation… I could have scribbled it on his arm, his shirt tail or his buddy’s forehead. I could have done any of these things, but instead I told him I didn’t have any cards and gave him the web address for the hospital.
“I guess I could have found that for myself,” he twinkled.
Did I stop then? Did I roll back the tape and consider options a, b or c? I did not. Like the fool I am, I carried on straight out the door, zooming along in that ‘places to go’ way I think makes me look so independent and un-needy.
“Do sign up – we really need volunteers!” I toss over my shoulder as I actually RUN to get across the street on a flashing ‘Don’t Walk’ sign.
I don’t get it. I really don’t. I thought self-sabotage was supposed to be subconscious – at the very least, slightly less than practically deliberate. But yours truly is moving so fast, and worrying so hard about possibly looking as though I might like to meet somebody, some day maybe, that I whip past all my prospects like Hurricane Jane, never letting anyone see inside.
And you wonder why they call me Secret Storm.
But cute guy, in case you’ve found me completely by accident (and you’d have to be one of those monkeys typing for a million years and coming up with every play Shakespeare ever wrote before you’d get to… and there was nothing even vaguely simian about you… sigh…) don’t forget – it’s click on Volunteer Resources…
Oops, I did it again.

Monday, September 13, 2004

101 things I don't get...

1. The appeal of Justin Timberlake.
2. Ordering a hamburger – with a salad.
3. Car racing – whether you’re watching it on television (endless
drone) or at a raceway (head-splitting drone) the cars are just
going around and around. Who wants to watch that?
4. Why in cartoons ladies all have the same shaped breasts, while in
real life, the variation is a lot more extreme.
5. Capers. (The eating kind. Cutting ‘em, going on ‘em – that I get.)
6. Bitters. (The drinking kind. The pissy, disappointed, cynical,
whiney, “nothing good ever happens to me” kind – that I get.)
7. European shiny industrial-type toilet paper.
8. Stinky cheese. (Though I heartily approve of ‘The Stinky Cheese
Man’ story book.)
9. Any kind of cheese, really.
10. Hiking into a frozen wilderness.
11. Cricket. (The game. The pests – those I get.)
12. Game shows that make you eat live bugs.
13. Why PETA isn’t all in a state about live bug eating.
13. Sylvester Stallone.
14. Vicious, depressed, bitter people who choose a career in customer service.
15. Why the dog, who loves treats, begs for treats – essentially lives
for treats – and who will eat almost any disgusting thing, has to
sniff the treat I offer her before she’ll eat it.
16. Why dentists need to be told that you are afraid of pain.
17. How even in a relatively small group picked randomly, you
invariably always get all the personality types from A to ZZZZZ…
but always more A’s
18. The career of Courtney Love.
19. The music of Courtney Love.
20. Why (according to Henri Charriere who wrote Papillon) if you put
things in your bottom, the one you put in first comes out first.
21. Cheez Wiz.
22. How they figured out to put snails in garlic butter.
24. How Alan Greenspan knows the things he knows.
25. Where the Giant Squid hides.
26. Why people watch Fox News.
27. Why guys soup up the engines of their cars and motorbikes so it
sounds like they’re broken and the guy is too cheap to fix it.
28. Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
29. Lava lamps
30. Lavalife
31. Men with beards but no moustaches. WHY?!
32. Companies that advertise on Popups – they piss EVERYBODY off.
33. Blank verse.
34. Why planes stay up in the air.
35. Why I always get a toothache on long weekends.
36. The appeal of most things Prada – especially the shoes.
37. The popularity of the sitcom Full House.
38. How the Air Farce is funny.
39. Orlando Bloom.
40. How under the headline “In praise of older women” there was a
picture of 46 year old Annette Bening.
42. Why in game shows where contestants vote each other off, people
feel betrayed when it happens to them.
43. Why people bring a breakfast consisting of 2 pounds of bacon, a
loaf of buttered bread and a dozen eggs (scrambled with cream) to
people who are confined to their beds by morbid obesity.
44. 14 year olds.
45. People tattooing their faces.
46. The Gotti’s.
47. George Hamilton-style tanning.
48. Calculus.
49. Global warming.
50. The mystery of the Loch Ness Monster; is it there or not?
51. Why tomatoes – even the expensive ones – taste like crap these
52. Why everyone acted like it was the end of the world when
‘Friends’ ended.
53. Why everyone thought Phoebe was so charming and wacky, when
really she was a stupid, mean girl who often stole things.
54. Why John Roberts is going to replace Dan Rather on the CBS
Evening News.
55. Incredibly expensive magazines about minimalist design.
56. Mel Lastman.
57. How as you get older, time really does go by faster.
58. Why if I’m vacuuming up a bunch of stuff, if a penny gets sucked
up I have to empty the bag to get it back. (Part two: why do I
believe that it’s against the law to throw away money? Is it?)
(Part three: especially when I have at least a dozen outfits I’ve
bought and never worn.)
59. Why the past seems so wonderful.
60. Arnold Scharwzenegar
61. Why Maria Shriver married the above.
62. How rich privileged people like Barbara Amiel Black feel so
comfortable passing judgment on the poor. Wouldn’t it be funny
if the reverse were to happen!
63. What Sass Jordan on Canadian Idol has to be so pompous about.
64. Ditto Zack Werner. Who the heck is he anyway?
65. How to get ahead.
66. How some people are so tidy. Naturally.
67. Why every time I get on the highway and drive to my girlfriend’s
cottage, my muffler breaks. Is it her? Is it the cottage?
68. Why if I have a nice speaking voice (and I do) I sing like a
strangled cat.
69. My accountant’s obsession with collecting every receipt, bill,
invoice and bank statement. She should relax and just round it all
70. Why I can never remember the weather like other people – what
years were hot or cold or wet; they’re all hot and cold and wet to
one degree or another. Right?
71. How I collected all these bits of paper.
72. The metric system.
73. Beer. It smells like skunk to me.
74. Why Jon Stewart can balance the absurdity of politics with the
weirdness of the American psyche on a little satirical news
program and the gigantic cable networks can’t.
75. The sneakiness of not picking up your dog’s poo.
76. Boiled root vegetables. Yuk.
77. How republicans can so successfully denigrate our health system
while millions of Americans simply cannot afford to get sick.
78. Why some Canadian politicians seem bound and determined to
take us down the same path.
79. What kind of sub-human creatures sexually abuse people in
their care and happily pose for snaps whilst doing it.
80. The sexual appeal of Fred Durst. Or Kate Hudson’s husband, or
that weird Dave Navarro guy.
81. How fast Britney Spears is falling apart.
82. How stringy Madonna looks.
83. Why Jeff Bridges is so undervalued as an actor.
84. How I can go months – even years – without sunflower seeds,
then go on a weeklong binge until my eyes are so puffed up
by all the salt I can’t see to go to the store and get some more.
85. How they get the ship in the bottle.
86. The secret of telling jokes well.
87. Why more people don’t see the similarity between Bob Hope and
Kelsey Grammar.
88. Why Kelsey Grammar always seems to marry strippers.
89. Why anyone cares where the red fern grows.
90. Why ‘Cow and Chicken’ was cancelled. (And therefore ‘I Am
Weasel’ too.)
91. How we managed before answering machines, voicemail and call
display. I understand people just picked up the phone when it
92. How life goes on when someone we love dies.
93. Why good things happen to bad people. All the time!
94. Why movie theatre popcorn, store bought birthday cake and
franchise purchased fried chicken tastes so much better than
95. Why people think ‘The West Wing’ is so true to life.
96. Donatella Versace.
97. Seriously pointy-toed shoes.
98. Fake boobs beyond the visual appeal. (Or reconstructive.)
99. Why there really are two ways of doing things: the easy way… and
the right way.
100. Why women are still second class citizens. They are you know.
101. How George W. Bush became the leader of the free world – and
how it looks as though he’s going to do it again.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Colouring the truth

In the ongoing mystery which is figuring out why anyone in their right mind would support George W. Bush for President, comes one of those kindergartner type questions that sometimes go unasked. So simple is the question and so ingenuous is the motive for asking that when finally asked, it quite literally takes one’s breath away. Or at least the words that breath was intended to propel forth.
“Why are they fighting now?”
This from a 6 year old I know who was listening to his mom and I discuss with the kind of well worn passion two folks in agreement - but still needing to get it on record – conjure up when in full-steam-ahead mode.
We’d been yakking away, comfortable in our well worn groove, a little dampened by Daily Show re-runs, but still buoyed by the odd new newspaper or magazine show revelation detailing another twist or turn in the Bush/Kerry two-step tango, and the most recently released bodycount, when my friend’s six year old – who in all honesty should have been fully occupied colouring in the spots on a cartoon puppy dog – asked into a rare window of simultaneous coffee sipping opportunity, “Why are they fighting now?”
The friend and I exchanged looks. If he’d asked about Swiftboat veterans, or Alabama Air National Guard records, or even the name of Jon Stewart’s new baby, we could have happily obliged. If he’d wanted to know our opinion on the futility of fighting a war against one man, or sending young people to their death to attack those simply suspected of producing WMDs (or which other countries were – as we rattled on – actually producing them) she and I would have had answers – or at the very least, strongly presented opinions.
But why the U.S. is still there, why people continue to be injured, maimed and die – it occurred to me that I had no opinion at all. And by the looks of things as she modeled her impression of the expression ‘gobsmacked’, neither did the friend.
From chattering away in a comfortable give and take two part harmony – allowing each other to ratchet up the horror with each escalating incident (it goes something like this: GF: What are Americans thinking? Me: It’s unbelievable that W should be so high in the polls when the war has proved a sham! He can't run on the truth - his only option is to attack Kerry! GF: Those bastard Swiftboat veterans! How dare they support a man who ran away from a fight by slandering a guy who served! Me: Did you hear about the guy who blew the whistle on the Abu Grhaib torture? His family were harassed by their neighbours and had to move away, while two towns over, one of the abusers was given a yellow ribbon parade! GF: The world is not safer from terror since 9/11 – we are in greater danger than ever since W has made the whole world hate America more! and so on…) we sputtered and stumbled as we tried first one and then another explanation.
“Well, the Americans are there to bring Democracy to… well, no, that was never really going to be a goer…”
“They’re there to support the Iraqi insurgents to fight their own peop… well, actually – that’s never really been a viable strategy…”
“Wait! They’re there to make the region safer for the simple innocent Iraqi citiz… just a sec – they’re dying in droves too…”
We sort of crumbled to a halt.
“We don’t know why they’re still fighting honey,” said my friend to her son. “They’re just there. The President says it’s a good thing, but everyone is unhappy and people keep dying. It’s a terrible tragedy.”
“Can’t they just all go home?” He asked, still concentrating on the puppy’s spots. “Can’t they leave those people alone? Isn’t it their place?”
“I don’t know,” we said in unison. (Both of us relieved to be onto something we could say for sure.)
“That’s stupid,” the kid said. Then he went to get sharper crayons.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Man and Bizarro-Superman

Of all the superhero characters ever created for the comics, Bizarro Superman used to be my favourite.
There was something about enjoying the dilemmas the DC Comics writers and illustrators must have grappled with as they imagined the myriad qualities and characteristics Bizarro Superman would have to possess in order to be the exact opposite of Superman himself.
First of all, where Superman has superhuman intelligence (he’s always doing the math – you have to when you have to apply the laws of thermodynamics, speed, resistance, time, space and figure out what women - i.e. Lois - really want) while Bizarro Superman (with a backward 'S' adorning his super-pecs) is stupid. (“Go fly kite Superman! This am job for Bizarro – only me can save Lois Lane!”) Bizarro is also boastful where the Man of Steel is humble, rude where his counterpart is gracious, greedy where the MOS is generous and so on and so forth.
And the differences extend to an entire species, a whole cube-shaped planet (Bizarro World) where the furniture is wobbly and poorly made, the men and women crudely realized pale blue versions of normal humans, and to a man – or woman - dishonest, mean and venal. The laws of nature are wonky and off-centre, and to top it all off, Kryptonite is blue.
Yes it’s all fun and games until comic scenarios turn startlingly real, then its tears before bedtime for all of us, as we slip into Rip Van Winkle mode for ‘FOUR MORE YEARS!’
It’s Bizarro America as far as I can see; a country and a people half of whom (the Republican half) have come to embrace values and beliefs and opinions the polar opposite of those they once purportedly held dear.
Interestingly, it was a comic book character in human form who presented the most honest face of the Republican party in his speech to the convention last week – Ahnold who admitted his attraction to all things Republican began after seeing Richard Nixon on television (‘I asked my friend “what party does that man represent” and he said “the Republican party” and I said “then I am REPUBLYCAHN!”’) and continued to share his growing love for America and American values by relating how he and his fellow Austrians lived in fear that the Secret Police would snatch one of them off the street, spiriting them away to some Communist Fortress, never to be heard from again. Such things, the Terminator stated, could never happen in Amerycah! (American borders, Guantanomo Bay, Abu Grhaib, any international airport in the world, and the Patriot Act notwithstanding…) He told conventioneers (to happy hoots and huzzahs) that if they believed that it was the United States and not the United Nations that was the best hope for democracy in the world, then they too were Republycahns.
He told them a lot of other things too, and Bizarro America took it all in and screamed with mindless Bizarro approval; the regaling and not the reviling of the dishonesty and venality of Richard Nixon, the loss of freedom and the degradation of human rights both in the United States and in foreign prisons, and the slap to the face of the rest of the world in admitting the contempt the UN is held in by the US, overridden by the bloody lust for another four years of hate and lies and half truths.
Where was the America of freedom and human rights and equality and love of fellow man? Where was the desire for peace and understanding in the world? Where was the respect for the courage of whistleblowers who risked it all and came back to tell their fellow countrymen about a wicked war and the senseless loss of human life?
It's Bizarro America. Opposite world – where the lessons from the Vietnam War have been re-written or re-imagined or just plain flushed away for the purposes of defeating a rival. In fact the madness and irony or re-writing and re-fighting the Vietnam War when there’s a perfectly good bloodbath going on right now just a few thousand miles away has been completely lost on Bizarro America. The fact that cowards and cheaters and those with the power and dough to get deferments have the dirty courage to call a man who volunteered for service and risked his life for their country unfit to lead a war against terror, and have effectively gotten away with their disgraceful accusations is perhaps the sickest and saddest Bizarro irony.
There was a time when America found refuge in honesty – in admitting mistakes and pledging to do better; in understanding that evil could and does flourish everywhere – not just everywhere outside the land of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.
But in Bizarro America, you never admit mistakes; you consider honesty a weakness, sensitivity a failing, and the courage to hold two different thoughts at once – the need to protect against terrorism and the need to discover just what is at the source of all that hatred – unpatriotic. And you never, ever, EVER say you’re sorry.
In the DC Comics classic I have (a plastic-preserved gift from a true Bizarro) Superman triumphs over his Bizarro enemy by remembering right from the start that his wicked criminal threats would never become true, because his archrival always got it wrong – the outcome would be the complete reverse of whatever it was he predicted. If you follow the polls, right now, Bizarro America seems to be indicating George Bush is their choice for Bizarro President. One can only hope that Bizarro rules prevail and the opposite is true.
Either that or John Kerry has a super-stash of Bizarro blue Kryptonite somewhere handy.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


It’s RSVP time for the DNP who seem to be AWOL from the action at the RNC in NYC – and they better smarten up before the GOP sends them packing… PDQ.
Having dipped in and out of the television coverage of the convention over the past three days (every time I sat down with the intention to watch, I was assaulted with speeches on Richard Nixon’s god-like power to inspire Republicanism, or visions of the Bush twins doing their updated ‘Sisters’ act – without the feathers, sadly -or of Dick Cheney, sneering that sneer that literally makes my gorge rise; I had to turn it off I tells ya!) I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m living in a dream world. A world where I have heretofore calmly and casually believed/accepted that good will out, and really (come on!) common sense must prevail.
The fact that Al Gore lost the last election was a nasty pinch, but explicable for a variety of reasons: Clinton exhaustion, the American habit of adoring that old time, plain spoken, charismatic religion-type leadership VS the worthy plodder sort, possible cheating and fixing in Florida (shocking, but not unheard of in the gangsterish dealings of party insiders) or a ‘maybe that’s just the way the cookie crumbled this time’ reality check. Hey, it happens – the constituency will correct itself.
And then – oh then, fellow marginalized readers – the Bush presidency itself should have easily and peasily done the trick. Following the first two years, which were a gimme – caught up as they were in 9/11, the aftermath, and then the war – the reality began to slowly, but surely catch up with the myth, belaying speed and causing setbacks, before chugging dispiritedly into a tunnel called The 9/11 Commission, which we should have come out of sadder and wiser, but Republican free of for at least the next four years.
So what happened in that tunnel? When I saw the loco-motive disappear, it was dragging the commission findings, the growing Abu Grhaib prisoner abuse scandal, the scathing Moore film, not to mention the crummy economy - a juddering caboose nearly pulling the train right off the tracks - the steady trickle of terrible truths surrounding the President’s top team and his own inarticulate impenetrable excuses over WMDs and mumbled connections between Saddam and al Qaeda that seemed to all but derail his leadership and silence any doubts that the man was concealing his intellectual light under some far off Texas tumbleweed.
Can we be blamed for thinking there was a light at the end of the tunnel? Sure, it was clear the Democrats had fielded a pretty feeble Presidential candidate, operating in a charisma-free zone, but it was also clear he was smart, able and at least adequate. And with the addition of snap on partner John Edwards, the future looked a little brighter – adding strength to strength… coupling age and experience with youth and passion. A human version of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe.
Well, like the old saw goes, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but it was a Republican freight train, bearing down and emerging into the daylight stronger, more concentrated and with a momentum that now looks unstoppable.