Saturday, September 30, 2006

Luck of the Draw

I once wrote a joke about Newt Gingrich that unleashed quite a follow-up from my fellow freelance comedy writers. Newt's half-sister is a lesbian and she went to Washington, D.C. and appeared at events, speaking out on various lesbian causes. I wrote that she talked about the terrible shame her family first went through when they realized one of them was a politician. See, it's the last second left turn. You thought I was going to say something else, right? Instead of talking about her, I turned it back on Newt. That's comedy, baby. It was also a fairly elegant joke. I mean I could write a little essay on the joke's social worth making the audience realize they sort of assumed being a lesbian was something to be ashamed of, blah, blah, blah, and then asking them why they felt that way? That is one of the highest forms of comedy when you make an audience confront something that is true in society by drawing it out of them in real time.

So it was a pretty good joke, plus it was the first one on this particular subject to be televised. Then the fun started when everyone else jumped in. For the rest of the week I got to sit back and listen to my colleagues amplify on the topic. I loved that part of it. Of course, we went from fairly elegant to crude in no time. By week's end Newt was mad at his half-sister because she got more chicks than he did in high school - that sort of thing. I was in the clear - I had written a socially redeeming joke about lesbians, and it had unleashed a torrent of abuse on Newt Gingrich. It doesn't get much better.

The reason I thought of this tonight is I was just upstairs, listening to the radio, and that old Sonny and Cher song, "I Got You Babe" came on. Sure, it's lightweight but there is an undeniable charm in that tune, as well as one cool song-writing feature: The bars in the verses are grouped 6 at a time, which is unusual. Anyway, I thought about how weird it is that some people come through life and leave a cute hit single and others are genetically programmed to be Newt Gingrich. Actually, Newt could have run a zoo - he's really into animals - but there is a certain percentage that are just natural born politicians. While that's nothing to be ashamed of, I suppose, it hit me how lucky I am. Anyone of us could have been born Jeffrey Dahmer. Imagine when you first started realizing you had this secret about yourself. I bet some serial killers go through profound depression when they first start getting these fantasies. I'm sure some fight them before finally giving in. While it is impossible to feel sorry for a serial killer, I do have sympathy for a little innocent kid, who is just beginning to realize he has these horrible urges. What an unfortunate way to be born.

Of course, that is an extreme case, but there is also a small percentage of people who are politicians from the moment of conception. I like the way Sonny Bono did it. He was mainly a singer and song writer - for example he wrote "Needles and Pins", which has quite a sophisticated bridge and modulation in it. Then late in life he became a Republican Congressman, who drew massive praise from Newt Gingrich for his ability to get the House to laugh and then cooperate.

So where is this going? And I know you're not on needles and pins waiting to find out. Okay. Tonight I sense the horrible war in Iraq. I also know there are rooms where detainees are probably being tortured by Americans as we speak. I think horrible thoughts about the way things have gone. I can't stand what these men have done - Cheney and Rumsfeld and George W. - and yet I still feel so fortunate. Anyone of us could have been born like that. What will they leave behind to mark their passage through the world? A cute single like "I Got You Babe" or more violent deaths than any serial killer in history? Meanwhile, I get to write jokes that just come and go. With all this violence, I get - through nothing I deserved - to be a national comedy writer. I could just as easily have been born Newt Gingrich. Or even Jeffrey Dahmer. Yikes.

It's so easy wishing you were better in some area. Sure, things would have been much improved if I was more comfortable in social situations. Or this or that. But tonight, despite all the wars outside my window, I'm at peace. The world has grown more horrible but there is calm joy in my soul. Sure, I'm sad about Bush and Cheney and Newt Gingrich, but I'm just so grateful I wasn't born a right-wing politician. What a personal tragedy that must be. When I think of this administration I feel so sorry for who these people are, and how lucky I am not to be one of them.

Friday, September 29, 2006

To Everything There Is A Season

Maybe it's time to forget about our Iraq policy for a couple of seconds....

....and say goodbye to the Summer of 2006.....

....and hello to the Fall.

Take 1: Dropping a Song on the Internet

As with most technical things, I freeze up for months and then I'm amazed later at how easy it is. I wanted to jump into Internet videos so here is the first test from this afternoon. I recorded it with the little PA from the Born to Slack show so it sounds like the bottom of an oil tanker, but baby steps are often painful. The words are printed below and the song is called "I Can't Stand the Bush Administration".
Wow, it's now possible to write a song, record it, and put it out there within the same day. That's too much. Now if only it didn't suck, this would be awesome.
I Can't Stand the Bush Administration, Take 1 - Google Video

Thursday, September 28, 2006

New Wonder Law! War Crimes Gone with the Stroke of a Pen!

Tremendous news about our beloved leaders: They're not going to be war criminals anymore! Glory to the Empire! All Praise to the Executive Branch. Did I say Executive Branch? I must turn myself in to Homeland Security for a fine-tuning. There is only one branch. Wait, it's not even a branch - it's the entire tree. Sorry to slip up. I'll report this afternoon for some corrective punishment.

What is this? Okay, it turns out that a bunch of stuff Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld did in the last few years was illegal. That's according to the terrorist appeasers in the Supreme Court and the nitwits in Congress who wrote our "laws." Fortunately, our beloved leaders have a way to go back in time and fix those laws. It's like when Superman flies around the earth backwards to fix something in the past.

The new bill on handling torture is going to be retroactive. I'm going to give you a moment to guess just what date is involved. You're right: the most overexploited date in the history of the world - September 11th.

From now on the war crimes stuff the Bush administration did back then, is no longer a crime. The Republican Congress is cranking out the bill right now. Of course, President Bush said he was worried about how the "laws" would have affected his CIA personnel, but he's such a kidder. He couldn't care less about them. What this was mainly about was covering the Presidential bottom. Then they'll sell it you as a huge win against the terrorists. You've got to love it, don't you?

I just feel so wonderful about this. The idea of torture was so ugly, but now that it's legal, who am I to object? In fact, why stop here? O.J. Simpson was involved in some pretty ugly things too. Just in case he isn't 100% innocent, how about a special law that says famous broadcasters who've won the Heisman Trophy can slash their ex-wives throats and stab waiters? We can make it retroactive to the night Ron and Nicole died. That way we could feel wonderful about O.J. again, too.

Oh, forget OJ. This is bigger than a couple of murders. Lots of people died here. This is about the prestige and values of the United States. So let the word go forth: The President is no longer a War Criminal. Torture is okay as long as it involves consenting adults, and - hey - we can make detainees consent to anything. I love laws and stuff, but I really love our leaders. Long live the Empire! Isn't this great?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Protest Song to Debut Soon

I'm doing a new song coming soon to a cable access show near you. The words are done. The music is done. I've rehearsed it the last couple of days and recorded some primitive versions. What do you think of the lyrics? Too subtle?

I Can’t Stand the Bush Administration-by Bill McDonald

Preemptive wars and torturing detainees

Condi and Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney

I hate what these losers have done to our nation

That’s why I can’t stand the Bush Administration.

Ignoring laws and ruling by decree

a reckless assault on our liberty

spreading their lies with deceitful manipulation

That’s why I can’t stand the Bush administration

How are we going to turn this around
Before these morons take America down?

Now, here we go into a new surprise

How long before the country gets wise?

When these phonies go we should throw a big celebration

If we just make it through the Bush administration

If we just make it through the Bush administration

I really can’t stand the Bush administration.

The Pancake Theory

It's sort of startling really. I was watching a 9/11 video and they played a computer animation from a PBS special where an MIT professor is explaining how the World Trade Center pancaked down in just over free-fall speed. There are many problems with this theory, but the most obvious one is what happened to the 47 massive steel girders that formed the core of each tower. How did they pancake so easily as this dust cloud of debris proceeds. You know - the same dust cloud that was mysteriously ejecting tons of steel beams 100s of feet away from the buildings. How did the MIT guy handle that on his fancy computer animation?

Simple. He just shows the floors pancaking down but the solid core remains in place as the floors fall around it. There was literally no way to draw the core pancaking that would look like it made sense, so they just drew a different version. The only problem is we all saw that as the building dropped, the core columns were gone. So it was too obvious a problem even for a computer animation of the official version of the story. Get it yet?

The Neo-Con Plot to Rule the World

It's 6:30 a.m. and I feel like giving you my view of the big picture. It's how I would answer an essay question: What is really going on right now in America? Okay, here goes:

I think it comes down to whether democracy can survive television. The power of television probably emerged during the Nixon-Kennedy debate, but it's turned into the determining factor in controlling the opinion of the American voter. In other words, you can sell anything to the People if you just have enough airtime. Perhaps like a deadly virus, the potency will lesson as the decades move along, but what is probably going to happen is an even more controlling form of technology that molds public thought in ways I shudder to think about.

In the latter part of the last century a movement emerged called Neo-Conservatism, with an agenda to rule the world. The fall of the Soviet Union gave the opportunity. A nice-sounding mission of spreading freedom and democracy was crafted as a cover story for what this really was: A group of people who wanted to seize power, and then use the might of the United States to crush other countries, in the interests of oil, Israel, and even more control. Throughout history men have come forward intoxicated by the urge to rule the world. A confluence of events gave the Neo-Cons their shot. All they still needed was the White House, and the American Public behind them.

So they needed a candidate. Out from the ranks of one of America's leading political families there stumbled a young George W. Bush. He had the one trait that mattered - he could be the face on television. It didn't matter that he was a drugged-out, partying frat boy, with a homosexual past, and little intellectual capability. He could be sold on television as a Compassionate Conservative - a deeply religious, monogamous Christian. Once in place he would work for the mega-rich in this country while playing a down-home cowboy clearing brush at his ranch. His volatile temper would be controlled with drugs, and his weak mind would be marketed as plain-spoken. He looked good on television and that was all that mattered. They could feed him his lines and in fact did it electronically sometimes right while he was speaking.

The TV face had been selected and now it was just a matter of getting one of the Neo-Con ringleaders into power. Dick Cheney was the top dog - the most vicious, driven member of the group - the most power-crazed chicken hawk of all time. Selected to find a VP, he wormed himself into the job. As January of 2001 approached, all was in place except for the one last part of the plan: A new Pearl Harbor to get the American Public behind the Neo-Cons. Without it they were just another administration. With it they would have the momentum for preemptive strikes, and seizing domestic liberties. They would be able to crush internal dissent, and torture anyone they wished. The moment this event happened, in their minds, they would basically run the world.

Careful plans were drawn up that led to 9/11. Dick Cheney was put in charge of NORAD several months prior, so he could run the war games that would disguise the plot, and disable the air defenses of the United States. To avoid detection outside operatives from Moussad, the Israeli CIA, would be used. I believe the terrorists' plan with the planes was discovered and then allowed to succeed. It worked almost perfectly. Sure, some Israeli agents were arrested as they watched the World Trade Center burn, and danced in celebration. They would say later that they had been sent to document the event, but interestingly their van tested positive for bomb making materials. That was probably the closest call from the day. Actual Middle Easterners were arrested in what had to be foreknowledge, but they weren't Arabs. It was so blatant that they were held for a few months before being allowed to leave by the Neo-Cons. The United States government let them go because they were partners in crime.

The aftermath of the plan was a huge success. The Patriot Act - already written before hand - sailed through Congress. The President's numbers soared. America was ready to get behind anything the Neo-Cons wanted. It was perfect, and led directly to another plan drawn up way before: the War in Iraq. Although this had nothing to do with 9/11, that was not a problem. It was sold as a response to 9/11 on television. Speech after speech took place, appearance after appearance, until a huge number of Americans believed something that was not true. They believed Saddam was behind the attack. Why? Simple. Their leaders on television had insinuated and flat-out stated that he was. Over and over again. The Neo-Cons had accomplished exactly what they wanted - the ability to unleash the United States military on anyone they chose.

It's been 5 years since the plot, and 1 out of 3 Americans is on to it. How? Wasn't television successful in keeping this thing going? What about the great power of television to control minds?

Thankfully, a new medium of communication has sprung up. It is called the Internet. The government is sprinting to try and control it but right now, the American Public is actually free to communicate on it. That is a very powerful thing. The evidence for 9/11 is on it and that is a huge problem for Cheney and his team. They are in a race against the truth to retain their hold on power.

In less than 6 weeks an election takes place that could determine their fate. Nothing will be left in the playbook. There will be an October Surprise. There will be massive electronic voting fraud. There will be all manner of criminal behavior. Candidates could even die. Their little campaign planes could drop from the sky. Anything is possible when criminals face getting caught.

The main tool to retain power will be - once again - television. A massive ad campaign will be run from now till election day, designed to mold the Public for one last push. It is the biggest tool the government has, and you will be seeing a lot of it. Standing in opposition will be the new technology - the Internet. The Internet has already caused a lot of trouble for the rulers of America. Locally individuals have raised hell about how city councils are run. Nationally, the Internet has threatened to expose 9/11 for the Neo-Con crime that it really was. These are dangerous times. Be careful.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Explain This Picture From the World Trade Center

One mystery at the World Trade Center debris field was the incredible pools of molten metal - the molten metal that supposedly came from burning aviation fuel and the resulting fires on the top of the towers. A more logical explanation is that the molten metal came from thermite charges used to cut the beams. Look at this angled cut on the beam above the fireman. Notice the molten metal dripping down from the angled cut, just like after thermite is used. Was this done later? Check out the link for more.
Thermite and the WTC Collapses

Newsweek - Fluff for Us, Bad News for Them

As noted elsewhere on the Internet, the MSNBC website has a display of current Newsweek covers as they vary around the world. For example Latin America, Asia, and Europe all got the cover with "Losing Afghanistan". Here in America we got the feel-good story of a famous photographer. It makes perfect sense. No need for the corporate media to rile up the voters with some hard news - especially when their government masters are facing an election in a few weeks.

Are You Ready For Some Healing?

Last night's telecast of the first New Orleans Saints' game back in the Superdome was emotional television that lived up to the occasion. The first third of the telecast was an absolute tear-jerker, especially the Monday Night Countdown pre-game show. Now I could see someone complain that they should have used only New Orleans musicians but Green Day and U2 are some pretty huge acts to throw at the situation. It worked, and the careful balance between a joyous football game and the reality of how much is still screwed up, was perfect. Tony Kornheiser's opening remarks were so strong that even Howard Cosell would have been knocked out. Tony captured what this was about beautifully, and delivered it amazingly well.

The broadcast didn't overwhelm the viewer with the political stuff, but it was there. Spike Lee said it in the booth by saying he didn't want to pull a Kayne West and criticize the government's incredibly incompetent response, but somehow he got his point across. There were so many parts of the story, but that part had to be addressed, and it was. I mean this was the Superdome - the actual refugee site where people waited 5 days for our President to quit clearing brush and figure this out. The first President Bush did the coin flip and it was appropriate that it went against New Orleans.

The game itself was surreal. I don't know if the Saints are that good, but they dominated. The first inkling that a storybook result might not be attained, came when a Saints player let a Michael Vick fumble bounce off his hands and go out of bounds. I thought, "Here we go." Sometimes sports doesn't respond to emotional needs. For example, after 9/11, New York really needed the Yankees to win, and though they did some spectacular things at home, they went out to Arizona and lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Diamondbacks, who apparently hadn't gotten the storybook memo.

Last night, a couple of plays after the lost fumble opportunity, the Saints blocked a punt for a touchdown. The rest of the first half was awesome - almost as if it were scripted as the announcers kept saying - but by the 3rd quarter the telecast started slipping, simply because the Falcons couldn't make it close. In the end it was a pretty one-sided game. There was also a great opportunity for Reggie Bush to do something spectacular but that never quite happened. All in all, though it was a spectacular telecast and football fans everywhere should be very, very proud.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Portland Freelancer In Time Magazine?

Okay, it's not a mention of this blog, but if I'm the Portland Freelancer, and I sold a certain joke to a certain late-night talk show host, and that joke is in today's issue of Time Magazine, then the Portland Freelancer is in Time Magazine. At least I bought a copy for my "archives." For more on the actual joke see the post with the Saddam graphic below.

Ahh, Time Magazine. It's a proud moment knowing I'm in dentist waiting rooms all over America this morning. Isn't that the only place you still read these magazines? Of course, there's a lot of prestige to Time but everything is online for me now, except for buying the print version of the Oregonian. (Peter Bhatia - no charge for the plug.)

In fact, I was in a coffee shop reading a free print version of the New York Times this weekend when I found myself thinking, "That's a good story. I think I'll read that one when I get back to the computer." So the printed version was operating as a menu for later. You tell me things haven't changed. I mean newspapers are so dark looking and you can't even adjust the print size if your eyes are getting older. In fact this Time Magazine issue that I bought for nearly 4 bucks has an instruction at the bottom of the Punchline Page to help you get to more political humor on the Time website. See? Print as a menu. It's sort of sad really. Newspapers and magazines are struggling to figure out how to get a new income stream. I pay for the New York Times online, but everything else is free. It's quicker than the old news cycle. In fact, you can get the New York Times columns online sooner than you can get them delivered to your door in New York. That's significant.

Take the local media. The Portland Tribune had the brilliant foresight to pluck an unknown writer from the masses, and give him a column. Then later when that writer wrote two amazing columns prior to the War in Iraq, basically warning about what was going to happen, the Portland Tribune had the unbelievable lack of smarts to fire said writer. Now I sit back and listen to Frank Rich and others bemoan how horribly the media did prior to the war. He even said it was like they were all on drugs. Meanwhile, the Portland Tribune can hold its head up high knowing that unlike the New York Times and virtually every other newspaper in America, it was not duped. Or more precisely - I was not duped. It's the same skills that landed my Iraq joke in Time Magazine this morning.

As newspapers flounder and play it safe, the real action in journalism is on the computer. I mention Peter Bhatia because he was the one at the Oregonian who I used to apply to for a job. He was always gracious about it, and showed a lot of class. Here's some free advice, Peter: Newspapers are going to have to get more lively if they're going to survive. They need to get a little less staid and boring. The best thing the Oregonian could do right now is hire me. Of course, I may be too big after this morning. That's it - I've been selling myself short! I've been trying to get a job in local media and I should have been applying to Time Magazine!.......... Okay relax, the Portland Freelancer doesn't mean it. The Portland Freelancer is only kidding.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Iraq Made Terror Worse? You Mean You Didn't Know That?

It's so quaint really - hearing these cries of protest now that a new secret report from our intelligence community blames Iraq for worsening the War on Terror. First of all, thank goodness for leaked reports that were never supposed to be seen by the public. If we had to rely on this administration to tell us what was really going on, then we would be lost. Check that. We would be left to figure things out for ourselves, which is what we've had to do anyway.

The new terror report is similar to the one claiming we're losing in Anbar Province. That was another analysis the American Public was not meant to hear about. In both cases, the White House was quick to counter with a big dollop of spin. In the case of the Anbar report a general immediately came out and said, "Although I completely agree with the secret report, I do not agree with it at all. Yes, Anbar is lost but I want to stress one point: We are winning in Anbar. And though the War in Iraq is going very, very badly, I also want to stress that the War in Iraq is going great. Everybody got that?"

My question is for the critics. You actually protest and say "gotcha" when a report finds Iraq hurting the War on Terror, and making it worse? Where do you get the naivete? Even buying into the idea that Iraq was part of the War on Terror is ridiculous - at least in the beginning. Oh, there's plenty of terrorists now - more created there and throughout the world every day - but you bought the Bush line that we had to go to Iraq because it was vital in fighting terrorism? That's so sweet. Tell me. I've got to know. Do you also believe in Santa Claus?

Okay, I think I understand: You see the War on Terror as a part of the bigger War on Christmas. Maybe not. Still, let me give you a check list that will save you a ton of aggravation in the future. We've got more than two more years with these clowns. We haven't even made it through the October Surprise. So print out a copy of this if you want, and refer to it later. And then go ahead and protest whenever any little bit of truth slips out of the spin fortress called the White House. But don't get all freaked out about it. Why? Because it's counterproductive letting them think you bought it in the first place. Heck, it's even a little embarrassing. Okay, here's the list:

1. Winning the War on Terror is not about winning the War on Terror.
2. The need to go into Iran is not about the need to go into Iran.
3. Spreading democracy in the world is not about spreading democracy in the world.
4. Making America safer is not about making America safer.
5. America wanting Peace in the World is not about America wanting Peace in the World.

Those are just a few off the top of my head. Getting all stressed out because it turns out the administration's claims on this or that aren't true, just shows you haven't been paying attention. Hey, you'll just wear yourself down too soon. If you want to freak out, wait till they steal the November elections. That's when we should freak out.

The Sunday Oregonian: Jokes and the Global Bounce

One of the fun parts about writing jokes is watching them bounce around afterwards. I'm up watching the Ryder Cup at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning in the Fall of 2006, and this will no doubt lead to some jokes tomorrow, especially if something crazy happens. Unfortunately, at this point, a U.S. victory seems like a crazy notion. You know what? If I were the U.S. Ryder Cup captain I'd ditch the teamwork stuff, the meetings and sing-alongs, and all that us-against-them jive. I'd set up a structure where the U.S. players are staying at separate hotels just like on the tour. Then pit them against each other and offer a huge endorsement deal to the U.S. player who does best. It might be a generational thing, but our golfers are psychologically better at being individuals. It feels all wrong to think of them as teammates. Just a theory.

I have had golf jokes that were broadcast and then bounced around for a while. When Greg Norman blew a major and was hugged by Nick Faldo, I wrote that he didn't need a hug - he needed the Heimlich maneuver. That was repeated by a guest the next day on the Imus in the Morning Show.

Usually the bounce lasts a week, often printed in newspapers like the Oregonian on that Sunday. Some even end up in a low-level orbit in lists of the Political Jokes of the Year and the like. This is all good. Every now and then a joke I've written will become sort of a standard, reappearing in a slightly altered form again and again. This is true of the joke about total eclipses where Dick Cheney says, "See, I told you we couldn't rely on solar energy." That's shown up several different times, not coincidentally right after an eclipse.

I've even written a special Christmas joke that I've actively tried to make into a Holiday Classic. You know - my version of "It's a Wonderful Life":
You've got to hand it to Santa Claus. How many guys can tell their wives, "I'm going out all night and I'm not coming home till I've emptied my sack"? Perhaps you can share that one when your families gather this year.

By now you might be wondering if it will be Christmas before I get to my point. Okay, here it is. In the Sunday Oregonian's Opinion section on this September 24th, one of my jokes shows up again. I've scanned it above. That Senate Report was in the papers back on September 8th. I sent my joke in that same day. I did have one on that night ("Donald Rumsfeld’s shoulder surgery was a success, and he should start patting himself on the back again by tomorrow.") but it wasn't till the following week that the joke in question went on. I'd give you an exact date, but let's just say it was before the 15th. Then it bounced around the newspaper services and returns back to Portland, all these weeks later, apparently after a stop at Time Magazine.

The jokes are broadcast originally in over 70 countries. Then they show up in newspapers around the world. I've seen them on the Reuters international website - especially during a presidential campaign. So they leave my humble basement office and return like a salmon to spawn and die in the Sunday Oregonian. Usually it takes around a week. This joke is still going upriver 16 days after I wrote it. So as jokes go, this is a strong salmon. Who knows? It may even last as one of the definitive jokes on the Iraq War.

Darn. Colin Montgomery just won his match. While he'll choke as an individual, he's a great Ryder Cup member. Besides, he has the best man breasts this side of Bill Purcells. Sorry about that. I just get tired of watching these Europeans acting gracious in victory. Oh well, it could have been worse. It could have been the U.S. Men's basketball team losing to Greece.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Step Right Up, Ladies and Gentlemen! It's the October Surprise!

I had a wild fantasy yesterday - so intriguing that for about an hour I actually believed I was onto something. It would be a brilliant move as far as the current administration is concerned - an administration that is rightfully worried about its past war crimes should Congress go to the Democrats. This fantasy would be a Karl Rove masterstroke in some ways, and take the biggest issue of the elections - Iraq - off the table. You'd have President Bush appear on television in a Jimmy Swaggert moment and say Iraq was a bad mistake, and please forgive him: "We're pulling out and with the help of Congress, we can achieve this rapidly." Iraq is neutralized as an issue, and Congress stays Republican. Once more Karl Rove makes a brilliant move that really does surprise everyone.

See, one thing I got from reading excerpts of Bob Woodward's fawning books on the President, is that this whole resolve thing is the simple result of a marketing decision. Rove knew that being decisive sells better than flip-flopping. Ask John Kerry about that. And don't try to say Kerry didn't flip-flop. I have personal experience with that campaign and they couldn't decide on making a decision without deciding not to at the same time.

The Bush administration committed to being decisive because it plays better. To understand this group, you have to work backwards from the desired effect. They only arrive at a policy as an afterthought to how it will spin. President Bush doesn't really care about spreading democracy in the world. He has dealt a potentially fatal blow to the election process right here in America. Democracy? President Bush would prefer that this was a dictatorship. In fact, in his mind, it is.

So what's changed? Time is running out. That's part of the Constitution that I don't believe even President Bush will ignore. He might, but I'm counting on him being out of power in January, 2009. So this November is his last meaningful election. That means the resolve thing isn't as important as it used to be. The Bush administration just wants to hold Congress. That's the endgame right now. Sure, they might try to clear up some of their messes before leaving to help the presidency stay Republican - after all President Bush might need a pardon down the road. But it's all about holding Congress, and that means eliminating their biggest problem issue: Iraq.

Of course, my hour of hopeful fantasy came and went and I returned to darker visions of what awaits us next month. Wishful thinking is a poor choice when everything that's happened with President Bush has been worse than anticipated. I thought he would merely be the worst President in American History, but it turns out I was just being optimistic. My analysis assumed that the United States would go on basically the same as before. I now see President Bush as a person well on the way to ending America - at least the America of my youth.

So why should this ruthless torturer change his ways now? The October Surprise will probably be something hideous with lots of people dying. The odds are that these people will be in Iran. It will be another preemptive strike by a man who believes he rules the world. I hope I am wrong. I hope my whimsical dream from yesterday is correct. Maybe they'll get right up to the edge of deciding on attacking Iran and realize that it would do more harm than good. What am I saying? If the bounce from another war gets the public frightened enough to vote Republican, than that will be good enough for Rove and company. None of the consequences matter, remember? It's all about how it will spin.

Sure, they'll have a bulletproof rationale worked up - they already do. They won't need a focus group to figure this out. Karl Rove is his own focus group. So get ready. Rove has been telling Republican leaders that there will be an October Surprise. It's historic really. This could be the last big disaster of the Bush Years. From now on we'll just be dealing with the disastrous repercussions. The key problem with my wild fantasy of yesterday, is that I thought it would be a brilliant move. This administration doesn't deal in brilliant moves.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Fine Art of the Penis Joke

I remember it like it was yesterday. Okay, it was yesterday, or more like last night as my big-time, late-night TV client was wrapping up his monologue. The last joke didn't go over, and he even told the crowd he had planned to end with that. Since it hadn't done well, he would try another. That's when he brought out one of my jokes and surprisingly, the place went crazy. I spend most of my time writing political humor - humor that often gets medium laughter because of its more serious topics, and it's mostly placed towards the front end of the monologue. So what did I write that was used as the big finish, receiving what was certainly in the top 50 reactions to any of my one-liners ever? Simple - a penis joke.
This is where Austin Powers would do a few silly plays on words: "I hope you don't get big-headed about it. The joke started out limp but it did rise to the occasion. Get it, Vanessa? Rise to the occasion." "Austin, you're incorrigible." "Oh behave, baby."

One of the best penis jokes ever was unintentional: Dan Quayle - another Republican intellectual giant - actually wrote a book called "Standing Firm". Wow, didn't anybody say, "Er, Dan, your title sounds like a porno movie." What an idiot. God, I miss him.

The reason I stick to the main news stories of the day is partly because you know what those are. Once you drift into the celebrity stuff, you can still sort of tell. For example, Willie Nelson reinvented the Mile High Club this week. Hmm, I might send that one in. See how they just fall out, people? I'm not in this because it's hard work. But speaking of hard, let's get back to the penis joke:

The final tier of late-night comedy is the wacky news: Ordinary people acting crazy. Unfortunately, with 6.5 billion people, there is so much of it, picking what topic is in play, is nearly impossible. That is unless it belongs in a special category: Wacky News Gold. When a Chinese man gets the first penis transplant - as happened this week - you are going to hear about it on the late-night talk shows. Trust me. There is only one higher level of wacky news - call it Wacky News Platinum - in which the crazy behavior also happens to involve a celebrity. Years ago, when a giant lizard bit Sharon Stone's husband on the foot, that was Wacky News Platinum. The offending beast was a Komodo Dragon so you had an A-list movie star and an A-list lizard.

I've even predicted a population level in which there will be so many celebrities that wacky news access will no longer be available unless you're famous. How much craziness is there in the world right now? There is now a wacky sex story every 3 weeks out of China in which the guy is actually named Wang. That's the numbers we're facing, people. This penis transplant story mentions no names, and maybe that's why.

The thing about the man involved here is that the penis was removed again a couple of weeks later, and the paper said it was for psychological reasons. I've heard transplant recipients get images of the other person's life. Were you aware of that? Someone I know got a kidney transplant and the doctors warned him that could happen. Isn't that a trip? But anyway, the Chinese guy's penis is now back off and my joke was, "That's going to make for a tough life. I mean without a penis, how's a man supposed to think?"

There are several reasons why that joke got a big laugh. First the talk show host had primed the crowd that this was the big climax, so to speak, and second it seemed like he was going to say something more crude and sexual, so it was the sudden last-second turn. Third, it's stereotypical and hurtful about men, which is completely allowed and, frankly, deserved. Let's be clear though: We men think with our minds. It's just that every now and then our penises override the decisions.

So it's back to work. Another day of political humor - humor about the great news stories of the week. I must disregard this lowbrow stuff - this easy way out - and write some comedy that would make my parents proud. It's too bad really, but I shouldn't complain. I did get to write during the Clinton administration. That's when you could write about the biggest political news stories of the day and it was still a penis joke.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Dick Cavett Anecdote

The Dick Cavett Show - Interviewing Janis Joplin

This is a rare Portland Freelancer TV recommendation: The TCM channel is showing 9 Dick Cavett interviews without commercials and they last over an hour. Tonight was Robert Mitchum and it was great television. The guy drank scotch throughout and talked of long ago times when he was on a prison chain gang. After the interview they show one of each guest's classic movies. The next time it airs will be Thursday with Alfred Hitchcock. This inspired me to roll out the Dick Cavett anecdote:

I was working as a banquet waiter and Dick Cavett was the speaker at an event. I was a huge fan of his old talk show, because he had incredible guests, and was so intelligent. He could be witty and dry to a fault but every now and then you got to see him come up with comedy on the spot that was flat-out brilliant. He was a joke writer originally and though I wasn't even aware that I'd be one, I was drawn to that field. Dick Cavett was so bright and well-respected that guests would really bring their A game just to deal with him. Comedians like Woody Allen, Groucho, and Mel Brooks - all upcoming on this TCM series. His original talk show was incredible times for late night TV. In fact, there was a stretch after I had graduated from high school early and had not yet received permission to go hitchhiking around America, when it was just me and my Mom on this farm in New England, and we watched Dick Cavett every night. But I digress.

So Dick Cavett was speaking at this banquet here in Portland and he didn't want to eat at the function - he just wanted to come down and do the speech, and that's it. It made sense in a show biz way, but as I knew from his book, he's also a reclusive type and sadly has some serious depression issues. Anyway, I was chosen to go up to his suite and bring him a banquet entree. He was a tiny person but he had that huge, distinctive voice. I told him how much my Mom and I loved his old show and he said, "Oh, you're the ones." I could see the entire comedian protocol - I was the audience and he was entertaining, but he was also kind and seemed genuine. I didn't sense any star trip at all and that's always nice. I went in the main part of the room and set everything up, and he began to discuss how much he hated going to these events, and dreaded them. He kept saying how he was grateful I had brought the dinner because he couldn't stand banquets, and didn't want anything to do with the one that night. This is the setup, folks. See, I also sensed that he wanted something funny to happen, just to burn off some kind of nervous energy he had. He did seem uncomfortable like he could use some kind of fun moment just for a laugh.
It's no mystery. Comedy is a way to keep things from getting awkward. It's partly an invention so shy people can be in social situations.

There was a large TV in the corner that had been quietly on with some show like COPS. Suddenly, it got really loud as these officers began arresting this man in a business suit. Cavett was still talking about banquets, and how much he didn't want to go down to this one, but he turned to the TV and said, "What's going on here?" I felt the comedy force so I just said, "Oh my God, that's the banquet manager", and ran out of the room. I could still hear him laughing as I went down the hall.

Epilogue: It had gone so well as a comedic moment, that I actually thought he might mention it in his speech. He didn't - for one thing he had a zillion anecdotes that were amazing, but that was the time I met Dick Cavett and made him laugh.

Which Came First? The Comment or the Post?

Last night I wrote a comment on Jack Bog's post regarding the Willamette Week cover story about the South Waterfront district. The tone of the article was vintage Portland: Yes, we've been misled on several fronts but it's all okay because everyone involved is a nice person. Everybody was completely transparent here, with the best of honorable intentions. However in life, surprises do crop up along the way. You can't blame anyone involved for that. There's never any villains in Portland - everyone's too vanilla. We could be living in a horror movie and the local media would still be writing about it like it was the feel-good hit of the year.

Anyway, the comment seemed unusually coherent to me this morning so I decided to copy it and link to the article below:

I think the weakest sentence in the article is about Homer Williams and the size of the buildings: "Then last year, realizing he'd surrendered too much, he persuaded the council to let him increase the footprint." Now, that could be 100% true. This man whose credentials had just been described - the towers in Los Angeles, the nose for opportunity - somehow could have gotten snookered by the Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill Neighborhood Association. Forgive me for being cynical, but it was reminiscent of the tram budget which was later called a guesstimate. That could have been true too, but sometimes developers and others submit numbers to get a project started, then return later with the real, revised numbers. Nigel could have written that Homer "claimed" that he only realized this later. Sure, it was a gigantic project for him, but maybe he only made a guesstimate about it the first time when he "surrendered too much". Maybe he was in a hurry, like one of the council's later excuses. But if Nigel had added the word "claimed" and it was, in fact, a deliberate strategy by a slick developer who knew the city council was on a string, well, then, the sentence would still be accurate. Instead, it reads like the developer's words are not to be questioned, which is way too trusting for a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Willamette Week Online | News | COVER STORY | MAGIC KINGDOM | Wednesday September 20th, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Went Wrong With Conservatism

One thing that's missing in the Republican campaign rhetoric this time around is conservatism as a platform. Oh sure, the chest-inflating anti-terror stuff is there, but even that seems phony. Could you imagine Barry Goldwater in his prime acting like President Bush did at the United Nations yesterday? Could you imagine the man who confronted President Nixon and told him to get out, ducking around the halls of the UN to keep from meeting the President of Iran? Goldwater would have been there when the Iranian leader's plane landed and started debating him right on the tarmac. Do you realize the election bonanza if President Bush had cornered the Iranian leader in some hallway and spoke his mind? You know it wouldn't have taken long.

The difference is that Goldwater was a true conservative, and a real man. Guys like Cheney and Bush love talking tough in the Rose Garden but they don't want to confront anything. Oh, Cheney will shoot at quail but he can't even pull that off. And President Bush is glad to talk manly about wanting the bad guys dead or alive, as long as he's sending your kid to die trying to do it. Just let him know how it went when he gets back from his bicycle ride.

The conservative movement has been hijacked by phonies. The idea of a smaller government that gets off your back? President Bush would be met with laughter if he tried to pull that one out. How about the tried and true talk of fiscal responsibility? After decades of complaining about Democrats spending in Congress this group has gone completely crazy. Corruption is rampant and spending is out of control. Special interests are in charge. Raytheon wanted a contract to defend against RPGs, along with several years to develop it - even though a system exists today that could be saving American soldiers as we speak. Guess what? This Republican Congress protected the interests of the corporation over our soldiers. Even as cynical as I've become, that one is still shocking. I wonder if they'll bring up how much they support the troops this time around?

Where Goldwater's ideas met their defeat was when the Republicans turned their party into a Christian fundamentalist organization. Instead of getting government out of our lives, they want to run the whole show. This party gets its power from the religious movement in this country. So you have a bunch of immoral phonies at the top hijacking America's future and using the power of religion for political control. This form of government has never worked all that well, and it's not working well now. The world is full of places like this. Theocracies are anti-freedom. In fact, one of the reasons America was founded was to get away from this kind of stifling religious power grab. Not only is that not getting government off our backs, it's trying to put government in charge of our souls. No wonder these people don't bring up real conservatism anymore.

Something for Everyone in Fossil

At first the latest details on the fossil of a young primitive-looking humanoid looks like bad news for the Creationists: "In my opinion, afarensis is a very good transitional species for what was before four million years ago and what came after three million years," Dr Alemseged told BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh. "[The species had] a mixture of ape-like and human-like features. This puts afarensis in a special position to play a pivotal role in the story of what we are and where we come from." But just when things looked bleak, along comes a detail sure to make the hearts of Creationists soar. The reason the find was so well preserved is that it must have been buried quickly in a.....wait for it.....flood. Rejoice homo sapiens. You are free to go on arguing: There's something for everyone here.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Lucy's baby' found in Ethiopia

Mistakes? I've Made a Few

NASA is very concerned about some debris around the Space Shuttle including one plastic bag. The current theory is that it's part of Willie Nelson's stash. Actually, this was nice. NASA is so concerned that Willie has offered to check out the space shuttle next time he's in orbit. And did you hear the new song he wrote after the police took his pot? "Red Eyes Crying in the Rain."
Okay, I'm just kidding around which is how I handle stress and make a few bucks. If the Pope gets into it with the Muslims I write about other apologies he's had to make. Like to all the people who sat behind him at the movies when he had the big hat on. That one sold last night but the crowd was there to see someone named Justin Timberlake (?) so they couldn't care less. I'm kidding. I know all about Justin. I have to for my so-called "career." So how's that going?

Lately I've had to make a few apologies. You can't just write humor this much and keep your focus. Something in your brain shuts off right at the critical part when you're supposed to get the details correct. Recently I wrote a couple of jokes for the radio people based on Venice, Italy when the story came out of Vienna, Austria. Worse yet, I mistook Matt Leblanc in one story for Matthew Perry. If you can't keep your celebrities straight in this society, you don't deserve to live. Finally, the real reason I'm writing this is that I waited 5 or 6 weeks to write a story about a local musician and then I misspelled her name. I corrected it but I didn't refresh before hitting Orblog so it's there frozen in time. Sorry, Lisa. That's why I'll probably post a lot today so that the Orblog page will fill up as fast as possible and the evidence of my screw-up will scroll down to cyber-oblivion. You know, that same wretched place where my brain's going.

A Great Local Music Story Takes Off

For over a month I've been hinting at a great story from the Portland musical community. I was told to wait till September 20th to blog about it, so here goes: Several years ago, I met a woman named Lisa Molinaro. She was working in a coffee shop on Hawthorne. We struck up an employee/customer type acquaintance and went on to be friends. I thought she was beautiful and solid as a person. Then one day I picked up the Willamette Week and she was on the cover as part of the Best New Band in Portland. The group was called Talkdemonic, and it consisted of Lisa on viola, a percussionist/programmer, and a computer. I went to see them play at the futuristic - for me, anyway - club called Hallocene, and I was impressed. It was different and if you've been a musician for decades, different can be good. The band went on several national tours playing as far away as New York.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when she told me she had been asked to join a band called the Decemberists. The group sounds like it's on the rise. The Saturday in August when my trio played the Seattle Hempfest, the Decemberists had a big day here in Portland. For something like 8 hours they did a photo-shoot for Rolling Stone magazine. I have known a lot of musicians in my time. I have never known one who was serving espresso drinks one week and getting photographed by Rolling Stone the next. I certainly never knew one who was back working in the coffee shop telling me how the photo-shoot with RS Magazine had gone. This was exciting stuff - right out of the movie "Almost Famous". Thinking about it, I realized that I was witnessing one of the truly cool stories to happen in my memory in the local music scene, and I used to party with the Robert Cray band before he hit it big.

Another element that sort of set it off, was that all during these last months, the mainstream media was focused on Storm Large and it felt so typical. I appreciate what she did and everything - I even enjoyed reading about it, despite the record number of "Living Large" puns - but let's not get crazy. This was reality-show phoniness, and demeaning to boot. I hope it leads to something real for Storm, but a glorified audition with a manufactured band - it was not without an element of sleaziness. It wasn't exactly authentic like the way the Beatles or most bands I love met and formed a group. That's usually one of the best parts of the story. Are even the innocent beginning parts of rock and roll going to be turned into a corporate vehicle now? It was nice to see Storm on TV but it wasn't Living Large. These people looked like a musical version of "Real World" - a rock version of "Making the Band". Sorry, but I thought it was lame. Write your own tunes and perform as an act if you're going on TV. At least American Idol presents them as a finished product. Who needs an audition for a band that's really just a desperate, high-stakes karaoke night?

This story with Lisa is old school - working your way up to get a break. A few weeks after the Rolling Stone photo-shoot, Lisa quit the coffee shop. She doesn't work there anymore. This is the fabled story of American rock and roll, that ideally ends up on some national telecast where you play your heart out and wonder how you got there. "How did this happen? One minute I'm making espresso drinks on Hawthorne - the next I'm on national TV playing in a band?" I'm told the Decemberists will be performing on Conan O'Brien October 3rd. Portland should be proud.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Things You Haven't Seen on the News: Another Interesting Story From 9/11

Today's "Hmm" story comes courtesy of a man named Scott Forbes. He has relevant information to goings on at the South Tower just prior to 9/11, so naturally the Commission had no interest in talking to him. Many scoffers at these conspiracy stories love to discuss a lack of opportunity. It's one of those tip-offs that means they haven't really looked into this. What could be suspicious about a power-down the weekend prior to that Tuesday morning with a bunch of "engineers" wandering around carrying spools of wire ostensibly to upgrade the cable in the towers? I'm sure it happened all the time. Actually, it didn't because a power-down in the towers affected many companies working there dramatically, as you can read below:

"My name is Scott Forbes and I still work
for Fiduciary Trust. In 2001 we occupied floors 90 and 94-97 of the South
Tower and lost 87 employees plus many contractors.

On the weekend of 9/8,9/9 there was a 'power down' condition in WTC tower 2,
the south tower. This power down condition meant there was no electrical
supply for approx 36hrs from floor 50 up. I am aware of this situation since
I work in IT and had to work with many others that weekend to ensure that
all systems were cleanly shutdown beforehand ... and then brough back up
afterwards. The reason given by the WTC for the power down was that cabling
in the tower was being upgraded ... Of course without power there were no
security cameras, no security locks on doors and many, many 'engineers'
coming in and out of the tower. I was at home on the morning of 9/11 on the
shore of Jersey City, right opposite the Towers, and watching events unfold
I was convinced immediately that something was happening related to the
weekend work ...

I have mailed this information to many people and bodies, including the 9/11
Commission but no-one seems to be taking and registering these facts. Whats
to hide? Can you help publicise them?

Please feel free to mail me.

Scott Forbes"

All together now: "Hmm."

Monday, September 18, 2006

President Bush Says 9/11 Mastermind Talked of Putting Explosives High In Buildings

Is there no end to these conspiracy theories? The latest allegation involves Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. That's right: Now there's talk of a second stingray. See, it doesn't have to be super-serious all the time.

There is even a category of 9/11 evidence that I follow without taking too seriously. It involves things that President Bush says, and the obvious reason not to put too much stock in them, is that he doesn't know what's coming out of his mouth from one moment to the next either. Of course, that's sometimes when the truth accidentally slips out, so I do pay attention. For example, it was interesting when he finally said that Saddam had "nothing" to do with 9/11. This was after a reporter had badgered him a little and he just blurted it out. It's sort of comical really: Every now and then the President slips up and says something that is true.

The conspiracy buffs like to point to a couple of times when President Bush seems to be saying he watched the first plane hit the Towers live on TV. That would be huge, but I just don't run with that, except to say, "Hmm" and file it away with the other billion details of this case. Then I go read a little more about the science - about the behavior of buildings when they pancake as compared to when they are blown up. Many in the 9/11 crowd are convinced that this is indisputable proof of explosives. They claim that no building drops in virtual free-fall with the main supports still intact. It can't happen. They are so adamant about it that they believe the government is going to have to go with a secondary explanation soon - one that involves the terrorists also planting explosives there that morning. I'm just relaying what they believe.

With this in mind, you have to admit it was quite noteworthy when President Bush commented on the so-called 9/11 mastermind at the White House's pro-torture press conference Friday. The President was talking about things we've learned from torturing people and one was pretty damn interesting. Here's part of the transcript: "For example, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed described the design of planned attacks of buildings inside the U.S. and how operatives were directed to carry them out. That is valuable information for those of us who have the responsibility to protect the American people. He told us the operatives had been instructed to ensure that the explosives went off at a high -- a point that was high enough to prevent people trapped above from escaping." Wow, the suspected mastermind behind 9/11 talking about planting explosives in buildings? And President Bush just happens to mention that at a big press conference? Why, it's almost as if he's laying a defense that the 9/11 Towers were also bombed by the terrorists, for when the official story comes apart, isn't it? By the way: There's little doubt about what's happening to the official story. It's both pancaking AND being demolioshed, so stay tuned. This is all happening pretty quickly. Some of our "journalists" in mainstream media have even taken a look. Me? I find the President's words very interesting, but I'm not putting too much faith in them. Frankly, I'm just surprised when he gets out a complete sentence.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

President Bush: Passionate About Torture

Paul Krugman asks a question in his column today that I've been wondering lately: Why is President Bush so enamored of the power to take detainees into a little room and torture them? What about this draws him on a psychological level? Most of us have a built-in revulsion to inflicting pain but there are those kids who show an early predilection to torturing animals. It has been reported that young George was one of them. So how does that translate into his actions as our Commander In Chief? I believe President Bush has waged a tireless struggle to attain limitless power for the executive branch, but not for some legalistic constitutional argument. Clearly that's not what's driving this. I believe he is one of those people who derives an extremely strong rush knowing that he has absolute power over other living creatures in a situation. This could be a little bird in his youth or one of the 14,000 detainees he has in a legal vacuum right now in secret prisons around the world. The thought that people he has ordered captured are now in little rooms somewhere screaming in intense panic as they believe they're being drowned, must be okay with President Bush. That power might even excite him. The whole argument about doing everything possible to make this country safe falls apart when you look at things he doesn't seem interested in: Secure borders and ports. He was presented with a number of areas and the one that really got him going was the subject of torture. He is passionate about it. He lies that the Geneva Convention and our laws need to be cleared up, but that is simply not true. They are extremely straightforward. America has outlawed torture.

Of course, you could argue that we're seeing an administration that is desperately trying to cover itself for crimes they've already committed. Maybe the point is to have these laws work retroactively and protect this administration from criminal prosecution. I suppose that's possible, but we have to rely on our sense of President Bush's psychological makeup - his inherent ability to do good or to inflict pain. I know if my actions had gotten tens of thousands of people killed and wounded I would show the weight of their suffering. You could argue that President Bush has held up so well physically because he honestly believes in what he's doing, but that doesn't explain it enough. Even if you also believed in what you were doing as much, it would affect most of us tremendously to know we had caused little children to burn to death in some horrible military attack. President Bush doesn't seem that weighted down by it. He seems downright effervescent as he rides his bicycle and stubbornly sticks to his agenda. He can get intense at times. In fact, I've rarely seem him get as worked up as he did Friday responding to questions about torture. He wants to continue torturing people very badly. This is one of his most prized powers - one he is fighting desperately to retain. The only conclusion I can reach is that among all the other negative traits such as his low intelligence, there is another problem that is really much worse: The President is a sicko.

President Bush: Soviet-Style Crimes Against Humanity

The right wing suck-ups can throw their chests out all they want and brag that President Bush understands how to get tough with terrorism. They can also criticize actual combat veterans who warn that legalizing torture will put our soldiers in grave danger. It doesn't matter how hard they try and spin this. Just read the linked story and think about what America has become. It's as if we're rushing in to fill the vacuum left by the Soviet Union. I even read that some of our old rendition prisons were actual Soviet facilities.

In another recent story, tourism to America is way down. Sure, some of that is related to the constant terrorism drumbeat this administration loves to pound out to the world, but here's another possible reason. Maybe people are less interested in flying to America to see the best in government - a magical place where the rights of the individual are protected - because that place no longer exists. Why come visit a land with a government like this? If something goes wrong you could be thrown in some secret prison with no rights and no way to contact the ones you love. Maybe the tourists feel they can visit that kind of authoritarian fascism just by staying at home. I don't blame President Bush for not getting this. He is a sociopathic, power-happy moron, but for his little puppy-love admirers, what's wrong with you? Secret prisons where people have no rights? 14,000 drifting in a legal limbo? Doesn't this remind you of the Soviet Union? Are you proud of that? Does your intensely disgusting kissing-up of this clown, somehow reassure you that it could never happen to you? What if they built a secret prison for ass-kissing sheep? What would you do then?
U.S. war prisons legal vacuum for 14,000 - Yahoo! News

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oklahoma Sooners Get Screwed, Ducks Promise To Call But Then Throw Away Phone Number

It was not a disputed onside kick call. It was clear. The pompus nitwit announcer acted like he was the only one who saw the Ducks player touch the ball before 10 yards, but everybody saw it. Then for good measure there was another bad call a few minutes later, but as they say in Oklahoma, them's the breaks. Ducks win. I felt a little bad since it was such an obvious hometown injustice, but I'm getting over it in record time.
I hate to think of what the Oklahoma Sooners program did to deserve a karmic payback like this, but I'm happy the Ducks could oblige.
There was some good news: The team of officials in the review booth was immediately hired to referee soccer matches in South America. They're just that good.

The Oregonian Shuns The Portland Freelancer, But I Ask You...

In a recent column, Phil Stanford cited the Portland Freelancer's suggestion that the city council demonstrate the safety of the tram rescue system. This was spotted by Sam Adam's chief of staff. The net result - and I do suggest a net by the way - is that Sam Adams will climb out of the tram and descend to the ground far below on a rope. The official Portland Freelancer position is "Sam, Don't Do It! I Was Only Joking!" But I ask you: When it comes to clout in the local blog world, who can match that? Who has actually gotten a politician to do anything - much less something this dramatic? So when the Sunday Oregonian does a front page story about blogs and their impacts on local politics, you would think they would acknowledge the blog that led to this. Especially since I'm probably the most far-reaching political writer in Portland. How many others get their commentary broadcast - albeit in joke form - in over 70 countries around the world? Then reprinted in hundreds of newspapers including....wait for it.....The Sunday Oregonian! That's my line in today's edition about President Bush's lies regarding his torture policy. Oh well. Some get the glory. Others just...wait, the Ducks game is starting. Got to go.

Friday, September 15, 2006

9/11: The Video That Proves The Official Story Is a Lie

For days now I've been promising the best 9/11 conspiracy video that I've seen. To my eyes there are only two possible explanations here: The video is a fake or the official story of 9/11 is a lie. I have been through a similar set of debates over the UFO stories. I had one friend who was unconvinced so I had him look at the Belgium sightings which I also deem the Best of Show category. The Belgium sightings have it all: Hundreds of witnesses, ground radar, fighter jet radar, instrument readings showing incredible altitude and speed changes, and a picture. There is only two ways that can go: It is one of ours and we have gigantic triangular craft that can hover before moving off at great speeds, or it is an alien craft. My friend examined the evidence, admitted it was quite startling, but as the weeks wore on afterwards, it drifted off his radar and he returned to being very skeptical about UFOs. Even dramatic evidence can be discarded if the person involved does not want to embrace the implications. 9/11 is important because our freedom could be at stake. Please take the time to check this out. The clip only lasts a few seconds.
Look at the squibs on the side of Building 7. Note how they start at the bottom and move up. Note the rhythmic nature of the puffs of smoke and their appearance seemingly before the collapse begins. Note the short duration of the puffs or squibs.
If it's the pressure from the collapsing floors why doesn't it continue? Why does it look more like a quick explosion? The same man who owned Building 7 had just leased the Towers 3 months prior to 9/11. If he is lying about Building 7, then the whole story falls apart. Here's the link. I recommend watching the video many times until it sinks in:

Squibs along southwest corner of WTC-7

Pressure Mounts on OHSU and Developers to Join Sam Adams in Tram Safety Test

Did you ever make a suggestion for the fun of it, only to see it get taken seriously? When it was revealed that the emergency evacuation procedure from the tram was a 175-ft descent down a rope, the Portland Freelancer called for a demonstration by our city council. After all, it was their baby, so why not show us how safe it really is? Especially since the Roosevelt Island Tram has another car that goes to the stranded tram gondola and rescues the passengers, as shown below in an actual emergency rescue last year.

Well, Tribune columnist Phil Stanford ran with the idea - citing my blog in the original column - and now Phil reports in today's column that Sam Adams is going to make the perilous descent in November. I want to make this clear: The official position of the Portland Freelancer is "Sam, don't do it! I was only joking!" I would never ask fellow human beings to risk their lives on a daredevil stunt like this. It might be the official plan and all that, but to me it seems like the latest spectacle involving David Blaine. By November, it could even resemble the magician's block-of-ice trick. Here's a picture of Sam working out with other council members as he prepares for the big day.

If Sam pulls this off, he could either wind up as Portland's mayor or at least get an offer from the Ringling Brothers circus. But now this situation has really gotten out of hand. (Sorry, wrong phrase for when you're clutching a rope.) The good citizens of Portland are demanding more as shown below.

Now they want someone from OHSU and the developers to join in. This is a city-business partnership, isn't it? These other partners aren't the types who would leave Sam and the city out there twisting in the wind, are they? The developers are currently submitting bids to get out of it, but the OHSU choice is clear. Since, it's way too soon to ask the new president to join in, the obvious pick is Public Relations Spokesperson Lora Cuykendall. She's the one who has assured Portland every step of the way what a marvelous idea this tram is. She should join the Commissioner on behalf of OHSU in proving to Portland that this plan is a winner. In fact, an artist depiction has already been produced of how it will look when Lora exits the tram car and begins down the rope.

Good luck, Lora, and be careful of that first step! It's a doozy!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My First Great Joke of 2006

This is my first truly worthy joke of the year which is too bad since it's September. By truly worthy, I mean it's the kind where I call other comedians and tell them. I may call John Callahan. Usually the ones I like are subtler than standard jokes, but I detect - dare I say it - an undercurrent of brilliance on this one. It says something big in a funny way. So now that I've overhyped it to death - now that it has no chance here goes:

You can always tell when Dick Cheney's trying to scare the voters. Like today he said, yes, it was bad that he shot the lawyer, but just imagine what could have happened if he hadn't shot the lawyer.

[On second thought, this joke is kind of lame. Oh well.]

Rare Hollywood Update

Okay, I admit it. I got my ass kicked by Hollywood this summer. I wrote a script that is such an obvious winner that I was sure the first big shot who read it would jump on it. As things turned out, it was rejected by one of the main green-light people down there - the type of executive who shepherds 10 films at once. I was right inside the innermost private sanctum of the palace. Folks, this was access from God. My script went where big-time Hollywood producers bow and grovel to the Man. His official response was that the screenplay was a "one-line joke", to which I responded, "Jaws was only about one fish." If the Man's assessment seems a little cold, that's because it is. When you go in this high up, and ultimately waste their time, they get annoyed. What a drag.

I did not get into screenwriting to let Hollywood bring me down. I consider it a lottery deal and I refuse to be bummed out about the process. This summer I was bummed out about the process. For 3 days, I was actually quite depressed - so much so that I couldn't even blog about it. We're talking about two simple words here: Yes or No. Yes would mean 700 grand plus a producer credit. No would mean on to the next big shot, but not nearly as big as this. I've gone through lesser versions of the game before - I've been doing it for 6 years - but I finally wrote a script that I considered rejection-proof. It's like every once and while I'll send a joke to my favorite late-night talk show client, and I'll just know it's going on. I'll even think to myself, "If he doesn't use that, it's his problem." I've rarely - almost never - been wrong on those, and I had the same confidence in this script: "If Hollywood doesn't go for that, it's their problem." Well, guess what? Hollywood didn't go for it and it's my problem.

I really am unimpressed with people who brag when things are going well but are too proud and weird to admit when they get their ass kicked. But that was me this summer. And oh my God, forget about my mood: My producer connection sounded downright morose. Talk about despondent. He didn't even call me with the bad news - I had to call him when I finally figured out the rocket had blown up on the launch pad. It takes a tremendous amount of personal capital for him to get a meeting with the Green Light Man. Most scripts are read by low level types and migrate up the chain. To drop one in at the top costs a lot of an invisible money called Access. You don't get to do that every week. Not even once a year. We have never gone in this high up with this kind of sell job, and frankly my producer connection sounded more bummed out than I was. And I was practically a zombie over it. First I had to deal with my own reaction, and then I had to go into pep-talk mode and try cheering the producer up.

I made up my mind that I would blog again on Hollywood as soon as I had anything even close to good news in this area. After all, being rejected at the level we were at, was bloggable stuff. It's actually quite a major accomplishment to get that far. You could sit down and try and write a dream scenario for gaining this kind of access and you would be hard pressed to come up with one. It wasn't a well-known name like Spielberg but it was someone right there as far as clout.

So let me finish with the good news. First, my producer connection's son is doing great in the biz. You've heard about this Ali G film coming out in November that has already sparked an international incident? President Bush will meet with the President of Kazakhstan soon and this film called Borat will be on the official agenda for discussion. Let's just say the idea for the film is not going over very well back in the old country. Of course, the notion of President Bush dealing with Ali G is so hilarious it is beyond gold. It is comedy perfection. But it is defintely publicity gold - this should help the film do a lot of business, and my connection's son is involved as the film editor. He also just edited an upcoming film by the 40-Year-Old Virgin guy: Steve Carell. So that's very, very positive.

As for me, my script is now in the hands of another Hollywood producer. One of these people is going to get this. This guy has made over 50 films, so it's onwards and upwards. I've got to get past the summer setback, stop being such a grouch about it, and press on. I can't believe I'd lose my cool over Hollywood. How embarrassing. When you think about it, what's the big deal with 700 grand and a life of total freedom anyway?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Let's Leave Iraq - A Lighter Notes Music Video

A couple of summers ago my band, The Lighter Notes, recorded this song in basically one day in a studio in Hillsboro. My brother put the video together. It's aired on cable access many times, but now it's on the Internet. See if you can hear the slide lick that I recorded on another day that sounds different. Oh well.

Let's Leave Iraq - Google Video






Conspiracy Theories and Me

1. Let me draw the line: I am not one of those people who believe we faked the Apollo missions to the moon. I do believe that astronauts saw UFOs during space flights, but I do not believe we just pretended to go to the moon. In fact that just sounds crazy to me. When someone says that, I cringe inside and feel sorry for them. I might even look down at them a little, thinking to myself, "Wow, their only chance to live here on earth and they waste time on this? How foolish."

2. I do happen to buy into several key conspiracy theories. When I bring them up, many people react to me, as I do to people who insist we faked the flights to the moon. These include conspiracies to kill JFK, the aforementioned UFO topic, and now the theory of US government involvement with 9/11. I realize how superior it makes people feel when someone says something that they consider idiotic, but I also realize history is replete with examples of the mainstream knowledge being wrong.

3. Maybe a lot of this stuff is hard-wired. It seems the same people are always believing the official story, while it's always more or less the same types who question it. I also sense that there is a sort of individual who thrives on being different. In other words, the scorn and ridicule that keeps many people in line, is actually invigorating to some. It's also amusing to me when people present their heartfelt beliefs and then the camera pans over and the person listening looks stunned by how crazy it all is. That to me is genuinely funny.

4. I also find it deeply amusing when the people who buy into the official story and scoff at others for believing such outlandish jive, also just happen to buy into the main religion of the culture they were born into. There is no major conspiracy theory that comes close to the magnitude involved in a leap of faith, yet these people embrace the religion they were raised in as the absolute truth, even as they look down at others. I used to find that irritating, but I have grown. I now find that deeply amusing - borderline hilarious. Out of respect, let's assume whatever you believe is the truth. But those others sure seem out of it, don't they? As a local comedian named John Wetteland once said, "Your magic story is the real one. Everyone else is just crazy." The religions of others just seem like the ultimate wild conspiracy theory, don't you agree? Isn't it just fear of the unknown turned into an elaborate story? Isn't it just Godly Spin?

5. I'm going to continue presenting a few of my conspiracy theories. It might not change your mind about anything, but I feel like I have to do this. I actually believe our best chance for survival is to diffuse these tragic religious beliefs. Not yours, of course. Yours is true. It's these other idiots we have to worry about. The UFO story could do that. If everyone around the world could simultaneously realize that the belief systems that fill them with a cloak of moral superiority, are wrong - well, we just might have a chance at survival. Why? Because a lot of people get killed when a group believes they are the ones God loves and the rest are just hellbound losers. We're in a race against time here. The people who control the means to end the world - the largest stockpile of weapons in history - believe with all their hearts that the world is destined to end. They even call it the End Times. It was one thing when these people were riding around on horseback, torturing each other for not being devout enough. But they've got nuclear weapons now. What if they hear God telling them to drop these bombs? What if they believe it was foretold? Me, I like the challenge of trying to survive. Humanity deserves to continue. We invented rock and roll and football. We have contributed. I'd like to think humans are in the primitive beginning. I want us to get some alien UFO technology and move out into space. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Warning To Readers: Fake Tram Car Pictures Hit Media

As posted by Jack Bog, the Trib and KGW are showing pictures reported to be the new tram cars. Wrong! Those were the prototypes. After OHSU and the city council jumped in - and started spending taxpayer money - the final version came out like this:

President Bush: Hiding Behind the Military as Iraq Gets Worse

When President Bush isn't hiding behind American soldiers or the flag, he's hiding behind his commanders in Iraq. We've all heard the mantra that it is the commanders on the ground who President Bush listens to and fortunately, they just happen to believe we have enough troops and that progress is going well. Whenever a high-ranking officer has the temerity to suggest otherwise, there is usually a 24-hour interval, Rumsfeld goes ballistic, and then the remarks are downplayed. It's happened over and over again. It's classic Washington cover-your-ass survival techniques, and I guarantee you when this is finally over, Bush officials will say, "You can't blame us. We asked the military. They're the experts and they said they had enough troops and everything was fine." Here is a quote from CNN's Michael Ware that offers a real glimpse into Iraq:

"Well, officially, from Baghdad to Ramadi, the response you will get from American commanders is that we have an appropriate level of force to do what we have to do within the confines of our mission. However, the key term that all of them use is "economy of force." They say that we are applying an economy of force mission. That in itself is an admission that they don't have the full number of troops that they need to do what actually has to be done. Privately, off line, what commanders, again, from Baghdad to Ramadi, will tell you is that they need at least three times as many troops as they currently have there now, be that Iraqi and American or, even better, just three times as many American troops. I mean, there's an area there north of the Euphrates River that is used by al Qaeda's top leadership that Osama bin Laden himself points to. It's the size of New Hampshire. You have only a few hundred American troops there. They can do nothing to hamper al Qaeda's leadership in that area."

An area the size of New Hampshire? That's a particularly painful reference. After all it was in New Hampshire where John McCain beat George W. Bush back in the primary of 2000, precipitating an intense Karl Rove smear on McCain in South Carolina. If it wasn't for an incessant spin campaign the Republicans would never have puked up this candidate from the bowels of their political beast. 6 years later we are in a mess so great in Iraq that even Bush's robot-like drone followers must see it. Yet, the President and all his chicken hawk buddies cower behind the commanders in the field, forcing them to say what best serves the political interests of the GOP, and then, when it's all over, President Bush and Cheney will say, "We were misinformed by the commanders." Just like they tried to claim they were misinformed by the intelligence going into Iraq - even as they distorted it and manufactured it. I don't believe the so-called War on Terror is really meant to be won. And all we're doing in Iraq right now is providing a fake backdrop of presidential resolve to get this wretched bunch of politicians through the elections. If we're serious why do have an al Qaeda area the size of New Hampshire where our minimal force keeps getting picked off at the rate of 100 young Americans a year? Economy of force. Too bad the Bush administration won't try an economy of bullshit.

Comedy After 9/11

Okay, folks, this time I really am going to lighten up. I hate getting weird like the last couple of days, but the anniversary of 9/11 brought the beast up from the bottom of the swamp. I am that guy, but I'm also not. That terrorist stuff did happen to me, but I'll never fully accept that I'm one of those guys who have tragic stuff happen to them. It's just not me. I cringe when those feelings surface and I rejoice when the swamp thing sinks back down. The only cool part about discussing my best friend's death in an attack on a Pan Am jet all those years ago, is that I just heard from the lead guitarist from our band in those days! Blogs - spanning the globe and the decades! He lives in Dubai. So what was our group like? There was a time when we were the best rock and roll band in the whole country, but you have to remember, the country was Saudi Arabia. You know, I happened to hit a place called Noah's Bagels on Hawthorne yesterday and it has a map of the subway system in New York City, circa 1990, so it was heavy seeing the World Trade Center stop. Then while I was there a song called "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" came on, by the Edgar Winter Band with Rick Derringer. (I once won a T-shirt of Packy the Elephant for calling a radio station with another bit of rock history: Rick Derringer wrote, "Hang on Sloopy".) Anyways, I remember playing that "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" song with my early rock band - so we had the chops and energy to pull that off, no problem.

Let's get back to proud moments in comedy. I was actually writing jokes when 9/11 happened. In those days I had to find 16 wacky stories and write 3 jokes each, plus 7 more about what's on TV that night, and then 7 for Jay Leno. So that was 62 jokes a day. These days, the radio service sends me the stories so the number of jokes is not a constant, but it's still probably over 40 a day. Anyway, before those towers even hit the ground, I was laid off from comedy writing. All the late night shows went dark and non-stop coverage of 9/11 dominated everything - as if I have to tell you.

Articles began appearing talking about what this had done to our collective sense of humor. The Age of Irony was supposed to be dead, which was ironic because I had no idea we were in the Age of Irony. All I knew is that nobody - including me - could imagine laughing at anything. It was the same way when you get really sick with the flu and you don't want to think about eating fancy spicy dishes. It just made you woozy to try and go there.

So that first week went by, and David Letterman was to return Monday. He started that show with a heartbreaking speech, and then later Dan Rather came out and actually broke down in tears on the air. I knew Leno was coming back Tuesday, a week after 9/11, so the weekend before, I wrote him a note and spent some time thinking how to handle it. I should look for the FAX - it's here someplace in my "files" - but it basically started with, "So, you wanted to go into the comedy business, huh?" We - the humor writers of America - had a problem. The country was the toughest room in comedy history. There were so many subjects that were off limits. The humor had to be on an official level - you couldn't just start with a showbiz celebrity joke, and yet you couldn't make fun of President Bush or any current leader. Nothing worked. This sounds weird but it was even too soon to make fun of the terrorists. In fact, you couldn't even refer to the incident directly. So there was only one thing in the entire world people were thinking about and you couldn't mention it. Folks, I did not go into comedy for the intensive labor. I usually write these jokes as fast as I can type. The 50 or so often take around an hour and 15 minutes, and the stuff for Leno? Sometimes as little as 10. I can write marketable jokes at rates that would fry a mainframe. It's mentally challenging but it's quick - it means I only have to work a couple of hours a day, although I do the work of 4 comedy writers in that time. This is the quirky gift I have that allows me to be free. I don't know if the terrorists hate us for our freedom or not, but they damn sure were impinging on mine after 9/11. I also felt that older sibling thing, as described in the posts below. I had gone through my own private 9/11 when I was 19, so I had an advantage most Americans didn't have in reacting. I had been there. One interesting aside: I've also been to the top of one of the World Trade Center towers and checked out the Windows on the World restaurant. Sigh.

That weekend I spent quite a while trying to write some jokes. Jay Leno came back Tuesday with his own heartbreaking speech, but by Wednesday, he tried the first monologue since 9/11. Letterman, who was right there in New York, would just open at his desk, so I believe Leno's was the first attempt at professional standup humor on television since the whole thing happened. It was 8 days after 9/11. September 19th. Somewhere in my "filing system" I also have the pay stub for that date, because Jay opened that show with my joke. That's right. I had the first joke after 9/11. It was, "This is a tough time for comedy, but we've had other tough times. Remember when President Clinton stopped dating for 3 weeks? That was a tough time for comedy, too."

The studio crowd barely chuckled. I don't know about after Pearl Harbor, but given the increase in TV sets, I'd have to say my joke faced the longest odds ever. America was the toughest room in comedy history. Watching at home, I didn't feel anything. No joy. Nothing. Of course, years later, this has gone on to be a proud moment in my so-called "career", but at the time I was just like everyone else - too blown away to feel anything. It was dark in the room except for my TV, and I remember watching the joke, and noting the slight, forced, painful laughter. I was hurt, unamused and unemployed. When the crowd finished their mild chuckle, I muttered something into the night: "Take that, Osama."

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 and What We Could Become

In the post below I discussed how I've been dealing with intense feelings about terrorism since I was 19. In many ways, 9/11 took America to a place where I had already been. I tried to cover my own situation in the post below, so today I'm going with my observations about America since 2001. Wow, 2001. Remember when it was supposed to be so futuristic? Anyway, this is going to sound pretentious but I felt a little like an older sibling during those times, simply because I had been through what we were experiencing as a nation. You know what else is strange? Everyone who loses a great friend or family member to terrorism, says pretty much the same things. It's a form of education that turns you into an expert on handling a very specialized type of grief. Think of the random nature of it. The terrorists don't even know who they're killing. In fact, America only learned in the weeks and months afterwards who exactly was lost. It's so weird when you know right after it happens. You want to scream out, "This isn't some random stranger to use to make a wretched political point. This was my friend." There's a tremendous mind-boggling mathematical inequality about killing strangers just to make a statement. It's the worst kind of lottery. Then to have the entire world discussing it, while you're going through an intense personal loss, is beyond surreal. Oh well, that was yesterday's post and today I'm going to try and keep it light. Great start, huh?

A few months ago "60 Minutes" did a piece on Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central show host, and I was startled when Morley Safer said that many people who go into comedy have something tragic happen to them when they're very young. (Stephen lost his father in a hideous plane crash.) Call me an idiot, but I had never heard that before. I had been working under my own theory: The reason I went into comedy writing was I have a quirky gift. In fact, it was a damn shame something tragic happened to me when I was young, because I could have been a lot funnier. I also explored the thought of comedy as penance. This theory came up when I was driving home from seeing the movie "Munich". To me that was the most important film of that particular year, because it covered terrorism and how being a victim of it can change your soul. America doesn't seem to realize this but 9/11 put us at risk of crossing to the dark side and losing our way. The terrorist incident the movie describes - the murder of the Israeli Olympic wrestling team - was only a year before my friend, Walker Heywood, was murdered in another terrorist incident in Rome. You want a really poignant detail? Walker, me, and a few other American kids who had grown up together in Arabia, were all watching that Olympic telecast at my parents' farm in Massachusetts, the year before he died in a similar attack.

Needless to say, the movie had a tremendous impact on me, so much so that I pulled the car over on the way home and shed a tear. I thought it was going to be a lock to win the Academy Award. I felt America would learn so much from it about terrorism, and what we are in danger of losing if we're not careful. Unfortunately, America shunned the film and it was the Year of the Gay Cowboy.

Why did I relate to the Israeli men who hunted down the terrorists at Munich? See, I had crossed to the dark side after my friend got killed - you almost can't help it. I'm sure there are some saintly turn-the-other-cheek types out there who do better with this, but I didn't. You find yourself - especially back when I drank - just fantasizing about revenge. It's really quite sick. You spend hours wallowing in what you'd like to do to these bastards and the end result is that you sort of disgust yourself. Then you go through it all again. Drinking and thinking violent thoughts. The ugliness terrorism causes is not good, and here's a news flash: This is the cycle that creates more violence. Somewhere there's a young man in Iraq who lost someone and he's crossed to the dark side, too. We might have to deal with him later. At least I was targeting specific individuals, but if you cross over too far, you just want to hurt someone - anyone. Even if they're not involved with the actual incident. See how it works, people?

Fortunately for me, I didn't have the opportunity to strike back. I admit, for the world's sake it might have been better if I had. The terrorist who masterminded killing my friend was Abu Nidal, early in a long career of horrific violence. Sometimes retribution is a good thing, but I didn't have a way. So instead I concentrated on getting myself over it, and it took years. That's what "Munich" is about - how violence can be a real answer, except that if you go there, you might not come back from the dark side.

I came back, and I eventually went into comedy writing. I'm not sure if it was because of the theory with Stephen Colbert, but I wanted to keep it light. I know that. I wanted to be on the fun side of the ledger. I was no saint but I wanted to do good - I wanted to add to the joy in the equation and fight the misery index. When I hit 500 jokes on the Tonight Show, it was a big deal for me. I called the Oregonian and it was in Jonathan Nicholas's column. It wasn't till later when I was driving home from "Munich" that I realized what the importance really was. I had been paying off - doing penance for what I had become after my own private 9/11. I realized 500 jokes on the Tonight Show meant something big to me in this area. It meant my penance was done and I forgave myself. I had crossed to the dark side, but I had crawled back, and now I was virtually healed. And it had only taken 32 years. My fear is that America is bogged down on the dark side right now. I understand why we went. I understand the urge to lash out. I've been there. But you have to realize we're in danger of becoming something completely different as a nation. It's not like in my case. We have the means to do a lot of damage in the world - that's for sure. But we better not linger on the dark side or we might not be able to get back.