What WikiLeaks Reveals
David Michael Green
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Bang You're Dead
"Cat's Paw" Liability
One Year After
Exploiting U.S. Coal
Angola 3 News
The Real Cost of Prisons
Angola 3 News
Savage Imperialism 2
U.S. Threat to China
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Zaps - 01/11
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America's New Entertainment: Political Shenanigans
A senator has an affair with the treasurer of his election campaign and political action committee, gives her a no-interest loan of $40,000, and pays $15,000 for her children's private school tuition. After their affair becomes public, he fires her, gives her husband a lucrative lobbying job to keep him quiet, and his parents give her $100,000 as a "gift." Yet, the Federal Election Commission found no evidence that Senator John Ensign (R-NV) did anything wrong. His lawyer claims the decision is "one step closer to the truth." Ordinarily this would be considered corruption, but in today's world we accept it with a smile.
At a time when Americans are depressed, under- and unemployed, unhoused, and their welfare is ignored by Congress, the political elite works overtime to keep citizens entertained with a strange type of twisted humor. If only this were an isolated case, but it's not. Politicians are taking tips from reality TV to aim at the lowest common denominator.
Take, for example, the new Congressional Tea Party Caucus, with 53 members, founded by newly-elected Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann. Her recent gaffes include:
Tirades against "gangster government" usurping private enterprise
Attempts to employ a born-again evangelical minister to teach Congresspeople about the Constitution
- Claims that Obama's trip to India cost taxpayers $200 million a day
Lawrence Jacobs, a political science professor from the University of Minnesota, explains that she's not just some off-the-wall kook, but speaks "in code" to a "conservative, grass-roots" base. Her crazy statements are supposed to show her show her authenticity. Do people find this embarrassing? No. It's acceptable nuttiness, given our right-wing extremists.
Republicans are not the only ones jumping on the humor bandwagon. President Obama is pushing hard for a new nuclear arms treaty. In order to get rid of nuclear weapons, he supports building new factories to build more and better nuclear bombs. The factories will produce over 80 new bombs a year and have an implausible $85 billion price tag over 20 years—despite the fact that a building in the complex (that was supposed to cost $660 million when it broke ground in 2004) wound up costing almost $6 billion—a sort of knife-in-the-ribs humor. Forget that the chosen site lies within a mile of a major earthquake fault. We need to know that the bombs will actually work when we use them, except we won't use them because we are trying to get rid of them.
Even minor politicians wield humor with behind-the-back parlor tricks. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to appoint Cathleen Black, a wealthy media executive, to run the troubled city school system. Her children attended expensive private schools and she has absolutely no experience in education. Yet, according to Bloomberg, she's eminently qualified. Her qualifications include her seat on the Coca-Cola board as it fought attempts to end childhood obesity by discouraging school children from consuming sugary drinks, and her role as the newspaper industry's chief lobbyist in upholding their right to run tobacco ads.
Bloomberg is joking when he talks about transformative change because what he really means is drastically cutting public school budgets and eliminating thousands of New York City teachers. How can he keep a straight face? When you're worth $18 billion, spend over $200 million in three terms to get elected, and give your campaign workers almost $3 million in bonuses, no one tells you that you're full of it.
Even Tea Party true believers are in on the nonsense. They were nowhere to be seen when the Supreme Court appointed Bush to the presidency instead of ordering a recount or when Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, wiretapped us illegally, shipped six million jobs overseas in the interest of "globalization" or went $10 trillion in the red after arranging $2 trillion tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent. Only after Americans elected a black president did they begin foaming at the mouth and demanding that we return to the Constitution of 1779—although so far they remain mum about slavery.
Now they deny they are racist and fight back with quotes from Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King, claiming white people are the ones being discriminated against. Hundreds of thousands of online tests administered from 2000 to 2006 detected racial bias in three-quarters of white people. A more recent Public Religion Research Institute poll found that over 60 percent of white tea partiers, 56 percent of white Republicans, and 53 percent of white independents claim that they, not minorities, are being discriminated against. Minorities must find these assertions rolling-in-the-aisle funny.
Without even getting into the corporate-generated opposition to global warming, fundamentalist nonsense about "the Rapture," or the U.S. printing money to buy our bonds back from ourselves, the joke is on us. Our standard of living may be headed for the toilet, but we can still laugh, can't we?
Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows cultural issues and politics and writes satire.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
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BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
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NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
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LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
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