Monday, November 30, 1998

Week of 11/30/1998

The Brutally Honest Holiday Wish List
- by David Matthews 2

Okay, boys and girls, I hope all my fellow Americans gave yourselves a generous serving of Thanksgiving chow, because now’s the time for you to tighten up those belts you just loosened and start the madcap spending spree for Christmas presents.

I’ve been inundated by family members on what to get for me for Christmas. "What do you want?" they keep asking me. The hardest part is telling them stuff that they can get for me.

It’s not that I don’t have anything I want or need. God knows I have plenty of things that I both want and need! The problem is that most of these things people can’t buy in a store.

So while family members go searching through the stores for the knickknacks that they can wrap up with a bow and put under the tree, I’ll extend to you, my Internet readers, my OTHER holiday wish list - the Brutally Honest Holiday Wish List. (You probably saw that one coming, didn’t you?)

I used to start my wish list with the same thing every year - a date with a Playboy Playmate. This year, however, there have been several factors that have caused me to reconsider that wish. The first one being the realization that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more and more burned out emotionally. The second reason is that some of my new regular readers happen to be Playmates (unfortunately all of them are married, engaged, or otherwise involved with someone else), and I’ve gotten to know them through e-mail, and I will hopefully know even more of them in March during my work with Glamourcon Atlanta. So I guess that might be considered as close as I can get to having a date with one of these beautiful women.

I wish the stores could hold off on the Christmas merchandise until AFTER Thanksgiving. Anyone notice that the trees and lights were being put on the shelves before the Halloween costumes? I saw more stuff on elves and Christmas long before I even saw one turkey commercial! At this rate, the next generation of kids will be getting Christmas sales just before the Fourth of July! "Hey kids, before you get those back-to-school goodies, why not get your Christmas shopping done early?"

Speaking of Christmas shopping, I would like just ONE Christmas season where we aren’t hearing news about the rabid demand for the newest toy. Just this past weekend, two women were injured in Illinois just trying to get one of the Furby dolls. C’mon folks, is this REALLY worth acting like idiots over? I want every parent who is bitten by this "must buy now" bug to watch the movie "Jingle All The Way" about a hundred times before they try to look for Furby. Maybe after seeing their own greed and guilt lived out on the screen will bring some sense into them.

I know I’m going to piss off a few people with this, but I wish I could find just ONE radio station that I can listen to the news without having to go through endless sports talk or mindless commercials. Just give me the news, I don’t care what the star quarterback’s latest zit looks like or how it might interfere with his performance. I don’t want to know how much more money some athlete with a Clinton-like agent will be making next year. The only time that stuff will interest me is when I go to a game and wonder why one has to take out a second mortgage just to buy a hot dog and a thimble-sized cup of Coke. I want to know how bad the traffic is on the roads. That’s the stuff that really matters. Save me from the wretched pseudo-talk about the latest long-distance calling plan. They can dial 10-10-KISS-OFF for all I care. I want to know how many more freedoms will be legislated away from me by our local, state, and federal politicians. I’d much rather hear about that than the latest faux pas from Dennis Rodman.

I would love to get a REAL tax cut. You know, the kind where you have less money taken away from you in taxes and more money in your paycheck. That’s a real tax cut. Not this phony "tax credit" that the Republicans and Bill Clinton keep saying is a tax cut. That’s not a "tax cut," that’s a complicated government IOU that ends up making them more money in interest than we will ever get in benefits.

I would love to have every politician REALLY be held accountable to their actions. They like sitting in judgment of other people’s actions? They want to talk about personal responsibility? Fine, put THEIR homes and businesses at stake as well. After all, that’s what politicians want to do with other people’s businesses. Why not make the stakes even? It’s easy for politicians to outlaw and regulate everything in sight when they themselves have nothing at stake. Maybe if they start losing their homes and businesses and cars they might think twice about sitting in judgment of other people.

Of course, the spirit of the holiday season is giving as well as getting, so here are some brutally honest wishful gifts I would give out:

To Bill Gates and Microsoft, I would give them some of the political consultants that ran the 1996 and 1998 elections. You know the ones - the kind that made the voters so disgusted at every political candidate, including the incumbents, that they stay at home on election day. Maybe after some attack ads against the government, Janet Reno and company would be a bit leery of taking them to court on a continual basis.

To members of Congress, for all they’ve done this year in terms of the in-fighting, the efforts to censor free speech, the hypocrisy, the lying, and the continual defrauding of the United States, I can only think of one appropriate gift - a Stooge slap. You know the kind - open palm, right across the face, just like Moe did to Larry and Curly. Just get all five hundred plus members of the House and Senate in one line and get someone to drive by in a golf cart for one collective colossal Stooge slap right across the kisser. It’s certainly neither Christian nor libertarian, but I think it would be the next best thing to a massive recall effort, and it would show our disgust quite well.

To Bill and Hillary Clinton, I’d give them, and this country, the one thing they so desperately need - a deserted island someplace where they can work out all their difficulties. Hillary can call herself the queen of the island and organize all the social programs she wants to without worrying about Congress getting in her way, and Bill won’t be "tempted" by all those women. Matter of fact, I believe the chances of him scoring at all on that island would be between slim and none, so he won’t have any scandals there to worry about.

To the US Department of Justice, the best gift of all would probably have to be a little investigation by the Office of Independent Council. Or better yet, an antitrust lawsuit of their own to worry about. Why not? After all, the US government is the biggest monopoly in the world! Should serve them right to have their own affairs probed through like a proctologist after filing so many antitrust lawsuits.

And last but not least - to all the moralists out there, the only gift they truly deserve is a life, so they can leave the lives of everyone else alone.

Well, that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Monday, November 23, 1998

Week of 11/23/1998

There’s Something About Critics
- by David Matthews 2

There was a movie out in the theatres this summer called "There’s Something About Mary." The story was almost irrelevant to the amount of humor that exists while poking fun at the human anatomy in various and rather obnoxious ways.

Personally, it’s not a movie I would want to watch in the theatres. Not because I don’t think it’s funny, but simply because the studio’s constant playing of their commercials that made me sick to my stomach.

Still, the movie brought in plenty of box office money to 20th Century Fox, and you can’t deny it was a sleeper hit. But it was a hit that was much in denial with the one group Hollywood relies on almost as much as the box office receipts - the critics.

Critics moaned at some of the outrageous humor of the movie, suggesting that the movie was just typical of this generation’s trash-talking attitudes towards life. How shallow they’ve become, or have they already forgot about a certain movie called "National Lampoon’s Animal House?" What "Mary" inadvertently put in her hair is almost as sick as Flounder doing pushups face-first in horse fertilizer!

Still, there’s something to be said about critics - they are at times the hardest of groups to please.

I say that from experience. When you boil off the colorful rhetoric and the lighthearted humorous banters, you’ll find I’m nothing more than just a critic of society and of politics in particular. Members of the online Playboy Mailing List also know me as a critic of CD-ROM programs and quite recently into videos. So yes, I am a critic as well.

As a critic, then, I find it incredibly hard for me at times to sit down and read some of the works of my brethren.

The hardest especially has to be the film critics. You know, there are many film critics who seem to use "Gone With The Wind" as their measuring stick to judge any film. Big budgeted movies with lots of dialogue, emotion, a sanitized view of sex and violence, and family values that only a Republican member of Congress would love, seem to be the only films these critics appreciate.

Mind you, what the critics love are okay movies, if you like long and boring presentations that seem to drag on and on. Unfortunately, they created an incentive for these snoozer flicks - the Academy Awards. I mean, let’s face it - the Academy Awards weren’t created to celebrate the movies that the people liked; they’re there to encourage people to see these long and boring presentations, because otherwise they’ll be held to public standards that their own intellectual minds could not handle.

Fortunately, most people don’t go to see long and boring presentations. Some folks want action, others want horror, and others want slapstick comedy that will blow their freaking minds. But that doesn’t matter to many a film critic because in their minds, these movies are no worse than the Grade-Z straight-to-video movies that are made.

An equally annoying trend is coming from my brethren social critics like Rush Limbaugh, who look at movies and try to compare them to our sitting president. I don’t know about you, but the only movie that mirrors Bill Clinton’s life is "Primary Colors." Instead, however, Limbaugh bemoans movies like "Independence Day" and "An American President" as being pro-Clinton propaganda simply because they feature presidents who aren’t old enough to qualify for AARP benefits. Perhaps "An American President" could be seen in that light to people like Limbaugh, because the antagonist in that movie was a conservative who was running for higher office and preyed on the incumbent’s liberal past. But the automatic assumption that ANY film that features a president who appears to be young enough to remember his last night of sex to be nothing more than a propaganda push for the current Gigolo-in-Chief is pushing it.

The latest critic comes from Steven Brill, the creator of Court TV. His latest creation is the publication "Brill’s Content," which takes a look into the media itself. His publication started in a sensational manner by questioning the leaks made by Judge Kenneth Starr and the Office of Independent Council investigating the Clinton Administration. It ruffled feathers not only amongst the OIC and Congress, but also in the media, and perhaps rightly so.

Critics do serve a purpose in society in that they keep society on their toes. They question the course of human events, and in some cases bring change to those events. Critics serve as that last vestige against complete complicity by a society to one singular idea.

It’s important to remember, however, that critics are, by nature, hard to please. Trying to placate every critic is impossible. Even trying to placate most of them is a challenge. But they should not be completely ignored either.

Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. That’s why there are critics.

Monday, November 16, 1998

Week of 11/16/1998

Acts of Terror
Terrorism is already in America, it’s just under a different name
- by David Matthews 2

In the motion picture "The Siege," we are exposed to a federal government pushed to the limit to stop the actions of a terrorist group causing havoc in New York. A bus is taken hostage and then destroyed. A nightclub is bombed. And to find this terrorist leader responsible, New York is put under martial law, complete with tanks and checkpoints and internment camps.

But we always tell ourselves that it really isn’t happening. That terrorism is just something you hear in the news over in the Middle East or in Northern Ireland. It can’t happen here in America.

What bunk!

Let’s be brutally honest here folks, terrorism has been here in America for years! Do you think that the explosion in the World Trade Center a few years back was a freak act of God? No, of course not. It was an act of blatant terrorism. How about the federal building in Oklahoma City? Yes, that too was an act of terrorism.

Okay, you then say, those were isolated incidents. How about the siege mentality that grips people in Ireland or Israel on a daily basis?

How about a worker at an abortion clinic, never knowing when some rabid pro-life fanatic will open fire on them even in the safety of their own homes? Or a furrier who is worried that his or her livelihood will be ruined because of an animal rights group who decides to open up their pens and let the animals run loose? You know, it wasn’t too long ago that we heard of incidents of "spiking," when environmentalists would run metal spikes into trees so that any chain saws that cut into them would shatter on contact. You want to be a woodsman with that thought always on the back of your mind?

The fact of the matter is, we’ve HAD terroristic acts here in America for quite some time. We’ve just never called them for what they are. A guy who plants bombs at abortion clinics and gay nightclubs is not called a terrorist, he’s simply a "deranged individual." A guy who kills abortion workers with a sniper rifle is not called a terrorist, he’s simply a "fanatic." A group of people who spike trees or cause damage to furriers aren’t terrorists, they’re simply "radical activists." We’ve used so much "soft language" (to use George Carlin’s terminology) that we cannot tell the difference between the true terrorist and the truly peaceful protester.

But, of course, we have no such soft language for terrorism that occurs outside of our borders. A guy who blows up a bomb in the middle of a crowded square in Israel is not called a "radical activist;" he’s a terrorist, plain and simple. The guy who blows up a police station in Ireland is not called a "spirited crusader;" he’s called a terrorist.

The failure to call terrorists for what they are only serves to further legitimatize their actions. Terrorists are able to hide their actions as simply being another form of protest. They’re able to blend into a crowd that much more easily, and gather support for their actions. After all, who can object to a "spirited crusader" to your cause? Never mind that this particular "spirited crusader" would rather do their protesting with phony anthrax threats and high powered sniper rifles.

Look folks, the history of America’s birth as a nation wasn’t without acts of violence either. We didn’t pick up picket signs and chant "We Shall Overcome" when facing the British soldiers. The Boston Tea Party wasn’t a casual affair - it was an act of violence against the established government. In other words, a terrorist act. Similar actions were also caused against British tax collectors at the time. Ever hear of the term "tar and feather?" That wasn’t just a figure of speech back then, as tax collectors found out first hand. That, too, was a terrorist act.

We need to really differentiate between the peaceful protester and the acts of terror, and call them for what they are instead of hiding behind the "soft language" that has allowed those terrorist actions to continue operating in the shadows of protesters. The whole purpose of terrorism is to strike fear into the heart of their victims. To make them fearful of their lives. It has no purpose to be associated with a peaceful protest, where the purpose is really not to intimidate but to dissuade actions without resorting to violence.

Monday, November 9, 1998

Week of 11/09/1998

Election 98 - Winners And Losers
Some real shockers here!
- by David Matthews 2

Well the congressional election season has come and gone, and once again, the bulk majority of voters continued to play their roles as bumps on a log and stayed home. I guess they really don’t care about how much taxes they have to pay, or the kinds of laws that will further infringe on their freedoms, because in many states those kinds of initiatives were up for direct public vote. I just hope they don’t try to complain about it later on, because frankly they have no more grounds to complain.

But for those who DID show up at the polls, it was a time of a few surprises. Perhaps the biggest has to be the race in the state of Minnesota.

Okay folks, say it with me now: Jesse "The Governor" Ventura.

I know, I know, it sounds strange, but let’s try it again: Jesse "The Governor" Ventura.

Yes, that is perhaps the biggest change of them all. Who would have guessed that a former professional wrestler known for wearing a feather boa and tie-dye shirts would become the governor of Minnesota? And on a third party ticket, no less!

The upset victory of Jesse "The Body" is but one of the many changes in this election. Here now is a short list of winners and losers of the 1998 election season:

Winners: The Democratic Party

Losers: The Republican Party

The victory is more of a morale win for the Democrats. They were able to get more of their supporters to the ballot box than in previous years, and thus stopped the GOP power grab in Congress. Worse yet, big GOP names such as Senator Alphose D’amato and Governor Fob James were sent packing because of this.

Winners: Moderate Views

Losers: Conservative Extremism

There were many news events which brought the hammer down against the extremist support. The march of the Klu Klux Klan in Gainesville, Georgia, the murder of a clinic doctor in New York by an unknown sniper, the beating death of an openly gay man, and the attacks of abortion clinics by false anthrax threats all made the public very weary of hard-line conservative issues.

Yes, some conservative measures were passed in the states. Voters in Hawaii and Alaska allowed the legislature to ban same-sex marriages. Voters in Michigan rejected a law that allowed physician-assisted suicide. But four states also passed laws that legalized the use of medicinal marijuana, and Arizona voters rejected a bill that would have gutted their 96 vote to approve the substance for patients. Many states rejected "partial-birth" abortion measures, and voters in California allowed the legislature to establish gambling casinos on Native American reservations.

The message to the politicians was simple and resounding - stay in the middle and don’t rock the boat!

Winners: Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Third Party Candidates

Losers: Politics-as-usual

The election of the first Reform Party candidate in a major campaign race ends much of the drivel from Democrats and Republicans about third parties being a "spoiler" vote or a "wasted" vote. As "The Body" himself said - "Well that vote just wasted them!"

Jesse didn’t try to outspend his opponents. He certainly couldn’t afford to. He didn’t even have a television ad until near the end of the race. He got in because of name recognition and he offered the voters something they liked. Hopefully, there will be more of that in the future.

Winners: Those who voted

Losers: Partisan Mudslinging

According to some early reports, this was the most anemic voting turnout in US history, and it once again played right into what I have been saying for years - the politicians do not want you to vote!

But for those of us who DID vote, we were pissed, and we let the politicians know that. We’re tired of the mudslinging and the name-calling. And some of the biggest and dirtiest of the players involved got their butts kicked, including D’amato, and Georgia’s Guy Millner and Mitch "The Bitch" Skandalakis.

Winners: Bill Clinton and Camp Clinton

Loser: Newt Gingrich

A demoralizing draw by Republicans assures Big Bubba Spin that he won’t be impeached from office. It also means many of his liberal, moralistic programs will have a better chance of being passed through Congress.

As for Gingrich, the failure to capitalize on the 94 GOP revolution and continue it to the 98 elections has cost him dearly. Conservatives, eager to point a finger at somebody to blame for their own failures have asked Gingrich to fall on his own sword. He won re-election in his own district, but he apparently has lost the war, and it has cost him not only his position as Speaker of the House, but also his job as a member of the Congress.

Winners: Medical Marijuana

Losers: The Drug War Generals

State by state, the move towards legalizing medicinal marijuana use is growing, much to the regret of the White House and the supporters of the War on Drugs. Their forces may shut down legal clubs, they can violate the Constitution, and they can threaten doctors for exercising their right to freedom of speech, but they cannot stop the movement.

Maybe we need to brush up on our history lessons here. History as in Prohibition. Lessons as in what that "war" did to us. Prohibition did not stop liquor, nor did it put liquor distributors out of business. It did, however, cause endless troubles in terms of binge drinking and to further hinder efforts to cure the legitimate problem drinkers. We lost that war, and continue to lose it when we fail to recognize the lessons of that failure.

These are but some of the lessons that came from the 98 election season. It was a costly season, to be sure. Politicians and special interest groups paid big bucks to keep you, the average voter, from the ballot box, and to keep their jobs.

Imagine the surprises that could have come if the rest of the voters showed up!

Monday, November 2, 1998

Week of 11/02/1998

More Election Time Rants
Because one batch of rants is never enough for politics
- by David Matthews 2

You know, it’s sort of appropriate that election day in America is just a few days after Halloween, because all during the month of October, our politicians put on their own versions of masks, and go parading about tricking the voters into giving them their treats.

Although, personally, I agree with the comedian Gallagher when he said that election day should be on the same day as tax day. I’d take it even one further, and have the polling places at the post office on that day, so when you drop off your tax forms in the mail slot, you’d have no excuse not to take a few extra minutes and express your dissatisfaction about those taxes where it really mattered! Matter of fact, I think that’s one of the reasons why tax day is set so far outside the campaign season - so we don’t get pissed off when we should and vote out all these politicians on a regular basis.

But let’s face it, part of the reason why these over-hyped swindlers and control freaks get into office in the first place is because of the actions of you, the voting public. We’ve gone over some of the tricks and tactics of our professional hucksters, now we need to examine the other side of the con - the American voter. So let’s look at some of the voting myths and tall tales:

Everyone Votes - The common myth is that only the people who get to the voting booths are the only ones who vote. The brutally honest reality is that EVERY adult votes on election day, it’s simply a matter of deciding if they will cast a ballot or let other people vote for them.

The non-vote is probably the most influential of votes in today’s election. We’ve gone over this subject many times, and it is still worth repeating - today’s politicians don’t want you to vote unless you are unquestionably on their side! If they can’t count on you to be 100% devoted to their campaign, they would rather have you sit at home or at work, doing nothing. And the old saying in politics is quite true - "If you don’t vote, then my vote counts twice!"

If you don’t vote, you vote for the status quo. Every non-vote means you the voter don’t care enough about the political system to want to change it. You don’t like the system, but you don’t want to do anything about it.

"My Vote Doesn’t Matter" - Just ask Bonnie Richardson about that. She was running for a seat on the City Council for Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico this past March. Small town, population of 1300 people. When all the votes were cast and counted, including the absentee votes, she lost by ONE vote.

I realize that the lull of the collective mentality is so strong that it may make your one vote seem insignificant in comparison, but history is replete with instances where one single vote was the deciding factor in monumental events. We would have never gone to war with England if not for one deciding vote. The decision of many states to be either a "free" or a "slave" state, a decision that precipitated the American Civil War, were decided by just one vote. Presidents have been elected by the influence of one electoral vote. Many a Supreme Court decision has been decided upon by just one vote.

Think about all the elections in your area where the candidates are running at a virtual dead head in the polls. One vote could very much decide their outcome.

"I don’t want to waste my vote" - Folks, this is probably the most lamest of excuses. The only way you can waste your vote is to cast your non-vote by staying away from the ballot box. If you go to the polling place and vote, your vote is never wasted.

The 20% of the voting populace that voted for anybody but Bill Clinton or George Bush in the 1992 presidential election didn’t waste their votes! They sent a clear message to the politicians that they were upset at the current political system and wanted change. Every voter who votes for a third-party candidate says the same message.

"There aren’t any other candidates for me to vote for" - More zero-sum tripe! As a Libertarian, I know that there are PLENTY of alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans. The Libertarian Party, for example, has over EIGHT HUNDRED candidates out there on various state and local ballots. There are dozens of different political parties out there, all of which you can examine at sites like Project Vote Smart to determine who is on the ballot in which race.

Just because you only hear from the wealthiest of loudmouths doesn’t mean they’re the only ones out there!

"I don’t have the time to vote" - Perhaps the only legitimate reason why someone cannot make it to the polls. Look folks, I also have to work, and as it happens, Tuesdays are the longest of work days for me because I have to work late into the night. So what does that mean for me? That means I’ll be at the polling place bright and early when they open at seven in the morning! It’s really just a question of finding out when those hours are and being there. It may mean you’ll be a little late getting to work, or having to take a little longer lunch than usual, but if you can afford it, you really don’t have an excuse.

At a time when we still have to deal with instances of voter fraud, it’s ironic that there are so many voters with so many excuses not to vote. With career politicians pretending to care, and with pollsters so attentive as to who is and isn’t voting, it’s insulting to have polling places where volunteers spend more time reading books than doing the jobs they volunteered to do - help people exercise their responsibility as voters.

What will be your excuse?