Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

The Kennedy Center Nominees Looked Like a Strange Bunch This Year

Tony Ballz

I was eager to tune in. To tell the truth, I barely turn the damn thing on anymore. Well, for anything besides basketball, South Park, The Daily Show, Rio Bravo on AMC (again), reruns of NewsRadio, Cheers and Gilmore Girls or the hilarious cleaned-up Sopranos on A&E. And wouldn’t you know it, an overly sanitized Pump up the Volume is on WGN right before tonight’s broadcast. YES! Happy Harry Hardon! They should have burned the place down at the end, like in Rock & Roll High School.

Oh, the Kennedy Center thing. 2009’s honorees were: opera singer Grace Bumbry, Dave “Take Five” Brubeck, Mel “It’s good to be da king” Brooks, Robert “Are you talkin’ to ME?” DeNiro, and Bruce “Broooce” Springsteen, who’s already Emperor of New Jersey AND The Boss.

For those who don’t know, the Kennedy Center gala is pretty much the only time the U.S. Government officially acknowledges the existence of something called “culture” in our society. The idea’s seed came from Mamie Eisenhower, Kennedy tried to make it happen, and it finally broke ground under Johnson, who named it after freshly-dead JFK. The Center opened in 1971 and has hosted thousands of performances and concerts, mostly jazz, classical and Broadway. Starting in 1978, the Kennedy Center has named five honorees a year for outstanding something-or-other.

Looking over the list of past winners made me wish I had seen 2004’s show, in which George W. Bush’s America paid tribute to Mr. Bob “you can call me Zimmy” Dylan, that old pinko.

 The whole shebang is a big deal. The fun starts on Saturday at the White House, where the president awards each recipient a ceremonial ribbon, which they are required to wear all weekend. Then dinner and cocktails and a sleepover at the president’s pad. The big glitzy Golden Globey public ballyhoo is on Sunday afternoon and the highlights are edited into a two hour special, airing Sunday night.

The honorees sit WAY the heck up in the fifth balcony (along with Mr. and Mrs. Prez), their spouses/dates behind them, and the adoring crowd below is constantly turning and applauding up towards heaven at them. The strangest thing is that during the proceedings, the five say not a word (neither does the president) while the accolades flutter up from the floor. They just sit there silently, like royalty.

The selection this year was pretty solid, not a bum among. But jeez, look at this bunch of geezers: Springsteen (token rocker/boy-next-door) was the youngest at 60 (he definitely dyes his hair), followed by DeNiro (token tough guy) at 67, Bumbry (token Negro) at 72, Brooks (token Jew) at 77, and Brubeck (token egghead), celebrating his 89th the day of the show.

The highlights were an interesting mix of high- and low-brow:

Harvey “this guy called me a mook” Keitel’s speech on DeNiro was mock-interrupted by Ben “Gay Focker” Stiller, who interrupted his own DeNiro spiel with “Holy crap, there’s Bruce Springsteen! BROOOCE! And that Nobel Prize guy …”, which our president laughed heartily at and then The President Of The United States BUMPED KNUCKLES with The Boss. That in itself should have been bizarre, but they seemed at ease with each other: the King Of Rock & Roll and Soul Brother #1.

Dave Brubeck, who introduced the rhythms and time signatures of Morocco, Turkey, India and other exotic locales to the world of Western music, smiled ecstatically as a combo made up of his four sons played a medley of his tunes.

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin introduced Grace Bumbry, the first black opera singer to play Venus, which caused quite a stir in the early 1960s. Her highlight reel was illuminating and astounding. Grace was a real babe in her day, and easily looked 20 years younger than her 72.

The weirdness started with Mel Brooks’ tribute. Old pal Carl Reiner kicked things off, followed by Harry Connick Jr. singing “High Anxiety”, Jack Black belting out “Men in Tights”, and a small production of “The Inquisition” sketch from History of the World, Part I. Sure wish Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle were around to sing “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.

Then someone from the Broadway cast of The Producers dedicated the next song to Barack Obama, and it was called “Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst”. I kept waiting for the TV cameras to show a reaction shot from our president during the number, but none was forthcoming.

It got even stranger with a full-blown production of The Producers‘ “Springtime for Hitler” with the dancing girls wearing the big sausages on their heads and all, followed by the cast’s führer doing his mincing little dance bit. This caused the night’s best reaction shot: Mel Brooks grinning fiendishly while his date looked on in open-mouthed horror and disbelief. It could possibly have been the most tastelessly hysterical extravaganza ever staged for a U.S. president (no Obama shots during this part, either).

The high point of the evening arrived when they said “Ladies and gentlemen, Mel Brooks!” and the whole room applauded while Brooks stood up, took out his pocket comb, made a Hitler moustache out of it and seig-heiled all present. While Travis Bickle laughed and clapped next to him. Surreal. They saved Bruce for last. It started out classy enough, with Ron Kovic, the wheelchair-bound author of Born on the Fourth of July relating his first meeting with Springsteen, followed by fellow Jerseyite Jon “Death To Smoochy” Stewart delivering his own funny and surprisingly heartfelt tribute.

It went straight down the crapper from there. Dig it: John Mellencamp sang “Born in the U.S.A.” (blah); Melissa Etheridge growled her way through an overblown “Born to Run” (BLAH!); Eddie Vedder softly grunted “My City of Ruin” (sorta OK); and the grand finale? STING (Sting?) led a gospel choir through “The Rising” (BLEARGGGHHH!), during which the audience was on their feet and clapping bouncily on the one, just like when Fleetwood Mac played “Don’t Stop” at Clinton’s inaugural all those years ago, proving once again the great majority of rich white folks have no boogie in their butts.

When Hollywood or Broadway or any other large showbiz institution tries to pay tribute to rock & roll, they always get it wrong, and tonight was no exception. “Let’s have a bunch of singers with gruff voices doing songs about America” was really about as far as The Kennedy Center’s understanding of Bruce Springsteen and his music went. They didn’t even mention the E Street Band, which probably would have been the first words out of Bruce’s mouth, had he been allowed to speak.

But that’s OK, rock & roll has its own hall of fame, which Iggy Pop isn’t a member of yet. Go figure that one out.

Reality Show Package Deals Now Available!

Reality Show Package Deals Now Available!

Cable Land—A local cable provider near you is offering a reality-show package deal for all those considering a career in the reality arts. The journey starts on the wildly popular Fear Factor. Once you’re scared enough, you’ll be stripped and deposited Naked and Afraid on some remote island. There, you will likely contract something bad, which will manifest on the third stop of our reality tour, Monsters Inside of Me. After your innards are no longer a topic of interest for our television viewers, you’ll head over to Moonshiners, where it is hoped copious amounts of white lightening will help kill your infection, whatever it might be.

Then, depending upon your gender, get set to head on over to either The Bachelor or the Bachelorette.  Don’t worry if you’re married, because by now you won’t be! It’s that simple. Then it’s onward to the Discovery Channel where your will appear on Dude, You’re Screwed, One Way Out, American Guns, and then Lone Target—hopefully in that order. By then you will need an extreme makeover on Extreme Makeover. When all is said and done, you will end up on the slab where you will star in an episode of our new reality show, Former Reality Star Autopsy!

But wait, we’re just getting started. If you act now anything of value on your corpse will be brought over and hawked on Pawn Stars. Then your remains will be shoved into some random storage locker and sold on Storage Wars. Some or all of you may even make a brief appearance on Shark Tank. Hey, why can’t I do both? That’s the spirit. Speaking of which, we will continue to hunt for your spirit on Dead Reality Star Ghost Hunters. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, unless you’re mummified, in which case you will eventually star in an episode of America’s Favorite Mummy Excavations.

So you think you can dance, Jackass? You have No Reservations?  Don’t be the Biggest Loser, sign up today. Void where prohibited.

A Tale of Two Stations

Tony Ballz

Here in scenic historic whitebread Flagstaff, I believe it is one’s civic duty to improve one’s surroundings however one can in order to make one’s community more … umm, human? Tolerable? Not sucky? What’s the opposite of depressing? I’m currently involved with two radio stations, one imaginary (sort of) and one real (sort of).

A while ago I decided to stop bitching about how utterly awful Flagstaff’s airwaves are (OK, I still do that) and get off my duff and contribute to their beautification. Radio Free Flagstaff is the brainchild of Noise contributor and local broadcaster John Abrahamsen. RFF is designed as a community-access station open to all, no experience necessary. John has a much more eloquent statement of purpose on our website In a nutshell: send us money. Please. We need to get on the air. It will be worth it, promise and swear to God.

Ideally, Radio Free Flagstaff will broadcast 24/7 with a signal as strong as any other local station. And y’all are invited! Let’s get it together, boys and girls! The FCC will be listening so we have to keep it kind of clean, but subversive is A-OK, encouraged even.

The fact that a city the size of Flagstaff (stop calling it a town) doesn’t already have community radio is ludicrous. Remember when there was a local television station with a nightly newscast? No? That’s because it went off the air fifteen years ago and never came back on. We’ll speculate on why that happened another time.

In December 2010, Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act, which basically loosens the FCC’s stranglehold on the FM dial and encourages small towns to start their own grassroots stations with a local slant. We’re on the list for approval, just need to get that bread together.

Frank Chipotel and I started doing shows in September 2010. We’re like two of those wacky AM DJs, except funny and with WAY better music. I do silly voices and Frank gets grumpy and yells a lot. And we bring in good tunes. There’s tons of other quality programming posted as well.

If you’ve ever seen a radio station on TV or in a movie, that’s where we record. It’s cluttered but clean. It has a broadcast booth with fairly expensive mikes and headphones and a bunch of mysterious electronics (I try not to touch too many knobs), a central office/meeting room with a door, and a general “bullpen” area with several desks.

There’s radio-centered effluvia everywhere: trade magazines, framed certificates and awards on the walls, stacks of promotional CDs and Public Service Announcements, a utility closet with all sorts of wires and stuff, sports knick-knacks, filing cabinets, and a huge satellite dish out in the parking lot about three dumpsters tall surrounded by a concrete barrier with a locked gate. You need a key or a security code to get in to the studio. The public restroom is usually cleaner than mine at home and it’s always empty. I’ve had several satisfying bathroom experiences in there.

The whole place screams “professional”. As I said, just like the movies.

My other gig is on KWHY (106.9 FM), a pirate station with a low enough wattage to fly under the FCC’s radar. Heading south from downtown, the signal dies around Wal-Mart; heading east, around 4th Street. A girl we know started it but then she moved and now I don’t think anyone is in charge.

KWHY is located somewhere most of us have lived, usually in our early 20s: The Party House. There’s five or six roommates and several dogs and cats cohabitating there. Every week or two they’ll have bands play in the living room while dozens of drunk punks roam the premises and break stuff and knock over beers and pee in the yard and fall down.

The day I started doing my show was the first time I had ever seen the place empty. I’m never sure if the people I meet live there or are just hanging out. The recycling bins are ridiculous; this single household may be the Pabst Blue Ribbon company’s best customer in Flagstaff.

I don’t think they ever lock the front door. Everybody just walks in, no one knocks. The kitchen is usually pretty horrific. I’ve never had the courage to sit down on their toilet. There’s a second bathroom in back by the broadcasting equipment, but it’s been out of service for months and stinks really bad so the door is kept shut.

Sometimes there’s a group practicing two rooms over that completely drowns out my show and I have to either put on headphones or give up and go home. I bring my own headphones because the ones there are broken in half. The whole joint usually smells like spilled beer and/or week-old trash. They could really use one of those hand-san dispenser. The transmitter is about the size of a paperback book. It came from Radio Shack and only requires a two-prong plug for electricity. From it, a cable runs between the washer and dryer in the next room, out a hole in a window screen, and up to the antenna on the roof.

The main amplifier is the same kind of receiver I have for my stereo at home (meaning nothing fancy). There’s two turntables, a CD player, a dual cassette deck with one of the doors missing, a two channel DJ mixer with a cheapo built-in microphone, and a four-way junction box that includes an 1/8 inch plug for an MP3 player or laptop. Except for the transmitter and the dish, all the equipment could have been found at Savers or Goodwill or a garage sale. A lot of it is held together with duct tape.

How do you know you’re on the air? You simply tune the station in on a portable radio/CD player, the kind with two inch speakers that ten year old girls get for their birthdays, and crank that sucker up. Not too loud, or the mic will start feeding back.

The entire operation gets its juice from a single power strip (piggybacking a second one) with an adaptor on the end going into a two-prong wall socket. That’s it. The whole damn station. The first time I came in there, the plug was hanging out at a 45 degree angle. I rigged it with some duct tape so now it sits full in the outlet.

Your grandma has a better stereo setup than this. So does the average technophobe. Everything looks like it might fall apart at any minute. Sometimes it does.

THIS IS HOW EASY IT IS TO GET ON THE RADIO. When you don’t need a license, that is.

When no one’s broadcasting live, the iTunes shuffle is on. The DJs and residents of the party house have packed it full of goodness from our personal collections. Sometimes I’ll be listening at 2 or 3 AM and some truly WEIRD people will be on that mic.

Like I said, KWHY’s wattage is so low the FCC has no jurisdiction over it. That means we can play and say whatever we want. The first time I uttered the f-word on the air was quite liberating. I immediately said it six more times in a row, just because it felt so damn good. The novelty hasn’t worn off yet.

Wednesdays are my night. I cart over about 30 LPs and a handful of CDs from home. I’ve always wanted to hear bands like Husker Du, Mission of Burma, Big Black, Fugazi, Drive Like Jehu, The Melvins, Guided by Voices, Skinny Puppy, Bastro, The Fall, Gang of Four, and Pere Ubu on the radio and now I’ve made it happen. Sometimes I talk, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes the albums skip really bad. Sometimes the needle gets all fuzzy and you have to lift it off the record and go brrt brrt with your finger and put it back on.

The other week I played nothing but Frank Zappa for four solid hours. It was awesome. I’m thinking of bringing in Live at Carnegie Hall 1961 by Lenny Bruce and spinning the whole thing, all six sides. Maybe follow it with some Lord Buckley. It really frees you up when you realize no one is listening except maybe the other DJs.

There is one major difference between the two projects. All the shows we’ve done for Radio Free Flagstaff have been recorded and edited and are available on the website. I have MP3 copies of them on my hard drive.

When I broadcast on KWHY, the words and music are released into the ether and then they’re just gone, whether or not anyone out there is hearing them. It’s a moment in time that passes undocumented.

My greatest fear for RFF and KWHY is that they succumb to the Flagstaff Curse. It goes like this: Everyone sits around bitching about how everything sucks now and how cool it was back in the day. Something new with potential for greatness pops up. Those involved try to get people excited about it. People get into it for a while, the excitement wanes, the new thing dies. Everyone sits around bitching about how everything sucks now and how cool it was back in the day. Repeat.

Radio Free Flagstaff and KWHY may have radically different approaches, but the intended result is the same: to let the voices of our community be heard. No matter how incoherent they are.

Except for KZXK (98.9 FM), all of Flagstaff’s radio stations are corporate owned. That means they are all driven by one goal: profit. None of them are interested in doing anything beneficial for our city. But some of us are.

Maybe if we yell loud enough, someone will hear us.

Final Thoughts on Ferguson, Torture, and Beyond

Mick Zano

If you missed the first part of the deboc…er, the debate, check it out here.

Here are my closing arguments on the Ferguson phenomenon, as well as the media’s constant ideologically-driven themes. I agreed with Pokey’s assessment of Al Sharpton and I condemned MSNBC for its recent ideological spike on the Fox shit-o-meter. But not all wrongdoing across our nation can, nor should be pinned on our president. We also disagree on the basic premise of which political party will lead to our demise. To me, Benghazi and Ferguson are still feeble attempts by conservatives to pin the fail on the donkey.

I listened to many of Obama’s reactions to allegations of police brutality and his speeches have struck the right chord between police and black communities, who are not exactly feeling the love right now.

“I think most of the people protesting out there are doing it peacefully and most cops are just out there doing their jobs.”

—Barack Obama, mob inciter


You claim to be a truth seeker, Pokey, yet you back a political party so denial-driven they couldn’t identify reality if it wrestled them to the ground in a chokehold. We live in a white privilege world, which has consequences for those subjected to trauma—cultural, socioeconomic, racial, or otherwise. Does that mean we should ignore the details of any case? I’ve never condoned that, thus your inability to find any real examples in my posts. And whereas I agree with you in some of your assessments of the media’s handling of these incidents, you continually ignore the massive failures on the right. Sorry, Fox News drew first flub. I’m not giving MSNBC a free pass, in fact, I’ve turned it off.

When those oppressed try to reach for some justice, it may not always be pretty, or precise. See: Woodstock. But sometimes we must embrace the naked, muddy hippies of freedom! You continue to conflate my views with that of Al Sharpton’s. Initially, I stayed out of Ferguson and trusted in the system, until the Cleveland and the Garner videos surfaced. If the black community got the Michael Brown premise wrong—which I’ve always felt—it changes nothing when the default of our system remains:

Guilty or Not Guilty  =  The Police Officer is Exonerated

The system is failing to protect its citizens. How many police officers get indicted for such wrong doing? That’s the issue. Meanwhile, your criticism of Obama in this matter is overinflated. When Obama said, “He (Trayvon Martin) could have been my son,” our president was a expressing a genuine human emotion, in real time (before the facts were even in).

Showing feelings of an almost human nature. This will not do.”

—Pink Floyd

Tear down the wall! Tear down the wall!!

Meanwhile, Republicans forever wax nostalgic for a world tilted clearly in their favor. They are hopeless romantics, who harken back to the ‘50s so they can beat their wives and their children and command so many servants that Mexican landscapers are superfluous.

We have made progress on race and inequality, but there’s much more to be done. Cultural or incident-specific-trauma has a real impact on the brain’s development as well as a given individual’s economic opportunities. Those traumatized, societal or individual, don’t always recall the facts perfectly—just as Jackie over at U of V can attest. This may not be the prettiest of movements, but one day it will yield justice.

Wanna hear a crazy conspiracy theory that actually makes sense?

“Bush’s answer to our educational failings was No Child Left Behind, which was all part of a plan to make us all so ill-informed we would one day elect his brother.”

—Mick Zano

Now that’s a valid conspiracy theory, at least comparatively. Shit isn’t fair and, within the growing disparity of super capitalism, even those in the middle class are finding fewer doors to prosperity. This is all part of the Republican’s plan to shift all of our country’s assets into the hands of a few well-deserving white folks (WDWF).

The juxtaposition:

On the VERY DAY of our email exchange we find out the CIA brutality tortured and lied about it and you harp on this—and on the wrong side of this. You even defend the CIA Torture Report as a “distraction.” I chose no sides on this rash of police incidents until the Garner video surfaced and, yet, in light of this you still deny any systemic issues?  The only charges pressed in Garner’s death was the guy holding the camera. If that doesn’t piss you off, I don’t know what—oh, who am I kidding, BENGHAZI!! Speaking of distractions.

As for torture, many on the right (present debater excluded), don’t even understand why “drowning the towel heads” is an issue. Just as more folks on the right support “torturing for Jesus.” Yes, condoning such abuses is on the upswing, here. This moral decay on the right is the issue, not the left’s rally cry for equality. Torture is a trend even more disturbing when one considers 26 of those (some American citizens) were detained wrongly and yet we gained no actionable intelligence. Cheney keeps mentioning this L.A. threat as his only defense, which is another lie, here. This is not nuance, this is HUGE. But, again, sorry for that shop window Obama is partially responsible for in Ferguson. And a thousand pardons for that court testimony of Michael Brown’s friend, who had direct coaching from the Obama Administration, per the IRS’s missing emails smuggled over the border during Fast & Furious ….BENGHAZI!!!

I guess if you can’t find anything, dig deeper. Where there’s no smoke, there’s an embassy fire. When Bush stepped down and said history would likely equate him to Truman, I thought, what an astoundingly delusional statement. Similarly I know history will not judge Obama as harshly as you and your friend’s on the right would like, because hatred toward our president is primarily ideologically driven.  When I see a guy who both avoided WWIII and saved the global economy during the onset of his tenor, I can still muster some scant gratitude.

Some of your points are valid—trivial and sad—but valid. Sorry, but not everyone who acts poorly in the face of inequality can be linked to Obama. Cheney will walk for his secret prisons, his torture, and his lying us into war but please indict that person who testified for Michael Brown as she was not, “Tell’n dat twooth to whitey.” It wasn’t Buckwheat, it was Spanky in the Observatory with Officer Mustard gas, aka cop a Clue, Alfalfa.

We officially live in two realities. Both sides paint two different pictures of any given event, issue, or policy. We are polarized, perhaps beyond repair. I predominantly blame Republicans for this reality and I assign this blame based on something I like to call facts. Obama isn’t fomenting this; he’s shown tremendous restraint in the face of ignorance. Liberal paintings, at least for the moment, still borrow some aspects from realism, while Republicans primarily draw their inspiration directly from some avant-garde, sniffing glue branch of surrealism.

Racial injustice needs to be addressed, I just encourage black communities and leaders to pick the right battles and the right champion for their cause—which is the heart of your argument. If you want to see real spin, turn on Fox News. There you will see how truth is being beaten, each and every news cycle, into submission. You have found a couple of narratives you don’t fully endorse while I maintain the entirety of Republicana is a farce.

More juxtaposition:

As Pokey paints this picture of a president intentionally seeding racial tensions—to which there is little proof—today my Senators in Arizona said, “We don’t need any more clean water. You want clean water buy a Brita” (paraphrased). Senator John McCain (R) and Senator Jeff Flake (R), TODAY, voted against the Clean Water Act, saying,

“There’s no peer-reviewed research to support this unwanted piece of government over-regulation.”

—Jeff Flake (R)

By none, of course, he means there’s over a thousand peer-reviewed studies (per NPR). That is an example of a lie, and a potentially consequential one at that.  We are destroying our water supplies and our planet. Climate change is real and is impacted by man. Republicans are lying about this and get a free pass, but God forbid liberals address racial inequality in an imperfect manner. But Obama should fix that window in Ferguson. I could self-harm with those pointy shards.

These types of lies go on every day on the right and—the Torture Report and this clean water thingie are happening right now. The connection to these and Republican legislation is direct and damning, not hazy and conspiratorial. Obama’s atrocities are, for the most part, hyperbole and delusion wrapped in propaganda, per those IRS emails we never saw during that Benghazi testimony.

Even more juxtaposition:

Let’s revisit McDooris’s main beefs with Obama over his six year tenor, which he believes will eventually encroach on our freedoms:


Pokey: “You can keep your doctor.”

Zano: Admittedly, this was Obama’s worst blunder to date, yet it still rang true for an estimated 96% of Americans, most of which we never tortured. Of course, the argument now is Obamacare a good law or a great one, here. Yea, accomplishing everything it set out to do is tragic.

Immigration Reform

Pokey: “It’s just for the hardworking immigrants who have been here for five years.”

 Zano:  …which it is (See: Law).

Clean Coal:

Pokey: “We’ll just regulate coal.”

Zano: True! Get honest, Obama! Coal needs to go NOW! Stop placating these bastards!

The 2nd Amendment

Pokey: “It will start as sensible background checks.”

Zano: Our 2nd Amendment rights will always exist in America, perhaps to a fault (See: Obama’s lack of balls in this area). Meanwhile, 90% of those polled agree with the idea of sensible background checks, but thankfully this is an aristocracy.

This is Pokey’s list of Obama’s worst deeds and yet the CIA Torture Report was released this week. As I attempted to review Bush’s actual atrocities during this rebuttal, Mr. Winslow warned me about the lack of available server space. Ultimately this torture logic is the best example. So the shit I was shouting about in pubs and coffee shops with you over a decade ago turned out to be true and, likewise, the radical decent of one of our political parties will also eventually be common knowledge. Yes, the blame will land on Republicans—where it belongs. As for the “common knowledge” you are endorsing: it may be common, but knowledge has nothing to do with it.

I shouted for investigations from the beginning on torture and we find out yesterday it was widespread, egregious, and yielded no actionable intelligence. Yet you got every investigatory committee you wanted for Christmas on Benghazi and…I want my friggin’ money back!

“Some things are ideologically driven on the left, but EVERYTHING is ideologically driven on the right and when I say Republican driven, I’m thinking Captain Ahab with ‘roid rage.”

—Mick Zano

When all is said done, Bush should hang and, sadly, when the next Republican president is elected we will look back to that asshole fondly. That is a prediction you can bank on. Oh, wait I’m being told those will collapse. Everything else you’re harping about seems to pale in comparison to the real issues of our time. We both agree on the danger of the expansion of executive power but there will always be these quantum executive power leaps under Republicans—well, if history is any judge. And, as violent crime stats plummet, we decided to turn our police stations into paramilitary operations, after the fact. This has only increased instances of police brutality and racial tension. Al Sharpton may not be the solution, but either is Ted Cruz. Maybe the whole system is to blame, but the origins of most wrongdoing always seem Republican in nature. They end up trashing the law that allows the abuse to occur in the first place. Then, on a rare occasion when a Dem tries to create a law to fix an existing abuse, Congress won’t even vote on it!

If you continue to drink the Republican Kool-Aid, you will always find yourself barking up the wrong scandal. Sorry, but our Republicans’ place in history is already reserved. Hint of the Day:

History will forever place a crescent moon on the door of that shit-shack called The Grand Old Party.”

—Mick Zano

Sorry, I did not mean to offend. Please edit out Christmas and replace with Festivus. Thank you.

Zano Hacks Rogen!

Zano Hacks Rogen!

Flagstaff, AZ—Mick Zano of The Daily has hacked into Seth Rogen’s personal email. He is now threatening to release sensitive personal information unless Rogen adds at least ten funny jokes to his movie, The Interview, or he will “not even watch it on Netflix.” To show he means business, Zano stated he has firm evidence from the acquired emails that Rogen “smokes pot while working.”

Mr. Zano’s list of demands are as follows:

Seriously, Seth, I have enough information on you to write an autobiography but, upon reading all of your emails, I don’t want to. Here are my demands, in no particular order:

1. You need to read the script I sent you entitled Search Truth Quest: Schlock Ness Monster.

2. You need to accept the above manuscript instead of another #$%^ing rejection letter!

3. Make the fuzzed-out part over your groin larger in your recent Naked and Afraid episode.

4. I want one interview for Skype is fine, but you can’t phone this one in Seth! Not this time!

5. I want some of that pot.

6. I would have more demands but I’m already smoking pot.

P.S. This doesn’t work, Seth! It’s not funny! Oh, and chips. I want some chips…your choice.

Respectfully Blogged,

Mick Zano

Oh, and I know what you and Franco did last summer and what you did at the Christmas party. Feel naked and afraid, Rogen, naked and afraid.

Final Thoughts on the Culture War Zano Debate

Pokey McDooris

If you missed the first part of the deboc…er, the debate, check it out here.

When all is said and done, history will suggest how the Fort Hood tragedy was the result of a reprehensible video pertaining to workplace violence. The real tragedy is how our general population has succumbed to this disingenuous narrating of events that so easily sacrifices truth and integrity for the whims of political ideology. The peaceful protestors in Ferguson and throughout this nation don’t show any concern for what actually occurred. Their leaders haven’t given them any role models or much incentive to even care. It’s like Mr. Winslow’s Christmas gifts.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Islamic State and the American Communist Party were funding the Ferguson protests. There are forces in this nation and abroad who gain political leverage by keeping Americans divided on the basis of race, sex, class, citizenship, and sexual orientation, and these enemies of our nation push those issues to the forefront so that we won’t focus on the real racism in the world, the real oppression of women in the world, real state-induced poverty, and the real persecution of gays.

Yes, I believe in Truth, something actually occurred in Ferguson and I believe with some effort and honesty we can get to the bottom of many of these incidents. Some people say that a white racist cop shot and murdered a defenseless black boy who surrendered with his hands in the air. When reading through the Grand Jury transcripts, the truth becomes apparent. But there are people who don’t care about the truth; they simply wish to use the Ferguson tragedy to promote their political ideology, so they orchestrate a narrative that involves powerful racist white people killing poor defenseless black boys.

Eyewitness Piaget Crenshaw said, after it was publically confirmed that Brown was inside the police car, “Well, from my point of view, I could not tell exactly what was goin’ on, but it just looked as if, um, he was tryna’ to pull ‘im into the car.”


“It just looked like he was tryna’ do such a, you know, um Brown bein’ a bigger folk, he, that didn’t seem to have been workin’ (sob) so he got away and it just seemed to have upset the officer.”

From my point of view, I can tell that Piaget is, well, tryna’ to lie to the Grand Jury and deserves, um, jail time.

It all comes back to our religion debate, Zano. If there is no such thing as absolute truth, what does it really mean to lie? The above eyewitness is presenting a testimony that encourages much needed attention to the plight of black people in this country, so her “inconsistencies with reality” should be commended for advancing progressive policies.

Other witnesses acknowledged changing their stories to fit published details about the autopsy (see Zano’s critique of the individual mandate and executive directed immigration reform) or witnesses who admitted that they did not see the shooting at all (see vanishing IRS emails).

Many witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown made statements inconsistent with other statements. Let’s put that in what Zano likes to call the “historical context”:

Obama’s “sacred union between one man and one woman,” which often conflict with the physical evidence “you can keep your health care plan.”  Some accounts were completely refuted by the physical evidence.

“I take the constitution very seriously but the biggest problems we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power to the executive branch and not go through Congress at all.”

Then, the most reliable witness turned out to be the “white racist killer cop.” The cop who lost his job at the threat of an orchestrated mob.

Here are my predictions:

1) President Obama will further expand his executive power beyond its constitutional limits, including the bypassing of Congress to establish “reasonable” gun regulations, and there will be increased vocal and visible protests against such expansion.

2) There will be increased visible and vocal protests against: racism (stop the police brutality), sexism (equal pay for women), classism (raise the minimum wage), and citizenism (amnesty for illegals).

3) The Obama administration, with the help of major media sources, will create a narrative that shows one group as freedom-and-fairness-loving patriots speaking their mind against an imperialistic tyranny; and the Obama administration will create a narrative that shows the other group as racist/sexist/homophobic/gun-crazed terrorists spewing hate-speech.

4) This little culture war will begin looking more-and-more like a civil war that will threaten to tear the very fabric of this nation apart.

5) Mick Zano will blame it all on George Bush.

Yes, I do blame the President, and you Zano, for promoting an attitude that sacrifices truth and integrity for ideological advancement. That’s what all these witnesses share in common. The movement that you have aligned yourself with has justified doing and saying anything to promote the means of progressive policies of single payer universal healthcare, gay marriage, amnesty to illegal immigrants, climate change regulations, gun control or whatever whim awaits the future (mandated surgically implanted Access Cards with medical records.)

It all starts the same, as small little lies:

“You can keep your doctor.”

“It’s just for the hardworking undocumented immigrants who have been here for five years”

“We’ll just regulate coal.”

“Sensible background checks.”

But you don’t even deny it anymore, once your side gets its foot inside Pandora’s Box, you keep pryin’ that box open like a roofied Cosby playboy model, until there’s only one payer, all gayers, No habla Ingles sayers, total business regulators, bow and arrow Hunger Gamers, and Access Implant indoctrinators. 

“Look out kid, you’re gonna get hit, by losers, cheaters, six-time users, hang around the theaters. Girl by the whirlpool, lookin’ for a new fool, don’t follow leaders and watch the parkin’ meters.”

—Bob Dylan

Pokey V Zano: Our Culture War for Dummies

Cokie McGrath

I did very little actual moderating for this one, none actually, but I agreed to review a challenging email exchange between Pokey McDooris and Mick Zano. I cleaned it up a bit and took out all the more colorful metaphors, terroristic threats, as well as any and all references to midget porn. You owe me, Zano, big time.

Before we start you also owe me for last weekend’s Brewery ghost shoot. I am ready to kill all of you bozos! Grrrrrr. I am Cokie, hear me roar! ¯Let it Go! ¯ Let it GO! ¯ …now back to our regularly scheduled program. This debate focuses on those recent cases involving encounters between white officers and unarmed black men. I would like to add, it was nice to see Zano discuss a topic that he generally avoids. He has Avoidant Personality Disorder—among other things from the DSM-V.

Pokey: My problems with the recent police brutality news stories have to do with people highlighting scenarios wherein a white man kills a black man. Look, I know racism exists, and I’m sure racial motivations account for some black men’s death at the hands of white police officers. The problem is that President Obama consistently aligns himself with black racists who have time-and-time again pushed forth a narrative that corrupts the truth of what actually occurred. This had real consequences in Ferguson.

Zano: It’s true, twenty seven windows were broken and, had Obama delivered the Ferguson Address, several windows could have been saved that night (innuendo/in your window joke removed by the editor).

Pokey: Obama never acted as a leader during the Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown incidents. He said, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon,” invoking race into a case that obviously had nothing to do with race. He said, “I understand your frustration” to people who were justifying their mob aggression by showing their “hands up, don’t’ shoot” theme, even after it had been clearly determined that Michael Brown never put his hands up in surrender and never said “don’t shoot.” President Obama also sent his emissary, Reverend Al Sharpton, who has made his living off exploiting ‘black murders by whitish men.’ Where exactly did Reverend Al attend seminary, Our Lady of the Black Panther?

Zano: I understand your frustration. Hah! Sorry. This is a serious subject, but as it turns out I’m a comedian. This is a media issue, it’s just like how Fox News is catching and covering all black on white violence that MSNBC “missed.” Funny how when MSNBC is misbehaving, it’s already Fox’s Modus O’Reiandi. I was not there for Martin or Brown incidents, but the Cleveland video raises an eyebrow and after the Garner video my eyebrows flew off my face and landed in my beer. I was shocked. I wanted to drink that beer.

Pokey: As for the Garner video, obviously the police officer used too much force. On the surface it seems like a case best taken to court, but I didn’t see everything involved. Maybe New York ought to rethink its prosecution of people who sell untaxed cigarettes. New York overtaxes the shit out of cigarettes and then, when a guy finds a better deal for the addicts, the SWAT team arrives. When a man resists arrest, it becomes a life and death situation for the police—I agree, I wish this case would have gone to court—although that didn’t help Trayvon, did it?

Zano: Surprise, surprise you’re using the Rand Paul, nanny state defense (Talking Point Alert). Blame liberal laws for a botched arrest. Taxing harmful products is another debate. The choice of technique used during the arrest is the problem. It’s hard to even see how he resisted arrest from the video. He threw up his hands, he was tackled, and he died. The video is damning. I don’t need to know any more about this particular case. We were all there—just some of us wore filters over their eyes and the frontal lobe regions of their brains.

Pokey: My point remains, this promotes a ‘racist policeman’ narrative. Garner case aside, the reason I give you a hard time about Benghazi, Fort Hood, Trayvon and this “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative in Ferguson, is that each involves politically motivated false narratives pushed by the media and the White House. This is the worst kind of lie. In order to ease the tensions in Ferguson, President Obama could have been a leader and said, “The evidence shows that the police officer in Ferguson acted justly in his handling of this tragedy.” Or in the case of Trayvon Martin, “The evidence shows that there were no racial motives involved with this tragedy.” Those words would have gone a long way to defuse both situations. 

Zano: Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Was all those shots necessary? I don’t know. I don’t think Obama was at the scene either, and he is taking into consideration the cultural trauma when he speaks to black communities. He has a perspective on this that you and I simply don’t. But I guess he’s instantly the Mob organizer-in-Chief since he’s not driving a tank alongside Joe Arpio and routing out those Un-Muricans. I don’t see this grand conspiracy. Benghazi!!!!!!

Pokey: “Hands up, don’t shoot” is being used as a rallying cry for mobs of people to protest, riot, destroy businesses and threaten people. The objective evidence shows clearly that Michael Brown never raised his hands in the air in surrender. Of course, the “hands up, don’t shoot” theme is just fine because the “up” is relative to Michael Brown’s tallness, since his hands were “up” in relationship to a shorter person. And, while Michael Brown was sprinting toward the officer in rage, his defiant body language would best be interpreted to imply the phrase “don’t shoot,” even though the words “don’t shoot” did not come out of his lips. So when people gesture “hands up, don’t shoot”, they’re expressing an honest and accurate picture of what occurred to poor helpless Michael Brown on the day of his lynching.

Zano: Tongue and cheek, I get it, but you’re putting scenarios in my mouth. This is how many people viewed these events through their own ideological filters. I have maintained all along that I wasn’t there, but could predict a given interpretation based on political affiliation. That’s the problem, a problem you see only one side of. You can’t extrapolate that to my own views. I’ve agreed with you on this one, but I just added better jokes, which might have thrown you.

Pokey: The Grand Jury has presented their report, which appears to be thorough and objective. It shows strong evidence in support of the policeman’s perspective. I’m sure that President Obama has been made aware of the facts of this case.

Zano: Obama condemned the court’s decision in the Brown case, oh wait, he didn’t. Damn facts. Obama has said multiple times that if you break the law, you will be prosecuted. He’s called for calm. I guess that’s translated now by republicans as “Obama’s inciting violence.” This movement is being handled poorly, by the media, and I have been against such stuff since the Tawana Brawley days. Remember her? I’ve heard Obama’s speeches on this. He is nuanced and pluralistic at times, but he’s always careful. You extrapolate my views in the same way you extrapolate Obama’s misdeeds.

Did you hear about the torture report today? While Ferguson is a big deal from a cultural standpoint, this is a political firestorm.

Pokey: Oh, yeah perfect timing for the administration to distract us with the ‘torture report’ that tells us how over a decade ago U.S. agents simulated drowning and induced sleep deprivation. And just for the record, I see nothing wrong with releasing the detailed techniques of the torture, beheadings, rape, and forced indoctrination of Islamic extremist groups. Oh how libs love finding dirt on the U.S. military, the police, the Border Security Agents, the evil U.S. foreign policy, of course Israel’s violent occupation of Palestine, details of U.S.’s evil history of genocide, slavery, imperialism, but then lets ignores the actions of Islamic Jihadists, the drug cartel at the border, the anarchist and communist involvement in “Occupy Wall Street” and Ferguson protests, the strategies of Hamas, and the criminal attacks against police officers. I’ve heard a rumor that one time an aggressive black man did physically attack a white police officer.

Zano: The Torture Report is a distraction? Real stuff is such a distraction these days. It gets in the way of all the bullshit, doesn’t it? Liberals focus on cleaning up our own house first and rightly so. We torture and they torture…uh, but we shouldn’t. Plain and simple. Both sides slant, but only one side consistently lies. Oh, and let’s try comprehensive immigration reform and end the War on Drugs. Then you will solve this border problem. Granted, some things are ideologically driven on the left, but almost EVERYTHING is ideologically driven from the right. I think that’s my summary of today’s media. Is it possible MSNBC will sink further? Sadly, yes. The dip in MSNBC’s coverage has not gone unnoticed. See my last post, in fact, see our last debate. Oh, and our crazy liberal prez just wrote another blank check to Wall Street. So we do need to Occupy, and now.

Pokey: It’s not about sides and slants, it’s about people who are abusing power right now. Back to my point with the Benghazi wherein a “reprehensible video caused a spontaneous protest.” The people who pushed that purposely presented an unclear narrative. Similarly, the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative was politically motivated and untrue. The people who called the Fort Hood attacks “workplace violence” knew as well…. and another thing, no members of the White House were sent to the funerals of victims of the Fort Hood. Members of the White House were sent to the funeral of Michael Brown.

Zano: Did Bush send members of the White House to the funeral of those he tortured to death? Sure propaganda has reached untenable levels and I agree liberals have their slant of events, but I remain focused on the biggest offenders. As it turns out in Benghazi, after catching the guy we know it was a little of both, the video and a planned attack. So the truth apparently has nothing do with a good false-false narrative. So the worst thing Obama did was start a false narrative that turned out to be true? They hang people for that, uh, back in the deep south.

Pokey: I was concerned with Obama’s Reverend Wright and Bill Ayer connections, and I was uneasy about him marketing himself as a spiritual savior and all of his clueless ‘true believers’ evangelizing his cause. Nevertheless, on inauguration day I felt proud to be an American. Two hundred years ago black people were enslaved in this nation with no hope of directing their future in any way; and now here we are with a black man elected President of the United States; and I did hope that he would truly lead us beyond race and political polarization so that people would truly be judged by the content of the character. But from the start, he exploited racial issues for his own political gain, oftentimes at the expense of truth and justice. President Obama and Eric Holder decided to give the New Black Panthers a pass after a video showed that they had deprived would-be white voters of their civil rights on Election Day. And then there is the ‘Al Sharpton’ business. Reverend Wright and Sharpton are blatant racists. “Oh, Barack Obama is different; he’s the post racial President.” But what’s the difference between Reverend Wright and Al Sharpton? More than anything else, President Obama will be judged by history for his failed opportunity to unite our nation.

Zano: Those two yahoos in Philadelphia again? Another perfect example of a singular/weird incident overshadowing a systemic attempt by republicans at voter suppression. Two verses two million votes, but who’s counting? Certainly not republicans. Math isn’t their core curriculum anymore. You’re always focusing on the lesser of two evils.

And, sure Obama didn’t vet his preacher, but McCain didn’t vet his VP candidate. I can avoid Reverend Wrong by avoiding church. Palin, meanwhile, could see the presidency from her house. And Obama ran as a uniter but the Minority Leader on the right, Bitch McConnell, made it his priority to obstruct from day one. Once atheism is more common, politicians won’t have to pretend to believe in God anymore. Problem solved.

Besides, this torture thing is happening right now. Check out this old Bush video here. Everything our former president said about enhanced interrogation techniques was a lie. This isn’t some nuanced slant or some grand conspiracy to bring down whitey. Our president tortured, then lied about it. I really think the stuff I identify ends up being epic and directly involves politicians and you are all too happy to entertain right-wing conspiracy theories.

Granted, there’s something to what you say about media coverage. Guilt by omission has become their M.O. and I also agree that sending al Sharpton to Ferguson was a mistake, but I don’t see this laundry list of missteps that you and your ilk are busy inventing. MSNBC’s coverage on all these subjects, at the end of the day, is still called journalism. The other side’s antics are simply not. Sorry, but torture trumps Obama’s fairly sensible handling of Ferguson.

Pokey: You’re changing the subject again, oh shock. Obama is not a stupid man. He chose his soldiers wisely, aka: “I can no more denounce Reverend Wright than I can denounce the black community.”

…well, until Reverend Wright said, “He ain’t no savior; he’s just another politician.” That day he became Reverend who? What happened in Fort Hood and Benghazi is what George Orwell described in 1984.

Zano: 1984 is an excellent album, except for Panama. I will not stand here idly and watch you bad mouth one of the greatest rock bands of all time!

Pokey: You don’t even like Van Halen.

Zano: I concede that point, but Orwellian? Geesh. You’re thinking of republicans. Libs are pointing out systemic problems while republicans are too busy creating them. The vast majority of liberals are trying to make this country better, not tear it apart. And I think when you have a cop not even indicted for strangling a guy on the street—for the lamest resisting arrest moment ever, or, a country that throws the Geneva conventions out the window—uh, I think this liberal slant may have a point. Liberals will continue to focus on racism, some historical mistakes, and some cultural trauma. It doesn’t make them un-American. These are real toxins that need to be hashed out, and I encourage peaceful protest of these systemic issues.

Pokey: This is about the priority to which stories and policies gain attention. Is there racism is this country? Of course, but hasn’t our nation made phenomenal progress in the area of race? Why is “American racism” the number one subject on our culture’s mind right now, when vowed enemies of our nation blatantly (and I’m not talkin’ accidental death during law enforcement confrontations; I’m talking premeditated, announced to the world, and with pride) murder and publically execute people on the basis of their race and religion right now as we speak?

Any concluding arguments will have to wait as I need to fly my Learjet to both the post office and the bank today. Sorry…well, not really.

Polarization Nation Watch

Mick Zano

I want all eleven members of the Zano Nation to pull out your pens, your Microsoft Word programs, and your inhalant-ready-markers (IRMs). There’s going to be a test. We are now officially a divided country and for those coming late to the party, fear not, I already have a solution. Gin! But we must garnish this batch of fermented junipery goodness with the pimento-filled olives of Freedom! Shaken not slurred. Yes, the Discordian Zanofesto has arrived, just in time for Christmas.

First, let us delegate the appropriate blame for our divided country:

“Republicans have moved further away from the center than Democrats. The graph below shows a histogram of the House and Senate distributions in the current 113th Congress…There is a clear hump on the right that is comprised of mostly new members of Congress like Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY).”

congressional Polarization Histogram
Quote and graph from Voteview blog.

The real reason republicans are to blame for our polarization involves the last three thousand news cycles. And, yes, the Congress that proved far lazier than any do-nothing-congress in history just won the midterms, seriously. This is the alternate universe in which we must all now reside. I admit the mainstream media is sliding down to Fox levels. I can’t even watch MSNBC anymore as they shift further ideologyward. They are a reaction to Fox News, but simply the wrong kind. I predicted, long ago, creating a Fox-left would be an abysmal failure. The likes of MSNBC doesn’t somehow vindicate the right, it just means the left is starting to catch up on the suck-o-meter.

Congressional Polarization

I’ve already posted this graph. It suggests republicans have been shifting further and further batshitward since the Rutherford B. Hayes Administration:

Historical Slogan Flashback (1887): a kettle in every kitchen.

Why this ongoing rightward drift? Where’s the positive reinforcement that tells people, “yeah we want more of that magic”? In part, it’s certainly the fear of becoming a browner nation, here, but that’s not the whole picture. Are there any graphable advantages to conservative policies?

“I’m not a graphamatician, but bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.”

—John Q. Republican

Republicans are good at taking trends that they’re responsible for, like the growing disparity of wealth, and flipping the script and re-designate the blame. “It got only worse under Obama!” Riiiight. The stimulus went mostly to the rich, but it did narrowly avoid utter disaster. And at least Dems try to create policies that address our nation’s problems. The GOP hides these problems under endless layers of crapola. Or sometimes conservatives simply focus on one element of our economy, taken out of context. It’s a sad but effective approach. I think I do understand their dilemma. I wouldn’t want to remember things accurately if I were them either, but, to be clear, this nation will not survive a republican resurgence. Hell, we may not survive under a Dem—as I’ve said all along, our entire financial system is on borrowed time post Bush. More Zano hyperbole?

economic Recovery

 “Much more than a series of descending lines can really convey. If it’s right, it means that the Great Recession has made us permanently poorer. That the economy will never get back to its pre-crisis trend. Instead, it will stay stuck in a “new normal” of slow growth that feels like a slump—forever.”

—Larry Summers

The new norm is something I have been talking about for over a decade. So a Cliff may well be the new Norm. Sorry, that’s a Cheers’ joke. The GOP will say they have the answers, but history says otherwise. I still maintain general elections will elude these whacko-doodles. In the end this extremism will ultimately hurt them, in fact, I’m counting on it.

“The more the party is rewarded for extremism, the more extremist the party will be. GOP primary voters didn’t nominate pragmatic centrists to run in Senate races this year; they nominated very conservative candidates who are arguably to the right of the median in the current Republican Senate conference.”

Steve Benen

Any shift toward republican moderation in recent elections has been greatly exaggerated. There is a faction of our society becoming radicalized, here, and this is a trend that will likely continue in this polarized environment. Sure it hasn’t reached ethnic cleansing levels but liberals and conservatives prefer to associate with and live near their fellow partisans.

“They would be unhappy if their children married someone with a different political viewpoint. The result isn’t just polarized politics, but a divided society where liberals and conservatives increasingly keep apart.”

Nate Cohn, NYT

There are some who still believe most people remain in some moderate middlesylvania:

“We can argue about the size of the political center in the United States since the answer depends on various ways of measuring it, but whichever measure one chooses, the conclusion is the same: the country as a whole is no more polarized than it was a generation ago.”

Morris Fiorina

Two words, Morris, D-Nial. Sure there’s still a disenfranchised middle, but how long will that last? It’s time to choose sides, in fact, it’s long overdue. I am optimistic that eventually even republicans will not be able to successfully bend reality to their will. Their truth is already twisted into a pretzel that would make Plastic Man wince. Eventually society will demand to see the man behind the curtain, aka, Ted Cruz jerking off to Atlas Buggered.

I want to remind folks, I’m not against basic conservative causes and values. I grew up in a conservative household. I just want a healthy republican party that’s still linked to reality. We have nothing of the sort today, which is not good for our country. Andrew Sullivan championed this cause long ago with his book The Conservative Soul.  He gave up on this premise and is essentially a liberal now. It’s really hard to see where the GOP has helped. In many ways Reagan was a terrible president. He birthed a lot of the stuff that’s blowing up in our faces today, but, yes, I agree he was their best. Their best just sucks real bad.

Can republicans regain their ability to reason? Will things settle down? I gave up on that premise, long ago. If they could absorb things they would understand how voting against their own self-interests is just that.  They could point to a whole host of liberal policies that helped them at one time or another: from bankruptcy laws, to food stamps, to expanded healthcare, to protection for the mentally ill, to wage equality. But I maintain it’s very difficult to find a conservative policy that has ever helped anyone except the Mr. Burnses of the world. Their policies are all designed to keep the super-rich, super richier. I know that’s sounds like all-or-none thinking, but is there an example I’m missing? There must be one, right? Hit the contact button and let me know what I’ve missed.

Is every republican governor or legislator useless and dangerous? No. But their underlying ideology is disturbing and their next generation of candidates seem even less insightful. So I am creating a new Transcosmetic Party to counter the Dem supermajority to come, which is all part of my Zanofesto! Okay, I haven’t really written it yet, but I do have a good start:

Pee The Weople…

Fine, I’ll work on that.

Interview With the Zanblogger

Cokie McGrath

The Discord’s CEO Pierce Winslow asked me to hunt down Mick Zano to conduct an important interview. The boss-man is based out of Philly and he wants to get to the bottom of some recent disturbing trends occurring here in the southwest. He’s worried about some of Zano’s cryptic emails, his strange business receipts, the lack of viable material and his increased bail requests. It begs the question, has Zano completely lost his mind after the midterms? So I agreed to track him down and get some answers, for a small fee.

CM: Thanks for meeting with me today, Mr. Zano.

MZ: We’re usually here on Tues—

CM: (Ahem…) Let’s start with current events. They’re saying Obama’s executive order on immigration is the biggest power grab ever.

MZ: It was a bold move but Bush and Reagan did similar solo immigration things. Socialists! Jonathon Chait summarizes things wonderfully, here.  lf you recall, these other changes occured minus the whole End of Freedom rhetoric. I didn’t support Obama’s decision to act alone, precisely because of the focus on executive orders, the Constitution, and all this imperial presidency stuff. Post Bush the president did gain some clear leeway to act unilaterally, on anything, but this needs to be reined in.

CM: So you’re a Tea Partier now?

MZ: Hardly. In fact, if more people like them try to defend the Constitution we might as well burn that shit right now. Although, I must admit to being conflicted. Lately I’m all too willing to support any move on Obama’s part that further weakens Republicans. They remain our biggest challenge.

CM: Even if it means violating the Constitution?

MZ: No, but I do get Marshall Law flashbacks. We do forgo some rights during times of great crisis and an argument can be made that the Republican Party’s current Scheissgeist constitutes such a crisis. Their unwillingness to do anything except bring down our president is disturbing. But I’m still going to resist any moves that further expand executive power. I fear if a Republican becomes president in the near future, whatever the hell we quilled on parchment back in the day will be moot. That’s my declaration of an independent.

CM: The border situation is a humanitarian crisis. Doesn’t that matter?

MZ: I am pro-immigration reform, but we just got our asses handed to us in the midterms. Hey, I have an idea, maybe more than four Hispanics should have voted last week. Besides this is a Band-Aid. We need real reform. I’m not happy about the prospect of ignoring this crisis either, but we need to win elections.

CM: So why didn’t Congress act on immigration?

MZ: That’s like saying, why didn’t they let the Discord-gang stay longer on trivia night.

CM: Trivia night didn’t end well.

MZ: Yeah, and they asked us to stay.

CM: They won’t do that again, but back to the lack of action in Congress.

MZ: I guess it’s because the family-first people want to tear families apart, uh, in the name of Jesus. Don’t ask me to get inside their heads. They’re batshit. Obama went to Boehner asking for a bill and he failed, yet again. But we still have a system of checks and balances in place, as infuriating as that might seem when Republicans are involved. We need to beat them at the ballot box, until then the misery will continue, in all directions as far as the eye can see. But wasn’t it Jesus who said blessed are the shit kickers?

CM: I always found your stuff entertaining, until this interview, but you did get the midterms wrong. The GOP is on the march and yet here you are still focusing your energy on their epitaph.

MZ: Longer term trends look bad for Republicans. They’re deeply divided—not on anything meaningful, mind you—but they’re just further fragmenting into ever more extreme versions of themselves. I think the Republicans will eventually become so batshit that even the not-fully-engaged average voter will be forced to take notice. Trust me on this one. I just worry it’s going to take too long. A growing societal insight may be wishful thinking on my part but the long term voter demographic trends alone will spell doom for the Republicans. They will spell it wrong of—

CM: You’ve done that one before.

MZ: Right.

CM: Let’s say I don’t agree with you on this one. The GOP isn’t going anywhere.

MZ: Well, those brainwashed aren’t, that’s for sure. But they won’t return to power, at least on a presidential level until some major reforms. The alternative is…well, that’s the stuff of nightmare.

CM: You remain a staunch supporter of the president and yet Obama remains deeply unpopular. How are you right and everyone else is wrong?

MZ: Therein hangs the tale.  But why do you think the Obama presidency is such a failure?

CM: Congress.

MZ: Okay, let’s pretend you never studied.  Why does your average citizen think Obama is such a failure?

CM: Obamacare?

MZ: That’s part of it and yet every element of the ACA is popular when polled separately. It’s surpassing all expectations for enrollments, it’s linked to decreasing overall healthcare costs, hospital administrators love it, pre-existing conditions, blah blah, blah, so why is Obama’s signature achievement suddenly the kiss of death panels?

CM: I’m supposed to ask the questions. 

MZ: Well, why else is he demonized?

CM: Fine. He’s had all these supposed scandals.

MZ: Let’s forget you said ‘supposed’ for a moment. This week we just concluded our 457th Benghazi hearing and learned nothing more than we already knew from day one, aka the place needed better security (committee’s lack of findings here). This won’t stop the witch hunts, nothing will. I guess all of the dozens of embassy attacks under Bush had sufficient security…right before they exploded. Feigned outrage, like Benghazi, has successfully painted a picture of both scandal and incompetence. Oh, and did I mention Republicans cut embassy security two years before Benghazi? When there’s a real problem, look to a Republican policy. I think a special Benghazi tax should be paid by all registered Republicans. You want to start being fiscally conservative? Why not start there? Let’s start tracking every time a Fox lie costs the tax payer money.

CM: I do remember you always saying this was a sham.

MZ: And now where are those Republican voices saying “we’re really sorry we led you on this two year journey of meaningless bullshit”? They are almost never right and yet they’re the ones who don’t bother with retractions. Hell, I do more than they do and I’m a spoof guy. I guess if you purge the bullshit from the GOP there’ll be nothing left. But let’s give them credit, their false reality had real consequences for seats. Ebola! ISIS! Amnesty! Fear!

CM: How could this incompetent bunch pull something like this off?

MZ: They’re well-funded and their using propaganda 101 to a tee. Fear motivates. There are also some educational problems in this country that they’re capitalizing on. Why it’s working is really the interesting part, at least from a psychological standpoint. On Obama’s inauguration day I predicted The GOP would try to create a Bush-Left.  That’s exactly what they’ve done. In the context of Obama’s arrival, which I always like to remind everyone involved a global economic collapse and two wars, why didn’t they try to help? The fact they had nothing better to do from day one than obstructionism makes them…um, for lack of a better term, assholes.

CM: You did kind of admit that Obama is as bad as Bush.

MZ: What? When? History won’t agree and yet somehow this is common “wisdom” today. But we forgot one, the economy. Everything is going fairly well right now but Republicans have this delusion that we could be doing much, much better.

CM: Okay, you’re going back to the demonization of Obama. So couldn’t we be doing much better?

MZ: Hell no. As our global economic system continues to split at the seams, I would love to hear some viable plans. Republicans are kind of forgetting how, post Bush, this world market of ours is continuing to flounder, as predicted—kind of like Iraq was lost the day we invaded, as predicted.

CM: Show off.

MZ: Bottom line is, many Americans sense our whole system is in trouble, and they’re right. They just aren’t very good at assigning blame. Republicans have capitalized on their mistakes. I don’t think our economy will ever be the same, post Bush, but since we’ve managed the strongest recovery in the West, Obama deserves some credit. All economic indicators improved drastically under Obama during a very difficult period.

CM: You always talk about the historical context.

MZ: Yes, this stuff is lost on Republicans. Most facts are.

CM: So you’re pessimistic?

MZ: Not necessarily, I have a lot of hope—not for super capitalism, or Republicanism, or our current culture, but for those people willing to embrace the next steps. There’s stuff we can still do to make a better future for future generations.

CM: Like what?

MZ: That’s a loaded question, but I don’t see how blind consumerism survives much longer. I would like to shift to sustainable energies and then to sustainable communities.  This is our moon shot, but we can’t even address this because half our country is not allowed to see the perils we face.

CM: Why do you think that is? Okay, I think I know.

MZ: You do, because Exxon and the Kochs and the like have successfully purchased the brains and votes of nearly half our country.

CM: Others would say you are blinded by the benefits of big government.

MZ: I disagree. I don’t go into anything, including the ACA, blindly. But it’s much harder to see where a Dem-created policy has hurt us in the 21st century, unless you’re lying. The creation of Homeland Security, the NSA, the CIA, these are rogue agencies and, whereas both parties are responsible. It’s hard to see how Dems are more to blame for them.

CM: Obama expanded NSA wiretapping.

MZ: Yes, because we voted for this shit. As it turns out, we’re not horribly bright. Obama’s only scandal is how he is covering for these rogue agencies as well as the last administration’s torture. This doesn’t really resonate in the Fox-lands because on some level even they understand their own culpability.

CM: So Benghazi.

MZ: Right, Republicans are not permitted to discuss real issues and they somehow seem fine with this new reality.

CM: So what are they missing? What are your concerns for 2015?

MZ: Trivia night, I don’t think we’ll ever be—

CM: It’s true, I talked to Sharon. We should skip that for a month or two. I’m talking about national concerns.

MZ: I guess one of my main points remains how Republicans aren’t even “permitted” to see the real problems of our time. They are snowed on an impressive level.

CM: And if it snows, then there’s no global warming?

MZ: Good one! Exactly, and let’s not forget overpopulation, limited resources, mass extinctions, Monsanto, the disparity of wealth, poor education; these are the real problems of our time. And all this is happening while The GOP attempts to dismantle the EPA and the FDA. It’s insane, and history will damn them for it.

CM: They would say radical Islam is the biggest issue. Doesn’t that make the list?

MZ: Sure it does. Liberals are a bit too blind in this area, but their leaders aren’t. Hillary is way to hawkish for my tastes and even Obama, try as he may, is being sucked into this chaos too.

CM: You didn’t support action on ISIS?

MZ: I did, but degrade from the air. Screw putting our folks in harm’s way. The Middle East needs to start giving a shit about its own messes and that won’t happen if we keep trying to contain their own crazies for them. Besides, we have our own crazies to deal with in this country.

CM: Republicans? But you’re not conflating Christianity with radical Islam, are you?

MZ: No, Christians are generally at the upper end of the fundamentalism spectrum but too many Muslims are at the low end and are very tribal. It’s a problem, for sure. The recent interview with Sam Harris and Ben Affleck on Bill Maher captures the essence of both party’s blind spots.

CM: The right thinks all Muslims are jihadists and liberals defend all Muslims to a fault.

MZ: Bingo! Maher couldn’t even read a poll about Muslim beliefs without a massive liberal backlash. On the other hand, I think everything Republicans have done to quell this jihad tide has made things much worse. Besides, some of these other problems I mentioned will get you long before some ISIS-type, well unless we go broke amidst another avoidable war (See: alternate universe McCain Administration).

CM: One last thing, I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned the Keystone Pipeline. Isn’t this an important issue?

MZ: Not really, like our crowd on trivia night, it’s a mixed bag. Republicans are lying about it being a job creator—sure it will create some temp work, but why not just get a job at Best Buy for Christmas? But Dems are ignoring the fact other modes of oil transportation are far more dangerous to the environment. This shit-oil, that probably should have stayed put, may now have to travel further on a tanker. Lovely. Ultimately we need that moon shot away from fossil fuels which the Keystone only exacerbates. Eventually questionable extractions of fossil fuels will be globally illegal, but we’re not there yet. This makes little sense to a Republican, which is your first clue it’s true.

CM: Republicans would say eventually the free market will get us to sustainable energies.

MZ: Yeah, that’s the same thing the Republicans on Mars once said. We don’t have the time to get every greedy asshole on board. In fact, they are actually actively fuzzing the subject so they can keep raping the planet. I remain amazed that some relatively smart people on the right are fooled by these tactics.

CM: Okay, I’m really here because Winslow wants to know what happened in Vegas last week. No material, yet he received, and I quote, “A slew of suspicious business receipts.”

MZ: Ahhhhh, I think you’re only really here, Cokie, because this is your favorite brewpub. Oh, and you can tell Winslow to—

You know I read this stuff before posting, right Zano?

Charlie Manson Upgrades Forehead Tattoo

Charlie Manson Upgrades Forehead Tattoo

Corcoran State Prison, CA—In a move that many are calling overdue, mass murderer Charles Manson is finally changing his toon about his tat.  This will not change the minds of the California parole board and, as Manson attests, is not even an indication he’s moving away from Neo-Nazism. Manson describes the original tattoo as a symbol misunderstanding made long ago.

“I found out this thing that’s been on my forehead for over half a century is actually the ancient Hindu symbol for well-being,” said Manson. “Can you believe that shit? Talk about a slap in the face. It’s enough to make a guy want to spit, which is really one of the only things to do here in prison.”

When asked about the decision about his upgrade, Manson said, “I had one rule. I wanted something that could in no way be misconstrued as any kind of symbol for well-being. Klingons are never going to be confused with anything mamby pampy. I’ve been in jail forever and if anyone knew the real meaning of my tattoo I could have been in real trouble in here.”

The Klingon home world is thus far nonplussed by the gesture.

Manson hopes the Klingons will change their minds about the aged psychopath. “I want the Klingons to all be part of my family and I really want to be part of theirs as well, I mean if I have any shot at an afterlife it’s Stro-vo-kor or bust.”

No deceased Klingons were available for comment.