“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Things That Kinda Bother Me

Well friends I haven’t written much lately. Sorry about that. Between my computer dying again and my morbid fascination with Trent Lott apology speeches I haven’t had much time for anything. Admittedly I’ve had my own Brian DePalma fest here since I saw the great FEMME FATALE but I don’t feel like I have much to say about those pictures other than OBSESSION, SISTERS, DRESSED TO KILL and BLOW OUT are all pretty good.

I hope you’ll understand. I would update this fucker every day if I could, but only if I thought I could do a good job. I’d rather let this thing collect dust than get in a routine of adding garbage that’s not very inspired. Which some would argue is what I do anyway, but fuck them.

I did get started on a column called “THINGS THAT KINDA BOTHER ME,” and thankfully one of those things has now been somewhat rectified: that Bush appointed Henry fucking Kissinger as head of the “independent” 9-11 commission.

Fortunately Kissinger decided to step down after he realized he was gonna have to either release a list of his clients to prove he had no conflicts of interest, or be at the center of a national 9-11 related controversy. And that’s really not something you want to do when you are already wanted for questioning in several countries, being sued for arranging a murder and also the subject of an acclaimed documentary making the rounds about how you’re a war criminal.

But before we move on let’s stop to consider what all this means. First of all, why wouldn’t he release the list? Was it because it did show obvious conflicts of interest (like his suspected connections to the Saudi royal family) so he figured he should just get it over with? And/or did he have other clients he had to hide in order to protect himself on all those war crimes charges?

Also, can you fucking believe the Bush administration tried to defend Kissinger when he said he wouldn’t release his list of clients? They argued that because Kissinger was only working part time and not for a salary, he was not legally obligated to make disclosures. In other words, they chose a legal loophole over a genuine independent commission.

And what does it say that they chose Kissinger in the first place? Even if they really truly don’t think he did anything wrong in his involvement in Watergate, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, East Timor, etc. (which is a scary idea in itself), it’s not like they don’t know that most of the world feels that way. O.J. Simpson was found innocent of murder, but they would never try to get him on Hollywood Squares. So you see, they put more thought, care and good taste into choosing guests on Hollywood Squares than the Bush Administration does in choosing their investigation into the biggest terrorist attack in american history. Go america.

More on Kissinger:

Regarding Henry Kissinger – http://www.harpers.org/online/kissinger_forum/?pg=1
Manhattan’s Milosivic – http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0133/ridgeway.php
The Trial of Henry Kissinger – http://www.trialofhenrykissinger.org/
Henry Kissinger: Unindicted Terrorist – http://www.eclipse.net/~tgardnet/kiss/kisskill.html

I still got two “THINGS THAT KINDA BOTHER ME” on the list that will be haunting us longer than Kissinger, though. I guess the most nightmarish one is this Total Information Awareness. Now, maybe it’s just me. But to me, IMHO, it seems KIND OF uncomfortable when I know that the Bush administration is letting a five time Iran-Contra felon convicted of lying to Congress organize a huge database keeping track of every american’s purchases, travels, e-mails, web surfing, etc. to decide if they’re terrorists or not. Maybe I am being a Paranoid Conspiracy Nut to say this, but that seems SLIGHTLY big brotherish to me. Personally.

Maybe it’s just the SPOOKY PYRAMID EYEBALL LOGO that does it, I don’t know.

Now yes, I understand that they have promised on their mother’s graves not to EVER use this information to blackmail enemies, to harass activists like the FBI did Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, or to spy on democrats, or to help out corporate sponsors with a little state of the art industrial espionage. And I mean when Poindexter was convicted of lying to congress, yes he also swore then but I mean he was younger then. It was a more naive time. He was only experimenting. Mistakes were made. Plus, he was PARDONED by Bush, Sr., because he was “a patriot.” So he’s innocent.

But the truth is I’m not even as worried about those obvious nefarious aspects that YOU FUCKING KNOW will lead to many huge scandals years from now and we won’t even know about the big ones. What I’m really worried about is the uses for this database that they are openly admitting to. For example I have read that they are going to use algorithms to study the patterns of terrorist transactions to create a profile for the terrorist lifestyle. Months before this TIA plan became public, grocery store chains were already giving up records from their Safeway Club Cards and what not to help fight terrorism by keeping track of how many frozen pizzas and tampons you’ve bought.

Well, if the computer thinks you’ve had an unamerican amount of frozen pizza and may be a terrorist, no problem, right? If you’re innocent they will discover that soon enough, they’ll shake your hand, give you some coupons or something and it’ll all be over. Well, maybe back when we had the constitution. But now we have the USA PATRIOT act. It would be perfectly legal for you to be branded a terrorist by a computer, then secretly locked up indefinitely with no charges or access to a lawyer. Eventually you could be tried by a military tribunal and even executed without your family knowing about it. The only thing preventing that from happening is the consciences of the Bush administration. But I wouldn’t recommend leaning up against that particular wall.

The other thing I’ve been KINDA BOTHERED by lately is also a computer. It’s this whole idea of computerized voting. I cannot fucking believe that people are buying into this idea that a computer is the way to solve the problems we had in Florida. If you’re worried about chads, just move to the fill-in-the-circles method that most places have. No, instead we’re going to push a button on a magic box and assume what comes out the other side is the truth.

What easier way to fix an election than to reprogram the computer that tells you who won? I truly believe this is already happening because otherwise the makers of the voting machines would allow the code to be studied by outsiders. Instead, they guard the code as a “trade secret.”

Fuck that, you’re fired. Most of these companies are owned by big time Republican donors, which is worrisome anyway. If we’re going to do this the code HAS TO be open to examination. But it’s not.

Even if you don’t buy that this has happened already, do you really believe that it won’t? Or what about computer bugs? Think about all the trouble you have every christmas when somebody gives you some new software or something and you’re trying to install it, and you have to sit there one the phone for hours with some tech support guy typing away and telling you to try this and this and this.

Think of the trouble you’ve had with your cable. Or your phone company. Or your bank. You really don’t think there are going to be mistakes made?

Please, read up on the subject. It turns out that the computerized counting of votes has been causing problems for decades. But at least there used to be paper to recount if there were suspicions. In this last election, big clumps of votes mysteriously appeared and reappeared, with no explanation or reassurance that the count was accurate. And strangely, Florida didn’t have exit polls, so there is no data at all to compare to who the computer says won.

ATTENTION HACKERS: This is your chance to save democracy. In the next election, give a major race to a libertarian or a green. When that happens the whole country will know something is wrong and they will look into this computerized election nonsense.

Finally, this wasn’t going into that previous column, but I want to give my take on this Trent Lott controversy. I gotta admit, I am loving this. This guy did not “make a mistake”. The only mistake he made was saying it out loud. This asshole has kept his white supermacist tendencies out of the limelight for decades, it’s good to see him squirming on a BET special. Finally something to cheer us up.

I’ve heard people on talk radio trying to defend him. And of course that pussy Tom “they sent me anthrax and I still want to kiss their ass” Daschle quickly defended him. But you know what, you don’t accidentally slip up and say that you are proud that your state voted for a segregationist protest candidate in 1948 and that if he had won that america would not have had “all these problems.” Not if you don’t really believe that.

You mean to say “hand out” and you accidentally say “hand job”… sure, that can happen.

You accidentally say fuck in front of your grandma. An honest mistake.

But no, you don’t accidentally say that you are proud that your state voted for a segregationist protest candidate in 1948 and that if he had won that america would not have had “all these problems.” There is no other way to mean that, no innocent way to say it.

Yeah yeah, it was a birthday party. It was a raucous mood. I remember that time when I was at a birthday party and I accidentally said that apartheid was a good policy and that I was proud that Dick Cheney had supported it and voted against demanding freedom for Nelson Mandela. I was so embarassed by that slip up!

One good quote I heard to describe this was, “It was not a slip of the tongue, it was a slip of the mask.”

I am pleasantly surprised to find that this has not all blown over. On the first day the media tried to chock it up to those crazy nuts Al and Jesse. Those crazy blacks always making a big deal out of everything, but only because they want attention, ha ha that Jesse Jackson, causin trouble for us whites again.

Then the next day, oh shit, EVERYBODY seems upset about this. It turns out, even white people today are against segregation. This might be a story!

A week later, Bush says that HE TOO is against segregation. And that segregation was bad!

A day later. Trent Lott calls a press conference to give his second apology. I listened to this live on the radio and I couldn’t stop laughing. Rule of thumb: if it is the year 2002 and you have to call a press conference to announce that you are against segregation, you might have problems. My favorite bit was when he said that he and Strom had a father and son relationship, so it was like sitting on daddy’s lap saying (in baby voice): “Daddy, you woulda made a GOOD pwesident!”

Yeah, maybe if your dad is just some guy. But not if he’s Strom Thurmond. I’m sorry, if your dad actually ran for president in 1948 on a pro segregation and lynching platform, and you did not share his views, you would NOT say that, no matter how comfortable the lap was. And you especially wouldn’t specify that he would’ve made a good president in 1948.

Honestly, I expected Lott to argue that if the supposedly reformed 100 year old Strom could travel back in time to run in place of the pro segregation and lynching Strom of 1948 then he woulda been proud that his state had accidentally voted for the progressive futuristic policies of future Strom instead of the pro segregation and lynching policies they thought they were voting for. That’s what he actually meant, it just came out wrong.

Also he came THIS CLOSE to using the “I have black friends” defense.

And last night was the greatest of all, the BET interview. (transcript here) If all you saw was the “highlights” on the news channels, you missed all the good parts. He did not use the time travel defense, but he DID finally make with the “I have black friends.” He used the term “African American” more times in that interview than he probably ever has in his life, and he was so scared he even claimed to support affirmative action.

I wasn’t familiar with the interviewer, Ed Gordon, and I was worried they’d set Lott up with a pushover. But Gordon was pretty good. He went down a list of civil rights acts Lott had voted against. Lott seemed to be implying that he secretly helps black people in the community despite his voting record, and that he should be judged by these secret actions. He actually travels around the country clandestinely helping people like a one man A-Team, only he only helps black people from the sounds of it.

My favorite part was about voting against the Martin Luther King holiday:

GORDON: Let’s talk about the King holiday.

LOTT: I want to talk about the King holiday. I want to go back to that.

I’m not sure we in America, certainly not white America and the people in the South, fully understood who this man was; the impact he was having on the fabric of this country.

GORDON: But you certainly understood it by the time that vote came up, senator.

LOTT: Well, but …

GORDON: You knew who Dr. King was at that point.

LOTT: I did, but I’ve learned a lot more since then. I want to make this point very clearly.

[in this next part, I like how Lott has to say that he likes Martin Luther King’s nonviolence. He has to specify which part of King he likes. Now. After learning more.]

I have a high appreciation for him being a man of peace, a man that was for nonviolence, a man that did change this country. I’ve made a mistake. And I would vote now for a Martin Luther King holiday.

I assume there are other white people reading this. What do you think. In 1983 did you know who Martin Luther King was?

Anyway, I’ll wrap this up. I think it’s pretty horrifying to have a nutball like this for house majority leader, so I hope he loses that position. But I’m also glad he’s dragging his heels because this is an issue that needs more attention. Sadly, there are still people who believe in this old confederate crap, and somehow most of them seem to end up in public offices. Take John Ashcroft for instance. He has the same kind of history, he’s so hated that he lost an election to a dead man, and he still ended up attorney general. These type of politicians use code words so that the moderates think they’re just talking about crime or “states rights” whatever that is and the nutballs think they’re talking about the n word and in the end everybody is happy, unless they’re not white. And if they say anything hey it’s just Al and Jesse, gettin’ all crazy over nothin’ again. Why can’t they leave us whites alone?

I don’t know, I don’t live in the south so I don’t know what it’s like. But up here it’s easy to forget that there are still attitudes like this in this day and age. Thanks Trent Lott, you asshole, for your accidental awareness campaign. May the door hit ya where the Lord split ya.

–Vern

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 17th, 2002 at 6:31 pm and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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