I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

The Republican National Convention, plus a special bonus column

Well the republicans are in New York now, trying their best to spin half a million protesters outside (and that number is confirmed by a police source, according to the New York Times) into a small, friendly disagreement among intellectuals. Liberals are supposedly apathetic, but here we have the largest protest in the history of political conventions. No big whoop. Rudy Gulianni is trying to say it only proves that Bush is a good leader, because he sticks by his obviously bad decisions even after the public turns against them.

(And even when the public, and the world, was against it before he ever did it. Rudy didn’t mention that part but if you remember what happened in the real world then I guess it’s implied.)

I gotta be honest, I haven’t watched too much footage of this convention with the sound on, because I was planning to eat today. But I’ve seen a few interesting things. #1, they got this whole fake republican news channel thing. I was watching on C-SPAN and suddenly it turned into the fake news. They showed a long republican infomercial on the screen there in Madison Square Garden, so they had to show it on C-SPAN too, and it took them a minute to figure out to put “RNC Video” on the bottom of the screen. (That’s okay, people aren’t that dumb.)

This is absolutely mindboggling because you realize that for the Republicans, Fox News is apparently not fake enough. They got a blond woman who looks plastic enough that if you saw her in a movie you’d think it was too exaggerated. She holds a microphone that says “RNC” and goes around and interviews old veterans on aircraft carriers with tough questions about just exactly how super awesome America and freedom are. Then they show heroic montages of Bush making speeches interspersed with shots of helicopters. Because helicopters are awesome.

For some reason they forgot to use the “Mission Accomplished” aircraft carrier clip. I’m not sure why. That was weird.

If any of you ever watched WWF wrestling, you remember how some of the wrestlers had these fake TV shows within wrestling. Hey everybody, it’s time for “Piper’s Pit,” and Roddy Piper has a little talk show set built inside the arena and he interviews people. This is the same kind of thing, it’s a fake TV show within a political convention. Roddy Piper was more hardhitting though I thought. He was a good interviewer.

The other interesting thing I noticed, they got delegates wearing band-aids with a picture of a purple heart on it. This is not a reference to Lucky Charms but in fact an attack on John Kerry. The premise is of course that John Kerry is a big puss. Oh boo hoo, I got shrapnel boo hoo, give baby a medal just because he went off to fight a bullshit war and came back with a piece of metal permanently implanted in his leg. Sissy.

I was thinking man, I can’t believe the nerve of these people that while blowing smoke up veteran’s asses all day long they are wearing a wacky emblem saying that medals are for pussies. But then I saw them interview a gal that was wearing one and she explained that oh no, we love the military and all the troops and veterans. But John Kerry got a purple heart for nothing. In every single other instance, everybody deserved their medals and are brave and love freedom and America forever and the baby eagle. But John Kerry, I don’t know how it happened but somehow in this one single isolated incident, it was weird but the system had a freak one-time-only catastrophic breakdown and gave him a medal for a little scratch. But everyone else with a medal except John Kerry, they are the greatest heroes who ever lived and it brings tears to my eyes just to think of them. Hell, even when I DON’T think of them it brings tears to my eyes. BECAUSE I LOVE EVERY SINGLE GOD DAMN SOLDIER except Kerry is a liar/pussy/communist etc. Only him though thanks otherwise USA rules forever go Bush.

The whole Discredited Swift Boat Veterans For Bush campaign is obviously a load of horseshit. Not just because none of their stories hold water, and not just because Bush pretends to have nothing to do with it while all his associates help out and his own wife and father and delegates go on TV defending the campaign.

(And by the way, please don’t fall for their trick of changing it into a debate about 527 groups. It has nothing to do with how they file their taxes, it has to do with the ads themselves. We are not against 527 groups, we are against you having your buddies make ads with a bunch of Nixon-era wackos making up phoney stories about what John Kerry did 35 years ago. Stories that many of them contradicted until less than a year ago.)

No, it’s not just all that stuff. It’s also the fact that WHO CARES IF JOHN KERRY IS A WAR HERO OR NOT? Even if any one of your obviously phoney, completely discredited by witnesses, military documents and your own previous statements fairy tales were true, it sure wouldn’t change my mind. What most Americans agree with is not what he did in the war, but what he did after the war. You know Kerry was not my first choice, but one thing I really do like about him is the statement he made to congress when he came back and joined the anti-war veterans groups. A statement about why the war was wrong, the horrible things that it led the soldiers to do and the pathetic way the veterans were treated by the government when they came back.

It is this side of John Kerry that these nuts are going to go after next, and there are two reasons for that:

  1. These are the type of people who really believe that the Vietnam War was correct and that if we would’ve just kept killing a few more years we would’ve won. And Rambo never would’ve had to go nuts in that small town OR go back to Vietnam and save the POWs from the Russians or whatever it was. In other words, we are dealing with arguably delusional extremists who the media is willing to interview as if they are reasonable people with good, well thought out points. Their leader, John O’Neill, was actually recruited by the Nixon administration as their pet pro-war Veteran, to debate Kerry on the Dick Cavett show – in other words, his job was to keep the war going. And now we’re supposed to take his advice on what we should do in 2004.Well, thanks for comin in bud, have a nice day, take a lollipop. We’ll call you, don’t call us.

    According to an article in the New York Times, many of the others were supporters of John Kerry until last year when a biography portrayed some of them as being a little too excited about the Vietnam War, obsessed with body counts and the search and destroy philosophy. One of them was compared to Marlon Brando’s character in APOCALYPSE NOW. Is it any surprise that they could be convinced to turn against a fellow veteran whose testimony helped turn public opinion against the war?

  2. Any day now a veteran could come back from Iraq and make a very similar statement to Congress, because all of those things are true about this war too. (Well okay, maybe the part about a veteran coming back from Iraq any day now is stretching it, but otherwise it’s a good theory.)

And you know what, I am sick and tired of these pot-kettle-black type arguments against Kerry.

Let’s pretend Kerry really “only got a scratch.” How does that make him worse than Bush, who didn’t fight and lost his pilot’s license because he couldn’t even be bothered to take a health exam?

And yes, I can hold it against Kerry that he voted for the war resolution. But YOU can’t because you STARTED THE FUCKING WAR.

And I can criticize Kerry for saying that he voted on the resolution thinking it wouldn’t automatically lead to war. But YOU can’t criticize him for that because YOU were the one feeding him that line of bullshit. Remember, “there’s not a plan on my desk,” “war is a last resort,” all that other horseshit? Is that ringing a bell at all?

And how about this “flip flopping.” If you are a reasonable person, and I hope you are, then you can not possibly believe that Kerry is any more of a “flip flopper” than Bush is.

Bush was against homeland security, then he was for it, then he took credit for it.

Bush was against campaign finance reform, then he gave in and signed it, now he pretends he is the McGruff the Crime Dog of 527 Reform.

Bush was against the 9-11 commission, then he was for it, now he takes credit for it. He was against testifying, then he was willing to “visit” for an hour, then he was willing to go for longer I guess but only if Dick Cheney is there and nobody can keep a record of anything that is said because, in the name of freedom and everything.

Bush was against going to the UN about Iraq, then he was for it, then when it failed he was against it again, now he either did a great job by bringing it to the UN or is such a badass he never brings anything to the UN, depending on the position of the stars.

Bush was gonna find Osama bin Laden “DEAD OR ALIVE,” then he said he doesn’t even care where he is because he’s irrelevant. Who cares about some giant dude with a beard dragging a dialysis machine through the caves of Afghanistan. We got taxes to cut.

Yesterday, in a rare moment of honesty, Bush admitted that you really couldn’t “win” a “war on terror” per se. At least not in the traditional military sense. But when democrats jumped on him for that he went back to the whole “MAKE NO MISTAKE, WE WILL WIN AGAINST TERROR, WE WILL PIN TERROR TO THE MAT, WE WILL ATTACH ELECTRODES TO TERROR’S GENITALS AND POSE FOR NOVELTY PHOTOS NEXT TO TERROR” routine.

You hear that? FLIP FLOP!

But that’s just what they do. I mean that’s the whole M.O. of the Bush Regime. You do whatever crazy psychotic madness you can think of, and you keep doing it for as long as you can get away with it. Then, if the public outcry is large enough (and it’s not the Iraq War) you suddenly pull a 180 and pretend to be confused when somebody asks you why you did it. As long as they can get away with Total Information Awareness or The Terror Futures Market or shoveling money into Halliburton or drilling in the Alaskan Wilderness or consolidating all the media, or taking away over time for the biggest paycut in history (yep, they just did that)… whatever it is, they’ll do it, until somebody stops them. Then they’ll pretend everything’s okay for a while and try to do it again later, more quietly.

I guess today the guy from HERCULES GOES BANANAS did a speech. I didn’t see it though. I hope it was as good as his monologue in BATMAN AND ROBIN. Or the one about cumming from PUMPING IRON. Is it just me, or does anybody else still not believe that dude actually got elected governor?

I was watching MSNBC a little bit ago and they got into a heated argument about Vietnam. Joe Scarborough said that there were no atrocities committed in Vietnam. Ron Reagan said, basically, what are you talking about dude, are you fucking serious? Scarborough said “Name one soldier that cut off the ear of a Vietnamese citizen!,” so Ron Reagan did. Scarborough said, “Are you calling him a babykiller? Are you calling him a babykiller?”

It gave me a disturbing thought. People still get in these kind of arguments about Vietnam. Won’t that be great years from now when we get to have those arguments about Iraq too? Great job guys.

One of the themes of the convention seems to be the re-morphing of the Iraq war into “The War on Terror.” Anytime they talk about war they try not to say “Iraq,” and any time they talk about Iraq they refer to it as “the War on Terror.”

Now obviously this has no connection with reality and is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. (Why do you hate America?) The only thing Iraq has to do with terrorism is that we brought it there. A whole fucking lot of it. I’m sure the Iraqis appreciate that.

But my question is, why would you even want to trick people into thinking Iraq was the war on terror? Because by now even the staunchest republicants have figured out how badly these morons bungled the war. So if that’s the war on terror, guys, then sorry, but we’re getting our asses kicked.

Shit, I could go all night, but I’ll cut it off here.

–Vern

SPECIAL BONUS: This is a column I started to write a week and a half ago but didn’t finish. I think there are some good thoughts in there but I don’t want to rewrite them to apply to more current events (I was still talking about the week before the Democratic Convention, for crying out loud) so here it is unfinished.

August 21st, 2004

It’s a tough call but I think maybe of all the sad things during this dirty election season, the saddest one is seeing John McCain up there swallowing hard and saying he, well, supports Bush, hahem. I wonder if there was ever a private moment when McCain got to ask Bush, just to see the look on his face:

Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?

That’s the question that a telephone poll “not” “connected” to the Bush campaign asked people in the South during the 2000 primaries. It’s bad enough to make up lies to appeal to racist voters, but the lie also takes advantage of the dark skin tone of McCain’s daughter, adopted from Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. Just in case that’s not personal enough, they also spread rumors about his wife’s addiction to prescription drugs and made claims about his military record. Sound familiar?

Whenever I see Bush going through a crowd shaking hands, I always fantasize about being the guy who refuses to shake his hand. I’ve never seen it happen but it seems like it would have to. I mean it was easy enough to flip off Cheney, and he’s the #1 guy. It can’t be that hard to leave #2 hanging. Still, it seems like everybody gives in and shakes hands and acts like their his buddy. Even Jesse Jackson, I saw him after the Urban League speech that Bush made to try to make up for not even meeting with the NAACP once during his entire god damned reign of terror. He had been getting some shit for turning down speaking at their convention 3 years in a row. Even fucking Nixon met with these guys. I try to be fair, so at first I figured maybe Bush just didn’t know who they were. He mixed them up with NCAA basketball or something. But that wouldn’t make a lot of sense because the dude met with NASCAR. He’s not above that shit.

Anyway there was Jesse Jackson in the crowd and Bush came up and they shook hands and smiled and who knows what they said to each other. But I was hoping Jesse was able to say something like, “Hey, I never got to thank you for exposing my extra-marital affair in order to shut me up about the racist voter discrimination you used to help steal the election in Florida.”

I mean that’s what we got here, it’s like dealing with the fucking mafia. If you criticize them, they will make up some irrelevant bullshit either from your past or from their imaginations. I don’t care if you’re a political opponent, an ambassador, a member of their own cabinet. I’m surprised they didn’t pull out a smear on the Pope when he opposed the war. If Santa Claus crosses them, they’ll put out ads claiming he doesn’t really deliver to ALL the houses. And he once delivered presents to an Islamic charity believed to have known a guy whose cousin was connected with a guy who was connected with a connection of the guy who connected al Quaeda’s broadband.

By the way, I doubt anybody else was watching C-SPAN at the time but that speech to the Urban League was good entertainment. It was the speech he made before the Democratic Convention, the one Al Sharpton responded to. The basic premise was to ask minorities if the Democratic party has truly served them or if they are being taken for granted. It was kind of clever since these are legitimate questions to be asked by someone who is not a fucking republican. I mean talk about underestimating the intelligence. “Democrats are only taking advantage of you. Come on. Come join the party that threw out your votes in 2000 and then used the equal protection clause to justify it!”

Anyway what made it fun was it was the first time I’ve seen Bush speak where it wasn’t a crowd of carefully selected sycophants. He kept getting smatterings of applause from small portions of the audience. Every once in a while something he’d say would get a decent amount of applause, but then when he made his next pause for applause there would be no response at all. And there were many hilarious reaction shots of people in the audience shaking their heads in disgust, laughing at him, mouthing obscenities, etc. My favorite was when he made a comment about everybody getting out to vote and they showed a woman in the audience smiling, clapping and mouthing, “Now that I can agree with!”

The Democratic convention seemed to go pretty well. I liked the speeches by Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, and even John Kerry’s was pretty good. I’m not sure about this whole “be nice, don’t be angry” philosophy, though. I mean if it works then I will have to thank them for it, but to me it seems like crazy talk. What kind of an ignorant shut-in would you have to be to NOT be angry at what’s going on in this country?

And you know what, yes, there are many good qualities that Kerry has and he should run on those. But I don’t get this idea that “Bush bashing” is not legitimate. I mean it’s not like I’m the only one who thinks this guy is the worst president we’ve ever had, who allowed our country to be attacked, destroyed our economy, started two immoral, inept and endless wars, cynically divided the country for his own political purposes, threw away our standing in the world, set back Constitutional and civil rights by decades, and robbed our taxes and the resources of other countries for the benefit of corporations he and his vice president just happen to be connected to. Etc.

I mean, they don’t let you use Saddam or Hitler analogies so let’s go to the star wars. Did the star wars rebels try not to say anything bad about Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire? Yeah yeah, he blew up Princess Leah’s planet, he tried to kill the Ewoks and all that, but we don’t want to be negative and sound like a bunch of whiners. We’re not fighting because of what Darth Vader has done. We’re fighting because of Princess Leah’s positive message of hope!

Now I want to take a moment for some unkind words about these idiot stories about singers making some political comment and then everybody boos. For example the most famous one recently is Linda Ronstadt was at some casino in Las Vegas, she dedicated a song to Michael Moore and some drunk gambling addicts with bad taste in music started booing and ran out, tearing down her posters and throwing their drinks on the wall. So the casino owners sent Ronstadt away and said she would never play there again under that ownership (which was the rest of the month, they already sold the casino to a guy who has invited her back). And the way this was covered by the postjournalists it was sort of like, that crazy Linda Ronstadt, what was she thinking.

But no, I’m sorry, that doesn’t cut it. I think about all the times I’m put in some uncomfortable position. Like you’re at a baseball game in the middle of a bullshit war that you don’t agree with, and they sing the National Anthem and everybody around you gets overly involved in it, trying to show that THEY love America more than anybody and ESPECIALLY during these times when America is obviously wrong.

So what do you do? You stand there politely and let them have their fun. Who fucking cares. You don’t go throwing your drinks around and demanding your money back because you don’t agree with the politics. If you did, and it made it on TV, you would be portrayed as an asshole, wouldn’t you? But these people, the TV acts like they have a legitimate complaint. If it was the other way around politically, it would be portrayed as a riot. “They tore posters down! It was total bedlam! We believe there were anarchists from Eugene, Oregon involved!”

Let’s say I was at a James Brown concert, and he made some pro-Bush comment. I would probaly boo too. It would be hard not to. But then I’d probaly stay and enjoy the rest of the concert. If it was too upsetting, and I couldn’t enjoy the funkiest wifebeater and his republican bullshit after that, then fine, maybe I’d leave. But I wouldn’t demand my money back and I sure as shit wouldn’t think the Godfather of Soul did anything wrong by “bringing politics into this.”

I read an article from the Orange County Register about Don Henley doing a concert and he started to say, “Given what my good friend Linda Ronstadt–” but he was interupted by booing so he said, “Whoops – Orange County. We used to be able to have civil debate in this country. Not anymore.” Apparently he followed up with some political satire song by Randy Newman. (yuck.)

The funniest part of the article was the last paragraph:

“He really blindsided everyone,” said Joshua Owen of Long Beach, who had taken a group of employees to the concert and was upset by the political content. “There was booing. Some people headed for the exits.”

I think this is what really bothers me about it. Not that these are dumb people who listen to horrible music, don’t believe in freedom of speech and have bad concert etiquette. What really gets me is that people in this country have allowed our culture to be so thoroughly flushed down the shitter that they now buy the idea of music as a bland pre-packaged corporate product guaranteed to have no personality, conflict, ideas, politics or emotion. Not only do they like music to be that way, but they expect it to be, they demand it to be. And they are treated as reasonable people.

I mean I guess they listen to Don Henley anyway so who am I fooling. But music is not what you think it is, you assholes. Music is a form of expression. Music can make you cry or send you off to a revolution. Music is “We Shall Overcome” and “Fuck the Police” and Songs in the Key of Life. Music gets entire races through slavery and genocide. Music is punk rock and hip hop before they were on TV and the radio. Music is not only allowed to provoke you and make you think and offend you, it’s supposed to.

(end transmission)

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, August 31st, 2004 at 7:53 am 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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