Archive for January, 2008

The McCain factor

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Today I had to go to the dentist. That meant leaving work early and racing up the 405 before the rush hour traffic closed the way past the airport. I brought my girlfriend along so we could use the commuter lane and we managed to get from Torrance to Santa Monica in record time
But that is not what I wanted to write about. I had an interesting experience in the Dentist office. The assistant asked me who I liked after we watched Edwards and Giuliani drop out of the race. I said I was leaning towards Obama but I liked Kucinich because he has a comprehensive healthcare plan. She responded that she liked McCain, because he is conservative. I was taken aback. I can understand white males and business men liking McCain, after all he is one of them. But a young woman working in a dentists office as an assistant?
This struck me as odd. She had an accent, so she must have been an immigrant, ok, McCain is pro immigrant, that is nice, but why would a woman want to vote for an old white guy who wants to stay in Iraq for god knows how long. I appreciate his stance against torture but as a friend of mine said, why would any civilized person be in favor of torture. If you are pro-torture, then why stop with suspected terrorists, why not torture, rapists, and murderers. Heck we might as well allow the IRS to put suspected income tax evaders to the thumb screws. The later Roman empire considered torture to be standard procedure when a slave was accused of a crime, why not workers who commit petty theft on the job? After all, if it works on terrorist, what is the logic that would keep it from being reintroduced into civil society. It was common in the past, and if history does repeat itself, well what is McCain so squeamish about torturing evil doers for?
Could it be because as a former sufferer of torture that he can empathize with even the most dastardly bomb welding terrorist? After all could not bombing innocent civilians in Vietnam be considered a form of terror. Has not the US government unleashed a rain of terror in the form of carpet bombing of the population of Vietnam, and fire bombing Tokyo and Dresden in world war two, not to mention the atomic bombs. So as a former pilot of the premier terror organization in the world, the US Military, how could he not empathize with a pathetic Arab who was forced to hijack a plane to even come close. But then would you want this man for president? Someone who can empathize with terrorists, well where does it stop? He might feel sorry for murderers, abortionists, even God forbid, animal euthanasiasts. Once you start on the slippery path of opposing torture, there is no end to what the man might condone in civil society.
So why did the woman in the dentists office tell me she liked McCain? I don’t know, she said because he was conservative, well I only hope she meant that he conserves energy and turns out the lights in the room when he is not using it, but I have no proof of that. Perhaps McCain conserves his pennies in a big jar like I do, or holds in gas when in a crowded room, one can only wonder. Anybody out there have an answer?

What makes a viable candidate?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Why has Dennis Kucinich, who by all rights has more good ideas that all of the candidates combined, not gotten any where in this years campaign for president? His plan for national health care is comprehensive and yet it has not a shred of a chance of being taken seriously by the media other than the Pacifica Network pundants.
How is it that someone like Barak Obama, who with only one term in office as a senator, a vague policy based on hope, and I guess a prayer, can win so much acclaim, being called the new Kennedy even, a dubious endorsement if you consider what he did in office and what happened to him.
Is it purely a popularity contest. Who looks the best? Who has the most “presidential voice, carriage and demeanor”. In other words is it all about sex appeal?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Barak also, I think he is great. But why? I look at his speeches and I don’t see substance, I see a hope, a hope that maybe, just maybe this guy will fool the powers that be, that maybe he can make nice long enough to get in office and then, well then he will show us what he can really do. Betting on the dark horse has its appeal. But what are we betting on?
My radical friends want to see a dismantling of the capitalist system, without causing too much discomfort in the process. I don’t see what this man says that would make them hope for any such thing, other than his word, “hope”.
Hillary Clinton on the other hand doesn’t seem to muster much respect. People know what she is all about. She is Bill Clinton lite. Or maybe a bit more liberal with old Bill there whispering in her ear… what, we don’t know, maybe he is looking for that legacy of greatness that didn’t come to pass in the administration that got rid of the social safety net once and for all.
I am not finding much to be inspired about, as much as I would like to be inspired, and I am, when I listen to Obama speak, it is inspiring, but to what end? That is the question that we all hope to have an answer to sometime soon. Otherwise we will take our hobby horses home and hold what ever we hold and vote for Hillary, or god forbid, a republican and at least we can say that we got the evil we know, rather than the hope we have.


Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Gary Rumor here, A name I was given by a group of nascient punk rockers in Boulder, Colorado back in 1978 when I was in and out of college at CU. A friend of mine put up flyers all over town that a certain individual with my description was putting on a punk show at 666 Pearl Street, just off the mall in downtown Boulder. At the time I happened to be in California visiting my Father and was a surprised as everyone else when they came after me accusing me of false representation. They started calling me the Rumor, and once my buddy fesses up, we became friends and I became the manager of the Dancing Assholes, Boulder’s premiere proto punk band.
Not long after that I actually was producing punk shows at Tulagi’s On The Hill, and the Free School. That friend and I started the first punk and new wave radio show on the then start up community radio station KGNU. Not long after that I started a chapter of Rock Against Racism and was invited not long after that to manage a political night club at 10 Bleecker Street in Manhattan about a block from the infamous CBGB’s. This club called “Studio 10″ was supposed to be the new funding source for the New York Yippies and the local chapter of Rock Against Racism that had been co-opted by a promoter acting out of Max’s Kansas City, I went over there an played the heavy from the International Rock Against Racism and took the name back. It was supposed to be used as a public service consciousness raising organization that used any profits for helping out needy social change organizations. It was not supposed to be used to feather the nests of a promoter and her band friends We were continuously raided by the authorities who wanted to get payoffs, only the local mob left us alone because one of the sons of the local boss was hanging out with the Yippies, the mafia preferred to see their kids with anarcho-commie-stoners instead of getting into serious trouble. We had to use the old night club the Electric Circus on St Marks Place, as a venues one time, it was being used as a gay and lesbian skills center at the time, but I was able to convince them to let us use the site for a punk show. That was Bad Brains and DOA’s first gig in NYC
Eventually we went to jail for refusing to vacate when the fire marshals shut us down on another occasion. We had orchestrated the event by doing it at the same time an article came out in the Village Voice about city authorities harassing activists. We went to court with Bill Kunsler as our lawyer and he was able to make the city look ridiculous and the judge issued a restraining order for the city to leave us alone for at least a full year. Victory, we never did pay any bribes. But I did spend 4 days in various Manhattan precinct house jails. They had the best deli food brought in for the inmates, ah, New York jails in 1980, the best jail food I have ever had
By then I was a bit fed up with the big city and I decided to try out San Francisco. I wanted to hang out with some friends from Colorado that were trying to convince me it was a great place. One thing I was upset with about New York was the beginnings of the Yuppie invasion of the lower east side of Manhattan. They were moving into the neighborhood where many activists and addicts lived side by side with the resident poor in squats and very low rent apartments. That was coming to an end just at that time and I wanted to go where the living was still a punk rock anarchist hippies dream, so I headed for the city by the bay.
I will continue this tale next time, stay tuned.
Check out this link to a NY Real Estate Guide article about the last hold out against gentrification. 9 Bleecker Street, across the street from 10 Bleecker Street, and the Yippie headquarters in New York at the time I was there. Dana Beal was the man with the cash, whenever I needed say $1000 to pay for some construction materials, he would dole it out, usually in $5 and $10 bills, inconvenient to carry that much cash around, but at least he always seemed able to come through from his mysterious sources. I didn’t ask questions about the where, I was happy to have the means to continue whatever project I happened to be working on.
Anyway it is an interesting story, except they got the first sentence wrong it was NYPD that planted the bomb on the door of an anarchist house not anarchists. Typical media mistake. /features/1081/

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