Wednesday, September 28, 2011


September 28, 2011

On the rack by the checkout aisle the headlines on that supermarket tabloid are deafening: “Cops’ Secret Obama File! Panic in the White House!”
Holy Husseins, this is a monumental development. It must be all over the news, right? Well actually, no. No word of this anywhere else. And you didn’t buy Globe because.. well, because who does these days?
Or maybe it’s because it’s simply more utter twaddle, easily exposed with just the tiniest amount of checking.
Which I did. One two-minute phone call. Seven cents. On its cover, Globe shrieks that the president is under investigation, that famed Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio has launched an official probe which could lead to Obama’s impeachment.
Indeed a stupendous story. How come the world’s press missed it, leaving a poor-circulation blabloid to scoop them all with this exclusive?
So I called Sheriff Arpaio. And right away spokesman Lieutenant Justin Griffin denied they were investigating. Then came the sheriff’s own response: “Contrary to published reports, what I have agreed to is simply look at evidence the tea party people have assembled.”
So it’s not true. The cops aren’t probing Obama. Sheriff Arpaio merely accepted some alleged “evidence” from folks out to torpedo the Prez and said he’d give it a look over. Period. Nothing’s been done. He may have been too polite to tell these zealots it would be tossed into the Cold Case morgue: “Listen, there’s no way I’m getting involved in this. Leave it at the front desk if you want but that’s up to you.”
And this is an “official probe”?
Globe’s fable is sourced to WorldNetDaily, the extremist website run by rabid Arab Yussuf “Hussein” Farah. This gentleman of Syrian stock, sporting a shifty Oilcan Harry mustache, claims to have been born in New Jersey although he has failed so far to produce a legitimate birth certificate to my satisfaction. He’s taken to calling himself “Joseph”. And behind him is – yes – Orly Taitz, the Russian dentist/lawyer/fruitcake who’s the Birther Movement’s loudest foghorn. Still around? I thought that once release of Obama’s Long Form certificate had shushed the critics she’d clambered back aboard the Soyuz 8 spaceship and returned to whichever planet she calls home.
Two American residents linked to countries that despise these great United States repeat an already-debunked claim about our president and suddenly Globe has enmeshed Arpaio in it.
And now, three weeks later and ignoring the good sheriff’s denial, this dubious rag re-runs its original false report and takes a new, totally groundless, swipe at the president, suggesting there’s a second, fresh investigation. No actual police probe is cited. Just word that Farah’s buddy Jerome R. Corsi, author of “Where’s The Birth Certificate”, wants to hand material to some sheriffs’ departments somewhere. Again, no “official probe” therefore another complete fabrication.
Apart from naming Corsi and two of his supporters it’s all unsourced– oh, sorry, they do quote “a White House insider” as saying: “Lately Barack has been drinking to forget” and “Michelle is terrified”. No name given, though. No way on earth for any of this pap to be checked for veracity. And once again owner David Pecker’s scandal sheet claims Sheriff Arpaio “agreed to investigate” – something he denies. As for the Cops’ Secret Obama File? Evidently it’s so secret the cops themselves don’t even know about it.
There is not one fact to lend these headlines legitimacy. Over the last few years Globe has seized on every kook and opportunist who ever surfaced to question Obama’s birth certificate, Donald Trump included.
It goes further. Deranged homosexual and convicted career criminal Larry Sinclair claims he had a relationship with Obama, provides not one shred of actual solid evidence. But hey, that’s good enough for Globe, which runs, runs and re-runs his tale.
In court documents, Sinclair later admitted that Kommissar Taitz had ordered him to lie that Obama was involved in murder as well. If she didn’t it underscores his deceitfulness. If yes it blows odious Orly out the tail end of Soyuz 8.
So we get a peek into what’s going on here. We must call them out on it.
No checking. No balance. No quest for truth. Just grasp at anything that might harm the president and print it as fact. This is not even journalism any more; it’s disgraceful. The lowest kind of naked propaganda imaginable and editor Jeff Rodack and his crew should be ashamed of themselves.
I quote this example because week after week tabloids in Pecker’s American Media stable splash anti-Obama stories front page, truth be damned. In the first 39 weeks of 2011 there have been 20 in Globe and its sister, National Examiner, which also claimed a “shocking link” between the president and Al Qaeda.
The National what? That’s right, another world exclusive, this time fodder for the few unfortunates who still buy this little trash rag. “Proof” was that age-old photo of Obama in traditional clothes while visiting a Kenyan village.
Why do they think they can get away with this stuff? Well, because there will always be some among us for whom those headlines and that picture in a publication – even one with credibility issues - will suffice. “I knew it all along, that Obama boy’s a foreign Al Qaeda terrorist.”


UPDATE September 28 2011:
In its third attempt to make the myth stick, Globe claims Sheriff Arpaio "created a special unit to determine if Obama's birth certificate is authentic or a forgery."
Not true twice over. It wasn't created just now, nor for that reason. And, reaffirmed Lieutenant Griffin, there is no criminal investigation.
The sheriff himself said on local station KNXV-TV he has had this unit for five years. It's his cold case "posse" made up of four unpaid associates.
And, admitted Arpaio, they'e "looking to see if there's any smoke there."
Notice it's not fire they seek. Translation: There's not even the hint of truth in this: everyone's just posturizing...
Except Globe.
© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


September 21, 2011

The full title of America’s most memorable movie, the way I heard it as a tyke, was Gone With The Will You Stop Fidgeting.
I was maybe six when my mother frogmarched me to the cinema to watch again her all-time favorite: Gone With The Wind with La Leigh and Le Gable. She inched forward in her seat whenever Clark the Charmer was onscreen. I squirmed in mine for three hours and 58 minutes, all the time requiring a weewee or an ice cream or something, just anything to get away from being so bored. I wanted to be Gone From The Theater.
Once the Overture was over it was all swooning, rustling petticoats and female chit-chat through those folding fans, interspersed only occasionally with a decent explosion. And no cartoon characters at all. Apart, that is, from those twin twits the prancing Tarletons and Prissy.
Today it’s vastly different. When Wifey slips this timeless classic into the player I simply jump up and leave.... to get popcorn, so we can both munch while we watch.
Turns out it’s not only the memsahib’s favorite movie of all time it’s also one of mine (as I keep reassuring her in order not to be branded “insensitive”). Given a choice without the invisible arm-twisting maybe I’d prefer to watch Predator or perhaps Teenage Waitresses From Hell, which I kinda suspect was eminently enjoyable. Can’t be absolutely certain even about the title of that one, since a fair amount of ale was taken the night it was rented by my Budweiser buddies, the jolly boys.
But back to the scene at Jonesboro. Ever noticed how any house with halfway decent columns out front is automatically dubbed ‘Tara’ by Southerners and otherners? After he moved away, Burt Reynolds’ 11,000-square-foot Loganville palace on Route 81 was given that handle too. Taras are plentiful, blanketing Dixie. The real one, much of it a facade made of papier-mâché and plywood, rotted way on the old Selznick movie lot, then RKO Pictures. In1959 the hulk was sold for $5,000 to Betty Talmadge, wife of the Georgia governor. There was also a plan to make it the centerpiece of a theme park. Never happened.
The missus and I afford Gone With The Wind such reverence that we never abbreviate it to GWTW except that I just did to show that we never do and now I wish I hadn’t. But we dubbed our house with the white columns Rata. By pure happenstance, Wifey has always been a Vivien Leigh/Wonderwoman doppelganger of sorts, so she’s Harlot O’Scara. And I, of course, am the lovable rogue Butt Rhetler.
“Oh, Butt, Butt” she’ll coo on occasion when we re-enact some scene or other for a moment. And a moment is all, because I can’t remember any of the hero’s quotes other than “getting still drunker” so I end up parroting something like “fiddle-de-dee”. Which is a her line, not a his. 
We wonder what it would have been like if, instead of playing a suave and gallant Charleston Confederate, Ohio-born Clark Gable had over-Yankee’d himself and said: “Frankly my dear... bleep you!” But that’s really South Bronx, isn’t it, not Ohio – and it’s hardly us here in pretty Walton County.
All the above claptrap is my way of saluting ‘Wind’ on its 75th birthday – not the flick but Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer prizewinning book, which preceded the 10-Oscar screen blockbuster by two years. I haven’t read this classic tome yet. People assure me it’s “better than the movie”, a phrase that surely should be classed with imponderables such as “wish you were here” and “tastes like chicken”. So I can only assess the characters as seen moving and talking and the plot as depicted on celluloid. And it’s all vivid.
So vivid that this remains in America’s top five of all-time movie greats, up there with The Godfather and... Teenage Waitresses From Hell, was it? Am I mistaken?
Some African Americans are indignant about Gone With The Wind for the way it portrays Prissy, played as a total ditz by naturally squeaky-voiced Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen who earned a BA in political science. True, it does, but I recall that some of the twittering white women were portrayed almost equally unsympathetically. As indeed were Brent and Stuart Tarleton, soppy fops that they were.
So Ms Mitchell’s house that she’d nicknamed The Dump was burned twice by irate folks whose protest could have been more persuasive had they not allowed base emotions to take over. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Houses.
But I remain baffled as to why some black Americans would identify with Prissy anyway. If you feel the need to correlate with one of the characters then why not Hattie McDaniel’s Mammy, who effectively ran the O’Hara household. This was the wise lady who warned Scarlett not to go after Cousin Melanie‘s beau, berating her for plotting to pounce on him “like a spider”. She was the Common Sense Queen who pulled the impetuous heroine back from the brink on so many occasions.
Ms McDaniel won an Academy Award for that role and gave a short, tearful and immensely moving acceptance speech that surely would have made all Americans proud. I was.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


September 14, 2011

Okay, so you dropped five bucks into the fireman’s boot and felt good about that. But now you’re heading home and there’s a different guy at the intersection and you find yourself making awkward explanatory hand movements while mouthing silently at him: “I already gave.”
And at the next red light there’s a another firefighter lying in wait. So this time you pretend to be looking on the floor for something. Like you never noticed him there, smiling that judgmental smile, the one you’re convinced says: “You can hide but you don’t fool me, Mr Scrooge.”
Can you afford another five?
It’s the guilt that comes with not giving. Americans are the most generous people on earth: we want to help, especially around the tenth – the idiots say “ten year” - anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
But the money our firemen solicit isn’t for 9/11. It pays for equipment needed to treat burn victims, both uniformed and civilian. Don Williams is the state co-ordinator for the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation. He said: “We’re most fortunate to have the largest burn unit in the world in Augusta and the fourth largest in Atlanta. This boot drive is a vital part of their funding and last year Walton County raised more than $31,000.”
When you collect cash there are opportunities for theft, of course, but Mr Williams has full confidence in the honesty of Georgia’s firefighters, and well he should, for they are beyond reproach.
And then there are those others.
A check last month on 325 of the 9/11 charities unearthed a plague of reptiles purloining copious amounts of cabbage for themselves by attaching their names to the tragedy. There are too many to list here, but we should know about John Michelotti’s Flag Of Honor/Flag Of Heroes flimflam - making a fortune selling tacky Chinese-made flags for $25 without giving charity one dime. Theodore Sjurseth‘s annual 9/11 Motorcycle Ride splurges more than 80 percent of his collected $2.2 million on hotels, meals and other jollies for his Harley hog pals. And there’s the $4 million raked in via Christian TV by Urban Life Ministries, Rev Carl Keyes, presiding, of which only $670,000 is accounted for.
Another is All My Children actor Jack Scalia, whose Lest We Forget outfit netted him $100,000 which he then “lost”. They all invoke 9/11. But charity fraud is legend, and here these shameful chiselers seem almost saintly against the big boys who pay themselves elephantine salaries or simply run off with the swag.
Charity begins at home – the homes of the top executives and families. To deflect suspicion, the trick, as practiced by Christian Relief Services’ Paul Krizek, is to have family members on his half million dollar payroll. He forgot to include the dog.
Top honchos like Brian Gallagher of United Way and Roxanne Spillett, who heads Boys And Girls Clubs Of America, pocket more than a million a year. Her organization is under intense Senate scrutiny for excessive expenditures on travel and other perks while citing poverty as a reason for closing local clubs.
Children are the lure, and probably the most effective charities are those that invite sponsorship. Sally Struthers springs to mind with her Christian Children’s Fund, now known as ChildFund International. Why no longer Christian – have they abandoned their faith?
There’s, slogan: “We’re here to serve you.” Me? I thought you were serving the children. Yes, we’re compassionate, but let’s not be suckers. Not even when these corporations parade some saucer-eyed, malnourished, brownish urchin onto our TV screen with the appeal: “Just look into this child’s eyes.” I’d rather look into that charity’s bookkeeping: commercials are expensive.
This kid will write you. Really? Kids Alive International ministry saying you can have “regular e-mail correspondence with your child”. Har har. Nice try. So this emaciated orphan may be dying of hunger but he’s got a laptop?. Maybe his enfeebled condition is the reason he’ll be “unable to respond directly to your e-mails.” Or is it because the company creep at the printing press can’t churn out the heart-wrenching replies fast enough.
So the money that came from your heart bankrolls well-paid jobs and junkets with the remainder squandered on administration. Here I include private jets and “essential” field trips to golf courses situated in the vague direction of the waiting, the needy, the desperate. The dying.
Feed The Children? Who wouldn’t want to? But the charity of that name is under investigation, as is Angel Food right here in Monroe where three of the controlling Wingo family members net over a million in salaries and have borrowed a further million from their ministry.
Which are the scams? The near-scams? Those of us who seek to help the less fortunate have an Achilles’ Heel because there’s a bunch of soulless heels out there looking to profit from our goodwill.
Years ago a fellow with a big smile and a fireman’s badge came to my house collecting donations. Suspicious, because he offered a free family portrait in exchange. He turned out to be a guy working for Excalibur Photography in Atlanta: they’d done a deal with my rural fire department whereby only a fraction went to the cause for which it was intended.
Sadly, that’s the story of charity today.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


September 8, 2011

We keep telling the world ours is the most democratic country and it’s not. We want others to follow our example and they’re resisting mightily and who can blame them.
They see the way we live and they want our jeans and our music, our fast food and our ideas but they don’t want our freedom because it isn’t.
One percent of our people own nearly half the country’s wealth. And 99 percent get the other slice. Is there something wrong with this picture? How about five percent own two thirds, which is the latest figure that came out this spring. That doesn’t leave much for the us that’s the 95 percent. So...
How are we different from all those dictatorships where a few big boys at the top hog just about all the country’s wealth? And how, frighteningly, are we different from those countries where the people are so fed up with this unacceptably unjust imbalance that they’re in open revolt?
Egypt, Libya, fine. But that could never happen here, could it. “This is America.” Yet the chasm between our rich and our poor continues to open up alarmingly - a recipe for the same kind of uprising they’ve been seeing in the Middle East.
It starts with the young, the students, who have a clear view of the bleak future that awaits them. They see a system that’s mortgaged itself into eternity at an extortionate rate that credit-card companies would give a right arm to match. Not their own, of course, someone else’s right arm. Yours. Mine.
One day we’ll wake up and realize we’ve been duped; that those smug politicians with the insincere pasted-on smiles have always been part of the self-serving elite. Those who feed the billionaires and the giant corporations and in turn are fed by them; and all at our expense and to the detriment of us the people .
These guys keep lassoing us to the election booth with cute-sounding slogans like “lower taxes” and “less government” and “creating jobs”. Who doesn’t want that? Lower taxes? Sure, I’d vote for that. But they don’t mean for us – just for the corporations and the Already Wealthy.
We’re paying for these guys’ further enrichment with our jobs, with our homes, with food and medicine costs we can’t meet...
At the voting booth we’ve given a choice between this grinning babykisser or that one. Oh, and they’re always well-heeled because to run for office in the good old USA you have to have moolah behind you: if not your own cash, then that of some special interest or other that’ll back you.
So the USA isn’t a democracy, it’s a moneyocracy, where I always thought Pluto-crats were rich dogs. But the delicious pratfall of eBay’s former CEO, the cocky Meg Whitman, was a joy to behold: she wasted $141 million of her own money in a failed bid to buy the California governorship. Sorry lady: that state wasn’t for sale.
Bush spent over $345 million to get himself elected in 2000 and $457 million four years later. Obama spent $750 million. Why so eager, guys? The job only pays $400,000.
They’re already raking it in for next year’s tussle, both sides enjoying financial backing from major business interests, be they lawyers and labor unions or oil and health industry concerns.
With no big finance behind him, what chance has Joe the plumber - and I don’t mean that kwazy kartoon kawicature Samuel ‘Joe The Plumber’ Wurzelbacher (NB: Wurzelbacher) guy, one-time darling of the tea party. A real Joe might have the best idea about how to run this country but his voice will never be heard. There are only two Money Megaphones and they’ve been grabbed by the reds and the blues.
They say anyone can be president but that ain’t the truth. Let’s tell that story honestly to the rest of the world and to our own people: anyone with tons of money behind him can be president. It’s the biggest spender. How is that democracy at work? And where’s our freedom in the Land Of The Free?
How different are we from the suppressed unfortunates whose communist dictatorships hogged it all? Or those in the Middle East, mugged by their despotic leaders?
Capitalism? Of course yes to that. But not to runaway capitalism sans restraint. Without any checks at all the leviathans of the business community squash everything and everyone underfoot. Profits before people. What a vulgar way to live: we’re all slaves to our dictator, the Mighty Dollar and its carnivorous lieutenants.
Whenever I find I’ve been taken for a sucker I’m so livid with myself that in order to regain self-respect I yearn to get back at those who fooled me. Call it pride. One day we’ll all wake up and realize we’ve been duped. Used. Conned. And boy, will we be angry, just like the Egyptians and the Brits.
Let’s hope it’s all bloodless.

© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.