Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IN THE GRIP OF THE NEW BLACK DEATH


February 9, 2012

Hey neighbor, it sure is good to have a decent upstanding fellow like you living next to me. Handsome wife, great kids, neat home, good job. Not like those objectionable welfare recipients that all they wanna do is mooch off me. Wastes of space. They should ship ‘em all off to... well to someplace else, whatsay?
You what? You lost your jo-ob? You can’t pay your mortgage? Geddaway from me, you parasite, you sponger. I thought you were one of us, you leech, you drain on society, and don’t come back.
It’s come to that. Big Finance has managed to split America down the middle. The giant banks were banking (sorry) on a large section of the population believing it’s the Obama government that brought all this misery on the nation. And not themselves and their puppet pals in the previous administration.
They and the multinational companies and the politicians have grabbed all America’s wealth. The House Appropriations Committee? That name should apply to Congress as a whole, and the Senate too, for they have appropriated billions of our tax money for themselves and their corporate masters.
They’re all at it, Republicans and Democrats alike, in bed with Big Money, making their fortunes with sweetheart deals and insider trading - activities that would land us regular mortals behind bars.
They don’t just own all the wealth, they own us, the American people, and through deceit and lies they’ve turned the middle class against the poor, the poor against the even poorer.
Then if you’re mindful of your fellow Americans they’ll brand you a left-wing zealot. I thought it was just good manners to care about my neighbor but that now makes me a Marxist? A communist? What on earth is this country coming to?
Love thy neighbor? Sure, if he goes to my church and eats chicken mull and thinks the way I do, then yes. But if my neighbor falls on hard times, loses his job, his home, well, then he becomes one of those infernal millstones who’s eating up my taxes. Then I hate my neighbor.
True, there are too many barnacles clinging to society’s underside. Unwilling to work is one thing; unable to work is quite another. By all means curtail the handouts to the loafers, this is the Land Of The Free, not the Freebee. But can you simply let them just die? Absolutely, if you heard the Republican audience’s wild cheers of approval when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer suggested such a thing to Ron Paul. Fashionable, now, to hate the less fortunate, to wish them dead. Is this my America all of a sudden?
It’s perfectly understandable for folks paying into the system to complain about those perpetually making withdrawals. Some local supermarkets report that 65 percent or more of their custom is from people brandishing food stamps – up dramatically from ten years ago. But for God’s sake, among these are many who fell into the abyss through no fault of their own, the victims of those cunning banks and corporations who moved America’s wealth overseas.
What have we become? This is like the 14th century Black Death that came from China (where else!) and devastated Europe. At the first symptoms of the plague your loved ones suddenly became your feared-and-despised ones, to be tossed out to perish in the gutter..
Our equivalent is the homeless, the indigent. These are our lepers. The guy with a job and a home today could lose it all tomorrow and be among the millions of desperate unfortunates who’ll do anything to put food in their children’s mouths. In an instant one of “us” becomes one of “them” and it can happen to most any regular American lucky enough to be working still.
How many of us are merely a paycheck or two away from insolvency? You needed a six-month savings cushion to pay regular expenses, experts warned – and that was back when the employment situation was healthy. Three quarters of us don’t have that amount saved. But how much of a cushion is required today? Twelve months? Two years?
Helping a worker who’s no shirker is surely the Christian way, so what’s so wrong with being that kind of liberal? Folks on the right spit the word out like a poison; Ann Coulter, queen of the harridans, calls liberals either idiots or traitors!. Traitors? For seeking a fairer America? For loving thy neighbor as the Bible says? Why do we even listen to venomous shrews like this woman? Are we such a mean-spirited nation?
Official statistics show as many white as black folks are on welfare but some individuals prefer to disregard that data. No need to cram their heads with actual facts. They’ve got their god, their guns, their country and that’ll do, thank you Fox News and Glenn Beck. There’s his cockeyed history to be learned and overpriced gold coins to be bought. Why contemplate anything serious
A local guy I know is stockpiling firearms and provisions, waiting for the day these “welfare recipients” come storming over the hill to take what’s his. He’s retired, his wife’s job was terminated recently. A gust of bad luck, God forbid, could easily turn this good couple into the wretched “them”.
I told him: turn around, squire, you’re pointing your guns in the wrong direction. It’s pilferers versus robber barons. While you’re watching for possible pickpockets the big bank boys behind you are bleeding you dry.

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© 2012 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, February 22, 2012

CLANKING ONE’S WAY THROUGH LIFE


February 22, 2012

Crazy masochists – what are they doing to their bodies! First the silly tattoos that mark them for life as Grade F citizens and now the mutilations. Piercing is for pinheads, many of whom have made themselves so hideously malformed they could pass for sci-fi monsters in some horror flick.
These part-metal creatures aren’t just the young and dumb but folks who claim to be mature – adultoids, grownagers, kidults (your choice, same price). Those whose infantile brain nudges them to follow any trend that comes along, no matter how stoopid.
The rest of us avert our gaze, but the pierced people still flaunt their fixtures and fittings. It’s like they belong to some abominable mutant species. Curl a lump of iron round your neck, stick a banana through your nose. Or a bone the way they do in the jungles of Papua New Guinea where the primitives pray nightly to their newest heavenly god, the Boeing 777.
To what tribe do Spike and Peg belong, that pair of prize clankers. We see American gentlemen in their 40s and 50s and middle-aged ma’ams with hardware poked thru their ears, eyebrows, noses, lips, bellies and further down. And there’s that frightening-looking stud through the tongue that makes their conversation anything but “riveting”.
Whatsay? Speak up, woman! With that barbell in your mouth you’re talking some mumbly stainless steel language that surely ain’t English! Zip your lip, oh - I see you already did that.
Was I attracted to her? In the attraction-type way, no, not in the least, but there was this irresistible force pulling me and it wasn’t love. It was my belt buckle: she must have gotten herself magnetized to attract guys. I’d heard of them doing this, now, to my horror, I was being drawn inexorably towards this grotesquely corroded half-metal hag.
With a clip through the lip who’s going to kiss her? Not me, no way. Nor even without the face metal because such females are usually plainer than a plain brown wrapper.
The tongue thing, as with those pierced genitals like what is known as the Prince Albert (I squirm as I write this) is supposedly an enhancer of sex. But then it turns out you can’t get – ahem - “friendly” with your partner for two months or more after the procedure and you’re forever having to guard against infection and damage. How much fun is that? Your loved one’s whispering sweet nothings in your ear and suddenly she deafens you with: ”Eek! The barbell broke my tooth!”
Choppers do get chipped by the steel tongue jewelry and it’ll also make your English a bit rusty... Ha ha ha, well you guessed - I made that up about the rust. But tongues have turned septic and folks have died.
Unclean or plain unlucky folks have been killed via their tattoos – death by a thousand pricks – but also through piercings, especially that tongue barbell thing, which can cause contamination of the cerebrum. However, God has provided for this, because in order to get an actual brain abscess you need to have an actual brain.
You hear the guys and dolls clinking along with assorted nails, screws, razor blades and other steel items hanging off their features. Walking wind chimes. In a gale, some of these folks’ faces play quite catchy melodies, albeit simple ones to match their intellect. Hey, Mr Tambourine Head, you’re jingle-jangling like in the Bob Dylan song!
And if half of you is a hardware store, if you’re a human/metal alloy, then airport security must be torture. Please Remove All Metal Objects. Owwww! Ouch! Yeeowww! Some might require removal surgery before passing through the detector.
A staple through the eyebrow is bad enough, but there are aficionados who break through the sanity barrier and keep on going. I’m looking at Huron Indian Dennis Avner who’s transformed himself with tattoos, piercings and surgeries into a human tiger. Nearing retirement age and decidedly overweight, he is one fat cat who never grew up.
And there’s the Mexican mother-of-four Maria Jose Cristerna who calls herself La Donna Vampira. At 37 she has huge holes in her stretched earlobes, titanium horn implants in her skull and a mouthful of fangs. Hi kids, Mommy’s home! Why’re you always hiding from me? And take that garlic off the bedposts this instant!
Forget all the other nuts with bolts through their bodies. My favorite, if I’m forced to choose, would be the original. Not the pussycat brave or the brain-dead Undead senora but the undisputed king of body furniture, the guy with the biggest bolt of all... Frankenstein’s monster.
I’m fully aware that for those of the ironwork and metalware persuasion all this is falling on deaf ears - ears with those enormous repulsive holes in the lobes as seen on members of Africa’s Maasai tribe, and on Vampira. And that all this stretching and twisting and piercing and disfiguring will continue regardless.
The new Iron Age folks can be useful at times. Need a particular nut or washer to complete an auto repair? Ask a couple of these decorated dimwits over, one of them should be wearing the right size. For metric invite a European.
Still, might these robopeople actually be more financially savvy than we realize?
Thievery is rampant, so storing your nest egg on your person makes sense. And, with scrap metal yards paying high prices, in time of need you can always... turn yourself in

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© 2012 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, February 15, 2012

THE UNITED POLICE STATES OF AMERICA


February 15, 2012

Ta-rah! The police won. With superior firepower and the weight of Wall Street’s money behind them they crushed the people. Police versus people, once again how sad.
But they won only battles, not the war. No matter how many folks they arrested, or tear-gassed or peppered, tasered, clubbed, for the cops and the corrupt authorities goading them on it was a loss. An infant idea grew to maturity and despite all that overwhelming weaponry they failed to kill it. It’s not going away. We the people will be back in Spring. And again at election time.
Not only that, the whole world saw our law enforcement assault citizens peacefully exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of assembly and protest. Not good. Because in carrying out these repeated atrocities America has given up the right to champion liberty and criticize government suppression of free speech in any other country. Iran, China, North Korea, you name ‘em. It’s pot and kettle time: we’re just like the others.
What a terrible indictment of our nation, one where Big Money equals Big Power and the lackeys serving that false god crush those of us who dare to complain that it’s unfair. Watching these Roman-style phalanxes of riot police in action must be a shock to anyone who remembers the friendly neighborhood cop. Are there any left? And anyway, who was rioting?
Law enforcement has been militarized in preparation for terrorist attacks, which is forward thinking and commendable. But apparently folks camping in parks, even sitting outside banks and government buildings are as much a threat to our security as is Al Qaeda.
One wonders about the mindset of the actual officers who brutalize the people. I can’t say for sure that California Lieut. John Pike really enjoyed dousing the rows of students sitting on the ground as you would crops, but it sure looked that way.
The pepper spray he used is the weapons-grade variety issued to all police forces. Its developer, Kamran Loghman has stepped forward to say he’s appalled by the way it’s being turned onto ordinary citizens. With the FBI, he certified our police forces on its use and says what he witnesses is “not in accordance with any training or policy: that’s not what it was developed for.”
We’ve seen this kind of government suppression of dissent in dictatorships and I always wondered about the Czech border guards in 1968. They shot people fleeing to the West. When the rules were eased that Spring they waved escapees on with a smile, and by Fall these same officers were back shooting folks again. How could they! Well, they weren’t Americans.
But these are. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg directs his “private army”, as he boastfully calls it, to use offensive weapons, including that sadistic Darpa Audio-Pain device. If he changes tactic and orders his forces to buy everyone an ice cream and then the following week commands them to billyclub folks again do they do all this without emotion?
These officers aren’t robots, are they? But what kind of human beings follow orders without a thought about whether what they’re doing is constitutional, legal or even morally right? At the Nuremberg War Trials we refused to accept some Germans’ defense that they were “only following orders.”
We rejected that excuse from concentration camp guards so we cannot simply pardon our police officers’ use of weapons on docile, innocent citizens whose only defense was their voices. (Yep, a handful of moronic anarchists did smash some windows.) Police may use restraining force when threatened. Nobody was threatening them and a battery committed by someone in uniform is still a crime.
Then there are those who gave the commands; the mayors and the police chiefs. If we can prosecute for murder a Mafia boss who sanctioned a hit but never actually pulled the trigger, if we can execute Nazi bosses who ordered Jews gassed but never slew them personally, then how is this different?
Those who directed the attacks on peaceable citizens are as culpable as those who perpetrated the crimes. All should be prosecuted. The law is the law is the law. Isn’t it? Or is this no longer, as framer John Adams declared, a country of laws?
And what happened to truth and honesty? Our authorities now engage in the same kind of twisted rhetoric the Commies did and do. They fire tear gas and rubber bullets at people “for their health and safety”. Laughable doublespeak. “Thank you for inflicting this pain on me!” Is that what 84-year-old Dorli Rainey should have told Seattle police? And the two Iraq veterans hospitalized at Oakland, one with a smashed skull, the other a ruptured spleen.
These are our heroes, not the bully cops. Not any more. Simply stated: I’m not against the police. I am against bullies and injustice and the kind of totalitarian rule I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.
Our big problem is the government. The Justice Department let it slip that Homeland Security and the FBI had co-ordinated the brutal crackdown on Occupy gatherings nationwide. Illegally, as it turns out. We now have the United Police States Of America. Our own pepper republic.
Oh, and having okayed it, crafty old President Obama slipped away to Australia while this savage “protecting and serving” was going on.
Yet despite the shameful use of excessive force and military grade weaponry against our people, the authorities lose, and it’s happened before. Jesus challenged the might of Rome with an idea...

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© 2012 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, February 8, 2012

A LOVELY DAY FOR ANTI-ROMANTICS


February 8, 2012

Love, as the song goes, is like a violin. But for some it’s being played by Bigfoot with two left feet. Why on earth does everybody get in such a schmaltzy, sentimental mood this time of year? Well, not everyone. There’s this separate breed of people who shrug off the hysterical love-o-rama that’s February the 14th.
Many folks abhor the naked commercialism of a holiday that hasn’t been a holy day since the Pope demoted Saint Valentine nearly half a century ago to plain ordinary Mr. Valentine.
And then there are the loveless.
Divorced, separated, dumped, ignored, feeling pretty wretched because there has to be something wrong with you if your sweetheart ditched you, right? Or no-one was ever interested. And you never could find out exactly how and why you’re falling short but ultimately it means you won’t ever be able to find a partner again in your entire empty life so that’s why you loathe this special day in the year and that’s why you’re here celebrating.
Yes indeed, celebrating. With other people, no less. Glorying in your delicious misery with more individuals in the same depressing state. These guys, too, are sick of all that gooey lovey-dovey stuff therefore why not revel in collective despondency this coming Tuesday, because while it may be for lovers it’s also your day. Anti-Valentine’s.
The mascot for this unromantic occasion is Cupid, dead, face down with an arrow in his back. A fitting end, some might think, for the boss-eyed little brat whose badly-aimed darts never hit you, or if they did they soon bounced off again. Naked toddlers shouldn’t be playing with weapons anyway. Where’s his mother? Still, that’s her problem: someone already called Child Services.
So here you are at an Anti-Valentine's get-together, listening to the somber Kremlin-style music and thinking you could just as easily be attending a wake for Darth Vader. Gazing into the eyes of another partygoer is frowned upon whereas even a peck on the cheek is absolutely taboo. And using that awful four-letter word beginning with L will cost you five bucks in the Cuss Box.
All the food is dismal, from black spaghetti that looks like a nest of snakes to heartychokes topped with self-pity sauce, and finishing with bitter chocolate ventricle cake. The dishes contain such anti-social ingredients as onions, hot peppers and lots and lots of garlic. There’s plenty of coffee and stinky cheese – the double-foot-odor variety - so that for anyone coming too close a quick puff of breath feels like a punch in the kisser.
Valentine’s Day is not necessarily for spouses. How many husbands send their wives one of those assembly-line cards with the emotion expressed in pathetic, clich├ęd doggerel? You already took her into custody, kept her on a short leash in the kitchen, so why waste good beer money on some bauble and the card with the hokey stanzas? She already knows you love her: words not needed.
Words were paramount, however, for Charles, Duke of Orleans, who composed the world’s first-ever Valentine’s card back in 1416; it’s kept in the British Library and it says nothing even remotely like:
“Forsoothe, fayre ladie, maiden sweete
“Why don’cha let me kisse thy feet.”
It’s in medieval French, written to his wife, allegedly. She was back home in the land of black berets and white flags. He was in the Tower of London, having been captured at the Battle of Agincourt where an English army trounced a French one five times its size. Again.
It’s the fayre damsels of today who buy the lioness’s share annually of the one billion factory-made Valentine’s cards, those with the syrupy sentiments dreamed up by some minimum-wage hack. They also buy most of the crummy chocolates that may or may not be harmful to one’s health, depending on the ratio of chemicals the makers have included. Most eye-opening is a report that some15 percent of women buy red Valentine’s roses... and send them to themselves. It’s important that others notice the delivery.
But really, there’s nothing wrong with being lover-less. Marriage itself has declined dramatically in popularity anyway with only 48 percent of regular working Americans wed against 84 percent 50 years ago.
You’re standing alone at the party brimming with low expectations, but so is everyone else. If you do find yourself talking to another “merrymaker” it’ll be to hear why he or she never found love, or was cast aside.
A stab in the back, a knife in the heart. Like the immortal Fats Waller, did your lover sneer: “I hate you ’cause your feet’s too big!”?
But tonight – so what! You find yourself quoting Friedrich Engels who philosophized: “All that monogamy achieves is a conjugal partnership of leaden boredom known as domestic bliss.” Well said, that man.
Here you are in your crumpled shirt and scuffed shoes. Aftershave? Just a quick pfssht of WD-40 over your stubble. You didn’t even bother to comb your hair and then it happens. Across a garlic-ed room and looking similarly disheveled - the person of your dreams. You’re suddenly, magically... in love.
Quickquickquick. Rush off to Romance Central at Walmart and grab one of those clay ‘Love Ya’ mugs and a card, the last one left, with the cartoon character and that poetically ardent inscription: “Woo hoo hoo, I love you.”
Never mind the sulfur breath, my dear, have another glass of red wine. You want to get married? Um... sure. But first let’s just get marinated.

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© 2012 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, February 1, 2012

TRANSPORTING THE BIG BROWN EGG


February 1, 2012

This is what’s going to spark the hate mail. I’m braced and ready, so (gulp!) here goes with the statement: American football isn’t football. It’s an uncomplicated, guileless game that relies on speed but mostly size.
Basically, it’s a bunch of big guys wearing gladiator-style helmets and shoulder armor who stand around or bump into each other and fall over. In this intimidating garb, they also get together for what appears to be some kind of intimate group wrestling: I can’t make that out, nor would I want to.
Every once in a while a participant darts out from this cozy gathering and runs off carrying a large brown egg-shaped object that he’s fixing to drop over a white line. Onlookers roar at this point because he is usually being chased by one or more large and angry fellows from the enemy camp whose aim is to injure him. Maybe just to take away the egg.
There aren’t many feet involved in American football: a foot connects with the eggy thing only after another period of group loitering and then only once, sharply.
And what is that brown object anyway? Not a ball, because balls are round – ask any kid. Since that isn’t an actual ball he’s holding, the player could just as easily be transporting anything - an armadillo, maybe a Red Velvet Cake. Splosh! Touchdown! Call the Dixie Bakery for a replacement.
So, no feet, no ball. How is this football?
They say it’s a game representing war. I see grimaces but no guns or swords. Just these enormous padded warriors with names like The Refrigerator, The Bus and Hefty Lefty, occasionally rushing at each other but mostly lollygagging and flexing their armor. And sometimes holding this non-ball doodad in the crook of their arm.
There’s sporadic fast running but also constant, boring stoppages, often long enough to line up for a hot dog or, if nature calls, go splash your sneakers - your Jim Thorpe brand sneakers. I suspect that during the longer time-outs one might be able to take in a movie on one’s iPhone, perhaps the whole of an entirely different ballgame.
To my mind, this American spectacle with the beefy bruisers and the Big Brown Egg is too erratic and simplistic. So let’s see about constant movement and ball artistry.
Association Football, to give soccer its full name, is a game that accommodates a variety of talents. Where a little fellow is just as valuable as a big fellow and those who use their head can be as useful as those with twinkletoes. Where trickery and balance and ball skills are paramount, even though sheer bulk and muscle can also be a great asset in certain situations. Where intelligent running off the ball can draw out opposing players and perfectly timed passing into open spaces allows the receiving player to just run onto the arriving ball.
I’m a sucker for soccer. I played. Even scored a few goals. I was the slowest attacker in the game, though, probably due to this need to stop for a cigarette every ten yards. I was also a dirty player, I’m afraid, The Beast Of The Left Wing had to make up for lack of skill with slide tackles, shirt-pulling and worse. Last game in which I played – more correctly, bared my fangs and went berserk - was against the New York Italians. So lethargic by this time that I was a fullback and, woefully, found myself defending against their star player who wasn’t even Italian. He was a Yugoslav and a reserve for the New York Cosmos, one of America’s major sides back then. Talk about fast and nimble. Sure, I kicked him in the shins, but every time I did he was already gone – all I ever connected with was this guy’s vapor trail.
So how did an English game of such diversity turn into a rush-at-‘em war this side of the water in the first place? And why three different varieties of Gridiron - high school, college and pro - each with somewhat different rules?
It all began in Rugby, England, where, during a game of football, the one involving feet, some spoilsport, oftentimes named as Bill Ellis, picked up the ball and was hunted down by opposing players. Thus began two variations, Rugby League with 13 players and Rugby Union with 15.
Admittedly in rugby, as well as Australian Rules with 18 players, they carry the pointy brown spheroid as well. But that doesn’t make these events football either, even though the injuries are the same in all the game’s variations – always the knees.
Years ago, when I lived in New York in came an unsolicited call asking for my opinion on the New York Jets. I had none.
The caller said he was Mike Lupica of the Daily News. When I replied that I was having dinner and wasn’t terribly interested in that particular sport, nor, while the soup was getting cold, in any other, he said: “What are you, a Communist?” Well, no. I just happen to live for things like wine, women and song. Take it from me, Mr Lupica - much more fun than the Jets,
Naturally, there’s a lot more to American “football”. And before the local curmudgeon distorts my words again I’d better explain that the above is just a lighthearted jab at one of this country’s two major team sports.
Did I mention that in Britain baseball is called Rounders and it’s played by small children?

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© 2012 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.