Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WHICH SIDE OF THE MOUTH TODAY?


June 26, 2012
 
What’s the difference between a hypocrite and a hippo critter? One’s a fickle,  bloated and belligerent pig-like creature with a big mouth and a deceptively benign appearance. The other lives in Africa.
They want our votes, so the hypocrites are back, urging us to elect them for all the brilliant things they’re going to do for our community and our country and once again we can’t believe a single word these prevaricators say. Nothing. There are just too many lies. And too many liars to list here.
Putting aside President Obama and Mitt Romney, we can take a squint  at some of our other politicians
The quintessential hypocrite would be Georgia’s own darling Newt Gingrich. He was the Republicans’ lead attack dog, snarling and snapping at Bill Clinton’s leg for his presidential peccadillos while simultaneously conducting an adulterous affair of his own. The not-very-Reverend Jesse Jackson is another. He rendered spiritual counseling to Clinton for his wayward ways and all along he, too, was committing adultery.
These are two of the characters with the gall to step out front and proclaim themselves our leaders, our role models, individuals we’re supposed to heed.  Dishonest. Dishonorable. Disgraceful. They’re society’s dregs, and I include Billy Liar in this for befouling the White House and our sacred presidency with his sly deceptions and cigar sex with “that woman Miss Lewinsky”. And for his hypocrisy in shunning show-and-tell Congressman Anthony ‘Bulge’ Wiener for a far lesser offense.
There are too many of these double-dealing varmints. Their main characteristic, apart, of course, from their chicanery and lack of integrity, is that they never embarrass. Once caught they’ll just brazen it out, shrug off the guilt as though nothing ever happened. Carry on regardless. Business as usual.
And how easily the rest of us forget.
But this election time we mustn’t be blind to the two-faced people urging us to get them into the legislative jobs that’ll land them big corporate backhanders. Here are some more of these mountebanks:
Sen. David Vitter (R. La), preacher of sexual abstinence - although not for himself. The Vitter critter, a sleazebag with a diaper fetish, was a regular client of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the infamous DC Madam. So he’s a lawbreaker: how can anyone make him a lawmaker?
Vitter demanded Clinton’s resignation whilst himself in bed with hookers. And he’s part of a crowd of pecksniffian lowlifes cloaking themselves in religion. They include Sen John Ensign (R-Nv), Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Charles ‘Chip’ Pickering (R-Ms), all adherents to the secretive Christian “church” on Washington’s C Street and all of them major league philanderers.
They’ve been promoting themselves as champions of “family values”. I value my family, so you guys stay away. Are these the kind of people we want making laws about morals? Or anything?
We have Mark Foley (R-Fl) and Larry Craig (R-Id) voting repeatedly against homosexuals’ rights and then being caught in homoerotic situations, one with young male interns, the other soliciting sex in a Minneapolis men’s room.
On the other side there’s House minority leader Nancy Pelosi who accepted labor union awards while using non-union labor in her vineyard and restaurant chain.
Spotlight, too, the exceptionally slimy serial adulterer John Edwards (D-NC) whose sanctimonious censure in early 1999 of Clinton’s immorality joined the Republican chorus. It rings hollow today. This smiling serpent told folks to get rid of their gas-guzzling SUVs... while keeping three of his own.
Former governor Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) signed America’s toughest anti-prostitution bill in 2007. A year later he was caught with a $1,000-an-hour call girl and over a decade had spent a reported $80,000 on strumpets.
State governors like Bobby Jindal (R-La) and Hayley Barbour (R-Ms) megaphoned their haughty refused of stimulus money to the nation, then, after quietly accepting, doled it out with equally great fanfare as though it came from them, not the Federal government.
On his first day as our governor, ethically-challenged Sonny Perdue limited gifts to state employees at $25, then accepted favors worth thousands from AFLAC and Home Depot lobbyists among others.
Even closer to home there’s Rob Woodall who wants to get rid of “Obamacare” and corral us back at the mercy of the rapacious health insurance companies. Yet under persistent questioning at a Social Circle town hall meeting in May he first conceded, then boasted, that his own medical coverage was free. Oh, and health is the second most generous industry funding his current campaign.
Tea Party dunce Paul Broun is another. This is the buffoon who touts his credentials as a medical doctor although he’s not board certified and therefore excluded from virtually all hospitals. See this fellow, shovel in hand, taking credit for a welding facility at North Georgia Technical College after voting to deny all funding for it.
There are many fine Southern gentlemen, but not these guys. My good neighbors would make far better representatives than these shabby politicians. We should diss them and ditch them; they don’t represent me or my ideals.
Kick the bums out, beginning with the known phonies. Several of the abovenamed are already gone. But along with the hypocrites we should expel the greedy opportunists and the extremists.
Hypocrisy and double-dealing have always been rife in the snakepit that’s Washington D.C. Nothing’s changed. Reporting in 1858 a British journalist described its hippopotamus-like denizens as: “Heavy persons with moist hands, eyes luminous with intoxicating beverages. They convict you of having met them before somewhere. They wildly shake your hand.”
To today’s snide politicians I say: Get your hand away from me!

ENDIT

© 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, June 20, 2012

OH HOW THEY LOVE TO BEFUDDLE US


June 20, 2012

'Scuse me, how much is this? No price tag on it, I guess it must be free. Not free? Okay then, how much for this shirt?
That depends on when you buy it, sir, where you buy it and your method of payment.
How’s that?
Sir, if you buy it now it’s $54.99. If you buy on a Wednesday between 9am and 11am it’s five  percent off. If you lay it away for next week it’s $59.99 and if we have to order your size it’s $66.99 cash in advance.
Come again?
If you buy direct from our warehouse six months ahead of time you can save up to eleven percent but we can’t guarantee color or fit...
Geddaway with this mind-boggling array of prices. All I want is the shirt.
Welcome to the modern way of doing business where they routinely disrespect the customer with sly pricing gymnastics designed to discombobulate. Forget about straightforward shopping; today you’ve got to be on constant alert.
Confusion reigns.
Tried booking an airline ticket lately? Tried unraveling the phone bill or understanding some of the financial services offered by banks and others? Everything’s carefully planned by squads of computer wizards whose job it is to find ways to squeeze the buyer. That’s you and me. We're the sheep. They're the sheepsqueezers.
Take the phone bill. What is all that stuff? We’ve been right all along to wonder about its veracity and now we know for sure. There are unauthorized charges, overcharges, charges for items you know you never ordered or received...
An outfit called TeleTruth singles out Verizon for special scrutiny and, in doing so, blows the lid off the telephone companies’ “many dirty secrets”.
A few years back our phone bill skyrocketed. Suddenly, instead of AT&T our long distance carrier was Qwest, a company we’d never heard of. We’d been “slammed”. Without even telling us, they’d done a switcheroo and hiked the rates. Boss Joe ‘The Juggler’ Nacchio got 70 months’ prison for fraud and $44 million went back to his victims.  
What are the banks up to these days? Try decoding Bankese, the new language they minted that mixes monetary jargon with legal contortions and bathes it all in an unreadable Proust soup to ensure only they can understand it.   
Apparently a bounced check could penalize you as much as $100. Overdraw your account and they can cream you similarly. In both cases the amount by which you defaulted need be only a few bucks, but their usurious fines apply anyway. A customer can be levied up to $370 in one day, reveals the Consumer Federation of America in its latest report.
We’re all aware the big banks are knaves, even thieves. Buried in the fine print are staggeringly high fees for the simplest tasks, even for things the bank doesn’t do like self-service. You can challenge a charge but some banks require that you pay all their legal and other expenses – even if you win your case.
With cable and satellite, crafty providers group the channels in such a way as to make you buy more TV than you want. A la carte? Certainly, Ma’am, but it’s gonna cost ya .
Our satellite company pulled a little maneuver, offering free Starz programming for three months but omitting to mention that by accepting you’d be tied to this outfit for two years. A sneaky trick for a quick buck that also earned them the label ‘untrustworthy’. Complaints about Dish Network are all over the Internet, particularly on a site called Ripoffreport.
It’s one enormous rigged shell game with the consumer the patsy. Even getting away from all this head-spinning jiggerypokery is a hassle.
Let’s bypass the fact that Sardine Airlines (which is all of them) have now reduced the space between seats so that you’re turned into a flying fetus with your knees under your chin.
Finding a decent air fare? It’s like attempting to solve Rubik’s Cube using your earlobes. Which, coincidentally, might be a good deal easier in the embryo position. But all those hidden extras, the prices changing from minute to minute and all the airlines only pretending to compete with one another. Book on the first Thursday of any month beginning in ‘J’ between midnight and 2am when there’s a three quarter moon and the price is $677. That’s for travel on any Tuesday morning between 6am and 6:11am. Book for any flight outside these times and it’s $1,273. Unborn children travel free. Have a nice flight.
Here’s one solution: you set the price. Tell them what you’ll pay. Wifey told American Express if they wanted her to use their card she wouldn’t be paying the annual fee. I offered the phone company my rate for international calls. In both cases the big corporation accepted meekly. It’s simple: stand up to the bullies and they back down.
Tell these corporations: “You’re not to be trusted.” If anyone said that to me I’d be mortified. Maybe they don’t care, but until then...
That shirt, sir. If you want buttons on it that would be extra. Paying cash will save you five percent. Do you have any Frequent Wearer Points?
Ah, and I see you tried that hat on. Sir, there’s a $5 charge for that.
Oh yeah? So sue me for wearing the hat for 30 seconds. Here’s my credit card. I’ll give you twenty bucks for the shirt, complete with collar, buttons, sleeves, the lot. Take it or leave it.

ENDIT

© 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, June 13, 2012

HEY THUMBO! GIVE US ALL YOUR INFO



June 13, 2012

Kayokay. I’m a pleasingly plump girl still in high school and I enjoy bright pink lipstick, short skirts and Lady Gaga. I especially like the Smurf fingernail designs. I’ve listed my friends on my Facebook page. I have a couple thousand friends, all dear, close ones.
To save them the trouble, I’ve also thumb-typed in lots of stuff about all of us - all the things we all like. Isn’t Facebook fun?
Maybe. But the joy you feel is nothing compared to the smug satisfaction Facebook oligarch Mark Zuckerberg has been experiencing since he launched the site in 2004. You smile, he sniggers. Zuckerberg’s yukkin’
He’s been selling your private information to corporate, political and other interests. To the Communist Chinese government as well? Who knows! In Europe he’s being reined in, but not here.
Folks think they’re sharing only with their “friends”. No they’re not. They think when they close their account or quit using it that’s an end to the matter. No it’s not. Facebook’s big cheese has already admitted publicly that any personal details you already posted are out there for good. No way can you erase that stuff: it stays on the main database. Say goodbye to your privacy: we’re Zucker’s suckers.
Same with the other social networks. MyLife, YourLife, everyone’s life, concealing folks who make it their business to poke their nosey noses into our business. Just like the Roach Motel, once you’ve Linked yourself In you can’t link out. And anyway you’ve already been gotcha’d by once-trustworthy Google that revealed in March they tracked everything. They know more about us than our families do. Switch to ixquick? Sure, until the day they compromise you too.
Here’s a young lady’s online whimper: “I tried deleting my account but MySpace won’t let me. Oh well.”
Most troubling here is the final two-word give-up. It says: (sigh) this outfit’s too big to tackle so I’ll just roll over and hope they don’t do anything bad to me. Should we trust them?
No, but we do. You can tell people they’re surrendering their souls to Government spies, Big Business and criminals and they don’t care. Ooh, it’s so-o-o cool having so-o-o-o many friends out there.
Johnnie Popular, whom  I know, boasts of 1,400, including many able young men in Atlanta, where he was stranded when his pickup packed up. Not one friend responded to his texted S.O.S.
Some shadowy people will have noticed, however, that the 22-year-old had a truck and added that to his profile. But who cares, right? It’s just those marketing types; they only want to know what your tastes are in clothes, music, food maybe and then they’ll offer you products and services they think you’ll like. It’s all harmless stuff...
Is it really? Write the word “smart”, even in a joke, and it’ll be picked up by NSA, the National Security Agency, already spying on all of us. Illegally, as it turns out. In 2002 President George W. Bush broke the Fourth Amendment and the law when he signed an order allowing that agency to intercept all our phone calls and e-mails. President Barack Obama perpetuates this crime.
But it’s not just the government that’s prying and it’s not just the NSA. Insurance companies employ teams of peeping toms to build dossiers on those garrulous ninnies who post health, employment, an abundance of assorted data on their pages that can end up biting them in the butt.
“Coverage denied for your brain tumor, Brandi. Pre-existing condition. On May 11 last year you tweeted you’d been getting blinding headaches for months but never saw a doctor.”
The childish photo of you holding a hidden hose so it looks like you’re super-urinating could be why you didn’t get that job you wanted.
These are the “benign” disadvantages. But it’s pointless warning today’s thumbelinos, relentlessly punching their iPhones and Androids, about the pedophiles, the identity thieves and assorted predators chasing information and opportunity.
Hackers got into the Pentagon, CIA and NSA. And last week we learned both LinkedIn and the dating site eHarmony were compromised: a total of eight million passwords stolen.
Fame for everyone isn’t the 15 minutes Andy Warhol predicted: it’s lifelong and once attained it can’t be extirpated.
So for me it’s solong Twitter twits, tweeting their tiresome twaddle. Goodbye LiveJournal, Tagged and Orkut. Adios to the ning-nongs of Ning and to CafeMom, the virtual garden fence over which  housewives now gossip endlessly and vacuously about their ‘DH’s’ (dear husbands).
And a fond toodle-oo to all the gabfest networks that seduce you into donating your private information for the sharks to buy or steal.
Newsflash: Cloud computing is here. But is it secure?
Oh well.
Bob Dylan had it spot on: You can give away your privacy but you can never buy it back. Zuckerberg knows that: he guards his personal life jealously. He conned friends and family into believing they’d been invited to his girlfriend’s graduation bash last month. When they got there they found out it was his wedding.
Meanwhile, still illegally spying on Americans in America, the NSA recently fought (and failed) to keep its own information secret. The words they flag in our correspondence are contained in an Analyst’s Desktop Binder they were forced to release under the Freedom Of Information Act.  
To bamboozle the succubus Zuckerberg, our nefarious NSA and the whole snoopy-snoop world of merchants and politicians and authorities and assorted villains I pretended here that I was a 14-year-old schoolgirl. Pretty good wheeze, huh.

ENDIT

© 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, June 6, 2012

FORSOOTH, THOU GETTEST IT WRONG


JUne 6, 2012

Groan. Here we go again with the battle cry of the unenlightened: “It’s a republic, not a democracy.” Ta-rah! So now these cockeyed town criers want us to ditch the democratic principles this nation fought so long to achieve and plump instead for a...
A what? An oligarchy? Governance by exclusion. Local tea party secretary Mike Crone and Mr. Bob Doster are two gentlemen desperate to have us believe a democracy is the opposite of a republic, which it most certainly is not. Today we elect representatives in a democratic republic.
Complaining about “liberal socialists” who teach that America is a democracy, Mr. Doster shrieks: “Thank God we are not.” But we are, Mr. Doster, do pay attention. It isn’t 1776 anymore. Please adjust your wig and set your timepiece forward 236 years.
That’s the tea party for you, though. And anyone who doesn’t agree with this blinkered bunch must be some kind of communist. Bring back 1950s-style McCarthysim and belch “socialist” and “liberal” like cusswords when their real meaning is “free” and “just”. I can’t let them get away with this. George Orwell warned against  “words used in a consciously dishonest way.”
A Constitution that began “We, the People...” really meant “We, Only Some of the People”, because those who crafted it feared decisions made by the general populace. Therefore they blackballed the underprivileged.
So we want to return to the Framers’ original principles do we? Let’s then examine what the guys in the knee britches laid out and see if it flies today. Here goes:
Votes for white male landowners and wealthy merchants – absolutely! Votes for blacks – absolutely not! Votes for women? No ma’am. No votes for native Americans. No votes for Catholics, Jews or Quakers. No votes for white guys under 21 or any white males who didn’t own land, usually at least 50 acres, or property worth £40 - upwards of $5,000 in modern money. How many of today’s tricorn hat crowd, waving those mis-spelled, grammatically tortured, signs would qualify?
Strict adherence to the Constitution of 1776, is this what we really want? In 2012 that would be unjust, un-American.
No votes for anyone except to choose a representative for Congress. The president selected by electoral colleges (of rich guys) senators elected by States (rich guys again) and Supreme Court appointed by the president (a rich guy). 
In the revolution, the cry for liberty was taken up vigorously by many working Americans but once the British had been shaken off they got a nasty surprise. They were shut out. And the wealthy who now had total control set about grabbing more land from the indigenous tribes and preserving the institution of slavery, both of which had been outlawed by the British.
The American Dream is one of freedom, equality and opportunity. But not in John Adams’ book; he denied poor citizens the vote, musing: “Every man who has not a farthing will demand an equal voice with any other.”
Therefore Mr. Crone is correct this time.  “Our founders,” he writes “despised democracies whether direct or indirect and they said so on many occasions.” Despised? Well, what is true is that once free of British meddling America’s rich new masters feared majority rule and took steps to prevent working Americans from having a say. This is what he wants to go back to? Lady Liberty, tell them keep your tired, your poor...
It fell to Andrew Jackson to end what he called the monopoly of government by elites. He railed against “any prostitution of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many."
And over the following 200 years emancipation reached us all...
Um, should have, but not quite. In Georgia and elsewhere some legislators and pressure groups are setting up hurdles to deny certain sections of the public a voice. Old people, black people, young people, poor people, tired people...
Late at night during a House session last month local extremist candidate Paul Broun attempted to sneak through an amendment to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Bill and curtail the ballots of these Americans. He got caught and publicly shamed. Among those crying foul were his Republican colleagues Frank Wolf of Virginia and California’s Dan Lungren. Broun withdrew his amendment with a sniveling non-apology apology.
They’ll cite “voter fraud” as a reason for erecting barriers against the poor and it’s total baloney. In a recent study, New York University’s Brennan Center For Justice looked into all the listed “vivid anecdotes” and found no credible evidence. Individual voter fraud is as rare as rocking horse manure.
Conversely, the secretive right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) seeks to limit the individual’s rights in many states, although, once spotlighted, funding companies like Coke, Pepsi and Walmart hurriedly opted out.
My question: How insecure are you to feel threatened by the opinions of others? And if you’re using dirty tricks to skew the electorate you must be afraid you’d lose in November.
The electoral college system is way outdated. America is a country of people, not chunks of land or money. One man one vote is the only fair way and those clamoring for “states’ rights” are silencing citizens’ voices, robbing the individual of his freedom. In 2000 the people elected Al Gore but the government elected George W. Bush. No matter the obstacles, we must vote.
Let’s close with that Winston Churchill quote: “Democracy is the worst form of government - except for all those other forms.”

© 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.