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Category: Politics


Permalink 12:58:44 am, by bobcalhoun Email , 1679 words, 12594 views English (US)
Categories: News, Interview, Politics, Wrestling, Television

Mick Foley: Wrestling with Reasonableness

Mick Foley
“Countdown to Lockdown” and its most reasonable author, Mick Foley (Images courtesy of Grand Central Publishing).

Mick Foley is the last person that you’d expect to be honored at something called the Rally to Restore Sanity. In the world of pro wrestling, he’s known for taking sports entertainment to its most masochistic extremes. He’s lost an ear in the ring, and just a little over a week before his appearance at Jon Stewart’s “Million Moderate March,” Foley body slammed a half-naked, 61 year old “Nature Boy” Ric Flair onto a mat covered in very real thumbtacks on Spike TV’s “TNA Impact.” But there is a kindly Dr. Jekyll to Foley’s grappling Mr. Hyde. Outside the ring, he helps build schools in Africa through his giving to Child Fund International and is a passionate supporter of RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an anti-sexual violence nonprofit that Foley first learned about through his devotion to singer-songwriter Tori Amos. Yes, the man dubbed “the Hardcore Legend” in wrestling circles is one of Amos’ biggest fans, both literally and figuratively.

Equally as extreme in his philanthropy as he is in a steel cage match, Foley donated the entire advance for his fourth memoir, “Countdown to Lockdown” (Grand Central Publishing, 2010), to his charities. Although Foley’s previous three memoirs all hit the “New York Times” bestseller list and he still earns a living through wrestling, forfeiting his advance is no small tithe from a man nearing the end of his ability to sacrifice his body on the altar of sports entertainment. Foley writes about living at the twilight of his career in “Countdown to Lockdown” and intersperses stories of his philanthropy with the red meat of his pay-per-view comeback and his parting with Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment. In a recent phone interview, Foley discusses the Rally to Restore Sanity, how he got talked out of going on “The O’Reilly Factor,” and how democrats can tap into their inner pro wrestler.

BOB CALHOUN: Did you ever think that Mick Foley, the hardcore legend, would get an award for sanity?

MICK FOLEY: I don’t know about sanity. It was officially for “reasonableness,” and I know that because I’m looking at it as it hangs around my neck. No, especially because one can argue that many of my actions in and around the wrestling ring were not all that reasonable so I think it’s appropriate that Jon specified that the award is for being reasonable everywhere else but my day job.

BC: You’re not losing an ear for your charitable work.

MF: No, but I’d be willing to.

BC: But that’s almost reasonable–almost.

MF: You know I think that is completely reasonable. If the stakes were high enough I would lose a body part to end sexual violence.

BC: Being at Stewart and Colbert’s rally, what do you think it accomplished?

MF: I loved Jon’s speech at the end of the rally. I think almost everybody who watched could take the story of the cars passing one by one into a small tunnel only by working together to heart. When it’s phrased that way, and when Jon mentioned that we actually do work together in this country everywhere but in congress and on cable television, it struck a chord with people.

BC: In keeping with Stewart’s criticism of the 24-hour news cycle, in “Countdown to Lockdown” you write that you contemplated going on “The O’Reilly Factor” to address the Chris Benoit tragedy, but were talked out of it. (In June 2007, WWE wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and two children and then committed suicide.)

MF: I was talked out of it by a woman at Child Fund International, formerly the Christian Children’s Fund. I told her that I thought that Bill and I could have a good conversation and her quote was, “Yes, you could, but that’s entirely up to him.” I really thought about the coverage that the Benoit murders had received and I realized so much of it was sound bytes and knee jerk reactions. Despite the fact that the cable news channels ran 24-hours a day, there was almost no deep reflection on what may have happened. More recently, the chaos in Iran following the elections ceased to exist once Michael Jackson died. It seems amazing to me to think that the people in charge of the news don’t think that the American people can concentrate on more than one issue at a time.

BC: How do you feel about the beating that your profession took in the recent Connecticut senate race? Was there a better way for Dick Blumenthal and Democrats to criticize Linda McMahon’s tenure as a CEO of WWE?

MF: As someone who is close to the subject and who has fed his children through the business of professional wrestling for their entire lives (I’ve been in it for 25 years; I’ve had a family for almost 19), although Blumenthal won in Connecticut, I think the idea that people were criticizing a form of entertainment enjoyed by millions of people across the country was very condescending and may have led to the feeling Americans had of democrats being out of touch.

BC: Do you think that the Democrats need to get in touch with their inner pro wrestler?

MF: I think they need to make Jim Webb the senate majority leader and attempt to shift the image of democrats from liberal weenies to tough-talking, straight-shooting Americans. I really respect what Harry Reid has done and I think Nancy Pelosi is a great congressperson, but I do not think that people can connect with them at all. If every liberal in the country was willing to give up lattes for two years, you could put those republicans in the unenviable position of having to talk about those “damned whiskey drinking liberals.”

BC: In your new book you have your own criticisms of WWE like the fake McMahon memorial.

MF: I openly criticized them and I thought that a couple of storylines that (the Blumenthal campaign) trotted out to hurt Mrs. McMahon were indeed terrible storylines, but I don’t think that they’re indicative at all of the type of program WWE is. It reminds me of reading Joe Lieberman’s memoir, “In Praise of Public Life,” (Simon & Schuster, 2000) where he warned that with senators who make thousands of votes over the course of their careers, that one or two votes can serve as fodder for political attack ads. As an American citizen watching the fifth game of the World Series, I was just irate over the sheer number of political attack ads coming from both sides. The only person who serves to gain from that is the guy doing the voice-overs.

BC: There’s another part of “Countdown to Lockdown” where you’re cheered by an entire village in Sierra Leone and this isn’t for running your body into exploding barbed wire.

MF: It was such a surreal feeling. I had been on the flight from the US to the UK, and then from the UK to Freetown. I knew that nobody in the country was really was familiar with wrestling at all. I took a ferry from the airport area to Freetown proper. Out of the six or 700 people on that ferry, not one person knew who I was. They looked at me because I was a large white guy with long, unkempt hair, but that was the only thing remarkable about me. Yet when I got to these small villages, child after child was yelling my name. They even had songs they sang in unison, and it turns out that I am known and very well liked solely because I contributed money to help build schools in the area.

BC: How did that change your outlook on things?

MF: First of all I realized that I did not have to commit so many reckless acts to earn the acceptance of people I’d never met. But I also, on a serious note, I came to identify Africa, at least the part of Africa I was in, as a place of hope and joy and not just despair. I really believe education is a key to bringing this continent out of the situation it’s in.

BC: Has Tori Amos been getting more attention from wrestling fans since your book hit the shelves?

MF: (Laughs) Honestly, I do not know. I have not had contact with her since the book was published. The people I know at RAINN who know her, say she’s still very flattered. I imagine that there’s been a lot of people Googling her or checking out the links to certain songs. If she knew that it’s drawing people to a cause like RAINN that she holds so dear, I can’t imagine her minding.

BC: You’ve written four memoirs. Other memoirists write about cooking Julia Childs recipes, or they don’t use toilet paper for a year, or they write about their tawdry sex lives. Do you worry that the success of your writing is too closely tied to getting choke slammed off of steel cages and would you rather have the tawdry sex?

MF: I do write about my sex life, but because it’s mine, I can’t use the adjective tawdry to describe it. I really enjoy telling stories. This book is not doing as well as the others have, but the people who are reading it are enjoying it. Because 100% of the advance was donated to the causes I care about, it’s always seemed like a labor of love to me.

BC: What’s next for Mick Foley?

MF: I’ve got a lot of things on the horizon. I’ve got a movie based on parts of my life that I’m writing along with director Christopher Scott. It’s a movie being produced by Jeff Katz ("Snakes on a Plane") who’s had great success in the motion picture industry. I may dabble in fiction again. I intend to talk RAINN when the opportunity lends itself and hopefully try to make a difference where I can while simultaneously being a dad who’s home a little bit often.


Permalink 11:59:23 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 1412 words, 8224 views English (US)
Categories: News, Politics, California

Comic Con Holy War

margie phelps
Margie Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church protests the San Diego Comic Con.

If Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church had his way, God would be sending Biblical plagues down upon the San Diego Convention Center right about now and turning hundreds of nerds dressed in Batman costumes into pillars of salt.

It’s the first full day of the San Diego Comic Con. I was in front of the Convention Center, trying to cross the street against an unending tide of convention goers carrying oversized bags stuffed with assorted plastic figurines and video games. As I made it to the crosswalk, I saw a man in a checkered shirt on the side of the road holding up a dayglo lime green sign that read, “GOD HATES KITTENS” with a picture of a cat pasted to it. I chuckled and snapped a couple of pictures of him. I’m taking a lot of pics at Comic Con this year. Next to the man with the sign expressing the Lord’s hatred of baby felines was a person dressed like Bender the robot from “Futurama” holding up a sign that read, “KILL ALL HUMANS!” I took some more pictures of the beginnings of a picket line bathed in satire.

I then saw a line of cops behind Bender the robot, and beyond them were the God Hates Fags people. Fred Phelps and his congregation from the Westboro Baptist Church took some time away from protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers to spend a little time waving their hateful placards in the general direction of Comic Con and its annual mega-gathering of movie stars, geeks, nerds, Klingons, stormtroopers and multitudes of gals dressed in Princess Leia slave girl outfits.

I walked past the line of San Diego police officers. “I’m press,” I said, “I want to get some pictures of these people.”

The police let me through but instructed me not to go any further than a concrete barrier that separated the lawn the Westboro Baptists were standing on and the street. The police also told me not to go into the street.

Once I got to the end of the concrete barrier, I snapped a couple of pictures of a woman who turned out to be Margie Phelps, the daughter of Fred Phelps. Her bottom half was wrapped in the American flag and she was holding up four signs at once, two in each hand. This gave her the illusion of more limbs, making her look like a strange pagan goddess of intolerance and hate. One sign said, “Fags doom nations” and another one read, “America is Doomed.” All of their signs have the benefit of really good four color printing. They take pride in these signs.

I asked her if she’d grant an interview and she agreed. Still mindful of the police presence, I inched as closely to her as I could, and held out my digital recorder and started asking questions. The transcript of this conversation is below for those that want to read it, but talking to Ms. Phelps was a little like arguing with a brick. I called her a fame whore, so there’s some satisfaction of that but I do wish that I thought of saying that her cup is filled with the filth of many nations. That would have been a Biblical zinger there, but that wouldn’t have brought a pillar of fire down from the heavens to destroy the Westboro Baptist Church.

God Needs a Starship

As I was conducting my interview with Phelps, more Comic Con attendees had gathered to form a counter protest that started to outnumber the original protest. One guy in a Starfleet uniform held up a cardboard sign that said “God hates Jedi” on one side and “God Needs a Starship” on the other. Other counter protesters held up signs that said, “Support fiction, read the Bible,” and “Odin is God Read ‘The Mighty Thor’ #5″ The comic con goers also rallied themselves for a rousing chorus of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” making the whole thing seem a very serious, or “a very special” episode of “Glee.”

But the best counter-protester was a man dressed like Jesus Christ who was carrying a sign that said, “God Loves Every Body.” Sure, he separated the words every and body, but that’s still a lot closer to what the Bible says about the Almighty’s preferences than anything written on the Phelps family’s signs.

god loves every body
Jesus here has the right idea.

Here is the interview with Margie Phelps. For those of you who got through my interview with Andrew Breitbart, this should be a walk in the park if only because it’s much shorter…

BOB CALHOUN: So why are you out here at Comic Con today?

MARGIE PHELPS: well we’re out here to say that if were to invest one fraction of the resources that you spend and invest in worshiping Batman, and the Ghostbusters and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and so fourth in reading the Bible and obeying God, this nation would not be (garbled).

BC: You seem to be pretty knowledgeable you threw out Buffy there.

MP: We read the news. It’s not hard to track what’s going on in this country. This kind of convention would draw a lot more people than, for instance, a convention about obeying God.

BC: What about the Promise Keepers though? The Promise Keepers fill arenas several times bigger than this.

MP: Promise Keepers. Promise Keepers, dot com, potato, po-tah-toe – all worshiping false Gods.

BC: So the Promise Keepers are worshiping false gods as well…

MP: Of course they are. They are worshiping themselves, first and foremost. It’s just another false religion.

BC: So who are the real Gods then?

MP: You mean who are the real servants? There’s only one God and you know it and all mankind knows it. It’s in your DNA. The Promise Keepers claim to worship the only true and living God, but instead they worship their works and self righteousness and that’s every bit as wrong as these foolish people worshiping Batman and all.

BC: Okay, Batman I understand, but why picket the soldiers’ funerals.

MP: Because the soldiers are dying for the sins of this nation and the whole world is looking over at those events. They are big, splashy, patriotic pep rallies. We’ve picketed over 500 of them. They’re great, big, giant public events. Why not picket them?

BC: It’s really tacky. These people are grieving. These families lost somebody.

MP: They’re not grieving. They’re angry with God and they’re mugging for the cameras, and they’re mugging for the cameras and they’re bringing all their business outside… Let me finish. They’re bringing all their business outside on Front Street and Main Street for everyone to talk about.

BC: At a cemetery? That’s Main Street?

MP: Number one, we don’t picket cemeteries. We picket on public sidewalks, 30 minutes before the funeral, and we leave when it starts. Have you ever been there picketing? I have. I see what goes on.

BC: But aren’t you people just mugging for the cameras? You’re here at Comic Con. You’re at Ronnie James Dio’s funeral. Aren’t you just being fame whores just like the whores of Babylon you purport are in there (pointing to the San Diego Convention Center)?

MP: We’re using any public forum available to get these words before the eyes and ears of doomed America. (Raising her voice) We are not claiming…

BC: I think you’re just fame whores like the people in there (Note: Sylvester Stallone was in there somewhere).

MP: And I don’t care. Now going back to what sprung you off onto that side trail, we don’t claim that we’re privately mourning for our dead son. They do.

BC: How are you supposed to know that though? How are you supposed to know whether they are mourning privately or not? What made you God? Does God speak to you?

MP: By their public actions. I don’t care or know or care what they do in private. We don’t speak to them in their private quarters. We speak to them when they come out on the public sidewalk. And that’s what all of America is doing, bowing down to those dead bodies saying, “God Bless America” like a bunch of fools.

(NOTE: I’m sure we could have gone on like this all day, but I asked Phelps for her name and ended the interview after that one because the counter-protest was really heating up.)


Permalink 10:47:19 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 514 words, 16627 views English (US)
Categories: Politics, Wrestling

Obama Channels John Cena

President Obama sounded strangely familiar as he wrapped up his State of the Union address. It was that mix of mea culpas and defiance. I had heard this somewhere before. Maybe not verbatim, not word for word, but the flow was similar. And then it dawned on me. My God, Obama sounds just like former and fallen World Wrestling Champ John Cena from Monday Night RAW about a month ago! Cena had just lost the title to the dastardly and hated Sheamus (yes that’s how the spell it). The democrats have just lost Ted Kennedy’s senate seat. Obama has failed to deliver on healthcare and the economy. Both men know they have let their most ardent supporters down. For Cena, whether he regains the title is entirely in the hands of the WWE scriptwriters and management. For Obama, it’s a lot more complicated. Here’s selected text from the two speeches and see the similarities for yourself.

First, here’s the President from the closing moments of the State of the Unions speech:

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going – what keeps me fighting – is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism – that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people – lives on.

‘…We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

And here’s John Cena:

I wanted to apologize to anybody that I might have let down last night. This is… this is kind of hard to understand, but sometimes you can try so hard at something. Sometimes you can be so prepared, and still fail. And every time you fail, it’s painful, it causes sadness, and especially as I saw last night, it causes disappointment. I’ve often said a man’s character is not judged after he celebrates a victory, but by what he does when his back is against the wall. So no matter how great the setback, how severe the failure, you never give up. You never give up, you pick yourself up, you brush yourself off, you get up and move on and overcome and that is what I believe! So… there are those who were so offended by my actions last night that they might have lost faith in me. I absolutely respect your decision to do so. But I’m not talking to them… I’m talking to those people who still believe! Tonight, I speak to those who still proudly stand in my corner! You have not given up on me, and I will NOT give up on you!


Permalink 05:20:10 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 1520 words, 7224 views English (US)
Categories: Politics, Wrestling

I Sing the Body Ventura

Jesse "The Body" Ventura
Jesse “The Body” Ventura displays his political acumen.

When Jesse “The Body” Ventura won the Minnesota governorship in 1998, it must have given other high profile bodybuilders a feeling of inadequacy that they likely hadn’t felt since they were skinny runts getting sand kicked in their faces. Less than a month after Ventura’s upset victory, Hulk Hogan announced a bid for the presidency of the United States that barely made it through a couple of talk show appearances. Hogan’s reason for running was that he was “10 times more popular” than Ventura. In 2003, when Ventura decided not to run for reelection, Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up the gubernatorial torch and became “The Governator” of California in the recall election that same year. In order to decisively one-up Ventura (his Predator co-star), Arnold won re-election in 2006 and sunk the California economy in the process. Jesse “The Body” envy can drive an oiled up muscleman to extreme levels of electoral lunacy.

Following last week’s big announcement that Arnold won’t be running for office again, and Hulk Hogan’s signing with TNA, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ventura is resurfacing. Those guys tend to work like that. Tonight, Ventura is returning to his old stomping grounds to host a three-hour Thanksgiving episode of the WWE’s Monday Night RAW. Like all RAW guest hosts (or all guests on any TV talk show), Jesse’s there to shamelessly plug his latest project, a Tru TV show called Conspiracy Theory that looks like a less funny version of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!. But as he trades verbal barbs with the current WWE roster, Ventura might be rubbing elbow-drops with the future political leadership of America. After reading the tealeaves, here is my expert analysis of the political prospects of some of Vince McMahon’s top superstars…

John Cena and MVP
WWE Champ John Cena (left) and regular guest on “The View,” MVP (right).

JOHN CENA: The current WWE champ’s freakish ability to lift two wrestlers with a combined weight of over 600 pounds onto his shoulders before slamming them to the mat shows that he could probably even elevate the ailing economy of his native Massachusetts. As a candidate he’d be a dream. He supports our troops, has won an award from the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Hollywood salute that he learned for his action movie turn as The Marine (2006) gives him a touch of the Reaganesque. However, in order to run for elected office he’d have to lose those baggy denim shorts of his. Even Arnie traded in his Terminator leather jacket and shades for a suit when he entered the political arena. Cena could become a political force in ten years when his rabid pre-adolescent fans finally become old enough to vote.

MVP: This former United States champ has been seen currying the favor of Sherri Shepherd on ABC’s The View a lot lately and that could be a smooth political move. Boosting one’s cachet with that daytime TV audience proved crucial to the success of the Schwarzenegger and Obama campaigns and Sarah Palin’s appearance on Oprah has definitely generated a lot of buzz. Although MVP has the charisma and the oratory skills for public life, he also has a conviction for burglary that could keep him from even voting in his home state of Florida let alone getting on the ballot there. While acts of burglary are often committed by our political class, most successful pols save their lawbreaking for when they are safely in office. Whereas MVP served 8 ½ years in an actual prison for crimes he committed when he was 16 years old, felonious elected officials are usually remanded to appear on Sunday morning talk shows, The Apprentice or Dancing with the Stars.

Jericho lobbies Sharpton
Tag-team titlist Chris Jericho lobbies for the endorsement of one-time democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton.

CHRIS JERICHO: Yes, this co-holder of the unified tag-team belts is Canadian but he was born in New York, so unlike Arnold, he can still run for president. His other potential negative is that he’s a bad guy who regularly refers to wrestling fans as “gelatinous tapeworms.” But remember, Jesse always played the part of the heel too and that didn’t stop him from moving into the governor’s mansion. What makes Jericho interesting in today’s polarized political landscape is that he’s a born again Christian who not only gets irony, but revels in it. Some of this may be due to his growing up in a country that already has a universal healthcare system so his faith isn’t automatically combined with a rabid belief in death panels and birther conspiracies. Jericho’s ability to maintain his Christian beliefs while still being way into to 80s metal makes him the ultimate crossover candidate.

SANTINO MARELLA: Marella provides an ethnic comedy relief that we haven’t seen since the days of Chico Marx but it’s doubtful that his clueless Guido shtick will endear him to Italian-Americans. His donning of a tight skirt and wig to win the “Miss WrestleMania” crown is equally unlikely to win the GLBT or women’s vote for him. If only Marella was really Italian instead of Canadian, he might have a legit shot at the Italy’s Parliament. If the Italians would vote in Cicciolina the porn queen or Moussolini’s granddaughter or, hell, Silvio Burlusconi, what’s to stop them catapulting Marrella into high office? Think about it Santino.

JERRY “THE KING” LAWLER: This Southern wrestling legend and longtime RAW color commentator is best known for giving a vicious piledriver to Andy Kaufman, but he’s also a two-time candidate for mayor of Memphis, Tenn. The first time Lawler ran was in 1999 (the same year that Ventura was sworn in as governor) and the second was in a special election earlier this month. Both times Lawler came up short. Although he garnered only four per cent of the vote this last time around, I wouldn’t be surprised if this river boat gambler tries to make the third time a charm. This still begs the question for Jerry: why would you want to be mayor when you’re already the king?

TRIPLE H aka HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY: By marrying WWE heiress Stephanie McMahon, Triple H has put himself in the company of recent presidential contenders John McCain and John Kerry. Having what Rush Limbaugh would deem a “sugar daddy wife” (but only if you’re a democrat) on your arm, whether she’s the inheritor of a beer, ketchup or grappling fortune, can almost get you to the top but you still might come up short come election day. I’m sure that Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley’s winning ways with audiences will be just as much of a boon to any Triple H candidacy as Cindy McCain and Teresa Heinz-Kerry were to their husbands’ presidential aspirations. Under normal circumstances, the presidential also-ran who is married to an heiress could look forward to a long career in the senate to salve the wounds of rejection by the electorate, however certain familial circumstances may deny Triple H this booby prize…

LINDA McMAHON: She’s Triple H’s mother-in-law, Vince McMahon’s wife, former WWE CEO and candidate for Chris Dodd’s Connecticut senate seat. Like other successful businesswomen entering Republican primaries such as former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina or former eBay Pres. Meg Whitman, McMahon may be “too liberal” for the rabid tea-bagger wing of today’s GOP. 1970s wrestling king and Goldwater conservative, “Superstar” Billy Graham (a big influence on both Hogan and Ventura), has already chastised McMahon over the WWE’s penchant for “bra and panties matches” and encouraging steroid use. Graham is supporting conservative congressman Rob Simmons in the primary and you can expect Glenn Beck to do the same. On her side, Linda McMahon sports a slight lead over Dodd in recent polls as well as a $50 million war chest. Just don’t expect followers of Beck’s 9/12 Project to consider such things when drumming blue-state republicans out of the party over ideological impurities.

* * *

So tonight, Jesse “The Body” returns to the WWE to once again bask in the limelight generated by the company that put him on the national stage. Just don’t expect him to stick around too long. Jesse’s got his new cable show to think about. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair may be beating each other bloody in a tour of Australia right now, but Ventura won’t follow his contemporaries back into the squared circle. Jesse’s always known that the hard thing in wrestling isn’t making your big comeback; it’s staying away. The same can certainly be said for politics.

The special 3-hour Thanksgiving episode of RAW with guest host Jesse “The Body” Ventura airs tonight at 8pm on the USA Network.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’ll be back on December 3 with my review of Steven Seagal’s loony foray into reality television, Lawman. Special thanks to Greg Franklin for coming up with the rad title of this article.


Permalink 10:45:03 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 1744 words, 9570 views English (US)
Categories: Politics, San Francisco

The Arnold Budget Bash-O-Rama: The Prequel

Arnold on Streets

If he hasn’t done so already, Governator Schwarzenegger is going to sign a real shite-bomb of a budget this morning. Since I’ve given you blogs on the lamentation of my salary and my guide to Arnold-free action flicks, I figure it’s time to make my Arnold Budget Bash-O-Rama a true trilogy. They love trilogies in the sci-fi/fantasy/action genre. But not only is this the third installment of the series, it’s also a prequel! We’re going all the way back to 1977 for Arnold’s appearance in a later season episode of Streets of San Francisco where he plays a crazed Austrian bodybuilder with a major case of ‘roid rage. Somewhat disturbingly, it’s also Schwarzenegger’s most autobiographical work this side of Pumping Iron. We can call this trip down memory lane a reboot and blame it all on time traveling Romulans. Hey Romulans, can you reboot the California Constitution while you’re at it? Just a thought.

The kinetic and jazzy opening theme starts. We’re treated to a credit sequence that leans heavily on the zoom lens. The voiceover almost becomes the song’s lyrics: “The Streets of San Francisco/A Quinn Martin Production/ Starring Karl Malden.” For original Battlestar Galactica fans, this episode also stars Richard Hatch as Inspector Dan Robbins. Michael Douglas, Malden’s original co-star, had already left the series in order to produce One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). The split must have been amicable because Steve Keller (Douglas’ character) didn’t die in an exploding helicopter or anything. Keller did leave the force to teach at something called the “Berkeley College.” I bet he’s getting furloughed right about now. Tonight’s episode is called “DEAD LIFT.” You’ve gotta’ love those Quinn Martin titles.

Richard Hatch/Dead Lift

There’s a quirk to the construction of 70s crime dramas. They usually begin by following the antagonist as he/she/they commit a criminal act, with our main characters only joining the story once they are called in to investigate. If an episode of Streets or Starsky and Hutch begins by focusing on the show’s leads, it usually means that one of them is going to be taken hostage by the middle of act two. This episode follows the standard form however. Arnold as Josef Schmidt is jogging around the lake in Golden Gate Park. An out of breath but still aloof liberal chick catches up to him and persuades Arnie to go back to her off-campus apartment. Once at her pad, she gets him to take off his shirt, rub baby oil on his pecks and give her an impromptu pose-down. She giggles at Arnie uncontrollably while he’s flexing. “I am not a freak! I am not ugly! It’s what a body is supposed to look like!” he rages as he violently shakes that cultural elitist to death before hightailing it out of the apartment.

Arnold is not a freak
Arnold is not a freak!

Stone (Malden) and Robbins arrive on the scene of the crime. The murdered woman’s doormat of a boyfriend is on hand to fill the investigators in on the details. She had just graduated from SF State which means she at least avoided CSU’s 20% tuition hike before our Governor squeezed the life out of her. The boyfriend also tells us that she “had this thing for sociology” which led her to bring home construction workers, firemen, and trash collectors to “see what they were thinking.” Stone and Robbins find a cassette tape that she had made of Arnold yelling “I am not a freak” before she died. They also find traces of baby oil.

The day starts out crappy and just keeps getting worse for Arnold. After committing accidental homicide, he shows up to his job lifting empty beer kegs at the Anchor Steam brewery to find out that he’s going to be fired because he works too hard. He’s putting too much pressure on those bearded and lazy union types by being too good. Something called “efficiency experts” are also to blame for this. “I’m here to work!” Arnie rages as he tosses around more empty beer kegs and cases of beer. It’s worth noting that this scene seems to have shaped Arnold’s political views as if this really happened to him. Since becoming governor, he’s launched several ballot initiatives to bust the unions. During Reagan’s second term as president, the early effects of Alzheimer’s disease led him to recount scenes from his movies as if they were real. If Arnold follows in the footsteps of the Gipper and starts to suffer from some kind of human growth hormone induced dementia later in his political career, this is the sequence that he will mistake for reality.

Malden Schwarzenenegger
Left: Karl Malden. Right: Arnold gets canned at by Anchor Steam. They may have been onto something over there.

Stone and Robbins find a witness who saw Arnold and the victim leaving Golden Gate Park together. The wit also shows the inspectors that Arnold lumbers around like some kind of constipated robot. Stone asks the SFPD judo instructor about guys who walk around like constipated robots. The judoka tells him that he’s looking for someone with “over-developed lats.” Stone and Robbins then question a cigar chomping carnie at a pro wrestling gym. “Good lookin’ strong guys can make a fortune in the rasslin game,” he informs Stone. Stone then asks if any of his grapplers use baby oil. “Baby oil,” the wrestling promoter sneers, “You know you’re looking for a pretty boy. One of those Mr. America types. They rub the oil on, you know, to show off their meat.”

Arnold goes home to have a have a heart-to-heart with his alcoholic landlord who tells him that guzzling bourbon sure beats pumping iron. “Don’t you know that your body’s a temple?” Arnold asks the old codger in frustration. The landlord says that he’s “worshipping the spirits” and that the rent’s still due. Arnie is forced to earn some scratch as an artist’s model, posing in strange, tan-colored man panties. Another liberal woman (Diana Muldaur), this one older and more desperate takes him home to her apartment where she tells Arnold that he is an artist who “uses his own body as clay.” Arnold gets lucky this time.

Stone and Robbins’ investigation leads them to a claustrophobic body builder gym where grimy muscle heads with bad hair pump iron and are hustled by a skinny grifter in an old school jogging suit. The huckster running the gym (Bert Freed) is a Joe Weider type who is only slightly more trustworthy than the wrestling promoter. Still, he helps Stone and Robbins narrow down their leads and once they pull some military records, they’re hot on the trail of the Governator. They go to an old address of Arnie’s and question his previous drunken landlord. She tells them that she had to throw him out because of all the “clangin’ and bangin.’” Remember when San Francisco was filled with cranky, boozehound landlords instead of the yuppie property speculators the city is plagued by today? Ah, the good ol’ days.

Arnold’s new lady friend (man she moves fast) convinces him to sign up for the “Mr. San Francisco” contest that is conveniently being held later that afternoon in order to boost his confidence. If there’s one thing Arnold lacks, I guess, it’s confidence. She mistakenly brings some college-educated, wine drinking, Nancy Pelosi loving, Gavin Newsom hugging pals of hers to the tournament to meet her new man. One of the libs refers to Arnold as “ferocious, jungle-like.” He then chortles loudly as Arnie strikes a pose and quips, “I can see why you didn’t want me to have that fourth cocktail. You were afraid I would throw up.” Arnold catches wind of this but manages to take second place anyway.

Chortling libs
Chortling libs mock Arnold’s physique.

Arnold makes it back to the lady friend’s pad before totally losing it. “What good is it being best at something if nobody understands what you’re best at?” he emotes before shattering a bunch of vases and punching holes in paintings. “It is progressive resistance! In progressive resistance you go from something light to something heavy like this!” he says as he busts up a coffee table. Some uniformed police officers arrive but the sight of public employees only sends Arnold into more of a rage. He easily bats one away and subdues the other.

Arnold grabs cop.
Governor Schwarzenegger appropriates city-owned assets by physically grabbing their police personnel.

Robbins and Stone show up on the scene with their guns drawn. There is mild disappointment that we don’t get to see Karl Malden go one-on-one with the Austrian Oak, but it isn’t to be. If it were an episode of Cannon, you know we’d be seeing William Conrad opening up a can of blubbery whup-ass all over Schwarzenegger. Instead, Stone/Malden gets a handle on the situation by asking: “How many times are you going to hurt people?”

“Until they stop laughing!” Arnold answers while clutching a middle aged cop in his vice-like grip. And there’s the problem. We laugh at Arnold’s accent, his muscles and his gap-toothed grin. We laugh at his movies when we’re supposed to as he delivers one liners in Kindergarten Cop (1990) and when we’re not as he’s badly dubbed in Hercules Goes Bananas (1970). We laugh at his commentary track on the Conan DVD (thanks Holzfeuer) and we laugh at Dead Lift. We just can’t stop laughing at Arnold. But until we do, he’s going to keep on cutting with that big fucking knife of his and hurting the elderly, poor kids without medical care, students at all levels, cities, counties and everyone who works for them. And as Streets of San Francisco brings me insight into one of the most captivating figures of my lifetime, I realize that ArnoCorps, a punk metal band devoted to ruthlessly mocking Arnold at every turn has a new EP ready to drop. Arnold’s gonna’ slash and burn no matter how much Malden lays into him with a stern talking to.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Streets of San Francisco airs weekdays at 11am on KOFY TV-20 (cable channel 13). They’ll show Dead Lift sooner or later. Watch for it.


Permalink 11:41:02 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 1460 words, 13617 views English (US)
Categories: News, Politics

The California Budget Crisis Guide to Arnold-Free Action Flicks

Non-Arnold Action

On Tuesday, Governor Schwarzenegger announced another 2,000 layoffs, making many California residents more than a little bummed by having a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Terminator that “absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead” as our state’s highest elected official. As budget talks drag on, more IOUs are issued and rhetoric becomes stale to the point of petrifaction, even the most testosterone addled Golden State movie buff can become queasy at the sight of Arnie chomping on a stogie and blowing shit up. Although mindless enjoyment of Terminator, Conan and Commando may now be almost impossible, Reagan era defense spending has provided us with a diverse supply of oily biceps and big guns that don’t belong to Arnold. Here is my painstakingly compiled top-ten list of Arnold-free action flicks:

10) ABRAXAS: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (1991): You want a governor, you’ve got a governor. Jesse “The Body” Ventura shows off acting chops that make you understand why he went into politics as he plays a space cop sent to save the Earth from his former partner turned renegade who impregnates human chicks with alien embryos. This film can often be found in dollar store DVD bins, making it the right entertainment choice for the recently unemployed or those socking away money as they brace themselves for potential layoffs.

9) SILENT RAGE (1982): It’s Chuck Norris versus the Terminator! What more can a guy ask for? Actually this flick came out a full two years before Arnie donned a pair of shades and said, “I’ll be back.” Chuck squares off against an unkillable killer akin to those seen in then-recent slasher films like Halloween and Friday the 13th, thus satisfying our prurient need for both 80s splatter and taekwondo ass kicking in the process.

8) THE SWORD AND THE SORCEROR (1982): Tired of Conan? Meet Talon (Lee Horsely of TV’s Matt Huston), a royal heir turned barbarian adventurer who beats up thugs with a mutton leg. The evil Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) unleashes and then double-crosses a demon sorcerer (Richard Moll AKA Bull from TV’s Night Court) in order to seize a kingdom from its rightful leader (sorry to bring up the recall election) and only Talon and his rad three bladed sword that launches projectiles like an unsafe Micronauts toy can restore justice. Joining Talon is a team of swashbuckling johns assembled at a local brothel who take time out from getting their relaxers to save a kingdom. Ample bosoms and beheadings plus a crucifixion for good measure.

7) OVER THE TOP (1987): Sly Stallone is an independent trucker named Lincoln Hawk who decides to bond with his estranged military school brat son (David Mendenhall) by practically kidnapping the kid, making him listen to maudlin pop music and dragging him to an arm wrestling competition in Vegas. At the tournament, Hawk comes up against various disgruntled Teamster types in an ugly face contest where competitors desperately grunt, drool and scowl at each other in order to win the grand prize of a new semi truck that they can hopefully sell to help pay for skyrocketing medical co-pays. Will Sly the Guy be able to teach his son how to arm wrestle and flex his neck muscles or will megalomaniacal grandpa Robert Loggia and henchman Terry Funk send the boy to Harvard instead?

6) KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS (1989): This flick begins with Charles Bronson brandishing a 12-inch dildo and saying, “Now I’m going to show you what you do to those little girls,” to a perv that he’s just shoved down face-first onto a hotel room bed. As the screen fades to black you can hear the moans and screams of said perv. We then cut to a scene of Bronson washing his hands! This Cannon Films production somehow, against well nigh impossible odds, manages to get even more sleazy and just plain wrong from there making Kinjite the cinematic equivalent of huffing turpentine.

5) SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1989): California voters weren’t the first ones to fall prey to Schwarzenegger’s charisma and aptitude for psychological warfare. Before us, Lou Ferrigno was hoodwinked by the Austrian Oak during the buildup to the 1975 Mr. Universe competition. Arnold won, leaving Louie as a runner up. The two had parallel film careers. Arnold became one of the highest paid movie stars of all time, while Lou ended up in low- budget but strangely arresting Italian-made fantasy potboilers like this one. Directed by Luigi Cozzi, the man who brought us the best Italian Star Wars ripoff ever with Star Crash, Sinbad of the Seven Seas opens up with a mind-bending, almost incongruous intro within an intro about Edgar Allan Poe. Who was Edgar Allan Poe? Why don’t you go check the library? Oh yeah, they’ve all been closed down due to budget cuts.

4) HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986): Before Clint Eastwood became the venerated director of such Oscar worthy fare as Million Dollar Baby (2004) or Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) he wasn’t above helming this 21-gun salute to the US military triumph at Grenada. Eastwood plays Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway, a decorated ‘Nam vet charged with whipping a platoon full of fuckwits into shape for the greater glory of God, Country and Ronald Reagan. Mario Van Peeples plays the rappin’, guitar slinging, ring-leader of the class clowns that Clint has to motivate with a flurry of lines like: “I’ve drunk more beer and banged more quiff and pissed more blood and stomped more ass that all of you numbnuts put together.” Clint also punches out a steroided out Arian lug enabling disenchanted Californians to live vicariously through him.

3) DELTA FORCE (1986): It’s Chuck Norris tag teaming with none other than Lee Marvin in a cross between Missing in Action and The Dirty Dozen! Bearded Chuck and grizzled Lee head up an elite rescue team dispatched to rescue a plane that’s highjacked by Iranian terrorists. Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), heavily tinted by tan in a can, is the lead Jihadist and delivers the best badguy line in Farsi ever when he tells one of his thugs to “go over there and kick him in the head.” Among the plane’s passengers are George Kennedy, Joey Bishop, Shelly Winters and Martin Balsam, which gives the film the extra spice of a 1970s Airport (or Airplane for that matter) disaster flick. Norris has a super motorcycle (reminiscent of those seen in the similarly titled sci fi clunker Mega Force) that launces rockets at Islamic extremists. Warning: this film’s heroic score is so mindlessly infectious that it will get stuck in your head for decades no matter how much Popov Vodka you consumed in a multiplex parking garage before seeing this movie.

2) DEATH WISH 3 (1985): This movie is living on a fixed income; I swear that the same exact TV set is stolen at least three times in this thing from three different apartments. However, what producers Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan spared on art direction, they made up for by cramming more senseless violence into this entry in the Death Wish franchise than any other (and that’s really saying something). Due to police department staffing reductions and draconian cuts in human services, elderly white people and hardworking Latinos are left to the mercies of an army of punkers with painted faces and parachute pants. Bronson trades in his little nickel plated .38 for a hefty Browning automatic rifle to show that he can out-Rambo Stallone any day of the week despite being more than eligible for AARP membership. The action resembles both a stage play and a shooter game (or maybe whack-a-mole) as thugs stick their heads out of tenement buildings and Bronson blows them away.

1) ROADHOUSE (1989): Possibly the only 80s action flick with as many rad lines as Predator. “I heard you had balls big enough to come in a dump truck… I used to fuck guys like you in prison… My way or the highway… Pain don’t hurt…” It just goes on and on. Patrick Swayze is Dalton, a mullet-headed bouncer with a PhD in philosophy, but any true cineaste knows this already. It’s like knowing that Clark Gable is Rhett Butler. For those of you who are way too into the Coen Brothers, Road House bears strange similarities to The Big Lebowski (especially in the casting of Ben Gazzara and Sam Elliott). For those of us impacted by the current recession, this barroom brawling epic illustrates how the small business owner is crushed by greedy monopolies that set prices and freeze out competition. Now if only Dalton could take on Wal-Mart.

In preparation for this article, several of these films were viewed on old laserdiscs. Any way to stretch a buck.

Special thanks to Rosie Picado for the illustration.


Permalink 10:13:01 am, by bobcalhoun Email , 1232 words, 15306 views English (US)
Categories: Politics, California

Schwarzenegger hears the lamentation of my 8% pay cut

I work for a major California public university. My pay is probably going to be cut by eight percent next month. I’m one of the lucky ones. My fellow state workers at the DMV and other state agencies have been eating an eight per cent pay cut for months already. Now they are told they have to up their sacrifice to 15%. But those of us with jobs, no matter how devalued, are luckier still. At least we’re still working (for the time being).

Arnold Schwarzenegger, our Governator, told the state legislature in May that he sees the pain in our eyes and hears the fear in our voices. He didn’t let on that this was music to his ears. “What is best in life?” a Mongol chieftain asks the young Conan in Arnold’s first summer blockbuster, Conan the Barbarian (1982). “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women,” Arnold as Conan stoicly answers to the applause of his warrior masters. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine that ran earlier this month, Arnold said that he relaxes in a Jacuzzi with a stogie and refuses to let those harsh choices he has had to make get him down. With each pay cut, layoff, benefits decrease, fare hike for public transit, park closure, reduction in services to poor children and the elderly, Arnold most definitely hears the lamentation of their women.

But how did I become one of Arnold’s enemies to be crushed and driven before him? I begged my dad to take me to see Conan when I was 12 years old. Despite its R-rating, my dad relented. I think he wanted to see the movie too. “Lots of boobs, lots of beheadings” was my dad’s glib review to my stepmom after returning from the UA-6 proto multiplex in Redwood City. I guess that was two thumbs way up.

I went to see Predator at the Stanford Theatre, a single screen job that’s now a revival house kept afloat by funds from David Packard. As the end credits rolled, my friends and I swore we could remember each line of dialog from it as if we had seen it ten times. “Stick around… This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus… We’re all gonna’ die… Dug in like an Alabama tick… You’re one ugly mother fucker.” Our belief that we could recall each of the film’s lines verbatim in those days before the advent of IMDB made us love the film all the more.

After seeing an Arnold movie, I’d put a little extra effort into the strength training part of my high school PE class. For weight sets, our school utilized these rusty metal bars that had oversized tin cans filled with hardened concrete attached to each end of them. I did extra reps of military presses, behind the head presses and other muscle building exercises. Coach Parks made me do lots of Bear runs (our high school’s mascot was the bear – like my current place of employment). The Bear Run was about a half mile. I did it very slowly but I did it. I then did more reps with those makeshift barbells before taking off for another bear run. I never saw the results that I wanted. Casting agents weren’t going to call me to be part of Schwarzenegger’s next rescue team any time soon. I was still a fat kid. Nobody told me that I had to do steroids to look like Road Warrior Hawk or Hulk Hogan. The weight lifting mags assumed that you knew this already—that you were in on the gag. There’s a saying in pro body building: “Body building without steroids is like NASCAR without gasoline.” Arnold always was full of a lot of gas, it turns out.

Arnold is ruining his legacy. Not the legacy of seizing the governorship of California through the recall election. Not his landslide reelection that looked so uncertain only months before when the entire slate of ballot initiatives backed by him went down in a steaming heap as voters rejected them one by one. No, he is ruining the only legacy of his that matters: the legacy of sometimes classic but mostly crappy action movies. It will be hard to watch them on late night cable TV because, well, if I’m smart, I’ll dump the cable TV. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) fares just went up six per cent and the San Francisco MUNI bus line increased its standard fares to a whopping two bucks, mostly due to cuts in state subsidies. Work pays me less but it costs more to get there. No more on demand 80s action nostalgia for me. Maybe I still have old pan and scan VHS copies of some of those movies in a big Sterlite storage bin under my house. But even if I do, I doubt I’ll want to watch them.

Arnold, if you are reading, they are making a new Conan movie without you. Why can’t you abdicate like your equally fame seeking colleague Sarah Palin and make another Conan flick instead? Here’s the pitch: you are Conan as an older man. You have conquered. You are the bearded guy sitting at the ornate throne at the end of the first movie. The burden of leadership both weighs heavily on your brow and isn’t what you had thought it was going to be. You are held captive in your palace, no longer allowed to lead your armies into victory. You can use this multi-million dollar summer epic to reflect upon your years in politics and maybe even scoop up rare (for you) critical raves in the process. “I want to lead but these bureaucrats won’t let me!!!” You can scream in your thick Austrian accent, while no doubt hurling some heavy object encrusted with precious gems at the end of the film’s first act. As act two draws to a close, you can be about to lead your horde into battle once again, in defiance of your political advisors. During the film’s climax, you will perish in battle from multiple battle axe wounds. It’s the way that Conan should go out after all. People will cry just like they do when King Kong goes tumbling down the Empire State Building or the Wolf Man is finally plugged with that silver bullet, releasing him from his curse. This film writes itself Arnold and you need to be in it. Johnny Milius can direct. It’s too bad that Mako isn’t around to narrate. Maybe Dolby or Lucas can devise some kind of Mako simulator.

There’s a homeless guy in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco who panhandles in the median strip on South Van Ness while wearing a dirty Arnold Schwarzenegger t-shirt. It has a pic of Arnold as Conan, flexing his muscles and brandishing a broadsword. “Welcome to Kalee-Forniah” it says underneath our governator’s oiled up mid section. I bet that guy doesn’t get quite the health services that he used to. Maybe we should silk screen a new shirt for him that reads: “Arnold is governor and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

Crush Your Enemies


Permalink 11:47:51 am, by bobcalhoun Email , 424 words, 3853 views English (US)
Categories: News, Politics

Amazon's Accidental Fatwa

I wonder when the overlords of Amazon.com (or maybe mere hackers) will realize that my punk wrestling memoir, Beer, Blood and Cornmeal, deals with GLBT themes? I mean it has gay characters and parodies of gay characters. It also has a pic of a man’s wiener reproduced in full color (IE: He Who Cannot Be Named of the Dwarves in all of his public and pubic glory). As of right now my bestselling book is still ranked. It even cracked the wrestling book top 20 for the first time in a month or so. Of course Amazon would never think that a book on pro wrestling could possibly be gay.

Over the weekend, Amazon.com deranked a wide range of books by gay or lesbian authors and books with GLBT themes. Amazon basically classified the offending materials (many of them sci fi books with gay themes) as pornography, making them harder to find with regular Amazon searches. They deranked David Gerrold’s Martian Child for some strange reason even though the film adaptation of the book (with John Cusak) shows up on HBO Family(!) all the time, but they left his 1970s time travel opus The Man Who Folded Himself alone. In The Man Who Folded Himself, the main character creates alternate versions of himself though time displacement and ends up having gay orgies with them. He later bends the time continuum so much, that he creates a female version of himself and knocks her up. I guess that must be what made everything okay with this book and whoever did this at Amazon–he eventually procreates.

This shows the stupidity of censorship: the censors don’t bother to read or understand what it is they are censoring. I would chuckle over this when I’m through being scared. Amazon already has a disproportionate effect on what does and doesn’t get published. If we allow them to monopolize books, both through moving old fashioned hardcopy and electronic books with their kindle, they will end up monopolizing ideas. Scary stuff for any of us, readers and writers alike, but even more so for someone with a guy with a book that prominently features El Homo Loco prancing around in a pink tutu and dry humping his opponents into submission.

Here’s Salon.com’s Broadsheet’s take on this and a link to an interview with David Gerrold. A hacker is now claiming responsibility for this. Still, let’s keep an eye on this megacorp.

Ironically, this blog is going to be reposted on Amazon.com via RSS.

El Homo Loco


Permalink 12:03:24 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 316 words, 7399 views English (US)
Categories: Politics

Will Financial Aid be Available for Reeducation Camps?

According to Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and other rabid right wingers, the Obama Administration is in the midst of planning Maoist style reeducation camps plucked right out of Joe McCarthy and Jack Webb’s cold war fevered imaginations. Now what about these reeducation camps? Will financial aid be available for them? Can you pay for their tuition with Pell Grants? What about scholarships? For adult reeducation camps, will you need a GED to attend? How will your SAT scores affect your chances of attending the reeducation camp of your choice? For K-12 reeducation camps, will Obama institute a reeducation camp voucher program for any parents who live in a district with lousy public reeducation camps and want to send their kids to private reeducation camps? Will these reeducation camps leave any children behind? Will they hold teachers accountable? Will reeducation camp commandants receive pay based on merit or will the teachers’ unions stand in the way? Will there be prayer in re-education camps or at least a moment of quiet contemplation where camp attendees are encouraged to contemplate the dominant protestant faith of the United States of America? What about physical education in reeducation camps? Will reeducation camps have music programs or will they only focus on the three R’s (two of which ironically don’t even begin with the letter R): reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic? Will attendees of reeducation camps pledge allegiance to the flag or will the Obama logo do?

With the rising cost of college tuition in this country (up 6% in 2006 and another 6.3% in 2007) and with only 75% of US high school students earning their high school diplomas according to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, I applaud President Obama’s bold new reeducation policy. With so many jobs being lost in our economic downturn, if there’s one thing this country needs, it’s a reeducation.


Permalink 10:36:56 am, by bobcalhoun Email , 181 words, 7887 views English (US)
Categories: Politics

Going out the Same Way You Came In

You have to wonder what was running through Bush’s mind today when he looked out over the millions of people that had gathered in DC to see Barack Obama sworn in. On the day of Bush’s inauguration they had to halt the motorcade because people kept throwing eggs at it. The throngs seen at the National Mall today made the trip to DC out of admiration and hope for the incoming president. In 2001, they made that trip to protest a man who failed to capture the popular vote and was handed the office in a scurrilous Supreme Court decision. Things were hardly better for Bush in 2004 when he barely eked out a victory in yet another suspect election. In the end, Bush went out the way he went in – widely disliked and with people throwing things at him. President Obama enters in the opposite way, with popularity and good will. Let us hope that George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama end up sharing one thing in common – that they both go out the same way they came in.

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