08/27/2004: "Big-Assed Weekend Edition (Featuring James Randi & Cornhusker Fans)"
Hello, teenage thrill-killers! Paul and I had a great time interviewing James
"The Amazing" Randi today. They don't call him "The Amazing" for nuthin' -
he rules every inch of this planet. The three of us talked about psychics,
UFO's, speaking with the dead, and - of course - RUMPOLOGY! Thanks, Paul for
allowing me to spend a half hour on the phone with one of my heroes.
You can hear the whole thing, including my "Return to Fort Mifflin" piece,
An open letter to Babbitts.
Recently, in the forum, longtime listener / first time caller and weekend
Pope, sully, suggested that we all pay a visit to the "Third Rail" forum of
a message board for Nebraska Cornhusker football fans. It's a place where
small minds tackle big issues - and where unintentional comedy flows like
cheap wine. In other word - Babbitts galore!
Many of you have asked me to post something there for the enlightenment of
our knuckle-dragging brethren. Well, you can stop asking.
The post may be found here, but since they're bound to remove it, I'll
recreate it, below. Please note that with only minor alterations, this
post may be used to anger both Republicans and Democrats alike. I mention
this just in case you plan on visiting Al Franken's blog.
A friend of mine sent me a link to this forum and I have to admitto being
equally fascinated and repulsed by the postings here. Congratulations.
If you don't mind, I'd like to address a question to the "regulars" here:
Why would a working class person vote for either the Republicans or the
After all, since Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party to the right by
adopting the economic policies of the Republicans (Bank deregulation,
welfare reform, anti-unionism, Pro-NAFTA, etc.), haven't the two parties
been pretty much indistinguishable on economic issues? Meanwhile, the
republicans - formerly the party of fiscal responsibility - have given us
the largest tax hike in our history (under Reagan) and the largest deficit
If this is, in fact, the case, then I'll assume that you're casting you
votes on "Cultural" issues. This is just as tragic.
Republicans, it's been nearly a quarter of a century since your party was
taken over by the Christian Right and what have you gained in the "Culture
Wars"? Abortion is still legal. You haven't removed the teaching of
evolution from public schools and brought prayer back in.
No, what you've accomplished is the installation of economic policies that
are far from being in your best interest (I'm assuming that none of you are
in the top 1% income bracket). The widening gap between rich and poor, the
shrinking of the middle, the lessening of a worker's right to bargain were
all ushered in while your attempt to get the 10 Commandments placed outside
every public building failed miserably. Again, you have my congratulations
… and my condolences.
By the way, if the trickle down theory is correct (This is the backbone of
Republican economic strategy. The idea is - simply put - that, by giving
tax breaks to the wealthy, capital will flow, freely, from the richest
segment of our society to the poorest), then why weren't the peasants in
the Middle Ages wealthy? After all, their Lords and Kings weren't taxed at
all. Why didn't all that gold "roll down hill"?
As for you Democrats, do you really see a difference between John Kerry and
George Bush? Take Iraq, for example. What's the difference between Kerry's
position on Iraq and Bush's? Nothing.
Kerry voted to authorize the war with Iraq and recently issued a statement
saying that, even if he had known about the lack of WMD's, he still would
have voted to authorize the war. Not only that, but "in all probability",
Kerry would've launched a military initiative to depose Hussein by now if
he were president.
On the economic front, Kerry has not made a single significant pledge towards
helping labor, which was practically deserted by the Clinton administration
who failed to pursue health care reform, strengthen labor law or in any way
attempt to better the working conditions of ordinary Americans.
Union membership, by the way, is now down to 11 per cent of the work force.
Union jobs used to be the gateway to a middle class existence for many
Wow, those Democrats are sure doing a swell job of looking out for the
In a two party system there can only be a party of money and a party of the
people. When Republican's shifted their focus towards "cultural" issues to
attract more people, the Democrats abandoned their traditional economic
policies to pick up more money. The losers in this shift were all of us who
work for a living.
Since I don't like to castigate without offering solutions, I'll put forward
two: The Greens and the Libertarians.
Those of you, who call yourselves Democrats, may want to look at the core
beliefs of the Green Party. Their principles seem to encompass the ides that
you espouse (Looking out for the little guy, protecting the environment,
not exporting jobs overseas, etc) much better than the reality of the
policies of the present Democratic Party.
As for you "Republicans", I suggest you familiarize yourselves with the
Libertarians, whose policies of fiscal responsibility coupled with
personal freedom make them what your party pretty much once was.
Oh, one last suggestion, if I may - turn off the Cornhusker game and pick up
a freakin' book. Or, to quote Professor of Economics at MIT, Noam Chomsky:
"Take, say, sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination
system, in my view. For one thing because it -- you know, it offers people
something to pay attention to that's of no importance. That keeps them from
worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some
idea of doing something about. And in fact it's striking to see the
intelligence that's used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as
opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio
stations where people call in -- they have the most exotic information and
understanding about all kind of arcane issues."
Thank you for your time,
PS. I'll be busy this weekend wring a piece for a magazine (no, not
Barracuda), looking for a "cure" for that pesky sidebar problem in Internet
Explorer (Switch to Mozilla, folks), and reading death threats from