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The Soviet Republic of Michigan

10 Mar

With the imminent passage of Michigan’s “Local Government and School District Accountability Act,”(HB4214), Republicans will finally evolve beyond being the self-proclaimed champions of small government.  They will become the founders of no government.  Well, that isn’t quite right.  Dictatorship is still government.  It’s just not a preferable model, especially for residents of the United States, in general, and Michigan, in particular.  But let us not get tied down in nationalistic sentimentality.

Michigan’s new law would allow the governor dictator “to be able to declare “financial emergency” in towns or school districts and appoint someone to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services.”  When it comes to the bottom line solvency of a state, the democratic principles that this country was founded on must be ignored.  Those who abuse power should be punished.  It’s common knowledge that the overpaid teachers, firemen, sanitation workers, and police of Michigan have ruined the state by causing the collapse of the American Auto industry, encouraging the building of wide expanses of slums in Detroit, and by shipping off manufacturing jobs to Mexico, Vietnam,  India, and anywhere else workers can be paid in pennies instead of dollars.  They might also be responsible for Tiger’s third baseman Miguel Cabrera being a drunk. The Republicans of Michigan couldn’t let them get away with it.  The Hangover applauds the iron-fisted efforts of the legislative storm troopers.

Perhaps we could even apply for one of these Emergency Overlord positions.  However, being that The Hangover is not named Stalin, Khrushchev, Hitler, Goering, or Brezhnev, the chances of landing such a position are not favorable.  But thanks to our beloved “Freedom of Speech,” the governor dictator won’t be able to stop me from complaining about it—at least for now.

Reports state that protestors were chanting, "Impeach the Nerd." The Dictator of Michigan might not appreciate that.

Stick a fork in (the) US, Democracy is Cooked

22 Jan

With the Supreme Court ruling that the government cannot regulate or limit political spending by corporations, a bullet has been put through the head of a suffering democracy.   It was a mercy killing.  For years now, Americans have been pathetically clinging to the idea that their votes meant something.  Well, they don’t have to worry about that anymore.  Thanks to the Supreme Court, it’s now all special interests, all the time.  

It would be a mistake, however, to say that Americans’ votes will be worthless.  In a political version of American Idol, we will be given the honor of deciding which corporate-sponsored politician will be able to become a highly respected, suit-and-tie-wearing marionette.  And then we will live happily ever after, basking in the illusion of democracy. 

In the decision’s simplest terms, Exxon, Citibank, Pfizer, General Electric, etc..,. will now be able to gush money toward any candidate they feel deserving, meaning one who will support their interests.  Sure, you may be outraged that a Canadian can pay $5 for medication that costs you $40.  You might even be so incensed that you exercise your right as an American citizen and call your Senator, urging them to support lower cost prescription drugs.  But who do you think they are going to listen to:  you or the lobbyist from Johnson and Johnson who just dropped $500,000 into the making of a campaign advertisement supporting that Senator? Good luck with that.

If you want to see how this money-in-politics dynamic works on a small scale, read what The Hangover learned while talking to Susan Collins’ office.  Or if you would really like to be educated on the topic, check out Who Rules America?by G. William Domhoff.

It was Thomas Jefferson who said:  

“The end of democracy, and the defeat of the American revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of the lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”

Consider the revolution over.

Susan Collins: PAC Money Makes Policy

1 Oct

Susan Collins opposes President Obama’s health care plan, particularly the public option.  The Hangover knows this because one of her staff was kind enough to tell me so in a recent phone conversation.   Consider me cynical.  When in a follow-up I asked the staff member how much campaign money Senator Collins has taken from the medical, insurance, and pharmaceutical lobbies, Collin’s mouthpiece told me that she didn’t have that information.   I wondered aloud if Collins didn’t know how much payola came from those sectors.   I was reassured that while the Collins’ staffer didn’t have that information, it was available at fec.gov, the Federal Election Commission’s website.  This excahnge followed:

The Hangover:  “Don’t you think Senator Collins should provide that (who she received campaign donations from) information?”

Collins  Staff Member:  “The information is available on the website, fec.gov, that I told you about.”

The Hangover:  “Don’t you think that withholding the information makes her look corrupt like all those other Republicans taking money from lobbyists?”

Collins Staffer:  “The information is available on the FEC website, sir.”

Before any Republicans think The Hangover is “profiling,” we heartily acknowledge that Senate Democrats take just as much money as the Republicans do from these lobbies.   That’s the problem.  (It’s no wonder that real health care reform is impossible:  Mandated business creation for insurance companies isn’t exactly health care reform.)

The Hangover took the staffer’s advice and checked out the FEC website.  The information was, indeed, there.  In fact, the report on Susan Collins’ accepted  campaign contributions for the 2007-2008 election cycle was disgusting.  What’s worse is that her tally reads similarly to those of her 99 Senate colleagues serving  “we the people.”  Collins’ list of contributors can be viewed here in it’s entirety, but there are some obvious highlights:

In the 2007-2008 election cycle, Senator Collins received expenditures of:

$26,000 from the American Association of Neurosurgeons PAC

$190, 530 from the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons PAC

$14, 000 from Aetna’s PAC

$20,000 from the American Hospital Association PAC

$20,000 from AFLAC’s PAC (that’s the one with the duck)  

$18,000 from the Blue Cross/Blue Shield PAC

$1000from the Bluecross of Michigan PAC (???)

There are so many contributors listed, The Hangover doesn’t blame the Senator for not providing her staffers with the information.   They’d have to be MIT graduates to follow it. 

In terms of full disclosure, The Hangover gave nothing to Senator Collins’ campaign.  We find this is appropriate.  If any of Maine’s other 1.5 million residents believe that the Senator is looking out for their best interest, all they have to do is pull out their processed checks for the last few years.   It’s likely one is getting according to what one gave.

Hangover Blog on Hiatus

21 Aug

The Hangover is officially going on hiatus.  Faithful readers have surely noticed a considerable slowdown over the past six months.  This is one thing in contemporary America that can’t be blamed on the economy, however.    There is a novel to be completed and The Hangover is going to be totally immersed in full-contact fiction-writing.    Outside of a possible music post or two, The Hangover will resume when the manuscript is complete.

However, we do reserve the right to comment if some act completely egregious to common sense raises our ire.  This could include:

  • Health Care “reform” that doesn’t do anything except create mandatory customers for insurance companies–who are obviously the root of the problem (along with their lobbyists).   Count us among those who would prefer our health care decisions be made by a bureaucrat, as opposed to a “fat-assed” CEO or corporate drone whose bonus is tied to the greed-driven profit of a health care conglomerate.   (And why do our prescription drugs cost more than those in Canada?  Our beer doesn’t cost any more money, and isn’t alcohol a drug?)
  • Corruption in Congress that blocks common sense legislation.  Those who have the most lobbyists with the deepest pockets win.  It’s disgusting, as are our elected representivives as individuals.  None of these clowns would ever get laid if they didn’t have their government jobs.
  • A car industry that continues to build Hummers for non-military use.   Yep, that will lead us to energy independence.
  • Less prison time for a football-playing, drunk-driving, people-killer (Dante Stallworth) than for a football playing dog-killer (Mike Vick) or a football-playing dumbass  (Plexico Burress), who shot only himself in a nightclub. 

If The Hangover continues to dwell on these subjects, the long-awaited novel will never be completed.   Unfortunately, with a country like this, The Hangover could be pulled back into action tomorrow.

The George W. Bush Years: Retrospective and Legacy

12 Jan

Most of those analyzing George W Bush’s years as President will offer a legacy of questionable decisions, confusing policy, and abject failure.  But the evaluation of any administration should be rooted in actual results.   A historical comparison reveals that the Bush years might not be the disaster they seem.

I, George W

Both conservative and liberal media have hammered aspects of George W Bush’s reign, including the war in Iraq, economic disparity, unwarranted firing of federal judges, increasing national debt, the failure to capture Osama Bin Laden, etc..,.   The list could continue until my hands cramped.  However, if the W. Bush presidency is looked at through the prism of the Roman Emperor Claudius (10BC-54AD), the subject of Robert Graves’ seminal historical novels I, Claudius  and Claudius the God, one realizes that Bush may deserve more credit than he is generally given.

Parallels between Claudius and George W are evident.  Claudius was a stammering, afflicted member of a royal family who considered him unsuitable for governing.  George W also possesses a certain lack of grace with spoken language.  And while Claudius was left to study history (a laughable undertaking for a “royal”) at the outskirts of his family, George W founded several oil exploration companies, all funded by family and friends, all of which lost money.  Bush persevered, however, and was elected Governor of Texas.  He then won the presidency in an unlikely manner, as it was his opponent who had garnered the most votes.  In his ascension, Claudius was named Emperor by Palace Guards just hours after Caligula, the sitting Emperor, was stabbed to death.  It helped that Claudius was the last surviving member of the ruling line. 

Claudius, however, had little desire to be Emperor.  He hoped for a restoration of the Roman Republic over the dictatorship that his family had engineered two generations earlier.  According to Graves, Claudius had a plan to insure that restoration.  He would govern so poorly that the Roman Senate would have no choice but to rise and re-establish the Republic.  Instead, Claudius found an assemblage who for the most part did not care how they were governed as long as there was money to be made and food to eat.  Although Claudius ultimately failed to reinstate the Republic, his attempt was a noble one.   

George W implemented a similar strategy.  His head-scratching, imperial governing was no accident.  Instead of letting corporate interests and the moneyed elite rule in perpetuity, Bush hoped to incite the average American to reclaim the rights and powers that the Founding Fathers had bestowed him.  Every move was designed to force the masses into action.  Perhaps because of the incessant heat or a mediocre educational system, Florida wasn’t able to help George W achieve his goal in ‘04.  But after four more years of effort, Bush seems to have succeeded. We are only days away from the Obama Administration.

Clearly, George W took it upon himself to return our Democratic Republic to the people.  It is the only way that his actions make sense:  Reading The Pet Goatto school children for seven minutes after finding out the country was under attack; misleading the country into an unneeded and unwanted war; positing the executive branch above the legislative and judicial; practically ignoring one of our greatest cities in the aftermath of a natural disaster.  If not to cultivate outrage and force the American public into responsible action, then why?  George W went into his Presidency with a plan and he executed it well.  The citizenry demanded change. Mission accomplished, indeed.    

(This post contains updated content from a previous Hangover post.  Enjoy the encore presentation.)

Israeli Offensive Paves Road to Peace

7 Jan

The Israeli offensive that steamrolled into the Gaza strip on December 27th is a real step toward ending Middle East violence.   It is also a real step toward ending the Middle East.  And that is one sorry way to halt the seemingly never-ending conflict.      

In a March 2008 post, The Hangover deconstructed Israeli-Palestinian violence in sociological terms.  Conflict theory and historical perspectives were applied to understand what could bring an end to the conflict:  Creation of a Palestinian state and the conceding of occupied land.  However, Israel has once again chosen another path.  In response to Hamas rockets constantly being shot into their country, the Israelis have (ironically) launched a blitzkrieg into Gaza, an area populated by 1.1 million Palestinians, 50% of whom are children.   To date, over 600 Palestinians have been killed, a quarter of whom are confirmed civilians.  Six Israeli soldiers have also died.  One million Palestinians are without electricity, 700, 000 without water.   Yesterday, Israeli mortars took out a school being used as a shelter, killing 30.  To say that Israel has its boot on Gaza’s throat is an understatement.

The strategic objective of this attack is to end Hamas’  firing of rockets into Israel.   It’s proven effective.  Only fifteen were fired yesterday.  Apparently, progress is being made.  Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated:  

“We hope this fighting will be a swift episode.  We have no interest to endlessly drag it on, but only if two basic principles are reached we will be in a position to end it: The complete cessation of the (arms) smuggling and Hamas losing its ability to fire rockets. I have sworn not to allow our great nation to withstand any situation that will require the mercy of those who fire out the rockets.”

Once again, this is a short-sighted, brawn-over-brains policy.  To end the rocket fire under current conditions, the Israelis will need to occupy Gaza.  And there’s nothing in the history of Israel-Palestine relations that indicates a force-fueled cessation of conflict will be more than temporary.   So what will Israel gain?

Regardless of which country is “right” and which is “wrong,” each resident of Gaza will consider this offensive the same way the Polish and French regarded the Nazi blitzkrieg.  Each dead Palestinian has relatives, friends, workmates.  Each survivor becomes a potential future terrorist.  In World War Two terms, those fighting the occupiers were called “the Resistance.”

The great fear of statesmen around the world is that terrorists gain the means and  materials to create a weapon of  mass destruction.  Whether this is a nuclear, dirty, chemical, or biological weapon remains to be seen.   But as time progresses, the chances of such a device being acquired by terrorists becomes more likely (despite the efforts of the United Nations, Jack Bauer, and various intelligence agencies).  If a WMD does fall into Palestinian hands, there will be one target:  Israel.  

The current Israeli offensive will come to its definitive end when that WMD is deployed.   It might not happen next week or next year.  The bomb might not drop for decades.  But unless Israel stops fostering the conditions that perpetually create terrorists, it will happen.  All those in the region are under siege.  

At some point a Palestinian terrorist (or resistance fighter), perhaps one whose child has been ripped to pieces by an Israeli mortar, will push the button.   Maybe then—when the region is leveled, covered in radiation, or suffering from anthrax—compromise will be possible, provided there’s anyone or anything left to contest.

The Hangover’s Christmas List

21 Dec

You’ve got to love a holiday named after a wine-swilling, long-haired, no-shoes-wearing carpenter.  And there are presents.  In honor of the holiday, The Hangover offers our own Christmas list.  And in the true spirit of the holiday, it is better to give than receive. 

For Terrel Owens:  A punch in the mouth. You’d think that Tony Romo or Jason Witten or somebody on that team would have had the balls to tell TO to shut up and then drop him with a right cross.  (Is Bum Phillips still alive?  Could he take care of this for Wade?)

For the State of Maine:  Less Taxes, Better Government.   We know, good luck with that one.

For Religous Extremists (be they Christian, Muslim, Pagans, Jews, Sun-Worshippers, Followers of Satan, or actual card carrying members of Red Sox Nation):  Less scripture, More action (from their respective deities).  Doesn’t fanatical worship sully the very God that it profess to follow?  Wouldn’t these various Gods be tired of people acting like complete fucking idiots in their names?  Shouldn’t  these Gods have had enough of this bullshit and smite their “extreme” followers from the planet?  Lightning bolts, now, goddamnit!

For The Boston Celtics:  Good Health.  The rest will take care of itself.

For Kathryn Tappen:  More sweaters of the shade (some sort of yellowish white) that she wore yesterday during the 12/20/08 Bruins-Hurricanes telecast.  Amazing.  A high-def Goddess if there ever was one.

For Barack Obama:  The cajones to swing back to the left after these mandatory first two years of centrism.

For Kennebunkport:  Less Development.  Do we have to turn every open space not owned by the Conservation Trust into either a neighborhood of McMansions or a psuedo-tony resort?

For the Red Sox Marketing Team:  A long, long, long vacation.  Two years ought to be enough.  We don’t need any hats with socks on them.  We could use a better ticket-buying site, however.  Or at least one that doesn’t have to blame its lack of functionality on “high transaction volume.”  What with the exciting new hats, you didn’t think people would want to buy tickets, too?

For the Red Sox:  Derek Lowe.  Give us a great pitcher who excels in big games, under pressure, and who wants to play here.  And we’ll take a refurbished Mike Lowell, too.  The hell with Mark Teixeira.  The only thing he’s led the league in is “Speculative news media stories on where Mark Texiera will land.”  Pitching wins and Lowe is a winning pitcher.

For News Editors of Television Weather Reports:  A grip.  Hangover Headquarters is in Maine.  It snows here.  It always has.  Every time a flake hits the atmosphere, we don’t need panicked, poker-up-the-ass anchor people screaming “storm warning,” “winter storm watch,” or “extreme weather event.”  If you want people to watch your insipid newscasts, try doing some actual reporting, or get better looking newspeople and have the women go topless and dress the men in Chippendale’s outfits.

For the Rolling Stones:  One last great album. I don’t mean pretty good, either.  Voodoo Lounge was compared to Exile, but we all know Exile, and Voodoo Lounge is no Exile.  Every Stones album since Steel Wheels has been proclaimed in one way or another, hearkening back to the heyday of the Stones.  Simply not true.  The world could use another Exile on Main Street or Sticky Fingers.  Get on it, boys.

For the Readers of The Hangover:  Less hangovers, of the alcohol-induced head ache and vomiting kind.

For The Hangover:  More readers.  Then I can start pimping out the ad space and earn enough money to quit one of my days jobs.   Then I could completely sell out and turn into one of those despicable, loathsome individuals that I despise.  Wouldn’t that be grist for some interesting writing?