The Rip Post                                      Shafts. . .page 2

 SHAFTS. . .
desklamp.jpg (2102 bytes)   desklamp.jpg (2102 bytes)by The Lamplighterdesklamp.jpg (2102 bytes)   desklamp.jpg (2102 bytes)

Lantern-lighter Dick sent this the other day:

"I can't believe Greenspan's sudden revelations, understandings, and regrets over a financial world that was largely his fantasy. He used to be a disciple of Ayn Rand. That might explain, but not excuse, his benighted culpability and enlightenment. On the front page of the L.A. Times he says: "I made a mistake in presuming that the self- interests of organizations. . . were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity."

"Is that an adult thinking and talking? This savant is not ashamed to sound like he mistakenly believed in the tooth fairy. He knew full well what would happen with unfettered sociopaths who only want to make money at any cost.


To which Your Illuminator adds. . .Greenspan's apology was sort of oh, underwhelming.

Yeah, uh. . .Sorry, folks! Sorry I ruined the country! Oh, wait---make that the western world! Guess my thinking was a little off. Apologies!

The Onion is such a marvelous thing. It really isn't so much satire as expose---laying bare the idiocy in damn near everything. Between The Onion and John Stewart, you really don't need any more information. That's no joke. It's all the light you need for your lamp. Everything else in mainstream media is darkness.

It's great to see that The Onion is especially keeping tabs on the antics of the country's greatest superhero. . .Area Man!
Here are several links. Can you guess which ones are satire?

Area Man Disappointed To See Short Version of Commercial

Hay Bailer Accident Claims Area Man

Airport Nipple Ring Incident Inspires Area Man

Area Man Training for 'Sanford and Son' Marathon

Court Dismisses Charges Against Area Man

Area man learns that good things really do come to those who wait, though they might have to wait 28 years

Area Man Walks for Suicide Prevention

Area man surprised to learn entire continent of Africa not engaged in armed conflict

Did you goof? It's understandable. So did some antiabortionist blogger, as this article in explains.


Hey, kids! Wanna scare the bejeezus outta your neighbors this All Hallow’s Eve? Wanna really make ‘em crap their pants? Easy! Go as a Real American!
It’s cheap, too! Why, you can get the effect with just a pair of jeans and K-Mart flannel shirt imported from China, along with a razorback hog crew-cut and a gut like a basketball. (Same for ladies, but transfer the gut to the butt, and add lots of beanbags to simulate cellulite.) Then get your Bible in hand, Glock in holster, and maybe black out a tooth or two. (Spitting, scratching, belching are optional.) But if you really want to bring off the authentic horror of it---really make people decorate their trousers---you’re going to have to get yourselves seriously stoked up with heroic amounts of ignorance, stupidity, pigheadedness, and black bile. Heavily distilled, thick-as-syrup black bile.

How do you do it?

Well, for inspiration, you might try going out and shooting some innocent animals---deer, rabbits, birdies will do fine. Be sure and dress up in full military camouflage, and sneak up on the poor creatures like your life depends on it, then blow the sumbitches away with a double-barrel. Yeah!

After you cut off a trophy head or skin or pluck your prey, wipe some blood on your face, then head down to the Tastee Freeze for three or four chili-cheese-bacon burgers. Top it off with a cheap cigar or a chaw, and a six-pack of Tall Boys, then throw up while watching that commie bastard Keith Olbermann. That’s a good start. Now you’re ready. Your brain should be foggy, if not paralyzed, and whatever thoughts you have uncharitable.

If this still doesn’t put you in a Real American mood, turn the tube back on and shout obscenities at the “media filter.” Cue up one of those “news mix” channels with mini-screens of all the big news stations, and let ‘er rip. Don’t get too creative in your tirade, though. Keep the vocabulary basic, and use “fuck” and its variations as exclamation, adjective, adverb, noun, maybe even an occasional preposition.

The coup de grace: threaten to kill someone, anyone, lotsa people, dogs, women, “niggers,” “coons,” “spics,” “chinks,” “sand-niggers,” “A-rabs,” “towelheads,” and of course commies, socialists, Democrats, liberals.

Then pray to Jesus that he wipes ‘em all out before you do.

Now you’re ready to trick-or-treat.

heard from lantern-lighter Horace Frobrischer the other day (not his real name, lucky for him.) Frobischer had his usual pithy, pissy musings to offer, sentiments that are so outside the "mainstream" that they are to be found exclusively in this column.

Frobischer has been much preoccupied with Bush's free and easy gait and unfettered calm of late, and with Obama's apparent efforts to cozy up to AIPAC, the Christian (so-called) Right, pals of Bilderburg like James Johnson (at least he got rid of that guy in a hurry.) What next, following the Clintons' lead and carousing with Poppy and Barbara Bush? Take it away, Frobischer:

"Gas is now $4.50 a gallon. Yet the GOP talking point is that high gas prices are the Democrats fault!

"I see a conspiracy to destroy the economy, create social unrest and impose martial law with Dubya as dictator for life.

"Farfetched? what about the Enron coup that ousted Gray Davis, installed Arnold and saddled Californians with a huge bill? Bush and the late "Kenny Boy" Lay were best of buddies. Or the scenario could be a new 9/11, or war on Iran. These people will stop at nothing to keep power.
"America is straining at its mooring in this river of sh**.
"Obama may well lose anyhow because too many redneck crackers will freak out over the idea of black folks in the Whitey House and vote against him---or other measures will be taken.
"Too bad. I think at heart Obama wants to do something decent, even it means having to stooge up to the corporate elites. There's no other way to get hands on levers of powers.  
"I don't expect any major campaign news until running mates are named. Will just be usual skirmishes, abetted by the broadcast punditry, as both sides try to line up powerhouse messages to sell their guys and screw the opposition.
"Brilliant move by the Obama people to set up the Web site to debunk rumors to gets that sick shit out in the open and deflate it. Kerry made a huge strategic blunder by not aggressively countering the Swift Boat stuff, leaving the impression there was something to the allegations. Obama would do well to keep Kerry out of the spotlight.
"Obama's theme should be Reagan-esque. What a great nation that such a fine young man could rise to prominence, someone all Americans can be proud of. The best America has to offer. Somebody who is a comfort and inspiration. I can feel the oxytocin now. The wonderful new black Jesus."

Every time someone mentions anything having to do with race in the context of the election, there is widespread outrage and condemnation. Lamplighter goes dim when this happens. Race is part of this election, whether anyone likes it or not. It has become as much a part of electoral reality as John McCain's cancer should be, and the analogy is sadly apt, given its corrosive impact on the proceedings.

Is Obama half African in heritage? Yes. Does he call himself black and African-American? Yes. Does this have an impact on voters' decisions? Yes. Are such decisions racist? Yes, although they are sometimes based in fear, as opposed to hatred. An explanation. . .

Bill Moyers delivered an eloquent, equitable, typically enlightened commentary a couple weeks ago on his "Bill Moyers' Journal" program on PBS, all about race in this election---an offshoot of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy. Moyers made a convincing historical case for justifying black anger and resentment in this country, in trying to help people come to terms with Rev. Wright's inflammatory remarks about whites. Moyers:

"I think I would have been angry if my ancestors had been transported thousands of miles in the hellish hole of a slave ship, then sold at auction, humiliated, whipped, and lynched. Or if my great-great-great grandfather had been but three-fifths of a person in a Constitution that proclaimed: We, the people. Or if my own parents had been subjected to the racial vitriol of Jim Crow, Strom Thurmond, Bull Conner, and Jesse Helms."

But Moyers missed an important matter, in his reasoned and correct condemnation of racism. Yes, many dirt-stupid voters will vote against Obama because he is black, and they will use every conceivable epithet and horrible allusion in the process, from "nigger" to lynching. But many others will vote against Obama out of fear. Fear of race-based anger and hatred---from the so-called "black community." Rev. Wright manifested this sort of racial hatred in his remarks about white-this and white-that---in a church, no less. But he is the tip of the iceberg. . .

For the past 20-plus years, mass media and the so-called entertainment industry have celebrated, venerated, exalted, christened, and otherwise endorsed images and language conveying the most banal black rage, violence, hatred against whites, against women, against. . .just about everything. LL speaks, of course, of the rap/hiphop/gangsta subculture that has come to be the defining image of African-Americans in the United States, and the world. It is ghastly, it is grotesque, and it is a great crime against the vast majority of African-Americans who simply want to raise families, go to work, and live as peaceably as most people.

No, not all rap music espouses such horror, not all "hiphop" culture conveys hatred. But much of it does, with images of ignorant, hateful, sneering, snarling, gold-chain-laden black men belligerently chanting simple rhymes infused with simple menace. The lyrics are frequently well beyond belief, with references to "niggahz," mocking of "white boys," raping and sodomizing "ho's," killing, etc. Savagery is the right word here. The transformation of so-called gangstas---literal gang members, in many cases, who are guilty of violent crimes---into not only role models, but pop stars, "icons," heroes, is one of the most tragic legacies of modern American culture. It demonstrates callous exploitation of racial divisions, but more important, it demonstrates the completely amoral, venal exploitation of anything that will make a buck. Capitalism without conscience. Never mind consequences to the community. The free market has made slaves out of blacks all over again---slaves to the lure of quick and easy riches, subjugating them as cash cows. Most profits going to their "owners."

So what Moyers missed is that voters have been saturated with this terrifying imagery for decades---voters who might well be relatively open-minded, decent (white) people across America. Where they might wish to be fair minded and evaluate people regardless of race, these people are suspicious and frightened when it comes to voting for a black candidate whose pastor exhibits the same sort of ugly anger toward whites, toward the world, that is espoused in rap/hiphop subculture. 

How ironic that racism and animosity exhibited by blacks is reducing the popularity of the first African-American candidate to have a real shot at the presidency. How ironic, and how tragic.

Your Illuminator read Rense's "Ode to Air" column (Apr. 11) and was inspired. Got to thinking, in other words. The old light bulb went bling! I like Rense's ideas on this subject, though not much else, frankly, even if he does give me a column here. That's to his credit, posting other points of view. But he's a cantankerous old goat, and so is Lamplighter, at least sometimes. So in the spirit of cantankerousness, I hereby propose ways of increasing the oxygen content of this suffocating city.

Immediately close all the freeways, with temporary “freeway” visas issued to law enforcement, fire, delivery trucks, on the condition that their vehicles are quickly converted to run exclusively on pigeon droppings. This would force people to stay home, or move/work closer to home, and begin the process of restoring neighborhood personalities.

Close L.A. International Airport, in order to make L.A. just a wee bit less accessible to the rest of the world, and reduce the number of persons consuming local oxygen (not to mention removing jet exhaust.) I mean, what’s the point of people coming here every day from Uganda and Singapore in search of a role on a sitcom? They all wind up in taxis and behind Starbucks counters anyhow.

Order all actors and actresses---all movie folk, period---to stop granting interviews entirely, at least while in L.A. County.

Give an award to KPCC host Patt Morrison. Patt packs the maximum amount of information into her speech with the least use of oxygen. She almost never says “uh” at all, or makes a syntactical or grammatical error. It’s very impressive.
Shut down fast-food outlets and replace them with memorial gardens. The Egg McMuffin Memorial Garden. The Enchirito Memorial Garden. The In-and-Out Memorial Garden and Fountain. Topiaries in the shapes of fat people biting into greasy fried cow sandwiches. Or maybe just a lovely hedge of mock orange and roses spelling out, “Don’t Bother Me---I’m Eating.” I mean, do you ever walk into a McDonald’s during breakfast and notice the sheer sulphuric wonder of it all? Put it this way: never light a match in there. These “restaurants” are little oxygen-assassinating viruses in the world ecosystem. And scientists have the audacity to blame cow methane for contributing to global warming? I give you: Kirstie Alley.

Punish anyone seen smoking cigarettes in Los Angeles by having the words, “I’m a dumbass,” burned into their arms with the lighted ciggie. Of course, this would not be viewed as very humanitarian, despite the popularity of self-desecration and general nihilism. So instead, simply outlaw cigarette smoking in L.A. County, with first-time violators subject to immediate deportation to France. The few pipe and cigar smokers out there, who tend to smoke only at home, would be subject to a $100-per-year tax, proceeds of which go to fight cancer, AIDS, and The Christian Right.
Although science has not yet proven a link between smugness, arrogance, stupidity and lack of oxygen, LL thinks the matter is self-evident. Just look at all the people huffing and puffing and shouting as they declaim about (take your pick): the government, the Clintons, the Jews, the blacks, the “white man,” fluoridated water, “the terrorists,” and so on. Why, has there ever been so much carbon dioxide exhaled in the name of proselytizing in human history? It makes you almost grateful for blogs, where at least the people type instead of process massive amounts of good, clean O-2. So. . .no more public pontificating. Punishable by a week of watching non-stop reruns of "Oprah."

Your Illuminator will be accused of racism for this, but please reign in the “testifyin’” a little bit at all the African-American churches. It’s oxygen-sucking enough to have pastors roaring about Jesus and “God Damn America” for a couple of hours each Sunday, but all the shouted “holy spirit” responses are just rather unnecessary, aren’t they? Think, African-American friends, how much oxygen might be saved by stopping the  “tell it!” and “say hallelujah!” and “mm-hmm” and “Well!” uttered every Sunday during the course of one year alone.

The following secular phrases would simply be banned outright, with a penalty of having to read a whole book in the span of a week: “finding everything all right?”; “Did you find everything you needed?”; “Have a nice day,” “’Sup,” “How’s everything?” (always asked by waitresses/waiters when you have your mouth full); and the ubiquitous cry of the man or woman stuck in traffic that looks like Mondrian painting: “Fuck YOU, ASSHOLE!” (That one is a real tree-killer.)

Right near the top of Lamplighter's effort to oxygenate L.A. would be---need it be mentioned---the eradication of cell phones. Scientists have clearly established that, according to recent statistics, no more than .0000001 percent of all cell phone conversation is necessary. The mere opportunity to speak at any and all times, especially when presented to women, is irresistible. Here are some recent conversation excerpts heard at random: “I’m walking on the street,” “I’m coming over now,” “I’m in the market.” Not only would the absence of all cell phone chatter save immeasurable amounts of oxygen, obviously, but it would leave female brains far less depleted of same---therefore reducing, among other things, the number of automobile accidents on a given day.

Hard to imagine, I know: no freeways, no women on cell phones, no actors and actresses yapping about “my craft,” no crazy hollering political commentators, no holy-rolling in black churches, no cigarettes, no fast-food joints, no yapping “customer service” types asking you inane questions, no daily influx of lost souls from all over the world looking for Hollywood, no Kirstie Alley. . .

That would clear the air.

Your Illuminator has to say that he brightened a bit by some of the things that the O-man said in his big race speech the other day. First, it was extremely refreshing to hear a politician stand by a "controversial" friend, when most would instantly cut and run, out of that rampant mental disorder, polpollophobia (pols' fear of polls.)

No, in Obama's shoes, most other candidates would have disowned Rev. Jeremiah Wright faster than Diebold changes a vote count. But Obama stood by his longtime friend, while denouncing his "God damn America" remarks and his laying the blame for 9/11 on Lady Liberty. O-man should have done the same for Samantha Power, his foreign affairs expert who was ditched overnight for calling Hillary a "monster." (Pretty mild stuff, compared with a pastor telling a congregation, "God Damn America.")

It was, as all the TeeVee Punditmannequins are noting, a remarkably candid and straightforward speech about racial problems in this country, and the O-man deserves tremendous credit for that. He is to be lauded for noting that anger is understandable from blacks, and from whites, and making the bullseye observation that the country goes nowhere unless the anger subsides. But to compare it with King's "Dream" speech (or any other of the lesser known, but equally compelling King speeches) is ignorant media pronouncement that relegates history to nothing but a video soundbite competition.

As for Wright, when you get down to it, what is really wrong with saying "God damn America?" How often do you curse Washington in far stronger language, folks? This is free speech, after all, right? Well, as Obama suggested, what's wrong with it is that it inflames hatred and anger---in this case, among the already extremely resentful black American populace---and that is exactly the opposite job of any pastor, minister, rabbi, priest, cleric. Or should be. Rev. Wright wronged his flock.

It gets to the core of a problem that the O-man did not (could not?) address pointedly, and that is how bogus much---not all--of contemporary black American anger is. By that, LL means this: no country in the history of the world has done more to redress racial injustice than the United States. No country has passed more legislation to punish any/all race-based hatred and prejudice. (Who says you can't legislate morality?) Affirmative Action has for decades greased the way into higher education for millions of African-Americans who would not otherwise have had a chance. It has done the same in industry. Never mind that this flew in the face of promoting/hiring/rewarding the most qualified person. Such was the sacrifice this country---the whole country!---was willing to make in order to help minorities out.

Pretty impressive. You're welcome, black America!

Yet to consider the massively, colossally influential black popular culture of the last 30 years---chiefly rap and hip-hop, and the attitudes these things have spurred---you would think that slavery is still taking place. Listen to the "gangstas" rapping about "niggahz" and "white boy" this and "white boy" that. It's just beyond horror. These "superstar" narcissist punks degrade themselves, their history, their community, and the martyrdom of Dr. Martin Luther King. (Do you imagine that he would appreciate black Americans calling one another "niggah?") These dawgs and G's, in short,  foment racism. That's right, there is no force that has stoked racial animosity more in this country in the last 30 years than rap and hip-hop lyrics, videos (and I must also include a nod to universities, which are replete with classes promulgating the image of the USA as a racist nation.) How ironic that this would happen after the sacrifices and civil rights marches of the sixties that paved the way for equal rights legislation.

I'm sorry, but those people didn't march---and die---for Snoop Dogg.

The result: many young African-Americans have grown up believing the country to be racist and evil, that whites are to be distrusted, disdained, ridiculed---and if they so much as raise an eyebrow at you, hated. Modern black popular culture, with its widespread paranoiac, racist attitudes, has done more to harm American race relations than anything since the KKK.

Yes, yes, racial prejudice and discrimination exist. Always have, always will. It's human nature, and no ethnic group is exempt from being perpetrators, and victims. That's beside the point. Racism is an abiding phenomenon for all humanity---never mind that scientists have demonstrated through DNA match that race is genetically meaningless. The point is that "God Damn America" has done more to legally combat racism, and to help its minorities, than any country, ever.

One can only wonder if the reason, rationality, and eloquence of a President Obama---let alone the symbolism of his election---will have any impact on the poisonous hatred and victim-complex that has come to inculcate black America.

O WELL. . .
Barack Obama has an edge in the prez campaign because he's black? So said former veep candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who was promptly pilloried by Hillary---well, not quite. Hillary "rejected" the assertion made by the lower half of the Mondale ticket---but that wasn't good enough for the O-man. Neither was Ferraro's resignation from an honorary advisory post with the Clinton campaign. Nope, Oprah-bama used lots of soft language like "wrong-headed" to dismiss Geraldine's observation, and laughed as he told various TeeVee Newsmannequins how being (well, half) black and bearing the name Barack Obama could hardly be considered an advantage.

How disingenuous can you get, Barry? Let's say there was a massive Eskimo population in the country, comparable to the number of African-Americans. O-kay? Let's say that along came a (well, half) Eskimo-American candidate named Aglakti Biisaiyowaq. Okay, let's make it simpler: Aga Akiak. (look the names up---they have nice meanings.) Let's say that Akiak had policies and rhetoric that happened to have a very broad appeal, and that he had a great knack for public speaking and making people feel good. Great numbers of people who were not Eskimos.

And then let's say that because Akiak was also the very first Eskimo-American to have a real shot at the presidency, this inspired almost all other Eskimo-Americans to vote for him. This would give a candidate who already had broad across-the-board appeal a massive numerical advantage, would it not? An advantage based mostly on race?

Ah, but you can't say that in The United States of Political Correctness. You can't make any observations about race in this country without being called a racist. And who is calling whom racist here? Hint: it is not Ferraro.

O, give us a break.


War on Terror? Sure. You bet. Fight the terrorists. Eradicate them. No mercy. Lamplighter is all for it. One caveat: let's start at home. As in Homie.

The other day a nice kid named Jamiel Shaw was gunned down. He was black, a star running back at L.A. High, with a mom serving as a soldier in Iraq. He was on his cell phone in South L.A., near his home, when a car full of latino gang members pulled up, asked him if he belonged to a gang, then shot him to death.

Shaw was 17 with sports scholarship offers probable from Stanford. He was talking to his girlfriend when he was murdered.

A few weeks ago there was a small war in Glassell Park, a lovely old L.A. district long infected with gang vermin. Middle of the day, bullets flying, in the end one "gangbanger" killed while holding his two-year-old granddaughter.

The Glassell Park neighborhood is an infamous latino gang stronghold going back at least 50 years. It's a Mexican Mafia hub, a virtual clearing house for money laundering and drugs shipped from south of the border. Everyone in the area knows it. Everyone in the LAPD knows it.

Your Illuminator spoke with a law enforcement official from the state of California who specializes in dealing with gangs. A real gritty type who gets down and dirty with these people, and has dispatched a few to the big barrios and ghettos in the sky, Official made this off-the-record comment about Glassell Park, and the latino gang situation in general:

"Mexican Mafia controls it all. Always has. Always will."

So you see that law enforcement operates with a feeling of, oh, call it futility. They roll into areas like Glassell Park periodically, make "gang sweep" arrests of five, ten, twenty, thirty monsters, only to have their places quickly filled by others, etc. Never ends.

It need not be this way.

Diverting the War on Terror is the way to deal with it. All studies, LAPD gang squads, sweeps---they never work. Never. Gangs are, after all, terrorists, and they are thriving in just about every major city in the country.

Here's what to do:

Take Glassell Park, for example. Go into that stinking, festering pocket of savagery---with the U.S. military. Occupy the neighborhood. Shut it down. Arrest every gang member in the vicinity, and ship them off not to jail, but to Gitmo. No trial, no nothing. Indefinite "detention." Hand out some relocation dough to the remaining mothers and children, transport them to new housing, and raze the entire neighborhood. Flatten it, clear it out. Build a razor-wire fence around the vacant land, and leave it.

Do this everywhere and anywhere this sort of criminality exists. Gang warfare threatens civilization itself, and it has been tolerated much too long. Maybe this will also stop the media from glorifying it in popular culture.

Fascism? Violation of "civil rights?" You bet. What rights should murderers, money-launderers, drug-runners have?

Yes, saintly Father Gregory Boyle has the best idea. His Homeboy Industries has offered a near-miraculous, constructive way for gang members to get out of their vile "lifestyle" and live like human beings. Problem is, Father Boyle is not mayor, or governor, or president. Problem is, government never works as imaginatively, compassionately, intelligently, as Father Boyle does.

Celeste Fremon, who does the Witness L.A. blog, and who focused attention on the fiendish, beastly murder of Jamiel Shaw, suggests this:

"The harder thing will be to work form the political will to address this complex mess called gang violence at its core—which every study in the last 20 years has made clear is a task cannot be done solely through law enforcement. We need to address the fifty-percent and above inner city school drop out rate, the lack of jobs, the fact that a third of LA’s kids living in high gang areas have worse levels of PTSD than soldiers returning from Fallujah."

She's right, but none of this will solve the problem. None of this will loosen the Crips' grip, or the Mexican Mafia's hold, or end the media-hyped allure of "gangsta" life, in neighborhoods across the country. Won't happen, Ms. Fremon. Ever.

Fascism is the way to go. Bush had it right, but he had the wrong target in mind.


You know all about it by now. A white Sherman Oaks woman who graduated from an exclusive private school faked an autobiography of a south L.A. girl who grew up with gangs and deprivation.

Margaret Seltzer concocted the story of Margaret B. Jones, part white, part Native-American, victim of sexual assault, placed in foster homes. Winds up living with "Big Mom," hard-working black woman raising four grandkids. Joins the Bloods, lives the "gangsta" life.

Bravo, Meg! You're my hero. Well, almost. You would have been my hero had you not taken the sorryass cop-out about trying to generate sympathy for the real Margaret B. Jones-es out there. Really lame, Meg. Really stupid.

What you should have said was this:

"Yes, I wrote it, and I faked it. Why? Because it's the only way to get anything published anymore! You could write like  Steinbeck or Hemingway, and all these pompous bitchy agents and publishers (most of whom are women!) wouldn't give you the time of day. But if you write something about depravity---something involving racial identity (preferably mixed, so as to have that trendy element of being being "psychologically conflicted"), sexual abuse, murder, gangs---you're a shoo-in! My book proves it! Critics were all over it like white housewives on Oprah!"

Well, Meg didn't say any of that---I did. And it's absolutely true. Write about this sort of subject, and publication and great reviews are in the bag, baby. Consider: the "Jones" editor at Riverhead Press never even bothered to meet "Jones," and took her at her word that she was who she represented herself to be---in three years of e-mail and phone conversation. Three years! One chuckles, thinking of Seltzer adopting black patois and urban accent in those phone chats. . .

Said the Riverhead Dunderhead publisher, Sarah McGrath:

"It's very upsetting to us because we spent so much time with this person and felt such sympathy for her and she would talk about how she didn't have any money or heat and we completely bought into that."

And why did you buy into it, Sarah? Because you smelled money. The nicest spin one can put on this is that you are of the ilk that believes that this sort of claptrap is "important literature." But I'll stick with venality. Does it not occur to those (monied white) publishers that they are profiting (profiteering?) from the tragedy of others?

But back to the book. Lamplighter has long, long, long (George Harrison) talked of faking a book, and one of these days, he just might do it. Asian chic is big, so maybe a half-Chinese, half-latina. . .who returns to her old 'hood after earning a degree in oh, "human resources," then throws her career away by murdering her father over incest. . .beats the rap and becomes a beloved talk show host. . .is elected a U.S. senator. . .eventually is exposed in massive corruption scandal involving Indian reservations and dwarves. . .returns to her 'hood, finds Jesus, becomes a nun, commits suicide. . .Yes! Yes!

Then maybe I'll get reviews like the one Los Angeles Times book reviewer Susan Salter Reynolds gave to Seltzer's fake autobiography, praising "her loyalty to the language, the sense of community, the tight bonds she formed with her gang."

What a racket. What a world. I repeat: John Steinbeck would collect dozens of rejection letters today from these sorry vragos who call themselves agents and publishers.

Seltzer, at least, has demonstrated that.


It's become much too easy for Lamplighter to take swipes at the Los Angeles Times, but that's the paper's tough luck. The latest atrocity, which must horrify even the most lightweight Times staffers, is the green crotch blog.

Yes, it is well known that many papers are ham-handedly trying to "compete with the web" by appropriating popular local blogs. For those who don't know what a blog is, this is an Internet forum in which the puerile indulge and aggrandise their egos by dithering about things they find "cool." Cool being the absolute determining measure of all worth in the universe. Well, I exaggerate. There are many articulate, incisive, well-written, and useful blogs. Well, I exaggerate. There are more than ten.

Anyhow, in its uptight, receding hairlined, fat-assed Midwest corporate grope for bucks, the LAT is paying real dollars to blogging little boys and girls who type up their teeny-tiny blurts for like-"minded" little boys and girls. Translation: the LAT is buying up blogs and running them under its august masthead.

Which brings us back to the green crotch.

Something called "Siel" who types extensively about the state of her large intestine and how much booze she ingests, has posted a dither about spotting her "girlfriend's" bikinied crotch on another blog called "Treehugger." She carries on with high excitement about the crotch, as if it is the focus of enormous importance in her life. Well, it probably is (sigh.) Anyhow, the Times posted it, slapped on this "headline:" "Greenest Crotch in the Blogosphere."

Does this just make you want to hide? Not admit to cats and dogs that you are human?

No, no, it's not that the subject matter is um, racy, of course. It's not that at all. It's that this reads like the Ritalin-deprived chatter of a six-year-old, and has less content than a porn script. But chances are, "Siel" (just how much is she paid, I'd like to know) is a marketing/demographics type's wet dream. A creature of and tapped deeply into the minds (and crotches) of similarly feral adult children.

It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the Times.

But not quite.

It's also enough to inspire some highly intelligent and well-written blogging by one Shel Holz, which you may read here.


To lighten things up for one and all, here is a breezy little note from our resident poet laureate and lantern-lighter, Jack Oakes:

Arnold has been doing Fascism's work ever since becoming governor. That's what is behind the idea that government is bad and taxes are evil. Except they've turned state and federal government into their personal ATMs, engineering it as a profit scam, like everything else they touch, from the war on down. The whole deficit thing is scam engineered to further screw over California.

The whole world could be living in a paradise if it were not for the greedy schemers screwing us over all under the guise of "capitalism." ... we don't have capitalism, we have corporate state socialism. Crazy Uncle Ralphie has it right.
And the crazy Palestinians know first hand what's been done to them. But, they like the Iraqis, don't even realize that they've been turned into malign puppets by the Cabal. The Cabal needs enemies to keep the profits rolling in. Instead of being violent militants, they should turn to the Gandhian path of nonviolence en masse. But they've been subjected to stress positions and psychic torture for decades. . .
. . .Sort of like the folks in the ghetto and the barrio. Clinton demonstrated that domestic economic development and appropriate policing policies can reduce crime. Bushco has shifted money into the pockets of military-industrial profiteers. Plus it's handy to keep the citizenry agitated by fears of terrorism and crime in the streets. Just like Nixon flooded the ghettoes with heroin and Reagan flooded them with crack. And it's good to have an underclass of blacks and immigrants so they can be hated and feared, rather than people homing in on the real criminals.
Of course, Bush is just a symptom of the disease that infects us, like an oozing, noxious abscess on our soul. Hating Bush is a pleasant pursuit, but it is a diversion from doing anything resembling real work. And that should be exposing the moral rot that infests the corporate world and their political stooges.
So in Obama, like RFK, I see someone articulating the frustration regular folks feel. It may be a pose on his part, but symbolically it adds a fresh element to the process. He may not have any clue as to what to do when he's president. I've said in the past that he's a stalking horse for Hillary. Imagine how dull it would be if it was Hillary in a cakewalk. Now Hillary can show she can be a winner against a formidable foe. Look for Obama to be her VP candidate.  

. . .Then Lamplighter is glad he is posting it. If the preceding item casts a little darkness over your spirit, this one is a solid blast of joyful illuminatoriousness. If you feel that human beings ever so slightly fail to oh, do the right thing. . .that humanity tends to not exactly exemplify the most altruistic, optimistic, noblest tendencies. . .then take a look at this. It's almost enough to make you think that this race is worth a damn, after all. As reader PJC reminded, "dare to struggle; dare to win, dare to fall and rise again."

There are a lot of people who are very good at arching their eyebrows importantly, and nodding their heads up and down, and shaking their heads from side to side, all the while reading script aloud in very controlled, important-sounding tones. Some of these people, though not many, actually comprehend what they are reading. They are also highly skilled at dying their hair, buying expensive wardrobes, and choosing good cosmetic surgeons to flatten their noses, raise their brows, implant their cheeks, inflate their lips. Many of the females of this group are either blonde or Asian-American, and generally protrude.

They are called "television news anchors."

Jack Noldon is not one of them. Check that: Jack Noldon is a television news anchor, but he has none of the qualifications for the job listed above. Somehow, Jack got into the business and stayed there, despite the fact that he is a journalist who knows how to report a story. Astounding. Thirty years at KSEE Channel 24 in Fresno, California. That ain't jack, Jack. Lamplighter sends a beam.

Forgive Your Illuminator his relentless and impotent curiosity about the news. It's just old habit. But LL just can't help wondering about the fact that---how did it go?---nuclear secrets were leaked by the U.S. to Pakistan, and possibly to Al-Qaeda? It's complicated, but here goes:

Moles in the US State Department, the Pentagon, and the nuclear weapons establishment were selling nuclear secrets for cash, through Turkey, to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

Pakistan’s ISI plays footsie with Al-Qaeda.

Still with us?

Pakistan’s Dr. Strangelove, General Mahmoud Ahmad, was accused of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks in NYC and D.C..

Uh. . .Can you say. . .U.S. involvement in 9/11? Even indirect?

Wait! There's more:

FBI investigators took a number of Turkish and Pakistani operatives into custody for questioning about foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, BUT a high-ranking State Department official repeatedly acted to spirit them out of the country! (Just as was done with Bin-Laden's extended family.)

Now, don't take our word for all this. These are the claims of Sibel Edmonds, a former Turkish and Arabic translator for the FBI. What reason would Ms. Edmonds have for essentially destroying her life, or at least putting her reputation and life at serious risk, by making these claims? Hmmm. How about. . .conscience!

Before she left the FBI in 2002, Edmonds said she overheard evidence that pointed to money laundering, drug imports and attempts to acquire nuclear and conventional weapons technology---involving a network of Turkish, Pakistani, Israeli, and U.S. spooks.

This, of course, is the way countries generally do business, though you wouldn't know it by watching CNN or Fox.

Well, call LL a dim bulb, but gee, it kinda sorta seems like this story should be oh, blowing all other news stories entirely out of the water, every day, in every paper, and on every news program. Doncha think?

Especially with this wrinkle: Edmonds says the Bush administration blocked investigation of this Gordian Spy Knot and protected those who were committing these acts of treason.

But hey, let's not spoil Amerryguns' illusions or sense of (yuck, yuck) security.  Not to mention entertainment provided by the so-called presidential "campaign," football, and CSI.


Now, LL is not innately or gratuitously cruel. Believe it or not, his morality is thoroughly considered, weighed, sweated over. And Your Beamness does not generally laugh at tragedy, unless it involves Madonna, Paris Hilton, or Oprah. But you'll have to forgive us here:


There, that's better.

Oh, the guilt is setting in anyway. We shouldn't laugh at a poor 46-year-old high school math teacher in Houston who died in a freak accident. Anybody who is teaching high school deserves praise and respect, unless they are fornicating with their students or teaching them math the way LL was taught math in high school. But. . .what happened to Perry Price is, oh. . .darn me again, there I go chuckling.

Perry, it seems, took a shotgun out to kill a goose. Readers of this column know that LL finds it just contemptible beyond description that humans think they are so goddamned clever because they use sophisticated weaponry to shoot defenseless, unsuspecting animals. We doubt that Price fetched a very pricey salary, but we also doubt that he found it necessary to supplement his larder by shotgunning geese.

Well, after committing birdicide, old Perry threw his gun in the back of his truck, and it went off, hitting him in the leg. By the time the cops found him, he was a dead duck.

That's one for the birds.

Once in far too great a while, a story comes along that is so amazing, so wonderful, so surprising, that it almost---almost---starts to restore a slight hint of admiration for human beings. It almost---almost---makes you forget about all the stuff that TeeVee Newsmannequins and Oprah and Bush insist are soooooo important. From the valley of Vulchiusella in Turin in northern Italy comes this story of a fellow who had a little idea, and saw it through. Talk about shining light in a dark place. . .Oberto Airaudi gets the Lamplighter Beam-of-the-Year Award. Thank you, Oberto.


In this exclusive photographic comparison, Lamplighter demonstrates what most thinking people already know: Rudy "The Creep" Giuliani is actually a vampire. While it is not unusual to find vampires in politics, it is notable that Giuliani bears a striking resemblance to Nosferatu. The man for whom 9/11 is the blood of life has so far refused DNA tests.

bulb dimmed while watching the "American Masters" PBS documentary on Charles Schulz. For it seems as if the producers were intent on dimming the history of Schulz himself, by playing up all the "troubled" and "psychologically complex" side of the creator of the most beloved comic strip in history. Who is not complex? Who among us understands why we do what we do? I mean, really. Yes, it was salient and interesting to learn that Schulz lost his mother early, and that little emotion was expressed in his Midwest German-American stock family, and that a real "little red-headed girl" once rejected him. But you came away from this "portrait" feeling very sorry for a man who seemed imprisoned by gnarled, repressed feelings that he could only express by through the almost obsessive-compulsive habit of drawing "Peanuts." Feh. No one, and nothing, is so simple. He liked to draw cartoons! He also was a bit of a student of the human condition.

LL later learned that two of Schulz's daughters refused to participate in the program, and that the family in general feels that the "dramatic" was emphasized in the documentary, to the neglect of the more biographical (let alone the happier aspect.) One bit of biography that was so neglected that it did not even appear was the fact that Schulz served as an army staff sergeant during WWII---something of which he was extremely proud. And another "little" omission: Schulz was also quite proud of having created the first black character in an American comic strip (not based on unfortunate stereotype): Franklin.

While the show cleverly blended real-life events into Peanuts panels, the conclusion went for the maudlin---showing various cutouts of Linus, Lucy, and the rest. . .disappearing with Schulz's passing. If there are any characters in the history of comic strips, if not Americana in general, that will never, never fade away, Charlie Brown and the rest of the "Peanuts" gang are them.

Your Illuminator was palavering with Rip Post Poet Laureate Jack Oakes the other day, expressing his oft-felt wish that the late Frank Zappa was still around to try to make sense of the horrors of the day (many of which he predicted.) Mr. Oakes, a hobbyist student of Buddhist philosophies, responded thusly:

"It falls to folks like us to fight off the veil of toxic cobwebs that envelopes us as the world chokes in its own filth.

"Maybe the answer is rigorous Zen-like work and to be activist creators, not pacified consumers.

"Problem with Buddhist stuff is that people get so wrapped up in it that it becomes their narcotic. The point of Buddhism is to be in the now. But the "now" is such a very rich and multifacted wonderland that it's easy to wander off any old rabbit hole on looking glass.

"But for many people the 'now' sucks major league. So they want to be somebody else and somewhere else. That's the hook of the consumerist/capitalist society. You suck, buy our product and we'll make you king of all you survey. That dynamic has scoured out most vestiges of good and kindly fellow feeling or compassion.

"Free-minded and free-hearted people are not tolerated in the corporate commons. We're getting fenced out at every turn. I don't want to be a fascist, mama. For whatever reason, Zappa was a natural anti-fascist.

"Down deep, we all have the ability to savvy what goes down. But along the way, we wind up eating so much shit that we become corrupted as well, and thus powerless, if not outright insane

"So if there are channels by which we can get back to the basics and cleanse ourselves of the toxic overburden of culture and conditioning, there's hope we can become something more than zombie fools."

LL is not so sure he shares Mr. Oakes's optimism---no, actually, he is sure that he does not share Mr. Oakes's optimism. Most people are simply helpless against the corporate media enslaught of pseudo-reality. They buy it, and into it, and believe that cars and trucks and The Bachelor and American Idol and Rich Dad infomercials and whatever is sanctioned as "cool" by Pope Capitalist Amok I is the real deal. And kids coming up these days are even more feral than current generations of tattooed Self Monsters. Check out this Mark Morford column on the subject.

And yet, as FZ liked to say:

“My theory is you have to do two things. One, you don’t stop, and two, you keep going.”

To which Oakes added:

"Frank was fortunate to have been able to make his own way and to succeed. It didn't seem like a struggle for him. He found his vision and off he went. Magnificent! Somebody should do a biography of who he was, not a litany of what notes he played, where and when. A meditation on the meaning of Frank and his music. He was a great man. A beacon of how to live free in the modern age."

We have four seasons here in Lost Angeles: light summer, nearly summer, summer, and fire. Those who have grown up here are used to this sort of thing: the limp, orangish light and hint of charred chapparal in the air over the L.A. basin in autumn. New England can rhapsodize all it wishes about how all the fall trees look as if they are on fire---here, we've got the real deal. There's sizzle in the L.A. autumnal steak.

Fire season (now any time the Santa Anas blow) is also, of course, the season of the relentlessly babbling TV Newsmannequin. They stream an endless loop of cliches and "unfortunately" and "sadly" and "tragically" and somehow never cover the story. Imagine Chick Hearn "calling the action" of a fire, and you get the idea of how it could and should be. It seems that reporters and Anchormannequins are so used to seeing mayhem and horror in the news and in the finest family entertainment, that they no longer have any real perspective on describing actual destruction. "Oh, here's another house on fire. Another sad story," drones Generic Anchorboy/girl. What of statistics? What of comparing these fires with past years' fires? Is the increase in annual fire a yield of global warming, as scientists have predicted? If the Santa Anas kick up as they did last Sunday, would embers be carried throughout the Valley, the L.A. basin, San Gabriel Valley? What of hard news instead of camera pointing and maudlin, "Oh, another tragedy in the making" blather? Gad.

Fire them all. 

You will not see a finer, more important speech than this one, delivered in 1992 by 13-year-old Severn Suzuki to a U.N. gathering. It's the speech of the decade, if not the century. She gets the Lamplighter Award for Burning Brightest. And she's still at it today.


There must be something in the newsprint at the L.A. Times, that's all LL can figure. It must contain drugs that rub off on the fingers of staffers and get into their bloodstream. I mean, how else do you explain that almost every single person Your Illuminator has ever met at that "great newspaper" is just a wee bit, oh, regal? Right down to the secretaries and telephone operators? Eh?

LL recalls a nice guy, a former colleague, who was hired at the LAT long ago. Nice Guy went from blue jeans, floppy hair, ready smile, smoking dope to. . .sharp suits, spiffy 'do, rigid chin and declarations of "I work with a lot of very impressive people, very impressive." Pee Yoo.

Anyhow, the latest Times reeking ego wafts from the resignation memo of assistant managing editor Janet Clayton, and it may be read in full here. Among other things, Ms. Clayton makes such grand pronouncements as "as Freud supposedly said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar---sometimes things really are what they seem." This is her jaunty way of explaining that there is nothing hidden in her departure---that she simply "yearns to try something new" after 30 years of (get this) "serving the high calling of daily journalism."

Yearns? Yearns? Last time LL heard "yearns" was in that Seinfeld episode where Kramer asks George if he yearns. "Do I yearn?" says George, incredulously. Oh, let's clutch our little hands to our bosom, and yearn!

As for the "high calling" of daily journalism, quick, cue the music. Gad. These people all imagine they work in the Vatican. The whole problem with journalism is self-serious, pompous jackasses who think they are serving a "high calling." God Almighty, give that woman cigar and a spitoon.

There's plenty more, but nothing as good as this: "I have been privileged to work with scores of you over the years, chasing stories, making sarcastic jokes, working elections all night, crafting editorials that we knew would irk a wayward politician, getting a juicy tip that leads to a blockbuster series."

Oh, my! How wild and wooly! How rock-'em, sock-'em! Imagine---making "sarcastic jokes" in a newsroom! Oh, does life get any more outrageous than that? Gosh! Sarcasm in a newspaper. That's so daring! (Well, I guess I should be glad to hear this, seeing as the San Francisco Chronicle actually banned sarcasm  in its newsroom a couple years ago.) And---hold on to your hats, boys and girls---Ms. Clayton "crafted" editorials (a woman like her doesn't merely write, you see) that would "irk" a "wayward politician."

Get LL some smelling salts! It's too much! The idea that a newspaper would try to "irk" a politician! No! It can't be. It's just too unthinkable! No wonder Los Angeles has such great public servants---the LAT keeps "irking" them so they perform better. That must be  why we have no traffic or density problems here!

As for "juicy tip" and "blockbuster series," let's call in the Lifeless Cliche Police. Oh, there's more of Clayton's sillyass note, but we're too "irked" to continue. Not to worry---she'll be replaced by another Times ego-zombie who "yearns" to "craft editorials" and make "sarcastic jokes." Maybe that old dope-smoking colleague of mine.

Lamplighter watched the McCain/Obama "roast" the other night with great amusement that gradually turned to something akin to dismay, with a touch of acid reflux.

Who would have thought that with all the rancorous, cancerous campaigning by McCain and Palin---egging on treacherous cretins in their bigotry and ignorance by practically portraying Obama as Osama---that McCain could sit in a room with the O-man, and laugh? Not just laugh, but look. . .sane. Almost. . .likeable. Huh?

McCain's speech was a howl, and he delivered it with great comic flourish. The man has a sense of humor? He's not just a cantankerous, cranky old crackpot? He had Obama almost doubling over---and Hillary, too. Obama nearly matched him for wit and delivery, but this pundit gives the comedy debate to McCain.

Seriously: if the two of them had sat down together with Bob Schieffer in that third debate, and behaved as amiably, as affably, and as light-heartedly, it would have been medicine for the nation. And, horror of horrors, McCain would have come off more effectively.

That was the amusement. The dismay and acid reflux came as Your Illuminator took note of the fact that the whole room was filled with sworn enemies, dining together in elegant white-tie and gowns. This includes the mainstream media. Yes, there was the Washington power elite and the media power elite, including NBC's Brian Williams, all having a good laugh together. Cocks of the walk, all. Hillary included. I could only sputter, so it was lucky that my pal, lantern-lighter Floyd Kucharski, checked in with this incisive observation:

"It reminds me of the vicious rivalry between wrestlers Dick the Bruiser and Wilbur Snyder back in the 1960's. Fans thought they hated each other, with each wishing the other dead or worse; turns out that behind the scenes they were co-owners of the wrestling federation that sponsored their matches.

"Match outcomes were always predetermined. Bruiser and Snyder were business partners. But we rubes all chose sides and stood solidly behind one wrestler or the other; and both of them grew rich."

A perfect analogy!

Your Illuminator has been increasingly dimmed by lack of inspiration, so it was with great pleasure that he received the following exposition from lantern-lighter Socrates---who had not written in, could it be years?

We feared that Soc had been at the hemlock, or harassed into disrepute and reclusion by feisty students. Not the case! The wise, and somewhat wizened observer of the "human condition" (or lack of same) checks in with weighty insights concerning the so-called election, and the so-called straight-talker, John McCain:

"May your lamp be fully fuelled in this dire time. The peculiarity of events currently transpiring requires intense scrutiny where only a searching light can expose the hypocrisy that attempts to subvert the realm of reason. It is an era worthy of Lewis Carroll. If only we could be assured that our series of irrational and nightmarish developments would be resolved by the simple act of awakening as from a frightful dream, perhaps we could go forward to rational solutions to those dilemmas that precipitated the nightmare. Alas, Carroll is dead, and we must bestir ourselves to wakefulness.

"It is unfortunate that citizens of a nation may fail to recognize that they are lulled into lethargy by the very leaders they heed. During the time of replacing those leaders, citizens are particularly vulnerable to manipulation of the dream content where numbing clichés replace substance. Consider, please, the following.

"In this presidential contest, we hear the buzz words “patriotism, experience, and judgment” bandied about promiscuously, as though the candidates believe citizens will never seriously examine their meaning or context intelligently in the presidential debate. Regrettably, many citizens will not do so. It is easier to be swayed by the emotional associations of a word, than the intelligent analysis of a word, and avoid challenging the relevance of the term to the issue at hand. And aspirants to high office count on it.

"Senator McCain has brought into question his youthful opponent’s relative lack of experience and judgment. Ironically, Senator McCain has chosen as his patriotic catch phrase, “Country first.” What exactly does he mean: My country’s interests before all other countries’ interests, my country before corporate greed, or “My country, right or wrong”? Does the phrase, “Fatherland first,” carry the same patriotic air, or would that expose the phrase for the mindless jingoism it is? Such unchallenged assertions are dangerous as we know from our experience with two world wars. Not only are the words dangerous, so are those who utter them blindly.

"As for “judgment,” judgment to promote what end: National security, international cooperation, ethical economics, or protecting the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from those who would cast it aside in the pursuit of security? This is a question that needs to be addressed to either party aspirant for the office of the Presidency. Are their interests in securing the welfare of the nation, or of securing their entry into the history books, even as a footnote? The office of the Presidency requires searingly honest self-scrutiny as to whether any aspirant should inflict him/herself on the nation in times of crisis or not. That is the first critical act of judgment of a candidate.

"So what has the elderly Senator McCain done to present his qualifications as experienced and judicial in his campaign? Decades of office should qualify him as experienced, but what was the result of that experience? Yes, there was some bi-partisan effort, but where was the stand against disastrous decisions of the current administration? Senator McCain’s negotiations with the President regarding the torture of prisoners, seemed successful, but were quickly dashed by Mr. Bush’ interpretation of their agreement. Was there a cry of outrage by Mr. McCain? I am still waiting to hear it. However, there seems to be no reluctance to Mr. McCain’s dredging up his P.O.W. experience, if it elicits the sympathy card, when the race card is not allowed. If I had been a prisoner of war in Viet Nam, I would be insulted by this profligate usurpation of my dignity and suffering to facilitate his political ambitions. McCain’s unflinching support of the administration’s failed policies certainly raises questions about his ability to make correct judgments.

"But the most blatant example of McCain’s callous disregard for what is in the interest of his country is his selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate. Did this in any sense show wise judgment? It was a shrewd political move to pander to the disappointed supporters of Hillary Clinton; a cunning ploy to appeal to women of any party, but what judgment does it show for a man of age and experience? It may well be the worst decision of his career. If it doesn’t bring his bid for office to failure, it may well bring down the nation if he wins. Of all the possible female politicians from whom he could have selected, he chose one who is unknown, inexperienced, vacuous, and young. Hmm. Weren’t those the qualities he was denouncing in his opponent? So why are they now acceptable in his potential replacement? Americans should be outraged by his indifference to the welfare of the country. Is this what McCain means by “Country first?” McCain Country?

"Where is the wisdom that supposedly comes with age? Where is the wisdom that comes with experience? Where is the wisdom that comes from reasoned judgment? Clearly it does not come with Senator McCain.

"Now about that patriotism…. It brings to mind, Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat. Now you see it, now you don’t. But always the maddening smile lingers as if it were enough to obscure the reality."

Lamplighter can say nothing that is not said better here:


Rosh Hashanah is a perfectly lovely holiday, of course, but. . .last we checked, it was not a federal holiday. Vital services remain open, including schools, post offices, and animal regulation. What a shame, then, that animal regulation did not do its job on Rosh Hashanah and deal with the dumb beasts in D.C.. Right, the ones who took Rosh Hashanah off---for two days!---during, oh, the greatest economic crisis since The Depression.

Hey, Congressman! Terrorists have just gotten hold of a nuclear weapon, and are threatening to blow up Las Vegas! Where are you going? "We're going to Disneyland!"

What in the hell was the United States Congress doing, observing a non-federally designated religious holiday for Jews? Fine that the 29 Jews in the House and the 13 in the Senate took the day off---well, sort of fine (Your Illuminator spent many Christmases working in newsrooms)---but the rest of the goyim and assorted colors? Eh?

More important, why did the news media give this stupendous outrage a bye? Why was there so little coverage, questioning, complaining, let alone indignation? Why did the Cow Woman get more attention on all the morning news programs than the Rosh Hashanah break? Not kosher!

That's correct, the Cow Woman---32-year-old Michelle Allen of Ohio---did America proud by raging around, roaring drunk, in a (Holstien) cow outfit. Seems she got tired of her "job," which was to dress as a cow and advertise something, and went nuts, challenging people to "suck my udders" and urinating in public. No wonder Ohio has voting problems.

And boy, were the Congressbeasts happy and thankful for Cow Woman, as she took all the attention away from their two-day respite in observance of a holiday that few of them observe, or care about.

Methinks we have a case of Sacred Cow-ism here. And we don't mean Michelle Allen.

has been blasting searchlights for weeks, trying to call attention to this glaring fact: McCain puts the country at risk---even before he is president. This is how reckless this man is. He is a threat to the nation's stability, health, and safety. Finally, another commmentator comes out and says the same thing. Leave it to Frank Rich:

"The question," writes Rich in his 9/29 column, "is why would a man who forever advertises his own honor toy so selfishly with our national interest at a time of crisis."

Rich is speaking of McCain's bizarre suspension-of-the-campaign tactic---he had to rush to Washington, he said, to fix the economic crisis---which requires a suspension of disbelief few apparently were able to conjure. McCain, in short, played politics with the economy---while professing to do exactly the opposite. Rich again:

"When John McCain gratuitously parachuted into Washington on Thursday, he didn’t care if his grandstanding might precipitate an even deeper economic collapse. All he cared about was whether he might save his campaign. George Bush put more deliberation into invading Iraq than McCain did into his own reckless invasion of the delicate Congressional negotiations on the bailout plan."

Every decision McCain has made while campaigning---all rash, impetuous, self-serving, foolish, and done strictly to get headlines---demonstrate how rash, impetuous, self-serving and foolish President McCain would be. Nothing demonstrates his scary, dangerous decision-making more than his choice of Sarah Palin for vice-president. The woman---and this is putting it kindly---could not run her own category on "Jeopardy." In a bit of the CBS interview left on the cutting room floor, she was asked by Katie Couric to name Supreme Court decisions aside from Roe v. Wade. She simply stared blankly, and said nothing.

When Rense wrote a couple weeks ago here that Obama should call for Palin's removal from the ticket on the grounds of national security, he was flooded with e-mail from all manner of dunderheads (and one or two non-dunderheads.) Most wrote snidely and smugly how it was "naive" to think that Obama would do such a thing. Well, Rense never said he thought Obama doing this was in the realm of possibility. He was saying that this is what Obama should do. You dopes.

Your Illuminator is not in lock-step with Rense, but this is a point where he was as right as February rain in L.A.. John McCain rashly and unthinkingly selected a ruthlessly ambitious and beauty-pagaent-contestant sophisticated woman to be his running mate---strictly for headlines. Pat Sajak would be a more substantial candidate than Sarah Palin. Maybe even Vanna White.

Thankfully, many other commentators, including conservatives like Jack Cafferty and David Brooks, are now following Rense's lead (har) and saying the same thing. McCain has imPalined himself.

If melanoma catches up with President McCain, he will have placed a profoundly ignorant, ill-equipped, unqualified airhead in charge of the country. (And her good-time jock husband.) These people are speak-in-tongues Holy rollers who believe that cave men might have romped with the dinosaurs---just for starters. And what kind of a woman---woman---requires rape victims to pay for their own examination kits? Well, if you need more to convince that Palin is a monster, you're a lost cause, anyhow, and should just stop reading here.

McCain did this. He has run the risk of putting your fate and well-being into the hands of a little dodo who belongs behind the manager's desk of any corner grocery. McCain did this to the country, to you, to me, and he did it all out of vainglory. He wants to sit behind that desk in the West Wing the way Amy Winehouse wants to smoke more crack.

If this country puts him and his little girlie-ticket into power, it will deserve everything that will come to it. Problem is, the rest of the world will not.

So here is the McFuzzy strategy, if you can call it that. . .

When you don't know the answer to a question, give a general policy statement. If that's not good enough, and the reporter is insolent enough to ask the question again, then repeat the general policy statement, with a tinge of irritation.

This is what McFuzzy did in the notorious Spain boggle. Seems the Fuzzball didn't understand anything about Spain's leader, Jose Luis Zapatero, so he blathered about how he is "very interested not only in normalizing relations with Spain but in obtaining good and productive relations with the goal of addressing many issues and challenges that we have to confront together." This was in the context of just having discussed Venezuela and Chavez and troubling South American relationships.

Well, call Lamplighter a dim bulb, but aren't relations with Spain rather normal? Are we at war with Spain? Is there a guerra fria going on here? Or maybe McFuzzy is still upset that Spain had the smarts to pull its troops out of Iraq, and is letting the world know that he holds a grudge. Maybe when Sarah Palin becomes president (presidame?), she will declare war on Spain, just like she wants to declare war on her nasty ol' neighbor, Russia. Feisty li'l gal, ain't she?

Speaking of Sarah Smile, here is her McFuzzy version of what to do when asked a question to which you don't know the answer: blab a key phrase or two from the prepared talking points that might or might not have anything to do with the question, and then add a smartass challenge. This is what Serrah (as she pronounces it) did when asked to cite "specific skills" she would bring to foreign affairs (well, she could serve Putin some moose stew.) After saying she is a "Washington outsider" (but man, can she play a mean game of earmarks), Serrah got up on her hind legs and added:

"You can even play 'stump the candidate' if you want to. But we are ready to serve."

Wow! Feisty li'l gal, ain't she?

Well, somebody really should play 'stump the candidate' with Serrah. Problem is, she won't sit still for it since Charlie "Softball" Gibson stumped her with the obscure, strange, never-before-heard-on-this-planet term, "Bush Doctrine." (Cough.) But to get back to strategy, this is not the first time that Serrah threw down the gauntlet. Not long ago, she just dared the filthy leftist commie press to show her any circumstance where she said that humans played no role in global warming.

And guess what: the press found a bunch of quotes and footage of Serrah saying that. . .humans played no role in global warming. Urp.

But here is why it doesn't matter---or that is, here is why the McFuzzy campaign believes it doesn't matter---and it is really the central strategy of Dishonest John and Screwy Serrah: The Big Lie. No, no, not just any old Big Lie! Not Big Lies the way they always crop up in campaigns. Those Big Lies tend to be merely distortions, stretches, out-of-context quotes, spins, twists, triple-axles, and Karl Rove. Dishonest John has succeeded in doing something that few in government thought possible: he has improved the Big Lie. He and Serrah actually make up facts that are completely, absolutely, 100 percent false, then repeat them like they are Biblical scripture. It would be hilarious if it weren't.

Their strategy is simple. You keep saying this crap, and when the press proves it to be untrue---as ABC, NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, and myriad websites have done---you accuse the media of "smearing" you. And you lump it in with all the blog gossip about Serrah Smile and her Addams Family. And of course, mutant beasts and demons who have learned to type write all sorts of things on the Internet about how the press lies, and how all the "rumors"  (read: confirmed reports) about her fundamentalist looney beliefs, corrupt behavior in office, authoritarianism, paranoia, viciousness, ignorance of fact and law, etc., are vicious smears.

And then you repeat the lies some more!

Now that's cynicism! Nothing McFuzzy about it. And while Your Illuminator has won awards for cynicism, he doubts very, very strongly whether this ruse, this con, this sinister and deceitful perversion of the good old crooked American election process, will be appreciated by the majority of the public. People don't like to be lied to.

Except McCain supporters, apparently.

There is an avalanche of superb reporting about the election on the web.
The thing is, all this dissemination of important information just seems to hit a wall like an egg, and slide slowly down.

Where is the impact?

As newspapers sink slowly in the west, the best part of the 4th estate's duty has been exiled to the web, which is constantly trivialized by "mainstream media," pundits, elected officials, as a haven for "blogcreeps."

"Blogcreeps" aside, you can still read the best reporting and commentary from all over the world, right on your computer screen.

Where is the impact?

Answer: most people don't read, let alone think. Only twenty percent of young people read newspapers, and 11 percent troll the web for news.

We are left with the cult of personality. American Political Idol. The judges: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc.

Palin is the new American Political Idol. She has, in point of fact, been declared a "star" by mainstream media. A star. She is also practically a cause celebre for the right, who lament how she is a target of character assassination by "Obama supporters" and "left wing bloggers." She is just about the sole focus of the entire election at this point, horrifyingly enough, and I think Frank Rich implied that it could stay that way, given the few weeks left before voting. What chance does a discussion of issues have against T&A/hockey mom and apple pie/unwed pregnant daughter/best tabloid fodder since O.J.?

Why don't the Democraps ever know how to handle this stuff? Does Obama imagine that his civilized and courtly parrying is going to work against this reactionary juggernaut of self-righteousness, resentment, hatred?

The 'Craps need to expose McCain's rash, impetuous judgement. They need to expose his vicious, crazy temper. They need to expose the lie of his "maverick reformer" image. They need the majority of the country to fear him and his sorry little running mate as much as LL does.

Pity, this, because all McCain and Palin's elephantine flaws are amply exposed already for any thinking/reading voter---on the web.

Obama and Biden need to start viciously propagandizing, just as the Republicans do, and never mind the consequences. And gee, maybe they're reading this column.


This just in to Lamplighter from lantern-lighter Simon Limon (that's see-MOAN lee-MOAN), who hails from part of "old Europe:"

"Regarding Obama's campaign, yes, it's time to go on the offensive and come out guns blazing. No more Mr Nice Guy. Otherwise Obama's going down, and with him America...But we're talking basic building blocks, here. How do you turn sheer stupidity against itself, is the question. They won't hear it from no "uppity nigger," that's fer sure. I swore off despair many years ago, but it's a tempting refuge in the circumstances. What's unfolding before our very eyes is well nigh "un-creedable." I can only concur with Rense's "Obama Must Demand that Palin Be Removed From The Ticket" analysis. It all seems like madness, but on the other hand perhaps it's just the universe working "whether or not we understand it." The Beijing Olympics will retrospectively herald China's forthcoming economic ascendancy just as the Tokyo Olympics was the trigger for Japan's extraordinary period of growth through the sixties and seventies. If there's anything left to sit on, that is. And sliced-white-bread Amerigun values will go the way of the dinosaur. Obama is the only chance to take things in a different direction, but events of the past few days clearly show there just aren't enough people in the US ready for that. Dumb All Over. It's a darn shame. I didn't mean to impugn the grandness of American values in their original sense. There is nothing grander, in fact, and the world ought to be grateful for the "improbable experiment in democracy" that has been conducted under their auspices for the last couple of hundred years. It's just such a crying shame that it apparently can't be made to go the final mile and paint the white picket fence in rainbow colors...Meantime, we're finally within striking reach of self-sufficiency from geothermal and solar energy, if only we'd pay sufficient attention (and cash, of course)...Some chance, eh, especially when you have expensive wars to fund...

now wants to secede from the United States of America.

That’s how the Republicans make me feel. The fat, white, rich, ugly, sarcastic, hate-spewing, snide, lying, self-centered, nasty Republicans. The dumb Democrats don’t make me feel a whole lot better, but the Republicans---take a look at any TV shot of the arrogant, smug, stupid RNC audience faces---really want me to fold up my intelligence, such as it is, and retire to. . .

Anywhere but here.

Anywhere but a nation as infantile as two mewling, puking babies fighting over a rattle. That’s a fine metaphor for the country at this point, but it’s little fault of the “left,” “liberals,” “Democrats.” It’s the Republicans, the right-wingers, the un-Christian “Christians,” the “My Country Right or Wrong” crowd that won’t ever share the rattle. And who taunt and sneer at the---they still use sillyass terms like "brie-eating"---left for even imagining that sharing is possible.

They howl endlessly about big government, then create the biggest government. They get up on their hindlegs and proselytize about "bipartisanship," while they sink the ship with vicious partisan tactics. The Republicans spout this tired propaganda endlessly, while all they really want is for government---what little is left that is not corrupted by corporate lobbyists---to keep them rich. (Even the not-so-rich Republicans espouse this pigheaded ideology, in a rather crippling irony. Hatred gets you membership in this club, not money.)

They have no heart, no charity, not compassion, no sense of togetherness, unity, accommodation, compromise. It’s not there. Doesn’t exist. You can see it in their faces. Really makes you wonder if it’s genetic. Makes you wonder if compassion and selflessness and cooperation are in the genes. Your Illumniatore suspects that this is the dark truth.

Oh, they love to take umbrage at this sort of sentiment. After all, they go to churchonsundee and act pious and sanctimonious, and give money to help starving children (or adopt Bangladesh babies)---which gives them permission to act churlishly and selfishly the rest of the week. To sin, in other words. And would Christ not consider cruelty, lying, lying to yourself, selfishness, cunning, hypocrisy, bellicosity, murder and maiming of innocents (no, not abortion--- Iraq) etc. to be sins?

Which bring us to Sarah Palin’s speech. It wasn’t a speech. Neither was Obama’s, or anyone else’s at these conventions. These are television performance stunts, personalities on display. American Political Idol. Palin, not lacking in self-confidence (cough), got up and read someone else’s words off of a teleprompter in a cool, smug fashion, with a hint of PTA mom. That’s her shtick, and it gets her elected.

The media---right and left---went nutso. You’d think they’d just heard the Gettysburg Address or Washington’s farewell. Even the sharp Keith Olbermann, who (thank you) noted that this overgrown high school girl pronounced “pundits” as “pundints,” called it a “great speech.”

Great speech?

It wasn’t great, and it wasn’t a speech. It was hate speech. The Republicans’ favorite. How is it that Obama is vilified for attacking McCain, when his criticisms were based in simple fact and real issues, yet Palin is hailed for ugly attacks on Obama that were flagrant distortions, exaggerations, and outright lies? Doubt it? Read this. Or this. Or this.

Sarah Palin is a nightmare. She is a backwards religious zealot who has ridden persona to power. Imagine questioning evolution and espousing so-called "creationism" in the 21st century. Imagine such a maniac becoming vice-president of the United States. She is an environmental killer, and enemy of progress against pollution, global warming---and an enemy of all animal protection. She is profoundly ignorant, but the profoundly ignorant love her. And there is no shortage of that crowd in this country.

It's time to leave.

So McCain's people have declared, "This nonsense is over." Well, that's the surest possible way to ensure that "this nonsense" persists. The press, even in its lily-livered condition, does not like to be told what to do. Commentators do not like to be told to shut up. If McNasty (his nickname in high school) wanted the nonsense to be over, he could start by cancelling the Repugnican convention. . .

The "nonsense" that McCain's surrogates variously branded "sexism" and smarm being purveyed by the "liberal media" and, as Ellen Goodman (of all people) put it, "blogcreeps," is nonsense only if you don't give a damn about the country and government (an entirely understandable attitude.) For here a wild-tempered old man of demonstrable flakiness and self-contradiction has cynically added a wildly inexperienced extremist tyrant to his ticket---simply because she's a woman. That's it.

This is not a case of "flawed judgement." It is tactic-motivated decision-making that disregards the very safety and welfare of the nation. It's bad enough to think of volatile McNasty anywhere near a nuclear trigger. But a 44-year-old Evangelical creationist with zero---zero---experience in foreign affairs?

We'll meet again. . .

McCain is the one who is guilty of sexism. He chose Sarah Palin for her gender, and nothing else, pandering to what he imagines to be disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters and dumb reactionary Republican women. He did not thoroughly investigate Palin, which is a huge scandal in itself (on which the election could and should turn), having had one conversation with the Alaska Governess before choosing her (under pressure from his staff---oh, but he's a maverick, isn't he!)

And now the country---which is in rather enough of a mess, isn't it?---is saddled with a mess so lousy, so embarrassing, so. . .trailer park. . .that it is once again the laughing stock of the world.

Well done, senator.

And now McNasty is living up to his name anew, branding the press investigation of Palin a "media scandal designed to destroy the first female Republican nominee."

The scandals were not invented by media, senator, and if this first female Republican nominee is "destroyed," it will be because of who and what she is, not anything invented about her.

Waahhhhh! Every day is Labor Day in the USA, thanks to Sarah Palin and her Depends-dependant family. First there was the Daily Kos/net rumor that Palin faked her recent pregnancy, and that the child actually sprung from the womb of daughter Bristol. Then it turns out that Bristol is five months along all by her little17-year-old self, courtesy of an 18-year-old local scholar named Levi Johnston (who likes to "shoot some shit and do some fuckin' chillin', I guess," as his website put it.) Boy, must that kid be freaked out. Last week, he was fuckin' chillin, this week he's a groom-to-be, fuckin' chillin' with the Repugnican nominee on national TeeVee. Whoah, dude! Shoulda kept it in your pants!

But Your Illuminator thinks this issue (so to speak) still needs light. The Daily Kos backed off its story of Sarah's fake pregnancy after one (1) photo surfaced of Palin with a tummy bulge. We think retracting the story was premature (so to speak.) No doctors have come forward to confirm Sarah Palin's pregnancy, and that she is the mother of Trick, or Trak, or Trig (short for Trigger?), the little boy born with Down Syndrome. The photos are legion of Sarah never gaining weight in her face or neck, let alone elsewhere, right up to the end of her pregnancy. There is the tale of her ignoring the fact that her "water" allegedly broke in order to fly all over the country, giving speeches. Que paso, amiga? Did Bristol give birth to Tram, or Truck, after all? After all, Bris was reportedly out of school for eight months. And then did she turn around and do some quick fuckin' chillin' with Levi, without her Levis?

(How's that for smarmy blogging, Sen. McCain?)

Either way, had the Daily Kos not floated the rumors about Sarah Palin's pregnancy, it is very likely, if not certain, that the news of her daughter's pregnancy would not have come out. The Kos and other "blogcreeps" were on to something, after all. They were doing the job that much of the mainstream press has forgotten to do: dig. No, you don't go to press with sheer rumor in the New York Times or Washington Post, but you sure as hell try to Trak the rumor down. And if you're a website, blog away.

Of course, the Repugs are crowing that "kids are off-limits" as campaign issues, and glibly dismissing the family's hillbilly behavior with "life happens." Well, ejaculation and lack of birth control happen, anyhow, especially to daughters whose mommies: cut off funding for teenaged mothers, support "abstinence" education over biological sex education, and who rather enjoy procreation themselves.

Is it news that Sarah's underage daughter is preggers? Um. . .Sarah Palin is an evangelical, anti-abortionist, anti-birth control, "pro-life" (as if anyone isn't) avatar who has cut funds---cut funds---to find homes for teen mothers. Is it news? Do teenagers fornicate?

The Palin pratfalls are piling up like used diapers. This "tough cookie" and (as Rush Limbaugh calls her) "babe" is dropping scandals the way she drops kids. It is glorious to see the Repugnicans get up on their hind legs and roar at the "liberal press" and blogcreeps. The more they snarl and flash their incisors, the more you know this is one serious mess for them. To date, Palin's follies:

*Pressuring and firing officials in her administration for not firing an ex-brother-in-law state trooper (just a cop, folks!) She remains under official ethics investigation.

*Hiring a private attorney and authorizing him to spend $95,000 of state money to defend her against accusations of abuse of power.

*As Mayor of tiny Wasilla, she tried to get the local library to ban books---and threatened to fire a librarian if she did not cooperate. Holy 451, Batman!

*Flew to D.C. and um, "lobbied" for $27 million for Wasilla, which had a population of about 8,000 (not including moose.) It now develops that she also sought help from indicted Alaska Sen. Ted Steven, while generally making it her mission to get pork-barrel projects for her city and state (portraying herself as a "reformist.")

*Used her line-item veto to slash funding for teen mothers who needed a place to live. Let them eat cake.

*Exaggerated the number of trips she's made overseas (a handfull) by adding in stopovers for refueling.

*Has (or had up until recently) a wacky pastor who called for hellfire and brimstone to rain down upon the "slipping and sliding" USA, and seems to really like "Jews for Jesus."

*Loves to hunt, shoot, and kill wild animals. (Yes, some people are fine with this, but some people also enjoy "American Idol." ) Especially supports the slaughter of wolves and bears from the air---and opposes protection for polar bears.

*Thought the "founding fathers" added "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

*Is oil-crazy, wanting to drill the gunk out of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge---which even McCain opposes.

*Much much more which Lamplighter is just too burned out to list---and plenty more revelations to come. Bank on it. The blogcreeps---formerly known as the free press---are busy.

So Sarah Palin's favorite dish is moose stew. That about sheds all the light you need here. She loves to gnaw on the burned flesh of magnificent animals. That's pretty much it. Gnaw gnaw, grrrr grrrr, digest digest. Mm-mmm-Moose! How femine. How. . .nurturing. Well, okay, lots of people eat magnificent animals. We're omnivores, and we were brought up to think this is necessary and okay. What is really bestial about this woman is that she thinks global warming is fiction. That's right, she is "not convinced." The "jury is still out," says Sarah, sounding more like Michael Palin for all the Monty Pythonness of the statement. Hey, Sarah, baby, there's a goddamn Northwest Passage now! The ice melted!

But Sarah is also a killer, and there is no one as intractable as a killer. This woman believes in the aerial slaughter of bears and wolves (just to thin 'em out), and fought against---fought against---protection for the endangered polar bears. Which are ever more endangered as the ice continues to melt. Why, Sarah Barracuda (her high school basketball nickname, for her grrr grrrrr aggrrrrresssive play)  probably chuckles at those polar bears that have swum hundreds of miles, found solid ground at Greenland, where they emerged only to be shot to death by local "authorities." God save us from authorities---er, authoritarians---like Sarah. For it's not just the bears that are in danger here. If this maniac mom (five kids, and counting!) and former bee-yooty queen ever becomes the first woman president, we might as well all bend over and kiss our bare asses goodbye. For not only does she not believe in trying to protect the ecosystem (if that's even  possible), but glam-glam Sarah is also an Evangelical "Christian." This, of course, is a disease that causes humans to believe passionately in fairy tales about the end of the world, and how they will be whisked up to heaven, right outta their panties, while the rest of us bear-loving, tree-hugging heathens break out in bloody pustules and writhe around until dead. Or worse.

Who says John McCain isn't nuts? (He announced her candidacy at some place called Nutter Auditorium, thank the caprices of fate.) And if just being bonkers from Vietnam torture wasn't enough, this is the decision of someone with signs of early dementia.

If Obama's choosing of Joe "The Gas" Biden as veep was opportunistic, then McCain's annointing of this woman with the teenciest governing experience (in Alaska!) is bush-league, cockeyed cynical. Make that Bush League cynical. Choosing Dick Cheney (you know that was in the bag from the get-go) was a crafty deception, but McCain has done a David Copperfield by contrast. He grabbed this 44-year-old still juicy procreative item ONLY because he thought he could snag some of the post-Hillary post-menopausals. Thought he could cash in on the fury of these hellish scorned women. Palin is the Bizarro Hillary! Will it work? Well, if voters are so dumb that they would vote for McCain simply because he's added an arch-conservative fundamentalist lunatic reactionary who is under investigation for some weird ethics violation involving bringing pressure to fire her ex-brother-in-law Alaska state trooper (pant pant), then the country deserves her. They can't be that dumb, though, can they?

Dumb? Heh. Your Illuminator just heard a full grown male adult on the radio say something very close to this: "I listened to Obama's speech. You know, I had planned to vote for him. And I liked the speech for a while. But then I heard him saying 'John McCain' over and over. And he said it with such bitterness! Meanness! He was so. . .angry. . .when he said it. It really, really bothered me, and I don't think I can vote for him now."

Really. This really happened. Can you imagine? Obama came out in that speech with some very gently worded shots at McCain. Um. . .ISN'T THAT WHAT A CANDIDATE IS SUPPOSED TO DO? Criticize the opponent's policies? Ah, but LL has forgotten. As Rense constantly chides Your Illuminator, "Listen, pal, if you could right now grasp exactly how stupid the majority of people out there really are, you would simply blow your brains out. Either that, or get a shotgun and retire to a cabin in the recesses of Alaska until Sarah Palin smokes your commie ass out."

Okay, but maybe give her a little credit for cleaning up a spot of oil lobbyist corruption in Alaska. But one would think that any Alaskan would be among the most dedicated of environmentalists, not someone hell-bent on draining the place of oil and gas at the expense of. . .mmm mmmm moose. And destroying the richest salmon run in the world to make way for the world's biggest. . .mine.

Well. She doesn't eat fish, anyway. 

Lantern-Lighter RSG, a longtime and stalwart friend and reader, checks in with this pithy summation:

"For a long time now, these Republicans have thought that the American people are really stupid, that they would fall for desperate stunts like this. Look at the calibre of the women and minorities that they appoint to high office – Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza, Alberto Gonzales, Harriet Miers, and now this perky ex-beauty queen with the BP employee husband – and then they give themselves credit for honoring "diversity."

"The trouble is – and you have been saying this for years – they're right. From the pivotal year of 1968 onward, the first time the Southern Strategy was employed, 28 of the last 40 years have been under Republican rule – and add 6 years during the Clinton Administration when the GOP controlled Congress. The unbelievable decline in the education system in this country is turning out batches of uninformed, faux-cynical consumers who fall for every carefully-calculated, dumbed-down pitch that corporate America and their servants in the Republican party can conceive.

"We won't know what will happen until Nov. 4 because these polls are by definition incomplete – no accurate counting of the hidden racist vote, no counting those who have cellphones (the young who are overwhelmingly pro-Obama), no foretelling what mischief the GOP-controlled electronic voting machines will pull. But I have no faith in the intelligence of the average voter anymore.

"There's a great prescient article in, of all places, Time magazine – written before the Palin pick -- that explains why McCain would do such a reckless thing, and it also has striking insights into how Obama operates. It examines their gaming habits -- Obama's game is poker, McCain's is craps.",8599,1819898,00.html

The problem with the New Yorker Obama cover is. . .well, there are many problems. Perhaps if it had appeared on the cover of Ramparts back in the '60's, there would have been no controversy. That audience would have grasped the satire without a problem. But when it appears on a magazine that is on newsracks across this grate nashum, and is subsequently picked up and broadcast (or is it broadcasted?) on Fox News (and also Fox News, not to mention Fox News and Fox News), problems not only arise, they detonate.

Satire, to work well, really ought to be clever. That's c-l-e-v-e-r. This is a highly sophisticated concept, apparently, as it has long been lost on many a so-called satirist in recent years. Yes, it's true that most of actual news and event plays like satire, and that is part of the problem. But as John Stewart and Harry Shearer know, this problem is surmountable with a degree of clever. Clever puts wit and laugh into the mix, you see. The New Yorker, of all things erudite and witty, lacked clever.

The Cover has all the finesse and delicacy of the ham-handed, banal "comedy" of most “Saturday Night Live" skits. Anyone viewing it without knowing it was intended to be ironic commentary---and these people walk among us---would lean toward concluding the opposite: that it trumpets an expose inside revealing that Obama and his wife are “Islamic extremist” terrorists. Really. A country that loves "The Bachelor" is capable of anything.

In other words. . .

The percentage of citizens capable of appreciating the cover as satire is small and shrinking. The imagery will be used iconographically by hysterical anti-Obama types (read: racists, xenophobes, war-mongers), most of whom have websites or anchor chairs on Fox and CNN. Then there is the subliminal influence factor---yes, given the horse-brayingly obvious media, it's hard to believe that subliminal influence persists---in which persons predisposed to believing all the insane rumor about Obama will have their feelings reinforced by The Cover.

The funny-ha-ha factor was missing. The Cover does not necessarily come across as unambiguous satire, at least at a glance. With a topic this (ridiculously) delicate, you’d better be way, way over the top with it, and funny-ha-ha.

"It's true, the truth will set you free/ but it also builds your cage," the poet wrote, and in that spirit, Lamplighter brings you this brilliant summation, courtesy of Rip Post Resident Poet Jack Oakes:

For Middle Americans, we are all living in New Orleans before Katrina. Comes a big storm, we'll be ruined, in terms of finance and physical and mental health.

Meanwhile, and as society slowly deteriorates, negative and even dangerous, encounters are on the upswing. And the background noise of a society with no decency at its core, grind us down in innumerable ways on a daily basis.

For lower-class Americans, they have scant hope.

For the rich, they feast on our souls.


Rondo, Rupert
Here it is---indisputable evidence that Media Tyrant and all-around world class fiend Rupert Murdoch is related to the late, great actor, Rondo Hatton. Of course, Rondo's ugliness was confined to the exterior, due to illness, whereas Rupert manifests natural grotesqueness inside and out!


Let's talk about Barry Obama. He sounds good. He looks good. He says the right things about everything that is so horrifically screwed up in this country. He espouses empathy, he inspires optimism. Hillary Clinton seems pathologically unable to say anything compelling, unless your idea of fun is reading government reports. On paper, Barry's general philosophy dovetails neatly with Lamplighter's.

But. . .It's all happy talk. How will the O-man deal with, for example, the corporate tyranny that is bleeding the country dry? Well, he says he will sit around a big table with heads of industry and talk to them. Yeah. Good luck with that, Barry. Then there is his health care plan, which covers kids nicely. Yet Clinton's plan would cover kids---and their moms and dads. That's a rather major distinction, yet the blissed out Obama crowd doesn't care. "He inspired me!" they will tell you, their chins wet with drool.

And everyone (especially Hillary) seems to have forgotten that Barry announced a few months back that he would just blunderbuss his way right into Pakistan to chase any no-good terrorist meanie---whether Pakistan likes it or not. Umm. . .Barry baby! Pakistan has about 50 nukes, and missiles with a range of a thousand miles or so. Pakistan is just thisclose to being in the hands of U.S.-hating Islamicist maniacs, who comprise the majority of the population. It was widely and credibly reported that the Bush Administration allowed Bin Laden to escape across the Pakistan border rather than run the risk of destabilizing the country, and thus putting nukes into the hands of the Taliban. A rare sane move from George and Dick and Rummy and Condi. But Barry said he would just roar in there like Indiana Jones, and let the nukes fall where they may. We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when. . .Sing with me now. . .

Then we have judgment, or lack of same. In any political race, it might seem infantile to focus on matters of ethics, given the sordid, corrupt creeps who generally hold office in this country, but. . .Barry did buy that mansion in Chicago with massive help from Antoin "Tony" Rezko (heh), knowing full well that Rezko was under heavy investigation by the federal government (and since indicted.) Fact. This is just bad judgment---very bad judgment---and Obama's public admission that it was a "mistake" is cold comfort. It would appear that wifey-poo was putting the squeeze on Barry for a new nest, and the O-man caved. Reckless, weak, greedy, any way you cut it. You want a guy with this sort of decision-making history in the White House?

And speaking of reckless, there is the not insignificant matter of plagiarism. Sure, it's being brushed off by "pundits" everywhere, and Obama showed more unfortunate smartass tendencies by quipping that Clinton has borrowed some of his words lately. (She lamely appropriated his lame declaration, "I'm fired up!) But facts are facts. Obama used, just about verbatim, a section of a speech by his friend, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. He did not credit Patrick (later saying that he "should have." Yup.) What's wrong here? Well, for starters, can't he write his own stuff? Or have his speechwriters write his own stuff? Why was there any need to borrow material from another source at all? And then pass it off as his own? Which is just what he did. This is unethical, thoughtless, deceptive, and. . .reckless. Serious business, folks.

Then we have the racial aspect of this thing. Obama is unanimously cast as a "black" and "African-American" candidate, and African-Americans are voting for him in record numbers, obviously because he is black. Except. . .he isn't. He is half-black. He is as white as he is black. Why not call him "white?" It's just as accurate. Half-Asian kids I know do not call themselves Asian-American. Half-Latino kids I know don't call themselves latino. Except, probably when it is advantageous on a school or job application. What we really have here, with the O-man, is "other." He is Other-American. What irks here is how Barry's persona shifts into "black" mode when he speaks before black crowds. Watch. You'll see. He exploits it. And remember his (smartass) remark about Bill Clinton needing to dance in order to definitively determine if "he is a brother." That's at least crass, and at most racist. Imagine if this was said of a black man by a white man. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be out for blood.

Lamplighter thinks Obama would cast a great deal more light by playing down the whole race angle. After all, O-man's major motif is to unite the country, generate empathy, and quell all the racial/political/social antipathy. Yet he freely works the (half) black aspect. Well, doesn't he have a right to do this, seeing as it is part of his heritage? Perhaps. But there is far too much in the way of defining oneself according to one's ethnicity and race (and religion) in this country, and Obama could be making a strong statement against that, implicitly or otherwise. LL, frankly, has had quite enough of African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans, white Americans, Gay Americans, etc., and thinks the country would do much better to get back to just using the term, "Americans."

And we cannot ignore the O-woman. That's Oprah. The Antarctic-sized ego of this intellectually lightweight megalomaniac billionairess is now about the size of the planet, since her annointment of Barry. She can't believe it. She is actually a kingmaker, or at least a would-be one. Little Oprah from the backwoods is hepin' to pick a prez-dent, girlfriend! LL admits no objectivity here, finding Oprah to be a fabulously narcissistic, morally repugnant creature masquerading as something quite the opposite. And buffaloing dunderhead Housewife-Americans into buying it. Oprah sez: buy this book! They buy. Oprah sez: vote for Barry "because he's brrrrrrillllliant!" (as she likes to scream.) They vote. (Uh, Nixon was brilliant, too.) I understand the power of endorsements, and the O-man is not to be faulted for playing Oprah's lapdog for a while, at various private fundraiser parties attended by the Rich and Famous, but the idea of this venal celeb queen having access to---and influence with---the President of the United States, well, it's deeply revolting. Time for O-man to divorce O-woman.

Finally, there is something unsettling about Barry's public persona. The way he works a crowd. It's just too damn slick for LL's taste. Someone shouts "I love you," and he winks, "Love ya back!" (Pee Uke!) His ad nauseum refrain of "I'm having a conversation with the American people" just sounds so grandiloquent. Where's the humility? Where's the playing down of "me" in all this? Eh, Barry? Where? (Hint: don't ask your wife, who says a vote for you is a vote to change the world.)

In the end, Your Illuminator hates to say this, but the O-man has a number of troubling things about him: reckless decision-making, reckless pronouncements, shaky ethics, opportunistic posing, pretty but insubstantial rhetoric. And you know, it's true he voted against giving Bush the power to invade Iraq---and then voted repeatedly to fund the most disastrous adventure in vainglory and hegemony in American history. Where was the principle in that? Did he not want the appearance of "not supporting the troops?" LL doesn't know. It's troubling. (Though admittedly, not nearly as troubling as Hillary voting to give Bush the power to "shock and awe.")

We are left with the hope that, in the likely event that Obama is swept into the White House on a tide of "inspiration," he has to rise to the occasion and try to make good on all the pretty speeches.

Well, those words seem to be the best way to get the attention of most fine American citizens these days, so who is Lamplighter to ignore a good angle? Besides, what follows is much cooler stuff than most of the cool stuff that people watch/buy/eat/wear/drive. Here's the dope: Your Illuminator received an e-mail from someone who burns far more brightly even than himself. A fine fellow currently attempting to improve the consumer-diseased minds of young Americans attending college. He will be known here as Anonymous, in order that he might keep his job.

Following is an exchange between His Brightness and Anonymous, the coolest stuff you will encounter today. Why, it even has that cool e-mail lack of capital letters!

Anon.: hey. i've been meaning to write, what's been stopping me is that i didn't have a whole lot to say. but since that doesn't stop most people, i decided to join the club. after reading the latest Riposte ("notes from the terrace") latest article, it struck me that you thought the real culprit was the media / culture that's landed us in a rather alienating and frightening place where raw reality is obfuscated by a distorting mediation -- either a camera lens or a veil of passive vocabulary -- that ends up making things look far, far away.

LL: Yes! Splendidly stated.

Anon: i agree and i wanted to add that i suspect, for the newest of our community members, the least real will become the most real: the virtual community will become the real community. absent inhibition and immediate social pressures, online communities will become forums for the truest mode of self-presentation...

LL: Brilliant. “Absent inhibition and immediate social pressures.” That’s it, isn’t it. . .That’s the crux. The Internet renders these things moot at best. Gives people full license to ignore them, and then, as you note, the “newest community members” have no inkling that these important and hard-won bulwarks of simple civilized behavior ever existed. “What are you, feral?” as Letterman asked the girl who grunted in response to his, “Good morning.” Everything is artificial: the “world” as presented by (created by) the media, and the “community” as facilitated by the Internet.

Anon: and as such they will become associated with "who we really are". our children will hide themselves behind "fine" and "whatever" only to open themselves up to a near-anonymous community of strangers, where they will feel comfortable to reveal their deepest emotions and thoughts.

LL: “Dear Diary” to Internet strangers, but purest suspicion to most human beings encountered during the course of a day. The “who we really are” term is key, also, isn’t it. I cannot, for instance, look at television news anymore, as it is a completely faked and posed reality that has nothing to do with. . .real events. Except as it renders them entertaining, and packages them for convenient consumption. But for most people in this country, anyhow, TV and Internet-produced reality is “who we really are.” Not me, not me.

Anon: "go to your room" used to be a sanction where we were punished by being isolated from others, soon the dinner table will become the space of ostracism.

LL: Ha! Probably already is---in the homes where there are still dinners and tables.

Anon: ironically, the vt shooter foreshadowed this crime as well, which i think will ultimately be as harmful to our communities as a whole: he retreated from human forms of interaction to express his true self in videos and online chats.

LL:  Sure, that was Cho’s entire reward---telling the entire world, “f--- you” on the evening news and the Internet---ad infinitum. He bought a piece of eternity, via web infamy. He’s an icon now. Yet the gnarled, psychologically disfigured little boy had a point in deriding the decadence and excess of the rich and privileged. This country and its children are seriously debauched, spectacularly oblivious to and unappreciative of their wealth and freedom. Same Ugly American that all the “Islamic fundamentalists” want to slaughter. Oh, well, what a country. We are smothering in ignorance, hatred, paranoia, violence. Forgive me if I already sent this to you, but this actually represents the average person in the remains of our country today: 

Anon: did you find it moronic for imus to get fired for a racial/gender slur, when nbc decided to air the vt shooter video only a few days later; a video which included a call to arms by the shooter? if you watch it, you'll see that he's telling the similarly weak and ostracized to follow his example. baffling.

LL: I did not watch, and I’m not surprised about the “call to arms” for similarly deranged types. TV “news” is all so insane and irresponsible now. Content and its context are largely determined by monetary considerations. And there are “news people” who think they are making brave decisions built on great journalistic integrity by showing Cho---because “he’s news.” Well, there are times to get beyond this sort of Journalism 101 thinking. There are times to make decisions based on concern for the community, social responsibility---but then, TV creates the community nowadays, as you suggest. Imus was a jackass, but not because he said “nappy headed ho’s,” of course. He was always a jackass. For him to have become famous in the first place was moronic. Stern said the same kind of stuff constantly, every rapper uses this hideous lingo as a matter of course. It’s political correctness and racism---open season on “whitey” and “gringo” (thank you, Hugo Chavez) for the media-annointed black gods, Jackson and Sharpton. And yes, your point is well taken: NBC airs Cho saying things that are light-years more vile and destructive than anything ever to emerge from the mouth of Don Imus. . .Race has gone insane as an issue. No one can talk sanely about it, at least publically, without inviting catastrophe. Most of the kids growing up in the last 30 years seem to believe that this is the most repressive and racist society in human history, when in fact it is probably the most free and egalitarian society---at least on paper---that ever existed. The poorest and most ignorant and hateful, racist blacks in the society are exalted as its leading pop stars. Ah, well. . .

Lamplighter here again. Hope you enjoyed the cool stuff above. By the way, Anonymous signed off with "i hope all is well." LL's response to this phrase is:

Well, all is hope.

The Fat Lady is still singing. The Fat Lady in the pastel pant suits, that is. Hillary and her donut-fortified girth are not getting out of this presidential race. Your Illuminator, understand, is fairly covered with hives and frequently doubled over with regurgitative potential, watching The Fat Lady's antics of recent weeks. You know, as the Punditmannequins say, how she is "appealing to white male voters," etc. Well, she ain't very appealing to Lamplighter! Why, I wouldn't vote for her with your marker. The only---only---conceivably positive thing that can be said about her at this point is that. . .it takes a beeyatch. Translation: it takes a nasty, tenacious, rotten sonofoa---wait a second, can't use that term here---"cookie" to run the country, and play hardball with all the hardasses running other countries, and the lardasses running Congress. Frankly, LL wonders if the O-man is up to that task, though his mantra of anti-old rhetoric is most appealing. He is smart, he is intelligent, he is trying to comport himself with reason and optimism. LL has never seen this work successfully in politics, but there is always a first time.

As to the great Punditocracy that has declared Hillary's candidacy over, well, to quote Monty Python, "I fart in your general direction." Let's examine this dispassionately. The candidates were up until recently in a virtual tie, in terms of popular vote, delegate vote. Hillary was just a slightly behind, and if Florida and Michigan had held their primaries on their primarily scheduled date, it is possible that the former First Lady would be in first place. Despite her inept, shape-shifting, say-anything-to-get-a-vote, racist campaign. Would all the columnists, commentators, and curmudgeons calling for her to capitulate be doing the same thing to Obama? Not as vociferously, that's for sure. Got to be more polite to the semi-black candidate, you see.

To get to the point, what is a convention for? Is it not to nominate a candidate? LL is deeply sickened by this "process" whereby candidates are named by universal acclaim of people in the media and politics. Who are they to tell us who has been elected before the damn vote has even been taken? If LL were Billary, he would do exactly as she is doing. Stay until they kick you out. There are primaries left for her to take, and the necessity of resolving the Michigan and Florida mess, and votes to be cast by delegates and superdelegates. This thing ain't over, and we're glad The Fat Lady is still singing, but only because it makes for a great raised third finger to the media and pols who have declared her candidacy as dead as Mark Twain wasn't.


Double-u O double-u. I mean. . .Zounds! Hillary Clinton, thy name is Cheney. Hillary "Dick" Clinton. This is just astounding. To quote the great philosopher, Chubby Checker, "how lowwww can you gooooo?" No, I don't mean how Hillary shamelessly engaged in the sleaziest, dirtiest, Nixonian kind of grunge in the recent "debate" by attempting to link Barack "Earnest" Obama with the (gasp) Weather Underground. (Were there any cameras in Whittier to catch the corpse of Nixon clawing through the ground to applaud?) I mean this:

Hillary has attacked the "activist base" of the Democratic party, as she put it. That's correct---she blamed those fiendish anti-war lefty commies for shooting down her candidacy, which is plummeting to earth like one of those poor ducks that Cheney plugs full of buckshot once in a while. Memo to Queen Clinton: you'd be the nominee if you had the support of the anti-war "left," you donut-bloated buffoon! 

Lamplighter has gone completely dark over this. Herrrre's Hillary:

" endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] -- which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said to a meeting of donors (see Huffington Post.) "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me."

Imagine those naughty anti-war people having the sheer disrespect to raise money and not give it to Hillary Clinton! Gosh! Of course, Queen Clinton got her facts wrong (again---seems she likes doing this, you know, the way Bush does.) never opposed going into Afghanistan! If ever there was evidence that this vainglorious megalomaniacal nut is really Bush Lite, this is it. To villify a grassroots organization from her own party that mobilized millions to oppose the fall-down insane "war" in Iraq is, well, words fail. Rather like Hillary.

In the end, it all sort of shakes out this way. There is Billary, who never says anything of substance and laughs like a jackal. Clear statements of policy are ice bergs, she is the Titanic. She plays Wack-A-Mole with every chance that comes along to actually say something substantial. They pop up all over the place, she wacks ‘em. She is a focus groupie.

Billary does not intend to end the Iraq fiasco, by the way. If we lucked out, we’d be looking at an insane four-year Nixonian “reduction in troop levels” that would probably find us at 2/3  the current troop levels. On foreign policy, Hillary is Bush Lite, and she makes Your Illuminator want a Bud Lite. (Come to think of it, she doesn’t speak a hell of a lot better than Prezboy, either.) She has never once said that she objects to a permanent U.S. occupation, folks. Her rhetoric is carefully couched for all the couch potatoes. She is also a "staunch friend of Israel," which would be fine if it referred to the Israeli people and not the self-defeating policies of the Israeli government (which has a real good time spying on its "staunch friend," the USA, let us remember.)

Then there is this rather looming question, a question that comes into the door uninvited when you're not looking, steals your food, gets drunk, and passes out on your couch, emitting gas: does anybody really want the Clintons back in the White House? I mean, Repugnicans want them the way bull terriers want mailman legs. And that sure can’t be good for uh, “bipartisanship.” Do you want to spend four more years reading more Repugnican claims about the villainous, traitorous Clintons? Not me!

You know, to hell with policy wonkmanship. Hell with Hillary’s vaunted “3 a.m. phone call” capability. Why does everyone think a nuclear attack will come at 3 a.m., anyhow? What’s wrong with 9 a.m.? Or even early afternoon? Hell with “experience," Lamplighter could throw a White House dinner, too, and eavesdrop on cabinet meetings. The only experience she should be touting is her Senate service.

Oh, you’re one of those terrified of terrorist boogiemen? You want Da-Da to protect you? I’ll repeat the basic Rip Post line here: modern terrorism has existed for decades; the Bush Administration did absolutely nothing to secure the country despite dire warnings from intelligence agencies and the Clinton Administration of an impending terrorist attack (draw your own conclusions); the Bush Administration has done nothing to increase security other than to make it difficult for WWII veterans to take their Purple Hearts on to airplanes (weapons, you see); terrorism is as inevitable as the weather; Iraq has exponentially increased---not decreased---the number of would-be terrorists who hate the United States.

Oh, you’re one of those who thinks we should stay in Iraq? I’ll repeat The Rip Post line here: our stupid purpose was to find WMD and depose Saddam, and seeing as there were no WMD and we deposed (and hanged) Saddam. . .mission accomplished! Oh, but what about all the military bases we’ve built there, and our multi-billion dollar fortress “embassy?” Well, you see, that is evidence of what any thinking/reading person knew before the attack: that this was a permanent occupation on behalf of oil, Israel, and USA hegemony, and all the reasons given were lies. If you want a permanent occupation, vote for McCain and continue to destroy the U.S. economy, morale and reputation---and up the risk of world war.

Obama says---says---that he wants to take Iraq dough and pump it into the starving schools in this country---in the black, white, latino, etc. “communities.” Good idea! Funny how that’s considered idealism. He wants to end the occupation. Good idea! But wouldn’t Iraq collapse? Well, let it collapse! It was never a country except through totalitarianism. Ever been to Iraq? Is it one of the United States? What do you care about Iraq? Oh, won’t "Al-Qaeda" then use it as a “base of operations?” If only things were that John Wayne simple. Iraqis don’t want "Al-Qaeda," whatever "Al-Qaeda" is (anyone can call himself a member) any more than Bush does. The assaults against U.S. troops have come from “insurgents” (read: Saddam loyalists, and representatives of the 70 percent---seventy percent---of Iraqis who want Yankee to go home.)

Is Obama a foreign policy naïf? Yupsy-wupsy. He gave an incredibly blunderbuss answer to the Tim Russert question about Al-Qaeda taking over if the U.S. departs---something about “taking appropriate action.” In over his head? Drowned in a bog like a dog on a log. No president will be able to easily pull the plug on Iraq, anyhow. Think Congress would go along with everything Obama wants? Sure, and elected officials will also stop frolicking with hookers.

Some choices!

In light of (pun intended) all the darkness in the news all the time---Your Illuminator had a dream that he read a headline "Air of Doom All Over Earth"---we hereby propose a few new rules of conduct in our licentious---er, free---society. This came about after reading an article about the horrors of being solicited 5000-plus times each day by phone/TV/radio/computer. It's all part of the psychological squeeze that is accelerating around the globe. Too many rats in a closed-end maze, where the only escape is death (see the Virginia Tech shootings). Wretched excess. The mass stampede into nonsensical religious drek is another result of complusive helplessness, overload, assault on the senses that is Western culture today. And so. . .

Barriers in respect of peoples’ need for psychological protection should be erected. Only a grouped five minutes of commercials an hour, with each commercial at least 30 seconds in length, for both television and radio is an important start. Immediate banning from the airwaves for the telling of any untruth. A ban on student borrowing (with outright grants to replace needed funds) so we stop graduating kids already drowning in debt. A statement of principles to govern the recording industry: no profanity, no rudeness, no debasement of any group or person, no encouragement or glorification of violence. A review panel to govern the credit industry – if the extension of credit was inappropriate under the circumstances, all resulting debt is cancelled. A price cap on automobiles – none to exceed $30,000. A price cap on homes – no home of any sort may be sold for more than $3,000,000. Channel the expression of wealth into just three avenues – jewelry, clothing and weaponry. Require all persons in the bottom ten economic percent of American households to carry firearms at all times. Require all persons in the top three percent to wear signs so stating. Require all persons to wear a sign identifying the last book he/she read and the number of books read in the preceding calendar year. Require all persons regardless of age to pass a basic tap dancing exam within two years of ordinance enactment. Take the foot off the gas pedal, folks.


Lantern-Lighter Mycroft checks in with this comment about the late Kurt Vonnegut:

"Easily the American writer who best understood and most dearly grieved over the shortcomings of humanity. His perceptual brilliance and preternatural sense of the ironic made his prose a constant revelation – from screamingly hilarious to as depressing as any words ever written. He was the conscience of all humans and like any conscience he was dismissed and resented when the instructions were uncomfortable or unpleasant. One day, after cataclysmic events have laid the world low (even lower than today), he will be grudgingly, ruefully acknowledged as the one person we all should have been paying attention to. That he should be awarded the Nobel and every other prize that honors writers and thinkers is so apparent as to be trivial. He made man simple. But this expressed truth, like most truths, was for most too uncomfortable to bear."

"Choose softer paths in all things. Hard times are always ready to pounce and seize us by the throat. Be gone demons, afflict us not, we have gentler matters to attend to. In that, we will find strength to answer the call." ---Jack Oakes.


Lamplighter's luminary pal, Dave Lindorff, posed a most radiant question for our dark times in a recent column: "Why Hasn't Bush Been Impeached Yet?" We suspect it has something to do with flouride, or UFO's, or Britney Spears, but our occasional correspondent Mycroft has more articulated ideas. Here is his response to Mr. Lindorff:

"When reading your column I was reminded of poor dopey Ralph Nader’s stated position for not withdrawing from the presidential race and throwing his support to Al Gore in the election before last. He said, I believe, in essence that the American public should realize that it does not matter whether the Democrats or Republicans are in the White House – the interests and behaviors they serve and evidence are the same (the interests he believed he was campaigning against by championing the ordinary schmoo).

"I believe this is the reason that an impeachment effort hasn’t been launched. Both parties and virtually all candidates share core value structures – please big money and the wad (Norman Mailer’s term), and big money and the wad loves a war. The Democrats have never been against the war on principal (the only valid reason in my estimation) – anyone with the slightest moral sense knew from the beginning that this was nothing more than outright systematic murder and conquest.

"The Democrats liked the idea of America controlling the world’s oil reserves as much as any hoary Texas Republican, and gave the institutional thumbs’ up to imperial conquest. The fact is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats (nor the vast majority of the American public) believes that there is anything wrong with using America’s military might to conquer other nations and take their resources, or to impose our nation’s will upon them. Why else have an army?

"This is another engagement of the age-old duel between principal (i.e. the rule of law and reason) and might (I CAN impose my will so I WILL impose my will). Guess which side is winning? Guess which side always wins? Ultimately these politicians are neither “Republicans” nor “Democrats.” They are just people, with all the terrible urges and behaviors of an omnivore that evolved against desperate odds by its extraordinarily enhanced wit. It may be to humankind’s credit that the notion that morality ought to govern one’s actions cropped up some millennia into the evolutionary push toward eating lobster in Martha’s Vinyard, but humankind’s willingness to abandon notions of morality whenever snickeringly convenient (by that I mean at the drop of a proverbial hat) condemns us all.

"America stood on an interesting pedestal immediately following WWII. It seemed that a world-class political and military power whose actions were motivated (well, at least tempered) by principal, rather than by avarice, stood center stage. I believe this was an historic moment.

"Unfortunately America then launched into a series of small wars and skirmishes over the next fifty years that were not motivated solely or even primarily by principal (most by a mix of uncertainty about America’s role in the world, religious fear, the innate corporate profitability of a war – any war – and the possibility of long-term economic / strategic gain). This tarnished the image, but did not destroy it. Then came the invasion of Panama, the political cleansing of Grenada, the renting of our military to Saudi Arabia, the sponsoring of secret wars in Central and South America and, finally, a land grab as bold as any the English, French or Germans ever perpetrated during the heyday of military colonialism. We showed the world the true colors of America, and they are dark and mottled indeed.

"But it is a convenient lie to blame the Republicans or the Neocons for this fall from grace. It is the manifestation of the will, and the amoral indifference, and the overarching greed of virtually all Americans that has brought our nation so low."

Socratic Monologue
Our old lantern-lighter pal, Socrates, checked in with a monologue that was so well-crafted, so finely honed, so finessed and nuanced---and so flourescently important---that your Illuminator decided to give it separate placement. It is entitled, "Old Dogs and Dirty Tricks," and here is the tantalizing first paragraph:

"Washington is abuzz with the winds of change, or so we might wish to believe. Change comes hard for any one, but it is especially hard in the political arena. Particularly if you are the President of the Dis-United States. At what has become perhaps the most perilous moment in our national history, we are at a crossroads where only genuine statesmanship can guide us through to safety and put us back on course as the democratic model for the world to follow - - by choice, not by imposition."

Read all of this marvelous beam of light here.

If you have never seen the wombat lecture, please watch. If you already have seen it, please watch again.

Lantern-lighter Doc dropped a shaft of illumination our way. Here it is:

"The culture of consumerism makes Bushism possible.

"People do not live lives in the traditional sense, they consume. Major life events are fraught with consumption. The more material belongings, the more status activities, the more gratification of the senses all mean that the individuals who are consuming same are as 'wonderful' as can be.

"Who really lives anymore? When we are not consuming, we are just marking time until our next purchase of goods or experience.

"Western society has gained the whole world, but has lost its soul. Jungle-dwelling natives of the Amazon are more human that we. We are in the thrall of our machines, our materialism, our comfort and convenience. But who are we? Do we even know?
Palliative dispensers like Oprah and Dr. Phil are there to buttress the status quo. True insight is a forgotten art.

"So the cargo cult of consumerism is the opiate of the people, lulling them into an illusion of life. Meanwhile the Morlocks are slaughtering thousands, stealing us blind and destroying the planet. And the more they plunder, the more undone the world becomes. Hence the "need" for authoritarianism.

"The more they screw with the world, the more power they need to control the system to keep power. Thus it drifts from friendly fascism, to authoritarianism to totalitarianism.

"Everything is broken."

Feel better now, folks?

Room Inn Nations
is so nonplussed---or it it plussed?---about the "Oscars," that his normal loquaciousness is low. But it must be said that all these gushing, barely articulate series of disjointed ejaculations about God and coming from South-Central L.A. and believing in your dream (where are the cliche police!) and so on have got to stop. LL thinks Forrest Whittaker is a superb actor and a stinking lousy speechmaker. Forrest, you have not solved global warming, discovered a cure for AIDS, or removed Bush and Cheney from power. You. . .acted. You. . .won an award. A top award. Well done, but a little humility, please. Same to you, Jennifer Holliday--er, Hudson---and believe me, you need it a lot more than Forrest. By the way, Ellen DeGeneres is every bit as funny as a second-grade teacher talking about milk going up your nose. And Clint, well, Clint, you're gettin' old at last. Greatest injustice of the night: "Pan's Labyrinth" not winning best foreign film. Second greatest injustice of the night: "The Departed" winning anything. There are better Bugs Bunny cartoons. Let Al Gore host next year. . .

In The Snake Eats Itself Department: Toyota is building a new auto assembly plant in Northeast Mississippi. There are at least two interesting things about this. First, the only reason Japanese auto manufacturers assemble cars in the USA is because the Congress years ago passed protective tariffs against Japanese auto imports. The companies beat this by building the cars here, so the tariffs were all rescinded. Second, the USA has a surplus of reasonably intelligent, reasonably hard-working adults in backwaters like Mississippi and other southern and Midwestern states happy to have these stultifying repetitive factory jobs---never mind what Karl "the Pig" Rove said about not wanting his son to pick tomatoes. In other words, we have become a source of reasonably intelligent cheap manufacturing labor, at least compared with the labor pools in Japan and Western Europe. In other words, we have become our own "Third World" country---outsourcing to ourselves! We’ll soon be making tennis shoes and clothing once again.

Question of the day: how many pairs of hands does a female movie star have to pass through before she becomes undesirable as used goods? It seems there is always some itinerant dancer or cinefellow ten or fifteen years younger (either calculating for exposure or who doesn’t know any better) willing to woo even the most tarnished aging divas and over the hill (25+ years) pop tarts. Wonder how Sharon Stone and Christian Slater are doing. . .


Now cometh a great big wonderful beaming shaft! Lantern-lighter "Doc" yet again hath come through-eth with an essay guaranteed to drive shadows fleeing. Here it is, kids:

So, brethren and sisthren, it is fear – FEAR, I say – that is the genesis of religion. Fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear of fear itself. Fear of terrorists, fear of dying, fear of flying. The original fears were probably of earthquakes, volcanoes, too much rain, too little rain, and other entirely inexplicable, uncontrollable natural factors that spelled doom or prosperity for our primitive hunter-gatherer forebears (note well that these remain pretty high on the things-feared-list today, puncturing little intellectual conceits about having de-mystified nature’s arbitrary assaults).

Modern fears are somewhat more varietal. True, the Big Boogaloo - fear of death – lurks behind nearly every manifestation of popular despair we still encounter during our brief mambo with life. Then we move on to the purveyors of oblivion -- starvation, disease, you know, the four horsemen of Apocalypse Now. Finally we end up entwined in pretty silly trivialities: fear of television reruns, fear of the next guy’s different god, fear of wearing the same dress as Dinky Glimp. If one could hear all the prayers for divine assistance in avoiding various types and levels of unpleasantry that waft upward each day, one would have a damned-near complete list of every dark and fearful nook in the human psyche.

And that brings me to my next point. What is the connection between fear and religion? Aha! It is identical to the fundamental principal of capitalism – identify a need, then satisfy it at a substantial profit (or sometimes create a need, then satisfy it, same thing). The elemental human need is two-headed – the need to understand those things we fear (fundamentally, that can kill us)and the need for assistance in avoiding them. Both heads perch on the same body -- The Unknown. You know, “The undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns….”

Now since it was probably pretty clear to even our brooding brow-ridged bipedal ancestors that they certainly didn’t have any answers, the logical thing was to ascribe the reason for such calamities to (and endow the power to stop such calamities in) somebody or something else. But who? But whom? (The grammar god is fickle and aloof.)

The original answer was -- in the very things that were feared. So, in every culture that was subject to volcanoes, you had a volcano god. Where floods were a hazard, you had a rain god. Earthquakes? Create an earthquake god. These fanciful creations satisfied both questions – these special effects gods were understood to be the cause of such seemingly arbitrary and appalling occurrences, and provided a key to avoiding them. Create and placate the right god, and the fire pits would stop firing, the rains would come on time and in moderation, and all would be right with the world.

This is all pretty much hokey dokey! It removed some of our fear by removing some of the unknown – people could understand these anthropomorphic gods they conjured up. They were sort of like us, only (to use the pop jargon) EMPOWERED. And the fancied ability to placate such gods restored a bit of imaginary control to the situation. Nobody got hurt, and everybody felt a little better. Well, except those sacrificed to placate a particular member of the pantheon one’s society venerated. (Funny how virgins seem to have been at the top of everybody’s Sacrificial Top Ten, be they gods of fire or fruitcake. You don’t suppose these societies were male-dominated, do you?) Taking the Big Dive to mollify the God of Large Potatoes must have been a bummer.

Of course, since these gods didn’t really exist, the success of societal adoration and attempted placation were pretty much arbitrary. (I’ve always loved the fact that the Greeks endowed their gods with the very human trait of arbitrariness, to explain why the results of their worship and sacrifices seemed so…arbitrary.) Even so, a little imagined control of the sometimes-dire situation seemed better than none, so even the ficklest of divine creatures and forces didn’t completely lose their supernatural sheen.

As the millennia passed, reasons for many of the natural catastrophes that had a way of shortening life expectancies became understood. Nothing does in a god quicker than application of the scientific method. Volcanoes? A release of the Earth’s inner molten core through fissures. Cataclysmic rainstorms? A shift in ocean temperatures and currents. It wasn’t because some big bully of an Olympian god had an angina attack after all.

When the reasons for the god's creation – to answer the Big Why? -- disappeared, so did the god. So long. Hasta la vista, Baby. Don’t let the door hit your ethereal ass on the way out.
But so long as us people remain fearful, so long as we keep deceasing and the mysteries of life, death and creation perplex our frontal lobes, we will keep around a god or two as a handy, dandy all-purpose response to those remaining perplexities that ail us. Sure you can ask him (or her or it) for special favors, but if you don’t get them, don’t bitch. Sure you can ask for an explanation of the mystery of life, but don’t hold your breath. Gods don’t explain. They work in mysterious ways. It’s in the contract.

To be continued.

*End of the World, composed by Skeeter Davis.

received the following bit of short musing from lantern-lighter Doc: 

"I have been reading an easy history of the Roman Empire (one of those books for idiots), only about 250 pages. Reading this leads to the conclusion that people have a killing gene that guides their actions. The history of Rome is a litany of hundreds of wars fought over about six centuries, killing many millions of people.  Each had a “reason,” but the real reason is the human need to kill, still guiding the actions of so many “leaders” today (as well as the armies they control and direct).

"Every war had a 'reason' seized upon to allow expression of the killing compulsion.  Everyone knows that if there were no soldiers, there would be no wars, but the fact is that there is an unending supply of soldiers, each of whom has the killing gene in place and in command. We sublimate and satiate the killing gene vicariously through brutal sports much of the time, but it boils to the surface often enough---resulting in the death of many, many millions in my lifetime alone. It is finding expression right now in Iraq (and shortly in Iran), Palestine, North Africa and innumerable other places in the world.  It has always been so with humans, and always will. Humans are easily the most despicable creatures extant. There certainly is no god, because if there were, we humans would be dispatched immediately by the creator without a moment’s pause."

The most despicable creatures extant? LL is not too partial to alligators. . .

The L.A. Times' ongoing decline and descent further into blandness and banality does not break Lamplighter's heart---what's left of it. This pompous, pretentious rag has for decades been marked by an unseemly self-importance and arrogance. Perhaps it's something in their coffee, as the haughty Times attitude may be encountered from top to bottom, from editor to phone operator to secretary. LL has a million stories about Times Disease. Here are two:

When "edited" by a fellow who had at least the maturity and seasoning of an 8-year-old, LL requested that the cliched word, "virtually" not be inserted in his copy, and that instead the plainer and more accurate "almost" be used. The response: "This is a TIMES story! This is a Los Angeles TIMES story! Are you so important that you don't have to be edited?" I know, I know, but it's true, folks. The other: when an overnight Fed-Ex package to LL was sent care of the Times, why, the secretary there very conscientiously forwarded it to His Brightness---three months later. When LL very, very politely asked the secretary if she wouldn't mind alerting him to any/all urgent overnight packages---offering to then drive down and pick them up---Sec'y said, and we quote, "We forward mail to you as a COURTESY. If you don't like it, we can just throw it in a box down here and you can come and get it yourself!"

But this is a mere surface scratch into Times mentality.

This "great newspaper" (as its editors and ad campaigns have long shamelessly referred to it) became "great" only because of the Hearst Corporation stupidly killing the Examiner in '62 and dropping out of the morning market. Prior to that, The Times historically had been considered a dull, gray, arch-conservative, racist fishwrap that was laughed at by the staffs of the other four or five papers in town (several of which were also arch-conservative and racist.) And as we like to maintain in this column, the Times has never been a "great" newspaper---despite some truly fine reporting and writing amid all the chin-stroking overstuffed interminable phoneybaloney prose and pose---rather, it has been a "great big" newspaper.

So it is with outright cheering that we observe the Tribune Company debase the place, and rub its imaginary blue nose in the dirt. We chortle when we see it subjected to the (gasp) unthinkable indignity of front-page ads on its various sections. We howl at the new ad campaign that shows fisheye-lensed dunderheads staring into your face (as if looking into a newsrack), reacting with drooling delight at the "redesigned" paper (as if people ever give a crap about such superficial changes.) We smile fiendishly when the latest Tribune Company babysitter---er, publisher---demonstrates zero understanding of L.A., and talks about "reaching out" to the "latino community" (as if the "latino community" gives a damn about the paper.) We slap our knees when they do things like switch the editorial pages to section one---oh, yeah, that'll sell more papers!---and, cough, howl, reduce the size of the masthead! Yowzah! Now I'm gonna subscribe!

The Times would do fine if it would change just a couple things---like oh, its staff and attitude. But the likelihood of that happening is as great as Bush leaving Iraq. What is going to happen is that this sorry paper will become more of a magazine to amplify a newsier website---so says the new Babysitter. (Yes, this will increase circulation! Make the stories even more interminable!) And it will do many, many other fall-down-funny, crackpot things.

What staggers LL about all this, and the widespread decline in newspapers everywhere, is that there is an obvious remedy that no one ever mentions. How about. . .become a newspaper again?

Newspapers all over the country from Monterey to Omaha have largely the same national/international content and coverage. What the hell ever happened to covering the community? That's right, folks---imagine this: a local newspaper. And what's more---a hard-hitting, no-pulled-punches newspaper that advocates on behalf of the community, and the underdog. (If that sounds like the Jim Bellows-era Herald-Examiner, you're way ahead of me.) Put most national and international news in section two. Make the paper an L.A. paper! Make it irreverent, funny. Make the writing bright, sharp, to-the-point. Inspire outrage. Inspire tears. Stop pandering to Hollywood, and start covering it. And you really, really need a punchy, crackerjack sports section. (The Times sports pages are full of people consumed with out-punning each other, and Bill "One Sentence Per Paragraph" Plaschke.) Bring back weekly Bingo games! Give away cars! Hire Bob Barker as official spokesman! And as far as losing ad revenue to Craigslist and the like, how is it that the Times and other papers didn't instantly come up with an on-line competitor? Well, you get the drift. And drift is the future of the Times and other American newspapers---as long as they are owned by bottom-line mercenaries like Dean Singleton, The Tribune Company, and "edited" by overeducated, monied elitists completely out of touch with working-class reality.

Nice word, isn't it? Of course, you've heard it before, being far more enlightened than Your Illuminator. If you knew suzerainty like I knew suzerainty. . .Didn't I go to school with Suze Rainty? It might've choked Suze, but it ain't gonna choke Rainty. Cough. Ahem. Sorry, I had a small fit. But this is the Perfecto Zapata word for the Bush Administration's magnificent achievements in The Middle East. (Well, Condi thinks they're magnificent---she told Congress how successful this whole venture has been!) But don't take it from Lamplighter---take it from lantern-lighter Doc, who dropped a line to muse about exactly how much Congress can do to stop George W. "American Enterprise Institute" Bush (the Neocon---accent on the "con"---outfit drafted current Iraq plans and wrote Prezboy's big speech about same.) Doc explained that there are no checks whatsoever on unbalanced Bush:

"Some argue, perhaps correctly, that it started when Ford pardoned Nixon, letting him off the hook for breaking numerous laws. This established the presumption that any president who goes too far will be similarly pardoned, so no sitting president need have fear of personal repercussions for actions. Note that we have not declared war on Iraq or anyone else, sidestepping the issue. Congress just decided to call it something else, in order to avoid the responsibility of making such a decision. The press and White House call it a 'war on terror' at best, when it honestly ought to be called 'A Racist Crusade Under the Impetus of Pseudo-Christianity to Co-opt Iraq Oil Reserves and Impose an Israeli Suzerainty Over the Middle East.' U.S. citizens don’t think there is anything wrong with killing Iraqis (or any other Muslims) and stealing their oil. They don’t. Really. It is okay by them to kill the 'towel-heads.' This is the real, core problem, and it won’t go away."

Now, lantern-lighter Doc's observations were amplified a bit by lantern-lighter Socrates, who wrote:

Congress has always squirmed when it came to exercising its constitutional duty regarding a declaration of war. The Authorization Act passed during the Nixon years (and vetoed by Mr. N.) has never been actively implemented in curbing Presidential incursions on congressional powers. Worse, the blank check given by Bush's stacked deck Republican congress in authorizing the use of military force against any country known to be involved in 9/11 has never been seriously challenged - - patriotism, you know. Perhaps now, congressional hearings on a variety of Bush shenanigans may offer some hope of restoring powers to their proper place. Perhaps. NPR had an interview in which it was stated that about 65% of our available military is bogged down in Iraq alone. This may act as a constraint on any plan to attack Iran. The wild card, of course, is Israel. If Israel attacks Iran unilaterally, we're sunk.

Just an afterthought: If the surge fails, as it will, McCain as an active supporter of the policy, will doom his presidential ambitions. Fine with me."
So we won’t have Saddam to kick around anymore. . .Yes, Lamplighter almost feels sorry for the “brutal dictator.” Hell, he was only doing what brutal dictators are supposed to do: wipe out a couple hundred people every time the populace gets unruly. True, he got rather um, carried away with the sadism and idolatry, but that's hardly unusual for brutal dictators. People forget: Saddam was supported by the U.S. for decades while he was busy having fun as a brutal dictator. . .U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie inadvertently gave him the go-ahead to take Kuwait. . .Saddam actually did destroy his only “WMD” about two or three weeks before the invasion (about 25 Scud missiles with no WMD in the warheads). . .Saddam did say he would negotiate with the U.S. shortly before the invasion. . .Naturally, we know that the whole Iraq thing was a sham from the get-go---an excuse for vainglory, indulging fantasy about "democratizing" Arab nations (which, of course, would actually result in them electing religious maniac brutal dictators), allowing corporations to rape and pillage, etc. Seems to LL that Saddam’s big mistake was lobbing those few Scuds at Israel in Gulf War I. That, was not hard to comprehend, given that the entire Arab world thinks Israel is an aggressive and murderous anti-Arab state (with nukes, no less.) But that’s what sealed his fate. The Neocons, many of whom actually worked for Israel (Cheney, Wolfowitz, and others freelance consulted for the Likud party), swore to “git” Saddam at that point. So now we are a nation that selects defenseless nations we do not like, invades, occupies, and murders their leaders. Gee, wonder why we are not bothering with all the other brutal dictators in the world.

Your Illuminator
just cannot bring his glowing self to shed light on any of the madness involving the L.A. Times, or Iraq, or Oprah telling Kirstie Alley, "Your boobs look good," or McCartney calling for a "dignified" divorce, or the hideous weather, orGeorgio Armani on the cover of Arcitectural Digest (oh, goshohgollygeewhizbangwowie, I wish I could live like Georgio!), so it was with some relief that we received the following essay from regular Lantern-lighter Socrates. It is far too civilized reading for most of you, but then, most of you don't read this site anyhow. . .Soc?

"October and November is a deliciously calming time of the year, the temperature moderating, the colors of the flora making a last burst of splendor, and the animal kingdom heading toward nap time. Unfortunately, the magical spell is broken for one species, since it becomes the season of silliness as its “leaders” make a headlong dash to satisfy their egos by aspiring to mediocrity when greatness is beyond their grasp, thereby demonstrating why no one should elect them to political office. The lack of statesmanship in our time is underscored by the expectation that public service is the stepping stone to riches or a footnote in the history books. This egocentric philosophy of our elected servants has done more to undermine the virtue of our country, our democracy, and our Constitution than any enemy beyond our borders.

"The public need consider only a few of the most absurd public pronouncements by officials “in the know.” President Bush’s declaration of “mission accomplished” has become a ludicrous testament to willful ignorance of cultural, historical, and military realities; Vice President Cheney’s proclamation that “the insurgency is in its death throes,” underscores the primacy of wishful thinking over rational thought; and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s conclusion that one billion more dollars is appropriate for training more Iraqi security forces, but that we don’t need more trainers is mind boggling. His departure is a premature Christmas gift that is not unappreciated. I’m sure each of us has a favorite tribute to madness, but it eventually reaches the point that Americans have to ask themselves: What is to be done to undo the travesty and tragedy that has been foisted upon us in the name of security, regardless of the party in power?

"The congressional elections were a possible step in the right direction, but the country needs to look well beyond throwing the rascals out. Perhaps we need, desperately, to change not the officials, but the system. Thomas Jefferson admonished us two centuries ago that the tree of liberty needed to be refreshed on occasion with the blood of patriots. He may have meant literally a homegrown insurgency, but more likely an updating of the Constitution to reflect the changing times, but never sacrificing our hard won democratic principles. If it was the latter, then clearly we are overdue for an overhaul. To that end, my ruminations in this silly season have led me to consider what reformations of our Constitutional government might be in order that would satisfy our Founding Fathers’ intent and avert the fascist oligarchy that threatens to overwhelm us.

"We need to examine what is wrong with our current system. What seems to have brought us to the precipice of disaster is two fold: the lust for power and the lust for wealth. The prescription for curing our ailment is simple and therefore bitter, but only to those who put their interest above their country. The cynical observation that anyone who would seek public office should be regarded with the suspicion an electorate would have for a common criminal is not without merit.

"How then do we neutralize the overly ambitious from aspiring to power? We might begin by limiting the potential for power. Maintaining the two bodies of Congress would be practical, but limit their term of service to four years for both bodies by staggering their election by two years so that both bodies would not be elected at the same time. Further, any official elected is automatically removed from office at the end of that four years and not allowed to run for office again until his office has been vacated for four years. Said official will be paid a salary adequate to perform his functions and be off limits to any lobbyist. Lobbyists must address publicly the whole body of Congress and there are to be no secret hearings of public concern.

"How the Congress would be populated needs to be changed. Power must be removed from ruinously competing political parties. Just a suggestion, but two parties would be acceptable and lesser parties would align themselves with one of the two. There should be an equal balance between male and female members and roughly the same should hold true for the Supreme Court. The recommendation is that a representative from each party would be elected by each state to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. Neither party would have a majority; therefore, they must compromise judiciously or forfeit their salary. There would be no room for party politicking, but only learned debate in the interest of the country. However, there must be results. The tie-breaking vote would be cast not by the Vice-President, but the electorate: In or out!

"The citizenry needs to be presented with an agenda of problems of national concern and allowed to designate which they regard as the most important for any legislative session, when they elect their representatives. If those national, not state, problems are not dealt with effectively during the legislative session of four years, all representatives forfeit any future congressional career for four years and the return of their salaries. The agenda could possibly be derived from state legislatures reflecting their constituents’ needs: the budget, education, health, safety, treaties, et cetera. The presentation of the agenda would be to the Congress by the President and his responsibility would be to keep them on task.

"As for the President, he should be elected by the general public, but his powers should be relegated to those of leadership: proposing, but not disposing; exhorting, but not dictating. Veto power would remain in his/her hands, but signing statements would be invalidated as representing a de facto veto. The power to declare war would rest with the Congress or selected officials in consultation with the President, not solely the President. If we are ever under attack time becomes moot. In time of war not precipitated by us, all congressional members’ terms would be extended one term. The President may serve four years, then, be retired and allowed to run after four years have elapsed.

"These few suggestions represent a beginning of possible upgrades of the Constitution, but primarily they would serve to seal off the corridors to the abuse of power and limit the rapacious urges of many alleged public servants. Certainly the Bill of Rights needs to be vigorously enforced, and the selection of Supreme Court Justices warrants being revisited, but these are matters beyond immediate necessities: addressing the causes of our woes. These are just a few of my ruminations for a better future. Shouldn’t we all be re-examining the state of our nation? After all, it is the silly season. Right?

"If I may be so bold, I think it might not be an inappropriate forum for “The Lamplighter” to solicit reasoned ideas from its readers to submit their suggestions as to how America might improve the functioning of our elected government on a reformed Constitutional basis. How say ye?


For some reason that would take an hour to explain, Lamplighter's consciousness, or lack of same, contains a conversation with a minor fictional character in a film. The character's name is Squawk Mulligan, and he is a bartender in a movie called "My Little Chickadee." Squawk is having a chat with fellow barkeep Cuthbert J. Twillie, played by the man who wrote the dialogue for this scene, one W. C. Fields.

Now, what stands out from this utterly drop-dead funny scene is not the utterly drop-dead funny exchange between Squawk and Twillie, but the voiceover of a "customer," who says, with all the sobriety of a man on trial for murder, "No, I just can't recall any such incident right now." The dryness of this delivery, and the businesslike manner in which the speaker considers the rather unusual question that is put to him, is a pearl of absurdity. Here is the conversation:

(Twillie and old buddy "Squawk Mulligan" are tending bar together, telling tall tales to a customer:)

Twillie: "I'm tending bar one time down in the lower east side in New York. A tough paloma comes in there by the name of Chicago Molly. I cautioned her, 'None of your peccadilloes in here.' There was some hot lunch on the bar, comprising of succotash, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and asparagus with mayonnaise. She dips her mitt down into this melange. I'm yawning at the time, and she hits me right in the mug with it. I jumps over and I knocks her down."

Squawk: "You knocked her down? I was the one that knocked her down!"

Twillie: "Oh yes, that's right. He knocked her down...but I was the one who started kicking her. I starts kicking her in the midriff. Did you ever kick a woman in the midriff that had a pair of corsets on?"

Customer: "No, I just can't recall any such incident right now."

Twillie: "Well, I almost broke my great toe; I never had such a painful experience."

Customer: "Did she ever come back again?"

Squawk: "I'll say she came back. She came back a week later and beat the both of us up."

Twillie: "Yeh, but she had another woman with her--an elderly woman with gray hair."

By the way, Fields did not merely contribute this one scene to the movie, as is claimed here. He had a knock-down drag-out with co-star Mae West over the writing that resulted in co-credit on the movie.

Attention, lantern-lighters: this might make you want to throw a lampshade over your head and dance yourselves into imbecility. It's a little note sent our way by the poet, Jack Oakes, who keeps up with current events---much to his own distress. Jack?

"They will shut us down. No more Internet, imposition of martial law, rounding up of dissidents for those concentration camps, death squads stalking our streets, torture chambers, rape rooms, the whole enchilada. All these threads are all connected. They just don't happen willy-nilly out of thin air.

"If America can declare itself free to torture, kidnap, secretly imprison without charge or trial, any damned thing is thinkable and doable.

"What has gone down in Iraq is a training ground, a proving ground for things to come. Plus recruiting the dregs of society will provide shock troops for repression at home (a la "Clockwork Orange"). Iraq is not a failure, it's a rousing success. They are doing exactly what was planned. They intended a no-win war. And the key element: it is a massive redistribution of billions of dollars from all of us to the military industrial complex. That's the real deal."

Jack sent along a few links to elucidate his views:

Iran: The Unthinkable War---part one
Part One: The Democrats are silent as the Bush regime prepares for war against Iran -- silent in the face of a potential nuclear mass murder -- even a global war. Silent in the face of an attack that could cause an utter meltdown of the global economy, a 1930s style Depression that would send millions, perhaps billions of people into starvation-level poverty, as the prices of oil and gasoline triple.
Part two:
Part two: Democrats and Republicans alike claim that Iran is a “terrorist state,” one that can’t be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. But there is no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, any more than there was any proof that Iraq was developing one.
The Bush/Cheney Police State Is Upon Us
Now That You Could be Labeled an Enemy Combatant…
They Passed the Torture Bill, Gave Bush Wiretapping, and America is Dead
Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs' (from 2/23/06)
But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy. Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush's actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by "news informers," in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Now that you are in a swell frame of mind, after you get finished lining up that Irish citizenship, you might want to read this more heartening rumination, also from Mr. Oakes:

I reflect just now that I am essentially the same person as I was 30 years ago. A bit more prudent, perhaps. But instead of having the pep of a 25-year-old, I'm a shuffling middle-aged guy. I look at the world around me and see ... what? Not my world, I do not give consent to this society. Were I could be like Thoreau and live in a shack and wander about commenting on what is observed.

Ah, that is so passe. Nobody wants to hear it. Nobody wants to see us. It's not good for ratings, it doesn't sell tickets. There is no profit in us.

Nobody thinks about the world the way we still do. The visions we had were the best, the music we heard was the best. The friendships were grand. The times were joyous.

Ah, but time passes us by. And we are left to wonder why. Yet each morning, we rouse ourselves from our slumber and rub the sleep from our eyes and give it another try.

But it seems with each passing day, we are a little less a part of the passing scene. We have become ghosts. There is no prophet in us.

It's only money, that is all that most people see, money. Money to stave off fear. Fear of death, or growing old, of being sick. The pervasive level of opulence in this country is astounding. Money has a way of altering landscapes and mindscapes. It provides an illusion of escape from the cycle of suffering as assuredly as any opium pipe.

But I prefer my dreams and visions. May they be true.
May I be true to them. Who could ask for anything more. I'm the richest man in the world. I have nothing to prove. I am already a winner. May I extend benefit to all sentient beings, to each according to his needs.

It is better to be optimistic, to believe in what we know to be true. We only wish to tell the truth, we have no wish to deceive. We've struggled mightily these many years against a thousand passions, and it has brought us to the brink of understanding. The utlimate discovery, the simplest plan. Shake my hand.

As was the case with the Age of Enlightenment, the Declaration of Independence, the rights of man, we could well usher in a new era of understanding and insight. Even as our fundamental liberties are imperiled as never before, a new wave of reason is being nurtured in ways the pundits and hucksters could never understand, nor ever corrupt.

A few sweet words of truth and kindness dispensed as we go through our day will cast new seed onto ready ground. The results will be a new Garden of Eden. Nurtured by passion and reason, indestructible by greed and corruption, cutting through contempt, calumny and delusion.

Find the right words, find them in your heart. No greater magic can be imagined. There's no further search required. The quest is at an end. The misery and the ignorance and the howling stops now.

If the world is dull, stale and unprofitable, it is only because we have let it be so. The things that will happen now are beyond the understanding of the media hounds and whores. Keep them at bay. Don't let them get a sniff of the project. Careful labors are required now.

Believe in your gifts, the ultimate treasure, beyond the limits imposed by current commerce. Here is the antidote. Let us toast to the success of our further adventures.

Lantern-Lighter Socrates dropped a line from his retreat in Idyllwild, or was it Truth or Consequences, or was it Vane, Ohio? Anyhow, Soc was cleaning out his garage, and it got him thinking about cleaning out Washington, D.C.:

"The first phase of remodeling mania has abated, but a follow up bout is in the making I fear.

"Mania." Now there is a word that is about to become as abused, overused, and relegated to meaninglessness as the current buzz word, "robust," (note to readers: please see Lingo Czar column) especially if our beloved fearless and feckless leader persists in shooting his mouth off at the behest of Herr Rove, and if the media becomes increasingly aware of his manic desperation to salvage his ass from future charges of war crimes and some well-earned knitting time in Leavenworth. In all fairness he should be offered the alternative of being "renditioned" to a judicial institution for humane inquiry, say in Baghdad or Mosul. Although there have been a few insightful remarks made about Bungling B's admission regarding previously denied CIA secret prisons, no one seems to be outraged - I mean OUTRAGED - that he confesses to a lie and has the gall to insist that Congress pass legislation sanctifying his sins and saving his hide and that of his camp followers (Republican moneyed [but never enough] whoremongers (such a wonderful Biblically laden term) who have sold this country down Texas' gold plated porcelain brain drain). I doubt if there is enough room available in Argentina to accommodate the number of expatriots that would be generated if Congress declines. Fat chance!"

Some rant from the Soc-man! But wait---there's more:

"I realize I sound overly optimistic, but when Arlen Specter bends over backward to legalize Bugsy B's rapes of the Constitution while insisting L'Emperor must ask Congress first - respectfully, for the sake of appearances, just as was done in Ancient Rome; and the front runner of the Democratic hopefuls, Ms. Clinton, admonishes the nation that we need new leadership while "completing the mission" in Iraq, what is one to do except laugh maniacally. I'm sure Mr. Bin Laden is doing just that as he strolls the twilight streets of Des Moines pondering the irony of his reported presence "somewhere" in the mountainous border region of Pakistan, while America is "staying the course" in Iraq pursuing its "War on Terror."

"Well, as in the immortal words of the inimitable Madame Malaprop, "I distress." Certainly I have wandered far from the garage syndrome, but after the investment of a week, I felt I should at least give the semblance of some remarkable transformation in my life having occurred (note: Soc sent a few pics of his spic-and-span garage) that will give indisputable proof that my life has indeed been in vain (Vain, Indiana, that is.)"

here: Turns out, by the way, there is no Vain, Indiana, or any other city named Vaiin. So no one, Soc, lives in Vain.


Once upon a time a lot of benign, happy young people enjoyed yelling "Jerrrrrry!!!!" at the late Jerry Garcia. This was a cry of exuberance, however primitive and tribal, meant to bestow upon the guitarist for the Grateful Dead a degree of appreciation intended to encourage him to make music. Sigh. Those were nice days. As most of you lantern-lighters know, Mr. Garcia's name was appropriated by Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream for use in naming its cherry-with-chocolate bits flavor, "Cherry Garcia." It is delectable, a gustatory equivalent of a fine Garcia guitar moment. (Mr. Garcia did not object to this use of his appelation, though he did exact a reasonable fee for it.) Jerry is gone, and the original Ben and Jerry sold the franchise, but Cherry G. lives on. Far be it for Lamplighter to speak with authority on health issues, but the stuff seems to contain mysterious curative properties. Consider this e-mail from a friend and reader, who shall here be known as Gertrude:

maybe you'd approve of this. along w some bronchitis thing sprouting from my earlier cold of last month, i have had laryngitis for almost a week. at first it was funny, esp when my phone went out and i had to call repair. i won't go into that now. anyway, the laryngitis became an impediment after a few days. people began begging me not to speak. my scratchy screech was truly awful to hear. it literally hurt listeners' ears. people also began mentioning the 'a' word-- antibiotics-- and the 'p' word, pneumonia, thinking i am some kind of idiot for using natural remedies and trusting the process. anyway, one woman acquaintance, who has sex with doctors but sniffs herbs, remembered one of the Ronis medical dynasty had once recommended to her something he called a 'cold vaporizer.' as opposed to a steam one, i guess. (sounds like my old nebulizer, actually) . anyway, i reasoned, that sounds like a job for some prescription ice cream. and so, last night, i staggered to the korean food boutique otherwise known as spruce market and got some medicinal CHERRY GARCIA, came home, had two 'doses' of it spaced several hours apart, and voila, today, i am nearly back to being my normal hyperverbal self with those dulcet tones some of us know and love, well, like a lot!!!"

Yes, I realize that one bit of anecdotal evidence is not going to sway opinion, let alone the medical establishment. But I must add a second Cherry G. episode, which I related to Gertrude:

My friend, an 80-year-old former nurse, just had her second heart surgery in three years. This one was rather difficult and required a second “chest-cracking” to eliminate blood clots. Gasp! She was really thrown for a loop. Sounded like a feeble old lady afterward, pessimistic about ever regaining her strength. Yet I noted that she, too, had been eating ice cream, and not merely any ice cream, but (drum roll) Cherry Garcia! I was glad that this at least gave her a little pleasure in her difficulty, not suspecting the miracle at hand. I spoke to her just the other day, and to my amazement, she sounded like her old self. Her voice was strong as she delcared that she is feeling her strength start to return. I had a sudden thought. “Are you still eating Cherry Garcia ice cream?” Her response was emphatic: “Yes!” So there you are. The magical, transformative powers once found in the guitar and voice of Jerry G. seem to have carried over into the quasi-namesake ice cream.

Journalist/author/verysmartperson Jeannette Winterson observed during a interview with Bill Moyers on his fine “Faith and Reason” series that humanity might be entering a “cultural dark age” where thought/reason/art are done on the QT by a minority of the populace---just in case one day the race finds these things of worth again.

Lamplighter hereby dubs Jeannette Beam-of-the-Month!

Spurred by this notion, your Illuminator solicited comments from this website’s 23.7 daily readers. Two such contributions are printed here, first from Lantern-Lighter A. U. Thority:

“We are in a period where there is wholesale rejection of ALL science and scientific method and belief in man’s ability to rationally investigate and resolve mysteries surrounding life. These people want their prejudices validated, and that is what organized religion and unprincipled politicians are willing to provide in return for wealth. They want good guys and bad guys, with no one in the middle. Most of all they want Christ to return not so much as they can enjoy the 'rapture' as to be able to see everyone else being eternally consumed by sulfurous flames. The ultimate validation of ignorance. They burned witches for 300 years in the middle ages to satisfy similar prejudices (i.e. destroy that which – they thought -- they could not understand).”

LL thinks that Thority is right on the money---and we do mean money. What’s more, if Hay-soos ever does return, the chances of which we think even less than Bush pronouncing “nuclear” correctly, and if JC really is intent on seeing sinners singed (which we doubt), the first to feel the flames would be the “Christian” right. But enough holy-rolling. On to comment number two, generously supplied by Lantern-Lighter Herodotus:

“The thought of a cultural Dark Age has not been far from my thoughts these last several months, especially after listening to NPR News. The determination of nations (not just ours) and factions religious and economic to belligerently attempt to impose their plans for domination leaves me shaking my head in dismay. Much as I hate to say it, a world wide conflagration of hatred may be what it takes to sort things out, and the result may be nothing we could ever imagine or want. The ancient Greek Oracle who had advised a king contemplating a pre-emptive strike, that if he went to battle a great nation would fall. We may now be in that lamentable position. We might very well not even be a survivor as a species to contemplate the chaos. If we do manage a few feeble candidates to carry on, we seemed programmed to re-enact the same attitudes, emotions, and stupidity that guarantee we will do no better than in the past. A favorite fantasy of mine is that Nature is tired of our screw ups and is striking back with a variety of weapons of mass destruction: global warming, vanishing icecaps and coastlines, loss of farmland, exotic diseases and pandemics. While we as a species may go under, the world will be saved from us. Probably no great loss, as the lessons of our great artists and thinkers who urged us to continually examine ourselves for what is noble and what is mean have consistently gone ignored, since we have been too busy making a buck and outwitting the other guy to have to worry about making the world a better place for all life. 'God's favorite creature' is about to get a reality check.”

By the way, here is Moyers’ own thought on Winterson’s postulation, from an article in the Seattle Times:

“I can certainly see what she means by that, and I certainly in moments of pessimism myself believe the triumph of the anti-science of the right, the triumph of political ideology that is not challenged by religious people who would rather see their president in power than to see any president held accountable. Yes, and I see the lack of quality in our public discourse as revealed on the cable channels, on Fox News, on talk radio, indicating that if people do see the light they quickly stamp it out. And yes, I'm deeply troubled that our democratic discourse, our philosophical explorations and our religious understanding are all reduced to bumper stickers and sound bites.”

Now, your Illuminator is very, very worried about animals, as all the best people are. All the animals, that is, with the possible exception of the ones who enjoy watching "American Idol" and have bumper stickers reading "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." Nope, not worried about them. They seem to be well on the way to eating themselves out of house and home. Or, perhaps, consuming themselves out of house and home. If they don't mend their ways, they will have no ways to mend. But unlike pelicans, humans have complex brains capable of great things. Well, some humans, anyhow, most of which are not to be found anywhere near Pennyslvania Avenue. All of which is to say that we are worried about all the pelicans plowing into cars and dive-bombing into blacktop---apparently driven toward inland optical illusion by a lack of food at sea. So we consulted Lantern-Lighter Doc for an appraisal of this matter:

"Undoubtedly there are good years and bad years for pelicans. Some years ago there was a big die-off of seal pups because the El Nino conditions brought warm water well north, preventing the explosion of foodstuff along the coast that upwelling cold water normally detonates. Without this "krill" (for lack of a better term -- really all sorts of organic matter from diatoms to released eggs of thousands of different kinds of sea creatures and much more) for the small fish to eat, there wasn't enough food for those on top of the food chain. Even killer whales reverted to eating sea otters because of the paucity of seals. I think I remember a big die-off of sea birds at the islands (can't think of name) due west of San Francisco where many bird species breed for same reason. It is indisputable that there aren't enough easily captured fish to support the existing pelican population. This might be because of an El Nino condition, might be over-fishing, might be lethal runoff / pollution from land, might just be that the pelican population got too big. Probably several (or all) of these factors to some degree coinciding. Is man to blame? To the extent that the problem is a decline of fish populations, certainly. The world-wide currents that control sea life are shifting because of the planet warming (even the Gulf Stream is reportedly changing course, with potentially dire consequences for all Northern Europe). To the extent man's use of fossil fuels contributes (or causes) global warming, man is too blame. To extent decline in fish population is because of pollution in oceans, man is to blame. Only if pelican population got too large to be supported by normal fish populations (assuming that there are historically normal fish populations, which I doubt), is man not directly to blame. Even then the reason for an exploding pelican population (if that is the problem) may well be decimation of pelican's predators (at sea, sharks, Orcas; on land, larger raptors, maybe bobcats and pumas) as a result of man's overpopulation. We are changing the world, intentionally and unintentionally, in every conceivable way, often changes so subtle that they are not realized until long after the effects are fatal to other forms of life."

Thanks, Doc.


Good day. Your Illuminator, ever seeking to probe the darkest corner of every evil shadow, naturally sheds his rays on Ann Coulter. Is she crazy, or just deeply irritable because she has an Adam's apple to rival Sam Elliot? Or more fun to consider, did she speak the following quote, or did Adolf Hitler? Hmm? "These scum manufacture more than three quarters of the so-called 'public opinion,'...To give an accurate description of this process and depict it in all its falsehood and improbability, one would have to write volumes." Why, it seems that Mad Annie has been boning up, so to speak, on Der Fuhrer!Take the Hitler Vs. Coulter quote test here.

Bob Hope was well known for political opinion, if not insight. Yet in this rare commentary, Hope makes what is, without a doubt, a stunningly incisive, downright prescient observation about today's political scene. See it here.

received the following commentary by a reader who wanted to be known only as "Ashamed."

Since we are all Americans, we are all equally blessed (or damned) by those things the world deems to be quintessentially "American." I heard a fellow on the radio this morning brand as "un-American" those persons who doubt the story of heroic passengers rising up on 9/11 to overpower hijackers to prevent their airplane being used as a flying bomb." This apparently suggests that one should at all times be "American," since being "un-American" is a terrible label to bear. But who is the arbiter of what is or isn't "American?" We all have our own opinions of what is and isn't "American," of course, including that radio DJ. But my guess is that the White House is the ultimate arbiter of what is "American" in the eyes of the world, since the administration makes and enforces American policies around the globe. So hang on to your hats. Here is what our administration has avowed to be "American."

(1) Torture. This administration even had its now-attorney general draw up a memo justifying the use of torture against prisoners, male and female, no holds barred. So when you go abroad, don't be surprised if the citizens of whatever country you enter look at you askance, since you are a torturer.

(2) Assassination. Assassinating the leaders of other nations at will, if we don't like their policies. The administration calls it "regime change," but it is outright murder, in violation of all international law. Remember the "deck of cards" showing all the Iraqi leaders the President wanted murdered? Remember all the Taliban we shot on sight? So when you go abroad, don't be surprised if the citizens of whatever country you enter look at you askance, since you are a murderer.

(3) Terrorism. We have used massive weapons of destruction to kill about 200,000 - 300,000 Iraqi civilians, mostly women and little children, in the course of effecting "regime change." What could be more terrifying than living in fear, knowing that at any moment bombs may drop out of the sky to blow your beautiful babies into little red pieces? This is ten times more than Hussein ever murdered, even by our own administration's inflated estimates. Early in the war we sent laser-guided weapons to blow up a restaurant with hundreds of families eating dinner, because we thought that one or more of the people we marked for assassination might be there. The man who pushed the button launching the bomb is a terrorist and a murderer. The man who planned that strike is a terrorist and a murderer. It is now coming out that our own military operates its own death / murder gangs, lining up and massacring Iraqi women and children to create terror. This is all endorsed by the Neocons and the Bush administration. It is now the quintessence of being "American" in the eyes of the world.

"WAIT A MINUTE," you say. "I never endorsed torture or assassination or terrorism! You can't blame me!"

Wrong. The people of a nation are always held responsible for their leader's actions. We held the German people responsible for Hitler's actions and those of the German military machine, allowing millions of German civilians to starve to death after the end of WWII, without a twinge of guilt. We punished the Japanese civilian population in months of fire bombing of Japan's major cities, barbecuing women and children in their houses, because they allowed their leaders to wage war against the US and other nations. Without a twinge of guilt. We carpet-bombed schools, hospitals, temples and regular old neighborhoods in Hanoi for months because the North Vietnamese wouldn't stop their leaders' war being conducted in South Vietnam. Without a twinge of guilt. So. You are a torturer, an assassin, a murderer and a terrorist in the eyes of the world. Yes, you. The housewife in Pacoima. The retiree in Redondo Beach. The garment worker in downtown LA. The cattle rancher in Utah. The rap singer in Detroit. Your administration has made it so. To deny it is, simply put, un-American. Will each of us have to pay for these crimes against humanity? When you look into the eyes of a Pakistani, or a Greek, or a Namibian or a Peruvian, ask yourself, what are they thinking about you? Only time will tell. When you look into a mirror, what are you thinking about yourself? In the meantime, enjoy being an American. If your conscience will allow it.

George W. "President" Bush has taken time out from his efforts to save humanity for Jesus and Halliburton to pose for a new family portrait. You may view it here.

Lots of people write to Lamplighter. You can, too! This comes from lantern lighter DP, who eschews capital letters:

have you been wondering why our nsa gestapo is going to
bat for their illegal data base?have you vaguely thought that, for one thing, it enables total spying on democratic campaign plans? well, yes,
of course.but a bigger reason, says greg palast, is that the repugs
can now spike massive numbers of ballots from minority
precincts, more than in 2000 and 2004. mission 2008 (will be) accomplished."

For your dining and dancing pleasure, click here.

Attention, all money-grubbing Hollywood jackasses---er, that is, all fine film studio heads! Here it is---a sure-fire science-fiction/horror classic in the making! Name your price! But the following, submitted by lantern-lighter Mycroft, is strictly original copyrighted material and we will sue if any aspect is reproduced without permssion! Okay, everybody, here we goooooo. . . .

"There are parasites that have developed the ability to modify their host's behavior to enhance the parasite's life cycle. There is a worm of some sort that invades certain fish. The parasite lodges in a portion of the fish's brain and modifies the fish's behavior, causing the fish to frequent the surface of the lake and jump from the water frequently (rather than remain in deeper portions where these fish typically stay) to enhance the chance of the fish being eaten by predatory birds (hawks, etc.).

"The fish is then taken by a raptor, consumed, and the parasite's eggs that incubated in the fish head are liberated in the bird's digestive tract and deposited back into the water in the bird's droppings, spreading the parasite from lake to lake. This ability of parasites to modify their hosts' behavior to meet the parasite's own ends is pretty extraordinary -- and cinematic dynamite!

"Assume a parasite that requires a male host to incubate but must enter through the male's urinary tract. The parasite first invades females, and exudes catalytic acids that result in extreme chemical imbalance in host women. This causes them to become uncontrollably lustful, slavering, mutely seeking to have intercourse with every male they encounter. The poor things have no choice. Real pathos here. I am thinking a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity for Kathy Bates.

"The successful achievement of intercourse allows the parasite eggs to invade the male. They absorb the new host's testosterone, necessary to create a perfect chemical environment for the spores to hatch and grow. This sapping of the male's testosterone results in new hosts becoming lethargic and submissive (as the parasites mature), however. The males soon amass many female friends who find them reassuringly docile and non-aggressive. Social greeting kissing on the lips between the modified males and their new circle of female friends ensues, which allows microscopic 12-legged parasite juveniles inhabiting the males'
saliva glands an easy avenue back into females, where the parasites'
hormonal excretions soon modify the behavior of the new host female, and the cycle continues as the parasite becomes sexually mature and produces a new batch of eggs.

"Thus the parasites capitalize not only on the fundamentals of the human reproductive act but also on the social conventions of the day, i.e. female fraternization with docile male homosexuals. One can adapt the precise plotting and much of the dialogue of "It Came From Beneath the Sea" -- scene-by-scene -- including "It's jet-propelled!" in the movie. If you need something more graphic, can also have larger parasite juveniles come crawling up the throats of the homosexuals before they exchange social spit with females, who momentarily feeling something crawling in their mouths, but dismiss it. Sex crazy females, emaciated by parasites' voracious appetites, can form vast colonies in the LA storm drains, popping out of manhole covers at night to waylay unwary males. Martial law is declared.

"Army in WWII-era jeeps invade storm drains with flame throwers to destroy the nympho nests. I see last movie roles (and nostalgic reuniting) for Liz Taylor and Mickey Rooney here -- she a sex-starved queen of a nympho nest, and Rooney a general directing the moral and physical cleansing of the City of Angels. Epitome of type-casting. So, what do you think?"


People spend most of their lives pursuing and worrying about absolute nonsense. What can Your Illuminator do about that? Stay out of their way. Feel a bit of bemused compassion?

Maybe if I can keep my balance and not get drawn into the inferno I can somehow make a positive contribution toward illumination. I'm not a believer in the straitjacket of karma. People have free will, they can make choices. They should be making choices that enhance their personal and our collective well-being.

But people are kept ignorant of their freedom. Indeed they are actively brainwashed into believing that their well-being is linked to subservience to the continued dominance of the corporate culture, or religious institutions, or Bushism, etc. Foolish apes.

Compassion stings. But compassion is the doorway for liberation of all sentient beings, including ourselves.

No mystical mumbo-jumbo. It's just one of those immutable facts of being. The Tibetans and some other Buddhists have been navigating these spaces of the psyche for centuries. Love, joy, compassion, equanimity are not just some philosophical goals, but are actual transformative energy centers. Good places to hang out.

What a different world it would be if people were raised up seeking those pathways, rather than aspiring to go to Disneyland, to watch the game, to get rich, to get laid, etc.

There has been much hoodoo lately about North Korea's Kim Jong Il threatening to launch a fire-penis capable of hitting the U.S., and of Bush huffing and puffing about how we have our own fire-penises capable of shooting down any incoming. Accordingly, Lamplighter thought it appropriate to share this bit of pithy observation sent by Lantern-Lighter John Van Couvering:

"SPEAKING OF STUPID - Loonies in North Korea decide to show world they are invincible mighty nation under Dear Leader's guidance and set up to test fire Galaxy Buster Interplanetary Very Amazing Rocket. Loonies in Washington go berserk with eye popping rage at this impertinence, instead of falling down laughing as any sane person would, and order Invincible Never Miss Staggeringly Wasteful Anti-ballistic Missile to be readied in response.

"Dear Leader pushes button, band plays fanfare, stadium full of stooges chant his praises, harmless rocket with dummy warhead soars up over North Pacific. Deep in command bunkers grim-faced sweating generals stiffen in alarm, Dubya utters secret code words to authorize ABM to launch and destroy this threat to civilization as we know it, silos snap open, ultra high tech rockets leap into the sky.

The wonky ABMs miss their target by 10 miles as usual. The half ass NK missile blows up all by itself. The world sees not one but two delusional emperors with their pants around their ankles, prancing around huffing and puffing and falling down every time they swing at each other. North Korea is a pathetic joke, but how are we different?"

Uh. . .Dear Leader can pronounce "nuclear?"

Stella Zadeh
Stella Zadeh was a TV talent agent specializing in handling producers at the end of her life, but I knew her as a city editor at the L.A. Herald-Examiner in the early '80's. She was a brilliant and speedy editor then, who could write accuracy and focus into a sentence or paragraph with a couple of deft changes. Usually while simultaneously speaking to the reporter who wrote the story, carrying on a phone conversation with another reporter, and eating her dinner. She was a lovely woman and a good person who treated you fair and square. Maybe that's why she was so often given lousy shifts while other far less qualified women and men rose to positions of authority at that paper. Stella was all business. She didn't play games. She wanted the story, she wanted it fast, she wanted it interestingly written, and she wanted it accurate. We covered a lot of hard news stories of the ilk that hardly matter a day or two after they are written, and we did a good job of it. We shared mutual respect, mutual priorities, and a lot of laughs. That she only got 58 years in this life, which ended June 7, is a crime against humanity.---RR.
There is a new piece on the great Kurt Vonnegut in Rolling Stone, in which he calmly predicts the end of humankind based on the usurping of fossil fuel. Which prompted these observations from reader "Doc:"

"How can any human be so dispirited and remain alive? It can't be fun, unless Vonnegut has some genetic immunity to his own words and thoughts. Maybe if you are the one thinking it up and saying it, the message isn't as destructive of hope. I think humans will stumble along this rutted downhill track for centuries yet, I don't think anything cataclysmic will happen (or at least not so cataclysmic as to obliterate civilization such as it is). It is important to believe Vonnegut because of the motivational force of his ideas, though. A healthy halving of the human population through disease and starvation will leave a manageable group with sufficient technology to prosper on vastly reduced hydrocarbon use. I think this is coming. See the story on suicide epidemic in India because of continuing drought and reduction of government subsidies to farmers? Galapagos said it straightest. With its hopeful Darwinianism. Sounds like Vonnegut now looks at Bush as a symptom rather than as the disease. Western art largely freed itself from the shackles of religion 250 years ago. There ought to be signs of it reemerging as a dominant artistic force if the marching legions of the fearful/devout are as powerful as they are billed. Would be interesting if France wound up the last preserve of laissez faire humanism, as the Americo neo-inquisition warms up its torture machines. There is something to be said for a sense of history."

John Lennon “persevered through relentless absurdity,” as per the Rip Post motto, and attempted to turn his fame and wealth into a means of generating human cooperation. Lamplighter remembers it all too clearly, and how so many churlish souls found Lennon’s high profile “commercial campaign for peace” to be over-the-top.

It is now fairly apparent that no campaign for peace can be too over-the-top. How many persons in Lennon’s position, in terms of wealth and fame, have devoted themselves to such constructive matters? Bill and Melinda Gates perhaps head up the short list.
For this---for turning his life into an anti-war campaign---Lennon was spied upon by the United States government and threatened with deportation. He and wife Yoko Ono were famously tailed, bugged, harassed, and frightened by government spooks under orders from Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.

As with Lennon, peace groups today across the nation are being monitored and spied upon, infiltrated and harassed---by the United States of America. The government has turned paranoiac in its fear of “terrorists,” turning its Big Brother eyeballs on senior citizen coffee klatches and those who wear anti-war T-shirts to Bush rallies. The Neocons who are seeking to remake the world through World War III fear nothing more than a united anti-war front.

Unfortunately, they have little to fear. The anti-war “front” in this country seems splintered, fragmented, discouraged. Many "mainstream" Americans have been brainwashed into a nervous fear of “terrorists.” Others mistake the Iraq madness for countering terrorism, when it has done nothing but foster and increase the number and resolve of terrorists.

Things are not as they were in the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s, when middle-class suburban moms and dads marched in anti-war rallies with blue collar workers, veterans, and students. Those days seem distant, and so does Lennon, but they are about to be a little less so, with the release of “The U.S. Vs. John Lennon” Sept. 15.

See it.

On a musical note, Lamplighter musically notes that the soundtrack from the Lennon film features songs that have been released many, many times before on various compilation albums.

While these songs are indispensible to the film, it seems that one or two unreleased tunes might have helped matters. . .

Oh, wait! There are two unreleased songs on the soundtrack: Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?” minus vocals, and a live performance of “Attica State,” his brave condemnation of conditions at the New York prison.

Now maybe this is niggling, but. . .these really aren’t very unreleased.

A version of “Attica State” is on Lennon and Ono’s “Sometime In New York City," and to call “How Do You Sleep?” minus vocals “unreleased” is almost dishonest. With vocals, the track has been availble on the “Imagine” album since 1972!

Of course, Lamplighter actually prefers “Sleep” without the vocals, as the lyrics are a very caustic---downright nasty---condemnation of Paul McCartney, recorded when Lennon and McCartney were trading jibes on respective albums. An unfortunate public airing of trivial dirty laundry.

Yet “Sleep” does make for a great instrumental track (it contains one of George Harrison’s finest guitar solos), and one can see how it will work as backing music for the film. But. . .

Why on earth doesn’t Ono release something truly new?

There is no faulting her for the assiduous, relentless, and loving job she has done in perpetuating Lennon’s music, thinking, art, philosophy through the years, but the repackages of existing songs are wearing very, very thin.


There are many Lennon home recordings of unreleased songs. Some are complete (“India, India,” for instance), and many are partial workouts of prospective songs. (“Free As A Bird” was one such partly finished demo, which Ono sent to the remaining Beatles for finishing.) But there are many others, including titles like “That’s The Way The World Is,” “Don’t Be Crazy,” “Don’t Be Afraid,” “You Saved My Soul,."

Given that Beatles Producer George Martin and son Giles recently pulled off the creation of an astonishing 90-minute Beatles “mash-up” score for Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles’ ‘Love’” show, why not enlist these wizards to do something with the Lennon demos?

Why not turn them all over to George and Giles, and let them do something clever and magical? Slice and dice, orchestrate, mash, call in session musicians---whatever it takes. Maybe it could be a suite, including one or two complete tunes. Maybe there could be songs built from several fragmentary demos. (The Beatles certainly did that plenty of times.)
But one thing is guaranteed: it would be new. No, two things. It would be great listening. No, three things. It would be absolutely wonderful, invigorating, inspiring, heartening to hear something new from John Lennon when it is least expected.

The man deserves this, and frankly, so do we.


Ralph Story had an inimitably affable demeanor, on and off-screen. His feature stories and commentaries, often about Los Angeles, were an important part of L.A. news in the '60's, specifically, KNXT's "The Big News," and the weekly feature show, "Ralph Story's Los Angeles." Lamplighter remembers the latter fondly, and it had a bit of a role in inspiring him to later want to write features about interesting and offbeat people and places. Anyhow, LL had the pleasure of meeting Ralph back in the '70's, when he had the unlikely job of anchoring the local KNXT news with Connie Chung. He was extraordinarily gracious to a kid who did not particularly want to do what has really a puff-piece. Story passed away a couple of months ago, but he is fondly remembered by KCET, where he worked toward the end of his career. And he had the good judgement to devote one of his "Ralph Story's Los Angeles" shows in 1964 to the original L.A. Daily News, celebrated on this website. The transcription of that show, painstakingly hunted down and transcribed by LL, may be found here. End Story.

One of the resident "A Verse to You" poets on this fine website, Jack Oakes, periodically drops a line to edify, horrify, electrify. It is with the heartiest Christmas cheer that Lamplighter brings you the latest tiny acorns from Oakes:

"Some schmuck in an BMW tailgated me tonight. When I pulled over, he slowed down and glared at me. I flipped him off. When I pulled out again, he slowed down. I tried to pull around him, and he sped up. I put the brights on him, and he took off. Probably some yuppie swine drunk from an Xmas party.

That's the thing I dislike about the holiday season, it brings out the worst in many, many people. Real ugliness. Greed, a corruption. A hellish darkness of the collective soul.

As for the morons and "Christian" jackasses who rant about the "War on Christmas," well, the Colonial Puritans also hated Christmas. It was banned in England. Read this from the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert Armstrong's old church

"But a truly Christian observance of Christmas does not include drunkenness, fornication, carousing or any other conduct unworthy of saints."

Ah shucks, I miss that old-fashioned sort of Christmas!

"Bad Santa," by the way, is a tremendous movie. It captures the true shabby spirit of Christmas in our modern world.

Here is another take on the history  of Christmas
"The celebration of Christmas was made a crime in Massachusetts in 1659. That edict was repealed in 1681, but in 1686 the governor needed two soldiers to escort him to Christmas services. In 1706 a Boston mob smashed the windows in a church holding Christmas services. Due to the early predominance of the Dutch in New York (founded by them and first named New Amsterdam), New Yorkers celebrated Christmas from the 17th century on, but as late as 1874 Henry Ward Beecher, America's most prominent preacher, said, "To me, Christmas is a foreign day."

LL adds: Which brings to mind that wonderful poem about Beecher:

The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher
Called the hen a most elegant creature
The hen, pleased with that,
laid an egg in his hat
And thus did the hen reward Beecher!

Bush wants $100 billion MORE for Iraq and Afghanistan. Crazy John McCain wants 30,000 more troops for Iraq. The Joint Chiefs don't want any more troops sent. About three-quarters of the populace wants to get out of Iraq. This country is simply out of control. How long, one wonders, will the world put up with it? And in the highly unlikely event that "we" wind up controlling Iraq with massive manpower and expense, what the hell kind of achievement is that? And will the last sane U.S. citizen please turn off the lights?

Oh, the spirits are bright at Goldman Sachs! Oh, the holly is jolly and the gentlemen merry. Ladies, too! The outfit made $9.34 billion this year, the most in Wall Street history---so much that it is setting aside $16.5 billion for salaries, bonuses and benefits for employees. (Either that or share a cell with Jeff Skilling.) Now, we checked with reputable mathematicians, and we think a billion dollars is a lot more than is made by Your Illuminator, but so what---Goldman Sachs deserves every penny. After all, these are the investment bankers who arrange mergers and acquisitions or sell corporate stock to investors---you know, all those mysterious things that happen to a people with lots of money. Why, there's a merger industry! Did you know that? I'll bet you did, and Lamplighter was the only one in the dark here. That's correct, these are people who help corporations swallow one another up, and make everything so wonderfully chaotic and mercenary in our world! Cynical? Moi? Nah, LL wishes all investment bankers great happiness through all their massive material wealth. They're neat people! Why, here is a quote from a nice lady investment banker named Pamela Liebman in the NYT coverage: Investment bankers, she said, "work hard and want to live well." You bet. Merging is hard work! And everyone aspires to live well, especially in Watts and Compton. Ms. Liebman, the chief executive of the Corcoran Group, a residential brokerage, gives us a little insight into the personality of the average investment banker: he or she, she said, is usually interested in buying a luxury apartment in Manhattan or a second or third residence elsewhere. Hey, so is LL! And wouldn't you know it? Lots of people seem to really like investment bankers! Why, the folks at BMW of Manhattan opened a showroom at 67 Wall Street just so investment bankers would not have to take all that nasty time to travel uptown to its main sales and service operation at 57th Street and 11th Avenue! Wow. So when you are wrapping the one or two presents you went into hock to buy for your kids to put under the plastic image of a Christmas tree stuck to the wall above the TV, just remember---at least the investment bankers at Goldman Sachs are having a swell holiday season!


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: anyone who would take a job as a parking cop is fundamentally deranged. There are any number of sicknesses involved here, beginning with a simple desire to exert authority. There are also elements of sadism, obviously, as their very job is causing problems and much unpleasantry. Would you like a job based on causing pain? (Dentists excepted?)

Yes, the arrogant and rich among us frequently park illegally, because they don’t give a damn, and they deserve the tickets. But they are in the minority of those who find the little flapping pinkies under their windshield wipers. Typically, recipients are those who emerge from a movie five minutes after a meter expired, or who put quarters in meters that do not register them---or those who park in 40-minute parking zones that are right next to four-hour parking zones and have identical signs except for the zero.
Typically, they are also people who cannot afford to pay the fines.


Lamplighter’s significant flame once parked perfectly between two red zones, with barely inches to spare on either side. It was a masterful job. Yes, she was blocking a handicapped access curb---but the handicapped access was 100 percent blocked by a construction fence and scaffold. Did she get a ticket? Does a dog scratch its ass? Did she fight the ticket? Does a cat have a scratchy tongue? Did she win? Oh sure, and rabbits don’t wiggle their little pink noses.

Which brings up the latest astounding ploy used by Parking Nazis. This one really leaves the tongue lolling, the head rolling around the shoulders, the eyeballs pinwheeling.

Get this:

LL observed a woman pull into a metered parking space in Westwood one afternoon. Two hour parking. She emerged from the car and put lots of money in her meter, went away for a while, and came back to find a flapping pinkie under her windshield wiper.

No, her meter had not expired.

No, she was not parked during a “no parking” period for street cleaning.

No, she was not partly into a red zone behind her.

Ready? She was not exactly in the little white-painted corners delineating the parking space. Her rear tire was about four inches past one of the corners.

This was not even Your Illuminator’s business, but I remain outraged.

These parking cops are just sick at the very core of their being.

From Lantern-Lighter Jack Oakes:

"Meanwhile African-American personages are languishing in misery, crime, sickness, despair, ignorance, poverty, violence and the best Jesse and Sharpie can come up with is to rant about some has-been sitcom actor's psycho outburst at a comedy club. I have a dream. They don't have a clue."

Lamplighter's in-box lit up at the receipt of yet another comment by the brilliant, redoubtable lantern-lighter Mycroft, and yet. . .LL found his luminous self somewhat in rare opposition to Mycroft on the issue of Don Imus, or "Anus," as Howard Stern more properly refers to him. Following is a two-part point-counterpoint by Mycroft and Your Illuminator on this sad topic of Imus's use of the term, "nappy-headed ho'" on his radio "program."

Mycroft: The only interesting thing about the Don Imus brouhaha is how off-base all the commentators are. His remarks aren’t so shocking. After all, disparaging minorities is as American as the KKK (or current iteration of same -- the evangelicals). Yet the gentleman is excoriated for his off-the-cuff revolting reference to a group of African-American women. Like all good little racists who are found out, Imus is back-peddling like crazy and apologizing for his words, hoping to be corporately forgiven so he can continue his multi-million dollar good times.

Note that Imus is not apologizing for his thoughts, however. Only for his statement. And the critics are not condemning him for his thoughts. They are only condemning him for his statement. It is as if a statement can exist without any conscious thought to form the words and accompanying decision to mouth them.

What Imus should be apologizing for is not for having made a racist statement, but rather for harboring the racist thoughts that his words gave expression to. He is saying that he won’t make such statements any more, and you can bet your money he won’t. But he is not stating that he won’t think such thoughts any more, and that is because he will be thinking them (probably more intensely than ever). And you can bet your bottom dollar that Imus is all the more convinced that his racism is well-founded, because of the his “persecution.”

Of course he won’t make such comments in the future, but he will think them. He has betrayed his racist core beliefs – core beliefs that have subtly colored his every broadcast in the past and will color every broadcast in the future. The issue as far as his bosses are concerned is whether Imus will abstain from making such comments in the future. Of course he will. But the issue should be whether it is right and proper to put a racist on the air, even if the ugliness lurking inside him isn’t overtly expressed again.

Because that sublimated racism will be expressed in everything he does and says, in his judgments regarding on-air content, in his political positions avowed. Having racists on the air isn’t exactly novel – exhibit “A” is Rush Limbaugh, and “B” through “Z” are the multitude of television evangelists shearing their respective flocks (and darn near everyone at FOX news). But there is no need to continue the franchise of another small-minded hater if you can remedy the situation. Kick his ass off the airways.

Lamplighter agreed with much of the above, and noted to Mycroft that while Imus saying "nappy-headed ho's" is terribly objectionable, an African-American radio host with an "outrageous" format could say the same words with impunity, although possibly not when intended for members of a college basketball team. (Imus was fired for using this stupid phrase in reference to the Rutgers women's basketball team.) Few would raise a fuss, with the possible exception of Bill Cosby, who understands that dignified comportment brings about respect, no matter one's race or ethnicity. Mycroft replied.

Mycroft: Your comment raises THE issue, doesn’t it? I think the issue is whether or not the words uttered betray racism. When the words are used by any of the army of really despicable “musicians,” auteurs, directors, and the criminal/criminal-adoring elements of the black (and other communities), the words are not taken as evidence of racism. They are taken as patois, as jargon, and shorthand trendy identifiers, as disrespectful misogyny. But they are not taken as evidence of the disavowed racist convictions that dominated most of the white portion of our society over the last 200 years.

So why isn’t Imus being given the same free ride as all the others? Because from his mouth, those words betray the same racist sentiments that the Bushie boys secretly harbor but are smart enough not to say. Because from his mouth, the words betray the elemental twisted mind-state that allowed blacks to be found by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Taney to be “non-humans” and therefore property to be owned like hogs and goats (Dred Scott decision, circa 1848).

This morning Jim Rome was making your point, asking why all users of such language aren’t subjected to the same firestorm of condemnation as Imus. The answer is because society is immensely complex, and there is no black and white. You can’t call somebody a “queer” because it carries too many years’ worth of black, ugly baggage when you do. A queer can call a queer a queer, however, because out of a queer’s mouth the word queer doesn’t carry this baggage, it is not meant to be condemnatory.

While it is an identifier, it is not a condemnifier (Don King, where are you). Imus’ best argument is that he was only trying to be edgy, to adopt the patois of the hip community, to be on the edge and show that he was up with the times, and not to negatively characterize the women he spoke of. But he is the wrong guy, mischaracterizing the wrong women, in the wrong year, and the words sounded too much like the auctioneer’s on the block in New Orleans 170 years ago.

Lamplighter responds:
Mycroft is minimizing an important, if not salient point: When African-Americans use vile rap-lingo like "ho'", it is not harmless. It is not inoffensive. It is not benign merely because it is "patois," and not intended to be racially condemnatory. It is still condemnatory, belittling, reductive. For gays to use "queer" and blacks to use "ho" and, more to the point, "nigger," only serves to harm them en masse, as a minority in a society dominated by whites (and soon, numerically, latinos.) Dunderhead whites think, "If they call themselves 'nigger,' then they must be niggers!" And "If they call themselves 'queer,' then they must be queers." So the use of these terms by African-Americans and gays only serves to worsen their position, and solidify existing racism among whites.

Excusing this language as slang or dialect is a piss-poor excuse for employing it at all. LL does not go around referring to himself and other whites as "white trash." Why must blacks refer to themselves as "niggers?" How did it ever, ever become fashionable for African-American men to refer to women commonly as "whores?" This is not only undignified, but it suggests a disregard for civilization, if not sheer hatred.

Speaking of subliminal messages, what subliminal---and overt---messages are conveyed to young people of all races when blacks refer to themselves as "niggers" (or "niggahz") and black women as "ho's?" Hint: the net result is not constructive.

Imus might be a racist, or he might have been using language commonly used by blacks, in an effort to be au courantly outrageous. We don't know. His worst offense is that his employment of this language stokes racial hatred, whether he intends it or not. His second worst offense is that he is not funny. Never was. In the country today, we hear racial animosity---overt and implied---constantly from all sides. It's hard to tell, often, whether it is intended as comedy or assault, as animosity and division has become the new American Way in the Era of Bushcheney. That Al Sharpton and the political correctness police jump all over a dumb creep like Imus, but do nothing when similar language is used by black entertainers, and especially by rappers whose "poetry" is rife with crass references to sex---including raping and sodomizing "ho's"---is repulsive. Sharpton and the P.C. cops are hypocrites in this regard, and their position does society at large no more good than Imus has done.

Bill Cosby remains the lone voice of reason on these sordid matters, at least in terms of African-American public figures.

Lamplighter out.

This crap with Ray McGovern, the ex-CIA man who confronted Rumsfeld with some simple truths at a photo-op press con(ference), is sickening. Forget that McGovern knows his Iraq stuff, and exposed the lies, half-truths, and obfuscations that define Rumsfeld’s star-spangled blather. That’s all easy to see for anyone being truthful with himself or herself---which, of course, eliminates much of the right-wing.

The sad, frightening, and otherwise scary part of all this is that McGovern was going to be hustled out of the room---even though he was merely asking questions, and quoting Rumsfeld to his face. 

It is un-laughably commonplace that this administration screens dissenters out of photo ops, and routinely has goons carry them out when they dare to get a ticket and legally attend. Or even arrest them, as was the case when Cindy Sheehan attended Prezboy’s State of the Union message. Her crime: wearing a T-shirt calling for peace.

Yes, peace has become a crime under Bush the Imperious.

In this instance, Rumsfeld played to the cameras by calling the goons off McGovern, and at one point snidely remarked that the man---who dared to use the “lie” word---was getting a lot of good air time. Oh, how wonderful of the secretary to allow a mere U.S. citizen to question him!

Here is McGovern's comment about the scene to DemocracyNow!:

"Well, curiously enough, a very large man came down with a white coat on, and he stuck his elbow into my chest and started pushing me back. And I pushed back, literally and figuratively. And it was the moment of truth. Would Don Rumsfeld want me thrown out of there, having asked in a very civil manner simply pointed questions, or would he ask them not to remove me? He chose the wiser course. I first thought that this was him being gracious, but when I thought of the P.R. debacle it would have been for him to have me removed after simply posing these questions, which nobody else has the guts to pose him, that he chose the wiser course from a P.R. point of view, as well."

But the Jackoff of the Week Award goes to CNN Newsbitch Paula Zahn, who like so many “reporters,” is barely to disguise her shallow reactionary nature as she “interviews” people with whom she disagrees. Watch the interview for yourself, and see what I mean. Note how she wants to give Rumsfeld credit for not having the goons hustle McGovern out!

This is truly the twilight’s last gleaming of sanity in this country.


Lamplighter, who is burning the lamp at both ends with other matters, is pleased to have received the following ruminations from Lantern Lighter A. Pismo Clam:

"The huckster culture makes folks think they are special and entitled to the satisfaction of every inculcated whim.

"But all the while the corporate bosses and their political stooges are sneering at them.

"Jesus, of course, has been commoditized to relieve your every worry.

"The big difference is in the news media. in the good old days, newsfolk were cynics with hearts of gold that exerted some sort of counterforce in the mass culture. Now "journalists" are imbeciles incapable of cognition beyond their immediate narrow experience. Instead of mitigating societal problems, they compound them.

"But thanks to the Internet, independent voices can be heard, but I think mostly that serves the "in-group" and doesn't directly affect mass culture.

"Society is broken in so many ways. I doubt it will ever be reassembled in any coherent way that we can relate to as true believers in the Enlightenment that produced a society in the United States that allowed for unprecedented freedoms in both the practical and intellectual levels.

"But as with any species, the adaptations continue, natural selection plays out. they are neither good or bad, they just are. But as we see around the globe, corporate greed and religious tyranny conspire to repress the intellect and produce outcomes in terms of economics, peace, human rights and environment that are not optimal for quality of life for tens of millions. Darfur is the latest poster child.


Why, given the national repudiation of Bush and his policies, are there no protests? Why is D.C. not overrun with angry citizens demanding impeachment? Lamplighter queried Lantern Lighter Mycroft, and got this response:

"Country is too comfy and entertained. If there were a draft, war would never have happened. There is a deep unstated conviction that the poor saps who signed up for the military are getting what they deserve. This is especially true with admin's top players, all of whom were smart enough to avoid any warfare and are smug and proud about it. This is part of the mystique of being rich and powerful -- anyone who isn't is getting just what they deserve. This attitude isn't limited to the uber-class, though. It is held by most Americans, rich or poor. As Patton used to allude, only idiots die for their country. And the dominant sentiment is that we ought to kill all the Arabs and take their oil, since "they don't deserve it and we do." Any candid poll would show that sentiment about 75% -25%. Bush does not believe that he or America is wedded to the rule of law -- the idea that law must prevail over exercise of sheer, brute might. This is also the attitude of the Republican party, which believes in an Old Testament God who pronounced and commanded allegiance to only one law -- kill the non-Christians, all of them. And it is perfectly okay to get yours in the process, so long as you don't get caught. Be sure to read the profile on the obscure European leader of one of the Soviet Republics in this week's issue of the New Yorker. Even in an age of unparalleled outlandishness, this guy takes first prize."

Lamplighter received this ruminative communique from Swami Gumboyaya:

Funny how these people forget that Jesus was on the wrong side of the ruling and religious powers of the day. Look where it got him.

"What can be done to combat such ignorance? It is pathological. People have a terror as to what is behind the facade of everyday existence. So they buy into whatever convenient group-flock scenario and stick to it like glue. And anything that would shake there faith is viewed as a threat to be attacked.

"The Bush crowd has been adept at manipulating the herd and its fears. They've gotten away with the worst sort of deceit and abuse, they've committed crimes against humanity, against the environment, they've looted the economy, they've trampled our rights. Yet because of the power they have seized over the American psyche, they are stilling getting away with it.

"What new treachery do they have in mind? The nightmare is not over. There has yet to emerge a credible moral force to challenge them. People have lost the instinct for truth and courage. Democrats are craven. The media are whores.

"Lucky us, with our journalistic spirit and the deeper insights derived from our embrace of the opportunities afforded by the era in which we came to maturity, we just can't help it.

"Someone once lamented what was termed my 'existential anxiety,' but I am more content with the great unknowns of being. Maybe age has atrophied my brain's anxiety center. But the big cosmic stuff doesn't worry me. We are "alive," then we "die." That's that, I have no clue as to what that's all about.

"But it still seems important to try to "get it right" while we are here. As the Buddhists say: "Extend benefit to all sentient beings." How to do that? Be kind to oneself. Be straight with those we encounter. Be kind to the foolish tormented souls because they really don't know any better. But their ignorance, which can be so profound as to be insane, is really where their problems, and the world's problems lie.

"How to transform that ignorance in an effective and kindly way? Maybe the lessons of the Zen masters offer some guidance as to how to awaken ourselves and others to the truth. But first we need to want to do that, that must be our "right intention."

IN CASE. . .
You've never looked inside your computer before. . .here.

You know how people who live in a particular place forget to look at their environment? They get so caught up in their life routine and construct that they forget to notice the gardens and sky and kitty-cats and chirping birds? Come to regard it all as just a place to function? This is what has happened to the power elite in the world, except it pertains to the whole planet. Not including those, of course, who could never be moved by the sight and smell of a flower in the first place.

"There is no morality on grand scales. There is only who has and who hasn't. No right, no wrong. Never has been, never will be. This is why Christ died." ---Leo G. Funderburke III.

If it weren't all so insane, it would be funny. Well, it's funny, anyhow, right? How to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, and all that rot, eh what? Here's the deal: Prezboy Bush loves bombs, especially nukes. He loves them verrrrry, verrrrry much, although not enough to pronounce "nuclear" correctly (which remains just astonishing.) He loves them so much that he has commissioned huge new species of nuke bombs built, all with the cutesy-pie name of "bunker buster." Frankly, I think the estate of Buster Keaton should sue for ruining his good name, but that's another story. And Prezboy and Dick "Lon" Cheney and Rumsfeld and the rest really, really, really want to use these newfangled death devices. They're kids with firecrackers looking for a match, and they are hoping they have found a whole pack of matches in Iran.

In the mean time, though, they are going to bust a couple of bunkers in the poor glow-in-the-dark Nevada Desert, which should be yielding up giant ants any day now. The military calls it "Operation Divine Strake," which sounds suitably James Bondish, and has a little Biblical implication for all the slap-happy Armageddon folk out there. It will actually produce a big mushroom cloud over Las Vegas. Now, this particular 700-ton bunker-busting-buggy-bumper thing apparently is not a nuke, which Lamplighter guesses is good news! So don't say we never bring you any "positive spin" on this site! Here's a little dope:

"I don't want to sound glib here but it is the first time in Nevada that you'll see a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons," said James Tegnelia, head of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Tegnelia said the test was part of a US effort to develop weapons capable of destroying deeply buried bunkers housing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

"We have several very large penetrators we're developing," he told defense reporters.

And there is some more good news, at least for Madonna.

Lantern Lighter
Polonious Souinolop took note of one Rip Post reader's objection to referring to Capt. Jack Abramoff, Scourge of the Seven Sleaze, as "Jackoff" on the Daily Newslinks page. (For the record, the RP did this before George Clooney.) While allowing that Abramoff, for whom the word "corruption" is damning with faint praise, is one naughty, naughty man, Reader scolded the RP for using a "vulgar" term. Now, Lamplighter notes lots and lots of extremely vulgar terms in the RP daily, among them: Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rove, war in Iraq, faith-based, civilian deaths, war on terror, etc. But Reader obviously goes by a more quaint and parochial notion of vulgarity, and that puts her right in step with the Religious Right.

Your Illuminator had not intended to make mention of this matter at all, but the short comment from Mr. Souinolop simply could not be ignored, so double were its entendres, so potent and fertile was its point:

"How outrageous that a reader should have been scandalized by your frequent use of the appellation, “Jackoff,” when discussing the machinations of Jack Abramoff. The subject is so touchy that I felt myself compelled to take matters into my own hands and see if I could reach a result with a decisive stroke that would be satisfying to all concerned.

"The tender person in question obviously has taken the term, “jackoff,” to be a slur or scurrilous commentary on a pitiable figure who was only trying to keep upright those of his ilk who were in dire need of support - - and much more. Clearly, “Jackoff” is a contraction of “Jack Abramoff,” and, as we all know, contractions are not only useful, but essential. It quickly singles out the questionable gentleman in question, making him more readily brought to mind at climactic moments of private conversation, at least outside the Oval Office.

"Beyond the mere utility of the term in regard to the avaricious Abramoff, there is also the historical Biblical precedent. King James, of course, was more genteel in his presentation of the story of the first reported case of self-abuse (although I seriously doubt any practitioner ever thought of it as abuse) when he recorded the story of Onan, who, in a moment of conscience, disagreed with the Old Testament injunction that a brother should impregnate the wife of his deceased brother or be stoned, and he paid the price that would have made any Islamic potentate proud (I still can’t understand why they can’t just have a group hug and get along). But, somehow, “Jackonan” doesn’t have the same ring of cachet as “Jackoff,” therefore, we need to look closer, don’t we, Brother Jerry?

"So… that leaves us with exploring the relationship between the terminology and the vermin. As to the former: “Onanism,” often believed to be the practice of the “M” word (Just call me King James), is the self centered practice of providing, in secret, pleasure to oneself without the participation, knowledge, or approval of anyone other than the indulger, with the expectation of undiminished rewards, and certainly without concern for anyone else’s welfare. Hmmm? As to the latter, it sure sounds like Abramoff to me: Seems secretive to me, certainly didn’t benefit those he purported to help, and most certainly was meant to be self pleasuring. Sounds like JACKOFF to me.


Do It Yourself (Why wait to get screwed?)


Lantern-Lighter Hart Pressed sends along this little cry of exasperation, shared by Lamplighter and the few remaining citizens not poisoned with paranoia and reactionary hatred (the entire Fox News viewing audience):

Somehow in trying to keep up with the news, I find that events are outstripping my ability to keep up, or more accurately, comprehend that as Ambrose Bierce proclaimed, "Can such things be?" One idiotic development seems to follow another at such an accelerating pace that I expect to be hospitalized by massive bruising due to pinching myself to determine if I am really awake. There is no connection between the Israeli raid on the Palestinian jail just 20 minutes after Western "monitors" withdraw, right? The Russians really thought Iran would be amenable to reason, right? Bush still thinks civil war is not in the cards when the body count of Iraqi citizens escalates, right?"
Now making the rounds of the 'net and e-mail is this little bit of satire that, when you think about it, might not be a bad idea:

Subject: Outsourcing the Presidency
Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to India as of March 17, 2006. The move is being made to save the President's $400,000 yearly salary, and also a record $521 billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead the office has incurred during the last 5 years.

"We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant," stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-WA). Reynolds, with the aid of the Government Accounting Office, has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively. "We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay," Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed by email this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for sometime. Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India, will be assuming the office of President. Mr.Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, thus making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month but with no health coverage or other benefits; it is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without a support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night, when few offices of the US Government will be open. "Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the American Express call center," stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. "I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President someday."

A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem because Bush was not familiar with the issues either. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. Using these canned responses, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues at all. "We know these scripting tools work," stated the spokesperson. "President Bush has used them successfully for years." Mr. Singh may have problems with the Texas drawl, but lately Bush has abandoned the "down home" persona in his effort to appear intelligent and on top of the Katrina situation.

Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two-week waiting period, he will be eligible for $240 a week unemployment compensation for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid, as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit. Mr. Bush has been provided the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to limited practical work experience. A Greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested due to Bush's extensive experience shaking hands and his phony smile. Another possibility is Bush's re-enlistment in the Texas Air National Guard. His prior records are conspicuously vague but should he choose this option, he would likely be stationed in Waco, TX for a month, before being sent to Iraq, a country he has visited. "I've been there, I know all about Iraq," stated Mr. Bush, who gained invaluable knowledge of the country in a visit to the Baghdad Airport's terminal and gift shop.

Sources in Baghdad and Fallujah say Mr. Bush would receive a warm reception from local Iraqis. They have asked to be provided with details of his arrival so that they might arrange an appropriate welcome.

has always thought that William Shatner is a fine actor. To all who lampoon his lampoonable mannerisms, apply this test: anytime Shatner is on-screen with any other actor/actors, who are you watching?

Well, it turns out that Shatner is a fine thinker, as well. No, he didn't exactly change the world, contrary to what The History Channel suggests in its documentary, "How William Shatner Changed The World." (It which how "Star Trek" technology foreshadowed contemporary technology.) But one wishes that more of the world thought more like Uncle Bill, who shared some heavyweight life philosophy with Associated Press's David Germain:

"I've always had sort of an ironic view of life," the 75-year-old Shatner said. "My belief system is that when this is over, it's over. That you don't look down from heaven and wait for your loved ones to join you. There may be some soul activity, but I'm not sure about that. But what I am sure about is that your molecules continue and in due time become something else. That's science.And that works for me. So that if this is it, you better take it at its right proportion. That there are serious things, but most things are temporal and ephemeral, and you should cultivate that attitude. That joy and love and all the verities are what counts. So I try not to take too many things seriously, and if I find myself caught up in the seriousness of the moment, within a period of time, I'm able to cajole myself out of it."

Yet this has hardly led to blind optimism. Like Capt. Kirk, Shatner is a hard-core realist, assessing crises without illusion:

 "Technology has brought us to this point of self-destruction," Shatner said. "It's the dichotomy of our curiosity and greed, which are hardwired _ greed, because we had to survive because we were always hungry, so we had to gather things, and curiosity, which brought us out of the trees.

"In small amounts, they're the difference between us and the rest of the animal world. In large amounts, they're causing the destruction of everything. And I think technology has put us in a position of destroying the planet as we know it, and us along with it. I'm very pessimistic about the future of mankind based on all the things that are going on now and our lack of will to correct it."

So are you an L.A. Times reader, or an L.A. Times online reader? What's the difference, you ask? Better ask the Times marketing/ demographic shills---er, that, is, editors---who believe there is one. Here's a recent Slimes---er, Times---headline: "Book Casts Doubt on Case For War."  A yawn, right. Safe and dry and who-gives-a-crap. This hed ran in the Times print edition, yet there was an entirely different hed for the same story in the on-line LAT: "Book: Bush Proposed Provoking War."


Obviously Times pinheads think they can snag more on-line readers by being more liberal, pointed, provocative in tone, as they believe Internet-inclined readers to be. How hilarious. Here is part of the weasely Times "Readers' Representative" (now there's a stupid job) response, as sent to blogger Robert Niles:

"Neither headline was wrong," wrote Jamie Gold. "I simply thought that the one headline in particular that appeared on that news story on the website included a voice that might not have been consistent with the voice of the print version of the paper (and in fact it was not, which is why the reader wrote). Editors in both the newsroom and at serve their unique audiences - but they do not reflect a different standard of accuracy."

Chortle! Yuck! Har! Howl! Haw haw! What laughable obfuscation! If it wasn't for this sort of merriment, Lamplighter's bulb would be dim indeed. So you see, the LAT and the LAT on-line "serve their unique audiences." Meaning that story headlines---if not content and placement!---are toyed with (I believe the stereotypical word is "slanted") for different perceived readerships. But cough, ahem, ptui!---they do "not reflect a different standard of accuracy."

Well, now, let's examine that. The print headline points the finger at a book, and the on-line headline points the finger at Bush. Which finger is it, Reader Rep? Sounds like The Times is trying to get a finger in every demographic pie, and is quite willing to play with information to do it. Consider yourself fingered.

Lantern-lighter Zoom brings this to our attention:

An ant climbs a blade of grass, over and over,seemingly without purpose, seeking neither nourishment nor home. It persists in its futile climb, explains Daniel C. Dennett at the opening of his new book, "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon" (Viking), because its brain has been taken over by a parasite, a lancet fluke, which, over the course of evolution, has found this to be a particularly efficient way to get into the stomach of a grazing sheep or cow where it can flourish and reproduce. The ant is controlled by the worm, which, equally unconscious of purpose, maneuvers the ant into place.

Mr. Dennett, anticipating the outrage his comparison will make, suggests that this how religion works. People will sacrifice their interests, their health, their reason, their family, all in service to an idea "that has lodged in their brains." That idea, he argues, is like a virus or a worm, and it inspires bizarre forms of behavior in order to propagate itself. Islam, he points out, means "submission," and submission is what religious believers practice. In Mr. Dennett's view, they do so despite all evidence, and in thrall to biological and social forces they barely comprehend."

From Lantern-Lighter Burbank:

Events personally, nationally, and internationally have proven so headstrong in their forward impetus, that I must conclude that the physicist's Theory of Chaos is rampant and in full force. Logic must step aside as the reverse side of the coin asserts itself. Reason has been supplanted by the irrational, and we victims must quiescently compose ourselves on the couche de pomme de Terre with Bud firmly in hand as we watch the world unwind under the unwatchful eye of the Emperor Bush, the First and Last.

It was amusing to observe the discomfort the administration must have felt at the Cheney hunting incident, regarding which (paraphrased) Paula Poundstone astutely observed: "What's all the fuss about? I mean, the victim and the victim's family have apologized for inconveniencing the Cheneys, so get over it!" But now we have the port absurdity, a Prez who is in ignorance about it, but supports it, failing to recognize it is not the corporation that commits the crime, but the innocuous (can he spell it?) individual who plants the bomb; religious assaults in Iraq (surprise, surprise) that seem guaranteed to result in civil war; Hamas democratically in control of Palestine, and Condi getting nowhere in garnering Arab support against them (surprise, surprise); and now I receive another jury duty summons as a democratic duty. It rings a bit hollow, considering we have an administration that seems determined to nullify the Constitution and its bucolic notions, so why bother with the courts, when the highest court will now underwrite any neo-fascist policy because corporations, not citizens, finance the electoral process. It's not just a sad day for America; it's a sad day for humanity, and it is a sadder day because America is responsible.

It would be wonderful if the world believed as we do: However, the world was not shaped under the social political conditions from which we were fashioned. Just because we evolved after centuries of "rationalism", does not mean that our "benefit" is applicable to cultures that survived under the iron hand that subdued the violent and centripetal forces that would have destroyed rational Western movements, as we are witnessing in Europe's difficulties integrating cultures that have no intention of yielding their identities, and Europe is straining to maintain its heritage as the birthplace of democracy (Remember ancient Athens, Mr. Bush?). When Mr. B. met Russia's Mr. P. and pronounced them soul mates because he could see it is his eyes, maybe we should not have been so quick to dismiss the pronouncement as something straight out of junior high school gushing. Maybe it was a cold assessment of the truth: Democracy is targeted East and West by its own leaders, especially when the coinage is marked with Caesar's image.

And speaking of coins and chaos, allow me to draw upon ancient Athens and her primitive culture, which is as about as intelligent as any pseudo-Christian would hate to acknowledge. The cult of Dionysus, which most American models identify with the Roman Bacchus, simply because he was fond of the grape and its refinements, is misunderstood by that same culture: Dionysus was not a god of drunkenness which American males worship erroneously, but a god of madness: madness that resulted from the fact that individuals could not accept the fact that they were good and evil, male and female, rational and irrational, yin and yang. Trying to proclaim one's purpose as
 to be one or the other would ineluctably result in madness and self destruction. Balance and stability could only be achieved by acknowledging that we are both sides of the coin. We cannot separate the head from the tail of a coin without destroying the coin. Likewise, we cannot separate our opposites that compose our totality: We can only strive to achieve a balance that allows survival of all life, individually and collectively. Consequently, we must observe in wonder, astonishment, horror the events that roil to the surface that make no sense in a millennium that promised the fulfillment of rationalism. Nature will not have it so. Chaos is a principle as much as is order, and it will not be denied. Ironically, if it is given its untrammeled lead, chaos does lead to order, so why should we despair that chaos is in charge? Order will eventually emerge. It will most likely, however, be with a new, hopefully, more intelligent species.

The furor, hoopla, folderol, uproar, outcry over the Dubai Ports World operation of major U.S. ports can do with a little shedding of light, don't you think? Yes, all the talk of holes in port security could use a little illumination. For this, Lamplighter turns first to Richard Knee, who has covered freight-related issues for twenty-five years:

"Most reporters and opinion writers are miscasting the proposed deal.
P&O Ports, the company that Dubai Ports World proposes to acquire, does not operate entire ports; it operates individual marine terminals at ports.

"All the large ports and most of the smaller ones comprise multiple cargo-handling and/or passenger-processing facilities. At most ports, those facilities are run by private companies, some based in the US, some based abroad. At no US port does a single company handle the operations at all terminals. Furthermore, at every port, oversight of the entire waterfront resides with a port authority, which is a public entity; and the DPW-P&O deal would not change that.

"I am not arguing about the validity of the security concerns that Maureen Dowd and others have raised; but they need to be put into the right context.

"It should also be noted that our ports are regularly visited by cargo vessels from the Arab countries. Why haven't the security issues been raised before now?"

And next we turn to well-known Lantern Lighter Dave Lindorff:

"A terrorist hardly needs to get a bomb onto the docks to knock out the city. In fact, they’d be closer while it’s still on the boat. Most of the docks and freight yards are in outlying areas. In New York, the container shipping is all far from the city in the New Jersey wetlands. It would take a mighty big bomb to do much damage to Manhattan from there beyond breaking windows. Besides, the Stevedore industry is so mob-invested on the East Coast that if a terrorist wanted to make some arrangement, there’d be plenty of people who’d help out for the right 'donation.'"

Translation: port security is already a joke, with or without Dubai.

So you think there is no one around who makes sense anymore? So you think that there are no articulate patriots who are willing to stand up for reason? In the face of ignorance, superstition, and fascist theocracy? You might be right! But once there was, once there was. Lamplighter commends your attention to a video replaying an interview with one such noble personage, way back in 1986. You may view it here.

"Could I make a statement about national defense? The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It’s moving America toward a fascist theocracy. And everything that’s happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe. If you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very, very right-wing, almost toward Attila the Hun. . ."---Frank Zappa.

"What I tell kids, and I’ve been telling kids for quite some time, is first, register to vote, and second, soon as you’re old enough, run for something." ---Frank Zappa.

(Preferably if they are not Young Republicans.)

here are many instances these days where it is difficult to satirize reality, because reality plays so much like satire. Here's another. Lamplighter came across an ad for an L.A. Times entertainment writer, and here is the description. It's worthy or Robert Benchley, or Bob and Ray, or Garrison Keillor:

"The Los Angeles Times hopes to add an additional arts reporter to its staff....Expertise in visual arts, architecture, classical music, theater, dance or any combination would be a plus, but curiosity and flair are what's required."

Expertise would be a plus? A plus? Wanted: dilettante who can fake his way writing about anything. What a howl. Guess the Times figures that people who write with "expertise" are just too danged highbrow, goshdang it! Them Northridge houswives are all confounded by all them big words about dancin' and singin'. Yessir, try reviewing an L.A. Philharmonic concert of Penderecki, Corigliano, and Stravinksy with nothing but a little curiosity and flair. Never mind about understanding the music. Or ballet. Or building. Or play. Just be glib and superficial. (Hey, maybe they'll hire me!)

Here's what Molly Sheridan of New Music Box had to say:

"I've never clung to the position that an arts reporter needs to have a Ph.D. in composition to write about music effectively for a general interest newspaper, and have even argued pretty forcefully that someone with so much knowledge would perhaps be dangerously out of touch with the needs of the readers. But "flair" over any need to have a working knowledge of the field you are covering? At the L.A. Times!? Would we let a reporter covering, say, North Korea for a major daily get by with a "curiosity" about the country? . . .If you've never paid much attention to the activities of the L.A. Philharmonic and, you know, attended a few concerts and seen the key players in action over the years, just how interesting can your reporting really be? Once you write a few pieces on the pretty, shiny building, the cool looking conductor, and the obligatory rehash of the budget and the not-dying-orchestra, what are you left with?" (LL answers: Mark Swed!)

"I have to wonder about the business sense at work here, too, where it seems being clever has become an acceptable, or even desired, substitute for being skilled. Ultimately, who will value reporting that is not only aimed at the common denominator, but is being written by a member of the general tribe as well, however stylish the adjective use may be? I might as well call my mom and ask her for the information."

commends your attention to several recent articles in the "Los Angeles" Times, the "local" newspaper which relegates local coverage to section two, is owned by the Chicago Tribune, and edited by a guy from New Orleans.

First is the Jan. 22, 2006 puff piece written by Stuart Silverstein about UCLA Andrew "Joe McCarthy" Jones. Here's the headline: "Campus Activist Goes Right At 'Em." No editorializing there, eh? But that's nothing. The article is an ardent love letter to a "conservative activist." If Silverstein is not a hard-core conservative reactionary, Lamplighter will extinguish himself.

Let us recall that Jones's "activism" consisted of offering students a hundred bucks to expose "leftist" professors---many of whom Jones accuses of anti-Semitism for their anti-Iraq occupation position, not incidentally. The implication, and the obvious decision made by Times editors, is that this is the equivalent to leftist activism. The headline refers to Jones's activities as "tweaking liberals."

Corrupting students with cash to "expose" liberalism in a professor is hardly "tweaking." Demanding that all professors whose attitudes are more to the left than Jonesy Boy likes be fired is not "tweaking." It is fledgling demagoguery, a deliberate effort to curtail free speech by discrediting educators and attempting to destroy their careers for political reasons. This is McCarthyism, textbook. Of course, we live in the era of Crazy Annie Coulter, who thinks McCarthy was a hero.

Imagine how the right wing would react if a leftist kid (Jones is 24) was doing the same thing, targeting "conservative" professors. Think: rabid Rottweilers. There is nothing wrong with conservatism in a professor, and there is nothing wrong with liberalism in a professor. Any more than there is in anyone. Last I heard, students can think for themselves.

Article number two: a feature in the Health section, "Strong in Body and Faith." At least this was a balanced piece by Jeannine Stein, but consider the subject matter: "Christian" fitness classes. No, LL is not making this up. Yes, it's at Pepperdine University, so you expect a little Hay-soos with your history, but picture this: low lights, New-Agey guitar music, and class members in "cat pose," while the instructor says "Imagine God's arms are around your waist, pulling you up." Then she adds, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

Now what this has to do with pecs and abs, your Illuminator isn't sure, but having God's arms around you sounds a little bit racy. And well down in the article, the instructor, one Kathryn Linehan, says "I realized this is a ministry." Yessir, we're jumpin' for Jesus! We're stretchin' for the Savior! A ministry? But. . .but. . .she's not a minister, she's a fitness instructor. (If only people would just do their damn jobs, eh?)

What we have here is just a New Agey yoga-type class all sugared up with references to Jesus. It's another, if subtle, example of the right wing trying to destroy what it perceives to have been "sixties subculture" by subverting it to its own aims. (See Andrew Jones's "conservative activism.") This is a nationwide trend, endorsed and funded by many including Lynne "Mrs. Dick" Cheney, who has helped established college campus conservative groups who rally under the idiotic slogan, "it's cool to be conservative."

Article number three, LL believes, is the most frightening. This was "Grief, Gratitude, and Baby Lee." Here is the lede:

She wanted to honor her son, to celebrate his life, however short. That's why she had refused an abortion, even after doctors told her that her little boy would be born without a brain.

Now it's easy to understand a mother's heartbreak, and a flood of sympathy is warranted for this sad 30-year-old woman, Danielle Hayworth, of Wichita. She was pregnant with twins---one of which had no brain.

Yet it is important to remember that this woman is twice divorced, raising two sons, and was impregnated by a boyfriend. She is a high school dropout (later earned an equivalency) who works temp jobs, and is perpetually broke, supplementing her income with health insurance from the state, federal housing vouchers, and disability checks for her nine-year-old---who has cerebral palsy! In other words, bringing a child into this situation is not the most responsible of motherly acts.

This massive, massive, page one (!) article essentially amounted to an anti-abortion, quasi-religious screed. It went to great lengths to play up the "motherly love" aspect of the story---reading at times like a Pat Robertson pamphlet as it depicted this woman's obsession with her brainless fetus. Never mind that the three-pound "child" could not see, hear, or think, Hayworth was more interested in spending time with it than her healthy daughter! There is a protracted sequence where nurses artificially keep the plant-like creature alive in order that the mother might cradle it for a few minutes before it dies.

The surgeons delivered Leah Jean Crump first -- a healthy 4-pound, 2-ounce girl with light cocoa skin, a frizz of black hair and lungs that let the world know she had arrived. "She's beautiful!" Tammy called. "Can you see her?"

Danielle smiled, but her mind was on her son. "Is he out yet?" she said. "Is he breathing? I want him!"

There are myriad quotes about God in the piece, and how the brainless creature is a "precious child of God," as the biological father says, and how "God has a unique plan," and that most hollow of homilies, "everything happens for a reason." Yet at one point, the article and author, Stephanie Simon, seem to join in on the testifyin'!

Warning of severe brain damage, Danielle's doctors recommended abortion. But Danielle had recently started going to church; firm in her newfound faith, she decided to leave the baby in God's hands.

Call it nitpicking, but unless the phrase, "leave the baby in God's hands" is quoted or attributed, it is the writing---and opinion---of the author. So Simon, and the Times, seeing as this was approved by editors, endorse the idea that Hayworth's decision is "leaving the baby in God's hands."

No matter your religion or lack of same, this is a religious value judgment passed off as objective news reporting.

LL expects to see much more of this in L.A. Times.

Just for comic relief, here is what used to be called a headline from the Jan. 29 Sunday Calendar. Ready? Deep breath, and. . .

"Building cachet by association. . .With sleek elevations and drama to spare, out-of-the-box modernism manifests itself on a massive scale. But when a prominent work becomes a backdrop for blouses or set decoration for soda, does commerce dishonor art or can both come out ahead?"

Anyone who can explain in five or ten words---you know, like a real headline---what in hell this means wins an invitation to cancel their L.A. Times subscription, or at least renegotiate for that $100-a-year deal.

Your heartbroken Illuminator hopes you saw the photo on page A31 of the Jan. 29 L.A. Times, and paid careful attention to the caption. Let's start there:

"CELEBRATION: Anna Kovner, Rocio Romero, and Jamima Johnson dance at Birmingham's senior picnic. Demographics of the school, the alma mater of Michael Milken, Sally Field, and Michael Ovitz, have shifted dramatically in the last 20 years. Two-thirds of the student body is latino."

Well, it's good that the Times has noticed that "demographics" (read: race) has "shifted dramatically" in the last 20 years, but that's not the point of this item. The point is the photo itself.

The caption says these kids are dancing at their senior picnic. What image does that conjure with you? I'll bet it isn't this one: Three girls dressed in tank tops and jeans surrounded by about twenty smiling onlookers. Girl number one is crouching in full "pole dance" position, with her tongue sticking out lasciviously at the breasts of girl number two, who is in pole-dance crouch just above her. Girl number three is behind girl number two, looking as if she is---no way to put this delicately---sodomizing her. With hands on hips and puckered lips.

Yessireee, demographics ain't all that's changed at Birmingham. But to the Times caption writer, this is just all just "celebration."

There are worthwhile articles to read a-plenty---not that reading a worthwhile article ever does much to change anything. But perhaps none is more worthwhile, at least to (mostly male) persons of a particular age, Lamplighter asserts, than this one.

awoke to find this illumination in his e-mail in-box, from lantern-lighter and top-notch newspaper editor J. Pinkerton Snoopington (not his real name.)

It is frustrating to have all this clear knowledge of what goes on and to be surrounded by ignorance and apathy, particularly when part of a profession that claims truth as its goal.

"As for the masses of the people, ignorance
is rampant. They are locked up in their hedonistic pursuits, whether millionaires or street gangsters. As long as they can seek whatever is their chosen objects/stimuli they feel they are validated, and the rest of the world doesn't even enter into their fantasyscapes.

"I suppose education is the answer, but the public education system is a farce and the media is whorish.

"So we content ourselves with reading our little Web sites and exchanging links like some sort of truth drugs to keep us almost conscious, all the while know that the agents of the beast are lurking.

"Maybe some collective action, some "progressive journalists" associations would be of help? Or maybe we can engineer some reality checks, like Dick Tuck, to counter the fascist dork vampires whole currently rule the day. See:
He would also inform bandleaders at Republican rallies that Nixon's favorite song was "Mack the Knife," so that as Nixon took the stage he would be heralded by lyrics describing a rapacious conman.

Those in charge of politics, of law, of marketing are schooled in deception. The rest of us are their stooges and dupes. Escape is difficult, but not impossible.

"There's something innate in our species about deception. The purveyors of deception, of manipulation, of torture have refined the techniques. There no longer is a right or wrong, there is no moral to the tale. It's just the hustle, the shakedown, the takedown. It becomes a reason in and of itself. The great sin perpetuates itself in myriad forms.

"In our time, in the time of our youth, some of us came close, some of us came into a clearing. But the operatives of the game pulled the plug, shut it down, closed the doors.  

"And on our good days, maybe we are left with a glimmer of wonder as to what happened to peace, love and understanding. And on our bad days, which is most of the time for most of us, it is just the rage and the terror and the hate."

has heard of yellow journalism---in fact, he practices it whenever possible---and new journalism and interpretive newswriting and nut-grafs (aptly named!), but literary journalism is a new one on him. It is also a new one on the University of California at Irvine, where it is someone's idea of an au courant major.

Yes, children, now YOU can major in "literary journalism." Provided you can write and punctuate clearly---and well, who knows, maybe that's not really necessary. Yes, Your Illuminator knows that you wish him to shed light on exactly what "literary journalism is," but he's in the dark just like you, and must rely on UCI's own description:

The newest major offered by the Department of English, Literary Journalism, was created to meet the needs of a growing number of students who wish to read, study and write nonfiction prose that has transcended the limits of daily journalism. This is prose that has evolved into a distinct branch of literature, prose that adopts the aims and techniques of the finest fiction.

Er. . .um. . .hmmmmmm. . .Wait a second! Journalism that reads like literature? That's a mouse's footstep away from. . .journalism that reads like fiction! Is Jayson Blair heading this program? Yes, this is just what newspapers need---more hifalutin' self-indulgent self-serious prose from people who imagine themselves to be writers and thinkers of great consequence. Cough. Wait, there's more:

They use as models a multitude of writers, ranging from Daniel Defoe, James Boswell and Stephen Crane to George Orwell, John Hersey, Lillian Ross, Joseph Mitchell, Gay Talese, John McPhee, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, Tracy Kidder, Calvin Trillin, Hunter Thompson, Truman Capote and Norman Mailer.

Now, LL has had a long career in journalism, and while he has no illusions about his abilities, can report one thing here with certainty: no college courses can teach anyone to write like any of the above writers. Either you got it, or you don't.

And um, last we checked, the above writers could be studied in another part of the university where majors are offered in um. . .English.

Memo to UCI: replace this idiotic, pretentious program with one that teaches how to punctuate and spell properly, and write a simple and clear sentence. You'd be doing the world of journalism---and the world---a favor.

There is much talk about "evildoers" and "evil" in the world these days. The term is trotted out regularly and irresponsibly for all manner of agenda-serving purpose---lately by the "Christian" right and the Bushcheney crowd.  But Lamplighter thinks the word should be assigned more judiciously than it has been. Evil, to a great extent, is in the eye of the beholder---and with that in mind, Lamplighter's eyes have lately fallen upon a bit of pure evil that is on billboards all over L.A., and, one assumes, the country. Here it is:

LL can't imagine that any readers require any explanation as to what makes this "evil," but just in case. . .Here we have a situation where brutality and degradation and murder---of women---are presented as entertainment, and what's more, used to promote that very "entertainment." Take a look at this poster and its subtitle, "The lucky ones die first." Yessir, this is just what kids on their way to school need to see, isn't it? The "plot" of this atrocity involves psychos terrorizing the unsuspecting. Yup, that's entertainment! One hopes that films like this are part of the cause for moviegoing to have declined about 8 percent, but more likely, this sort of sordid fare will only spur crowds drawn to brutality and bloodlust. It's crap like this that empowers the cretins to call for media censorship.


Didn't anyone except Lamplighter notice that Presidink Bush's recent speech from the Oral Office featured an all-new style of digit delivery? We haven't seen so many wooden, ungainly, rehearsed, mechanical, hilarious hand gestures since the late, great Pat Paulsen. How can anyone fall for this phoneybaloney BS?


Letterman remains heroic in his ability to make LL laugh, and that is no longer an easy proposition. To wit, and we do mean wit:

Top Ten Signs You’re a Gay Cowboy

10. Your saddle is Versace
9. Instead of “Home on the Range,” you sing “It’s Raining Men.”
8. You enjoy ridin’, ropin’, and redecoratin’.
7. Sold your livestock to buy tickets to “Mamma Mia!”
6. After watching reruns of “Gunsmoke,” you have to take a cold shower.
5. Native Americans refer to you as “Dances with Men.”
4. You been lassoed more times than most steers.
3. You’re wearing chaps, yet your “ranch” is in Chelsea.
2. Instead of a saloon you prefer a salon.
1. You love riding, but you don’t have a horse.

Your Illuminator had the pleasure of seeing the first act of “Parsifal,” as staged by the highly touted artiste, Robert Wilson, recently at the Music Center. Only the first act, you see, because Lamplighter had to leave after that. Made a grand exit, too, singing out, “Wilson is a FRAUD. This is a DESECRATION. Wilson is the apotheosis of ARTIFICE!”

Many of the patrons looked on, frightened, though some smiled. LL also walked like an E-gyp-shee-uhn on the way out, striking strange hieroglyph poses and sticking arms out at odd angles. Why, you might ask? Because this is what all of the singers did on stage at various times. For no apparent reason, after standing completely still for many minutes on end, a given cast member would gradually stick out an arm, as if having a very slow spasm. Occasionally, they seemed to salute Der Fuhrer, though I don’t believe this was deliberate. As I made my exit, at least one other patron appreciated your scribe's protest, shouting, “Wilson is a CHARLATAN!” LL shook his hand.

Wilson must be stopped. Note to persons in the Department of Musicland Security: please arrange to have him shackled and shipped to Guantanamo.

What he did to "Madame Butterfly" (coming soon to L.A. Opera)---all the so-called “minimalist” pose and scenery---was less egregious because it was seen as echoing Kabuki. The cultural connection, you see. But Wagner’s connection to Japanese drama is a bit obscure---no Valkyries over Tokyo, last LL looked. Yet Wilson applied the same Kabuki-esque notions, though considerably less animated. In fact, much of the cast was only slightly more animated than a fog bank. Everyone stood totally still most of the time, dressed in black Star Trek outfits (though several men were stripped to the waist, to please the important West Hollywood contingent), on an empty stage. That was it.

I realize that the story of "Parsifal" concerned the knights who guarded the Holy Grail and the spear that pierced Christ, but I could find no indication of these events or characters in the staging. No movement, except for the occasional slow spasm described above. The lead baritone figure seemed to have a futon draped over one shoulder. The best part was when the iceberg fornicated with the donut. This great big white donut descended from the ceiling, and a ten-foot iceberg wheeled across from stage left (it got stuck on the way, creating a great moment of dramatic tension---in fact, the only moment of dramatic tension), until they converged and entered into coitus. There must have been heavy symbolism here. I assume the donut represented the Virgin Mary, and the iceberg represented Ron Jeremy. Then the Bride of Frankenstein appeared, stage left, wheeling slowly across the stage, for no apparent reason that I could discern. Or was it the corpse of Hay-zoos, in Don King’s wig? These things are just way over Lamplighter's head.

There is a movie in the works about the murderer of John Lennon, apparently titled "Chapter 27." It is essentially a biopic about the last two weeks before this repugnant, defective creature ended the life of one of the most beloved humans in modern history with a barrage of bullets. Lamplighter can think of no potential illumination whatsoever from this venture, which is being pursued by the young human product, Lindsay Lohan.

Lohan probably cannot be faulted for this project, seeing as she has obviously been raised to embrace everything shallow and venal by a society that worships everything shallow and venal. Still, a number of people want to stop this movie, and have begun a petition which LL urges you to sign:

In fact, your Illuminator sent said petition far and wide, and received this response from a regular reader, who shall be called Maurice:

"Shocked and still saddened by Lennon's murder, and not having seen 'Chapter 27' or a detailed, objective description of it, I'll suggest that if we look with an open mind at what led (name of Lennon's killer) to commit his foul deed, we might draw some lessons that can help protect other lives."

Now, Maurice is a nice fellow who does lots of good work, but, well, here is what LL wrote back:

This is exactly the kind of viewpoint that LL finds utterly nonsensical, asinine. What the hell is there to be "learned?" Murder is bad? Beware of nuts? This is another crass, amoral Hollywood cash-in. "Controversy" equals money. Lindsay Lohan, whatever she is, is obviously a sophomoric pinhead who thinks she is doing a great thing by "provoking thought" and "engendering dialogue" etc. This film will succeed very well not in shedding light, but in perpetuating darkness---at least by focusing attention on the piece of dung who killed Lennon. The ONLY angle ARGUABLY worth pursuing is whether mind control was used, and there was a conspiracy. Do I believe it? Not by a country mile. Do I suspect it? Nope. But a lot of people do. From everything I have read, this will not be explored in "Chapter 27." The movie is about (the piece of dung who killed Lennon.) It's about his life! What are we to "learn?" That he was insane? That he wanted to become famous by killing a famous person? Whoop-to-do! What a revelation!

If this one is true, and Lamplighter is not sure it is, well, what can you say? A John Lennon "action figure" is reportedly due in the spring, from National Entertainment Collectors Association. Lennon aspired to be an influential figure, but as far as your illuminator knows, not a figurine. The doll, featuring Lennon in New York circa 1972, will reportedly stand 18 inches high and speak "John Lennon phrases." Take a look here. Um. . ."John Lennon phrases?" LL suggests a few:

"Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye."

"Pornographic priestess boy you've been a naughty girl you let your knickers down."

"I've had enough of reading things by nuerotic-pyschotic-pig headed politicians. All I want is the truth."

"You're still f---ing peasants as far as I can see."

A lantern-lighter sent this our way. It's an ad for a job at the Bakersfield Californian. It's brilliant. It tidily and unwittingly sums up just about everything that has gone abso-damn-lutely wrong with newspapers (Lamplighter rudely interrupts it with comments here and there):

Company: The Bakersfield Californian
Position: Features Reporter
The Bakersfield Californian is seeking a features writer for our Go and Do/Newcomers beat.

"Go and Do/Newcomers?"  Gad, sounds like Saturday night squaredancers, but no---this is yet another feature section raped and murdered by demographers and people who have no business in newspapers. They wouldn't know a plain old good feature story if it crawled up their asses and sang "Mammy!"

Get it? They've named the section: "Go and Do." Wonder how much money and meeting hours were spent by mega-minds dreaming up that one! Hmmm. . .we could just call it "Go." Like "on the go." No no---how about "Do"? Because Yeah, that's it! It's all about "doing!" People doing things! How 'bout calling it that---People Doing Things? No---wait, I've got it---"Go AND Do!" Yes! Inspired! Best title since the LA. Times's Life AND Style! Obviously, some highly paid demographically trained brains decided that the audience out there doesn't want to merely read interesting feature stories---it wants to know what to DO and where to GO. "Go and Do"---that's pretty close to plain old grunting, isn't it?

Lamplighter actually once sent an article to a newspaper editor who sent a lengthy reply profusely praising the article, with all manner of adjectives and adverbs---saying things like how it had him laughing out loud, and what a terrific read it was. He actually singled out passages and jokes that he loved! BUT---well, it just did not fit under any of their demographically designed titles for their different sections. Things like "Upbeat" and "Tomorrow." That's correct, readers, demographers had actually succeeded in weeding interesting copy right out of the newspaper!

Lamplighter has been reading these idiotic names of newspaper feature sections for decades: Challenge, Quest, Life and Style, Venture. . .Don't these colossal fool "editors" ever catch on that they are perpetuating cliches? That they are cliches? That they are pandering to imaginary audience segments, instead of providing plain old-fashioned good reading for anyone?

But back to our Bakersfield Californian ad:

We need someone who can find fun and quirky activities
and then write about them in a way that will get people off their couches.

Don't these silly martinets ever tire of this trite language and self-importance? Lamplighter recalls reading that exact phrase, "get people off their couches," back in 1976 at the Valley News and Green Sheet! You know what, newspapers are for people who like to sit on their couches and read! They don't want to be prodded by some punkass "writer" to go out and take up grinding or body-piercing.

We need a writer who can help newcomers to town figure out the cool hotspots.


Okay, that's better.


Aside from the oxymoronishness of it all, the word, "hotspot" is so antiquated and tame as to suggest a place where you can get a sarsaparilla and glimpse a lady's ankle. WHAT SUPERMARKET CHECK-OUT STAND WAS RAIDED TO GIVE THIS PERSON AN EDITOR'S JOB?

Okay, we've had some Xanax now. You see, this is demographic tyranny again. Instead of going out and digging up interesting stories---covering the community, in other words---pinhead editors brainwashed by demography regurgitate these stooooopid ideas, and enslave child-reporters to fill in the blanks.

This beat is all about connecting with readers, so we need someone with a strong voice in their writing and who is willing to break into the first person from time to time.

"Connecting." Another one of those phoney-ass hoodoo words that demographers love. "Strong voice?" It means "ability to make safe, lame puns." "Breaking into first person from time to time?" Oh, a very, very bad idea. The only people who should ever write in first person are Kurt Vonnegut, the late Hunter Thompson, and your mother. Writing in first person should be licensed and carefully regulated, and never encouraged among newspaper writers under fifty.

Here comes the best part of the job ad:

We do thorough background checks.

Yessir! Can't have anyone lying about that college degree, can we? What this means is "we will talk to many people to determine how much of a troublemaker you might be." Lamplighter once had a nice lady editor (there aren't many) at the San Jose Mercury-News tell him, "You're clips are the best we've ever seen, but we're afraid you might be a pain in the ass." You know what? She was abso-damn-lutely right! And you certainly can't have a pain-in-the-ass working at newspaper. Why, that means that a person might think for himself or herself, and might occasionally even challenge an idea, or an assignment, because it is just too damned stoooopid. (She offered LL the job, but he turned it down.)

Oh, and if you'd like to apply, here is the link:

has bad feelings about 2006. It can't get any worse than 2005? Don't bet on it (unless you are speculating in that current events/disaster game played by what must be the most cynical monsters ever to walk the planet.) Is the Bush administration in trouble? Not a chance. Polls mean nothing. President Cheney and his organ grinder monkey will never relinquish power, and they will not be removed from office, either. Impeachment is possible, but not removal. Your Illuminator is sorry to throw a blanket of darkness over the proceedings on what should be the usual deliciously bittersweet New Year's Eve, but here's a prognostication: these madmen will push the button and issue Jesus a formal invitation to Armageddon before they would admit mistakes or leave office. Looks like the U.S. and Israel are gearing up for an attack on Iran, for starters. What could possibly stop this "rogue nation" from further imposing its ridiculous policies on the world? Yes, some kind of international alliance, but that would bring all humanity to the brink of war. As for the so-called economy, the U.S. is bankrolling itself on loans from S. Korea, Saudi Arabia, China. No one seems to know this, except the monied elite, and they largely approve. It staggers that “citizens” in this country are not out in the streets, marching over the trillion-dollar debt (bankruptcy) alone.  The U.S. is showing plenty of signs of going “third world,” from lack of health care to increasing polarization of rich and poor (and dwindling middle class) and being helpless (or too corrupt) to cope with natural disasters. As for the planet becoming unlivable, that particular fate seems already well set in motion, if not irrevocably so---and is being further ensured by Bush and Cheney "policy." The religious madness---one of many great global madnesses---is only growing, and it is already of titanic proportion. The media reinforce a popular culture that picks pockets by manipulating the lowest common denominator animal responses, and guess what---people behave more like beasts. Of course, there is hope, you know. Root for the viruses! One or two good ones could knock out two-thirds of the world population, and things might calm down for another century or so. Meanwhile, hang on to your hats, or as the great Robert Hunter sang, "Keep your head upon your neck/ it's not to late for that/ even though the winds of change have blown away your hat. . ."

It was just a bit too much---all too much, as George Harrison sang---for Lamplighter to write about this terrible, terrible 25th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. The Rip Post has put together a special page with many links and photos, for faithful readers who are similarly saddened. The only solace in all this would seem to be that Lennon's presence remains gargantuan, and continues to inspire good things. One wish: that the haggling over Lennon's legacy between Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono would cease. Both have defensible positions, but it has become depressing and unseemly. Lamplighter would propose at least publicly burying the hatchet, and keeping business negotiations behind the scenes. A magnificent way to put the acrimony to rest would be for them to agree that Paul and Ringo get together to finish the last simulated Beatles reunion song from 1995, Lennon's "I Don't Want to Lose You." This was one of the last songs the man ever wrote. As has been reported, a working version exists with all four Beatles. With added lyrics, a bit of polishing, and a good producer (our choice, if George Martin is unavailable: Mark Hudson), this would be a lovely and touching denouement to the too tragic Beatles saga. As Yoko herself put it, in explaining why she gave the demo of the song to the three remaining Beatles in the first place: "I thought, this was a song which would release people from their sorrow of losing John. By listening to the song, they will eventually be able to release their sorrow and arrive at an understanding that, actually, John is not lost to them. . . . Paul, George and Ringo lost a great friend as well. If they sung this song from their hearts it would have helped many people around the world who felt the same." So why not finish it? For now, on this anniversary, Lamplighter will quote from "Here Today," McCartney's lovely tribute song for Lennon:

 "But as for me, I still remember how it was before."

"The present day composer

refuses to die."
--FZ 12/21/40-12/4/93

Frank Zappa, who would have turned 65 Dec. 21, has been gone for twelve years. For a while there, it almost seemed as if his legacy was in neglect. Only a tiny fraction of scores of albums' worth of his unreleased music has been issued so far by the Zappa Family Trust. The FZ vault not only includes a great many live recordings, but studio material from the '60s Mothers of Invention period. There are, in the words of one who has plumbed the Zappa vault, entire albums of unreleased original music from that period. Coupled with live recordings, there are reportedly enough albums to put out one a year for the next hundred. A horrifying thought for the Christian Right, but not at the current snail's pace of releases. Yet there is a Frank revival underway anyhow, with the ZFT's "Joe's Corsage" series, all manner of lavishly produced bootleg albums springing up in the past year, various groups releasing tribute albums (including the Ensemble Modern, which recorded one of the last Frank-supervised projects, "The Yellow Shark"), and the enormously popular annual Zappanale festival in Europe. Then you have the tireless labor of love that is the Florida- based Bogus Pomp, a superb ensemble dedicated to Zappa music (and the most accurately realized, to these ears.) So you can't keep a dead man down, apparently. But one question casts a shadow on Lamplighter's marginal rejoicing here: what has become of the last three albums that Frank supervised? There was the disc of guitar solos from his tours, "Trance-Fusion" (which FZ played for LL, who found it en-Trancing), and the strange and wonderful "Dance Me This," which features (together on one track) Tuvan throat-singers, The Chieftains, and the late Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Finally, there was Frank's dream project: he supervised Ensemble Modern in recording the entire works of avant-garde composer Edgard Varese, his primary musical inspiration. The man almost literally got up off his deathbed to realize this project, yet year after year, there is no indication that it will ever be released. Why?

From Lantern Lighter Jack Oakes:
The nation is afflicted by two loathsome classes of people: "the takers" and the "gimme people."

The Republican constituency is "the takers." The Democrats represent the "gimme people." Today's politics consist of pandering to one group or the other, with the rest of us getting screwed by both.

No wonder the United States is becoming a failed nation and a menace to peace, prosperity, human rights and the environment. There is no sustaining vision of what a good society should be and no will to achieve it.

(Feel better now, folks?)

This came to LL by e-mail. It's veracity cannot be attested to (now that's bad phrasing!), and the source is unknown, but what the hell. It was too amusing to pass up.

Q. What is the shortest English sentence in which all the letters of the alphabet are used? – H.L., Baxley, Ga.

A. The shortest sentence I could find is "Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz."

Listen! I mean, really---listen. That's the whole point of music, and that's the whole point of Suzy. Well, when she isn't teaching yoga, I suppose. Suzy Williams is certainly THE great underground torch/jazz/cabaret/madcap chanteuse in L.A.. You've seen her guerilla flyers stuck here and there (by husband Gerry "Pxl This" Fialka)---promoting Suzy solo and Suzy with sometimes accompanist Nick Ariondo on accordion. (Nick gives that beast its best name since Clifton Chenier.) Now Suzy has taken up with Bill Burnett,  Kahlil Sabbagh and Ginger Smith, and for some reason, they are singing the music of the Mamas and the Papas. Well, as Jerry Garcia once told Lamplighter when LL remarked about the Grateful Dead singing Beatles songs, "Well, the Beatles aren't singin' 'em!" They call themselves The Backboners, and you can see them for free Sunday, Jan 15,  from 10a.m.-1p.m. at the Santa Monica Farmers Market (corner of Main & Ocean Park. 310-306-7330.) And Wed., Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at Sponto Gallery, 7 Dudley Ave, Venice, 310-306-7330. Then you can keep checking with Genghis Cohen in Hollywood (323 653 0640) to find out the next evening Suzy quaffs a martini, exuberantely declares, "Oh, boy, I get to live and breathe and sing another day!" and then delights the daylights out of you. Jane Monheit might have some chops, but she's too much of a pup to understand what she's singing about. Suzy has the way. Meanwhile, you can listen to Suzy HERE.

By the way, as Your Illuminator approached Sir Beatle’s concert last week at Staples Center, there was a “Paul McCartney Custom Lexus” out front---some dumbass car with his bass guitar superimposed. It was being offered as a prize. (Sir Regular Guy's tour was sponsored by Lexus and Fidelity Savings.) So there it was, rotating on some elevated platform while a lackey dusted it off (really), gawkers staring as if it were a deity. And I kid you not---blasting from all the loudspeakers as Lamplighter approached: “I don’t care too much for money/ money can’t buy me love. . .” 'Nuff said.


heard from old friend Don Van Vliet, once known as Captain Beefheart, whose astounding body of musical work continues to inspire sheer awe. Mr. Van Vliet had little to report, other than he has been particularly enjoying repeated viewings of "The Old Dark House," with Boris Karloff and Raymond Massey. The film, which Lamplighter actually sent to Mr. Van Vliet some years ago, focuses on a group of travelers who become stranded in a storm, and take refuge in a house full of maniacs. You know, kind of like the White House. Mr. Van Vliet, also a widely hailed artist whose oil and acrylic works have been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and galleries throughout Europe, is contenting himself with lots of pencil sketching these days. As for music? "I like the music the pencil makes," he said.

read with great amazement the news about Beethoven's head, or rather, a re-creation of his skull, based on several large fragments. Perhaps your illuminator is projecting here, but if you look at the image you can swear a furrowed brow is apparent, and the out-sized cranium depicted in many a painting and sketch. . .

Ludwig: intense even as fossil

Meanwhile, Ludwig has been in the news a good deal of late. If you were confused about reports of a new Beethoven manuscript that was actually his well-known "Grosse Fugue," we cast a little light here. Found in a Philadelphia seminary, of all places, was a hefty manuscript translating the "Grosse Fugue" into a two-piano score. This highly difficult music, described as Beethoven at his "most fearsome and craggy" by University of Pennsylvania musicologist Dr. Jeffrey Kallberg (who authenticated the score) was written shortly before his death at the terribly young age of 56. Yet this is not merely a transcription. Judging by the cross-outs, scratch-outs (which sometimes were "fearsome" enough to puncture the paper) and the notations in various media, including crayon(!), Beethoven was working feverishly (literally, probably, given his declining health) to render the Grosse Fugue more in a piano idiom. For dim bulbs out there, which in cases of music often include Your Brightness, this means he was tryin' to make it sound like it was written for piano, not strings. But don't take it from me---read what Dr. Kallberg has to say here.

Edward F. Ricketts has been described in many ways, largely by his friend John Steinbeck in his essay, "About Ed Ricketts" and of course in Steinbeck's fictionalization of Ricketts in "Cannery Row." Now Eric Enno Tamm, who has written the first biographical book about the bohemian self-taught marine biologist and his pioneering ecological work, adds to the myth. Tamm, author of "Beyond The Outer Shores: The Untold Odyssey of Ed Ricketts," wrote an article in the Monterey Weekly in which he dubbed the man the "Jerry Garcia of American Science."

Ricketts was, wrote Tamm, "a bearded guru who ignored the social and scientific orthodoxies of his time; a progenitor of the counter-culture; an enigmatic ecologist whose pioneering work was initially rejected by the scientific establishment."

The description is not merely glib, it is quite apt. While Garcia's scientific experiences were confined to the empiricism of um, ingesting various chemicals to see what happens, he did have much in common with Ricketts, otherwise.

Both were gifted with profound curiosity and mulititudinous interests; they obsessively took in and attempted to find commonality among all manner of information. Both were drug addicts, more or less; Garcia's preference being heroin, and Ricketts's being beer. Both were inveterate readers. Both were practically obsessed with transcendent experience, Garcia through music and Ricketts through writing. Ricketts's theory of "breaking through" has much in common with Garcia's aim to reach that place where "the music plays the band."

Both admired and knew Joseph Campbell. Ricketts had a life-shaping impact on Campbell when young Joe bumped into Ed on Cannery Row in about 1930, and became part of the rather bohemian Depression scene there which also included Steinbeck. It was Ricketts who helped Campbell to sort out his youthful confusion and decide to become a teacher. Fifty years later, Campbell, the great expert on myth and story, found himself sitting on stage at a Grateful Dead concert, pronouncing the scene a Dionysian spectacle. After spending some hours in conversation with Garcia and the other band members, he said, "The Deadheads are doing the dance of life and this I would say , is the answer to the atom bomb."

Finally, they both died far too soon, but live on through their work.

Just thought we'd shed light on that. . .

A very brave theater owner in Oakland, California, continues his rather prominent protest of the Bush administration and family:

And it happens to be true, folks.

It's twenty-five massive years since John Lennon departed this world, and four since George Harrison, but Things Beatle do not die. Books, records, musicals, plays, movies about the Fab Four abound. There is a new "definitive" biography by a guy named Bob Spitz. Cynthia Lennon's bio of John just came out recently. Forthcoming is a very fine and revealing recollection of The Boys at work in the studio by the great Beatles recording engineer, Geoff Emerick---certainly the most accurate account of how the group worked. An absorbing read and very important addition to the Beatles library. Then Mark Lewisohn, the world's reigning authority on the band, is hard at work on a multi-volume bio (Lamplighter's money is on this one as "definitive"), and soon the screaming girlies who collected Beatles bedsheets from hotels will write their life stories, probably.

Oh, and something called Lindsay Lohan is making a movie about the ugly sack of nothing who assaulted all on Dec. 8, 1980. Memo to Lindsay: cut it out. You're playing a low hand. No amount of "understanding the mind of" crap can justify what in effect is a glorification of this Crud. You are simply fulfilling his wishes for fame. . .
Cynthia Lennon's book is strange in that it recites lots and lots of incredibly well known Beatles history as if people have never head it before. But. . .it provides insight into John's faults that ultimately make him all the more sympathetic a figure---which is probably how she views him, too, given that she never stopped loving the guy. This is apparently a very lovely lady who grew up with normal aspirations of the era---to be a good wife and mother. Her sense of adventure did not include, say, LSD, and this was a bit of a sticking point in her marriage to John, who at one point was eating the stuff like popcorn. John's cruelty and callousness are revealed her with minimal rancor; it is apparent that he was very much a victim of bizarre and wildly warping events in his childhood. The book concludes with the poor woman posing the "If I had it to do all over again" question. The heartbreaking answer: no.

Meanwhile, Paul McCartney, the Keeper of the Flame, comes to L.A. next week, riding high on a sold-out, critically acclaimed tour, at age 63. Lamplighter will attend, of course, and file a full report on this- here site. One of the songs Sir Paulie will do is The Beatles' first hit, "Please Please Me." Imagine that.


The following observations were sent to your Illuminator by occasional Rip Post commentator Gary L. Coffman. They are reprinted here without further comment, as none is necessary:

On November 17, 2005, Diogenes spoke to the American Public and terrorized the Republican Congress into unanimous stupidity.

If eternity has not passed, how do religious zealots know God is

While in repressive China, Bush denounced Diogenes for telling the

The Cheney/Bush administration surpassed “Seinfeld” as the most
watched American television comedy.

Yes, Toto, all is alive and well in Kansas, as it has always been alive and
well in Kansas.

“Egoism”: Basking in Watergate, while “forgetting” Plame, until the book
deal is done.

Democrats heroically voted against Diogenes by negating the Republican
motion to immediately remove American forces from Iraq.

Madonna may supply all the wit and wisdom she has acquired for kids,
since I have none (kids, that is); adults know she has none to offer

With all due deference, I must contradict Mr. Lincoln’s advice to supply
General Grant with all the whiskey he needed to get results. In the
case of Iraq, I would withhold all alcohol to get results! That would
please Muslims and Americans at home.

On November 20, 2005, Diogenes extinguished his lamp in America.

For those of you not familiar with that wacky, loveable military slang, "Willie Pete" is what U.S. troops call white phosphorous. For those of you not familiar with white phosphorous, it is the chemical weapon that the Pentagon says is not a chemical weapons that our country has used in the Iraq invasion. If you get it on you, well, you ain't gonna be tap-dancin' any time soon. And now, an exclusive sneak preview of the new Robin Hood Flour ad campaign:

Here is another preview from the upcoming Robin Hood Flour ad campaign:

It was curiously moving---even poignant---to stand at what was once known as Clover Field, now Santa Monica Airport, and watch three airplanes overhead. These were redoubtable, dauntless DC-3's, and they were making a couple of passes on the 60th anniversary of their birth. All privately owned---and one decked out in original United Airlines paint and logos---the three planes hummed purposefully by twice, then set down for tours. Perhaps a hundred or so folks were on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony for a park and monument to be crowned by a DC-3, the "Spirit of Santa Monica," and all watched with such awe that you would have thought a moon launch was at hand. One elderly woman wore an old stewardess cap and flight pin, and no doubt had once served aboard the 3's. This almost ungainly looking craft, with all its thousands of rivets bearing mute testament to its hand-made innovation, was the bulwark of air travel in the '30s---and as the C-47, a principal military transport in WWII.

How dreadfully ironic that just a couple hundred yards away, there was not a trace of the plant that invented and built the 3---that invented much of air travel, really---the Douglas Aircraft Company. The space that housed Douglas---and employed about half of L.A., probably--- is nothing but a mixed-use zone of restaurants, banks, exercise joints, various nondescript businesses. A very amiable young woman who was in charge of the Santa Monica Heritage Museum table said she had never even heard of Donald W. Douglas, or his company. Gasp.

After a while, the old 3's looked more and more like ghosts, or children grown old who had returned to find their homes bulldozed.


Lantern-lighters seemed touched by the short item about the return of several Douglas DC-3's to Santa Monica Airport (see below), and one sent in a poem written by a friend who much admired the "old Gooney Bird," as the redoubtable 3 was known. The poem was written by Harry Emmett Finch of Malibu for a special old DC-3, sitting in Honolulu in the late 90's, with wings removed. Wrote Finch in a precede to the poem:  "This plane I had flown on in 1945 to the Atoll of "French Frigate Shoals" -- where it would land on a 3000'
Coral strip, on a Gooney Bird infested small coral Island, bringing supplies and personnel." Here is the poem:

DC-3, N36

Quietly she sits and waits,
For the chance to once again,
Fly west, north west, to a far off Atoll.
Her loyalty and service never failed,
To make the long flights in sun or storm --
Carrying the personel and supplies
To a lonely station in the far Pacific.

How often has she seen,
Great thunderheads above a cobalt sea.
And then, at night, with the moon in flight,
Did the exhaust flames of her engines,
Cast an eerie glow along the silvered wings.
What stories she could tell of cloudy days,
And others, of piercing tropic sun.

How sad to contemplate,
That her active days of loyal service,
Are over, as decreed by man.
Does she long to feel the surge of power
Of full throttled engines lifting her
Above the coral strip into trade wind skies,
To fly once more into the realm of space?

Instead, she sits, disgraced, with clipped wings,
Sadly hoping that years of loyal service
Will not be forgotten by those she served.
And though born of another era, of simplicity,
She still desires to fly again and climb the skies
And soar beneath the lunar rainbows --
As she did before.

just viewed "The Concert for Bangladesh" for the first time in about 25 years. Funny that such a brief little event is so hallowed today. When you think about it, it's a no-brainer: play music to make money to help people in trouble. The fact that this is considered such an historic event is sad, really. Shouldn't have been special at all. But that's our good avaricious old human race at work, eh?

Here was George Harrison, who always found the hero-worship and audience madness associated with The Beatles repulsive, taking to the stage again---with a few (unpaid!) friends like Bob Dylan, Ringo, and Eric Clapton---to help out the starving of flood-ravaged Bangladesh. Why? His friend, Ravi Shankar, asked for his help. That simple. My friend came to me, with sadness in his eyes. . .told me that he wanted help before his country dies. . . as Harrison sang. He simply exploited his mammoth fame to effect good. (John Lennon sought to do much the same, with the peace campaign.) There was no air of self-congratulation or the slightest hint of immodesty among the performers---something very hard to imagine today. The concert was just a quickie affair, too, only 17 songs played in two shows on one day, Aug. 1, 1971---yet it continues to raise money for UNICEF and Bangladesh even now. Fund-raising concerts have since become a cliche, of course, thanks to Harrison's initiative and perseverence (he had to battle record company politics and greed to get the album out, as various performers were under contract to different labels.)

The idealism of the Bangladesh benefit now looks so delicate, so fragile, so noble, as the world has since grown exponentially more cruel and crazy. Lamplighter closes with another lyric by George:

"So hateful of anyone that is happy or free/ they live all their lives without looking to see/ the light that has lighted the word. . ."

Cronkite retired too early for Lamplighter's taste. He could have remained a powerful voice and influence in the country for at least another decade, anchoring the CBS Evening News---back when it had some integrity.

At 118 or so, Uncle Walter still weighs in with op-ed pieces, speeches, and occasional television narration. Which is all to the good. As is his prescription for the disease infecting so-called television "news" today. Simple, he says---try covering the news.

"To make it more interesting they should focus on good writing, good reporting and good editing," Cronkite told a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library on Oct. 26. "But that's not what they're doing."

Well, no, Unc, they're too busy making money, pandering to demographic low common denominators, shilling for corporations. . .

You know, "good writing, good reporting, and good editing"---it would be so unusual that people might tune in for the novelty alone. . .

Apparently, if you work for a newspaper, you surrender your right to free speech. There was the columnist at the SF Chronicle reprimanded and FIRED after marching in an anti-war rally---in SF, folks!---and now comes another ugly such incident, and it's happened the so-called "heartland." A part-time copy editor at the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Tim Mahoney, has been suspended for three days without pay for traveling to D.C. to attend a peace rally. What's more, Mahoney has been barred from editing any stories having to do with Iraq. Hmmm. . .maybe better bar all those copy editors who did not attend the peace rally from working on Iraq copy. They're obviously pro-war! Looks like the St. Paul Pioneer press is pioneering for censorship. Lamplighter dims the room in memory of the first amendment.


Lamplighter went to Venice High school long ago, which was famous for decades for being a peaceful blend of races, ethnic groups, religions. LL received some lessons in race relations there, both good and physically painful, that have never left him. As did a fellow VHS grad, who was recently asked by a friend to wax nostalgic about the good old days in an e-mail. Here is what Grad, who shall be referred to here as Dr. Sax, wrote back:

"Nearly four generations of my family went to Venice, my siblings graduated in '56, '57, and '59. I graduated in '71. My niece and nephews graduated in '76, '78, and '81. My grand-niece graduated in '94. My sister is convinced that there was less racism in the '50's than anytime since. Viewed from the standpoint that racism is not a phenomenon exclusive to the "white" race, but a universal problem, she is right. There were things that whites and blacks didn't do together in the '50's, but everybody rode in every part of the bus in California, and my sister, who is one of the genuinely good people that I know, had black friends that remained friends to this day.

"My experience was different. The Black Panthers and Brown Berets sponsored a yearly riot at Venice, wherein mobs of off-campus blacks and latinos would join students and storm the administration building, throw a few trash cans through the windows, set fires, attack teachers, and oddly enough, eventually fight each other on the lawn in front of the school with all the honkies looking on, while the police broke it up.

"My parents were bigots, but the most lasting lessons I learned of real bigotry were learned at the hands, and fists, of blacks during my high school years, who beat on me for no other reason other than the color of my skin. You caught the beginning of minority empowerment in the 60's, and by the time I was in high school, it really started to seethe. I had a lot of latino friends that remain friends, but I have to say that, without exception, there was always a background element of distrust with nearly all of my black friends; something always held in cautious reserve. At high school reunions, this distrust really comes through from the spouses of my friends, who don't know this white man from Adam. Sad.

"In the late seventies and early eighties, it got worse. Fists were replaced with knives. In the '90's, guns came into play. In the '90's, my grand-niece, a caucasian, was part of a tiny minority (when I went to Venice, the school population was an even mix of white, latino, black, and asian). On one occasion, her enlightened civics teacher looked straight at her in class, and told one and all that all the problems of minorities were part of a racist conspiracy by white people, and my niece was in genuine fear of her life for awhile. My brother-in-law tried (without success) to get the stupid bastard fired.

"I went back to the campus twice in the '90's. The first time was for a post-20-year-reunion picnic, and the second time to participate in a reunion marching band for Homecoming in '94. The experience was shocking, and depressing. At the reunion, the campus was trashed; vandalized. The school power plant, which was open in my day, had been enclosed in a concrete bunker to prevent sabotage. Chest high railings that you would see in cattle pens were put between buildings, clearly in an effort to break up the advance of a mob. At the homecoming, the bandroom was a vandalized shell. The existing "band" was a group of 15 loosely assembled volunteers in baggy black pants and white t-shirts. Twice that number of alumni showed up to march with them, and it was the first time in many years that the alumni had heard the alma mater played in anything other than an out-of-tune cacophany. In my day the band was 155 strong, and you could hear it for half a mile. We won the Battle of the Bands at the Hollywood bowl two of the three years I was there, and a former lead trumpet player and I thumbed through the tattered archealogical remnants of one of our jazz band folders in that wreck of a band room; all that was left of those great professional jazz charts we played together at the Bowl. We felt like crying. During the game, I noticed police cars blocking both ends of the street behind the football field. One of the band alumni from '91 told me that the policy was instituted when he was a junior to eliminate drive-by shootings during football games.

"Last year a kid was shot near Venice High, but since he was not on the sidewalks next to the campus (across the street actually), and was a student at a small informally associated campus nearby that serves troubled youth, the event was discounted by the principal of the school, and it didn't make the papers. The racial violence that you've seen on the news at LA campuses only got there because it was blantant, and impossible to ignore. Other stories, like the shooting near Venice High, are happening all the time and go unreported.

"It's worse now than it has ever been."

The allure of country-western music has always been dim to Lamplighter, with exceptions being those who transcend the banality of the genre as songwriters, like Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller. Your Illuminator never cared too much for Merle Haggard, although recognized his earnestness and skill as a songwriter. "Okie from Muskogee" was just too damn dumb to overlook.

But Merle has somewhat redeemed himself in the shiny orbs of LL, which will no doubt thrill him. His new tune, "America First," while containing an underlying chauvinism and probably xenophobia, nonetheless hits the nail on the head, when it comes to the crazed adventuring of the goddamn neocons. A couple of  verses:

Our highways and bridges are falling apart
Who’s blessed and who has been cursed
There’s things to be done all over the world
But let’s rebuild America first

Yea, men in position but backing away
Freedom is stuck in reverse
Let’s get out of Iraq and get back on the track
And let’s rebuild America first

Read all about it here.

David Letterman is Lamplighter's choice for late-night. O'Brien is the guy at the party who never shuts up because he thinks he's funny. Leno is a corporate stooge ever-ready to rely on toilets and sex to please Average Ameriguns. But Dave remains sufficiently caustic and disgruntled. Still crazy after all these years. Yet he is not always in a light-hearted mood, and his show can occasionally be moving, or educational. Here is Dave's discourse on the discovery of a tool-using gorilla in Africa.

Your Illuminator was cc'd recently in a conversation about oh, how to fix absolutely everything, by a couple of smart people. It is reproduced here with the hope that readers might want to contribute something further for a future Shafts. . .

SMART FELLOW # 1: We know what we're against, but do we really know what we are for? Maybe that's at the heart of the failure of the liberal/Democratic/progressive movement, failure to articulate a coherent vision even to themselves, let alone the rest of the world. The right, whether the business right or the Christian right, know what they are against and what they are for. It must be nice to have tunnel vision. It works for them. One segment is on a mission for profit and the other is one a mission to be saved. Nothing much gets in the way of either. Then throw in the overlay of macho, violent, military, control freak mentality, and there's not much hope for decency, communication or cooperation in this society. But at the core of it, those who strive for strength and power are among the weakest and most repressed personalities around, fascist personalities. They overcompensate for their inner failings by running roughshod over what's good and decent.

So they celebrate the troops, the team, the gang, us vs. them. What a shame. Without a lot of effort, we could have a nice little world here for all concerned. So how does one change that dynamic?

: Changing the dynamic will take at least as much time as it took to bring it to where it is today. We have to start by educating kids from kindergarten on -- not only cramming their heads with information but teaching them to think critically, to ask questions, to go after the information that they're NOT getting, to differentiate between what they're told and what's real, and to figure out how to translate the knowledge they have into effective action. It'll be a monumental task, especially since the corporations and their lackeys in the federal, state and local governments have succeeded in destroying the public education system.


Had to print this, from Internet Weekly. It's just too damn funny. And of course, these guys probably look just about like this with their shirts off. . .

It's a race! Surreality is going to the front, but here comes Irony and Absurdity. . .and on the far turn, there's Asininity on the inside rail. . .with Egomania in the pack. . .

You'll recall the Shafts item (scroll down to "Paul and Yoko") about Yoko Ono's remark that John Lennon didn't exactly write "moon/June/ spoon" lyrics, hence his songs were not covered by other artists as frequently as Paul McCartney's? Well. . .your Illuminator should have known this, but someone with better-lighted ears picked off the fact that John actually wrote a lyric that included not only "June," "moon," and "spoon"---but, for syrup's sake---"croon!"

This was in a late home-demo ditty released on the "Lennon Anthology," which found the man playing a jazzy, much improved piano: "Mr. Hyde's Gone (Don't Be Afraid)." The lyric: "Won't be back till next full moon/ so we can bill and spoon in June and croon."

Now, John Lennon was quite capable of writing tunes every bit as sappy as Paul, but Paul's sappiness flowed a lot more freely, hence the common perception that Macca was mainstream tunesmith and Lennon the writer of depth and controversy. While there is sound basis for such stereotyping, it hardly holds up against McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" or Lennon's "Good Night." And a few of John's love songs are as hard to listen to as many of Paul's, at least in this house. But Paul wins by a country mile in the overall nonsense lyric competition, as his solo and Wings catalogue attest. He has, in fact, admitted as much. (And if you really want to get into this, Lennon's "nonsense" lyrics, a la "Hey Bulldog," always have an attitude, and edge to them---while McCartney's tend to be more pure novelty, a la "Maxwell's Silver Hammer.")

Further, it must be pointed out, in all fairness, that "Mr. Hyde's Gone" is deliberately jaunty, corny---almost a parody of something Cole Porter-esque. Lennon no doubt invoked June/spoon/moon/croon quite deliberately as a joke, not for lack of inspiration.

But. . .point goes to McCartney, anyhow. As for the whole match, one wishes for "game over." Paul and Yoko obviously don't trust one another, which is fine, but McCartney's controversial request to reverse the credits to "McCartney-Lennon" on several Beatles songs seems to have been the flashpoint for the last few years of acrimony.

Wasn't there enough sniping between Lennon and McCartney in the early '70's? To have it revived, via Paul and Yoko, is nothing but sad, annoying, destructive. The Beatles' story is tainted enough with unhappiness and tragedy. True, there could be much business bickering behind the scenes that the public knows nothing about, but. . .
Message to Paul: phone Yoko and sit down and iron things out, once and for all. Message to Yoko: phone Paul and sit down and iron things out, once and for all. Give peace a chance.

Read Sen. Charles Shumer's letter to "President" George W. Bush. here.

The most patriotic thing that Hillary Clinton can do for this country is to not run for president. She can't win---not so much because she's a woman, but because she is a Clinton. It won't happen. Remember that the church-rousted vote was the surprise element in the defeat of John Kerry, and it will be even larger next time around. So Hillary would become akin to Ralph Nader, if she runs, as she will see to it that Jeb Bush or Bill "Cat Killer" Frist or some other monster moves into the White House.

But there are other reasons to oppose this woman's run for president---aside from the fact that everything out of her mouth is just more of the same tired cliched political rhetoric crap that you always hear from every politician. And Cindy Sheehan lays it all out. She speaks entirely for Lamplighter here.

One hopes that lantern-lighters everywhere glowed with delight over the story of the discovery of a new Beethoven manuscript. Of course, one also hopes that children stop trying to skateboard down stair railings and that Dick Cheney is cured of lycanthropia.

But anyhow, you must have noticed that a new version of Beethoven's "Grosse Fugue" was discovered in, of all places, a seminary library in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood. This just happened to be a few blocks away from the chairman of the University of Pennsylvania music department, Jeffrey Kallberg, who knows a thing or two about Beethoven, and was enlisted to authenticate the manuscript. (And who, in another life, used to play poker and smoke cigars with Lamplighter.)

The Grosse Fugue was one of the last things Beethoven wrote, and it is, in Kallberg's words, the man at his "craggiest" and "most fearsome." This is staggeringly difficult music, both in terms of performing and listening. And it is every bit as "modern" as the most dissonant music of our time. The manuscript is not merely a transcription of the fugue, written for strings originally, but a recasting of the work for four hands at the piano. Watch the prof and a colleague play part of it here, and listen to an interview with Kallberg here.


says that anyone out there who thinks that Judith Miller is any example of journalistic ethics and bravery is a dim bulb. And that apparently includes the (gasp) Society of Professional Journalists. The SPJ reaffirmed its decision to give Miller its First Amendment Award---apparently because she went to jail in a very crafty bid to restore her stinky credibility.

The SPJ's slogan, incidentally is "Improving & Protecting Journalism."
Well, Lamplighter doesn't have a problem with the "protecting" part in this case, as a free society does not like to see reporters in jail. But on the "improving" part, Miller failed to observe the basic standards of journalistic ethics time after time, from the WMDs, to Oil for Food to Valerie Plame. By honoring her, the SPJ endorses what is--at best--- a shoddy brand of journalism. A real journalist would have tried to blow the lid off the Plame case, rather than to cozy up with Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Meanwhile, the question remains: was Miller just a government dupe impressed with her access to people in high places, or was she a government plant at the New York Times working to foment support for an Iraq invasion?

It helps to remember that this administration produced fake news stories to promote its agenda, and distributed them to TV news outlets. It helps to remember that the CIA has a long history of infiltrating newspapers.

Not to punch Judy while she's down (and those love letters from Scooter are lifting her spirits, anyhow), but she's been involved in odd matters from way back. Read all about her strange involvement with this 1993 story here.
Meeting Laurel and Hardy was "rather like discovering that Santa Claus really existed," observed the late Prof. John McCabe, a Shakespearian scholar who wrote several books on Stan and Ollie. Mr. McCabe founded the "Sons of the Desert," the international Laurel and Hardy appreciation society of which your Illuminator is a lifetime honorary member. This wonderful and beloved fellow passed away at 84 recently, and if you did not read about his rich life, you may do so now

One would hope that all unpleasantry and sadness associated with The Beatles' saga would just go away, but that is probably like wishing for Bush to suddenly acquire equanimity of judgment and compassion of spirit.

First we have Yoko, in accepting a Q Magazine award for John Lennon in London, telling a (true) anecdote about John---in his solo period---once expressing disappointment that more artists covered Paul McCartney songs than his. (Whether this is statistical fact or not is an open question.) Yoko, in attempting to offer comfort to John, noted that Paul wrote a lot more songs of the "moon/June/spoon" ilk---meaning they were more attractive as covers. Here is the quote: "You're a good songwriter -- it's not rhyming June with spoon that you write.''

An insult to Paul? Lamplighter thinks not. She was suggesting that Lennon generally wrote more complex, or at least controversial, lyrics than McCartney, and there can be little dispute about that. Stack "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "A Day in the Life" up next to "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" or even "Yesterday," and the point seems clear. Or if you want to get ugly about it, compare solo McCartney's "Silly Love Longs" with oh, Lennon's "Crippled Inside." And for the record, so to speak, far too many of McCartney's solo songs are lyrically not even up to "moon/June/spoon" par. I mean, "And in this ever-changin' world in which we live in" and "my love does it good"? Not Cole Porter, folks. Complacency has not been kind to the man who wrote such great songs as "The Long and Winding Road" and "Mull of Kintyre."

And never mind that Yoko subsequently clarified her comments, including the rather nice compliment, "I think Paul is a great songwriter"---now Paul has retaliated. Here is part of his comment: ''She's John's wife so I have to respect her for that, but I don't have to do any further. I don't think she's the brightest of buttons. I don't want to get in a bun fight, but she's said some particularly daft things in her time.''

What's more, he made the rather amazing claim that "her life is dedicated to putting me down."

After thus ridiculing Ono, McCartney added that "But she will notice that I attempt very strongly not to put her down, I have respect for her as my former comrade's wife." Er, calling "not the brightest of buttons" and "daft" doesn't exacty denote respect. . .

Well, if Yoko has said "daft things," her statement about McCartney's songwriting is not one of them. Hey, Paul literally did rhyme "moon" and "June." It was in the lovely, underrated early Beatles tune (released on the "Live at the BBC" album), "I'll Be On My Way." The line was "As the June light turns to moonlight. . ." Of course, seeing as this is a Lennon-McCartney tune, John gets half the credit! And as for "spoon," we have Paul's "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," which features the truly daft lines, "She came in through the bathroom window/ protected by a silver spoon/ But now she sucks her thumb and wanders/ by the banks of her own lagoon." And while that is a John&Paul tune, technically, we'll bet our brightest buttons that these lines are Sir Paulie's.

Lamplighter thinks it worthwhile to point out that John's "I Call Your Name" (also credited to Lennon-McCartney) was one of the first Beatles songs to be covered, in a wonderful (superior?) version by The Mamas and Papas, and that, well, it's just hard to imagine Tony Bennett, who loves "Yesterday," singing "I Am The Walrus" or "Gimme Some Truth." It's also worth pointing out that John has written some fairly oh, prosaic lines, such as, "I'm gonna love you till the cows come home."

All of this fracas started a couple years ago with McCartney's request to reverse credits on a few Beatles tunes to "McCartney-Lennon," apparently fearing that future generations would think John wrote, oh, "Rocky Raccoon." Or that Paul wrote "Come Together."

The salient point that is lost in all this silliness is that McCartney and Lennon, together and solo, wrote many fine songs. One of which included the line, "life is very short/ and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend. . ."

And what in hell is a bun fight?

It aggrieves Lamplighter something terrible to realize that a great majority of people OUT THERE do not understand things very well; that they buy the brought-to-you-by reality, brought to you by CNN and their local TeeVee newsmannequins. All of which are brought-to-them-by publishers and news directors employed by Time-Warner, Murdoch, and other corporations with um, no vested interest in how news is presented (heh heh.)  And what's worse, many of those who reject these realities instead buy into propagandizing websites masquerading as legitimate news organizations, and wind up believing all manner of insane and paranoiac things.

It further aggrieves His Brightness that real, actual, credible truths concerning the threats to freedom in this country go largely ignored by TeeVee and major newspapers. That they are dismissed as "leftist" and "fringe." Well, here is one article that presents and summarizes the very real dangers to freedom now posed by the Bush administration, and does so simply, clearly, and cogently. Read it and weep. Then turn off your damn TeeVee.


Chrstian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll, kidnapped by Iraqi rebels weeks ago, has been given a new deadline for execution: two weeks from now. The terms: release the few female prisoners now held in Iraq. Six such prisoners were actually set for release weeks ago, independent of Carroll's kidnapping demands---but that release was inexplicably delayed by the U.S.. What's more Uncle Sam refused to speed up the review of the files of the five additional remaining prisoners. Of course, Lamplighter can offer an easy explanation, brought to his attention by lantern-lighter Trick Knee:

"This doesn't surprise me at all. Allowing Carroll to die will accomplish two things: It will rekindle anti-Iraq sentiment and maybe a rebound in popular support of the war; and, more important, it will silence her. The Bushies must be scared s---less of what she'll say if she goes free."

Seeing as she speaks Arabic, and sought to cover the Iraq crisis from a balanced perspective, I dare say that's absolutely true.

The Lamplighter
loves you, and don't you ever forget it. Your eyes, your lips, your highlighted locks, the way you lisp when you say "this and that," the way you smell after eating linguini and clams, your lyrical nose hairs, the ease with which you never leave a tip, your incessant use of the word, "cool," your fear of opposing the status quo, your ignorance, your bullheadedness, your inability to think past a headline, and the lovely way you cut in front of me on the freeway, with your raised third finger. . .

Accordingly, dears, Your Illuminator is sending you a little Valentine.

does not follow baseball much anymore. Can't get a lot of interest in young people making countless millions of dollars for hitting a ball and running bases and scratching their gonads. Can't stand the big business of it all, either. But your Brightness did follow the White Sox trouncing of Texas in the World Series with absolute glee! First, there was that White Sock that the idiot Dodgers dumped a few years ago, Paul Konerko, who has turned into exactly what Dodger scouts thought he would turn into---a great. Delightful! Then there were the Bushes. . .

Yes, Barbara and George were visible on almost every pitch, sitting behind home plate at Enron Field---er, Minute Maid Park. Or whatever-the-hell corporate name the Astros have whored themselves out to this year. There they were, flashing the Old Glory lining of a jacket for the crowd, or showing up on the (gasp) "kiss cam." And there, of course, was Ass-tros owner Drayton McLane, a big bat in the Texas Repugnican Party and major shareholder of Wal-Mart. (That's two strikes.)

The greatest moment of the series, for Lamplighter, was not Uribe's two superb hustle plays that closed the door in game four. It was the genuinely despairing look on Barb's face when she realized it was "game over."

Too bad she couldn't show the same depth of feeling for all the ex-New Orleans folk camped in the Astrodome a few weeks ago. You remember her remarks: "So many of the people here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

 Too bad she couldn't show the same depth of feeling for all the returning flag-draped coffins from Iraq. You remember her remarks about that:  "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

The White Sox's symbolic whipping of rich, arrogant Texans---including fake Texans from New England---has done the country a lot of good. And made this lamp glow more brightly.

Are Karl Christian and his wacky sidekick, Scooter, about to be indicted on charges of criminal conspiracy? It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Read all about it here.

Read all about it here.

More people today want to see "President" Bush impeached than wanted Clinton impeached on the eve of the House's vote on his impeachment. A new Zogby poll finds 50 percent of the U.S. citizens want Bush removed from office if he is proven to have lied about the reasons for going to war in Iraq.

Lamplighter thinks that's peachy. Read more here.

Now, Lamplighter truly loves Chinese culture, but there are certain aspects of it that just elude him, and actually make him quite bilious. Take the bile---er, vile---story of a China citizen named Han Shigen.

Now, Mr. Han ran what is known as a "bear farm," one of about 200 in mainland China. What happens on these bear farms, you might ask?

Well, they ain't makin' honey.

No, Mr. Han and his colleagues like to poke holes in the sides of black bears---and then stick catheters right into their gall bladders, and just leave 'em there! Why? Well, to gather the bile, of course, and use it as medicine to allegedly cure "fever, liver illness" and "sore eyes." Never mind that this kind of makes the bears oh, uncomfortable. Why, on Mr. Han's farm, they became so uncomfortable that they, well, ate Mr. Han.

Han Shigen? Han, she gone!

There are more than 200 "bear farms" in China, which means there are probably more than 2000. The China government began "regulating" the "business" after protests in 1993 after animal welfare groups protested. Seeing as the government is not doing its job here, one can only root for the bears to chow down.

Lantern-lighter Richard Partlow read of the above incident, and sent the following:
The Bells of Heaven

"'Twould ring the bells of Heaven
The wildest peal for years,
If Parson lost his senses
And people came to theirs,
And he and they together
Knelt down with angry prayers
For tamed and shabby tigers,
And dancing dogs and bears,
And wretched, blind pit ponies,
And little hunted hares.

---Ralph Hodgson

Your Brightness was swilling eggnog and watching the annual KCET broadcast of the big all-day holiday concert from the Music Center. You know, where various choirs and dance groups perform Christmasy stuff---from the Gay Men's Choir to mariachis. LL happened to tune in when the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, or whatever it's called, was on. This consisted of about twenty young men of mostly African-American background strutting around, doing some shtick about how much they would enjoy um, getting to know Jada Pinkett Smith and Beyonce. Then they began to sing. Here are the principal Christmas lyrics:

“I like the girls/ baby baby baby/ Uh! Uh! Uh!”

We kid you not.

Merry Uh! Uh!

Dec. 21 would have been Frank Zappa's 65th birthday. Several readers have asked Lamplighter how Frank might have felt about being 65. Answer: he would have really, really enjoyed finding out. What might he have done had he lived longer than nearly 53 years? Plenty. He would have been---was on the brink of being---embraced by the “serious” symphonic music world. His symphonic music would have been embraced and performed the world over. Yes, this has occurred to some extent, but absent the composer, some of the momentum died. He would have staged operas, musicals, and in fact had an opera in mind when he died, which he had more or less mapped out: "Uncle Sam." He would have put together more bands and done the occasional tour, of course. He would have done all sorts of interesting and wonderful things, politically, things that we can’t imagine. But they would have been things that are badly needed, at least in terms of morale, today.

Is there anything more disgusting, depressing, and disturbing than hot Santa Ana winds in winter? (Well, yes, but you get the point.) All those Christmas cards featuring the smilin', surfin' Santa are just hard to believe. How could the S-man be comfortable in hot weather, with that beard and all that flab? Yessir. . .it's 80 big ugly degrees out, the Santa Anas are gently threatening, the police helicopters are hovering like hornets, the sirens of the city sound in the distance, new graffiti is breaking out. . .Why, it must be Christmas in L.A..

Hey, civics students! Oh, sorry, they haven't called it "civics" in 50 years. Hey, C-SPAN junkies! Remember the Senate? Huh? Remember its purpose? Do ya? Well, then how come you aren't swarming by the hundreds of thousands every weekend outside the Capitol building in D.C., protesting your hindquarters off?

See, the senators---well, most of 'em---have a massive case of amnesia. They haven't any idea whatsoever what they are supposed to do! They've forgotten their purpose altogether! How else do you explain a confirmation process for supreme court nominees that has absolutely no real value at all? How do you explain a nominee saying "I'll be good" and the senate accepting this as proof of qualification?

Well, all the people with Old Glory in their lapels love to get up on their hind legs and quote the "founding fathers" any time they wish to appear unassailable. So Lamplighter will now do the same. Ladies and gentlemen (if there are any left), I give you. . .Alexander Hamilton:

"To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would greatly tend to prevent the appointment of unfit character from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment or from a view to popularity. "

So here's what you do, lantern-lighters! Print this blurb out, then cut it out and paste it in a letter and mail it to your favorite senator with the following message: "Please read before rubber-stamping Harriet Miers as a supreme court justice."

Lamplighter bows, scrapes, and prostrates himself before the greatest of all Lamplighters, William Shakespeare, who had a pithy quote for every occasion! A perfect summary of Bush's methodology of selecting impordunt peepul for high office in our grate nashum may be found in "Julius Caesar," Act IV, scene 1.

Here Antony explains to the teenaged nonentity, Octavius, why he is eliminating potential rivals:

"This is a slight unmeritable man, meet to be sent on errands: is it fit, the three-fold world divided, he should stand one of the three to share it? . . . I have seen more days than you: and, though we lay honors on this man, to ease ourselves of divers slanderous loads, he shall but bear them as the ass bears gold, to groan and sweat under the business, either led or driven, as we point the way; and having brought our treasure where we will, then take we down his load and turn him off, like to the empty ass, to shake his ears and graze in commons. . . . So is my horse, . . .and for that I do appoint him store of provender: . . . Do not talk of him but as a property."

For those readers who find this indecipherable, just make note of the key word, "ass."

(Thanks to lantern-lighter Mulciber for sending.)

It's coming up on Oct. 9, which for any sentient, sentimental, and sane person means it is time to think about John Lennon, who was born on this date. Maureen Cleave, to whom John spoke the infamous "more popular than Jesus" line (well, they were certainly AS popular, eh?), has written a lovely memoir which you may read HERE.  Also: Yoko interview here, Cynthia Lennon interview here, Lennon radio documentary info here.

What was the "president's" latest speech all about? Here the guy set out to inform the public that terrorists exist, apparently, and that they do very naughty things. Guess Bushy Boy figured the Amerigun public had forgotten all about "terrists" because his poll numbers have dropped so much. Meaning that he is losing his grip on Amerigun fear. The "prez" blabbered on and on about how pesky these "terrists" are, almost as if 9/11 never happened and no one had ever heard of Bin-Laden. The speech could have been given in the '80's, or '90's. Weird! Lamplighter's guess is that not only is prezbo trying to get that fear stoked again, but that he is directly goading "terrists" around the world to attack the USA, preferably at home, so as to give him back some good old-fashioned American 9/11 paranoia to exploit. After all, this was the methodology for his foreign policy blueprint, the Project for a New American Century.

News item: Miers, meanwhile, continued her rounds of Capitol Hill. Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, pronounced her ''tough as nails'' after an hourlong meeting with her. Responding to criticism that Ms. Miers had never been a judge, Mr. DeWine praised the breadth of her practical experience in the White House and in her long career as a private lawyer. ''She is somebody who has gone out late at night to get someone out of jail,'' Mr.DeWine said she had told him.

Wow! She got somebody out of jail! Wonder which Bush it was. Well, you can bet it wasn't an anti-abortion protestor. . .

Lamplighter awoke increasingly dimmed over the annointment, er, appointment, of Bush's personal she-wolf to the Supreme Court, pending congressional rubber-stamp.

If the bones weren't chilly enough, your Illuminator had to read that Dr. James "Crazy Jim" Dobson cited Miers' religion (she's a nutball Armageddonist Evangelical) as her main qualification to decide the law of the land.  ''I know the person who brought her to the Lord,'' he said. ''I have talked at length to people that know her and have known her for a long time.''

Makes you want to see "The Dead Zone" again, doesn't it?

Crazy Jim also acknowledged conversations with Karl Christian Rove about the selection but---surprise!---declined to disclose their contents. ''You will have to trust me on this one,'' he said, adding that if he was wrong, ''the blood of those babies'' -- aborted fetuses -- ''will be on my hands to some degree.''

So get ready, world, for millions more unwanted, uncared for, undernourished, alcohol/cocaine/cigarette damaged, neglected, orphaned, wretched human beings born to children, drug addicts, and those generally unable to fend for themselves.

Guess their suffering, and all the grief that they bring into the world, is not on your hands, eh, Jimbo?

News item: Legislation allowing military recruits to enter service up to age 42 and to create a new $1,000 finder’s fee for service members who tip off recruiters to good prospects has received tentative approval in the Senate.

Lamplighter (paraphrasing Country Joe and the Fish): "Be the first one on your block to have your pop come home in a box."

News item: A package of 81 approved amendments to the 2006 defense authorization bill unveiled Monday includes a recruiting and retention plan, proposed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and prepared by the Army, that also:Raises the maximum enlistment bonus, allows people with prior military service to get more than one bonus for joining the reserve, increases the maximum bonus for officers joining the reserves.

More evidence that McCain is as wacky as a Jerry Lewis movie.

Repeated without comment here is the fact that a massive typhoon that recently hit China was labelled "Longwang."


The following illuminations are brought to you by that little old Lamplighter, me. . .

These Supreme Court appointments were not about right-wing social goals, but rather about consolidating corporate power.

The Repubs' noise about abortion and Jesus is just a ploy to get a bloc of votes from the Bible Belt. It's a cover for the real agenda of ruthless greed and domination.

And they do that just because they can, because that is their raison d'etre. There no rhyme or reason or logic. No different than a gangbanger doing graffiti or shooting a rival. It's just what they do. That's who they are. Amoral and soulless. That's what they get off on. "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac," said Henry Kissinger, but this current crew isn't getting any. Miers is described as lacking emotion, lacking "affect." That's the same thing they say about the violent-prone youth. Cold, soulless, asocial.

Lamplighter is working on a theory that most people are really "preconscious." That they are lacking of have vestigial intellectual capacity. They are conditioned by the consumerist machine, brutalized by violence, sanctioned or otherwise. Or they are saturated in Christian fraud. They lack the ability for independent thought or action. But they become rigid in their identity with the larger group, out of some primate need for affiliation. And thus are convenient fodder for the corporate masters, the churchly scammers, the military demons, etc.

Desire is the cause of all profit.

All that said, it's really clear we are wandering a world populated by ignorant and sometimes dangerous people. Fifty years after Allen Ginsburg's "Howl" there are no "best minds" left. The corporation doses 'em with Ritalin, so they stay safely within the fold.

The answer is patience and information. We need to find some new liberatory, initiatory, transformative experiences. Our associates made our way via the wave of the Beat/hippie/music/pot/acid/Buddhist continuum. We got to the truth of being, for the most part, but that is at such variance with the mass-marketed delusions, we find it hard to cope and interact in society.

The challenge seems to be to create alternative, functional structures that reward insight and honest behavior. That's what Michael Moore is doing in Louisiana, letting people conduct themselves as decent human beings. (Read how much work Moore has done for New Orleans and surroundings here.)

We really are in the situation of a Tolstoy who has to confront the violence and insanity of czarist Russia, which really has much in common with the arrogance, ruthlessness and stupidity of the corporate culture. Tolstoy celebrated love and compassion. of course, the failure of Russia to move out of feudalism led to the rise of Stalinism. and the destruction of the German state and society via the Versailles agreement let to the rise of Hitlerism. The U.S destabilization of the Cambodian society led to the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot.

The West got it right with the Marshall Plan after World War II that rebuilt Europe, and a similar process in Japan. It did no good to leave shattered enemies festering. But the arrogant spirit of adventurism of the Kennedy-Johnson administrations led to Vietnam. and now in Iraq the Bush cronies are following the Vietnam model for maximum, unregulated profits. And the world be damned, and the environment be damned. And most people are too stupid, too lacking in higher brain functions to even get the picture. So people like Bush, Cheney, DeLay thrive.

Even hating those sick bastards feeds their energy. So it's time to step away and look for new dynamics that. to elevate, celebrate, empower positive forces in society. So count me in with the compassionate, smart people like Michael Moore. Note how the corporate propaganda machine tries to destroy people like Moore or Howard Dean. Note how the whistle-blowers get shitcanned. So we need a new media approach that advances new role models for youth and society, one that teaches decency, dignity and cooperation.

Forget the "public" in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But keep the "corporation" part. The new person charged with turning CPB into a house organ for the guvment---and Suze Ormand---has a history as a Repugnican fundraiser and major critic of the dirtycommie NPR. And yes, Cheryl Halpern considered the heroic Bill Moyers an enemy of the people. She once called him "the most partisan and nonobjective person I know in media of any kind." (Perhaps Halpern was excluding herself.) Why do these numbskulls not understand that a commentary is "nonobjective" and "partisan," and that Moyers's commentaries lived up to this by simple definition? Why do they not understand that interviewers---from O'Reilly to Stephanopolous---have a point of view to represent, and that Moyers's reporters did hard-hitting investigative work that was neither liberal nor conservative? Why? Because they are tyrants. Read all about this monstrous woman here.

From lantern-lighter Dave "The Truth" Lindorff:

"Even as the new "Scopes Trial" over evolution vs. "intelligent design" is underway in Dover, PA, the proof that those who disparage Darwin are hypocrites and charlatans is right in front of us.

"The Creationist-in-Chief, in his latest press conference, expressed concern that the Bird Flu virus could evolve into a strain capable of being transmitted from human to human, instead of just from bird to bird or bird to human. If so, he warned, it could lead to up to 2 million deaths in the U.S. alone. Accordingly, he is proposing using the military to quarantine areas of outbreaks. His backers in the Republican-led Congress just slid $3.9 billion into the latest military funding bill to cover epidemic preparedness in case the Bird Flu evolves into a human flu.

"What was that? The flu virus 'evolves'?

"H-m-m-m-m. I wonder what else evolves? Life on earth, perhaps?

"Are we saying that viruses evolve, but not bacteria? Or that only simple organisms evolve, but not complex animals? I wonder where one draws the line?

"Let's be honest here. If we're dealing with intelligent design--an intelligence surely way beyond our own pathetic efforts at reason and logic--then why worry about Bird Flu? Why blow nearly $4 billion (money that could more profitably fund a month of God's work killing the Iraqi heathen) on military preparedness for an epidemic? If the bird Flu virus starts suddenly infecting humans, it must be the Maker's intention, and who are we to try to interfere? The proper recourse would be to pray, fnot pay.

"If evolution is just so much bunk from the academy, why worry about it. It ain't gonna happen.

"There's no such thing as evolution, right?

Recent reports in the National Enquirer say that First Clownface Laura Bush has caught W. downing shots of Jim Beam. Lamplighter doesn't believe it for a second, and here presents irrefutable photographic evidence that the "president" is engaged in nothing but the soberest of activities---endeavoring to comfort and buoy the spirits of the destitute and wretched in New Orleans.

was the lucky recipient of a "positive" Iraq e-mail floating around the Internet. It begins, 'DID YOU KNOW?" and is followed by a list of "positive" alleged facts about Iraq that "our media wouldn't tell us." Things like this: Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq? Did you know that the Iraqi current government employs 1.2 million Iraqi people? Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?

Yes, it's that evil, nasty, negative, liberal, commie media that is keeping you, the reasonable, patriotic, rational U.S. citizen from knowing what a great success the Iraq venture is! Pardon Lamplighter a moment.


Ah, that's better.

Okay, kids, here's a little journalism 101 for you: There
is nothing wrong with keeping track of whatever is good in Iraq, or anywhere else. But that is not the purpose of this purported list. The purpose is propaganda---that is, to present a picture of Iraq as a burgeoning democracy full of wonderful, constructive, happy things. This motivation cannot be ignored. There is another and greater purpose, which is to discredit the media for not “reporting the good news” in Iraq. Implied in this discrediting is the notion of the “liberal press,” and a conspiracy to make the Bush/Cheney crowd look bad.

Lamplighter could dismiss all this cavalierly and say it is laughable, but it is not laughable because too many people fall for this kind of crap. So I would ask this: should newspapers in this country be full of daily reports about how many schools are functioning well, how many people have lots of money, how many people have enough to eat, how many people were not murdered, raped, robbed, assaulted, run over, molested, kidnapped, insulted, spit upon, etc.?

It all comes down to begging the simple question of “what is news?” The simplest answer is that news is conflict. Now, some conflict is strictly in the realm of titillation and entertainment, and some conflict is important for one to know in terms of personal safety. The Iraq matter at least indirectly impacts the personal safety of everyone. Certainly everyone is worried about it. Therefore the conflict that occurs in Iraq, or pertinent to the Iraq situation, is important. And when this conflict consists of daily mayhem---death, mutiliation, maiming, blindness, fiendish bombings---aimed at defeating the U.S.’s attempts to impose stability there (but not democracy, as the existing government is a theocracy, and will remain so), it is. . .news.

So the news media is simply behaving normally and properly by reporting this news. Not incidentally, early on in the war, the media was just rife with all manner of tales of soldiers building schools, and tons of “good news” news! Why? Because the media had, in exchange for being “embedded” with the military, largely lost its sense of balance and had gotten caught up in the gung-ho “fun” of covering a war. Want to control a reporter? Treat him or her really nicely, and make him or her feel part of the team---this is what the military very smartly did. Newspapermen eating candy. . .

Everyone knows that the majority of people in Iraq want a stable society. Everyone knows that the country is trying to go about its business normally, despite horrific daily brutality and simple daily needs such as electricity and good water. All people everywhere essentially want a stable society. So should the media print headlines reading, “BILLIONS DID NOT COMMIT CRIME TODAY?” No. Should the media cover the “good side” of news more often? I have always thought so, but not to the point of distortion, or ignoring or de-emphasizing important events that could affect public safety.

is pleased to announce a forthcoming documentary about the late great musician, Lalo Guerrero, done by his his son, Dan, and Nancy de los Santos. We are particular fans of his "Marijuana Boogie." Read all about "The Original Chicano"---and listen to Lalo here.

Buzzards have descended on the bodies of New Orleans, in the form of two Louisiana laywers, Andrew Vicknair and Harold Ehernberg. Andy and Harry, it seems, want to cash in with Katrina, the drink. These fine gentlemen have filed for a federal patent, complete with a logo and the phrase, "Get Blown Away."  They were quick like bunnies, these guys, filing for the patent six days after the hurricane ruined countless thousands of lives, robbed over a thousand, and left a good chunk of the Gulf Coast homeless (including maximum security prisoners!)  Let's raise our glasses to greed. Lamplighter dims.

He's here, he's there, he's everywhere! Presidink Boooosh is just such a busy guy these days, he barely has time to go to the bathroom. Good thing Mommy Condi is nearby to manage his bowels and bladder. And wow, he just loves going to Louisiana. Imagine if he had gone there before the hurricane hit, and toured those festering, decaying neighborhoods---nah, never would have happened. Them peepul gots to pull theyselves up by they boostraps---soon's they kin afford tuh buy sum !But Your Illuminator just find it amusing that Mr. B. finds it so necessary to be everywhere he isn’t needed. Leadership? Try guilt. (At least the guy seems to feel a little, for once.) As an NPR interviewer reported from a semi-lucid mental patient at her nursing home: “What does he keep coming here to Louisiana for? Go home and open the doors of the White House. He’s got room to house us there!” Not bad for a demented woman.

Lamplighter is in the middle of yet another Dean Koontz potboiler (just to please my neighbor who consigned it to my care swaddled in rave reviews [hers]), and finds that it is yet another of his formulaic creations designed to please his publishers and vapid readers who don’t want great literature because it makes them think about really important issues, and rakes in the bucks as well. How many times do I have to read about Joe Average who is just a well intentioned guy muddling through with a beloved relative hospitalized in a comatose/terminal/you-name-it state, while some psychopath plays havoc with his life – from the same “world famous author?” That “niche” is as overflowing as the New Orleans levees! Where is the quality? Where is the thought? Where is the creativity? Ford cranked out the Model T by mass production methods, but it never became a Rolls Royce. Yes, he made money, but it is the Rolls Royce that holds court (or used to.) So hurray, for the desk drawer that holds the next great addition to literature, and a big raspberry for the next addition to the library’s “popular fiction” shelf. Stephen King has it in spades over Koontz, but I think even King will fail to make it as one of the immortals, simply because he doesn’t know when to shut up! I always felt it was the publisher’s job to publish literature because it was quality work, not because the public appetite needed to be appeased. “That a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Coliseum for?” or something like that.


How much is that doggie in the freeze-dried Chinese package? Yessir, let's give a big paws-up to Yahoo, and Rupert Murdoch, and all the good corporate folks who are selling the country out to China. And especially because this is the surest way to keep the doggie population under control. Yup, China eats it! Up to 10 million dogs are slaughtered every year in China. Well, got to keep something in the stomachs of all those aspiring materialists. And many of the pups are tortured to death in order to supposedly improve their taste.   
Dog people-food is becoming more industrialized, and is even promoted by the government in some provinces. Consequently, vacuum packed and canned dog meat are becoming increasingly available in some supermarkets. Ask for it by name!

Are you one of those well-intentioned but gullible citizens who believes presidential speeches mean something? Lamplighter wishes it were true! Most presidential speeches mean about as much as a donut hole, but Bush has the gift of essentially doing the exact opposite of everything he says he will do---so his speeches are valuable indicators, in that regard. As for his plan for a new New Orleans, please read this very informed, thoughtful, considered, and intelligent rebuttal by Wayne Madsen here.

"Whaddya mean, they got nothin' to eat down here?"

Heroic Lantern-lighter Dave "The Truth" Lindorff warns of our beloved birthplace of jazz being rebuilt as a theme park, more or less, a vast tourist-infested Ugly American Universal City Walk-type specimen of sterile orporate plasticity. But who is he warning? The Democraps, who are as unconscious as Rip Van Winkle on valium. Sez Dave:

"After watching Bush's pathetic staged performance in New Orleans, and seeing him appoint Karl Rove (Karl Rove!) to head up his Republican plan for turning New Orleans into a jazz theme park devoid of the people who made jazz what it is, I'm wondering where is the opposition? Any Democrat even fantacizing about running for president, whether it's Hillary Clinton or Russ Feingold, should be down in the hole shoveling muck out of poor N'yorlins houses pledging to fight with them to ensure their right of return, starting with a bill to overturn the Supreme Court's outrageous Kelo decision making public seizure of private property for "economic improvement" a right of government. Every New Orleans resident--renter or homeowner, needs to be guaranteed the right to come back and rebuild her or his life. A start would be a public works bill offering reconstruction and clean-up jobs to every one of the displaced. Harry Belafonte had it right at an NPR fundraiser on Saturday night: we need to fight to ensure that the victims of Katrina are not also victims of the reconstruction of New Orleans."
Attention, lunatics. Yes you. Provided you are among the crackheads yet again up in arms over the Pledge of Allegiance. And that really refers to people on both sides, or all three or four sides. Here's the reason: psst---it doesn't matter. If your kid has to say "under God" in school, Lamplighter hereby employs vernacular once popular among potheads in the '70s: BFD. Lamplighter said "under God" oodles of times as a wee bulb, and did not grow up to be a demented religious fanatic. Demented, yes, but not a religious fanatic. Folks, you say and do lots of things that you might disagree with in life, especially "thank you," whenever you buy something a fine emporium. Why the hell are you thanking them? So BFD. And as for the rest of you who are bowling without a ball over the pledge, viewing attempts to remove "under God" as the latest invasion by dirtyfilthyrotten Commiebastards, please remember this: the words, "under God," were added in 1951, if memory serves, as a paranoiac reaction to McCarthyism and the Red Scare. How ridiculous was that? A country so frightened of godless commies that it thought it could take care of the problem with a couple of words in a daily recitation. That'll brainwash the kiddies!

A final thought on the matter: the author of the pledge was a Baptist minister, true---but he was also a socialist! And as every self-respecting reactionary ig'nint cretin knows, this is as good as being a dirtyfilthyrotten Commiebastard! What's more, he wanted the word, "equality," in the pledge, but he knew that education superintendants were opposed to equality for African-Americans, so he didn't rock the boat. Read all about it here, and then shut up and go help the people of New Orleans.

Eighty-two-year-old Kurt Vonnegut has been making the media rounds lately, with rare public appearances including the Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. Lamplighter brightened at the news that he is just publishing a new collection of essays, "Man Without a Country." An excerpt: "We are not born with imagination. It has to be developed by teachers, by parents. There was a time when imagination was very important because it was the major source of entertainment. . .But it's no longer necessary for teachers and parents to build these circuits. Now there are professionally produced shows with great actors, very convincing sets, sound, music. Now there's the information highway. We don't need the circuits any more than we need to know how to ride horses.Those of us who had imagination circuits built can look in someone's face and see stories there; to everyone else, a face will just be a face." Hear Vonnegut's recent NPR interview here. Then order a Vonnegut original artwork T-shirt(!) at

NEWS ITEM: A co-founder and senior executive of Yahoo Inc., the global Internet giant, confirmed Saturday that his company gave Chinese authorities information later used to convict a Chinese journalist now imprisoned for leaking state secrets.

Yes, that good ol' American company, Yahoo, has cooperated with China to throw a journalist in jail. Of  course, that this really constitutes some form of treason, but as the Bush Administration is more loyal to greenbacks than Old Glory, nothing will come of it. Yet it does call into question the whole notion about the Internet revolution freeing the world from tyranny, doesn't it?

A lanter-lighter who has been attending the master's in journalism program at one of our esteemed universities in Southern California put it this way:

"One of the recurring themes they stress is that every great new media technology that comes forward is historically hailed as something that will free the masses but is always quickly co-opted by the wealthy elites and the government in charge, which of course is placed there to protect the interests of. . .the wealthy elites.

"They take historical looks at how early newspapers were supposed to set people free and how that didn't happen because it quickly became apparent they could not survive unless the publisher was a postmaster with a mailing privilege and that those privileges, of course, were handed out by the government. So along came "penny newspapers," the ones with the ads, which quickly fell under the thumb of the advertisers.

"When radio came along at the beginning of the 20th century it was hailed as the medium that would set the masses free, but of course it quickly went from news and cultural programming to mass music and, finally, to idiot talk, as the government stepped in to control it under the guise of making it available to the people, requiring licenses and restrictions to wave lengths that ultimately turned it into a financial empire for only the very wealthy.

"Of course TV was going to be the next medium to set everybody free and we know what happened there.

"And now the Internet, which Noam Chomsky, Ben Bagdikian and others have been predicting for some time would quickly fall to government and corporate control once people figured out how to make money off of it. And that's what is now happening, as Yahoo's action in China clearly demonstrates.

"At some of my classes, they also went on to point out that diversity hiring is a sham, that such people who are hired either quickly learn to conform or leave or are kept around on the fringes in inconsequential jobs for appearance sake. This, I imagine, is why you can have newsrooms all over the country, each with a handful of black people working there, and yet almost everyone is caught completely off guard when Kanye West says what black people everywhere believe, that many white people hate them and wish they'd all disappear.

"After my first semester, a professor told his media criticism seminar that this point of view, of a co-opted, inconsequential media, is usually harshly denied and derided at first by the working professionals who wander into the program. Then, after they've read the scholarly studies, of which there are surprisingly a whole bunch, they seem to come around."

Our esteemed public officials often say things that cause Lamplighter to simply double over, silly, and Katrina has really brought out the best in them. Read all about it here.

Click here.

is positively glowing! First someone shouted at Condoleezza Rice as she shopped for obscenely expensive shoes in NYC,  "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!" And now President Dick "Vice-President" Cheney has been similarly saluted by a patriot. While holding a photo-op---that is, press conference---in Gulfport, Mississippi, Dick was interrupted by a shout of "Go f--- yourself, Mr. Cheney!" by one Dr. Ben Marble, who works as an emergency room physician. And then, moments later, the unseen male voice followed up with a second "go f---yourself!" Seems Mr. Marble was a mite upset over the loss of his home, and the federal government's non-response to the disaster. Natch, he was later "detained" and handcuffed by military police with M-16s, and one wonders how soon the IRS audits the fellow, but around here, we call him a lantern-lighter. Cheney, who is as twisted and bizarre looking these days as anything played by Lon Chaney, usually enjoys this expression, having famously bestowed it without provocation on the ever-genial and courtly Sen. Patrick Leahy. Of course, he laughed the Gulfport incident off with a lame joke about John Kerry, but the fact is that it takes a hell of a lot of nerve to publically denounce a person of Cheney's massive power. Let's hope this and the denunciation of Rice are signs that people are getting seriously fed up with these lying, murderous, profiteering montebanks.

Queen Bush Mother Barbara appared on C-SPAN, and referred to the damage done by "Hurricane Corrina." Perhaps she had just finished listening to her favorite Big Joe Turner records before the interview.

From lantern-lighter Dave Lindorff, of

"A reader writes in that the drowning of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina should be seen as the first city to be destroyed by global warming. He says it is certain to be the first of many.

Clearly he is correct. Climate scientists have already demonstrated that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean are warmer than every before and that hurricanes have been growing both more powerful and more frequent.

So far, the seas of the world have only risen an inch or so from the melting of the polar caps and the expansion of warmer water molecules, but it stands to reason that the first cities to go will be washed away not by rising waters, but by the ever higher storm surges of ever more powerful typhoons.

So far, our president's response to all this has been to gut funding for emergency preparedness, to gut environmental regulations that would preserve coastal wetlands (the best defense against storm surges), and to continue dredging and levying rivers, thus worsening downstream flooding.

The country seems to have gone mad.

If a big tree leaning near your house dies, you cut it down before it falls on your home. If the brakes on your car get squishy, you fix them before you crash. But when it's obvious that the country's energy policies are creating a global catastrophe, what do Americans do? Buy an SUV and elect a president who thinks global warming is a bunch of hooey."


This illumination from the great Robert Hunter, his latest journal entry:

"One important lesson of 9/11, the tsunami, and of the current heart wrenching disaster in New Orleans, is that those not directly in the path of the apocalyptic hooves are left with a dwindling sense of the importance regarding their own less challenged lives. How can we delude ourselves into continuing to believe that our relatively insignificant interests are worth pursuing? Yet, those petty concerns may be all that stand between us and a depressed and even crippling fatalism. I pick up my horn, play a few notes, set it back down. What's the point? I pick it back up again with the conscious understanding that its value is strictly personal. Music has its own agenda, its own right to exist even though the world crumbles around us. I first realized this truth, with chilling certainty, when I played 'Terrapin Station' late one night from a terrace atop a high building directly overlooking the floodlit smoking ruin of the World Trade Center in September of 2001. It felt almost like sacrilege, a wind howled up and threatened to blow me and my guitar off the roof, but I planted my feet and continued and, by the time I'd finished, realized, or chose to believe, that the City accepted my offering. It was all I had to give. My feeling of hopelessness lifted. It was not a connection such as is felt between a performer and an audience. I just added a bit of music to the acrid smoke in the wind and, in so doing, changed the course of my life for several years to come. Though professedly retired, the next day I accepted an invitation to appear at the closing of the Wetlands and played my first public performance in years. I continued to perform, propelled by the experience atop the roof. I felt a window had opened in the very bowels of disaster and, perhaps mistakenly, believed that the City would rebuild with a new sense of spirit and mission, emerging triumphant from the ruins; a spirit that would spread and encompass the rest of the world. I felt moved to be a part of such renaissance. Perhaps such an improbable thing might have come to pass, had not political spin snatched up the costly opportunity and transformed it into a rationale for war.

"I feel moved to write this entry in my journal, not to show how resourceful I am at fending off the personal effect of depressing circumstances through the fostering of grand delusions, but to reaffirm that, when small personal resources are all we've got, it's a mistake to devalue them just because they appear patently ineffectual faced with the constrictions of Leviathan as it attempts to crush life and spirit from the earth. Such activity may not help New Orleans, inflicted with the emergence of mob inflicted stone age values in the midst of chaos, nor should we delude ourselves it might, but there is another sphere in which small life affirming actions are never to be despised. I refer to civilization, which can be very much a personal matter."

Onward, Christian Soldiers! You wonder why much of the world thinks the war in Iraq is effectively a Christian crusade? Take a look at Force Ministries, "Equipping military personnel for Christ-centered duty." Oil that gun for Hay-zoos.


Lamplighter is doing OK. Flax oil elicits a great mood. Should get that on an IV, because when it runs out, well, the light dims.

A friend has been opening up the hood and trying to sort out a few things. She's reading new book by Alice Miller, "The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting." She's walled off a whole bunch of stuff from childhood.

But people need to tread lightly through these minefields. I suppose there's some value of liberating oneself from the pain of the past. But I think it's better to work on developing the positive aspects of being as much as possible. One can't change the past. But one can learn to stop repeating the mistakes of self-defeating behavior past terrors and cruelty caused.

We see so much pain, ignorance and violence out there. Those of us who have some inkling about a better way ("All you need is love") owe it to ourselves to try to act in accordance with our insight. The word "healing" has been overused by the New Age crowd, but I can't really think of a better word. Healing bodies and souls, communities, the whole damn place.

Cindy Sheehan is about healing, about confronting ignorance, greed, violence. So there's hope. And look at how those who are in the bonds of Bush will froth and rave against her. It really is pathological, this whole submersion of ego into Bushism. I think we're seeing very damaged people to begin with. So Cindy Sheehan represents normalcy, decency, goodness, the American way.

It really is a battle for the soul of our control and the souls of its people. I think the dividing lines are growing ever more clear. I think most people have in their hearts a wish to live decent lives, to do the right thing. They just don't get a lot of good models for doing so, they are adrift in a sordid world of Republicanism, corporate greed and manipulation and the violence and sleaze of the entertainment industry that is a poor substitute for authentic culture. Add to that creepy preachers who pedal fake Christianity.

So it's a big job. try to be kind.

Robert Hunter, for those who don't know, wrote the lyrics, and Jerry Garcia wrote the music. That's how it worked for most of their Grateful Dead collaborations. Friends since both were dedicated folkies in the early '60s, they had a simpatico musical rapport built of mutual brilliance and quirks---perhaps best described with the line from their "Touch of Gray," that goes "shoe is on the hand it fits." Hunter added this to his on-line journal Aug. 3, on the occasion of the ten-year-anniversary of Garcia's departure.

Ten years since old Jer kicked the bucket? Seems more like fifty. Nothing about his passing seems like "only yesterday," rather as long ago and faraway as my childhood.

"From the sublime to the vicious, everything that could be said has been said and said again. Yet, the essential mystery of who Jerry Garcia was remains. What can be said with fair assurance is that he was a source, an original way of seeing the world that agreed with others in a few broad and important outlines, but which in just as many other dimensions confounded all expectations.

"I wouldn't say he delighted, in any Whitmanian sense, in what appear to be his contradictions, nor that he had control of them; predictability was not his strong suit. Not even self predictability. He could be alarmingly kind in situations where kindness was the last response to be expected - and altogether gruff where sympathy seemed the more natural response. You could almost say he had weather rather than climate.

"Few would disagree that a key part of him remained isolated, unknown and unknowable. His art is the closest thing to an available roadmap of his singularities, amorphous clues, and clues only, to the nature of his true affections. Where he entered, he dominated, generally to his dismay. He knew he was not a leader, more a scout striking out in the wilderness of his intuitions, unwittingly summoning others to tag along through virtue of his magnetic personality and apparently deep sense of inner direction, but basically antipathetic to following or to being followed. Driving back and forth across the bay from Larkspur to San Franscisco on Workingman's Dead recording sessions, our conversations would range wide, or, sometimes, nothing would be said at all. I remember once we got to talking about directions. He professed to having none and inquired as to mine. "For the time being," I said, "I'm just following you following yourself." "Then we're both lost," he muttered.

"A persistent image I have of Jerry which seems strangely resonant with his coming and going: a brilliant sunny day on a boat bobbing above the abyss of Molokini where the floor of the ocean suddenly drops off a cliff and plunges to unknown depths, I watch him check his gear then sit on the edge of the boat and tumble over backwards into the water, which is clear to a depth of several hundred feet. I watch him dwindle in size as he descends further and further, spread eagle and motionless, until he is only a speck to the eye, then disappears altogether from view and there is no more Jerry, only ocean."

says it behooves one and all to remember the illuminating words of meany---er, many---a prominent Repugnican of our day, beginning with these, from Rep. Tom Delay: “You can support the troops but not the president." Please read more such sensible declarations here.

The great Beatles producer George Martin disapproves of excessively convenient recording technology. Quoth George: "With iPods, mini-recorders and all the new technology, people can lie in their bath and make a rock record."

Given the quality of much pop music, one wishes they would take the toaster in there with them. Lamplighter tunes in Nick Hahhhcaught on KCRW occasionally and is just in stitches over the lack of attire in the possession of so many musical emperors. When you hear something described as a "trip-hoppy sort of cross between Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin with a touch of trance and juju," an approximation of typical Hahhhhcaught "Morning Becomes Eclectic" fare, what else can you do but chortle? And it all sounds cut from the same deriviative cloth, or lack of attire, as we were saying earlier.

This angry.

Here is part of the astounding page one headline from the L.A.Times about the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. for the U.S. Supreme Court: "He's low-key, smart and effective and does not come with much political baggage. As a lawyer, he argued cases across the spectrum." That's a headline, folks!

Yessir, there's your fiendish "liberal press" at work. Hell, that sounds like an ad, not a headline. You would think that Roberts is just a spiffy dude with nothing more controversial about him than the fact that he stole the Campbell Soup Boy's hairdo. But. . .

Here are a few tidbits from Roberts' rules of order:

When American soldiers captured and tortured by the Iraqi government during the first Gulf War sued the Iraqi government in U.S. court, and won nearly $1 billion in damages at the district court level, Roberts supported the  Bush administration, which wanted to protect the new Iraqi government from liability!  Roberts was the only the circuit judge who ruled with the government, saying the federal courts did not even have jurisdiction to consider the victims' claim.

* Roberts on abortion: "We continue to believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

* Roberts argued that the Supreme Court should invalidate a federal affirmative action program.

* Roberts agrued  that the Constitution permits religious ceremonies at public high school graduations.

* Roberts argued that environmental groups lacked the right to sue under the Endangered Species Act.

* Roberts upheld the arrest, handcuffing and detention of a 12-year-old girl for eating a single french fry inside a D.C. Metrorail station. (Imagine what he would have done to a boy!)

In other words, heah come de right-wing nutball judge! He's anti-abortion, anti-environmental protection, anti-affirmative action, pro-religion in school (can you say "Intelligent Design 101?"), and if you ask Lamplighter, his loyalty to this country is in question. What else can you think when he ruled against U.S. military veterans tortured in Iraq? And sided with Iraq? Guess Johnny-boy also doesn't mind millions of unwanted children being born, destined for abuse, orphanages, drug addiction, crime. . .

But that's not all that makes Roberts loveable. He helped out the Bushes in that Florida recount mess---make that non-recount mess. (They take care of their own, don't they, these Repugnicans?) And his wife is a lawyer involved with the anti-abortion group, Feminists for Life.

Yup, the L.A. Times headline writer was right on top of this story.

A lantern lighter recently returned after deserting this so-called city (that's L.A., for our two out-of-town readers) in order to spend some time in the Midwest. Here is part of what he wrote:

"Can I help you?" is actually meant, as are "I beg your pardon", "sorry", and "oops, I didn't realize I was in your way, I'll move", and "thank you, please come again". After shopping in Sam's Club in Grand Rapids for fifteen minutes I actually started to cry. Big tears. People that were browsing actually moved their carts to the side to be sure they are out of the way of others. Nobody stopped in the middle of a heavily trafficked isle to stare at the ceiling. Nobody glared, bumped me with a shopping cart, or tried to break a land speed record with a shopping cart. Everyone ACTUALLY looked around themselves, made EYE CONTACT with me, and said "good morning", or "pardon me". Kids would look at things and actually, AND I KID YOU NOT, put them back when they were done with them. There was no trash on the floors or anywhere else for that matter.

"The experience was worlds apart from the dealings with the feral, mindless, self-absorbed cretins that infest my neighborhood."

That would be Glendale, for the record.

Hey, boys and girls, what's more important: oil, or some damn leopard? Huh? Why, oil, of course! Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to put around in your monster truuuuucks and Stupid Usurious Vehicles, right? So why should you give a rat's ass about a disappearing cat? You shouldn't! To hell with the Amur leopard! So what if it's gorgeous! So what if it's "one of God's creatures." Hey, if God wanted the Amur leopard to survive, he wouldn't have put it in a place full of oil! But for once, the U.S. isn't after the goo---it's Russia! The trans-Siberian pipeline will be the world's longest oil pipeline, stretching 2, 600 miles from the Sea of Japan to Putinland! See, the Amur leopard is gone from China and Korea, because they really needed its gonads for virility-enhancing potions, but it still survived in Kedrovaya Pad in Russia, a wildlife preserve founded in 1916. There are about 30 of the kitties left at this point, so hey, what's 30 nasty cats that would eat you, anyhow? Got to suck out all the oil on the planet, no matter who or wht bites the dust.

Including humans.

Iraq! It's a scream. Lamplighter has a strange sense of humor, true, but surely everyone can join in on this big knee-slapper! Get this: the U.S. tried to buy the recent Iraq election for its puppet, Iyad Allawi, but couldn't pull it off! Read all about it in Seymour Hersch's New Yorker article here---it's like a whole bunch of Marx Brothers movies rolled into one! See, instead, this Shiite guy Ibrahim Jafari was elected, and what do you s'pose he does, hm? Why, he heads right over to Iran---you know, one of the "Axis of Evil" countries hell-bent on getting a nuke---and says lots of nice things about the place, which it fought in a long a terrible war just the day before yesterday, metaphorically speaking. (You know, that war in which the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein, and along with Britain sent Saddam the chemical weapons he used to gas the Kurds.) Well, anyhow, now the Sunnis---who really, really didn't like Iran---are out killing the Shiites like crazy! And the Presidink still babbles about "democracy and freedom" for "the Iraqi people." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Kubrick couldn't have written this stuff.

Aside from the fact that a few Sunnis who were drafting the Iraq Constitution---you know, the ones who really didn't want any part of the new Iraq government---were gunned down the other day, the Constitution itself is just a wee bit um. . .how to put it. . .unconstitutional? Get this: when this thing is adopted, Iraqi women will have been much better off under Saddam! That's true! Saddam was the most secular leader in the Arab world, and women were greatly free of Islamic restriction, but. . .no more. Men will be able to divorce their wives merely by saying "I divorce you" three times (and clicking their ruby slippers together), and the minimum number of women in the National Assemblym 25 percent, would be eliminated. Women's rights in general would be eroded. It's all part of Iraq turning not into anything remotely resembling a democracy, but rather closely resembling an. . .Islamic state. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
"Only the mediocre can always be at their best."   - - H. L. Mencken.

Lamplighter doesn't generally illuminate "news of the weird" here, as most news is plenty weird anyhow, but this was too enjoyable to pass up. In India, police forced around 200 people caught watching pornography to do sit-ups in public to shame them and keep them away from theaters that illegally screen "adult" movies. There must be a joke about a members-only athletic club here somewhere.

If you did not click the box in the right column teasing the exclusive commentary by Gary L. Coffman, "Ray Bradbury Saw It All Coming," then you may click here instead.

Well, you have to wonder about "The American People." Do they really have any idea what a representative democracy is? Or are they just so happy with beer and Pringles and TeeVee and occasional crystal meth that nothing else much matters? Or have they given up on representative democracy? Why do you have to wonder? Well, because on average each citizen has spent $727 on this Iraq madness, and U.S. streets are still not choked with protestors from all colors of the political spectrum demanding an end to the lie-based-on-a-falsehood-based-on-an-illusion.

, like most arguably sane citizens, despises the exposure of Valerie Plame, as she was doing rather imporant work.Affiliated with a CIA front company, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, she was engaged in tracking and stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, that's all. You know, correct LL if he's wrong, but this seems a wee bit of a worthwhile task.

And the possible prosecution of Karl Christian Rove for leaking the information is turning July into Christmas. But---

This is hardly the full story. This story is so big and so deep that it really should expose much more than Plame. It should expose the cadre of power-monger extremists who have taken over the U.S. government---and who used Rove to leak the info. to the press in the first place. Justin Raimundo has the story here.

"I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the names of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - President George H.W. Bush.

And what do Bush II administrators have to say about their leaky vassal? Find out here.


Here it is:
"President Bush's top independent intelligence adviser met last winter with investment bankers in China to help secure his law firm's role in lobbying for a state-run Chinese energy firm and its bid for the U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., according to his law firm, Akin Gump."

Yes, Lamplighter agrees. Any law firm called Akin Gump needs to change its name. Our gump has been akin for years. But no---there is much, much more that is wrong with the above sentence, which is actually the lead of a Washington Post report.

For starters, what in hell is a top intelligence advisor to Bush doing helping investment bankers in China get hold of Unocal? Second, why is his law firm lobbying on behalf of a state-run China energy firm to get Unocal? Third, why does an intelligence advisor to the "president" want any of this to happen in the first place?

Ah, well, this is just business as usual in the Bush Administration. Conflict of interest, selling out the country, fattening up China, duplicitous---make that triplicitous---relations between government, lobby groups, and banks. . .

It's all rife with corruption so rich and fabulous as to merit instant impeachment and removal from office of Bush and Cheney as to be laughable, but then, damn near everything they have done since taking office falls into the same category.

The American public's reaction? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


If this does not amuse you, you are either a Republican or you have no sense of humor, which is really just about the same thing, isn't it?


Lamplighter received the following proposal from lantern lighter Gary L. Coffman, a self-professed "liberal" and retired English teacher (gasp) who urges Creationism be taught in all classrooms.

Tired of the religious Right throwing their weight around and declaiming they alone are the guardians of Truth? So am I. As a retired teacher, every effort by the fundament-alists to insert themselves into secular education reinforces my faith in the Founding Fathers' wisdom, establishing the separation of Church and State. The current mingling of religion and political doctrine threatens to unravel the very democracy we claim to cherish. It also threatens to demolish the rationality of academia. Doctrine will replace the pursuit of knowledge.

"No where is this more evident than the push to make Creationism a requirement in science classes to be taught as an alternative to the theory of Evolution. A disaster in the making, right? Maybe, maybe not. As an unrepentant liberal, who bears the honor proudly, I say: Let's be fair. That's why liberals are famous and hated. Let the Fundamentalists have their way. Let the kids decide which they want to believe. Put Creationism in the classroom. Let there be light! However, let's all be fair.

As a gesture of goodwill, only actual documents will be used. Just as the Right decries activist judges interpreting the law, there will be no activist teachers or activist ministers interpreting Darwin's classics or The Good Book . The words will speak for themselves.

"It will come as a shock to many true believers when their child returns home from a hard day of study and asks: 'Why are there two different versions of the Creation in Genesis?', and 'Why there are two different versions of the Great Flood?' Worse, they will ask: 'If God wrote the Good Book, which version is correct?' Far worse, they will ask: 'If God is omniscient and omnipotent, how can He blame Adam and Eve for what they did? He knew what was going to happen. Sounds like it was a set up to me, Dad! Somebody got a bum rap.' After this cuff on the chin, the body blows follow. 'And about the animals on the Ark; did they go in by two's, or did they go in by seven's?'  'Didn't one God write this? Doesn't sound like there s a Pulitzer Prize here, Dad. By the way, I've got a science project you can help us build. We re going to reconstruct the Ark according to the dimensions given and, in conservative fairness, we are putting every kind of animal we can find in it by two's, instead of seven's. Oh yeah, we have to supply enough food for them for forty days. Cool, huh? ' 'One other thing, Dad, the school board is going to include all world cultures' creation theories next year, so we can really have a choice. Awesome!"

"Yes, let the children decide which they want to believe.

"So, let fairness reign throughout the land. As FDR said, We have nothing to fear but fear, itself. Be not afraid: in one to two years the school board meetings will be packed, once again by religious Rightists, demanding the separation of Church and State as decreed in our beloved Constitution by our sage Founding Fathers. Requiescat in pace."

Of course, what Lamplighter has always wondered is, when Gawdallmightee wrote the Babble, did he use a pen or a pencil?

wonders what Mr. Coffman might make of the fact that
The Holy Land Experience, an Orlando, Fla. "Bible amusement park" has won its four-year fight to avoid paying taxes.

Now that's amusement!
Yes, kids, now you can take the thrilling Herrod's Temple ride, or visit Jesus's tomb! (guess that's sort of like going to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion), and walk right down a "main street" complete with a Bedouin tent and those wacky, colorful Bible characters in full regalia---just like Mickey, Dopey, Goofy!

The possibilities dazzle: "Romans of the Caribbean," "Great Moments with Mr. Pilate," "Afterlifeland," "Space Mountain of Olives." Maybe God himself (or herself or itself) could be the grand marshall of the Electric Parade!

And here's one we are not making up: you can watch a musical version of the crucifixion! Yowzah! There's and event that makes you want to sing and dance, eh? Tap your toes to those hammered nails!

Folks, this country is dealing without a deck, playing pinochle without knuckles, skipping without "m' Lou," and switching without a clicker! Think of it: NO TAXES FOR A BIBLE AMUSEMENT PARK! Excuse LL a moment. . .


Ah, that's better.

When Lamplighter sleeps, people listen! (Bad joke on old commercial.) Put it this way: LL is a one-man percussion section while unconscious. Sometimes he cuts loose with a thunderous snort, other times a cacaphony of nasal/oral air eructations that are far funnier than anything you ever saw or heard in a Popeye cartoon. So it was with great interest that he heard of a woman who claims to cure snoring by teaching people how to sing. If said vocalizing need not be on-key, your Illuminator has a chance to be snore-free!

Worried about immorality, folks? Can't count on yourself to recognize evil influences around you? Well, thank Gawdallmightee for Wal-Mart, America's superstore! Yessir, the good people at Wal-Mart are not only looking out for China's best financial interests, but your moral interests! Hence (love that word, "hence"), the brain trust at W-M has removed the marijuana leaves from the cover of Willie Nelson's new reggae album, "Countryman," and replaced them with palm leaves. Never mind that pot is essentially the national plant of Reggaeland.

Watch for hordes of young people to start smoking palm leaves any day now.

This, of course, is the same store that banned a Sheryl Crowe album because it contained a song about kids shooting each other with guns . . .purchased at Wal-Mart! Of course, Wal-Mart did not ban the guns from its shelves. Gimme a joint!

Speaking of pot, a question: why does this government continue to scapegoat marijuana, which at least makes people peaceful and peaceable, when methamphetamine use is a massive epidemic---and makes people stark raving bonkers? Did you know, for instance, that meth freaks typically fornicate like super bunny rabbits, thus accounting for a huge population of unwanted (and frequently orphaned and/or abused) children? And how many times do you hear of a driver in a freeway chase, or a bank robber, or a mass murderer, having been "high on methamphetamine?"

George "President" Bush is forever babbling about "staying the course" in Iraq, as if there is a course to stay. Of course, staying the course means staying in Iraq. And staying in Iraq means continuing to inspire lunatic "Islamic extremists" to murder. But of course, Bush and Tony "Prime Minister" Blair don't believe this, and maintain that terrorists are killing innocent civilians because "they hate freedom."

Lamplighter doubts this. Lamplighter strongly suspects that many terrorists enjoy freedom. Why, how else could they be free to terrorize the western world? LL thinks they simply hate persons who do not believe as they do. One suspects that retired Lt. Gen. William Odom
(U.S. Army), now a professor at Yale and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, feels the same way. Said the general:

"When the president says he is staying the course, that makes me really afraid. For a leader has to know when to change course. Hitler did not change his course: rather he kept sending more and more troops to Stalingrad and they suffered more and more casualties.

"When the president says he is staying the course it reminds me of the man who has just jumped from the Empire State Building. Halfway down he says, ‘I am still on course.’ Well, I would not want to be on course with a man who will lie splattered in the street. I would like to be someone who could change the course...

"Our invasion of Iraq has made it a homeland for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Indeed, I believe that it was the very first time that many Iraqis became terrorists. Before we invaded, they had no idea of terrorism."


We recoil at the vicious, random killing of innocent men, women and children when they are our own, or our friends, but where is the outrage at the uncounted mass of innocent men, women and children who have been killed by the American invasion of Iraq, and the invasion of Afghanistan? In both places, thanks to military policies that stress the use of massive firepower, aerial bombardment and gunships in the name of keeping US casualties at a minimum, the toll of civilians is actually significantly higher than the number of actual enemy fighters killed by American forces. . .So get ready folks. If the American people are willing to turn a blind eye to the horrors that our government is deliberately inflicting on Iraqis and Afghanis, we need to face the fact that we too will be attacked, not just our soldiers." ---Dave Lindorff.

"The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden. Some Muslim leaders have taken up this challenge. This past week in Jordan, King Abdullah II hosted an impressive conference in Amman for moderate Muslim thinkers and clerics who want to take back their faith from those who have tried to hijack it. But this has to go further and wider.The double-decker buses of London and the subways of Paris, as well as the covered markets of Riyadh, Bali and Cairo, will never be secure as long as the Muslim village and elders do not take on, delegitimize, condemn and isolate the extremists in their midst."
 ---Tom Friedman in the New York Times.

Global warming in the Arctic will eventually wipe out polar bears, scientists say. Of course, the Bush administration couldn't care less what it wipes out, if it compromises corporate profiteering. Reactionary? Hardly. The "President" said so himself, in explaining why the U.S. will not join most of the rest of the civilized world in signing the Kyoto Treaty: it would "wreck" the U.S. economy.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen (if there are any left out there) it's. . .ExxonMobil Vs. the Air.

Er, Lamplighter thought the U.S. economy was already wrecked, having recently perused a beat-up, decrepit 1948 crackerbox on a traffic-choked street selling for $600,000---advertised as a "low price." Not to mention the plethora of small towns that have become ghost towns since jobs and business were whored out to Asia, in order that U.S. citizens can remain fat and gassy and corporations can remain fat and sassy.

Good that our C-student Prez has such a grip on science and economics. Good that he can ignore the fact that sea levels are rising around the world.  Good that he says "more study is needed" to determine whether humans are contributing to global warming. Good to err on the side of profit, while the environment goes slowly but surely to hell.

Bravo, Mr. Prez!

Most people in Asia seem to like them poached. Gee, don't they have enough tigers to eat? Read all about it.

Pravda carried a story the other day with the headline, "No Free Press in U.S. Anymore." An apt hed, considering NYT reporter Judith Miller went to jail rather than reveal her sources in the Karl Rove/Valerie Plame scandal. But Pravda was reacting to a quote from the special prosecutor in the case, and it is a statement that should chill the blood of every citizen, no matter their views of the press:

"Journalists are not entitled to promise complete confidentiality," wrote Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in court filings. "No one in America is."

There you are, folks. Terrorists win again. They have sufficiently intimidated this country---put it in such a mode of fear---that the right wing is rearing up and not only destroying press freedom, but your right to privacy. Under Bush and Cheney, no one in America is entitled to confidentiality.


"Liberty" and "freedom" have been so perverted, linguistically. Add them to any cause you like, and suddenly it's red-white-and-blue. Lamplighter notes that something called The Center For Consumer Freedom claims that the right of U.S. Citizens to eat what they want is under attack!

More like the right to be fat as corn-fed porkers in a slaughterhouse.

"Far too few Americans remember that the Founding Fathers, authors of modern liberty, greatly enjoyed their food and drink," says the Center. "Now it seems that food liberty - just one of the many important areas of personal choice fought for by the original American patriots - is constantly under attack."

Yes, you read that correctly. "Food Liberty."

It's all a reaction against efforts by sane people to curtail obesity. Have you traveled around this country lately? Many U.S. citizens could probably make it through the winter without eating.

Now, if you cannily suspect that corporations
are behind this "food liberty" madness, why, you're right! Yes, Coca-Cola, Wendy's, and Tyson Foods are the bankroll behind The Center for Consumer Freedom.

So stand up for your food rights, America! If you can stand up, that is.


periodically ponders "the way," that is, what methods might be most pragmatic in effecting sanity in this mucked up world. Not that it does any good, but. . .

This life is but a way station. The hope of achieving the ultimate destination from this locale is slim. The best that can be done by most of us is to cultivate cordiality and respectability. Maybe that will get us to the next stop. All the rest of delusion.

Lamplighter thought these thoughts before going to bed last night.
In the course of my slumber, I dreamed I was at a train station. The train I wanted did not stop, I started to run after it down the track, but then I heard an announcement that the second car of the train was separate and would be going to my destination. I'm still waiting for that second car.

Perhaps this was influenced by watching the "Twilight Zone" the other night, it was the "Willoughby" episode, in which a troubled chap on a commuter train sees an idyllic 1880s town and wants to get off there.

A good word is "cordiality." From the Latin "cor" for "heart." Webster's defines it: "sincere affection and kindness." As for "respectability," the definition I'd use has to do with "decent and correct in character and behavior." In other words, not being a jerk.

Thus may we contemplate that which should be inherently good and decent in our lives and society. That we are led by a mean-spirited smirking frat boy is much to our collective shame. But the alternative is not to whine and rail about those whose behavior is base and uncouth. Rather the proper course is to set about to create an energy space in which positive energy can flourish and nourish a global community in which all can aspire to nobler destinations.

So that means purifying ourselves of negative emotions, emotions that are attached to the dysfunctional defense of our misshapen egos. It's time to put all that aside and move forward while there is still time to make the best of "this precious human life," to use words a Buddhist abbot once told me.

Or as Ollie said to Stan: "You do your work, and I'll do mine."

Inspiring teachings are now available on the Internet:
More inspiring teachings available at:
(click on "quotes.")

A thoughtful reader wrote to Lamplighter about "Not Being a Jerk." Following is the transcript of the exchange between Thoughtful Reader and your Illuminator:

TR: A way station? Nah, actually it's the first and last stop.

LL: I wouldn't be too sure about that. It's just all too strange to be resolved that simply. But we may never know for sure. Maybe in a million years.

TR: I would think that the goal of civilization has always been cordiality and respectability.

LL: Reminds of when someone asked Gandhi what he thought of Western civilization. "It would be a good idea," he replied.

"Right behavior" is one of the guideposts on the "Eightfold Noble Path" of the Buddha's teaching. It has to do with the rules for monks. Practical stuff, rather than ethical issues. If somebody's doing bad deeds, it's tough for the mind to get into a good place.

But my perception is that there is a step up from ordinary humdrum existence that any ordinary person can take that will have significant benefit in enchancing understanding, as well as making life go better in general. While I can recognize the value of acting in a scrupulous fashion, with cordiality and respectability, putting it into practice takes some doing. But I sense that there is tremendous transformative power available to endeavoring to live a simple, decent life, with courtesy and kindness.

TR: Yes, but nice guys finish last, especially when the race is fixed by media, government, greed machinery. . .

LL:  "They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool."---John Lennon. So don't play their game. Be a lamp unto the world! Let your light shine! Don't let the bastards get you down. Keep smiling. It's our life, not theirs.

But indeed, in the overall social and political context, it seems like an insurmountable task. But the struggle is not for one of opposition. But rather it is in an entriely different context, We should not let the dysfunctional people dictate to us how we live our lives. My thesis is that if we truly connect with our inner being, the rest of that crap falls away. Doors open.

But too many people are asking "What's in it for me?" rather than trying to answer "What am I in it for?" Maybe there's some good sort of social engineering to be done to shift the global group psychology into a more productive mode. B.F. Skinner wrote about that in "Walden II." For sure, the power elites are using all sorts of models and games to push society in a direction that will enhance their power and wealth. We currently see a particularly vile subset of the power elite waging wars, doing torture, setting up a Big Brother apparatus, "catapulting the propaganda."

But other than the usual whining, there is no one saying "Enough is enough," no one with a credible alternative model to change the direction of this country and the global society to ensure peace, propsperity and health for all, both now and in the future. A great opportunity for the emergence of a society based on knowledge and justice is being lost simply because no one believes in anything anymore beyond Jesus and whatever boogeyman the power elites conjure up to scare the rest of us into buying into their crap world.

So the issues are what should we believe in, what will make the world a better place, what techniques shall we use to turn the tide? Ringo's done his part. He's had it made for 40 years. He's come to peace with himself and does a good job of sharing the vibe with as many other people as he can. He's being the best damn Ringo he can be. Fine work. Know thyself. But as for the rest of us who can't live in Monaco, what do we do to make our world, our daily lives a more sensible, more decent, more joyous world for ourselves and others?

There really isn't much choice about it. We can't wait for some outside agent to change our lives for the better. We have to do it for ourselves. Simple pratices can have a profound effect, not only for ourselves, but by means of a ripple affect teh rest of the world.

"I ran across the hidden chord, couldn't learn the changes" -- Robert Hunter.

The redoubtable regis of rhythm, Ringo Starr, performed a special fund-raiser/album promo concert at the El Rey June 29, and Lamplighter recommends that you read all about it here.

I spy, you spy, we all spy for. . .Bush. Remember when the administration called for all American citizens to keep an eye on their neighbors, the postman (or woman), garbage guy, UPS guy, and any suspicious wandering dogs? Guess it didn't work. So. . .

The Presidink has established a "domestic spy agency" within the FBI. Now, you probably think that the guvment has long spied on any ol' citizen it wanted, and you'd probably be right. But now it has been formally institutionalized. Yes, yes, the new "National Security Service" is all in the name of "fighting terrorism," but get this: the NSS can now seize the property and assets of anyone deemed to be helping with the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

thinks the NSS should start by seizing the property and assets of MTV, Clear Channel, and Halliburton.

"We truly do live in the Age of Irony, in an age when satire has become meaningless because real life is more satirical than satire can ever be."
---Arundhati Roy.

"When the president says he is staying the course, that makes me really afraid.  For a leader has to know when to change course.  Hitler did not change his course: rather he kept sending more and more troops to Stalingrad and they suffered more and more casualties. When the president says he is staying the course it reminds me of the man who has just jumped from the Empire State Building.  Halfway down he says, ‘I am still on course.’  Well, I would not want to be on course with a man who will lie splattered in the street.  I would like to be someone who could change the course. Our invasion of Iraq has made it a homeland for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.  Indeed, I believe that it was the very first time that many Iraqis became terrorists.  Before we invaded, they had no idea of terrorism." ---Lt. Gen. William Odom (U.S. Army, ret.), speaking on German television.

Click here.

There are many problems with the press, beginning with its general pack mentality, cowardice and unwillingness to look behind superficial information. Then there is the backasswards news judgement exemplified by the L.A. Times editor, or editors, who on June 28 put the "BTK" killer's lurid confessions on page one, so the public could get its vicarious kicks, while burying on page 12 charges by a top Army Corps of Engineers official that Halliburton got lots of no-bid contracts in Iraq because Uncle Donald Rumsfeld's office helped out. This used to be called scandal, as far as Lamplighter can recall.

But the most damage done to the fourth estate
in recent years has been by pinheads and sociopaths like Jayson Blair, who deliberately and sometimes gleefully made up the articles he wrote. Blair was African-American, and was certainly pushed along and treated with kit gloves by his New York Times editors in the interests of so-called Affirmative Action. But the current trend of plagiarism and fictionalization is hardly the result of favoritism to minorities. Hardly a month goes by, it seems, without some columnist somewhere resigning because his columns cannot be substantiated. Or her columns, as was the case with Sacramento Bee three-times-a-week hotshot Diana Griego Erwin---who resigned when 43 persons profiled and/or quoted in her columns could not be found. That is, they could not be found to exist. That's forty-three.

Ms. Erwin wrote poetically about all sorts of wise and heroic figures, from a local bartender to a Russian immigrant who lost is girlfriend to the tinsel and bright lights of L.A.. A Bee investigation checked voter registration rolls, phone books, property records and various identity databases, but could not come up with anything.

Who are these chuckleheads who are doing
terrific harm not only to journalism, but to public faith in journalism, and by extension, the nation?

figures they are idiots who went to journalism school in the wake of Watergate, when being a reporter looked like a cool thing to do, even if they had no particular knack for the job. Or they are the J-majors who fabricated their assignments and never learned the distinction between the classroom and the newsroom. Or they are just burnouts who like traded integrity for a paycheck.

Here's hoping they all soon get a big -30-.

Or not, as the case may be. For what can you say about the fact that most media watchdogs are all asleep over the weird, weird, weird tale of taxpayer dollars spent on having some doofus watch PBS, and mark various programs "L" for "liberal" and "C" for "conservative?" Perhaps Bush operatives have slipped watchdogs kibble laced with Prozac, Thorazine, Lithium. . .

But it's true, folks! Only Frank Rich of the NYT has given this story its due (so far), but he's one o' them nooyorkinteelectuals, so the Amerigun sheeple are largely unaware. Of course, they are largely unaware, anyhow, but that's another matter. In a textbook bit of what actual journalism should be, NYT reporter Stephen Labaton simply followed the money, and here is what he found:

Karl Rove's pal, Kenneth Tomlinson, who is head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, secretly paid a doofus named Fred Mann $14,170 to sit and watch Bill Moyers' "Now," the Tavis Smiley Show, and listen to NPR's Diane Rehm---in order to determine how much of their content was "liberal" or "conservative."

Never mind that these concepts are relative!

So doofus sat there with his pencil and kept some sort of log, marking down lots of "C's" and "L's." All for Tomlinson's use, whatever that might be.

Hell, Lamplighter would have done this for half the dough!

Just a few years ago, this activity would have been regarded as so insane, so laughable, and so potentially dangerous to free expression and free press that Tomlinson would have promptly resigned in disgrace and embarrasment. Of course, that was before the Bush administration abolished disgrace and embarrassment, replacing them with fascism and intractability.

ON ON. . .
We're a little late getting hip to the On Ensemble (pronounced "ohn") as one of its members is now leaving, but better late than. . .

On performs taiko music, but it is anything but the sometimes regimented and even bellicose presentations often encountered. On's music is richly textured, original, beautiful stuff. Here are a couple of pieces for your dining and dancing pleasure:

"Who would see a replica of man's social structure has only to examine the abundant and various life of the tide pools, where miniature communal societies wage dubious battle against equally potent societies in which the individual is paramount, with trends shifting, maturing, or dying out, with all the living organisms balanced against the limitations of the dead kingdom of rocks and currents and temperatures of dissolved gases. A study of animal communities has this advantage: they are merely what they are, for anyone to see who will and can look clearly; they cannot complicate the picture by worded idealisms, by saying one thing and being another; here the struggle is unmasked and the beauty is unmasked."---Ed Ricketts.

From a lantern-lighter:
"A pair of Iraqi labor leaders are visiting the West Coast. Last night, my wife and I went to hear them and talk with them. They confirmed what peace activists have long known: that U.S. forces went in there to secure the oil fields and to destroy the infrastructure in order to gain lucrative, no-bid contracts for U.S. corporations. Most of the country's oil-producing capacity has been destroyed, and most of the oil that's being tapped now is being exported, leaving little to provide the energy and gasoline that Iraqis need for day-to-day living. The gents said peace will come only when the occupation forces leave, and that that will not give rise to civil war. As bad as life was under Saddam Hussein, it's much worse now.They said also that they were there to appeal for labor solidarity not just between Iraqis and Americans but worldwide."

Funny, but Lamplighter didn't read about this in the papers, or see it on Fox News. . .

Ahmet Zappa (vocals), Dweezil Zappa (guitar), and a group of "sternly acccomplished special guests" will play the music of Frank Zappa in a European tour beginning Oct. 25. This marks the first "duly authorized" (read: family) concert of Zappa's music since the Great Man took the Short Forest Exit in 1993. Read all about it here.

So President "Vice President" Dick Cheney says the Iraq "insurgency" is in its "last throes?" Them's pretty powerful throes! Considering that more troops and civilians are being killed now than before. At least ABC's Terrible Terry Moran had the sense to question Scott "Butterball" McClellan about it. What's gotten into Terry? Is he trying to throe away his job? Read the hilarious transcript here.

Lamplighter read Rep. John Conyers’s letter to the WashPost, rebutting Dana Milbank’s column about the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the Downing Street Memo.

The Downing Street Memo, for those of you who live in the United States, is not a Sherlock Holmes story. It is a memo detailing pre-Iraq war meetings where aides to British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed the fact that, while the case for war was "thin," the Bush Administration was busy making sure that---this is a QUOTE--- "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

(European readers have been reading of this news for weeks, while the U.S. press remains oh, a little bashful about it.)

Fixed, ladies and gentleman. You know, like wrestling. So here you have proof---as if any is really necessary---that the Bush Administration was concocting a bogus pretext for invading Iraq. Of coure, all you need is the Project for a New American Century document written in ’99, which is the blueprint for Bush policies. It calls for invading the Middle East for strategic, economic (oil), and anti-terror reasons. Bush and Cheney and the rest of them planned all this before 9/11 (yawn.)

But back to Conyers. The WashPost’s Milbank sneered at Conyers, and the dozens of other members of Congress on the House committee. This would be fine, of course, as this was not a news article, and it is a columnist’s prerogative to sneer (as readers of Shafts know.)

But if you’re gonna sneer, get your facts straight. Especially if you are a Repugnican hack out for blood. Consider this excerpt from Conyers’s letter:

The article begins with an especially mean and nasty tone, claiming that House Democrats 'pretended' a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room and deriding the decor of the room. Milbank fails to share with his readers one essential fact: the reason the hearing was held in that room, an important piece of context. Despite the fact that a number of other suitable rooms were available in the Capitol and House office buildings, Republicans declined my request for each and every one of them.

But this is just a minor quibble. Best to read the whole Conyers letter to see exactly how rotten and deceitful Milbank’s attack was.

Milbank’s column also made some references to allegedly anti-Semitic remarks and literature at the House hearings. Conyers implies that the remarks had to do with suggesting that Israel determines U.S. Middle East policy:

"In what can only be described as a deliberate effort to discredit the entire hearing, Milbank quotes one of the witnesses as making an anti-Semitic assertion and further describes anti-Semitic literature that was being handed out in the overflow room for the event. First, let me be clear: I consider myself to be a friend and supporter of Israel and there were a number of other staunchly pro-Israel members who were in attendance at the hearing. I do not agree with, support, or condone any comments asserting Israeli control over US policy, and I find any allegation that Israel is trying to dominate the world or had anything to do with the September 11 tragedy disgusting and offensive.”

Yessir, level that anti-Semite charge---overtly or by implication---and you have any elected official backpedaling, scrambling, almost panicking into swearing support for Israel.

Natch, suggesting that Israel had anything to do with 9/11 is OUT THERE. But since when is it anti-Semitic to criticize the influence Israel has in Washington? Since when is it anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of a nation that happens to be a Jewish state? Lamplighter is not a fan of some of Israel’s policies, while a fan of the Israeli people and culture. He would take the same position on the country's policies if Israel were populated entirely by fire-worshipping pygmies.

dimmed a little at the news that the Anti-Defamation League, which is engaged in righteous and noble work, has requested and received an apology from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin for this remark:

"If I read this to you and I did not tell you it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis or Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime, Pol Pot or others that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

Sen. Durbin was referring to an FBI report that claimed prisoners---er, "detainees"---at Guantanamo were chained to the floor in fetal positions, deprived of food and water, and subjected to extreme temperatures.

The ADL seems to have objected to invoking a reference to the Nazis here, in the context of carrying out hideous torture of human beings. Apparently, one is prohibited from drawing an analogy to Nazis unless it is directly and totally comparable to the Holocaust, meaning it must include genocide. So goes the reasoning, at least, of ADL President Abraham H. Foxman:

"All politicians, regardless of party affiliation or political persuasion, must realize that there is a point when inapt comparisons to the Holocaust become odious, especially when used to make a political point or advance a certain agenda. While there is no taboo against invoking the lessons and memory of the Holocaust, inappropriate comparisons to the Nazis only serve to trivialize genocide and insult the memory of the six million."

So Mr. Foxman suggests that Durbin was not genuinely disturbed by the FBI report, and that he was using it "to make a political point or advance a certain agenda." Mr. Foxman further suggests that Sen. Durbin's condemnation of imprisonment and torture of persons who have not been charged with a crime or scheduled for trial is an "inappropriate" comparison to the Holocaust, and insults the memory of the six million Jews who were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered.

Yet it is easy to see that Sen. Durbin had no intention of comparing the alleged torture of "detainees" at Guantanamo to the Holocaust. He suggested that the torture techniques allegedly employed at Guantanamo bring to mind the evils of Nazis, Soviets, "some mad regime," or Pol Pot.

Guess what: He's right. They do. Any torture of human beings anywhere brings to mind the evils of Nazis, Soviets, "some mad regime," Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, etc. When you consider that a number of the released Guantanamo "detainees" had no charges filed against them, and were apparently rounded up indiscriminately---based in part only on their ethnicities(!)---the comparison becomes even stronger.

Yet Sen. Durbin apologized profusely under pressure from Republican Sen. John Warner and the ADL, saying:

"I am sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time. Nothing, nothing, should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy. I am also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military."

The point about negative light being cast on the fine men and women in the military is well taken---but the blame is not on Sen. Durbin. It is on the persons in power who have created Guantanamo and allegedly allowed torture to take place there. And the fact that Sen. Durbin tripped over himself to make it clear he did not "demean or diminish" the tragedy of the Holocaust speaks well for his good conscience, and poorly for the fear of being falsely tainted with implications of anti-Semitism.

That Sen. Warner and the ADL attacked Sen. Durbin for his utterly humanitarian concerns is the thing that raises the suspicion of making "a political point or advancing a certain agenda."

Wondering what else can go wrong? Click here.

You'd better.

Joe Biden for prez? President Joe? Nary a chance. Around here, we call Biden “McCain Lite.” That is, he professes reasonable tendencies, but ultimately votes conservative establishment. He just does it with a friendly, smiley face, instead of a McCain “these eyeballs are lethal weapons” glare.

First problem: Little Joe, as Dave Lindorff pointed out, once admitted that he plagiarized his speeches. Spose the Repugnicans might make an issue outta that, do ya, maybe? Huh?

Then there are the facts that Little Joe is practically a PR man for DuPont Chemical, described by Lindorff as a “virtual feudal overlord” of Delaware. What’s wrong with backing a strong local coroporation? Nothing, if you enjoy poisoned air, water, and labor relations. And Little Joe likes to keep Delaware a place where corporations can set up fake addresses in order to save lots and lots of money, and keep the regulators off their backs.

If that isn't enough, Biden, in fulfilling his role as senior DEMOCRAT on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted for the “PATRIOT” Act, which offers PAT methods of running RIOT over your Constitutional rights. He also voted for the Iraq war, a decision that is looking worse by the minute.

Besides, the guy has a hair transplant.


Ya know, Lamplighter will just bet that most of the sorry souls who stumble across this scribe-ry actually like trees, flowers, and animals.

What’s more, your Illuminator would bet that you like the idea of taking care of nature, preserving beautiful countryside, even helping animals to survive in the face of crazed development.

Which is why even arch-right-wingers should be embarrassed by the likes of the following piece of video propagandizing. Yes, here come the evil Marxist-Commie-Enviro-Wackos! They’re gonna git ya! They’re gonna steal your home right out from under you! They’re takin’ away yerrrr liberty!!!!!!!

Watch the video.

LL does not know who is behind this Newspeak crap, and really doesn’t want to bother finding out. Suffice to say it is part of the massive, massive propagandizing of the impressionable and fearful by the corporate right. Everything is fiendishly, ridiculously couched in terms of “liberty” and “private ownership.” As if---think about this, Bush people---preserving a piece of nature is tantamount to destroying “private ownership!” Or “liberty.”

(It is at his juncture prudent to remind one and all that ownership is only as permanent as your body.)


Developers, profiteers, Halliburton, Wal-Mart, giant corporate churches---they’re behind this kind of stuff, of course. How utterly perverse, twisted, and otherwise ironic that the protection of trees and animals is now being cast as downright un-American! What a howl! Those evil commie Americans like Teddy Roosevelt and Ben Franklin would bust a gut, laughing at this bloated caricature of government “protection” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But many Ameriguns have have been so thoroughly brainbeaten into thinking that the “liberal commies” are out to get them, and destroy “America,” that there is little possibility of rational thought among them. Ironically, the Internet’s avalanche of crazy-quilt information and disinformation leaves most people less informed, less discerning, more subject to influence. Just dress it up in red, white and blue, and give it an authoritative white male voice, and the hypnosis begins.

While real erosion of freedom goes on behind the White House walls.

What is the proof against such fiendish claptrap? A friend of LL called the only hope a “mental tsunami.” Put it this way:

There is always the “critical mass” phenomenon. The question is whether enough people have enough ability to think and perceive, in order to realize they are being duped on a grand scale. But thinking might be unnecessary. Things do “catch on,” like piercing and green hair and “American Idol.” People sense things subliminally, and react---like dogs and cats before an earthquake. Perhaps it will yet become fashionable to reject propagandizing, reject Iraq, reject the actual erosion of freedom here. “Critical mass” reaction is almost kneejerk, after al, or a matter of social physics---more than a matter of thought. And national borders are becoming less and less practical, what with rampant travel, immigration, and corporations with no allegiance to any nation. So blind nationalism, therefore, will be a less potent factor.

Perhaps, then, the tide of the mental tsumani will turn, just as tides always do.

Lamplighter knows a little about newspapers. Not too much, really, but enough to know that there probably is not a newspaper in history that has not exaggerated its circulation figures.

Heavens to Hearst, they’re doing it right now. Look behind circulation figures and you find smoke and mirrors---made to a great extent of giveaways. It’s more complex than that, but you get the drift of the smoke. And mirrors.

Which is why it is time to stop the presses, replate, and otherwise---EXTRA! Over a news story last week which begins: “U.S. authorities Wednesday arrested three former newspaper executives of the newspapers Newsday and Hoy, asserting that they committed fraud by overstating circulation figures.”

Oh my GAWD! Next thing you know, people will start jaywalking. And dogs will urinate in public.

If this does not alarm you, folks, please stick a pin in your arm and/or light a match under your heel, and see if you feel anything. Now, Lamplighter understands that these papers are owned by the Chicago Tribune company, which owns the Laws Anguhleez Times, as Mayor Sam Yorty pronounced it. And Lamplighter understands that the Laws Anguhleez Times is also therefore under suspicion of inflating circulation numbers.

And incidentally, the sun sinks in the west every evening.

Fed spooks grabbed these Newsday/Hoy guys and charged them with jacking up subscriber figures so they could jack up advertising rates. Now, crime is crime, and the Trib Co. is coughing up $90 million to compensate advertisers.

But. . .

The problem, ye of numb skulls and TeeVee-smahsed frontal lobes, is that the guvment, as President Reagan called it, is prosecuting newspapers for. . .inflating circulation figures. If you are good at math, then you can add two and two---the other “two” being the ongoing vilification of the press by the Bush Administration.

If you think this does not add up to harrassment, persecution, and intimidation of a free press, well, you’d better get out that pin again. And this time, jam it real hard. And scream these words: “Why isn’t Kenny Lay in jail!”

Lamplighter offers this cheery reminder here in the final days of freedom of speech and information: the Project For a New American Century, the de facto national security policy of the Bush/Cheney administration, calls for "seizing the commons of cyberspace."

This came to mind after noting that China has done exactly this---requiring all websites and blogs to register with the government, or be shut down. This is done on the pretext of stopping sex and violence and prurient material on the web, but of course, the real reason is to suppress dissent, free speech, free information.

Will W. soon have his way with www?

A belated congratulations to the Repugnican congressman who came up with "Freedom Fries" for realizing that the Iraq war was predicated entirely on lies, and has proven nothing but profoundly disastrous for the entire world.

Yes, Repugnicans are capable of changing their minds and seeing reason. Well at least one is. Walter Jones (R-North Carolina)---also the brilliant mind behind "Freedom Toast"---now says the U.S. attacked Iraq "with no justification." Once a supporter of the war, Jones's office is lined with photos of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

"If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong," he said. "Congress must be told the truth."

Perhaps Jones will wise up completely and call for the removal from office of Bush and Cheney, in view of the Downing Street Memo which proves conclusively that the Bush Administration not only lied about the pretext for invading Iraq, but admitted to concocting the whole pretext in the first place---as The Rip Post and many, many non-mainstream media have long reported.

As for "Freedom Fries," a chagrined Jones now says he wish it had never happened.

The Americans, they are a funny race. . .

Remember "The Time Machine?" Recall the Eloi? These were the young people of the future---all blond, all healthy, all indolent, all completely devoid of responsibility to selves or others, all completely. . .self-confident. They watched with detached amusement as a friend drowned, then lined
up dutifully whenever the whistle blew and marched hypnotically into the caverns where the Morlocks waited to slaughter and eat them.

You know, kind of like mass media/pop culture/Bush administration does with lots of gullible young Ameriguns.

Yes, the Eloi are among us. Did you read the L.A.Times commentary by Marlene Zuk, a prof at UC Riverside? She teaches Eloi students there---kids who are utterly confident that learning is
not terribly important, as long as you have a positive attitude.

This is the bounty, apparently, of the "everyone is special" mentality that has all but erased rewarding of smarter students. Recall "The Incredibles," with its message that "if everyone is special, then no one is?" Too little, too late. Just because you have a wrong answer to a math question, does that make you wrong? Nah, just special. Writes Zuk:

"Maybe it's all that self-esteem this generation of students was inculcated with as youngsters, or maybe it's the emphasis on respecting everyone else's opinion, to the point where no answer, even a mathematical one, can be truly wrong because that might offend the one who gave it. . .As graduation nears, I wonder whether they will become surgeons happily removing the wrong organs or just sales clerks unconcernedly giving incorrect change."

Ex-CSUN Professor Sam Feldman passed away last week at 73, at his retreat in Hawaii. Lamplighter knew and liked Sam when he had him for a prof at CSUN in the early 70s. Sam was an ex-sportswriter with degrees in mass comm (whatever exactly that is), an affable fellow who spearheaded the department's "new journalism" teaching. Lamplighter will never forget one thing Sam said in one of his classes, though he tried to forget it the instant he heard it: "Forget about all that who-what-when-where-why bullshit! I want to know what was going on in your head when you covered that fire." Yes, for a professor, Sam made a good ex-sportswriter. And that's what's going on in our head today.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54

Perhaps you've heard that the great Simian-American actor, Cheetah, lives in contented retirement, well into her 70's, in Palm Springs. Cheetah is an avid painter whose work is displayed in galleries, and is currently fetching quite a price. See more Chimpanzee Art HERE.

"Who would see a replica of man's social structure has only to examine the abundant and various life of the tide pools, where miniature communal societies wage dubious battle against equally potent societies in which the individual is paramount, with trends shifting, maturing, or dying out, with all the living organisms balanced against the limitations of the dead kingdom of rocks and currents and temperatures of dissolved gases. A study of animal communities has this advantage: they are merely what they are, for anyone to see who will and can look clearly; they cannot complicate the picture by worded idealisms, by saying one thing and being another; here the struggle is unmasked and the beauty is unmasked."---Ed Ricketts.

Quoth Gore Vidal, in a new interview:

"Let us say that the old American republic is well and truly dead. The institutions that we thought were eternal proved not to be. And that goes for the three departments of government, and it also goes for the Bill of Rights. So we're in uncharted territory. We're governed by public relations. Very little information gets to the people, thanks to the corruption and/or ineptitude of the media. Just look at this bankruptcy thing that went through--everybody in debt to credit cards, which is apparently 90 percent of the country, is in deep trouble. So the people are uninformed about what's being done in their name.

"And that's really why we are in Iraq. Iraq is a symptom, not a cause. It's a symptom of the passion we have for oil, which is a declining resource in the world. Alternatives can be found, but they will not be found as long as there's one drop of oil or natural gas to be extracted from other nations, preferably by force by the current junta in charge of our affairs. Iraq will end with our defeat."

For the rest of the interview, go to

The great Tom Waits on the copying of his voice and style in a Scandanavian car commercial:

"In answer to the many queries I have received: No, I did not do the Opel car commercial currently running on TV in Scandinavia. I have a long-standing policy against my voice or music being used in commercials and I have lawyers over there investigating my options.

"If I stole an Opel, Lancia or Audi, put my name on it and resold it, I'd go to jail. But over there they ask, you say 'no,' and they hire impersonators. They profit from the association and I lose--time, money, and credibility. What's that about?"

woke at about 3 a.m., from a most bizarro dreamo. He swore to remember every bit of it, but by morning, of course, all that was left was this: A scholarly old friend of Lamplighter was attempting to explain your faithful illuminator to some uncomprehending folk. Possibly journalists. Said Old Friend: "Think of him as a bag-man for the Oceanides." Now, the Oceanides, for those of you who do not consort regularly with sylphs and nymphs, were mythological water sprites in Greek fable. They are also the subject of a wondrous tone poem by Sibelius.

Your redoubtable torch-igniter did not ponder this too deeply, but Old Friend did, after being notified of his guest appearance in Lamplighter's nocturnal reverie. This is what he had to say:

"Well, the Oceanides are both the most rollicking and elevated of archetypes, so I hope you realize that is a rare fellow indeed who would be charged with being their interface, their intermediary, with mere mortals. Bagman to the Oceanides has to remind earthly screw-ups of the debt they owe to these gods. A position of great responsibility, requiring much canny-ness and worldliness, not to mention much humor and discretion. Particularly since when you are requiring payment, many people would say, “who’s he carrying the bag for? These things really don’t exist.” But of course they do. Otherwise why would you be demanding tribute for them and what they stand for? And if you didn’t demand tribute, they and things they stand for, would disappear....Probably, the Oceanides just wanted to send you a thank you card and used dream mail ....

Wow. And Lamplighter thought he was just an irrelevent, anachronistic burnout journalist. Or, as a most charitable columnist in a Los Angeles publication called CityBeat described on-line journalists, "has-beens hawking vanity projects."

Have to get the Oceanides after that columnist.

understands as much about dancing as he does trigonometry. Dense? I'd love to. The last time L. remembers doing anything approximating dancing was at Grateful Dead concerts, when he would sway slightly from side to side, dipping his knees. Pretty demonstrative! But he understands enough to know that the prestigious Lester Horton Dance Award for achievement in music and dance went to the right people this year: choreographer/dancer and founder of Dance Planet Rei Aoo, and taiko master/composer Rev. Tom Kurai of the Los Angeles Taiko Center. Their collaborative work, "Origins," performed last August at the Ford Theater, was a scintillating merger of body and drum. Body in the form of Aoo and her athletic cast of slitherers, leapers, writhers, gliders. Drum in the form of compositions by Kurai, dispatched by his versatile and virtuosic taiko group, Satori Daiko. You may read about Kurai here, and a review of the concert here.


Well, not much has been done in this country to perpetuate the musical legacy of the great Frank Zappa, outside of several fine tribute groups like Project/Object, Bogus Pomp, and Banned From Utopia---and a heroic concert by the Florida Orchestra and Bogus Pomp a few years ago. But Europe has always appreciated FZ more than the US, and thus will Germany undertake its annual Zappanale Festival this summer. Read all about it, if you can:

Meanwhile, see Zappa's legendary appearance on CNN's "Crossfire" at  and

Excerpt from former Sen. Bill Bradley's recent NYT op-ed piece:

When the Goldwater Republicans lost in 1964, they didn't try to become Democrats. They tried to figure out how to make their own ideas more appealing to the voters. As part of this effort, they turned to Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and soon to become a member of the United States Supreme Court. In 1971 he wrote a landmark memo for the United States Chamber of Commerce in which he advocated a sweeping, coordinated and long-term effort to spread conservative ideas on college campuses, in academic journals and in the news media.

To further the party's ideological and political goals, Republicans in the 1970's and 1980's built a comprehensive structure based on Powell's blueprint. Visualize that structure as a pyramid.

You've probably heard some of this before, but let me run through it again. Big individual donors and large foundations - the Scaife family and Olin foundations, for instance - form the base of the pyramid. They finance conservative research centers like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, entities that make up the second level of the pyramid.

The ideas these organizations develop are then pushed up to the third level of the pyramid - the political level. There, strategists like Karl Rove or Ralph Reed or Ken Mehlman take these new ideas and, through polling, focus groups and careful attention to Democratic attacks, convert them into language that will appeal to the broadest electorate. That language is sometimes in the form of an assault on Democrats and at other times in the form of advocacy for a new policy position. The development process can take years. And then there's the fourth level of the pyramid: the partisan news media. Conservative commentators and networks spread these finely honed ideas.

At the very top of the pyramid you'll find the president. Because the pyramid is stable, all you have to do is put a different top on it and it works fine.

It is not quite the "right wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton described, but it is an impressive organization built consciously, carefully and single-mindedly. The Ann Coulters and Grover Norquists don't want to be candidates for anything or cabinet officers for anyone. They know their roles and execute them because they're paid well and believe, I think, in what they're saying. True, there's lots of money involved, but the money makes a difference because it goes toward reinforcing a structure that is already stable.

To understand how the Democratic Party works, invert the pyramid. Imagine a pyramid balancing precariously on its point, which is the presidential candidate.

For the rest of Dollar Bill's depressing piece, go here:

A lantern lighter offered this holiday sentiment:

"It’s Lemming Season. Do you have your license? Hope you will not be on the road. As for my 4th celebration, I do as Pogo did: Simply go into my closet and gently wave my flag and whisper, 'Hooray'. And nobody knows. Nor should they. . .Burn a Burger for Bush this 4th and stop Mad Cow Disease! (Send it to Texas! But, then, they are mad already!)"


Defining a political party is a little like defining "God." Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- has a different conception of the qualities of the label. I suppose one could support a politician calling himself or herself a Republican (or Democrat) if his or her actions and comments match closely enough with one’s own conception of what such a label entails.

At this point I suspect there are few persons calling himself or herself a "Republican" (or "Democrat" for that matter) with whom Lamplighter have much common ground,however. These labels are (or have become, perhaps) useless for conveying any rigidly defined set of ideas or moral convictions.

Just as Bush's "God" isn't your "God "(I hope) or my "God," Bush's "Republican" certainly doesn’t embody the Republican Party’s notion of what constitutes traditional Republican values (balanced budgets, small government, states’ rights). Except no taxes for the rich, of course.

I have always believed such broad labels as "Republican" and "Democrat" (and "God," for that matter) to be so ill defined and undefinable as to be worse than useless.They are nothing more than tools for manipulating large chunks of the American wad who have chosen to identify with such labels. They are used by con artists (whether they call themselves politicians or preachers) to achieve positions of power for personal aggrandisement, nothing more.

Just as WWII Japanese leaders believed they were "God's" finest and knew what was best for all Asia (and used that conviction as justification for invading Manchuria, China and Southeast Asia) and German leaders believed they were "God's" finest and knew what was best for the world (and used that conviction as justification for invading as large a chunk of it as they could forseeably handle), our current American leaders believe they are "God's" finest and know what is best for the world (curiously this turns out to be whatever is best for self-styled American born-again Christians -- imagine that) and have used that conviction as justification for invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

The terrorists also have a set of similar idiotic beliefs that, they believe, justify their actions. All violate basic notions of human decency and extant international law. Laws, and institutions that symbolize (and enforce) the rule of law are impediments to such monomaniacal crackpots, and they believe institutions like the UN must be destroyed.

Speaking of the UN, Bush wants to destroy the it covertly. He believes in the policy espoused by the Project for a New American Century -- that the USA should order and control world affairs through use of threats and force. The UN -- with its quaint notion that laws, rather than force, should order world affairs -- is an impediment to Bush's deeply held racist conviction.

I applaud Colin Powell's recent frankness, in opposing the nomination of John Bolton for UN ambassador. Powell has disputed Bush on a number of issues, yet has caved in to Bush crony demands almost without fail, most conspicuously as when he tried to sell Bush’s war against Iraq to foreign leaders. He is very much "house help," to paraphrase Harry Belafonte's memorable statement of several years ago.

Bush has exploited Powell as a political/racial symbol, and Bush has consistently ignored (or not even sought) Powell's advice on matters of defense and state. Same for Rice, who is, not surprisingly, beginning to believe her press clippings, and has taken to making insulting pronouncements about foreign leaders and posturing about what other
nations should do to fulfill Bush's juvenile notions of world governance.

Powell could have stood up to Bush and put his job on the line over sincere conviction years ago, but repeatedly flunked the test. As a result, Bush has had the PR benefit of Powell's skin-tone and public support, even when Powell believed policies being advanced by the administration to be flawed or even dead wrong and dangerous.

Powell simply likes his title and status too much to let conviction get in the way. He's a "good soldier," to his great detriment. Perhaps his lobbying against Bolton will be a tiny step toward redeeming his contribution to the country.


Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead lyricist/songwriting partner of Jerry Garcia, offers this bit of thinking, also most apt in light of the tragedy of the day:

"Disaster upon disaster punching the world in the belly before it can recover from the last - already talk about learning to validate your despair, programs on the dark night of the soul, and then this flood like a canker in the eye of God and maybe we deserve it and maybe we don't - I retreat to my scales, the symmetry of do-re-mi, believing what Garcia said: 'no time spent at music is ever wasted.
    "As this dire new year descends I recommend the attitude toward disaster elucidated in Yellow Submarine: 'Play the Quartet!' I have a recording of Landowska performing Scarlatti Sonatas on harpsichord while London is being bombed by Nazis, you can hear the explosions. The I Ching, world's oldest book, says when you can't do jackshit about the big picture, the only thing that furthers is to work on something small. Have a resolute New Year!"
    For more of the great man's observations, click HERE.

Iran, which President Bush had labeled an "axis of evil" with North Korea and prewar Iraq, was named an "outpost of tyranny" last month by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. You say evil, I say tyranny, let's call the whole thing off.

From "President" Bush's declaration of war, er, that is, State of the Union address:

"We will pass along to our children all the FREEDOMS we enjoy -- and chief among them is FREEDOM from fear. ...The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human FREEDOM. ...America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. ...And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of FREEDOM will lead to peace. ... The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are now showing the power of FREEDOM to break old patterns of violence and failure. ... To promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the United States will work with our friends in the region to fight the common threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard of FREEDOM. ...We expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to FREEDOM. Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror -- pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the FREEDOM they seek and deserve. ... Our generational commitment to the advance of FREEDOM, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq. ...And the victory of FREEDOM in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the war on terror ... We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for their own FREEDOM, and to write their own history. ...We are standing for the FREEDOM of our Iraqi friends, and FREEDOM in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come. ...And we have said farewell to some very good men and women, who died for our FREEDOM, and whose memory this nation will honor forever. ...Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor FREEDOM'S defenders, and our military families. ...The attack on FREEDOM in our world has reaffirmed our confidence in FREEDOM'S power to change the world. We are all part of a great venture, to extend the promise of FREEDOM in our country... and to spread the peace that FREEDOM brings. ...The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable -- yet we know where it leads. It leads to FREEDOM. Thank you, and may God bless America."

Keep America free and dumb. (Thanks to

Lamplighter received the following astounding report from a father who volunteered as a chaperone at a senior prom in what would be considered an excellent suburban American high school. The father asked to remain anonymous---in concern over reprisals by the school or students---but Lamplighter is well acquainted with the father and can vouch for his integrity and the accuracy of this report. Hold on to your hats, boys and girls. . .

I 'chaperoned' the prom again. Keep in mind this is an upper middle class high school which is consistently rated among the top academic institutions in the state.

My position is always up front on the stage where the DJ and the huge array of speakers are located. My 'job' is to survey the sweating mass of 'dancers' below, and to go down into the midst of the seething hive itself to stop 'inappropriate' behavior.

And a 'hive' is exactly how it appears.

Each year, I can hardly believe what I see. Most of the 'next generation' are high on xtc or swilled with booze, and the 'dancing' is nothing much more than the 'girls' stradling the thighs of their 'dance' partners and grinding their private parts up and down to the 'rhythm' of the 'music' ...for three NON-STOP hours.

The male's hands usually have a free pass to roam and caress essentially every inch of the girl's body, and many times his hands wind up glued to the girl's rump, raising it up and down and helping her grind even harder on his thigh... all to the demanding bass beat of the DJ's hip-hop inventory.

Their faces are usually stoic, nearly unseeing masks of xtc-insulated 'elsewhere'...and when I speak at them above the 100 db roar, there is usually no response...not a hint of recognition or awareness of my presence.

I will then tap them on the back or shoulder...often with still no response. They are grinding right next to me. Eyes are open, nobody home. Faces a mask of nearly neutered emotional expression, save an occasional laugh or smile. This is serious business.

I notice some of the girls mindlessly mouth the lyrics to *every* 'song' served up. Scary.

I then grab an arm or bicep...often enormously muscled from football or some other passtime...and squeeze hard. That almost always works and only then do they snap out of their grinding bliss and briefly or toss off a derisive laugh...and then turn and melt deeper into the hive of their drone bretheren to continue their Xstatic physical sexual melding.

When I do 'interrupt' some of the near masturbatory 'dancing', I am always amazed at how the hive opens on some cosmic cue - as if it is a huge consciousness - to allow the 'interrupted' to move further within, and then immediately closes behind them 'protection' as it were.

Hundreds of bodies are revelling in a rhythmic lust on the darkened prom floor; scores of girls with legs akimbo straddling their partners' thighs. Stop them? No way. The most I can do is interrupt them.

I look the other direction and see a male student - maybe six feet away - with one grinding teen on each thigh! Both of these girls are tittering and laughing. By comparison, he looks like a zombie. All three are 'dancing' in unison...up, down, up, down... if they weren't chemically-augmented, I doubt they could do it so well. They are moving as one. In fact... so is the entire hive.

No talking, no social interaction. Girls dance together and occasionally grind on each other, identically aggressive to the male-female couples. The 'music' - carefully-cadenced pieces to promote animalistic foreplay (and judging by some of the females, success beyond) - never stops. 

Most of the chaperones are clueless to the drugged state. I say nothing to them. The 'kids' slide up and down, and grind and often grope hour after hour, mindless of being soaked in sweat. I do what I can...but they are usually right back at it within seconds. I have to adjust my standards of enforcement to this new norm of 'expression.' They drink no water (certainly aware of the xtc warnings about doing so). It is it is interesting to watch some of them react to their drugs by laughing and howling and giggling, often for most of the 3 straight hours. Everything is the 'big laugh.'

If a chaperone is a voyeur, it is a bonanza of flesh and young hormonally exploding nubility. There is plenty on display that is often ridiculously 'perfect' in the People/tabloid magazine template. But to me, it far closer to a flat, colorless, one dimensional, pitiable morbidity...most of them are on an express train to nowhere. No ambition, no real direction, no passion to individually succeed in life, and totally clueless to what it happening to them and of their destiny in this 'society'.. Media is their God. Most of the females use their sexual currency with NO understanding of its worth or how quickly it is dissipated. Pathetic.

There are exceptions, yes, but in a school (most ALL schools) where peer pressure takes few prisoners and the 'students' control the classroom and routinely talk back to and tell the teachers to 'f--- off, Mr. Whatever', there is absolutely no hope. They are intellectually stillborn ...the walking mentally zombies with 400--500 word vocabularies. Frightening to behold.

But this is the PLAN of the social engineers implementing the dumbing down of America. and the plan is a staggering success.


Lamplighter notes that "writer" Tom Frank has a piece in The New Republic, in which he calls for torturing and killing "leftists" (read: those who do not agree with him) and internationally noted peace activist Arundhati Roy. Yessir, now that's exactly what democracy is all about! Damn good example to set for all those Iraqis who had their tongues cut by Saddam for oh, telling bad jokes. This is just what free speech means, right? To publically call for the death, torture, and execution of people who don't share your taste in international affairs. Sure. And it also comes with a criminal penalty for making terrorist threats---or should. Imagine if a "leftist" writer called for the deaths of prominent exponents of current U.S. policy. S'pose Richard Perle and Karl Rove would laugh it off? S'pose the FBI would?

Just in case you were still wondering who runs the country, you might want to visit here.

Many a president has quoted the Bible in a speech or two. No big deal. But Bush quotes it without telling you. Why? It's a secret encoded message to his fellow Jesus Freaks in the "Christian right." Gee whiz, kids, what fun! It's just like when they gave out secret codes on the Little Orphan Annie radio show back in the '40s---except this is even more fun, 'cause it might lead to world war! Read all about it here, here, and here.

Lamplighter came across this passage from Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger":

"I did not like to hear our race called sheep, and said I did not think they were.

"Still, it is true, lamb," said Satan. "Look at you in war - what mutton you are, and how ridiculous!"

"In war? How?"

"There has never been a just one, never an honorable one - on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object - at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and here is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you willsee this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers - as earlier - but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation - pulpit and all - will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

When you think of George W. "President" Bush, well, Abraham Lincoln comes quickly to mind, doesn't he? See how they stack up here!

From Simon Prentis, chief lexicographer of the Department of Frankology, comes this apt observation for present day tragedy:

"My recommended approach would be this: You can bet everything will come to an end. It's going to be ugly and it's going to be a mess, and it's going to be something somebody did in the name of God, okay? Whether it's us saying that God's on our side because we're tremendous Christians and we're protecting our religion and our flag, or whether it's a Moslem saying the infidels must die, or whether it's a communist saying there is no god and we're doing this for the people, the point is they're going to do it in the name of something greater than themselves, but you can bet your ass they're going to do it... So the question is, what do you do with your spare time until you're a cinder? And the answer is, you do whatever you can that makes your particular life more beautiful, and you get involved in art. 'Cause that's what makes things beautiful."

"I think that if you had to choose between playing football or doing art, you'd probably be better off doing art, because if everything does disappear, the only thing that is going to be worth digging up later on is the art, not the footballs. To me that would be a better way of spending your waning hours, and that is what we're talking about."

Fifty years ago this past December, what Lamplighter believes to have been the best newspaper in Los Angeles history went out of business. Or, as an ex-staffer of the (original) Los Angeles Daily News put it, this is the 50th anniversary of "our publisher's scheming with the Los Angeles Times to clear bankruptcy proceedings by denying us severance pay and back salaries while delivering his circulation lists, etc., to Times-Mirror in exchange for a 'salary' of $125,000 or so to write a 'liberal' column for the Chandlers."

That publisher was one Clinton McKinnon, not Daily News founder and publisher Manchester Boddy, who bailed out a couple years earlier, apparently bored with the newspaper business and correctly fearing the popularity of television. For decades, Boddy had presided over "the only Democratic newspaper west of the Rockies," the lone liberal paper in a six-newspaper town. The only paper to pay any serious attention to minority issues, the favorite paper of the working man and woman, a paper with crackerjack writing and a sense of humor.

An old colleague of Lamplighter's by the name of Art Rense was a sports columnist at the Daily News, whose ranks included many who went on to become bastions of L.A. journalism: Times columnist Jack Smith, Paul Weeks, Sparky Saldana, and Sara Boynoff among them.

The original building still stands at Pico and Los Angeles Streets, now a sweatshop whose rollicking history is unknown to passers-by. That last of the "Newsies" were honored Dec. 1 by the Old Farts Society (retired newspaperfolk), an event that went absolutely and shamefully unnoticed by local media. Except The Rip Post.

For more on the history of this wonderful newspaper, see Rob Wagner's excellent book, "Red Ink, White Lies," and click here for the Daily News tribute page. -30-

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of
witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the
people, recovering their true sight, restore their
government to its true principles. It is true that in
the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and
incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt......If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience until luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is
a game where principles are at stake."
---Thomas Jefferson, in a 1798 letter

Well, this was the path chosen
by Claudius to restore the Roman Republic, when he chose Nero as his successor over his natural son Germanicus (I believe) who was a decent sort. He believed that if someone as evil as Nero were allowed to take control, the depredations would be so obvious and grievous that the country would come to its senses and restore the Republic (at least if the books "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God" are accurate). It didn't work; the control gained by the Imperial Guard was so complete that dissent was permanently stifled. Who would have thought that democracy and our Constitution were so fragile?

There are two ways to go on this. One can either believe the majority of Americans were secretly disenfranchised, and that Kerry actually won. Or, one can accept the fact that America is (and always has been) a nation deeply divided, and that the "God-fearing" -- note well the word "fear" -- and the racists have gained ascendancy.

Bush received the agrarian and middle class vote. He did not get the votes of the Blacks (probably on the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale) or the suburbs (probably on the high end of the socioeconomic scale). He got the votes of the "wad," as Norman Mailer so correctly characterized the center of the American electorate nearly a half-century ago.

One can tally up Bush's voting blocks: the Born-Agains, the Mid-America Whites (who hate and distrust the "big-city folks" and their social norms), the crackers (who were swayed by the terror campaigns and thinly-veiled racism that goes along with being a born-again), the old folks (who are also scared to death of "terrorists").

Kerry, through default, mostly, got the urban populations, the better-educated, the non-cracker poor. It is pretty hard to oust an incumbent, and even harder to oust an incumbent during a war, where he wears the mantle of the "protector of the people." Only happened once I'm aware of, when Johnson decided not to run (after having served more than five years) because it was pretty clear that he would not win his own party's nomination.

The election of some of the far right senators -- those who oppose all abortions, who would ban homosexuals and unwed mothers from teaching positions, and similar positions) -- underscores the ascendancy of TV evangelism, which will probably have a greater impact next election, and the election after that.

What the election will certainly do is end America's influence overseas. Whatever moral leadership we once commanded is lost. Our only influence will be via threat of force, and threat of economic sanctions. The dictators of the world can rest easy.

It remains to be seen how much more money Bush can squeeze from the economy or gain from Congress to fund the plans for world domination of Cheney and his group. There clearly aren't enough soldiers and there isn't enough cash right now. They'll print more
money and hope the world props up the sinking value of the dollar to protect their own interests. Bush will probably have the privilege of appointing more than one supreme court justice, although the democrats are still strong enough to block the worst nominations. We may be declared a "Christian Nation" shortly.

It occurred to Lamplighter that Iraq is substantially MORE religious now than under Hussein, who was stridently anti-Muslim, since the Mosque represented a challenge to his power.

Saddam did not allow women to wear the traditional headgarb and veils, exactly the opposite of the Taliban. Now that extremist elements are in charge of large parts of Iraq, the women who were forbidden to wear traditional Muslim clothing under the old regime are now putting on the traditional Muslim coverings in order to avoid being harassed or worse by these more extreme religious elements. This is precisely the opposite of what we said we sought in Afghanistan, where freeing the women of the oppressive garb was a stated goal. If we wanted a secular Muslim society where Islam did not dominate, Iraq was the place (more so than many other Middle East nations). Ironic, no?

The charge of "liberal press" always amuses Lamplighter. Are compassion and a sense of justice liberal? Attention: ignorant viewers of Fox News: This came our way from a staffer at a U.S. daily. . .

"Although I have not been a practicing Catholic since I was a teenager, I assimilated the values of justice and compassion (from my religion.) As a student, I found that journalism was a good means to express those values. I was inspired by the muckrakers, by Liebling, by I.F. Stone, by Watergate.

"This perspective is reflected in the old quotes: 'The duty of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable' and 'It is a newspaper's duty to print the news and raise hell.' This led to my becoming an award-winning editor in college. I soon found out that managers and editors in the corporate media were more interested in being defenders of the status quo. Yet I retain my core values; they give me a sense of purpose and integrity in an industry too often bereft of motives other than the profit motive.

"A newspaper should reflect the needs and interests of the broadest range of its readers. While there has been increasing sensitivity in newsrooms to racial or ethnic diversity, there is a lack of awareness about the economic diversity of the readership. My efforts to raise this perspective in the newsroom have been met with outright rejection. My values apparently are at odds with those of senior editors who socialize with celebrities, live in tony enclaves and have tables at chic restaurants.

"Indeed, in one instance I was accused by an ambitious, but inept, manager of political bias when I applied usual editing standards to a story that was full of holes. So newsrooms are not hospitable places for those who question the socioeconomic consensus that now permeates the mass media."

Lamplighter recommends a book: Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom and What You Can Do About It", by Jamie Court - Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin: 324 pp., $15.95 paper.

Here's an excerpt from a review by Merle Rubin: "The campaign to enshrine corporate ideology has proved so successful that many now unthinkingly believe that freedom is identical with free enterprise and that society, culture and morality are all reducible to the marketplace."

Salient! Why, Lamplighter had a friend who proudly embraces this very value: freedom means corporate freedom. How nuts is that? Here's another excerpt:

"Catering to (and sometimes artificially creating) the demands of the marketplace, as Court explains, is not the same as providing for the social, cultural and health needs of individuals. Television 'news' consisting of scandal and crime may reap a high ratings share, but it does not keep the public well informed about its political choices. Junk food, recreational drugs, cigarettes, violent and pornographic films, and video games may sell, but they certainly don't enhance the well-being of those who consume them or of society in general."

Here he has exposed the Big Lie of all Demographers and Corporate Pirates: we are giving the public what it wants. Not true! Not true! They are giving the hapless public what it will respond to. That which it is helpless to resist.

And here's a notion that ought to scare the bucks out of every sallow-complected CEO in the country: The first corporations were given charters on one condition: that they serve public interest! Othewise, their charters would be revoked! Bring back that idea, and the country goes out of business. . .

Confused? Have another Twinkie and relax over a good viewing of "Extreme Makeover."

Defining a political party is a little like defining "God." Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- has a different conception of the qualities of the label. I suppose one could support a politician calling himself or herself a Republican (or Democrat) if his or her actions and comments match closely enough with one’s own conception of what such a label entails.

At this point I suspect there are few persons calling himself or herself a "Republican" (or "Democrat" for that matter) with whom Lamplighter have much common ground,however. These labels are (or have become, perhaps) useless for conveying any rigidly defined set of ideas or moral convictions.

Just as Bush's "God" isn't your "God "(I hope) or my "God," Bush's "Republican" certainly doesn’t embody the Republican Party’s notion of what constitutes traditional Republican values (balanced budgets, small government, states’ rights). Except no taxes for the rich, of course.

I have always believed such broad labels as "Republican" and "Democrat" (and "God," for that matter) to be so ill defined and undefinable as to be worse than useless.They are nothing more than tools for manipulating large chunks of the American wad who have chosen to identify with such labels. They are used by con artists (whether they call themselves politicians or preachers) to achieve positions of power for personal aggrandisement, nothing more.

Just as WWII Japanese leaders believed they were "God's" finest and knew what was best for all Asia (and used that conviction as justification for invading Manchuria, China and Southeast Asia) and German leaders believed they were "God's" finest and knew what was best for the world (and used that conviction as justification for invading as large a chunk of it as they could forseeably handle), our current American leaders believe they are "God's" finest and know what is best for the world (curiously this turns out to be whatever is best for self-styled American born-again Christians -- imagine that) and have used that conviction as justification for invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

The terrorists also have a set of similar idiotic beliefs that, they believe, justify their actions. All violate basic notions of human decency and extant international law. Laws, and institutions that symbolize (and enforce) the rule of law are impediments to such monomaniacal crackpots, and they believe institutions like the UN must be destroyed.

Speaking of the UN, Bush wants to destroy the it covertly. He believes in the policy espoused by the Project for a New American Century -- that the USA should order and control world affairs through use of threats and force. The UN -- with its quaint notion that laws, rather than force, should order world affairs -- is an impediment to Bush's deeply held racist conviction.

I applaud Colin Powell's recent frankness, in opposing the nomination of John Bolton for UN ambassador. Powell has disputed Bush on a number of issues, yet has caved in to Bush crony demands almost without fail, most conspicuously as when he tried to sell Bush’s war against Iraq to foreign leaders. He is very much "house help," to paraphrase Harry Belafonte's memorable statement of several years ago.

Bush has exploited Powell as a political/racial symbol, and Bush has consistently ignored (or not even sought) Powell's advice on matters of defense and state. Same for Rice, who is, not surprisingly, beginning to believe her press clippings, and has taken to making insulting pronouncements about foreign leaders and posturing about what other
nations should do to fulfill Bush's juvenile notions of world governance.

Powell could have stood up to Bush and put his job on the line over sincere conviction years ago, but repeatedly flunked the test. As a result, Bush has had the PR benefit of Powell's skin-tone and public support, even when Powell believed policies being advanced by the administration to be flawed or even dead wrong and dangerous.

Powell simply likes his title and status too much to let conviction get in the way. He's a "good soldier," to his great detriment. Perhaps his lobbying against Bolton will be a tiny step toward redeeming his contribution to the country.

The great Tom Waits on the copying of his voice and style in a Scandanavian car commercial:

"In answer to the many queries I have received: No, I did not do the Opel car commercial currently running on TV in Scandinavia. I have a long-standing policy against my voice or music being used in commercials and I have lawyers over there investigating my options.

"If I stole an Opel, Lancia or Audi, put my name on it and resold it, I'd go to jail. But over there they ask, you say 'no,' and they hire impersonators. They profit from the association and I lose--time, money, and credibility. What's that about?"

woke at about 3 a.m., from a most bizarro dreamo. He swore to remember every bit of it, but by morning, of course, all that was left was this: A scholarly old friend of Lamplighter was attempting to explain your faithful illuminator to some uncomprehending folk. Possibly journalists. Said Old Friend: "Think of him as a bag-man for the Oceanides." Now, the Oceanides, for those of you who do not consort regularly with sylphs and nymphs, were mythological water sprites in Greek fable. They are also the subject of a wondrous tone poem by Sibelius.

Your redoubtable torch-igniter did not ponder this too deeply, but Old Friend did, after being notified of his guest appearance in Lamplighter's nocturnal reverie. This is what he had to say:

"Well, the Oceanides are both the most rollicking and elevated of archetypes, so I hope you realize that is a rare fellow indeed who would be charged with being their interface, their intermediary, with mere mortals. Bagman to the Oceanides has to remind earthly screw-ups of the debt they owe to these gods. A position of great responsibility, requiring much canny-ness and worldliness, not to mention much humor and discretion. Particularly since when you are requiring payment, many people would say, “who’s he carrying the bag for? These things really don’t exist.” But of course they do. Otherwise why would you be demanding tribute for them and what they stand for? And if you didn’t demand tribute, they and things they stand for, would disappear....Probably, the Oceanides just wanted to send you a thank you card and used dream mail ....

Wow. And Lamplighter thought he was just an irrelevent, anachronistic burnout journalist. Or, as a most charitable columnist in a Los Angeles publication called CityBeat described on-line journalists, "has-beens hawking vanity projects."

Have to get the Oceanides after that columnist.

understands as much about dancing as he does trigonometry. Dense? I'd love to. The last time L. remembers doing anything approximating dancing was at Grateful Dead concerts, when he would sway slightly from side to side, dipping his knees. Pretty demonstrative! But he understands enough to know that the prestigious Lester Horton Dance Award for achievement in music and dance went to the right people this year: choreographer/dancer and founder of Dance Planet Rei Aoo, and taiko master/composer Rev. Tom Kurai of the Los Angeles Taiko Center. Their collaborative work, "Origins," performed last August at the Ford Theater, was a scintillating merger of body and drum. Body in the form of Aoo and her athletic cast of slitherers, leapers, writhers, gliders. Drum in the form of compositions by Kurai, dispatched by his versatile and virtuosic taiko group, Satori Daiko. You may read about Kurai here, and a review of the concert here.

Quoth Gore Vidal, in a new interview:

"Let us say that the old American republic is well and truly dead. The institutions that we thought were eternal proved not to be. And that goes for the three departments of government, and it also goes for the Bill of Rights. So we're in uncharted territory. We're governed by public relations. Very little information gets to the people, thanks to the corruption and/or ineptitude of the media. Just look at this bankruptcy thing that went through--everybody in debt to credit cards, which is apparently 90 percent of the country, is in deep trouble. So the people are uninformed about what's being done in their name.

"And that's really why we are in Iraq. Iraq is a symptom, not a cause. It's a symptom of the passion we have for oil, which is a declining resource in the world. Alternatives can be found, but they will not be found as long as there's one drop of oil or natural gas to be extracted from other nations, preferably by force by the current junta in charge of our affairs. Iraq will end with our defeat."

For the rest of the interview, go to

Well, not much has been done in this country to perpetuate the musical legacy of the great Frank Zappa, outside of several fine tribute groups like Project/Object, Bogus Pomp, and Banned From Utopia---and a heroic concert by the Florida Orchestra and Bogus Pomp a few years ago. But Europe has always appreciated FZ more than the US, and thus will Germany undertake its annual Zappanale Festival this summer. Read all about it, if you can:

Meanwhile, see Zappa's legendary appearance on CNN's "Crossfire" at  and

Iraq. Social Security. Russia arming itself to the teeth with new missiles and nukes. Iran. Crazy Wahabists. Crazy "Christians." Pfffffft. Nothing. Meaningless. Panicked ant frenzy. Here's the real news:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An outcast star is zooming out of the Milky Way, the first ever seen escaping the galaxy, astronomers have reported. The star is heading for the emptiness of intergalactic space after being ejected from the heart of the Milky Way following a close encounter with a black hole, said Warren Brown, an astronomer at theHarvard- Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics."

Americans will be relieved that the star, which is traveling at about 1.5 million miles per hour, poses no immediate threat to the Michael Jackson trial.

Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?---Robert Hunter.

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