Here's 10 more watershed moments of the past year whose impact will most likely be felt long after Dick Clark's balls drop on New York City and Los Angeles.
Talk about a loser's strategy. First, Joseph Lieberman caves in to conservatives by calling out Bill Clinton's sexual explorations with a Beverly Hills moocow on the floor of Congress. Then, he gets the nod to crouch in Al Gore's hip pocket for the 2000 election, a Jiminy Cricket of sorts promising to bring morals and ethics back to the White House (I'll have some of whatever he's smoking). That move, as we all know, was an unmitigated disaster, a cave-in to the Bible-thumping right looking to repeal every civil liberty and sociopolitical gain established in the last fifty years. Democrats -- who under Clinton at least got to talk about gays, universal healthcare, poverty, sex, gender and the environment -- collectively coughed up their spleens and ditched the party for Ralph Nader, Lyndon Larouche, Dubya, whoever they could find. Some didn't even show up to vote, mostly because they couldn't spot the difference between Bush and Gore (who couldn't seem to find anything to disagree about).
The result? Gore lost the election but not the vote; whether that was because of shenanigans or the sheer fact that he is a pussy who gave into the Supremes doesn't really matter anymore. What does matter is that Gore forgot who the hell he was and Lieberman knew who the hell he was, and neither of these walking downers could galvanize a cockroach. Fast forward to 2003, and Gore suddenly has his memory back -- endorsing populist hero Howard Dean, railing against Ashcroft and his ass-backwards Justice Department, calling out Bush's Iraq escapade as an overproduced oil grab -- but it's too little too late, because he's already irrelevant. And Lieberman? I actually heard him say this the other day: "If you're not sure about Dean or Clark, I'm your guy!" The dude can't even give himself a ringing endorsement. In short, he's a joke -- although one favored by conservatives on MSNBC and Fox News, who encourage his Dean-bashing. Which is itself -- for all involved -- an act of desperation that will not, and has not, worked.
That, my friends, is called a sign from Da Lord.
As for the other entrenched Democrats like Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards and company -- but not the excellent Kucinich, who definitely knows which way the bullshit is blowing -- they need to stop taking the brown acid. They have endlessly lamented the way Bush has "misled" Congress into giving him every power other than that which allows him to mandate that citizens wear their underwear outside of their clothes, but if Bush has zero evidence of actual WMD now -- real ones, not half-assed programs to build them -- then he didn't have any back when it really counted. Which means that those losers simply let him lie his way into this war and demanded nothing of him. Are those the kind of spineless tools we want running the country?
Look, the choice is clear: Dean is the only guy who knows what the hell he's doing these days -- and he's totally new to it; the latecomer Wesley Clark may get there, but only because the Clintons will hold his hand. In other words, the wimpy Demos need to take their cue from the audacious Republicans -- raise up, shut up and get in line if you want to win. Dean may not be the guy to beat Bush in 2004, but he's undoubtedly the people's choice. That used to mean something; the Democrats, especially the clueless Lieberman, might want to think about why it doesn't anymore.
Let's just clear away the debris while we can, because memories are short. A couple decades ago, Saddam Hussein was a brutal thug who lied, cheated, stole and grifted his way to the top in Iraq. A few months ago, he was the same, except that he was no longer an American ally on Washington's payroll, one supplied with chemical weapons and our blessing (both of which he used at will for us on the hated Iranians).
So he gassed the Kurds along the way; we could give two shits, as long as the Middle East, an explosive hotbed of religious fundamentalism, was under his iron fist. In fact, according to recently declassified but nevertheless well-known information, our own senile Donald Rumsfeld (remember the "unknown unknowns" speech? classic!) shook the guy's hand and all but told him to keep on keepin' on (gassing his enemies, that is). There's video of it, for Christ's sake.
Like Ferdinand Marcos, Augusto Pinochet, Manuel Noriega, Pervez Musharraf, Joseph Stalin and onward, Saddam is simply one in a long line of dictators the United States supported in hopes of fortifying American business as usual. But then he overstepped his bounds, most notably by threatening the monarchs of Kuwait (and by extension, Saudi Arabia) who we call friends, even though they also happen to operate some of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Poppy Bush got mad, and then Junior got even, by bombing the shit out of and then occupying Hussein's country, killing, as of this writing, anywhere from approximately 8,000-10,000 civilians (not soliders; they don't get counted) on the way. That's almost three times as many civilians that died on September 11th, a harrowing historical event that Dubya invoked as he hammered his way to Baghdad (noting, much later when it became convenient, that the two had nothing to do with each other).
Which begs the question -- What ultimately led the United States to kill three times the amount of people that were lost on 9/11?
WMD? Nope, we haven't found any (although some knobs on Capitol Hill proclaim this is the reason they signed off on the excursion). Because of the so-called War on Terrorism? Nice try -- while almost all of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, none were Iraqis, and no concrete connection between Saddam and 9/11 has been unearthed. OK, how about, er� preemptive retaliation? Fat chance -- Saddam couldn't weaponize chemicals if he had Enrico Fermi chilling in Basra.
So what's left? Get this -- democracy.
Some fundamentalist policy hacks named Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and more figured that the best way to counter other fundamentalists on their home turf and spread the democratic seed was to invade Saddam's country and kill thousands of innocents in the name of freedom. They figured that both Iraqi Muslims and secularists would drop to their knees and praise U.S. soldiers and the bombs they dropped as liberators, and Iraq's thousands of years of history and culture would melt away like Bush's WMD evidence (well, the culture in Iraq's museums did melt away, but from the heat of the fires). Along the way, they enriched their friends at Halliburton (who overcharged America millions to supply Iraq, not the U.S., with oil) and Bechtel, privatized Iraq's social net (hey, it didn't work here; might as well try somewhere else), and laid off half the country.
OK, that last one might be an exaggeration, but the whole scenario is so cartoonish that Bugs Bunny would be suing for infringement if it wasn't for the fact that the dead bodies could populate every room in the lavish palaces that now conveniently function as American bases of operation. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, indeed. No matter where you stand on Saddam, he is a red herring. The true meaning of the war on Iraq lies in�.
Saudi Arabia: The Magic Kingdom
Poof! Just like that, they were gone. The smoke was barely clearing from bin Laden's masterminded assaults by the time all of his kin who were in America were summarily safely squired out of it -- by Americans. Forget that they might have had something to do with the 9/11 attacks, or perhaps knew someone who knew someone (like Osama?) who did -- while the rest of America was rerouted, the President of the United States allowed members of Osama's family to ride his planes out of the country gratis.
Why? Because Saudis are rich, very rich, and also because Bush is friends with them. We all are, don't you know?
Forget that they're Wahabi fundamentalists who would like nothing more than to lower Mohammed's sword on the necks of infidels everywhere, or that they're not even a democracy -- they've got money and they've got oil, therefore they are untouchable. And they, not Saddam, are the reason we're killing and dying in Iraq.
See, Saudi oil is untouchable, Iraq's is not. Bush has friendly biz connections with the Saudi royals (who helped fund all of his pre-White House business failures), while he has nothing to like about Iraq, except its oil reserves, the second largest in the world. James Baker, the guy he sent to beg nations to forgive Iraq's debt? Attorney for Saudi Arabia. 9/11 hijackers? Mostly Saudis. Terror sponsoring nations? Start with the Saudis.
The evidence for bombing the shit out of Saudi Arabia is practically incontrovertible; no country in the Middle East has done more to encourage the type of murderous invention we suffered on 9/11. But we went to Iraq instead, and took on a pitiable regime in an easy-to-predict cakewalk; in fact, the Iraq contest was so predictable that we didn't even bother planning the aftermath, which to date has been an unmitigated failure. And that kind of shit, if you can follow this, that makes us the kind of undemocratic occupiers we like to invade in the name of democracy. The incestuous circularity of the whole thing can make you crazy.
Although Saudi Arabia's moment of triumph was found in the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center over two years ago, it is quite possibly the most important story of 2003. If anyone was actually paying attention, that is. Too bad no one was.
My 50 Cent Worth
Oh man, where to start? How about at the beginning? Curtis Jackson, like so many Americans, grew up the product of a broken home occasioned by hustlers and addicts, and like many rappers before him, decided to turn away from crime and toward music. That is, until he found out that the industry is crawling with white execs drooling at the prospect of selling the Bulletproof Black to the white consumers who fuel entertainment's considerable market -- at which point crime was just fine, thanks!
Sure, African-Americans buy his stuff, but their sales percentages alone couldn't propel a naked Beyonce (her time will come) to the top of the charts without massive help from the rest of the world. Which leaves us with the same tired Horatio Alger shit we've seen before, this time featuring probably some of the worst rhyme skills this side of Vanilla Ice and more video-hos-for-rent than a Dirty South convention. It's a good thing that 50 wears that Kevlar vest -- in an act of genius publicity, he also bought one for his son -- because if Biggie Smalls ever comes back from the dead, he'll probably want to fill him with holes for degrading hip-hop's lyrical tradition.
But 50 is far from the problem, he's just the latest wack rapper with no talent to receive massive industry backing. No, the real problem here is the continuing collective support of hip-hop violence, especially in a year that saw some amazing releases -- Outkast's double joint, Diverse's One A.M., anything Madlib touched, anything Def Jux released, the list goes on -- in the genre. Didn't any of these cats learn anything from the Tupac-Biggie blood feud?
I'll share a secret with all of you: 50 Cent is not bulletproof. One well-placed shot -- or rhyme from an opposing rapper -- will take him out so quickly that no one will ever remember he existed. The way things are going, that could happen as soon this summer.
Disney's Tramp Factory
The only Mouseketeer hottie I really remember is Annette Funicello (who my pop referred to as "Annette Full-a-Jello"), but I can't for the life of me remember her sucking face with Nancy Sinatra. In fact, before the steamroller called Britney Spears became negative capability defined -- "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"? So what are you? A man? -- I thought the Mouseketeers were a laughable relic of the past.
Wrong! They're taking over the freakin' world -- and Internet porn too. Christina Aguilera, who actually can sing, had a unofficial porn featuring Justin Timberlake floating across Kazaa, as well as an official one, called "Drrty", on MTV, BET and every channel you can think of. Both sucked ass. Meanwhile, Spears, who can't sing a lick, took a page from her idol Madonna and started showing some ass to move product -- and it worked like a charm. Then there's Hilary Duff, who's next in line for a public sexual maturation; think I'm crazy? Punch "Hilary Duff nude" into Google and see what happens.
All of which begs the question -- what the hell is going on over at Disney? Is this Eisner's work? What happened to the family in family entertainment?
The answer is simpler than you think. Of course, the Internet has bolstered if not outright legitimized pornography for the next generation, if only because it's now so accessible, so culture itself has changed its mind to an extent when it comes to sex; unless, of course it's homosexual, in which case it's akin to bestiality, at least according to Rick Santorum. But that would be letting Disney off the hook. Since giving Ariel tits in The Little Mermaid, Jasmine a sexy midriff in Aladdin and Esmerelda the whole hot package in the awful Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney has significantly if stealthily altered the sexual landscape of girlhood. And if you ask them, they'll deny it to their graves.
But that pissed-off cartoonist who discreetly painted a cock into The Little Mermaid's poster art knew which way the wind was blowing. For decades, Disney has riffed on the theme of female sexual awakening (Snow White? Sleeping Beauty?), and the 21st century's in-your-face cultural vernacular has merely paved the way for them to shrug it off. And I'm not bitching about it, understand that. But Disney should just come clean and say that it's interested in building up massive facades of sexual purity and romantic love only so it -- or its various products -- can tear them down.
Honesty is still the best policy; well, that and ass, evidently. Wasn't that the point of Pinocchio's phallic nose in the first place?
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