Saturday, May 26, 2007

A lesbian, a comedian and a Saipan columnist walk into a bar

I'm watching Fox News this morning, which is entertaining in a way similar to watching monkeys throwing poop at each other, and the Right Wing talking heads are going absolutely bananas about Rosie O'Donnell. I don't watch The View, I'm a guy after all, so I looked her up to see what she did to get the Sith to foam at the mouth like this. There are some things that are a little whacky like her conspiracy theories on 9/11 and her take on the British sailors in Iran, but the rest seems pretty tame. The Donald Trump controversy is especially absurd. She said Donald Trump isn't the moral arbiter of young people (owing to some nonsense about a Miss USA candidate seen drinking dear God that he gave a pass to) given his multiple marriages, and that turned into a media frenzy, as if that statement was so controversial. She got into some yelling match with Elizabeth Hasselback, a panelist on The View I never heard of before, but who is pretty hot, and let's face it, that matters.

I'm not saying Rosie has key insight, she doesn't, and she talks about things she really has no idea about, like the two things I mentioned above, but talk about overkill on the anti-Rosie stuff. She's "anti-military," as if Rosie is any match for a $439 billion, high tech killing machine. That's not a knock on the military, it is a mock of the Pit Bull versus Yorkshire Terrier nature of that fight, and how the right feels the need to wrap themselves up in the flag, eliciting all the emotion of most every war movie ever made, and protect "the military" against her on Memorial Day Weekend. They're so shameless. I can just see the military history books: Scaled 100 meter cliffs under heavy German fire at Pointe Du Hoc in the Normandy Invasion, fought a desperate and crazed Japanese army at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and Saipan, pulled off a daring invasion in Incheon, Korea, cowed by mild criticism from daytime talk show, so needed to call in reinforcements from Fox News for political pandering to ward off total obliteration. We've gone from defeating the Nazis and Imperial Japan simultaneously, then staring down the Evil Empire to warding off mild attacks from Rosie about a war the vast majority of people in the world, other than the Kooks as Bill O'Reily would say, oppose. What's that old saying about judging yourself by your enemies.

Most disturbing is seeing Dennis Miller on Fox News as a Right Winger now. You can't possibly be a comedian with any credibility and do fundraisers with the president and ride on Air Force One, and say of Bush: "I like him, I'm going to give him a pass. I take care of my friends." He explains his conversion as: "Nine-11 changed me. I'm shocked that it didn't change the whole country, frankly."

I just want to know how someone as smart as Miller can see Bush reading My Pet Goat after being informed the country was under attack, invading the wrong country and setting a presidential record for vacation time, and think yeah, that's the answer right there. That's the decider for me! Look at that face! It's like a guy who went to medical school at the University of Phoenix and all of a sudden, he's got a real patient, who needs real surgery and he can't fake it anymore. He looks as perplexed as Mike Tyson on Celebrity Jeopardy. This is what happens when you mock "Elites." You get faces like this in a crisis.

Andy Card informing Bush about 9/11: "We're under attack, but keep reading, I must know what happens to the goat!" - Jon Stewart

Back in the day, I thought Miller was great, and it wasn't because he got his laughs mocking Right Wingers like Bill Maher does so well now, he didn't, he was just funny. His Black and White special was seminal. His follow up from Washington was great, too. I don't recall them as being political, and to the extent they were, they were mocking Clinton. His stand up specials in Aspen before 9/11 when he admitted he "changed" and in Las Vegas, post 9/11, were spectacularly unfunny. Again, not for politics, just for being unfunny. This was what I said at the time as well. I loved Miller's comedy prior, so his comedic downfall wasn't something I enjoyed. Here is a great write up on this strange turn of events on Miller from SFGate.com:

"Everyone used to think of him as cool and articulate and hilariously
hyperintelligent and able to dissect relatively complicated issues with
deliriously inspiring rants that were able to sub-reference Nietzsche and
Bela Lugosi and chaos theory usually all in one sentence. What a pathetic
and moribund loss. What a sad blow to articulate thinking. What bilious and
dank forces of right-wing fearmongering and neurosis and tax-break bullshit
must've attached themselves like rabid leeches to Miller's seething soul to
suck him so far over to the Dark Side. Dennis Miller, the new
RushHannityStern of the Right. How sad."

Here's my take Miller style:

I hate to get off on a rant here, but I haven't seen such a spectacular fall from grace since Dirk Diggler started a new career giving handjobs for money in a discount store parking lot and got the shit kicked out of him by some closet cases at the end of Boogie Nights. You used to be a comedian with an edge, now you're Carrot Top meets Bob Novak without the street cred. You give it up to the man with greater alacrity than a freshman sorority girl on her ninth Everclear Jello-Shot at Homecoming. I haven't seen someone turn over to the dark side like this since Obi Won gained the high ground at the lava pits of Mustafar. When you went all Robert Johnson and sold your soul to the devil at the crossroads, your skills should have improved -- but you're as funny now as a trauma ward in Darfur after a plate of ebola laced cocktail franks. Was it that hard to keep writing jokes? If middle age means going from edgy to agent of dishonest, establishment idiots, you might be the first reason to smile that Hendrix never saw 28. Like Cobain passing out in Rome, the warning signs were there when you fake laughed to Dan Fouts' jokes on Monday Night Football. Now you're more machine than man. Maybe your kids can one day defrost your frozen integrity from that block of carbonite Jabba the Limbaugh keeps hanging in his heavily medicated apartment. Congrats on finding a way to still get a paycheck and rest in peace, Dennis. Of course that's my opinion, I could be wrong.

****

All the crying is over, and the CNMI finally has a minimum wage hike. This is a done deal. It is now law. There will be a .50 cent increase in 60 days and another a year later and every year until 2015. That increase means $20 a week per worker in 60 days. If $20 per week per worker was the difference between staying open or not, you probably weren't going to make it anyway. It also means that $90,000 for a lobbyist to stop this long overdue increase was a total waste of money. As Angelo said, imagine what Beautify CNMI could have done with that $90,000. Well that money just got flushed -- great work Capitol Hill.

First, the garment factories were gone anyway, so as soon as that cancer is gone, the CNMI can start to restore its reputation, and make a fresh start. The sooner Saipan isn't associated with Abramoff, exploitative wages and sweatshops, the better. Tony Muna was on television saying the government is anticipating a total end to the industry anyway for budgetary planning purposes. Good bye and good riddance. Bree wrote a great post on this in her blog. It provides some great insights into the problems of the local economy.

I'm thinking of all the businesses where I spend my money most often: Java Joes, Blockbuster Video, Joeten Susupe, Joeten Dandan, Wild Bill's, Spicy Thai, ELS Auto Shop, Bobby Cadillacs, Godfather's Bar, Shell Gasoline, Casa Urashima, Daycare, my apartment. I won't buy any retail commodities here other than food because those places treat us all like idiots. I can't imagine any of those businesses being impacted in a significant way other than maybe the Daycare center, and if those people make more money and it costs me more, they more than deserve it.

This model we've had is flawed for the vast majority of locals and foreigners alike and everyone knows it. Let the healing begin. And incidentally, if this means that Filipinos go back to the Philippines and Chinese back to China, then that is actually probably a good thing for them to start fixing the problems in their own countries. I was in the PI in March, looked at the employment pages, and they are all about leaving the PI. No country can prosper with the best and brightest leaving it. Filipinos, including those here, need to fix their own country, not just flee it - and I realize that is a very hard job that won't be done overnight. Even if the workers here got U.S. citizenship and could therefore make more money, yeah that is good for you, but it does nothing to solve the myriad problems in the Philippines -- it just pushes the problem to others.

****

The debate over whether Bruce Bateman is evil continues with both sides mixing it up. Dengre sneered at us progressives a little bit for not hitting Bruce hard enough. As I said before, Bruce is not "evil." When I think of evil, I think of Hitler, Stalin, Cheney, the Khmer Rouge and the guy who invented Karaoke. A politically incorrect Milton Friedman disciple and Saipan Tribune columnist who has donated time and money to the arts, the soccer team and the CNMI teacher of the year, doesn't crack that Murderer's Row. His economics are extreme. His joke was crude and unnecessary. Evil he's not. There are shades of grey.

***

I agree with 90 percent of what Ricky Delgado wrote today's, but I'm not as quick to give Fitial a pass as Delgado is. Fitial isn't the worst person who could be in that job, which is a surprise given his long career as errand boy to the garment factories. I think he's trying to do the right things sort of on efficiency. I would bet the world he won't run again. From what I can tell, he's too sick, too old and too unpopular, and I've heard through the grape vine he has said he won't run again. He barely won last time against a wildly unpopular incumbent and then doing many controversial things now. That don't run again path lets him do the right thing, straighten out the mess and be remembered well down the line. Or it gives him the opportunity to rob the store as best he can and give it away to his friends with impunity if he chooses the dark path.

The problem is he lied through his teeth to get elected promising a surcharge reduction he could never pull off, and in fact making CUC rates much higher. He also clearly lied about supporting the schools. He hasn't done anything, and in fact, has funded education much less. I never believed either promise for a second, so it bothers me less than it bothers others. He loses fiscal credibilty with the Jesus Camacho patronage and the $90,000 flushed down the drain on a lobbyist, not to mention the junkets to Hawaii and the mainland by a large legislative delegation, which I suppose isn't Fitial's fault, but it does blend in with waste during this fiscal emergency. Fitial also has no mandate at all, having not even won Saipan. Delgado's letter suggests Fitial was some kind of outsider inheriting all these problems. Fitial was speaker of the House. He had a huge stake in this goverment before he became governor. I agree with him strongly on the poker room versus casino point, Article XII and the need for citizen involvement.

***

To end on a cheery note, here is a link to picture of one hundred plus young, naked Japanese girls. My favorite part, given the lack of even a C-Cup, is the fact that naked or not, they are all giving the standard peace sign Japanese girls use in every picture they ever take.



9 comments:

Rick Vaughn said...

Hi Jeff,

I just got back to Korea from Philippines, good to see you guys in Manila.

Funny how Koreans copy the Japanese and make the same peace sign in all of their pictures. Difference is I dont think you could get this many Korean girls to take off their clothes. Unless there was soju involved...

Liked your rant on Dennis Miller.
Hilarious!

-Rick (in Korea)

EJ said...

more pictures please?

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

E.J. This is going to be mostly a writing blog. Plus, I've had two broken digitals, and don't have one right now. When I go to the states I'll get another.

Thanks Rick. That V thing could be Korean, not Japanese, as they did it when I was there in 2000, and I'm sure before that. Good luck in the Korea.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Why would you want to read anything that didn't have pictures?

marianas life said...

i think ej wants more naked japanese pictures :)

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

On top of that, I'm not a young, good looking Asian party girl -- or guy, so my pictures won't draw a crowd. I'm going to have to get by with snarky comments, general humor and those who like hypercritical thoughts on Saipan and national affairs from the hyperopinionated.

dengre said...

I am left wondering how much humor Bateman will find in Buddhi Lal Dhimal's death, and how that humor will be defended on the CNMI as merely insensitive.

I’m certain that in many ways, Bruce is a fine fellow—if he considers you an equal. I knew many folks like him in Georgia. They were the local “great guys”, and many were community leaders. They just happened to be overtly racist on the side. When called on their racism they always claim it was a joke or they were just being Politically Incorrect.

Yes the rogue’s gallery you name is evil, but none of them would have gotten anywhere without folks actively and/or passively supporting their agenda. To be successful they need people like Bruce to belittle the "other" and support the notion that “those people” are not human. For evil to succeed the “other” must be presented as creatures that do not feel things like real humans do.

Bateman's evil is not grand evil. He is not smart enough for that.

His is the small, everyday dehumanizing evil. It is banal, pedestrian, simple and cruel. It creates the required context and culture of support necessary for larger evils to flourish. All that is necessary is for good people to say nothing.

I call him on it. You excuse him for it.

The CNMI is beautiful, and quite fun if you can just accept the banality of evil that runs the place.

From 9,000 miles away, I can not accept that banality of evil. I guess it must be harder to speak out against it when you’re there…

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

I don't really feel like I excused him on it. I said his joke was in bad taste, his views extreme, but evil is a more personal ad hominem attack that I don't agree with. The dark side pulls out the evil card all the time, and usually it is an effort to turn the other side into an "object" as Buber talked about, which is easier to destroy. I hold our side to a higher standard.

There are a lot of Ayn Rand, uber laissez faire economic right wingers out here. Bruce is one of their spokesmen. I think you're reading racisim into right wing economic ideology, which Bruce passionately subscribes to, which I suppose an argument could be made for.

In the letters section of the local papers there is a long history of rebukes to his columns. One of them is mine from last year. I don't think there has been anyone with a government job who has been as hypercritical of the system out here as me. In my blog in the early section are copies of my early many op-eds on funding schools, not hiring a lobbyist, raising the minimum wage, not doing whatever the garment factories want, etc., and this is in a small island where everyone knows you, not in 10 million plus city like Manhatten.

Our economic system out here is bad, but just as hating Bush's policies doesn't mean you hate America, Saipan doesn't suck because Saipan's government sucks. There is an enormous, much quieter than me and generally unrepresented viewpoint, against all the nonsense they've been doing here for year. I've mentioned this before. Saipan Sucks has some elements of truth, but it is by no means the Gospel, and it could use a revised title.

This man's death is sad and a tragedy. While he was being cheated true, what he did also was self inflicted, and it put others at risk when he did it. Other contract workers who were there could have been victimized by his decision, not to mention he traumatized his own daughter and family and the rest of the Filipino contract workers in the office that day didn't make his choice, yet could have been easily injured. I grieve for his family, but I don't agree with what he did, and I won't be remembering him as a Ghandi like figure.

bradinthesand said...

hi dennis,

why not come out here sometime and meet our underachieving evil doer? i’ve read your blog on more than one occasion and i most of all enjoy your due diligence. while i appreciate what i believe to be your sincere response to bruce’s ill-made comments, some of the same research into his character would be prudent. this is not georgia and bruce is not the small town merchant attending clan meetings (man, if he is then he must not have considered me enough of an equal to extend the invitation).

to demonize someone who attempts to be funny and is poor at doing so would cut short my non-career in comedy. i’ve made plenty of jokes in poor taste and even more that were poor attempts at being of good taste.

how funny it is that bruce is known as such a super villain when he's just an average fellow with a laptop and a hobby. he’s certainly not a racist. in fact, you’ll find racism is not so much of a caucasian pastime here as is among the indigene. such things would become apparent with the occasional step down from the soap box followed by a stroll among your audience. why not share the air with us evil enablers down here? i won’t pretend to know you or your type at all, but your written voice certainly carries a “i know more about your place than you do” tone to it.

perhaps i gave the local barkeep a pass because he has a smile and the general brand of nicety that sells in small communities like ours. maybe so. if that’s the case then i’ll freely accept my flaw and add it to my ever growing list of plenty.

one of said flaws is that i am too comfortable here to leave. i love saipan and all that it offers me. you're always going to have a baddie in a community, but bruce is not the guy renting out pickaxes the workers in his mine.

he’s not the “little baddie” who works for the big guy either. bruce works for himself and he treats his employees well (from what i’ve seen and heard from them). i don’t agree with many of his points (like the one about us being a nuclear target—that was funny) and he’s not always right about things (and i know that for a fact because i usually am and we sometimes disagree), but a starsceam for megatron he’s not. .

what bruce tried to do was make a joke. it worked about as well as screen doors on a submarine. it didn’t matter the color or creed of the self-intended labor victim who set himself aflame. stripped of the details, bruce made a joke about someone’s unfortunate situation and ran with it. it wasn’t funny (and i’m curious what he was drinking when he typed it up), but unfortunate situations have been the basis for millions of jokes.

buddhi lal dhimal made himself a story. had this occurred on the mainland you would have heard leno, letterman, and maher make some sort of jokes about it as well. do they subscribe to the same sort of “banality of evil that runs our place?” perhaps they do, but they’re just better at setting up their punch lines.

wow, i really sound like the defender of all things bruce, huh? don’t tell him. i don’t want him to think i’m getting all sweet on him or anything. hey, maybe he’ll buy me a beer at his bar. okay, you can tell him.

oh, and one more thing, please don’t “piratize” me. i take advantage of the situation on saipan in a good way. i play sports under the sun and work for ridiculously low wages with a smile on my face because money isn’t the most important thing here.

just curious, what kind of car do you drive?