Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FAME'S A BITCH (or the night I Roger Ebert ordered me out of a movie theater)


Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be famous. Actually, it all goes back to the day when I was four years old and broke my nose by getting it stuck in the back bumper of a car.

I’d been riding my tricycle on a circular track behind my apartment building in suburban Chicago on a November 1975 afternoon, with my best friend Joey Paretti (who grew up to be diagnosed as a psychotic sociopath) yelling out his best Howard Cosell impersonation from the top of the adjoining playground’s slide: “Kozlowski’s coming around the turn! Go faster, FASTER, FASTER!!!” until I pedaled so fast I careened onto two wheels and spun out of control towards my fateful meeting with the trunk of a car.

I smacked into it, falling off my now-crushed tricycle as my face slid down the trunk and locked my nose into the crevice between the back bumper and chrome that most ‘70s cars had back then. I was trapped, crying, squealing for Joey to get my mom (like SHE would know how to calmly handle this!) and watching him run away through the tear-stained reflection of the chrome.

15 minutes later, Joey was back, alright – but instead of bringing my mom, he brought every kid in the neighborhood. And it was only thanks to the commotion caused by their laughing uproariously at me that my mom noticed something was wrong and came down to save me. Actually, she called the fire department to save me, by unscrewing the chrome from the bumper, and then made sure Joey’s mom gave his butt the pounding of a lifetime.

Sure, it hurt. And because I didn’t understand what the doctor meant when he asked if I wanted plastic surgery and I thought it meant he’d remove my nose and replace it with a plastic nose and mustache that looked like Groucho Marx, I shrieked, “NO!!!! No plastic surgery!” So I still breathe like Darth Vader and talk as nasally as Woody Allen more than 30 years later.

But I was famous! Every kid knew me! I was the talk of the neighborhood!

And on one writing day in third grade, now living down South in Arkansas, I reached deep into my eight years of living experience, and wrote the story of the incident and got to read it on what became my first standup tour – in which my teacher Sister Barbara let me read the story all the way from the first grade through the fourth grade classroom of St. Edward’s Catholic grade school in Little Rock, Arkansas.

You might think that my brush with celebrity status would have prepared me for my future life mixing it up with real celebrities as a performer and an entertainment reporter out here in Hollywood. But no, sadly, it has not. I’ve gotten caught following Hugh Hefner into the bathroom at the Comedy Store (I was just trying to shake his hand, I swear!). When guitarist John Mayer asked for my name when we met on the street, all I could reply was, “I’mareallybigfan!” and when I ran smack into Vince Vaughn at the Bicycle Casino, I said “Oh! God!!!” and he snidely replied, “Nope. Just Vince,” and kept walking. Modesty – how refreshing!

I also have narcolepsy, so I’ve fallen asleep in close-up in the studio audience on live national television during an episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” I also fell asleep while listening to star comic Carlos Mencia reveal the most tragic moments of his life while riding around East L.A. in his Mercedes for an interview. To complete the trifecta, I snored so loud at a live performance of “Death and the Maiden” starring “Frasier’s” TV dad, John Mahoney, that Mahoney actually stopped cold on stage and stared me down until I was removed from the 10th row – and then refused to be interviewed by me later! The nerve!

But nothing can match my encounter with Roger Ebert, America’s most beloved – and rotund – movie critic. The year was 1999, and I was back in Chicago and got an early screening ticket to see the modern cinematic classic (okay, atrocity) “Forces of Nature,” starring Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock.

I though that there would be just regular folk in the audience that night, that critics normally saw films in a secret screening room that kept them away from the hoi polloi as they rendered their judgments. But as I took my seat, stuffing my backpack under my chair that evening, I settled in for the film and immediately noticed a nice touch in the film’s sound design: See, in the film’s opening moment, Ben Affleck is visiting his dying granddad in the hospital and they manage to make peace as the song “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” wafts softly, spookily in the background – or so I thought.

But then the scene changed, and the music didn’t. I thought this was odd, because now Sandra Bullock’s character had the same song playing softly in the background, at the same level – and she was outdoors and all the way across America. But it wasn’t until the Sinatra tune was wafting under its third straight, unrelated scene that I and my fellow moviegoers realized something was wrong.

As the Chairman of the Board continued to sing and swing with a big band crashing loudly behind him, people started turning around and asking each other if they were playing the song. I turned and scowled at others, still unaware of my culpability. But as the song continued into its fifth scene and people are shooting me looks that are now twice as dirty in return, I feel a tap on my shoulder from behind.

It was Roger Ebert. And he was asking me one mortifying question: “Are you sure It’s not you?”

At that moment, my jaw dropped and I leaped from my seat – only to hear the Sinatra song CRANKing at full volume! I realized now that the music WAS in fact, coming out from under my ass – and my backpack!

I picked up the backpack like I was Bruce Willis attempting to hoist a bomb out of a skyscraper and started running at full speed up the aisle, people now turning and watching my every step as the song continued to blast away.

I burst out the theater doors, threw the bag on the floor of the lobby and emptied its contents at once, in a mass of papers, books, magazines and electronic equipment that made the Unabomber look rational. The music kept playing, louder than ever, while theater employees ran up and yelled out, “What are you DOING?!” and a studio PR person for the film practically started crying, “Are you TRYING to ruin my movie?!”

I yelled out “No!” as I finally grasped the tape player in my hands and managed to stop the recording. And as silence set in, I realized it was a tape I made earlier in the middle of an acting class, as background music for a scene study. I took the tape out and removed the batteries and then asked the crying studio guy if I could go back in now. He demanded to hold onto my tape recorder but let me in from there. As I shuffled shamefully back to my seat, I looked back over my shoulder at Ebert. He looked right back at me with a look that shot through my soul, and muttered ‘Thank you.”

The rest of the movie seemed uneventful by comparison; critics savaged it and the audience sat fitfully bored as it came to its turgid conclusion. That week, I waited eagerly for the Friday paper to come out, as I imagined I’d have to be an integral part of Monsieur Ebert’s review – that surely he’d have to open by writing, “The most entertaining part of ‘Forces of Nature’ didn’t happen on the screen. It was right in my theater…

But he never wrote that. And I still await my first glowing notice from Ebert.

Is he just a bum? Or a woman's beloved father? A Thanksgiving tale

It was just after 9 p.m. last Thursday night, and I was walking past the L.A. Farmer’s Market on my way out from The Grove. I noticed a young woman, in her early 20s, standing in the doorway of a darkened optometry shop and calling out to someone who appeared to be just another homeless man in L.A.

“Come on! It’s Ok! Come inside!” She was calling out to the man, who sat in tattered clothes with a matted beard and a blank stare that seemed to indicate his mind had long since drifted away from there. She waved her hands insistently towards herself, as extra encouragement for him to get up and move towards her. But he kept sitting and staring.

I finally paused and asked if everything was OK. I’ve stumbled across plenty of strange and disturbing incidents in my lifetime, and have tried to help when I can. But instead of looking concerned, the young woman smiled readily and said “I’m OK. That’s my dad.”

I reflexively looked back at the man, who seemed to register a bit of embarrassment. The woman, though, could not have seemed happier and prouder of her old man.

“Really, it’s OK.”

I moved on, looking back over my shoulder as she gave up and went back inside to close her shop and the man stayed sitting outside, his gaze now locked in my direction. I felt like I had just intruded on an ineffably private moment.

And yet that moment nearly moved me to tears on the bus ride home. And it has stayed on my mind in the five days since.

The reason for that is that I feel what I came across was an amazing and pure example of human love and bonding at its finest. If that was really a young woman smiling through the difficulty of dealing with her sadly disabled father, her upbeat sense of dignity offered a lesson to not just myself but to anyone taking a moment to think about family.

Normally, it’s the parent who holds the door open in life for their children, welcoming them no matter what choices their kids make and how much they suffer the consequences. The parent raises the child and then steps in when there’s a real emergency, as the truest safety net a society has to offer.

But these days, as our society ages and the economy weakens, we see and hear about more and more families in which the reverse is happening: the children are taking in and caring for their parents. We hear about the strain of it all, both emotionally and financially. But what we need to remember is that in much of the world, generations caring for each other in both directions is the norm rather than the exception or the result of a dire circumstance.

And it is in moments like that which I saw between a young woman and her seemingly homeless but still loving father that we are reminded of the true power of family. We choose our friends in life, especially as we grow up and move out on our own. We can say that our friends are a second family to us, especially when we’re single. But friends move away and drift out of our lives, or can walk away for good when the heat of an argument becomes seemingly too much to deal with.

On the other hand, we don’t choose our families and who’s in them. We may not even have that much in common with them. But outside of the most horrifically dysfunctional situations in which one must part with one’s family in order to simply survive, we are bound together by a mysterious and inextricable link that lets us know we always have someone watching our back and someone waiting with a hug or a loan to get us through our worst of crises.

So this Thanksgiving, try not to hate on each other too much. Hold your cool, pass the potatoes, carve the turkey and remember that the people in your family surrounding you are gonna be there for you for the rest of your life.

Monday, November 24, 2008

TOLD YOU SO (Time and Washington Post admit they had a "disgusting" bias for Obama)


'Disgusting' Bias for Obama, Time Writer Admits
Sunday, November 23, 2008 5:40 PM

The mainstream media's support for Barack Obama's presidential campaign was so biased that even major insiders are now admitting they were shocked by its depth and depravity.
Last week, Time magazine's Mark Halperin called the media's performance during the campaign simply "disgusting."
Halperin told a panel of media analysts at the Politico/USC conference on the 2008 election, "It's the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war."
He added, "It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage."
According to the Web site Politico, Halperin, who edits Time's political site "The Page," zeroed in on two New York Times articles near the end of the campaign that profiled both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama.
"The story about Cindy McCain was vicious," Halperin said. "It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it cast her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn't talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that's ever been written about her."
But the Times gave Michelle Obama red carpet treatment, "like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is."
Halperin, a former ABC News political director, allowed that some of the press coverage simply reflected the extreme efficiency of Obama's presidential campaign.
"You do have to take into account the fact that this was a remarkable candidacy," Halperin said. "There were a lot of good stories. He was new."
Obama also had a lot of money and outspent Republican John McCain by more than 2 to 1.
The press never bothered to hold Obama accountable for reneging on his promise to use public financing. McCain kept his promise to do so.
During the campaign, conservatives criticized the pro-Obama coverage, but it had little effect.
Columnist David Limbaugh noted: "Never has that been clearer than in the 2008 presidential election, during which they are covering up rather than covering Barack Obama's shady past and alliances, his knee-deep involvement in corrupt practices threatening the very core of our democratic system, and his many policy misrepresentations."
Limbaugh noted that the press went into a tizzy over Sarah Palin's wardrobe, but ignored extravagances like Obama's "obscenely idolatrous million-dollar Greek coliseum mirage."
Now that the election is over, Halperin is not alone in admitting the bias. The Washington Post's ombudsman recently conceded that the paper’s coverage was skewed strongly in favor of Obama and against the McCain-Palin ticket.

Friday, November 21, 2008

DON'T GO (my history with the military)

By Carl Kozlowski

When I was growing up, my grandma always used to ask me “Are you gonna be a soldier like your grandpa? Or your uncle?”

Even when I was little the question was loaded with a strange sense of fear.

I had never met my grandfather, her husband, because he was killed at the Battle of Normandy in 1944, a few months after my mom was born. And the concept of a grandpa was almost utterly foreign to me because my father’s dad had also died, a few years before I was born.

My grandma and mother rarely talked about the man who had been taken far too early from both their lives. They proudly posted photos of him, grandma hanging a smiling portrait of him in his uniform on the hallway wall of her house, my mom with a smaller picture of her dad holding her as a baby, unaware of the loss that would soon alter her life forever.

Their silence about him was probably a side effect of time wiping away a painful history. My grandma would occasionally speak with pride of what a good man he was, how he loved to read the paper every Sunday and that I must have gotten my love of the news from him. But aside from that and asking if I’d be a soldier too, I’d rarely hear anything about him from her, and nothing from my mom. Obviously she hadn’t known him either, so what was there to say?

Instead, Mom was raised by her mom’s brother, a man known to her and us as Uncle George. He was a tall, skinny man with a sly grin on his face at all times, an average Joe from small-town Pennsylvania who loved to drive to the desert or on cross-country trips between California, his adopted home, and his native state. He had a joyful laugh and a surprised way of saying “What the heck is that?!” whenever he was presented with information he didn’t know before, his voice filling any room he was in and as a kid I loved to keep surprising him with the things I learned in school or on the latest National Geographic special. Yet under the surface bluster, there was sadness. He had found some purpose as a de facto dad and grandfather, but yet no work he could call his own.

He didn’t seem to smile enough on his own. He packed his garage with the detritus of decades gone by, especially auto parts and clothes, but he also had a camper he’d stay in despite having plenty of room in my grandma’s house, locking himself away from the world, his radio always fuzzily carrying a ballgame. He said he liked to sleep out in the camper, because it made him feel like he had more space and could always “get up and go.”

While I didn’t really know what he kept in there because he never let me see inside, my grandma’s adjoining house was an always fascinating mishmash of ’50s-era furniture, old paintings, older magazines and an attic that remained filled and unexplored by us until the days after Uncle George died in 2004. My dad, who was a Polish Catholic so devout he nearly became a priest – and never let us forget it – wondered if Uncle George was devout “enough” after he passed away, or if he was a Catholic by name only.

He got his answer in cleaning out Uncle George’s drawers in my grandma’s house – and found literally hundreds of statues, rosaries and other Catholic artifacts buried in every corner of every drawer, attic corner and closet shelf in the house. My dad was so overwhelmed with the sheer scope of the collection that he seemed ready to call in the Vatican to cart everything off. But instead, he did the traditional thing for religious icons and tried to bury them in my grandma’s front yard under her rose bushes – as people stopped to stare at the enormous ditch he was creating just to throw in religious figures and pins. I can only imagine the bizarre terror the next owners felt the first time they flooded their gardens and 20 giant crucifixes came bobbing up through the mud.

And it was in that camper that my uncle kept his rifle from WWII.

He only took it out once, when I was about six, and he wouldn’t let me play with it even. He held it with a sense of sadness and reverence that I didn’t quite understand. I just wanted to play “Let’s Blow Shit Up.”

My uncle was especially mysterious about another item he kept from his time in the War – hidden deep in his garage, he had a giant Japanese sword that he had either plundered from a site during his tour of duty over there or managed to wrest from a soldier he’d killed. I vaguely remember him showing it to me, just once.
“Now that’s not for playing,” he said sadly. “Run along.” Then it disappeared again, seemingly forever.

Of course we’re told that all soldiers are heroes, but we also used to be forcefed images of GI Joe the perfect American soldier who never got hurt and never could die. There was a world of difference between the toys I had and the GI Joe cartoons I watched and the heroic John Wayne movies that were in reruns on Saturday afternoon TV, and the sad life of my uncle who injured his hip so badly that he never was able to work after 1950 and spent the next 54 years searching for purpose outside of his key role in raising my mother.

He had enlisted in WWII and was sent to Japan. I’m not sure if he was on the firing line or how many people he killed, if any. I do know that he was part of the cleanup crew at Nagasaki after the US bombed them into the Stone Age with a nuke. He was sent in wearing only a gas mask over his uniform, and nearly 40 years later in the early ‘80s, the radiation he absorbed nearly killed him via internal tumors before a miracle killed them off and gave him a second chance at life for 20 more years.

But in knowing, even with no one willing to explain, that my Uncle George had been affected for more than just an injured hip by his time in battle, I always grew up with not only a sense of respect for soldiers but also a simmering loathing for those who send them to die.

What made him special to me and my siblings was that Uncle George was our de facto grandpa, since neither of our actual ones had survived to see us even be born. My dad’s father died a few years before our arrival, in 1967. But my mom’s dad died way before that, just after she was even born. He had died at the Battle of Normandy.

And so it was that I had this tradition to uphold when I was a kid, everyone expecting me to continue a family tradition of…well, of what I wasn’t sure. There was a world of difference between the adventure of war movies and the sad results of actual battle, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be part of it. But two or three other things entered into play that gave me a perspective that I suppose most young men don’t have.

First, my dad got a job as a doctor for a VA hospital because it was the best and easiest way to get re-trained as a doctor in English after emigrating here from Poland, helping veterans get the right physical therapy and prosthetics for their missing arms and legs. It was 1977, a couple years after the Vietnam War had ended, so he missed the brunt of the brutality visited upon the nation’s soldiers. He had been training in Chicago at another VA, and saw more horrors there, no doubt – horrors that also went unspoken. Instead, in Little Rock where I grew up, he dealt with the soldiers who came back from the “good” wars like WWII and Korea – wars which nonetheless shook men to their mental cores and just ripped them limb from limb.

At the same time, during his first two years on the job, we lived in a house on a row of 100-year-old homes that were set aside for doctors to rent if they chose to live on the hospital’s grounds. We were new to Little Rock, and my dad was so happy to finally be retrained in English and working again as a doctor after years of struggle that he just grabbed a rental house rather than spend another three months looking for our own place.

I couldn’t figure out at the time, in first and second grade, why even though I was welcome to go over to any of my classmates’ homes to play or for parties, no one else’s parents would let them come over to our house. Was it the fact that the house looked like the Addams Family lived there, or that it and the hospital were located atop a foreboding mountain just outside the city limits?
Or could it be they were scared of the mental patients who inevitably wandered onto our lawn from the main hospital grounds, in a daily real-life display of the Zombie Walk from “Night of the Living Dead”? Gee, I wonder. Hell, my mom even made us turn away from the window and we LIVED there! It seemed like a weekly occurrence that she’d have to tell us not to look outside during breakfast because someone was, and I quote, “watering the lawn” – and not using a pitcher to do so.

At least this kinda thing made life memorable. Our family would jaunt across the VA campus to the chapel building, where we attended Sunday Mass with the most colorful and boisterous congregation you could ever imagine. Joyous voices sang unto the Lord in incredibly off-key fashion. Sometimes the men in attendance – even when they were in the CHOIR! – burst into decidedly non-church songs as a joke on the priest and everyone in attendance. I’ll never forget the time I had to hear “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby” by Barry White during a particularly exuberant Communion line.

Best of all was James Keever, a man whom I was told was manic but who also clearly suffered from the flipside of depression. He was “just” a mental patient and therefore it was OK for him to go outside a lot or to get a weekend pass to stay downtown. Yet almost every time he spent the weekend elsewhere, the poor guy would come back depressed and explaining that he’d lost or been robbed of all his disability money and still had three weeks to go til his next check.

I was only seven when I met him, but I was instantly curious: where did he go every time he headed downtown? And how did he always manage to have such shitty luck? Did he keep retracing his steps every time, going to the same dumpy pool halls and the YMCA, where he was easy to roll?

I wanted to ask but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. Instead, I harbored giddy dreams of adventure where I’d follow him around like “Harriet the Spy” and come back with a full report that would explain it all each time he returned to the VA with a missing wallet and a punched eye socket.

I was always grateful that my parents allowed me to consider men like James my friends, for it surely provided a more colorful living experience than the upper-crust suburban upbringings of my private Catholic-school peers. Living in a century-old mansion on top of a mountain surrounded by mental patients provided me with a perspective on life that I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever trade with anybody. I was alone at times compared to my classmates in normal neighborhoods, but I had my imagination and got to know some of the more coherent patients and learned stories of adventure and far-flung exotic women at age 8 that no kid should probably hear ‘til they’re 18.

I’m not laughing at James Keever’s forgetfulness or being robbed when I say he was my best VA memory “of all.” No, I’m referring to one very special Sunday morning when he took his usual position as the out-loud reader of the scripture readings, stepped up to the podium, opened his missal to read, and….had his pants fall straight down around his ankles. Thank God his underwear didn’t fall with it or I might’ve been scarred for life too. But nope his undies stayed on, and were the focus of attention for the next five minutes as he decided to finish reading the Scripture he was assigned to read, and THEN bent over and hiked his pants up after proclaiming, “THIS is the Gospel of the Lord.”

Eventually though, time moved on and my folks decided to move into a supposedly regular neighborhood, which was filled with its own assortment of odd ducks and odder behavior that I’ll share with you yet another time.

What really turned my heart and gut away from wanting to do anything involving the military was my high school’s JROTC program. It was basically an early propaganda and indoctrination program to make high school age guys think being a soldier was the greatest thing imaginable, in the hopes of either getting us to sign up as cannon fodder when we turned 18 or to continue training as officers in a cushy college program. Training to be officers who never had to actually be in the heart of battle, risking their lives and taking the chance that their little girl and her eventual children would never get a chance to know them. No, at least in JROTC and ROTC, being an officer was the greatest thing in the world – you got to dress up and learn how to order other people into battle to risk their asses for you.

Bitter much? You might ask. Well, yeah, actually. I got conned into joining my JROTC program because our student body president – the funniest guy I’d ever known, a real-life Ferris Bueller named Ramon Escobar – came into my classroom one day to give a sales pitch on the program and said it taught him lots of things about leadership. I should have known he seemed totally different in that moment, and not in a way I thought was good. There was not one shred of his humor or humanity on display, just this robot with his face, standing in a uniform and telling us that only the best students can enter the program.

I wanted to join despite my ambivalence towards the military and its effects on its soldiers. I mainly wanted to fit in with the so-called “best” students, to make up for my years in the social wilderness while living on the VA grounds. I wanted to be cool like Ramon Escobar after a childhood as an oddball outsider who lived in the strangest neighborhood imaginable. And besides, “Top Gun” was the hottest movie going back then – and in 1986, before everyone knew he was a Scientologist douchebag, who didn’t want to be like Tom Cruise? And besides, it fit in solidly with my reputation as a diehard Young Republican.

My parents were supportive but not gung ho about my decision. Maybe they could tell that I, their oddball creative son, would fit into ROTC like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. My dad was proud to work with and treat our American soldiers, but having grown up in Communist Poland, he didn’t exactly have the redneck passion for all things military that the other JROTC guys were raised with.

So I signed up, despite the fact I have two left feet and no coordination and an almost dyslexic sense of direction. Every time we were taught a new march I royally fucked it up. Even worse, though, was my ability to get my uniform ready for inspection. No matter how hard I tried, I didn’t see this little loose thread or that tiny piece of yarn breaking loose from a medal. And I had never polished my own shoes before the inspection – I was 15, and I’d only worn dress shoes to funerals and weddings before and my dad had gone ahead and done them for me. So I rubbed the polish into my shoes the night before inspection, but was so stupid I didn’t’ wipe it back out to a shine. Instead I showed up for school in shoes cloudy with polish and had dozens of my fellow “soldiers” (FINGERS!) laugh at me and purposely scuff my shoes with their heels.

Add in the fact I didn’t know how to perfectly polish the gold metal on my belt buckle, and the man in charge – Sergeant Shaffer, a stout and sarcastic fiftysomething man with a voice like a duck call, who took pride in saying the Marine Corps was the “world’s biggest cult and it’s my duty now to induct you” – found me immediately in the crowd of desperate first-timers and singled me out for humiliation.

“Kozlowski! What the hell are you thinkin’? Did you polish that buckle with steel wool?”

“Um, no sir.”

“And these threads? And… And..” Everyone was snickering around me a second at a time, until the sergeant shot them 1000-yard stares that said “You’re next.”

But the damage was done to my fragile psyche and even more fragile personality and self-confidence. I was starting off my first grade of the year in ROTC with the full disciplinary load of two demerits. My name was posted on the board at the bottom of all my fellow soldier classmates as if I bore the scarlet letter on a wall of shame. I empathized with all the names on there – guys who tried but just couldn’t be perfectly robotic enough. I hated parent assembly nights, where we had to march into the gym and stand at attention for 45 minutes to an hour , while awards were handed out to the best robot cadets.

I despised this, all the more when a large cadet named Robert Gibson couldn’t take the strain on his knees anymore and one night passed out backwards, hitting his head on the floor before a crowd of 500 as his officer cadet lifted him back off the floor and made him stand again rather than showing him an inkling of mercy.

It couldn’t get worse, I thought. But then came the day that my mom scheduled an eye doctor’s appointment on the same day as our first marching class.

Now, this was back in the late ‘80s, when eye doctors were still using the equivalent of leeches by dropping in horrible eye drops into your socket anytime they wanted to test something. Your pupils would be dilated like a drug addict on a three-day binge for the next five hours, leaving you blind if you stepped in front of any thing brighter than a nightlight. And this was the day that I was subjected to my first marching class.

Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. EVERY step, every move, every freeze, was off. I didn’t feel like I had two left feet, but rather 2000! And soon, the good sergeant was calling me off the blacktop to give me another display of abject humiliation in front of my peers.

“Kozlowski, what kind of student are you?” he barked.

“Um, A’s and B’s, sir.”

“Then why are you marching like a damn F student?”

I was afraid to tell him about the eye drops, not knowing if he’d tell me I was irresponsible in my timing for having had them that day. It was one of the few times in my life where I was really, truly stumped and lacking for words.

But at that moment, something clicked in me and I was determined to really show him up. My goal was that I would find SOME WAY to beat the point system, to overcome the negative demerits I’d racked up so far and get so many points totaled up that they’d HAVE to promote me anyway. Let’s say you needed 100 points for a promotion, and I was starting with -20.

I was determined to kick their ass on my terms.

For the next six weeks, I came in early every morning to work on my weapon. Yes, they gave everyone – even me – a weapon. Thank God it was decommissioned, but nonetheless, I had to oil it up, flip it around and smack it hard into my hands as I learned all my drills. Imagine getting a callous on your fingers when you’re learning to play guitar. Here you’re getting a callous on your entire hand.

I took remedial marching, asking older student “officers” to put me through my paces over and over again before and after school, and during lunch breaks as Shaffer stared from behind his sunglasses but never uttered a word of encouragement.

I scoured my uniform to make it perfect, learned how to polish my damn shoes, took remedial marching….but somehow I knew it wouldn’t be enough.

My ace in the hole was the clothing and canned-good drive.

For each canned good or piece of used clothing we brought in to the program for redistribution to the poor through the Salvation Army, l’d gain points towards promotion. I’ve always had an amazing knack to “sell” things, so I went crazy visiting door-to-door every single house in my neighborhood – my bright smile and cloying personality bringing home the goods from nearly every home I hit. .

I’m not kidding. I probably hit about 2000 homes over the course of a month, spending 6 to 8 hours a day on the weekends asking people if they would donate and arranging times to come pick up their unwanted crap. Sure, I could have spent my weekends playing pick-up games of basketball, watching MTV while downing Jolt Colas and Cheez Whiz, or learning to smoke like any other red-blooded American kid, but dammit, this actually meant something to me!

My mom was cool enough to back me up on this insane enterprise, helping me pick up all the goods in our station wagon and then to seal the stuff up in trash bags and letting me stack them in our garage until the day came for me to metaphorically shove it all up Sergeant Shaffer’s ass. I think she and my dad always wanted me to learn for myself that the military isn’t just a cool club to be a part of, but a sometimes necessary evil designed to break the individual will into a common spirit. Like Sgt. Shaffer said, it was a cult, and he was out to make us as miserable a poor fuck as he was.

And so I finally did, lowering the station wagon’s midsection to create one giant, stuffed-to-the-brim storage space stretching from the front seat to the back door and jamming in as many bags as I could. Then we drove it over to Catholic High, found Sergeant Shaffer smoking a stogie outside with his shit-eating grin (can you feel how much I hated this guy by now??!) and parked it right where we could kick some car exhaust up in his face.

As I popped open the back seat and took out the first bag, he slyly mocked my efforts: “Oh, so you brought a few goodies in for the poor, Kozlowski?”

I marched silently past him and dumped the bags inside. Then I came back for more. My mom sat in front, wearing sunglasses. You couldn’t beat her level of coolness that day.

Two more bags, stuffed to the brim, in hand and I was marching past that old bastard again. This time he just exhaled some smoke and coolly appraised my take.

Back again, and again, and again, bag after bag after bag, until Shaffer finally wasn’t smoking at all. He was just staring, and starting to look worried. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. (Hey, I was 15 then, and lived in Little Rock, what else did I have to be proud of?!)

Finally I gave my mom the all-clear to roll out and she thankfully didn’t call me over to kiss her goodbye and ruin the moment. I could stand tall as a man, savoring my triumph of good over evil.

I knew I had staved off my once-inevitable execution and garnered by promotion.

Maybe you can sit back and laugh at me, saying “Hey dumbass! That’s what Shaffer WANTED you to do! He made you work harder than you ever would have otherwise just to stay part of the military-industrial complex!”

But I know what was in my heart, and my soul, and my gut. I did that for every schlumpy guy who couldn’t get their uniform perfect, every klutz who couldn’t march right, and every cadet who couldn’t take standing at attention for an hour on end at some stupid performance night and wound up passing out and banging their head on the school’s gym floor (Hats off to you, Robert Gibson!)

I had not given Shaffer the pleasure of marking me as a loser.

And by the end of that year, I had been promoted two more times, making it 3 out of 4 quarters. I was assigned a position of relevance for the following fall, where I’d be in charge of others.

And therein was my real goal, and my real revenge.

For all that summer, I savored walking in the first day of school with my uniform folded up (in total regulation style of course!), marching up to Shaffer and handing it off to him, telling him that I was no longer interested in being part of his organization.

And come the first day of school, I did it. Just seeing that look on his face as he realized he’d been had was worth all the endless effort. I know I didn’t stop anything really, or shut the program down. In fact, I was just severely disappointed to learn on Wikipedia that school JROTC programs for teenagers nearly doubled in number back in 1992, just four years after I waged my crusade.

As the saying goes, someone would eventually do their dirty work. But this time it wasn’t gonna be me.

I suppose I could look back and realize I learned a few things from the whole escapade. I could say I took pride in my uniform, or the chicks were hotter for ROTC guys and came running, but none of that is true – at least in my case. Maybe they saw me march. I could have said I learned character, but I think I learned more by standing up to Sgt. Shaffer and refusing to be stepped on by him or anyone else in the program.

Two years after I graduated, the Gulf War started. I reflexively didn’t trust its motivations or President Bush’s claim that “this will not stand.” And as I was now 20 and eligible should a draft ever occur, my grandma was filled with worry as she asked that question again from my childhood: “Are you gonna be a soldier, like your grandpa and uncle?”

I didn’t know what to say. But now that the chips were down and was at least a vague possibility on the horizon of my life, she answered for me.

“Don’t go, Carl. Don’t go.”

PUBLIC NUDITY AND CLUNKER CARS (aka my most embarrassing baseball moments)

I’ll never forget the night. It was May 7, 1991. . and it should have been spectacular.

I was at a Texas Rangers baseball game, with a group of 20 guys from my college dorm (I went to TCU). Our dorm manager had purchased group seats in the family section, which was the dumbest place to put a bunch of college-age guys because we couldn't drink or swear there, thus banning the two things that are most essential to having a great night out at a ballpark.

So, I'm in the second row behind the outfield wall. The rest of my dorm crowd is behind me. In front of me, is a group of boys celebrating a tenth birthday. To their right, still a row in front of me, is a group of hot sorority girls from our college. The night sky was a crisp black, the temperature a perfectly mild spring.

Now, this turned out to be a historic game, aside from what happened to me. In fact, it turned out to be legendary Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan's record-setting 7th no-hitter, and the Rangers were playing the Toronto Blue Jays. When the 7th inning stretch hit, instead of singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," Rangers fans get up and dance a thoroughly ignorant redneck jig to a loud recording of a fiddle-based country song.

So I’m up and shaking my ass country-style, when all of a sudden...I feel a cool breeze coming from below and I look down to see that I've been pantsed!. Not just my shorts, but also my tighty-whitey briefs, all down around my ankles. I'm in the family section, with four ten year old boys and an entire sorority in front of me...When a virtual miracle occurs.

The boys are watching something on the field, intensely. The sorority girls are looking back but in another direction, along with most of the guys from my dorm. They're all watching a loud drunk guy getting arrested way behind us all.

So I make the fastest move of my life, and manage to grab my shorts and hike them up fast. I figure nobody saw me. Well, nobody but...First, one guy from my dorm, who yelled out, "Oh GOD, Kozlowski just stuck his ass in my face!"
That was the guy who, it turned out, pulled my pants down and was trying to get everyone to notice. And, another groaning guy from another direction, who it turns out is...
A cameraman from Canadian television. He's been filming, live, us wacky Texans dancing the jig and when I bent down to pick up my shorts, I MOONED CANADA. Yep.
Guess who's never been back to Arlington Stadium?

Now, for most guys growing up in America, baseball is a big part of their childhood. After all, it’s known as “America’s pastime,” Little League games are practically a rite of passage, and there are few bonding moments so powerful between a father and son as a game of catch or teaching your kid how to hit a ball.

I was another one of those millions of kids who loved the game, but like most things in my childhood, I didn’t get to experience baseball in any way approaching normal.

My dad was from Poland, a country half a world over and seemingly from the culture of a different galaxy far, far away. Growing up Polish in the ‘70s, amid a non-stop barrage of Polack jokes and ethnic slurs, was a nightmare – especially considering we were trapped in the illiterate, redneck South. So I took a look around me and figured that baseball seemed to be the great leveler, the one sport everyone watched in America. And it was because of that that I became a rabid fan.

We were living in Little Rock, a city perpetually stuck at about 170,000 population but nonetheless the biggest city in our state of Arkansas. Because the city was so small, we weren’t able to have a major-league baseball team, but instead had a AA ball club – meaning that our Arkansas Travelers were perpetually halfway up the ladder to the bigtime. We were middling and mediocre – and this was a fitting metaphor for our city.

But I have to give my dad credit. Even though he didn’t understand a thing about baseball, he took me to the games each year without complaint anyway. We made quite a pair, as I spent two years with a metallic leg brace as a kid due to the fact I had an insane growth spurt that my knees couldn’t handle and my dad would show up with his gigantic, 700-page medical texts and Physicians Desk References to read. Let’s just say that we not only drew stares but outright catcalls from the uncouth minions around us.

But we didn’t care. Especially not me. I knew that my dad was truly giving me the gift of time all those summer nights, and it was all the more precious because I knew that given a choice, he would’ve been ANYWHERE else than watching this slow-moving game he didn’t understand for three hours at a stretch.

Dad was both protective of me and yet open-minded as well. When I lucked out and won concert tickets to see the cheesy ‘80s rock band Foreigner when I was just 11, every kid in my school seemed to call and beg me to go. My dad was smart enough to realize that a couple of 11-year-olds had no business hanging out amid a sea of pot smoke and shitty music (this IS the band that sang “Feels Like the First Time,” folks), but instead of making me let the tickets go to waste, he popped in some cotton balls to his ears and drove me to the concert himself. There’s nothing quite like seeing the opening act lead the crowd in flipping off their bosses while my utterly unaware dad munched popcorn and asked what all the racket was about. The only thing he related to the whole night was cheering for the gospel choir that came out to sing “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” but at least he didn’t make me leave by taking offense to the band singing “Hot Blooded.” Come to think of it, why was I even WANTING to be there?

I’d try to explain baseball to my dad, but it was pretty futile trying to retrain a mind whose entire capacity for sporting events was wired to getting excited about soccer. I should have just explained to him that baseball and soccer actually have a lot in common: Scoring hardly ever happens, and people get WAY too excited over watching a 0-0 game. The only thing less fun in my personal history of baseball was the one pathetic season I played on a YMCA team and only got one hit in seven games, all of which we lost. There’s nothing like playing on an 0-7 team to shatter one’s major league dreams forever.

But we, like all too many of our fellow Travelers fans, had to find our pleasures in the rest of the ballgame experience. First, there was the drive over to the ballpark on a warm summer night, a jaunt through some of the most idyllic neighborhoods in the city as the sun began to make its way down and over the horizon for the night, shooting out colorful streaks of light in every direction as my dad would crank up the Oldies station and sing Beatles songs with me in an extremely heavy accent.

Sure, that cracked me up at the time, but it’s nothing compared to watching him now in his retirement – as he sports an oversized 10-gallon black cowboy hat, jeans, boots and a checkered shirt while driving with my mom up to America’s Midwestern, white trash equivalent of Vegas: Branson, Missouri. Singing along to country radio, Dad is known as The Polish Cowboy whenever he hits a honkytonk dance floor, with my mom in a long skirt as they hit the floor two-steppin’ and line-dancing. Only now, after more than 35 years in America, citizenship, a quarter-century as a VA doctor and the fact that the collapse of European Communism started in his homeland have all combined to give him a genuine swagger when he hits a club.

Back in the Arkansas Travelers’ Ray Winder Field, however, making a game special often required a ridiculous gimmick. There was Clunker Car Night, in which a local used car dealership would bring in its absolute worst pieces of junk and give away a car to an unlucky attendee between every inning. If you “won” and could drive the car off the ballfield and onto the street, it was yours for free, and for life. One woman’s car broke down at the first stoplight she hit and she came running back into the stadium, weeping, shrieking and looking for the head of promotions. Other nights, clouds of exhaust would fill the air as the engines everywhere seemed to burst into flames.

Another favorite was Captain Dynamite. This was an apparently insane, and likely shell-shocked, old man who would don an American-flag-styled cape, drag a wooden coffin out to the pitcher’s mound between games of a doubleheader with two blond bimbos, fill it with dynamite sticks while tying a detonator to himself, and then climb in and commence a countdown that would lead to his blowing himself out of the coffin. It was quite an impressive feat to all of us Arkansas kids, and always somewhat instructive to find that when he signed autographs, Captain Dynamite would always hear our names wrong and inevitably sign over to the wrong kid’s name. My dad, meanwhile, would try to hustle me along, fearing that I would be unduly influenced by the Captain and his crazy ways.

But eventually, I was old enough to go to games with my friends, and my dad gladly dropped me at Jamie or Steve’s house and switched to seeing movies with me instead.

The most impressive display of Captain Dynamite’s prowess came on what might stand – next to July 4, 1988, when Bon Jovi and Motley Crue both showed up in town to co-headline the Greatest Heavy Metal Show We Had Ever Seen – as the greatest night in Little Rock history. It was July 1989 when LA Dodgers’ pitching legend Fernando Valenzuela came through town while stuck in the California Angels minor league system while rehabbing from an injury.

When word got out that Valenzuela was hitting our fair city, Fernandomania struck in a way that hadn’t been seen even in LA in half a decade. Ray Winder Field legally held 5,600 people, but that night, the crowd swelled to 12,500 before the authorities finally got involved. Every seat was filled, every inch of the spillover grass behind the bullpen was mashed down by the butts of families sharing the Most Magical Night in the History of Arkansas Baseball, and then, yet, it still wasn’t enough!

They had to open up the warning track – the sacred dirt track that lies just in front of the outfield fences to warn outfielders that they’re about to hit the wall – for seating. This development was singlehandedly the most stunning thing I had ever encountered in a ballpark, because it enabled fans to sit ON the field, as close to the action as anyone in history could ever imagine. My friends and I immediately jumped the fence from our bleacher seats and ran across the grass to be part of history.

Unfortunately, we didn’t take into account that this meant rock-hard baseballs would be flying, bouncing and rolling directly at us all night. Having to duck and cover, roll and jump out of the way while having players cuss at us for blocking their path to the ball added a level of excitement and danger that were worth far more than the mere $5 we had spent on tickets.

And then, at the 7th inning stretch, in a stunning display of showmanship, the Arkansas Travelers general manager announced a special surprise appearance by…drum roll please…Captain Dynamite!

All I could say was “Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!” I was 14 now, and thoroughly excited by this turn of events. I leaped up off the grass and started a rampage of fans headed directly for the pitcher’s mound. I wanted to get as close as possible to the Captain and check out his techniques from up front. It was like getting to see how Houdini escaped his straitjackets.

As the countdown began and I kept running towards Ground Zero, the ballpark announcers started warning us kids to “Stay away from the mound! Do not go near the pitcher’s mound! 5…4…3…” BLAMMO! I got knocked off my feet by the force of the blast and nearly felt my eardrums explode. The bodies of 500 other kids were strewn across the field around me, dazed but laughing.

“That…was…awesome!” I said, along with about 500 other easily amused 12 to 14 year olds.

That may have seemed the greatest moment ever, at age 14. I still go to games 10 or 15 times a year, wherever I’m living or visiting, picking the nights like Free Calendar Night when I know the odds are good that I can join in crowd pandemonium, making paper airplanes and shooting them through the air in defiance of ballpark regulations.

I sneak in beach balls and bounce them through crowds, leap up faster and higher than the rest of my row on The Wave, and sing the National Anthem as dramatically as Pavarotti. I sill drink a couple of brews no matter how expensive they are, kick my legs up and solve the world’s problems with my friends for hours, barely even noticing the game itself.

For I learned long ago with my dad that it ain’t about the runs that score or the double play. It’s about all the fun, crazy random stuff that happens on the perimeter.

And moments like that are why I will always love baseball. Even if the Rangers have banned me from their ballpark for life.

WATCH WHAT YOU SAY (It doesn't just happen to me!)

FROM Americans for Limited Government (ALG)

Entering the Age of O-ppression?
By William Warren
“I certainly feel like they were trying to make me be quiet and trying to intimidate me and take away my free speech…That’s what really enraged me is that I thought ‘there’s a lot of people out there that if [the secret service] showed up on their porch, that’s exactly what they’d do—they’d be quiet’…I wasn’t going to be the one.”—Jessica Hughes, in an exclusive interview with ALG News, November 20th, 2008.
In the face of insurmountable intimidation and bullying from armed Obama lieutenants, Jessica Hughes of Lufkin Texas has remained defiant—like any good American who values free speech and views dissent as a patriotic duty.
Upon receiving a call from a local Obama campaign staffer, Mrs. Hughes unashamedly exercised her 1st Amendment right and voiced her disapproval of the Democrat candidate’s views. After promptly hanging up the phone, she was proud of her candor, never expecting to be punished for what she said:
“On Wednesday, the 1st of October, I received a call on my cell while in the car with my husband. It was a woman who identified herself as calling from the Obama Campaign. The phone # she called from was 903-798-6020 which I later discovered lists as ‘Obama Volunteers of Texarkana’ (Texas).
“She did not give her name that I can recall but identified herself as calling on behalf of the campaign and questioned ‘Will you be supporting Senator Obama on November fourth?’
“I had just spent several hours in the Emergency Room with my son who had a mild concussion and the call was on my cell phone so I was doubly annoyed. I know for a fact that I have never given out my cell number to any organization that could remotely be construed as supporting Barack Obama’s campaign. As those who know me can testify I am quick with my words and I responded curtly:
“‘No, I don't support him, your guy is a socialist who voted four times in the State Senate to let little babies die in hospital closets; I think you should find something better to do with your time.’ I hung up. There was no argument or exchange of words. I simply stated my two biggest problems with the candidate this stranger was asking me to support and ended the call. Both my sons who are 6 and 9 and my husband heard the call.”
The very next day, however, Secret Service agents came to Mrs. Hughes’ house to question her regarding alleged “death threats” she made about Mr. Obama during the previous day’s phone conversation.
Offended, Mrs. Hughes denied such remarks and cited her original comments which had nothing to do with any kind of death threats. Nevertheless, the agents continued to probe—this time even into her thoughts and feelings. In her personal account of the event taken from her blog, Mrs. Hughes explained it as follows:
“I told the Agent in no uncertain terms, “My thoughts are not pertinent to your investigation. This is America and the last time I checked I am allowed to think whatever I want without being questioned by the Secret Service.
“I asked the agents, ‘Where is the tape of this call?’ … They told me that there is no tape…I said, "So on the word of a ticked off Obama supporter you are on my porch with no other evidence and you want to question me about my thoughts!?’”
After hearing of her story, ALG News directly contacted the courageous Lufkin resident. In ALG’s exclusive interview, Mrs. Hughes delved into further detail explaining how the Secret Service agents’ main intention, she believes, was to bully her:
“I felt that the purpose of the visit was to intimidate me…to silence me and make me not voice my opinion. But really it just made me so furious I resolved to voice my opinion all over the country. I felt that’s exactly what their purpose was…to intimidate me and make me be quiet.”
Moreover, Mrs. Hughes notes that even after it was clear she never threatened Mr. Obama’s life, the agents went so far as to belittle her telephone manners and question her demeanor. Mr. Hughes said, “When I gave them the actual quote, the female agent sad ‘Oh, really…well, why would she make that up? What would she have to gain?’ And I said, ‘Well, I guess she wasn’t happy about what I had to say about her candidate,’ and she said, ‘that’s right, you were rude.’…I was just shocked…she’s accusing me of being rude.”
Apparently politeness is now within the jurisdiction of Mr. Obama’s thought police, or thinkpol as Orwellian Newspeak called it.
And now, weeks after being intimidated by federal agents in the sanctity of her own home, Mrs. Hughes still has no answers as to why she was accosted, much less vindication. She does, however, carry an enduring Big Government stain. As she explained to us:
“The FBI was kind of enough to tell me the file the Secret Service has opened on me will follow me the rest of my life…
“I really find it disturbing that someone could make an unsolicited call to me on my cell phone that I pay for and have the power to send government federal force to bear on a private citizen at their home as a result of that call with no evidence whatsoever.”
Disturbing is putting it lightly.
ALG News also spoke with Jessica Savage, the reporter who broke the story in the Lufkin Daily News early in October. As Savage confirms, the Secret Service agents with Mrs. Hughes spoke—Special Agent Ricardo Zuniga Jr. and his partner D. Morris—have been identified and have not returned any phone calls. Moreover, both the Obama campaign and the Secret Service have refused to make any statement regarding the incident.
It is unclear if the Obama volunteer has been reprimanded or sanctioned for essentially filing a false report.
It seems as if the Obama campaign and the Secret Service would prefer this issue to just go away. But in the intrinsically defiant spirit of the first Amendment, Jessica Hughes—and ALG News—would prefer otherwise.
Unfortunately, punishing anti-Obama dissidence seems to be a growing trend in Lufkin, Texas. As the Lufkin Daily News reported Wednesday, a local school teacher has been placed on administrative leave over “inappropriate comments” allegedly made regarding Mr. Obama. The comments, which were supposedly overheard by a student in a school hallway, were reported to a parent who then passed it along to school authorities. Apparently it is acceptable for teachers to wear blue in support of Obama inside the classroom, but voicing a negative opinion about Obama outside of the classroom is grounds for indictment.
When informed about this latest incident, Mrs. Hughes was not surprised.
Lufkin, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The thinkpol has been on the march in other areas of the country as well. Missouri made headlines earlier in the campaign regarding “truth squads” the Obama campaign had assembled in the Show-Me State to “target anyone who lies or runs a misleading TV ad during the presidential campaign.” Prosecutors, attorneys, sheriffs and other Missouri law enforcement were all recruited to target these “liars” and essentially intimidate citizens from expressing any form of anti-Obama public discourse.
So much for free and unfettered speech.
If the Obama campaign’s utter disdain for any dissent—however legitimate—was not already evident enough, one needs to look no further than Mr. Obama’s very own campaign plane for some more convincing news. As ALG News covered in a cartoon, during the weekend before the election, reporters from the Washington Times, New York Post and Dallas Morning News were all abruptly kicked off Mr. Obama’s plane and denied any further media access to the Democrat candidate.
Curiously enough, the three newspapers have one peculiar thing in common—they all endorsed John McCain for president. It seems Mr. Obama jettisoned his pledge for “unity” along with the three reporters.
Nevertheless, if verbal threats, “truth squads”, and punishment weren’t sufficiently intimidating to Obama dissidents, then perhaps a night stick-wielding Black Panther clad in combat boots, a black beret and military fatigues might do the trick. That’s exactly what some Obama advocates did on Election Day while standing outside of polling places defiantly claiming to be “security.” And if Obama advocates, campaigners and supporters simply couldn’t do the job, Obama-critics should expect nothing less than the full force of unbridled government wrath brought down upon them.
Nothing bears testament to this better than Joe the Plumber—perhaps the biggest victim in the 2008 presidential campaign (although Sarah, Todd, and Bristol Palin would fit that bill as well). As previously reported, Joe Wurzelbacher, once an average American who dared ask Mr. Obama a tough question, unknowingly became a target in not only a personal smear campaign, but also in a Big Brother style government-backed investigation.
When he first made headlines in a McCain-Obama debate for exposing Mr. Obama’s affinity for spreading the wealth around, the left’s anti-Joe offensive began as a series of public mockeries and belittling. From there, however, it crossed the threshold from merely offensive to downright sinister.
In a piece written shortly before the election, ALG News detailed how Helen-Jones Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, had sanctioned a government-backed investigation of Joe Wurzelbacher’s private records in an attempt to dig up all kinds of dirt on the plumber. The Ohio Inspector General has since found that she acted improperly and has been suspended from her job. This is in addition to Joe’s tax and employment information already trumped up in the media.
Although Jones-Kelley claimed her investigation is mere routine, both her timing and campaign contributions say otherwise. The investigation was launched immediately following Mr. Wurzelbacher’s campaign debate debut and online records have shown that Jones-Kelley had donated the maximum allowed amount to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
As Mrs. Hughes duly noted in her interview with ALG News, “I think that the people who set this country up with a government that was supposed to stay out of our way and stay out of our business…would be revolted by [Government agents] coming to my porch and taking a collection of my thoughts on paper.”
Likewise, the Founding Fathers would undoubtedly be outraged over the great lengths to which the Obama campaign and his advocates in the government went in destroying an average American citizen who simply questioned a political candidate. Americans ought to be up in arms over this Big Government violation of personal privacy—although perhaps they fear “Joe the Plumber” treatment being subsequently wrought on themselves in return.
All in all, the 2008 campaign has been woefully defined by these insidious acts of citizen intimidation, dissent suppression, and privacy invasions.
And although Mr. Obama has not personally carried out these heinous acts, he has the responsibility to rein in his supporters—and his defenders—who, in his name, seek to exert wrath upon “rude” thought criminals like Jessica Hughes and Joe the Plumber.
If Mr. Obama refuses to acknowledge and condemn this anti-American and unconstitutional behavior, one should expect the culture of intimidation to not only carry into his first presidential term, but to thrive as well. If Mr. Obama by his silence sanctions this kind of behavior as a presidential candidate, imagine the role it will play when he is President.
As this culture of intimidation and suppression is allowed to proliferate, honest citizens like Jessica Hughes and Joe Wurzelbacher will be choked out.
And they will only be the first of many.
William Warren is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

THIS ELECTION IS A JOKE (So have a few laughs)

Jokes and raw comedic ideas...For the election. Then get off your butt and vote after reading this! I'm not endorsing by name, but initials: JM/SP.

I don't really have anything against Obama personally, but he wants to be leader of the free world with just two years' experience. You need five years' experience to manage a Circuit City.

Fine, McCain ruined the expereince argument in picking Sarah Palin. But rumor has it she's so hot she might do a porno if she loses. The slogan for it? "She'll do bipartisan, but not bisexual."

Joe The Plumber is gonna run for office when this is all over. His slogan? "This country's in deep shit. Isn't it time we called in the plumber?"

Bush needs a job now. I heard he's gonna try to be an English as a Second Language Teacher. But the school turned him down, telling he needed to speak English as a language, period, first.

I wouldn't even hire Bush as a Wal-Mart greeter. He'd just confuse all the customers: "What'd he say?"

Bush's autobiography is going to be called "Nothing But the Truth." It's two pages long.

That movie "W." came out and boy am I glad it's not rated X. Who'd wanna see Bush getting it on? Besides, he's fucked whole world already.

The $700 Billion bailout is ridiculous. We should just give up and start over wiht Monopoly money.

Come to think of it, we shouldn't vote for either McCain OR Obama. We should just elect the banker dude from Monopoly and let him twirl his giant mustache for the next eight years.

GOODBYE FREEDOM OF SPEECH (aka in the immortal words of Ice-T: freedom of speech, just watch what you say)

Funny how Democrats get the credit for being the freedom of speech party because they're supposedly more Liberal and they have to be, right?
Yet it was during conservative Republican icon Ronald Reagan who had the Fairness Doctrine repealed during his presidency, in 1984. The Doctrine had said any time a conservative view was on the nation's airwaves, then a liberal one had to be offered - and vice versa. What it amounted to was a PC clusterf*** years before PC ever really became an issue, and forcing the airwaves to be blanded out "you said this, so I'll say this" level of programming.
REpealing the Fairness Doctrine opened the airwaves to much more free speech for everyone, liberals and conservatives. But it was the conservatives who managed to succeed, with Rush Limbaugh leading the way to become the #1 radio host in America. Meanwhile, the liberal network Air America, despite the star power of Al Franken (whom i love by the way) and Janeane Garofalo (also love her!), went bankrupt, restructured and barely survives if at all.

All this comes down to the pathetic fact that if Democrats can't compete economically, they'd rather just shut everyone down. Despite owning coverage of every TV news department outside of Fox News, they need to also dominate the radio. And they can't do it by playing fair and making their own money the way the conservatives do.

Nope, they have to mandate opposing viewpoints until the whole sound spectrum gets muddied down into bland nothingness. Have they ever thought that the reason Rush succeeds is because he's telling Americans waht they want to hear, rather than the anti-American crap so often spewed from the left? Have they ever thought the reason the New York Times is in danger of being sold to stay alive might be because people don't really want to read an anti-American paper?

Could the reason Sarah Palin and JOhn McCain drew record ratings on "SNL" mean that a lot more people like the two of them than the media would ever acknowledge?

Could it be there might be a surprise tomorrow morning? Could the media wake up shocked at the fact a different pair got into office than they wanted?

Maybe not. But for now, I dream of laughing at those who want to take free speech and laughter away from our nation in the so-called name of "Fairness."


Schumer Compares Talk Radio to 'Pornography'
Tuesday, November 4, 2008 1:27 PMBy: Jim Meyers
Article Font Size
Democratic Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer defended the so-called Fairness Doctrine regarding talk radio, telling Fox News: “I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?”
The Fairness Doctrine, repealed during the Ronald Reagan administration, would require radio stations to balance conservative talk hosts with liberal ones.
In a Fox interview Tuesday morning, the Senator from New York was asked if he supported telling radio station what their content should be.
“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air,” Schumer said.
“I am for that … But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”
In 2007, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close ally of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, told The Hill newspaper: “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”
Conservatives fear that forcing stations to give liberal hosts equal time on the air would cut into profits so significantly that radio executives would scale back on conservative radio programming to avoid escalating costs and interference from the FCC, according to The Hill.
They also note that conservative radio shows have been far more successful than liberal ones.
A recent Zogby poll disclosed that those who said they would vote for Barack Obama support reinstating the Fairness Doctrine by a margin of 53 percent to 37 percent, with 10 percent not sure.
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