Strange Days, Indeed

By: Glynn Ash

"...Nobody told me there'd be days like these...
Strange days, indeed.
Most peculiar, mama!"

(J. Lennon)

Ah, yes, these are indeed strange days we are living in. It's a shame we lost John Lennon. I'm sure that he would be putting forth all his efforts to bring to the forefront the issues that are really affecting us today.

What exactly are those issues? Well, if your main source for "news" is today's mainstream media, you can rest assured that you are keeping abreast of the hot issues facing America today...yes, I'm dripping with sarcasm today.

Today's media sells us perjury. Stated as fact, ignoring the word "alleged" and most frightening of all, suppressing and rendering invalid exculpatory evidence against the accused, in this case (and as I'll show, many others) the President of the United States.

They sell us abuse of power. Stated as fact...(blah, blah, blah...)

They sell us lying under oath. Stated as fact...(yadda-yadda...yawn)

They sell us stained blue dresses. Monica Lewinsky. Linda Tripp. Lucianne Goldberg. Webster Hubbell. Susan McDougall. Cigars. Tapes, tapes...we got TAPES!!!

They sell us pundits like Larry Klayman, Ann Coulter, Jerry Falwell and the oh so chic DiGennovas telling us the "true" meaning of "high crimes and misdemeanors", "impeachable offenses" and the ever popular "rule of law", sanctimoniously calling for our President to resign as members of their own flock fall from grace for the same "crimes"...oh, I forget...they didn't "LIE" under oath...while "objective journalists" egg them on, asking the questions "real Americans" (see Bob Barr) want answers to, practically becoming cheerleaders, shaking the pon-poms of the right-wing fascists.

In short, aiding and abetting the removal of a twice and duly elected President by a Constitutionally protected free press. A press that has forgotten about journalistic integrity and the higher calling to be the peoples' watch-dog.

A press that has sold it's soul for illegal leaks and bottom-line advertising dollars. If John were alive, I think he'd be trying to focus our collective attention on other things.

I think he'd be telling us of the hypocricy of this media who did everything it could to sell America an image of Henry Hyde as a gentlemanly and fair statesman.

Being a constituent of his for a number of years, I could have told you of his abysmal voting record over the years in the areas of civil and human rights, consistently voting against reproductive freedom for women, against church/state separation, of how he carried the torch in defense of Reagan, Bush and North, of his standing ovation *in the court room* when Ollie got off, while telling us we must "keep lies in context", of his role in the failure and shenanigins of Clyde Savings and Loan during the S&L crisis, bilking not only the taxpayers but also his fellow bank board members as he refused to pay his portion of fines levied against them and then, siking a private investigator on a man who dared to demand justice...

...But nobody asked me.

I can see John laughing at the hypocricy of Hyde, on the eve of his sitting in judgement of a case of (alleged) sex lies, as he called his own home wrecking (that through omission, was a lie to his constituents for thirty years), a "youthful indiscretion" and demanding an FBI investigation to prove the leak came from the White House and at Livingston's self-righteous and calculated "resignation" from the house and speakership as his own piccadiloes were about to be made public.

Now, with the nomination of J. Dennis Hastert (from the district next-door to Hyde's) for Speaker of the House, the press is again both silent on one hand and selling us a bill of goods with the other.

Do we hear of his pork-barrel project, with a price tag of over $200,000, rammed through in the omnibus spending bill to study caffeinated gum?

The Center for Responsive Politics tells us Hastert took in "...42 times as much as his opponent for his 1998 re-election bid...just over $1 million and spending almost $945,000." A figure that was "50 percent higher than the average of $626,000 spent by House winners in the 1998 elections", coming mostly from industries "that lobby the House Commerce Committee" on which he sits and which oversees health care, telecommunications policy, and electricity markets.

And who are his biggest contributors? Health professionals ($62,200) and their insurance lobby ($59,990), electric utilities ($48,099), telephone utilities ($43,480) and commercial banks ($34,675).

He collected just over $600,000 in PAC contributions from the likes of Bank One Corp., BellSouth, Ameritech, the American Medical Association, and Caterpillar Inc. Is it any wonder that 40 million Americans, mostly children, are living without health insurance, why banks continue to gobble each other up and trade unions are suffering?

By the way, Hastert has received a rating of 100% from the flying-monkey, right-wing "Christian?" Coalition, for his brave and courageous stance in defense of "family values".

From the ACLU, a rating of 6% for his votes FOR school prayer, FOR the Flag Desecration Amendment, FOR abortion procedure bans, FOR trying juvenile offenders as adults, incarcerating them with adult criminals and putting them to death, FOR limits on abortions for minors, FOR school vouchers, FOR placing the Ten Commandments in court rooms and public schools, FOR allowing landlords to discriminate against domestic partners and his votes AGAINST Affirmative Action, AGAINST contraceptive equity for women, AGAINST voting rights, AGAINST needle exchange programs and AGAINST workplace protections and adoption rights for gays and lesbians.

Family values, huh? Not in my book.

And what do I read in my local newspaper about Hastert? Stories of "a shy man of integrity", a man "not accustomed to the glare of the national spotlight" who, as Speaker in the next session of Congress wil focus on "Social Security, tax relief and bringing respect back to the House".

Yeah, right. A shy man of integrity? More like a lackey for "The Hammer". Social Security? More like lining the pockets of Wall Street tycoons by privatizing the program. Tax relief? More like more tax BREAKS for the one percent who rule America. Respect? The House of Representatives? In the same sentence? Please!

Is the media highlighting the problems of guns in America? I mean besides when a father, worried about his troubled son's fascination with explosives, buys him a gun so he can be blown away along with his wife AND his son's fellow students, besides local news "if it bleeds, it leads" stories of drive-by shootings by gang members who wouldn't be in business if it weren't for government complacency in regards to drugs entering this country.

Is there a mention of a recent study by the Peter D. Hart Research Associates which shows that 43 percent of households with children have guns? That 23 percent of those gun households keep that gun loaded and another 28 percent keep that gun hidden but unlocked?

The only voice I hear is white-supremacist Charlton Heston (see David Duke's website), telling me that guns don't kill, people do and damn it, we need MORE guns.

Do they tell of the excesses and abuses carried out by law enforcement and prosecutors which are becoming the norm rather than the exception? Of trumped up evidence? Of denying admission of exculpatory evidence (sound familiar)? Of paying witnesses? Of "Gettin' on the bus"?

As far as I know, only the "Pittsburgh Post Gazette", in their ten part story "Win at All Costs"*, has given this story the attention it deserves. How many people outside of Pittsburgh saw it? Has the national media picked it up?

(*Note: There is hope in this regard, as The Chicago Tribune began a similar series On January 10, 1999 entitled "Trial and Error". G.A.;1/14/98)

As a result of these prosecutorial abuses, do we hear of the 74 *innocent* people released from death row since the reinstatement of the death penalty? Of the mentally retarded routinely executed? Of the executions already carried out on innocent people? What about the execution by car-bomb, a few blocks from the White House, of exiled former Chilean defense minister Orlando Letelier and the role, however passively, of then CIA chief George Bush?

So Sorry...old news.

OK, how about Clinton's attacks on the Bill of Rights? His recent signing into law for provisions that allow roving wire taps? His endorsment of the Communications Decency Act? And CDA 2? How about Waco...and where WAS Janet Reno?

Why aren't we hearing more of Trent Lott's involvement with the Council of Conservative Citizens? Why does it seem like I'm the only one who knows that a member of this organization, endorsed by Lott, recently stated in their newsletter "As this rotten edifice called Multiculturalism begins to collapse under the weight of its own lies, corruption, and decay, you will see us move with a speed and ferocity you never imagined...against the entrenched financial and liberal elites that have pushed this nation down the road to ruin".

Why are we not hearing about the racism of our elected officials? Why no mention of government sponsored censorship, meaningful campaign finance reform, prosecution of humanitarians bringing food, medicine and toys to war-torn Iraq, huge oil company mergers that put 10,000 people out of work, global warming and the recent increase in size of the hole in the ozone layer, Y2K and a host of other issues that affect all of our daily lives?

Why? Because sex sells!

While our house is crumbling around us we're sold sex, lies and audio tape from a corrupt, hypocritical mass media that's controlled by right-wing, and in some cases, theocratic conservative wackos who perpetuate the myth of a "liberal media".

If Lennon were still with us, I know he'd be forcing us to face the real issues instead of this charade being forced down our throats by "respected journalists".

I wish you were here John, I sure do miss you. I cried when you were taken from us. I think of you every year around this time. Given the sorry state we're in these days, I'm crying a lot these days...for all of us.

Strange days, indeed.