The International Writers Magazine
Dan Schneider examines the entrails of this month's edition and
our contributors - plus he takes a look at the 2004 election race
is really Dan Quayle with a better pedigree'.
A few months
ago several people urged me to start writing memoirs of my life. In
addition they urged me to start placing some prose pieces on websites
other than my own Cosmoetica. The reasoning was to widen name recognition
for a potential reading audience for the memoirs.
Twas sound advice and Ive taken up the calls for both the
memoirs and writing for other sites. In looking about online Ive
been appalled at the utter lack of writing ability- foremost the inability
for most prose writers (fictive or not) to transcend the mere a to b
to c progression of most tales. As for editorials or essays
the news is even worse. Though that skill takes even less
writing ability than prose fiction, much less poetry, the percentage
of capable editorialists are no better than for the two higher pursuits.
I shall deal with my plaints about online prose at another time, but
now I want to talk about one of the reasons I think Hackwriters is one
of the literal dozen or so readable opinion sites online.
First, although the editors have been squeamish about some topics and
references, overall, they are far more liberal (in terms of editorial
leeway) than most other opinion sites whose ideas of diversity is to
ask submitters to read our site- i.e.- show us nothing new.
Secondly, Ive found two interesting online pundits via Hackwriters.
The first is James Campion, who despite possibly having fallen in to
the trap of being another alternative media type (i.e.-
braindead liberalism) actually shows a range of thought in the couple
dozen pieces Ive scanned on Hackwriters and his own site - from
pop to political to sports culture. Its good to see some multivalence
for a change. His Protean ability to annoy all people along a spectrum
rises above mere gadflyism for its overall playful quality. If Frank
OHara (at his poetic best) could have written prose comment it
would likely have been Campionian.
The second writer whose handful of pieces Ive enjoyed is Reverend
Father Antonio Hernández. While not as technically versatile
as Campion his prose and subject matter dart and tease. He is a more
hip and aware Andy Rooney of sorts. But both writers exhibit a trait
that generally exists in only writers of quality- individuation; they
are not generic. Campion with his parries and Rev with his two-step,
alone, would make Hackwriters a site to visit a few times a month. But,
there have been other occasionally good pieces by other writers. End
of smile - insert reality check.
now the meat of this piece. The Hack editors asked me if I might
come up with some counterbalance to Campions musings on the
primary season. I replied by stating I might better be able to rebut
him in league with a couple of other pieces I disagreed with. But,
Campion leads off. The famed quote, attributed to many, goes something
like this, If youre not a liberal at 20 you have
no heart, but if youre not a conservative by 40 you have no
head. Bushwah - Schneiders Corollary would read,
If youre not apolitical by 40 you have not lived.
in my 20s I did the activism schtick, and saw corruption face up. 2000
was perhaps the perfect exemplar of the utter futility of the two party
system. Bush and Gore were twins, except Bushs wife was nicer.
And dont give me that Nader screwed us bullshit. Hed
not have been in the race unless a contrast to the gray Republicrats
was needed. Nor give me that Gore was robbed jazz. Of course
he was. Both he and Bush tried to steal the election- Bushs crooks
were just better- and on the Supreme Court.
But, I have to disagree with the whole tone of Campions pieces
which seem to view a Bush win as an inevitability. First, the slate
of Democratic contenders is stronger than that Clinton emerged from
in 1992. Is there a one of them that has the Clinton gift for politics-
no. But the top four contenders could woo the Nader vote back.
Lets write off the negligible Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton- who
even were he not a con man could not get elected for his skin color,
and Joe Lieberman - who even were he not a stealth Republican could
not get elected for his Jewry. That leaves current frontrunner Sen.
John Kerry, erst-frontrunner Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Edwards, and
Gen. Wesley Clark.
Before I get to the pros and cons of these four, lets see why
Bush is so vulnerable and would be easy pickings if, say, Bill Clinton
could run again. First is the economy. There is no sharp upswing in
sight for the rest of this year, and the little bumps in the bad economy
for the last few years have seen negative job growth. This killed W.s
daddy. Secondly, while the wars overseas have gone well, their aftermaths
have not. Iraq, more and more, is looking Indochinese as we hunker in
for a long haul. If the death rate of American servicemen of the past
few months continues through the election there will be close to 2000
American dead with no proof there was ever a link to Al Quaeda nor the
production of WMDs.
Thirdly, W. is really Dan Quayle with a better pedigree. Had Al Gore
simply removed the Hanes from going too far up his crack and shown some
passion the election would not have come down to Florida. W. simply,
despite Karl Roves handling, is dumb - really D-U-M! Unlike Ronald
Reagan 20 years ago, he does not have the benefit of a: likeability,
b: the illusion of a good economy, and c: an easily caricaturizable
opponent. Fourthly, the last four years have seen outrageous abuses
in the healthcare industry - mostly regarding drug companies price
gouging. This may finally be the year that even conservative
seniors say enough is enough. Lastly, Bushs Paris Hilton-like
affair with spending lacks her deep pockets. This is driving fiscal
and Rockefeller Republicans batty. If just a percent or two more stay
home than in 2000 Bush is toast.
Unfortunately for Democrats, Clinton was the only Democrat in the last
36 years who know how to overcome his own flaws and maximize his opponents.
Still, I dont think it will take a Clinton to beat W.
First off, the Democrats are still the default major party for most
folks because most voters are middle class and Democrats have historically
been a little better for that bloc. With few exceptions in the last
century Presidential elections are the Democrats to lose, which
theyve raised to an art - excepting Willy. For the Democrats to
beat Bush they have to show real passion, not too much wackiness, and
frame the election in terms of ethical fairness- be it on our post-war
conduct, tax breaks for the rich, healthcare, or a myriad of lesser
concerns. Do that, and the silly class warfare cries of
the Right will prove fallow.
As for the top four contenders? Assuming the five factors mentioned
above hold true, heres a breakdown. Kerry is the mainstream candidate
with perhaps the best chance of competing with Bush monetarily. Hes
smarter than W., a war hero who made a principled stand while W. played
the bong, and he can appeal strongly to all regions but the South. The
problem is he is the most Gorean. He has a definite passion
problem. Hes a creature of D.C. His odds against W. are 50-50.
But, hes no sure bet to get the nomination.
Campions whipping boy- Dean- is also smarter than W., but plays
less well regionally, although his passion (no prob) energizes youth
and may moot any third party challenge. But, his overblown Iowa
meltdown probably sealed his fate amongst Democrats. He wont
be the nominee- although hed destroy W. in a real or TV debate.
Although its now moot Id give him about a 45% shot at Bush.
John Edwards is somewhere between Kerry and Dean - passionate and smart,
but a bit vague and too puppy dog like in his pleas for votes. But,
he has the most chance to improve and remake himself were he to get
the nod. Those who think W. would walk tall against a lawyer
have not seen that Edwards has the most potential to approach Clintons
'people touch'. If Dean tumbles any further look for Edwards to pick
up the youth bloc. He could become the frontrunner just by winning two
or three southern states in a few weeks. Against Bush in a general election
hed have an edge. If even one of the five factors worsens he could
win going away.
Wesley Clark can trump Bush on the war, and point out his failures as
Commander-in-Chief without looking Quisling. He could, with a decent
Super Tuesday showing, move in to the lead. My gut tells me that he
and Edwards will end up on the ticket - the order is the key. But, he
could also be a Perot whose callow approach shows as he acclimates himself
to from military Yessirs to political Yasmms.
He also would be a slight favorite against Bush were he to get the nod
and things pretty much stay static.
Things rarely do, though. Bush could win handily or lose handily as
his papa did. Enough of boring stuff.
to two other Hack pieces Ive a bone with. Rev Tony (http://www.hackwriters.com/DVDcurse.htm)
recently ripped on DVDs. I was expecting a satire but he seemed to really
believes DVDs are not as good as VHS tapes. Ok, so the Rev has partook
of W.s bong. He argues the same line that most did against VCRs-
that they are too hard to hook up and operate. Not true. Even if you have
to buy a converter box for an old TV its still simpler than hooking
up a VCR. Those wacky Luddites! Quoth the Rev, DVD showed no improvement
over a VCR. What I did see was a draconian drop in videocassette quality,
along with the fascistic promotion of the highly expensive DVDs and DVD-players.
Over the last few years Ive slowly replaced my VHS tapes with DVD
and the improvement is stark. In the early 90s I bought a VHS of Manhattan
(for its widescreen gray bars) for about $70. I watched it about once
a year till I replaced it last year with a $7 used DVD bought online.
A dozen watchings had dulled the already average VHS quality. The used
DVD? Flawless- even without the extras Woody Allen eschews. Even better
are the quality silent filmsand classics available on cheap DVD. I have
versions of Birth Of A Nation and Metropolis on DVD that
were 1/5th their price from pre-DVD quality VHS distributors
like Video Yesteryear. Especially the Kino Metropolis is stunning in its
computer cleanup, not to mention an insightful documentary and excellent
commentary. 95% of it looks like it was filmed yesterday. For $9.99 used
it was a steal!
Similar classic films by Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, and Oliver Stone
are so far above their VHS counterparts that to argue against them is
folly. Oh yeah- no machine-killing rewinds! Rev counters: Isn't
it terrific to pay for an extra hour of garbage that completely ruins
the effect a good film ought to have? Actually it is, especially
when renting a VHS or DVD for the same price. When you get a dog of a
film like Hollow Man its great to know that at least the
extras make the rental worth it, and are better than the film. For a great
film it can only add, plus you can NOT watch them. Liberty! Before the
Rev flops to the canvas he mutters, They told me the tape cost $150.00.
On the internet I saw that it was the same price everywhere. All I could
say, over and over, was "Damn that DVD shit!" The same movie
is as common as cow pats on DVD, for $30.00. But quality films on
VHS were ALWAYS overpriced to buy- I know! DVDs had nothing to do with
that. Sorry, Rev, your columns are cool, but this one was way off.
Now I have to end with taking on the worst piece on Hackwriters. It is
a piece (http://www.hackwriters.com/compulsion.htm)
by a Laura Drentea-Morgan that is so ill-informed about its subject matter
its stunning. Its a screed against pornography that could
have been written by Ted Bundy. As someone who grew up with hookers, gay
bars, corrupt cops, and the occasionally porno pervert in his neighborhood,
I reckon Laura is obviously someone who writes from her own misperceptions
Personally, I find it silly and dull.
But the FAR greater problem in this country is sexual repression. Why
else use barely legal matchstick girls to titillate and sell everything
from cheese to congoleum? Because most Americans lead painfully dull lives.
The majority of porno users are casual and make up a small minority of
1 or 2%. In that group perhaps 10% are addicted. But its harmless.
The idea that porno leads to pedophilia or wholesale rape is manifestly
untrue. 50 years of Playboy have shown that ogling gorgeous babes is a
healthy preoccupation for maturing males. Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy,
Jeffrey Dahmer, and company were either born sick or corrupted by the
inability to express themselves sexually earlier. Suppress a natural urge
long enough and its release will be violence. Scandinavia and Polynesia,
where pornography and polygamy flourish, have almost no sexual violence.
Why? Quoth Laura, It also hinders your ability for a normal relationship
where you interact with others of the same sex, and opposite sex; limiting
your views and values you once had, interchanging them to what now is
considered acceptable by the porn industry. Spoken like
a Falwellian or Feminazi. Tell that to my happily married best friend,
his wife and daughter. These are assumptions with no hard basis in research.
And just what constitutes addiction? Taking what is considered normal
by the single life of self-pleasure and intertwine this with a new relationship,
your current or new job, and see how it impacts on your ability to concentrate
on your work or relationship issues. Some have become affected by their
continual need to see, view, indulge in a near perfect environment of
what the porn industry has to offer, in a world of plastic surgery, and
breast implants, and a wonderful airbrush quality to enhance further perfection.
Their values and morals have now been affected by their need or subconcious
(sic) need to see or experience sexual implications in every aspect of
life and interaction they may encounter. They are on their way to becoming
dependant on objectifying a persons body or parts. This is
acceptable reasoning in a screed, but not an article purporting a basis
Objectification in itself is not bad- its part and parcel of the
mating game. If you overdo it, like anything, its bad- but Laura
gives no parameters for what constitutes addiction, so all we are left
with is hysteria. I wont even touch the callow equation of sexuality
with morality, nor the rest of the piece, for it sounds too
much like the reasoning of Joe Lieberman, or that a mother gives to her
fat wallflower daughter whos dateless for the prom- But youre
the beautiful one, honey. REALLY! even though she knows moms
full of shit.
In the end Laura concludes with a sign of poor writing- the wringing of
a cliché: Just as the old saying goes what they dont
know wont hurt them this topic is proven to be dead wrong.
Actually not, but since I got in my jab at Lieberman Ill say no
© Dan Schneider, Jan 26th 2004
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