Friday, April 13, 2007

“If You Exempt It, They Will Come…”

WANTED: Hollywood Filmmakers to Shoot Your Film HERE

The VOICE from the Iowa cornfields whispered into our collective ears: “If you exempt it, they will come.”

And the prophecy caught a gust of wind and blew beyond Iowa’s borders, eventually resonating in the corporate enterprises, who found the answers blowing in the wind. En masse, they descended upon Iowa, seeking profits to fatten their underbellies.

And along came the corporate hog-farm producers, Wells Fargo and their posse of predatory lenders, Wal-Mart, riverboat and nonriver-boat Casinos, and others who found the answer blowing in the wind before descending upon the field of opportunities.

“Is this a Haven?”

“No, it’s Iowa.”

Welcome to Iowa: A Field of Economic Opportunities

And now Iowa has opened up the pearly gates of its tax haven away from haven to Hollywood filmmakers by providing them with a tax emption (25%) to shoot their films in Iowa. The only two catches to this tax break is that filmmakers have to drop at least $100,000 in Iowa, and they’re not shooting anything “obscene” (a euphemism for porno flick). Knowing the Adult Film Industry hasn’t shot a big-budget pornographic film since they were teenagers secretly watching their parents’ collection of big-budget porno films, lawmakers figured $100,000 would serve as a good deterrent and would help promote their scientifically-researched abstinence-laden “Safe-Filming” education policy.

According to proponents of the new bill, the tax exemption for filmmakers will help feed the tourist industry as onlookers spend money during the filming and at gift shops erected upon the film site after the shooting. Opponents of the bill fear the exemption will tap into Iowa’s leading tourist industry: The Presidential Caucus and Campaigning Tourist Industry. There should be plenty of greasy elbow room for both, and better yet, the presidential hopefuls should exploit this new tax loophole by filming their campaign in Iowa, so they can right off 25% of their expenses.

Political Fallout’s Working-Title Productions

The following are working titles of films about the current field of presidential hopefuls who are planning on spending a lot of face time in Iowa. See if you can match the presidential candidate with the respective title:

1. Diva Las Vegas!

2. The Burnt Bridges of Christian Conservative County

3. Dennis the Menace Strikes Again and Again

4. The Rabbit Hunter

5. Fields of Dreaming Illegal Immigrants

6. A Mill Worker’s Son

7. The First Wives Club III

8. An Inconvenient Truth II

9. The Last Temptation of Newt Gingrich

Answers: 9. Newt Gingrich, 8. Al Gore, 7. Rudy Giuliani, 6. John Edwards, 5. Tom Tancredo, 4. Mitt Romney, 3. Dennis Kucinich, 2. John McCain, 1. Hillary Clinton

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84: “So it Goes”

The satiric literary icon of the 20th century, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., died today, April 11th, 2007. His death was reported by the publisher Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Mr. Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago.

Vonnegut will be greatly missed in the literary world, the satiric world, and in Iowa City, where he’s become a local legend due to his brief stint in the ‘60s as an instructor at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I remember going to many a May Day party at the Vonnegut House in Iowa City, until a family bought it and turned it into a home. I also remember when Vonnegut gave a lecture a few years back in Iowa City to a standing-room only crowd at the IMU main ballroom, not to mention the estimated 2000 people who stood outside the door and didn’t get in to see their beloved icon. I distinctly remember him thanking all of the hippies for buying “Slaughterhouse-V” in the ‘60s so he could afford to take a few years off and dabble in some teaching while writing his next book. Vonnegut still had his wry sense of humor intact, even at 81.

I had just finished reading and teaching “Slaughterhouse-V” three days ago. Please bear with me as I connect some of the spiritual dots here. We had just finished reading and discussing Vonnegut and “Slaughterhouse-V” last Friday, or Good Friday -- the day Jesus had died. So it goes. We discussed how the main character, Billy Pilgrim, was a Jesus character. Two days later I celebrated Easter and the resurrection of Jesus. For whatever reason, this was the first time I had been so deeply moved on Easter, moved enough to actually attend a church service. After church, I wrote a three-part trilogy, which expressed my “Ruminations about Easter, Jesus, and the Resurrection.” Three days later, Vonnegut died. So it goes.

So what does all of this mean? If you follow the syllogism then Billy Pilgrim is Vonnegut is Jesus? Where do I fit in the equation? Who knows? Vonnegut probably does, now that he’s joined his mother, father, and sister, Alice. So it goes.

Well, there’s only one thing you can say when your favorite author and satiric muse dies:


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Doc Fallout’s Spin Machine: Bush’s Disapproval Rating

Is today going to be partly sunny or partly cloudy? Is the glass half empty or half full? Is that idea half baked or fully baked? Are we winning or losing the War in Iraq? How you answer these questions depends or doesn't depend on how you view or don't view the world.

The same can said to be true or not to be true regarding how we view or don't view George W. Bush and the job he’s doing or not doing as our elected or supreme-court nominated President. Do we approve or disapprove of Bush’s performance? Are we satisfied or dissatisfied with Bush’s handling of affairs? Do we view Bush favorably or unfavorably?

Not a week goes by when we hear about or don’t hear about Bush’s approval rating, but is the word “approval” slanted and misleading or is it not slanted or misleading?

Doc’s Spin: Since we live in a Democracy or supposedly live in a Democracy, we should default or not default to the majority rule (depending on whether or not the Supreme Court has to interdict), especially when something can be clearly measured or clearly manipulated by polls. The latest polls show that Bush’s approval rating is hovering around the 35th percentile, while his disapproval rating lingers at the 60th percentile. Based on these numbers, it’s clear that the majority of Americans disapprove of Bush’s performance or fumbling of the presidency, so the media should call them Bush’s Disapproval Ratings, unless the tables should take a shocking turn for the worst or the best, then the media could revert to the Approval Rating.

Now for all of you optimists out there, no worries. If President Bush’s Disapproval Rate stays the course, you can say: “Golly, Bush’s disapproval ratings are going up.” And if you wondering how President Bush can tip the scales and resurrect his Approval Ratings, there’s always this to help keep your spirits up or dampened:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Iowa’s Minority GOP Demands Affirmative Political Action

Senate Republicans are demanding affirmative political action and have accused Governor Culver of regionalism in his Board of Regents appointments. Not one of the appointees is from western Iowa, home of the University of…?

Regionalist Governor Culver announces non-western Iowa Board of Regents to group of non-western Iowa media representatives.
Nobody said living the life of a minority is easy, even in the world of politics. No? Just ask gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered persons in Iowa, who can’t even get basic protections against discrimination added to the state’s civil rights code. And now, having only suffered three harrowing months as the minority party, the Iowa GOP has had enough and intends to stand up for their rights. Senate Republicans have chosen Culver’s Board of Regents appointments as their target, and the epic battle for equality will take place in the Senate chamber. Unless of course Governor Culver is willing to concede one of his appointees before the battle begins, preferably throwing a Democrat under the GOP’s gauntlet. Better that than getting run over by Senator McCain's Straight Talkin' Pandering bus, I suppose.

Armed with her Gel Pen of Justice, Senate Minority Leader Mary Lundby is leading the historic charge, decrying: "We will insist that we have a western Iowa regent, preferably someone who is a physician.We would like to send a very clear message to the governor that we expect a western Iowa appointment. The concern about the regents not having a western Iowa regent is still a very strong concern." I wonder how Iowa’s Lundby would react if Culver appointed a gay physician from western Iowa?

Geographically, the four appointees hail from Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Brooklyn. While central and eastern Iowa is represented, while the western part of the state gets the shaft. But so do the northern and southern regions. Not to mention all four corners of Iowa and Jim Nussle’s ubiquitous fifth corner were neglected by our Regionalist Governor.

It’s a good thing Iowa’s 82nd General Assembly has already solved all of the pressing issues in Iowa (other than Clean Elections, corporate hog lot control, Iowa’s current Health Care crisis, environmental issues, just to name a few), so they can focus entirely on Culver’s Regionalism issues.

The GOP may want to consider other solutions before drawing a line in the political sand. For instance, they should inspire a succession. Just as West Des Moines succeeded from Des Moines and created its own governing municipality, western Iowa should do the same. Western Iowa can formulate its own government leadership and build its own University. I’m sure Rep. Steve King’s son’s construction business would enjoy a no-bid contract to help build the University of Western Iowa.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Ruminations on Easter, Jesus, and Political Resurrection (Part III)

Resurrection (Part 3 of 3-part Trilogy)

While sitting on the couch Easter evening, I witnessed a miracle. Standing tall on a bookshelf adjacent to the coach, my Jesus Action Figure raised his outstretched arms and poseable thumbs, looked at me, and spoke:

Jesus: T.M., why is it that you search for the dead among the living?

T.M.: I’m not following you, Jesus.

Jesus: Me neither, but that line sure makes a great Easter catch phrase. Anywho, I want you to do me a favor.

T.M.: No problem, Jesus. Whatever you want.

Jesus: First, will you turn my poseable thumbs downward and lower my arms? (I do as Jesus asks.) Thank Dad, my thumbs were killing me. I felt as if I had been eternally trapped in a hitchhiking scene from “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.”

T.M.: And the second thing you wanted?

Jesus: Huh? (long pause) Ah yes, I nearly forgot. I want you to listen to my words and preach a sermon to the 82nd General Assembly on your blog, "Political Fallout."

Will do, Jesus.

Jesus: And hurry, there’s only a few weeks left in the session.

Sermon on the Couch: Or What Would Jesus Say if He Spoke to Iowa’s 82nd General Assembly

When He saw the Iowa’s 82nd General Assembly pushing forward meaningless bills legislating beer kegulation, amending unconstitutional flag desecration laws by making them less unconstitutional flag desecration laws, banning the hunting of live animals with an Internet hookup, barring the mutilation of human corpses to conceal a crime, barring Iowans from possessing bears and other wild animals, barring Idiots from voting, making channel catfish Iowa’s state fish, and regulating deer contraceptive drugs (so they don’t fall into the wrong hands), Jesus descended upon my couch and spoke:

Blessed are the poor, who should be protected from predatory lenders who partake in abusive mortgage lending practices.

Blessed are the meek, who shall inherit the land, assuming it hasn’t already been destroyed by corporate hog lot runoff.

Blessed are the persecuted, whose state civil rights protections were denied by those whose rights already are protected.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

The time to rise up, walk the walk, and lift the burden has arrived…

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Ruminations on Easter, Jesus, and Political Resurrection (Part II)

Jesus Under Attack (Part 2 of 3-part Trilogy)

While most Americans take time out on Easter Sunday to spend time with their families, attend church services, or participate in the pagan ritual of hunting for dyed eggs, Political Fallout would like to take time and pay tribute to the men and women of the armed forces, who have been sent over to Iraq as part of President Bush’s personal Crusade to spread Christianity in the guise of Democracy.

May Peace be with you, and may you return home swiftly and safely.

Speaking of home, President Bush returned home to his 1,600-acre sanctuary away from sin in Crawford Texas, where he has spent part or all of 409 days of his presidency. This is as many days as a typical tour of duty in Iraq, not including tour extensions and those serving their second, third, or fourth tour.

Shame, shame, King George. You may call yourself a born-again Christian of the evangelical sect, but I’m quite certain your Savior would not approve.

On the lighter side, Stan and Kyle finally learn the true story behind Easter and the Easter Bunny:

End Part II…

Ruminations on Easter, Jesus, and Political Resurrection (Part I)

The Crucifixion (Part 1 of 3-part Trilogy)

I confess, today was the first time I’ve been to a Christian church service (excluding funerals) in a few years. I have cultivated a strong resistance of joining anything that smacks of collective thought. I’ve quit and rejoined the Democratic Party enough times since the year 2000 that I’m on a first-name basis with the county registrar. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m a big fan of Jesus and the beliefs He espouses; I’m just not into the organized religion aspects of Christianity. Mark Twain said it best: “If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be--a Christian.”

In fact, one of my most prized presents this past Christmas, other than my hard-soul slippers, is my Jesus Action Figure (with poseable arms & gliding action). When I see Jesus looking at me with his outstretched plastic arms, I’m reminded of what draws me to progressive politics. Better yet, because Jesus is indeed an action figure, I’m also reminded that His words were meant to inspire action, not apathy. When I hear people and politicians distort Jesus’ message, my Irony Radar kicks into overdrive, and I feel compelled to take action and expose these ironies and hypocrisies through my satiric lens.

Last night, on the Eve of Jesus’ Resurrection, I watched “Jesus Camp,” a documentary film about the “Kids on Fire School of Ministry,” a charismatic Christian summer camp located just outside Devils Lake, North Dakota. (Irony Radar Bleep: Did anyone else catch the irony of a Jesus camp setting up shop by Devils Lake?) The indoctrination camp is run by Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Ministry International. The film focuses on three kids from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, as they prepare for and attend the Jesus Camp. While watching the film, not only was I disturbed by the indoctrination process of these kids, but I couldn’t help but think they were being mentally or spiritually abused. Why Becky allowed cameras to capture this on film is beyond me. Blinded by her own religious fervor, she must have thought this film would help spread her message and serve as a tool for recruiting Jesus’ foot soldiers. Ironically, the film’s release and public outcry (especially from the locals) forced Becky to close up shop and suspend the camp indefinitely.

I was intrigued by the corporate influence in the Jesus Camp, which ranged from one of the main three kids wearing a Jesus t-shirt parodying Reeces, to Becky dousing bottled Nestle water on the kids as they balled their eyes out while publicly repenting their sins. This was a little different take on the baptismal I had imagined (which is more like the baptismal scene in the movie “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”) Just before the children had arrived for the first indoctrination ceremony, Becky and her staff warded off the Devil, making sure he wouldn't come and undo her computer and PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint went off without a hitch, so I imagine the Devil had other mischief to tend to in the world. As children began spilling in, the staff ramped it up with some thumping Jesus music. “J.C.’s in the House” and “Kickin’ It for Jesus” had the kids gyrating their hips to the Devil’s rhythm and beat in no time.

Towards the end of the film, Becky Fischer contends that her mission is nonpolitical. This was a stark contrast to the George W. Bush cardboard cutout scene, where all the kids were told to touch his two-dimensional fa├žade, collectively blessing him as if he possessed some sort of spiritual healing powers. When considering Bush’s one-dimensional view, this heavy-petting scene merely served as yet another exaggeration on behalf of the charismatics.

End Part I…