“Intellectual kneecappings on demand.”
e122fig14 at the O-naugural
Austin Dispatches
No. 122
Feb. 8, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An imposter almost thwarted Barack Hussein Obama in the final stretch along the road to the White House. Despite Obama’s Secret Service protection, extra layers of security around the Capital,1  and precautions such as removing public garbage cans,2  these government employees were ineffectual in preventing a faux Obama who advocated pulling troops out of the Mideast, repealing the PATRIOT Act, and making U.S. dollars redeemable in gold again. Naturally, he had to be stopped.3

e122fig3 However, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man happened to be available to save the day.4  I.e., he continued the long tradition of superheroes, usually private actors, buttressing the corporatist, managerial-therapeutic, warfare-welfare state. Why do you think they really wear masks?

Thus, at the stroke of noon on a cold, clear Jan. 20, Obama stepped to the lectern to be sworn in as president by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts. Whereupon they flubbed the recitation of the oath of office, just as they’ve flubbed their constitutionally proscribed roles.5 Actually, the swearing-in was somewhat anticlimactic because that hyped event was something Americans have speculated about since at least the ‘60s.6

He couldn’t even inspire an outstanding tune out of the dozens composed worldwide during the campaign. In fairness, neither could Ron Paul.  The musicians must’ve decided not to waste interesting melodies on mere presidential candidates. It’s not like the good old days of the Reagan administration. Now there was a president who could inspire tunes.7

Two days earlier, Obama told a Washington rally that there’s no obstacle that can’t be overcome.8 What he may only dimly realize, because he’s succumbed to his own hype, is that he and his ilk are the chief obstacles we must overcome.9  

For example, he has a record of ducking tough votes. When he did vote, it was in tandem with the likes of nominal rival John McCain, to expand the size and scope of the corporatist state.10 For example, the inauguration cost a record $170 million, the cost of which was partially borne by Wall Street executives from the corporations they voted to bail out last fall. Elsewhere, that’s known as a kickback.11 

e122fig8 In other cartoonish aspects of the inaugural, a lawyer complained that 5,000 port-a-potties wasn’t enough.12 The Whiskey Rebel estimated in his online diary that each portable toilet would have to accommodate an average of 200 to 400 people and securely contain at least 28 gallons of human waste in a congested environment.13

Between that and the missing garbage cans, the crowd of about 1.8 million people left at least 130 tons of garbage for the National Park Service to clean up.14 All of which proves what many of us have known for years: Washington is full of crap.

I don’t emphasize this aspect of the inauguration just because it’s funny. Rather, it’s an effective metaphor for the Obama administration. While he’s droning away in the presidential bubble, his supporters who lacked enough “clout” for the VIP section were out in the cold and deprived even of satisfactory relief.15  In fact, this is why the black superheroes were unavailable – they were stuck in line to use the toilets. After all, what’s more important, Obama’s golden moment, or your bowels? If you have to think about your answer, you probably voted for Obama. Even ticket holders were turned away.16  If he’ll do that to his own supporters, imagine how he’ll treat the rest of us.

“Fool Me... and Won't Get Fooled Again.”

The day’s highlight came when the inauguration crowd audibly booed the incumbent in his last minutes in office. Dubya’s expression indicated even he got the message.17 Austin Dispatches, of course, had been warning the world about Dubya before he was president.18 Similarly, we were onto Obama years ago.19

Which brings me to the one good point in all this: Obama replaces George W. Bush, a pseudo-religious, wastrel, sociopathic scion20 of a particularly venal patrician political dynasty,21 who campaigned as a yokel,  ruled as a tyrant,22  and left us and our country poorer, weaker, and further shackled than before.23  So much so that he ties with Woodrow Wilson as the worst U.S. president ever,24 a verdict that may be revised in Wilson’s favor as further evidence is uncovered.25  May his future gravesite be perpetually soaked in urine from those he’s wronged.

On the Town

Jan. 6: At dinner in North Austin with several acquaintances, a colleague – who shall remain nameless for the sake of his career – attempted to gain the table’s attention with a disgusting account of behavior he witnessed in the men’s room at the Nashville airport. I won’t burden you with the details, but it was disgusting – hilariously so. I thought, anyway. Everyone else thought it was inappropriate for the dinner table. If only they knew.26

Later, someone else critiqued the new Tom Cruise Nazi movie as dull.27 Cruise was earnest and presumably Aryan, perhaps because he couldn’t peer over his Ray-Bans and flash a cocky grin, or dance about in his underwear.28 Seemingly, he also has the rare knack of making Nazis boring.29 

Jan. 22: With creeping age, “Melanie Ordones Welker” appears to have finally relaxed in my presence.30  We caught up at Austin Uptown’s salsa social.

“I still should be looking for a job, but I haven’t been,” she said.

“I shouldn’t brag, but I just paid off my car note.  That way I have a place to live, no matter what happens,”  I said, to her genuine laughter.

The Master Gets the Last Word

My favorite author, John Updike, died Jan. 27, age 76.31  His work was among my earliest serious adult reading, after I graduated from comic books and juvenile histories of World War II. His characters happily babble in the lingo of their non-literary occupations, rarer in contemporary fiction than should be. When Updike did write about a writer-protagonist, it was an excuse to gleefully satirize the literary world.32 He inspired me to become a professional writer, though whether he’d want to accept such credit will forever remain conjecture.

Characteristically, Updike even got the last word on his death in a poem published posthumously in the New York Times:

It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise — depths unplumbable!”

Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”

For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.33
The Importance of Being Ernesto

e122fig11 Based on Chronicle articles, “Ché,” the biopic of Ché Guevara, Communist mass murderer and bungling guerrilla, seems to have the combined flaws of “Kill Bill” and the definitive director’s cut of “1900,” a six-hour art film glorifying Italian Reds.34 

Months after release, pundits are still nattering about the biopic “Milk.”35 The openly homosexual San Francisco supervisor, slain 30 years ago by the Zodiac serial killer36  – no, actually it was a fellow supervisor – instead of being hit by a softball,37 or dying of AIDS38  – has since become the topic of at least two movies, a stage play, and an opera. That’s just an off-the-cuff recollection; he may have inspired more additions to that oeuvre that haven’t impinged on my consciousness. Now that he’s safely dead, Hollywood is happy to milk his faggotry for all it’s worth, at least at Oscar time. Moreover, this is the second such flick in two years where the homosexual protagonist dies violently.39 Is there a subtextual Tinseltown death wish that media studies professors should be “deconstructing”?

Austin Death Watch

Google shut down its Austin office.40 Freescale Semiconductor put its workers on a week’s worth of furlough.41 In good news, the City has imposed a hiring freeze.42

The Statesman reports the cost overruns on the light-rail project were a “mere” $17 million. The officials who provided the information say that’s good by the standards of such projects.43 The Senate is balking at a $27 million price tag to restore the torched Governor’s Mansion. I like Statesman columnist John Kelso’s suggestion: Buy a doublewide trailer.44 

Police report a rise in assaults in most sections of town.45 Meanwhile, a former Austin cop with a chequered career is sitting in the Williamson County jail on a bank robbery charge.46 The Travis County Green Party co-chair dropped dead at 44, probably from malnutrition brought on by an insufficient, vegetarian diet.47  The local origami social group has folded. The leaders tried to paper over the fact that it’d lost its edge.

Neighborhood News

On my lunch break, I learned Circuit City declared bankruptcy and is going out of business. By the time I arrived at the outlet at the Arbor Walk shopping plaza after work, the selection had been fairly well picked over. Yet even discounted, the store’s stereo components I want were still priced higher than what I can pay for them online.48

Cap Metro disrupted traffic, by closing Kramer Lane for upgrades to the railroad crossing, beginning at the evening rush hour of Jan. 16. Dumbasses.49 A donut shop opened in the mini-strip mall at Parmer Lane and Tomanet Trail. An IBC bank branch office has opened in the neighborhood H-E-B.50

Media Indigest

The January issue of The Good Life is that magazine’s last. Despite being a “progressive-leaning magazine,” it was still a useful news source.51 DC Comics is cutting back Mad magazine’s publishing schedule to quarterly instead of monthly. The usual gang of idiots won’t be so usual.52 


1 “Obama Inauguration Poses Massive Security Challenges.” The Hamilton Spectator 7 Jan. 2009, final ed.: A1.
2 Dvorak, Petula. “The Trash Was Historic, Too.” WP 22 Jan. 2009: B1.
3 Eisler, Dan. “Another Job for Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.” E-mail to Abimbola Ijagbemi, 8 Jan. 2009.
4 Colton, David. “Obama, Spider-Man on the Same Page.” USAT 8 Jan. 2009: 1D.
5 Shear, Michael D. “Obama Sworn in Again, With Right Words.” WP 22 Jan. 2009: A4.
6 Wallace, Irving. The Man. New York City: Simon and Schuster, 1964.
7 “Hails to the Chief.” The Onion 22 Jan. 2009, Austin ed.: 12.
8 Page, Susan. “ ‘Just the Feeling of Being Here.’ ” USAT 19 Jan. 2009: 1A.
9 Kass, John. “Unlike Media, Obama Knows He’s No Wizard.” Chicago Tribune 20 Jan. 2009 <http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-kass-20-jan20,0,3410243.column>.
10 Freddoso, David. The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2008: Ch. 6.
11 Mayerowitz, Scott. “What Recession? The $170 Million Inauguration.” ABC News 19 Jan. 2009.
12 “ ‘Father of Potty Parity’ Calls 5,000 Johns ‘Inadequate.’ ” WTOP-FM 13 Jan. 2009; Sun, Lena H., Nikita Stewart, and Meg Smith. “No. 1 Priority: Porta-Potties on Mall.” WP 19 Jan. 2009, final ed.:  B1.
13 “The Whiskey Rebel” [Phil Irwin]. 13 Jan. 2009. Whiskey Rebel’s Diary <http://home.centurytel.net/whskyreb/diary.html>.
14 Dvorak, op. cit.
15 O’Connor, Len. Clout: Mayor Daley and His City. 1975. Rpt. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1984.
16 Constable, Pamela, and Mary Beth Sheridan. “ ‘And Then We Knew It Was Too Late.’ ” WP 21 Jan. 2009: A18.
17 “Catherine Jones Says...” Liverpool (U.K.) Echo 22 Jan. 2009: 6.
18 AD No. 19n33 (July 2000).
19 AD No. 73n35 (Nov. 8, 2004).
20 Corn, David. The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception, rev. ed. New York City: Three Rivers Press, 2004;  Kuo, David. Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. New York City: Free Press, 2006; Minutaglio, Bill. First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty, rev. ed. New York City: Three Rivers Press, 2001; Perret, Geoffrey. Commander in Chief: How Truman, Johnson, and Bush Turned a Presidential Power Into a Threat to America's Future. New York City: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007: Ch. 24, 26-28.
21 Anderson, Jack, and Daryl Gibson. Peace, War, and Politics: An Eyewitness Account. New York City: Forge/Tom Doherty Associates, 1999: Ch. 26; Bryce, Robert. Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, rev. ed. New York City: PublicAffairs, 2003: Ch. 12; Cramer, Richard Ben. What It Takes: The Way to the White House, rev. ed. New York City: Vintage Books, 1993: Ch. 1, 9, 50-52, 80, 108, 110, 116, 126-127, 130; Kelley, Kitty. The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, rev. ed. New York City: Anchor Books, 2005; Phillips, Kevin. American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. New York City: Viking, 2004; Ruppert, Michael C. Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 2004: Ch. 4; Unger, Craig. House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties, rev. ed. New York City: Scribner, 2004.
22 Bovard, James. The Bush Betrayal. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004; Kucinich, Dennis, David Swanson, and Elizabeth de la Vega. The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush. Port Townsend, Wash.: Feral House, 2008.
23 Block, Walter, and Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. "Katrina and the Future of New Orleans." Telos Summer 2007: 170-185; Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, rev. ed. New York City: Penguin Books, 2005: Ch. 30-32; Draper, Robert. Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush. New York City: Free Press, 2007; Friedman, George. America’s Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between American and Its Enemies, rev. ed. New York City: Broadway Books, 2005; Halper, Stefan, and Jonathan Clarke. America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 2004: Ch. 4, 9-10; Hersh, Seymour M. Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. New York City: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004; Suskind, Ron. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill, rev. ed. New York City: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2004.
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25 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington vs. Cheney. 1:08-cv-01548-CKK. U.S. Dist. Ct. D.C. 2008: 24; De Rugy, Veronique. “Bush’s Midnight Regulations.” Reason Feb. 2009: 18-19; Murphy, Cullen, and Todd S. Purdom. “Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House.” VF Feb. 2009: 88+; United States. Cong. Senate. Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Hearings. 110th Cong., 2nd sess. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 2008: 136.
26 Praeger, Dave. Poop Culture. Los Angeles: Feral House, 2007.
27 Valkyrie. United Artists/Achte Babelsberg Film/Bad Hat Harry Productions, 2008.
28 Risky Business. The Geffen Co., 1983.
29 Reich, Wilhelm. The Mass Psychology of Fascism, rev. ed. 1946. Trans. Vincent R. Carfagno. 1970. Rpt. Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin Books, 1975.
30 AD No. 100n20 (Sep. 3, 2007).
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32 Eisler. “Re: Sample of Reflections in Shattered Glass.” E-mail to KT Hernandez, 21 Oct. 2002.
33 Updike, John. “Requiem.” NYT 29 Jan. 2009, New York ed.: A27.
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35 Dabney, Cole. “2008 Austin Film Critics Awards Go Batty for The Dark Knight.” ISM Jan. 2009: 12.
36 AD No. 98n44 (June 11, 2007).
37O’Rourke, P.J. Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People, rev. ed. New York City: Morgan Entrekin/Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989: 268.
38 Shilts, Randy. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, rev. ed. New York City: Penguin Books, 1988.
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41 Ladendorff, Kirk. “Freescale Trims Labor Expenses.” AAS 14 Jan. 2009: D1.
42 Toohey, Martin. “Austin Curbs Hiring, Raises.” AAS 17 Jan. 2009: A1.
43 Wear, Ben. “For Rail, Overrun of 17% at Least.” AAS 30 Jan. 2009: A1.
44 Kelso, John. "$27.2 Million to Restore the Governor's Mansion? Why Not Just Buy a Doublewide." AAS 8 Feb. 2009: B1.
45 Plohetski, Tony. “City Sees Jump in Attacks With Weapons.” AAS 4 Feb. 2009: A1.
46 Plohetski. “Ex-Police Officer Tied to Bank Robbery.” AAS 16 Jan. 2009: B1+.
47 Whittaker, Richard. “Green Party Leader Holloway Dies.” AC 16 Jan. 2009: 20.
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49 Cortez, John-Michael. “Neighborhood Advisory From Capital Metro: Kramer Lane Traffic Disruption.” E-mail to Dan Eisler et al., 15 Jan. 2009.
50 AD No. 96n5 (Feb. 6, 2007).
51 Smith, Amy. “ ‘The Good Life’ Says Goodbye.” AC 23 Jan. 2009: 19.
52 Gustines, George Gene. “Sad News for Mad Fans.” NYT 24 Jan. 2009, late ed.: C2.