Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gimme Back My Bullets

You see, even when this column doesn’t make it to
print in The Batesville Guard, I still publish it on my
blog (, and occasionally on And when I e-mail it out to
the editors, there’s a massive “cc” to a worldwide
cabal of very important people, called my “Focus Group”.
Some of these are of the conservative persuasion, and,
since they haven’t asked me to stop, I include them
just to get back at the voices in my head, and on the radio.
Mostly on the radio. So I get a degree of feedback.
And what that feedback is telling me is that I was just too
… abrasive with the last column, and that’s why it didn’t make it to the paper.

At first, I just thought that, with so many talented writers at The Guard, including some very good new ones, they simply didn’t have room for it. But then, the e-mails and Facebook comments started coming in, and I realized that, maybe, I had gone over the line in my criticism of “conservatives”, indicating that they were all pretty much like that Rush Limbaugh. And then I read about Batesville’s own little cabal down at the Chamber of Commerce. Who knew?

Now, I realize that the newspaper is a business and they, unlike myself, cannot afford to publish my left-wing hippie ramblings just to piss (newspaper euphemism replaced) people off for the sake of perpetuating a conversation that many people would just as soon had never been started. And I know that not everybody is a news and political junkie like I am. But, dammit , I don’t start this stuff, I just respond in print to the bullshit I force myself to listen to. At least it keeps me from climbing up on my roof and shouting it all over northwest Arkansas with a bullhorn. I once knew a guy who got arrested for that.

Maybe I picked the wrong medium and the wrong political affiliation. I mean, you occasionally hear people arguing points with the conservative talking heads, when they can get a word in edgewise, but you hardly ever hear anybody chastising them for being unfair, or too mean. Isn’t that what they’re there for? I thought I was supposed to be expressing my own opinions here. And truth is that I have a very low opinion of some people and some platforms. That doesn’t make my opinion right. But it does make it mine. That’s why they call them “opinions”. I’m just an old writer with a keyboard in my smoky office at home – a radio behind me, and a 13” TV up on the shelf next to my framed John Lennon “New York City” poster, with CNN on all day and all night. Usually with my white cat sitting up here on the desk beside my keyboard, like a Barn Owl. It’s not like I’m in charge of, I don’t know, the Chamber of Commerce or something.

But still, I fully understand that it isn’t my paper and I don’t have any say-so about what goes in it, or when. I’m just thinking “How ‘bout a little something, you know, for the effort?”. Like maybe a short statement: “Rick Baber’s column will not be published this week because he was too mean.”

Then, at least, those of ya’ll that want to read it because you agree – as well as those who want to scold me for being such a jerk – can come on over to my blog and tell me what an outstanding job I’m doing balancing the radical radio right. Or, you can tell me where to go.

I don’t care which. I’m an insecure liberal who craves the attention.

Sure, I could mellow out and watch Wheel of Fortune & Oprah, and listen to the same old songs over & over on the classic rock radio station, and tell you cute stories about my cats. But, ultimately, I would get to the parts about the cats being radical liberals and then go on to tell you that my granddog is not only liberal, but also black, and we’d be back to square one, wouldn’t we?

Can’t help it, I guess. I tried the peace & love can’t-we-all-get-along thing for a while, but it just didn’t work for me.

So, to those of you I continue to anger with my rants, let me say that I know I should apologize. And to my editors, let me say “Thank you for the times you have allowed me to express my opinions in your fine newspaper, knowing you’re going to catch it from some of your readers.”

To the Batesville Chamber of Commerce: “Dudes!”


© 2009, Rick Baber

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Somebody tell them they lost

Isn’t it strange how long it takes to create anything
compared to the time it takes to destroy it? You can
take a lifetime building a home, for example, and come
back from a weekend at grandma’s to find it all reduced
to a pile of ashes. Just like that.

One of the very few things you can be sure of in this
world is that everything comes to an end. Everything.

Now, it appears that all of the economic prosperity the
good ol’ US of A built up during those eight wonderful
Bush years has, in a period of under two months, been destroyed by that evil Barack Obama. I mean, that’s the way it sounds, listening to the Republican’s talk. They’re not arguing that everything wrong with this country is his fault – just the stuff that wasn’t screwed up by Bill Clinton and, before him, Jimmy Carter. Apparently, the economy was plumb rosy before November ’08, but now it’s swirling around, counter-clockwise in the bowl under the porcelain throne.

Big Business is blowing gaskets, laying people off, slashing wages, closing facilities. Wall Street looks more like downtown Saigon in the days of the evacuation. Sean Hannity, self-appointed leader of the “conservative underground”, is preaching the end. Woah is us.

Saturday, Rush Limbaugh spoke to nine thousand rabid “conservatives” at the “Conservative Political Action Conference”. That one speech alone will have a profound influence on repairing the broken economy, because, most likely, all of those people will have to undergo knee surgery from jumping to their feet, screaming & clapping, every time their guru made some nasty insulting remark about liberals, in general – or about the “liberal media”, which the Bloated One refers to as the “drive-by media”. That should generate a lot of money for doctors & hospitals.

The top dog in that drive-by media, CNN, carried the hour and twenty minute speech live, without commercial interruption. How one-sided of them.

Anybody, such as myself, who put themselves through the torturous ordeal of watching the entire spectacle (I had my wife tie me to a chair, facing the TV, and tape my eyelids open) can take away from it that the reason the conservatives lost the presidential election was that they have not behaved “conservatively” enough. That might be an astounding revelation to some, but I spend a lot of time listening to this guy on the radio, so I already knew that.

Limbaugh defended and re-asserted this hope that President Obama “fails”. That, you see, is how conservatives show their patriotism – declaring (in a time of war!) that they want the president of the United States of America to fail. So, the president’s attempts to straighten out this terrible economic mess (the one he single-handedly created since January 20) needs to crash & burn. More businesses can shut down. More people can lose their jobs and their homes. Maybe some of them can even starve to death. Wouldn’t that be swell? After all, people deserve to suffer for allowing this country to elect somebody who doesn’t agree with Limbaugh and the rabid Neocons. That’ll show us, by golly.

It is more than a hope, however. They know that Obama’s stimulus package won’t work. Somehow, they have been imparted with this knowledge, either by their Creator, or by His representatives here on Earth – Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter - the Republican Trinity. The answer, they proclaim, is to do exactly what GWB did during his terms….only more. Those of us who were under the false impression that Bush’s policies are what brought us to this edge of depression, were blindly led here by the media. Everything was fine all along, until now. What fools we were to believe what we read in the papers and saw on TV; what we saw with our own eyes and felt in our own stomachs. There is no truth other than what is preached on talk radio. Obviously. Even CNN must have come to that realization just prior to airing that loveable little fuzzball’s sermon to the choir. Conservatives are the chosen ones. The master race. They will prevail!

Makes sense. Most of the individuals who control big business are, by definition, conservatives. If you’re the top dawg, raking in all the money, why would you want anything to change? If you’re the top dawg, you have some control over that. You can lay off people, cut wages, and shut down facilities to help bring about an expeditious end to this foolishness and get somebody back in office who’ll look out for the big guy. Big guys need friends too. Even if your business isn’t hurting, it is your duty as a fat cat to help out your fat cat brethren. Do this now, for the cause, and you will be rewarded when things return to “normal”. Rush said he just wanted it to be like it was when he was a kid. You know, back when black folk weren’t allowed to vote.

Sorry about the mixed animal metaphors. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better.

Liberals have many enemies: hunger, homelessness, despair, inequality, ignorance and greed, to name a few. Conservatives have but one: liberals. So who has the easier fight ahead of them?

(c) 2009, Rick Baber