(Push Pin Wisdom is an occasional series which offers, without comment, things others have said or written which I found informative, amusing or thought-provoking, maybe all three.)
I have tried for much of my life to write as if I was composing my sentences to be read posthumously.
Those following me (the few, the brave, the ones with too much free time) have surely noticed that on Facebook and especially on Twitter, a lot of duplicate posts most from links to one of my blogs. I am working on rectifying that, hence this and maybe more test messages. What the hell, they are just about as interesting as the other stuff I write, am I correct? So bear with me…
The mind boggles…
Amidst that stash of ancient writings of mine that I uncovered recently was this post I put up in some forum or other (I may or may not have written about this in print as well, for a biweekly column I was writing). The formatting crap and other stuff I had to strip from this brief piece was mind-boggling. The “contact info” at the bottom will give you a clue.
Sherman Skolnick, I discovered within the hour using that new-fangled Google thing, died in 2006 at age t9; he was paralyzed by polio at age six and in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Among other things, he was a 9-11 “truther” and believed that the Pope was using the Jesuit Order to control human events. You can see what he thoughts of the Clintons in the piece below.
A point I meant to make in that introduction to this ongoing series which is linked above but did not is that The Crazy has always been with us. Not as mainstream and working in the shadows, but the genesis of what appears to be a nation, or a significantly portion of its populace, going mad has been with us since Saint Ronnie served as a frontman for a bunch of California millionaires.
I’m not quite sure exactly where or when I stumbled upon Conspiracy Nation, Possibly when I went wandering the Web in the wake of Oklahoma City, visiting all the sites frequented by the militia maniacs and other paranoids. Or it could have been from one of the posts offered up in various CompuServe forums with mind-numbing frequency by a nutcase who signs off each message with a huge drawing of what he purports to be an American Eagle. Whatever. I found it.
Conspiracy Nation s an electronic newsletter out of Chicago with daily, and sometimes more frequent, editions. A guy named Francis Brian Redman is listed as editor-in-chief and posts the messages, generally with this caveat: “I neither necessarily agree nor disagree with either all or parts of the following.” In essence, this seems to be primarily an outlet for the often outrageous “information” gathered by one Sherman H. Skolnick, who is described thusly: “Since 1963, Mr. Skolnick has been founder /chairman, Citizens’ Committee to Clean Up the Courts, investigating judicial bribery and political murders.
Skolnick, who also “investigated” Watergate and the JFK Assassination, has a public access television show in Chicago where he advances his theories.
I can’t tell you much more than that about the folks behind this operation. When I decided a week or two ago that I would write about it here, I sent a message to Redman requesting an interview. Unfortunately, I did so in the worst possible fashion: posing several questions up front that I’d want to ask. Dumb. It was certainly not an approach likely to receive a favorable hearing from someone in the paranoia profession (or anyone, for that matter).
In any case, this was Redman’s reply (which also included what I thought were evasive dismissals of the questions I’d proposed): “Seriously, as you have shown yourself to be incredibly biased, do you really think I would bother doing an interview with you?”
I tried to get around that in my response: “As someone once said, ‘I neither necessarily agree nor disagree with either all or parts’ of the implications in my questions. And if each of us only does interviews and has discussions with people with whom we already agree, there won’t be much chance for new ideas developing, information being expanded or the possibility of new insights, will there?” But I had blown it. Redman’s final posting: “Given that there are many alleged ‘journalists’ out there who do ‘ hatchet jobs’ on their poor victims, and given that you have introduced yourself to me as being unreasonably biased to begin with, I think it reasonable that I decline to be interviewed by you. Please cease communicating with me on this matter; I already ave a huge volume of mail to go through. Thank you for your consideration.”
Hatchet job? Hardly necessary when dealing with card-carrying members of the “Vincent Foster was a spy and murdered,” “Bill and Hillary work for the CIA” crowd. Consider these recent Skolnik postings:
“I’m very disturbed that the ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ of this country — that is, the President, the First Lady — are involved in some *horrendous* criminality and that the First Lady, apparently, prior to the time she was in the White House, was involved in some horrendous, apparent treason, with the one that is now dead (which some people felt was murder) — that is, Vincent Foster, Jr.”
“One White House reporter, I believe, has already sent out a bulletin to the radio stations that she’s a correspondent for, and has made the statement that Democrats have told Clinton he must resign by July 29th….<[>and two days later] Late breaking: reliable sources inform Mr. Skolnick that Democrat leaders have talked to Clinton and demanded that Clinton resign by July 29. These same sources say that Clinton *will* resign.””
“Bill Clinton, as Arkansas Governor, was part of CIA’s gun and dope smuggling through the airport at Mena. Some of his campaigns for Governor were financed by Atlantic Research, a Virginia-based reputed arms supplier and CIA contractor. With the proceeds of the dope and arms smuggling, Bill has a secret interest in a tens of millions of dollars Swiss account, code named Chelsea Jefferson — Chelsea being his daughter’s first name and Jefferson his middle name.”
Understand, this stuff is tame compared to what’s driving the real loonies out there. But if you want a peek into the dark shadows on the edge of rational political thought in the belief that the best defense against creeping idiocy is foreknowledge or, come to think of it, if you’re an incipient loony yourself, you can get Conspiracy Nation emailed right to your desktop (better than a plain brown wrapper) by sending the message “subscribe conspire My Name” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t tell them I sent you. Don’t tell anybody I sent you.
Jack Curtin can be reached at “email@example.com,” on the Internet, “72437,506” on CompuServe
and “jayjacey” on America Online.
I have returned the sub-heading to the logo above which I removed because I have no idea why but I am sure I had a reason. Which is to say, I Have Returned. Because I have had rather significant jumps in visitors at the Liquid Diet site with a series of “nostalgia” columns from the good old days when blogs were where the action was and because I just rediscovered a cache of columns and articles I wrote for a weekly alternative weekly called the Main Line Welcomat back in the ’90s (it was later combined with its parent publication, the Philadelphia Welcomat and renamed Philadelphia Weekly, which actually makes sense) and because I figured I could try the same revamp here and why not?
This is yet one more one last attempt to keep this site alive., something I owe the believers who kept on believing (looking at you, PGW) and we shall see how it goes. This column ran, as best I can determine, in late Spring 1995, six or eight weeks before the new Philadelphia Weekly cover featured story “Homeboy Brews” which launched my beer-writing career. More will follow. I will promote via Facebook and Twitter as before and add Google+; if you are one of the few, the faithful, tell your friends, send them here, dream the dream. Also, comments would be great. I assume there are several references in the below, and others to come, which might inspire a “Say What?” or outraged “WTF?”
And we are off…
An Alphabet for Our Times
By Jack Curtin
A is for Alfonse, as in D’Amato. The good Senator, who makes Phil Gramm seem warm and cuddly by comparison, was recently hospitalized with chest pains he thought might have been caused by a heart attack. Gee, that would be something a lot like the phantom pain amputees reportedly feel in missing limbs, right?
B is for Baseball, which claims it is Back, but why would anybody care?
C is for Contract, which used to mean an enforceable agreement between two or more parties or, depending upon your station in life, either the controlling bid in a hand of Bridge or an assignment to murder someone. Today, thanks to the machinations of Mr. Newt and his Fabulous Freshmen, it’s just another synonym for….
D, which is for Duplicitous, Deceitful and just plain Dumb.
E is for Eddie, as is Fast, as in Rendell, the Mayor who keeps coming up smelling like roses. The SEPTA strike was a mere bump on the road for a guy who might well be destined for the Big Chair in Harrisburg sooner than you think.
F is for Flyers, who have given Philadelphia sports fans the first glimmer of real hope in some time. By winning the Stanley Cup in the mid-’70s, the Broad Street Bullies changed a whole city’s attitude and initiated a decade-long period of athletic excellence. Can they do it again?
G is for G-String, which Judge Bernie Avellino finally agreed ought to be employed by local ecdysiasts. I knew that Villanova education would serve him well one of these days.
H is for Hillary, who actually thought the rest of the nation was as advanced as Arkansas and could accept a strong woman in a prominent role. Now she’s learning to love those cookie baking sessions, elephant rides and other acceptable First Lady-like activities. Which leads us very neatly to…
I, which is for Intelligence, a passing fad that this great nation has put behind it on its way to the 21st Century. Don’t need us no deep thought when we got mindless slogans and endless scapegoats, nosiree.
J is for Journalism, which used to be about reporting and interpreting the news, but now seems to be the province of pompous ideologues who don’t even bother to pretend to be objective.
K is for Kismet, which means fate, prompting the scary thought that we might be getting exactly what we deserve.
L is for Liberal Media Elite, those folks who are supposed to have control of all the media but who don’t seem able to influence anybody to do anything. Are you now or have you ever been a card-carrying member of the ACLU? ‘Fess up now and avoid the rush. Or is that Rush?
M is for Middle of the Road, which is thought to be a good place to be politically but which is also a good place to get run over by traffic from both directions.
N is for North, Ollie, whose new syndicated radio screed has been picked up by a local station which specializes in religious programming. I know a lot of people think he’s God, but this is ridiculous.
O is for the O.J. Jury. Remember when we were all wondering where they were ever gonna find enough clueless folks to try this case in front of? Forrest Gump lives.
P is for Pandering. See the Bob Dole for President Campaign, in which a 71-year old U.S. Senator turns his back on just about everything he’s stood for in a long and reasonably distinguished career in order to try to impress the loonies who have taken over his Party.
Q is for Quayle, and don’t you just miss him terribly?
R is for Reality. It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
S is for Senators, Specter and Santorum, to be specific. One is running for President on the Single Vote Theory, the other appears to be a Newt minus the charm. How did we get so lucky?
T is for Term Limits, a truly bad idea being advocated primarily by folks who have no intention of ever allowing it to apply to them. Then again, if you look up there under S, you might think it has some merit after all.
U is for UCLA, which finally won the Big One again.
V is for Villanova, which didn’t.
W is for Welcomat, which we won’t be much longer. Big changes are coming May 24. I figure I should save a good five hours a week not having to explain to out-of-towners that we are too a serious publication.
X is for Xenophobia, which is all the rage in California and which Pete Wilson hopes will propel him into the Presidency.
Y is for Yesterday, that wonderful golden era to which we are hell-bent on returning, even if it never really did exist.
Z is for Zenith, which is what this column has reached. Isn’t it nice when things work out?