Flashback

I’m sick. I seem to have caught my annual cold early this year; fever, sinus headache, sore throat, body aches… and the dreaded cough. If things go the way they have for the last few years, all the symptoms except the cough will be gone in a week or so. The cough will linger, coming and going until the humidity returns in the Spring.

I’ve taken the last two days off work, trying to get past the worst of it, but not having much luck. Just laying around, drinking fluids, and not the good kind. My head hurts too much for serious reading, so I was looking for something light, when I remembered I had acquired an old, yellowed copy of a freebie tabloid last week while cleaning out the cubicle of a recent retiree.

My former co-worker — I’ll call him Mike — is a hoarder, incapable of throwing anything away. He once told me he could fill a large dumpster with just the empty cardboard boxes in his house, boxes from every purchase he has made since he lived there. Mike never actually rented that dumpster, though. He knew he wouldn’t have been able to put the boxes in it. For the last month he worked with me, I kept pinging on him to start clearing out his desk, but he never touched it, and on his last day, he just got up and left. It took me the better part of three days to go through basically every piece of paper that ever crossed Mike’s desk in the 12 years or so he worked there. I recycled, shredded and tossed hundreds of pounds of paper, ultimately saving a stack maybe 2 inches thick. (I’m not judging here. I’ve got a little hoarder in me as well, not for paperwork, though, but tools and hardware. You know, useful stuff.)

Anyway, getting back to the subject of this post, that’s how I came to be in possession of The Weirs Times And Tourist Gazette from Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, dated Thursday, April 24, 2003. How it came to be under a quarter ton of rubbish in a hoarder’s desk in Misery is a mystery I won’t bother to pursue. I kept it because that’s an area of the country I would really like to explore on a motorcycle trip. Someday.

On first opening, The Weirs Times looks like any other complimentary tabloid you would find in a grocery store foyer; lots of advertising separated by local news and events. But then I got to page 8. The first thing I saw was a photo of Michelle Malkin’s hateful face. Then it got worse. The photo was above a column entitled Brainwashing Preschool Peaceniks, about the evils of teaching young children that war is bad and peace is good.

It was right about here that the date on the front of this “newspaper” clicked for me. On April 24th, 2003 we were more than a year into dubya’s War on Terra, and just over a month into our invasion of Iraq. The right-wing noise machine was in full-throated primal howl, shouting down any naysayers and differing opinions, convinced they were about to remake the Middle East into a capitalist, democratic paradise. (And they were right, too. Why, just a week later, dubya flew onto an aircraft carrier and declared “mission accomplished” and an end to major combat operations. All the troops came home, and Iraq was all peace and harmony until that blackity-black Kenyan muslim socialist got elected. No, wait…)

Further reading of my 11-year-old copy of The Weirs Times reveals it for the libertarian propaganda rag it is. On the same page as Malkin’s screeching is an article about the ideological reconstruction of Iraq, written by someone from the Ayn Rand Institute. The next page has a long, union-bashing editorial entitled America’s Public Schools After 20 Years of NEA Dominance. One page later, an editorial by Thomas Sowell fellating the troops and slamming college professors and the “intelligentsia” for being against the war. Same page, David Limbaugh praising then Secretary of Education Rod Paige for wanting to teach Christian values in public schools.

Wow. These people really have a hard-on for our educational system. If we were to institute the ideas espoused in just those three pages, we would have preschool and college teaching about the glories of war and Amurkin dominance, and all the grades in between learning about jeebus and the invisible cloud-daddy from teachers earning minimum wage. Sounds like libertarian utopia to me.

I had to stop reading when I got to page 12, an editorial entitled A Dispatch From The Front by Oliver North. That would be the Oliver North who sold arms to a sworn enemy of the United States, and then used the proceeds of those sales to fund mass-murderers in Nicaragua trying to overthrow a democratically elected government. The traitor Oliver North. Fuck him.

So instead of learning a little about the northeast from this old paper, I got a glimpse back at the early days of the extremely ugly political times we are still enduring. I was going to put this thing in the bottom of my parrot’s cage, but she already has a bit of an attitude problem. I could put it in the recycle bin, but what if it somehow falls into the hands of the neighborhood kids? I think I have to burn it.

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