Al Weisel, widely known in the blogosphere as Jon Swift, was the best satirist this side of . . . well, Jonathan Swift. Sadly and unexpectedly, Al left this mortal coil in 2009. Only the good die young, as they say, and he was a mere 46.
Al was a tireless supporter of small blogs like Kiko's House and I was honored innumerable times to have him link to my posts, usually so he could skewer someone with a faux conservative wit so sharp that some of his victims didn't even know that they were being filleted. What that he had lived to see the coming of Donald Trump.
My thoughts invariably turn to Jon during this summing-up time of the year, and the keepers of his flame have again included my deathless prose in their annual blog roundup.
Here are some excerpts from my Jon Swiftian favorites, which have a timeless quality as befits great commentary:
Why isn't anyone reporting on the War on Hanukkah (or Hannukah or Chanukkah -- I never really was sure how to spell it)? Recently, I went to see my town's Hannukah Bush and was outraged that they were calling it a "Holiday Tree." It's not a "Holiday Tree" it's a "Hanukah Bush" (or Chanukah Bush - not sure which) Unfortunately, the forces of political correctness and inclusion are bending over backwards not to offend Gentiles. This country was founded on the values of the Torah and its sequel. Then I was shocked to see pictures of President Bush lighting a Menorah (is that how it's spelled?) on December 6! Hanukkah doesn't begin until December 25. . . . Is he taking the day off on December 25 or something? I think we are owed an explanation. (12/17/05)
Can someone please explain to me what Jack Abramoff is guilty of? Abramoff donated money to polictical campaigns and lobbied members of Congress on behalf of his clients. What's wrong with that? The only thing Jack Abramoff is guilty of is practicing democracy and if what he did is against the law, then millions of Americans who donate money to political campaigns are in danger. In fact, the prosecution of Jack Abramoff is clearly unconstitutional and represents another sad example of the criminalization of politics. (1/5/06)
Is bipartisanship really such a great thing? Aren't bipartisans a little like bisexuals--people afraid to make a commitment? I suppose it's better than President Clinton's "triangulation," which I believe is a translation of the French word menage a trois. Maybe such things work in France, but I don't think they work here. During the Clinton and Reagan administrations we had divided government, which I think was very confusing for people. Lobbyists had no idea who to give campaign contributions to and they sometimes had to split their limited resources between two parties. (1/31/06)
But while [President Bush] has been making great strides in shoring up democracy at home, it appears that in Iraq we are installing the wrong kind of democracy. The new Iraqi Constitution sets up just the kind of weak "liberal" democracy that the President has been making efforts to reverse in this country, with all of its bothersome checks and balances on presidential power. The result of dispersing too much power and equality to the people could lead to an unstable government that would precipitate a Civil War in Iraq. (5/4/06)
It seems that any effort we make to appease critics of Guantanamo have only backfired anyway. Some of the men who were released have begun to wage a PR campaign against the United States, another insidious kind of asymmetric warfare. One of the men we released is now claiming that he was tortured at the prison, which, of course, the Bush Administration has repeatedly said in no uncertain terms that we don't do, although if we wanted to torture, we wouldn't be subject to the laws of the Geneva Convention (a treaty some other administration signed anyway) because these detainees aren't lawful combatants, so theoretically we could if we wanted to, but we don't because it is against our principles except in certain circumstances. In the end, however, we may discover that the only way to save the principles that make our country great will be to sacrifice them. (6/12/06)
Once someone has died, it's a lot more difficult to attack them without people thinking you are being unseemly. While it was very courageous of [William] Bennett to do so anyway, his words have opened him up to a torrent of criticism, the kind of criticism that [Gerald] Ford avoided by dying. Bennett realizes that it would have made him look a lot better if he had picked on a 93-year-old man while he was still alive instead of the day after he died, but Bennett cares more about this country than he does about what people think of him personally. It's too bad that Ford was not as brave as Bennett is. (1/3/07)
Keeping the minimum wage at the inflated rate of $5.15 an hour for a decade has been a terrible drag on our economy. The number of millionaires in the United States, for example, grew only 11% from 2004 to 2005, to 8.9 million. It now takes an entire day for a CEO to earn what the average worker earns in a year. . . .Compared with most countries in the world the U.S. minimum wage is extremely high. Of course, there are some worker-coddling welfare states that have higher minimum wages. In France, Great Britain and Australia, the minimum wage is more that $10 an hour. But when compared with countries like Botswana, Latvia and Papua New Guinea, we are significantly overpaying our workers. (1/30/07)
Last week millions of nervous Americans gathered around their televisions to see if Sanjaya Malakar, the 17-year-old Indian-American contestant with the face of an angel and the voice of . . . something else, would finally be kicked off of American Idol. But once again Sanjaya defied all expectations and common sense and survived another round in the contest that defines this country as much as Nascar, the Superbowl, presidential elections and monster trucks. It is finally time to acknowledge that the inexplicable and frightening Sanjaya juggernaut has reached crisis proportions and something must be done about it before it is too late. (3/24/07)
I don't care if Alec Baldwin's daughter is 11 years old or 12 years old or however old she is, she is a disgrace and her treatment of her father is beyond the pale. . . . Apparently this "rude, thoughtless little pig," as
Baldwincalled her, who doesn't "have the brains or the decency as a human being," either doesn't know or doesn't care how her inconsiderate actions affect her father. While not answering the telephone when your father calls may seem trivial, even the smallest of cruelties can be very hurtful to a parent. Fathers are extremely vulnerable and children should be very careful about what they say and do to them. Above all fathers need to know that their children love them. What Alec Baldwin's daughter did to him is the kind of thing that could emotionally scar him for life. (4/22/07)
Robert De Niro's endorsement of Obama would not be problematic if he had only made films like The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. But how does Obama explain Meet the Fockers? Or Showtime? Or The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle? Has Obama distanced himself from those terrible films? By accepting De Niro's endorsement does he in turn endorse the practice of aging actors' mugging for the camera and becoming little more than parodies of their former selves? Is he also soliciting the endorsement of Al Pacino? (2/28/08)
Conservatives have always hated McCain for his support of immigration reform, campaign finance reform and moderate judges, and his opposition to torture and the Bush tax cuts, until he changed his mind and kicked his principles under the Straight Talk Express, though not soon enough for most of us. But after he picked Sarah Palin, conservatives took another look at McCain. That was when we noticed that McCain is really, really old and sometimes he doesn’t look all that well (wink!). And then it dawned on us: McCain will probably die in office! We may not be all that happy with McCain, but we are practically giddy at the prospect that he won't last that long. He could even keel over right after the Inauguration. (11/2/08)
Thanksgiving celebrates the day that Pilgrims and Indians sat down to eat together before the gay secularist Indians divided this country and tried to foist their atheism and savage decadent culture on the God-fearing pilgrims. The pilgrims were rightly appalled by Native American culture where transgendered "two-spirit" people or "berdache" were accepted as normal members of the tribe. . . . The pilgrims did not care what Indians did in the privacy of their own teepees, but they did not want their children exposed to this immorality. So the pilgrims were forced to defend themselves, just as Proposition 8 supporters, under assault from gay activists, must defend themselves now. (11/27/08)
Conservatives must face reality the way Bush and Reagan did and realize that the only way to preserve our ideals may be to sacrifice them for a time and reluctantly accept government checks. Once we have gotten back on our feet again, then we can go back to doing what we do best: condemning lazy welfare queens and berating the poor for not raising themselves by their own bootstraps. (12/4/08)
It's different when unmarried teenage mothers come from conservative, wealthy Christian families. Although it would be preferable if her child had a father, even a white trash one, [Bristol Palin] will still be able to raise her child with the kinds of values that liberals, poor people, gays and non-Christians would not be able to give to their little bastard children who are destined to become our future criminals. Why are conservatives so reluctant to point out this obvious fact? (1/12/09)
While Obama seems like a nice young man, kind of like a young Sidney Poitier, is handsome and polite, seems well educated and articulate, and even brought Republicans candy and flowers, [Rush] Limbaugh was not fooled for a minute. If Obama succeeds, who knows what kind of man America's daughters will bring home to dinner next? Since Obama is trying to seduce Americans by giving them hope, Limbaugh knows that we Republicans must have our own message of optimism and hope. (1/30/09)