Wednesday, February 29, 2012

But the Stars Still Dance for Those Idle Americans

By Dan Hagen
In a realistic America, sane lawmakers would take a budget ax to the multi-trillion-dollar no-bid, no-performance boondoggle of the military-industrial complex while ending the unconscionable Bush-Chene y tax cuts for billionaires.
But reality isn't reality. Only right-wing propaganda is reality. Right-wingers and the military-industrial complex think there's no problem that cannot be disguised with the correctly worded lie. Marketing has long since replaced journalism, and consumers have replaced citizens.
It's not a republic any longer, and it hasn't been one for at least a decade. It's an overpriced national strip mall with a lot of shoddy Third World goods on sale, patrolled by a bunch of police-state mall cops who are so busy examining your genitals that they haven't managed to notice that the whole place is on fire.
But the Pentagon has put out a press release saying it isn't. And oh say you can still see the icy blonde chatter-he ads of Fox News pleasure themselves with the flag daily. And the Stars still Dance for idle Americans, so everything must be okay, right?

Our Miss Brooks: Propaganda's Preening Popinjay

By Dan Hagen
David Brooks is what passes for an “intellectual” in the modern Republican Party — mind pickled in the conventional party line, phraseology well-practiced in pettifoggery, lips curled in a perpetual sneer at the downtrodden and permanently chapped from being clamped tight to George W. Bush’s bottom for a full decade.
Despite his moderate, even-handed tone, Brooks is always fundamentally dishonest, because the party man is of necessity a liar.
Hey, Brooks, tell us again how we simply MUST invade Iraq in order to save this nation from those awful, terrible, really bad, nonexistent Weapons of Mass Destruction, won't you? You're always peddling some ugly, plutocratic, warmongering fantasy for your corporate masters with a smoke-screen sniff of superiority, aren't you?
Illustration by Jim Hampton
Silly me. I always think it's wrong to get a million innocent people killed in a war you gin up based on lies. I guess I don't understand the sophisticated moral principle that lets you slaughter as many innocent people as you like, and then get the corporate media shills like David Brooks to cover it all up for you.
Brooks' little pseudo-profound, phony-baloney literary smoke screens for Republican ruthlessness demonstrate what might be called The Limits of Bullshit. He is GOP propaganda’s preening popinjay.
So why is he published? We have plenty of wise, courageous thinkers out there, but sadly, the corporate media doesn't care for them at all. The corporate media likes David Brooks, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin. The corporate media prefers intellectual whores and vicious morons — combined, whenever possible.
Empty, ugly, rabble-rousing symbols and bumper-sticker philosophies surround Republicans so thickly that the light of reality almost never reaches them anymore. Their party is America’s glaring national black hole, and their major problem is preventing the public at large from figuring that out. Brooks exists to provide them with intellectual cover.
I swear, I think these Republicans could skywrite "Fascism Forever!" in the American sky, and people would still refuse to see it. Brooks would write a pseudo-erudite column in the New York Times about how our eyes play tricks on us.
Brooks’ carefully cultivated selective blindness is so very useful to the billionaires he serves. You've got to love the way Republicans condemn ordinary Americans for wanting to secure decent wages, health care and retirement benefits through union representation or a social safety net, but see no problem with corporate crooks grabbing hundreds of billions through “deregulated” financial manipulations that ruin the national economy and benefit no one but the CEOs' Swiss bank accounts.
Sure, Brooks’ Wall Street masters may have wrecked the entire world economy with fraud, but that’s merely a cue for Brooks to suddenly turn “thoughtfully non-materialistic.” Let’s not overlook just how character-building it is for people to be without decent wages, jobs, retirement and health care. Up, up, up by those bootstraps, people.
The commoners whose union jobs have been killed by Republicans really ought to thank the billionaires and their handmaidens in the GOP for diverting America's wealth overseas and giving them this great opportunity at self-improvement from the ground up, don’t you think?
Union wages and benefits. What a filthy, socialist waste of those nice tax dollars that rich people could be rubbing on their genitals.
“Yes, isn't it JUST AWFUL, all that money these socialists waste on old people? They're all worn out, and the corporations can't even use them to sweep up any more, so they're just worth NOTHING, economically. Pass me the canapés, would you, dear? And DO try the Montrachet 1978 from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. One of my dear little lobbyists gets it for me by the case. Would you like a glass, darling? Oh, Brooks. Brooks!!! Bring the tray over here, please.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Victim Without a Cause

By Dan Hagen
I know an older, comfortably retired white man with a big fishing boat, a large house, two cars and an expensive RV who is constantly complaining how poor black people and these uppity women like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have cheated him out of something or other that he can't quite specify.

So Proudly They Hail the Flag of Flapdoodle

Yes, Mitt Romney actually said that. If you can imagine.
By Dan Hagen
The Republicans need to find someone fluent in flapdoodle. You know, mosques. Flag pins. Freedom fries.
The right keeps the country stirred up about things that are symbolic but meaningless in real-world terms — flags, gay marriage, public religious displays, “support the troops” magnets, etc. They are all matters of semantics, useful for keeping the American public distracted from the police-state erosions of its liberty and the corporate picking of its pockets.
Flapdoodle like “drug-test all the parasite welfare recipients!” Florida Gov. Rick Scott spent $178 million of the taxpayers’ money in order to prove that 98 percent of welfare recipients DON’T use drugs. He intended to prove the opposite, but — being a Tea Partier — he is, of course, always wrong.
Republicans worship only money and actively loathe people who do not possess it — including, ironically, themselves. The Republicans fear a society in which money might not trump and crush all legal rights and social privileges.
Flapdoodle like “austerity.” When George W. Bush was president, the GOP leaders voted seven times to increase the national debt ceiling. At the beginning of Bush's term, the U.S. debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Bush promised he would pay off the debt in 10 years, but, by spending and borrowing like a proverbial drunken sailor while massively cutting revenue, he increased the debt to $9.815 trillion. John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell all cheerfully helped him do it.
Remember, there wasn't a “national debt crisis” at all a few months ago, when all Republicans and many complicit Democrats decided to throw away vast amounts of revenue in perpetuity by extending Bush's obscene income tax cuts for billionaires.
Flapdoodle that feeds the Tea Partiers’ foolish fantasies that they're all about to be reborn as those billionaires, their Second Amendment fever dreams about how shooting lots of people would banish their fears of weakness, and their panic at the idea that they might someday learn something that their grandmother didn't know, with their anxiety disguised as anger at anyone who would DARE to be unlike them.
Flapdoodle like promising to fix the economy by firing teachers and police officers, invading more countries and diverting yet more billions to the Cayman Islands accounts of Wall Street bankers. I ask you, what could possibly go wrong with a plan like that?
Flapdoodle like pretending to believe that Wall Street billionaires who got rich through derivative fraud are entitled to every penny they stole, but ordinary Americans who paid into Social Security their whole working lives are entitled to little or nothing. Yes, Republicans are strange birds indeed. Apparently some variety of vulture.
Flapdoodle like pretending to believe in the “free market.” Wall Street bankers and corporate CEOs do not really regard themselves as “free market” risk takers. All that’s just PR BS to feed the fools.
They regard themselves, accurately, as the ruling class. They crashed the world economy with derivative fraud, got the politicians they puppeteer to bail them out, and were doubly rewarded instead of imprisoned for their crimes.
All those billions in bailouts, bonuses and boondoggle legal monopolies are the tribute paid to them by American citizens, whom they regard, accurately, as their bootlicking serfs, to be fired, fleeced, forced into poverty and forgotten however they see fit.
Those plain facts unpalatable to the public? Then fire up the flapdoodle, folks.
Flapdoodle like charges of “elitism.” Of course I'm an elitist. I've worked and studied throughout my life for my academic degree, for my career, for my awards, for my library, for my philosophy and for such understanding of human nature as I have.
What I DON’T require is to be told by some lazy, loudmouth ignoramus who was frightened in childhood by a book that his whim-driven, knee-jerk “common sense” is superior to the vast, painfully acquired sum total of human cultural knowledge and science.
“Common sense” informed people that the world was flat. “Common sense.” That's the American euphemism for “thundering ignorance.” When you have surgery, make sure it's not performed by some physician with all that fancy book-larnin'. Just grab a beer buddy, give him a knife and tell him to use his common sense.
Flapdoodle like “The mess in Washington!,” “More bang for the buck!” Those are among the empty slogans screenwriter Budd Schulberg suggested could be used to easily fool ignorant Americans into voting for people who intended to harm them.
In 1957.
You see, self-destructive, willful ignorance is a venerable American tradition. In America, fact-free, flag-waving, cross-swinging, education-hating, xenophobic fatuousness is always the first refuge of a scoundrel, and of the fools who follow him — or, in Palin's and Bachmann's case, her.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Never-Ending Battle

By Dan Hagen
"Hero" is not an occupation, like "plumber." ‎"Hero" or "villain" or "monster" are simplistic views that others have of someone based on his or her relationship to that person — did he save them, is he admirable, has he threatened them. etc? 
Your own view of yourself is always more complex than that. A person needs to understand himself realistically, and nurture the habits that permit him to build the kind of personal character he can respect.
We all have our individual adventures, our team-up adventures, our recurring adversaries, our love interests, our cliffhanger moments and certain aspects of our identities that we prefer not to reveal. 
And every so often, we just have to pick ourselves up and start all over again, when they reboot the continuity.


By Dan Hagen
We've got it rough, yes. So did lots of honest, decent, compassionate people throughout history. We can but fight on, or give up. I'm for fighting on with a smile, and assuming we'll get the breaks.
Our moments are numbered, yes, but then all moments are numbered. So why not make them count?

There is but one thing of real value — to cultivate truth and justice, and to live without anger in the midst of lying and unjust men.
— Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Breathe deeply. Fill the senses. Expand the awareness.
As Thoreau said, "Only that day dawns to which we are awake."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's Wrong with Fox News, Vol. III, Part 6,784

Fox News really aired this graphic
Well, this. This right here. No, this isn't Photoshopped. Fox News actually reported that the Lincoln-Douglas Debates were between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Of course, to be fair, it's extremely difficult for fascist propagandists to give a shit about facts, historic, scientific or otherwise.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Your Dog

We treat the bounding enthusiasm with which dogs greet us as silly, but at some level we're aware of its underlying existential truth. Every time we part from someone we care about, there's a chance we'll never see that person again. And the day will come when we do not. 
Dogs know that. We pretend not to.

By Any Other Name...

The company name change is the corporate equivalent of trying to burn off your fingerprints with acid. American corporations loathe individualism and responsibility, but love to sell the illusion of both.

Your word for today: Hypochristians

By Dan Hagen
Your word for today: Hypochristians.
They not only endorse the invasion, bombing and torture of foreign citizens who practice religions they regard as odd, in fact they rather relish the idea — just as long as its done in the name of the Prince of Peace, who appears to them on pancakes and pieces of toast. 
They are washed in the blood of the sheep.
They despise credulous cretins like scientists and professors who dare to suggest that Jonah might not have made his home in a fish's abdomen. 
They proudly announce that they follow the Bible literally, particularly those parts in which Jesus instructs them to hoard millions, hate others and despise the poor. 
And they find, happily, that what their God wants them to do always exactly coincides with what they were going to do anyway.
Like the last, unlamented guests at a party they have ruined by being obnoxious, they always claim they're about to leave, and never do.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Best Trick of the Ruling Class

By Dan Hagen

Remember that "class warfare" that the rich constantly assure us they are not waging against us in America? Can you hear the detonations now?
The ruling class's absolute best trick is to create the illusion of a "classless society."
Unpunished torture, unpunished trillion-dollar financial fraud, unpunished spying on ordinary citizens, unpunished election fraud, unpunished ocean-poisoning, unpunished war-making based on lies — the so-called "rule of law" is something that the ruling class has risen above. That's what it MEANS to be ruling class in 21st century America. Law and ethics are for the peasants, to keep them in line, out of the way and ripe for further exploitation.
And no, rich people don't “give” anybody jobs. What gives people jobs is consumer demand created by decent middle-class wages. What rich people do is ship the economically illiterate right wingers’ jobs overseas while they applaud.
Actually, Republicans LOVE class warfare. They just don’t like it when the middle class and the working class fight back.
And when the Republicans have succeeded in destroying the social safety net and all American unions, and reducing the American standard of living to third-world subsistence with no benefits, just who will drive America's "consumer economy?" No one. It will be dead, along with the great American middle class. And without a broad middle class, no democratic republic can survive. PERIOD. End of the American story.
Despotism has been the rule for most of human history. It was 20th century America — with its broad, comfortable, public-school educated and accessible middle class — that was the exception, not the rule. And we've let the despots kill it by permitting them to bamboozle the boobs.

"If we were herded like cattle, there was a certain rough poetry to that. Wall Street has never needed less from ordinary people to generate its wealth, which is why corporate profits are so high during a period of massive unemployment and a decaying middle class. But it still needs us a little. Our labors and debts are still the raw material that Wall Street slices, layers, bundles, and sells for its financial instruments. Our household finances are to Wall Street derivatives what cows are to hamburgers."
— RJ Eskow

Celebrating the Value of Intelligence

By Dan Hagen
I'd say the reviewers have it wrong on Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. Mary Maddox and I had a rollicking good time at this action-comedy. 
Robert Downey Jr. does for Sherlock Holmes what Johnny Depp did for Captain Blood. 
The best scenes are again between Holmes and Watson (as the Ambiguously Gay Duo of the 1890s) and Holmes and Moriarty (played with icy conviviality by Jared Harris — Lane Pryce of "Mad Men" — and an inspired choice). 
Nice to see at least one 21st century eye-candy film franchise that actually celebrates the value of intelligence, even if it's only comic-book super-intelligence. 
That's an increasingly rare thing, and the world is much the worse for it.

Whosoever Sees this Movie...

By Dan Hagen
Despite the misgivings of the critics, I found Thor as much fun as the brilliant Iron Man.
The Marvel Comics hero Thor was created by artist Jack Kirby
and writer Stan Lee in 1962, based on Norse mythology.
Kenneth Branagh and Chris Hemsworth have managed to make an impossibly noble character actually work dramatically, in part by contrasting him humorously to humans and in part by simple make-you-sigh empathy. 
Thor and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) have a Chris Reeve-Margot Kidder thing going, Anthony Hopkins has the right slightly sad gravitas for Odin the All-Father, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki is a wonderfully textured super villain, insidious and almost appealing. 
This is one of the few super hero stories in which the hero and the villain actually love each other, on some level, and that adds another dimension to to the tale. Hiddleston's is my favorite super villain portrayal, and I'm glad he's returning to battle The Avengers.
The climatic battle with the Destroyer does seem rushed, and Thor's pivotal heroic sacrifice seems pro forma rather than heartfelt, but the movie's pluses outweigh the minuses.
Whosoever sees this movie, if he be worthy, shall behold the power of Thor!
Now that we've all seen the film, let me add how much I enjoyed the poignant romance of its ending. Thor has smashed the Bifrost bridge to save Earth, but thereby cut himself off from the woman he loves. He asks the far-sighted Asgardian guardian Heimdall "Can you see Jane?" Heimdall's vision pierces the space-time continuum and he replies, "Yes. She searches for you."
Tom Hiddleston as the embittered Norse god Loki

Monday, February 20, 2012

Everything, Including a Monkey with a Parasol

Chris Evans as Marvel's flagship super hero, Captain America
By Dan Hagen
THIS is how you make a super hero movie. THIS is one of the best of the genre ever made, with first-rate actors like Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones and a clever script that offers derring-do, in-character humor and heart. 

Chris Evans is surprisingly solid as a weakling with true-blue courage, desperate to pitch in against the Nazis in WWII. 

It touches all the essential elements of super hero melodrama — weakness transformed to power, thrilling rescues, only seconds to spare, the world on the brink of total darkness, heroic self-sacrifice — but it grounds them in characters you care about and makes the whole bizarre Sturm und Drang situation seem almost credible. Even Captain America's strange costume and his WWII comic book get relatively reasonable explanations.
Nazis always make super heroes seem more credible because of their sheer level of lip-smacking sadism. And here we have the super-Nazis of Hydra, led by the most purely evil of all Marvel villains, the Red Skull (played with cold relish by Weaving, in a perfect and nicely hideous mask through the actor can actually act).

The Geek Factor is well-balanced and satisfying, with the film's plot tying seamlessly and clearly into both "Thor" and "Iron Man." We even get a glimpse of Marvel Comics' first super hero, the android Human Torch (a later incarnation of which was played by Chris Evans in the two Fantastic Four movies).

This movie has everything, including a monkey with a parasol. (And be sure to watch past the end credits).
From Cap's 1960s revival in Avengers No. 4.

I Suffered in Silence

"I suffered in silence," said the blonde, flashing her practiced smile on the Today Show.

Let Us Dwell

Let us dwell in this day, and not in any other in the imperfectly remembered past or the vainly imagined future.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Boot Hill USA, circa 2012

By Dan Hagen
The difference between the United States of America now and the USA in Wyatt Earp's day is that in Wyatt Earp's day, he took away people's guns by law. Then, when they got drunk, they didn't have them.
Earp's ordinance #9 was put into effect on April 19, 1881. This regulation forbade the carrying of weapons, including knives, inside Tombstone city limits.
Look, nobody is trying to confiscate anybody’s guns, okay? That's just Fox News lying bullshit. Americans have a Second Amendment right to own guns, but they should do so with the knowledge of the price that society pays for that right, and it is steep indeed.
The rate of deaths caused by guns in the U.S. is many times what it is in England, with its strict gun control laws. So, despite the talking points that right wingers parrot, gun control obviously does work. You can argue that it's a violation of fundamental rights, but the facts speak for themselves.
The U.S. leads the world’s developed countries in per capita gun deaths at 14.24 gun deaths per 100,000 people. England is way down the list at 0.41, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
So gun control reduces the deaths caused by guns, obviously. Duh.
They know it in London now, they knew it in Tombstone, AZ, in 1880, and they know everywhere that people don't have their heads shoved straight up their ideological asses.
Any discussion that suggests that we might have problems not solvable by guns prompts an immediate attack of the vapors among right wingers, along with calls to be carried to their favorite fainting couch.
Funny. I have walked the streets of central Illinois for decades without feeling the feverish need to carry a gun for protection, and yet I'm still alive. Not even a flesh wound.
But, according to the right wingers, the streets here and everywhere are just teeming with murderous, armed criminals.
I must be awfully good at dodging bullets.
But why stop at the right to carry handguns? Doesn’t the Second Amendment cover flamethrowers, too? If you're confronting a gang of armed criminals who are trying to take your lunch money, you're going to need to exercise your God-given right to bear flamethrowers. And hand grenades, of course.
You can have my hand grenade when you pry it out of my cold, dead hand (something I wouldn’t advise, by the way).
Right-wing gun nuts are now insuring that not only lunatics but FELONS retain the right to CONCEAL and CARRY guns in the U.S.
Who pays the price for our refusal to rationally discuss guns in this nation? Here are some of the people who did:
— In June 2008, a 4-year-old girl shot herself in the chest after snatching her grandmother's handgun from the woman's purse while riding in a shopping cart at a Sam's Club store in Columbia, SC. And America became just that much safer.
— In April 2009, Richard Poplawski of Pittsburgh shot and killed three police officers, telling friends he feared that President Obama planned to confiscate weapons. He expressed fear about a supposed plan by FEMA to herd people into concentration camps, which he had seen discussed by Glenn Beck on Fox News.
— Also in April 2009, Joshua Cartwright of Florida killed two sheriff's deputies at a gun range before police officers killed him. His wife told police he was “severely disturbed” by Obama's election. 
— One Saturday in 2010, in his rural eastern Kentucky trailer park, Stanley Neace snapped over how his wife cooked his eggs and killed her and four others with a shotgun.
— In February 2012, a 20-year-old minister’s daughter was shot in the head and killed in a St. Petersburg, Florida, church when a man who was showing off his gun accidentally fired through an interior wall.
Funny how no Republican ever mentions the fact that President Ronald Reagan supported the Brady handgun act. Reagan did, of course, have the advantage of the additional insight that is provided by the experience of having been shot.
Only in private, hypocritically, will right wingers admit the truth about American guns. Republican Iowa State Rep. Jeff Kaufmann was caught joking on a hot mic that a proposal which would allow state residents to carry weapons in public without permission from a sheriff and without any training or a background check might better be called the “give-a-handgun-to-a-schizophrenic” bill.
Back in the late 1930s, songwriter Harold Rome penned a satirical song “(When I Grow Up) The G-Man Song,” wherein a barely pubescent protagonist sang: "Gee, but I'd like to be a G-Man and go Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! I'd be a brave gang-busting he-man and go Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! I’d put on disguises of all different sizes and would I win prizes for telling who spies is!"
Yes, Americans have a right to own guns to protect themselves, but a disturbing number of them seem to be irrational gun fetishists who talk about America as if it's one big running gun battle, and who regard gun ownership as a panacea for all their problems. It isn't.
Few of life's problems can be solved with a gun, and only extremely immature people think otherwise. A feverish obsession with guns reveals that the person obsessed is compensating because he feels so frightened, powerless and small.
Unfortunately, the placebo of a handgun will not really give such men the courage and self-confidence for which they hunger.
The fact remains that guns belong in the hands of adults, and not those of children, whether chronological or emotional.

Meet the Invisible Terrorists

It is, however, pretty goddamn obvious.
By Dan Hagen
The American corporate media requires that "terrorists" be brown and have a funny name. Reality, however, does not.
Recent American terrorists include: Wade Michael Page: In August 2012, 40-year-old neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page shot six people to death at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

The Hutaree: Nine members of the Christian militia group, which said it's preparing for the arrival of the Anti-Christ, plotted to mass-murder police officers in 2010.

Joe Stack: He flew a plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, killing himself and one IRS employee in February 2010. 

James Von Brunn: The 88-year-old neo-Nazi murdered an African-American guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC in June 2009. His writings expressed support for Birtherism and praised Sarah Palin.

Richard Poplawski: The Pittsburgh man shot and killed three police officers in April 2009, telling friends he feared that President Obama planned to confiscate weapons. He expressed fear about a supposed plan by FEMA to herd people into concentration camps, which he had seen discussed by Glenn Beck on Fox News.

John Patrick Bedell: He shot two Pentagon police officers before being mortally wounded himself. In an online video manifesto, Bedell had ranted about the government's ability to "confiscate the resources of their citizens to fund schemes that need only be justified by lies and deception."

Joshua Cartwright: This Florida man killed two sheriff's deputies at a gun range in April 2009 before police officers killed him. His wife told police he was "severely disturbed" by Obama's election.

John Gimbel: This California man was charged in October 2009 after sending a racist, profanity-filled email that called for the death of President Obama and for the murders of Michelle Obama and the couple's two children "in front of" the president.

Steven Anderson: The Phoenix pastor told his congregation during the summer of 2009 to "pray for Barack Obama to die and go to hell." The next day, one of his congregants showed up at an Obama event with an assault rifle and a handgun.

Greg Girard: This Tea Party activist was charged in February 2010 with stockpiling weapons, and possessing explosive devices including tear gas and pepper ball canisters. Girard had recently written online that Sarah Palin is on a "righteous mission from God."

Norman LeBoon: This Philadelphia man was charged in March 2010 with threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a profanity-strewn Youtube video. LeBoon also posted previous videos making threats against Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other leaders.

Larry North: An East Texas man whom federal prosecutors allege left explosive devices including pipe bombs in multiple area mail boxes was motivated in part by anger at the government, federal prosecutors said in April 2010. Authorities had identified the 52-year-old North as a person of interest in connection with a string of incidents in which explosive devices were placed in mailboxes in East Texas.

Jerry Kane: In May 2010, two police officers pulled over a white van in West Memphis, Arkansas, for a traffic stop, and the driver opened fire with an AK-47, killing the officers. The driver of the van was Jerry Kane, who traveled the country giving a debt-elimination seminar and had recently spoken of killing IRS agents and being stopped at a "Nazi checkpoint" in New Mexico. A sheriff in Kane's home state of Ohio told the AP that in 2004, angry at being sentenced to (or, in his words, "enslaved" in) community service for driving with an expired license plate, Kane "claimed he was a 'free man' and asked [the judge] for $100,000 per day in gold or silver."