Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Ten Most Embarrassing Disclosures Made By Wikileaks

Just two days ago, Wikileaks released yet another cache dump of over 250,000 documents. It has enraged governments all over the world, especially the US State Department, because it has revealed our top diplomats to be inveterate gossips. Among the disclosures that go back to 1966: A Saudi crown prince "is really cheap"; China is amenable to N. Korea falling and being annexed by S. Korea and Arab leaders wanting the US to depose Iran's leadership. But there were other disclosures that were even more humiliating to the Americans. What were they?

  • 10) In 1975, Henry Kissinger once wrote that the one-eyed Moshe Dayan "reminds me of Betty Ford after her mastectomy."

  • 9) Lyndon Johnson in 1967 called French President Georges Pompidou, "that Brylcreem-stealing cocksucker."

  • 8) Former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker once sent a cable in 2007 warning "not to sit downwind of President Talibani during state dinners. Just trust me on this."

  • 7) In 1982, Secretary of State Alexander Haig complained of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of "wanting to be in charge in the bedroom."

  • 6) In 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a cable from Riyadh to the White House begging George W. Bush not to make her "sleep with a member of the royal family to lower oil prices."

  • 5) April 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell privately admitted to his British counterpart that his speech to the UN Security Council about Iraq's WMD program "was partly done by Marvel Comics."

  • 4) Hillary Clinton had called Chilean President Michelle Bachelet "that cunt" for wearing the same dowdy dress as her in April 2009.

  • 3) In 2004, George W. Bush was once quoted by Colin Powell to Ryan Crocker as saying, "You know I was aiming for Iran but the damned dart landed in Iraq, instead."

  • 2) In 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once wrote that "Ford is so clumsy, he can trip over his own shadow, and actually had on one occasion."

  • 1) Madeleine Albright once had to assure a foreign female diplomat in 1998 that "Don't worry, Slick Willie will keep it in his pants. Hillary fitted him with a chastity belt."
  • Sunday, November 28, 2010

    New American Zen Cover

    (Photoshopping courtesy of my sister Alicia Morgan of Last Left Turn B4 Hooterville.)

    This is the visual I'm going with for the new cover of the American Zen Kindle edition (I wish it was a Fender Stratocaster, which is Mike's guitar, instead of a Gibson, but you take what you can get). I think it just about sums up the most important abstracts of the book. Alicia's looking for a better, more Zen-like font than the Presidential one I've been using. Then when she inserts the title into the .jpeg, I'll upload it. It'll make for a more professional-looking cover. After all, there are approximately 650,000 titles on Kindle alone, so one must make their work stand out in some way.

    I also just reduced the price from $9.99 to $4.99 and sales are already picking up. So please give it a try. Once again, you can download a free 50 page sample to help you make up your mind as to whether or not to purchase it. I've also posted a review of it that's actually an expanded synopsis to further give you an idea of what it's about.

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    What are You Grateful For This Thanksgiving?

    Well, for starters, despite the prostrate-before-Wall St-and-the-GOP Obama administration, I'm still grateful, for starters, that this deeply superficial asshole isn't still in office. His ghost-written, plagiarized turkey of a book ought to be a reminder as to why we should all be grateful for presidential term limits.

    But, as with last year, I'm grateful that I can spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. JP and Popeye the sassy cat and Arlo Guthrie and "Alice's Restaurant" (I'm listening to it now on my CD mix, as I do at noon every Thanksgiving, a cool tradition I carried over from the last house). Have a happy, safe and grope-free Thanksgiving.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Top 10 Ways to Prevent a TSA Patdown

    Sadly, even nerdy love dolls are subject to TSA patdowns.

    This weekend, millions of American passengers will be flying all over the country for Thanksgiving in the midst of the TSA controversy over "enhanced patdowns" and X-ray screening. Last week alone, 170,000 passengers had been subjected to what many consider intrusive searches, possibly by homosexual TSA officials. The Transportation Security Administration is struggling to find a balance between safety in the skies and personal privacy, yet there are some measures you can take to prevent both an X-ray screening and a groping of your genitals. What are they?

  • 10) Say in a pronounced lisp to a male inspector, "Say, sailor, you might want to get a second guy over here to help save time. There's a lot to cover."

  • 9) "Say, that scanner's not gonna pick up my crabs, is it?"

  • 8) "I think this might be a good time to warn you I'm seeing a sexologist for premature ejaculation."

  • 7) Have a fake ID ready identifying you as Ted Haggard.

  • 6) Spend 100 hours in a tanning booth the week before your flight and say you're Rep. John Boehner.

  • 5) If you're a woman, apologize for smelling like Rosie O'Donnell.

  • 4) Loudly announce to the TSA agent, "I'm just seeing someone off. This is the closest thing I've had to a sex life since the AIDS clinic."

  • 3) Moan, breathe heavy and insist that the airport play "Bolero" over the PA system.

  • 2) Claim that the Viagra and Oxycontin in your carry-on actually belongs to Rush Limbaugh and that you're his drug mule.

  • 1) Mention that your biggest sexual fetish is latex and sadistic, minimum wage-earning losers in blue uniforms.
  • Monday, November 22, 2010

    "Dave's on Sale Again."

    Hell, so are all the boys of The Immortals. That's right, even though I hadn't gotten any confirmation from Amazon, yet, I decided to check on the status of my Kindle upload of American Zen and it appears that it's already on sale.

    Now, if you have any of the following:

    Kindle DX
    Kindle (2nd Generation)
    Kindle (1st Generation)
    Kindle for PC
    Kindle for Mac
    Kindle for iPad
    Kindle for iPhone
    Kindle for Android
    Kindle for BlackBerry

    you can purchase my novel American Zen (ASIN: B004D9FUZ4) on Amazon. To help speed things along, here's the catalog page that'll take you straight to it. All except 1st Generation Kindles have text-to-speech in case you want to listen to it in your car.

    To be honest with you all, I have no idea what it looks like since I can't afford a Kindle, yet, so if they screwed up the formatting and it looks amateurish, I apologize in advance.

    For those of you who don't know about my novel, I'll give it to you in a nutshell:

    Liberal investigative political journalist Mike Flannigan (the very same guy who occasionally posts here when his editor in chief Ari lets him out of his cage) is quite possibly the only political reporter not writing about Barack Obama's victory in November 2008. That's because about two years ago today, Mike got a cryptic email from his childhood friend, the keyboardist Jo Jo Vandermeer. One thing leads to another and eventually Mike reunites with his old rock'n'roll band The Immortals from 1978. The men, now middle-aged, eventually realize how cruel life had been to them since the band broke up when their front man Dave Carmichael signed himself and not the group to a recording contract. One nationally televised and Youtubed scandal, some jail time, a graveyard brawl and several soul-defining musical performances later, Mike and his old band realize the limits and cost of love and friendship and what each one will risk in that pursuit.

    I tend to look at American Zen not as a $10 purchase but an investment because it may teach one a lesson or two about life, love and death. So if you have a Kindle or are planning on getting or receiving one for the holidays, please give my novel a looksee. It may prove to be the best 626 kilobytes you'll ever download.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    American Zen is Here.

    I just uploaded it on Kindle and it'll take about 24 hours for it to become available on Amazon. So, if you have a Kindle (they start out at $130 for wifi only) and appreciate rock'n'roll novels told from a liberal/progressive perspective, you might want to give it a try. I've set a standard price of $9.99, which is far less than individuals have donated to P'ville through Paypal. I think it's high time I started earning my own money instead of having it given to me and not really giving something back. I should have a URL by tomorrow to direct you to, so stayed tuned.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    How Did We Let This Happen?

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)

    Two years ago, we were counting the nanoseconds.

    Two years ago, we were looking for legal and even extralegal ways to get Bush out of the White House before January 20th and to get Obama in there sooner. The Democrats had widened their congressional majority and were going to lead us to the Promised Land and Mordor was finally plugged up. We couldn't have been any more slap-happier than if we'd found out Paul Wellstone had come back from the dead.

    Fast forward to the present day. Sarah Palin's new reality show was a ratings coup in spite of us signing hundreds of thousands of petitions. Like Palin, George W. Bush got a literary agent to get him $7,000,000 for a ghost-written book. First day sales were almost 250,000.

    To top things off, we enjoyed the spectacle of seeing George W. Bush, Condi Rice and Dick Cheney in Dallas this week wielding not the pickaxes they ought to be swinging at a rock pile while doing hard labor at an East Texas federal prison chain gang but golden shovels during the groundbreaking ceremony for Dubya's Presidential Lib'ary, a massive half a billion dollar complex for a guy who insulted erudition his whole life.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats have to move out of their committee chairman offices like shamed and vilified foreclosed homeowners and Obama just dragged his tail back from a humiliating defeat in Asia in which the 19 other G20 countries basically told him to go fuck himself. "We're going to move into the global economy with or without you," they said.

    Fox "News", despite being run by a jiggling partisan pig named Roger Ailes, someone the very sight of whom makes one think of apple sauce and mint jelly, is still atop the ratings heap and Keith Olbermann just came off a humiliating suspension because he committed the unpardonable sin of his few modest campaign contributions making all of MSNBC look partisan.

    And even Jon Stewart is sounding a bit sketchy these days with his false moral equivalences.

    Frodo fucked up. He lost the ring and Mordor has just blown its top, largely thanks to a brain-starved faction of the voting and non-voting public who thought that bitch-slapping the Democrats and voting in Republican lunatics like Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, Tom Tancredo, Alan West and Rand Paul was somehow better than what the Democrats had given them these past 4 years.

    Once again, with feeling: How the fuck did we let this happen? How did something so right turn into complete and utter dog shit?

    Well, the Democrats have to assume some blame. Granted, the average American knows their current American Idol contestants' names or the roster of their favorite football team better than that of their elected officials or the President's Cabinet. So, while they should've known this, they should've done a better job enumerating and articulating their successes. Health and banking reform, even in its weakest state, was still reform that wouldn't have even been considered if the Republicans were still in power.

    Thanks to Obama, women now have more parity in terms of pay and advancement than they ever would've had under the Republicans. The Obama administration is winding things down in Iraq, are scoring victories over the Taliban and is repairing the foreign relations damage done under eight years of Bush. Tax cuts had been extended to both poor and middle class. The stimulus under Obama created over 2,000,000 jobs.

    But when the American public asked in the months leading up to the midterms, "What have you done for us, lately?" the Democrats were as tongue-tied about what they'd done as the Republicans were about what they planned to do apart from extending the Bush tax cuts, repealing what little health care reform the Democrats gave us and blindly opposing whatever Obama wants.

    Looking at how the wicked and stupid are succeeding on every front, it reduces to absurdity the old adage we may still try to teach our kids that crime doesn't pay. Not only does crime pay but it's further enriched by brain-dead literary agents and TV producers and pays dividends with stock options and has a kick-ass pension.

    Then we build half a billion dollar monuments to that evil.

    America, I've never been more ashamed to be one of your citizens as I am now.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Sarah Palin's Top 10 Qualities for a Presidential Candidate

    Recently on Entertainment Tonight, Sarah Palin listed what qualities she finds ideal in a Republican presidential candidate. Among the qualities listed, being a Constitutional conservative and being dismissive of what the media may think of them. But Gov. Palin also listed other qualities she finds admirable in a GOP White House candidate. What were they?

  • 10) The ability to hire a literary agent to get them $7,000,000 for a book without writing a single word.

  • 9) The ability to inexplicably augment fame and fortune without the benefit of public office, political courage or two operable neurons to rub together.

  • 8) The ability to retain so much relevance based on tiny Tea Party rallies that your homophobic 16 year old daughter's routine Facebook flame wars set the Huffington Post ablaze.

  • 7) The ability to make Soylent Green death panels seem like a reality to creatures on two legs.

  • 6) The ability to make liberals waste millions of man hours online without being in possession of a single fact.

  • 5) The ability to plausibly deny global warming even when ice shelves the size of Rhode Island are dropping into the drink.

  • 4) Someone who can make President Obama simultaneously look like both a Communist and a Nazi.

  • 3) Someone remaining politically relevant through one channel, Facebook and Twitter.

  • 2) The ability to ignorantly coin new words like "refudiate" and still make it "the top word of the year."

  • 1) Someone who can get a Senate candidate elected in their own state.
  • Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    The Grand Old Man of Journalism

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)

    "U.S. troops are in a part of the world that produces a huge amount of oil and natural gas. We will have U.S. troops in that region for years to come, whether we want to or not. … And with the price of oil going up to a 4.5 dollars a gallon, imagine what would happen to the price of oil if we precipitously pull troops out of the Persian Gulf." - Ted Koppel on This Week, July 6, 2008

    Trivia quiz: Which guy in this video is the real newsman? If you answered the guy on the right, the one who got fired by MSNBC for not picking up his pom poms fast enough, you'd be right.

    After Walter Cronkite's retirement, Ted Koppel used to be America's de facto "most trusted man in America" then a funny thing happened on the way to lionization and the title of Grand Old Man of American Journalism: He simply sold out and accepted the Bush lies about Iraq as truth. If you can stand to watch the whole thing, the depth of Koppel's deluded state of mind regarding Iraq is breath-taking.

    Then two days ago in an op-ed in the Wa Po, he made the mistake of lambasting Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly, uniting the two ancient enemies by providing them with a common enemy. In it, Koppel blamed the degeneration of the news on partisans like O'Reilly and Olbermann without seeming to make any distinction between which man or which network, Fox or MSNBC, was the more honest and factual. Olbermann, in his rebuttal, laid it out succinctly by reminding Koppel that MSNBC doesn't make up facts. And, when they're wrong, they fess up to it.

    If it wasn't for we bloggers' nonchalance about restating and overstating the obvious with viral echo chambers, Olbermann could single-handedly wipe out the liberal blogosphere because of the depth and righteousness of his commentary segments. But there are a few more points I can make.

    Back when he'd taped that segment on Phil Donahue's soon-to-be-yanked show, he spoke authoritatively about Saddam's possible nuclear weapons program even as Donahue was trying to hold his feet to the fire and remind him of the absurd hypothetical in his and the Bush administration's argument. He even made the colossal mistake of using his own son in law, the Brooking's Institute's Kenneth M. Pollack, "one of the world's leading experts on Iraq", and his 2002 book that proved to be more wrong about Iraq than virtually any book ever written on any subject.

    Back in 2004, long after the war had started to go south, Ted Koppel told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now that America didn't deserve an apology from either him or the networks who rah rah, sis boom bahed us into war with Iraq. Koppel's position back then hasn't changed a bit: That while the networks could've "been more critical", it's not their place to apologize for helping the Bush administration beat the war drums.

    Koppel completely misses the point: In his fetish for straight, unbiased journalism (and invoking the spirit of Edward R. Murrow as Republicans embrace the skeleton of Joe McCarthy and any dead Democrat with whom they momentarily agree), Koppel conveniently overlooks the main function of journalism, which is to employ its critical faculties and to speak truth to power when government propaganda doesn't pass the smell test.

    This is another example of how wrong he was after we'd invaded Iraq, when he told the late Tim Russert that withdrawing from Iraq would be a mistake and result in a regional civil war that would inflame the entire Persian Gulf and, yes, make oil prices spiral out of control.

    And here's Koppel telling us yet again during the '08 election that if we pull out of Iraq, it'll disrupt the flow of oil and natural gas and plunge us into a global depression. Essentially, he said, we're staying in Iraq because of the oil and natural gas but not in any critical sense. Duh, you think, Ted? Don't you think that maybe the oil and natural gas industry in the Persian Gulf was destabilized and that our illegal meddling in their nationalized oil industry had made us retroactively indispensable?

    But in the waning years of his career as a relevant newsman, Koppel because a passive pro-corporate tool who once wrote an alarming op-ed in the NY Times entitled "These Guns For Hire" in which the opening sentence was, "There is something terribly seductive about the notion of a mercenary army."

    Less than a year and a half later, such a seductive mercenary army had killed 17 Iraqis at Nisour Sq. on September 16th.

    So Ted Koppel, who was once an admirable journalist who faithfully reported for 444 days during the Iranian hostage crisis, is in no position to be chiding anyone about taking sides, especially when he consistently takes the side of the corporate sector that made him a rich man and helped confer on him the title of the Grand Old Man of American Journalism, a status that was denied his hero and so-called model Edward R. Murrow.

    Koppel is spot-on correct in saying that news is becoming infotainment. But that was a trend that began back in the 50's and early 60's and Murrow was the first to speak out about it. But to conflate Olbermann with O'Reilly and, like Jon Stewart of late to make false equivalences between left and right is one of the biggest blunders he ever made. And when a "straight newsman" like Koppel consistently and unapologetically gets it wrong and sleeps with the wrong people time and again, it's symptomatic of why we trust "straight" news less and go to partisan commentators and cable comedians for our news by the millions.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Quotes o' the Day: Decider edition

    "George W. Bush was, and likely will forever be, the single worst American president in the nation's history. To outstrip his remarkable record of failure, criminality and disgrace, a future president will have to personally cause the Earth to crash into the sun." - William Rivers Pitt, - Truthout.

    "Somebody has a new book out.

    No thanks; I already saw the movie." - d r i f t g l a s s, "I Understand"

    "He was speaking in Dayton on Veterans Day at the Air Force Museum. Referring to soldiers who go on high-risk missions, the man who couldn't even finish his time avoiding going to Vietnam said, "I was constantly amazed by their willingness to volunteer in the face of danger." That would be for missions in our wars of his choosing.

    "His re-emergence this week as a kind of backwards-ass book hawker ought to remind us all that the dangers we face now are ones we didn't volunteer for, but ones that he foisted upon us." - The Rude Pundit

    "You say that a rapper dissing you was "one of the most disgusting moments in my Presidency" and that you told your wife that it was the worst point of your time in office. For someone who pranced around saying that the American people and their "polls" can suck your balls, you have pretty thin skin when it comes to Kanye West." - The Rude Pundit

    "As a friend told me, its as if Bush popped back up to remind us just how much of an improvement President Obama is on that sorry excuse for a human being." - Oliver Willis

    "I was also very moved by His recounting of His childhood encounter with the Bush family fetus jar. It was very vividly written. I can almost see Barbara Bush standing there in her blue gown, arms outstretched as she presents the fetus jar to young W. "Hold him, W," she screeches, her pearls rattling angrily, "kiss your little dead fetus brother; kiss him now, you little mistake!"

    Now that's parenthood. It's no wonder He became what He is today.

    It does not matter if the story is true or not. No one cares that it's more likely that Barbara caught young George drinking from the family fetus jar." - Gen JC Chrsitian, patriot, Amazon book review, "If Horatio Alger Had a Trust Fund"

    "As the days at Andover wound down, it came time to apply for college. My first thought was Yale. After all, I was born there." - George W. Bush, Decision Points.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Top 10 Rejected Titles For George W. Bush’s Decision Points.

    “Sorry, mister. I thought you were Alfred E. Neuman.”

    From the very beginning, it was widely known throughout the media and blogosphere that President Bush’s memoir would be entitled, Decision Points. Originally, however, the 43rd president didn’t have an easy time coming up with a catchy title. What were the top 10 rejected titles for Mr. Bush’s presidential memoir?

  • 10) My Libary Cost More Than Yours, Pop.

  • 9) The Man Who Shot Liberty.

  • 8) I Was a Two-Termer, Pop.

  • 7) Points Where I’d Decided On.

  • 6) I Got Saddam, Pop.

  • 5) Dick Cheney Chose and Approved This Title.

  • 4) I Rehired Karl Rove, Pop.

  • 3) Outsourcing 7,000,000 Dollar Memoirs For Fun and Profit.

  • 2) Who’s Your Literary Agent, Pop?

  • 1) I Am Not a Dream of My Father’s.
  • Diary of a Wimpy pResident

    Memo to the lazy cunts at Crown Publishing:

    If you buy sight unseen anything from a Republican, especially by George W. Bush, don't be as lazy as him and assume that he's done all his homework, especially if you're paying him a small mint for it.

    Because it's come to light that George W. Bush's Decision Points, which just knocked off the ironically-titled Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth as Amazon's top seller, is rife with passages already written and published by Bush's aides. And he did so without any attribution whatsoever. Says Ryan Grim at HuffPo:
    Crown also got a mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates, from which Bush lifts quotes word for word, passing them off as his own recollections. He took equal license in lifting from nonfiction books about his presidency or newspaper or magazine articles from the time. Far from shedding light on how the president approached the crucial "decision points" of his presidency, the clip jobs illuminate something shallower and less surprising about Bush's character: He's too lazy to write his own memoir.

    Bush's advance, by the way, for this copy-and-paste job was reported to be a cool $7,000,000, which is what another right wing zombie got for her ghost-written memoirs. Which segues neatly into my next point:

    Of course, the fact that Bush couldn't write much less read a book by himself went without saying. We've known since at least March of this year that the memoir would be ghost-written, as was Sarah Palin's, by a 28 year-old Bush speechwriter named Christopher Michel. So when we start railing about the plagiarism, start with Michel.

    This memo also goes out to whatever dingbat literary agent who thought that tying his or her fortunes to a Typhoid Mary like Bush was a good idea: If you were also tricked into thinking that this memoir would be the real deal, then you're as brain-dead as your colleagues. If you knew that this book would be ghost-written and plagiarized from Bush's aides, then you're a douchebag of the highest order and ought to donate your 15% of that 7 million to Bush's victims, starting with the widows, widowers and children of the servicepeople who'd needlessly died for Bush and Halliburton.

    So, bottom line, GOP zombies keep getting $7,000,000 advances for books they're not even writing while I continue to get form rejection letters from literary agents for good manuscripts that I wrote myself that they refuse to read because I'm not, apparently, as marketable as Joe the Plumber.

    Two years ago, Erica Heller, daughter of the late great Joseph Heller, more eloquently than I put this disturbing trend of throwing mountains of money at the cloven hoofs of right wing mouth breathers while real writers often get short shrift, especially if they're not "names."

    Despite my obvious literary talent, I don't have to be eloquent about it nor do I feel the need to be any more than I have to keep silent about my neverending and ongoing frustration with avaricious, self-absorbed literary agents who are slowly killing the publishing business. Which is to say our nation's literary IQ by drying up the pool for the rest of us by letting the elephants suck up all the water so the rest of us have to slug it out for pennies with broken pool cues and beer bottles.

    God damn you literary agents and God damn you publishers past and present who made them indispensable 30 years ago and making it impossible for people of real talent to even get their foot in the door of publishers on their own merits.

    And this latest scandal over Bush's ghost-written pack of lies and denials only shows that if you kill enough people and are infamous enough for a whole host of war crimes, there will always be a scumbag literary agent who will gladly represent you whether or not they know or care that hardly a word in your property is true or even original.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Top Ten Suggestions From the Cat Food Commission

    At one o'clock today, the President's Debt Commission, uncharitably called the "Cat Food Commission", released its list of recommendations for deficit reduction. Among the solutions proposed by the 50 page Simpson/Bowles report are reductions in funding to the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, National Public Radio and farm subsidies as well as reductions in Medicare, Social Security and raising the minimum retirement age. There was also, surprisingly, a recommendation for a cut in corporate tax rates. But what other changes in spending were proposed by co-chairs Simpson and Bowles?

  • 10) Cutting free movies when seniors volunteer for the Soylent Green Program.

  • 9) Free toothpick in every tenth can of Friskies.

  • 8) In lieu of combat pay, greater latitude for soldiers in war zones to take more bribes from war profiteers.

  • 7) Presidential debates to be waged between the two nominees with a single broken pool cue in an alley.

  • 6) Tax incentives to corporations who hire children under 14.

  • 5) Pampers and Huggies will come with large print instructions.

  • 4) Restricting Rep. John Boehner to one tanning session a day.

  • 3) Congressmen and Senators no longer able to get free health care for their mistress's pets.

  • 2) Mandate for all Wal-Marts to build more entrances, necessitating a need for more greeters.

  • 1) Social Security and Medicare benefits severely curtailed for those without pensions or Enron 401(k) plans.
  • Rall to Arms

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)

    "(W)e've seen since the economy melted down, that neither the Democrats nor Republicans nor any third party is poised to step in. In terms of passive resistance, the American left has been very peaceful since the early 70s, since the Kent State shootings and where has it gotten us? Millions of people marched against the war in Iraq. What did it do? The tanks rolled in just the same." - Ted Rall on Dylan Ratigan's program.

    I'll admit that Ted Rall is a somewhat amusing cartoonist. He's not a laugh-out-loud funny cartoonist like The Far Side's Gary Larsen or raunchy funny like Sam Gross or dead-on insightful and hilarious like Dilbert's Scott Adams or Tom Tomorrow. But Rall is a political cartoonist who excels in revealing the absurdity and corruption in politics today with a weary irony and dry wit that borders on the dessicated.

    Rall, of course, isn't a mere cartoonist. He also writes political screeds, many of them informative, on The Smirking Chimp and elsewhere.

    Still, imagine my surprise when I went to Raw Story before dawn this morning and found out that Rall had advocated violent revolution at the invitation of, in the middle of the Keith Olbermann controversy, MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan, the weak musketeer in the Four Horsemen of the Liberal Apocalypse consisting of Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell.

    The Anti-American Manifesto is the name of Rall's newest book (even though it came out a month and a half ago) and it makes for an interesting counterpoint and perhaps even an extended postscriptum to George W. Bush's own book that was released yesterday, Decision Points.

    The good thing about Rall's proposal is that 5th columns, whether liberal or conservative, have a miserable track record in American history. They may change history, like presidential assassins, or even alter the very face and role of government, such as 5th columnists Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. But our government and the democracy that renews it every two years has never come close to being overthrown if you exclude the war of 1812 that set most of Washington, DC on fire and made President James Madison flee the Capitol.

    But Rall, and Ratigan, seem to think it's time to recreate history 200 years later.

    First things first: Shame on MSNBC's producers and Ratigan himself for playing up the violent overthrow of the government angle. Even a radical like Rall concedes that the violent overthrow of the government is a last ditch scenario. The only difference between Rall and the Tea Baggers, and right wing mouth-breathing bloggers such Red State's Moe Lane take note, is that Rall regards violent overthrow as a last resort whereas Tea Baggers tend to look at it as a first resort and reach for their ammo boxes when they don't get their way at the ballot box.

    Secondly, this is what Publisher's Weekly had to say about Rall's book:
    When it comes to what follows, Rall, like many revolutionaries, has less to say: "We must take the chance." His revolutionary rants and belief in a green, egalitarian world are compelling, yet a stubborn truth remains: most Americans don't want to revolt, a fact about which Rall seems oblivious, making his Manifesto inadvertently ridiculous. While the cartoonist is right about much of what is wrong with America today, it's hard to take this seriously. For once, the joke's on him.

    Which is probably the most spot-on analysis of Rall's book. Indeed, even in the extremely unlikely event that the government and Wall Street and the entire corporate structure is overturned: What will we replace them with? Anarchists, by their very nature and by the very definition of the word anarchy, are pre-doomed to failure for the very reason that Man is an inherently political animal that not only needs but wants to be led by those who are fit to lead.

    Rall is an idiot to think that a liberal movement that was cowed 40 years ago after a relatively minor exercise of federal power at Kent State, a nation that mustered a mere 40.3% voter turnout last week during a critical midterm election, will somehow be able to heave itself off its Laz-E-Boys and away from their Apple laptops and overthrow the very apparatus that has made the United States the titan it is in the world (albeit one that's on one knee).

    But Rall's call for revolution is a clarion call that the current political and corporate model is plainly unsustainable. He points out the things that have poisoned our nation both ecologically and politically: The Wall Street hegemony; the BP oil spill; Chronic unemployment and the current administration's chronic inability to deal with it; political corruption at the highest echelons of government; the simultaneous subversion and silencing of the voice of the people.

    The people have been forgotten and Lloyd Blankfein and other "captains of industry" proved in the fall of 2007 that one whisper from a lobbyist or CEO speaks louder than a million screams in the wilderness. You're damned right something has to be done, especially when the government has InfraGard (the real "invisible hand" of corporate industry), which means our "democratically-elected" government won't even have to get its hands dirty if and when the revolution happens.

    Rall's book is nothing more than an extended blog rant that offers no realistic solutions or even realistic means for achieving those progressive ends. After all, the overthrow of the Roman Empire (not at the hands of fat, lazy, complacent Romans but the barbarians of the North, the precursors of today's ever-ravenous Wall Street tycoons) resulted in a centuries-long Dark Ages. The overthrow of the Romanovs resulted in 72 years of misery, death and poverty for the Russians. And the overthrow of a United States, while superficially attractive to some of us, would result in a power vacuum in the world that would just lead to the supremacy of the two most populous nations on earth that have already done more than their part to hollow out the United States like the opportunistic parasites they are.

    There's also the inherent absurdity that a cartoonist, a guy who gets paid to draw pictures and amuse a few people, would be at the vanguard of a bloody, world-changing revolution, which automatically flies in the face of one of the most cherished hallmarks of liberal antiquity: Nonviolent change at all costs.

    Still, when all is said and done and when used copies of Rall's book get put up for sale on Amazon.com for a penny and $3.99 shipping, after it's been relegated to the dustbin with 99.9% of the books that have ever been sold by brain-dead literary agents and published by equally brain-dead publishers, one has to admit that Rall's book, if nothing else, serves as an almost Cassandra-like warning that, according to Yeats, "the center cannot hold" and that we must change course either through consensus in the interests of mutual survival or revolution of one sort or another.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    "Beam me up, Scottie..."

    "...There's no intelligent life on Planet Wingnuttia."

    The smackdown of the century to homophobes. Only George Takei can say the "D" word and make you think you've just been honored with a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    No, Phil Griffin Sucks

    OK, once again I'll stray from the herd and say something that's likely to piss off my fellow "liberals" (like I give a bleeding shit): Keith Olbermann fucked up. What liberal bloggers seem to forget is the fact that Olbermann didn't get indefinitely suspended without pay because he donated a piddling $7,200 to Democratic candidates but because he didn't clear it with NBC executive management.

    At least that's the official story.

    And it's hard to feel sorry for Olbermann because he's every bit as much of an egotistical blowhard as the guy he loves to lambaste on his show, Bill O'Reilly. The fact that O'Reilly often strays into Republican La La Land and Olbermann just as often finds himself on the right side of an issue doesn't make him seem any less of a pious, self-important, narciscistic bag o' wind.

    That said, there's a subcontext to this whole Olbermann flap that perhaps ought to be elevated to that of a full context. And it's the MSM's role in how they present the news, offer commentary (which, as with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at the Comedy Channel, is all Olbermann really does and he'd be the first to admit it) and how effectively they separate themselves from one political party or another.

    And it doesn't matter that Fox donated $1,000,000 to the Republican Governor's Association and another $1,000,000 to the anti-American US Chamber of Commerce. It doesn't matter that last year Sean Hannity was the keynote speaker at an NRCC fundraiser in Cleveland that raised $7,000,000 for the Republican Party. It has nothing to do with Olbermann or MSNBC.

    Phil Griffin, MSNBC's president, was the one who'd clipped Olbermann's wings while clinging to a technicality: Olbermann didn't clear his relatively minor donations with management. In doing so, Phil Griffin made the colossal mistake of trying to play by Marquis de Queensbury rules against the thugs and street fighters of Fox "News" by trying to maintain a higher journalistic standard. Fox News does not require its anchors and hosts to clear with management their unceasing and blatant agenda of promoting Republican candidates.

    And Keith Olbermann was used as a sacrificial lamb to that disingenuous end.

    Well, fuck you, Phil Griffin. The Family Guy's Peter Griffin would make a better network president than you.

    Because when you bring a rubber knife to a gunfight where the other guy is Roger Ailes, you're going to get your ass shot off every time. I don't need linkage and sources to back me up when I say that since its start in 1996, Fox "News" had been nothing less than a cheerleading/fundraising arm of the Republican Party that's turned 80% of America into one gigantic Hooverville. MSNBC, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow aside, seems, like all too many of us, to shy away from the Liberal brand as if that big red, Hawthornian "L" stands for "Loser." Just try telling Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck that they're mere ventriloquist dummies for the GOP and you'll be shouted down and probably shot in the back as you leave the sound stage.

    And, granted, when networks begin openly and shamelessly endorsing candidates of either party, there's a tremendous potential for abuse and an equally tremendous potential for the long-term corruption of the impartiality of the mainstream media (as if it isn't already corrupted and a huge beneficiary of political largesse every two years).

    Yet MSNBC aspiring to be something they're not, which is non-partisan, is, at least in the short term, destructive because it effectively refuses to provide a necessary counterbalance to the blatant rah rah, sis boom bahing of the Republican Party that MSNBC sees every single day, 24/7, from across the street.

    Phil Griffin could've used this opportunity to send a shot across Fox's pirate ship bow. When Politico and the HuffPo broke the news of Olbermann's contributions to three Democrats, Griffin could have told Fox when they inevitably began pewling about "partisanship", "When you people stop supporting the Republican Party, that's when we'll stop supporting the Democratic Party."

    Of course, that wouldn't result in Fox doing the right thing but it would put those hyper-partisan propagandists on notice that turnabout is fair play.

    But Phil Griffin would never do that because the boy's got no heart. Even as Olbermann was told he was for the time being persona non grata by management, Meredith Viera on that same network had on not the winner of the Delaware Senate race but Christine O'Donnell. Viera looked as if she was going to spontaneously film a lesbian porno movie (minus the masturbation, natch) with the loser.

    And the results are immediate: When MSNBC hobbles itself with rules that Fox and who knows how many other networks don't have, that immediately wrenches your network toward one direction. In this case, Griffin's sandbagging has resulted in pushing MSNBC to the right, which is not what its growing viewership tunes in every day to see. In the act of avoiding partisanship by suspending Olbermann, it just leaves more opportunities for the right wing to present its case in addition to Fox "News."

    So fuck you, Phil Griffin. And don't think for a minute we've forgotten Phil Donahue.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Where's Guy Fawkes When You Need Him?

    (Video courtesy of Banzai7-V)

    "Despite all my rage / I'm still just a rat in a cage." - "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", Smashing Pumpkins

    Oh, heavens, no, Constant Readers. I would never advocate blowing up the White House or Capitol Building or even a Port-O-Potty on the National Mall with a keg of dynamite. That is, like, so 2009 Tea Party. But it is, after all, the 5th of November and the country has obviously slid another several feet toward the edge of the cliff in the wake of last Tuesday's elections. So, let's all sit down at my little kitchen table and have a nice chat, shall we?

    Now, I'm as anxious as the rest of you about the direction our country's been heading ever since Ronald Reagan doddered around his California ranch wondering what the fuck happened to his 2nd rate acting career. And I won't be impolitic enough to point out that while we share the angst of the Tea Baggers, our own particular stress arises from knowing actual facts and not feverishly imagining Socialist / Fascist conspiracy theories.

    Nonetheless, enough of us were deluded enough to hand the rudder wheel back to the same psychopaths who'd confidently steered the ship of state straight into the iceberg. And the GOP majority in the House and their more numerous bretheren in the Senate are just two of the things we have to worry about just in the next two years.

    Because instead of the corporation-gobbling Marxist a certain notorious number of us think we have in the White House, we have a Step-and-Fetchit house nigger willing to dance a jig to Wall Street's tune and willing to go by the new name of Toby if they but so much as dangle the whip.

    The proof is in the pudding that is the health care bill, that Obama says will be improved upon and tinkered with when this government of plutocrats already had almost a year and a half to get it right the first time with an historic "progressive" majority. What little good the bill will do anyone who doesn't work for the government or who is rich enough to not need health insurance won't kick in until two years after Obama (hopefully) gets voted out of office, or 2014.

    Iraq and Afghanistan are little more than Bush-era bailout packages for hundreds of military industrial contractors except we're using more contractors than we ever did under Bush.

    The filthy rich, thanks to the right wing Supreme Court, now have nothing to stand between them and buying seats for their slightly less filthy rich comrades in harm, making the voice of the people more redundant than ever. Many of these same corporations belong to Infragard, the cabal of Fortune 500 companies that have been deputized and immunized by the Justice Department to kill American civilians who are judged in the field to be a threat to the national infrastructure.

    These same corporations have already gotten an admirable head start in their undeclared eugenics program by making health care and life-saving pharmaceuticals so conditional and prohibitively expensive that we die while waiting for them. Visits to their corporates offices results in tasing and having the police called on you.

    Corporations like BP and Exxon slather our coastlines with oil they spilled then try to slough off culpability like a wet blanket, get out of paying fines that still do not benefit us, get out of cleanup costs then, if we're lucky, they'll hire us at substandard wages and using substandard PPE and no health insurance. Then, whatever we're fortunate enough to make when our livelihoods are destroyed then gets deducted from whatever piddling settlement we would've gotten from them.

    Then they have the nerve to expect the government to let them do it all over again.

    Corporations like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and other scumbags are literally stealing our homes and our cars even when they're paid off and the courts let them even when they produced just shoddy, backdated documents. They're shanghaiing us in our homes and fooling us into thinking we're in real courtrooms before real judges and real sheriff's deputies.

    They lay us off by the tens of thousands, ship our jobs overseas so they can save a bundle so they can buy for themselves corporate jets, yachts, mansions and amass billions then have the gall to spend up to $160,000,000 on one campaign (all but $20 million coming out of Meg Whitman's bottomless pockets) and expect us to vote for them on the strength of fiscal responsibility and permanent lower taxes.

    These same gabardine-swaddled, jiggling swine are building ocean liners, not yachts, but billion dollar ocean liners so they can then serenely float off into the sunset while the mainland erupts into a smoking war zone while the craters fill up with human blood. Once again, if you're lucky, you may survive as a member of the servant class onboard these getaway ocean liners.

    Every once in a great while in the interests of cathartic theater of the absurd, the government temp workers of these same corporations bark at them like irritable Pekingese overcompensating, jesters timidly mocking the monarchy of old before cartwheeling away back into obscurity.

    The problem with this country is that the fraud, the corruption and the outright contempt for the average working-class family is so pervasive and widespread, so deeply entrenched into the fabric of government that it's possible there's no one person who can connect all the dots and have a perfect, all-encompassing overview of the rot that has taken this country into the third world.

    It's no accident but by design that we are last in the world in math test scores, last in preventable death health care (the hated France is #1), our health care system is the most expensive in the world but dead last or next to last against other industrialized nations. Having slipped seven ranks in just three years, we are 49th in life expectancy at just over 78 years (the hated Socialist French are #12 with tiny Monaco topping the list, averaging almost 90 years.) When the WHO last did their national rankings of health care systems 10 years ago, once again France came in 1st out of 191 nations while we did a dismal 37th.

    Because the last thing the power elite wants is a an actual Democratic citizenry that's educated, informed and healthy enough to take back their government whenever necessary.

    Yet all these corporations have to do is say, "Uh uh" and countless tens of millions will believe them when they say socialized medicine is evil and unAmerican, counter-capitalistic and Communist, that the free market always has our best interests at heart and can always be counted on to be responsible stewards of the environment.

    The problem is, the stock market on Wall Street and the corporations who trade on the market floor have less to do with the actual economy than ever before. There's not just a gap widening between rich and poor but between Wall Street and Main Street.

    When Mikael Blomkvist of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo exposed a Swedish tycoon of having committed virtually every white collar crime known to Man, he was asked what responsibility he and the media bore for the collapse of the Swedish stock market. Blomkvist said, "The idea that the Swedish economy is headed for a crash is nonsense." The incredulous reporter pressed on with, ""We're experiencing the largest single drop in the history of the Swedish stock exchange- and you think that's nonsense?" These are the words that the late Steig Larsson put in his mouth (with some modest editing from me):
    You have to distinguish between two things- the economy and the stock market. The economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. It's just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago.

    The stock exchange is something very different. There's no economy and no productions of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn't have a thing to do with reality or with the economy.

    All good and well and that may still be the case in Sweden, with a necessary separation between economy and stock market, one dealing in tangibles such as goods and services and the other dealing in intangibles such as run-of-the-mill speculation.

    And that would've been the case in our own financial Ivory Towers were it not for one thing: They decided that the real money wasn't on Wall Street but Main Street. The real wealth of our country is in its real estate holdings, which numbers in the tens of trillions of dollars.

    Then, thanks to economic slaughterhouses such as Magnatar and Goldman Sachs, they realized that not only could they and their buddies sell us subprime mortgages but to then foreclose on those homes when the APR literally doubled within a year and a half of home ownership. Then they realized that they could make a killing by bundling those toxic mortgages by the thousands and to then con banks into buying them knowing fully well they would go belly up.

    Then they realized that if they could do this with mortgages,, well Hell's bells, they could bundle anything, including life insurance policies bought for pennies on the dollar from people on their death beds so they can throw that into the gaping maw of the health care racket.

    Then they realized that all they had to do was wave their arms and pretend to turn blue and beg the government for a bailout when their craps game turned into its namesake and that they could get us, the very same people they've been victimizing for decades, to bail them out.

    Then they realized that, with this massive 11 trillion cash infusion and with the repeal of Glass Steagall in 1999 (which allowed them to more than dabble in real estate), they no longer had any incentive to make their money the old fashioned way, which was loaning it to us at a modest interest rate.

    "Loan money? To you, of all people? What are we, nuts? Times are tough!" Even though that was supposedly the rationale of the bank bailout, to loan money to those qualified to take out these loans and to get liquidity flowing again.

    Then they realized, with no more incentive to do business the old fashioned way, they went back to lighting their Cubans with thousand dollar bills that came with their billions upon billions in bonuses.

    And Section 6 of TARP gives the Treasury Secretary the discretion to foist on the taxpayer another $700,000,000,000 in toxic debt whenever s/he feels like it.

    Our president is now archly reminding us of the need to pull together and preaching of the virtue of shared sacrifice. Criticism of the government is not leveled at the right wing who want even more destruction in the form of Social Security and Medicare put on the auction block but at us with a surliness and contempt that's characteristic of the Bush administration toward those same progressives.

    So let's think of these few facts as Obama prepares to listen to the GOP in their impassioned pleas to keep tax cuts for the rich and perhaps even to raid Social Security's and Medicare's coffers. Because they want it all for themselves. It's really all quite elemental: They want to hoard as much money as they can, they will snarl with atavistic ferocity at anyone who wants even a fraction of it, they do not want to accept any criticism or accountability for their crimes and they will not rest until we're dead or fighting each other and everybody but them for whatever few scraps escaped their vulture eyes.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Top 10 Worst Moments in George W. Bush's Presidency

    Recently, former President George W. Bush cited rapper Kanya West calling him a racist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as the worst moment of his presidency. The 43rd president also told NBC's Matt Lauer that there were other rough patches in his memoir, Decision Points. But Mr. Bush also cited other bad moments during his administration in his autobiography. What were they?

  • 10) Having to buff out Dick Cheney's heel marks on the resolute desk with torn swatches of the original US Constitution.

  • 9) CIA Director George Tenet telling him after 9/11 that Osama bin Laden had hidden in Camp David for three days.

  • 8) That in July of 2003 Bob Novak was outed by the Wilsons as a GOP operative.

  • 7) The only Thursday night the White House kitchen couldn't serve pork rinds.

  • 6) That Ted Kennedy couldn't die sooner so he could tell at his funeral alcoholism jokes originally told at a Dean Martin roast 32 years ago.

  • 5) Cindy Sheehan "pissing and moaning about some dead feller named Casey" during his vacation.

  • 4) The eight temporary lobotomies he'd suffered through every time Karl "Bush's Brain" Rove went on vacation.

  • 3) Seeing the twins reach their 20's without either of them having killed a gay person.

  • 2) When Brent Scowcroft gave him on his 60th birthday a beanie with "41½ " on it.

  • 1) When a panel of historians determined by late 2008 that he'd had been less effective than William Henry Harrison, who died one month into office.
  • Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Best Response I have seen to a Teabagger...

    (This is the original link at the Smirking Chimp.)

    Best Response I have seen to a Teabagger....
    (a self-described "Palin groupie" who at first denied the existence of the incident, but then began attacking every government agency possible. At one point she called for the end to all taxes.

    Her responses were typically hypocritical...she once needed "transitional Medicare" from the government, but she felt really bad about taking it, so it was OK. But everybody else who gets it now is lazy and needs to be drug tested.

    Of course, the vulgarity came pouring out, and anybody who called her out on her double-standard has no right to judge her (despite her constant judgments on the lazy people who probably "needed educating on who to vote for anyway".

    I let my friends make the arguments for me, but I have finally had enough.


    Let's say that you're a Teabagger and you want to get rid of taxes. I tell you it's not possible, but you don't listen to me. That's cool.

    So you win. Taxes are gone. No taxes in the USA. You win. The federal government and all the evils that go with it are gone forever.

    Now let's finish your scenario out, OK? Humor me.

    You might think that with no taxes, you'll make more money, right?


    Let's say that you make 40,000 dollars a year now. But your take home pay is only 30,000 dollars. Your employer knows that he doesn't have to pay the federal government those nasty taxes anymore, but he also knows that you've been willing to come to work every day for a 30,000 dollar take-home amount. Guess who's getting a pay decrease down to 30k a year? You are. The taxes are gone, did you really think that your employer wouldn't choose to benefit from that first?

    So now you make the same amount as before, but there's no money going to social security anymore. The same amount of money you lived on before now has to get you beyond retirement.

    Your 401k is gone too. The company that manages it has wiped the accounts dry. Who's going to stop them from doing that now that the federal regulators have all been fired?

    Perhaps you'd better start saving 10 percent of your paycheck for future retirement plans? Whoops, can't do that. The FDIC doesn't exist, so the banks have all been cleaned out. So have the accounts you used to have money in. Your consumer protections are gone, and the person nearest to the vault with a key is now racing towards Bermuda with sacks of your money.

    We didn't really want all those nasty regulations on the banks anyway, did we?

    OK, so you can handle this. You don't need help. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, right?

    You'll be OK, I'm sure of it. But your kids are hungry, so you'd better go to the store to get groceries. Be careful with the meat and the produce departments, though. Sometime last month, the farmer realized that his farm subsidies were gone and he's gotta cut corners to survive, not to mention raising his prices. In the cutting of the corners, he stopped feeding his cattle clean food. Now those cows are all sick and their meat is packaged up nice for you to buy and feed to your kids.

    There's no FDA and no USDA to monitor the food your farmer provides to the grocery store, so you're on your own.

    Oh and by the way, the ground beef that will be in your digestive system soon just cost you double what it used to, if you're lucky. Price controls have been dissolved altogether.

    When your family gets sick from that tainted meat, you'll have to rush them to the hospital. Pray that their illness has already been given a cure, because the Centers For Disease Control no longer can help your local hospital identify any viruses.

    Also, don't drink the water in your neighborhood anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency, as it turns out, was actually protecting the environment. You didn't think Monsanto was going to stop chemical dumping in the streams and lakes of America on their own, did you?

    On your way home from the hospital, drive slowly. The traffic lights no longer work because they were part of the local government control and there's no more tax money left to operate the lights. This alone caused a lot of accidents, and most of the wreckage is left behind for you to drive around if you can. Ever noticed the people that sweep up the broken glass after even the most minor fender-benders? Guess what paid their salaries?

    When you get home, pray it's still there. Without police, what do you think the odds are that people just left it alone? Unless you left your husband/wife behind with a big gun 24/7, somebody's coming in to take your stuff. And if they have a bigger gun, you just lost your husband and his 30k a year too.

    Hopefully that house doesn't catch fire too. No fire department. And even if there were friends willing to help put out the fire, where do you think they're going to get the water to douse the flames? Those fire hydrants were not placed there by divine intervention.

    Hopefully you prepared for all this by stockpiling on guns and assorted weaponry. Not like it'll matter. There's armies from about 2 dozen countries that either are ready to invade or already have. Who's gonna stop them? Jimbo and his homemade militia? I'm sure the people in your neighborhood can fill in for the boys that used to be in our military, because you know....wolverines! I loved that film too. But let's be honest....the Cubans and Russians were going to kick our ass, no matter how many high school football players Patrick Swayze can recruit.

    Even if the world community takes pity on us and defends us from invading armies, it won't take long for the airports to become havens of hysteria. Weapons on airplanes are easy as pie. The TSA that performs security checks at the gate...who do you think paid their salaries? They're part of that massive government waste you're so happy to be rid of. Maybe the federal marshalls on every plane will protect you....oh, wait. Never mind.

    Aside from the easy pickings that terrorism will find in the skies, you won't be safe on the ground either. Timothy McVeigh is about to be a happy memory compared to the chemical detonations that are possible now. The regulatory committees that monitored the sale and purchase of toxic materials are gone daddy gone.

    So between the tainted meat, your pay cut, your 401k being wiped out, the hospitals being overrun by people who ate the same tainted meat, your house being an easy target, the threat of terrorism at all-time highs, and having to fight for your own survival on a hourly basis....don't you think that maybe it's better that you just shut up and pay your damn taxes?

    Or are you willing to risk all that just because you once heard about a guy who was lazy and took 300 bucks a month in unemployment?


    UPDATE 2 - yes, I give you 110% freedom to republish my response, crib from it, whatever you wish. What's mine is yours.

    Apathetic is as Apathetic Does

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)

    I suppose I should be a gracious loser and express the usual pious platitudes about how great it is to be in a free country, a democracy where every person has one vote. I suppose it's also incumbent on me to respect that democracy, accept last night's brutal results and say, "The people have spoken."

    But the people have not spoken.

    Most of them don't during your typical midterm, largely because the presidency isn't at stake. Typically, a midterm will bring out anywhere from 30-40% of the vote and last night wasn't much of an exception. The final national numbers aren't in, yet, but I think it would be safe to say that voter turnout last night still didn't get above 45%, if that.

    So, no, the people have not spoken. They are the biennial, post-Nixonian Silent Majority.

    And these people who'd decided to stay home have nothing to complain about because they forfeited their right to do so by saying home and pissing and moaning about attack ads, dead-catting, mud-slinging and name-calling. At the bottom of all that filth there were still the issues and they didn't dissolve beneath all the muck and mire. The issues, like our unpaid bills and terminal disease, stubbornly remain.

    So let's take a look at what we will have come New Year's: With all but 10 House races decided, our only bright spot in the country is that southern New England (RI, CT and MA) made a clean sweep. Add to that Blumenthal's victory over Linda McMahon in the CT Senate race, former liberal Republican Lincoln Chafee winning his Dad's old Governor's seat and Deval Patrick easily winning re-election as Massachusetts' chief executive. We did our part but the same can't be said for the rest of the country.

    At this moment, Republicans now have 240 House seats and almost took the majority in the Senate. And, most disheartening, while we lost liberal icons Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson, not one Republican incumbent of any consequence lost their seat in either chamber. Even Lisa Murkowski, as one of 1600 qualified write-in candidates in Alaska, beat Joe Miller by 7 points. Yes, Joe Miller was so repulsive to even right-leaning Alaska, that "One of the 1600 above" was preferable to him.

    Meanwhile, we now have psychopaths like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul about to enter the Senate and we were treated to presumptive House Speaker John Boehner weeping before a plexiglass podium like a bi-polar Oompa-Loompa.

    Here's an idea: We ought to make an Act of Congress that permanently rescinds your right to vote if you sit out two elections in a row. How one can call oneself an American while refusing to vote yet whining about who gets in, who gets tossed out while accepting federal benefits in a countless variety of ways is loathsome, despicable and ought to be grounds for a recission in citizenship or at least some of its benefits.

    And while the will of the people who did vote ought to be respected, since voting is the very heart of a democracy, one must nonetheless marvel at the sheer disconnect, the panic and the absolute fingers-in-the-ears, head-shaking, stubborn ignorance that went with sweeping back into power the Republicans, the very same people who'd gotten us into this mess, the very same party whose entire strategy boils down to, "Less regulations, less taxes and No to everything Obama wants."

    And when the inevitable gridlock get us even less reform and protection over the next two years, we're going to take it out on Obama twice as mercilessly as we did last night. And, like the last midterms in '06, voter dissatisfaction had victimized the President's party as if the legislative and executive branches were the one and the same.

    Except in '06, we at least had a point. This time around, we didn't. And many of us chose to stay home.

    Russ Feingold stood up to Obama and his excesses in Afghanistan and foot-dragging in Iraq. So did Alan Grayson, who also stood up to the evil banks and the Fed. But Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson didn't lose to other men: They lost to ultra right wing corporations too ashamed and cowardly to admit who they were financing. They lost to the US Chamber of Commerce that openly champions hollowing out the American workforce by outsourcing jobs to foreign countries that pay pay them "dues". They lost to the US Supreme Court and their stupendously brazen and pro-corporate decision named, ironically, Citizens United vs the FEC. Consider last night's results a test drive for Citizen's United in 2012.

    The citizens of this country have been anything but united since 9/11 and the SCOTUS's decision only proves that even 45% of our citizens united with the common desire to vote is no match for a handful of corporations and their political arm in the Chamber of Commerce.

    You have only yourselves to blame and I have nothing but withering contempt for every single last one of you.

    You just put back in power a party that is largely if not entirely responsible for everything that is wrong with this country, as if the GOP learned their lessons from their "thumpin'" of four years ago and will finally get things right this time, as if this wasn't the party that also voted for the bailout that allowed executives to resume handing each other billions of our tax dollars as bonuses, the GOP that called you a bum for needing UI extensions because your job was outsourced by them to Asia or Mexico, as if the GOP actually has a plan to help you keep your house after that same party repealed Glass-Steagall (with new Senator-elect Pat Toomey's help) and took away your right to file for bankruptcy.

    The same party that started needless and illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to no appreciable benefit to either of our three countries and eventually cost us trillions bloating the military-industrial complex, the party that wanted to deport over 11,000,000 hard-working brown people, wanted to spy on you without FISA court warrants, that strive to make our children more ignorant in schools, to make abortion illegal even in cases of incest or rape, the same party that is bound and determined to remove the very last sinew of regulation on any industry even as they're polluting our ecosystem and killing us. The same party that demonized African Americans after Katrina, wounded veterans when their neglect was revealed and the newly unemployed and homeless when they understandably looked to our government for help.

    These are the people to whom you've handed back the keys to our seat of government. We took a half a step in the right direction away from the Bush-era fireball of failure and are now about to take ten steps back into the Low Dark Ages. They have learned nothing, never will learn anything and months ago were already vowing to impeach our president for spurious reasons and to block his every objective that isn't named after Afghanistan.

    Bravo. Well done. And I hope you all rot in the hell you've just accelerated. Because if you thought this midterm election was brutish, long and nasty, imagine what things will be like in two years.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    You Know What You Need to Do

    If you're here, of all places, then you don't need me to stress to you the importance of voting. Michael Moore said it pretty eloquently at HuffPo and elsewhere and between Moore and Rachel Maddow, they make a pretty good case as to why Democrats and liberals especially have to both vote and to get out the vote.

    But no matter how eloquent, persuasive and right these arguments are, this time around they come off as sounding pretty desperate, don't they? Too many of us are listening to pundits like Karl Rove and the always-wrong Dick "The Ultimate Political Blowback" Morris, people whose prognostications have been telling us for a year or more that the Democrats are doomed, that they'll certainly lose the House and perhaps even the Senate.

    Well, the only way that's going to happen is if you sit on your keisters during this election and not vote your conscience. And if you have a conscience, then you'll know what you have to do. As I said, if you're here, then you don't need ole JP to tell you about how wonderful and important it is to have the right to vote for the person and ballot measure of your choice. But if you know any left-leaning people who plan on staying home until the polls close, it's your moral responsibility to get them up and at the polls if they're registered to vote. And if they're not registered, it's also your moral responsibility to get them to register for 2012.

    Because you know what'll happen if we treat this like any other midterm, where a good turnout is something approaching 40%. This particular midterm is, if anything, more important than most. We've seen open rebellion against a tepid, mainstream, middle of the road, centrist president who's helped give us a faint whiff of actual reform and a Congress that's hardly any more committed.

    But that's a damn sight more than what you'll get with a Republican-dominated Congress. With a Republican Congress, you'll see the endless extension of the Bush tax cuts that have helped bankrupt us so the wealthy can get even more bloated. We'll see the last of any regulation of the corporate sector that's also bankrupted us as well as polluted our southern shoreline for decades.

    Don't believe me? Remember what things were like when the GOP dominated Congress during those four crucial years between 2003-2007? We saw our nation go to war with a much smaller sovereign country that had nothing to do with 9/11. We saw the disappearance of a major American city due to shocking federal neglect. We lost the right to file for bankruptcy, the economy was ready to burst, and innocent Iraqis and disabled American servicemen were suddenly the villains when news surfaced that we were abusing and neglecting them.

    "Liberal" became a four letter word more than ever and a grieving war mother named Cindy Sheehan had to remind us of our humanity and how wrong the Iraq war was by taking a lonely stand in a ditch in Crawford, Texas.

    Yeah, you remember. Remember how the 2006 midterms couldn't come fast enough and we all said out loud or to ourselves, "When, O when are the midterms coming so we can vote these bums out?" And you did the right thing.

    Well, we're about to do the same thing but to the wrong party. I don't believe for a minute that the GOP will take either chamber of Congress and I think by late tonight I'll be proven right again. But the Tea Baggers, thanks to the MSM, think they have the upper hand. They're hopped up like crystal meth freaks on Viagra and Spanish Fly.

    Let me make one thing perfectly clear: If the GOP takes either chamber of Congress, it won't be because of a tide of Red Republican votes but through the dam of backed-up votes denied the Democrats by lazy faux liberals and other moderates. Remember the words of that inestimable friend of Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, when he wrote, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

    You all know what you gotta do.

    Maybe we can all take a lesson from Gen. George S. Patton in his famous speech to the 3rd Army. Here's Patton's speech, slightly revised in bold for Election Day:
    "People, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this election, not wanting to vote, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real Americans and all real Americans like to fight.

    Well, despite what Jon Stewart told us at the rally, this election is a fight because the other side has made it a fight. Unlike us, Mr. Stewart, the GOP and its Tea Bagger overseers are resorting to threats, intimidation and outright disinformation, such as in Kansas.

    And if the GOP somehow gains either chamber of the legislative branch, the new majority party, drunk on its Koolaid-fueled power, will suddenly remember all about the impeachment process and we'll see one set of articles of impeachment after another against President Obama, only without Monica Lewinsky. God help us if those sick cocksuckers take over the Senate, also. That will make even whatever tepid and middling reforms we'd ever get out of this White House over the next two years harder to bring about if the President has to needlessly fend off one silly article of impeachment after another.

    Because to the Other Side that Jon Stewart insists on calling passionate Americans with real convictions, it's about preventing gay people from marrying, it's about deporting hardworking, taxpaying brown people, it's about putting a white guy back in the White House, it's about extending tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%, it's about abortion, it's about allowing corporations like BP to continue fucking up our ecosystem. It's about everything but what really counts because the last thing the Republican Party needs or wants is a government that actually fucking works.

    To quote Patton one more time: "Alright now, you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel."

    Now get out and do the right thing.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Rally to Restore Toll Booths, Gas Stations and other Highway Robbers

    Anyone who's ever known me for even a day knows that I hate interstate travel. The last time I drove for more than a couple of hours was in 1989 when my ex-girlfriend and I drove from western MA to Mississippi. Then, a few months later, we had to drive back when the glorious family reunion with her two grown kids didn't turn out so glorious, after all. Eight days after we arrived, she was whining about missing MA. In my paranoid state of mind, highways are built expressly to kill people and over the course of a 500 mile road trip and back, there are literally countless possibilities for becoming road kill.

    As Mike Flannigan says in American Zen:
    The ride to Connecticut was thankfully uneventful. I don’t know why a man my age, with three decades of safe driving under his belt, can’t take a safe little trip from Rhode Island to Connecticut for granted but the fact is I don’t. If I have to go some place that’s further away than the convenience store down the street, I think it’s somewhat surprising that I get to my destination. If it involves swinging onto a highway onramp, I think a safe trip is like a Biblical miracle.

    That’s my biggest failing, if I have to pick one: My occasional obsessive/compulsive need to analyze shit down to its atomic structure. It may serve me in good stead as a political journalist/blogger since looking at things from differing viewpoints is crucial to understanding and explicating a thorny issue. However, it can be cumbersome for me and others when my OCD is applied to real life.

    Take, for instance, my fear of driving. While other people zip by me at 70-75 mph, I’m thinking of how fast I could get killed, at how absurdly easy it would be to not have a death-free and satisfactory journey. And, to be fair to me, think about it for a minute:

    Consider all the perfectly-timed, impeccably executed decisions that one has to make, a flawless string of pearls that one has to make to get to where they’re going in one piece. Don’t tailgate, look before you switch lanes, get in the proper lane before turning off, look out for erratic drivers, pay attention to strange sounds that your or someone’s car may make, keep an eye out for signs, be alert for people who legally and especially illegally pass you…

    There’s so much to think about, it freaks me out when do I think about it. I envy those who can brainlessly take their safety for granted.

    Mike and I differ in several ways but that's pure JP talking.

    Ergo, when Mrs. JP and I got sucked into the Stewart/Colbert rally hype like a pair of over-the-hill lemmings and debated whether to take Arianna's buses from Boston, we'd decided the best way to go in the interests of freedom was to take our new/used '98 Ford Taurus to Arlington, VA where she had a friend who'd put us up for the w/e.

    So we packed the Ford Friday morning and began an 11 hour odyssey that Mapquest told us would take a mere eight hours and three minutes. What Mapquest can't anticipate is bottlenecks in traffic for no earthly reason. At least six times just on the way down, traffic had slowed to a crawl or standstill even when there wasn't an accident, major exit, lane merge, toll booth, construction or for any other reason. It was as if one driver in each of the three lanes just decided, "Fuck it. I'm going to stop here and jerk off all over my windshield."

    But toll booths certainly were the most egregious reasons for the parking lots we had to sit in, especially in Manhattan at the George Washington Bridge (aptly shortened to the GWB). On the way back home last night, we sat in traffic for literally an hour while apathetic toll booth drones extracted $8 from each of us. With a dozen toll lanes open, only four were dedicated to those with cash. It's inconceivable that so many thousands of people would find themselves trapped on I-95 in Manhattan at 7 o'clock on Halloween night but there we were.

    (A word of caution for those of you on the east coast who may be planning a long road trip involving I-95- Avoid Delaware like the plague that it is. Reader Diva texted me on the way down to get out of Delaware ASAP and I found out the hard way what she meant. The entire state is a mere 10 square miles but they have more toll booths than they do papers of incorporation and will charge you top dollar for the privilege of crawling along their miserable little roadways at 15 miles an hour. I was barely aware that Delaware was a state and, after importing Joe Biden and Christine O'Donnell (whose campaign signs we had to endure along the roadway), we ought to have a Act of Congress that officially allows us to forget Delaware's statehood. As it is, it's barely fit to be a suburb of fucking Trenton, NJ.)

    So even though we left around 9 AM, we didn't roll into Arlington until about 8 that night. The next day, thinking that the rally would last until 6 PM, we left the house around noon and tried to get on the DC Metro. Once again, incredulity reigned. We paid $14 for round trip tickets for the privilege of standing on the platform for (I shit you not) almost an hour and a half. A total of five trains stopped at Ballston MU and, even though we were at the edge of the platform, we couldn't get on. The people on them were packed in like cigarettes and every time the doors opened, they'd scream, "No!" It didn't make sense for the trains to stop because literally 2-5% of us on the platform could squeeze in. Meanwhile, the platform got more and more crowded as people kept streaming down the escalator.

    I can't believe the Metro authoreities didn't plan on there being an extra 200,000 people in the Metro area because of the rally (Read Joe of Joe. My. God. for his own account of the DC Metro.).

    So, while I was having Charles Bronson fantasies and watching one train after another take off without us, I just grabbed Mrs. JP's hand and practically dragged her up the disabled escalator. We stopped at an IHOP next door for a quick pancake breakfast while I loudly railed for anyone to hear about the benefits of eugenics. Afterward, we took a cab in front of the Hilton to the rally. It cost us $20 plus the tip but it was worth it (or so we thought). I was not going to drive nearly 24 hours to get to a rally that we'd miss.

    Well, as else anyone who was actually there can tell you, you'll know the rally ended after Tony Bennett sang at about 2:30. The cabbie dropped us off a few blocks from where the rally was between 3rd and 7th streets and it took us until after 2:30 to get to the head of the cordoned-off area. I got a glimpse of Jon Stewart and Tony Bennett on the Jumbotron and by the time we got to the cordon, the event staff was already breaking down the massive stage.

    Luckily, we were able to get a Capitol cop to kindly give us directions to the nearest Metro station on 3rd street and we took a thankfully uneventful and comfortable train ride back to Ballston where out friend took us home.

    The timing on the 30th was our fault but it can't be said that the DC Metro did anyone any great favors by not factoring in what turned out to be an extra 200,000 people (according to the CBC) in the DC area. They sold well over 800,000 tickets but who knows how many were worthless because of the crowding? And idiotic drivers and rapacious and mobbed-up Turnpike authorities needlessly holding up traffic was also beyond our control. Thank the Powers That Be that our 12 year-old girl faithfully navigated us through nearly 1000 miles of hostile highway without a single hitch.

    As you can see from the pictures I'd already posted, we saw some great signs, met some really laid-back and nice fellow liberals and one incredible guy in a dress made up entirely of candy bracelets (to his mortification, I stuffed a dollar into it but failed to save the picture I took). Cigarettes are literally half the price, it being tobacco country, and it was nice meeting my SO's best friend from Rhode Island.

    But with the 11 hour trip back last night, that meant we drove just over 22 hours to attend the final hour of the rally without actually seeing any of it. 22 hours, almost $50 in tolls and about $120 in gasoline. No, it was so incredibly not worth it. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, Mrs. JP and I will be homebodies regardless what Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and our overlord Markos cook up. It was a needlessly expensive, frustrating, infuriating and exhausting road trip.