Friday, December 31, 2010

Our Dick Cheney

Here’s how it basically went down:


“All right, ya rat fuck. I got you dead to rights. You an' me both know ya bribed some fuck who already pled guilty to bribery and corruption. So here’s da deal: Pay a $26,000,000 bribe to da state treasury, stay the fuck away from peoples’ pensions for the rest of your life and we can fugettiaboutit, huh?”


“Go fuck yourself.”


“Oh, that so, tough guy? OK, lemme put it in toims even you can unnerstand: Give us a $20,000,000 bribe and we both walk away.”


“You ever heard of ‘sloppy seconds’, Andy?”


“OK, ya rat fucker, Final offer: Ya pay us $10 million in bribes and ya stay away from New York Securities fer two years. Dat’s my final offer, doitbag. Take it or leave it.”






"Hold on a minute, leg breaker."


“Take it, Stevie. It’s the best deal you’ll get."
"But I got him where I want him, Barry! Another couple of minutes, he'll let me fuck his new trophy wife."
"Look, Dick Cheney’s thugs had to pay a quarter of a billion to Nigeria to get his fat, pasty ass off the hook, for crissake.”
"Oh, all right."


“Well? I’m waitin’!”


“On the advice of counsel, I’ll take it. But you’d better blow me first before you’re sworn in. And you better go easy on the back stroke, ya toothy wop.”


“Once again, justice is soived! Well, I’m off to da Governor’s mansion.”
"Andy, I'm waiting!"

Yeah, basically it went down exactly like that.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The News at a Furtive Glance


Good morning, comrades! Isn't it another gorgeous day in the empire? Let's open up the old newspaper and see what's awaiting us. OH SHIT, OH SHIT, OH SHIT, WE'RE ALL FUCKED, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! OMFG!!!!!!!

Just kidding. It's not really that bad.

It's worse.

I know that he won a Nobel Peace Prize and all. But what I'd like to know is where Obama thinks he'll borrow the moral authority (China, maybe?) to privately confront Pakistan about Taliban militants disappearing in their secret prisons and being executed without judicial review. I mean, really, Barry, this concern trolling is coming from the same exact country that literally wrote the fucking book on black prisons, extraordinary rendition and putting out contracts on its own citizens... without judicial review.

Newspaper wags are saying that the day after Xmas snow storm will be NJ Gov. Chris Christie's Katrina. Nonsense. At least Bush flew overhead a couple of times and actually saw the devastation in New Orleans. The Twitterverse and blogosphere is all in flames over New Jersey's chief executive taking off for Disney World on Sunday, the day the snowstorm hit and paralyzing much of the upper east coast. What makes it look really bad is that New Jersey's Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno went on vacation at the same exact time. In fact, she couldn't even keep the money at home. She went to Mexico. Meanwhile, the state of emergency had to be called by the state's Senate President, Stephen Sweeney. That's right. The heavy lifting is being figuratively done by a Democratic Senate president, literally by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, another Democrat.

Meanwhile, there's no feedback forthcoming from the Magic Kingdom. America's laziest governor since Sarah Palin has been incommunicado since he left.

Another winner of a Governor, Mississippi strong man Haley Barbour, is trying to get the taste of grits out of his mouth after publicly applauding a KKK wannabe outfit. He suspended the life sentences for two sisters who've been rotting in a Mississippi prison for an armed robbery that netted them $11. The suspension came when Barbour learned that one sister volunteered to donate of her kidneys to her ailing sister. Well, wasn't that nice of Barbour? What brought about the sudden humanity?

Oh, her treatment was costing the state too much money. Gee, Haley, you're all heart.

By the way, the sisters are black. Surprise, surprise.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Republicans: Never Too Stupid to be Crooked or Obscenely Lucky.


As with Queen Bee Sarah, the Christine O’Donnell saga never ceases to amaze. This time O’Donnell is the subject of a federal probe addressing allegations that she’s used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses. Naturally, I thought of O’Donnell’s impending book deal, so I thought I’d write another open letter to her scumbag literary agent Daniel Strone, CEO of the Trident Media Group.


Dear Danny boy:

Man, you sure know how to pick ‘em. First, you pick to represent someone who is surely the stupidest woman in America and possibly, next to Ayn Rand, the stupidest woman who ever lived. This is a person who doesn’t know the rudiments of the Constitution, beginning with the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights, got only 30,000 people to vote for her in the Delaware GOP Senate primary then got crushed by 17 points on Election Day.

Now she’s a subject of the liveliest interest by the federal government, including the FBI, for using “magic money”, or campaign contributions, to pay for personal expenses.

Danny boy, I never thought of you as being a bleeding heart liberal but I gotta hand it to you, reaching down and pulling Ms. O’Donnell out of her own muck and mire by personally getting for her a huge book deal, sight unseen, is the epitome of a bleeding heart bailout. To see a greater show of generosity, one would have to go back earlier this month to the Congressional Republicans when they bravely sought a third round of bailouts for the wealthiest 2%.

No doubt, the controversy swirling around Ms. O’Donnell as the feds close in on her for using her own campaign war chest as her personal ATM or sugar jar will surely drive up sales regardless of what will be ghost-written for her. Perhaps, if you’re really lucky, Danny boy, she’ll prove to be as controversial as other frauds who signed big book deals. I’m thinking specifically of the guy who faked Howard Hughes’ and Adolph Hitler’s memoirs. Maybe O’Donnell will oblige by titling her own biography “Going Rogue” or "America by Heart."

Indeed, Mr. Strone (do you have kids and, if so, are they ridiculed by their peers as “mini-strones”? Just curious), you could not have chosen to elevate from base criminality a better candidate for respectability than if you’d gone to mug shot websites and picked a crack whore or pickpocket or husband killer using the eenie meenie miney mo/dart-over-the-shoulder process obviously used by John McCain when he was still hunting for a running mate.


"Now, open that wallet, bitch! I got radio spots and 6 months of back rent to pay for!"

After all, look what Aileen Wuornos did for true crime nonfiction and the popcorn concession industry (aka the movie industry) when some hot blonde chick underwent a makeunder and played her. And O’Donnell could be the political analogue of the protagonist of Monster. Knowing Christine, who even lies about fingering her clit, she’ll use the same excuse that Wuornos used: “How was I to know that all that money given to me by all those horny men would wind up in the central accounts of my landlord, insurance companies and utility companies?”

Except now she’ll have a huge book contract, courtesy of you and St. Martin’s Press, surely the greatest blow to American literacy since Robert James Waller and Joe the fucking Plumber were signed. So you may have screwed the pooch there a bit.

Still, controversy sells books. Well, maybe not for OJ “If I Did It” Simpson but usually it sells. So who cares that I’m brilliant and talented and can actually write my own stuff? I deserve each and every one of the several dozens of form rejection letters and cold shoulders I’ve gotten, including some from your agency, in response to my hundreds of queries and proposals because I wasn’t smart enough to run for a national office for which I was vastly unqualified.

Because the more that I, and other writers of actual talent, circle around the rim of the toilet of the publishing/literary representation business, the more we realize that talent, diligence and obeying the rules and laws of the land doesn’t count for a dung hill. It’s flouting the laws, reaching beyond one’s grasp and being a shining, ignorant example that if you’re a Republican, you’re never too stupid to be crooked or obscenely lucky.

So when are you going to go out and get Tom “Dancing With the ‘Tards” DeLay and Duke Cunningham?

Robert Crawford, author of American Zen.

Laffing All the Way to the Bank


And the moral, boys and girls, is that taxes are evil and shame on the liberals for chasing away the multimillionaires and billionaires. So saith Fox Business News and Art Laffer.

For those of you who don’t live in Oregon and had never heard of Measure 66 and its little sister, Measure 67, here’s a newspaper article from last August to give you the rundown. And even though the tax cuts were extended by another two years, right wingers are still pouncing on Oregon as a bellwether of what would’ve happened if the federal government had (gasp!! O, the horrors!) let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2%.



That’s why Fox Business trotted out Art Laffer, a smiling psychopath reminiscent of that laughing doll in the Saw series. Art Laffer is the guy falsely credited with the Laffer Curve (even Laffer said it wasn’t an original concept) that would become part of the hallowed bedrock of the uberdestructive economic clusterfuck known as Reaganomics or Supply Side economics that saw personal income tax go down from 70% to 31%.

At least half of the Laffer Curve (which gained traction after it was explained in 1974 to none other than Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney) springs from a straw man argument. According to this misleading, oversimplified graph, revenue would plainly be nonexistent if the tax rate was 0%. But then Laffer went to the other extreme and said that tax revenue would also be nonexistent if it was 100%, something no politician in his or her right mind would ever propose.



You would think the magic number that the Laffer Curve purports to seek is somewhere around 50%, which would be acceptable to a lot of liberals and progressives but you’d be wrong. Essentially, Laffer’s curve says, with a straight face, that the less we tax the rich, the more income states and the federal government generate. The more we tax the wealthy, the less revenue we’ll generate because we’ll scare them away.

The Laffer Curve was novel only in the respect that, like Issac Asimov’s psychohistory, it sought to predict trends in human behavior by using as its rubric largely ridiculous tax scenarios (0% and 100% tax rates). Laffer’s curve advocates the wealthy paying just barely enough taxes to keep things running but doesn’t call the wealthy on being the greedy sociopaths they largely are.

And this is exactly what happened in Oregon this year. When Measure 66 (raising individual tax rates) and Measure 67 (raising tax rates on corporations) went into law, the landed gentry in Oregon were terrorized that they may not be able to afford that third house or 10th car and fled like bloated rats leaving a slightly listing ship.

And, according to Fox Business News and Art Laffer, it’s all the fault of stupid liberal, tax-thirsty Democrat politicians. It’s also serving as a morality tale on what would’ve happened if we’d “raised” taxes on the wealthy after this Saturday. The wealthy would’ve simply fled the country and bought a villa on the Riviera or 100,000 acres in Paraguay. Or, heaven help us, ship American jobs by the millions overseas by folding up their tents while still enjoying tax breaks and incentives for doing so.

Reality time out: Measures 66 and 67 were passed by a statewide ballot. Democrats, alarmed at the $733 million dollar shortfall in the 2009-11 budgets, logically sought higher taxes for the wealthiest families making $250,000 and individuals making half that much. The people of Oregon, at least those not making six and seven figure incomes, wanted this. So, according to Art Laffer and the Fox ventriloquist dummy on the left, blame democracy. Or blame liberal Democrat pols. Blame everyone but the wealthy and their greed-motivated selfishness.

And the wealthiest, alarmed at having their tax rates modestly raised a couple of percentage points, took their expensive ball and left the state. This was also predictable. The same thing happened in other states, most notably in Maryland in 2008 when the state legislature instituted their own millionaire tax.

But to listen to right wingers talk, it’s all the fault of the evil liberal politicians killing the goose that laid the golden egg because they wanted to maintain funding of schools and social services instead of having to lay people off.

It’s not the fault of the wealthy who have never once felt themselves to be part of a community and have for centuries if not millenniums felt as if they were not responsible for the general welfare of a system that had enabled them to amass great individual wealth without a shred of individual responsibility.

The Laffer Curve so warmly embraced by Ronald Reagan, a man still terrified of the memory of his poverty-stricken days in Hollywood when his tax rate was 90% when he was still a successful actor and president of a union known as the Screen Actors Guild, is completely supported under the proposition that while the wealthy cannot be called on or criticized for such cowardly and selfish behavior, those who set the tax code should be ashamed of themselves for making the wealthy resort to economic treason.

It automatically absolves or shields the wealthy of any lack of responsibility to a capitalistic system of goods and services and taxation that was so good to it, sociopaths who have grabbed all they could for themselves like mortgage lenders in a Las Vegas money booth.

Laffer also makes a sweeping, and very wrong, assumption that all wealthy people are “job producers” who are perfectly free and perfectly right to simply fold up their tents and take their jobs with them when any liberal even whispers the words “shared sacrifice.” They are not all job producers. Aside from the team of 24 massage therapists and crane operators required to give him a full body massage, how many people does Rush Limbaugh actually employ? And, a few minimum wage-earning horse groomers and landscapers aside, how many does Lou Dobbs actually employ?

The Laffer Curve is simply, aside from Milton Friedman, the single most destructive economic force in our nation’s history. It advocates taking money out of the federal and state treasuries without assigning any culpability to the wealthiest who are portrayed more as victims for being burdened with higher taxes than as economic hit men for shirking their tax duties. These are the same exact people who have no use for a centralized government except for when they want oversight and regulations lifted and their taxes lowered even more regardless of the deficit, national debt, inflation and levels of unemployment.

The Laffer Curve, and supply side economics, should’ve been put to pasture no later than the Reagan administration that tripled the debt while lowering personal income taxes from 70% to 31%. National economies are like massive ponds and the ripples of what we did or didn’t do sometimes decades before are still shaping the face of that pond. The few boom years we had under Clinton were a mere respite from the long-term, decades-long damage under Reagan-Bush I that hasn’t even been accurately or comprehensively catalogued. It’s a slide toward complete and utter ruin, with a tax code that is predicated entirely on personal greed while going after much poorer people who can’t hire tax attorneys when they get audited for sums in multiples of hundreds.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

American Life in Stasis


It’s a paradox, really.

The further you travel, the wider your opportunities even as the end of the road poking the horizon narrows to the head of a pin. The hand gets slick on the wheel and your eyes gloss over the seemingly endless spool of white or yellow paint in the middle of the road.

What’s that? The rumble strip or the intermittent pieces of metal they put in the middle of the road to warn you you’re about to get hypnotized into one undesirable direction or another. The road never seems to reach its termination yet your gas tank gets lower and lower and the engine gets hotter and hotter.

This is what it’s like being unemployed year after year. Predatory creditors and temp agencies dot the road while getting more and more numerous, little Rutger Hauers and Sean Beans just writhing to climb into your car and to do what they do worst.

Maybe if you’re smart, you’ll learn before it’s too late not to pick up strangers. Those with better cars than you learned that long ago. They’d learned that the people without cars are precisely the ones you should not and cannot help. Employers and literary agencies also learned that Randian lesson- not to give a helping hand to the unemployed and the unpublished.

On second thought, Gentle Reader, this isn’t Highway 66, its wide, arable land of opportunities beckoning with its inaudible siren calls. It’s Death Valley and only those with referrals worn on the chest like pasteboard placards offering work for food can get considered.

It wasn’t like this when I first got my driver’s license. Back in 1978, I was a fresh-faced 19 year-old kid just out on his own making just over $3 an hour and still able to support myself and put money in the bank every week. If my father drummed anything into my sieve of a skull, it was this:

Pay your own way, in cash, live within your means and you’ll do just fine, sonny boy.

My Dad had one, maybe two credit cards and maintained a respectable line of credit that he only dipped into when he had to. Back then, it wasn’t so easy to get a credit card. You had to prove you needed it and that you were solvent enough to get one. It was a privilege having a credit card.

By the 80’s, dogs were getting gold cards.

But then, slowly but surely, something evil began happening on the road of my life that even my dear old, trusted, pragmatic Dad couldn’t have foreseen.

By the early 90’s, potential employers interviewing for crappy, dead-end retail jobs began doing background checks on one’s credit history. By now, it’s almost the norm. Now, to even get a consideration for an even crappier temp job at minimum wage, you’re made to take literacy tests, math tests, quizzes on safety films, eye tests, pass CORI (criminal background), drug and credit rating checks.

Dad, oh Daddy-O, how could you not see this coming? You used to work for Digital. Why didn’t you tell me that the day would come when a guy could hardly hope for a job unless he took some computer science or software class?

Not that they even exist, anymore. Now, the US Chamber of Commerce has made the road more desolate than ever by not so secretly outsourcing jobs overseas to get around that irritating minimum wage so people in the Third World can do the same jobs for pennies an hour, jobs for which we’d trained ourselves at our expense or on the government's dime (until Reagan and David Stockman destroyed CETA).

Somewhere around the same time, credit card companies and other lenders also realized that their customers paying their bills on time was such an antiquated way of doing business. Now, they’ve found a way to make lots more money by stacking the deck against you and making you default on your credit card and mortgage payments and raising your formerly low APR just because you paid late a bill that was completely unrelated to your card.

And, even if you, despite all that goal-post moving, continue making your mortgage payments on time and even own your house outright, well, places like Bank of America found their way around that pesky little ownership thingie, too, and just foreclose on you by signing you up for credit-destroying home loan modifications even if you don’t ask for it.

So, in summation, the road gets drier and more desolate, save for the occasional Rutger Hauers, Sean Beans and other assorted and sundry predators and you’re literally running on fumes. The government that has victimized you by giving away trillions to the same predators who are even now cinching the noose tighter and tighter as jobs are harder and harder to get helps you out once in a while by sending a tow truck your way that’ll drop you off at an abandoned gas station where you’re then left to your own devices. The little bit of help they intermittently give gets you just enough gas to break down within towing distance of the next gas station and the end of the road is now the point of a dagger stabbing at the bruised underbelly of heaven.

Wall Street’s craps game with derivatives and mortgage-backed securities has cost us millions of jobs. The US Chamber of Commerce has cost us millions more with its brazen, despicable agenda to outsource as many manufacturing jobs as possible. And corporations, whether at the behest of Tom Donohue or not, are outsourcing more jobs to be done for as little as .03¢ an hour, have outsourced countless millions more while still enjoying the tax breaks that offshore corporations still get to this day.

But the little guy driving his car still has to pay his state, federal and excise taxes on his overheating car every year. It’s a Mad Max movie out there and the Mohawked lunatics with the bigger and better jalopies are winning the war.

And you wonder as you shift the wheel a bit this way and that, trying to keep it straight and narrow, when things will begin to change and what that would have to involve. Those on the left and right side of the shimmering road can easily agree that our country and the government that guides it has been completely taken over by, or merged with, the corporate sector.

Heaven has run out of manna and saviors and we've killed off the last Good Samaritans. When will it end and when will the common man finally get a break on the wayside? Or is that even in the works?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top 25 Dick Cheney Facts








We've all seen the lists with thousands of Chuck Norris facts so I thought it was high time that someone compiled a list of Dick Cheney facts.
• Dick Cheney does not sign contracts with the Devil- He makes the Devil offers he can’t refuse.
• Dick Cheney’s burps smell like Iraqi infants.
• Dick Cheney is so evil serial killers follow him with notebooks.
• Dick Cheney shot 78 year-old Harry Wittington in the face because he reminded him of Santa Claus.
• Dick Cheney is so crooked when he threw out the first pitch at a Nationals game, it curved into the center field bleachers.
• Every time you hear a bell ring, Dick Cheney’s killed someone.
• There is no gravity. That’s Dick Cheney sucking the marrow out of the bones of Third Worlders.
• Dick Cheney doesn’t have heart attacks. That’s just Hell trying to break loose.
• Dick Cheney doesn’t have a defibrillator but a Halliburton pump station.
• People actually go fuck themselves if Dick Cheney tells them to.
• Dick Cheney’s new house is in the center of Mordor.
• Fox News is the nation’s highest rated cable news channel because Dick Cheney tells everyone else to tune in.
• Dick Cheney got five war deferments and five more deferments that kept him out of Hell.
• Nostradamus warned us about Dick Cheney.
• Dick Cheney never hired a Chief of Staff that didn’t have an FBI Behavioral Science profile.
• Dick Cheney plays Monopoly with real Middle Eastern countries.
• Dick Cheney doesn’t endorse candidates. He puts out contracts on their opponents.
• There’s no such thing as rain. Dick Cheney makes God cry.
• Conservatives aren’t stupid. Dick Cheney just sucks all the oxygen out of the room.
• Dick Cheney hasn’t lost weight. All his Wall Street buddies just got more bloated.
• The Republican Party insisted on tax cuts for the richest 2% so Dick Cheney wouldn’t snarl at them.
• Eve sprang from Adam’s rib but Liz Cheney had sprung from Dick Cheney’s bile duct.
• Dick Cheney doesn’t shoot game anymore but stalks and strangles them with his bare hands.
• Dick Cheney once made General Pinochet stand in a corner for an hour for not killing enough liberals in Chile.
• Dick Cheney is so evil he drinks Agent Orange as a soft drink.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas with the Wife and Kid

Last night was an adventure in Christmas gift wrapping. As with last year, Popeye kept pawing at the presents even as I was trying to wrap them, especially the cat toys on which I'd sprinkled cat nip. Unlike last year, the little shit didn't get his way and had to wait until this morning like everyone else.







.oO WTF was he thinking? Oo. "I mean, thank you, honey!"


As usual, the annual frogs calendar was a big hit.




.oO Hm. Spicy sausages. Is he trying to tell me something? Oo.


Peace on earth... finally.

Christmas, 1914-5


(This was a post I'd put up on Christmas Day two years ago. Out of my thousands of posts written over the last six years, it's one of my personal favorites and I just thought it was worth reposting. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all and may today, and every day thereafter, be marked with joy, love for your fellow man, safety and hope.)

Every Christmas, ever since the invasion of Iraq, I remind myself of the moving and legendary Christmas truce between British and German forces that took place in 1914. Actually, contrary to most any other historical event, rather than being exaggerated, the truce, singular, is actually downplayed and scaled down. The cease-fire between opposing sides on Christmas Eve 1914 was more widespread and longer-lasting, even spawning at least two sequels in the two succeeding years.

The First World War was one of the most barbaric ever, the century's first global clash of nations using mechanized tools of war. Unlike previous wars, dogfights between pilots in airplanes were common and the strange spectacle of diesel-powered tanks dipping and rumbling across the cratered terrain of European battlefields had easily led people to believe that war between humans had crossed that threshhold into the inhuman.

Which is why the story of the Christmas truce between enemies during this same war is all the more remarkable. It's a still-heartening reminder that, while the technology of war had evolved, the human heart had remained constant and good will toward one's fellow man had yet to become a quaint notion.

When German soldiers were observed decorating their foxholes and barricades and overheard singing Christmas carols, the British soldiers across No Man's Land had responded in kind. Soon, soldiers approached eachother, their hands up, without permission from their officers and a truce was declared. Presents such as jam, cigars, cigarettes and so forth were exchanged. Equipment was also exchanged between sides so living conditions could be improved. The dead left out in No Man's Land were buried and mourned by both sides.

Then someone proposed playing a game of soccer. Actually, several soccer games broke out. The high command of both sides were outraged this was going on but were powerless to stop it since many of their lower field officers had happily joined in the abrupt festivities.

Similar stories began emerging that this had happened among French and Belgian forces. Perhaps photographs of loved ones were traded during the truce and whatever little communication there was between French, Belgian, English and German troops spoke of simple, common pleasures. As with the current Pope Benedict today, the last, Benedict XV, had earlier that year called for an end to the bloodshed.

Contrary to popular belief, these truces lasted longer than Christmas. According to several accounts by those who were there, the truce actually lasted for the better part of a week and wouldn't resume until fresh troops would relieve the ones who'd lain down their arms.

It was a very necessary reminder to these men that whatever advances had been made in war technology, the mustard gases and ugly machines that had taken over the landscape, humans were still humans the world over and fellow Christians could still find some common ground and celebrate a common holiday, putting a world war and the unimaginable human devastation on a back burner.

It is impossible to imagine anything like that happening these days, partly because we are fighting a nebulous enemy that wears no uniforms, carries no identification cards or dog tags nor even shares our religion or celebrates our holidays.

But the differences in religion don't fully explain the new breed of barbarity we're seeing in the world today. War has gotten more impersonal than ever with longer-range weapons, faster and harder tanks and laser-guided smart bombs yet when it gets down to it, it can still get quite personal and ugly.

Maybe, as Albert Einstein said, the fourth world war will be fought with rocks and Mankind will once again be able to see the whites of eachother's eyes as they try to kill and maim eachother again. And perhaps that proximity in the absence of sophisticated war technology will better remind these future enemies that Christmas and Easter afford irresistible opportunities for them to recognize and celebrate eachothers' similarties instead of hating them for their differences.

The truces of 1914-5 were held in defiance of generals and politicians who had seen no place for the Christmas spirit in the alien desolation of the battlefields. This defiance in defense of what is fundamentally and universally human is something we're seeing all too infrequently these days and may never see again.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Desperately Seeking Susan


Meet the real-life Lisbeth Salander.

We live on a planet where it's a perpetual truism that truth, as Lord Byron famously observed, is stranger than fiction. Fiction, especially the kind that depends upon Coleridge's suspension of disbelief, needs to catch up with real life if it is to be taken seriously. Bestselling author James Patterson sagely observed recently that if someone penned a novel about an ex NFL player who murdered his wife and one other man then led the LAPD on a nationally-televised, slow motion chase down a California freeway and had done so before 1994, that person would've been laughed out of the publishing business. As a working novelist myself, I concur.

Therefore, it only follows that Susan Lindauer had to come around years before Lisbeth Salander, the waspish heroine of the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. And, as it so often happens, the real life case has been virtually ignored while the fictional Salander's fictional travails have been, justly, celebrated in both print and film.

I'm shamelessly stealing from journalist Michael Collins' "The Hornet's Nest Kicked Back", his review of Susan Lindauer's new tell-all autobiography, Extreme Prejudice. I've yet to read the book. But then again, this isn't a book review nor does it pretend to be. Let's call this, instead, a review of the Kafkaesque/Orwellian/Larssonian persecution undergone by Lindauer during much of the illegitimate Bush administration.

To anyone who's read Larsson's excellent book, the reasons for paralleling Lindauer's experience with Salander's are obvious. Both women are of Swedish extraction who were then charged with crimes they didn't commit, had their sanity questioned by the Powers That Be and were even illegally incarcerated. Both women had information that could take down their respective governments, which necessitated their disappearance a la Pinochet.

Here's the difference. Salander has celebrity journalist Michael Blomqvist on her side, as well as, eventually, several members of law enforcement.

Aside from her Protean legal team, Lindauer had no one but Michael Collins, a freelancer who hardly has the celebrity of Millennium's publisher and crusading financial journalist. Blomqvist, in Larsson's books, always found himself playing private detective and either insinuating himself into the official investigation into Salander or running his own parallel investigation with the laissez-faire freedom that only a crusading, nationally-known, therefore dangerous journalist of Blomqvist's stature can muster. Collins was virtually the only accredited journalist who consistently took up Lindauer's cause and still is and the mainstream media had hardly touched Lindauer. Salander, at least, was the source of tabloid fodder in Sweden and had ridiculous stories about being part of a "lesbian Satanic gang" circulated about her.

Salander, in the last two books, was essentially held prisoner from the age of 12 on and victimized by the evil Dr. Peter Teleborian. Lindauer's own Teleborian goes by the name of Sanford L. Drob, PhD.

Drob's diagnosis, if one were to honor his findings with such a dignified word, was to treat Lindauer, literally and figuratively, as if she was too incompetent to defend herself. In fact, Drob's contention was that the more Lindauer called for witnesses who could exonerate her of espionage charges, the more "proof" it was of her delusional structure and persecution complex. In other words, the more she demanded the trial that was forever denied her, the more they kept denying it to her. It was the first time that I'd ever heard of the prosecution claiming the defendant was too incompetent to stand trial.

For those of you just tuning in, the basic reason Lindauer was arrested, detained and accused of espionage was her opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq. She'd written at least 11 letters, some of them to her second cousin, then WH Chief of Staff Andy Card, vehemently advising against such a rash policy of regime change. Lindauer had prophesied, among other things, that invading Iraq would be used as a great recruiting tool for al Qaeda, a fact borne out a few years later when the Flypaper Effect became apparent and our troops found themselves fighting a new enemy called "Al Qaida in Iraq."

What happened to Lindauer, not a covert agent but a supervised intelligence asset, went in some ways even further than the much more publicized Valerie Plame outing. Plame, because of a now-infamous NY Times op-ed written by her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, had her career destroyed and her life put in jeopardy when the late Robert Novak, at the behest of senior Bush administration officials, outed her.

Lindauer was the Nexus phase of the paranoid Bush junta's persecution, losing almost everything in the process yet somehow falling between the cracks. It's impossible to fathom why she'd suffered the same fate as Sibel Edmonds, former translator for the FBI who'd also been vigorously shunned by the MSM.

2002 was not a good year for the Bush administration. That same year, Edmonds had been fired from her translation job at the FBI Washington, DC field office after threatening to make public revelations of federal impropriety that could've endangered national security. This was the exact same rationale used by that same government to persecute Lindauer.

Without going into details (read Lindauer's 466 page book for them. I trust it will make for riveting reading), the federal government:

  • Incarcerated Lindauer at Carswell Federal prison for women beyond the legally permissible time.

  • The prosecution, incredibly, tried to have Lindauer declared mentally incompetent to stand trial, a legal tactic exclusively used by defense attorneys, often in capital crimes cases.

  • Both the prosecution and the psychiatric "experts" who'd had, at best, middling contact with Lindauer, lobbied to have her forcibly drugged with Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic medication.

  • Valuable information, analysis and testimony that could've exonerated Lindauer or at least shed some doubt on her condition and even guilt was deliberately withheld from the court of Michael B. Mukasey, who would later become the Attorney General of the United States.

  • The case was later transferred to Loretta Preska, someone who'd been elevated to a federal court by none other than George W. Bush.

  • The case against Lindauer abruptly lost steam within days of Bush and Cheney, after a massive, self-satisfied burp, waddling out of the White House on January 20th 2009.

  • What's happened to Lindauer, who'd been denied her freedom and credibility and justice for years, her career ruined and sanity questioned, is, if anything, an even more egregious blow to her civil liberties than that endured by Valerie Plame. Yet, the mainstream media, except for followup filler blurbs on Lindauer's court dates, hardly touched it.

    Lindauer's book promises to set the record straight, revealing much more detail about her experience and evidence of the coverup. However, it's telling that the book was published by the obscure CreateSpace and that Extreme Prejudice couldn't get the backing of a literary agent (who are as a whole, on top of being career-driven and greedy, also literarily moronic and cowardly).

    That means we have to get the word out. Because Lindauer is not like Lisbeth Salander in the respect that her own persecution and false imprisonment does not have the massive, money-making PR machine as enjoyed by the estate of Stieg Larsson.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Caption Contest


    By 2012, thanks to the Tea Party and the radical wing of the GOP, even the party's mascot was unrecognizable, now fit only for the Codex Seraphinianus.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    How Conservatives View the Unemployed


    They pretty much look at us and those of us complaining about getting reduced unemployment benefits while the wealthy got an early $801 billion present from Obama and Congress as this tramp determined to have Christmas by stealing from someone else.

    We're hobos for wanting back some of those unemployment benefits that we'd already kicked into all our working lives. "How dare you want to pay your bills because you were thrown out of work and make us pay for your welfare?" is what we're hearing. Well, to those good, momentarily gainfully employed folk, I say, "If you're complaining about an additional $57 billion in extended unemployment benefits that's not even enough to cover our bills, then I can't wait to hear about you bitching about how you'll pay for that $801 billion in tax breaks, not to mention how you'll cover the trillion dollars in lost Social Security taxes over the next decade."

    But it's easiest to kick us around because, unlike the Rush Limbaughs and Lloyd Blankfeins of the world, we're not pulling our weight and collecting $135 a week is so much easier than it is to find work that would easily pay twice that much after taxes.

    Forget the fact that we're raging economic engines who are forced to live hand to mouth and to pump that pittance we got back from the Obama administration into the hands of insurance companies, mortgage lenders in one way or another, petroleum cartels, utility companies and Big Agra and that the wealthiest 2% will simply take those extra billions and stuff them into a CD or money market account. Anybody that can afford to almost absentmindedly stuff an additional several million or two dollars into a bank is someone who doesn't deserve to scream about wanting and needing more.

    So come this Christmastime, this is how we're being portrayed by the right wing and many among the 90.2% of us who are employed in some capacity: Hobos out to steal their trees and presents like some poor man's Grinch. Even though we're not the ones who were bellowing for more tax cuts at the expense of the economy and our childrens' and grandchildrens' futures.

    It's a shortsighted, eliminationist mode of thinking that depends entirely on one's dodgy prospects of hanging onto their job during a time when the US Chamber of Commerce is nakedly and brazenly calling for the destruction of America through the outsourcing of all our manufacturing jobs, leaving only a nation of minimum wage-earning shopkeepers without unionization and without power and without a voice.

    So be it. If the only way to wring compassion out of such people is to be thrust into the same position we were thrust in, to be forced to deal with predatory temp agencies and to drop one resume after another into a black hole, then so be it.

    I'm not going to ask for any more donations because a lot of you are already stretched to the max. Many of you already donate to some blogs and news outlets as well as having to fund your own Christmas and to stay caught up on your bills. But until you were suddenly put out of work and then found yourself to be some unemployable dinosaur and that the skills into which you grew were no longer enough, until you'd found out to your shock that living within your means and paying as you go had actually hurt you because more and more employers insist on doing credit checks, until you've sat in a fast food restaurant during a cattle call and realizing that you're competing with people with college degrees for minimum wage jobs...

    ...then please keep your ignorant, bubble boy observations to yourself.

    Federally Regulated Food for Thought, Part One


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

    (Update: At the risk of looking like Glenn Greenwald and his constant updates, Mark Karlin, editor of Buzzflash.com tells me that S 510 passed the Senate late Sunday night, which is true, according to The Hill. All that remains is for it to pass the House and then get the president's signature.)

    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of... those who live under tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

    It’s a given throughout the reality-based community that if you want rock-hard, thoroughly-vetted news that you need to know, the worst place to get it from is the mainstream media. Going to a place like Fox “News”, ABC or the New York Times for actual news is a little like going to McDonald's or Burger King for a nourishing, well-balanced meal.

    Therefore, it doesn’t strike this cynical scribe as very unusual to discover that the mainstream media dropped the ball on what has been called by some in the food community as "the most dangerous bill in the history of the US." It’s called S 510, which passed in the US Senate last Tuesday, November 30th of this year by a 73-25 vote.

    As per Congress’ usual weakness for sarcasm in naming its bills (witness "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005"), S 510 is officially known as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and throughout this winter, it’s been picked up by virtually every wingnut, conservative, conspiracy theorist and Tea Bagger site on the Web, starting with libertarian lunatic Alex Jones. However, this time there may be something to their dire warnings about eugenics through food control.

    Among other things, S 510 would put all American food producers under the direct control of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense in the wake of or under threat of a terrorist event. What exactly would constitute such an event and what ultimate government regulation through armed forces would involve is anyone’s guess.

    Amazingly, this bill was sponsored by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and originally co-sponsored by 21 other senators, most of them Democrats (including the late Ted Kennedy). It sailed through the upper chamber with the President’s full endorsement at the end of last month only to be “blue-slipped”, or rejected, by the House which then sent the bill back to the Senate for reworking. Even more amazingly, the only reason this bill didn’t pass in the House (it was opposed by every single Republican) was because Majority Leader Harry Reid rammed the bill through (with the help of lobbyists from over 200 different food producers) without first checking out Section 107. Section 107 of the bill violates the revenue raising clause in Article 1, section 7 of the Constitution that stipulates all such revenue generation start with the House of Representatives (Quote: “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” I suppose the Senate could be forgiven this one time for misinterpreting that vague and archaic language.).

    Despite this, President Obama, channeling George W. Bush, exhorted the House to meatball this legislation through so he could give full theoretical control of the nation’s entire food supply to the federal government. I quote the President:
    I urge the House --- which has previously passed legislation demonstrating its strong commitment to making our food supply safer --- to act quickly on this critical bill, and I applaud the work that was done to ensure its broad bipartisan passage in the Senate.

    Among the work that was applauded by our Constitutional law professor president was the fact that the Senate overstepped its bounds by violating one of the most clear-cut parts of the US Constitution.

    Here’s where it gets stranger: Apparently, the only person standing between us and S 510 becoming law is Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), one of the most batshit insane members of Congress. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), one of the original 21 co-sponsors of S 510, backed away from it and the bill had also been opposed by outgoing Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback. But there’s nothing truly virtuous or heroic about their opposition. Their main objection to the bill, despite $801 billion in tax breaks they just gave the American elite, was that it would cost a mere $1.4 to $1.5 billion and they simply wanted to know how that relative pittance would be paid for.

    Putting the “Harm” in “Harmonization”


    There’s a great deal of daylight between S 510 and the UN’s notorious Codex Alimentarius, a food and drug program of standardization that was formed in 1962-3 at the end of the Kennedy administration. The Codex Alimentarius’ mission at first glance appears to be a benign one until one realizes where they get their funding and political clout. Whether the funders’ desire to protect international trade interests was a conspiracy or a gross negligence of its future potential abuse, the fact is the CAC gets the lion’s share of its financial support from some of the biggest pharmaceutical and agricultural companies in the world. And when you get funding from such entities, there’s no way in hell they’ll let you write policies that will seriously erode at their bottom line.

    Officially speaking, compliance with the Codex Alimentarius is strictly nonbinding and voluntary even among its member nations. However, on many occasions in the past, the World Trade Organization has used the Codex as a legal basis for settling international trade disputes, which is a lot like the federal government taking its constitutional cues from the Federalist Papers.

    Prominent among its goals and objectives is the push to label vitamins, minerals and herbs as drugs, which appears to be a win/win situation for these pharmaceutical companies. Number one, it squeezes out the smaller, independent makers of these products so they cannot afford the often expensive testing that would qualify such a product as an official drug, say, with the American FDA.

    Secondly, once all the smaller competition has been pushed to the wayside, the ability to afford the expensive testing will result in a stranglehold on the vitamin, mineral and even herb market. In fact, there are places in Europe where it is illegal to sell herbs as a food and in at least two European countries, it’s illegal to possess or sell vitamin C in increments larger than 200 milligrams.

    Then, once the market had been completely co-opted by the big pharmaceutical companies, the dosages and potency gets drastically cut and the prices get bloated. This includes all known vitamins and holistic remedies, including Echinacea golden seal that was formerly derided by Big Pharma as a poseur. Essentially, Big Pharma is acting like the only gin mill in town that's shamelessly watering down all its booze. (Note: For a more comprehensive overview of how closely the US government and the Codex Alimentarius is working together, read Rufina James’ article on the subject from 2001.)

    The potential effect of such a stranglehold on the world’s food, mineral and vitamin supply is chilling. It’s been known by corporations for decades that whoever controls the food and water supply rules the world. We’ve already seen videos of health food stores being raided by police in even a laidback community as Venice, California. In this Youtube video, we see surveillance footage of Venice police officers raiding one such establishment, several with their guns drawn, over a few bottles of raw milk.

    The ultimate goal of the Codex and its corporate sponsors is to eliminate smaller, weaker competition under the guise of capitalistic competitiveness, to either wipe out their products for their corporate lines or co-opt it and sell back to the public at prices they can then set. Another goal is to eliminate lists of ingredients for genetically modified food so that we’re deliberately kept in the dark as to what we’re putting into our bodies. And this trend is in pretty strong harmony with S 510 and what we’re seeing with Monsanto and their ongoing jihad against truth in advertizing at the expense of human health on a global scale.

    In part two, I’ll go into what effect the Codex Alimentarius, corporations like Monsanto and the Federal government have had on the world’s food supply.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Christmas Gifts For that Special Wingnut


    Still stuck for an idea for that special wingnut in your family? You could do a lot worse than to stop off at Miss Poppy's site that's dedicated to collecting actual Christian merchandise and selling them at one website. The stigmata temporary tattoos are sure to please that miserable, whiny Christian in the family with the Messianic complex.


    Next, what better way to show how you revere life than to eat the unborn? Yes, this fetus cookie cutter makes faux cannibalism fun and festive for the holidays!


    On your way to an exorcism but Fathers Karras and Merrin got wiped out by the host or hostess? No problem! Just stop in at your local Catholic church, dip this baby in the little birdbath near the door and you, too, will be scarring the faces of the possessed in no time flat with this handy dandy little flask. Also perfect for rotgut between exorcisms.


    Addicted to internet porn and those wicked liberal political blogs? Temper your sinful online proclivities with this anima sola mousepad that reminds you where you'll end up if you keep going to www.cumthirstyhousewives.com.


    For those online activists with a purer mindset, there's this Jesus Lock 'n' Load mousepad that perfectly captures the true agenda of our Lord and Savior: Accept me, bitches, or I'll turn the other cheek... bloody.


    Meanwhile, Cafepress never fails to disappoint those looking for staunchly conservative presents for our staunchly conservative loved ones. Such as this bumper sticker, which makes the brilliant observation that only liberals have been thrown out of work and that all conservatives are gainfully employed.


    Remember that fabulous GOP shirt Tom DeLay wore on Dancing With the Stars? Well, in case your own wife or random little girls on the playground don't already know it, these roomy boxer shorts proudly show your conservative party affiliations. Although, for the life of me, I don't know where the trunk is supposed to go.


    Hard to get your wife in the mood? Then consider these Sheriff Joe Arpaio boxer shorts a sure fire cure for the bedtime blues. Imagine how her eyes will open wide when she sees the face of Sheriff Joe distended with your manly tumescence. (Sorry, not available in pink.)


    Where does it say that Christmas has to be Christian and nonpartisan? Proudly smear our President and "rebutt" the president's policies with this unassailable argument courtesy of Amazon.com.


    In order to show you're not a racist, there's this Chia Obama, also available from Amazon, that sports a growing green afro. It would've been interesting to see how they would've managed a Chia McCain had he won two years ago.


    This hot-selling action figure of Sarah Palin in a skimpy school girl skirt appeals to the most cherished fantasy of every liberal: That Sarah Palin would go back to school.


    Courtesy yet again of Amazon, there's this Security Checkpoint setup from PlayMobil. Yes, your child can now have fun with fear of getting his 4th amendment rights violated at the airport. All figures come with action genital grip and removable shoes. 5000 optional disgruntled passengers waiting in line behind not included.


    For just $20 (+s&h), you can get a one dollar coin commemorating Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday on February 6, 2011. It's just like the old bastard never left. The head side of the coin features a remarkable likeness of the 40th president or it would if he'd been stabbed in both eyes with an ice pick.


    Afraid that Obama will break into your house and fuck your wife and underaged daughters? We got that covered with this handy dandy bedside gun rack that puts instant death right at your fingertips when you sit up in a daze in the dark!


    Celebrate the holidays by merging the old with the new. Put the Christ and the KKK back in Christmas with this CHRIST-mas tree (courtesy of Right Wing Watch). This proud creation of Tennessean Marsha Boggs was inspired as an answer to "the war on Xmas" that Bill O'Reilly no doubt told her about. The detachable cross also doubles as a brilliant reminder of wanting to keep white, Christian property values up whenever a black family moves into the neighborhood.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Lonesome Hawk


    Six more years of this shit.

    For years, John McCain has been the Walter Matthau of Congress: A grumpy old man who hates so much and for so long it's unlikely a man of that age even remembers why. The man who'd once made the word "maverick" a brand name has merely become, in the twilight of his political career, just another arch neocon who's emerging a decade late from the ashes of his failed presidential campaign.

    McCain's jeremiad against the repeal of DADT was a fascinating glimpse of not just a mind stubbornly clinging to its own deterioration but a mindset that is at increasingly starker odds with the slowly changing mindset even within his own party. Fellow southwestern Republican senator John Ensign, proud Promise Keeper of C Street, said it was time to end the discrimination of gay soldiers.

    Fancy that: John McCain arguing to keep in place a Clintonian bill that was once derided as effete and liberal, a bill that was a compromise of a compromise from the start and one that McCain actually opposed on the same grounds for which he'd demanded it be kept in place.

    McCain in 1993 lambasted President Clinton for proposing the measure “without consulting the people we entrust with leading the country into battle. If there is any issue on which the president should have the advice of experts, it is this one."

    Almost 18 years later, McCain now finds himself in the risibly hypocritical and antiquated position of using the same argument for DADT's perpetuation. By wasting Congress's time in moving the goalposts in poo-poohing and balderdashing the opinion of the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs and the Defense Secretary and many of their subordinates, McCain is completely responsible for Don't Ask, Don't Tell's delayed repeal, which still won't take effect for another two months.

    Even arch conservative Barry Goldwater softened in his old age against gays serving in the military. This is what the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, who'd once sat in McCain's seat, wrote in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. While I may disagree with the late Arizona senator on many, many matters, what he said years ago is at least as relevant today:
    Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. They'll still be serving long after we're all dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone.

    But most Americans should be shocked to know that while the country's economy is going down the tubes, the military has wasted half a billion dollars over the past decade chasing down gays and running them out of the armed services.

    It's no great secret that military studies have proved again and again that there's no valid reason for keeping the ban on gays. Some thought gays were crazy, but then found that wasn't true. then they decided that gays were a security risk, but again the Department of Defense decided that wasn't so-in fact, one study by the Navy in 1956 that was never made public found gays to be good security risks. Even Larry Korb, President Reagan's man in charge of implementing the Pentagon ban on gays, now admits that it was a dumb idea. No wonder my friend Dick Cheney, secretary of defense under President Bush, called it "a bit of an old chestnut"

    When the facts lead to one conlusion, I say it's time to act, not to hide. The country and the military know that eventually the ban will be lifted...

    Some in congress think I'm wrong. They say we absolutely must continue to discriminate, or all hell will break loose. Who knows, they say, perhaps our soldiers may even take up arms against each other.

    Well, that's just stupid.

    There you have it. Barry Goldwater, author of Conscience of a Conservative, and arch neocon Dick Cheney, were against discrimination against gays in the military.

    Where does that put John McCain?

    Squarely in the middle of the 19th century, at best. And one almost swears that Goldwater must've seen McCain on the political horizon when he wrote, "Some in congress think I'm wrong. They say we absolutely must continue to discriminate, or all hell will break loose. Who knows, they say, perhaps our soldiers may even take up arms against each other."

    McCain was making some bizarre, disconnected analogy of gays serving openly in the military to legless Marines in Walter Reed and the best argument he could seem to muster was that our brave heterosexual fighting forces' combat effectiveness would be compromised by the overriding suspicion that the guy next to them in the foxhole taking on enemy fire may have sucked someone's cock last night.

    McCain's wife is against him. His daughter is against him. Members of his own party are against him. The Joint Chiefs Chairman is against him. The Defense Secretary is against him. Barry Goldwater and Dick Cheney are against him. And even the eternally fawning Washington press corps is tiring of his cranky old man persona. With McCain's violent wrench to the right, the only people who could possibly agree with him are other spittle-flecked homophobes such as Fred Phelps, Tony Perkins and James Dobson, hardly the kind of company one should willingly seek out.

    And one is left to wonder what's in the drinking water in Arizona that made the voters elect this gadfly of everything humane and progressive to another six year term.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Top 10 American Heroes of 2010

    This time, I’m going to play it straight.

    Because, even though political assclowns are the gift that keep on giving for a blogger with a satirical bent, too little attention is paid to the few, true heroes who made or at least tried to make a difference by taking an often lonely stand against greed, prejudice or injustice without any heed to the odds, consequences or no guarantee of impunity. Every year, no matter how bad, produces them and, Buzzflash’s Wings of Justice Awards notwithstanding, we don’t give these men and women the credit they deserve. Therefore, I humbly present my list of who I think were the top ten heroes of 2010. May the living ones continue to stand tall in 2011 and well beyond.

    10) Target


    The only quadruped on this list, Target gets a special mention for helping to save countless lives when a suicide bomber tried to enter a crowded rec hall at a US base in Afghanistan last February 11th. When Target and two other guard dogs began to bark and attack the intruder, the bomber was forced to blow himself up outside, wounding only five soldiers. She got her name after getting shot by an insurgent in Afghanistan. Target was rewarded for her bravery with a medal, a Facebook page and a guest spot on Oprah. Tragically, after getting loose from her owner’s yard in Arizona, Target was accidentally euthanized when an idiotic dog pound employee mixed her up with another dog that was scheduled to be put down.

    9) Lt. Dan Choi


    As with so many people on this list, Lt. Dan Choi became a much-needed face for his cause, in this case the repeal of the despicable Clinton-era “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Choi was one of over 13,000 American servicemembers to be unfairly drummed out of the service since 1993 because of his sexual orientation and valiantly attempted to re-enlist within days after a federal judge struck down DADT. Choi has recently been hospitalized for a nervous breakdown relevant to his ongoing struggle for equality for all members of the US armed forces. Here’s hoping he gets back on his feet and rejoins the good fight soon.

    8) Rachel Maddow


    In a year in which even liberal icons such as Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart have disappointed, the brainy and funny Rachel Maddow did not once falter and likely never will. The MSNBC host and former Air America DJ took on (and, in some cases, took down) some of the most pompous and extreme assclowns of the year, starting with Rand Paul. Maddow has an almost eerie way of finding herself on the right side of every issue whether it be DADT’s repeal, the tax bill, Iraq and Afghanistan, the health care reform bill or any other thorny issue that’s polarized this country.

    7) Stephen Colbert


    Once again, it was up to a Comedy Central funnyman, this time faux conservative Stephen Colbert, to stand up for the plight of the common working man when Colbert testified before Congress to deliver his thoughts on the hardly-touched problem of undocumented migrant workers. While he drily cracked wise in character, Colbert at several times during his testimony played it straight and delivered some sobering statistics before a House Judiciary subcommittee at the invitation of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. Among the numbers was the fact that the “Take Our Jobs” campaign enlisted the aid of just a handful of Americans, including Colbert. When the dreary Judiciary Chairman John Conyers asked Colbert to leave the chamber before he’d had the chance to open his mouth, we knew we were onto something.

    6) Kindra Arneson


    In order to make a disaster or a cause resonate with the public it needs a face and a story and citizen activist Kindra Arneson of Louisiana provided both in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster that almost completely decimated the fishing industry on the Gulf Coast. Arneson’s husband was among those afflicted by BP’s negligence and she quickly proved to be a passionate, telegenic and eloquent spokeswoman for everyone who had been devastated by the disaster in one way or another. BP made the mistake of allowing Arneson to rub shoulders with its corporate elite in the interests of full disclosure and transparency and she faithfully kept going back before banks of microphones to inform us of more outrages such as BP’s purely PR “Balloons and Ponies” campaign that actually faked cleanup details for the press and politicians.

    5) First Lady Michelle Obama


    First Lady Michelle Obama deserves to be included on this list because of her ongoing crusade against childhood obesity. Self-appointed pundits such as Rush Limbaugh have derided her for telling us how to care for our bodies without once explaining why he wasn’t saying the same thing when Nancy Reagan was waging her own “Just Say No” crusade (which Rush, on reflection, should’ve listened to more closely). But the truth is that pediatricians have recently listed childhood obesity as the world’s number one preventable cause of death among children. So kudos to the First Lady for helping to elevate this epidemic to national awareness, regardless of her husband’s fondness for Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

    4) Elizabeth Edwards


    A trooper to the very end, liberal icon Elizabeth Edwards passed on a week ago after doctors informed her her cancer had spread to her liver and that treatment was no longer viable. Throughout her life, and especially since allegations about her husband John Edwards began to be solidified, Edwards continued devoting the rest of her life to liberal/progressive causes and her children. Living under heartbreak such as personal betrayal and terminal illness, Mrs. Edwards stubbornly insisted on showing a grace and good humor that the rest of us, including me, can only hope to aspire to.

    3) Alan Grayson


    During his brief career in Congress, outgoing Congressman Alan Grayson was the Bernie Sanders of the House, regularly going after the Republican Party and its greediness, stupidity and mean-spiritedness with teeth flashing. Showing absolutely no respect for the GOP, giving no quarter, never apologizing for his often hilarious yet dead-on remarks while lambasting their idiotic policies with rare and refreshing politically incorrect humor, Grayson was the conscience of the House Democrats, someone who wasn’t always appreciated by Blue Dog and mainstream Democrats. Florida’s 8th congressional district thought they could do better than Grayson and elected a psychopath named Dan Webster to succeed him. Alan may be gone in a few days but he certainly won’t be forgotten nor, I suspect, will gently fade into that good night.

    2) Sen. Bernie Sanders


    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the only Socialist in Congress, proved his progressive bona fides and then some in an epic eight and a half hour-long fake filibuster of the tax bill that would eventually pass this week. With a smattering of help from Mary Landreiu and Sherrod Brown, Sanders basically took control of his seemingly endless speech, packing it with personal stories from his constituents, that of his colleagues’ constituents and shook the rafters with an inexhaustible supply of outrage at how we can forget the poor in this country and allow the GOP to hold them hostage so the most undeserving people on earth can continue paying lower taxes while undermining Social Security. Sanders must’ve known his 124 page-long jeremiad on this latest outrageous example of billionaire welfare would fall on deaf ears in the Senate but it was heard loud and clear in the progressive grassroots community.

    1) Pfc. Bradley Manning


    Without seemingly getting, nor expecting, any offer of protection from Julian Assange and Wikileaks, intelligence analyst Bradley Manning delivered to the people of the free world a treasure trove of millions of documents that showed just how corrupt, murderous and patently dishonest the planet’s leaders are, starting with the United States. Thanks to Manning’s audacious theft, we got not shocking epiphanies as to our arrogant, cruel behavior but at least we were given documented confirmation of it. It revealed an America that essentially looks down on the rest of the world with imperial contempt. While Assange sips martinis in Ellingham Hall and holds court for the world press that have turned him into a renegade hero, Manning sits in a small prison cell in Quantico 23 out of 24 hours in almost total obscurity. He must have known he was risking it all in the interests of transparency but Manning didn’t care. He faces up to 52 years in prison while getting only a fraction of the legal defense funds he was promised by Wikileaks and precious few others.