Sunday, February 27, 2011
...in Madison last Friday and asks the hostess, "Do you serve assholes?" And the hostess says, "No, now get the fuck out."
This isn't a joke but an allegedly true story. Naomi at Mind Stain insists it's true while right wing turd blogs such as Politisite and Badger Blogger insist the restaurant lied about the incident to drum up pro-union business.
Yep. You've probably heard by now that Koch Industries Governor Scott Walker got tossed from a restaurant last Friday night in Madison for "being a nuisance." The eatery is called The Merchant (I know Crooks and Liars took down the name of the restaurant because of all the right wing threats they started getting from goons but, c'mon people, it's the internet. Shit gets cached and nothing disappears forever once you hit that "publish" button.") and they were well within their legal right to not serve a patron. And it wasn't just management but the other patrons who were booing and hissing at him.
Both Laffy at the Political Carnival and Digby, following her lead, are suspicious this ever happened. I have every reason to believe it had.
The phone call that the Badger Blogger made to the Merchant is held up as proof that they manufactured the whole thing when in fact they were being noncommittal either way and when the call was accidentally put on speaker, the exchange is virtually unintelligible. But my right wing colleague heard them going on the internet and assumed they wanted to take down their blog post. But they were probably just reading someone else's blog post for the first time.
Plus, the idea that Patrick Sweeney, the restaurant's owner, would willingly lie about kicking out the Governor and opening himself and his establishment up to criticism, bad PR and (typically, in the case of Walker's right wing lunatic supporters) threats just to drum up pro-union business smacks of irresponsibility that I wouldn't readily ascribe to a small business owner in a highly polarized state.
Did Scott Walker get kicked out of a Madison restaurant last Friday night? Between the lies, innuendos and echoed misinformation on both sides, we may never know. Do I believe it happened?
Hell yes, partly because Naomi at Mind Stain brings up some interesting points that leads me to believe that, with all due respect to John Amato, Laffy, Digby and Co., this may have actually happened. Scott Walker is, for many, many reasons, the most despised Governor since Sarah Palin and if any of our nation's 50 governors would get kicked out of an eatery this month, it would be Scott Walker.
You know, the union-busting piece of shit who, like Mubarak, lost the support of the constabulary. That would be the constabulary that isn't actually affected by the anti-collective bargaining bill. That would be a constabulary led by a man who's now openly questioning Walker about his "troubling" statements in that phone call when he all but proved his true allegiance: the Koch Brothers. The same constabulary that, instead of kicking out the protesters at 4:00 like the right wing legislature ordered them to, has actually joined them and slept beside them in the state house.
Like the Rude Pundit simply said, it's never a good idea to fuck with unions. I'd amend that to say that the first union you shouldn't fuck with is the fraternal order of the police. Politics is one thing and I'm sure not every single protesting public union member isn't some dirty, hippie, Commie libr'al and that there are likely quite a few right wingers in that crowd (I wish someone would do a survey), perhaps some who even voted for Walker, who gave no hint during his campaign that he would go after unions' half century-old collective bargaining rights.
But when you fiddle fuck around with a person's ability to empower themself, when you say, "Fuck you to your proposed concessions and willingness to collectively and reasonably bargain with my administration", then you're going to make a lot of political enemies out of your own people, let alone the Democrats. In a way, it's like the radicalizing of the Iraqi military after we'd smashed and disbanded them and turned their country into a rubble-strewn wasteland.
Because that's what the Republican Party on both the federal and the state levels want to do to the middle class of any and every political stripe. And, while the MSM stubbornly ignore the public union uprising for the 3rd Sunday in a row (save for Scott Walker's appearance today on Press the Meat), this is not going to go away.
And like the shaggy dog story epilogue goes, if that asymmetrical, cross-eyed, corporate tool of a cunt Scott Walker never got kicked out of a restaurant, he ought to be and likely will.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Try to see if you can spot the exact moment this slimy union-busting bill was passed in the Wisconsin legislature at 1:05 AM. If you blink, you'll literally miss it because the Republican blitzkrieg came and went faster than a 12 year-old boy's first orgasm.
This is the only way these douchebags can get shit done and actually move their fat, pasty asses: Through trickery, chicanery, threats, parliamentary shell games and tyranny of the majority, especially in the interests of shafting the working people.
Remember the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress when Pelosi led the way to the House passing a massive raft of progressive legislation by locking out the Republicans? Remember how they squealed like a couple of hundred butt-fucked Ned Beattys about how they were locked out of the legislative process? That was Pelosi's object lesson in how effective one party rule can be when the other party brings nothing but stall tactics and "No!" to the table. If only the Democrats had continued doing that throughout the entire 110th and 111th Congresses.
Now the only thing standing between the Republicans and assfucking most Wisconsin public unions with a microplane nutmeg grater sans lube are the Wisconsin Senate Democrats who did the same exact thing their counterparts in the lower assembly had: They're holing up in Chicago and calling for lawyers, guns and money.
If you're from Wisconsin and reading this, don't forget: the cross-eyed cunt spearheading this party-line union busting bullshit is a Marquette University dropout who was asked to get the fuck out for cheating and was found guilty of dirty tricks when running for college class president (he lost). (Bonus trivia fact: Scott Walker had a 2.3 GPA, even with cheating.) Your public unions are being dismantled by a man who looks as if he ought to wear a football helmet 16 hours a day and wear boxing gloves to keep from fist fucking during that time.
He also takes phone calls in his office from guys he thinks are David Koch, looks forward to spending time at a California retreat with that billionaire scumbag and his brother and seriously thought about planting rabble rousers among the protesters (in other words, professional union busters straight out of the 20's and 30's.) What's next? African mercenaries?
We already went through this on a national level for 8 years with his spiritual Godfather, fellow college fuck-up George W. Bush. And you see well that turned out.
He's also a fucking hypocrite when it comes to state pensions.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Dear Congressman Bobby Franklin:
As a post-zygote American, I am heartened to hear that you have done your part to cover Georgia with more glory than Congressman Broun already has this past week by trying to make miscarriages a punishable and investigatable offense until proven otherwise. Since you're my parents' state congressman out of Marietta, I have to say I have a personal stake in the matter and am glad that Dad didn't use a condom or Mom a shook-up bottle of Coke during a certain beer-drenched night in the back seat of a Ford Fairlane behind the Bowl-A-Drome in Astoria, Queens in mid April, 1958. Obviously, you have my full-throated support. Boo yah and pass the see-gars!
Another post-zygote American, Jill Filipovic, has offered a crackling good suggestion on how to get a handle on this by offering her used tampons for investigation by the Georgia State Police, whose renowned crime lab can no doubt determine if any foul play was involved in the aborted fertilization of her 12 eggs a year. Indeed, any woman who does not conceive and birth monthly ought to be treated as a subversive to the white race.
However your proposed bill in the Georgia state house has overlooked a crucial component of baby-making and that is our little swimmers.
Hardly a Sunday goes by when I don't walk down the street and see used condoms on my very street after a night of reckless revelry the previous Saturday night.
Now, the medical zeitgeist claims that there are, on average, approximately 111,000,000-115,000,000 sperm cells expelled per ejaculation. That's over a third of the national population per spent wad, all of them dying like trout in a dried creek bed in a single Trojan body bag.
Plainly, this is mass murder. Women generally can only make one egg a month but men are constantly churning out hundreds of millions of viable little swimmers on a daily basis and every one that doesn't break through the ramparts and divide the prize by initiating mitosis is a scofflaw, a goldbrick and perhaps a homicide.
Therefore, Representative Franklin, I propose collecting all used condoms (or body bags, if you will) in Georgia so they can all have thorough body counts. With the aid of the best electron microscopes, that shouldn't take more than a few weeks per condom. The autopsies and DNA typing, on the other hand, might take a bit more time, patience and ingenuity. I don't know if they make scalpels and rib spreaders that tiny.
In the interests of forensic analysis, the best part about this idea is that unless the user was also wearing latex gloves, there ought to be fingerprints on them to identify these various mass murderers who are too cowardly to face up to fatherhood or to live dangerously. I mean, safe sex! Since when was sex ever safe?
Also, since every penis is different, my theory is that, like fingerprints and retinas, every penis makes its own unique imprint on the interior of the rubber, making identification easier through cross-referencing (In the event they were used for anal sex, I'd suggest wearing gloves when handling these used condoms).
I thoroughly hope this bill passes and that miscarriages, and cavalierly dismissed ejaculate, will finally get the attention from law enforcement and the Georgia Attorney General's Office they so richly deserve.
Your humble and obedient servant, sans latex,
Addendum: Obviously, either liberals or Karl Rove is controlling the email at the Georgia State House because this is the auto reply I got: "Due to the unreliability of the General Assembly’s technical support team, it is unlikely that I will receive your email. Please call my office at 404-656-0152."
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Somehow, against all odds and despite Republican assclownery at its most full-blown, the mainstream media have been able to keep a straight face even when the NY Times publishes a story telling us how WI Gov. Scott Walker was tricked by a Buffalo Beast blogger into thinking he was talking to his boss David Koch over the phone. Among the admissions this inexplicably incumbent dunce made to an ad-libbing Ian Murphy: Tricking renegade Democrats into coming back to Madison so the Republicans can claim to have a quorum and Walker likening himself to Ronald Reagan and PATCO in 1981. So, forget about his "mandate" and mantra of fiscal responsibility: It's all about his legacy or repeating history by latching onto Reagan's tattered coattails.
Yeah, you heard that right. The Murphy/Walker interview that's made an even bigger stir than Sarah Palin getting punked in 2008 by someone claiming to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy helped exposed the meanness, venality, underheanded treachery and Reagan worship that, perhaps more than anything else, has kept this country from truly moving forward in over three decades.
The prank call also revealed that Republicans from coast to coast and everywhere in between can't get shit done except through illegitimate means such as stealth legislation, trickery and chicanery, fake mandates and, in the case of now-former Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox, violence and threats of death a la Libya, Tunisia and Egypt (Sidebar: Don't forget, this is coming from the same JCCentCom who, while ridiculing anyone drawing parallels between Cairo and Madison, espoused treating the peaceful strikers like the Mubarak and Qaddafi regimes treated their protesters.). Right wing violence to opposition is something that of late used to be the specialty of the Tea Baggers. Now Republican terrorism is virtually mainstream.
Am I taking this man's words out of context, seeing something into a mere Twitter tweet that really isn't there? Uh, no. He meant every word. He really wants to kill public union members.
Wisconsin is getting the lion's share of the pro-labor/anti-labor coverage not because the demonstrations surrounding the State House are the biggest or that's it's become the epicenter of the American labor struggle but because its Governor, Scott Walker, has been fully exposed as an intractable tool of far right oligarchs like the Koch Brothers who have turned union busting into a lucrative industry.
Walker not only received $43,000 in campaign donations from the Koch Brothers but has also signaled he will not negotiate with public unions that have already shown a willingness to accept compromises, which was Big Labor's first mistake when dealing with Republican politicians and corporate tycoons. But they were willing to compromise and that isn't good enough.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, at first as stubborn an asshole as Walker and Chris Christie combined, had since backpedaled and decided not to support an anti-collective bargaining provision in the state budget when he saw what he was up against. Ohio decided to give back collective bargaining rights to their public workers (but only after throwing in a poison pill amendment that stripped from them the right to strike, which is the ultimate power of a union).
If the stakes weren't so high in this ongoing labor struggle, the spectacle would be comical. Democratic state lawmakers from two states have fled to Chicago like Prohibition-era bootleggers or bank robbers and frustrated Republican governors accusing them of drawing pay while shutting down the government and all the while screaming for the repeal of union rights and budget woes while just as stubbornly refusing to rescind tax cuts for the rich. But there's nothing funny in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana or anywhere else where there's labor unrest.
Republicans are always eager to bring back the good old lawless days when tycoons, magnates and other oligarchs determined how many hours a week their workers should work, what they should earn and how safe their workplaces were.
Leaving such decisions to those self-dealing entities naturally resulted in unions. Now, with maniacs like Jeff Cox advocating death, he's pushed the United States that much closer to the 20's and 30's, when people fought, and died, in the streets of America during the labor riots. Yes, Jeff Cox is now out of a job and good riddance. But just by posting those messages on Twitter as an appointed official, the damage has been done.
He got it out there and, however much we may ignore it, it is now on the table.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I was wondering why Jill Hussein at Brilliant at Breakfast began chattering about New Jersey pizzerias when there are so many other Much More Serious Things to blog about. Then I got an email from my friend D at the New Jersey State Treasurer's office and she mentioned in passing that the people of Cairo were sending pizzas to the protesters in Madison, Wisconsin.
The link Jill provided takes you to an article by the SF Chronicle that provides a link (as does Jill) to Ian's Pizza on State, which is right around the corner from the epicenter of the public union protests that have drawn up to 68,000 people, making Madison a city within a city.
To make a long story short, someone called up Ian's a little while back and asked if they could donate their leftover, after-hours pizzas and they said Sure. Then they began getting phone calls from people who'd heard about their kindness and before they knew it, they'd shut down their regular business to provide pizzas to the Madison protesters.
By their own admission, they've gotten calls from as far away as Canada and even Denmark. Now, it seems, the brave and passionate people in Cairo, Egypt (as I'd said over a week ago) recognize that our people are protesting their local and state governments for essentially the same reason they were. In worker solidarity, they've also bought pizzas for the protesters in Wisconsin. At last count, they'd served about 430 to the State Capital but I'm sure that's gone way up. But even 430 pizzas divided eight ways won't come close to feeding the tens of thousands who've massed to protest the bill that would strip most public unions of collective bargaining power.
Times are very tough for Mrs. JP and me but I called up Ian's a few minutes ago and bought $20 worth of pizzas (the minimum they'll deliver for) for the hungry folks massed outside the Wisconsin State House. You don't have to be employed to feel solidarity for workers the world over. So if someone in northern Africa or Scandinavia can call halfway around the world to send a pizza or two, so can we in the US.
So if you have a few bucks to spare, call Ian's by clicking on their Facebook link or order online and send a pizza to a protester. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.
Monday, February 21, 2011
...Vince Foster, the Clinton health care bill, Hillary's presidential campaign.
Yet, suddenly, this doesn't merit a single mention in the permanently supine corporate mainstream media.
To those of you who've been closely following the war in Iraq, you couldn't have helped hearing the name of Ray McGovern at least a couple of times a year. McGovern was a senior intelligence analyst who'd worked at Langley for 27 years and has been protesting our foreign policy for close to two decades.
Six days ago, McGovern attended a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at George Washington University. Like a bodyguard, McGovern silently stood with his back to Secretary Clinton wearing a "Veterans For Peace" tee shirt with a dove on it while she excoriated the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Iran and Libya for brutally quashing dissent. Then the real thing pounced on McGovern. A large man in plainclothes jumped the 71 year-old McGovern and a cop soon joined the fray. They then dragged McGovern somewhere and beat him where no one could see it.
Yes, this was right after Clinton serenely watched the incident without comment and then piously condemned the brutal suppression of dissent. The ultimate in irony, it was the Obama administration's "Don't Tase me, Bro!" moment.
So how come it's up to minor leaguers like Amy Goodman, Alex Jones, Tom Degan and yours truly to bring attention to this latest example of police brutality? Yet if you were to do a Google News search using the keywords "Ray McGovern, beaten", you'll find not a single mention about it by the MSM. Alex Jones, for instance, posted a 22+ minute-long video of the incident and used CNN footage to start the segment. Yet CNN, as with the rest of the warmongering MSM, chose not to report on it.
That gives rise to yet another irony: The sign on the podium before Clinton said, "Internet Freedom", which can be extended to mean the internet is free to report on McGovern's beating since the mainstream media suddenly found Hillary Clinton to be very unsexy.
Just as the Obama Justice Department has put together a shadow judicial system designed solely to protect war criminals of all political stripes, the mainstream media are just as complicit as the federal courts in shielding the American public from any meaningful dissent against whichever administration is momentarily in power. And, in McGovern's case, the beatings all too often take place offcamera.
So Hillary Clinton is now at last one of the Untouchables while peaceful protesters like McGovern, who was not throwing rocks, loudly demanding Clinton's resignation, setting fire to anything, looting from anyone, gets roughed up and charged with "turning his back on the Secretary of State."
Is turning your back on a Cabinet official a crime all of a sudden? Is wearing a certain tee shirt now enough to get you ejected from a building, arrested and charged with non crimes? Since the Bush administration, that's been abundantly proven.
It didn't happen in Southeast Asia but it sure as hell took effect in Northern Africa and certainly across the Middle East. So why shouldn't the same Domino Effect apply to Wisconsin and the rest of the United States?
Protests are popping up at State Houses and City Halls all over the country. What follows is a list of all the protests being planned from today until Thursday, courtesy of Chris Bowers at Daily Kos (Note: Not all these events are SEIU protests).
This is what happens when you keep trying to take away from people who have nothing left to lose.
Events on Monday February 21, 2011 (All times local)
Time: 9 A.M.
Location: Indiana State Capitol
Address: 302 W Washington St - Indianapolis, IN
Time: 2 P.M.
Location: Montana State Capitol
Address: 1301 East 6th Avenue - Helena, Montana
Time: 12 P.M.
Location: Nevada State Capitol
Address: 101 North Carson Street - Carson City, NV 89701
Time: 12 P.M. Location:
Address: 1 East Edenton Street - Raleigh, NC 27601
Time: 12 P.M.
Location: State Capitol
Address: 900 Court St. NE - Salem, OR 97301
Candlelight March and Vigil
Time: 6:45 P.M.
Location: Meet at TX AFL-CIO
Address: 1106 Lavaca St. - Austin, TX. 78701
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: State Capitol Rotunda
Address: 416 Sid Snyder Avenue SW - Olympia, WA 98504
Time: All Day
Location: State Capitol
Address: 2 East Main Street - Madison, WI. 53702
Events on Tuesday February 22, 2011 (All times local)
Time: 5:30 P.M.
Location: State Capitol West Steps
Address: 1315 10th Street - Sacramento, CA 95814
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Poncitlan Square
Address: 38315 9th Street East - Palmdale, CA. 93550
Time: 12:00 P.M.
Location: Colorado State Capitol
Address: 200 East Colfax Avenue (West Steps) - Denver, CO. 80203
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Iowa State Capitol
Address: 1007 East Grand Avenue - Des Moines, IA
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Lawyers' Mall, Maryland State House
Address: 100 State Circle - Annapolis, MD. 21401
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: State House
Address: 1 Ashburton Pl - Boston, MA 02108
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: City Hall Steps
Address: 36 Court Street - Springfield, MA 01103
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Minnesota State Capitol
Address: 75 Constitution Ave - St. Paul, MN 55101
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Capitol Building
Address: 1395 Dublin Rd - Columbus, OH 43215
Time: 12:15 PM
Location: East Side of the State House
Address: 490 Old Santa Fe Trl # 219 - Santa Fe, NM 87501
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: Rhode Island State House
Address: 90 Smith St - Providence, RI 02903
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Vermont State Capitol Building
Address: 115 State Street - Montpelier, VT. 05602
Time: All Day
Location: State Capitol
Address: 2 East Main Street - Madison, WI. 53702
Events on Wednesday February 23, 2011 (All times local)
Time: 11:30 AM
Location: State Capitol Building
Address: 425 W Capitol Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: State Capitol Building, West Steps
Address: 210 Capitol Avenue - Hartford, CT. 06106
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: State Capitol Building
Address: 206 Washington St - Atlanta, GA, 30334
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Lackawana Court House
Address: 200 Adams Avenue - Scranton, PA 18503
Events on Thursday February 24, 2011 (All times local)
Protest against Governor Kasich
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Canton Civic Center
Address: 1101 Market Ave N. - Canton, Oh 44702
Events on Friday, February 25, 2011 (All times local)
Time: 12:00 noon
Location: The State House
Address: 125 West State Street, Trenton, NJ
Sunday, February 20, 2011
(Photoshopped cover art done by my Sis Alicia at Last Left B4 Hooterville.)
Maybe it's the homosexual/bisexual angle. Maybe because in my query letters and various synopses I described my protagonist Mike Flannigan as being "a liberal, investigative political journalist." Maybe it's because I wrote in my cover letters to peckerheaded literary agents, "I thought it was high time that someone write a novel from a liberal perspective." Really, since Sinclair Lewis, can anyone name a great American liberal novel? And, no, I don't count Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. While some claim he was an arch liberal outside the salon, none of his novels were as overtly political as American Zen.
You could say that, "Maybe it wasn't good enuff, har har" but you'd be springing from a position of complete ignorance since it's obvious you never read it. I think I have a fairly good idea of who bought or got it for free from me and you're not one of them.
But I'm a big believer in full disclosure. I figured, if anyone asks for sample chapters or, in the case of Grand Central Publishing, the entire manuscript, they'd find out soon enough where Mikey is at. Might as well get that out of the way from the start, I thought.
And I still say I thought right. What I underestimated was how much of a right wing sewer the publishing business is. Oh, if you were to ask Rupert Murdoch lackey Adam Bellow (nepotistic son of Nobel Prize laureate Saul), he'd say starting up a right wing book imprint by the pretentiously provincial name of Broadside Books was a necessary act of fairness and balance because, as Bellow bellowed,
“I am a conservative in a liberal industry. And I’ve always considered it to be my function as an editor to bring news from the outside world — which is to say, reality — to the New York political cocoon.”
Yeah, you heard that right. #1, like Hollywood, the book business in his addled mind was totally liberal before he came marching into Avenue of the Americas like some right wing Hannibal on his shining white elephant. And, #2, It's not the likes of George Bush or Sarah Palin or Christine O'Donnell or other Republican recipients of Ave. of the America's welfare agency that lives in a cocoon. It's elite New York liberals.
Saul, Saul, Saul. Where the fuck did you go wrong? Did you let him get traumatized by playing a Mort Saul album at a party within Adam's earshot?
Yeah, once in a while the liberal book comes out. Every once in a great while, we'll get a Naomi Klein or Michael Moore book (and Michael Moore can tell you all about corporate censorship at the hands of his own publishers). But I can't think of a liberal antidote to Tim LaHaye's execrable Left Behind series or the Christian propaganda troweled out by Noel Hynd and his publishers at Zondervan, can you? For every Molly Ivins or Hunter S. Thompson (who died six years ago today) we lose, it seems 10 Republican sewer rats take their place.
Since the MSM has historically been notoriously bereft of actual liberals, how many books have been published by our side that can serve as a levee against the endless tsunami of bullshit trowled out annually by hacks like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Jerome Corsi, Dinesh D'Souza, Jason Mattera, Pam Gellar and, coming to an RNC fundraiser near you, human hairballs Christine O'Donnell and Dick Cheney?
That reminds me. I haven't even mentioned the tidal wave of bullshit coming from the Potomac, namely the memoirs of George W. Bush, Scott McClellan, Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, and a whole slew of other right wingers including one of my senators, Scott Brown, a guy who's been in Washington for barely over a year and suspiciously timed the publication date with an admission of being molested 41 years ago.
Funny, I don't seem to recall Chris Coons, the guy who crushed O'Donnell by 17 points, being offered a book deal. Al Franken's been in the Senate for a couple of years. How come no one asked him to write a sequel to Lying Liars and the Liars Who Tell Them?
Jesus fucking Christ on a foam rubber crutch, Joe the fucking Plumber?!
So how the hell can this maniac named Adam Bellow piss and moan about the publishing business being taken over by elite, bubbled-in liberals when Republicans and even penny ante bloggers like Gellar and rope line groupies like Joe Wurzelbacher get rich off contracts for books they're largely not even writing?
Is the publishing business so naive as to be incapable of distinguishing an actual bestseller that people are buying one at a time and spreading through word of mouth from one that's merely bought up in bulk by Republican organizations and handed out or sold at Republican functions?
Or does it even matter?
Much of what I hear from literary agents in their boilerplate rejection letters flung to me by flunkies is how tough it is to sell a book by a firsttime author like me. What they don't include is the fact that other firsttime "authors" such as Palin and O'Donnell, two women who could create a wind tunnel just by standing side by side, have no problem breaking into print regardless of having no rudimentary literacy skills let alone literary skills. ("Mandation"? "Refudiate"? How far would I go with literary agents who insist on perfection if I used those pseudo-words in a cover letter or synopsis?)
Oh, but there's something I'm forgetting, isn't there? Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell have something I don't have: A national reputation for lying, losing and quitting. I'm not a national laughingstock who nonetheless possesses the ability to bring out white, embittered, gun-toting, Tea Bagger racists. All I bring to the table is actual writing talent. What the fuck's that worth in the world of publishing?
So I have to laugh bitterly every time I get a form rejection letter in the mail or my inbox then read tripe like Adam Bellow puling about the publishing business being co-opted by elite New York liberals.
And when conservative organizations buy up these books wholesale, it gives publishers the impression there's an actual market for this shit. It creates a market, consensus where there really isn't much.
Simon & Schuster has a conservative imprint. Harper Collins has two (Broadside and Regan Books, sans Judith Regan). There's Penguin Putnam's Sentinel. There's Regnery Publishing. There's Threshold. And I haven't even mentioned right wing Christian publishers such as Zondervan. And they're multiplying like brain-dead rabbits.
How many liberal imprints can you think of? I know the business. I buy Jeff Herman's Guide every year. I see none. It's as if the publishing business is afraid of declaring even a small, start-up subsidiary and imprint might even be remotely liberal. And it's laughable that a guy like Adam Bellow, who's using the tried-and-true argument used by Roger Ailes and Kenneth Tomlinson that "fairness and balance are needed against the vast left wing conspiracy", would claim that an industry that's beholden to corporate interests like Rupert Murdoch's would be making a successful stand against conservatism.
And that's why I think books like American Zen won't sell. It features teh gays. It features a liberal protagonist who calls a spade a spade and pokes fun at the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin (although agents typically never get that far. Even so-called liberal/progressive literary agents have dismissed it with a form rejection letter because they know or assume they can't sell something that isn't nakedly conservative and partisan.).
I once asked an agent after I got a form rejection letter, "Hey, here's an idea. How about if I just change my name to Glenn Beck or retitle American Zen something like Going Rogue? Think it'll sell then???"
It was met with silence.
"When One Person Dies, It's a Tragedy, But When a Million People Die, It's a Statistic." – Josef Stalin, Russia's newest good guy.
Just two days ago, the same day Salon’s Glenn Greenwald wrote about the travesty of justice done to Jose Padilla, fellow Salon blogger Matt Zoller Seitz wrote a semi-whimsical article asking what if the bad guys of film and literature were really the good guys? Obviously, it was an unintentional juxtaposition but it made real world sense when taken in the context of Padilla being denied his day of justice by challenging the constitutionality of his detainment and treatment.
The Obama-appointed judge’s ruling can be boiled down thusly:
“It would simply be too embarrassing for our extraconstitutional evils to be made known to the world. And we can’t very well expect that poor Bush, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and Wolfowitz would willingly interrupt their very lucrative retirement from public service to answer this (sniff) convicted terrorist’s baseless charges.”
Or, as everyone’s favorite Constitutional law blogger succinctly sums it up (emphasis his):
Not only has Padilla (and all other detainees) failed to obtain redress for what was done to them, but worse, they have been entirely denied even the right to have their cases heard in court. That's because the U.S. Government has invented -- and federal courts have dutifully accepted -- a whole slew of legal doctrines which have only one purpose: to insulate the country's most powerful political officials from legal accountability even when they commit the most egregious crimes, such as imprisoning incommunicado and torturing an American citizen arrested and detained on U.S. soil.
How far will it be down that crooked road before we hear the same exact argument being applied to Bradley Manning's own illegal treatment and detention?
But as anyone who’s had one eye open can tell you, there’s something far more insidious than mere impunity going on: It’s impunity plus these same war criminals’ ability to make millions publishing ghost-written books either lying or bragging about their extralegal exploits. If you want an accurate barometer or metric for how astoundingly, shockingly, stupendously corrupt this nation and the world in general is, consider the fact that Padilla, who didn’t order the deaths of 1,000,000 human beings, invade two foreign countries on false pretenses nor loot the national Treasury to bail out oligarchs, is serving 17 years in prison while the actual terrorists are walking free and clear getting seven million dollar book deals and have huge multinational corporations bail them out of charges of bribing Nigerian officials by bribing more Nigerian officials to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollars.
(Nigeria’s “Serious Fraud Office” has made a lot of serious money before and since, handily explaining why our spam inboxes are filled with emails from Nigerian bankers. In that respect, the Nigerians rival the always corrupt Justice Department and Securities Exchange Commission that rake in astounding sums each year in “fines”. Every year, enormous sums of money change hands under our noses as if in a massive swap meet where the only commodities that are bought and sold are freedom, respectability and innocence.).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again even though better and more eloquent people had said it before me:
Be anywhere in the vicinity of a theft of $11, spend life in prison, especially if you’re discovered to be black and living down south. Plunder the Treasury and the Fed to the tune of $11 trillion for other white collar criminals and get chased like it’s Sadie Hawkins day by literary agents and publishing executives.
Be anywhere in the vicinity of a murder, spend life in prison until you’re reluctantly released, especially if you’re found to be black and living down south. Order the deaths of well over 1,000,000 Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, etc., well, it's a statistic, at best.
This sense of entitlement and the inevitable impunity of old white Republican men offends me on every conceivable level and in every way imaginable: As a human being, as a liberal, as an American, as a writer in his own right. And a thinking person can’t walk away from this Mt. Everest-sized pile of bullshit without coming to the conclusion that a Republican Party membership card doubles as a Get Out of Jail Free card unless one is unlucky enough to be left holding the bag when their number comes up in the lottery.
Jose Padilla, a gang-banger and a terrorist wannabe, was guilty of bad judgment, nothing more. The SCOTUS was about to hear his case years ago when the DOJ suddenly downgraded to charges that were far less severe but still serious enough to land him in prison for 17 years without actually hurting anyone or planning anything substantial. Once the charges were downgraded, the SCOTUS no longer wanted to hear his argument, calling it “moot.”
Over two years ago, it was so easy to blame everything on George W. Bush because much of this happened on his watch: 9/11; Katrina; Padilla’s post-Soviet show trial; warrantless wiretapping; extraordinary rendition; torture; illegal detention; suspension of habeus corpus; the illegal invasion of other countries with the aid of ginned-up prewar intelligence.
We liberals mercilessly raked Bush and the Reichstag-on-the-Potomac over the coals year after year and had a lot of savage, bitter fun doing it.
Then we elected Obama.
Then we waited for change.
We’re still waiting for that change that was announced on the campaign trail.
Then we began hearing that the Obama administration decided it wasn’t a good idea to show us those tapes and pictures of us torturing innocent brown people.
Then we began hearing he needed a little Bushian surge in Afghanistan which, as with Iraq in 2007, resulted in more US troops than ever getting killed.
Then we heard that closing down Gitmo wasn’t such a good idea, after all.
Then we heard that having terrorism trials in civilian courts also wasn’t such a good idea, after all.
Then we heard the Obama administration pushed for Phase Two of the TARP bailout.
Then we heard that he began undermining unions with the help of his rat on a leash, Stephen Rattner.
Then we began hearing that a public option in a health care bill wasn’t such a “big fucking deal”, after all.
Then we heard about lobbyists infesting the Treasury and the rest of the government like lice in a WWI trench.
Then we heard that the Obama administration actually ordered hits on US citizens without any due process whatsoever.
Then we heard that the Obama administration, with the help of the Republican Party, actually strong-armed the Spanish government into crying “¡Tio!” and dropping a probe into Bush-era torture policies.
If nothing else, this rotten, corrupt Obama administration had proven it doesn’t matter which party is in charge. That sometimes evil agendas are thrust onto the next guy in line which means that no admission of illegality whatsoever can ever be admitted.
And this doubly hurts when one remembers that our President was a Constitutional law professor in a simpler, more law-abiding life.
And when this band of criminals flees public service for greener pastures, literary agents and publishing executives will flock to them and we’ll be treated to faux tell-alls and heavily-edited, ghostwritten “memoirs” archly standing up for its own record and concluding with, “Hey, I tried, I failed, I’m out. Why are you crying to me about this?”
They will get $100,000 a pop on the rubber chicken circuit while America descends even further into a nation of shopkeepers and temp agency serfs while the next power structure sweeps their own unique war crimes under the rug in the Oval Office.
Or, as Stalin may’ve said, “If one person loses his job, it’s a tragedy. If 1,000,000 lose their jobs, it’s a statistic.”
A reader recently wrote to me in an email,
Maybe I'd understand the catharsis explanation if any of those shows featured, say, Lloyd Blankfein getting the treatment. I might have missed the episode where Jack made Angelo Mozillo beg for mercy. I gotta admit, I would've enjoyed that. The financial sector's been a target-rich environment since before Enron, but somehow popular culture keep making that particular criminal class look like what little boys (mostly) should aspire to membership in. I call fraud on Fight Club and 24 which seem to be inviting bored suburban teens to find their inner sadists as a way to fill that big void where, with a little luck, a soul may someday bloom. Meanwhile, they and everyone they know remain stubbornly blind to the suffering all around them and claim a helplessness that would make MLK blow his own brains out in frustration.
I have an idea. How 'bout somebody write the screenplay for the movie or series where a fictional American population demands and gets a full investigation of a fictional Bush administration. Just change the names, place it "somewhere in a parallel universe" and put it all out there. Is there someone in America's cultural elite who could create such a series? Liberal Hollywood? Anybody? Would America watch? It's fictional so we could even have a scene where Cheney gets waterboarded. Talk about cathartic! Think of the mountains of material available. It would write itself. A similar series could explore Wall Street's evil ways. Instead, we get the occasional documentary that keeps PR departments busy for a few months and gets a dozen asses in a few theater seats before fading into obscurity. Meanwhile, the looting, the killing, the crime spree continues and we entertain ourselves torturing imaginary foreign terrorists. Why is that?
That was in response to a discussion about why some shows and movies have a certain appeal and I mentioned the old standard writer’s answer of catharsis, a device that’s been in use since the days of the ancient Greek tragedians and probably before that.
(A sidebar: The Obama DOJ, at the same time an Obama-appointed federal judge denied Padilla’s day in court, decided to drop its 2+ year-long investigation into mega crook Angelo Mozilo. Indeed, the Obama Justice Department led by do-nothing nonentity Eric Holder has dropped more probes than a proctologist with Parkinson’s.)
But it’s catharsis that’s been inverted to make the bad guys look like the good guys and vice versa. And we can’t bring ourselves to believe that some of our fellow Americans whose names aren’t Jose Padilla or Susan Lindauer deserve to be illegally detained and tortured.
In “liberal” Hollywood that gave us Republican politicians such as Reagan, Eastwood, Jesse Ventura and Arnie, not to mention Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis, Charlton Heston, Dennis Hopper and Chuck Norris, there’s only one bad guy on Wall Street and his name is Gordon Gecko (and even Gecko was allowed to make a comeback). The terrorists are all dark, swarthy Middle Eastern types who always fuck up at the end despite having nukes they don’t have in real life.
The good guys are Jack Bauer and whoever else tortures or kills a frowning Muslim and before we all know it, we’re in that rabbit hole that goes all the way down to China and everything is turned on its head. The Wicked Witch (played by Christine O’Donnell) was just misunderstood and Hannibal Lecter is really the latter day GOP saving the helpless American people (played by Clarice Starling) from the carnivorous pigs of Communism and Socialism.
And it’s not really so much a problem of everyone wearing gray hats but that the white and black hats got switched while the lights were out.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
(Photo: Ann Althouse)
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
Can you feel the intoxicating whiff of anarchy and open rebellion in the air? It's OK to admit it. The prospect of chaos is exciting to most of us, we who find it a little harder each morning to get out of bed and face a world locked up in its own stupidity and mean-spiritedness.
On January 28th, I wrote,
The world is indeed changing and not necessarily for the worst. I see the Tunisian, Egyptian and Yemenese protesters, I remember the protesters in Iran, Mexico and Kenya and I see hope that the eternal flame of the human demand of freedom is far from extinguished. In the meantime, I wait and wonder when the day will come when the United States finally gets meaningfully involved in a worldwide cause that's even larger than national corporate interests.
Well, it can't be said that public union workers in Wisconsin are getting "meaningfully involved in a worldwide cause". Their focus is necessarily parochial. But it's a start. Or, as Tobin Harshaw asks in today's NY Times, is this "Cairo in the Midwest?"
Indeed, it seems as if Wisconsin is tearing itself apart in masochistic self-recrimination for voting out a liberal stalwart like Russ Feingold while voting in a right wing lunatic like Scott Walker as their new Governor. Personally, I can't understand the sticker shock. It's not as if Republican vampires such as Walker and Chris Christie, who's leading his own war against teachers in New Jersey, got elected by wooing public unions. And, as the old Watergate-era political saw goes, "follow the money" if you want an idea of what these lunatics will do once they take their greasy paws off the Bible. But don't believe me: Listen to what Andy Kroll of MoJo says:
Walker's plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers' playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited (PDF) Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker's collective-bargaining bill. In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state's Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.) At this moment—even with the Wisconsin uprising unresolved—the Koch brothers' investment in Walker appears to be paying off.
Inexplicably popular Republican gargoyles such as Ann Althouse, a Wisconsin native, have already swooped down on the protesters and gleefully painted them with the wide liberal hypocrite brush simply because they were protesting the draconian policies of their new right wing governor. Althouse's main piece of evidence for this shocking revelation of hypocrisy stems from a couple of ill-advised yet not altogether inaccurate Hitler signs at the protests. One would think that Althouse, technically a law professor, would have a little sympathy for her fellow educators and their concerns about having their collective bargaining rights arbitrarily stripped from them in a rash wave of "emergency legislation."
Althouse apparently never thought to ask any of the protesters in Wisconsin if they were Republican voters and just assumed they were all pot-smoking Feingold lapdogs. But then again, this is the same Ann Althouse who'd achieved fame by hallucinating the word "nigger" in a child's pajamas in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad and speculated that Jose Padilla was made to wear goggles so he wouldn't blink coded messages to his cohorts in al Qaida. (Why this neolithically stupid, stupid woman continues to get massive linkage in the NY Times, the Daily Dish and elsewhere is a mystery that perhaps only fellow space and oxygen thief Sarah Palin can answer.)
"Do not remember that I steered us into the iceberg. But here's an anchor since we're using all the life preservers."
The Republican Two Step consists of taking one step back, then another one waaay back into the Middle Ages, especially as regards public and private unions. The conservative agenda is as transparent as the slime they leave in their wake: To wreck the economy then take away an organized and united voice, hence collective bargaining, and to pay these people what they think they deserve, which is peanuts. This Irwin Allen-style legislation has, of course, a veneer of fiscal responsibility, the one eerily repeated by the Obama administration: Shared Sacrifice.
But the shared sacrifice called for by Kennedy in his inaugural and the shared sacrifice called for by Obama, and all the Republicans who've also nodded and winked to Wall St., the Koch Brothers and Goldman Sachs, are two entirely different things. Ronald Reagan just wanted America to go back to the 50's, minus the 90% tax rate. The Young Guns of the GOP, led by Christie, Walker, et. al. want to do better than that: They want to set America back to the 20's and beyond, to a time when there were no unions, no child labor laws, no woman's suffrage, a bygone day and age typified by duels and public executions. In short, the Republican agenda is to weaken this country by outsourcing as many jobs as possible, leaving behind a workforce of latter-day serfs with no say as to workplace safety, wages, job security, health care, pensions or any negotiation powers whatsoever. If that sounds like an oversimplification, then take a look around you and then tell me what the logical outcome, the nth degree would be were all this disaster economics to get more than a toe-hold in this country.
The mainstream media, typically, get it wrong when covering the riots in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, etc. The one thing it consistently gets wrong by omission is telling us not only why so many countries in northern Africa and the Middle East are erupting but in drawing a necessary corollary:
The rioters and protesters, who are invariably referred to by the MSM as "anti-government" as if they're wild-eyed, simple-minded, bomb-throwing anarchists with no interest in democracy, are rioting for reasons other than a thirst for a democratic process. They're also rioting over scare jobs, scarce money, scarce necessities such as food and clean, potable drinking water.
We're not at the point where we start rioting over food and clean water but where the people of Tunisia and Egypt are now is where right wing nation killers like Walker and Christie want to put us. You want to look at our future under Republican governance, look no further than the theocratic police states of the third world of North Africa and the Middle East, a Third World that has an even smaller middle class than us, in which the poor live practically side by side with royalty and oligarchs like Mubarak.
So if we're going to protest with our long-lost, estranged brothers and sisters in north Africa and the Middle East, I'd say better now than later, before we, too, are reduced to throwing rocks and desperately hoping for the best. We still have a long way to go since we bundle up and stave off the cold with hot cups of Vanilla Chai from the corner Dunkin' Donuts and get back home before the next American Idol. But it's a start.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I guess Speaker of the House John Boehner cares about job creation, after all... as long as it takes place in his home state of Ohio.
There's a showdown brewing over the F-35 fighter jet engine, "its fate to be decided by more than 90 freshmen lawmakers who previously haven't had to choose sides between two major defense companies," according to Andrew Taylor of the AP.
More like pitting lobbyists of "two major defense companies" against each other, with these freshman Republicans ultimately voting for which ones have provided the most campaign contributions. These freshman Republican lawmakers, including the 26 "mavericks" who briefly rebelled against three provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT which were up for renewal only to cave on Valentine's Day, can do one of three things. They can vote to give the $450,000,000 F-35 contract to GEAE (with plants in Ohio and other states), vote for Pratt Whitney (with plants in Connecticut and elsewhere) OR
...they could do the right thing and side with the president and Defense Secretary and decide to write off the F-35 as too costly. The Obama administration and Dr. Gates both insist the F-35 would waste about $3 billion over the next few years. But either of those three choices could come back to bite them on election day 2012.
It's yet to be seen if the smaller government Tea Baggers who elected 52 of these lunatics to the Tea Party caucus would approve of their puppets cutting spending from the wars they seem to love so much. $158 billion of the bill is earmarked for the worthless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The E Word
So while everyone in Congress is all hyped up on the F-35 Word, no one's mentioning the "E" word, the "E", of course, being Earmarks. The supposedly anti earmark 112th Congress is lobbying for a half a billion dollar jet engine to be made by one defense contractor or another but the battle isn't along party lines but regional ones. If you ask John Boehner which contractor ought to get the F-35 contract, why, he'll say GE because they have a plant in Ohio.
If you were to ask any lawmaker from Connecticut or whereever else Pratt Whitney has plants, take a wild guess and guess which one they'll vote for. But how is bringing jobs to one's home state or district, laudable as it may seem on the surface, not qualify as an earmark?
Meanwhile, on the dark side of the bill, no one seems to care about the Draconian cuts in the budget that, thanks to Republican obstructionism, was punted from the 111th to the 112th Congress. Here's an example:
The Food and Drug Administration budget would decline by 10 percent, and spending also would fall by 10 percent for a food program for pregnant women and mothers and their children.
Republicans have no problem earmarking almost half a billion dollars for an overpriced, redundant jet engine but would not think twice about endangering food safety and taking more food out of the mouths of pregnant women and children. So much for their pro-life stance.
In fact, the massive bill would feature $61,000,000,000 in cuts for such domestic programs to make room for war and war machines such as the F-35 alternative engine. And when they've cut virtually all aid to the indigent, Republicans will then seek more cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other federal entitlement programs so they can keep feeding the defense contractors who are even now sending an army of lobbyists to viciously fight for contracts that would lead the deaths of other poor people...
...while mealy-mouthing platitudes about being pro-life, fiscal responsibility and slashing earmarks.
Friday, February 11, 2011
I gave these Egyptian protesters a lot more credit until I read this late-breaking development.
"The people ousted the regime," they're calling out in Tahir Square and all over Egypt without once considering that just because Mubarak scuttled out of Cairo it doesn't mean the regime has been toppled. Make no mistake about it: The regime is still very much in place and will get more support from the US than as if it had been toppled and an all-inclusive, multicoalition democratic government such as the one being formed in Tunisia was taking its place.
Mubarak left power in the hands of the military, which is always an ominous sign. Since the regime still retains iron-clad control over the "reform" process, how can the regime do this without the military that was still at least partially in Mubarak's corner?
They were crying tears of joy until Mubarak made his most recent speech and they found out he wasn't going, after all. Now that he's finally physically leaving the capital, they're crying tears of joy again. In a way, they're as bad as we naive and gullible Americans.
Suleiman, who as Vice President, was in the public eye for far less time than Nadya Denise Doud-Suleman, aka Octomom, apparently has joined the ranks of the unemployed that had been protesting the regime since late last month. He's been written completely out of the process, meaning that his installation as Mubarack's first vice president ever was a sham all along.
Mohamed elBaradei, Egypt's top political opposition leader, seems no closer to getting in the mix of things than he ever was. He still has virtually no standing with the US government that, until recently, backed their man Hosni.
Wake up, Egypt: There's no democratic reform in the works. Your country is now ruled by a collective military dictatorship and the corrupt, dictatorial government you think you toppled is still very much entrenched. You may very well have gone from the frying pan into the fire.
This is just the beginning, Egypt.
...with a guy inside dressed as an oil rig roughneck for Sarah Palin? It would serve Todd right.
Yes, today's Sarah Palin's 47th birthday and no doubt we'll be seeing the fetishism we saw this past week with Reagan's centennial.
Before Sarah Palin, February 11th was a more somber occasion for me: It was one year to the day before Palin was born in Idaho that one of my favorite poets, Sylvia Plath committed suicide not long after finding out that her husband, world-class scumbag Ted Hughes, also was having an extramarital affair.
Yet Plath died alone, virtually unknown and penniless while Sarah Palin gets chased by literary agents and makes $7,000,000 a pop for books she doesn't even write. And people wonder why I'm a militant atheist.
Overall, Plath's suicide is still a happier day to contemplate every February 11th. However, if you're more scientifically-minded, today's also Thomas Edison's birthday.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
...in this story out of western New York state:
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Young Americans already face a future defined by an inescapable reckoning. They already tend to look at our grand entitlements as phantoms, as dead entitlements walking. They already know the problem isn't that we have too few college graduates, but that we -- like Tunisia and (gasp!) China, to mention a few -- have too many for the market to absorb. And they already know that all the science and math in the world can't serve to nourish our personal and cultural convictions about the purpose and character of American life in transformed times.
When will Obama's generation reckon with that? - James Poulos
(Tip o' the tinfoil hat to John Rove at Dead Issue.)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
"...it's been 47 seconds since my last text."
This country has gone to Hell in a non flame-proof hand basket. Thanks to the always-informed Mrs. JP comes this story from Apple: The Confession App.
Now, it's more than safe to say I've never been a practicing Catholic let alone a recovering one. But what does it say about the state of organized religion when the RCC actually approves an iPhone application whereby you can send details of your every mortal sin into the ethers?
And who's listening to these impersonal confessions in between cell phone pictures of our penises and dirty text messages to our secretaries?
The app also features a step-by-step guide through the church ritual (which typically takes place inside a confessional booth), as well as password protection — so no one but the priest gets to find out about your dirty deeds.
Uh huh. Well, if the response isn't to "text Our Father and Hail Mary 20 times apiece" as penance, chances are it's also being heard by guys like this:
"Hey, Agent Smith, look at this: This guy loves to fuck pineapples while watching Lawrence Welk! Ha haw!"
"Tell him to blow every executive of Chiquita Brand as penance!"
Monday, February 7, 2011
I'm still trying to decide if Barack Obama is stupid, naive, delusional, brain-damaged, bought-and-sold or a combination of all five. Otherwise, I cannot find a rational explanation for him addressing the US Star Chamber of Commerce today and thinking he can appeal to the patriotism of CEOs who are bound and determined to destroy America by hook and especially by crook.
Under a guise of strained civility, Obama said in part, "I understand that you’re under incredible pressure to cut costs and keep your margins up. I understand the significance of your obligations to your shareholders. I get it. But as we work with you to make America a better place to do business, ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy, and to invest in this nation."
Now, it's bad enough when Obama has to essentially steal from a dead Democrat, and one who stood up to Big Business, especially Big Steel during its 1962 strike. But he quoted the wrong speech by Kennedy.
When Big Steel pulled a bait and switch and got the workers to stop striking for better wages in exchange for a promise not to raise steel prices only to raise the price when a strike was avoided, Kennedy was hopping mad and delivered an address that should be dusted off and trotted out every time Big Business pulls something scummy like this. This is what Kennedy said in part on April 11, 1962 (slightly edited for historical relevance):
In this serious hour in our Nation's history when we are confronted with grave crises... when we are devoting our energies to economic recovery and stability, when we are asking reservists to leave their homes and their families for months on end and servicemen to risk their lives... and asking union members to hold down their wage requests at a time when restraint and sacrifice are being asked of every citizen, the American people will find it hard, as I do, to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of... executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for the interests of... Americans.
The "tiny handful of executives" to which Kennedy was angrily referring was, of course, the steel executives who had betrayed the public trust as well as that of their steel workers. The workers, in a show of unity and shared sacrifice, did their part but the steel executives did not and asked for a $6 a ton increase once they'd gotten what they wanted.
Kennedy could've used this as a springboard for demanding government regulation of every business and every industry but he did not. This is the nature of business, this is the mindset of business executives who enjoy little to no regulation and privately laugh at the president and his initiatives the second his back is turned. The steel executives who'd pulled this bait and switch are of the same mindset as the psychopaths who belong to and run the US Chamber of Commerce led by Tom Donohue.
It's impossible for me, anyone fairly conversant in JFK's legacy, to imagine the 35th president making such a gutless speech riddled with delusion and naivete as the one delivered today by Obama before a sworn enemy in the US Chamber of Commerce, an entity that brazenly goes on national television to preach the dubious virtues of outsourcing of American jobs to their overseas plants.
Maybe Kennedy was a little naive in trusting the word of steel executives obsessed with their bottom lines but they never fooled him again. Obama is like Charlie Brown who never learns that the business community will always snatch that football from him at the last second, that they will smile and shake his hand and pat his back in public then go ahead and invest tens of millions more to defeat even his tepid domestic agendas.
Obama played to their patriotism, asking them to join the government in helping to build infrastructure, reminding them that they have a civic responsibility. One can only imagine how many CEO's were either privately or openly smirking when Obama asked them to invest in infrastructure. The closest that Big Business ever got to infrastructure renewal was when Merril Lynch CEO John Thain spent $1.2 million redecorating his office.
And yet, as you will see in the comment section of that WSJ blog post, there are those who still see this corporate kow-tower as a Marxist and wouldbe Socialist dictator. To them I say this:
It's people like them who should wear football helmets until the time to get tucked into bed at night. People like them who continually try to claim that Obama is some "Marxist/ socialist" (God, if ONLY) are simply racists who can't stand the idea of a black man being in the White House and have substituted "nigger" and "coon" with "Marxist" and "Socialist." This man is, if anything, even more pro-corporate than the fucking idiot who came before him, which is saying something. He bailed out Wall Street with virtually no conditions as Bush had, bailed out the automakers without setting any preconditions on them, he's used more war profiteers than Bush ever did and even just appointed that Wall Street scumbag Daley to be his new Chief of Staff just to show the business community that he loves them. The health care "reform" was essentially a massive giveaway, a third bailout, to the giant HMOs and Big Pharma (which contained the additional gift of a secretly-engineered $80,000,000,000 cap on reimbursements) that had no public option, a bill the Chamber spent over $100,000,000 lobbying against.
To call such a tool of the Bilderburg Group a "Marxist" and "wouldbe Socialist dictator" tells me that I just wasted about ten minutes of my life that I'll never get back to racist scumbags who would deny the sky was blue and the grass green if Obama said it was. And they can go fuck themselves and go back to Free Republic and Red State where they belong.
In return for Obama's pleas for more cooperation from a Chamber that is doing its level best to get him out of office (for the wrong reasons), Donohue choked back a laugh of his own and promised to not spend on any money on the next election.
Which is really funny considering the Citizen's United vs the FEC decision that allows the Chamber to spend laundered and fungible funds from multinational corporations in perfect anonymity on right wing candidates. The same right wing candidates on whom they'd lavished $32,000,000 during the 2010 midterms.
Yeah, if I had to deliver that speech, Barry, I'd be choking back a laugh, too.
Kennedy ended his address on the steel strike with these bitter words: "Some time ago I asked each American to consider what he would do for his country and I asked the steel companies. In the last 24 hours we had their answer."
And Mr. Obama should get his very soon and will no doubt be very surprised when he realizes that Tuesday brought Big Business as usual.
"...therefore, what are we to infer from last year's Super Bowl? It was numbered... 44! That's right, 44, people. A very mystical and important number. Gee, what number president is Obama? 44! Almost the same age that JFK was when he was elected president. So, yesterday's Super Bowl, also watched by Obama, was numbered 45. Now, what are we to infer from that? C'mon, people, do I have to do all your thinking for you? Barack Obama, aka Barry Soetero, plans on becoming the 45th president by suspending the amendment limiting presidents to two terms! And Lord help us if he watches next year's Super Bowl, #46..."
I feel an Assclowns of the Week coming on and just in time for CPAC this week. So, pass along your dispatches from Wingnuttia since I'll have less time for web surfing what with a new, expensive car repair bill to look forward to, job hunting, trying to sell my new novel, etc.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Henry James once described walking through Pompeii, "a heartless pleasure." So is rooting for a team in the Super Bowl that isn't the hometown team. Jill at Brilliant @ Breakfast is rooting for Green Bay for purely liberal-based reasons: because the Packers are the only community-owned franchise in the NFL. Me? I'm old enough enough to know when to pick my battles and where to draw the line if at all. Plus, the Super Bowl is one of those occasions when I decide to go non-partisan and forget about politics and causes for a few hours. Plus, I live in New England, which automatically makes you an AFC guy. I couldn't root for an NFC team to win the Super Bowl any more than I can root for the National League in the World Series (except maybe if the Yankees are representing the AL).
So, I'm going to throw in my lot with Big Ben and the Steelers, even though they're old foes of the Pats. Plus, they were the team we were playing when Drew Bledsoe got that injury that ended his career in New England and began that of a young 4th string quarterback named Tom Brady. So there's the sentimental angle there.
So, since Mrs. JP wanted to watch the Super Bowl at a local pub, that's what we'll do, even though we'll wind up spending the last of our post-1st-of-the-month-bill money. I'll try not to barf up my chicken wings and blue cheese or make a spectacle of myself when Fox Sports inevitably decides to wish former sportscaster Ronnie Reagan a Happy 100th Birthday.
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
Ronald Reagan must be the nicest president who ever destroyed a union, tried to cut school lunch milk rations from six to four ounces, and compelled families in need of public help to first dispose of household goods in excess of $1,000...1f there is an authoritarian regime in the American future, Ronald Reagan is tailored to the image of a friendly fascist. - Robert Lekachman
About the only true good thing that could be said about Ronald Reagan was that he'd retired from the most stressful job in the world with a full head of hair and he didn't do the damage he could've on account of all the naps he took.
Today is Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday and his fascistic followers are celebrating the day with all the pomp, circumstance and money-grubbing alacrity that unabashed fascists celebrate April 20th. You go to any bookstore, there will be the obligatory retrospective hagiographies commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth courtesy of our nation's most premier wingnuts and publishing houses. As with everything else, it's a great opportunity to make money and young college Republicans can now learn through his official biographers how Saint Ronnie of the Jelly Bean nearly completely destroyed middle class families like theirs.
To put it simply, as far as full term presidents go, Ronald Reagan is absolutely the worst, most destructive and dishonest president (George W. Bush would get that top honor if he was actually elected) this republic has ever produced. Under Reagan, the deficit tripled, national defense spending increased, he got a massive wave of tax breaks designed primarily to benefit his wealthy campaign contributors, public education took a rogering, he tried unsuccessfully to take food and milk out of our childrens' mouths at the same time he was giving tax breaks to corporations, more soldiers than ever died for his foreign policy adventurism, he was a coward and cut and ran when terrorists killed 241 of our Marines in Beirut, he cut back room deals with the contras under the fictional guise of combating the Commies, funneled money to them through arms sales to Iran and before he was even elected, sent envoys to talk to Iranian officials and illegally meddling with the hostage crisis under Carter (the all-but-discredited October Surprise which is making a comeback).
In late 1983, he sent another special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld (about to be anointed by CPAC with the Defender of the Constitution Award), to sell Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein weapons of mass destruction and satellite photos of the Iranian army's encampments, thereby resulting in the murders of thousands of Iranians (and Kurdish and Shi'ite Iraqis). But earlier, he made it up to the Iranians by immediately lifting an arms sales ban and brokered a sale of weapons by ex-Mossad gun runners. He flexed his muscles on the beach while in reality doing nothing more than watching the surf crumble the sand castle of Communism then took credit for kicking it down. He overthrew another left wing government under Maurice Bishop by invading Grenada. His "supply side economics" was the forerunner of the unbridled and unchecked greed and capitalism that served as the successful template of the nightmare that ensued under Bush II.
That's just a partial laundry list of what a galactic-class scumbag Ronald Reagan was, a man who demonized the victims of his economic policies and dredged up stereotypes of the welfare queen, used dog whistle politics for racists by announcing his candidacy in a city in which three civil rights workers were murdered just 16 years earlier and smashed one union after another. He stole Jimmy Carter's playbook during that same campaign. His axe man, future jailbird David Stockman, immediately targeted the poor and sickly, immediately eliminating government-subsidized job training such as CETA (resulting in 300,000 suddenly unemployed federal workers) that still hasn't made a comeback. (I guess Reagan took the government underwriting training designed to make people more employable to be the "meddling" that he'd warned us about.)
He not only coddled and protected Noriega, but he even put him on the CIA's payroll and turned a blind eye when Nicaraguan drugs were making their way onto America's streets while having the nerve to appoint an ineffectual "Drug Czar" and his equally clueless wife was saying, "Just Say No!". He coddled and protected Pinochet in Chile until Pinochet's hideous exceeses were too much even for Reagan to tolerate (.pdf file). But the ends justified the means because they were our staunch allies in the war on
terrorism the dying Communists. He mentioned the word AIDS only once, in 1985, and otherwise pretended the pandemic didn't exist.
And through it all, the Teflon President sailed, smiled and waved through all these scandals like some befuddled old duffer unaware of his family's murderous, chaotic greed and ambition swirling around him. In point of fact, the man's evil was so systemic and so far-flung that we still haven't cataloged what a truly evil man he really was.
Kind of like the guy we have in the Oval Office now. As with Reagan before him, Obama puts a fresh face on fascism, the man who pats you on the back and tells you everything will be alright while his TSA, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security and God only knows how many other government goons are frisking the rest of your body. Both men have other things in common, including the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression (Reagan still outshines Obama, as the unemployment rate in 1983 peaked at a whopping 10.2%.) But Obama, friendly fascist though he is, had also had a lot of mud unfairly flung at him and much of it sticks.
He's a Socialist, a Muslim, a fraud who was born in Kenya. He pals around with terrorists. He's bound and determined to hand over 1/6th of our economy into the grasping hands of Big Gubmint. He didn't put his hand over his heart. He's not wearing his flag lapel pin. He disrespected the Office of the Presidency by not wearing his jacket. He muffed a Bible verse. He wants to impose Sharia law on the United States.
And he's a smoker.
Yet nothing, certainly not the truth, stuck to Reagan thanks to those slick, tailored suits and an endless supply of Brylcreem. He represented to many ignorant people, well-meaning folks and fascists-in-waiting a return to the good old days when he actually had a career in acting, a return to a glorious America somewhere between 40 acres and a mule and Jimmy Carter's sweaters, as if we could actually get that dusty, dog-eared 1955 calendar out of the attic and begin reusing it.
How soon we forgot that those good old days, let's say the 50's, were ones in which, under Eisenhower, the wealthiest paid 90% in taxes, that Reagan was a liberal Democrat who headed up a large union called the Screen Actor's Guild. How fast we chose to forget that by 1962 Reagan had turned from a so-called Democrat to a staunch, union-busting Republican, that he would follow in the footsteps of not Dwight D. Eisenhower but Joe McCarthy. In fact, Reagan's example had not only gone uncriticized, it even spawned a still-famous movement involving petty turncoats who were dubbed "Reagan Democrats." (They've since awakened from their slumber and have switched back.)
12 years of policies ranging from the ruinous to the neglectful ensued and once St. Ronnie was out of office, we all suddenly blinked and rubbed our eyes and wondered where the devastation came from. By 1992, three years after Reagan stumbled back to his California ranch and beginning 12 more years of mistaking his tapioca for hair tonic, 48% of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of Reagan. Less than a quarter of those polled said we were better off, a bitter counterpoint to Reagan's campaign mantra of, "Can you say you're better off now than you were four years ago?"
But 1992 was almost a generation ago and now The Gipper is making a comeback like another dictator is in his own country.
Yet, in case all this hasn't made an impression on you, let's take a look at the real "Dutch" Reagan, who wasn't really Dutch anymore than he was The Gipper, in this video that was secretly taped at the Oval Office.
Yeah, that about gets it right.
So, here's my idea. In lieu of a minute of silence, let's have a minute of piss while we're standing over or sitting on the toilet and think of Ronald Reagan's grave.