Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Death by Misadventurism

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

"It's important that I don't get too knowledgeable about the past." - Wallace Booth, on becoming president of United Brands in 1975

At first, the title will make one think that I’ve taken a dog-eared page out of Sarah Palin’s version of Hooked on Phonics. But I decided to coin a new word because “misadventurism” is essentially the only word that distills the perennial lunacy that ensues no matter which party controls the White House.

American foreign policy, whether guided by the White House, the State Department, the Council on Foreign Relations, US corporations or a hybrid of all, has always had a bifurcated, Jekyll and Hyde quality to it. The nation that gave the world the post-war Marshall Plan and Japan with an all-inclusive yet unique constitution courtesy of Gen. Douglas MacArthur has also given it the Bush Doctrine and Cheney’s scorched earth 1% Doctrine. The nation that has come to the aid of literally dozens of countries in their direst hours of need has also ignored the crippling poverty of nations such as Haiti, Afghanistan and others in the 3rd world while invading others for disingenuous or transparently pro-corporate purposes. For every Camp David Accord that brought peace to Israel and Egypt, there have surely been dozens of Bay of Pigs and Gulf of Tonkin resolutions.

Until now, the Reagan years were regarded by pacifists and liberals as the heyday of American adventurism. While shaking a rusty saber at Communists both real and imagined, Reagan got us involved where we didn’t belong, namely in Lebanon, El Salvador, Grenada and other nations including some that haven’t even made the official record. During his eight years in office, the Great Communicator snuggled up to more tyrants than gaudy sashes, one of the most notorious being the right wing dictator Augusto Pinochet who was aided on another September 11th by the Kissinger-hatched plot to overthrow the democratically-elected Salvador Allende.

And, to prove what a pathetically hopeless product he was of his own generation, when Islamic Jihad terrorists killed 242 Marines (and 57 French) in two suicide truck bombings, Reagan cut and ran. He was great at shaking his wrinkled, liver-spotted fist at Communists real or imagined but when it came to the more relevant and unconventional threat of Islamic terrorism, he was utterly clueless and worthless.

Reagan merely continued a long, proud tradition of making tacit alliances and enemies of onetime allies while helping to create monsters that we later couldn’t control. It’s a ruinous policy of imperial American adventurism that immediately turns into misadventurism and the only ones who benefit, it seems, are the corporations that invariably wait in the wings for the US military to finish mopping up for their grand but silent entrance.

And if Barack Obama is sincere about restoring America’s integrity and credibility in the Muslim world in the wake of the arrogant, unilateral and lawless Bush years, he couldn’t have chosen a worse way to do it.

After a hiatus of several months, Wikileaks, through its new mouthpiece, the Washington Post, tells us that the Obama administration has continued a Bush-era propaganda scheme of using the State Department to funnel millions into the funding of an anti-government TV station run by Syrian dissidents. Its signal is beamed into Damascus and beyond by satellite and, as with Bush and Rice State Department, this propaganda program is continuing with Obama and the Clinton State Department.

This cynical piggy-backing of popular sentiment in order to legitimize and make nobler our adventurism is something you’d expect from warhawk Republicans intent on regime change in nations whose own domestic policy isn’t in line with American corporate interests. Many of the 72,000,000 who’d voted for Obama two and a half years ago (if they cared enough about it to learn of this latest disclosure) wouldn’t have expected it of a man who’d promised us “hope and change” when all he’s done is continue one failed Bush policy after another while dreaming up new ones of his own.

Blowback to the Future

Most, if not all, blowbacks are unintentional. For instance, when one remembers Charlie Wilson’s war, you rarely hear anyone include a footnote that a large part of the hundreds of millions he got in funding and training for the Afghan mujahedin to fight the occupying Soviets also gave rise to the terrorist network that would become an American household word after 9/11. Osama bin Laden, as we all know, used to be the good guy, a simple freedom fighter who shared with us a common enemy of the Reagan administration: The Soviet Union.

And, to be fair to those in power back then, the Soviets at the start of their own crusade into Afghanistan still looked pretty formidable and capable of taking on the United States and quite a few of its allies. Little did we know the USSR would only have about twelve years left before beginning a half-hearted slouch toward a pseudo-democracy.

But partly because of our blindly pro-Israel policies bin Laden had already been grinding an axe against his temporary benefactors and became the ultimate blowback. This was brought about by a persistent naïvete and ignorance of the Muslim world that persisted in 2003 when Bush didn't know soon-to-be-invaded Iraq was largely divided along Sunni and Shia lines, when Deputy Undersecretary of State Paul Wolfowitz insisted that all Muslims in Iraq were secular and when Cheney insisted we’d all be greeted as liberators.

And this willful ignorance and naïvete regarding Muslim matters continues throughout the administration of a man whom the far right wing has demonized as a Muslim himself. This errant stupidity is vividly delineated by Obama extra-Congressionally getting US forces involved in aiding Libyan insurgents who’d previously enjoyed an insurgent status in Iraq by attacking and killing American troops. (In light of the Obama administration’s risible insistence that we’re not at war with Libya, it’ll be interesting to say the least how the White House will spin it when the first US ground troops from Libya start arriving horizontally on the transports at Dover AFB.)

The problem with (mis)adventurism abroad is we wind up alienating more hearts and minds than we win. It’s a long-since proven truism that home invasions, wanton slaughter of civilians and cowardly, unmanned drone air strikes controlled by joystick jockeys on military bases in Nevada wind up radicalizing and nationalizing a civilian population that previously was more concerned with simple day to day survival. Yet right wingers, especially, still audaciously say time and again on Fox “News” that the indigenous peoples whose nations we’ve invaded and occupied, the people whom we’ve detained, beaten, tortured, impoverished, raped and maimed ought to show some gratitude!

To cite just Afghanistan, the American military has done more to destroy homes, families and entire villages than the regional terrorist network known as the Taliban. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Afghanistan, nearly a decade after the US invasion of 2001, is still allowing the opium crops to flourish at the insistence of our puppet Hamid Karzai and his drug-dealing brother while ignoring Afghanistan’s eternal poverty (as of 2006, they were still the 6th-poorest country in the world, according to the CIA Factbook.). Under American involvement, women’s rights have taken a large step or two backward as the Taliban has taken back key cities and provinces.

The ironic thing is that Afghanistan is, in theory, one of the richest nations on earth in terms of undeveloped oil and natural gas fields. Their undeveloped mineral resources are alone valued at roughly a trillion dollars.

But Afghanistan will never have the leisure of developing its natural resources and assuming its rightful place in the global economy as long as there’s a state of perpetual war any more than Iraq will achieve a stable, democratic government and free and fair elections as long as they’re in a state of perpetual war. If Afghanis are beginning to view our unending involvement and propping up of an obviously corrupt regime with circumspection, can anyone really blame them? On a rare quiet night in Kabul, an Afghani farmer will be able to hear Halliburton and Bechtel licking their chops and rubbing their cloven hooves.

Whose Bottom Line is it, Anyway?

Our entry into World War II forever ended America’s policy of isolationism. From the time of Truman on down, every single US president without exception has funded or otherwise gotten involved with civil wars, revolutions, coups, vest pocket wars and every class of incursion. But in Latin America and the Middle East during the early 50’s, we saw a disturbing element in the mix: The protection and enrichment of Anglo-American corporate interests. In Latin America it was United Fruit (eventually renamed Chiquita Brand). In Iran, it was BP.

From time to time it’s convenient and even incumbent on the incumbent President or Secretary of State to denounce certain tyrants for human rights abuses and while technically these denunciations are often unassailably true, what you’ll never hear is any American administration making similar denunciations of human rights abuses at the hands of American corporations. Whether it be Chiquita or Coca Cola or Halliburton or Chevron, there has never been a single recorded instance of the United States government stepping in to end, curb or even criticize a corporation that hires mercenary thugs to kill the indigenous people for simply protesting their collective rape.

We all know the reason for this. It’s the most open secret in the world. After his homeowner relief bill was defeated, Sen. Dick Durbin alluded to it when he said of the banksters, “they frankly own the place.” Corporations have bankrolled candidates for countless decades and the minute a candidate grows a spine and opposes his contributors’ agenda is the second their grip on incumbency begins to slip. As freelance journalist Michael Collins says time and again, there’s no Republican or Democratic party but one: The Money Party.

But corporations began bankrolling candidates then entering political activism decades before Citizen’s United vs the FEC was ruled on by the SCOTUS January last year. And while the Supreme Court insisted on using the false and dangerous argument that corporations are people, too, they seemingly forgot to invest ordinary biological entities with the same rights they gave to corporations: Namely the power to contribute unlimited sums of money to candidates without disclosing how much and, in doing so, even keeping their name from being publicly mentioned.

If you think corporations are twisting and subverting American foreign policy now, just wait and see what they do to this planet of ours when Citizen’s United gets fully entrenched in the electoral process if it hasn’t already. We’ve already proved time and again we’ll go to war and overturn democracies over oil and fruit and to keep the military industrial complex well-fed. What will it be tomorrow? Will we go to war with Canada at the behest of Johnson & Johnson over prescription drugs? Will Google send us into Red China so they can take over the last great frontier of internet access? Don’t stay tuned. Coming up next, another thrilling episode of American Idol.

And reckless, deadly pro-corporate adventurism and diplomatic hugger mugger only helps to create contradictory, tacit alliances that fall apart the moment these entities realize they no longer need American financing, training and political and diplomatic support.

One has to wonder what opportunistic Osama bin Laden of the future currently receiving US aid is waiting in the wings, what other monsters with which we’ll have to contend when they seize the moment to come screaming out of the closet and into America on a bright, sunny Tuesday morning. And what monsters will we have to create or cultivate in order to combat them?

And one is also permitted to wonder when we’ll at last return to the isolationism that served us well between the beginning of the 20th century and World War I.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thumbtack observations

Since losing my internet access at home a week ago, I just don't have the time or the resources to do the necessary research that a typical post requires. Still, I'd like to keep my hand in and not totally disappear into that not-so-good night.

What follows is mainly commentary off the top of my head, moreso of an opinion piece than usual.

Firstly, it bothers me that Obama is cynically jumping on this pro-democracy bandwagon that's caught fire and sent barreling toward presidential palaces all over the Middle East and Northern Africa. What's especially galling is that the Obama administration has found another way to continue the Bush administration's ruinous foreign policy by continuing to fund, according to Wikileaks, through the State Department anti-government propaganda in Syria.

On the face of it, opposing the autocratic rule of a tyrant such as Bashar al-Assad, whose thugs have killed scores of Syrian protesters, may look like a valiant, proper and moral position. But let's remember that the right wing of our government has always had a throbbing, oozing hardon for al-Assad ever since the Iraq War began. The GOP's erection for regime change just got harder when the false meme started circulating that Saddam's phantom menace of WMD were never found because they'd been spirited away to Syria.

And let's not forget how berserk the Republican White House went when Nancy Pelosi went with a bipartisan delegation in 2007 to talk to Bashar al-Assad (despite the GOP meeting with the same man at around the same time.).

Obama secretly supporting this, until now, underreported pro-democracy movement in Syria is infinitely more dangerous because now our latest round of rash adventurism is brilliantly masqueraded by popular consensus and makes the US look like the democracy-givers that the Bush administration could never be.

So why the continuance of secret financing? And doesn't the current junta in the White House reads its history? If they did, they'll know that, our own history aside, it's always better to let the indigenous people bring about their own regime change without cynical ulterior motives by larger, more powerful countries meddling in their affairs.

Besides, financing TV stations to disseminate propaganda is one of the many things the Bush administration did in both Iraq and here at home and continued by the Obama administration.

This propaganda continues regarding our so-called success in Afghanistan and alleged non-involvement in Libya even as we're openly bombing their country and supporting anti-government forces that just happen to be largely made up of Libyan insurgents who had engaged and killed our troops in Iraq four years ago.

It seems to me that one of the biggest failings today of the MSM not to mention the liberal movement (such as it is) is the unwillingness and/or the inability to clearly and forcefully articulate a return to our isolationist policy of a century ago.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bay of Pigs II

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion that was the first major setback of the Kennedy administration. The actual bombing of the airfields and diversionary sorties had actually started on April 15th but the ground invasion itself began on April 17th.

At least in the popular mind, the Bay of Pigs was the brainchild of a brash and immature President Kennedy, who had just been installed in office less than three months prior. What escapes perhaps all but astute historians is that the Bay of Pigs invasion was actually hatched by the outgoing Eisenhower administration with the help of the likes of E. Howard Hunt, CIA Chief John Foster Dulles and, after Eisenhower suffered medical setbacks, even Vice President Richard Nixon. The understanding is that Nixon would ride Eisenhower's coattails into the White House and the invasion would go off as planned.

But Kennedy won the presidency by the narrowest of margins. However, under pressure from warhawk Republicans and the still-powerful anti-Communist sentiment in America, Kennedy was forced to go with an invasion of Cuba that served as a prescient example that sometimes invading a country and engaging in conventional warfare against Communist forces was not a good idea. After all, the Domino Theory regarding Southeast Asia had fallen apart the minute we withdrew our forces from Saigon in late April 1975. Communism did not sweep across SE Asia any more than it metastasized across the water from Cuba to Miami in the wake of the failure of the CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion. Not only that, it perhaps served as a reminder to President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year of the folly of hurling the country headlong into an even more dangerous gambit with Communist forces.

You don't have to be a geopolitical savant to know that we now live in a much different world but as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Dirty tricks and politics will always go hand in grubby hand, false flag operations are always on the table. The major difference is that neither Kennedy nor the press had to be overly concerned about domestic issues more pressing than the bait and switch scumbaggery pulled off by the steel industry.

Obviously, that much is different. Kennedy had inherited an economically stable United States thanks to the steady and pragmatic stewardship of his predecessor. There was no talk, none that has survived posterity, anyway, of defunding then privatizing Social Security. Unemployment hit an uncomfortable 6.6% the month before Kennedy's inauguration. But that's still a far cry from the 9.5-10% rates we're seeing today.

OsborneInk summed it up with elegant simplicity when s/he said Republicans "would spend the 21st Century undoing the 20th Century." Indeed, on top of supporting reckless military adventurism (except when waged by a black guy), Republicans have also embraced birther conspiracy theories (while denouncing 9/11 conspiracy theories), smashing public and private unions, repealing child labor laws, waged an all-out assault on any government regulation on corporations, have shown as much contempt for the planet earth as the non-millionaires living on it and have more than hinted they'd love nothing more than to repeal "ObamaCare" as well as the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts.

In short, any regressive measure, whether it be one that strips rights from workers and even working children, anything that pollutes and destroys the earth, anything that widens the gulf between rich and poor, you can be sure the Republican Party will champion to their last raspy breath.

It's hard to believe any of this would've happened or taken a toehold if JFK was running the country today. Kennedy knew when to work and compromise with Republicans but he also knew how to pick his battles, unlike the current steward. Obama has rarely stood his ground with Republicans, war-crazed generals in the Pentagon and certainly against corporations. Kennedy would've been smarter than to go out of his way to alienate his base by snapping at them for exercising their first amendment rights while giving one free pass after another to Bircher Tea Baggers openly calling for his assassination.

The Bay of Pigs we're seeing today is a domestic one. Indeed, the pigs have taken over Animal Farm and Obama and the American public at large is just as powerless to stop the occupation as Farmer Jones and friends. We're at war and while our egotistical Chief Executive is posing next to busts of Lincoln and jogging to his memorial to show the government is still open, he ought to be taking cues from a more contemporary example, a more courageous president, one who wasn't cowed by and didn't capitulate to Republicans and corporations.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good News and Bad News

First, I'll give you the potential good news:

For those of you weren't told directly by me, I'd given up on literary agents and had begun to send proposals for my new novel, The Toy Cop, directly to publishing executives and senior editors. Within hours, I got three nibbles. Jason Kaufman of Doubleday agreed to look at the sample chapters I'd sent and Bob Loomis, VP at Random House, said it wasn't his cup of tea but consented to pass it along to an acquisitions editor at RH's imprint, Ballantine.

The biggest nibble came from Judith Curr, Senior VP and Publisher at Atria Books (she's the founder), a major imprint of Simon and Schuster. Understanding, as with Jason Kaufman, how frustrating it can be to find an agent, she'd requested the entire manuscript, Apparently liking what she'd read, she tried to hook me up with a literary agent (who'd, unfortunately for her, rejected it with a form rejection letter just nine days prior to this.). Since then, she's passed the book along to Nick Simonds, an acquisitions editor on her staff. As Ms. Curr reminded me, she's not an editor and while she may have autonomous acquisition power with the editorial board, the journey from manuscript to finished book would be a lot less rocky if she had some consensus on the board. I do not know why she'd invest the precious time of a staff editor unless she thought it was worth the time to read all 470 pages.

I've been chewing my fingernails up to the elbow in virtual silence for the last 5 weeks because every time I tell you guys about some promising development, it's as if I jinx myself and it falls apart like a piece of cheesecloth in a thresher.

Now for the potential bad news: First, last Tuesday night/Wednesday morning we lost the free internet access that we'd been using at home since Nov. and since I lost my unemployment benefits last month. We're now living solely on my fiancee's weekly $135 in unemployment insurance, we won't be able to use the local cafe's internet wifi (they generally get cranky when you don't buy something). In fact, I'm here now using their wifi but as the coffee shop closes at 6, this will be it for now.

Since we're now reduced to living on $135 a week, it's only a matter of time before we get evicted either next month or June. Obviously, we cannot afford to get internet access of our own since feeding ourselves is our direst and most immediate challenge. The state Department of Transitional Assistance won't help us since we're neither handicapped nor elderly and the application for SNAP food assistance (aka Food Stamps) I'd requested two days ago takes a month to process (although maybe I can get a hardship dispensation and get my claim processed in a week.).

I have a job interview in a little over 48 hours so perhaps that'll bear fruit but I've been disrespected and disappointed by companies too many times to get my hopes up.

Failing anything positive, Mrs. JP's seriously considering us moving to Texas or Florida on the vague promise of her securing employment. And, having lived in both states, I so incredibly do not want to leave New England, leave the place I fought so hard to get and keep since the Troubles of two years ago. Going back to where she came from would be an admission to her family of my failure, my inability to take care of my own fiancee. Plus, the prohibitive cost of highway gas for a car and a rental truck, plus tolls, would make moving too expensive.

I hate inflicting these constant personal financial troubles on you guys as I realize this kind of embarrassing disclosure borders on the irritating and perhaps even on the intrusive. But I have more than just myself to worry about. I also have a fiancee and a cat to keep fed and sheltered.

I'm sorry if this proves to be an inconvenience or an irritation for any of you but I suspect this is what John Lennon meant when he talked about life getting in the way when you're making other plans. We're slowly going under in spite of my most valiant attempts to keep our heads above water. I was hoping and praying that an advance from Atria would come to rescue us in time but that looks less and less likely. A job interview, let alone an actual paying job, is an utter impossibility. I was lucky to get the one I secured yesterday. I miss the America I knew.

If any of you could help out again or for the first time ever, not only would we appreciate it but if I get the book deal that I believe I'll get from Simon & Schuster, you can consider it a loan and every one of you will be repaid. As it is, we have less than zero chance of paying our $650 a month rent on May Day, much less stay fed, pay the $45+ gas bill that just came in, electric, car insurance, cell phone minutes and everything else that pops up.

Our backs are against the wall like never before, thanks in large part to getting clobbered with $1000 in car repair bills since last winter. There's no other place to go but up and anyone who can help us can consider any Paypal donation a loan they'll eventually get back.

P.S. I just found out I owe the IRS $438 because I couldn't afford to have federal withholding taken out when I was on UI last year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pictures That Make JP Want to Puke Up Everything You've Eaten Since 1959

(Update: OK, JP stepped on his dick again. Point made. It's a shame that Crooks and Liars arbitrarily linked to this post because it makes me and them look like we're slipshod in our research, which we're not.

The photo may either be outdated or faked or both but the gist of what I said is still just as true. We don't need Karl Rove to prove how much in bed Obama is with the GOP and Wall Street. Few if any of us will ever be able to completely and fully articulate why the president makes any of the decisions he does. But that's not as important as the end results.

And the end result, for liberals and progressives, is that we were sold out almost from the start.

But let me take this opportunity to apologize for letting myself get punked by this photo. I promise to do better research in the future. I haven't been posting much lately because I lost my unemployment last month, have virtually no income and am redoubling my efforts to find a job. So what little I've been posting has been rushed because I just don't have the time for blogging and research that I used to.)

Don't ask me what the fuck Karl Rove was doing in the White House recently, at any time, for any reason. This is a guy who bugged his own office in an attempt to sabotage the reelection campaign of the Texas Governor. This is the rat who outed Valerie Plame and this is the blubbery-lipped fuck who got fired by W's daddy. This is the guy who disappeared over a million emails and this is the guy who thumbed his nose at Congress when ordered to testify about the firing of nine US attorneys who refused to play ball with the Bush junta.

It's like spending years cleaning your computer of malware that shitcanned your hard drive only to go back to the same porn site that gave it to you in the first place.

But if this picture doesn't delineate everything that is wrong with this country at this point, nothing does. It encapsulates why Obama started from a compromise of a compromise on the health care bill, why he's allowed the GOP, even when they were in the minority in both houses of Congress, to have their spending cuts, it explains why Obama decided to ignore recent history and didn't call the GOP on their bluff to shut down the government even though they control just the lower chamber.

Because if Obama can make friends with a Republican traitor and war criminal like Karl Rove, then well, by God, he can get along with just about anybody. This picture ought to be disseminated far and wide everywhere to all four corners of the nation and the internet when Obama begins his re-election campaign in earnest. It ought to be as infamous as the one of John McCain cutting a birthday cake with Bush the day Katrina made landfall and the one of him hugging Bush despite what Rove did to him in South Carolina and the one of Joe Lieberman getting a smack on the kisser from, once again, Bush. It ought to be turned into a giant three dimensional paper mache statue and put on tour in all 50 states.

But it won't. You know why it won't?

Because all too many of us, many on Daily Kos, insist on saying, "Well, it could've been worse. We could've gotten McCain and Palin."

Guess what? We still have them. McCain singlehandedly kept moving the goalposts back and stalling DADT's repeal. Sarah Palin's balcony pronouncements from Facebook and Twitter are still shaping policy. Remember the death panels? Trig? Weeks later, the Obama administration pressured Congress into striking out funding for end of life counseling mainly because of Sarah Palin.

Remember "Drill, baby, drill?" Obama took up her oil-powered torch and said basically the same thing and opened up more of the Gulf Coast to offshore drilling just weeks before the Deepwater Horizon exploded on Earth Day almost a year ago.

It's as if they were elected, after all. So how much better off are we under this man than we were four years ago or even two years ago?

Look at that lead picture again. Then tell me if you still want to reelect a guy who insists on playing footsie and Hide the Sausage with the GOP that will never stop until he's run out of town on a rail no matter how many knob-noshings he gives them in public?

Do you want a guy who persists on loading his staff and his Cabinet that loads the government with even more corporate types to run this country for another four years even though we still don't have a workable health care policy, still have not come close to getting a handle on runaway debt, a runaway deficit, caves on tax cuts for billionaires, a monthly unemployment rate of 9-10%, had undermined unions, employs corporate tycoons who are largely the reason why there are no jobs while gas is now almost $4 a gallon for no earthly good reason, is targeting US citizens for assassination without due process, had kept Gitmo open and refuses to divulge torture photos and breaking his campaign promises to do so, bailed out Wall St. for the second time, is not only pumping trillions of dollars into two unwinnable wars but getting us involved in a third one without the consent of Congress and keeps telling us to STFU, things will get better sometime, somehow, some way, despite a GOP that opposes him no matter what he does?

And that's just some what we already know. God only knows what we'll find out in the future what he did behind our backs. "Thank God McCain and Palin didn't get elected"?! Take a look at that short list of failures, capitulations and about-faces above and you tell me how they could've done worse. Whether it's 2000 or 3000 degrees, fire still burns and destroys almost everything it touches.

That lead picture is emblematic of the rottenness and corruption of this administration that never met a corporation or a Republican it didn't love. That picture is why you should vote in the Democratic primaries for a real progressive, a real liberal, a real Democrat that isn't bought and sold by Goldman Sachs, the tax-dodging GE, the Bilderberg Group and most of Wall Street.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why Kathy Nickolaus's Story Doesn't Hold Water

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

"I have not made my decision. This isn't that big of a deal. It isn't worth an argument. This is ridiculous." - Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus to County supervisors when pressed to implement security measures already used all over Wisconsin

If nothing else, Republican activists like Kathy Nickolaus have a twisted view of what can be defined as "ridiculous." What's truly ridiculous is that she could proffer a transparently disingenuous story like "finding" well over 14,000 votes that she forgot to count and doing so with a straight face. Meanwhile, a Nov. 2009 poll showed 52% all self-identified Republicans still believe that ACORN stole the election for Obama while a fifth (21%) don't know whether ACORN did or didn't. That's ridiculous.

The already polarized election for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice was from the start turned into a referendum on the popularity or lack thereof of Gov. Scott Walker's, the state GOP's and, by extension, the Koch Brothers' ceaseless crusade against public unions. But in light of last night's "revelation" by Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus that almost 7600 votes for Prosser mysteriously appeared from a private computer to which she had sole access, the election has become a referendum on the electoral integrity of not just Waukesha County, not just of Wisconsin but of the entire nation as Election Day 2012 draws near.

One of Nickolaus's cover stories from last night was that voter turnout was high on Tuesday night but Christian Schneider of the National Review hastens to add,
On election night, AP results showed a turnout of 110,000 voters in Waukesha County — well short of the 180,000 voters that turned out last November, and 42 percent of the county’s total turnout. By comparison, nearly 90 percent of Dane County voters who cast a ballot in November turned out to vote for Kloppenburg.

That says a mouthful right there. 180,000 county residents came out to vote in a midterm year and 42%, or less than two thirds, came out last Tuesday night.

It's hard to tell where the state's Republican machine is trying to assign blame. Nickolaus seemed to place to blame both on her shoulders and on the outdated software she insists on using to tabulate the votes. In the title of his National Review article, the syympathetic Schneider generously calls the SNAFU a "computer error." And if you're to read the semi-hysterical bloviations of the right wingers who dwell in the basement of the comments section of the right wing NR, you'll hear the usual suspects being named: Al Franken to ACORN to Democrats and liberals in the abstract and even Barack Obama (news flash: Franken was elected to the Senate after 10,000 votes were found like a body in the trunk of a mob car. Forget the fact that Franken won by only 225 votes).

What also brings the stench of the 2000 presidential election wafting into the pristine air of Wisconsin is the fact that another well-placed female Republican operative with obvious ties to the Republican candidate, one in a position to hide electoral data and manipulate votes, suddenly makes it possible for the Republican to win after the Democratic challenger had already been named the victor.

But Tom DeLay can save beaucoup bucks on air fare for his protester goons because this election, if the "results" hold, will involve no recount. The 7500 votes that were found like buried pirate treasure in the ancient sands of Nickolaus's outdated computer gives Justice Prosser, the conservative incumbent and the swing vote on any Supreme Court ruling on Walker's antiunion bill, just enough of a lead to avoid the potentially embarrassing (and incriminating) scrutiny of a recount.

Adding to the sweet smell of corruption is the fact that Nickolaus is a woman who inexplicably remains in a position of power and influence over elections in her county despite already having been found guilty of hiding electoral data on her personal computer then just as inexplicably given immunity from prosecution.

This is also a woman who openly "smirked" when pressed by county supervisors to join the rest of Wisconsin in the 21st century by updating security measures then refused to implement those measures. If she had, then she would've been prevented from hoarding electoral data for 29 hours, then disseminating the "newly-found" votes to right wing bloggers and radio talk show sympathizers before the MSM for consensus.

Nickolaus also blamed the outdated Microsoft system that should've been long-redundant in any county let alone her own. Basically, it was the Dog Ate My Homework story and she blamed Microsoft Access for not having autosave. But a quick-witted blogger familiar with MS Access from New Jersey saved the day by telling us:
There's just one problem: When you are entering data into an Access database, it is saved when you move to the next row. You don't have to "press 'save'" Now, when you write (an) application in Access (which consists of a user interface in front of an auto-saving Access database with some Visual Basic code behind it to handle navigation, saving, and calculations, you can turn autosave off and put a save button on the screen. But it's hard to imagine an actual Access application where each record is a single screen AND has autosave overridden AND allows you to just navigate to the next record without doing something, such as pressing another button called something like "Next Screen". Of course if you wrote an app like that, and there was unsaved data, you would probably display a pop-up window alerting the user that there is unsaved data. And even if it was an application that was sloppily written (which is quite possible, after all, Access is part of Microsoft Office and any monkey with rudimentary programming knowledge can write an application with it. And even if this application DID display one precinct at a time, and even if it did have a save button, it's hard to imagine that she would "forget to press the save button" for EVERY SINGLE RECORD.

So much for that argument.

So, while more polite and fair-minded souls are "questioning" the validity of her multifaceted reasons for how this could have happened, I am saying outright that there is Republican fraud going on in Wisconsin and all over the country. Despite the debacle after the 2000 election, we've had two more presidential and three more midterm elections with little if any reform of the electoral process.

So, while Republicans hoarsely scream about dark people like Ignacio Lopez being given the right to vote for non-Republicans and the un-indicted, un-prosecuted ACORN, Republican moles and cronies of Republican candidates in important elections are still subverting the will of the people.

We shouldn't have to be worrying in this day and age in the bastion of freedom and democracy about our elections getting stolen in yet another decade when all it does is distract us from union rights being stolen with more dirty Republican tricks.

Hijack: Nickolaus

Welcome to the Waukesha County Clerk's Office, where 7500 votes magically appear hours after an election that would've been a disaster for Scott Walker's and the Wisconsin GOP's attempts to thoroughly roger the state's public unions.

The unstuffed ballot box, by the way, gives Justice Prosser just enough of a lead to prevent a mandated state-funded recount. Isn't that convenient? Imagine the hue and cry of "Foul!" that would've arisen from the Far Wrong if this had happened, say, in Cook County during the presidential election of 2008. As it is, this is reminiscent of 2000, except in that election, Al Gore had votes taken away from him and the Bush camp made sure it stayed that way.

Here's the problem: Nickolaus has already been fingered in an ethics probe that found that she had secreted away election data from state computers and servers and had stuffed in a personal computer. Her's, to be more specific.

Here's another problem: Nickolaus used to work for Prosser as a staffer back when the judge was the Assembly Speaker.

Here's yet another problem: After claiming that she suddenly forgot to count any of the votes in the county's second-largest city, she then sat on this revelation for nearly 30 hours before first confessing not to the mainstream media but right wing bloggers and other Republican sympathizers.

This necessarily invites the obvious question: Whether this was an honest, innocent oversight (Yeah, right) or an actual continuation of her sleazy Republican electoral fraud, why is this woman still employed in her present capacity by the county?

I'll be weighing in on this later. Stay tuned. In the meantime, read how Jill at Brilliant @ Breakfast effortlessly deconstructs Nickolaus' lame excuse as to how 7500-14,000 votes could, presto, change-O, magically materialize.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Love of Labor

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

You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth. - The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memphis, TN, April 3, 1968

Less than 24 hours after uttering these words to an over-packed hall in Memphis 43 years ago, Dr. King was shot dead by an assassin's bullet.

Dr. King was actually more of a Renaissance man than people thought he was. If one mentions Dr. King's name, you'll likely think of civil rights marches, Dr. King's arms linked with those of his aides and supporters. Yet Dr. King didn't merely advocate on behalf of other African Americans but widened his compassionate scope to all Americans and even all people. He was also a vocal and eloquent critic of the Vietnam War.

And, as in the case of Memphis, he was also a vocal and impassioned supporter of the labor movement.

By early April, Dr. King was tired and weary. He didn't want to go to Memphis to speak on behalf of the city sanitation workers who'd been on strike. After all, he had several other projects going on, was flying back and forth the US between speaking engagements and meetings. Plus, he'd been in Memphis just the month before on behalf of sanitation workers who wanted to be recognized by AFSCME. A demonstration less than a week prior to King's return had turned violent when protesters used their signs to break windows of businesses. Looting ensued, 60 were injured, many arrested and one demonstrator was even killed. However, realizing that his voice was needed, the civil rights leader went, anyway, and stepped into tragic destiny.

Specifically, King was there to argue on behalf of the workers' right to collectively bargain. Here's's brief backstory of how this speech was precipitated:
During a heavy rainstorm in Memphis on February 1, 1968, two black sanitation workers had been crushed to death when the compactor mechanism of the trash truck was accidentally triggered. On the same day in a separate incident also related to the inclement weather, 22 black sewer workers had been sent home without pay while their white supervisors were retained for the day with pay. About two weeks later, on February 12, more than 1,100 of a possible 1,300 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition. Mayor Henry Loeb, unsympathetic to most of the workers' demands, was especially opposed to the union. Black and white civic groups in Memphis tried to resolve the conflict, but the mayor held fast to his position.

The shabby treatment of city union workers and the complete nonchalance of worker safety was as much predicated on Jim Crow racism as on basic anti-union sentiment. Loeb came from a business background and was a staunch conservative, exactly the kind of person who would be utterly unsympathetic to the rights and safety of workers.

Loeb was as obstinate as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and refused help from other unions to mediate and even from President Lyndon B. Johnson. He stubbornly insisted the strike was illegal, operating on the sleazy Catch 22 argument that a city sanitation worker had no right to go on strike because they weren't allowed to join the AFSCME union. He tried to hire scabs and used the Memphis police to brutalize the 1100 striking workers.

It took King's tragic and shockingly sudden assassination to force a temporary resolution to the standoff but to his own dying day, Loeb was proud of not standing down to what he insisted was an illegal strike and never seemed to acknowledge that he was the mayor of the city in which America's greatest 20th century civil rights leader was murdered. Essentially, if Loeb wasn't so inflexible, Dr. King wouldn't have had to go to Memphis and he could probably still be alive today.

And if he was, Dr. King would be appalled to see all the hard work that brought about the change with which we'd all grown up. King would be rubbing his eyes, scarcely believing that other white right wingers are nakedly trying to catapult us back into the 19th century by smashing public unions, stripping them of collective bargaining rights, forcing them to contribute more heavily to their own benefits, raiding their pension funds then sending out layoff notices to those who didn't knuckle under.

He'd be stunned beyond belief that white conservatives are actually trying to undermine or outright eradicate even child labor laws especially during a time when the labor pool is 500 times larger than the job market.

Dr. King would also be appalled at this latest round of adventurism in Libya and backwards slide of the civil rights movement that had reared its ugly head in 2000 when, in typical white Republican fashion, Secretary of State and Bush campaign co-chair Katherine Harris hired a data-mining company called ChoicePoint based in Dr. King's home state of Georgia to draw up a list of nearly 100,000 names of mostly African Americans. This list formed the basis of these people being denied the right to vote on Election Day 2000. Had these reliable Democratic voters been allowed to vote, the election's result never would've been in any doubt, the SCOTUS never would've been able to get involved, our country, and the world, would be much different today.

But Jena, Louisiana and the virulent, post-Jim Crow Tea Bagger racism we've seen since Barack Obama got elected President would've informed Dr. King that it's as if his legacy and life, all his hard work, never happened. It's almost as if Dr. King never existed, an anachronism that offered an all too brief and temporary stay against the mindless hatred, cruelty and racism that roils beneath the red, white and blue of Old Glory like a festering cancer never quite in remission.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paddle Faster...

That's right, my little Ned Beattys. When you start hearing banjos in the distance, it means only one thing: Republicans are forming exploratory committees to see just how unelectable they are in the upcoming presidential race.

And it's pretty telling that the names we're hearing most often from Baggerville are Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, proving at the very least that there's no way Obama can lose except if they dig up Reagan, attach cables to his limbs and make him a roadside attraction.

But others, some hardcore lunatics who have long since proven their Republican bona fides and others just trying, for some unfathomable reason, to attach themselves to the Republican brand. So let's look at the top ten Republican presidential hopefuls in a thumbtack Assclowns of the Week, shall we?

10) Donald Trump

The most interesting thing about Donald Trump is when his elaborate combover will finally give way and how many junior executive hangers on will be killed in the avalanche. Trump recently made the news by resurrecting the long-discredited birther conspiracy regarding the President's birthplace. This, obviously, is all the Republicans have to offer beside homophobia, Islamophobia, and a loathing for the Civil Rights Act, unions and child labor laws.

In a prime example of carrying coals to Newcastle (or bullshit to RNC HQ), Trump was paid money and given national exposure he didn't need by NBC for a nasty show called The Apprentice, sort of a Lord of the Flies/Animal Farm hybrid with styling gel and gabardine. Once good at building skyscrapers and naming them after himself, he's now reduced to rehabbing birther conspiracies in the air. And when Glenn Beck laughs at you, you know you haven't got a Giants fan's chances in LA.

9) Newt Gingrich

The former House Speaker had somehow achieved the miraculous in the last month: A way to support our invasion and bombing of Libya while somehow blaming the black guy for it all. Once almost handed his ASWF Entrepreneur of the Year Award to a DVD porn superstore until discovering that Burst Media was stimulating more than just the economy. No stranger to passion, Gingrich is so patriotic that he blamed Uncle Sam for falling into vaginas not belonging to his wife.

A recipient himself of the Franklin Graham Islamophobic Asshole of the Year award for two years running, this hypocritical serial adulterer made national headlines by screaming about Sharia law in the US and the erecting of the Cordoba Center two blocks from Ground Zero. The anti-Nostradamus, Gingrich has been wrong about everything yet still vacuums up enough money from mindless, racist minions every year to form exploratory committees that invariably tell him he's unelectable.

8) Herman Cain

Another Georgia lunatic? What's in the peaches down there? Seriously, who the fuck is this guy? Herman Cain at this point serves two purposes in Wingnuttia: A token to whom the Tea Baggers can point to as proof they're not really racist and the only Republican in America who's even more obscure than RNC Chairman Prince Remus Rice Prius Rinsed Penis.

In true conservative fashion, Cain was the CEO of a pizza joint named in honor of Carl Paladino. Through his work for Burger King and Godfather's pizza, has single-handedly contributed to American obesity more than transfat and sugar combined. For good measure, he also sabotaged the Clinton Health Care Plan 18 years ago out of fear it would induce Americans to eat less burgers and pizza. Dismissed by Jonah "Loadpants" Goldberg of the Weekly Standard by writing, "(I)t’s hard to imagine him amounting to more than an exciting also-ran." Another Islamophobe, he became a Tea Bagger darling a la Mitt Romney by saying he would never appoint any Muslims in his Cabinet. Currently slightly more popular among mainstream Republican voters than month-old anchovies.

7) Mitt Romney

If Caucasian blandness had an IPO or hedge fund, Mitt Romney would be richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined. In '08, was one of many Republican presidential hopefuls, then Republican vice presidential hopefuls, then Republicans hopeful of retaining some iota of relevance to come out swinging against Muslims. His grounds were that Muslims don't represent more than 2% of the US population, even though this was coming from a guy belonging to an overrated cult centered around a Golden Bible no one's ever seen and believes in Good (or White) Jesus and Bad (or Black) Jesus.

The political Max Headroom, Romney triangulates more than a GPS with ADHD, sucking up to evangelicals, gun nuts, racists and other right wing fringe loonies. In the end, they decided on the crazy woman from Alaska who was even more glassy-eyed and devoted to killing animals than Romney while praying for the quick death of President McCain.

6) Mike Huckabee

An evangelical windbag who's so bland even this ordained minister and bona fide fundie can't lock up the evangelical vote. His biggest asset is being the Republican who's hardest to loathe. Even when he talks about a "state's right" to fly the Confederate flag or any of 100 other lunacies, you look at that "Aw shucks" Gomer face and cut him slack in a way akin to making allowances and proffering support to a failed Special Olympian.

May have a chance at winning an Iowa straw poll next year if he promises to make his cool Stratocaster bass guitar his running mate.

5) Haley Barbour

If former Attorney General John Ashcroft had a stupider, fatter, older brother sculpted out of hog lard, you'd get Haley Barbour. Just looking at the governor of Mississippi makes even ascetic Yankees crave biscuits and gravy. A former lobbyist now posing as a lobbyist posing as a governor, Barbour once shot a tourism ad exhorting people to swim in the Mississippi Gulf waters in spite of Deepwater Horizon tar balls washing up just out of camera range.

More recently, Barbour stated he didn't recall an offshoot of the KKK as being all that bad, certainly not racist but more like pro-white. Meanwhile, all over the neo-Confederacy, Tea Baggers and other bigots grabbed their loving cup ears and began doing hillbilly jigs. Most recently, Barbour's ex press secretary resigned when it came out he thought the trio of disasters in Japan was funny.

4) Tim Pawlenty

The only Republican in America who makes Mitt Romney look and sound more exciting than Dick Vitale on an acid trip during March Madness, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty once wrote a book called Courage to Stand. It proved to be an unintentional aid to the Obama health care bill by forcing Lunesta maker Sepracor into bankruptcy.

Pawlenty became a flavor of the day favorite to the Andrew Breitbart/James O'Keefe wing of the GOP by uniting with Bobby Jindal to cut state aid to ACORN, despite the fact that ACORN received no aid from Minnesota. So boring both personally and politically, his political rallies wind up looking like mini Jonestowns.

3) Jim DeMint

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint is so conservative and tight-assed you couldn't pull a pubic hair out of his ass with a tractor. Thinks as long as it snows in winter, global warming is a hoax and Al Gore is a fraud. Late last year, DeMint said that gays and unmarried, pregnant women should not be allowed to teach in public schools.

Claimed on Fox that Obama's job-creating stimulus bill was "an attack on people of faith" after begging for tens of millions in earmarks stimulus funds for South Carolina. So conservative he makes fellow redneck bigot George Wallace look like Woody Harrelson by conspicuous relief.

2) Michele Bachmann

Joining Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell as aging stars of political porn, Michele Bachmann somehow continues to get reelected in Minnesota's 6th congressional district without any noticeable chapping of her lips. Indeed, this most notorious example of the Land of a Million Flakes will one day serve as required reading in political science classes in the future: The ability of the mentally handicapped to obtain and retain political power.

Once called for Obama and all liberals to be investigated for "unAmerican" activities despite HUAC and Joe McCarthy being dead for decades. Thinks the American Revolution began in New Hampshire instead of Massachusetts. Thinks John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father and that our slave-owning forebears were committed to abolishing slavery. Oh, yes, please, let's all help put her finger on the Big Red Button.

Bachmann once exhorted her Tea Bagger followers in Colorado to commit suicide if Obama's health care initiative were to become law. Then the Sylvia Plath of politics threatened suicide in Colorado again. One suspects that Bachmann's ability to attract huge Tea Bagger crowds is connected to the truism that if you promise the people what they want, they'll come out for it.

1) Sarah Palin

Yes, Sarah dearest, there are lots of dogs in this Special Olympics Iditarod and you're not even the lead dog, anymore.

Once the hottest Republican on the planet earth, Sarah Palin's approval ratings among even Republicans had dropped faster than a bar of soap at a Greenwich Village bathhouse. Ah, where to begin with Sarah's unfittitude for the presidency? She does to the English language what Catholic priests do to 12 year-old altar boys, she's a hypocrite in her brief but happy political life, in her ghost-written books for which she was paid millions, on her reality show and everywhere else.

Like Newt Gingrich and all other Republicans, tells lies from her Mooselini cyberbalconies of her Facebook and Twitter pages that then become de facto truth and wisdom. Has turned the once-contemptible, sneering Valley girl head cheerleader stereotype into an actual debating style, snipes at the "lamestream media" until she has to pimp a new ghostwritten shredder fodder or TV show. Shamelessly uses her children as props and human shields like another politician we can think of.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let's Burn a Bible For Ramadan

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

"The thing that awoke me to the fact was when I saw the president and the Pentagon and all these world leaders coming out against Terry Jones' [plan] to burn the Koran. I realized that all these murders of Christians go on a daily basis and you don't hear an international outcry. But one guy in Florida — a nobody — says he's going to burn a Koran... and I thought, 'Something is really wrong with that scenario.' To me, it was the biggest, eye-opening thing to see the whole world has sided, apparently, with the enemies of America." - JoBeth Gerrard, unemployed Marietta, GA accountant

We're the most regressive country since Kenya and its anti-gay laws that execute gay people. We're destroying unions, trying to undermine child labor laws, stuffing oligarchs with more money while further impoverishing the poor. Now we're burning books. Welcome back to the early 20th century.

So, in the spirit of book burning and intolerance, here's an idea: Let's burn a Bible for every day of Ramadan that starts for a month on August 1st. And let's make sure that at least one of them is duct-taped to the gnarled hands of Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, an ambitiously-named organization that caters to a few dozen Bible-humping zealots in Gainesville, Florida.

You may remember Jones from late summer last year when he vowed to burn 200 Qurans on September 11th before backing down. Somehow, this pastor of a little dogshit ministry in north Florida became a focal point and a poster child for every inbred, post-literate, Muslim-hating lunatic. President Obama and the Pentagon lowered themselves to get directly involved, pleading with Jones to stop his madness. His bigotry had spread to Great Britain, where a 15 year-old girl was arrested for burning a Koran and posting it on her Facebook page. Earlier last year, several British men were arrested for doing the same thing. And, just a few days after the 9th anniversary of 9/11, a burned Quran was found in a mosque in San Francisco.

Well, last Match 20th (I refuse to link to or show any of the videos on Youtube of the "trial" or burning, for obvious reasons), Jones just couldn't resist the call of the wild-eyed Islamophobia and held a kangaroo court to judge whether or not the Quran could be found guilty of rape, murder, torture, etc. The "trial" was held in the Dove World Outreach church, with Jones channeling Flip Wilson and playing "Here Comes the Judge" while wearing a black judge robe. He sat on a high platform with an open iron pit positioned on the floor to the right of his judge's throne. Yeah, the outcome wasn't predetermined at all any more than are American military tribunals (that is, if we actually held American military tribunals).

The "defense" was supposedly presided over by Sheik Imam Mohammed elHassan, supposedly president of an Islamic center in "Texas, USA". Mr. elHassan was described by JoBeth Gerrard, who blogged about the event on Dove Outreach's blog, as " a devout Muslim" who ran for President of Sudan last year. There was indeed a man named Muhammed elHassan who ran for the presidency of Sudan last year but there doesn't seem to be any mention of him on the internet as the head of an Islamic Center in "Texas, USA" or anywhere else outside of this "trial." Photos of him in English judicial regalia on the International Judge a Koran Day Facebook page and this video shot by the Imam last year show a superficial resemblance until you look at biometeric differences (pay particular attention to the height of the ears and you'll observe some inconsistency). But whether this "defense attorney" was an imposter or not, one thing remains:

This mock trial resulted in Afghan rebels invading a UN compound and killing 12 aid workers and guards in revenge for what Jones and his inbred lunatics had done a week and a half ago. Now, in spite of JoBeth Gerrard's assertion that the slaying in Afghanistan and the Quran burning were not connected, Pastor Jones seems to think there is a correlation and is calling for retribution, according the New York Times.

In other words, an escalation in hostilities, since the aid workers and four Nepalese guards who were killed were such close friends of Pastor Jones and all.

As I said, I will not link to the video but you can find it easily enough on Youtube and elsewhere. Toward the end of the 8+ minute-long video, you can hear a teenage boy say, "We should tell her to put some marshmallows and hamburgers on it", referring to the burning Quran in the fake courtroom that conjures up memories of that other fake courtroom in Pennsylvania last November.

Now they're shocked, shocked, that some Muslims would take offense at having their holy book burned after a joke of a trial. Without showing any evidence, some church members claimed they'd received "a stack of death threats" and have taken to carrying guns. Here's a direct quote from a parishioner in the NY Times article:
“We have a huge stack of death threats,” Ms. Ingram said. “We take precautions. I have a handgun. A lot of us have concealed weapons permits. We’re a small church, and we don’t have money to hire security.”

This is a typical reaction from evangelical, knuckle-dragging, post-apocalyptic yahoos who have delusions of speaking for all Christianity (the Youtube video of the Quran's burning earned a whopping 1500 views and the attitude of other parishes in Florida was to ignore it).

But we can't afford to ignore or laugh off the End of Days dickheads on account of one thing: The mainstream media.

The MSM had, starting with Sean Hannity and Fox "News", and continuing with the NY Times, the LA Times and a whole host of major media outlets, turned this smalltime asshole whose congregation makes Fred Phelps' at Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas look like the Roman Catholic Church in comparison, into a rock star for every mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging Islamophobe in Sarah Palin's "Real America."

The actual trial and "execution" of the Quran may have been largely ignored by the other parishes in north Florida but it was quickly picked up on by the MSM that is ever ready to sow the seeds of post-911 bigotry as long as post-911 bigotry is a sexy lead story.

We should've relegated this lunatic to the dustbin of history and denied him even his 15 minutes. After all, this congregation that can be counted in the dozens does not speak for all Christianity any more than Sunnis, Shi'ites or Sufis speak for all Muslims.

This man is the hideous side of the Butterfly effect, someone who burns a single Quran as an empty, symbolic gesture and eventually got a dozen people, UN air workers, killed half a world away.

So when the month-long Ramadan fast begins on August 1st of this year, let's burn a Bible every day in August. If the nine major Crusades proved anything, the Bible and adherents like Jones are even more responsible for the slaughter of countless millions of innocents. For good measure, let's throw in all of Sean Hannity's or Anne Coulter's NY Times bestsellers.

And let's make sure Jones is holding one of those Bibles as we burn it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy April Fool's Day

Jersey Shore's Snooki is getting paid $32,000 by Rutgers University for a speaking engagement... $2,000 more than Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison.

Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, not once but twice turned down the chance to make a dying child happy through the Make A Wish Foundation before relenting and offering her services. The family told her to sautee in Hell.

Teabagger Republicans like Mike Lee and David Burns and Jane Cunningham and self-confessed candy thief Paul LaPage and Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli are actually trying to repeal and/or undermine child labor laws.

Paul LaPage can't distinguish between the Maine Labor Bureau and the Maine Chamber of Commerce.

The United States is defending the interests of Libyan radicals who had engaged and killed our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.

Republican Rep. Judy Biggert was all for talking about jobs before she was against it.

A 14 year-old rape and assault victim in Bangladesh was convicted of adultery, sentenced to 101 lashes and whipped to death. The initial autopsy report ruled her death a suicide.

It's now April and central Massachusetts has 9 inches of snow 48 hours after a 54 degree day.

And none of these, folks, sadly enough, are April Fool's jokes.