Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy-O.

There are two types of people in the world: Those who turn up volume knobs and those who turn them down. This song by Steel Panther, "Asian Hooker", is definitely not for those who turn them down. So, in honor of my whoremongering old man's 71st birthday, I'm giving him the chance to relive the first year of his marriage and fatherhood in Okinawa. Don't let it be said that I never did anything for you, Pops.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

...And Justice For Gaul

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

“Our concern is that the Manhattan district attorney is too afraid to try this case.” - Kenneth P. Thompson, counsel for the plaintiff

As has been noted many times before, fortunes and misfortunes in the political arena in the age of digital media and 24/7 news cycles occur with frightening rapidity. The potential for success or failure, for scandal or redemption, whether deserved or not, has never been higher since former president-elect Al Gore invented the internets. And we've perhaps never seen a more vivid delineation in how rapidly one can be snatched from the jaws of destruction and placed back on their pedestal than in the circus surrounding former IMF chief and accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

This case contains more drama and twists and turns than John Grisham could fit into a legal thriller. We have an accusation of rape against a presumptive future head of state, we have a discredited witness, we have a suddenly embarrassed District Attorney whose political ambitions are now shakier than that of the defendant's, we have Strauss-Khan's native France's full support, we even have an inflatable Statue of Liberty and early 4th of July independence wishes. This sad, sorry clown show makes the OJ Simpson murder trial of 1995 look like a dignified model of jurisprudence by conspicuous relief. And it hasn't even gone to trial, yet. And, by the looks of the tails tucked between Manhattan prosecutors' legs, it never will.

There seems to be little to no doubt that the star witness, the maid who insists she was raped by Strauss-Khan on the 28th floor of the Sofitel New York hotel, has repeatedly lied in other matters or been inconsistent at best with her account of being sexually assaulted. Anyone who's ever watched an episode of Perry Mason knows that in the world of jurisprudence, so much depends upon the credibility of witnesses and plaintiffs.

And while destroying the credibility of a witness or plaintiff is the fastest way to win a case, in many cases it becomes a witch hunt with your more aggressive attorneys who know they cannot prove their clients to be not guilty. The rules of the legal game always has within it an enormous potential for abuse and the innocent get destroyed in court five days a week, 52 weeks a year while the guilty (such as Simpson) walk out of the courthouses with broad smiles on their faces.

What passed over the heads of the three NY Times reporters who contributed a pair of page one, above the fold stories in today's edition was why this woman had to lie about certain things. In a word, it's survival.

She had to lie about being gang-raped in her native Guinea to get into and stay in this country. She had to lie about having another dependent in order to get a slightly bigger tax refund. She had to allow her bank account to be used as a little money-laundering operation for her jailbird fiance and his friends, all drug dealers.

If Cyrus Vance Jr's office were to ignore these revelations, he'd likely be impeached or perhaps even disbarred and his political career would be deader than his father's. I think we all get it.

But this maid accusing Strauss-Khan of rape (and some of the forensic evidence could lead one to believe something non-consensual could've taken place) and Strauss-Khan himself is an unexplored case study in opposites, one that delineates better than any story currently serving as fodder for the MSM in the difference in how we treat the wealthy and powerful and the poor and powerless.

Strauss-Khan is now a free man who can travel anywhere in the United States without notifying the prosecutors, his bail greatly reduced, his posh and cushy house arrest in lower Manhattan now lifted, his ankle bracelet removed and if he wanted to launch a presidential campaign against French President Sarkozy, he'd once again stand a good chance of winning (and don't think for a minute that Strauss-Khan wouldn't play up the martyr angle and set himself up as the 21st century's answer to Joan of Arc).

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., on the other hand, has, because of the wealth and power of the defendant, is on the verge of joining Anthony Weiner on the unemployment line, his own political career virtually in tatters. Considering the prosecution did not protest the reduced bail, it's obvious at this point that Vance is, unlike Strauss-Khan in that hotel room, looking for a dignified exit. It's a foregone conclusion this case will never go to trial.

The plaintiff-turned-defendant, the victim, will surely, if she hasn't already, lose her job and possibly face jail time for lying about her taxes and immigration status and will very likely get deported along with 800,000 others in the Glorious Age of Obama, her hopes and dreams of making it in the United States completely destroyed.

It's the classic case of the boy who cried wolf except in this case it's a girl, one who's been living a borderline criminal life in the interests of survival and the wolf just happens to be the presumptive next President of France and former head of the IMF. But while people are sending him balloons shaped like the Statue of Liberty (an inflatable shark with a fish in its mouth was turned away at the townhouse) and bemoaning how he was victimized by having to give up his IMF post, hardly anyone save for the woman's attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, seem to care about the potential and likely fallout that'll be suffered by the complainant. Suddenly, we're not hearing so much about the compelling forensic evidence, about Strauss-Khan's extremely suspicious behavior (he left the hotel in such a hurry after the rape, he left his cell phone behind).

Once a liar, always a liar, is what we're hearing from the MSM. "If she lied about her immigration status and on her tax returns, then she must be lying about this" is the unspoken consensus. Yet, while it's true that she sought to profit from this (as per the transcript of a recorded conversation she'd had with her self-serving fiance in prison, who put the idea in her head), it's notable that the prison visit reveals the rape to be a matter of fact and not some hoax or conspiracy to extort a vast sum of money from a powerful, wealthy and innocent man.

Here's the difference in a nutshell: If one is poor and has a verifiable history of telling lies, one is doomed. If one is powerful and wealthy and has a verifiable history of telling lies, they get elected, re-elected, literary agents and huge book and TV deals.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It All Started at Stonewall

My guess would be even the most idealistic activists who'd taken part in the Stonewall Inn riot of 1969 would never have thought that gay marriage would one day be a reality in New York within 42 year's time. Of course, the primary impetus for Stonewall was not a demand for gay marriage or even civil unions but one for the simple, abstract right to not be singled out and persecuted (and prosecuted) for their sexual orientation.

When NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the gay marriage bill into law last night, thereby allowing same sex couples in New York to legally marry in 30 days, it was a watershed moment in not only New York but national politics, with the full weight of historical import felt both in Albany and on the streets of the West Village. Passing 33-29 in a deathly quiet chamber, the outcome hanging in the balance and not known until the final votes were tallied, four New York Republicans joined with all but one Democrat to give the New York LGBT community the rights given to their brothers and sisters in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa and, briefly, Maine and California.

It was still a hard line party vote but it bears repeating that four Republicans did vote for it while being threatened by Tea Baggers outside the state house. Said GOP state Senator Grisanti from Buffalo:
I apologize for those who feel offended. I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.

That's not political grandstanding. That's a courageous statement coming from the heart that gets immediately to the heart of the matter, a heart that's been beating in the chest of every liberal since time immemorial: That if you're a gainfully employed taxpayer, a voter, an American citizen and a human being, you, too, ought to be accorded the same constitutional protections, civil liberties and human rights granted those in the straight community.

Anything less is, at best, cowardice and political expediency, at worst, hateful bigotry.

Last night was indeed a great night to be gay and bisexual in New York state, one of the most momentous acts of legislation in recent New York history.

But there was a summer night like this in Sacramento, California not too long ago, three years ago, to be exact. Within six months, gay marriage was taken from the state in a dirty, overfunded and extra-legal dirty trick called Proposition 8. And to this day, even though retired Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop 8's constitutionality, his judgment has been stayed and had been until a week and a half ago challenged by die-hard wingnuts who claim that the openly-gay Walker's ruling was a conflict of interest (Oh, the irony!).

Walker's ruling is expected to be tried before the right wing Supreme Court. So let's not forget California and Maine, which lost legal same sex marriage before it had even become law. As Jefferson famously said, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Top 10 Changes Since Anthony Weiner Decided to Resign

Today it was confirmed that Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-9) will resign as a US congressman after it was revealed three weeks ago that he'd sent lewd pictures of himself to several women on Twitter. Many Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and even President Barack Obama, had called for Rep. Weiner's resignation. Already, things are changing on Capitol Hill in the wake of WeinerGate. What are some of the biggest changes?

  • 10) Americans can now immediately resume trusting Democratic and Republican politicians again after both parties proved their moral purity and superiority at Weiner's expense.

  • 9) Weiner resignation now allows lawmakers and the POTUS to focus on less important issues such as the imminent immolation of the world's largest economy.

  • 8) Now that Alan Grayson and Weiner are gone, Blue Dog Democrats no longer hamstrung and put on the spot by funny and passionate but embarrassing Jewish liberal congressmen.

  • 7) Faith in pogroms and witch hunts restored by having the will of Weiner's constituency subverted.

  • 6) Andrew Breitbart one step closer to looking like a responsible, crusading journalist and one step removed from looking like a racist, spittle-flecked douchebag.

  • 5) Sen David Vitter reportedly wearing Huggies again because of nonstop paroxysm of laughter.

  • 4) Rep. Weiner's final post on his official congressional page is picture of fully erect penis with the caption, "Suck on this, Democrats."

  • 3) Democrats no longer crippled with paralyzing fear that Letterman, Leno, Conan and Craig Ferguson will take down their party with penis jokes on late night TV.

  • 2) Dozens of Republicans reported buying digital cameras and starting up Twitter, Yahoo Instant Messenger and Facebook accounts.

  • 1) Dozens of Democrats reported selling their digital cameras and deleting Twitter, Yahoo Instant Messenger and Facebook accounts.
  • Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Sunday Cat Blogging

    You'd be amazed how often this furry little fuck just stretches out on my notebook even as I'm trying to write a chapter from one of my novels. I'm convinced he's a sworn passive-aggressive enemy of literacy.

    Of course, he has his charming moments (or perhaps when he's too hot to try to forcibly remove my face without provocation), such as this moment.

    Most of the time, however, he's like this.

    Even though I wait on him hand and foot, including shedding undercoat maintenance...

    ...and letting him hog the fan even during heat waves.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    The Scarlet Letters

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

    Is anyone else suspicious about the Sarah Palin Chronicles that just happened to be released when media frenzy about her possible run for the presidency is at its height, and when "Rolling Thunder" and her "One Nation" bus tour hit the east coast?

    You know the ones I mean. The 24,000 pages of letters from her state email and private email accounts up until her rather hasty resignation when TrooperGate began rearing its ugly head? The Yahoo emails given the "lamestream media" by Palin herself, the ones that "paint a picture of an image-conscious, driven leader, closely involved with the day-to-day duties of running the state and riding herd on the signature issues of her administration"? The ones that also purport to show "a woman striving to balance work and home, fiercely protective of her family and highly sensitive to media coverage. She expressed a sometimes mothering side with aides but also was quick to demand answers or accountability"?

    You know, those emails.

    The word "paints" is an unintentionally revealing one because "to paint" implies some intelligent design and an attempt to convey some sort of personal vision or to imply, project or even impose some sort of subjective reality. And the timing of this uncharacteristic "disclosure" has about as much spontaneity to it as, well, a presidential photo op.

    One of the greatest ongoing comedies and tragedies of the mainstream media is the self-serving yet ultimately vapid and self-destructive relationship between it and Sarah Palin.

    In true Republican fashion, Palin has never shied away from blasting the mainstream media that, with a middle school child's love for cheap and obvious puns, she never tires of calling the "lamestream media". However, her diplomacy with the MSM always miraculously comes to the fore whenever she appears before some network or another to pimp yet another ghost-written pack of lies and other name-calling or some TV show or another with the Palin brand name on it.

    And the MSM keep going back for more with the viciously comic recidivism of a recovering sex addict going to Amsterdam's Red Light District. As stated earlier, this unhealthy obsession with Palin that afflicts the MSM is a tragedy to those of us who care about the truth and the issues and a farce to those of us who simply no longer give a flying fuck and have long ago written off the MSM as irredeemably imbecilic and corrupt.

    The marvel of this obviously carefully cultivated and choreographed "disclosure" isn't that there are no "Gotcha!" moments but that Palin and the MSM each think we're stupid enough to fall for this and be completely insensible to the dead giveaway of the timing, that we'd all suddenly slap our foreheads and say when this burnished and pretentiously presidential image of a nonexistent Palin came out, "Duh! we were all so wrong about the poor woman!"

    But to those of us in the reality-based community, the whole thing smells as much as the also suspiciously-timed Branchflower report that found Palin innocent of any wrongdoing the day before the Presidential election.

    The press either doesn't know or doesn't care that Palin is political junk food that simply is no damn good for either them or those who consume the pap they trowel out that ludicrously passes for news, that in a country of American, Swiss and cheddar, Palin is Velveeta or Cheese Whiz straight out of the can.

    That would be the Palin who tried to fire an Alaskan State trooper and fired Walt Monegan, the Commissioner of Public Safety who refused to fire Trooper Wooten over him being simply a former brother in law. There's no hint in these letters of the facts that were unearthed by the toothless yet still-entertaining Branchflower Report, nothing to even suggest "a shadow office" manned by Todd Palin that was literally an enclave within Palin's office within her line of sight, a shadow office that was dedicated to one thing and one thing only: Firing Trooper Wooten for having the colossal bad luck of being Sarah Palin's former brother in law.

    There's nary a breath of the elsewhere underdeveloped scandal involving the corruption behind the building of the Wasilla Sports Center or Palin's flipflopping about Don Young's Bridge to Nowhere and her rejecting the nearly quarter billion in earmark money for the bridges after accepting it but then keeping the money for the road that led to those bridges.

    If nothing else, the Branchflower report does something this cherry-picked cache of Palin letters purposefully fails to do: "Paint a picture" of an amateurish administration of grifters and thugs who, instead of running a state, was largely concerned with petty, personal vendettas.

    Instead, what we're getting treated to is a Republican Party platter filled with Velveeta, a cultivated portrait of Palin that looks suspiciously identical to the image we were presented three years ago and again today, that of a "dedicated" and conscientious "leader" who expected "accountability" from all those around her and ran Alaska like a mother hen but one that always meant well.

    Sort of the image we were given of pre-Katrina Bush months after Katrina struck.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    "Dear Chairman Rinsed Penis..."

    (This is an actual response to a mass email sent out today by GOP Chairman and Boston Terrier hybrid Reince Priebus in which he thought mentioning Weiner's wiener was a corking good opportunity to beg voters for money while cleverly tying in Democrat flashers retaining incumbency with the jobs problem.)

    Dear Chairman Rinsed Penis or however you spell your name:

    William Jefferson was caught with $90,000 in his freezer, not $80,000. Please don't make our corruption more picayune than it really is. Of course, we still have a ways to go before we can catch up with the truly Olympic-class corruption and graft of the Republican Party (I'm thinking of admirable examples such as Duke "Whoremeister" Cunningham, and fellow convicted felon Hot Tub Tom DeLay). But I have every faith that our liberal, Communist elected officials will soon be vacuuming up equally large legalized bribes in the form of corporate campaign contributions.

    It's interesting that you would bring up Weiner's wiener as an opportunity to beg for campaign contributions while cleverly segueing into the jobs problem. Indeed, what better reason to vote a Republican into Weiner's seat than because Weiner showed his wiener on Twitter? Indeed, lambasting Democrat congressmen for trying to save their own jobs and the jobs of their own is the closest the Republican Party has come to addressing the jobs problem since they were inexplicably given control of the House last January.

    "Vote for me because Anthony Weiner showed his distended underwear on Twitter" is certainly an election-year catchphrase that's as destined for greatness as "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too" and "I paid for this microphone!"

    Ordinarily, I'd say, "Put me down for $100, Mr. Chairman Prius!" but since I myself haven't worked because your employers on Wall Street and the US Chamber of Commerce outsourced my job two years ago and since I haven't been able to rejoin this glorious economic recovery retroactively effected by "President" Bush, I have to instead send my best wishes through the ethers.


    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Balls to the Wall

    Guys, I know you're all sick and tired of me and my constant problems and who the fuck can blame you? Keeping a roof over our heads, our bills paid and food in our stomachs is my job. But since I lost my unemployment last March, even these modest goals are impossible when we have nothing but Barb's $135 in UI benefits to cover even some of our bills.

    But the luck I've had since 2009 is something even Job would envy. I've shelled out $1300 in car repair bills in the last year now I have a $100-150 muffler job to look forward to. I need to renew my auto policy before the end of the month. I need to renew and convert Barb's license a couple of weeks later and AAA will want a renewal the month after that. That's another $250+.

    My Dell shit the bed again last night hours after I got it out of the shop at a cost of $80. The other laptop is in the same shop and will cost us another $100. So we have no computer and we're reduced to spending even more money we don't have to use the local cafe's computer.

    And that's not even the worst of it. My card got declined this morning even though yesterday I had about $100 over what I needed to cover our $650 rent check. So I raced to the nearest computer and discovered that the Massachusetts Department of Revenue grabbed over $728 out of my checking account for money they claim I owe them. Then they helped themselves to another $20 for a "fee" and that's where we stand now: A minus balance of $20.

    The ironic thing is the DOR owes me something like 20 grand for taking money out of my pocket without a valid court order for nearly 8 1/2 years and when I write them to tell them this, they completely ignore me. But that's not going to get resolved until I can somehow hire a lawyer.

    I still don't know if the last rent check cleared but whether or not it did, we're looking at a massive overdraft with no way of covering it. Without a computer and with gas at $4 a gallon, this skein of bad luck puts a severe crimp on our job search.

    All this time I've somehow managed to keep our heads above water but this time we're looking at the very real prospect of eviction sometime this month. My landlord lost his own job and the company folded so he desperately needs all his rent or he'll lose this house along with us. Please, Please, PLEASE help in any way you can. I swear to God, I am not making any of this up. I really am this unlucky.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Top 10 Ways Evangelicals Will Prepare for the Rapture II

    Harry Camping's very believable and credible threat that the world would begin to end and the Rapture would occur on May 21st didn't materialize, to the surprise and even disappointment of millions of evangelicals. Bewildered and eager to save face, the Family Radio Network's Camping and his $18,400,000 in donations last year disappeared and reemerged days later to say that he'd, once again, made a miscalculation. Now Camping is saying that May 21st was the day God completed his list of who's naughty or nice and the world will indeed end on October 21st. So how are evangelicals preparing for the second Rapture of the year?

  • 10) If second Rapture fails, to nervously laugh to ex-bosses, psychiatrists and creditors that they were in on the hoax all along and were satirizing Camping.

  • 9) Giving Camping perhaps only half of life savings and kids' college funds as an initial down payment next time around.

  • 8) Job creators will no longer tell employees they will be on their own so they can have sex orgies in the break room.

  • 7) To maybe not boast next time to their HMO, "Go fuck yourselves. I got a better health care plan!"

  • 6) To keep tending their gardens and yards because dandelions get so out of control so quickly.

  • 5) Vetting Camping by actually reading the Bible this time and noting there's no mention of a fucking Rapture in the Revelations of St. John the Divine.

  • 4) Change the litter box. Seriously. Just trust us on this one.

  • 3) Getting a second opinion from other senile non-ministers or theological amateurs who've already lived 15 years past the average life expectancy.

  • 2) Investing in anti-gravity boots to help speed things along.

  • 1) As a backup plan, donating campaign contributions with last of savings to the Republican Party to finish the job in case Camping's wrong about Armageddon again.
  • Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    "Take Me Out to the Ballgame... in Style"

    "Just another five feet to the limo, Governor." "(Puff, wheeeeeeeze.) I don't think I can (huff) make it, Cory!"

    I've been waiting for Jill Hussein, New Jersey blogger extraordinaire, to mention the latest antics of her noxious blimp of a Governor Chris Christie. But, as she's gotten my back on countless occasions, I guess I'll have to return the favor.

    As is usual with stories of Republican fuckuppery and hypoChristie, it starts out outrageous then by paragraph two it just gets worse.
    New Jersey governor Chris Christie--who has made government reform a major talking point of his administration--is coming under fire for his decision to travel in a state-owned helicopter to his son's high school baseball game Monday.

    Then the money shot:
    According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Christie landed in the state's $12.5 million helicopter just before the game began, buzzing over the trees in left field and distracting spectators. The GOP governor then got into a black sedan with tinted windows, which drove him about 100 yards to the baseball diamond.

    You read that right. The fat fuck couldn't be bothered to waddle the 100 yards between the illicitly-appropriated chopper and the ball field.

    Then, they stayed for just five innings, drove back to the chopper and somehow, the poor machine achieved takeoff and stayed aloft long enough to get Christie's fat ass back to the state house.

    They're making lot of hay over this in the Jersey press but what every one seems to ignore is that there were two vehicles involved because where ever the helicopter went, the sedan had to follow. All told, with gas at $4 a gallon and helicopter fuel (for turbine engines, that translates to "very clean kerosene") going for more than that... Well, let's break it down:

    A five seat turbine helicopter, according to this expert, burns about "25 to 30 gallons an hour."

    According to this website, the price of clean kerosene in New York statewide reached 434.6 per gallon as of April, which is actually $4.34, or more than gasoline. We don't know where Christie came from because his Reichstagg won't reveal that but say he flew the 70 miles from Princeton each way, that's 140 miles. At a modest speed of, say, 70 mph (or about as fast as a military transport helicopter can carry Christie's bulk), that means the state chopper burned 50-60 gallons of kerosene jet fuel. At, say, $4.34 a gallon, that means it cost the New Jersey taxpayer about $217-260.40, not including the cost of a full-size sedan to follow that same helicopter both ways, just to haul Christie's fat ass a grand total of 200 yards.

    I'll leave it you to calculate the cost of gasoline for that limo.

    I guess when Christie was in high school and college, he was dreaming about tap-dancing Twinkies singing, "Eat me, eat me!" during math and economics classes. And only a Republican criminal oligarch would call for sacrifices to be made by working-class people when this corrupt piece of shit is pretending that he's the president taking Marine One chopper rides that cost hundreds in taxpayer funds just to catch a few innings of a high school baseball game.

    Personal security? Please. Show me the last New Jersey governor who ever got assassinated while in office. This was privileged laziness, nothing more.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Waiting for G'Duh.

    If any more Republicans join the 2012 presidential race in this upcoming political Special Olympics, they may just put the Onion out of business. Birther king Donald Trump reminded us why we loathe him so much for the double comb-overed, pussy-mouthed misanthrope he is and before his candidacy was even announced, it crashed and burned like a Hindenburg still tied to its mooring lines.

    Mike Huckabee is so boring he's not even good for laughs but he announced he wasn't interested in the presidency after being told it was mutual among the electorate.

    Then there's Newt, good ole Newt, who before and after his candidacy was announced hoarsely screamed about a mosque at Ground Zero, claimed that his love for America made him fall into vaginas that weren't between his wife's legs and called the president an anticolonial Kenyan. Newly anointed as the most allegedly credible GOP candidate, Newt just couldn't live up to that elevated status and before long his spokesman came out with some of the worst poetry this side of The Stuffed Owl and tried to defend then sweep under the rug an old $250,000-$500,000 no-interest Tiffany's loan. The former Speaker then tried to claim he was a Washington outsider. The only commonsensical thing that's come out of his mouth was when he called Paul Ryan's Medicare "plan" "right wing social engineering."

    Now even the Republican Party, starting with el Rushbo, hates his guts and it's obvious the Great Apostate lost all GOP support now and forever.

    But what we're seeing with the unfolding Sarah Palin soap opera is unprecedented in American history. Never have I ever seen a failed Vice Presidential contender continue to be the focal point of so much blind, misguided and even sick and obsessive interest. At times, even the former Alaska governor seems to be taken aback and even scared by it, jealously guarding her privacy. And who could blame the lady?

    But over the last 33 months since John McCain inexplicably named her to be his running mate, anyone even remotely connected in the most tangential way has been chased by literary agents and had multimillion dollar book contracts and TV appearances and whole series catapulted at them. Bristol Palin herself made more than $200,000 last year alone and the Palin family's yearly income from just reality TV was $3,000,000 last year. Even Levi Johnston, a 21 year-old unwed hockey dad, is making 6 figures and is coming out with his own memoirs.

    Now, taking a cue from McCain, Sarah Palin has begun a whirlwind east coast tour on a bus unimaginatively dubbed, "Rolling Thunder."

    Call her and her entourage Jerry Farcia and the Grateful Deadheads but Sarah Palin, whether or not she intended to, is sending Tea Baggers and others with too much spare time scrambling for Civil War battlefields like Gettysburg merely on the strength of a quote she'd used from the Gettysburg Address.

    Granted, for a so-called publicity-seeking bus tour, Palin's itinerary is strangely private but if that's the way she wants it, that's the way she ought to get it. If Mrs. Palin wishes to attend a historical site without being followed by the common rabble and the "lamestream" media, then she ought to be allowed to so do.

    But flocking to Civil War battlefields out of morbid and idle curiosity is something we used to do during the Civil War. We've all heard stories of the landed gentry literally having picnics on the outskirts of Civil War battlefields during the actual engagements. There's something about watching catastrophe unfolding that's irresistible to humans and perhaps the deer-on-the-headlights phenomena isn't peculiar only to ruminants. Perhaps this accounts for Palin's so-called appeal.

    So now those of us in the reality-based community have to play witness to another sad chapter in American History as written by Samuel Beckett, "Waiting for G'Duh", in which Vladimir and Estragon (the American people) wait and hunt in vain for their savior. The problem is, unlike Beckett's Godot, Palin will eventually make an appearance because that is what she does for a living and nothing more.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    The Rupture

    Maybe I was sitting on the toilet when the Rapture occurred last night. Maybe it bypassed me because Mrs. JP and I were watching the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Maybe it came and went while we were listening to the Red Sox get blown out by the Cubs in their milkmen uniforms last night.

    Or maybe I haven't been sufficiently religious enough during my life. But apparently, the baby Jebus either didn't think I was as pious as the 200,000,000 pre-chosen or... Or maybe it didn't happen at all.

    Anyway, consider this an open thread to tell me what you did to prepare for the Rapture (Gotta admit, it was awfully convenient for that 89 year-old crackpot to choose a Saturday for the grand Skyline moment).

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Posting Will be Sporadic

    My Dell shit the bed... again. So we're back down to one laptop. I don't have the money to fix it right now nor do I have the money to buy even a used one. Keeping a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and the utilities on is more important. Plus it's going to be a brutal summer because renewing./converting Barb's license to Massachusetts this July, renewing our auto insurance (June 24th, 20% down again) and renewing AAA in August will cost upwards of $450 or more.

    So whatever help you could give us in even the smallest measure would be immensely appreciated and would certainly make a difference (Paypal link is at the bottom of this page).

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Common Nonsense

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

    "(Y)our music is very positive. And you're known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?" - Fox "News" reporter Jason Robinson to rapper/poet Common, October 2010.

    "Oh lovely, White House." - Sarah Palin on Twitter

    I'm thinking of Robert Lowell. Specifically, I'm thinking of Robert Lowell in 1965. I'm also thinking of Plato's The Republic and how the right wing seems to have misinterpreted one of his and Socrates' dictums.

    LBJ had an inferiority complex regarding the Kennedys and for good reason. While JFK and Jackie held lavish parties honoring Nobel laureates and other men and women of distinction in the sciences and humanities, Johnson was letting loose with war whoops in the Taj Mahal and picking up dogs by their ears.

    So it came as no surprise to those in LBJ's inner circle as he sought to show they were just as cultured as their predecessors when Lady Bird Johnson organized the Festival of the Arts for the middle of June, 1965. But when Lowell was invited to participate in the Festival, he knew who'd actually tendered the invitation. Like any other American, Lowell at first accepted then thought better of it.

    On May 30th, 1965, he sent Johnson a letter which was published in the NY Times the following June 3rd. Declining the invitation, it read,
    Dear President Johnson:

    When I was telephoned last week and asked to read at the White House Festival of the Arts on June fourteenth, I am afraid I accepted somewhat rapidly and greedily. I thought of such an occasion as a purely artistic flourish, even though every serious artist knows that he cannot enjoy public celebration without making subtle public commitments. But, after a week's wondering, I am conscience-bound to refuse your courteous invitation. I do so now in a public letter because my acceptance has been announced in the newspapers and because of the strangeness of the Administration's recent actions.

    Although I am very enthusiastic about most of your domestic legislation and intentions, I nevertheless can only follow our present foreign policy with the greatest dismay and distrust. We are in danger of imperceptibly becoming an explosive and suddenly chauvinistic nation, and we may even be drifting on our way to the last nuclear ruin.

    I know it is hard for the responsible man to act; it is also painful for the private and irresolute man to dare criticism. At this anguished, delicate and perhaps determining moment, I feel I am serving you and our country best by not taking part in the White House Festival of the Arts.

    It was said the roar from the Oval Office could be heard all over the White House. Just as the 1964 general election was to be a referendum on how much LBJ was loved by the post-Kennedy electorate, so the 1965 Festival of the Arts was supposed to be a referendum on how cultured the Johnsons were. Then along came that troublesome poet Robert Lowell. As with virtually everything save his successful domestic legislation, Vietnam emerged and defined even something as non-political as Johnson had hoped the Festival would be.

    Lowell was pragmatic enough to know that anything of this nature was all window dressing that would be forgotten in a day. He would write to a contemporary about how poets would be feted one day at the White House then in the next he'd read in the paper about the administration sending more troops to Vietnam. At least as far as politics went, Lowell was much more pragmatic and realistic than the Republican Robert Frost, who was so desperate for public honors in the last years of his life that he shamelessly sucked up to the liberal Kennedy administration.

    Yet for all our 235 year history, there is no single, annual event that honors distinguished people of the sciences and humanities, at least nothing at the same time of the year and under one name. We have the Easter Egg roll in the spring, the pardoning of the national turkey in November and the lighting of the White House Xmas tree in December.

    The Bush administration made one abortive effort to prove its cultural bona fides until they got wind of some left wing poets protesting the event and canceled it by taking Plato's and Socrates' theo-fascist take on banishing poets from the Republic a little too literally.

    Then a week ago, Fox showed its true color (I'll give you three guesses which one that would be and the first two don't count) by posting a blurb with the headline, Michelle Obama Hosting Vile Rapper at White House?

    Vile, huh? See epigraph above.

    As usual, the message was quickly organized and strictly enforced at The Reichstagg Fox News HQ and the usual suspects were quick to jump on the rapper it had once deemed "responsible" and a "positive" influence on kids. Along with Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity was already chomping at the bit when news of this window dressing at the White House was put up front and center as if this was the biggest news story they could find. And even though no one in the MSM has come out and said it, it's essentially the same old meme that Fox was peddling in 2007, 2008 and even up to the present day: Warning white people about Angry Black Man Syndrome.

    Common, you see, had in the past defended Assata Shakur, a woman convicted of killing a New Jersey cop in 1973. Exhibit A is the song, "A Song for Assata." Common, to those of us who aren't motivated and guided by racism, was merely questioning whether or not Shakur got a fair trial.

    Hannity dutifully trotted out two African American right wingers to prove there was no racial bias whatsoever, although it's tough to see how the pair of panelists could be construed as experts on or even having any sensibility for rap music or modern day poetry.

    Eventually, even Sarah Palin, another white person and one who's no friend to the Alaskan State Police, chimed in from her little Twitter balcony.

    How soon Fox forgot and how completely bereft of irony they were in condemning a man today for a song he wrote and sang years ago since they sang his own praises just last October. How how fast they forgot about how they embraced and defended Ted Nugent's more legitimate white rage at then Senator Obama by telling him to suck on his machine gun and how he's "a piece of shit." (For good measure, the aging rocker also spewed misogynistic diatribes against future Secretary of the State Senator Hillary Clinton and future Speaker of the House Representative Nancy Pelosi.)

    But we all know that Fox "News" and its Republican Party ventriloquist dummies are insensible to irony and even the most universally acknowledged and abstract truths.

    Lowell, in his own unintentionally loud way, criticized the establishment for the "strangeness of (its) recent actions." He had taken a brave stand by banishing himself from one day in the Republic without any of the Republic's help. Common's only mistake seems to have been defending someone whom he thought had not received a fair trial regardless of the heinousness of the crime.

    Fox's mistake was in lauding the usually noncontroversial Common then turning on him when an administration led by a black man decided to invite him for a fluffy poetry reading before the president went back to killing innocent Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis. Suddenly, it was, Angry Black Man Goes to White House to Read for Other Cop-Killing-Condoning Black People.

    It stands to reason that if Bono or Bruce Springstein or Bob Dylan or any other white person had written "A Song for Assata" this issue would've been a non-starter.

    But the folks at Fox "News" seem to have taken Plato's and Socrates' theocratic-based fascism to heart (although it's tough at best to imagine anyone in Rupert Murdoch's circle having even read Plato's The Republic) when they called for the banishment of poets from the state.

    The draconian call for the banishment of poets was based in part on Plato's and Socrates' belief that all poets not divinely inspired be expelled from the polis on the grounds they would eventually delude and mislead the public (Socrates, ironically, was executed exactly for the same charges). While not touching what exactly constituted "divine" inspiration in the polytheistic world of ancient Greece, their intentions were morally pure in calling for a stringent set of guidelines for all poets past, present and future: Thou Shalt be Honest, Truthful and Work for the Public Good.

    Like Jon Stewart, I can't speak for Common or any other poet but one must assume he felt his song had at least hugged the baseline of truth in questioning if Shakur's conviction was a just one.

    Plato's greatest inspiration was his mentor Socrates, a man who never put pen to paper because he was illiterate. It's ironic that Fox's contributors are also functionally illiterate when they, too, start chasing phantoms out of their vision of the Republic based on words they truly cannot read.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump Bowed Out of the Presidential Race

    Last night on NBC, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump announced that he will not be seeking the Republican nomination for president next year. While maintaining he could easily win the nomination and the general election, Mr. Trump stated he was not ready to leave the private sector. But his statement provided other reasons for not running. What were they?

  • 10) Said his hair wasn't in it.

  • 9) Fears Russian spy satellites will discover secret to patented combover.

  • 8) The Apprentice was renewed by NBC and Trump heard rumors he would be replaced as host by fellow billionaire George Soros.

  • 7) Speaker of the House John Boehner privately informed him Washington DC wasn't big enough for two orange men and that he couldn't carry the Oompa Loompa demographic.

  • 6) Presidential run would distract him from planned hostile takeover of Hair Club For Men.

  • 5) The president showing his birth certificate and killing Osama bin Laden within days deprived him of vital "I am a querulous, racist douchebag" political platform.

  • 4) The multibillionaire was skeptical he'd have the cash flow all but guaranteed to Obama's reelection campaign.

  • 3) Was recently told proposed running mate Daddy Warbucks didn't actually exist.

  • 2) He couldn't guarantee he'd still be a Republican by the end of the election.

  • 1) Ex-wife Ivana would've proved Trump's combover actually started as a prop in 1980 during their socialite/gigolo role-playing sex game.
  • Just to Play Devil's Advocate...

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

    It's been said many times before that media saturation in the 20th and 21st centuries puts a politician or political candidate's personal life under a microscope. With television in the mid-20th century and the rise of the internet these past 20 years, a public figure's personal life now is grist for the mill of public opinion, a grist mill that historical political figures perhaps wouldn't have survived.

    For instance, suppose television and the internet had been around in the 19th century. Suppose these twin juggernauts had given us a presidential candidate who'd never been to college, was reputed to have suffered from depression and had bankrupted a business. That plus his ungainly appearance and high, squeaky voice would've all but guaranteed that Abraham Lincoln never would've been elected as our 16th president. Yet all historical scholars agree that Lincoln was perhaps the only man who could've kept the nation together during and after the Civil War. If anyone else had been elected president in 1860, the United States would be a radically different country (or two).

    It's also been said that public opinion is almost always in the wrong. And media saturation and manipulation makes public opinion even more susceptible of being misled than ever before. While effecting the illusion that an intrusive 24/7 news cycle makes us closer and chummier as a nation, it also insulates us from politicians and candidates who are essentially chosen and rejected despite our wishes and whose carefully-chosen words are spoon-fed to us in what are known as "sound bites."

    Opinions and the right to express them regardless of political ideology is a cherished American right granted to us by the First Amendment but in the present day and age where we're no longer restricted to three networks, the endless opinions of endless talking heads can. understandably, bewilder an already bewildered and apathetic electorate. A political platform during an election year is instead a microscope slide, with the microscope being the electronic media. We the people take turns looking through the eyepiece and see different things.

    So the question becomes an increasingly relevant one: Should a presidential candidate's life pass a public litmus test in order to be suited for the highest elected office in the land?

    The jury is still out on President Bill Clinton's ultimate place in history. Yet, if you were to ask 100 conservatives and 100 liberals as to whether his own moral turpitude should've gotten him thrown out of office 13 years ago, your answers will likely be along party lines. The same proportions would no doubt be reiterated were you to ask those same 100 conservatives and liberals whether or not the 42nd president should've been impeached for lying to a grand jury.

    But one ought to also keep in mind the hypocrisy of the right wing in spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in assembling a grand jury and investigating a presidency over what amounts to a blow job. And one also ought to keep in mind the chief force behind that impeachment, Newt Gingrich, the soon-to-be-disgraced Speaker of the House who was secretly conducting his own extra-marital affair with a staffer who was even younger than Monica Lewinsky. Plus, at the time of President Clinton's infidelity, First Lady Hillary Clinton wasn't in a hospital bed recuperating from cancer surgery.

    Yet how much should our moral belief system be allowed to inform and make our decisions regarding the fitness of certain presidential candidates and incumbents? We on the left and many in the center who decry the government legislating morality from the wells of the House and Senate as well as from the Oval Office hypocritically have no problem whatsoever in using that same morality rubric when deciding who our next president will be.

    Otherwise, if we do not allow our moral belief systems and religious mores to inform us during an election, then we must look beyond the candidate's personal life and look to his/her prior statements and review their positions, which is also a slippery slope to 55-60% of an electorate that chooses to stay home every election day.

    Outwardly, if we're to use a superficial rubric such as family and the stability it promises, George W. Bush would've been a far more appealing candidate than William Jefferson Clinton were the two men to run against each other. Clinton came from a broken home and spent much of his childhood hovering right around the poverty line. His estranged father was a used car salesman. He also dodged the draft. Hardly what one would call a presidential upbringing, if there is any such a thing.

    George W. Bush, on the other hand, was the scion of a powerful political family, with a Senator for a grandfather, a former CIA Director, vice president and president for a father, a sober and religious man blessed with a beautiful family consisting of an educated wife and lovely twin daughters, a successful businessman, a military veteran and, like Clinton, a state governor. And, best of all, not a hint of marital infidelity.

    At least that's what the media insisted on showing us. When Dan Rather tried to puncture the military palimpsest that had been wallpapered over Bush's real Texas Air National Guard past, he was forced out of the business. When John Kerry, a real war hero, ran against the sober, God-fearing military man from Texas, the media gave Kerry's detractors much, much time and got just enough of us to believe that perhaps Bush was the real deal and Kerry was the fraud. It was the political version of OJ Simpson all over again.

    Otherwise, if we the people had allowed our own native moral belief systems to make a more informed choice in both 2000 and 2004, the world and our nation would be radically different today.

    So what place should our own mores have on who ought to be President or not? Should it have a place in the electorate's decision-making process or not? Should we let Christian virtues color our perception of a candidate or should our focus be on more secular matters? And is it even possible for any of us to make such a distinction?

    Only one answer is for sure: Men like Dominique Strauss-Kahn rarely make it easy for us to decide whether or not he's fit for the highest office in the land but Strauss-Kahn proves that we need to set some moral parameters. If we had, perhaps we wouldn't be too mired in two unwinnable wars with the incumbent afraid to pull out and look weak against terrorism, an incumbent who gratefully accepted the neofascist infrastructure left to him by his sober, God-fearing predecessor.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Are You Smarter Than a 10th Grader?

    (This is a challenge purportedly written by Amy Meyers of Cherry Hill, New Jersey to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-6).)

    Dear Representative Bachmann,

    My name is Amy Myers. I am a Cherry Hill, New Jersey sophomore attending Cherry Hill High School East. As a typical high school student, I have found quite a few of your statements regarding The Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted. The frequency and scope of these comments prompted me to write this letter.

    Though I am not in your home district, or even your home state, you are a United States Representative of some prominence who is subject to national media coverage. News outlets and websites across this country profile your causes and viewpoints on a regular basis. As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere. Though politically expedient, incorrect comments cast a shadow on your person and by unfortunate proxy, both your supporters and detractors alike often generalize this shadow to women as a whole.

    Rep. Bachmann, the frequent inability you have shown to accurately and factually present even the most basic information about the United States led me to submit the follow challenge, pitting my public education against your advanced legal education:

    I, Amy Myers, do hereby challenge Representative Michele Bachmann to a Public Forum Debate and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics.

    Hopefully, we will be able to meet for such an event, as it would prove to be enlightening.

    Sincerely yours,
    Amy Myers

    This will likely be the end result of any debate between Bachmann and anyone else:

    My money's on the kid.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    The Decade of the Locust

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

    In a saga that could've been entitled Fievel Goes to Wall Street as scripted by Oliver Stone or Nathaniel West and featuring a cast of bipedaled rats, Galleon Securities’ Raj Rajaratnam was convicted yesterday in federal court of all 14 counts of securities fraud and conspiracy. Out of the 26 people named in the indictments, 21 of them would plead guilty and testify against their former benefactor. In another delicious irony, the hedge fund titan was taken down by Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, an Indian native.

    It featured a sociopathic Wall Street hedge fund manager and corporate raider who's a real-life Gordon Gecko, an aging cock tease beauty queen, a down-on-his-heels middle manager and a young man named, appropriately, Adam Smith.

    When midlevel Intel manager Rajiv Goel decided to crawl into bed with future convicted felon Raj Rajaratnam, he was suffering from a rat infestation in his home. Little did he realize that by doing so, he'd be letting another rat into his homestead, the biggest one of all.

    Out of a cast that could've been scripted by Oliver Stone for another Wall Street sequel, Goel is undeniably the most pathetic. Called the "Sad Sack" by the NY Times' Dealbook blog, the other Raj was a hard luck cog in Intel's vast machinery who looked up to the hedge fund superman like evangelicals look up to Jesus, with this one twist: It wasn't the resurrection of his idol that drove Goel's devotion but his own. His post as a middle manager enabled him to share with his old chum insider information such as Intel's earnings statements.

    Rajaratnam, a real-life Gordon Gecko in every sense of the word, typified American high finance while remaining well below the radar outside Wall Street's competitive hedge fund community. He flattered and rewarded those who'd helped him amass an ill-gotten fortune worth an estimated $1.3 billion and a portfolio worth as much as $7 billion. But when the ever-pathetic Goel wanted Rajaratnam to take notice of an award he'd gotten at Intel, the latter yawned, prompting the underling to ask, “Does it always have to benefit you?”

    But among those in Rajaratnam's vast army of corporate spies, Goel's starry-eyed devotion was not unique. In the small but steadily-growing hedge fund community on Wall Street, the Sri Lankan was revered as some kind of financial Oracle of Delphi, always making the best acquisitions and deals at the best time. And never once did anyone seem to question nor care whether Rajaratnam's fabulous and invariable success could be attributed to insider trading or, in layman's parlance, cheating.

    The bin Laden of Wall Street

    In an eerie and almost darkly comic way, Rajaratnam and his economic terrorism that was largely made possible through the deregulation orgy of the last two decades ran roughshod over our nation's economy over roughly the same period that Osama bin Laden was enjoying his greatest influence over that same economy. The only difference is, we were looking for bin Laden since before 9/11. The federal government's investigation into Rajaratnam didn't start until 2008, when they finally got court orders to do wiretaps on Rajaratnam's office phone.

    MSNBC's Rachel Maddow nailed it when she reminded us (using bin Laden's own words) that the terrorist kingpin's major interest regarding the United States was our financial downfall. Using the same exact tactics used by Ronald "Star Wars" Reagan to accelerate the downfall of the USSR, bin Laden also used our own fear, paranoia and the opportunistic instincts of the military industrial complex to bring about our own eventual downfall. The year after 9/11, the Bush administration authorized a defense budget of just over $400 billion. By the time Obama took over, we were already up to well over $700 billion, not counting another discretionary budget earmarked to fight terrorism.

    Meanwhile on the home front, Rajaratnam was engaging in more than a little economic terrorism of his own. Whereas bin Laden's plane bombs were merely means to an end that all but guaranteed financial ruin, the Sri Lankan was busy collecting insider information and taking over weak companies with the intention of liquidating its assets.

    In Oliver Stone's Wall Street, Charlie Sheen's stockbroker character Bud Fox, desperate to get into bed with Gordon Gecko, gave him a tip involving the failing airline for which his own father worked. Fox's real-life counterpart Smith had a similar airline moment:
    In 2005 (Smith) traveled to Laguna Beach, Calif., for the bank’s annual technology industry conference. There an old colleague told him about Integrated Device Technology’s planned acquisition of Integrated Circuit Systems.

    He e-mailed Mr. Rajaratnam about the tip with the subject line “the two eyes” — code for the two companies. When the companies announced the deal in June 2005 — bringing Mr. Rajaratnam nearly $3 million in profit, according to prosecutors — Mr. Smith said he felt a tinge of regret.

    “I remember after the announcement having a sinking feeling in my stomach that this might be a problem,” Mr. Smith testified.

    Most people, I'd like to think, would be more sensitive to conflicts of interest and breaking the rules to get ahead of more honest Wall Street speculators and would feel more than "a tinge of regret." But tweaks of the conscience will get no one anywhere on Wall Street where the business of business is business. In fact, there's a whole book devoted to the Wall Street personality. It's entitled, "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work."

    Party Like it's 1999.

    So why did it take the better part of a decade or more to get this other foreign-born terrorist who plied his trade not in Afghanistan's caves or Pakistan's remote suburbs but openly in our midst, on our soil and using our own financial system for personal gain?

    As stated earlier, deregulation during both Democratic and Republican administrations when both parties controlled Congress certainly provides a healthy introduction as to why. It would be a stretch to say that the dismantling of the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act 12 years ago made hedge funds entirely possible. Yet, taking Glass-Steagall off the books certainly did nothing to hinder the creation and monstrous growth of hedge funds since 1999.

    US Attorney Preet Bharara and his crackdown on Wall Street aside, it would be easy to use Rajaratnam's crooked exploits in gaming the system as a better argument for immigration reform than the one right wingers have been using for decades. Indeed, it's hard to see how minimum wage-earning Chipotle employees or underpaid, brutalized migrant workers toiling in Florida's tomato fields or North Carolina's tobacco fields (.pdf file) are a greater threat to our economy or national security than a Sri Lankan who stole perhaps billions through insider trading gotten through corporate and even sexual intrigue.

    These last ten years on Wall Street have been the Decade of the Locust, with little accountability and even enormous help on several fronts from our government of the people, by the people and for the people. But rather than acting in good faith on behalf of the people who elect and re-elect that government, the only people they're primarily interested in helping are the corporations that are masquerading as people.

    Because for every Rajaratnam and Madoff that we put behind bars, there are literally thousands of other people on Wall Street that are doing exactly the same thing with no or little fear of meeting the same fate. Because everyone on Wall Street, and the southern New York US Attorney's office, knows that our economic and financial system is predicated completely on fraud, dirty tricks and deception. They also know if the DOJ were to go after everyone on Wall Street, our nation's economy would collapse within weeks if not days.

    It's not that Wall Street crooks are too big to fail. It's the sheer fact that there are too many of them to fail.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Pottersville in Pictures

    The weekly Hasidic newspaper Di Tzeitung covers Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's address to the League of Women Voters.

    If the hunt for Osama bin Laden proved anything, it's that you can foil the largest, best-funded and most technologically superior intelligence-gathering apparatus in human history for over a decade as long you don't have a cell phone, landline or ISP.

    Professional asshole Dick Cheney (R) tells Fox's Chris Wallace (L) that while he credits Obama for getting bin Laden, it would be a mistake to take torture "off the table."

    Among Maria Shriver's reasons for terminating her marriage with Arnold Schwarzenegger was his womanizing, which included an obsession with a woman named Sarah Connor.

    In a press release yesterday, God apologized for the flooding in Memphis, Tennessee. "I meant to flood the Nile and get rid of the ruins of the original Memphis during spring cleaning," the Lord said, adding, "But, you have to admit, the stupid fake pyramid didn't help matters any."

    Internationally renowned fashion designers Zita Csabai and Zsofia Farkas were arrested this week for trafficking in LSD but not, unfortunately, before their latest show.

    Rex, a working dog with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, jumps from a Chinook helicopter during training. Rex later said the jump was successful but added, "You try pulling that fucking ripcord without an opposable thumb and see how you like it."

    Right wing garbage mill HarperCollins is publishing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's memoirs this fall. The working title is, "The Accidental Governor: My Fight For Arizona to Protect Its Own Border While Hypocritically Accepting $185,000,000 in Federal Stimulus Funds." Brewer's literary agent is Lucifer.

    Top 10 Inaccuracies Re Osama bin Laden's Death

    In the excitement over the news that Navy SEALs and the CIA killed Osama bin Laden, many inaccuracies were unfortunately reported as fact. The most disingenuous claim seemed to be whether the terrorist mastermind was armed in the final moments of his life. Yet, there were other claims that had been made that weren't reported as widely. What were they?

    10) Among the treasure trove of intelligence gathered by Navy SEALs was a kick-ass recipe from Bill O'Reilly for falafel sticks.

    9) Moments before his death, bin Laden was about to beat his own high score on CALL TO DUTY 4.

    8) That bin Laden pushed his wife to a SEAL operator, screaming, "Take my wife, please!"

    7) There was a Post-It note on the refrigerator that read, "Don't worry about Obama. He's a one-termer and he'll never find you. Let's do lunch. Pervez."

    6) Pornography stacked in the bathroom for casual reading such as Jihad & Jism.

    5) The last entry in bin Laden's secret diary read, "Will let it be leaked out to the CIA that I'm still living in a cave receiving dialysis three times a week. Always good for a laugh."

    4) Was wearing a cock ring and holding a goat tether, screaming, "This isn't Florida! I can do whatever I want!"

    3) The CIA tracked him down only because he got an iPhone last Ramadan.

    2) Last text message to al Zawahiri read, "Black choppers in back yard. Must I tell CIA again I will not come out of retirement?"

    1) That George W. Bush should claim even an iota of credit whatsoever for this after slithering out of office nearly 2 1/2 years ago.

    A Study in Priorities

    Last week, the Florida legislature just passed a law that would ban bestiality. Even with the ratification of this law (blocked twice by Republicans), bestiality is still legal in 15 other states.

    Meanwhile, gay marriage is still banned in 45 states.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Bin Laden Was a Liberal

    .oO By the beard of the Prophet, 110 channels and there's nothing on! Oo.

    From this morning's New York Times:
    In October, when American intelligence was close on the trail of the courier and spy satellites were taking detailed photographs of the house, Bin Laden issued two audio statements urging help for victims of floods in Pakistan. “We are in need of a big change in the method of relief work because the number of victims is great due to climate changes in modern times,” he said.

    In 2007, he complained that Democratic control of Congress had not ended the war in Iraq, a fact he attributed to the pernicious influence of “big corporations.” In other messages he commented on the writings of Noam Chomsky, the leftist professor at M.I.T., and praised former President Jimmy Carter’s book supporting Palestinian rights.

    I can only imagine what Breitbart and Malkin and their odious ilk are going to make of this the minute they can find someone to read those paragraphs to them. But their predictable response is not what I'm here to talk about.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: The raid on the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad was a sloppy clusterfuck from the beginning, something out of a Charlie Sheen parody as written by Woody Allen. The air was too thin for the helicopter to get over the wall and they had to drop the chopper on the other side. The air, to their apparent surprise, was still too thin after the raid for it to take off and they then had to destroy a (possibly experimental) multimillion dollar aircraft so it wouldn't fall into al Qaeda's hands.

    40 Navy SEALs and CIA operators then burst into the compound with different rules of engagement. Despite piously claiming they would take bin Laden alive unless he resisted, they apparently thought that his wife rushing them and having to shoot her in the leg constituted resistance and they blew his head off despite him being unarmed and within arm's reach of no weapons.

    Then the operators let Pakistani officials, the very same people we didn't trust enough to warn ahead of time about the raid, into the compound so they could take pictures of bin Laden and the bodies of the other four people killed in the raid. Then the Obama administration, which was totally responsible for creating and implementing the policy of the raid and its aftermath, the same Obama administration that was watching this whole thing unfold live on CCTV, is now struggling to justify suppressing the photographs they let Pakistani officials take. Horses, barn doors and all that.

    To make matters worse, the Obama administration, which has officially declared waterboarding and other forms of enhanced interrogation as torture, is quietly and eerily OK with us using those very same methods to extract the HUMINT (human intelligence) used to track down and kill bin Laden, a man who, like so many of our fathers, fled to the 'burbs and instead of helping with the chores, spent hours in front of a TV with a remote in his hand.

    Then, to make this seem even (no pun intended) fishier, hours after the raid, the new day begins like an episode of the fucking Sopranos or a scene out of The Godfather, with bin Laden's body getting dumped in the drink.

    So, really, despite the chutzpah of the right wing that's now suddenly demanding forensic proof after not seemingly needing any in the run-up to war with Iraq, I can't blame my brothers and sisters on the other side of the Great Ideological Divide for being a wee bit cynical about bin Laden's assassination and for calling us on our own hypocrisy.

    We liberals who fail to see the violations of international law and the sloppiness of this raid are hypocrites if we claim moral superiority because this happened on a Democratic president's watch. We seem to be perfectly at ease over the fact that torture was used to extract this information, that we violated a sovereign nation (and a still-official ally on the war on terror) and God knows how many international laws to do something that the Bush administration could've and should've done nearly a decade ago (and, to be fair, something the Clinton administration also failed to do 15 years ago).

    Should we give George W. Bush credit for bin Laden's assassination? Fuck no, not a single bit, no matter how much he whines about being left out of Obama's and America's victory lap at Ground Zero. But we're giving far too much credit to the Navy SEALs and the CIA for killing a lonely, unarmed, middle-aged man reduced to channel surfing in a dirty blanket and who had a skeleton crew of guards that were outnumbered 8-1.

    It comes off looking like a mob hit or an urban drug raid gone bad, with the Obama administration telling us to "Trust us" despite the narrative changing practically by the hour. The SEALs fucked up, the CIA fucked up, the Obama administration fucked up and liberals are fucking up by signing off on this extrajudicial assassination that could easily happen in America's streets since JSOC is exempt from posse comitatus (thank you, Bill Clinton, for PDD-25).

    And, uh, by the way, Barry, al Qaeda is still promising revenge on America whether or not the pictures come out.

    And when we killed al Zarqawi for the second and final time in Iraq, the Bush administration had no problem publishing several different photos of his cadaver.

    When Marines killed two of Saddam's sons, the Bush administration had no problem publishing several pictures of their bodies.

    Was the Bush administration full of gangsters and war criminals? Fucking duh. Invading Iraq and, to a point, Afghanistan, merely gave bin Laden credibility and new breath to an already resurgent al Qaeda network. But in the superficial public eye, the Bush administration comes off as looking like it has much bigger cajones than the Obama administration because they at least showed the world the proof of what was done with our tax dollars and in our good name.

    If the Bush administration was a criminal syndicate, at least they were in your face about it. The Obama administration, by conspicuous relief, comes off looking like a bunch of wimps, little boys who throw rocks through windows and leaving flaming bags of dog shit on stoops before running away, unable and unwilling to face the consequences of its actions.

    I was initially skeptical about bin Laden's death. But al Qaeda all but confirmed it by vowing vengeance on America. One of bin Laden's three wives sealed it for me when she identified his body. I believe bin Laden's fish food not because Barack Obama is saying it's so but because a terrorist network and its sympathizers are saying it's so.

    And that's what I deplore most of all: That I have to go to al Qaeda to get the truth because I cannot trust my own government.