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.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    "Hey, What About Me?"

    Does it really surprise you to hear that Bush would come out with something like this in the wake of bin Laden's assassination at the hands of Navy SEALs?
    George W. Bush won't be at Ground Zero with President Obama Thursday in part because he feels his team is getting short shrift in the decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden.

    Yep, you read that right. Bush is trying to claim credit for Obama taking out the head of al Qaeda whose own brother Salem was largely responsible for turning around his personal fortunes as well as that of his family. Fucking A, why not give him credit? And while we're at it, let's also credit Herbert Hoover for pulling us out of the Great Depression.

    That would be the same Bush who'd said just six months after September 11th, "I really just don't spend that much time on him."

    That would be the same guy who also just didn't spend that much time listening to what the outgoing Clinton administration and holdover Richard Clarke tried to tell him about the al Qaeda network.

    That would be the same guy who let him get airlifted out of Tora Bora.

    That would be the same guy who told French special forces who had bin Laden in their sights to stand down.

    Now this putz is acting like he should be allowed to run the victory lap instead of, you know, the Kenyan Muslim who actually did get him. Despite the fact that the president is going out of his way to not brag about it.

    No matter how old Bush gets he will always have the puerile mentality of an eight year-old, stamping his feet when he doesn't get his way and pettily trying to claim credit for something that's a benefit to all humanity.

    And Bush snubbing Obama for his own perceived snub shows that this prima donna will always be the immature little Caesar living in Daddy's own short, slender shadow.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    A Comedy of Terrors

    In the United States, bullshit can almost be considered the Fifth Element, with Donald Trump being The Last Hairbender. And indeed, the actions of this administration of late seem to be less autonomous actions as they're reactions to the Donald's assertions and charges.

    Just as Trump was building what in right wing circles was a noteworthy and sturdy campaign platform ("Show us the birth certificate!"), out came the long form birth certificate. Then, to make room for the President's announcement of bin Laden's death, Trump's program, Celebrity Apprentice, was preempted. Sandwiched in between this was Obama's standup act at the White House Correspondent's dinner that was half devoted to roasting Trump without his prior knowledge.

    But Donald Trump is easy fun fodder for people who don't have to worry about black helicopters and JSOC legally bypassing posse comitatus. As easy as it is to make jokes about Trump and the Republicans who were unwilling or unable to get bin Laden for the last 10 years, we seem to have forgotten how to recognize the failings and to make fun of an administration simply because it's controlled by the Democratic Party and is led by a man with a reputation for intelligence and glibness.

    For instance, consider all the things that went wrong in Abbottabad, Pakistan the night we supposedly killed bin Laden: Misjudging the altitude and air density at the compound, a Navy SEAL chopper was grounded at the foot of the compound's outer wall. This prevented the chopper's takeoff after the op, requiring the vehicle's demolition. In a way, this will remind some of us older folks about the abortive rescue operation in Iran in 1980. It was probably the one single biggest fuckup that resulted in Jimmy Carter getting ousted out of office by Ronald Reagan.

    Even though Pakistan's government shared with us intelligence about the compound, we decided to go in with guns blazing without first notifying the Pakistani government. Which, considering how notoriously corrupt Pakistani governments always seem to be and how close they've been to al Qaeda, may not have been such a bad idea, after all.

    Then there was the supposedly open-ended ROE or Rules of Engagement: Capture bin Laden except if he resists. First we were told bin Laden traded fire with Navy SEAL and CIA operators. Then that was downgraded to, "Well, he may not have gotten off a shot, after all." By today, we were told by Jay Carney that he wasn't, in fact, armed at all, leading one to wonder what he could have done that could be construed as "resisting" and terminal force with extreme prejudice was deemed necessary.

    And now NBC is telling us that bin Laden was captured alive then killed.

    In fact, virtually everything we were told by the president and John Brennan, Obama's #1 counter-terrorism advisor, was a complete fabrication. Therefore, if we're to retain any sort of intellectual honesty, we have to wonder about what else went down in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

    For those of you whose own memories don't stretch that far back, it may be worth it for me to remind you all that Brennan was Obama's first pick to head up the CIA. Then Brennan had to withdraw his name from consideration because of his prior statements that glorified torture, extraordinary rendition and other war crimes that we've been unsuccessfully denying for years.

    Before becoming Obama's top counter-terrorism chief, Brennan headed up a company called Analysis Corp, a security company whose parent company's (Global Strategies) mercenaries have been criticized by human rights groups for human rights abuses.

    So not only is Brennan a torture and extraordinary rendition-loving type of guy, he's also a fuckup and a liar who'd embarrassed the administration yet will still keep his job.

    This is the first picture authorized by Brennan to be released of bin Laden's body.

    Now, it ought to behoove us to remind ourselves of bin Laden's own murky and troubling history with our government and especially the CIA itself, an involvement that certainly did not end with bin Laden's and his mujahedeen's battle with the Soviets during the 80's. In fact, it's a matter of public record that bin Laden was still working with our government and his terrorist training camps in Afghanistan were enjoying protection paid for by the US taxpayer as recently as two years before 9/11.

    In fact, the al Qaeda-supported KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) was supported by not only bin Laden and his people but also by Germany and Uncle Sam. But don't believe me: This is coming from a former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania. The KLA, you might remember, has long since been declared a terrorist organization by the US State Department.

    Yet somehow, bin Laden's involvement with the CIA hardly ever makes it into the official narrative, especially any that's even tangentially devoted to September 11th. For instance, if you were to go straight to the index of Bin Laden, the Man Who Declared War on America by Yossef Bodansky, who's a former senior consultant to the Pentagon and U.S. State Dept., you'll note two pages of entries for bin Laden but only four mentions of the Central Intelligence Agency. That's hardly what I'd call an innocent oversight.

    Compare that to Taliban, by Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid. His own index lists eight entries on bin Laden and no less than 11 about the CIA.

    Speaking of intrepid journalists working abroad safely beyond the confines of the American corporate mainstream media, it may be worth it to look at a series of interviews that Greg Palast did for the BBC in the months before 9/11. Pay particular attention to what Michael Springman, a longtime veteran of that same State Department, says about how deep and incestuous was our involvement with al Qaeda. In fact, Springman said at the beginning of the first sound bite that he was ordered to issue visas to al Qaeda terrorists.

    This was, of course, during the time when former CIA chief George HW Bush was still clinging to Reagan's coat tails in the White House.

    I'm just dabbing at the many, many disturbing connections between bin Laden and the United States government. We know about the financing and training in Afghanistan and all that. What we may not know so much about was Dubya's inexplicable decision to pull back two attack subs near Afghanistan that had been in place for two years and were certainly in a position to take out the training camps if they'd been gotten the order (Clinton gave the order twice to do so but those were struck down by then CIA Director George Tenet).

    Considering to what extraordinary lengths the Obama administration has gone to protect the war criminals of the Bush administration, is it really beyond the pale to speculate that perhaps the current administration was, in killing bin Laden, protecting not the United States but previous administrations?

    Perhaps the whole idea was take bin Laden out before he could get to the trial phase. And, if anyone had a lot of secrets about our government, secrets that never should get out, that person was Osama bin Laden.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    The Latest From Alan Grayson

    (I belong to Alan Grayson's mailing list. This is Congressman Grayson's newest letter on the assassination of Osama bin Laden. My unitalicized comments will follow below.)

    About a year after 9/11, I was sitting in an airport terminal, waiting for a flight, when nature called. I turned to the young lady sitting next to me, and asked her if she would watch my carry-on baggage while I went to the restroom.

    She looked at me, she hesitated, and then she asked, “How do I know that you’re not a terrorist?”

    She wasn’t kidding. She looked a little scared.

    I thought about delivering some snappy retort, like “I used to be a suicide bomber, but I quit, because I didn’t like the pension benefits.” I could see, though, that she was actually feeling some fear, so I looked her in the eye and said, “I’m not a terrorist.” She thought for a moment, and then she said, “OK, I’ll watch your bags.”

    And off I went.

    After that conversation, I realized that 9/11 had not only radically altered our national security priorities, but also the way that many people thought about others. And the weird possibility grew in many people’s minds that any stranger could be a killer.

    Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead, I hope that that feeling also is dead. The feeling that we live in fear. Judging by all the spontaneous celebrations, maybe that feeling is dead.

    We have often heard the phrase, “if xxxxxxx, then the terrorists have won.” Martha Stewart once told her employees that if not enough of them attended her company Christmas parties, then “the terrorists have certainly succeeded.”

    Here is one formulation of that formula that we didn’t hear: “If the terrorists make you feel terror, if they make you fear them, then the terrorists have won.”

    I hope that that’s over, now.

    We spend roughly $3000 for every American each year on the U.S. military. There is a theory that the reason for this is that the military-industrial complex controls our foreign policy, in much the same way that the medical-industrial complex controls our health policy, and Wall Street’s money-industrial complex controls our economic policy. That public opinion is simply irrelevant.

    Maybe. But public opinion since 9/11 has been skewed by the real fear that many Americans have felt. Urged on, of course, by certain parasites in the body politic who want us to believe that they are the only ones who can save us from the threat.

    In George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four, the fundamental basis for the totalitarian state that he portrays is the fear and hatred of the foreign enemy, Oceania. A siege mentality, brought about by endless war.

    I hope that the death of Osama Bin Laden will mean the death of the siege mentality. The end of the perceived need for foreign occupations, and the end of foreign occupations.

    I hope for peace.

    Some things need to be said here, things that, once again, the yellow-legged, yellow journalists who are trying to piss and shit red, white and blue will, as usual, never tell you.

    First off, this was an assassination, plain and simple. As with the nearly 3000 who were killed at Ground Zero, the evidence was carted away with no real forensic analysis and no peer-reviewed findings presented to the public. Osama bin Laden's body, we're told, was buried at sea and a DNA analysis was supposedly done within hours of his extra-judicial killing. A full DNA analysis, especially when mitochondrial DNA is involved, takes days.

    Secondly, among the first stories we heard after the shooting was the ROE or rules of engagement. No Navy Seal worth his weight in MREs is going to go into a tactical situation without first learning what exactly the ROE are. That's not to say they don't change during the op but no operator is going to engage an enemy without knowing what they can or can't do.

    The ROE we were told was that bin Laden was to be taken alive unless he resisted. First we heard that bin Laden engaged the erroneously-named SEAL Team 6 then was shot in the left eye. Then we heard that bin Laden may not have gotten off a shot. By today, we were hearing that bin Laden may not have even had a gun but that he nonetheless resisted.

    OK, question: How do you resist a SEAL team without a gun? How did he resist? By using harsh language? Giving them the finger?

    This was an assassination, an extra-judicial killing that the Obama administration OK'd way back in 2009. We criticized him when we found out he'd ordered a hit on an American citizen who'd become a radical Muslim. But when bin Laden is concerned, we're suddenly OK with this because he wasn't an American.

    I can't imagone what actually went on in Abbotabad, Pakistan that night but considering that five terrorists were allegedly killed without even so much as an American injury, one must conclude that the Navy SEAL and CIA operators had the situation fully under control from the beginning. In fact, it seemed they exerted so much control, they could've taken bin Laden alive to be interrogated.

    One could make the argument that al Qaeda's longtime leader wouldn't have given them actionable intelligence. But then again, we could make that argument with any terrorist and use that as a rationale for extrajudicial assassinations. God knows we've done that before.

    Our country shouldn't go around killing high value criminals such as bin Laden on the assumption we would never get actionable intelligence. We took Saddam Hussein into custody, got no information from him then executed him. We could've done that with bin Laden. But we'll never know what we could've gotten from him because bin Laden is fish food.

    Congressman Grayson hopes, naively, that the end of bin Laden will mark the end of the era of fear that has warped this nation's sensibilities and priorities since 9/11. But what I'm hearing, starting with the top, is the exact opposite. All US military installations were ordered by the president to a higher state of readiness. Security has been beefed up in state and federal buildings, airports. The death of bin Laden, ironically, has had opposite the desired effect. Rather than putting us at ease, we're being told by our highest elected officials that our vigilance must not waver and that reprisals may be in the offing. Years ago we were told that we should be very, very afraid when bin Laden was alive. Today, we're being told we should be very, very afraid now that he's dead. When will it end?

    Sorry, Congressman Grayson. The fear will never end. In fact, I can perfectly see the Department of Defense, still under pressure to feed the bottomless meat grinders in Iraq and Afghanistan, to note the young people in New York and Washington and to cynically use this as a recruiting tool.

    The boy pictured above is Kevin Van Orden, who is shown in full military uniform near Ground Zero the night bin Laden was killed, even though he's not in the military. His brother is in the Army and it gives me chills to think that recruiting will once again see an upsurge as a result of the false patriotism that bin Laden's death is bringing about. It keeps me up at night thinking that bin Laden's extrajudicial killing could be cynically used as a selling point by a Department of Defense that's still fighting and feeding two wars that never should've been started in the first place. It keeps me awake at night thinking that kids like Van Orden, perhaps intent on following their older siblings into military service, may be fooled into enlisting, thinking perhaps that the world really is safer without bin Laden in it, fooled into believing in our nation's invincibility, an invincibility that was forever ended on 9/11.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Goldstein is Dead, Long Live Oceania

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

    The death of Bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. - President Barack Obama, May 1, 2011

    I can just hear it all now.

    Republicans, who freebase war like crack addicts, will express skepticism at bin Laden’s death because, well, a black man can’t succeed where his white Republican predecessor did his damnedest to fail for eight years.

    Democrats, equally bought and sold by the military-industrial complex, will rally around the president as if he was the one who’d personally shot Osama bin Laden in the left eye and turn this into a mantra as to why we should re-elect their man. But we must stay the course in Afghanistan because the fight is not yet over, comrades.

    Conservative bloggers will sneer that it took Obama all this time to kill OBL without once mentioning that Bush could’ve taken him out many years ago when French snipers had bin Laden in their sights not once but twice and that Bush told them to back off or that we hustled dozens of members of the bin Laden family out the US two days after 9/11 despite the FAA’s moratorium and not allowing the FBI to interview a single one of them.

    Teabaggers, who are even more woefully deficient in international affairs than they are on domestic issues, will simply mutter or say nothing.

    Islamic radicals, terrorists and wouldbe terrorists will jockey for position in the alleged power vacuum and renew the fight against imperialist American forces and their sympathizers in an attempt to turn bin Laden into a martyr.

    Rank and file Americans who still feel it their duty to accept as gospel everything the government tells them will have OBL Day in Times Square, sailors kissing nurses and chanting “Fuck yeah, USA!” at Ground Zero.

    And liberals, progressives and other free-thinkers will express skepticism that not only was bin Laden’s body conveniently buried at sea and that not one photograph exists of his bullet-riddled corpse, but that this brazenly disingenuous administration that has done nothing but lie to us and flipflop practically from Day One is essentially telling us, once again, to Trust us.

    My personal thoughts on the subject? I do not know if al Qaida’s leader is dead nor do I care because it simply doesn’t matter. It goes without saying that the world is a better place without Osama bin Laden but that would be to also suggest that the world would be an even better place without a United States that creates monsters the rest of the world has to slay. Osama bin Laden, as stated here earlier, is the ultimate blowback, a perennially unlearned object lesson delineating what happens when we rashly choose, train and finance allies based not on common, noble interests but simply on having common enemies.

    As a figurehead and proxy that took on the Soviets in Afghanistan, bin Laden and his mujahedin served their purpose. It was still and always will be Charlie Wilson’s War but even those of who’d seen the Tom Hanks movie still give the Afghan freedom fighters and the rich scion of a Saudi construction empire who’d led them credit for kicking out the hated Communists. As it was, it’s a miracle we didn’t try to make bin Laden another TE Lawrence, Lawrence of Afghanistan, firing Stinger missiles at our common enemy so we couldn’t be officially accused of reckless adventurism abroad.

    And now we’re supposed to be relieved and overjoyed at our President grimly telling us last night that Osama bin Laden, the scourge of American imperialist and corporate interests, is dead. We’re supposed to do our duty and assume that, just because the American government and our president tell us something, it must be so. And we’re not supposed to be mindful of the irony that bin Laden, once our excuse for covert involvement in Afghanistan, is still and will continue to be our excuse for our overt involvement in Afghanistan.

    Just remember how truthful and sincere Colin Powell sounded during his presentation as to why we should go to war with Iraq before the UN Security Council in February 2003. Just remember how very truthful and sincere Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Wolfowitz and all those other very serious and powerful people seemed when they gravely intoned veiled and not-so-veiled threats about smoking guns and mushroom clouds as they stole our civil liberties from us by the handful.

    They’re civil liberties that still have not been given back to us nor should we persist in believing that disingenuousness and fear-mongering are purely Republican traits. The only difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration is that the latter finally got around to making bin Laden irrelevant, ergo expendable.

    Goldstein’s usefulness to Big Brother was most invaluable as a symbol, a fabrication designed to stir up not only Oceanic patriotism but to stoke fear in the proletariat and party members by more than tickling our innate and inherent anti-Semitic fears and prejudices. Orwell’s naïveté was in assuming that Big Brother and the government of Oceania would never need another symbol like Goldstein.

    But the United States has proven very adept at creating not only enemies but symbols who are killed and rekilled and yet live to fight another day. The most common chestnut is, of course, Hitler, whose death was also supposed to be taken on faith despite there having been absolutely no photographic or forensic evidence whatsoever to quantify his death and giving rise to decades of outlandish conspiracy theories and hopes through Nazi and neo-Nazi circles that Der Fuhrer still lived in one way or another.

    The biggest mistake the Obama administration ever made in this matter was in not taking pictures and shooting videos that would’ve conclusively proved that bin Laden is dead. The rationale for this is clear and betrays more cowardice on the part of the Obama administration, the same cowardice that led Obama to turn tail and not release the torture photos and videos: It would incur the wrath of al Qaida, a terrorist network we’re hardly closer to closing down than we were when they supposedly brought down the twin towers nearly a decade ago.

    And, as stated, it doesn’t matter if bin Laden is dead or not. There will be other bin Ladens, other Goldsteins, other Hitlers we can manufacture to rally the masses around the next guy who’s momentarily put in charge by the military-industrial complex, the petroleum cartels and the Bilderberg Group. Hell, in 1988 Noriega practically ran on the same ticket as HW Bush.

    Because whatever political party’s in charge, there will be other blowbacks, other figureheads, other symbols that we can use to one advantage or another for one purpose or another in a neverending dance of death and destruction in which bad guys are the good guys then are unmasked as bad guys and only the victims, the poor and powerless, remain the same

    And whether or not you want to believe that Osama bin Laden’s dead, don’t be too overjoyed or rather, be overjoyed. Eat, drink and be merry and enjoy the euphoria while it lasts. Because if you think this means we’ll be getting our troops out of Afghanistan anytime soon, think again. Afghanistan is the new Vietnam, the new South Korea, a slog of a war having nothing to do with al Qaida, one that has long since lost that new war smell and has been tucked away in the backs of our minds as a dim hum.

    Because out of all the factions listed above, the only one whose opinions matter, the ones that will continue shaping policies is the faction that says, “But we must stay the course in Afghanistan because the fight is not yet over, comrades.”