Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ice Station Pottersville

     I believe I put this picture up last month but it's worth recycling. This is our 17 year-old car, Old Betsy, after we got the first of many, many snowstorms (the day after we got two and a half feet). I'm reusing this picture because it's perfectly emblematic of our financial difficulties of late. Not only has this particularly brutal winter been harsh on our gas heating bill (the next-to-last one was nearly $80), but the car itself has been problematic. Around the time of the first blizzard I had to have the brake lines on the driver side replaced, a job costing me over $250. The mechanic warned me the corroded brake lines on the passenger side will follow suit and indeed, the brakes are still feeling spongey.
     Not only that but annual car expenses such as the inspection sticker and excise taxes both came due at about the same time, which was another $80 out of my pocket. Since we're getting daily temperatures here in central Massachusetts well below freezing (with some nights dipping down to below zero, requiring I leave the heat on), that means our next gas bill won't be any picnic, either.
     To add to our burden, my old Lenovo laptop was getting so abominably slow, I had to bite the bullet and a buy a used Acer that I found on Craigslist that cost us another $200.
     I know I haven't been posting at all for the past week and, again, I apologize for that. But what little spare time I have after my daily and regular chores and so forth is being devoted to finishing the final line edit for Tatterdemalion.
     So if you see this and have some cha-ching to spare, please consider putting whatever you can spare in the Paypal kitty because we're having an awful rough time of it, a situation that won't improve once our one major benefactor retires in April. I hate to be a pain in the ass but once I get this line edit knocked out and re-sent to a literary agency in New York, I'll be able to free more time for the political blogging that you all rightly expect from me.
     But we really, desperately need help to get through this winter, especially if my brakes go out on me again and I have another $250+ repair bill to look forward to.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Security at a Price

(Tip o' the tinfoil hat to reader CC.)
     (This is what crimps Al Franken's bunny ears and has his diaper all bunched up of late: The government and giant corporations spying on us after vacuuming up much of our income in the form of taxes and increasingly high fees and charges. This is more or less an exact copy of an email I'd sent to a faithful reader after he'd sent me this Daily Kos link and after you read it and of Senator Franken's Senate investigation, you'll never look at "smart TVs" the same way ever again.)
     This neither surprises nor shocks me. It's all too disturbingly easy to believe that these tech companies, as with the internet behemoths, gladly feed biometric and voice data to the NSA and whoever pays the highest price for it. And they DO get paid by the government. We pay them increasingly high rates for our cable, house and cell phones and internet and they rake in untold millions more by spying on us and selling the metadata and so forth to Uncle Sam. That's why, when I write a check to Verizon for my house phone, I've taken to writing "NSA spying" on the memo line on the check just to let them know I know about their scummy activities.
     I can see spying on terrorist and possible terrorist actors in the name of national security. I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. What I have a problem with is our government that vacuums up wholesale our private data without any disclosure, the corporations with which we do business doing it for a price, creating shifting rationales and packs of lies big enough to choke a T Rex to justify doing so and being disturbingly comfortable with turning our nation into a subtler version of Orwell's totalitarian police state. Then we go after the whistle blowers like Daniel Ellsberg, Assange, Wikileaks, Sibel Edmonds, Susan Lindauer, Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden as if THEY committed crimes more egregious than our government has already committed and is still committing.
     And what's most disturbing of all is how many companies, media sources and private citizens are perfectly OK with this because we've been conned into believing that security is paramount above all else even at the expense of our 1st and 4th amendment rights that have long since been turned into conditional fucking privileges that, as far as I can see, will never even be earned or given back.
     And I think back on what Ben Franklin said about this: "Those who are willing to forgo liberty for security deserve neither."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, 2/13/15


Monday, February 9, 2015

Top 12 Assclowns of the GOP 2016 Presidential Field

     As the rest of Obama's lame duck presidency reaches its twilight, so begins the usual Pamplona of assclownery (or what some charitably refer to as the Republicans' jockeying for their party's attention in the next general election). As has been the case since time immemorial, the crop of conservatives is a massive political sideshow that would do PT Barnum proud. So, taking a page from my own Assclowns of the Week, crank up the Krazy Konservative Kalliope as I present your top 12 GOP Assclowns (plus one dishonorable mention) in the 2016 Republican presidential field.

12) Ted Cruz
     Like his running buddy Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz is just two years into an unrelieved comical farce of an incumbency before setting his crossed eyes on the bigger prize of the presidency. One boggles at the statements that would be made by Cruz's father Rafael as he continues tacking like an ancient mariner on the campaign trail to escape the men with the ice cream suits and butterfly nets.

     Once shut down the government with a Dr. Seuss book. Climate change denialist who was then last month made the chairman of a Senate science subcommittee overseeing NASA's budget. Is so painfully, burningly stupid, once compared net neutrality to ObamaCare on Twitter. Is so nakedly, brazenly power-hungry and egotistical, even the senior members of his party can't stand him.

11) Bobby Jindal
     LA Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Exorcist) made waves this past week for an unofficial portrait painted by one of his constituents that essentially made him look like a Special Needs Rick Santorum. It was a portrait that seems to lack a certain something, namely pigment, according to some seditious liberal naysayer who had the effrontery to point this out. Undeterred, one of Jindal's flaks fired back on Twitter and called the guy who brought up this fact a "race baiter" before showing us what the real official portrait looked like.

     Oh, yeah, Kyle, much better. No Michael Jackson action going on there
     A typical Republican, Jindal's busy sneering at Obama and Hillary and basically sticking his nose where it doesn't belong while his own state's economy is in the shitter and looking at a budgetary shortfall of over a billion and a half dollars. As Jindal's the worst thing to hit Louisiana since Katrina, we can comfortably count on the rest of the nation's resurgent racism to ensure the only way he'll ever see the inside of the White House is in a tour group.

10) Mike Huckabee
     One of eight former or current GOP governors to make the grade, Huckabee makes the #10 spot just for the sheer stratospheric level of delusion that America would ever want him to be our Commander in Chief. Is such an uptight prick, once wrote an article at 17 condemning dancing and everyone who ever attended a dance or was part of "a choom gang." Essentially, as with his overall presidential ambitions, Huckabee's trying to light a fire with wet logs that go back to the 50's, tackling non-starters such as gay marriage, Beyonce and, yes, dancing. Perhaps it's true that he's just trying to drum up attention for his new book, "I Am a Slow Motion Puffer Fish". But Huckabee seems bound and determined to drag the GOP back into the 17th century at a time when the Republicans aren't willing to go back beyond the 18th. Jesus tap dancing Christ, this bloated god bag makes Ronald Reagan look like a fucking futurist.

9) Chris Cristie
     The Ralph Kramden of American politics, New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie (R-Gridlock) has elevated loathing and detestation of the 99%, educators  and his many critics to an art form. With either blissful ignorance or sheer vindictiveness, presided over the biggest traffic jam in the history of the GWB, one brought about by his own aides; spent over $1,000,000 of New Jersey taxpayer money to hire a legal firm to clear him of wrongdoing in another scandal; currently the subject of a massive FBI investigation; has so thoroughly butt-fucked New Jersey's economy that he reneged on $2.4 billion in pension payouts and essentially stole it; stole another billion dollars from New Jersey's public schools to hand to the 1% while firing nearly 4500 teachers; waddled to a Koch brothers retreat to which, of course, the press wasn't invited, and, purely by coincidence, immediately afterward pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Easily the most corrupt non-national politician since Huey Long.
     Was re-elected by a landslide, with a third of "Democrats" voting for him.

8) Rick Perry
     Texas Governor Rick Perry demonstrates how he deals with lobbyists and special interest groups.
     Ricky Retardo's new glasses make him look smarter than he really is in three ways but he'll be damned if he can remember the third one. Indisputably the stupidest Governor in American history, quite a feat in the state of Texas. Makes predecessor George W. Bush look like Adlai Stevenson by conspicuous relief. Once threatened Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's life. Threatened to secede from the Union over Obama's stimulus package despite lacking constitutional authority to do so. Once bragged about killing a coyote for looking at him. Thinks indictment for abusing the power of his office qualifies him to be President. Indisputably the stupidest Governor in American history. Oh, did I say that already? Well, it bears repeating.
7) Scott Walker
     The cock puppet of Charles and David Koch, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker first burst on the scene like a rancid ass boil by stripping almost all public unions of collective bargaining rights. Once removed all doubt who he really works for by taking a call from a blogger posing as David Koch. During the call, Walker openly floated the idea of dispatching agent provocateurs to break up the protests in Madison. Nonetheless, cranial hypothermia and a shitload of right wing out of state money saw Walker victorious after being just the third Governor in American history to face a recall election. Proudly mired in countless Republican scandals, including the Wisconsin Club for Growth (which obviously doesn't include jobs) and John Doe and has an infallible instinct for hiring future jailbirds. Unquestionably, this cross-eyed goober is one of the worst and stupidest Governors in US history, which is a great reason for Republicans to want to place in his hands the national Treasury and our nuclear launch codes.

6) Marco Rubio
     A first year senator, the GOP gave Marco Rubio one job and one job only: To rebut the President's State of the Union Address with the Republican point of view. What the nation got, instead, was a Charlie McCarthy/Edgar Bergen monologue minus the ventriloquist. Such a political and intellectual flyweight, he gives Ricky Ricardo gravitas. Ted Cruz-lite wanted an embargo on Cuba and whined when he didn't get it. Biggest contribution to American culture is in preparing for the granddaddy of all comb-overs. Cynically uses his Latino roots for partisan advantage except, unlike Mitt Romney, is actually Latino. Admits that, while "I'm not a scientist, man," proceeds to tell scientists where they're wrong on climate change and other scientiffy things. Florida could vote in a 30 year-old pink flamingo on Rick Scott's lawn and no one would notice.

5) Ben Carson
Dr. Ben Carson speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, March 8, 2014. 
"Yooouuu... dirty welfare recipient..."
     Of all the lunatics on this list, Ben Carson is perhaps the most dangerous because right wingers take him the most seriously. As proof of this, just recently Carson was placed on the SPLC's "Extremist Watch List" mainly for his virulent opposition to gay marriage.
     Here are some more facts about Ben Carson that show his breathtaking hypocrisy, courtesy of Lee Branen and sourced at Wonkette:
     Oh, but Benny has a reason for why he and Mom rose from their impoverished status after suckling on the evil libr'al welfare teat: They don't make moochers like they used to. You see, back in Carson's day, people weren't boasting about being on public assistance and benefiting from Affirmative Action like they are now.
     Recently trashed the Founding Fathers by comparing them to ISIS and says God told him to tell us about His flat tax rate (999 a la Herman Cain?). Claims liberals are the real Nazis. Has to remind Republicans to not think of him as crazy. As with liberals and Obama, is desperately loved by Teabaggers and other white supremacists to prove how post racial they are. While watching Django Unchained, probably cried when Stephen got his ass blown back to Africa.

4) Michele Bachmann
     Yes, the Girl With the 1000 Mile Stare is gone but not forgotten. Even including Steve King and Slipknot, is the craziest thing to ever come out of Iowa. Came in 6th in 2011 Iowa GOP caucus despite buying most of the straw poll votes (still getting less than 30% of the votes). In 2009, encouraged supporters to slit their wrists if ObamaCare was ratified. Hid in the bushes while spying on a pro gay rights rally (while closeted husband Marcus was getting phone numbers for "research purposes"). Vacuums in high heels. Takes revisionist American history to stratospheric levels. Her grasp on science is just as firm. Is more passionately opposed to census takers than Hannibal Lecter. Also passionate about fluoridated water and light bulbs that never go off over her pointy head. Anti-vaxxer and allround right wing nut bag who voted to shut down the government that gave her and Marcus hundreds of thousands in subsidies for their Wisconsin farm.
     Despite having less on the ball than your typical basement-dwelling conspiracy theorist churning out mimeographed newsletters, gerrymandering made her a four term representative of the 6th district, making that part of Minnesota the Land of 1000 Idiots.

3) Rick Santorum
     Despite Pope Frothy the First getting kicked out of the Senate after just one term and proving his electile dysfunction during the last two presidential elections, the other Ricky Retardo sallies froth forth for his third unsuccessful bid from his metaphorical balcony at St. Peter's Square. I shit you not, this Papist peckerhead used to be a registered lobbyist for Vince McMahon and the former WWF. Senator Man on Dog once equated gay marriage with beastiality and that the additional number of gay couples getting married in the 37 states in which gay marriage is legal will result in fewer marriages. More likely than not has a poster of Savonarola in his bedroom.

2) Jeb Bush
     Currently, the presumptive frontrunner in the GOP Pamplona of assclowns, the chowerheaded scion of George and Barbara Bush proves that red is the new purple. That is, the hind leg-chewing radical right wing faction still vainly trying to churn Ron Paul's withered penis into tumescence thinks that Jeb Bush is a Goddamned moderate (once called "a progressive" by Glenn Beck). A decade ago, he once tried to shove a feeding tube down Terri Schiavo's throat until stopped by a Florida court. In 2000, commissioned Katherine Harris to purge tens of thousands of voters from the rolls with the help of ChoicePoint, essentially stealing the presidency for his idiot older brother. Rear-ended the Florida public school system by expanding charter school vouchers. Even his own mother doesn't want him in the White House.

1) Sarah Palin
       The ultimate political cock tease, Sarah Palin's been flirting with a presidential run since she renamed the McCain-Palin campaign the "Palin-McCain campaign." Was such a horrible running mate, the McCain camp actually floated the idea of not letting her be sworn in as VP if their man won. Recent speech at Teabagger shindig in Iowa proved that without her teleprompter and notes on her hand, her head is full of right wing bumper stickers put through a garbage disposal. In fact, that speech was so horrible, even Republicans broke their necks running for the exits. Trying to encompass this woman's stupidity and ignorance in a couple of paragraphs is like trying to stuff 100 pounds of bologna into a two pound bag. In just six short years, sent women's rights back to the days of the Sumerians and Annunaki.

Dishonorable mention: Mitt Romney
      As of press time, this flat-eyed sociopath's officially out of the race, having come full circle from what he'd said five months ago that his "time had come and gone." But knowing "Where the Wind Blows" Willard, that could change faster than it took for Seamus to piss and shit on the Romney vacation mobile. Only qualification to be Chief Executive is that he's the perfect hybrid between a game show host and white America's perception of what a president should look like. Only appeal to right wing voters was the simple fact he wasn't Obama. Republican voters reported in exit polls that voting for Romney gave them an aftertaste like sucking on a plastic golf tee. Cynically tried to pass for Mexican even though he's about as Mexican as Taco Bell. Once claimed Dad marched with Dr. King despite no evidence proving it. Barely restrained harpy wife Ann claimed they were "living on the edge" despite being able to cash in stocks. Claims he was a job creator despite sending over 100,000 American jobs to the Third World. Once viciously attacked a gay fellow student over his hair. Next thing you know, this polymer-based android will be claiming he actually has traces of human DNA.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, 2/5/15


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

To Resurrect a Mockingbird

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan. on loan from Ari.)
     After a 55 year-long silence, Harper Lee is publishing a sequel to her classic To Kill a Mockingbird. From just a purely literary viewpoint, this is huge news. Imagine a new J.D. Salinger novel coming to light about Holden Caulfield 20 years later. That's essentially the premise for Lee's "new" novel, Go Set a Watchman. I say "new" in quotes because, according to Miss Lee's account, Watchman was written first and the flashback chapters about Scout Finch's childhood so captivated Lee's editor that he asked her to expand upon it. So, while Watchman was written first, she and her publisher decided to go with Mockingbird, which was actually a prequel.
     As with Agatha Christie's "final" novel, Curtain, which was written during the London blitz when she was still at the height of her powers (In case she was killed during the Nazi shelling, leaving Hercule Poirot's legacy unfinished), Lee's manuscript then got misplaced and she thought it was lost until her attorney found it last year in a "secure location." (Lesson to authors: Always back up your manuscripts.) Ergo, the long-awaited second Lee novel will come out on July 14th and Harper's publisher (also Harper) will come out with an initial print run of 2,000,000 copies.
     So, this is all good news for book lovers, especially fans of Miss Lee, and is the biggest news in the book business to come out in years. But how relevant will a second Scout/Atticus Finch novel be in 21st century America, especially decades after the undeclared death of what used to be the Civil Rights movement? Indeed, should we care about a new Scout Finch novel or what happens in Maycomb, Alabama 20 years later in the mid 50's when Scout, now a mature woman, returns from New York like a prodigal daughter? Why should a sequel be relevant to a "post-racial" America now boasting an African American president, no need for a Civil Rights movement or Affirmative Action and with a gutted Voting Rights Act of 1965? Why should we greet Go Set a Watchman with anything other than literary curiosity?
     Would it be any more relevant than, say, a sequel to Uncle Tom's Cabin were one to come to light? A new Harriet Beecher Stowe novel continuing the saga would be a literary curiosity but hardly relevant in a nation that abolished slavery 150 years ago with the ratification of the 13th amendment. So, how relevant is Harper Lee and the Finches considering both books were written years before the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts?
     All too much.
     Considering it's one of the most famous stories in modern American fiction, one hardly needs me or anyone to relate the abstracts of a book that's been taught in schools for over half a century. But for the sake of context, I'll give you the throughline:
     A classic Bildungsroman work of fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird features widowed attorney Atticus Finch, father of the protagonist Scout. A black man, Tom Robinson, is accused of raping a young white woman named Mayella Ewell and Finch agrees to defend him. Generally viewed as a model of legal integrity, Finch fights tooth and nail for his client and, despite essentially proving Robinson's lack of guilt, the jury convicts him, anyway. Robinson is then shot and killed as he tries to escape from prison.
     There is some justice in To Kill a Mockingbird (Tom Ewell, father of the raped woman, seeks revenge despite the conviction and "fell on his own knife" as the Sheriff tells Finch) but not much. The epitome of the Southern Gothic novel, one reminiscent of Tennessee Williams and Faulkner, Lee's book offers an unflinching look into the "Just Us" system of the Deep South and the unjust persecution and prosecution of innocent African Americans we still see in the present day.
     Bewildered by her father's moral code that made him risk both their lives during those three years in the Great Depression in his defense of an innocent man, Scout returns from the Big Apple and, according to Harper Collins, then tries to understand her father Atticus better. It is important to remember that Miss Lee had written Watchman in the mid 1950s, even before I was born. It was not intended to be a period novel or a snapshot into a bygone age yet that is the prism with which we necessarily need to view it.
     Yet, while Lee's masterpiece  is a brutally honest scrutiny of her small Alabama hometown (many of the characters are based on her relatives and neighbors), the United States, particularly the Deep South, has, if anything, gotten even uglier. Black males, most famously the Scottsboro Boys and 14 year-old Emmett Till (who was murdered the same year Watchman was drafted), were commonly charged, convicted or outright lynched over alleged crimes to white women. Jurors tended to be all white and prosecutors racists if not secretly Klansmen.
     But the persistent racism we're seeing rearing its pointy head since the election of Barack Obama in 2008 goes several steps further than even Lee's pitiless probity ever envisioned or anticipated. With the street executions of Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and all too many others, juries and grand juries refuse to indict policemen or police groupies like George Zimmerman. And instead of being charged with crimes they didn't commit, more and more innocent black males are being charged with crimes and even bad behavior when they weren't even the defendants (usually because they were dead).
     Instead of ropes, we're now using strings of binary on Twitter, Facebook and blogs to lynch black males (and, in some cases, even black women) long after they've been laid in their graves or sent to prison. Meanwhile, we're also treated to the news of white privileged males getting off scot free after killing four people in a stolen vehicle while under the influence with the bottomlessly absurd defense of "Affluenza."
     Scout Finch may return to her southern roots mystified by her heroic father's motives for risking everything to save a man he never knew in the real world as well as by the twisted ugliness of those roots. But she'd be even more mystified by a 21st century United States that's actually come full circle and, in some ways, has gotten even more racist and vicious than the Alabama of the Great Depression. So, yes, Go Set a Watchman may yet teach us some lessons in racial harmony, however unheeded, six decades after Lee had written it.
     You go, old girl.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Yeah, Baby!

     I've waited 11 years for this, for the Pats to win another Super Bowl. And it would be the balls to do so by toppling the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. So, Mrs. JP and I are making Chex Mix and later on a crock pot full of chili and we'll be at a friend's house watching the game wearing our brand new his and her AFC Championship tee shirts. Whatever your feelings about the Patriots, you have to give them credit for their midseason comeback and rattling off seven wins in a row after starting out 2-2. So this will be it for today, folks.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, 1/31/15


Friday, January 30, 2015

Top 10 Reasons Why Mitt Romney Won't Run for President in 2016

     Perennial Republican contender Mitt Romney has recently decided that he will not seek the presidency for a third time in 2016. His reason, as he told potential investors supporters in a conference call was, "I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the [Republican] Party the opportunity to become our next nominee." Romney's departure from the field frees up a lot of cash and delegates while at the same time not supporting the heir apparent to the Republican nomination, Jeb Bush. But Mr. Romney told his supporters there were other reasons for withdrawing his name from consideration. What were they?


  • 10) Slowly dawning realization that being unemployed isn't so tough, after all.
  • 9) Losing $10,000 bet that he was more unpopular than HIV in the Castro.
  • 8) Skull session with Jeb Bush in Salt Lake City earlier this month ended with Karl Rove slipping a length of piano wire in his luggage. 
  • 7) Unwillingness to stand more of Ann's constant notes in his lunches such as, "Every day you don't kill a 43 percenter is like a day without sunshine."
  • 6) Last Christmas Eve was haunted by three ghosts of Seamus, John Lauber and the IRS Commissioner.
  • 5) Presidential campaign would've conflicted with preplanned barbeque with Joseph Smith in the Kolob star system.
  • 4) Became suspicious when his most ardent backers turned out to be Hillary Clinton voters.
  • 3) Discovered Sarah Palin wanted to be his running mate.
  • 2) Josh's announcement he couldn't get a good price on all the Diebold voting machines necessary to ensure a Romney victory, which would've been virtually all of them.
  • 1) Apparently, the other 53% of the electorate only make up 1%.
  • Thursday, January 29, 2015

    Dec-Aid

         I'll just spit it out: I've been blogging for 10 years as of today. And I don't expect people to make as big a deal about that as they did yesterday when Sullivan decided to quit blogging. Typically, 10th anniversary gifts are commemorated with either tin, aluminum or diamond jewelry. I don't even expect the tin or aluminum.
         At least in the early years, it was fun. Blogging was a new literary medium I'd worked hard to master and I have to say I'd climbed more of that intimidating learning curve than most. As with most any blogger, I'd gone viral a few times then people had moved on (save for a few hardy souls). But blogging's come and gone. Many of us had died or quit, the mainstream media after thumbing their noses at us for stealing their thunder finally got their feet wet. Now peoples' dogs and cats have blogs. It was relevant during the Bush administration but then after Obama got elected in 2008, we thought we could kick back our feet and relax because it's not as if he'd keep us in Iraq for three more years, escalate Afghanistan, fill his administration with Wall Street banksters and other criminals or kill brown innocent people with death machines like drones.
         And I have to say perhaps the biggest reason for the drop off in my readership these past five years is because after working so hard to get him elected, many so-called liberals didn't relish the sight of one of their own trashing a man they worked their asses off to get elected. For roughly 10 years now, I've been the Cassandra of the internet: Despite being right more often than wrong, I'm doomed to be ignored. When I put up links to this place on Twitter you can practically hear the fucking crickets.
         But it's been 10 years today and while the world has changed, I and this blog have not (save for that hideously overused Paypal button). I've had plenty of mud slung at me both here, in emails and on Twitter from right wing nut jobs such as the late Andrew Breitbart, Charles Johnson of LGF, Hal Turner and Jerome Corsi to limousine liberals whose names I refuse to mention,. Give me enough time and I will alienate you somewhere along the way. I've been banned from more blogs than most people have read and have been unfollowed on Twitter literally hundreds of times.
         But I never once said these past 10 years that I'm here to expand your comfort zone or to champion your choices for President or Congress or that I'll robotically help you vote in spineless Democrats infinitum ad nauseum. I've been publicly pilloried for voting third party despite it being my right to do so (And, yeah, I remember Ralph Nader and his 97,421 votes in Florida in 2000, which itself was refused to be seen as a referendum on the peoples' dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party. But that was then and this is now) and in spite of my disgust with the Democrats who seem to be in thrall of the schoolyard bullies of the Republican Party.
         So I do not owe anyone a damned thing except to tell the truth as I see it and on those all too many times when I'd stepped on my dick, I was the first one to admit it. I almost never retract or delete anything when I make an error because I choose to leave it up as a reminder of my own fallibility. But unlike Sullivan, I don't choose to damn with faint praise the party with which I'm more closely affiliated. When I damn someone, I do so with loud, profane damnation, complete with stinking fire and brimstone. As Patton once said, "I give it to them loud and dirty. That way they'll remember it."
         Blogging and my emerging radical liberalism fueled by it probably contributed to costing me my home and family of 15+ years in 2009 and perhaps even my job. By my reckoning, I've spilled into the greedy sands of time between two and a half million to three million words, taking me away from the novels I could've written, published and marketed. And for better than the first four years since putting up my first shingle, I gave it away and did so for free despite the great personal cost to myself. And I did all this for you, whoever you are, not because I'm a big mouth who loves to hear the sound of his own virtual voice but because I'm nothing short of passionate about the truth as I see it. And my job as a writer is to impart truth either through factual political blogging or in my fiction.
         You're welcome.
         Like Sullivan said in his farewell address to the troops of The Atlantic, "I'm a writer before a blogger." Out of the millions of words that Sully's spilled himself over the past 15 years, those were the ones that resonate the most with me. Amen, brother. We bloggers think what we do is so important and, on occasions far and few between, it is. But we too often lose sight of the fact, one I keep hearing myself say, that out of all literary mediums/genres, blogging is by far the most topical, with the shortest shelf life and done so in the most perishable of mediums.
         And, yeah, I should be working on my current opus right now (I wrote this yesterday, in fact, and postdated it for today) but 10th anniversaries don't come along every day and it is sort of a nicely-rounded milestone. But along with commemorating my 10 years as a political/social blogger, I'm also trying to impart to you the personal, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual cost of doing something that turns out to be one of the very few capstans and constants of one's life over a decade.
         Both parties have broken my heart. Digging through the sewage of right wing "thought", for want of a better word,, researching, double and triple sourcing actual news hardly if ever covered anywhere else, rubbing through attrition all the consonants off countless keyboards, putting fingernail gouges into some of them (you may have thought I was kidding when I said that but I was not) and forcing myself to keep this place or the first two fresh even when I had nothing after a hard day of work.
         I did this for you because I respect your intelligence and your right to know the truth. I never promised it would be pretty or even palatable. The truth is what it is and I leave it to you all to make of it what you will.
         Having said that, I cannot predict where I will be by the end of the year let alone in 10 more years. Maybe I'll finally make it to the New York Times bestseller list or maybe I'll die penniless in the gutter. But while I've dedicated myself to my readers both constant and casual alike with almost the same devotion as my dream of being a published novelist, I think you all know by now which one I'll chose if push comes to shove. Andrew Sullivan made the right choice and so will I if and when the time comes.
         Until then, we'll need your help at least one more time, especially as my biggest and most substantial benefactor will be retiring this April. Just before the storm, I lost my brakes and had to pay $253 and change to get the car safely back on the road, which set us way back. Just are taxes are looked upon by progressives as dues you pay for being alive, consider these appeals for help the price you pay for knowing me, either in the real world or virtually. I may have alienated you over the years from time to time, which is why many of my old readers are not reading these words. But maliciousness was never once my reason.
         Because without truth and an abiding passion to disseminate it, all a writer has is a bag full of jumbled words.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    I Will Sully the GOP No More Forever

          D r i f t g l a s s will no doubt be rending his sackcloth garments while covered in ashes. Yes, the Atlantic's venerable editor-in-chief, Andrew Sullivan, is retiring from blogging. Let's hope he's more diligent about that decision than I've been over the years. By the way, this is an interesting juxtaposition when the news broke on Twitter a few minutes ago:

          Sullivan, a semi-fixture on Bill Maher's countless Real Time panels, can best be described as the Accidental Apostate. After championing the Republican Party for years, including the constantly-shifting rationales for the war in Iraq, Sully has spent the last several years in the virtual pages of the Atlantic struggling to criticize the GOP for its countless crimes against Humanity, all the while seeming to take credit for stumbling onto these revelations that liberals had made nearly 15 years ago.
           Indeed, since the end of the Bush administration, Sullivan has often given off an air of a newly-liberated hostage: While grateful to be freed, he still has that wistful Stockholmed mindset of a captive that had bonded with his captors. And he just can't bring himself to see these psychopaths for what and who they really are: Undeclared fascists who simply want to kill everyone who isn't white, male, straight and rich. Sully was supposed to be a heir apparent to the mantle left by the late William F. Buckley, that rarest, almost mythical of beasts: The conservative intellectual. George "Poindexter" Will is simply a buffoon with the charisma of a dead engineer. Jonah Goldberg is an evolutionary dropout and Mark Halperin has been inarticulate and incomprehensible ever since discovering kneepads to use at the feet of conservatives with real right wing bona fides.
          And poor Sully just never quite got it right, even though he gave it a game try. He was a man who saw pinpricks of truth into the absolute and empirical and mistook that for seeing the light in which liberals had been basking all along. I'm not going to delve into specifics. I'll let Sir Drifty eulogize his ersatz legacy of apostasy.
         Sullivan often got it right on many other issues and in the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that he'd linked to Pottersville or its last incarnation at least twice in the past. But in the end, it'll have to be said that poor Sullivan was a guy who gave it his best but never quite got it right.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Snowpocalypse 2015

         For today and the foreseeable future, Pottersville will be known as Ice Station Zebra. The initial weather forecast was for 7-11", with less striking inland. As you can see from my dumpster behind my house, we got considerably more than 11" overnight and today. To give you a better sense of scale, that pile of snow on the lids is about as tall as a three year-old child. I haven't seen this much useless, unwanted white shit since the 2012 Republican National Convention.

         This is our poor 17 year-old girl Betsy before I'd begun clearing her off. I left the wiper blades up last night but that proved to be an exercise in futility as the snow actually got up to the fenders, making it virtually impossible to push the snow off. That black vertical thing you see is the bottom of the wiper blade. It took me over an hour to clear off the stoop, the passenger side and a foot and a half-wide trench behind the car so my landlord's plow guy will know where to end plowing the end of the driveway. Hopefully, once he does that, I can just back away from the rest of the snow surrounding my car so he can push it to the front.
         So, for anyone who cares, rest assured, we three are still safe and warm at Casa de Pottersviile Ice Station Zebra. The lights and gas are still on, we're well-provisioned as I'd succumbed to the atavistic hoarding instinct by buying additional food and water yesterday and even a few nippies of whiskey and an inexpensive bottle of Chianti (all I need now is a census taker and a can of fava beans).
         Ergo, for you poor, hardy souls also living in the northeast, use this as your open thread to tell us about your Snowpocalypse horror stories. I'll be glad to post your pictures. Just email them to me at crawman2@yahoo.com.
    (Addendum:  The streets are sheer ice and packed snow and the sanders haven't even come out, yet. Gov. Baker called a state of emergency since we're the hardest hit state. That means I just broke the law and risked my life for two packs of cigarettes, some Pringles and a candy bar for Mrs. JP at the only store in town that's still open. I am the man!)

    Sunday, January 25, 2015

    Of Corsi

         As is always the case in my nearly decade-long odyssey of blogging, just when I try to hang up my brickbat, of course some right wing assclown always comes along and pulls me right back in. In this case, it's Jerome Corsi.
         Yesterday morning, I was treated to the news that Jerome Corsi, he of the Obamanation series of books (Yes, another one is out, entitled Obamanation II: Judgment Day. Maybe he's going for a Jerry Bruckheimer movie deal where an over-the-hill Arnold Schwarzenegger will play David Duke) is now following me on Twitter.
         Surely, there must be some mistake, I said to myself as I sipped my first cup of Joe. Surely, Mr. Corsi read my Twitter profile ("There are only two kinds of Republican voters: White collar muggers and willing victims. Let's make the GOP a bad memory in 2016.") with as much cognitive thought as he did Mr. Obama's birth certificate from Hawaii. So I fired off a couple of tweets telling him exactly what I thought of his unwanted and obviously misguided attention and thought that would be the end of that. Surely, once he realized his error, he'd immediately unfollow me.
         Apparently, "Corsi" is Italian for "glutton for punishment" because then he made the mistake of engaging me today. Oh my. And my birthday was eight days ago.
         Oh, really, now?
         Unfazed, he then steps right into my next salvo like a punch-drunk club fighter.
         I may be "ideologue" but at least I know how to use the indefinite article "an", O Bestselling Author. And what the fuck does "1ar" mean?
         Corsi, like all right wing nut bags, mistakes free speech with our obligation to seriously entertain their death threats, homophobic and misogynist comments and beyond Pluto conspiracy theories. Just as Corsi technically has the right to claim that Obama secretly has Afghani virgins smear his naked body every night with falafel while Michelle dances the Watusi as played by the Marine Marching Band in the Lincoln bedroom, it is not my or anyone's obligation to suffer fools like him gladly.
         And as a big mouth liberal, it is not even in my DNA to do so.
         And even if I wasn't an aspiring author with a dog in the fight, I'd have to conclude, as must anyone with two neurons to rub together, that the very fact that Corsi (who has barely over 8000 followers) has a literary agent and keeps getting book deals is the surest evidence that we are living the prequel for Idiocracy and that Western culture, for want of a better phrase, is circling the porcelain drain at warp speed 10.
         Corsi is a typical right winger: He loves to take drive by pot shots but hates it when someone busts a cap in their rear windshield when they try to speed away (or, in his case, waddle). They love to indiscriminately punch but hate it when someone counterpunches and bloodies their nose a little bit. The same faction that screams about Pride rallies, antiwar protests, Occupy movements and Ferguson protesters demanding the right to live, citing Affirmative Action, special treatment for the LGBT community is always the first one to bleat like wounded lambs about their First Amendment rights.
         And still, this goose-stepping, waddling homunculus cherry-picks the Constitution for whatever works best for him and his fellow racists, conspiracy theorists and all around Darwinian no-shows who can't stand the idea, even after over six years, that a black man is running their country. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine how Corsi could achieve bestseller status with a publisher outside of Regnery or Threshold without knee pads and Listerine eventually being involved.
         And just the fact that Corsi gets to honestly claim authorhood status while I can't even get a literary agent to read beyond the salutation shows that, just as Einstein said imagination was more important than knowledge, fevered conspiracy theories are sexier than brilliance, originality and talent. And as long as nut bags like Corsi, Hannity, O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Coulter, Palin and other twitching brain stems get book deals and literary agents, there is no hope whatsoever for this nation or whatever culture to which it aspires.
         And the very fact that a grandfatherly racist, jiggling meat bag like Corsi is between covers instead of minimum wage jobs is the real abomination.

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Recycling Day

         This past fall and winter, I've been devoting about as much time to Twitter as I have to blogging, if not less. Still, I think I've produced enough quality material over the last month to justify collecting my mental fly specks.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Chris Kyle: An Inhuman Interest Story

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan. on loan from Ari.)
         In all fairness, you have to give Clint Eastwood credit. For a man who lives a relatively quiet and private personal life, he always finds a way to get in the public eye. And it's a testament to his endurance and relevance, legitimate or otherwise, that he remains a political lightning rod for those on both sides of the Great Ideological Divide. After all, you show me one other 84 year-old director who's still directing movies let alone ones at the top of the box office that make people talk about them at the water cooler.
         And it's a crowning irony that Eastwood's newest effort, American Sniper, was directed by a man who'd once admitted in an interview decades ago that he hated guns. Yes, Dirty Harry and the Man With No Name who'd killed more fictional people than you can shake a .44 Magnum at, hated guns. Therefore, the old man who made a laughingstock of himself at the Republican National Convention almost two and a half years ago by yelling at an empty stool now finds himself in the spotlight yet again.
         Eastwood's box office-busting film should not be taken as a referendum on the legitimacy of the Iraq War (Eastwood, in fact, has publicly stated he hates war in all forms) but the manufactured controversy surrounding his film ought to be taken as a referendum on the enduring, virulent hatred and racism that has taken this country by storm ever since we elected a black man to run it in 2008.
         It's hard to understand why Eastwood chose Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL sniper who'd bragged about killing 255 men, for his next opus. If he'd insisted on making a movie about a sniper, he could've chosen Marine gunnery sergeant Carl Hathcock, who'd had a horrendously high body count during Vietnam and was the template for Stephen Hunter's bestselling Bob Lee/Earl Swagger series of action novels. Vietnam, after all, while still controversial to some aging deadenders, recedes much further into American history and the Department of Defense and its predecessors had produced many other notable snipers going back to the Revolutionary War.
         Ergo, it's difficult to fathom why Eastwood chose Kyle, who was murdered at a Texas gun range in early 2013 by another military man suffering from PTSD. Nicknamed "The Devil of Ramadi", Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and was once credited with shooting a target from 2100 yards.
         But this isn't a book report and no man's life can be adequately summed up in one. Or a two hour-long movie, for that matter. Rather than a dry recitation of one person's achievements and capriciously awarded medals, what matters is how that person's life affected and continues to affect those who didn't even personally know him. And it's that willful ignorance that's produced the disturbing backlash aimed at Michael Moore over a clumsily-worded tweet and anyone who criticizes Kyle for his conduct in Iraq and elsewhere. Typically, many of the rape and death threats comes from right wing nut jobs and armchair snipers who have turned Eastwood's movie into a referendum on the justness of the Iraq War and the low value of brown-skinned human beings.
         And the fact is, Chris Kyle wasn't just the personification of "mission creep", he was what one could call ...
    The Mission Creep
         Kyle wasn't shy about making his thoughts known about Iraqis. He once infamously wrote in his own memoir, "I hate the Goddamned savages. I couldn't give a flying fuck about the Iraqis." He also said he "loved" to kill and that it was "fun." Such a misanthropic and psychopathic attitude should alone have disqualified this man from being held up as an American hero and having his life glorified in a movie that seems bound for Oscar consideration. All things considered, it's a miracle this man even got a literary agent let alone a publisher to trowel out such filth.
         Such hateful statements alone should've invalidated the fetish that people of virtually all political persuasions harbor for those who wear military uniforms, regardless of where they'd served, not served or what they did or didn't do. Most disturbingly, even nearly 12 years after the most wrong-headed invasion and occupation in perhaps all American history, Iraq has never been tainted with nearly as much controversy as Vietnam. Therefore, the hatred and sociopathic bigotry of human monsters such as Chris Kyle, not to mention his murderous deeds, will similarly be shielded from any substantial and lasting criticism. And his needless and senseless murder on a Texas gun range only made him a martyr, thereby making him, at least for the moment, invulnerable to such comeuppance to the point where no one of any consequence even had the nerve to say, "Live by the sword..."
         And it isn't much of a stretch to say that Eastwood's and Kyle's fans happen to be the same ones that criticized African Americans this past summer, fall and winter for protesting having members of their own gunned down by so many mini Chris Kyles such as Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman. That would be the same libertarians who decry police abuse and overreach until they start killing dark-skinned people who "had it coming to them." Kyle himself bragged about, without substantiating it, killing looters (read: black people who "had it coming to them") in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Yes, Kyle was an equal opportunity misanthrope. He also hated his own people.
         Killing in war is unfortunately an inevitable consequence. At most, it should not be glorified and ought to be looked at as a grim duty. Good men ought to be troubled by the taking of human life regardless of how justified it was (and only a simple-minded misanthrope such as Kyle would even posit in polite company that every single one of his 160 confirmed or 255 alleged kills were absolutely justified). If war is an incurable condition of Mankind placed there by God, then it's horrible for a reason, The death, decay, destruction, plague and poverty that comes in its wake serves as an ongoing, albeit unlearned, object lesson that these ought to be deterrents to doing this to our fellow human beings.
         But even more despicable than monsters such as Kyle who use a wrongheaded and corporately-driven military action such as Iraq as an excuse to release his own racist demons to kill the very people the Bush administration piously swore for six years to be protecting are the people who are jumping on the Kyle bandwagon. The people who are misinterpreting Michael Moore's original tweet as him calling snipers "cowardly" are themselves resorting to hateful insults and death threats from the safe anonymity of their Twitter and Disqus accounts.
         Despite the fruit salad he may have worn on his Navy uniform, Chris Kyle was the very definition of an idol with feet of clay. And those who are threatening his critics with rape and murder only further dishonor a man who already has a blood-spattered legacy as well as the innocent Iraqis that Kyle glorified in victimizing. As with Sarah Palin and so many other right wing idols with feet of clay, in Kyle they've found someone who mirrors and validates their own irrational, misguided and ignorant hatred and racism.

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