Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 8/19/14


Monday, August 18, 2014

Tin Soldiers and Nixon's Coming


"Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice."  Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
     Perhaps only the illiteracy quotient of your average teabagger accounts for their not fully embracing Henry David Thoreau. The New England transcendentalist and abolitionist who once famously said, "That government is best which governs least" would've been apoplectic had he seen what's going on in Ferguson, Missouri. He definitely would've gone over the edge on hearing that DINO Jay Nixon, in an eerie reprisal of Kent State, had signed an executive order sending the National Guard to Ferguson and Florissant to oppose the largely peaceful protesters. Indeed, his executive order reads exactly like Orwellian boilerplate, with all the blame being cast on the civilians who have no weapons and have killed no one and even having the gall to invoke Mike Brown's name to restore order. You know, the Mike Brown who was murdered by a St. Louis County cop named Darren Wilson who didn't even know Brown was a suspect in a petty robbery and sparked off this massive, growing civil disobedience.
     Anyone even tangentially and obliquely familiar with his work could accurately anticipate the horror with which Thoreau would've viewed the reports coming out of Missouri. By today's standards and the rigid, ideological divisions of today, he would've been considered an odd duck: The man who'd famously built a cabin in Lincoln and lived among the flora and fauna, fighting tirelessly for the environment was America's proto-hippie. But there was another side to Thoreau who just as famously concluded that all governments are corrupt and, at best, were no more moral, just or legitimate than the free will of every and any individual.
     And the man who had eloquently mourned John Brown and condemned his execution even as the church bells in Concord rang in his honor would be taking to his Twitter and Facebook accounts screaming at the madness and the injustice of what's been happening in Ferguson this past week. And the Teabaggers would be rallying behind him since there was no love lost between Thoreau and the federal or Confederate governments.
     Any flashpoint that hardens into a cause, the understandable and remarkably restrained outrage of the citizenry that's even now defying a quasi-fascist curfew, is but a synecdoche of a larger issue. And that larger issue touching on the smaller issue of the murder of Michael Brown, heinous as it was, is every human being's right to their personal dignity and limited sovereignty. And that has been systemically and brutally violated in Ferguson, from the local constabulary all the way up to the Missouri Statehouse.

"It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law."
     Even though Thoreau had 13 more years to expand upon his philosophy of civil disobedience that wasn't so much a Constitutional right as an obligation, he never suggested what the alternative was to be. Humans need government and leadership. We crave it, we demand it. The alternative is anarchy. If you want a social safety net, infrastructure and its maintenance, a progressive taxation (to which Thoreau was also opposed) to fund these and many other public works, then you need government.
     While Thoreau was naive in the extreme in thinking we could simply divest ourselves of government, he was nonetheless canny enough to realize the inherent corruption that goes hand in hand with government. He was also smart enough to know that, even in a democratic society, not every problem has a democratic solution.
     In Ferguson, this is proven in the people being denied their first amendment right to peaceful assembly, surely, along with free speech and a free press, the most fundamentally democratic right there is. And the typical knee jerk response for any paranoid, corrupt government that's opposed even in the wake of a hideous injustice such as Mr. Brown's murder, is to mass its forces and brutally suppress and oppress the very civil disobedience Thoreau found practically sacred.
     After a 24 hour moratorium following President Obama's call for peace in Ferguson, the police state came back with a vengeance with tanks, tear gas canisters deployed constantly, rubber bullets fired into the crowd, reporters from the Huffington Post and Washington Post rounded up and arrested without charge at a local McDonald's and a midnight to five AM curfew you usually see only in banana republics. A live video feed I saw last night showed over 40,000 people in real time an NBC cameraman getting his life threatened by a Ferguson cop. The bullhorns blaring orders, the smoke and the ubiquitous police state made Ferguson, MO, a town of 21,200, look like the set of a dystopian science fiction movie.
     And even though the local and state police have largely gone unengaged, Governor Jay Nixon feels the answer to civil disobedience is to further saturate Ferguson with more armed troops and telling lies about the protesters in his very executive order. It brings to mind Kathleen Blanco's own executive order essentially calling for the killing of black people for looting local stores of essentials after Katrina devastated NOLA and the federal government was nowhere to be seen.

Damnation Without Representation
     It goes without saying African Americans remain the most underserved segment of our melting pot of a nation. What's happening in Ferguson, now officially an international embarrassment with Palestinian recognition and Australian condemnation and ridicule, automatically rolls back Civil Rights a half century to where it was before President Lyndon Johnson signed that landmark legislation in 1964. And the differences between Ferguson and the Bundy Ranch last April are stark, indeed. None of the black protesters are armed with anything deadlier than a tattered First Amendment. At the Bundy ranch, the exclusively white protesters were openly sighting down on federal officers with impunity.
     And it's easy to see Thoreau's moral quandary had he seen these two incidents side by side as we can. He naturally would've sympathized with both factions in Ferguson and the Bundy ranch. That is, until Cliven Bundy and his supporters came out in favor of slavery and a former sheriff openly flaunting the idea of using women as human shields.
     Humanity has never struck, nor will ever likely strike that elusive balance between minimalist, social laissez faire government and brutal, corrupt totalitarianism. As Lord Acton once famously said, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." And we're seeing in a little St. Louis suburb the arrogance and power-mad corruption of a state being challenged in the wake of an unjust crime being perpetuated on an innocent man.
     Here's another quote, this one from former Georgia Republican Bob Barr: "If you give government power, it will use it." The same thing goes for toys the DoD and Homeland Security give local police departments through federal grants, making our public servants better armed and more heavily-armored than our troops ever were in Iraq and Afghanistan.
     Yes, if Thoreau were resurrected and alive to see the madness into which this nation daily sinks more deeply, if he could see how his prized civil rebels had nonetheless come to embrace the slavery and racial bigotry that he also abhorred, he'd mutter the 19th century's equivalent of "Piss on it," and go back to his cabin on Walden Pond, wondering what went wrong.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Homemade Kickstarter Campaign

     I promise at the first available opportunity (probably tomorrow in which I'll likely weigh in on the recent unpleasantness in Ferguson) to give you the largely ignored bloggy badness on any and sundry subjects both political and social. But for now, I'd like to propose an idea:
     Some of you may recall a Kickstarter campaign I did back in the fall of 2011 when I tried to crowd source some financing for a crime trilogy I was writing at the time. It fell flatter than the top of Allen West's head largely because Kickstarter immediately buried my campaign and at least at the time didn't even have a "Book and writing" category where people could find it. In other words, if you didn't know the exact URL, you wouldn't know where to find it.
     Based on that and my unwillingness to share 10% of my pledges with Kickstarter (not that I had a chance of even coming close to reaching my goal), I'd like to do a homemade Kickstarter campaign here. I don't like their set-up and the way they bury worthy projects while guys get $50,000+ for making a fucking potato salad.
     One thing I like about Kickstarter is how each campaign offers rewards and incentives based on the size of the donation. I can think of those on my own and another advantage to posting them here is my proposals and how I write them don't have to pass an endless muster as with three years ago.
     Now, I posted something a few days ago about my plan to hire a professional voice artist named Debbie Irwin to narrate the trailer. That looks as if it'll be a done deal without having to arm-wrestle over the fee, largely thanks to one guy's generosity (and you know who you are). But I began thinking today that that should only be the start of what needs to be a professional marketing platform from top to bottom in order to get my properties and brand way beyond Pottersville and Twitter. That takes financing.
     So, here goes:
$1-25
     With your permission of course, a donation this size gets you a mention in my list of acknowledgements as a donor, sponsor or whatever words I choose that day.
$26-50
     A donation this size gets you both a mention in the acknowledgements and trailer plus a free electronic copy in .docx format of Tatterdemalion.
$51-75
     A donation this size will get you a mention in my acknowledgements and trailer, and a free, signed copy of Tatterdemalion's physical Create Space edition, shipped anywhere within the continental US, at my expense.
$76-100
     A donation this size gets you a mention in my list of acknowledgements, the trailer, a signed copy of the physical edition shipped within the continental US at my expense and, not only that, I will have a proof specially made for each of you donating this amount dedicated to you with a personal message.
$101-250
     On request, anyone donating this amount will get all the above plus have a character in Tatterdemalion named after them along with any brief description or characteristic you'd wish for me to assign the character. This may prove to be a quite a kick in case this book takes off as I have a feeling it will. Imagine your name being in a book that goes to Hollywood.
$251-500
     Anyone donating this amount will get all the above plus your fictional namesake will be mentioned twice. Who knows? In the two sequels I have planned, your character may be a recurring one.
$501-1000
     The Big Kahuna: Anyone donating this amount will get, if they wish:
     A mention in the list of acknowledgements and trailer.
     A signed, physical copy of Tatterdemalion dedicated to you with a personal message from me.
     A character named after you that will be mentioned twice.
     A free copy of all my books past, present and future, especially if I can get a traditional publishing contract, which I will also mail at no charge anywhere within the continental US.
     A partridge in a pear tree and everything before it. OK, I'm kidding about that.
     How's that for incentives? A decent response could get me advertising services that are currently out of reach as I have to keep paying the bills.
     Now, back to our regularly and irregularly scheduled political insanity...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 8/14/14


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meanwhile, on the Foothills of Parnassus...

     For you poor, eternally-disappointed souls who have been contributing to P'ville these past several years and have come here day after day to find no new examples of my so-called wit and wisdom, I profusely apologize for the paucity of political posts (How's that for alliteration?).
     As always, I'm endeavoring to set aside time for the type of blogging you've come to expect of me (especially since the midterms are coming up, one that'll, obviously, set the tone for President Obama's agenda for the rest of his term). But to those of you who've been following me on a regular basis know, I'm also getting my ass kicked by my current novel, TATTERDEMALION, which I'd previously described as "a special kind of special." There are very good indie novels out there by some very talented people but my book absolutely deserves a traditional publisher.
     It's a given in the book biz that a compelling trailer will elevate your book's sales and if it's professionally done, it shows how serious you are about marketing your book. Everything nowadays has a trailer. Along with movies, TV series, video games and books have trailers. And some of the book trailers I've seen are pretty slick.
     Yesterday, I was doing a casual search for voice-over artists and hit pay dirt pretty quickly when I ran across Debbie Irwin. A Chicago native, Debbie's now a New Yorker who does audiobooks, promotional videos and, among her favorite projects, book trailers. In fact, here are two samples of her work in that medium she's done recently. To give you an idea of the level talent and prestige of the clientele I'm speaking of, she's also the official voice of the Statue of Liberty.
     So I touched base with her yesterday through her website, told her a bit of what I had in mind. She wrote back, asking for particulars. I told her what kind of a book TATTERDEMALION was and that I'd like her to narrate the trailer as Annie Oakley, one of the major characters in my novel. She seems to be pretty taken with the concept and we've been bouncing ideas off each other since yesterday and even followed each other on Twitter.
     As for the question of compensation, she said her usual fee for a 30-45 second-long trailer would be $400, which I told her was somewhat out of my league. As she seems to believe in my project, she's willing to haggle and negotiate but I don't think I can secure her considerable services on my current budget. Kickstarter, which was a huge disappointment for me the first and only time I ever tried it, wouldn't be a good candidate for crowd sourcing. After all, it's just a trailer I need funded. What incentives could I offer?
     So, once again, I'm appealing to your fine folks here at P'ville  for help. As much as I love to blog about politics, I'd love even more to be a fulltime novelist who can actually support himself as one within an actual vocation and not just an unpaid avocation. Having a world-class voice over artist like Debbie Irwin would immediately set me apart from most of the pack and show potential readers that I'm serious and professional about marketing my book to a wide commercial demographic.
     Obviously, once the trailer's graphics are done and Debbie's voice looped into it, I'll be posting the results on Youtube, hence Pottersville, so you'll be able to see and hear what your kind donations paid for. We can cover the rent for another month and the car still needs some serious work but right now my focus is in getting this trailer done and sent to Philip Spitzer, who'd invited me to resubmit my book to his literary agency after I trimmed it down.
     So, whatever you can do to help us out would, as always, be tremendously appreciated (And donations of $50 or more will get you [if you live in the continental US], if you so choose, a free, signed paperback copy of the finished TATTERDEMALION shipped at my expense).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shazbot

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'You want a piece of me?'" — Robin Williams

     For a wild, zany, barely-restrained "always on" comedian in the mold of Fat Jack Leonard and Rodney Dangerfield, Robin Williams was surprisingly quiet about his political beliefs.
     The great great grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator Anselm McLaurin, Oscar winner Robin Williams died yesterday of apparent self-inflicted asphyxiation. He was found unconscious and DOA at 12:02 PM Pacific time. Williams' publicist said her client had been suffering from depression for a long time. Just last month, he was admitted into a rehab facility geared toward longterm sobriety.
     As well as being an insanely funny comedian and stunningly brilliant actor both comedic and dramatic (which should come as no surprise since he'd studied under John Houseman at Julliard in the early-mid 70's), Williams had invested much of his life and personal fortune to charity. Whether it be on behalf of an earthquake-tossed country or entertaining our troops, the manically energetic Robin Williams always seemed ubiquitous.
     But unlike his politically-active fellow thespians, Williams, for better or worse, never wore his political colors on his sleeve, preferring, instead, to let his considerable actions, relief efforts and even some of his roles do his speaking for him (Consider his uncharacteristically restrained performance as Armand Goldman in The Birdcage). But with Robin Williams, often the loudest and most unsubtle guy in the room, you had to listen closely to understand his subterranean political sensibilities.
     As well as the epigraph I used above, some of Williams' political statements came from a legendary 2002 two and a half hour standup routine for Live Comedy 2002:
     "It's great that we've got a compassionate conservative, but to me, that sounds like a Volvo with a gun rack."
     "Ever notice that George Bush doesn't speak when Dick Cheney is drinking water? Do you realize we're only a heart attack away from Bush being president?"
     And, in 2005, he was on Real Time with Bill Maher opposite then-Senator Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. So, yes, it should come as no surprise that Williams had political sensibilities. After all, he'd studied Poli Sci in the early 70's before entering Julliard to study under Houseman.
     It seemed, after listening to his statements serious and not-so-serious, that Williams had the right sensibilities and unerringly found himself on the right side of virtually every political and social issue without succumbing to arrogance and self-aggrandizing exhibitionism. He was a male feminist. When asked what his least favorite word was by James Lipton in a famous episode of The Actor's Studio, he said "cunt," adding it was an ugly word. Behind the scenes, he was a supporter of gay rights and the Democratic Party in general.
     That is why, in this hyper-polarized nation of ours (at least since Bush stole the White House for the first time in 2001), in which politically-active and outspoken celebrities on both sides of the Great Ideological Divide are not shy about making their views known, the manic Williams was surprisingly subtle about his own. While it's difficult to separate fact from the merely funny, one suspects Williams was always sincere while not overcoming his childhood shyness regarding politics. As with many comedians, he touched on heartbreaking and outrageous issues while leavening it with ceaseless humor.
     He was our generation's Will Rogers. And the entire planet is poorer for his untimely and tragic passing. One is at a loss to fathom how such a funny and unnaturally energetic man could succumb to self extinction. In a way, he personified the cliche of the comic whose heart is breaking inside. In the end, it has to be said that Mr. Williams' true value to humanity wasn't in that he was Hollywood's quietest liberal or even that he was one of the most brilliant entertainers the world had ever seen. Robin Williams' indelible mark on the human race lie in his ability to make us laugh through the heartbreaking times liberals weren't much in charge of anything.
     If you know of anyone threatening to do away with themselves or you ever suspect such an action is possible, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline either through their website or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 8/11/14


Great Moments in Passive Journalism

     This is about the Michael Brown murder a few days ago in Ferguson, MO and was written and posted by, to my eternal surprise (/sarcasm), the New York Times. If this sentence was any more passive, it would be wrapped in latex, have a ball gag and a safe word.
     And, really, using the passive voice here and making it sound as if the gun seemingly went off all by itself in loving defense of its owner, shows just how passive the mainstream media is in reporting establishment violence. The sinecured moron who wrote this story was obviously parroting what the Ferguson Chief of Police said, proving right then and there that no serious investigation will be conducted into the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager coming back from a convenience store (stop me if this scenario seems familiar).
     Granted, this clipping doesn't offer much in the way of context but, if we're as naive as a NY Times reporter to believe the police (note the mention of at least one other witness to the shooting, whom you can take on blind faith was not interviewed by the Times reporter), the kid just went crazy without being racially profiled and attacked a cop while going for his gun, where it then just magically went off all by itself, several times (specifically, ten times).
     Now, the Ferguson police are literally closing ranks because a bunch of uppity darkies are outraged over this shooting and are having candlelight vigils. Organs such as the NY Times are reporting the crowds as being ugly and violent, with people screaming "Kill the cops!", forcing the poor, beleaguered PR-challenged men in blue to get out the tanks and attack dogs as if 2014 Ferguson, MO became 1964 Birmingham, Alabama.
     And thanks to shiftless, sociopathic police departments run by equally shiftless and sociopathic chiefs and sheriffs who get to give their bullshit stories and unconditional defense of murder without challenge to a media that always finds some way to condone, justify, rationalize or ignore violence by the establishment, no murder of a black kid, however unjustified or egregious, is really completely without just cause. Leave it to the police department involved, the NRA, paranoid gun-clutchers and ignorant right wing bloggers on Hot Air and elsewhere to give us "the other side," in this case, Michael Brown acting completely out of character and grabbing a cop's gun.
     In other words, it's the same smokescreen tactic used by defense attorneys such as George Zimmerman's that saw the late Trayvon Martin's name and reputation get dragged through the mud by the establishment and right wing press that saw guns Photoshopped into his hand and bullshit arguments that an armed hulk like Zimmerman had every right to racially profile a black kid who had the nerve to walk through a sundown town like Sanford. Oh, he tried to defend himself against an armed, much larger assailant?
     Oh, then he definitely deserved to die, the little thug.
     Folks, you don't need me to tell you we have the worst mainstream media on earth. Our newspapers are so bad, dead fish jump out of them because they don't want to be caught dead being near them. So, I'm going to give you a little Howard Beale action and tell you to turn off your TVs, turn off your radios, throw out those newspapers and magazines, cancel your subscriptions, shut off your cable, stick your head out the window and scream, "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not gonna take it, anymore!"
     Or whatever the fuck you want. Whatever you say, let it be known to the police, the mainstream media, the government and whoever else is complicit in this constant justification of violence by the establishment, that you know they're complicit in this spiraling violence. Let them know that they're not the solution. They're the problem.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The More We Hope and the More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same





Friday, August 8, 2014

Forty Years and a Mule

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
     "Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning." - Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone obituary for Richard Nixon, June 16, 1994

     I was a mere, callow lad of 15 when Richard Nixon became the first US president to resign from office four decades ago today. During the early 70's, Dad had taken us on two vacations in Washington, DC and, politically speaking, it was like being in the middle of a highly-charged EMF Fear Cage. We lived in Maryland, Agnew Country, and the Capitol was only a glorified stone's throw from the Beltway. We went to a dinner theater and heard David Frye, whose entire shtick and career came to a crashing halt when Nixon scuttled out of office like a banana republic dictator as the rebels closed in.
     For those of you too young to remember Watergate, you won't get much help from me here. I refer you back to the word "callow", meaning inexperienced and immature as most 15 year-olds are wont to be. I knew it was fashionable to hate Nixon like Red Sox Nation hated the Yankees and the current crop of Gen Xers hate Nickleback. Everyone hated Nixon, even his fellow Republicans (although it was only because he'd damaged their brand). Only Checkers didn't hate him because he was already dead.
     It was impossible to get away from Watergate, the political hornet's nest kicked open by Woodward and Bernstein. Previously obscure senators, aides, judges and lawyers became more famous than Dick and Liz and John and Yoko and everyone knew on sight the faces and private lives of Judge John J. Sirica, John Dean and even future Senator Fred Thompson, who was the chief legal counsel for the late Sen. Howard Baker. It was really the birth of reality TV, the political scandal that was the biggest one since the long-forgotten Teapot Dome that toppled the Harding administration, the one that knocked the soaps off their lofty perch for better than a year. Because what's better than professionally crafted scandals? Real-life political scandals.
     But all I knew was that I was supposed to hate Nixon for obstructing justice and something to do with breaking into some whistleblower's shrink's office and spying on some political party at some hotel they named the scandal after. But from my worm's eye view it seemed to be a big, hairy deal so it just seemed wise to go with the toxic flow of sludge that came in with the Potomac. Who was I, a shallow, callow child of 15, to argue with these very serious men and women who were seemingly on a 24/7 news cycle? They smelled Nixon's blue blood in the chum line and, if I inhaled deeply enough, I could, too.
     So when Nixon hunched up the shoulders of his cheap suit on Marine One and gave us the Victory sign as if he'd just won a third term, we cheered. Mom cheered. Dad wouldn't say anything, since he was well on his way to becoming a racist right winger. But there was a sense of national relief, that, to quote the clueless boob from Michigan who was shuttled in rapid succession from the House to the Naval Observatory to the Oval Office like a lost piece of luggage, our long, national nightmare was at last over.
     Watergate was the political Hiroshima and Nagasaki that was dropped on the Republican Party, one that salted Republican districts for years, if not decades, to come. A quarter of a century later, all they could counter Watergate with was a sleazy office affair that led to a blow job and a yellowing stain on a blue cocktail dress (Henry Hyde would say on the eve of his retirement from the House that the Clinton "scandal" that actually resulted in Slick Willie being the first POTUS to be impeached was in retaliation for Nixon's own impending impeachment that was stopped only by his resignation).
     We thought the likes of piano wire artists such as G. Gordon Liddy, Henry Kissinger, Erlichman and Haldeman were the worst this nation could ever possibly produce, treasonous, morally palsied homunculi that could only be surpassed by the Nazi Party three decades ago.
     We were wrong. All Watergate did was lower the bar.

Let's Limbo to the Oldies
     That's right. Republican standard bearers and standards alike each got trampled in the mud and it never once occurred to these psychopaths to raise the bar and pick themselves from the primordial ooze and show they were better than Nixon, Agnew and the crime family with whom Nixon had surrounded himself. Instead, something wonderful, then horrible happened.
     Like a bottled scarab beetle over a match, Dick Cheney, then Gerald Ford's chief of staff, began laying the groundwork to so thoroughly cripple and undermine the centrist Republican president's administration, it led to the improbable election of an obscure Democratic peanut farmer out of Georgia. It was the equivalent of blowing up or pulling a building to keep a raging fire from spreading.
     Now hit the fast forward button and stop when the counter gets to Election Night 2000. No, you went too far. Back a little... there you go.
     Thanks to Ralph Nader, who should've stayed in Connecticut and run for a senate seat and Florida's excruciatingly embarrassing inability to actually count, George W. Bush, a guy who couldn't eat a pretzel without the supervision of an LPN, "won" the Oval Office. He was a legacy child who thought a budget was "just a bunch of numbers" and the Constitution "just a Goddamned piece of paper", someone who didn't know the first name of the president of Pakistan. But still, we thought, what could be worse than Watergate? Molly Ivins? What'd she know?
     Well, Bush was only too eager to show us what could be worse than Watergate. After drifting through the first eight months of his purloined presidency like a brain-damaged sloth in an opaque maze, 9/11 descended from the PNAC heavens like a deus ex machina, exactly the sort of disaster those fine elderly patriots had floated to Bill Clinton in a January 1998 letter, a deadly trick pulled off by a bunch of heartless pricks to get our nation back on track, sorta like Pearl Harbor. They just didn't specify which heartless pricks would pull it off.
     To try to compress it all for you. Terror attack on three fronts, blame the terrorist, forget the terrorist, go after another guy who had nothing to do with it. Lies about WMDs, then jokes about WMDs, smoking guns, mushroom clouds, 363 tons of cash literally dropped into the middle of a war zone. Forcing democratic elections in a war-torn country with as much stability as nitroglycerin, the MIC jiggling all the way to the bank. Belch! Five and a half years later, finally admitting the guy whose country we invaded had nothing to do with 9/11, where did y'all get that idea?
     On the home front, a disappeared American city, disrespecting a grieving war mother, inept and unqualified cronies in NASA, the FDA, every Cabinet position, tax cuts and war (an unprecedented combination), banning a future Vice President and a senior senator from consoling the families of the invisible war dead, needless terror alerts, corruption, corruption and more corruption that floated an entire blogosphere for nearly a decade.
     So where's Bush now, after inflaming most of the Middle East with his Potempkin pretensions of bringing democracy there, after not only lowering the bar but essentially trampling it in the mud until one couldn't see it, anymore?
     Painting little dogs and self portraits in Dallas with all the serenity of the elderly Matisse, with no hint of war crimes charges being brought, taxidermied with all the honors and respect accorded to any two term Chief Executive. And they called Reagan the Teflon President.
     Since Nixon's fall from grace, it's become all but obvious to astute political observers that the nation is, for some absurd reason, more forgiving of Republicans than Democrats in the wake of their scandals. Equating Watergate or Iran Contra or the boondoggle of the Iraq War to Clinton's blow job ought to automatically come with pinking shears to the ears of anyone who patiently listens to this illegitimate moral equivalence and to the tongue of anyone who tries to make that comparison.

Getting Back to Our Roots Involves Going Back to the Muck and Mire
     But we've forgotten what true scandal feels like, what real war crimes feel like. But as the living human memory of those who'd lived through those real high crimes and misdemeanors gets fuzzied and diminished with time, the younger generation cannot possibly, except in an antiseptic, anecdotal way, know what it felt like to live in those times. If you're under 50 or 55, you cannot possibly remember how horrifying My Lai was when it was first broken by Seymour Hersh, at just how crippling Watergate was not just to the GOP but the entire nation. As if we needed reminding, as if we needed an object lesson, Watergate confirmed the genetic-level American distrust of its own politicians.
     But then Bill Clinton, a corporation-coddling, dictator-loving, Big Mac-munching, death-penalty-supporting fuckstick became the most loathed man on the Beltway over something that should;ve been kept within the First Family and tens of millions were spent in vain to bring him down. Then, as if to get the unofficial first black president off the hook, the official first black president has been even more vilified and for all the wrong reasons.
     Barack Obama should serve, as should have Bush, as an object lesson in what happens when you elect a nonentity to the highest office in the land at a time when the MIC and a handful of multinational corporations essentially own the government. Between Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq again, drone strikes all over the world, state-sponsored assassinations of US citizens and their children without due process, you would think the American people would have been reacquainted with the outrage of their predecessors who'd listened with their hands over their mouths to the latest disclosures of the Watergate and Iran Contra hearings. But you'd be wrong.
     Instead, America has been reintroduced to its imperialist roots, with isolationism now a quaint notion in which, with no sensible rubric, we attack and invade some sovereign nation states with the fig leaf of cardboard coalitions while blithely ignoring the terrorist, genocidal acts of others (cough, Israel, cough).
     Essentially, anything goes as long as we don't get our cable interrupted during the Super Bowl and get shorted one inch on our Subway foot longs. Juvenal's Bread and Circuses works as well as it ever did and scandal seems as likely as Wall Street bankers going to jail for literally and cheerfully dumping the national and global economies like the fat guy in the dunking tank.
     In other words, politically, a nation that manages a 40% turnout during midterms and hardly more during general elections is as callow and shallow as that 15 year-old boy in Maryland four decades ago who knew he should have hated Nixon for his soon-to-be-surpassed crimes but doesn't quite understand why.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Please Recycle. I Do.

     Sorry I haven't been posting of late, guys. It's not as if I'm not aware of what's going on in the Ukraine and Palestine and, the biggest news of all, Lebron's return to Cleveland and Jon Lester's trade to Oakland. But this revision of Tatterdemalion's still kicking my ass and I still have more than 30,000 words to excise before I can even think of resubmitting it to that agency that'd asked for it last March. If it's any consolation, I haven't invested much time this summer on Twitter, either. These are some of my more noteworthy tweets from the last three weeks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dear USAISC

     ...aka the insatiably curious folks at IP Address 150.226.95.18:
      I know you've been to my place today, specifically at 1:09 EST. I know that you are located not at the USAISC headquarters of Little Rock, Arkanas but at Fort Benning, Georgia, the home of the 101st Airborne (The Screaming Eagles).
     And, if I so chose, I could track your GPS coordinates with such frightening exactitude I could pinpoint your position to within a few inches or at least to the work station you use to spy on me and other bloggers of, apparently, all political stripes. I know: I did it to my ex when she was trolling my blog back in the first half of 2009.
     I do not know how I've suddenly excited your liveliest interest, considering that one day recently I'd garnered all of 98 hits, a small fraction of the traffic I'd enjoyed up until a few years ago. I used to be a B list blogger, one who'd posted several times a day and had an average daily hit count in four figures. Now, I struggle just to get three figures a day.
     But according to one guy who'd noted your IP address at his own site:
     A new scanning program has revealed that Wikipedia entries on the School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC) have been edited from an IP address from Fort Benning to omit all references to human rights abuses connected to the school.
     WikiScanner, developed by CalTech graduate student Virgil Griffith, has traced the editorial changes made to the online encyclopedia to Fort Benning computers. The IP address used was 150.226.95.18. Any IP address that begins with 150.226 belongs to Fort Benning. That IP address has the name of doim1-358.benning.army.mil, which is via the Directorate of Information Management at Fort Benning.
     The program also revealed that an entry about Fort Benning was altered to delete all mention of SOA Watch. Graduates of the School of the Americas have a documented track record of using the skills they were taught at the SOA/WHINSEC against union organizers, social justice activists, faith leaders and everyone who speaks out for social change and the rights of the poor.
     The School of the Americas is also active against human rights groups within our borders. The school has not only monitored civilian groups and individuals who are working for a just U.S. foreign policy and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC, but they are also using our tax dollars to actively interfere in the political process. Military officials at the SOA/WHINSEC are spreading misinformation to Congress, flooding the media with letters to the editor, and approaching student groups who are planning events on the SOA/WHINSEC to demand access to the campus.
     The SOA/WHINSEC is propagating a mindset that is not in line with the role of the military in a democratic society. In this light, it does not come as a surprise that SOA/WHINSEC instructors who taught "democratic sustainment" at the school from 2003-2004 were arrested earlier this month in Colombia for their involvement in one of Colombia's most notorious drug cartels.  
     In other words, you're engaging in the whiteboarding of history by rewriting Wikipedia entries and seeking the suppression or censorship of any mention to the anti-American and borderline fascist SOA/WHINSEC, which seems to have produced drug lords from within our own Department of Defense a la Gary Webb.
     Further investigation into just this IP Address shows you are attempting to hack into peoples' Google accounts and trolling on a daily basis so-called Family Values blogs screaming about our government's nonexistent "homosexual agenda", including one troubled individual from FreeperLand.
     While my sympathies for those right wing hind leg chewers don't extend much beyond my own nose, I do have to empathize on an abstract level on what is obviously a fascistic mission creep that seeks to chill, expunge, suppress, oppress or otherwise moderate any dialogue, however true or however misguided, aimed at addressing and improving the social fabric. This post is to call you on it and to let you know that there are at least as many black hats as there are white hats (although the rise of the Big Brother state and the good things done by Anonymous are making it increasingly difficult to assign white hats to you and black hats to them).
     You, too, can be tracked, you, too can be traced and your internet travels, including the version of which Operating System you use (Windows 7), what your monitor's resolution is (1680x1050x24) and which browser you use (Firefox 24.0, this time, although you've also used, against all rhyme or reason, IE). I can even determine where you've been today because for a bunch of super spooks, you guys sure suck at covering up your tracks. You leave behind a lot of bread crumbs for others to follow.
     And I'm just an ordinary guy, not even an amateur black hat but one with extraordinary skills of detection who does have indirect access to the black hats you justifiably fear so very, very much.
     It bothers me enough I get hits from staffers of right wing Congressmen who also love to alter Wikipedia. It almost amuses me that now I'm up to at least four hits a day from the DoD Network Information Center Monday through Friday (which, through some rudimentary ratiocination, I've divined is not a spider bot as previously thought but a person as I never seem to get hits on weekends or in the evening, making their recon of my blog a creepily casual 9-5 day job).
     But now I see I'm getting hits from a bunch of redneck fascists who work to subvert and undermine the American democratic system (or what's left of it) and the very first amendment (again, what's left of it), a cybernetic goon squad that not only tries to rewrite history like so many Winston Smiths with equally horrible haircuts who create criminals in the drug trade. Perhaps your craven curiosity has been piqued because of my opposition to the aforementioned fascist mission creep that's predicated on the insane and ultimately self-destructive supposition that America is a nation of 315,000,000 potential criminals and terrorists. If so, you are less than a joke: You are a self-fulfilling prophecy.
     You Fort Benning boys seem to take an unhealthy interest in those who even mention, much oppose, the SOA (The patriotic-sounding School of the Americas). Considering the SOA's history (One strongly tied to Pinochet's Chile and Operation Condor), one can begin to understand the paranoid mindset. On top of whiteboarding Wikipedia and altering history, you've also been suspected of killing American citizens such as 27 year-old Peter Jessup, an experienced climber and hiker who died in 2007 after he supposedly fell off a mountain. Peter, you no doubt remember, was an active and vocal opponent of the School of the Americas and even won an award for his courageous efforts the year before his sudden and untimely death.
     All the same, your sudden interest in me is inexplicable since in nearly a decade of catch-as-catch-can, all purpose blogging across three blogs and guest-posting on many others, I had never once mentioned the SOA/WHINSEC. Well, obviously, all that's changed. Leave it to Uncle Sam to excite curiosity in the very act of trying to suppress it.
     Bottom line: You, too, are being watched. Do not let my low hit count fool you. I am still here after a decade, others know I'm here and you'd be astounded to know who I know. You want to smirk at that, Geek Boy? Then let's have at it. Hit me again and I'll do some Kung Fu that'd make Aaron Swartz weep with envy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/23/14


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/22/14


Monday, July 21, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/21/14


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville #21


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/19/14


All Time Classics

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