Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ted Cruz, Columnist, is Now Officially a 5th Columnist

     For all those lib'ral naysayers who have been claiming the contrary, Sen. Ted Cruz is literate and proved it by writing an op-ed for USA Today last Sunday that has to be read to be believed. Essentially, it's Cruz's stunningly brilliant ten point plan to wrestle the federal government down by the horns so it can become Cruz's moaning, sobbing, pillow-eating bitch. If nothing else, it proves that #1 Far from Teddy the Cross succeeding in keeping the white-suited men with the butterfly nets away from his plainly senile father Rafael, he and Daddy ought to be sharing the same bedpan in the same East Texas rehab facility. #2, it also proves that Cruz is nakedly a fifth columnist.  
     It all starts out with Cruz's patent right wing delusions of the Republican Party taking over the entire Congress. "By all signs, Americans are preparing to send Washington a clear message in the 2014 elections. The question is, will Washington listen?"
     First off, I'm going to say that there is no way on God's green earth that the same Republican Party that shut down the government a year ago, created and passed 0 jobs bills, denied veterans any means to decently sustain themselves, denied us countless nominated judges and a Surgeon General for a year and essentially pissed off everyone but their oligarch employers on Wall Street is ever going to retain all their seat plus win the six additional ones needed for a Republican majority. Nate Silver can say all he wants that the GOP has a 62% chance of taking the upper chamber. It's not going to happen. Jerry Falwell's rotting corpse will claw itself out of its grave and be the Grand Marshall for Provincetown's next Gay Pride March down Commercial Street before that nightmare will happen.
     Secondly, since when did Cruz ever have a vested interest in Washington listening to what the American people say, especially when it runs counter to their Apocalyptic agenda? Cruz' entire political career on Capitol Hill has been an endless variegated way of saying, "Fuck the vox populi!" whether it be in trying to repeal ObamaCare, pissing off Christian Arab audiences or reading from a Dr. Seuss book.
     So here's Cruz's ten point plan, with the usual commentary from yours truly:
     First, embrace a big pro-jobs, growth agenda.
     Seriously, when did Cruz or any Republican ever give a shit about job creation except during times like this (an election year)? They cynically ran on a jobs platform in 2010 and 2012 and got their fat pasty asses handed back to them both times. As stated earlier, the GOP has not passed one jobs bill in all those years because the only jobs they're interested in is their own. True, as Rick the Dick reminds us at every turn, Texas leads all states in job creation since Perry took over but what they always fail to mention is that the Lone Star state more unambiguously leads the nation in minimum wage and temp jobs. And even Perry's office admits the biggest job growth is in the upper half of the pay scale.
     Second, pursue all means possible to repeal Obamacare.
     Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dr. Albert Einstein.
     Third, secure the border and stop illegal amnesty.
     Remember, this fucking bozo actually graduated from law school and passed the bar exam (which in Texas I suspect was written by Orly Taitz and Michele Bachmann).
     Can someone tell me what the fuck "illegal amnesty" is? If the government  officially offers amnesty and it hasn't been found unconstitutional by the high court, then it's legal. And, once again, even though the president's been steadily hammering Congress to pass some amnesty legislation, they've been about as invested in doing so as they are in creating an actual jobs bill.
     Remember, also, this border paranoia comes from a Latino who was born in Canada after his Castro-loving daddy pulled some strings to illegally insert himself and his family into the US. Secure the border? Yeah, wrong border and too little too late.
     Fourth, hold government accountable and rein in judicial activism.
     Another selective right wing trope. Activism can be defined as a moderate from either party who votes or rules in favor of a bill or law running counter to the Republican Party's paranoid vision. I guess, in Cruz's Dr. Seuss mind, "activism" also includes Chief Justice John Roberts, who proved to be the surprising swing vote in upholding 99% of the ACA.
     And "holding government accountable" is exactly the reason why the GOP will not retake the Senate after all the shenanigans the 113th Congress has pulled these past two years.
     Fifth, Stop the Culture of Corruption
     Forget that this is a Pelosi buzz phrase. The irony meter just shot from left to right with an audible Clonk!
     A quick look at some of the usual suspects making up Cruz's war chest reads like a list of the SEC's Top Ten Most Wanted. Topping the list by far is the notorious Club For Growth, the far right wing cesspool founded by Steve Moore. You may have heard of the Wisconsin chapter of the CFG every time Scott Walker's legal woes are mentioned. Walker's been all but forbidden from receiving any payola from them during the pending litigation and the poor man has to rely on handouts from the Republican Governor's Association to keep alive any hope of keeping his seat.
     Anyway, that's just one of the scumbag running buddies of Tailgunner Ted, another being Goldman Sachs. Still think Cruz is interested in listening to the vox populi?
     Sixth, pass fundamental tax reform, making taxes flatter, simpler and fairer.
     Yet another tired, right wing mantra, a "flatter, simpler and fairer" tax on the 1% and corporations would be at an ideal flat 0% rate (and many corporations already pay negative taxes, some of them, Gasp! being Cruz's own employers campaign donors). Drag, bathtub, drown, yada yada.
     Seventh, Audit the Federal Reserve
     Seriously? This is like Old Home Week for right wing platitudes. Considering we're paying this clown $174,000 a year for working just over 100 days, I'd think that Cruz would have the time and motivation for inventing new right wing conspiracy theories.
     Eighth, pass a strong balanced budget amendment
     Ha ha ha ha! The GOP, even with a Senate majority, would have about as much of a chance of passing Congress and being signed by the President as Rafael Cruz regaining his sanity. If America had ever needed one, previous Congresses would have already passed it. Plus, under Obama, federal spending has slowed to 1.4%, the slowest rate in modern times. But you won't hear Teddy admitting that much.
     Ninth, repeal Common Core.
     Again, this would have zero chance of happening. First off, it's state-led, meaning Cruz and his few zealous followers in the Senate would have no say over it. So don't listen to Cruz and the right wing hind leg chewers at Red State. It is state-led, not a federal takeover of education, and it works a helluva sight better than the immediately defunded No Child Left Behind.
     Maestro, drum roll, please?
     Tenth, deal seriously with the twins threats of ISIL and a nuclear Iran
     Because a day without war in the Middle East is like a day without Koolaid.
     ISIL has killed about as many Americans on US soil as Ebola, which is to say Bupkiss. And while I've never been a fan of Obama's foreign policy, it can't be argued the president's response to ISIS and ISIL was swift and decisive while old farts like Brit Hume were harrumphing over the Commander in Chief's choice of words.
     And a nuclear Iran is no more a reality now than it was eight years ago when Republicans were slavering to go to war with them over their nonexistent WMDs.
     Basically, what Cruz is doing is measuring himself for a big red cape so he can appear to the Texas goobers who vote for him as the Superman who will take on Obama's Lex Luthor... for two more years. After the president leaves office on January 20th 2017, there's no telling what liberal beast will rear its ugly head but I trust that St. Ted will wave his corkscrew broadsword at it to little if any effect.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Meme o' the Day, Pt 2

     What the Palins need is a Hillbilly Whisperer.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Meme o' the Day

   Memes: God's way of saying, "He ain't got shit today but here's some proof of life."
   Still in the teeth of this damned revision. Here's what it's like trying to trim a 255,000 word book down to a 199,000+ word book: Imagine removing every fifth block from one of the Great Pyramids on the Giza Plain while keeping it upright and its structural integrity intact. Yeah, it's kinda like that. But TATTERDEMALION's turning into a better and better book. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.
    We writers depend very heavily on delusion almost as much as Republican voters.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Riddle:




     Q: Why does Walmart sell so many pants?
     A: Because we keep pissing ours.
     Seriously, when the fuck did we become such a nation of wet-legged twats, ready to piss ourselves like an abused stray dog meeting a stranger? Did our grandparents act this way after Pearl Harbor? No, the men went to war, the women became WACS, nurses, made planes, tanks and ships. The middle aged and elderly formed civil defense organizations and held scrap iron, paper and rubber drives, our grandmothers rolled bandages for the Red Cross and they even sold War Bonds in their spare time.
     They didn't sell out their own neighbors and threaten to ruin their careers because (Gasp!) one of them went to Dallas or boot them off planes because a toddler said something that got people upset.
     No, we pulled together as a nation and repelled a very real threat to our democracy. Churchill and FDR didn't tell us, "Turn in your neighbor if they eat Japanese takeout" and Edward R. Murrow didn't tell us to hide in our basements and hope the Germans don't get us.
     Seriously, people, the terrorists (that is, if they were indeed the ones who pulled off 9/11) won 13 years ago because they did their jobs. We're properly terrorized, thanks to the manic disaster organ grinder monkeys at Fox "News" and other endorphin-spewing mainstream media outlets who know all too well that fucking fear sells faster than anal lube on a gay cruise ship.
     It's not puppies saved from being euthanized or little kids setting up lemonade stands for a worthy charity that gets us flipping those remotes, it's good old fashioned FEAR.
     "ISIL and ISIS is going to cross the Mexican border!"
     "Little brown kids are going to cross the Mexican border!"
     "Ebola! Oh, shit, we're all gonna die in puddles of our own diarrhea and vomit!"
     "OMFG, the President is a nigger!"
     Meanwhile, we make heroes out of self-styled vigilantes who murder unarmed children with impunity and tax cheats and rich welfare queens and their militias. You know, the real turds in the punchbowl.
     We shrug our shoulders at the "good guys with guns" at our shoulders waiting on line at a Kroger's or Target and shit our Sears Sans-a-Belt Actionwear slacks at the very thought of regional rump terrorist outfits 7000 miles away threatening our freedoms that have already been taken away by our own government.
     In all seriousness, when the hell did we become such a nation of yellow-legged cunts scared of our own shadows, mainlining fear like a heroin addict in Needle Park? I'll tell you when:
     September 11th, 2001. The day the bravery died and was replaced with empty bravado by the Three Card Monte dealers and shell game artists of the US government.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville #24


Friday, October 17, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville. 10/17/14


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cut Old White Pervs Like Me a Break


By Cyril Blubberpuss, Esq.
     I was just saying to my butt boy the other day as I was gently trying a new cigar cutter on his pinkie that 60 year-old white guys like me have it too rough. The liberals are screaming that we make too much money, don't pay enough taxes, that we victimize the weak and poor, never face criminal justice, "Affluenza", wah, wah.
     Then John Grisham descends from the heavens like a naked Martin Mull on a clam shell and helps set things right.
     In a limey newspaper, Grisham inveighed against 60 year-old white men like us getting sent to prison for downloading kiddie porn after knocking back a few too many single malt scotches. Now, liberal muck-rakers like the perennially jobless loser who's the, er, "proprietor" of this left wing sewer of a blog may read too much into that. JP would say something like, "What about black or Latino kiddie porn surfers?" or "I'm assuming this is Grisham's tacit admission that only old, white pervs do this."
     But Grisham is spot-on. Surfing through kiddie porn sites is a victimless crime simply because we look but don't touch. Why, I'm sure the under-aged runaways who frequently pose for their legions of white, late middle-aged male fans get compensated very well for their work. And once you get up to 13-15 years of age, these wily young entrepreneurs and artisans fully know what they're doing and are every bit as much the hard-nosed negotiators as their Wall Street counterparts. Trust me, they don't all live under bridges in Seattle and dumpster dive at McDonald's as Rush says.
     What Grisham was kind enough not to say, and what I will admit here, is that the 60 year-old white guy to whom Grisham was referring, his friend who went away for 10 years for downloading kiddie porn, was actually my kid brother Cecil. Cecil was at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street one night in 2004 and had one or two too many Glenlivets. Actually, he rarely goes to the Stonewall but he loves the fact it's on Christopher Street and the very name conjures up images for him of a short-pantsed Christopher Robin of the Winnie the Pooh books, with whom he'd always had an unhealthy fascination.
     Anyway, he finally pours himself into a cab, goes back to his loft in the Village, and essentially butt-dials a porno site on his cell phone, only with his fingers. Anyway, without knowing it, Cecil finds himself in a chat room in which other like-minded men are sharing pictures of these young beauties who never seem to smile or look happy. Eventually, he found himself in a drunken dialogue with another middle-aged white man whose handle was "EIB69", someone who said he was in the radio business. Before Cecil knew it, he woke up naked in the middle of his living room, his laptop's monitor covered with dried semen and his hand on his sated but withered phallus.
     Well, Holy Goebbels, before he knew it, the FBI knocks on his door before breaking it down, finding my poor kid brother in his state of dishabille. On the monitor was a picture of a nude young gentleman who looked suspiciously like Justin Bieber and after scanning the contents of his hard drive, charged him with downloading kiddie porn.
     So, if Grisham was referencing my kid brother, he wasn't actually telling the whole story. Cecil got sent to Riker's Island for just three months while our late father Ambrose worked his magic and blackmailed a judge who was also an aficionado of the same website. Oddly enough, Cecil was extremely reluctant to leave Riker's mumbling something about a life-altering experience in the prison shower. Anyway, bottom line: Cecil got sprung and there his internet-surfing activities were put to an end. As part of a special plea deal, the prosecution compromised by ordering an electronic cock ring to be put around Cecil's member so that any tumescence could be measured in real time so the cause could be investigated.
     Or it could be Mr. Grisham was directly referencing "EIB69", who's still in the radio business and works from home in Florida. Although, if this EIB69 is who I think it is, he never spent a single day in jail even after he was caught coming back from Hispaniola years ago with some doctor's Viagra on his carryon.
     Then again, Mr. Grisham could making up the whole anecdote and that perhaps he doesn't actually move in those seamy circles. That's what writers call "poetic license."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 10/15/14

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

For Jamie

     For the last several decades of my life, October 14th was a day of celebration. It happens to be the birthday of my first girlfriend and mother of my oldest child, someone whom I still count as my oldest and dearest friend. But three years ago today, Jamie Hubley of Kanata, Ontario, Canada changed all that.
     Jamie, as you may or not recall from the pages of this blog, stole a bottle of sleeping pills and did away with himself one Saturday morning while his father, a local politician, was smiling for pictures a short distance away for the dedication of a new field. Jamie's suicide stunned the Canadian community even in a year in which a tragic and alarming number of gay, bi and lesbian teens were doing away with themselves all over North America.
     Jamie was the only openly gay boy in his entire high school and, as with so many other LGBT teens, was the victim of bullying. He was insulted, marginalized, ostracized, stigmatized and made to feel as if he was less than nothing on a nearly daily basis. And, in the end, even this sweet, gorgeous, talented 15 year-old and his loving, supportive family and friends, psychotherapist and access to pharmaceuticals couldn't be saved and he sought and found a permanent solution to what surely was a temporary problem.
     And Jamie Hubley lived in a nation in which gay marriage is legal all over the country. His bullying classmates notwithstanding, Canada overall has a much more tolerant attitude toward their LGBT community than we do here in America.
     And three years is not such a long time except perhaps in the rapid fire give and take of the internet. A quick look at the #JamieHubley hashtag on Twitter reveals that on that giant social network only two people had used the hashtag today: Myself and Jamie's own father. There is something wrong with that, as deeply wrong and intolerable as Jamie's suicide.
     While the Supreme Court's recent decision not to rule on gay marriage one way or the other has led to a floodgate of lower court rulings striking down gay marriage bans from coast to coast (as many as 32 states may have legal same sex marriage by the end of the year, a full two thirds of the US), much work still needs to be done regarding our attitudes about our own LGBT community.
     Obviously, our community has made great strides. When I first came out as bisexual here over fours years ago, only five states plus the District of Columbia had legal gay marriage. Now we're talking dozens and the tide is turning. The trend is irreversible. But court rulings and referendums only do so much. It's the winning over of hearts and minds that counts and where the fight truly begins.
     One problem is the nomenclature and words we use. To me, the very words "homosexual", "heterosexual" and "bisexual" are deeply offensive and limiting and I'll tell you why: It's the insistence on using the suffix "-sexual", as if that one facet of gay or bisexual life completely defines the entire LGBT experience. Obviously, it doesn't. But the common usage of these words (and the rabid homophobic right wing's insistence on and reasons for using "homosexual" instead of the more modern and correct "gay" is all too telling) automatically limits our perceptions as to what it means to be LGBT.
     The very use of the words with the "-sexual" suffix chokes off our perception of the gay or bisexual experience to a sexual one, in which straight people typically recoil when they imagine men or women making love with each other. Sure, sexuality is a part of human existence but only a part. As with everyone else, LGBT people wake up, put on the coffee pot, go to work, make money, pay bills and taxes, go to the dentist, go to school, walk the dog, fall in love, get married (if their state allows it) and even raise families just like everyone else.
     And nobody, I don't care who they are, has the moral authority, nor should they have a legal one, to dictate to any other human being whom they have the right to marry or not marry. You go to the Castro or Fire Island or Provincetown, find a gay couple deliriously in love and happy to be in each other's company then tell them their happiness and joy is the product of a mistake of a lifestyle choice or a phase they'll grow out of and see the reaction you'll get.
     Jamie Hubley felt he was asked for more time than he could give. The idea of enduring three more years of high school and waiting a year for the next local Pride event was more than he could endure contemplating. And Jamie had advantages many other gay youth do not have: He had a solid support network beginning with a loving, supportive family and friends, a doctor, drugs to counter his mood swings. And it still wasn't enough.
     Think of how difficult it is for LGBT youth who don't have those advantages, those who lack Jamie's courage to come out regardless of whether or not anyone comes out with them. A few days ago was National Coming Out Day but we shouldn't reserve a sole day of the year to encourage these tortured kids to come out. We need to redouble, if not triple, our efforts to tell these kids that, yes, it does get better and that a stigmatized past and present is not necessarily a predictor of the future. Jamie, in his pain and immaturity, couldn't see that. But there are so many others we need to save.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 10/13/14

Happy Columbus Day... unless you're a native American.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Top 10 Demands Made by the IOC

     Early this month, Oslo, Norway essentially dropped out of the bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympics by refusing to fund it. Part of the possible reasons for the Norwegians' disinterest were the IOC's list of demands, which were partly:
  • Cars and drivers for IOC members, with special dedicated highway lanes
  • Street lights synchronized to prioritize IOC traffic
  • Separate airport entrance for IOC members
  • Samsung phones for all IOC members
  • All furniture must have "Olympic appearance."
  • "IOC members will be received with a smile on arrival at hotel" 
     However, these were not all the demands listed by the International Olympic Committee. What were the other 10?

10) Retractable dome to be built over entire country so IOC officials don't get snow on them.
9) Harvesting Sonja Henie's DNA and cloning her so she can light the torch.
8) Serenaded by Tony Bennett during bowel movements.
7) Olympic corporate sponsors must be given first licensing rights to all athletes' future first-born children.
6) No bid corporate security contract to be given to Anders Breivik.
5) 65 kroner, or about $10 US, is to be paid by each of Norway's 5 million citizens every time a sponsor's product or their surnames are mentioned.
4) Oral sex performed nightly by Sweden's and Brazil's female athletes on beds with six-inch layer of Grand Prix rose petals.
3) Individual theme music to be played by Trans Siberian Orchestra during every IOC members' public appearance.
2) Norway must terraform country to exactly reproduce Nike swoosh.
1) Virginal flower girls scattering rose petals before them to be thrown into Icelandic volcano during Closing Ceremony.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Across the Twitterverse

     Since your master of ceremonies finally, finally got his galley proof of Tatterdemalion printed and shipped to my house, things will be full speed ahead from now until the end of the year for the final assault in this third and final revision phase. That means blogging (save for Election Night, natch) may be a little thin for the rest of the year. But rest assured, the paucity of posts will be worth it because yours truly will finally do another Assclowns of the Year retrospective. Yes, folks, 50 of 2014's biggest assclowns will be raked over the coals of lib'ral indignation in Assclowns #100, which will be packed with all-new material. In the meantime, however, please accept this substitute for actual blogging in the form of the dubious aphoristic wisdom of my Twitter feed.


















Thursday, October 9, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 10/9/14

Monday, October 6, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 10/6/14


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Singing Your Own Praises for Your Supper

     Here's the latest from the Bizarro World of the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance:
     While I still haven't been able to reach anyone or get my messages answered by this bloated and glacially slow bureaucracy, we got a sheaf of paperwork in the mail today. Apparently, the reason why they'd cut us off with two days' notice was because when we'd re-certified last month, they never sent us paperwork to fill out to enroll in a mandatory job search/training program.
     Now, theoretically, I was also supposed to do this when I was on UI until April 2011. And that's fine. I'm all for people being given the chance to pick themselves up and that the social safety net for working age people should not foster, God help me for using this phrase, "a culture of dependency."
     What I'm critical of is the fact that we'd gotten cut off from our one reliable lifeline, our EBT card, with little notice and no explanation because my incompetent case manager never sent us paperwork for a program we didn't even know existed much less one that was mandatory. We're paying the price for some low level bureaucrat's ineptitude and weren't given a fighting chance to hang on to our benefits.
     This process could take weeks and is still subject to review. Under MA law, the first time you're rejected, you lose your SNAP benefits for three months. The 2nd time, six months. The 3rd time? A whole year. This could last for weeks or even months if they don't like what they see. Essentially, we have to provide evidence of job searches totaling 24 hours or so a month. The paperwork was photocopied with no back to fill out, Barb's first name misspelled and the "brochure" that looked as if it was mimeographed by Stevie Wonder. Seriously, these are the psychopaths I have to deal with on a regular basis.
     About dozen and a half or so kind souls, mostly those making donations of $10-25, have responded to my plea for help but we're far from being out of the woods. Which is where wolves happen to live.
     So, if you'd read the previous post and passed on helping while being able to, you might wish to reconsider this time because I'm plainly dealing with morons in a bureaucracy in which the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing.
     (Note: A slightly expanded version of this can be found on Daily Kos.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

End of Benefits Tomorrow

     Here's hoping you enjoyed today's Top 10 list but now it's time to get serious.
     I was having a pretty good day until the mail arrived. I'd finally resolved the issue with my publisher, CreateSpace, regarding my final galley proof for Tatterdemalion. In fact, they were so apologetic, they even agreed to send me five free copies of each of my four previous books plus four additional proofs of my current project, with expedited shipping. Then I put up today's post right before Mrs. JP brought up the mail.
     The first envelope I opened actually contained more good news. COLA adjustments told us we were getting $10 extra on our EBT card, which makes up for half the money we lost a year ago when the Obama administration failed to reauthorize the ARRA. The second envelope contained the kicker:
     No benefits for October. We've been cut off as of now.
     The form letter we'd received gave no specific reason but a list of possible reasons, the last one being basically, "Maybe we haven't gotten around to processing your recertification so you don't eat this month. Sorry!"
     The recertification process was last month, I did everything I was asked to do and in a timely fashion. I've tried calling my case worker, her boss and her boss, and it looks as if we won't hear from them before they close at 5 (which, at the present time, is in less than 30 minutes.).
     We have next to nothing left on the card from September's benefits and little food in the house. Our card was due to get topped up on the 4th and, failing that, we're going to be left high and dry with little or no time to prepare for this momentary disaster. The impression I'm getting  from the Dept. of Transitional Assistance is that they're not too interested in solving this matter. Whatever their reasons are for cutting us off, they're completely without merit as I've been up front and aboveboard with these people and have done everything they've asked to the letter.
     We just paid our rent yesterday and, after some car repairs we've had to make recently and our other bills, we're almost completely wiped out. If you guys could help us out this month, you'd literally be lifesavers. And I'd like to give something back. So, if anyone kicks in $50 or more, I'd love to send you free copies of my books, at my expense, since I'm getting a big box of freebies from my publisher.

(Update 1.Since yesterday, I've been aggressively pursuing anyone and everyone at the Dept. of Transitional Assistance all the way on up to the Director herself, without success. My case manager's inbox is perennially full so I can't leave a message and no one is answering their phones or responding to my messages. So it looks as if our card will not get topped up tomorrow, as they promised us, and that means we're far, far from being out of the woods. About a dozen good souls have chipped in what they can but if this is going to be a lengthy, drawn out fight to get our SNAP benefits reinstated if at all, we're going to still need some serious help. Thanks, btw, to Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors for putting the call out on our behalf.)

(Update 2: You're not gonna believe this.)

Top 10 Secret Service Security Breaches

     In an eerie reprise of the action movie, White House Down, it appears as if the US Secret Service isn't as invested as it should be in protecting the President and the First Family. Beginning with two party crashers at the White House years ago, the President's security detail has been caught several times of late in dereliction of their duties, including not reporting shots fired at the White House, a knife-wielding intruder entering the Executive mansion and the latest revelation of an armed contractor in Atlanta years ago sharing an elevator with the President. Unfortunately, these are not the only security breaches allowed by the Secret Service since Mr. Obama's 2009 inauguration. What were they?

10) First Family driven to the Inauguration by Ted Kennedy.
9) Making Mr. Obama change a flat tire on the presidential limousine in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
8) On Martha's Vineyard last year, handed the President an unloaded gun and asked to spell his security detail while they went for ice cream.
7) Briefly considered outsourcing security for Sasha and Malia to George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn and Officer Darren Wilson.
6) "Accidentally" leaking presidential motorcade route on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, 4Chan, Snapchat, Instagram, Fark, Reddit and Wikileaks.
5) Tried to convince the First Lady that dashing 100 yards over open ground to waiting limousine would be great cardio.
4) "Jokingly" taping a target on the President's back within sight of an NRA rally.
3) President's Secret Service code name is, "Black Radical Who Wants to Take Away Your Guns, If Anyone's Listening In."
2) Repeatedly pointing at Mr. Obama during his morning jog.
1) Making James Woods Honorary Secret Service Director for a day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CreateNeedlessProblems




CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Road
North Charleston, SC 29406

To whom this may concern:

            My name is Robert Crawford. My member ID is 679626 and this pertains to my project, Tatterdemalion, ID# 4633360.
I've been publishing with CS for at least four to five years and occasionally I’ve had problems manufactured for me, usually by your onsite review team. I say "manufactured" because I've had them reject my galley proofs for the most ridiculous of reasons. Now, when I proof a novel, I do it both on disk and physically in the galley proof I get from South Carolina as a backup. Over the last week, they've rejected the latest version of my novel because they're claiming there's a copyright restriction of a free font I'd downloaded from a website that specifically says it's fine for free commercial use and that it's Freeware.
Last night, I'd copied a screengrab from the site from which I'd downloaded it (for context's sake, I’ll pause to say they'd printed my 2nd galley this summer, with the font in question) and sent Customer Service the file attachment. Today I found yet another generic email telling me they rejected my galley for the 3rd time in a row because of a nonexistent copyright restriction. So, obviously, CS didn’t do its job and provide your Onsite Review Team with this information that could’ve cleared my third and final galley proof. In their defense I have to add in all fairness that one of your CS reps offered to give me gratis five copies of my old galley with expedited shipping. But why would I want five copies of the old galley printed up? What good does that do me?
Here's the problem: If you wish to complain about this, you can't just contact the Onsite Review Team but Customer Service. And the problem with THAT is Customer Service, incredibly, is forbidden from contacting the Onsite Review Team. Their only go-between is the Technical Services Department, which, unlike the 24/7/365 CS and ORT, works 9-5, M-F. In other words, CS is placed in the absurd position of having to speak for a department from whom they're forbidden to contact. The executive assclown who thought of that little piece of innovation on the org chart needs to get their ass fired on the spot.
Here's where it gets really interesting: When she began asking questions this morning, the CS rep told me the Review Team's actual reason for rejecting my manuscript was not because of a copyright issue but because the Buffied font that's at the center of this wasn't embedded… which is pure bullshit because #1, they'd printed that font in the 2nd galley and #2, the font shows up fine on the Digital Viewer. So the Onsite Review Team's reasons for refusing to print my galley are shifting and both without merit. Here's the actual notation they put on my book's file review page: "The interior contains the font Buffied cannot be embedded that we are unable to embed. Please embed all fonts in your PDF." Not only is that blatantly wrong, it's not even literate. I feel as if I'm dealing with Latka Gravas from TAXI. (Note: You can't embed fonts in a .pdf file. It has to be done in the native Word file, which I'd done.)
And this isn’t just me: Even your own people in South Carolina hate working there (See this).
Now, it ought to be mentioned here this is coming from someone who hasn’t been able to find a job in close to six years. Since the spring of 2009, I’ve been passed over many times for jobs for which I was vastly overqualified. So when I see incompetence at this level, it’s only inevitable and justifiable that I ask myself and others, “Why are these morons employed by Create Space and why can’t I get even a minimum wage job?”
I've demanded to speak to an executive twice within the last few days and have waited by the phone for nothing. And it seems every time I write to a CS rep, I get a response back from a completely different person who can't take the time to review the history of the correspondence or doesn’t seem to have a First Language grasp of English. It's, as one person described it years ago, "like deaf people talking to each other."
Let me make this clear: Through advance publicity and sending out proposals, I have many people waiting for my book. Among them is a top-shelf literary agent named Philip Spitzer who told me to trim the book and resubmit it. But I don’t know how long these people will wait before they forget about my book. Your Onsite Review Team is needlessly holding up the galley, preventing me from finishing, publishing, marketing and selling my book. In other words, they’re detrimentally affecting your bottom line. If you’re an executive, you’re probably a sociopathic asshole who doesn’t give a shit about my plight but you should give a shit about your corporation’s bottom line and who’s subtracting from it.
Your publishing and marketing platform is wonderful. It's a seamless entry into the biggest online book market on earth and the rates and royalties are pretty OK. But it's your setup and execution that sucks big time. Your authors (or “members”) often hate you, your own employees hate you (On Glassdoor.com your average rating is two and a half stars out of five) and bookstores hate your books and refuse to carry them because of the shoddy product and your blatant refusal to buy shelf space, offer refunds and selling them wholesale on consignment (which all books are sold as).
This arrogance and out of touch incompetence inevitably comes with being so firmly attached like a loaded colostomy bag to one of the biggest corporations on earth. With gigantic market share comes gigantic hubris, arrogance and sociopathic disregard for the needs of your authors and their readers. Your managers and executives are called out time and again for their pettiness, vindictiveness, cluelessness, incompetence and sheer laziness. You spend all your time, according to your staff, sitting on your fat asses at meetings and those who work under you have to psych themselves up before showing up for work because you have unapologetically set up a merciless sweat shop that employs almost no one but low-paid, badly-trained temps.
As a professional novelist who has to do scrupulous research on his subjects, it should come as no surprise to you that with a few mouse clicks I have been able to find out how horrible a place Create Space is to both work in and do business with.
Sometimes I wonder if Jeff Bezos knows or even cares about the idiots, sociopaths and untrained foreigners he has working for one of his biggest offshoot companies. On the offchance he’d like to know and to take some proactive steps, it’s only a matter of time before my researching skills find a way to reach him and let him know just how dysfunctionally this company’s being run from executive management on down. And as a blogger and someone with a significant marketing platform that includes a largely-inclusive online and social networking presence, I will let everyone I can possibly reach know just how horrible it often it is to deal with CS.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Kevin D. Williamson is Too Dumb to Write

     Let me make some disclosures, ones that may upset some of my liberal readers (all five of them). But I make them because I'm no longer young enough to care what people think about my positions. I am what I am and you can take me or leave me. I was never so obsessed with the zeitgeist to give a shit one way or the other about fashion or political correctness and to fall into the perennial trap of trying to please everyone at once..
     One of the things about me is that I am very conservative in certain areas. I do not believe in flag burning. I think defining that as free speech was as egregious a mistake as the latter day SCOTUS defining corporate cash as free speech. Men and women died to protect the ideal that flag represents, which are the ideals of a nation, never that of a government.
     Another one of my conservative beliefs is my staunch opposition to abortion. My technically Roman Catholic nuclear family was never that wild about religion, not much had rubbed off on me, a person who's been an atheist for a half a century. That is, except for the sanctity of life. I never could even begin to embrace the fact that an innocent fetus has to die because its mother made a poor judgment call or was brought into being because its father was a rapist. In most cases, adoption is a preferable alternative.
     Having said that, I also acknowledge that a woman has the right to do with her body as she sees fit and there seems to be no common ground between the child's right to live and a woman's sovereign right to her own body. If I were King of the World, would I ban abortion? Absolutely not. And there are scenarios in which termination of a pregnancy is not only wise, it's sometimes necessary.
     Abortion seems to be the focus of Kevin Williamson's latest opus in the pages of the National Review, a right wing rag that, even in its so-called intellectual heyday was, at best, a bastion of leather chair-bound, pipe-sucking right wing clubber elitists snuffling their pseudo-intellectual credos in a neverending quest to justify selfishness. It was essentially Playboy without the funny cartoons or nude women.
     However, in the last couple of decades the magazine has undergone a noticeable decline not only in quality but in sanity. And the very fact that the NR insists on employing an unreadable, fascist hack like Kevin Williamson should be enough to make William F. Buckley pinch the bridge of his nose and compel his semi-recumbent ghost to chase the miscreants who work there to the very gates of Hell and beyond.
     Now, allow me one more brief digression by way of illustrating that I am not the hide-bound liberal some may think I am and that this screed is not the product of kneejerk reactionism or liberal bias (which wouldn't make me any less right). As stated above, I've always been contemptuous of the diktats of fashion, political correctness and the herd mentality and that includes the real focus of Williamson's bitter screed, "Five Reasons Why You're Too Dumb To Vote": Lena Dunham.
     As stated before in the pages of this forum, I do not see any reason for Lena Dunham's existence on the planet earth. As with the fly and dandelions, I do not know why is she is here. She is a little air-headed twit who, as I'd said, "Put $3.6 million of pennies on the eyes of Western culture" for a solipsistic book. She used her show business connections and mommy's influence to break every submissions protocol in the publishing business by disseminating a 60 page book proposal, accessing people in the business from whom the rest of us unwashed beggars are ordinarily barred.
     Having said that, Williamson seems unhealthily obsessed with Lena Dunham in much the same way that Rush Limbaugh is obsessed with Michelle Obama. To paraphrase Charles Krauthammer, let's call it, "Dunham Derangement Syndrome."
     While I haven't the slightest amount of respect for her, if she wants to take to the internet and remind her readership to go out and vote this November, I haven't a problem with that. She's right. You should go out and vote on November 4th.
     But Kevin Williamson has a problem with that because, darn it, those 20-something Millennials have a habit of voting Democrats and liberal and we can't have that. Therefore, concludes Williamson, if you vote Democrat, you're too dumb to vote. In fact, as he says at the end of his screed,
If you get your politics from actors and your news from television comedians — you should not vote. There’s no shame in it, your vote is statistically unlikely to affect the outcome of an election...    
     Let's just set aside for a moment the inherent stupidity and ignorance of such a statement and focus on the bigger picture painted in fecal matter upon Williamson's wall: If you read Lena Dunham, you exist solely to serve as a cash cow for "a gang of abortion profiteers." But it gets a lot worse. When challenged in the comment section by a reader on his extreme views, he said that, while he opposes capital punishment, women who get abortions ought to be hanged. Yes he actually said that and on Twitter before he deleted it.
     No word, yet, on whether his leniency regarding capital crimes and capital punishment would be extended to men who rape little girls and woman who are then forced to have an abortion because they may have a problem with having their lives dramatically altered by being the only mother in their Middle School.
     After a few barely coherent paragraphs of "Dunham Derangement Syndrome" posing as ersatz intellectual puffery, our wouldbe David fucking Brooks then takes hypocrisy to new, unimagined heights when he writes,
there are many much more meaningful ways to serve your country and your fellow man: Volunteer at a homeless shelter; join the Marine Corps; become a nun; start a business.

     All of which being, we can reasonably conjecture, things never once attempted by Kevin "D for Douchebag" Williamson.
     It ought to be mentioned that Williamson, believe it or not, is not some fringe lunatic chewing off his hindleg from behind a shitty little byline at NR or the Moonie Times or Breitbart's online convection ovens. Williamson is a frequent contributor at Fox "News" (see lead picture) and seems to represent the mainstream conservatism.
     So the next time some right wing gas bag screams in your face that there's no war on women, just remember this asswipe who called for the hanging of woman who get abortions, which is part and parcel to extreme radical right wing eliminationist rhetoric designed to scare and intimidate rather than debate and educate.

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