Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Zen Apartment


...or This. Is. Spartan!

No way does my new place look this good but I have to check and see which pictures of my grandson I've already uploaded to my email so I don't erase any that I haven't saved (my cell phone camera's memory's maxed out with Gavin and Buddy the dog pics). Next time, ya'll will get the ten cent tour, promise.

I'm not necessarily an advocate of the Spartan lifestyle (although I loved 300, airbrushed abs and all). There's something to be said for kitchen counters, a sofa, a bed that's non-inflatable or chairs that aren't so rickety they don't sway back and forth when you walk past them.Tables, I've also come to realize, are underappreciated pieces of furniture.

It's going to be home for at least the next year as I'd insisted on locking myself into a 12 month lease for my protection. I have no tv, no stereo, no internet access (I'm writing this at the local Hudson library, which gives you only an hour's worth of access at a predetermined terminal).

Therefore, in order to avoid feeding on my own mind, I'd begun devoting every spare minute since Friday to proofing American Zen from stem to stern. Which is apt.

My fictional bassist, the laid-back Rob Svenson, would advise me to take up the Zen lifestyle. Like it or not, I have. I finished my novel's final proofing by Sunday night so now I guess my monastic lifestyle will impel me to finish other projects. Either it'll be The Bone Bridge, American Zen II: Rock of Ages (also proofed in its incomplete state this w/e) or my hostage negotiation thriller, The Toy Cop. So far, the way it's panning out, American Zen II is getting my nocturnal attention.

If I had my druthers, though, I'd rather be blogging. As always, there's so much going on. I've read the White House has made its second round of automaker bailouts and restructuring conditional on Rick Wagoner quitting and the pathetic but always entertaining GOP dumbshow is up to its old tricks.

Man, would I love a bloody, quivering piece of that.

Unfortunately, internet access, as said, is both sporadic and fleeting. And it can't accurately be said that my ex is interested in dealing with the results that she'd singlehandedly brought about.

Living here is strange. I feel as if I'm housesitting. Or more accurately, I feel as if I'm living someone else's life, someone who doesn't or was ever meant to exist. Perhaps it's a reflection of the echoing emptiness of these four rooms.

Yet it would be the height of folly to assume that one can suddenly rip a man from his only kith and kin for over 15 years, bar him from visiting except when you have need of him, violate an earlier promise to not do exactly that to him and not make that man feel hollow and existential.

Zen is not for everyone. It wouldn't do for a guy like George W. Bush, a man famed for his aversion to introspection. Zen is also not for me.

Because there's also something to be said for the axiom that states, "Sometimes when you stare at the abyss, the abyss stares back at you."

Political blogging, as with writing novels, is a way for me to crawl over the lip of that insatiable, yawning abyss. It's my way of saying in the best possible words not only that "I was here" but, "I am here" as are 6.1 billion human beings.

Thank you for choosing to watch my life unfold, to watch for proof of life to the necessary exclusion of almost all others.

It's time to get back to work, to once again make Pottersville the place to go for alternative, vicious gonzo journalism on all matters both political and social.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just a quick toot.


I only have a few minutes of online access.

Just to let ya'll know that I'm getting settled into my new digs. I have food for a coupla weeks and all I need, really, is furniture. I have a rickety chair and an air mattress and that's it. Other than that, I'm warm and well-fed so I'm already luckier than some. However, if someone sees free furniture from in or near Hudson (under the Metrowest section) being offered on Worcester or Boston Craigslist, kindly forward me the ad so I'll see it next time I log on?

Internet access through the local library will be sporadic, at best, since town budget cuts shorten their hours more and more every year. So that's why I have no access to speak of.

My budget until the end of June, when I'll have to come up with half of the last month's rent (instead of the full $600) will be strained, so getting 'net access, phone service and luxuries such as cable/satellite will remain a wistful dream. So, without the "distraction" of the internet and television, I've been spending all w/e proofing American Zen from start to finish and ironing out even more bugs.

I cannot fucking believe a lit agent hasn't grabbed it, yet.

Anyway, this will be it for a while. I just thought a new post will be more visible than burying this in the comment section of an old thread. I'll be posting pictures of my place next time I come on. It ain't much but it's mine. Sort of. My landlord's a bend-over-backwards kinda guy and he and the realtor really worked hard to get me in there. We all had something at stake and were looking out for ourselves but somehow we all helped eachother out and everyone's happy. He took my $600 deposit last Friday with an air of great relief.

So I'll see ya'll later.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

E Day


It's in 24 hours, the "E", of course, standing for Eviction. For a month, the 26 on the calendar was the biggest number of March, getting bigger and turning redder with each passing moment.

I will always believe to my dying gasp that I do not deserve to be treated like this after going on 16 years of unending sacrifice and devotion to this family. And all the angry, ignorant denunciations in craven, anonymous comments and right wing blowhards incoherently bellowing in my face will not change that unalterable, objective fact.

Yet, as my fictional, infinitely more compassionate right wing pal Billy Frazee would say, "Turn the fuckin' page, pal. and rev the throttle all the way." I've gone through Kubler-Ross's 5 stages of death, albeit somewhat out of sequence. What's important and beneficial to all concerned is that acceptance is the final stage. That's strictly for my grandson's benefit, no one else's. The rest of them can all go to Hell just for not supporting me and doing the right thing.

Since it looks as if I'm being pushed into a disgusting flophouse, I will not have internet access so this will be it for a while as tomorrow night I'll be too busy packing up to post anything. Those of you who've followed me for the last two or three blogs may want to do so officially or through RSS feeds, Google or Yahoo readers, etc. That way, when I poke my head out, you'll be immediately alerted.

I intend on putting up a Paypal button as soon as I learn the process and open up a bank account. Hopefully by that time I'll find an affordable phone/internet plan so I can continue providing you all with political content and justifying what money you'd kindly send my way.

Unless something breaks at the last second, I'm essentially going to be hurtled into the 19th century. I will have no TV, no radio, no stereo, no cable, no phone, no internet access, no bathtub, no washers or dryers within reasonable walking distance, no cooking appliances and no car.

That means I have to dig myself out of the 19th century and belly my way back into the 21st. It'll take a while and I'm going to have to ask you for your patience.

Until then, this is JP signing off for the foreseeable future and, one way or the other, I hope to see you all at your local bookstore.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life


Mike Flannigan: What are you laughing at, Billy?
Billy Frazee: This is kinda the same way that movie started out.
MF: What movie?
BF: It's a Wonderful Life.
Rob Svenson: Why, Billy, I'm touched! I didn't know you were into feel-good movies.
MF: He's not. He just watches it so he can root for Mr. Potter.
BF: Spoken like a true bleeding heart liberal asshole. No, I ain't usually into those kinds of movies, Kung Fu, but I do have a kid. We've watched it a few times together.
Jo Jo Vandermeer: Oh, I see what you mean, Billy! You're referring to God and the angels talking about George Bailey.
BF: Bingo, Jo Jo. Poor bastard's got his plate piled high right now.
MF: Well, the name of the place is Pottersville. I've posted here a few times, myself.
Dave Carmichael: Guy was even thinking about offing himself.
BF: Dave, is that you? I thought you were chasing fame and fortune or peddlin' your failed album out of the back of your truck.
RS: Billy, come on. We've moved past all that. The road trip with Jo Jo? Remember?
BF: Alright, alright.
MF: So, how are we going to help out this poor guy?
DC: Not by bitchslapping eachother like we were the 3 Stooges, that's for sure.
JJ: Pray for him, I say.
MF: Go ahead but poor JP's like me, babe. Religion really isn't efficacious in the secular world and he needs someone with a pulse to help him out.
DC: That effectively puts us at a disadvantage.
BF: How do you figger, boss man?
DC: We're fictional, remember?
BF: Right. Gotcha.
RS: On the other hand, maybe we're real and JP's fictional.
BF: Christ, there you go with the Zen shit, again.
RS: It's not Zen. Just a simple shift in perception, is all.
JJ: Hey, I got an idea! How about we get our instruments and play that Pearl Jam song "Alive" for him?
MF: Oh, I get it. "I'm still alive." Nice try, kiddo, but his computer got fried last summer, remember? He doesn't have a sound card and he wouldn't be able to hear us.
BF: Besides, "Alive" doesn't have a keyboard in it, Jo Jo.
RS: Well, we have to do something for him. In 24 hours, he's losing the two biggest parts of his life: His home and his family. If anyone knows what that feels like, it's me. I can't trust he won't do something stupid.
JJ: Like kill himself.
MF: Let's not go there again, OK, Jo Jo?
JJ: Oh, right. Sorry.
DC: Well, he can still read this. If we put our heads together, we should be able to come up with something that'll...
BF: What're ya, fucking blind, Dave? Look at him. He's busy packing and lookin' like he can't decide to shit or wind his watch.
DC: He can read this later.
MF: He won't have internet access where he's going, either. Or even a laundromat within walking distance.
BF: Boo hoo. Those're the least of his problems.
DC: For once, you and I agree, Billy.
BF: I mean, the fucking dump he'll be livin' in is a lot like the place I'm livin' in now. It's the kind of place where you're tempted to wipe your feet before you walk onto the street.
JJ: Billy, why do you have to be so gauche?
BF: What did I say? I'm just sayin', this is a helluva drop off for him.
MF: OK, why don't we all just think for a minute and each give him a piece of advice? Maybe he'll log on later tonight and read it.
BF: Hm. Thinkin' ain't exactly my long suit.
DC: Oh, you're just being modest, Einstein.
BF: Fuck you. Put your thinking cap on and shut up, Dave.
JJ: OK, I'll go first.

JP, I know what it feels like not to have family or any kind of a support network, to be exposed, scared, vulnerable. Like my husband Jeremy said, that's exactly what it feels like to be gay. Not that you're gay or anything...
BF: Jo Jo, you're fucking this up.
JJ: Shut up, Billy.

Anyway, JP, know that for every person in the world, there's at least one angel looking out for him or her. Everyone gets their turn in the sun. Everyone.
BF: And every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.
DC: Can you do better, Frazee?
BF: Hell yeah, Carmichael.

OK, Rob, listen up. You ain't gonna get anywhere in life keeping your head below your shoulders and crying, Poor me. I been there. I know. OK, you're getting kicked to the curb like toxic waste and I left my wife and kid voluntarily, but aside from that...
JJ: Ahem. And you said moi was screwing up?
BF: Shut up, Jo Jo. I still got the floor.

Look, you remember that conversation I had with Mike in Springfield, right, Rob? Take a lesson from that. Write your own fuckin' ending instead of letting some ghost writer asshole do it for you.
DC: "Ghost writer asshole." Very poetic, Billy. You ought to take that next time you go to the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference.
BF: Why would I go to a baker's conference?
DC: Oh, brother. Anyway...

Robert, we all feel like we have a stake in this. After all, we all came from you. We're all a facet of you to some degree. But, look, while it may've cost me some friends, when I signed with that record label 30 years ago, at least I was chasing my dream. I just thought my shoulders were broad enough to carry everyone eventually but they weren't. You're our hope for immortality. Publish your book and bring us back for the sequel. We'll be waiting.

Who's next? Mike, Rob?
RS: OK, listen up, dude. Sometimes the cow shows itself, sometimes it doesn't...
BF: Cow? What the fuck are you talking about, you Swedish meatball?
RS: He knows. The Zen exercise. Anyway, all you need sometimes in life, Robert, is a little revelation, some tiny bit of information that allows the truth to suddenly present itself. I'd take up Zen, if I were you. Get a Zen garden. Listen to your namesake.
BF: Zen, cows. Yeah, that'll get him far.
MF: Billy, can it.

OK, JP. I've enjoyed posting here when even my editor in chief Ari considered my stuff too hot to handle. I'd like to do so again. And I'd wager that many of your readers, believe it or not, care whether you live or die. I'd like to think that, however bleak life is for you, for all of us at times, there's someone out there who cares about you.

Sometimes silence isn't death or apathy or despair. Sometimes, silence is just opportunity taking a breath.
BF: Bravo! Robert fucking Frost, we got here!
DC: You guys want to head back to the barn and grab a beer? I'll buy.
BF: Fuck yeah! Let's go. We're done here.
JJ: Uh, do you have Pepsi, Dave?
DC: (Chuckling) Sure, little guy. Hop in the van.
BF: I got shotgun!

(For Minstrel Boy more than me, since he wanted to hear from the guys one last time.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dark Side of the Spectrum


By the day after I'd begun writing American Zen, which was the fifth anniversary of Shock and Awe, I was already so immersed in my novel that I had barely noticed it was the date we'd invaded Iraq. It was raining here in Massachusetts that day and, I'm ashamed to say, that was the biggest reason why I didn't try harder to get a ride to Moveon.org's candlelight vigil in neighboring Marlborough.

This year, long after I'd put the finishing touches on my book, this past March 19th went completely unremarked by me. In fact, I'd written nothing but increasingly frantic Craigslist ads begging for adequate housing. It's not as if I no longer care about our brave men and women in Iraq. It's just, to quote "Five Deferments" Dick Cheney, "I had other priorities."

But it had occurred to me today that, due to external forces beyond both my control and comprehension, what I sought out to do in American Zen not only did not happen, the exact reverse did.

My novel's first person narrator, Mike Flannigan, was my idealized self, an ideal that I thought writing and publishing AZ would help me realize (since it was painfully obvious by last year that I'd fallen far, far short of his example). Even though he doesn't realize or appreciate it until the end of the book, Mike has it all. This lucky but momentarily ungrateful bastard has a nice home in the toney town of Wayland, Massachusetts, a great wife and three wonderful, loving kids, a family who actually frets when he's not home. For good measure, he also makes a pretty good living doing the one thing he loves to do and is better at than anything besides playing a Stratocaster: Mike's also a well-known and somewhat feared investigative political journalist, sort of a Seymour Hersh-in training.

On the other, darker end of the spectrum is the band's former drummer Billy Frazee. Billy's a former SEAL, on the very edge of life and seriously considering ending it all. When Mike and his ex-bassist Rob Svenson show up at Billy's motorcycle repair shop in Connecticut, Rob notices after Billy accidentally cold cocks Mike a noose tied off and still swinging in the bay. Billy left his family a decade ago, still haunted by what he'd done as a sniper in the Persian Gulf in the early 80's.

Billy was where, what and who I used to be and from whom I was convinced I was moving away while making my slow but sure transition to where Mike was.

It didn't occur to me until long after I finished the first draft that Mike and Billy are really opposite sides of the same coin. Minus the hardcore Republican conservative belief system, I used to be Billy and wanted to be Mike. Right in the middle, during this painful but still-interesting transition, crawled yours truly.

I always thought that penning American Zen, unquestionably my most brilliant sustained effort, would help make me Mike Flannigan and put Billy, or his violent past, out to pasture. I thought, like Mike, that I was just in a rut and publishing this book through the best agent in the business would restore the credibility that I'd always lacked in this family.

But these past several weeks, I've found that I'm actually being pushed closer to where the acid-tongued but suicidal Billy is until he, too, achieves his own salvation at the end of the novel. These past few weeks, I've been harboring the dark thoughts that Billy had squirming in his brain ever since 1981, alternating between fantasies of coming out of retirement one more time for the deserving or just ending it all.

But Billy, as I'd just said, achieved the salvation that comes to every principal character in the book with a little intervention from his childhood friend Rob, who convinces Mike to swing by Troy, New York so Billy can begin repairing his relationship with his estranged ex wife and daughter. Billy, like me, was baffled and buffeted by forces beyond his control and comprehension. But toward the end of the book, he has this exchange with Mike at a garage:
“Mike, did you ever get those books for your kids, the ones with all the different endings?”

I said I never had. It violated every principle of storytelling that I could imagine. Even though I’ve never written a novel, I’d said more than once that while there are countless ways to begin a story, there was only one way to end each one.

“Just before me an’ Liz broke up, I got Jay this book for her third birthday. It had like five or six different endings. I read it to her a few times when I wasn’t too beered-up. She kept asking me to read it from the beginning and giving her a new ending until there were none left.

“She told me she didn’t like a single one of them. So you know what she did?” I shook my head. “She thought up her own ending and I’ll be fucked running if she didn’t think up the best one of them all. She was always a quick little shit. Thank God she’s got brains on her mother’s side of the family.

“Well, that’s what this point in my life is like, Mike: A shitty book written by someone else where all the endings suck. Well, I’m taking a cue from my little girl and writing my own fucking ending.” He pointed toward the bay doors.

“Being in this place, hearing the impactors, smelling the grease, hearing metal on metal… It reminds me that I should be at my own shop, taking care of my own business, sobering up and reclaiming my family. That’s why I threw away the gun.” He’d also popped all the bullets out of the clip and tossed them out the window into the foliage on I-90 just before we got to the garage. “That incident at the bone yard, dude, told me that I can’t be playing the middle-aged hero. You can’t be a SEAL forever.

“So I’m going back with Rob. Hell, we’re in Springfield, Mike- we’re just north of Connecticut. There’s no sense in going back to P’town. And it’s not the fag thing. I just gotta reclaim my life. We all do.”

Indeed, Billy. I'd offer you a beer if you weren't trying to unsteadily climb onto the wagon.

American Zen, even though I was its author, taught me so many lessons I cannot even begin to count them. This novel is the most vivid and organic delineation of characters actually thinking with a subterranean wisdom independent of their creator, of characters literally taking a life of their own.

Billy's not the smartest guy in the world but he's basically good and compassionate and is determined not to live a Calvinistic existence in which those above him in the economic and social hierarchy determine his fate or lead him to think that he has no power to exercise control over his own destiny. Bullshit, Billy says, and I agree.

One of my readers recently wrote something that embedded itself in my brain like a painless fish hook when he said, "Success is the best revenge." My novel is still very much in the swim with several literary agencies and I have many other appropriate agencies to whom I can submit this. I can also send this book "over the transom" (or submitting an unsolicited ms without an agent) to St. Martin's Press, the only major publisher that'll still read stuff sent by you, the author.

It looks as if I'll be going into a dump either Thursday or Friday but it will be temporary. And when American Zen hits the shelves to whatever success it brings me, the contrast between where I am to where I'll be will be enormous. And perhaps more than one person in this family will look at Ingrid and ask her incredulously, "That's the guy you threw out of this family?!"

So, thank you, Billy. You resisted the urge to go to the bright white light and found another for which you don't have to die to see. So will I.

You Try to Do the Right Thing...


...and this is what you get.

This is what I just got from Stephanie Curtis, the correspondence program manager of the Transportation Security Administration. I spent almost 15 minutes downloading Adobe Acrobat for this shit?
Office of the Assistant Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
60 I South 12th Street
Arlington, VA 22202-4220

Transportation

MAR 23 2009

Security
Administration

Mr. Robert Crawford
crawman2@yahoo.com

Dear Mr. Crawford:

Thank you for your e-mail of February 18,2009, regarding Mr. Hal Turner, who you believe may be a threat to national security, and your suggestion that he be placed on the No-Fly List.

As part of its airport security procedures, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires airlines to verify the identity of all passengers to ensure that persons on Federal watch lists who are known to pose, or are suspected of posing, a threat to civil aviation or national security receive secondary screening or are denied boarding on commercial aircraft. The Federal watch lists are maintained by the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center in a consolidated Terrorist Screening Database, and are compiled from information provided by Federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The Federal watch lists include a No-Fly List and a Selectee List. Individuals on the No-Fly List are prohibited from traveling on commercial aircraft. Individuals on the Selectee List are permitted to fly but receive secondary screening at airport security checkpoints.

DHS can neither confirm nor deny whether an individual is on a Federal watch list because this information is derived from classified and sensitive law enforcement and intelligence information.

We appreciate that you took the time to share your concerns with us. I hope this information is helpful.

Sincerely yours,

Stephanie M. Curtis
Correspondence Program Manager
Office of the Executive Secretariat

Figures. After beating my head against a brick wall for over four years, this is how I go out. Not with a bang but a whimper.

These clueless boobs at Homeland Security are busy giving me the runaround, telling me essentially that it's none of your business to know who's on the list, why or even whether or not you're on it.

What's lost in Ms. Curtis is that I was not asking whether or not Turner ought to be put on either their No Fly or Selectee lists ("Selectee"! How pleasant-sounding, huh? Kind of sounds like a preapproved gold or platinum card membership, doesn't it?). In fact, I wasn't asking for confirmation when I'd written them over a month ago as to whether or not Homicide Harry had made the grade. All I wanted was some proof that they were seriously addressing my very real concerns that he was openly publishing on his blog instructions on how to make ricin and smuggling it on board some public transportation.

Obviously, that's not enough even when you provide proof in the form of hyperlinks that Turner could, conceivably, either pose a risk to national security or convince someone in his phantom army of neonazi psychopaths to do so on his behalf.

Coincidentally enough, I also today got an email, if you want to call it that, from Congressman Paul Butterfield:
Dear Mr. Crawford:

Thank you for taking the time to share your views. I assure you that your thoughts or concerns on this issue have been taken into account. There is much more work to be done in this Congress over the coming months. As we discuss, debate, and vote on this and other similar issues, I will keep your correspondence in mind.

Thank you, again, for your letter and for the privilege of serving you in Washington.

This man plainly has no idea in this catch-all piece of boilerplate what I'm talking about let alone know that I am not in his district or even in his state.

You try to do the right thing instead of sitting on your hands and waiting for the results to show up on the 6 o'clock news and this is what you get from bureaucrats who plainly don't know their asses from their elbows. Bureaucrats who regularly ignore potentially dangerous morons like Turner while putting people like Ted Kennedy and Bush's Brain co-author James Moore on their watch lists.

I just don't want these idiots knocking on my door (whereever I'll end up in 48 hours) if and when Turner's threats are solidified into tragic action.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What Took Them So Damned Long?


It's not as if corporate greed is a new phenomenon. It just got out of control during the Reagan/Friedman/Laffer years of supply side economics then went into hyper drive during the Bush administration. It's not as if leading economists such as Paul Krugman kept from us the fact that while pay for rank and file workers have gone up exactly 1% in the last several decades, executive pay is now, on average, 400 times greater than those of rank and file workers.

We were outraged last fall when we found out AIG had spent $440,000 on a retreat at the St. Regis resort in California and was about to blow several hundreds of thousands of dollars more on another.

So how come Congress is just now getting off its ass and doing something about reining in executive compensation for bailed out companies by strengthening the oversight process? The Democratic party, which obviously was more enthusiastic about the $700 billion TARP program, has been in control of Congress since early January of 2007. While they set several pre-existing conditions before disbursing the first half of the bail out money, there plainly weren't enough. And what few conditions there were, Hank Paulson effectively ignored when the money passed through his hands and into the grasping paws of his old friends in the corporate sector.

The result? Banks that were supposed to be using their share of the TARP money to free up liquidity and help unfreeze the credit market stopped making loans even to qualified applicants. The money flooded into Wall Street under the ridiculous Reagan-era assumption that it would soon trickle into Main Street. Now the Connecticut Attorney General is telling us that AIG did not disburse $165 million in executive bonuses to the very same people who landed AIG, its shareholders and clients into this mess, but over $210 million.

Yet only now is Congress getting outraged enough to mount their moral high horse after having completely ignored history. It's a history that tells us when government adopts a laissez faire, hands off tactic with the corporate sector, when there is little or no oversight and completely deregulated, the man on the street will get reamed.

If we could trust corporate executives, they wouldn't continue lining their pockets for tanking their companies such as what we saw at Merrill Lynch and AIG. We wouldn't be hearing people like AIG CEO Ed Liddy telling us that the bonuses were "distasteful" but, hey, what are you gonna do? It's out of my hands. Howz about we give back, say, half so we can still keep over $100,000,000?

This housing/credit/stock market crunch that's dragging the rest of the economy into its black hole should serve as a durable, if not everlasting object lesson as to the futility, stupidity and naivete of assuming that corporate executives could and should be trusted to be responsible captains of industry, that the free market will ensure the viability of both Main and Wall Streets.

History obviously tells us otherwise. And we all know what George Santayana would've said about not heeding the lessons of history. Except, We the People are doomed to repeat it while companies like AIG continue doing business as usual. And business, at least regarding their vast personal finances, is very, very good.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Caption Contest


This was found in what may be the room I'll be forced to move into this Thursday. Ain't life grand?

From here on in, internet access will be sporadic at best, unless something better than this dump comes through between now and Thursday. Ergo, blogging of any sort will be virtually nonexistent, since my priorities are, obviously, elsewhere. I can think of at least a handful of people who won't miss this place. I guess the truth hurts their tender sensibilities.

For the rest of my real readership, I'm sorry it had to end this way. This is supposed to be a political/social events blog, not an actual diary of my personal heartbreak and I'm sorry I dragged you all into this pathetic clown show. But, bottom line, this may be my last post ever because not only will online access be limited but I honestly don't care about politics, anymore, another thing I love that was taken from me. I don't even follow the news, anymore.

But I just thought I'd give some of you a smile and maybe a chuckle on the way out the door. The last one out please turn off the lights and unplug everything.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ordinarily...

...I'd be writing up a storm. AIG is paying its top executives $165,000,000 in bonuses, Cheney's saying that Obama's detention policy is endangering America. And there's Will Ferrell's You're Welcome, America one man show about George W. Bush. Ordinarily, I'd be writing about these things on my day off.

But I can't while being myself. In fact, I don't even know what or who I am, anymore or what and who I'm supposed to be. I'm filled with fear verging on wide-eyed panic, filled with hurt, sadness, anger. I can hardly stop sobbing out loud. No positive emotion can possibly get in or out. Even Will Ferrell can't make me laugh.

I looked at a place about a mile and a half from my job today (Ingrid's mother took me before taking Ingrid back to her house). Like yesterday's condo, it's in the basement, costs $165 a week and not a stick of furniture. There's a full kitchen down there but to gain access to it, I'd have to pay extra. The 69 year-old guy renting it could see how sad and broken down I am. He's a kitchen cabinet finisher and is dying of emphysema. I looked at him, watched him wheeze and got more depressed than ever. I looked at him and saw my future- Living alone, gasping for breath after climbing even one flight of stairs and looking at living in a senior center.

I cannot and will not move into a dark, bare room and pay $660 a month to sleep on someone's floor. I already looked at a rooming house two Saturdays ago and the sad Greek guy told me the smallest room, also w/o furniture, started at $600 a month.

I have no options at this point and the clock is ticking louder and louder. When I told Ingrid about the condo falling through, she was completely unmoved. Her apathy to my plight and unwillingness to bend and give me more time enraged me and we got into a yelling match. She threatened to kick me out even sooner than the 25th. When I informed her that was the day before pay day, she gave me one extra day.

After all the sacrifices I made for this family, this is the only concession I can get. Even when I was in the Navy, I was never this terrified. She just doesn't understand that I'm losing everyone and everything, my home, my family, my purpose and identity, my very reason for living.

She cannot reasonably equate what she's doing to me with what she'll experience. She continues playing loud music on her computer and dancing in her chair while saying this will be hard on her. She's not getting thrown out of her home, out of her family. She has to wean herself from only one person she cannot even stand the sight of.

I'm losing everyone, starting with her and my grandson. The family will not support me. No one out there wants to help me. I'm too poor, too old, too this, too that.

My mistake was in openly bragging about getting this condo. That's where I went wrong. Even as I was bragging about what I'd have, I could hear the other shoe whistling through the air, about to drop. I don't even believe that story about the sister coming up from Arizona. It doesn't matter anymore.

What matters is I have no solid leads and nowhere to go, no one to help me. Does that sound like whining? Maybe, to some who are infinitely better off and can afford to scoff at someone's misery, can afford to say, "Buck up, old chum, you'll be OK. Things will look up."

Well, things have 11 days to start looking up and I'm getting no indication that the world will get any kinder, any fairer or any more helpful. On the way back from Emphysema Guy's home, I walked to downtown and tried to get into the Unitarian church where I'd taken those pictures a year ago of their flag display. The front doors were locked. This is the state of the world: I couldn't get into a church on a Sunday less than two hours after their Sunday services to ask for help.

And I know if I made the ultimate capitulation, got down on my hands and knees and begged her with tears streaming down my cheeks it wouldn't earn me even another day much less a last chance. I am not worthy of pity, mercy, support, love or cooperation. The world only cares about what little I can give in the way of money.

It's always been that way but now it's even hard core than ever. Somewhere between that old dying guy's house and the church is a local cemetery. It's the oldest one in town and you never see anyone there ever because no one alive today remembers those who are buried there. Once in a while, you'll see a flag next to a chipped or tilting headstone here and there but never any mourners.

I saw what lay in store for me even beyond Emphysema Guy. A neglected headstone next to a highway, without anyone caring enough to even right it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...


Actual series of emails over the last few minutes with the guy who showed me the condo today:
HI ROB,I'M SORRY BUT SOME THING HAS COME UP.MY GIRLFRIEND JUST INFORMED THAT HER SISTER FROM ARIZONA WANTS TO COME UP TO VISIT AND IS PLANING ON STAYING IN THE CONDO FOR THE FIRST 3 WEEKS IN MAY.IF THINGS GHANGE I'LL LET YOU KNOW.ONCE AGAIN I'M SORRY.NELS

HI ROB,LIKE I SAID I'M SORRYII'M NOT GOING TO GET IN A BIG THING WITH FAMILY OVER THIS.ONCE AGAIN I'M SORRY BUT IT JUST ISNT WORTH THE PROBLEMS.NELS

ROB LOOK I CANT EVEN SAY IF IT WILL EVEN BE AVAILABLE HER SISTERS HUSBAND LOST HIS JOB AND THEY MAY EVEN STAY.I DONT WANT TO LEAVE CYOU HANGING SO I THINK YOU BETTER LOOK ELSE WARE LIKE I SAID I'M NOT GOING TO GET INTO A BIG THING ITS HER CONDO ..NELS

I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew it couldn't be this easy. What would he have done if I'd given him the money and gotten the keys today?

This is how quickly a human life can disintegrate. Now what the fuck am I gonna do? Deals like this just don't drop in your lap every day. I can't live in a fucking rooming house. I just can't.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Weed


Actual quote from a Craigslist singles' ad: "I am looking for a strong christian man who... has a strong bong with the LORD."

Now, that's a religion I can get behind! Hallelujah!

Lately, I've been living on Craigslist even more than Blogger.com on account of my feverish activity in trying to secure housing. However, now that that crisis has apparently passed, I can peruse the other classifieds to look for stuff that I can get for cheap and to laugh at the pathetic singles' ads these people place.

Some of the sleaziest psychopaths on earth post singles' ads on CL. Guys pretending to be women, women who insist on hearing only from guys within nine months of their age group, asking for "discretion", insisting on there being no sex... and those are the saner ones who post for longterm relationships. You should see the "Casual Encounters" and "Miscellaneous Romance" ads. The "Missed Opportunities" ones are positively pathetic.

And, from what I'm hearing from the people who post replies, all Craigslist is these days is just a magnet for spambots who generate these emails designed to do nothing more than to get people to register at the same dating site (They all tend to end with the phrase, "GO STEELERS!!!" So I'm assuming they're all from Pittsburgh.).

Seriously, I could make a weekly series out of just the more insane singles' ads that I see on Craigslist. Who'd be up for that?

Moving Day


This is roughly all the packing I have to look forward to between now and the end of the month.

I just got back from looking at my next place. It's a two bedroom condo with a full bath, small kitchen/breakfast nook, livingroom. Electricity is $25 or so a month, the rent $500 per month. Central electric heat is free and paid for by the condo association. It's fully furnished and I can keep whatever I want down to the dishes (I think I'll buy all new stuff). The kids' room even has a working stereo that I can keep.

It's affordable, the bike trail out back is a perfect, manmade shortcut that leads me literally to my job and it's an even shorter walk than the one I have now. There's a small back yard of sorts where the condo owners occasionally have cookouts and get togethers during the warmer months. There are no hidden condo fees, they're not even thinking of selling and the rent won't go up for a long time. The fucking place even has a basic cable hookup that no one, ahem, is paying for.

All I need is a telephone/internet hookup (and Comcast in my area charges $50 a month after the $30 hookup fee), a few sheets, towels and dishes and I'll be ready to rock and roll.

The place is filthy right now but the guy promises to clean it up before the end of the month. I'm planning on moving during the weekend of the 27-29th and officially the clock won't start ticking until April 1st, the day President Obama's tax cut goes into effect, so that extra few bucks will help.

This is doable both logistically and financially. Ironically, it would be a much more appropriate place for Gavin and his parents to live in than for me. Even on their budget, it's affordable. A buck and a quarter for a two bedroom condo with a full kitchen, bath and living room, fully furnished? Last week I saw a tiny unfurnished room in a flophouse that went for $600 a month.

Short of keeping my family and home, this is absolutely the best possible outcome. So JP is landing fairly well. All I have to do is hope my boss keeps paying his bills and keeps the doors open. And, with this economic climate, I'm keeping my fingers crossed until they go numb.

I'll be taking pictures on my cell phone and I'll give ya'll a virtual tour after I get settled in. So if any of my readers live near here or are in the area and you need a place to crash, I'll have a spare room and two extra beds waiting for you.

The Great GOP Steele Strike of 2009


How pathetic is it that the guy in the GOP who's making the most sense these days is Michael Steele, a guy who last week came out and said that abortion is a woman's personal choice and that homosexuality is (gasp!) something that isn't?

For good measure, the former Maryland Lt. Gov. and newly-elected RNC chairman also took potshots at Rush Limbaugh, calling his radio show "ugly" and "incendiary." Predictably, there are some in the GOP bunker who are calling for his ouster because he's not toeing the line and being a good general in spite of Steele capitulating and dutifully groveling to his de facto head exactly 51 minutes later.

It's always risky to paint an entire political party and its constituents with a broad brush and denounce them as stupid. Yet it's getting increasingly difficult to refrain from making such sweeping conclusions when the GOP is more deferential to Rush Limbaugh, a thrice-divorced sex tourist, then they are the President of the United States. It's also getting tougher and tougher to be fair to a party that in the last two elections has lost 51 seats in the House, 17 in the Senate, plus the White House.

The American people finally woke up and realized that the GOP has still never gotten out of 2002, when Tom DeLay was at the height of his power and 9/11 was still fresh in the minds of anxious Americans who rallied around George W. Bush and allowed him to rah rah, sis boom bah us all the way to Baghdad.

The housing crisis was beyond the horizon, no could've predicted the stock market would collapse like a Murray Energy coal mine and no one saw an unemployment rate that would bid fair to exceed 10%. Tax cuts and deregulation were the way to go and no one paid any attention to historical precedent that tells us without a shadow of a doubt that the Great Depression and every economic recession in American history was overseen by a Republican administration, that deregulation will inevitably lead to rack and ruin for working class families.

Fast foward six years in the future and the Republican Party has gotten no further than they were in 2002. Tax cuts and deregulation are still the answer to everything. After spending over a trillion dollars in Iraq alone, after pumping hundreds of billions down the throats of lazy, corrupt war profiteers in that country, after spending hundreds of billions more in Afghanistan, they were last month balking to a man at a stimulus bill that they thought they could semantically derail by calling it a "spending bill."

As if modest government regulation, intervention and spending to stimulate the economy are reckless, experimental ideas. Read your American history. Read about the New Deal and the benchmark set by FDR 75 years ago during his first 100 days. While you're at it, crack open a Bartlett's and look up the old adage, "You have to spend money to make money." It's tempting to indulge in schadenfreude and maybe the more conscientious of us would were it not for the fact that our country is collapsing around our ears and is dragging parts of the world down with it. All the Gotcha! moments in the world may be transitory fun fodder for political bloggers but will do nothing in the way of saving our homes, jobs, 401(k) plans, infrastructure or savings and our new President would be the first one to say that.

President Obama, while he may be lagging behind FDR in terms of sheer, progressive legislation and executive orders, has nonetheless energetically begun to restore the rule of law and some nonfaith-based common sense regarding the role of government in the private sector. In short, the President and his subordinates are reassuring a jittery country that there are still some sane people left who can run our government and they're taking some pragmatic, if cautious steps toward righting the ship of state.

But tell that to the Republican Party, who have nothing to offer but sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming, "La la la! Abortion! La la la! Homosexuals! La la la! Socialism! La la la!"

They don't even deserve to sit at the kiddie table where they're still within earshot of the adults. If there was ever a valid argument for one-party rule in our government, the Republican Party is giving it to us on a silver platter.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Caption Contest


The rest of us say, "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." Republicans...?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cheney's "Executive Assassination Ring."


"It’s complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. It’s a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces you’ve heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized.

"In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America.
" - Seymour Hersh

In my novel, American Zen, the protagonist Mike Flannigan says, "There's an old saying in journalistic circles: If Seymour Hersh didn't know about it, it never happened." Mike was responding to the news that his old friend Billy Frazee, a former Navy SEAL, was doing just this in a certain country in which we didn't belong in 1981.

Billy's story was very similar to mine and I admittedly took a bit of a risk in writing about my exploits just on the astronomical odds some publisher would actually take a chance on it.

Well, it appears as if Hersh does know something. Different president, different time but same old shit. And probably in the same corner of the world.

Hersh's compassionate attitude towards those who'd once carried the long rifle and doing what they at the time thought was best are very much appreciated by me and, I'm sure, others who had been made to do these things. The special forces, including the SEALs, are very good at pushing your buttons, whatever they may be. For some, it's national security and patriotism. For others, it's xenophobia, racism, whatever. Everyone's got buttons that enable them to do what would be unthinkable in their civilian world. Before Hersh, no one had ever said this on our behalf.

But the collateral deaths and the occasional "Oops" moments that the CIA have begin to erode at your psyche because you're the one taking the shot because they didn't pancake the mission in time.

In the meantime, you don't know whether to feel guilt or pride for what you did or even what, exactly, you did. All you know is how you did it and why. Maybe you can take some pride in that, if not for what you actually did.

These psychological factors are never thought about at Langley, obviously, much less at the OVPOTUS, especially if the bottled spider occupying it happens to be Dick fucking Cheney. For Cheney, the Cold War never ended even after the Soviet Union fell and took most of Eastern Europe with it. Operation Phoenix, the assassination program the US military implemented during Vietnam (help me out here, Stevie) was axed by Congress in '76. No doubt it was beginning to sound to Congress a bit too much like Pinochet's Operation Condor, which pulled the same shit, only in Latin America (and Embassy Row that very same year).

In my case, the M14's range and power made it seem, mercifully, less real than it was. It's like a video game. You hear the crack of the NATO 7.62 mm round as it screams out of the muzzle at 2800 feet per second, the sharp butt against your shoulder. Then the target is gone from your crosshairs, all your guilt, if any, shared by no one other than your spotter. You have to remind yourself even after your debriefing of what you did. Or, you don't have to, if that's easier.

Of course, all of that is lost on geniuses like Cheney and the empty suits at Langley who throw darts at pictures on walls and decide who gets to live and who has to die. Operation Phoenix never died. All Congress did was force the CIA further underground and to be more resourceful. All they did was divert their funding from other programs and get the SEALs to do their dirty work for them so they'd technically stay within the letter of the law and to not engage in state-sponsored assassinations.

In my day, we were offing guys before they'd even had a chance to do anything, Cheney's 1% Doctrine already being taken out for a test spin. It was the real-life version of Minority Report, except in that movie people were only getting arrested and charged with crimes they'd yet to commit. They weren't getting executed.

Cheney, if Hersh's usually impeccable sources are to be trusted, apparently never gave a rat's ass about what was legal or illegal even in a technical sense. They never stop to think of the psychological aftermath that we're left to deal with. Hersh wrote in "The Redirection" that he was funneling through the OVPOTUS slush funds to three Sunni insurgent groups into Iran and other countries in order to sow discord among Sunnis and Shiites.

Instigated civil war. False flag ops that deliberately put Navy SEALs in harm's way. Bogus claims of nukes, alleged harassment on the high seas a la the Gulf of Tonkin. Anything to start another illegal war with another Muslim Gulf country.

Cheney's a supremely evil homunculus, the very embodiment of Shakespeare's "bottled spider" that described Richard III. I don't hold out any hope that Sy Hersh's book will result in people reaching for their pitchforks and torches and descending on Cheney's mansion paid for with blood money.

But I can hold out hope, can't I? And, maybe, hope that Hersh finds out about what we did on Ronnie Raygun's behalf back in my day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Assclowns of the Week #75 ½: Praise the Lord and Pass the Watermelons and Teabags Edition


(I was working on this a week/week and a half ago until things started going south around here. Originally Assclowns of the Week #76, it was supposed to take up the usual ten spots but I just haven’t had the heart to finish it. But it’s still too good not to share with my dozens of regular readers.)

Some people march to the tune of a drum. Republicans march to a calliope. And this past week, we’ve seen an alarming uptick in the threats of violence, rebellion and racism from the seedier side of the tracks barely more than a month into the new Obama administration. This week, we’ve seen a CPAC conference in which children spout Republican talking points; a city mayor sending out racist depictions of the White House; We’ve seen a latter-day Boston Tea Party put together to protest the stimulus package; We’ve seen Glenn Beck and Rick Santorelli exhorting others to engage in treason and sedition.

And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Bobby Jindal’s heroic posture during the Katrina crisis was all a lie. Oh, boo hoo, what a world!

So let’s harvest them watermelons, leek those tea bags and gear ourselves up for a second Civil War with a laugh track as we review this bumper crop of assclowns and much, much more!

5) Los Alamitos Mayor Dean Grose



You have to admit, it’s pretty fucking stupid to send out a picture of a White House with a watermelon patch to anybody. It’s even twice as stupid to send it to an African American. It’s three times as stupid to then try to claim that one is unaware of the centuries-old stereotype of African Americans liking watermelon (which would render redundant sending out the email and to a black person in the first place).

Keyanus Price, a businesswoman and volunteer, was stunned when she got the picture at the head of this post from Dean Grose, the mayor of Los Alamitos, CA. The furor over the email was so unexpectedly fierce that Grose decided last Friday to resign his post.

When you think about it, this was almost as hilarious as fired GOP official Carol Carter who, late last month forwarded to her colleagues the following email:
From: Carol Carter
Friday, January 30, 9:30 AM
Subject: FW: Amazing!
I’m confused
How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn’t get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?
Carol Carter

African American blogger Steve Barnes has some advice for the GOP: “My Conservative Republican friends: you have GOT to speak up about this, or lose your party. Right now, if is looking like your Big Tent is made out of a white sheet.”

4) Republican Revolutionaries



Just what we need: Another definition for teabagging. I appreciate the offer for testicular tenderness, guys, but I think I’ll pass.

Last Friday, the Not So Mighty Republican Wurlitzer held a little party in Washington, DC. It attracted all of about 100 people but, as we all know, everything great begins humbly. It was supposed to be the Boston Tea Party II that’s supposed to herald the Civil War II that’s supposed to, er, herald the Revolutionary War II.

But what they lacked in quantity they more than made for in quality. The Freepers were there! Michelle Malkin was there! And, best of all, fresh from a whirlwind bookselling gig that sold a whopping five copies, they even had Joe the Plumber! Huzzah and fuck taxation with and without representation.

Forget the fact that the original Boston Tea Party started because of tax cuts (the British cutting taxes on tea imports, thereby undercutting American tea merchants). And who do we have to blame for this tiny knot of resistance? Rick Santorelli, who in a hysterical tirade of the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, called on CNBC for a second Tea Party in spite of having no other reason but a blind panic to resist the stimulus package that will only benefit their states and communities.

3) Glenn Beck



“I regret I (gasp) that I had but one… well, actually, I never gave anything for my country!

Glenn Beck ought to be glad that we repealed the Sedition Act of 1918.

Last Monday, Beck gave us three worst-case scenarios. This is the first one:
Let's look at our first scenario. It's the financial meltdown. The year is 2014.

All the U.S. banks have been nationalized. Unemployment is about between 12 percent and 20 percent. Dow is trading at 2,800. The real estate market has collapsed. Government and unions control most of the business, and America's credit rating has been downgraded.

That's the first scenario.

Of course, the implication is that all this will be Obama’s fault, not that of the anti-regulation idiot who once suggested less than a month after 9/11 that tax rebates would be our best way to bounce back from the terrorist attacks.

The other two scenarios aren’t much brighter.

So Beck’s answer is armed insurrection. Yeppers. Where tax cuts fail, the second amendment and insurrection will save the Red Dawn. And these people wonder why their presence on Capitol Hill is shrinking with every election. Doesn’t sound to me as if Republicans are listening to the voice of the majority.

2) CPAC



Every year, CPAC looks less like a national conservative convention and more like a DSM IV come to life. It’s a loving, conservatively compassionate final look at all those who have either already faded into irrelevance, are about to or who most certainly deserve to. One must cringe for the mental health of Poor Max Blumenthal of The Nation during his annual pilgrimage behind enemy lines in the Omni Hotel.

This year CPAC hit a new nadir when they invited and got Joe “General Patton” the Plumber, whose most substantial suggestion for national recovery was to slap then shoot certain members of Congress. The high point came when they brought up a thirteen year-old boy to explain Republican values to them. That’s right, a kid who won’t even be able to vote against Obama in 2012 is now giving them their marching orders.

Midterms next year? What, me worry?

1) LA Gov. Bobby Jindal



My God, what is the world coming to when one cannot even believe and trust Republicans?

Last Tuesday night, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal provided the Republican response (for want of a better word) to President Obama’s speech to Congress. In it, he told a heartwarming story of self-heroism in which he stood shoulder to shoulder with the late Sheriff Harry Lee and fought for the citizens of New Orleans. On the face of it, it didn’t sound very heroic because Jindal claimed he was inside Lee’s office and didn’t seem to get more involved than to say, “That’s ridiculous.” Still, even for a Republican, especially one that never enlisted, that’s about as close as one can get to heroism.

Turns out that Jindal’s fleeting brush with heroism was a pile o’ shit. After skeptical examination by liberal bloggers, a Jindal spokesperson gave Ben Smith at Politico a “clarification.” Turns out no one remembers then-Congressman Jindal being anywhere near the area and his recollection of the conversation in which Sheriff Lee battled bureaucracy was third-hand, at best.

But hey, being in proximity of heroes rubs off, doncha know?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Top Ten Conservative Books of All Time


Earlier this year, Conservative Justin Quinn on About.com posted his list of the top ten conservative books that are indispensable to the novice conservative who isn't at all self-conscious about being so cynical at such a tender age.

In Quinn's list are predictable picks, such as Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative and Bernie Goldberg's Bias. Amazingly, other conservative classics such as Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged never made the grade. Either that, or Mr. Quinn decided that such shockingly brilliant and irrefutable masterpieces of conservative thought have transcended a mere "Top Ten Greatest" list and to join the works of Shakespeare, Milton and Danielle Steele (No relation to Michael).

However, all things being relative, I think it is incumbent upon everyone of all political stripes, from neoconservatives to moderate conservatives, to draw up their own list of the top ten conservative tomes of all time. And it's notable that, while Mr. Quinn also bypassed such worthy candidates such as Sean Hannity's Deliver Us From Evil, Jerome Corsi's Obama Nation and Ann Coulter's Treason, he showed a shocking lack of imagination by not including, as with the worthy Ms. Rand's canon, any fiction.

So here's my list that includes both fiction and non-fiction. Please do not note that this is a companion piece inspired by Jon Swift's 10 Best Conservative Movies. This isn't about movies.

  • 10) The Island of Dr. Moreau

  • This classic book is a cautionary tale as to the dangers of animal/human hybrids we were so passionately warned about by George W. Bush in a State of the Union Address. It is also, in its subtle way, a wise warning regarding what would happen if PETA were to run amuck with billions in government bailout money.

    H. G. Wells' central messages, obviously, are that science and scientists such as evolutionists, anthropologists and stem cell researchers are inherently evil and that the animal kingdom and any human foolish enough to reunite with nature must be defeated at all costs. With such a brilliant commentary on science and the uppityness of the animal kingdom, one immediately forgives the hedonistic Wells and his liberal calls for free love.

  • 9) Confessions of an Economic Hitman

  • Part spy thriller, partly a joyous paean to Ayn Rand's vision of unrestrained capitalism come to hideous fruition, John Perkins' publisher perfectly captures the essence of this latter-day classic by commissioning cover art that depicts an American bald eagle shitting on the rest of the planet.

    Was it reckless and even treasonous for Perkins, a free market sniper, to reveal how the United States had achieved such economic domination over the planet Earth? Perhaps. But then again, Perkins felt free to reveal such secrets because he innately knew that, even on the information superhighway, the earth's inhabitants will always be either powerless pawns or gullible naifs against the awesome and unstoppable juggernauts of multinational corporations and globalization.

  • 8) The Bible

  • Not for the liberal faint of heart, the Bible is fiction to heathen leftists and nonfiction to right-thinking, God-fearing conservatives such as Fred Phelps and Mr. Adkisson. As we all know, the Bible and the word of God has a conservative bias, as is only right.

    And real practitioners of the Bible, such as Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert, regularly venture back and forth from the evils of homosexuality and adultery to inform us of these evils while eshewing the turn-the-other-cheek bullshit New Testament, which was obviously a Christly sop thrown by King James to liberals, explaining its brevity compared to the gory, murderous Old Testament. Fortunately, today's leading evangelicals are smart enough to pretend that the pacifistic, anti Free Market Christ never existed.

  • 7) Brave New World

  • Huxley's vision of a dystopian future, while viewed by some as on a par with Orwell's 1984, gives us a horrifying glimpse of how chaotic human society would be were it not for a rigid, genetically-engineered caste system. In fact, Huxley's Calvinistic masterpiece not only does away with abusive fathers and welfare mothers, just to be safe, he does away with the very concept of the family, the building block of the human race as well as the concept of abortion.

    There are still thorny problems such as children playing games like Hunt the Zipper and promiscuity actually being a status symbol. But the two pulp figures depicted above, presumably Survivor's Richard Hatch and Jane Russell, run away from it all and they got theirs when they were eaten by New Mexico Indians or other genetically-imperfect savages. So obviously, this is also a morality tale.

  • 6) The Anarchist Cookbook

  • We all know that government becomes the enemy the minute it decides things in a way that doesn't make a particular person happy. Fortunately, there's still William Powell's The Anarchist Cookbook, which has been ingeniously disguised as a liberal chestnut purportedly written by a teenaged hippie who was scared shitless about getting sent to Vietnam.

    Powell's instruction manual for insurrection, which devotees such as Fred Phelps refer to as The Antichrist Cookbook, actually gives today's most passionate conservatives a starting point for defeating the government that is hell-bent to deliver us from anarchy. With such recipes for mayhem such as the making of bombs and other ways to become a minor irritant to the federal government, it was very savvy for an older, wiser Powell to disavow his classic so its revolutionary riches wouldn't be exploited by liberals, thereby remaining solely in the hands of real patriots such as Hal Turner and the late Timothy McVeigh.

  • 5) Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • The book that started the Civil War and also waged war on pro-slavery Democrats, this book celebrates a free market agrarian economy in the good old antebellum days when white people were white and proud of it and black people like Topsy cheerfully acknowledged their place and lot in life. Unlike today, they had regular employment and, Dred Scott aside, were damned grateful for it.

    Now that the Civil War II is gearing up and since we have Abraham Lincoln's reincarnation in the White House, we need another conservative book as that necessary spark to stir southern passions. I nominate this book by Byron York, one that uncovered yet another Democrat conspiracy that sought to enslave conservatives that had nonetheless risen above its persecuted status and, without media help, seized control of all three branches of government within this very decade.

  • 4) Johnny Got His Gun

  • Disguised all these years as a pacifist masterpiece allegedly written for leftists, Dalton Trumbo's actual message still reverberates to this day even beyond the Walter Reed Army Hospital scandal: That wounded soldiers ought to be seen and not heard. Don't forget, the book gets its title from a pro-war jingle from WWI, "Johnny Get Your Gun."

    The Johnny in this book is actually someone named Joe and after having lost both arms, legs and jaws, his eyes, ears and nose, Johnny is comforted by a nurse and cannot engage in liberal propaganda like Ron Kovic, who foolishly wrote an introduction to a reprint. Instead, Johnny/Joe Bonham lays in bed happily daydreaming about the peaceful but boring life he used to have, no doubt consumed with frustration that he didn't have four arms, four legs, four eyes, four jaws, four ears and another nose to give for his country.

  • 3) Green Eggs and Ham


  • Dr. Seuss's classic indoctrinates children to the universal truth that diversity is counterproductive unless it is separated from mainstream society. The protagonist in this childrens' chestnut, Sam (as in Uncle Sam?), is obviously the personification of a lax Clinton-era Food and Drug Administration that no doubt would've allowed green food and perhaps even illegal, cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals into our country if allowed.

    Throughout all sorts of scenarios and venues involving planes, trains and what have you, our hero steadfastly refuses to partake of the green eggs and ham, a concept as ridiculous and unsettling as interracial and gay marriage. Seuss in reality had written a different ending that involved him eventually outing Sam to the proper authorities. But his liberal publisher changed it so that our hero capitulated like a latter-day Democrat to George W. Bush.

  • 2) The Devil's Dictionary

  • If a misanthrope can be defined as a promising Republican, then Bierce's masterwork certainly fits the bill. A deeply flawed book that takes pot shots at Free Market capitalism (Corporation, n. An ingenious device whereby individual profit is obtained without individual responsibility) as well as at conservatives, Bierce nonetheless displays enough of a conservative bias so that his lexicon deserves inclusion on this list.

    Fortunately for today's liberals, Bierce disappeared in 1913 while experiencing a long-delayed midlife crisis by riding with Pancho Villa. Otherwise Bierce's inveighing about the evils of gluttony and pork consumption would've perfectly applied to the likes of Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin.

  • 1) 1984

  • The ultimate triumph in speculative fiction about man's ultimate political and social triumph, Orwell's masterpiece is a celebration of the concepts of frigidity (Jane Russell makes yet another misleading, market-driven cameo on the cover but don't be fooled by her seductiveness. Note the "Anti-Sex" button over her ample right breast) and evils of the fourth amendment. The book's villain, Winston Smith, admirably starts out as a revisionist historian for the precursor of Fox News but later is seized with ridiculous notions such as free thought and freer sex with Julia. Later, in a hilarious fit of projection, Smith convinces himself and the impressionable Julia that Big Brother is really the villain!

    The book brims with infectious optimism about Big Brother's ambitious and always-exceeded Five Year Plans. The answers to today's untidy civil unrest are laid out by Orwell in the form of a Thought Police and constant surveillance by the Inner Party. Conservatives through the decades have made some serious inroads to realizing Orwell's initiatives but, alas, our law enforcement is still, as yet, unable to read the minds of dissidents.

    As proof that Smith is the villain and not the hero or antihero, he gets nabbed by O'Brien, who then treats him to some good old fashioned enhanced interrogation techniques that, of course, prove efficacious. The cowardly Smith gives up Julia rather than have his face eaten by rats and, with the help of lots and lots of Victory gin, he eventually grows to love Big Brother again as he ought. Orwell's utopia will, sadly, remain a work of fiction, as humans stubbornly sow the seeds of their own destruction in spite of the best efforts of capable men like Bush and Cheney (If you are not dead, it's because Bush and Cheney kept you alive. No, we don't have to prove it. Just take it as an article of faith).

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    The Unsilent Minority


    While running for president in 1968, Richard M. Nixon, through his speechwriter Pat Buchanan, famously coined the phrase "the silent majority." History doesn't confirm or deny whether the silent majority existed or not but one thing is clear: Hubert Humphrey, the only man left standing on the left after Bobby Kennedy's assassination and Eugene McCarthy's fade to black, almost overtook Nixon and his so-called silent majority when the vice president finally broke with LBJ's policies in Vietnam in a speech in Utah.

    It could be said that Barack Obama won the presidency as much through disaffection with Republican policies as honest affection from his supporters. This is exactly how Richard Nixon won the presidency by a razor-thin margin. Nixon was a more than good enough professional politician to see and exploit the Democratic Party's implosion at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. So, in a way, it's only fitting that the table was turned when a Chicago-based senator won his own quixotic quest for the White House and held his victory speech in the same Grant Park where anti-war protesters were mercilessly beaten by police 40 years earlier.

    History being cyclical if nothing else, we've witnessed the GOP's own implosion brought about in part by its own disastrous war policies. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy cheerfully chronicled by the liberal blogosphere. Republicans starting with Rush Limbaugh have shamelessly called for Obama's failure even before he was inaugurated without once considering that wishing for our new president to fail in the greatest collective crisis in our nation's history is to wish for America to fail.

    Unfortunately for the Republican party, this unsilent minority, most of America wants him, and America, to succeed. A recent WSJ/NBC poll reveals that President Obama's personal approval rating is close to 70% while his policies get a more tepid but still-impressive 60%. The GOP's hold on Congress had completely evaporated and their presence on Capitol Hill and grip on the White House had disappeared over two successive elections.

    They are so bereft of a leader that they're eating their own, launching an offensive on their own newly-elected leader, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, when he grew some backbone for all of 51 minutes and called Rush Limbaugh an "entertainer" whose show was "incendiary" and "ugly." The very fact that the GOP would eat their own to defend Limbaugh conclusively shows that they have made him their de facto leader because their own elected ranks have been decimated to the brink of irrelevance. The best shock troops they can offer are disgraced figures of the past such as Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich. And, of course, Rush Limbaugh.

    William Rivers Pitt said that Barack Obama and his administration no longer have to make Rush Limbaugh the official poster child for the GOP. The GOP is doing that whether or not they intend to. Rush Limbaugh, a man who mocked the 13 year-old First Daughter, a celebrity with Parkinson's and African Americans and Native Americans too many times to count, will prove to be the GOP's albatross. As with George W. Bush these past four years, the Republican Party is in a Brokeback Mountain relationship with Limbaugh- They're simultaneously trying to break with him and run to him.

    And if making a stereotypical Republican, an overweight, cigar-sucking, thrice-divorced, morally-palsied, racist Caucasian hypocrite their standard bearer is the GOP's aim, I sincerely hope they succeed.

    The Ultimate Caption Contest


    The DNC is putting up a billboard in Rush Limbaugh's hometown of West Palm Beach, Fl. They need a caption of ten words or less and they're taking submissions here.

    The winning entry will get a tee shirt with their slogan on it. Yeah, "I insulted Rush Limbaugh and all I got was this lousy tee shirt."

    It's tough coming up with a slogan when you don't even know what picture they'll use but if you go to the DNC's website and make a submission, share it with the rest of the class. Mine is "Let's Give Rush's Bums the Bum's Rush."

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    William Rivers Pitt: The Laugher Curve


    (Click on title for Pitt's article)

    Some weeks ago, I penned an article titled "Dump the GOP," which argued in part, "President Obama can work with the Democratic congressional majorities to pass future legislation, perhaps making sure to get one GOP vote in the Senate to thwart a filibuster. If no such vote is forthcoming, he can dump any quixotic quest for one or any GOP votes and dare the GOP to filibuster widely popular bills. He's not going to get GOP support for anything, so why bother trying? Let them keep it up and lose every time, and let them try to stand on that record for the 2010 midterms."

    It appears my advice in this matter was a tad premature. President Obama does not have to dump the GOP, for it appears quite evident they are doing just fine dumping themselves without any help from the administration...


    Pitt's got a point. The Republican Party is the Barney Fife of politics. Give them only one bullet and they will always shoot themselves in the foot with it. They're listening not to their president but an Oxycontin-addled, pill-popping sex tourist who does a crappy radio show out of his Florida home. The Obama administration doesn't need to make Limbaugh the official mascot of the GOP. He already is their latter-day elephant, an America-hating racist and misogynist who stands for everything the latter-day Republican party stands for.

    Caption Contest


    Behold the power of Koolaid. That's all I got. What about you?

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Take Your Shots, Max


    The Nation's Max Blumenthal is a national treasure. Despite every year revealing the GOP attendees at CPAC for the asshats they truly are, he keeps getting in the following year. How he can spend so much time around Republicans without contracting a horribly lingering and withering communicable disease is a mystery for the ages.

    This time around, the always-reliable Max outdid himself and struck comedy gold when he ran into smalltime right wing hate radio host John "Cecil B" Ziegler. Ziegler completely loses it when he sees Blumenthal (the backstory for this is right here but it involved Ziegler's ignored documentary on how and why Blumenthal scuttled The Path to 9/11, despite the fact that it was aired on ABC over the lefty blogosphere's most strenuous objections).

    (H/t to Crooks and Liars.)

    Let's Judge This Book by Its Cover


    What you see here is an actual photograph taken of a Coral Gables, FL Barnes & Noble storefront. Some customer who fancied himself a wag stuck in the middle of the Obama book display a book with a chimp on the cover. Neither the chain nor the store management had absolutely anything to do with this. So, Reverend Al, call off your dogs.

    But it only goes to show you that idiotic stereotypes die hard, especially south of the Mason Dixon line. It ought to be noted that the book about simians that was inserted by this customer into a display meant to honor President Obama's historic inauguration didn't receive a complaint for days.

    More details can be found at The Defenders Online's official website.

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    Michael Collins: The Susan Lindauer Interview.


    Collins: Ultimately, did Libya or Iraq provide any intelligence regarding the attack?

    Lindauer: No, they did not. After the attack, it became clear that neither country could have been party to the conspiracy. Gadhaffi and bin Laden hated each other. Back in 1995, Libya was the first country in the world to warn Interpol about Osama, and urge an international warrant for his arrest. Saddam's government hated him, too. Baghdad considered Osama's extreme brand of Sunni fundamentalism to pose a serious destabilizing threat to Iraq 's moderate Sunni elite. Osama was a wrecking ball to Arab governments. They all despised him.

    In fact, we pushed Iraq so hard for intelligence in the months before 9/11 that afterwards Iraqi diplomats aggressively challenged our U.S. claims of ignorance. A couple of diplomats put it to me bluntly: "Obviously you knew it was coming, because you kept telling us about it. So why didn't you stop it? Why didn't you do something before this, instead of blaming us now. You should be blaming yourselves."


    Lindauer's talking. Collins is listening. If you read only one thing tonight, read this lengthy extract of an interview conducted by Michael Collins, the first one to which Lindauer has consented since the government dropped all charges against her five days before Bush left office.

    It'll blow your mind. You want to know who really masterminded Lockerbie? Click the link. You want to know what the connection was between Lockerbie and September 11th? Click the link. And, as the above extract reveals, Lindauer further strengthens the case that Iraq had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, even to the point of having no prior knowledge.

    C'mon, why are you still reading me? Click on the link. We've ignored this lady long enough.

    All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
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  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
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  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
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  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
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  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
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  • #19
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  • Empire Of The Senseless.
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