Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pssst, Mr. President, You're Building the Wrong Nation


(Image courtesy Liberal Vision. Click for expanded view.)

Maybe we should all move to Afghanistan. At least that's one country Obama is interested in rebuilding.

Bob Herbert of the NY Times reminds us in his usual understated way of the failings of the Obama administration. And with so much that's wrong with our country, with so much at risk, perhaps it would behoove us to be querulous and see the glass as half empty. It's getting more and more tempting to resurrect that old HW Bush bumper sticker and whisper it in the current President's ear from time to time: "It's the economy, stupid!"

An even guiltier pleasure is to appropriate for our own means and our own reasons Sarah Palin's sing-songy, head cheerleader bitch-like, "How's that hopey, changie thing working out fer ya?" Indeed, when one remembers how Obama got elected in November 2008, on a platform that was entirely supported on a mantra of hope and change, it's hard to see where the change is (and, please, no cheap and obvious puns about pocket change).

When one recalls that Obama had based his sartorial and initially quixotic presidential campaign as an antidote to the preceding eight years that were the most ruinous in living memory and at the lack of change that's actually taken place in the first 17+ months of his presidency, one sees yet another political opportunist, a man who saw his small window of opportunity and dove through it with the adroitness of an acrobat.

But one has to squint harder than a nerd at an optometrist's office to see where the change is. The health care reform bill, on which the Obama administration had foolishly staked much of its domestic policy capital, is a massive giveaway to the HMO's and Big Pharma. The other major domestic "accomplishment", the financial "reform" bill, is another massive giveaway that refuses to close some very lucrative loopholes for the banks that helped get us into this economic quagmire.

Meanwhile, a jobs creation bill has been hijacked in Congress under the tyranny of the minority Republican Party, and there's fading hope of Congress, before its summer recess at the end of the week, voting on much less passing a standalone bill that will extend unemployment benefits to the unemployed until the end of November 2010.

But the only time the President is moved to tell Congress to get off its ass is when he wants another insider or crony installed or to pass another massive corporate welfare bill. No such exhortations are heard from the conditionally hands-off executive branch when it comes to job creation or extending UI and COBRA benefits.

Corporations setting up their shingles abroad and taking all the manufacturing jobs with them are still given huge tax subsidies and breaks, 67% of our corporations pay no income tax at all and murderous corporations like Blackwater and BP are being given one free pass and huge contract after another while people are being displaced from their homes at the rate of 2.5 million a year. The unemployment rate is holding steady at double digits with no signs of going down soon and the debt ceiling has been raised higher than Bristol Palin's ankles.

When Obama warned us in his inaugural address that our nation's recovery would depend upon shared sacrifice, many Americans who weren't blinded by tea bags dangling from the brims of their Stetsons and ballcaps were willing to do whatever it took and to stand behind our bright, shiny new President, this velvety avatar of change.

Instead, less than a year and a half in, the only shared sacrifice is one collectively shared by working class proles. Corporations and the executives who run them haven't had to sacrifice anything. BP, a foreign oil company, didn't even have to sacrifice even the minimal time it would have taken to write environmental impact statements or even an oil spill plan that wouldn't be widely ridiculed on the internet. The second round of corporate bailouts is owned by Obama, which is to say we own it to the tune of $14 trillion.

But the good news is that Obama isn't insensible to nation-building. While last year's stimulus bill fell far short and didn't meet expectations, Obama is willing to sink hundreds of billions more into Afghanistan, a nation characterized by arid desert and rubble, one ruled by warlords and drug lords like the brother of our puppet, Hamid Karzai. Obama's surge and our COIN strategy is ridiculed by Gen. McCrystal's own staff tasked with implementing it and for some damned good reasons.

Yet we think that throwing money we don't have into a festering money pit like Afghanistan deserves a higher priority than job creation and nation-building here at home.

George W. Bush was the most spectacularly inept, incompetent leader under whom this nation ever suffered. Afghanistan is Obama's stepchild but it has Bush's DNA running through its collapsed veins. Yet while we criticized Bush for essentially forgetting about Afghanistan and keeping troop levels year after year at around 15,000, in retrospect the Bush administration wasn't too crazy about throwing literally tons of money into what was plainly a losing cause (that's what Iraq was for).

And spending decades and trillions of dollars into rebuilding a national infrastructure after having already blown a trillion and nearly a decade to that end with no discernible result before actually rebuilding the government is something even a high school social studies student would nowadays call "whacked."

Bob Herbert reminds us:
By nearly 2 to 1, respondents to the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll believed the United States is on the wrong track. Despite the yelping and destructive machinations of the deficit hawks, employment and the economy are by far the public’s biggest concern. Mr. Obama is paying dearly for his tin ear on this topic. Fifty-four percent of respondents believed he does not have a clear plan for creating jobs. Only 45 percent approved of his overall handling of the economy, compared with 48 percent who disapproved.

He follows this up with the hopeful but naive sentiment that it's not too late for Obama to turn things around and give us reason to hope again. He will not. It may be true that Obama is hoping to reelected to a second and final term and enact a truly progressive agenda not beholden to corporate interests.

But we elected him to do that now. The man who made a show of eschewing lobbyists and corporate campaign contributions from his campaign had now loaded Washington with the same people who were told to wait at the door, many of them the very same people who helped get us into the aforementioned economic quagmire.

So maybe we all ought to just pack up, go to Afghanistan, burn our passports and hold out our hands to be heard and helped. That tactic seems to work for the Afghanis.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Obama Takes a Mulligan on Blackwater.


From McClatchy:
The security contractor Blackwater Worldwide tried for two years to secure lucrative defense business in Southern Sudan while the country was under U.S. economic sanctions, according to current and former U.S. officials and hundreds of pages of documents reviewed by McClatchy.

The effort to drum up new business in East Africa by Blackwater owner Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL who had close ties with top officials in the George W. Bush White House and the CIA, became a major element in a continuing four-year federal investigation into allegations of sanctions violations, illegal exports and bribery.

The Obama administration, however, has decided for now not to bring criminal charges against Blackwater, according to a U.S. official close to the case.

Instead, the U.S. government and the private military contractor are negotiating a multimillion-dollar fine to settle allegations that Blackwater violated U.S. export control regulations in Sudan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Same old story. Corporation breaks laws, one administration investigates, another decides against pressing charges, everyone settles on a fine that's worth far less than the aggregate wages of the investigated sins, everyone's happy.

Because how embarrassing would it be if we decided to enforce federal law on a crooked contractor to whom we've just given almost a quarter of a billion dollars worth of contracts on top of $200 million more, especially when the $200 million contract to train Afghani security forces became a mere front for a massive gun-running operation?

Bottom line: Four years ago, the Bush administration actually tried to do the right thing and the Obama administration decided to derail four years of hard work for an undisclosed pay off and money keeps changing hands until it falls apart.

What was it that someone said about there being honor among thieves?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Douchebaggery at its Finest: Sarah Palin edition


This is the entirety of Sarah Palin's speech at CSU Stanislaus a couple of days ago. Note how she tries to deflect criticism of herself from the very beginning and even insults the "lamestream media" in attendance for accurately reporting on her contract demands and the possible illegality of the contract that, yes, included demands for bottled water and bendy straws. Now, if you can listen to this entire speech that was delivered in a catty head cheerleader tone of voice without your ears gushing blood (I couldn't get past 1:03 but the transcript is here), pay careful attention to this immediate criticism from that same "lamestream media" that was caught on a live mic:


"Now I know that dumbness doesn't come with just soundbytes."

That pretty much says it all. In a less than perfect world (Hell, I'd settle for one that makes a modicum of sense once in a while), this woman would have a neverending laugh track dogging her every step while she turns tricks on Hollywood Blvd. to keep from starving in her post-political career.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Don't Tase me, Sonny!"


This is my 1000th post here at Welcome Back to Pottersville. Since I started it in early July of 2008, that means I've averaged, even including the occasional hard drive frying and loss of access, over 500 posts a year. It's been a wild ride in this, my third go-round. In posts ranging from the soberly journalistic to the snotty, sarcastic and snarky to the outright abusive, I've helped expose some of the biggest outrages ever posted on the internet. But this one story may perhaps take the cake.

Rather than try to reinterpret this unbelievable outrage and violation of the 4th and 14th amendments, I'll just let the attorney for the plaintiffs do his own talking in the most alarming part of a complaint that was filed on the 21st in Canadian County in Oklahoma:
On or about December 22, 2009 the plaintiff Lona M. Varner was in her apartment at 1955 S. Shepard Ave, Apt. 703, El Reno, Oklahoma, in her hospital-type bed. She was also connected to a portable oxygen concentrator with a long hose.

13.A severe winter storm was moving into the area and Ms. Varner’s grandson, Lonnie D. Tinsley, came to the apartment to check on her at the request of his father, now deceased; because Lona Varner is 86 years-old and in marginal health, she takes several prescribed medications daily; Lonnie’s grandmother was unable to tell him exactly when she had taken her meds, he was concerned and called 911 to ask for an emergency medical technician to come to her apartment to evaluate her.

14.As many as ten El Reno police, John Does Nos. 1 - 10, including Thomas Duran, Frank Tinga, and Joseph Sandberg, came to the apartment and pushed their way through the door. Ms. Varner told them to get out of her apartment. Instead, the apparent leader of the police (Duran) instructed another policeman to “Taser her!” He stated in his report that the 86 year-old plaintiff “took a more aggressive posture in her bed,” and that he was fearful for his safety and the safety of others.

15.Lonnie Tinsley told them, “Don’t taze my Granny!” to which they responded that they would taser him; instead, they pulled him out of her apartment, took him down to the floor, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a police car.

16.The police then proceeded to approach Ms. Varner in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation.

17.The police then fired a taser at her and only one wire struck her, in the left arm; the police then fired a second taser, striking her to the right and left of the midline of her upper chest and applied high voltage, causing burns to her chest, extreme pain and to pass out.

18.The police then grabbed Ms. Varner by her forearms and jerked hands together,causing her soft flesh to tear and bleed on her bed; they then handcuffed her.

19.The police freed Lonnie Tinsley from his incarceration in the back of the police car and permitted him to accompany the ambulance with his grandmother.

20.Lona Varner was transported by paramedics to Parkland Hospital in El Reno where the burns to her chest and the torn flesh on her arms were treated.

21.Ms. Varner was transported in the early morning hours of December 23, 2009 from Parkland to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City where she was placed in the psychiatric ward at the direction of the El Reno police; she was held there for six days and released.

22.As a result of the wrongful arrest and detention, the plaintiff Lona M. Varner suffered the unlawful restraint of her freedom, bodily injury, assault, battery, the trashing of her apartment, humiliation, loss of personal dignity, infliction of emotional distress and medical bills.

23.As a result of the wrongful arrest and detention, Lonnie D. Tinsley suffered the unlawful restraint of his freedom, assault, battery, humiliation, lost of person dignity, negligent infliction of emotional distress by witnessing the physical abuse of his grandmother and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

24.By the actions described above, the defendants deprived the plaintiffs of clearly established and well-settled constitutional rights:
a.Freedom from the deprivation of liberty without due process of law;
b.Freedom from the seizure of theirs persons without due process of the law.

25.The individual defendants subjected the plaintiffs to these deprivations of their rights either maliciously, or by acting with a reckless disregard for whether the plaintiffs’ rights would be violated by their actions.

26.As a direct and proximate result of the acts and omissions of the individual defendants, which were intentional, or done with gross negligence, Lona M. Varner and Lonnie D. Tinsley were forced to endure great pain, mental suffering, fear and humiliation, were deprived of their physical liberty, were forced to incur legal and medical expenses, and suffered personal injury and mental injuries as described above.

You don't need to be fluent in legalese to understand what the plaintiff's attorney is saying here.

Lonnie Tinsley was told by his late father to check up on his grandmother during a bad snowstorm. He calls 911 and asks for paramedics to assess her condition. Instead, at least 10 cops show up, force their way in the house and then tase an 86 year-old, bed-ridden woman in ill health because she told them, understandably, to leave her house.

Then, under the pretense of fearing for their safety, these peace officers then tase the old woman not once but twice, step on her oxygen hose until she began suffering from hypoxia, handcuff the grandson just for saying, "Don't tase my granny!", throw him in the back of a cruiser, then handcuff the old lady, tearing her flesh in the process then stick her in a mental ward for almost a week...

...all because "she showed a more aggressive posture in her bed"???

Believe it or not, this isn't the first time an elderly person, not to mention pregnant women and even the blind, had been tased recently.

So what are we to glean from this incident in Oklahoma last year?

  • That there's no such thing as adequate back up even when a bed-ridden 86 year-old woman hooked up to an oxygen tank is involved.

  • That police officers should always be used in lieu of medical professionals such as paramedics and EMT's who are rigorously trained to assess emerging medical conditions.

  • You can never tase an 86 year-old woman enough times if she resorts to harsh language.

  • Telling the police to leave your house during an inexplicable home invasion is grounds for having your sanity doubted.


  • Lastly: With these big bad police officers tasing little kids, old women, and the handicapped, why do we keep calling our emerging police state a "brave, new world"?

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Don't Worry, America...


    ...Blackwater is here to protect us all, no matter what the cost.

    Triple Canopy and DynCorp International must be getting sick and tired of being the Washington Generals to Erik Prince's globe-trotting thugs in the "bidding" that we've seen going on. Because on the heels of a highly criticized State Department contract that gave $120,000,000 to Blackwater Worldwide for work in Afghanistan comes the news that the CIA just gave these lawless thugs another $100,000,000 to, get this, protect them and their facilities in, once again, Afghanistan.

    So let's take a look at some of the best reasons the CIA had for hiring Blackwater for this latest unofficial no bid contract:

  • On December 30, two brave Blackwater operatives managed to keep the CIA body count down to eight when they let a suicide bomber in their midst at Khost. CIA director Leon Panetta pre-emptively did a Ken Salazar and played the tough sheriff by ordering a review of his agency's contracts with Blackwater. During this time, Panetta privately briefed Congressional leaders to admit the Bush administration misled Congress about Blackwater contracts.

    However, in the last 6 months, I guess they passed review.


  • The very next day, five Blackwater murderers were suddenly absolved of all sin and culpability by Judge Ricardo Urbina for their role in the September 16th 2007 massacre at Nisour Sq. that left 17 innocent Iraqi civilians dead. Thank God they'll be on their best behavior when it comes to innocent Afghani civilians, right? Uh, right?

    Again, they passed muster.


  • Early last month, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, soon to become Dubai's newest war criminal at large, was caught boasting on a tape that his company called in NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan (as well as insulting the people of Afghanistan). It was also revealed since the Obama administration took office that a Cheney-directed CIA/Blackwater assassination ring was put in place though not actually activated.

    Still, CIA spokesman/Blackwater shill Paul Gimigliano told theWa Po that "We have a very careful process when it comes to procurement, and we take it seriously. We've also made it clear that personnel from Xe do not serve with the CIA in any operational roles."

    Such as in Khost and during NATO airstikes and assassination missions and in Najaf, for instance.
  • .

  • Oh, did I mention that Blackwater is already chowing down another $200,000,000 contract to train Afghan security forces?


  • And speaking of training Afghan security forces, did you know that Erik Prince's shell company Paravant actually hung on to a lot of the weapons intended for the Afghanis they were training then lied about to the Senate in a scheme eerily similar to gun-running?


  • And this is just a partial list of some of the very best reasons why the Central Intelligence Agency of the Age of Obama feels the need to stuff hundreds of millions of more taxpayer dollars down Erik Prince's throat to have Blackwater protect them. Because, Lord knows, we can't expect our intelligence community and our own military and fighting force to, you know, actually defend themselves.


    So you see, Dorothy, nothing to get excited about, nothing to see here. Blackwater will protect us all... for the right price. Now sleep, sleep, poppies, poppiiiieeeeesssss....

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Afghanistan: The COIN Op War


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

    Because there was no other place
    to flee to,
    I came back to the scene of the disordered senses,
    came back last night at midnight,
    arriving in the thick June night
    without luggage or defenses...

    - Anne Sexton, "Flee on Your Donkey."

    Thanks to former Afghanistan/NATO commander Stanley McCrystal, President Barack Obama is now widely perceived to be exactly how liberals have appraised him: Weak, indecisive and with a Vietnam on his hands. Perhaps instead of studying the life and times of the 16th president, he ought to start studying that of the 36th president.

    It's all too tempting to see into the resignation/ousting of Stanley McCrystal, a man who, just six years ago, was a mere brigadier general, a referendum on not just Afghanistan and our entire foreign policy but also on Mr. Obama's presidency. As Frank Rich tartly reminded us last Sunday, Obama cannot wait until after re-election in 2012 to set his agenda straight. He has many potential career-ending issues to deal with now.

    By way of proof that Obama never had a clear idea of what to do about Afghanistan, he was forced to demote CENTCOM commander and Bush holdover Gen. David Petraeus, a man inexplicably credited in the MSM with the "Iraq turnaround", to cover for McCrystal. Meanwhile, another Bush holdover, career seat-warmer Robert Gates, is breathing a sigh of relief that these decisions didn't land on his desk and is vigorously endorsing Petraeus as the right man for the right job at the right time (even if only in a retroactive way).

    Nothing extraordinary has happened in Afghanistan recently to delude one into believing that McCrystal's Rolling Stone interview provided the president with enough ammunition to blow McCrystal out of the water. This was a personal as well as a professional move, as much presidential damage control as foreign policy damage control. Whether by within or without, Obama almost surely was convinced that firing McCrystal served a manifold purpose: Re-establishing policy and his flagging authority by shuffling a deck chair for an older one.

    McCrystal has been likened to Gen. Douglas MacArthur since the former is the first top general to be removed from his command during a major military engagement since the latter was fired by Truman, but this is a very reckless and misleading analogy. MacArthur was fired for defying President Truman's attempts at diplomacy with the Red Chinese during the Korean War, of wanting to engage Red China directly in an all-out war even to the point of using nuclear weapons. In that respect, MacArthur was following the lead of the late Gen. George S. Patton, who seriously suggested to top Pentagon brass at the end of WW II that he wanted to take on the Soviet Union while they were still war-weary.

    There was nothing like that from McCrystal, a man revealed by Michael Hastings to be maddeningly contradictory. A big fan of COIN or counterintelligence counterinsurgency, McCrystal nonetheless was savvy enough to spot the flaws in Obama's excuse for a strategy. COIN is intended to change hearts and minds of the people whose lands we invade, by rebuilding their infrastructure from the ground on up. The problem, as even its proponents will admit, is that COIN is labor-, money- and time-intensive, easily involving decades and hundreds of billions of dollars.

    While McCrystal never comes out and says it, his foolhardy if accurate criticisms of the office of the President and his entire National Security team will this week and for many weeks thereafter cause many more people than last week to wonder, "Is Afghanistan worth it?"

    What isn't mentioned by either Hastings or his main subject is the fact that part of COIN may or not involve bribing tribal warlords into not attacking our convoys, money that's actually winding up in the pockets of the Taliban. We've already lost nearly 200 troops in Afghanistan within the first half of this year but one has to consider how much higher the body count would be if we didn't actually have to bribe murderous criminals into not killing us.

    There seem to be two strategies at work in Afghanistan: COIN, a horrid palimpsest of the strategy of Alexander the Great or winning over hearts and minds, and the stepped-up unmanned drone strikes beloved of Obama, drone strikes that kill many more civilians than insurgents and Taliban, civilian deaths that immediately undermine COIN's stated objectives.

    As proof of this, Afghanistan's "first female suicide bomber" killed two US soldiers in the eastern Kunar Province near the Pakistani border. It was discovered that she'd lost two relatives during one of the same house raids such as the one last February that resulted in the deaths of two pregnant women, a teenaged girl, and a prosecutor and police chief. One of McCrystal's last orders was to assign female Marines to inspect women at checkpoints, which immediately puts even more women in the line of fire in a nation without defined battle lines.

    McCrystal, not the JSOC muscle-head that many may perceive him to be, is very mindful of the more than deleterious effects of these home raids. He calls it "insurgent math" and it boils down to this brutally simple equation: One innocent victim of a home raid = Ten insurgents to deal with later.

    Anti-American sentiment is understandably growing by the day in Afghanistan, a native rejection of the Ugly Americanism that's characterized this needless war almost from the start. Ranging from suspicion of American motives and goals to outright jihad, we have long since failed to win over the hearts and minds of these people who view us as just the latest in a long series of tyrants who had tried and failed to tame their desolate, impoverished country. And the more they snarl at us, the more we snarl back and even begin to hate the natives for us being kept there and away from our families stateside, an Ugly Americanism that's inevitable when wars drag on for far longer than they should. Throw in the mix an understandable paranoia in a land in which the enemy wears no uniforms, could be male or female, young or old and it further exacerbates an already volatile and untenable occupation.

    Alexander the Great, the first COIN strategist, had the right idea all along by insisting on not marching into conquered territories as conquerors and imposing language, culture and customs on the subjugated but to insinuate their way into the infrastructure, to become unto them.

    It ought to be noted, however, that Alexander the Great was one of the first to invade Afghanistan and one of the first to fail.

    As a result of his criticism of the Oval Office and the men who surround it, McCrystal comes dangerously close to being the next military Cassandra, a man, like Eric Shinseki and Anthony Taguba, fated to be ignored or disbelieved for the rest of his life. Regardless of the rallying round David Petraeus, Obama relieving McCrystal of command in itself is an affirmation not of his decisiveness but an unwilling and unwitting admission of the foolhardiness he'd displayed in installing McCrystal as top man in Afghanistan a year ago.

    COIN will not win over hearts and minds and America in general has lost faith in an endless occupation of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Osama bin Laden, the only half-assed excuse we had for invading Afghanistan, had fled Tora Bora long ago thanks to George W. Bush. And it's becoming increasingly clear that the only countersinsurgent strategy that works is to not needlessly invade hostile foreign lands to begin with.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Out With the Old, in With the Old


    ...because Petraeus did such a bang-up job in Iraq for Bush. I wonder if he fainted when he got the news that he was replacing Stan the Man? If so, who could blame him?


    I wasn't too thrilled with what McCrystal said about Obama and his national security team (although I do not disagree with all of it) but Petraeus has fucked up everything he's ever touched since this war began, going back to when he was training the Iraqi security forces that still can't stand up on their own.

    Sometimes hair of the dog is not the best remedy for a political hangover.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    God, I Love Literary Agents


    What follows below are the last two exchanges between me and Molly Friedrich of the Molly Friedrich Agency. Friedrich had just yesterday rejected a little book I’m putting together of Twitter tweets “written” by my dog, Buddy. I just thought it would help me break into print so it could pave the way toward my publishing what I really want to publish, which are my novels.

    The form rejection letter I got yesterday from Friedrich for the second time, lauded how “interesting” my “story” was but one, regrettably, we will have to pass on. Thank you for thinking of us and eat shit and die, etc. etc. etc.

    I saw two colors, in this order: Red then black. I sent her the two links to my two part post about agents and what follows is her response. What follows is my final response.

    Dear Robert,
    Can we please stop this exchange of letters? It's hurtful and counter-productive. Since you keep invoking John Gilstrap's name, why not query his new agent? And in what possible way was your query letter "personalized"? You never made reference to John Gilstrap. You refer to "countless hours of research". I think even a little bit of research would quickly yield the basic information that I'm fairly adverse to technology. I'm not proud of it, but honestly, I just went onto e-mail a couple of summers ago, among the last of the hold-outs in publishing. So submitting a series of tweets to me was seriously doomed from the beginning, I don't even have a cell phone, for crying out loud. You urge me to hire more interns, hire more agents--with no clue about how expensive it is to run a small business in Manhattan, starting with the costs of basic space. As for your talent, I'm sorry but there are lots of talented writers out there, half of the queries I get are from already published writers and there just isn't that much room for many more writers on my list. If you refer to my colleagues as "odious ilk", you're just going to get angrier and more exasperated, instead of trying to figure out what's not working with your query letter.

    You're right, of course, that I do this for a living. I read from about 10:00pm until 2:00am every single night. A lot of that reading is transom--the last five novels I sold were all over-the-transom, debut fiction, submitted without connection or leverage of any sort. The system does really work but it requires patience and mutual respect. I'm sorry this submission of yours got off to a bad start and I hope you'll go forward and find the right agent. With best wishes, MOlly Friedrich



    Molly:

    Did I or did I not address you directly? Yes, I did. My salutation:

    "Molly Friedrich
    The Friedrich Agency
    136 East 57th St., 19th Flr.
    New York, NY 10022
    (212) 317-8810

    Dear Ms. Friedrich:"

    Sorry if that wasn't personalized enough. I'll try to include your DNA profile next time to prove I'm thinking of you.

    I didn't mention Gilstrap in my cover letter because my talent should speak for itself (and I'm not talking about my little tweets in my dog's name, but my serious work, my novels, that you've also imperiously rejected). And besides, you don't represent him anymore. John Hawkins does. And, yes, I tried him already. Several times. And got rejected several times by one of his flunkies.

    OK, I'll apologize for using colorful language. But please consider that I am 51 years old, currently unemployed for going on 14 months and get treated by employers and temp agencies exactly the same way I'm treated by those in your industry. I follow the rules, observe the protocols and guidelines and have a lot to recommend me for at least serious consideration. But neither lit agencies nor temp agencies give me any incentive for further compliance. At this point, it doesn't matter if I'm Faulkner reincarnated or Bill Gates.

    I find it typically contemptuous that you would assume I'm not doing the requisite work on my end, combing through literally hundreds of agent listings, cherry-picking only the appropriate ones and personalizing each and every query letter, even to the point of quoting certain agents. I suppose it's also my fault because I never thought my query letters ever needed tweaking (I've written countless different ones and four prologues and as many synopses for American Zen alone, another brilliant book you've rejected).

    And, as a personal note, I don't ever recall you saying anywhere that you're averse to technology (In your defense, saying what you rep doesn't give a writer more than a vague, abstract idea of what will actually fly or not). I saw that you repped nonfiction as well as fiction, so I threw the dice.

    And then I snapped when I saw this one-size-fits-all rejection letter in my spam inbox geared for rejecting a novel. It just brought home to me once again of just how impersonal, how callous and how brainless your colleagues have gotten. When I get form rejection letters in my mailbox from agencies I've tried with multiple projects, I literally do not have any idea what they're rejecting since they don't think enough of me to reference the title of my book.

    There was nothing wrong with my query letter regarding the Twitter book, not was there anything wrong with the other ones I'd sent out. I did everything I was supposed to, kissed ass for the umpteenth time and got farted in my face.

    No more.

    To tell you the truth, Molly, I forgot I'd even queried you with this book because I've stopped living and dying by my mailbox and inbox. I've given up on you and your... "profession."

    Because I'm sure you don't need me to tell you the tide is turning, Molly. You're in the business and I'm sure you know about AmazonEncore, Cambridge House Books, Scribd, iUniverse and the "vanity" presses that you're still telling us will ruin our careers that, ironically, you've already ruined or at least stalled. That's because the current, dog-eared business model of the editor/publishing executive/agent as literary gate-keepers simply does not work any more.

    Even publishers, such as Rupert Murdoch's Harper Collins, are sick of seeing you and your ilk getting brain transplant candidates like Sarah Palin $7 million for books they don't even write. They're showing enough agility to make writers partners and to share half the royalties with them as well as the risks. An agent even got Joe the Plumber, a man unqualified to write eye charts, a lucrative publishing deal. Another one got him a record deal all because he talked to Obama at a rope line.

    The center cannot hold, as Yeats once wrote, and even your contemporaries are slowly coming to that conclusion. More and more writers are getting published and making money without your help and you siphoning 15% of their hard-earned money. Traditional publishing lost 1.8% of its revenue last year, knocking it down to just under $25 billion. At the same time, epublishing such as Kindle tripled their revenue to $313 million (still think I don't do my research?).

    Coincidence? I think not.

    You and your colleagues permanently blew any chance of signing me on. I really am much more talented than you realize, more than Gilstrap or most of the birds perching on the book shelves today. I know that makes you roll your eyes like inmates insisting on their innocence makes guards roll their jaundiced eyes.

    But in this case, it's true. Guys like me don't grow on trees. And, at my age, with a nursing home and CNA's telling me how to live the rest of my life in my future in 20-30 years, I refuse to be ignored and disrespected when I know I have what it takes to be a success in this business.

    Now, I tear up form rejection letters and mail the pieces back to the agents. Because I've given up on you, all of you and no longer care about burning bridges. How can one burn a bridge when the trolls beneath it forbid you to cross it? There are options we didn't have four years ago, options that threaten to make you redundant.

    And you guys can either be agile and go with the technological wave that makes you, Molly, shudder with disgust or you can, as all too many of us unfortunately still do, die by the mailbox.

    Robert Crawford

    Politicians Are Dogs, Corporations Are Cats








    or, What BP Learned From my Cat Popeye.

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

    We're kind to them, especially the loyal dogs on Capitol Hill. We take them in off the street, give them free run of the house, set few if any conditions. We let them get on the furniture, brush their dander and let them stick their asses and genitalia in our faces and we think it's charming. When they ignore the scratching posts we bought them and instead use the drapes and bed, we smile and shake our heads.

    And despite there being no accountability and no oversight whatsoever, no matter how much we pamper them, these fat cat corporations like BP keep expecting more and are acting like, to quote Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, they own the place. If their cat litter isn't perfectly fresh, they piss in your sink, in your tub and shit behind your couch then look at you as if you're one of the "small people."

    And, contrary to the stereotype of the combative canine/feline dynamic, our doggie politicians and bureaucrats like Ken Salazar just keep opening and closing the door for these aloof little fucks. Please remind me again who the superior life form is?

    Loyalty is why we prize the real thing. A dog will anxiously await your return from the store and howl over your grave no matter how you treated it. They're so loyal, they're even willing to accept conditional and sporadic love. They're the antithesis of the demanding yet emotionally-removed cat.


    But too much unconditional loyalty isn't a good thing, especially when the environment and economy of the entire Gulf coast is in a shambles now because of BP's arrogant negligence and the enabling of the blind, unswerving loyalty of the Obama administration. This is the second consecutive administration that has catastrophically failed New Orleans and the Gulf. They waived environmental regulations by the hundreds and even helped BP lie about the true extent of the oil spill.

    As with the junkyard dogs of the Bush administration, the lapdogs of the Obama administration solemnly swore just days before the Deepwater Horizon blew up and sank that opening up offshore drilling would involve only the very latest technology and advanced safety and backup features, with multiple levels of redundancy.

    The only thing that's proven redundant is Congressman Joe Barton reminding us of Capitol Hill's real priorities when he publicly fellated BP's CEO Tony Hayward on the floor of the House mere days before Hayward tacked his way back to England to engage in a yacht race. Meanwhile, back at the doghouse, Louisiana and Gulf coast fishermen in their own boats were engaged in a race of their own, this one a losing one, as they suddenly had to learn how to be environmental workers if they wanted to make any money.

    The Gulf oil spill, as massive, destructive and unprecedented as it is, serves as a mere synecdoche of where the actual loyalty and fealty of the highest levels of political power lie: With corporations that are built to kill the average man.

    We got a taste of that with Phase One of the bailout under Bush in September 2008, then again with Phase Two under Obama last year. We got another taste of it when tens of billions of the TARP money was given to two of the biggest automakers with no strings attached (such as an insistence on retooling the factories to make greener cars with rock-bottom emissions, which would've put tens of thousands of auto workers back to work). We got yet another taste of the Obama administration's true allegiance when we saw Obama taking Bush's cue in widening offshore drilling in the Gulf as recklessly as he expanded Bush's war in Afghanistan. We got yet another taste of it when Obama showed up at the climate change conference in Copenhagen with lukewarm, corporate-friendly compromises and a silent refusal to sign on the Kyoto Protocol shown such disdain by the Bush junta. We got yet another taste of what contempt Obama and our Democratic "led" Congress feels for the people when illiterate, incoherently screaming, brick-throwing teabaggers and Facebook and Twitter dispatches by Sarah Palin actually prolonged the health care debate that turned out to be a huge bonanza for the HMOs and Big Pharma. And we got another taste of it when Congress, with much fanfare, produced another "reform" bill exercising little if any actual oversight and regulation of the banking institutions that have helped bankrupt America both financially and morally.

    Ken Salazar also promised more stringent oversight of MMS, the same sex-obsessed Interior entity that continued (after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, caught fire and sank, killing 11 people while BP executives were high-fiving each other over their laughable safety record) giving over two dozen offshore drilling permits for oil cartels like BP, Royal Dutch Shell and others who couldn't be bothered to write environmental impact statements.

    And, as with the Bush administration too many times to count, we saw more unswerving, canine loyalty to the worst people in the best jobs at the worst times and an insistence on keeping these wingtip-lickers in the center of policy-making. As with the Bush administration, the Obama administration is a glorified kakistacracy, or a government run by the very worst in the land. Bush's Interior Secretary was the oil cartel-loving Gail Norton; Obama's is the oil cartel-loving Ken Salazar. The telling difference is, Norton didn't ride into Colorado to pretend to be a sheriff who was going to clean up the Wild West of the Minerals Management Service and the Gulf coast.

    And every once in a while, if you cock your ear like a half-asleep dog, you'll hear a little fart of truth like Joe Barton apologizing for the Obama administration uncharacteristically showing enough backbone to get BP to pony up $20 billion for an escrow account. The fact that the penny-wise, pound-foolish BP so immediately acquiesced to this is proof that they knew it was the best bargain in town when it comes to comeuppance.

    Otherwise, our government and the corporations lie to us when they're not whining about wanting their lives back and condescendingly referring to us as "the small people." And there are three reasons why people lie to you:

    Either they like you, they respect you and, what is the real reason here, they fear you.

    I think we can rule out BP or any corporation showing any love, loyalty and respect for the "small people" who keep them in yacht races on the Isle of Wight so the reason they lie to us is because they fear us. You'd think the British would be extra ingratiating to we the people considering what they've done to this part of their old empire.

    The only respect they're showing to us is not individually but collectively. They respect our strength in numbers. This is what we keep forgetting.

    Imagine what this country would be like if we all just stopped paying our bills and put the skids to this entire economy. Oh, sure, some would suffer in the beginning. We'd get our gas, water, phones and everything shut off. Then the infrastructure would start to collapse because even the biggest credit card, lenders and utility companies wouldn't have the time or resources to process over 200,000,000 outstanding debts.

    Then we could make our demands known, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, progressives and teabaggers alike and everyone in between. And things would have to change. But that won't happen because you want your cable to stay on, because you've forgotten how to live without electricity for even five minutes, because things would literally come to a halt if you went one week without filling up at a BP or Exxon Mobil gas station. We've forgotten what it's like to truly suffer and that's the most intolerable thing in the world to a people that casually visits suffering-by-proxy on our fellow humans in central Asia and the Middle East on a massive scale.

    These fat cats have no loyalty to anything but the Holy Dollar. That is the only God that matters to them, that is what inspires their reverence and unswerving loyalty. And we could continue getting kicked like the disgustingly loyal curs we've been for over a century or we could growl back and remind those in power who's really the alpha dog.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Douchebag o' the Day


    (Via Sensico.)

    Oh, yes. Much better alternative to actively combing the beaches picking up tar balls and cleaning off oily birds. Let's all just drop to our knees and ask for some miracle from a sky wizard that, if he ever existed, surely would've given up on us by now like we would give up on a puppy that refuses to be house-broken and pisses and shits all over the house.

    I'll bet Obama's sorry he didn't call her now for her suggestions on how to deal with a 100,000,000 gallon oil spill, what with these bright ideas that just popping off her head like fleas.

    Here's a better idea, Sweetie: How about we pray that one day Obama will wake up, fire that red-assed, bouncy squeaky oil cartel love doll named Ken "Sheriff" Salazar and start regulating these world-eaters while there's still a morsel left for the rest of us?

    So, how's that Drillie thingie workin' out fer ya, ya fucking douchebag?

    Meanwhile, what about Bob?

    Tony Hayward, thank God, got his life and his groove back.

    Wake the fuck up, Obama. Can't you see they're not even trying, at this point? And, since you're heading up the second consecutive administration to fail New Orleans and the Gulf coast, people are starting to say the same thing about you.

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Right Now...









    (Update: I managed to get a new power cord for my Compaq, my one remaining computer, for cheap on Amazon and even tho I paid for 2 day delivery, it arrived barely more than 24 hours after I ordered it, which made Mrs. JP and me very happy. However, we got a quote yesterday morning from a local insurance broker that boils down to a cash outlay of well over $400 just to make the car barely legal. Here in MA, they actually charge you $75 just for a piece of paper, or the title, the sales tax on the car will be close to $100, then there's there's the $50 for the registration, the $10 fee for the insurance brokerage getting it for you, plus the initial down payment of the insurance policy. And that quote was cheaper than anything we were quoted by Esurance, Progressive or Geico.

    We'll barely make the rent on July first so any help you people could give to get our car on the road would be greatly appreciated. I really do think I have this QC job nailed but it's about 5 miles away [I had to walk to the interview] and I'll need a car to get to it so I can work my way back to self-sufficiency and respectability.)

    ...life is thicker than a McDonald's milkshake that's been left in the freezer for a month.

    Yesterday morning, I hiked it 4-5 miles to interview for a QC job and I think I nailed it. Hopefully, I'll be working again by the beginning of next month.

    Yesterday afternoon, Mrs. JP and I looked at a car that we'll be buying for $1000 in an hour or so.

    Then last night, the adapter cord on my final laptop (the Dell's hard drive got fried again a month or two ago) shit the bed and the battery can't hold a charge (So, no, it wasn't Popeye and his suicidal impulse to chew on cords that are still plugged in). It's either buy this car and put it on the road or a computer. I cannot do both. In the balance, the car wins, especially since I've already committed to buying it.

    Obviously, I can't keep using public access computers. The auto insurance is going to be ridiculously expensive even with just one of us being insured on a compulsory policy. Then there's the registration, inspection sticker, blah blah blah. My second and final state UI extension will be kaput by the 26th and, with Congress dicking around with the federal extension bill, I'm pretending as if my income will be cut off by Tuesday the 29th.

    Whatever you could kick in to the Paypal account would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully, if this new job pans out as I think it will, this ought to be my last public appeal. But for now, whatever help we can get from you guys would enable us to put our new car on the road and get at least one of our computers fixed while keeping ahead of our regular household expenses and would sure be appreciated.

    And just when my uploads on Scribd are finally starting to get attention, too.

    Happy Father's Day: Iraqi and Afghani Daily Grief edition


    Who knows how the President will celebrate Father's Day and, frankly, who gives a shit? Considering that this is a guy who has ordered extra-judicial assassinations on American citizens and has ramped up an incredibly unwinnable, incredibly corrupt, incredibly bloody and incredibly cruel war in Afghanistan, I think it's pretty safe to say that Barack Obama won't give any more thought than did Bush to the fathers who can't be with their families today and those who never again will be with their families.

    So let's take stock as to what's happening just this weekend, starting with Iraq:

    27 Iraqis were killed and at least 42 were wounded in twin car bomb attacks in Iraq's capital of Baghdad.

    In the energy-rich southern city of Basra, at least one Iraqi was killed by police yesterday when the citizenry protested lack of electricity after a US occupation that's in its eighth year (Personal note: What they used to say about Hitler keeping the buses running on time also applies to Saddam Hussein: At least Iraqis had regular electricity and basic necessities to sustain human life under their dictator.).

    Also yesterday, more car bombs, roadside bombs and grenade attacks claimed more lives, including a car bomb attack that killed eight and wounded 63 in Tuz Khurmato.

    That was just what was reported in Iraq in the last day and a half. Meanwhile, in the Other Wild West Show in central Asia...

    Despite assurances from coalition flaks about us killing fewer Afghani civilians during the surge, "precision" missile strikes against the terrorist Haqqani network, reports NATO, resulted in the deaths of six civilians consisting of a woman and five children. 13 other civilians, claim Afghani authorities, were wounded.

    Two push cart bombs killed another woman and child and an unidentified third person at a bank in southern Afghanistan.

    A roadside bomb killed two policemen and three civilians in the nation's capital of Kabul yesterday.

    Despite unprecedented corruption on the part of the US military and US contractors, Blackwater just received another $120,000,000 contract in Afghanistan courtesy of the US State Dept.

    UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon says a UN report has discovered that in the first four months of 2010, IED use is up 94% in Afghanistan from that same time last year. In Iraq, IEDs have been the number one cause of death among US troops.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, two days ago we lost track of 17 Afghani troops who were studying English at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. They decided to go AWOL and haven't been seen or heard from since despite an APB throughout local law enforcement.

    1124 US troops have so far died in Afghanistan, almost 500 of them in the deadly Helmand Province alone. Obama's 2009 surge in Afghanistan has had the opposite effect of Bush's 2007 surge in Iraq: Over twice as many troops died in Afghanistan in 2009 than in 2008 (and, at 177 official deaths, we stand to easily exceed 2009's figures this year) while Bush's surge resulted in US troop deaths being cut by almost two thirds by 2008.

    That's a lot of fathers who won't be served breakfast in bed and get homemade cards and presents from their wives and kids. That's a lot of Father's Days that will be forever suffused with sadness from wives and children who'd love to be able to make a card and buy a present for their husband or father but can't.

    And while Iraq and Afghanistan don't buy into the artificial card company-generated Father's Day, many more children will no longer be picked up and dandled by their fathers. Many more innocent fathers than US troops have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, nations with, respectively, populations 1/15th and 1/10th our own.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Joe Blow








    Republican Rep. Joe Barton gave us yet another variation on what BP really stands for (Blowing Patrons) and proved it on the floor of the House yesterday when he actually apologized to BP executives testifying before Congress. What was he apologizing for?

    For the $20 billion escrow fund that President Barack Obama extracted from British Petroleum to help pay for the unprecedented damage their negligence and recklessness had caused. To hear Barton talk, the Chief Executive was wearing a pimp suit borrowed from Jimmy "Superfly Snooka" O'Keefe and pimp-sticked the poor English johns of BP with a bent coathanger. In fact, Barton called it a "shakedown" and "a tragedy of the first proportion", whatever that means.

    It ought to be mentioned for the sake of coincidence that Joe Blow had received something like $1.7 million from oil and gas during his Congressional career and he's damned grateful for it. "Thank you, sir. May I have another wad? Gobble gobble."

    His remarks were so nakedly rooted in corruption and fucked-up priorities that he even made Minority Leader Weepy John Boehner crawl away from him in disgust

    Later on that day, Congressman Norm Crosby had released this incomprehensible apology: "If anything I have said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction."

    Who's writing apologies on Capitol Hill for the Republicans these days? Sarah "Drill, baby, drill" Palin?

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    TD Jesus Touched, Downed


    .oO Oh, shit, Dad's home and he looks pissed... Oo.


    "Now, son, about that cavorting with whores thing..."

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    A National Insecurity Issue


    It’s a complex issue... - Rep. Duncan Hunter on immigration
    This is a National Security issue. It’s not complicated. - Rep. Duncan Hunter on immigration again

    This is pretty much sums up the perception of so-called "anchor babies" among the right wing. In fact, I found this particular lead image in the comment section of Free Republic.

    Russell Pearce, the Republican bigot who spearheaded the abominable SB 1070, is about to unveil his newest abomination and this time time they're going after A) children and B) children who are legal US citizens.

    And, as with its granddaddy SB 1070, this bill would try to usurp the federal government's power by choosing to ignore the 14th amendment that grants citizenship to all who are born on US soil.

    This isn't a new trend or idea. At least as far back as April of this year, Congressmen like Duncan Hunter openly advocated stripping children of their US citizenship and deporting them with their parents. In fact, Hunter told a crowd of fellow right wing fanatics that something like this ought to be started in Arizona.

    Looks like he's getting his wish. And SB 1070 is already working wonders for the Republican Party a month before it goes into effect: Not only has it made Gov. Jan Brewer the fair-haired Crypt Keeper of the state GOP, it's also resulted in a mass exodus of Mexican Americans both legal and otherwise who are sickened and frightened by what Arizona's turning into. But as with anything else in life, the self-imposed deportation is a two-edged sword: Not only are they taking reliably Democratic votes with them, they're also taking their hard-earned money.

    Some Arizona businesses are reporting a 75% drop in revenue since the exodus began. Yet, despite the immediate negative impact on the state's economy, the sunburned white people of Arizona are tickled pink that the state's being left to those who stole it from Mexico.

    This is what happens when people give the right wing an unchallenged inch. They then grab a yard. With the return of Nazi Germany with SB 1070 now this bill that seeks to ignore the 14th amendment, Arizona is showing signs of wanting to secede from the Union by ignoring the Constitution that seeks to protect all its citizens.

    Of course, a more humane alternative to stripping citizenship and enforced deportation is to put these parents on the fast track to citizenship since their American-born children "anchor" them to our country in the longterm. After all, it would be interesting to see how many ancestors of today's right wing gained their citizenship through the same 14th amendment they'd love to abolish. But then again, no one ever accused the right wing of being humane.


    Now even the definition of citizenship is up for grabs and the people doing the grabbing is the radical wing of the Arizona Republican Party. And with SB 1070 and this proposed legislation, the gap separating these Hispanics from concentration camps is getting narrower.

    OK, Here's the Story


    Well, all of them, actually.

    I've posted not only the entirety of American Zen on Scribd but also sample chapters of every worthwhile novel I've started in the last 12 years. With the aid of Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Delicious and other affiliated feeds, I've been able to flog these various manuscripts, as well as my most recent blog posts, so that my number of reads has gone up.

    The problem is, I've been getting more new followers on Twitter as a result while not getting any new subscribers on Scribd. I've been stuck at 7 for the last several days.

    Since I discovered how to use Twitter and the #Readcast, #writers, #authors and #nowreading hashtags, my traffic has gone up exponentially in the past few days. Yesterday, for instance, I got about 1200 reads.

    The problem with Scribd is that there are precious few forums for fiction writers and it's impossible to contact those who haven't subscribed to you. I'm obviously trying to get the attention of the few legitimate publishers on Scribd, since I've long since given up on brain-dead literary agents giving me the respect and consideration my talent deserves and their sense of community and rating system leave something to be desired.

    For instance, if you go to the Books-Fiction-Thrillers category, you'll note the top six titles with reads in 4 digits and that's all good and well. Then if you refine your search and go to Most Recent, you'll see the prologue for Reaction, my new thriller about Chernobyl and that it has far more reads than any other document on that page (nearly 500 since early last night). Yet, while three of my other documents have made the Rising category, Reaction isn't on any of the ten "rising" pages in spite of having more than ten times more reads than documents that have been up for the same time.

    Obviously, without many subscribers, your only chance of getting more than cursory attention is to make it to the short "Featured" list.

    So, for those of you who've been curious about what else I write besides politics and want to know where my heart really lies, what follows is a list of links to the fiction documents and brief synopses that I've posted on Scribd since last month, including a revised 52 page upload of the Bone Bridge. The more reads I get, the more exposure I could get in the future and the better my chances of getting approached by publishers.

    The Bone Bridge.
    Romanov 12:19.
    The Toy Cop.
    American Zen (in its entirety).
    American Zen II.
    Reaction (the Creative Writing:Novels version that's gotten 400 fewer reads).

    Most of my uploads are 8-52 pages and, if you don't have time to read them, you can download them or print them out for a time when you do have time. I wouldn't be wasting your time if I didn't think I could hold your attention and entertain you. Neither would I be writing at all.

    Afghanistan is the New Pandora


    ...so sez the NY Times and the Pentagon.

    While the discovery of nearly a trillion dollars of minerals may appear to be good news for Afghanistan (for instance, the Afghanis will finally be able to abandon their opium crops and the CIA will no longer be able to run its opium route), I think they have more to fear than just the Taliban redoubling their efforts to control the country. Like American corporations trying to muscle their way into this bonanza and the American military using the Taliban as an excuse for having no exit strategy.

    So, did things just get a whole lot better for Afghanistan or a whole lot worse? And how much longer before we start developing avatars?

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Oh, He Does, Does He?


    I'd say this poor bastard doesn't have a chance of winning unless his opponent's name is Spitz.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Oy Vey, the Hypocrisy!


    I hope Cheech and Chong sue these assholes for every last sheckle they have.

    Who's the moron dressed like a priest and doing a bad impression of a Mexican? None other than Rabbi David Nesenoff, the flip camera "journalist" who took down icon Helen Thomas.

    In spite of the hilarious jokes about dishwashing Mexicans, the money shot to me is this line: "The Jews need to be sent to where the Mexicans are going."

    What? Not Miami Beach?

    It's impossible to expect people who live for Gotcha moments to have clean hands when they take people down. But what we can reasonably expect is that they not be hypocritical, right wing asswipes as David Nesenoff obviously is. If you want to take down people for making unpopular but necessary remarks about the Israelis, then you don't get to make fun of Mexicans or anyone else...

    ...and then remove the video from your website and Youtube while pretending you never made it three months ago.

    "Call Me, Barry."


    Seems the Flat Earthers were right all this time. The sun is revolving around the earth and this morning it rose in the west and all streams and brooks in the United States are running in the same direction. Pigs are flying (presumably away from the baleful purview of the SEC, EPA and the Interior Ministry) and the oily chickens have come home to roost.

    By now, we've heard every variant possible on Sarah Palin's election year mantra of "Drill, Baby, Drill!", some of them sloppily straying into the realm of assonance. We've heard "Shill, Baby, Shill!" and, since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 rig workers, "Spill, Baby, Spill!" Now it seems that Sarah Palin has suddenly learned to "Spell, Baby, Spell!"

    In her one of her latest Facebook dispatches, Sarah Palin has actually come out in favor of heavy government regulation in the wake of the BP oil spill. Yes, the woman who made "Drill, Baby, Drill!" a Republican mantra, the woman who implied that President Barack Obama was a wealth-redistributing Socialist, is challenging the President to call her so she can give him more than the broad strokes of what actually appears to be a pretty good plan for government regulation of the oil industry.

    It's even perfectly spelled, which is a sure sign that it's as ghost-written as her $7 million memoir Going Rogue.

    But Sarah Palin, in favor of evil gubmint regulation and willing to work with our Democrat President to this end? Next thing, Rush Limbaugh will suspend his honeymoon to volunteer in an inner city soup kitchen and Ann Coulter will say grace at the dinner table.

    But all seeming Republican changes of heart are conditional or aren't what they appear to be. And despite the fact that, starting with the title, "Less Talkin', More Kickin'", there are enough apostrophe-shortened words and hillbillyesque phrases such as, "Or, what the heck, give me a call" to give one the impression that Palin tore herself from her $200,000 a pop rubber chicken circuit to do her civic duty. And why should the President call her?
    I learned firsthand the way these companies operate when I served as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC). I ended up resigning in protest because my bosses (the Governor and his chief of staff at the time) wouldn’t support efforts to clean up the corruption involving improper conflicts of interest with energy companies that the state was supposed to be watching. (I wrote about this valuable learning experience in my book, “Going Rogue”.) I felt guilty taking home a big paycheck while being reduced to sitting on my thumbs..

    In short, because she has so much experience dealing with oil types since she did such a bang-up job talking to oil executives during her Gubernatorial fling. (This included raising the windfall tax on oil and gas companies, which resulted in a $1200 rebate for every Alaskan which they were then encouraged to put back in the pockets of those same oil companies when the post-tax price of gas and oil shot up.)

    So are we seeing Sarah 2.0, a newly rehabilitated progressive armed with ecological righteousness and a Strunk and White in one hand? Er, no.
    Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must!

    Eyes on the prize, Sarah. Eyes on the prize. Never waver from your beloved "Drill, Baby, Drill!" mantra despite oily oceans of evidence conclusively proving with every dead fish and every mutilated body of an innocent Arab in the Persian Gulf that the oil industry is trashing our sea, land and water and is in itself a political force that provides a ready-made reason to invade one oil-rich country after another.

    And lest we remain heartened by Sarah Barracuda's refreshingly progressive stance on regulation, let's not overlook this one telling passage:
    The current debate over financial reform demonstrates what happens when political leaders react to a crisis with a raft of new regulations.

    Ah, there we have it. Let's not really regulate but to rattle our sabers and gas nozzles at them just long enough to let them know we're feigning seriousness about regulation. Let's just not go overboard about it.

    So why shouldn't the President call America's most beloved grifter, someone who took fat paychecks while chairing the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission then (I'll presume) guiltily accepted another fat paycheck from Regnery Press for a book she didn't even write then (even more guiltily, let's presume in the interests of fairness) stole land that didn't belong to her so she could bankrupt Wasilla over her glorified hockey rink?

    Why not call Alaska's ex Governor? As the old saying goes, "Set a thief to catch a thief."

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Brilliant Pigs


    While the mainstream media are admonishing the President for looking like the stereotypical "angry black man", they're losing sight of the fact that BP is itself fulfilling every stereotype that we have of pigs: Bloated and slovenly.

    That's what BP actually stands for. Either that or Blown-off Procedures.

    Writing for Buzzflash, Greg Palast informs us of BP's other spill, this one so modest that compared to the Deepwater Horizon spill, it makes the company look positively responsible. Or less ambitious.

    For the last 16 days, Pump Station 9 at Delta Junction in Alaska has been spewing what was estimated as far back as May 28th as 100,000 gallons of hydrocarbons. Alaskan investigators found what they described as, "procedures (that) weren't properly implemented."

    Gee, you mean like the procedures that our government conditionally put in place that we waived dozens of times (since the spill, not merely before) every time an oil cartel like BP or Shell grumbled about the pin money that that would involve?

    It came out recently that BP's 582 page oil spill plan for last year cited experts who've been dead for five years, listing aquatic wildlife not indigenous to the Gulf coast and phone numbers to aid organizations that are no longer in service. They'd refused to implement a simple $500,000 system to the Deepwater Horizon rig that could've easily prevented this disaster and saved 11 human lives and the fishing industry of the Gulf coast.

    Company executives, incredibly, are still denying the existence of the underwater plumes of oil that have been seen by human eyes and documented on camera. Yet, BP was still, almost a month after the explosion and spill, lobbying the Canadian government to lift its ban on drilling in the Arctic, citing, once again, the additional cost to drill a relief well.

    Even BP has admitted that they won't be able to get a handle on the disaster until drilling of the relief well is finished... in August, when the tourist season is almost over and hurricane season gets into full swing.

    And their CEO, Tony Hayward, whined that he wanted his life back.


    Yet, with BP easily elbowing and muscling ahead of Goldman Sachs, Magnatar, Blackwater, Monsanto and other world-eaters as the evilest corporation on the planet earth, all the mainstream media can talk about now is how President Obama must avoid the appearance of looking like "the angry black man" when the Chief Executive is, quite understandably, pissed about BP's Biblical-class negligence and incompetence in what is shaping up to be the worst American ecological disaster since Love Canal, Three Mile Island or the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill.

    Let's take stock of why our President is angry:

    BP had enjoyed one regulatory free pass after another including not being required to file environmental impact statements through a lax and criminally complicit Interior Dept. going back to at least the days of the oil-loving Bush junta and continuing through to his administration.

    BP has shown itself to be shockingly inept and incompetent in dealing with the aftermath. We've heard suggestions as absurd as stuffing garbage into the well head, including golf balls, chemical dispersants that only increase the entropy of the spill, "smart pigs", Top Kill and now the MSM is seriously contemplating whether a nuclear device, an even more unstable energy source than oil, ought to be used to fuse the open well head shut.

    BP, while whining about how they want their lives back while 11 dead employees rot in their graves, have shown themselves to be cruelly if not criminally blase about the lives, industries and ecosystem they've wrecked.

    They are still denying the truth and have gotten Republicans like Haley Barbour onboard to tell potential summer tourists, "Come on down to Mississippi and bring the kiddies. We ain't got no oil on our beaches!" In fact, in his mania to attract understandably wary tourists to Mississippi, he comes off sounding like Murray Hamilton's character, Mayor Larry Vaughn, in Jaws. Keep the tourists in the water and never mind the giant Great White that's eating people like wheat thins.

    BP tried to blame contractors such as Transocean and Halliburton for the disaster when in fact all three corporations are to blame for what is estimated by government scientists to be a 44,000,000+ gallon spill.

    But all the media are concerned about is Obama looking like a stereotype that it helps perpetuate virtually every news cycle? Why don't they just come out and say what they really want to say: That a black man, President of the United States or no, ought to keep a civil tongue in his head when addressing the rich white men that completely subsidize that same MSM.

    If only the President would get as angry every time an outrage happened on his watch! Where was this anger when sociopathic executives were robbing their investors blind to the tune of billions and creating millions of job losses and foreclosures? Where was this anger during the second round of bailouts that became "necessary" when many of these same corporations had their insane craps games catch up to them?

    And if the President of the United States cannot show some well-deserved anger when a foreign company destroys at least one quarter of our southern shoreline in the hallowed name of corporate profits, then who can get angry?

    All Time Classics

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