Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Top 10 George Zimmerman Excuses for Speeding

     Earlier today, George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Florida man found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin two and a half weeks ago, was pulled over in North Texas for speeding. In the Ford pickup he was driving was a gun. When asked by Texas law enforcement officers where he was going in such a hurry, Zimmerman reportedly replied, "Nowhere in particular" then asked the deputy if he recognized him from television. Zimmerman was eventually sent on his way with just a verbal warning. But that was just the first thing Mr. Zimmerman said to the officers when asked where he was going. What were the others?


  • 1) "I'm chasing after a black pedestrian and I'm in fear of my life."
  • 2) "I got a report a Dunkin' Donuts in Forney was on fire. I'm surprised you're not already there."
  • 3) "Damn Google maps. Can you tell me where Pulaski, Tennessee is?"
  • 4) "Seriously, you don't recognize me? OK, imagine me 200 pounds lighter and wearing orange. That ring a bell, now?"
  • 5) "How do you like my new bumper sticker? It reads, I Shot Your Honor Roll Student."
  • 6) "You better let me go now or Commissioner Gordon will hear about this."
  • 7) "What's with the gun? I'm a takeout delivery driver for Smith and Wesson and I'm on my way to Ted Nugent's house."
  • 8) "I'm making a home video version of The Hitcher."
  • 9) "A verbal warning? Wow, thanks! I guess assholes really do get away!"
  • 10) "You're Jewish, aren't you?"
  • Saturday, July 27, 2013

    Open Letter to Jonah Pantsload Goldberg

    Dear Jonah:

         I just caught sight of your inexplicably syndicated and amplified one man Horah on Helen Thomas' freshly dug grave, "Tributes to Helen Thomas Misguided" (retitled "The real Helen Thomas" in its reprinting in that right wing septic tank known as the American Enterprise Institute's website). And I think a response is in order.
         First off, your screed gives the appearance of an ant shaking its fist at the gigantic boot heel that had just crushed its hill. Thomas' many accomplishments will stand head and shoulders above that of most journalists, not the least of which will be yours when you're finally exposed as just another semi-anonymous pro-Israel right wing rodeo clown in a nation already writhing with them.
         Secondly, you immediately lose credibility when you start your grave-dancing with a quote from a John Belushi movie. Indeed, if cholesterol for once proves to be our friend and your time mercifully comes soon, may an army of left wing journalists dance Tarantellas and Irish jigs on your massive grave and bring to light one last time your many literary transgressions that make David Brooks look like IF Stone by conspicuous relief.
          Chiefly, in our obituary we will focus on your wearisome and constant support for the terrorist state of Israel, which, along with Thomas' longevity, seemed to be the guiding light of your scurrilous hit job on her that I presume you wouldn't have dared to write when Helen was still alive.
         Let's start off with this misogynistic salvo:
    Obviously it's an exaggeration to suggest that women wouldn't have made so many worthwhile gains in journalism were it not for Thomas. But she was the first female member of a lot of clubs, and that counts for something.
         Shorter Pantsload Goldberg: Let's just ignore Helen Thomas' pioneering efforts because if it wasn't for her, someone would've been a trailblazer for female journalism. Which is kind of like one of us saying., "Let's just forget everything Reagan ever did because if he didn't come along, well, some other Republican psychopath would've tripled the deficit, smashed the unions, propped up fascist, right wing governments, cut a sleazy and highly illegal arms for hostages deal with the Iranians and cut and run from terrorists in Beirut and otherwise left this nation in an economic and diplomatic shambles." Or, "Let's just forget Bob Novak ever existed because if he didn't, well, some other partisan right wing journalist would've outed Valerie Plame." And, who knows, if Novak had never been born, maybe that traitor would've been you, Jonah. One can dream, right? Onward, non-Christian soldier!
    Hamas was less interested in Thomas' role as a pathbreaking feminist icon than the fact that, at a 2010 White House Jewish heritage event, she growled into a camera that the Jews should "get the hell out" of Israel (or Palestine, in her telling) and go back to Poland, Germany and America. That statement, cheered by Hezbollah at the time, was too much for Hearst, which quickly ushered her off to retirement, where she cultivated her status as a truth-teller martyred by the Zionists who control everything in America.
         OK, I don't recall Helen Thomas ever claiming the Zionists were in control of everything. Maybe you're thinking of Nixon and Billy Graham's secretly-taped conversation when Graham said the Jews were running the entire mainstream media to Nixon while he bobbed his unctuous head in agreement.
         And, I would think it goes without saying Israel should get the fuck out of Palestine and to stop using the Holocaust as a fig leaf to justify acts of terrorism that have affected not only their Arab and Muslim neighbors and even peaceful, unarmed aid flotillas but your own government and its military that you piously wave pom-poms for when it comes time to fight another proxy war for Israel. Israel has no right to Bogart the Holocaust like the last joint at a Grateful Dead concert. They do not own the Holocaust and they've had seven fucking decades to get over it. They do not have more of a right to exist than any other nation. In fact, in light of how hideously they've squandered their sovereignty, I'd say Israel has less of a right to exist since their government's entire guiding principle seems to be hysterical, paranoid militarism carried out by those who didn't even live through the Holocaust and whose knowledge of it is purely second-hand and anecdotal.
    In most obituaries this incident comes out of the blue, often chalked up to the fact her parents were Lebanese immigrants (an odd slap at Lebanese Americans). There's no mention that her hatred of Israel, and supporters of Israel, was a constant for most of her career.
         No, Helen wrote some pretty balanced articles for most of her career, which is a fuck of a lot more than can said for you, whose ignorant hatred of anything Arab, Muslim or liberal has only served to make you just another shit-smeared, partisan fuckstick in the sex shop of Republican ideology. Have I said, yet, how desperately I want you to painfully die? No? Then remind me later, Depends Boy.
    Thomas spent much of her career as the "epitome of the wire service stenographer," then-New Republic writer Jonathan Chait wrote in 2006. Contrary to the myth of the dogged journalist, she wrote mostly puff pieces — about Democratic presidents. She only became a left-wing icon when, as a columnist, she started ranting at the George W. Bush White House.
         Oh, there you go. When looking for corroboration, always default to the tried-and-true method of citing another right wing Jew psychopath. People like Chait and you are the reasons for the late William F. Buckley pinching the bridge of his nose at the end of his life and wishing he'd founded Playboy or Mad Magazine instead of the New Republic and the national laughingstock hacks like you, Kristol and Chait have turned it into.
         And, no, Thomas was a liberal icon long before your boy W stole the White House in December 2000. Someone had to put that shit-kicking rube's cloven hooves to the fire and Helen Thomas was virtually the only journalist in America who had the balls to do it. That's why for decades she sat front and center in the WH press briefing room while you were writing fluff pieces carrying rancid, cholera-riddled water for right wingers, a fate to which you'll obviously be relegated until we finally wake up and realize what a slimy knob you really are.
    Still, as time went by, the awards poured in as she became a Washington institution, with cameos in Hollywood movies and even "The Simpsons." But the "odd thing about her awards and citations," Chait noted, "is that they almost never mention any specific contributions she has made to journalism save for being female and, well, old."
         If your intention was to bask in Jonathan Chait's misogynism and ageism and show that he's at least as despicable an asswipe as you, then you've admirably succeeded. Your sneering at Thomas' legitimate awards and Hollywood guest appearances also smacks of jealousy because you know that, aside from being "honored" with the American Enterprise Institute's "Right Wing Asshole of the Year" Award, such honors will elude you even if you live to be older than Methuselah. Or maybe even Bob Novak.
         Most of us live through enough adversity and turmoil so we never really know how kindly or harshly posterity will judge us, Jonah. Thomas, a rare exception, went to her grave assured of her rightful place as the doyenne of American journalism. And I think we can preemptively write your own obituary by correctly relegating you to the Andrew Breitbart/James O'Keefe/Michelle Malkin School of Journalism, one that bases its entire credibility on heavily edited videos, blind partisanship and a willingness to suck up to the easily enraged and the stupid and willfully ignorant.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

        
     (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
     
    "These assholes they always get away." - George Zimmerman, moments before murdering Trayvon Martin and getting away with it.
    (Original image discourtesy of Twitchy.com)
         As a reader of fiction and a movie buff, I've long been cognizant of the basic rule that, if a character kills an innocent person, especially a child, they forfeit any claims to sympathy. In fiction, television and in the movies, if they kill an innocent person, the moral code dictates that antagonist will get it in the end, either by getting killed or arrested to stand trial. True, there are exceptions, such as Hannibal Lecter. But while Lecter may be admired, envied, even, for his brilliance, he can never be loved or elicit any serious sympathy. He'd crossed that line long ago and had forfeited any claim to sympathy.
         This moral code in fiction has served writers and their audiences alike in good stead for longer than any of us can recall. To violate it is to violate the natural order of things and this code has as little chance of being repealed as ObamaCare.
         Real life, however, is never restricted so universally by such a strict moral code. Real life, with its endemic gray areas, is much messier and bizarre than the cleanly edited fiction we read and see on the big and small screens. The Zimmerman trial and verdict is a case in point. And my point is not that the bad guy committed a murder of an innocent child and got away with it. My point is that the same people who are prepared to withhold sympathy for a fictional character doing the same thing have not only excused Zimmerman for doing what he did, they've conspicuously gone overboard and allowed their misguided sympathies to balloon into antebellum-class racism.
         When we see a terrorist blowing up a market in a movie or a serial child killer taking young innocent lives, I'd like to think none of us would stop to consider if perhaps the victims, however young, had it coming to them, if perhaps there was some twisted rationale but a rationale nonetheless that they'd brought it on themselves. So why are so many racists in this world prepared to do the same when the real thing happens?
         Less than a year and a half ago, professional trog John Derbyshire was fired from the National Review when he'd published an article on Takimag.com saying he'd warned his children about black people. However, 15 months later (just yesterday), Victor Davis Hanson, another passive but noted racist, wrote pretty much the same article in the very pages of the National Review. It's the typical rodeo clownery we've come to expect from the right wing since the Trayvon Martin shooting, with Hanson's assertion being that urban black males are much likelier to kill each other than being killed by police or white civilians.
         However, the National Review isn't Stormfront. The NR is the magazine uneasy conservatives choose to read when they feel like fancying themselves intellectuals on a par with liberals, although any real intellectualism or even a serious pretense to it evaporated from the National Review with founder William F. Buckley's last puff of pipe smoke. And Victor Davis Hanson's article will be read by those with intellectual pretensions and will perhaps even take his advice and go home to have "the other talk" with their invariably white children. And the article will stand with as much impunity as its author.
         The long-simmering racism we're now seeing after the Martin shooting and Zimmerman verdict began bubbling like the witch's cauldron in Macbeth back in early 2007 when Barack Obama threw his hat in the ring in Springfield, IL. Conservatives (hereafter referred to as "the racists") were curiously silent about the Martin shooting until a black man who happens to be the President had briefly mentioned it before fading back into the shadows to let the Florida criminal justice system, or the vaudeville act it actually is, do its job.
         Suddenly, alleged support for Zimmerman that was in reality racist backlash over the President daring to speak out of turn began spewing into the mainstream media and accepted as legitimate commentary and a legitimate part of the narrative. And the same theatergoers, television viewers and readers who have been trained and conditioned to withhold sympathy from a fictional child murderer now not only rallied around Zimmerman's pudgy body but actually found endless ways to blame Trayvon Martin for his own murder, a cruelly twisted point of view that found its apex in the Zimmerman verdict.
     
    "But, but black people also kill the black people we really don't care about!"

         Geraldo went on Fox and crowed about how right he was about Trayvon and his hoodie and how he brought his own death on himself for daring to wear it over his head while walking through a predominantly white neighborhood on a rainy night.
         Noted overt racist Rush Limbaugh made himself an honorary black person by declaring that saying "nigga" was cool again and that he could use it like people in da hood.
         The riots that were anticipated by Fox "News" and Juror B37 turned out to be peaceful demonstrations that would make your grandmother's book club meetings look like the Rodney King riots of 1992 (While Fox, in its article, never once owned up to feeding that narrative). So conservative commentators were forced to cherry pick examples of black people killing each other and the President's adopted home town of Chicago was, not coincidentally, chosen for examples.
         Then the President was impertinent enough to mention the verdict, without once criticizing it and even urging us to accept the jury's verdict, and that's when the racist right wing went totally antebellum. Because, you know, black people should be seen and not heard.
         One of the best things about living in our latter day society is that that we've grown so intolerant of racism (as well as misogynism and homophobia) that anyone whose name isn't Rush Limbaugh can pretty much kiss their jobs goodbye if they use the "N" word and if you don't believe me, ask Paula Deen about that (especially as she now has a lot of spare time since she lost a few of her restaurants, book deals and commercial endorsements this very summer). In fact, media outlets both big and small cannot, to this day, even bring themselves to spell out the word (It's N-i-g-g-e-r or, if you're an allegedly hip, white, racist radio pundit out of Florida, N-i-g-g-a).
         And yet, despite this pretense to intolerance to any form of racism, Limbaugh gets to keep his job at Clear Channel. Hanson gets to keep his writing gig at the National Review. Mark Fuhrman gets to keep his job at Fox "News". And we're supposed to quietly sit back and listen to other racists spew their racist venom at Trayvon Martin and his family lest we be accused of oppressing their first amendment rights.
         What happened to Trayvon Martin was not new. Neither was the reason. He was an innocent boy coming back from a 7-11 after buying candy and was profiled by an overzealous vigilante with 911 on his speed dialer. And the kid died for opposing a white "authority" figure and for, well, standing his ground. We hear about instances such as this countless times in the news involving other murdered civilians and cops and we hear the usual accusations and counter accusations of the dead victims "resisting arrest" and otherwise being blamed for their own murders. It just took Zimmerman a little longer to have his non-guilt established than an actual guy with a badge and a gun.
         What was never conclusively established was whether Zimmerman eliminated a deadly threat from that almost exclusively white gated community. What apparently was deemed non-germane was that if Zimmerman had simply stayed home or had been much less zealous in his very unofficial duties as a wannabe cop, the evening would've passed into peaceful obscurity.
         Instead, what has filtered into the narrative is the racial profiling of a President in a unique enough position to claim being racially profiled himself and being shouted down by people who have long since been driven insane with racist loathing of a black man sitting in the Oval Office by dint of popular mandate.

    Saturday, July 20, 2013

    Doubting Thomas

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

    thanks for your kind words;  think Bush was afraid I would attack in a final question; probably would have.  He is leaving two unnecessary wars, an economy in the tank and a nation shamed for abuse of prisoners-helent - Helen Thomas to the author, January 14, 2009

         Helen Thomas could be a sweetheart, provided you weren't the Leader of the Free World or one of the endless dozens of human countermeasures (aka press secretaries) sent out as sacrificial lambs to where Helen Thomas sat in the front row of the White House briefing room. She was a classic case of a nice lady who never should have smiled. Countless image safaris on Google show Thomas baring that hideous rictus that seemed tailor-made to scare small children and disingenuous press secretaries that served only to warn those who were about to lie would not be saluted by the Lebanese-American journalist from Kentucky.
         Helen Thomas passed away early this morning at 92 and, it could be said, with the sudden and suspiciously violent manner of Michael Hastings' death, America this summer lost its last two true, honest mainstream journalists. Seven years ago today, Democracy Now discussed former Fox alumnus Tony Snow essentially calling Helen Thomas an agent of Hezbollah on July 18th. It was a new low even for an administration that had gone through four press secretaries, each, it seemed, more partisan and vitriolic than the last.
         And it goes without saying Thomas' half century in White House journalism placed her in the right place at the right time, allowing to her to not only witness but report and comment on the most earthshaking events of the century: The Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Civil rights, Vietnam, the first manned lunar landing 44 years ago today, Watergate, Iran Contra, 9/11, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The list goes on.
         Not long before her forced departure from the Hearst Syndicate and mainstream journalism in general for politically incorrect but still correct remarks about the terrorist state of Israel, Thomas wrote a book I was asked by her publisher to review. It was entitled Watchdogs of Democracy, the title an almost perfect epitaph for her own career that terrorized administrations from Kennedy to Bush II (whom she'd called "the worst president in all of American history."). 
         Thomas had the level of longterm access most journalists only dream about while wistfully sighing at their I.F. Stone posters. While others in print and television journalism could claim the same level of access, none could match Thomas' durability nor her independence of thought. And Helen Thomas not only never forgot where she was in her enviable front and center position in the WH briefing room, she never forgot why she was there. As with her contentious exchange with Tony Snow, possibly the worst and most partisan press secretary in American history, over the senseless slaughter orchestrated by Israel that summer in Gaza, many of Thomas' give and take sessions with press secretaries and presidents alike often threatened to turn into policy debates.
         And the doyenne of American journalism also never forgot the role of her profession and if you're still wondering what that is, I refer you again to the title of her best book. Unlike almost all her peers, she never shied away from the liberal identity yet she never let her political sensibilities color and taint her reportage of the events of the day. She was no Hunter S. Thompson but the lady had what Hemingway once called "a built-in, shockproof bullshit detector" when she sensed one administration or another was being disingenuous with her (which is always). 
         Thomas didn't believe in access for its own sake nor did she parley her career and reputation into an opportunistic book career, like Bob Woodward, who commonly sits on facts for years on end until ready to release them in his next bestseller. She'd conducted her career with an almost blithe disregard for the consequences. In an especially infamous exchange with George W. Bush, Thomas said,
         "(Y)our decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis... and every justification for the attack proved false. Why did you really want to go to war?"
         Bush: "Blah blah blah."
         Thomas: "They didn't do anything to you, or to our country."
         Bush: "Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaida. That's where al-Qaida trained."
         Thomas: "I'm talking about Iraq." 
         The only thing that toppled Thomas from the top of the heap was in not only committing the cardinal sin of becoming the story but also in running afoul of the 11th Commandment in the postwar United States: "Thou Shalt Not Criticize Israel." When questioned by a partisan rabbi looking for a Gotcha moment, he got it when Thomas said that "Israel should get the hell out of Palestine" and go home to Germany, Poland or the United States.
         Before the old girl knew it, she was on the ash heap of a history for which she'd written better than a first draft. Toward the end of her life, she was writing for a free newspaper with a circulation of 25,000, print journalism's answer to post-ESPN/post-Fox/post-MSNBC/post-Current TV's Keith Olbermann. In the epigraph above, Helen Thomas had graciously responded to my question of how she'd felt about being snubbed by Bush at his last presser and she made no bones about the fact that Bush was wary of her. The lady deserved all the respect in the world but, if disrespect is the surest sign from Big Government that you're doing your job, she deserved that even more.
         And if there's a heaven, I'd like to think Hunter S. Thompson, Molly Ivins and Michael Hastings have made sure to reserve space for Helen at God's next press conference, where we can rest assured she will put the Supreme Deity's feet to the fire by asking questions such as, "Seriously? 40 days and 40 nights of rain over a small city that indulged in sin that never hurt us?"

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    It's That Time of the Month Again

         Or what passes for it at our age.
         It's currently 98 degrees in Massachusetts, about 10 degrees higher than Mrs. JP's old stomping grounds of Vero Beach, Florida, if you can believe that. Cheapskate that I am, yours truly couldn't hold out any longer and recently set up the trusty little 3700 BTU AC in the bedroom window. But even that's going to drive up our electric bill since we have to run it at least 12 hours a day. And that's not going to help with the rent due in less than two weeks.
         So any assistance you guys can offer between now and then will be greatly appreciated. I know I've been lax in my blogging duties but my Diogenes-esque job search and working like mad on Tatterdemalion pretty much drains me of whatever time and energy ordinarily available to me. However, I'll try to update this place more often.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    B37, 42 and 44

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

         I saw 42, the movie about Jackie Robinson, for the first time last night. And in the scene where Robinson gets to Florida for the first time just before spring training where he tries out for the Montreal Monarchs, Sanford is mentioned. Sanford, in real life, is where Branch Rickey had situated Robinson, specifically in the home of an African American community leader and when Sanford was mentioned for the first time, exactly 72 hours after the verdict came in, klaxxon alarms, understandably, began ringing in my head.
         Of course, the filmmakers couldn't have possibly have known Sanford would have much more than a historical significance. Odds are 42 was filmed after the Trayvon Martin shooting but at the time it's plausible to assume the filmmakers were more concerned with their craft or were unaware of the highly polarized George Zimmerman shooting and the current notoriety or infamy it would revisit on Sanford.
         The historical record of 1947 is quite clear. While Mr. Robinson was taking the first tentative steps toward breaking MLB's color barrier, residents in Sanford were relaying unmistakable messages to both Robinson and his host that the residents didn't appreciate him rocking the boat and living in their town. Eventually, Robinson had to be whisked out of Sanford in the dead of night after being warned that some (obviously white) angry residents were on their way to express their displeasure (At this point, I actually muttered to myself, "And one of them is George Zimmerman."). The racist backlash was so toxic the Brooklyn Dodgers had to relocate the site of their spring training facility to some place less polarized (no mean feat, considering this is postwar Florida we're talking about).
         Juror #B37 made it plain on Anderson Cooper 360 last Monday that she is a supremely ignorant and stupendously racist woman who is so clueless and lives such a hermetic existence she's not even aware of her own racism. Being a racist in today's "enlightened" America is like being a carrier of a virulent, communicable disease. You're infected with this highly infectious disease, are certainly in a position to give it to others yet you yourself are not afflicted with any of the classic symptoms (such as riding through black neighborhoods in the dead of night wearing white robes and hoods and burning crosses on front yards) and are, therefore, comfortably assuming you are post-racial.
         But President Obama's historic election and reelection have proven us anything but post-racial. Gun and ammo sales, as we now know, have skyrocketed after the last two Super Tuesdays partly due to white James Earl Ray fantasies and partly in response to NRA and right wing propaganda that Obama wants to take away all their guns.
         And Barack Obama is in a unique position to bring national attention to the reverse kangaroo court of a ruling that sprung a murderer. Barack Obama is not only our only president but he's also the nation's first African American president. When Prof. Henry Louis Gates was arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts before his house four years ago yesterday for the crime of trying to enter his home while black, it was the result of white overreach and law enforcement mission creep that turned a ridiculous case of white suburban paranoia and/or mistaken identity into a major civil rights violation on the person of who is arguably the most distinguished African American professor in the United States.
         Still, no one was hurt and Prof. Gates was eventually released after being charged with contempt of cop yet Barack Obama had no problem elevating this travesty to the presidential level by calling the Cambridge Police Department's actions (or reactions) "stupid." He elevated it yet another level by inviting the racist white cop who'd arrested Gates and Prof. Gates himself for a beer with himself and Vice President Biden, as if a black man and a white man having a beer in a tightly secure and controlled environment would cure America of racism.
         George Zimmerman, and countless others, have since proven that, to paraphrase the old beer slogan, "Out of the darkness comes more darkness and, in it, the things we ignore and fear will be there."
         Such as our fear of being racists despite our best and most carefully constructed delusions. And it boggles the mind why the President felt the need to get personally involved with an incident that, while certainly egregious and unforgivably disrespectful to Prof. Gates, involved no death and no spilling of blood while remaining saturnine over the entire Zimmerman trial and bad joke of a verdict in which an innocent African American boy two weeks past his 17th birthday was gunned down as if he was a rabid dog.
         In short, why didn't Obama play the race card when he could've done so much more effectively than he had in the wake of the Gates incident? True, his Justice Department, whether at the President's behest or not, is revisiting the Zimmerman verdict and are investigating whether Zimmerman can be tried on federal civil rights charges that theoretically could involve the death penalty. But it's not the same thing as the President lamely saying, "The jury has spoken, justice has been served, blah blah blah."

    The Potential Gangbanger is in the Grass
         To revisit Juror B37 for a few minutes, her comments on Anderson Cooper's show (links to both halves here and here) on CNN left many laymen and even legal minds scratching their heads wondering how such a shockingly idiotic and willfully ignorant woman got on the jury. In fact, some have openly speculated the prosecution deliberately took a dive like a punch drunk club fighter with mob creditors. Each side had six preemptory challenges to use among the dozens of jurors they'd interviewed during the voire dire process. Yet, a careful auditing of Juror B37's answers to the questions revealed how woefully insufficient this woman was to assume the burden of jury duty in a murder trial. She displayed a hostility to the press (which apparently didn't extend to CNN in the interests of publicizing her unwritten book that, amazingly, got her a literary agent mere hours after the verdict), a willful ignorance bordering on the prideful and an inability to distinguish a rally from an actual riot in her own town. Indeed, if Juror B37 didn't merit a preemptory challenge, that may speak volumes of the unfitness of the others who were rejected.
         On Cooper's show, she even showed an ongoing ignorance despite being privy to many of the facts of the case made known only to her fellow jurors and the litigants. Yet, despite this level of disclosure, she still insists the Sanford police dispatcher told Zimmerman to leave his SUV and pursue Martin when in fact the opposite was said. She still, to this day, believes Trayvon Martin was shot late at night and more than hinted he brought on his own murder by walking around a strange neighborhood at night when blacks should know better. Sanford is a sundown town and always will be one and that's just the way it is and the way it always should be to Juror B37. (Fact: Zimmerman began stalking Martin around 7 PM, not late at night, not that the hour should've made any difference.) Keep in mind, this is a woman who imagined phantom riots by uppity blacks yet was disturbingly undisturbed over the killing of a black boy so young just down the street. 
         Furthermore, she seemed blithely undisturbed by the massive holes in Zimmerman's story, not the least of which was Martin hiding in the bushes and rushing him (a quick peek at the crime scene photos shown to all the jurors just before their deliberations plainly reveals no such bushes exist in that part of the gated community). To add insult to injury, she even told Cooper she'd be happy to have Zimmerman doing her own neighborhood watch. It's hard to believe anyone could become a fan of George Zimmerman after just a couple of weeks at close quarters with the man but to believe one could be so pro-Zimmerman after that space of time more strongly suggests a preexisting bias that wasn't admitted to during the voire dire process.
         And, the very fact she reached out to literary agent Sharlene Martin within hours of the verdict indisputably proved her first instinct was not to get on with her life or even resume the tending of her precious rescue birds but making a quick buck off of Trayvon Martin's death, a get-rich-quick scheme which her execrable and shockingly unscrupulous literary agent for all of a day was only too glad, willing, ready and able to realize (and which the MSM was only happy to assist in by breathlessly reporting on a non-existent book deal for the 14 hours the story was still alive.).
         And now the Bird Lady of Sanford is becoming so reviled and ridiculed, Twitter users can justifiably pat themselves on the back for scuttling this book project before a word had ever been written (Where, O where was the Blue Bird of Public Opinion before The Bridges of Madison County and Brad Thor?). And a letter has been drafted and circulated by four of the five other jurors publicly distancing themselves from B37 and her odious comments.
         As always, those interested in justice, the people at the grass roots level, are right and the authorities are wrong. As John Oliver said on the Daily Show recently, the problem was not that the system in Florida was broken but that the system as crafted by right wingers and ALEC worked perfectly for Zimmerman and against Martin. The only people at the grass roots level that are wrong about this are the right wingers who have nothing at stake and have no business getting involved other than the President briefly mentioning the case and that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. If there's anything that scares white people, it's black people getting organized and mobilized (or, in the mindset of Juror B37, "rioting."). Selma and Birmingham in the mid-60's proved that.
         Otherwise, Presidents Obama and Jimmy Carter, both Democrats, failed Trayvon Martin. The half-assed and half-hearted prosecution failed Trayvon Martin. The mainstream media failed Trayvon Martin. And, lastly, while those of us opposed to racial bigotry are on the side of the angels on this one, we also failed Trayvon Martin for making it possible for racist lunatics such as George Zimmerman to get his hands on a gun and to use it to murder with impunity an innocent child armed with nothing more dangerous than processed sugar.

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    From Trayvon to Sharlene

         Being a writer of no mean talent, it outraged me, as I'm sure it had other real writers, that Juror B37, as she's been dubbed, got signed by a literary agent within hours of last Saturday's verdict. The turnaround time between the jury's verdict being read and the announcement of this deal was breathless and audacious even for a nation of money-grubbing, sociopathic opportunists like the United States. Sharlene Martin's catapulting of her body from Seattle to Florida would've made an ambulance-chasing shyster green with envy.
         It seemed to be yet another case of yet another literary agent signing yet another moron to a book deal and risibly trying to get us to believe they'd actually write their own book and not have it written for them through an appointed ghost writing hack, like W's, Sarah Palin's, Christine O'Donnell's and so many others while real writers of real talent who really write their own books continue getting form rejections from flunkies.
         Then, just 14 hours after this "coup", we saw this on Twitter:

         Yeah, sometimes the clouds do part, the demons retreat back into their smoking, glowing fissures and sometimes common sense prevails or at least seems to. Because, just before Sharlene Martin, literary agent provocateur, made her heavily retweeted communique on Twitter, this emerged from her client, Juror B37:

         Hm. Sounds to me as if the client rescinded the agent and not vice versa. Perhaps it had something to do with the enormous online backlash after Juror B37's Sarah Palin-class Hindenburg of an interview with Anderson Cooper on AC360. Either way I guess America's most infamous anonymous juror realized the 15 minutes of bright lights weren't for her. Or maybe Sharlene Martin honestly realized what a disaster in the making such a professional association would involve. Or maybe Martin realized she'd leaped before she looked and remembered Paula Deen and how difficult it is to sell a book these days by a racist whose name isn't Rush Limbaugh.
         Because Juror B37 and her unbelievably stupid comments about "boy of color" Trayvon Martin and that she honestly believed the police dispatcher wanted Zimmerman to pursue Martin pretty much branded her as a racist, an inattentive moron and possibly guilty of compromising the jury. Note the part where she says, "The potential book was always intended to be a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband's perspectives solely..."
         Was she in touch with her husband while the jury was sequestered?
         We'll never know the full reasons for the pulling of the plug even before the ventilators began any more than we'll know how a jury of six women could be so divided (Two wanted manslaughter charges and one wanted a murder two conviction) yet turn into a unanimous acquittal. But literary agents such as Charlene Martin are chiefly responsible for not only the tawdry state of affairs in publishing but are symptomatic of the moral rot that's hollowing out this once-great nation.
         I would've gotten physically ill if I'd heard that George Zimmerman got signed by a literary agent. But at some point one must accept some moral rot and opportunism is to be expected in this free market-dominated nation of ours and, in a twisted way, it would've made sense. Zimmerman, after all, was the defendant in one of the most sensational murder trials of the year. It would've made greater sense to approach the Martins (Trayvon's parents) with a book deal and offer of representation so they could offer their thoughts on the trial and son's murder.
         But no. Sharlene Martin essentially hurtled her body, pen and contract in hand, all the way to Florida to sign one of six jurors who, I think we can be reasonably assured, is the stupidest and most racist one on the whole jury. It shows that even when following those brutally insensitive instincts for opportunity, some agents don't even aim high and are content to pursue the tawdriest, sleaziest book deal imaginable.
         She could've approached the grieving parents, had a ghost writer with some integrity turn their thoughts and feelings into a lasting work that virtually any publisher outside of Regnery or Threshold would've been proud to put out. Instead, Sharlene Martin, the most loathed literary agent on the planet today (which is quite a feat, considering) chose to aim for the cheapest, most sensational flash-in-the-pan imaginable, so her client could get a huge advance that wouldn't have a prayer of earning itself out, so she could get 15% of that and, in the process, becoming yet another scum to capitalize on Trayvon Martin's murder.

    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    Hey, George Zimmerman!

         You just got away with murder! Where are you going to go next?
         "I'm going to Paula Deen's Lady and Sons Restaurant!"
         Now that Trayvon Martin's rotting corpse has been convicted of Walking While Black, what are we to learn about the criminal justice system in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave?
         Well, first of all, we've learned that hulking white men with guns and a criminal record of violence can stalk, accost, assault and kill unarmed black youths in Florida, use the Stand Your Ground law (Thank you, Jeb) and get away with it. Secondly, it also proves the same law that's been successfully used in that same state by old white men with erectile dysfunction doesn't necessarily apply to black women who don't kill anyone but merely fire warning shots in a wall to scare off an ex who'd violated a restraining order and broke into her home.
         And that, if you're in Texas, you can use the even more NRA-friendly "Shoot to Kill to Get Your Whoring Money Back" law.
         George Zimmerman's acquittal last night by a jury of six women shows that laws and One Size Fits All mandatory sentencing can not only be perverted and twisted but that such contortions are almost invariably predicated on purely racial lines.
         Let's take stock from the travesties we've seen just this past summer: George Zimmerman, a large white man, stalked and shot to death an unarmed African American youth who had both hands occupied with Arizona Iced Tea, Skittles and a cell phone. The boy was on his way back to his father's house after a trip to a convenience store and was going to continue watching a football game. Zimmerman, a self-appointed vigilante (NOT a "neighborhood watch captain", as it's been wearisomely reported in the MSM, especially ABC News), called the police and was told by the dispatcher to stand down.
         He then accosted the youth, who was understandably alarmed a white man with a gun who wasn't a cop was following him and acting in a confrontational, hostile and threatening manner, defended himself when Zimmerman assaulted him. The corporate mainstream media, as per its usual standards, then decided to give credence to racists and NRA gun nuts (not that there's any degree of separation between them) by trying Trayvon in the media for being a thug, a tactic used successfully by Zimmerman's attorney, Don "Knock Knock" West.
         We were treated to pictures of guns on Martin's cell phone, Martin's middle finger, Martin in a hoodie, Martin's gold tooth caps, Martin's alleged hostility on the day of his death, Martin smoking pot. Yet, we'd heard precious little about Zimmerman's history of racism, domestic violence and attitude problem toward law enforcement. It was plain that the MSM, which will always portray black people as perpetrators both real and imagined and almost never as victims, put Martin on trial in the court of public opinion.
         And a jury of Zimmerman's peers decided a large vigilante with a gun is justified in killing an unarmed teenager as long as he gets to wave the "I was in fear of my life" defense.
         Earlier this summer, Marissa Alexander had gotten a restraining order on her abusive ex husband just nine days after having his child. He'd broken into her home and in the process, violated a restraining order and began acting in a hostile manner. Marissa, after repeated attempts get him to leave, then grabbed her pistol and fired a warning shot into a wall.
         The jury took all of 12 minutes to convict the black woman, who then automatically got 20 years under Jeb Bush's 10/20 mandatory sentencing laws that were originally written for liquor store robbers and spree killers, not single mothers fearing, like Zimmerman allegedly was, for their lives.
         ALEC and the Koch brothers have Trayvon's blood on their hands for the bottomlessly absurd and endlessly despicable Stand Your Ground laws, another wonderful legacy from Jeb, that have essentially been successfully used by white racists such as Zimmerman while being denied that defense by people of color. Stand Your Ground, and the Zimmerman exoneration, have essentially declared open season on African Americans who may think about breaking an unwritten law in Florida now known as "Walking While Black."

    Addendum:  Mrs. JP reminds me that Stand Your Ground was not invoked in the Zimmerman defense, a fact of which I should've been cognizant as that fact was reported in the NY Times last month.

    Friday, July 12, 2013

    You Incomplete Me



                

                At this point, I don’t give a damn if the word “incomplete” cannot be used as a verb. If “complete” as in the endlessly sappy, “You complete me” can be a verb in that context, so can “incomplete” in “you incomplete me.” It perfectly describes how I’m feeling about the world and the people who populate it in general. So if that and the excessively captiousness of this disappoints you, consider it a down payment on all the disappointment to which I’ve been subjected over the span of the first 54 years of my life.
                And if I am querulous, just consider this the long-delayed rant if you will of a man who throughout his entire life had played by the rules of self-interested and self-dealing individuals and corporations that had never intended to play by the rules and had intended, instead, to keep all the marbles for themselves while forcing us to doom ourselves to failure and mediocrity. Others too high up on the food chain to even glimpse had made the rules but, being the lemmings we as a species are, we allowed this status quo to go unchallenged.
                Ergo, if I complain too much, it will at the very least be proof of one man’s outrage that these various and sundry crimes against humanity both great and small have remained unchallenged and that I still possess a sense of how things should be (and once were). Consider this a failed attempt to exhaustively enumerate the people and institutions that have continued to make and keep miserable the lives of billions of humans, starting with me. I know fully well this far from exhaustive list will go largely ignored as with everything else I write but I keep thinking of the old adage of the only failure being a failure to try to change things.
                What follows is a list of the things that have disappointed me both during my life in both a past and a present tense with no thought as to chronology or levels of disappointment.

    1)      My government disappointments me most of all. Mark Twain once said, “I support my country 100% of the time and my government only when it deserves it.” My love and support for my country has been forced into the theoretical and conditional, which is to say I support what America used to be. Our government extracts taxes from us when no provision in the US Constitution allows it to do so (income taxes weren’t a reality until Franklin Roosevelt’s time in the 1930’s). Yet despite harvesting billions each year in taxes from people generally below the 1%, our government gives vast sums of money of money every year to militaristic regimes such as Israel, tens of millions to bi-polar puppet dictators such as Hamid Karzai, to war profiteers that openly lobby for no-bid, cost-plus contracts and war against nations that do not threaten us in the least. We pay the government to spy on us, to kill us, to round us up and detain us without charge because the self-dealing USA PATRIOT Act allows them to. Our government is so shockingly corrupt that lawmakers in our nation’s capital wouldn’t know what or how to vote on anything if it wasn’t for lobbyists to tell them. K Street, the epicenter of Washington lobbyists, has become the fourth branch of government and the third chamber of Congress.
    2)      The corporate mainstream media disappoint me. If it were merely utterly worthless, it could at least have the redeeming feature of not actually destroying democracy. Our media, however, is not merely useless as it helps to maintain the furtiveness and secretiveness of one administration after another, regardless of party, to launch its countless evils against our people. Because it’s all about access and to hell with informing the American people. The media are supposed to be the watchdog of democracy, the buffer and responsible filter between us and our elected officials, the entity that is mandated by social compact to be our eyes and ears. Instead, what we see is a media that consider African Americans only when they’re suspects but hardly ever victims. Missing black children hardly ever get reported on with even a tenth of the attention, air time and ink of a Jon Benet Ramsay or Natalie Holloway. Yet whenever a white person commits a heinous, capital crime and blames a nonexistent black man, the media are all over it. In the wake of tragedies such as the Boston bombings, the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, the bitumen spill in Mayflower, AR, just to name three very recent examples, they always get the facts wrong because providing copy is paramount with no thought whatsoever paid to whether or not it’s correct. This is why incorrect names, ages and other very basic information get vomited to the American public then changed with rarely any disclosure. It’s all about blabbing, blabbing, blabbing and who cares if the dead suspect is really dead, the perpetrator really black or even exists? Just keep feeding us bullshit to keep the TVs on and the pages turning. Like Winston Smith, they can always change shit without even acknowledging it. Yet, the media get arch and arrogant at the very hint of criticism for the horrible way in which they do their jobs and at the very thought that conscientious citizen journalists can do a much better job of it without the access, sources and resources they enjoy.
    3)      Literary agents. I wish you all would just die or, failing that, get jobs slinging hash or pumping gas in Hoboken. You are the greatest pox on literature since the book-burning Nazi party. The difference is, the Nazis merely burned books that had already been published, when they’d already become part of the public record. The fascist book-burnings were symbolic only and changed nothing. You are worse than the fascists because you kill the dreams of the truly talented and prevent many, many worthy books from getting published in your pursuit of money and career advancement. You treat shockingly brilliant and original writers like me as if we were dog shit under your Ferragamos and self-deal sets of stringent rules you then choose not to abide by. You demand to be addressed by name yet when appealed to by those obeying those one-sided rules, you then order a flunky to send off a disrespectful form rejection letter with the salutation “Dear Writer” or “Dear Author” without having read even a word of the property itself. You do not get to bitch and moan about getting over 300 submissions a week. This is the life you chose, the career you pursued, this is what you do for a living. We write and send of proposals in our spare time. Literally 90-95% of the time, you fail to place the adult fiction you d take on, a mortality rate that nonetheless wakes up or alarms no one and you are just as much a necessary evil as you were 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. You are stupid, you are greedy, you are self-absorbed, you are killing the literacy quotient of this once-great country. Please die. Immediately, if not sooner. (Post scriptum: The guy who makes the 15% is the hired help, not the boss. Know your role and act accordingly.)
    4)      NASA (Never A Straight Answer), stop airbrushing, smudging or digitizing photographs of towers, statues, cities and other anomalies your probes and rovers have taken of the moon, Mars and elsewhere. We know and have known for decades that there is other intelligent life out there. Your ineptly fascist attempts to obscure evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence in our universe just make you look as pitiful and desperate as the Nazis, Communists and other totalitarian regimes of the past. We pay you through our tax dollars to explore the universe and report the results. We do not pay you to lie to us for decades on end. Trust me, we can handle the truth. In fact, the only thing that keeps many of us going is the dream and hope that there are others more intelligent than us who can rescue us from fascist twats like you.
    5)      Amazon, like literary agents, please die and get out of our lives. For centuries, we’d written, published and distributed books without your help. New publishing and marketing technology and trends may be emerging but you are needlessly changing for the worse a business model that had worked since the 15th century. You brutally exploit your own temp workers, you undercut publishers and indie authors, you crush competition and have put countless thousands of bookstore employees out of work. Your DRM is a joke, you capriciously suspend and outright ban for life your customer base and authors for merely doing what was expected of them in publicizing their own books. As with literary agents and publishers, you are a pox on the publishing industry and Jeff Bezos seriously needs to get back on his little salvage boat and play the retired rich man looking for shipwrecks and leave the actual publishing, writing, marketing and distribution to those who know how to do it.
    6)      Republicans: If you cannot operate much above the mental Mendoza line, please get out of the way of the human race whose natural inclination is to evolve and progress beyond the primordial ooze into which you are daily trying to drag us. You are misogynists, racists, homophobes, hypocrites, you are stupid, willfully misinformed, mean-spirited and greedy. You Republicans and conservatives have held back the human race for so long it is amazing you are still a major political party and have not been all backed against a wall and shot like third world dictators. Despite a long, unbroken track record of catastrophic failure, you have successfully risen to high office and led us in one needless fruitless war after another without having the courage to fight in those wars or send whatever few loved ones in your circle to fight those wars. You create deficits, debts, corpses and otherwise push your notions of morality on us without having the slightest concept of what morality truly is. You bully the opposition regardless of how deservedly tiny your presence is on Capitol Hill and often get your way because we are a nation of several hundred bullies and hundreds of millions of willing victims. I would have every single one of you executed for war crimes and human rights abuses were it not for the sad reality that for some maddeningly sadistic reason, whatever passes for a God would continue making more sociopathic, solipsistic, self-centered psychopaths in your mold.
    7)      Democrats: If you cannot ably represent the poor, easily-duped saps that keep electing and re-electing you, please also get out of the way and make room for those who can and will. For every Elizabeth Warren or Ted Kennedy, there are dozens of Max Baucuses or Joe Manchins. For every Alan Grayson, there are literally hundreds of corrupt sons of Blue Dog bitches humping the leg of one giant bank or corporation or another. You are spineless, gutless, penisless and largely brainless. When it rains upon you, it is JFK and FDR pissing all over you.

    Thursday, July 4, 2013

    Independence Day?



         For 237 years, we've been pretending we're the freest nation on earth and predicating our unique arrogance (that finds its most obnoxious expression in the state of Texas) on this seriously misguided conception. Redneck states pretend they're still independent from the Union and fly their piss yellow Gadsden and Confederate flags, the rest of us trot out our faded and tattered Old Glories in the breeze between June 14th and July 4th and leave them to flutter like a heart afflicted with PVC's.
         Then we kill brain cells by drinking barrels and kegs of beer, shoving dead, barbecued animal parts in our mouths and pride ourselves on our freedoms and paying no attention whatsoever to the fact that the last two administrations, especially the current one, has been systematically stripping inalienable rights from us like a horny date on prom night and replacing them with conditional privileges that have to be earned. We've been roofied, plain and simple, and our stubborn sense of denial is literally the only thing keeping this country from turning into Brazil or Egypt. Which, now that I think about it, wouldn't be such a bad fucking thing.
         It is the delusion we're still the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave as our jingoistic national songs keep piously telling us even as Barack Obama and your Congress made it illegal for you to exercise your First Amendment rights by protesting near a federal building or anyone within a parsec who may have Secret Service protection. We have drones flying over our streets in some James Cameron nightmare-come-true listening in on us as is the NSA through the patriotic efforts of Yahoo, Google, Microsoft,. Skype, Facebook and every other internet behemoth on the planet earth.
         We keep telling ourselves we've moved beyond slavery and indentured servitude even as the kids who'd voted for Obama five years ago have since graduated from college and found out the job promised them on earning their sheepskin was farmed out through one "trade agreement" or another to some guy working in a dark, crowded office with other brown people making a small fraction of what you were promised. We keep telling ourselves slavery was abolished with the 13th amendment in 1865 even as we continue to aid and abet corporate slavery and the sweatshops they maintain that get people killed by buying crap we used to make in this country. And those kids just getting out of college have gotten out only to find themselves $80,000 in debt for the next several decades of their lives and no realistic way to pay it off because federal loans were pushed on them and their parents four years ago while their Pell grants were put in the crosshairs of the Republicans.
         We keep telling ourselves, "You've come a long way, baby!" even as Texas and other Republican-dominated states put women's basic rights under fire all in the name of decency and pretending this is what their constituents want and violate parliamentary law to pass these misogynistic measures.
         We keep telling ourselves we all have the right to say, write, think and feel whatever we want, which technically is true but while our smiling fascist president keeps telling us, "Oh, no, we're not spying on your phone calls, your email, your internet travels and your snail mail", let me make one thing perfectly clear: You still have freedom of speech but be prepared to reap the whirlwind because freedom, as our government hastens to remind us, is messy and comes at a price.
         So while you keep telling yourselves that we've successfully maintained the ideals of the Founding Fathers 237 years ago that guaranteed us freedom from a foreign tyranny without once taking into account the domestic kind, while you keep stubbornly repeating those talking points that maintain our sanity as we're frisked and searched at sporting stadiums and airports, as your 4th of July has been completely taken away by townships scared shitless of sparklers and beer, try to remember where Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are spending their Independence days. Pray for the ETs to finally wake up and come down from on high and set this miserable planet straight.
         Because, left to our own devices, I see absolutely no reversal of these fascist trends that creep up on us and no capacity for the human race outside of Brazil and Egypt to even begin reversing those fascist trends.

    KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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