Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Assclowns of the Year #3

     (Originally, this was to be the top 50 Assclowns of the Year then I scaled it down to the top 25. But I've had so many headaches lately with my publisher Create Space, which is manufacturing problems for me that's preventing me from even getting a galley proof of TATTERDEMALION printed, that I just don't any time for blogging. Add to those needless headaches life ganging up on me all at once and having to take care of annual and biennial obligations without an income. So please accept this normal-sized Assclowns feature, the ten profiles that I barely had time to write since last fall.)
     Living in America these days is like being on a merry-go-round with a nitrous oxide tank attached to it as ride attendant Rob Ford is smoking crack while getting a blow job. This year, we’ve seen a noticeable escalation in the silliness, immaturity, venality, hatred and utter lack of accountability of certain figures who honestly do not know why their pronouncements and actions make them so reviled. And these people just happen to be the wealthiest, most beloved and powerful people on earth. Indeed, if any one year in American history proves we are the prequel for Idiocracy, it would’ve had to be 2013.

      10) Craig Cobb
    Neo Nazi white supremacist Craig Cobb, possibly the most hateful, and hated, man in America, is a caricature, an embittered little old man representing a virtually bygone age that wheezes on only in the withered semi-cadavers of Fred Phelps, Rush Limbaugh and himself. That's why this man is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving, because when you live your life like a politically-incorrect human cartoon, you're going to get hit with the slings and arrows of irony on a nearly daily basis. Cobb first got on the national radar by unsuccessfully trying to establish a white supremacist enclave in Idaho. Last November, when Cobb, after finding out he was 14% African American, according to a DNA test, became himself the target of racism.
     Then, in order to cover up for his buddies (and for his mortal embarrassment at being given the Jim Crow treatment), Cobb went on a faux rampage, shotgun in hand, pretending to go gunning for his neighbors who were harassing him. He was arrested and hit with three terrorism charges because he refused to admit he was the victim of racial discrimination. Maybe Cobb can call the NAACP. Maybe they'll offer him 14% of their legal services.
 

9) Yahoo


     Last October, Yahoo rudely and arrogantly forced on its users a "feature-rich" "upgrade" to an email program that already worked beautifully. Among the features that richly stud this Gmail-derived turd like undigested corn kernels is the complete disappearance of photo albums, the inability to open attachments and being forced to download them, their inexplicable refusal to allow us to read more than one email at a time and the new font is some irritating bastardization of Comic Sans. In short, Yahoo spent countless millions taking a perfectly functional email client from the 90's and making it slower, less feature-rich and more primitive than ever. In fact, Yahoo's email is so horrible, an internal memo reveals its own employees refuse to use it. Its users are restricted to five "votes", meaning after your fifth complaint, you're cut off. But, hey, it ain't a total loss. Just before this, Yahoo spent another gazillion bazillion dollars to make their new, stupid little logo move and jump around. Yahoo has yet to respond to questions and complaints, not because they're arrogant but because they can't open their emails, either.
     School and workplace shootings are horrible, obviously, but one is mystified why this has yet to happen at Yahoo's engineering department. Yes, the new email is that incredibly bad. Think of the New Coke, Pepsi Clear and Linkin Park's followup album, multiply those by a factor of ten thousand and you'll then have an adequate appreciation of the sheer suckitude of this, the worst of countless horrible internet domain "upgrades" that plagued 2013. 
 

8) Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
     Imagine Chris Christie on crack and you'd have Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. 
     After a deleted but resurrected video broke last fall of Ford smoking crack cocaine (he'd denied it at first) and that he'd personally bought it, Ford seemed to contritely apologize then, before anyone knew it, this Canadian then appeared on Fox "News" in which he'd inveighed against Obama and the ACA (largely because of this, Bill O'Reilly pronounced him "an OK guy."). SNL thought he was such a joke, they'd lampooned Ford two weeks running (God, it's a shame Chris Farley wasn't still alive). This walking Hindenburg is so out of control and so incompetent the Toronto City Council stripped him of most of his powers. And in the middle of all this, Ford then flew into a rage and nearly bowled over an elderly lady Councilwoman.
     Ford is of some historical importance. Because of him, most disillusioned Americans are, for the first time glad they're not Canadian.


7) Richard Blum & Sen. Dianne Feinstein
     Largely flying under the radar is Richard Blum, the parasitic husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who'd made a tidy profit buying up post offices for a song and a dance through some Goldman Sachs-owned real estate firm called CBRE. These revelations, and many more, were the result of a years-long investigation by Peter Byrne, who'd summarized his findings in a little ebook called Going Postal. Feinstein, an entrenched Blue Dog who's vehemently supported the NSA, had also lobbied the Postmaster General to OK deals that, just by coincidence, would've involved her husband's predatory company.
     The story begins in 2006, when the shockingly corrupt 109th Congress passed a bullshit law mandating the postal service pay their pensions 75 years into the future (Meaning, they have to pay the pensions of those who aren't even born, yet). This caused 80% of their deficit so, in order to get cash liquidity, they then gave exclusive rights to buy up Postal Service property to Blum's CBRE. They naively thought they were going to get at least fair market value when they began selling off post offices. Instead, they found themselves dealing with a Bain Capital-like entity that not only snatched up these local post offices for cheap, they also saddled the same entity that gave them these exclusive rights with commission fees reaching up to 6%, further bleeding the USPS, and us, dry. And to rub salt in the wound, they're now engaging in union-busting in nearly 100 locations.
     What eludes me is 1) why does Blum's CBRE have exclusive rights to buy up post offices when the Postal Service hasn't officially been privatized and 2) why had the Postal Service given CBRE exclusive rights in 2011 when they should've known what would happen and where did their authority to do so come from? Whatever the answer, it's been estimated that Blum and Feinstein stand to scarf up a billion dollar slice from the $85 billion postal pie that's being bought and sold through collusive, legally questionable and highly unethical scumbag deals that involves Feinstein abusing her office for her own enrichment. Feinstein needs to be impeached for this and her husband thrown in prison. We should send her her walking papers, C.O.D., of course.


6) The NSA


     From hiring 15 year-old interns to spy on their parents a la 1984 to recruiting internet behemoths to spy on our online activities through XKeyscore to hacking into World of Warcraft and Second Life, snooping on ex-lovers with NSA resources to spying on our own allies, the National Security Agency (aka Nazis Surveil Anyone) had, justifiably, gotten its fair share last year of ink and air time. And the ironic thing is, these out-of-control fascists didn't even need Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald for all that bad press. The NSA's chief Keith Alexander said at Black Hat last August that all this butt-fucking of what used to be the 4th amendment is all necessary since it resulted in the NSA foiling 54 terrorist attacks (without, ahem, the general being able to prove the existence of virtually any of them).
     Indeed, it seems these fascist twats are using George Orwell's 1984 as a playbook.



5) CBS

     Substituting South African music for Toto's "Africa" during Nelson Mandela's tribute last month was actually the least egregious of CBS's many crimes against journalism and good taste in 2013. Chiefest among these many journalistic fuckups was a 60 Minutes report on Benghazi that was so deeply flawed and factually compromised it bordered on parody, forcing Lara Logan into a paid leave. Their first mistake was in not vetting Dylan Davies, a security contractor who claimed to be there and to have fought off the Libyan rebels when he wasn't in reality there, as he'd told his employers, the State Dept. and the FBI. But CBS wasn't the only one to short-stroke this sick fantasy of the GOP: CBS-owned Threshold Editions, the right wing imprint of Simon & Schuster, also got punked and gave this lying piece of shit a book deal that they'd rescinded two days after publication. To make matters worse, when CBS put on their version of Curveball, they never disclosed to the public their own right wing imprint was publishing this guy's false chest hair account.
     Meanwhile, Dan Rather, Mary Mapes and three other producers are still fired for correctly reporting on George W. Bush's parttime escapades in 2004 with the Texas Air National Guard and 60 Minutes II, which aired the report, has yet to make a comeback.

 
4) Richard Cohen
     Last November 11th, the WaPo posted this article by Richard Cohen (who used to be a liberal), supposedly with editorial scrutiny:
"People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?)"
     Oh, no, gagging at the thought of the races mixing and mating aren't racist views, they're merely "conventional."  Oh, is that a whine I hear in the background? Oh my, we're lynching him by using his own words against him.

3) McDonald's
 
     If any US corporation rivaled Walmart last year for sheer corporate avarice, savage cluelessness and for just being out of touch, it would have to be McDonald's. Their McResource website actually said that employees should get on Medicare and food stamps to make ends meet, while providing a sample budget that allows for $0 to be spent on heating and $20 a month for health care. Oh, yeah, the sample budget also stipulated you needed to work two fulltime jobs just to live this frugally.
     Then, last year just before Thanksgiving, McDonald's McResource website suggested, "breaking food" into smaller pieces to give the illusion of being full and returning unopened Xmas gifts. Wait, it actually gets worse. By November, they actually made this page even more hilarious and like something out of the Onion by then giving their minimum wage-earning employees tips on how to give tips. And not just tips to waitstaff but tips to personal fitness trainers, pool cleaners, salon staff and au pairs. The inspiration, blamed on their third party vendor, came from Emily Post, who was writing etiquette books nearly a century ago.
     After media attention and public scrutiny, McDick's finally took down the site, blaming everyone but their rapacious executives for "unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate comments." No doubt, if it had stayed up much longer, it would've offered suggestions for their $7.25 an hour drones in how to tackle first world problems like setting up offshore accounts in the Grand Caymans and car elevator maintenance.

2) Sarah Palin
     From real life.
     From Idiocracy. 

     I'm sensing more than just a pattern. I'm sensing prescience.

1) Hawaii State Rep. Tom Brower
 
     Maybe this clown thinks he's the Buford Pusser of the homeless community. Five term State Rep. Tom Brower has put the "trolling" in "patrolling" by marching up and down the streets of Honolulu looking for shopping carts and the possessions of the homeless to smash with his sledgehammer. All of which does nothing toward actually solving the problem of homelessness.
     Oh, by the way, this guy calls himself a Democrat.
     And this local Hawaiian TV station immediately gets it wrong right out of the gate by seriously asking, "Does it help or hurt?" and actually holding a poll to arrive at an answer to a debate that shouldn't even be a debate. So why is it OK to smash and destroy the property of the homeless and Occupy Wall Street while even merely protesting corporate greed has been criminalized?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If I Had a Hammer...

     ...I swear, I'd bury it halfway to the handle in every right wing nut job's thick skull.
     The next time one of the sons or daughters of Ronald Reagan accuses the left of incivility when one of their own war-mongering, tax-dodging icons shits the bed, think of asswipes like Grover Norquist jiggling his pudgy body in a spastic jig over the undug grave of progressive heroes like Pete Seeger, who died at 94.
     There's a reason why folk singers are invariably progressive and are never Republican. When did Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs or Bob Dylan ever sing songs glorifying Exxon or any multibillion dollar multi-national corporation? It would never occur to a Republican to become a folk singer because that would mean having to, you know, actually embrace and take up the causes concerning common folk since time immemorial.
     Being a head-banger myself, I've never been a fan of Pete Seeger or of folk music in general. But that doesn't mean I can't respect folk music's gentle progressive agenda and what it has done for over a century in uniting common people and reminding them that, yes, you are not alone. And while Grover Norquist, the Inartful Tax Dodger whose tax-dodging pledge is being quietly jettisoned from Congress like bilge water from a sinking ship, is dancing on Pete Seeger's grave, let's listen to Peter, Paul and Mary cover what was perhaps Pete Seeger's greatest song.

     And, uh, by the way, Grover, those Soviets about whom you're still sneering like some padded wingback-dwelling 50's Republican? Those are the same people who made the fortune that proved to be the seedbed for the empire of your heroes, the Koch Brothers.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Light Dawns on Marblehead

     Two years ago, I wrote a furious post about GOProud, the bottomlessly deluded conservative gay rights group that had pathetically Velcroed themselves to the Republican Party thinking, like the wimpy kids trying to ingratiate themselves with the bone-headed high school jocks in an eternal hopes of finding some common ground.
     The tweet below that I'd found on Twitter, posted at 1:08 PM, or just hours before Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill passed in the NJ Senate, is what acted on me like a red flag to a bull. Then tonight, Mrs. JP sends me this email linking to a diary by the incomparable Hunter at DKos "GOProud co-founder gives up, leaves Republican Party."
 
     The long-forgotten (save for yours truly) tweet has acquired a sort of double significance, an added dimension of irony in light of this latest and still all-too-rare example of right wing apostasy. Yes, Jimmy LaSalvia, cofounder of GOProud, the eternal Charlie Brown of LGBT politics, finally had enough of the Lucy Van Pelts of the GOP snatch the football away from him. He's done with, pardon the unintentional pun, sucking up to the GOP and is forming an independent party (and I suggested this two years ago in the comment section when I'd written, "Keep your core conservative beliefs, by all means, but it doesn't make any sense to Velcro oneself to a party that loathes them and constantly seeks to demonize them and strip away rights that should be accorded everyone.").
     As Hunter said, "That may be the slowest damn realization in the history of people having realizations." And now I find myself in a d r i f t g l a s s state of mind when the spirit moves him to write another post righteously bashing fellow half-hearted apostate Andrew Sullivan in the post-Bush era when he whines from his feathered nest in the pages of the Atlantic about how the latter-day Republican Party is a bunch of mean, nasty big sillies and how they tweak his ascot. Hunter doesn't want to come down too hard "on the poor guy" but I haven't any such scruples.
     In his little farewell to the troops of the GOP, LaSalvia never once admitted that we liberals who've been fighting for the same exact thing as him from the trenches on the Other Side were really the good guys. He sniffled he's a "small government conservative" and that he's dismayed that the GOP is "happy to have big government as long as they’re in charge."
     Oh, and he's genuinely shocked, shocked, I tells ya, that the GOP is ruled from top to bottom, side to side, inside and out with racist homophobes.
     Fine. Let him keep to himself. We don't need him, nor want him, even though I can only speak for myself.
     This useful idiot, in all likelihood the one who wrote that tweet bitching and moaning about how liberals hate gay people, endured for five years the slings and arrows of outrageous homophobia from the very same party to which he'd allied himself because he honestly, truly thought in his heart of hearts that the GOP would usher him into their Big Tent because he, too, hates Big Government. Because to the Big Daddies of the GOP, it's not enough to love small government and few to no regulations. Because the ultimate litmus test to these people is whether or not you're a Heterosexual-American. To these people, it's the ultimate deal breaker.
     We already have enough fucking morons in the Democratic Party and the grassroots and limousine liberals who still think Obama is the Second Coming. We certainly don't need another one.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sloppy Seconds

     These are some of my better tweets for the month thus far. I'm in the middle of a struggle with publisher Create Space and their sudden problematic conversions from .docx to .pdf formats.





















Friday, January 17, 2014

Freedom Industries Files For Chapter 11

That's my fucking response.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Can't Drive 55

     Since today's my 55th birthday, I suppose I should be playing Sammy Hagar's, "I Can't Drive 55" but since I never could stand Sammy Hagar (especially after he replaced David Lee Roth in Van Halen), I think I'll take a pass.
     The blessed event happened at 9:50 PM, January 16, 1959. My incredibly pregnant mother was, for some reason, picked for babysitting duty while my paternal grandparents were out for the night. The twins, my Uncle Bobby and Aunt Peggy, weren't quite a year-old, my Aunt Cathy not much older than them and, for some reason, my Uncle Frankie, who was 14 years-old by this time, couldn't be trusted with the tots, hence tapping my Mom for babysitting duty.
     Well, sometime that evening, her water broke, Frankie went insane as any 14 year-old boy would do in such a situation. After a panicked call, my grandparents raced home and took my Mom to Astoria General Hospital in Queens. By all accounts, it was a fast and relatively easy birth, even though my father was stationed in Okinawa at the time and wouldn't meet me until I was 9 months-old.
     According to the medical record I'd seen years later, my first official act on coming into the world was to piss on the doctor who'd delivered me. Actually, back then, the term was "voided on doctor," which really dates me. In a way, it was revenge by proxy because his casual attitude, which included humming, really pissed off my mother. I don't know what she was expecting. Would panic on the part of the obstetric staff have set her mind more at ease?
     Anyway, for the next 55 years, I've figuratively been pretty much doing the same thing I literally did to that poor Jewish OB/GYN back in 1959. This especially goes for the last nine years or when I began political blogging. Indeed, I'd never seen such a level of wingnuttery outside of my own house and extended family as I have since getting into the political blogging business. They say when you piss people off and run afoul of their sensitivities, you're doing something right.
     That's far from the truth. I'd like to think that anyone who belongs to NAMBLA or pickets the funerals of fallen soldiers and Marines would be universally reviled. And right wing nut jobs offend our sensibilities on literally a daily basis. Does that mean they're right?
     The real test in life is knowing whether you're on the side of the angels and can afford to wear those contusions as badges of honor for taking up the good fight. I'd like to think I have, including in my jeremiads these last five years or during this neofascist administration of ours. My refusal to accept anything and everything Obama has been inflicting on this nation has cost me a lot of readers and that's OK. I'm a blogger and my job is to be honest, not to be a panderer or to expand your comfort zone. There are more than enough such sycophants on both sides of the A list blogosphere and especially in the MSM. All I have is the truth or my idea of what it is and, without that, I have nothing.
     At 55, I'm still young enough so that I can say that mentally, if not physically, I haven't reached my peak. I'm getting better and better as a writer, particularly as a novelist, although it remains to be seen if I can get some hoity-toity editors and literary agents to see that screamingly obvious fact. My critical acumen and way with words have gotten sharper even though I've yet to mount that stubborn summit of the political learning curve.
     I've been complaining almost since the beginning that this is a thankless endeavor, that I don't get the respect of my peers as I should, that reading the news and commenting on political and social events makes me want to take up permanent refuge in a hot shower. Because, while Americans should always have a valid voice in their government, it shouldn't be up to us to do the media's job in pointing out the evil, corruption and hypocrisy in our government and all over the world in general.
     But the internet gives us that option, regardless of that Clinton-appointed federal judge a couple of days ago striking down the very concept of net neutrality. And I guess, moreso than the piddling amount I get from all but one of my readers, moreso than my literary cockwanding is my inability to keep my mouth shut. There's a lot to talk about and I find more often than not, we're talking about the wrong things or focusing on trivial points. This isn't a celebrity or fashion blog. This is about politics and politics controls literally everything in our lives, including the quality and composition of the food we eat, the air we breathe and, as West Virginia found out the hard way, the water we drink.
     So, as I started life pissing someone off, it's a trend I'm afraid I'll be doomed to repeat until they finally lay me to rest (and even then I'll probably be screaming at my pallbearers for jostling me when I'm trying to get some rest). But that day, hopefully, won't be coming too soon because I don't feel 55 (although I don't know how I'm supposed to feel at 55). I still like tight blue jeans, love leather jackets and hard rock/heavy metal still puts lead in my pencil.
     If you've bee reading me for years as I know some of you have been, then you'll know I will never betray you and I will never sell out. I may be wrong from time to time but I'm always man enough to own up to it. And, sad to say, such a dedication to the truth and respect for what few readers I have is a damned rare thing these days.
     And, if you're still looking for any last minute birthday gift ideas, you know where the Paypal button is.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Another Republican, Another Bridge to Nowhere

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” -Former Chris Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, pictured above, returning to the scene of the crime
      It's tough, if not outright impossible, to provide additional news or even original commentary to the Bridgegate episode of September 9-13, 2013 that Rachel Maddow hasn't already covered since she's been screaming about this from the rafters of MSNBC's sound stages. Suffice it to say that while the 2000 pages of documents consisting of damning emails and text messages sent between Christie loyalists and his toadies in the Port Authority paint a picture of petty political comeuppance against a Democratic mayor who'd committed the unpardonable sin of withholding his endorsement of Christie during his re-election bid.
     There's nothing in the thousands of pages of documents recently made available to the New Jersey legislature that directly implicates Christie and that's important to remember. At this juncture, it seems Christie's biggest crime is being his usual bellicose self last December when local journalists had the audacity to confront Christie about it during his pressers. Christie sneered and jiggled with self-righteous outrage that it was all about partisan politics (Yeah, huh? Define "irony"), that the state legislature's Transportation Committee, headed by Rep. John Wisniewski, had nothing better to do.
     But it seems these high-ranking officials in Christie's administration used state resources, on state time, to engineer one of the worst traffic jams in American history, one that possibly resulted in the death of a 91 year-old woman suffering cardiac arrest, one strategically planned back in August and timed to coincide with the first day of school. If any one incident shows the sheer sociopathy and (no pun intended) fatuousness of the Republican mindset, it's this.
     Because Christie staffers pulled this off, for several days running, with literally shit-eating grins on their faces (“Is it wrong that I’m smiling?” asked Kelly to David Wildstein, the Port Authority executive and a former classmate of Christie's) without any thought as to the pressure put to bear, without even advance notice, on police, firefighters and EMS services, not to mention children on their first day of school and commuters trying to get to work. In their sociopathic minds, their thinking, if it could be construed as thinking, never got that far. 
     In fact, Daily Kos, via Business Insider, reported on documents showing the Transit Authority Police were even made complicit in being sent out with marching orders to blame Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich for the traffic jam! Also largely if not totally ignored by the MSM is this smoking gun showing that one of the two people charged by Gov. Christie with investigating the traffic jam and its origins, Chief Legal Counsel Charlie McKenna, had been in on the toll both lane closures at least since November and quite possibly even before that.
     The flurry of emails and texts recently made available to the NJ State Assembly prove, if nothing else, this was engineered between senior Christie staffers and some of the highest-ranking members of the Port Authority, which makes it a conspiracy. They prove this was set up a month in advance and by singling out Fort Lee and sending out the Port Authority police to blame it all on its mayor, it also all but proves this was carried out for political purposes, as petty vengeance on a Democrat for not giving a Republican his endorsement.

Do What I Do, Not as I Say
     Political staffers, especially Republicans, are like children. Constantly seeking reassurance and pats on the head, they get their cues on how to treat people and act from the grownups. At least half their existence is spent in a vicious, neverending cycle of currying favor in the interests of career advancement or just reassurance to fill an aching void going all the way back to childhood. They earnestly say, like Stuart Smalley, "Gosh darn it, people like me."
     These toadies never seem to have any political ambitions of their own and live to carry around clipboards and file folders for greater men and women than they, their actual importance, in their own minds, bloated beyond all sensible proportion. They are virtually the ultimate authoritarian personalities, which isn't how it sounds. Authoritarian personalities are those who live to serve A Type personalities like Christie. They do not see things in terms of light and shade but Republican and Democrat (The victimized kids trying to get their education were called "children of Buono voters"), red and blue.
     These staffers and appointees like Wildstein are the ultimate parasites, feeding off the state and federal coffers like partisan swine bellying up to a constantly replenished trough. They honestly think they will get an "Attaboy" from their master when they see their actions are perfectly in harmony with a brash, rude, disrespectful bastard like Christie who sneers and slangs when reasonably asked legitimate questions or expected to take any accountability.
     As I'd stated, there is no evidence to even suggest that Gov. Christie played any part in this SNAFU on the GWB. I'd like to think Christie is a more pragmatic man than that and that even were he to hatch such a monstrous scheme affecting countless tens of thousands of motorists and schoolchildren between New York and New Jersey, he'd immediately come to his senses and realize people could get fired from their jobs for being late day after day, children could have their educations interrupted, or, as in the case of that 91 year-old woman, people could die. Only a dyed-in-the-wool cynic would claim Chris Christie was faking it when he'd showed compassion to the people of New Jersey and bipartisan cooperation with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy.
     Christie, however, deserves to be held up to ridicule on a variety of other fronts, starting with his typically brash attitude toward local reporters who wanted some clarification regarding the three lane closures. It continued with Christie swinging brickbats at Democrats who wished to investigate a major, four day-long traffic jam that paralyzed EMS services and left the Port Authority Police with no honest answers and no way to prepare for this manmade disaster.
     Christie is responsible for hiring staffers and making appointees of people who were plainly politically-motivated operatives, people working literally in Christie's office and were hatching this scheme a month in advance to coincide with the first day of school for maximum effect.
     Finally, Christie is indirectly culpable for setting a belligerent tone during the first term of his administration, a tone that staffers noted and saw as perfectly consistent with a man who brooks no criticism and scorns expectations of accountability. Christie brought this on himself just as Hitler encouraged, through his example, anti-Semitic psychopaths to seriously broach things like "the final solution" and the death camps.
     Does that sound unnecessarily harsh, in my realizing Godwin's Law so readily? I don't think so. Because when you treat other human beings as if they're beneath you, when you dismiss them with scorn, more feeble-minded people currying favor will act likewise toward those same people with every reasonable expectation, however unreasonable, of pats on the head and Attaboys.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Speaking of Long, Strange Trips

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-axqHJ1x1EsI/T_XcuSDFbdI/AAAAAAAAC9M/La7i2G-l8j4/s1600/DSC_0449.JPG 
      I'll just get it out of the way right now. As this New Year has already been strange and thick for us here at Pottersville, rarely if ever in a good way, I can tell you that by the 29th, I will have already forgotten that my 9th anniversary as a blogger is coming up. Coming up 13 days before that, or in the next five days, is my 55th birthday.
     As I've stated recently, everything is hitting me all at once, namely annual auto inspection, the renewal of my license and registration plus the annual excise taxes and the monthly auto insurance. All told, that'll add about $250 between now and February to our usual expenses, namely the rent and all the utilities (and my next gas bill, after this frigid month, is going to be higher than the national debt.).
     Even though I'm a writer and a pretty damned good one, it's hard to convey in words what it's like being me. My life, especially since I was forced to start all over again at age 50 in the spring of 2009, is like a combination of a Rodney Dangerfield monologue and Murphy's Law, where everything I write, say, do or even attempt is met with scorn, ignorance and outright disrespect. This goes especially for my Godot-like job search and hunt for a book contract.
     Oh, every now and again someone will be reminded that I'm still kicking and breathing. Just today, Monkeyfister linked to the post below, "The United States of Bubba" on Crooks and Liars. And last night, adding to the strangeness of this still infantile New Year, I was approached with an opportunity to write a story and maybe a book that could shake a venerable Massachusetts institution down to its very foundations, if my potential source is for real.
     I'm blocked from access to sources on stories I want to write yet am offered source material I'm reluctant to write (As was the Boston Globe, so says my longtime reader) on account of my fears for mine and Mrs. JP's security. It hasn't been that long ago since Hal Turner alarmed me by threatening to send skinheads to my house.
     It's unusual the only attention I ever get is from those whose attention I either never solicited or never wanted. Otherwise, it's almost as if the planet earth had collectively realized a long time ago that I'm some anomalous object it could do without, like a splinter in the finger, and it's doing its damnedest to purge me from it. On bad days. I'm persecuted by wingnuts. On a good day, I can expect to get completely ignored, despite my having nearly 1200 followers on Twitter. Hence the lead image. Blogging is like writing on the shoreline of a beach because it's at once the most forgettable, most disposable and most perishable of writing mediums.
     Whatever. My potential source tells me I have an impact in the progressive community and while people tell me that from time to time it's hard to take that to heart considering my readership and hit count is at its lowest levels since I first began writing about the recent 2004 election back in January 2005. Yeah, the Rude Pundit and Charlie Pierce may link to me but that doesn't mean they read me. Hell, I myself haven't been to their sites in months on account of trying to keep a roof over our heads, the lights and gas on, my 16 year-old Ford legally on the road and writing my damned novel that very few people will want to read.
     So my little bloggy odyssey will stagger into its 10th year as of the 29th although it can't be said the Paypal donations are even worth it anymore. Mrs. JP and I recently lost our biggest benefactor, a man whose heart is bigger and warmer than the Arabian desert.
     But if I decide to take this story and if it goes viral as my source is telling me it might, it'll still be a while before I reap any financial rewards, if any come at all. It's going to be dicey making the rent and all the bills after this February, barring a miracle, and we spent a lot of money on Christmas and, to a lesser extent, New Year's. I know the money's not there because the readership's not there and maybe that's a trend or maybe it's because my readers have been alienated over the years because of my chronic inability to find even a part time job or, as I suspect, both. When you're in your mid-50's and have been out of work for over 4 1/2 years, you're among most undesirable people in the country. I don't cite that as an excuse for my chronic jobless state. I'm just stating a fact. Add to that a place to which I'd applied twice over the years just closed down at the same time the Intel here in town, once our largest employer, just laid off about 90% of their people, meaning my job hunt just got a lot more competitive.
     So, guys, please do whatever you can to help out Mrs. JP and me. This would be a really shitty time to get evicted for non-payment of rent, considering how brutal this winter's been, lately. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Children's Book Corner: The United States of Bubba

     Once upon a time, there was a mighty nation named the United States of Bubba. Bubba used to be part of a much larger country called the United States of America but, fearing government infringement on their states' rights, Bubba seceded from the union and founded its own neo-confederacy and named it Bubba.
     Bubba's national motto was "Fuck, Yeah! Fuck you!" and its flag consisted of a revamped Confederate flag with a giant red, white and blue finger pointed at the rest of the earth in the center.
     For many of the people in these new United States, this was a paradise. The Bill of Rights was trashed except for the Second Amendment, the only part of the original constitution that survived from the original 50 states. Now, people could own as much guns and ammo as they wanted without the government tracking their sales and activities (as with the old United States.). But in Bubba, it didn't matter how many children were accidentally or deliberately killed with guns because, you know, Freedom!
     And just as more guns was the answer to gun violence, as austerity and more sacrifices by the destitute was the answer to crushing poverty, the answer to runaway corporate greed was less regulations and fewer liberals screaming to shackle the invisible hands of the Free Market. In Bubba, there is no Congress. There are only lobbyists and the Bubban Legislative Exchange Council or (BLEC) providing model or draft legislation that this libertarian utopia would adopt.
     Among the traditionalist legislation proposed by BLEC was the right to shoot and kill people on your property whether or not you felt threatened, the right to defend your home using the Castle Doctrine against police barging into it with BLEC-inspired No Knock warrants that always seemed to end in bloodshed (Which was OK because, well, Freedom!).
     Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that fostered a culture of dependency had been obliterated and replaced with understaffed and overwhelmed clinics, food banks, churches and bread lines that never seemed to have enough. This allowed the citizens of Bubba to get back to their traditional roots of hunting and fishing until all the game were killed off without any meddlesome Fish and Game authorities because, well, Freedom!
     Unregulated industry, now free from the onerous demands of environmental groups and federal agencies of the evil, liberal United States of America, immediately produced a smog across the landscape that never seemed to go away. People in Bubba began to die at alarming rates of various types of cancer as well as ecoli, salmonella and cholera while Big Business shrugged its broad shoulders and denied responsibility. Those who complained of this were visited by corporately-employed right wing paramilitary groups and given a stern talking-to because, well, Freedom! Free Market!
     Rising temperatures from the smog produced bigger and better hurricanes, especially across the Gulf States of Bubba but since there were no more disaster agencies or environmental impact reports or disaster relief that would've required spending offsets that could no longer be made, that left the burden of reconstruction on individuals now freed from the burdens and obligations of that liberal evil named Altruism. And it wasn't called reconstruction because, well, that brought back unpleasant atavistic memories of the Civil War.
     In the utopia that was Bubba, people of color, liberals, gays and bisexuals, Democrats and feminists were either barely tolerated or banned outright through excommunication. The new nation was run by a few hundred ultra wealthy elites who kept stressing, like the Communist Party of old, that poverty was a virtue and is still a better way to live than under a liberal culture of dependency that gave a free ride to old people who'd toiled at their jobs for a half century or more. Those ignorant enough to point out this neo-confederacy named Bubba suspiciously resembled the Nazi Germany the ruling elite pretended to hate while nonetheless emulating from top to bottom were immediately shot. 
     The smog cover across Bubba was as impenetrable as Venus' clouds and satellite photos could no longer see the land mass. Since the Bubban constitution consisted of only the Second Amendment, that meant the poor were free to kill each other off (the several elites who controlled Bubba were, of course, exempt). Soon, the right wingers began to splinter, divide and subdivide with neighborhoods and even individual homesteads at war with each other, with Aryan Supremacy groups waging open warfare on the KKK, state militias conducting guerilla insurgencies against evangelical cults with no trained, professional constabulary to interfere, no fire departments to put out the constant infernos and no EMS services to save lives.
     But it was all worth it because they'd purged the bothersome, micromanaging liberals who'd called for gun control, regulations tightening clean water and air laws, better inspections of food, a higher standard of education for all and commonsense drug laws not written to feed the bottomless avarice of the Free Market of for-profit prisons.
     Yes, with the last of the liberals finally purged from the neo-confederacy of the United States of Bubba, the people were now free to be fleeced, poisoned and subjugated by billion dollar corporations. That's not to say Bubba was perfect. What began as an admirable attempt to establish one, true religion quickly degenerated into open warfare with Methodists fighting Baptists, Lutherans battling Mormons, Catholics fighting everyone and so forth. But they all could at least agree on one thing: That the all-inclusive, largely secular Unitarians that allowed homosexuals in their flock were pure evil.
     With no central government to assist in times of natural disaster, parents losing children to gun violence and cancer from polluted earth, skies and water, with no security for those too old and weak to work, nothing but private health insurance with $10,000 deductibles, $50 co-pays and premiums costing thousands a week, Bubba had at last achieved the Utopian Dream:
     A much shorter life span and a lifetime of stressful and unchallenged hatred, racism and paranoia in exchange for the tyranny of liberalism. Because, as any Bubban can tell you, there is nothing that can kill an empire or great nation faster than actual progress.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Buffalo Bill is Dead and I'm Not Feeling So Hot, Myself

     Seriously, perhaps today was the perfect day for Obama Care to kick in. I woke up later than usual this new year's morning, my tongue having been surreptitiously supplanted overnight with a little angora sweater after a couple of glasses of wine and a little cheap champagne (which isn't as decadent as you may think. Champagne typically doesn't come in four packs with screw-on caps).
     But today is officially the first time I've been insured since I lost my QC job in July 2002, which was the last time I'd been insured. There are a lot of details to hash out, such what my temporary coverage actually consists of, whether or not I have to choose between the various state-approved HMOs and what my doctor-dentist co-pays will come to. But drug co-pays were listed at being $1 and doctor's visits being a buck and change. I can call them tomorrow when the office reopens.
     As critical as I've been about this poor excuse for a national health care plan and will continue to be until it's vastly overhauled or repealed so the primary concern isn't the bottom line of corporations but the general welfare of those on these plans, it's still slightly better than what we had when the ball was still dropping at Times Square last night.
     You don't need me to tell you how. You can no longer be kicked off your plan or charged up the wazoo over pre-existing conditions, there are no more annual or lifetime caps and you can keep your kid on your policy until they're 26. I submitted my application on October 11th and am still waiting, nearly three months later, for them to process it, hence the temporary coverage. I've been after Mrs. JP to begin her own application but she's been hemming and hawing about it, preferring to wait and see what they do with me.
     Luckily, I don't have any serious medical issues that demand immediate attention but it's still a nice feeling knowing I'm covered for the first time in 11 1/2 years. If you're not covered under any state or federal exchange or through your employer, I'd urge you to remedy that. Hopefully, Obama was right when he said on the bill's passage in 2010 that it's a work in progress like Medicare was in 1965. We need a lot more than a mere gateway to the free market, like universal single-payer coverage or Medicare offered to all without your Governor's political party being a determinant.
     I'd also like to take this time to say we're getting hit with renewals, taxes and an inspection we may or may not pass all at once and it's going to take a $200 chunk out of our finances in the coming weeks. The heating bill will start to skyrocket after last month and, after coming up with the rent today, making it next month is looking and more problematic after the holidays. So whatever you can spare would be immensely appreciated.
     Now it's off to refine my tale of Buffalo Bill's adventures in Whitechapel in 1888. See you in the funny pages.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

All Time Classics

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