Saturday, October 31, 2009

18 Y/o Stripper Caught Fucking Ghoul in Graveyard

What is this country coming to when innocent, married Republicans can't frequent graveyards loaded with sex toys and Viagra without being victimized by barely-beyond-jailbait strippers?

Gee and just in time for Halloween. Republicans are just the gift that not only keep on giving but giving at the most appropriate of times.

Roland Corning, 66 year-old former South Carolina state legislator and former Asst. state Attorney General, was caught speeding away from a cemetery with a stripper, Viagra and sex toys in tow. This guy isn't just a fraud or a hypocrite. He's a living stereotype, a Ralph Bakshi cartoon come to life.

And South Carolina continues to cover itself in glory...

Happy Halloween, boos and ghouls.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pottersville's Kaput

No, it didn't turn back into Bedford Falls. The Mr. Potters of America are still large and in charge and I certainly did not get presented with a huge influx of cash when I prayed for help.

My laptop, says my guru, needs a new hard drive and the one he has in stock isn't compatible with my laptop. I'm not going to ask for help anymore because my last appeal resulted in zip. I'm not saying this is the end of Pottersville but I'd be lying if I gave you a rosier picture. A used hard drive is out of the question let alone a new one and we'll be lucky if we could make the rent this month. Add two more rejections from lit agencies today, a missing unemployment check and a job falling through and this is the worst two day period of my life since I got kicked to the curb last March by my own family.

Besides, blogging's the last thing on my mind these days. I'm fighting just to keep our heads above water.

So, adios, muchachas. It's been fun (although sometimes it wasn't) but everything has to end sometime.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Are They Really This Fucking Stupid?

Yes, they really are that fucking stupid. I'm just amazed that Fox didn't jump all over this.

You'd think that a certain mouth-breathing organ donor whose initials are Michael Ledeen over at Pajamas Media would've seen the "satire" tag at the end of a fictional post about a fictional college thesis written by President Obama in which he "criticizes" the constitution. As far as satire goes, it falls flat but the tongue in cheek tone still shouldn't have fooled anyone with two neurons to rub together. But whoever said that Republicans ever have two neurons to rub together?

Pigboy was about halfway through his radio show when he realized that he'd been pwned but he still tried to rationalize trying to pass off satire as actual news by saying that the president's fictional thesis "felt right."

Well, to all you right wing fucktards out there, punking glorified basement dwellers like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Ledeen doesn't feel right. It's actually kind of cruel in a leading-a-blind-dog-over-an-open-manhole kind of way because apparently it's this easy to excite what passes for their sensibilities so that even "news" of an old college thesis written by a black man that criticizes the constitution is enough to get them baying at the moon and peeing all over the northern, southern and even coastal borders to mark their territory. What's truly pathetic is that Rush gets paid more money than Bill Gates and God combined to disseminate lies and satire as indisputable fact on the airwaves when Air America or Bob Kincaid's H.O.R.N. gets the facts straight each and every single day for the money that Rush used to spend on Viagra, Oxycontin and bikini wax.

So let's all write satire about President Obama just so we can see how many times we can make the likes of Pig Boy, Hannity, Bill O' and the other stars of the intellectual flea circus at Fox and Clear Channel to chase their curly little tails.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fuck the Women... Literally and Figuratively.

Republicans I can see blocking Al Franken's rape amendment in the defense appropriations bill. I was not surprised to hear Republican asshats like David "Why yes, I am looking for a date" Vitter and Jeff Sessions calling the bill "a political attack directed at Halliburton."

What I didn't expect is that Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI) to cave in so blatantly and easily after having his office placed under siege by contractors like Halliburton and KBR. It's now widely known on Capitol Hill that Inouye has all but decided to either water down or outright excise from the bill Sen. Al Franken's popular rape provision that would allow abused employees of defense contractors to have their day in court and would mandate the federal government to not do business with contractors who rape their employees.

The Title VII provision is what it seems to come down to. Title VII would've allowed a victim such as Ms. Jamie Leigh Jones to bring suit against former Halliburton subsidiary KBR after they raped her and imprisoned her in a storage container in 2005. Ms. Jones was also told that if she left Baghdad to seek treatment for her savage abuse that she'd be fired.

Inouye and thirty Republicans in the Senate, despite Franken's bill passing 68-30 with the support of ten Republicans and enjoying broad bipartisan support in the House, seem to have a problem with the due process of law and to give female rape victims their constitutional right to bring suit against her assailants and rapists and to have to settle instead for a kangaroo court proceeding euphemistically referred to as "arbitration" (Translation: "Let's keep it internal.")

I shouldn't need to go on and bloviate about how utterly, thoroughly and completely despicable this is. It's not even based on some warped ideology. Sen. Dan Inouye, an eight term senator, is blatantly, openly and shamelessly caving in to corporate interests that have shoveled nearly $300,000 into his campaigns. It's simply putting corporate interests ahead of the safety and dignity of women who are already putting their safety in jeopardy by volunteering to work in Iraq.

Inouye's been in for forty seven years already. Obviously it's time to put this old fart out to pasture like we did Ted Stevens. He's up for reelection next year and let's not forget that "aloha" stands for something other than "hello."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yep, Again (Redux)

Those of you may recall my tribulations last week with the dreaded Conficker virus that wiped out my operating system. Well, apparently the virus attacked the hard drive itself so we're looking at a hard drive transplant. That's right- The little piece of shit who wrote this code created a virus so virulent that no anti-virus program in existence can do anything about it. Yes, it has to be physically removed from your computer. The hard drive is so damaged that it sounds like a buzzsaw in a lumber mill and the virus even shut down the fan. This shitty virus actually physically affects your computer and merely reinstalling the OS isn't enough.

Even though I'm a liberal who's opposed to the death penalty, if I had my way, I'd load every hacker, phisher and virus code writer on a Galaxy C-5A transport, take them up to 40,000 feet, open the back door and unceremoniously drop the little fistfuckers into the coldest body of water on earth. I wish death on each and every single one of these miscreants, especially virus code writers who have nothing better to do with their lives than to destroy the computers of total strangers by turning them into proxy spam servers (that's what the Conficker virus does- It replicates like the AIDS retrovirus, bypasses all your firewalls and anti virus programs and uses your hard drive as a spam server so it all gets traced back to your IP address and not theirs).

So I'll be offline probably until at least after the weekend. I don't know where we're going to get the money for a new hard drive. Those who can afford to help out, please do. If not, thanks for your kind thoughts and patience. According to the law of averages, even someone like me can't continue living a Rodney Dangerfield monologue forever.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Republicans Block "Halt Assault, Rape, Murder, Evisceration and Dismemberment" Bill

The minority GOP today, along hard-line party votes, successfully blocked two versions of a bill dubbed in the media as H.A.R.M.E.D.: Halt Assault, Rape, Murder, Evisceration and Dismemberment. The bills (HR 451 and S 34) would help shore up gaps in the criminal justice system that already allegedly prevent American citizens from being physically assaulted, forcibly raped, viciously murdered then eviscerated and dismembered.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended his party's votes, saying, "If this isn't a power ploy to take away state's rights, I don't know what is. And besides, I'm sure that we can all think of a few people who need to be weeded out of society." McConnell then coughed and made a sound that some in attendance thought sounded like, "Clinton."

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) had his own reasons for opposing the bill that would've guaranteed protections for all American citizens from being hit with sledgehammers, dismembered with chainsaws, raped with electric cattle prods and so forth.

"This bill actually touches on a whole host of assaults on individual freedoms, not the least of which is the right to bear arms, including big ass K-Bar knives."

Rep. Steve King said this: "What's next? Guaranteeing these rights to illegal aliens, outlawing torture? Where will it end?"

The bill, introduced and co-sponsored in the House by Barney Frank and Alan Grayson and in the Senate by Senators Al Franken and Russ Feingold, was a tentative attempt to overturn Bush-era policies that paved the way for abuses by American war contractors. Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, for instance, refused to hire women unless they waived their right to press charges in the event they were ever raped and beaten.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) called the bill "a political stunt that tries to shoehorn the federal government in the lives of every recently laid-off worker or henpecked husband who may feel the need to blow off steam once in a while. Americans pride themselves on defending themselves and this bill would take that out of our hands."

Michele Bachmann (R-MN) even put a poison pill provision in the House bill that would exempt liberal and moderate bloggers and Keith Olbermann from protection under the proposed law.

"If this bill passes as is," Bachmann said, resplendent in flowing white robes, "then I invite all the constituents in my district to drink the Koolaid for the last and final time right here on the steps of the Capitol Building."

The Senate version of the bill was successfully blocked when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) provided the crucial 41st vote that allowed the GOP caucus to block cloture.

"Is this really necessary?", Lieberman said at a press conference. "All I hear from Democrats is Katrina this, health care that, let's stop our fellow citizens from getting needlessly slaughtered. Aren't there more constructive ways to spend our time?"

President Obama expressed disappointment that the H.A.R.M.E.D. bill was stalled in Congress until possibly next year.

"While I strongly disagree with the Republican Party's attempts to block passage of this landmark bill, it's also important that we achieve some sort of a bipartisan consensus so that all parties will be happy." The President also signaled that he'd be willing to drop the anti-dismemberment option from the bill on the basis that postmortem mutilation wouldn't be felt by the already-deceased.



That's the number of unemployed workers who will lose their unemployment benefits today and the same number who had lost them yesterday and the day before that, and all because of two Republican assholes.

This, despite the fact that Jim McDermott's bill in the House overwhelmingly passed last month with a bipartisan consensus. Says the AFL-CIO blog:
Because of the actions of two Republican senators, every day this month 7,000 jobless workers have lost their unemployment insurance (UI) coverage. Each day these two Republicans continue to stand in the way of Senate passage of a UI extension, 7,000 more workers will run out of benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has tried twice to bring the UI measure to a vote on the Senate floor. First Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), then Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) blocked action.

Even if my own unemployment benefits weren't in danger of being exhausted, I would still consider this an outrage. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the only way we will ever get anything meaningful done in Congress is to vote out every single Goddamned Republican. Only with a 100 seat majority in the Senate and a 435 seat majority in the House will the people have any chance whatsoever of being truly represented. Then and only then will the Democrats have absolutely no excuses whatsoever for doing their job. If ever there was an argument for a one party system of government in this country, the Republicans each and every single day are giving us very persuasive ones.

When Democrats wanted to raise the minimum wage years ago, Republicans blocked that despite the minimum wage being frozen for over a decade. When Democrats timorously wanted to inject some semblance of humanity into the 2005 bankruptcy "reform" bill, Republicans blocked every one without exception. Hatch, one of the assholes blocking the Senate version of this bill, had even said in '05, "Those who can pay their bills should pay their bills. That's the American way." And even though 7000 people are losing their unemployment benefits for every day this bill is needlessly stalled in the Senate, a pair of assholes like Orrin Hatch and Jon Kyl don't give a shit, making it harder on nearly 50,000 people each week to live "the American way" and pay their bills.

Any legislation, amendment or measure that promises any kind of relief, shows any semblance of humanity, mercy and compassion is sure to be opposed by a majority of Republicans. That is because, plain and simple, Republicans are assholes. They don't care how much of their constituency they alienate. They don't give a damn how many people starve, lose their homes, their jobs or have their credit ratings tank (and, thanks to assholes like Hatch, they no longer have the option of filing for bankruptcy). Extending unemployment benefits will not increase the deficit or the debt because unemployment benefits are state-based. It doesn't matter to them that giving a mere 14-20 extra weeks of half their former pay will still enable them to contribute to the economy. There's no rhyme or reason for opposing this measure but they don't need one. That's because they're assholes.

They can't help it, really; It's in their DNA.

The lead picture above is a visual pun. Ass=hole. Get it? But it's also a marvelous illustration of just how helpless and paralyzed Democrats have become even when they're in the majority in Congress, even when they have a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate.

And even though Republicans lost the power to filibuster in the Senate, they still don't need it because parliamentary procedure allows even a regional rump party like the GOP to say, "I don't want to discuss this bill."

And Democrats, as usual, say, "EEEE-yaw. OK, then."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Did We Really Begin Torturing on 9/11?

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) recently said something extraordinary on the House floor. If true, Slaughter has revealed that the Obama administration had quietly slipped language into a bill upholding the Executive branch’s right to keep under wraps the photographs of us torturing detainees. This would involve making the torture photos exempt from the already-gutted FOIA.

That’s extraordinary enough but what seems to have slipped by virtually everyone is that the documents that the Obama administration had petitioned the Supreme Court to keep hidden are photographs showing our torture techniques from September 11, 2001 to two days after Obama’s inauguration.

Excuse me? We began torturing terror suspects since September 11th? Did this somehow involve a rounding up of “the usual suspects?” If we already knew who these terrorist masterminds were, then how come we waited until after the Twin Towers were hit before getting proactive?

Conspiracy theorists and the so-called “truthers” had long ago begun making some very good points. Chiefest among them is the MSM already having spoonfed to them by the Bush administration mere hours after the attacks a perfectly-assembled poster board of all 19 of the hijackers, including photographs and names (in fact, half the people on that board are still alive and well, a fact that has been virtually ignored by that same MSM).

We knew from the gitgo how suspicious it was that Mohammad Atta’s passport was found near Ground Zero in as pristine a condition as Arlen Specter’s magic bullet.

But we began torturing people on September 11th? Who? Where? By whom?

Apparently, our Nobel laueaate Chief Executive doesn’t want you to know that any more than he wants you to know who we were torturing until two days after his inauguration or a little over a week before he was nominated for the Peace Prize.

Obama's initial promise on taking the reins of office to release these documents and the subsequent digging in of his heels proves one thing: Despite the lofty rhetoric of transparency in government and putting an end to the Bush-era torture programs, when Obama finally saw the photographs he was so horrified by what he saw he realized that they could never see the light of day.

And why is that? The standard argument is that such a revelation would endanger our troops and diplomats overseas. Into that we can only read one thing: We're so powerless against al Qaida that we have no confidence to stop their reprisals. Which in itself is the end result of the Bush administration's failure to curb the terrorist threat. Bill Clinton is still one aspirin factory ahead of George W. Bush as far as that goes.

But the Obama administration is beginning to uncomfortably morph into the previous administration. The DOJ argued last June that shanghaied terror suspects extraordinarily renditioned to torturing countries such as Egypt could not and should not have their day in court.

Gutting the FOIA by making these torture photos exempt is eerily reminiscent of the Bush administration setting up an extra-legal wiretapping program that bypassed the FISA laws. Laws once enforced by the EPA, FDA, SEC and all sorts of other government regulatory organizations were all conveniently bypassed through signing statements and extra-legal shadow programs. And now the Obama administration is actually covering for the most virulent war criminals this nation has ever produced because we're just as incapable of dealing with the Islamic terrorist threat as the last administration.

We deserve to see what's been done in our good names, with our tax dollars. The world needs to see what we'd done to our fellow humans whether or not they were guilty. And in subverting the Freedom of Information Act the Obama administration is essentially taking a page right out of the Bush/Rove/Cheney/Rumsfeld playbook and shoving it down our throats. If what Rep. Slaughter is saying is true, if the administration is strongarming Congress into making torture documents exempt, then it makes one wonder why we'd elected this man if all he's going to do is to not only cover up for the war crimes for others but in even continuing those war crimes. One wonders if the Nobel Peace Prize committee would've still nominated Obama last February 1st if he'd said prior to that date that he was militant against making those documents public.

Either way, the Nobel Peace Prize is now officially an international laughingstock.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Bone Bridge: Chapter 22

is up and still steaming. Get the ectoplasm while it's hot.

It's Really Quite Simple...

Collective individual mandate - public option= Higher premiums in which the only competition will be among HMO's who will break their necks seeing who can jack up their rates the highest. See health care bill, Romney, Massachusetts.

So how come the White House is backing down from an already watered-down public option that's, at best, a horrible palimpsest of the universal single-payer option that hundreds of economists and the vastly ignored and underappreciated Dr. Howard Dean are saying we need and why is the laughable, factually-crippled regional cult known as the latter-day GOP getting their way as if they're still in charge?

If Einstein were still alive and actually weighing in on the current health care debate, it's a sure bet that the smartest guy who ever lived would be able to see through the propaganda that would be eerily similar to the anti Semitic agitprop leveled against Jews in Nazi Germany. He would have seen the Hitleresque references to Obama at town halls for what they were because he'd fled his native country after seeing the real thing. Einstein would have sadly shaken his forever touseled head at the mass hysteria over what criminally-diluted health care "reform" the government is about to foist off on us. The only question he would've asked himself would have been: What's worse? When the people of a fascist country unconditionally support their government or when the people of a democracy unconditionally condemn their government?

In short, Einstein wouldn't have written on a blackboard what some mouth breathing right wing blogger posthumously co-opted him into writing in the lead picture.

How the White House can say that a public option is "not the defining piece of health care" is beyond the capacity of any thinking person to wrap their mind around. You would think the president's economic team of "the best and brightest" would've told him a long time ago about the basic economic law of supply and demand: The more you jack up demand, the higher the prices of goods and services. You don't need to be Nobel laureate Paul fucking Krugman to understand that. What's truly tragically disheartening is the fact that even though Barack Obama has reputedly read ten health care horror stories a day for the last several months (meaning countless hundreds of the worst ones have already been presented to him) haven't made enough of a dent for him to even seriously entertain a public option much less single payer coverage.

Turning America into a premium/co-pay/deductible farm of 300,000,000 serfs would artificially jack up demand to 100%, making those who "refuse" to buy into whatever health insurance at whatever HMO's decide they can get away with gouging subject to huge penalties. No public option, no co-ops to compete with the largest insurers and no stringent safeguards built into any bill to prevent them from jacking up prices will mean premiums that are even higher than we're paying now.

Even wiping out the pre-existing conditions that get people knocked off their health care plans could unintentionally backfire: Those who have real or imagined pre-existing conditions won't be kicked to the curb but that doesn't mean HMO's can't jack up the size of their monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles because they're "higher risk" policy holders who might, heaven forbid, actually cost them a tiny percentage of 1/10 of 1% of their annual revenues and their shareholders and board of directors won't stand for that.

It's really quite simple: An individual mandate that forces 300,000,000 people to become customers to a still largely unregulated racket will equal higher premiums than we're already paying. But single payer or extending Medicare to everyone was never on the table when this is where Democrats should've started negotiating. Instead, they began from an already compromised position while bowing down to the DINO's of the Blue Dog Coalition, the rump party known as the GOP and their employers in the health care field who can already afford to spend $1.4 million a day on lobbyists.

And any health care negotiations that involve Billy "I love my Mommy" Tauzin, Rahm Emmanuel's own brother, and the tacit consent of Big Pharma and the health insurers doesn't bode well for anyone who doesn't already have free health care for themselves and their family by working in our co-opted government. Moreso than any other issue, the health care "reform" debate makes a mockery of the once much-vaunted and long sought-after 60 seat Senate majority. Apparently, the only way this country will get any meaningful health care reform is if Congress consists of about 285 Alan Graysons or Dennis Kucinichs or Bernie Sanders.

And moreso than any other issue, the health care debate proves once and for all how completely out of touch virtually everyone in our government is about the needs of we the people of the United States. We no longer matter except as a source of revenue for their employers in the health care mafia and a source of votes. Because alienating us and their campaign contributors might cost them their incumbency, hence their own free health care plans and it's a delicate tightrope dance. How they can avoid alienating we the people of their states and districts and their benefactors has yet to be determined. We can only hope the 2010 midterms prove to be just desserts for all the senators and congressmen who are about to saddle us with this boondoggle of a health care bill. Yes, it's that important, just as important and catalytic as the Iraq War proved to be on the 2006 midterms.

There's a well-known anecdote about Albert Einstein. He belonged to a chamber quartet made up of other physicists and scientists and he had trouble keeping up with the other three men. Exasperated, one of the musicians blurted out, "Dr. Einstein, don't you know how to count?!"

The same question could apply to the general intelligence and ethics quotient of our elected officials, these men and women of supposedly staggering pragmatism, intelligence and knowledge.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Mexican Standoff

In a way, the silly overreaction was like a precursor to Janet Jackson's nipple at the Super Bowl halftime show. Hardly anyone in the crowd at Mexico City even noticed that Tommie Smith and John Carlos had raised their gloved fists in a black power salute during their victory ceremony. Members of the press did and then so did Avery Brundage, the Nazi-loving, anti-Semitic, misogynistic head of the IOC.

41 years ago today, Brundage was so infuriated by Smith's and Carlos' understated demonstration that he revoked their credentials, forcing them to leave the Olympic village within 48 hours. The USOC suspended them. They should have left as victors, leaving with the rest of the team after the closing ceremonies that would've commemorated unprecedented American dominance in Olympic track and field. Instead, they were forced to skulk out as criminals.

The New York Times, that embattled, perennial liberal bastion of journalism, gave scant attention to Smith and Carlos' supporters and never even mentioned Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who finished second in the event. Norman's show of support was even more understated: He wore an OPHR patch on his jacket, the symbol of the Olympic Human Rights organization. In fact, it was Norman who'd suggested that Smith and Carlos share the black leather gloves since Smith left his pair back at the Olympic Village.

The NY Times article, instead, gave the lion's share of its reportage to Brundage and the critics of the African American athletes on its below-the-fold front page story that was printed alongside another of Jackie O arriving at Aristotle Onassis' private island.

The fallout from Norman's quiet, understated support of the two Americans was so toxic that it cost the five time national champion his athletic career. Despite posting qualifying times in his events, Australia chose not to send him to the 1972 Olympic or any Australians, for that matter, partly because of Norman's opposition to his country's "White Australia" policies.

Considering the racial climate of the time, it's a miracle the pair weren't stripped of their medals like Brundage did Jim Thorpe's (after Thorpe had defeated Brundage in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon).

Brundage's moral stance could easily be seen as hypocritical. He barred the only two Jewish athletes on the US track and field team in solidarity with host Nazi Germany in 1936 and replaced them with Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. He'd publicly praised the Nazi Party in Madison Square Garden and the Nazi Party loved him back.

The press dropped the ball in 1968 just as unfailingly as they did in 1936. In calling attention to a quiet protest and raising such a big stink about it, they helped bring about a shameful chapter of Olympic reprisals without once considering the athletes could've been justified in their protest or if their careers could've been hurt. Or if the IOC's or USOC's sanctions against them could've been wrong.

In spite of all the gains made by African Americans since 1964, the backlash against Carlos and Smith was vicious, even extending to Australia and one of their more sympathetic athletes. Brundage's and the USOC's reaction was so swift and severe that any further demonstrations by medal-winning African Americans were either muted or abandoned. By emphasizing Olympic ideals and the non-politicization of the Games, all the ruling councils did was to do more to take away from the true spirit of the Games than Smith or Carlos ever would have.

Of course, posterity confidently informs us the excommunication of the pair of champions was disproportionate and unnecessarily harsh. Just over four years ago, San Jose State, Smith's and Carlos' alma mater, erected a statue honoring their gesture, one that would've perhaps been lost to history if it wasn't for the media's and IOC's hysterical overreaction.

And while the bylines and news anchors have almost completely changed, that same media continues a collective racist policy that much prefers to pay attention to minorities as long as they're the perpetrators and not the victims, that is all too eager to write endless stories about missing white college girls, white murder victims and white runaway brides while giving short shrift to black girls in identical predicaments.

We have arguably the most racist press in the known world, one that looks through things with a racist prism, albeit a bit more passively than Rush Limbaugh's prism. Our mainstream media by and large, barring a few liberal outposts, is collapsing under the weight of its own ignorance and sluggish response to a changing, more racially tolerant world.


I should be getting my laptop back sometime today (In fact, I was expecting it back by this morning) but it's costing us more than we can possibly afford. If you haven't kicked in lately and have a few spare bucks, Barb and I would sure appreciate it. My checking account had a negative balance until I transferred the last of my saving account into it, so we may get hit with an overdraft fee. The reason we're in such bad shape is because Barb's boss finally put her on the books which meant they began holding back a week, which means she couldn't make her usual deposit last Saturday because there was no check last week (the fact she's getting paid minimum wage for a skilled job with nearly 18 years experience doesn't help much, either but that's another story.).

So any help you could give us would be deeply appreciated because I can't cover the $60 check that I'll have to write this guy today until my own check comes in later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Bone Bridge: Chapter 21

The Bone Bridge, chapter 21 is up and JP is back online at home (Thanks, Paul!)

Let Freedom Ring

11 years ago this November, I began drafting a novel called The Toy Cop. It's a hostage negotiation thriller in which a former SEAL takes over a dozen hostages, including a US senator. Most of the story takes place during a nor'easter that strikes the east coast on October 16th (in an eerie example of life imitating art, it actually snowed early this morning in Massachusetts). Purely by coincidence, within the storyline October 16th is also the same day that abolitionist John Brown and a ragtag band of militiamen barricaded themselves in the federal armory at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

That took place exactly 150 years ago today. Nowhere to my knowledge is this important incident, surely the high point of the abolitionist movement, being commemorated. Not even neighboring Marlboro, MA, which houses the famous bell that John Brown had rung to inform Col. Robert E. Lee and the federal troops massed outside that he was still alive and kicking, has anything planned for the anniversary.

Stolen two years after the siege in 1861 by the Marlboro 13th regiment, the bell sits in dignified disuse in its fieldstone tower in downtown. It's Marlboro's one major historical artifact and it's a purloined one, at that. The city fathers covet the bell for its historical value (every year, Harper's Ferry, WV sends up a sitting or former mayor to Marlboro to ask for the bell back and every year is cheerfully rebuffed, making it more of an annual ritual like Groundhog's Day than an actual request). Yet those same city officials don't appreciate the John Brown bell's historical significance enough to commemorate the taking of the armory 150 years ago.

In a way, John Brown's last stand in the name of freedom for all African Americans was a tragic failure. Two of Brown's sons were killed and Brown himself was hung just two months later. Yet, by 1863 President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, in reality two separate Executive Orders that freed all slaves in the slave states. It would be a stretch to speculate that the fiery John Brown's last stand wasn't in the back of the 16th president's mind when he signed those historic Executive Orders.

What Can Brown Do For You?

Fast forward 150 years into the future since Harper's Ferry. African Americans are no longer officially slaves. Barring certain states and certain conditions, they have the unrestricted right to vote. Slavery, at least in the contiguous United States, has ossified into history, tens of millions of half-healed welts on the back of the nation.

Yet, in a colloquial sense, slavery is more prevalent than ever and crosses ethnic, religious and party lines. It's become more institutionalized than ever and is not confined to a dozen or so southern states but is peculiar to all 50. The plantation overseer's whips have been supplanted by majority and minority whips, party leaders, committee chairmen and the lobbyists who have virtually become official co-legislators.

We have slowly become again, with hardly anyone noticing, an antebellum plantation nation ruled by a surprisingly small knot of oligarchs who are elected not by citizens in polling places but by fellow executives in board rooms. The three branches of our government have become mere turnkeys opening the doors of the national treasury for them. Regulation so flatlined during Dubya's reign of error that even the SEC under Christopher Cox had become as effective as President Lincoln's bodyguard at Ford's Theater.

As in antebellum times, a few wealthy magnates, barons and tycoons at the top reaped the spoils of slave labor from African Americans (textile), Chinese (railroads), Latinos (agriculture) and other nonwhites. Today, there are more obscenely wealthy oligarchs but many, many more slaves.

Even after the economic collapse 13 months ago and a massive bailout, CEO's were raking in over 400 times more than what their hourly employees made. While productivity has steadily risen, worker's wages have remained stagnant. The federal minimum wage was frozen for over a decade while Republicans, with shocking meanspiritedness, opposed even modest, incremental increases. Social Security recipients will not receive a cost of living increase next year while corporations continue to lavish luxuries on themselves like latter day Aga Khans.

Available jobs have become rarer than lottery jackpots and employers no longer train but want overly-qualified applicants to hit the ground running. Starting wages have been cut to federal minimum wage or barely above. Fewer employers offer health care even when legally mandated to do so, or sick days, or vacation days. 47,000,000 of us remained uninsured and the just-ratified Baucus bill's answer is right out of Mitt Romney's playbook: Get insurance at their prices or get heavily taxed. Sign on, referral bonuses, tuition reimbursement? Wistful, nostalgic memories like pensions and 401 (k) plans.

Overdraft fees and credit card APR's have skyrocketed while dividends on even interest-bearing accounts such as savings, IRA's, CD's and money market funds have withered to mere tokens.

Near monopolies such as utility, cable and lending companies capriciously harvest hidden fees, penalties, taxes, surcharges and higher APR's and penalize even their best and most reliable customers as they force us to pay more and more of their overhead expenses. In 2005, Congress and the lenders who wrote the legislation made filing for bankruptcy a virtual impossibility while still leaving the doors of bankruptcy court wide open for recklessly greedy corporations such as Enron and Worldcom.

And two unwinnable wars that have largely benefited 1,100 CEOs and a multi trillion dollar bailout has made slaves out of not just us but, with Calvinistic certainty, our children and grandchildren.

Let Freedom Ring... Again

Even questioning political and corporate orders and decisions all too often results in armed resistance, police action and even litigation. Corporations and Congress (the latter having long since become a mere synonym of the former) have become so arrogantly convinced of their invulnerability, impunity and entitlement that they no longer hide their contempt of the rank and file except during commercial breaks and elections.

But our powerlessness, or the prevalent illusion of it, is the greatest, most massive con job since the Devil in his various incarnations convinced us that he didn't exist. Yet isolated incidents of civil disobedience have all but proven to us that public relations is still our best weapon. We have the greatest public relations tool in human history since the movable press in the internet, a massive, increasingly cohesive forum that got a dark horse candidate elected president of the United States.

So why aren't we making better use of it to help ourselves for a change instead of politicians and corporations? Time and time again, we've had demonstrated to us the efficacy and power of our sheer numbers and growing ability to expose evil. Every once in a while, we'll hear of an HMO that cruelly and capriciously denied coverage or dropped coverage of a policy holder or dependent because they simply didn't want to pay for their treatment. Every once in a while we'll see a standoff like Republic Screen Door whose workers not only lost their jobs but the money the company owed them when Bank of America shut off their line of credit.

Taking a cue from Spocko's Brain, we've gotten close to 100 sponsors to walk away from Glenn Beck and other hate-filled conspiracy theorists. We have the power. But sometimes civil disobedience isn't enough considering how uncivil corporations and our elected officials have been to us for the last several decades.

We need another John Brown, a guy who isn't afraid of being hung for disobedience. As a people, black, white, red, yellow or brown, liberal, conservative or moderate, male, female, young and old, middle class and poor, we need to rise up and show these monolithic entities who wields the true power in this democracy, in this world we share. We need another Harper's Ferry and to take a bell that we will never give back lest we forget our former indentured servitude. I nominate this bell, rung every week day by the greedy and rapacious.

"Sometimes, the best remedy is just to break everything."

Truer words were never spoken.

Update: Apparently, yours truly stepped on his own dick, again. Marlborough is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the siege at Harper's Ferry. Mrs. JP made the town its vinyl banner sign, as a matter of fact. But it doesn't diminish the city's hypocrisy in celebrating a pivotal moment in abolitionist history in which the only part it played was in outright stealing an artifact from it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yep, Again

Maybe more than two or three people have noticed that I haven't been posting much of late. The screengrab taken this morning of what used to be my trusty laptop tells the denouement if not the whole story.

My Avast anti virus program didn't warn me of a virus that I must've picked up recently because at exactly 4 o'clock yesterday, my computer slowed down and then I couldn't reboot. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before.

At first, it wouldn't recognize my hard drive then even the Windows boot disks I'd kept trying to use wouldn't work. For one brief, shining moment, the damned thing worked pisser for all of ten minutes last night. But now it alternates between either not recognizing the hard drive and giving us our desktops but working so slowly that I can't load a browser window or run any programs whatsoever.

This means that Barb and I are looking at one of two options: Either buying a brand new hard drive or getting another used laptop. A possible 3rd option: She's trying to get a PC guru who does work for her company to get involved. Maybe he has an anti virus disk that he can run but either way it'll involve money we just don't have. For now, it's a $250 paperweight.

Since I have to elbow my way to a computer either at the library or the local coffee shop (where I'm at now), posting will be virtually nonexistent for the foreseeable future. I'm sorry but this fucks up our lives, too, and I take all the blame for this happening. But Avast never failed me until this week.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Today's weapon of choice"

That's how Colt describes its product, the M4, which is standard issue in the US military and has impressive furniture options. It's a stubbier version of the former standby, the M16, firing a 5.56 mm round and can be retrofitted with an M203 grenade launcher (With other grenade launchers, in the SEALs we would do the same with our NATO 7.62 mm M14s. They were called thumpers, although I never needed the use for one).

Until recently, the M4 has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a reliable weapon. Yet the disaster in the, until recently, little publicized battle at Wanat in eastern Afghanistan (near the Pakistani border) on July 13, 2008 that resulted in nine dead and 27 wounded American troops is calling the weapon's reliability into question. Unfortunately, the M4 carbine's performance in key battles is merely a synecdoche to a much larger problem that brings to mind the earliest stories concerning the war in Iraq.

A recent study by Douglas R. Cubbison, a military historian with the U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, has listed some grave and troubling deficiencies at the command level just prior to the attack of the outpost that saw its young commander, Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, killed along with 8 of his men when they were overrun by 200 Taliban insurgents who came from a staging area in Pakistan and with the support of the local police department.

In fact, the deficiencies at the command structure were so glaring, that Congressional intervention is being called for. Gun rights advocate Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has also been a vocal critic of the M4 of late. Here's what KITV in Hawaii said last year:
Brostrom's father, David, said he had been concerned about his son's safety even before the lieutenant died.

"They're fighting in a situation where they don't (have) enough troops on the ground and it's been like this for a long time," David Brostrom told KITV in July 2008.

Brostrom's father is a retired Army colonel who spent 30 years flying Army helicopters.

David Brostrom said during a home leave, his son told him he feared for the safety of his men without enough manpower to maintain security.

"That's when I started to worry about him," David Brostrom said.

At David Brostrom's urging, Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Virginia Sen. James Webb have called for an independent investigation by the Department of Defense's solicitor general.

An earlier Army investigation left commanders blameless.

A week and a half ago, Gen. David Petraeus, possibly trying to keep the matter as internal as possible and heading off a Pentagon IG probe, ordered his own investigation into the matter well over a year after the bloodbath.

Increasingly, US troops have been complaining that the M4 jams at the worst possible time. I can tell you from personal experience that a desert environment makes this especially likely if you don't strip, clean and oil your weapon very often. The troops and their superiors often check their ordinance and I have no reason to believe that paratroops wouldn't properly maintenance their weapons knowing fully good and well the effect that sand can have on any machine with moving parts.

"Today's weapon of choice" has time and again been discarded in the heat of battle for other weapons when the barrel overheated during firefights (Contrary to the TIME article, it's an impossibility for a gun to continue firing effectively when the barrel turns white hot. A breakdown would surely happen by the time the barrel turned red-hot.).

The choice of weapon is largely, if not totally, predicated on the terrain. Another determinative factor is the type of battle you'll be fighting, the enemy's range, their ordinance, etc. If you're expecting a full frontal assault by an enemy in vastly superior numbers, you may not want to go with a weapon with a 30 round clip. Even with six round bursts, you'll still find yourself reloading every minute or so. And in the middle of a 7 1/2 hour-long firefight, you will experience breakdowns. Where were the .50 calibers and other large bore full auto ordinance? Where were their own long-range weapons that could counter the Taliban's RPG's? Did they not have actual artillery? An adequate intelligence report gleaned by an unmanned surveillance drone could've answered all these questions (An Afghani tribal leader even asked about the drones in meetings with the US military).

This dovetails into the issue of the lack of heavy machinery. The 45 US and 20 Afghani troops of the Vehicle Patrol Base could only carry what they could carry and the issue of dysfunctional kinetics is what led to their deaths and ceding control of that area to the Taliban (the US Army bristled at the thought we retreated from an area of tactical importance, stating that Wanat was not considered important enough for long-range defense, which begs the question of why we sent a badly-equipped and badly-advised VPB there to begin with.). The bottom line is their ordinance was woefully not up to the task and they lacked the fortifications aside from what the natural terrain offered for an adequate defense.

Cubbison's report returned some other disturbing findings that's becoming tragically familiar:
According to Cubbison, a few days before the battle, on July 4, a US Army helicopter mistakenly attacked and killed 17 local Afghan civilians, including all of the Afghan doctors and nurses at a local clinic, infuriating local Afghans throughout the area. In response, platoon commander Brostrom and company commander Matthew Myer notified senior commanders that they were worried that a retaliatory attack was imminent and that extra surveillence was necessary. Rather than bolstering security around Wanat, however, US Army leaders at Bagram air base ordered the withdrawal of all intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets from the area.

And those are just some of the epic fails of this COIN (counterinsurgency) operation. It brings back memories of the misguided bombs that fell on Fallujah during Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqis' revenge on us in 2004, the two US retaliations and so forth.

US Army commanders were also slow-footed in both bringing to up speed and getting consent from the surrounding tribal elders whose support would've been crucial. In fact, it took them ten months, nearly a year, to bring these tribal leaders into the loop. These same commanders had also gotten word prior to the attack in Wanat that 200-300 insurgents were massing around the outpost and that there was a likelihood of a full frontal assault on our troops. They were attacked days later on two fronts of 100 Taliban militants each who were armed with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenade launchers).

And these same Army commanders, at the worst possible time, never personally scouted the outpost for its tactical suitability, pulled and diverted all unmanned drone recon, much-needed heavy machinery, no effective air support (although they did drop 500 pound bombs) and to fight a nearly hopeless battle with problematic weapons in which they were outmanned three and a half to one (45 US troops and 20 locals vs 200). Seven and a half hours after the assault started, nine US troops were dead with no reason for the tactical failure and the inexplicable decisions by their commanders.

Such oversight would be reprehensible if America was fighting its first COIN campaign. But we've been in Afghanistan for over eight years, which as George Will recently said is over twice the length of time of our combined involvement in both world wars. Such command failures after all these years are absolutely unforgivable.

(Cubbison's report has yet to find its way onto the internet and has been released only to the AP and very few other news outlets. If anyone can find a link to a copy of the report, please pass it along so I can post it.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

R.I.P. Danny Taylor 1987-2009

It isn't important how I met him and that's no one else's business. What is important is that I was privileged to "meet" and know him as much as time and his failing health would allow.

Taking a break from compiling literary agent listings, I checked my email and discovered through a mutual friend that my new friend Danny Taylor passed away in the wee hours of this morning of a malignant, inoperable brain tumor. In the last few weeks alone, his father had lost an aunt, his wife and, this morning, his 22 year-old son. I cannot even imagine what that poor man is going through but most men I know would fall face-first on the grass and surrender to the ants.

People like Danny and I, for several reasons, don't exist in real life because we're not supposed to. I've long held that the world can no more tolerate the purely good any more than it can a vacuum. Not that I'm purely good. Through my actions both in the Navy and in the civilian world, I've destroyed and distressed families on my own improbable and pot-holed journey to the Pearly Gates. Yet I'm also as capable of acts of extraordinary kindness as I am those of inexplicable stupidity. As with Danny, you'll never know who or what will get my liveliest attention and compassion.

I caught Danny in the weeds of cyberspace at a time when he was about to make the same colossal blunder that I just had the previous month. Only three of my readers know what that colossal blunder is but what's gratifying for me to know is that I kept Danny from making it. I wanted to cultivate a friendship with him that was cultural and cerebral with a generous occasional dose of friendship and humanity thrown in.

He was a sweet, openly gay kid who faced his impending doom with a typically British stiff upper lip, justifying the horrid chemotherapy he was undergoing until the end, regardless of how it knocked him out, because it gave him more time on earth. We spoke about philosophy (he was a published Ruskin scholar at Oxford), my novel American Zen (which he never got the chance to finish) and life and death in both the abstract and in the particular. The letter to which I'd responded and posted here at Pottersville was the penultimate one he'd ever written me, the last being his permission for me to post it.

He was one of the sweetest, most inoffensive creatures on this planet, far more understanding and forgiving of the vagaries and vicissitudes of life than this part time hellion and ogre that vents anger and hatred on this blog. Yet throughout it all, he kept reassuring me that he would finish my novel (he printed it up for ease of perusal) and he was already much more at peace with his imminent death than most of us (myself included) are with life. He treated death not as an enemy but as an unwelcome yet inevitable guest at his table. Even throughout the howling maelstrom that claimed one relative after another, Danny simultaneously fought death yet accepted it and died in his sleep early this morning.

He was the ultimate anachronism. People like Danny Taylor aren't supposed to live in real life nor are they supposed to die like this.

Friday, October 9, 2009

President Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech in Oslo.

"Esteemed Nobel Peace Prize Committee, honored guests.

"I can appreciate the irony of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was probably just as flabbergasted as Kissinger when he won it 36 years ago for escalating the war in Vietnam. I guess the standards of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee are so forgiving that merely trying to reverse a disastrous and blood-soaked policy is enough to get you a first class plane ticket to Oslo. (laughter)

"People of the world, we stand at the crossroads of history. We face many challenges and the greatest work is still before us. And if that involves sucking up to the apartheid state of Israel and allowing them to gobble up pieces of the West Bank in Palestine like Rush Limbaugh at an all-you-can-eat buffet, so be it.

"If the work includes killing hundreds of innocent Afghani and Pakistani civilians, many of them women and children, through unmanned CIA drone strikes, then so be it.

"If that includes keeping our troop levels in Iraq at over 130,000 in defiance of the SOFA agreement and arrogantly keeping Blackwater/Xe in Iraq in defiance of Iraqi law, so be it.

"If that includes ramping up our involvement in Afghanistan by keeping 68,000 troops there and possibly sending many tens of thousands more on the recommendation of a general who used to oversee assassination missions as commander of JSOC, so be it. Just because Alexander the Great, the Soviet empire and many others failed to pacify Afghanistan, why should anyone think we'll similarly fail?

"The Nobel Peace Prize Committee saw fit to give me this year's honor for fostering international diplomacy, even though those diplomatic initiatives haven't resulted in any meaningful negotiations, have not led to peace treaties anywhere in the Middle East or elsewhere. Considering that I haven't really done anything on the diplomatic front and that I chose as my Secretary of State someone who voted to go to war with Iraq and refused to apologize for it and who also voted to name the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, I interpret the Peace Prize Committee's decision as a vote of confidence. (Applause)

"Now, there are a lot of people putting stuff out there and almost none of it's true. A lot of people on both sides of the aisle are saying that my administration is merely a third Bush term, that my backpedaling on issues such as exposing the evils of my predecessor and closing Guantanamo Bay and eradicating the extra-judicial military tribunals is a sign of concessions to those on the right side of the Great Divide. Nothing can be further from the truth.

"Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not backpedaling and I have not broken my campaign promises. These decisions are the result of policy reversals. Apparently, when I was still the junior senator from Illinois, I never once considered that once I became President I'd learn a thing or two about how things really work and that the pure, unmitigated, soul-crippling evil of my predecessor's administration would be on such a Hadean scale that it would make full disclosure prohibitive.

"So the evidence of our ongoing use of torture in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram and elsewhere will, unfortunately continue to be kept from the American people and the Muslim world. Since we can't seem to win this war on terror, we have to stop and consider what al Qaida would do to us were my administration to make full disclosure of my predecessor's many, many, many, many war crimes. (Applause)

"But arduous sacrifice is best shouldered when it's shared. So I call upon all the nations of the world to join me in condemning Iran for a nuclear weapons program that hasn't been proven to exist and to hope and pray that we can kill less and less innocent people in those unmanned drone air strikes in central Asia, that we can finally exit Iraq so those multinational oil companies can resume sucking Iraq dry of its oil in peace and prosperity. (Applause)

"In summation, I hope that future generations will not laugh at the Committee's unexpected decision to give me the Peace Prize and putting me on a par with The Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa and that I will somehow exceed the vote of confidence shown to my predecessor Jimmy Carter, whose Camp David Accord miserably failed.

"This is a great honor and I thank you."

Joe Wilson: "You lie!"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'd Hate to Meet That 25%

Because that's the percentage of people who are apparently satisfied with the Republican Party's "Don't get sick and die quickly" ideas regarding health care.

A new Quinnipiac University poll of 2630 voters arrived at some hardly surprising but still informative conclusions. Predictably, President Obama's approval rating remained steady at around 50%, essentially where it was at in late July-early August last summer.

However, that doesn't mean the Republican Party's childish antics this year has let Democrats and Obama off the hook. According to the data of the poll, only a third of the respondents had a favorable opinion of the congressional Democrats while just 38% approved of the party's performance in the abstract. Compare that to the slightly more anemic 25% approval rating given to both congressional Republicans and the GOP as a whole.

But the Chief Executive didn't emerge unscathed. While Mr. Obama's approval rating held steady at 50%, just over half of the voters polled disapproved of the way Obama was handling health care. Only 40% support his health care plan, while it's opposed by 47%

In a way, the poll results, while they show a strong public dissatisfaction with Congress in general and the performance of both parties in the health care reform debate in particular, also demonstrate that Americans as a whole are not buying into the Republican meme that health care could be the president's Waterloo. Americans in general are intelligent enough to know that health care reform is just one major dish on the president's plate and that they're able to somewhat separate Mr. Obama from health care.

Republicans (and now, the Obama administration, it seems) are notoriously contemptuous of public opinion polls that show them in bad odor with voters. Yet, the Quinnipiac poll shows that while Americans are able to separate people from issues, it proves with a 1.9% margin of error that we are deeply dissatisfied with both parties and that the Democrats only look better than the Republicans by conspicuous relief.

Americans are growing increasingly skeptical over health care, the "winnability" in Afghanistan, the glacial withdrawal of US forces in Iraq, the efficacy of the Wall St. bailout and a whole host of other issues. It's only a matter of time before the voters' cynicism results in the emergence of a legitimate third party, one that isn't primarily beholden to corporate interests.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Assclowns of the Week #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition

Rarely even in East Wingnuttia does one see such a pure distillation of assclownery within the space of a single week. Such a stratospheric level of compliance is tailor-made for a guy like me, someone who thrives on assembling a list that skewers the organ donors of America. Presented for your amusement:

We saw John Derbyshire (2), who wants to set women’s suffrage back to the 19th century because they vote liberal; We were treated to a Rush Limbaugh Million Cock Puppet (3) march and we had to suffer through another screed from “leftist” John L. Perry (5) who thinks a military dictatorship is better than the one we have now.

So clambor aboard the Assclown Express as we review this week’s negative nattering and much, much more!

10) The FRC’s Prayer Warriors

From the Rude Pundit comes this all too typical tale of religious intolerance that was really the mission of the Founding Fathers, don’cha know? On September 25th, a crowd of 1000-8000 Muslims held a rally in Washington, DC calling for national unity (termed a “massive Muslim prayer rally” by the Family Research Council).

Counterterrorist “expert” John Cosgrove had this to say at the rally:
(Jefferson had the Koran) so that he could know his enemy, so he could confront them, know them, kill them, and vanquish the Islamic pirates, the scourge of the seas and spreading tyranny abroad. After reading the Koran, founding the Marines and expanding the Navy to go kill them, I think he laid the Koran down thinking perhaps he was done. Sadly, it was not the case.

In other words, Jefferson failed because he didn’t kill every last Muslim. Of course, Jefferson’s actions against the Barbary pirate states had nothing to do with genocide or Christian supremacy. As Commander in Chief, Jefferson sent ships to the Mediterranean simply to protect American maritime trade routes and so the pirates’ constant demands for ransom and tributes wouldn’t bleed the treasury dry. His ultimate goal was peace with the Barbary states, not their complete elimination.

But try telling that to the bigots and Bible-humpers of the FRC, who can’t stand the idea of Muslims gathering in groups of more than two or three and confounding their own stereotypes by calling for peace, unity and religious tolerance. And, like the Rude One said,
Of course, there were conservative Christian protesters, some handing out pamphlets that yelled, “Abortion is Murder!! Homosexuality is Sin! Islam is a Lie!” If the pamphlet shovers took a second to ask anyone there, they'd discover that many of the praying, scary brown people agreed with them on two out of three of the expressed sentiments.

Like the Rude One, your porcine powerhouse has discovered Jebus and covertly joined Tony “So What if I Collect Wigs and Knives?” Perkins’ Super Duper Prayer Team of Holy Ninja-Christian Warriors. Dispatches from the front lines will be frequent, I’m sure.

9) Sen. John Ensign

Ensign Pulver-ized.

Apparently, someone on C Street didn’t tell John Ensign that being a Promise Keeper involves things other than promising to steer a lobbying job to the husband whose wife he was secretly fucking despite there being a federal law prohibiting staffers from lobbying on Capitol Hill less than one year after resigning.

Meanwhile, not a single Republican in the Senate has come to Ensign’s aid (unless Tom Coburn’s “clarification” of his involvement can be construed as a defense).

And, really, how stupid was this middle-aged Lothario to cheat on one of the hottest wives on the Beltway after calling for Clinton’s impeachment for doing the same thing?

8) Rep. Louie Gohmert

Louie You Lie.

Last Tuesday night, Louie Gohmert (R-Gomer) channeled Rick Santorum and claimed that passing the Matthew Shepard hate crime bill would lead to things like Nazis, necrophilia, bestiality and pedophilia. In a way this is a microcosm of the ongoing Republican jihad against Kevin Jennings, President Obama’s Safe Schools Czar who’s nationally renowned for GLSEN, which successfully seeks to protect schoolchildren of all sexual orientations from bullying. If it protects teh gays in either the classroom or the military, it’s eeeeviiiiil! Better to let defenseless gay boys to get beaten to death and hung on barbed wire fences and kicking valuable soldiers out of war zones. Not allowing such will open the floodgates of Hell.

Gomer, you may remember, is the smirking idiot who also disrespected Obama during his joint session speech last month. Btw, his inspiration is Watergate jailbird and professional Christian prison proselytizer Chuck Colson.

Republicans. They sure know how to pick ‘em, don’t they?

7) American Private Police Force

How ironic would it be if “Captain” Michael Hilton got thrown in the very same jail he tried to buy? Of course, Hilton is no more a Captain than Harland Sanders was a real Colonel and even admitted as much.

Yet, the $27 million Two Rivers correctional facility that was bought by Hilton’s American Private Police Force wasn’t actually bought since the bank appointed to be the trustee for the sale never finalized it. And Hilton’s bogus military title is the least of the revelations that have led to the transaction being put on skids. Let’s look at the facts:

Hilton comes parading into town with three Mercedes SUV’s (the payment on one was late) with fictional City of Hardin Police Department decals slapped against them; The town, seeing $27 million dangled in front of their noses, gives them the keys to the jail before they’ve even officially passed papers; Becky Shay, a local reporter quit her job for a $60,000 salary, a signing bonus, a company car and help with a down payment on a new home; Former Two Rivers Authority director Greg Smith, after “vetting” Hilton’s background, was put on paid administrative leave 72 hours after announcing the deal, right around the same time his wife was offered a lucrative job with APPF.

Here’s how well Smith vetted Hilton: Hilton has a history of alcoholism, was ordered by a California judge to appear in court on Oct. 27th to answer fraud charges involving taking money from investors for a senior assisted living home that was never built. Hilton is also a jailbird who’s been tried and convicted for petty crimes like passing bad checks to flim flam operations involving over a million dollars.

Add to the mix the fact that APPF’s new director of operations is currently working in Afghanistan and doesn’t know anything about his contract being finalized, no one knows who the mysterious parent organization behind APPF is or even if one exists and Hardin’s contract with APPF would’ve given not just the jail and the 40 acres to them but also permission to continue posing as the city’s police force and to set up a training camp to train other rent-a-cops. Plus, the Montana Attorney General is investigating APPF and demanding all documents concerning the sale of the jail.

Come to think of it, maybe the Two Rivers Authority should be occupying this spot instead of APPF considering how corrupt and stubbornly gullible they’ve been through this whole thing. But take heart, fans of capitalism: If they can’t find a home in Hardin, Montana, there’s always Macon, Georgia and…

6) Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson, Red managing editor and right wing councilor for the city of Macon, Georgia, has a nice compromise for Macon police officers who want to unionize for better pay and benefits: dissolve the 130 member police department and hire mercenaries. Last September 29, Erickson wrote on his blog,
I’m thinking I’ll have the City Attorney draft me legislation to dissolve the police department and contract with the Sheriff to provide public safety services.

[UPDATED:] Looks like I won’t have to draft the legislation. The City Attorney tells me that unionized police officers cannot strike, cannot use a union to collectively bargain, and pretty much cannot do anything other than pay union dues and hold picket signs off duty. I would still rather us contract out to the sheriff’s office than see a union come in. They breed inefficiency, corruption, and taint.

So, even though a city statute would render any police union completely and utterly worthless, Erickson would still rather contract law enforcement out to whomever. Hm. I wonder if “Captain” Mike’s contacted him or vice versa with any tantalizing bids?

5) Newsmax’s John L. Perry

Last week, John L. Perry, “unpaid blogger” of Newsmax, offered an ingenious solution to our president problem in this now deathless, Beckian screed. Quoth Perry:
There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America's military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don't dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn't the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn't mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it. So, view the following through military eyes…

In other words, let’s finish what Prescott Bush only started. Damn the ballot boxes and full speed ahead. Not that I’m advocating insurrection against a president whose name happens to find its way in the title of my every column.

In keeping with Republican and Libertarian cowardice, Newsmax, while pointedly not apologizing, immediately pulled the article then tried to crawl away from Perry, demoting him to “an unpaid blogger” and a former Carter administration alumnus when in fact he’s been writing for Newsmax for over a decade (but this Newsmax fluffer of a bio says otherwise). And certain libertarians are already trying to Velcro Perry to our side because he used to work for the Johnson and Carter administrations (both administrations used Republicans). This about a guy with a byline called “Right Angles”? Uh huh. Well, let’s check that out:

In 2004, Perry once wrote of Obama right after his Senate victory,
Amid the mumbo-jumbo at the Bean Town Demo blah-blah was the ga-ga promo of Chicago politico Barack Obama as the party’s newest Great Pinko Hope. Leftist media are even now busily endeavoring to orchestrate Obama’s elevation – leapfrogging him out of national obscurity – to the United States Senate. Can 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue be far behind? Pseudo-journalists are huffing and harrumphing over the audacity of Alan Keyes to oppose Obama by moving his residence from Maryland to Illinois – one of the five “home” jurisdictions of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., if you count the District of Columbia and her Global Village.

And two years ago, he opined that what’s ailing Fred Thompson is not his platform or somnambulist-style of campaigning but the liberal media. And, more recently, just last June Perry delivered this whopper on the pages of Newsmuck starting with the words,
If President George W. Bush hadn’t acted courageously to defend the free world after 9/11, Iranians wouldn’t be protesting today for freedom from tyrannical Islam. His successor, President Barack Obama, and the worldwide leftist coterie of catcallers have falsely blamed Bush for just about everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the rising of the national debt. Here’s one thing Bush undeniably accomplished about which there should be no distortion or disagreement: He lit the spark of passionate and insatiable hunger for human freedom throughout the world of Islam, from the Mediterranean basin to the farthest reach of the Indonesian archipelago. It is no exaggeration to suggest Bush may go down in history as the Abraham Lincoln of the Middle East – and Obama as an asterisk of irrelevancy.

Oh yeah, he’s one of us, alright. Every bit as much as Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller were.

4) Orly Taitz

From the start, Orly Taitz has struck me as a slightly less sane version of Jay Porter, the whacked-out, plate-flinging law partner of Al Pacino in …And Justice For All. Last month, Judge Clay Land gave Taitz two weeks to prove why he shouldn’t slap her with a $10,000 fine for bringing frivolous lawsuits into his courtroom. Well, obviously that was time well-spent because this was the result:

Taitz basically told the judge to take a hike. Why? She’s basing a rambling, 19 page motion for recusal on two rock-solid principles: 1) That Judge Land owns stock in Microsoft and Comcast, which is tied in some undisclosed way to Barack Obama. And 2) Attorney General Eric Holder was allegedly seen at a coffee shop across the street from Judge Land’s courthouse. (Here’s a copy of Robert Douglas’s affidavit attesting to his Eric Holder sighting.)

Here’s the good part: Not only is Judge Land under Obama’s Svengali-like spell (Judge Land, it ought to be noted, was appointed by George W. Bush), he ought to recuse himself because the judge’s attempt to restore order in his court and respect for the federal judiciary makes him “a complaining witness”, thereby rendering him ineligible for imposing a sanction of any kind as a judge.

Yes, she actually wrote that. And why hasn’t this screaming harpy birther been disbarred, yet? Well, the Magna Carta presumes innocence until guilt is proven and apparently in the legal world, people like Taitz are presumed sane until proven insane. Still, you would think the preponderance of evidence she’s offered up to this point would’ve been sufficient.

3) Wingnuts

On second thought, blame it on Obama for losing the Olympics.

President Obama’s critics, whether they be birthers, deathers, tenthers, 9/12ers or astroturfers, generally conduct themselves like wouldbe blacktop bullies who always take their cues from the head bully. They cannot and will not be made happy and have the mental and emotional maturity of elementary school-aged toadies. Barack Obama going to Copenhagen, Denmark this past week to make a pitch for Chicago hosting the 2016 games brought out the best in them.

When it was announced that the IOC had chosen Rio de Janiero to be the first Latin American country to host the games, these wingnuts were actually glad that America failed. Not because Latin America would get to host its first Games but because that’s what Obama wanted.

Yet it’s obviously been lost on these gold medal-winning wingnuts that Rio has a murder rate 3 times that of Chicago or that Bush’s own Department of Homeland security may have queered us getting another Olympics for a long time. Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle said that Chicago was plagued with “lawlessness, violence on the street, innocent bystanders being killed, children beaten and unable to go to schools.” In fact, just last month alone, this was a typical week in Rio:
A police shootout with criminals stopped a commuter train and sent passengers fleeing for cover. Officers conducted a drug raid on a slum, keeping 2,000 children out of school. Police got into gun battles that killed more than a dozen suspected traffickers.

And we all know that murder and crime wasn’t an issue at all in Beijing last year.

Of course, these sneering pricks would’ve applauded the Great Chicago Fire, roasted marshmallows and weenies with it and made a mascot of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow if it happened right after Obama called for a more efficient city fire department. Why we continue to subsidize and tolerate these seditious, subversive sociopaths is anyone’s guess. But we ought to recycle their own meme to immigrants and liberals and hand it right back to them: If you don’t like our country, get the fuck out.

2) John Derbyshire

Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity’s Intelligence.

Where will a more intelligent, hence pessimistic, yet sprightly conservatism come from? You are holding in your hands part of the answer.” - George F. Will, Pulitzer Prize winner

John Derbyshire contends that a comprehensive pessimism is the natural home for realistic conservatives, a breed that understands human nature better than utopian liberals and 'happy talk conservatives.' His argument is wide-ranging, erudite, and invigorating, but, paradoxically, delivered with cheerful panache.” - Judge Robert H. Bork, still-embittered Supreme Court reject

These are just some of the plaudits given to John Derbyshire’s new optimistic opus, We Are Doomed (you’ll note that they’re almost exclusively from white Republican males who still wistfully and nostalgically long for the days of brandy, cigars and overstuffed leather chairs). Well, Derbyshire has ideas in his new book that come screaming right out of the 11th century: Namely, that women should be stripped of their right to vote.

For good measure, he also told Alan Colmes that he’d also love to see the Civil Rights Act repealed because “you can’t force people to be good.” I guess that would also apply to the Emancipation Proclamation that legally forced people to abolish the slavery that he claims he doesn’t want to see come back.

1) Dan Riehl

When blogger Dan Riehl goes on TV, the network has to use closed-captioning for the thinking-impaired.

It takes a Riehl asshole to write something like this about the dead.

Last September 12th, census worker Bill Sparkman’s body was found in southern Kentucky hanging with the word “Fed” scrawled across his chest. Rather than embracing the far likelier scenario that he could’ve been killed by some antebellum, gubmint-hatin’ redneck, Riehl offered a more compelling theory into the federal employee’s murder:
Sparkman's bio and work history suggests at the least he was not just your average guy. No teaching degree, no full-time means of employment and no wife or kids so far as I am aware. But he certainly did gravitate towards children. I can't help but wonder if this wasn't a revenge killing disguised to look like something else. If he did have issues in this regard and messed with the wrong kid, it isn't as if something like that can be ruled out until we know more.

Point in fact, Sparkman adopted one boy and attended college and there are no indications that he was some loner who hung around school yards wearing nothing but a raincoat. But try telling that to a right wing stooge like Riehl who makes Debbie Schlussel look like Murphy Brown by comparison.

(Image courtesy of Sadly No!.)

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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