Monday, November 30, 2009

I Don't Want to Hear the Name of Willie Horton...

...pass Republican lips ever again, especially after this in Seattle.

Because extending a furlough for a convicted rapist and murderer is not quite the same thing as commuting a 95 year-long sentence for a guy with a rap sheet longer than your arm, someone who would go on to, without provocation, cold-bloodedly kill four police officers in a coffee shop.

And if I'm unfairly making political hay over this, hey, sue me. There were no such prohibitions as far as the GOP was concerned in 1988.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fox News at its Finest, Part VII

"This is Baghdad Bob for Fox News..."

Fox News Gives 110% and, in some cases, 193% (Tip o' the tinfoil hat to Bluegal at Crooks and Liars).

Talk about a bounce. Just last July, only 6% of Fox viewers saw Palin as being the next president.

Pay no attention to the fact that Bush won by a handy margin. Fox still named Britney Spears the winner with Paris Hilton placing.

Fox got busted trying to pass off this GOP press release thinly veiled as "journalism", even including the time-warping typo of "12/19/09."

Then of course, there's this classic from last September, in which Fox not only used the wrong screengrabs and videos, they even claimed to be the only network to cover the 9/12 teabaggery and even publicized this pseudo-fact with full-page ads in the Washington Post,the Murdoch-owned WSJ and the New York Post.

How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN miss the the story of Egypt packing up and relocating from northern Africa to the Middle East?

There's an ironic twist that somehow concerns Mark Foley (D-FL) but I'll be damned if I know what it is...

Some people are iron-deficient. Others are irony-deficient.

Wow! Great news! Except that the GOP's "plan" ignores the premium caps included in the Democratic plan, but, hey, details, details... And while we're on the subject...

Since seriously considering what an old right wing actor thinks worked out so well for us between 1981-1989.

However, let it not be said that the sons and daughters of Rupert Murdoch aren't honest about themselves from time to time...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Dinner Crashers

At this point, the only thing that amazes me is that the Secret Service didn't let Michaele and Tareq Salahi babysit the First Daughters.

There's been concern since Ronald Kessler's book about the president's safety in which he said cost-cutting measures would have to be taken in some of their details, including the elite detail that protects the Chief Executive. We'd seen shockingly lax security this past summer with armed protesters at presidential Town Halls sporting AR15's within a couple of hundred yards of Mr. Obama. The Secret Service denied any such cost-cutting measures were taken but last Tuesday night would make a cynic think the presidential detail was outsourced to a temp agency.

Because what happened at the President's first State dinner on the 24th just exceeds even the most unshakable suspension of disbelief because Michaele and Tareq Salahi, a Virginia couple, were not only allowed to slip into a state dinner honoring the Prime Minister of India, they were even allowed to shake the president's hand.

Thank goodness their intentions were strictly peaceful and that the President and First Lady were never in even the slightest danger. Magnetometers still had to screen them and all the guests but these people weren't guests. They were never on the guest list, yet the Secret Service, clipboards of the guest list in their hands, still let them slip into the White House and to make physical contact with the President.

Hopefully, the Treasury Department agents responsible for this will, at best, find themselves guarding and cleaning up after Bo, the First Pet or maybe chasing down counterfeiters in Anchorage, Alaska.

To put it simply, this kind of lax security is absolutely unforgivable.

Not only were the Salahis allowed to get within arm's reach of the President, they even posed for other pictures. Here's Michaele posing with three United States Marines in front of the White House.

Here's another one of the Salahis posing with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

And here's yet another of the Salahis mugging with Vice President Joe Biden. Note that these are screengrabs taken off their Facebook page.

If the Salahis are guilty of falsifying their credentials or otherwise lying to get within inches of the President of the United States, then they deserve to be prosecuted and convicted.

Yet we're not hearing nearly enough about the comeuppance that's certainly due these men and women who are supposed to be guarding the First Family. You and I both know, Faithful Reader, that this simply would've been impossible, as it should have been, when George W. Bush was pretending to be president. People were thrown out of "Town Halls" hosted by Bush just for wearing pro Democratic Party or anti-Bush tee shirts (although not by the real Secret Service but pretenders like the Salahis).

Mind you, President Obama has received literally 400% more death threats than George W. Bush ever did. And part of the reason why the Secret Service is strapped for cash and has been for years is because Bush shorted them to the tune of $45,000,000 back in 2001.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Should We Ever Believe Hal Turner?

This is a guy who was seriously planning on filling balloons with poison a la the Joker in 1989's Batman to sabotage President Obama's inauguration, gave detailed instructions on his blog for making ricin and threatened the life of virtually everyone in the country who ever laid their hand on a Bible if they didn't see things his way. Why should we believe Fat Harry now?

Because Firedoglake's emptywheel says we should this one time. Says Main Justice under Marcy's byline,
A subpoena has been issued for Gov.-elect Chris Christie to appear next month at the federal trial of North Bergen Internet radio host and blogger Hal Turner.

Michael Orozco, Turner’s lawyer, said in an affadavit supporting the subpoena, that Christie, as the U.S. Attorney, knew that Turner was working with the FBI, Christie gave legal advice to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force regarding Turner, and issued a “Blanket Letter of Declination,” refusing to prosecute Turner.

New Jersey Gov.-elect Christie then went on to say, " would be hard to testify because of the internal deliberations and other legal issues that go into the decision-making process.

'It’s very difficult for a U.S. Attorney to testify,' he said. 'We’ll see what happens during the road.'"

Shorter Christie: I'm above the law even when I cover for a wild-eyed, conspiracy theory-spouting racist and thug like Hal Turner. What Hal did for us and the FBI is so super duper secret that we can't even talk about it.

Gee, sound familiar? Are we hearing "executive privilege" before Governor-elect Christie even becomes the chief executive of New Jersey?

It wouldn't be the first time the New Jersey USA's office has come under fire. Hell, just yesterday Zach Roth at TPMMuckraker ran this story about former NJ AUSA Paul Bergrin, who'd succumbed to Donnie Brasco Syndrome and became one of the criminals that he'd represented, including drug dealing, pimping and even murdering at least two witnesses.

Just remember, Christie was one of the US Attorneys who continued serving at the pleasure of George W. Bush, junior co-President of the United States. And he gave cover to a guy who's now up on several federal charges of threatening the lives of three judges and several state lawmakers, a guy who recently threatened the lives of 246 United States congressmen, as well as the lives of then-senator Barack Obama and sitting President George W. Bush.

Looks like The Sopranos, far from being a crime drama, was David Chase's attempt to show us the nicer, more ethical side of New Jersey.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pottersville Mailbag

...this one from wifey:

Dear barbara,

Thank you for contacting!

On November 20, 2009 we made the decision to remove all Psalms 109:8 designs from CafePress.

The public debate started with questioning if the design was simply intended to be criticism of the President or something much worse. The discourse was surprisingly civil online, given the heated nature of the topic. Given that, and the positions of groups like the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League, we decided to let the dialogue play out publicly before making a final decision.

Last night we posted a poll on our blog, read through the emails we’ve received and weighed the nature of the calls we’ve received on the topic. In the process we also learned that many of the original designers of the Psalm 109:8 designs had already decided to remove them on their own.

General consensus has proven that the design does point to a broader interpretation of the Psalm and thus has been deemed inappropriate for sale at CafePress.

We try to create an atmosphere of self-expression. Many of the things we encounter are not black and white, but grey. When the dialogue is civil, we want to let the larger community work things out rather than making an uninformed ruling. The dialogue has played out and common sentiment has reached agreement – this merchandise is not appropriate.

Thank you all for your input.

Your ticket code is LTK419086350596X. Please use this code in any further communication.

Best Regards,

Margene H.
Content Usage Associate
(650) 655-3104 (O)
(650) 240-0260 (F)

Originally, they'd sent her a noncommittal boilerplate letter in response to her writing them, in no uncertain terms, she'd never buy their products ever again. They never even mentioned the Psalm 109:8 flap.

This letter explains why, since they wanted to see how the debate would shake out and what the consensus would be.

But since when does everything need a consensus? What Cafepress is saying here is the same thing we hear from politicians every election year: We'll pretend you're in charge of the issues and we'll do what the demographic of the day demands.

Some things are self-evident and aren't subject to "broader interpretations." Psalm 109:8 is a pretty, pardon the phrase, black and white imprecation, a curse. It doesn't just call for removal from office, it calls for his wife to be a widow. And they mentioned President Obama by name.

Cafepress dropped the ball on this one and I say fuck 'em. I have never bought anything from them and I certainly don't plan on it now, whether or not they pulled the offensive merchandise. It directly and specifically threatened the life of the President of the United States and cursed the First Family and Cafepress tried to (and did) make a buck off it.

The Bone Bridge: Chapters 28-30

28, 29 and 30, the first three chapters of Part Two, are up. Enjoy. This will be it until well after Thanksgiving.

If I don't get a chance to post again, a safe and happy Turkey Day to all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

He's Our President

If you've been an American for more than 60 seconds, then you don't need me or anyone else to tell you what happened on November 22, 1963. It wasn't just the day Aldous Huxley died.

Many, many Americans who were alive when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas have also since passed. Fewer and fewer Americans remain alive, people who were around and felt the jarring, world-shaking impact of however many bullets were fired by snipers. Even Kennedy's enemies were horrified. The nation unified, rallied around Lyndon Johnson, the 36th president, from the moment he took office at Love Field in Dallas. It was a unification that wouldn't be given another Chief Executive until the next major disaster on 9/11/2001.

But everything, even the most horrendous events, ossify into history. Everything loses its impact, starting with living emotional memory.

Now we're making another of the same mistakes that humans make in their cyclical idiocy. People are telling us to prepare for war if democracy and the majority of voters fail to vote out people they don't like. People are "praying" for President Obama, even if the prayer is from Psalm 109:8, that states, "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

Even Kennedy's mortal enemies, and he had many to be sure, weren't so crass as to try to make a buck off their own derangement syndrome.

We have learned nothing. We have not even learned that we have learned nothing, we're such a historically-comatose, stupified nation, a collectively bloated, self-absorbed WALL*E nation of semi-sentient blobs. We still have yet to learn, nor will likely ever learn, of the folly, the tragedy, the sheer human and financial waste of needlessly invading and occupying nations. We've yet to learn how dangerous our words are when political commentary plainly veers into sedition, treason and openly inciting violence.

When Kennedy's head was blown off in Dallas 46 years ago, everyone but the people involved were shocked and stunned beyond words. Long forgotten before his coffin was pulled down Pennsylvania Avenue by a riderless horse was the hate rhetoric, the wanted posters of Kennedy as a war criminal distributed throughout Dallas on November 22nd.

But there was no sense of responsibility, of accountability, and it didn't matter very much whether Kennedy was killed by a lone nut named Lee Harvey Oswald who'd responded to the hate rhetoric or if it was a well-orchestrated but badly covered-up conspiracy.

This time around, we are all responsible if we don't stand up and push back against the ignorant hatred and outright bigotry and racism that dares not speak its name ("Me, bigoted? That's laughable."). We all will be to blame if we don't push back against ignorant and factually bankrupt associations (Obama and Ft. Hood, like Saddam and al Qaeda, Iraq and 911, etc.).

Instead, we ought to echo the words of lifelong Republican John Wayne, who famously said after Kennedy's election, "I didn't vote for him, but he's my president and I hope he does a good job."

I won't be reciting Psalm 109:8 any time soon but I will give that an amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An Inspirational Story

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was an inspirational man, a man who rallied and encouraged a brain-damaged war President through an illegal, ill-advised war with a country innocent of any wrongdoing against American interests by spicing up Bush's war briefings with Biblical scripture. Yes, Rummy was a man who inspired countless numbers of people but from where did Rummy get his inspiration?

The KGB. Because, according to ABC News (tip o' the tinfoil hat to A Tiny Revolution by way of Crooks and Liars), Rumsfeld in 2005 visited Vilnius, Lithuania where the CIA just happened to build a torture palace in place of a riding academy.

Rummy said after his visit,
I also had the chance to spend an enjoyable and educational Sunday morning walking through your historic, old town district and visiting the KGB museum. The museum was a stark reminder of the importance of preserving our liberty at all costs...

Dog whistle for, "We can learn a lot from the most brutal secret police organization in world history and put a bright, clean face on torture by doing so in the interests of American freedom."

No doubt, this is very much what Rummy's desk looked like at the Pentagon, except Pravda would've been replaced with the National Review.

How inspiring to the rest of us when an inspirational man such as Rummy gets inspired by the most brutal thugs in all of Eastern Europe, that he could consider such a tour as not only educational but "enjoyable."

In 2006 in his A Question of Torture, CIA critic Alfred McCoy drew a direct connection between the CIA's methods of torture and that used by the KGB, the secret police of a regime that was hypocritically reviled by the very same type of Republicans who would embrace their torture methods (McCoy has been such a gadfly to the CIA that they'd even tried to suppress publication of one of his expose books.).

So McCoy's persuasive proof that we'd derived inspiration from the KGB (as well as the Koreans and Red Chinese) in our methods of torture is not news (or underreported news) but I've never actually seen proof that any high ranking government official has openly embraced such methods as "enjoyable" and "educational." No doubt his old buddy Cheney, had he been there, would've spooged in his pants.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pettiti and Asses

The (task force) recommends against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years. - U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, Nov. 17, 2009

When I read stories such as this from guys like Michael Collins I have to wonder aloud how far we've really gotten from the fake panels and ignorant civilians that always seemed to be employed by the Bush administration.

True, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius did the right thing and swiftly denounced a report from an HHS-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force panel claiming that breast examinations weren't all that important for women aged 40-49. Secretary Sibelius said in her official response,
The U.S. Preventive Task Force is an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations. They do not set federal policy and they don't determine what services are covered by the federal government... My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years - talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, they even recommended against regular mammography screenings for women in that risky demographic.

The panel of 16 members, including two nurses and a researcher (but she had a PhD!) had not one single oncologist or anyone with a recorded history of treating cancer. Huh? How could this be, since the thrust of the panel was preventive medicine.

So who was one of the voices of this panel? None other than the ironically-named Dr. Diane Pettiti, M.D. Who is Dr. Diane Pettiti, MD? She is, to quote Michael Collins' simple description, "a health policy and medical advisor for Kaiser Permanente of Southern California." Kaiser Permanente? The people mentioned often in Michael Moore's SiCKO, the largest health insurer in the country, the one that routinely shoves uninsured patients into cabs and leaves them wandering the streets of LA in the general vicinity of free clinics with the IV's still in their arms?

The Kaiser Permanente who, under Richard Nixon in 1971, began to change the way HMO's would cover their policy-holders, the one that became the soulless juggernaut prizing profits over the health of their policy-holders, the model for other HMOs to emulate over the next four decades?

That Kaiser Permanente?

WUSA did an in-depth report and found out that three of the panel members had ties to the health care industry, not including Pettiti. The furor stated when NPR's Diane Rehm had Dr. Pettiti on her show and asked her point blank how many oncologists were on the panel and she couldn't answer. Among others, Dr. Rebecca Zurrbier, MD was listening to Rehm's show and became enraged by what she'd heard. Dr. Zurrbier is the Chief of Breast imaging at Sibley Memorial Hospital in DC and when she went public with her own outrage, Secretary Sibelius had no choice but to denounce the report the day after it came out.

Question: How could this happen under Sibelius' nose and why were oncologists and breast cancer specialists seemingly deliberately omitted from a 16 member panel supposedly dedicated to preventive medicine such as mammograms? Why were so many of them affiliated with a health care racket and a notorious HMO like Kaiser Permanente that would love nothing more than for people to stop getting sick and to squander their bottom line on frivolous things such as cancer screenings?

And how come it was up to NPR, WUSA and a breast imaging chief of staff to turn up this obviously tilted panel?

We had enough of this shit under the Bush years. Under Bush, we had a 24 year-old college dropout determining what NASA scientists could or couldn't say about the Big Bang. We had religious fundmentalists in the FDA spreading the wrong ideas about womens' health and birth control and others who owned stocks in the food and medical device industry they were supposed to regulate. We saw the same suppression of information in the EPA, the Surgeon General's office and other places. Under Bush, there was an all out Cold War against science that poo-pooed global warming, the plight of the polar bear, evolution, stem cell research, even the origins of the universe.

But at least it can be said that the shills and ideological rodeo clowns of the pathetic dumb show that was the Bush administration earnestly believed through some tragic misguidance the positions they took.

This panel of preventive medicine was acting largely, if not solely, in the interests of health care profits. And that's what makes this HHS-sponsored panel even more despicable.

And this report came out a little over two weeks after Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Believe it or not, there are still many women who die from breast cancer through lack of education. In fact, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among US women (after lung) . According to, 40,170 women (and 440 men) are expected to die of the disease this year. stated late last September that 192,370 women will be diagnosed with the disease in 2009. So how important is screening, in reality?

Early last year, the British National Health Service released a finding that was hardly startling but one that stands in stark contrast to the "findings" of the voodoo panel that briefly had the HHS seal of approval written all over it: The NHS determined that merely getting screened halves cancer deaths. If that goes for the UK, why shouldn't it go for the US?

Molly Ivins, liberal icon and one of the greatest political journalists of our time, said just before her own death of breast cancer, "Get. The. Damned. Test. Done."

And while we're renewing the battle to have women (and men) screened for breast cancer (and to examine themselves once a month), let's also renew calls to screen out industry ideologues and shills who will try to get away with saying anything even though it could result in the deaths of close to 200,000 women just so they could keep their employers and their shareholders fat and happy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Bone Bridge - Chapters 26 & 27

Chapters 26 and a very long 27 are up. And this concludes Part One. I'm already up to chapter 35 so I'm way ahead of you guys and have a lot left (roughly 15,000 words) in the tank.

If you thought Part One was weird, wait'll you get a load of Part Two. Then you'll find out how the other half lives (or not).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Major Hasan-13, Saddam Hussein-0

There are many reasons why, despite having an all too typical spineless centrist Democrat in the White House, we should be more grateful than ever that George W. Bush is still not occupying it. Presidential term limits denied us the excitement of seeing yet another Diebold/ES&S/Sequioa/Karl Rove-rigged election that would’ve resulted in a third term for one who had to be the most surreally inept and unqualified boob whose portrait was ever hung in a federal building.

Yet consider what would’ve happened as a result of Major Hasan’s shooting at Fort Hood last week if Dubya was still squatting in the Oval Office and especially if the Republicans were still running Congress while they weren’t engaging in furtive, extramarital affairs, lining their pockets with soft PAC and bribe money and turning graft into a largely-passive spectator sport:

Major Hasan is obviously a very deeply disturbed man whose fundamentalist Muslim beliefs eventually won out over his psychiatric training, humanity, patriotism, oath to defend his adopted country and pragmatism. Yet if George W. Bush was still running from the center ring his pathetic yet highly lucrative and deadly flea circus, Major Hasan would’ve been linked to virtually every Muslim terrorist group on the planet. Plus we probably would’ve renewed our dedication to the destruction of Afghanistan, the source of Dr. Hasan’s discontent, even moreso than President Obama already had.

We’d be seeing even more Muslims detained at airports and put on terrorist No Fly watch lists and Gitmo and torture palaces in places such as Syria and Egypt would be steadily filling up again under a ramped-up extraordinary rendition program. Who knows? In Dubya’s Christian fervor, we may have even invaded another weak Muslim nation in response.

Look what we’ve done to Iraq so far and Saddam Hussein, a former ally in the Reagan years, hadn’t been responsible for the taking of an American life or even threatening an American life since a few dozen of our men and women were killed during Operation Desert Storm in early 1991.

Even if Republicans remained in the minority, you could count on an invertebrate Democrat majority under Bush to remain just as supine as they were during the first 6 years of his Reign of Error. This is a Democratic Party that gave their Republican overlords the power to invade Iraq, designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, officially condemned for telling the truth about Gen. Petraeus, renewed the USA PATRIOT Act with the draconian sections 215 & 218 intact, helped give retroactive immunity to the telecom giants for illegally spying on us, ratified with hardly a Nay Jane Harmon’s HR 1955 that would label bloggers and other dissenters as potential terrorist threats, year after year shoveled tens of billions into Iraq without asking for nor getting any worthwhile results, voted in the Military Tribunal Act, refused to seriously entertain articles of impeachment and a whole host of other complicit evils.

Major Hasan’s murder spree, while certainly horrific, would’ve been conflated into another 9/11. Starting with Fox “News”, terrorist threat assessments in all their pastel glory would be back on TV every day in advance of the 2010 midterms and we’d be rounding up the usual suspects of those suspected of comprising part of Major Hasan’s nonexistent support network. Think of the poster board of the 19 9/11 hijackers that was leaked to the press within hours after the attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania and the underreported and inconvenient fact that about half those men were still alive. Think of Mohammed Atta’s pristine passport found several hundred yards from Ground Zero.

Yes, the Obama administration has deeply disappointed me and regardless of what this man will do in the next 3+ years, he has permanently lost my vote. But we should all be thankful for small favors, grateful this coming Thanksgiving that we don’t still have a neoChristian warrior in the White House who is dedicated to the extermination one way or the other of every Muslim on the planet. In a way, if we had a Muslim President as Fox would have us believe, perhaps we as a nation would immediately have some actual credibility in the Middle East and could even more quickly begin a diplomatic process that would usher in a period of healing after this last Stupid White Man crusade.

As Thom Hartmann said last November 11th, the White House (and the disillusioned American people) needed a super hero, a St. George who could slay a dragon and it didn’t matter to us at first if the dragon that St. George slew was still a threat or even real, whether or not it was Dick Cheney hunting canned pheasants on a larger scale. They’d demonized an aging dictator whose days were numbered while forgetting all about the very real supervillain that was Osama bin Laden.

George of the Bungle, St. George Dubya, The Lord of War, was a superhero whose only power was in choosing old, incompetent enemies. He could’ve accepted the offer of Mullah Omar of Afghanistan's Taliban, who before the largely-unexamined rubble at Ground Zero was carted away offered to hand over bin Laden gift-wrapped or have him tried for 9/11. He could’ve told French special forces snipers to take out bin Laden when they had him in their crosshairs not once but twice. He could’ve dispatched our forces to Tora Bora more quickly instead of letting Musharaff’s men take point then loaf their way to the mountain pass while bin Laden was airlifted out like Jimi Hendrix leaving Woodstock (But to show that we still respected their opinion, we have the consolation of knowing that four years later, the Bush administration earmarked a half a million of our tax dollars to get the Taliban to the negotiating table, an amazingly generous offer that was rebuffed.).

He had real, effective options, Super George did, yet did absolutely nothing while his Justice League (aka the Coalition of the Willing) loitered. 6 months after 9/11, bin Laden was no longer Hitler but a fading unpleasant memory, hardly worth the time and cavernous space in George’s beautiful mind. Meanwhile, Iraq had become Nazi Germany, Saddam had become the Hitler du jour and many wealthy men got even wealthier while Iraqi children continued dying of cancer due to Daddy’s depleted uranium shells and hospitals and cancer clinics crumbled before they were even finished.

We the people had begun to see SuperGeorge as did Molly Ivins for the bumbling, ineffectual buffoon that he was after putting on blinders during the 2000 election. Then, the second we were attacked on 9/11, a blitzkrieg killing almost 3000 innocents that could’ve been avoided in so many ways yet wasn’t, we kicked back to the curb Ivins and precious few others in the reality-based community as we scrambled to put those blinders back on. And still, to this day, we have yet to completely take them off.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Elegy For Sweetie

“It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

When you stopped eating, so did I.
When you were pained, I was pained.
On Friday the 13th you chose to die.
In a way, it was preordained.

Because this year, each day’s today,
A year my life’s been tempest-tossed,
A horrid tale of Groundhog Day
Characterized by grief and loss.

This year, I’m out of character,
Praying to God and writing verse.
And very like a startled actor,
Knocked off role by a careless curse.

I can’t imagine how your death
Affects your Mommy, my poor wife.
I’m thankful that your final breath
Came while we slept in muted strife.

And even though you brought such grief
Into a life already wracked,
I’m grateful for your love, as brief
As it was, something my life lacked.

You lived up to your name, my friend,
You taught us lessons that were sound.
I would prefer you’d shared my end
And not the other way around.

Yet, summoning your failing might,
You walked up to me yesterday,
Though you’d but hours left to fight,
Bringing consolation to my day.

Your love was unconditional,
Your patience saintly, limitless.
Last night, our life was poor, pure Hell.
And yet today, we’ve so much less.

Love, Mommy and Daddy, 11/13/09

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black Friday

Most of us say TGIF. We dread Fridays. Last Friday our car died. And why should Friday the 13th be any different?

The most important lesson I've learned through this whole ordeal is this: Mercy, humanity and compassion are always trumped by a name on a dotted line of a deed or mortgage and that the very act of pleading for mercy, humanity and compassion is nothing more than "harassment."

Four days ago, Sweetie, our cat, stopped eating. For weeks, the only way she'd eat is if I'd spoon-fed her her favorite food (salmon). I was virtually the only person who kept her alive because she'd eat for me and not even Barb.

When our little fighter gave up and stopped eating early this week, I knew the end was near. She weighed perhaps no more than four pounds and I knew that organ failure was imminent. I took stock of our situation. We rent an upstairs apartment. We have no front or back yard. We can't afford cremation or a full-blown funeral. Our car died a week ago and we have at least $800 in car repair bills plus $650 in rent to worry about coming up with.

I figured, since I'd mowed her lawns hundreds of times and literally put my blood, sweat and tears into her property over the last 15 years, that I would've earned the right to bury our sweet little cat in Ingrid's back yard next to Sheena so we could give her a dignified goodbye. I emailed her asking her for a 15 minute moratorium on her No Trespass order in exchange for over 15 years of selfless and hard work. That's a good exchange, I thought. I was ignored. I emailed her again and was ignored. I texted her when the end was near last night. I was ignored. I left a message on her voice mail begging her for mercy. At that time, Sweetie's front legs were up and outstretched, as if reaching for the light.

Finally, she responded. Through the police. They called my cell phone and claimed I was "harassing" her and threatened me with another restraining order. The organ donor on the other end also said I wasn't making any sense when I simply asked for a place to bury our poor little cat, our devoted little friend. What were my options? Throwing her body in the dumpster? Sticking her in the freezer? I gave Ingrid a way out of this and to show some mercy and compassion for an innocent little animal who never went out of her way to hurt anyone.

But, as usual, she had to have everything her way and, once again, marched into the local police station waving printouts of my emails. And, as usual, their reverse chauvinism allowed them to see things her way and to allow themselves to be used as her private security force.

Meanwhile, Barb and I were all alone in the world during this death watch. Twice I thought she was dead and twice I was wrong. It's ironic that in these four days since she'd stopped eating, her always-troubled and noisy breathing got quiet. We laid her next to us in bed while she moved her legs, occasionally mewing, as if she was meeting God or St. Peter.

But it wasn't God. He ignored me when I prayed to him in desperation. I've been ignored by dozens of literary agents, dozens of prospective employers, by people who used to be loved ones. Why should God be any different?

By this morning she was finally gone. My little friend, who just yesterday afternoon in the final hours of her life somehow mustered her failing strength to walk up to me and nuzzle against me as if to say, "It's OK," finally crossed over.

My little friend is gone as are all the friends I ever had and lost this year. Sweetie can teach certain people some lessons. Lessons in how to love unconditionally. Lessons in tolerance and patience (she went through hell during the drive up from Vero Beach.) Lessons in not easily giving up on that which is most precious in this world.

Instead, the lesson I learned is that a name on a dotted line trumps any appeal for mercy and compassion when you have no other humane options. And it doesn't matter if that name on the dotted line happens to be that of a soulless husk and black hole of a... human being, for want of a better phrase.

That poor little cat, who never asked for cancer and who loved everyone, a cat named Sweetie who lived up to her name in every way, shape and form, deserved better. I'm glad that she found Barb and then me. I'm glad that her end came in a warm bed next to two people who loved her mightily. I'm grateful that they both reminded me that, yes, compassion and humanity are never the wrong things to ask for.

I'm ashamed that I wasted the last 15 years on Ingrid Reed and her lying, larcenous, viper's nest of a family. I'm ashamed to admit that I ever knew her or her progeny. But those 15 wasted years were redeemed in the last 14 weeks of my life, which is how long Sweetie was my friend. She'd lived a hard life in the wilds of Stamford, CT where she had to hunt for her own food and did it badly. She was fortunate enough to find Barb and then she was fortunate enough to find me and, knowing she was ill (though I didn't know how ill), I insisted she come up for the trip. Because the alternative, having her turned out by her mother, was intolerable.

And in a way, even though her final four days has been devastating to me (to say nothing about how much her friend of 5-6 years has been devastated), even though her final descent made me cry harder than I ever had in my entire life, dissolving me in long, racking sobs of grief and rage lasting for entire minutes, I have to remember what Tennyson said about loving and losing and how it's better than never loving at all.

And Sweetie, our pet, our devoted little friend, reminded me through her selfless example that love, indeed, can still be justified and worth the grief when it's no longer there.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Congress Pulls the Trigger

Three years ago, You were Time's Man of the Year. By next year, you could be Public Enemy #1.

For years, journalist Michael Collins has been calling them “the Money Party.” It’s a mere paraphrase of Gore Vidal’s very correct assertion that there are no Democratic or Republican parties- There’s only the Corporate Party and the only difference between the two is how fast their knees hit the carpet when a lobbyist walks into their office. I would amend that to say it depends on how fast they can make a well-heeled corporate interest cum against the back of their throat.

In order to see just how evil and hostile our Congress is to their constituents, one need look no further back than the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in the spring of 2005. The bill, written by self-dealing lenders seven and a half years before it passed, was essentially a veiled piece of sarcasm that preemptively sought to paint Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public as criminals or potential criminals for “abusing” the bankruptcy protection laws while these self-same, self-dealing corporations as the poor victims whose Plan B was always the bankruptcy courts, corrupt, irresponsible entities that were given the same protections that are rightfully ours.

The “consumer protection” part of the bill only protected those consumers of shrinking private incomes, namely the credit card companies who largely wrote the bill. They were still able to hike APRs up to 36% and even the subsequent credit card reform bill of this year does little to alleviate these crushing Tony Soprano-like interest rates. It only forces the credit card companies to give you a little more notice before capriciously jacking up your APR whether or not you’re a good customer.

Regarding election reform, it’s long been noted that lawmakers (especially, audaciously, Republicans) and the corporate mainstream media are more prone to believe or to have you believe that the real issue isn’t election fraud perpetrated every other year by multi billion dollar, Republican-connected vote tabulation companies and an army of shadowy, partisan operatives, it’s voter fraud. Forget the fact that only a handful of voter fraud cases were ever prosecuted by the Justice Department between 2002-5. Diebold, ES&S and Sequioa Systems aren't the bad guys. It's ACORN.

We’re also the Dillingers, Bonnie and Clydes and the James Gang. We’re the ones who abuse the bankruptcy system. We’re the ones who bully poor credit card and banking giants. We’re the ones who abuse the election laws. Yet we’re also the ones who have to bail out Wall Street to the tune of trillions and finance two losing wars thousands of miles away for trillions more whether we want to or not.

It can be said that the only truly criminal act perpetrated by the national electorate is when we keep voting into office actual criminals and corporate stooges (from now on referred to as “members of Congress”) and it’s that brief, shining moment when, ironically, we’re appealed to by these earnest, hopeful candidates and incumbents who never think beyond the next election cycle. It’s the one time that we can be trusted to “do the right thing” when we walk into the polls.

How many times in the movies have we seen henchmen and accomplices spring the bad guy from prison or do him some other favor only to see the bad guy turn around and shoot his naïve benefactor in the back? Last Saturday night, the people that we elected to Congress, did it again and this time we can’t blame the Republican Party.

In the dead of Saturday night, the House passed their version of a health reform bill that, frankly, makes Max Baucus’ first health care proposal look like a bleeding heart liberal/socialist piece of legislation by conspicuous relief. One of the most alarming aspects of HR 3962, that passed 220-215 (219 Democrats and one Republican voted for it) are the purely evil sections 7203 and 7201. The less evil of these sections, 7203, calls for $25,000 in fines and up to a year imprisonment for “defying” the federal mandate for getting insurance. That's the misdemeanor. The felony? A quarter of a million dollars in fines and up to five years in prison.

You read that right. A quarter of a million dollars in fines and 60 months in prison for being put in the position of choosing food or your mortgage over health care that are hardly any cheaper than the bloated rates we’re already paying. Add to that the nonpartisan CBO’s projection that any government-run public option would wind up being even more expensive than those offered in the private sector. Add to that the fact that Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans had shoehorned language into the bill that allows individual states to opt out of the public option, a tack favored by the President. It’s called “the trigger option”, so-called because it would trigger the implementation of said so-called option if the private sector doesn’t meet certain conditions.

And those of you who are actually found guilty of the crime of not buying over $100 of health insurance every week will lose their jobs and earning potential. For up to five years, we will not be contributing to anything other than a prison economy. We will not be paying taxes. We will not be paying child support if we already are. And when we get thrown into the prison system, who gets to foot the bill for the health care that we'd defiantly refused to get?

You guessed it: Joe Sixpack and John Q. Public, aka the already burdened US taxpayer.

The Draconian 7203 and 7201 are supposed to be mere threats, deterrents to prevent us from cruelly withholding and willfully denying poor HMOs who are just trying to get by like the rest of us.

But what difference does that make to the rest of us who are held at gunpoint and told, "Don't worry. We won't really shoot you unless you refuse to jump ten feet into the air"?

According to the latest projections, this $1.3 trillion health care bill (HR 3962) passed in the House would force you to buy insurance if you don’t have it already, raise premiums and allow states, including those that have near-monopolies in the health care industry (such as Maine, for instance) to drop out of the program. Essentially, it’s a massive individual mandate without anything resembling a public option and co-ops would essentially be shouldered and jostled out of contention. It would be very easy to imagine health insurance giants leaning on state-level lawmakers to opt out of the federal program.

Perhaps the Republican Party had the right idea about this, all along: Perhaps the last thing we need is health care “reform.” At least under the status quo, 48,000,000 of us can’t afford health insurance but no one’s proposing putting us in jail for the crime of being indigent or fining those that can’t afford even $5300 in annual premiums or $15,000 for family plans (the cheapest single and family plans under the ratified House bill) to the tune of $250,000.

The last such early Christmas present to the health care field, the $800,000,000 gift-wrapped present to Big Pharma from Congress and George W. Bush was just a precursor, a warmup. It was obvious from the gitgo that any health care “reform” would be a massive corporate giveaway seeking to create a captive customer base of hundreds of millions for a part of the private sector that is already richer and more powerful than most national GDPs. And the pre-emptive supposition that any working or unemployed man who chooses to feed his family or pays his mortgage to stave off foreclosure for another month is a potential criminal is plainly the most despicable legislation to come down the Beltway in years. Specifically, four and a half years.

I mentioned the bankruptcy bill of 2005 for another reason. A 2004 Health Affairs study discovered that out of 1,660,245 people who filed for bankruptcy the year before, around half of them did so because medical bills made them default on credit card or mortgage payments. And almost 73% of those people already had health insurance. At the very black heart of the bankruptcy bill was the need for health care reform, something that took four more years to seriously address.

But We the People are under siege by our own Congress. They have met the enemy and do so during every election cycle and it is us.

The House passed a bill last Saturday that forces you to buy health insurance at rates higher than what we’re already paying, without a real public option and credit card companies can still charge you up to 30% interest even if you’re a good customer. It’s impossible to see how this miraculous “jobless recovery” will pan out when unemployed, underemployed and struggling working families are saddled with crushing home lending rates, rising credit card payments and an unwanted mandate that seeks to burden these same families with at least $15,000 in corporately/Congressionally-mandated health care costs that at least now are optional and with little to no real chance of successfully filing for bankruptcy protection. And to somehow be able to do all this with the unemployment now officially at 10.2%.

What I’m proposing here isn’t Monday morning quarterbacking. This is real. The Democratic Congress did this to us last Saturday after the C-SPAN cameras were turned off for the night. It was as if they shot us in the back of the head Soviet-style so as to leave behind no witnesses or to take a bigger cut of the heist. While I’m not lauding the GOP’s motive for opposing it, it can be said that this time, unlike 2005, they didn’t have a hand in this Satanic bill that seeks to enslave and imprison American consumers both literally and figuratively. And why we’re not marching on Capitol Hill right now by the tens of millions, torches, ropes, buckets of hot tar, bags of feathers and pitchforks in hand is anybody’s guess.

And why is it that the only people whom we’d seen come out in full force and in full-throated, well-organized opposition to health care reform was the clearly insane, criminally stupid and willfully ignorant radical factions known as astroturfers and teabaggers?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Some Days You Bite the Snake and Other Days...

The good news is that even without Congress's and the president's help, I got another 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits that were signed into law by MA Gov. Deval Patrick. The president's/Congress' extended benefit bill wouldn't take into effect until well into next year.

Obviously, I rather be working. Old people have to lived on fixed incomes. I ain't old but living on $162 a week (after child support) is.

The bad news?

An hour after I got my claim extended, the transmission of our car shit the bed last night so now we're without a way of getting Barb to work and back 6 miles away. Essentially, we're looking at least $2000 this month for car repairs and rent without even mentioning food, gas, car insurance that it now looks as if we don't need and less than $1600 with which to do it. We're about to look into ride shares on CL and elsewhere but this year's not ending any better than it started for me.

I'll keep ya'll apprised when internet access and opportunities present themselves. Provided I'm not literally as well as figuratively snake-bitten.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tragedy at Fort Hood

There are so many things that are just plain wrong with the mass murder at Ft. Hood that one can hardly begin an accounting.

For some shell-shocked soldiers seeking help at the treatment center, "it was like being back in Iraq" and even a place of healing, stateside, becomes a war zone.

Mikey Weinstein at Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) claims that Dr. Nidal M. Hasan, the alleged killer of 13 and assailant of 30 others, was being persecuted for his Muslim faith (not that murdering 13 and wounding another 30 is a valid response to religious persecution.).

This will give bigoted wingnuts like Ann Coulter, people who already look at Muslims as "a car-burning cult", fresh ammunition, if you'll pardon the phrase.

And our involvement in Afghanistan is allegedly the reason why a psychiatrist, of all people, decided to produce 43 casualties.

If you're a praying person, say a prayer for these poor 43 people, especially the surviving relatives of the 13 slain. If not, shake your head sadly and revere the memories of these people who chose to put their lives in possible jeopardy to keep us safe.

Because who would think that their lives would be put in jeopardy just in the act of seeking medical help and from one of the people who'd ordinarily provide it?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guy Fawkes, A Nation Turns its Blackened Eyes to You.

Dateline: Pottersville, Guy Fawkes Day

This is exactly what I'd love to hear on Fox "News" tonight, courtesy of a "terrorist" pirate TV signal. It's from V For Vendetta, with very minor corrections.
Good evening, Pottersville.

Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any dude. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle or the loss of a Senate majority, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are of course those who do not want me to speak. I suspect even now, ad hominems are being shouted at Fox TV cameras, and anonymous men and women with laptops will soon be logging onto tell us to shut up and suffer in silence. Why? Because while the verbal truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.

Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there?

Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and, as usual, they will not be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it in 2000 and 2004 and 2008. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to George W. Bush then to Barack Obama. They promised you order, they promised you peace, and all they demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. However, on that date seven years ago today you chose to give back our Congress to those very same fiends who conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.

So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Congress, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

Except if American Idol premieres a little early, that is. Then all bets are off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Bone Bridge- Chapters 23, 24 and 25

Here, here and here. I'm already up to Chapter 30, which is the first chapter of part two but from here on in I'm going to be dribbling them out.

I just want to give a shoutout to all the people who sent the hundreds of thousands of dollars to my Paypal account over the last several weeks so I don't have to work any more. Who ever knew that anonymous online cranks were right? I mean, it's not as if I have restricted internet access that sometimes totals five minutes a day that I may or may not get at the local internet cafe or for free at the local library.

Still, as intellectually stimulating as the latest round of comments have been (tellingly, coming at a time when I've given the impression of not being here to defend myself. CAN WE SPELL CLUCK CLUCK, BOYS AND GIRLS?), I'm afriad I've had to resort to comment management (as opposed to censorship) because even a Z list blog like Pottersville has standards to maintain and letting such comments stand as is, without my having either the time nor the inclination to refute them would drag down the average intelligence quotient of this list.

So, really, thanks for letting me turn Pottersville into a highly profitable one-man welfare agency, proving Ronnie Raygun right once again when he warned us about the welfare queens living off the system.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some trees to hump and abortions to do when I ought to be looking for a job.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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