Monday, October 31, 2011

Pottersville in Pictures: Halloween edition

Because, after all, what's scarier than Republicans on the loose?

As Herman Cain looks on, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney explain to Rick Perry that challenging his fellow candidates to a duel isn't a legitimate debating strategy.

The most light-hearted moment of the Las Vegas GOP debate was when Rick Perry regaled the audience with a story of the time he grabbed Rush Limbaugh's ass.

Despite their vastly different backgrounds in business and culture, both Herman Cain and Willard Romney have a special affinity knowing they're the two GOP candidates with the creepiest first names.

By far, the weirdest moment of the GOP debate in Las Vegas was when Governors Mitt Romney and Rick Perry began to inexplicably channel GI Joe action figures.

If Republicans pledged allegiance to what really matters most to them, their right hands would be firmly clamped over their wallets.

Revealing his desperation, Mitt Romney resorts to dirty tricks by singing the Bain Capital corporate anthem to Rick Perry in the hope of putting him to sleep.

On the heels of the Avengers movie is The Injustice League, which is led by the evil Jelly Bean Collector.

Top 10 Herman Cain Pickup Lines

Last night, it was reported in Politico and elsewhere that frontrunning Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain had allegedly sexually harassed two women who'd worked under him at the National Restaurant Association. The Cain campaign vigorously denies the allegations despite being ignorant about an undisclosed payout that also came with a nondisclosure agreement. Among the allegations were the tactics that Mr. Cain used to harass the women. What were they?

  • 10) "Take me to bed, bitch, and you won't have to wait 30 minutes!"

  • 9) "Let's go up to my place so I can explain my 69-69-69 tax plan to ya."

  • 8) "I'm up for anything, honey, except cunnilingus. I don't do anchovies."

  • 7) "Sweetheart, I'm so good in bed, even Mark Block has to have a cigarette afterwards."

  • 6) "I bet you never been Cained by a Georgia blacksnake before."

  • 5) "Bitch, I'll make you an offer you can't refuse!"

  • 4) "I'm Cain if you're Able, baby."

  • 3) "Baby, I got me a pumpernickle bread stick you'll wanna tell your mama about!"

  • 2) "I bet you never had white sauce like mine!"

  • 1) "I got a riddle, baby: What do me and a Godfather's pizza have in common? We're both hot and come in a box!"
  • Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Ricky Retardo, the Piece of Hot Dog in the Esophagus of America

    There are different ways to interpret this speech that easily rivals the worst days Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain ever had on the campaign trail:

    There's the hypothesis that, just for shits and giggles, some practical joker in Perry's campaign hid his meds or slipped him a mickey just before this speech in New Hampshire last night. There's another that Perry somehow fell into a wormhole that ejaculated him out like a noxious ball of rancid semen into some alternate dimension in which right wing talking points reigned supreme (Oh, wait, we all fell into that alternate dimension. Never mind.).

    My personal favorite is that this wasn't a campaign speech at all but an AA intervention and somewhere on the way, and overcome by grief by yet another World Series failure, Perry fell off the wagon. During the intervention, he was then possessed by the spirit of a conservative 13 year-old girl who happened to be in a giddy mood.

    Really, that's the only way to fully explain Perry's performance in New Hampshire where he gushed about the state's motto of "Live free or die" and how Texans love apocalyptic bumper sticker slogans like that. He mentioned the "death tax" and how he would love to see that die before anyone. This is an edited video designed to make Perry look stupid (challenging as that would be, I know) but it comprises almost a third of his 25 minute-long speech. I mean, how much fucking context do you need?

    He gestured, gesticulated and genuflected like a Pope with Parkinson's and ADHD, giggled and essentially did everything but put his index finger under his chin and curtsey before the Republican power brokers in attendance. I've always been an atheist but after reviewing Perry's performance last night, I started believing in God again and began my newfound faith by thanking Him for not making him my governor.

    It's no wonder that Perry has all but decided to abandon the Republican campaign debate circuit in the reality series based on the DSM IV. He's using the tried-and-untrue Republican tactic, the Homer Simpson line, "Stupid (insert any noun or verb)!" when his ineptitude is called out by bloggers and the MSM. Palin had decided to essentially go into Mama Grizzly hibernation after her train wreck of an interview with Katie Couric (which was all her fault, doncha know?).

    And when the strait jacket models of the GOP can make you look like some aging porno star who'd been pummeled senseless and dropped off by your captors at the front door of the debate, your entire body save for your penis tightly wrapped in duct tape, you know your campaign is sucking wind.

    There's really not much to add to this campaign speech except to say if I was a Lone Star resident, this and the World Series would make me want to leave that national embarrassment aka Texas and take out a time share in Hell. And while anklebiters like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann are merely cat hairs in the public eye, Rick Perry is the semi-chewed piece of hot dog in the nation's esophagus. And, despite his 6% support, I've a sick feeling Perry won't be fading away any time soon. After all, if I'd said before this summer that Michele Bachmann then Herman Cain would be leading in the GOP polls, you'd have thought I was as crazy as them.

    Therefore, Rick Perry proves that we're going to be in some need of political Heimlich maneuvering before the GOP convention next summer.

    What if I Say That We'll Never Surrender?

    Instead of Radiohead, maybe we should send Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters to every occupied city in America, which is to say all of them, and maybe they can blast the riot police away like they did four years years ago in their "The Pretender" video. The top and third pictures were taken at Occupy Denver yesterday and the third one, if it isn't an iconic photo of police brutality and repression, ought to be. That cop pointing a gun at the photographer comes screaming straight out of everyone's most paranoid Orwellian nightmares.

    With few exceptions, such as the police in Albany who defied Gov. Andrew Cuomo's and the Albany mayor's orders to arrest the protesters, the police who inexplicably defend the Powers That Be from peaceful protesters who are putting everything on the line for them and everyone else, have been justifiably given a collective black eye. This is no truer than in Oakland, where Scott Olsen, an Iraq War hero and former Marine, was almost killed by Oakland police (or one of the other law enforcement bodies assisting them) who fired indiscriminately and point blank into a crowd of Occupy Oakland protesters. Olsen's now out of danger but his troubles are just beginning since the tear gas canister that was shot into his face may have left him with permanent brain damage.

    Jean Quan, the city's mayor, has proven to be just as clueless and inept as Rudy Giuliani had proven to be on September 11th. Quan had sided with the protesters in a carefully choreographed photo and PR op before siccing the Oakland police on them later that night (while she flew to the White House far from the scene of the crime), only to side with the protesters again when Scott Olsen was almost killed and certain people had a problem with that. Then she threw her new police chief and city manager under the bus by absolving herself of all responsibility. Then in a written address, she belatedly took responsibility. The rookie Quan also said that she'd love to meet with the Occupy Oakland crowd but was confused as to who their leader was.

    Yes, she actually said that.

    But Quan has proven to a symbol of the cluelessness of all leaders at the federal, state and municipal level. Until Occupy Oakland began setting up its tents mere feet from City Hall, Quan had enjoyed a reputation as "a progressive activist." But she's sending out mixed signals to the protesters and the police by agreeing not to evict them (for now) while promising to honor guidelines such as a ten o'clock curfew and a ban on tents in public areas.

    Quan doesn't get it and neither do a lot of other leaders on both sides of the political spectrum. Quan, as with Michael Bloomberg and many other city, state and federal leaders, just don't understand that camping on public property while protesting corporate greed and political corruption is exactly what the Occupy movement is all about.

    The Occupy Wall Street movement and its countless incarnations and analogs all over the world have proven to be quite an effective touchstone that tests the true mettle and allegiances of leaders across the political spectrum. And, almost without exception, even the so-called progressives such as Jean Quan have failed miserably.

    This near-complete breakdown to address the concerns of the 99% (who are really just the other 1%, as Stan Banos at Reciprocity Failure informs us) betrays just how corrupt the political system truly is and how readily it seeks to address the peaceful exercise of first amendment rights with police thuggery not seen since the civil rights and antiwar protests of the 60's. The Occupy Movement reveals in the most vivid way the true allegiances of city, state and national leaders when their corporate benefactors are challenged and called on their unconscionable greed and arrogance. Who will they ultimately side with? What will they do if the protesters say that they'll never surrender?

    Leaders such as Jean Quan have given us their answer.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    This is Cold

    Some Saturday night rocking' to the snow. Cold's "Stupid Girl", dedicated to Michele Bachmann, a woman who is to history and science what Jack the Ripper was to women's rights.

    Why Occupying Wall St. Should Be Only Phase One

    In light of Bank of America's CEO Brian Moynihan being "incensed" at mere verbal criticism of his bank stealing homes that don't belong to it, Wall Street has nothing to complain about. In light of the peaceful, genteel but largely symbolic occupation of Wall Street, they could have fared much worse. They could have gotten a taste of what Iraq and Afghanistan have received from American and coalition forces during their respective occupations. Imagine how incensed these coddled, jiggling plutocrats would've been at the wholesale slaughter of their own and their families and neighbors in the Adirondacks, the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard, their palatial mansions turned into smoking rubble amidst a carnage consisting of human body parts and nine irons.

    No, all things considered, they're getting off quite easily thus far. There are, however, several important distinctions between the "occupation" of Wall Street and our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan: Wall Street is guilty of very real crimes against humanity including countless acts of terrorism, including laundering money for Mexican drug cartels.

    Big Finance muckraker Greg Palast, however, has uncovered the real reason behind Goldman Sachs withdrawing their $5000 to commemorate a small community bank's 25th anniversary and the implications behind this story are much, much more chilling. This is how Palast breaks it down:
    In 2008, the US Treasury handed Goldman Sachs a check for $10bn from the Troubled Asset Recovery Program (Tarp), the bailout funds given to desperate commercial banks. A few eyebrows were raised: Goldman was not desperate, and it certainly was not a commercial bank. Yet – abracadabra! – Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson transformed investment bank Goldman into a commercial bank overnight. (Paulson's prior post was chairman of Goldman Sachs. Just saying.)

    But there was a catch: Goldman would have to return a chunk of the public's billions in the form of loans for low-income customers and members of its "community", as required by the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977. Problem: Goldman has, it seems, no low-income customers, nor a "community". Goldman was directed to find poor people and a community and hand over some cash.

    That's right. Hank Paulson, ex Goldman CEO, after his "former" employer experienced a very rare and mild loss in that quarter, decided to engage in a little semantics to give Goldman $10 billion it neither needed nor even wanted. Despite the fact that Goldman Sachs was and still is an investment firm with no real bank accounts to offer and no branches, Paulson was bound and determined to force down the bottomless throats of one of the most successful Wall Street firms in American history $10 billion to "level the playing field." (To give you an idea of how desperately they needed the money, Goldman paid back their slice of the TARP bailout, with interest, in the least amount of time.)

    But, as Palast says, with the rechristening came new mandated guidelines, namely that Goldman Sachs and any other bailed out bank had to give something back to the community under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 (Thank you, President Carter). The problem was, Goldman Sachs not only didn't have any account holders, they didn't have any poor customers so they had to go slumming.

    That's when they set their sights on the Lower East Side Peoples Credit Union. The $5000 they'd recently yanked back on a string like the high finance pranksters that they are was not a generous donation to reward a small people-owned bank for their community service but the smallest possible token gesture toward discharging an onerous federally-mandated obligation.

    Then the shit hit the fan when Blankfein's boys discovered to their corporate mortification that their five large was going to be used to fete Occupy Wall Street, their unsworn enemy that they'd otherwise officially ignored. They threatened Lower East Side Peoples bank with a lawsuit if they didn't hand back the $5000. Peoples refused so Goldman simply took back the money, anyway, and demanded their names be taken off any literature and invitations for the November 3rd event (Jamie Dimon's dimwits at Citigroup followed suit).

    Goldman Sach's legal obligation to the community is something in the neighborhood of ten figures yet despite their pretenses of philanthropy, they've been doling out the money in dribs and drabs. Now they're using these tiny sums of money in order to wrest political control of the Wall Street debate back to their side. Potentially, this could have a very chilling effect on community activism in the future. If you need to have it summed up for you, here it is:

    Goldman Sachs and other banks are using your taxpayer dollars to make and keep control of political speech. Again, this is not their money, but ours and they're using it against us. So how do we wrest back control of that debate? Well, as Occupy Wall Street suggests, you can start by removing your money from the big Wall Street banks and putting them in credit unions and small community banks.


    To combat a run on the big Wall Street banks, there's a national movement where if you try to close out your account, you'll be falsely imprisoned and arrested on the spot. Yes, Occupy Wall Street's best way to literally physically occupy Wall Street is simply to try to take out their money.

    The thing one has to most love about Lower East Side Peoples Credit Union and those like them is that they're not merely encouraging low income residents to take their business to them: They want their community-based financial template to become the new norm that replaces the sociopathic, world-eating banks on Wall Street. It's a subdued albeit vitally important revolution that Wall Street is scared shitless will actually succeed: A paradigm shift in which banking will not be solely dedicated to printing money on the fly but one in which the community's needs will be paramount, including reasonable student and home loans that empower those who wish to elevate their status in life.

    There are hundreds of billions at stake here and people like Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein are all too well aware of that.

    So the occupation should only be the beginning. When we occupied Iraq, Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority essentially destroyed the Iraqi economy by making Iraq far less competitive in the global marketplace by fiddle fucking with tariffs, throwing people out of work by the hundreds of thousands and essentially co-opting their biggest export: Oil. We crippled the Iraqi economy in order to enrich defense contractors, petroleum giants and, yes, Wall Street banks.

    This particular paradigm shift would be immensely more humane, geared not to impoverishing the common working man but empowering him, in making higher education and quality housing more accessible and affordable and making less usurious loans that the big banks refuse to make with their TARP blood money.

    And an empowered proletariat with actual options is the last thing that Wall Street wants.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    It's Show Time, Folks!

    Just thought ya'll would be interested in hearing a podcast of a telephone interview I just did with Anastassia Smorodinskaya of The Daily National that's been immortalized as a podcast. Why TDN wanted my opinion on anything is anyone's guess because these people aren't some rinky-dink organization. The founder, TJ Walker, for instance, is a Reuters correspondent and Mike Bako, their sports correspondent, has had his work profiled on CNN, CBS and I apologize in advance for the sound quality. It was done over a cell phone but if you listen vewy vewy cwosewy, you'll get the gist.

    Ana wants this to be a weekly feature, btw.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    The Election Crashers

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

    “Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink. And, even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.” - Rick Perry, Fed Up

    Many of us haven't even bought our obligatory Halloween candy, yet, and the 2012 GOP presidential field is already beginning to look like something that only Pirandello could have imagined. It's a Theater of the Absurd extravaganza that we can call Eight Characters in Search of an Offer. And the scariest part of all this Republican playacting is that one of them, by virtue of some half-hearted default that'd catapulted John McCain's pasty ass to the top of the heap in '08, has to win the Republican nomination.

    But to employ a more contemporary and accessible context, the Republican wannabes are more like the political version of the Wedding Crashers. Wedding crashers typically are the most genteel moochers outside of Wall Street, looking not for potential marriage partners but free food, champagne and maybe some pussy on the side. The forced and overbearing ambiance of romance is lost on them. They're just there to eat cake and have it, too.

    The Republicans in this Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World race, Willard, Herman and the rest, have proven to be so inept, clueless and just plain ludicrous as they pander to one extreme element or the other that one must conclude that if Obama gets re-elected by others outside of his own cultish base it'll also be victory by default. The disaffection with the Republican alternative that had gotten him elected President of the United States will get him re-elected.

    And if he does, it'll be without the support of what is plainly a diluted Democratic Congress. In the last three or four Congresses, every noteworthy liberal Democrat on the Hill has been muzzled either by getting voted out (Max Cleland, Alan Grayson and Russ Feingold), death (Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy), resigning for greener pastures and later disgrace (John Edwards) or inexplicable silence (Barbara Boxer and John Conyers).

    Herman Cain, a lunatic that only another pathetic lunatic from Smegma, Tennessee choking back his own bile-engorged racism could possibly find appealing, is certainly the strangest bird in the coop. Cain is a man who, thus far, has won just a Florida straw poll, derived his 9-9-9 tax plan from Sim City and the strangest campaign ads since Mike Gravel (including one featuring Fox B actor Nick Searcy who also thought it was a good idea to get people to vote for Cain by playing himself, a snotty, temperamental B actor who's incapable of remembering a two-word line such as "Get real.").

    Cain has another ad that's out in which Cain Chief of Staff Mark Block calmly tells us why Herman Cain is the best alternative to Willard Romney then sucks on a cigarette as if in post-coital bliss, thereby making everyone forget about Cain and his alleged message.

    Cain is leading every Republican contender by four points, garnering 25% support throughout Crazy Base World. One keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop, which will be the day that Cain says to his staff, "OK, you all realize this is a joke campaign to fill my lonely hours, right? I mean, c'mon, I'm just Herman Cain, bitches! I ran a pizza company, for Christ's sake!"

    The other Republicans are hardly any more appetizing, with real heartfelt appeal grudgingly given to bottom tier candidates Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman not for a strong message or real solutions but a conspicuous lack of shithouse rat-on-fire insanity (They could each adopt as a campaign slogan, "The Unbearable Lightness of Bugshit Craziness"). On the other end of the spectrum was last month's flavor of the day Rick "Gov. Goodhair" Perry, who wasted no time whatsoever immolating his campaign barely 24 hours after announcing his candidacy by suggesting we should execute Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Then there's the pesky issues of owning stock in a porno distributor, literally praying for rain to no effect and his questionable taste in hunting lodges.

    Michele Bachmann, Jim Jones in drag and desperately looking for a cult, is saddled with a closeted husband whose antigay clinic received $137,000 in Medicaid dollars to Pray teh Gay Away and is willing to give women their choice regarding light bulbs but not their uteri. And don't even get me started on Rick "Please Stop Googling Me" Santorum and Mitt Romney, the world's scariest and most dangerous game show host and the only man alive who by conspicuous relief can give polymer organic appeal.

    Until a couple of months ago, it was impossible to imagine that Sarah Palin could upstage at least half of these contenders in terms of erudition, articulateness, polish and a grasp of the issues but here we are.

    Into this autocoprophagic melee steps Barack Obama, a man with identical approval and disapproval ratings according to the new NY Times-CBS poll (46 each, although the latest Rasmussen results shows only 19% polled "strongly approve" of the job the President is doing, with just a 43% total approval rating.).

    If Barack Obama pulls off his re-election bid, he'll be the only President elected to two terms based on little else but fear of the opposition rather than actual achievement. Even though the nation is erupting in anti-government and anti-corruption outrage at its employers Wall Street, Obama has done nothing but give brief lip service to #OccupyWallStreet in spite of the fact that it's no longer a national phenomenon but a global one and unforgivably insulted the #OWS protesters by saying they were no different than the Tea Baggers.

    Obama simply doesn't get it since his own tepid jobs plan (which would've emulated what's being done in Georgia, i.e. making poor unemployed work for corporations for free) got shot down faster than John McCain over Hanoi by the minority Senate Republicans who, amazingly, have even fewer ideas than the White House regarding job creation save for "Cut taxes!"

    It would be a crying shame if we gave ourselves another four more years of this because we wanted to stretch out for another 48 months what is virtually inevitable: The Republican wet dream of hurling us back to the 19th century.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Libya: The Flaming Bag of Dogshit Left on the Stoop of the World

    That's exactly what other world leaders have been acting like since Qaddafi was essentially lynched by his own people. Those who had no problem whatsoever in being photographed with him just in the last couple of years are now doing what all statesmen (i.e. experts in the highest level of cowardice) do when one of their own falls into extreme disfavor and support no longer is politically or economically expedient: Distance themselves from him and to denounce him.

    They're like a group of kids who all conspired to set fire to a flaming bag of dog shit on the stoop of the world, ran away and then retroactively blamed the one who got nabbed: Muammer Qaddafi.

    These statesmen include

    Sen. John McCain, who promised to get weapons and upgrades for Qaddafi, according to Wikileaks...

    ...which isn't at all reminiscent of another completely, non-similar situation from the 80's...'s oldest whoremeister Silvio Berlusconi, seen above with Gaddafi just last year, who recently said of Qaddafi's execution, "Sic transit gloria mundi", Latin for, "I told the prick his days were numbered", obviously during a party he'd held for Qaddafi late August of last year.

    President Obama hailed the lynching of Qaddafi as a foreign policy success (although, to be fair to the incumbent President, Mr. Obama was at least more serious and proactive about Qaddafi than another President I can name.).

    And Republicans such Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley and, ironically, John McCain, have all chimed in to hail the good news and to say that Britain and France deserve most of the credit, despite ready evidence to the contrary, which almost made Jon Stewart's head explode.

    What was lost on Jon Stewart, or what he'd chosen to ignore, was the fact that the Republicans were merely parroting what the Obama administration said just five months ago when it, too, downplayed America's involvement in Libya, which at the time was widely viewed as yet another example of American, imperialistic, cockwanding adventurism that lasted not "days not weeks", as Obama promised Congressional leaders last March 18th, but months.

    It goes without saying the Republicans have their own agenda and are bound and determined not to give the president any credit for anything even if he rips off his business suit, flies into outer space in his Superman costume and singlehandedly deflects a meteor screaming toward earth. But the Republicans were, technically, merely repeating what the loathed and reviled Obama administration had said this past spring. Yet anyone with one eye knows that the "rebels" wouldn't have had a chance at taking Tripoli and other key Qaddafi strongholds were it not for the countless hundreds of American unmanned drone strikes that also killed scores of Libyan civilians. In fact, it was a US Predator drone and a French warplane that strafed and destroyed Qaddafi's convoy just an hour before he was dragged from a drain pipe and killed.

    It's curious that Republicans now aren't accusing Obama of violating the War Powers Act by not getting Congressional approval for Operation Odyssey Dawn. Also noticeably absent is the fact that the rebels who've taken over the Libyan government in a blood-soaked coup are largely comprised of the same insurgents who were killing our troops in Iraq in 2007. Also noticeably absent is the fact that these rebels who've taken over the Libyan government did so out of a frenzy of Islamic extremism that will surely set back womens' rights at least 800-900 years. (In fact, some would call it the return of Sharia law but, hey, as long as it affects only dark woman in countries 10,000 miles away, what's a little Sharia law among friends, eh?).

    What's also lost on Jon Stewart is that when people we ordinarily laugh at, clowns like John Bolton, raise the concern of what'll replace Qaddafi's four decade-long rule, it's a very legitimate one. Because, after all, when our foreign policy is so short-sighted that we prop up regimes that we later have to decimate under a false flag (Like, say, Iraq and Libya), it augurs that we ought to look further into the future before fiddle fucking with the affairs of the Arab League.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Nothing Like Keeping it in the Family

    It's no surprise that neither the astoundingly corrupt Wall Street and equally corrupt NYPD and Mayor's office decided to set up a spy base of operations so close to Ground Zero without getting any input from the public, without apprising us, or setting up any oversight committee whatsoever. And that's a shame, too, because the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center is paid for with $150,000,000 in taxpayer dollars.

    Here's a Ron Jeremy-class money shot from the Truth-Out reporter, Pam Martens:
    The surveillance plan became known as the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and the facility was eventually dubbed the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. It operates round-the-clock. Under the imprimatur of the largest police department in the United States, 2,000 private spy cameras owned by Wall Street firms, together with approximately 1,000 more owned by the NYPD, are relaying live video feeds of people on the streets in lower Manhattan to the center. Once at the center, they can be integrated for analysis. At least 700 cameras scour the midtown area and also relay their live feeds into the downtown center where low-wage NYPD, MTA and Port Authority crime stoppers sit alongside high-wage personnel from Wall Street firms that are currently under at least 51 Federal and state corruption probes for mortgage securitization fraud and other matters.

    It goes on to say that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's goons will also be using biometric software to scan the faces of anyone walking within this vast electronic, 24/7 dragnet. Not only that, the justly-paranoid Wall Street will also be making note of any license plate numbers they see on their turf, sort of like the way the FBI was writing down license plate numbers at the wedding in the opening scene of The Godfather.

    This means entities such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup (which just paid $285,000,000 in bribes to the SEC to shut them up after they made a civil complaint) and other crooks get to spy on the protesters and any dissident activity at Zuccotti Park. It's a crowning irony that the NYPD will be more prone to see the violence committed by its own people rather than violence on the part of protesters.

    This is the price we pay for rising up against corporate interests and exercising our constitutional rights to free speech, of the press, to peacefully assemble, in rising up in the face of absurdly provable lawlessness that has victimized the American taxpayer and consumer for decades. Now we find out we're footing the fucking bill so these sociopaths and fascists can spy on us.

    But, wait, it gets even better, folks. Martens made a great over-the-shoulder grab with this gem about the author of the guidelines for this surveillance center:
    According to Commissioner Kelly in public remarks, the privacy guidelines were written by Jessica Tisch, the Director of Counterterrorism Policy and Planning for the NYPD who has played a significant role in developing the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. In 2006, Tisch was 25 years old and still working on her law degree and MBA at Harvard, according to a wedding announcement in the New York Times.

    So, can someone please explain to me how a 20-something college student with obviously no training in counter-terrorism (which ought to be the bailiwick of the federal gov't and not the NYPD) got to write a policy that essentially excludes the NYPD and Wall Street from any kind of oversight or repercussions for violating the peoples' civil liberties? Oh, that's how...
    Tisch is a friend to the Mayor’s daughter, Emma; her mother, Meryl, is a family friend to the Mayor. Tisch is the granddaughter and one of the heirs to the now-deceased billionaire Laurence Tisch who built the Loews Corporation. Her father, James Tisch, is now the CEO of the Loews Corporation and was elected by Wall Street banks to sit on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York until 2013 representing the public’s interest.

    Nothing like nepotism and keeping it in the (crime) family that insists on self-dealing to protect its interests by eliminating any oversight and using the tax money siphoned from the very same people on whom they're now spying. To go to show you how stupendously corrupt and supine the NYPD is, when Goldman Sachs began engineering this surveillance center six years ago with New York City authorities, being able to sit side-by-side with 5 figure a year-earning NYPD cops (plus many tens of millions on tax abatements on furniture and construction materials) was a deal-breaker.

    The audacity of these cocksuckers to spy on law-abiding citizens when they themselves are the targets of at least 51 probes into fraud and malfeasance is literally breathtaking. They're more crooked than an Ebola virus yet they're spying on us, with our money and doing so with the secret collusion of the NYPD and Bloomberg's office.

    It's also a crowning irony that this spy center, as I'd mentioned above, is so close to Ground Zero, the site of the most massive terrorist attack on US soil. What were we saying a few years ago about the terrorists hating us for our freedoms? It seems that al Qaeda's ideological brethren on Wall Street are the ones who hate us for our freedoms, too, among them freedom of speech, of the press and to peacefully assemble.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    All I Want For Christmas is an Asteroid the Size of Texas

    Although, God, if you're listening, I'd really, really appreciate it if you could send it flaming into earth's atmosphere before Halloween.

    In case you don't keep up on LGBT news as I do, the picture above is of 15 year-old Canadian Jamie Hubley. That's his dad, a city councilman, on his right. Jamie was a lonely, tortured, openly gay kid and this picture was taken about 48 hours before he committed suicide last Saturday (A Facebook page, inevitably, has been set up in his memory and it has just under 3000 members and growing. Go join up if you're so inclined.).

    It goes without saying that Jamie, a kid who eventually ran out of that life-saving courage that inevitably dries up, was a victim of homophobic bullying. Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring may have stolen the year's spotlight and be named by Time Magazine as the Year of the Protest. But the rash of teen suicides this year has reached epidemic proportions and, in my not so humble opinion, hasn't gotten nearly the press and publicity it should get. Every time we hear of another 13, 14, 15 year-old child like Jamie succumbing to unrelieved bullying and bigotry, the media treat it as a tragic but isolated incident, not part of an intolerable whole.

    Look at the lead picture again. Maybe it's just me, perhaps my own blue devils of late have made me more empathetic and sensitive to the plight of other depressed people. But I can easily see the desperation in his eyes, the forced effort behind the smile. That's not the smile of a kid just embarrassed to be seen next to his dad while wearing a dorky shirt and bow tie but the put-upon rictus of a kid the tip of whose nose was tickled by the loose fibers of hemp at the end of his rope. That's the look of someone who gave the world his best shot and just realized it simply wasn't even felt.

    Like the Kevin Klein character in Silverado, you never know what I'll care about next, what cause I'll take up no matter how hopeless or disconnected from my outer life. But I have to say this kid's suicide bugs me more than even the others. It bugs me because he was by all accounts a sweet, handsome, funny kid who always put the needs and wants of others above his own but finally succumbed four days ago because he couldn't find a boyfriend and, like me these days, he could no longer tell the difference between wanting to actually die and simply not wanting to live and hurt, anymore. And when you can't make that crucial distinction, you're irretrievably lost.

    It's of a piece, how we treat our fellow human beings, especially those whom we can't or won't understand, the ones who love those of their gender or both. We fear that which we do not or will not understand and allow ourselves to be mere automatons of a system or an upbringing that was tragically short-sighted and misguided whether it be by greed or bigotry or just a primal urge to hate the unfamiliar.

    This bleeding heart liberal's own tattered and battered heart bleeds for this kid and his family but in some way he's become synecdochal of an evil world that somehow had shifted off its axis, rendering everything we'd ever learned about the world and human nature irrelevant and redundant.

    It's a world in which dividing lines are slowly but inexorably being drawn collectively by employers, literary agencies and publishers, anyone who's in a position to pick and choose whoever for whatever purpose. And kids like Jamie are being excluded from a human community that more and more is deciding who's worth or not worth keeping.

    This is why I'm hoping and praying in my own dog-legged fashion for a fucking meteor or asteroid the size of Texas to just wipe out everyone on this Godforsaken, squirming, fetid mudball. Sometimes, as the lady once said, the best remedy is to break everything. Government has failed us, industry has done more than just failed but they've victimized us. Religion has failed us (I keep going back to what Jonathan Swift said 250-300 years ago about there being just enough religion in the world to make us hate one another but not quite enough to make us love one another), the human race has failed itself.

    Those least deserving of running a bordello in Mexico City are running Wall Street and the government. The most hateful and ignorant people in the history of carbon itself are given the book contracts negotiated by scumbag literary agents just out to make a quick buck and we have to see their pixilated pusses on television Sunday to Saturday and every day in between.

    The most rapacious sociopaths who can destroy the most lives are the ones we charitably call captains of industry but, contrary to real captains, do not go down with the sinking ship but expect those in steerage to bail out the sinking ship of industry.

    People like Rumsfeld, one of those war criminal "authors" who'd published a highly lucrative "memoir" this past year, once referred to the people drafted during Vietnam as "human intake", dead flesh that clogged up the machinery of the military-industrial complex and lost the Vietnam war for us. Here's what Rumsfeld said in 2009,
    “(W)hat was left was sucked into the intake, trained for a period of months, and then went out, adding no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services over any sustained period of time, because the churning that took place, it took enormous amount of effort in terms of training, and then they were gone.”

    Those astonishingly heartless words were uttered by our two-time Secretary of Defense as a means of explaining why the draft didn't work in Vietnam. He was basically reducing the 58,000+ Americans who'd died in that war to geese that had accidentally flown into the engine of a 747.

    But what was shockingly heartless less than three years ago is now commonplace. One fully expects bullies who'd harassed gay teens literally to death to be given air time on CNN and Fox "News" as a means of explaining their very legitimate counterpoint that teh gays are evil just as we did with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truthiness.

    And despite the fact that 0 bankers and executives on Wall Street who'd contributed to the Alice Cooper nightmare of an economy in which we're trapped without reprieve had gone to jail, well over 1000 people have been arrested by fascist cops, people who'd committed the unpardonable sin of calling attention to the greed and corruption that made them and all of us pull double duty in our ongoing victimhood.

    Because the poor, powerless, the unconnected, those who don't have high-priced lobbyists with $500 Guccis and gelled hair don't stand a chance in this world. Too many kids like Jamie Hubley fall between the grand Canyon-sized cracks that only a few dedicated people try to fill in. The old lady thrown out of a Kaiser Permanente and again out of a cab in front of a free clinic never had a chance. Those of us who somehow didn't draw that elusive Powerball bonus ping pong ball in the secret and rigged drawing that made us one of the elite never had a chance.

    It's very easy for those of us who now suddenly find ourselves expendable and irrelevant for the first time in our lives can easily say that the world had failed us but the plain fact is, we have failed the world. We reproduce and bring gay and straight children into a world that we have no clue how to go about fixing.

    For the first time in my life, we're no longer producing a generation that's actually positioned to leave the world a better place than how they'd found it.

    Yeah, the world sucks. We live on a greaseball of a planet in which the sons of Hannibal Lecter are running the roost, those who produce gas and cancer drug "shortages" that inevitably result in bloated prices and fistfights in the cockpits high above the Ivory Towers the minute necessities get scarce. We live in a world in which the world's real consumers, the ones who literally eat the world and hollow it out physically and financially, men who chop off the tops of mountains, see just enough consequences to make them see that pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel before they scream to Congress to make us bail them out.

    We live in a world in which, when we call attention to that sociopathic avarice, we get arrested, beaten, maced and harassed. Yeah, the world sucks, fucking A, enough to provide its own Goddamned gravity.

    But it sucks because we have let it get this way.

    And pretending to occupy Wall Street without a clearly articulated set of demands or the means to impose penalties if those hypothetical demands are not met is not the answer. Nonviolent, faux occupation tactics with no exit strategy save for that provided by the chilling climate will not work. Violent resistance will only make matters worse.

    And only a Pollyanna fool would entertain for a minute that a solution is within our grasp.

    So we need an asteroid the size of fucking Texas and a winter that'll last for 100,000 years in order to get this world back on track. Hopefully, just enough history will remain to show us the errors of our ways for those lucky few who were fortunate or well connected enough to be selected for survival.

    Because, sometimes, the best remedy is just to break everything.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Remember This Image

    It's really inconsequential that the now-iconic champagne swillers at 55 Wall Street a week ago weren't wealthy bankers but guests at a wedding party at the Ciprion Club Residences. It doesn't even matter that many of us jumped to the wrong conclusions even though the now-infamous video was shot on Wall Street on a Saturday after the banksters had scuttled back to their mansions in the Hamptons and Adirondacks.

    What matters is that the video was shot on Wall Street, that the balcony was at a swanky, exclusive club nobody reading this would ever have a prayer of entering much less joining. And what matters is that it perfectly sums up Wall Street's Marie Antoinette attitude toward the proletariat even during this unprecedented clash that could be just as well entitled When Wall Street Meets Main Street.

    No doubt, in their pre-board meeting small talk, they're chortling about the unwashed rabble below over their chocolate brioche and $80 an ounce Hawaiian coffee. But they laugh off the swelling populist uprising at their moats guarded by the NYPD at their own peril. As Act Blue through Howie Klein points out, Occupy Wall Street has spread to 105 cities, about 1500 meetups across the country with other nations joining in (including, most notably, Italy). For the first time in this generation, a worldwide protest movement has started in the complacent United States and followed by other nations and not vice versa.

    2011 may well be called by posterity as the Year of the Protest. What began as an unorganized mob in Yemen this past winter quickly spread like a Texas wild fire to other Arab and Muslim nations, including Egypt, a pro-democratic populist rage that toppled the 31 year-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarek. Syria and Libya soon followed and, thanks to mob justice, we can now count three less dictators among that cruel fraternity.

    But the Occupy Wall Street movement is still a civil uprising, content for now just to occupy Zuccotti Park as a staging area for their constant roving protests against the corporate greed that resulted in a seriously-damaged economy and millions of job losses and home foreclosures. Whether or not it was deliberate, Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park serves a perfect strategic purpose: Not only is it close to Ground Zero but stands between the former Twin Towers and Wall Street itself, the scenes of two of the evilest and most malicious acts of terrorism on US soil.

    The protesters invited the inevitable scorn of many sex- and feces-obsessed right wingers ranging from the anal retentive intellectual hairball James Taranto of the WSJ to Michelle Malkin to Ann Coulter. And the best thing they can answer #OWS with is their mind-numbingly idiotic We Are the 53% "movement" that's obviously not rooted at all in sympathy for the devils of Wall Street but just another way to bash liberals who, as usual, have to do the heavy lifting for everyone.

    Time and again, we're hearing stories such as "I have to work 3 jobs", "I don't have health insurance", "my homeowner's insurance is outrageous" and "I can't sell my house". Yet, instead of these being indictments on the rapacious Wall Street, these universal gripes are badges of honor and cudgels with which to beat the heads of liberals who are fighting this war for them as well as themselves. The 53% are merely recycled Tea Baggers who had justly faded into irrelevance, the same morons we saw during the town halls in which HCR protesters were bragging about their $5000 deductibles.

    So, yes, the usually-supine and completely worthless corporate MSM is finally noticing them and the movement is picking up traction. It's spreading to other cities, other nations and the movement was officially elevated to national status in the very act of the President of the United States mentioning them in a recent presser.

    Yet, as stated here before, the movement lacks a specific direction, a specific goal and lacks that crucial, all important face of the movement. And, no, Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon, professional protest poppers who flit in and out then go back to making millions, do not count. And every great movement has to have that voice, that face, that story that represents the whole. Occupy Wall Street needs an iconic symbol.

    The antiwar movement didn't have it until Cindy Sheehan took a courageous stand beside a ditch on a dusty road in Crawford, Texas in August of 2005. Migrant workers in California and beyond finally got theirs in the late Cesar Chavez during the 60's.

    All Occupy Wall Street has done is to make the obvious even more obvious minus a few inches of our collective comfort zone. It has made no list of actionable demands, no solid threats for noncompliance, had accrued in its month of so-called occupancy no serious political backing and a small fraction of the union support it should've gotten.

    You don't need to be in Zuccotti Park to know that most of the protesters are 30 and under and it provides a welcome antidote for the cynicism we older people may have been feeling about the complacency and laziness of our nation's youth. It's refreshing and even inspiring to see America's young people showing the courage, fortitude and stamina to pull off this movement that other nations are emulating and to get engaged in the political/social activist phase.

    But they'll need to do more, to achieve more. Because, right now, they're just a brightly-colored amoeba aimlessly drifting without any real direction or specific purpose.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    The Misanthrope's Manual

    Back in the 90's, I put together a satirical dictionary that was modeled closely on Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, only with a more liberal bias. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the second edition, I've decided to go back to my old love of writing definitions and perhaps making an effort to publish these misanthropic pearls of wit.

    1) Homage, n- Retroactively, outed larceny.
    2) Department of Defense- A support network that alternatively kills, rapes, tortures and maims dark, indigenous people while acting as a support network for war profiteers such as Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater, the Carlyle Group, etc.
    3) Court, the Supreme- The highest judicial body in the US, thereby ideally suited by the current political and ideological balance to be the guardian of the rights of individuals (i.e. the unjustly maligned corporation).
    4) Individual, n- In a biological sense, a singular entity or, paradoxically, in a collective corporate sense owing to a grossly tampered with and willful misinterpretation of an 1878 Supreme Court ruling. In the January 2010 Citizen's United vs the FEC ruling, the SCOTUS had expanded the definition of free speech so that it included "E pluribus unum" and "In God we Trust" and whatever else is found on our currency. However, this expansion is devoted exclusively to cash derived from self-dealing, self-motivated "individuals" now in a position to more easily purchase the US electoral system. Thus eradicating the need for both the written and spoken word, the biological individual has now been shoved aside in favor of corporate, multicephalic individuals.
    5) Executive, n- The sole legitimate recipient of income redistribution.
    6) Worker, n- In conservative circles, a shiftless, lazy bailed-out parasite. Through the devious dexterity of deregulation and a deaf Congress, the laborer was previously unable to put money in a bank and, with the bailout, is now empowered to put vaster sums of money in hundreds of banks.
    7) Money, n- Syn currency, cash, legal tender, free speech. E.g. "Money talks, bullshit walks." Oftentimes, it also runs for public office.
    8) Lobbyists, n pl.- The highest and third chamber of Congress, a 10,000 member-strong ersatz legislative body faithfully serving the interests of 500 or more individuals (See companies, Fortune 500). It is tacitly and mutually understood by the two lower chambers (House and Senate) that no legislation shall pass without the consent of the ungoverned individuals (I. e. corporations).
    9) HMO, acronym- A health management organization dedicated to the proposition that the bottom line supercedes the merely incidental continued medical wellbeing of its policy-holders; The only type of corporation that rakes in tens of billions per annum despite an increasingly stringent standing policy of withholding often life-saving services. This is without parallel and without precedent that is somewhat on a par with a petroleum company refusing to sell gasoline to a customer despite charging higher and higher membership dues because the car had once been worked on and/or may not pass inspection. (See switch, Bait and.)
    10) Bush, George W*-
    (b. July 6, 1946-) Regarded by 27% of the electorate as the 43rd president of the United States. Disinterested Texas Air National Guard pilot (1968-?) who disappeared for a year after T.A.N.G inexplicably transferred Bush to Alabama; Failed businessman who was incapable of finding oil in the most oil-rich region in North America; Insider trading of ill-gotten Harken Energy stocks enabled him to buy minor ownership of Texas Rangers ball club while being treated as majority or sole owner based entirely on far more accomplished father's surname; Career drunk until shamed into retirement by anti-Semite Billy Graham; Inexplicably elected Governor of Texas by having fired HW Bush adviser Karl Rove call incumbent Ann Richards a lesbian; After eight years and 152 executions, Bush ran for the presidency and inexplicably won the SC GOP primary by having fired HW Bush adviser Karl Rove call rival John McCain a nigger lover; After being declared the loser in the contentious 2000 presidential election, Bush was declared the winner by first cousin John Ellis on Fox "News" and by Florida Secretary of State and campaign co-chair Katherine Harris; Ignored threat of al Qaeda and its leader, Bush business partner Osama bin Laden; Was reading children's book with aid of first graders when the 2nd plane hit the 2nd WTC tower; Swiftly retaliated by coming out of hiding by standing on rubble long after enemy was dead, attacking the following month the central Asian nation of Afghanistan on correct assumption it was harboring OBL. OBL escapes from Tora Bora. Bush stays in Afghanistan while making out with leader of Arab nation that produced 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers; Decided to invade Iraq in 2000 for 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks despite complete lack of evidence of Saddam's involvement; Bush kills hundreds of thousands of poor dark-skinned people; Ran for reelection in 2004, declared the loser in Ohio then retroactively declared the winner on the assertion of Ohio Secretary of State and Bush campaign co-chair J. Kenneth Blackwell. who rigorously tested his fellow African Americans' resolve and eligibility to vote; 2005-2009, Bush kills hundreds of thousands more poor, dark-skinned people; Played guitar and ate birthday cake with alleged nigger-lover Sen. John McCain while 1800 poor, dark-skinned people drowned in and near New Orleans. Lynched one rich, dark-skinned person, Saddam Hussein, after kangaroo court, slept during lynching while business partner OBL remained free; Considered by many to be the most effective quasi-president in modern times considering Dick Cheney was the de facto head all eight years.

    * Won presidency in 12/2000 by five unpopular votes.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Top 30 Politician on Politician Insults

    This past year, Flavorwire published three highly successful and hilarious lists of the greatest insults from the worlds of rock music, literature and cinema. Incredibly, they omitted a list of some of the fiercest insults from politicians on other politicians. Unfortunately, in our politically-correct day and age, good political putdowns are far and few between. Yet every once in a while someone will get off a good zinger. What follows are 30 of my favorite political insults of all time.

    30) Winston Churchill on Prime Minister Clement Attlee: "He is a modest man with much to be modest about."

    29) Winston Churchill on Prime Minister Clement Attlee: “An empty cab pulled up to Downing Street. Clement Attlee got out.”

    28) Winston Churchill on Prime Minister Lord Rosebery: “He was a great man in an era of small events.”

    27) Winston Churchill on Neville Chamberlain: “He looked at foreign affairs through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe.”

    26) Benjamin Disraeli on William Gladstone: “If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune. If anybody pulled him out, that, I suppose, would be a calamity.”

    25) MP Jonathan Aitken on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “She probably thinks Sinai is the plural of sinus.”

    24) Abraham Lincoln on Stephen Douglas: “His argument is as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had been starved to death.”

    23) Gerald Ford on Ronald Reagan: “Ronald Reagan doesn't dye his hair, he's just prematurely orange.”

    22) Adlai Stevenson on the Republican Party: “If they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.”

    21) Adlai Stevenson on Richard Nixon: “The kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree and then mount the stump to make a speech for conservation.”

    20) John Quincy Adams on Thomas Jefferson: “A slur upon the moral government of the world.”

    19) Andrew Jackson: “I have only two regrets: I didn't shoot Henry Clay and I didn't hang John C. Calhoun.” John C. Calhoun was his Vice President.

    18) Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt on President William McKinley: “(N)o more backbone than a chocolate eclair.”

    17) John Montagu: (after a heated exchange with John Wilkes) "Sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
    John Wilkes: “That, sir, depends on whether I first embrace your Lordship's principles or your Lordship's mistresses.”

    16) Barney Frank on George W. Bush: “People might cite George Bush as proof that you can be totally impervious to the effects of Harvard and Yale education.”

    15) The Republican Party on President John F. Kennedy (paraphrased): “The president’s rocking chair is a perfect symbol of his presidency: It gives the illusion of movement without actually moving forward.”

    14) Former Sen. Bob Dole on George W. Bush: “Well, he got this new globe for Christmas,” dispelling rumors that George W. Bush lacks a grasp of foreign affairs.

    13) Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.”

    12) Golda Mier to Moshe Dayan: “Don't be so humble, you're not that great.”

    11) Bob Dole on Carter, Ford and Nixon: “History buffs probably noted the reunion at a Washington party a few weeks ago of three ex-presidents: Carter, Ford, and Nixon -- See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Evil.”

    10) Jim Hightower on George HW Bush: “If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drilling rights on George Bush's head.”

    9) Pat Buchanan on Bill Clinton: “Bill Clinton's foreign policy experience is pretty much confined to having had breakfast once at the International House of Pancakes.”

    8) Lyndon Johnson on Gerald Ford: “He's a nice guy, but he played too much football with his helmet off.”

    7) Senator William E. Jenner on New York Governor W. Averell Harriman: “He’s thin, boys. He’s thin as piss on a hot rock.”

    6) Georgi Plekhanov, Russian Social Democrat, on Lenin: “You show the bourgeoisie your behind. We, on the contrary, look them in the face.”

    5) Georges Clemenceau on David Lloyd George “Oh, if I could piss the way he speaks!”

    4) The conservative Winston Churchill once entered a men's room to find Labor’s Clement Attlee standing at the urinal. Churchill took a position at the other end of the trough. “Feeling standoffish today, are we, Winston?” Attlee asked. “That's right. Every time you see something big, you want to nationalize it.”

    3) Then Conservative leader David Cameron on Prime Minister Tony Blair: “He was the future once.”

    2) Australian MP Paul Keating on John Hewson: “He’s like a shiver waiting for a spine.”

    1) TX Governor Ann Richards on George W. Bush: “Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Netflix Turns Qwikster into Deadster

    Earlier today, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced on the company blog that Qwikster, their new separate DVD mail order business, was being scrapped before its debut. This decision, and the second price hike since July, cost Netflix 1,000,000 customers and 60% of its share price on Wall Street. The decision came after fielding many, many complaints from consumers who often aren't this vocal when the price of gasoline and health insurance constantly rise. This prompted Netflix to not only scrap Qwikster but also to shelve other projects and strategies it had had in store. What were they?

  • 10) Discontinuing policy of letting board members allowing their children to make corporate decisions during "Take Your Child to Work Day."

  • 9) Not naming spinoff companies so they're reminiscent of defunct social networking sites such as "Friendster."

  • 8) Offering a third service where actors are sent straight to your home to reprise roles for just $129,000 per month.

  • 7) Bundling with DVD's pouches of microwavable popcorn for just $11.99 each in order to better evoke the actual rapacious, avaricious and impersonal moviegoing experience.

  • 6) Perhaps allowing the Free Market to dictate prices by not trying to lowball studios like Sony for distribution rights.

  • 5) Restricting new releases to movies starring only Yahoo Serious, Coleman Francis and Rondo Hatton.

  • 4) Scrapping chimpanzee-written algorithm that bases recommendations on viewing habits (E.g. "Since you liked the DIE HARD trilogy, we recommend BOY'S LIFE 6...").

  • 3) Weekly newsletter mailed to all subscriber's homes featuring Reed Hastings giving you the middle finger while waving his private parts in your general direction on its masthead.

  • 2) Standing policy of allowing its website to go down every 48 hours in order to build demand.

  • 1) Allowing customers to pay every month by credit card or a onetime payment of one's first-born male child.
  • Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    White is All Colors

    If you're Michelle Malkin and your erstwhile employer and enabler Fox "News" publicly lambastes you for claiming the 99% was "99 percent non-diverse" and mostly white, you know you've made a boo boo. Malkin said this in a sneering email to TheDC. She added after chewing off her hind leg, "It’s as pale out there at Camp Alinsky as MSNBC’s prime-time lineup or the New York Times editorial board. Not counting the cameos by Jesse Jackson and Cornel West, that is."

    "Camp Alinski." A ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha.


    Where was this concern for white America being over represented when the Tea Baggers began their rise just three months after the inauguration of the first African American President? You know, that'd be the same astroturfers funded by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity and Dick Armey's FreedomWorks who were dedicated to the proposition that whatever is good for the United Corporations of America was bad for lib'rals but not them?

    That would be the same Tea Baggers who'd hold up signs like these:

    and this immortal sign,

    So, I guess it's the fault of the 99% for not shanghai-ing people of color of the streets of America and being as pasty-faced as Tea Baggers who, against all reason, are still seen as sexier and more mainstream than the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

    A quick trip to the first link to Fox "News" Nation shows what they think of Malkin's typically clueless assertion regarding color. Look at the lead picture they chose. Or you can look at the ones I found on my own after just a few minutes of searching:

    Of course, when all is said and done, Malkin and the mainstream media she pretends to represent both have one thing in common: They're both lazy, sneering cunts who can't be bothered to get a simple fact like this right while lauding the Tea Baggers as a bigger populist movement than it actually was instead of it being simply the (well-financed) rebirth of the John Birch Society.

    So go fuck yourself, Our Lady of the Internment Camps. If we lived in a world that was actually sane, the SEC would be doing the job of the Wall Street protesters only better and you'd be hustling drinks and turning tricks at a two star hotel bar outside Manila.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    "Are You Ready for Some Hitler?"

    If there's another tremor down south, don't worry. It's not another earthquake but Hank Williams Sr. aerating his grave at 30,000 RPM.

    ESPN decided to pull Hank Williams' Jr. segment just before Monday Night Football because of some Idiotic Tea Bagger comments that even stunned Steve Douchebag and Friends on Fox "News." Apparently, Williams didn't know or care about Roger Ailes' memo to tone down the right wing rhetoric and to move Fox closer to the mainstream.

    Because Williams essentially did a great impression of Larry the Cable Guy only minus Larry's brilliant, incisive wit by comparing the President to Hitler and condemning the Republican party for playing golf with him and allegedly compromising with the Oval Office (Yeah, I laughed at that, too, so we'll have to speculate where the compromise actually came from).

    Wearing his Atlanta Braves ballcap like a right proper good ole boy, Williams brought back not-so-fond memories of racist John Rocker, former closer for the Braves who'd essentially treated his career like a wooden cross at a Klan rally. Williams, who hasn't had a legitimate hit song that didn't include nachos and tailgating before an NFL game, issued a parody of an apology that essentially placed the blame for ESPN pulling his segment on us for misinterpreting him.

    Despite staggering through his segment on Fox and Friends, Williams was barely articulate enough to make known his positions on the GOP, the current Congress and our Chief Executive and his positions are completely indistinguishable from all his astroturfing rowdy friends funded by Dick Armey's FreedomWerx and the Koch brothers.

    What mystifies me is why they'd ask the son of a real country singer who needs the NFL to keep him in the public eye every Monday night for 17 weeks for his opinions on matters political? His babbling, semi-coherent bloviations that were obviously based on racism made Ted Nugent sound like a brilliant political scientist.

    To prove it, like Rush, he's a big fan of Herman Cain, who's never won anything more meaningful than the Florida straw poll

    Williams' appearance on Fox makes those of us in middle age long for the Appalachian wisdom of another peoples' pundit, Floyd Turbo.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    The Collusion Continuum

    The collusion between publishers and literary agencies goes back at least a generation and continues. As the hoary old story goes, and I've told this one myself countless times, about 25-30 years ago, publishers were drowning in unsolicited submissions and the slush piles were getting unmanageable. So publishers gradually made literary agencies a deal, one that became a firmly-enforced standard: "Become our unpaid weeding out process, take on our slush piles and we'll make sure no one gets past the front door unless they have one of you repping them." Agencies, not knowing what they were in for, agreed because this elevated their status from an optional service to a mandated one.

    Since then, the business model of getting an agent before a publisher has proved to be, euphemistically speaking, an untenable one. As I'd just mentioned, literary agencies that had been far fewer in number during the 80's finally got an eye-opening idea of just how many wannabes there were out there. Even now, with over 450-500 literary agencies across the landscape, agencies typically get 300 or more submissions a week, mostly by wannabes who make the likes of Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell look like Virginia Woolf.

    Now, with epublishing grabbing a bigger and bigger share of book sales at a time when traditional publishing is losing over a billion per year, the business model set forth in a collusion between publishers and literary agencies a generation ago had only created a unique set of problems virtually unheard of in the early-mid 80's. E. g. Literary agencies have become so wealthy and influential that they no longer feel the need to seek out new talent and their doors are closed to unpublished novelists and other writers who are still told by the publishing zeitgeist that they need an agent to get through the front door.

    This Catch-22 situation is the one that frustrates and infuriates a lot of otherwise talented writers who have yet to discover what the password is to the Kool Kids Klubhouse. The conundrum of not being able to find an agent without a publisher that insists on one having an agent is perhaps the single-biggest reason why the current business model is simply untenable and non-sustainable. Epublishing, especially POD (publish on demand), for a brief, shining moment, looked as if it was the answer to many "prepublished writers' (a euphemism for those who have yet to find that all-important password) biggest problem- Getting around mandatory and exclusionary representation that largely fails them even with representation. For the first time in the modern age, writers could bypass both publishers and literary agencies and get to keep their royalties to themselves. A few agencies began waking up to the fact that more and more writers were cutting out what was once again an optional middleman and they were determined to do something about it.

    Nowadays, we're seeing a newer, more technologically savvy collusion between publishers and literary agents who still demand on getting a slice of the pie. The Perseus Book Group is offering, on its face, a deal for beginning and midlist authors that seems infinitely better than the one offered by Amazon's Kindle and Create Space: a 70% royalty and fairly aggressive marketing and distribution. The catch is, Perseus' new epublishing venture, called Argo Navis Author Services, is open only for those authors who are represented by the Janklow and Nesbit literary agency. Curtis Brown, Ltd., another large and influential literary agency both here and in the UK, is close to finalizing a similarly exclusionary deal and Perseus is currently negotiating with about a dozen other literary agencies.

    This is not good news for authors who thought they'd found a way out of the Minotaur's lair and Joseph Heller's paradox. Essentially, the technology has radically changed in just the last five years and publishers and agencies have no choice but to both acknowledge and embrace it. But the old cronyistic business model that's primarily predicated on greed and excluding presumably bad writers has remained intact and we're now back to where we started. Publishers have, for the second successive generation, found a sleazy way to keep solipsistic and clueless literary agencies on the playing field in spite of their dismal track record.

    The trick to making this work, of course, is not in making the new technology available to consumers but to offer such ereaders at a reader-friendly price. The most common ereader, by far, is the multi-platform Amazon Kindle. But recently, avaricious Amazon tycoon and Steve Jobs wannabe Jeff Bezos, who decided that being worth just under $20 billion wasn't quite good enough, unveiled the Kindle Fire, which for a limited time will go for $99, about $40 less than the standard Kindle. Despite its new bells and whistles and exciting-sounding name, the catch is that the new Kindle will soon go up to over $200 after applicable sales tax. Why Bezos thought this would catch "Fire" in the worst economy we've seen in a generation is anyone's guess but a $200 ereader is still a $200 ereader and it'll still be viewed as a luxury as long as dead tree publishing thrives.

    Or, and I'd discovered this quickly after publishing my first two novels on Kindle, people will pay whatever Amazon thinks they should get for the Kindle but consumers will be so cash-strapped they'll lowball impertinent and greedy independent authors who may want to make a buck and charge more than the .99¢ that is the buyer's self-imposed threshold. It's a classic case of buying a leather wallet or purse that costs so much they no longer have any money to put into it.

    In fact, the seedy underbelly of the so-called free market is no better delineated than on, which has banned who knows how many hundreds of authors for committing the unpardonable sin of trying to sell their Kindle titles on Amazon's book-selling site. Kindle publishes only and does not get involved in marketing. If you ask their tech support people who, if not you, will help your work stand out among 800,000 Kindle titles, all you'll get is some idiotic robo email thanking you for using Amazon.

    Another problem with Amazon's quasi-fascist setup is that, while authors can bypass the usual publisher-agent obstruction and name their own price and royalty rate, ultimately the price is controlled by tight-fisted Kindle owners feeling some unvoiced buyer's remorse for buying a $140-$200 ereader and insist on purchasing only books that cost no more than .99¢. Some will lowball an author even more and refuse to even look at it unless it's offered for free. This means, since the transaction rate is paid for out of the author's royalties, authors are increasingly finding themselves in the absurd position of actually paying their fickle readers to read their books! And this prejudicial attitude is predicated on the simple-minded belief that, if you can't get a legitimate book contract, then you're not worth the $8.99 or $9.99 that "real" publishers would be allowed to charge. There's no haggling at the bookstore. But in the free market at Amazon, haggling is done through a cruel process of attrition.

    Barnes & Noble's Nook reader is generally considered technologically comparable but the drawback to the Nook is that it is made and marketed by the deeply troubled Barnes & Noble, which will almost surely meet the same fate as Borders, Inc. Compounding its sluggish sales is that it's considered a great bargain at $250. Judith Curr, Vice President and co-founder of Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, has in the last couple of years pioneered an interactive reader called the Vook. This platform does something even the latest Kindle doesn't: Play videos that supplement the text. The problem with this bit of genius on Curr's part is that there's no hardware or even software to download and the process and technology isn't that well articulated until you commit to purchasing titles (through iTunes for your iPod or iPad). Essentially, Vook offers original movies (One stars noted actor Blair Underwood) only with massive amounts of subtitles.

    A cursory look at this Broomhildan digital landscape shows that, where corporations have set their still-smaller but spreading footprint, it is hostile to authors, especially those trying to get just a toe in the shrinking pool, and friendly to corporations and literary agencies. Essentially, they're already ruining a new market and excluding from writers a still highly Protean technology. The old rules of exclusion still apply and, while the NY Times article doesn't specify payment to agencies, I would imagine the same standard 15% commission still applies for those lucky few within Janklow and Nesbit & Assoc. who might want to dip their well-shod toes into this pool.

    Obviously, unlike Amazon Kindle, some editorial gatekeeping would be required. Under this new arrangement, agents from participating agencies will submit mss to ANAS, who then get to decide whether it passes their subjective muster. If agents are just as clueless as they've always been, this will also result in the usual 90-95% mortality rate for the adult fiction they choose to represent, a steady casualty rate that apparently doesn't bother those in the publishing business as it would alarm those in other industries and professions.

    Either way one looks at it, if you're a writer, you'll note the existing system and the one emerging from the bones of its decaying carcass have one thing in common: It's set up to make the independent and unrepresented author fail while The Powers That Be are already dividing the pie. The 70% royalty rate offered by ANAS compares with Kindle's but, unlike Kindle, the new business model is the same as the old one, only much, much more exclusive, and will exclude all but a handful of America's published and non-published authors.

    Perhaps because of this reason, not only does Perseus not have a title on the virtual bookshelf, no such titles exist because there's no catalog. And this is because not one author has signed on under their present exclusive agreement with that one agency.

    KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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