Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sarah Palin: America's Most Beloved Cunt

Somewhere between tweets claiming that the Mayans were right and we're doooooomed, Damn you, Obama, damn you to Hell!, Sarah Palin had time to swallow a handful of the world's last stash of Quaaludes and stagger onto Sean Hannity's Fox soundstage and say (Projection anyone?) that "Nancy Pelosi is a dingbat."

Driftglass's podcast with his wife Bluegal yesterday doesn't do justice to the sheer, spiteful head cheerleader cuntiness that's characterized Sarah Palin since she was stepping in dog shit reporting on the Iditarod for some obscure Alaskan TV station.

Essentially, she's sneering at all the poor Americans who, despite all the Affordable Care Act's massive, corporate-friendly flaws, will nonetheless have access to, yes, affordable health care. Palin's obviously of the school of thought that says, "I got mine, so the rest of you can go fuck yourselves, peasants, and give me back that cake. You don't deserve that, either."

No doubt right about now, Palin is cheering on Bobby "Honorary Redneck" Jindal's promise to disobey federal law that was recently upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional and refusing to allow ObamaCare into Louisiana. It's a childish temper tantrum rooted in a complete ignorance or contempt for federal law that made possible Jindal defunding, along with Tim Pawlenty, ACORN, even though neither Louisiana nor Minnesota ever gave state funds to ACORN.

Sarah Palin is the standard bearer for the Idiocracy avante garde, someone who sneers at progress and those who represent it, is short on facts and is therefore chased by publishers and literary agents who cream their pants thinking of putting her noxious brand name on ghost-written books because she's on the same wave length as the worst of us.

(And, yes, I do realize that my resorting to name-calling would appear to make me descend to her mudpit level. But then again, I wasn't a state governor, Vice Presidential candidate or someone who appears on national TV on a regular basis. I am not a public figure, ergo I can say whatever I want in my own place and the immoral equivalency doesn't make Sarah Palin any less of a cunt.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot Lead For Drudge, Fox or CNN

President caught in sex orgy. C'mon, guys, get it while it's hot!

The ACA Does Not Protect Us From David Brooks

(Image courtesy of D r i f t g l a s s.)

He's got Photoshop and knows how to use it. He has an admirable, some would say superhuman, immunity from the testicle-clenching inanity, despicable Overtonian centrism and alternative to literacy represented by David fucking Brooks. I'm speaking, of course, of D r i f t g l a s s, a deep-voiced man and, in real life, a gentle kind soul who is nonetheless driven to, at minimum, weekly fits of rage and spittle-flecked apoplexy after reading Brooks's latest opuses. For, lo, these past seven years or so, Sir Drifty has been his Ahab, his nemesis, almost his entire reason for being online. And during this seven year itch, Brooks has served as Our Man in Chicago's literary piñata and for good reason. Every time that the Gray Lady allows him to inflict his sick Centrism on the rest of America is another day that we get closer to becoming the actual prequel for Idiocracy. David Brooks, to put it mildly, is the "literary" version of the ball polisher one sees at upscale golf courses. There isn't a 1% sack he hasn't lovingly washed or wanted to with that cum dumpster others generously refer to as a mouth.

But whatever Sir Drifty chooses to do with Brooks's latest screed, I've decided, in spite of my recent desire to gradually phase myself out of this thankless mug's game called political blogging, that my friends in the blogosphere could always use a little backup.

And David Brooks, He of the Opus Duh centrist sect that stubbornly survives any journalistic integrity and code of ethics in the Times building like the ossified dingleberry that he is, has brought yours truly out of semi-retirement by dubious virtue of his latest delusion, a typical phantasmagorical mystery tour of the Speculative Universe of Centrism, an alternate, "Nothing to see here, alarmist liberals" world that could be only dreamed of by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Tim Lahaye.

The title, as per Brooks's usual style, is at least considerate enough to warn us of the lunacy to come: "Modesty and Audacity." Our Mr. Brooks starts out on what he considers to be safe ground, by writing, "Washington is full of arrogant people who grab power whenever they get the chance. But there is at least one modest minimalist in town, and that’s John Roberts Jr."

OK, no blood, no foul so... Wait, what? John Roberts, a minimalist? Are we to infer that Chief Justice Roberts is jurisprudence's answer to the Japanese artists that can draw the curve of a woman's shoulder with a single line, the haiku poet that can express universal truths and indelible images of beauty within 17 syllables? If Chief Justice Roberts is a Burkean minimalist, as Brooks describes him, then Justice Clarence Thomas, a man who's hardly uttered a word in all his time on the bench, must by rights be referred to as alpha and beta wave-challenged. Onward, constant, intrepid reader.
...Roberts’s decision still represents a moment of, if I can say so, Burkean minimalism and self-control. Roberts and six colleagues also restrained the power of the federal government to sanction the states. And, perhaps most important, he restrained future Congressional power.

Although Brooks tries to explicate this through a haze of self-satisfied pipe smoke, it's hard to see how Roberts's inexplicable and wholly unexpected swing vote to keep 98% of the ACA alive qualifies as "self-control", as if he was melodramatically biting his knuckles, as desperate to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act as his Four Horsemen brethren but resisting his inner demons just this one time. It's also hard to see how upholding almost all of Congress's, and the president's, defining domestic legislation and arguably the most important bill signed into law by Mr. Obama's administration "restrains" future legislation. If anything, the High Court's decision yesterday paved the way for Congress to impose more mandates on individuals more or less for the common good and by using the US tax code to enforce them.

Ah, I see. Mr. Brooks is talking about that pesky Commerce Clause.
Over the years, the commerce clause in the Constitution has been distorted beyond recognition, giving Congress power to regulate all manner of activity (or inactivity).

OK, now he's on familiar ground here. That would be the Commerce Clause that forced Congress to deregulate banks in 1999 by repealing Glass Steagall, the same Commerce Clause that gave us the watered-down gin draft known as Dodd-Frank and the same Commerce Clause that's forced Congress to heavily regulate private industry, such as health care, to the point of bankruptcy. Wait a minute: Our for-profit health care system, bankrupt? Let's fast forward a bit:
Crucially, we haven’t addressed the structural perversities that are driving the health care system to bankruptcy.

Wha... whaaaaa??? The health care system is being driven to bankruptcy? The health care system is almost bankrupt, not the tens of millions of people who've busted their largely untreated humps trying to stay caught up on their medical premiums, co-pays, deductibles and the rest of their bills?

Let's see what Brooks's inexplicably generous and tolerant employers said about the poor bankrupt health care system 13 1/2 months ago:
Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Essentially, this means HMOs are pigging out at the trough in a feverish anticipation of future austerity and enforced restraint that's far from assured when the ACA kicks in in 2014. That hardly sounds like HMOs that are swimming in cash and make it their primary mission in life to deny health care and thinking of new and improved ways to kick people off their policies and to deny subsidization of health care costs are being driven to "bankruptcy." Two months before that Times article appeared, a report found that in 2010 the five biggest HMOs in the nation alone made nearly $12 billion in pure profit.

If anything, Obama's "Affordable" Care Act has driven far, far more Americans into Brooks's ballyhooed bankruptcy than HMOs. But the news from Geckoland isn't all bad: With bloated profits and arbitrary double-digit premium increases comes higher stock prices and bigger dividends for shareholders and top executives. Between 2008 and 2010, the share price of these HMOs went up 15-25%. Then there's this:
Through the recession and its aftermath from 2008 to 2010, combined profits for UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp. and Humana Inc. increased a breathtaking 51 percent. Last year alone, the five companies’ combined profits grew 17 percent, excluding a one-time $2.2 billion gain from the 2009 sale of a WellPoint subsidiary.

Yeah, those poor HMOs. The ACA is "a flawed Rube Goldberg device" as Brooks described it but one obviously designed to not merely keep the HMOs and Big Pharma on the gridiron but to give them every dodgy excuse known to man to increase the size of premiums and deductibles just as we saw here in Massachusetts nanoseconds after RomneyCare went into effect. The HMO's have professional bureaucrats who make it their business to know this Minotaur's lair of health care inside and out. We the policy-holders have to dope out whatever we can from their War and Peace-sized policy manuals in our spare time.

But this isn't Mr. Brooks's biggest spooge into the face of literate America. No, no, that was the preliminary spritz of precum in this facialing of America because Our Dear Mr. Brooks goes back to his old fallback line of liberal alarmism at what is really, don't you know, good-intentioned, civic-minded, fiscally responsible centrism on the part of Congress and our judiciary. Look at John Roberts, if you don't believe him:
Roberts’s modest stance is generally consistent with how he has behaved over the last several years. There’s been a lot of overwrought and misleading liberal commentary on the supposed ideological activism of this court. In fact, with a couple obvious exceptions, this court has been remarkably modest. According to a 2010 analysis by The Times, the Warren, Burger and Rehnquist courts overturned an average of nine laws a term, while the Roberts court has overturned an average of three laws a term.

Uh huh. That, Constant Reader, would the Roberts/Citizen's United/SB1070 era of centrism and restraint that saw the Supreme Court, essentially led by Tony Scalia, that of late has been issuing majority and dissenting opinions that read more like Powerline/Stormfront blog posts rather than actual judicial erudition.

That would be the same John Roberts who had upheld a pre-teen girl getting frisked and arrested by police over a single French Fry.

This would be the same John Roberts who gladly weighed in with the other right wingers on a ruling exactly two years prior to the day of the ACA ruling, one that previously had been virtually verboten in the Supreme Court: An interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Did I mention Citizen's United and the recent ruling on Arizona's odiously racist SB 1070, the centerpiece of which Roberts and the wingnuts in his court supported and upheld? And lest we forget, Mr. Brooks, the infamous Bush v Gore ruling in the Rehnquist era, the one that got millions of people killed all over the world, the one that helped plunge this nation into insolvency and international ridicule, the one that resulted in the loss of a major American city, the devastating attack of another plus our nation's capital, the one that was the first but far from the last major salvo fired against the bow of democracy? Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor are long gone but the nucleus that has been the driving force, the engine of destruction against the forces of good and progress for these past 11 1/2 years were in place then: Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy.

One would be, at the very least, hard-pressed to find a more partisan right wing court than the one now occupying those nine seats. Hardly will you ever find a time when more 5-4 decisions have been handed down, almost exclusively along party lines that shouldn't ever exist on the High Court. And, no, Mr, Brooks, it isn't merely a matter of what laws get reversed by the SCOTUS but also what laws are upheld.

Such as SB 1070, for instance, which gives Arizona law enforcement officers the right to racially profile and violate the 4th and 14th amendments.

There's your "overwrought and misleading liberal commentary", rooted, as usual, in incontrovertible fact, research and honesty.

So let's for now ignore Brooks's contradictory statement that the Roberts-led decision on the ACA (that he insists on calling like a cheap, Cheetos dust-smeared Hot Air blogger, "ObamaCare") both places curtailments on yet gives freedom to Congressional Acts calling on the Commerce Clause to enforce individual mandates and focus on his raving insistence that liberals are crying wolf, that the sky is falling every time Fat Tony and his black-robed gangsters take a vicious head-shaking chunk out of democracy.

This court is the most viciously activist on record, far more partisan than anything we ever saw during the contentious Clinton years and certainly moreso than than anything this nation has ever seen before. If Congress had any sense of basic human decency, before it adjourns this August, it needs to pass a resolution barring David fucking Brooks from getting anywhere within 100 yards of any writing implement including, but not limited to, keyboards, typewriters, pens, pencils, lumps of coal and everything except feces to smear against the padded walls of the rubber room to which he must by all rights be relegated.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Assclowns of the Week Day #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands off My High Pre'mums and Deductible! edition

(If you kind folks could see your way clear to helping out Mrs. JP and me, we'd surely appreciate it. Making the rent and the rest of our bills for August is looking very scary right now.)

Because yours truly seriously doesn't need a week to fill up the top 10 spots.

The Supreme Court, as I'm sure most of us are aware, upheld almost all of the Affordable Care Act save for the stick the federal government had held to whip into shape states who would choose to not expand Medicare coverage. The rationale that Chief Justice John Roberts used in his swing vote to legitimize the individual mandate was that it was indeed a tax, therefore Constitutional.

And the mainstream media, true to form, that was almost universally wrong (especially on CNN and Fox "News") about the ACA being struck down in part or even in its entirety, has doubled down on their lunacy by inviting almost exclusively Republican wingnuts for their "thoughts" on the SCOTUS's ruling.

What follows are the ten most hilarious and/or pathetic examples of hind leg-chewing the GOP and its surrogates has to offer today:

10) Sarah Palin

Yes, the Queen of Mean actually said this from her shit-stained perch on Twitter as if she was some deranged swallow that just escaped from a pharmaceutical company's test lab. The Obama administration never said it wasn't a tax and proved it by signing off on the provision set by Congress that noncompliance with the individual mandate would be enforceable by two bylaws of the federal tax code. And how else are you to enforce an individual mandate without involving some monetary penalty? Ergo, the ACA, with its individual mandate without a real public option simply took a cue from RomneyCare (that after the second year takes away your personal exemption of over $900 on your state taxes). Oh, and the individual mandate, with its requisite penalties, was originally a Republican idea that reached far beyond Beacon Hill, as Fox "News", of all places, reminds us.

9) Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann (R-Hale-Bopp), in an eerie reprise of her actually exhorting her followers to slit their wrists if Barack Obama ever got a health care bill ratified, again stood on the steps of the Supreme Court building and dourly preening for CNN by saying, "What they did was not just uphold ObamaCare, this Supreme Court rewrote ObamaCare in line with its own design."

Yes, she actually said that. There was no explanation how the High Court "rewrote ObamaCare" when they let 99% of it stand or what exactly how it was "in line with its own design." Bachmann then chewed her other hind leg off by adding,
This is clearly unconstitutional. There is no basis in the Constitution for the government to have this level of history-making expansion of power. Because what this means, for the first time in the history of the country, Congress can force Americans to purchase any product, any service that Congress wants them to, which determines the price and we are forced to, which is a denial of liberty. We will never be the same.

Well, yeah. That was the whole idea, stupid.

8) Rush Limbaugh

Funny how rich Republicans weren't very averse to an individual mandate sans public option being enforced through the US tax code when it was still their idea. But since the president grabbed that rancid idea and ran with it, it's been in bad odor with those same rich Republicans, including Rush "Donde esta el kiddo brothelo?" Limbaugh, who'd said on his radio show that the IRS "has just become Barack Obama's domestic army".

It's unclear why Limpballs is suddenly so concerned about the IRS knocking on our doors since rich fucks like him won't have to worry about noncompliance under the existing law because those most greatly affected will be poor people who won't be able to pay the rates the HMOs still get to arbitrarily charge. I guess Rush really is a man of the people, huh?

7) Rand Paul

You know what kids 3-12 typically say to their parents or step parents when they don't get their way? "You're not the boss of me!" Ladies and gentlemen, I give you this generation's answer to Dan Quayle: Sen. Rand Paul.

Today, Paul, supposedly a lawmaker in the upper chamber, betrayed how much he knew of Constitutional law and the Supreme Court's function when he said today:
Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional. While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right.

Mind you, this is also the same guy who once famously said while he was running for the US Senate that it wouldn't be his job to make laws, that "criticizing BP is unAmerican," that parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be repealed, that mine collapses are inevitable and mine companies shouldn't be sued for skirting workplace safety laws ("I mean, sometimes mines just collapse, you know? Nobody's fault. I think it's called 'gravity'.") and that there are no poor people.

6) Mitt Romney

Within minutes of the SCOTUS posting its ruling on the ACA on its website, an empty motorcade (sans Seamus) rolled up somewhere and Mitt Romney got out. He cut a pretty pathetic figure as he frowned and grimaced at the triumph of a health care law that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had said was based on his own health care law. He'd put himself into a lose/lose situation yet felt compelled to say something about it in a desperate effort to look topical and relevant:
“This is a time of choice for the American people. Our mission is clear. If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that.”

No word, yet, on what he'd replace ObamaCare with or how he'd get the Congress (you know, the bunch of old men and women who'd ratifed it) to sign off on something else. Hey, how about a health care system with an individual mandate enforcable through the tax code, no public option whatsoever and one that doesn't even attempt to reign in out of control corporate greed by regulating premiums and deductibles! We can call it... Oh, wait...

5) Speaker John Boehner

I was the only Oompa Loompa who couldn't sing or do cartwheels. So I went into politics. May we move on, please?

By now, Weepy John's office must look like the back room of Mr. Rick's place in Casablanca: Filled with smoke, empty, overturned shot glasses and depressed hoodlums. Just a week ago, confident the right wing SCOTUS would see things his and his employers' way, Boner was preemptively telling Republicans to not "spike the football" when, not if, when the ACA was ruled unconstitutional.

Well, minutes after the SCOTUS published its ruling online, Boehner went before the cameras and essentially revealed that the Supreme Court denied the GOP its one and only plank in its 2012 strategy, when he said, "Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing today’s harmful law in its entirety." So, there you have it. They robbed us of our second biggest reason for being (next to eliminating all taxes for the top 2%), which is repealing the black guy's most significant domestic legislation to date.

4) Erick Erickson

Who only knows why CNN chose to hire Red States' Erick Erickson but if you want to give them a reason to reconsider their relationship with him you can send them this:
Third, while Roberts has expanded the taxation power, which I don’t really think is a massive expansion from what it was, Roberts has curtailed the commerce clause as an avenue for Congressional overreach. In so doing, he has affirmed the Democrats are massive taxers. In fact, I would argue that this may prevent future mandates in that no one is going to go around campaigning on new massive tax increases. On the upside, I guess we can tax the hell out of abortion now.

So, the same guy who gave us Obamacare (complete with the co-opted Republican idea of a mandate enforceable through higher taxes) and who'd consistently caved to the GOP in consistently keeping the ruinous Bush tax cuts in place is a "massive taxer." Gotcha, Erick.

3) Rank and Vile Right Wing Tweeps

At the same time this wingnuttery was going on in the halls of power, libertarian and other assorted conservative morons were taking to the twittersphere to say they were moving to Canada.

You know, to get away from the dreadful, socialized health care that we all know Canada would never have. Which is like, I don't know, a chicken jumping from the coop into a Fry-o-lator. Or vice versa. I don't know. All this concentrated, weapons-grade stupidity is making my head hurt.

2) The Four Horsemen of the SCOTUS

And no list like this would be be complete with the particular dissent into madness that usually characterizes Fat Tony Scalia & Co:
The Act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying nonconsenting States all Medicaid funding. These parts of the Act are central to its design and operation, and all the Act’s other provisions would not have been enacted without them. In our view it must follow that the entire statute is inoperative.

You read that right. They all wanted to invalidate the entire law, even the provisions that had already been implemented. Perhaps Roberts sided with the moderates and liberals out of a simple aversion to throwing out the baby with the bath water. They also had this to say about Justice Ginsburg (and I believe I can detect more than a faint whiff of Fat Tony's infamous sarcasm):
The [Ginsburg] dissent’s exposition of the wonderful things the Federal Government has achieved through exercise of its assigned powers, such as “the provision of old-age and survivors’ benefits” in the Social Security Act, ante, at 2, is quite beside the point. The issue here is whether the federal government can impose the Individual Mandate through the Commerce Clause. And the relevant history is not that Congress has achieved wide and wonderful results through the proper exercise of its assigned powers in the past, but that it has never before used the Commerce Clause to compel entry into commerce.

So essentially, anything that's signed into law by the current president can expect to be met with a nasty blog post disguised as a judicial dissent by Fat Tony. Oh no, this isn't politically motivated at all, despite the right wingers on the court being more concerned about executive, judicial and legislative overreach without once considering the humanitarian aspects of upholding or striking down the ACA.

1) Fox "News"

Ever resourceful, Rupert's and Roger's boys and girls are not above exploiting a little partisan frenzy to stir up fear among the masses, especially if they're brown, reliably Democratic-voting people such as Latinos, for instance:
The Supreme Court decision on Thursday upholding President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy health insurance will have a particular impact on the Latino population of the United States.

The matter is immensely important to Latinos, who number some 50 million in the United States and who are twice as likely as the general population to be uninsured.

Nearly a third of Latinos, or slightly more than 15 million of them, are uninsured. They are three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be uninsured.

The issue especially impacts Latino women.

I can hardly remember any other time when the same Fox "News" that condemned Obama for his amnesty program extended to young Latinos and any humane immigration reform had ever given a stale burrito about the plight of Hispanics. But I guess in an election year in which the GOP's man is about as popular as an outbreak of AIDS on Fire Island, you do what you gotta do to scare brown folks into voting for Romney, who did not inspire ObamaCare one single bit.

SCOTUS Upholds 99% of ACA

Maybe Roberts looked into the abyss and noted it was critically eyeing him, especially in the wake of Citizen's United and the execrable Arizona v the United States ruling from three days ago. And Roberts withdrew, not liking what he saw.

A few minutes ago, the Supreme Court handed down one of the most important rulings in its history and one of the most surprising: After judicial activist blathering by Scalia about broccoli, the High Court handed down its decision, largely along party lines, to uphold the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.

What was surprising was that the swing vote wasn't Justice Anthony Kennedy, who votes with the court's right wingers at least 80% of the time, but Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts joined Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg to form the majority opinion while, typically, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito ruled to strike down the health care law.

All that remains to be seen now is how fast the Jim DeMints, Michele Bachmanns and Steve Kings denounce Bush appointee Roberts and to complain for the first time ever that he was a federal judge for just two years before being nominated to succeed Rehnquist as Chief Justice. For good measure, maybe Peter King will denounce him as a Muslim and right wing bloggers will accuse him of being a homosexual.

It'll also be amusing to hear Mitt Romney's tepid response to the upholding of a law obviously based on his own piece of shit health care "reform" here in Massachusetts. If he denounces the ruling, then he denounces his much-ballyhooed RomneyCare. If he cheers the ruling, then he winds up cheering President Obama's signature piece of domestic legislation. Either way, his response will be just as wimpy and pandering as it was after the Arizona v the United States ruling.

So El Pandero, to borrow a phrase from Jon Stewart, will do as Romney does: Huddle with his advisors and decide to say a little or a lot of nothing. Romney painted himself into a corner years ago over this issue and he knows he's been checkmated by both the administration and the Supreme Court.

Speaking for myself, the only good thing about this ruling is in it serving as a spiked cudgel with which to beat conservatives and libertarians over their pointy heads all day long. But at the end of the day, we're left with a health care system that insisted from the start in keeping already bloated HMOs and Big Pharma on the playing field, leaves an onerous US tax code-enforced mandate in place (that the SCOTUS said we can simply ignore although it's unclear whether they have any sway over the existing federal tax code since it wasn't directly up for a ruling) and does little if anything about runaway health care premiums.

The next step, obviously, is in electing enough real Democrats and progressives to Congress this November to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a single payer health care system.

But, since we're indisputably the shit-stupidest nation in galactic history, there's about as much chance of that happening as Rush Limbaugh winning a platinum medal in women's figure skating.

But for now, those with preexisting conditions are covered and are guaranteed reimbursements if HMOs don't spend at least 80% of premiums on health care coverage, virtually the only things in the ACA worth keeping. But the fight isn't over and the only thing the SCOTUS has done is give some breathing room for people who have difficulty breathing and would otherwise be in danger of having coverage jerked out from under their feet by health providers whose shareholders have a problem with actually fulfilling its alleged function.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

White House Proposal

A little over a week ago, some LGBT activists from Philly were invited to the White House by President Obama. During the festivities, one lady dropped on her knee and proposed to her girlfriend. It was kind of an awkward moment but eventually she says yes. This is just what I needed to see as a brief antidote to the partisan bickering and gamesmanship that's no doubt going to dominate this election year.

Of course, some partisanship is very understandable. Although this made right wingers' pointy heads explode. Aw.

Yeah, fuck Reagan. The son of a bitch only mentioned AIDS once during his entire presidency.

Mrs. JP and I are going to Cranston, Rhode Island soon to visit her old stomping grounds, so we'll be gone all day. Consider this an open thread.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Open Thread

I got nothin' else. Like four years ago, I'm apathetic over this election and I feel like I've said it all, anyway, and have shouted it down an empty well. Wake me up when an asteroid gets within a 1000 miles of us so I can cheer it on because that's about the only fix I see to our problems.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Cunt Monologues

So, Michigan state Representative Lisa Brown was banned for an indefinite time from speaking at the Reichstag Michigan State House last week for using the word "vagina." Apparently, that was too much for Obersturmführer State Rep. Mike Callton, Speaker Jase Bolger and floor leader Jim Stamas and like the true red white and blue American Taliban they are, they handed down Sharia law and effectively muzzled Rep. Brown for the foreseeable future.

Now, Representative Brown could've mentioned that part of the anatomy in more vulgar or colloquial terms. For instance, she could've said, "Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my cunt" or "Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my hair pie" or "Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in what anti-abortion evangelicals treat like a clown car" or "Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my gash that will never heal" but you get the message.

Rep. Brown chose to use the correct and most clinical word for what boys used to call "the fish that no one can find." But the sex-obsessed fascists of the Michigan Republican Party that had tried to gut Matt's Safe Schools law by giving bullies the religion card to whip out if they ever bullied a gay student to death and that recently passed an Emergency City Manager act that essentially renders democracy redundant had a problem with even the very word. Lest they succumb to temptation, grunting and groaning and looking away with their beady eyes tightly closed like Carl "Slingblade" Childers, Michigan House Republicans felt the need to step on that pornographic speech and fast.

Like a certain faction of other men that swish and sashay in the sands of Fire Island and Provincetown and the streets of the Castro, Michigan Republicans got the dry heaves just hearing the word, envisioning how the first letter, the vaginal "V", looked and simply had to silence her in a manner not unlike how most Muslim countries treat their women. My God, if she'd said the word "clitoris", they probably would've thrown her in the bunker beneath the state house, trussed up in irons and forced to sit next to Eva Braun's vagina-less skeleton.

As Rep. Brown put it, it's not enough that Republicans have to control how women act, they now feel they have to control even what they say.

No word, yet, on how they can square openly cornholing democracy by making some right wing political operative's authority supercede that of elected officials including the mayor of a town or city. Is there a prohibition on Michigan Republicans essentially giving the green light to curbstomping young gays and bisexuals as long as their bullies pull out the religion card?

It's impossible to fathom why Republicans have such a problem with the clinical term for an orifice out of which almost all of us emerge at the start of life, a birth canal they're doing their damnedest to regulate like Cerberus guarding the gates of Hell. It's also impossible to square how a political party that hoarsely screams about Muslim Sharia law taking hold in the country nonetheless hasn't the slightest problem with muzzling women without placing prohibitions on their own speech.

If a male had stood up in the chamber and used the word "penis" in the most clinical context, would he have been similarly banned from speaking in the House chamber? Or would he, too, have been restricted to euphemisms such as, "Mr. Happy"? Or did it have everything to do with the fact that Rep. Brown, in her speech about the abortion bill and her advocacy in providing abortion services to women in contravention to Republican wishes, is a Democrat?

I don't know what the fuck is with Republicans in general and why they can't even bear to hear someone who has one reciting the word "vagina". But there's something sick and twisted in the way Michigan Republicans in particular can't abide the word of the orifice with which all male Republicans are obsessed with regulating to the point of denying women health care. It sends a dangerous signal to their kids and all children, particularly boys, that if a woman steps out of line, the Big Strong males will have to step in and discipline her, even if it means being reduced to name-calling and character assassination.

Friday, June 15, 2012

JP and Lee Camp

Listen to internet radio with NationalProgressiveTalkRadio on Blog Talk Radio

This is the chat I had with Lee Camp on NTPR a few days ago about Occupy. I come in at exactly 24 minutes in (you can fast forward after the intro). We exchanged some good thoughts about where the occupy movement should go next.

A Country For Sold Men

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

You can’t help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can’t help but wonder how they’d've operated these times… The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, “OK, I’ll be part of this world.” - Ed Tom Bell, No Country For Old Men

About 30 years ago at its premiere, a perceptive reviewer wrote of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner that it was most accurate depiction of mankind's future ever seen in cinema. In some ways, that critic may have had a claim. But that was decades before Idiocracy was made. The latter film, like all good speculative or science fiction, is a plausible extrapolation of existing technology, trends and all fused together with the timeless threads of human nature.

And the more I look around this once-great country of ours, the more I look at humanity in the Year of Our Lord the Almighty Dollar two thousand and twelve, the more I realize we're living in the prequel of Idiocracy and that we're just a few more Sarah Palin books and energy drinks away from closing the gap and catching up to that inevitable future.

More and more we find ourselves saying to each other, "Here's a headline you don't read every day," and then we realize with a start that we are reading such headlines every day:

Man eats another man's face.

Massachusetts town fines for profanity.

Bank forecloses on home without mortgage.

Burger King introduces bacon sundae.

Johnson & Johnson settles DOJ probe with $2.2 billion payment.

Crazy has become the new sanity and what was once a world of marvelous technology and admirable repository of the humanities has become a writhing nest of hatred, ignorance, prejudice and seemingly insoluble division that an intelligent person has to conclude we've have reached peak evolution and have begun an irreversible slide back into the primordial ooze.

We live in an age where the highest court in our land has decided that money equals free speech and this is all based on a erroneous claim that corporations are people.

60 nations have banned genetically modified food while in America even labeling as such is illegal.

Snooki got paid more to speak at a university than it paid Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison.

Barack Obama was nominated for (and won) a Nobel Peace Prize a week and a half into office then ramped up Afghanistan, kept us in Iraq for three more years, drew up an assassination list sometimes involving American citizens and authorized at least 268 drone strikes that have killed thousands of civilians in several countries then played down the civilian body count by designating those in the line of fire as enemy combatants.

Many high ranking executives of Goldman Sachs and other banks have occupied and continue to occupy key spots in the last several successive administrations, including chiefs of staff and Obama's own jobs czar Jeff Immelt is a tax dodger who has personally offshored tens of thousands of US jobs overseas.

Another Obama friend, Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, sits on the board of the New York Fed, the regulatory agency that's supposed to oversee banks like his.

Thousands of ordinary people have been arrested and have gone to jail for protesting Wall Street's ruinous avarice yet not one Wall Street executive or anyone from BP in the wake of the most massive oil spill in planetary history has even been charged let alone arrested for such crimes.

Tens of millions of us vote for our favorite American Idol over 100,000,000 times a week, at our expense, yet half of us can't be bothered to get off our couches once every two years to vote for free.

46% of us still believe in Creationism.

Viewers of Fox "News", the highest rated cable channel, are more ignorant than those who don't follow the news.

I cannot think of another time in human history when so many people were so hoodwinked by the rich and powerful while taking so long to awaken from its slumber to change the status quo. Alex Jones and his fellow conspiracy theorists keep screaming about the New World Order but even while we laugh them off we have to admit that a new world order has already set in like a skin cancer racing down to the bone and that cancer is stupidity, misplaced priorities, willful ignorance and complacency.

And the rich and the elected officials they now own outright not only want to steal our life preservers and pieces of driftwood after the Titanic's hit the iceberg, they're succeeding and the Democrat in the Oval Office is letting them. Whether or not the Georgia Stones are informing these lunatics in the Republican Party, one has to conclude that their attempts to take away our Social Security, our Medicaid and Medicare, our pensions, our 401(k) plans, our subsidized housing, our SNAP food assistance, a living wage, anything and everything we need to keep body and soul together can be encapsulated in one word: Eugenics.

They're killing our planet with air, water and land pollution, they're genetically modifying our food, they're stealing our homes whether they're entitled to or not, they're sending our jobs by the millions to sweat shop countries, they've gutted occupation workplace safety, want to eliminate child labor laws, want to keep minimum wage frozen forever despite the consumer price index rising by 3-5% every year and what do we hear when we raise a whisper of protest about these and many other crimes?

They're incensed at being criticized. They whine about wanting their lives back. They use hidden cameras and law enforcement to spy on those calling even a modicum of attention to their sociopathic crime spree. They openly sneer at Congress as they lie to them. And the biggest fish our federal elected officials can bag is Roger Clemens for lying about steroid use.

Pop open another can of Red Bull and let's see if there's anything to that email in my spam folder that promises to make my penis 3-4" bigger.

A few days ago, I was speaking with comedian Lee Camp on a New York radio show. Camp seemed somewhat skeptical that the Occupy movement, that seems strangely more subdued than it was 9 months ago, should start up a political party. I was in favor of it, reiterating the old maxim that revolutions are fought in the streets and that a successful revolution's natural evolution and its Nexus phase is to coalesce into a political party and begin installing its draftees into the power structure.

I suggested that the Occupy movement steer clear of Democratic machine politicians like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelsoi and other tools of Wall Street and to draft and elect our own people, true progressives and liberals who aren't interested in compromise and to instead change the corrupt status quo from the inside out. After all, the Tea Party drafted lunatics and Republican machine politicians who eagerly grabbed the Tea Party banner without either side knowing what they were getting into.

But then I realized recently that the occupy movement cannot form a political party because they've yet to graduate from the mere protest phase of its evolution to the necessary revolutionary phase. And to install your own candidates, you have to win that revolution to some extent and win hearts and minds.

And it seems that the Occupy movement has been ossified, instead, to bumper sticker memes on Facebook that make perfectly good sense when read from the comfort of your monitor but another thing entirely when it comes time to put your body and clean criminal record on the line backing it up. Facebook is the amber by which we preserve wisdom. It looks good as long as it's on the inside but just try extracting its worth into the real world.

We live in a nation that leads the world not in technology or philanthropy but in corruption, a nation led by a president who refuses as per his prerogative to wipe out the vulture funds run by men who steal hundreds of millions from the poorest nations on earth, a man who has done absolutely nothing whatsoever to check the abuses and excesses of those who most heavily fund his re-election campaign through post-Citizen's United Super PACs.

Meanwhile, a Federal Reserve survey recently proved that poor and middle class Americans have gotten vastly poorer while the rich have gotten richer and it seems the only way the President will lift us out of poverty is to simply lower the poverty line just as he redrew the Baghdad city lines to keep us in compliance of SOFA and lowers collateral damage numbers using a guilt-by-association rubric.

We live in a massive and rigged shell game where the pea has long since been removed, a game of semantics whereby people don't get fired or laid off but that their positions have been merely eliminated, as if that invaluable distinction will make a bit of difference to one's creditors.

It's a world that's changed more and changed more quickly to which many of us are unwilling or unable to adapt, in which more of us wonder if it's worth risking our already tattered souls to fully embrace and become a part of it. A world in which the so-called prediction of the Mayan calendar is looking more and more like a heaven-sent mercy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Want to be a Literary Agent

Don't laugh. Hear me out.

Starting up my own literary agency is an idea that's flitted across my frontal lobe several times before I discarded it for the next shiny object or confection or puppy I see. But today I've been giving it some serious thought for the first time. And getting in the game as an agent is not as far-fetched as it sounds when you consider how many countless hundreds of hours of research I've done on agents over the past two decades.

First off, it would take care of the problem of access. With one exception (Farrar Strauss Giroux), all major publishers had a generation ago locked their doors to both published and "prepublished" authors when they began to implement a pernicious, collusive agreement with literary agencies. Essentially, it consisted of, "Take over our slush piles, do it for free and in return, should you find a gem, you can set your own rates and we'll make sure no author gets their foot in the door without being represented by you."

Not knowing what they were letting themselves in for, literary agents jumped with the kind of alacrity afforded only by sheer, self-interested greed at the chance to get in the game. Now, for the first time, literary agents were longer optional: They were mandatory.

But as I said, they didn't know what they were getting into. Not realizing how many writers and wouldbe writers are out there, when word spread that you had to get an agent to get a publishing contract, they began getting inundated with queries, synopses and partial to full manuscripts. Most any literary agency today will tell you that they receive upwards of 300-400 submissions per week. This, of course, is their excuse to send out the dreaded boilerplate rejection letter that begins with the generic greeting of, "Dear Writer" or "Dear Author."

Then, the more successful literary agencies began closing their doors one by one to unpublished writers and leaving out contact information on their websites. When an agent who makes 15% on a stable of authors that can run in the dozens, if not over 100... Well, that kind of pelf buys a lot of arrogance and ego and you can afford to close your doors to the unwashed rabble unless they have a publishing history or an "in" they can use to cheat to the top of the slush pile.

Since late last week, in my spare time, I've been sending out a long cover letter plus a synopsis, cover art and the prologue of my latest novel to publishers, a verboten tactic that's known as "going over the transom." Publishers by and large think that if you're talented and have a quality, completed manuscript to sell, then you should have no problem getting an agent, that they'll eventually hear from you through "proper channels."

But such a short-sighted view is, at best, naïve and, at worst, career-killing. Literary agents by and large generally represent, by their own dubious admission, only that work that makes them have daisy chains of orgasms, dance on air and make them shit rainbows. In other words, to listen to the typical literary agent, it's "such a subjective business" that they wouldn't have a prayer of selling a property unless they were wildly, madly, impetuously, head over heels and helplessly in love with it.

Gee, and we were all told that true love only comes around once in a lifetime and that's if we're lucky.

So, to get back to my point of access, it didn't surprise me that my kick-ass proposal and long, spot-on letter railing about the evils, inconsistencies and unfairness of the literary representation business met without a single rejoinder (save for a terse email from the recently-retired Random House legend Bob Loomis who wrote, "Fortunately, I'm retired.").

Literary agencies, as with any other profession, have to work their way up the food chain and that starts with knowing who's who in the publishing business, which I do. Hell, some of the editors and executives still around today read my own material when I had an agent myself 16 years ago (Jamie Raab, Kate Miciak, etc). You start with editorial assistants, then assistant editors, then acquisitions editors, working your way up to VPs, EVPs, publishers and other executives.

If access is predicated on being fronted by a literary agency, then what's to stop me from beginning my own? Nothing. I already know some of the business side of publishing and what to watch out for, such as basket accounting (A dirty trick hardly used by publishers, anymore. It's basically a legal way to siphon royalties from a bestseller to help prop up a bad seller. And, with about 90% of published titles losing money, the temptation is always there.).

I know enough not to sign away all rights. You negotiate those separately like you would part out an derelict car for the maximum return.

Best of all, along with manufacturing access, it would be a way to effect change from within the system. The reason I loathe literary agencies as much as I do and why I'd long ago given up on them is because of the way they treat me and other talented authors. In my non-political online life, I get friended and followed by them and they say my thoughts on agencies perfectly resonate with their own experiences so I know I'm not making this up or just being petulant. Agents are self-absorbed, avaricious, career-driven, sociopathic asswipes, period.

We keep both them and publishers in business and I for one do not feel that we have to earn even an iota of respect from these people aside from what our talent should already earn us. If I had an agency, I'd make sure everyone got a personal response and perhaps even a reason why their property didn't pass muster. But there would be none of this, "If you don't hear from us in 6-8 weeks, that's our way of telling you to eat shit and die. Do not call or write to follow up or we'll send black helicopters to your house." In other words, my agency would treat you like a human being whether you're any good or if you're not qualified to write the daily deli specials on a Kroger's whiteboard.

Plus, if I ran a literary agency, I'd still try to sell properties that are simply good on their own merits even if they didn't particularly strike my fancy. Good is good and one shouldn't inject their pet biases so deeply into the equation that selling it shouldn't depend on some dubious schoolgirl crush on it.

Plus, I've got sales experience and I was good at it. Being a writer who's been in the trenches for close to 20 years, I know some of the ins and outs, know the difference between being AAR registered and not being AAR registered (which is, theoretically, none) and I know how to read a manuscript. Hell, 13 years ago, I ran into Alex Kava on a writer's message board and knew even before her agent Phillip Spitzer sold A Perfect Evil and her next two books to Mira that it would be a bestseller.

A lot of former editors become agents (and vice versa). Some agents even dabble in writing. But I can't think of a fulltime writer who ever came out of the cold to become an agent. And what better person to have as an agent than someone who'll treat you like an intelligent human being and someone who's really a writer's advocate and not just some self-interested hustler trying to con 15% out of an editor? And, were I to take on an associate agent, s/he could represent my books, which would permanently take care of the access problem (this collusive agreement in using one's own agency is done all the time.).

So while I'm mulling and investigating this further, if you have the Great American Novel tucked away in your underwear drawer, I'd like to hear about it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: The Rock Institute

If only the boys of American Zen had this in 1978 instead of Dave's drafty old barn in Acton.

Last night, at the jaded, hoary old age of 53, this reviewer actually saw something he'd never seen before. As the playbill above attests, my son's band, Awakening Biota played last night at a place in Marlborough, Massachusetts named The Rock Institute, splitting the bill with another band named Sonic Titan.

The Rock Institute, formerly the Strange Brew on Boston Post Road, is unique in my experience because it's a one stop type of place if you're a hard rock band tired of practicing in your dad's garage. The young owners, who took over in mid January, converted the old brewery into a clean, pleasant-looking establishment, giving the ground floor the appearance of a finished basement. Featuring two comfortable sofas out of sight of the small stage, it also offers a fog machine, laser and motion-activated strobe lights as well as a sound board for clean recordings. It even has a coffee machine.

The second floor looks positively residential, although it's not zoned for living. On your way to the tidy bathroom on the left, you pass a collection of guitars and basses and to your right before the triangular bay window overlooking Route 20 is a drum kit.

The Rock Institute offers more than just a venue for bands to play for a small admission fee ($7 at the door for last night's show if you email in a reservation). It also gives music lessons, does a little recording and rents rehearsal space if you're sick and tired of your parents telling you to keep it down. There's no bar but they have a pretty laid back BYOB policy, which is why my youngest son Jake couldn't get in (He won't be 18 until next month).

There's an alcohol-free place in North Plaistow, New Hampshire primarily for kids that gives local youth a safe place to hear music but they don't offer music lessons or recording facilities aside from ripping right off the sound board during performances. The Rock Institute is a unique business model, consolidating an impressive array of services for Assabet Valley-based bands.

Boston-based power trio Sonic Titan went on first a little after 9, featuring a giant and mad man named Shaun Anzalone on lead guitar, Steve McCaul on bass and Tom Symes on drums (whose Dad is the roadie and with whom I had a brief conversation). Beth Comery of the Providence Daily Dose, had once written of them, “Shaun Anzalone, Steve McCaul, and Tom Symes — aka Sonic Titan — covering Sabbath and just killing it! They ended their performance (which included some real swell original material) with an insane extended Led Zeppelin set. This guy totally shreds — they all do. (Can drummers shred? That doesn’t sound right.)” And they came as billed.

Awakening Biota.

Then around ten PM, they broke down their gear and Awakening Biota took the tiny stage. The drum kits were covered by what appears to be a transparent changing screen and the plexiglass shield looks as if it's there to protect the drummer from flying beer bottles (my son told me, perhaps in jest, perhaps not, that it is). But primarily, it's an acoustic shield to keep the bass drum from overpowering the rest of the instruments while maintaining the sound, another indication of the money these young people had invested in state-of-the-art equipment.

Adam Baker on backup vocals.

Drummer Ethan Gavin lost one of his drumsticks at the beginning of their set but that was the only miscue of the night as Awakening Biota did covers of the Doors, Beck, Elton John ("Tiny Dancer") and other legends while giving the crowd some of their own original music inspired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Gabo Flores, a native of Peru, is at least as talented a guitarist as Sonic Titan's Shaun Anzalone and Dr. Phil (Phil Ward) laid down a good bass line. Ethan Gavin, pretty typical of drummers, is something of a mad man and plays the drums with gleeful, almost childlike abandon. Toward the end of their set, they invited my son Adam up on stage to sing backup vocals (the Chili Peppers' roadie Dave Rat also does this on occasion).

Except for their bassist, I first got to meet these guys at Adam's 20th birthday party at his fiancee's house in Berlin last April so when I had the chance to see these guys play live at a local venue, Mrs. JP and I jumped at it. As with Sonic Titan, they didn't disappoint. (Both bands, by the way, offer their music for free on their Facebook pages, to which I've provided links.).

All in all, the Rock Institute offers local youth a safe, constructive place to play, record, rehearse, learn and listen to music and it's a business model that I'd like to see emulated.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thought of the Day

And if that doesn't make you want to rush out and buy a gross of Depends, then you either have bowels of steel or are a tight-assed Republican.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin Brain Death Trip

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

"Tomorrow is the day after the election. And tomorrow, we are no longer opponents. Tomorrow, we are one as Wisconsinites." - Scott Walker

"When deer hunting comes, nobody is talking politics, even though it's November. This year was different. We had people leave family gatherings. That's not our Wisconsin. Our Wisconsin has always worked together." - Dee Ives, RN, Republican voter, Barrett supporter

Back in the late 19th century, Black River Falls, a small town in Wisconsin, went completely insane, becoming a hotbed of murder, suicide and madness. It was chronicled in a 1973 cult classic entitled Wisconsin Death Trip that was later turned into a documentary. In order to find anything even close to a parallel in American history, one has to look to Salem, Massachusetts between February and May of 1692 in which three girls fingered countless dozens of innocent people of being witches and were treated like 17th century rock stars. What made the residents of this tiny Wisconsin town go mad over such an extended period of time?

Well, there are no hard and fast answers any more than there are for Salem's highly communicable insanity that resulted in the wrongful deaths of at least 25 people. Yet there was a severe recession sweeping across America at the exact same time and Black River Falls, Wisconsin was hit especially hard. Unemployment was high, crops failed. The local newspaper actually offered recipes for sheep's head soup in a pathetic attempt to keep the townspeople from starving. Men murdered their wives over suspicions of infidelity, in some cases their entire families.

There was also a diphtheria epidemic that claimed the lives of many children. Essentially, Black River Falls was a real-life Twin Peaks, producing characters rivaling the weirdest creations of David Lynch, including Anne Sweeney, who was obsessed with breaking windows, and a faded opera star who'd later be committed to the local insane asylum. When the townsfolk would dredge the river for dead bodies, as they often did, Norwegian custom would require a person to sit at the bow of the rowboat holding a chicken and, according to legend, the chicken would cluck when they were directly over the body and they'd stop to drag the river.

And now, 120 years later, progressive-minded folks still smarting from last night's recall election of the most staggeringly, shockingly and stupendously corrupt Governor since Huey Long have two choices: To conclude that Wisconsin is either now the stupidest or the most insane state in the union, proving, if Florida in 2000 already hadn't, that Democracy is not a synonym for intelligence, informed voting or even a sane political system. And Citizen's United ensured last night that democracy has little to do with the will and voice of the biological individual and much, much more to do with that of corporate individuals.

To be sure, not all the news coming from Wisconsin was grim: Former State Senator John Lehman defeated his old rival, Sen. Van Wanggaard, in one of four senate recall elections. Lehman was the only Democrat to win a recall election last night, by a microscopic margin of 779 votes. But it was just enough to give Democrats control of the Wisconsin upper chamber. And Democrats could widen their lead in the actual elections in five months as 16 are up for grabs as well as all 99 Assembly seats.

Plus, Scott Walker won by 6.9% despite news reports filtering out in the 11th hour about him being a target of the Justice Department's John Doe investigation and a 13th aide being given immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for testimony, presumably, against Walker.

So, Walker's victory, obviously, is a pyrrhic one and it's increasingly likely that Walker still will not serve out his first term after being stigmatized as just the third Governor in American history to face a recall election. And it's not even worth belaboring that Walker wouldn't have stood a chance were it not for over $45 million dollars coming from wealthy right wing donors (66% coming from out of state, as opposed to the 26% out of state money that came Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's way), most of it, we can assume, coming from the Koch brothers and ALEC. The nearly $50 million, a stupendous sum for a gubernatorial recall election, enabled Walker to outspend Barrett 7 to 1.

Adding to Barrett's woes was the unwillingness of the habitually craven, wet-legged Obama administration and the DNC for refusing to get more deeply involved and essentially handing Walker the victory. Obama's 11th hour tweet and a video that didn't even feature him was akin to Mr. Burns crashing Homer Simpson's Super Bowl party with a tiny bag of chips.

Last night's bitterly contested recall election saw much higher voter turnout than the last one of 2010. More people than had voted for Walker in 2010 had signed the recall petition, almost twice as many as the 540,000 originally needed. And, once again, Kathy Nicklaus of Waukesha County was front and center, barely hanging onto her job just long enough for this final hurrah, still insisting she wasn't actually in charge of tabulating the votes.

We saw the usual Republican dirty tricks: Robocalls spreading propaganda and disinformation (telling voters if they signed the recall petition, they didn't have to vote) and the usual Republican thuggery through voter intimidation (Republican election "monitors", aka the King Street Patriots, a Texas Tea Bagger street gang, were dispatched to many polls throughout the state), verbal abuse and even vandalism.

The voice of the people? Hardly. The vox populi, in the wake of Citizen's United, is a mere afterthought. The Koch brothers, through their Americans for Prosperity front group, bought this election, fair and square. And Republicans didn't win this election as much as Democrats lost it through the failure of the Obama administration to let down its wide coat tails and the DNC withholding most of the money it could've given to the Barrett campaign.

But at some point, the people of Wisconsin also have to take the blame for their own defeat. 36% of union households inexplicably went for Walker despite his and the Wisconsin legislature's shameless (and illegally ratified) bill stripping public unions of collective bargaining rights.

To those of us who have strong, informed opinions, it doesn't matter how much money billionaires like the Kochs throw at us. We have a sharply defined sense of right and wrong. It requires no money to form an opinion on a candidate, especially one who dominates the airwaves and print media as Barrett had these past several months. But the American voter in general is constantly blinded by money. So-called progressive California proved it during Gray Davis' own recall election and they proved it again when they reelected a gap-toothed baboon action movie star and again when Mormon money flooded California and got Proposition 8 overturned.

In this Idiocracy prequel in which we live, in which the stupidest and most disingenuous make millions and millions and are idolized like those three little witch hunting girls in Salem, Massachusetts, money and its simulacrum of speech will always reign. And Wisconsinites, far from being united, should now say, "We are all Black River Falls."

Let the whirlwind be reaped.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cover Art

Is this cover art sufficiently creepy for my upcoming thriller? This was partly done last year by Mrs. JP with CorelDraw. Obviously, it doesn't matter what cover art I choose since the author never has any input over stuff like that. But it would give a publisher a direction of where I'd like to go and what may work.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Open Thread

The lady and I will be out most of the day during our town's annual festival. Thoughts, comments, complaints, suggestions, lost or stolen items?


Friday, June 1, 2012

Ivory Votes: 50.1% Pure

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Here's an idea that's never occurred to Republican activists: Cage-free shopping for votes. Here's another idea to Florida voters: If you want to put an end to having your votes caged, don't elect as your Governor someone who looks like a neonazi skinhead or stay home assuming the good guy will win.

The Republican party, through its cross-eyed Florida co-chair, is no longer investing any energy in pretending the current voter roll purge has any noble intentions. In the video above, the FL GOP chair essentially admitted that Florida is a swing state and the vote total in the upcoming general election will be close. As with 2000, it's a clear-cut case of vote caging and weeding out those who reliably vote Democratic, especially those of color.

Of course, that doesn't stop Rick Scott from trying to deny the right to vote white people who've been living, working and voting in Florida for decades, such as the lady who's operated a kennel for 40 years or the 91 year-old Bronze Star-winning WWII veteran who now, as with thousands of others, have had the burden of proof and a horrendously short window of opportunity to prove their citizenship thrust upon them.

Many of us, I hope, still remember what happened 12 years ago when then Florida Secretary of State (and future Congresswoman) Katherine Harris, doubling as George W. Bush's campaign co-chair, hired a company named Choicepoint in Alpharetta, Georgia to assemble a list of thousands of Florida voters, which her office then denied the right to vote based on the dodgiest of algorithms (back then it was enough if your name even sounded like that of a convicted felon). Up to 12,000 people wound up on the purge list, many more than the 537 votes by which Bush "won" Florida, hence the presidency.

12 years later, we're seeing something even more evil: Up to 182,000 names (likely more) have been submitted for re-examination and thousands of American citizens have been sent notices informing them (without any input from the State Dept.) that they're not citizens, after all, have lost their right to vote and that they have a very narrow window of opportunity to prove otherwise.

In other words, the burden of proving our citizenship and right to vote has been thrust upon us instead of being vetted by the state.

The Florida GOP chair is still clinging to the ridiculous excuse that this is being done in the name of "honoring the rule of law", which is hilarious considering what happened under Kate Harris in 2000. He also cited an unverified story of a single person who allegedly voted illegally in prior elections. So, because of this one apocryphal case of voter fraud, many hundreds, if not thousands, are being denied the right to vote.

Oh, and about three minutes into the video, this clown had the nerve to blame the Obama administration for these Draconian tactics.

In the wake of this latest Republican throwing out the baby with the bathwater/nuclear option that plainly attempts to cage votes based on racial and political demographics, at least 300 Florida voters had informed their state government that they are, indeed, citizens and have had their right to vote reinstated. The Republican Party of Florida is shopping for voters just as surely as Rush Limbaugh shops for doctors to give him Oxycontin and Viagra on the sly. They've not only ripped a page from the 2000 playbook, they've actually expanded on it.

While the Florida GOP chair admits the methodology is flawed, the horrendous results still haven't deterred either him or Rick Scott from continuing the purge. In fact, Scott recently promised that not only will this massive voter purge continue but that he'll ramp it up.

This latest purge was so hairy and smelly from the outset, that one suspects the previous Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, resigned over it after publicly admitting the methodology was flawed and would lead to legal voters being purged from the rolls.

And what Scott, a fabulously corrupt health care executive who made millions off Medicare fraud and is a giant dildo belonging to the Koch brothers, is doing amounts to right wing sedition. Scott's promised to actually ramp up the purge, meaning many more than the final list of 2700 could be targeted, despite the Justice Department ordering him to suspend his vote shopping spree and no less than five Congressmen and Sen. Nelson telling him the same thing.

This is so transparently a typical Republican strategy that it's not worth belaboring. The entire overarching rationale of the Florida elections of 2000 and many more before it was to disenfranchise just enough voters to eke out a 51% victory and the dodgiest of mandates. Thanks to an illegally and partisan suspension on the part of the SCOTUS of the recount, Bush "won" Florida by a 50.1% margin...

...the same 50.1% margin that Romney is counting on to win this general election.

And what no one is saying is who put together the original, massive 182,000 name list for Kurt Browning. Was it Choicepoint, who now datamines the personal information of job applicants for thousands of companies nationwide? Whoever it was, hiring a contractor do this and making the Florida taxpayer pay for their disenfranchisement would be another typical Republican tactic.

Old Home Week

The White House really ought to fix that clogged toilet that keeps burping turds back up every year or so.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
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  • Top Ten Conservative Books
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  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
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