Friday, August 31, 2012

Clint Made Our Night

The MSM reports this morning on Clint Eastwood's rambling monologue at the GOP convention last night.

It took 28 years but it finally came full circle.

In Sudden Impact, the 1984 Dirty Harry sequel, Clint Eastwood uttered a line that would be as immortal as, "Well, do you feel lucky today... punk?" when he uttered, "Go ahead- Make my day." Ronald Reagan, a man who ran the country as if he was making an eight year-long Bonzo movie on a sound stage, used it against Congress the following year.

And, though it took nearly three decades, it wound up in the mouth of Clint Eastwood again like a stale signature joke in the mouth of a once-funny but irrelevant comedian. "I don't get no respect." "Take my wife, please." "Make my day." These were lines that were almost as hilarious as Ryan's and Romney's palpable, provable lies. And, were it not for Clint Eastwood's prop, the 82 year-old actor would've stolen all of Romney's thunder, whose own speech was described as being met with less than enthusiasm.

And Eastwood's disjointed and factually-challenged monologue/dialogue with a piece of furniture was a pathetic spectacle to behold- a brilliant filmmaker plainly in the twilight of his career, if not his lucidity, thought it would be a good idea to speak to an empty stool while Mitt Romney winced backstage.

It all started when, during his unscripted and unprompted pantomime, when he claimed Hollywood was not full of liberals as the GOP insists on believing. This is not only true but virtually every action star since John Wayne is a rock-ribbed conservative. But Eastwood then took a jab at liberal celebrities by saying that conservatives "don't hot dog it" regarding their political affiliations. This was pathetically out of touch and can be disproved by the very man Eastwood mentioned, Jon Voigt, who'd a couple of years ago went full metal birther on Obama on national TV and had continued his right wing shenanigans in Tampa right up until last night (including telling daughter Angelina Jolie that George Clooney was a bad influence on Brad Pitt. What is this, junior high in Voigt's conspiracy theory world?).

But Eastwood's Harvey routine went more than a few shades to the right in other things he'd wound up saying to the audience/stool.

He's obviously lost a step or two since he was the one term mayor of Carmel, California and perhaps beating up on him comes off as looking like elder abuse. But Eastwood at least knew very well what his intention was and all his talking points were classic right wing ones and all his lies (and there were many, many of them) were right out of the GOP playbook.

It's hard to pick a starting point in all of Eastwood's meanderings so start with his lie that there's 23 million people unemployed. In reality, according to the BLS, it's 12.8 million, still a too-high number, but it's almost half of what Eastwood has been saying. Plus, even if that number pulled by Eastwood out of his ass was real, why should anyone, especially wealthy, well-heeled Republicans, trust the GOP or give a shit about their sudden concern about jobs when they themselves ran on that same opportunistic platform just two years ago only to forget about job creation the second they retook the House?

So, who's best suited to bring jobs back to America? Well, according to Eastwood, that would be Mitt Romney, a dissembling, rapacious psychopath who'd shipped, at minimum, 100,000 jobs to China. Indeed, according to Clint, what we need to get this country back on track was a businessman, considering how admirably well that worked for us between 2001-2009.

The Oscar-winner blamed Obama for Afghanistan. He wants us out. Romney wants us out. And, yes, Obama did ramp up Afghanistan but outside of Eastwood's and the GOP's Swiss cheese memory, Bush was the one who'd first invaded the first of two countries that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.

Gitmo's still open, Clint? True, but you've obviously forgotten it was also your beloved Republican Party in the Senate that had blocked the funding necessary for Gitmo's closing.

And what's the matter with trying terrorism suspects in New York City? The Underwear Bomber was tried, convicted and sentenced in federal court in Detroit with no incidents whatsoever. Obviously, in Eastwood's worldview, it's far better to detain these people for a decade or more without charges only to have to release these very innocent but very pissed off and resentful terrorism suspects into the wild.

I could go on and on but many of us, starting with the Romney campaign, have already come to the same conclusion: That it was a shamelessly shameful and pathetic spectacle for Eastwood to speak to an empty chair and put words in an imaginary man's mouth and badmouth the Vice President for doing something Dick Cheney had much more infamously done years ago. Invisible Obama stole the show just as the visible one will, of course, steal the show during the Democratic convention in North Carolina next week.

I rather preferred the Clint Eastwood of 40 years ago, the one that reluctantly took the stage at the 1972 Oscars after being grabbed to fill in for a tardy Charlton Heston, the one who'd remarked how ironic it was for them to grab a guy who hadn't said 12 words in his whole movie career.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ann Cunter Holds Court on Fox "News"

Can we please just shove a baseball bat down this twat's throat and fuck this "high road" bullshit?

My Proudest Accomplishment

Considering some of the questionable and outright bad things I've done in my life, I must confess in all honesty that I haven't much to point to in the way of proud accomplishments. If you're looking for heroes, you won't find them here. That's people who lay their lives on the line every day taking on armed bad guys, running into burning buildings and so forth. If I ever saved anyone's life, that revelation was forever lost in the welter and matrix of circumstance.

However, I can point to one instance that took place when I was in my mid-late 30's and, perhaps audaciously, I'd like to offer this as a synecdoche of what's happening to this country on a grander scale.

My ex girlfriend and I were sitting in the den one late spring day. The den is connected to the kitchen and the kitchen door was wide open to air the place out. Suddenly, we heard a child say, "Kick it in the road!" We looked at each other for a split second, knowing or suspecting immediately to what they were referring.

Since I was by far the faster of the two, I bolted out of the house, flew down the porch steps and raced to the end of our street. There, at the cross street, in the three way intersection, in the middle of the road, was a small turtle on its back. It seemed every kid in the neighborhood was there and they were standing on both sides of this busy cross street. Our own three kids were on the opposite side.

It ought to be mentioned right here that none of our three kids personally believed in or practiced animal cruelty. Whatever pets they personally owned or that our family owned, were loved, well cared-for and were treated with the utmost, love, respect and gentleness. Whether they were dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, a turtle dove or fish, our little ongoing menagerie could have done a lot worse than live in our home. We even used humane mouse traps.

But when I saw our three kids standing across the street playing silent enablers to this senseless tragedy in the making, I completely lost it. From the east, there were no cars coming but from the west there was a car approaching that was about 200 yards away. I picked up the turtle and screamed at my kids, "I thought your mother and I raised you better than this! You're supposed to love and respect animals!"

As I said, putting this poor reptile on its back and waiting for it to get squashed for the very transient amusement of the neighborhood's kids was plainly not their idea. It was just as obviously the two Portuguese boys at the end of the street, two kids who would grow up to be world-class douchebags and wouldbe rapists and misogynists, who were the ringleaders.

So my kids crossed the street and followed me to the back yard that flooded every spring (and still does I imagine) on account of the grade and the high water table. We still had a little temporary lake in our back yard and our three kids watched me put the turtle on the water's edge until it swam away. Words cannot tell how disappointed I was that our three kids were so craven and cowardly, so fearing temporary ridicule and retribution that they would've passively allowed an innocent animal to die so horribly.

Modest though it is, I still point to it as one of my best accomplishments because it's one of the few times I can think of in which I saved an innocent life. On a couple of occasions in the future, my stepdaughter had even called my attention to a wounded bird on the river bank (although I couldn't help it) or a baby squirrel that had gotten itself trapped in an empty trash can filled with rain water (Him, I could help). They knew who to turn to if there was an animal in distress.

But this one time, they went with the crowd, who were also reluctant, silent enablers but enablers nonetheless. And this is the problem I have with the electorate.

It's been said many times both here, in my previous blogs and by better minds than mine that in midterm elections especially, voter turnout usually tops out at an anemic 40%. It rarely and barely gets above 50% even in hotly-contested election years (such as the last one in which we elected our first African American president).

The 50-60% of us (roughly 100,000,000 voting age Americans) who fail to vote and fail to rouse themselves to a level of activism involving more than a donated tweet to Occupy Wall Street are no better than passive enablers, the people you would expect to be on the losing side of a psychological study proving how easily people can be lulled, fooled or bullied into enabling the cruelest behavior by a small percentage of type A authoritarian personalities.

For a species so unique in the particular, for all our idiosyncrasies, the overwhelming majority of us still need to be led. We'll inevitably go with the one that seems to match our hopes and address our fears and to do so with the loudest, most charismatic voice while most convincingly faking the greatest empathy.

This begins to explain how the Nazi Party was able to openly carry out its atrocities in eastern Europe and, amazingly, to depend on the silence of those watching it so the Allied powers didn't see the full scope of the Holocaust until the very end of the war. And far from the Holocaust being an isolated period in human history, subsequent studies have shown that we will inflict or at least be willing to watch the inflicting of torture in order to preserve our own standing in the community. This, too, is another constant that's permanently hard-wired into the human psyche: That when faced with the threat of criticism, ostracizing, all the way to actual physical violence, the overwhelming majority of human beings are craven enough to not take a stand to defend even the very things they revere and love.

Well, the Republican Party showed last night that it's willing to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a bad simulacrum of it and to otherwise put the turtle of our economy on its back so the squashing can be blamed on others (such as the presumed ex President Obama).

We're passively going along with a racist, crypto-fascist agenda that's in reality no different and in some ways worse and openly so than its predecessor four years ago. In late August of 2008, when we'd actually begun listening to Sarah Palin throwing bloody, quivering hunks of red meat to the rabidly racist Republican base, we thought the GOP and its base couldn't possibly get more hateful, spiteful, racist and nasty.

Paul Ryan and several of those in attendance at the GOP convention proved last night that that's not true. The mainstream Republican Party, owing its establishmentarian status to Overton's Window more than anything else besides our apathy, has the miraculous quality of never quite reaching the bottom of the barrel and at this point the only degree of separation between the Republican Party and the Nazi Party of the Germany of 70-80 years ago is their embrace of the swaztika and an open policy of religious and racial genocide.

And, as with the electorate of Germany during that time, we are just as passively watching this happening and allowing the mainstream media to not challenge these lunatics who are trying to turn us on our backs.

Saving Private Equity

The closest the Gray Lady came to doing its job when reporting in its lead story Paul Ryan accepting the GOP nomination for Vice President was in juxtaposing it with the other lead story about Issac making landfall on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, thereby manufacturing an irony that's nonetheless true.

Because the new Goebbels of the GOP accused President Obama of "missing leadership" on that seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which has been taking New Orleans on a soggy stroll down Memory Lane with category 2 Hurricane Issac topping the levees and flooding the city that's still reeling from the effects of "reforms" that are harming the city's residents that haven't been gentrified out.

You all remember Katrina, right? That's the hurricane that essentially disappeared a great American city and her best friend was an absent George W. Bush who was on vacation and essentially did nothing even after learning the levees were not only in danger of being topped but also of being breached. Then, when Bush finally showed up, he was at Louis Armstrong Airport talking about his days of debauchery in NOLA as a college undergrad then grounded rescue choppers while he told FEMA chief Michael Brown, "Heckuva job, Brownie!"

To complete the PTSD, the GOP even had the effrontery to invite Condi "Who Knew the Levees Would be Breached" Rice, who had to be shamed into making even a photo op in her native Gulf Coast after being nationally embarrassed by a shopper who'd accosted her while she was shoe-shopping at Ferragamo's even as her people were drowning.

And the Gray Lady gets no points for merely dutifully reporting whatever Paul Ryan said without making the slightest attempt at fact-checking, let alone editorializing, save to say,

Likewise, Mr. Ryan, whose deep budget-cutting plans drew intense criticism from Mr. Obama long before the Republican ticket was completed, accused the president of failing to act on the recommendations of his own bipartisan debt commission. Mr. Ryan did not mention that he had served on that commission and dissented from its policy proposals, which included specific steps to reduce budget deficits.

Ryan did, indeed, vote against his own commission's recommendations but not, we can assume, because the cat food commission not only voted for austerity measures on the poor and needy but also for corporate tax cuts.

Ryan's speech, naturally, didn't go into specific policy proposals because an acceptance speech is neither the time or place for that. But to those of us who look and listen beyond the party propaganda get the feeling that the Romney-Ryan ticket as yet doesn't have any specific proposals aside from gutting Medicare and replacing it with a hollowed-out corpse (something the Gray Lady had no stomach to mention) and lowering taxes to Romney's and Ryan's mutual benefit.

And, while gently repudiating the administration before last, the R&R boys couldn't help but harken back to it, inviting a largely ignored John McCain, their last nominee, and Bush's former Secretary of State to speak. George Bush himself was reduced to making a Max Headroom appearance, delivering a weepy-eyed speech by video extolling not Mitt Romney but his war criminal father.

The "new" GOP may try to fool their acolytes into thinking they're moving in a bold new direction but they keep circling in place like a junk yard dog chasing its mangy tail and even time and the climate itself aids and abets their doom to repeat its sordid history.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Katrina's Ghost

"Yo, when the fuck do we eat? Don't tease me and make this uglier than it has to be..."
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, FL ---

Irony just happens to follow the Republican Party like Pig Pen's dust cloud or an unsavory reputation. Seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Issac, after graciously grazing by the Tampa Bay Times Forum and allaying conservative frustration at not getting out their message to 16,000 of my colleagues, has, instead, slammed into reliable target New Orleans, Louisiana, the epicenter of the clusterfuck that was the Bush administration's "response" to Katrina. Talk about a Seven Year Itch. In fact, the levees got topped. Again. Who knew?

Then there was the keynote speaker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who delivered a surprisingly folksy and civil speech (if you listen to the carefully cherry-picked Yahoo readers who were asked for their honest opinions by the liberal search engine site) that only seemed to take time out from its self-aggrandizement to reluctantly remember the Man of the Hour, Artful Tax Dodger Mitt Romney. The irony here is that it came out just before the convention that Christie turned down the B side of the Republican ticket because he didn't think Romney could win.

That, and it may have had something to do with the pesky federal election laws that place prohibitions on how much corporate payola a sitting Governor can accept while running for federal office (which may have something to do with why Willard was so eager to get out of the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in January 2007 because he had presidential aspirations that he began pursuing mere weeks later.).

As expected, Queen Ann Romney's speech wasn't worth listening to. Imagine a Stepford wife with irritable bowel syndrome droning on about how important it is to have your quarter billionaire husband's taxes reduced from a brutal 13% and you'll save yourself a lot of pain.

Then, there was the mini Republican riots on the convention floor, mostly coming from Mainers (who left the floor en masse during the delegate count) and other Ron Paul supporters who are rightfully indignant that Romney's campaign has essentially squelched dissent for a 2016 national convention of which Romney will obviously never play a part. Considering that Romney's been calling the Obama administration on its lack of transparency, this pre-emptive move on the 2012 Romney campaign to step on the first amendment rights of fellow Republicans does not augur well, to say the least.

Then, two of the same Republicans who bristle and get their dander up at the very hint of being accused of racism were ejected from the RNC for throwing peanuts at an African American CNN camerawoman and saying to her, "This is how we feed animals." Surprisingly, the Republican National Committee and convention officials have been close-mouthed about the whole affair.

Of course, this ought not be treated as an isolated incident but all of a piece. The GOP in general and the Romney camp has been pulling the race card almost from day one and now even black people whose name isn't Barack Obama are all fair game in this conservative safari known as the RNC convention.

The Romney campaign sincerely wanted to unite the party in order to project an image of consensus. Each party in each of its quadrennial presidential conventions wishes to do that. But for once, the Republicans have proven to be at least as fractious as the Democrats and liberals historically have been since the 1960's. The keynote speaker and one time VP short lister doesn't think Romney and Ryan can win. The delegates can't be kept on the floor because the Romney campaign wants to change to rules to quell dissent four years from now. Ron Paul supporters showed on live national TV how much they loathe Romney. And the racists that the GOP courts out of the corner of its mealy mouth just can't behave themselves when there are African Americans about.

All that remains to be seen is how the Democratic Party fucks up this golden opportunity in Charlotte, NC in a week by outdoing the Republicans with their historical fractiousness.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Given the Republican Party's decades-long descent into wingnuttery, one gets the feeling that if Jesus had chosen the GOP convention in Tampa for the Second Coming, it would be quickly followed by the Second Crucifixion. What follows below are 10 obviously forgotten quotes by Jesus and the conflicting reality of today's Republican Party.

The Imperfect Storm

Whew! Thank God the Republicans dodged a bullet and tropical storm Issac missed most of Tampa before it got upgraded to a category 2 hurricane and began barreling toward New Orleans just in time for the 7th anniversary of Katrina after battering Haiti's tent cities! I guess the Republicans are God's chosen people, after all.

Consider this an open thread until I or my bored colleague Mike Flannigan weigh in on the convention later on today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tweety Drinks the Potion Instead of the Koolaid

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Remember that Sylvester the cat cartoon where Tweety drinks the Jekyll and Hyde potion and turns into a huge, hideous monster? I think someone slipped something like that into his drink at the Elephant Bar in Tampa on Morning Joe because he just eviscerated a certain little French bulldog/human hybrid who goes by the name of Reince... Rinsed Penis about Romney and the GOP using the race card. It was over a minute and a half before Rinsed Penis could get a word in edgewise and then every time he opened his mouth and yipped out more right wing talking points ("Both sides do it," "Obama's looking to Europe for guidance", yada yada.) Tweety ripped into him again.

Chris Matthews rips Rinsed Penis a new one at the Elephant Bar.

This didn't make Tom Brokaw happy and said in that irritating clenched teeth, Daddy Warbucks accent that he didn't agree with Matthews. But what's there not to agree with? Romney's "joke" in Michigan about no one having asked to see his birth certificate wasn't a joke at all but a carefully timed jibe about Obama's foreignness? The Romney campaign's misleading and despicably-motivated ads about welfare reform should've been pulled off the air immediately when they were thoroughly debunked?

Typically, Joey Scar's trophy co-host Mika Brzezinski suggested that they ought to take a break because, you know, certain dissidents were getting too uncomfortably close to the truth and about to veer into dangerous "feet to the fire journalism" that allowed Edward R. Murrow to help define TV journalism in its infancy.

So take note, people: Tweety will shrink back to his harmless little yellow self, get called on the carpet and that'll be the end of Tweety's Jekyll and Hyde routines. So treasure this clip because this is what the truth used to sound like in election years past.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Mike Flannigan Diaries, Pt II

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

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, FL ---

8:01 Decided to postpone my shower at the Ricky Ricardo Arms until this afternoon. The roach was still in the tub. Fucking bathroom hog. Went straight to the convention center to scout the place out. The Secret Service was there before me doing the same thing. I watched them check the rafters, the rooftops of surrounding buildings, etc. I asked if they were looking for snipers. The guy said, "Yeah, that and liberal bloggers." Then he frisked me. How will I ever break this to poor Doris? Because I think I'm in love.

10:00 I actually saw Senator John McCain doddering around near the convention center even though the convention itself won't be for another four days. He mumbled something about looking for the Congressional cafeteria. I think his strategy is if he and his beer heiress wife Cindy buy enough homes, he'll eventually stop getting lost.

11:21 By the time I got back to the hotel, Housekeeping had already done its job. They left an Ex-Lax on my pillow. Are they trying to tell me something? They also restocked the minibar. I'm coming up in the world. Now I have a new, sealed jar of cocktail olives, two Pearl beers and three condoms. It's like a redneck's version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Woo hoo.

12:34 Went to a nearby Taco Bell for lunch. Saw Grover Norquist arguing about the $1.21 meal tax.

12:57 I can barely see the convention center from my window. With the glass bulge on the south side, it looks like a pregnant NASA hangar.

2:02 Billy used his one phone call to tell me what an asshole I am. I feigned ignorance of his charges then wadded up a sheet of paper and told him we were breaking up before I disconnected. I need new friends, no shit.

2:49 Doris called again and this time I checked the caller ID before opening my mouth. She said Fox News showed me getting frisked by the Secret Service and wanted to know why. What is it with Fox News and me?

3:03 Ari called right after I got done talking to my wife. He wanted to know what I'd learned. I told him, "Well, with Twisted Sister and Rage Against the Machine pulling their songs, I hear Mitt Romney's using the opening bar of Beethoven's 5th." The stupid fuck thought I was serious. Before we hung up, Ari said that Sean Hannity cancelled on Stephanie Miller last night. I said, "Gee, what a shock. Maybe Bartolo Colon used up his supply of testosterone."

6:31 I can hear the couple next to me having sex. I think the guy's a Republican. He was talking about his stock portfolio just before he came.

6:49 Despite the Republican sex inches away, I was still hungry so I called the front desk and asked about room service. The manager hung up and two minutes later, a takeout menu was slid under my door. Inside was a note telling me what the staff wanted.

7:21 Ugh. Deadlines. Time to get to work. Began assembling my notes. So far, the Republican platform seems to consist of, "Lower taxes!", "We built this!" (That'll be trumpeted in a building built with 62% government money), "Lower taxes!" and "Yes, we, too, believe in the concept of legitimate rape but we're too diplomatic to be obvious about it." Call me nostalgic and sentimental, but I'm already starting to miss Sarah Palin and George W. Bush.

8:59 I heard a man groaning in the hallway and at first I thought it was the Republican Romeo next door. I don't know if it was but I opened the door and there was a fat naked guy running down the hall with a pocket knife in his ass. I'll assume it was an accident.

9:25 I'd wound up ordering a pepperoni pizza for myself. I went back a few hours later for seconds and I swear there was a slice missing. Maybe I underestimated the roach's appetite. I wonder what Kafka would say about all this? Drinking this Pearl beer and being back in the south is having a bad effect on me. I suddenly have this overmastering desire to put an old washing machine in my front yard. Good thing I don't have any cousins.

9:45 Trying to get to sleep. Overheard this actual bit of dialogue from Republican Romeo next door: "I have class. At least I put the money on the nightstand instead of throwing it on the floor."

Open Thread

Yeah, money's tight but I figure election years only come along quadrennially. And since this beauty that you see in front of my house arrived today, the missus and I couldn't wait to assemble and put it up. If you want one, too, order yours now before Election Day at Dogs Against Since our neighborhood has a huge indigenous canine population (including two resident Rottweilers downstairs), I expect this sign will be yellowed long before November 6th.

About Matt Bissonette

The two reasons [Bissonette] wrote this book were to raise awareness about the sacrifices the SEALs make and to raise money for charities that support fallen SEALs,” Dutton spokesperson Christine Ball.

Dear Mr. Tart:

It's seeing PR sound bytes and books like "No Easy Day" that make me want to vomit everything I've ever eaten since 1959.

First off, we all know this "tell-all" book was actually written, as with all books by right wing neanderthals-cum-auteurs, a ghost writer. In this case, it's Kevin Maurer, a guy who's been
embedded with special ops teams before and ought to know more than your typical Bob Novak wannabe about what a minefield a book of this type can be.

Some liberals, people with whom I'm best acquainted, have a skewed focus regarding this book that's been cynically slated for a September 11th 2012 publication date (real classy, I have to admit, to cash in on the deaths of nearly 3000 innocents while tying that day to bin Laden, a notion that is adorably antiquated and of course completely fabricated). They're looking for "Gotcha" moments and cherry-picking what's untrue. However, it's the special forces community past and present (I am in the latter, being a former SEAL myself) that, rightly, is more concerned with what's in it that is true

It's not as if this hasn't happened before. Look at jailbird Dick Marcinko and his Red Cell and other books, that another opportunistic, scumbag literary agent and acquisitions editor saw fit to publish to our enduring embarrassment and trepidation. But I would think the PR fallout from those book would've been your counsel. But not when there's money to be made, obviously.

The timing of this book, practically the 11th hour of an election, so incredibly makes this a Swiftboating, partisan exercise I find it stupefying that you'd send your flak Christine Ball out there to say that Bissonnette's book isn't in fact politically motivated and was, instead, ghost-written with the altruistic intention of helping out families of fallen SEALs. While there's no way to verify whether or not that's true or if he's already blown half his advance at Melvin's Gun Emporium in Anchorage, it's insulting to our intelligence you would try to get anyone to believe that the pot shots he takes at his Commander in Chief were strictly coincidental.

Granted, like the angry Pentagon, I haven't seen this book nor ever intend to read such treasonous tripe. Yet it's my understanding that Bissonnette's contention is that the actual account of the night Osama bin Laden was allegedly killed (with all evidence dumped in the drink in the dead of night like the last scene of a Sopranos episode) is the first account we got from Obama's counter-terrorism czar, John Brennan. If that's true, then why did Brennan continue changing the story literally every few hours in the first days after the May 1st raid?

And what's the matter with the President mentioning it once in a while in a matter of fact way (Not bragging about it and taking credit for it as Bush, for instance, took credit for hanging Saddam and rescuing people from rooftops in New Orleans that he never rescued)?

Indeed, if we were to listen to Brennan closely, as I was, the story not only evolved every few hours but made the raid sound more and more bungled. First bin Laden had a weapon in his hands and we engaged. Then he was "within reach" of a weapon and we engaged. Then, finally, we heard from Brennan that, well, no, he wasn't actually within arm's reach of a weapon but he pushed his wife toward us in a hostile manner and we engaged.

Meanwhile, what the completely worthless MSM didn't play up was, during the first account from John O. Brennan, the SEALs and CIA (30 operators, to be exact, to take on 5 al Qaeda gunmen, making a mockery of Bissonnette's title, "No Easy Day", a reference to our motto in the SEALs, "The only easy day was yesterday.") had clear rules of engagement (ROE): Do not engage bin Laden unless he was armed and engages. Then we eventually learned the SEALs opened up on him even though he wasn't close to being armed and the original ROE was, technically, still in effect.

Let me tell you a bit about what it means to be a former SEAL, Mr. Tart, hard as it may be to imagine for you who's obviously never suffered an injury more grievous than getting your tie caught in a shredder:

No operator, whether he's SEAL, Delta Force, Green Beret, CIA or otherwise goes into an op without a clearly defined ROE in the pre-op briefing. A shifting ROE is what got things fucked up at Ruby Ridge and again at Waco. And the planning of the mission in Abbottabad, Pakistan was a clusterfuck from virtually every conceivable standpoint. Let's start with the air density of the elevated complex, which the SEALs didn't even try to recon because if they knew the air wasn't dense enough to support the experimental chopper they used, they never would've taken it up there to abandon on the other side of the wall only to blow up so it wouldn't fall into al Qaeda's hands.

The mission only looks like a success unless one refuses to believe, pending concrete evidence, that bin Laden was indeed killed. You send in 30 operators armed to the teeth against just five bad guys you'd damned well better have 30 men walk away from five dead bad guys. It set on its ear everything we've ever been taught about special forces: Smaller units for big missions. SEAL teams used to be 16 men. Now they're 10. Suddenly, we're resorting to overkill and have to depend on a 5-1 saturation rate to ensure anything remotely resembling success?

Methinks they didn't adequately recon the area to get the enemy's strength, either.

And now we're supposed to believe that the story told to us by Obama's own right hand man that had since been revised more times than a college freshman's term paper was really the right one all along and we're supposed to take this clown Bissonnette at face value through his ghost writer?

Another reason why a book like this makes me want to puke blood is not because this neanderthal, whose most oft posted picture makes him look like a sweatier, more bug-eyed version of Bill Paxton in Aliens, comes out of nowhere, spills national security secrets that could leave him (and you and your publishing company) up on charges of treason because you were more concerned about money, money, money and not at all about actually vetting the facts or running it through the Pentagon.

No, that's not what angers me the most. What angers me the most is that this big-mouthed prick Bissonnette, altruist or no, got a pile of money for a book you and I both know he didn't write and still trading on his Navy SEAL experience.

Meanwhile, here I am, 53, going on 54, no closer to getting an agent or a publishing contract than I was the day I was conceived. I've failed going on 20 years getting an agent with an actual brain in their head and have been even more studiously ignored by an incompetent, lazy and disinterested publishing establishment losing vast acres of ground to an upstart electronic publishing technology that insists on dealing only with agents and not (icky poo) actual authors.

Unlike this right wing lunatic Bissonnette, some of us, as I, have moved on and are pursuing dreams more substantial than reliving our glory days of killing people and blowing shit up. Some of us, as I, wish to actually give something back to the world other than rubble and dead bodies. Some of us, as I, would like to be novelists. Or sculptors. Or composers. Anything, God, other than what we were trained to do on Coronado.

Sadly, the most notorious ex SEALs are either jailbirds (Marcinko), future jailbirds (Bissonnette) or ought to be jailbirds (Blackwater's Erik Prince). The rest of us who do have other talents that actually integrate in the real world and that don't involve murdering civilians or actual bad guys and creating rubble don't have a chance because we're not willing to have ghost-written for us politically partisan books that involve lies and classified intelligence and are willing to see them opportunistically published on the most notorious and bloodiest day in American history.

In other words, if we're not willing to sell out and speak treasonously against our Commander in Chief to grasping avaricious scum such as yourself, your colleagues and the agents with whom you deal, we haven't a chance. Meanwhile, we have to endure the fulfillment of our slide into Idiocracy with every ghost-written book with the names of right wing hacks so Big Publishing can make a couple of million more in its losing battle against technology.

I remain, most disrespectfully,

Robert Crawford, USN, Ret.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Mike Flannigan Diaries

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

Mike Flannigan, my erstwhile collaborator here at Pottersville, has been sent by Ari Goldstein, his editor in chief, to cover the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Between now and the duration of this clown show that starts on Monday, Mikey is going to be publishing excerpts of his diary as well as at least one or two articles on the convention itself. Since he arrived just tonight, he's already sent me his first diary entry that he'd started writing on his flight to Tampa.

5:40 About to land in Tampa. On the radar map, the storm is approaching Tampa like the ejaculation of God. Everybody's worrying about Tropical Storm Issac briefly inconveniencing the convention. I wonder where all this concern was just before the Category 5 Hurricane Katrina seven years ago? Or about Haiti and its tent cities that are also in the storm's path? And I wonder how Pat Robertson will try to spin this? Remembering how certain wingnuts were praying for a hurricane to hit the Democratic convention at the Pepsi Convention Center in Denver, CO, three words come to mind: Karma's a cunt.

5:49 A Republican delegate from New England is sitting behind me and I thought I overheard him say something about Issac being "a Jewish conspiracy." I don't know if he was serious but the woman with him heartily laughed about it.

6:11 Just checked into the Ricky Ricardo Arms. As you can guess, it isn't quite a five star hotel like many of the mucky mucks and delegates will be staying at. The service isn't exactly stellar. Not only do the bellhops not carry your bags, one even asked me to hold the elevator for him.

6:22 I just saw a Palmetto bug in my bathtub. I swear to Christ, it's the size of a fucking boogie board. Complained to the manager just now. He told me pets weren't allowed and he'd have to charge me double. Thank God he started laughing just before he hung up on me. Everybody's a fucking comedian when Republicans come to town.

6:40 You've gotta be kidding me. Just got a call from a panicked Billy Frazee. How the fuck does me expect me to bail him out from 1300 miles away?

6:43 My wife Doris called right after. Without checking the caller ID, I answered it with, "I'm not bailing your ass out!" Her response was, "Is that so? Remember with fondness the TSA checkpoint at Logan when you get back. It'll be the closest thing to sex you'll get for the rest of the year. Asshole."

7:12 From my window, I can tell Republicans are starting to arrive in Tampa. The skies are getting grey, people are looking apprehensive and the city looks more and more like Mordor. Oh, the storm. Right. Still...

7:39 It never ends. Just got a call from a bail bondsman in Connecticut. Billy actually gave him my number, told him I'll put his bail on my debit card. I told him Billy was some random stranger who's been stalking me. Making a mental note to be extra nice to Billy his first birthday after his parole.

7:49 Checked the so-called minibar. Found a half a jar of cocktail olives, a Pearl beer and a condom. All I need is gin, vermouth and a box of Kleenex and I'm all set until the TSA gets another crack at my goodies.

8:20 I'm wiped. As soon as I finish this entry, I'll send this off to Crawford. I hope he doesn't beg me for money again. He's getting to be a pain in the ass. Called Ari and told him I arrived safely. He was only concerned about my laptop making it through the X-ray machine. That man's compassion always chokes me up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Assclowns of the Week #92: Akin to a Fool edition

Since beginning this feature over seven years ago, I've often found that August, the month Congress recesses for five weeks, tends to be slow. But the environment gets very target-rich during election years and Republicans, as usual, never fail to disappoint. To wit (or the lack thereof):

House Republicans (5) for shaking their full montes where Jesus once walked on water; Apple (4) for not thinking any differently from your typical corporation and Mitt Romney (3) for turning away New Hampshire locals in favor of shills. And if, after looking at the subtitle, you don't know who made the first one-two finish in ACOTW history, then maybe you belong on this list, too.

So let's climb aboard a gurney as Republicans send us all to inner city free clinics as we review the abovementioned cavalcade of assclowns and much, much more!

10) Rick Santorum

Pope Ricky on "ObamaCare", from a makeshift papal balcony somewhere in Ohio:
We have a president who, for the first time in American history, is directly assaulting the First Amendment and freedom of religion. He is going to tell you what to do in the practice of your faith. He is forcing business people right now to do things that are against their conscience, that they will have to – if you're a Catholic – you'll have to go to confession … to confess that you are complying with a government program that is a sin in the Catholic Church.

It astounds me how so many Republicans can be spot-on about Obama while listing exactly the wrong reasons. Yes, Obama is assaulting the First Amendment by making protesting near a federal building or anyone with Secret Service protection a federal felony. But the Affordable Care Act is, in the mind of at least one federal judge (and a Nixon appointee) hardly an impingement on the part of the 1st Amendment that guarantees freedom of religion. That is, unless you're a low-information, single-issue evangelical nut job who votes how James Dobson, Franklin Graham or Pat Robertson tells you how to vote.

But don't look for Romney and especially Ryan to distance themselves from His Holiness's offensive lies on this non-issue any time soon.

9) A Well-Regulated Militiaman

Remember how in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting, lunatics like Louie Gohmert had openly wished there had been more armed citizens in the theater to prevent bloodshed? Well, last Tuesday night at a theater in Sparks, Nevada, an unnamed moviegoer was about to sit down to watch The Bourne Legacy when his gun fell out of his pocket, which then discharged and lodged a bullet in his but-tocks.

The well-regulated militiaman and Darwin Award nominee then excused himself and checked into a VA hospital to get the bullet removed. A frightening sidebar is that the man had a legitimate concealed permit. I guess, as long as you have a concealed permit in Nevada, a pants pocket is as good as a holster.

8) Victoria Foyt and Weird Tales

Gee, I can't understand why she couldn't get a literary agent and a legitimate publisher interested in this Bircher masterpiece and was reduced to self-publication.

The most offensive thing about Foyt's Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden is not the racism with which its author has been charged but the clueless racial stereotypes thrown together hodge-podge so it appears to look like a white supremacist dystopian nightmare of a small white minority (the Pearls) being lorded over by a coal-black race (the Coals). In it, white women are terrorized by "powerful, beastly" black men wearing blackface. I guess Foyt fell asleep watching Mandingo one night and turned the resultant nightmare into a book.

The second-most offensive thing is that excerpts of it were bought and very briefly published by Weird Tales, a sci-fi pulp magazine I wasn't even aware still existed. How the author of this tripe and the editorial staff of the magazine thought this was a good idea eludes those of us who know how to write stories that a five year-old would be able to predict would flare up racial animus.

Predictably, Foyt's abortion of a self-published book has gotten almost all one star reviews and nothing but negative tags. I don't believe for a minute that Foyt is a racist but such sheer cluenessness, in choosing the most virulent forms of racial stereotypes and assuming it wouldn't get negative feedback, is stunning. But if you're Newt Gingrich or Pat Buchanan, fret not. Take note of the subtitle: There's going to be a sequel. Save the Pearls 2: Attack of the Well-Endowed, Tap-Dancing, Watermelon Eaters.

7) Sharon Barnes

Just to whet your appetite for what's to come, I give you low-level Missouri Republican official and five star evangelical nutbag Sharon Barnes, who, in responding to fellow MO Republican Todd Akin's fascinating theory on self-abortion, told the NY Times that if a woman is forcibly raped and impregnated, “at that point, if God has chosen to bless this person with a life, you don’t kill it.”

Never let it be said that the Republican Party is all doom and gloom and never sees the silver lining in every black cloud. Who cares about your right to do with your uterus as you see fit? La dee dah dee dah, Hey, honey, where's my lithium?

6) Benjamin Smith and OPSEC

As far as former Navy SEALs go, it's a neat trick to make scumbags like Dick Marcinko and Erik Prince look good by conspicuous relief but somehow Benjamin Smith managed it. And just who is Former Navy Seal Benjamin Smith? Just another right wing nut job birther conspiracy theorist, latter day Swift Boater and a complete and utter embarrassment to those of us who'd worn the uniform and the SEAL patch. In fact, he and his outfit, Special Operations OPSEC Educational Fund, Inc., is so embarrassing that Politico's Ben Smith is thinking of changing his name to Silas Tomkin Cumberback or some other moniker that doesn't sound remotely like Ben Smith.

OPSEC brags about getting a million dollars in funding but to anyone who's got two neurons to rub together (effectively excluding poor Benny), when a faux military-intelligence organization pops up just three months before an election and starts spreading spurious lies about the president, you know there's dirty Republican money behind it. This is what jamess at DKos found out about OPSEC and the people behind them:
The group says it is a non-partisan organization informing voters for social welfare purposes and has 501(c)(4) social welfare organization tax status with the IRS. Its leaders have ties to the Republican Party and Tea Party. Its president is former Navy SEAL Scott Taylor, who failed to win a Republican nomination for a Virginia congressional seat in 2010. Its spokesperson Chad Kolton, who worked for the Bush administration as a spokesperson for the Director of National Intelligence, was hired through HDMK, a Republican strategic communications firm, to perform media relations for OPSEC in July 2012.

The group claims to have raised almost $1 million between June and mid-August 2012. Because it claims that its primary purpose is to further the common good, the group doesn't have to disclose who is funding it to the public.

Who or what the fuck is HDMK?
HDMK is a new public relations firm named for the firm's partners and founders, Republican "communications veterans" Terry Holt, Trent Duffy, Jim Morrell and Chad Kolton, The Politico reported October 22, 2007.

Holt is a former spokesman for Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio); Duffy served most recenlty as a deputy press secretary under President George W. Bush; Morrell was deputy chief of staff to the House Republican Conference and a speechwriter for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.); and Kolton "led the public affairs department for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and for the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

Hm. A Republican communications firm with people tied to John Boehner, Dennis Hastert and George W. Bush and with its members screaming about birth certificates and Obama being a Muslim. Sure. What could be more non-partisan than that?

By the way, Bennie, the last asshole in the WH didn't do any wonders for the SEALs or any other JSOC outfit. So if you can't include Bush in your racist, Islamophobic jeremiads, then kindly put on a Michael Biehn movie and eat a bullet or two and let the experts do the mudslinging and deadcatting until November 6th.

5) House Republicans

Even though Jesus was the greatest prophet of all time, I doubt even he or his fisherman apostles saw the Coming of Republican lawmakers, in the presence of their wives, daughters and staffers, skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee while under the influence of stupidity and alcohol. This drew an official reprimand from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, who were probably pissed off they didn't get to make it to this hedonistic fact-finding mission. The one Republican we know of who went naked into the Sea of Galillee was Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Fast and Furious), voted "the hottest freshman in Congress."

Suffice to say it'll be a while before the American Israel Educational Foundation underwrites another trip involving Republicans who think nothing of getting hammered and dipping their flaccid wicks in the same waters on which Jesus had once walked. So can we finally stop hearing about Rahm Emmanuel's locker room horseplay and Anthony Weiner's penis?

4) Apple

When people wondered why I cheered when Steve Jobs died, I would say, as with so many other non Apple cult members, that I had a problem with them offshoring US manufacturing job overseas to Chinese sweatshops such as Foxconn. But now I have a new reason to loathe Apple. Because when the closing trading bell rang on Wall Street last Monday, Apple became the most profitable and valuable publicly traded company in US history, with shares selling at over $665 apiece. This is obviously largely due to their insistence on paying sweatshop laborers pennies on the dollar while continuing to sell us their shit at the regular market value.

But another part of the reason why Apple's shares are selling so briskly is because they've been dodging billions of dollars in corporate taxes for years, ducking $2.4 billion last year alone, while paying a global tax rate of barely over 3%. And paying a less than 10% US tax rate still isn't enough for Apple, if their lobbying for ever lower rates and more tax exemptions are any indication. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that Steve Jobs or his people created an app that allows them to take their ill-gotten billions with them.

3) The Romney/Ryan Campaign

How big of a scumbag do you have to be to give free tickets to New Hampshire residents only to rescind the tickets less than 12 hours before the event and allow inside, instead, Republicans from out of state? Well, I dunno how big. How tall are Romney and Ryan? Don't believe me? Take a gander of this screenshot.

This means the Romney camp couldn't find enough rock-ribbed Republicans in Goffstown, New Hampshire to fill the venue so they sent out these cancellation letters only to registered Democrats. And, in the case of at least one guy, those who tried to enter were escorted out. So the next time some scumbag Republican asks when you're within earshot why liberals hate America, just remind them of Republican Voter ID laws and tactics like the one Romney used in Goffstown, New Hampshire that had shut the locals out of the democratic process.

2) Rep. Todd Akin

Last Friday, senate candidate and GOP Rep Todd Akin went on Fox2 in St. Louis to suggest that maybe we should get rid of those pesky little Civil Rights Acts of '64 and '65 and just trust in the best intentions of white southern racists at the state level. He thought he could slip one by us by using the Lee Atwater/Ronald Reagan-era dog whistle phrase "states' rights". You see, according to Akin, protecting black people against white discrimination is a notion that's "outdated". And as proof, look at the nationwide Republican push for Voter ID laws across 37 states as evidence of how much they've progressed.

Very soon thereafter, he had to eat some Jim Crow and walk back those racist comments. Maybe he read Victoria Foyt's Revealing Eden and thought it was nonfiction.

1) Rep. Todd Akin

Incumbent Missouri senator Claire McCaskill must be thanking the political gods that she's running against gaffe machine Todd Akin. Last Sunday, just two days after saying the Civil and Voting Rights Acts ought to be repealed, Akin said during an interview on, once again, St. Louis Fox affiliate KTVI that women can automatically prevent a pregnancy resulting from "legitimate rape." Then the outcry online (especially Twitter) was so loud, that Akin was forced to walk back those comments. Understandably, by Monday, he wasn't making any public appearances. To make matters worse, the Republican Party is busting a nut trying to get Akin to drop out of the Senate race despite him still leading McCaskill by 1% and even the Romney campaign condemned him. By Tuesday Akin was reduced to making a campaign ad apologizing for exposing himself as the Michele Bachmann of biology.

Now, if you feel the need to ask yourself where Akin gets these ideas, you could start by checking out his pastor, D. James Kennedy, who thinks that women occasionally invite rape. Specifically, he wrote, “the immodest woman is contributing to the lust of other people” by wearing suggestive garb. (Btw, Akin still serves on the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology. Doesn't that reinstill your faith in how your tax dollars are spent?)

And, to show you how toxic Akin is to the GOP, he'd not only essentially torpedoed his own campaign but put a serious dent in Romney's presidential campaign. He managed this because his stupendously stupid "legitimate rape" remark reminded Democrats and voters of Akin co-sponsoring a bill last year with Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan that actually tried to narrow the definition of rape to the detriment of women.

Top 10 Ways to Tell The Boston Red Sox Are Finished

As of today, the Boston Red Sox are 13 games out of first place, four games under .500 and seven games out of the expanded wild card race. In their first season under manager Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox are having their most horrible season in nearly two decades and the press and fans alike are getting unmistakable indications the Red Sox are washed up for the year. What are the top 10 clues the Red Sox are done for the 2012 campaign?

  • 10) "Sweet Caroline" replaced at Fenway Park during 7th inning stretch with 5 minutes of prayer.

  • 9) Jerry Remy caught last night trying to sneak through Logan Airport for his annual Aruba vacation.

  • 8) Bobby Valentine already wearing civvies in the dugout by the 8th inning.

  • 7) Don Orsillo sending out resumes to YES.

  • 6) Fans heckling the peanut vendors.

  • 5) Neil Diamond booed during 7th inning stretch.

  • 4) Mookie Wilson & Bill Buckner to throw out the first pitch tonight.

  • 3) Bullpen starts warming up during the National Anthem.

  • 2) Bobby Valentine overheard calling Terry Francona in the booth for tips during ESPN games.

  • 1) In last series against the Yankees, Josh Beckett observed drinking beer and eating Chick-Fil-A... while on the mound.
  • Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Assclown of the Day

    By his rubric, manslaughter or unintentional murder never results in death.

    Twenty Bucks, Same as in Town: R&R edition

    Yesterday, Imani Gandy at Balloon Juice reminded us of something that had broken out on DKos a month ago yet (surprise, surprise!) didn't get any traction in the completely worthless MSM: Mitt Romney's and Bain Capital's role in a massive Medicare fraud scheme that resulted in a $35,300,000 criminal fine. The fact that this massive story had about as much legs as a South Park character isn't surprising (especially when compared to the nonstarter of a "scandal" regarding Solyndra) but that Romney and Ryan are lying off their uptight asses about Obama "stealing" $716,000,000,000 from Medicare and the abovementioned completely worthless MSM allow them to continue advancing these lies as if their version of the facts is a valid alternative to the facts themselves.

    Postscript to our little sons and daughters of Edward R. Murrow: Willard made almost a cool half a million on Damon's Medicare fraud, while Bain made $7.4 million.

    Speaking of our completely worthless MSM, Digby's hardly making a revelation here but it bears repeating: The MSM's biggest failure these days, sez Digs, is their inability or unwillingness to push back against right wing nut jobs who're still hoarsely screaming about all of 10 cases of voter fraud going back about a decade. Yet, because of the mainstream media's perennial failure to expose this right wing lie that's being used to justify vote caging, over 80% of the American public actually believes voter fraud is a problem with nearly half believing it's a serious problem. And Republicans are even admitting that vote caging will help send Mitt Romney to the White House.

    Now, first consider the source. This is coming from Roger Stone, a pint-sized Republican scumbag and not-so-merry prankster who most infamously orchestrated the "Brooks Brothers" recount riot in Miami-Dade almost 12 years ago. And this allegation (and that's all it is at this point as Stone hasn't offered a shred of proof backing it up) tastes suspiciously like sour grapes. But keep in mind Stone is a Republican insider and has been for decades going back to Nixon's C.R.E.E.P. And The National Memo is currently running with a story that Ryan got on the GOP presidential ticket because last month the Koch Brothers bribed Mitt Romney with up to $100,000,000 in campaign contributions. Once again, consider the source. But if the MSM were worth its weight in falafel sticks, they'd be asking about this, you know, considering the MSM are infamous for digging up dirt on Democrats whether or not any exists.

    Since I militantly refuse to link to the Puffington Host ever again for a whole plantation's worth of reasons (specifically 315,000,000 of them), you'll have to go to Mormon Curtain to get to the original article about Helen Radkey's revelation that Paul Ryan's ancestors were on a Mormon list possibly designating them for posthumous baptism. Paul Ryan and his family are, as we all know, staunch Roman Catholics with roots in Ireland and this creepy necrophilic practice extends even into Mitt Romney's own family (Ann Romney's own atheist father, who loathed the Mormons with a passion, was nonetheless posthumously baptised by the cult).

    Speaking of cults, D r i f t g l a s s writes an open letter to The New Republic, using that cult classic "I Was a Teenage Libertarian" as a cultural jumping-off point.

    I thought he was too uptight for body art but Mitt Romney recently got a tattoo, according to Busted Knuckles.

    Jill Hussein at Brilliant at Breakfast says that Willard Rmoney's met his match in the Lying Olympics (aka the presidential election) and it's his running mate. Meanwhile, in non-Romney-Ryan news...

    In his latest "Reacharound Friday", the Rude One is considerably more generous than yours truly in assessing the actual musical talent of Pussy Riot, who are less punk rock musicians and more like performance artists posing as punkers. But, of course, as I myself had said the same day, it's not Pussy Riot's actual talent but what they represent that counts. And between their stunt in church last February and the gay pride protests taking place in Moscow, St. Petersburg and all over Russia, many dissidents are showing up Putin's totalitarian regime as just another tinpot dictatorship almost as repressive anything seen during Stalin. (As a personal aside, I don't know whether to give Charles Pierce a medal or a large-bore bullet for these execrable, rapid-fire puns on the Pussy Riot conviction.)

    Saturday, August 18, 2012

    Open Thread

    So, the GOP is partying like it's 2004 with the return of Swiftboating right wing lunatics accusing the president of spilling national security secrets, including one who'd proudly announced, "I'm a birther!"

    The more things change, as the man said, the more they stay the same. So what's on your mind? Any news items or thoughts you'd like to pass along while I'm researching my next magnum opus?

    Btw, I just passed the 500 follower threshold on Twitter. It may not seem like much to some of you but consider that it's been a long, hard slog for me during the 2 1/2 years or so I've been on it and keep in mind I've probably blocked over 100 right wing nut jobs and spammers. I'm also trying to follow less than half the people than I have following me. For me, it's not a popularity contest or validation. However, it's getting so you can't get taken seriously as a writer if you don't have Twitter and Facebook followings in the thousands. And I absolutely refuse to do Facebook again after my second bullshit suspension. Don't even get me started on Fakebook.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    The Riot of the Pussies

    Let the electronic Pamplona begin.

    The most entertaining thing about totalitarian dictatorships such as the United States and Russia is that they're so predictable and, because of the dominance of bone over actual brain matter, are tailor-made for the critical intelligencia, charging headfirst and leading with the chin like a ham-and-egg club fighter because the practitioners of oppression have a fabulously apolitical and illogical sensibility.

    They either have no political instincts or are fatally blase about the negative press that turns into support for those they seek to oppress. Oppression from these totalitarian regimes whether it be New York City or Oakland in the #OWS movement or post-Soviet Russia in the wake of two stupendously peckerheaded rulings handed down by their high courts is absolutely identical the world over.

    One of them was in the Russian High Court banning Gay Pride marches in Russia for the next century, as if that's going to happen. To paraphrase Andrew Jackson, "They've handed down their decision. now see them try to enforce it."

    But this isn't about the LGBT movement in Russia but Pussy Riot, an all girl punk rock band and performance artists who have somehow, without meaning or trying to, hilariously twisted up post-Soviet Russia into taking a stand defending religion. If you would take the time to read Mo Jo's constantly-updated article on the trial and verdict, you'll be treated to a load of belly laughs reminiscent of a hardly less oppressive time of Stalinist show trials, airbrushed photographs and razor blades coming with every encyclopedia so good Soviets could edit incriminating information on their own.

    And leave it to Vlad Putin's Russia to be so bone-headed as to turn a shitty punk rock band like Pussy Riot, a group that obviously peaked when they picked their cool name, into a world-wide phenomenon and cause célèbre. Leave it to oppressive and repressive police states like Putin's Russia to give these girls a global audience and, in the process, making them international celebrities and creating fans that are legion and show no signs of shrinking or stopping.

    Of course, when a brutal police state seeks to repress and oppress by elevating the previously obscure, if the international press or a domain such as Twitter or Facebook makes it viral, it's pretty much guaranteed that 110% of the time you make them martyrs, hence symbols. And if their stunt last February in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow (that had been destroyed by Stalin over 80 years ago) had been ignored, Russia would've gotten out of this clean and simple and Pussy Riot's fans could still be squeezed into a kvass kiosk.

    But no. Russia had to elevate these girls to international celebrity in a highly publicized Stalinesque show trial that involved fake bomb threats (it's notable the three defendants weren't evacuated from the court room with everyone else), suppression of supporting witness testimony and even cranes being used to remove protesters.

    Instead, we're seeing from Moscow to Melbourne and from St. Petersburg to San Francisco people wearing balaclavas, the signature ski masks worn by the band during their concerts and performance art. I doubt if any of their newest fans know the lyrics to any of their songs or even the titles. But that's not important. What's important to remember is that Pussy Riot is now symbolic of freedom of human expression and a new focal point for the denial and repression of human rights. Talent is irrelevant. Integrity isn't.

    Giving this show trial a nostalgic Theater of the Absurd ambience is the charge that sent these three girls to prison for the next two years: "Hooliganism." Incredible as it is to believe that there are still people besides John McCain and Scrabble players who use the word "hooligan", what's even more incredible is the realization that they intended on generating this kind of publicity as if they were going out of their way to anger and unite feminists, gays, lesbians and bisexuals (the girls were accused of disseminating "homosexual propaganda"), music lovers, human rights activists and celebrities from all over the music world.

    Because a show trial's efficacy is only as good as the press it generates. If no one cares, you forfeit your symbology. But when you get celebrities involved, well, then it becomes more fully real.
    Yes. Peter Gabriel has also written a letter of support, and British actor, author, director, and comedian Stephen Fry has taken up the fight through his Twitter account. According to Pussy Riot lawyer Mark Feygin, the Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis has also spoken to Madonna and texted Bono about the cause...

    Paul McCartney, The Who's Pete Townshend, Bjork, and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker have also voiced support of the imprisoned women, and pro-Pussy Riot rallies in more than two dozen international cities are mobilizing for marches on Friday. This week, literary magazine n+1 published Pussy Riot's closing arguments in English, and tonight electro-punk feminist musician JD Samson (Le Tigre, MEN) hosted a reading of them in New York City, featuring Chloe Sevigny, performance artist Karen Finley, and poet Eileen Myles, among others.

    Before the trial's closing arguments, Kathleen Hanna (formerly of Bikini Kill) argued for a global Pussy Riot movement. "Who knows this could be the start of a whole new thing," Hanna wrote on her site. "A whole new motivating source for a globally connected unapologetic punk feminist art and music scene."

    And the fact that Judge Marina Syrova is herself a woman will not tamp down any charges that the Russian state was acting in the interests of misogynism by imprisoning Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alekhina for two years.

    Bravo, Russia. Like that poor, stupid aging club fighter who still never learned to box and instead charges headfirst and leading with the chin, you did not fail to disappoint. This and your High Court's decision to pathetically attempt to ban gay activism in Russia for the next century makes our own right wing, reactionary High Court briefly look a little better by conspicuous relief in the lightning-fast court of international opinion.

    Quote of the Day

    "Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. ...I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta 'rage' in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions." - Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello in Rolling Stone

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Whiteboard University at South Carolina

    Today's subject: Medicare. Class dismissed.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Plug it, Sarah

    Now, far be it for me to defend this pro-corporate, neofascist administration of Barack Obama's. Personally, I've love to see few things more than Obama and his cohorts get frog-marched straight to the Hague to answer war crimes charges then stood up against a bullet hole-pocked brick wall. Honestly. Yes, I loathe, revile, detest and hate the Obama administration that Goddamned much. And the only thing I'd love to see more than Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine tarred and feathered at high noon on 4 Yawkey Way is for the Bush administration to follow the Obama administration to that brick wall.

    And while I don't blame Biden for what's going on in Afghanistan and our imperialistic adventurism elsewhere, I don't have any great love for Vice President Hair Plugs, either. After all, it was Biden who was one of the midwives of that abominable 2005 bankruptcy bill that couldn't've come from anywhere else but Delaware, his home state that has two industries: Toll booths and papers of incorporation. Biden also lost what few brownie points he might've scored with me when he brayed like a fucking jackass worse than Howard Dean ever did as Obama was about to sign that piece of shit Affordable Care Act.

    But what he said in Virginia, as cynical as it was, as much as it was typical election year posturing, was spot-on and people like Sarah Palin really need to shut the fuck up with the faux outrage.

    Biden said, very correctly, that the Republican Party would "put y'all back in chains." It was inflammatory and a cynical choice of words considering roughly half of the audience were African American southerners who were all too well aware of their history. It was a bludgeoning when perhaps a quick rapier-like thrust and parry was called for.

    But it doesn't make it any less true.

    Now the Romney campaign is squealing like a stuck boar that tried charging its prey. In all their faux outrage, Camp Willard has not given voters one reason to believe what Biden said was untrue. Sarah Palin, who's reeling and careening about in cyberspace like a sailor on his first leave in six months and about a pound of ecstasy, can't seem to believe that in less than four short years she's gone from being the porn star of the GOP and book and TV sensation to being a less intelligible version of Michelle Malkin and Pam Gellar.

    She seems to be genuinely furious at not just the Obama administration for GWB (Not George W. Bush but Governing While Black) but at the entire Republican Party that had abandoned her on the wayside like the Good Time Had By All that she ever really was and nothing more. From Tea Party Darling to mentally unbalanced tea leaf reader, Sarah Palin from her pigeon shit-stippled perch on Facebook is now calling for Biden to be kicked off the ticket, something that's never happened this close to an election.

    Yes, that's how unhinged she now is. It's as if she never really recovered from what Dick Cheney said about her recently. Cheney wasn't invited to the GOP convention in Tampa this month and doesn't want any part of it. His junior co-president George W. Bush probably isn't even aware there is a convention.

    But Sarah can't seem to fathom that for the second straight time, she won't be the keynote speaker, a dubious honor that'll be given to Chris Christie as soon as the GOP installs some hydraulic joists under the stage's floorboards. Not inviting Sarah Palin to the convention is the only evidence that the Republican Party has evolved and moved on.

    And it's obvious from her most recent Facebook dispatch that she's not supporting the Romney-Ryan ticket as much as she merely loathes the Obama administration that so far has done a pretty good job at completely ignoring the Banshee from Wasilla these past three and a half years. And if there's anything Sarah Palin can't stand, it's not being in the limelight.

    Ergo, her manufactured outrage notwithstanding, what Biden said is absolutely true. The Republican Party does want to put the rest of us in chains. This is the same GOP that wants to do away with Medicare and replace it with a voucher system that will be specifically engineered to not keep up with health care inflation. Think of what Ayn Rand heartthrob William Hickman did with poor little Marion Parker. After murdering and dismembering her, he then removed her organs from her torso. He then artificially kept her dead eyes open by pinning them, powdered her face and tried to make her look alive.

    At the exchange, he then took the ransom money from her father after holding a shotgun on him then tossed the girl's hollowed torso out of the car before taking off with the loot.

    This is precisely what Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to do with Medicare. They want to kill it, dismember it, hollow it out, replace it with something not even remotely resembling Medicare while brazenly calling it Medicare and throw it on the wayside for us to come upon.

    Newt Gingrich wants to turn your kids into janitors. Mike Lee of Utah wants to do away with child labor laws. People like Rand Paul want to do away with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and many other racist Republicans want to repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And those who are a little too diplomatic for that settle for disenfranchising voters of color by simply striking them from the voter rolls without good reason. They've giving themselves the power to choose their voters instead of vice versa by passing Voter ID laws under the laughable rubric of nonexistent "voter fraud."

    They side with the Chamber of Commerce and all its members in outsourcing manufacturing jobs and replacing a small fraction of them with retail gigs at Wal-Mart selling the Chinese shit we used to make.

    Yes, the Republican Party loathes you if you don't belong to the 1%. 40 acres and a mule would be a step up from what the GOP wants to give you. And, while Biden could've been saying this about the GOP over the last three and a half years and was deliberately held back as election year ammunition, it doesn't make it any less true.

    Take a cue from Dick Cheney. Go back to Wasilla and go fishing.

    KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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