Thursday, November 29, 2012

American Zen on CreateSpace

     I'm sorry I haven't been screaming my fool head off of late on matters political and social. I've been busy setting up my dedicated book blog Kindle in the Wind, reuploading a lot of files on my new Scribd account. And for the last 24 hours or so, in between my neverending job search, I was busy reformatting, uploading, designing and proofing the Create Space edition of American Zen. The templates they give you largely suck and doesn't allow me to use the cover done by my soul sister Alicia Morgan two and a half years ago but when CreateSpace offers to give you a physical copy of your book as a freebie, you don't say no.
     The cover above is what I decided to run with for now until such time I can afford to pay CreateSpace's cover art team to redo it according to my exact specifications (click on the cover for a full-scale image). American Zen was originally a 421 page Word file but on account of the reformatting and the trim size I'd chosen, I had to narrow the gutter and outside margins so you'd think the page count would be larger. But on account of the limited options for trim size, I had to go with a Reader's Digest-sized 7x10 inches, meaning each full page has 43 lines instead of the standard 32. This means American Zen is now at a trimmer 358 pages.
     It goes for $5.14, just a few cents more than the Kindle version ($4.99) but the shipping and handling is over three bucks, meaning a copy of American Zen goes for $8.57, the lowest price they would allow me to set. The royalty rate, for POD publishing, is a joke, at about 20%. But I'd ordered a physical copy for myself after I'd proofed the galley and I'll be posting a picture of the physical book when it arrives next month.
     Please give it a looksee (I'm transferring the CreateSpace edition to Kindle as I write this but the first few chapters of the Kindle version can be downloaded for free and you don't even need a Kindle. Just click on the image on its product page.).
     Interesting trivia: When the template I'd chosen demanded an author photo, I panicked. It would've looked borderline antisocial if I'd gone with an avatar of something else like I do on Twitter and elsewhere. But since I look every nanosecond my age and am now about as photogenic as southern roadkill, I didn't know what to do until Mrs. JP sent me from her cell phone a picture she'd taken of me at the Stewart/Colbert Fear Rally in Washington DC two years ago.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm Back on Scribd

I wasn't too impressed with them the first time.

They're too capricious for my liking and they're already robbing me of hits, give me a very small selection of self-identified authors (23) to follow, the Featured section is almost entirely devoted to bestselling authors with literary agents and real book contracts, leaving the independent authors like me to twist in the wind and only about half my 14 uploads are included in the Most Recent categories despite my using the proper tags. Their readcast app is a joke. Plus, they're getting ruined with ads.

In other words, Scribd hasn't changed a single bit since I left them last year. But if my writing career is going to gain any traction, I have to start expanding my network without Facebook, which I will absolutely never go back to (especially since Zuckerberg's bean counters have gone to a pay-to-play system after their IPO sank like a lead balloon). So far, through merciless pimping on both my Twitter accounts, I've managed to cobble together just over 1300 reads in about 48 hours without, miraculously, attracting a single follower. The upload below, the prologue for The Puppet Children, the third installment in the Joe Roman trilogy, seems to be getting the most play. Take a look at it, courtesy of the embed code I used. If you're on Scribd, consider following me.

PS In case you're wondering why I'm putting this up here on my political blog instead of my dedicated book blog, Kindle in the Wind, it's because Blogger can't seem to get their shit in one sock. Not all their templates support this embed code and one of them is the template I'm using for KITW. (Yeah, I know the print is tiny. This is just for show purposes, Just click on the link at the top to go to my Scribd page.)

The Puppet Children Prologue

Friday, November 23, 2012

We Create Our Own Reality

     We won't finally get on the road back to reality until Karl Rove is made the manager of the bargain bin at a Houston K-Mart offering .99¢ discounted books by the likes of Sarah Palin, Brad Thor and Pam Gellar before they get sent to their publishers' shredders.
     If on Super Tuesday 2012 the American public got fed up with the Republican Party's constant lies, scandals, racism, misogyny, ignorance, hostility and overall dysfunction and policies that are more unpopular than an outbreak of AIDS on Fire Island, then why haven't we similarly gotten fed up with the mainstream media and tanked subscriptions, Nielson and Arbitron ratings?
     The return on the ongoing investments the MSM make on the likes of Karl Rove, who had gotten it consistently wrong about 2006, 2008 and most of all 2012 and Dick Morris, who's the anti-Nostradamus, would never fly outside the reality bubble in which the Professional Right (or Professional Wrong, depending on your fidelity to the truth) comfortably lives and into which they wind up dragging a good percentage of us.
     In the real world, a consultant with a track record as abysmal as Rove's and Morris' would, over a period of a few years, eventually not get contracted to provide services, especially if they invariably made their benefactors and erstwhile employers look silly. In the real world, if you don't do your job correctly and show a stunning lack of ignorance in the commission of your duties, you get fired, plain and simple.
     But this is not the real world. We live a Bizarro World in which popular incumbents and candidates, we're told even up until hours before the polls close, will lose to an unspecified whackjob who turns out be to less appealing and electable than a dead gerbil.
     To be sure, not all of them are delusional. Republicans crunch poll numbers just like the Democrats and a canny, observant pundit (such as Nate Silver) can detect trends and see minute but telling shifts in campaign strategies such as Mitt Romney pulling millions of dollars of ads from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (all states he lost) and diverting the funds to other states in which he thought he had a chance.
     But what does a candidate or incumbent do if the pollsters are wrong such as Gallup's and Rasmussen's now-infamous pratfalls just before Election Day? And these men and women who wear expensive business suits on television, these stupendously accomplished and erudite experts who've worked for presidential administrations, why they can't possibly be wrong! They must know something we don't!
     At least that's the image and the myth that the MSM advances and everything depends upon this manufactured credibility and consensus. Just as war profiteers and other corporations create markets that didn't exist only to corner those markets when demand is artificially created, so the MSM, their tin-plated pundits and the corporate sponsors they all serve literally manufacture truth. As someone (almost indisputably Karl Rove) once told Ron Suskind in 2004, "we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."
     That may be de rigueur and uncomfortably accepted by the proletariat in presidential policy-making in which the "actors" and "architects" are gone anywhere from one to eight years. But it's fatal, or one would think fatal, for a mainstream media that's around for longer than that, often decades. There was a reason why Walter Cronkite was "the most trusted man in America", a mantle that's never been reasonably assumed by anyone that's come along since his retirement from CBS's main news desk over three decades ago.
     Read my lips: We need to stop PR welfare. We need to stop paying pill-popping child molester Rush Limbaugh tens of millions of dollars a year even while his employer, Clear Channel, lays off hundreds so they can keep covering his checks so he can lose over 130 sponsors and squirt diarrhea at women, liberals who plainly know more than him and minorities.
     And we need to stop parading on television so-called experts and pundits who are plainly subverting the electoral process to exclusively benefit Republican psychopaths who wind up getting voted out after one term. Dick Morris, to name just one egregious example, was not only wrong about Mitt Romney, he was very wrong, predicting that Romney would get well over 300 electoral votes (even the most slanted and hopeful polls by the likes of Rasmussen "showed" Romney ahead of the president by one point going into Election Day) and win by the landslide that the president won by in the Electoral College.
     But the MSM will never learn anything and we'll see the likes of Rove and Morris back on TV in another three or four years even as the GOP harvests another bumper crop of delusional right wing assclowns for our collective, condescending amusement, predicting that one of them will win the White House and that they'll take the Senate.

     Because manufacturing a neck-and-neck horse race when a landslide will surely occur, instead, and lying to the American public in order to sell commercial time at the highest possible rates is certainly more important than listening to Nate Silver.

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

Once again, courtesy of a little help from Uncle Sam, Mrs. JP and kittie and I had a great Thanksgiving. What you see from yesterday is a 2 1/2 pound pork loin, cooked at 350 for 50 minutes with cherry preserves, homemade mashed potatoes, Charlene's cheesy potatoes (the recipe of the wife of one of the members of the Tractors), butternut squash, sweet corn, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. In the glasses was an inexpensive ($15) but very good Riesling white wine. Afterwards, we enjoyed a pumpkin pie with Cool Whip. As usual, a good time was had by all.

So, how was your Thanksgiving and what did you have?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2008

            Dateline: Provincetown, Massachusetts, November 27, 2008
            Just weeks ago, Barack Obama had been elected the 44th president of the United States, yet liberal journalist Mike Flannigan is the only political pundit in America not writing about it. In fact, while his colleagues are exhausting every minutia of the historic election, Mike takes an ill-advised and deeply unpopular leave of absence from his magazine to go on an epic road trip up and down the upper east coast. Why?
            What was supposed to be an overnight trip began when he gets a cryptic email from his childhood friend, former bandmate and one-time lover Josiah (JoJo) Vandermeer. It's the first time he hears from him in years and the email reads only, "Let's get the guys together." Fearing the worst, Mike leaves his family and tells his editor-in-chief Ari Goldstein to see his old friend and perhaps reunite with his old band, the Immortals. There are questions surrounding the promising hard rock band's abrupt breakup back in 1978 that never sat well with the other band members.
            But while the group of middle-aged men get some answers and some of their old musical mojo back, Jo Jo suddenly dies on the road. This excerpt from chapter 44 of American Zen starts at Jo Jo's grave after the funeral and his husband, Jeremy Fleming, fearing being alone for the first time in years, invites Mike, Billy and Rob to share Thanksgiving dinner with him. During this chapter, Mike realizes what he should be grateful for and that, despite pressure from his editor and wife and kids to come home during a perpetually extended sabbatical, he actually has more to be thankful for than the other three men who have suffered even more devastating losses. They sit down to eat a dinner that was prepped by Jo Jo just days before his death, his final gift to his husband and friends.

            The service was short and uneventful, although far from forgettable. Rob and I took photos with our cell phones and I emailed one to Doris with a brief expression of love and a promise to be home by tonight.
            My heart sank with Jo Jo as they lowered him into the rectangular grave. The three of us hung back, allowing Jeremy to throw the first handful of dirt onto the coffin lid six feet below. As I threw my own in, I realized with a start that the minute we turned our backs, Jo Jo would be swallowed up by the earth, hardly a trace of his existence allowed to remain besides our fragile living memory.
            As we were wiping dirt from our hands, Jeremy asked us at graveside, “I think it would be very nice if you were to join me for dinner. There won’t be a reception because I didn’t want to have one and, besides, it’s Thanksgiving. But I’d be honored if you would join me.”
            It suddenly occurred to me that Jo Jo had prepared dinner just before we left for New York State. “No, the honor would be all ours,” I said, knowing the other guys would feel the same way.

            Back in the apartment, we immediately shed our jackets and inhaled the rich aroma of the turkey. The only thing that Jeremy had to do was pop the bird in the oven just before we went to the funeral home. Jo Jo had done all the prep work.
            Jeremy slipped on an oven mitt, pulled down the oven door and tore off a piece of turkey skin. It crunched lightly in his mouth. “Mm, perfect. I’m famished. I hope you guys are, too,” he said as he turned off the oven.
            Surprisingly, I was, despite my little accident at the funeral home garage. Remembering that, I decided to brush my teeth after I washed my hands for dinner.
            Rob and Billy were only too happy to help Jeremy clear and set the table. After all, what else did these men have but each other? Rob’s marriage hit an iceberg, Billy I’m sure lived totally alone and Jeremy just buried his husband. And me…
            And me?
            Epiphany sometimes sneaks up on you and taps you on the shoulder, clearing its throat and politely saying, “Uh, excuse me?” And sometimes it hits you from behind like a mugger with a blackjack (or a suicidal ex-SEAL), giving no regard for timing or the rudeness of its appearance. This moment was one of the latter.
            Yes, what about me? Why did I have to be here? Well, respect for Jo Jo and his efforts would be a good reason but why was I here instead of hightailing it home to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my own family? That was the point.
            I didn’t have to be here. It was a lesson, a fact that I should’ve always taken for granted. I didn’t have to be here. It was purely a matter of choice because I wanted to show Jeremy and Jo Jo the proper respect, because I didn’t want him to be alone. I didn’t want Rob to be alone. I didn’t want Billy to be alone. I had a choice. They didn’t.
            I had a choice because I really did have a loving, supportive, compassionate wife and three kids anxious about my absence. I had a good career doing something I loved to do. I was the luckiest bastard among all of us, if not the luckiest bastard on earth. I didn’t have to be here. I wasn’t that desperate to stave off loneliness.
            Jeremy seemed like a changed man. Obviously, some of it was an act, a conscious, maybe a desperate attempt to liven up the place, to establish some holiday spirit into the apartment. Far from being the merry widower, now that he was finally freed of over 90 days of crushing fear and oppression fretting and worrying over Jo Jo, he could almost be said to have a spring in his step as he hustled back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room table with steaming chafing dishes of food.
            He seemed to bow then quickly threw his head back, gathering with his hands his glistening, bouncy mass of brown hair and pulling it back into a perfect high and tight ponytail very much like the one Jo Jo wore when he was doing the prep work. He then wiped the sweat off his brow with his linen napkin before announcing, “We have food, gentlemen!” Billy loudly clapped his hands together and was first at the table, Rob just a half step behind. I wasn’t sure if they knew that Jo Jo had done all the prep work.
            Jeremy sat to the right of me and took my right hand as he bowed his head. I didn’t realize that he was into religion. He didn’t even go to the church with us last Sunday but he wanted to say grace, so I took Billy’s right hand in my left and so forth and we bowed our heads, our eight hands linked.
            “I think we all ought to thank Jo Jo for giving us this delicious food that we’re all about to receive. He did all the work. All I did was throw the turkey in the oven and pray I wouldn’t burn it.” He smiled and continued. “And this dinner, made with his own two hands, is in a way a perfect illustration of the kind of life he led. He was always thinking about others first until he was finally forced to think of himself.
            “But even then, I’d also like to think that, in his rare moment of selfishness, if you can call it that, we all benefited from the journey that we’d been privileged to share with him. We all benefited enormously from having known and loved him and that’s what I’m grateful for.” “Amen,” he added as an afterthought. I squeezed Jeremy’s left hand and smiled. He really said it for all of us.
            “Now, who wants dark meat and who wants light meat?”

            Over the nearly four and a half years that Pottersville's been up, my personal as well as vocational life has been turned upside down and no doubt some erstwhile readers looking for invariable political content were turned off by the occasional personal revelations in this forum. But for you who've stayed behind and even helped us through trying times that never seem to conclude, I'm more grateful for you sticking with me, and us, through them. I'm most grateful for having Mrs. JP and Popeye our surly cat to share a fourth Thanksgiving and what will be a fourth Christmas. But my readers and friends who've stayed my manically tacking course come a close second.
            Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and please support your local Wal-Mart workers who are braving the cold and the loss of their jobs to protest Black Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Halfwits on Parade

Too busy job-hunting and making last minute preparations for Thanksgiving to post anything substantial requiring research and triple-sourcing but it bears repeating that John McCain, as if he already wasn't, is now America's official "Get Off My Lawn" old man. Clint Eastwood, no doubt, is breathing an easy sigh of relief. Yelling at an empty stool is one thing but McCain is yelling at non-existent Secretary of State nominees the president hasn't even made, yet. Before this, McCain conducted a clown show with Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham demanding intelligence on Benghazi while the administration was briefing the select subcommittee on... Benghazi. Then McCain has a hissy fit with a reporter afterwards who asked him why he wasn't at the briefing.

I'm not sure liberal pundits are on the right track by calling McCain on racism and misogynism in his pre-emptive stance against UN Ambassador Susan Rice and that it's largely based on Dr. Rice not ascribing Benghazi to terrorism when she was on Meet the Press on September 16th and for going out with the talking points given to her by the administration. That's what an administration official does: March out with the president's talking points, right or wrong, and doing their utmost to advance the administration's every agenda pertinent to that official's job title. This doesn't nor should necessarily re-invoke the GOP's obvious war on women but at the very least it tells us this:

McCain never got beyond his humiliating defeat by Barack Obama in the 2008 election and he largely has himself to blame for this. He has no one but himself to blame because, without vetting her, McCain scrambled his own campaign to vet Sarah Palin before the press could get to Alaska. He'd nominated a racist, secessionist, witch-hunting half term halfwit whose biggest claim to fame was starring in a failed reality show and getting millions for two books she didn't even write.

Aside from Romney's delayed diatribe about Obama winning the election with phones, condoms and other gifts, Obama's latest Republican victim has for the most part faded back into the tall grass. McCain never moved on after 2008 just as Allen West took forever to finally concede his own defeat to Patrick Murphy in FL-18.

Despite being the most ferociously hateful, racist, Dominionist, misogynistic, stupidest and most willfully uninformed faction in human history since the Spanish Inquisition, the perennially unpopular Republican Party that would've stood zero chance of retaining the House were it not for some illegal gerrymandering (45 new Democrats got elected to the House) still cannot understand the concept of losing a fair and open election.

This unjustified Republican sense of entitlement harbors at its very core a spiteful contempt toward the Democratic process of our Republic, a process and set of Constitutional freedoms countless millions of men died to vouchsafe. But also at the core of this sense of entitlement is a bewilderment as to why their principles are increasingly unpopular in a nation that's every-so-slowly wrenching Overton's Window back to the left. And they almost literally spit in the eye of anyone who disagrees with them and the facts and their own hypocrisy be Goddamned.

Mitt Romney was "shellshocked" over the election. Paul Ryan was "stunned." Alan West simply decided to ignore the facts and pretend as if he won and still hasn't made a public concession.

Both parties need a major paradigm shift in their strategies if they're going to get even 25% more of the electorate to even trust them. But that especially holds true for a Republican Party that always finds it easier to spit in the eyes of the young, the sick and destitute, women and those who'd already long ago given up on the GOP as having any other substantial strategy and agenda other than "Repeal!", "Impeach!" and "No!"

And this hoarse screaming by McCain against a perfectly qualified non-nominee to head up Foggy Bottom in Dr. Susan Rice, a woman who could easily be looked at as the anti-Palin, shows just how completely bereft the GOP is beyond their tired, moth-eaten mantra of lowering taxes for those least deserving of them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sad Mitt Romney

This is a picture taken by a Redditor in La Jolla, CA of Mitt Romney (gasp!) pumping his own gas. My guess was that it was taken on a Sunday, a day when even uptight right wing nut jobs who fuck their wives in three piece business suits get to dress down. And, even if you're Mitt Romney, a man of 1% of the people, if you pull into a self-serve gas station, you're pumping your own gas, period.

But this is so starkly at odds with the sleek, polished, elitist, out-of-touch asshole that Republicans frantically told us was the answer to Obama (before then eating him alive) that it's turning into a hot meme.

Here's my other one:

This is better than the "Sad Keanu Reeves" meme.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Americans Won't Embrace Palestine

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

If one were to listen to long-discredited and worthless MSM organs such as the NY Times, the "conflict" between Israel and Palestine in Gaza is an evenly-matched battle of wills, if not armaments, with either claiming an equivalent moral superiority. What the Times and the entire American mainstream media fail to recognize is the full scope of the David vs Goliath fight. In this case, David is now Palestine and he stands no chance of winning this latest round of hostilities without some military, paramilitary and political backing from the rest of the Muslim world (such as Egypt).

But the MSM's blind spot regarding Israel's moral putrescence, one seemingly predicated entirely on a pre-apocalyptic mindset going back to the Holocaust if not before, is enabled by a mirror dysfunction on the part of the American people and that's recognizing Palestine's right to exist, one that's no less valid than Israel's or any other sovereign state.

Even liberals and other sympathizers in America (and this includes liberal, secular Jews, who have been given nearly exclusive rights to write about Israel and its various atrocities as if gentiles aren't qualified to do so) seem reluctant to fully embrace Palestine and to give it full-throated support. The primary reason, obviously, is the terrorist angle. In 2006, Palestinians elected to a majority level the militant group Hamas, which to a lesser degree than Israel (owing to it being outgunned) also has blood on its hands. In doing so, Palestinians, weary and impatient of the more conciliatory Fatah political faction, decided to vote in the less compromising and patient Hamas. The undiplomatic Bush administration, typically, refused to recognize the legitimacy of Hamas's majority in the Palestinian parliament.

But what's lost on the American MSM, and a majority of Americans is why Palestinians, who've seen their borders erode consistently since 1967 without even being given the option of moving out of their ancestral homeland (the Israeli embargo has been in place for five years now and showing no signs of letting up), thought their chances of recognized sovereignty and lasting peace would be better allying themselves with terrorists than Israel. That is, one would think, very telling.

Into this Schrödinger's cat scenario tiptoes other Arab and Muslim factions such as the cautious Muslim Brotherhood, of whom Mohamed Morsi , the new Egyptian president, is or was a part. There's hope in the Gaza region that the Arab Spring from a year and a half ago will give Hamas and Palestine the political if not diplomatic clout it's lacked for decades. That remains to be seen but one thing is clear: They can expect no help from the Obama administration, which was given another four years to ignore Palestine's plight by liberals and independents who, as with Palestinians and Hamas, were more afraid of a Romney administration than the incumbent one that gave us the NDAA and a reauthorizaton of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Barack "Hope and Change" Obama said just yesterday,
“There is no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on from outside its borders. We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend its borders.”
In doing so, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president was merely toeing the line drawn by Israel and faithfully toed by every single President since Truman who'd either cheered on or looked the other way even when Israel committed war crimes against the United States. At the very least, our $3,000,000,000 in annual aid to Israel and selling them war planes and other WMDs makes us a target for every radical Muslim faction on the planet while every administration seems bewildered as to why.

But Obama, quite possibly without knowing it, is in precisely the same position with the Israelis as he is with the Republican Party: No matter what he does for the Israelis and no matter how many Palestinian deaths he ignores, the Israelis, coddled by unconditional support in the 64 years of their existence, will never have enough monetary, political or diplomatic support.

The numbers, however, are clear (the MSM, at least, does body counts): According to the Palestinian health ministry, in the last four days more Palestinian children (20) have been killed than Israelis of all ages in the last four years. One recent rocket attack alone flattened a house, killing 11 Palestinians. After making a laughable assertion that the strikes were "surgical" in nature, Israel recently has abandoned all pretense of humanity and has since widened their bombing raid to include offices where journalists work. Not only do they want to send Gaza back to the Stone Age, they're also trying to intimidate the Arab press out of documenting their war crimes.

Israel is the only acknowledged super power in the Middle East and the only owner of a nuclear arsenal that won't avail themselves of the confidence of having one. Israel comes off as looking like a scared and paranoid mugger with a .357 magnum in one hand and a Casull .454 in the other. No ordinance is ever enough and all they know is, they're not going back to prison. In the real world, however, such a paranoid and unstable criminal would never be tolerated in society so it makes little sense for the United States and its NATO fig leaf to engage in needless regime change adventurism in Iraq, Libya and other nations while allowing Israel to bring the planet closer to World War III.

It's time to stop giving Israel unconditional deference because of the Holocaust. Many nations and other religions had been persecuted against over the whole bloody skein of human history and Israel does not have the market cornered on genocide. The Obama administration is utterly worthless if you're a Palestinian or sympathizer (While running for president over four years ago, Obama even renewed our financial support, pledging Israel $30,000,000,000 in military aid over the next decade.). About the closest Obama has come to decrying the violence in the region was to say it would push the prospects for peace "way into the future." (Violence postpones peace? Thanks, President Obvious, even though it's just as obvious you were speaking of Hamas's rockets and not Israel's.)

At the risk of oversimplifying what is obviously a very complex set of political problems in the Gaza strip, the only path forward is to break off diplomatic relations with Israel, a nation that drunkenly and sneeringly holds the United States in absolute contempt and thinks, rightly, that it can dictate United States Middle East policy while boasting of derailing the Oslo Peace process (the same city where Barack Obama accepted his highly inappropriate Peace Prize.). We need to stop listening to AIPAC and especially to the Likud lunatics who make the majority. We also need to stop giving Israel three billion a year of taxpayer money and selling them warplanes to kill innocents.

Of course, that requires joint approval from both the legislative and executive branches and that's simply never going to happen even if every Republican was voted out of office.

But disavowing Israel's apocalyptic and militaristic agenda needs to go hand in hand with recognizing Palestine's right to exist. Israel's unctuous and risible assurances that they'll stand down if Hamas does first ring hollow while Palestinians bury innocent men, women and children by the scores in their shrinking homeland. It's not enough to recognize that Palestine's own right to exist is just as valid as Israel's. We also need to come to grips with the screamingly obvious fact that Israel is a terrorist state only with American political support, much more firepower, paychecks and pensions. And, like al Qaeda and other terrorist entities, they also hide behind their own civilian population.

Zionism, like democracy, is a failing experiment that has only succeeded in turning Israel and the United States, respectively, into that which we'd sought to distinguish ourselves.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I've Fucking Had It

Between food shopping, laundry, neverending auto maintenance, job searching and setting up and contributing to my dedicated book blog, Kindle in the Wind, you may've noticed I've had little time, energy or inclination to weigh in much on the top trending news topics over the past week. Chiefest among these news items designed to distract us from the real issues such as global warming, gun control and the imminent debt ceiling showdown is where Petraeus's prick has been.

I'm not qualified to pontificate on that particular news item, which includes threatening emails from one paramour to another presumed one, shirtless FBI agents, the Bureau knowing about this since last summer and Glenn Beck trying to claim that President Obama personally inserted the four star flagpole into Paula Broadwell's snatch for partisan gain. This is simply because I have not delved into this particular deepening rabbit hole beyond what the NY Times says in their cover story blurbs in my inbox and jokes on Twitter. It's been ascertained that national security was not in danger and the former CIA Director's peccadillos is, like the Clinton/Monica thingie, strictly a family affair.

However, in the fag ends of spare time I've had of late, I couldn't help but notice the Republican Party and their no-neck surrogates in Deliveranceville have insisted on covering themselves with more glory since the election and alienating more voters and potential voters and I've fucking had it with them. I do not feel the need to be civil with them, so fuck them and their "another tolerant liberal" bullshit on Twitter the moment I counterpunch.

Let's start with Allen fucking West, that Frankenstein-headed piece of shit in Florida's 18th district. West lost, plain and simple but the $8,000,000 man (more was spent on his campaign than any other House candidate except for Boehner and Bachmann) apparently has well-placed friends. It's now coming out that 799 votes went missing (667 of them, natch, belonging to Murphy) and Florida election officials are claiming that well over 2000 votes, most of them Murphy votes, were supposedly counted twice, meaning Murphy's lead is evaporating by the day. Meanwhile, a week after the election, Allen West has continued putting out anti-Murphy attack ads on his official YouTube channel. West has now turned himself into Will Ferrell SNL character Mack North who continued putting out attack ads on his opponent even after the election. The difference, of course, is that Ferrell's character actually won.

Sadly, this is merely typical of the same old, democracy-loathing right wing nut jobs to which we've been subjected this month. He Who Shall Not Be Named himself recently blew a chance to escape one of the worst and most humiliating landslides ever and to come off looking like a gracious loser. Instead, after an admirable self portrait of grace and deportment, he then painted over it a masterpiece of wingnuttery with his own feces by claiming Obama won because of all the gifts he'd lavished on the very same people who loathe him the most: Women, youth and minorities (Here are some hashtags to use on Twitter: #phantomphones #cannedgoods, etc).

Please go away. Losing presidential candidates should be neither seen nor heard. Even the GOP wants you to shut the fuck up and avoids you like the political fungus you are.

Then there are the rank and vile right wing bloggers and Twitter twits who haven't been completely driven back into the shadows since election night and are calling for the President to be assassinated and are screaming about faux county voter turnouts larger than the electorate.

Then there are the pollsters such as these idiots who claimed Scott Brown was beating Elizabeth Warren by a point the day before election day only to get trounced by 8 points. These are largely the same people who, in the interests of manufacturing a neck-and-neck horse race for the corporate MSM, kept insisting up until two hours and 16 minutes before the polls closed the Romney/Obama race was too close to call.

This, as we all now know, is the actual neck-and-neck final result. Not surprisingly, they're remaining mum about their Dick Morris-class prognosticating, as if a margin of error of 30-40% is a legitimate occupational hazard.

Then there was Rush Limbaugh who went to bed on Election Night on fine French linen in his multi-million dollar Florida mansion thinking "we'd lost the country." This further led Rushbo to sarcastically whine on his bile delivery system radio show that the GOP is blaming him for Romney losing the election. Obviously, it hasn't occurred to these human ostriches that Romney lost the election because he's simply unelectable and won his only race in 2002 because he was running against little more than token opposition from the Democrats. The man is about as popular as a mutant yeast infection at Lilith Fair, plain and simple.

It's people such as this that make my brain hurt and make me wonder for the umpteenth time if I was wise to get into this thankless mug's game called political blogging. It ought to be apparent to all who've done this for more than a year that simply having the facts on your side and being passionate and eloquent in your arguments never puts a dent in the impenetrable stupidity of right wingers who've been conditioned to believe that the liberalism that gave them Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unions, safer work environments, bridges, highways, air, water and pharmaceuticals, represents everything that is wrong with their lives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

And Now, a Word From Mike Flannigan

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari and Welcome Back to Pottersville.)

It hasn't been decided yet whether I'm a figment of Robert Crawford's imagination or his alter ego or vice versa. Either way, it could safely be said that I'm the author of American Zen, the story of an epic road trip that took place during a week of my and my friends' lives exactly four years ago. As I'd subsequently described our trip up and down the northern eastern seaboard across four different states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York), it was like a "Flomax/Viagra/Grecian Formula commercial gone hideously over budget."

And, starting the summer the first draft was completed (2008), I'd made Robert's acquaintance and began blogging part time at Pottersville starting with my thoughts on the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Robert (better known to you as Jurassicpork) figured, as long as my editor in chief Ari Goldstein and the liberal magazine that for legal reasons can't be named sent me to both cities on someone else's dime, he'd asked me to weigh in with some impressions. I don't like the idea of writing for nothing (One of my few personal axioms is "Pay the f**king writer!") but in JP's case I'd decided to make an exception.

Then he asked me to write something for his new blog, Kindle in the Wind, one dedicated exclusively to his writing and the art of writing in general. If I was more like Billy Frazee, my old drummer, I would've told him to take a long walk off a short pier and not to push it. Fortunately for JP, I'm not like Billy and I promised to get something off to him in the next few days. "What do you want me to write?" I'd asked him. JP said, "Just be yourself and tell whoever's out there about the 2008 trip and your appearance in my other novels."

So that seems like a logical place to start.

Yeah, to the dozen or few initiated who'd actually bought American Zen, it may come as a bit of a surprise to you that I don't just appear in that particular book but several. Whenever Rob needs an authoritative journalist figure to handle backstory, exposition or whatever, he usually turns to me (and, in one notable instance, my EIC Ari Goldstein in an upcoming novel). Not including American Zen and the sequel, American Zen II: Rock of Ages (begun years before that execrable Tom Cruise movie), I've actually appeared either in print or over the telephone in three other of Robert's novels.

His other Kindle novel, The Toy Cop, you know about. In the older drafts, I didn't actually make an appearance until Robert was doing the final revision and thought it would be a good idea to write an Op-ed I'd "written" for the New York Times about capital punishment. Since I have some small fame (alright, infamy would be more the word), I agreed to let JP use my name for the sake of authenticity and, for someone who isn't a real journalist, he did a pretty creditable job in not only penning a fictional article but even in coming close to reproducing my voice. I thought that would be the extent of my involvement with his novels.

But then JP got an idea and he ran it by me a couple of years ago. He began by asking me, "Mike, have you read any Isaac Asimov?" I told him I had, at least back in my callow youth that stubbornly refused to end until I hit 35-40. Robert reminded me that toward the last decade or so of his life when he was writing faster and faster, Asimov attempted to tie together his three great series, the Robot, Empire and Foundation novels, into one gigantic cycle. One way to keep all those novels and short stories in the same universe was to use common characters and reference historical events of one series that would actually impact, however incrementally, on others.

I immediately saw, sort of, what he was getting at. His idea was to use me in several series that he's planning, which would be the proposed American Zen series, The Toy Cop (he'd begun a sequel over ten years ago before the first one was even finished) and his new series (a trilogy of novels that are each well underway) of a Russian/American ex cop named Joe Roman. That way, all the protagonists, through me, would inhabit a common universe and his dream was to one day, if his writing career ever took off (are we listening, lit agents?), to write one epic adventure involving yours truly, Penny "The Toy Cop" Gallagher and that semi-benevolent psychopath known as Joe Roman.

I said, "Sure, go for it. You can't sully my reputation any more than I and the sociopaths in the Republican Party already have," and the rest is becoming history.

With money worries and the pressure of finding that ever-elusive job after nearly four years of unemployment, plus all those other duties we all have to meet to sustain human life, it can't be easy for poor Rob and I can only imagine what he's going through just maintaining his household and keeping body and soul together, let alone cobbling together a massive cycle of novels in his spare time (not to mention his noted work at Pottersville).

Although it takes six weeks to two months for him to get from Amazon his piddling royalties (if at all. He can't publicize them on Amazon's website because the good sons and daughters of Jeff Bezos effectively muzzled Rob for life almost a year and a half ago because he tried to sell his Kindle novels on the biggest book selling site on earth. Go figure how that's a violation of their TOS), you'd be helping out my buddy Rob and would certainly boost his always flagging self-esteem if you would buy either novel (both of which providing links to his product pages) and to start frequenting this fledgling blog and his dedicated Twitter account.

Because we writers have to stick together and it can't be said that a lot of established writers have gone out of their way to help out poor ole JP, who's a talented scribe (and a formerly agented one in a slightly less competitive and media-consolidated day and age) in his own right.

I Have a New Blog

I decided to fully immerse myself in the 21st century and dedicate a blog to my two ebooks, American Zen (the best thing I ever wrote) and The Toy Cop (which took me a full 14 years to write and rewrite), as well as my upcoming titles. It's called Kindle in the Wind and it has a companion Twitter account of the same name. Dedicating whole blogs, FB walls and Twitter accounts to single books or a writer's entire canon seems to be the way to go these days or what moron literary agents love to call, "a marketing platform." I'm a writer, not a fucking salesman or publicity agent but for now, at least, I'll get with the program and see where it leads me.

So please bookmark my new site, become a follower, maybe get an RSS feed and stay tuned for future posts that'll include excerpts from AZ, TTC and other upcoming titles such as my kickass Joe Roman trilogy, as well as writer-related articles. I'll also be building the blogroll once I get a feel for the new template I'm using.

Monday, November 12, 2012

There's No Scumbag Like a Pizza Scumbag

I know for a fact Schnatter did all this because Mrs. JP's niece has worked for this piece of shit for six years now and he cut her pay a couple of weeks before the election. Other employees are coming out on Facebook and elsewhere telling the same story. So do yourself and your cardiovascular system a favor and boycott this asshole and his shitty pizza. If you absolutely need pizza, buy local, not corporate.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Democracy Isn't For Wimps

You don't hear me crying, weeping in sackcloth and ashes, gnashing my teeth as if I just had most of my family wiped out in an American mortar strike.

Look, you and I have one thing in common: We didn't vote for Obama. I'd like to think my opposition to Obama getting re-elected and not doing a single blessed thing toward helping him achieve that end is based on the facts and not a writhing nest of paranoid conspiracy theories regarding Kenya and madrassas and Communist ideologies.

But, like John Wayne said about John F. Kennedy after the 1960 election, my position is, "I didn't vote for him but he's my president and I hope he does a good job." I'm not adopting Rush Limbaugh's hateful, seditious message four years ago when he flat-out said, "I hope he fails." I'm not stubbornly refusing to accept reality and trying to drown out the vox populi by screaming, "He's not my president!" Hoping for the president to fail is hoping that America fails. I cannot possibly put it any plainer than that.

Having said that, if you wingnuts don't like the way the elections panned out last Tuesday, if you hold in such contempt the electoral process, please get the fuck out of our country so those of us who still want to help America get out of the ditch into which the Bush administration had driven us can and will.

Whining about greedy, bloated billionaires not stealing the election from virtually nonexistent liberal candidates will not help make America great again. Firing employees, refusing to hire more employees and cutting their hours in a fit of pique because your fellow plutocrats didn't get their way will only further cripple the workforce and put a heavier burden on the social safety net that you'd love nothing more than to permanently shred. You think that's a conspiracy theory? Look at Wal-Mart. We're already there. Democrats and liberals only created a welfare state: Right wingers like the Wal-Mart heirs, who are worth as much as the bottom 40%, make one necessary.

Like many other disenchanted and disenfranchised liberals, I guess I still hold out hope that Obama, like Jackie Robinson after his first two years in the majors, will begin fighting back. Maybe, as with #42, #44 will show his true blue colors and start pimp-slapping a seriously weakened Republican Party that saner people this past November 6th put on notice.

I doubt it but it's possible. And whether I actively cheer the president's policies and agendas or merely hope he doesn't fuck up the country more than he already has, I will not actively cheer his every failure as you hateful, sneering, ankle-biting schoolyard bullies did when he couldn't get the 2016 Olympics in Chicago. When the president fails, we all fail. You, me, almost all of us. And you want this to happen just to prove that people of color cannot effectively govern the United States.

Look at the lead picture above. It shows not much has changed but the political parties of the candidates. Southern states in 1860 supported racist Democratic candidates whereas the coastal states on both coasts supported a man who ended slavery and saved the nation when your ancestors sought to weaken the nation so you could continue owning, exploiting and abusing black people.

Exactly a century after Lincoln's assassination, in my own lifetime, black people were mauled and beaten in the streets of America for peacefully petitioning for the right to vote without having to pass an impossible litmus test even white PhD graduates couldn't pass. You would wish to return us to that even to the point of repealing the Voting Rights Act of that year, even the Civil Rights Act of the year before.

You and the corporations you ignorantly and brainlessly support would even repeal child labor laws in place since the 1830's and put children back in the mills. Or mills we would've had were those jobs not outsourced and offshored by companies such as the one your choice for president once headed.

I've been listening to all your bellyaching at first with amusement, then irritation, to the point where I can no longer remain silent.

I did not vote for Obama and I am proud of that fact. But I respect the voice and will of the people and, yes, Barack Hussein Obama will be my president, and yours, for the next four years and I hope he succeeds. Because, unlike you, I still love this country and what it used to represent and I would love to see us become great again by the end of my lifetime.

So, Ole Miss can riot, you can continue clutching your guns and religion and buy guns and ammo online like so many little James Holmeses. You can threaten to assassinate the President on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere. But at the end of the day, you always have the option of simply leaving this country if you cannot respect the voice and will of the people.

The trouble with that is, as with hateful white men in the United States, the number of countries that embrace right wing ideologies and do not have "Socialized medicine" are dwindling. Or maybe we'll finally wise up and start another Civil War not because you want to secede from the Union but because we'll forcefully make you secede so you and your own won't have to accept those government handouts like Social Security and Medicare, "entitlements" that you hate so much while cheering on the neverending rise of the military industrial complex that is hollowing out this economy like so many famished piranas.

Maybe Peter Theil will have a place for you in the servant class of his libertarian paradise when he gets around to building it, or maybe you can take your chances and get a job on one of those billion dollar private luxury liners when the people for whom you brainlessly bow and scrape float off into a red polluted sunset.

You right wingers obviously think you can do better without democracy so I say go for it.

But if you cannot accept that Obama will be your president for another four years, if you cannot abide by the will of the majority, there's nothing theoretically stopping you from getting the fuck out. The rest of us have work to do.

Suicide, too, is always an option...

Caturday Blogging: Kiss My Ass edition

You know that's what Popeye's saying to us even in his sleep.

So what atrocities have you been documenting?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Good Thing They Have ObamaCare

There is no love. There is no sympathy. There's only so much compassionate liberalism will stretch.

Imagine How Big of an Asshole I'd Be...

...if I had Photoshop.

I have less than zero sympathy for these smug white fucks.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Man Who Would Be King

Taegan Goddard at Political Wire (Go the original site if you want to look at the full-size .png files. They're much too megabyte intensive to load here.) made a priceless catch the day after the election that shows what an utter delusional arrogant prick Mitt Romney truly is. Apparently, the Romney campaign created a presidential transition site that outlines how a Romney presidency would've started in the event the American electorate completely went batshit insane. The site was immediately taken down but not before Goddard took screenshots. This is perfectly in keeping with a guy who went to his "victory" party with just an acceptance speech and not a concession speech.

All that's missing is the word "inauguration" substituted for "coronation", which, perfectly in keeping with Romney's furtiveness and elitism, would've been in a private ceremony on January 20th.

In this picture, Willard tells us that his fictional administration would've employed only people with the highest morals and ethics and that they'd be subject to an FBI background check... scrutiny to which Willard didn't feel he had to be subjected.

Because Willard the 1st was jumping the gun, he was forced to use for this inauguration .jpeg a picture from President's Obama's first inauguration in 2009 or, as we in the reality-based community say, "the preview of his second inauguration in 2013."

Here's a shot of Willard looking very presidential and reading something in front of a painting of a dead white guy, no doubt in reality a report from Bain Capital telling him they just made another cool $100,000,000 by outsourcing a few hundred US jobs to China after bankrupting the company with bloated management consulting fees.

This man makes me physically ill. I refuse to acknowledge his very physical existence and it is extremely unlikely that I will ever refer to him by name again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Twenty Bucks, Same as in Town: Thumpin' edition

As Mikey Flannigan recently said, Citizen's United can giveth as well as taketh. In this case, the Super PACs that were supposed to hand the elections to the Republicans as per the Supreme Court's wishes wound up handing most of them to the Democrats, instead. So lets take a stroll through Blogtopia and see what my comrades in arms are saying about last night's buttfucking of the GOP, shall we?

Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast gives us a comprehensive rundown, giving generous props to the Big Dog, the Big Storm and her Big Governor in Bill, Chris and Sandy. Personally, I'm much happier over Romney losing than Obama winning and you libs who'd voted for him again will have to live with that. But for now, I'm happy with the way the election turned out overall and Jill is, too.

D r i f t g l a s s has a message for Karl "Math Man" Rove and it doesn't bode well. Seems that everyone Sheldon Adelson backed from Rmoney on down lost big time last night, including a certain psycho jarhead named Allen West. If there's a God or patron saint for liberal bloggers, maybe Shelly will make Rove rolf his pasty, bloated carcass at gunpoint until the next election.

The Rude One has some Dutch Uncle words of advice for Republicans who got what they had coming to them in A Few Brief Notes to Republicans on the Day After Their Defeat by Barack Obama. Like me, the Rude One doesn't think they'll listen but these obvious things had to be said.

The General and Politico, which has garnered enormous credibility with the paste-eaters of the blogosphere this election cycle, are no doubt disappointed by the president's razor thin mandate that only includes, "Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites." I guess they don't count because that doesn't include the dwindling number of conservative, lunchpail-carrying white males who work at construction sites and spit on hippies not to mention Wall Street tycoons like Donald "I Look Like a Baked Orange" Trump. Throw in the president's obvious support among gays, lesbians, bisexuals, the 18-24 demographic, Jews and other reliable Democratic voters, that makes for a very thin mandate, indeed.

John Herrman at Buzzfeed found a list of 17 wingnuts who openly called for Obama's assassination on Twitter last night. And I'm sure that list is far from exhaustive. So the next time some right wing twat tweaks you for not being civil enough to them or their psychopath of choice, show them this article.

Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors has a shameless rundown of last night's debacle and he doesn't apologize for it. Nor should he. Here's a sample, in which Tengrain briefly channels D r i f t g l a s s and tells it simply but poetically: "What we are seeing is a dinosaur party thrashing about in the tar pits not realizing that their fate is already sealed." Amen and pass the evolution.

Matt Taibbi comes too dangerously close to my liking for this inevitable, "Both sides do it" argument that we heard from fucking Jon Stewart two years ago. Yet, he makes some good points in a post he wrote for Rolling Stone yesterday at the start of the elections. But, no, Mattie, both sides do not do the same thing. While the racist, hind leg-chewing bedsheet wearers that made up virtually all of Romney's base were accusing the president of being the anti-Christ, a Commie, a Socialist, a Muslim, an atheist and everything else that Rush and Drudge could stuff into their echo chamber heads, we were just insisting that Romney fessed up about his taxes. Passions get aroused during election years. Deal with it or get the fuck out of the game.

Roger Ailes (the good one) has a brief but hilarious post straight from Glenn Beck's sweat-drenched conspiracy theory website, citing a very reliable source of my old Twitter foil Brad "I Am the Ted Nugent of Hack Novelists" Thor who relayed the horrible news that (Oh, nos!) Obama's campaign was confident they'd win and had the nerve, gall, audacity and effrontery to tell them there darkies to get out and vote. Which is certainly less forgivable than Romney showing up in Boston with just a victory speech and had to wing his concession speech, even obscenely charging the press for access to his deflated victory bash for the 1%.

Fearguth at Bildungblog reliably gives us some hilarious captions about last night's elections.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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