Monday, December 31, 2012

The Verdict Is In

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Hospitalized

     Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital when doctors discovered a blood clot related to her concussion earlier this month after a fall caused by dehydration during a stomach virus. Naturally, conspiracy theorists, let's call them clotters, are pooh-poohing the idea that Secretary Clinton is actually ill because she's yet to testify before the Senate on Benghazi.
     Next thing we know, Fox "News" will be doing a late-breaking report that blood clots have a liberal bias, according to a new study by the Heritage Foundation.
     Oh, and the Gateway Pundit and @RichardGrenell seriously need to go fuck themselves or each other. I don't care which.
     Get well soon, Madame Secretary.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Here's a Helpful Nudge, Mayans

     Well, since the December 21st apocalypse turned out to be another Harold Camping-class clusterfuck and all-around disappointment, what better way to help move things along than to settle for second-best and embrace, if not the physical destruction of earth, the intellectual flatlining of western civilization? Hell, even if I can't facilitate evangelical Bible-bangers' rise to heaven like Spider Man on Broadway, the least I can do is to shoo along our inevitable transition to the stunningly prescient documentary, Idiocracy.
     One foot was put squarely in the primordial ooze with the incomprehensible publication of Christine O'Donnell's I Only Dabbled in Witchcraft But Not My Clit, discourtesy of St. Martin's Press. O'Donnell's literary agent, Trident Media CEO Daniel Strone, for unfathomable reasons, thought having a book written after O'Donnell's humiliating Senate loss in 2010 and selling the fictional property sight unseen, with no chance for either his agency nor the auction bidders to do a comprehensive P&L on it, would be a corker of an idea. Unforeseen for equally inexplicable reasons was Danny Boy's client, the perfect delineation of a sow's ear unsuccessfully turned into a silk purse that never seemed to get full, essentially violating the terms of her fast-tracked contract and walking out on Piers Morgan's show when she was supposed to be pimping her lead balloon of a book.
     Oops. Who could've possibly seen that coming as well as the sales news that even a month after its release O'Donnell's ghost-written masterpiece would sell about as well as Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in the Castro (about 2200 copies, last I heard, or an average of 44 per state)?
     The other foot was planted firmly in the ooze when the news broke last October that Random House, just prior to its merger with the Penguin Publishing Group, decided to buy the rights to HBO starlet's Lena Dunham's Oberlin-inspired opus, Not That Kind of Girl, for approximately $3.6 million (a hideously high advance that Random House, obviously and justifiably ashamed of itself, refused to confirm). God knows we need more books such as the kind Dunham sold by circulating her 66 page proposal comprised of enticing snippets and colored pie charts and whatever else she regurgitated between brass brads before using her show business connections to circulate: Naval-gazing by a child of privilege (her mother knows Meryl Streep, doncha know?)
     So I figured, since my fiction is going nowhere in a warp-driven interstellar spaceship, why not counter such chick lit (come to think of it, why don't we eschew the pararhyme and go for broke, calling it "clit-lit", since that's what it really is on a quasi intellectual level) with a blue collar, middle-aged man's advice to the lovelorn, politically dysfunctional and other various and sundry fuckups wondering where their life went after that Thanksgiving touchdown pass that won the state championship in 1976?
     What follows are extracts of a proposal that I plan on sending to Kimberly Witherspoon, Dunham's literary agent at Inkwell Management (wouldn't it be sweet if she was related to Legally Blonde star Reece Witherspoon?), the agent that negotiated the deal that put $3.6 million worth of pennies on the eyes of western culture.

     As far back as I could remember, I wanted to write and be famous and shit. I think it started when I was three when my Mom and Dad got me my first set of building blocks with the letters and numbers on them. I think the first word I spelled out was "penis", perfectly spelled, and thus began my neverending and fruitless relationship with child psychologists and therapists.

     If a man writes a perfectly spelled, formatted, punctuated and personalized proposal and it gets ignored by brain-dead, career-driven, opportunistic literary agents, was it ever really written?

     When I was 19, I sold jokes to Rodney Dangerfield, who taught me a real lesson in disrespect. Does my proximity to actual stars of actual talent to any appreciable degree rub off on me and my opus?

     If John Cook makes fun of this when I hit the big time, should I write a book about that, too, and decry class warfare and sour grapes or will my blue collar roots somehow invalidate that assumption?

     I never went to poetry camp but I did speak with Lee Camp during a podcast recently. Plus, he recently followed me on Twitter. Plus, I drop his name a lot as if I personally know him.

     I had my first orgasm at age 12. I thought I died from sheer pleasure. Is that why the orgasm is called "the little death" or does that refer to the male brain's state of enervation after the endorphins stop popping?

     Ever since I hit 40, I realized I can't stop farting when I pee. In fact, I can't stop farting at all, which means I have to soon choose between corn beef and cabbage and my love life. And what's with this shit about losing hair where I need it and liberally sprouting it where I don't?

     The best advice I ever gave my sons: Be true to who you are and you will attract the true friends who will gain your confidence and then stab you in the back with a serrated steak knife they will twist. This will serve them in good stead if and when they ever decide to become writers in their own right.

     My greatest fear is that one day we will run out of justifications for throwing wealth at those already brought up in wealth and privilege and explaining to the unwashed masses why this should always be so.

     When will we finally give up this pretense that publishing is all about literacy and publishing the best and brightest and just own up to the fact that, like Hollywood, it's all about being the first to do something second and the very first to do something stupid?

     When I reached 40, I feared I would never get another hardon again until I finally realized I'd been breading my penis with cocaine.

     Even before I sold jokes to Rodney Dangerfield, I was precocious and willful. Entirely through self-will, after years at gazing at my naval, I finally trained myself not to laugh at the phrase "belly button."

     I never went to a fancy college like Oberlin but I did get lost in Cambridge once on my way to court and passed by Harvard University. Plus I once woke up at a Holiday Inn with no recollection whatsoever of actually checking in the night before.

     Lord knows a privileged 26 year-old has accrued vast amounts of life experience to offer ersatz advice for the clueless but think of how much a man twice Dunham's age can offer to those with $10 to throw away on a trendy book for which "75% off!" stickers are already being mass-produced. For instance, when shopping around a proposal half as big as a Hollywood script, just ignore the rules that literary agencies such as Inkwell has for the rest of us whose Moms don't know Meryl Streep and ask for just a few sample pages of material. Try the salutation, "Dear Wouldbe Employee..."

     I promise if you can get me a three and a half million dollar deal, Gawker will satirize me, too, and generate lucrative negative publicity, which is infinitely a less cynical a business model than actually cultivating an actual author's career.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Has it Really Come to This?

(Expand for full-size version)

     Jesus fucking tap dancing Christ in a chorus line of cancan hamsters, has it come to this? Auditions for wavers? Seriously? Those poor saps you see freezing their asses off on the street in the dead of winter as they wave like idiots to motorists in Statue of Liberty and gorilla costumes while making minimum wage? Those guys had to actually pass auditions and undergo drug screenings?!
     Do I have what it takes, folks? I mean, I may be a bit rusty. I haven't waved since Election Night when I bid a not-so-fond adieu to Mitt and Ann Romney and many 86'd Republicans. Break a leg, kids. Ziegfeld's out there.
     I mean, seriously, folks, I've gotten in cabs where the driver needed both a GPS and verbal instructions to get me a mile and a half across my small town. I've gotten countless fast food and coffee orders fucked up by people for whom English is a third language at best. I've met nurses who didn't know what a BUN is. And we elect to Congress and the presidency six figure-a-year idiots who don't know basic shit that your average 10th grade civics student would be expected to know.
     Yet, I, someone with ISO 9001 training as a quality inspector, someone with retail management experience and someone who in the military used multimillion dollar machinery and equipment, can't get a job cleaning up dog shit at a kennel, when I have experience doing just that, and people have to audition and suffer through humiliating background checks and drug screenings just to flop their wrists at random strangers for minimum wage? Seriously???
     Pull chain, repeat as necessary until western civilization finally circles the porcelain and meets the galactic sewer system.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Birthday Present I Don't Need 
     My fellow dinosaurs on the internet may have heard about some trendy website called Instagram (hereafter referred to as Instaspam), the demon spawn of Facebook. It's one of those hot new domains we hear about from online friends and news articles about five times a day that nonetheless remains tucked away in the recesses of our uncool, reptilian brains, thereby insulating us from opening an account in a desperate, pathetic attempt to be trendy and "with it."
     Apparently, our forbearance, however prescient, was the right choice as not signing up with Instaspam has proven to be beneficial for those of us who may have had a problem with FB's spawn essentially self-dealing itself the right to appropriate your images, sell them to advertisers and to do so without any compensation or notice whatsoever. The backlash was literally immediate. Within hours of Instaspam announcing the new TOS on their blog, people began deleting and pledging to delete their Instaspam accounts. The backlash was so fierce that Instaspam was forced to rescind the policy that would've taken effect on my birthday, January the 16th.
     Ironically, this is also the date chosen by Chicago School of Economics godmother, Ayn Rand, in the only play she ever wrote, The Night of January 16th. It was based in part on the suicide of corrupt industrialist Ivar "The Match King" Kreuger, who killed himself when his business empire began to crumble under charges he'd worked in collusion with various governments to corner the match market. Rand, typically, recast Kreuger as a tragic victim and businessman of vast ambitions in her play. In a final irony, much as in Thornton Wilder's more famous play, Our Town, different audience members are invited to participate by playing the jury.
     In a mockery of Rand's usual mantra of a man's right to establish and declare his self-worth in the world, Fakebook and Instaspam have proven just how little they regard the individual rights and worth of its users with their new policies by boiling it all down to the mere monetary value of those rights and individual sovereignty with their grubby and borderline creepy money-making schemes. (As proof of this, Fakebook took away their users' right to vote on their new policies when they saw the backlash to them. Highly popular FB user George Takei, for instance, has been very vocal about these ridiculous scams disguised as policy changes. Takei's intern was infamously suspended last May and the image abruptly taken down when some troll(s) reported him for obscenity.).
     For months now, Fakebook gave itself the right to use your likeness for ads and, in the wake of the Hindenburg of an IPO that made lots of money for "favored investors" like Mark Zuckerberg and Paypal founder Peter Theil while leaving smaller investors holding the bag, began charging people to get their updates to the top of the inboxes of their FB followers. Now, in the next phase of harvesting money from people they still designate as users instead of paying subscribers (hence no chance of sharing in the IPO money), they're allowing others, including people you never friended such as spammers and advertisers, the chance to insert their spam into your inbox for the price of one thin dollar, which is over twice the cost to mail a letter and exactly one dollar more than it costs to send off an email. But if you're a corporation with deep pockets, then that dollar multiplied by thousands or even millions becomes a very cost-effective strategy that stovepipes spam directly to victims (Despite a survey last June that showed most users ignore ads they see on FB, leading them to spend less time on it.).
     This is essentially paid stalking, made legal by a typically ass-covering TOS that contradicts itself by capriciously suspending through its lazy algorithm users who've been reported, usually by trolls, for inappropriate friending. Paying Fakebook to allow you to actually insert yourself in the inboxes of people you neither know nor who follow you, is a way of paying FB a bribe to keep from getting suspended for 7, 14 or 21 days or outright banned.
     Meanwhile, if you're Firedoglake, for instance, and you wish to get your latest, legitimate, updates to your many followers, the cost to ensure reaching all of them could easily run in the thousands, which is plainly prohibitive to a liberal blog that's always running pledge drives to pay for bandwidth or to one cause or another. As PCWorld says,
The immediate concern with $1 messages is that it could open the door to spam or other unwanted messages—for instance, harassment from an ex-boyfriend or bullying students—even if that's not Facebook's intent. And now that there's no way to prevent non-friends from sending messages, there's no way for users to opt out of getting paid messages.
     You read that right- there's no way to opt out of these paid features, because that would infringe on the rights of capitalism and the free market. And in a broader sense, when one thinks of Rand's much-ballyhooed and much-maligned Objectivism, it's difficult to see how Rand could reconcile the championing of the rights of individual man with the sociopathic, bottom line-driven needs and ambitions of corporations whose last concerns are empowering individuals and promoting the common welfare. Perhaps the people that Rand sought to empower were merely those like Zuckerberg who have the rapacious enterprise to harvest money from hundreds of millions of "users" without even giving them the basic right to opt out save for deleting their FB accounts as I had this summer and certainly with no thought to bring them in as paying partners.
     It's a classic case of Fakebook and Instaspam not seeing the forest for the trees. While people are capriciously banned and suspended for stalking and spamming every day with no real apparatus to redress ones grievances or to appeal a software-generated decision, Fakebook nonetheless opens the door for spammers and stalkers who have the money to reach those who want nothing to do with them.
     And under Instaspam's short-lived revised TOS, they reserved for themselves the right to not even designate as a paid advertisement advertisements that would've used your images in order to trick your followers into clicking on the ads. While there are certainly millions of other things for which we ought to be reserving our anger and loathing, such as drone strikes, the counterproductive fight over the so-called fiscal cliff, Obama's insistence on keeping us in Afghanistan, an onerous health care "reform" bill and the president's willingness to put Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare on the butcher's block, it's easy to see how this would infuriate IG and FB users who increasingly see themselves as sheep who are looked upon by these internet behemoths as merely a flock to be sheared of revenue.
     And regular internet users have probably noticed, just in the past year, how more viciously aggressive and devious advertisers are getting. You may have noticed the little box at the top right corner of a pop-up ad isn't a way to x out the ad but is merely part of the enabling link that doesn't close but open up the ad or a mouse click on any part of a page automatically opens up an ad in a new, minimized window that immediately disappears but stays active unless you hunt for it, and are forced to look at it, when you go to x it out. At least half to two thirds of all Youtube videos force you to sit through at least five seconds of half minute or minute-long ads before your video starts. All this, as Fakebook proved, is guaranteed to do is to drive ad-weary users away from their favorite websites.
     And perhaps comedian Lee Camp has the final word on the subject in his latest Moment of Clarity, a morality tale of what happens when corporations, and we proles, do things strictly for money.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The NRA Has Asperger Syndrome

     Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger's syndrome or Asperger disorder, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests - Wikipedia

     Listening to the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre blather on about more guns in the hands of teachers, armed guards in our elementary schools and how video games are to blame, I'm frankly amazed that no one's drawn the connection and accused the NRA of having Asperger Syndrome. After all, their social clumsiness, inability to take social cues from other humans and repetitive behavior and speech are part and parcel to the autism that supposedly afflicted Newtown shooter Adam Lanza.
     Aside from paying what was obviously lip service to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary that saw 20 children aged six and seven and eight adults put into early graves, the NRA stubbornly refuses to meaningfully take some guidance from the unmistakable social cues from even pro-gun conservatives and parents in general. Still, LaPierre blathered on about gun rights and trying to deflect the blame to video games that are played by millions of citizens in many countries that don't blow each other away to the tune of tens of thousands every year as we do.

     They still couldn't get a clue even after learning, as they surely should have, that during LaPierre's presser, a gunman in Pennsylvania was walking up and down a street and randomly shooting at people before he himself was killed by police. The death toll of that spree killing was four, small potatoes, obviously, to an NRA that plainly looks at civilian deaths as acceptable collateral damage regardless of the extreme youth of the victims. It's the fault of Asperger's sufferers, it's the fault of video games, it's the fault of violent movies, it's everyone's fault but their agenda's.
     Five days ago, Slate Magazine did a study to see how many reported gun fatalities that have taken place in the US since Newtown on December 14th. The result was over 120, even though that list is far from exhaustive. Here's another horrifying statistic: According to the Brady Center's website, nearly 100,000 Americans have been shot thus far this year, with, as of this writing, 146 shot today, the day after Christmas, alone.
     The genesis of this ongoing rage against our fellow Americans, obviously, stems from a highly volatile combination of fear and the spiritual Viagra a gun puts in those who hold one, especially for the first time. As Homer Simpson said at a gun shop, "When I held that gun in my hand, I felt a surge of power... like God must feel when he's holding a gun."
     And the NRA's stubborn refusal to bend to the changing zeitgeist is very typical of Asperger patients, pathologically repetitive behavior that gives such gems as the answer to gun violence is more guns, which is like pouring gasoline on a fire to douse it. Six days ago, the small town of Harrold, Texas allowed teachers to carry firearms in the schools, a measure that Michigan's viciously right wing governor vetoed at the last minute when the legislature in Lansing voted to do the same. In Newt Gingrich's hometown of Kennesaw, Georgia, it was mandated 30 years ago that its citizens own at least one gun.
     And, despite Newtown and the president's impassioned but typically vague promise to do something about this, nothing significant will change. The media will not undergo a paradigm shift and all mutually promise each other and us that they will stop the fear-mongering. The NRA will not call for stricter gun control measures. We will not stop buying guns and ammo in bulk, especially as the government provides massive loopholes, and is forbidden from tracking firearms sales and likewise is passively watching all this brisk, frenetic activity at gun shops and gun shows and carrying over its gun-walking, Fast and Furious operations onto our soil. We're too entrenched in what passes for our collective belief system, as if we Americans as a whole have Asperger's.
     Waco was brought about when a lunatic leader of an apocalyptic cult known as the Branch Davidians bought so many guns and so much ammo it eventually got the attention of the BATF. After waiting for Koresh and company to stockpile an enormous arsenal and ammo dump, they then knocked on his door and four agents paid for it with their lives. The standoff, and the FBI's botched response, cost many dozens more their lives, including, yes, 20 children (the same student death toll as Newtown) under the age of 18. The siege eventually claimed 80 lives. That was nearly 20 years ago yet we're still hearing about people like the lunatic in Indiana who bought $100,000 of ammunition and nearly four dozen guns and was only turned up and apprehended when he threatened to shoot up an elementary school just two days after the Newtown massacre.
     The government in general and most any administration is typically loathe to federalize laws that apply to all 50 states. But as with gay rights, the minimum wage, judicial sentencing and ALEC-inspired "Stand Your Ground" laws that have virtually become a license to kill, gun control, such as it is, is a patchwork quilt of laws, make believe laws and no laws that varies from state to state. As stated earlier, a small town in Georgia mandates carrying a firearm while New York City, home of some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, has for decades forbidden citizens from owning and carrying guns within city limits.
     Considering that 100,000 Americans get shot and over 30,000 die from gunshots annually, exponentially more than all the other industrialized nations of the world combined, this is one issue on which the federal government should take point and codify at the federal level.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Xmas, 1914-5

     (This was a post I'd put up on Christmas Day four years ago. Out of my thousands of posts written over the last eight years, it's one of my personal favorites and I just thought it was worth reposting. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all and may today, and every day thereafter, be marked with joy, love for your fellow man, safety and hope. While you're at it, please give a thought or two for our troops who still, amazingly, have to spend a 12th consecutive Xmas in Afghanistan instead of with their families, with at least one more to go.)
     Every Christmas, ever since the invasion of Iraq, I remind myself of the moving and legendary Christmas truce between British and German forces that took place in 1914. Actually, contrary to most any other historical event, rather than being exaggerated, the truce, singular, is actually downplayed and scaled down. The cease-fire between opposing sides on Christmas Eve 1914 was more widespread and longer-lasting, even spawning at least two sequels in the two succeeding years.
     The First World War was one of the most barbaric ever, the century's first global clash of nations using mechanized tools of war. Unlike previous wars, dogfights between pilots in airplanes were common and the strange spectacle of diesel-powered tanks dipping and rumbling across the cratered terrain of European battlefields had easily led people to believe that war between humans had crossed that threshhold into the inhuman.
     Which is why the story of the Christmas truce between enemies during this same war is all the more remarkable. It's a still-heartening reminder that, while the technology of war had evolved, the human heart had remained constant and good will toward one's fellow man had yet to become a quaint notion.
     When German soldiers were observed decorating their foxholes and barricades and overheard singing Christmas carols, the British soldiers across No Man's Land had responded in kind. Soon, soldiers approached eachother, their hands up, without permission from their officers and a truce was declared. Presents such as jam, cigars, cigarettes and so forth were exchanged. Equipment was also exchanged between sides so living conditions could be improved. The dead left out in No Man's Land were buried and mourned by both sides.
     Then someone proposed playing a game of soccer. Actually, several soccer games broke out. The high command of both sides were outraged this was going on but were powerless to stop it since many of their lower field officers had happily joined in the abrupt festivities.
     Similar stories began emerging that this had happened among French and Belgian forces. Perhaps photographs of loved ones were traded during the truce and whatever little communication there was between French, Belgian, English and German troops spoke of simple, common pleasures. As with the current Pope Benedict, the last, Benedict XV, had earlier that year called for an end to the bloodshed.
     Contrary to popular belief, these truces lasted longer than Christmas. According to several accounts by those who were there, the truce actually lasted for the better part of a week and wouldn't resume until fresh troops would relieve the ones who'd lain down their arms.
     It was a very necessary reminder to these men that whatever advances had been made in war technology, the mustard gases and ugly machines that had taken over the landscape, humans were still humans the world over and fellow Christians could still find some common ground and celebrate a common holiday, putting a world war and the unimaginable human devastation on a back burner.
     It is impossible to imagine anything like that happening these days, partly because we are fighting a nebulous enemy that wears no uniforms, carries no identification cards or dog tags nor even shares our religion or celebrates our holidays.
     But the differences in religion don't fully explain the new breed of barbarity we're seeing in the world today. War has gotten more impersonal than ever with longer-range weapons, faster and harder tanks and laser-guided smart bombs yet when it gets down to it, it can still get quite personal and ugly.
     Maybe, as Albert Einstein said, the fourth world war will be fought with rocks and Mankind will once again be able to see the whites of eachother's eyes as they try to kill and maim eachother again. And perhaps that proximity in the absence of sophisticated war technology will better remind these future enemies that Christmas and Easter afford irresistible opportunities for them to recognize and celebrate eachothers' similarties instead of hating them for their differences.
     The truces of 1914-5 were held in defiance of generals and politicians who had seen no place for the Christmas spirit in the alien desolation of the battlefields. This defiance in defense of what is fundamentally and universally human is something we're seeing all too infrequently these days and may never see again.

Christmas is All About Ungrateful, Psycho Cats

     Since I didn't have anyone else to see after I dropped my kids off, the only thing left to do was give Popeye his stocking full o' cat toys. As with every year, he was practically tearing the house apart when he heard the bells. I took one of the cloth toys and impregnated it with catnip and, as usual, it put him in a quasi-murderous frenzy. Catnip's supposed to have a soothing effect on cats and enervate them but for some reason, it brings out my cat's aggressive side. This is why all the pictures I'd just taken of him are blurred, because he was in a homicidal frenzy. I think it may be time for an intervention after the holidays.

Merry Christmas

     "Bu-u-u-ullets in... the a-a-a-i-i-ir-r-r..."
     I'll be heading out soon to spend a little Christmas time with my sons, after which the highlight of my day will be watching Popeye tear open his Xmas stocking. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get a brief call from Mrs. JP.
     In the meantime, I'll try to think of something to write after I get back on the offchance you have a spare minute to drop by and wish ole JP and kitty a Merry Christmas. And, in case you're bereft of any last minute gift ideas, please remember the Paypal button on the top right corner.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Caption Contest: Xmas Edition


     (Picture courtesy of faithful and loyal reader Stan Banos at the photo blog Reciprocity Failure.)

     Not included in Clement Moore's poem was the Christmas that Santa's pipe ignited over Finland when all eight reindeer farted at once.

     Sorry I haven't got more time for anything more than a half-assed caption but I figure if y'all are as busy as I am with the usual Johnny-Come-Lately last minute Xmas Eve rushing, you have even less time to read anything I'd write.
     I will say that I'm both heartened and mystified by a strange red box that arrived at my house today from a place called Figis in Wisconsin. It contained five delicious-looking cheese and beef sticks that I'll save until after Mrs. JP gets back from Vero Beach on January 8th. But whoever sent it obviously knows my address and there's no useful return information on it. So, to the kind and thoughtful soul who'd sent it, Thank you and happy holidays but please identify yourself either here or via email or snail mail.
     And to Stan the Man Banos and Ward and Susan, thank you very much for the cards that also arrived today. I trust ours have arrived, as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

If it Bleeds it Leads, So Let it Bleed

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

     "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun." - NRA VP Wayne LaPierre, December 21, 2012

     If one were to take Maureen Dowd's dry sarcasm literally (and I'm afraid many liberals do), then the NRA is wrongly anathematizing the MSM that she represents and that the 4th Estate is being used as a scapegoat, an innocent victim that's not actually accountable for the atmosphere of fear the NRA's Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre rightly pointed out at his Friday presser.
     Of course, LaPierre's brief, shining moment of lucidity in an otherwise surrealistically stupid press conference was the delineation of the old maxim of a stopped clock being right twice a day (although that second time was never forthcoming). But he touched upon something that liberals (including professional erstwhile leftists such as Dowd) are howling about this very moment on Twitter, Crooks and Liars and elsewhere.
     "Oh, it's not the media's fault!" Dowd and others are saying as they claw slippery mud to achieve that moral high ground, as if LaPierre was accusing a woman with her hormones out of whack. But the fact is, there's a tacit, synergistic relationship between the mainstream media, the NRA and gun sales. Fear sells. And people are always buying, especially in a year in which the Maya seemed to promise us destruction on the winter solstice (which has proven to be as much a no-show as LaPierre's proverbial second moment of clarity). And the mainstream media, those loyal stenographers of every presidential administration since Lyndon Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin, are doing the selling. The NRA helps its gun lobby help the firearms industry fill the demand for the tools that keep the fear at bay. (A chilling sidebar: This company sold three and a half year's worth of AR15 clips in just 72 hours after the Newtown massacre, all but outright proving gun nuts nationwide are afraid of an official and meaningful backlash that hasn't even begun yet.)
     Granted, the MSM at its worst thinks on a much bigger and grander scale, supporting this or that administration whenever they feel the need to get their war on and attack one nation of brown people or another. After all, few things pump up ratings faster and higher than a shiny new war but in the wake of September 11th, 2001, even the hasty and futile invasion of Afghanistan played second fiddle to the Islamophobia that was stoked, with Fox "News" proudly at the vanguard.
     Last week, an Indiana man was arrested for torching a mosque. After he was arrested and questioned as to his motive, he reportedly claimed that he'd watched Fox "News" while drinking 45 beers and essentially said they made him do it with their constant blathering about Muslims killing us. Over two years ago, the Tides Foundation wouldbe shooter Byron Williams was found to have literature in his car by Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, the latter having railed incessantly about Tides. Williams himself said he'd been heavily influenced by what he'd seen on TV about Tides and the ACLU.
     When one realizes what an absurdly high percentage of Republican voters who as of last July still thought the president was a Muslim, despite Mr. Obama being the Chief Executive for three and a half years and being, naturally, one of the most written-about men on the planet, the sharp increase we saw in gun sales becomes more explainable. (In fact, between October 2008 and July this year, the percentage who thought he was Muslim actually rose from 12 to 17 points, according to Pew, meaning the more they see and hear and read about the president, the more ignorant conservatives get.)
     It also follows that the MSM, inexplicably led by the top-rated Fox "News", partly has itself to blame for gun sales skyrocketing after both presidential elections, due in part to the lies told about President Obama, the most stubborn of which is that he wants to take away our guns. Go do a search on Newsbank or any other comprehensive news database for how many times our president has actually used the phrase "gun control" and in what context. I'll sit here and wait.
     See what I mean? Even after his tearful press conference in which the President finally broke down and said that a solution to this problem with mass shootings has to be reached, he still didn't say the phrase "gun control" or offer even any broad strokes of such an agenda.
     And, lest the MSM fear they're becoming irrelevant and that people aren't listening to them, all they need do is to continue following the AP or UPI news wire to see how many people are taking to heart the fear they stoke on a daily basis. Then watch the media step back and howl with indignation at being labeled culpable when one shooter or wouldbe shooter after another cites them as the source of their murderous angst.
     The mainstream media were as adept at capitalizing on national fear as the neocons in the Bush administration and their constant color-coded terror alerts that suddenly inched up to red when it looked as if Bush's re-election odds were getting long, which, of course, the MSM were all too ready, eager, willing and able to helpfully pass along.
     Their manifold motivations for stoking fear vary but the one common denominator is Money, the Almighty dollar. The NRA and its lobbying arm's job is to keep gun sales at alltime highs. The media's job is to perpetually stoke that fear because as long as humans harbor that atavistic fight or flight instinct, fear will always sell, which means airtime sells at high rates which means more money in the already bulging, bottomless pockets of TV, radio and newspaper executives and their holding company's shareholders. The very coverage of Newtown, while certainly newsworthy, was obviously driven by the cynical, old media adage of, "If it bleeds, it leads." And the MSM have no incentive to stop the bleeding anywhere along the way.
     And the people ultimately left holding the price tag for these corporately-driven agendas are the parents who have to bury dead children after one maniac whose mother took to heart what the media and the NRA said about the necessity of buying semi-automatic weapons. The answer is not to buy more guns to combat the problem of us already having too many guns and the answer isn't even more mandatory and stringent background checks. The answer starts with telling the MSM to back off and to stop needlessly frightening the populace into gun shops and gun shows and passing along lies as if they were actual news. And that starts with ignoring doddering morons like Wayne LaPierre and keeping him off Meet the Press.
     Anyone who'd seen Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine may remember Moore asking Canadians why their country has so many fewer gunshot fatalities than ours, despite the prevalence of firearms in Canada. No one could fully answer the question but one Canadian gentleman perhaps came the closest when he said that Canadians weren't afraid all the time and their mainstream media didn't stoke fear on a constant basis.
     Amen, eh?

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Moment of Silence For Newtown

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Un-COLA Nuts

     I don't feel sorry for liberals now any more than I did four years ago. It wasn't as if they weren't warned
     They should've known what they were getting during the campaign trail when Obama joined virtually every American politician since Truman by pledging support for Israel at a video conference with AIPAC in which he tried to out-Lieberman Lieberman while paying barely more than lip service to Palestine that, in the balance, has less of a right to exist than Israel that kills people all over the Middle East with impunity because Hamas kills less people all over the Middle East with far less impunity.
     They should've known what they were getting when Obama began blathering on about non-existent clean coal, nonexistent nukes in Iran's arsenal to counter Israel's officially nonexistent nukes and rushed back to Congress to vote to give immunity to telecoms who'd been spying on us to head off over 40 pending lawsuits.
     They should've known what they were getting after Obama signed off on the other half of the corporate welfare state known as TARP while putting no preconditions on those who'd be getting that largesse from the American public (especially the auto industry who could, you know, refit their factories to make greener cars but that would be too logical). The Obama Justice Department has accepted one massive bribe after another in exchange for any real justice or has dropped countless investigations against other criminals.
     They should've known what they were getting when Obama used Steve Rattner to fuck around with GM's pension plan in violation of federal law, when they strong-armed the Spanish courts that ruled to pursue war crimes charges against the Bush junta, when he kept us in Iraq for another three years, ramped up drone strikes killing civilians all over the Middle East and central Asia (with, as usual, impunity), kept us officially in Afghanistan until 2014, unofficially until 2024, authorized the assassination of American citizens and their teenaged children and signed into law the NDAA that makes dissent on a par with domestic terrorism.
     They should've known what they were getting when Obama signed off on the Bush tax cuts because the minority Republicans in the Senate had a problem with them lapsing while they shamelessly took unemployment benefits hostage and vowed to do so again if they didn't get their ruinous tax cuts the next time around. They should've known what they were getting when Obama, at the same exact moment he renewed those tax cuts, froze pay for federal workers for two years, is ignoring the Kyoto Protocol and global warming as studiously as did Bush, has not until recently advanced any agenda for gun control, had to be shamed by his Vice President into supporting gay marriage, is acting (the Lilly Ledbetter bill his first day on the job notwithstanding) as if the erosion of women's rights in Afghanistan and elsewhere doesn't even exist, loaded his economic team with the biggest fuckups from the Clinton administration, named as his jobs czar one of the biggest outsourcers of American jobs, had filled his administration with Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street bank alumni and saddled us with a health care "reform" bill that has an individual mandate without even the slightest semblance of a public option and is enforceable through the US tax code.
     They should've known what they were getting after Obama's and his Interior Secretary's response to the worst oil spill disaster in planetary history and Obama's shameless pimping of the nuclear power industry both just before and after Fukushima. Oh, and even though Obama could've ended it with a stroke of a pen, vulture funds are still very much in force here in the US even after Gordon Brown, former conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain, banned them in the UK. He's undermined the unions that had supported him and sent out his chief flak Bob Gibbs to pimp-slap the real liberals who criticize the administration as if dissent is verboten.
     30 years ago, this man would've fit in perfectly with the Republican Party that had rallied around Reagan and yet still liberals came out by the tens of millions to vote for this DINO while strenuously ignoring the real liberals who were running for office. Not only that, I, myself, have gotten mud slung at me from all quarters by these so-called liberals for publicly and proudly saying I wouldn't vote for Obama and that any vote I'd cast for anyone else would be a wasted one.
     You are not liberals, by my definition of the word, and if you insist on calling yourselves that, then you need to be ashamed of yourselves for letting Joe Overton pervert your definition of the word. The window has been wrenched so far to the right that the slightest degree to the left of Reagan and Nixon is now passing itself off with frightening authority as "liberalism."
     And now here we are, four years later and that piece of shit sitting behind the Resolute Desk will get to sit behind it for another four years with one crucial difference: During these next 48 months, Obama will no longer have to pretend to give a flying fuck about what the American public thinks. Which brings us to this so-called "fiscal cliff" on which I've refrained from commenting on account of the sheer silliness and disingenuousness of it all. But I can't stay silent any more.
     So-called liberals, I give you Barack Obama and his un-Cola nuts.
     Now, the Democrats widening their majority in the Senate and eroding that of Republicans in the House who obviously would've lost their majority in the lower chamber were it not for blatantly illegal gerrymandering hadn't made the slightest impact on Obama because now we're hearing he's for some unfathomable reason caving to the severely weakened Republicans on Social Security and the COLA as well as extending the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000-$400,000 a year.
     Essentially, it boils down to this: Obama is proposing extending for at least another two years the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% while taking money away from seniors who largely make less than $20,000 a year and pay the most for their prescriptions. This is the guy you so-called liberals voted for, your champion of "hope and change." Well, to quote special needs cheerleader Sarah Palin, "How's that hopey-changey thing workin' out fer ya?"
     You had re-elected, or at least voted against a humoreless, uncharismatic game show host, the very worst President in American history, a man who has misrepresented his party far more than any of his nearly four dozen predecessors and have fooled yourselves into believing that voting any other way was tantamount to an act of sedition.
     To summarize: This man murders women and children then lies about the collateral damage by claiming teenaged males were retroactively terrorists. He coddles Wall Street, puts its tycoons such as Jamie Dimon into the Cabinet briefing room and in his administration, throws his own people under the bus if they incur ignorant, right wing faux outrage, shamelessly vacuums up massive amounts of money from Wall Street, gives himself the right to use JSOC to murder American citizens overseas and stands in the way of real progress at every available opportunity despite the fact the people who begin these obstructions, and whose influence is eroding by the day, will always hate him and will never be satisfied no matter how many concessions he makes to these lunatics.
     And now, he's signaled, against all rhyme or reason, his willingness to appease these professional cock-blockers by cutting granny's Social Security, despite the fact federal law forbids it adding one penny to the deficit (maybe someone should take both Boehner and Obama aside when the President isn't politically fellating the House Majority leader and explain to them both between orgasms that Social Security is paid for through weekly payroll taxes, that Obama also cut by 2% a couple of years ago). Oh, and cuts to Medicaid and Medicare are also on the table, despite that they contribute very little to the debt and deficit created single-handedly by his predecessor, the Idiot Son.
     The only thing I have to say after this, the only thing that comes to mind, is the old imprecation we hear all too often and say all too often when wingnuts vote Republican and against their self-interests: "Be careful what you wish for because you may get it."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More Tweets From the Edge

     As many of you no doubt know, I don't just drop my little pearls of wisdom here but also on the microblogging site Twitter. So even if I don't wax here, I don't necessarily wane in the Twitterverse. Since today's going to be a busy day for me, here's some little reruns of my alleged wit and wisdom from the past week

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Michael Moore, Where Are You When We Need You?

     Remember toward the end of Bowling for Columbine when Michael Moore and several of the victims of the Columbine shooting lobbied for K-Mart to cease their sale of bullets? We need him to do this to Wal-Mart and to tell them to cease the sale of ammunition and guns.
     As a result of the Newtown massacre in which 20 children aged 6 and 7 were killed as well as eight adults, Wal-Mart pulled the sale of the .223 M4 Bushmaster (aka the AR 15), the same gun that murdered most of if not all those people. That was a good start but Wal-Mart still sells many other rifles (including these lethal semi-auto jobs), shotguns and sidearms plus a full complement of ammunition. This article by The Nation was an eye-opener for me. I never realized that, as a result of them ramping up gun sales a few years ago, that Wally World is now the #1 retailer of firearms and ammunition in the country.
     Wal-Mart has absolutely no intention of actually kinking a huge revenue stream for them, which is why they pulled only the AR15 Bushmaster while leaving so many attractive alternatives in their inventory throughout nearly 4000 stores. And it's fallacious to assume that the .223 Bushmaster has been involved in so many high profile mass murders and spree killings over the last decade while absolving Wal-Mart, the leading ammunition and arms dealer in the country, of any responsibility for its immense popularity.
     The "AR" in AR 15, in case you don't know, stands for "Assault Rifle." It's made to be used in urban pacification and combat situations (such as when you see a suspicious black teenager carrying junk food). It's useless even for hunting, since semi-autos for many years have been banned for that purpose.
     And, while Wally World's very marginal efforts at decorum and political correctness are to be lauded, it ought to be mentioned whatever they don't sell, Melvin's Gun Emporium and his competitors will be more than happy to step into the breach and pick up the slack.
     "Gun control." Let's all repeat it enough times, especially to our elected officials, until it actually becomes a reality. Because other nations have noticed how fucked up our priorities are. And it's getting awfully embarrassing having to explain to other nations why we allow people to buy up to $100,000 or more of ammunition, plus an arsenal of four dozen guns while the rest of us have to sign federal documents (even online) when we want to buy pseudoephedrine, which is rationed out to us at 3.6 grams a day just in case we're operating meth labs (through, believe it or not, an amendment of the USA PATRIOT Act, which places no such prohibitions on the sale of firearms, ammunition or to whom. The federal government is also prohibited from tracking the sale of arms. Stick that in your breach and fire it for the 4th of July.).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cowards and Morons

     The Newtown shooting last Friday morning is virtually unique in American history not only because it's, by far, the worst elementary school shooting of all time but because the usual gun nuts have gone into hiding. The Sandy Hook massacre apparently is proving to be the tipping point that's going to force a meaningful debate on gun control, one in which our president, who has never once uttered the words "gun" and "control" in the same sentence, will be taking point. Even if the 2nd amendment and its misinformed proponents have discovered "the better part of valor", that doesn't mean teh stupid has taken time off for the holidays.
     The lead picture was found on Twitter and has got to be the most bone-headed bad ad of the year. It appeared in a South Carolina newspaper, the Rock Hill Herald, right next to their story about the mass shooting in Newtown, CT in which 20 children, aged six and seven, and seven adults were killed by multiple gunshots. The paper has since issued an apology by explaining that the massive ad was submitted days before the Newtown shooting. However, the paper failed to explain how, especially since it takes up more space than the story of the shooting itself, this horrifying juxtaposition could've gotten past the layout editor and several other editors.
     And then there's the wide streak of yellow that we're seeing from the very people who contribute to mass killings such as Newtown's. The NRA had taken down its own Facebook page last Friday night about 10 hours after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and their Twitter account has remained completely silent since that day.
     And, in the ultimate, but hardly surprising, act of political cowardice, 31 pro-gun senators were invited on Meet the Press so they could defend their positions on gun control and every single one of them took a pass on meeting the press simply and purely out of political expediency. No doubt, every one of those presumed Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats harumphed and cited scheduling conflicts or some such bullshit or just hid under their desks at home. To quote Reciprocity Failure's Stan Banos, who probably has the quote of the day,
These cowardly sons of bitches, these so called "leaders" fight over themselves each and every election year to be the first in line for the blood money these merchants of death bestow upon them- and now they scurry and hide when confronted with the inevitable consequences. For these are not the children of the streets of the inner city, these are not children from the backwoods of our nation's trailer parks, they are not from a pacifist, politically irrelevant margin of American society, they are not even the average Joe's of the forgotten middle class. These are children from the families who look and dress and live like them, who drive the same cars as them, and live in the same neighborhoods. These are the children of families who can still afford, and demand The American Dream. This blood may well come with a price.
And now, instead of confidently remaining silent till FOX and business as usual have paved the way clear of those who mourn and grieve and ask how many more- now they hide and cower.
     But to get back to teh stupid for a moment, it's not surprising that bald-headed goon Louie Gohmert, newly reelected congressman from the great state of Texas, had absolutely no problem appearing in the safe, dark cloisters of Fox "News" to say he "wish(ed) to God" the late principal, Dawn Hochsprung, had an M4 in her closet like the one used on them.
     Because, as any right-thinking Republican-American should know, guns belong in our nation's classrooms and this is what the GOP wet dream of American education should look like:
     Here's a suggestion: If and when Dianne Feinstein starts this dialogue on gun control at the start of the 113th Congress, let's lock Louie Gohmert in a closet of his own so the grownups can start negotiating some actual gun control laws. For good measure, provided he hasn't gained back too much weight, let's also lock in with him Mike Huckabee so the two of them can pray for the marbles they lost way back when.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's Coming Up on Christmas...

I'm so hard to handle
I'm selfish and I'm sad
Now I've gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
I wish I had a river I could skate away on.

               -Joni Mitchell, "River"

     Far be it for me to indulge in self pity.
     No doubt my various anonymous critics, especially a certain stalker who shall remain nameless and whom I'd long ago chosen to ignore, someone who'd named himself after the alter ego of a cartoon character from King of the Hill, would laugh at that then rush off a comment that anyone else with two neurons to rub together would know will be neither posted nor read. But it's true.
     It's one thing to wallow in self pity without trying to do anything to reverse bad luck and another to simply enumerate a seemingly endless parade of misfortunes and to remark on how unjust it is to invariably visit such misfortunes, and in such large numbers, on one person who all his life just tried to play by the rules.
     And it's never been in my nature to ignore things that are happening, especially in my own life. If it was, I'd be completely worthless as a blogger and as a writer.
     Mrs. JP would recognize the lead image. It's the Assabet River that runs through much of central Massachusetts and when the weather was warmer we'd often take after dinner walks down Main Street along the bike trail and then stand at the guardrail and look for the local fauna such as raccoons, turtles, woodchucks and the admirably eclectic variety of birds we have.
     And this is about her, a woman who in many ways is the best thing that ever happened to me. If you ever read my post from earlier this month, you'll know that it had been decided (behind my back) that Barb would be summoned to her mother's home in Vero Beach. The assumption is that this may be her mother's last Christmas and her older sister scraped together just enough money to get her down there with only a vague promise they'll have the necessary funds to send her back to me. I was put in the absurd position of putting my fiancee on a plane at TF Green airport in Warwick, Rhode Island without any guarantee of getting her back.
     I've been struggling to balance her family's needs with that of my own. They'd effortlessly operated under the assumption that their needs, especially that of their matriarch, were infinitely greater than mine and ours. It's a kind of institutionalized selfishness and solipsism that always seems to be self-dealt by others yet intolerable if I ever tried it. The fact that I'm estranged from my own family seems to strengthen the assumption that every other family's needs are greater than my own. After all, I'd lived under that faux in law yoke for over 15 years.
     My holidays have been completely ruined by this family crisis, a family into which I've yet to marry and likely never will unless someone finally shows some sense and gives me a decent-paying job. It's unclear at this point how many sacrifices they seem to think I owe them when, as always, all I ever tried to do was the right things by Barb and her family.
     So, in nine days, I'll wake up alone on Christmas morning with nothing but a surly cat. There will be no presents under the tree because there won't be a tree. What would be the point? There will be no Christmas dinner of pork loin, no bottle of Riesling white wine, no putting up of pictures of Barb and Popeye opening their presents. There will be no Chinese dinner on New Year's Eve, a Massachusetts tradition, no watching the fireworks from one place or another on our laptops, no bubbly at the stroke of midnight, no kiss to bring in the New Year.
     Once again, I'm struggling to put things in perspective. We're talking about what appears to be a terminal illness and a very poor prognosis. But it's always something, something that outranks my own troubles and needs and expectations. They'd been planning this for a week and no one, not even Barb, let on what may happen this month while we continued making our plans for the holidays.
     But it's difficult to be philosophical about having your entire holidays and then some ripped out from under your feet and having less than two days to adjust to that (her sister gave me the news exactly a week ago because Barb needed a ride to the airport. It was as if she was calling a cab). And if you're reading this with a sneer on your lips then perhaps you ought to supplant Scrooge in Dickens' Christmas novella. This sort of thing shouldn't happen to anyone. Everyone, in theory, deserves the chance to have a happy holiday.
     But it's not as if we don't have problems of our own. I recently shelled out over $200 to fix and make our 15 year-old car inspection-ready and I still got the sticker under certain conditions because I knew the mechanic. Even if I forgo getting presents for my boys and future daughter-in-law, we still will be short on the rent and, as stated a few days ago, I may not have a home to bring Barb back to. And if it comes to that, there's an excellent chance we'll never see each other again because I will have no choice but to tell her to stay there where it's warm and where she has shelter.
     I'd rather not make that preemptive final sacrifice. And, unless something breaks between now and early January, when Barb is slated to return, we'll be back where we are now in another month.
     If I was disposed to walk down the bike trail in this cold, inclement weather, as I used to do in 2009 while awaiting Barb's move from Vero Beach, and look at the harder, shallower Assabet River, maybe I'd dream of being able to skate away on it as in that Joni Mitchell song. I wish I could be with my baby for the holidays. I only have so much philosophy left in me, so many sacrifices left in the tank.
     She brought one of my laptops down with her. So, if you're reading this, baby, I'm sorry for making you feel bad about my being such a failure on every conceivable front when I led you to think over three and a half years ago that things would be more stable for us. I'm sorry for making you feel guilty about my anger at having my holidays ruined and given little time to adjust to that reality (at least you have the blessings of family these days).
     And I'm sorry there's a very real chance we may never see each other again. I was lucky as hell to get the place we have but when I got it, I had a small stash of money saved up and a job. I have neither now and if I lose our home that I'm fighting tooth and nail by myself to keep, there's zero chance of finding another. The way things are, I'd be lucky to find a shelter.
     But whatever you do on Christmas morning, whether or not we'll speak to each other, know through this open letter that I'm thinking of you and wishing I could just skate away from all our ongoing troubles and be in your arms again where I belong. I'm trying my best to keep us alive for another month, trying my damnedest to kick start my writing career and trying hardest of all to not succumb to impotent, self-defeating self-pity. We shouldn't be separated by 1533 miles yet we are and I'm sorry to run out of altruism, good cheer and philosophy at a time when it's most needed.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tears For Right Wing Fear

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

     When the President of the United States of America cries on national TV, that's a pretty good sign the nation is not having a good day.
     And just in case the "Neener Neener"-Obama Can Do No Right faction of the nation tries to make hay out of this, the president's tears yesterday were not John Boehner crocodile tears but those of a fellow parent who'd been devastated by the news of, by far, the worst elementary school shooting in all of American history. And that's how we ought to present this: Not, as the New York Times and others are labeling it, as "the second-worst school shooting" but the worst elementary school shooting in history, period.
      And perhaps the MSM could be forgiven for taking a pass on this one since they studiously refuse to join the too-long-delayed gun control dialogue aside from forgettable op-eds in the editorial section. As illustration of this, the MSM, true to form, got wrong the name of the Newtown, Connecticut shooter who'd murdered 27, including 20 small children. To ramp up the silliness factor, while openly speculating he may have been the parent of one of the children, they also listed his age at 20.
     To set the biographical facts straight, his name was Adam Lanza, not Ryan, and he had no children at that school or any others.
     With hideous timing typical of Republicans, on the same day as yesterday's shooting, the Michigan state senate approved a measure that would allow concealed permits for, among other people, teachers who may want to pack heat in schools.
     The problem with that, of course, is the three guns (Sig Sauer and Glock handguns plus a .223 Bushmaster M4 carbine, a semi-automatic assault rifle commonly used by our troops in Afghanistan) that Adam Lanza used to murder 27 innocents were owned by his mother, Nancy, who'd allegedly worked at the Sandy Hook school. As a warmup, Lanza murdered his own mother before marching to the elementary school and began his own impersonation of Anders Breivik.
     And what's missing from both sides of the one-sided debate about gun control is the motivation(s) of these gunmen and is there a possibility they could be inspired by or competing with one another?
     One would have to be a basement-dwelling, shopping cart-pushing conspiracy theorist to even suggest these men that have slaughtered dozens upon dozens of innocents personally knew each other through a secret website or were part of the MK ULTRA program. But this is the age of digital media, of increasingly endemic social networking sites in which many of us know what our friends had for dinner and what movie they watched last night. Lanza, who'd had the courtesy to eventually commit suicide, had a Facebook page. Radcliffe Haughton, the Brookfield mall shooter in Wisconsin, had a Linkedin page and Anders Breivik, at the very least, knew about Atlas Shrugged's Pam Gellar, who put up a letter by Breivik only to hastily take it down after the Norway massacre. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter from 2007, sent a package to NBC news mentioning Harris and Klebold, the Columbine shooters.
     So is it really beyond the realm of possibility that these social maladroits at the very least knew of each other if not each other personally and are involved in some collectively lone competition to outdo one another?
     We'll likely never know unless one survives and spills the beans. Breivik and James Moore, the Aurora, CO theater shooter, are rarities among these 2012 spree killers in that they survived. Most, like Lanza, turn their guns on themselves or commit suicide-by-cop before they can be questioned. Whatever their motives, whether idiosyncratic or shared, one fact is screamingly obvious: The answer to preventing these often random and wanton slaughters is not more guns, as the NRA and the right wingers who pimp for them would tell you, it's less.
     Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, hours after the Aurora theater shooting, refloated the increasingly silly hypothesis (aside from the one blaming the shootings on bans on school prayer) that if more people in that theater had been packing heat that maybe the casualties could've been reduced. Let's set aside for a minute the absurdity of random people pulling out their guns and aiming at a black-clad man in a dark theater with children in attendance and apply that "hypothesis" to an even more chilling scenario: Teachers pulling handguns out of their desk drawers and aiming at a gunman with many, many more children in attendance.

     The president's tears at his presser yesterday were appreciated by those of us who know he was speaking not as our president but as a parent of two children himself. But Mr. Obama needs to back up those tears by entering the angels' side of the debate on gun control that he'd studiously avoided during his first term.

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  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
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