Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Obama's Impersonal War

The 2013 Hypocrisy Oscars


by Paul Buchheit Published on Monday, February 25, 2013 by Common Dreams

The best actors in America are the business and government leaders who impersonate job creators and makers of prosperity. For their stellar performances over the past year, they deserve to be considered for the special awards listed below.

Here are the nominees:


Facebook's Eduardo Saverin scored big-time, landing Mark Zuckerberg as a roommate at Harvard, using American resources to score billions in income, and then revoking his citizenship to avoid paying any taxes.

Thanks to a capital gains system that benefits the few over the many, the twenty richest Americans made more money in one year than the entire United States federal education budget.

Double score! Wall Street bankers responsible for the financial crash not only made it through another year without a single arrest, but they continued to score big bonuses for their criminal behavior.

The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs who are determined to cut Social Security built up their personal retirement funds to an average of $9 million each.


AIG threatened to sue the federal government for its own bailout (because other companies got more money).

Rachel Marsden: "If capitalism is perceived to not be working in's because the system isn't capitalist enough."

Chicago Tribune: "Western-style private enterprise..will lead the world out of the mess it led the world into."


WEDDING TUX: Former Senator John Ensign (R-NV) said "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded." He later admitted that he had had an extramarital affair with a former campaign staffer.

MOTHER GOOSE MASK: Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) introduced a bill against child pornography and supported sex offender laws. Then he was caught sending sexual messages to underage male congressional pages.

PRO-LIFE GOWN: Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) said "All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life." It was later learned that he had encouraged both his lover and his wife to get abortions.

"I PAY TAXES" T-SHIRT: Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) stepped down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee after failing to pay income taxes. Later he said "Governor Romney should come clean about the tax returns he's hiding from voters."

EARTH DAY SUIT: Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. Utility bills for his 20-room Nashville mansion amounted to $30,000 in 2006.

DIOGENES TOGA: Former Sen. Pete Domenici kept secret that he fathered a child in the 1970s with the daughter of a Senate colleague. Then he voted to impeach Bill Clinton and was quoted as saying "Truthfulness is the first pillar of good character.."


An Apple executive: "We don't have an obligation to solve America's problems."

Honeywell CEO David Cote: "Zero." (When asked what the corporate tax rate should be.

Billionaire Kenneth Griffin: The wealthy "have an insufficient influence" on politics today.

Chicago Tribune: "What's so terrible about the infusion of so much money into the presidential campaign?"


Roger Rivard (R-WI): "Some girls rape easy."

Rick Santorum: "Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation."

Todd Akin (R-MO): "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Richard Mourdock (R-IN): "I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Rush Limbaugh on Sandra Fluke defending contraception: "It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute..She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception."

BEST SONG (and dance, to the tune of "Fix the Debt")

Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs: "You're going to have to do something, undoubtedly, to lower people's expectations of what they're going to get."

Billionaire Peter Peterson: "Without much broader sacrifice..we will never cure America's economic ills."


Charles Koch: "I want my fair share - and that's ALL of it."

CEO Ilana Weinstein about Wall Street bonus cutbacks: "It's a disaster."

The Heritage Foundation on the Financial Transaction Tax: "Thousands of high-paying jobs would leave the U.S."

An HSBC executive after laundering money through drug cartels: We are "profoundly sorry."


2012 was the best year ever: Poverty and Inequality Down.

-- This documentary skillfully looks beyond the fact that the almost half the people of the world - three billion people - live on less than $2.50 a day, with little change between 1981 and 2008. As for inequality, if China is excluded the global income gap has risen dramatically, even though inequality WITHIN China has risen steadily.

2. The Verizon Story

-- An overview of the popular company over the past five years. Verizon paid negative taxes from 2008 to 2010. A company spokesman said, "The fact is, Verizon fully complies with all tax laws and pays its fair share of taxes." Over approximately the same period, Verizon laid off 30,000 workers. Today, because of Verizon/AT&T market dominance, users in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Europe get much faster service at a much lower price. Verizon is one of the leading lobbyists in Washington, using its money and muscle to crush competition.

3. Sour Apple

-- Behind the scenes at the company with all our favorite gadgets. Apple got its tax bill down to 9.8% last year. About 2/3 of its profits remain overseas for tax avoidance purposes. For state avoidance purposes, the Cupertino, California company claims residence in Nevada. Apple claims to have added 500,000 jobs to the U.S. economy, but it only has 47,000 U.S. employees. It is estimated that the company makes $420,000 profit per employee while paying an average of $12 per hour for its store workers.


The JOBS Act: Removing Protections for Small Investors

Electricity Freedom Act: Repealing Renewable Energy Standards

Right To Work Act: Weakening Unions

Legacy Families: The Super-Rich


Rick Santorum: "One of the favorite tricks of the left [is] this politicization of science called manmade global warming."

Fox News: "Report: Global Warming Stopped 16 Years Ago."

Senator James Inhofe: "The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

BEST PRODUCTION (of Jobs in the Mind)

Michael Barone: "The iPod/Facebook generation [has] the means to find work and create careers that build on their own personal talents and interests."

Mitt Romney: "..borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business."

President Obama: "Over five million new jobs." He didn't mention the 4.3 million jobs that were lost after he became President.


Google screens profits by moving them through Ireland and the Netherlands and Bermuda, and then screens them again in U.S. banks to keep the money safe (although still untaxed).

American "Ultra High Net Worth Individuals" are using overseas tax havens to screen up to $750 billion of income every year.

Hedge fund managers screen their billions in Bermuda with a strategy called the "reinsurance company", which allow taxes to be deferred for years.


Mitt Romney: "I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in."


Nutrition classes being taught by Coca Cola and Hershey's

Foreclosure leader Wells Fargo sponsoring Habitat for Humanity

McDonalds sponsoring London Olympics 2012


Argo: Why Couldn't They Just Let Us Run Their Country In Peace?

Lincoln: Why Isn't Frederick Douglass in My Movie?

Django Rechained: When He's Picked Up at School in a Private Prison Drug Sweep

Zero Dot Thirty: The Percentage Of Accurate Drone Strikes

And THE WINNER IS... the Financial Industry.

Acceptance Speech:

I'd like to thank Congress and the SEC and the Glass-Steagall repealers and the ratings agencies and all my friends at the Federal Reserve, and everyone who came through the revolving door of my life.

And to you, America: You dislike me, you really dislike me!

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of " American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Oscar, Oscar, Oscar..."

     Apparently, a bunch of mostly white rich people got together in Hollywood again last night to pat eachother on the backs and give eachother bags o' goodies in the gifting suites that would feed a family of 5 for a decade. Oh, and the Onion hit a new low by calling a nine year-old black actress a cunt on Twitter and Seth MacFarlane set his career back about a decade. No doubt by now, Billy Crystal's been stop-lossed or IRR'd back into Oscar duty for the rest of his natural life. All that and Ben Affleck, beyond all rhyme or reason, is now considered a serious filmmaker again and he has the beard to prove it.
     Meanwhile, real life finds the will to go on, somehow, some way beyond the silver screen. Aren't we brave?
     The Republicans are so desperate for heroes and ideas I can perfectly imagine Rush Limbaugh and the establishment GOP latching on to Lincoln getting two Oscars and making it the main plank of their campaign platform for 2016.
     The uselessly liberal Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences somehow found the balls to repudiate torture by not recognizing Kate Bigelow this year and snubbing Zero Dark Thirty while the actual torture still goes on.
     Global warming still threatens to extinguish all human life on earth by 2050 unless we change our ways by yesterday and if that happens, we'd better find a way to safely watch movies under water. because as long as we're kept entertained, life isn't all that bad, huh?
     This is the part where I roll my eyes and wait for the blessed tsunami.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Wonderfully Elastic English Language

LANGUAGE, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure. - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

     If you're not a writer with a finely-developed sense of the actual definitions of words as you'd come to understand them decades back, it may not have dawned on you at just how much words have undergone atrocious etymological permutations thanks to government, social media and right wing pundits such as the Orwellian Frank Luntz.
     Every language, as its participating society changes, evolves with it and some amount of elasticity is to be expected and even encouraged so that language does not become brittle and inelastic. But there have been several words of late that have been hijacked and rogered for partisan purposes by right wing nut jobs in both Congress and churches as well as Tea Baggers. What follows below are the etymons of some of these perverted words and phrases followed by my interpretation on the new definitions.

Patriot, n. A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
Patriot, n. An exceptional individual struggling to escape the tyranny of health care, a cleaner, healthier environment and a social safety net by taking up arms against the most powerful government on earth in the interests of secession. A Civil War holdover. (See dodger, Tax.)

Exceptionalism, n. The condition of being exceptional; uniqueness.
Exceptionalism, n. The Objectivist Randian philosophy that every man is better off on his own and left to his devices while hatching schemes of villainous enterprise against the helpless and unsuspecting (See War, Iraq)

Tax, n. A sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.
Tax, n.  Legalized theft of a Republic imposed on those who apparently don't like Social Security, Medicare, roads, bridges, police and fire departments, a national defense and other frivolous usages. A plague avoided at all costs by dozens of corporations.

Entitlement, n. The right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation.
Entitlement, n. The audacious expectation of guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation that's already been paid for with stolen funds (see Tax).

Capitalism, n. An economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
Capitalism, n. An economic system in which investment is obsolete, in which pensions are either nonexistent or stolen, labor outsourced to predatory contractors of third world countries and the economic divide between rich and poor is constantly stretched; A spectator sport for the poor who are slowly poisoned by the concessions; White collar predation; Darwinism with an MBA.

Journalism, n. The occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business; The first draft of history.
Journalism, n. The first draft of unofficial war declarations and advertising, as evidenced by the growing amount of air time being sold in lieu of actual journalistic content. The act of acquiescing to the government's every whim in a semi-literary fashion (See Stenographer, Amanuensis, Democracy, Lapdogs of) 

Republican, n. A member of the Republican Party; Formerly, a moderate to radical liberal.
Republican, n. A member of the Republican Party. Currently, a racist, misogynistic, subversive and seditious anti science Bible banger (see Patriot).

Democrat, n. A member of the Democratic Party. Formerly, a moderate to radical conservative.
Democrat, n. A member of the Democratic Party. Currently, a moderate to radical conservative. (See Obama, Barack)

Friend, n. A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
Friend, v. used with object The act of attaching oneself to a person, usually a random stranger, on a social networking site regardless of the utter lack of affection or personal regard. Occasionally we even marry them.

Evolution, n. Change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.
Evolution, n. A word that has, ironically, undergone a pronounced devolution as is has now been relegated to a mere unproven theory currently on a par with Creationism (especially in the Bible Belt), which states that Mankind did not spring from organic matter but primitive Pla-Do molded in the hands of an unproven Sky Wizard. (See Bill, Mr.)

Thought of the Day

What's going on? Or do I have to say, "Heh, indeedy" or "Rock on" to get any responses around here?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Useful Idiots

     It's always mystified me, how right wing nut jobs with more car derelicts and washing machines in their front yards than blades of grass stubbornly cling to the delusion that trickle up and trickle down economics works. Because self-styled conservatives think, for want of a better word, in frames and when you compartmentalize your thinking in rigid frames, no force on earth can move you to rethink, reappraise or reform your mode of thinking.
     Since the Southern Strategy of 1972, poor southern voters were convinced by the criminals of the Nixon administration that whatever the liberals wanted was inherently evil and was akin to Socialism and Communism. Then when Reagan began his rise in 1980 (by kicking off his campaign with a dog whistle speech in Philadelphia, MS, where four civil rights workers were brutally murdered with virtual impunity), the divide created by Nixon and his henchmen was officially turned into a schism.
     It was Reagan, in the first year of his presidency, who'd dramatically lowered taxes on the wealthy by citing a theory pioneered by Milton Friedman and other acolytes in the Chicago School of Economics and that theory was called "Trickle Down Economics" (which his own Vice President George HW Bush called "Voodoo Economics").
     The whole idea was so patently absurd and arrogantly flew in the face of established economic history and theory that one who has more than two neurons to rub together is amazed that it had gained any traction ever, let alone still being a driving force behind Republican economic policy today. Essentially, Trickle Down Economics boils down to this:
     Let's make the "job creators" in this country so obscenely bloated that some of it is bound to trickle down into the waiting, gaping mouths of the proles like crumbs falling from the beard of Henry the 8th to his bowing and scraping servants. This is rife with lies: #1, when the wealthy get tax breaks, they simply sock the money away in an offshore account so that even the interest cannot be taxed. None of it gets trickled down. Another ridiculous fallacy is that everyone in the top 1% is a "job creator". This plainly doesn't apply to wealthy individuals like right wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, hedge fund and vulture fund managers in the financial sector and so many others.
     To sum it up, history over the last 32 years has taught those still willing to listen and learn that the post Reagan economy can be summed up thusly: It's not a trickle up system but a geyser and then there's the trickle down effect, minus the trickle.
     Under the fiscal cliff deal, the personal income tax rate on those making $425,000 or more has been capped at 39.6%, still well below the 90% it was set at during the Eisenhower administration. And even with a 5% increase on capital gains taxes, they're still capped at an absurdly low 20% with none of the loopholes (such as the stock option one that got Facebook a nice fat $429,000,000 refund courtesy of John and Jane Q. Public) even being addressed let alone closed. Plus, the much-ballyhooed Fiscal Cliff deal made the Bush tax cuts permanent for everyone not in the top 1%.
     Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still jockeying for position trying to claim credit for wanting to cut "entitlements" such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
     A quick look at the graph above will tell you when things really began to turn sour for the American worker. Usually, private earnings by the working class accounted for roughly half of the nation's GDP or Gross Domestic Product. After eight years of economic sodomy by the Bush administration and four years of largely do-nothing policies under Obama, it's fallen to under 47%. Note, also, that right around the nanosecond Bush took over the White House in 2001 at how dramatically workers' earnings began to diverge from corporate profits (which was recently reported to have skyrocketed by 18.6% or $1.75 trillion since 2011). After a dramatic dip in corporate profits and a middling increase in workers' wages the year Obama took over, corporate profits then skyrocketed again while workers' earnings began another slide downward.
     And still we keep hearing from the MSM and liberals alike that since the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now at over 14,000 and counting, the recovery is still well underway and we hear sarcastic kitchen table punditry from these same people about how Obama is the worst Socialist ever. But the plain fact is Obama's attitude toward industry and the banking industry is more in line with the fascists of 1930s and 1940's Germany than the Socialism of Karl Marx.
     What these sneering, self-appointed pundits conveniently forget as they tweet, text and write content on their Apple iPads and iPhones is that those massive corporate profits have come at the expense of American jobs. American industry, as is well-known, had decided during the Bush years to ramp up individual profits by outsourcing and offshoring American manufacturing jobs overseas, making America "a nation of shopkeepers," as Napoleon had once described the British. Corporate profits are also heavily indebted to the massive loopholes invariably friendly to private industry that have no problem headquartering either physically or on paper (such as Apple, which has tax-dodging subsidiaries in Ireland and is notorious for having Foxconn run their suicide-plagued sweatshops in China that "employ" children as young as 14) at the same time they have their expensive products made by Chinese slave labor.
     The American worker has been getting the shaft, often without lube, and those of us who are still employed are treated to a regimen of hatred, scorn, suspicion and outright cruelty by corporate titans and small business owners alike who are showing their true colors thanks to a permanently high unemployment rate. In seemingly impunitive violation of labor and workplace safety laws, corporate behemoths such as Amazon, Wal-Mart and other pathologically grasping corporations determined the squeeze the last bit of work and use out of their workers are allowed to roll back worker rights to the days of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and before that while the Obama administration turns a blind eye.
     What media and liberal pundits also forget is that there is no longer a single economy uniting Wall Street and Main Street: Since the repeal of Glass Steagall, the FDR-era law that forbade traditional bankers from risky speculation, the economy of the United States has been neatly bifurcated so that you have Wall Street and its ocean of capital and then the boarded up shops of Main Street that used to employ local labor until the metastasizing of Big Box stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Home Depot.
     And the bankruptcy laws have been designed to always favor corporations and not individuals who didn't tend to get into financial trouble with risking speculation and gambling away other peoples' money. When Congress (led by Vice President and then Senator Joe Biden, a man who never met a corporation he or his adopted state of Delaware didn't want to incorporate) passed the despicable and sarcastically-named Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, it made it virtually impossible for private individuals to file for bankruptcy protection while doing absolutely nothing whatsoever in the way of closing those loopholes for corporations whose white collar crimes had caught up to them.
     Hostess executives nakedly stole pensions that workers had been kicking into for decades, put them all out of work after submitting to the unions a "proposal" they knew the union wouldn't accept then closed up shop and parted out the company to the highest bidder. It's beyond obvious that Hostess executives wanted to cash in their chips and never had the slightest intention of keeping those people employed.
     And when other American corporations decide to lay off their labor force and farm out the same jobs at starvation wages to Third World countries such as the Philippines or Bangladesh, we have our intelligence and pragmatism insulted by them insisting that, even when the outsourcing occurs during a time of record profits, they have to do so to "remain competitive."
     It's screamingly obvious at 300 decibels that neither party of the government and private industry harbors the slightest iota love for the American worker that had made both great for two centuries. We live in an environment in which the organized labor movement, while it may not be on life support, is certainly wheezing. Criminally disingenuous corporations insist workers forfeit benefits, lose their pensions, take pay and hour cuts or face the consequences. And the defanged labor unions either have to capitulate to save jobs that never should be endangered to begin with or face the audacious scorn of anti-union conservatives as with the Hostess debacle. As if they actually care about American jobs beyond their own.
     Homemade conservatives can be defined in two words: Useful idiots. Because they've been conditioned to think that whatever liberals want for everybody is pure evil and is Socialism and Communism, that they just want to tax everyone to death and take money out of their pockets. These memes are whispered in the ears of these goobers by the same multinational, multibillion dollar companies who put their wives, brothers, offspring or even themselves out of work. The Tea Bagger movement, as many of us know, is a not a grassroots movement at all but one funded from the start by the Koch Brothers, Dick Armey's Freedom Works and ALEC.
     And now that we're having our first serious debate about the minimum wage for the first time since Congress and Bush administration grudgingly raised it for the first time since Reagan, we're hearing the same bullshit from lobbyists, Republicans and other useful idiots about how incrementally raising the minimum wage to $9 by 2015, by which time the Consumer Price Index will have risen by 9-12% and essentially turn that $9 ph into today's $7.25 ph, will spell the doom for private industry and how it will have no choice but to outsource more American jobs to sweatshop countries. The tepid "reforms" of ObamaCare are being blamed by these same grasping sociopaths for laying off and cutting the wages and hours of their workforce.
     As Occupy Wall Street taught us last year and the year before that, such selfish-based thinking is not only institutionalized but viciously and arrogantly defended by police departments who themselves had had their pensions stolen or siphoned by the same Wall Street oligarchs whose interests they protect. There is simply no way out of this mess short of an asteroid the size of Texas hitting the earth and bringing about an extinction level event.
     Because as long as corporations are allowed to own everything and exert so much unchallenged power over the lives of rank and file human beings, as long as we keep the current political systems in place on this planet, nothing will ever change this corrupt system that refuses to even sacrifice one crumb to the waiting masses below them.
     The human race is, to put it simply, too stupid and greedy for planetary stewardship.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Stupidest Staff in Congress

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
     Lawrence O'Donnell pretty much covered this well with his usual cheerful nastiness. To recap, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's staff sent a letter to the DoD asking for clarification on a story they'd supposedly read about GI Bill benefits being given to detainees at Gitmo. The story was just that: a piece of satire on the well-known Duffel Blog, "the military version of the Onion."
     After making merry with it for about 6 or 7 minutes, O'Donnell then gets serious and makes a good point: The latter day Republican Party has been wrenched so far to the right by the Tea Baggers that what would've been considered a terminable offense 20 years ago, in this case the political version of the Darwin Awards in mistaking satire for reality (as if that's never happened before in Republican circles), is nowadays de rigueur. The McConnell staff letter betrays the same paranoid, frothing-at-the-mouth hatred for the government that we saw three and a half years ago at Democratic Town Halls during the health care reform debate.
     It really doesn't matter to staffers of Republican leaders such as McConnell what the facts are and vetting stories, no matter how over-the-top they are, seems to be an irksome proposition to these people. In a way, Republicans and their Tea Bagger staffers are like the white collar version of terrorist suicide bombers: Their own incendiary initiatives will surely cost them dearly and they may not even be successful at taking out their targets but by God, they're going to try, anyway, and the consequences be damned.
     There's no longer any correlation between taxpayer dollars and an expectation of any competence from government, no longer any concern that many people now working for the government are unworthy of taxpayer dollars. According to O'Donnell's much more competent staff, the person who likely wrote that memo to the Department of Defense had just graduated from college last year, which is to say mere months ago.
     It brings to mind the 24 year-old moron and college dropout that George W. Bush installed at NASA to censor the reports of actual scientists. In Republican circles, there's no attempt to vet the people whose job it would be to vet and all you have to do is lie about your college credentials to get a job in the corridors of government power.
     And it isn't the hoaxes that conspiracy-minded Republicans that we should be paying attention to: It's the hoaxes perpetrated on the American taxpayer for being duped time and again into paying the salaries of these morons and lunatics, these self-loathing bureaucrats who hate the truth and facts so much that unvetted fabrications are preferable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hump Day Open Thread

Minimum wage to $9 by 2015, whoo hoo. Oh nos, Obama playing golf with Tiger (and two oil executives)! Simpson and Bowles came back like a pair of herpes sores and this time they wanna make sure you never get laid again. John McCain is still screaming for the truth, facts and sanity itself to get off his lawn. Donald Trump is suing a penniless blogger for $25,000,000 he desperately needs for showing the world what a failed, busted GOP penile implant he truly is. 2000 Americans have died from guns since Sandy Hook and that's the way it should be. And oh, look, a boy in a shiny balloon!

Reading the news these days is like going to an all you can eat buffet at a soup kitchen. The spread is certainly, well, spready but the offerings suck. I guess Wolf Blitzer and his beard never got the memo that neither's been relevant since the day Bush stumbled out of office over four years ago. Rachel Maddow and her strap on has for a while now been rogering Fox "News" and owns the future. People are finally waking up and realizing that they've had an Elephant Man's bag placed over their heads and have been lied to by partisan pimps masquerading as journalists and beating us with their clothes hanger pimp sticks.

So these are just some of the news items for you to listlessly chew over while the real stories get ignored this Hump Day..

Oh, and speaking of Hump Day, try this on for size, courtesy of Lee Camp.

Yep, that about covers it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

If He Hollers, Don’t Let Him Go

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

The only way the American Negro will ever be able to participate in the American way of life is by a series of acts of violence-it’s tragic, but it’s true.” – African American author Chester Himes

The white spectators were fortunate that there were no blacks among them, despite the accidental casualties, for had these irate, nervous cops spied a black face in their midst there was no calculating the number of whites who would have been killed by them accidentally.” – Chester Himes, “Prediction”

            Chester Himes, one of America’s greatest authors of the 20th century, can be considered a prophet if the definition of a prophet is the ability of one to survey the lay of the land and predict trends or even to just latch on to certain behaviors that renew themselves decade after decade.
            In 1969, Himes had published a neglected short story, a gory affair entitled, “Prediction”, which was about a black sniper who takes on 6000 invariably white cops in a parade designed to show racial unity in an eponymous American city. To anyone who follows true crime in 20th century America, it seemed to presage the week-long massacre that took place in New Orleans a little over two years after the publication of “Prediction” at the hands of Navy veteran Mark Essex. In early 1972, Essex shot several officers and civilians and he’d single-handedly held the NOPD and a military chopper at bay for several hours before exposing himself to over 200 rounds. Nowadays, it would be considered an act of terrorism.
           The narrative the press and authorities had given is that Essex was some loonie black militant without seemingly exploring the reason for his racially-motivated rage (he’d allowed three African American chambermaids at the Howard Johnson Hotel to leave, explaining he was there to kill only white people). But the fact was, Essex was sick and tired of the racial prejudice permeating the military and the Navy in particular as was fellow Navy veteran Christopher Dorner. Both men put on uniforms in racially polarized environments while naïvely expecting their competence alone would give them a fair shake.
            Dorner wasn’t any more a black militant than the San Bernadino Sheriff’s Department that plainly gave the order to burn down the cabin into which he’d holed himself. Police band chatter betrays sheriff’s deputies calling for the “burners” the press had been told were mere tear gas canisters (as we were told after Waco) and had indisputably made the decision to watch the cabin burn without the intervention of the Fire Department until Dorner died. It was an execution, plain and simple. As Samuel L. Jackson said at the end of Die Hard 3, "Fuck him, let him cook."
            Both rampages were fueled by an incendiary hatred toward police officers and Dorner’s was necessarily one nurtured as an insider. And when these self-styled vigilantes murder innocents, as Essex surely did and which Dorner allegedly had, it’s impossible for any but the most misguided bleeding heart liberal to see beyond that and vilify the person, even commending the pertinent police departments for a job well done.
            But in both cases, there was no serious examination into the provenance of such racially-motivated hatred and no one who wants to keep their job in the mainstream media will ever publicly opine that such racially motivated hatred is not self-sustaining and self-conceived but a reaction to entrenched bigotries and hatred that was established and institutionalized long before Christopher Dorner or Mark Essex were even born.
            What distinguishes the Dorner case is that the press was held at bay so as not to give the gunman a strategic advantage by monitoring law enforcement’s movements outside. That makes for a very convenient excuse and one has to read the news accounts very thoroughly to hit upon the realization that the cabin in which Dorner had made his last stand had neither television, a phone line or internet access. And during the final siege before the order to torch the cabin I think it can be posited that Dorner was too busy fighting off law enforcement that was there to kill and not arrest him to be checking up on himself with a smart phone. Essentially, the ruse worked because the MSM, after a simple request from the LAPD that had no jurisdiction at Big Bear, fell down like parishioners at a Benny Hinn revival and did their bidding.

The Angry Black Man is Coming to Get You
            One of the most fearsome stereotypes of White America is the meme of the Angry Black Man. The genetically racist right wing tried that tack in 2008 during Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign and failed miserably with it. It’s a virtually atavistic fear going back to the Amistad uprising, Nat Turner’s rebellion and Rosewood all the way down to the Rodney King riots just over 20 years ago. And underpinning this fear is guilt and insecurity because African Americans will learn and never forget the history of their forbears. It’s a macroscopic version of a father who molested his child when they were still very young and innately knowing the day of reckoning will some day come.
            It’s always much easier to point the finger of blame at so-called black radicals who take innocent lives than it is to point it at white police officers and Naval personnel who anecdotally engage in racist behavior that results in occasional black rage. Racism has always been a part of the American psyche since the days of the earliest colonists and succeeding generations grow up believing it’s an inevitable fact of American life.
            We don’t know the name of Himes’ sniper, his background or the reason for his rage at white people, especially the police, and Himes didn’t think he needed context, as if black rage was also an unalterable fact of American life (and, for the time being and for a time to come, I fear, it is). But after reading “Prediction”, one gets the sense the onus for murdering innocent people will be squarely and exclusively placed on the sniper and his dead body just as it had on Essex and, most recently, Dorner.
            Forgotten was the fact that, in Dorner’s case, the LAPD was engaging in reckless vigilante behavior that only validated Dorner’s claims in his manifesto published on Facebook. Two small Asian women were shot by the LAPD and a white man driving a pickup that only very superficially resembled Dorner’s was also shot at. In fact, in Himes’ prescient short story, the urban police department began wildly shooting with a 20 mm cannon that took out 29 of their own officers and wounding another 117, not including civilians in the crowd.
            This is also another fact of modern day American life because, as with the rest of us, law enforcement in America responds to civilian opposition out of paranoia, hatred and a reckless frenzy that inevitably gets a free pass from their chiefs, sheriffs, commissioners, the mainstream media and, ultimately, the American public. As long as the bad guy gets it, the ends justify the means, especially if we the news consumers don’t lose anything in the process.
            The ineluctable revelation that one cannot help but take away from this latest police debacle is that A) Christopher Dorner never had a chance. There was one rule of engagement and that was terminate with extreme prejudice whether it be by bullets or blazes. Dorner, however briefly, placed a burning spotlight on the well-known racism of the LAPD and he knew too much. And too many people would've listened to him during a trial. B) No serious examination of the racial prejudice that resulted in Dorner’s jihad against the LAPD and San Bernadino Sheriff’s Dept. will ever be done, which in itself was perhaps the biggest overarching rationale behind Dorner's rampage. We all know how effectively the police police themselves and no possibility of racism, cover-ups or incompetence can even be hinted lest it causes public distrust and paranoid hatred to erupt into actual riots and rebellion. The only thing the LAPD consented to look at again was not his charges of racism against his fellow officers but the circumstances surrounding his dismissal, a revisit that obviously will let the original verdict stand.
            And, in our heavily-regulated and repressed country, it’s easy to understand if not actually endorse the mindset of those who were secretly or even openly cheering on Dorner because the seductiveness of the outlaw taking on a corrupt system is an irresistible one since the days of Robin Hood. That would be a very misguided endorsement as Dorner allegedly killed four innocent people.
            Yet another inevitable fact of American life, one that needs to change immediately before more innocents are slaughtered, is it’s easier to choke off accountability at the outlaw’s level and to not examine the institutionalized and viciously protected racial bigotry that makes impotent minority outrage explode into outright violence.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The News at a Furtive Glance

     Here at Pottersville, when the news breaks like a fart, we light it. What follows is some of more unusual, infuriating and downright hilarious news items from the last few days gleaned from Twitter and readers like you.

     Next time Mark Zuckerberg tries to charge you a dollar to send off an email on Facebook, think about this news item. Markie Mark and his merry band of tax dodgers are about to get a $429,000,000 tax break from We the People after a year in which Facebook took in over $1,000,000,000 in pure profit selling your personal information to corporations, thanks to a loophole in the stock option laws. Says Citizens for Tax Justice,
Of course, Facebook is not the only corporation that benefits from stock option tax breaks.  Many big corporations give their executives (and sometimes other employees) options to buy the company’s stock at a favorable price in the future. When those options are exercised, corporations can take a tax deduction for the difference between what the employees pay for the stock and what it’s worth (while employees report this difference as taxable wages).  On page 12 of our 2011 Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers report, we discuss how 185 other large, profitable companies have exploited the stock option loophole.
      Because the scumbag who stole the Facebook concept from Harvard University and screwed over his initial partners and made billions in the process through a crooked IPO that had the greasy fingerprints of Wall Street's biggest offenders all over it has to eat, too, you know. Otherwise, he'd have to charge you up to $4000 to get out one update to all your many followers.

     At the same time that came into my inbox, this arrived from the same source. It defies belief so I'll copy and paste the entire email below and let you judge for yourself how incredibly absurd this is.

The Guys at the Console: A New Medal for Sitting Around Killing Someone Thousands of Miles Away

     The Pentagon has created a new Distinguished Warfare Medal to be awarded to drone "pilots" and other cyber warriors who push a button in a building somewhere to target someone, often innocent, always unknown, many miles away, thus honoring for the first time what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called "the extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations." In an Orwellian twist, in military hierarchy the medal will rate above the Bronze Star, given for heroic acts performed under fire by those who are, like, actually there.
     Let's get one thing straight: I never, ever liked Leon Pannetta. He was just the latest in a series of career chair fillers that came in the toxic wake of Donald Rumsfeld, by far the worst Defense Secretary we've ever had (and that includes Dick Cheney). But the other seat warmers at the Pentagon have obviously forgotten what war is. When real veterans tell you it's Hell, that it sucks, listen to them. But war nonetheless occasionally makes heroes and not the ones manufactured as was Jessica Lynch. We give medals to real heroes who put their lives and bodies on the line and risk never seeing loved ones again for flag and country. We're not supposed to give medals to those who cower inside a fucking climate-controlled trailer in the Nevada desert and casually murder innocent men, women and children from 7000 miles away without once risking anything or being allowed to actually witness the consequences of their actions while playing the deadliest video game on earth. 
     OK, we all had our fun on Twitter and unread blogs with Marco Rubio's Watergate moment during his Hindenburg/Titanic rebuttal to the President's State of the Union Address a few nights ago. It's a bit discomforting to know that under the merciless electron microscope of social media, a clumsy moment on national television and a water bottle could seem to scuttle an elected official's presidential ambitions. Abe Lincoln suffered from depression, FDR was disabled, Jack Kennedy had Addison's disease, Reagan plainly had Alzheimer's at least in his second term. None of us are perfect.
     Rubio's deer-in-the-headlights moment should've been an unintentionally humorous one and then we should've moved on. Speaking on national television and following the biggest act on earth, the President of the United States of America, speaking to a single camera and under hot, blinding lights, cannot be easy even to a US Senator who makes speeches for a living.
     The real fault lies not with the new shining star of the Republican Party but with the Republican Party itself for pushing into center stage a guy who cannot avoid ridicule no matter what comes out of his mouth, a rube, if you'll pardon the unintentional pun, who plainly isn't fit for the national stage let alone the White House. Obama proved he was electable to the highest office in the land while he was also a freshman senator. Rubio hasn't and likely never will. The GOP deserves to be hit with the ridicule for pushing out into center stage a self-loathing buffoon who's dry in the mouth yet still wet behind the ears because they should've known damned good and well that, after Rubio and the words "Impeach" and "Repeal", they have absolutely nothing.

     From the self-exempting Rush Limbaugh School of Law Enforcement comes a law and order Alabama Republican who ran over two years ago on a law and order platform (while running for... Agriculture Commissioner?) was arrested for shoplifting at a Wal-Mart last October. Apparently, Dale Peterson went to use the bathroom then tried to walk through the checkout lines without paying for $40 worth of paper towels and beer. His story was that he forgot to pay (although it's hard to imagine how anyone could get in the habit of walking through checkout lines without paying for unbagged and unstamped items) and he, of course, blamed the same thugs and criminals he used as planks in his disastrous campaign platform for the news leaking out.
     Typical Republican. It may or may not be proven that he actually tried to shoplift a paltry $40 worth of items but stop blaming the press and partisan politics every time something of this nature makes the news. Considering he finished third for a minor state office in a field of three over two years ago, it's doubtful anyone considers him important enough for a hit job over an incident that happened nearly six months ago.

     Angry old white men don't just shoot innocent people as they have this past winter. Sometimes they content themselves to merely slap black babies while saying to the mother, “shut that nigger baby up.
     Take the remarkable case of 60 year-old Joe Rickey Hundley, a high-ranking executive of an Idaho aeronautics company. Hundley, who was plastered when he first boarded the plane, was complaining that little Jonah was too big to be a lap baby. The toddler's mother, who was seated next to Hundley, claimed that her baby's assailant told her to "shut that nigger baby up" then slapped the child, leaving a cut under one of his eyes. The FBI arrested him and of course, despite numerous witnesses, Hundley's pleaded innocent (no doubt another lib'ral conspiracy dedicated to smearing the reputations of angry, white, privileged, racist old males).
     Oh, and this isn't the first time he's been charged with assault. He was charged in 2007 for assaulting his girlfriend with a wine corkscrew.

Patriotic American Ted Nugent Shit His Pants to Avoid the Draft
     You probably heard about the still totally relevant Ted Nugent being invited to the President's State of the Union Address. That would be the same pantsloaded, genetic misfire who'd threatened the life of the President by screaming, "Suck on my machine gun!" Well, getting invited to the SOTU takes some pull from someone on the inside and right about now you're probably wondering, "What walking brain stem thought it would be a good idea to invite an elderly yahoo of a hasbeen such as Ted Nugent to the State of the Union Address?" Well, wonder no more because Hunter at DKos has the inside scoop.
     You have Texas Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Of Course) to thank for that unimaginable brain fart. Stockman, a man who's stupid, ignorant and crazy enough to make Michele Bachmann look like Margaret Meade by conspicuous relief, thought it would be a corker of an idea to invite to Washington DC and bring literally within shooting distance of the leader of the free world a draft-dodging child molester whose threats aimed at Mr. Obama were virulent enough to get a visit from the Secret Service. Not only that, Stockman recently called Nugent "a patriot." Because, you know, there's absolutely no degree of separation between a guy who shit his pants to get out of Vietnam and a colonial farmer who defended his newfound country with no military training at the risk of life and limb.
     Thanks to fucking morons like Stockman, who hopefully will once again get voted out after one term, we're literally one step away from States of the Union looking like this.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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