Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May Your Life Be Narrated by Sarah Palin

     There's a bumper sticker slogan that made the rounds a few years ago: "I want my life to be narrated by Morgan Freeman." There's something that's comforting about having one's mundane life functions chronicled by Mr. Freeman's smooth Southern baritone.
     "He wearily rises from his bed and begins the latest of countless treks to the bathroom. And he's going to make water regardless of what the Miss Daisys of the world say..."
     To me, the most vicious imprecation one can bestow upon any gun clutcher, homphobe, Teabagger and garden variety right wing nut job is to have Sarah Palin narrate their lives. Think about it: Every time one makes a misspelled sign demanding the gubmint take its hands off your Medicare, stalk a Little League baseball game with your semiauto or show up at the state capital protesting the ratification of gay marriage one would hear that semi-screech of an over-the-hill-cheerleader voice saying,
     "...and there he goes, by golly, boldly climbing the Denali of liberal opposition, onward, Christian soldier to refudiate the gay agenda's agenda to redefine marriage. Adam and Steve, beware, you betcha..."
     Maybe the half-full auditorium that heard Bible Spice redefine the Christian sacrament of baptism as a form of torture felt they could endure Palin within the mercifully brief time she was on the stage. But I defy any of them to have this Special Needs Klondike Queen narrate their every move until their own End of Days.
     Because Sarah Palin is that Church Lady that just won't go away, good only for squeezing out a few extra parishioners at the annual bake sale "("A free Derringer for the lucky one who buys the special banana bread"). The older she gets and the deeper she slides into obsolescence and obscurity, the less sense she makes. An MRI would reveal Sarah Palin's brain now resembles a Scrabble game nuked by a neutron bomb, the letters intact but jumbled beyond any intellectual parsing and irradiated with terminal stupidity.
     Or, as the inimitable TBogg put it in his bassetty best snark, "Sarah Palin is ‘this close’ to doing face-painting for tips at your next garage sale."

      But let us not scorn the half term/half wit Governor for getting rich and living the life of Reilly off her Super PAC, even though its deluded donors still hold out faint hopes that Palin will one day throw her jester's cap in the ring. Let us not call to bury her and abridge her first amendment rights because, after all, this is still America and in this glorious Socialist Age of Obama, we still enjoy the appearance of freedom of speech.
     Because if Sarah Palin didn't exist then the Teabagger Powers That Be would've had to invent her, some garbler of words who does with the English language what Jack the Ripper did to East End prostitutes. Someone has to throw the red meat to the masses because, after all, everyone needs a spokesman and if your interests aren't reflected in your elected officials, then we have to prop up our own leaders as little girls stage and position stuffed animals at their own tea parties (or what Mitt Romney calls "Cabinet meetings" with his grandchildren's stuffed animals in La Jolla).
     Except this one particular fluff-headed participant is like a Teddy Ruxpin with the original tape removed and replaced with right wing talking points after being run through a blender.
     And the stupid is there, the demand for people like Palin is there, riotously flinging their money (albeit in smaller and smaller numbers) begging to buy the fear that is all the neo-fascist movement in this country has to sell. They want to be told that Obama is coming for their guns, although he hasn't made a single move to do that in going on five and a half years in office, they want to be told that census takers are just advance scouts for concentration camps and that Hannibal Lecter had the right idea all along by eating one, that fluoridated water, energy-efficient light bulbs and vaccinations are evil, eviiiil, and that the Founding Fathers named the Executive Mansion "the White House" because they never meant for a black man to get elected President.
     And if the NRA's recently-concluded convention showed us anything, it's that they're dedicated believers in Sharron Angle's "second amendment remedies", the panacea for all our liberal ills ranging from gay marriage to the anonymous "haters" who audaciously put at a higher premium keeping their children alive than guns and ammo profits.
     And Sarah Palin proved, to the rue of conservative Christians, that nothing is too sacred to be weaponized in the name of hatred and paranoia, an inexplicable state of mind shared by many who own all the guns and keep electing rich, white Republican men to represent them.
     And to them I say, may Sarah Palin narrate your every move all 8760 hours a year.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/29/14

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Jackass City

      After the Hank Aaron backlash, Cliven Bundy and now Donald Sterling, it makes me realize that maybe Dr. King's legacy was ultimately a failure and we're just one Act of Congress away from nationwide racial apartheid that the Koch brothers, ALEC and the state Senate had already seriously considered implementing in one North Carolina school district.
     And, as if that wasn't enough to sour you on this country of ours, check out this ABC video from four years ago and then tell me if charges of racial profiling are exaggerated (Tip o' the tinfoil hat to constant reader CC).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Not So Great White Hope

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

"And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton..." - Cliven Bundy
"Slavery is such an ugly word..." - Stuart Best, Murphy Brown, from his special interest position paper

     Perhaps, when he was growing up in the Nevada desert back in the 50's, Cliven Bundy had always dreamed about being a cowboy. And, to look at him now, with his Bushian pretensions and personal fortune he's made in the cattle business, it would seem as if he'd succeeded in realizing his boyhood dream. But between then and now, something very wrong happened and Cliven Bundy became not so much a cowboy but a pirate.
     It would seem that Bundy doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. By an Executive Order, the right wing's patron saint, Ronald Reagan, indefinitely extended grazing fees that would include Bundy. The Nevada state constitution by which Bundy swears in defiance of the US Constitutions explicitly states that federal law trumps all others, including the Nevada state constitution. Cliven Bundy is a moocher, plain and simple. That's hardly up for debate.
     And you would think the government, which is owed $1.2 million in grazing fees going back to 1993, would do more than make a half-assed, half-hearted attempt to confiscate a small percentage of his cattle only to forget that possession is eight tenths of the law and to allow right wing militias to literally steal back Bundy's cattle right from under their noses.
     But this byline today isn't concerned about Bundy being a tax-dodging moocher but about his attitude toward those whom he claims are moochers: African Americans. And at the heart of this byline is a question that's always plagued me: Why are we so shocked, shocked to find racism in our midst when it rears its white, pointy head?
     It wasn't too long ago when, to our enduring horror, we'd heard the FAMiLY LEADER preamble which stated,
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
     You may remember that was signed in 2011 by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. This would be the same Republican Party that had refused, in 20 instances, to co-sign statements of support for a 2005 bill that formally apologized to lynching victims and their families and initially refused to assemble for a roll call vote so a quorum couldn't be assembled.

     This is the same party, incidentally, that (save for Tom Tancredo) refused to field their candidates for a debate hosted by the NAACP at their annual convention in 2007. There were eight no-shows out of nine. The Democrats, on the other hand, fielded all theirs.
     Long before Cliven Bundy rode out of the digital sunset into our living rooms, racists and other assorted bigots have been crawling out of the woodwork like termites from a freshly fumigated house. We were horrified beyond measure when we learned that Paula Deen and her brother Bubba used the "N" word and pulled off a plantation-themed wedding. We were horrified beyond measure when John Rocker inveighed against people of color in the New York subway in the 90's. We were horrified beyond measure when Michael Richards, in an inexplicable racist tirade, screamed the "N" word over and over again during a night club routine.
     So why are we so shocked beyond measure when Cliven Bundy says that "negroes" ought to be enslaved again picking cotton so they can stop sponging off the tax dollars not paid by guys like Bundy and fellow Mormon tax dodger Mitt Romney?

"Don't blame me. I've been dead since 1968."
     The backlash from Bundy's astoundingly racist invective, extreme even by establishment Republican standards, was predictable. It goes without saying the distancing from the right is rooted not so much as actual, legitimate outrage as it is concerns over incumbency and ratings. It certainly didn't get any better when Bundy doddered into CNN's trap yesterday afternoon alternately holding a boot and a dead calf and blaming the dead Rev. King and KKK-splainin' the slain civil rights leader did not do a good enough job in stopping people from gittin' all riled up an' uppity-like when privileged white racists like Bundy call for the return of cotton plantation slavery.
     But, as we've seen time and again when one or another strays like a Bundy cow, when the right wing withers and shrinks from someone who made a particularly toxic statement, it's rarely if ever because the message was so offensive: It's because they made it so damned obvious and, so close to a midterm... 

     ...the GOP can't afford that, considering how swimmingly their women and minority outreach campaign is going (let's not forget that one of Bundy's fine "patriots" in his Mouse That Roared army, a former Arizona sheriff, proudly admitted on national TV as having considered using women as human shields).
     But this strain of selfish racism is far from rare, existing only in sparse pockets here and there in Appalachia and the Midwest. It's always been infesting our country, presenting symptoms to the body politic and social that are allowed to remain invisible because, like the SCOTUS, we'd like to pretend racism no longer exists. Many liberals, ordinarily more enlightened and educated people, actually thought we'd ushered in a golden (or less white) new age of post-racism just because we elected our first African American Chief Executive.
     We blithely ignored the fact that gun sales skyrocketed after both elections and the paranoid right wing is still hysterical about Obama taking their tax dollars to feed his fellow "negroes" and their precious guns that 2nd Amendment gun-clutchers love more than the GOP does children or veterans. We were shocked beyond measure when Republicans began exchanging emails showing watermelon patches in front of the White House and Tea Bagger signs at rallies depicting the President as a monkey or an African witch doctor.
     What happened? We were supposed to be post-racial!
     Blithely, we chose to forget that 55,000,000 still voted against Barack Obama in 2008 and even more in 2012. I'm not saying every McCain or Romney voter was a racist but you can bet they were in full force at the polls during those two nights.
     Let's hope Bundy doesn't parlay this into a Duck Dynasty spin-off or that a literary agent will fling his body on his doorstep hoping to sign him to a Christine O'Donnell ghost-written book destined to sell in the hundreds. But let's stop pretending racism doesn't exist and, like Charlie Brown, always being astonished when the football of equality is snatched from under our foot.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/25/14

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Demotivational Thought of the Day

     ...because Lord knows multiculturalism is fast making these fine, white men a vanishing breed.

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/24/14

Sunday, April 20, 2014

One Weekend Jesus Would Love to Forget

     Meanwhile, as we speak, the President is indoctrinating children into the Socialist philosophy of boiled egg redistribution. Where will it end?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Railing Class
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on, loan from Ari.)
"This is 1888, isn’t it? I knew I was Jack. Hats off. I said Jack. I’m Jack, cunning Jack, quiet Jack. Jack’s my name. Jack whose sword never sleeps. Hats off I’m Jack, not the Good Shepherd, not the Prince of Peace. I’m Red Jack, Springheeled Jack, Saucy Jack, Jack from Hell, trade-name Jack the Ripper!" - Peter Barnes, The Ruling Class
or, You Get What You Don't Pay For

     We are all Jack Gurney, whether we like it or not.
     When Peter Barnes' The Ruling Class was made Great Britain's official entry at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, American politics, always a box of spiders just waiting to burst out, was about to become even nastier and tumultuous than it always has been. Nixon's and Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy was about to pay off big time for C.R.E.E.P. (Committee to Re-Elect the President) and Nixon was about to bury Eugene McCarthy George McGovern in one of the biggest and most humiliating landslides of all time. Liberalism was dead and Nixon was gleefully shaking his flaccid penis over its corpse after pissing all over it for the last four years.
     Then Watergate burst all over Washington like a popped, rancid boil. Its effects would last and reverberate throughout the Capitol and the entire nation for decades and every scandal both great and small, as if through an Act of Congress, had the suffix "-gate" attached to it in some sick political tribute to the most twisted and paranoid leader-freak since King Lear and Macbeth.
     But what Nixon would do, in recruiting the FBI, CIA and his own aides to spy on Democratic National headquarters, break into the Watergate Hotel and even Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office and the subsequent botched coverup, would prove to be a mere Brooks Brothers dress rehearsal for the high crimes and misdemeanors that would follow in the succeeding decades.
     Heinous as they were (as was Iran-Contra, the invasion of Iraq, etc), at least they were crimes with motives and carried out by evil men we could at least understand to some degree. Greed, paranoia, thirst for power: They were all timeless themes immortalized in plays by the Bard of Avon and before him.
     And speaking of plays, I now take you back to The Ruling Class.
     In that movie, the late Peter O'Toole played Jack Gurney, a plainly insane paranoid schizophrenic who had inherited a peerage after the last Earl of Gurney accidentally asphyxiates. At first, Jack seems to be a harmless kook (or what the landed gentry call "eccentric"), one who thinks he's Jesus Christ and insists he will return to Earth a la The Second Coming to spread the Messiah's message of peace and brotherhood. He even sleeps on a cross and, while he's certainly not up to the task of fulfilling his duties to the peerage, he seems nice enough.
     Then Jack convinces himself he's Jack the Ripper. An arranged marriage backfires and the body count rises when Jack murders not one but two women. Before anyone realizes it, Jack's in the House of Lords giving an impassionaed speech about the need for the death penalty and corporal punishment and his peers in the Upper Chamber raucously applaud his conservative sensibilities...
     ...all without once realizing or even suspecting the man they're applauding is hopelessly, irredeemably, incontrovertibly and absolutely quite insane.
     Let me know if this is beginning to sound uncomfortably familiar, striking too close to home like a stalker just under your 13 year-old daughter's bedroom window.

Kings of the Heartless
     Mark Twain once famously said that Congress was the "only distinctly native American criminal class" and our elected officials rarely give us any reason to believe otherwise. Physical assaults on the floor of the Senate were not unheard of, duels were fought and elections were so brazenly and nakedly corrupt that people were encouraged if not forced to vote several times a day. Politics in 19th century America was a snake pit.
     Then the 20th century dawned and politicians, if not made more honest, were at least recognizing the necessity of acting more genteel. However venal, corrupt or duplicitous they were, these men at least were those who knew how to get things done. Railroads were built, frontiers expanded, social programs enacted, infrastructure created and maintained and, despite the greasing of a million palms, shit still got done and we surpassed Great Britain as the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth.
     Then came Nixon but we survived him. Then came Reagan then his milksop Vice President George HW Bush and we survived them. Hell, we even survived his idiot son (barely). Then a funny thing began happening.
     The inmates were given the keys to their own cells and allowed to run the joint.
     I take you to World War One and the movie King of Hearts.
     As with The Ruling Class, this was a box office flop that would later reach cult status. While taking place during two times in history and in two different countries, if one were to combine or juxtapose the two elements one would see a pattern emerging in this country that seems to be metastasizing like a social cancer.
     In King of Hearts, the British army retreats from a small town in France, but they've left behind a nice little surprise for any advancing Jerries who may occupy the town: They leave behind a booby trap, an enormous bomb set somewhere in the small town. And the only person who can stop it from detonating is a lone Scottish soldier, Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates), who doesn't know where the bomb is.
     And neither do the inmates of the local lunatic asylum who'd escaped after the townspeople had long since fled from the ticking bomb.
     Eventually, they crown him the King of Hearts and the question of the story is who is more insane? Those who have been diagnosed as such or those who start wars?
     The analogies are as tempting as low-hanging fruit or a large surplus to a Republican. In the first movie, Peter O'Toole plays a man who's elevated to the peerage after a tragic accident and winds up in the upper chamber of Parliament where his insane pronouncements have the ring of lucidity and authority to his peers. In the other, the lunatics at the asylum have taken over an entire town after the regular townsfolk had abandoned it.
     Very much in the same way in which the American voter had abandoned their own democracy, or what passes for it, giving the lunatics free reign. And now we're seeing a new breed of politician that includes in its ranks hypocrites, thugs, racists and even criminals.

"The Appearance of Democracy Must be Upheld."
     As Boss Tweed famously tells Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, "the appearance of the law must be upheld." The same applies for the sham that is our democracy, a Potemkin village of sorts dredged up every two, four and six years. It's a rickety construct nonetheless propping up one of the oldest fallacies on the planet earth, that our Republic's democracy, our Great Experiment, is a successful ongoing one. If this persistent lie were to be abandoned for even one election cycle, our entire House of Cards would come crashing down around our ears.
     But a recent Princeton/Northeastern study recently discovered, after sifting through mountains of data and 1779 policy positions, that the moneyed elite really call the shots through Economic Elite Domination and Biased Pluralism, leaving Majoritarian Electoral Democracy and Majoritarian Pluralism gasping in the dust. Coincidentally, the report comes out just a week after the now-infamous McCutcheon VS the FEC ruling by the Supreme Court that allows those selfsame moneyed interests to pump unlimited amounts of money to unlimited numbers of candidates. As Americans are famously suspicious of politicians, the conclusion of the top 10% having much more political leverage than the bottom 90% hardly comes as a surprise.
     And it's those candidates, many of them getting into Congress, that are the focus of this article. Moreso than ever, we're seeing fringe lunatics, Tea Bagger thugs, morons and even convicted criminals sliding into the halls of power, so many Stuart Bests accepting money from astroturf outfits, 527s, right wing think tanks and, most conspicuously, money from billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and the Kochs. To give just a sample of what I'm talking about:
     Former Congressman David Rivera once ran a truck off the road in 2002 that just happened to contain campaign fliers for his opponent that attacked his character. Fellow Florida Congressman Allen West was kicked out of the military after firing a pistol near an innocent Iraqi policeman's head. Anti abortion extremist Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressured both a mistress and an ex-wife to have abortions. Unlike Rivera and West, who both got voted out the same night after one term, DesJarlais actually won re-election. A week and a half after getting sworn into the Senate, Mike Lee of Utah already began calling for the abolition of child labor laws.
     And one shouldn't need documentation to prove the staggering ignorance and sheer stupidity of people like Sarah Palin, Louis Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann, Steve Stockman and Joe Barton, just to name a few. It's not enough to say this is merely Overton's Window at work, that this is the shifting landscape of politics, the pendulum swinging, etc. It's outrage fatigue and understandable apathy on the part of the American electorate who had long ago come to the conclusion, long before the Princeton and Northeastern academics, that nothing they want or believe in, not even their vote, counts for shit. And it's this weary, jaded mistrust of not only politicians but the very concept of government itself, that gives counterfeit currency to the blatherings of deadbeats and moochers like Cliven Bundy and his homegrown terrorist sympathizers.
     At least Stuart Best had a conscience and only reluctantly read from the position paper given to him by these lunatic fringe groups. People like Bachmann, Gohmert, Cruz and Stockman actually believe in these philosophies. And they are now in power, listening to the soft whisper of riffled money rather than the vox populi.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

44, 44 and 44

     (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
     Hank Aaron proves we as a nation have advanced not one micromillimeter regarding race relations in at least four decades. But to begin at the beginning as Lewis Carroll advised...
     Four decades ago last April 8th (and I know I'm dating myself here), I was a 15 year-old boy watching the Braves play the Dodgers at the start of the 1974 season. Curt Flood's attempt to free his fellow players from the onerous yoke of the reserve clause was still a fresh wound in the hearts and minds of many who cared about the game. Baseball was changing, painfully as is always the case, not necessarily for the better. And, as usual, it fell to a home run hitter to bring back the love of the game.
     Babe Ruth did it with his astounding feats of hitting starting in 1920, his first season with the Yankees, and the first after the Black Sox scandal. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa, steroids or no, did it again in 1998 during their historic race to break Babe Ruth's other hallowed achievement, the single season home run record of 60 that he'd set in 1927. Between the corruption scandal of 1919 and the bad taste left in the mouths of fans after the 1995 strike, it fell to these men to rehabilitate the game and to remind us what baseball means and represents to Americans.
     Then on April 8th 1974, it was Hank Aaron's turn. He had matched the Babe home run for home run and was poised at 714. The Dodgers #44, Al Downing, threw That Pitch to the Braves' #44 and #715 sailed over the left field wall. You don't need me to tell you it was one of the greatest moments in baseball history, the night when one of the oldest and most cherished records in all of professional sports fell. It had been nearly four decades since the Babe had hit his last home run for that very same franchise.
     We'd heard that Mr. Aaron had received a lot of hate mail and more than his share of death threats as Ruth's record came closer and closer to being broken. In the four decades since, we white people would like to think, we'd moved on to a more tolerant, post-racial America.
     Then Hank Aaron unwittingly disabused us of that ridiculous notion by giving an interview to USA Today in which he said, 
Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.
     Nowhere had Mr. Aaron said the president's critics were racist, although he could have. Hammering Hank, as with every single active African American player (with the exception of Curt Flood) was conspicuously absent during the Civil Rights era. Yet, starting the day after the interview was published, both Aaron and the Braves front office had been inundated with hundreds of pieces of hate mail and, yes, even death threats, for Aaron calling attention to the persistent problem of racism. One ironic fact was never once did Aaron even use the word racism. The other ironic fact is the letters began their slime trail to the Braves front office on Jackie Robinson Day.
     As Bob Nightengale said in the pages of the same paper, "Yes, it was like 1974 all over again."
     Or, with a simple transposition, 1947.
Braves New World
     Luckily for us, the most virulent racists are stupid and predictable, making it effortless to spot them. The problem is knowing what to do with them once they are identified. We've criminalized hate speech but why racism and death threats haven't fallen under those same guidelines is a mystery I'll delve into on another day.
     Typically, much of the hate mail came from the deep south, starting with loyal Braves fans in Atlanta. One vowed to boycott all Braves games until Aaron is fired from his sinecure from the Braves organization. Another who thought enough of Aaron to buy his autobiography when thought of as a safe figurehead threatened to burn the book. Many others were too vile to print word for word.
     And Aaron proved once more an unlikely lightning rod for racism in this country, a man who has no track record for Civil Rights and no interest in racist-baiting, one who intended to spend his golden years as one of baseball's goodwill ambassadors. And then he was uppity enough to give an interview criticising the Republican Party for hamstringing the 44th President on the 40th anniversary of the 715th home run and the shit hit the fan.
     Ironically, if the Babe had been alive in 1974, he would have cheered on Aaron. Ruth had no taste for racism and he'd privately grumbled more than once, after playing the Negro League during pre- and post-season exhibitions, about the unofficial but viciously enforced "gentleman's agreement" that barred black men from playing major league baseball. I believe baseball historian and Ruth biographer Bill Jenkinson has the last word on the matter of Ruth's likely reaction to Aaron breaking his record when he'd written,
How would Babe have handled that episode in 1974 when Henry Aaron was passing him on the all-time home run list? First, Ruth would have been furious with anyone invoking his name to denigrate Aaron in any way. Second, being an unusually natural and honest individual, I don’t think that he would have engaged in the standard disingenuous but politically correct practice of saying that he was happy. My guess is that Babe would have said: “Well, I can’t say that I’m happy about my record being broken. But, if somebody is going to do it, I’m glad that it is a swell fellow like Hank Aaron.” He would have supported Aaron’s efforts without reservation. And here is the heart of the matter: if anybody had tried to harm Henry Aaron because he was breaking the Bambino’s record, he would have had to fight his way past Babe Ruth to do it. On this, I have absolutely no doubt.
     Agreed. Through sheer force of personality and a prodigious natural talent, Babe Ruth rose to become not only one of the greatest athletes of all time but an iconic American hero. It's tempting to say that America loved him so much because he represented the United States of America in every conceivable way. The Babe was, especially in his early years, brash, immature, undisciplined but so personally exceptional he literally and quickly changed a game that's loath to even the slightest change.
     But Ruth will never represent America in its totality because he was simply color-blind. He openly hugged black ballplayers and had good will for all and malice toward none. And one could make a plausible case that, when the Dodgers played the Yankees in the 1947 World Series, he might have rooted for his old ball club but silently cheered on a rookie Dodger player named Robinson who'd just smashed the color barrier six months ago.
     And he more than likely would've cheered the election of the first black president over 60 years later.
     Racism and bigotry is to be found all over the world. But there is a special, stubborn and particularly virulent streak of it that's peculiar to the United States, one that changes even more slowly than the famously conservative game of baseball. At both ends of this 40 year span of time between Aaron's fabled 715th shot and his interview with USA Today, Hammering Hank proves we have advanced not a single Baltimore chop toward racial tolerance.
     And even obliquely referencing racism without actually calling it out becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the Atlanta Braves front office will attest.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville #19

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/12/14

Friday, April 11, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/11/14

Monday, April 7, 2014

Come to the Light

     During my Rodney Dangerfield life, whenever I thought I saw a light at the end of a long tunnel, it would turn out to be an oncoming train. Think Wile E. Coyote thinking that couldn't happen to him while standing in front of a tunnel painted into the side of a cliff. You know he's going to get creamed, I know he's going to get creamed and he's the only one who's not in on the joke.
     Well, I think I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and this time it may not be the A train.
     To the phone booth's worth of readers who still come here on a regular basis, you know about Tatterdemalion, the novel that tied me up all year last year and is continuing to tie me up in the revision phase. It currently weighs in at close to a Caleb Carr-class quarter of a million words. First novels by unknowns like me have zero chance of finding agents let alone homes at major publishers if it's more than 100,000-120,000 words.
     And perhaps I should've trimmed the book to something more closely approximating camera-ready status before I'd sent it out to over 225 literary agencies across the English-speaking world. But it is what it is and, despite its size, Tatterdemalion has gotten the attention of one agent who stands head and shoulders above the rest.
     I'm not going to mention this agent's name before I've even decided to hire him, if I do. But on the first day of spring last month, I'd sent off the file attachment of the book to him at his request and, amazingly, he didn't grab his head and run screaming for the hills when he saw how large it is. His assistant tells me he'll be on the road for the next week but he'd not only brought the book with him, word has it he's actually enjoying it. His assistant is also reading it at his request.
     This is the light at the end of the tunnel... possibly. While I've said that Tatterdemalion is a special kind of special, if this guy (a big fish in the big pond of literary agencies) sells this book to one of the Big Five, it could put me on the map forever. Since he also handles film rights, there's also a chance he could get a production company to at least option the film rights, if not sell them outright.
     But I'm getting ahead of myself. If he likes the book now, I'm confident he'll be wild about it when he finally reads the unimaginably brutal and powerfully harrowing ending. Maybe it's just wishful thinking but if I wind up hiring this guy, I think he'll manage to sell it. If you saw who's on this guy's client list, you may agree.
     And hope is just a glorified way of putting the cart before the ox, imaginary seed fed to a starving bird. And, while I've compared myself to Job at least once, keep in mind that Job eventually found his way out of that whale's stomach after countless crucibles testing his faith and will. I think my time in novel jail and the disrespect and ignorance shown to my work and talent is coming to an end.
      Still, things often happen at a glacial pace in the publishing world and even a best case scenario (say, him selling the property for a good advance sometime this spring) isn't going to help me out in the short term. From the time the publisher gets a property from a literary agent, it could easily take months before anything is actually signed. They first have to do a P&L, or a profit/loss statement, which is their sales people looking into their foggy, cracked crystal balls and reporting back to them how big a seller it'll be. Then, based largely if not entirely on the level of excitement of the bean counters, they decide whether or not to offer a deal and, if so, how large the advance against royalties will be. In the meantime, the agent will have already done their own P&L to determine whether or not they stand a good chance of selling this to an executive or acquisitions editor.
     Assuming an offer is made to both the agent and client, it would then take the publisher's contracts department an average of three weeks to draw up the contract. Agent and client (and any intellectual property rights attorney who may be retained to consult) then review the contract and if all clauses are agreed to, the client then signs it, sends it back to the agent who then co-signs it and mails it back to the publisher.
     Half the agreed-upon advance is then sent directly to the literary agency, which then extracts its standard 15% and sends the balance to the author. The other half of the advance is then withheld pending receipt of a camera-ready manuscript. Then the turnaround time (except for Bantam, which is about eight months) is typically 1-2 years before the book even sees a bookshelf.
     All told, it could very easily, and likely will, take until well this summer before I see even a nickle from this novel. Ask any published author and they'll corroborate everything I've said here.
     Obviously, if this book sells even for a mid six figure advance (as when he signed one of my friends back in 1999 to a three book deal with Mira in Canada), which is about as lucrative as one could hope for a first novel by an unknown, it would put my begging days behind me and I could finally stand on my own two feet like a man for the first time in five years.
     But exactly 24 hours from now I'll be standing in a Small Claims courtroom in Marlborough, Massachusetts trying to get back $190 that's rightly due to me. For a little while there, it looked as if the case would be arbitrated in Hollywood by Judge Judy after a call to my house from CBS last month. Obviously, that didn't go anywhere but for a while, CBS saw the merit of my small claims complaint. But I fucked up. I loaned $150 to some grifter hillbillies here in town who then burned me at the first opportunity. And even if I prevail in court tomorrow, there's no telling when I'll get that money back. If push comes to shove, I'll have to notify the court as to the default and have them send the Middelesex County Sheriff's department to his house to summons him in again and even seize his assets until the settlement is paid, which could take several more months.
     And the $190 I'm seeking is still a drop in the bucket compared to our monthly expenses, which about a grand a month.
     So right now I'm grasping at straws trying to keep a roof over our heads, the car running and the utilities on and we really need help if we're going to survive even next month let alone later this summer.
     As I said, I think my penance for whatever transgression I've committed in either this or another life may be coming to an end. But we just need a little bridge to tide us over until I can finally bring Mrs. JP, Popeye and myself into the Promised Land, the blindingly bright other end of that endless tunnel.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Bluebird of Unhappiness

     Some more regurgitated wit and wisdom or what passes for it on my Twitter feed over the last few weeks (Sorry for the generic, no frills look. Twitter's completely fucked up their embed code, as it was all year last year.).

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Panic in Gunland

     It's difficult to remain solemn and respectful in the wake of yesterday's newest shooting at Fort Hood that claimed four lives and injured 16 others. Certainly, the tragic subject matter doesn't exactly readily lend itself to satire and snark.
     That's why we have people like Pat Dollard and Dana Loesch, "people", for want of a better word, who sally forth, heedless of social conventions by going where no wingnut has gone before, contemptuous of the Obama-era czars of basic human decency.
     Because, according to former talent agent Pat Dollard (Breitbart's Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Douchebag, etc), we should murder all the Muslims over this before the identity of the shooter has even been ascertained. Steve Douchey of Fox and Friends With Benefits wasted no time blaming Obama for the Fort Hood shooting within the first 24 hours, even going as far as quoting a mouth-foaming right wing moron like Gateway Pundit who gave Douchey his talking points for the day like a moth-eaten Karl Rove.
     Point in fact, the shooter was no more Muslim than the President was to blame for this. The alleged shooter's name was initially reported as being that of Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, an Iraq war veteran who served four months in Iraq and was being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So, if you want to blame a Commander in Chief for this, look no further than George "Don't Burn the Oil Fields" Bush.
     Of course, it took Dana Loesch no time flat to show what a class act she was by showing more sympathy for her fellow gun clutchers who won't lose their guns over this than the 20 victims of this latest Ft. Hood shooting. Cristina Hassinger weighed in on Loesch by saying... Well, why don't I let the principals speak for themselves?

     Undeterred, Dana then made herself the victim in true right wing fashion after she got into it with TBogg, who put the results up at his place, Panic in Funland:
     After sniffling that SHE was the one being harassed on Twitter by the daughter of the slain Sandy Hook principal "for bring(ing) the victims into this", the loathsome Loesch really let TBogg have it between the eyes, uh, somehow, for something only she can tell us.
     O, the inhumanity. O, the inanity.
     So, the moral of the story, kiddies, is that it's always the black guy's fault no matter what, we should slaughter every Muslim in America for something a Latino does to people they don't even know and right wingers should be allowed to attack whomever they want then whine about being swarmed by the blue meanie birdies on Twitter when their targets hit back. And feeling persecuted is sure a strange tack to take considering loonies like Loesch have almost all the guns and ammo.
    And every shooting becomes a referendum on the rights of gun ownership whether or not the black guy said he wants to take away your guns. The running theme in the gun control debate is that on the far right, more sympathy is shown for gun owners, even those carrying out these crimes (Yeah, Zimmerman, I'm looking in your direction) than for the innocent victims of these crimes. And the fact that eludes these cordite-huffing psychopaths is it's not us gun control proponents they have to worry about but fellow gun-clutchers like themselves.
     You know, Wayne LaPierre's "good guys with guns."
(Addendum:  I just saw that Tengrain linked to this at Crooks and Liars. If you have any spare cash, Mrs. JP and I need a little help to survive April. TIA.)

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Good Times at Potterville, 4/3/14

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
  • The Missing Security Tapes From the World Trade Center.
  • It's a Blunderful Life.
  • The Civil War II
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate America
  • Top Ten Conservative Books
  • I Am Mr. Ed
  • Glenn Beck: Racist, Hate Monger, Comedian
  • The Ten Worst Music Videos of all Time
  • Assclowns of the Week

  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
  • Links to Assclowns of the Week 38-63.
  • #106: The Turkey Has Landed edition
  • #105: Blame it on Paris or Putin edition
  • #104: Make Racism Great Again Also Labor Day edition
  • #103: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Toilet edition
  • #102: Orange is the New Fat edition
  • #101: Electoral College Dropouts edition
  • #100: Centennial of Silliness edition
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
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  • 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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