Friday, June 26, 2015

Meanwhile, on Fox "News..."

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
"If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision... But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."  - Chief Justice John Roberts, forgetting the 14th Amendment, 6/26/15

      Peeps, we've hit the liberal Trifecta. The grandaddy of all liberal lotteries. And it'll be a while before we enjoy another week this great. But for now, we should celebrate, dance in the streets, sing every show tune we know, gloat in the face of your least favorite ultraconservative neighbor or relative. I've even ordered a rainbow flag to fly outside our house. Suck the schadenfreude right down to the marrow until the bone whistles and drink this delicious dram to the lees. We have finally been delivered to the Promised Land and above it, smartly flapping, is a rainbow freak flag.
     The much-reviled Confederate flag's being taken down and pulled off real and online shelves.
     Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Again.
     And, just hours ago, that same High Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges against state gay marriage bans, meaning gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states. It took us a while to catch up to our Canadian neighbors but better to be fashionably late than never arriving at all.
     Typically, the court split along party lines that shouldn't ever exist on any impartial judicial panel, especially with our activist conservative justices and Chief Justice. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan and the surprising swing vote coming from the usually conservative-leaning Justice Anthony Kennedy finally put the kibosh on the remaining marriage bans.
     In the minority dissent, Clarence Thomas wordlessly farted. Scalia gargled on his own bile and began screaming about apple sauce. It's not even worth recording for posterity what Chief Justice Roberts said. But what The Other Usual Suspect Sam Alito said has to be read to be believed.
     "Why not marry four men at once instead of just two?"
     In channeling Rick Santorum, he came thisclose to going all Man on Dog.
     Remind me who the activist judges are, now?

And Sometimes, Good Things Come in Threes
     While it may have taken a national tragedy in the Charleston church shooting, it led to a rapid chain of events that saw the confederate flag withstanding renewed hostility fueled by the engine of social media. This led to SC Governor Nikki "I shamelessly use tokens" Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Closet) to stand on the steps of the SC state capitol to ask the legislature to remove the confederate flag that still flew at full mast days after the shooting. This in turn led to protests demanding the stars and bars be taken down for good in other southern states.
     And then, in the unkindest cuts of all, major corporations such as Walmart, Sears, eBay, Amazon and Apple have stopped selling the treasonous flag as well as many products featuring them. Of course, these decisions made in our nation's biggest board rooms have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with making the right and moral decisions, even in the interests of political correctness, as it is in preemptively forestalling boycotts to protect their bottom lines. But whatever it takes, it takes.
     Then yesterday, the High Court supported, again, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act by saying federal subsidies are legal in states while in the background Clarence Thomas farted in dissent some more and Scalia argle-bargled about apple sauce.
     And then, today came on an invisible rainbow, a transsexual Venus with a penis lowered on a psychodelic clam shell courtesy of Warhol paying homage to Botticelli.
Of All the Gay Bars in All the World...
       Today should be made into an unofficial holiday and we should call it ME Day. Marriage Equality Day. And someone should curate the hashtag #MEDAY. Because I don't think today's decision has sunk in all the way among my people (And, no, Andrew Sullivan making a clotted comeback doesn't count).
     To quote Vice President Joe Biden (more on him later), This is so fucking cool, not to mention historic. The schadenfreude factor needs to be acknowledged, sure. What gives the liberal soul more savage glee than imagining gay weddings taking place on the steps of the Texas state capital in Austin or in Kansas under Sam Brownback's clenched nose?
     But on a more fundamental level, it's a boon for LGBT Civil Rights and equal marriage rights for all Americans and 46 years almost to the day after the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village put gay rights on the map along with civil rights and women's liberation.
     I'm proudest to be a resident of Massachusetts because the slow climb to gay marriage nationalization began, as with the Revolutionary War, right here in the Bay State. With the Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health State Supreme Court ruling in 2003, marriage equality finally became a reality in a nation in which we were told that every man was created equal and invested with certain inalienable rights.
     By 2010, only five states had gay marriage.
     Five years later? 50.
     Yesterday: Ireland. Today: The United States of America. Tomorrow: The rest of the planet earth.
     And, thanks to Jill Biden's tweet this morning, we were treated to the image of VP Joe Biden running through the halls of the White House with a rainbow flag tied around his neck like a cape, no doubt with that look that Hunter S. Thompson once described as "a rabid weasel on speed."
     And I will end this post celebrating a momentous day for gay rights by reminding my readers, many of whom thanking President Obama for today's ruling, that Joe Biden needs to be thanked first. (It is true, this ruling underscores the need for liberals to vote. No Obama, no Sotomayor, No Kagan. No ACA. No gay marriage from coast to coast. I give credit where it's due.)
     But liberals also have selective memories and only a mnemonic savant such as me would remember that in 2008 and for a few years thereafter, Obama was quietly but staunchly against gay marriage. It was only after Joe Biden publicly came out in favor of marriage equality did the Obamas finally hop on the good bandwagon and begin publicly supporting gay rights. Essentially, it was perhaps the only time in US history when the President moved to support his Vice President.
     So thank you, Mr. Vice President. I also give credit due where it's due first.
     And I have to leave with this rhetorical question:
     Civil Rights.
     Minimum Wage.
     Social Security.
     Medicare and Medicaid.
     Gay Marriage.
     When will right wing nut jobs finally tire of being on the wrong side of history every single, blessed time?
     And why is our government still filled to the brim with these losers?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Down and Out

     Since last Monday, I haven't had internet access at my house. Anything I've done online in the last three days has been at the local cafe. If you want a good idea of what I've been through with my ISP, Netzero, just read this list of complaints at I could've written half of them.
     I have received no conflict resolution, nothing remotely resembling customer service or satisfaction and to top things off, early today the cocksuckers accelerated the billing date by a day and stole another $28 from my checking account for service I'm no longer receiving. I've already contacted the branch manager at my bank and instructed her to issue me a new debit card, since all debits to Netzero are based on the plastic. Since they're now taking money out of my bank account for service I'm no longer receiving, Netzero is now officially guilty of fraud and the next step is to file an affidavit of fraud.
     Do not do business with Netzero, if you can at all help it. I've been a customer for three and a half years and this is the way they're treating me. So if my presence here is spotty and intermittent, please be patient as I'm working much harder than I should have to to resolve this issue.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The New Confederacy of Dunces

     In a post entitled "Where Will the Next Fort Sumter Be?" nearly six years ago, my alter ego Mikey Flannigan called it when he began,
     "Maybe we ought to start a pool taking guesses where the first official shot will be fired when the second Civil War is begun. My guess is it will once again be the hilariously dysfunctional state of South Carolina."
     I think Mike's point was that South Carolina would start the second Civil War as they had the first back in April 1861. And in a way, he nailed it the moment Dylann Roof opened fire on a bible study group at the Charleston AME that killed nine parishioners, including the pastor/state senator.
     So, yes, in a way a South Carolinian began this latest "war of aggression" as sons of the soil prefer to think of the War Between the States. But in a way, this is also a war begun by us. Because Dylann Roof's avowed intent, to strike a blow for the white south from a place of black worship, couldn't have backfired more perfectly than as if he'd planned it.
     After initially resisting a massive social media campaign (such as Twitter's #Takedowntheflag hashtag), SC Governor Nikki "See, I Have Black People Around Me" Haley and South Carolina Senator and GOP presidential candidate Lindsey Graham stood on the steps of the state capital in Columbia and demanded the legislature vote to permanently take down the odious confederate flag.
     The backlash against this symbol of antebellum racism wasn't just at the grassroots level. Much of the momentum started with President Obama himself when he said the Confederate flag belonged in a museum. Now elevated to the presidential level, it was only inevitable it would gain traction and begin to effect change.
     But a flag is only a symbol and, while symbols can be powerful, racism doesn't need symbols to sustain itself. Taking down the confederate flag that Appomattox made irrelevant over a century and a half ago will only ease old atavistic wounds within those primarily victimized by it: The African American people. Taking down the flag through an act of state congresses, burning them in the streets of America and maintaining a vicious backlash against anything even remotely smelling antebellum is merely a good start. It is not racism's silver bullet .
     To prove this, right after President Obama delivered a podcast in which he actually used the N word, the white backlash was inevitable, predictable and swift. Elizabeth Hasselbeck and other Fox wingnuts were shocked, shocked that our black president would use such an ugly word and openly worried he'd drop the N Bomb on Congress. It was the ultimate delineation of white privilege: They were essentially saying our president couldn't and shouldn't use the word because only white people should.
     But the president was absolutely correct in dragging this word kicking and screaming into the disinfecting sunlight. The angry, old white people making up Fox's shrinking demographic are absolutely appalled that a president who's been the target of a resurgent racism since 2008 would actually call them on it.
     Just like when fascist-leaning Republicans erupt in faux outrage at being correctly identified as fascist-leaning Republicans.
     Taking down a mere symbol of racist values, a symbol of slavery, torture, rape and lynching won't do it. It's merely a start. It's been over 150 years. We need to start dismantling this largely imaginary neoconfederacy, to hound every racist out of existence, to out them whenever possible until people finally realize racism's time and the confederacy that had supported it has come and gone. If they don't like it, they can live with Peter Thiel on his unregulated right wing paradise on an oil platform.
     There's a sea change taking place across the planet. Before, it was only a whisper and you had to put your ear to the breast of Mother Earth to hear it. But now it's no longer a whisper, no longer a grumble and is turning into a deafening roar. It is the growing chorus of the human race that no longer tolerates racism any more than it does homophobia or misogyny or corporate greed. We are demanding equal rights for all humans. We are demanding a fair living wage.
     And we are demanding the confederate flag be taken down.
     The once sleeping giant is now yawning and stretching, ready to begin a new day...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fox News at its Finest

     Ah, those wonderfully, wacky, strenuously post-racial madcap boys and girls at Fox!
     Sure, it was an attack on faith, guys. It was strictly coincidental the shooter was white and killed nine black parishioners after announcing, "You're raping our women and taking over our country and you have to go."


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The T Rump Has Landed on America's Face!

(By Cyril Blubberpuss, Esq.)
     I was telling my chauffeur yesterday right after I instructed him to run over the feet of some McDonald's $15 an hour protesters, "It's high time we had a billionaire for President instead of one who just wants to buy a president."
     Then, like a big, orange Venus by some latter-day Botticelli, Donald Trump, Double Weave himself, comes descending down an escalator at Trump Plaza like a bored mall husband looking for the food court. And seriously, how nakedly a douchebag does one have to be to announce a presidential candidacy in a giant, penis-shaped tower named after you?
     Words can't express how much this excites my nether regions, especially considering I haven't been able to see them even with the aid of a full-length mirror since Carter was president. Like Sippy Cupp on CNN said, the Donald came out shooting from the hip and keeping the 37 other Republican candidates honest with his straight talk. I mean, wow, talk about your classic cock block. The day after Jeb! announced his heirloom candidacy and two days after liberal Hillary Clinton stood on a big red arrow tonelessly reciting The Beatles.
     DW, as I fondly call him while gorging on chocolate brioche or lobster ice cream at Sardi's or Elaine's, is what I call a "water cooler candidate." He's the guy you talk about at work the next day like Sean Bean finally getting killed the night before on Game of Thrones or finally getting permission to give the high hard one to the missus. Today, all of America is talking about Trump, many of them not laughing or giggling like lunatics during a full moon.
     And Trump is right: He will be the greatest job president that God ever created and proved it by hiring those shills to give some oomph to his Ooompa Loompa campaign (Of course, by last night, that liberal rag, The Onion, also laid off 50 satirists after Trump's announcement but oh well).
     And unlike Mr. and Mrs. Legacy, Jeb and Hillary, DW's a man who's willing to get his hands dirty and not be content to do things by proxy like Adelson or my old buddies in Wichita, the Kochs. And unlike your rich, Commie limousine liberals like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney, he's not embarrassed by his well-deserved wealth as when he waved around a financial statement proving he was worth $8,000,000,000 and sold yet another chunk of America, his apartment, to a Chink for $15 million. That and the fact his high-end clothing line is made by Chinese sweatshop laborers making .20¢ and a small bowl of maggot-infested rice a day shows he beats the shit out of the bottom 99% of the Chinese.
     So what do the liberals and Democrats have to say about The Donald throwing his weave into the ring?
     Sure, Senator Comrade Marx, keep laughing. You won't be chuckling when Trump buys Vermont, uproots all the maple trees and sells them to China, too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Good Times at Pottersville, 6/16/15


     There was a planned Twitter bomb that started at 3 yesterday called #NoMoreBushes, timed to coincide with Jebbie's hardly surprising announcement that he was throwing his jester cap in the ring. Usually, I avoid Twitter bombs but how could yours truly ignore this one?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Let Us Speak of Charters and Kings

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
     The Magna Carta is simply the most misunderstood and improperly revered document in human history. So it only follows that the misunderstanding and misplaced pomp and circumstance is reaching a fever pitch on its 800th anniversary today.
     Now granted, I'm not a historical scholar by trade but I am more than barely conversant on various histories of various countries. History being cyclical, you never know when a valuable point can be made when history, as George Santayana predicted, comes around to bite us in the ass when we do not heed its lessons.
     And the Magna Carta, which is the bedrock of the English (hence American) judicial system, is on this very day getting an unhealthy dose of ignorant worship or impenetrable denial and delusion.
     The year was 1215. Mud was England's biggest export, John McCain and Phyllis Schlafly were just beginning school and King John had drained the British coffers drier than a martini because of his endless wars, primarily with King Philip of France. Desperate for war bucks, he cast his baleful, avaricious eye toward the vast fortunes held by the land barons and decided to ramp up his taxation on them. Rebelling, the barons appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury to intercede and the cleric drafted out what would be the final version of the Magna Carta.
     As well as protecting their wealth, the early 13th century's version of the 1% also threw in a few provisions that were then considered radical, provisos that would become the foundation of the judicial system throughout the English-speaking world: A man shall not be falsely arrested, will be innocent until proven guilty and will be tried by a jury of his peers. These are legal protections that we in the modern age take for granted, even though these elements have been bypassed, broken or ignored more times than can be counted on a Cray computer.
     Intellectually and emotionally retching the entire time, King John met with a group of 25 barons and signed the document on June 15th, 1215 at Runnymeade and promptly broke it. The King's other great enemy, Pope Innocent III, was for once united with the King and advised he should ignore the Charter that he'd signed only for PR purposes to relieve the pressure on him. The barons, for their part, also walked away from their own document. The Magna Carta was a joke and a fraud literally before King John's signature was even dry.
     In fact, Pope Innocent III nullified the Charter the year after on King John's death and wasn't put back in force until 1297, with all of the "radical" elements deleted from it. Both the Pope and the King saw the charter as a threat to their previously unchecked power over the most powerful and wealthiest citizens in the British realm. It would deny the Crown the power to round up dissidents wholesale, to unfairly charge them with crimes they didn't commit and to unilaterally condemn and punish them without the consent of his subjects. It would also prevent him from excessively taxing the 1% the next time he felt the urge to invade a rival kingdom.
     In other words, John treated the Magna Carta like George W. Bush the Constitution, the document to which he'd allegedly referred as "just a Goddamn piece of paper" (but probably didn't).
     It's true that the original Magna Carta contained some admirable, high-minded ideals that would find fuller and more refined expression in our beautifully-written Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence that we will celebrate next month. But let's not forget the primary impetus for the barons' desire to have the Archbishop draw up this doomed document: to protect their money and chattle from the rapacious grasp of a war-mad monarch. The rest was gravy.
     Yes, while the Magna Carta is piously revered by historical and legal scholars, it was a fraud then, is a fraud now and always will be a fraud. It was the first time, perhaps, in human history that a prominent high-minded declaration of human rights was trumped by a central authority citing the constant exigencies of state.
     And in the 800 years since the Charter's public relations charade at Runnymeade, Mankind and its governments have never been able to balance the rights of Man with the so-called necessities of the State. When the interests of both collide... Well, you don't need me to tell you which side always wins.
     Even during FDR's presidency, one of the finest sustained feats of leadership in human history, the one thing that marred his legacy was interning Japanese-Americans (while pointedly not doing the same to German and Italian immigrants).
     Mankind will never change, if our progress over these past 800 years is a fair enough sample. Governments will always be corrupt, disingenuous and will go to war for little or no reason no matter how badly they bankrupt their own Treasuries. our own current government should serve as an illustration of this.
     So today we should remember the failed example of the Magna Carta, the Great Charter, and the high-minded ideals that were predicated on mutual greed and got trampled in favor of matters of state.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tweets From the Edge: Flag Day edition

     These are some of my more notorious tweets over the past week.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Should Guilt be Inherited?

     What you see above is part of an exchange I've recently had with my psychiatric advisor for Tatterdemalion, nicknamed Propane Jane. "Jane's" a psychiatrist in the Houston area and she tweets regularly (and vehemently) about police brutality and racism aimed at her fellow African Americans. (The subject was the McKinney, Texas pool party that got broken up in typical white cop fashion, resulting in the offending officer getting immediately suspended). So this got me in a philosophical mood and got me to wondering: Should guilt be inherited?
      I'm specifically referring to white guilt over slavery but I suppose the same question holds for any kind of guilt that subsequent generations willingly place on their shoulders like so many little Atlases. Well, before we try to answer that thorny question, we have to satisfactorily answer the age-old question, Is there any such thing as inherited sin and should we continue paying penance for crimes allegedly committed by forebears we never knew?
     Inherited sin, in my atheist mind, was nothing more or less than a wonderful scam successfully operated by the Roman Catholic Church and used against those who had committed no sin, much less legitimately participated in back in Adam and Eve's day. It's like inherited debt (something that, sadly, exists)- You're in supernatural indentured servitude because a long-dead woman allegedly ate an apple and decided to cover up her genitals.
     This continued harassment, that went all the way up to the Pope on down to the meanest parish priest, got people coming to church every Sunday (the one day that God rests, no less) and in the confession booth. It also, coincidentally, still keeps the collection plates and boxes full during shriving.
     To be fair to those poor, needlessly suffering bastards, the church's power was absolute, moreso than we can imagine in our less uptight day and age.
     But inherited white guilt and the paranoia of Angry Black Person Syndrome is not enforced but willingly assumed. There is no church or any central authority telling us we will go to Hell or at least to a lengthy perdition if we do not continue to repent for our forebears owning and abusing slaves. This onus is entirely self-inflicted and most of us aren't even aware we're afflicted with it.
     In Die Hard III, Bruce Willis asks Samuel L. Jackson why he's so antagonist toward him. "You got some fuckin' problem with me 'cause I'm white, Zeus? Is that it? Huh? Have I oppressed you? Have I oppressed your people somehow?", he asks. It's a legitimate rhetorical question, not to mention a powerful one because John McClane does not feel guilty one bit for previous generations of long-dead white people who brutalized and oppressed African Americans for over four centuries.
     Neither do I. Am I ashamed at what my people did to black people for all those centuries? Absolutely. But shame is not a synonym for guilt, nor should it be.
     My family came from Sicily, Reggio Calabria and Ireland back in the early 20th century if not the late 19th century. And when my ancestors settled in America, they did so in the northeast where slavery wasn't legal. So it's not as if I should even feel inherited guilt for something my grandparents or great grandparents did.
     And that may be a facile and convenient answer for those who feel as if I should assume my share of the burden for our part in slavery and lynching.
     But if, by my rubric, inherited guilt should not exist any more than inherited sin, then do African Americans have a right to feel inherited anger over what happened to their ancestors? Well, yes. Put yourself in their shoes, if you can.
     While I've never been a practicing Catholic, it's deplorable, shameful and anger-inducing when I think of how brutally Roman Catholics were oppressed in England and here in America. There was a time in English history when "Papists" weren't allowed within London's city limits, couldn't own businesses and marrying outside their religion was punishable by death.
     The same could be said for the prejudice waged against the Irish until practically in my lifetime. I get angry when I see Irish stereotypes perpetuated on tee shirts sold at places like Walmart and feel a flush of indignation when I think of the bigotry that victimized my people. Yet my people weren't enslaved or lynched with impunity in the streets of America.
     So, yes, African Americans have a perfect right to feel anger once they learn how their ancestors were treated. The question is, "To whom should they direct their anger since all the slave owners and overseers are long dead?"
     Well, their rage is needlessly inflamed by the stubborn presence of the KKK, white supremacy and racist neo Nazi groups that have multiplied more fruitfully since the election and reelection of a certain African American President of the United States. It's inflamed even more by passive and active white racism that's exposed in social experiments and delineated by voter suppression and vote caging by right wing politicians, police brutality and police killings of unarmed African Americans. The enduring fury over racism is kept alive in more ways than most white people can count but that black activists, I'm sure, can easily enumerate.
     And it's literally a vicious circle that keeps feeding itself: Almost unanimously white cops kill black people without just cause, black people protest, white people denigrate not the killers but black people for unrelated or nonexistent looting, for protesting their lot while contorting their thinking to the point where Tamir Rice had it coming to him for being shot dead for playing with a toy gun at a playground.
     And so it goes, around and around, with seemingly no end in sight.
     So how do we calm this black rage over millions of crimes that had been committed starting in the 15th century? It begins with acknowledging their feelings. Most white people don't know what it feels like to be enslaved or lynched and neither do most modern day African Americans. But at some point empathy to some degree should be possible because, while slavery and lynching may be things of the past, the prejudice and double standards handed down by one irresponsible parent after another remains and is felt.
     Strong feelings (as opposed to mere kneejerk reactions and racist hatred) are often justified and need to be respected. And respect begins with acknowledgement. Instead of killing our black brothers and sisters for petty or no crimes and letting those murderers get off scot-free and then threaten to kill more when they assemble as per their constitutional right when they express their displeasure, we need to listen to their grievances. We need to listen because one human constant that unites us is a desire to be heard.
     And as long as mostly white constabularies and mostly white lawmakers continue demonizing these people for speaking up about injustice, then what incentive do they have for peaceful assembly?
     Let's keep in mind Dr. King's ominous words: "A riot is the language of the unheard."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sugar Ray Dodge: Stalker and Troll

     If Webster or any other reputable lexicon ever put a picture next to the words "troll" and/or "stalker", they could do worse than use the hideous image above. Usually, a writer has to make it before they earn their first stalker. But Sugar Ray Dodge has decided to put the cart before the ox, as it were.
     Ray is a failed humorist/artist who, since last year and for no apparent rational reason, has decided to abandon his already neglected blog and make me his second career. But I'll get to his online abuse in a moment.
     This miscreant, to me, represents everything that is wrong with the internet, a quasi-real environment that gives the stupid, hateful and banal a wider audience on which to inflict their stupidity, hatefulness and banality. And his character flaws aren't even predicated on originality but derivative in every way, shape and form. He fancies himself a humorist while slavishly ripping off the concept of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He fancies himself an artist, even though his mouthless creations seem to be ripped off from Lego (If only he was as mouthless as his subjects).
     And, since this man, for want of a better word, with all of 310 followers on Twitter has failed in every conceivable endeavor, he has decided to focus his dubious energies on yours truly.
     Ray began following me on Twitter last year for reasons known only to him and the many voices in his addled head. I chose not to follow back because, frankly, I didn't think he was either funny, informative or interesting enough. He eventually unfollowed me and right on the heels of that, I found a one star "review" of American Zen that was just a hit piece. Eventually, in a rare show of good judgment, Amazon had seen fit to remove it (However, since they banned me for no good reason four years ago, I cannot post anything on their site, including responses to any reviews).
     That was when I decided to block this troll and that's when his stalking really kicked into high gear. Next thing I knew, he'd sent me a single penny for a donation through my Paypal account, which I immediately rejected and returned to him with a message to leave me alone. Not content with that, he continued auditing my every move through this blog then wrote another one star hit piece on my new novel, Tatterdemalion.
     This time, he'd actually bought the Kindle version so he could "legitimately" post a "review" of my work with the expectation that, unlike the last hit piece, this one would stay up. But I've already reported this creep's so-called review and I want anyone who reads this to do the same. This is the only reason I've linked to it. You need to read it to believe it so you can get a sense of what a twisted little troll this guy is. Note you'll never see any specific objections to my novel but there are plenty of ad hominems with references to this blog. This is because, while he may be a verified purchaser, Sugar Ray Dodge obviously did not read Tatterdemalion.
     It's just as obvious that he's bound and determined to try to destroy my publishing career for no other reason than pure spite. Maybe it was because I refused to follow him on Twitter. Maybe his Mommy didn't breast feed him. I don't know and, frankly, I don't give a shit. So, once you read his "review", I hope you'll do the right thing and report this frustrated asshole for abuse and, hopefully, we'll get it, and his Amazon presence, removed once and for all.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Peter's Principle: Why Overton's Window Needs Some Windex

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
     The whole idea of an opinion editorial, or op-ed, is to give an opinion. And, as wags like to say with wearisome frequency, opinions are like assholes- Everyone's got one. My style of journalism is akin to that of the late, great Hunter S. Thompson: Rather than be a source of news, I offer commentary and views that aren't shared by the virtually worthless, corporately-owned mainstream media that's always fearful of alienating shareholders and corporate ownership and falling stock prices, viewership shares and circulations.
     But an opinion piece, while it conveniently uses (especially in right wing circles) the fig leaf of commentary, needs to be rooted in facts. Without facts, opinion pieces are merely propaganda.
     This has apparently been lost on Peter Wehner, former speechwriter (aka propagandist) for George W. Bush who a few days ago wrote an op-ed in the NY Times that has to be read to be believed. One need only read the title to see his intended point: Have Liberals Pulled Too Far Left?
     The first problem, of course, is the overarching assumption there are enough liberals currently in the government to wrench the Democratic Party even one millimeter to the left. The usual suspects on the left side of today's political spectrum, Bernie Sanders and my senior senator Elizabeth Warren, certainly take admirable positions. But when one gives just a cursory glance at the positions taken by Democrats in years past, it becomes increasingly clear that Sanders, Warren and a very few others are merely trying to get us back to where America was before Milton Friedman's and Ronald Reagan's neoliberalism began rearing its hideous head.
     In short, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and very few others (including a much subdued born-again Democrat Alan Grayson) are merely trying regain ground taken by the radical right wing these past 35 years. In a bygone age, they would've been lost in the crowd. Nowadays? So-called liberals such as Al Franken sneer at anyone who even whispers criticism at Obama's domestic spying program.
     And that's the premise for Wehner's extremely irresponsible and selective achievement of mnemonics- That the Republicans have shifted more to the right (Duh) but the Democrats, he whines, have shifted even more to the left. To make his point, he keeps bringing up the specter of progressive voters' enduring superhero, Slick Willie Clinton.
     Comparing President Barack Obama to Bill Clinton is like comparing a Granny Smith apple to a Delicious apple. The two look different, they taste different but otherwise inside they're virtually indistinguishable. Saying Mr. Obama is more to the left of Mr. Clinton is technically accurate but it's a straw man argument if ever there was one. It also doesn't say much.
     Wehner is correct when he says Bill Clinton ran as a centrist Democrat. But by the time Bill Clinton ran for the presidency in 1992 (and won, thanks in large part to the Bilderburg Group), Americans were so sick of a dozen years of Reagan's and Bush I's right wing neoliberal policies that openly declared war on the poor and middle class, we would've elected a potato with FDR's or JFK's pictures thumbtacked to them.
     But Clinton, like it or not, was merely Bush-lite. Many of the most ruinous policies in American history, both socially and economically, originated with the Clinton administration. The repeal of the last of Glass Steagall with the 1999 signing of the Financial Modernization Act (which, ironically, did not modernize our financial system as much as it catapulted us back to the turn of the century heyday of the robber barons that are still running over hill and dale like a wild stampede); NAFTA, which was supported by every living Republican ex president and in which Mexican laborers are making 20% less than they were before NAFTA and created "the giant sucking sound" of disappearing US jobs predicted by Ross Perot; Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which pushed LGBT service members into the closet; The Defense of Marriage Act. The list goes on and on. In fact, Bill Clinton has spent much of his retirement from public service apologizing for these policies and laws. The rest has been anathematized by his wife Hillary (especially NAFTA).
     So saying that Bill Clinton was admirably center-right isn't exactly a very courageous or brilliantly insightful position to take. But it's all too facile, not to mention intellectually lazy, to scratch Obama against Clinton and concentrate on the flecks of bright blue beneath the red paint while ignoring that times and society changes.

Obama as Liberal
     The stupid-ass cartoon above perfectly delineates Wehner's position that Obama is bluer than Bill Clinton and that he's overdone it. For seven years I've been hammering home the point that Obama is no liberal, nothing even close, and the President would even be the first one to admit it. And I stand on facts, not ignorant right wing whining about the lurking monster under the bed or in the closet that is liberalism.
     While Clinton may have delivered a crushing blow to the American labor force with NAFTA, Obama is arrogantly defending the super duper Cosmic Top Secret Transpacific Partnership, which Bernie Sanders accurately calls "NAFTA on steroids." The President is busting a nut, even to the point of publicly insulting Elizabeth Warren, to pass a deal that would essentially give multinational corporations the right to trump national laws and give corporate attorneys, not judges, corporate attorneys, the right to take those same countries to court if their laws threatened their bottom line by so much as a penny.
     Between sucking up to the US Chamber of Commerce led by a psychopath named Tom Donohue who'd promised to spend ungodly sums of cash to topple Obama even during a resurgent bull market on Wall Street and making robber baron Jamie Dimon his BFF, from Day One he's been reliably packing his administration (starting with his own Chiefs of Staff), SEC and the Treasury with Wall Street insiders. By that metric alone, it can hardly be said the president is liberal by even the most fevered stretch of imagination. But that doesn't matter much to Wehner.
     It's also conveniently slipped what passes for his beautiful mind that the drone program, which was barely out of the starting blocks by the end of Bush II, has ramped up to James Cameronesque levels starting three days after Obama was sworn in. Afghanistan, need I remind you, was also surged just as Bush got his Iraq surge in 2007, resulting in more rotting corpses of US service members sent to Dover AFB while the poppy fields remain intact and while we're paying off the Taliban to not attack us even as they retake key cities and provinces. And Obama took 35 months after being sworn in to get out of what is now plainly one of the most, if not the most illegal and wrong-headed invasions and occupations of all time. (But, according to Wehner, none of that happened because, "Mr. Obama has often acted as if American strength is a problem to which the solution is retrenchment, or even retreat.")
     War profiteers, including Blackwater's newest incarnation, are more bloated than ever thanks to the Obama administration's ceaseless warfare. Despite being strong-armed by evolving public opinion into supporting gay rights and abolishing DADT (which wouldn't have happened if VP Joe Biden hadn't beaten the president to the punch and put the administration on the spot to support LGBT rights), DOMA is still on the books, the USA PATRIOT Act is up for, and will get, full renewal instead of being sunsetted as it should be.
     The NDAA (or rather, its renewal) robs us of our first amendment rights by criminalizing protesting near a federal building or anyone enjoying Secret Service protection (such as Obama, for instance). It took Edward Snowden, a renegade contractor, to clue us in as to how all-pervasive Obama's and Bush's domestic spying programs truly are. When he was on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama suspended his stumping long enough to fly back to DC to give the totally legal spying program of the telcoms retroactive immunity.
     As far as Israel goes, not a single thing has changed since the founding of that terrorist state during the Truman years. Obama's shadow boxing with Netanyahu notwithstanding, we still blithely turn our backs on their countless war crimes and annexation of Palestine and continue giving them $3 billion a year while we invade, or let Israel attack, nations that do not threaten us.
     Gitmo is still open and torturing innocents (If the Obama administration wanted to find the $10,000,000 necessary to close it, they could find it somewhere in our $1.7 trillion annual budget). Unions are marginalized, the same liberals who helped elect and reelect Obama now suffering from sticker shock are routinely bitchslapped by Obama, he'd frozen pay for federal workers for two years while doing absolutely nothing about corporate excesses except bark at them from time to time on his short leash, he seriously and repeatedly proposed cuts to Medicare and the taxpayer-funded Social Security on the easily disprovable rubric it contributed to the national deficit. The "government takeover of 1/6th of our economy", ObamaCare  is nothing more than a gateway to the free market through which all of us are pushed as through a cattle chute.
     Please remember that. FDR gave us Social Security. LBJ gave us Medicare. And Obama is slowly trying to take that away as per the dictates of the Republicans. How that qualifies as "too liberal" should be enough to make all but the most brainwashed right wing nut job scratch their head. And just for saying that in a nationally known newspaper, Wehner should seriously be considered for institutionalization at St. Elizabeth's.
     In short, if future generations are more honest than ours, posterity should judge the Obama presidency as one of the worst and most ruinous in American history on any and every conceivable front (But, hey! Gay Marriage!)

Yeah, We've Moved a Bit to the Right. So?
     Wehner actually writes with a straight face, "On most major issues the Republican Party hasn’t moved very much from where it was during the Gingrich era in the mid-1990s." Uh huh. Well, 20 years ago, the GOP wouldn't have dared go after Social Security (unlike our unforgivably liberal President). The GOP also wouldn't have seriously floated the idea of not letting President Clinton deliver a State of the Union Address or prevent him from using Air Force One. Any proposal to roll back child labor laws, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would've been lucky to get in a committee much less out of one.
     And, sure, they went after and impeached Clinton over a blow job to get back at Democrats for going after Nixon during Watergate. But if Obama had been guilty of such a transgression, the GOP wouldn't have been happy with mere impeachment. The more radical elements of today's Republican party would've been at Home Depot shopping for a rope.
     And that's another thing conveniently forgotten by Wehner while making the startlingly insightful observation that the Republican Party has moved more to the right is the rise of various extremist hate groups, selfish malcontents, KKK and white supremacy and separatist groups that finally got organized and mobilized on a lush carpet of astroturf under the corporately-funded and -driven banner of the Tea Party.
     To say that Republicans haven't moved that much to the right after the neocon abomination of the Bush administration is ridiculous enough. It's outright laughable to maintain that lie in the six years since the rise of the Tea Baggers.
     Since 2009, when various and sundry malcontents and other ignoramuses embarrassed their ancestors by adopting tea bags and tricorner hats and conflating racism and selfishness as patriotic American virtues, they've helped elect some of the most ignorant, Bible-thumping, hypocritical and insane right wing lunatics in the history of Congress (which is saying a lot). From Michele Bachmann to Scott Desjarlais to Steve Stockman to Allen West, about the only thing the Teabaggers got right these last six years was in releasing a collective cold shudder of disgust at the thought of a Romney presidency.
     The Republican Party has made it part of every campaign strategy to prevent people of color from voting under the ridiculous reason of "voter fraud". They have waged an open war on women, veterans, the poor, the middle class, college students, the elderly and everyone who isn't in the 1%. And (albeit largely through the miracle of gerrymandering), we rewarded these hateful, spiteful, racist psychopaths with not just the lower chamber of Congress but also the Senate. Like Bobby Jindal and his Common Core, they've time and again turned on their own initiatives and agendas when our ultra left wing president adopted them as his own.
     The radical right wing we're now seeing in the GOP, the ones best exemplified by the odious likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, are the same exact ones Barry Goldwater, the ultra arch conservative of his day, warned us about. “What in God’s name has happened to the Republican Party!” exclaimed Henry Cabot Lodge. “I hardly know any of these people!”  If Lodge were alive today, he would scarcely appraise his political descendants as even human.
     And just the very existence of such a whiney, ignorant article by Wehner in the Gray Lady's pages is proof of how much further to the right the GOP has effortlessly moved, much further than Wehner's willing to give them credit for. Thanks to a wet-legged, craven mainstream media that refuse to challenge right wing tropes, lies and fabrications, one that grasps for access to bullshit because it feels it's better than no access at all, the right wing has morphed from a mere check and balance to the Democratic Party into one that places party primacy above all else, no matter the cost.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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