Monday, December 30, 2013

Wealth Inequality in America

As I type this I'm watching (for the first time) some of the Duck Dynasty West show that takes place on Rodeo Drive known as "The 'Real' Housewives of Beverly Hills."  If this horror show isn't enough of an argument for a new French Revolution, maybe this scientific chart is:

And I'll say "Happy New Year" to You Even If You Insist on Living in the Past

Here's the bumper sticker of the day in the ongoing "War On Christmas" seen leaving Yankees Stadium after the Pinstripe Bowl on December 28:

This cheery red and green Comic Sans "Merry Christmas, whether it offends you or not!" bumper sticker was on the back of a dirty black Ford Raptor pickup truck with Connecticut plates that looked as if it might be Darth Vader's gas guzzler of choice.

Celebrating Patti Smith's Birth on 12/30/1946

Here's Patti singing Horses and (a truncated) Hey Joe in 1976:


The sprechstimme line at 3'55"(which doesn't exist on the Horses album), "If you are male / and choose other than female / you must take responsibility / to holding the key / to ... freedom", seems so key to her later masterpiece about Robert Mapplethorpe, the beautiful Just Kids that brought her new literary fame and a National Book Award in 2010.
Please watch this wonderful and very touching conversation between Patti and Jeffrey Brown about the book and its award that aired on the PBS NewsHour three years ago:

And, finally, Patti reads a Christmas and birthday story from Just Kids (and smiles):

Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How'd youse guys do on this test?

There's an interesting dialect quiz (for True Blue Americans only -- no furriners) over on the New York Times website that's fun to take if you have a few spare minutes on this Christmas Eve morning.
I answered the questions yesterday and got no results.  I had thought this meant my dialect was simply unique from having lived on both coasts growing up, but the system must have just been busy. I took it again this morning (with a slightly different set of questions) and it triangulated my exact location from my answers.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Another possible theme song for our Liberal War on Xmas (from Miles Davis & Bob Dorough)

"Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)" is certainly in the running for the official 2013 theme song for our Annual Liberal War on Christmas, but it may still be trailing a little behind Eric Idle's "Fuck Christmas", which is slightly more succinct and to the point.

And if you're looking for the chords and lyrics to sing and play "Fuck Christmas" around your own bare aluminum Festivus pole this year, try clicking here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"death or glory becomes just another story" -- Joe Strummer, 1952-2002

I just saw that today was the 11th anniversary of Joe Stummer's unexpected death in 2002.
It's hard to pick one song from The Clash to remember him, but here's the first one that pops to mind.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cyber Monday Has Scrambled Amazon Dot Com's Brain

Why else would they be recommending that I buy books by Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck? Amazon has obviously been spending more time developing its drone air force than perfecting its famous algorithms.

This is just one more reason to continue fighting our Annual Liberal War On Christmas by buying nothing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Can't Wait Any Longer for the Clowns to Come to Town.

Joining us today for this first fictional preview of the 2016 Traveling Clown Circus here on the campus of Liberty University, presented by Fox News and sponsored by Mountain Dew are, in alphabetical order, Michele Bachmann, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Allen West. Hopefully the other ten candidates will be able to join us next week under the big circus tent being set up at Oral Roberts University. I'm your Master of Ceremonies and Ringmaster, Mike Huckabee. Please stand for the Invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, and Star Spangled Banner...
 [fifteen minutes later, with the crowd in a frenzy of patriotic tears
Huckabee: The first question goes to Michele Bachmann.
Cruz: And I really thought we had agreed to have only one token woman this year. This is going to get confusing to some of our viewers with two of them.
 Bachmann: Wait your turn! I thought there was only going to be one token Latino or Hispanic or Mexican here too, but we've got you and Rubio. Talk about confusing.
Huckabee: Didn't we agree in our pre-fight briefing that there would be no bashing of ladies or Mexiamericans this year? That's the only reason we lost those two key voting blocks in 2012.
Palin: That and nominating a lamestream Massachusetts moderate who had some very serious RINOplasty issues. I hope you see there how my air quotes while I was saying RINO mean that Romney was a Republican In Name Only.
Huckabee: Thank you for that clever clarification, but still we've got to pretend to be PC here, so no name calling about the wetbacks and members of the weaker sex. Only Dumb-o-crats and San Francisco Liberals can be  freely abused without consequences on this stage. Governor Palin, the first question goes to you... 
Bachmann: Wha..?
Huckabee: What have you done to combat universal healthcare Governor Palin?
Palin: First of all, while I want to thank the good folks at Mountain Dew for providing these pitchers of Dew -- real sugary Dew, not the diet stuff -- I just wish they had given us glasses larger than 16 ounces to pour it into... [raucous applause and laughter and an audible 'Fuck Bloomberg' followed by scattered rebel yells] ... That's good Dew. But seriously, I did more than anyone to stop Obamacare. Do you remember who warned you all about the Death Panels that were gonna kill your grandmas? Me.
Cruz: But I was the Tea Party champion who single-handedly shut down the government in 2013 to stop Obamacare!
Palin: And did you stop it?
Rubio: And has the province of Calgary released your birth certificate yet?
Cruz: Did you get your family's Cuban story rewritten yet?
[Loudly crosstalking candidates become unintelligible under a lengthy chorus of boos, or it could be that some sizable proportion of them are screaming 'Cruuuuuuuz'.
Huckabee [for the umpteenth time]: Order please. Please wait for your questions, you'll all get a turn.
Bachmann: Even me?
Huckabee: The next question goes to Rand Paul. What have you done to make sure the uninsured stay that way?
Paul: It's not enough to make sure that we take insurance away from all the victims of Obamacare, but we need to reexamine those earlier Socialist intrusions on our liberty, Medicare and Medicaid. This is about freedom and liberty to die like Americans, penniless and uninsured, if that's what we choose. Without Big Brother Nanny State telling us we need to go to the doctor.
Palin: Isn't your Daddy a doctor? [Governor Palin leans close in to her microphone to take another long audible sip on her soda straw, earning more laughter and applause]
Paul: Not only is he a doctor, but I'm a doctor too. We can do well enough with people who care enough to EARN the money to seek our services. And you can stop pretending you're the only one who cares about Americans getting enough junk food. Who was there to defend trans fats and America's donuts against the freedom-hating bureaucrats of the FDA back in 2013? I was.
Christie: Look at me. Look at me!
Huckabee: We're looking.
Christie: Look at me. Don't I look like someone who would fight harder than anyone for the freedom to eat donuts and drink large corn-syrup-enhanced American beverages?
Huckabee: You know, I was an overweight governor who learned to eat better.
Christie: I'm not gonna frickin mess with the chemistry that got me here.
Huckabee: Allen West, do you have anything to add to this discussion?
West: Is that a question?
Huckabee: I'm not really in control here right now, so say anything you want.
West: After we evict and convict the 80 Communist Party members of the Democrat Congress, then we need to deal with Iran with a few tactical nukes.
Huckabee: Anything else?
West: We're not executing enough prisoners fast enough...
[Interrupted by cheers]
West: If we run out of murderers, rapists, kidnappers, pirates, and traitors, maybe we can impose capital punishment for liberals and atheists or people who burn the Gadsden flag, or...
[foot-stomping, applause, whistles and a few pistol shots into the ceiling tiles fill the next ten minutes]
Huckabee: Because of tonight's spirited discussion and lively audience participation, we don't have time for more questions or closing statements...
Bachmann: Dafuq?!
Huckabee: We barely have enough time left for the closing prayers and the group singing of Lee Greenwood's 'I'm Proud to Be an American' featuring my extended bass solo.
Bachmann: I fought for junk food too!!
Huckabee: Cut her mike please.
Bachmann: ...where would traditional EasyBake ovens get their juice without my Light Bulb Freedom of Choice bill??
Huckabee: Are we done here? Let Us Pray.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

"We just set up the equipment. Everybody got high. And stuff would happen" - Jerry Garcia

Interview with Jerry Garcia about the Acid Tests and the early history of the Grateful Dead:

Happy 100th to Albert Camus (1913-1960)

As one of millions who works in a job whose rewards are not always immediately apparent (except on payday), I've often found the last lines of The Myth of Sisyphus a useful mantra in the midst of a complicated spreadsheet or the middle of a long meeting:
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." (La lutte elle-même vers les sommets suffit à remplir un cœur d'homme; il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Lou Reed 1942-2013

The topic of this post is "old news" of course in the era of Blogger, Facebook, and Twitter, but out at lunch today I passed a plastic red The Village Voice box and saw Lou Reed's face staring out at me on that old medium, ink on paper. I used to subscribe to the Voice back in the Seventies when it was much more "content heavy" (to use an awful 21st century concept) and there was compelling writing and art in it every week. Now I rarely pick it up for free, but this week's is an exception, so grab the Oct 30-Nov 5 issue if it's still available around you.  It's filled with reviews from the Voice archives of Lou's concerts and albums, including a long 1989 Tom Carson review of New York that's worth a search for this issue. That and the cover, with the line from Halloween Parade at the bottom ("This Halloween is something, to be sure / Especially to be here without you"), which is suitable for framing.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Word of the Day is (once again) "Terrorism"

Is there any doubt that a person with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a semi-automatic rifle entering an international airport to kill as many TSA agents as possible should be labeled a terrorist? Apparently there is, because I saw the ABC news story about this murderer tonight and have been looking at many other videos online and I have yet to see any reporter refer to this "shooter" or "gunman" or "assailant" or "suspect" or "perpetrator" as a "terrorist".

Is there any doubt that the t-word would be used immediately if the LAX shooter's name were Abdul Muhammad rather than Paul Anthony Ciancia and if he were carrying a Koran rather than a note that included references to Janet Napolitano and the New World Order and talked about how he wanted to attack TSA officers and "instill fear into their traitorous minds"?

This is about more than language, and it's a pattern. Here's a link to a post from February 18, 2010 about another white male Christian terrorist suicide bomber who flew his plane into a building containing an IRS office in Texas. He, of course, was not a "terrorist" 
to the government or the press, but simply a troubled 53-year-old businessman with tax problems. Why? Simply because his name was Joseph Andrew Stack III rather than Mohammed Atta. But if we don't use the word terrorism for terrorist acts carried out by our home-grown murderous right-wing nuts, then we shouldn't use it for anyone. It becomes a word devoid of meaning.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Close Down the GOP! (their website is buggy)

On a whim, or out of an excess of masochism, I made my way over to this afternoon and started clicking on random annoying pages and links.  When I "decided to contribute" and pressed the appropriate virtual button, I got stuck on the following blank screen with its frozen progress bar: on Internet Explorer, 25 October 2013
Based on the logic that they've applied to the growing pains of in its first month of operation, their political party needs to be shut down until they can get this fixed. At the very least, based on their party chairman's logic about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the GOP needs to fire Reince Priebus.

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that the frozen screen up above that appeared in two tries with Internet Explorer was solved with a quick switch to Google Chrome where I was able to "donate" to the party of the rich and their dupes. But these complex interactions between browsers, operating systems, etc., are indicative of some of the growing pains the Obamacare site  is experiencing too. They will be fixed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Or maybe it's just a state of mind...

I just took This Quiz and discovered that I should be living 3,000 miles away in "relaxed & creative" Washington State rather than in "temperamental & uninhibited" New York

Take it yourself, though I do think it should take more account of regional differences within states. I'm living in a very relaxed & creative part of New York.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Quote of the Day Is About Thomas Pynchon

There is a brilliant review by Michael Chabon of Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge in the new issue of The New York Review of Books. There's a lot in his commentary on this book I finished reading a week ago that makes me want to drop what I'm reading now and go back and start reading Pynchon again immediately (and when you do read Bleeding Edge, I highly recommend turning around immediately and reading the first paragraphs as soon as you've let the final page sink in).

But here's Michael Chabon's sentence that caused me to drop The Review and fire up Blogger:
Everything means something, or nothing means anything, and as in every Pynchon novel what can be found is not solution but the grace of moments spent suspended between those certainties.
Pynchon's books are the only ones that I religiously buy and start reading on the day they appear, but I've never seen the appeal of these novels summed up as well in a single sentence.

And the Chabon review will give you a slightly better idea of what you're in for than the official Penguin promotional video...

And with Bleeding Edge shortlisted for this year's National Book Award, I'd love to see it win just to see who (if anyone) would accept this year. Would that person be able to match Professor Irwin Corey's acceptance speech in 1973 in place of Richard Python?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Strategy of Distraction" Update

When the histories of this continuing GOP shutdown of the government are written, the view from the Right will continue to put "Obama's closing of the WWII Memorial" in a central place in their Fair and Balanced version. Not only is this a minor distraction from a major government shutdown caused by a quixotic Tea Party quest to defund the Affordable Care Act, as I wrote on October 4, but their storyline about WWII vets being prevented from entering their memorial on the National Mall is not even true, as reported in Politico today:
Republicans have turned the National World War II Memorial into the government shutdown’s poster child.

But there’s one big problem with their protest: Veterans streaming into Washington to see the monument don’t really face any obstacles in their visits, and many complain that they are being used for political gain.

Read more:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2016 GOP Clown Circus Update: The Nuge!!

OK, I haven't updated my 2016 GOP Clown Circus Casting Couch posts lately, but I couldn't help noticing this headline from CBS Detroit:

Ted Nugent Cuts His Hair, Hints At Presidential Run

Please, please do it! Although if his competition on the Clown Circus stage includes Rafael Edward "Calgary Ted" Cruz and Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann, this gun nut may come off as the sane one.

The Patron Saint of the Tea Party

As the lemmings with suicide vests are in the process of flying off the cliff in this third week of the GOP shutdown, it's important to look back at the forerunners of those who are currently waving Confederate flags in front of a black family's house in Washington DC. Specifically, we can't help thinking of March 23, 2003 every time we see the word socialist spelled "scholiast", or fields of waving yellow snake teabag flags, or a tricorner hat festooned with teabags.

On March 23, 2003, in the midst of nationwide demonstrations against the Iraq War, one unnamed flag-bandanna-bedecked Urteabagger and future meme confronted hundreds of antiwar protesters outside a Boeing missile factory and gave us the creatively-spelled sign that would launch thousands of imitators as soon as Barack Obama was inaugurated.
From a Google image search on the word "Morans"
Mr. Get-A-Brain!-Morans deserves to be the Patron Saint, or at least the Unknown Soldier, of the modern Tea Party.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Other Big News Of the Month: Banksy in New York

"All pictures painted inside, in the studio, will never be as good as those done outside."
-Paul Cezanne
Throughout this month of government shutdown and Obamacare's rollout, the city of New York is being treated to one new work by Banksy every day.  You can check on all the works presented around the city on Banksy's "Better Out Than In" website every day. Most, as would be expected, are static additions to walls and doors, but here's a video of today's rolling three-dimensional addition to the cityscape, "Sirens of the Lambs":

Brilliant. And thank god it's out on the streets and not stuck in one of the national museums that's been shuttered by the Tea Party since October 1.

As a bonus, here's another piece, from October 6, that appeared only as a video:

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Strategy of Distraction

Here's the media strategy of the RNC and the Tea Partiers regarding the government shutdown summarized in one twitterer's recent photos. Among many tweets of mine about the government shutdown over the last few days, I posted this one this morning:
I received this (surprisingly free of grammatical and orthographical errors) response a moment later:
I went to this tweeter's page and found the following recent pictures:

The photo from October 3 shows the "Barrycade" and "Harrycade" representing the closing of the WWII Memorial, but the photos from September 30 say "SHUT 'ER DOWN! WE DON'T obama CARE!" and the other photos from late September show the thoughtful young 1950's white man in a conservative suit wondering "If there is a government shutdown who will spy on me, waste my money, and have contempt for me?"  If these pictures could speak a thousand words (and, of course, they do) they would tell us all about cognitive dissonance and the typical and predictable right-wing media response that focuses on weapons of mass distraction rather than core issues.  It was in full display last March when the only sequestration cut complained about on the right was Obama's Heartless and Personal Shutdown Of White House Tours Just To Punish The Children (THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!). Now, of course, as one troll pointed out to me earlier this week,  President Obama and the Democrats are Nazis because they hate WWII vets.

It's not just one random twitterer with 29 followers playing up this single-note response to the current shutdown. Michele Bachmann has made multiple grandstanding photo-ops to the Memorial just down the Mall from the Capitol. Rand Paul has managed to combine GOP distractions in one sentence by saying they sent more security guards to the WWII Memorial than to Benghazi. The shutdown's poster boy Rafael Edward "Calgary Ted" Cruz released an official statement about Obamacare causing the Memorial's shutdown. And to prove that this distraction is an official party policy, Chairman of the RNC Reince Preibus (if that is a real name) has offered to have the party pay for five security guards to keep the Memorial open. Is the Republican National Committee willing to pay for scabs to keep all the other departments of the government working as well?

Finally, here's a video of one of the parade of GOP Congressional Grandstanding Photo Opportunists, Robert Randolph "Randy Robby" Neugebauer (R-TX) at the WWII Memorial berating a young Park Ranger for doing her job:

You can tell a lot about a person by the way he treats those he feels are "below" him. Not even the giant American flag in his breast pocket excuses his behavior.

Coming Up Next From the RNC/FOX Media Machine: Blaming Obama and Reid for the earthquake that closed the Washington Monument.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Glimpse Inside the Right-Wing Echo Chamber

Here are the results as of 9:30 this morning of an extremely unscientific (think Creationism unscientific) NewsMax ("Independent. American.") poll about the current government shutdown engineered by Ted Cruz, the Heritage Foundation, and the Teabagger Caucus in the House.

If you have trouble reading the small type in the screen grab, the first question is "Should Congress risk a government shutdown in order to defund Obamacare?" and 63% say "Yes, cut all funding."
The second question is "Do you support a one-year delay for the 'individual mandate' in Obamacare?" and 47% say the ACA should be repealed totally and another 20% say the mandate should be delayed.
Finally, the third question asks the self-selected respondents who they would "hold most responsible" for the shutdown and 52% blame President Obama, 33% the Congressional GOP, and 14% the Congressional Dems.
It may seem silly to even glance at these polls, but these polls are the ones that the Tea Party Caucus is using to confirm their ideas (while ignoring the cognitive dissonance between wanting a shutdown in question one but blaming it on President Obama in question three). This is the "majority against Obamacare" they keep mentioning in their speeches. These are also the polls that had the right-wing universe shocked, SHOCKED, when the Romney Ryan juggernaut didn't win by a landslide last November.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A Reason to Celebrate on #GOPShutdown Day

Here's the page you'll be greeted with if you visit this morning:

Despite the efforts of the Tea Party and their stooge John Boehner to extort concessions they couldn't win through legislation, the courts, or the ballot box, the Affordable Care Act will start helping to insure unisured Americans today. They have shut down large portions of the Federal Government causing inconvenience to millions and pain to hundreds of thousands of workers, but is up and running.
Happy Birthday Obamacare!

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Remedial Civics Lesson For Teapartiers

People on Fox News and Teapartiers on Twitter need to stop referring to the Affordable Care Act as "A Bill".
It's "A Law" and it has been since it was passed by the 111th Congress and signed by the President in 2010.

A User-Friendly Obamacare Guide from WNYC

It seemed appropriate to share this on a day when the GOP House will be shutting down the US Government to save us from the Affordable Care Act:

Friday, September 06, 2013

On Language and Twitter and Peace and War.

I have aesthetic preferences when it comes to Twitter. I like a tweet that uses complete sentences, no abbreviations, proper punctuation, and exactly 140 characters. When the first draft of one of my tweets meets all these criteria, I feel as if it has automatically assumed a level of truthiness, as if the muses had written it, not me. Well, here's the tweet I woke up with this morning. It meets all my aesthetic criteria. The last period of my first draft was character number 140.
I'm going to try to leave this as my only tweet of the day for as long as I can because I don't want to bury this thought under an avalanche of retweets and snarky comments about the Donalds Rumsfeld and Trump. I really believe strongly that "We're living one of the most important moments in the long debate over how democracies should wage war. The 'No' of the people needs to win." If wide majorities of the American public and their Representatives on both sides of aisle believe that we shouldn't be bombing Syria, then the President needs to stand by that judgment just as David Cameron is standing by his rebuke from the British Parliament. And these judgments of the people about the necessity and utility of adding more weapons and violence to the Middle East will not only be seen as historic, but they could be one of President Barack Obama's greatest legacies.  Here's another tweet of mine from yesterday morning that expresses my suspicions about the President's possible motives for going to Congress. The truthiness of this tweet is a little more suspect because I needed to abbreviate "Pres" and leave the initial "It" off the second sentence in order to fit it into exactly 140 characters, but I still stand by it:
I believe that the candidate and constitutional law professor from Illinois believed (and believes) what he said on December 20, 2007: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." Going to Congress before attacking Syria and having Congress assert its war powers by voting no is that candidate living up to his word, and his Congressional "loss" could be his ultimate objective. The Senator and candidate Obama did not want any President to have the war powers he (and his successors) currently hold.  Handing some of that power back to the people and their representatives could turn out to be one of his most important achievements. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

All the Way with BHO? (redux)

[I originally posted this on October 1, 2011, but I felt it might be time to trot it out again and place it at the top of the blog. I don't feel like I need to add any specific references to today's debate about unleashing American weaponry against Syria.]

As we get further and further in time from the Presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the parts of his legacy that stand out seem more and more impressive: Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Acts of 1964, 1965, & 1968, the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the Department of Transportation, Head Start, the Higher Education Act of 1965, Bilingual Education Act of 1968, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1968 inspired by Ralph Nader, the Endangered Species Act of 1966, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and more. The list of programs falling under the umbrella of The Great Society read like a Teapublican's wish list of the main elements of America's 20th-Century liberal legacy that they are working so hard to roll back.

But I remember 1968, and Lyndon Baines Johnson for me was a symbol of everything that was old and illiberal and out of touch, bordering on evil. It was because of one issue that overshadowed EVERYTHING that he did on the domestic front: Vietnam. LBJ didn't start the war and he had wide bipartisan support for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 (416-0 in the House and only Morse and Gruening voting no in the Senate) that gave the green light for his escalations (think "Surges" in 21st-Century Newspeak), but it didn't take long for that police action in Southeast Asia to tear the country, and the Democratic Party, in half.

There are major differences between LBJ and BHO, beyond the fact that the Obama's Affordable Health Care Act doesn't hold a candle to the domestic achievments of Johnson. First of all, the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq will always be Bush's wars and the crimes of waterboarding and Abu Ghraib will always belong to the previous regime. But the biggest change between the war of my youth and these endless wars of the 21st century is the lack of a draft. If the privileged children of the suburbs planning on peaceful futures saw those futures usurped by their birthday drawing a low number in a draft lottery, then there would have been millions of young people in the street against these endless wars no matter who was living in the White House. There are some rumblings of direct action against the current corporate-controlled power structure which supports the current wars and leans from center-right Democrats to lunatic Teapublican fringe, but "Occupy Wall Street" is never going to motivate millions to hit the streets the way the Moratoriums and other mass marches against the Vietnam War.

He has almost closed down the illegal war on Iraq, but with Barack Obama's failure to close Guantanamo Bay, his willingness to impose the death penalty by remote control on American cititzens this week, his surge in Afghanistan, and his acceptance of the Patriot Act and other assumptions of the so-called "War on Terror", it may not be too long before responsibility for these awful foreign policies starts sticking to his administration. And until the military stops draining our national treasure, he won't have the resources to accomplish even one hundredth of what LBJ did domestically during his brief time in the White House.

Can We Permanently Ban "Boots On The Ground"?

I think it's been a while since I've gone off on a language rant here, but is everyone else (other than the usual suspects within The Beltway and The Media) as sick to death of this never-ending use of "boots on the ground" as I am?  The attached clipping in which John Kerry, Bob Menendez, and Bob Corker all employ the overused military jargon is from Maureen Dowd's column in The New York Times yesterday, but it could just as easily have come from any other story about Syria, or the mouth of any "expert" I've heard on NPR or the PBS NewsHour in the past decade discussing our current or future quagmires.

The lazy use of this metaphor for ground forces -- for actual young humans placed in harm's way by politicians -- seems to flow most freely out of the mouths of old men in dark suits trying to look manly in front of old men in brass-encrusted uniforms, but can we please stop it? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Just Call Me A "Global Functionality Facilitator"

... and if you haven't done so already, please find out what your title is with the Bullshit Job Title Generator.

Now I guess I'd better get back to work facilitating global functionalities.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Today's "Real Fact" & Giving Conservatives Credit Where Credit Is Due

First of all, I "love" the fact that Snapple gives itself full deniability by placing "Real Fact" and "Real Facts" within quotation marks. Yes, they seem to be saying, these "Facts" may be exactly as "Real" as Donald Trump's "University" or "hair". But given that this "Fact" #786 might actually be bullshit, I found it interesting to imagine the human brain using the same amount of power as a 10-watt bulb.  I assume that's a rough average, but I think we can probably be pretty sure that the most conservative among us are conserving energy (or hoarding it in their beer bellies) by using only 5 watts or less in their crania.

So, I'm giving credit where credit is due. Thank you to all the teabaggers and dittoheads out there doing their best to conserve brain power (even as they follow Michele Bachmann's advice and cling bitterly to their wasteful incandescents to light their homes).

Today's Fine White Whine Comes from the Vineyard of Donald Trump

"...It was a terribly drawn suit, an incompetently drawn suit and they did it very quickly. ... Maybe this is a mini-IRS. Maybe we need to get the Tea Party after these people because this could maybe be a mini-IRS." 
--Donald Trump on Fox News, 26 Aug 2013

The Total Collapse of
Teaparty (#TCOT) flag.
Translation: Waah Waah Waah.  The Lightweight Attorney General of New York under orders from our Kenyan President Obama is going after me and my phony baloney "University" just like the IRS under Obama's marching orders harassed those poor non-political Tea Party groups, so now those non-political Tea Party groups should come to my aid. Waah Waah Waah.

In a logical world Donald Trump's fraudulent "Trump University" scam would be just one more reason for his disqualification for any type of public office, but there's still a good chance that we'll see him as the game-show-host clown in the 2016 GOP Clown Circus (and of course if he can't make it, the game-show-host clown-in-waiting Chuck Woolery will be happy to fill in that spot on the debate stage).

Monday, August 19, 2013

2016 GOP Clown Circus Casting Couch Update: Scott Brown as the next bipartisan (i.e., losing) clown?

Here's the quote of the day from the ex-Senator from Massachusetts considering the suicidal 2016 GOP Clown Circus role played by Jon Huntsman in the 2012 debates.  He was quoted when visiting Iowa over the weekend:
“I want to get an indication of whether there’s even an interest, in Massachusetts and throughout the country, if there’s room for a bipartisan problem solver.” -- Scott Brown
He'll find out how much room there is in the 21st-century GOP for a bipartisan problem solver as soon as he's stupid enough to say something like, "Global warning isn't necessarily God's will" or "President Obama was probably born in the United States." His type of pointy-headed new-fangled Taxachusetts RINOism will find little welcome in the bloodthirsty Clown Circus galleries looking for red meat about God, guns, and gaybashing, but they will have fun booing and shouting down a (relative) voice of reason, and we'll have fun watching.
Go for it Scott.

2016 GOP Clown Circus Update: The New Fat Clown Throws His Hat Into the Ring

It has seemed clear all along that the role of the fat egotistical clown played so well by Newt Gingrich in 2012's GOP Clown Circus would be filled by Chris "Krispy Kreme" Christie in 2016, and the Governor of New Jersey made his ambitions obvious at the end of last week when he vetoed a ban on .50 caliber sniper rifles, a ban which he had proposed just last April.  He announced his veto on a Friday evening when the local news outlets might miss it, but the gun rights groups keeping score on such matters definitely would not.

It's official. He's running for the GOP Presidential nomination and a place at one of the 8 or 9 podiums (podia?) on the traveling 2016 GOP Clown Circus stages.

While having the role of the fat egotistical clown filled is good news for Clown Circus aficionados, there was bad news on Friday as well. The Republican National Committee and its chairman who goes by the improbable name "Reince Priebus" announced that CNN and NBC would not be allowed to host episodes of the highly-anticipated 2016 Clown Circus because those networks are considering the broadcast of a documentary and a miniseries featuring presumed Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.  The RNC's real goal, of course, is simply to deny us the pleasure of seeing their clowns showing their true colors on two more networks.  If "Reince" could, he'd simply anoint Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan or Chris Christie with the title of nominee without any of the party's dirty laundry being aired for the entertainment and edification of America's voters.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

"There is no why."

Today is the 39th anniversary of one of the great works of art of the twentieth century (and one that would be totally impossible in our current international police state).

Today's Fine White Whine

"It's not really a bunch of whining, it's just us telling them what we're going to do about it, that's all," the man who uses the alias 'Reince Priebus' whined yesterday.

"Them" in the above quotation are the CNN and NBC television networks.
"Us" is the Grand Old Political Party of which 'Reince Priebus' is the chairman.
What they're "going to do about it" is restrict those networks' rights to broadcast portions of the entertaining 2016 GOP Clown Circus if the networks continue with their plans to broadcast documentaries on Hillary Clinton.

"Waaaah Waaaah Waaaah," Mr. 'Priebus' concluded.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Expect a crescendo of Coulrophobia in the United States as we approach 2016

Bart Simpson is referring, of course, to Newt
Gingrich (2012) or Chris Christie (2016). has an article out today on "The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary". 

They somehow managed to publish three pages on the common fear of clowns, coulrophobia, while amazingly neglecting to mention the terrifying GOP Clown Circus of 2012 or its upcoming 2016 sequel, which will be in full swing very soon.

Happy 71st to Jerry Garcia

There's more to be learned about "America" and "Freedom" from the missing middle finger of this man in the Mexican poncho than from all the speeches using those words that you'll ever hear from men wearing suits.

“There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or a player. I don’t think any eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great, much more than a superb musician, with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He’s the very spirit personified of whatever is Muddy River country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me, he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There’s a lot of spaces and advances between The Carter Family, Buddy Holly and say Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep” -- Bob Dylan

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"It's not smart for Republicans to be attacking Republicans..." but it sure is fun! The 2016 GOP Clown Circus is underway.

It may take some time for the full field of
the 2016 GOP Clown Circus to come into focus.

Last week Chris Christie, who is auditioning for the role of the overweight egotistical clown played so well by Newt Gingrich in the 2012 production of the GOP Clown Circus, criticized those questioning the overreach of the American Security State, but especially the Pauls, père et fils, when he said, "...this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought." Then, channeling short-lived 2008 clown Rudy "9/11" Giuliani, Christie said, "9/11, 9/11, New Jersey, 9/11, something, 9/11."

Rand Paul, who almost undoubtedly will play the 2016 edition of 2012's popular Ronald McPaul clown, twittered some responses immediately, but the crescendo continued yesterday when Paul The Younger talked about Christie on CNN as "...the king of bacon talking about bacon ... Governor Christie and others have been part of this gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme all this money.”

Rand Paul also said on Monday that “It’s not smart for Republicans to be attacking Republicans, [but he finishes the sentence by attacking the GOP NJ Governor]  but I would remind him that what is dangerous is to forget that we have a Bill of Rights, to forget about privacy and give up on all of our liberty that you have to live in a police state.”

I personally can't wait for the "King Of Bacon" line to come up in one of the first debates of the 2016 GOP Clown Circus.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This will be my only Anthony Weiner post (in ten years jokes about him will necessitate footnotes)

Facebook's stock is up almost 30% since the beginning of trading this morning based on much higher than expected advertising revenues. 
It only takes a quick glance this afternoon to see how intelligent their advertising placement programs have become.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This Will Be The Only Time I Post on the IRS "Scandal"

There seems to be only one difference between the IRS scrutiny received by political groups on the left and right when they applied for tax-exempt status. One side went into the full Fine White Whine of spoiled privileged children and the other side knew they were asking the Internal Revenue Service for a special favor
The Gaspin' Flag commemorating the
2012 Total Collapse of Teaparty (a.k.a. #TCOT)
and were willing to endure the extra questioning to support their claims that they were "social welfare" organizations (probably an exception that shouldn't have been given to any of these political [or religious, but that's another argument] organizations) rather than purely political entities. 

One side fed Darrell Issa's televised Obama Witchhunt Committee with hours of sob stories about how their constitutional right to not pay taxes was interfered with by government questions, reaching an apex with a tearful Wetumpka (Alabama) Tea Party President Becky Gerritson proclaiming that she was not a 'serf or vassal' willing to answer too many questions or fill out lots of forms for her organization's tax-exempt status (which was not, after all, denied).
My favorite quote from the other side comes from the (non-whiny) executive director of one of the progressive groups that was also forced to fill out IRS paperwork (the horror):
If you’re going to ask for exceptional treatment, you should expect to go through exceptional screening. We all play by the same rules, and if they don’t like the rules, they don’t have to play.”
--Ed Espinoza, Progress Texas (quoted on Politico, 7/22/13)

Monday, July 22, 2013

The 2016 Clown Circus Casting Couch is Open!

Before any of them actually arrive for their first auditions, here are the very early front runners for the 2016 GOP Clown Circus:
  • In the role of Michele Bachmann, we'll see the return of Sarah Palin.
  • In the role of Herman Cain, we'll have the inimitable Allen West.
  • In the role of boring Jon Huntsman, we will see boring Tim Pawlenty.
  • In the role of boring Tim Pawlenty, we will see boring Jon Huntsman.
  • In place of Rick Perry, Texas will be represented by Ted "Tail Gunner" Cruz.
  • In the role of Mitt Romney, we will have the sixth Romney son, Paul Ryan (but only if Tagg, Trigg, Tugg, Tigger, and Craig Romney refuse the honor of defending the honor of car elevators and the beleaguered 1%).
  • In the role of Newt Gingrich, we'll have the even more corpulent and egotistical Chris Christie.
  • In the role of Rick Santorum, John Bolton will be the one to inject a frisson of real fear into the race.
  • In the role of Game Show Host Donald Trump, we will see Game Show Host Chuck Woolery (unfortunately dropping out before the first debate to the chagrin of true aficionados of world-class slapstick clownfoolery).
  • In the role of Ron Paul, we will see Rand Paul.
And stepping in to pick up the royal family banner with a minimum of effort after the inevitable entertaining clownpocalypse, the statesmanlike pandering flip flopper John Ellis "Jeb" Bush.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Bonne Fête du Canada!! Happy Canada Day!!

Has the New York Department of Economic Development gone after any of these miscreants replacing the red Valentine heart with a red Maple Leaf and the "NY" with "Canada"?

They have been known to be ruthless with their trademark enforcement.

On a serious note, my grandfather was born north of our unmilitarized border, so what the fuck am I doing in my office this morning on this glorious holiday? Eh? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Consider Joining the #PhoneFree4th as a Protest Against #NSA Surveillance After Reading This

I happened to catch my first bit of MSNBC in a while last night and there were Lawrence O'Donnell and a cast of normal 'liberal' characters reporting on the 'Edward Snowden on the run' story rather than the substance of any of his revelations about the overreaching of our massive national security state. Maybe they have been discussing those important issues while I haven't been around a television, but everything I've been seeing has been on the intellectual level of a Where's Waldo picturebook.

Read this "Seven Myths About Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower" article by Chase Madar in The Nation because it's one of the exceptions. He even includes a bonus myth, "Myth 8: The Democratic Party cares deeply about civil liberties," which ends with the following point:
"...Though the surveillance enjoys support from Democrats and Republicans alike­, the opposition to it is equally bipartisan, with veteran social democrat Representative John Conyers co-sponsoring a bill to rein in the NSA with Tea Party freshman Representative Justin Amash, two ideologically antipodal Michiganders united in defense of civil liberties. Nice Democrats, please know this: the NSA surveillance program will someday be in the hands of a Republican president—will you support it then?"
Would any of us be questioning Edward Snowden's motives and defending the NSA's overreach if George W. Bush were still in the White House? Or if Mitt Romney had been elected?

There is not a whole lot that individual Americans (and "foreigners") can do against the NSA. I suggested a symbolic #PhoneFree4th protest to cut down on the radio chatter for a day. Independence Day seems appropriate. A lot of people on the left and right try to put words into the mouths of the Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on that first July 4th, but can any of us entertain a scenario in which they would recognize or approve of our current national security mania?

Monday, June 24, 2013

50 Things To Do on Independence Day Without Electronic Communication! #PhoneFree4th

Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
They work so hard and they try to be strong
---Talking Heads, "Don't Worry About the Government" (1977) 
I hope that everyone is well along in their plans to turn off their phones and iPads and computers and pagers (does anyone still carry pagers?) on July 4th. It's not that we are concerned about the government's desire and ability to protect us like an older sibling -- a "big brother" to use the older politically-incorrect gender-unneutral formulation. We understand the government's reasons for wanting to know everything about every one of us. And we know that no American government would ever do anything to hurt its own people, no matter who is sitting in the White House and Congress and in dark rooms filled with computer monitors.
It's not that we're protesting against them by switching off on Independence Day. It's that we want to give those poor overworked civil servants of the NSA (and their private-sector helpers with Booz Allen) one single holiday with less radio chatter to help them enjoy their Independence Day as well.

Oh right, so what about the "50 Things To Do on the #PhoneFree4th Without Electronic Communication" tease at the top of this post?  If you can no longer think of 50 things to do without an iGizmo at your side, then you need to turn it off immediately, stick it in a drawer, and go outside without waiting for the Fourth of July. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Give the NSA a break with a #PhoneFree4th

An attitude of supine resignation to universal government surveillance seems to be the dominant tone of every story and editorial that has been written since Glenn Greenwald and  The Guardian made waves with their reporting based on Edward Snowden's leaks about the National Security Agency's Prism program last week.

Well, here's a modest proposal for one small symbolic protest we can make to show our discomfort with these extra-constitutional powers being displayed by the US Government's out-of-control security apparatus. What if we were to take one day, Independence Day, July 4th, to renounce our telephonic and internet umbilical cords and security blankets for 24 hours? There's plenty of time to spread the word about a #PhoneFree4th on  our social media platforms before we turn all our devices off to celebrate our "Freedom"® with fireworks and beer. (Those in other countries who don't have Thursday, July 4th as a holiday, but who may be uncomfortable with the NSA's mandate to spy on "foreigners" might also want to join in.)

Think about the fringe benefits of a #PhoneFree4th: Fewer car accidents from distracted driving, no drunk dialing or butt dialing of phones that have been turned off and packed away for the day, and no calls or emails accepted from those modern 24/7/365 go-getter corporate assholes who think they have the right to bother you with work on a national holiday. If you can't text the one you love, maybe you'll love the one you're with? And -- maybe best of all -- even the bloodshot eyes of the drones working in those soulless windowless cubicles of the NSA and Booz Allen on the Glorious Fourth might get a momentary rest with the reduced volume of calls, texts, tweets, IMs, etc., etc.

And, maybe, freed from the tyranny of the phone and texts and Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and ... and ... for one day, maybe we'll keep our devices turned off (or at least less active) on Friday the 5th and Saturday and Sunday the 6th and 7th as well.

I have 3,300 Twitter followers, so I'm starting this by tweeting a quick link to this post.  If you want to join in, feel free to do the same.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"This Is Water" by David Foster Wallace

This is David Foster Wallace's address to Kenyon College graduates in 2005 in its famous shortened and enhanced 9'23" version (Update 6/25/13: The David Foster Wallace Literary Trust has asked that the YouTube version embedded here be taken down, but it's still up as of this date at this Adweek site: 10/21/13: Another version was embedded here[temporarily?])(Update 5/7/14: Another version from Vimeo embedded here):

This is Water from Patrick Buckley on Vimeo.

And here's the full 22-minute speech without the video and sound-effect and musical enhancements (distractions?):

Congratulations to anyone who's graduating from anything this Spring.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Birthday Wishes to Thomas Pynchon...

...who was born in Glen Cove, New York on May 8, 1937.
... Don't forget the real business of the War is buying and selling. The murdering and the violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequences of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death's a stimulus to just ordinary folks, little fellows, to try 'n' grab a piece of that Pie while they're still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets. ...
--Gravity's Rainbow (p.122 in the 1974 Bantam mass market paperback edition; note the interesting capitalization)

Sunday, May 05, 2013

"... nobody can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell..."

And nobody can sing and play Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell" like Mick Taylor (with even a touch of "Layla" thrown in at 5'36").

Blind Willie McTell was born on May 5, 1898 (and passed away on August 19, 1959).

Saturday, May 04, 2013

"Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming..."

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the shooting of four antiwar protesters by the Ohio National Guard on the campus of Kent State University.

There are a lot of candidates for the official marker between The Sixties and The Seventies, and May 4, 1970 may be mine. In recent years, I've placed the Altamont Speedway Free Festival of December 6, 1969 high on that list, but personally, I don't think the events there were on my radar until Gimme Shelter hit the theaters at the end of 1970.  Kent State's effect was immediate for all of us then in high school. I remember being immediately shocked by the shooting of unarmed 19 and 20-year-old men and women, engrossed by the photos in Life, and buying the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young single of "Ohio" backed with "Find the Cost of Freedom" on the day it hit the local record store a month after the shootings. I then dedicated the years 1971 and 1972 to going to as many anti-war protests as I could in DC, Philadelphia, and New York.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Without a Mention in a Times Article, Did the WHIG Really Exist?

I hadn't written anything on the WHIGgate Update blog since 2009, but on this tenth anniversary of Bush'n'Cheney's Shock'n'Awe show over Baghdad, I had to go back there and repeat one of my routine searches to see if The New York Times -- the "Paper of Record" -- had yet made one reference in its news pages to the WHIG, the White House Iraq Group.  

You can look at earlier entries on that blog from 2005-2009 to see more about this key group whose sole purpose was to sell us this illegal criminal invasion of Iraq (the obvious reason why would-be war criminals of BushCheneyCo rejected the authority of the International Criminal Court in 2002), but the Times still has NO news articles about this group whose existence has been widely reported in The Washington Post (though I'm having trouble today finding a live link to the key Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus article in the August 10, 2003 Post), by Bill Moyers, in The Huffington Post, The Daily News, and elsewhere, and publicly confirmed in print and video by key players like Scott McClellan.  But still, all the Times has to show when you search for existence of this group in its pages are a handful of Op/Ed pieces written (and written well) by Frank Rich.
This would all be just a strange omission in the journalistic record of this disastrous war if the Times' Judith Miller hadn't played a key role in spinning the WHIG's web of lies with her reporting about the aluminum tubes that were supposedly being used by Saddam Hussein to enrich uranium. Dick Cheney could then conveniently point to this reporting in "the liberal press" to help make his fictional case for war (with that glee about others' death and destruction which only the true chickenhawks among us can feel).
The Times at some point will need to come to terms with its own culpability in beating the war drums, but I'm no longer holding my breath.

(Crossposted from WHIGgate Update)