Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Will Sully the GOP No More Forever

      D r i f t g l a s s will no doubt be rending his sackcloth garments while covered in ashes. Yes, the Atlantic's venerable editor-in-chief, Andrew Sullivan, is retiring from blogging. Let's hope he's more diligent about that decision than I've been over the years. By the way, this is an interesting juxtaposition when the news broke on Twitter a few minutes ago:

      Sullivan, a semi-fixture on Bill Maher's countless Real Time panels, can best be described as the Accidental Apostate. After championing the Republican Party for years, including the constantly-shifting rationales for the war in Iraq, Sully has spent the last several years in the virtual pages of the Atlantic struggling to criticize the GOP for its countless crimes against Humanity, all the while seeming to take credit for stumbling onto these revelations that liberals had made nearly 15 years ago.
       Indeed, since the end of the Bush administration, Sullivan has often given off an air of a newly-liberated hostage: While grateful to be freed, he still has that wistful Stockholmed mindset of a captive that had bonded with his captors. And he just can't bring himself to see these psychopaths for what and who they really are: Undeclared fascists who simply want to kill everyone who isn't white, male, straight and rich. Sully was supposed to be a heir apparent to the mantle left by the late William F. Buckley, that rarest, almost mythical of beasts: The conservative intellectual. George "Poindexter" Will is simply a buffoon with the charisma of a dead engineer. Jonah Goldberg is an evolutionary dropout and Mark Halperin has been inarticulate and incomprehensible ever since discovering kneepads to use at the feet of conservatives with real right wing bona fides.
      And poor Sully just never quite got it right, even though he gave it a game try. He was a man who saw pinpricks of truth into the absolute and empirical and mistook that for seeing the light in which liberals had been basking all along. I'm not going to delve into specifics. I'll let Sir Drifty eulogize his ersatz legacy of apostasy.
     Sullivan often got it right on many other issues and in the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that he'd linked to Pottersville or its last incarnation at least twice in the past. But in the end, it'll have to be said that poor Sullivan was a guy who gave it his best but never quite got it right.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snowpocalypse 2015

     For today and the foreseeable future, Pottersville will be known as Ice Station Zebra. The initial weather forecast was for 7-11", with less striking inland. As you can see from my dumpster behind my house, we got considerably more than 11" overnight and today. To give you a better sense of scale, that pile of snow on the lids is about as tall as a three year-old child. I haven't seen this much useless, unwanted white shit since the 2012 Republican National Convention.

     This is our poor 17 year-old girl Betsy before I'd begun clearing her off. I left the wiper blades up last night but that proved to be an exercise in futility as the snow actually got up to the fenders, making it virtually impossible to push the snow off. That black vertical thing you see is the bottom of the wiper blade. It took me over an hour to clear off the stoop, the passenger side and a foot and a half-wide trench behind the car so my landlord's plow guy will know where to end plowing the end of the driveway. Hopefully, once he does that, I can just back away from the rest of the snow surrounding my car so he can push it to the front.
     So, for anyone who cares, rest assured, we three are still safe and warm at Casa de Pottersviile Ice Station Zebra. The lights and gas are still on, we're well-provisioned as I'd succumbed to the atavistic hoarding instinct by buying additional food and water yesterday and even a few nippies of whiskey and an inexpensive bottle of Chianti (all I need now is a census taker and a can of fava beans).
     Ergo, for you poor, hardy souls also living in the northeast, use this as your open thread to tell us about your Snowpocalypse horror stories. I'll be glad to post your pictures. Just email them to me at
(Addendum:  The streets are sheer ice and packed snow and the sanders haven't even come out, yet. Gov. Baker called a state of emergency since we're the hardest hit state. That means I just broke the law and risked my life for two packs of cigarettes, some Pringles and a candy bar for Mrs. JP at the only store in town that's still open. I am the man!)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Of Corsi

     As is always the case in my nearly decade-long odyssey of blogging, just when I try to hang up my brickbat, of course some right wing assclown always comes along and pulls me right back in. In this case, it's Jerome Corsi.
     Yesterday morning, I was treated to the news that Jerome Corsi, he of the Obamanation series of books (Yes, another one is out, entitled Obamanation II: Judgment Day. Maybe he's going for a Jerry Bruckheimer movie deal where an over-the-hill Arnold Schwarzenegger will play David Duke) is now following me on Twitter.
     Surely, there must be some mistake, I said to myself as I sipped my first cup of Joe. Surely, Mr. Corsi read my Twitter profile ("There are only two kinds of Republican voters: White collar muggers and willing victims. Let's make the GOP a bad memory in 2016.") with as much cognitive thought as he did Mr. Obama's birth certificate from Hawaii. So I fired off a couple of tweets telling him exactly what I thought of his unwanted and obviously misguided attention and thought that would be the end of that. Surely, once he realized his error, he'd immediately unfollow me.
     Apparently, "Corsi" is Italian for "glutton for punishment" because then he made the mistake of engaging me today. Oh my. And my birthday was eight days ago.
     Oh, really, now?
     Unfazed, he then steps right into my next salvo like a punch-drunk club fighter.
     I may be "ideologue" but at least I know how to use the indefinite article "an", O Bestselling Author. And what the fuck does "1ar" mean?
     Corsi, like all right wing nut bags, mistakes free speech with our obligation to seriously entertain their death threats, homophobic and misogynist comments and beyond Pluto conspiracy theories. Just as Corsi technically has the right to claim that Obama secretly has Afghani virgins smear his naked body every night with falafel while Michelle dances the Watusi as played by the Marine Marching Band in the Lincoln bedroom, it is not my or anyone's obligation to suffer fools like him gladly.
     And as a big mouth liberal, it is not even in my DNA to do so.
     And even if I wasn't an aspiring author with a dog in the fight, I'd have to conclude, as must anyone with two neurons to rub together, that the very fact that Corsi (who has barely over 8000 followers) has a literary agent and keeps getting book deals is the surest evidence that we are living the prequel for Idiocracy and that Western culture, for want of a better phrase, is circling the porcelain drain at warp speed 10.
     Corsi is a typical right winger: He loves to take drive by pot shots but hates it when someone busts a cap in their rear windshield when they try to speed away (or, in his case, waddle). They love to indiscriminately punch but hate it when someone counterpunches and bloodies their nose a little bit. The same faction that screams about Pride rallies, antiwar protests, Occupy movements and Ferguson protesters demanding the right to live, citing Affirmative Action, special treatment for the LGBT community is always the first one to bleat like wounded lambs about their First Amendment rights.
     And still, this goose-stepping, waddling homunculus cherry-picks the Constitution for whatever works best for him and his fellow racists, conspiracy theorists and all around Darwinian no-shows who can't stand the idea, even after over six years, that a black man is running their country. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine how Corsi could achieve bestseller status with a publisher outside of Regnery or Threshold without knee pads and Listerine eventually being involved.
     And just the fact that Corsi gets to honestly claim authorhood status while I can't even get a literary agent to read beyond the salutation shows that, just as Einstein said imagination was more important than knowledge, fevered conspiracy theories are sexier than brilliance, originality and talent. And as long as nut bags like Corsi, Hannity, O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Coulter, Palin and other twitching brain stems get book deals and literary agents, there is no hope whatsoever for this nation or whatever culture to which it aspires.
     And the very fact that a grandfatherly racist, jiggling meat bag like Corsi is between covers instead of minimum wage jobs is the real abomination.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Recycling Day

     This past fall and winter, I've been devoting about as much time to Twitter as I have to blogging, if not less. Still, I think I've produced enough quality material over the last month to justify collecting my mental fly specks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chris Kyle: An Inhuman Interest Story

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan. on loan from Ari.)
     In all fairness, you have to give Clint Eastwood credit. For a man who lives a relatively quiet and private personal life, he always finds a way to get in the public eye. And it's a testament to his endurance and relevance, legitimate or otherwise, that he remains a political lightning rod for those on both sides of the Great Ideological Divide. After all, you show me one other 84 year-old director who's still directing movies let alone ones at the top of the box office that make people talk about them at the water cooler.
     And it's a crowning irony that Eastwood's newest effort, American Sniper, was directed by a man who'd once admitted in an interview decades ago that he hated guns. Yes, Dirty Harry and the Man With No Name who'd killed more fictional people than you can shake a .44 Magnum at, hated guns. Therefore, the old man who made a laughingstock of himself at the Republican National Convention almost two and a half years ago by yelling at an empty stool now finds himself in the spotlight yet again.
     Eastwood's box office-busting film should not be taken as a referendum on the legitimacy of the Iraq War (Eastwood, in fact, has publicly stated he hates war in all forms) but the manufactured controversy surrounding his film ought to be taken as a referendum on the enduring, virulent hatred and racism that has taken this country by storm ever since we elected a black man to run it in 2008.
     It's hard to understand why Eastwood chose Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL sniper who'd bragged about killing 255 men, for his next opus. If he'd insisted on making a movie about a sniper, he could've chosen Marine gunnery sergeant Carl Hathcock, who'd had a horrendously high body count during Vietnam and was the template for Stephen Hunter's bestselling Bob Lee/Earl Swagger series of action novels. Vietnam, after all, while still controversial to some aging deadenders, recedes much further into American history and the Department of Defense and its predecessors had produced many other notable snipers going back to the Revolutionary War.
     Ergo, it's difficult to fathom why Eastwood chose Kyle, who was murdered at a Texas gun range in early 2013 by another military man suffering from PTSD. Nicknamed "The Devil of Ramadi", Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and was once credited with shooting a target from 2100 yards.
     But this isn't a book report and no man's life can be adequately summed up in one. Or a two hour-long movie, for that matter. Rather than a dry recitation of one person's achievements and capriciously awarded medals, what matters is how that person's life affected and continues to affect those who didn't even personally know him. And it's that willful ignorance that's produced the disturbing backlash aimed at Michael Moore over a clumsily-worded tweet and anyone who criticizes Kyle for his conduct in Iraq and elsewhere. Typically, many of the rape and death threats comes from right wing nut jobs and armchair snipers who have turned Eastwood's movie into a referendum on the justness of the Iraq War and the low value of brown-skinned human beings.
     And the fact is, Chris Kyle wasn't just the personification of "mission creep", he was what one could call ...
The Mission Creep
     Kyle wasn't shy about making his thoughts known about Iraqis. He once infamously wrote in his own memoir, "I hate the Goddamned savages. I couldn't give a flying fuck about the Iraqis." He also said he "loved" to kill and that it was "fun." Such a misanthropic and psychopathic attitude should alone have disqualified this man from being held up as an American hero and having his life glorified in a movie that seems bound for Oscar consideration. All things considered, it's a miracle this man even got a literary agent let alone a publisher to trowel out such filth.
     Such hateful statements alone should've invalidated the fetish that people of virtually all political persuasions harbor for those who wear military uniforms, regardless of where they'd served, not served or what they did or didn't do. Most disturbingly, even nearly 12 years after the most wrong-headed invasion and occupation in perhaps all American history, Iraq has never been tainted with nearly as much controversy as Vietnam. Therefore, the hatred and sociopathic bigotry of human monsters such as Chris Kyle, not to mention his murderous deeds, will similarly be shielded from any substantial and lasting criticism. And his needless and senseless murder on a Texas gun range only made him a martyr, thereby making him, at least for the moment, invulnerable to such comeuppance to the point where no one of any consequence even had the nerve to say, "Live by the sword..."
     And it isn't much of a stretch to say that Eastwood's and Kyle's fans happen to be the same ones that criticized African Americans this past summer, fall and winter for protesting having members of their own gunned down by so many mini Chris Kyles such as Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman. That would be the same libertarians who decry police abuse and overreach until they start killing dark-skinned people who "had it coming to them." Kyle himself bragged about, without substantiating it, killing looters (read: black people who "had it coming to them") in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Yes, Kyle was an equal opportunity misanthrope. He also hated his own people.
     Killing in war is unfortunately an inevitable consequence. At most, it should not be glorified and ought to be looked at as a grim duty. Good men ought to be troubled by the taking of human life regardless of how justified it was (and only a simple-minded misanthrope such as Kyle would even posit in polite company that every single one of his 160 confirmed or 255 alleged kills were absolutely justified). If war is an incurable condition of Mankind placed there by God, then it's horrible for a reason, The death, decay, destruction, plague and poverty that comes in its wake serves as an ongoing, albeit unlearned, object lesson that these ought to be deterrents to doing this to our fellow human beings.
     But even more despicable than monsters such as Kyle who use a wrongheaded and corporately-driven military action such as Iraq as an excuse to release his own racist demons to kill the very people the Bush administration piously swore for six years to be protecting are the people who are jumping on the Kyle bandwagon. The people who are misinterpreting Michael Moore's original tweet as him calling snipers "cowardly" are themselves resorting to hateful insults and death threats from the safe anonymity of their Twitter and Disqus accounts.
     Despite the fruit salad he may have worn on his Navy uniform, Chris Kyle was the very definition of an idol with feet of clay. And those who are threatening his critics with rape and murder only further dishonor a man who already has a blood-spattered legacy as well as the innocent Iraqis that Kyle glorified in victimizing. As with Sarah Palin and so many other right wing idols with feet of clay, in Kyle they've found someone who mirrors and validates their own irrational, misguided and ignorant hatred and racism.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The News at a Furtive Glance: Birthday edition

     Well, the book's final line edit is proceeding faster than originally hoped and, since I'm a little old for birthday hooliganism (I would've had a cake with candles but I couldn't get permission from the state fire marshal), that means I can take a day off from the book and devote a little time for some half-assed blogging. ( Not so subtle hint: If you can spare a few bucks for the kitty, please be advised getting birthday money's something I've never completely outgrown.)
     Spanning the globe, giving you a constant variety of foaming-at-the-mouth, hind leg-chewing wingnuttery. This is WBTP's Wide World of Assclowns.

"Gravity?! That's a lib'ral myth! Push them off the edge of the earth!"    
     Ted Cruz, a science-denying, two year, first term senator, the chairman of an important senate Science subcommittee that oversees NASA? That's kind of like making Vladimir Putin the head of NATO. Or Sarah Palin the Director of PETA. Or Ted Nugent the head of Code Pink. Or... Well, you get the message. It'll be real interesting to see how Cruz slashes NASA's budget while pledging to "explore space, and more of it."

     In other news, professional token black Republican Ben Carson recently compared the Founding Fathers to ISIS terrorists. But it's worse than you think. He wasn't trashing Washington, Adams and Jefferson but praising ISIS, claiming the architects of our Republic were willing to die for their beliefs just like ISIS. Considering how paranoid the GOP has been about ISIS, it'll be real interesting to see how they square that with Dr. Uncle Tom's comments praising them.

    Speaking of Ben Carson's favorite terrorist organization... Four months after declaring his "time had come and gone" and that he wouldn't seek a third run for the Oval Office, Mittens has, predictably, flip-flopped and decided maybe since the black guy can't kick his lily white ass anymore, maybe 2016 would be a good time to run again. Hearing this, a Romney aide, Dick Williamson declared that if Romney were elected in 2012, we wouldn't have to worry about ISIS (You know, just like, under Bush, we didn't have to worry about al Qaeda or under Reagan we didn't have to worry about Hezbollah killing our Marines by the hundreds). Sure, Dick. Maybe if Romney was president, ISIS would've ceased to exist when Mittens outsourced all the bomb-making jobs to Bangladesh or China.

    "How dare you bar me from the country I abandoned to dodge paying taxes?!"
    Yes, Roger Ver, Bitcoin billionaire jailbird and career fraudster is outraged, outraged I tells ya! that he's been barred from entering the country to speak at a Bitcoin conference in Miami. That would be the same United States he fled and whose citizenship he renounced after being told that (gasp!) he'd have to pay income taxes like the Poors. Of course, everyone knows Bitcoin is just a way for billionaires to dodge paying their taxes so it's not surprising this career criminal is doing the same.

     Finally, while I hate linking to Ed Snowden's Boswell, Glenn Greenwald tells us a tale of rank hypocrisy. Just two days after the most sanctimonious pricks on the planet (Obama would've made it but the latest civilian-killing drone strike in Yemen went overtime) decided to hold their arm-linking, Martin Luther King-style march in Paris in support of free speech, French police had arrested a Muslim blogger for a satirical Facebook post. And as if that wasn't bad enough, they've also arrested  at least 53 others. Of course, it's no coincidence that every one of the people arrested for "promoting terrorism" and "antisemitism" are of the Muslim persuasion.
     To paraphrase Dieudonné, "Tonight, as far as I'm concerned, I feel like Winston Smith."
     Of course, to anyone who looks behind the smoke and anti-Muslim rhetoric, the Charlie Hebdo and kosher deli attacks had nothing to do with cartoons and everything to do with false flag operations to get non-radical Muslims on their side after the inevitable anti-Muslim backlash.
     That's it for now, kiddies. And, if you can spare anything for your incipiently prehistoric porcine, please remember the Paypal button at the top right corner or the end of this post.
PS  There's an exclusive comic strip at Brilliant at Breakfast.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Throwing in the Terrible Towel

     I apologize first and foremost to my protagonist Scott Carson.
     He's a nice kid, if a social maladroit. He's the guy who killed Jack the Ripper and, while being the official cinematographer for Buffalo Bill Cody, invented moving pictures. And, since he's the narrator for my novel, Tatterdemalion, I've made him my scapegoat for not posting regularly since late last year. So, Scottie boy, I'm sorry. You deserve better.
     Sure, this book's kicking my ass. I'm in the middle of the fourth (and, hopefully, last) line edit that (again, hopefully) will make it acceptable to a resubmission to a top literary agency that was horrified by its original quarter million word count. I won't lie to you whether you've tried to write and revise a historical epic or not: It's a daunting task, to micromanage every fucking page, paragraph, line and word, making sure no word gets a free ride by not pulling its weight, adhering to the laws of physics and human psychology, sticking close to historical fact (in this case, the Jack the Ripper murders as well as the political and social conditions of the 1888 East End). I wouldn't wish something like this on my worst enemy.
     But it's not the sole reason I haven't been around very often. And, as much of a drudge as this book is after living with it for going on two and a half years (the prologue and first chapter was started in November 2012), I'd still rather be shaving words from it than doing this. But there are some things I'd like to get off my chest as well as explain to what very very few readers this dying blog has as to why I've been MIA since last year.
     And the fact is, I'm old and tired.
     Words on a monitor often belie age. Those deceptive little building blocks of speech, of thoughts and feelings rarely if ever convey just how old a person really is. But I'm going to be 56 this Friday. As much as I should be grateful for living so long when one considers the alternative, I'm feeling every nanosecond those 56 years. Save for when I get up unforgivably late, I can hardly get through a day without taking a nap. There doesn't seem to be as many hours in the day anymore as there used to be and energy is scarcer. Stairs are steeper, headlights on the road are brighter than they used to be and newsprint seems more smudged than ever.
     But most of all, after nearly 10 years of doing this shit, I think I've finally hit that final wall.
     I know, those of you who have stuck with me since the beginning or close to it have heard it all before. I've made no bones about the fact that political blogging's a filthy, thankless job. I'd even deleted my first two blogs in a fit of pique, as a way of saving myself through drastic action like that poor bastard who had to cut off his own hand with a pocket knife to escape certain death.
     But I keep putting myself right there between that rock and hard place. Something else, as I'd said before, kept dragging me back in.
     Yet the outrage isn't there anymore. That outrage, that hatred for Republicans, Bible bangers and other assorted right wing nut job fascists just isn't there. Now nothing, it seems, can rouse me from my slumber. It's like Quasimodo looking over his shoulder and seeing the hump that identified him now suddenly gone. I don't blog anymore and I even stay away from Twitter for whole days at a time because it, too, is a worthless celebrity-driven time suck that, like here, is guaranteed I go ignored.
     "Oh, look, I haven't blogged in over a week. Fancy that."
     And usually, I have a formula when I blog at length about something. I research and source, even double source, find some catchy lead in (or what we writers call a "hook") in which I propose the problem, then progress until I get to a revelatory if not shocking peroration. End of story.
     I've done that countless thousands of times, spilled by my estimate two and a half to three million words in this mug's game we call blogging, this most perishable of mediums. And I don't care to do it anymore. Consider this an unformed brain stew, sloppily ladled out as if by the hand of a tired or disinterested soup kitchen volunteer.
    And another fact is, we're all in a rut. Only some of us don't realize it, like newly liberated spirits who don't yet know as they walk away from a fatal car wreck that they're dead. But, really, guys, we're just repeating ourselves at this point. The more deluded of us like to think we're making some fucking lick of difference in the world and even fool ourselves into thinking we're brilliant while doing it. But we're just treading over old ground, doing the same schtick. The only difference is the combinations of words we use. But when all is said and done, we're just plagiarizing ourselves.
     And that's how I feel: as if I've just emerged from the world's longest pissing match, or letting loose with the longest wine fart of all time in a high wind. Ten years, a decade I've been doing this shit and this country has gotten worse and worse. And in all these years we've all been shouting down empty wells, the Republicans still took control of the legislative branch because you no longer care any more than I do. The police are murdering unarmed black people and mentally disturbed people and are getting away with it with such a high level of impunity, the police think they're even above criticism, let alone accountability.
     Fascists in religion, business, politics and elsewhere are dragging down our planet to the point where the only realistic hopes for salvation are either a Texas-sized asteroid smacking the earth a la Bruce Willis or the aliens finally having their fill of this shit and coming down from the clouds and taking over since we humans are so badly suited for stewardship of anything more significant than a pile of dog shit.
     This is not the United States I remember, folks. When I was growing up, you never needed to sit through 4 or 5 interviews for even a shitty job, you never had to pass a credit background check to even get those pre-interviews. And when you called 911, you got help, not shot because you looked a little threatening to some skinhead fresh out of the academy. If you showed up for work and did a good job, you'd be there for life if you wished. Your job didn't get outsourced so your company could make a bigger killing and having armed security balefully glaring at you while your corporate scum boss announces from a safe distance that your position is being outsourced to the Philippines or Bangladesh so the company could "stay competitive" after a quarter in which it posted record profits.
     There used to be a compact between ownership and labor and unions meant something like living wages, collective bargaining, an actual voice in the negotiating process. Police would be a part of every community, not apart from it, where they served us, the public, and not merely corporations who call them on you when you, too, look a little bit threatening. Instead, police have become little better than open terrorist sleeper cells in every town and city that, like the real thing, strike and explode when we least expect it.
     This country sucks, people. We have nice little toys to keep us amused but not the opportunity to actually make them or afford them. And those among us who like to think of ourselves as progressive and enlightened make the convenient excuse that we've been robbed. We've come to think things like jobs, interest-bearing accounts, pensions, 401(k)s, all sorts of things our parents and grandparents took for granted were stolen from us.
     But that's a lie. No corporation, no political party, no entity ever stole anything from anyone.
     There's a huge world of difference between someone actually stealing something from you and you giving it up.
     Can it really be said a misanthrope actually steals that candy from a baby? No, because the child is not strong enough to hang on to that candy and to fight for it.
     We are.
     And no corporation, no political party, no police department, nothing has power without the consent of the people. And consent is a two-edged sword. We can give informed consent such as when we vote for our elected officials and we can consent to have our God-given, inalienable rights stripped from us as when we allowed Congress and the Bush White House to take away our Constitution through the USA PATRIOT Act, an abominable act of deception and loathing for democracy that still has not been stricken from the books by the current occupant of the White House.
     Constitutional rights? Nearly a year and a half after submitting my first application, I STILL can't even get fucking ObamaCare.
     In short, I've shouted down a dry, empty well for nigh unto 10 fucking years when I could've poured those 3 million words into lasting works of fiction, to me where the action's really at.
     Because if 320,000,000 people don't give a shit, why should I? If you can't lick 'em, or wake 'em up, join 'em.
     And there's no reason for me to do this anymore. Save for one ruthlessly obsessive bot from Google, I wouldn't even get 100 hits a day. Our last major benefactor is retiring in April (you know who you are), the second in as many years, and that'll leave us high and dry so it's not as if the money makes it worth it. 2015 looks as if it'll be our worst year, yet. Our landlord is actively trying to sell the house and he's trotting buyers into our home literally every few days. Once he passes papers, it'll render null and void any lease we have with him and without a lease we'll be tenants at will with no protection other than 30 days to get out if they decide they don't want us here.
     And we'll have no job, no money and nowhere to go.
     Which brings me back to young Scott Carson and his memoir of how he killed Jack the Ripper with Buffalo Bill's posse. I'm looking at this as if it's my last chance at some kind of redemption, my final chance to put myself on the map. I'm going on 56 and I'm no longer young enough to shrug off putting two and a half years into a single book. I'm looking at this as my last chance of solvency since it's looking all but certain I'll never hold another 9-5 job or a job at any hours for the rest of my life.
     So I'm putting my nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, yada yada and looking out for me and my own. I have a spoiled dependent cat and a disabled girlfriend I've pledged to take care of no matter what. And that's the tragedy. I can no longer provide even commentary much less any meaningful help to anyone else.
     In other words, the world is forcing me to live my life exactly the way Ayn Rand would want me to.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The 114th Congress is Now in Session

     This is what you get when you don't vote, you lazy assholes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 Results of the NYPD's Work Slowdown

     A study by the New York Post reveals that since this time last year, arrests have been down for the New York City Police Department. Specifically, "arrests are down 66% overall, drug arrests are down by 84%, and summons and tickets for minor offenses are down by a mind-blowing 94% since last year." Despite the slow down beginning last year before Mayor Bill deBlasio was elected, His Honor has been blamed for the Police Benevolent Association and police unions calling for what amounts to an undeclared strike. But along with the lower arrest rates, what other results have come from the police slowdown?

10) Several tons of uneaten Dunkin Donuts, Krispie Creme and Honey Dew doughnuts shipped to dozens of needy Third World nations.
9) Birchers, Klansmen and neonazi reserves called in to maintain acceptable levels of Stop 'n' Frisk racial profiling.
8) NYPD issuing pamphlets to ghettos including instructions to young blacks on how to shoot and choke themselves.
7) Mobsters complaining of backlog of months of unpaid graft in plain manila envelopes.
6) Seven pepper spray and four taser manufacturers have filed for bankruptcy.
5) Entire Yankees bullpen threatening to also go on strike if NYPD doesn't place another fat lifer to open bullpen door for them by Opening Day.
4) Second, completely ignored Occupy movement perplexed by lack of martyrdom.
3) NYPD cops forced to beat each other up to maintain usual violent visibility on Youtube.
2) ACLU forced to lay off over 1000 lawyers.
1) 97% uptick in new Jenny Craig memberships.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Civil Rights or Civil War

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
     Mrs. Flannigan asked me at the kitchen table today, "Do you think the Civil Rights movement would've continued if Dr. King had lived?"
     It's certainly a question worthy of unpacking, although trying to predict alternate history is the slipperiest of slopes. One has to factor in the men surrounding Dr. King at the time of his assassination in Memphis in April 1968, the political landscape, the power yet the limits of personal charisma, etc. Plus, one must look at the latter-day race relations and try to extrapolate at least a semi-educated guess as to whether or not a middle-aged or elderly Dr. Martin Luther King could've eradicated much of the racism that's rearing its ugly head than at no time since my childhood in the 60's.
     The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne wrote an excellent article nearly seven years ago in which the thrust is that liberalism (and, by extension, the Civil Rights movement) died or had begun to die with him. Perhaps liberalism could've sputtered on with either Dr. King or a second President Kennedy. Yet since both men were assassinated within months of each other in the pivotal 1968, it was inevitable that liberalism, and civil rights, would've been buried with each man.
     As Dionne had reminded us in his April 4, 2008 article,
A shrewd politician named Richard Nixon sensed the direction of the political winds. When President Johnson's commission on urban unrest released its report in early 1968 and blamed the previous year's rioting on "white racism," Nixon would have none of it. The commission, he said, "blames everybody for the riots except the perpetrators of the riots." He urged "retaliation."
     It's a right wing, "Blame the victim" meme that's all too familiar today in the wake of the protests in Ferguson, MO and Nixon's own racist reaction to a report blaming his kind for the civil unrest in 1967 pretty much set the tone for the very quiet euthanization of the civil rights movement and liberalism in general. It's impossible to tell what influence, if any, that Dr. King would've had on the Nixon administration in the late 60's-seventies. But when one looks at Nixon's own dim civil rights record, one doesn't get the impression Dr. King would've had as much influence over Nixon as he had over the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
     It's easy to see, on the other hand, Civil Rights enjoying a second golden age if both Dr. King survived and Kennedy had lived to occupy the Oval Office. Therefore it is impossible to extrapolate an alternate past without factoring in the liberal dream scenario of Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King closely collaborating on a raft of meaningful civil rights legislation throughout the 70's.

     One must also pay more than lip service to the cult of personality. Dr. King's charisma was obviously catalytic and none of the men who'd surrounded him in his legendary civil rights marches had it. Ralph Abernathy didn't have the charm and charisma, Jesse Jackson was too young, racist and strident to assume the mantle. Al Sharpton is too loud and sour and is himself irrelevant, just another talking head who'd sold out. John Lewis and Elijah Cummings made it to Congress and are the most senior members of the Black Congressional Caucus. But as long as Congressman Cummings' the ranking Democrat under Darrell Issa's chairmanship, he'll always get the microphone cut off on him if he ever gets too "uppity." Plus, can anyone remember the last time the Black Congressional Caucus spearheaded any major civil rights legislation?

Take One Step Forward, Take One Step Back
     It doesn't take much cynicism for any thinking person to see that racists have made more permanent (and highly-publicized) inroads toward bringing about a second Civil War than what passes for today's civil rights leaders having or ever have bringing about a second Civil Rights movement. Indeed, when one sees the 60's-level of violent racism (and, I hate to date myself but this is especially evident to those of us who remember the riots in Selma, Birmingham and all over the deep south), one gets the uneasy sense the Civil Rights Movement was a mere blip on the radar screen, a temporary social anomaly, a politically-correct fad whose time has long since come and gone.
     We're seeing this not in Teabagger circles but at the very highest levels of government. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court essentially gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when a handful of old, privileged white men blithely pronounced racism dead. It came as no surprise to any progressives that seemingly nanoseconds after the High Court's ruling, redneck state governments proposed, and in all too many cases passed, racist Voter ID laws and other voter-caging legislation that was at least a determining factor in the GOP not only expanding their lead in the House but retaking the Senate.
     It also can't be said that Barack Obama has made the most of his time in the White House to push for Civil Rights legislation instead of passively standing by and doing little more than cluck his tongue at the gutting of the VRA or the national epidemic of unarmed African Americans getting killed by white police. If Obama spent one tenth the time empowering his own people instead of old white Wall Street oligarchs than perhaps we'd see fewer Michael Browns and Eric Garners.
     My suspicion is that if Dr. Martin Luther King had lived to see old age, especially if Bobby Kennedy had for one reason or another never served as President, he quite possibly would've seen his own time come and go, his own irrelevance staring him in the face. While he must have known he put his life at risk with every march and every speech, I'm sure even he never thought he wouldn't live to see his 40th birthday. Ergo, it never occurred to him to groom a natural successor.
     And this brings us back to the cult of personality and the men who'd surrounded Dr. King. None of them could fill his big shoes and unite the African American people as he had. He had come along at just the right time. And if history teaches us anything, it's that great men don't so much shape the times in which they live but, for good or ill, exploit them to their purposes. Hitler did not create the national shame over losing the First World War and the economic crisis accompanying it. He merely exploited it. And Dr. King did not create the growing dissatisfaction within the black community after 400 years of racism.
     Yet it's obvious to anyone with two neurons to rub together that we're much closer to seeing a second Civil War than a second Civil Rights movement. As long as incompetent and misled grand juries give free passes to men like Wilson and Pantaleo to murder unarmed African American men with complete impunity, as long as black Congressmen are getting their microphones cut off on Capitol Hill and as long as white policemen are held to a much lower standard than their unarmed young black victims, it doesn't take a political scientist to see which will arrive first.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Pottersville Christmas

      It all started after dinner with my kids last night with a visit to the new home of my former Chilean neighbor (the ex-Pinochet henchman who loves to sing karaoke). They have a six year-old yellow Lab named Max who's a sweetheart, as all yellow Labs are. This is Max attacking his Flintstone-sized rawhide chew, just one item in a stocking I packed with goodies.

     Max again. He had that thing halfway chewed down by the time we left a few hours later.

     Mrs. JP opening one of her presents. It could've been HST or Dennis Lehane or something having to do with the Romanovs.

      Popeye lucked out and got two stockings this year. This is him in his usual homicidal frenzy after getting one of his catnip-impregnated toys.

      I wish I could excite Mrs. JP the way Hunter S. Thompson and Dennis Lehane does.

     Before picking up the kids last night, I was wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings. You have no idea how difficult it was to keep Popeye out of his presents.

     Before we'd got done opening our presents, our Russian Blue was completely hammered on catnip.
     My haul so far this Xmas: A Bob Marley tee shirt, a mousepad declaring we are not a nation founded on Christianity, a couple of refrigerator magnets and a jar of mustard. I can't wait to see what my kids got me.

(Addendum: This is our blurry, out of focus dinner: A pork loin, Charlene's Cheesy Potatoes, mashed spuds, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, gravy and another excellent Riesling. Other beverages: A couple of Brandy Alexanders, two nippies of Bushmills, coffee. Dessert: Pumpkin pie.
     We here at Pottersville wish you all had a safe and merry Christmas. And for those of you in New England... Go Patriots!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Things We Shouldn't Have to Do on Christmas

     There are a lot of things I should be doing between now and tomorrow tonight. There are a million things we should all be doing between now and tomorrow tonight. We should be wrapping presents, receiving the last of our cards, stuffing stockings, visiting loved ones and these things will be done in my household. But here's a list of the things we shouldn't have to do on Xmas Eve.
     We shouldn't be reading about another young black man named Martin who was shot & killed by a white man right after leaving a convenience store as was Antonio Martin outside Berkeley, MO, five miles from Ferguson.
     We shouldn't have to engage white, racist wingnuts on Twitter and elsewhere by setting the record straight and repeating infinitum ad nauseum that there's no official police footage of the incident, no dashcams, no body cams, just store security footage very rapidly put out by the St Louis Co PD in which the camera was at least 100 feet from where the fatal incident took place and in which Martin could've just as easily been pointing his finger at the cop instead of a gun.
     We also shouldn't have to tell these lunatic libertarians who suddenly pretend to worship the police that the so-called gun allegedly brandished by Martin and pointed at a cop didn't magically turn up until nearly two hours after the shooting and marked many feet from Martin's body.
     We shouldn't have to see the NYPD co-opt the popular, curated hashtag #Blacklivesmatter by rechristening it #NYPDlivesmatter when the nut job who killed those two cops in Bed Sty Brooklyn had been arrested 19 times and should not have had access to a handgun in a city that for decades has had some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Instead, they're going after peaceful protesters 1000 miles away.
     Cops understand that when they put on the uniform they put their lives in danger every time they step out onto the street. Guys like Antonio Martin, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, John Crawford III, Eric Garner and especially 12 year-old Tamir Rice shouldn't have to.
     We shouldn't have to hear during the holidays police unions and commissioners blustering about how unfair it is that black people peacefully protest their own people getting shot and killed when the plain fact they are far likelier to be killed over nothing, armed or unarmed, guilty or innocent, than white people brandishing actual weapons.
     We shouldn't have to see the NYPD childishly turning their backs on their new mayor just because he'd offered some tepid criticism and suggested reforms in the wake of the non-verdict in the Eric Garner grand jury.
     We shouldn't have our Christmas tarnished in such a way while black blood runs in the gutters of America on what seems like a weekly basis. We should be sincerely wishing each other a happy and safe holiday regardless of religion, ideology, skin color or creed. Because this is really the only time of the year when we wish good will toward all men.
     But racist sock puppets and police from coast to coast and everywhere in the middle insist on taking that away from us.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Santa's Drunk and Rudolph Just Shit on My Roof

     It looks as if Santa's driving drunk and the only indication I've gotten that he's flown over Casa de Pottersville is reindeer shit on my roof. Ole St. Nick's so far off course even fucking NORAD can't find him and the only yule logs I've seen are the ones Popeye leaves in his cat litter box.
     So, in light of Santa's empty sack, yours truly had to break down and buy a brand new battery from AAA when I found myself needing to use my booster pack literally every time I wanted to start the nearly 17 year-old Ford Taurus. Triple A was nickle and diming me to death, insisting my battery was fine according to the hasty diagnostics done by one of their local contractors. So, despite the old one still having four years left on the warranty, it was either pulling out the booster pack every time I wanted to start the car or shell out nearly $120 for a new one.
     Right around this time, I was obliged to finally break down and turn on the gas heat, meaning my NStar bills will no longer feature those quaint bills in double digits. Earlier this month, I had to shell out $100 to have my turn signals fixed. Shorter version:
     I've had to make significant outlays of cash of late and at the worst time of the year when I'm trying to do my shopping. And I still haven't gotten anything for Number One and Number Two sons, not to mention Number One Son's girlfriend.
     Yesterday I was once again forced to do something I hate doing and appealed for help directly to over 170 people who'd helped out in the past. After a small but encouraging spate of donations within the first hour or so, they petered out to nothing. We haven't gotten a single one all day.
     Because of our always pecuniary state, Christmas will be thinner this year than usual. I refuse to forgo getting presents for my loved ones but Christmas here always involves doing some financial triage and deciding what bills can wait and which ones get paid first. To exacerbate things, the damned Department of Transitional Assistance is dicking us around again regarding our SNAP benefits as they struggle to adjust to this new business model they've been implementing since last October, making me fork out money for food as they did last fall.
     Next month will involve more uncommon but foreseen expenses such as the annual inspection and possibly an even more expensive repair job to one of the tie rods so it won't get slapped with a reject sticker. Anyone that's ever owned an old car should sympathize with my plight: Making constant or near-constant repairs because it's still cheaper than getting a new car.
     You don't know, unless you've been there, how much it galls me to have to remain in nearly constant fundraising mode, something I've somehow managed to avoid doing for more than two months. But despite my inability to find meaningful work that will actually pay all the bills, insisting on remaining alive demands one meet their obligations in a timely manner and I take my fiduciary responsibilities very seriously.
     If you have any spare cash, then please find the Paypal button at the top of the page or at the end of this post. Nearly 170 people have ignored my recent plea for assistance but perhaps you're one of the ones who've yet to contribute. I have a lot of weight on my shoulders and the less money I have, the heavier the burden gets. So if you can help even in the slightest, please do. You know you'll be in our warmest thoughts on Christmas day.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, #29

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Congressional Cassandras

     This shouldn't have come as any surprise to anyone who knows anything about the GOP.
     The nanosecond the "party of personal responsibility" found out they were going to dominate the entire legislative branch, the racism, insane demands and draconian legislation proposals began streaming out as raw sewage from a busted sewer line.
     The Republicans have shown they have about as much respect for democracy as the Nazis did the Weimar Republic that got them elected to power in 1933.
     No sooner than the votes were tallied in all their gerrymandered districts, we began hearing the President wouldn't be invited to the House chamber to deliver the State of the Union, a presidential tradition since 1790. We began hearing other rumors the GOP would then forbid President Obama from using Air Force One. And if they get their way, before poor Mr. Obama's public service career ends the Republicans will have him running the fucking country out of a broom closet in the Naval Observatory.
     But it can't be said the Democrats have been any great shakes, either. The looming budget bill, called a "chromnibus" by my senior Senator Elizabeth Warren, is not only a naked giveaway and massive Christmas present to Wall Street, it's being negotiated by so-called Democrats working in collusion with Republican lawmakers. It reads as if it was crafted by a multiply-cloned Max Baucus come back from the weeds with a vengeance.
     To give you just a few bullet points regarding this steaming pile of shit charitably referred to as a "spending bill", the bill in its present state would consist of this:
     Essentially a repeal of much of Dodd-Frank, a tepid, watered down replacement for Glass-Steagall at best, that would allow Wall Street banks to continue in risky and pre-doomed derivative speculation that Glass Steagall had forbade. It would also put the American taxpayer on the hook for the inevitable bailout. The 2008 and 2009 TARP bailout has already been estimated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (pdf) to have cost the American taxpayer between six and 14 trillion dollars, which could come out to $120,000 per household. To put it in its simplest terms, it would once again reward Wall Street for criminal behavior.
     It would ramp up Citizen's United to the point where it would allow oligarchs to spend $777,000 or more on political campaigns and PACs.
     Oh and it would raid the pension funds of up to 1.5 million retirees. It would also, according to the WaPo, slash the budget for the IRS, always a favorite target of Republicans, to the point where they wouldn't be able to go after their tax-dodging billionaire bosses (not that the IRS is much invested in doing so, to begin with). That's right. This so-called "spending bill" would do exactly the opposite where the IRS and other perennial right wing targets are concerned.
     In other words, bloated and flushed with their newfound majority, Republicans plan on presenting the bottom 99% with a giant stocking filled with coal and not even the mythical clean-burning coal, at that. And all with the help of Democrats who are more concerned with submissively showing their belly to the Republicans than actually doing what's right.
     This can be viewed as a microcosm of what's wrong with today's Democrats in general, a telling synecdoche of why more of us don't turn out for elections and especially midterms. They are weak and fractured at best even when they have the majority in one or both houses of Congress. They are constantly infested with Blue Dogs who all but caucus with Republicans. At worst, they are seditious and collusive, showing their complete lack of a spinal column when the GOP gets the upper hand in one chamber or the other.
     And I don't want to hear any shit from people who cherry pick tiny nuggets of so-called progressivism and say, "I don't want to hear any shit about there being no difference between the parties."
     Because they all work for the same Wall Street banks and Fortune 500 companies. Freelance journalist Michael Collins calls both sides of the aisle "The Money Party." This is why I don't always vote Democrat and refuse to even listen to those who rail about my doing so making me a Fifth Columnist that empowers the Republicans.
     They don't need my help because the current crop DINO douchebags is already doing that.
     Elizabeth Warren (except regards her troubling support for Israel) usually finds herself on the right side of an argument. And when she comes out swinging in favor of Joe Lunchpail, one can tell it's not merely the empty, populist soaring rhetoric we hear from time to time from the asshole in the Oval Office. And until we begin electing real Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and fewer glassy-eyed lunatics such as Joni Ernst and corporate meat puppets like David Perdue, registered Democrats and progressive Independents will continue avoiding the polls in droves on Election Day. Until that day comes, Senators such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will continue to be Congressional Cassandras, doomed to be ignored in spite of the truth of their words.

Good Times at Pottersville, 12/11/14

All Time Classics

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