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Thursday, September 30

They call me Ishma...Emanuel!

Like the vermin infested rats they are, deserting a sinking ship: Emanuel, Summers, Axelrod, Geithner - all leaving now that they've gnawed their way through the bulkhead into the storage hold where all the gold was.

But first they made sure the hull was chewed enough to fail just in time for their exit.

The next couple of years will be interesting to watch to see if the same policies continue. If they do, we'll know empirically that the choices made during the first two years were Obama's and his alone.

But don't lose hope, folk! There's still a pack of lesser conservative rats left wanting to continue chewing through the ship of state - most left over from the Bush/Cheney reign - waiting their turn at the spoils.

It's hard to drown rats.

Go ahead (fox news)...MAKE MY DAY

Fox News Viewership Plunges 21% While MSNBC Grows, by Jason Easley
The cable news ratings for the third quarter of 2010 were released today, and Fox News is showing signs of decline as their viewership has decreased by 21%, and their top shows all posted double digit losses, while MSNBC’s shows grew and the network attracted more younger viewers.


h/t to Paddy at The Political Carnival

September Song, by Jeff Lynne

A sad but oh so beautiful song.

I intended posting this song September 1st. Good goddess above where DOES the time go. I've heard that time passes even faster the older you get. I wonder then why my kids are always commenting on how fast their weeks fly by. I remember when I was a kid that some days seemed to last forever. I guess back then (the 60's and 70's) we weren't as busy as the kids are now. I think we had more fun though. Not sure how I'd explain the old saying "Time flies when you're having fun".


My favorite version of this song is by Jeff Lynne -- leader of my ALL TIME favorite group ever -- ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA.
(I do love all of the other versions too)
This is off his first solo album from 1990...


September Song Is an American pop standard composed by Kurt Weill, with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, introduced by Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway musical Knickerbocker Holiday.

Knickerbocker Holiday is both a romantic comedy and a thinly veiled allegory equating the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt (whose ancestor is one of the characters on the corrupt town council) with fascism. As is apparent from the preface he wrote for the play, as well as the play and the songs themselves, Maxwell Anderson was a pacifist and an individualist anarchist. He saw the New Deal as another example of the corporatism and concentration of political power which had given rise to Nazism and Stalinism.




TIME IS MONEY
Ben Franklin was the first person to use the same "time is money." In 1748 he published "Advice to a Young Tradesman" where he said, "Remember that time is money. He that idly loses five shillings' worth of time loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea," according to a publication titled "A History of Money."


That explains a lot.

Tuesday, September 28

Americans Don't Know Much About Religion

by blondesense liz

Pew Research is at it again and surveyed 3,412 Americans about religion.
Americans' basic knowledge of religion, even their own, is lacking.

Not surprising

Atheists and Agnostics scored the highest overall.

Mormons knew more about Christianity than Christians.

Top scoring groups also had the highest levels of education. Hmmm. Wonder why?

Monday, September 27

"One billion gagillion fafillion shabadabalo shabadamillion shabaling shabalomillion yen" Dr. Evil

Remember the song If I Had A Million Dollars by Bare Naked Ladies? That was 1993.

Fast forward to 2010, and we are now listening to that catchy tune I Want To Be A Billionaire (so freakin' bad) by Travie McCoy (whoever the hell that is).

Good lawdy miss clawdy! A million to a billion in under 2 decades.

THE ILLUSION HAS BECOME REAL (courtesy of wall street)


Bud: You fuckin' used me

Gekko: Well, you're walkin' around blind without a cane, pal. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.

Bud: How much is enough, Gordon? When does it all end, huh? How many yachts can you water-ski behind? How much is enough, huh?

Gekko: It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a Zero Sum game – somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred – from one perception to another. Like magic. This painting here? I bought it ten years ago for sixty thousand dollars. I could sell it today for six hundred. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperately they want it. Capitalism at its finest.

Bud: How much is enough, Gordon?

Gekko: The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons – and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now, you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you, buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it. You've got that killer instinct. Stick around, pal, I've still got a lot to teach you.




I am looking forward to Oliver Stone's new Product Placement: 'Wall Street 2': Money Actually Sleeps Quite Well.
I never thought I'd say this, but I'm thinking of trying a bootleg movie download for this one. Don't tell anyone.

Bill Maher Interviews Richard Tillman brother of Pat Tillman

Am I the only one who never read about these comments from Pat Tillman's memorial service back in 2004?


Maher Praises Pat Tillman Brother Richard’s Rip Against Religion from Funeral


Maria Schriver: "Pat, you are home. You are safe."

John McCain: "You will see Pat again when a loving God reunites us all with our loved ones."

Richard Tillman: "Thank you for coming. Pat’s a fucking champion and always will be. Just make a mistake, he’d want me to say this. He’s not with God. He’s fucking dead. He’s not religious. So thanks for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.


Here's the video:



What do you think of these youtube comments? Speculation or the dirty rotten truth?

Pat Tillman was Killed, because he was going to expose the fact that our Government protects, and Sells, the Opium from Afghanistan.

THE GOVERNMENT LIED BECAUSE((THEY KILLED HIM!!))BECAUSE HE WAS WRITING HOME TELLING ABOUT THE ARMY RUNNING THE OPIUM TRADE!3 ROUNDS TO THE HEAD AT CLOSE RANGE WAS 'FRIENDLY FIRE? BULLSHIT! STUPID FKN AMERICANS...9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB...AFGANISTAN WAS ATTACKED SO ROCKEFELLERS EXXON/MOBILE COULD RUN A PIPELINE FROM THE KASPIAN(TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF OIL/ NATURAL GAS)AND THE C.I.A.s DRUG BUZINESS(OPIUM PROD. UP 1200% SINCE WE WENT IN)FUCK YOU STUPID AMERICAN SUCKERS,SAME GUYS KILLED KENNEDY!


I think about how frustrated we get about current events. I can't imagine how the Tillman Family copes.

Saturday, September 25

Saturday Anti-Sex Post

Well, it's not Friday, so it can't be the Sex Post, right?

In 1965, Citizens for Decent Literature whipped (hah!) this little film out, narrated and presented by journalist George Putnam. It purports to show how naughtiness in print and such can lead to all sorts of problems.



In my considered opinion, this is sort of the Reefer Madness of smut. It's not - quite - safe for work, and some of the rhetoric is way over the top.

Is this the face of the future? Will we be forced to sit through drivel like this if Christine O'Donnell and her overheated, sex-mad ilk get into office?

Friday, September 24

It's a "Small World" after all...

You can fool most of the people most of the time - if they are too lazy to change channels. But these same people believe, with NO PROOF, in a mythical Spirit who will take care of them for all eternity.

MUST SEE TV!


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, September 22

Tuesday, September 21

"Nine US troops killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash day after British quit Sangin"

"The US Apache attack helicopter crashed inflight after refueling during a several-hour firefight against the Taliban in Afghanistan's Zhari district on August 20. The cause of the crash is under investigation."


LINK

THE SEVENty-PERCENT SOLUTION

That’s us folks. Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” is pleading with his estimates of 75-80% of the people who are indeed sane but have lives to lead and are just too darn busy and too darn tired to give a shit anymore. I would love to take another road trip to The Mall. This one ought to be a hoot. I just hope it doesn’t end up being portrayed as the rally of stoned slackers and partying on dudes.

I would rather put my efforts into really spreading this message to restore sanity and to “Bring it down a notch for America”. EVERYONE (probably more than 70-80%) has had it. EVERYONE seems mad as hell. We’re all sick of the two-party, corporate sponsored political charade we are now watching 24/7. We should spend the whole week of 10/30/10 spreading the word about a “WE THE PEOPLE THIRD PARTY”. WE ARE THE SOLUTION.

Forget spoofing the glen becks and tea baggers. Let them babble on continuously about a few terrorists, abortion, religion and the gay agenda. WE could care less. We are peaceful people. We are kind people. No one gets to call ultimate moral victory simply by saying god is on their side. We don’t care who worships where, and we don’t care about what our neighbors choose to do in their own bedrooms, but we do care about reproductive rights. We care about the health and well being of our families, friends, and co-workers. We care about leaving the world a better place.

We need to get local, get organized and get the money out of politics. Local is key. We ARE the carpenters, teachers, nurses, and scientists. We build things, teach one another, help one another and figure out complicated things. WE are fully capable. Yes we need a “government” so to speak. I’m sure we can all take turns as statesmen and women to oversee all the things we share as keepers of this earth. OUR civic duty. I think we the people can figure it out on our own. We are fed up with the non-stop political campaigning by these elitists who claim to have our interests at heart. I don’t think too many people are falling for all of the hope and change anymore. It won't happen until WE make it happen

It’s going to take a long time but we really need to start. Now. I know a third party is viable. I can feel it. There’s plenty of talk about it. I’m not sure how I feel about Bloomberg but he’s got money and we don’t so I guess maybe he might be the one to get this party started? Oh I don’t know. Let’s just at least start brainstorming in the blog-o-sphere for now. Start by forwarding George Washington's Farewell Address To The People of the United States to all the people in your contact list.

How about getting Jon Stewart to support local rallies on 10/30/10 by challenging fox news to cover the events. We’ll see how fair and balanced they are. I think this rally could be the start of something serious. Let’s make sure it gets started. We really need to make sure it doesn’t turn into a farce.

What do you think? Any Ideas? Maybe we can brainstorm in the morning.

I’ll pass the post around the blogrolls to see if there is any interest or comment.





Sleep tight, and don’t let the b... b...
bill collector get you down.

blonde is back

by blondesense liz

I've been away from politics on the blogs for a few weeks. How have you all been? I've missed you. I'm so out of the loop. I apologize.

Interestingly, here in NY, I have yet to come across a single person who actually gives a shit whether or not a "mosque" or Muslim anything gets built near ground zero. It's not like it's being built on ground zero or anything. What's more offensive is that there is still a big crater in the ground 9 years later in lower Manhattan. Now that's insulting to the families of the the victims! They couldn't plant a lawn or something in the meantime? Sheesh. I would have helped. For free.

Have any of you met an actual straight person who is actively campaigning against gay rights? I haven't.

I'm finding it less infuriating to discuss the current state of affairs in the US with rich Republicans than Republican wannabe rednecks. While both groups of conservatives are seriously misinformed at the moment because they have fallen victim to the the corporate media spin on everything, at least the rich ones have somewhat of a reason to be Republican conservatives... and most of them are not heartless and angry like the redneck wannabe's. They just like being rich and getting richer. You just need to point out to them that they are in the upper 2% of the country and the rest of us are in deep shit. It's not easy, but with some serious pleading, you can get through to them to at least look at the whole picture.

It breaks my heart to hear middle and lower middle class folks who are just struggling along like the rest of us blab on and on about the immigrants, the poor, the infirm, union workers, the handicapped, et al, being such a drag on our society and sucking up all their tax money. They sound so mean... so cruel... so heartless. I know they don't mean to be mean and they are hurting too and wondering what tomorrow may bring... but honestly, it's the wars that need to be addressed as well as corporate welfare.

Hell, I'd be a tea-partier too if they'd address the real problems in the country and not let the politicians and media mouthpieces who are bought and paid for by the corporations frame the debate. The tea partiers are so stupid though. God help us. They get all this publicity and they're dumber than shit.


I'm angry that my tax money is making so many people rich in the banking and war industries. I'm not angry that Juan is taking a $7.25/hour job or working off the books for $2/hr. It's not his fault. Why not place the blame where it needs to be? On the businesses that exploit desperately needy people. If these businesses can't function without paying living wages to employees, then maybe they need to rethink their business plans.

If I were a CEO of a corporation that was keeping thousands of employees living at or below the poverty line, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night.

America sucks. How many countries have "working poor"?

I applied for a few jobs recently and was offered minimum wage. I laughingly handed back the applications to the store managers. Seriously, I can just cut back on spending and be in the same economic situation as an unemployed person who gets to walk in the park everyday. $7.25/hour isn't going to give me any spending power to help the economy bounce back. I'll just cut down on my cable tv channels and eat out less often. I'm lucky that I can do that. I know it.

Actually, I am once again embarking on my own business utilizing my creative talents. More on that when I feel like writing about it. In addition, my son and I also hit thrift stores and garage sales then resell the stuff on ebay for sometimes five or ten times what we paid. Mostly we just triple the investment, which is cool. It's hard work, but it's kind of fun. I just bought something for $30 and got $250 for it on ebay. It's not always that lucrative.

My health care saga marches on. We pay almost $1000/month for family health care insurance. We have to battle with each and every claim. I'm still battling from 2 health care insurance plans ago and the recent one. Now we have to change plans once again because of the husband's job. Here we go again. I have over $150,000 in outstanding medical bills and I've been insured all along. I'm not sickly. I had a few illnesses that had to be taken care of of and are under control now ... god forbid I should ever become debilitated.

America sucks. How can a family or a person who is supposedly insured against health care catastrophes face bankruptcy because of an ulcer and a hernia? This person has owned a home for 30 years, paid the mortgage regularly, paid taxes, worked, went to college, put kids through college, broke no laws, mowed the lawn, joined a nice parish, voted in November each year and participated in community activities. Fuck doing the right thing. Maybe crime does pay?

My son graduated from college 3 years ago and has yet to find a decent job. He's back in school now for nursing. It will take another 2 years to complete and will wind up with a BS in nursing or BSN. I have urged him to make plans to find a nice (Socialist) country somewhere else to take residence in when his schooling is completed. If he stays in this area and can find a job, the positions start at $65,000/yr. Not bad. Right? Of course, that depends on whether or not he can actually find a job here.

Is there any way we can make it so that congress and senate critters only reap health bennies during their stay in DC? How can you possibly have a reasoned debate about health care when those who get to be on television talking about it are sucking the best health care plan from the government tit for the rest of their lives? This is just plain wrong. And they need term limits. This is not a democracy. We are not governed by "the people".

But believe it or not, I'm in a pretty darn good mood otherwise. I'd like to go to DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity next month. Anyone going?


Do any of you live near New Orleans? I'll be vacationing there next week.

Love
Liz

The Bristol Stomp...



So she's a star, eh?

What am I missing here?

I wonder if Mama told her not to come...

Saturday, September 18

Saturday Night Music Club Featuring Chris Botti, Yo-Yo Ma, and Steven Tyler

Hey ladies, check out this blond boy and his trumpet...

Any instrument well played will open my heart, but only the heavenly scream of a trumpet will rapture my Soul
~ Joe Correia



(about the song)

(More Chris Botti in Boston videos - Sting, Josh Groban, John Mayer, and more)



What instrument opens your heart?





Here's Chris Botti with Steven Tyler (New American Idol Judge?)

He can still belt one out. Can't wait to see him sitting next to J-Lo (?)



What's playing in your music world?

Thursday, September 16

Illegal drug use up. Violent Crime down for 3rd straight year. Gun sales reach all time high.

Illegal drug use UP

Gun Ownership UP

Violent crimes DOWN


Anyone...




Anyone...

Kewel

You gotta hand it to them...





Not A Mental Image I Wanted


I ran across Talking Points Memo and this leaped up at me like an alien face-hugger:

Rove, O'Donnell and Palin Get Into Heated 3-Way

Try to get that mental picture out of your heads for a moment. I know I should have reserved this for Friday, but the article is illustrative of the cannibalism going on in my Party.

And a reason for my unseemly glee at the prospect of the GOP imploding.

Tea Party and Anti-Masturbation Candidate Christine O'Donnell managed to win against the establishment GOP candidate in Delaware for Joe Biden's vacant Senate seat, prompting the oleaginous Karl Rove to opine that the Republicans would fail to win the seat.

This pronunciamento from the man once touted as "Bush's Brain" brought down a firestorm of abuse from the real intellectuals of the Party - Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.

Rove might be right about this one, but there's no way the Democrats can afford to be complacent. Control of the Congress rests on a knife's edge, and we'll have to wait until November to see if Washington will end up hopelessly jammed until 2012.

But I just wanted to share that headline with you on a Thursday morning.

Saturday, September 11

Quo Vadis?

Where are you going?

That's the question that I find myself asking as various people and groups recall the events of Black Tuesday, nine years ago today.

Where are you going, America?

It is a truth that past is prologue, so let's take a quick look back in order to see where we might be going. My own judgment of the future is spotty, but I ask you to bear with me and I'll do my best.

The nine years after the attacks have resulted in two wars, neither of which are over. We have been actively engaged in military actions longer than we were involved in World War Two, in which we destroyed three highly industrialized empires with odious ideologies and armies totaling millions. At the present resting point in our military actions in Southwest and South Asia, we have mortgaged our economy and killed thousands of our fighting men and women, in an effort to defeat a ragged mass of unwashed troublemakers who never numbered more than ten thousand.

Militarily, we have lost Iraq as a geopolitical counterweight. When the Baghdad Government finally sorts itself out, you will likely find that it is more closely bound to Tehran than to Washington. The Sunni Gulf States have already started concerted action in an attempt to make up for the loss of Iraq's military strength. Whether it will be enough is anyone's guess.

In Afghanistan, we may have already lost. We can take the country, at tremendous cost in lives and treasure, but the experience of centuries tells us that we cannot hold it. We will have to leave eventually, and our habit of leaving forward bases behind will not be tolerated. Our allies will likely back out before we withdraw.

Economically, we are mortgaged, bound hand and foot. Much of this can be laid at the feet of the previous Administration, which financed its wars with borrowed money in order to slash taxes for the upper one percent of the population and deregulate things to the point that we're in far greater danger of dying from salmonella poisoning than from terrorist acts. Pulling ourselves out of this hole and eventually reducing the deficit will be a long and very painful process. The Obama Administration, in its hell-bent desire for an illusory consensus, has done only half-measures and essentially squandered its legislative advantage.

Ideologically, the repeated failures of the Bush Administration led to a stunning repudiation of Republican and conservative policies. This discredited the Party establishment, giving an entree to the extreme right wing to take over the reins. On a historical note, we saw this in the Democratic Party after the 1972 debacle - the Party Right purged the liberal and radical elements that McGovern tried to install. The difference here is that the GOP has no liberal wing and a very vestigial moderate faction. The only alternatives it has are Right, Very Right and Far Right.

This has led to the phenomenon known as The Tea Party, which isn't anything really new. It's partly tax revolt enthusiasts and people who think that government should be abolished. Of course, such a knee-jerk reaction to their Party's defeats is to be expected, and the Establishment is fighting a rear-guard action. Some are even embracing Tea Party ideals in an effort to remain in power. What is unfortunate is that the knee-jerk reaction of the Tea Partiers gives no space for sober reflection (as evidenced by the continued vocal support for tax breaks for the rich, when most of these people are lower or middle class).

In terms of our national psyche (if I may use such a sweeping generalization), the Black Tuesday attacks were the equivalent of a man getting mugged in a meadow. Once and for all our mythic aura of invulnerability was dispelled, and that scares and bewilders us. Fear now rules, and that fear causes us to lash out without thinking - witness George W Bush's knee-jerk assumption that Iraq was involved, when Bush was already determined to do something militarily about Saddam Hussein as far back as 1999.

Fear causes us to go to extremes in search of a sense of security, no matter how much of an illusion it may be. Church attendance went up in the wake of the attacks, as people tried to make sense of the incident and find some support (my theory on that is that we - even as adults - are children deep in our brains, and hunger for our parents' protection when things get bad). Right now, we have hogtied, limited, or outright abandoned many of our cherished liberties and given the police and government sweeping powers in the hopes that we can be made safe. It's another illusion, of course. The Underpants Bomber proved that, even after Black Tuesday, a lone actor can get past security.

Fear also causes us to find a target, a scapegoat. For many centuries, it was Jews; now it's Muslims, or anyone of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent. Some conspiracy theorists also blame the Freemasons, or the government itself (recalling, no doubt, government attempts to subvert Martin Luther King and the Vietnam-era antiwar movement).

Fear is what is leading us into religious extremism, as Christianity is subverted, perverted, mutated in defense of what appears to be a militant Islam that takes the place of monolithic Communism in many minds. Islam is a noble faith, and the nations that adhere to it are, interestingly enough, nations that were occupied or held as colonies by the Christian West. Coincidence? You be the judge of that.

Book burnings, like the threatened burnings of Korans, are not usual in the United States. We are usually content to ban books that we don't like; burning books smacks too much of certain events in Germany in the Thirties. But this is not usual. This is extremism, motivated by fear.

Fear leads to anger.

Anger leads to hate.

Hate leads to suffering.

It's a movie cliche, but it's absolutely true, gentle readers. Absolutely true, as true as the planet rotates.

It is a great effort to rise above fear, to avoid an impulsive reaction, to sit back and recall the words of Franklin Roosevelt: " ... let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear... is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

As the sun set on Black Tuesday nine years ago I recited the Mass for the Dead, then called to mind a line from Aeschylus:

"Cry sorrow, sorrow - yet let good prevail!"

Good, so far, has not prevailed.

So where are you going, America?

Friday, September 10

FINALLY!! A use for auto tune AND the Nightly News. Brought to you by THE GREGORY BROTHERS.

From KMBC.com "A woman getting coffee tells KMBC-TV what happened when two would-be robbers walked into the Shell gas station."




And here's the same news piece, brilliantly auto tuned by the Gregory Brothers:




more about the Gregory Brothers

Obligatory Friday Sex Post

Are you sometimes too tired for sex?

Could it be your bed, rather than your partner(s)?

Well, this may be just what you need! Designed by the Italian firm Sogniflex, the bed (costing about $2400) has straps on it to hang onto when passions run high, and a strategically-placed trench for you to put your knees. Judging from the picture, it looks like it's also easy to wipe clean - Lord knows it can get messy when fluids and lube start flying.

And, guys?

When you get so horny that you're pestering your wife for sex when she's doing something else (like vacuuming the carpets), you need to retire to the bathroom or bedroom and rub out a quick one. Just to take the edge off, mind you.

A woman in Ukraine had that problem, and one thing led to another ... and the Horny Hubby ended up strangled with the vacuum cleaner cord. She says she didn't mean to, of course, and I believe her.

Funny old world we live in, ain't it?

Another Morford Masterpiece: Burn a Bible, save a kitten

by Mark Morford, SFGate, Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Way out there on the wicked, broken fringes of society, those ugly and savage edges that always seem to be moving ever closer to the mainstream and appear more dangerous to the collective soul than ever, there live some masterful miscreants of the human drama, bizarre creatures so moldy and low they can't but help you see the world anew.

You can, for example, happily read about the latest wanderings of Fred Phelps' adorable "God Hates Fags" cluster of manure clumps from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., right now picketing everything from military funerals to high school musicals, Laramie Project lectures to various modest Christian churches that dare to promote tolerance and love. Phelps and his little bucket 'o bile are widely considered the finest freakshow in all of Nutball Godsville.

Then again, competition abounds. Perhaps you've read about that other amoral chunk of anti-spiritual razor wire named Terry Jones, a leathery little Florida pastor with his tiny flock of 50 whack-nut imbeciles who've decided to go forth with their T-shirt-ready "Burn a Quran" day on September 11th? Talk about your genius marketing. I predict a new reality show.

Jones' charmingly repulsive event has not only outraged the easily outraged fundamentalist fringes of Afghanistan (really, it doesn't take much) but also a very unhappy American general who thinks Jones' flagrant idiocy could endanger the lives of American soldiers. Not bad for a shriveled, pea-sized soul from Florida, eh Terry? Jesus would be so proud.

Don't stop just yet. What about that (now-ex) Tea Party slug named Tim Ravndal, suddenly infamous for posting a sweet little joke on Facebook about lynching gay people to death -- a thoughtful reference to Matthew Shepard -- because apparently Ravndal's God-given right to be a tiny-brained macho cockroach from Montana are threatened by the fact that some people are far more secure in their sexuality than he will ever be? Oh, Tea Party, will your nefarious gifts never cease?

On it devolves. How low do you want to go? Nazi skinheads? Black Tea Party inverto-racists? The 57 percent of Republicans who think Obama is a Muslim? Feverish Glenn Beck sycophants loading up the pickup truck with shotguns and Coors Light, on their way to take out an abortion clinic or maybe a Gay Pride parade, but who take the wrong exit and/or drive into a wall because they can't read the GPS?

Comedic horrors thrive, moronism seems to inbreed and fester, and most of it manifests under the banner of a mutant Christian God, or extreme conservatism, or some form of fundamentalist moral outrage that can't exactly be explained but which often makes its most devout adherents appear to be nothing more than frenetic fleas sucking blood from the Great Hound of life. The beast merely scratches and sighs, and keeps right on gnawing the bone of eternity.

Perhaps you stop to ponder, as I occasionally do, the curious fact that you never read about, say, a die-hard Richard Dawkins fanatic going off hinge and orchestrating a marvelous "Burn A Bible, Save A Kitten" protest event. Or perhaps a Unitarian Church minister commanding her flock to load up their Priuses with Ecstasy and rum to go spike the punch at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing-along. Wouldn't that be fun? Wouldn't that make a powerful counter-statement? Damn right it would.

Where is the liberal outrage? Where are the extreme acts of radical love? Where is the crazed "Daily Show" fan secretly planning to dump 10,000 gallons of Astroglide on Fox News HQ because Jon Stewart appeared in a pot-induced fever dream and ordered them to?

I still await the hippie liberal apocalypse. I still await my fellow progressives gathering at the Lincoln Memorial in calmly organized outrage, armed with Sigg bottles full of Cabernet and copies of the New Yorker, demanding free iPads for the poor and more compound sentences on CNN. Hell, I just came back from that infamous neo-pagan antichrist orgy known as Burning Man, and all I got was this lousy glow stick.

Oh, the hardcore lefty fringe has its violent cretins, to be sure, natty Earth Firsters to slavering PETA blood hurlers, eco-terrorists and freako off-grid cults, but those groups never claim to be a vital part of the Democratic Party. Liberalism does not depend on terrible education rates to survive.

The GOP, on the other hand, sucks hard from the teat of ignorant extremism, splashes gleefully in the shallow mud puddles of Sarah Palin's battered grammar, draws much of its power from the worst the human spectacle has to offer. Simply put, the modern Republican Party would not exist without its army of high school dropouts drunk on Rush Limbaugh and sexual dread. It's not difficult to imagine "Burn a Quran Day" becoming a new Texas state holiday.

What to make of it? After all, the world has always been speckled with rabid clowns, an endless parade of spittle-flecked sociopaths that make us shudder and sigh, many with "Reverend" before their names or "Show" just after it. American culture is rife with worldviews so narrow and poorly educated, you can be quickly convinced we are but an inch from permanent insanity.

Or maybe not. I prefer to think of these fine denizens of dumb as the darker, skankier parts of our individual consciousness, the red flags of the soul. Should we not be grateful they exist? That they are here to remind us to be ever vigilant and wary? Hell yes we should.

After all, the Fred Phelps, the Glenn Becks, the Terry Jones of the world are but our basest natures made manifest, the bleakest, most paranoid, lazily ignorant parts of each and every one of us. Deny it at your peril. As Joseph Conrad once wrote, "the bitterest contradictions and the deadliest conflicts of the world are carried on in every individual breast capable of feeling and passion." He should know.

These wretched little demons, they are eternal. They have always been here. And they exist to deliver but one message: If you're not conscious, if you don't pay attention, if you don't fill your cup to brimming every single day with laughter and paradox, love and possibility, if you don't deeply appreciate the madhouse irony of this completely gorgeous, impossibly ruthless human experiment, well, they will but fester like a sore on your big toe, and you'll no longer be able to dance.

Wednesday, September 8

Friday, September 3

Rumination

For my 1200th post, I had thought of something celebratory.

But then the 1200th post coincided with the official end of the combat phase of Our Imperial Folly in Iraq, and 'celebratory' was not in the cards.

So here goes.

Sometimes when empires die, they go quietly, with little fanfare. The Western Roman Empire 'fell' officially in 476 when Odoacer told the last Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, to go home and not come back. At the time, few noticed (Odoacer was running things anyway), and the date is still considered pretty arbitrary.

The United States had its first imperial experiment immediately after the Spanish-American War, where we found ourselves looking after Spain's former colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Of the three, Puerto Rico is still ours; we have not been asked to leave yet. We gave up the Philippines after World War Two, basically taking a step we had reluctantly been heading towards before the Japanese attacked. Cuba was a nominally independent state, and is now the subject of our continuing ire.

Speaking of Cuba, it may interest many to note that the Castro Government has authorized people to start owning land and allowing "foreign powers" to lease property up to 99 years. With US sanctions still in place, that means that others will gain the benefits of this emerging market, not us.

Our war in Iraq is still going on, and Americans will still be dying for what was essentially ground of no value in the first place.

When the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan, they left in daylight, with the commanding general walking across the border as the last man to leave.

Our last combat unit left under cover of darkness. Two soldiers stood at the Kuwaiti border with flags, and the official Pentagon announcement was the live coverage you saw on the NBC News. That was it.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Wars have changed since WW2. There are no longer any grand peace conferences or clear moments that we can point to and declare, "Here is where it ended." Now wars end ambiguously, with people scratching their heads wondering What The Hell Happened, who's going to pay for it, and who's going to clean up the mess.

We won't ask who won, because we know already.

The Islamic Republic of Iran won. By taking out the only regional counterweight to Iran, we disturbed the balance of power in Southwest Asia. I'm not going to suggest that Israel is capable of stopping Iran, as even the other Arab powers consider the Jewish state less than trustworthy.

Our imperial adventure in Iraq has so far resulted in the loss of $750 Billion dollars that were not ours. We borrowed that money, folks, so that George Bush and his cronies wouldn't have to raise taxes on the rich. The Deficit? Cheney said that deficits don't matter, so what are people like Boehner, Ryan and the others yawping about?

The final word has yet to be said about Iraq, but I will close by saying this:

This war started on bad intentions and false pretenses - there was no way it could have ended otherwise than the way it did.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.