Thursday, April 30, 2009

With obvious apologies to that dude that does that redneck bit

Have you noticed how many people are out there talking through the tubes of the internets, spewing right-wing talking points such as “torture works,” and “Obama’s a socialist,” and yet when you make a comment about the Republican party, they quickly assert that they are “Independent,” and “disgusted by both parties”?

It’s officially a trend, according to Pew Research. In 2004, one in three people identified themselves as Republican. Now it’s less than one in four.

That’s not to say that conservatives are getting less conservative. They’re just too fucking chickenshit to stand up for the party that embodies their beliefs.

Yeah, for all their guns and hellfire and damnation, they sure are a bunch of pussy-ass motherfuckers.

I mean, seriously, can you believe that shit? I have always been proud to be a Democrat, because even in our dark days, it’s the ideals of our party that make us super badass. We cannot be truly represented by any one politician, no matter how cool he is, and we cannot be brought down by just one, either. The Democratic party is like that loud ethnic family on your block: they’re always screaming at each other, and they can be verbose and sentimental and bull-headed, but they look out for one another. At first they seem kind of embarrassing, but in the end, they stick up for people, even if they don’t see eye to eye with them. Not like that scary repressed WASP-y family across the street. No one wants to be them, no matter how much money they have. Sure, it’s nice that all their bullying makes them successful at protecting their money and buying expensive things, but hey, what good are expensive things when no one wants to sit next to you at the block party because you’re so damn mean?

Still, I think that admitting you have a problem is the first step toward healing. And so, as a service to Republicans, I am giving them a handy guide for self-diagnosis. Here’s hoping they put it to good use, and get some help before it’s too late.

You Might Be a Republican If…

If you think that the TV show “24” is proof that torture works…you might be a Republican.

If Dick Cheney’s word is good enough for you…you might be a Republican.

If you listed “the specter of gay marriage” on your divorce papers as the reason why your own heterosexual marriage didn’t pan out…you might be a Republican.

If you don’t understand that Colbert is making fun of you…you might be a Republican.

If you uttered nary a peep for six years about the 3 trillion we’re spending in Iraq, but go apoplectic and don a hat made of teabags at the mention of 800 billion for projects to benefit the USA…you might be a Republican.

If you think Sarah Palin is qualified to govern, um, anything…you just might be a Republican.

If you have no idea what ACORN is, but are pretty sure it’s out to ruin America…you might be a Republican.

If you think hate crimes legislation will end free speech, but support the FCC ban against saying naughty words on the TV…you might be a Republican.

Of the last two presidential candidates, you think Obama was the one not born in the United States…you might be a Republican.

If you think the president’s use of a teleprompter is worth even one second of discussion…you might be a Republican.

If you think that if a president authorized it, it can’t be illegal…you just might be a Republican. Hell, you might even be a former Secretary of State.

If you oppose abortion, but support the death penalty, extraordinary rendition and waterboarding…you are definitely a Republican.

If you think the best way to “represent” California is to advocate disenfranchising 5% of the state’s population…you’re a Republican, all right. Oh, and if your idea of “helping young girls with their self-esteem” is to get state pageant officials to pay for your boob job…you’re definitely a cunt as well.

If you're a closeted homosexual who digs anonymous gay sex but preaches that gays are evil...dang it, there's not even a joke there. The odds are real damn good that you're a Republican.

Readers, this list is by no means comprehensive. I invite you to submit your own “you might be a Republican if” in the comments.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Milky Way, United States Get Bronx Cheer

I am so ready for some good news, readers. I want us to do something right for once. We have been on the fucked-up side of history for so long, even the universe is giving us the razzberry.

This will have to do for now: nine Republicans crossed the party line to confirm Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services today; eight if you don’t count the newly Democraticalized Arlen Specter.

She’ll have to hit the ground running, especially since it seems likely that the US will have at least some swine flu fatalities, and the WHO just bumped our pandemic status up another notch, and Mexico has closed all its restaurants. Restaurants, y’all. Mexican restaurants. Closed. For health concerns. I don’t know about you, but if that doesn’t sound like one of the seven signs of the apocalypse, I don’t know what does.

The Republican opposition to Sebelius was centered around her pro-choice voting record. Wow, imagine, Obama nominating a pro-choice person for a position that oversees the government’s involvement in issues of women’s health. Crazy.

You know, Republicans, not to give away free advice to the party of torture lovers, but you might want to save your ju-ju for opposition to a position that is not 100% predictable and expected and proper and, like, the biggest “Whew!” that women have experienced in this country since McLovin left office eight years and 100 days ago.

And speaking of torture, leave it to the inimitable Harry Shearer and his indispensible Le Show to make me aware of what the major rags have not – that torture was used against prisoners for the purpose of, yes, finding that elusive link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

I’ll pause while you pick your jaw up off the floor. I know I had to, because, readers, even I did not think that we would stoop so low.

During the period in question, two “high-value” prisoners were water-boarded a total of 266 times between them. Knowing that, as we were subjecting them to simulated drowning, we were asking about the non-existent collaboration between Iraq and al-Qaida kinda sticks a big pin in that whole “ticking time bomb” Jack Bauer bullshit, don’t it? Witness:

"There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," [a former senior intelligence official said].

"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."

Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

"While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq," Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. "The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results."

Look, I can’t believe that any argument about torture as a policy would hinge upon whether or not it is effective. Torture is what third-world banana republics and despots and criminals and terrorists do, it’s not what we should do. It’s why you go to the goddamn trouble to create a civilization in the first place, so that things like basic human rights are afforded to everyone, not just those who obey the law, but everyone. Sixty years ago, we knew that. Sixty years ago, we prosecuted those who tortured in order to help win their war. Today, the question of whether or not to torture is fodder for the moronic yammer shows. What the fuck has happened to us?

And even if you can get around the morality, how the fuck do you justify waterboarding one person 183 times? I mean, do you say to yourself “Never mind, 183’s a charm!”????

And just for the record, it’s not effective. It’s just not. You know who used to torture, but stopped, because it WASN’T FUCKING EFFECTIVE? Israel. Yeah, Israel.

And you might say they know a thing or two about Islamic terrorism.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Selfish, shellfish

My mom ordered too much clam sauce.

And no, it’s not a euphemism. And ew, if you thought it was. No, mom literally ordered too many cans of clam sauce. Apparently there was a minimum amount you had to order, and so because she was jonesing for clam sauce which you apparently can’t get in the middle of Bumfucknowhere, Nebraska, she caved and she ordered those half a dozen cans from some online clam sauce purveyor.

So now five cans of clam sauce sit on the shelf in her pantry. And rather than consider herself in possession of an embarrassment of clam sauce riches, Mom is desperately seeking to unload a few cans.

The reasons for this are a little complicated, I suppose, if you’re not really familiar with the Midwest, as I’ve noted before. In a nutshell, my mom is becoming more and more aware of her mortality, and just in case she dies, she doesn’t want to be known as the crazy clam sauce lady. She doesn’t want one of her neighbors coming in her house, seeing five cans of clam sauce in her pantry and saying “Well! Wasn’t she fancy!” or “Who in the heck did she think she was?” or “Someone who spends that much on fixing up her noodles maybe should’ve put a little bit more in the collection plate on Sundays.”

Being a vegetarian, and with limited suitcase volume to boot, I was immune to Mom’s clam sauce entreaties, but I did get a chance to marvel at my sister’s mastery of the firm “no” and the change of subject.

The upshot is that Mom will either have to drastically increase her clam sauce intake, or finally, finally make peace with the knowledge that she will be judged by those Nebraskans she leaves behind no matter how hard she tries not to be.

My money’s on the former.

And aw, but Jeezy Creezy, but we do love focusing on all the wrong things, don’t we? Mom tried for an hour to explain to me why farmers hate regulation, because they don’t want the government to tell them they have to, say, terrace a corner of their field to prevent soil erosion – because it’s their field, dammit, and if they want it to erode then who by god can tell them otherwise? Never mind that their actual enemy is de-regulation, and the resistance by their favored Republican party to impose any restrictions on the market – the same market that fixes their prices and wipes out their profits in the blink of a future-trading eye.

If I could talk to them and make them listen, I would tell them that just as the tumbling economy and implosion of major financial institutions created a unique mandate to the US Government to prop up the pillars before the whole damn thing came tumbling down, so too it presented a unique opportunity to require revolutionary but prudent concessions from those same institutions. Concessions that would make their re-growth more efficient and durable. Concessions that would make the huge damn horsepill of a thing easier for us billpayers to swallow. But we didn’t. And the fault for that failure lies squarely at the feet of the last administration, BushCo, and most especially at the feet of their grand poobah of WTF?, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The morning after this last election day, when stunned Republicans picked themselves up off the floor – stunned that, after 5 years of catastrophic failures in Iraq, they could not succeed with a Presidential ticket headed by one of the premier congressional cheerleaders of that same damn stupid war – stunned that their selection of a white-trash version of W in a skirt didn’t inspire a majority of the voters to choose 4 more years of ignorant, Jesus-steeped nonsense – stunned that more people than not finally, finally, FINALLY saw through the charade – that morning, Republicans picked themselves up off the floor, crawled to their keyboards and into the studios of idiot-friendly yammer shows and declared that they were going to blame the economy on Obama.

No subtlety, no justifications or obfuscations necessary: BushCo’s follies and criminal collusions were to be recast as the result of Democratic over-spending and general big-governmentalness. “Why the fuck not?” they thought. “It’s the only idea we have right now, and besides, we’ll get at least a couple thousand idiots to buy it.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a couple thousand idiots:

As a general rule, you can pretty much always extract the word "Christian" from any protest placard, and substitute "bigoted self-deluded moron" in its place. This asshat is certainly no exception.

When making irrational arguments, it never hurts to cover all bases.

It's not easy to pull off racism whilst also employing an arcane pop culture reference. Kudos.

Hey, at least he's admitting that the Holocaust happened.

I saved the best for last, didn't I? I mean, as far-out as it seems, don't you think that somewhere, deep down, this dude has the hit the teabagging nail on its crazy-ass head? I do.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


All apologies, readers, for my lack of posts. It's been a little crazy.

I'm going to meet up with GKL in Boulder, and then travel from there to see the Moms.

I'll be back next week. Unless the teabags get me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

It’s a tough world, y’all. Muslims may don blackface to imitate your president. Asians insist on having complicated names. Adorable comic actors are rationalizing date rape.

The press is taunting vegetarians and calling our concerns for the planet pretentious and tiresome, which probably assures us of some kind of Al Gore-type told-you-so status in the coming years, but still.

Plus, it turns out pirates are kinda sympathetic, after all.

And the courageous and outspoken director of LSU’s Hurricane Center, who refused to be silent about the criminal neglect committed against the residents of New Orleans by the Army Corp of Engineers, has finally been fired by the University. BushCo, even though out of office, has a long reach indeed.

A unique symbol of the American Revolution is being co-opted by corporations and the lobbyists and think tanks that shill for them, as citizens born without the sense god gave a goose cheer them on.

Our president struggles well to make himself heard and to be the thing that keeps our bloated and half-drowned asses from going under for the last time. And for his efforts, he is ridiculed by terrible people who seem to have no problem with the fact that they are, or might become, the inspiration for awful, pointless violence.

I love my country dearly, and I am sorely tired of pointing this out to those that believe that they can only gain for themselves at the expense of others. The world is corrupt, foolish, and reckless, and becoming more so every day, it seems. Is it any wonder that at last Friday’s wonderful, amazing, heartbreaking Leonard Cohen concert, the following poem cut through my skin and into my soul like a hot knife through Chinese drywall?

Thank you, Uncle Lenny.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The culture of afterthoughts

"Certainly the views of the administration have been and will be communicated to the Karzai government. And we think that it is very important for us to be sensitive to local culture but we also think there are certain basic principles that all nations should uphold." - President Obama, on the impending passage of an Afghan law abolishing the rights of Shia women.

Yes, let’s be certain to remain sensitive to local culture. It’s very important.

The next time some redneck tells me that Obama is “uppity,” I’m going to remember to be sensitive to his culture and the long tradition white people have of putting colored people in their place.

Also, when I see pictures of those Minutemen guarding our border, talking about shooting any Mexicans they see trying to cross, I’m going to remember it then, too.

I’m especially going to remember it the next time a Muslim member of my community talks about their business being targeted by anti-Muslim vandals. “Hey,” I’m going to say, “Christians have a rich and storied history filled with the harassment and killing of Muslims. We have to be sensitive to their culture.”

Hm. So, I have been waiting, ever since the news about Afghanistan’s new law came out, to hear how we will respond. And I gave Obama more than a few days, knowing that he does prefer to know what he’s talking about before he speaks.

The response pretty much sucks. Because not only does Obama temper his criticism of the law he calls “abhorrent” by reminding everyone that beating, raping, and generally oppressing women is part of Afghanistan’s “culture,” but he also stressed, multiple times, that our mission there is to wipe out Al-Qaeda, period.

How does this jive with Hillary Clinton’s statement, made at The Hague just days before the details of the Afghan law were revealed, that "women's rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama administration; they are not marginal; they are not an add-on or an afterthought"?

I don’t know about you, readers, but it’s looking pretty afterthought-y to me. Kinda like a photo op of a president who’s a big basketball fan, and who fills out his NCAA men’s bracket for the cameras, completely forgetting that there is, you know, also a women’s NCAA tournament going on at the same time.

In any event, Karzai has promised, under international pressure, to “review” the law, although he’s also indicated that he doesn’t understand what the big deal is and the law looked just fine to him the first time the Shias came to him and said sign this and we’ll support you, but whatever.

Yes, it’s reassuring that the president of a country whose brand new constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women doesn’t understand why it’s okay to sign a law that makes women living under Sharia the powerless slaves of their husbands or fathers. And you know who else doesn’t understand it? The parliament that passed the law. One female lawmaker gave a statement to the media that effectively said: Meh. It could’ve been worse.

Indeed, it could’ve been. And no doubt the next time Karzai needs to suck up to some fucking brutal bullshit hater minority, it will be. A government is only as good as those who are exploiting it for their own personal power, after all. And the government of Afghanistan’s first democratically-elected president has been marked by corruption on a scale that you’d normally think possible only in a land ruled by a thousand different warring despots.

Oh, wait.

And our prospects of changing Afghanistan into a nation that gives a good goddman about women are not particularly good. Look at another one of the fucked-up ‘Stans: Pakistan, our long-time Cold War ally. In 1988 they elected their first female head of state (and first female head of a Muslim country, ever), something the US has yet to accomplish. Of course, these days, they’re not so much into electing women into office as beating them publicly for being seen on the street with a man to which they are not related.

Readers, you know your country is fercockt when the same dude screaming that the release of the video of said beating is a conspiracy against Islam, is also claiming that the woman got off lightly, and rightly should have been put to death.

In other words, the video is fake because the real one would’ve been way worse? Fucking yikes, dude.

There is no winning here, readers. Given the fluidity of the border and the sympathies of the Pakistanis, there is no ridding Afghanistan of terrorists without also invading Pakistan, and we do not want to invade Pakistan. Maybe next year, if we economize, you know, and cut back on the bank buyouts, and make a few big payments on our credit card.

Until then, as far as I’m concerned, Afghanistan is Vietnam, and Pakistan is Cambodia, and we need to take our lumps and walk away. There is no winning of hearts and minds possible anymore. We are too far gone for that. And maybe all the people who believe that our retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq will mean collapse of the region are wrong, just like all the Domino theorists were wrong.

Frankly, besides the welfare of the women of these countries, whom we appear to be powerless to help anyway, I can’t see a reason to stay one more minute.