Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't be a Dancing Bear

     15 or more years ago, my last family and I would go camping in New Hampshire and during those vacations, we'd go to Clark's Trading Post. Depending on your viewpoint, Clark's was either a delightful tourist trap, the perfect place to take the wife and kiddies or it was some exploitative place that used bears for the idle and witless amusement for those who loved to see them do tricks.
     But politics and animal rights has to take a back seat when one is on vacation with the fam so on two occasions we'd see the stupid little tricks the staff would make the bears do.
     Yet the only way in which they could get these so-called trained bears to do even the simplest stupid little tricks was to constantly shovel soft-serve ice cream in their mouths. Through their portable mics, they'd even admit that if they stopped constantly feeding ice cream, the fat, furry greedy bastards would immediately stop performing and perhaps even turn on them with lethal force.
     The bears could be looked upon by the more cynical of us as the Teabaggers, with the staff the Republican Party that feeds and enables them. Except, instead of soft-serve ice cream, they throw them red meat on a constant basis. The minute the red meat stops slapping on the concrete, the Teabaggers will revolt, stop performing their stupid little astroturf tricks and turn on their GOP handlers.
     Scott Brown learned that the first time he cast a vote in the Senate that agreed with the Democrats. A typical self-serving politician, he cynically used the Teabaggers to defeat Martha Coakley when they ran for the late Ted Kennedy's seat. Then he forgot they even existed once he was sworn in. After all, who cares about the Teabaggers when you can always suck up to the Koch Brothers for a cash infusion?
     And, just as much as when Obama was running for the presidency in 2008 and 2012, we're going to be hearing about blow jobs and Benghazi for the next fucking 18 months, especially if Hillary Clinton, God help us, actually gets the nomination. And you're going to see the red meat fly like a food fight at a junior high cafeteria. Because the GOP seems to think the Teabaggers make up a much larger faction than they really are.
     But the Teabaggers didn't just spontaneously rise up fully-formed as Athena from the skull of Zeus. As anyone who's been paying attention to these mouth-breathing psychopaths knows, they're just regurgitated and reconstituted Klansmen, militia types, anarchists and libertarian holdovers. They are the dregs of human society who all have a few things in common: Not wanting to pay their taxes, not being regulated even when it's absolutely essential and basically being allowed to flout, ignore or outright break the law when it impinges on their "sovereign rights."
     And now I'm going to say something that'll briefly get me in hot water with some Democratic deadenders who still insist that voting for a so-called Democrat like Hillary Clinton is still better than voting for the slightly less extreme and lobbyist-infested Republican: I'm not voting for Hillary. I've made my views on this known.
     When I voted for Dennis Kucinich in the '08 Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary, my ex girlfriend told me my vote was wasted and I told her that a vote of conscience was never a wasted vote. Yeah, I voted for Obama later that year but did it holding my nose because I bought into the bullshit that a third party candidate had no validity and no chance of winning.
     Sure. Tell that to Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders.
     And those of us who fancy ourselves on the "right" side of the tracks also need our red meat. Only, instead of "nigger", "Muslim" and "Benghazi", we respond to "universal single payer health care", "campaign finance reform" and "investing in peace." But red meat by another name is still red meat and you'd be surprised how fast it disappears in your stomach once you gobble it down.
     Hillary Clinton had more lobbyists attached to her campaign in 2008 than K Street and the Federal Bureau of Prisons combined, more than even John McCain's campaign. She was a corporate attorney that was on Walmart's Board of Directors and she opportunistically got herself reelected to her Senate seat out of New York even though it was the most open secret of the day that she wouldn't even last the year before wildly throwing her hat in the big ring like Mary fucking Tyler Moore and look what happened.
     And I will believe to my dying day that Hillary Clinton inspired Meryl Streep when she played that hard-as-nails, ball-cutting Senator in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate.
     One more thing I will keep repeating to my dying breath is the illusion that we live in a nation with a Two Party system, something vehemently opposed by both George Washington and John Adams. Such a fallacious story is the biggest bag over the head con job that's ever been pulled over the head of the American voter since the amusement park entrance fee, commercials on cable and extended warranties.
     Because when you get right down to it, both parties are alike. They will undercut underperformers when it comes time to count campaign contributions even if it means the Other Guy grabbing the seat when they withhold support for Their Guy. They all tiptoe through the back door of the Bilderberg group's meetings and they all work for the same Wall Street banks and the same corporations. Their pretense at shadow boxing each other and the fact that one side's rhetoric is slightly less extreme than the other has successfully fooled Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike into thinking there really is separation between the parties.
     Freelance journalist Michael Collins calls both The Money Party. And he's right.
     So don't put on the little tutu, don't dance on the yoga ball or ride the little tricycle and don't let them stuff your face with endless soft serve ice cream or red meat. Make an informed choice. Don't be a stupid dancing bear.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why Isn't Anyone Saying the "G" Word?

      Perhaps it's a semantic term relying heavily on sheer numbers. That is, after all, a prerequisite when looking at definitions of the word "genocide" in our most esteemed lexicons. Yet one cannot argue against the definition's expansion on reading the 1944 interpretation of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish jurist:
By 'genocide' we mean the destruction of an ethnic group... Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.
     Naturally, given the time in which this expansion of genocide's definition is ventured, Lemkin was obviously talking about the Holocaust and the horrors of the Warsaw ghettos. But totalitarian mindsets remain unchanged and eternal even if the victim profile changes every generation or so. And as the unwarranted deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott and now Eric Harris are painting a more and more detailed picture, we need not be talking about 6,000,000 murders of a class of people to use the word genocide.
     It had made the rounds last week that Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, while admitting details and specific numbers were lacking, was certain that in 2014 alone more African Americans were killed by police than had perished on 9/11. This is a horrifying enough statistic when one considers African Americans comprise only 12% or so of the national population. What's even more horrifying is that it seems every week brings news of a white cop killing another unarmed African American man, often shooting him in the back.
     As it happened with Eric Harris on April 2nd and Walter Scott a mere two days later.
     Yet, according to police and their invariably white, authoritarian-loving apologists (as long as said authoritarianism doesn't impinge on their "sovereign rights"), every one of these African Americans had it coming to them because they were "thugs" or maybe shouldn't've acted all uppity.
     Yet when one looks at police action in this generation, one sees more than a mere pattern of behavior. One can connect only so many dots before those dots actually begin to form a detailed picture as if it was some pointilist portrait of paranoia.
     James Holmes had murdered 12 people, wounded 58 more and was armed with several automatic weapons when he was taken alive without further incident.
     Jared Lee Loughner had murdered six, including a child and a judge, and nearly assassinated former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and sustained nothing worse than a black eye.
     Jeffery Dahmer had murdered and dismembered at least 17 men and boys and was taken into custody without incident.
     John Wayne Gacy had murdered nearly twice as many men and boys and was also taken into custody without incident.
     The list goes on.
     Now let's look at the other side of the coin, without having to resort to much cherry-picking.
     On New Year's Day 2009, Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed at Fruitvale Station for a crime he didn't commit while handcuffed and on his stomach. Officer Mehserle claimed he was going to tase the incapacitated Grant yet shot him with his pistol.
     17 year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by self-styled neighborhood watch captain and police groupie George Zimmerman for simply walking back to his father's house from the store after sundown, even after the latter had been advised by the Sanford police to stand down. He was exonerated. Zimmerman, despite subsequent repeated violent offenses, was hailed as a hero while Martin's name was smeared to the point of racists posting supposedly incriminating pictures of other young black males.
     John Crawford III was shot and killed by two police officers at an Ohio Walmart for holding a toy gun after a scared old white woman's call to 911 (Although she did say it was probably a toy gun.)
     12 year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by an unvetted, mentally-unstable Cleveland cop two seconds after his arrival for also holding a toy gun. He was then denied medical assistance and his distraught 14 year-old sister was actually arrested for Grieving While Black.
     19 year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, MO by Darren Wilson for jaywalking. Racists raised over half a million dollars for Wilson on Go Fund Me and sold tee shirts while claiming that cigars that Brown allegedly stole (he did not) alone justified his execution.
     Walter Scott was shot in the back and killed eight days ago in South Carolina for a busted tail light and the cop who shot him, Michael Slager, quickly and calmly planted a taser that Slager alleged was taken from him by Scott as if the planting of evidence is a default tactic in the wake of a racially-motivated shooting. The mainstream media, without double sourcing or vetting, blindly accepted and disseminated the police's version of events, including the alleged "scuffle" until the video emerged. (Yes, the MSM calmly reports that black people can be killed after a "scuffle.")
     In an eerie reprise of Fruitvale Station, Eric Harris was caught in a sting operation in OK on April 2nd and the 73 year-old reserve deputy pulled his gun instead of his taser and shot Harris in the back. When the dying victim gasped he couldn't breathe, one of the cops present said, "Fuck your breath."
     In Miami Gardens last February 15th, police shot and killed 25 year-old Lavall Hall, a mental-ill man, after family had called 911 for medical assistance. He was armed with nothing but a red broom he wasn't even holding at the moment of his execution.
     Last November, Kansas police shot and killed Carlos Davenport for wielding a sword on a second story balcony. As usual, the cops cited fear for their lives.
     Eric Garner was choked to death over a loose cigarette (that he didn't have) on Staten Island July last year by Officer Daniel Pantaleo with a choke hold that had been banned 21 years before. The man who filmed the incident was arrested on a suspicious gun charge and was only recently released from Riker's Island. Despite Mr. Orta's video evidence, Officer Pantaleo, as with Darren Wilson before him, was exonerated by a grand jury.
     Obviously, this is far from an exhaustive list and doesn't even include the countless murders of people of color by white civilians. Yet in virtually every one of these cases we see the same narrative replayed like a broken record: The officers were in "fear for their lives" despite not a single one of the victims being armed. Racists and fair weather police proponents insisting every one of the victims, including 12 year-old Tamir Rice, "had it coming to them."
     And, most inescapably, every single killer was white and every single victim was black.
     Yet, do we hear calls from the law enforcement community for a paradigm shift in attitude and policy in their rapidly deteriorating community relations? Hardly. Instead, we've seen a doubling down of the totalitarian mindset that makes these genocidal acts possible and going largely unpunished. Instead, we hear police chiefs and heads of police unions actually expressing rage that African Americans would dare to peacefully protest the murder of another one of their own with little or no provocation.
     They insist the protesters are muck-raking rioters, looters and are deliberately smearing the police, who are the real victims, further making community-police relations deteriorate. This insistence on portraying themselves as the victims, insisting the African Americans are needlessly inciting public disorder and have no right to protest an execution of one of their own and refusing to defuse volatile situations and that their safety should come before that of the public they're allegedly sworn to protect bespeaks of a mindset that is unmistakably motivated and guided by racism, fascism and paranoia.
     So, yes. Let us freely use the word "genocide" because we have literally come full circle from where we were when the Freedom Riders took to the streets half a century ago.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not So Happy Trails

     So, it all ended up with a hilarious Nigerian banker-type email I got from someone through Craigslist. The story doesn't begin so humorously. But I'm deliberately putting the cart before the ox. (Sometimes when listening to generic surf music, I fancy I'm the Quentin Tarantino of bloggers. But enough time displacement.)
     It started two days ago when my formerly even-tempered landlord of just over six years and I got into a completely unnecessary pissing match via text messaging. It stemmed from a separate pissing match he'd gotten into with his (now former) waste removal company who'd decided to pull a dick move on April 3rd (or the day Mrs. JP came back from Florida). They parked the dumpster after emptying it right in front of my car, blocking the walkway so I was retroactively in the wrong for having my car in the wrong spot, although I was parked in my designated parking spot.
     Long story short, I and not the dickish trash company got blamed for blocking egress which explains why my landlord insisted I had to move my car yesterday to make way for the platform truck that never actually arrived to take away the old dumpster. His fat-ass Ford F150 takes up almost half the driveway and I asked him why he couldn't move his truck instead of my having to move my car for a tow truck that could come at any time.
     After about a half a dozen exchanges, he finally tells me he's not renewing my lease when it expires. Nobody but Mrs. JP and me thinks this was a disproportionately harsh response to a spat via text message, the first one we've ever had in 6+ years. Furthermore, when I took Mrs. JP out to get away from it all later that night, he continued texting me and calling me names because another tenant whom he'd long since dismissed as insane now suddenly was making valid complaints about how I was parking my suddenly very offensive car because they were about yours truly. When I informed him that she parks next to me and not vice versa, he called us both clowns. In other words, I've come full circle and am in exactly the same position I was in six years ago when I finally got out of a toxic environment in which I couldn't do or say anything right. Self defense and trying to apply truth, reason and logic, at this point, just further enrages those around me. Think Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and you'll have an idea of what we have to deal with here.
     This was delineated rather vividly when I came back from the supermarket and Mrs. JP informed me my landlord's mother called. She said I should go over and talk to her. I did and within minutes she was screaming at me because Junior (His real nickname, to this day, is "Pee Wee". No I am not shitting you. His nickname is actually "Pee Wee.") shared my private texts with her and she''d pronounced me "rude". I wasn't the one slinging ad hominems and resorting to name-calling. But, whatever. Then she actually said, and I shit you not, "Get the fuck off my lawn."
     Yeah, just like that, only minus the shotgun.
     So, despite paying my rent on time 71 of 72 times over the last six plus years, despite Mrs. JP and I being model tenants, I'm now suddenly the most despised man on my street over stuff I hadn't done that started with a pissing match between my landlord and one of his contractors. I offered to speak to him face-to-face but he refused and now he's essentially avoiding me while letting (as usual) Mommy fight his battles for him.
     He's 50 years-old, by the way.
     So, I began poking around on Craigslist as I was forced to do over six years ago while searching for suitable housing. I'd found quite a few winners on CL in 2009, let me tell you, including
creepy guys calling my house and asking if I was gay when all I wanted to know if a room or apartment was available.
     But nothing I'd experienced back then could prepare me for whatever or whoever I'd met yesterday.
     I'm sure by now we've all gotten at least one of those Nigerian banker chain emails originally written by unemployed Engrish-speaking fortune cookie writers in the 90's that are long since dead. I found something that seemed to be the trick in a city about 20-25 miles west of us. For $50 less a month, someone purported to offer the 2nd floor of a private house, 3 bedrooms, two baths, with all utilities included. So I wrote them through the email address I was given and finally got a response today.
     It was written by someone for whom English is obviously a second or third language. This is the first paragraph:
Thanks for your interest and inquiries about my house. Yes the house is still available for rent and we are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house now that we are not around. I work with the united nations development program(UNDP) Edinburgh Scotland and I just got a transfer that is bringing me down to West Africa. Myself and Family just traveled to West Africa for the program. My transfer would be for a period between 3-6 years, so I would definitely be renting my house to whom ever that will take good care of it.
     Wait, it gets better. "She" then goes on to state she once had a realtor to represent her all the way from Scotland but the realtor charged too high a realtor fee, which jacked up the rent, explaining why she's representing the house herself... all the way from what is now West Africa (no country specified).
     The cell phone I was given to text features an area code and exchange number from Polk County in central Florida. So, in short, we've already gone all the way from central Massachusetts, to Edinburgh, Scotland, to West Africa to central Florida all in the space of a day.
     The original Craigslist ad had meanwhile been flagged for removal, obviously by other people who'd gotten the same Nigerian banker-style email I'd gotten.
     And it actuslly gets better. Much better.
     The first email had embedded in it an "application" consisting of softball questions largely asking for information I'd already provided (name, email, phone numbers, etc).
     Within the hour, I got the marvelous news that my application was approved and that they were about to Fedex me keys and "documents" that would allow me to move in immediately.
     Meanwhile, I'd found out my new "benefactor", supposedly named Mrs Deborah Rutter, doesn't work for the UNDP (which, a quick peek on Wikipedia told me was rife with corruption, counterfeiting and other criminal activity) but is actually the new President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A quick check of the address of the listed property showed it was still being represented by a realtor here in MA who's renting not just the second floor for the paltry sum of $600 a month, with all utilities included, but the entire house for $1700 a month.
     Here's how this would've played out:
     They'd've Fedexed me some fake keys, a fake lease, then instruct me where to mail or wire the $1200 they wanted for me to take occupancy. Then I'd drive to the house and discover my keys wouldn't fit the fucking door. Suddenly my emails and calls don't get taken in Polk County, Florida/West Africa/Edinburgh, Scotland. It's essentially the selling the Brooklyn Bridge scam. They stole some photos and address of an actual real estate listing, then tried to pass it off as their own while making up some bullshit story about why no one could physically be there to show me the unit first before sending me the keys.
     So I wrote back to Ms. Rutter's illiterate doppelgänger, after she'd implored me to recite the 71st Psalm with her (Because, as we all know, godly people can't possibly be crooked. Ask Pat Robertson and his completely up front and aboveboard Operation Blessing), and informed her of these things and much more. I'd also contacted the legitimate realtor and left a voice mail asking if she''d ever heard of this "Mrs. Rutter". I'd also texted the number I was given and was given another bullshit reason why she couldn't be there in the flesh to show the house even though she was supposed to be representing herself allllllll the way from the Dark Continent.
     I never got an answer to my email when I openly flouted the idea that perhaps she should really give that 71st Psalm more than an average workout and pray that someone in the Florida AG's office doesn't get a complaint about her.
     So, bottom line, we're on borrowed time and we're back to where we started. So if posting continues to be light, this is the reason why. It seems I'm at war with everyone who's ever laid eyes on me, I'm living on borrowed time and will be evicted when our lease is up, I'm trying to put to bed a book that's already taken up nearly two and a half years of my life and a whole other host of myriad problems.
     In the meantime, if you see any rental units in central MA going for $600-700 a month, please pass it on. I'm checking CL several times a day and I've already alerted my landlord's realtor on the sly that we're ready to bust a move out of here and break our lease. I insist on leaving here on my own terms and am even willing to surrender my $300 security deposit to get that fat, sociopathic freak and his senile mother out of our lives.
     And, to quoth Baretta, that's the name of that tune.

Addendum:  I couldn't resist tweaking this spammer with the answers I should've given to their "rental application." It'll be interesting to see if I still pass with these answers.


LEASE APPLICATION FORM 
1) Your Full Name? Would an alias do? I'm obliged to use several in my line of work.
2) Your Full Address? #10 Downing Street
3) Phone Number? I could give you one but it'll be for a burner. I'm obliged to use a lot of them, too, in my line of work. Think BREAKING BAD.
4) Are you married? For now. I love getting married so much, I'm a widower "seven times before." Just kidding. I've been widowed ten times, all by the same cause of death. Fancy that.
5) Age & Email Address? Age is just a number, wouldn't you say? And my email address is DrLectersNumber1Fan@comcast.net
6) Occupation? Does "aspiring serial killer" count? How about professional crack whore pimp?
7) Picture of the occupant If Available? Check FBI.com. I might or might not still be on their Top Ten list.
8) Do you have a pet? Do other peoples' children count? If not, then no.
9) Do you have a car? Again, I go through a lot of cars in my line of work. You can get a lot of pimped out ones at the police impound yard, btw.
10) When are you ready to Move In? Uh, how do you know I already haven't?
11) How many people will be living in the house? It depends on how many people need a place to, uh, crash until the lights and sirens go away.
12) How long are you willing to stay in the property? Until the house is staked out 24/7 by fake-looking florist and plumbing vans with suspicious antennas.
13) How soon can you make payments? Depends on when my ho's cough up the money they owe me, the bitches.
14) How many months rent can you pay upfront? See above. The bee-otches are holding out on me. This is why they say pimping ain't easy.
15) How soon do you want to receive the keys/documents? Wow, I don't know how to answer this. I can't recall the last time I actually entered a house with keys.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter

     This past Easter was especially sweet because I just got my baby back barely in time to celebrate it. The recent unpleasantness in Florida keeps reverberating like a recurring herpes sore but we refused to let that disturb our holiday feast. So we had a baked ham with pineapple slices, Brussels sprouts, corn, mashed potatoes, Charlene's Cheesy potatoes and a good Riesling white wine.
     So how was your Easter?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fox News at its Finest, Part 19

Fox "News" can always be depended upon to give us their funhouse mirror reflection of world and national (non)events. To wit...


Sure, Douchey. If you keep flogging that dead horse, it'll one day get up and win the Triple Crown.
Greatest cover-up in *memory.

*If your memory doesn't reach back beyond January 20, 2009.

Irony, thine initials are BO.

...because rolling them up would make cocaine snorting more of a challenge.

The only mischaracterization of that bill was when the Indiana legislature labeled it "religious freedom and restoration" when it's really about sexual bigotry.



Sure he did, just like the Supreme Court said there was no more racism. Which they actually said.


Without posting a retraction later, Fox realized they'd accidentally printed the abstracts of Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric.


Except for the taking full responsibility part.


Keep in mind the people who call in go to monster truck rallies and think giving loaded guns to kids who then shoot their eye out is a necessary price to pay for freedumb. (Note the Obama picture.)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Come Out of the Closet

     The Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Seriously? More like the Sexual Bigotry Free Card Act.
     By fall 2010, only five states had gay marriage. A little over four years later, so many states have it that it's hard to count and the answer depends on whom you ask (I think the latest number I saw was 37). During the Obama administration, DADT had fallen, rights and benefits were given to same sex federal employee couples and there are more gay people in elected office than at any time in US history.
     Anyone of even local notoriety or authority using anti gay slurs are often suspended, fired, pressured to resign or hounded out of office. As Barilla found out last year, any business not friendly to their LGBT customers (who have enormous spending power) or hostile to gay rights can expect to be pilloried and boycotted with the planet's lightning-fast social media. Even small businesses were shunned into oblivion once a refusal of services to gay customers was exposed by that same potent social media.
     The tide had turned, we thought, and it was safer than ever to come out of the closet. You have lots of friends and it really does get better.
    So it's difficult to understand what Indiana Governor and former Congressman Mike "I Haven't Had an Orgasm Since the Clinton Administration" Pence was thinking when he signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or what the Indiana legislature was thinking when they ratified it. To anyone with one eye and a handful of neurons, it's essentially a carte blanche to discriminate against gay people by pulling the religion card. It's a transparently sleazy right wing piece of shit disguised as "preserving" and "restoring" "religious freedom" already granted to all by the First Amendment. It blatantly gives right wing-owned businesses the legal means to refuse service to gay clientele or that perceived to be gay (but not, thankfully, protection against being boycotted and ridiculed all over the planet).
     When interviewed by George Stephanopolopolopolopolos Michael Dukakis, Jr last Sunday about the bill, he was asked point blank six simple yes or no questions as to whether or not the bill would make legal discrimination against LGBT people and he whiffed on every one of them. The very fact that Pence signed that steaming homophobic piece of shit into law behind closed doors speaks volumes. He knew it was either wrong or would be unpopular. And, as palpable as his typical right wing cowardice, his typical right wing dissembling on TV yesterday morning proved that he was trying to present this as a religious freedom bill that was nakedly designed by the Indiana legislature to drive gay people out of the state.
     Also, in typical right wing fashion, he blamed the media for the brouhaha over it, mansplainin' to the rubes that the bill was mistaken and misinterpreted, that the vast left wing conspiracy was making a mountain out of a molehill.
     The next state that might ratify a similar antigay bill is Arkansas and if by some miracle that festering buttocks sore of a state doesn't (which actually looks likely that it won't), 19 others currently have such laws on the books.
     About the closest Pence came to actually recognizing the extreme unpopularity of the new bill (besides signing it behind locked doors) was to pledge to ask the legislature to "clarify" the bill.
     No, that's not necessary. I think it's pretty clear what it means.
     The backlash was immediate and severe. The NCAA openly floated the idea that in the future, the Final Four would be held in a state other than Indiana. Angie's List, also headquartered in Indianapolis, quickly axed plans for an expansion that would have cost nearly $50,000,000. Notorious right winger Charles Barkley even condemned the new law. The NBA, WNBA and NFL have all made discontented grumbles of late. When all is told, Pence and the Republican-run state legislature could cost the state over $100,000,000 in boycotts.
     The law and its avowed intent should infuriate liberal Christians (Yes, there are some) for having their faith used as a straw man to discriminate against a minority. When cornered on the bill, Pence doubled down and said neither he or anyone would change it nor was it on his "agenda" to give "special protections" to the LGBT population of Indiana.
     It reminds me of that cartoon where a bunch of overweight Teabagger/NRA types are nailing Christ to the cross and one obese individual holding the hammer yells at Christ to stop whining because he's oppressing their religious liberty.
     But this craven right wing dissembling and dressing up this discrimination bill is an obvious attempt to throw red meat to the notoriously homophobic evangelical right wing, LBGT people providing the meat. But considering the vast strides taken by that same community on a national level, with intolerance of homophobia having long since reached alltime highs, it's perplexing to me why the Indiana legislature and Pence thought they would be immune to the backlash.
     It's just as perplexing why we're as surprised that homophobia does still exist as we are when faced with evidence of racism or misogyny or Islamophobia.
     As previously stated, other states are seriously considering similar, or worse, legislation (Although Georgia recently postponed its hearings on a similar measure). A gay presidential candidate would have as much chance getting elected as Pence being made a Grand Marshall of Indianapolis's next gay pride parade. Gay men and lesbians are still getting beaten, or worse, in the streets. And the "great" state of Texas has absolutely no laws protecting gays and lesbians from any discrimination at all (no, not even hate crime laws). Despite the impressive strides the Obama administration has taken in gay rights, DOMA, that other execrable evil from the Clinton years, is still more firmly embedded in the law books than fly shit.
     Right wingers pathetically try to turn it around back on my community and claim we're screaming for "special rights" as if we were rich scions suffering from Affluenza or a Wall Street bankster. But what they deliberately ignore is the fact that my peoples' struggle continues and will continue for at least decades to come because, if we're seeking "special protection", it's only because we're singled out for special persecution.

Addendum:If you've surfed in to read this, it's probably because of my good friend and Constant Reader Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors care of Crooks and Liars. In case you haven't already been made aware of it by Tengrain, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, others and myself, we'd just suffered a death in the family. Details can be found here but let's start by saying I've had to make a significant outlay of cash over the final days of March that put us behind the 8 ball. So anything you could do to push the wolves from the door another month would be tremendously appreciated.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Top Ten Pet Peeves About Literary Agents

     Yeah, I know I'm a bad blogger, No Cheetos. Specifically, I'm a bad political blogger and I honestly do feel guilty about disappointing what few faithful readers I have by not providing content on a regular basis that would, however inadequately, justify the donations I've been receiving for the last six years. And I will get to Ted Cruz, Mike Pence and his piece of shit anti-LGBT law and so forth in good time.
     But the annual round of submissions of Tatterdemalion to literary agents, something I hadn't done in a year, has built up a lot of resentment in me. This has been steadily building since I'd made the rounds of literally hundreds of agency websites since late last month when I'd begun the querying process. And these pet peeves of mine aren't just mine and inspired merely by frustration. Others have said the same things I have, including this guy who'd passed on a story about another writer who'd punked 100 literary agents with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr's work and got rejected by all 100 of them.
     So these are my top ten pet peeves regarding literary agents, accumulated both over the last 19 years and the last month.


  • 1) Discover Norton

  •      One of the most immediately apparent differences between British literary agents and their US counterparts, aside from openly soliciting the first 30-50 pages of your manuscript, is their willingness to accept email attachments. Email clients such as Yahoo, which had really taken a nose dive in quality and dependability over the last year and a half, often truncate emails. This can be especially galling and embarrassing when US agents insist on your pasting everything in the body of the email and it gets cut off in mid sentence or right after the salutation.
         Antivirus software exists. Use it, make friends with it and stop acting as if every author in the English-speaking world is out to give your precious laptop a virus. Automatically deleting unread legitimate submissions based on a paranoia bespeaks of a mindset I wouldn't want in someone working for me.


  • 2) And yes, you would work for me if I choose to hire you.

  •      In the generation since publishers made literary agents a necessary evil and primary gatekeepers, they've gotten so arch and bloated with arrogance it's a miracle these people, for want of a better word, can still find people to have sex with them. Among the manifestations of this hubris and arrogance is the more than suggested perception that they run the show. You do not.
         Because in the real world, the person who makes no more than penultimate decisions and makes 15% of the money that's earned is the hired help. The employee. Stop assuming we're naifs who don't know anything about the business. Until you were shoehorned into the publishing process 30 or so years ago, authors like me approached publishers directly, negotiated their contracts and managed their own careers. Our intelligence and pragmatism hasn't atrophied just because you were artificially glued onto what used to be a streamlined process. Again, for clarity's sake, You are the employee, the hired help. You work for us, not vice versa. Know your role and act accordingly.


  • 3) Your website sucks.

  •      In virtually 100% of the literary agency websites I've been to, I have had to lean forward and strain my eyes to read pale grey font against a white background. I've even seen yellow font against white. For people who are obsessed with legibility and proper formatting in snailmail submissions, you sure care little over whether or not people can read your ghost fonts. Do all you agents farm out website design to the same sadistic prick?
         Also, minimalism make work effectively in Japanese art but not in modern day website design. You want submission guidelines obeyed? Tell us what the fuck they are. Give us something to go on other than your street address and a phone number you forbid us from calling. To give you guys an idea of what I'm talking about, go to former Simon & Schuster senior editor-turned literary agent Bob Mecoy's website to see what I mean (Oh, that Bic pen pointed directly at my left eye doesn't look menacing at all, Bobbo). Or this monolithic, virtually noninteractive piece of shit by William Morris Endeavor that just screams, "Fuck off and (sniff) die."


  • 4) Here, let me get some KY so you can jerk yourself off better.

  •      For people who say over and over again that they want just a brief covering letter consisting of no more than 300 words (and reasonably expecting us to make them fall impetuously and madly in love with our book during this absurd literary speed dating), you assholes sure love to talk about yourselves on your bios. More than once, I've seen agent bios that went far, far beyond the 300 or so words they allot us in droning on about where they were from ("It all started in a little log cabin in the woods of the Pacific Northwest..."), where they went to school, where they worked, what properties they sold, their marital status, their hobbies, how many kids they have, their cockapoodle's name, etc. I am not kidding about this. They actually think we give a fuck about this shit.
         We don't. We're looking for business partners and so are you. So act like it. I personally don't give a fuck who's on your client list, what properties you've sold, blah blah because it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my particular property. So please stop making your literary agency's website look like a cheap dating site for avaricious sociopaths.


  • 5) Yes, we can and will turn away business so fuck off and die.

  •      However evil and collusive the deal made behind the backs of authors between you and publishers, the one decent provision was that it was supposed to continue giving authors a primary outlet for their work. The thought of sending something to a group of people so stupid as to universally reject a classic by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr is scary enough but it was what it was. Now, more and more literary agencies, starting with the bloated William Morris Endeavor Agency in Hollywood, are slamming the gates in our faces while telling us they cannot possibly take on new clients, read work that hasn't been invited or referred by another client or read submissions by unpublished writers.
         Inserting you as the primary gatekeeper blocking the path to publication was bad enough but now you've gotten so arrogant and bloated with hubris you're acting just like the publishers a generation ago and look your nose down on people who've been kept from being published largely because of you and your ignorant ilk. Do your fucking job because it's not as if the current crop of bestselling authors will live forever. Your short-sighted strategy just produces an Old Boy network where only cool or connected kids get entry into the tree house. Oh, and if you're not taking on new clients or reading submissions, kindly say so before you waste anybody else's time.


  • 6) "Make Me Fall in Love With You. You Have 30 Seconds."

  •      As previously stated, one of the most obvious immediate differences between UK and US agents is the former's willingness to actually read some of the work being "plumped." Almost all Brits not only insist on email attachments guaranteeing viability and completedness of sample material but also actually insist on reading the material and making an informed decision. But more and more US agents choose to cut corners either out of sheer laziness or whining about their workload. These same assholes who feel the need to write their autobiographies on a business website insist we cannot cut corners, obey their every idiosyncratic edict, synopsize our work, give them a CV, our credentials and qualifications for writing the book, our marketing platform, since it's fallacious to assume massive publishing houses with publicity professionals to actually, you know, publicize their products, tell them what books similar to ours have been successfully been published in the past, why we want them to be our agent and... Oh yeah, do it in ten words or less.
         This is why I call this absurdity and crime against literacy "literary speed dating."
         And please stop telling us you have to be wildly, madly, impetuously, helplessly, hopelessly, heads over heels in puppy love before you can sell my book. You don't sell books for the "love of the game" or some such romantic, high-minded bullshit. As you and publishers keep telling us, publishing's a business, period. Please stop trying to make it sound like a process out of the Harlequin crap you help trowel out every month.


  • 7) "Oh, you have a pet peeve list, too?"
  •      Oh, yes. PLEASE do tell me how much you hate us and your job.
         One of the things that gets my blood boiling at 1300 degrees Fahrenheit is when arch, arrogant douchebags waste time telling us what they hate seeing from the less conscientious of us when they should be reading sample material or selling properties. When I read pet peeve lists such as this, I get two takeaways: They hate writers and look upon us as cumbersome little door knockers with whom they'd rather not deal and they're infallible.
         If you were so damned infallible, then please tell me why 90-95% of the adult fiction you rep never finds a home (a fact admitted on at least one agency website) and why am I writing my own pet peeve list? When I go to a fast food place or a gas station, I wouldn't want to hear constant pissing and moaning from the cashier about why they hate their job and their pet peeves regarding customers. Why should you be given that same latitude? Sure, you have legit gripes. I'm not saying you don't. But I don't care to hear them. And none of them apply to me or other conscientious, talented authors like me. You don't like your job? Wait tables or pump gas. Go the way of Harriet Wasserman, please.


  • 8) "I Have the Right to Remain Silent."

  •      No, you don't.
         On virtually 100% of the agency websites I've had to endure these past few months, there's inevitably a little codecil that essentially says, "If you haven't heard from us after X weeks, please accept that as proof we wish you'll fuck off and die", or words to that effect. Citing, again, 300+ submissions a week and limited time, literary agencies are cutting more and more corners while not allowing us to do the same. Some of them even go with an email form, which just invites spam filters, because they're too lazy to read emails from people they've already decided cannot put cha-ching in their pockets.
         I've already gone into some of the ways that literary agencies cheat and cut corners while expecting everyone in the business to be hunky dorey about it. But here's a list of how they do this: They want only queries first, not even a synopsis, and had better be more concise than their masturbatory ego trips. Some, hilariously, even ask for just the first page of your novel, reasonably expecting it'll hook them enough to want to lunge at the phone and call you before some other agent does. They have flunkies send off the form rejections because they can't spend the five seconds it would take to disrespect your personalized letter. You don't like "Dear Agent" letters? Well, we don't appreciate "Dear Author" letters or those without any salutation. Show some fucking professionalism, reciprocation and common courtesy. As with you, guys like me who routinely send off 200-300 proposals also work with large numbers. Only I do this in my spare time. You do this for a living. Again, do your fucking job and fuck your bullshit, one-sided self-dealt rules. Hire more agents. Hire more interns. Do what you have to do but ignoring conscientious authors is a big No no and makes authors not want to submit to you again.


  • 9) "I'm a Mommy First and an Agent Second."

  •      Stop saying on your websites you don't read much less rep books about children in danger or about serial killers. That's half of everything Stephen King and John Grisham ever wrote and virtually everything written by Jonathan Kellerman and Andrew Vachss. Are you telling me you'd turn them down on the incredible chance they'd actually knock on your door looking for representation?
         I'm not looking for a mommy or someone who winces over harmless written words. For better or worse, I'm looking for a literary agent to sell my book to the highest and best bidder. Again, be a fucking professional and act like it. Oh, and since you keep telling me this business is so subjective, I refer you again to the 90-95% failure rate on your part. Considering how often you fail, which wouldn't fly for a second in the real world, perhaps what's called for is some objectivity. Stop pretending as if your reading tastes reflect, or are reflected by, the reading tastes of an entire nation. Readers let their acumen guide their choices. Yours are run by monetary motives and you're still wrong almost 100% of the time.


  • 10) To Quoth the Writer, Get the Fuck Over Yourself.

  •     Not a single literary classic in planetary history was ever sold by a literary agent. Virtually 100% of the turkeys sold to and published by legacy publishers were. Just because you were handed a protection racket by lazy, scumbag publishing executives 30 years ago doesn't make you all that. We are the people who write the books off of which you and your bedfellows in the Big Five publishing houses profit handsomely while paying us dog shit. Not one person ever bought a fucking book at a Barnes & Noble or anywhere else because of who the publisher or the literary agent who sold it was.
         It's arrogant scumbags like you that are the primary reason for self-publishing's explosion over the last 7-8 years. Self-publishing's more than a pragmatic decision for those of us going that route. It's also a necessary and inevitable reaction to being treated like dog shit under your heels because in your ignorant, lazy snap decisions you don't think we can put jingle in your silk trousers or further your career ambitions.
         And don't even get me started on Argo Navis...

    Friday, March 27, 2015

    Death in the Family

     
         For those two or three of you who've been wondering where I've been since I last posted, here's the 411:
         Mrs. JP's Mom in Vero Beach had been battling cancer for the last several years and on the 24th we got word from the family and the hospice nurse that the end was near and it could be a matter of days if not hours. This alarmed me into buying her a plane ticket back to Florida for $208 and I got her down there less than 24 hours after buying the ticket.
         I just got word a couple of hours ago that Mrs. JP's Mom passed away sometime between last night and this morning. It doesn't look as if the family, which treats me as if I don't exist, will contribute a penny toward getting her home. I just had to spend yet another $141 for a return flight on April 3rd. Any other day involved air fares that went up to over a grand, for a coach seat.
         Keep in mind, this is our rent and bill money I'm spending so my fiancee could spend some time with her mother in her final moments. A couple of people have pledged to help defray the expenses but not knowing how much that'll be, I'm afraid I'll have to pass the hat and ask you guys for your help.
         An addendum to this little drama:
         Four or five miles from TF Green Airport in Warwick, RI, my muffler fell off and was dragging behind me on the highway for 50 miles before I got pulled over by a Mass state trooper. So I had to get the muffler replaced just a few hours after I got Mrs. JP off on a plane and that cost me $237. I can post the bill, if you don't believe me.
         So all told, I'm out $686 since I sent off Mrs. JP on the 25th. That's well over a month's rent. So we are really, truly hurting. And even if you can't help, please pass the word because since Tuesday I've been spending money like a horny sailor on a Manila liberty, minus the good time.

    Addendum: I had to take the car back in the shop so they could finish the job since they couldn't get a crucial piece to hold up the back end of the muffler. After they did it, I was told I'd have to pay them another $27 since they hadn't billed me for the piece. So, all told, the muffler job cost me $264.

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    #TedCruzCampaignSlogans

     
          Last night, Joe McCarthy 2.0 Ted Cruz announced from Liberty University that he was running for the presidency. One of my followers alerted me by DM of the twitterbomb hashtag #TedCruzCampaignSlogans and to get my jokes lined up by 8 pm. It quickly got to the fifth spot in US trends and by today, it's reached #1. What follows below are some of my own noteworthy contributions.

    Sunday, March 22, 2015

    Good Times at Pottersville #27


    Tuesday, March 17, 2015

    Good Times at Pottersvlle, 3/17/15


    Saturday, March 14, 2015

    Good Times at Pottersville, 3/14/15

    (More funnies on this subject here.)

    Thursday, March 12, 2015

    Bad Moments in Postal History, #439

         Early last December I'd sent off my Christmas cards to dozens of my followers and contributors. This was one of them and it was returned to me just minutes ago by the postal (dis)service. Note what they did to it. Then note the motto at the top of the envelope it came in.
         The digit pointing to my name and address might as well have been the middle finger. The cocksuckers didn't even reimburse me for the stamp.

    Treasonous Little Freaks


     
    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
          Among his many memorable phrases and bon mots, Hunter S. Thompson, the Godfather of liberal political blogging, once called George W. Bush a "treasonous little freak." HST had lived just long enough to see his old nemesis Richard Nixon, through that shifting Overton Window,  posthumously become a liberal through some political prestidigitation of the Far Right during the Bush II reign of error. The years 2001-2009 could arguably be called the "Gilded Dark Ages." It was a period of almost pornographic wealth for Wall Street and war profiteers and tightly-controlled anarchy in which even the slightest criticism of our fictional president (to quote Michael Moore) was considered tantamount to treason, with many seriously suggesting the ultimate penalty of death.
         One can only imagine what Dr. Thompson would've written about the nest of vipers known as the 114th Congress and its immediate predecessor. As good as I like to think I am, I'm 110% confident that America's greatest gonzo journalist would've slung words of pure vitriol on a par with hydrofluoric acid while biting countless cigarette holders in two.
         And the Republicans that are now running Congress thanks to tens of millions of lazy and uninformed voters and nonvoters, have proved once again that the proverbial barrel is deeper than anyone thought, with an infinite number of false bottoms. The letter to Iran written and signed by 47 Republicans in advance of a nuclear nonproliferation deal at the same time the GOP invited Netanyahu to address Congress is perhaps the greatest act of treason since Benedict Arnold.
         The suspicious thisclose timing between the two ought not be dismissed, either.
         Both acts of treason were designed to discredit and undermine President Obama, whose mini Cold War with Netanyahu's Israel has been long noted. The president had pointedly skipped the Prime Minister's speech last week and, before that, had already declined to meet with him during Netanyahu's visit to Washington this month. Considering America's sick fetish for protecting Israeli interests to the point of fighting proxy wars for them, defending genocide and illegal colonization of the West Bank and condemning Palestinians to live like second-class citizens at best in their own homeland, this is unprecedented. And this snubbing of the Zionist state of Israel could not go unanswered by Republicans.
         So these so-called statesmen decided to draft a letter in advance of the President's negotiations with Iran promising the lifting of sanctions in exchange for nuclear nonproliferation was drafted, signed off and sent to Iran's leadership.

    Don't Listen to the Muslim Usurper. Listen to Those Who Want to Nuke You Out of Existence
         This letter to Iran makes absolutely no sense from any viewpoint except if one considers racist-motivated treason an acceptable form of statecraft. One doesn't have to be a Juan Cole to know Iran is a very conservative Muslim nation in which there is no separation between church and state, in which their president is a mere figurehead posing as a more secular leader. Authority is everything in Iran's government and to oppose the Ayatollahs is to oppose Allah. So what is this message supposed to convey to Iran's leadership?
         "Loyal but principled opposition" aside, it shows the ruling party of our Legislative branch is at more than just stark odds with the leader of the Executive: It's working to undermine whatever effort made by our president to make the world a safer, more peaceful place. And this particular act of treason is far from the first made by a radical Republican Party that makes the ones in Nixon's time look like a Swedish hippie commune.
         They have lambasted the current president while he was abroad, a huge no-no in American politics. They have hamstrung him even when he adopts their ideas and initiatives. They have voted, at last count, 56 times to deny Americans quality, affordable health care even through the tepid ACA and GOP governors have cruelly blocked Medicaid expansion in their states for purely political purposes.
         The right wing has called him virtually every name in the book, had briefly floated the idea of not letting him fly on Air Force One, permission to deliver the State of the Union Address to Congress, vilified him for speaking to schoolchildren in spite of every President doing so and have threatened to secede from the union. One waits for the GOP to accuse Mr. Obama of cheating during the annual Easter Egg Roll and accusing the turkey he pardons every November of being an ISIS terrorist.
         It is, in short, the longest temper tantrum in the history of American politics.
         And it's embarrassing us to the point of the GOP even showing division in its once pig iron-tight ranks in light of this PR disaster. It has empowered the Iranian ayatollahs, unified the Democrats (which happens as often as a James Sensenbrenner diet) and has given the Republican brand a bigger black eye than ever.
         Most damaging, it shows that our government cannot be trusted either now or in the future as the GOP made note of the fact the President will be gone in less than two years while they will be around possibly for decades, that the next president could wipe out any agreement with Iran with one stroke of the pen and invalidated by a future Congress. If that was the message the Republican Party wished to convey, that they will stab Iran in the back as readily as it will our own president, then it's the only way this letter has succeeded.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Public Service Announcement

     
         I made mention of something yesterday among my many, many problems of late. Perhaps the most aggravating one was the virus to which I'd alluded. This is called "downloaditkeep", one of the most pernicious and stubborn viruses you'll ever see anywhere.
         Technically, it's not as harmful to your hard drive as, say, your classic Trojan virus but it can still lead you to attack sites. You'll know it by these signs:
         Your usually fast computer will suddenly start up slowly.
         Your desktop and even your operating system won't load.
         If you have Ad Block Plus as I do, it will bypass it virtually everywhere you go. Popup ads will suddenly start obscenely jiggling, sometimes you won't be able to block the images, much less the frames.
         Virtually every random word will be turned into a hyperlink leading you to a spam or attack site.
         Apparently, this piece of shit is as common as the dreaded Conficker virus I had a few years ago. I'd done simultaneous scans with Malwarebytes and Sophos Virus Removal Tool and it never finds it. I did a Norton scan today and it also did not find much less eradicate it.
         A lot of well-meaning but inevitably wrong nerds tell you to do the same thing: Open your Control Panel, go to "Programs and Features" and there your nemesis will be in plain sight, helpfully waiting to be uninstalled by you.
         No, it won't be there.
         Then a couple of hours ago, I went to a website and finally found a guy who knew what he was talking about. So what I'll do for you here is reproduce his instructions for removing Downloaditkeep from Mozilla Firefox, assuming you use that browser. Follow these instructions to the letter and they will work.

    For Mozilla Firefox
    1. Open Mozilla Firefox.
    2. Then navigate on top menu and click on Tools. It will show a drop-down list. Choose Add-ons to open the configuration window.
    3. Then click on Extensions. It will display the list of installed programs.
    4. Find the Ads by DownloadItKeep extension. Click on the remove button to uninstall it.
    5. To close the current window click on the X of Add-ons Manager tab.
    6. Then go to the address bar, type about:config. Then click on ‘I’ll be careful, I promise!’ if it show a warning “This might void your warranty!”.
    7. Then type the infection name in the search box. It will show the items which are modified by the infection. Right click on the modified preference and click on Reset to restore the original settings.
    8. Now you may close the window and restart the window.
          That should get rid of the problem. You won't have to risk downloading software from a third party or anything like that.

          Now let's get back to our regularly scheduled wingnuttery...

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