Saturday, June 25, 2016

Why I Am a Liberal

A Ghost From the Past

            Who was she?
            I remember she was radiant like the Madonna yet as terrible as Joan of Arc girded for war. She comes to me like a timid ghost or a benevolent face at the top of dark stairs, asking me… where were you when I needed you in my greatest hour of need?

San Vito, Italy, 1971
            Innocence is stubborn, like old blood stains on white linen. Sometimes what we construe as the necessary innocence of childhood is nothing more than callousness, the equally intractable superficiality of living in the moment. And this tale begins innocently enough.
            My family and I lived in a tenement building on the very edge of San Vito in southern Italy. Our landlord Mr. Berelli rented almost exclusively to off base military families such as ours but he had one stipulation: There must be at least one Italian tenant in the building.
            In our case, the native family was a young couple who had just had a daughter. The husband was a lawyer, we learned, and he was young and handsome, his wife equally young and beautiful. As was fitting, the daughter was also perfect. The only memory I have of this lawyer was one day they were standing on their little balcony showing off the baby, the husband resplendent in his business suit, she in her dress. Those of us on the ground level looked up in adoration like medieval peasants admiring our betters and unquestioningly accepting that immutable fact of nature: That they were better than us, the wealthy were. Beauty and success just naturally gravitated to them like animals to St. Francis of Assisi.
            Then one day soon thereafter the black-bordered notices were plastered all over the building. Those of us who knew Italian realized the lawyer husband had suddenly passed away. I never found out if it was a heart attack, a car accident or whatever reason for his shocking abduction from the land of the living. And of course none of us dared speculate it was suicide. After all, he had everything going for him. It was a terrible shock, yes, because such things were not supposed to happen to those favored by fortune.
            But this Italian answer to Richard Cory was dead and there nothing that could be done about that. After a respectful time, the black-bordered notices eventually came down and we resumed our lives without ever realizing we were privileged to do so. Life went on in its old dog trot pace.
            One day we were kicking a ball around on the dirt road on front of our building. I was with perhaps two other boys my age and one of us kicked the ball high, so high we watched it endlessly arc until it landed on the widow’s little balcony. Hearing it rattle around, she came out, picked it up and gazed down at us.
            We looked up as we had that wonderful day when they brought their flawless baby girl home only not with wonderment but expectation, as if we were still those peasants but seeking alms. In other words, we understandably wanted our ball back and assumed she would throw it down and that would be the end of that.
            But that’s not what she did.
            Instead, she motioned for us to come up as gently as a Madonna to her supplicants. We no doubt looked at each other with a bit of frustration and irritation at having our game first interrupted then delayed. But out of basic politeness, we did as we were asked.
            We trudged upstairs and knocked on her door. She immediately answered and invited us in. Her floor plan was the same as ours only reversed as she lived on the front side of the building while we lived on the rear. Her living room, I remember, was neat and well-appointed and she had just enough seating accommodations for all of us. She sat before me and to my right and after smiling at us for a bit, she eventually picked up a small candy tray from the table and offered us a piece. We complied again, not wanting to be rude. Being typical kids, of course we wanted the candy but we wanted our ball back even more and I kept looking at it as it lay beside her chair.
            I can’t speak for the other boys but I recall being dimly aware that there was someone else who was supposed to be in this house that wasn’t. But it was a dim recollection, although I’m sure no more than mere months had passed since her husband’s untimely death. But my main consideration was getting back that ball, one that was shared, I’m sure, by the other boys present.
            We sat there looking at each other awkwardly, none of us Americans speaking a word of Italian between us and her not knowing a word of English. I don’t remember one word being exchanged and we just continued sucking on our candy and wondering when we’d finally get back our ball. The balloon of silence eventually expanded until it nuzzled against the walls.
            I can’t recall what she even looked like. The only impression remaining to me four and a half decades later is that of a young woman who was sweetly sad like a ghost haunting a familiar dwelling yet was not, for unknowable reasons, allowed to move on. The baby girl was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps she was down for a nap or with a relative.
            Eventually, after several minutes of this awkward parlor dumb show, she gave us our ball and, with some relief, we went back outside to continue playing.

            About a quarter of a century later when I was in my mid-late 30’s, I began to think about that young widow. Although she hadn’t made a significant impact on my callow, callous life at the time, I still retained the memory of that encounter, however much the edges of that memory had been encroached upon and obscured by the haze of time. And it suddenly occurred to me why she’d invited us up.
            Any normal adult reading this would have long ago divined her motive for calling us up. Anyone but a sociopath, knowing the context of her situation, would know that. It was the reason that had eluded us kids as successfully as a startled rabbit from an inept hunter.
            She was simply lonely. Her days were filled with the emptiness and the oceans of space that opened up within that small two bedroom apartment in her husband’s wake. After all the mourners had expressed their condolences and the leftover food from the funeral reception had been packed up, she was left alone. And even our poor company was better than the oppressive misery that marked every waking hour of her every day.
            And I don’t recall her having many if any visitors or any of the American families having her over for dinner. We were properly shocked at the news of her husband’s death then simply went on with our lives. And that’s what one does, get on with their lives but it never occurred to a single one of us to open a bit of those lives of ours to occasionally let her in despite the language barrier.
            And as I began to delve into the significance of that encounter that I’m sure has been forgotten by the two other boys with me, I began to hate myself. I began to feel guilty because it had never dawned on me why we were up there in the first place, that perhaps I should’ve turned
back to her at the door and given her a silent hug to convey that I was not insensible to her loss. That someone remembered and understood. And cared.
            Yet I did not do that. I had other priorities. And as young and pretty as she was, sitting there in that parlor was an unnerving experience and for the first time in 25 years I at last understood why.
            I finally got it and placed that long-neglected but hardly forgotten rock in that bag of guilt I sling over my back, that grisly parody of Santa’s sack that gets heavier and heavier with the weight of all the things I did that I shouldn’t have and, as in this case, all the things I didn’t do that I should have. It gets heavier with each passing year and no number of random acts of kindness can alleviate its burden.
            I am not a good man. I am an average man who today tries to do good deeds. Never mistake a good man for one who is merely in a permanent state of atonement. And no matter how much good I may achieve in this world before moving on to the next, it will never relieve me by so much as an ounce of the guilt for not showing that poor young widow some baseline of compassion, even just a pinprick of light into that backdrop of absolute devastation that transcends all languages, cultures, nationalities, religions and creeds.
            I did nothing to help mitigate her crushing and baffling sense of how life could be so kind yet so cruel from one minute to the next, as human nature often is. Growing up, I always thought I was special in some way but this experience taught me I was not special at all. I was just a typical, self-absorbed kid as all 12 year-olds are expected to be. In at least one respect, children and sociopaths are indistinguishable and the one trait uniting them is that one outgrows the other.
            But kids can surprise and even shame us with their humanity. And I did nothing with the gifts given to me.
            And, to this day, I cannot even tell you who she was. I never even invested a single moment of time or iota of effort to learn her name.

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's the End of the World as We Know it...

     Where goes White Sulphur Springs, W. VA, so goes the rest of the country.
     Folks, I may or may not be the cybernetic equivalent of the street corner preacher holding up a placard saying, "The End is Nigh!" But one thing I am not is a frog in boiling water. When things start to get hot, I tend to notice shit when it goes awry. And this video that was taken and posted on Youtube yesterday is the perfect synecdoche of what's going on in our country and perhaps even the entire planet: We're just one giant house on fire helplessly floating down the river of life.
     We're a nation drowning in debt while floating atop a sea of cash just as ironically as this house in flames floating on millions of gallons of water. And whereas in olden times our ancestors would've clung to that doomsday preacher's robes praying to God for our salvation, the best we can muster is to whip out our smartphones and record the carnage, hoping for some Youtube hits.
     For the first time in American history, we have two presidential candidates from both major parties who are either being sued, under investigation and, in Hillary's case, possible indictment. In fact, as of last February, Trump has been or is being sued in federal court a whopping 169 times. This, of course, is only a drop in the bucket when you consider he's been sued 1300 times over the last 30 years.
     Regarding Hillary Clinton, it took Wikileaks and a hacker named Guccifer 2.0 to expose the rotten corruption and collusion of Hillary Clinton, the DNC, banks, corporations, murderous Third World dictators and her lax attitude regarding cyber security. Oh yeah, and need I belabor the fact she may soon be under federal indictment after an exhaustive FBI investigation? It looks as if I and a handful of lonely journo warriors outside the mainstream have to because God knows Google and the MSM certainly aren't interested in covering this impending story.
     Not that the MSM really owe either candidate any interference. Hillary hasn't held a press conference in over 200 days and Trump's furiously working on his own media blackout, which so far has reached peak scum with pulling the WaPo of its press credentials during Trump Two Minutes Hates.
     So, to sum it up, we have two Class A+ scumbag crooks running for president, they and their flaks are hiding from the press and taking the 5th 125 times during depositions (despite having full immunity), and, in Trump's case, refusing to release tax returns. And both of aforementioned scumbag crooks have people who love them so much they're committing acts of violence in their glorified names.
     49 years ago, it was called the Summer of Love. 2016 may well go down in history as the Summer of Hate. And the most peace-loving people, the millennials and old hippies who back Bernie, are the ones most vilified and lied about by so-called journalists such as Jon Ralston, who at least got his fat, pasty ass fired by NPR for spreading lies about us. So at least Mordor isn't reigning supreme over us... yet.
     Then last night, Brexit passed by popular referendum in the UK, meaning the empire will divorce itself from the European Union. Since I'm not Lindsay Lohan, I won't comment on a complicated thing as Brexit. But, as usual, when something big or small happens overseas, the US stock market reacts like a sleeping ferret woken up by a grenade blast, losing 600+ points of the first day of trading.
     In conclusion, this begs a question, one that I'm surprised hasn't been asked before but, hey, that's what I'm here for, folks:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Democratic Sit In, Day 2

     Just before noontime yesterday, the Democratic Party did something extraordinary, something I've only seen activists do: They staged a sit in on the floor,specifically in the well, of the US House of Representatives. This was led by 15 term Congressman John Lewis, longtime civil rights activist who'd staged sit ins in the 60's, and Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark.
     It was about gun control legislation the GOP has been notoriously loath to pass since they're merely glorified temp workers of the NRA. It was intended to force a vote on background checks and all the facets of gun control legislation that the government can't or won't move meaningfully on. Eventually, they were joined by Elizabeth Warren and her Dunkin Donuts and eventually Bernie Sanders himself joined the slumber party.
     Granted, many of the sitting Democrats are pro-Hillary super delegates but since last night even the presidential election took a back seat to this perhaps doomed effort to force a gun control in the wake of the horrific Pulse shooting in Orlando.
     Speaker Paul Ryan didn't take too well to the Democrats' sit in and the nation's most overpaid pot washer went on CNN last night to whine about what the Democrats were doing was a "publicity stunt." In the end, Ryan rammed through a bunch of unrelated bills and finally adjourned the session after 3 AM.
     So I figured, if the Democrats can bring national attention to this neglected issue with their historic sit in, I should show solidarity by supporting them and live tweeting them while sitting on my own pasty ass. Eventually, the sit in took a dark, sinister turn when Ryan instructed the Master at Arms to turn off the C-SPAN cameras.

     Then, a couple of hours into the blackout that was relieved only by social media, voila!

     I was up until well after midnight last night and I'll be there keeping an eye on things like millions of others as the sit in stretches into its second day. This is what being a political junkie entails and I'm starting to love politics again in a way that I haven't in years.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Guccifer 2.0 Has Delivered

     ...has just put up Hillary's dossier on his or her website. Have fun. I'm going to be busy all day wallowing in the Clinton filth. I only hope someone's set up a mirror site because I don't expect this domain to stay up for very long. That's just how Hillary and her kiddie porn-posting thugs roll.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why Corey Lewandowski Was Fired

     After a long, soul-searching meeting with family members today, Mr. Donald Trump decided to fire his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Mr. Lewandowski's stewardship of the flailing Trump presidential campaign had been fraught with controversy ranging from misogyny, intimidation tactics and even allegedly assaulting a female reporter from Breitbart. The move came suddenly, signaling a major Trump shakeup from top to bottom. The Trump campaign has not released any reasons for Mr. Lewandowski's sudden termination but some have been leaked to the internet. What were they?

  • 10) Lewandowski fell behind on beating up reporters quota.
  • 9) Staffer found in his office a one way, first class plane ticket to Argentina dated November 9th.
  • 8) Circulated memo to entire campaign strenuously urging everyone to wear brown shirts.
  • 7) Trump increasingly discomfited with Lewandowski's stiff arm salute.
  • 6) Leaked on Facebook that if Trump won the presidency, he'd take the oath on a copy of Mein Kampf.
  • 5) Lewandowski had bought domain names such as
  • 4) Signature line on emails changed last week to, "Why won't he love me?!"
  • 3) Had personally banned so many media outlets from Trump events all that was left was the Veritas Project, Prison Planet and that homeless guy on the corner with the cardboard sign proclaiming, "THE END IS NEAR!!"
  • 2) Trump campaign belatedly discovered Lewandowski's additions to Trump speeches were ver batim quotes from Adolph Hitler and George Lincoln Rockwell.
  • 1) Unable to break irritating habit of goosestepping through office and calling Mr. Trump "Fuhrer."
  • Sunday, June 19, 2016

    Happy Father's Day

         Consider this an open thread since I'll be out most of the day having lunch and seeing the new X-Men movie with my sons, the elder one coming in from Virginia. See you back in the funny pages tomorrow.

    Saturday, June 18, 2016

    Breaking News

    Friday, June 17, 2016

    Good Times at Pottersville, 6/17/16

    Thursday, June 16, 2016

    Giving Fascism a Chance

         Let's face it, Bernie Sanders is a lousy Socialist. Depending on how you define the elusive and squishy concept of Socialism, Bernie falls far short of any rubric or metric of it (save perhaps for Socialism being viewed as an intermediary gateway leading to actual Communism). About the most you can say about the Vermont Senator's socioeconomic philosophy is that he is merely where mainstream Democrats were in the 70's and 80's.
         In his tax form disclosures earlier this year, we found out he'd made about a quarter of a million dollars last year. That's pretty much pauper wages compared to the pelf congressmen make on the side. Still, show me one other so-called Socialist who pulls down about a million bucks or more every four years.
         Sanders is not saying that we should collectivize or even nationalize any industry. He's not saying we should all make the same amount of money. The so-called Socialist is quite happy to work within the rotten framework of our current capitalist system. His Robin Hood tax would fund his dream to make college free for everyone even if it is poorly thought out and would depress capital gains, hence capital gains taxes collected by Uncle Sam.
         He's also called for raising taxes for the rest of us, which always makes assholes on both sides of the Great Ideological Divide pucker up in unison.
         So, yeah, Bernie Sanders really, really sucks as a Socialist. He has a lot of sound ideas, some of them actually rooted in pragmatism. But he's no Eugene Debs. And we're no Socialist country and have never come close to making any meaningful strides to that end. Any doddering steps we had taken to the left were immediately stopped and this trend goes back to the beginning of the labor movement in the late 19th century.
         Yet despite the fact that several Latin American and European countries teach us of the public and private benefits of limited and pragmatic socialism, why has the United States always harbored an undeclared love affair with, or at least a tolerance of, fascism?
         What you see above is George Lincoln Rockwell, the former head of the American Nazi Party. Rockwell was practically a fixture on American television back in the 50's and 60's. While in a very reasonable sounding tone of voice he espoused odious and racist ideologies on national television while courteous commentators gave him house room in comfortable, climate-controlled sound stages with nary a peep from the audience.
         Rockwell's place in American history is so secure that the former naval officer was portrayed by Marlon Brando in Roots II, a role for which he'd won an Emmy. After Rockwell's assassination by one of his own people in August 1967, the government had originally allowed him to be buried with full military honors before his 50 mourners fucked that up by insisting on wearing Nazi regalia. (The government eventually had Rockwell's remains cremated)
         I can perfectly understand why today far right politicians espouse cryptofascist policies that resonate with the radical right wing (notably the Teabaggers) because they're all of a fascist mindset. What Rockwell said half a century ago is much the same thing that far right politicians and Teabagger candidates are saying now. As proof of this, look no further than the Trump campaign. Fascist recidivism is alive and well and still finding listeners. Millions of them, in fact. That doesn't surprise me.
         The truly surprising and distressing thing is that even so-called "liberals" and "progressives", all of them Obama and Hillary backers, claim that Sanders's policy proposals and theories are too far left and unrealistic. Which is exactly the kind of thing you'd expect from Bush backers a decade ago or Republicans from any decade within the last century. Hillary backers are about as liberal and progressive as Sanders is a Socialist.
         The plain fact is, we as a nation have always been more tolerant of fascism and fascist principles than we ever have been, and likely ever will be, of Socialism. If we ever had a Socialist leader (which would practically be an oxymoron), do you think s/he would've been put on national TV as often as George Rockwell was? Obviously, the closest whatever socialist movement we have going on has for a leader is unquestionably Bernie Sanders. And you see how roundly he and his rallies are being ignored on national TV. Instead, it seems the lion's share of TV coverage is dedicated to the ongoing spectacle of the neofascist Trump campaign, paranoid thuggery and all, backed up by official law enforcement and in spite of Trump's ever-widening banning of media outlets from those same rallies.
         America's intolerance of anything even remotely smelling of Socialism extends back to at least the 1880s and the Haymarket Square riots in Chicago in 1886. The labor movement began with unrest very much motivated, and exploited by, socialist principles. Sometimes, public sentiment swung in favor of strikers and rioters, sometimes it'd turn against them. But one would be hard-pressed to find an example of any executive who ever went to prison for hiring strike breakers who'd killed a striking laborer.
         But people such as American Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs (Investment- The dreams of many in the hands of one) were considered pariahs outside the labor movement. Debs had orchestrated what would become known as "Debs' Rebellion", the Pullman Strike of 1894 Chicago. The strike threatened the halt of the US mail, which was hauled on Pullman cars, prompting President Grover Cleveland to issue an injunction making the strike illegal and Debs was sent to federal prison for contempt of court in defying the injunction. 30 people were killed at the hands of federal troops sent by Cleveland during the Pullman strike and not a single public official or Pullman executive even had to answer charges of manslaughter let alone saw the inside of the jail cell.
         And the same could almost be said of Rockwell. Despite the toxicity of his fascist polemics, he was allowed to stage an antiwar protest in front of Eisenhower's White House in July of 1958 without once being molested. As far as I've been able to ascertain, Rockwell was arrested once, on July 4th 1960 after a Nazi rally had ignited a riot.
         Earlier this spring, several white supremacist groups gathered for an annual rally at Stone Mountain, Georgia and they were surrounded by police. However, the police weren't summoned to keep an eye on the rowdy radicals but to protect them against Black Lives Matter activists, who were arrested in large numbers simply for staging a counter protest. This is a perfect synecdoche of American history, of our intolerance for the power of the people, even though we are the people, and our meek tolerance, or vicious endorsement, of ultra right wing neofascism.
         One need look no further than a few years ago when Occupy Wall Street was still a viable movement. One shouldn't need a refresher course to recall how swiftly police across the nation moved in to protect Wall Street's and Corporate America's good name from peaceful protesters, beating, pepper-spraying, arresting and charging people while often literally making up laws as they went along.
         Yet, you see a conspicuous absence of law enforcement, or at least law enforcement in riot gear, when the Klan or white supremacist entities gather in significant numbers. Yet when a grand jury is about to hand down a decision regarding a police-related death, often to no effect, the massive police build up is preemptive.
         In the political arena, we see the same trends. It's much easier for a quasi fascist (today we call them Tea Partiers) to get elected to Congress than a Socialist. There are so many Tea Partiers in Congress, in fact, they had their own Caucus (now it's known, ironically, as the Freedom Caucus).
         By the same token, how many Socialists are there in Congress? There are so few, it seems, that an internet search provides no useful or factual answers because it's hardly worth asking or researching.
         Our tolerance of native fascism and intolerance or uneasiness of native Socialism is a disturbing trend that has characterized the United States over at least 130 years. Until someone conducts a study establishing a link between Americanism and an authoritarian mindset that's exploited by A type fascist personalities, it's a mystery that'll forever elude explication.
         It's understandable that right wingers would reflexively recoil at the thought of Socialism. But it's doubly disturbing that at least as many so-called left wingers would have the same repugnant reaction to Bernie Sanders' own bland brand of Socialism.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    Tweets From the Edge: Smart Ass Troll edition

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    Happy Donald Trump's Birthday, er, Flag Day.

    Monday, June 13, 2016

    We Haven't Come Very Far

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
    The Pulse night club shooting in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night has been called the worst terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11, the largest mass shooting in US history and the single deadliest one man attack ever in America. And that is all, sadly, true. But there was one other attack on the LGBTQ community, this one committed nearly 43 years ago. And it was known as the Upstairs Lounge Arson Attack.
         Less than four years after Stonewall, when the Gay Rights movement was still awaiting its turn to get some serious traction, New Orleans' gay community had just concluded the final day of Pride Weekend and Mr. Massacci, the owner of the Upstairs:Lounge, a popular gay bar, had given free drinks to over 120 patrons. It was Sunday, June 24th and the patrons and members of the Metropolitan Community Church had gathered to discuss a charitable drive intended to benefit the local Crippled Childrens' Hospital.
         When a buzzer went off, AF veteran Buddy Rasmussen told Luther Boggs to answer the door. Instead of the cab driver he was expecting, Boggs instead was greeted with a wall of flames and the smell of lighter fluid.  With moments, the entire mid 19th century building was fully involved. At the end of the horrific day, 32 men had died from being burned alive, smoke inhalation or (in a hideous reprise of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire) jumping out of windows.
         In its subdued way, the city's reaction was almost as horrific. From the relatives of the victims, the media, the fire and police authorities and political and religious leaders, tried their mightiest to act as if this act of arson never happened. The surviving relatives were so ashamed their kin were found in a gay bar they'd never bothered to claim the bodies, condemning them to be buried in unmarked mass graves. The police did an inadequate investigation and the New Orleans Fire Dept. shrugged its shoulders and declared the fire to be of unknown origin.
         The print media and right wing talk radio had made light of the massacre because of the sexual orientation of the victims. And only one man of the cloth in all New Orleans, Reverend William P. Richardson of St. George's Episcopal Church, was willing to hold a small prayer service for them. Richardson's boss, Iveson Noland, the city's Episcopal Bishop, tore him a new one. The reverend's mailbox was soon filled with hate mail. His fellow minister Bill Larson of the MCC burned to death while clinging to the barred windows that would've offered the only escape route once all the stairwells were fully involved. His charred corpse was still plainly visible to onlookers for hours on end.
         In a heartbreaking postscript, another minister, Rev George Mitchel, escaped the blaze, only to run back in to rescue his boyfriend Louis Broussard. Both died, their burnt remains found in an embrace. It was the last of three such fires that targeted the MCC that year alone. Several years ago, TAPS investigated the Upstairs Lounge four decades after the fire to investigate paranormal experiences, helping to elevate it back to the public mind.

         As stated, the police and fire authorities (including the state fire marshal's office) conducted, at best, a perfunctory investigation and hastily concluded that they couldn't find the cause of the fire and had no suspect. But they did.
         Rodger Dale Nunez, a local troublemaker and hustler, had been ejected from the bar earlier that night and witnesses claimed he'd confessed no less than four times to setting the fire and even admitted he'd used Ronsonol lighter fluid bought at Walgreen's and squirted it on the bottom steps. Nunez, who'd been seen in the bar for at least 10 minutes before the 16 minute blaze began, said he hadn't known the entire building would go up. Nunez at least had the consideration to commit suicide the year after.
         What happened at the Upstairs Lounge that day and what happened at the Pulse were done by two very different people for two very different reasons. Yet they are of a piece. Both of the mass murderers had specifically targeted gay men on which to visit unimaginable acts of horror.
         What happened at the Pulse two nights ago, however, touches on so many different hot button issues it's difficult to conjure a coherent narrative addressing and unifying them all. It could touch upon the gay rights issue, since Mateen obviously targeted the LGBTQ community. Or one could focus instead on the rise of Islamic terrorism in the west or the ongoing problem of sensible gun ownership versus sovereign rights.
         However, it cannot be said we've been making serious inroads toward solving any of these problems. Giving the gay community gay marriage, obviously, does not stop their being targeted and punished in fits of homophobia. It cannot be said we've taken any meaningful strides toward curbing gun ownership under the wishy-washy Obama administration. And that same administration cannot be credited with making us safer with countless drone strikes in seven foreign countries that target terrorist leaders when they cannot even stop the ones in this very country.
         Yet all we can get from out elected leaders are "thoughts and prayers" that are about as efficacious as our toothless gun control laws. Donald Trump has made the shooting all about him. Hillary Clinton, herself a recipient of NRA largesse, offers her own "thoughts and prayers". Bernie Sanders, considering his own defense of the gun industry, would do well to shut the fuck up.
         For now, all we can do is recommend that all gay bars and clubs beef up their security since their elected officials aren't willing to do anything to prevent senseless, massive tragedies from taking place.
         In the meantime, we'll have to suffer more kneejerk reactions from gun-clutching ammosexuals who hoarsely scream, "Don'cha dare get between me an' mah guns, Obama!". You know who I mean. They happen to the same sovereign citizens who blithely dismiss rights to privacy for gay people to the point of telling them they haven't the right to get married or even have gay sex.

    (Update: Firstly, it appears as if several of the victims of the Pulse massacre were female patrons. I was going by what the MSM was saying but I take full responsibility for that oversight.
         Secondly, new reports are now saying the shooter was not only a regular at the Pulse but that he'd also exchanged several messages with at least one other gay man on a gay dating app. Gawker broke this news and later tonight it will be explored more deeply on Chris Hayes' All In on MSNBC.
         Thirdly, this new development shows there was much more of a parallel to the Upstairs Lounge fire than I'd hitherto thought. It appears as if Mateen, who'd reportedly been a patron of the Pulse for upwards of three years, had perhaps taken revenge on it and its patrons for being ejected one night for being drunk and abusive.
         This is exactly the same reason Rodger Nunez burned the Upstairs Lounge in 1973. He may have called the Orlando PD and announced his support of ISIS or that may be a fabrication. It could also be it was a convenient cover for him to decide to wage jihad on a nightclub filled with innocents: A butt hurt, self-loathing gay man who was thrown out for being drunk.
         His father told media today while he didn't condone his son's actions, gay people should all be killed, any way, only by Allah.
         It seems he got his wish. I'd like to hear his thoughts on the subject of gay genocide now.

    Sunday, June 12, 2016

    The Pulse of the Problem

         I'm going to jettison any pretense to literary ability, thematic unity, restraint or even empirical coherence after what happened in Orlando last night. I'm too enraged, not thinking clearly but at least I can guarantee you this much: What I'm about to say comes from the heart and I want to say this while I, a compassionate bisexual man and a liberal, have a full head of steam.
         Omar Mateen is now officially a rotting corpse and that is an incredibly good thing. He walked into the Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, and with an AR15 killed at least 53 gay men and wounded 53 more before finally being put out of his misery by the Orlando Police Department. Every police officer involved should get a commendation and a hefty raise in pay.
         29 year-old Mateen was an Islamist radical from New York City of Afghani descent. According to what his father said, Omar was enraged at the sight of two men kissing and it rankled under his skin until he drove inland from Port St Lucie to Orlando with two guns and an incendiary device.
         It's virtually impossible to imagine such hatred. If it was a singular instance that drove him over the edge, the sight of two gay men kissing, it shows just how dangerous life is, that a momentary and possibly forgettable public display of affection would result in over 100 casualties. He must have known he wouldn't be able to shoot his way out and emerge alive. Yet this is apparently what had happened. He sacrificed his worthless life to show the world how much he hated homosexuality.
         It's not as if the FBI didn't have this piece of shit on their radar. He'd been interviewed by them at least twice that we know of because of his radicalization and I imagine the Bureau is madly looking to see if he indeed had ties to organized Islamic terrorism. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if he had.
         This was the worst act of terrorism on US soil since 9/11 and from a casualty standpoint the worst mass shooting in American history. It may more than double the body count after Virginia Tech and is, thus far, roughly four times the casualty count at Sandy Hook.
         Naturally, all the wingnuts are coming out in lockstep as if deployed by an SS commandant offering their completely worthless prayers, jeremiads against the gay community and preemptively accusing gunsense activists of politicizing the deaths of over 50 people after politicizing in 2012 the deaths of four in Benghazi. To these people, I say fuck you and your prayers and politics. You want to live in a guns everywhere zone, go to fucking Somalia.
         If your prayers were worth shit, it they were efficacious then we wouldn't have so many acts of terror, now would we? But Rick Scott, one of the NRA's darlings, just said minutes ago the most important thing we can do is "pray." He also shook his bald bullet head and said he couldn't imagine such a horrible thing taking place in these United States. After Columbine. After Ft Hood. After Virginia Tech. After Sandy Hook. "Who could've known?"
         Another right wing piece of shit, TX Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, immediately took to his Twitter account and put up a pair of memes containing Biblical verses that seemed to excuse Mateen's massacre while vilifying the gay community. Each of them also featured a small campaign logo on the bottom lest anyone accuse him of politicizing this tragedy.
         OK, I'm about to say something that not one single liberal in the land has the guts to say (at least I've never heard anyone once say it). And as usual, it falls to me to do it.
         Obama should take away everyone's guns. There, it's out. This will be the Jade Helm moment that wingnuts have been slavering for, the day when Obama takes away all their guns but after this, he should. Then they should be made to earn them back. After all, if you get into an accident and hit or kill people, damage property, you get your license suspended then you have to earn that back.
         People will die, sure, just like Waco (which started out as a showdown over firearms violations) but people are dying, any way. This way, the right people will be dying. And they should lose their guns if they can't stow them away properly or misuse them. We're the only country in the world in which dozens of toddlers shoot their parents and others every single year.
         So take their guns away. Then set up a national registry where we can keep track of every gun owner in this country. Mandate ultra stringent background checks, lengthy waiting periods and to attend, and pass, gun safety classes held by the local police or Sheriff's department. And let's do away with the ridiculous loopholes that bypass background checks for internet or gun show sales.
         There is no earthly reason why an individual should be allowed to have possession of hundreds of guns including full automatics and literally hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition. When people collect magazines or cats in large numbers we call it "hoarding" and those who do it "nuts." Hoard guns and ammo, you're a "patriot."
         Take their guns away. All of them.
         Because this shit can't continue. When dozens of people die in a single shooting including children and college students who think they're in a safe environment, when over four dozen members of a targeted group are shot and killed in a single building, then we have a problem. We Americans as a whole are an international embarrassment. People in other countries think our entire nation is 1881 Tombstone (which at least actually had gun control laws) and that all 320,000,000 of us are gun-toting yahoos.
         We need to pressure the State Department to list the NRA as a terrorist organization and hammer home the message that they are not in fact a gun owners lobby but a gun and ammo manufacturer's lobby and that they're playing their dues-paying members like the suckers they are.
         Guns don't kill people. NRA lobbyists, gun and ammo executives and Republicans kill people in the name of greed and power and continued incumbency.
         And as for Omar Mateen, I hope his 72 virgins are all lesbian, right wing gun nut Tammy Bruce and that they're all strapped to the gills. Because I can't think of a more divine injustice for that piece of shit.

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    Friday, June 10, 2016

    An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton Backers

    Dear Hillarybots:
         Welcome to the new Republican Party. What kept you?
         No doubt, many of you reading this have stopped reading already, since an enduring and consistent characteristic of Hillarybots is a complete intolerance of contrary views which is very similar to the "You're either with us or against us" mindset that consistently characterized the Bush years.
         For those of you with a bit more intestinal fortitude, sally forth, Dear Reader and you might learn something. But, more likely, you won't.
         You are viciously and mindlessly supporting a woman who is simply a crook and a war hawk. The evidence proving this is staggering and absolutely unmistakable to those of us who have the strength to see such colossal corruption wrapped up in a single pants suit. And, barring a timely indictment by the federal government for very serious crimes committed while she was Secretary of State, Hillary's presumptive nomination is going to quickly result in the deaths of many people in third world countries. In lieu of her blood-spattered brand of foreign policy that was pushed into the Oval Office when our top diplomat should've been seeking diplomatic solutions and not violent regime change in places like Libya, Hillary may actually prove to be more bloodthirsty than your other hero, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama.
         You are championing a woman who throughout her 15 year-long political career has had attached to her every campaign essentially the entire DC registry of corporate lobbyists. Many of the super delegates who had pledged their votes to her are corporate lobbyists as well as pro-Hillary insiders. Many of the people who had donated billions to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Initiative, two of the most bogus charities in planetary history, have been corporate lobbyists and corporations, ruthless, murderous dictators and people whom, it can be reasonably assumed, do not have the well-being of the 99% at heart.
         Now, I am not accusing you of engineering the countless dirty tricks and electoral fraud that has dogged Clinton's slime trail of a campaign because that takes insiders, machine party leaders, to engineer. Yet you have brainlessly accepted these many, many, many instances of electoral fraud and have shown no sympathy or concern whatsoever for the disenfranchised and have tried to spin it, as has the Clinton machine, as examples of superior popularity.
         Yet we have not seen electoral fraud on such a scope and scale since the Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004. Never before have we seen so many exit polls that varied so wildly and widely in so many different states as we've seen this year. Not since 2000 when Katherine Harris knocked about 96,000 mostly voters of color off the Florida voter rolls have we seen so many disappearances of eligible voters (126,000 in the borough of Brooklyn alone, dwarfing Harris' state-wide purge).
         And none of this seems to make an impression on you. I imagine for those of you in your mid 30's and up, it was these dirty tricks kept you up at night as it had me when it was done to largely Democratic voters during Bush's two campaigns. I'm sure that, in your youth, you'd also screamed bloody murder about Bush's dirty business dealings and the people with whom he's shared a fiduciary bed.
         But when Hillary is found guilty time and again of identical behavior, then suddenly it's permissible. Just as critics of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 were branded "racists", so Hillary Clinton critics are labeled "misogynists." Just as critics of Bush were called "unAmerican."
         Truly, speaking as not just a Bernie Sanders supporter but an actual, thinking human being with a high intellect and superior powers of cognition and perception, it is absolutely and endlessly amazing at the intellectual gymnastics of which you Clinton campers are capable when it comes to rationalizing, spinning, whitewashing, denying and otherwise ignoring her never-ending bloody trail of bread crumbs of corruption that always seem to lead back to K and Wall Streets.
         You have been so unmoored from reality that this DINO has convinced you that Sen. Sanders marching with Dr. King was a ho hum moment, or one you're sick of hearing about. Some of you, including Rep. Lewis, even advanced a conspiracy theory that he'd never actually marched with Dr. King. Yet at the same time Bernie was getting arrested in Chicago over integration, your girl was rah rah sis boom bahing for an ultra right winger named Barry Goldwater who wanted to nuke North Vietnam and repeal the Civil Rights Act. "Oh, but she saw the light," you conveniently say, "and eventually sided with the angels."
         Well, Bernie Sanders saw the light decades ago and has never turned from it or wavered in his message. And you hate him for it.

         Helping Hillary into the White House will be, at least, a fifth Bush term, as Obama's presidency was nothing more or less than a third and fourth Bush term. There is absolutely no daylight between either party, anymore. They all work for the same corporations, the same lobbyists, the same banks, the same right wing dictators. Her husband's own presidency was one of the most ruinous in American history (and one of the most despicable as a false Democratic banner was flown above it) and she merely promises more of the same. She flip-flops with the consistency of Mitt Romney yet you are oddly comfortable with that, too, preferring to see that as "flexibility."
         She is a closet racist who once called black youth "super predators" when cheering on her husband's 1994 crime bill that was plainly skewed against minorities. Yet black voters are coming out in droves for this woman who had indirectly caused, and still defends causing, God knows how many of your relatives to languish in for profit prisons that began to seriously rake it in the minute that crime bill was signed into law.
         You see her in her Chairman Mao pantsuits and listen to that husky voice and think she's the next Eleanor Roosevelt. But what you hear as ballsiness and brassiness is nothing more than a diminished estrogen level. Hillary Clinton is the very epitome of the machine Democrat and, if she wasn't shamelessly trading on her vagina on the campaign trail, she'd be the envy of the 19th century Tammany Hall bosses and sachems.
         She has shown an absolute contempt for Black Lives Matter protesters who've spoken up at her rallies and toward any other critics. God forbid you should ever turn face when you see how horrible this woman will be in the Oval Office. See how long your Goldwater Girl will tolerate your criticism after she becomes president.
         Because she will make the NDAA even more fascist and oppressive than Obama had already made it. She will absolutely renew the USA PATRIOT Act with all its cruel and needless provisions. The Terrorist No Fly lists will remain firmly in place and will even grow exponentially, with all secrecy intact. Don't come crying to us when you find out at the airport one day you've been placed on it without being told why.
         And as much as we in the know know about this crook for whom you're shamelessly pandering, I am sure this is only the tip of the iceberg and that the full truth is much, much worse than I've already said here. I had Obama pegged eight years ago and it cost me 90% of my readership because nobody likes a Cassandra.
         And I am right about Hillary Clinton as surely as I am right about you.
         You are the new Republican Party, the neo right wing. Do not think your opposition to Donald Trump makes you in any way, shape or form "progressive" or "liberal." Do not think that Bernie Sanders or his message of real hope and change will go away as easily as blocking a Bernie supporter from your precious Twitter feed.
         You are the enemy. And I am taking names and if and when this second dirtbag Clinton gets in the White House, I will remember those names and ask you how you like your Goldwater Girl now when innocent brown people, and perhaps American citizens, continue dying, when the incarceration rate of minorities continues to skyrocket, when we're endlessly at war in Third World countries and when corporations are coddled more lovingly than any of Hillary's individual supporters in the 99%.
         Yes, it will make history if the first female president gets elected, even if it's through dirty right wing tricks such as voter suppression, collusion with the media, party insiders, right wing donors and Republican operatives. But Obama made history nearly eight years ago by becoming the first black president and it can't be said that history had translated to any serious advancement for civil rights.
         Nor will Hillary Clinton's presumed presidency. It will be more empty, easy populism as we've seen over the last eight years, with the enforcement of the corrupt status quo successfully masquerading as hope and change poisoned with an unhealthy infusion of centrist, bipartisanism that is doomed to fail at every opportunity.
         And you will have no one but yourselves to blame for the outcome. I was right eight years ago. And I am right now.

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