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Olbermann’s Powerful Appeal for Health Care Reform

A special episode long comment.  No need for words;  just watch the clips.


A Lifelong Bromance with Books

Levar Burton started it all. I remember being in second grade when Reading Rainbow would come on. That theme song alone just made it so appealing to read; it made books sound like these amazing mystical things that would transport you to another dimension. I discovered dinosaurs through books, and how could any second grader resist dinosaurs? Later on Jerry Spinelli would really ignite my bromance with books with a book called Maniac Magee. But if any one person had the biggest influence on me, it was my dad. On weekends he would seen my sisters and I to the thrift store to find anything of value, and he always sent us to the book aisles to pick out what we wanted. I started my book collection with books by Michael Crichton, who gave us Jurassic Park – again with the dinosaurs!

But from Crichton on I discovered better authors and books that I thought I would never read. John Grisham kept me company in 8th grade; later I discovered Stephen King and then I found that dead authors wrote some of the best books in the universe – my favorites being Cervantes, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy. I began going on these thrift store raids myself and wandered the aisles of the many used book stores in my city looking for everything that stood out to me. I can easily drop 5 bucks for a stack of books as tall as a five year old. You know how some people will wait for a movie to come out on DVD? I wait for books to come out on Salvation Army.

I’m 25 years old now and basically live in a library, books just occupying as much shelf space on my entire wall and spilling onto the floor in stacks. To think that there are people who have collected even more books than I have just astounds me. I don’t even think I will outlive the books that I’ve amassed throughout the years so I tend to be very picky about what I buy. I did the math – human beings on average have only hundreds of thousands of hours to live on this planet. I figure that to get my money’s worth from the things that I purchase, I better enjoy them as much as I possibly can. I don’t but a Playstation 3 because I have books in my room I haven’t even opened yet, DVDs I’ve only seen twice, music I’ve listened to once. While I do play video games, I’ll only play at a friend’s house or online when I don’t really feel like reading. But for me,actually investing in a gaming system would be pointless. Can you imagine the amount of time I would have to spend on a PS3, mastering all the video games available, to get my money’s worth? Now, maybe if I lived a couple hundred years I might gives video games a shot. I think people have to pick and choose their interests; mine were pretty much chosen a long time ago.


Alan Grayson: My New BFF

My man. He said something that I’ve been dying to hear from a Democrat since…forever.

And what’s more – he did not back away.

He’s talking about the truth.  He said “truth is an absolute defense”.

Thank God for Alan Grayson, for he is my voice in Congress.  He may represent Florida, but that’s the guy who speaks for me as an American.


Olbermann ≠ O’Reilly

Some people say that the most vile attacks on Obama are racially motivated and that latent racism is perhaps the real motivating issue behind the protests; others say that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, attended an Indonesian madrassa, and is both a communist and a fascist.

Some people say that evolution is a fact; others say not only that evolution is just a theory, they also think that Intelligent Design is an acceptable alternative.

The first statement was a matter of opinion; it really is possible that Obama is the victim of racist attacks, but it is not possible for Obama to have been born in Kenya.  I only put them together because when some people point out the stupidity inherent in believing that Obama is a Muslim, they retort “well, you believe all protesters are racist” – as if that puts me on equal footing with you.  It is not the same to make a valid opinion (racist motivation) and to be flat out wrong (it is known for a fact that Obama was not born in Kenya).

The second statement compare two ideas; one is science, the other is not.  One is fact, the other one is belief.  And just to make it perfectly clear, evolution is a fact. To contradict fact is to be wrong.

Notice how I didn’t bother putting a label on the people who say these things.  That’s because it should be fairly obvious to you who I’m talking about, but if I said “conservatives say this”, one tends to think that I mean to say “all conservatives”.  I figured that people are having a lot of difficulty understanding that distinction lately.  I also did it because I wanted to demonstrate these contrasting ideas without all the ideological baggage attached, if only for a split second.  Sometimes, there really aren’t two sides to a story.  Sometimes, it really just boils down to truth vs. stupid.  Reality is not up for interpretation.  When both arguments are given equal time and weight before the media, we have what is known as false equivalence.  It’s a form of political correctness that tries to find a middle ground between competing ideas by saying that one side is just as crazy as the other, or one argument is just as valid as the other.   It’s putting appearances before truth is what it is.  It’s cowardice.

I remember a review that Roger Ebert wrote a few years ago for the film “Team America: World Police”, in which he calls out Trey Parker and Matt Stone for treating “both sides” as if they were two sides of the same coin. Ebert said then that the problems were too great for somebody to refuse to stand for principle; now, the problems are even greater.

Let us not pretend that the nuts on the left are the same as the nuts on the right – when Bush and Cheney eviscerated the Bill of Rights and subverted the Constitution at ever turn, they acted far more Hitler-ish than anything Obama has EVER done.  When the Supreme Court handed Bush the election, that was an undemocratic subversion of the will of the people and the right to have every vote counted; do you mean to tell me that the left accusing Bush of stealing the election is the same as the right accusing Obama of being a Kenyan-born Muslim – despite the FACT that he isn’t?

When Keith Olbermann rails against an enemy, at the very least he is backed up by FACTS – that is not something you could always say about Bill O’Reilly and it something you could NEVER say about Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.  Olbermann and O’Reilly are NOT simply batting for their own teams; they’re not even playing the same sport.

Which brings me to the difference between Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly.  There’s a reason Stephen Colbert prefers “truthiness” to facts.  It’s because one of these two prefers “truthiness” to facts.  People often compare one to the other on the grounds that they are both talking heads and on different sides of the ideological divide.  But the facts are what sets them apart – one of them bases his strongly worded opinions on fact while the other basically lies.  What sucks is that I can’t prove any of it to you if you don’t believe in facts.  You’ll just have to look at their track records – why not start with O’Reilly?  15 minutes on Media Matters or FAIR.org should give you an idea of who’s shooting straight.

I believe that while not all liberals and progressives argue from facts, most of them do.  I wish there were a way to measure this.  There already do exist organizations that measure accuracy in reporting – the aforementioned Media Matters and FAIR.org – and they always seem to go after Fox News.  It’s not that their biased.  It’s just that, as Stephen Colbert once said, because reality has a decidedly liberal bias.   I agree with facts and valid opinions; over the years, I have come to the conclusion that it is the reason I call myself a progressive.


Defending the Corporate Option: Cynicism at its Lowest

The defense I’ve heard that most baffles my mind is that insurance companies can’t compete with a public option – as if now we’re supposed to give a shit about insurance companies!  When was the last time they gave a shit about us?!  Do you have any idea how much the CEO of United Health makes?  Did you know William McGuire’s exit compensation from UnitedHealth hovered somewhere in the area of $1billion, making it largest golden parachute in the history of corporate America?  And you paid for that.  You people who leap in to defend these corporate douchebags – you paid for that, you fucking idiots.  How did poor and middle class people warm up to the idea of wanting private insurance?  How could anyone actually want a corporate middle-man involved in medical issues that are already expensive to begin with?  At least with a public option, you wouldn’t pay an atrocious premium.  I bet that most of the people protesting the public option were not too crazy about the fact that they had to pay an insurance company outrageous dues every month, just on principle alone.  That is, before Rush Limbaugh opened his big fat stupid snout.  See, now they LOVE United Health!  Now the LOVE Aetna!   If all it took for you to take up the fight against your own self-interest were the words of professional spin doctors and propaganda paid for by corporate insurance execs, well, then you’re a weak-minded stooge. A simpleton, a patsy.  You’re a chump.

By the way, what else would you people defend if the opportunity arose?  Would you defend unemployment?  If Obama tomorrow decided that he wanted to give every poverty-class citizen in the South jobs related to building some massive public project – perhaps solar panels for everybody! – would you be against it?  On some “I dun WAN’  da Gubmint to gimme me a job, that’s COMMIE SOCIALISM!”, type shit.  As soon as Glenn Beck weighs in with his retarded-ass opinion, will the response from you mindless sheep sound more like, “I AM A FREE AMERICAN, YOU CAN’T FORCE ME TO WORK IN YOUR CONCENTRATION DEATH CAMPS, YOU NAZI COMMUNIST!!!”

All this talk about death camps, Nazis, and death panels is ignorant bullshit.  When my grandmother died, we were the death panel.  You see, doctors didn’t decide that she should no longer be artificially kept alive.  We did.   We decided it was better to let her die naturally than to prolong her suffering through artificial means.  You see, the public option has nothing to do with death panels.  That term was a cynical term coined by Sarah Palin to discredit the idea of a public option.  She had an ideological bend she had to defend, a party to rebuild, and corporate donors who needed their backs scratched.  I also have an ideological bend, although mine skews away from capitalist excess – the idea that the bottom line trumps life.  I believe decisions about life and death should be made by doctors and family, not any corporate or government entity.  My ideological bend also extends towards an adherence to the facts – and the fact is that the public option has nothing to do with what you or your doctors talk about.  It simply does not.  But if you so angry about that perceived intrusion, where is your anger towards a corporation that would deny you treatment for leukemia because you’re too expensive?  I say to you, your insurance companies already have death panels! They decide based on the bottom line whether you live or die, and they do it every day, to pay for their bloated salaries!  How fucking cynical, that the corporate opponents of health reform were able to project their sins unto the government.  How stupid of you, those of you within the American public, who believe them.


Just Say NO to Logo Conests

A professional logo is worth at least $1000 to anybody with a reputable business.  But what do you expect out of a business that runs a logo contest? You may not be aware that logo design contests are unethical and insulting. You say you had 134 entries; that’s 133 chumps who worked for free. The idea is for designers to each spend time and resources to develop designs.  They then sit back with baited breath hoping they are chosen the “winner”.  After all, it’d be disappointing to have put in all that work for no pay, right?  But only the winner receives any compensation for the work he just put in.  What other profession do you know of where you can run a contest wherein the “lucky” winner basically does work for free unless he is “chosen” the winner? Writers?  Plumbers?  Dentists?

And to the designer: you’ve come up with a rather pedestrian logo. Does not say anything about the company other than it’s generic – and cheap. What part of that logo tells me anything about the company you just gave away your work to? Had you taken into account the way the text reads from a business card, or the color palette you use on your page – for starters – you’d have done your job right. As a matter of fact, who ARE you? Not a name to your credit? Not even a link to your page? So much for “exposure”.   That’s what you get when you enter a logo design contest.  I hope the paltry sum of money you were awarded was good for you. Should cover about half your rent; you DO live in a basement, don’t you?

One thing is for certain – neither you nor the company who “hired you” can be considered professionals.  Just say no to spec.

http://www.no-spec.com


Fuck you, Joe Wilson.

Olbermann steps to the plate to deliver to Joe Wilson what the asshole had coming to him.  I for one won’t forget it was South Carolina who gave us this imbecile Wilson.  I may be wrong – but I doubt it – in saying that nobody has ever heckled a United Stated president during a joint session of Congress.  Nobody, that is, until the first black president stepped into office…

To paraphrase Bill Maher, not all conservatives are powerfully stupid.  But if you’re powerfully stupid in America, you’re probably a conservative.


Things I Wish The President Would Say

A few items making the rounds out in the conservative market of ideas – a market currently undergoing a Great Depression – followed by an eloquent rebuttal in The President’s own words.

Obama plans to indoctrinate your children. Why? Because Michelle Malkin’s crazy ass said so, that’s why.

And just like I thought it would happen, these fucking idiots pulled their kids out of school. I’m not even going to use this space to try to argue why it isn’t true; again, stupid people can not be convinced by argument alone. The truth should be self-evident, this shouldn’t even be a fucking issue. I feel as if it’s an insult to my intelligence and yours to try to convince people that Obama is not trying to brainwash your kids, yet I know that if people don’t debunk this kind of shit it just grows like a mold. A mold of backward country bumpkin bullshit and retarded ass redneck fucktards. I think I’m just gonna let the President speak his mind.

Things I Wish Barack Obama would Say, #112

Things I Wish The President would Say, #132

“Mural at Rockefeller center is both Communist and Fascist Propaganda”, and other Crazy Conspiracy Mindfucks.

As an arts major I rolled over and laughed my face off when I watch Glenn Beck school his audience on the fine arts.  His woeful ignorance on the subject was too much for me to bear.  But the part of me that goes nuts every time someone says something that’s just a shade of meaning off made me slap myself when I finished seeing this clip and I realized he had just tried to put progressives, Communists, AND fascism in the same category.

I hesitate in dropping facts, because any facts I state will only be preaching to the converted and those who should know won’t benefit from reading them because facts don’t work on stupid people.  But I’m going for it anyway – communism is just about diametrically opposed to fascism as you can get.  It’s like black and white, night and day, yin and yang.   In short, they have nothing to do with the other.   Here’s a hint: read up on how much Stalin and Mussolini hated each other.

Things I Wish The President would Say, #214

Things I Wish The President would Say, #214

‘Van Jones is a threat to America’, or whatever the fuck Glenn Beck is pulling out of his ass this time.

Another career destroyed over bullshit. Democrats bend over and take it in the ass yet again. Van Jones gets ambushed, nobody steps up to the plate to defend him. So I will. Jones was a member of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), a group organized to protest police brutality. And I support that shit 100%. He signed a “truther” petition back in 04. I too, thought it legitimate that Bush may have had a role in 9/11 to further corporate interests. I realized eventually that he didn’t have to plan for 9/11; he merely had to ignore the warnings. This is not controversial. And more to the point, it was irrelevant to what should have been the discussion at hand, which was the fact that Jones was easily the most qualified man for the job of “green czar”. But let a nutjob like Glenn Beck on the loose and you’re gonna have an assload of Obama officials getting called out. For fuck sake, he called out the GE buulding.  This McCarthyist son of a bitch has no sanity, let alone decency. For his part, Van Jones acted admirably by stepping aside so he wouldn’t distract from the larger fight ahead.  It’s the Democratic party that has once again let the country down.

Jones was also quoted as calling Republicans “assholes”.   Nothing I’d disagree with. But check out the entire quote:

“And Barack Obama is not an asshole. So, now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity.”

I could not agree with him more.  We’re gonna have to make a lot of noise.  But I don’t think Obama should be exempt from the fight. Hey, I think he has something to say after all…

Things I Wish The President would Say, #512

Things I Wish The President would Say, #512

Oh, and Obama has something to say to you “deathers”…

Things I Wish Barack Obama would Say #121

Things I Wish The President would Say, #421


The Disneyverse expands, swallows the Marvel Universe.

Galac-Mouse: Devourer of Culture

Galac-Mouse: Devourer of Culture

The Disneyverse expands, swallows the Marvel Universe.

Like the constant threat of Galactus: Devourer of Worlds, the “Disneyworld” has finally made good on its own threat to consume the Marvel Universe.


SAN FRANCISCO (Inebriated Press) Marvelites awoke to a shocking discovery early Sunday morning when science experts announced that their world had been gobbled up by the corporate entity known as the “Disneyworld”.  Inhabited by anthropomorphic talking mice, ducks, dogs, most living under utopian conditions within sovereign kingdoms ruled over by doe-eyed princesses, the Disneyworld was discovered by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four years ago during one of his experiments on interdimensional travel.

“What appears to be triggering the event is as yet unknown to me”, says Richards, “but I can tell you that based on experience that these things are usually the result of backroom deals struck by multinational corporations seeking to expand.  What this means for us is that a corporate entity now owns every person place and thing in the Marvel Universe.  And if what I hear about the suits leading the charge is any indication, we may be entering a universal dark age.”

Spider-man, a cultural icon and local Queens resident, welcomed the merger.

“I for one think it’s about time.  Things were getting pretty hairy around here, I mean, what with Captain America getting capped and everything.  Everyone’s been so depressed, and I can’t even make it through the day without my happy pills.  Hard to be a friendly neighboorhood Spider-man these days.  These guys oughta bring some cheer and sunshine into our lives…like the good ol’ days!”

He expressed a few reservations, however, in regards to the future of his valuable name brand.

“I’m just worried about their track record in terms of films, you know?  I’ve got a billion dollar movie franchise going and let’s just say I hope they don’t expect me to put out a musical or anything.”

After being told that plans for a Spider-musical were already on the way, Spidey’s chipper mood turned sour.

“Oh, crap”, replied the web-slinger.

Not everybody in the Marvel Universe was exactly thrilled with the merger.  Members of the superhero community expressed some of their concerns.  Heroes such as Daredevil, the blind guardian of Hell’s Kitchen, was taken aback by some of the subtle changes occurring around them.

“F*ck do you mean I’m wearing mouse ears?”, he replied when asked about his company-mandated new digs.

Impact on the Mutant World

“We welcome all sentient creatures into our fold”, said Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and the most visible activist in the struggle for mutant rights.  “It is my sincere hope that all of their citizens will be treated with utmost respect and mutual understanding as we seek to increase the dialogue between mutants, humans, and talking animals alike.”

In a response to Xavier’s address this morning, the mutant terrorist known as Magneto put out a new video, condemning the invasion as a human-engineered ploy to enslave and exploit mutants even as he reached out to the fairy-tale inhabitants of the Disneyworld.

“Beware the treachery of homo sapiens, my new brothers.  They are a petty race prone to hatred and evil; they will grow to envy and spite you.”

He then added, “Join us, or die”.

Welcome to Latveria, the…HAPPIEST place on Earth?

Princess Cinderella had expressed her desire to own a piece of prime real estate in Latveria, and as a senior stock holder in Disney Enterprises she was granted the parcel of land belonging to none other than Victor Von Doom.  Dr. Doom, the feared monarch of the tiny nation of Latveria, expressed scorn and disdain at the thought of sharing “his” world with “undesirables”.  His scorn turned to strongly worded outrage upon being told that at a shareholder conference earlier today, Disney corporate announced at that as part of the deal they would open a Disneyworld on Doom’s homeland, and even discussed plans to remodel his home and headquarters, the ominous Castle Von Doom, into Cinderella’s Castle.

“Foul, cretinous vermin!  Despicable witlings!  Microcephallic troglodytes!  How DARE they presume upon the land of Doom!  Loathsome pigs, feeding upon a trough of their masters’ refuse, blissfully ignorant of the horrors they now face at the hands of Doom! Pigs I say, mired in their own filth, and so shall they suffer a pig’s fate!  For their many insults to the throne of Latveria, they shall henceforth owe a blood debt to Doom that even their wretched grandchildren will continue to pay!  A copremesis pox on your families and a thousand curses upon their putrid souls!  So speaks Doom!”

Widespread violence breaks out, entire cities overrun by magical woodland creatures.

As a result of the merger, major clashes have been reported throughout the day.   Hours after Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) spoke to the press he was involved in an altercation with Mr. Incredible in Central Park that ended in a literal tangle when Elastigirl jumped into the fray.  Together they ended up looking like the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine.  By the time the Fantastic Four and the Incredibles were finished, Central Park was a crater.  The argument stemmed from a long-standing feud over their respective feature film franchises.  The Fantastic Four maintain that they were blatantly ripped off.

“Your movies still sucked ass”, yelled the young speedster Dash of the Incredibles, referring to the series of live action films based on the Fantastic Four.  The fight was called off when a giant tsunami struck the entire eastern seaboard.  The tsunami was the result of a fight between Namor the Submariner and King Triton, both claiming sovereignty of the mythical underwater kingdom of Atlantis.

Elsewhere, Cain Marko – the Juggernaut – was seen fending off an attack from Buzz Lightyear at around noon.  The Space Ranger was pronounced dead at 12:04 PM.  When pressed for comment, Marko replied, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”.  A Hulk vs. Bambi match ended on a similar note.

On the other side of the country, a ho down ended in a bar room brawl that left dozens seriously injured, including a drunken Disneyman named Gaston who was found with clawmarks across his buttocks.  According to witnesses, a man identified only as “Logan” started the fight when Gaston broke into song and eventually made his way to Logan’s side of the room and began singing in his ear.  The man was reported as saying, “Does it look like I care about how many eggs you ate as a lad?  Get lost, bub”.

Final Thoughts

One of the most touching moments occurred as long lost relatives were reunited, and old wounds healed.  Howard the Duck met with representatives of the Donald Duck family in a tearful reunion after years of being stranded by an inter-dimensional cross-rip.  Quickly taking to their uncle’s dirty habit,  Huey, Dewey, and Louie enjoyed a Cuban cigar while Howard took a dive in Scrooge McDuck’s swimming pool.

But even as new friends were made, many more decried the events leading up to the Great Acquisition as the end of an era.    They worry about Disney’s intentions in the Marvel universe.  But ultimately, they mourn the loss of independence, and the fact that the integrity of the Marvel Universe is now subject to the uncaring whims of a faceless corporate giant.

They sold us out is what they did”, says Ben Grimm, popularly known as the blue eyed, ever-loving “Thing” of the Fantastic Four.  “What a rotten development”.

In related news, the naked body of Frank Castle, AKA “The Punisher”,  was found in a Bronx motel at around 9PM this evening.  Unconfirmed reports state that he was found with a massive gunshot wound to the head.  Three empty bottles of Everclear, Oxycontin, and a .50 caliber Desert Eagle were found alongside the body; the cause of death was ruled a suicide.


America’s Last Liberal Lion.

Your service to America will never be forgotten.  To you and your family, we owe a great debt.


Spot the Fictional Talking Head.

Can you spot the fictional character?

*Answer: Trick question.  They’re all fictional.


The Man Grows Fake Grass

As·tro·Turf // (ās’trō-tûrf’)

1) A trademark used for an artificial grass-like ground covering.

2) Describes formal political, advertising, or public relations campaigns seeking to create the impression of being spontaneous “grassroots” behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass.

Once upon a time, you were able to tell the underdogs apart from The Man.  The underdogs were the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the working and jobless poor; The Man was the douchebag at the gold course who earned 400 times what you did by exploiting underdogs.  The underdogs fought the system; The Man was the system.  The underdogs organized grassroots campaigns to fight the system; The Man spent millions of corporate dollars in ad campaigns on television and in print to keep you misinformed.  The underdogs went door to door; the Man sent you glossy, professionally designed campaign flyers.  The point of a grassroots campaign was that it was the people getting directly involved in politics to affect social change; the point of Astroturfing is to gain your sympathies by making you think they’re a grassroots campaign and not a corporate-sponsored propaganda being staged by – you guessed it – The Man.

But The Man has far too much at stake to let the people really speak for themselves.  That’s why they only pick the cream of the crop, by which I mean they find the biggest idiots they can and put them on the front lines to speak on their behalf.  This health care reform bill has brought the lunatics out in a big way – conspiracy nuts, Ditto-heads, racists, gun nuts, and other ignoramuses (sometimes they’re all one and the same).  They gather ignorant fucks from around the country to become their foot soldiers, lobbying on behalf of the very corporations trying to ensure that the public’s needs come second to their own; these dupes protest against their own self-interest.  What you thought were people protesting the public option were actually unwitting representatives of big insurance companies – bought and paid for with their (our) dollars.

When you have to lie to people to get your agenda pushed through, you demonstrate that your agenda will not stand on its own merits.  Astroturfing is dishonest to its core, but the protesters don’t seem to know that.  It is a form of lying to the public because it’s corporations pretending that they ARE the public.  For that, corporations who astroturf automatically lose the moral high ground; they have no right to pretend they speak for us when they spend so much money trying to screw us.   It’s like greenwashing, in that rather than doing something in the public’s interest, they are simply making it seem as if they are.  Perhaps instead of being concerned about how they look, they ought to be concerned about how they act.

Astroturf is a good product; when you can’t play on grass because the weather in your home state is inhospitable to grass, you get Astroturf.  You can play on it year round and doesn’t require the environmentally unfriendly practice of having to water 6,396 square feet of it every couple days.  It looks greener, too.  But some of the things that make Astroturf great are the same things that make astroturfing bad.  It’s fake, synthetic, plastic, the product of a corporation and not of nature.  Astroturf may look greener, but it will never replicate the natural variety, color, and texture, of real grass.

____________

Astroturfing has a long history; it didn’t start with town halls and it won’t stop there either.  Oil companies are doing it, too…

Check out Maddow’s exposee on Recess Rally (the health care reform protesters)

…and another one.  God Bless Rachel Maddow for being the only one calling out these dickwads and naming names.


How can anybody be against the Public Option?

Finally – the White House stepping up to the bullshit – http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/settingtherecord

Nowadays I’m wondering to myself, “if they hate the public option so much, the loud, obnoxious geezers protesting public health insurance better not be on Medicare”.  If these astroturf imbeciles suffer a heart attack on the way to a town hall rally to disrupt the talks with their ignorant psychobabble-onian bullshit, they really better just lie there and die.

I’m bout to drop a little knowledge that might – or might not – come as a shock to the ignorant fucks protesting health care reform.  In fact, let me put this in its own paragraph just so the idiots amongst us can really get the picture:

43 MILLION AMERICANS ARE ALREADY COVERED UNDER A SINGLE PAYER PUBLIC OPTION.  IT’S CALLED MEDICARE. YOU IGNORANT, REPUBLICAN FUCKS.

Medicare is less expensive than private insurance and provides better coverage, only it does it for old people.  Which brings me to my next point:

Ahem.

MEDICARE HAS NO DEATH PANELS.  THERE IS NO MANDATORY EUTHANASIA FOR OLD PEOPLE.  YOU IGNORANT, REPUBLICAN FUCKTARDS.

Most people on Medicare seem to be happy with it.   I really do not see a downside to expanding it to apply to all Americans.  Especially considering that…

IT’S CHEAPER THAN WHAT WE WOULD PAY FOR PRIVATE INSURANCE. YOU SIMPLE ASS, IGNORANT, REPUBLICAN FUCKTARDS.

The reforms would prohibit private insurance companies from rationing health care, or denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.  In other words…

THERE IS NO RATIONING OF CARE – REFORM WILL STOP RATIONING, NOT INCREASE IT. YOU SIMPLE ASS, IGNORANT, CORPORATE-DOUCHE-BAG-DEFENDING, REPUBLICAN FUCKTARDS.

And one more thing:

THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT TAKE-OVER OF HEALTH CARE. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE.  MORONS.

Why is it wrong that a majority of Americans would prefer to cut the middleman out and take control of our own health care?  How can conservatives concerned about waste oppose this?  These are the fundamental question at the heart of health care reform.  Forget about Obama trying to kill your grandma; it’s bullshit.  “Death panels” are bullshit.   Forget about the buzz words.  Forget about the loud, obnoxious cuss words from cantankerous bloggers and the old farts who are sabotaging the discourse over a public option that many of them are already beneficiaries of.

The Republican party opposes this plan simply as a political move.  They know Medicare works, so they know better than to mouth off with all that “death panel wants to kill your grandma” bullshit.  Their lies are blatant.  What they want is to weaken Obama.  It’s not even a conspiracy; it’s on the public record.  A congressman was even quoted as saying so.  But if I wrote a blog about that, it would only encourage the Republicans among us to fight the public option even more.  See, they’re not the most mature bunch; they would protest a plan that works in their own best interest just to see Obama fail.  It’s snot-nosed child shit.  But maybe, if I appeal to reason, they might come around on this.  Or not.  To tell you the truth, I’m not really banking on the dumb fucks.  I’ve come to accept that logic really does not work on them, or it would have succeeded a long time ago.  They are eternally the foot soldiers of the corporations, never really knowing who or what they’re working for, never knowing that they’re working against their own interests.  They’re lost.

But to the rest of you, maybe you’re on the fence about the public option.  You’re smart, but maybe you don’t have all the facts.   I hope you take a better look.  Google this shit.  Don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.  You will find no death panels, no government take over of health care, and no conspiracy to kill old people (seriously…what the fuck?).  What you will find is Medicare for all.  A public option, belonging to you and me.  At the end of the day, what corporate interests in the insurance industry are trying to do is prevent us from having their own say in health insurance.   It’s no different than if I gathered a group of 10 people and told everyone to chip in so we could pay our own insurance.  I do not see how that has become a bad thing.  It’s the only option that empowers us to pool our resources so that we can cover our own asses – like our grandparents already do under Medicare.  These cynical fucks talk about choice, but insurance companies don’t want us to have that choice.  I say, fuck em.  You know what to do.


The Conservative Church

There exist a few kinds of conservative in the United States.  First and foremost, it should be noted that the first group I’m going to mention don’t consider themselves conservative at all; instead, they consider themselves true liberals.  These are the libertarians.   Social freedom, as well as economic freedom are the main tenets of their ideology.  They claim to be the ideological heirs of the Age of Enlightenment, and as such many (but by no means all) libertarians, men such as Penn Jillette and Christopher Hitchens, consider themselves hardened realists (i.e., atheists) and even more hardened believers in the free market.   The first tenet seems to be optional; indeed while many libertarians are free thinkers, skeptics, and men of science and reason, many others also happen to be religious.  The second tenet, that of economic freedom, however, seems to be a must for anyone who labels themselves a libertarian.   You see, that’s because to libertarians, free people are almost absolutely free.  It means as few laws as possible, both in our social lives and our economy; no distinction is made between society and economics.

Which brings me to the second group of conservatives, the ones we all know as Republicans.  They’re libertarians with a twist: they also happen to be deeply religious and comfortable with establishing rules that govern your private life.  They tend to appeal to religious sensibilities.  What they do retain from libertarian philosophy is a rabid dedication to fiscal conservatism which, I hope I don’t have to explain, is really another name for free market capitalism.  Remember, libertarians really stress the “free” in free market.  In the economic sense at least, Republicans are very liberal.   In fact, they’re sometimes considered “neoliberals”.  This is why Bush wasn’t really lying when he said he wanted to promote “freedom” in the Middle East; by freedom he didn’t mean freedom from the bonds and shackles of their royal overlords – such as those who rule over our ally Saudi Arabia – rather the freedom of corporations to do business however they see fit, free from laws and regulations, unaccountable to the people.   Of course, they had many of us believing the former, stressing the latter very little, if at all.  That’s because if the people were really told about our true intentions in Iraq, nobody would go for it.  And that’s because I believe that at the end of the day we really are an altruistic people; we were told we went in to “free” the people of Iraq (OK, so it was after we were told that we went in to eliminate nuclear weapons and that Saddam and Bin Laden were butt-buddies).   That’s why Republicans need religion; I believe that if people were told the truth about who profits from free market capitalism and who gets the shit end of the shit stick, none of their ideas would ever fly with the American people.   Why else do you think they have to lie to you?  You know something is wrong when millions of corporate dollars are funneled into free market think tanks to promote an economic system that goes against both your own economic interests and your very human sense of altruism.  And, somehow, it’s working.  A large, overwhelming chunk of Republicans are people of faith, and yet they believe in an economic philosophy that finds itself at odds with the altruistic principles of their faith.   Christianity is utterly incompatible with a capitalist worldview…but Republicans somehow make it work.  Some do so by shortchanging the Christianity.  Once again, it’s telling that when it comes down to your social values vs. your economic values, some go with the money.  Mike Huckabee, on the other hand, seems like a good man; if I ever meet him I’m going to ask him how he reconciles these two opposing ideas.  With apologies to Huckabee, I believe many Republicans posing as Christians would do better to ditch their religion and embrace their greed; at least then they wouldn’t be hypocrites.  Their adherence to moral religious principles tends to be little more than a veil.  Real libertarians adhere to principles of social freedom, which if followed means having no sexual hang ups or hatred for homosexuals; in this country, Republicans constantly demonize gays only to be themselves discovered hiding in the closet…along with many other skeletons.

According to Ayn Rand, the core of her libertarian principles is called “ethical egoism”.  I prefer to call it “egotism” myself.  To put it bluntly, it’s about selfishness and greed, living for self and nobody else.  An economist by the name of Milton Friedman would go on to elevate this human trait into something wonderful – kinda like how an Aztec priest by the name of Tlacaelel elevated the bloodthirsty practice of human sacrifice into something good, even necessary, for the survival of the world.  Greed all of a sudden became something good, an engine for running a fair and just system.  The irony of the libertarians is that for people who prize reason, they cling to the irrational belief in an invisible hand that guides the economic world, and that if people just let it be that everything would fall harmoniously into place and everybody would be rich and prosperous and well fed and free.  Except that’s not what happens under a free market economy.  If you want to see what an economy free from restrictions looks like, look at Iraq.

In this country, neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party represent pure libertarianism, but when asked to choose between the party that (supposedly) promotes social justice (Democrats) and those that promote laizzez faire capitalism (Republicans), money seems to be the deciding factor – most libertarians go with the guy promising less taxes instead of the guy promising gay rights, legalization of marijuana…except that Democrats don’t do that, either.   And here I always though that “Blue Dog” Democrats were more in line with libertarian principles than Republicans.

Which finally brings me to the “conservative church”, the third type of conservative.  I respect libertarians because they are open to reason; I respect real Republicans because they are altruistic people.  I can find common ground with either of them.  If I can make a good case for promoting a more fair economy, I might be able to debate a libertarian.  If I can appeal to a Republican’s religious sense of kindness and charity, I can see eye to eye with them.  What I can’t do is talk to anybody who is a member of the conservative church.  These people are the fundamentalist of their “religion” – and believe me, it really is a religion.  They combine the most exaggerated and worst aspects of both of the aforementioned philosophies – the greed and self-centered philosophy of the libertarians, and the rabid religious fervor of the worst Republican Christians; in fact, they ARE the worst Republicans.   Gone is the reason of a libertarian like James Randi; gone, the compassion of a Christian like Mike Huckabee.  In their place, the ignorant, jingoistic, racist, and most vile members of the human species.   I call it a church, because they are dogmatic in their beliefs, closed to all appeals to reason and logic; you can not win a debate with a fundamentalist in this church.  The following are just a sample of their latest beliefs:  Obama was actually born in Kenya; Obama is a socialist; health care reform is about building death panels for you grandma.  Their greatest hits: Obama is a Muslim; Obama is the Anti-Christ; John Kerry was a coward, gays will burn in Hell; Mexicans should go back where they came from; Saddam has WMDs; Saddam planned 9/11; evolution is “just a theory”.  Their clergy are the fat, loud, obnoxious hypocrites on Fox News and just about all of talk radio; their pope is Rush Limbaugh.  Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingram are the unholy trinity, each a grotesque inversion of the holy Virgin Mary (though it should be noted that I don’t consider any of them their equivalent of the Virgin Mary; that role belongs to Ronald Reagan).  Their clergy preach from on high to an audience of stupid, unquestioning hillbillies who go on to do stupid shit like disrupting town hall meetings, hanging congressmen in effigy, or shooting abortion doctors.

In recent days, members of the Conservative Church have become increasingly visible.  It’s no surprise; haven’t you heard that we recently elected the Anti-Christ?  For months people had been talking about the death of the Republican party.  What they should have been talking about was the renaissance of stupid.  The Conservative Church never died; it got angrier and mobilized, fueled by corporate dollars and by think tanks that they don’t even know exist.  They don’t know about the Cato Institute and that they’re funded by the richest corporations to promote an economic system that rips them off; all they know are the ads and the literature they put out (Not that they read the literature themselves; Fox News does all their reading for them).   They don’t know that beneficiaries of the largest health and pharmaceutical companies are funding Recess Rally; all they know is that Obama is a socialist who wants to kill your grandmother.  In short, Bill Maher is absolutely right.

I’ve just dedicated a massive amount of text to conservatives, now a word to the rest of you.  To those of you who believe in social and economic justice – make no apologies for it.  You have the moral high ground against the vicious fundamentalists of the Conservative Church.  You also have the facts on your side, so that no amount of Faux News propaganda can sway your judgment.  You are the reasoned intellectuals of the Enlightenment and the compassionate followers of God.  You are progressives.


The Signs

One of the saddest days in my life started with the Land Before Time.

This movie hold a certain power over me that I’ve never been able to explain, in that I can’t explain how as a 25 year old guy it still makes me cry.   I first watched it when I was a kid; since it was about dinosaurs it was pretty much mandatory for me.   It starts off all warm and fuzzy and fun.  A kid’s movie.  Before the half hour mark, however, Littlefoot the little “long-neck” on whom the story is centered, tragically loses his mother in a battle against T-Rexes and earthquakes and poor, hungry Littlefoot is forced to embark on a long perilous journey in search of the heavenly Great Valley.   It makes me tear up because even as a kid I understood what that movie was telling me about my own mortality – more specifically, my mother’s mortality.  It’s the day I dread even more than my own death and that movie always reminds me that it could happen to my own frail mother at any day, any time, every time I watch it.  What really gets me is the music by James Horner and that damned Diana Ross song at the end.  That music and that movie always makes me feel…alone.   This Sunday morning I watched it again; I shed the first of many tears that day, and for almost the same exact reason.   Just 8 hours later, my grandmother would pass away.

The night before the hospital visit, I was told to pray for my grandmother.  As an agnostic, I refused to give in to the power of self suggestion during a time of vulnerability.  I should say “weak agnostic”, because although I didn’t pray to God, I was definitely in my bed talking to someone and hoping that someone was listening.  I asked for a miracle to prove that He was real.  I reasoned with Him;  what better way to prove to me that he is real than by making my grandmother well?  That would make me believe.  Not that I haven’t had my share of strange experiences; said experiences made me an agnostic instead of an atheist.

The first happened in Mexico as a kid and I was playing with one of the neighborhood stray pups – Mexico’s streets are overrun with strays.  I was so stupid I played with one of the dogs – this tiny, newborn pup – like a bean bag.  Literally.  I tossed it in the air to catch it a few times until I eventually fumbled and let it fall.  When one of my cousins picked him up, its body was limp, eyes were rolled back and its tongue was sticking out.  It let out a long, pitiful, continuous noise, the kind a kid makes when he’s been stabbed with an imaginary sword.  Horrified at the idea that this dog was going to die because of me, I went into a quiet corner in the house and prayed.  And I mean PRAYED.  I damn near poured my guts out.  I begged God to save this dog.   I even went as far as telling God to save it even if it meant taking years off my life.  I felt that awful that I was literally telling God to trade my life for the dog’s.   When I was done wiping away my eyes I mustered the courage to see the dog.  The last thing I expected to see was a healthy, scrappy, tiny little bean bag of a puppy running around as if he hadn’t just been dropped on his head.  But that’s what I saw.  I guess of course that means that I’m gonna go out in a freak skydiving accident at the age of 60.

The second sign was and encounter with a car full of thugs that would have ended in my own death.  I had just finished watching a pay per view at my boy Ray’s house and I was heading home with my other homie Kin.  Back in the day he was in the habit of wearing blue bandanas around.  I learned a while back to avoid anything red or blue; now my favorite color is black.  We waited for the bus to arrive in a bad part of town, at a bad time to be at said part of town, but it was pretty much the same routine every week.  This time, however, a group of thugs driving by on the other side of the street rolled down their windows and yelled out, “where you from”?  Kin thought it was best to agitate the scary men in the car by being a smart ass and yelling out “SAN FRANCISCO!”.  Wanting to investigate further, they made a u-turn to park right in front of us and just as soon as they did, I see the car of Ray’s mom come from OUT OF NOWHERE and she swerves right in, landing right in the spot the first car would have had she not flown in like the fucking cavalry, just in the nick of time.  We hopped in and bailed.  Ray’s mom had never offered us a ride home.  Not before then.  Not afterwards.  Just that one time.  Just in time.

The third, which happened first in the actual sequence of things but I felt worked best for last; it’s easily the least believable one and it doesn’t even involve me directly.  My mom sometimes tells a story of how she once heard singing coming from her room in the sweetest, most angelic voice she’d ever heard in her life.  When she went into the room she discovered my little sister looking out the window of our third story house, talking to herself.   My sister said she was talking to a voice – though she didn’t identify that voice as an angel.  Instead when asked to draw who she saw, she only drew a glowing orb.  Apparently, the voice had told her to take good care of me.  My sister doesn’t like it when the story is brought up, but I bet you a cent it’s the primary motivation behind her decision to go into health care.  Maybe she gets to be the one who prescribes me the happy pills.

Oh, and there’s this other totally weird moment when my dad cut a nasty gash in his finger making floral arrangements for a church, cupped some holy water to wash his finger, and later on could not find even the slightest hint of a cut – or even a scratch – anywhere on his hands.  That one really kinda did it for me.

Flash forward back to the UCSF hospital, where I wait in a room with possibly the largest assembly of Mexicans ever gathered during that hospital’s entire history (my grandmother had thirteen kids; I don’t even want one!).  The doctors come in to deliver the bad news and we realize right then and there that soon we’d lose a loved one.  My dad, a man I’d never seen cry, had tears in his eyes.  The sight of that alone made me lose my own composure.  But that’s all he had; tears.  My grandfather was the same way, just tears.  My grandfather, in fact, pretty much made the decision before everyone else that we should cut life support for my grandma and end her suffering.  That’s all he wanted.  When she died, both he and my dad were calm as I’d ever seen them, and that was saying something.  They were comforted in the knowledge that my grandmother was no longer suffering.  Much more comforting, however, was the belief that she was with God now.

When I was hit with a shock as sudden as this, I found that my rational mind began working overtime to suppress my emotions.  I questioned how they could be so…calm…about the idea of cutting her off from life support without exhausting every option and if it had anything to do with religion.  I wondered if they didn’t believe in God, would they be saying this?  In retrospect, it’s not a rational thing to believe at all.  My rational mind may have been pulling overtime, but it was slacking off on the job.  Maybe there really were no answers to all the pain.  At least, not any that I was willing to discuss with anybody.  The logical answer was put forth by a particular dickwad of a doctor who spoke to us in a tone best suited for a dog who just shitted on his carpet.  The logic was, there was nothing they could do to save my grandmother from the damage caused by her heart attack.   In addition to her heart she suffered from some sort of unknown stomach ailment that they think  was microbial (but they’re not sure).  This is adding more strain on her already weakened heart and the only reasonable choice was to pull the plug.  Actually, it was quite logical.  Stopping the life support was the right thing to do.  But it was also the moral thing to do.

Ever since I could remember, my mother had never gotten along with my aunts.  Let me rephrase that – she despised them.  The beef stemmed from some incident between one of my aunts and my mom that pit a few of my uncles against her, for reasons I don’t quite understand.  It was bad enough that I wouldn’t be allowed to see them; I met many cousins this day for the first time.  Another aunt had run afoul of my mom more recently, which only added to the beef between the families.  Much of this was the reason for which I rarely saw my grandmother.  I loved my grandmother, but I was almost as saddened by the fact that I’d been kept away from her all these years because of my mom’s issues with my dad’s family as I was about her death.  There was guilt, too.  I could have seen here more often myself. Today, however, I saw my mom and my aunts hug and cry in solidarity; today they had made peace with each other, after damn near 25 years of mutual distrust and disrespect.  This couldn’t be the miracle.  It just couldn’t be.  I held out for something better.  I needed a definite sign that everything I’d just seen was God’s work.  I needed to see that dad was right and that my grandmother was in a better place.  I was determined to get my sign from God.  I didn’t expect the signs to come so soon.

She didn’t die right away; it took hours, more than enough time for everybody in my enormous family to get their chance to see her and say good bye.  Most of the time she drifted in and out of consciousness as she was administered painkillers for her stomach problems and weaned off the life support systems.  I held out a sliver of hope that my miracle would happen.  I watched the monitor next to her bed for heart signals, checking the numbers every now and then.  Every time the damned thing made a beep, I looked at it again.  Noticing the noise, the nurse came in to silence the intermittent beeping, which just made me more determined to look at the monitor.   She must have noticed because right after fiddling with the monitor some more she whispered to me something that stuck with me the rest of the night.  She said something along the lines of, “don’t look at the numbers.  Focus on her.”  If you’ve ever seen the end of the film “Pi”, you’ll be able to figure out the level at which that line changed my perspective.  My whole life up to that point has been the numbers, logic, the science, this quest for knowledge for its own sake and my insistence of reducing things as complex as humanity and even the soul itself to a quantum – instead of seeing the humanity in people and enjoying that instead.  It was about experiencing moments with people, moments that are unquantifiable by nature. “Don’t look at the numbers” made me see the folly in reducing humanity to numbers on a computer screen.  Mind you, those numbers keep other people alive.  They’re important, but they’re not the point.  Don’t focus on the numbers.  Focus on the people.

So I did.  I cried with my uncles and for them.  I felt their pain.  I felt most of all for my dad.  During her final moments, my grandmother looked up at us and around us, struggling to open her eyes, and shed thin tears.  She knew her children were all there, and that she was loved.

The night before, one of my aunts said she had heard my grandmother taking to children.  This may be meaningless to most people, except that right before my other grandmother passed away 6 years ago, she was also seen talking to children who weren’t there; she’d identified them as her grandparents.  Both of them had the same visions; both could be attributed to hallucinations of a brain on sedatives and gasping for air.   Sure, they saw the same thing…but that had to have been coincidence.

My mom recalls that during the funeral of a close friend, a moth flew into her lap.  My sister recalls asking for a sign that my other grandmother was in heaven; yep, a moth.  And surely enough, just as we entered the hospital lobby elevator to the parking garage I saw this enormous moth fluttering about a fluorescent light, right above me.  On the way home I asked my family, “why a moth”?  That was the only part of it that didn’t make sense.   And you know what else?  It just occurred to me right now; they’re “going towards the light”.

When I saw that moth, I smiled.  I laughed to myself.  I always figured God had a sense of irony.

Miracles happen; however they are usually small by our standards and many go unnoticed by us simply because we don’t acknowledge that they are extraordinary.  Many miracles can be explained scientifically.  Any miracle, really, can be scientifically written off, provided we know enough about God and the physics of existence to come to the logical conclusion.  But I believe – emphasis on “believe” – that the fact that we are beings capable of philosophy a miracle in and of itself.  Does out intelligence have a scientific basis?  Of course it does.  We evolved.  Our brains are an organ that gave us an advantage over other animals and we just developed this  brain over a thousand generations until one day it became powerful enough to become aware of itself in relation to the universe.  It developed the ability to see the universe not literally, but abstractly.  It enabled us the ability to know, as well as to believe.

My grandmother’s death was a bittersweet reprieve from physical suffering.  We pray to God to keep our loved ones alive, even though they may want nothing more than to die with dignity.  What about what she would have wanted?  I’d like to think she’s better off now that she is free from pain, rather than shackled to it.  Furthermore, I believe that instead of the miracle I was asking for, the course of events leading up to and after hear death revealed the hand of God more than a miraculous recovery ever would.  Had she lived, had God granted me my wish, would I have believed it to be His doing?  Or, would I have attributed her recovery to the hard working doctors of UCSF?  It was the unexpected signs that let me know He was there.  The signs that followed so soon after her death have no explanation other than coincidence.   But “coincidence” is the numbers talking; what does the human element feel?  I believe that when you can see that human element, you will see miracles.  Or, to borrow a quote:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” – Matthew 5:8

It is only now that it all starts to make perfect sense somehow.

In memory of Zenaida Rodriguez AND Mama Reme…mis abuelitas.


Rebrand your Sins Away

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/31/weekinreview/31marsh.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all hire a personal image consultant?  What if we could all have our own personal logo designer, and the entire world could identify each and every one of us by looking at our logos?   In a world where logos become our face the need for getting to know people better doesn’t disappear; in fact, it becomes more vital than ever.  It’s happening again, corporations using their deep pockets to rebrand themselves in order to boost a shattered image – as opposed to fixing what it was that made you unpopular in the first place.

Take Walmart.  Please.

Notice how BIG AND BLOCKY the old logo looks.  It’s a dark, unfriendly shade of blue.

This is their new logo.   See?  The lighter shade of blue means they really are friendly folk, so totally not like a group of greedy corporate bastards who exploit sweat shop labor and treat their workers like mindless drones.  These are happy people.  Happy!  Happy, like that yellow sunburst over to the right.  Not poor, sad, and depressed.  Happy.  Not a bad logo, actually.  I wonder if the designer was paid a decent wage for it.

Then there’s Blackwater, the brutal mercenary-for-hire firm replacing a large chunk of the US’s security.  You know, a job usually reserved for soldiers, the secret service, etc.  Well, they now operate as “Xe”.  The fuck does that mean?  Who knows.  What really matters is that it isn’t spelled and pronounced like BLACKWATER. “Xe” certainly sounds and looks less ominous than BLACKWATER. Just look at the bold font used, the imagery of a bear paw in the sights of a sniper, which would seem to spell certain death to bears.  Oh shit, BLACKWATER is run by Stephen Colbert!

Apparently that name BLACKWATER is so tainted by associations with its many scandals in Iraq that they felt a monosyllabic name like “Xe” would sound friendlier.  Or maybe, it would be so short, so barely there, that the public at large would forget they exist.  They hope that by making “BLACKWATER” disappear, “Xe” can continue to operate, funded by our own government tax dollars, with relative impunity. Kinda like what Phillip Morris did years ago when it was renamed Altria because Phillip Morris is now so synonymous with tobacco and cigarettes that it became bad for their public image.  What it comes down to is that Phillip Morris and BLACKWATER decided that the best course of action as corporate citizens was to simply show the world a new face.  Rather than straighten up, right their wrongs, see the error of their ways, they decided to go with a facelift and hope nobody would notice they’re still ugly on the inside.

Ditto for the Republican Party attempt to rebrand themselves recently.  Rebranding, as opposed to taking a long look in the mirror and reflecting.  Maybe even, dare I say, giving a shit about the people they’re supposed to represent?

This just says it all.

Enough plastic surgery.  Let’s get real.


Wall Street Journal: “Fuck Main Street”.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124744094880829815.html

That’s the prevailing attitude of America’s pre-eminent capitalist rag.  Noam Chomsky once cited the Wall Street Journal, along with the Economist, as his newspaper of choice because in the interest of delivering to Wall Street the accurate information it needs to make wise investments, the WSJ absolutely HAS TO tell the truth about what’s going on in the world.  I always questioned that assumption.  After Rupert Murdoch’s take-over of WSJ, I trust that Chomsky has been seeking his news elsewhere.  The WSJ is little more than the paper edition of Faux News, at least as far as its editorial staff is concerned.

Take today’s disgusting editorial from Mary Anastasia O’Grady that starts off thusly: “In a perfect world former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya would be in jail in his own country right now, awaiting trial.”  I kept reading because I wanted to see what she’d pull out of her ass to support that statement.  She then goes on to state that his removal from office was not only morally justified – forget morally justified – but legal.  So here it is, folks: military coups = legal.  Let me hear this lady say something like, “we were right to back the coup in Chile and install Augusto Pinochet”.  Like Michelle Malkin arguing the case for detaining Japanese Americans during World War II, O’Grady is looking to defend the indefensible.  And like Malkin, she does it by being dishonest with her readers.

She accuses Zelaya of a power grab.  Since when is a “non-binding poll of public opinion” a power grab?   He wanted another term to carry out his presidency, which would bring his years in power to a grand total of 8 – the exact same number of years we allow US Presidents not named Roosevelt.  He wanted the people to vote on a referendum that would, in theory, give him at least the popular vote to change the constitution so that it would allow him to run for one more term.  She goes on to say that Zelaya threatened violence against his opponents, linking him to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.  Except that Hugo Chavez is actually liked by over half his country; Zelaya isn’t very popular.  The poor seem to like him though.  Funny how the Wall Street Journal and leaders advocating economic justice for the poor so rarely seem to get along.  Anyway, here’s her smoking gun:

“A week later some 100 agitators, wielding machetes, descended on the attorney general’s office. “We have come to defend this country’s second founding,” the group’s leader reportedly said. “If we are denied it, we will resort to national insurrection.”

“These experiences frightened Hondurans because they strongly suggested that Mr. Zelaya, who had already aligned himself with Mr. Chávez, was now emulating the Venezuelan’s power-grab. Other Chávez protégés — in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua — have done the same, refusing to accept checks on their power, making use of mobs and seeking to undermine institutions.”

Hey O’Grady, those “mobs” you kept referring to?  That’s the will of the people.  You can’t argue against that.   Oh, your newspaper and many others have tried.  You and your ilk were the types to portray Hugo Chavez as a Saddam Hussein-type dictator who stole the election, despite the fact that he was democratically elected.  I can only imagine the party you threw when right-wing insurgents tried to pull a Salvador Allende on him – and failed, only by the grace of God and because of the intervention of certain “mobs”.

And finally, the Honduran National Congress unanimously voted to accept what they said was Zelaya’s letter of resignation, but Zelaya said he did not write the letter.  In other words, they forcibly had him removed, then lied to the people about his resignation.   So who’s power-grabbing?  You lose the moral high ground when you have to lie to the people to make your plans work.  That’s because telling the truth means revealing your intentions for the public.  If they lied about Zelaya’s resignation, then by that act alone they have already subverted the will of the people.  You won’t see O’Grady or the WSJ talk about that, however, because they don’t mind when capitalists do it.

If the US government had any involvement with that coup, I don’t even think President Obama would know, given the fact that our CIA doesn’t seem to answer to the US government anymore.  In fact, I haven’t heard anything about restoring many of the privatized sectors of the military and homeland security that were given away under Bush; perhaps they’re being funded by the Wall Street Journal.  Or maybe, just Wall Street.

UPDATE: After posting my response at the Wall Street Journal page I received a lot of criticism from the locals.   You can follow our interaction on the comments page.  I also learned about a few interesting details regarding the scandal.  This is Article 239 from the Honduran constitution:

ARTICULO 239.- El ciudadano que haya desempeñado la titularidad del Poder Ejecutivo no podrá ser Presidente o Designado. El que quebrante esta disposición o proponga su reforma, así como aquellos que lo apoyen directa o indirectamente, cesarán de inmediato en el desempeño de sus respectivos cargos, y quedarán inhabilitados por diez años para el ejercicio de toda función pública.

In a nutshell, apparently it means that just the act of proposing the issue of term increases by an acting president is literally against the constitution.  It would seem to prove O’Grady right.  That is until you read a bit more into their constitution and discover they also have a funny thing we used to have here; Bush’s predecessors called it “due process”.   The following comes from the blog halfsigma.com and was written by “lancemh”:

I am amazed at the fundamental ignorance of this issue that is taking place out in the blogoshpere and in the media. I have seen dozens of references to this section of the Honduran Constitution – but not ONE reference to HOW the impeachment process occurs.

THE POINT(s):

First: The Honduran Constitution requires that if a high-ranking member of the Executive Branch has violated the law or exercised authority outside the dictates of the Constitution (which is treason), the Congress shall then file a petition for impeachment in the Supreme Court and the individual is to be tried with all rights of due process attaching. It seems apparent under those circumstances that they could arrest him (LAW ENFORCEMENT – NOT THE MILITARY) and hold him in jail pending trial.

LET US BE CLEAR ON THIS FIRST POINT – the allegation of Zelaya’s unconstitutional acts do seem to violate the constitutional prohibition against a President attempting to amend the constitution in respect to term limits – if so, he had committed treason. HOWEVER, the Honduran Supreme Court nor Congress has the power to order the military or anyone to “remove him” until such trial has taken place. Procedurally speaking, the President’s powers would be suspended after his arrest, and during his detention while awaiting for trial. And under the constitution, an interim President would be designated until case on the article(s) of impeachment was tried. Assuming he is convicted after having had full due process, his Presidency would terminate, and the acting President would then serve out the remainder of the term, and he would not be allowed to run for another term.

Second – The Obama Administration is backing the world-wide accepted principle that proper democratic procedure MUST be followed to the letter of the law. Otherwise, the notion of democracy becomes a farce.

Honduras did NOT follow their own constitutional procedure for impeachment and removal – IRRESPECTIVE of whether this guy violated the constitution first. That makes them hipocrites – just like they have labeled him.

Here’s what I think happened: a pro-business majority in the Honduran congress jumped at the opportunity to have Zelaya ousted.  When he slipped, they sicked the dogs on him, kidnapped him, had him extradited to Costa Rica, and then lied to the people by telling them he’d offered a letter of resignation.   Yeah…real legit.  To her credit, O’Grady did say that “in a perfect world”, Zelaya would be “sitting in jail, awaiting trial”.   Is she perhaps in favor of prosecuting the conspirators involved in the coup?  How about the members of Congress who lied about his resignation?  If O’ Grady insists that Zelaya committed a crime against their constitution, she should then have no problem being in favor of granting him due process either.  That is, if her motivations are not as corporate as the paper she works for…


U.S. State Senator: Earth Is 6,000 Years Old

I knew just by reading the headline that this was about a Republican.  OK, and the Keith Olbermann “Worst Persons in the World” headline tipped me off, too.

Seriously, at this point when you say some shit like this, the little (R) next to your name should be redundant.  Is it safe to say at this point that Republicans own the monopoly on powerful stupid?  Sylvia Allen is not even close to being in the minority within her own party; these are the intelligent design,  “gay is a sin”,  “global warming is a hoax” crew – and don’t even get me started on the people who vote for them.   My apologies to intelligent Southerners out there, but you’re surrounded by morons and they’re ruining our country.  Also, can we stop pretending that they’re the party of family values when the list of their sex scandals dwarf those of the Democrats?  If you think I’m painting conservatives with broad, unfair generalizations, well, they’ve got the monopoly on that, too.  Ever heard of the phrase “liberal elitists”?  As if all liberals were elitists.   Elite in what sense?  Financial?  Educational?  Olympic?

I swear, these rants are good for my brain.  This rant brought to you by Xyience Energy Drinks.*

*not literally.

Remembering Steve Rogers

Cap was always one of the more noble characters in the Marvel Universe. He was the All-American patriot: apple pie, baseball, liberty, Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving Dinner, World War II, and most importantly, the true meaning of freedom. Of all those things, only the last one remains relevant. Steve Rogers personified that idea as Captain America: the Sentinel of Liberty.

Steve Rogers fought the NAZIs in World War II; he fought for America. Then, he was frozen in a sheet of ice and woken up some 60 years later to a culture shock that would severely put into perspective all that he has believed about this country and about himself. Without the luxury of at least a decade’s time in which to absorb the march of progressive change, Steve Rogers had a lot of soul searching ahead of him. What would a man born some time in the 1920’s have thought about gay marriage? African-American suffrage? Abortion? The War in Iraq? The war in Vietnam? MTV? A culture of consumption and commercial excess devoid of intellect and critical thought? After all that had changed, did he believe our America was still worth donning a pair of blue tights over?

Fuck yeah.

Above all else, Steve Rogers was an idealist. For years during World War II he had fought for freedom, but for whom? America? His idea of America was limited to the straight, white, Protestant faces living in Pleasantville with the white picket fence and the shiny new Ford parked right outside. Eventually, however, his motivation would transcend geography and his previously narrow-minded vision of an America that never existed; borders change – people change. But ideas remain the same. His own idealism about freedom would make him come to realize that the notion of “fighting for one’s country” is second only to the noble principles this country is supposed to stand for. His notion of America would come to be inclusive of blacks, migrant workers, homosexuals, Muslims, Atheists, hippies, and single unwed mothers and yet he didn’t even see us in terms of the divisive labels we’ve come to place upon ourselves because his idealism would also open his eyes to our common humanity. Sharing a common humanity he was stripped of all prejudice; only a fierce passion for human rights remained. All that remained was his belief that ALL people are endowed with certain inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Life – He did his superhero thing, stomping ass all over the Red Skull’s henchmen, slapping the shit out of Baron Zemo, kicking Doctor Doom in the nuts.

Liberty – Perhaps no other chapter in his life more clearly defined what Captain America stood for than when he had to stand up to other heroes, former allies turned bitter enemies, to defend liberty. No other chapter demonstrated his principles than when the United States government forced him to stand trial for defending the very ideals America was supposed to stand for. Others may have sacrificed liberty in exchange for the illusion of security, but not Cap. I’d also like to think that he resented the way the word “freedom” was thrown around by neo-cons who only used that word in the economic sense, as if free trade was the same thing as liberty. Steve Rogers was a noble hero; he wouldn’t have bought the idea of selling out our country to corporate interests to line their pockets. He was Ralph Nader-ly that way – uncompromising in his ideals to the point of seeming archaic and irrelevant. But he never lost his conviction. His dedication to the promise of freedom cost him his very life.

The Pursuit of Happiness: In trying to come to grips with the way his country has changed and the way it is being run to the ground, he tried to find personal happiness by learning, slowly, to separate his job from his life – a task that was far easier said than done for somebody so zealous about his country.

What is a world without Captain America like? Only hard core comic book geeks will be pondering that question. Everyone else need only look around. WE don’t have a Captain America. We have prejudice, poverty, cynicism, apathy, despair, intellectual bankruptcy, ignorance, and fear. Sure it’d be nice to have a Captain America around to solve our problems but the truth is we have to be our own Cap. Can we learn to overcome prejudice and embrace new idea, new cultures, a new world – even fight for it? Can we recognize injustice and speak out against it – even if we’re the ones responsible? Can we transcend mere nationalism and embrace the greater idea of liberty for all? Captain America may have been just a fictional comic book character. He may have started out as propaganda, but by the end of his “life” he became a more complex character, making readers re-evaluate what freedom truly means. He personified the virtues of humanism (life, liberty, etc.) and the conviction to stand up for it. Aren’t those ideas just as real?


I WISH this were a joke.

mj-splash-bg

“I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was six-years-old… As Charles Dickens says, ‘It’s been the best of times, the worst of times.’ But I would not change my career… While some have made deliberate attempts to hurt me, I take it in stride because I have a loving family, a strong faith and wonderful friends and fans who have, and continue, to support me”.

Michael Jackson

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-michael-jackson-dead26-2009jun26,0,2152435.story

Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead today after paramedics found him in a coma at his Bel-Air mansion, city and law enforcement sources told The Times.

Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Steve Ruda told The Times that paramedics responded to a 911 call from the home. When they arrived, Jackson was not breathing. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda said

Hundreds of reporters gathered at the hospital awaiting word on his condition. The sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, said family members rushed to Jackson’s bedside, where he was in a deep coma…

…Jackson has three children — sons Prince Michael 7, and Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., 12, and daughter Paris Michael Katherine, 11.

The news comes as Jackson, 50, was attempting a comeback after years of tabloid headlines, most notably his trial and acquittal on child molestation charges.

The death of the King of Pop is yet another reminder of just how fleeting life really is. He was in his 20s when I was born; Michael Jackson had been one of many constants in my life.  By that I mean he’d always been a fixture in my world, one that has just “always been there”, like the moon.  As time passes by, these constants are beginning to disappear, one by one; I know that the most painful departures in my life are yet to come.

The news of his death itself was conflicting. Jesus. So many conflicting emotions about a man I don’t know. On one hand, he was the greatest entertainer this world had ever seen. On the other hand, he was probably a child molester. The man was weird, eccentric, Peter-Panish. But he was the fucking King of Pop. I was just talking about him last night, too. My uncle and I agreed – nobody could touch his skills as a dancer. The man was untouchable. He was the Moonwalker.

He was the Thriller.

He was denied his childhood, then spent most of his adult life trying to make up for it. Let’s face it – EVERYBODY talked about him, myself included.  He had his issues and only God knows the truth.  Now all that’s left to say is that his is a fascinating, complex, and tragic story. If there’s a better place after death, then he’s finally found some hard earned rest.  Long live King Michael.


Trailer for ‘Blockhead’ is finally up!

Donnie Faught as "John" from the upcoming film, "Blockhead"

Donnie Faught as "John" from the upcoming film, Blockhead.

This film represents my first storyboarding gig, marking another branch in my illustration career.  I have a tendency to run my mouth off so I’ll keep the details to a minimum – it’s a short independent horror film shot in Los Angeles.   From what I’ve seen it’s creepy as hell (you have to check out the trailer below) and my involvement in it only makes it that much more awesome.  And creepier. If you don’t check out the trailer you’re not a man.  And if you don’t happen to be a man at the moment, you’ll grow a beard.

Props to my boy Aaron Proctor who did a phenomenal job shooting it, and to director John Conway.  The guys are going places, y’all, and you read it here first.

Check out the trailer to the upcoming film “Blockhead” here:

http://fwdlabs.com/film/blockhead/watch/


The Shock Doctrine

This is one of the most important books I’ve ever read, I bought it yesterday on a whim and I literally could not put it down.  If I had it my way, it would be required reading for every social studies classroom in America.  The following video is just a trailer, a taste of what the book is about.

This book confronts the sainthood of Milton Friedman, an ideologue on the opposite side of the spectrum from Karl Marx.  Actually, to say that he is on opposite sides of Marx is incorrect; Marx was a relatively low-key and obsure figure in his time who only observed history from a certain point of view and he never played an active role promoting Communism on the world stage the way Friedman did.  Marx only predicted the conditions needed to create a Communist world – Friedman himself hustled his religion to the masses, with disastrous results.   The myth of Milton Friedman is widespread and taken as fact by die-hard corporatists and apologists for capitalism.  This book destroys that myth.  Milton Friedman is to capitalism what Osama bin Laden is to Islam; yet again even that comparison may be off.  Friedman continues to be far more influential, his followers far more entrenched within the halls of power – and his ideas far more destructive – even 3 years after his death.   If you’ve ever wondered WHY Chile fell to Auguste Pinochet, or why we REALLY went to war in Iraq, this book ought to clear a few things up.

Check it out at your local library, or find it at a local bookstore or Amazon.

http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine


Minority Report 2: Escape from Guantanamo Bay…or not.

I love Rachel Maddow.  What a razor sharp wit.  I love smart, witty women.  Every time I watch her it’s as if she’s reaching into my brain and watering my neurons so that they may grow.  I feel smarter just watching her show after half an hour.   There’s something attractive about that.  I would totally wife that up.  That’s right.  Next to Alicia Keys, Marisa Tomei, Monica Bellucci, Jaime Lynn Sigler, Salma Hayek, Roselyn Sanchez, Tatiana Ramos, the chick from the ‘Creu’ video…

ANYWAY…check out this clip.  I find myself posting more videos than blogging, but somehow MSNBC seems to always beat me to the punch.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, but that won’t stop me from trying.   First of all, what blatant hypocrisy from the Obama administration. I refuse to believe that Obama doesn’t see the obvious contrast between his words on protecting the rule of law vs. his talk of “prolonged detention”.   And because I refuse to believe that, I also believe that he knowingly betrays the principles of the Constitution by his words.  I expected this from Bush.  Everybody expected it from Bush.

There’s one reason we’re holding these prisoners without a trial for the rest of their lives, and that reason is the fear that they might come back to harm us.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the conversation within the Oval Office sounded like.  It was Obama, his bad boy Rahm Emanuel, the CIA, the FBI, and good ol’ Joe Biden, God bless him.  The CIA and the FBI just KNOW all sorts of crazy shit about the Guantanamo detainees.  They just KNOW.  Obama has been briefed, he is privy to knowledge that the rest of us don’t have, and maybe he knows for a fact that if he releases them, they will come back to get us.  Only problem is, we tortured them.  And just like that, these guys walk.  On a technicality.   Their cases would get thrown out as a result of the Bush administration’s crimes (and they WERE crimes, Obama…).  But seeing as we just KNOW that these guys are going to get us if we let them go…we can’t let them go.

What kills me is that Obama talks about principles while abandoning them in the exact same speech.  The way I see it, this is the kind of dilemma that tests America’s principles.  It tests our very Constitution.    In fact, this isn’t’ even a test, this is the real fucking thing.  NOW is when we’re supposed to be getting it right!   What is the point of sending troops to die?  Our leaders always like talking about how our military fights for freedom and democracy.  If we won’t even honor the fallen by maintaining the ideals that our leaders say they were sent to die for, then why have a Constitution in the first place?  Just tear that shit up.

I’ve always suspected Obama of being a principled man.  But practicality, compromise – these things have always been his strong points, not principle.   He, like other centrists such as Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Lieberman, seem to like to play it politically safe.  I just always thought that unlike those other Politicians I just mentioned, he actually believed in the Third Way, the “coming together” solution.  He didn’t strike me as a slimy, triangulating, wishy-washy, middle of the road, corporations first – un-principled – Politician.  He struck me as a real leader, with real principles, who just so happened to believe in practical solutions.  Obama probably knows that his public perception is taking a big hit for this; he had sold himself as a leader who promised change and the situation is such that he is faced with the prospect of having to break yet another promise, to fail the American people yet again.  If he were a principled man, this issue of “prolonged detention” would be killing him.  I hope it is.   If he is not suffering inside at the prospect of betraying his principles and everything this country is supposed to stand for, then he is just another Nancy Pelosi, another Hillary Clinton, another Joe Lieberman, all too comfortable with compromise on issues where there should be NO compromise…all for the sake of “practicality”.

Or maybe that’s just the way I’d think.  I’d like to think that I’d be a principled President.  Every single person in Guantanamo would be released, no questions asked, not simply by virtue of the fact that their having been tortured renders their cases tainted, but by virtue of the fact that BOTH the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were ILLEGAL.  There’s been a lot of talk about the criminality of the Iraq invasion, but nobody talks about how even our invasion of Afghanistan was illegal.  That’s for another day, though.

And that’s why I’d never run for public office…that and my knack for saying and writing things that would make Joe Biden look as tactful as Abraham Lincoln.  God bless Joe Biden.

PS:  Speaking of political incorrectness, Ms. California is taking way too much heat for this shit.  I don’t agree with Carrie Prejean, but what was that douchebag Perez Hilton expecting when he asked her that question?  Was he looking for a ‘yes’ answer to validate his own sexual orientation?  A ‘no’ answer so he could start a shitstorm over it?  Now they’re making fun of her tits?   Hey guys, that’s the kind of argument you resort to when you’re LOSING…


“Absolutely Torture”

“To call this a program of torture is to libel dedicated professionals”

– Dick Cheney

“I don’t want to say this – absolutely torture.”

– Eric “Mancow” Muller, conservative radio talk show host, after being subject to 6 seconds of waterboarding.

THIS IS A BIG DEAL, PEOPLE. WE WERE NOT PLAYING HARMLESS PRANKS ON ILLEGALLY DETAINED PRISONERS. WE WERE TORTURING THEM.

– and Dick Cheney knows better, which just proves that the bastard has no conscience. That he’s recently become the GOP’s posterboy for blatant revisionism further betrays an utter lack of human decency in that man.

AND THAT WAS FOR 6 SECONDS. HOW LONG DO YOU THINK PRISONERS AT GUANTANAMO ENDURED?

There can be no debate on this anymore. Muller had the testicular fortitude to actually go through with it – and he lasted 6 seconds. Perhaps said fortitude came from thinking that “waterboarding” was somehow harmless. Now one of the very same men who once belittled the act of waterboarding has turned around completely. It took a dose of reality and H20 to do it, but there it is.

THEY DON’T CALL IT TORTURE FOR NOTHING, DICK.

Enough with the bullshit. There was never any debate over it, the naysayers just made it seem that way – much like they do with global warming, and evolution. Only problem is that by the time they’ve decided to stop being ignorant pricks we will have already paid the price for their deceit and/or ignorance. There are no two sides to reality.

And in related news, Obama decides to indefinitely detain prisoners without trial.  That’s on top of signing a bullshit Credit-Card Protection Bill that doesn’t even cap interest rates those dipshits are charging you, and continues to fight for universal health care that isn’t really universal – just a cheaper version of something we should be getting from a single-payer system in the first place. For all the change he talked about, he’s sounding remarkably…like a Democrat. The fuck did I expect, right? Fuck it, I’m voting Green and independent from now on – like I should have been doing.

PS: I know Keith Olbermann bats for the left, but truth has a funny way of being biased more towards liberals. When Bill O’Reilly says something that isn’t batshit insane, I’ll post some of his crap.

OK, this was great, too. The man speaks truth, what can I say?