Friday, April 29, 2011

Obama Derangement Syndrome Part One Million...

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am on several veterans mail lists. Yesterday I got from one of these lists a link to some dickhead's YouTube page which offers "proof" that the newly-released "long-form" Obama birth certificate is, of course, a forgery.

First take a look at this image:



And compare it with this image:


Can you guess which of these is from the actual birth certificate and which is from this dickwad's "exposé"?

Go ahead and watch his lame-ass "analysis", and then come back here for my trenchant analysis, the text of which appears below in the form of an email back to this group:
Aw, Jesus Christ, people. This is as bogus as a three-dollar bill. Anyone who knows the first thing about PhotoShop is not going to be taken in by this. This guy is a wingnut moron. Note: If you edit something in PhotoShop, you are going to have those "layers" which will show up -- to this moron they constitute a "smoking gun". Yes, they will show up when you edit it in Photoshop. On the original Photoshop document. They will NOT show up on the image you save from that edited document unless you save it as a PhotoShop file; they won't show up if you save it as a .jpg, .bmp, .gif etc etc etc. All layers are incorporated in the final image, and they won't show up if you open that image again. Already his "proof" is bogus.

But take a look at an original image of that birth certificate [good thing I saved a copy since the original image has now disappeared off of Wikipedia], open it in any image viewer and then zoom in to the level this douchebag shows on his video. Nowhere on that image can you see the kind of "editing" that this guy claims is there. Nowhere. In other words, he did it himself and then is waving the flag of conspiracy, with the sure and certain knowledge that most people who view this travesty are too stupid to do their own research on it.

Come on! If we are to believe that THIS birth certificate is a forgery (for example, the fact that his father's race is listed as "African" rather than "Negro" -- automatically makes it suspect!), then we are to believe that the Obama team, after having TWO FUCKING YEARS to phony up a document, can come up with something so patently a forgery that it couldn't pass the scrutiny of a second grade crayon class??? If you are going to forge a document are YOU going to make this kind of mistake? No, I didn't think so...

They had TWO FUCKING YEARS with the finest document forgers on the planet (i.e., the CIA) at their disposal, and nevertheless they made this many rookie mistakes?

And these are the same people who are trying to tell us that the Hilary Clinton campaign (backed by the most murderous people in history, who killed Vincent Foster and several dozen -- or several hundred -- or several thousand "enemies" of the Clinton Administration) didn't find this OBVIOUS forgery and all that is attendant with it -- Obama raised in a madrassa, belongs to Al Qaeda, is a communist/socialist/fascist/etc -- before the 2008 election?

And that Obama, despite his obvious ties to the enemies of this country, has pretty much continued most of the policies of the Baby Doc Bush Maladministration, including catering to Wall Street fatcats, keeping Guantanamo open, keeping both illegal wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) going, giving a multi-million dollar bonus to the insurance companies in the form of health care so-called "reform", and shamelessly sucking up to the Republicans in congress, Obama has been hellbent on the total destruction of our great nation? Really????

Obama Derangement Syndrome is the name of this particular mental aberration, and those of you who support these kinds of attacks on the president -- including the totally discounted and proved false claim about his appearance on Meet the Press (http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/stance.asp) regarding the national anthem and the flag salute -- are unwitting victims of this disease.

What it is really, at its core, is racism. You won't admit it, and those who feed you this shit mixed with white-doughy goodness to make it more palatable won't admit it, but that's what it is. The sooner that you Obama Derangement Degenerate/Victims recognize and accept this, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery.

Oh, and don't bother attacking me personally for this. I am performing a public service, and I won't respond to you since I have a personal rule that I will never engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

But feel free to rag on me as much as you want on my blog, One Pissed Off Veteran (www.opovet.blogspot.com). I have the same rules there, but it's a public forum and I am pretty lenient on who I let post. I like having rightwingers on there to demonstrate their total inability to grasp the obvious, in other words, their total fuckwittery.
As you can see, I've given them a link to this blog. We'll see if any of them have the balls to come out in a public forum.

But, funny thing, I'm not holding my breath on this one...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

O'Donnell "Pwns" Birther Wackjob Orly Taitz

I'm still on a break, but I had to share this Lawrence O'Donnell clip of him slapping down Obama Derangement Syndrome Poster Girl Orly Taitz on his show last night.

This is what the news media needs to be doing a lot more of.




Is it just me, or does Orly Taitz look like a guy in drag in that still? Maybe we ought to be demanding to see her birth certificate.

I'll be back next week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taking a Break

I'm burnt out with the so-called "spring" weather here. Nothing but chilly rain and cold winds. I'm taking a short break.

Back soon.

--The F Man

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

And in honor of the holiday, here from is my favorite Easter card:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yikes, It's My 66th Birthday!

In the words of the Old Cigar Philsopher (my grandfather), it's a case of "too-soon old, too-late smart.

Sixty-six years ago I was born, in this building:



If it looks like an old train station, that's because it was one. When the city of Longview (WA) was built in 1923, it was undertaken with a number of unsuccessful plans that never came to fruition.

One was that the town would be a railroad hub. But the tracks they originally laid down went only to the train station and stopped, so trains would have to reverse themselves and backtrack for several miles back to hit the main north-south trunk line. Then a river flood washed out the tracks, they were never relaid, and the train station was sold and turned into a hospital.

And there, on the evening of April 21, 1945, I came into the world. It hasn't been the same since...

The old station/hospital itself is longer standing. Sometime in the1980s it was torn town and a new hospital built on the spot.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Separated at Birth?

Seeing is believing. You make the call. Separated at birth?



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Republican Ethnic Humor: "Just a Joke"?

Okay, I am known far and wide among my friends and acquaintances as being a "funny guy". I love jokes, I have a low threshold of what's funny, and I am willing to cut someone a LOT of slack if they tell a joke that is "offensive" to the vast majority of Americans, as long as that joke is funny.

But even I have limits, and one thing that is pretty much off-limits to me is racial humor, especially when it comes to African-Americans. Maybe it's my defensive attempt to overcome my own history: My upbringing in rural and blatantly, matter-of-factly, racist early-50s Oklahoma, the fact that my ancestors were slaveholders before the Civil War, maybe something else. But it's still a fact. Note that I say "pretty much" off-limits, because I can still laugh at racial-humor jokes, if they are told to me by one of my African-American friends. They have the right to do it. I don't, and neither does the whole fucking Republican Party.

Which brings us to today's topic. A California Rethug official from -- where else -- Orange County recently sent an email depicting Barack Obama as some kind of ape, with the caption "Now you know why no birth certificate".

Whoa, hold it, blow the whistle, totally and completely out of bounds.

"Normal" people agree with me on this. It's only the Rethugs, and the official herself, one Marilyn Davenport, who is willing to attempt the lame excuse that it was "just a joke"...

Okay, Marilyn, some things can be "just a joke". Some things can't. This is one of them.

Oh, and do I need to add that Mizz Davenport is also a Teabagger?

No, I didn't think so...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

USB -- The High-Speed Port to HELL!

I had to laugh over this. Over at Defaithed, there's an analysis of the ubiquitous USB port and its odd resemblance to Satan's pitchfork:




Read the whole story for yourself, and see if you don't agree that we're onto something very sinister here...

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

At least for the next five weeks or so, because I have it on reliable authority (i.e., MSNBC) that that is the very day of The Rupture Rapture...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Having it Both Ways

Yeah, I know that's a major "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" headline, which of course I write with a measured amount of trepidation, given the content of my earlier post today, but come on. Donald Trump and Sarah Palin as Neo-Birthers? Really???

The Donald, as he is unaffectionately known, is trying to carve out his own niche in presidential politics by attempting to resurrect the birther controversy about whether Obama was born here, etc etc blah blah blah.

So, in response to The Donald's sojourn into Total Fuckwackery, our favorite Great Huntress of The North, Caribou Barbie, aka Sarah Palin, is now on record as saying that (1) she "appreciates" Trump's questions, and she (2) "thinks" Obama was born in Hawaii because "there was the birth announcement put in the newspaper...[b]ut obviously there is something there that the president doesn't want people to see on that birth certificate, that he sees going to great lengths to make sure it isn't shown. And that's perplexing for a lot of people..."

All hail the final triumph of Fuckwackery over reason. Just because he is Donald Fucking Trump, all of a sudden he's a fucking expert on the topic. Perplexing, is it? Just to the feeble-minded and their cynical manipulators. Like you, Sarah and Donald.

But, to give credit where credit is due, supposedly The Donald has a "crack team" of investigators (by which I assume he does not mean "investigators on crack") on the job, and they undoubtedly will, once and for all, discover "The Truth" behind the secret Obama birth certificate.

But the proof of the pudding, as we all know, is in the eating, and I'm looking forward with baited breath to masticatingly mauling that lumpy, chewy indigestible mass, even as we speak.

And Sarah? She's trying to have it both ways.

No, stop it, get that mental image out of your diseased imagination. That's not what I meant. No, really, I mean it... Stop it.

I've Been Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature!

Who can believe it? I was actually nominated for a Nobel Prize. For Literature. Based on my sole literary output (so far), A Bad Attitude: A Novel from the Vietnam War!

What's that? You don't believe it?

Well, neither do I. But that claim, in the words of Arizona Senator John Kyl, was "not intended to be a factual statement".

And that, my friends (and you are my friends), is how you do it.

Oral Sex in Louisiana? David Vitter's Penis Involved?

Oral sex in Louisiana. If you're on the lookout for it, you're okay. Even if you pay hookers to get it, you're okay. But if you are that hooker with the idea of providing it as a quick (sometimes very quick) way to make a buck, you are ... a sex offender?!

Yep, you're right up there with child molesters and mother-rapers ("...and father-rapers, right there on the bench!") in the great state of Lousy-anna.

But all that could change with a lawsuit filed by Louisiana sex workers taking issue with this alleged "crime":

Louisiana is the only state that requires people who have been convicted of crimes that do not involve sexual violence or sex with minors to register as sex offenders. In 1994, Congress passed Megan's Law, also known as the Wetterling Act, which mandated that states create systems for registering sex offenders. The act was amended in 1996 to require public disclosure of the names on the registries and again in 2006 to require sex offenders to stay in the public registry for at least 15 years.

The Wetterling Act, also known as the Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act was clearly not targeted at prostitution. However, Louisiana lawmakers opted to apply the registry to the crime against nature statute as well, and at that moment started down the path to a new level of punishment for sex work. "This archaic law is being used to mark people with a modern-day scarlet letter," says attorney Alexis Agathocleus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, another party in the lawsuit. "Inclusion on the sex-offender registry violates basic constitutional equal protection principles and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment."

Louisiana is the only state that requires people who have been convicted of crimes that do not involve sexual violence or sex with minors to register as sex offenders. In 1994, Congress passed Megan's Law, also known as the Wetterling Act, which mandated that states create systems for registering sex offenders. The act was amended in 1996 to require public disclosure of the names on the registries and again in 2006 to require sex offenders to stay in the public registry for at least 15 years.

The Wetterling Act, also known as the Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act was clearly not targeted at prostitution. However, Louisiana lawmakers opted to apply the registry to the crime against nature statute as well, and at that moment started down the path to a new level of punishment for sex work. "This archaic law is being used to mark people with a modern-day scarlet letter," says attorney Alexis Agathocleus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, another party in the lawsuit. "Inclusion on the sex-offender registry violates basic constitutional equal protection principles and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment."

Louisiana is the only state that requires people who have been convicted of crimes that do not involve sexual violence or sex with minors to register as sex offenders. In 1994, Congress passed Megan's Law, also known as the Wetterling Act, which mandated that states create systems for registering sex offenders. The act was amended in 1996 to require public disclosure of the names on the registries and again in 2006 to require sex offenders to stay in the public registry for at least 15 years.
The Wetterling Act, also known as the Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act was clearly not targeted at prostitution. However, Louisiana lawmakers opted to apply the registry to the crime against nature statute as well, and at that moment started down the path to a new level of punishment for sex work. "This archaic law is being used to mark people with a modern-day scarlet letter," says attorney Alexis Agathocleus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, another party in the lawsuit. "Inclusion on the sex-offender registry violates basic constitutional equal protection principles and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment."
It's beyond me why the hapless hookers are always to blame when it comes to this stuff. Oh, wait a second. I know why, when it comes to Louisiana: David Vitter's penis is the US Senator from Louisiana, and it was hard to have such an upstanding representative of Family Values even arrested, let alone stuffed into that child molester wrapper. After all, he's never been one to shrink from his duties, even in the face of terrible state prostitution (okay, I'm stretching it, so to speak...).

So no, just forget about holding the Johns responsible. After all, they are just guys, and you know what guys are like...

And I guess New Orleans can write off any plans they might have had of hosting the Republican National Convention any time soon. Who can forget the stories of busloads of hookers converging on Manhattan and on Minneapolis (see Hookers and Blow: Welcome to the Republican Convention) for the last two conventions? Those good ole boy defenders of family values wouldn't want to contribute to the delinquency of sex offenders, would they?

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Truth? You Can't Handle the Truth!

One of the things that I have followed avidly for the last 47 years is the continuing controversy over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

That also means that I have followed the media's obsession with furthering the cover-up of what really happened.

While I have had, a lot of the time, an enormous amount of admiration and respect for the work of Dan Rather and CBS News -- especially Rather's coverage of the Nixon debacle and the George W. Bush military service fabrication -- that respect has always been tempered by his lapdog service to the Powers that Be when it comes to a critical examination of the actual evidence of a conspiracy when it comes to what forever will be known to my generation as The Assassination.

One of my favorite blogs on this topic is the kind-of-oddly-named but chock-full-of-invaluable-information blog, Oswald's Mother, and George Bailey, the blog owner, has a recent post that pulls together the various strains of media complicity in the assassination coverup The Sum of All Things, and the lack of journalistic integrity when it comes to reporting on the assassination.

However, one thing that he regrettably doesn't touch on in his post, and one which I would like to expand on in this post, is the craven behavior of Dan Rather.

Back in the early days, before the Warren Report was issued -- before it was even written, but not before Lee Oswald was convicted of the crime by the FBI, the White House and the Media -- back when Time-Life Inc., owned the Zapruder film and had no reason to suspect that it would EVER become public, and the never-resolved question about the wound to the front of Kennedy's throat -- was it an exit wound, was it an entry wound, and if it was an entry wound, how could a gunman who was above and behind the president shoot him there? -- was still unresolved, Dan Rather, later star of CBS News and then a local stringer and self-important nabob, went public after a viewing of the film and stated that the throat wound was an entry wound because the president had turned around to his far right to wave at someone behind him. He also "reported" that Kennedy's head was "thrown forward" by the fatal head shot.

Okay, fair enough. If it really happened, then Rather was on safe ground with his statements that JFK had first turned around to wave, and then was violently thrown forward.

But wait, before we accept Rather at face value, let's look at all the evidence. And what's better evidence than the actual Zapruder film?



Okay, do you see him turning around nearly 180 degrees during that disturbing sequence? Do you see him violently thrown forward by that fatal head shot? No, me neither.

So does that tar Dan Rather forever in the minds of the American people, the paying consumers of network news, the people that sheepishly eat the media fodder fed to them daily?

You'd think so, but no, in 1966 he's a media superstar, and goes on national television with a CBS "microstudy" of the assassination which, despite its charge to "get to the bottom" of the assassination, comes down solidly on the side of the Warren Report.

Two of the things that have stuck with me all these years are the CBS "News" statements about Lee Oswald (only assholes who consider him guilty call him Lee Harvey Oswald) during the course of this broadcast:

1. Rather reminds viewers -- with that "ominous" tone of voice of his -- that "Lee Harvey Oswald" was awarded the second highest award for rifle marksmanship during his stint in the Marine Corps. That sounds all impressive and shit, until someone who has actually been in the military (your humble correspondent, for example) brings up the point that there only three awards for rifle prowess in the whole military establishment: Marksman, Sharpshooter, and Expert. You could just as easily -- and just as accurately -- claim that Oswald had the second-lowest award...

2. Even Uncle Walter (a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Cronkite">Walter Cronkite, the "most trusted man in America") gets into the act and he has to -- reluctantly, it seemed -- admit that it was nearly impossible, under normal circumstances, to make the infamously-inaccurate Mannlicher-Carcano rifle hit what it was aimed at during the tiny time frame available -- but, he says, "these were not normal circumstances -- Oswald was shooting at a president". Yeah, like that was gonna make a difference on the side of accuracy. Jesus Christ, Walter, a former war correspondent like you oughta fucken know better!

So, will we ever know what happened -- what really happened -- in Dallas on November 22, 1963? At this point I'd have to say that it's extremely unlikely. Even a deathbed confession like that of E. Howard Hunt (your remember him, don't you? CIA Agent, Watergate burglar, Bay of Pigs leader, etc. etc.) get exactly zero traction in the MSM.

Whattaya gonna do? I'm reminded of Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men: "The truth? You can't handle the truth!"

No, apparently not.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Playing "Chicken"

I came of age in the late 1950s, a time of ducktail haircuts, black leather jackets and cruising (as it was called then, driving up and down a street in town unoficially designated for that purpose--generally from one drive-in restaurant to another and back again), and fast cars.

One of the fast-car games, aside from impromptu quarter-mile racing, was a game called "chicken", where two cars would face each other on a narrow stretch of isolated road and then barrel towards each other at an ever-increasing rate of speed until one drive swerved out of the way, usually at the very last possible second, and then he became the "chicken".

It was totally stupid, totally dangerous, and many young lives were snuffed out across the country playing this pointless "game". A variant of it was seen in the movie Rebel Without a Cause, wherein two cars raced at an ocean cliff, with the first person to bail out of the speeding car before it plummeted over into the sea was the "chicken". Same concept, different execution.

And that's what we've got going on with the looming government shutdown. The newly-fledged teabaggers are flexing their "chicken" muscles with the administration, and from what I've seen this week, it looks like the administration is going to chicken out.

But, if you'll recall the movie, Buzz (the driver of the other car) tries to chicken out, he tries to bail out of the moving car, but his jacket gets caught up on the door handle and he's unable to get out. He goes over the cliff and dies.

That's what I think is going to happen. Obama and the gang are not going to be able to get out of the car in time, and the teabaggers are going to send him -- and themselves -- over the cliff.

But what do they care? They are all card-carrying members of the shrink-government-to-the-size-where-we-can-drown-it-in-the-bathtub Starve the Beast club, and to them, any damage at all that they can do to the government it a good thing.

WASF*.

---

[WASF = We Are So Fucked]

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Nyuck Nyuck Nyuck

Take that Beckster!

Oh, and here are the 50 worst things the asshole ever said on ClusterFox "News".

What a job that must have been, narrowing the field to just the top 50...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

First They Came for the Books...


When you start destroying books you don't agree with, can other atrocities be very far behind?

Monday, April 04, 2011

A Sign of the Apocalypse

From Bartcop, a sure sign that the economy is in the shitter in Texas:



Oh, the humanity...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Drug Testing for All Welfare Recipients?

Should all welfare recipients be tested for drug use? I'll admit, it's an issue that has a lot of knee-jerk supporters right from the get-go. After all, who wants those incredibly lavish welfare payments given out to drugged-soaked slackers who lay around in their penthouse suites on our tax dollars, watching their big-screen tvs, leaving home only to drive their Cadillac down the block to meet their connections and get more buckets of chicken to feed the munchies? You know the type: Ronald Reagan made her famous 30 years ago.

Several states -- e.g., Florida, Missouri, Illinois -- are jumping on this bandwagon, as is the federal government in the form of a bill introduced last year by Utah's Orrin Hatch, a Republican, naturally (you remember them, the party of state's rights and getting the government off our backs?). All this despite the fact that actual proof that it is actually a problem is so scant as to be invisible -- in fact, according to the NIAAA, the incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among recipients mirrors that of the rest of society.

But as we know, facts are never allowed to get in the way of a "sexy" piece of legislation that will garner instant support. Especially among RepubliCONS who will use it as a wedge issue to show that Democrats are a bunch of "weak on crime" sob sisters who will squander our hard-earned tax dollars on the unworthy (the "unworthy" being pretty much everyone who is on public assistance and unemployment...in other words, the very people who actually need it.)

But nowhere in this discussion can I see any acknowledgment that there still can be -- even after all the time the professional medical-experimentation people have had to "perfect" their tests -- false positives, as well as the little-talked about false negatives. Equally absent is anything except some vague lip service that if the welfare recipient does test positive, she will get a "referral" to some kind of unstated and unspecified drug rehab.

Apparently no distinction is being made as to the type of drug involved, either. It's one thing to spend your entire welfare check on a $500 rock of cocaine, and it's another thing entirely to smoke some homegrown weed from your own windowbox. Either one will land you in hot water and a new role as an unwilling participant in that vague rehab program, which itself probably has barely enough money to operate with the clients it already has, who likely want to be there...

And also absent is any discussion about all welfare recipients being tested.

Like the CEOs and boards of directors of corporations who owe their success to the injudicious application of corporate welfare payments from us ("we the people") to the already bloated coffers of the ├╝ber-rich, in the form of our tax dollars going to support Big Oil and General Electric (see Corporate Welfare: The Shame Page for more). When even the WTO, itself a bastion of corporate interests, complains about US corporate welfare, it ought to be signal that there really is a problem...

Drug testing for CEOs? Yeah, like that's gonna happen. Don't we have plenty of other problems, ones that are more pressing, more critical, to worry about than whether a welfare recipient is "on drugs"?

Gimme a break.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Forced at Gunpoint? Really?

Jesus, I really wish this was an April Fool's joke, but it isn't. Here's Mike Huckabee speaking at something called the "Rediscover God" conference last weekend, after being introduced by faux-historian and neo-xian crypto-fascist David Barton:



Get that? Forced at gunpoint(!).

Jeez, why would anyone fear a Christian theocracy headed up by these kinds of people?

New Book of the Month: Soul of a People

The Great Depression. It was a trying time, a troubling time, and also in some ways a rewarding time, and all of it is captured in my current book of the month, Soul of a People: The WPA Writers' Project Uncovers Depression America by David A Taylor. It's all there, from the soon-to-be-famous writers to the hardscrabble novices, from the cynical politicians to the idealistic workers.

Growing up I was a big fan of the Depression-era WPA series of books called the American Guides. These were produced by what some contemporary critics called "welfare for intellectuals", the Federal Writers Project. Every state had its guide, which was a combination history book, sociological portrait and travel guide -- but like no travel guide before or since. Many cities had their own guides, and there were specialized guides, such as one that followed US 30 as it paralleled the Oregon Trail. In all nearly 300 books were published during the short run of the Writers Project.

Whenever my family went on vacation, I would check out of the library the guides to whatever states we would be driving through, and then "follow along" as we progressed through rural America. They were fascinating reading, and made each town, each wide place in the road sometimes, seem to come alive.

I always knew that for the most part the guides were really well-written, but until recently I hadn't given much thought as to just who those writers were.

Turns out that many of the producers of the Writers' Guides were to become famous in their own right. Four of the first ten winners of the National Book Award were "graduates" of the program: Nelson Algren, John Cheever, Saul Bellow (who also won the Nobel Prize for Literature) and Ralph Ellison. In addition to Ellison, fellow icons of African-American literature, Richard Wright and Zorah Neale Hurston, also came out of the project. Poets Weldon Kees and Kenneth Rexroth wrote sections; astonishingly, hardboiled crime writer Jim Thompson was for a time in charge of writing the Oklahoma guide, and Vardis Fisher wrote the entire Idaho guide all by himself (his wife helped, of course...).

And of course the Slave Narratives (available for download) were collected by workers in the Writers' Project.

Admittedly, the project was, in the words of the infamous Texas congressional windbag Martin Dies of the equally infamous House UnAmerican Activities Committee, "riddled with communists", but so what? During the Great Depression, a common saying was, "If you're against unemployment, you're a communist; if you're against poverty, you're a communist"... Any reasonable and thinking person would take a look around at the contemporary failure of unfettered capitalism and agree that there had to be something better. "Communism" was a choice that many people would make, and had I been around then, I no doubt would have made it as well. In the early days of the Depression, before people learned what an asshole dictator "Uncle Joe" Stalin really was, the nascent Soviet Union seemed like a true Workers' Paradise -- of course this positive portrait was helped along by the works of such Americans as Lincoln Steffens ("I have been over into the future, and it works."), John Reed and Louise Bryant, and pretty much no one -- or at least no one that anybody listened to -- who went to Russia in the early days of the Revolution came back with anything bad to say about it.

But I digress. Back to Blowhard Dies: The book points out that he was almost beside himself in his exuberance to expose "The Red Menace", while seeming to go out of his way to avoid other, in my opinion, more real and more sinister threats to the nation, such as the homegrown Ku Klux Klan and the Hitler-inspired German American Bund (aka the American Nazis).

Soul of a People is a terrific read and an exciting peek into a part of our history that isn't so well known. I highly recommend it.

And, if you'd like the experience of reading some of the State Guides for yourself, good luck on finding a copy. Some of them were reprinted -- in a bowdlerized form -- in the 1980s, but the originals are now considered rare books and I've seen them going on eBay for several hundred dollars. Even the reprints are bringing a surprising sum.

However, do not despair. The eminently valuable Internet Archive has amassed a relatively few digitized copies of the guides (nowhere close to all of them) and you can view or download them in a number of different formats. Treat yourself and dip into one or two of them.

The guide for my own state of Washington was also reformatted, digitized and then updated for interactive explorations; it is also available for download.

Or, if you'd rather have a great sampler of the entire series, check out Remembering America: A Sampler of the WPA American Guide Series, edited by Archie Hobson, in which you will such gems as this one, chosen completely at random:

GARGLING OIL -- The businessman who put Lockport on the map in the 1870s was John Hodge, proprietor and manufacturer of Merchant's Gargling Oil, a remedy advertised to our grandparents as "good for man or beast"; one of Hodge's stunts was to send a steamer bedecked with banners over the Niagara cataract. (from the New York edition)
The guides are literally packed with this kind of stuff, each one more delightful than the last. This was an awesome project, never before -- and likely never again -- was there such a vast and intensive snapshot of a nation and its people.