Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Enough Whining Already

Jeez, you can't go through a day, it seems, without being hit alongside the head by this or that "Christian" group whining about being an oppressed minority that is systematically "persecuted" for their beliefs. Shut the fuck up already. You are enabling this culture of victimhood for yourselves without even knowing what a true victim is. Jews in Nazi Germany? True Victims. College-educated professionals in Pol Pot's Cambodia? True Victims. You American Christians? Uh, not so much...

Rob Boston, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (of which I am a proud member) has a great piece over at Alternet which discusses why, in more reasonable terms than I can muster when it comes to these people, the Christian Right needs to just STFU:

1. Of the 10 largest religious advocacy groups in Washington, seven take the Religious Right line on most issues.
Five of the top-10 groups (Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Home School Legal Defense Fund, Focus on the Family’s Citizenlink and the Traditional Values Coalition) are Religious Right organizations.
. . .
2. These organizations raise a ton of money.
The Pew report lists budget figures for each group examined. The numbers are staggering. In 2008, the Family Research Council, which, since the demise of the Christian Coalition has become the leading D.C.-based Religious Right group, took in more than $14 million.
. . .
3. These organizations enjoy incredible access to legislators.
Most advocacy groups woo lawmakers with money (through allied political action committees) or by implying that there are votes to be had among their respective constituencies. Some far-right religious groups can offer both.
. . .
And there's more. Go read the entire article and get up to speed on the Religious Right's false equivalencies when it comes to "persecution".

You'd think they'd be ashamed.

But once again, you'd be wrong.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Music Break

Here's our Monday Music Break for this week, Zoot Suit Riots from 1997, by the singularly-named Cherry-Poppin' Daddies:

The historical Zoot Suit Riots took place in 1943 mostly in greater Los Angeles. Racially-motivated attacks by sailors and Marines against young Mexican-American males led to social unrest and rioting, and the whole thing might have become a forgotten part of history were it not for things like this song, and the play and subsequent 1981 film Zoot Suit, both productions featuring the great Edward James Olmos, which examined the "pacheco" culture and milieu of 1940s Los Angeles.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Music Break

Here is the great Leonard Cohen's "Democracy". Once again, it just feels right. And with this post I'm off for a week for the holiday. See you all next week.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Salute to Dorli Rainey

Here's Keith Olbermann's Wednesday interview with Dorli Rainey 84 year old pepper sprayed by Seattle cops:

This is amazing and appalling. She is a Holocaust survivor who can remember Joseph Goebbels.

I noted this week when the Seattle cops sprayed her. Here's the rest of the story.

Are we really turning into a police state? It's sure starting to look like it...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Torturing Bachmann

After mouthing off that she wouldn't have a problem with waterboarding someone, Michelle "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann was asked by the Des Moines Iowa Register's editorial board if she would be willing to go through waterboarding so she could speak about it more knowledgeably.

Ha, like that's gonna happen. You already know the answer. Bachmann replied that it "would be absurd to have the President of the United States submit themselves to waterboarding"...

Okay, despite the obvious grammatical error there, something else more important is going on. I hate to break the news to her since she apparently considers the election in the bag (after all, god told her to run), but she is not the president.

And never will be. So the question is still a valid one. Is she willing to undergo the "discomfort" of being waterboarded?

Not so absurd now that she's just plain US Representative Bachmann, is it?

Here's Navy veteran, former professional wrestler, erstwhile movie actor, and ex-governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura -- who appears to know something about waterboarding:

Another example is the eccentric former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who has discussed how he was waterboarded as part of his Navy SEAL training (which the military does in order to teach its elite troops to resist torture techniques). Ventura famously declared: “I’ll put it to you this way: You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.”
Jeez, I'd pay money -- a lot of money -- to be able to watch that.

Speaking of money, Michelle is missing out on the chance to raise a lot of it for her flagging campaign. All she'd have to do, in the interests of truth, i.e., proving her point that waterboarding is only "uncomfortable", is to host a pay-per-view event on cable television of her actually being waterboarded.

Even I
would donate to her campaign in those circumstances.

What about it, Michelle? You've been torturing the American people long enough. Now it's your turn.

Think of the money.

Eat Your Vegetables

Everyone remember when Saint Ronald declared that ketchup was a vegetable? There was outrage on both sides of the aisle over that stumble (back when some RepubliCONs still had a soul).

Well, move over ketchup. There's a bigger gun in town:

Your congress, for lack of having anything better to do than say, reaffirm our stupid national motto, like maybe working on something for the economy and creating all those jobs that John Boner promised us nearly a year ago, has decided to declare that pizza is a vegetable!

The upside? Now I can happily sit in front of the tube and munch down on my giant extra-cheese-meat-lovers pizza (see photo) and tell She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed that I am eating my vegetables. And with a couple of bottles of Full Sail Amber (after all, what's pizza without beer?), I'm drinking them too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Crush the Occupy Movement: A City-by-City Breakdown

Here, from the UK's The Guardian, is a breakdown of the police actions to crush the Occupy movement in six US cities, New York, Portland OR, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Denver and Atlanta.

Read the whole story, which expertly gives a little history and a brief but incisive description of police-state actions to shut down each of the protests.

And then ask yourself why our own CPM/SCLM* has not done something similar to this, to bring into focus the fascist actions of the uniformed minions of the wealthy.

One more thing: Seattle was not mentioned in the UK story, but last night Seattle cops indiscriminately peppersprayed a crowd and attacked a 19-year-old pregnant woman and an 84-year-old woman.

Is this really the kind of country we want to be?

[*CPM/SCLM = Capitalist Pig Media/So-Called Liberal Media]

Olbermann Nails It to Bloomberg!

I always love it when KO launches into one of his crazy-seeming rants, and today he absolutely cuts no slack for NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He gets in high dudgeon and it is definitely worth a look:

Jeez, get 'em champ!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ever Wonder if You're a Fascist?

No, probably not, since my literally dozens of readers are all smart people who are the correct side of history.

That IBIL* of yours, though? The one that's coming over to wreck your Thanksgiving Day dinner yet again for the tenth year in a row? Ever wonder about him being a fascist? Come on, you know you have.

Well, thanks to the always valuable Addicting Info, here's a checklist to see if someone's a fascist.

1. You are obsessed with national power and pride and believe your country doesn’t have to follow the rules and shouldn’t ever apologize for doing things that are wrong. You think your nation can do whatever it wants.
2. You believe in the rule of the few, election rigging, political decisions being made by a select group of officials behind closed doors, embrace the informal and unregulated exercise of political power, arbitrary deprivation of civil liberties, and little tolerance for meaningful opposition.
3. You believe in survival of the fittest, an every man for himself mentality that causes you to believe that poor people and sick people are weak and must be punished. You think rich people are strong because they are wealthy and that they should rule us. You also your race in superior to all others.
4. You use the media as a political propaganda machine to target a specific audience and to push your agenda on others. You make sure the media demonizes your opponents and takes your side on nearly every issue. You use your propaganda machine to play on the fears of others.
5. You are obsessed with security, and war. You feed this obsession by spending trillions of dollars building up a large military force and are willing to sacrifice domestic programs your people count on to keep your military huge. You start unnecessary and costly wars and you are paranoid of other nations.
And that's just the first five! Go read the entire list of 18 items, and when that dude asks you to pass the potatoes, you can scream, "YOU INVADED POLAND YOU NAZI PIG!!!"

No, wait. That's likely not such a good idea in the long run... Better to just mash the entire bowl of mashed potatoes into his face.

No, wait. That's probably not good either. Maybe you should just pass the fucking potatoes and at your first opportunity escape into the next room and the television set that will undoubtedly have a football game on to calm you down...
[*IBIL -- Idiot Brother-In-Law]

Does Anyone Really Believe This?

In the latest event of "victimhood" a waitress at a suburban Chicagoland Outback Steakhouse has prompted some Teabagger "outrage" over the weekend because she was allegedly fired for wearing a Tea Party "Don't Tread On Me" bracelet to work.

Here's the Huffpost story on this poor girl:

Tea Party members gathered outside a suburban Chicago Outback Steakhouse over the weekend after a waitress at the restaurant claimed she was fired for wearing a Tea Party bracelet to work.

Megan Geller, 23, claims a couple dining at the Crystal Lake, Ill. steakhouse was offended by her "Don’t Tread On Me" bracelet in early October. They allegedly complained to management, and she was fired shortly after, Geller's mother told the Northwest Herald.

Tonya Franklin, Geller's mother, told the Herald that she gave her daughter the yellow bracelet after receiving it at a Tea Party event. Franklin joined protesters in calling the firing a violation of Geller's free speech.

“They stirred up the wrong hornet’s nest and messed with the wrong mama,” Franklin told the Herald. “When mamas get mad, mamas get to work.”
"Free speech"? Really? You're gonna try to go with that?

I'd like to wake little Megan -- and especially that shrew of a mother of hers -- up to the fact that this is not a "free speech" issue. Sorry, girls. Only the government can be guilty of suppressing free speech. Not an individual, not a business, and not even the worst imaginable management.

Little Megan needs to suck it up and understand that when you sell your time to an employer in this society, you are little more than a paid slave. Absent any kind of union protection (which I am sure that she doesn't have and, given her mother's Teabagger proclivities, shouldn't even want...), you work at the pleasure and the will of your employer, and if the Outback Restaurant doesn't want you wearing something that could prove disruptive to their business, you'd better do what they say and take it off.

But of course Outback has a different slant on things:
Company officials, however, told the Associated Press that Geller was inattentive to to diners at two tables, and that if the bracelet had been an issue, they would have asked her to take it off. Management also said that Geller yelled at them when they spoke to her about complaints from diners.
Ah ha!

Now I've never been one to carry a brief for national chains of any kind, but it only stands to reason that management would have asked her -- told her -- to take it off before they fired her. But this seems to me to be a clear case of a whiny-assed little girl who won't do what she is told, doesn't pay attention to her work and is rude to her bosses. I don't care what business you work in, you can't do that and expect to walk away from it without consequences.

Another case of fake victimhood. I call bullshit on it, and I call bullshit on Megan and I call bullshit on her mother.

Brilliant Short Films

Hey, as much as I try, it can't all be political snark and angry diatribes. Here are a couple of terrific YouTube videos of short films to get Tuesday off to a good start. Both of these won several prestigious cinema awards, and deservedly so.

First is the brilliant 2002 film, Ten Minutes. Watch that long take in the middle, and don't get confused when it suddenly looks like it's a different movie. It isn't...

And the second is Spain's heartwarming The Story of a Sign from 2008. Guaranteed to make you smile, even if you think that you've had a bad day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Music Break

Here's Buffalo Springfield in 1969 singing their noted 60s anti-war youth anthem, For What It's Worth:

Once again, it just seems right: Cops are beating up on #Occupy_Everything protesters all across the nation. It's wet and it's cold and these people are being scooped out of their tents and getting their heads smashed with police batons. They are being depicted in the CPM* as being an unruly mob, a bunch of louts with no real goals.

Meanwhile take a look over at College Park Pennsylvania at the Penn State students rioting -- actually rioting -- in the streets over the firing of the serial-child-molester-enabling football coach Joe Paterno, an asshole who ought to go to fucking jail for not turning that dirty dickwad prepubescent-boy-butt-fucker into the police immediately!

You didn't hear those complaisant lickspittle corporation Koch-sucking media assholes bitching about a real riot, with actual and substantial property damage, did you? Yeah, I'm mostly talking to you, Faux "News" but you're not the only target of my scorn. Everyone in the mainstream media seems to yapping the same meme.

Jesus. It is a funny world.

Yeah, "there's somethin's happenin' here", all right. And it isn't good
[*CMP = Capitalist Pig Media]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why I Still Hate Richard Nixon

You all remember Tricky Dick Nixon, the only US president to resign in disgrace. Well, it wasn't for nothing that he was called "Tricky Dick".

Now we learn, by kind of a roundabout way, what had only been hinted at for the last 43 years. In the last days of Nixon's ultimately successful 1968 campaign for the presidency, he opened some back-channel communications with the Republic of Vietnam's then president Nguyen van Thieu,with the aim of keeping Thieu away from the Paris Peace Conference, then in full swing with a good possibility to finally bring a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam question.

If Lyndon Johnson had been able to complete that "hail mary" pass and get a peace accord in the last few days of the campaign, Vice President Hubert Humphrey would likely have been able to capitalize on the resulting boost for the Democrats and won the election. As it was he lost by only 500,000 votes, which was barely a whisper on the vote meter.

But no, Tricky Dick and his evil crew could never allow that. All they had to do was delay Thieu for three days or so, no peace accord, and no bumphrey for Humphrey.

And that's what happened. I'm not saying that Humphrey would have been a great president. Hell, I could barely stand the guy myself, but anything would have been better, as it turned out, than Richard Fucking Nixon.

I will admit that, to my everlasting shame and chagrin, I actually voted for Nixon myself, from Vietnam. I was young and stupid in those days (as opposed to what I am now, which is old and stupid) and, for some unknown reason, I actually thought that he really did have that "secret plan" to end the war.

Turns out he did. It only took another five years and twice as many dead Americans -- and who knows how many dead Vietnamese? -- for it to come to fruition.

And I have never voted for a Republican since then.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Time out from my regular snark to wish all of my fellow veterans a happy Veterans Day. We are the REAL 1%.

Thank you for your service, my brothers and sisters. Welcome home.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Back from Americans United

I'm back but feeling kind of look-what-the-cat-dragged-in. It seems to take a lot out of me any more to make those transcontinental plane trips. One of those inevitable signs of becoming a "Wise Elder". Plus it didn't help that on the Denver to Seattle leg, I was forced to sit in a middle seat, my least favorite spot on a crowded airliner. Fortunately that's what they make Xanax, $8 drinks and iPods for...

My trip to DC, which you may recall, was for the annual meeting of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organization which I am proud to be a member of and whose praises I have often sung on this blog. As always, I come away reinvigorated after spending a couple of days with Barry Lynn, our executive director, my counterparts (i.e., other chapter leaders and regular members) from across the country and with my fellow members of AU's National Advisory Council.

A special high point of this year was meeting and listening to Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who was there to receive AU's Person of the Year award for all the work that he does in furthering the cause of church-state separation in the military. I was astonished to learn a couple things about Mikey and the FFRF. The first is that his organization is so small in terms of actual people doing the work, and second, which is even more astounding, that they currently have over 25,000 active cases in the four branches of the military service. That means that over 25,000 active duty or recently separated service members have complained to the MMRF about the illegal proselytizing activities from not only chaplains but also their chain-of-command superiors.

Mikey is a hard-charging in-your-face kind of guy, and that's a good thing because he said that it usually takes only a phone call to straighten a lot of these issues out. He's not afraid to make threats to the offenders, including lawsuits, and that most-feared tactic, publicly calling them out. Nobody likes bad publicity, not even the Jesus Freaks in the military. Given that, it didn't come as a surprise that he regularly receives some serious death threats and that he travels with a group of security guys -- bodyguards, really -- who look as stern and alert as any Secret Service agent as they constantly scanned the room as he spoke.

Another high point was being able to meet, listen to, and honor recent high school graduate Corwyn Schultz, who led the fight against school prayer at his Texas high school. This case was taken up by Americans United and is still working its way through the appeals process, with the likely result that it will eventually end up on the US Supreme Court. It was an honor to meet him and hear his inspiring story of the "lone wolf" standing up to the forces of religious fascism.

Why did he keep at it in the face of what you can imagine was some Big Time peer pressure and ostracization? In his own words: "I'm stubborn."

Corwyn received AU's new Religious Liberty Award, which will be an annual award to a young person who is willing to make a principled stand for what he or she believes is right.

See the story of the awards along with photos on the MMRF page.

Pardon me if I launch into another "commercial" -- If you are already a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, good on you. If you are not, please consider becoming a member. It's fast, it's easy, and it's inexpensive. As little as $25 will get you a year's membership along with our mostly-monthly publication, Church and State. If you live in an area with a local chapter, you can always contact someone there for more information and an opportunity to meet with like-minded people where you live.

Don't delay. Do it today. With three presidential candidates claiming that god told them to run for the office, we have to push back. (For the Republicans who read this blog, I know you don't believe in simple arithmetic, but trust me, the odds are really stacked against at least two of them actually getting The Word from that abstract old man in the sky.)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Congressman With Guts

A congressman with guts. Given the current bunch of rethugs who are running the country like something out of the Three Stooges meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show, that's what we need. And that congressman with guts would be Florida's Alan Grayson, who has just launched his bid to return to congress next year.

Here's a video of Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva asking for help for Grayson:

Please drop by Grayson's A Congressman With Guts website and kick loose a few bucks for the campaign. We need more strong progressive voices in congress, and Grayson is exactly the kind of kick-ass-and-take-names guy we need in there.
- - -
Sidebar: I'll be gone to DC for the annual meeting of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, so I won't be posting again until the middle of next week. In the meantime, keep the faith and hang in there.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Coulter: Our Negroes are Better Than Your Negroes

mAnn Coulter is at it again. Check this out:

Did you know that Coulter has a new book out, so she's making the rounds of the Wingnut Media to flog it?
“That’s why our blacks are so much better than their blacks,” Coulter said. “To become a black Republican you don’t just roll into it. You’re not going with the flow. You have fought against probably your family members, probably your neighbors, you have thought everything out and that’s why we have very impressive blacks in our party.”
“Our blacks?” ….oops, sorry. Thought the calendar just rolled back to 1861.
. . .
Perhaps Coulter would like to debate a fellow Republican on this. How about former Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — herself on book tour. She was asked about Cain in an interview to be broadcast Wednesday on CBS’ “Early Show.” Her advice: Don’t play the race card.
Go ahead and read the whole story and come away shaking your head at the over-the-top musings of the Republican Party's only known transexual yapping mouth.

Jeez, I'd love it if she just went away, and took Herman "I Don't Know" Cain with her.

"Don't Be the Weird One"

That's the advice given to the speakers at this year's so-called Value Voters Summit, put on by the ├╝ber Religious Right wackjob-controlled Family Research Council. When you have an overload of speakers such as Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul haranguing the Pavlovian-dog-whistled crowds to froth their mouths over the horrors of secular society, "humans evolved from monkeys", the need to put god back into the public square, and the requirement that the next president to be a "born again" Christian, I think that the "don't be the weird one" admonition got wadded up and punted out the window on the Wednesday before the meeting.

In the grand scheme of things, those of us out here on the secular frontier tend to look at clowns like these with a measure of humor, as a source of fairly harmless amusement. But it could take just one ginned-up "October Surprise" for one of those wackjobs to spring to the presidency, and if they drag a republican majority in both houses of congress with them, then it suddenly wouldn't be all that amusing.

The Washington-based staff of Americans United for Separation of Church and State regularly attends these things, and I have to give them kudos for sticking their necks and their hands into a den of rabid wolverines for a couple of days each year. They probably feel like a handful of popsickle sticks in a room full of chainsaws. But good on them for doing it, and bringing back the word on what the Religious Right is really up to.

It's not pretty.

Barry W. Lynn, an ordained minister, is the Executive Director of Americans United, and he had this to say about this year's fest:

I used to believe that as I got older and gained more and more life experience, fewer things would bother me. Maybe I’m not aging after all, then, because going to the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit here in Washington was bothersome – as well as bizarre, boggling of the mind and baffling.
...“Government should not get between a patient and his doctor.” Right on! And, in predictable fashion, the speech would move later into an anti-abortion message with speakers vowing to stop every abortion or virtually every one.
But wait – couldn’t this be construed as government, the criminal law even, getting between a patient and her doctor? Perhaps the pronoun really does matter, or the level of hypocrisy is stunning.
Here’s another ironic twist to the essential message of this group: They talked about fealty to the “Constitution” (a version they apparently found in their sock drawer) constantly, but went into the stratosphere with glee when U.S. Rep. Ron Paul announced that all of his positions come from the Bible – military policy, tax policy and (of course) abortion policy. Some weird interpretation of constitutional rights is secondary to the belief that all policy matters need a biblical basis.
Read the whole thing. It's Barry's current monthly commentary for November in the organization's publication, Church & State, which is available on the website in its entirety at http://www.au.org/church-state/november-2011-church-state.

Be sure to read Assistant Editor Rob Boston's Bombast, Bigotry and the Bible and Unholy Harangue: Summit Speakers Hit New Heights of Extremism;
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) ...also freely rewrote American history. According to the congressman, the Declaration of Independence was written under divine guidance, and God “moved the Founding Fathers around like men on a chessboard. I believe this country was planned and built by his hand.”
Glenn Beck, former Fox News personality. Beck unleashed a bombastic tirade that careened wildly from ominous claims of societal conflict due to the Wall Street protestors and an ongoing “race war” to assertions that politics doesn’t matter as much as service to your fellow Americans.

It is difficult to characterize Beck’s rant or summarize his main themes – there weren’t any. A few sips could be taken from his stream of consciousness, however: Beck dislikes it when young people take out loans to pay for college and then complain because they experience difficulty paying them back. He mentioned this more than once. At one point, he recommended that if young people can’t afford college, they should just go to “the free public library. It worked for me.”
Doomsday prophesies also littered the Beck rant. He conjured up a veritable zombie Apocalypse involving hordes of advancing Wall Street occupiers.
“The violent left is coming to our streets, all of our streets, to smash, to tear down, to kill, to bankrupt, to destroy,” Beck told the crowd. “It will be global in nature and global in its scope. I said these things two years ago, and I was mocked and ridiculed.”
Again, read the whole thing. AU is the one organization whose entire goal is to maintain the wall of separation that exists between churches and government.

I am proud to be a member and I encourage you to become one as well. Study the Americans United website, read some of things we do and the things we stand for, and please consider joining us. Dues can be as little as $18.00 per year, you won't have to go meetings unless you want to, you won't have to take any actions if you don't want to, but no matter what level of participation you want to engage in, you will be helping a terrific organization as it fights back against the dark forces of the religious right.

I have been a member for many years, and this coming weekend I will get to go back to Washington DC for our yearly meeting. It's always a time to get some great new training, meet some great fellow AU members from all over the country, meet some of the outstandingly excellent people on the staff of the national office, and mainly have a lot of fun. After the sessions, there's a lot of "hanging out" time with a bunch of smart intelligent people who are in complete agreement with me on the topic of the separation of church and state.

I had to miss it last year, and the fact that I didn't go felt as though I'd torn an important piece of fabric out of the seat of my pants.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

An Embarrassment

Heeeere's Perry! Take a look at this video and you'll see a rambling and semi-coherent Rick Perry at a speech in New Hampshire.

Is this really the person we want to represent the United States? At least Bush was a dry drunk. Perry looks like that guy you meet in a bar, who is just over the edge of inebriation and thinks he's the life of the party when he's just another dipshit with dipsomania.

Stick a fork in him. He's done.

The Daily Show and Rightwing "Science"

It's a full episode on the Daily Show website, but I couldn't find a shorter and embeddable one.

It's the Oct 26 show with guest Lisa Randall. Watch it in full if you like (it's worth it), but do be sure to watch the Aasif Mandvi segment starting at about 05:38, wherein he tongue-in-cheekily demolishes a moronic woman who is pretending to be intelligent and educated.

Aasif: "So it's not fair that surgeons are the only ones who get to perform brain operations, then?"

Idiot Woman: "That's right, now you see the problem with science."

Farnsworth: "Aiyyyyyyeeeee!" Hits forehead with palm smack, raps head on keyboard.