Category Archives: media

The other extremists

We know only too well about the extreme right wing, the ones who are actually running the Republican Party these days. And then there’s the extreme left wing, the ones the extremists on the right wouldn’t know if one bit ‘em on the ass because they’re too busy thinking Barack Obama is a progressive.

But there are another group of extremists we rarely mention. I’m talking about the radical middle, those extremist moderates who like to point on either side of their political ideology and harumph a lot.

Now, there are some moderates who are truly moderate moderates, not extreme at all. But let’s just get this out of the way right here and right now — they’re not the ones I’m talking about.

You know who I mean. The ones who think fans of Glenn Beck and “tree-huggers” are the same, just on different sides of the ideological divide. They’re champions of the “both sides do it” meme And they love to be all superior about it. But I gotta tell ya, they’re just as damaging as any of the other extremists.

Maybe I’m biased here … ok, I’m definitely biased … but I don’t see the logic in thinking that people who advocated armed rebellion against a president they don’t like and people think we ought not destroy the planet that keeps us alive are some kind of moral equivalent. There’s just no there there.

My colleagues do it all the time, because they think it makes them “balanced.”  Riiiiiiggghhht. Balanced, like a pound of feathers and a pound of radioactive material are really the same thing. Balance in journalism isn’t an equation. Balance is digging into your story, getting all sides — because really, there’s never only two — and then writing a story that tells the truth. But that’s just too damned hard anymore. My beloved colleagues don’t have time to do that with all the fancy dinners with the president and make-up sessions for the Sunday network talkies and the 24-7 cable gabfests.

Maybe the extremist middle got that way because of what they see on the tube. I don’t pretend to know how it happened, but I do know that it’s a dangerous place. It’s the reason the meteoric rise in right-wing violence in this country barely gets a mention on the news, and when it does, it’s just some “lone wolf” or “isolated incident.” Calling it that means you don’t have to do the work to find out what’s really going on, although, truth be told, the work’s already been done by people like the Southern Poverty Law Center, who, by the way, get labeled a “liberal” group and therefor can’t be trusted as a source. Unlike, say, the conservative Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute, who are regularly treated as if they have some special knowledge and understanding of our country that makes them better than, say, the Center for American Progress, that radical leftist communist group.

It’s also a reflection of just how far right our political spectrum has gone. Now here’s the thing — the country, the people, they haven’t gone that far right.

So, Nunzia, you say, if that’s the case, how do we keep getting stuck with all these right-wing crazies in office? Well, my friends, it’s partly because of redistricting and partly because my colleagues feed the madness. Instead of talking about how, say, Michele Bachmann has a little problem understanding that the First Amendment protections for freedom of speech apply to everyone and not just who she likes, they spend days and days and days making weiner jokes or telling us about the trials and tribulations of former child stars who don’t get it that they are not queens of the universe.

We, the People, as Dave Johnson calls us, are being fed a load of bullshit, and unfortunately, some of us aren’t up to the task of sorting through it to find out what the real score is.

My colleagues treat Paul Ryan’s budget plan, for example, as if it’s just another plan to try to eliminate debt, different from the Democratic plan. I’ll say it is. It’s just another way to gut government and stick it to the poor, plain and simple. But they won’t say that. They’ll say that Democrats say it is and Republicans say it isn’t, except that’s not what Republicans say. Republicans, in fact, won’t answer that question.

And what my colleagues won’t do is question the very idea that the deficit is the problem. The problem they don’t seem to see (and no wonder, living in WonderWashington as they do) is fucking jobs. There aren’t any. Republicans said they’d work on jobs when they got into office this last time, but they’ve done absolutely nothing. Instead, they started in on social hot button issues like same sex marriage and abortion. But my colleagues don’t mention that either. They have no institutional memory of what was said or done last week, much less during a campaign a year ago, unless someone brings it up — and Democrats notoriously won’t do that.

And so the radical middle stays there, swearing both sides are as bad as the other and if they’d only come together and stop the bickering everything would be just fine. Can’t we all just get along? Well, in my book, it’s damned hard to get along with somebody who’s entire being is centered making sure the rich get richer and everybody else just shuts the fuck up and takes what scraps they can dig out of garbage bins.

But to the extremists in the middle, it’s all just partisan noise, amplified to ear-splitting distortion by my clueless colleagues.

Can’t we all just get along? Sure we can. Just as soon as we drop the feudal nonsense and start realizing that we humans really are all in this together. Hear that, radical moderates? I regularly hug trees, and I will gladly work with all of the other sides in this world, but there are some ground rules — no discussion about anything can go anywhere without some agreement on where we’re starting and where we’re going. And that, my friends, is precisely why debate in Washington is useless.

Conservatives think everything is hunky dory if it weren’t for those filthy liberals screwing with everything that makes this country great. Progressives think that we’re in a heap of trouble and it’s just gonna get worse if we don’t do something real about it. See? There’s not one iota of agreement in where we are. And if we don’t know where we are, there’s no way in hell we can figure out where we’re going.

Tweaking the story

This shit just pisses me off. Really. It does. My colleagues can be such tools sometimes. So I’m working, and alluva sudden I see tweets proclaiming that the Eville president has done dissed his legal advisors who told him he needs Congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution to continue providing military support to NATO’s fight in Libya.

Now, I happen to agree. The fight in Libya is at least for a good reason for a change, but the law requires that Congress grant permission to extend such activity beyond 60 days, which ended on May 20. It’s true that all presidents since the law was established in 1973 have contended that it unconstitutionally infringes on the president’s responsibilities as commander-in-chief. All presidents except Obama, that is. His position is that what we’re doing in Libya doesn’t pass the “hostilities” test because we’re not actually fighting. It’s not our bombers, and there are no troops on the ground. The United States is just providing support, y’see. Nixon, by the way, vetoed the act, but Congress overrode the veto.

Maybe they’re even right about that. But it is the law. And 10 congresscritters have filed suit in federal court against Obama over it.

But anyway, none of that is what irks me so much. What irks me is this. Here’s the New York Times (which broke the news) headline on the story:

2 top lawyers lost to Obama in Libya war policy debate

The story is about disagreement among the president’s legal advisers. Two of them — the Pentagon’s general counsel and the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — said Congressional approval was needed. Obama’s other lawyers, including both the White House and State Department general counsels, said otherwise. Obama went with the latter.

But that’s not how the story is that spreading through the InterTubz. Instead of being a story about a policy disagreement among the advisers, the story is about how Obama “overruled” his legal advisers, “rejected” their counsel, “dismissed” their views, proceeded with the war “despite” the lawyers’ view and is worse than Hitler. As if they were the only lawyers he consulted.

Even the Times is a little misleading, focusing on the two lawyers who disagreed. Here’s my headline:

Obama’s legal team split on Libya action authority

Now, doesn’t that sound more fair? More accurate? But it wouldn’t be American journalism if it didn’t echo the right wing’s crazinesss. Hell, even John Boehner believes the War Powers Act is unconstitutional, but that hasn’t stopped him from screaming to the high heavens that Obama is violating it.

Journalism isn’t what it’s supposed to be these days. Seeking the truth and telling it isn’t in the job description. Getting ratings is.

But that’s not how I roll. In this case, I completely agree with the Pentagon and DOJ lawyers. But that doesn’t mean I don’t tell the story right.

There is such a thing as journalistic integrity, even if an awful lot of my colleagues have forgotten what it means. Of course, they wouldn’t be acting like they are if the American public wasn’t so hell bent on bullshit and Charlie Sheen. But journalists are supposed to cut through the crap, not repeat it.

At least that’s how it works in my world. Wish it were true across the board.

Disturbance in the blogosphere

I am disturbed. Very disturbed. First, my day lilies did not give me the explosion of color they had promised. They’re now nothing but dried sticks. Harumph, as they say. Second, I’m reading Jeff Sharlet’s “The Family.” Actually, I’ve been reading it for a while now, and it’s so disturbing that I can only read a few pages at a time before closing the book and worrying about our future for the next 6-10 hours.

If you’d really like to know how we got into the mess we’re in, read that book. And when you think that conservatives want us to return so some idealized vision of the 1950s, know this: It’s not a fairy tale. They do want to return the 1950s, when The Family was completely in charge of American foreign policy in its drive to spread Christian dictatorships around the world. Want to know why the United States props up certain dictators and not others? Read The Family. Then you’ll be as disturbed as I am and I won’t be alone.

But that’s not the worst of my disturbance. I’m really disturbed about Tom MacMaster and Bill Graber, two straight white guys who, we now know, spent considerable time and energy pretending to be lesbians.

Maybe I’m so disturbed about this because once upon a time I engaged in some online pretending-to-be-someone-I’m-not myself, much to my chagrin. I’m not proud of it. I hurt several people I cared deeply about. And that was between me and them. Bill and Tom’s excellent adventures were between them and the rest of the known world

Well, there’s Nunzia Rider. That’s me, yes, but it’s not my real name. I started blogging as Newswriter several years ago and changed to Nunzia when I wanted a real name, like a real person. The nom de bloggue was necessary because I worked for a giant media outlet that frowned on people thinking for themselves and sharing it with the world. Think for ourselves, yes, just keep it quiet. That’s no longer necessary. I’ll even tell you my real name — KC Wildmoon — but I’m going to keep Nunzia Rider here just so I don’t confuse myself any more than I already am.

But I am an honest-to-god white lesbian. Unlike Bill and Tom, who both pretended to be “gay girls,” in Tom’s case, “A Gay Girl in Damascus,” and in Bill’s, the publisher of “Lez Get Real, a gay girl’s view on the world.” Interesting that they both called themselves “gay girls” rather than lesbians, but that doesn’t disturb me half as much as the rest.

I’ve known a couple of men who pretended to be lesbians online to get their rocks off. That’s one thing, related to this thing but not the same. Tom, who must have an incredible need for attention, went so far as to concoct “her” kidnapping by Syrian thugs. He was just trying to get the word out about how awful it is there, and some of my friends have even sort of defended him on that ground. But jeez Louise, you don’t have to pretend to be someone diametrically opposed to who you really are to get the word out about what a wicked dictator is doing to his own people.

OK, so we don’t hear very often about what life is like for LGBT folks in Syria, but good god, do we really have to? What life is like for everyday people, including LGBT folk, is bad enough — anybody and everybody who even slightly opposes the Assad regime is at risk. Sexual orientation is the least of their worries, I’d say. Assad is killing everybody, just to hang onto power. He’s a first class asshole, ranking up there with Adolf Hitler, except Hitler’s regime at least tried to hide their wickedness. Not Assad. His goons are out there in the open killing people randomly. Unarmed people. People who really want to be free, not like these moronic Tea Partiers here who imagine themselves oppressed by democracy.

Want to know what it’s like in Syria? Get on Twitter and follow @Razaniyat or @Monajed or @SeekerSK or @RevolutionSyria or @SyrianWoman. Yemen? Try @NoonArabia or @RajaAlthaibani or @alguneid or @Nefermaat or @iomathanYemen or @ichamza or @womanfromyemen. Egypt? @3arabwy or @norashalaby or @monaeltahawy. Libya? @septimus_sever or @Tripolotanian or @dovenews. And these are just a few. There’s also the journalists reporting from inside these countries. It’s not rocket science.

But Tom MacMaster couldn’t do that. He couldn’t even get his sorry ass into Syria to report on what he actually saw. He took other people’s experiences and observations and put them on a blog as his own. It doesn’t matter that what he wrote was accurate. There are hundreds of people writing accurately about that region of the world, and they are there. They are not some white guy pretending to be a Syrian lesbian to attract attention to himself. Two words, Tom. James Frey. What he wrote was accurate too. Just none of it happened to him.

And Bill Graber. There must be a special level of hell for people like Bill Graber. He was exposed after some reporters thought he might actually be the gay girl in Damascus. Or rather, that “Paula Brooks” might be. That’s who Bill said he was. And to keep the lie going, he told reporters that “Paula” was deaf and could only speak to them on the phone through her “father,” who was, in fact, Bill himself.

I never read “Lez Get Real.” But hundreds, if not thousands did, and dozens of other lesbians (hopefully all actual lesbians) contributed and commented. Bill Graber isn’t a lesbian. He’s a straight, white, married, former construction worker. He may even fall into the category of straight guys pretending to be lesbians to get their rocks off for all I know. But he cannot, ever, write from an authentic lesbian experience. Maybe he should try fiction, since that’s what Lez Get Real is, at least his part of it.

This is disturbing, and, again, maybe more so because of my own shameful history. But it is disturbing nonetheless. Straight white guys have no business pretending to be lesbians, or anything else other than what they are. Privileged is what they are. They can have or do anything they want, for the most part.

Instead, they engaged in intellectual slumming. Insidious, but not the least bit surprising. When you live a privileged life, sometimes it leaks into your little pea brain that other people are actually living while you are plainly not.

The end is near

The Democrats won’t lay down and roll over, letting Republicans rule and have everything they want, so come Friday, we’re likely to see the federal government shut down. Just like Newtie did it in the 90s. But he was a petulant little prick, and America knew it. Now? America can’t take its eyes off Charlie Sheen long enough to see what the TeaPublicans are doing.

Wanna know what the blackmail really is? Because saying “the government will shutdown” frankly doesn’t mean much. Here’s what it means:

  • Cuts in unemployment compsensation
  • End of grants for law enforcement and higher education
  • Shutdown of national parks
  • No state tax collections
  • Cuts in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance program
  • Courts will shut down
  • No income tax refunds

And that’s just a start. Some of those things will happen immediately, and the others might not happen at all if Democrats cave and give the TeaPublicans what they want quickly. And what do they want? They want their budget bill passed with no amendments and no changes. And what would that entail?

  • Cutting funding to implement the Affordable Care Act
  • Eliminating funding for family planning services, breast and cervical cancer screeningsand other preventive health care.
  • Cutting funding for WIC
  • Cutting funding for Head Start
  • Cutting funding for Pell grants
  • Cutting funding for job training programs

What the TeaPublicans do not want is to eliminate or even decrease the massive tax cuts for the rich or the massive funding for the Defense Department or to regulate the massively rich banks and insurance companies, because that’s where they make their money.

What they do not want is for anybody to get the idea that America is the land of plenty. Well, it is, but only if you have plenty to begin with. HR 1, the budget bill the TeaPublicans want so badly, is just the start. Paul Ryan, their budget king, plans to eliminate Medicaid, forcing the elderly to navigate the nearly impossible bullshit the insurance companies throw out to pretend their on our side.

Make no mistake about it — none of these folks, not the TeaPublicans, not the banksters, not the insurance companies, not the Defense Department and not the conservative media that spreads their lies — are even remotely on our side. They are not here with the idea of helping one another out. They are here for one thing and one thing only: To make money. Nothing else, and I do mean nothing, matters at all.

Democrats, deluded as they are, are completely lost. They get their money from the same places. I can image that somewhere inside their denial-wracked brains is a monumental fight for supremacy between their Money-Money-Money minds and their progressive, we’re all in this together minds. Guess which one will win?

And do you know why? It’s because my colleagues are just as fucked up as they are, and they’re refusing to tell the truth, likely because they don’t even know it anymore. Even when they do tell the truth, they pretend it’s just another opinion, along with the lies they repeat from the conservatives.

We’re heading down a very ugly road to ruin. What the TeaPublicans want is a return to the hideous inequality of the Gilded Age, the age of the Robber Barons, because that’s what they are — Robber Barons, and their victims are you and me and anyone else who isn’t like them.

They hit upon the perfect ploy. Create a faux populist movement — the Tea Party, funded by them — and convince America that the Tea Party was Real America. Worked like a charm, thanks to my idiotic colleagues, who couldn’t even be bothered to remember that the real Tea Party, the one in Boston in the 18th century, was a protest against corporate profits. How fucking ironic.

I’m in the most pessimistic mood I’ve seen in quite some time. I see no way out of this. The Great Black Hope, Barack Obama, turned out to be a sniveling coward. Well, at least he’s not a real Republican. Maybe we would have been better off if McCain had won, had his fatal heart attack and left Sarah Palin to kill us off. At least it would have been over with already.

What we need is a real leader — not one of these immature, schoolyard bullies who fancies him or herself a leader — but one who sees where we need to go and takes us there kicking and screaming. I don’t see one of those on the horizon, and I doubt I will until we have hit bottom. Because hitting bottom is what it takes sometimes for us to really understand just how bad it is and how far off course we’ve gone.

And once we do reach the depths of our despair, I have no doubt that the leader we need will come along, because, well, progress happens. It can’t be stopped. It can be slowed, set back and delayed. But change happens. Real change, too, not the promises of politicians, but the change that is absolutely necessary for the species.

 

The check’s in the mail and other lies

Politicians lie on a daily basis. Some of their lies are bigger than others, some hardly register at all. And some they’ve told so often that those of us still using our brains know full well they’re bullshit.

Unfortunately, my dear colleagues appear to have just fallen off the turnip truck this morning — or whatever morning the latest whopper came out — and believe everything they see and hear.

That’s what those unscrupulous SOBs are counting on — except they were only targeting the “real Americans” who can’t be bothered with actually looking into the veracity of any given statement themselves. Plus, these guys lie with such abandon that it really is difficult to keep up.

But I imagine the must be beside themselves with glee that my beloved colleagues are exactly the same, except they have cameras and newsprint and broadcast waves to propagate their stenography. Overpaid steno pool girls, the lot of ‘em.

So, in case you’re having any difficulty discerning the truth, I’ve compiled a handy scorecard.

It’s all about the budget

Really? So that’s why Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican apparatchiks stripped all the actual budgetary measures out of their bill so they could pass the two pieces they really wanted: busting the union and setting up the sale of Wisconsin’s nuke plants to people like the Koch Brothers, who, incidentally, were big funders of Walker’s campaign. And since Walker et al were so successful, now we’re seeing a whole slew of union busting bills in state legislatures, all sans budgetary measures. All about the budget? No. All about busting unions and making rich people richer.

There is no danger from violent, right-wing extremists

Really? That’s because the folks saying that want to keep that option open, and the best way to do that is to deny it exists. And besides, these are people who regularly tout “Second
Amendment remedies” to solve the problems in their minds, when they’re not misrepresenting actual history and geography. But it’s a lie. Why, just recently, Seattle police arrested a white supremacist and charged him with planting a backpack full of explosives along the route of the city’s Martin Luther King Day march route. And that’s just the latest. Meanwhile, conservatives float fake videos to make the protests in Wisconsin look violent and whine that the “rhetoric” will end with somebody getting hurt. No kidding. Just that it’s their side with the violent rhetoric. Meanwhile, my colleagues can’t get past the false equivalency “both sides do it” lie.

And speaking of fake videos …

James O’Keefe caught NPR with its pants down

Really? James O’Keefe? The guy who has never once put out a video he didn’t edit dramatically to tell the story he wanted to tell? Now, it’s already been said that Ron Schiller said some things he shouldn’t have — even after the full video has been seen. But it’s also clear that O’Keefe moved things around and left out others to make it much worse than it was. Again. You didn’t hear, for example, Schiller tell the faux Muslims that they cannot buy the kind of coverage they were seeking from NPR. Nor did we hear that the most egregious things he said were quotes from Republican donors — he did not dispute them, but they were not his original thoughts.

Here is the pattern: “Sting” somebody, edit the tape and put it out, my colleagues will jump all over it, a knee-jerk reaction will cost jobs and funding, release the full video when the message is already out and it’s too late, claim you were being open and transparent when what you were really doing is putting out fodder for Republicans in Congress.

Here’s what these videos are about: Defunding and discrediting non-conservative organizations — generally any organization that does something other than promoting the aggregation of wealth at the top of the food chain and especially not organizations that try to help those at the bottom — preferably ones that generally have a good reputation in the real mainstream. ACORN was the test case, an easier mark. NAACP, Planned Parenthood, CNN, NPR. Let’s see, who could be next? They’re not very fond of AARP for supporting the “job-killing” health care reform bill. The American Cancer Society? The Red Cross? Public Citizen? The Children’s Defense Fund? The League of Women voters? CBS? The New York Times?

Here’s more proof to the lie: Wingnut Sen. Jim DeMented was ranting this week about NPR executives making more money than the president and that if they can afford to pay their CEOs more than the prez, they ought not have federal funding. Really? Public broadcasting’s chief execs made about $600,000 for one and $1.2 million for the other, compared to the president’s $400,000.  That is a lot. But, Sen. DeMented, what about all those bank execs who make tens of millions into the billions and got bailout money?

In the federal government, the president makes about 25 times the lowest paid employees. In the private world, the last number we saw on that came from several years ago — 263 times the little people. And that all came in the last, oh, 30 years. Since Reagan. Before that, about 25:1. With a higher tax rate on the higher portions of income that kept government going.

But I guess that’s to be expected now that the “Me” generation, ushered in by Saint Ronnie, has morphed into the crotchety old “Me First, Fuck the Rest of You” generation.

James O’Keefe? Just a tool.

Speaking of “job-killing” …

The Republican budget will create jobs

Really? Then why do all independent estimates of the effect on jobs of the GOP budget say it will cost jobs? Upwards of a million? Yeah, the Republican budget will create jobs. In India, China and Mexico. Again, because that’s what it’s all about — making labor costs cheaper for the rich people, cutting the taxes on the rich people and making sure they don’t have to pay for a goddamned thing.

Republicans are on the side of the little people, the “real” Americans

Really? Anyone who still believes that is … well, never mind. But get your freakin’ head out of the sand.

Everything else — the abortion debate, the gay debate, the immigration debate, the foreign affairs debate (well, partly on that one — some of that debate is aimed at limiting tax dollars going to foreign countries, except for the ones we like, and therefore reducing the tax burden on the rich), every last one of ‘em is just a smokescreen for the real agenda — increasing the wealth of the wealthy.

The conservatives were mighty pissed off at the end of the Robber Baron era, and now that we’re more than a century gone from that and only stupid liberals actual think about how history informs the present, it’s time to bring it back.

The bottom line is that it’s still all about greed. As I’ve said over and over, I don’t understand why anyone would need all that money, except to be extravagant, and even then, you’d have a ton left over. For what? Kinda makes me laugh — all the right wing conspiracy theories about a liberal New World Order in which the rich people collude with the government to run the world — that’s what’s happening. Except it’s a conservative New World Order. And in that, the conspiracy theorists are right — it’s dangerous and very bad for the people.


I know you are, but what am I?

Remember back during the previous administration when Karl Rove derogatorily dubbed us “the reality-based community?” Ah, those were the days, when up was down, right was wrong and Saddam Hussein had the Bomb.

Except he didn’t, it wasn’t and we have only gotten worse since George W gave up cowboyin’ and brush-cuttin’ for a gated community outside Dallas and the socialist-fascist Muslim black guy from Kenya moved into the White House.

It’s not all his fault, of course. Some of it is. Like this headline I read just this morning saying Obama as gonna cut the cord on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, because the Republicans say those programs were responsible for our current mortgage crisis, and lord knows, if the Republicans say it often enough, then we know it must be true despite the complete lack of evidence.

Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts. Never have, never will.

There’s likely a dozen reasons the president does shit like that all the damn time, most apparently having to do with this delusion he has that the Republicans actually give a good goddamn about cooperating in the governing of the country, or even doing the right thing. They don’t, on either account, and they’ve made it quite clear.

The real problem here, though, is not that the president is operating under such a delusion, but that my colleagues are. See, if we had actual journalists operating in Washington instead of a bunch of preening gasbags who like to fancy themselves “experts,” they’d be asking some real questions that would make these bozos we’ve elected to “represent” us squirm.

Because they don’t have the answers.

Yes, my friends. We’ve got us one super deluxe extra large humongous case of an entire government full of emperors with not one stitch of clothing.

No worries, though, cuz my beloved colleagues ain’t about to bite the hand that feeds ‘em.

But boy if they did. Can you imagine? What if somebody said to John Boehner, “Mr. Speaker, why are you so hell-bent on repealing the Affordable Health Care Act when polls show a sad minority want that, and in fact most Americans are fine with the act as it is or think it doesn’t go far enough?”

Here’s another one. Let’s ask this one of the secretary of state. “Madame Secretary, why are you standing back and quietly allowing Hosni Mubarak to pretend he’s going to make changes when all he’s doing is replacing one set of cronies with another?”

And here’s one for my colleagues: What the bloody hell is wrong with you? It is painfully obvious to everyone who isn’t you that whatever is going on up there that you’re supposed to be the bloody watchdog for is AFU, and yet you blythely go along pretending everything is all hunky-dory.

Breaking news: Washington is broken, America’s people are slowly bleeding to death and you’re getting your tuxes ready for the next White House correspondents’ dinner, preferably one with a bland and boring comedian who doesn’t mention any embarrassing truths about how much you suck at your jobs.

This ain’t rocket science. If you can’t look around and see for yourselves the ruins of a once-decent democracy, then I gotta tell ya, I’m worried about your sanity. Been watching too much Glenn Beck? Speaking of whom, dear colleagues o’ mine, tell the truth — the man is batshit insane. So is Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMented, that loon Christine O’Donnell who still thinks of herself as someone to be taken seriously.

The problem of course is that people do take these nuts seriously. And why? Because, beloved colleagues, you suck at your jobs. You won’t challenge these people when they lie. You won’t ask the questions that will make them defend the indefensible. You just let it all keep going as if it actually makes sense.

NewsFlash: It makes no sense whatsoever. Anybody with half a brain should be able to tell that the Republican “budget” plans won’t create a single job but will guarantee that the rich, already obscenely rich, will just get richer — and that’s the plan! Drown government in the bathtub! Seriously, do you think it’s just coincidence that the spread between CEO and worker pay has ballooned in the past 30 years? Used to be 20 to 1 or so. Now? closer to 500 to 1. Base wages for us little people have been stagnant in that time. Not so for the rich guys. And still, we just blinked away the renewal of ridiculous tax cuts for those who need them the least, while money that could actually help American citizens who desperately need it is stuck up the asses of constipated politicians.

Yes, politicians. We have no legislators, only politicians. Nobody is working for the common welfare. Every damn one of them is working for re-election, doing and saying whatever they think will get them the most votes, all the while swearing they are the spiritual descendants of the founding fathers.

The founding fathers are rolling in their graves.

That’s another one for my colleagues. Stop letting people who clearly have no clue whatsoever about the history of their country or the documents it was founded on pretend they do. Call them out. When they dress up in colonial outfits and call themselves the “tea party,” remind them that the original tea party was a protest against a too cozy relationship between government and a corporation. Stop breathlessly reporting every incoherent utterance of the Quitta from Wasilla as if it matters. It doesn’t. She isn’t going to run for president and she would lose badly if she did. She’s just out to make a buck, which, apparently, is the only thing that actually matters in this godforsaken country anymore.

It certainly isn’t protecting human rights, not of our own citizens or anybody else’s. See Egypt, democracy and Egypt, dictatorship. Which one has a picture of a smiling Uncle Sam?

On what planet is waterboarding not torture? Oh, right. THIS ONE.

Evolution? Yeah, a theory. Like relativity. Like gravity. Like, as in SCIENCE. Quit pretending to not “believe in” evolution is just another opinion. It’s called IGNORANCE. And speaking of ignorance, don’t get me started on religion.

There are still some good journalists out there. But they’re too busy shivering out in the freezing cold so they can bring you the shocking news that it snows in the winter in the Midwest. But those pretenders inside the Beltway? They’ve lost their way — and the truly sad part is that they don’t even know they have. But the part that pisses me off is that their bosses, who really should know better, are just as deluded.

It’s no wonder the “real Americans,” and by that I mean actual real Americans, not the narrow slice of Americana that conservatives see as the only real Americans, are as sick of us journos as they are of the callous and uncaring professional politician set. Two sides, same coin. And stamped in worthless tin.

I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

Gosh, I’m having a tough day. I’d really like to make fun of the new Miss America, 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska, who plans to go to a Christian law school for home schooled students (wow, can you imagine the intense constitutional knowledge there?) and then become a judge and later a politician, but it just seems so grotesquely unfair, not too mention easy.

I don’t know what else to say about Tucson, except that I’m still laughing over the overeager right’s attack on the closed captions on the McKale Center’s jumbotron. Seems the idiots thought that when the CC said “applause” it was a cue for the people at the center to applaud, rather than a clue to deaf people in attendance what was going on. I mean, it’s not like the University of Arizona put on all its information going out about the memorial that it would have closed captions. Oh wait, the university did do that.

I’m tired of talking about Sarah Palin. Of course, I’ve been tired of talking about Sarah Palin for months. So, why do I do that, you ask? I’m glad you did. It’s because my brain dead colleagues salivate over her every illiterate and asinine remark, as if she actually has something valuable to add to the discourse. This, of course, leads far too many to believe she does, because they don’t yet understand that most of my colleagues are brain dead. And because the political overlords at my place of employment are utterly terrified the Divine Mrs. P (interesting — I was just reminded of an S&M bar that once existed in Atlanta called Mrs. P’s, I have no idea why) might refuse to speak with them ever again (although I don’t think she does now) , I lose every battle I fight about that. Here, then, is where I can tell the truth. And besides, I love a good laugh as much as the next joker.

I’m almost to the point of hoping the pessimistic predictions of the world’s demise in 2012 will be correct. It would only be merciful. But my fondest hope is that a radical change of consciousness is what’s meant by the end of the current long count of the Mayan calendar — and “end of the world as we know it” kind of scenario, rather than and end of the world period thing. But my worst nightmare about it is that nothing at all happens on December 21, 2012, and the Mayan calendar just enters the next b’ak’tun as if it meant nothing at all.

Our political system is hopeless broken, but you know that. Nobody in Washington is willing to do anything about, and my colleagues are completely blind to it. On the other hand, the country has survived other times when the political system appeared on the brink of bringing it down. Maybe it will again. Sadly, there’s no sign of that. If that were going to happen soon, the Republicans would have no longer been a political party after 2008. Instead, the worst excuse for an opposition party, once fully in control, rolled over and died, allowing the most corrupt and uncaring party — the party of wealth and robber barons — to ascend again.

Must.Get.Out.Of.This.Funk.

I am nearly always wrong in my political predictions, mostly because I’m rather pessimistic about it myself, and whenever I think it’s at its worst, this country surprises me. That, of course, makes me more pessimistic about it, because then I’m convinced that it can’t happen again.

But I’m only pessimistic about the short term. The long term, well, that’s already sewn up. Progress happens. The question is just how far down the conservatives will drag us, how low our bottom will be, before we collectively shake off the horrors of this last cycle of sickness and start to drag ourselves out of the mud. We used to be much admired. We’re not now, except in the delusions of the conserverati — you know, the ones who now say that Iraq should be paying us for “liberating” it. Right. That’s why they call them delusions.

I suppose it’s still possible for us to restore ourselves as a great country, an admired country — a trusted country. But that’s not gonna happen as long as we keep trying to bury the embarrassment that was WikiLeaks by refusing to deal with what those cables say about us. Yo, Wolf Blitzer. Brian Williams. All of you — I’m talkin’ to you. Quit pretending it’s some national scandal that the cables were leaked. The national scandal is what an arrogant playground bully we are.

President Obama is gonna deliver the State of the Union soon. He’s probably gonna go all austerity on us. And I thought he was a smart guy. IQ seems to drop dramatically inside the Beltway. Ever notice that?

And that reminds me of another idiocy I heard from the right — somebody noticed that Obama is grayer than he once was, and the right said he was dying his hair gray for some reason. I guess they never noticed Bill Clinton or GW Bush as their hair got grayer. Or maybe they thought that Ronald Reagan’s jet black dye was the real thing.

Hell, my hair gets grayer every day, more on some days than others. I figure it’s just because I’m in a constant state of feeling like I’m on a never-ending roller coaster.

Ah, but it’s really just one of those days. I’ll get past it. I always do.

The consequences of language

Sarah Palin didn’t shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head.

Michelle Bachmann didn’t kill Giffords’ outreach director, the newly engaged Gabe Zimmerman.

Rush Limbaugh didn’t kill U.S. District Court Judge John Roll.

Glenn Beck didn’t kill 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, born on 9/11/2001.

Not a single Tea Partier, including Giffords’ November opponent Jesse Kelly, had anything to do with the deaths of six people and the wounding of 12 others Saturday outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona.

None of them are guilty of the crimes perpetrated that morning, but none of them are innocent either. Each and every one of them made what happened there possible.

From Bachmann’s call for her constituents to be “armed and dangerous” to Palin’s rifle crosshairs over Giffords’ district on a map to Limbaugh’s daily bigoted and anti-anything that isn’t him rhetoric to Beck’s utter insanity to the Tea Party’s much-vaunted “second amendment remedies” and Kelly’s “join me to target Giffords and shoot a fully automatic rifle” campaign event, they’re all as responsible for what happened Saturday as Jared Loughner is.

More so, because unlike Loughner, they’re all in adult positions of responsibility and should know better. Loughner, obviously a little light in the loafers, may not even have heard any of the Ridiculous Right’s outrageous rhetoric. But because they said it, and because my colleagues let them say it without challenging them and pretended “both sides” were doing the same thing, well, are you really surprised by what happened Saturday? Not if you have half a brain.

And what I found most amusing was that all the usual suspects, from Palin and Bachmann to Mitch McConnell and Eric “Somebody shot a bullet somewhere and it accidentally fell into a window where some consultants of mine have an office so I’ve been threatened too” Cantor, all came rushing out to condemn this terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms, as if their own mouths hadn’t been encouraging it for the past two years.

What a joke.

Clearly, Jared Loughner’s lights are on but nobody’s home. His video ramblings make no sense. His attempts at logic are laughably embarrassing. He champions grammar and calls the citizens of Giffords’ district “illiterate” but has quite a few problems structuring sentences himself.  He’s hopelessly caught up in the libertarian boondoggle of the gold and silver standard — a Beck specialty, by the way. He’s no great intellect — although he appears to imagine himself one — and his political meanderings are so incomprehensible that it’s quite impossible to put a solid political label on him.

That doesn’t stop my colleagues though. And in a sense, it’s perfect for them, since they’re all besides themselves, as usual, with their frantic efforts to convince us all, in their morally lecturing tones, that “both sides” need to tone down the bullshit, as if progressives are out there saying that if elections don’t go our way, if Congress doesn’t do what we want, well, then, we’ll have no choice but to exercise our 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms and do something about our grievances.

No, that kind of rhetoric is found only on the right, and here’s why: That kind of rhetoric only comes out when people believe they are cornered, trapped with no where to go but to fight. Doesn’t have to be true. They just have to believe it is.

And here’s what we have: A Ridiculous Right that absolutely refuses to move forward with the rest of society.

They’re not cornered at all. They’re being left behind. The mouths are just paper tigers, ladies and gentlemen. They wouldn’t have the guts to actually do anything violent if their lives depended on it.

But they don’t have to, because there will always be Jared Loughners and Jim David Atkissons and James Von Brunns and Byron Williamses and Richard Poplawskis and Greg Giustis and Charles Wilsons, simpletons with no real ability to think for themselves and plenty of capacity to seek vengeance for any perceived wrong at all — and in the most violent way possible.

And all the little right wing websites are even now circling their wagons to proclaim that there’s not a shred of evidence that Loughner was influenced by any of their maniacal leaders. That’s so beside the point.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik  has already accused by the right of trying to exploit the shootings for political gain because he said this:

Today, I hope all Americans are as saddened as shocked as we are. I hope some of them are as angry as I am. I think it’s time as a country that we need to do a little soul searching. The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out by people in the radio business and some in the TV business, this has not become the nice United States of America that we grew up in, and I think its time we do the soul-searching.

and this:

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. And that’s the sad thing of what’s going on in America. Pretty soon, we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.

and this:

Let me just say one thing, because people tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech. But it’s not without consequences.

Of course they did, because they do not believe in consequences. I’ve already talked about the ridiculousness of not “believing in” things that are facts. The truth here is that they do not accept the consequences are are in denial about them.

So this is just the natural consequence of the garbage these people have been spewing. Again — doesn’t matter if Jared Loughner ever even heard them. Doesn’t matter what his real political persuasion is (although I must point out that he was attempting to assassinate a Democratic congresswoman). What matters is the atmosphere these people who like to say they’re the adults in the room create.

Here’s a hint: It’s poison. The very air we breathe has been contaminated by violent rhetoric.

And here’s what I hope. I hope that this incident opens the eyes of enough people that we can really put an end to this insanity. No, I know it’s not gonna be Bachmann, Palin, etc. Hell, Palin’s spokeswoman is one of those who condemned what Dupnik said. I guess so, after the crosshairs thing. But there are people who’ve had blinders on, pretending none of this really that bad. And I hope to god they see this for what it is — the consequences of language.

If they don’t, the next one’s gonna be even worse.

What we’re not telling you

My colleagues spend so much time on whatever shiny object the spinmeisters in Washington flash before their eyes that they often miss the real news. And besides, the real news is often much harder to get, requiring actual journalism, and harder still to explain its importance to an American populace that can’t get its eyes off Lindsay Lohan in rehab or the latest American Idol squabbles.

Project Censored pays attention. And here are the top 25 underreported stories of 2009-2010.

1. Global Plans to Replace the Dollar

2. US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet

3. Internet Privacy and Personal Access at Risk

4. ICE Operates Secret Detention and Courts

5. Blackwater (Xe): The Secret US War in Pakistan

6. Health Care Restrictions Cost Thousands of Lives in US

7. External Capitalist Forces Wreak Havoc in Africa

8. Massacre in Peruvian Amazon over US Free Trade Agreement

9. Human Rights Abuses Continue in Palestine

10. US Funds and Supports the Taliban

11. The H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating Data to Enrich Drug Companies

12. Cuba Provided the Greatest Medical Aid to Haiti after the Earthquake

13. Obama Cuts Domestic Spending and Increases Military Corporate Welfare

14. Increased Tensions with Unresolved 9/11 Issues

15. Bhopal Water Still Toxic Twenty-five Years After Deadly Gas Leak

16. US Presidents Charged with Crimes Against Humanity as Universal Jurisdiction Dies in Spain

17. Nanotech Particles Pose Serious DNA Risks to Humans and the Environment

18. The True Cost of Chevron

19. Obama Administration Assures World Bank and International Monetary Fund a Free Reign of Abuse

20. Obama’s Charter School Policies Spread Segregation and Undermine Unions

21. Western Lifestyle Continues Environmental Footprint

22. 1.2 Billion People in India to be Given Biometric ID Cards

23. Afghan War: Largest Military Coalition in History

24. War Crimes of General Stanley McChrystal

25. Prisoners Still Brutalized at Gitmo

I wish I liked you more, but you don’t make it easy

I think I’ve probably told you before that I’m just not very fond of people. They tend to be entirely too demanding, whiny, bitchy, stupid or willfully ignorant for my tastes, not to mention closed-minded and dogmatic. They have really bad habits of doing things like calling 911 because of bad manicures or poor service at the McDonald’s drive-thru. It’s all just so very frustrating and disappointing.

I used to think it was me, that I was too picky and snobbish. But that’s just so much bullshit. It really is OK to have high standards for the right to speak with me. Life is really too, too short for it be otherwise.

I am fairly tolerant of people who don’t make the grade, though. I’m not rude or anything. I just move on as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, in my line of work, I’m faced with idiocy and the like much more than I care to. Like the other day when all those holiday travelers got so much cable air time to whine and bitch and moan about their air travel not being perfect. In a fucking blizzard.

Now, I know it isn’t pleasant to be  cooped up in a jet cabin for 11 hours. I don’t wish that on anybody, really I don’t. But y’know, shit happens. Blizzards generally screw up travel pretty badly, and when one slams in on a holiday weekend, it’s really gonna wreak havoc. And I also believe that somebody, somehow, could have alleviated some of the suffering caused by being stuck on an airplane on the tarmac in a blizzard.

But my colleagues, bored as they were, devoted hours to these folks, which I guess is much more interesting to Americans than a crisis in Ivory Coast, where the incumbent president has declared himself the winner of an election he didn’t win and refuses to vacate for the real winner. After all, it’s only Africa, and the people who are dying in the protests are just Africans.

Nah, whiny Americans are more important. And Brett Favre’s $50K fine. And the guy who read his wife’s e-mail and has now been arrested on some terrorism related charge or something.

Surely not as important as a coming election in Sudan — again, just Africa, right? Oh, and Sudan’s president, charged with war crimes but nobody will arrest him, says he’ll pull out of peace talks unless a deal is reached today.

Didja know Pakistan’s president is holding crisis talks with one of his coalition partners — a party that withdrew its ministers from his government? Man, Pakistan is really tense. But it’s not like they have nuclear weapons or al Qaeda hiding out in their wild west like provinces.

Don’t get me wrong. I can dig me some water cooler news with the best of ‘em. And I don’t mind “hard hitting” reporters digging the dirt on the Maine ski lift that was operating in high winds while not asking the potential skiers why the hell they wanted to be trying to ski down a mountain in 50 mph winds. For a few minutes.

I know I’m in the minority, but I get sad thinking about it sometimes. And then I wholly understand why Americans have so little understanding of their own country, their own government, and why they so readily accept bullshit from the bullshit purveyors like Faux News and the radio Rambos.

But I don’t have to like it. Or them.