Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Staying sane.

If you're like me, you're looking for anything that might bring a little sunshine into these cloudy days. I've been listening to a lot more music and a lot less news lately, partly because I finally joined the masses and bought an iPod, and partly because the news makes me want to smear honey all over my body and toss myself to the bears.

This weekend I loaded up over 1000 songs on my new iPod. This morning I plugged it into my car stereo, hit shuffle and off I went, running on an admittedly eclectic and sometimes weird mix of Miles Davis, Drive-by Truckers, Tom Waits, Dave Edmunds, The Dixiecups, Coldplay, Count Basie, the White Stripes and Big Joe Turner.

Much better than the news.

Another reason not to jump from a high place: I'm writing every day and should have this novel ready to send out by Christmas. I don't even know if my agent is still interested in being my agent, and I don't care. I will have this book done. And it's good.

I think.

For those of you who care (both of you), this comes after almost 3 years of not writing anything more challenging than this blog. Now I'm writing 300-400 words a day, more on weekends. It's not a lot, but it's moving the rock up the hill.

That's my narcissistic post for the day. Yes, the Planet is all about me and I apologize.

For those of you looking for something a bit more entertaining, here's a short list stolen from the Atlantic, who adapted it from a book by Eric Hanson called A Book of Ages: An Eccentric Miscellany of Great Moments in the Lives of the Famous and Infamous, Ages 1 to 100 (Harmony Books). Make me feel less guilty for stealing it and buy a copy.

I like this list because it reminds me how easily our lives are changed completely by small, random acts. If I had to pinpoint my time it was when, on a whim, I went on an audition for summer theater and met the woman who would be my wife.

If you want to play, tell us about a seemingly insignificant event that took your life in a new direction.

Now, in no particular order, is the (heavily-edited) list:

1. Keith Richards is evacuated from suburban London to escape German buzz bombs, 1944.

2. Sigmund Freud sees his mother naked, 1859.

3. Alfred Hitchcock’s father sends him down to the police station with a note instructing the officer in charge to lock him in a cell for five minutes, circa 1905.

4. Proust suffers his first asthma attack, circa 1881.

5. Martin Luther King Jr. sings in a boys choir at the premiere of Gone With the Wind in Atlanta, 1939.

6. Giacomo Casanova experiences his first orgasm, 1736.

7. Joan of Arc begins to hear voices, 1424.

8. After twirling lassos in Disney’s Frontierland and pricing hats in Adventureland, Steve Martin gets a job doing magic tricks in Fantasyland, 1960.

9. Clyde Barrow meets Bonnie Parker, 1930.

10. Ho Chi Minh is working as a pastry cook at the Carlton Hotel in London, circa 1916.

11. Thomas Lanier Williams shuttles from New Orleans to California, Missouri, and New York; along the way, he adopts his college nickname of Tennessee, 1939.

12. Adolf Hitler grows a mustache, 1919.

13. Gertrude Stein meets Alice B. Toklas, 1907.

14. Charles Manson buys a copy of the Beatles’ White Album, 1968.

15. For a television special, broadcast from Hawaii, Elvis Presley commissions a special patriotic caped jumpsuit with a sequined eagle, 1973.

16. Ian Fleming vacations in Jamaica with his mistress, 1948. While there he purchases a copy of Birds of the West Indies, by the ornithologist James Bond.

17. John Lennon and Yoko Ono have a session with Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibowitz. The most famous image is of John nude and in the fetal position embracing Yoko, who is fully clothed. That evening, Lennon is shot dead by a deranged fan, 1980.

18. Paul Newman’s name turns up on President Nixon’s secret enemies list, 1973.

19. Abraham Zapruder makes a keepsake film of John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as it passes the book depository in Dallas, Texas, 1963.

20. Jack Welch retires after 20 years as chairman and CEO of General Electric, taking with him a retirement package paying for telephone and computer service at his five homes; flowers, food, wine, and waitstaff when he’s in New York; memberships at three country clubs; Red Sox, Yankees, and Knicks tickets; a box at the Metropolitan Opera; very nice seats at Wimbledon, the French Open, and the U.S. Open tennis tournaments; and dry cleaning, for the rest of his life, 2001.

21. Hunter S. Thompson invents “shotgun golf” at Owl Farm, in Woody Creek, Colorado, 2004.

22. Robert Frost gets the young Truman Capote fired from his job at The New Yorker after he walks out of one of Frost’s poetry readings, 1944.

23. George Plimpton appears as a corrupt spelling-bee emcee in episode 303 ofThe Simpsons, 2003.

24. Poet Marianne Moore throws out the first pitch at the Yankees’ season opener, 1968.

25. Dame Agatha Christie complains that Miss Marple is nothing like Margaret Rutherford, who portrays her in the film versions of Christie’s novels, 1974.

26. Walter Cronkite maintains an office and a staff of four at CBS headquarters in New York. He has a consulting contract with the network, but is rarely consulted. He thinks about writing a blog, 2005.

27. Julia Child decides to give her Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen to the Smithsonian, 2001.

28. John D. Rockefeller Sr. watches as half of the family fortune is lost in the stock-market crash of 1929. But there’s still enough Rockefeller money to found the Museum of Modern Art, build Rockefeller Center, restore colonial Williamsburg, and buy enough of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a national park.

29. Bandleader Artie Shaw dies, 2004. His obituary in The New York Times bears the byline of a reporter who died in 2002.

30. Dr. Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, celebrates his 100th birthday, 2006.

That's it for now. My advice is, seek out good news today. As the punchline to my father's favorite joke goes: I know there's a pony in there somewhere.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Now, even mall-rat tweeners can sport that combat veteran look.

This is the patch for the First Infantry Division, famously called The Big Red One. It's an iconic patch, one that veterans wear with pride.

And it's just been sold to Sears.

According to Stars and Stripes:

The Army licensed the 1st ID insignia to All American Apparel in June 2007, according to Army spokesman Paul Boyce. Under the licensing agreement, the Army will receive royalties on any profits beginning in 2009.

Civilians have worn military insignia as fashion for decades. often with an eye for irony. Even I wore my old field jacket for many winters and it still sports my unit patch on the shoulder.

But that's because it was my unit. My uncle was in the Fifth Marine Division, but I wouldn't wear the eagle, globe and anchor on my lapel. My nephew was in the 101st, but I wouldn't feel right sewing a Screaming Eagle to my shirt.

I won't even get into the whole militaristic bent to our society, with people supporting the troops in every way they can except, you know, enlisting, or paying for the war, or anything that requires more sacrifice than slapping a magnet onto the back of the SUV.

And now, all those Cheeto-stained keyboard warriors of the right wing can wear the Big Red One on their Sears cammies. All it takes is mom's credit card.

I'm not the only one who is uncomfortable selling a unit patch to a clothing line. From the Stars and Stripes piece:

Joe Argenzio lied about his age and joined the Army as a 16-year-old during World War II. He soon found himself with the 1st ID just in time for D-Day. On June 6, 1944, he was among the first Allied troops to hit the French coast.

The division, its history and its patch all mean "an awful lot," he said ... "I don’t like it to be commercialized," he said. "My father would turn over in his grave."

Some active-duty soldiers also disagree with the patch’s commercial use.

"Unless someone’s related somehow [to a unit], they shouldn’t wear it," said Pvt. Chris Latona, 19, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s Special Troops Battalion out of Bamberg, Germany. "It’s not like a sports team."

So what do you think? Do you find this news just a little creepy and disrespectful? Or am I just feeling crankier than usual on a Monday?

Talk to me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why doesn't this make me feel better?

This is Kathleen Parker, one of those hot-combed honeys of the right wing. I was first introduced to Ms. Parker's column in The Orlando Sentinel, a reliable bastion of crazy conservative bloviation.

You know her tone even if you don't know her writing. It's that trademarked brand of smug condescension, dripping with derision, almost always served up by blondes of various stages of hotness, from mannish Ann Coulter to batshit loony Laura Ingraham.

According to that headshot up there, taken through what appears to be a quarter inch of vaseline, Kathleen is better looking than either of those two harridans, which makes me wonder why she doesn't get more Fox News time. After all, she has a book to sell that slams Obama.

So, maybe her voice is hard on the ears, although it would be tough to top Laura Ingraham in ear-bleeding awfulness.

Perhaps I'm being too hard on Ms. Parker, particularly since she's written something that will make her a pariah at the next Limbaugh lawn party.

She thinks Sarah Palin is unfit for office. That's right.

Here's an excerpt from her most recent column in the National Review:

"...it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion...

Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there... If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

...McCain can't repudiate his choice for running mate...Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country."

Wow. Palin should resign. That's not going to snag any invites to the spring moose hunt. But after this bit of Palinizationalism, I think Kathleen might have a point.

As Dave Letterman said, "Something doesn't smell right."

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state."

And now one for the kids.

I don't know who's responsible for this, but the drinks are on me, any time.

I stole this from my friends over at First Draft.

They didn't come up with it either.

For adults only.

No, this is not some cheap ploy to boost my hits. No, this is an appreciation for the grown-up in this race, the guy who said this about the financial crisis:

"First, I think everybody should be in agreement that we need to set up an independent board ... to provide oversight and accountability for how and where the money is going to be spent at every step of the way.

Second, if American taxpayers are financing the solution, they should be treated like investors. And that means that Wall Street and Washington should give every penny of taxpayers' money back once this economy recovers.

Third, we cannot and will not simply bail out Wall Street without helpings the millions of innocent homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. They deserve a plan, too. And, finally, this is one that's important.

The American people should not be spending one dime to reward the same Wall
Street CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess. We can't allow this plan to become a welfare program for Wall Street executives.

...There are times for politics, and then there are times to rise above politics, and do what's right for the country. And this is one of those times...No matter how this begun, this is no longer a Democratic or a Republican problem. It is an American problem. It requires an American solution...

...What I think is important, though, is that we don't suddenly infuse Capitol Hill with presidential politics at a time when we're in the middle of some very delicate and difficult negotiations."

I'll let you decide who the grown-up is.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time out for really big news.

I know you're all shocked.

As we face, according to Sarah Palin, another Great Depression, her running mate suspends his campaign and wants to reschedule Friday's debate (conveniently in place of next Thursday's VP debate), bombs are going off in Pakistan, Cheney is getting an Iranian itch in a place he can only scratch with the muzzle of a gun, the National Enquirer has more details of Sarah Palin's extramarital affair, this is the most disturbing news for some of Clay's fans.

Here, from Clay's fan site, is the anguished cry of a distraught Claymaniac:

"This is really shocking news as I had no idea he was gay," read a comment. "And now I have to deal with this. I am not sure what to say to people who know I was a fan. ... I didn't go to work today and am not answering the telephone."

Aw, life is full of tragedy.

Thanks to Scott Holmes for this. You can read more of Scott's worldly insight here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heckuva job, Mr. Bush.

The word for the day, children, is squander.

Mr. Bush has managed to squander the budget surplus, our credibility, our competence, the value of the dollar, our military, our moral standing, our ideals, our Constitutional heritage, our childrens' birthright, respect for the law and the economy in 8 short years. Although he had plenty of help, especially with that last one.

We have gone from a democracy to a plutocracy to a kleptocracy, all in a blink.

The cartoon is by the great Pat Oliphant, an Aussie by birth and my favorite political cartoonist since the mid-70's, even when he was skewering my guys.

As much as I hope the grown-ups win in November, I pity whoever it is who inherits the America George W Bush has left us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's not real, but it should be.

Yes, Heart asked John McCain to quit using their song, Barracuda, to introduce Sarah Palin, but the open letter you see above (click on it for a larger, easier-to-read, AARP-approved version) is from the Seattle newspaper The Stranger.

All I can say is, I'd like to buy the writer a drink.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Republican Economic Theory, part 2

I used to live across the street from a CPA which, by McCain/Palin standards, makes me an economist.

As we continue to unravel, I think we should put the blame where it rightfully belongs. That's with Milton Friedman.

Friedman was the brilliant University of Chicago economist who first came to popular attention with his libertarian response to Kennedy's famous line, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." He said, "Neither half of that statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society."

OK, I get it. Enlightened self-interest and all that. But I think it's bunk.

Yes, you can make a case that this is a sound philosophical foundation for a free society. But as it's been practiced on us, what we get is an intellectual shine on the same old turd of selfishness and greed.

You don't have an obligation to anyone but yourself, so why pay for public schools when you don't have any kids? Why pay for roads you don't use? Why pay for public transit when you own a car?

I've said before that my father raised us kids with a sense of obligation. He said that we had to serve a few years in the military because that's how you support a free country. It's what you owe.

I still believe that. Maybe not the military, but some service, some sacrifice for the good of the nation. But Friedman's GOP followers would say that anyone who serves for any other reason than enlightened self-interest is a sap. That's why there are so many chickenhawk College Republicans. Like Dick Cheney, they have other priorities.

And this is why I blame Milton Friedman for all that's gone wrong. It's not Milt so much as the men and women who have made his libertarian philosophy the cornerstone of their political action. Great theories are always debased when they meet the man on the street.

Take Phil Gramm's Miltonian jihad against regulation. You could argue that he just wanted to make the free market free. But, just look at what happened when that cowflop hit the American street.

There's no better place to get the worm's eye view of how we got into this economic mess than from this episode of This American Life. Go listen to the podcast. It's free.

And I don't mean free in a libertarian sense, so you can relax the grip on your wallet.

Economics 101

Do not let this man anywhere near money. Really, it's that simple.

That man about to eat that baby is Phil Gramm, former Texas senator and the guy named most often as Secretary of Treasury under a McCain administration.

If you enjoyed the drama on Wall Street last week and the thoughts of adding another trillion bucks to the national debt, Phil Gramm is your guy. You might remember Phil as the sympathetic fella who called us a nation of whiners a few weeks ago. But I prefer to remember him as the architect of the three most expensive economic fuck-ups ever to hit the American taxpayer.

In the 80's Phil worked to lift regulations on the banking industry that led directly to the S&L crisis. You remember, the crisis that held you and me up for a few gazillion dollars. Of course, not everyone suffered. People like Neil Bush, brother of George, did OK when Silverado went bust. But people not so well connected? Not so much.

Then Phil turned his laser-like economic acumen toward the energy industry. As his wife, Wendy, sat on the board of Enron, Phil worked his sausage-fat fingers to the bone stripping the industry of regulations (do we detect a pattern here?) and, well, you know what happened.

When Phil once again turned his doughy visage to banking, he passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which established financial holding companies and gutted the Glass-Steagall Act, which was passed during the Depression to protect us from guys like Phil Gramm.

Phil Gramm has been responsible, more than any other single person, of transferring a great deal of wealth away from people with little to the pockets of people with a lot. That's really Phil's greatest legacy, kind of a reverse Robin Hood.

And here we are today. I wish I had a joke to wrap this up, but as always happens when Phil Gramm enters the picture, the last laugh is on us.

Friday, September 19, 2008

James Crumley has moved on.

One of the last great characters in crime writing has left us. If you've never read the opening scene to the Mexican Tree Duck, you've missed some of the best goddamn writing in the genre.

He'll be missed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The answer to one of life's thirsty questions.

Is it laziness? Business? Ennui?

Perhaps a combination of all three. To keep you entertained, here's Why We Drink.

Again, I thank the Times for this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sad News.

Thanks to the New York Times for this.

Bullwinkle and his loyal friend, Rocket J. Squirrel, were a tremendous influence in my creative life. I mourn Bullwinkle's passing, as I know many of you mourn the untimely death of an American original.

Unless he was Canadian.

His last words were, "Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat."

Bullwinkle J. Moose. RIP.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sarah Palin banned my book.

When she was mayor, Sarah Palin insisted Beneath A Panamanian Moon be yanked from the library, dragged through town behind a Lincoln Navigator, stomped by meth addicts, shredded in a woodchipper, chewed on by pit bulls in lipstick, run through an incontinent moose and whizzed on by roid-raged high school hockey players.

Then, and only then, would the remains be squirted with lighter fluid and burned.

I promise this is as factual as McCain's campaign ads.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why we should remember this day.

As Mother Jones said, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

It is right and fitting that we take a moment to grieve for the victims of religious fanatics. But we should all remember that this day might have been avoided.

I'm reprinting part of an interview Richard Clarke gave The Guardian after he resigned in disgust. To refresh your memory, Clarke was the anti-terrorism czar under Bush senior, Clinton and then W. Here's Clarke on what I consider the biggest security failure in my lifetime:

Mr. Clarke wrote that when he briefed Ms Rice on al-Qaida, "her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before".

He said Mr Bush's failure to put his administration on "battle stations" in anticipation of an attack meant vital clues were missed. He compared his actions with those of former US president Bill Clinton in similar circumstances in late 1999.

"In December 99 we get similar kinds of evidence that al-Qaida was planning a similar kind of attack. President Clinton asks the national security adviser to hold daily meetings with the attorney-general, the CIA, FBI," Mr Clarke said.

"They go back to their departments from the White House and shake the epartments out to the field offices to find out everything they can find. It becomes the number one priority of those agencies.

When the head of the FBI and CIA have to go to the White House every day, things
happen and by the way, we prevented the attack [an al-Qaida millennium bomb plot
aimed at Los Angeles airport].

"Contrast that with June, July, August 2001, when the president is being briefed virtually every day in his morning intelligence briefing that something is about to happen, and he never chairs a meeting and he never asks Condi Rice to chair a meeting about what we're doing about stopping the attacks. She didn't hold one meeting during all those three months.

"Now, it turns out that buried in the FBI and CIA there was information about two of these al-Qaida terrorists who turned out to be hijackers [Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi]," he said. "The leadership of the FBI didn't know that, but if the leadership had to report on a daily basis ... to the White House, he would have shaken the trees and he would have found out those two guys were there. We would have put their pictures on the front page of every newspaper and we probably would have caught them."

"Now would that have stopped 9/11? I don't know. It would have stopped those two guys, and knowing the FBI the way they can take a thread and pull on it, they would probably have found others."

Mr Clarke concluded that "there was a chance" the whole plot could have been unravelled, "but they didn't take it".

When Mr. Clarke revealed this dangerous incompetence, the Bush administration did what it always does, it tried to destroy Clarke's reputation by attacking his motives and his character.

Since Clarke, other people have told their own stories about how this administration showed zero interest in terrorism before 9/11. Instead, they were fixated on Iraq.

I agree with Clarke when he says that there's no way of knowing if the attack could have been stopped, we only know that the Bush administration did nothing that could have stopped it.

And we know that after 9/11, when America turned to the president and asked with one voice, "What can we do?" he could have asked us to do anything, make any sacrifice, and we would have gladly signed on. He could have put this nation on an ambitious program to free ourselves of mideastern oil, which is what so many of us called for, but he didn't. No, he squandered an opportunity to unite us in anything larger than a consumer frenzy of shopping.

People say I'm angry and I suffer from BDS, and they're right. Because, when I hear some yahoo question whether I remember 9/11, I tell them, hell yes, I remember, but what I remember probably isn't the same thing you do. I remember something that didn't have to happen and I remember opportunities lost, all because some people voted for a guy they wanted to have a beer with.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why my fellow veterans should be marching away from John McCain.

It's accepted wisdom that the veteran vote will go for McCain because he's "one of us."

Tell it to John Kerry. A recipient of the Silver Star who got his ass waxed by a weekend warrior and a draft dodger.

Before I tell you why veterans should not vote for a fellow vet, let me make a few obligatory caveats. I would have voted for McCain 2000. Jenny would have, too. We liked him back then, before he forgave all the shameless and scurrilous attacks unleashed on him and his family by this guy.

In fact, McCain is so forgiving that he's hired their author, Tusker Askew, to be on his team. I guess it's true, as LBJ said, that it's better to have the guy inside the tent pissing out than it is to have the guy outside the tent pissing in.

On a personal note, Jenny's brother is a graduate of the Naval Academy and I've often been welcomed by him and other Academy grads at pistol shooting competitions and, last year, their annual Army-Navy football celebration. I've never been with those guys when I didn't have a great time and I was proud to be included in their company. I expect they'll vote for their fellow classmate and comrade. I can understand that.

But they shouldn't. McCain's record is abysmal.

1. McCain has consistently voted against increased funding for veterans' health care. He voted against 5 different bills that would have raised money for VA hospitals and outpatient care. Three times he voted against the funding because it would have been paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.

2. In 2003, he voted against providing National Guard units in Iraq with needed helmets, tents, body armor and tactical vests.

3. Again in 2003, he voted to kill an amendment that would provide 32 million for safety eqipment for troops in Iraq.

4. This year, he voted against the GI Bill for the 21st Century. McCain and Bush were against it because the bill required only 3 years of service before the educational benefit kicked in. They said too many men would be encouraged to leave the service after only 3 years, and they didn't think that was enough sacrifice. They disregarded recruiters who testified that the educational aspect of the bill would replace as many men as the military would lose. Bush finally removed his veto threat. What did McCain do? He didn't bother to show up and vote.

On the other hand, here's what Senator Obama's proposed for veterans:

1. S.1180 authorizing programs to help homeless vets.

2. S. 3988 to improve veterans benefits and require accountability in the war on terror.

3. S. 2358 requiring accountability on VA hospital quality.

4. S. 3475 providing housing assistance for low-income veterans.

5. An amendment to S. 3144 to increase assistance to homeless vets.

So veterans, families, and friends of vets, I'm asking, as a veteran, for you to look again at who really has your back. Is it McCain, who voted against body armor and bullets for men in the field, or Obama, who is trying to improve the lives of veterans while in theater and after they return home?

I think the answer is clear. But don't take my word for it. Look it up, do your homework, and then consider voting for the man, and not the uniform.

Carry on.

While I'm working...

...enjoy this bit of absolute brilliance from Political Irony.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

No politics today.

Today I'm passing on the ever inspirational political scene to pay my respects to my drinking buddy, Dusty Rhoades. This is his new book, Breaking Cover, a stand alone from his Jack Keller series but very much another chapter in his continuing redneck noir oeuvre.

A lot of other writers have already weighed in, and I don't want to cover well-worn ground, but Dusty does a couple of things in here that deserve some attention. One is the creation of a protagonist name Tony Wolf and yet, in my opinion, it's not really Tony who is central to the plot. That strong moral center belongs to Deputy Buckthorn, a small town cop who finds himself in the middle of a war between a rogue FBI agent, homicidal bikers with a sadistic streak as wide as Pamlico Sound, a treacherous mole within the bureau and a violent world fueled by meth, testosterone and cordite.

I say it's Buckthorn's story, even though Wolf is the near superhuman ass kicker, because Buckthorn is just an average guy who is asked to step up and do what has to be done, and I find that more compelling. But maybe that's just me.

Dusty also does a few interesting things like switching time and POV in the second part of the novel, but I think if we get back to Pine Lake again, it will be Buckthorn who takes us there.

But I could be wrong.

You can hear Dusty on The State of Things, a radio interview program out of WUNC. You can listen to it here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Welcome to Small Town USA, Sarah Palin, Mayor.

Once again, I apologize for being absent from my post, but this time it wasn't because of work. I've been woefully ill, projecting vile substances from my body by the quart, fore and aft. I'm better now, but still a little weak, so forgive me if I wander off.

While I was otherwise engaged, the Republicans found themselves their own celebrity in Sarah Palin, and I was right about this plucky little gal from the cold white north. She's set America's heart atwitter with her embodiment of small town values.

I love Sarah!

She doesn't like a book in the library, away with it! The librarian doesn't cater to the new rules, she can find a new job. Yeah, maybe you can work down at the Walmart, racking their carefully-vetted best sellers.

I love Sarah!

She lives those small town values that only those of us who grew up in small towns can truly cherish. Sarah embodies the decent, hard-working, kind and generous people of the small town. She conjures up Mayberry and Main Street in her toothy smile. She stands up for every humble American who is standing up for the little guy, as long as the little guy isn't a mackeral snapper, kike, nigger, wop, chink, wetback, frog, kraut, spic, greaser, fag, mick or polack.

I grew up in small towns and I know the decent people and I know the honest people. I also know the real values of small town America, and some of those values aren't so much Bedford Falls as they are Pottersville.

I've lived in the north and the south, the east, the west and the midwest. I can say without any hesitation that small towns, out of a very small and stagnant gene pool, produce a remarkably large number of bigots, morons, cretins, idiots, goons, and self-righteous moralizers.

I grew up hearing the most endearing terms for blacks, gays, foreigners and Jews. I could tell you jokes I heard in grade school that are so offensive I could be a toastmaster at a klan rally. And that right there makes me at least half Republican already.

But of all the small town values I've seen reflected in today's GOP, all the intolerance, narrow thinking and fear, the thing that I love most is the gossip. I love to wallow in the whispers that stick a knife in an innocent person's back. I revel in the wanton destruction of lives and reputations.

I thrilled to Rove's side-of-the-mouth slur about McCain's black baby in 2000. I was giddy when Jesse Helms' surrogates repeated stories about an opponent being secretly gay. And when the Republicans floated the rumor that not only was Obama a muslim, but that his wife hated whitey, I was breathless in admiration at their audacity and shamelessness.

So, I want in on the game. This past weekend I heard two pieces of gossip so juicy that I can't keep them to myself.

But first, are you the kind of person who is quick to believe the absolute worst about someone you've never met? Do you harbor resentments for people who are smarter, prettier, richer or better than you? Yes? Perfect! You're the ideal Republican scandal monger. Get ready, 'cause here comes the dirt:

Sarah Palin had an affair with one of her husband's friends. It's true. I read it in the National Enquirer, you know, the same newspaper that broke the story about John Edwards' philandering. For months Republicans fretted and whined about the mainstream media's obvious bias for not picking up the Enquirer's story. Now they insist that the Enquirer is a big fat liar and we should all shut the hell up.

Isn't gossip fun?

This was reported over the weekend by the LA Progressive: When Sarah was lunching with ladies who lunch, the topic of the Democratic primary came up and a waitress overheard Sarah, our dear, plucky, Sarah, say, "Sambo beat the bitch," and laugh and laugh, because it was just that funny.

Of course, no one has verified these rumors, which make them all that much more fun to spread around in my new role as a Republican. Who cares what's true? Hell, if truth was the standard, Mitt and Rudy's speeches would have each been a minute long.

So come on, gang, let's make shit up. It's fun!

Obama gave 60's radical William Ayers plans for a nuclear bomb! And Obama was only eight!

Biden knifed a hooker in Wilmington because she made fun of his hair!

Sarah once swallowed an entire kitten, whole!

John McCain is such a hot head that he scares his GOP colleagues!

Oh, wait, that last one was true.

But what the hell. Come on, everybody, exercise your small town values! Embrace ignorance! Be suspicious of anyone slightly different than you. Be smug and derisive about those dreamers who think they can make the world a better place. Ridicule service, unless it's armed service. Practice the freedom to think and act just like everyone else.

Ignorance! Fear! Suspicion! Meth kitchens and oxycontin! Those are the small town values I'm talkin' about.

I love Sarah!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Two GOP stalwarts caught telling the truth.

Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy, loyal Republican talking heads, are caught with their mics live and their traps flappin.' For a good Catholic girl, that Peggy Noonan sure has a foul mouth.

Honorable John McCain isn't going to like this. And you won't like him when he's angry.

Thanks to the ever reliable Talking Points Memo for the snag.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

OMG! David's actually writing about books.

The news just gets better and better about our Glam-Gov, Sarah Palin. According to this new Time Magazine article, as mayor of the tiny hamlet of Wasilla, Sarah tread on town toes with stylish, but distinctly Germanic boots:

"...as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor."

Book banning. Firing people who do not give their full support to questionable policies. Damn, it sounds like this lady would fit right in with the current gang of thugs and cronies. No wonder John likes her. That smell of brimstone is so familiar.

Maybe Big John can spin this into Palin's instinctive understanding of international issues. After all, governments all over the Mideast have that same wonderful tradition of banning books. This way, our Sarah will have something in common with all those radical wahhabis and mullahs she'll meet as VP.

Read more, you'll really learn to love our plucky hockey mom. Why, I bet you know someone just like her in your Homeowners Association.

McCain finds a mate.

For all of you readers who have been doing more important things like napping or sticking your head under a running lawn mower, that cover girl up there is John McCain's ideal choice to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

This is Sarah Palin, former beauty queen, ex-mayor of Sicily Alaska and now governor of the whole damn state, a state the Wall Street Journal reminds us with a breathless ooh, is our largest state.

Ooh, look at how big it is. It's really, really big. It's a lot bigger than Joe Biden's puny Delaware, so there.

Of course, they don't say that Alaska, by population, is smaller than Columbus, Georgia. Unless you count the moose.

Speaking of moose, I don't think they voted for our glam-gov. She's told the gaping news corps that her favorite meal is moose stew and somehow a mooseburger played a part in her romance with hubbie Todd, but I think I've exorcised that little bite of trivia.

A lot of liberals have dismissed Sarah as Caribou Barbie, but I think they're making a big mistake. I don't think Palin is a lightweight. In fact, I think her superficial charms will win over a lot of the double-digit IQ voters who see her as exotic in a good way, from Alaska, one of the original 49 states, not exotic in a foreign way, like that Johnny-come-lately Hawaii.

Fucking posers.

They'll see her as spunky, a hockey mom who shoots guns and hoops and entered the governor's office ready to put a hefty mukluk in the ass of corrupt politicians. She's a plucky maverick, just like our front runner, the guy who goes his own way (10% of the time) and is a salty old Navy aviator, by gum, home from the war.

Even Steve Doocy, a man with the intellectual heft of a burnt match (that's him up there with ethics champion Karl Rove), said, "...she does know about international relations because she is right up there in Alaska right next door to Russia," proving once again that Doocy is the dumbest fucking man on television, and that includes Tony Danza.

Following Doocy's logic, I should know all about pigs because I live in North Carolina, home to a huge pork industry. But as it is, I know more about bull shit than pig shit. Maybe that's because one of our senators is Liddy Dole.

But I digress.

Just when I thought Sarahmania was about to overwhelm the GOP confab in St. Paul, along comes the news that her daughter, Bristol, is knocked up, as in preggers, by her boyfriend Levi Johnston. And who is Levi, the guy who been knocking boots with Bristol? Here's how he describes himself on his MySpace page:

"a f*ckin’ redneck who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes."

"But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some sh%t and just f*ckin' chillin' I guess."

And if you latte-sipping liberals want to make something of it, Levi warns, "Ya f*ck with me I'll kick [your] ass."

Hey, excrement occurs. Let he who is without a daughter cast the first stone. And Obama told the press, leave families out of it. That's off limits.

I wish someone had told that to Rove and Cheney when they punished Valerie Plame for something her husband wrote, but then, even organized crime has more scruples than those two assholes.

When I heard the news about Bristol being in a family way, I had two thoughts:

1. That's what happens when you teach abstinence only sex ed.
2. Had that been an Obama daughter we would have heard a lot of talk about "unwed mothers" with whispered innuendo about how those people can't control themselves.

So, what's my point?

It's this. John McCain is 72. He's had cancer. There's a chance he might, you know, turn toes up on inauguration day, leaving us in the hands of a woman who has had more experience hiring the guy who cleans the moose shit off the main street than running a country as complex as the US. Not that experience wins my vote. We had a lot of experience in Cheney and Rumsfeld and look where that got us.

No, I look for leadership. And leadership means picking a running mate who will best serve the country. On one hand you have Joe Biden. On the other you have Sarah Palin. I think the choices speak volumes about the judgement of the men who will lead their respective tickets.

But if you want to be governed by a hockey mom who speaks in tongues, wants creationism taught in science class and thinks women aren't moral enough to choose when to have a baby, you go out and pull that lever for McCain and God Bless the US.

Cynicism. It's what they're serving in St. Paul this week. Let's all belly up and dig in.