Archive for July, 2012

30
Jul
12

WHERE THE BOYS ARE

I was gone all last week camping with my family. Every so often it’s pretty healthy to just leave all (or most) electronic devices aside and tune out for a few days. It’s kind of refreshing to return to the world after ignoring it for a while. Of course that turned out to be impossible. Thanks to the retards in the campsite next to me, who had their own gas generator, spotlights, internet access and a giant flat screen TV going all goddamn day, I was kept up to speed on all the breaking stories.

And while I followed with amusement the story of Mitt Romney!’s introduction on the world stage and the story about that actress whose name I can’t remember having an affair with the director of that movie I didn’t see, the one that really caught my eye was the Boy Scouts vs the gay people saga.

“Boy Scouts of America officials announced their decision reaffirming the ban on gays July 17 after a two-year evaluation in response to intensified scrutiny.

Deron Smith, spokesman for Boy Scouts of America, said five Eagle Scouts had returned their medals in protest of the policy as of Friday. He reiterated the group’s position that the majority of members agree with the ban.

“Scouting represents millions of youth and adult members in diverse communities across the nation, each with a variety of beliefs,” Smith said. “Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle rank, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy.” – THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

As I was camping this past week it occurred to me that much of what I was doing I learned to do in Boy Scouts. Of course I also learned how to use a cigarette as a delayed fuse for a pack of bottle rockets, how to crap in a swimming pool without getting caught and how to tie someone to their cot while sleeping and then drag them into the woods and scare the living shit out of them. It’s why I think the Boy Scouts are useful but need to stop taking themselves so seriously.

Then I realized that I could just as easily teach my kids about camping and the like myself (which was what I was already doing anyway). I seem to remember everyone in my Boy Scout troop left when they got into their teens because, you know, we weren’t boys anymore. Hanging out with other boys and their dads all weekend eating beans and farting openly just stops being fun when you get to high school. And, if I may say so, I’m more than capable of teaching my boys about feces and fireworks as well.

If my sons really want to become Scouts then of course I’ll be supportive. I’ll gladly go along on camping trips and demonstrate my preeminent flatulence. But I’m not obligated to steer them in that direction. It’s not The Cold War anymore. I just don’t see why all that stuff they teach you in Scouts needs to be accompanied with this fucking LEAVE IT TO BEAVER 1950’s nonsense. Marching around in paramilitary uniforms and saluting each other gets kind of scary when placed in a historical context. Then again so does screaming and throwing things at men who wear pink. It’s just the rich tapestry that is America.

19
Jul
12

ANTONIN SCALIA IS READY FOR YOU TO WORSHIP HIS INTELLECT NOW

I mentioned in a post the other day that there are only ten people I truly hate. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is not one of them. I’m not even sure he’s a runner-up or an alternate in case one of them dies. To be honest, the worst I would ever want to do to this guy is follow him around all day playing a tuba. Beyond that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about him or the people in his line of work.

“The 76-year-old justice talked Wednesday with CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” discussing a range of judicial topics — from the death penalty to abortion rights and the Bush v. Gore decision.

Scalia, along with Bryan Garner, is co-author of a new book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.” The men describe their legal philosophy, and how to make sense of the law and the U.S. Constitution. They call their approach “textualism.” – CNN

Yeah, I’ve already stopped paying attention too. I have no idea what any of this means. Legalese, like businessbabble, is meant more to confuse and mislead the rest of us than anything else.

“In his book, Justice Scalia wrote that his fidelity to neutral legal principles had led him to take positions at odds with his personal beliefs. Among those positions, he wrote, were opinions favoring criminal defendants at trials and in sentencing proceedings, plaintiffs seeking punitive damages and people prosecuted for burning the American flag.

In the interview, he elaborated. “If I were king, I would not allow people to go about burning the American flag,” he said. “However, we have a First Amendment which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged. And it is addressed, in particular, to speech critical of the government.” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

As a Supreme Court Justice you pretty much get handed a lifetime spot at the helm of one our three branches of government. And while the reasoning is pretty sound, that at least one branch should not be directly subject to the winds of politics, I think this whole thing has gone to his head like food coma after some of his momma’s lasagna.

SCOTUS is still a public institution and you are still a public servant, dipshit. Not a king. Not a lord. Not a Don. Hell, you’re not even an elected official. You’re a judge which means you are about as out of touch as a fucking satellite on the dark side of the moon. Anyone who has ever had to stand in a courtroom and stare in wonder at the sheer pomposity and utter vacuousness of one will know exactly what I’m talking about.

There’s a reason they prance around in black robes like the guy who operates a guillotine. There’s a reason they sit up high above the rest of us like gargoyles. There’s a reason that a courtroom is obnoxiously decorated (at taxpayer expense, mind you) and guarded by a cop who basically failed at all other forms of duty (seriously, a bailiff is basically someone too inept to be trusted with a squad car).

It’s to scare us. To make us feel as if we are standing before Zeus himself. And we must address judges like Scalia as “Your Honor” because if you could just call him “Anthony Boombatz” or “Big T” the façade would crumble and you’d see him for what he really is: A sad, lonely and not very intelligent 76-year-old boy who has replaced his mother’s nipple with our rights and freedoms.

See, this is why lawyers and businesspeople (and Scalia is both) live in an alternate reality ruled by abstract ideas and needlessly complex theories. It’s so they can appear superior to the rest of us. I mean law is actually pretty simple. You can’t kill anyone unless they’re trying to do the same to you, you can’t take shit that isn’t yours and if it’s not an adult you can’t stick your penis into it. See how easy that really is? Everything and anything else is just redundant. And it certainly doesn’t require writing a book let alone acting like a king.

Now go get your fuckin’ shine box, Tony Bolognas.

17
Jul
12

NO SUNUNUS IS GOOD SUNUNEWS

I have to take breaks from the Presidential campaign and look for what else is going on in the world. It’s like pornography. I love it. I mean I really, really love it. But even I have to turn it off for a while and watch something else. Like THE VIEW or something. I need to go from total arousal to something completely nauseating and vile.

But like Michael Corleone, just when I think I’m out they just pull me right back in. And like Al Pacino once said “Oh, you wanna’ play? Okay. I’ll play with you.” And like my wife often says “No way am I wearing that. Not even for you.” Christ, now I’m lost. What was I talking about? Oh yeah…

“Mitt Romney’s national campaign co-chair John Sununu apologized Tuesday afternoon for saying he wished President Barack Obama would “learn how to be an American” earlier in the day…

…”I’m apologizing for using those words,” said Sununu. “I did say those words that were there and, frankly, I made a mistake.”

Sununu said his point was to criticize Obama for failing as an economic leader and creating a toxic environment for businesses.

“I was making the point that in America, entrepreneurs deserve credit and there is an American formula for creating jobs,” said Sununu. “I don’t apologize for the idea that this president has demonstrated that he does not understand how jobs are created in America. He thinks that jobs are created by giving grants to your cronies, to your bundlers and your contributors, like he did with Solyndra.

The earlier conference call with reporters came as the Republican presidential candidate continued to battle attacks from Democrats over Romney’s business career and tax returns. It also featured heated comments from a group of small business owners, one of whom likened Obama’s economic policies to “socialism.”

Sununu responded to the characterization in his CNN interview, saying he does not think Obama is a socialist but “he created a feeling among entrepreneurs that he’s not a capitalist.” – CNN

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with a little socialism. Remember that the next time you call the police or mail a letter or beg like a bitch for the government to bail out your business. The cry of “socialism” from the capitalist crowd is an empty one. They’re just scared that next year they might not be able to buy a Lamborghini and might have to settle for a Cadillac. Or whatever.

Secondly, entrepreneurs do deserve credit. They also deserve the freedom to plant the seed of a dream and let it grow. But, they do not deserve to have the rest of American society become hostage to their masturbatory financial fantasies. I have a family to raise and a life to lead. I don’t have time for your psychotic adherence to whatever the hell it is they taught you in business school. Or whatever your childlike understanding of democracy really is.

Thirdly, I happen to think that sometimes being “anti-business” is healthy if not essential. When you let business people make the rules we cease to be a democracy. We become a fiefdom in which normal people end up being slaves to a paycheck. Money becomes the ultimate authority, not the will of the people. Money can be destroyed. It can be spent. It can be used to corrupt. It can become irrelevant or necessary based on some abstract mathematical equation.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I used to buy pot from John Sununu’s son. On one occasion he was actually on the phone with his dad as we smoked a joint together. That may not be entirely relevant but then again, neither am I. And I’m not exactly convinced by this notion that Fatty Arbuckle up there somehow represents good old fashioned “aw shucks” Americana. Like everyone else on the Romney campaign he wears the red, white and blue like it’s some kind of shitty tie made in China. But, he shouldn’t be angry about what his kid did to pay the bills. Pot should be legal. The government should be making money off of it. Any asshole with a background in business should know that. Or even just an asshole.

16
Jul
12

JESSE JACKSON JR. IS DOING JUST FINE

Being from Chicago I am very well aware of who Jesse Jackson and Jesse Jackson Jr. are. One might say painfully aware. I myself would actually say “madness inducingly” aware. Alas that would probably cut a little close to real life seeing as how the latest news is that Jackson Jr., who is a Congressman, has gone a bit off the deep end and has not been seen in public for a month.

At first, Jackson’s people said he was being hospitalized for “exhaustion”. I’m not sure how tired you have to be to be put in a hospital or if they would just laugh at you in the ER. And how do they treat it? A nap and a cup of coffee? Amphetamines? I don’t know. But nobody was buying what the Jackson camp was selling. So, now, they’ve rolled out this metaphorical bolognas sandwich:

“Last week’s announcement by the veteran congressman’s staff that Jackson is being treated for an unspecified “mood disorder” by an unnamed doctor, after more than a month off the job, is the latest in a downward spiral for a politician whose name once was bandied about for mayor and even senator.

The lack of details continued the lockdown approach his camp has taken toward his condition: Aides didn’t announce Jackson had taken a medical leave from Congress until more than two weeks after it began June 10. Even the congressman’s publicity-seeking father, theRev. Jesse Jackson, has tried to duck reporters.

One of the congressman’s staunchest defenders is Roland Burris, who got the controversial Blagojevich appointment to the Senate in a scandal that cost the governor his job and his freedom. Also tarnished was Rep. Jackson, who had so desperately coveted the seat previously held by President Barack Obama that it ensnarled him in an ongoing House ethics investigation.” – THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Dude, seriously? “Exhaustion” and “mood disorders” are what movie stars and musicians suffer from after they do a bunch of blow and stay up for three days banging hookers. Don’t give us this crap. And the fact that Jackson Sr. is dodging the press is a sure sign there’s more to this story. A larger media whore I have not yet seen in my lifetime. Okay, maybe the Pope or the fucking trailer trash chick who founded MADD take that prize. But he’s definitely up there.

And what’s more, “mood disorder” is vague and misleading. Pregnant women have mood disorders. So do serial killers. So did Stalin. Hell, after a few martinis I develop the mother of all mood disorders. So, I don’t really know what the fuck that means. And when you’re trying to spin a story in the press the last thing you want are imaginations running wild. And this being politics, which is a contact sport in its own right, you should probably not be handing your enemies a bigger stick to whack you over the head with.

I have every respect for the things the Jacksons have done and stand for. But, frankly, on an individual level I just don’t like either of them. Jackson Sr. is a bombastic  narcissist with a penchant for banging white women on the side. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Jackson Jr. is an entitled little prick with an equally endless hunger for the other white meat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either. I mean, hell, if these character flaws were crimes then I’d be in jail alongside them. And I’d probably be in there a lot longer than they would.

Man, now that I think about it, maybe I should run for Congress.

13
Jul
12

JOE GORDON IS FREE

This past December I did a piece on an American citizen of Thai descent named Joe Gordon, who was put in a Thai prison for insulting the King of Thailand while living in America. It’s rare that I get that riled up by something I see in the news but that one got me pissed. Gordon is a fellow blogger and should not have to worry about being jailed for what he says online. Certainly not when he’s a fucking American citizen living in the US.

Well, this morning I saw the news I didn’t think I would see. I’m a deeply cynical person but every once in a while, through these often small and easily missed stories, I find proof that the free will of a single individual is a force more powerful than even the most feared and firmly entrenched aristocracy.

“An American imprisoned in Thailand for insulting the king has been released after being granted a royal pardon, the man’s lawyer and a U.S. Embassy spokesman said Wednesday.

The American, Joe Gordon, left Remand Prison in Bangkok late Tuesday, according to his lawyer, Anon Numpa, who said King Bhumibol Adulyadej approved the pardon Monday. Numpa said his client was likely to return to the United States but gave no time frame.

Gordon was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison last December after being convicted of translating and posting online portions of a book, “The King Never Smiles,” which is banned in Thailand. In the book, a biography of King Bhumibol, the author Paul M. Handley accuses the king of consolidating royal power during his reign and slowing the development of democracy in Thailand.

Gordon, 56, was born in Thailand – his Thai name is Lerpong Wichaikhammat, – but he had lived in the United States for the past three decades prior to his arrest in May of last year during a visit to his hometown in Thailand. He was living in the United States when he put portions of the book on the Web.” – SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

You saw that right. An American citizen, living in America, was jailed in Thailand for doing something which is illegal only in Thailand. And while I am not suggesting that our laws take precedence over those of other countries, when you’re a US citizen in America you have the right to speak freely. If King Ramble Babble and his giant dumpling of a wife (seriously, look at a picture of her) think they can rule outside of Thailand through fear and intimidation they have another goddamn thing coming.

Bloggers around the world, of all political and ethnic stripes, are still a family. The views and reasons that brought us here may be vastly different but I really believe we are the future of free speech. Untainted, unsponsored and brutally honest. The power to think freely is only as effective as the power to speak with equal freedom. And Joe Gordon is only one example of our fellow bloggers being attacked around the world. Indeed, with this joyous news today there was also this story:

“A prominent Ethiopian journalist and blogger has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for violating the country’s anti-terrorism legislation.

Eskinder Nega and 23 others were found guilty last month…

…Eskinder was arrested last September after publishing an article questioning arrests under the anti-terrorism legislation, especially that of well-known Ethiopian actor and government critic Debebe Eshetu.

In 1993 Eskinder opened his first newspaper and has been detained at least seven times by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Right group Amnesty International said the trial fell short of international standards.

“The imprisonment… is emblematic of the Ethiopian government’s determination to gag any dissenting voice in the country,” Amnesty’s Ethiopia researcher Claire Beston said in a statement.

“The Ethiopian government is treating calls for peaceful protest as a terrorist act and is outlawing the legitimate activity of journalists and opposition members.” – BBC NEWS

So the war goes on. And the very fact that we go online every day and do what we do means we as a collective group of individuals have the power to shake the system to its rotting, rusting and decaying core. If they weren’t afraid of us, they wouldn’t be arresting and jailing us. And while there will always be more Joe Gordons, we can at least celebrate today because one of us stood up to a tyrant and won.

And the next time you think about trying to thumb your nose at the free world, King Bumble Apple Ding Dong or whatever the hell your name is, remember this about the red, white and blue: These colors don’t run, motherfucker!

11
Jul
12

BASHAR ASSAD IS A PIECE OF SHIT

I’ll start by saying that I really hate this guy. I mean, yeah, there are plenty of people I don’t like. But there are actually only ten people on this Earth that I truly and completely hate with the intensity of a Japanese nuclear reactor core meltdown. Bashar Assad is one of them and he is part of a select few that includes Richard Branson and Bette Midler. The reasons are many.

I don’t just put you on that list because you have a shitty mustache or even because you’re a dictator (or because you’re a self-obsessed billionaire or a talentless bimbo with a tumor for a nose). To be honest, it has to be more than that. It has to go deeper. Way deeper.

“UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan has met officials in Iran and Iraq in an attempt to shore up support for his peace plan on Syria.

Mr Annan warned both countries that the conflict could spread across the region if the violence was not stopped.

The tour came after talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday which he described as “constructive”.

Meanwhile, Russia is sending warships to its naval base at Syria’s port of Tartus, military sources said.

Correspondents say the move is designed to show that Russia – an ally of the Syrian government – will protect its interests in the region.” – BBC NEWS

Assad is an unusual tyrant. He sounds like Mr. Bean when he talks and he looks like the villain in an old French film from the 30’s. He doesn’t appear the least bit threatening and I’m convinced Stephen Hawking could take him in a fight. And it’s no surprise Russia and China want him to stay. Doing business with a dictator is a lot easier than doing business with an entire democracy. But tyrants don’t really respond to “constructive” conversations. Shit, man, we’ve been having “constructive” conversations with him for years. And where has that gotten us?

“US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it was “deeply alarmed” at “reports from inside Syria that the regime may be organising another massacre”.

Such an attack could happen, it suggested, in al-Haffa or the towns of Deir el-Zour, Homs or Hama, or in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 74 people were killed across Syria on Monday.

UK foreign secretary William Hague believes al-Qaeda linked terrorists are operating in Syria

An activist website, the Violations Documenting Centre, said there had been 29 deaths in the past week from bombardment in al-Haffa. All but three of the dead were civilians, it added.

These reports cannot be confirmed independently because Syria heavily restricts journalists’ freedom of movement.”

No shit they restrict journalists’ freedom of movement. When you’re committing atrocities or breaking international law you don’t let people take fucking pictures. And as much as I respect journalists (the like five actual journalists who are left in the world) I think it’s completely absurd to think they would let you roam around Syria taking pictures and talking to people. Just saying.

And of course civilians are getting killed. It’s a civil war. In a civil war everyone is a civilian. Granted, putting down a civilian uprising by killing all the civilians is a pretty novel approach. So, you know, kudos for thinking outside the box and all. And while I’m not crazy about using military force in another country I’m starting to think that’s really the only card we have left to play. Because short of dropping a bomb on him or putting a bullet through his brainpan I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

Look, we tried talking to Khaddafi for like 40 years until Obama finally did what Reagan should have done. And I understand that America, or indeed the international community, shouldn’t be deciding who is in charge in someone else’s country. But, hey, I shouldn’t be watching college girls sunbathe in the yard next door while giving myself The Stranger. Life is full of contradictions I guess. I just roll with it.

09
Jul
12

MORMONISM IS A PERFECTLY NORMAL RELIGION

I’ve been mystified for some time now as to why the media won’t talk about Mormons considering that the man Republicans want as their President is a member of that church, er, group. Organization. Whatever. When Obama was running they sure as hell put his religious views front and center. Bush too (both of them, actually). Clinton’s Baptist background was an open story and he didn’t mind talking about it (actually you couldn’t get him to shut up about it). As it happens I know a few Mormons and I know they’re going to be pretty upset when they read this. Good. Maybe getting angry will be the first step towards them taking control of their lives again.

“A group of about 150 Mormons quit their church in a mass resignation ceremony in Salt Lake City on Saturday in a rare display of defiance ending decades of disagreement for some over issues ranging from polygamy to gay marriage.

Participants from Utah, Arizona, Idaho and elsewhere gathered in a public park to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Mormonism.”

“This feels awesome,” said Alison Lucas, from West Jordan, Utah, who took part in the rally amid soaring temperatures. “I don’t know if I would have had the courage except in a group.”

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known for its culture of obedience, and the mass ceremony was a seldom-seen act of collective revolt…

…Some leaving the church Saturday did so with trepidation, as Mormon culture often stigmatizes those who fall away, leaving some without social or business connections.

“It’s hard, so we have to be very careful,” said Robin Hansen, a participant who said she quit over a “culture of abuse” which she believes is cultivated by church teachings promoting obedience.

Hansen said her husband had not joined her in leaving the faith because he works in a church-related business and could lose his job if he doesn’t maintain his membership.” – REUTERS

Of course the media aren’t the only ones not talking about it. Nobody from the Mitt Romney! camp will even discuss it, even the man himself. At some point he made a conscious decision not to talk about his Mormonology because he knew it would make him look crazy. Which is usually a pretty solid first sign that you are crazy. That’s why I don’t tell people about the voices I hear that tell me to set fire to WalMarts and show my penis to Methodists. I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea or anything so I just keep quiet about it.

Of course if you even suggest that Mormonology is a cult you get an earful from people, even non-Mormonologists, who say that’s just anti-religious bigotry. Or they say I’m just not well-informed about the church of Latter Day Saints (whatever the hell that means) and I’m just repeating stereotypes. It might help if they tried opening up about it but, as I said, they won’t do that. But, this is America and not some fucking ranch in Utah. Unlike their mindless drone followers I am capable of making up my own mind about things. And I’ve decided that Mormonology is a cult. A batshit crazy, Manson Family-esque, frontal lobe-severing cult. And what does a cult look like anyway?

“Their split may have shocked the showbiz world, but yet more evidence has emerged that Katie Holmes had been planning to leave Tom Cruise for months before making the announcement on June 29…

…Karen De La Carriere, a former Scientology executive who had been married to Scientology’s president Heber Jentzsch, who has been missing for years, told the publication that Katie’s move was extremely courageous. She said: ‘This was a very bold move on Katie’s part, but at the same time she knows these are different times and she has more support. Katie ambushed Tom Cruise and in so doing outwitted some of the most controlling people on Earth.’

Marc Headley, who was aided by police when he left the church in 2005, said: ‘You’re either in or out when it comes to Scientology. That’s why Katie is making custody such an issue in the divorce petition. If you’re out, the way she seems to be, they want to cut you off from everyone, including your kids.’ – THE DAILY MAIL

Yeah. That’s totally different. And the mystery of why people, even conservatives, don’t like Mitt Romney! deepens. Just look at a picture of him. Look deep into his eyes. He couldn’t be more programmed if he recorded the Daily Show every night. And this guy wants to run the country. He wants to run you. And if we let him he will go inside all of our heads and try to control what we think. Because that’s what a cult leader does.

Unless, of course, America wakes up and gets all Katie Holmes on his ass.