Thursday, November 29, 2012


                  Perfect... (from Crooks and Liars)

                   Stewart exposes blatant hypocrisy of McCain and Graham:
The two senators have pilloried Rice for saying the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam film. However, Stewart noted that both McCain and Graham had falsely told the public that Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
“Unfortunately, that’s not really a fair one-to-one comparison, because Susan Rice admitted to the error within weeks — these two still refuse to acknowledge that invading a country based on information from a source named ‘curveball’ was actually considered a pretty shitty idea by many at the time,” Stewart said.
“If only we had a more direct comparison to make here. Like another high-ranking government official passing what they knew at the time was misleading intelligence to the American public on a Sunday news show, also in line to become secretary of state, and was African American, and a woman, and lets say her name was also Rice. That’d be something.”

STARBUCKS INTRODUCES COSTA RICAN COFFEE FOR A MERE $7 PER CUP... (stay in line, lemmings, no pushing!)

          Seven dollars for a cup of coffee.  Seven dollars...

          Starbucks is introducing a Costa Rican coffee called Geisha to America, and they're hoping the staggering price will help separate fools from their money.

          I've been in one Starbucks, one time, in my life.  I stood at the counter and stared at the menu board behind the barista for about ten minutes, just trying to figure out how to order a cup of coffee... then ended up dropping the thing into the trash on my way out of the place five minutes later.  It sucked.  The whole experience sucked.  I haven't been back.

         But I've been to Costa Rica, and I've had the coffee they serve in one of CR's finest resorts.  You could stand a spoon up in that shit.  No amount of cream, sugar, Baileys, or Kahlua can make it less bitter...

         Seven dollars for bitter coffee in a paper cup.

         P.T. Barnum was right.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


              I would assume the cat's claws have been removed, but that owl could still do some damage...  Good thing they're buddies!


           When this Benghazi-gate noise first got cranked up on Faux News, I was pretty sure it was a last-ditch effort by desperate Republicans to find something- anything!- that might derail Barack Obama's re-election.  The talking heads on that network couldn't get through a segment on the mating habits of gerbils without bringing up the tragedy in Benghazi, as if the President of the United States orchestrated the attack on our consulate himself, then hid the terrorists from the long arm of American justice by sending his U.N. Ambassador out with a laundry list of lies to give to the press.  You would think from listening to the wailing and gnashing of teeth on Faux News that this was the most scandalous foreign affairs blunder in American history.

            But now that the election is over and there's nothing to be gained from relentlessly beating a dead horse, why is this non-issue still making headlines?  Because there's something to be gained, after all!

            Here it is in a nutshell:  President Obama will have to find a suitable replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early in his second term in office.  Hillary's had enough jet-setting around the globe.  She's been a good soldier for this administration, serving nobly in the aftermath of a very bitter primary defeat to Obama.  By even the most hostile of accounts, Hillary Clinton has been an able and competent Secretary of State, earning her a ton of political capital on both sides of the aisle.

             Barack Obama's choice to replace Hillary is said to be Susan Rice.  She's an accomplished scholar and has been an outstanding ambassador to the United Nations.  In the chaos following our consulate's attack in Benghazi, Ambassador Rice went before the cameras and passed along the information given to her by our intelligence agencies regarding the tragedy.  She appeared on the Sunday morning talk-a-thons and repeated intel that has since proved faulty.  Somehow, this has been inflated by one particular cable news network into a scandal larger than Watergate...  and it's bullshit from top to bottom.

           The real reason Republicans won't let the Benghazi incident go is because they have a vested interest in shooting down Susan Rice's nomination for Secretary of State.  What possible difference could it make to them?  Well, that's where it gets interesting...

           If Barack Obama is unable or unwilling to press on with the nomination of Rice as Secretary of State, his fall-back candidate for the cabinet position is said to be Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.  Okay... the guy came within an eyelash of being POTUS, so he's obviously qualified to head the state department.  But if John Kerry leaves the Senate to serve at State, who replaces him as Senator from Massachusetts?

           There's the rub.  Massachusetts will have to hold a special election to find Kerry's replacement.  Republicans poured a shitpile of money into the failed candidacy of Scott Brown, and they've been smarting over Elizabeth Warren's election ever since the returns came in...

            They see this as an opportunity to pick up a seat in the U.S. Senate.

            So we get a non-stop bitch-fest from Grumpy Old Man McCain and his closet-clinging soulmate from South Carolina Lindsey Graham.  Tune into Faux News any hour of any day and you'll get a dose of Susan Rice bashing worthy of a child molester.  They can't say enough bad things about the woman.  They want, desperately, to force Obama to choose John Kerry for the State Department, because they see THAT as an opportunity for them to put Scott Brown back into the Senate.

            Susan Rice is perfectly qualified to serve as Secretary of State, and all of these smears concerning Benghazi shouldn't matter.  Obama would be well-served to use his new found political capital wisely, considering the fiscal cliff, immigration reform, and expansion of the Affordable Care Act are all on his plate at the moment.   But then again, losing a Senate seat to opportunistic Republicans and their cable news subsidiary shouldn't be an option, either.

            Here's hoping the President holds the line and forces the Republicans to publicly defend their criticisms in a nomination fight.  Susan Rice deserves that much, and the American people deserve far more.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


         I had no idea I was attacking capitalism  itself when I wrote about those garment workers who were trapped in a burning factory with no working fire extinguishers or fire escapes in Bangladesh.  Like others, I pointed a socialist finger at corporations such as Walmart, those companies that demand goods to be manufactured at the lowest possible cost so that they can maximize profits here in America.  Boy, was I wrong!

         According to Faux Business host Charles Payne, a self-proclaimed "spokesman for capitalism and the American Dream", blaming Walmart for this disaster is but a symptom of desperate unions in America bashing a business model that "is a step in the right direction" for "a lot of people."

         Here's a quote from the vid interview with Neil Cavuto, taken from Think Progress:

PAYNE: It is tragic. I don’t think something like this will happen again. Don’t think that the people in Bangladesh who perished didn’t want or need those jobs, as well. I know we like to victimize everyone in this country, particularly when it comes to for-profit motivation, which is being assaulted. But, you know, it is a tragedy but I think it is a stretch, an amazing stretch, to sort of try to pin this on Walmart but, of course, the unions in this country are desperate.

           Okay... reality check...

           One of the first things you encounter if you try to point out obvious injustice in third world sweat shops is resistance from those who profit from maintaining the status quo.  A few years ago when Michael Moore tried to get the owner of Nike to go with him to visit sweat shops in Indonesia where Nike athletic shoes were manufactured, he was accused of being 'anti-capitalist".   Of course Phil Knight wasn't going to get on a plane with Michael Moore to tour a factory in Asia.  It might slow down the production lines, and little Tucker in Peoria might not get his Air Jordans on time for Christmas!

           Saying that the people who clamor for jobs in factories like the one in this tragedy are grateful for those jobs is an understatement.  Of course they're grateful for those jobs.  A starving man would be grateful for a Ritz Cracker.  But our responsibility as consumers doesn't end when those crackers are passed out at the factory in Bangladesh.   We should be as interested in promoting a vastly improved way of life in impoverished nations as we are in ensuring the cheapest prices possible for American shoppers.  Why should those goals be mutually exclusive?

          When our demand for the lowest priced products puts other lives at risk through unsafe working conditions, we are ultimately responsible for those lives.  We have a moral obligation to demand adequate safety protections for the people we currently exploit, and no amount of pompous posturing by corporate hacks is going to wash away the stain of this tragedy, or of the ones to come. 

           I'm beginning to think a cure for cancer would be condemned as a "job killer" if it were reported on Faux News.

           "Coming up after the break:  Researchers put out of work by miracle cure!  Thousands of highly trained scientists and doctors will be getting pink slips due to newfound cancer vaccine.  How will it affect you?  Next on Faux News, Fair and Balanced."

Monday, November 26, 2012


             "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!  I am the Great and Powerful Wizard Grover Norquist!"

             One of the beautiful things about this last election is the way some Republicans have reacted toward the playbook that led to such a crushing defeat.  Watching conservatives go through the first few steps of grief has been entertaining as hell...  They've gone from Denial ("Don't call Ohio for Obama just yet, I've got a plan to switch Democratic votes in several counties!") to Anger ("But you said we were gonna win!") to our current step in the progression, Bargaining.  Depression and Acceptance are about a month away, at the moment.

            But here we are at Step Three, Bargaining.  And what's interesting to note is how many staunch fiscal conservatives are turning on the one guy who's had them all on a short leash in past budget negotiations.  Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform group came up with a Pledge for politicians to sign, and those who took the oath vowed to Never Raise Taxes under any circumstances, ever, ever, ever.  No matter what.  Signed the oath, can't raise taxes, sorry.

            In the past, anyone who wavered from that strict interpretation of budgetary discipline was threatened with a well-funded primary opponent in their next election cycle.  Stray off the reservation and you'll find yourself alone in the wilderness, facing a Tea Party zealot with a fat wallet.

            But a funny thing has happened in the past couple of weeks...

            Republicans are calming down after Step Two (Anger) and some have noticed that the vast majority of the American public (including the majority that voted Democratic in the last election) support raising taxes on the wealthy to help right the fiscal ship.  Suddenly, playing by the same script that led to this defeat is being seen as suicidal, and a lot of Republicans are going public with their disavowal of Norquist's Pledge.

             Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham, Peter King, Stever LaTourette, Scott Rigell, John McCain, Jeb Bush, and Tom Coburn have publicly denounced the Norquist Pledge and vowed to consider new sources of revenue to break the budget impasse.  Tennessee's own Sen. Bob Corker is the latest conservative to see the light.

             Norquist once said, "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

             I'd like to see Grover Norquist's influence on American politics shrink down to the size where we can flush it down a toilet.


Sunday, November 25, 2012


           It's been over a hundred years since the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire killed 146 garment workers, mostly women, in New York City.  Since that time, laws governing safe working conditions, including sprinkler systems and fire escape requirements, have made this sort of tragedy a thing of the past in this country.

           But that doesn't mean we don't share some of the blame today as Bangladeshi authorities sift through the charred rubble of factory fire in Dhaka looking for bodies.  So far, over 115 garment workers have been found dead, with over 200 others injured escaping the fire.  Most of the victims were women and children.

           The Dhaka fire broke out on the first floor of a nine story factory, trapping workers as the fire rose from floor to floor.  Reports say over 2000 employees were on duty at the factory when the fire started.

           They were making clothes for Walmart, Kohl's, J.C. Penney, Tesco.  We probably bought up millions of dollars worth of their handiwork just this weekend in Black Friday frenzies all over America.  Cheap clothing, imported from countries where laborers work for slave wages in unsafe conditions.

           Workers in Bangladesh have been clashing with police in past months demanding higher pay and better working conditions.  Two years ago the government raised the minimum wage 80%... all the way up to $38 a month.

            We support those factories.  We support those working conditions.  Every time we carry a shirt or pair of pants to the counter with our debit card in hand, we support the companies that support the companies that run the factories that put their employees' lives well down the priority list... behind productivity.  Behind quality control.  Behind the bottom line.

            And we buy those ill-gotten products from companies here in America whose employees  are paid wages that fall below the poverty line, and who often work in unsafe conditions.  Quite often, our tax dollars supply the medical care and food stamp programs necessary to supplement full time employees who are underpaid.

            Instead of following the Ayn Randian playbook to bring our wages down to the level of third world factories, and instead of listening to "job creators" bitch about getting "government off the backs of business" by insisting upon drastic deregulation of things like working conditions, maybe we should insist that workers everywhere be treated with the respect we would expect for ourselves.

            So the shirt we buy at Walmart is produced in a safe facility where the garment workers who put it together are well-compensated.  Where the workers who stock the shelves and man the sales registers at Walmart are well-compensated.  Where the middle class is encouraged, not only in our own neighborhoods, but in parts of the world where nothing but poverty is even known.

            It should be the goal of organized labor, and also of human rights commissions everywhere, to see to it that tragedies like the one unfolding in Dhaka are never repeated.



              Happy Birthday to the only woman worth all of the headaches her gender has caused in my lifetime of PMYS screwups...

              You give me Happy Feet!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

APPARENTLY, I'M SUPPOSED TO BE TRYING TO STEAL YOUR HAPPINESS... (either that, or Pat Robertson has me all wrong)

              (I was seriously hoping no one would tell happy people that I'm scheming to steal their happiness.  That's going to make it so much harder to do!)

              A few minutes ago I was snooping around over at The Political Carnival (a great site, by the way) and saw this clip of Pat Robertson holding forth about atheists and our wily ways, and I just had to have it.

              I have no idea if this is something Pat's said recently, or if it's a clip from a long ago broadcast about atheists stealing the happiness of folks who love Christmas. 

              But for what it's worth, I love Christmas, too

              I love the songs, the smells, the foods, the memories that spring to mind when any combination of things makes an appearance.  I love the lights, the decorations, all the silly shit curmudgeons like me are supposed to snark about...  And I hate that I've been screwing it up for other atheists by not doing my part to make others miserable.  God, it sucks to find out you're not even a good atheist!

              I sucked at Catholicism, now I find out that I'm not even doing atheism right?

             All this time, I've been happy about Christmas, and I was supposed to be a misery evangelist.

             Well, that does it.  I'm going to have to get one of those Atheism for Dummies books and read up on this stuff.

              Bah,  humbug~! 


                " 'Tis the season"...

                I hope everyone had the good sense to stay close to home yesterday, but after looking at this mash-up for shopping frenzies from around the country it's pretty obvious a lot of folks just enjoy chaos.

                You know, if you take the commercialization out of the pictures, it's easy to imagine that some of these scenes could be filmed in third world pissholes behind the CARE relief trucks... refugees scrambling for life's necessities, fighting with one another for survival.

                This is America's version of life-or-death...  Did we get the newest phone for Miranda?
Is this the latest video game console little Tucker was hoping for?  Have we satisfied the needs of everyone?

Brings to mind John Prine's "Souvenirs"...

All the snow has turned to water,
Christmas day's come and gone
Broken toys and faded colors,
All that's left to linger on...


Thursday, November 22, 2012

BON APPETIT (I thought about something non-confrontational and traditional for Thanksgiving... but then thought: What would Theo Think? Dig in, Repubs!)

                Like a lot of Americans, I have a ton of things to be thankful for today.  I've got a great family, my kids are beautiful, thoughtful, accomplished individuals, and while we don't have money piled up around our car elevators we do have a sense of security from knowing we have one another's backs... no matter what.

                And we still live in a country where votes matter.

                Happy Thanksgiving to all...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


            "In Obamamerica if you lose your furniture you get rich folks' furniture!"

            "Tennessee... State of the Free!"

            "I'm a grown-ass, free man, you can't tell me what to do..."

            "Ain't nobody comin' to get my damn furniture!"

            "I'm gonna pick a new state bird..."

            "If this is the United New State of Tennessee, I think this is a good time to get rid of Memphis..."

             "Eastern border is the aquarium, to the western border where Buford Pusser once trod..."

             (about a southern border with Alabama)

"Once they see how good we got it, them tank top wearing, corn-cob wipin' mother fuckers will come pouring over the border..."



         If you want to start a fight over the Thanksgiving dinner table tomorrow, just bring up Walmart and step aside.  You don't have to mention the election, religion, or your favorite sports teams...  Just say the word "Walmart", shake your head, and watch the fireworks begin.

          What is it about the Walmart business philosophy that divides Americans of different political persuasions?  Seriously.  Why does the mere mention of the retailer Walmart inspire such diverse and heated opinions in America?

          To the free-market Ayn Rand-ers of the world, Walmart is the prototypical way to do business.  You scour the globe for cheap products, demand that those manufacturers cut their costs even further to become Walmart suppliers, fight unionization not only in your own company but in all of the companies from whom you purchase goods, and you drive local businesses to ruin everywhere you open stores.  It's the Death Star of retail.

          You pay your employees an average wage that falls just below the government's poverty level for a family of four, make health benefits unaffordable, and basically turn your workforce into a drain on the health care system of the nation by forcing them to use emergency rooms for their medical care. 

          You employ every anti-union tactic short of company thug violence to prevent unionization, including threats to close stores or fire union supporters.  Textbooks could be written on labor law violations without ever leaving the Walmart model.

          And yet, if any of this is brought up in polite conversation around tomorrow's holiday dinner table, more than likely an intense debate will ensue.  People are adamantly for, or against, the Walmart business model.  And that loyalty/loathing line is usually as clear cut as Republican or Democrat on a voter registration form.

          What I don't understand is this:  if you know that Walmart is selling cheap Chinese crap at prices American manufacturing companies can't compete with, and you're a firm believer in the 'Buy American' philosophy, how can you, in good conscience, shop at Walmart for everyday items?

          When we see local stores shuttered over and closed on our way home from Walmart, is there a twinge in the back of our minds telling us that we've just done business with Merchants of Evil, or do we simply look at the money we've saved and tell ourselves we were looking out for our own?

          Does it ever occur to us that our support of Walmart (and we all support Walmart, at one time or another, because they are very often THE ONLY PLACE SELLING WHAT WE HAVE TO HAVE) is killing our community and killing the American middle class?

           Walmart earned a 9% increase in sales during the third quarter of this year, bringing in $3.63 billion in profits.  The CEO of Walmart, Michael Duke, earns a compensation package of $18 million a year, an annual amount that would require 700 of his employees to match.

          And yet they can't afford to pay their "associates" a minimum wage of $13, the amount demanded by the group "Making Change at Walmart", which is urging walk-outs by Walmart employees on Black Friday.

           Our economy needs every dime of retail spending possible this holiday season.  But in the long run, it would be far better for America if Walmart had a lousy Black Friday for a change.

           For a real Change.
           Send a message with your wallet this year.

           Don't shop on Friday. 


KID SCORES 138 POINTS IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAME (and he only played 36 minutes...)

                 "Shoot!  Shoot!"

                  Jack was in a shooting slump, so his coach told him to shoot his way out of it.

                  I doubt anyone had to tell Jack Taylor of Grinnell College to shoot last night.  He took 108 shots during his 36 minutes of playing time against Faith Babtist Bible... hitting 52 of them.  He hit 27 (out of 71) three pointers.

                 Taylor's 138 points is an NCAA record, by the way...

                  A kid from the other team scored 70 points and no one even wants to know his name.

                 Grinnell College won the game 179-104, if that matters to anyone.

                 I'll admit, I'm the worst white guy who ever tried to shoot a basketball, bar none.  But I don't think I could score 138 points if you left me alone in the gym with a ball for a week... much less against college competition.