Monthly Archives: August 2009

Pussified princess Rep. Doris Matsui holding conference call, not town hall

Her hair alone is a crime, but I can’t stand U.S. Representative Doris Matsui because she represents the very worst of entrenched “Democratic” politics. In lieu of a real town hall on health-care reform, Matsui has opted for a fucking conference call — because she can.

There will be no raucous town-hall meeting on health-care reform in my Congressional district, because my U.S. representative, DINO (Democrat in name only) Doris Matsui, is a princess and a wuss.

Matsui came to office in 2005 under questionable circumstances. Her husband, Robert Matsui, was a career politician, having been in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 25 years, from 1979 to his death on Jan. 1, 2005.

He had won re-election to the U.S. House for his Sacramento-area district yet once again in November 2004, and then, just the next month, in late December 2004, he was hospitalized. And then he died on Jan. 1, 2005.

Now, in his 2004 re-election campaign, Robert Matsui had never let his constituents know that he was ill. Not a word about it. According to Wikipedia, Robert Matsui died of a rare blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome (of which astronomer Carl Sagan and children’s author Roald Dahl also died; there is some trivia for you).

My reading of Wikipedia’s article on the syndrome (which I linked to above) indicates to me that it’s unlikely that Robert Matsui had had no idea on Election Day 2004 that he had the disease or at least some serious health problem or problems; few diseases kill you within two months without your having had serious, usually long-term symptoms to alert you to the disease. 

My guess is that Robert Matsui was aware of his terminal illness on Election Day in 2004 but that he and his family and his closest associates kept it quiet because they all wanted his wife, Doris, to succeed him in the U.S. House of Representatives. My guess is that it was the couple’s plan, well before Election Day 2004, that after his death, Doris would succeed him in the House. Of course Doris has denied that there was any such plan (I heard her deny this myself at a rare [for her] public forum) — but of course she would deny that whether it were the case or not.

In any event, a special election was held on March 8, 2005 to fill the deceased Robert Matsui’s seat, and even though it was a longshot to prevent Doris Matsui, with the Matsui Dynasty brand name behind her, from getting her greedy grubbies on the Congressional seat vacated by her late husband,  I actively supported one of the many others running for the seat in the special election, progressive (that is, real) Democrat Julie Padilla. I knew that once Doris Matsui got in, ever getting her out would be like pulling teeth.

In the special election Padilla came in at a distant No. 2 to Doris Matsui, with 9 percent of the vote to Matsui’s 68 percent. (A Repugnican candidate came in at No. 3, with 8 percent.) Of course, Matsui, who had been a Washington lobbyist and who had worked in the Clinton White House, had the entire Democratic Establishment Machine (DEM) behind her, and Padilla had those of us with consciences who don’t march in lockstep with the DEM. The Matsui camp had all of the money and all of the political might; we of the Padilla camp had only right on our side.

Matsui was roundly criticized for skipping out on appearances at debates and other public forums in the short campaign period for the March 2005 special election. But why should she have bothered? She had the Matsui Dynasty brand name and the DEM behind her. It was going to be a cakewalk — and it was.

So now, it is unsurprising that Doris Matsui has chosen a “telephone town hall” on health-care reform instead of an actual town hall. Um, isn’t a “telephone town hall” just a fucking conference call?

I got an automated call on my voice mail from Doris herself on Thursday. She says in the message that she’ll have her “telephone town hall” on Sept. 3, this coming Thursday. To be able to participate, she says, I should press “1,” but since it’s a voice mail, I don’t know how I would participate in the conference call even if I wanted to (which I don’t, since Doris nauseates me with her pretense of being so sweet and meek and delicate even though she has been part of a powerful political dynasty for decades).

The Sacramento Bee has criticized Doris Matsui for once again skipping out on facing the people face to face. Here is the Bee’s editorial from yesterday:

Back home for the August recess, members of Congress in our region are meeting with constituents. They’re conducting telephone and face-to-face town hall meetings to present updates and hear concerns on health care legislation.

With one major exception.

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, has planned no face-to-face town hall meetings to date.

She will hold one telephone town hall at 7 p.m. Thursday, calling all registered voters with phone numbers on record – others can sign up for the call. She has said telephone forums allow her to reach more people. That’s true.

But it’s no substitute for a member of Congress having face-to-face contact with constituents. Matsui seems to think that her recent “health care tour” – meetings with patients, doctors, nurses and medical staff at local clinics, hospitals and labs – is enough face-to-face engagement.

It’s not. Matsui is on a key committee that is drafting health care legislation. She needs to stand before a skeptical public and show that she understands the issues, can explain them in plain language and can make a strong case for reform now.

She needs to show that she is not afraid of dissent – and can set a civil, respectful tone in addressing those who disagree. She needs to experience firsthand the passion, the anxieties and the compelling stories that people bring to the debate.

To date, the face-to-face town halls in our region have been filled with vociferous, exuberant individuals – but no shouting matches or shoving. People applaud and boo. They make their views known. That’s democracy, and Matsui should embrace it.

Unfortunately, her refusal to hold face-to-face town hall meetings is all too reminiscent of her refusal in the 2005 special election campaign to debate rival candidates. Matsui finally reversed her position and participated in two forums in 2005 – something she should do today.

Matsui still has time before Congress reconvenes Sept. 8 to schedule at least one face-to-face town hall meeting.

Doris Matsui most likely won’t do that, of course.

Doris Matsui is yet another baby-boomer asshole (that’s pretty much redundant, of course…) with a sense of entitlement. Why should she work when she doesn’t have to, when she can coast on her Mastui Dynasty brand name and the political connections that she and her dead husband developed over decades? After all, didn’t that strategy of coasting on the family name and the family’s political connections work well enough for her fellow baby-boomer asshole George W. Bush?

Embrace democracy? Oh, I’m not holding my breath that Doris Matsui ever will do that.

Hopefully, this corrupt brand of politics, and all political dynasties (Bush, Clinton, even Kennedy, et. al.), will die with Doris Matsui and her ilk.

And heads up, my fellow Sacramentans: Although I expect Doris Matsui to try to hold onto her seat until she dies, like her husband did, Robert and Doris Matsui had a son together

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‘Inglourious Basterds’ rather inglorious for a film by Quentin Tarantino

In this film publicity image released by The Weinstein Co., ...

Lead Nazi slayer Aldo Raine, played by Brad Pitt, addresses his merry band of Nazi slayers in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” one of Tarantino’s less gory — and lesser — endeavors (which at least came to us in just one part…).

As I have noted before, I think that they make way too Holocaust-themed movies. No, I’m not anti-Semitic, and no, I’m not a Holocaust denier, and it’s sad that I have to state that up front.

It’s that the Holocaust has been done.

But I’m a Quentin Tarantino fan, and so I saw “Inglourious Basterds” on its opening weekend.

I love ya, Quentin, but I can give “Basterds” only a “B.”

“Basterds” starts out promisingly. The opening scene, in which Nazis search for Jews being hidden at a French farmhouse, at first seems overlong, but then you realize that Tarantino got it just right.

And then it looks like the entire movie, or most of it, anyway, is going to be about Brad Pitt, who plays an American named Lt. Aldo Raine with a hick accent who is something like Robin Hood leading a band of merry men, only this Robin Hood and these merry men (who call themselves the “Inglourious Basterds”) don’t steal from the rich and give to the poor, but they hunt, kill and scalp — yes, scalp — Nazis in Nazi-occupied France. And most of these Nazi slayers are Jews.

But after teasing us with this novel slant on the whole Holocaust-movie thing, “Basterds” then goes into a much-less-interesting and less novel direction involving a young Jewish woman named Shosanna (well-played by Melanie Laurent) who survived the Nazis’ slaughter of her family and who plots her revenge when the premiere of a Nazi propaganda film is slated to be shown in the movie theater that she owns and operates in France.

Pitt and his band of merry Nazi killers come back into the movie, but only after we’ve been fairly bored by the whole movie-theater subplot.

Pitt does a kick-ass job in “Basterds,” as does Christoph Waltz as Nazi Col. Hans Landa, the “Jew hunter,” whose Oscar-worthy role runs throughout the entire film. It is largely on the strength of the performances that I can give “Basterds” a “B.”

Also doing a great job are Eli Roth as the “Bear Jew,” who takes a baseball bat to Nazis’ craniums, and Til Schweiger as former Nazi Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz, who for some reason decided to turn on his fellow Nazi officers and start terminating them (whether he opposed their “cause” or whether he is just psychopathic is not clear to me) before he was taken in by the Basterds. I wanted to see much more of these two characters and I was disappointed to see one of them terminated too early and too ingloriously.

Also interesting about “Basterds” is Tarantino’s reinterpretation of Adolf Hitler (played by Martin Wuttke) as a perpetually fuming and sputtering tyrant hilariously (darkly so) replete with a red monarch’s cape. (Tarantino also reinterprets the history of Hitler in an interesting way that I can’t tell you about, because it would give away the ending of the movie…)

Mike Myers (yes, the “Austin Powers” Mike Myers) makes an appearance as a British general that is supposed to be quirky, I think, but is more throwaway than quirky.

Tarantino’s re-envisioned Hitler and his twisted version of Robin Hood and his band of merry men alone make “Basterds” worth seeing — and I must admit that it’s hard not to feel some amount of glee to witness Nazis being exterminated like the cockroaches that they were — but “Basterds” has too much that isn’t that interesting and doesn’t measure up to what we’re used to getting from Tarantino, so it misses an “A” for me.

Maybe the uninteresting portions of “Basterds” were Tarantino’s attempt to be a more “serious” director? If so, well, he should have stuck to what he does best. There is no shortage of “serious,” “respectable” movies about the Nazis and the Holocaust out there.

“Kill Bill,” to me, still remains Tarantino’s best work to date.

My grade: B

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Envy is a blogger without a book deal

I started blogging back in the latter part of 2002 on Salon Blogs. It was a great time to start blogging; in the wake of the destruction wrought by the unelected Bush regime and in the midst of the regime’s impending launch of its bogus Vietraq War, the Internet and its newish “blogosphere” were buzzing with progressives who loved civic engagement (and e-catfights; more on that later…).

I immediately found blogging to be user-friendly — if you can word process, you can blog — and rather addictive. The idea that whenever something pisses me off or whenever there is just something that I want to say, I can post it on the Internet, where anyone in the world can read it — I still like that idea.

I probably would continue to blog no matter how small my audience. Blogging to me is what dancing is to a dancer or painting is to a painter.

Having an audience is great, especially when, like I do, you think that you’re a pretty fucking good writer. But, like any other artist who primarily does it for the love of it and not for the audience, I continue to blog even with a small audience.

But those bloggers who get book dealsarrrggggghhhhhh!

There is Dave Cullen, who, like I did, started out with Salon Blogs. Truthfully, I found Dave’s blog to be rather mediocre. He wrote about the “reality” television show “The Great Race” or whatever in the hell it was called, for fuck’s sake. After each episode, of which I never watched a single one, he’d feverishly let all of us know his every thought and impression of it. Barf bag, please! (If memory serves, Dave’s obsession with the show primarily was because one or more of its cast members he found to be a hottie. [I think it was that one cast member with the Nazi-sounding name… Third Reichen or something like that… Yeah, you know, I just can’t get past a Nazi-sounding name…])

When he wasn’t writing feverishly about his favorite reality TV show, Dave feverishly was writing about his favorite reality TV politician, Howard Dean. I, um, supported John Kerry from the very start, figuring that although Kerry wasn’t my ideological favorite of the Democratic bunch for the 2004 presidential nomination (that wild and wacky Dennis “Snowball’s Chance in Hell” Kucinich was), with his military background Kerry was much more likely to defeat BushCheneyCorp in 2004 than was peacenik Dean. (Unfortunately, 9/11 was still lingering in the national consciousness — endlessly stoked by the BushCheneyCorp, replete with its false color-coded terrorism risk alerts, of course — and I knew that the Repugnicans would make mincemeat of Dean.)

Thankfully, Dean imploded in the snows of Iowa in January 2004 and that was that. But Dave, who had even invaded Iowa with the throngs of other Deaniacs in their tacky bright orange caps, didn’t appreciate my gleeful blogging on Dean’s demise, and if memory serves, that is where it really devolved between Dave and me.    

Dave and I always had fought over Dean vs. Kerry, but after Dean’s demise after the scream heard ’round the world, Dave and I had such serious e-catfights via our blogs’ comments sections that we had to call it quits lest law enforcement officials get involved…

Anyway, if memory serves, I found Dave to be a mediocre writer with waaay too many typos and misspellings, but sometimes compelling, like car accident images on the Internet can be compelling; you know that you probably really shouldn’t look at the spectacle, but you just can’t help yourself. (I seem to remember that I especially enjoyed reading about Dave’s parallel implosion with Dean’s implosion on Dave’s blog. Dave wrote some rather surreal stuff about his Dean-related devastation, if memory serves.)

Anyway, so of course Dave later landed himself a book deal. His book Columbine (a subject that doesn’t interest me; Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” pretty much satisfied that itch for me) as I type this sentence is No. 3,007 on amazon.com, but the book, timed for the 10th anniversary of the suburban teenaged massacre of April 1999, was on amazon.com’s top-100 best-selling books list for at least a little while.

I hate you, Dave. You’re a mediocre writer but you got a book deal. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.

No, OK, fine, congratulations, I don’t hate you, really I don’t, in fact, contgratulations, yeah, what-eeever. After all, I just linked to your book on amazon.com and I just might get you another sale or two or three. If I hated you that much would I have done that? No, I think not, Dave.

(If you want to argue about it, Dave, leave a comment on this post, bitch. It would be just like old times. I dare you!)

Even more successful than Dave (ha ha, Dave!) is former Salon blogger Julie Powell. I don’t know her at all — although I was aware of her blog when she and I were fellow Salon bloggers, I never read her blog because I’m not into cooking and her blog was about cooking — but I hate her perhaps even more than I hate Dave because not only did she get a book deal, but she got a fucking movie deal, too. Her book Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously is now a frigging movie tie-in paperback with Meryl Fucking Streep on the cover and is No. 54 on amazon.com’s top 100 best-seller list as I type this sentence.

I’m not linking to Powell’s book because once you have Meryl Streep on your resume, you just don’t need any more help, do you?

(Dave, if you get a movie deal, I’m going to find you, and maybe I will massacre you, Columbine-style, and I will use your flesh in one of Julie Powell’s Julia Child-inspired recipes. [Then maybe I could get a book deal…])

Anyway, Salon.com’s editor, Joan Walsh, makes this admission in a rubbing-it-in-my-face blog piece that she posted today about how some Salon bloggers went on to make it big: “The Salon Blogs program was worthy and innovative, but it didn’t get the attention it deserved —  most notably, from Salon.”

Exactly. We Salon bloggers plunked down our $40-a-year fee for our blogs with Salon’s promise that Salon would support us, even promote us, and Salon didn’t. Salon picked a few Salon bloggers, almost seemingly at random, to give some attention to, but the rest of us were ignored.

I guess that in order to have gotten my Salon blog noticed I would have had to have blown former Salon managing editor Scott Rosenberg, who then was in charge of Salon Blogs and whose own Salon blog was lackluster at best (if memory serves, he primarily wrote about technical computer crap, which even I, with my great writing talent, probably couldn’t make interesting — probably).

I did contact Rosenberg a few times to see if he’d promote my blog, but he steadfastly refused. Probably because his own blog sucked. And because he also was one of the Lemmings for Howard Dean and I was one of the few bloggers for Kerry. (OK, so maybe I was the only blogger for Kerry…)

I gleefully note that Rosenberg’s book on — w a i t   f o r   i t — blogging, which was released last month (I won’t help him by even giving you its title), as of right this moment is No. 9,530 on amazon.com.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha, Scott!

Oh, I don’t think that they’ll be making a movie out of your book!

So that’s at least two mediocre bloggers who got book deals, one of them with a book about blogging. 

Anyway, so yeah, as Joan Walsh admitted today, Salon abandoned its bloggers. At one point Salon stopped even mentioning the Salon blogs on Salon’s home page, and then at another point Salon stopped accepting new blogs, and now, at the end of this year, the blogging platform that Salon blogs utilize, Radio UserLand, is going kaput.

At the end of October I switched from Salon Blogs/Radio UserLand to WordPress. I am much, much, much happier with the WordPress blogging platform. Aside from being FREE, WordPress offers a lot more functionality that Radio UserLand ever did. (I can enumerate on one hand what Radio UserLand has that WordPress doesn’t, but I could enumerate on my pubes what WordPress has that Radio UserLand doesn’t.)

Anyway, so I’m happier on WordPress, and I rarely use “I” and “happy” in the same sentence.

But, unfortunately, my readership on WordPress isn’t any larger than it was on Salon Blogs.

And I still don’t have my book deal yet — but I think that I can come up with something for Meryl to do.

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Corporations should not control the national political dialogue

Advertisers are fleeing Fox “News” blowhard Glenn Beck’s show in droves, The Associated Press reports.

As much as I hate Beck and his stupid-white-man ilk, as much as I see them as a threat to our democracy (which they call “tyranny” when it doesn’t go their way), I am disturbed that corporations are controlling, through their advertising dollars, the national dialogue to the extent that they are.

Notes the AP:

The Clorox Co., a former Beck advertiser, now says that “we do not want to be associated with inflammatory speech used by either liberal or conservative talk show hosts.” The maker of bleach and household cleaners said in a statement that is has decided not to advertise on political talk shows.

So what is the effect of this, then? That there is no political dialogue at all on the air waves? I mean, how do you define “inflammatory speech” when just about anything that you say is going to make someone butt-hurt?

Sure, the corporations would love that — what little Americans already engage in thinking and in the political process already is too much for the corporations, who only want Americans to be obediently exploited worker bees, wage slaves, and insatiable consumers of goods and products that they don’t need but that they want because of a relentless onslaught of corporate advertisements.

As damaging to the nation as I find the wingnuts to be, if they are silenced, then any of us can be silenced. When the wingnuts go too far — such as by bringing guns to appearances by the president, intimidating everyone around them with their lethal weapons (the Second Amendment is meant to guarantee actual self-protection, not to chill the free speech of others with whom you disagree by packing heat) — then they need to be put in their place, but otherwise, it’s their constitutional right to spew forth their fascist bullshit.

Besides, without the wingnuts as a troglodytic contrast, there can’t be such as thing as progressivism, can there? No, without national political dialogue, no matter how polarized, all that would be left is the universal mindless mush that the corporations want, which they already almost have achieved.

Americans have been brainwashed by all of the corporately owned and controlled media (including school textbooks, of course) into believing that we really have free speech in the United States. No, the fuck we don’t. For the most part, we have only the speech that the corporations want us and enable us to have, since they own and control the means of mass communication (duh).

As long as corporate money influences the national dialogue, we do not have free speech; we have corporately endorsed speech.

P.S. Note that according to the AP article, most advertisers are just moving their ads somewhere else on Fox, just not on Beck’s show, so Fox apparently isn’t losing money. Only one corporation — United Parcel Service, surprisingly — has decided not to advertise on Fox at all, at least for the time being, according to the AP.

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Must-see: Jon Stewart comments on asshole Glenn Beck’s asshole surgery

“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart shows clips of Fox “News” propagandist Glenn Beck first talking, in 2008, about how horrible the health-care system is in the United States — the idea is to push patients out as soon as possible, Beck states — and then claiming more recently that the United States “has the best health-care system in the world.”

Stewart even shows us a clip of Beck bemoaning the state of health care in the United States while Beck is in bed at home in January 2008 recovering from some surgery (hemorrhoid surgery or some other “anal procedure,” Stewart tells us).

In the home video, Beck states, “It was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life to receive health care in the United States.” If the hospital where he was treated doesn’t even care about the president of General Electric (who, Beck states, also has been treated at that hospital), Beck adds, what does the hospital care about “schlubs” like him? (Yeah, Beck is just one of us; all of us have our own major television network show on which we can tell any number of lies with impunity.) 

The clip is a litte more than a week old already, but it’s a must-see, since Beck is one of the wingnut mouthpieces convincing dipshit Americans that adequate health care not only is against their best interests, but actually threatens their liberty and feedom and represents tyranny.

I don’t watch television, since most of it is corporate brain-wasting pap, but this clip alone demonstrates the credibility of baby-boomer asshole Beck, who actually writes books with such titles as Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine.

Inspired by Thomas Paine?

No, more like inspired by Archie Bunker.

P.S. I did some quick and dirty Internet research on Beck. He’s just another Joe the Plumber to me, albeit a Joe the Plumber who managed to get himself on the TV, so before today I’ve never bothered to look into his background.

Wikipedia notes of Beck: “Beck is a self-described recovering alcoholic and addict. He and his first wife divorced amid his struggle with substance abuse…. [Beck] eventually converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints….” The Wikipedia article notes that Beck was raised a Roman Catholic and that his mother and brother committed suicide.

So yeah, Beck is just yet another stupid white man who is channeling all of his toxic waste on the rest of us. Spewing forth right-wing bile is so cathartic and therapeutic!

Yeah, Beck is a real Thomas Paine.

It’s funny, in a terrifying-for-the-future-of-our-nation kind of way, how, to unqualified-to-be-discussing-politics morons like Joe the Plumber and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, “common sense” is just whatever bullshit they pull from their egomaniacal stupid white male asses.

P.P.S. Oh, shit. According to The Huffington Post, Beck indeed did have hemorrhoid surgery. I’d thought that Stewart probably was just joking…

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Memo to Jon Voight: I prefer civil war over tyranny of the minority — BITCH!

Updated below (Saturday, August 22, 2009)

Wingnut Jon Voight (in stills from the 2007 film “September Dawn”) says that democratically established government-run health care is a call for another civil war. I say: let’s give the treasonous wingnuts the Civil War re-enactment that they seem to want.

Jon Voight (Angelina Jolie’s daddy), one of the few wingnutty actors the wingnuts can get them to speak for their “cause” — and actors are always bad unless they support the Repugnicans/wingnuts, dontchya know — says in an interview with the wingnut rag The Washington Times that those who want a government-run health care option are just asking for another civil war.

Wow. Think of that: In November 2008 we got the first legitimately elected president of the United States since 1996. Fifty-three percent of Americans chose Barack Obama and 46 percent chose Repugnican John McCainosaurus. (For those who could only talk about the Electoral College count when Repugnican George W. Bush stole office in 2000 after Democrat Al Gore won more than a half-million more of the popular votes than Bush did, Obama won 365 of the Electoral College votes to McCainosaurus’ 173.)

The American people spoke in November 2008. They elected Barack Obama by a margin too large for the Repugnicans to be able to steal a third presidential election in a row.

Obama had promised to reform health care. The majority of Americans elected him to do just that.

Whatever health care reform might pass the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate would be a result of a majority vote of the representatives elected by the American people.

This is called democracy, folks.

But when democracy doesn’t go the wingnuts’ way, they call it “tyranny” or “socialism” or “liberal fascism” or the like.

The wingnuts are now even bringing guns to appearances by the president.

Yet Voight and his ilk claim that it’s Obama’s supporters who want a civil war.

Obama’s supporters are the majority of the American people. Fifty-three percent of the American people voted for him in November 2008 and national polls taken this month put his favorability rating around 60 percent. More than 50 percent of Americans in national polls taken this month approve of the job that Obama is doing.

The concept of “the majority rules” was perfectly fine with the wingnuts when the unelected Bush regime was in power for eight long, dark and disastrous years. Now that a Democrat has been elected to the White House — and a black one at that — the Repugnicans/wingnuts are screaming for minority rule.

Another civil war?

You fucking betcha!

Bring it on, bitches!

When these tyrants — the minority who think they can run roughshod over the majority, which is the very definition of tyranny — are bringing guns to political events in order to intimidate those who disagree with them with the threat of violence or even the threat of death, it’s time to fucking knock them down.

Violence is all that they understand; let’s speak back to them in their mother tongue. The future of the nation — and of the world — is too much on the brink for Gandhian nonviolence. We no longer have the time for that pussyfooted bullshit.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again: If the wingnutty minority wants a rematch of the Civil War, let’s fucking give it to them. And let’s finish the job this time.

P.S. Another image that I found while searching for images for this post:

larger_voight2.jpg image by VONPIP

Sadly, I’m not sure whether the creator of this little image is for or is against what Voight stands for… I mean, you hope that it’s satire, but…

Update (Saturday, August 22, 2009)

I guess that I’d better get myself a copy of this old book so that I can do my part in creating a liberally fascist United States of America with my Obama-lovin’ comrades.

While looking at amazon.com’s top 100 best-selling book titles just now, I noticed that the rather obscure Rules for Radicals by some guy named Saul Alinksy is, as I type this sentence, No. 47 on amazon’s list.

Why would a book first published back in 1971 be on the list now?

Well, it might be related to Jon Voight. In his interview with right-wing rag The Washington Times that I made mention of above, among other things Voight states: “Do not let the Obama administration fool you with all their cunning Alinsky methods. And if you don’t know what that method is, I implore you to get the book Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. Mr. Obama is very well trained in these methods.”

OK, so yes, if memory serves, I have seen a battered paperback copy of Rules for Radicals in a progressive used bookstore near my residence, but even I, a foaming-at-the-mouth moonbat, didn’t buy it, since I’d figured, given its copyright date, its information had to be dated and its relevance long faded.

But apparently Rules for Radicals is the socialist’s handbook for the socialist takeover of the nation from stupid white men like Jon Voight.

Calling Barack Obama a radical — oh, puhfuckinglease! The Democrats have much more “political capital” now than the unelected Bush regime did after the Bush regime “won” “re”-election in November 2004 with only 50.7 percent of the popular vote to Democrat John Kerry’s 48.3 percent but called that a “mandate” that gave them a shitload of “political capital” anyway. But the Democrats are pussies who refuse to wield the power that they have gained at the voting booth.

George W. Bush — now there was a radical, stealing elections and starting a bogus war and almost putting the nation into another Great Depression because all that he did on the domestic front for eight long disastrous unelected years was to aid and abet his super-rich white buddies.

Anyway, I surmise that far more paranoid wingnuts (I know, that’s redundant) are actually buying Rules for Radicals than are left-wingers, and I’m not sure whether Voight started the trend or whether he was just parroting what he’d heard from the right-wing noise machine.

But do the wingnuts really want to resurrect from the tomb the sales of an obscure left-wing tome?

Admittedly, I’ve been tempted to buy some of the best-selling wingnut titles in order to see what “arguments” the enemy is making (that is, what fucking bold-faced lies they are telling), but I’ve yet to do so. When I weigh satisfying my curiosity against actually enriching these wingnuts by buying their books for which trees actually died, the majority of these wingnuts being stupid white men (exceptions include Ann Cunter and Michelle Malkin, who are stupid white men trapped in women’s bodies), I find that I just can’t do the latter.

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Potbellies in, buffness out?

Is this actually becoming the new standard of male attractiveness? (If so, then I’m one attractive guy! [But I don’t have man-boobs (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and I’m a bit more endowed than that…])

Has the chiseled, buff look been so co-opted by gay men over the past several years that the chiseled, buff look now actually is considered to be effeminate?

How fucking pleasantly ironic if so!

I was delighted to see a recent piece on the New York Times’ website indicate that perhaps this is so — and that the potbelly (the “Ralph Kramden”) apparently is in. From the piece:

…[T]his year an unexpected element has been added to [men’s popular] look, and that is a burgeoning potbelly [that] one might term the “Ralph Kramden.”

Too pronounced to be blamed on the slouchy cut of a T-shirt, too modest in size to be termed a proper beer gut, developed too young to come under the heading of a paunch, the Ralph Kramden is everywhere to be seen lately…

Leading with a belly is a male privilege of long standing, of course, a symbol of prosperity in most cultures and of freedom from anxieties about body image that have plagued women since Eve.

Until recently, men were under no particular obligation to exhibit bulging deltoids and shredded abdominals; that all changed, said David Zinczenko, the editor of Men’s Health, when women moved into the work force in numbers. “The only ripples Ralph Kramden” and successors like Mike Brady of “The Brady Bunch” had to demonstrate were in their billfolds, said Mr. Zinczenko, himself a dogged crusader in the battle of the muffin top. “But that traditional male role has changed.”

As women have come to outnumber men in the workplace, it becomes more important than ever for guys to armor themselves, Mr. Zinczenko said, with the “complete package of financial and physical,” to billboard their abilities as survivors of the cultural and economic wilds.

This makes sense, in a way, but how does one account for the new prevalence of Ralph Kramdens? Have men given in or given up? …

“I sort of think the six-pack abs obsession got so prissy it stopped being masculine,” is how Aaron Hicklin, the editor of [the gay men’s magazine] Out, explains the emergence of the Ralph Kramden. What once seemed young and hot, for gay and straight men alike, now seems passé.

Like manscaping, spray-on tans and other metrosexual affectations, having a belly one can bounce quarters off suggests that you may have too much time on your hands.

“It’s not cool to be seen spending so much time fussing around about your body,” Mr. Hicklin said.

And so guys can happily and guiltlessly go to seed.

Women have almost never gotten a pass on the need to maintain their bodies, while men always have, said Robert Morea, a personal fitness trainer (full disclosure: my own).

It would be too much, he added, to suggest that “potbellies are suddenly OK,” but as lean muscle and functionality become the new gym mantras, hypertrophied He-Men with grapefruit biceps and blister-pack abs have come to resemble specimens from a diorama of “A Vanished World.”

“When do you ever see that guy, anyway?” Mr. Morea asked, referring to those legendary Men’s Health cover models, with their rippling torsos and famished smiles. “The only time you really see that guy, he’s standing in front of an Abercrombie & Fitch store.”

Perhaps, he suggested, there is really only one of them. “It’s the same guy. They just move him around.”

I’m not advocating that the “Ralph Kramden” should be the new gold standard for gay men’s look and that thus those soon-to-be-extinct dinosaurs with the “grapefruit biceps” should stop lifting weights and start developing watermelon abs.

I advocate that we gay men learn how to love and appreciate each other as human beings rather than as mere pieces of meat and that we see the beauty in all kinds of physical forms.

And, as much as this “bear”* might love to see chunky become the new gold standard of gay male beauty and to see the gym rats fall by the wayside — it would seem like exquisitely rare poetic justice — I hate gay clones and I don’t want voluptuous to become the new buff. Clones are clones, no matter how much body fat they are packing.

Speaking of gay clones, I understand that the gay men of the Castro district of San Francisco in the 1970s all looked alike — ectomorphic (slim) to mildly to moderately mesomorphic (muscular) — so that the phenomenon of gay clones has been with us for decades, apparently.

When I attended the Castro Street Fair almost two years ago, it was apparent that the ideal gay look was chiseled and buff (i.e., extremely mesomorphic).

After the thousandth shirtless hyper-mesomorphic clone that I saw at the street fair, I saw some normal-looking gay guys (that is, ectomorphic to mildly mesomorphic, not too thin but not buff or fat, either) at a kissing booth. After all of the nauseating mesomorphic clones, who apparently think that they’re special by copying everyone else, the ectomorphs-by-comparison at the kissing booth were looking very appealing to me. Seriously; after all of those walking slabs of beef I just wanted to see some normal guys.

When I see an uber-buff gay guy, I don’t think: Stud! I think: This guy spends waaay too much time in the gym to have developed any sort of a personality. This guy cares way too much about what others think of his appearance to have any substance. And of course he’s going to judge me by the same superficial standards by which he judges himself. And I think: The aging process is going to chew this guy up and spit him out.

Not that you can’t take care of yourself. Not that I oppose healthful practices.

But the swarms of sides of beef that I saw at the Castro Street Fair almost two years ago weren’t about health. They were about vanity and about wanting to be at the top of the gay-looks pecking order. My guess is that many if not most of them were on steroids, causing long-term damage to their bodies as well as to their souls.

The buff look became the gold standard for gay men sometime in the 1990s. Maybe it was the economic plenty of the Clinton years that freed up so many gay men’s time to be able to live in the gym.  

Gay porn, on which I am a bit of an expert, went from normal-looking guys in the 1970s to the early to mid-1980s to the buff look by the 1990s to the present.

Guys in 1970s mainstream gay porn rarely were fat, it is true, but they weren’t bodybuilders, either. Today, virtually no gay porn star can make it big unless he’s big because he lives in the gym.

Hopefully, the New York Times piece is correct and this is about to change.

Before I wrap this up, let me share a personal anecdote:

I attend a gay men’s discussion group once a week and a newbie named Albert (his real first name) came this past week. He’s about my age and he has a significant “Ralph Kramden” going on.

All that I could see (and feel) was Albert’s strong, positive energy. He’s newly out of the closet, says that he’s a construction foreman, and he looks it; you wouldn’t know that he’s gay unless he told you.

After group, when I remarked to another gay guy who had attended the group that I found Albert to be an attractive man (admittedly, it’s a contributing factor that Albert at least somewhat resembles a [slimmer] ex-boyfriend of mine whom I’ll always love), my peer stated that no, not with that belly is Albert attractive!

Wow.

I saw Albert, and apparently all that my peer could see was Fat Albert.    

We gay men want acceptance from the non-gay community when we don’t exactly have a shitload of acceptance within our own…

Yeah, you betcha, I sure in the hell hope that chunky becomes acceptable within the gay community. And that thin remains in.

And that it’s even still OK to be buff, too. 

P.S. I stumbled upon a Slate article critical of the New York Times piece on potbellies.

I hate Slate. First of all, it’s owned by mega-corporation MSN, so I’ve always been suspect of Slate from the get-go. Secondly, the writers always seem to look down upon their audience.

Anyway, the Slate writer writes that the New York Times writer “names no leader of potbelly hipness and uncovers no evidence of hip potbellies in the cinema, the stage, the concert hall, the night club or elsewhere. It’s just these random guts strolling around New York.”

OK, it’s not like they’re going to do a scientific study on the critically important subject of the hipness of potbellies, but the New York Times writer might be correct. And if potbellies are just now becoming hip, it would take a little bit of time for that fact to be reflected in the popular culture (duh!).

It seems to me that in times of economic downturn, people might focus less on the extras, less on the cosmetic. If you can’t make your house payment, maybe the status of your abdominal muscles isn’t so important to you anymore.

Time will tell whether or not the bulge is the new black.

*I put quotation marks around the word because while physically I am a “bear,” I don’t partake of the bear subculture and I don’t think that I have the “bear” persona.

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