Tag Archives: Greed

Notes on the nationwide occupations

Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrators hold placards Zuccotti Park

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator stands in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator holds a sign in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York

Reuters photos

These are my kind of people: The powers that be won’t admit it, but prolonged anti-plutocratic protests in our nation’s cities like these (the photos above were taken today in New York City) embarrass our nation’s plutocrats in the eyes of the world. That is why sustained protests are effective, although an all-out second American revolution would be the ideal.

I have yet to get my ass down to Sacramento’s Occupy Wall Street effort, Occupy Sacramento, but I support the participants and the protesters 100 percent, and I hope soon to support them more than just in spirit, but to support them practically. They don’t appear to be going away soon — they even have a website with a calendar of events — and their website has listed things that they need to have donated to them, including the basics, such as food, water and toiletries. I can do that much, if I can’t join them for long periods of time, since I work full time.

As Ted Rall points out in his book The Anti-American Manifesto, there are levels of support of revolutionaries. Even if you are able to support the participants of the Occupy Wall Street movement only in spirit, that’s still much better than opposing them.*

Many of us, I think, myself included, have been watching and waiting to see how all of this is going to pan out, and thus far it seems that it’s panning out to be the true people’s movement that the “tea party” traitors only pretended to be.

And I say that from direct observation. In February, at the California State Capitol here in Sacramento, I attended a pro-labor, pro-working-class rally in solidarity with the public-sector unions that were (and that remain) under attack in Wisconsin, and across the street from us was a much-smaller contingent of uninvited, treasonous “tea party” counterprotesters, many of them with videocameras, obnoxiously voicing their opposition to labor unions, very apparently wanting to provoke a physical response from us so that they then could post to the Internet their selectively edited video clips of “unprovoked” labor-union “thuggery.” (I wrote about the event here.)

The vision of those of us who are pro-labor and pro-working-class is that everyone should have a living wage, good benefits and good working conditions. The apparent “vision” of the “tea party” traitors is that almost everyone should be without these things and should be miserable. Those of us who are pro-labor and pro-working-class want to raise all boats; the “tea party” traitors don’t want us to own even viable boats. They want only a handful of us to own yachts while the rest of us sink or swim.

Labor unions, seriously weakened over the past several decades already, probably are the last barrier between bad and even worse, the last barrier — short of all-out bloody revolution — preventing all of us from becoming serfs to our corporate feudal overlords.

Yet the “tea party” traitors gladly would destroy that barrier. They claim that they follow in the footsteps of the early American revolutionaries who opposed the oppressive British monarchy, which profited obscenely from the early Americans’ labors, yet today’s “tea party” traitors do not oppose, but aid and abet, the oppressive corporatocrats and plutocrats, who are today’s monarchs, as stupidly as chickens aiding and abetting Colonel Sanders. Which is why I call them traitors: because they are. They support the status quo, they support the powers that be over their fellow Americans. Under their “vision” things only can get much, much worse.

Which is why the “tea party” already is pretty much dead: The insanity of “revolutionaries” fighting on behalf of our corporate oppressors is evident to even the dullest among us.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, on the other hand, feels like something else. It’s not a bunch of treasonous troglodytes in tri-corner hats pretending to have the monopoly on patriotism and Americanism. It’s a bunch of normal, working-class Americans, many if not most of whom now have nothing else to lose. At rope’s end, they now find themselves out in the streets.

Our young people especially have nothing to look forward to unless the current system of inequity, built up over decades (starting, most notably, with Ronald Reagan, whom President Hopey-Changey fucking worships, unsurprisingly) to benefit a select few at the expense of the vast majority of the rest of us,  is not reformed/“reformed,” but is replaced.

And people who have nothing to lose are, let me tell you, dangerous to the status quo.

That, I think, is why the “tea party” traitors never felt like much more than a national irritant: the “tea party” traitors, for the most part, aren’t desperate people, aren’t people with nothing else to lose. They’re just a bunch of tools who are trying to prop up the crumbling system of rule by the stupid white man, who incredibly stupidly believe that the way to improve things is to continue to do what you’ve been doing all along — only with even more force and fervor.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, however, feels like an incipient hurricane, one that, if it grows to its full potential, can — will — alter the national sociopolitical landscape forever.

The Occupy Wall Street movement might seem to have come out of nowhere, but that’s not the case. While we Americans have been focused on differences such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc., what almost all of us (indeed, 99 percent of us, the protesters say) have in common is that over at least the past several decades, those in power, gradually and behind the scenes, have been stacking the deck increasingly in their favor and against ours.

To name just a few of their deck-stacking victories, they have the U.S. Supreme Court, which has deemed corporations to be people, on their side; they have most of the members of the U.S. Congress in their pockets in a system in which paying off legislators isn’t called what it is — bribery — but is called “campaign finance”; they own and operate even President Hopey-Changey, who can’t make enough of them his economic advisers; and because of all of this, the functions of our nation’s laws and our nation’s law enforcement (and our nation’s military, too, of course), over decades, have been grossly contorted from benefitting and protecting us, the people, to delivering even more of our commonwealth into the hands of the super-rich few.

It’s much like how a virus hijacks a cell and changes the cell’s normal functions over to the replication of more viruses, benefiting the virus but eventually destroying the cell.

And our presidential elections under the political duopoly of the increasingly indistinguishable Coke Party and Pepsi Party have become such a fucking national joke to the point that about the only people who can become excited about them are the rich and the super-rich who have poured their millions and millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of the money-whores who, once in the White House, would sell us out the most.

Again, this isn’t a system that you can “reform.” This is a system that you can only raze. And then you start over again.

Anyway, here are more thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which at this point we can call a movement:

It’s fine that everything isn’t hammered out yet. Probably the No. 1 way to try to kill an individual’s or a group of individuals’ enthusiasm for creating something new — and thus to preserve the status quo, even though the status quo even literally is killing all of us — is to point out that he or she or the group doesn’t have every future move choreographed yet.

So fucking what? Getting there is more than half of the fun, and things do happen organically, if we just let them unfold and don’t panic that we don’t have a clear roadmap yet.

The early American revolutionaries surely didn’t have everything all mapped out, and to a huge degree their efforts were a shot in the dark (sometimes even literally). Yet it was their hunger for freedom from their oppression that kept them going, even against the fear of not knowing what the future would hold for them, including potential retaliation from their oppressors, including even their execution.

It’s perfectly OK to employ corporately produced and delivered goods and services in our fight against corporate oppression. In fact, it’s not just OK, it’s pretty unfuckingavoidable. Early into the Occupy Wall Street movement, the “tea party” traitors and/or their sympathizers put this “clever”  image out there:

down with evil corporations

Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s so fucking funny!

OK, yes, in a capitalistic system such as ours, by definition corporations/capitalists own and control the means of production. Therefore, most of the products and services in such an economic system would have been produced and delivered by corporations/capitalists. Duh.

But this is the problem: Those relative few who own and control the means of the production of goods and the delivery of services are slowly killing the rest of us (global warming is just one example, but probably the most [literally] glaring one), and they have taken over so much of the people’s business and so many of the people’s natural interests that it has left us, the people, fairly powerless, and has put us at their mercy. (The massive British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, on the sidelines of which the U.S. government sat fucking helpless, is a stark example of this.)

We, the people, need to own and control the means of the production of essential goods and the delivery of vital services and/or, at the very, very least, exercise meaningful, substantial, democratic oversight of capitalist production and practices to ensure that the net effect of this capitalist activity is not to our common detriment, but is to our common benefit. It’s a fucking lie that the corporations are going to police themselves. They’re not. Their only concern is ever-increasing profiteering. They don’t give a flying fuck about what happens to the rest of us as the result of that.

But the “humorous” image above does apparently unintentionally illustrate the degree to which corporations have infiltrated our lives. Of course, the image apparently assumes that corporations (the majority of them, anyway) are benevolent and that the Occupy Wall Street protesters just don’t know how great they have it. In order to try to prevent the slaves from revolting, the masters always tell the slaves how much the slaves need them, don’t they?

Anyway, it’s perfectly fine — and, as I said, fairly unfuckingavoidable — to use the goods and services produced or delivered by corporations in the fight against against corporate greed, in our fight against the ongoing corporate feudalization of the United States of America. This isn’t “Avatar” where we’re the natives and we can use only what we find in nature, for fuck’s sake. (Besides, if we did that, they’d only criticize us for our bongos and for our loincloths…)

Speaking of which, um, what’s wrong with bongo drums? Anyone who doesn’t mimic the consumeristic clones portrayed in corporate advertising isn’t a human being worthy of dignity and respect? It seems to me that the point of a revolution is freedom — which of course includes the freedom to be the way that one wants to be and the freedom to do what what wants to do as long as he or she isn’t harming anyone else.

The system won’t be changed from within, won’t be changed by cooperating with it. (Try to cooperate with it, and it will only co-opt you.) The protesters should keep their bongos and wholeheartedly reject the idea that the way to win this budding revolution is to don a three-piece-fucking-suit and act just like the assholes whom they want to overthrow.

The corporate media prostitutes who with straight faces call themselves “reporters” and “journalists” are owned and controlled by their corporate pimps, so it’s not like they’re ever going to be on our side anyway. Let them find the colorful members of Code Pink and the one person in the crowd who brought his or her bongo drums and put that kind of stereotypically negative image out there. (I love Code Pink, by the way. The members of Code Pink have balls, which is why they are so widely hated by cowardly, corporation-obeying sheeple.) Once the people’s revolution were complete, there would be no more treasonous corporate media anyway — which is why the self-preserving, self-interested corporate media portray in a negative light anything that threatens their continued parasitical existence.

The use of violence should never be taken off of the table. “Peaceful” this, “nonviolent” that — that kind of wussy talk makes me want to vomit. When did the so-called 1 percent ever rule out the use of violence against the rest of us? Indeed, when they’re not using actual violence against us, such as with police brutality or even just threatening to sic the National Guard on us, they are employing socioeconomic violence against us every fucking day (yes, Americans die every day because they do not have access to adequate health care, shelter, food, clothing and other basic necessities, almost all of which are controlled by our loving corporations).

Of course I don’t advocate wanton, willy-nilly violence in the street that is for the amusement of the perpetrators rather than for the greater cause. But I can think of no major world revolutions that did not take place without at least the credible threat of violence. The treasonous plutocrats aren’t just going to give us back what they stole from us over decades because we nicely ask them to do so. (Ted Rall and I are in agreement on this, and if you haven’t read his Anti-American Manifesto yet, you should — and you can get it for less than $10 on amazon.com [which, yes, is a corporation that for now is an/the avenue for most of us to most cheaply purchase books].)

Speaking of violence, whose side are the cops on? Increasing incidents of police brutality raise this question. (Didn’t the actions of the cops during Hurricane Katrina demonstrate to us whose side they are on?) Let’s fucking face it: Most cops are just paid security guards for the rich and the super-rich. And to add insult to injury, we, the people, pay the salaries of these security guards who work not for us, but who work for the rich and the super-rich.

Let me just say this: When the shit really hits the fan, those cops (and yes, members of the military, too) who still are trying to protect our oppressors instead of protecting us will be identified by the masses for who they are: agents of the oppressors. The cops might have some weaponry and some skill in using it, but we, the people, can get weapons, too, and we vastly outnumber the cops.

(I fully support the Second Amendment, because you never know when/if you will need to defend yourself, but I believe in the judicious use of firearms and other methods of force. I’m not one of the ignorant, fearful gun nuts who believes that the best way to solve virtually every conflict or threat or to get what you want is with a gun, but at the other extreme, “judicious” doesn’t mean that you rule out the use of force in every single conceivable situation, and thus a belief in blanket nonviolence is bullshit.)

Buckle up! Any budding revolution could fizzle, I suppose, but the Occupy Wall Street movement seems different. It seems like it’s here to stay for at least the foreseeable future.

Minimally, the Occupy Wall Street movement seems to be striking fear into the cold hearts of those sellouts who call themselves “Democrats” and “liberals” who had thought that they could shit and piss upon their base indefinitely. Maximally, the Occupy Wall Street movement will result in the second American revolution that we have needed for a long, long time — a revolution that will be only as bloody as the treasonous plutocrats and their supporters (who include the “tea party” traitors and those cops and members of the military who attack the American people in defense of the plutocratic traitors) necessitate.

Those sellouts who call themselves “Democrats” and even “liberals” don’t dare openly criticize the Occupy Wall Street movement, since the Occupy Wall Street movement consists of the millions and millions of us who are pretty fucking pissed off that we were promised “hope” and “change” but have seen only the gap between the rich and the poor widen since President Hopey-Changey took office in January 2009.

Wall-Street-weasel-coddler-in-chief Barack Obama has not a shred of credibility left, so I don’t see Team Obama successfully co-opting the Occupy Wall Street movement for Obama’s re-election campaign. Obama can’t now openly oppose Wall Street without only drawing even more attention to the fact that he’s been in bed with the Wall Street weasels since before he took office.

It’s safe to assert, I think, that the audaciously arrogant Obama and his henchpeople never saw the deeply politically embarrassing Occupy Wall Street movement coming, and that they’re still scrambling to figure out how to respond to it. (They will, I surmise, do their best to pretend that the new movement doesn’t even exist, since it wasn’t in their 2012 re-election playbook, and they will continue to pretend that we’re still in 2008, when “hope” and “change” weren’t just empty campaign slogans. The best slogan that they could come up with for 2012 would be something like “Really This Time!” — but how many would buy it?)

Defeating faux progressives like Obama & Co., I might argue, is even more of a coup for us actual progressives than is defeating blatant right-wingers, because if even phony progressives won’t be tolerated any longer, how could blatant right-wingers be tolerated any longer?

Finally, support your local revolutionaries! It seems to me that unless they can do something grandiose, many if not most people don’t do anything at all. The net result of this is that no one does anything. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t cost (much) money. If it’s not feasible for you to camp out at one of the occupation sites across the nation, as it isn’t for me, you still can talk to your friends, family members and associates in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can blog in support of the movement and otherwise assert your support for the movement on the Internet.

If the movement isn’t perfect, at least it’s Americans getting off of their asses and into the streets in order to redress their grievances, which is loooong overdue.

When you hear some assbite defend the corporations, such as with the “funny” graphic above, you can call him or her on his or her shit.

If you can give money or other necessary resources to the occupiers, why not? While writing this longer-than-usual blog post I gave $25 to Occupy Sacramento (my name is on their donors’ page, which is kind of cool). I’d rather be camping out with them, but giving them a donation is better than doing nothing at all.

At the bare minimum, if you don’t want to help to create a better world, if you are too fearful and cowardly and/or too lazy and/or too self-interested and/or too uncreative and untalented to help to alter the status quo, then the least that you can do is to stay out of the fucking way of those of us who are trying to make a difference.

P.S. As many have noted, one of the simple ways that you can fight back is to withdraw every penny that you have in any bank and to use only credit unions, not banks. I’ve used only credit unions for more than a decade now, and I’m quite happy with credit unions’ service.

*Occupy Sacramento’s donations page first lists this as the kind of support that it is seeking:

Spiritual

It’s not all about money; you can also support us by sharing the movement with your friends and family. Make a post on Facebook letting us know that you have our backs. Call the mayor and let [his office] know you support this movement.

I am pleased that Occupy Sacramento lists spiritual support first. It is a statement of faith that from spiritual support, material support naturally follows. And that’s not just faith; that’s observable fact.

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Elena Kagan is a pussy

Elena Kagan

Associated Press photo

Elena Kagan testifies before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today in her quest to become the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Kagan, being a woman (biologically, at least, to our knowledge…) is in a prime position to subvert the patriarchy, but she refuses to do so, instead choosing to claim that she just goes along with the good ol’ boys — like a good woman should.

I’m not following the confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan much, since her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court pretty much is a foregone conclusion.

But I am struck by what a pussy she is.

First, she and her supporters dodged the question of her sexual orientation. My money is on her being a big ol’ dyke. (We fags and dykes may use the words “fag” and “dyke”; you breeders may not.) By refusing to be out and proud, no gay man or lesbian — er, fag or dyke — is helping to advance the cause of equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals.

And now, Kagan is smooching militant stupid white male ass, assuring her stupid white male Repugnican inquisitors (especially uber-asshole Repugnican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alafuckingbama*) that of course she blindly, bleatingly, wholeheartedly supports the stupid white man’s military-industrial complex!

It’s a sign of how too-much power the bloated military-industrial complex has that a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court should feel the need to lick the asses of the members of the U.S. military-industrial complex and their brain-dead pseudo-patriotic cheerleaders — especially when the last justified war that the U.S. military fought was World War II and given the fact that now the U.S. military doesn’t stand for actual defense, but stands for corporate expansion (Iraq’s oil fields were nationalized before the Vietraq War but now are open to corporate exploitation, for example) and war profiteering (Halliburton, anyone?).

We civilians are supposed to be in charge of the U.S. military — not the other way around. Even though the wingnuts would rather that stupid white military men be in charge of the show, that’s not how it fucking works.

If Kagan had balls, she’d not only proudly assert her sexual orientation, but she would assert the fact that the U.S. military is to answer to civilian control and not vice-versa.

The Obama administration’s selection of the balls-less Kagan is just yet another example of how Clintonesque (that’s synonymous with milquetoast) the Obama administration is.

Elena Kagan — having been nominated by the president who promised us “hope” and “change” (only in order to get our campaign contributions, we realize now)should make me moist.

But because she has no balls, she leaves me quite dry.

*Here the wingnut is pictured today during Kagan’s grilling:

Jeff Sessions

Associated Press photo

You can tell that some people are major fucking assholes just by looking at them. Sessions is one of them.

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Raise THIS, baby-boomer bitches!

John Boehner

House Republican Leader Boehner watches U.S. ...

Associated Press and Reuters photos

Repugnican U.S. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio (photographed above in Washington, D.C., earlier this month), a member of the get-mine-and-get-out generation, wants to raise the age of eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits to age 70 for Americans who have at least 20 years to go before retirement (that would be Generation X’ers and Generation Y’ers and those who follow the Y’ers). Boehner also wants these future Social Security recipients (including yours truly) to have to prove their (our) need for Social Security checks. Don’t worry about the baby boomers, though — they’ll be well taken care of.

Like I needed yet another reason to despise John Boehner, the Repugnican minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Not only is Boehner (pronounced like bay-ner, not like boner, by the way…) a fucking baby boomer and a fucking Repugnican, but his steely-cold reptilian eyes always have given me the fucking creeps.

Boehner’s latest kick is his suggestion that the minimum age for receiving Social Security retirement benefits be raised to age 70 for those Americans who have at least 20 years left until they reach retirement age — and that these future Social Security recipients must prove that they need the Social Security checks before they can get them.

So the baby boomers, the get-mine-and-get-out generation, get it all — they get to collect Social Security retirement benefits as early as at age 62 and they get to collect these benefits even if they’re millionaires.

Under the Boehner plan, we of Generation X, however (and those who follow us), get fucked up the ass by the baby boomers. Like we always do. With ground glass for lube.

But we’re supposed to love the baby boomers. Love them.

I recently visited with my baby-boomer uncle. I always generally have liked him and considered him one of my favorite relatives, but during our recent conversation he referred to himself as a “socialist.” And he meant it; his political philosophy is progressive. He always supported and still supports Barack Obama. (Which is not to say that the labeling of Obama as a “socialist” is anything like accurate, because it is not. Obama is a Clintonista, not a socialist.) 

Yet my uncle the “socialist” is a contractor for the U.S. military, even though he acknowledges that the bloated military-industrial complex is not sustainable, and even though, he also acknowledged, the last necessary war that the U.S. military fought was World War II. He also lives in a gated community among golf courses in Tucson, Arizona — and he acknowledged that this lush community is not sustainable, being in the middle of the fucking desert but using so much water.

My uncle, to my knowledge, has no intention of changing his lifestyle before he dies, acknowledges that his lifestyle is not sustainable, yet calls himself, without any discernible hint of cognitive dissonance, a “socialist.”

And he’s one of the better baby boomers.

I’m so often called — almost exclusively by baby boomers — “angry!” As though that were a bad thing. (My baby-boomer uncle and my baby-boomer aunt both told me during our recent visit that they can’t read my blog because I’m so “angry.” [I wonder if they’ll read this…])

It’s easy for the members of a generation who had just about everything handed to them on a silver fucking platter and who are leaving not a crumb behind on that silver platter for those of us who follow them to criticize us Gen X’ers (and Y’ers) for being so “angry!”

In France, the young people are protesting right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Yes, from 60 to 62.

Reports The Associated Press:

Paris – The front lines of the latest French protest against raising the retirement age revealed a remarkable sight: Not the slightest wrinkle, not a single gray hair.

Brandishing “Save Our Pensions!” banners, students who haven’t even entered the job market yet are already worried about what happens when they leave it.

Welcome to France, where workers’ rights are so deeply entwined into the culture that even teenagers are unsettled about plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, which is still among the lowest in Europe. The reform protest brought nearly a million people out into the streets across the country Thursday.

Young people fear they will lose the most from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reforms, which aim to cut France’s ballooning deficit and make the money-losing pension system break even starting in 2018….

Shit. American young people are too busy texting to stand up against the baby boomers who are destroying their future. It’s pathetic.

Boehner (whose name I wish were pronounced like boner), even while proposing to fuck over royally my generation and the generations that follow mine, accuses the current Democratic “leadership” in Washington of “snuffing out the America that I grew up in.”

Oh, please.

It’s not the Democrats who are snuffing out the nation in which I was born in 1968 and in which I grew up.

It’s the fucking baby boomers who are destroying the nation. (Indeed, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who could be poster children for the baby-boom generation, started the nation’s destruction long before the black guy ever made it to the White House.)

It doesn’t matter whether they’re Repugnicans or Democrats, because even when they call themselves, in all seriousness, socialists, the way that the baby boomers live their lives demonstrates that they don’t give a flying fuck about the fate of those who follow them.

I think the reason that the boomers love to call me “angry” — as though this actually is going to shut me up — is because they’re terrified that anger sometimes leads to action.

What kind of action?

Well, why should we younger Americans just allow the baby boomers to continue to bleed our nation dry?

What if we decided, instead of just passively accepting our unfair and unjust treatment, to nip the baby-boomer problem in the bud?

Yeah, it just might come to that.

I hope that it does.

P.S. The French have so much more than Americans do because they fight the powers that be. The guillotines of the French Revolution, I understand, are always in the backs of the mind of France’s power elite.

Guillotines just might solve the nation’s problem of the baby boomers sucking up all of its resources, leaving future generations fucked.

I am reminded of that great line of Brad Pitt’s in Quentin Tarantino’s film “Inglourious Basterds.”

To paraphrase: “We’re in the boomer-killin’ bidness! And bidness is a-boomin’!”

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‘Obama’s Katrina’ is our fault

Comparisons of the Obama administration’s slow response to the current crisis created by corporate greed in the Gulf of Mexico to the unelected Bush regime’s slow response to the crisis created by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005 perhaps have been inevitable, but they miss the point.

Yes, both catastrophes have happened in the Gulf of Mexico, but that’s just about where any valid comparison ends. And by making such clumsy comparisons, we risk the failure to prevent more massive oil spills in the future.

The Bush regime didn’t respond to Hurricane Katrina because the Bush regime didn’t give a flying fuck about a bunch of poor black people in Louisiana. Had the eye of Hurricane Katrina been headed for “President” George W. Bush’s Texas, there might actually have been a response.

What prevented the Obama administration from responding faster to British Petroleum’s disaster, however, is the vast amount of power that the mega-corporations have accrued over the past several decades.

Although Obama has claimed that his administration has been on top of BP from day one of its April 20 oil rig disaster, it seems fairly apparent to me that BP kept the Obama administration at bay for some time, and that only after it became glaringly apparent that BP didn’t have the oil leak — which now is being called the worst in U.S. history — under anything like control that the Obama administration finally stepped up to the plate, under increasing political pressure.

We can make all of the Hurricane Katrina comparisons that we want to, but unless and until we, the people, take back our power that we stupidly and slovenly ceded to the corporations, we can expect more catastrophes like BP’s.

We need to take a long, hard look at capitalism and ask ourselves whether some tasks are too important and/or too dangerous to leave to the profit-driven private sector.

The private sector can do everything better, the capitalist swine snort.

Bullshit. The profit-driven private sector keeps cutting corner after corner in order to continually increase profits until we have such things as the current catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and the actual “death panels” that the for-profit wealth care — er, health care — industry established in order to deny people medical care in order to increase the insurance companies’ profits. (They get filthy rich only if they don’t give you the health care that they’re being paid to provide you when you need it. That’s a great fucking model for health care.) Global warming, too, is a result of corporate greed.

And speaking of global warming, to me the most alarming news today is that meteorologists predict that this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which begins next week, could be as bad as the 2005 season, which brought us Katrina.

Right about now is the perfect time for hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Never claim that things couldn’t get any worse than they already are, because of course they always can.

But I digress…

I’m all for the private sector making and selling things like cars and iPads and television sets and telephones and clothing and computers and movies and porn. Hell, I’m even more or less OK with the private sector continuing to make and sell houses, although the housing debacle would make me want to put a lot more thought into that issue, since housing is a necessity and not a luxury.

But drilling big holes in the ocean to tap oil reserves and maintaining those big holes? Health care? Education? Ensuring an ample supply of clean drinking water?

These kinds of things are too big and/or too important to leave to money-grubbing weasels. They need to be left to the government. To introduce a profit — and thus a corner-cutting — motive into them is inviting disaster, as the crude-oil-coated creatures of the Gulf of Mexico — and those whose living depends upon the Gulf of Mexico — can attest.

And giving such huge tasks as offshore oil drilling entirely to corporations means that the government doesn’t have the equipment or the expertise to deal with any problems that might occur, because over time it’s the corporations that have taken over those tasks. Cutting out the stonewalling corporate middlemen also would mean that problems could be addressed immediately by the government, because the government wouldn’t have to coordinate its efforts with any profit-driven corporation.

And corporate-crony-loving Repugnicans have no right whatsofuckingever to criticize the Obama administration’s sluggish response to the BP debacle when the eight long nightmarish years of rule by the unelected, oily Bush regime created an awfully cushy environment for Big Oil.

The Bush crime family has had oily dealings in Texas and in Saudi Arabia, Dick Cheney’s oily Halliburton wanted and got its Vietraq War and apparently has played a significant part in the current BP disaster, and fuck, even Condoleezza “You Know She’s Lying When Her Lips Are Moving” Rice had had a fucking Chevron oil tanker named after her, for fuck’s sake.

I don’t believe in letting President Obama off the hook for shit that is his responsibility, but we can’t blame Obama for the long-standing socioeconomicopolitical environment that he not only inherited in January 2009, but that all of us have allowed.

We can’t even blame the unelected Bush regime entirely for what it allowed Hurricane Katrina to do to the Gulf Coast in 2005 — after all, we, the people, had just allowed the Bush regime to blatantly steal the White House in late 2000 with no serious opposition from us. We should have been rioting in the streets, should have taken up pitchforks and torches, but instead we sat on our asses, sipping our Slurpees, telling ourselves that this Bush guy couldn’t be that bad. 

Had we acted as the patriotic citizens that we claim to be, “President” Bush, and thus Hurricane Katrina, might have been prevented.

And had we not just allowed our democracy to become a corporatocracy, we probably wouldn’t be witnessing the largest oil spill in U.S. history right now — while a savage hurricane season is just around the corner, ready to spread all of those millions of gallons of crude oil around even more quickly and more widely.

The BP oil spill should be our wake-up call and should teach us a great lesson.

And that lesson is not that we, the people, can continue to pin the blame for our national and global catastrophes on just one person, such as the president of the United States.

That lesson is that we, the people, get the kind of nation and the kind of world that we create and that we allow.

When, and if, we demand — really demand, exerting incredible political pressure — better of the powers that be, we will get better.

For right now, though, we are faced with millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico while Hurricane Katrina’s sequel looms, and the only people we can blame for that is ourselves.

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Assorted shit

Finally, a brilliant move by the Dems

Apparently the Democrats are planning to make the Repugnicans’ refusal to go along with Wall Street reform a centerpiece of their November election strategy.

It’s a brilliant move.

Perhaps spurred on by the attention that Michael Moore brought to the subject in his documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story” (which I reviewed here and which I just watched again on DVD), the Democrats have seized upon the fact that the Repugnicans prefer unfettered financial fraud to any regulations on Wall Street whatsofuckingever.

With so many Americans struggling financially, for them to see, graphically, what the Repugnican Party stands f0r — the interests of the plutocrats, the true elites — around election time should put a significant dent in any gains the Repugnicans otherwise anticipated they’d make.

The Repugnican Party’s insistence on aiding the already filthy rich at the expense of the rest of us should do at the ballot box for the Democrats what the unelected Bush regime’s constant reminder of the “threat” of “terrorism” did for the Repugnicans at the ballot box in 2002 and in 2004.

I’m starting to feel some hope that we’re going to have some change…  

Chuck Crist poised to pull a Benedict Lieberman

I remember the joke that Jon Stewart made when former Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman announced that he would run for re-election to the U.S. Senate as an independent candidate (under the newly formed “party” of “Connecticut for Lieberman”after he had lost the Democratic primary to opponent Ned Lamont: Stewart joked that Lieberman had announced that if he lost the Senate election, then he would start his own Senate. (Unfortunately, Lieberman won the 2006 election as an “independent,” but fortunately, this meant that he didn’t have to start his own Senate…)

That’s pretty much what it has come to, with power-hungry, egomaniacal baby-boomer (I know, redundant…) politicians refusing to take no for an answer and wanting to hold on to their power at all costs.

Repugnican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is featured in the excellent documentary “Outrage” as being a probable closet case, is considering running for the U.S. Senate as an independent because his Repugnican primary opponent, wingnut Marco Rubio, has overtaken him in the polls.

Under Florida law, Crist has until April 30 to decide whether to remain in the Repugnican primary or to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, a la Lieberman. (Under Connecticut law, Benedict Lieberman still was able to run as an independent after he lost the Democratic primary, but Crist does not have that option. [I suppose that Florida can do some things right where the fairness of elections are concerned…].) 

Crist has indicated that he’ll do what’s best for the people of Florida.

Oh, bullshit.

Crist will do what’s best for Crist.

Those who choose to participate in one of the two major parties should accept their fate if their political fortunes fall. Running as an “independent” because one can’t make it in his or her chosen party anymore is one of the refuges of the scoundrel.

It’s no different from phone-tapping

It is lamentable that those making the legal decisions regarding the privacy of employees’ electronic communications (e-mails, text-messages, etc.) are mostly baby boomers (or even older people) who barely fucking understand today’s electronic communications.*

I wholeheartedly disagree that an employer’s mere warning that its employees’ communications may be monitored makes it legal for it to monitor its employees’ communications any more than tapping their telephones is legal (except in certain circumstances, such as at call centers).

And if I give you warning that I might punch you in the face, does that make it legal for me to punch you in the face? Since when does a mere warning make a follow-up action legal?

New communications technology does not mean that the privacy laws that already apply to telephones, for example, don’t apply to that new technology.

The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding this issue now, with new Justice Sonia Sotomayor seeming to be leaning on the side of privacy protection and most of the other justices leaning on the side of Big Brother. 

Fact is, as Sotomayor seems to have indicated, most employers who snoop on their employees just get off on snooping.

Tell you what: When all of us can read the employers’ electronic communications, then maybe they can read ours. 

Um, yeah.

*The Associated Press indicates that Chief “Justice” John Roberts and “Justice” Antonin Scalia apparently don’t even understand how text-messaging works, yet they are poised to rule on whether or not privacy law applies to text-messaging.

Bill Clinton: Can’t we all just get along?

Former President Bill Clinton is quoted by The Associated Press as having said that the United States has an image around the world of having too much political infighting.

God, I’m sick and fucking tired of hearing direct or indirect calls for a national singing of “Kumbaya.”

Much if not most of the opposition to President Barack Obama stems from the fact that he is presiding while black, for fuck’s sake.

I’m supposed to make nice with a bunch of fucking racists and white supremacists? Who hate me and who want to continue to oppress me because I’m gay?

I just don’t fucking think so!

The rest of the world can think what it wants to think.

And Bill Clinton can go kiss all of the wingnut ass that he likes.

I, for one, would rather die than to give the impression that I think that the likes of Sarah Palin-Quayle and Glenn Beck and their fascistic followers are anything less than satanic.

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Social Darwinism does NOT apply to the poor CHILDREN among us

FILE - In a Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009 file photo, S.C. Lt. Gov.Andre ...

Associated Press photo

Repugnican South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer apparently is a believer in eugenics for the poor among us. You know, just like Jesus was. Jesus always said about the poor: “You gotta nip ’em in the bud!” (Look it up. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere...)

Memo to Repugnican South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer: Zac Efron wants his face back.

Second memo to Repugnican South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer: WTF?

No, really. Everyone is focusing on your recently having compared the poor to “stray animals” that, if we feed them, only “breed.” That kind of talk from a Repugnican doesn’t shock me. It’s from the Nazi playbook: First relegate a group of human beings to subhuman status, and then you can justify oppressing them.

And I myself believe that we have an overpopulation problem. However, I don’t single out any certain class of human beings for extinction by starvation, like you do. Not even the Repugnicans do I single out for such treatment, although I’m confident that the species and the planet — and hell, the universe — would be much better off without them.

What really gets me, Loooootenant, is your apparent “logic” that poor children have lower academic performance because they get free or reduced-cost meals at school.

You said this:

“I can show you a bar graph where the free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina. You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I’ll show you the worst test scores, folks. It’s there, period.”

Unless I cannot understand simple English, Zac, your “argument” seems to be that if we give schoolkids free or reduced lunches, their test scores will go down. Don’t feed ’em, and their test scores will go up! Duh! It’s a no-brainer! Gotta make those lazy kids work for it! Kids these days! They have no work ethic! They think there’s such a thing as a free lunch!

This is the comment of yours, Zac, that is getting people riled up:

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem. If you give an animal or a person ample food supply, they will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that….”

But I find your comment apparently correlating the availability of free or reduced-cost school lunches to low school test scores to be even more ludicrous.

To be fair, and not to be a hypocrite, I don’t give the homeless adults in my neighborhood any money because I know — I know — that they’ll only use it for alcohol or cigarettes or drugs. I even have instructed people visiting me in my ’hood not to “feed the bears.”

Truth be told, I don’t want alcoholic or junkie homeless people in my ’hood. And by giving them even pocket change I don’t want to give them incentive to stay in my ’hood and continue to panhandle.

I do blame their lot largely for the fact that our tax dollars go to human greed — to such traitors as the war profiteers like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton — instead of to human needs. I’ve lived where I live since 2001, and every year that the unelected BushCheneyCorp was in office, the numbers of homeless people I’ve seen in my neighborhood climbed annually.

Still, these homeless people — like the one alcoholic guy who kept sleeping on my porch (thanks, BushCheneyCorp!) — can be problematic, and no, truthfully, I don’t want them in my neighborhood; what I want is for my tax dollars to go toward helping them instead of to bogus wars for the military-industrial complex. 

But these homeless people are adults.

You, Lt. Gov. Efron, are against aiding poor children. Children.

No matter how good a child’s parent or parents may or may not be, you don’t punish the child for the child’s parent(s).

Zac, I understand your Repugnicans’ love of social Darwinism. You don’t want the masses to correctly conclude that it is because of the greed of the rich and the super-rich and the exploitation of the working class and the poor by the rich and the super-rich that we have so many poor people in the United States of America.

The rich and the super-rich fear an uprising of the have-nots. (They look at places like Venezuela, which has had a real revolution, with sheer terror.) Therefore, the rich and the super-rich blame the poor for being poor.

And they pay their spokesnakes, such as Glenn Asscrack and Rush Blowhard and Sarah Palin-Quayle, to put the message out there that it’s the poor people’s own damned fault that they’re poor. Even the poor children, too, according to you, Zac.

Lt. Gov. Efron, to clarify: Children don’t do poorly in school because they get free or reduced-cost lunches, if that is the point that you were trying to make. They tend to do poorly in school if they come from poverty-striken households, however. Their parents may not have had the education to be able to help their children very much, and their parents may not be able to afford things like books or other educational materials for the home. Working single parents may have little time and energy with which to help their children with school. 

Our mission — as Americans and as Christians, if we call ourselves Christians — is to help poor children, not to deny them free or reduced-cost school lunches, a la Ebenezer Scrooge.  

To suggest otherwise is unAmerican and unChristian.

I wholeheartedly support birth control. Abstinence clearly isn’t doing the trick. We get all of these immaculate conceptions even with abstinence. As I said, we need to reduce our population (by attrition; down, boy!). I’ve even used the term “breeder” myself to describe someone who irresponsibly brings a child into this already-overpopulated world.

But I don’t discriminate based upon socioeconomic class. Everyone needs to think twice about reproducing these days. Everyone.

But those children who already are here: We need to take care of them. Regardless of how we might judge their parents.

Only a Repugnican would assert otherwise.

I hope that your political career is over, Zac. Really, you deserve it.

P.S. The Associated Press notes that Bauer, age 40, was “a child of divorce who benefited from free [school] lunches himself.” That’s precious.

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Arianna Huffington, case in point

2010-01-07-091202_Huffington021_1.jpg

Self-important baby boomer (I know, that’s redundant…) Arianna Huffington thinks that you care how much sleep she gets each night. I know that I sure the fuck don’t.

I’m on a roll with my anti-baby-boomer crusade, so let me next discuss baby boomer Arianna Huffington as an illustration of some of the things that I’ve been talking about.

I have noted before that even liberal baby boomers suck to at least some degree.

Huffington is a case in point.

Huffington doesn’t pay the people who contribute to her website, The Huffington Post (estimated to be worth as much as $200 million), although she sure bashed her fellow money-grubbing swine in her book Pigs at the Trough.

Huffington herself — who used to be married to millionaire Repugnican Michael Huffington, until he came out of the closet, and who espoused right-wing ideas and values before she turned to the left — sure the fuck isn’t hurting, from what I can tell, but she can’t — or rather, won’t — pay her writers.

Huffington’s latest kick is her “Sleep Challenge 2010,” in which, I guess, her point is that women don’t get enough sleep, and so she’s trying to get more sleep and she’s going to tell us all about it.

Here are excerpts from her post on day four of her “Sleep Challenge 2010”:

…I’ve yet to meet my challenge goal of getting eight hours of sleep a night. But I’ve gotten close — getting seven and a half hours each of the last three nights.

And I’m already seeing the benefits, such as starting my day feeling like one of those horrible “rise and shine” people you normally want to throttle when you are among the sleep-deprived. And I’m hitting the ground running, minus the morning mental fog….

…Another luscious sleep aid: the yummy pink silk pajamas I just got as a gift. Just putting them on made me feel ready for bed — so much more than the cotton T-shirts I usually wear at night. These pajamas are unmistakably “going to bed clothes,” not to be confused with “going to the gym clothes.” Far too many of us have given up on the distinction between what you wear during the day and what you wear to bed. Slipping on the PJs is a signal to your body: time to shut down!

I also made sure I had my Blackberries (yes, I have more than one!) charging far, far away from my bed so I could avoid the middle-of-the-night temptation to check the latest news — which these days usually includes word on which Democrat is announcing his retirement and which Republican is accusing Obama of being “soft” on terror….

…My daughter is heading back east today, so my biggest challenge going forward will be my coffee consumption. All my friends know what a coffee addict I am — and will appreciate how tough it’s been to stick to my new vow not to have a drop of coffee after noon. So far this week I’ve tried and failed to keep my vow — that’s why I’m going public with it. Can you please be my Caffeine Police? If you see me drinking coffee after noon, you have my permission to take it from me — even if you have to pry my fingers off the cup!…

Are these the frantic rantings of a grown woman or of a fucking teenager?

There is nothing on the planet more pathetic than a baby boomer trying to be young and hip again.

It would never occur to me, a Generation X’er, that anyone would give a flying fuck about how much sleep I get every night, how many Blackberries I own (but for the record: zero), what I wear to bed, or that I’m trying to kick my coffee habit.

Arianna, get a fucking grip.

The polar ice caps are melting. We don’t give a fuck that you’re trying to kick coffee or that you just love your pink silk jammies. Nor do we need to hear you brag about how many electronic toys that you can afford to own because you don’t pay your writers.

Again, even the most liberal and progressive of the baby boomers — and even those who weren’t even born here in the United States, like Huffington (she was born in Athens, Greece) — are annoyingly self-centered and selfish.

That Arianna Huffington is one of the good ones — that speaks volumes of the problem of the baby boomers.

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Forgo the Christmas sweater and see Zemeckis’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

Film review (with gratuitous political commentary)

Charles Dickens character Scrooge played by Jim Carrey is shown ...

In this film publicity image released by Disney, from left, ...

In stills from Robert Zemeckis’ version of “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge, voiced by Jim Carrey, is confronted by the tortured ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley and is shown by the Ghost of Christmas Past the love that he gave up for the pursuit of money.

God bless Robert Zemeckis for bringing us “A Christmas Carol” at the same time that Glenn Beck (assuming that he really writes all of the books that are released under his name) has released his children’s picture book The Christmas Sweater (yes, I know, it’s frightening, a children’s book by the likes of Glenn Beck; if it is not a sign of the coming Apocalypse, then I don’t know what is).

Full admission: I would never purchase one of Glenn Beck’s books. I would never financially support a stupid white man, a dry drunk who claims that he is all about traditional values. Yes, Glenn Beck wants to drag all of us, kicking and screaming, back to the good old days — you know, the days when stupid white men like he, drunk on power, had complete control of everything, and we uppity women, non-whites, non-heterosexuals and non-Christians knew our place. (Um, yeah, that’s why if I had a child, I wouldn’t allow him or her to possess a copy of anything by Glenn Beck. Because I truly care about family values, and white supremacism, racism, misogyny, homphobia, xenophobia and “Christo”fascism are not family values.)

Anyway, although I’d never read anything by Beck, amazon.com does give this description of The Christmas Sweater (the full “novel” that the children’s picture book, released a year after the “novel” was released, is based upon) :

In Beck’s debut novel, the conservative radio and TV host makes a weak attempt at a holiday classic in the vein of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Despite his single mother’s financial hardships, 12-year-old Eddie is certain this Christmas he will receive his much-desired Huffy bike. To his dismay, what he finds under the tree is “a stupid, handmade, ugly sweater” that his mother carefully modeled after those she can’t afford at Sears (one of four places she keeps part-time jobs).

Eddie tosses the sweater and insults his mother before the two go visit his grandparents at their farmouse. On the drive home, though, Eddie’s exhausted mother falls asleep at the wheel and crashes, dying instantly. Sent to live with his grandparents, an increasingly bitter and angry Eddie lashes out at his accommodating guardians, engages in typical teenage angst and grapples with belief in God.

For all his focus on traditional family virtues like respect, love and forgiveness, Beck’s lightweight parable cruises on predictability, repetition and sentimentality.

That’s priceless: A materialistic baby boomer like Glenn Beck is going to lecture our kiddies hypocritically that they shouldn’t want stuff. Like the likes of Beck would pick the homemade sweater over the Huffy bike. And it’s incredibly and sickly ironic that Beck and his Fox “News” fully support the system of wage slavery in which a single mother would have to work more than one job, yet here is Beck writing about the tragedy of a single mother who has to work more than one job.

And what kind of kid’s book has the protagonist’s mother dying in a car wreck? Beck is one sick and twisted piece of shit, and I wouldn’t want my kids reading something by a sick and twisted piece of shit.

But I digress.

There is egomaniac Glenn Beck, who likens himself to Thomas Paine — yes, he actually released a book actually titled Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine — and then there is the real deal, Charles Dickens.

Wikipedia notes that Dickens, who lived from 1812 to 1870, “was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era and one of the most popular of all time. He created some of literature’s most memorable characters. His novels and short stories have never gone out of print. A concern with what he saw as the pressing need for social reform is a theme that runs throughout his work.”

Yup. While Beck writes a story about a boy who must feel awfully guilty that he wanted a bicycle over the sweater made for him by his mother, who works in sweat shops that Beck and Fox “News” support and who then dies in a grisly car wreck, Dickens was about doing something about the sweat shops.

Dickens was not about lecturing the downtrodden to just shut the fuck up and thank God for whatever they do have, which, from what I can tell, is the central message of The Christmas Sweater, a message that the plutocrats and corporatocrats are only too happy to have their Darth Vader in Glenn Beck deliver to our impressionable kiddies. (Further, why do the corporatists like Beck incessantly advertise their products and then criticize anyone for actually wanting one of their products, like a Huffy bike? They can’t fucking have it both ways.)

“A Christmas Carol” is, let’s face it, socialist.

The main character of “A Christmas Carol” is the Dick-Cheney-like Ebenezer Scrooge, who, when he sees the damage that his miserliness has caused others, does a 180 and decides to stop stealing other people’s money from them via the legalized thievery that is called “capitalism” (a.k.a. “just business”) and decides to give their rightful wealth back to them instead.

That’s hardly the Christmas message that the likes of “Fox” News’ Glenn Beck want to put out there, that the plutocrats should share the wealth that they have stolen and thus ease the suffering of the many around them. Why, that’s — socialist!

(Of course, Jesus Christ himself preached, over and over again, in black and white in the New Testament, about the evils of the rich [my favorite being his declaration that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven] and the virtue of helping the less fortunate, so Jesus must have been a socialist, too. And doesn’t Christmas come from Jesus Christ?)

But we can’t have a socialist/“socialist” — that is, a truly Christian — Christmas message put out there, so it’s the likes of Beck, with his fucking Christmas sweater, who are to save the day for the ultra-super-rich.

OK, my political commentary is over, so let me dive into Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol.” I just wanted to put it into some sociopolitical context first.

Zemeckis, who brought us the “Back to the Future” trilogy and “Forrest Gump,” lately has been giving us computer-aided fare, with “The Polar Express,” “Beowulf” and now “A Christmas Carol.”

I’ve seen all three of those films, and, like Roger Ebert declared that he would do in his review of Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol,” I won’t regurgitate the plot of “A Christmas Carol,” which everyone already knows, but I will talk about the technological aspects of Zemeckis’ latest.

Zemeckis’ craftspeople are getting better at capturing realistic human expressions (especially human eyes), but they’re not fully there yet. I found the creepy unnaturalness of the characters’ CGI eyes in “The Polar Express” to be too much to even be able to get into the film (which, if memory serves, I saw at an IMAX theater, so it was even bigger and even more unintentionally scary).

“Beowulf” was an improvement on the CGI technology that Zemeckis uses these days, but “Beowulf” suffers from a poor storyline (isn’t Beowulf what high schoolers dread they’ll have to read?) and a poor screenplay (as well as from testosterone overload, a la “300”). Of all of the stories that Zemeckis could have adapted, why Beowulf?

No, we didn’t need another “A Christmas Carol,” either. You’re right. We didn’t. Except that we probably did. In these BushCheneyCorp-induced times of economic collapse and the subsequent national environment of fear and uncertainty that that collapse has caused, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the fact that the reason that there is so much poverty and suffering around us is that there are so many Ebenezer Scrooges around us.

Of course, Dickens’ story relies on four spirits to induce Ebenezer Scrooge to change his ways. In our case, we can’t count on spirits preventing the plutocrats from completely destroying our nation (although I must wonder if the ghost of Ronald Reagan would replace the spirit of Dickens’ Jacob Marley were a ghost to appear before the Scrooges of today). We, the people, might have to take matters into our own hands — the threat of which is why we have such things as “Fox” News and its henchmen like Glenn Beck.

(There I go again…)

Anyway, Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” has the eye thing down, at least where it comes to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. Zemeckis’ CGI Scrooge is quite humanlike, but it’s the other characters, especially the extras in the streets, on whom the CGI technicians presumedly spent less time and effort, that have that unnatural, not-quite-human look that we have seen in “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf.”

Zemeckis makes the burly Ghost of Christmas Present surprisingly hunky, replete with a copious amount of apparently proudly displayed strawberry-blond chest hair (although apparently Zemeckis was fairly faithful to the appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Present as he appeared in Dickens’ original novel), and Zemeckis interprets the Ghost of Christmas Past interestingly — as a human-candle hybrid, with the head of the ghost being the flame of a white candle that occasionally flickers as the ghost speaks (which I, like Ebert did, found to be an interesting special effect).

Much of Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” is like a roller-coaster ride, with the latter three spirits zipping Ebenezer here and there, over rooftops and landscapes, in order to show him where he fucked up his life in the past, how his miserliness has harmed others in the present, and how his miserliness will affect him in the future if he doesn’t change his ways drastically.

The greatest liberty that Zemeckis took with “A Christmas Carol” is the segment in which he has Scrooge shrink to the size of a mouse during his time with the Ghost of Christmas Future. At first I took umbrage with this liberty — Dickens never shrunk Scrooge! — and other reviewers have said that they didn’t like it, but Zemeckis at least ultimately makes it work, especially when the mini-Scrooge finds himself in the home of his impoverished maid, who is talking to her husband about Scrooge after his death.  

Jim Carrey (who also gave us the live-action Grinch, recall) did an excellent job voicing Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. (Well, OK, he is credited with being the voice of the grim-reaper-like Ghost of Christmas Future, but I don’t recall that that ghost says a word…) Why Carrey has taken so much shit from reviewers, proclaiming in their sheep-like unison that One Jim Carrey is enough!, I don’t know. Jealousy over Carrey’s talents, maybe?

“A Christmas Carol,” although fully titled “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” (shudder — that a corporation would co-opt the anti-corporate Dickens is sickening), probably isn’t for small children. I found the slack-jawed ghost of Jacob Marley to be at least moderately disturbing, so I can’t imagine that most small children wouldn’t find it to be even more disturbing.

But most older children and adults — except for the plutocrats and corporatocrats and their supporters, of course, who equate the easing of poverty with “socialism” and who would regard Ebenezer Scrooge as a Great American Capitalist Hero — will enjoy Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol,” not only for its technological achievements (and you must see it in 3-D if it’s playing near you in 3-D), but also for the fact that it remains faithful to the spirit of Dickens’ short novel — which is the true spirit of Christmas.

Fuck Glenn Beck and his fucking Christmas sweater.

My grade: A

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An open letter to Joe Solmonese

Joe Solmonese — here he is rubbing shoulders with pseudo-progressive Billary Clinton (the Clintons did little to nothing for gay men and lesbians but they sure have liked their money!):

— is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, probably the nation’s most powerful gay and lesbian rights lobbying group.

From what I can tell, Joe really likes himself.

Well, probably not, not really, not when you really examine it. I mean, how can you sell out your people for personal gain like he does and really like yourself?

But he “likes” himself like so many pretty and rich white gay men “like” themselves, I mean.

Dear Joe (may I call you Joe?):

I have given the Human Rights Campaign a considerable amount of money, probably especially after Proposition Hate passed here in California in November. Not only am I a member of the HRC — well, I think that I’m still a member in good standing, since I still get the quarterly HRC publication Equality in the mail– but I’ve purchased a lot of stuff from the HRC website’s shop, and I do believe that I’ve made at least a few one-time online contributions to the HRC as well.

But Joe, I’m concerned.

Looking at the fall 2009 issue of Equality, I see some things that I find disturbing.

I see all of these full-page ads for corporations. There is, on page 6, a full-page ad for American Airlines. Does American Airlines pay its pilots diddly squat, like Michael Moore exposed in his latest work, “Capitalism: A Love Story”?

On page 8 of Equality is a full-page ad for Chevron. Chevron. Didn’t Condoleezza “You Know She’s Lying When Her Lips Are Moving” Rice go directly from Chevron to the BushCheneyCorp?

I mean, Chevron, Joe? Because we all know that global warming is bullshit! Condi says so!

I don’t know much about Wall Street, Joe, being quite middle class (if, um, that), but on page 10 is a full-page ad for Deloitte, on page 14 is a full-page ad for Ernst & Young, and on page 15 is a full-page ad for Citigroup. Aren’t these all players on Wall Street, and wasn’t at least one of these Wall Street players featured in “Capitalism: A Love Story” as one of the recipients of the bullshit $700 billion taxpayer bailout of Wall Street? (Wasn’t it Citigroup that Moore was wrapping crime-scene tape around in “Capitalism”?)

Wait, there’s more. On page 18 is a full-page ad for Prudential.

Oh, and Chevron won’t be outdone, because on page 22 is a full-page ad for Shell Oil.

But hey, escape from all of this depressing talk about corporate responsibility and check out “the new Luxor” in Las Vegas, which has a full-page ad on page 24 (and features an apparent lesbian apparently using another apparent lesbian for her money — sweet!).  

Page 31 of the current issue of Equality advises us readers to “SUPPORT [the HRC’s] NATIONAL CORPORATE SPONSORS” and lists such corporate sponsors as American Airlines, Citigroup, Bank of America, Chevron, Harrah’s Entertainment, Nike, Shell, Chase and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Sure, there are some corporate sponsors of HRC that don’t strike me as too bad and some I haven’t even heard of, such as Google and Dell and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (is this a corporation or are these two rich gay men who are in love with each other and who would like the whole world to know by spelling it out that way?). But most of HRC’s corporate sponsors send shivers up my spine, Joe.

My point, Joe, is that it’s not enough for me to know that someone affectionately prefers members of his or her same sex like I do and/or that his or her corporation is willing to give the Human Rights Campaign some money. I want to know that a person or a corporation isn’t causing others harm, even if he or she or it is not overtly anti-gay.

And as a gay man, I’m sick and tired of being reduced to a target group by corporations that don’t wuv me, as they claim, but that just want my money. It’s calculated, Joe. Corporations almost never do anything that they don’t believe will help their profits. If appearing to be pro-gay-and-lesbian will bring in the profits, then the corporations will do it.

I look at the whole picture, Joe, not just my tiny place within it.

Your concerns might be very different from mine, Joe. You might make a lot of money as the president of the HRC, and thus these “corporate sponsors” might be very important for you to be able to continue to live in the way in which I’m guessing that you’ve become accustomed.

But, Joe, when I weigh your personal fortune against things like, oh, say, the future of the entire planet itself, the future which the likes of Chevron and Shell and many if not most other transnational corporations are threatening, well, um, no offense, Joe, but I’m going to have to put the well-being of the entire planet above your own personal well-being.

Joe, lots and lots of corporations give a teeny-tiny percentage of their obscene profits to groups like the Human Rights Campaign in order to make it look like they’re actually not that bad after all.   

But, Joe, they’re actually that bad after all.

Have you seen the documentary “Flag Wars,” Joe? (Please indulge me a little here…) In that documentary, gay men and lesbians (living in Ohio) are portrayed as selfish, cold-hearted money-grubbers who care only about their own personal fortunes.

There’s a rich white lesbian who, in one great scene, goes on a drunken rant about how great capitalism has been to her. (It’s funny how both the impoverished and the rich sure seem to like to get drunk a lot, but I digress…)

In another scene in “Flag Wars,” an apparently rich white gay man states that historical homes in his neighborhood have to be “saved” from the poor. These homes have to be snatched away from their impoverished long-time residents by rich gay men and lesbians, renovated, and then sold for big profits. Screw the poor and save the homes! That’s what the gay men and the lesbians in the film say, in effect, quite unabashedly: it’s profits over people.

What kind of human beings do we gay men and lesbians want to be, Joe?

I don’t know about you, but as for me, before I am a gay man, Joe, I am a human being, and you know what? I don’t want to be the kind of human being like the heartless gay men and lesbians who are portrayed in “Flag Wars,” and the Human Rights Campaign encourages gay men and lesbians to be this kind of human being by kowtowing to corporations, perhaps especially to the Wall Street players and big oil.

I don’t know that I can continue to be a member of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe. HRC’s pro-corporate values certainly don’t seem to be in alignment with my own values as a gay man who cares about others besides myself.

I think that I already know what your counter-argument will be, Joe: HRC really, really needs the money that the corporations throw its way. And that if you didn’t accept that money as HRC president, then someone else would. Yadda yadda yadda…

But you know what, Joe? I am sick and tired of being sold out by gay and lesbian “leaders.” It’s not just you — it’s almost all gay and lesbian “leaders” who, for just the right amount of money (which often isn’t really that much) and the opportunity to do such things as to be photographed with Billary Clinton, will sell their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters (and indeed, all of the rest of humankind) out.

So we see all kinds of things that are harmful to the gay and lesbian community. We see ads for alcohol and for bars in almost all of the gay and lesbian publications, and often a gay and lesbian community’s “leaders” (such as is the case here in Sacramento) are the owners of the gay and lesbian bars that encourage alcoholism and smoking and drunken hookups, which are so helpful for the gay and lesbian community!

We see the ads for the anti-HIV drugs placed by the big-pharma corporations in which healthy-looking, young, muscular models give gay men the idea that HIV is no big deal — if you catch it you can just take a pill.

(The other gay and lesbian “leaders” in Sacramento and elsewhere are the publishers of the gay and lesbian rags who personally profit from such advertising that actually harms the very same community that they claim they are helping.)

When we gay men and lesbians aren’t being encouraged by our “leaders” and their for-personal-profit businesses and publications to be drinking and smoking and sexing, we’re encouraged to buy stuff, to use materialism (including personal investments and pointless travel) as our drug of choice. (The fall 2009 issue of Equality also includes full-page ads for travel agencies, hotel chains and furniture.)  

Is there nothing more to being gay or lesbian than catering to our addictions to chemical substances, to sex and to money and things, Joe?

Can we gay men and lesbians perhaps be bold and brave leaders instead of being trembling followers, and help our fellow men and women, regardless of their sexual orientation, out of the spirit-and-soul-crushing effects of the humongous corporations that now control almost every aspect of our lives, even the groups like HRC that are supposed to be helping to make us free?

Joe, can you be part of a revolution that actually makes gay men and lesbians free, truly free, instead of keeping them enslaved to such things as materialism and alcoholism and sex addiction and other addictions?

Or are you utterly unable to part with the lifestyle that you have attained, even though your lifestyle comes at the expense of those you are supposed to be helping and freeing?

Please let me know, Joe.

But, truthfully, I’m not holding my breath for your response, because you seem to be addicted to corporate money, and it just might take an intervention, because I doubt that you can overcome your addiction on your own.

Thanks for listening.

Yours,

Robert Crook
Sacramento, California

P.S. From what I know of Harvey Milk and what he thought of Democrats who just use the members of the gay and lesbian community as ATMs — and what he thought of those members of the gay and lesbian community who support these Democrats — Milk is not just turning, but he is spinning, in his grave.

(Actually, you might know that Milk was cremated and not interred, but that fact just doesn’t lend itself to my point…)

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Eight (more) is more than enough

A combination picture shows (clockwise from top L) Josiah, Makai, ...

Reuters photo

And eight more make 14: “Octuplet(s) mom” Nadya Suleman, whose latest eight children, born last month in Southern California, are pictured above, now has a total of 14 children yet is single and unemployed. But she doesn’t exist in a vacuum and she’s just a part of the problem.

I haven’t chimed in yet on the Southern Californian “octuplet(s) mom,” 33-year-old Nadya Suleman, but she’s in the news (still), so I suppose that it’s time to put my three cents in.

Suleman is represented in two of Yahoo! News’ most-viewed news stories today: “Threats Send California Octuplets Mom into Hiding” and “Taxpayers May Have to Cover Octuplet Mom’s Costs.” 

From the latter news story:

LOS ANGELES – A big share of the financial burden of raising Nadya Suleman’s 14 children could fall on the shoulders of California’s taxpayers, compounding the public furor in a state already billions of dollars in the red.

Even before the 33-year-old single, unemployed mother gave birth to octuplets last month, she had been caring for her six other children with the help of $490 a month in food stamps, plus Social Security disability payments for three of the youngsters. The public aid will almost certainly be increased with the new additions to her family.

Also, the hospital where the octuplets are expected to spend seven to 12 weeks has requested reimbursement from Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, for care of the premature babies, according to the Los Angeles Times. The cost has not been disclosed.

Word of the public assistance has stoked the furor over Suleman’s decision to have so many children by having embryos implanted in her womb.

“It appears that, in the case of the Suleman family, raising 14 children takes not simply a village but the combined resources of the county, state and federal governments,” Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten wrote in Wednesday’s paper. He called Suleman’s story “grotesque.”

On the Internet, bloggers rained insults on Suleman, calling her an “idiot,” criticizing her decision to have more children when she couldn’t afford the ones she had and suggesting she be sterilized.

“It’s my opinion that a woman’s right to reproduce should be limited to a number which the parents can pay for,” Charles Murray wrote in a letter to the Los Angeles Daily News. “Why should my wife and I, as taxpayers, pay child support for 14 Suleman kids?”

She was also berated on talk radio, where listeners accused her of manipulating the system and being an irresponsible mother….

Suleman’s spokesman, Mike Furtney, urged understanding….

Furtney said he, Suleman and her family had received death threats and had been getting messages that were “disgusting things that would never be proper to put in any story.”

In her only media interviews, Suleman told NBC’s “Today” she doesn’t consider the public assistance she receives to be welfare and doesn’t intend to remain on it for long.

Also, a Nadya Suleman Family Web Site has been set up to collect donations for the children. It features pictures of the mother and each octuplet and has instructions for making donations by check or credit card.

Suleman, whose six older children range in age from 2 to 7, said three of them receive disability payments. She told NBC one is autistic, another has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, and a third experienced a mild speech delay with “tiny characteristics of autism.” She refused to say how much they get in payments.

In California, a low-income family can receive Social Security payments of up to $793 a month for each disabled child. Three children would amount to $2,379.

The Suleman octuplets’ medical costs have not been disclosed, but in 2006, the average cost for a premature baby‘s hospital stay in California was $164,273, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Eight times that equals $1.3 million.

For a single mother, the cost of raising 14 children through age 17 ranges from $1.3 million to $2.7 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture….

[California state] Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, an oral surgeon who sits on the Health Committee, said that once a state Medical Board investigation is complete, lawmakers could review issues from government oversight to standards in fertility treatment.

Suleman received disability payments for an on-the-job back injury during a riot at a state mental hospital, collecting more than $165,000 over nearly a decade before the benefits were discontinued last year.

Some of the disability money was spent on in vitro fertilizations, which was used for all 14 of her children, Suleman said. She said she also worked double shifts at the mental hospital and saved up for the treatments. She estimated that all her treatments cost $100,000….

In the NBC interview, Suleman said she will go back to California State University, Fullerton in the fall to complete her master’s degree in counseling, and will use student loans to support her children. She already owes $50,000 in student loans, she told NBC. She said she will rely on the school’s daycare center and volunteers.

Suleman does strike me as a head case, one of those women who feels incredibly empty and feels that only infants can ease — temporarily — her feeling of emptiness, but of course she shouldn’t be the recipient of death threats, assuming that she truly has received death threats.

And we need to examine Suleman within her social context and not pretend that she exists in a vacuum.

For instance, I hope that the physician or physicians who agreed to help her to have even more children that she can’t take care of are investigated and disciplined. Clearly this physician or these physicians were more interested in making $$$ than they gave a shit about the ramifications of what they were helping Suleman to do.

And Suleman’s case is a grand opportunity to examine the fact that Americans seem to love to jump knee-jerkedly all over so-called “welfare moms” while the U.S. Treasury is looted of hundreds of billions of dollars by war profiteers such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton.

Years and years of Repugnican propaganda have made a huge chunk of Americans believe that it’s perfectly OK for war profiteers to use billions and billions and billions of our tax dollars to maim and kill Muslim and Arab civilians, including babies and children, benefiting only the war profiteers in the process (and causing such blowback as 9/11), yet to actually spend a single taxpayer’s penny on a poor American in need is “socialism” or “communism” or the like.

The enemy is not “welfare moms.” The enemy is the traitors like the rogues of the unelected, treasonous Bush regime, who looted the U.S. Treasury of billions and billions and billions of dollars that went not to Americans’ needs, but to the BushCheneyCorp’s cronies’ greed.

But it sure seems safer to bash a single unemployed single mother than to take on the stupid white men’s military-industrial complex, doesn’t it? Besides, the traitors who loot the U.S. Treasury via the military-industrial complex assure us that they are doing so for “our” “national security” and for “our” “safety” and for “freedom” and for “democracy” and for Jesus and God and for puppies and kittens. And we stupidly believe them.

But Suleman and all parents must take responsibility, too. A huge problem of the crumbling American empire is that Americans want to believe that they exist in a vacuum and that what they do (or don’t do) doesn’t affect anyone else.

Bullshit. Everything is connected. Even if all of Suleman’s children receive the basic physical necessities of survival, how can 14 children possibly receive the attention from her that they would need in order to grow up to be functional, fairly content adults?

When children are not raised properly, do they not become involved in such things as substance abuse and crime? Do they not inherit unemployment and perhaps even homelessness? Do they not possibly end up incarcerated if their problems are that severe? Do they not become dependent upon the system, too?

Having children isn’t only about providing for their physical needs, and I don’t only pick on Suleman; as I noted in October 2005 when I wrote about the 18-child Duggar family (who had 16 children then), “there’s no fucking way that those children could get the time and attention that they need in order to become mentally and spiritually healthy adults. It’s just not physically possible. Even if the parents were model parents, it’s a matter of fucking physics.”

Bringing a child into the world has all kinds of repercussions. The child needs to be fed and sheltered and clothed from cradle to grave. And the child needs education and health care, among many other things. Often the parent or parents can’t cover those costs and so the rest of us do — yet the parents never asked us for our permission to have to support their children.

The child, when he or she grows up, economically contributes to the world, too, you say. True, but with six billion people and counting, the planet can support only so many human beings. You can’t just keep adding an indefinite number of fish to an aquarium without most or even all of the fish eventually dying — so why do we deludedly believe that you can just keep adding an indefinite number of people to the planet? 

We Americans need to stop thinking selfishly as individuals and start looking at the bigger picture, or there won’t be a bigger picture in which we can exist as individuals any longer.

And looking at the bigger picture means not just lambasting Nadya Suleman, but addressing the incredible disconnect within the United States of America, where everyone acts as though what he or she does or does not do does not affect anyone else.

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