Album Cover Art Wednesday: Nichols & May Examine Doctors

American cultural icon Mike Nichols died last week at the age of 83. His track record as a film and stage director was unparalleled.  My personal favorites among his films are The Graduate and Charlie Wilson’s War, which were done some 40 years apart. He was also the favorite stage director of one of my comedic heroes, Neil Simon. Additionally, Nichols was one of the few people ever to win, if that’s the right word, the EGOT. If you don’t know what that is, I’m not sure if we can remain friends…

One of the reasons Nichols was so adept at comedy was that he began life as a comedian in partnership with Elaine May. Here’s the cover of one of their LPs:

Nichols & May Examine Doctors

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I Hope You’re Proud, Rush Limbaugh

I’ll bet he is, actually: 

One Less held seminars for student groups on bystander intervention and how to be supportive of survivors. Jackie dove into her new roles as peer adviser and Take Back the Night committee member and began to discover just how wide her secret UVA survivor network was – because the more she shared her story, the more girls sought her out, waylaying her after presentations or after classes, even calling in the middle of the night with a crisis. Jackie has been approached by so many survivors that she wonders whether the one-in-five statistic may not apply in Charlottesville. “I feel like it’s one in three at UVA,” she says.

But payback for being so public on a campus accustomed to silence was swift. This past spring, in separate incidents, both Emily Renda and Jackie were harassed outside bars on the Corner by men who recognized them from presentations and called them “cunt” and “feminazi bitch.” One flung a bottle at Jackie that broke on the side of her face, leaving a blood-red bruise around her eye.

I wonder where this fine young fellow learned that term. Not that Rush invented the idea of women’s rights activists spoiling all the MENZ fun by, you know, demanding they not get raped and stuff, but he certainly gave it a catchy nickname.

This whole story is a massive nightmare, but for whatever reason this the part I glommed onto, because doing that to women? That’s TAUGHT behavior, and you can talk all you want about girls going to parties and drinking underage and drinking too much and walking home alone and the frat system and everything else, but at the root of this is teaching young men that women are not friends. They are prey.

This comment on Gawker gets close to making a lot of sense: 

Men and women should live in the same buildings in college. The dorm I lived in college had mens and women’s sides, but they were just different ends of the same hallway, with the elevator and common area in between, and mens and women’s bathrooms on each side of the elevator. We were free to walk through and spend time in each others’ areas and rooms. One RA per floor, for both the men and women together. Frankly, it would have been about the same if the rooms were just mixed. And with the growing number of out LGBT students, mixed-gender rooms should be on the table too.

It dramatically lessens the sense of having some all-male “fox den” or all-female “hen house”, and makes the presence of the opposite sex something normal and mundane, rather than an infrequent, sexually-charged booze-fuelled encounter. College age men need to be able to see women as actual people – friends and peers – that they run into in the elevator and laundry room and TV lounge – rather than as some mysterious, sexualized, foreign being which only enters their living space late at night during parties.

I grew up with boys, boy cousins and guys my dad worked with. I was always around men, and when I worked with boys in college they were all like my brothers, and we’d have taken bullets for each other. I’m not saying I’m some kind of exception or that rape culture doesn’t exist, I’m saying my environment, healthy as it was, was rare and that’s not a good thing. That breeds this kind of exoticism, this resentment at something not really well understood, this tendency to argue with imaginary people, with “feminazis” and “cunts” instead of the girl in the next room.

We are not real to each other and that is taught, and it is taught in the avalanche of hate and fear that comes out of the right-wing puke funnel and it’s always had its adherents, but we didn’t used to amplify it every single day and make it a fucking catchphrase.


A Nation Under The Law

Obama last night: 

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law.  And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words:  “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.  No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes.   

The point isn’t even that laws exist. The point is that if the system doesn’t serve people, if the system doesn’t make us better, if the system doesn’t fix us or help us or keep us safe, then the system is bullshit and the system needs to go.

And the system in St. Louis Count hasn’t been serving people for a good long time. If you needed evidence of that, look at the orchestrated prime-time grand jury announcement, the way they set it up so that everybody would see and hear: There will be no justice for you. There will not even be a QUESTION if you should receive justice. There will not even be a trial. Hours of build-up, and then the lights went on and everybody heard.

We will spend far more time talking about the behavior of protesters than we ever will the behavior of police. We will talk about whether a young black man should be shot for supposedly robbing a convenience store, whether a young white man should be kicked off the football team for videotaping himself and his buds gang raping a girl, and we will decide yes to the former and no to the latter.

Because we are a nation built on the rule of law.



Malaka Of The Week: Uber

During the New Orleans City Council’s heated debate over Uber, my eyes glazed over and I swore that I’d never write about them. I stuck to my guns until last week’s revelation of Nixonian style ratfucking and learned that there was a world of malakatude surrounding it and that is why Uber is  malaka of the week.

Uber’s corporate ethos, such as it is, is a combination of 19th Gilded Age Century capitalism and modern dudebro frat boyism with a heavy dose of Randian gobbledygook. Last week, Uber Veep Emil Michael added a dash of Donald Segretti to the company’s toxic mix of malakatude:

A senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.

The executive, Emil Michael, made the comments in a conversation he later said he believed was off the record. In a statement through Uber Monday evening, he said he regretted them and that they didn’t reflect his or the company’s views.

His remarks came as Uber seeks to improve its relationship with the media and the image of its management team, who have been cast as insensitive and hyper-aggressive even as the company’s business and cultural reach have boomed.

You say insensitive and hyper-aggressive, I say arrogant and obnoxious, let’s call the whole thing off. Uber prides itself on being a “disruptor” of the moribund ground transportation market. What the hell are they, Klingons?

Klingon disruptor

Underneath the macho glibertarian bravado,  Uber seems to be a shell game and scam. It values the business at a cool 18 billion simoleons for a ride share company with an app, which is stone cold crazy according to an analysis posted at TPM this morning. They have substituted chest beating and dick waving for a sound business plan and seem to have gotten away with it for now. I know that’s an oversimplification but since Uber oversimplifies everything I’m in bad good company.

I have a confession to make. I’m something of an aficionado of the Shark Tank/Dragons’ Den genre of teevee shows. (Dragons’ Den Canada is my favorite. Thanks, YouTube.) We all have our guilty pleasures and one of mine is watching cartoon villain Kevin (Mr. Wonderful) O’Leary and company mock pitchers for their crazy valuations. Uber makes the craziest of those folks look sane and rational. It’s all about their rabid PR pitch: cabs slow, regulation bad, technology good. That’s right: they’re essentially high tech cavemen and lots of people have fallen for their spiel.

I admire chutzpah as much as the next guy. Uber has an abundance of chutzpah but its empire rests on a frail reed of a business model. If Uber spreads, there will be an increasing number of stories such as this:

An Uber driver is accused of seriously injuring a passenger by bashing him on the head with a hammer in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, authorities said Friday.

Patrick Karajah, 26, of Pacifica pleaded not guilty Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court to charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury. He is free on $125,000 bail.

Karajah allegedly picked up the victim and his two friends from a bar at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. While driving the two men and one woman to their destination, he got into a dispute with the victim over the route he was taking, according to court documents.

Karajah, who was driving for the basic UberX service, stopped near the intersection of Ellsworth Street and Alemany Boulevard and forced the victim and his friends to get out, according to documents.

An Uber spinner claimed that safety was their top priority after the attack and presumably laughed like a demented hyena after making that specious comment. If safety were their “top priority” they would screen and insure their drivers. I both dread and eagerly await the first crime committed by an Uber driver in New Orleans. I hope that it won’t be lethal but our criminals aren’t known for their subtlety; given Uber’s antipathy to details such as background checks there are bound to be some NOLA Uber drivers like the hammer man in San Francisco.

As you can see, the ratfucking that inspired this post is merely the first layer of Uberian (Uberite?) malakatude. It’s too sordid and creepy for me to go on much longer and that is why Uber is malaka of the week.

The tale of the Uber hammer man has given me a Monday morning earworm, so I’ll give Todd Rundgren the last word:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Post-Racial Society edition

Good morning, everyone!  We haven’t opened a drum of toxic Freepitude in the “Post-racial” category for some time, so I’d say they’re overdue.

This seems a good place to start:

Clavell Jackson: Teabaggers Hate the Government, But Love Government Programs
EURWeb ^ | November 10, 2014 | Clavell Jackson

Posted on ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2014‎ ‎12‎:‎02‎:‎28‎ ‎AM by 2ndDivisionVet

*I am still recovering from the midterm election results, but I hope two years of a Republican-run Congress will convince voters to get off their asses and put a Democrat in the White House.

I often find it hard to take Republicans seriously, because so many of their arguments fall apart under close scrutiny. Republicans are an odd bunch, some of their ideas show many of them have no idea how government works. During the rise of the tea party, there was an infamous quote from a woman at a rally, who said, “Take your government hands off my Medicare!” Who does she think provides Medicare? I never got the mentality behind teabaggers and even their love for President Ronald Reagan. Reagan once said the most frightening words in the English language were, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” He had a general disdain for government, which was odd because he sought the highest government position in the land.


I was researching Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary company Blackwater. Prince, who has deep ties to the Republican party, describes himself as a libertarian and thinks the government does things inefficiently. The growth of Blackwater was brought about because the George W. Bush administration decided it wanted the military to focus on fighting wars and many of its services could be outsourced. As a result Blackwater has received more than $1 billion in government contracts.


If your company has received more than $1 billion in taxpayer money, then essentially it’s a government company. You don’t get to turn around and bash the government about being inefficient, when your sucking on the government teat. If you hate the government so much, how about you stop taking its money?

Another example of this hypocrisy is seen in rising GOP star Joni Ernst, who was recently elected to the Senate. Ernst, who has been compared to Sarah Palin (Is that a good thing?), has bragged about her expertise in castrating hogs as an example of how she would cut pork when she got to DC. She also said she keeps her nine millimeter handy to protect against a potentially tyrannical government.

She conveniently fails to mention that she has spent a lifetime working for the government she supposedly loathes. She is career National Guard and has health care and a nice retirement package paid for by the government. The Des Moines Register writes, “Joni Ernst hates the money government spends, but she sure enjoys the revenue her family receives from the government and will continue to receive from it. She was a county auditor, state senator and National Guard officer. She will receive a military pension at age 60. She is eligible to take advantage of Social Security laws due to the fact that her husband is 61 and will be exempt from her proposed privatization scheme.”

I would take Ernst more seriously if she didn’t benefit from the very government programs she rails against. Tea partiers seem to live by the motto, “I hate the government, but give me my government program.”


I’ve had dozens of people here tell me that the GOP-e won the midterms and the Tea Party lost. Okay, then why did the left, as a whole, once they’d shaken off their shock at losing, go after Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party? Why didn’t they attack Yertl, Oompah-Loompah and Juan McInsane?
1 posted on ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2014‎ ‎12‎:‎02‎:‎28‎ ‎AM by 2ndDivisionVet
Interesting question.
Interesting responses?
To: 2ndDivisionVet

Why would anyone read this drivel?

2 posted on 11‎/‎12‎/‎2014‎ ‎12‎:‎04‎:‎47‎ ‎AM by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)

Well, since you read it, you’d have to answer that one yourself.
To: 2ndDivisionVet

Wow, a CEO who uses the filthy term Tea Baggers to describe people he disagrees with Politically.

I wonder if he would refuse to hire a “Tea Bagger” to work for his Company?

Just another Bigot, ho hum.

8 posted on 11‎/‎12‎/‎2014‎ ‎12‎:‎17‎:‎46‎ ‎AM by Kickass Conservative (11/04/14, the day people finally realized that their Dictator is just a Dick..)

Love your sig line.
To: 2ndDivisionVet

Because these people irrationally hate anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They also take out their hatred at the more conservative people because they need something of a cut out to stereotype, scapegoat, etc.

9 posted on ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2014‎ ‎12‎:‎18‎:‎40‎ ‎AM by Morpheus2009

To: GeronL

The transfers he is talking about are democrats,that’s where the fagotts(sic) reside

39 posted on 11‎/‎12‎/‎2014‎ ‎6‎:‎04‎:‎21‎ ‎AM by ballplayer

And finally, one Freeper gets a handle on the whole “Makers vs. Takers / Get Government out of my Medicare” thing!
To: 2ndDivisionVet
Clavicle can call me a teabagger?
F U nigger.
33 posted on 11/12/2014, 3:04:55 AM by Post5203 (For the first time in my life, I despise this country. Relocate D.C. to the border)
More after the white privilege.

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Everybody Stand Down: The Newsroom Thread


Spoilers within. Mostly about the filthy things I would let that woman do to me.

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Sunday Morning Video: 1964

1964 is an American Experience documentary that I somehow missed when it aired earlier this year. It must have been during Carnival. Robert Caro and Rick Perlstein are among the talking heads:

About Bill Cosby’s Feelings, And Yours, And Mine

It’s important we not worry our little heads about Bill Cosby because we might sprain something: 

The show Friday night in Melbourne, Florida, might have seemed destined for disaster for the comedian, enveloped in growing accusations of rape and sexual assault that have derailed his career comeback and crumbled his tour schedule. What he got, though, was an adoring audience that laughed so hard they slapped their knees, shouted love at the stage and rose to their feet as he came and went.

“I think people went in there with him as Bill Cosby from the TV show,” said Travis Weberling, 40, of Melbourne, “not the guy they heard about on the news.”

We’re human beings. We defend ourselves, first last and always. We defend ourselves, physically, and we defend the way we think now.

We defend the way we think about something, the way we’ve always thought about something. We defend the rails on which we run, and we throw everything that threatens the track right off the train.

It’s muscle memory almost: Get it out, get it away.

Here’s the thing, though. IT DOESN’T MATTER.

“Chances are Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. That’s a tragedy. Not for you. Not for Bill Cosby. Not for comedy. Not for America. But for the women he raped.”

The pushback always sounds the same, doesn’t it? What about the feelings of the accused? What about due process? What about the court of public opinion? What about the media? What about the young man’s future? What about the Internet lynch mob? What about the rush to judgment?

What about this?

Grace, the 16-year-old who was allegedly raped in September, returned to school after being absent for two weeks following the assault. Word had traveled fast, as had a short video of the assault, allegedly shot by Brian.

The day she returned, her mother told me, Grace was immediately approached in a school hallway by another student.

“I hear you love being raped in the ass,” he said to Grace, as she remembers it.

Grace was holding a heavy book bag. She swung it at the boy. Her boyfriend, standing nearby, punched him. All three were suspended.

When Grace’s mother contacted the school to complain about her daughter’s treatment and its alleged cause, she says a school administrator told her, “Maybe you should keep her out of school until this calms down.”

Until this calms down. Which it will do, once she’s out of school. Which it will do, once the accusers go away. Which it will do, once everybody forgets, because if we let everybody forget, then we don’t have to work. We don’t have to change. We don’t have to grow or get better or stronger or draw the circle any bigger or let anybody else in. We can stay the way we are, until this calms down.

It is the most pernicious force in the universe, the strongest, the most difficult to overcome: This need to maintain the status quo. To just hold still, to not cause trouble, to not make anybody take one more step than they’re already taking. As if thinking about something a little harder is some kind of trial.

As if becoming a better person, which is what you fucking do when you side with the powerless against the great, is something you should ever be afraid of.

As if your transformation weighs anything, against the life of someone else.


Weekend Question Thread

Worst childhood illness?

I had chicken pox, and that was about it, at least that I remember. I rarely got sick as a little kid, unless you count don’t-wanna-go-to-school-itis.


Pulling Up The Drawbridge

As a second generation American, family and immigration are inextricably linked in my mind. I’ve had family on my mind this week as my much loved Uncle Pete died at the age of 94. He was technically an in-law because he was married to my father’s sister Mary for some 69 years. 69 years, imagine that. The reason I’ve always gone by Peter was because of my Uncle: he was Pete, I was Peter. Case closed. Like my father, Uncle Pete was the son of immigrants and was very proud of his Hellenic heritage. The Greek side of my family instilled in me a love of my roots and a profound sense of empathy for immigrants from all walks of life.

A few notes about my Uncle before I move on to the latest immigration kerfuffle. He was a World War II vet who had a lot of stories to tell about his experiences. I think most of them were true but he was a car dealer so you never know. I remember him at large family parties, weddings and whatnot as the relative who loved Greek dancing. It’s the sort of dancing where everyone joins hands and follows a leader of sorts. Uncle Pete was usually the guy up front leaping about and stealing the show. I remember a time when my Aunt and Uncle were visiting my family in California. I was off to another Grateful Dead show and Uncle Pete pulled me aside and asked, “Do they dance at these things?’ I told him that they did, he smiled and said: “I hope you learned a few moves from me.” He then slipped me a twenty dollar bill and kissed me on the forehead.

Debates about immigration are as old as the republic. Things really got ugly when the Irish started arriving. Many Americans thought they were part of a papist plot to take over the country. That’s one reason the loathsome Know Nothing party was born, to keep the Pope out of the White House. They did a decent job: we have still only had one Catholic President.

Nativist and anti-immigration sentiments may be as old as the republic but immigration laws are not:

Prior to 1875’s Page Act and 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, there were no national immigration laws. None. There were laws related to naturalization and citizenship, to how vessels reported their passengers, to banning the slave trade. Once New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Station opened in 1855, arrivals there reported names and origins before entering the U.S. But for all pre-1875 immigrants, no laws applied to their arrival. They weren’t legal or illegal; they were just immigrants.

Moreover, those two laws and their extensions affected only very specific immigrant communities: suspected prostitutes and criminals (the Page Act); Chinese arrivals (the Exclusion Act); immigrants from a few other Asian nations (the extensions). So if your ancestors came before the 1920s and weren’t prostitutes, criminals, or from one of those Asian nations, they remained unaffected by any laws, and so were still neither legal nor illegal. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but it’s much more; the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” implies that they “chose to follow the law,” yet none of these unaffected immigrants had to make any such choice, nor had any laws to follow.

The 1892 opening of Ellis Island didn’t change these fundamental realities. Ellis arrivals had to wait in line and answer a list of questions, and could be quarantined if they had a communicable disease or were visibly insane. But if they weren’t in those aforementioned few illegal categories, they still weren’t affected by any law, made no choice of how to immigrate. Moreover, many arrivals during this period came not through Ellis but across the borders, which were unpatrolled and open.

Only with the 1920s Quota Acts did Congress establish national immigration laws encompassing most arrivals. But those acts were overtly discriminatory, extending the Exclusion Act’s principles by categorizing arrivals by nationality and drastically limiting certain groups; South Carolina Senator Ellison Smith put it bluntly: “It seems to me the point as to this measure is that the time has arrived when we should shut the door.”

The 1920 law was aimed at all sorts of  “undesirables” from Jews to Italians to Asians to Greeks to name but a few. Isolationism and bigotry were big in the 1920’s. Congress was protecting the country from radicals, lazy Mediterranean sorts, non-Protestants of all faiths, and the yellow peril.

The laws were modified in 1965 make them less discriminatory and more family friendly. I recall hearing some tales of chicanery in my own family involving relatives who came to America right after World War II when Greece was engulfed in a lunatic Civil War between right wing royalists and Communists who were role models for the Pol Pots of the world. I am not making this up: both sides were horrendous and the lesser of two evils won.

It pains me when folks whose families emigrated to our country to escape poverty, war, and oppression forget where they came from. They’re fond of claiming that “my people came here legally,” but Ben Railton pointed out in the TPM piece I quote from earlier, it ain’t neccessarily so.

Here in Louisiana, we’re still being bombarded with political commercials. Many of the pro-Cassidybot ads focus on safeguarding our borders from lazy welfare bums. It’s another page from the 2010 Vitter re-election campaign and it seems to be working. It makes it easier for me to overlook my reservations about the incumbent when her opponent and his owners are running such a despicable campaign. It’s made worse by the fact that the Cassidybot is a lapsed liberal who converted to wingnuttism and xenophobia to win office.

The reaction to President Obama’s sensible executive order is predictable. The wingers are howling at the moon and demanding the “dictator’s” head on an impeachment platter. It doesn’t matter that Presidents Reagan and Bush the Elder issues similar common sense and compassionate executive orders when they were the Ovals Ones. The GOP’s base base never lets the facts get in the way of a good tantrum.

This issue is about justice, fair play and the American Way. It’s ironic that the so called family values party is once again so blinded by bigotry and hatred that they support tearing families apart because they’re the OTHERS. Many of our families were once the others; mine was. I wish more people would remember where they came from and stop pulling up the drawbridge.

A fearful end at Florida State

Fear is always real when you are afraid.

That was the first thing that struck me when I read about Myron May, the man authorities say shot three students at Florida State University’s campus library before being killed himself.

Before I heard the name and read this story in the Miami Herald, I was like most people, I would imagine, who read about the shooting on campus.

Another gun. Another mass shooting. Another chance to avoid discussing gun control.

This post isn’t about gun control. It isn’t about mental illness, either, although it serves as a root cause of the shooting. This isn’t about violent video games or the NRA or what happens to the idyllic life of the victims when their “normal” is taken abruptly and horrifically.

It’s about fear. And what fear causes us to do.

The story on May is that he began to spiral downward from an incredible scholar, a role model and a man on the path to greatness down to a fearful, unemployed shell of himself. The mental illness had robbed him of his livelihood and his confidence, making him fear unknown attackers who he believed had targeted him.

I believe May had a mental illness and I believe it to be something horrible. I know what it is like to feel that something in my head isn’t right, but I can’t figure out what it is. I know what it is like to live in a society that doesn’t offer help without judgment to people like May, but quickly rushes to patch up the bloody wounds that happen once that mental distress manifests itself physically. I know that not every mental illness starts the way his did or ends the way his did.

I also know that although true mental illness and gun violence don’t always intersect, when they do, we all feel the impact.

It would be easy to dismiss this as one of those cases. The NRA will blame the illness, the health-care practitioners will blame the lack of support for the mentally ill and we will all go back to life the way it was before we read about Myron May from our safe perches elsewhere in the country.

However, the underlying problem still seeps into the cracks and crevices of our society, imbuing us with the riskiest of all sensations.


When the gun lobby pitches “the right to bear arms” to the general population, it proselytizes under the guise of individual freedom and the inalienable need to protect one’s self. Belying that argument is a fear that is just as real in each and every convert as it was for Myron May: Someone, somewhere is out to get you.

It might be the evildoer, bent on havoc and destruction.

It might be the criminal, seeking to take what you have earned.

It might be a “crazy,” packing his own gun and unable to tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys.”

And it’s not just about the guns.

This morning, as I rode to work, I picked up the end of the news report on Obama’s amnesty program for undocumented citizens. (or illegal aliens if you prefer)

The president outlined his logical, rational argument that these people are here, working and living. They don’t pay taxes, but they use the tax-based services. Why not make them “legit” and have them participate in both ends of the system?

The “counterpoint” was offered by some cheap Republican hack and it was simple, unvarnished fear. Allowing the immigrants to be part of this system will cost “real Americans” jobs. It will “drive down wages.” It will cut back on the “quality of American life.”

Some people, who probably speak with an accent, are out to get you.

They want YOUR jobs.

They want YOUR money.

They want what YOU EARNED.

Even the most well-intentioned ideas are rooted in fear.

Go to college, because you can’t get a job without a degree.

You better save your pennies for a rainy day.

Make sure you lock your doors.

It’s 3,000 miles. Have you changed your oil lately?

In their magnum opus on the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team, John Powers and Arthur Kaminsky examined the team’s mercurial architect, Herb Brooks. They explained that he grew up on the East Side of St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of an insurance underwriter and the only thing that ever frightened him was failure.

And yet that was all he saw, everywhere he looked.

When he finally won his national championship, a prize to be treasured, his team partied while he sat in a hallway, drained and exhausted.

“They had succeeded,” the men wrote. “He had avoided failure.”
As a fellow sinner in the fear movement, I don’t know how to avoid fear. It’s like avoiding dust: It’s always around us no matter how hard we try to scrub it away. When fear becomes too much to handle, it bursts forth like a raging river past a faltering dam.

In his final minutes, Myron May’s fear led him to the campus everyone said he loved so much. As it exploded into a violent finale, police came for him and they killed him.

In the end, his fear had become real. Then again, it always was for him.

Shorter Obama: *inaugural addresses*

Somebody decided to start his presidency last night: 

We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally.

And let’s be honest, tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans.

After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard often in tough, low paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of the kids are American born or spent spent most of their lives here. And their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.

As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it, they are a part of American life.


And honestly, I don’t mean to seem ungrateful but this is where he should have started. Republicans were never going to work with him. It was never going to be 1982 again and the party was never going to give up being beholden to its rabid racist booty-call base, and that  base was never going to be okay with anything but guys with AKs rounding up Mexican schoolchildren because that’s how those people roll.

To wit, CNN contributor Erick Erickson: 

There are two things really happening. First, many Republicans in Washington actually agree with the president. Most of the Republicans want amnesty. They may disagree with the means by which the president seeks amnesty, but they will not oppose him because they agree with the outcome.

Second, some Republicans are tired of the fight. They truly believe the public still hates them for shutting down the government in 2013. Consequently, they have no will to fight now. They are scared, feel unloved and have no energy for the fight. They cannot do what the public wants because they think the public will not love them for doing so.

Got that? Republicans should shut down the government again, to prevent Obama from doing what he has to do because the Republican response to anything else would be … to shut down the government. I would say these people have lost the plot but they never had it to lose.

All of which was obvious to anybody with two brain cells to rub together but hey, better late than never, Mr. President, and hit ‘em again. Harder, harder.


Friday Catblogging: Make Room For Della

One of the things I like about our recent spate of chilly weather is seeing Oscar and Della snuggle more. Here they are “sharing” a chair.

Make Room For Della

One more thing. I’m having DVR problems so my Freak Show post will be late for a very good reason. I haven’t seen the latest episode yet. Woe is me.

More Tales Of The Unreconstructed South

This post could also be called Borderline Behavior In A Border State:

A Kentucky law enforcement official is under fire this week after footage of his deeply racist comments was made public on Tuesday. In September, Southeast Bullitt Fire Chief Julius Hartfield was recorded on a Bullitt County Sheriff deputy’s body camera during a response to a traffic accident, when Hartfield allegedly refused to help a black family while referring to them in derogatory, racist terms.

 “Well, I’ve got a family of four from Cincinnati, I got to do something with,” the Bullitt County deputy says in the footage, which was obtained by WDRB.

“We ain’t taking no n–gers here,” Hartfield responded, laughing.

The footage also reveals the fire chief helping the other man involved in the traffic incident, Loren Dicken, who is white. According to WDRB, after Hartfield went out of his way to assist Dicken with a tire issue, the chief also had his firefighters pick the man up from the hospital when he was released.

But Hartfield was reportedly less than helpful for the other driver involved in the accident, Chege Mwangi, who is black. Mwangi told WDRB reporter Valerie Chinn that Hartfield suggested he, his wife and two children contact Triple A for assistance, before asking for registration and proof of insurance. When Chinn, who is Asian-American, contacted Hartfield to ask about the alleged disparities in his treatment of the two families as well as possible mismanagement of his department, the fire chief offered a startling (also racist) response.

“Do you understand English darling?” Hatfield said. “Do you understand English?”

Chinn reports that Hartfield later apologized for repeatedly asking her if she speaks English, and claimed that he did not remember using the N-word to describe the Mwangi family.

Chief Hartfield’s heartless act is a possible refutation of an adage propounded by a friend of mine who’s a retired police Captain: “If you want to be a hero, be a fire fighter.”

The one good thing about this appalling episode is that it illustrates once again the utility of the dashboard camera. Hartfield may claim he didn’t remember dropping the N-bomb but the proof is in the video pudding so to speak.

It is, of course, not a shocker that Hartfield is an equal opportunity bigot: he slurred the intrepid Asian-American reporter by implying she didn’t speak English. Temper, temper Chief Hartless.

The next time someone tells you that bigotry is in the rear view mirror, direct them to the curious case of the border state bigot. And that is why Chief  Orange Julius Hartfield *could* have been malaka of the week. There’s always a surfeit of “qualified” candidates.

Malaka Of The Week: Jay Nixon

Malakatude often involves making a bad situation worse by taking foolish decisions that will inflame an already tense situation. That is what Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has done by calling out the National Guard in Ferguson and that is why he is malaka of the week.

As of this writing, it is unclear how the grand jury will dispose of the case against Officer Darren Wilson. Many of us think there’s sufficient evidence for an indictment, but grand juries operate in secrecy so nobody knows for sure what will come down or when an announcement will be made. By publicly assuming the worst, Governor Nixon has given the impression that he knows what’s going to happen. Wrong. He’s making an “educated” guess, which has put people in Ferguson and elsewhere on edge and is encouraging right wing extremist groups to stir the pot:

Ku Klux Klan leaders have handed out fliers in Ferguson that threaten “lethal force” against protesters, businesses have boarded up their storefronts, and local gun retailers say sales have skyrocketed. Law enforcement officials have warned of groups of “outside agitators” who could descend on the city after the announcement and incite violence..”These people are afraid,” said Steve King, the owner of Metro Shooting Supplies in nearby Bridgeton. King says his store typically sells 30 to 40 firearms a week. This week, it has sold 250. “One hundred percent of them are buying because of Ferguson.”

Being prepared for the worst is a good idea but whipping up hysteria is not. We’re all bracing for a bad outcome, but ramping up the process so visibly is the political equivalent of pouring fire on gasoline.

I assume Governor Nixon thought that he’d deter violent protests with an overwhelming show of force. Wrong again. All this has done is rub salt in the wounds of an incredibly raw situation. I hope things don’t go South, but if there’s no indictment all of this build-up and hype is likely to result in violence.

I hope I’m wrong about this but this has the potential of making the earlier unrest in Ferguson look like a weenie roast. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this won’t turn into the son of the 1992 riots in South Central L.A. Governor Nixon’s job is not only to preserve order, it is to keep his cool and urge his citizenry to do likewise. Instead, Nixon has made things even more tense than they already were and that is why Jay Nixon is malaka of the week.

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Welcome To The New Rat Race…Where You’ll Never Win

From Album 5

That’s right, no matter how fast or far you run, the reward is always out of reach…well, for you. But keep moving, because the productivity gains and added shareholder value sure do make money…for the shareholders.

Maybe that’s what they really meant back when it was all about “the ownership society.” If you’re an owner, it’ll be ok. If not…then tough love and tough luck, slacker.

Now back to work…if you’re lucky enough to actually have a job.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Bad For Business

Speaking of things that are bad for business, a body on the floor surely tops a weak pun. Here are two, count ‘em two, different covers for the same Rex Stout book:


Stupid Even For Twitter

I mentioned earlier this morning how frustrated and annoyed I’ve become with the Tweeter Tube’s culture of instant outrage.  This flap takes the biscuit as the silliest one I’ve ever seen:

That’s right, ladies and germs, it’s racist to make a pun on the name Juan. Members of the pun community are running for cover. I myself am feeling pale and wan in the wake of this revelation. I may even have to swear off won-ton soup jokes, which makes me feel all hot and sour…

The company in question decided it was easier to delete the tweet and apologize, which was the wise thing for a business to do. I would hope, however, they’d ignore the loonier suggestions of firing people and banning puns. While I prefer smoke free joints, I draw the line at pub pun bans.

There are so many valid claims of bigotry and racism in the world that specious ones such as this drive me up the fucking wall. It turns out that there’s a “racist” Mexican restaurant in Austin whose name is Juan In A Million. It’s owned by a man named Juan Meza. Guess that makes him a self-loathing Chicano. The slacktivists are planning to do absolutely nada about this. At least I hope not, the mere thought makes me nada off.

It turns out that we own a “racist” coffee mug designed by world class punster Sandra Boynton:


It’s time for the American pun community to circle the wagons and fight against this tiresome Twitter tyranny. We should not take this pun persecution lying down; it’s not punny any more. Actually, I just put the lie in lying down. The pun community is resilient, so we’ll just get over it and move on:


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