Monday, December 15, 2008

Why Did You Vote Republican?

We all have our reasons for the votes we cast. Some vote out of fear. Some vote out of hope. Some vote out of ignorance. While some don't vote at all. Sometimes it's hard to understand why people vote with such idiotic intensity. It's great when someone can come along and make sense of it all.

This nice little video really helped me understand the oft misrepresented men and women of America who decided to cast a vote for a Republican in November.

In the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson who once said, "speak what you think today in words as hard as canonballs, and tomorrow think what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today," I have an apology to make.

Republicans, I was wrong about you. See, I thought you were voting against your own self-interest out of sheer ignorance and blind faith in a paradoxical ideology. It's turns out you just enjoy the suffering. You sly devils, you knew the votes you cast were bad for the country. You fully realized the policies of your beloved party drove the country into the ground. You long ago grasped the reasons religion is separated from government. Yet, you can't help yourself. Once that seductive red-white-and-blue elephant starts to whisper in your ears, you melt. So much more could be ruined if we just had four more years. Just think of the possibilities. Mmmm...corporate despotism.

Anyway, I'm sorry. All is not lost though. Now is a perfect time to reexamine the way you look at the world and this country. Take a look around at some new ideas. Social justice, environmental responsibility, compassion--these are not ideas to fear. Who knows, maybe you'll find you enjoy watching your neighbors and your country prosper. It's a thought. Next time you're feeling down because President Obama is doing something that makes sense and benefits you in some way, instead of cursing and getting angry, recall the wise and timeless words of Mr. RW Emerson, and go with what tomorrow thinks. We won't hold your past affiliations against you.

Why did you vote Republican? Go ahead, let it all out. We're here to listen.

*Check out the fine folks that made the video.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Abstinence Only Education = Kids Making Dumb Choices

Don't know if you got the memo, but anal sex is the new cool thing. Yep, kids are all about the two-hole these days. While there's nothing inherently wrong with this, a study out of Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center in Rhode Island revealed that this increase is the result of a general lack of sexual knowledge among teenagers. Most striking was the fact that many didn't realize you could get an STD from anal sex and only 29% said they used condoms. This is not good.

What the hell did we think was going to happen? In another edition of Yet Another Thing Bush Fucked Up, adolescents are not properly educated about sex. Well, that's what happens when you base public policy on religious dogma rather than scientific studies. For eight years schools have had to forfeit any sex-ed funding if they didn't implement abstinence only programs.

They call it abstinence only education but let's be real, it's not education. It's the opposite of education. We're telling kids not to have sex because it's bad. That's it. You're going to hell, so don't even think about it. Ever. Don't talk about it. Don't read about it. Don't acknowledge its existence. That's the only way to save your soul and prevent a life of degradation and promiscuity.

Needless to say, there are problems with this. First of all, the more taboo you make something, the more enticing it is to a teenager. They're wired to rebel. You just tell them what not to do, and they'll do it. You learn this quickly as a teacher. This may not be true of every student, but it's true of the majority. Even the best of students search for ways to rebel.

Second, human beings are wired to desire sex. The #1 thing on the mind of every teenage boy is that smart girl with braces who sits in the front row in Biology class. They're bombarded by images of sex everyday. Just turn on MTV for a few hours and you'll quickly see what it means to be "cool." One's worth as a person is defined by the amount of girls he can hook up with and the amount of money he spends on them. Every day, teenage boys are pushed to prove their masculinity and live in fear of homophobic taunts and public emasculation.

With all of this going on, kids desperately need someone to educate them about the complexities of sex. They need help understanding the emotional, psychological, and physical risks that go along with it. While parents should play a role in this education, we cannot simply assume it's going on at home. This is a public health issue. The government should play a role in eliminating unwanted teenage pregnancies and preventing abortions. Isn't that what the Christian right wants? Doesn't everybody win with a comprehensive sex education program? If anything, we should create an new sex-ed position in all high schools staffed by a specially trained counselor.

Never fear though, in just over a month, at long last, we will have a president that will use reason and scientific evidence to make decisions. It won't take much to bring about dramatic change on this issue. With just a little common sense, schools will be able to fund much needed sex education programs; comprehensive education will be a strong part of AIDS assistance programs in Africa without attaching abstinence only strings; and we will no longer be wasting $204 million spent in the US on a method proven to be ineffective.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Watch Out!

I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank the outgoing shithead Republican Senators for screwing us over one last time. Glad to see you handling the defeat with class guys. Good luck on K Street!

At least now we know what to expect from the GOP assholes still lucky enough to be clutching to their Senate seats: eight years of whatever it takes to fuck the country over. We know most of them will blindly cling to their ideology no matter what direction common sense may point. We know power is more important to them than the well-being of the country. And they know that a successful Obama administration might signal the death of their kind. They have no message, no leadership, no new ideas...all they have left is desperation. It ain't gonna to be pretty, my friends.

In a preview of future douchebag behavior, Senate Republicans blocked the auto industry bailout last night. Why? Apparently, middle class blue-collar workers are making too much money. Let Ms. Maddow break it down for you.

Yes. You heard her right. They are so ideologically opposed to everyday American workers who organize and fight for their rights, they would rather see the industry collapse than pass up an opportunity to cripple the evil unions. Never mind that the income gap is wider than ever. Never mind the massive layoffs occurring all across the country. Never mind the fat pockets of CEOs all across the country. Never mind the fact that the collapse of the auto industry IS NOT Joe the assembly line worker's fault. Never mind the fact that these very Senate Republicans are more responsible for the collapse of the economy than ANYBODY ELSE. None of that matters. It's the union's fault because Rush said so. After all, these Grand Old Pieces of shit love nothing more than blaming people who work two jobs to support their family.

I'm not going to lie, I was skeptical of the auto bailout for a while. There is nothing that makes me angrier than the arrogance American car companies displayed in the late 90s and early 00s. The endless bombardment of testosterone-pumped commercials for giant SUVs and trucks made me nauseous. When I see a Hummer, I want to throw something through it's window. The demise of the EV1 is one of the greatest tragedies in the history of industry. The guys who have been running the show for the past 10 years are idiots, and they need to go.

But the more I hear from people on the ground in Detroit, the more I understand why action is so important. People need jobs right now. The economy cannot grow if the current job loss trend continues. Manufacturing has almost completely dried up in the US. Now is not the time to watch more jobs head overseas. Republicans have been gambling taxpayer dollars on Wall Street for the past eight years, why not gamble on the middle class for once.

Ultimately, this is a gamble. It might not work. We have to accept this fact, grab our collective nut sack, and have faith in the people. At least this time we are betting on something we believe in. As we have found out many times in the past, when we invest in hardworking Americans, they come through. It's the only way we'll get out of this recession alive.

*I stumbled upon the Maddow clip at Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog!, so you should check it out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Scapegoats and Scoundrels

In September 2007, a group Blackwater USA mercenaries contractors opened fire on a busy Baghdad street killing 17 innocent Iraqis and wounding numerous others.

"None of the victims of this shooting was armed. None of them was an insurgent," U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said...

...the slain included young children, women, people fleeing in cars and a man whose arms were raised in surrender as he was shot in the chest.

Twenty others were wounded in crowded Nisoor Square, including one injured by a grenade launched into a nearby girls' school. Another 18 Iraqis were assaulted but not wounded.

After over a year of outrage and protest from the Iraqi victims of this slaughter, five Blackwater mercenaries security guards were indicted earlier this week. A sixth plead guilty and in exchange will testify against his former colleagues.


The 35-count indictment charges each of the former guards with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts of attempted manslaughter and one count of using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.

If convicted, the defendants would face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each manslaughter count, seven years in prison for each count of attempted manslaughter and a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence for the firearms charge.

While this may distract and pacify the masses, if we are serious about real justice in Iraq, this cannot be the end of the investigation. What these men did was horrible, but they did not act alone. Huffington Post's Lee Stranahan made an excellent point a few days ago at
We're again haunted by the ghosts of Abu Ghraib - kids gets hauled into court and blamed for being part of a situation that wasn't really entirely of their making. Old men and war profiteers say tsk-tsk and cash their paychecks. It's only partial justice, which is almost worse than no justice.
Fucking right. I'm tired of this shit.

While the men who fired upon and threw grenades into that crowd of innocent people should be investigated, just like the men and women who committed the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were investigated, there is more to the story than the actions of those at the bottom of the command structure. People are capable of horrible things when brainwashed to believe that the "enemy" is less than human. Dehumanization is a huge part of creating any killing/war machine. If you are taught that your "enemy" is shit, you don't hesitate to follow orders that require you to kill or torture. The United States has openly embraced this type of training for years, and there is no reason to believe that US military-trained Blackwater guards were trained any differently.

Veterans from Iraq and Vietnam can help to add some perspective to the wider picture. After watching listening to Iraq veterans testify about some of the things they witnessed in combat, this Vietnam veteran recalls the methods of dehumanization and their effects on the soldiers he served with and the civilians they encountered:
A critical part of this training involves dehumanization. The idea here is to make trainees think of the enemy, not as opposing soldiers but as less than human. Animals if you will. There is far less of a possibility that an American soldier will balk at the order to kill when he believes that what he is killing is not a person at all, but a lower form of life deserving only disgust and hate. The problem with this training is that it does not stipulate a difference between enemy soldiers and local civilians. All are lumped into one category, given derogatory names and on the battlefield are ultimately treated the same.
It gets worse:
Those of us who were trained to go to Vietnam learned that the Vietnamese, whether they were civilians or combatants, were Dinks, Gooks, Slopes or Slopeheads and Slants. They were just little bastards that lived like animals in the jungle and it was ok to treat them accordingly. There was no place for respect for any member of the population and thus, the civilians became victims, not only of the VC, but of the American forces as well. The result was the same as in Iraq today. Greater numbers of civilians were killed than the actual enemy. And no matter what the military public relations folks say, this is condoned and encouraged behavior.
He goes on to give some examples of the blatant disregard for life that he observed in Vietnam. You should read it.

I'm sure you're familiar with stories like his from Vietnam, but this is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan right now? In November, several Iraq and Afghanistan veterans traveled to Washington to testify before Congress about the injustices they witnessed while deployed. Democracy Now! aired several of the testimonies on their November 28th program. One of the most revealing testimonies came from Vincent Emanuele who served in the Marine Corps from September '02 to January '06. He was deployed to Iraq in August 2004.

Another mission our platoon was tasked to take on was that of transporting prisoners from our detention facility on base back to the desert. The reason I say the desert and not their town is because that is exactly where we would drop them off, in the middle of nowhere. Now, most of these men had obviously been deemed innocent, or else they would have been moved to a more permanent detention facility and not released back into the local population. Our unit engaged in punching, kicking, butt stroking or generally harassing and abusing these very prisoners until the point at which our unit would be take them in the middle of the desert, miles from their respective homes, and at times throw them out of the back of our Humvees, all the while continually punching, kicking and at times even throwing softball-sized rocks at their backs as they ran away. This, once again, was not an isolated incident.

Possibly the most disturbing of what took place in Iraq was the mishandling of the dead. On several occasions, our convoy came across bodies that had been decapitated and were lying on the road, sometimes for weeks. When encountering these bodies, standard procedure was to run over the corpses, sometimes even stopping and taking pictures, which was also a standard practice when encountering the dead in Iraq—this, along with neglecting to account for many of those who were killed or wounded. On one specific occasion, after I had personally shot a man attempting to flee while planting a roadside bomb, we drug his body out of the ditch he was laying in, and we subsequently left that body—slide please—we subsequently left that body to rot in the field, where we saw this man up to a week later.

These are just a few of the disturbing and unacceptable stories I could share with you from my time in Iraq. Others would include continually dehumanizing Iraqis by referring to them as “hajis” or “sand niggers.” Even the racist and sexist nature that exists within the military itself, which was obviously—overtly obvious on a daily basis.
Go to the DN! link above and listen to the entire show if you want to get a full picture of some of the widespread abuse going on over there. For testimony from more Iraq veterans at March's Winter Soldier gathering in Maryland, click here and here.

Whether it be Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, or the streets of Iraq, when trained killing machines go too far, it's a direct result of the policies set by commanding officers. The trainers, along with the executives/cabinet members/vice presidents that approve the training and create the conditions that result in the crimes, should be investigated and prosecuted. These prosecutions should follow the trail all the way up the power structure, and punish those proven guilty. The true criminals of this irresponsible war of on terror must be exposed and brought to justice if we are ever to restore our credibility at home and throughout the rest of the world.

UPDATE: Ironically, just minutes ago, AP ran a story on a newly released bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report that DIRECTLY links the BUSH ADMINISTRATION widespread use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. More to come soon.

Photo: Reuters

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is Blagojevich a Sociopath? Scandal in Six Minutes

Editor's Note: I've been working on a couple of posts that have gone Skynet on me. Pride is the only thing standing between me and the self-destruct button, but never fear, I will do what has to be done to save the planet from a hostile cyborg takeover. I hope to get back to long angry rants soon. I promise.

So the governor of our friendly neighbors to the northeast is a scumbag. So what? We're pretty used to it by now. It sucks that he's a Democrat, but, as we learned from the brief political career of Jerry Springer, corruption don't discriminate. I always knew he was kind of a dick from the snippets of news that would trickle down to Missoura occasionally, but good lord, what a fucking idiot. I'm sure there are many reasons for his reckless arrogance, blatant disregard for the rule of law, and obvious emotional immaturity, but I'm going with a full blown mental illness.

Not only does this guy possess the moral and ethical compass of a whipworm, but he's in complete and total denial. Let's take a look at how Governor Rod Blagojevich stacks up against some of the warning signs of Sociopathy.

+Superficial charm - Have you seen that haircut? Check.

- He tried to use political leverage to get a sweet job for his wife? Check.

+Grandiose sense of self - He is refusing to step down even after the President-Elect and ALL 50 Senators call for his resignation? Check.

+Pathological lying
- The day before his arrest after a wire tap revealed he tried to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder, he told the country, "if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. ... [W]hatever I say is always lawful."


+Lack of remorse, shame, or guilt
- His lawyer the day of his arrest: "He didn't do anything wrong." Uhhhh, did you hear what they recorded with that wiretap? Check.

+Seeing others as targets and opportunities, not people - When speaking about President-Elect Obama, he said, "They're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them." Check.

+Irresponsibility - Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery? Check.

+Criminal Versatility - They didn't even need the Senate seat talk to bust him. Check.

I could go on, but my soul hurts. Can we stop talking about this now? No? Fine.

As entertaining as it is, you're probably too busy to sift through the 76-page document detailing the charges against Blagojevich. Never fear! Rachel Maddow was kind enough to sum it up for us in six hilarious minutes. Her recap is complete with voice actors playing Rod and his wife Patricia. Very nice Rachel. Very nice.

Oh, and one final note of beautiful poetic justice that not enough people are talking about...he had to go before the judge in sweat pants. Can someone please find a picture of this? Please?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Morning Peace of Mind: Best Montage in the History of Montages

You're the best! Around! Nothin's gonna ever keep you down!
-Joe Esposito

I'm here to brighten your day. Nothing else. I bring joy to those around me. I just can't help it. Don't you wish you were hanging out with me right now? Here is a little something to start you off right this morning. You can thank me later.

Blow-by-Blow Montage Recap

:01 – The montage starts with a close-up of the sweet Cobra Kai logo. Perfect.

:04 – Sweep kick. I think that’s an automatic win according to karate rules. Daniel-San looks very nervous. Miyagi looks pissed.

:16 – Whoa. Cobra Kai meathead ‘roids out. Steroids probably weren’t too prevalent in U-17 karate back in the eighties, but if they were, I guarantee Sensei Kreese would make them mandatory for his team. Fucking psycho. John Kreese was a Republican. I’m certain of it.

:29 – Intimidating stare from DS’s nemesis Johnny. He does some crazy double kick combo—another automatic karate winner. Damn, that dude used to scare the crap out of me. Now, that skinny headband just makes him look like a douche.

:40 – DS’s first fight of the tourney against the token black dude of the movie. Cheap win for the good guys. Elizabeth Shue likes it a lot. Mr. Miyagi seems unimpressed.

:53 – Sweep kick to the chest. Take that motherfucker.

1:00 – Things speed up a bit for the 2nd round. Wins for DS and Johnny.

1:10 – Fat dude gets knocked the fuck out.

1:20 – Anyone notice that every ref in the tournament has a mustache? Was that a conscious casting decision?

1:35 – Kreese gives a sweet fist pump after another CK victory.

1:39 – DS’s first face off with a CK foot soldier. I always hated this weasely fucker. Just when you think all is lost, the kid sneaks in a sly little jab. This move impresses the judges enough that he awards him instant victory. Weasel-fuck doesn’t agree.

2:02 – Close-up of another sweet ref ‘stache.

2:10 – First look at the world’s most awesome tournament brackets as LaRusso is hoisted into the semifinals. The tournament brackets of my youth were made with poster board and a sharpie. Bullshit.

2:13 –Intense pep talk from Miyagi. It doesn’t help. Why does Ralph Macchio always look like he’s about to keel over, curl up into the fetal position, and weep openly?

2:24 – The Cobra Kai cokehead steps in against DS with a creepy smile. Kick to the face temporarily stuns the kid. Cold stare from Miyagi. Counter kick by DS for the win! Larusso to the finals!

End montage. Joe Esposita. Thank you for your inspiring song.

Don’t worry…I won’t leave you hanging. After Mr. Miyagi does some crazy magic on Daniel-San's leg, he's out and ready to fight. Here is the epic and unforgettable championship match between Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso. "Sweep the leg!"

Oh, sweet nostalgia.

If you're impatient, the crane kick is at 4:05. They just don't make triumphant music like that anymore.

"Hey, Mr. Miyagi! We did it!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

RFT Blogger o' the Week: KBO

I guess the Riverfront Times decided to class up the joint a bit. My beautiful and talented wife earned the honor of seeing her words printed in the finest alternative newsweekly in St. Louis. This pretty much means she's famous. Next stop, riches! I'll be quitting my job as a teacher and focusing on my housecleaning in two weeks time. Bet.

I thought the excerpt they used was hilarious, but I guess I'm biased. She wishes they would have found a better one. To help them out next time, here are my favorite five South City Confidential posts (in no particular order).

1. You Do Not Suck At All You can't go wrong when you mix karaoke, Hot Damn, and a middle-aged Pakistani named Ali Baba. This may be my favorite SCC post of all time. If you haven't read it, you're in for a treat. Here's a preview:
By the grace of God, my first visit was someone’s bachelorette party. Not only did I hear the incendiary “Gangster’s Paradise” performance, but saw what elevates Ali Baba from “funny guy with accent” to “totally audacious character who regularly exhibits borderline illegal behavior”. In case you were wondering, Ali Baba has no problem with public displays of affection. With relative strangers. On this particularly cherry-poppin’ visit, I witnessed Ali Baba effectively dry-hump the bride-to-be on the dance floor. I also, luckily, saw the bride’s skirt hiked up around her waist and her lack of both underwear and public hair. To this day, I believe it was the closest I’ve ever been to another woman’s vagina.
2. What a Long Strange Trip... to Lawrence, Kansas. Wakarusa '08. It was quite a time, and it inspired this description of a fellow concert goer we encountered:
My favorite person I saw the whole weekend was a middle-aged dude in acid-washed jeans, a tye-dyed Chiefs t-shirt, and a fat mustache that made me ask, “Developmentally delayed, or just on meth?” No joke, this guy danced like a four-year-old girl in a field of puppies and unicorns. It was so great.
3. I Had A Dream Ed Best showing off his large tomatoes to Obama? Priceless. Plus, it includes a rant about John McCain after the RNC. Very nice.
DID YOU KNOW HE WAS A POW? OMG pee myself while waving an American flag with an eagle perched on my shoulder, talons ready to tear through an “Islamofascist” as I draw a cross in the dirt outside my house that I built MAH-SELF with my own god-willing sweat and tears.
4. Leaves of Three: Suck on These If there is a god, why did he put poison ivy on this earth? Tell me. Why? Perfect description the moment I dread most:
I should have known when I was itchy all over that it was not chigger bites, or eczema, or fleas. I actually considered fleas when the obvious was staring me in the face. It came to me last night when I scratched my back and felt the sweet, sweet relief of getting right to the core of an itch: wait a minute…that feels like when you scratch…oh MOTHERFUCKER! Because at that point, I had been scratching my body for two days. Unrestrained, glorious, relief-inducing scratching.
5. Validation. She's gonna hate me for this one, I had to include a serious one. And this one makes me feel good about being a teacher. It's sure to warm the heart. One passage can't really do it justice, so you'll have to read it for yourself.

Hope you enjoyed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doggone It, People Like Me

Al Franken may just pull this thing off! Can you believe it? Only in Minnesota.'s Nate Silver, who correctly predicted EVERYTHING, broke it down today:
The second piece of cheery news for Franken is that officials in Ramsey County have "discovered" a stack of 171 ballots that were never counted in the first place; those ballots returned a net of 37 votes for Franken. This is a very big deal; a net gain of 37 votes makes a huge amount of difference in a race that could easily be decided by a small, double-digit margin. If the 37-vote gain in added to the 50-vote margin that the Franken campaign estimated that it trailed by at the start of the day, that would put them just 13 votes behind with 8-9 percent of the state's votes still left to be counted.
Senator. Al. Franken. How's that sound when you say it out loud? Now picture Rush Limbaugh saying it. Oh, sweet justice. This could be the ultimate vindication for eight years of political frustration and anger. So, suck it Rush! I can't wait to listen to you bitch about this one.

Franken wrote two awesomely-titled books: Rush Limbaugh's a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations and Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Since the Right MUST pay attention to him now, I think I'll pick both of these puppies up at Left Bank Books this weekend.

Here's Franken doing what he does best--calling out liars:

Questions of the day: How long will this thing be held up in court if Franken pulls ahead after the recount? Coleman is a spiteful bastard. He'll file fifteen more lawsuits before he concedes. I hope those 187 ballots that magically appeared are legit. Could Republicans throw sand in the gears and hold this thing up for months?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Job Creation

It's probably a bad idea since you are technically my competition, but I feel obligated to inform you of an excellent employment opportunity. If you have ever thought about pursuing a job with the government, it looks like you might finally get the chance. The Obama-Biden administration is accepting applications for "non-career positions - whether in the White House or in any Federal Department, Agency or Commission." I think I'm going to shoot for the Bureau of Arms Control. That sounds pretty badass. Pick your agency here and apply now!

Does anyone know if this is standard White House transition procedure?