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  • 11/18/14--14:56: Thanks, America
  • Here's a little letter for your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving:

    I live in Canada.  

    If Keystone goes through, Americans are agreeing to a pipeline that -- so far -- has been rejected in Canada because tar sands oil is so toxic and so dangerous.

    So along comes America saying "we'll carry your really dirty oil to ocean ports so you can sell it to the world... we'll risk AMERICAN aquifers and AMERICAN farmland to enable Canadians to sell their oil to Asia and Europe."

    In Canada every barrel of oil is taxed at the wellhead -- royalties go to government.  If America approves Keystone, we owe you a great big Canadian "Thank you" -- because selling our filthy oil to Japan and Poland helps fund our government-administrated no-deductible, no-co-pay, choose-your-own-doctor universal health insurance plan -- probably a better plan than most of the Louisianians who are voting for the Republican running against Mary L.

    Not only that --the cleanup from the inevitable oil spill in the American heartland won't be paid for by the Canadian governments -- the ones actually making money from the oil in this pipeline -- it will be paid for by American taxpayers.


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  • 01/09/15--17:47: Memo to dead terrorists:
  • It's not working.

    All over the world in dozens of cities millions of people are assembling in public and proclaiming NOT AFRAID and Je Suis Charlie.  If the goal of this terror was to rally extremist Muslims to rise up, it's not working -- unless they are rising up in basements and caves and in the tiny little slivers of this planet controlled by ISIS, the Taliban and al Qaeda.

    The only Muslim voices I have heard since these events have been leaders from Muslim communities all over the world condemning this savagery as a blasphemous invocation of the name if Islam, and the only Muslim I have heard honoured around the world in the aftermath is the French policeman you killed, who now has the hashtag #JeSuisAhmed.

    It's not working.

    You have embarrassed your religion, shown the world two loser punks instead of two holy warriors, and mobilized freedom-loving people everywhere to rise up and yell "Fuck you!"

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    ... overheard in the afterlife shortly after the deadly shootout in France.

    Apparently the response was silence.  Dead silence.

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    Remember how the Republicans unilaterally changed the name of the Democratic Party to Democrat Party?  They just started doing it -- every right-wing politician across the country, every babbler on their nation-wide cable network, and every blogger in the right-o-sphere -- all in perfect unison.

    Now it is time for the critics of the Republican Party to re-name them -- because with NINE-HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS of Koch money, the Republican Party no longer exists: it has been replaced by the Republican-Koch Coalition.  

    Time to stop allowing them to use the same name as the party of Lincoln. Every reference to that gang should be the Republican-Koch Coalition: Hashtag #RepublicanKochCoalition.  

    Many people won't understand it -- that's good... it's a conversation starter, and those conversations will be part of this re-branding.  This is way more than a new name for them -- it's a new meme.

    Do you agree?  If so, how to propagate this idea?

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    So... on one hand we have African terrorists calling for armed attacks on malls in the USA -- attacks like the terror at a big American-style mall in Kenya last year where a handful of open-carry enthusiasts used assault rifles to murder 63 people (including mothers and children) and wound 175.  

    On the other hand we have the NRA and its Republican friends (and what Republican isn't a friend to the NRA?) agitating for the right of Americans to walk anywhere in the United States carrying their "constitutionally-protected" M-15's with them wherever they go.

    Will a public terrified at the prospect of terrorists shooting up the local Mall feel comfortable when the public space around that mall is filled with dozens strangers carrying weapons of individual destruction?

    The "terrists" have recruited followers who look more like David Duke than Osama bin Laden -- so what to do when people looking like like David Duke turn up at shopping malls with big gins and with patriotic lapel pins.  How does a patriotic mall visitor tell the pasty-faced open-carry jihadist from the pasty-faced open-carry NRA member who is just out exercising his 2nd Amendment rights.

    How's a person to know which open-carrier gets a brotherly head-nod and which one gets a bullet to the head? And what happens the first time some idiot tragically guesses wrong?

    The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is have a bunch of good guys carrying guns walk around without badges or uniforms or law-enforcement training or any rules-of-engagement besides "stand-your-ground" laws. What could possibly go wrong?

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    Wall Street and other establishment Republicans know full well that a debt-limit crisis is bad for business, bad for the nation, bad for the GOP reputation and -- unless you represent a totally-gerrymandered congress district -- bad for re-election.

    So what are they going to do when the nutbar caucus and primary threats prevent the credit limit from being raised (or -- at the very least -- create economic uncertainty over the prospect it won't be raised.

    Will they limit themselves to backroom arm-twisting (establishment WASPs always prefer the mess be kept out of sight, lest things become undignified.)

    Or will they publicly dismember a couple of the less-controllable Frankenstein monsters they created by unleashing teabagism on the land.

    My preference is the latter -- nothing more satisfying that seeing the air let out of a blowhard during a slow-motion political execution in public.

    What is your preference (see poll) -- and what is your prediction (see comments)?

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    So now the good ol' boys at Sigma Klux Klan are blaming the booze!

    I haven't been shitfaced for many. many years -- but when I was their age getting a buzz-on was part of our social life -- and here's the thing: I cannot remember one single time where getting drunk led to me singing, talking or shouting about "ni*ers" -- not once.

    I'm willing to bet I'm not alone: I'm willing to bet there are tens of millions of Americans (and others around the world) who can drink themselves into a stupor without once uttering that vile word -- or any other racist talk.

    In blaming the booze, these guys are actually revealing more about themselves than they realize: what they are telling us is that there is a robust "inner racist" at the core of their being, and all it takes is a couple of beers to reduce their impulse control, and suddenly: not only are they singing for the crowd, they are singing about ni**ers!

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    One of Canada's most famous right-wing-crackpot activists has given up on his country of birth and is leaving for the Philippines.

    Bill Whatcott  apparently does not feel at home in a country where universal medicare pays for doctor-referred abortions, gay marriage is legal across the country (and has been for a decade), Fox News Canada went out of business and there is no network of corporate-funded tea parties and right-wing radio enabling crackpots like him to jump fro amateur to well-paid pro.

    Whatcott -- in his late 40's -- has made a career out of hate speech and hate literature aimed at homosexuals, women who get abortions and health-care professionals who provide abortions.

    The poor man must be crazy envious when he looks south of the Canada-US border and sees people just as nutty as him being elected to Congress and Senate, raising millions of dollars to run for President and getting their own shows on Fox news, while he is repeatedly marginalized in his native land.

    Given his lack of support in Canada, I am sure I speak for most Canadians when I say "Don't let the door hit your fat ass on the way out."

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    For the millennials in today's reading audience -- this won't make sense unless you are up on your late cold-war history... and the longer post-WWII history of divided Berlin. Mr. Google has lots of helpful advice if you need it.

    Imagine a future where Senator Marco Rubio is elected President Marco Rubio in 2016. After being sworn in, he keeps his promise to reverse Obama's thaw with Cuba.

    Rubio (in this imaginary presidency) re-imposes the American trade embargo, and once again stops the free flow of people between the two countries.

    In the meantime, the technicians at Disney Laboratories finally perfect techniques for bringing back actual U.S. Presidents.  Not just robot-presidents... Real Presidents.

    With Disney's help President Reagan returns, visits South Florida, and learns that -- 26 years after the end of the cold war -- the U.S. just re-closed its borders with Cuba because "Castro is way too Commie." 

    The rest of the world has open borders with Cuba, while America erects a big embargo wall.

    Reagan checks with Nancy -- asking WWID ("What would I do?) The first lady whispers her answer in his ear, and -- as a result -- a week later they are on a speaker's platform on the bow of a big yacht entering the harbour at Miami -- Rubio's political base.

    The yacht cuts engines and drops anchor.  Everything goes quiet as Saint Ronnie steps up the the podium, takes the mic, and turns to face Rubio's city.

    In a firm, carefully measured voice President Reagan gestures out to sea and says ""Mr. Rubio... Tear.  Down.  This.  Wall."

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    I just discovered tonight -- alerted by someone else's online posting -- that Amazon has a robust variety of products featuring that vile, racist, seditious, hateful Confederate flag.

    I logged into my Amazon account, made it clear that I now regarded the company as merchants of hate, and politely promised them I would not buy anything from their site until they shut this down entirely.  I also toled them I was turning to social media to urge others to speak out as well.

    Let's send them a wave -- 100,000 similar messages in the next 24 hours.  I mean if fawning panderers like Gov Haley and Mitt Romney can come out and say "It's time to put away this flag," then so can Jeff Bezos.

    Most of the world has moved past the phoney "Southern pride" thing.  I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing that my ancestors who fought in the Army of Northern Virginia had been instead volunteered to help the underground railway and served as Yankee spies.

    If the citizens of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan can look at the dark moments in their own history and say "We were wrong," then why can't southern Americans find enough of "the right stuff" to do the same with the stain that American slavery (and the war to defend it) has cast on history and character of the United States.

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    They say that Amazon has stopped selling it -- but not of you go to the Canadian site:

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    The number of items has stayed the same since this morning:

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    A week ago Amazon listed 11,000 "Confederate flag" items online at its Canadian store. This dropped to 6,500 by mid-week -- but then the cleanup stalled for a day or so, eventually dropping to 2,500 items a couple of days ago.  

    As of Saturday they seem to have stopped the purge (although they did put a Canadian flag at the top of the search result).

    Previous "stalls" on this cleanup seemed to get addressed when there was public criticism from people like Kossaks and complaints on web sites like Daily Kos.

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    While checking to see whether Amazon was still stalled in the midst of its partially-completed purge of Dixie-flag merchandise, I discovered a short e-book I
    now want to share with the Kos community:

    The title: A Confederate Flag Turned Me Gay by LeRoy Ned Malone.

    Here's the blurb:

    A young man's dreams come true when he discovers his love (and lust) for the Rebel Flag. After launching a hugely successful business, he soon learns that he isn't quite who he thought he was. Thanks to the flag and a mysterious man named Leo Dick, the narrator starts to learn his true identity no matter how hard he tries to fight it.
    I can't think of anything more toxic to proud southern manhood than a flag that causes those urges.

    I haven't read the book -- but just the fact that it exists and is listed on Amazon is laughs enough.

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    I saw the headline -- an Associated Press story over at Huffington Post:

    Christian Taylor, Unarmed 19-Year-Old, Shot And Killed By Police
    I didn't even have to click through to the story & photo to know the race of this shooting victim.

    There is no other democracy on the entire planet where the police get away with this -- where it happens again and again and again with very few charges laid.

    In countries where the politicians are not all bought and paid for by the billionaires it would be a national crisis and a national scandal -- heads would roll and politicians would be tossed out of office.

    Too many American police departments have become sanctuaries and incubators for 21st-century Klansmen.  They provide a warm and comfy workplace for racists.  They provide a culture where it's normal and "natural" and "realistic" to think of black people as n***s who first and foremost need to be kept in line and need to be reminded who's boss.

    If you are chief of a police department where officers shoot unarmed civilians -- especially minority civilians -- your leadership is so faulty you should be relieved of your duties and the department should be put into receivership.


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    Lowe's Delivery Man Called Back to Store When Customer Asks For White Worker

    Customer says "I got a right to have whatever I want and that's it. I don't feel bad about nothing."

    Okay boys! Break out the flag and start singin'
         Oooooohhhhhh.. I WISH I was in the LAND of DIXIE

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    I have seen a couple of oblique comments in the media about how the last GOP shutdown was a "bad political move" or it "backfired" -- but the consequences for the GOP weren't just "bad," they were actually catastrophic for the Republicans.  Has the commentariat forgotten the depth and severity of the damage the GOP inflicted on itself?

    After the 2013 shutdown ended we saw public support for the GOP go into freefall ( ) .

    Giddy Democrats were predicting that the unpopularity of the shutdown would translate into gains in congress in 2014.  These predictions may have come true a year later -- but the Democratic euphoria (and the Democratic lead in the polls) was short lived in the face of the Administration's own self-inflicted wound: the botched launch of Obamacare. ( )

    If the federal Obamacare exchange web site had launched as smoothly as the state exchanges in places like Kentucky or Rhode Island, the GOP post-shutdown fall from grace might have held.  

    As it was the negatives from Obamacare site crashes were much more powerful that the negatives from the GOP shutdown, and the Democrats were never to regain the lead in public support they held briefly after the 2013 shutdown.

    If the Republicans are stupid enough to do a repeat of their shutdown in 2015, can they count on another major unforced error by the Democrats to miraculously rescue them from their own GOP folly?  

    I don't think they can -- I don't see anything on the horizon with that potential downside for the Dems, and I see a White House that is playing a much smarter political game than it was two years ago.


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    I have two theories — pure speculation — about how this slaughter came about.

    First theory: The wife was a “sleeper bride.” 

    ISIS has a documented track record of reaching out to lonely Muslim women in the west and coaxing them to migrate to Syria. It’s not a big leap for ISIS to ask “How can we exploit the loneliness of Muslim men — other than convincing them to become warriors?”  A clever strategist would quickly identify the “looking for Muslim wife” websites as fertile ground for connecting to such people.

    It is totally consistent with ISIS’ other outreach activities to assign a young, attractive female jihadi to seek out such men online and begin a cyber-seduction.  The mission is to a) convince the man to get the woman  in the country by proposing marriage and b) once married, the woman uses affection and sex to manipulate her husband and “turn” him from a moderate American Muslim into a cold-hearted fanatic.

    Second theory:  They were preparing for a big, high profile event — and the office Christmas party was not on the target list (why would it be?). 

    My theory — pure speculation — when they went to the party something happened that put the Christmas lunch on the target list. Perhaps some Christian fundamentalist yahoo said something ignorant (like “Why would people like you want to come to a Christmas party?”)   I have people in my family who think that all Muslims are literally“agents of Satan,” and would probably say something dumb like that.

    The insult was like poking a stick in a wasps nest.  The angry couple turned to each other and said “Let’s speed up the schedule on our big operation and do it this afternoon — and while we’re at it we’ll come back fully armed and totally fuck up this infidel Christmas celebration and whack some of these ‘totally ignorant’ people.” 

    That theory would explain why their armory was totally out of proportion to an attack on a dinky, obscure Christmas party and why, four hours later (after returning to their house to destroy hard drives) they were still in the rented SUV, still in body armour and still stocked up on ammunition.

    I usually ridicule most conspiracy theories, but this attack and the events leading up to it just don’t make any sense on the surface… and, until we have more facts, a little speculation helps fill in the gaps.

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    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Tashfeen Malik grew up in Saudi Arabia, where making disrespectful comments about Islam is a capital offense — and where the death penalty for offending Islam is actually administered by the state

    In other words, the notion that people should be killed for insulting Islam was, in her mind, not an “outlaw” concept, but rather a practice that is normal, legitimate, and just — it is a moral and legal imperative.

    Someone who grew up under that system in a fanatically-conservative religious family would look at America’s First Amendment freedom to blaspheme Islam as evidence that she was living in a “lawless,” barbaric land ruled by infidels with no respect for God’s law.

    She may have reacted much the same way many of us would if we moved to a country where the law allowed husbands to viciously beat their wives or the government allowed the wealthy to buy and sell slaves.  We would look around and say “These people are barbarians,” and if it really got in our face, we might EVEN be tempted to take the law into our own hands and administer punishment to Americanstandards.

    Speculating, I can just imagine the Malik having an “Are you going to let him get away with that?” conversation with her husband — goading him to defend God from the insults of this infidel (or, even worse in her eyes, this “Jew infidel.”)   All of this logic would be a perfectly legitimate response in Saudi Arabia.

    Lady MacBeth to MacBeth:

    "Hie thee hither,

    That i may pour my spirits in thine ear

    And chastise thee with the valour of my tongue..."

    William Shakespeare

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    An article in a The Tyee, an alternative newspaper published in Vancouver British Columbia, provides an fascinating analysis of the theological and cultural roots of ISIS.  

    The well researched piece was written by Crawford Kilian, a retired Canadian university professor who immigrated to Canada from the United States during the Vietnam war after graduating from Columbia University and serving a couple of years in the U.S. Army.

    Kilian looks past ISIS’ obvious roots in the harsh fundamentalism of Saudi Wahhabism — and actually traces the history of Wahhabi beliefs to the fall of Baghdad and Damascus — to invading Mongols several hundred years ago.  In a response that echoes modern-day American TV preachers, some medieval Muslim scholars linked the military defeat to an alleged failure of Muslims to practice “pure” Islam. “Pure” meant — even at that time — an idealized version of seventh-century Islamic life. 

    That kind of “God is punishing us for not being pious” religious scare-mongering is almost identical to the messages from the ever-hateful Pat Robertson and the Thugs-for-Jesus at Westboro Church — who tell us that American war dead and damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are God’s punishment to America for allowing teh gays and cancelling prayer in taxpayer-operated schools.

    I don’t imagine that The Tyee has much visibility with most Kos members — I hope people find the article an interesting read.

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