Tags: real world crap

Lovecraft on the mid-term election

I said I'd not say much about tomorrow's exercise in representative democracy (plus a bunch of dumb-ass ballot measures) but I was amused and delighted by the following, a quotation from the letters of H.P. Lovecraft (thanks to writer Mark W. Tiedemann for putting it in a Facebook update):



"As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead."
-- Letter to C.L. Moore, August 1936 quoted in H.P. Lovecraft, a Life by S.T. Joshi, p. 574
Don't anyone even think about bothering to inform me by way of comments that Lovecraft also held a lot of other views with which I would disagree. I know he was a racist and anti-Semite, but so was nearly every other WASPy person in New England in the early twentieth century, and few WASPs seriously questioned the innate racial superiority of WASPs in those days, so HPL was in no way outside the mainstream of his society and time period in that regard, whatever we may think of it now. I know all that already. But what I dig about the above passage is how it remains such an appropriate assessment of the modern GOP even coming from such a different time. Things really have not changed that much. Indeed, if HPL returned from the dead now and assessed the current nature of the Republicans, he'd probably be even more disgusted. The alliance between the GOP and the religious loons happened decades after HPL's time, and I wonder if he would have imagined that such nuttiness could survive so far into the future. After all, while he had strong views on issues of the day, he also held that human affairs are important only the human scale and that really, on the scale of the universe, we don't matter at all. I suspect that he would find the prevalence of religious fundamentalism and its close alliance with kooky political regimes in the 21st century to be quite disgusting. And he'd probably say something very much like his words from 75 years ago.

Apropos of nothing, the image below is one I snagged in a random Google search. These rather attractive turn-of- the-20th-century youths are evidently HPL's high school class. But I can't say with certainty which, if any, of them are the man himself, though one in particular looks like him (he supposedly skipped school a lot and may have missed picture day). I like how their uniforms say "HOPE."



 

An example of teabagger cynicism and douchebaggery

I guess because I'm from St. Louis and a diehard urbanite, I should say something about stupid Prop A. It's a bunch of shit. And a cynical bunch of shit, too. While those of us who live in St. Louis (us of the city proper; NOT the douche-sprawl denizens who always say "St. Louis" when they talk to people outside the area, but always say "Chesterfield" and "Town and Country" and "Maryland Heights" etc. when they speak to locals), don't necessarily love paying the 1% earnings tax, we mostly understand that if it were to go away as a huge source of the city's public funding then it would need to be replaced by something. The Prop A supporters have yet to suggest a replacement source of a third of the city's budget other than nebulous Republican-flavored promises of "increased tax base" because of "more business investment" and "economic growth" and  "blah, blah, blah." They also have no answer for this: what happens to the city's credit rating when every five years if not as soon as next year) a popular vote could take away a third of its operating budget? What if I were a big stinking sweaty disgusting moneybags capitalist banking tycoon, and you came to me for a loan to buy a super-duper-muper-expensive house, and I asked you what your income is, and you said, "One brazillion dollars a year!" I might say, "Awesome! This loan is no problem. Here are the keys to your house." But then what if you followed up by saying, "Well, my income may fall drastically next year." Then I'd furrow my fat-cat moneybags brow in worry and suspicion and wonder if you could still make your 30-year mortgage payment on your super-duper-muper-expensive house. You'd hang your head, scuff the floor with one heel, wishing you had said nothing at all, and reply, "I don't know. It's all up to the voters." Well, fuck, I'd say. That's a really dumb way to run stuff. You're gonna have fucking voters decide, based on a stupid talk-radio-addled whim, whether you have a budget next year or not? W. T. F. 

But aside from the dumbassity of the economics behind it, what I really hate is the fact that it's a state ballot measure that people outside the city limits of St. Louis and Kansas City have a say in. Why do the people of benighted Festus and Mexico and Aux Vasse and Joplin and Springfield and Troy and ten thousand other ghost-towns get a say in what happens in my city and Kansas City, the only two great cities in the state? The answer, one word: teabaggery. By getting the issue on a statewide ballot measure and drumming up phony-baloney anti-tax sentiment and linking it to other teabagger/Republican boogeymen, they have guaranteed passage of the measure. It's politically brilliant. Voters in all the hinterland, ghost-town, don't matter-at-all, drive-past, fly-over territory between STL and KC will get to say, "Well, I don't want an earnings tax up in here!" As if that would ever happen anyway. To be clear: there was and is zero danger of "new earnings taxes" being imposed in any other municipality in the great Show Me State, and the engineers of Prop A know that very well. They are using out-state hostility toward the cities (which trend liberal and Democratic in their voting behavior) to force a destructive measure on the cities that they hate so very much. 

FOOTNOTES...

On voting Republican
...Despite my traditional mouthiness on political matters, I haven't had much to say about the impending mid-term election because I don't honestly care that much about the outcome of it. If the GOP wins Congress, they won't get a damned thing done and they'll still end up making asses of themselves and propel President Obama to re-election (just like they did with Clinton in the 1990s). It might even be good for the country to see what teabagger control of the House and Senate looks like. And I've said it all before anyway: if you vote for a Republican at any level of government for any office anywhere in America for any reason whatsoever, then you are voting for bigotry. This is because of the GOP's ongoing practice of espousing homophobia and opposing marriage rights in its official platform. The official-in-writing homophobia of the GOP is something that I have been complaining about in writing since I was a teenager twenty years ago, and it has not gotten any better. Indeed, they have slid even further back. My total opposition to the election of any Republican anywhere generally extends to opposition to any Republican-backed ballot initiatives as well, such as Missouri's Proposition A. 

On ballot measures...
The ballot initiative itself, as a process, is crap. It was once an aberration confined mostly to the newcomer Western states, but it has crept into almost every corner of the country and is used again and again as a tool for a dumbass majority to deprive the minority of their rights. That's why more than thirty of the fifty US states have those fucking disgusting one-man/one-woman marriage amendments in their constitutions. If we're going to have the moron masses decide every law by popular vote then we might as well abandon every progressive reform of the last century. The reason we have a written constitution is to specifically protect certain values from the mob mentality.

9/10/2002 Redux

I work a double tomorrow--a day at the shop and then chef-ing an event at night--so I probably won't have time to blog my thoughts about the 9/11 anniversary, nor react in real time to any of the dumbass shenanigans the world will get up to tomorrow (burning Korans and what not), but I just re-read my 9/11 post from last year and it it seems just as relevant this year. So I will the paste the whole thing here:

"9/10/2002" (posted originally on 9/11/09)
Eight years ago today, I was executive chef and restaurant manager at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The phone rang that morning, and it was my co-worker Sharon calling from our corporate office, where she was attending a meeting. She said, "Bring the TV upstairs and turn it on. Something's going on. It looks like a plane crashed into the World Trade Center." We kept a TV in our storage area for the purpose of renting it to clients who needed A/V for meetings in our private dining room. I looked at online news first and saw the initial story on one of the news websites. I clicked to another page and saw the updated news stating that a second plane had hit the second tower.  I brought the TV up into the cafe's kitchen and for the next couple of hours all work stopped as my staff and I learned of the third plane crashing into the Pentagon and the fourth one whose fate was unclear for a while, and watched the Trade Center towers crumble to the ground. There were rumors and misinformation moving about as well: perhaps military aircraft had shot down a hijacked plane, perhaps there were many more planes en route to suicide collisions. Someone said that there had been a car bomb at the State Department. 

The Art Museum shut down at noon that day as a security precaution, as did similar venues around the city such as the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Arch. Some of my colleagues and I, not knowing what else to do with the rest of the day, met at a bar and drank away much of the afternoon, peering at TVs occasionally, waiting for more news. What we all noticed that afternoon, and what I will never forget, was the strange quiet that resulted from no aircraft in the sky.  In St. Louis, as in most cities with big airports, there is a constant, faint underlying drone of air traffic. It's unnoticeable until it's gone, and that was the first time it was ever gone.

Almost one year later, on the tenth of September 2002, I was still in that job at the Art Museum. A disagreeable customer, a lady who was one of a group of six ladies, started raising hell over our policy of not providing separate checks. It was bad enough that I was summoned by their server to try to smooth it over. With great, dripping disdain, she said to me, and I shit you not, "I can't believe that you would put everybody through this, and on the anniversary of 9/11, too!" And she sneered at me. For putting them "through this." Of course, I am a total professional in customer service situations, so I held back and did not reply thus: "Put you through what, you dumb disgusting ghoul? You think your sad-sack piece-of-shit little problem is somehow worth mentioning in the same breath as 9/11? Because you didn't get a separate check for your six dollar lunch? Well, fuck you. And look at a calendar. Today is nine-TEN!"

I'm sure there are still douchebags all over America trying to form self-righteous and ridiculous connections between their stupid, petty problems and 9/11, and the anniversary itself is certainly the day of days for it. But I'd ask those folks to instead show a little goddamned respect. And maybe consider for just one day that the whole fucking world isn't all about them. And when they get their lower lips all a-tremble about 9/11, how about shedding a tear or two for all the thousands of our soldiers and the tens of thousands of other people worldwide who have had to die in this endless war that we have fought ever since that awful day and will probably never quit fighting during the lifetimes of anyone alive today.

Ken Mehlman: I May Puke

Unlike many other people, I will not be congratulating, supporting or "understanding" the difficult "personal journey" that has resulted in Ken Mehlman, former chair of the Republican National Committee and the head of W's re-election  campaign in 2004, in coming out as gay. Indeed, I think Mehlman is perhaps the most troubling figure ever to emerge in the so-called "gay community." When I consider how he was an architect of the campaign to re-elect the country's most disastrous President--using the tactic of whipping up anti-gay-marriage hysteria across the country in order to get the fundies and other nitwits to turn out in droves to vote against gays and for W on the same ballot--it makes me shake with rage. When I hear that he will now be an advocate for marriage equality, it makes my stomach turn. While the country is chockablock with crazy homophobes and marriage bigots, it is Mehlman--a gay guy--who actually did the filthy work that has made attaining marriage equality the incredibly difficult task that it is. Because many of things that I'd like to say were already said a couple weeks ago, in a much better way than I could, by Mike Rogers on BlogActive, I will quote at length from that:

So, how can Ken Mehlman redeem himself? I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day.

And those state marriage amendments. I want to hear him apologize for every one of those, too.

And then there is one other little thing. You see, while you and I had the horrible feelings of being treated so poorly by our President, while teens were receiving the messaging 'gay is bad' giving them 'permission' to gay bash, while our rights were being stripped away state by state, Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He's done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of money. A LOT of money. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a $3,770,000.00 (that's $3.77 million) condo in Chelsea while we have lost our right to marry in almost 40 states.

THEN, and only then, should Mehlman be welcomed into our community.

I'm a little less generous than that. I don't think there is much of anything Mehlman could do to make me want to welcome him into "our community" ever after what he has done. In fact, if there existed some kind Gay War Crimes Tribunal, I'd call for him to be brought before it and tried for treason.

Oh, and those homophobic churchy groups that Mehlman and his friends mobilized in 2004 to beat back the Homosexual Agenda and help W barely win his election? Here's one of them just a few days ago commenting on this very case, taking current RNC Chair Michael Steele to task for being nice to Mehlman after it was confirmed that he is a "practicing homosexual." Be careful, RNC: it looks like some of your dimwit Bible Troops are starting to get restless with all these gay-ass shenanigans going on at your highest levels.

Teabaggers think murder is funny

"Aww, Chris, don't generalize. They don't all think murder is funny," someone might say. And I might reply, "Well, too bad, I am going to tar them all with the same brush just like they do to gay people whenever they feel that their sham heterosexual marriages are on the rocks." Hence: the Tea Party evidently advocates and celebrates and even laughs at the murder of gay people. My evidence for this remarkable blanket condemnation of every single member of anywhere from eleven to seventy-nine percent of the American population is encapsulated in this post on America Blog-Gay, which details how one Tim Ravndal (an American name? doesn't there need to be a vowel more in the middle of that orthographical mess, Tim? "V" followed by "N?" Doesn't look very Mayflower to me, dude, sure you're really an American?) went on Facebook to complain how it's "unconstitutional" to let me get married and went on to pal around with a pro-murder psychopath.


Matthew Shepard

As one can see from the Facebook screen-shot copied on the America Blog page,  this Ravndal douche--the Montana state Teabagger president-- was goaded into making jokes with a homophobe scumbag derived from the facts and iconography of Matthew Shepard's murder. As anyone who knows me at all knows very well, this ongoing hate campaign against Matthew Shepard by right-wing political elements really fucking pushes my rage button. And when such remarks come from two men who are plainly closeted homosexual lovers, it makes me steel my resolve to expose them as the hypocrites that they are.

While I think it's great that the Montana Teabagger high command has removed Ravndal (it's hard to even type that name, it's so "unnatural" and "un-American") from its leadership and stated that they do not tolerate bigotry, I am mystified at the statement from Big Sky Teabagger Board Chair Jim Walker that, "I do believe Mr. Ravndal when he explained that he was in no way intending to promote violence and that he was not thinking about nor condoning the murder of an innocent victim in Wyoming in 1998 when he responded to some very disturbing comments made by another individual."  What exactly about that Facebook exchange makes one think that Ravndal was not condoning such murder? He asked for the fucking manual. What manual would that be? Would it be the one that explains how to beat to death and hang on a fence a faggot?

The formal union of the Teabagger movement and the pan-prejudiced-white-male-cry-baby-piece- of-shit-right-wing was announced by Beck and Palin et thugs in Washington a few days ago. This nonsense in Montana is just one local example.

Just wait.

Thinking about pre-fascist conditions

I've been concerned for about a decade that certain trends are ripening America for a fascist era, if not fascism of the 20th century European variety with brown-shirted thugs and genocide, then perhaps an American variety festooned in flags and crosses and founded on the phony-baloney state religion of national security and the very American (and wholly fraudulent) assumption that rich and powerful people somehow "deserve" to be that way because they "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" (whatever the fuck that means--can we get some fresher metaphors, please?)...even when they didn't.  Some observations in no particular order that make me think of this lately:

#1: Sarah Palin, whom many people still take seriously as a Presidential contender, has associated herself with "Doctor" Laura Schlessinger, noted homophobe, racist and entitled cunt, by encouraging Dr. Laura not to retreat but to "reload." This was about the fallout from Schlessinger's little "nigger" rant, aimed at a perfectly reasonable black woman who called into her radio show. Two things seemed to have been missed here: 1) While some people seem to have only just heard of the vile Laura, she has been on my screen for many years because of her combination of vicious homophobia (and other prejudices) and dismissive "counseling" of people--basically, it's your own fault if you have a problem and do not agree with her worldview. Her stock in trade is a kind of reductive reasoning where all members of the groups she doesn't like are all of piece: ALL black people are engaged in "black thought" (she has said those words), etc. Saying "nigger" on the air isn't even the tip of her dirty iceberg. 2) The catalog of ridiculous shit that this woman has said over the years is really staggering, but what's even more staggering is that it has come to pass that a Presidential candidate has risked associating herself with a fringe rightwing media loon. And what's even more staggering than that is the fact that no one seems to think that's a big deal! It's a measure of how far we have drifted that it is really not even any kind of risk for a Presidential candidate to do this. Generally, one would think that a politician with national ambitions would avoid (whatever her own personal views are) getting the rotten-meat stink of a talk radio nutcase all over herself and potentially turning off every thinking voter.  But there's the problem: voters do not any longer seem to see a problem with this. Can you imagine the patrician George Bush the First (not W, but the good one, as Bushes go) or the gentlemanly Bob Dole, if Twitter had existed in 1990, going online and speaking directly to bottom-feeding radio scumbags? Even if they'd agreed with all the shit Laura says, they never would have actually talked to her in that way, much less encouraged her activities.

#2: The American right wing (formerly the "extreme right," now just the "right") promulgates the notion that their "rights" are being violated by our black president and his legions. Repudiating Dr. Laura's behavior somehow takes away her First Amendment rights, and Palin agrees with this. Evidently in their world, to respect their freedom of speech, one must either agree with what they say or stay silent about it. If one speaks up against it, then it's the (black) Man trying to take away their fundamental freedoms. They also like to drag out the tired old canard that their opponents are engaged not in any kind of reasonable debate but in name-calling and stereotyping?  What!?  Like "nigger" and "black thought" and "faggot?" And so what if we are, if all Dr. Laura cares about is First Amendment rights? The First Amendment neither states nor implies that if I am to oppose her point of view then I need to present some kind of "argument" that she and her ideological kith and kin will judge to be "reasonable" under the constraints of their tortured logic. Indeed, if I instead prefer not argue at all and simply characterize her as a moronic, savage troll and rabid bitch (and describe her ally Palin as a bobble-headed fool), then that is well covered within my First Amendment rights. Watch carefully in the coming weeks and months the progress of their case that Americans rights are being taken away by the vast Obama plot. This is what they will make their political fortune on because the dumbass public will gradually come to accept it even though they can't point to one credible example of something that has happened in real life that points to this.

#3: Blaming the Other for all your problems on a mass scale is a necessary precursor to the ascent of fascism and we have that all over the damned place now, so much of it that it's hard to sort out from the general background radiation of dumbassity. During every even-numbered year since 9/11/01, the right has drummed up in various ways passions over the Holiest of Holies, the political gift that keeps on giving, the attack on New York and DC, in their effort to win elections. It didn't work in '06 and '08 because the country was so weary of their dreadful mismanagement of everything from botching the wars to  busting the budget to running the economy into a ditch. But now in '10, they seem to think they will rekindle that old time 9/11 fire and they are doing it through blatant, out-and-out Muslim-bashing. Even W and Cheney did not trade in that, but now we have the spectacle of Republicans all over the country, even in hinterlands where they have no idea what a dense city like Manhattan looks like from the ground, campaigning against the "Ground Zero Mosque" and say, with no sense of shame, that perhaps we do need to restrict the religious freedoms of certain Americans because ALL of these people could at any time become terrorists. And as all REAL Americans know, terrorists are the scariest, worst thing in the world and they are planning to kill you right now. This would be disgusting in any year, but now they have a face for their fear even scarier than the distant Osama bin Laden: the black face of President Obama, whom a fifth of Americans think is a Muslim. Not only do Muslims wants to kill you, they imply (and literally say), but you need to consider that the actual leader of the country is secretly one of them and in cahoots with them to kill "real" Americans. Keep an eye on this trend as well.

Phenomena like these, when combined with our country's jacked-up, out-of-whack economic conditions and class structure, seem to me to create a very worrisome concoction.

NOM: Losers

 The person who made this sign to display at a recent NOM "rally" is a piece of shit:



Also, NOM itself is fucking pathetic with their sad little "One Man One Woman" tour. When the COUNTER-demonstration outnumbers by five and tens time the size of their demonstration, then that's some really sad crap. Sad for them, anyway. To me it's hilarious iwhen they manage to draw together literally tens of people (like 45 or 50 at a recent in Wisconsin) and then 400 supporters of marriage equality appear to counter them.

Courage Campaign has been running a "NOM Tour Tracker" site to keep tabs on these creeps and let people know when they might attempt one of their dumb hate rallies in one's own town. While NOM itself is a pitiful pile of crap of an organization, it's probably wise to keep notes on the movements and activities of such groups because they tend to be magnets for potentially dangerous psychotics such the douche who made that sign, which I take as advocating the murder of my partner and me.

(Also, I noticed that the sign says something at the bottom about a "Cross Bearer Ministry." I don't know what that is, but if it's those people who tow around the big wooden crosses on wheels, then that makes it all the more stupid.)

Daniel Schorr

Daniel Schorr died the other day at age 93. If you don't who that was, then you owe it to yourself to learn. 

Born in 1917, same year as my grandmother (still living), Schorr was a journalist who lived and observed and reported on most of the century of human history during which the most dramatic changes in the condition of humanity on Earth took place. He did this with a serious, thoroughness and intellectual honesty--and a respect for his trade--that is vanishing rapidly from journalism. 

I had the pleasure of getting to know this man's voice, which once read aloud on the air Nixon's Enemies List (on which he himself was listed as a major "media enemy"), late in his career on Saturday mornings when he would chat for a few minutes with Scott Simon on Weekend Edition. By this point in his long career, he was Senior News Analyst for NPR and was free to say pretty much whatever he wished about current events. But he never once crossed into the kind of histrionics and bile that typify media talking heads in almost all other news outlets (and no, I don't just mean Fox; I'm talking about MSNBC and CNN as well). He was a powerful intellect with unimpeachable integrity, and that's something that's hard to say about very many people in the news business anymore.

If you don't know about Daniel Schorr, I can't think of a better way to learn about him than to listen this interview with him on the Diane Rehm Show in 2006. Diane herself is a legendarily excellent interviewer, and this is probably one of the most worthwhile hours of radio for anyone interested in broadcast journalism and its history in America.

Schorr's last broadcast for NPR was on July 10.

Die Young



Unlike some long-lived bands that change their lead singers, Black Sabbath remained great, and actually got a second wind, when Ronnie James Dio, one of metal's founding fathers, replaced Ozzy Osbourne. Dio's fight with cancer ended today. 

Dear Angry Gubberment-Hating White Men: Look in the MIrror and See McVeigh Staring Back at You

As my current (soon-to-be-former) city of residence, Oklahoma City acknowledges the fifteenth anniversary of the bombing of the Federal building just a few streets away from where I sit now, I am struck by the irony of a gun-wielding mini-mob doing an Angry-Little-Dick-White-Man demo in DC and by local wingnuts seriously advocating establishing a citizen's militia in Oklahoma. Also, I am disgusted by one of our Congressman, Tom Cole, claiming that the bombing was "not a political event" and accusing one of his colleagues of "exploiting" it for political purposes by mentioning that this act of terrorism was conducted by right-wing extremists who wanted instill in the government a fear of the "people." Let me ask this: if that bombing was not a political event than what the fuck was it? Terrorism, by definition, is a political act. That's what it's for, asshole. Politics. What, were the 9/11 bombers just evil thugs who wanted to blow up building and kill people just for the fun of it? Is that seriously what people like Cole want us to believe? While reasonable people deplore the tactic of terrorism, it's entire basis is politics.

The Oklahoma City bombing was conducted by anti-government extremists, the ideological descendants of the Klan and the Birchers, people inspired by the The Turner Diaries, the political kith and kin of the douchebags carrying signs depicting the President of the United States as a monkey and threatening to use their guns to protect their so-called "liberty." McVeigh's descendants now lie that their taxes have been increased, that the government has taken over their lives, that Obama is coming for the their guns, and believe it when Glenn Beck and other bilious turds of that ilk claim that the evil government is readying concentration camps in which to intern all the good patriots of Palin-land. How sad it will be if the present-day Okie angry dickless dudes actually do succeed in setting up their militia. I wonder what the survivors of April 19, 1995 will think about it. 

A few months ago when I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel, I set in it an alternate America where much of the country had been overtaken by a new extremist political party which did indeed start creating new state militias for the purpose of resisting the Federal government. Based on how things seem to be proceeding in the real world, I thought it was a possible development, but I didn't think it would really start so soon. I still think (or at least hope) it won't really come to that. But if it does, will Obama deal with it with the way Lincoln did?