Sunday, November 21, 2010


"There was this movie in the 70s called Johnny Got His Gun, based on a famous book by a blacklisted screenwriter. It was about this soldier who gets shot, and he's lying on the operating table, completely lucid, but paralyzed, unable to move, unable to talk, unable to scream. I know how he felt. Talk about being fucking paralyzed. Look at me!! But you know what? I envy the bastard. At least he could suffer in private instead of being carted around like some movie prop in the arms of some crazy bitch while she shrieks at a bunch of fat, dumb rubes who wouldn't recognize an original thought if it got shot up their asses on the tip of a lightning bolt. I mean, do you hear the stupid shit that comes out of this hosebag's mouth!? She thinks she's the living incarnation of fucking Jesus, Mother Mary, Joan of Arc, and Ronald Reagan, and I have to just hang there with a load in my pants, like a fucking idiot, looking like I endorse this shit! And now I'm stuck in some reality show, being carted off to some wilderness while she pretends she's Nanookie of the Fucking North. And not only am I not being paid, but the second the cameras are off, she hands me off to the moron husband, who hands me off to some assistant who he's probably bangin' when she's on the road. But, hey, why not? She's got him by the balls so he plays his part 'cause she's bringing in the cash. We're all stuck in this carnival sideshow and she's working it from every angle. "Mama Grizzlies," my ass. Only contact she's had with a wild animal, other than shooting it from a helicopter, is when she makes Todd dress up in the bear suit during their "special alone time." Like they think I don't hear her ridin' his ass from the next room. Tell you one thing: I get a little older and she wants me to perform, she's gonna have to diddle my prick, too. Sarah Palin's Alaska. Shit. And they call me retarded. This show is retarded! This life is retarded! This whole country is retarded!!

(Thank you. That was borrowed from Al Pacino's rant in And Justice For All. It's my audition monologue for the Special Needs Players. Gotta do something to bust out of this crazy life. Got any suggestions? I'm all ears.)

T.P. From the road. Peace out. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bill O’Reilly Said Something Interesting

On the season finale of Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly said something interesting. No, really. Toward the end of their discussion about the Bush tax cuts and whether the wealthy could withstand the potential 3% bump, O’Reilly responded: “the philosophy is that income redistribution isn’t in the Constitution. It wasn’t how the country was set up. This is a capitalistic society.” That comment nagged at me for a while until I figured out why: it’s wrong. I’m not trying to take shots at O’Reilly. Granted, he’s made some onerous comments in the past, but compared to the gaggle of dimwitted cheerleaders and special needs adults that is Murdochia, O’Reilly is Socrates. But, in this case, he was wrong. And it’s a wrongness that cuts to the heart of many of our differences in this country, and some of the animosity that has infected the political process.

Here’s the wrong part: We don’t “live in a capitalistic society.” We work in a capitalist system. We live in a democratic society. And just to make sure, I checked what the Preamble to the Constitution had to say about capitalism, as I seemed to remember it being more of a statement of basic human rights than an economic manifesto:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Then I checked the history of capitalism:

“… the American economy became predominantly capitalist only by 1900. The earlier years fall into three periods. The first, from 1600 to 1790, is characterized by handicraft-subsistence production alongside elements of a semi-capitalist economy stemming from commercial production of tobacco. The most commercialized sectors of the economy were predominantly staffed by enslaved and semi-enslaved workers. During the second period, 1790-1865, several industries became organized along capitalist lines and some sectors of agriculture lost their subsistence character until by the period's end agriculture as a whole was producing for the market. A working class of free and unfree elements is then growing rapidly. In the third period, 1865-1920, economic development attains an extraordinary pace as industry and, increasingly, agriculture becomes subject to capitalist forces...”

So, no capitalism, as such, around the time of the Constitution. Just a “semi-capitalist economy” stemming from tobacco production “staffed by enslaved and semi-enslaved workers” neither of which I’d be too eager to brag about. Not that I’m knocking capitalism. I’m not even cynical about it, to the point of paraphrasing Churchill’s line about democracy being “the worst form of government, except for all the rest.” Abuses aside, capitalism works because it values the individual human spirit and allows us to use our talents, take risks, work hard, and reap the benefits of that hard work. That’s why communism imploded. You can’t stifle that spirit. When you try, people tend to rebel, and you eventually find yourself in need of a totalitarian regime to keep them in check. Not exactly the dictatorship of the proletariat. More like the dictatorship of the dictatorship.

In a capitalist system, we’re free to pursue individual goals and chase material wealth. But while that tends to be our definition of success and the good life, individual achievement is not the whole of our existence. Seen with a narrow focus, we work for ourselves. But from a broader point of view, we ultimately work for each other. Take the richest person you can think of. No matter how much money they have, they still need people to work for them. Someone’s got to build the mansions, cut the lawns, fly the private planes, drive the limos, cook the meals, cut the grass, do the taxes… We’re not rocks or islands. Even the richest among us needs other people.

When Bernie Madoff was sent to prison, a part of me wanted to let him stay in his Manhattan apartment, and keep all his money. But with an agreement among the rest of us that no one will work for him. No one sends electricity to his apartment, cooks his meals, sells him food, drives his cars, flies his planes. It would have been interesting to see the ultimate worthlessness of the money he stole if no one would accept any of it. He would’ve starved to death, lousy with cash. Desperate to stay alive, maybe he would’ve tried to eat it.

Which brings me back to O’Reilly’s wrongness as it pertains to the current political situation, as Republicans in the new Congress savor their recent victories and, with blood surging to their extremities, prepare to cut the deficit by going after the so-called entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- all part of an overall attempt to turn the Obama administration into Welcome Back Carter. But their zeal seems to go beyond trimming money from these programs to the illegitimacy of the programs themselves. Their rhetoric is laced with references to what is American and Constitutional. Even the word “entitlement” is said with a derogatory sneer, revealing that they see these programs as government handouts for the weak and lazy, as opposed to programs designed to protect the least fortunate among us, or take care of people when they get old and sick.

For people who tend to be skeptical about evolution, many Republicans seem to have no problem with economic evolution -- survival of the wealthiest. But what is Constitutional, American, even Christian if you roll that way, is compassion and concern for the least fortunate among us. An acknowledgement that our value as individuals isn’t based on our success as wage-earners. No one’s talking about private jets for everyone. How about just making sure that people have the basics of life: food, shelter, education, health care? Things most people would agree fall under the heading of “the general welfare.”

For all the recent squawking about “our freedoms,” many Americans don’t seem to get the relationship between freedom and responsibility. We think that freedom means you do whatever the hell you want, make as much as you want, and no one can stop you. And to an extent, it does. But in a larger sense it refers to our common human value and responsibility to each other. It’s not income redistribution to acknowledge that responsibility. It’s “we, the people…” Not “we, the rich,” “we, the privileged,” or “we, the presently employed.” “We, the people.” All of us. When considering the value of an individual, and what they’re entitled to, our democratic society should trump our capitalist system. It doesn’t always. But it should. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010 interview on Deconstructing God

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Springtime for Palin?

“President Palin.” Rupert Murdoch’s masturbatory mantra, and the rest of the country’s nightmare. The polls say it can’t happen. That she’s a joke as a national candidate, with no support outside the Tea Party. But there hasn’t been a major news broadcast in the last two years that hasn’t touched on the question: “will she or won’t she run for president.” Unfortunately, not one seems to touch on the question: “is she smart enough to be president.” The simple answer is no. The more subtle answer is: it may not matter.

Republicans have no problem with stupid. The previous “not smart enough to be president” is presently on his revisionist history book tour. For several election cycles in the 70s, most people were in disbelief that "that idiot Ronald Reagan" was running again. In a reality show world, where talent is no longer a prerequisite for fame, intelligence is no longer a prerequisite for elected office. It has been trumped by raw ambition. And Palin is a person whose intelligence is inversely proportional to her ambition. Despite the fact that she’s yet to make a speech that wasn’t a litany of stock phrases and belligerent taunts delivered in a voice so shrill it sounds like a dolphin that got its dick slammed in a car door, she has touched a nerve with the great unwashed. Republican women wish they looked like her. Republican men wished their wives looked like her. It seems a wink is as good as a nod to a blind electorate.

But her limitations haven’t stopped her. Humility has no place in her world. You can see it in her eyes: she wants it. But that’s ok, because Republicans also have no problem with lust for power. Palin was delivered to us by a man who wanted the presidency so bad, he sold his soul more often than Max Bialystock sold shares in Springtime for Hitler. And Palin’s lust for power goes beyond McCain’s mere ambition. Hers touches on megalomania. She thinks her creator is opening doors for her. She thinks she’s the anointed one. Consider her near incomprehensible resignation speech, in which she told the people of Alaska that she could work for them more effectively out of office. To most people it just seemed like a self-serving line of bullshit. But, in her mind, she was telling the truth. In her mind, she needed to free herself from the limitations of state office to set the stage for her run at national office. Once elected, she would be serving the entire country – including Alaska. See? She can better serve them out of the governor’s office.

Elections are responses to the times. It’s likely that the next two years will show some economic growth, though it’s unlikely that we’ll hit outright prosperity. It’s certain, however, that the fault for any economic problems will be laid at the feet of the president and Democrats, and the credit for any economic gains will be usurped by the Republicans. It will be a simple message that the Republicans will hammer over and over. And one thing Republicans know how to do is stay on message. The last two years have been nothing but Republicans lighting bags of dogshit, and Democrats continually trying to stomp them out. And despite the fact that Palin will get carved up for caribou steaks during the primary debates, if she manages to smirk her way to a nomination, the party will fall in line behind her. Because if there’s another thing Republicans know how to do, it’s fall in line. The North Korean army looks at the Republicans and marvels at their ability to march in lockstep. 

Now, you can console yourself with the thought that, sure, Christine O’Donnell didn’t win. And Sharron Angle didn’t win. But they were nominated. And as unintelligent as Palin is, she’s not O’Donnell dumb. And she’s not Angle reckless. By the time she makes a run at the presidency, she’ll have accumulated four more years of popularity via her “books,” speeches, reality show, and Fox cheerleaders. She'll also probably absorb a modicum of fancy book learnin’. She’ll learn the names of a few national newspapers. She’ll cipher a few economic stats, some energy and foreign policy clichés. And she probably won’t accept another collect call from the President of France.

Sure, most thinking Americans think she’s unelectable. And many Democrats secretly hope she’s the nominee. After all, on the national stage, she’s a sure failure. Then again, so was Springtime for Hitler. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010



Friday, November 5, 2010



Thursday, November 4, 2010

20 Post-Midterm Questions

1)    If the 2010 midterm Republican victories represent the “voice of the American people to which the Democrats need to listen,” why didn’t the 2006 and 2008 Democratic victories represent the voice of the American people to which Republicans needed to listen?
2)    If keeping the Bush tax cuts is necessary to pull the country out of an economic slump, how did the country go into an economic slump when the Bush tax cuts were in place?
3)    If the cause of the near economic collapse was naïve homebuyers who took mortgages they couldn’t afford or understand, why didn’t we solve the problem by bailing them out, instead of bailing out Wall Street investment bankers who should have been smart enough to understand the risks they were taking, along with the potential consequences? If Wall Street is a casino, apparently it’s a casino where you get your money back if you lose. Is Albert Brooks advising Tim Geithner? 
4)    If Obama bailing out GM was a government takeover of the auto industry, why wasn’t bailing out Chrysler a government takeover of the auto industry?
5)    Why is it when Democrats try to pass health care reform they’re “shoving it down the throats of the American people” but when Republicans refuse to compromise they’re “sticking to their principles?”
6)    Which part of Obamacare do Republicans hate more: the “Obama” part, or the “care” part?
7)    Do Republicans get sick? And do they think that if health insurance reform is repealed that their insurance companies will reward them for their loyalty by not dropping them or reducing their coverage if and when they get sick? And will this lead us back to the old system, in which your insurance company covers you for everything except what happens to you?
8)    If the Canadian and British health care systems are so bad, why aren’t all Canadians and British people dead?
9)    Where are the Death Panels and can you nominate people?
10) If Democrats offer solutions to problems and Republicans univocally say “no,” why is that “Washington gridlock” instead of Republican obstructionism?
11) How can anyone look at Rand Paul and not feel that he’s got the crazy eyes of an aspiring dictator?
12) How can anyone look at Michele Bachmann and not feel she’s got the crazy eyes of a psycho lover who drove cross country wearing a diaper to get back her man?
13) Why is it when Ed Muskie “cried” in 1972 it showed him as weak and cost him his candidacy, but when Weeper of the House Boehner blubbers on camera he’s an honest, hard-working guy who’s trying to choke back his emotions?
14) Where is John Boehner’s birth certificate? I haven’t seen it. And is that tan from American sun? It looks Mediterranean bronze to me. A little troubling for someone in line for the presidency. I think the American people deserve answers.
15) Can we have literacy tests for candidates in which they need to demonstrate a basic understanding of American history and the roots of democracy, along with being able to name at least one Supreme Court judge and the title of a newspaper?
16) Can we establish “bullshit boards” during campaigns so that when candidates toss around loaded phrases like “social security is unconstitutional” or “the president is a socialist/fascist/communist,” the board issues a ruling on whether these statements are factual? For each untrue statement a candidate is given a “bullshit point.” Five bullshit points and you’re out of the race.
17) How can Rick Perry be interviewed on The Today Show as a possible presidential candidate in 2012 when he seriously promoted the idea of Texas seceding from the nation?
18) Would anyone mind if Texas seceded from the nation? And could they just leave Austin behind?
19) If God was behind Sharron Angle’s and Christine O’Donnell’s campaigns, did the people of Nevada and Delaware defy God by not electing them? And aren’t they concerned about displeasing Him? And couldn’t He have just rigged the voting machines to make sure His candidates won? Or is it possible Angle and O’Donnell were simply delusional?
20) Is “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” the title of her upcoming TLC reality show or is it what she officially renamed the state right before resigning from office?