Author Archives: alex_the_tired

Special Guest Post: Two things!

Alex the Tired here. Just dipping my hand in.

1. James Brady died. Most people don’t remember who James Brady was. Even the people who were alive when he was shot by John Hinckley probably didn’t remember his name without prompting. He was Reagan’s press secretary.

I wonder if Brady ever thought about all the gun killings that happened after his maiming. All these politicians claiming his friendship, talking about how wonderful and special he was, and here’s Columbine. And the D.C. snipers. And Newtown. And Sandy Hook.

Thirty-three years in a wheelchair, put there by a lunatic who couldn’t separate reality from fantasy, and all the effort to get guns off the streets made no difference: the politicians still suck up to the NRA.

I hope Brady never figured out how little he meant to all those politicians, how the massive derangement of his life was simply the cost of doing business when the NRA lobbyists came to town to wheel and deal.

2. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. According to the New York Times, Bergdahl “did not exercise his right to remain silent in an interview with the officer investigating his disappearance.” Anyone want to take odds on how long it will take to find Bergdahl guilty?

Bergdahl better start writing that pardon request right now. If he gets it in before the impeachment proceedings start, he might luck out …

Special Guest Item: A Moment of Reflection

Alex_the_Tired here:
The news reported the other day the death of Jeremian A. Denton Jr.
Denton was shot down during the Vietnam War, tortured and finally released after seven years of brutal confinement. He is best remembered by that sliver of the country that actually pays attention for using his eyelids to blink out the Morse Code for T-O-R-T-U-R-E during a filmed propaganda interview.

I admire ANYONE who can perform such a marvelous middle finger.

But I had a moment of reflection upon the 45 seconds the news could spare to tell us about this man:

He was shot down on the way to bombing a military target. This made Denton a legitimate target for capture.

He was tortured, and that was wrong. There is no defense for torture, especially of unarmed prisoners. What are they going to do, anyway? This isn’t Hogan’s Heroes. They aren’t engaging in sabotage every week while a laughtrack plays in the background.

He not only resisted, he encouraged his men to resist.

And then I thought about the men being held at Gitmo. The question of whether they were/are legitimate targets is dubious at best. The reports are easily accessible that show some of these men were rounded up based on a sole person’s “testimony” that the man in question was engaged in terrorist activities. The “testimony” was often accompanied by sizable payments that equated to the wages the “testifier” could earn only after years and years of labor. (In any U.S. court, such testimony would simply be ruled defective.)

The men at Gitmo resist. They go on hunger strikes. For this, they are strapped to chairs and forcefed via gastric tube–a dangerous procedure when done by amateurs. There is precedent. The suffragettes got the same treatment.

Do the Gitmo prisoners blink out T-O-R-T-U-R-E? Who knows. Some bright lad at the Pentagon, who probably read about Denton at West Point realized that a total press blackout is the best way to go.

I wonder what Denton thought about what was going on at Gitmo? Perhaps he simply couldn’t look at it, as it would mean that his country had become just as bad as what he had been fighting all those years ago.

Guest Post: You can lead a horse’s ass to water …

… but you can’t make him think.

Alex the Tired here, and this one not only has me just shaking my head in amazement, it ties in beautifully with the recent discussion about the cost of college.

Today’s sad, sick laugh comes via the New York Times’ article about a Georgetown Law School graduate — I’m going to repeat that: a GEORGETOWN LAW SCHOOL GRADUATE — who is in a whole lot of trouble. Here’s the link. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/business/an-underling-among-the-officials-accused-of-fraud-at-dewey.html?hp&_r=0)

I am NOT a lawyer. Another thing I’m going to repeat — I am NOT a lawyer. But here’s some things to keep in mind.

1. The police can/will/do lie. They do it all the time. If the cops bring you in for questioning, you DO NOT talk to them. You demand a lawyer. And then you stop talking. And by that, I mean you go Tommy: deaf, dumb and blind. If they ask if you’d like water, you say nothing. If they ask if you’d like a blowjob, you say nothing. The only thing you say to a cop other then “I want a lawyer” is the thing you say BEFORE that: “Am I free to go?”

2. Many lawyers are like cops, but more predatory. Whereas a lot of cops are just high school thug-bullies who got older but never grew up (emotionally or intellectually), a whole lot of lawyers, especially prosecutors, grow intellectually (at least in the narrow venue of entrapping people) and shrink emotionally, until they become the person who sits at a desk and calculates how he can get you into prison. He isn’t interested in your personal struggles, he isn’t interested in whether you’re a good person, whether you have children, the morality of the law in question or anything else. He succeeds at his job by getting convictions. You jay walk and the cops slap you with jay walking, resisting arrest, creating a public nuisance, terrorism, and lefthandedness. The prosecutor will smile (just like a shark before it takes off your arm) and magnanimously offer to throw out four of the five charges, as long as you plead guilty to the jay walking without a trial. The Village Voice did an article about this sort of “justice” about a year ago. If you find a compassionate prosecutor, one who DOES evaluate each case, count yourself lucky.

3. Yes, there are good cops AND good lawyers. The time to have them is not AFTER you’ve signed a confession to the Oklahoma City bombings and six murders committed before you were born. More precisely, the time to know what to do if confronted by a cop is BEFORE you’re confronted by a cop. Google it. Lots of good sites out there. But you have to take the time to educate yourself about these things.

And that’s where we come in on the poor unfortunate Georgetown-educated lawyer who didn’t know he was being set up to be nailed to a cross. We have a graduate of one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, and, when asked to come in to answer a few questions, he committed a mistake that any law student should have seen. All that education, and he’s looking at a nice long stretch in the thug jug. Why? Because most education now does not require the student to think. And he got complacent. Oh, the predators will never turn on me. I’m one of them.

Right. Until the food runs low.

In one of my favorite television programs, one of the characters says something about how the radio signal they’re receiving could be a trap. The other character responds that if it is, it isn’t a very good trap, as they’re already suspicious. The first character replies (something like), “The question isn’t whether we’re suspicious. The question is whether we get caught.”

I don’t walk down alleys, I don’t listen to hard-luck stories on deserted streets, I don’t get drunk at bars. I avoid cops because I can never tell when one of them will clock me with a baton, shove a bag of cocaine down my shirt, and tell his partner to back him up on the statement about how I went nuts and attacked him.

Think I’m wrong? Ever been in a speed trap? You think the cops care about fair? Talk to all those people who were arrested at the RNC. The ones where the cops committed perjury. Go on. Name any cop who lost his job over that. I’m wait.

And while I wait, I must, in the utmost discretion, communicate with you on a matter requiring your assistance concerning the release of $$83 millions U.S. dollars, kind sir or kind madam.

Special Guest Blog (If It Works)

Alex_the_Tired here. Let’s see if the guest blogging thing is working.

Ted’s run into a little kerfuffle. I say “little kerfuffle” because I’m not the one being accused of being a racist sumbitch. What follows is me being just about as angry as I’m able to be on the printed page. I explain all that at the very end. So strap yourselves in.

Many of us have weighed in, and, earlier today, I was perusing the DK site, and I came across this turd. I reference it now because it, almost perfectly, ties in to something I was trying to express about three days ago.

Let me start with the title: “A short rant about the g*dd*mn cartoon, revisited”
That’s how it was typed at DK. “g*dd*mn”

One of the things I hated about the Harry Potter novels was how adults acted like scared little children quaking in their piss-soaked pants. What was the name for Voldemort? He had two: “You-Know-Who” and “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

Let me see if I have it right. You can freeze people in their tracks with a giant toothpick and some fake Latin, and you’re scared to actually NAME someone?

Seriously. I want you to think about that for a minute. I mean, literally, take 60 full seconds to contemplate how idiotically, superstitiously cowardly someone has to be, how fundamentally childish in nature a person must be to be afraid of actually using a name. Isn’t it simply a giant cop-out?

“Oh, but wait,” I hear someone’s adenoidal whine. “Maybe they don’t want to use the L-rd’s N-me in v-in.”

Cut. The. Crap. I have zero, nada, no patience for someone who (falsely) asserts to be an adult and clings to some delusional, partial set of religious fantasies. Unless you’re advocating slavery, selling your daughters as chattel, avoiding clothes made of two fibers, etc., knock off this fetish-sickness about how G-d is sacred. It’s embarrassing. It betrays a cowardly infantile mindset. You want to be a craven little tremblebucket? Fine. Stay out of the deep water then. The adults are talking; know your place. Don’t demand that I play by your lobotomized set of rules, don’t demand a seat at the table, and don’t insist that you be taken seriously.

Now, let’s move on to the body.

Pretty much the entire post consists of a faulty premise slathered heavily with the misdirection of “my pain.” Mixed in with it is the tried (and tired) and true gimmick of dehumanizing the other side:

“People lack the ability to understand. People can’t place themselves in others shoes. They just don’t know how… They lack the genes, or whatever it is that allows people to feel the pain of another. They don’t care. Caring means feeling, feeling means understanding, understanding means standing in someones shoes. It takes imagination.”

Who, exactly, zhenren, the fuck do you think you are? How DARE you assume that I lack empathy. How DARE you de-humanize me in such an arbitrary fashion.

“What is the deepest pain you’ve ever felt? Maybe some physical pain, some break up with a mate, the death of a loved one. Multiply it by a hundred, no, a thousand… torture, endless work, dying under a whip, a noose, the slave ships, the horrors, the domination, endless years of it. Fuck me, do I have to explain this? Fuck…”

Well, “Fuck…” me, zhenren, were you a slave? Then where, exactly, do you get off vomiting all this? You presume, you arrogant nothing, to equate a “break up with a mate” to being whipped and being chained in the hold of a slave ship? Good God Almighty. You are absolutely sickening in your trivialization of slavery. Just. Sickening.

“Dehumanizing a figure with the stature of Obama offends people.”

Stop talking for the whole human race. Obama has NO stature in my estimation. How can I say that? Simple: he’s blown up children. Dropped drone bombs on them that has turned them into bits of bloody hamburger. That’s indefensible. Period. Full stop. Either defend — and agree — with the murder of children or have the basic human decency to shut you flapping mouth.

“Can white people imagine what it means to millions of African Americans to have waited for eons for the moment, the goddamn miracle in white society that enslaved them, when a black person becomes the President? Can any non-black person conceive of this? Remember Jesse Jackson’s tears when Obama became the President?”

Eons? Look it up in the dictionary. One of the standards of oratory (and if you bothered to read the speeches of MLK or Malcolm X — those are two black dudes — you’d have known this) is that you do not exaggerate facts. Lincoln (who wasn’t black — at least as far as we know) started off with “Four score and seven years ago,” not “billions and billions.” As soon as you stray from fact, you open a gap in your credibility.

“It’s all about the people. Mutual aid. I’ve cried tonight.”

I’m sorry, zhenren, but if you cried, you need help. You need psychological counseling and perhaps a few prescriptions. I really, really mean that.

“I have learned that I wasn’t alone, that the depictions have caused far more hurt and gut wrenching pain than I had understood.”

Zhenren. You haven’t lived much of a life if a cartoon — and your flawed, childish, knee-jerk reaction to it — causes you wrenching pain. And that would be okay. But you’re encouraging others to come down to your hysterical level. The world has passed the point of having the luxury of falling out. (It’s a term used to describe an occurrence in some black church services; look it up.) We need people who don’t swoon. We need people who are tougher and more mature than you, Zhenren. People who are able to face the unsweetened reality and not flinch: the world is in terrible shape. We are heading toward the sixth major extinction event. The coastlines are going to disappear. Diseases that used to be treatable with antibiotics have developed resistance. Why? In no small part because, goodness me, some people are so emotionally delicate that they simply can’t cope with a cold and nagged their doctors for antibiotics, even though those pills wouldn’t work on viruses. And that’s the world you’re summoning. A world in which everyone overreacts, all the time. No one takes the long view, and everything goes straight to hell.

We have a partially black president who (off the top of my head):
Has gone after Edward Snowden for telling all of us how every goddamned thing we do online is being recorded.
Has let Chelsea Manning rot in prison for showing all of us how “our” troops laughed and joked about killing people who weren’t a threat.
Has left dozens and dozens of people — some of whom EVERYONE agrees are no threat — rot at Gitmo.
Shall I continue?

Obama isn’t Half-Black Jesus. Nor is he the anti-Christ. He’s a career politician, a constitutional lawyer who wiped his ass with the Bill of Rights because it allowed him to curry favor with the corporate power-elite. And if you, zhenren, are too damned stupid to realize that, well, as Peter, Paul and Mary put it: don’t criticize what you can’t understand.

And, of course, right toward the end of zhenren’s diawy, comes the whole “Oh, I’m a good, good person” bullshit: “Please understand I wrote the comment not to impugn or cast stones, but to express the deep anguish this issue has inflicted on many Daily Kos members, particularly members of the African American community.”

I am so very, very, very, very sick of people who wrap themselves in the cloak of “oh, I didn’t mean to smear this person with one of the worst possible slurs.” If you’re going to stick the knife in, z, have the decency to shove it in up to the hilt without making some coy, false apology. Look your victim in the eye before you take the cheap shot.

And, finally, zhenren’s “diary” ends with a photo of one of those idiotic, Benetton fashion model-quality children from The Hunger Games. The girl in question is holding up three fingers, in some sort of idiotic boy scout salute.

Zhenren. Really. You need to grow up. I don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl. If you’re a boy, try to force your testicles to drop. If you’re a girl, is it possible to achieve menarche as an act of will?

A girl with a bow and arrow in a movie? That’s not reality. To append it to a sewious gwown-up attempt at a diawy is just so wrong, in so many ways. It’s almost as bad as putting in a picture of unicorns crapping rainbows over Grimace (google it).

As I said, I’d explain my anger at the very end. Here it is:
Being called a racist is really about as bad as it gets. It’s like being called a pedophile. Once it’s hurled, it’s almost impossible to take it back. And in the infantile world of DK where everyone’s so busy crying tears of hot rage and sharing emotional catharsis 24/7, it’s pretty pointless trying to take it back, because most of the participants are already on to the next outrage.

I find it highly unsettling that this is, apparently, the current state of discourse in our political society. A bunch of people gathering for the electronic version of a circle jerk, egging each other on to line up to stone Ted Rall for drawing something like the 300th cartoon he’s done in a similar fashion. (Others have addressed this.) But none of these people (probably because they’re too busy doing Hunger Games cosplay) actually do the real work of evaluating Ted’s work as a whole.

I particularly find it disgusting because (when you aren’t iPhoning from slave-produced toys or drinking lattes at $5 a pop) the people making the complaints act like they’re the victim-class. Bull. Fucking. Shit.

Today on a TV screen, I saw a woman who works at McDonald’s who was on strike for a living wage. She looked like the tiredest person I’ve ever seen. Where the hell were you, zhenren? Lining up for a photo-op with Katniss Everdeen? Or were you too busy weeping bitter tears of hot anger (or whatever the hell nonsense you write to make yourself feel important) to actually help out the people who are getting reamed alive by the system Mr. Obama’s masters keep maintaining (and which he’s delighted to help out with)? Perhaps you were at WholeFoods buying organic bell peppers from New Zealand?

We don’t have the luxury of any more time for your stupidity zhenren. You need to start growing up. Right now. You and all your friends at DailyKos.

Special Guest Blog: Toward a New Definition of Poverty

Not a very long entry this time. A new thought came to me this morning. We’ve all been defining “poverty” incorrectly for a very long time. Poverty isn’t lack of money. Sure, that’s part of poverty, but it isn’t the whole thing.

Poverty is the lack of methods by which one can alter one’s society.

Three main methods for societal alteration exist:

1. Bribery (includes campaign contributions).
2. Violence.
3. Voting.

The rich use all three. The middle class uses #3 mostly, with some of #1 and a very little of #2. The poor use very little of all three: they don’t have any money, when they’re violent they’re processed into a system that renders them damaged for the rest of their lives, and they’ve given up on the premise of voting doing anything — a condition that the middle class is coming to believe more and more as well.

However, it is early morning, so I may be missing something. …

Special Guest Post: Where Is the Anger?

As reported at boston.com, the Boston Phoenix (the urge to add the adjective “venerable” is almost irresistible), is closing. I’ll leave it to Ted to post (if he wants) about the death of alt-media in the United States.

 

The thing I wanted to comment on is the hopeless passivity of the media. Joseph P. Kahn (as the Boston Globe is still owned by the New York Times, middle initials are required) writes a first sentence that makes me want to throw my computer against a wall: “In a poignant signal of a fast-changing media landscape, The Boston Phoenix sent out a short and simple tweet Thursday afternoon: ‘Thank you Boston. Good night and good luck.'”

 

Poignant? Fast-changing? Yes, absolutely. But could we stop channeling Counselor Troi? How about a little anger, a little rage, rage against the dying of the light? Nope, not in a Globe write-up! (I wonder how calm Mr. Kahn will be when the Globe disappears in a few more years. I suspect his level of calm will be directly proportional to how close he is, right now, to retirement and a Globe pension.)

 

Ten paragraphs in comes this, from staff writer Chris Faraone: “It’s sad, but also not. It’s not an anger thing. Everyone’s really proud. We went as hard as you could to the end.” Why isn’t it an anger thing? Why the hell is no one angry? You’re out of a job! And not just any crappy job. You were working for the Boston Phoenix. You were at an organization that pissed off politicians for decades! Just because you can’t point to anyone to blame doesn’t mean you can’t be angry. When did everyone turn into Kwai Chang Caine?

 

And then comes the most vile part of the whole thing: the “things-aren’t-so-bad” BS deluge.

 

Tiffany Shackelford, executive director of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia in Washington shows up in the story to comment that even though a “storied brand” like the Boston Phoenix is gone, the alternative news industry remains healthy.“Many of our papers are actually improving circulation,” she said. “This [closure] is not indicative of the larger health of the industry. I don’t think any of our other publications are in danger of closing.”Don’t worry, kids, it’s a small hole. And besides, the ship’s unsinkable.

 

I’m sure some good bands play up there, I’m sure some political scandal is about in crisp, wintery Portland. But it ain’t Boston. And when the alt-media is banished to the third-tier cities, how, exactly, will it be relevant? How, exactly, will the best talent move to larger alternative publications and break the bigger stories?

Special Guest Blog: George Carlin and Bill Hicks Were Right

Years back, George Carlin had a singularly perfect bit about “shell shock” becoming “battle fatigue” becoming “operational exhaustion” becoming “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Carlin was arguing a point that has been made multiple times: how you think affects what you think. That war is terrible and destroys the people it touches is morphed gradually into the standard operating procedure being that a wellness specialist provides positive incremental feedback to help you self-actualize a post-incident readjustment. (Translation: a handful of prescriptions and a psychologist will, somehow, magically make you okay with how you now have to learn to wipe your ass with the metal hooks that replaced your hands when they got blown off while you were fighting the war to make Dubya’s father’s friends even richer. And if you complain? You will be humored and taught/conditioned to not complain out loud. Why? Because complaining is what losers do. Complaining is what quitters do. And complaining is how every single revolution ever got started.)

Bill Hick, a comedian who died much too young, made a similar observation about how Debbie Gibson writes all her songs: “Yeah, she writes all her own songs about her own real life experiences. [W]hat’s the next one called? ‘Mom, why am I bleeding?’ When did we start listening to pre-pubescent white girls? […] We have at our fingertips the greatest minds of all time, the knowledge and history of the greatest thinkers of all fucking time, but no, what’s that little white girl saying? Let’s go put Debbie Gibson’s thoughts on compact disc so they’ll never be destroyed.”

I saw the Carlin-Hicks offspring last night (or the night before) in an ABC News item about the effect of the Sequester.

First, see how it’s called “the Sequester”? (Ted may have covered this already.) It’s a frickin’ budget cut. So why call it “the Sequester”? Because that sounds better. When someone says “sequester” you think of one of two things — a jury being put in a room to decide a legal case or carbon dioxide being pumped into the bottom of the ocean. Sequester carries a flavor of gravitas, of a rational, prudent step being taken to resolve something. Budget cut carries a flavor of failure. And this time, there’s enough blame to go around for everyone on all three sides (Rep., Dem., and Journ.). So everyone’s calling it Sequester.

Second, the ABC News piece shows the culmination of the Carlin-Hicks hypothesis. The piece had the cutesy widdle part about how pwecious middle schoolers weren’t able to go on tours of the White House because those tours were cancelled as part of the Sequester. And there were clips of the semi-articulate children reciting what they’d memorized ahead of time (see Debbie Gibson). They’d even made some adowable signs about how the “White House is our house.” (I guess the cards that read, “Mom, why am I bleeding?” and “Why am I getting hair in my armpits” weren’t ready.)

At one point, the reporter (Jonathan Karl, IIRC) mentioned that the film crew had just happened to run into John Boehner while they were filming a segment of the report, so they went to a film clip of Boehner mouthing some inanities. They “just happened” to run into him. So, were they originally going to air this report without ANY senior officials? Just gonna run with the kids, huh? That’s Carlin-Hicks for you.

Even though the ABC News piece actually criticized the president — they pointed out that he was going to a restaurant six blocks from the White House, which meant a full Secret Service contingent, which meant a big price tag — they sandwiched the criticism in cutesy, so it lost its impact. But that’s what the news does now. Lots of simpering and a slight trace of mirth in the voice at all times. (Sidebar: I propose a new drinking game: Every time Diane Sawyer seems mildly amused, take a drink. Every time she leans forward as if the teleprompter font is too small to make out, take a drink. You’ll want to switch arms every few seconds or one bicep will become noticeably larger than the other.)

But that’s how you do it: soften everything, make it all look rose-colored and moist-eyed and cute, and everything goes down nice and smooth. All that’s missing is a basket of puppies on the news desk while they read the 30 second report on drone attacks.

Special Guest Blog: Getting Our Bets Down

As we’re just coming into February, I think it’s still early enough in the year to get our bets down for the end of 2013.

Right now, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at just about 14,000. To the usual one-move level of analysis that most of the news programs and print publications display, this means something. Golly Gee, the economy recovered! Right? What’s that? The DJIA by itself is meaningless? It’s like telling a doctor someone’s height (but nothing else) and then expecting a diagnosis of the patient’s health?

But this is how the media works all the time. A quick snapshot of one or two aspects of a significant problem, a simper to the camera, a cutaway to a video of someone on a high school sports team scoring points in a remarkable way, and then roll the end credits.

So how about this year, we get a few bets down now for review on Dec. 31, 2013. Most of us who comment on this site love to put forward our opinions. So let’s get it all down in one spot. If anyone has any theories about what the state of any particular issue will be by year’s end, put it in the comments section. I’d love to see how well we all do.

For me, I’ll make a few guesses right off the top. The DJIA at year’s end will be around 12,400. The U-2 stat for unemployment will be around 6.1%. The U-6 stat for unemployment will be at about 20%. If anyone has any other stat they want to get in, just go ahead. If there’s enough interest in this, I’ll put it all together in a table.

Special Guest Blog

I am thinking of two things this morning.

First. I’m thinking I have to send a check for $25 to the EFF for Whimsical. Whim, if you’d please confirm that and provide the address so that I’m sure I’m sending it to the right place?

Second, I am thinking of a scene from the original Star Trek series. Spock discovers that his fiancée has been two-timing him, and he releases her from the obligation of their arranged marriage. He then turns to Stonn, the other man in the situation, and tells him that he may have her. Spock then points out, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting.”

All the results aren’t in yet; the New York Times site has something like 30 Electoral Votes unassigned, and the total number of Senate seats is at 97. The popular vote went 50% to Obama and 48% to Romney. A little Wikipedia checking shows that the Republican presidents (Nixon once, Reagan twice, GHW Bush once, Dubya once) have a better record of crossing the 50.0% line of the popular vote than do the Democrats. LBJ and Carter did it, but neither JFK (49.7%) nor Clinton (he won the plurality each time in a three-way race, but never a majority) managed it. Even in his first election, Barack Obama, a wildly popular figure that fired up the electoral base, beat the daylights out of John McCain but still only managed 52.9% of the popular vote. Compare that to LBJ’s and Nixon’s 60%+ popular votes.

And was then able to do practically nothing because (choose any or all):

We didn’t elect a king, he has to work within the system.
He’s playing the long game (aka 11-dimension chess).
You don’t understand, blowing up brown people half a world away, calling them terrorists, and double-secret classifying the whole thing is what a Democrat is supposed to do.
9/11.

The point of all this is that Obama has less of a mandate this time. By a lot. He had a lower percentage of the vote, and he got fewer votes as well. Last time, he got 69,456,897 to McCain’s 59,934,814. This time, Obama has gotten (so far) fewer votes than McCain got, 59,564,466 votes.

Ten million voters didn’t show up for Obama, and that is unique in modern American presidential elections. Two-termer Dubya gained 12 million votes in his second election. Clinton gained 3.4 million votes in his second election. Reagan gained 11 million votes in his second election. Obama LOST 10 million voters, a seventh of his base either switched, stayed home, or whatever.

Does anyone really think this term is going to be anything other than four years of gridlock?

Guest Blog Post

Among Mark Twain’s many famous quips is the one about how God made idiots first, for practice, before settling down to make school boards. I’m gonna add a follow-up: Then God thought a little more and realized that he could top even the idiocy of the school board, and He started whispered in the ears of the people running Occupy Wall Street.

Their latest idiocy? Well, like most idiocy, it is a remarkable blend of a good intention coupled to a good idea and implemented terribly. In this case, OWS has achieved near-perfection. Piping gasoline into fire hydrants, possibly, could outdo the level of through-and-through stupidity and naivete required to make a bigger disaster than this fiasco, but it would be a go-to-the-replay kind of thing to figure out exactly which was the dumber idea.

Here’s the rundown. Sunday’s New York Times made mention of a website — Occupy the Boardroom — created by some of the OWSers so that people could write letters “to executives and directors of banks. The site’s developers promised to deliver them as e-mail and in person.” The site, so says the Times, got over 8,000 letters.

Now, that’s a pretty good idea. Humanize the destruction. This has been done with great success in the past in all manner of atrocities. But the OWSers made two mistakes:

1. The bankers don’t care. The bankers, who flew in their private jets to Congressional hearings (which have not resulting in prison sentences for anyone, as far I can tell), do not care if you live or die. If you starve to death, if your lifespan is shortened due to stress and lack of access to healthcare, if you get your skull cracked open by a policeman’s baton, they don’t care. How anyone can believe anything other than that is not only unbelievable, it ought to be used as prima facie evidence to have that person declared mentally incompetent. The bankers are not going to read through a bunch of e-mails, sit back, say to themselves, “Wow! My unbridled greed really ruined good, decent, hard-working people’s lives.” The bankers not only don’t care, the bankers get a kind of charge out of knowing what they got away with. “I screwed these people’s lives over completely, and they’re sending me a bunch of strongly worded letters? Ha ha ha. Let me wipe my ass with one of those letters. Throw the rest away. E-mails? Delete ’em. You think I read e-mails from anyone other than shareholders?”

2. When you go to the Occupy the Boardroom site, you find this at the bottom: “We have detailed contact information for every executive on this website. We would LOVE to share all of it with you. Sadly, there is a law called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Due to an interpretation of that law, we could be subjected to 10-20 year prison sentences for sharing the information. If you think that’s as unfair as we do, we suggest you contact every single member of a group whose addresses we CAN share, Congress.”

Do you know what the bankers are actually scared of? That the 99% will finally wake up, organize effectively, and jam a broom handle into the system so effectively that the police and government will HAVE to put the bankers on trial and freeze their assets. But a group of protesters whose big strategy consists of a bold, strident assertion of how the system is corrupt, followed by a milquetoast “interpretation” and “could be subjected” explanation of how those organizers are scared of what the system will do to them if they break the rules? No one in a position of power is afraid of that because there’s nothing to be afraid of. We’re right back in the playground where the kid who likes to punch smiles because he knows that no one will stand up to him, and those few who come close will just make mild little noises of protest that won’t change anything.

The OWS mentality reminds me of a particular piece of advice that I’ve been told phone company linemen used to get as part of their training back in the 1970s. When you’re up on a wooden phone pole, if you slip, your instinctive reaction is to try to grab hold of the pole. By the time you realize you’re falling though, you’ve already achieved too much speed to be able to stop yourself that way. Grabbing the pole in that situation would be identical to pressing your chest and arms against the world’s largest cheese grater. The splintery wood on the outside of the phone poll would simply rip through your shirt and skin, and you’d arrive at the bottom of the poll as a bloody mess with a big smear of blood and tissue marking the trail you took down. When you start to slip, so went the advice, you have to accept that you are already committed and hope that the two broken legs you’ll be getting when you hit the sidewalk will teach you to be more careful next time.

That’s the lesson the OWSers still haven’t grasped. They think there’s a painless, bloodless way out of this for them. Sure, for a very small number of the 99% there is. But for many of the 99%, they’re already in freefall but still think that, somehow, their legs aren’t going to shatter when they hit the concrete.

You can’t try to change the system while you continue to empower it by using the smart phones, the credit cards, the Facebook accounts, the Twitter posts, and all the rest. You don’t get to have so many amusements and distractions and an “oh, we’re serious, but, golly, we don’t want to give up our shiny little toys and we don’t want to suffer” mentality AND get to win.

Look at the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It took over a year. And why did the bus company cave in? Because the 1% only took 1% of the seats and only paid 1% of the fares. The blacks were the essential lifeblood of the bus line economy. If OWS wants to win, they need to start organizing and start applying economic pressure, just like was done back in the 1950s. Enough with the theatrics. Yes, a flair for the dramatic helps, but it’s window dressing. Enough with trying to shame the bankers. Either figure out what you’re doing or quit your bitching. Enough with these pointless, idiotic, quixotic tantrums.