Daily Puking Points

Talking points are not enough at this time.  Words have been reduced to funny sounds, signifying whatever the spin doctors say they now signify, regardless of whatever they may have meant five seconds ago. What we need now are good puking points.  Here  are a couple of quick ones, from American hero Amy Goodman.  

I can hear the clucking, so what if 198,000,000 information-rich American voter profiles were placed on-line for weeks by the Republican National Committee’s voting analytics data mining branch, Deep Root Analytics?  So what?  James “Toxic Turd” Mitchell and Bruce “Dickface” Jessen, psychologists paid tens of millions by Cheney and Bush to design the American torture program?  Ancient history, so what?  The U.S. appears to be currently participating in, or at least complicit in, the interrogation and torture of  detainees in Yemen today?  So what?  If it’s even true, the president is only keeping a campaign promise to do a lot worse than water-boarding.  They fucking hate our freedom.  What should we do, tickle ’em?

Ah say, Ah say, boy


My apologies for all this political “poop” lately

I am truly sorry to be as distracted as everyone I know by the political rumblings from the bowels of a powerful, highly successful reality TV brand (and, of course, the legislators who ride his gassy underbelly like suckers on a giant shark).  A U.S. fighter jet shot down a weaponized drone, made in Iran, over the skies of Syria.  A cop who shot a burst of bullets into a car, killing a man reaching for the driver’s license the cop demanded, was acquitted of all charges by a jury who presumably saw this video.   The Republican Senate has vowed to pass a secret replacement for IllegitimateMuslimPresidentcare before they go home to celebrate the Independence Day Recess.   The worst of the worst are doubling down, the intellectuals among them, in moments of candor, citing opinionated anti-Communist Ayn Rand as the philosophical foundation for their anti-human beliefs.  Fucking freedom is on the march.

Amy Goodman discusses the media silence on the Republican scheme to replace the Affordable Care Act with a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans.  She speaks with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who has deemed the media’s focus on Russian involvement in the 2016 election (with scant coverage of the rest of the Republican’s ‘toxic agenda’)  “media malpractice.”      The brutal, anti-democratic tactics of politicians like McConnell get buried in the news, if mentioned at all.  Democrats, unfortunately also bought and paid for, are not making effective noise to oppose the Secret Tax/Health Bill.   They continue to rely on and speak facts, while their political opponents continue to scream bloody murder and set their base into a rage.  Guess which tactic works better here in America?

Once again, we have to turn to a comedian to get the condensed, truthful story.  Go, Trevor.  He points out how well Republican lies about Death Panels and other completely fabricated details of the hated Obama’s proposed health care law played during the long, vicious debate over extending health insurance to some of the many millions of Americans who had no access to health insurance. Their arguably unprincipled opposition resulted in many amendments to the law they claim was shoved down their throats in a partisan Congress.

While making America Great Again, why not restore that boon to our great American healthcare industry known as the preexisting condition?  Only sick bastards could object to that one.   Submit to whatever it is.  You have no choice anyway, consumers.  Submission is God’s will.   Have a blessed day!

McConnell’s Secret Kick in the Diaper

As despicable as steely-eyed, chinless tortoise Mitch McConnell is, there’s a certain sly irony in him protecting the murderous Trumpcare bill from public scrutiny as zealously as the president he hated and vowed to thwart hid legislation he knew was shameful.  If the public knew the details of this “health care bill” giveaway to the richest at the expense of everybody else there would be massive outrage– supporters of the bill would be primaried and run out of office.    So they do it the principled way that unpopular, troubling laws are always done, in secret.

The shameless McConnell and his ilk keep the details of this punitive (except to the richest among us) proposed American Health Care Law secret while trying to ram the exceedingly ugly bill through in the darkness of night for the president to sign.  Not so different than the way  President Transparency proceeded with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) flimflam, though, since McConnell and Ryan are playing directly with the daily life and death of millions of citizens, the stakes are even higher.  The result is likely to be serious as preexisting cancer.  

Obama knew there were enough corporate giveaways in the TPP to outrage millions, so he made sure there was less than full transparency about the details.  To be a bit more transparent, Obama made sure there was no transparency or public debate whatsoever prior to his fast track up or down vote.  

McConnell is a corrupt, despicable, hypocritical villain with testicles larger than his head, but Obama doesn’t get a pass from me because he was a great comedian who spoke beautifully, and proudly wore a blue hat, but did the same sickeningly anti-democratic thing whenever circumstances “demanded” it.  

I’ll always hold those drones against him, the ones we know about that killed completely innocent people in the name of the War On Terror.   The missile that killed Mamana Bibi the 67 year-old midwife, and the one that killed innocent 16 year-old American citizen Abdulrahim, a kid who liked hiphop and had not even a suggestion of a capital charge against him.  Obliterated, along with countless other innocents, by the complicated, supremely practical Nobel Peace Prize laureate.   One more reason to keep policies like this as secret as possible, a reasonable politician reasons, reasonably.

That said, these guys in there now, determined to strike down every bit of the legacy of the Negro Democrat they were united in hatred of, are probably the worst guys we’ve ever had in charge of everything.

The Free Market

When politicians talk about our Free Market, many of us realize it is a variation on a glittering phrase like “Freedom is On The March”, spoken over the burnt corpses of those we liberated from a modern-day Hitler while making half of the survivors stateless refugees and leaving the rest in a permanent killing zone.   The Free Market sounds like a great place.  In theory, it’s wonderful.   There is free and sportsmanlike competition, on an even playing field, where the best product, sold for the best price, sets the pace for the race to give people the best of everything at the most affordable price.  Like the best health care in the world, available here in America, to those who can afford it.   Like a delicious and filling meal containing several times the daily sodium, sugar and fat recommended for health, for under $5.   That’s the magic of the Free Market.  How can you beat that?

The “Free Market” is very much like the red and blue fucking baseball hats and the loyal, uncritical thinkers who wear them.   There was a critique of Hillary’s campaign– her message didn’t fit on a baseball hat.   Trump had a great, if ambiguous to the point of sinister, motto: Make America Great Again.  Sekhnet snapped a great shot of a smiling older man at an anti-Trump rally wearing a red Make America Hate Again baseball hat.  Closer to the mark than Trumpie’s motto, but still — just a gotcha.  Sticks and stones can break my bones, but political mantras can never hurt me.  Unless, perhaps, I look like a Muslim to a group of angry guys in red hats.

I’m reminded of this “invisible hand of the Free Market” bullshit, demonstrably stinking bullshit at that, by the pills I receive in the mail from an outfit that mails out my prescription drugs.  One pill is to keep my blood pressure under control, a Herculean task these days.  The other is a statin, because my kidney disease has caused my cholesterol to spike.   Here is a photo of the two pills, greatly magnified, to show one of the tiny wonders of the Free Market.


This is an example of the Free Market being free.  You see, these wonder drugs were originally developed by big pharmaceutical companies at the cost of many millions of dollars.   Then, after a certain term as a patent protected drug, to pay back the cost of development with a handsome profit as a reward, the drug was allowed to be produced as a “generic”.   Same chemical composition, a fraction of the price.  I get the generic Avapro and the generic Lipitor.  My mother always said, of the latter, “I luuuuuuhv Lipitor.”  She did, apparently.

Luckily for me, I have a magnifier app on my new brilliant phone.  It allows me, when studying a pile of these pills, to separate the 329s from the 10s.   As I do this I wonder how intolerable to the Free Market the government intrusion would be if they mandated “red for blood pressure drugs, green for statins” to the manufacturers of generic drugs taken by tens of millions of Americans.  I know, I know, it stinks of state-controlled Communism.    Seriously, I don’t fucking get it.   Is America really that fucked up?   Are we really this fucking stupid?

I get that Obama had to please those who put him in office, that he was constrained and coerced left and right.  Mostly right, in fact, but also left.  Money, it is said, has no political allegiance, although recent American history may argue that point.  It’s not like anyone with a brain said money has no political allegiance, money said it.  Yes, money talks.  Of course it does.  It told Obama that his signature health insurance plan could not overturn some very, very lucrative practices fundamental to the American Free Market.  Those hungry foxes?  They are the best and most experienced guardians of the hen house.  

Look how well it worked having Goldman Sachs guys in charge of economic recovery from the massive financial fraud they profited from, an intricate scheme of deliberate deception that would have embarrassed Bernie Madoff, and almost sank the boat in 2008.  These experienced foxes know exactly how many hens they need to eat, let them do what they do best.  Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the continued unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Americans a year.   Those dead Americans are patriots, in a way, dying for the Free Market we all love and defend to the death.  Those preventable American deaths are the price the rest of us pay to live in a Free Market, and don’t you ever forget that.

I’m harsh on Obama because I actually believed the poetry he recited while campaigning.    Sad to say, my man was mostly saying whatever he needed to say to get into power, like they all do.  Sad to say, the alternative, both times, was seemingly much worse.  Now we’ve got a wobbly, over-confident scary clown for a commander-in-chief, thanks in part to my man Barack “Raking in Some Serious Tubmans” Obama.  People can only hear so much polished, meaningless bullshit coming from a bullshit artist, even a genius of the art, before they shut down.  

You like the Free Market so much?   Let the private health insurance industry compete with Medicare for all.  Let the best entity win, as it is written by the invisible hand of the Free Market.  “That was never in the cards,” say those in blue hats who still believe Obama had no choice.   Tacitly, they add with a silent sigh “super lucrative business interests and very well-paid, in-the-loop, revolving-door lobbyists are too powerful here in the Free Market to allow that massive incursion into their market share.  No matter how much better virtually everyone agrees a public option would be.”

Amy Goodman:

(After writing that meteorologists need to constantly explain that the latest catastrophic climate event is related to the pattern of increasingly disastrous global climate change)

How else will people understand the connection between disparate weather events, from dust-bowl conditions in the Midwest, to epic wildfires in the Northwest, and record-breaking cold in the Northeast?  Scientists tell us that climate change played a role in at least half the droughts, floods and storms in 2014.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), on its global climate change website, states that “multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.  In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” In Europe and other parts of the world there are debates on what to do about climate change.  But in the United States, we have debates on whether it exists at all, or if humans have contributed to it.   It’s as if every time we talked about the earth being round, we interviewed a member of the Flat Earth Society for “balance”.  (Democracy Now! p. 213)

The idiotic American debate on whether climate change even exists has been underwritten, at a cost of billions over several decades, by the industries that profit the most from the ultimate destruction of life on the planet.   Those industries are simply too lucrative, and too powerful, to let themselves wither and die just because the earth is being destroyed by the fossil products they extract and refine. 

The Secretary of State we have now knows this better than anybody, he was until recently the CEO of Exxon.  Exxon’s scientists were among the first to discover, in the 1970s,  the connection between burning fossil fuel, increased CO2 in the atmosphere and rising global temperatures.  The corporation published these findings, then spent the next few decades funding studies that would obfuscate those findings, cast them into doubt, create a debate between Alarmists and Skeptics.  Who are you going to believe, a hysterical Alarmist or a cool, calm skeptic?  Let the debate continue.  Meanwhile, CAH-ching!  Fossil fuel.  Good to the last drop.

What is the lesson of all this brouhaha over global warming for a leading voice of the Flat Earth Society, former loudest, unrepentant “Birther” voice?  Simple. Shut down NASA’s fucking website.  DUH!

Free Market, baby.  Like Justice, you get all the Freedom you can afford to pay for.  If you are poor, you know, you can’t afford much of either.  Probably best to shut the fuck up and keep your head down while the best and the brightest Make America Great Again.  Freedom, as always, is on the march, taking flight in the skies over your hovel.   Ask any ten year-old in Mosul, Waziristan or Raqqa. 

Taking notes from a friend

One of my oldest friends, an indispensable one, took a moment to tell me he liked the improvised intro I wrote yesterday for the anaconda of a ms. I am wrestling with.   It was good, he wrote:

until you began to spit at the ones who will …what did you call it… “pony up”…..cooperating while not being disgusted is not an impossible goal. especially now that you have the wind at your back.

I took his notes to heart and took the lever to a few descriptions in the objectionable paragraph.  You can be the judge of whether, with the revisions, I’ve succeeded in not spitting at the corporate fucks whose smug faces I originally took careless aim at (oops, sorry about your Jerry Garcia tie, man). The revised version is immediately below.   The original graf my friend commented on is below that, for comparison.


Beyond that, of course, the challenge is to turn the story into a winning book proposal, something to convince a corporate type to give an unknown sixty-one year old author an advance to finish writing the book.  I know, I know, with that attitude what self-respecting corporate shill is going to pony up anything for my book?  I know.   My biggest challenge, outside of learning how to charm this indispensable type, will be to write the blurb, a 30 word masterpiece of copywriting that will sell the ambitious book I have been wrestling with for a year and a half now.  Or at least get me into the decider’s office.

original (and extra crispy) version:

Beyond that, of course, the challenge is to turn the story into a winning book proposal, something to convince a corporate fuck I wouldn’t so much as shit on to give an unknown sixty-one year old author an advance to finish writing the book.  I know, I know, with that attitude what self-respecting corporate cocksucker is going to pony up anything for my book?  I know.   My biggest challenge, outside of learning how to charm this (I forget how I originally referred to the despicable sell-out), will be to write the blurb, a 30 word masterpiece of copywriting that will sell the ambitious book I have been wrestling with for a year and a half now.  Or at least get me into the piece of shit’s office.

NOTE:  Of course, neither version of the paragraph would go in the actual intro to a published book.  The challenge it mentions would have already been surmounted and only a petty and self-destructive baby would seek to make mention of it in the actual published book the reader is holding in her hands.  In its place I’d have a nod of thanks to the corporate cocksuckers who showed confidence in the marketability of my work, gave me the generous payment and put the thing out for public consumption.  I would, of course, call them neither corporate nor cocksuckers in that grateful nod.

That said, I don’t think the paragraph suffers at all from the revisions.  Then again, I’m not a supremely over-sensitive fucking corporate shill… Reading them over now side by side, I don’t know.  The rewrite seems to lack a bit of integrity, somehow.  What do YOO think?

Excellent Advice on what to ask

My friend (actual friend, as opposed to FezBook friend), posted this on the old purveyor of fake news and supremely targeted self-selected demographics.

How much better would the world be if we all learned to ask these five questions regularly?

Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 1.35.52 AM.png

Book of Irv– improvised intro

Let’s get one thing straight before we begin — my father, the protagonist of the book you are about to read, was a horses’ ass.  He referred to himself as a horse’s ass on two separate occasions during his last conversation, in the early morning hours of the last day of his life.  

There are other phrases that are perhaps more descriptive, and I’d literally never heard him use “horse’s ass” before in any context, but that phrase will do as well as any other, to set the stage.  Horse’s ass it is, the man was a horse’s ass. 

I know that’s a judgmental and simplistic thing to say about your father, and a slightly self-hating thing for the old man to say about himself, but it is not inaccurate.   In the context of that final conversation it was fitting.  He was trying to explain why he’d been so rigid, and angry, and abusive.   He was seeking understanding and forgiveness for the damage he’d done to his nearest and dearest.  It was part of his attempt to make sense of things that made no sense, including his fatal condition, first diagnosed in an ER six days before he died.  

Fatal conditions make no sense, whether we get the diagnosis six days, six months or six years before the fact.   My father was at a psychological disadvantage, getting the deadly news only a few days before his kidneys shut down. From his deathbed in the hospital he asked the doctor if there were any restrictions on what he could eat.  The doctor smiled and told him to eat whatever he wanted, if he felt like having a fatty pastrami sandwich, he should have no hesitation to order one.   These small mercies were the best he was going to get at that point.  He had no appetite in any case, a tube draining ugly looking fluid from his abdomen into a bulging bag at the side of his hospital bed.    

Irv was this guy in his final hours, realizing too late that his life was over, understanding too late how he should have tried to live, instead of being the monster he often was.  Irv was the guy who, on his deathbed, bonded instantly with a nurse who grasped his sense of humor and dignity and was moved by it. He was also the nineteen year-old Irv, bravely smiling in an oversized army hat in the official portrait he sent back to his parents in late 1942 and signed “Love, Sonny.”   He was also a politically progressive hip-talking devotee of Lenny Bruce who could crack up a room full of smart people with his off-the cuff improvisations.   It is fitting that I’m improvising this now, because that was an art my father practiced all the time I knew him.  He was a lover of animals, a despiser of injustice, a fighter for the underdog.  He was the eight year-old with the bad haircut and a smile like Moe from the Three Stooges, squatting down for the camera, his arms around his little brother and another kid.  He was an idealist with a boundless interest in history and politics.  He was also a horse’s ass.

Reducing a person to the sum of their faults is a mean and stupid thing to do.  It was one of Irv’s specialities, but one I have tried never to adopt.  The world is not black and white, nor are any of us that way.   We all may cross a line from time to time, a line there is often no recrossing, but none of us are consistently one thing or another, of course, except for guys like Dick Cheney.  

Even Dick Cheney, I suspect, is capable of feeling some version of love or empathy, even if he has the discipline never to act on those kinds of feelings.   I don’t mean to mention Cheney in an introduction to my father, it just seemed preferable to pulling out the all-purpose rubber crutch of Hitler.   You will hear too many references in the coming pages to the New York Times’ fucking Mr. Hitler as it is, what with Hitler’s forces overseeing the murder of virtually everybody on both sides of my family.  Enough about that fuck, and Cheney too.

I spent more than a year writing down everything I could remember about my father.   At a certain point early on his voice popped up, a bit indignant, to contest something I’d written about him.   The skeleton of my father, I wrote, sat up in his grave to argue me out of something I was writing about him.   I let him speak his mind.  He was opinionated, I found, even in death.   I went with the chat with my dead father that first day, reasoning that I could always cut the hokey device in the editing room.  

Then the skeleton was back a few days later.  His voice seemed important to telling his own story.  I thought he had a right to participate in the only biography that would ever be written of this brilliant but unknown man.  More than that, I found I enjoyed talking with him, looked forward to it as I fired up the computer to write.  The skeleton even had a surprise for me now and then.   We had many of the talks he would have enjoyed while he was alive, had he been capable of having them.   He was an excellent conversationalist, even if virtually all of the more meaningful talks he and I had were adversarial in nature.  

He tried to convince me, for example, for more than forty years, that I’d been an angry and viciously prosecutorial baby from day one, had stared at him accusingly from the crib, with my big, black, accusatory eyes.   I tried to convince him of the insanity of that position, which only made him more determined to prove to me that our antagonism was all my doing.  On his deathbed he took pains to let me know he understood he’d been wrong to keep doing that year after year after year.  He added, touchingly, that he’d been aware of my many attempts over the years to reach out to him and that he deeply regretted he’d been too fucked up to reach back.

I bear the poor fucker no malice, truly.  You will see in these pages the man, as three-dimensionally as I can flesh him out, and hear his voice spoken by the introspective, fairly laid back skeleton he is today.   Creating a realistic, living portrait of my father and the times he lived through, the dilemmas he faced, the contradictions his life posed– these are my goals in writing this manuscript. Now my challenge is to rake through more than 875 pages of manuscript and find the 400 or so to polish into a compelling, page-turning second draft.  

Beyond that, of course, the challenge is to turn the story into a winning book proposal, something to convince a corporate type to give an unknown sixty-one year old author an advance to finish writing the book.  I know, I know, with that attitude what self-respecting corporate shill is going to pony up anything for my book?  I know.   My biggest challenge, outside of learning how to charm this indispensable type, will be to write the blurb, a 30 word masterpiece of copywriting that will sell the ambitious book I have been wrestling with for a year and a half now.  Or at least get me into the decider’s office.

Fortunately for me, I now have the wind at my back.  The wind, unfortunately for me, is the diagnosis of an eventually fatal disease, though it can often be cured, if not by a regime of IV steroids and immuno-suppressive drugs then with a kidney transplant.   Of course, there is also dialysis.   The point is, I have enhanced motivation to finish the book, is all I’m saying.   I feel like I have several more books in me after this one and I’d like to get on with it.  Plus, I need a job and I want to be a paperback writer, and so on.  

As every jazz musician knows, as any marginally capable wanker with a Telecaster who has ever riffed over a ii-V vamp knows, you can’t really play a wrong note.  I mean, obviously you can, you can play a note that is jarringly anharmonic.  The point is, with the right adroitness of spirit you can use that wrong note to improvise something interesting sometimes, even if the note itself is wrong.  

I love that moment of grace, when, with ineffable nonchalance, the misplayed note becomes an inspiration for a totally new idea.   That moment is also my hope, and on one level something I learned from my father, along with many other invaluable lessons, even if the long course of study was not always without a terrible cost.