Don't Piss In My Pocket And Tell Me It's Raining


(Burning the Emperor's New Clothes)Non-Aligned Political ThoughtPolitical IncorrectnessRabid assaults on hypocrisy and mediocrity, no matter who it annoys...


  • The Minefield of Abortion

    The Minefield of Abortion


    I waded into a discussion on abortion on Facebook and got slammed. I was called a ‘republican troll’ a misogynist, a Neanderthal, and worse. What was my sin? Was I promoting abortion’s abolition? Was I spouting pseudo-scientific apocrypha that women who are raped secrete a special chemical that prevents pregnancy? No, I was speaking honestly about my unease with late-term abortions. Between thrown insults, one young woman said: my decision whether and when to have an abortion is between me and my doctor, period. It is not society’s business. I will fight to the death to keep that right unabridged. I asked: what if you decided to have an abortion on the date you were due? Would that be OK? I was accused of hyperbole, and of course, I was speaking hyperbolically, to make the point: there is not some magical ‘state change’ that takes place between a baby about to be delivered and one already born, so… when does that change take place, and why are abortion rights advocates so reluctant to define that line? I was

  • Band Aids for Machine Gun Wounds

    Band Aids for Machine Gun Wounds


    Band Aids for Machine Gun Wounds There has been widespread outrage in response to a video showing US Marines urinating on the corpses of their dead Taliban adversaries. I’m not sure how much of the indignation is genuine and how much is pro-forma, but it’s all hypocrisy. Don’t misunderstand: I do not find the desecration of the dead to be a trivial affair. I just feel the irony of the canard that war can be inherently civilized to be nauseating. I could point out that the Taliban, who were among those outraged, have engaged in beheadings, torture, and other appalling acts – but that would mean that I’m justifying this behavior by comparing it to our enemy’s – a moral dead end if there ever was one. I am not justifying this behavior; I am attempting to put it into perspective. The sad, shameful truth is, American military and intelligence personnel have not only practiced torture, but our government has actually taught it to generations of Latin American military men at the infamous ‘School of the Americas

  • This is What a Police State Looks Like

    This is What a Police State Looks Like


    This is what a police state looks like.I am mad as hell. The images of police brutalizing peaceful demonstrators with batons, concussion grenades, teargas, and pepper spray has engendered an all-consuming rage within me. I detest bullies. I detest brutality. I detest the complacency that most Americans seem to feel when someone with whom they disagree with politically is deprived of their constitutional rights. For many, it goes beyond complacency – many actually approve of the brutalization and censorship of those of a different political persuasion. They seem to forget, or perhaps never knew, what America is supposed to stand for. But more than anything, I detest hypocrisy. I see tent cities on street corners for the consumer High Mass that is Black Friday tacitly supported by local authorities while the tents, books, and medical supplies of those who believe that the guilty who crashed the world economy should pay for their crimes, are torn up and thrown into dumpsters. I hear no soaring outrage from our p

  • 9-11, ten Years On

    9-11, ten Years On


    The tenth anniversary of 9-11 passed, and again I mourned. I mourned the thousands killed in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington that day, but I mourned for much, much more.I mourned the thousands of American and allied troops who’ve paid with their lives, fighting not to make America more safe, certainly not more free, but to secure Western hegemony.I mourned the hundreds of thousands innocent men, women and children who’ve been left homeless and destitute, been tortured, terrified, traumatized, bombed, shot and killed in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq since 9-11.Rational people recoil in horror when shopkeepers on the West Bank hand out sweets after terrorist bombings. And the joy in the camps of Al Queda after every successful bloodletting is equally abhorrent. Yet there were all night kegger parties when Osama Bin Laden was killed. A loud, vile, xenophobic, and implicitly racist joy was voiced by many Americans, and the final irony came to pass: We were acting just like our enemies; an apparently unarme

  • Noble Savage

    Noble Savage


    Recently I attended a very touching world-prayer service at a church in Woodstock. Representatives of all of the major faiths spoke and prayed. Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Native Americans prayed together for peace, and for the healing of the earth, especially the Gulf of Mexico.I was very touched by the earnest and forthright prayers from all of those present, but one presentation, though equally well intentioned, stuck in my craw nonetheless.A women who is actually from England but part of a local Native American community got up to speak. The first thing she said was that indigenous peoples the world over have always had reverence for the environment and for human dignity. This is a patently absurd statement. Entire indigenous cultures have imploded due to overuse and misuse of resources. And, of course, there is the egregious example of the Northwest American tribes Potlatch ceremonies. These ceremonies sometimes devolved from simple giving away of goods and food (and, I might add, slaves)

  • Monsanto Is Satan (Part 1 of a 10,000 part series...)

    Monsanto Is Satan (Part 1 of a 10,000 part series...)


    High on my special list of pathologically destructive corporations is Monsanto. Though their sins are legion, I’m going to focus on perhaps their most evil activity of all – their attempt to control virtually all farmers and all crop seeds, and to force those same farmers to use their genetically altered crops and toxic agri-chemicals.Although this is hard to believe, farmers have been successfully sued by Monsanto when Monsanto’s genetically-modified soybean and canola plants have shown up in their fields, carried there by birds and the wind. One Canadian farmer, who had been selectively breeding his own canola plants with his wife for decades, was sued when some of these Monsanto plants were found growing in a ditch alongside his property. This is where the entire affair, which is not unique to this one farmer, becomes positively Kafkaesque. Monsanto contended that this man had essentially stolen their seeds. They asked the court to levy a hefty fine, take all of the profits from his current canola crop, an

  • Imagine



    Writing commentaries has turned me into a sort of semi-professional curmudgeon. It's pretty easy too, since the world does indeed appear to be going to hell in a handbasket. Nonetheless, it's getting to be a drag. So, I'm going to try something new today. I'm going to try imagining a better future for America, and, by extension, the world.True, in imagining what could be, I will once more be underscoring how far we are from such lovely dreams. Envisioning a better future can't help but evoke a certain amount of dismay about the present. But I'm going to try anyway, because you cannot get a better future without dreaming of it. The dream, the visualization, is what engenders change. We've seen this over and over again, from Gandhi to Mandela.So:Imagine if the two billion dollars a week America is spending on the war in Afghanistan were being spent to build hospitals here at home. Or schools. Or high speed rail, light rail, bridges, tunnels. Imagine if 10 percent of what America spends on the military was spent

  • Sunlight



    Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It’s a cliché, because it’s true. The massive trove of hidden data about American foreign policy that has been coming out in bunches from WikiLeaks over the last year is one huge application of disinfectant, a vast searing beam spotlighting American cynicism, malfeasance, murder, manipulation and mayhem, once again demolishing our self-righteous stand as a beacon the world over for justice, liberty, and democracy.America has sold itself so thoroughly on its fictional status as world liberator, both at home and abroad, that it wasn’t really until Vietnam, that an appreciable number of Americans and others alike began to really understand that, far from being a force for liberation and the full flowering of human potential, America has more often than not merely been another empire, coldly, calculatingly intent on extracting as much natural and human capital as possible. But despite the pernicious reality, the fantasy America has created in order to inspire young men to be ca

  • Drill, Obama, Drill!

    Drill, Obama, Drill!


    Obama just gets worse and worse. It’s hard for me to believe, but now our president is apparently coming out in support of fracking, the natural gas extraction technology that pollutes the air with volatile organic compounds, and ground water and aquifers with neurotoxins and carcinogens, wastes prodigious amounts of fresh water, and produces noise pollution so violent, it has caused broken eardrums among those living near fracking drill sites.This is a palpably ironic state of affairs. First, much to my incredulous dismay, our president came out for expanding off-shore drilling, right before the BP gulf oil disaster. Then he reversed course and imposed a moratorium on all deep-water drilling, saying we needed to know the causes of the accident to assure ourselves it wouldn’t be repeated. Subsequent political pressure and judicial rulings forced him to drop the moratorium, which made little sense anyway: Deep water isn’t the issue, drilling is; The largest oil spill in the Gulf prior to the BP spill, the Ixto

  • The Training of Sheep

    The Training of Sheep


    When I travel by air, I politely endure the TSA security checks. But I’m not willing to give up my civil rights because of fear of terrorism. As Ben Franklin said, those who would sacrifice liberty for security, deserve neither. What’s going on at airports around the country is starting a groundswell of outrage.Consider the following:An eight year old boy is partially strip-searched in public.A man with bladder cancer, who went out of his way to tell TSA officers that his urine bag and hoses might look suspicious, is strip-searched anyway, so roughly that despite his pleas that they take care, the TSA personnel rupture the seal on his apparatus and leave him drenched in urine and humiliated. The agents not only fail to apologize, but refuse to offer him help in any way.A man carrying $4700.00 in cash is abusively and coercively questioned by TSA personnel who are apparently infuriated that he is asserting his right to due process.If you refuse to enter a full-body scanner, and you might because the radiation

  • Big Government: Boogieman

    Big Government: Boogieman


    Big government is the new boogieman. Or should I say the old one. Ronald Reagan famously said that government is the problem, and this simplistic statement has found resonance with generations of conservatives, from the greedy elites, who adore the fallacies of trickle-down economics, to the angry populists of the tea party movement.When it comes to the tea partiers, their new-found hysteria over deficits underscores how well they’ve been manipulated by the likes of Beck and Hannity, because during Bush’s 8 years, while deficit spending soared, not least because of unprecedented tax breaks for the super rich that yielded little for the middle class, the tea partiers, the pundits, and the Republican congressmen and senators who now loudly decry Obama’s deficit spending were all curiously silent. In fact, those elected officials were actually complicit, voting for drug bills, increased privatization, boondoggle arms procurements, no bid contracts, tax breaks, and, of course, ill-fated military adventures, all o

  • Am I a Commie or A capitalist?

    Am I a Commie or A capitalist?


    My car is festooned with bumper stickers. Some favorites include “Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers”, “Alternative Energy is Homeland Security” and “These Colors Don’t Run… the World”. This last one in particular seems to provoke the ire of right wingers.Recently I picked up a new deer rifle at a local sporting goods store. As I returned to my car, I found a note on the windshield that said “Expletive you and your Expletive Commie Bumper Stickers”. It also had a rather fetching smiley face drawn at the bottom as a lovely coda.Sure, ‘Commie’ is one of those all-purpose epithets that has essentially lost all meaning to most who wield it, but since I’d just seen Michael Moore’s film about Capitalism, I began to wonder, am I a Commie?With apologies to Michael Moore, I think I’m actually a bit of a Capitalist. Certainly, I do not believe in an equal share of wealth for everyone. For example, I do not believe that a lazy person deserves my standard of living. I also believe that this thing called the ‘profi

  • The Welfare State

    The Welfare State


    I have a friend. She’s been a self-employed craftsperson involved in home construction and renovation for 25 years down in South Carolina. For all those years she’s paid her taxes and social security, her own health insurance, and reared a son largely as a single mother. Recently, her business has all but disappeared due to the recession and the housing crisis. She was having trouble paying the mortgage, so she decided to seek help. She’d had her first workshop in a rundown part of town, and had seen innumerable welfare families provided with not only housing, but TVs and furniture paid for by the state from the local rent-a-center. Given her neighbors experience, Welfare seemed like an obvious candidate. So, she went down to the office to see what help there was, what the system she’d paid into so loyally all these years as a hard working entrepreneur could give back to her in her time of need.After her meeting, she called me, incredulous. Yes, they offered to help. They would give her 554.00 a month, garnis

  • Obama Sells Out

    Obama Sells Out


    Shortly after Obama was inaugurated, I wrote a commentary that was quite critical of his economic team, which was composed of the very people who had created the financial crisis in the first place. I ended the commentary by suggesting that the age of Obama was starting to sound more like ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ than ‘a change is gonna come’. But disillusioned as I’d become about his domestic agenda, I still hoped that Obama would shine on foreign policy – that he might truly turn the ungainly ship of Empire around and return it to port. After all, it’s quite clear that America is following a long line of Imperial mistakes before it, vitiating itself with ever more military adventures, while provoking the ire of subjugated peoples, who are increasingly fighting back, weakening America like Lilliputians tying down Gulliver. But here, again, Obama has either caved to his corporate masters, or is showing his own true colors. He hasn’t extracted us from either of the costly wars we’re mired in;

  • The Other Healthcare Crisis

    The Other Healthcare Crisis


    There’s more than one healthcare crisis in this country. Of course, there’s the issue of coverage for everyone, but another crisis is exemplified by just how callous, narrow-minded, and often ineffectual our current medical system is.17 years ago I was paralyzed from the neck down with a crushed spinal cord and brain damage. Thankfully, my total quadriplegia was short-lived and through both hard work and good luck I was able to recover most of my previous abilities.But the sad truth was that most of my recovery was achieved not because of, but rather in spite of our vaunted medical system. Very little of it was due to traditional Western medical treatment. In fact, even when I was completely paralyzed and in almost inconceivable pain, I still had to summon the strength and fortitude to argue many times with the hospital staff to force access to alternative and non-traditional therapies. I even had to fight to see my own chart, because once they found that I was having my wife read it me, they physically remov

  • Our Embedded Media

    Our Embedded Media


    Recently there was an article on natural gas extraction in the NY Times. It was basically a cheerleading essay on how the wonderful new technology of ‘fracking’ was going to exponentially increase the world’s natural gas supply. There was not one single word in the entire article about this technology’s serious environmental repercussions – from its use of large quantities of highly toxic chemicals, to the truly incredible quantities of water it requires.This led me to think more and more about how our media have changed in my lifetime. When I was a kid, the horrors of Vietnam were in our living rooms, and our magazines. As a young child, I was traumatized to see pictures of napalmed children in a copy of Newsweek while waiting in a pediatrician’s office. Until that moment, I’d been an innocent 5 year old, never dreaming that people could do that to other people, let alone that my country could be the perpetrator of such unalloyed horrors. But as traumatic as that experience was, it’s far preferable to the em

  • Chimps and Bonobos

    Chimps and Bonobos


    Humankind’s two closest genetic relatives are the Chimpanzee and the so-called ‘pygmy chimp’, the Bonobo. We share some 97% of our genetic makeup with both of them.This is a vast oversimplification, but in general, Chimpanzee society tends to be male-dominated and violent. Chimps engage in brutal fights, gang rape, genocide, even cannibalism. Their society is highly stratified, with dominant males at the top and lesser males at the bottom. Although females also have dominant and lesser representatives, in general their health and safety, and that of their offspring, is still largely a matter of male whim. The Bonobo are quite different. Although there are fights in Bonobo society, they tend to be brief and non-lethal. There appears to be no rape, no cannibalism, no wiping out of other troops of Bonobo. All in all, the Bonobo society is, for lack of a better word, more humaneIn Chimp society, sex occurs only when females are in heat. In the matriarchal Bonobo society, sex occurs all the time, for procreation,

  • Psycho Pundits

    Psycho Pundits


    In recent months, The psychotic sophistries of right wing pundits have gone gonzo. It’s as if losing the election has blown their minds.First, there was Sean Hannity’s ‘tree of liberty’. I defy any sane adult to not fall down laughing after viewing it. Mr. Hannity shows us an old-timey illustration of the tree of liberty, complete with roots named Liberty, Freedom, etc, combining into a strong trunk. Above this trunk there are apples, named commerce, security etc. Then Mr. Hannity tells us that since Obama has become president, all of these apples have fallen into, I kid you not, the ‘apple crate of socialism’. This entire cartoon seems to be for two year olds, but it’s not, it’s for the supposedly adult viewers of his program.Do his viewers never stop to think that by Hannity’s definition, government-run institutions like fire, police, and military forces, and even public schools and hospitals, are equally ‘socialist’. Later in the week, he tried to stir public ire over the fact that President Obama ordered

  • The Outrage Over Lockerbie

    The Outrage Over Lockerbie


    The DJ on my car radio was incensed. The Lockerbie bomber had been released. My first thoughts echoed his: it was indecent that this killer was not only released, but received a hero’s welcome back home in Libya. Yes, I admit it; I’m just not that forgiving a guy. I don’t think a terminally-ill mass murderer should be released on compassionate grounds so that he might spend his last days with friends and family. If he truly is guilty, he deserves to spend his last days, his last breath, rotting in jail.But other thoughts arose as well. One was that many of the Lockerbie victim’s families doubted his guilt. Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed, said: "I went into that court in Holland thinking I was going to see the trial of those who were responsible for the murder of my daughter. I came out of it thinking he had been framed." A bereaved father’s statement of support for the alleged killer of his child carries a lot of weight with me, as do those of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which t

  • Crush Rambos History of the Liberal (A Ken Burns style mockumentary)

    Crush Rambo's History of the Liberal (A Ken Burns style mockumentary)


    Audio only, folks. Someday, I'll add the Burns-like pan and scan of historical photos, maybe for next April Fools Day, but for now... enjoy wit yer ears!And... if you listen past the end. there are 2 bonus tracks, including the game show 'You Can't Prove a Negative'! Powered by All Content Worldwide Copyright - Samuel McKenney Claiborne

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