AOTL Video Marathon

If there's one thing that we love to do on holidays it is watching reruns back to back for hours on end. For those of you who get tired of "Roseanne" and "The Twilight Zone" Ahead On The Left offers a few minutes of video entertainment (be sure to scroll down).

Enjoy your holiday season and whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, please do not watch these videos while driving.

Crazy Animals

Chip MySpace Video

Northern Exposure

Dear Todd or Bristol or Sarah or Levi or Trig or Piper or Willow or Occupant, whichever one of you checked out my blog, do come back. Leave comments and tell friends.
Happy Holidays. Oh that's right. I mean Merry Christmas.

For Colored Girls Who Considered Quitting After Hearing Enuf Office Comments About Her Hair

I’m sensing Republicans will soon be asking Malia Obama to resign her post as First Daughter as the role of First Daughter is unconstitutional. If they succeed Team Obama will be loosing one of its most effective members. To most people, the contribution of Malia is missable. To black women who have been put under administrative scrutiny at work for wearing anything other than the Donna Brazile/Condoleezza Rice/Michelle Obama office perm, Malia Obama is a trailblazer.

As any black woman over the age of thirty-five will tell you it has not been easy making a black woman’s hair acceptable in the workplace (“yes that is a ceramic bird in my hair”). Nappy hair on a black woman has been considered, on the surface, below office muster. Braids, twists, and Afros above a certain height can be grounds for a workplace hassling. Once the wearer chooses to attend her job in one of these styles her superiors no longer see her Cheryl in accounting; She is Angela Davis, the Black Panthers, the Crips, and the bloods in accounting. She will be assumed to be testy, mean, and lippy. She will swivel her head when she explains why she can't help you. She will be unapproachable and highly likely to file multiple frivolous discrimination suits. In a word, trouble.

While things are much better than they were in the 80s and 90s we can easily see where the struggle continues. Before Malia, there was no Sister on the White House staff or any White House resident who would rock braids. To this day Malia is the only one. It may be assumed that this is something Malia can get away with as a the minor child of a president, but even at eleven years of age Miss Obama has already been the target of the Right-Wing outrage generator. While touring Italy this year Malia sported a t-shirt emblazoned with a peace sign which prompted some tractionless chatter about it sending the wrong message to the attendees of the G8 Summit which was occurring simultaneously.

I don’t know about the shirt, but her hair certainly sent a message that day as she strolled through the streets of Rome: “My hair is nappy. Live with it.” It would be too dramatic to compare this to when Eleanor Roosevelt flew with the Tuskegee Airmen to validate their airmanship, but Malia is opening a door. We are approaching the day when a black woman can get a hairdo over the weekend without having to anticipate it creating any bureaucratic stress on Monday morning.

Malia is the quintessential spokesperson who never had to say a word. With only eleven years behind her, there's little record for her enemies to pillage. She is certainly more liked than her father. They don't poll the approval of presidential children, but if they did, Barack Obama would be wearing cornrows at his next Camp David visit. Then in fifty years it would be trivia that Barack Obama began the tradition of presidents wearing cornrows during their Camp David stays.

Joe Lieberman, Please Eat Shit and Die (Slowly)

By Ray Richmond

Okay, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut (the “I” clearly stands for “Irrelevant”), you win. If your goal was to convince me and the American people that you’re a mangy, mealy-mouthed, Smurf-like, fossilized piece of walrus vomit, congratulations. You’ve convinced me. In the darkest depths of Hell, the halls are bedecked with your portrait, smiling that bloated little android chipmunk smile that seems to say to the world, “I’m a pathetic little trapezoid-shaped turd of a politician who is so far up the ass of Big Insurance that my entire grotesquely misshapen bulb of a head has started to turn the color of rancid salami.”

You will find Sen. Lieberman wherever houseflies gather. He’s drawn to the stench of excrement because it so reminds him of the breath he wastes when justifying why he is somehow morally, ethically and constitutionally incapable of voting for a bill designed to fix a hopelessly broken health care system and provide millions of uninsured Americans with a ray of hope for the future and tens of millions more with a way to pay for medical care without going broke.

The thing you have to know about Senator Joe is that he is absolutely, exclusively and unequivocally in the Joe Lieberman business to the exclusion of everyone else. He never was a true Democrat. He’s not even a Republican. What he has done with the label “Independent” is transform it now and perhaps forever into a synonym for “Self-Serving Asswipe.” He doesn’t just give Jews a bad name; he soils Caucasians, politicians (not an easy thing to do), the name “Joe,” the surname “Lieberman,” married people, fathers and indeed humanity itself. He’s a power-mad putz doing the bidding for Big Business, taking a hatchet to everyday Americans eagerly and without the thinnest shred of conscience.

First, Lieberman the Lapdog vows not to vote for the health care bill if there’s a government-run public option. Why? Utterly unclear. Something about bankrupting the country. Hmmm…Where did we hear that one before? Oh yeah, when we bailed out the banks. That turned out splendidly, didn’t it? But it’s called a public option, not a public must do it. It’s called tossing people who need it a long overdue life preserver. But that simply isn’t part of Senator Shmoe’s agenda, having as he does a vested interest in flipping them overboard instead.

But not even this is enough for this cloying collection of parrot droppings. He then decides to take to the Sunday morning airwaves yesterday and vow to vote against any health care legislation that includes an expansion of Medicare to allow a buy-in for those aged 55 to 64…as well as any fallback version of a public option. Why? Because the prick is owned outright by the insurance companies. They promise Lieberman whatever he wants so long as any legislation that enables Americans to steer clear of the greed-mongering insurance congloms is erased from the bill.

None of this would much matter, of course, saving for the fact that Lieberman (that’s “Lie-berman”) is the Senate’s swing vote, the 60th, filibuster-proof one who stands potentially between passage and defeat. Small wonder the twit thinks it’s all about him. It’s what he’s told every day. Why would he think any different? An arrogant pretend-moderate is somehow cast as the most important and powerful guy in the country, in some ways more important a voice than the President himself.

I’ve just fucking had it with this flip-flopping slime bucket. Pardon the raw language, but it’s the mildest I can be when discussing Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the jerkoff who puts the “con” in “Connecticut.” For years, he conned everyone into believing he leaned left when all he does – and all he’s ever done – is bend over. He has traded his voice for a truck full of cash and a pair of lips stuck to his buttocks. If people wind up dying because his unquenchable ego and lust for power are all that matter to him, so be it. He is a little man who is small in every way, a turncoat who has abandoned his party, shucked his responsibility, sold off his allegiance and deserted his people in their greatest hour of need.

And for what? Evidently, it’s so Senator Joe can be the story, can be bigger than the issue, can become part of the historical fabric – the consequences of his actions, or inactions, be damned. What is more unctuous still about Lieberman is that he thinks he can continue to have it both ways, that he can talk one way and walk another. He is, thus, the worst kind of political scoundrel, one who lacks even the simple honesty to embrace his own convictions. The press marvels at his seeming courage to stand against the tide, but it’s a mere illusion. The real Joe Lieberman is as predictable as the sunrise – that is, playing the wolf in sheep’s clothing role to the hilt. In every profession but politics, they would call this a phony. But in Washington, snake oil salesmen are the mainstream.

We already know that the literal meaning of the term “politics” is, “The science of convincing a segment of the population that you are not in fact beholden to the special interests that control you.” But Jackass Joe has taken it a step further. He seems not only to buy into the deception but also to believe the delusion as fact. His reward should be a special wing in Hell.


By Ray Richmond

I have seen the future -- and I've seen it all before -- and so I know how this here Tiger Woods saga is going to unfold from here. Trust me, so do you. There's really no other way it can go. All he has to do is follow the standard script.

But first, a few casual observations:

1. Tiger is going to come through this almost entirely unscathed. Really. Sure, he used to be seen as a Boy Scout. But others have done far worse than serial consensual philandering and been forgiven wholeheartedly.

Start with Kobe Bryant, charged with sexual assault but no longer tarnished by that particular alleged sin even moderately. Michael Vick was convicted of torturing dogs for sport, and no one's even raising a whimper today as he restores his shattered reputation with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Does anyone raise a peep now about steroids as it applies to Alex Rodriguez? Nope. Turning into a post-season home run machine will do that. Success trumps transgression with few exceptions, particularly if it's preceded by the appropriate quasi-sincere public apology. Just spin, baby.

2. In an odd way, people have gained a measure of respect for Tiger that wasn't there previously. Many found him to be so straitlaced as to be boring. No longer. Now he's the guy singlehandedly responsible, seemingly, for keeping the hotel and motel industry from imploding during the economic downturn.
3. Anytime someone departs a job or position to "spend more time focusing on my family," the sure bet is that this has little or nothing to do with the decision. What it means in this case is, "I need to gather myself and consider my options while surrounded by imagemakers, spinmeisters, lawyers and marketing reps, as well as the occasional intern." Hanging with the family probably doesn't rank much higher than sixth place on the priority scale, and that high only as props for the occasional photo op. But it appears that Tiger will need to travel to Sweden to get a shot of the happy family working out its problems.

4. You just need to have the right "The devil made me do it!" mea culpa, and Tiger is about to play that card out of utter necessity. This brings us to my crystal ball:

JANUARY 5, 2010: Tiger Woods announces on his website that he is in the throes of sex addiction and is seeking inpatient treatment at the Sierra Tucson in Arizona -- a 30-day program designed to restore himself to sanity and rescue his personal life. "I have been an untreated sex addict for 11 years," Woods declares, "and I intend to get this issue under control once and for all."

FEBRUARY 1, 2010: It's announced that Tiger will give his first sit-down interview since his sexual indiscretions became public with Barbara Walters on a very special two-hour edition of "The Barbara Walters Interview."

FEBRUARY 17, 2010: Woods tells Walters that he didn't understand until undergoing treatment that what he was doing all of these years was "seeking the approval" of a father who was never satisfied via the multiple dalliances with women. "I respected all of them," Woods says, "but I didn't respect myself."

FEBRUARY 22, 2010: In an edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on which he serves as the sole guest, Woods tells Winfrey that he hopes to be able to reconcile with his wife "even though she's now living on an island in Sweden that denies me access." He offers "a sincere apology to the women of America for treating you as my personal amusement park."

FEBRUARY 25, 2010: On "A Dr. Phil Prime Time Special: Tiger Woods Apologizes to Dr. Phil," the world's greatest golfer and most prolific clandestine womanizer answers the Dr. Phil question, "What were you thinking?" by admitting, "I was thinking with my sex drive. In program, they call this, 'Disrespecting my penis.' For that and so many other things, I apologize to you and to the country."

MARCH 5, 2010: Woods announces that he will be returning to golf in April to play in the Masters tournament, surprising no one.

MARCH 21, 2010: The Tiger Woods Apology Tour '10 continues in a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story that carries the headline, "I've Disrespected Nike. I've Disrespected Gatorade. I've Disrespected Everything."

APRIL 11, 2010: Tiger finishes a more than respectable third place in the Masters, his first tourney back since his self-imposed hiatus. The jokes about Woods' "never having a problem finding the hole" begin to slow down a bit.

MAY 9, 2010: He finishes second at the Players Championship. The press begins to turn back toward rooting for Woods rather than poking fun at him and reveling in his anxiety-riddled misery.

MAY 19, 2010: It's announced that Tiger and his estranged wife, Elin Nordegren, have decided to give it another shot with a reconciliation. She moves back along with the couple's two children to their home in Florida.

JUNE 20, 2010: Tiger wins the U.S. Open Championship, instantly erasing all memory of Woods' winter of discontent and restoring every sponsorship he had lost the previous December. Everything is wondrous once again in Tigerville.

Yep, a mere six months from now, this is all going to be just a bad memory -- for Tiger, for the PGA Tour, for his endorsees, for the nation. The lesson that will have been learned: No more early morning car accidents! Hire a driver and live happily ever after. Amen.

Ahead On The Left International

This is a map of recent visitor activity at Ahead On The Left. It's an encouraging picture considering the modesty of the AOTL marketing strategy. As we approach our 50th post it provides a view of where we may focus our attention. A quick glance suggests we put efforts into the web markets of Asia, Australia, and Texas.
With this growth comes responsibility. AOTL promises to join Amnesty International in the event that anyone living under a repressive regime is imprisoned for for being a fan. We will also have t-shirts made up saying "Free (insert prisoner name here)," budget pending.
Finally, an acknowledgement to the person in Mobile, AL who spent a whopping 18 hours perusing the sight. It more than makes up for the people who stay on the sight for a reported zero seconds. Thank-you and keep coming back.

A New Low From Healthcare Reform Opponents

Just when I thought the healthcare debate couldn't get any hotter, I turned on the television and saw this anti-healthcare ad. This one pulls out all the scare tactics.

A Civil Rights Dialogue

Spanking Tom Tancredo

In this clip Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas goes from left-wing sage to liberal wet dream. Watch as he chases Tom "All Talk" Tancredo off of the Ed Show. Tancredo who never served a day in the armed forces tries to speak for veterans. Moulitsas, a veteran makes quick work of that. You can compare service records of the two here

and here

Whatever Happened To... Robert Latta

On January 20, 1985, long before Michelle Ann Holt (now Michaele Salahi) and Tareq Salahi ever knew that they would become known as “this week’s balloon boy” the Reagan White House was on low alert when a Denver man wandered inside and gave himself a 14 minute tour that ended when the Secret Service sauntered in on him and took him down.

It was the day of Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration and Washington was abuzz with distractions. Latta took advantage of the hubbub and followed the Marine Corps Orchestra past security into the White House. He wasn’t wearing a uniform, and he didn’t have an instrument, but he did have his overnight bag. Security may have figured him to be the Marine Corp Orchestra’s sloppy civilian manager. Why not?
Latta was questioned by the Secret Service, turned over to DC police who booked him on unlawful entry, and interviewed by psychiatrists. Amid the legal goings-on Latta at one point had been committed to St. Elizabeth’s hospital, having divulged a previous stay in a psychiatric ward. According to the meter reader, he had voluntarily committed himself after hearing voices in his head saying “you blew it.” Incidentally, St. Elizabeth’s hospital is where Reagan assassination attempter John Hinkley still spends his days. This writer’s father also worked at St. Elizabeth’s as a young lab tech. That was back when Eisenhower parked it at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ahead On The Left is not an investigative journal and though the title of this post suggests a brief on the current status of Robert Latta, the only information available on Latta in Wikipedia covered events prior to and around the arrest. The article ended without so much as a word on what the final outcome of the case was. Come on Wikipedia. I’ll donate that dollar when you complete your articles.

What I personally can account for was the rapid saturation of Latta into the stream of popular culture. Of course they babbled about him on the morning shows. He may have even been on a couple. He was portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Rich Hall, though only a feature player, by that time Hall had established himself on the comedy map as the originator of the word (but not quite the concept of) Sniglets (

I remember the jokes rampant in the black community: “If that was Rasheed Latta, they woulda shot that n***** before he got off the subway.”

As a nation, we may have at first thought Latta was a jerk – the kind of guy who touches paintings in museums or licks things he doesn’t want other people to take. Then the notion of peculiarity set in evoking feelings not too far from underdoggery. In America we believe in going far doing the things we’re crazy about. Latta got far just by being crazy. That’s closer to the American Dream than a lot of people are going to get. Plus, he was awkward so we could tell he didn’t think he was better than the rest of us.

This was before the wasteland of reality television was even the size on a flattened gumwad on the sidewalk. Robert Latta was not looking to be in the new cast of “I’m A Dysfunctional Mess. Gimme Money.” If he sought any fame for his trespassing he went about it the wrong way, but I don’t believe he was trying for fame. This was clearly more of a spur of the moment thing than a precision operation. In the ranks of stealthy Japanese assassins he’d be a nonja.

Meanwhile, the Salahis, unbeknownst to them, are pioneers in the reinventing of reality television as people who end up on the news as a result of a hare-brained scheme to get on a reality show and then burn out before they even pay their restitution. That wouldn’t be enough punishment as far as I’m concerned though. I wish what happened to Latta including incarceration and psychiatric evaluation could have been on the fare for the Salahis. That’s reality television I’d watch.

So I wonder what did happen to ole Robert Latta?

Latta is not to be confused with U.S. Congressman Bob Latta from Ohio.

Performing My Blog Live

A few minutes of a set from the stage at Room5 in Hollywood,CA. I know it's impolite to chew gum on stage, but it's prescription gum.

Headlines We Are Following at Ahead On The Left

Economists Expect Fewer Tramplings On Biggest Shopping Day Of The Year

Mullah Omar Mulls Dancing With The Stars

Amazon To Stop Selling “Cop Killer” Bullets

Congress To NASA: New Ares Rocket Must Get 50 MPG

If You’re Not Sure It’s An Emergency, Detroit Offers 811

Sellers Nervous About Oboe Hero For Wii

No One Stretching For This Year’s Oscar Race

Apathy Crimes Against Whites Up

Rats: Breast Enhancement Testing On Humans Almost Complete

Did Cavemen Count Calories?

Judge: Al Qaeda Tweets Admissible

Republicans Introduce Bill To Rename Acorns

Scrapping attempts to draft their own version of a healthcare reform bill, Republicans have put renaming acorns on the top of their agenda as the party in opposition.

“We are in the process of drafting a sweeping bill that will no longer associate the seed of the mighty pine (sic) tree with the likes of swindlers and homegrown terrorists such as David Ayers” announced Rep. Doc Hastings, ranking Republican on the House Committee on Natural Resources. “This bill will reintroduce the acorn as the Liberty Pod.”

Though chances of the bill reaching the floor are slim, House Minority Leader John Boehner attested to the symbolic importance of the legislation

“We’re representing working families of America who are working hard to put food on the table and who are disgusted that the seed of such a noble tree shares its name with a disgraceful organ of the liberal agenda” said Boehner. “Apparently the ‘A’ word is just fine with Speaker Pelosi who spends so much time in San Francisco and Washington D.C. she doesn’t understand the concerns of people in America.”

When asked about the name change bill Pelosi only laughed, briefly displaying a gesture with her thumb and index finger that resembled the letter “L.”

In 2003 two Republican Congressmen, Bob Ney of Ohio and Walter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina successfully pushed through action in the House to rename French fries and French toast being served in the congressional cafeterias freedom fries and freedom toast. The menu items has since reverted back to their original names and Ney has since spent 2 ½ years in prison for matters unrelated to the name change (Abramoff, ahem).

Bill Ayers’ ties to the organization ACORN remain unconfirmed.

I Love You, ACORN!

If only ACORN did all the things its Republican detractors said, I would love it even more than I do now. Let me be clear on this; I LOVE ACORN! If ACORN stole the last presidential election, good. For a million reasons, good. I wouldn’t want Medvedev to have to sit through John McCain’s catalog of dirty jokes. Medvedev seems like a guy who would prefer Barack Obama’s blue humor. If ACORN was responsible for making that happen, then more power to them.

A recent poll says that 52% of Republicans believe ACORN stole the presidential election. Sounds ominous, but remember, the 52% of Republicans is merely equal to the 23% of those who still think W was an ok or better president.

This margin of folks is one that is unreachable through any reasoning so I get no satisfaction in figuratively smashing my head against a wall by trying to prove them wrong. It is much more satisfying to indulge them in their paranoid fantasies and watch the steam whistle out of there ears with each new Foxesque distortion or lie about ACORN.

ACORN registers poor minority people to vote. Poor minority people don’t vote for Republicans. Republicans have better chances at winning when groups like ACORN don’t register minority voters So if Republicans can derail ACORN it increases their chances of winning elections, theoretically.

In my research I am finding out for the first time that ACORN was at the center of what is now known as “the U.S. Attorney Firings” (What? No U.S. Attorneygate?). U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico was removed when he refused to prosecute ACORN. After a probe that lasted over two months there was one case that merited investigation. Iglesias concluded that this one case was not provable. What suggests that David Iglesias was right? Of the three men who held or currently holds Iglesias’ former post none of them have made any movement on prosecuting ACORN.

Those who began the attempted undoing of ACORN are the same people who sent Joe Wilson (not the “you lie” guy) to investigate a claim that Iraq had bought all kinds of uranium in Niger. Wilson concluded that the claim was false. His findings, in spite of their relevance were ignored. When Wilson publicly defended his reputation and work they went after him by exposing his wife as a U.S. spy. That’s not stark raving lunacy based on what I think George W. Bush & Co may have done. It’s what they DID do. It’s on the record. That being said, I’d much rather have ACORN in my foxhole than that bunch.

David Iglesias had distinguished himself early on in his career. As a JAG officer he had worked on a case that was later an inspiration for a movie. There’s not an American over the age of twelve who has not heard one particular line from the movie which is quite apt; “You can’t handle the truth.”

ACORN is in its fortieth year of service being an advocate of low and moderate income families. There’s bound to be stains on their carpet, but this analogy more accurately sums up ACORN rather than the froth coming from the Right. I used to wait on a Hollywood notable at the restaurant and he always ordered the same thing; a medium rare t-bone steak. So we called him T-bone man (genius). T-bone’s man order arrived at his table overcooked about 50% of the time. Some of the guys on steaks just couldn’t cook them right, but T-bone man never alleged the restaurant had a policy of overcooking steaks. Otherwise he would not have returned. His presumption was that the restaurant’s goal was to serve up a pleasing meal, and they always did, even if it took two tries.

Acorn is like that restaurant; they have a goal of providing the services they list in their mission statement, but sometimes they hire someone who phonies voter registration forms because they’re paid by each voter they register. So basically those people were screwing ACORN. ACORN was not screwing America.

And as for the video which showed two Republican activists posing as criminals looking for business advice from ACORN, they had to travel to several different offices to find ACORN people lame enough to provide the tiny percentage of footage they needed to portray all of ACORN as crooked. Where’s the footage of the offices where they weren’t offered any help? Awesome question.

ACORN is not the Evil Empire Fox News sucklers have been led to believe, but some people find it easier and more gratifying to succumb to hysteria than exercise some human reason. ACORN will go on doing what it does and good for them. I will go on laughing at the angry, red-faced bluster of distortion, but I should temper my joy. Ironically, angry people are happiest when they’re angry.

A Message From "The Enemy"

Dear Americans,
We represent a global interest comprised of various groups who are currently involved in hostilities at varying levels against your country or "The Enemy." We write to inform you that our client has all seen the photo of your president in an awkward bow to the emperor of Japan outside what looks like a Benihana's. Pursuant to the discovery of this photo "The Enemy" has resolved to use this shameful display of weakness in any way it can to its advantage.

Should your president ever attempt to stalemate any constituent entity of our client, sovereign or nonsovereign in the midst of any communication, BOO-YAH! Out comes the picture which "The Enemy" has agreed to keep in its top desk drawer in the event of such an instance. The next time Obama's at the U.N., BAM! Placards on the wall everywhere. As we speak, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is having the image incorporated on his letterhead. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad used the photo to arouse his wife just this morning. Twice.

"The Enemy" would like to thank Dick Cheney for bringing this photo to its attention. What would have been overlooked as standard discretionary international protocol has been twisted and spun into a trump card. "The Enemy" would ordinarily never have assumed that Dick Cheney would seek the failure of sitting U.S. president except he emailed us this photo and companion video. He then phoned us to make sure we received the email asking "what do you think of that." Mistaking Mr. Cheney's point, we conceded that the photo made Mr. Obama's ass look huge. One partner actually thought it was Mr. Obama's head Photoshopped onto Mike Huckabee's body. An indignant Mr. Cheney then enlightened us with the shame potential of the photo and for that we are grateful.

We cheered Mr. Cheney up by offering him a retainer for his services. We even negotiated a bonus package based on the level of humiliation suffered in the photo. We're talking Halliburton money if he can find one of Mr. Obama being kicked in the balls by a foreign dignitary.

In the meantime, we believe our client has the goods to derail the Obama Administration for the next year. Your president won't be able to negotiate his daughters' allowance, nevermind Iran and Healthcare. This assault will continue until your country's stature is no greater than that of Bhutan or Mali (no offense to Bhutan or Mali). So get used to grain rationing.


Partners - Brooks, Tina, Ike, and Dunn

Sheikhing the Foundations of the Legal System

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged principal architect of the September 11 Massacre will be tried in New York. Various federal prosecutors in numerous districts were wringing their hands to take on the case against K-Mo. I am happy to see justice done. My only regret is that the case wasn’t given to a Southern district because if there is one thing K-Mo & Co needs, it is to be railroaded and there’s no legal railroadin’ like a Southern legal railroadin’. I know that Southern justice is no longer typified by my favorite Southern courtroom films, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “My Cousin Vinny” so this may the be the one time I’m nostalgic for the Old South.

I see the defendant being tried in Virginia just miles from the Pentagon in August. Even at 9 am the sweltering humidity makes everyone in the courtroom look disheveled. The prosecutor Richmond Sumpter Confederacy Souther II has already taken the coat of his white suit off. Souther keeps a handkerchief and uses it exclusively as a prop. He takes it out to thoroughly rub the back of his neck when he’s about to ask a defendant the one question he knows will seal their fate. On this morning the handkerchief is out and not as a prop. The back of his neck, all eight inches by eleven inches of it, is “just a terrible damp.”

By the time the formalities of convening are done the handkerchief needs to be rung out so before he begins his cross examination of K-Mo he squeezes it under his standard Southern courtroom issue oak seat. It gives him an idea for his opening words, “My Lawdy, is it mighty hot today, mighty hot. Whhhhhooooooo.”

Then he lifts himself out of his chair, put his suspenders back over his shoulders and walks to the witness stand.

“Well now. Good mornin’ Mr. M’hammed. Let me start by sayin’ I am humbled to be in the presence of a real-life sheikh? Am I sayin’ that right? Sheikh?” (Mohammed nods) “I’m sorry. Mister Littlefiled here is charged with taking down every little thing we say here today, but he ain’t got no nod button on his little dixiehoozit thingy there so I’ll ask if you meant yes when you nodded. You can just say yes. There we go. You got a fine voice. You must be a baritone just like me. If things work out for you I can recommend you for the church choir. Just a thought. Fine, fine, fine. So what kind of sheikh are you? Vanilla? Chocolate? I could go for a nice strawberry shake right now myself (uproarious laughter in the gallery. K-Mo’s attorney would object, but he’s laughing too hard. The judge gavels and orders through guffaws “Order!”). And two hours later K-Mo is strapped to, in, or on a some type of death contraption with no reprieve because no one is going to petition for that stay of execution.

As reassuring as that style of law sounds for this case it couldn’t happen in New York or Virginia or even Mississippi for that matter. It won’t just be K-Mo on trial; the U.S. justice system will be on trial. The entire world will be watching. Then there’s the Republican Party who has been cheerleading for these federal trials to end up in some 2012-type of calamity. The GOP take (though they don’t put it this way) is that no one gets off on a technicality in a military tribunal which is always a risk in federal court. These are the same military tribunals that some liberals compare to certain land mammals of Australia known for hopping and carrying their babies called joeys in a pouch. They have long tails and feed on grass. They are known for their boxing skills and ridiculed for their lack of integrity in the courtroom.

I’m not taking sides against the Right. Remember, my whole fantasy here is to see these guys railroaded too. In a non-scientific way this proves something eerily funny; military tribunals are the new Good Old Boys' courtrooms. Is that why they used to call old Southern judges Colonel?

Yes, Virginia, There Are Black Republicans (?) Part II

Part of the RNC site is its page devoted to heroes of the Republican party. It really stands out on the first page of thumbnails that there was a very high ratio of black Republican heroes. Take a look. I've identified the black heroes with the letter "N "for "Not Your Average Republican."

Frederick Douglass and Jackie Robinson jump out at most of us. They've been the rock stars of Black History Month forever. Old Pinkney Pinchback, Jose Celso, Barbosa, Joseph Rainey, Octavius Catto, and Hiram Revels don't get a lot of mention by comparison, but here they are at the Republican party website. I recommend anyone who is curious to take a look at But don't do anything crazy.

Yes, Virginia, There Are Black Republicans (?) Part I

The website for the RNC, (instead of for some reason) has a banner across the top that says "GOP." The "O" in GOP is a portrait of a presumed Republican. When you refresh the page a new face appears. It's a no-brainer for keeping Chip occupied for about fifteen minutes: How many black faces will pop up in this little RNC hustle and what can I discern of them with my expert knowledge of Blackness?

She may very well be a Republican. The likelihood of a black person being a Republican increases the older they are (no offense, ma'am). Older generations of black people backed the GOP because it was the Party of the Great Emancipator. Someone should probably tell them it wasn't a deal with the devil; Just because a Republican freed the slaves 145 years ago doesn't mean you have to vote for a Sarah Palin or even a Mitt Romney today. But who knows. Maybe she's itching for that upper class tax cut.

Like me, Mr. Plaid Shirt voted for a few Republicans in his life if he really liked the candidate or if the Democrat was someone like Joe Lieberman. But that doesn't make him a Republican, really.

Ah, Edward Brooke. This guy actually is a Republican. He was the first black senator elected in the 20th century. Fun fact: He also banged Barbara Walters.

Okay. This is just something you know. Here is a woman who calls her friends "Girrrrrrrrrrrrrl." No woman who refers to her friends as "Girrrrrrrrrrrrrl" follows it up with a right-wing tear. Example: "Girrrrrrrrrrrrrl. I told you not to vote for Barack Obamas." I say NOT Republican.

She's just married to the guy in the plaid shirt.

Okay. She's not black. I just wanted to comment on how much fun she must be on a date.

Now, this guy believes America is the greatest country in the world. There's not a thing you can't achieve if you put your mind to it. The Market is God's gift to people with a little bit of creativity and who don't mind breaking a sweat. There's no dream like the American Dream. And he needs to borrow five bucks.

Mister Beerlips' Long Child

After adopting a loose interpretation of certain copyright laws Shakespeare Ain't Shit Books, the publishing arm of AOTL Agglomerated announces the publishing of "Misheard Lyrics Gone Wild." AOTL's MLGW picks up on a craze in novelty books and Jeopardy categories whose success has remained steady over the past fourteen plus years. MLGW is a fabricated collection of lyrics that sound a lot like they could be the lyrics to actual pop songs. Here are some examples. See if you can guess what song they are supposed to be.

It's due left to poli sci
I said it's due left

It's too late to apologize
I said it's too late
(Timbaland Ft. One Republic)

I'll have to punt
In another day yeah
She's gone tomorrow

All that she wants
Is another baby
She's gone tomorrow
(Ace of Bass)

Thai buns who let it say
Hi Bunny, why me

I want to get away
I want to fly away
(Lenny Kravitz)

You're a booty call
You're a booty call
You're a booty call it's true

You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You're beautiful it's true
(James Blunt)

I'm gonna blow my brains out
The next time I hear
this song

My humps my humps my
Humps my humps my humps
My humps my humps my humps
My humps my humps
(The Black Eyed Peas)

Erkel's fame's
Fallen to shame

Purple Haze
All in my brain
(Jimi Hendrix)

Gray hair hair hair hair
Gray hair hair
I said gray's
What's goin' on

Hey hey hey hey hey
Hey hey hey
I said hey
What's goin' on
(4 Non Blondes)

The ad nauseum airplay of these songs has made them classics so AOTL will keep releasing MLGW every Christmas season until there are no more orders. So give MLGW this year and every year. Make your loved ones wonder silently, "why bother?"


The year was 2000. High-fructose corn syrup was oozing its way into more items on the grocery store shelf. The world said goodbye to Larry Linville of “M*A*S*H”. And a Houston-based company called Enron reported revenues of about $100 billion. How did they do that? By making it up. Fake earnings kept the stock price high. Everyone assumed Enron was doing well according to the stock price and Enron never showed its balance sheet. Though that was customary it wasn’t required.

By late 2001 Enron was in bankruptcy. The officers given leniency ratted out the top guys, one of which, Ken Lay died before he was sentenced. Those of us who slept through economics classes found it hard to keep it all straight, but the one part we did understand was that Enron locked its doors and went out of business… OR DID IT?!

Eight years after its humiliating fall from grace the lights are still on at Enron, but under the far sexier name, Enron Creditors Recovery Corp. The new Enron is now in charge of liquidating the “pre-bankruptcy” (their term) Enron to pay off creditors. One thing not available on their website is an inventory of the assets to be sold. I propose that they would move items and pay off their debts quicker by devoting one page to serve as a catalog. Between the industry plants, fixtures, and lost & founds, one may speculate a page to look something like this:


437 urinals

1 Mumbai Partially-Built Proton Collider

1 Sexy Devil coffee mug

8487 Swingline staplers – various models

578 fake ficus plants

10,000 spent plutonium rods

1 portrait creepy looking family all of whose members appear to be around the same age

160 boxes Christmas decorations plus one electric menorah.

1 Paper and Pulp Works of Waco

33 cases assorted opened booze

2 large first aid kits with CPR and birthing diagrams

Assorted collection 2002 calendars

Whatever the list of goods looks like, why is it taking so long to sell everything off? Hmm. A gander at the goings on down at the Enron website shows that earlier this year Enron won over a billion dollars from Citibank, one of its creditors in a court approved settlement. How does that work? Enron owes Citibank money and Citibank ends up paying Enron over a billion dollars. I don’t know if paying attention in economics would have helped me understand this arrangement any better, but one thing’s for sure; Enron’s still got it!

Dressing Makes Me Think of Blue Cheese

As my annual countdown to the Razzie Awards continues, it's not the announcements of the "winners" I'm looking forward to as much as the charge of adrenaline I'll get when intentionally doing something really embarrassing in front of a live audience.
Award show producer JB Wilson specializes in finding ways to maintain his cast's reputation for doing weird stuff. This excerpt from a Razzie review by Craig Miller demonstrates just where audience expectations are.

But the highlight of the evening, bringing the audience to its feet, was when John Wilson, founder of the Razzies and a member of the award show cast, announced that the award for Worst Actress (Halle Berry, in Catwoman) was being accepted by Halle Berry.
He pointed offstage, into the wings, and the audience didn't know what to expect. The writer is one thing but...

There was a pause and we were kind of expecting one of the show cast -- probably Chip Dornell, the Black male cast member -- to come on stage in a wig and costume to do some kind of parody.

But, holy crap, it really was Halle Berry.

Thanks. I guess. But by reading this review one would think I was a regular Milton Berle dragging it up in women's clothing every year at the Razzies. Not true. I did that once and it was two or three years AFTER the above review was written. The question now is will it be the last time. Following the last show JB told me if he could find a way to put me in a dress in an opening number for next year's show he'll do it. I'm pretty sure he said it only out of the sleep deprivation from which he was suffering from getting the show together. He probably said the same thing to Dan and Glenn.

AOTL Political Theatre

Our goal at AOTL has not been clearly defined yet, but when that all gets sorted out we're confident that the following video will still be somehow be appropriate. "Reaching Across the Aisle: Healthcare Edition" is the twelfth installment of the creative team CHIPZOK whose collection of works on rate highest among videos with 500 or less views. They pride themselves on being always uncompromising and always uncommercial.

To see their rest of their videos please visit:

Days of Swine and Noses

By Ray Richmond

You can always tell when a television news anchor is feeling disappointment. The left eyebrow (to the viewer’s right) begins to perceptibly twitch, and the monotone takes on a subtle edge of angst. Usually, this can be discerned when the anchor is reporting that a local shooting resulted in injury but no deaths, or that cancer rates had dropped, or that a predicted violent thunderstorm would now be bypassing the area. And just watch that eyebrow whenever any hurricane is downgraded to a tropical depression. It’s Twitch City, baby.

I saw the twitch erupt anew with great intensity on Friday when one local news gal announced that 19 more kids in the U.S. had died from the Swine Flu in the week ending Aug. 24, bringing the total number of kids who have succumbed to the virus to 114 since it first erupted in April. It seemed clear enough that the anchor felt these numbers were paltry, not at all adequate, an indication of a mere plague wannabe – a wussy killer if ever there was one.

But you could tell the anchor was still trying her very best to push the panic button and play the terror card, even as she worked to mask her disappointment that the 19 wasn’t 19,000 and use of the word “pandemic” wasn’t itself a form of vast overkill.

(It’s always a hoot to watch anchors try, like small children, to use their big words. The vacant look in the bleach-blonde’s eyes as she recites terms from the TelePrompTer like ”referendum” and “callow” is also very much there as she repeats “pandemic,” convinced as she is that it has something to do with infections stemming from the reckless use of cookware. Call it, “One Flu Over the Anchor’s Desk.”)

This is all brought up now, of course, because in terms of disasters of our time and its telegenic value, the H1N1 virus (evidently so-named because “R2D2” already was taken) is an immense underperformer. Particularly as we head into the ratings sweeps month of November, this thing has yet – if you’ll pardon the expression – to go viral. Instead, it’s just a big fat hunk of scaremongering hype. As an effective means of inciting terror in the populace, it’s proving more DOA than HIV, more pig-in-a-poke than porcine-fueled pandemonium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that a lousy 800 people or so had died of the Swine Flu. Let’s compare this to the 50 million people worldwide who died during the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918-19, which represented 3% of the entire global population of 1.6 billion at the time. That was more than three times the 16 million who had been killed during WWI.

In a normal flu year in the U.S., some 40 to 50 kids typically die. This year, it’s looking as if it could wind up being four or five times that number, which is naturally tragic…but on a decidedly small scale. It’s still pretty small potatoes when you consider that more than 30,000 people, mostly kids, succumb to diarrhea each year in Kenya alone. More than 1,000 kids will die in car accidents in the United States this year. But no one is sounding that alarm to keep them out of harm’s way by walking or riding their bicycles instead.

Yet you can understand the palpable frustration of a television news culture for which death is life and chaos in manna from the Gods. It’s always been true that if it bleeds it leads. But it’s conversely turning out to be true that if it merely sniffles, it fizzles. Try as they might, their sensationalistic approach isn’t working this time. People aren’t wearing masks in public. The paranoia factor isn’t inspiring folks to view social interaction as lethal in itself, or to remain indoors and watch more news about why they need to remain indoors and watch more news.

On the other hand, here’s a new theory for ya: Maybe it’s our natural isolation in the Internet age that’s helping limit the spread of a flu virus whose milder virulence could well be tied to its more restricted exposure.

We don’t need a national quarantine when we’re already essentially quarantining ourselves in our little cubby holes, in front of our monitors, surfing rather than socializing. We’re locked out of harm’s way far more than we once were, which could partially explain why this ain’t anywhere close to your granddaddy’s flu. You need to be around people to catch a deadly disease from them. So we might see this as an unintended advantage of our seclusion. Our computers are catching more viruses than we are.

A reason to celebrate? Perhaps. But don’t expect the TV newshounds to be throwing any parties. Their eyebrows are far too busy twitching.

For Fox Sake

I turned on Fox News yesterday for some reason and I'll just say this; they didn't disappoint. This video shows what it was like watching Fox News. Rev. Tim Lovejoy plays the part of me.

Hey you seventh grade dropouts at Fox! The Constitution isn't a formulary on what legislation can and can't be passed. It is not a list what laws can and can not be enacted. It does not say government can reform healthcare nor does it say government can't reform healthcare. It makes provisions for the creation of law. That's kid's stuff. You should know that, and that's why Nancy Pelosi asked your people "are you serious?" I'm wondering the same thing. Oh sweet Jesus.

Most Americans Say U.S. Ready for First Black Former President

A new AOTL poll released today shows the 51 percent of Americans say the U.S. is ready for a black former president. With political experts agreeing that the likelihood of a black former president within the next eight years is great, discussions have begun as to where the racial mood of the country is.

In the poll only 29 percent of respondents felt that America was not ready. The majority of that proportion (89%) resided in the Southern states.

Bill Clinton has been referred to "the first black former president" mainly by the African American voters who felt he was sympathetic to their concerns. While several names including Colin Powell have recently been suggested as possible black former presidents, consensus is growing that Barack Obama is best poised to win the former office.

Countdown To An AOTL Anniversary

Though it isn't exactly a celebration of a time period (it's only been a month and a half) Ahead on the Left is approaching its twenty-fifth post. Thanks to the following people who made the first twenty-five possible through support, comments, and/or spreading the word.

My parents (Ed and Marian Dornell)

Aunt Florney

Cheryl Herrick

Ken Napzok

Dan Campbell

Micki Sackler

Michael Wright

Shelley Tregor

Joseph Bacon

We'd also like to thank Ray Richmond for being the first AOTL guest writer (We'll Always Have Mumbai, 10-18-09)

And thank-you also to all those people with the class to become followers of Ahead on the Left. At AOTL we know you have many options for your blog reading needs. That's why your satisfaction is our number one goal. We hope the next time you go blog reading you choose AOTL. If we could, we'd serve you complimentary booze.
This blog will be updated pending names that have been forgotten.

Advice To Radovan Karadzic

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is currently on trial for genocide which can be pretty serious, but I think I can help him. I just fought a traffic ticket and won! Maybe my strategy can work for him.

Obviously, it's too late for the initial recommendations. he's already in jail, but I'll start at the beginning for the sake of thoroughness.

1. Be courteous to your arresting officer.

Just like you, the officer issuing your genocide citation is just someone with a job to do. Arguing with him/her will only make him or her/her more angry and less likely to see things your way.

2. Plead your case to the officer with dignity.

If you actually did commit genocide, admit it. This will put the officer at ease and make it more likely you will be given leniency or even a warning!

3. Be timely with all legal correspondence.

In the event you were unable to convince the officer to let you go you will be contacted by the court by mail. Respond to any request for a reply on time. You may think "it's only genocide. It's not important" but the court takes it very seriously.

4. Don't be discouraged.

Anything can happen in your favor after this point so stay positive. You first want to put off any court dates as long they will allow. Time is your friend. For example if the arresting officer has moved or is no longer an officer your genocide charge is automatically dismissed.

5. Don't miss your trial.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people get scared of their genocide hearing or just flake. This will only make the judge find you guilty.

6. Where a suit.

Judges are used to genocide defendants showing up in tank tops, sagging shorts, or Daisy Dukes. To make yourself stand out, dress to impress. Let the court know you take the process seriously.

7. Be likable.

The judge is more likely to be on your side if you seem like a nice, considerate person. Be respectful. Remember to take your hat off. Don't have your iPod playing. Be concise and to the point. Don't waste the judges time. Never start a sentence with "yeah I committed genocide, but..."

8. Don't overreact when you hear the verdict.

The judge may rule against you in which case you will want to remain calm. Save any tantrums for when you go home later. When the time comes you can either accept the judges verdict or you can walk to the clerks office and request an appeal.

9. Discuss alternative sentencing.

If you are found guilty and you accept the judgment you may discuss sentencing alternatives. See if you can work polls in an upcoming election or go to genocide school.

10. If you appeal...

Follow steps three through nine. Remember, don't give up.

AOTL Voter Education Center

I am going to try to maintain a balance between honesty and civility concerning a rising voice among the electorate. I haven't given them a funny name yet, but I think I'm narrowing down some good options. The name will have to reflect their passion and concern for the direction of the country along with their lack of knowledge of what is really going on. I've heard enough about what the Constitution says from people who probably couldn't tell you what Article I of the Constitution addresses.

I don't care that people disagree with me. It does tick me off when people disagree with me without knowing what they're talking about. You can say "freedom" and "liberty" until you're red, white, and blue in the face. It doesn't mean you have a grasp on the issues. So as a service to everyone, AOTL will be promoting voter education through enclosed links to sites with information that every participant in American Democracy should have.

I am happy to provide, first, this link to the U.S. Constitution.

Here's a sample passage from Article II section 2: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

This week I am also happy to offer information on this page indexing bills voted on by the 111th Congress because we really should make an effort to know this stuff even though it's boring as hell.

Good Lord, Get a Dictionary

Before you read this, you may want to look up the word "rogue" in the dictionary. Here's a link:

Okay. At this point you've either looked up "rogue" or you somehow know exactly what the word means in which case we may have the same question in mind; why on Earth would anyone name their autobiography "Going Rogue: An American Life"? Who would look at that definition set and say "one or more of these definitely applies to me"?

Is Sarah Palin stupid? Yes, but no stupider than anyone else, including me. She may even be a little smarter. Or she may just get away with more stuff in spite of her claims of an unprecedented scrutiny on her. There is no positive connotation of this word except its noun use meaning "mischievous person." She refers to herself as "deceitful" and "unprincipled" in the title of her book and no one notices. Wow.

It's been a hell of a year, but for me, this is right up near the top.


Tales From Ye Olde Healthcare Reform Debate

The following text is from a document recently found, believed to be the second half of a speech given on the floor of the House of Representatives by Rep. Theodosius Kucinich of Ohio in 1814. Though only the last page of the draft was found, the re is no argument that the topic of his speech was healthcare reform. This discovery has boosted the argument that healthcare reform has been a national agenda as far back as the fledgling years of our Democracy.

You will notice that the language that was standard then is now seen as archaic.
Not recommended for eighth grade students or younger.

...this specific transvestiture of funds for services performed!

The wife of Mr. Thomas Wayles, Mrs. Thomas Wayles nee Curtis was recommended a serial treatment of eye-pokings after falling ill with hysterical mendacity. As a customer of Worthington, Kerry and Company Securance Mr. Wayles’ wife collected a benefit for six out of thirty-nine prescribed appointments when Worthington, Kerry and Company decided that eye-poking was experimental. Mr. Wayles’ wife died following complications of eye infections brought on directly from the very hysterical mendacity whose treatment cost was the obligation of Worthing Kerry.

Mr. Otis Freeman must pay out of his own hand the cost of his bone softening prescribed by none other than Doctor Flavius Burgoyne, son of Doctor Averil Burgoyne, once the physician of highest renown in all the colonies. At the age of eight demiscore two Mr. Freeman stands painfully overerect due to having bones ten times harder than yours or mine. The cost of his treatment at three ha'penny per annus has led to a second symptom – financial seepage from his sack. He has been singlehandedly maimed by New Newcastle Indemnity and Assurance, a company whose profits last year were in excess of an unmindable five hundred dollars!

“Five hundred dollars” you may say. What comparison could possibly make a man know the tangible value of a fantastic five hundred dollars when the value of this palace of Democracy in which we stand was built at a staggering fee of seventy-five dollars and eighty-nine cents? Five hundred dollars. It is 10,000 times the cost of the Mayflower crossing. It is the approximate combined value of all the wealthiest kingdoms of Islamia. A stack of five hundred single bank notes from the ground upwards would reach to a height of just below my ankle! JUST BELOW MY ANKLE!

Now I ask you, how much money do these randy jacks need? These dastardly cads. These bĂȘtes terribles. When will they stop? And how many more people need suffer? How many more need be condemned to debtor’s prison. How many more people need be laid by simple avoidable ailments such as sallowness, menses, or the number one succumbant in America, farrier’s lung?

Our destiny is clear that when the raiders prey upon the people of America it is a call upon the brotherhood of decency to line up, joined at bosom and buttock and take back that with which the unsavory privateers absconded. We will smoke them out of their coves and under a heavy gay pounding of mortar fire we will board their sloops and take back what is ours. My friends, line up with me now, join me, and we will suck off our enemies, one by one!
Thank-you Mr. Speaker

T.F.K. - 1814

We'll Always Have Mumbai

by Ray Richmond

So there I am late Saturday night with my 88-year-old mother in the emergency ward of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. It is a place I have come to know all too intimately the past eight months as Mom's health has steadily deteriorated, as happens with someone whom has walked the Earth for nearly nine decades. Two of the people working here greet me by my first name, and I, theirs. We are comrades in (IV-poked) arms.

Mom is here because her body is continuing to wear out. She's determined to make it to 90, just because. But she knows the light is beginning to flicker out. She's sufficiently with-it to understand what's going on. She's resigned, and yet stoic. She won't be going without telling the Reaper to fuck off 7 or 8 times. And this night, she's back in the hospital for the sixth time since January because her left leg had stopped working. It had turned blue and cold and dead. A circulatory issue, they called it. I saw it as really shitty and unfair for a woman who had been a popper of vitamins and supplements her entire life.

As they're assessing what to do next at the hospital, they're doing the usual things you do: repeatedly and obsessively taking her blood pressure like an idiot savant performs complex mathematical formulas in his head; drawing blood with a vampire's relentlessness; and finally conducting an ultrasound procedure, the same kind one might to assess the gender and progress of a fetus in utero. The ultrasound evidently can determine if there's a blockage in the leg and where it's at, which is essential when there is a very real risk of gangrene and possible amputation if complications ensue.

I'm waiting with Mom in her room for the ultrasound results when it occurs to me that an inordinate amount of time has passed, even for this hurry-up-and-wait world. After two-and-a-half hours, I decide to ask a shockingly lucid and sociable nurse named Roger (as in "Roger that!") what the hold-up here might be, besides just the usual bureaucratic jerking-off.

"Well," Roger says, "it's tough, because we have to out-source the ultrasound results to India to get a read."

I assume this guy must be kidding. I mean, fuck me. That can't be true. Can it?

"No, I wish it weren't," Roger assures. "We need someone qualified to read these things, and at this time on a weekend night (it was about 1:30 a.m.) we don't have anyone here who can do it. So we're waiting right now to liaise with Mumbai for the results of your mother's vascular procedure."

No, really. Really?

"Really," Roger maintains.

And there you have it in the proverbial fucking nutshell. We were waiting in Burbank, California for some tritip-rejecting medi-dweeb in Mumbai, India -- who probably sits beside someone providing tech support for some pimply-faced schmuck trying to kill out a virus on his Dell desktop -- to look at my mother's blockage some 8,706 miles away and determine what kind of procedure she may require to save her life. Because evidently everyone in this particular hemisphere is at the opera or banging their girlfriend or just generally too fucking busy to give half a shit.

And anyone still questions whether our health care system might be broken? A better question might be whether there's even one left to save.

What I Have In Common With Barack Obama

Before it happened to Barack Obama it happened to me. Twice. True stories. The first time it happened was in the nineties when I was working in a restaurant. It was one of the delivery drivers who asked me one night “are you Muslim?”

What me Muslim? What a random question for a guy stacking glasses and making drinks. I had to know then and there just what the hell he thought was so friggin’ Muslim about me.

“I’m not Muslim. Why?” I asked

“Because you’re polite, you’re educated, you’re intelligent, you’re handsome. I just thought you were Muslim” he said smiling before walking away.

Context is everything and for clarity he was Persian and a Muslim. Generally we spoke in small talk, never really touching on anything like this. It was a unique enough experience for me to ruminate over the next moments. I deduced that there were two likely possibilities for his unprecedented curiosity in my faith and culture. Either a)he actually thought highly enough of me to believe I was Muslim, or b)he was buttering me up so I would put up his delivery drink orders faster.

I might seem paranoid to suggest motive b, but the reality was that servers who sucked up to me got priority. He may have picked up on these work dynamics and this “are you Muslim” thing was his way of laying it on. For me, the question remains; If he was just greasing the wheels, did he actually think that asking if I was a Muslim was the way to my heart? Was it at all possible that he was unaware of the PR issue Muslims have in America? Luckily for him, I'm not an anti-Muslim bigot and I accepted his suspicion as genuine observation of me as an ideal citizen. Either way he got his beverage order filled right fast.

The second time I was mistaken for a Muslim was in the LA airport back in early 2001. I was on my way to Las Vegas for the show I was working on. Ambling between gates to kill time I saw a suit of Black Muslims distributing some print media. I caught the eye of one because he was a young dead ringer for the late Maynard Jackson, a former mayor of Atlanta. I did a double take right into his line of sight. I’m not inclined to engage any strangers soliciting anything, but I never like to duck and dodge Black Muslims handing out papers and I think the reason is because I don’t want them looking at me like I look at black Republicans; that is to say while I respect their opinion, I can’t help but think they are self-hating.

So this opened an exchange of pleasantness between me and Lil’ Malcolm. After our howdy-doos he made mention of my decency in acknowledging him and his mosquemates. Then he asked “are you Muslim?” Two things struck me about that. First I was surprised that he asked in such blunt terms. I would have thought there was some code in the Nation of Islam like “are you a friend of Lou’s” or something like that. Second, a part of me didn’t want to disappoint by just answering no. I tried to think if there was anything in my history I could share with him that linked me to Islam and the only thing I could think about was how my uncle who had been a prison guard used to talk about the Muslim inmates. I decided just to tell him I wasn’t a Muslim and left it at that.

It was truly an increase the peace moment, not too different from that famous photo of King and X except I don’t think Malcolm X hypothesized that King must have been a vegetarian because of his clear complexion. I shit you not. I thanked my Muslim friend, but informed him that I did indeed eat meat and then I relented when he presented his backup theory that I must have drank a lot of water. Then he gave me a copy of The Final Call, the official paper of the Nation of Islam, free of donation. I was moved by his generosity and when I read it I found the writing to be provoking, imaginative and relevant to issues that had expired weeks if not months earlier, just like this blog. I checked the date of the paper and it was a past edition. If it really was a final call to anything, I totally would have missed it.

Oddly enough both of these Muslims who had me summed up all wrong had apportioned enough flattery upon me to make a man less secure with his manhood feel a little uncomfortable. Me, I love compliments. I’d much rather have someone mistake me for a Muslim the way it was done to me over the way it was done to Obama during the 08 campaign. When someone thinks I’m a Muslim they mean “erudite” and “cosmopolitan” and “attractive” (or they want their drinks fast). When they think Obama’s a Muslim they mean “sinister" and "sneaky" and "not white.” Finally, I luck out.

Ideas For A Stimulusless Holiday Season

If you’re like me, you thought by now you’d be doing all your early holiday shopping with a pocket full of cash that you earned on the new tech job you were trained for thanks to the Stimulus Package. You would shoot from mall to mall via high-speed train that runs on change (not the money, but the intangible election promise) and other green energy sources.

Maybe we got our hopes up too high. Maybe we expected the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to be a magic bullet even though President Obama said repeatedly and verbatim “this is not going to be a magic bullet.” That was his cushion. If the stimulus did work miracles Obama could say “I was wrong. Everybody take a house.” But as things have turned out about ten dollars of the $800 billion of available funds have been paid out thus far and once every American takes their cut there isn’t a lot left over for gift shopping and entertaining.

Before any more of you gather the children around the Kitchen Table and tell their sad faces through visible puffs of your warm breath as it hits the frigid air that the rest of the year is cancelled take consideration of these suggestions I just pulled out of my answer bag.

Columbus Day – Every year we pretty much ignore celebrations commemorating the introduction of genocide and tapas to the New World by going about our normal routines. If you didn’t think it possible to scale back on that, guess again. Here’s a fun nighttime activity for a Columbus Day party. If your electricity is still connected turn off the lights. If you have a candle light it. BOOM! You’re on the Santa Maria. Go! Pretend your planning the mutiny against Mr. Columbus long after it’s become clear he’s not the maritime genius he portrayed himself to be. Make it a game. Come up with punishments for him and vote on the best one. Go freestyle and play charades or tell ghost stories, but don’t blow your wad. Remember, Halloween’s right around the corner. Do remain in character though. And don’t eat. No dinner, no snacks, no sodas. It is in this level of role playing where you really see the net money savings.

Halloween – This one is a little creepy, but we’re on a budget. Don’t buy any candy or decorations. Go to your computer and stream Halloween sound effects. At sundown leave the lights off. When trick-or-treaters knock open the door summon them into the darkness. You only have moments before their eyes adjust so work quickly. In any sinister voice you can muster say something to the effect of “open your bags so I can give you treats.” Proceed to stick your hand into each of their candy receptacles and shake it to give the impression that you are depositing candy. If you skipped lunch, help yourself. If you’re a worrier, buy a small cache of candy just in case you happen to be the first house on a kid’s route or if all the other families on your block have taken stock in this same sage advice.

Thanksgiving – This one is a little scummy, but you got to feed your kids. Before you buy a turkey make contact with friends and acquaintances whose company you can bear. Catch up on how hard the recession has hit your family. Inflate the situation like you would on a job resume. Make it clear there will be NO Thanksgiving in your house this year. Then wait for the invitation. Hem and haw for about five seconds before accepting. Ask what you can bring. If the answer is not “We’ll have more than enough, don’t bring a thing” call back in five minutes whispering that your spouse was too proud to accept the invitation. The only cost to this Thanksgiving should be the gas it takes to get there and back. If you can arrange it, just drop the kids off and use the time alone with your better half. If possible, first hit up any gay couples with kids. Those families have big hearts, the need to feel legitimate, and a flair for entertaining. If you feel like a scumbag for not giving back, in the end you gave them a holiday nightmare story they’ll be sharing with your mutual friends for years to come.

Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa – December is a time when Americans of all faiths are put under tacit pressure to make up for however lousy the economy was the previous months. It seems dubious right now that Christ or Buddha can save the 09 shopping season, but that’s no reason to abandon the spirit. You’re probably asking “Tell me how anyone’s supposed to buy presents when everyone is dirt poor?” Well, a little song we all know suggests you can make a dreidel out of clay. Clay is just dirt. That kid made a fully functioning dreidel OUT OF DIRT! Now you might be saying “we don’t know if that dreidl ever turned out. The kid sings ‘when it’s dry and ready, oh dreidel I SHALL play’.” Well I did a search for any additional verses and found “it has a lovely body/ with legs so short and thin/ and when my dreidl’s tired/ it drops and then I win.” While I admit I’m not sure dreidels have legs we do get an indication that the dreidel worked. If some kid could make a spinning top requiring a certain symmetry and balance then you can make a pot pipe and matching ashtray. Pot pipe not your thing? Try a menorah or a kinara or a ceramic Ben Gazarra. Go nuts because that’s really what Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa is all about.

Now you might be saying “we get no indication from the song that the kid is actually a kid. This could be a professional potter: a grown ass man” In that case, you got me.

New Years – Some time before New Years Eve convert to some old religious sect whose doctrine dictates the wages of conspicuous celebration are being locked in a box or something. Quit on the first. You really won’t have missed much. Besides, the only time you should be counting backwards while wasted is during a DUI stop.