Tiz The Sea-zen

I have a friend who I don't see eye-to-eye with politically who, I think, will laugh her ass off when she reads this. Two nights ago she forwarded me an email that appeared to have been sent from a friend of the "original recipient." In other words, it seemed like a third generation email from a friend of a friend of my friend. The gist was that Obamacare was going to force the writer of the email who has cancer to forgo their treatment and instead talk to an end-of-life counselor. It went on to describe how the sympathetic doctor who has no use for socialized medicine could do nothing about it. He then recited some facts about how people in Britain have to forgo placements of heart stents if they are under a certain age or something like that.

I got suspicious by that point so I Googled a phrase from the email and the first link that came up was Snopes. The Snopes article for some reason began on the topic of Natasha Richardson, but quickly went into the loony facts from the email I had been forwarded. The fact that Snopes was apprised of this information indicated that this was not an email written by the friend of a friend of a friend.

I forwarded the link to my friend with the warning that this is why people think Richard Gere has a gerbil stuck in his ass to this day. That pre-Internet rumor was always retold the same way - "This is totally true. A friend of a friend of a friend or something is an emergency room doctor and one night..."

While I was at work yesterday I was sent two emails in response to the link I sent her, but I didn't have the energy to stress about my job AND the bait she was stringing out so I ignored them. Wise choice considering she's watching my dog during the day. If I had read what she sent I probably would have been agitated into sending a response which may have made things awkward. "Fuck you and feed my dog at 5."

Besides, I'm realizing that it's impossible to convince people of what they don't want to believe. Cheers to the people who keep trying. I'd rather let time prove me right. And in the even heart patients start dropping in the streets, it looks like I owe my dogsitter a Coke.

Rent's Not The Only Thing That's Too Damn High

Jimmy McMillan - I will reserve judgment that this guy is too cool until I find out a little more about him. The last thing I would like to do is jump to endorse him in any way before I find out that he has skeletons in his closet, or strewn about his apartment where apparently the rent is too damn high.

McMillan who is currently running for governor of New York on the Rent Is Too Damn High ticket got his say in the gubernatorial debate Monday night and what exactly did he say? You got it; rent is too damn high.

Finally someone is taking attention off of that political ne'er do well Carl Paladino and he's doing it in style. Looking like a cross between a member of the band(s) Parliament/Funkadelic and a character from the movie "Dune," this guy may be a little loopy, but he is impeccably loopy. Some people who are slaves to a certain propriety and therefore poor judges of character may see Jimmy McMillan as pathetic because he does not drone on in safe, innocuous platitudes on various topics. McMillan may be pathetic to those who wear their britches way up their crack, but not to those who applauded him at Monday night's debate who know the rent is too damn high and artificially so like many of the other goods and services for which consumers must shell out their hard-earned dough.

I don't want to imply that what makes Jimmy McMillan so interesting is an appetite for weed. His rent may be so damn high that suing me may be just the sort of rent relief he is looking for, theoretically. I'm NOT saying that Jimmy McMillan owns a two foot glass bong and can identify up to 20 strains of marijuana by smell. I'm NOT saying that Jimmy McMillan spends too much damn money on rent in an apartment that smells like a surfeit of skunks drinking warm Heinecken. I'm NOT saying that you could scrape and sell the residue on Jimmy McMillan's TV remote for a tidy profit. I'm NOT saying Jimmy McMillan's heart smiles every time he hears the word "sticky." All I'm saying is Jimmy McMillan, based on what little I know about him seems like an okay dude. I wish him luck in anything else except this governor's race.

Let's Be Consistent, Bill O'Reilly And Like-Minded People

This past week on "The View," guest Bill O'Reilly said something so typical, it actually got two of the show's co-hosts to hoist themselves up off the couch and truck it backstage to the craft service table for some Red Vines and Cheezits before the segment was over. They were discussing that stupid so-called Ground Zero Mosque (again) when tribal Bill screamed that it should be built somewhere else.

Instead of fuming over bowls of candy and nuts, Whoopie and Joy should have tested Bill's commitment to his own standard. Here's how:

Will O'Reilly and people like him heed suggestions from victims of racially inspired white terrorists, spree killers, assassins, and such as he expects Muslims to follow as a result of the September 11 Attacks? Given patterns of white supremacists acting out, one can argue that Whites are trying to kill us.

Choose your era. From the Ida B. Wells strange fruit years to 2009 when white supremacist Richard Poplawski killed 3 cops because he thought Obama was coming to get his guns; from Klansmen blowing up little girls in a church to Bufford Furrow gunning down kids at a Jewish community center before killing a Filipino mail carrier in Los Angeles; white terrorism is a reality. There is no sense in mitigating it with any nuance. There are white people filled with so much hate and/or paranoia that it drives them to kill. They have done it in the past and there is no reason to expect they won't try again.

If Bill O'Reilly believes that those who culturally resemble perpetrators of terrorist acts should maintain low profiles in the name of good taste, then he should start by taking himself off the air. Then, just like he is doing with New York Muslims, we can establish restraining orders for white people.

Needless to say, I would not expect Bill O'Reilly to go for this. It would put him in the same category as the Muslims he lectures now about decency. Out of his own sense of self-preservation he would argue one of the following:

1. "As abhorrent as these racist acts are, they don't in any way compare to what happened to 'us' on 9/11."

2. "I stand in the great majority of white people who find these racist acts abominable. It is offensive to think that just because I am white I should be punished for the actions of a few racist knuckleheads who happen to be white!"

3. "Exactly who's going to make these arbitrary assignments as to where I can go and what I can do?"

As for argument 1, it is the type of subjective analysis that would be expected from someone who knows they are about to be forensically identified as a hypocrite. It's not the same thing to YOU, Bill O'Reilly.

Argument 2 is a logical response. Bill O'Reilly should not be presumed in cahoots with white supremacists just as Muslim-Americans should not be lumped with murderous extremists.

Argument 3 points out how ridiculous arbitrary assignments are in this situation. Some Mosque opponents have determined what number of blocks from Ground Zero would be appropriate for a Mosque to be built, but that is just a random opinion.

In taking the opinion that he does on this New York Mosque deal, O'Reilly is speaking for a group of people who are not yet identified by name, but I will identify them now; they are People Who Are Angry At Muslims. The case made against the New York Mosque is all about anger from what I hear. Anger may be natural, but it can be dangerous and when people try to justify decisions they make out of anger it affects their integrity.

I won't change my opinion of the proposed location of the New York Mosque, but I will have a little more respect for Bill O'Reilly and people like him when they hold themselves to the same ridiculous standards they expect Muslim people to follow. I'm not holding my breath. There but for the grace of God, Bill.

Beck And Call

I'll save a complete psychological examination of Fox News creature Glenn Beck for another day, but now I will refer to his odd tendency to project the worst parts of his personality unto others. During an interview on his own network following his curious gathering on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August Beck was forced to backtrack on his claim that Barack Obama was a racist who hated white people.

A couple weeks later in a hail of oral palsy Beck continued on his baseless campaign to warn that violence from the left was imminent. Meanwhile, Byron Williams was sitting in jail following a shootout with California Highway Patrols in August. Williams confessed that when officers attempted to pull him over he was on his way to kill personnel at the progressive Tides Foundation.

It just so happens that The Tides Foundation is a frequent target of Beck's, perhaps because they advocate for children's issues and higher education. While Williams did not cite Beck as his inspiration for his attempted spree, he does speak of how Beck "blew his mind" with various screeds that fingered organizations like Tides as threats to right-wing insanity.

Beck continues to deny any ties between himself and right-wing aggression while continuing to do everything but load weapons and put them in the hands of unstable conservatives.

For the Media Matters interview with Byron Williams, click here.

Grenier of "Entourage": I'd Like To Get Into Acting

Adrian Grenier of HBO’s “Entourage” has expressed interest in a new career – acting. “I’ve always been curious about it, but I guess I’ve also probably been equally afraid” said the twenty-something star in the same tones in which he recites lines as his “Entourage” character Vincent Chase.

Grenier is hoping his success on “Entourage” will open doors for him in Hollywood. “It seems once you become famous at one thing it makes getting into acting a lot easier. Look at how many rappers are in movies now. I’m practically a rapper, except I don’t rhyme, I don’t recite my words to music or any beats, and there’s absolutely no emotion or intensity involved.”

“Entourage” will begin its eighth and final season in Summer of 2011.

Trapped Miners Prepare To Return To Their Wives And Mistresses

After over two months, 33 trapped Chilean miners are mentally preparing to be reunited with the 104 women they left behind. In an interview conducted via wireless technology, the spirited singing and laughing seen only days earlier has been replaced by contemplation and perhaps confusion.

“They had originally said they might not be able to get to us out before Christmas” said miner Oscar Saldano. “It’s not even All Saints Day. What the hell? Don’t get me wrong. It’s going to be good to leave this place, but don’t screw with our heads like that. We made plans for Christmas and New Years.” When asked what those plans were Saldano replied “Hanging out down here.”

From over a mile beneath the earth’s surface, heavy machine operator Pedro Saenz lamented “I haven’t heard the sound of my wife yelling about my affairs in two months, nor have I heard my mistress nagging me to leave my wife. It will be sure good to go back to that” he said as he seemed to look over his shoulder before slyly tossing his wallet behind a rock. “We’re all ready to get back though” he continued. “They gave us these special sunglasses so we can face the sun, but what about earplugs.” After a long pause he assured “I’m joking, I’m joking, I’m joking. Really, I’m just joking.”

Mystery Money

Of course the Chamber of Commerce denies it is raising millions in foreign money for the Tea Party, but until they furnish a list of donors, it only causes Tea Party critics to speculate as you can see here.

AOTL's First (and last?) Political Cartoon

The saddest part about this fiasco is that it turned out better than I thought it would. These are the best architectural renderings I've ever done. And I've had no training! I could have spent a little more time on the background, put in some birds, trees, a smiley sun, but I should be focusing on the fact that I captured the mood in Washington with pinpoint accuracy. I think I've talked myself into a new career.

The Squishy Center

This picture is the personification of a phenomenon I refer to as the squishy center. No, I’m not talking about the middle of a Hostess cake treat or candy bar or 80s fad chewing gum. I am referring to about 50% of the American public who freely fluctuate on most items on the U.S. political menu. The squishy center is made up of a fluid, fickle people who seem to painstakingly agonize over which side of an issue to support. Once it seems they have made a decision of what to back, they typically begin to engage in more wavering sometimes even after the issue has been codified into law.

To see how the squishy center behaves, we can track the popularity of gay civil unions for a span of time in 2003. According to Gallup, support for civil unions in May of that year was at 49%. There had been an almost steady increase in support since 2000. Between May 2003 and August 2003 gay marriage had been legalized in parts of Canada, the Episcopal Church elected a gay bishop, and the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to make laws against doing anal (for everyone, not just gay people). By August, support for civil unions had dropped to 37%.

The convergence of these events proved to be too much gay. The proportion of the squishy center that had oozed itself into the “for” column for civil unions oozed back to the “against” or “not sure” categories until the hullabaloo died down. One would think that all of the other news would have encouraged anyone dipping their toes into the waters of this forward-moving stream. It would have accept the right-wing slander squad had done an adequate job of instilling the “floodgate” philosophy that once you support one gay thing the floodgates of the gay agenda will open and it will be your fault.

From that point to now, it has been a losing battle for the conservative regarding civil unions. The squishy center’s support began to cement when the hair of children failed to fall out and cows failed to pass curdled milk as a result of homos legally shacking up. As for the floodgates, the only thing they seemed to be holding back was news that Ricky Martin and that kid from “American Idol” were gay which we already knew. To date we have gone from civil unionery being an issue to having it become a non-issue as it has been replaced by the currently controversial gay marriage which will eventually become a non-issue within the next seven years.

Just as the squishy center settles as they find comfort with an issue, their support will fade once it is apparent things are not going well. Just prior to the Iraq invasion of 2003, the Squishy Center was glopping to and fro, wanting to find a way to support the Bush Administration, but only finding itself able to do so with conditions; we should invade Iraq after giving the weapons inspectors a month to finish their job, only after we have the support of the U.N., only if it is not an opportunity for a company Dick Cheney has worked for to bilk taxpayers, etc.

Following the outbreak of the war, any and all reservations the squishy center had were chucked aside. The U.S. kicked ass at the outset of the invasion therefore it must have been a good idea so thought the squishy center. 79% of Americans thought the war was justified, for a while. By August 2004, 67% of Americans believed the U.S. went to war based on the wrong information yet in November the squishy center pulled through to reelect George W. Bush.

Backing Bush was a signature marker of the squishy center’s tendency to err on the side of the Establishment. As an orderly group, obedience is a strong component of their value system. The Establishment represents all of the things they were taught to trust and respect growing up. But just as they crave the approval of the Establishment, they don’t want to be judged poorly by history. They don’t want to be the anti-suffragists, the segregationists, the Lindberghs, and in 5 years from now they won’t want to have been the death panelers. At the same time, they don’t want to suffer the sting of being caught outside of the mainstream, just like in high school.

Barack Obama has based his priorities on what he knows of the Squishy Center. While he is criticized (for everything including) ramming through health care while he should have been focused on the economy, Obama knew that waiting to pass health care would only give Establishment opponents such as the insurance industry and right-wing opponents such as the Death Panelers more time to infect the brains of the squishy center. He would have less support for his agenda as more time passed. As it was, though Obama won the legislative debate, but he lost the public debate in the immediate aftermath. The opponents effectively placed enough doubts in the minds of the squishy center that opinion had become tilted against what the American voter including a good proportion of the squishy center had actually voted for in November 2008.

Though it’s hardly a watershed, 5% fewer people are “strongly opposed” to the health care legislation now than they were when it was passed. Health care and most other issues usually have a hardened core on the pro side and on the counter side. It can roughly be said that 25% of people initially lined up against the Iraq War, and for civil unions, and for health care reform, while another 25% lined up in lockstep behind the Iraq War, against civil unions (now gay marriage), and against healthcare reform. The squishy center represents about 50% of the people, non-scientifically speaking. Modern politics is about the pursuit of the squishy center. It’s why Republicans slander gays, and make up false weapons claims, and conjure up the notion of death panels. It is not to scare their own rock-ribbed 25% who are already scared into the Republican corner; it is to scare enough of the squishy center just long enough to pull a fast one. I say just long enough because if you have to tell such egregious lies about anything, you will eventually be found out. The squishy center always finds out they’ve been had by the right sooner or later. While they won’t go down in history as crusaders for justice, at least they won’t be remembered as the obstructionists.