Sunday, July 04, 2010

Truest statement of the week

Um, "all style, no substance". Anyone remember this?:

"President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is meeting today as part of its efforts to craft recommendations by December on how best to address America's red-ink problem. [snip]

Yet the president's decision to establish a commission to address a problem he described as potentially catastrophic seems odd in light of his earlier criticism of commissions in general. As Ari Shapiro noted on National Public Radio today, the president mocked the notion of commissions to address problems back when he was a candidate.

Here's Mr. Obama on September 18, 2008, not long after the economic collapse: "Senator McCain’s first answer to this economic crisis was -- get ready for it -- a commission. That's Washington-speak for 'we'll get back to you later.'"

"Folks, we don't need a commission to spend a few years and a lot of taxpayer money to tell us what's going on in our economy," he continued. "We don't need a commission to tell us gas prices are high or that you can't pay your bills. We don't need a commission to tell us you're losing your jobs. We don't need a commission to study this crisis, we need a President who will solve it -- and that's the kind of President I intend to be."

Um, by Obama's own flowery words he stands condemned -- a failure of leadership.

--- "Time To Gloat - Obama's Failure Of Leadership Leads to Calls For A Real Leader" (Hillary Is 44).

Truest statment of the week II

To some of us, the problem is not so much that Obama has proven to be a dismal failure --because we know that he has been a huge success to the ruling class and corporations -- but that partisan politics always overshadows common sense and true peace. We lost a lot of time giving Obama a "chance," and thousands have lost their lives and their ways of life.
I was outraged when, after three days in office, Obama authorized a drone strike into Northern Pakistan that killed dozens of civilians, but I was excoriated for being outraged. I was devastated when he announced an increase in troops (3 times so far) to Afghanistan, and attacked for not caring about Afghan women (the ones our Empire are "protecting" by killing them and their children). I was laughed out of town when I was infuriated that Obama had declared himself "Judge, jury and executioner" of American citizens. People who formerly supported me told me to "shut up and go away, you have had your 15 minutes of fame."
I was deeply hurt and lonely when everyone from celebrities to my friends in the peace-trenches abandoned me for someone who did not even have a principled campaign platform. However, I could not abandon my principles to support someone who did not conform to them.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Where Have all the Peaceniks Gone? by Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soap Box). Cindy Sheehan and Peace Action have already kicked off "Sizzlin Summer: Independence from oil, Free Palestine, Anti-drone & Counter Recruitment Protests, July 4th through July 17th" in DC. For a breakdown of the activities, click here.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Sunday, Sunday.

This is our summer read edition and, along with Dallas, the following worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And all drawings and paintings are by Betty's kids (sometimes with Kat's help). We thank everyone.


If you're new to the site -- or if you drop by frequently like Sharon Smith but are too stupid (like Sharon Smith) to grasp what you have read -- we do the summer read every summer. Have been, in fact, doing it since our first year. So this is our sixth annual summer read.

For those late to the party, let's recap.

The June 26, 2005 edition was our first summer read. Those who worked on that edition were:

Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Kat of Kat's Korner;
and C.I. of The Common Ills

You can also be sure Dallas worked on it as well. The short story content was:

A Fractured Life (the Wally Lamb style book) K-Boy Tries To Get Back Home (a horrific parable) The Gleeful Boy (the Sue Miller type read) Summer poetry: "Filling the Well" Peek (the summer page turner) Kooky Cokie Roberts offers up advice

and rounding out that summer read edition:

Five Books, Five Minutes, Editorial: Mainstream Press Do Your Homework on the pre-invasion bombings and TV Review OC: The arm pit of body wash operettas

The June 4, 2006 edition was our second summer read. Working on that edition (along with Dallas) were:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot.

The fiction offered:

Song of the War Hawks Super Laura?
Once upon a time there were plenty of Baby Dumbasses
Sherman's Story
From a diary found in the Mayflower Hotel
The ones we never know
TV: TESR Investigates

June 24, 2007 was our third edition. Along with Dallas, the following helped:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

And we produced:

TV: Hidden Yawns
Base Is Hell
The Tired Tryst
The Asbury Park Murder
Creation Theory
Samantha Power Between Her Knees
Cut The Fat! Newt Takes It Off!

June 22, 2008 was our fourth edition and along with Dallas, the following worked on it:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,

And our summer reads included:

TV: Breaking what?
New York Times, Early Edition
The non-whistle blower
Bee-bees and cockle bugs

June 21, 2009 was our summer read last year, worked on by Dallas and:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ann who's filling in for Ruth at Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

And our efforts were:

TV: Fiction

The curse

Hey there! Marilyn Monroe is using Twitter.

Clooney's Dark Secrets

Summer reads

The Dumb Ass Hour every Saturday morning

The wedding day

The house

The literary ranter

Summer reads?

We don't fancy ourselves literary giants. We are, however, familiar that short stories -- and poems -- used to abound in many magazines -- some of which still exist today but offer no fiction, no poems, no fiction reviews. Rolling Stone, for example, when it actually did album reviews, used to run little poems on those pages.

Rolling Stone, in fact, is why we do a fiction review. One of our (Dona, Jess, Ava, Ty and me -- Jim) college professors came into class with a group of magazines one day (this is probably 2003 or 2004) and dumped them around various groups. Our group got a Rolling Stone from the eighties. We don't remember the cover. But the issue boasted it was a summer read.

It contained the first of the Bonfire of the Vanities excerpts. It also contained a short story by Stephen King and one by Jackie Collins ("Rock Star," Dona thinks was the name of Collins' short story). It contained many other things as well.

But with each magazine, the professor wanted the class to figure out what was different from that issue and today. We rightly guessed that Rolling Stone doesn't do a summer fiction edition anymore.

So each summer, we've done it. We haven't rocked the literary world by any means, but we have demonstrated it is possible to do one. Others may offer excuses, but we know it's possible. And we wish everyone would consider doing a piece of summer fiction at their sites. Forget whether it's 'good' or 'bad,' just attempt something, just break the pattern and try to create.

Even when we have an awful session (2008 or 2007 was our worst by our judgment), it helps the next edition in ways we'd never have guessed.

It's always good to try to stretch.

Which explains this writing edition. But we'll get to it.

First what are we offering?

As usual we offer a truest (two in fact). This is Hillary Is 44. Were we not doing a fiction edition, we would have done a piece just on this catch. We hope you will add water and expand.
Cindy Sheehan and she's back in DC taking on the War Machine.

Our editorial. Credit to Wally and Ann for the theme because we had none. We wrote this right after stuff started going up. "Highlights" for example, had just been posted.

And so begins the fiction edition, with this piece by Ava and C.I. Due to a number of problems, we (Dona and I) suggested killing the fiction edition, doing it next weekend. Ava and C.I. were insistent that they'd already written this piece, it needed to run today and there was no way they could do another like it next week. And they reminded us of the last year when they wrote a piece for the summer edition and then I killed the edition (but their piece still ran).

Our devoted reader Sharon Smith writes in. Which allows us to roundtable on parody, on reading and oh-so much more. Sharon, I'm glad your one of our biggest fans. When I think of you, I'll always picture Kathy Bates.

Ava and C.I. had written their TV commentary. We'd done the Sharon Smith roundtable. There was some talk of truests (though they weren't picked) and we'd written this when we hit a wall. All the ideas were the same idea. And it wasn't working. Not at all. Jess, Ava, C.I., Elaine and I went for a walk. We didn't know what to do. It was now too late to scrap the edition unless people had news topics at the ready. But the edition wasn't working. The five of us were the most awake (before the walk, but surely during the walk) and we spit balled ideas. Finally, the ladies proposed Collages. An Anais Nin book of interlocking stories (not unlike her Cites of the Interior but on a smaller scale). What if, they suggested, we do write what people are suggesting but from different angles. What if, instead of telling several different stories in our summer read, we carry one story all the way through. "Like Nashville," Jess said (referring to the movie), "and we just focus on different aspects in each short story." So that's what we decided to do. This one had taken us into a 'creative class' neighborhood as Mia and Chance moved in. Neighbors Kimberly, Sylvia, Mark, Jim and Susan were introduced and, at the end, Mia dies. It's 2007.

So Mia's sister hires a private detective. Who's not very smart but is intuitive at times. This revolves around him and Mark and Chance as well as new character Sharon Smith. It's 2008.

And taking us to after the election. 2009. Sharon, still infected, writes in the manner that only she can. Humor.
We get the backstory on what happened. SciFi. Or SciFy as the channel now calls itself.

And what of those legion of volunteers infected. We see them before the election and after.

Beautiful friend, the end.
The regular feature that Mike and the gang do and we thank them for it.

We thank you -- yes, even you, Sharon Smith -- for reading. We'll be back with a regular edition next week. If we're around in 2011 (Elaine, Ava and C.I. hope we've closed shop by then), we'll have another summer read. Hopefully, something makes you laugh, groan or angry. Makes you feel alive.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Hypocrisy is not a left value

Hypocrisy should not be a political value.

As lefties, we'll leave it for the right to police their own; however, we will hold our own ranks accountable.

2008 was one of the most appalling and illuminating years.

Red Sky

We saw that inexcusable behaviors would either be minimized or outright ignored in order to whore for a candidate.

Which is how Barack Obama was able to stage a campaign event in South Carolina back in November 2007 featuring numerous homophobes on stage and get away with it. FAIR provided no action alert. Semi-closeted lesbian Laura Flanders chose to misdirect by asking Barack to break with Richard Daley over torture. Only The Progressive and the Black Agenda Report called out a leading Democratic candidate for the party's presidential nomination use of homophobia.

Mere months later, Amy Goodman and the anti-religious religious fanatic would slam John McCain because an endorser of his was a homophobe. Suddenly, homophobia mattered again. Until Barack got his homophobes back out to meet and greet for the 'swing-state tour' leading up to the general election.

Then, yet again, all was quiet on the left front.

Sexism was repeatedly ignored.

Katrina vanden Heuvel showed a bit of bravery calling out MSNBC vermin who suggested Hillary was "pimping" her daughter. In part, it was brave because it was one of the few times that The Nation bothered to call out sexism. It wasn't just The Nation ignoring the sexism. Though FAIR's CounterSpin found real racism and what they pretended was racism to call out every week of the fall of 2007 through 2009, they only found time to call out sexism once -- for one brief sentence -- at the end of May 2008. Back to The Nation, Katha Pollitt would reveal in the summer of 2008 (in a column calling out sexist Tom Hayden) that she was "doing my part" for Barack by refusing to call out sexism. Gee, Katha, when did you become a Barackist? We'd thought you were still pretending to be a feminist.

Feminism doesn't allow anyone the luxury of ignoring sexism.

Now, as you look around, you see the damages you've created by your silences.

Guess what?

There's more damage to come.

As Grace once warned Will, (Will & Grace, Alley Cats), "Oh, oh, and by the way, once you let Jeannie out of the bottle, there's no way she's going back to that little circle couch."

And as for you who built this Frankenstein monster -- either via whoring or silence -- you own him. Don't think you can show up -- Norman Solomon, Kevin Zeese, David Swanson, et al -- and pretend like your own hands are clean. You need to publicly take accountability for your actions.

For years and years, the likes of FAIR have attacked MSM reporters and pundits for being wrong and not admitting to their mistakes. Yet it's 2010 and to hear the newly emerging from the womb critics of Barack tell it, they were always critics of Barack, they were always warning you (Alexander Cockburn is one of the worst at this -- forgetting that he went back and forth every month on whether he was trashing Barack or cheering him on).

It's not just time to get accountable. It's time to get serious about what the so-called media of the left is supposed to be doing.

It is not supposed to be a Democratic Party organ. Come 2012, the refusal to cover Green Party and independent candidates, the refusal to do anything other than shill for the Democratic Party in an attempt to elect a Democratic President will be very, very obvious. We think your hypocrisy has already exposed you as the whores you are. But the thing about whores is, it's so very hard for them to pass up a buck. Meaning 2012 might feature even more exposures. Don't forget, the world is watching.

TV: Persons Unknown, Plots Pretty Standard

One minute we were partying in DC, the next we were discovering that there apparently is a Podunk but where the hell it is on the map is anyone's guess.


At first we thought we were on the backlot where the too-good-for-ABC Eastwick was filmed. Then Katrina vanden Heuvel lookalike Moira Doherty (Tina Holmes) came running up in her robe acting delusional, excited and not-all-there. In other words, it was Katrina as usual. She was babbling away about something and we tuned her out because we had spotted what must be town's only hotel. Hoping a nice suite was still available, we hot-footed over leaving Katrina/Moria still yammering.

Tori Fairchild's old digs were available because she's left -- for where, no one seems to know. But Katrina/Moria, still tailing us, insists Tori was supposed to be "like Meghan McCain." Except Meghan's father's a senator (not an ambassador), her mother is still alive and nothing in the storyline suggests the McCains. Katrina/Moria insisted we're "too hung up on facts" and that statement, coming from an alleged journalist, may be scarier than being trapped in the middle of nowhere.

Checked in, we decide to go looking around. We're wondering through the more or less deserted town (Katrina trailing us in that awful bathrobe) when we come across a Chinese restaurant and decide to step inside. No sooner have we ordered sweet & sour shrimp from Asian and/or Asian-American wait staff than Sgt Graham McNair (Chadwick Boseman) arives. He tells us he served in Iraq and we're eager to talk the Iraq War but he just wants to talk about how long he's been stuck here, who else is here and how no one can ever get out. The whole perimeter of the town is controlled by some sort of electric force field or something.

"We try and we try," he tells us, "but we can't get out."

He offers this detailed description of their attempt to tunnel out and how that failed -- something about gas. We don't know, we don't care. We're stuffed. Not on Chinese, but on backstory. It sure takes a lot to catch the casual viewer up.

So a group of people are all stuck in Podunk. They don't know who trapped them or why. They're not sure who to trust.

The sergeant wondered if we too weren't raked with doubts and wondering who could have done this to us, who could hate us that much?

We agreed there was a long list but noted the toy poodle of the radical set Sharon Smith appeared to have moved to the top of the list. We explained to the sergeant that we really weren't worried because we had a number of friends in an upstate New York coven and they were, we were sure, already working on a protective spell to get us the hell out of here. (What? We can't have a backstory too?)

What we were worried about was billing. Janet Cooper, Janet Cooper -- that's all the sergeant talked about. Who is this Janet Cooper (Daisy Betts)? As we were about to break open our fortune cookies, she showed up. And quickly began pouring out her own recap. Will it ever end?

As she continues explaining something about a daughter back in San Francisco, we try to waive for the check, eye the exit and realize she's the Alice MacKenzie of this group. Translation, she's no threat to us.

Janet's insisting that she made it into a taxi once -- with Joe Tucker (Jason Wiles) -- and they made it out of town but, right after, they had a flat and while the cab driver -- who didn't speak English -- changed the tire, a black 18-wheeler ran over the cab and driver.

"It was awful," she insisted.

Like your acting, we wondered?

Unfortunately, we wondered that out loud.

Or fortunately since it caused Janet to leave in a huff.

Something was taking place outside. Were people . . . stripping?

Sgt Graham explained that was the rest of the group and that Katrina/Moria had the need to see everyone in their underwear from time to time. Some fetish she'd inherited from her father, no doubt. So every now and then, the entire group stripped down to keep her happy.

Well, when in Podunk . . .

"You have no ports!" Katrina/Moria gasped, a hand on each of our legs, a hand running up the inside of each of our legs. We swatted her hands away as she explained that all the others had ports, that medicine was administered via remote control through the ports.

"But you have no ports!"

She began screaming for Joe to strip and we might have stopped her but, hubba-hubba and Beefsteak Charlie, get us some A-1 sauce with that.


We just stood back and admired the show. We might have gotten closer but we noticed that Tom Hayden had already staked a claim to the rear view.

"Tom," we called out, waiving hello, and grasping that this obviously wasn't an exclusive resort and just about anyone could get in.

Walking over, he insisted we call him Charlie Morse (Alan Ruck) and explained he had a rich wife and he killed her -- that we can believe -- and that's his entire backstory, at least thus far.

Joe had his clothes back on, so we were bored. Janet was pointing out that there were cameras all over the place and, just then, footage of Tom/Charlie strangling his rich wife was flashed on monitors all over the town square.

Plot points, we realized, were a lot like Chinese food, an hour later, you forgot them and were hungry for more.

But that's how it was.

Start a day by, for the first time, noting that Joe was allergic to bees and, before the end of the day, bees would swarm all over Joe.

Some call it intrigue but everyone we knew would call it bad writing and point out that things like bee allergies should have been written in at the start or else it appeared like it was being made up as they went along.

"What are you doing!" hollered Tom/Charlie as we were online attempting to order a pizza.

He ripped our laptop away from us.

"It was delivery!" we insisted.

"It was DiGiorno," smiled Katrina/Moria , preening at the camera. Oh, good heavens, what a priss and what a product placement.

We might have weighed in on that but Tom/Charlie had tossed our laptop onto the ground.

"That laptop went with us everywhere! Rome, Berlin, Paris, London!" we hollered in unison.

Then laughed at our own little inside joke, enjoying it all the more because no one else got it.

See, we'd just cast ourselves in the Tallulah role. Bankhead, for those not familiar. Her one sole box office hit, Lifeboat. If you've seen the film, you've pretty much seen Persons Unknown. It was Lifeboat transferred to a small town.

We used a cell phone to call a cab, careful not to let Tom/Charlie see us making the call, lest he stomp on our phone as well. Then we made small talk and pretended to be all caught up in what might happen next and who was behind it all and . . .

Honk! Honk!

Hopping into our cab, we told the driver to hit the gas and get the hell out of here. Viewers might stick around for thirteen weeks (NBC Mondays -- here for the Hulu page) but the only thing that could have kept us for a moment more was the promise that Joe would strip down again. Since that didn't seem likely, we felt it was time to head out. In Lifeboat, Walter Slezak leads the survivors straight to the Germans, who knows where Tom Hayden would have led us? Translation, Stop This 'Homage,' We Want To Get Off.

The Sharon Smith Roundtable

Jim: This is our reading roundtable because reading is fundamental, unless you're Sharon Smith. Our e-mail address is and, should you forget it, Sharon Smith will happily provide it to you. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, and me, Jim; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; and Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz). As always with roundtables, this is a rush transcript. Others wanted to participate as well; however, Sharon Smith, in all her infinite lack of wisdom, launched an attack on Third and specifically on Ava, C.I. and Elaine. Ty?


Ty: We've done parodies since our first year online. We did several parodies of CJR, for example. And the reaction? One CJR-er was a little miffed and puzzled, three wrote to say how much they loved it. We did a parody of The Nation and The Progressive in which we heard nothing from anyone working for The Progressive but we heard a ton from people working for The Nation. All of whom thought it was funny. This should not be confused with our parody of a Nation cruise, by the way. But we've done numerous parodies since we started and never once has anyone written to 'inform us' that parody is a crime. One time, Ava and C.I. parodied a name journalist who e-mailed to say they found it "wickedly funny." Last week, we did another parody, "US (SR) Socialist Worker (Parody)." Along with those of us participating in this roundtable, the following also helped write that parody: Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, and Dallas. This parody appears to have bothered Sharon Smith but what really ticked her off was "Excerpt: A People's History of Children's Stories." That was part of the parody, written by Ava, C.I. and Elaine and written to pitch the parody.

Jim: I was the one who nixed a parody of US Socialist Worker. I nixed it because we'd done some really strong parodies in the past and I wasn't sure we could pull off one equal to the previous ones. For a number of reasons including that we have so many people working on the writing now. Elaine has been pitching a parody for at least two months now. And I have encouraged her to do it at her site. But I just didn't think we could pull it off here. Normally, as one vote, I could easily be outvoted; however, I was a very strong no. During the last two or so months when Elaine pitched it, there was one week where C.I. said forget it. She said that because she was exhausted and sick -- that's the edition where she and Ava had some bug and were throwing up throughout -- as noted in that week's "A note to the readers." Otherwise, they were for it and others were willing to give it a try. I was the holding block. I said no until last week when, as part of the deal, Ava and C.I. agreed they'd write a bonus feature taking on some of the hypocrites and, in passing, Elaine began to read out loud "Excerpt: A People's History of Children's Stories" -- when I heard that, I knew we could do it. That's the background here. I need to toss to Elaine.

Elaine: Briefly, US Socialist Worker -- and we highlight Great Britian's Socialist Worker in this community, for those confused as to the "US Socialist Worker" designation -- has been a joke for some time. It exists mainly to tear women down. Especially women in the arts. It exists to justify and apologize for Barack Obama. It failed, in 2008, to take a principaled stand and endorse either Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney. FYI, this community endorsed Ralph. Socialist Worker covered for War Hawk Barry Bomber. I think Cindy Sheehan calls him "Barry Obomber." There was never any reason for Socialist Worker to sing Barack's praises.

Ty: But they did and did so because they consider him Black. Let me be the one to put that on the record. You don't get Whiter than the US Socialist Worker. It's Jew, Jew, Anglo, Jew, Jew, Anglo. You notice if you're African-American. It's probably the first thing I ever noticed about it. How very White it was. And like many knee-jerk 'radicals' they see African-Americans as simpletons. So we must be praised and stroked. Which was what the refusal to call out the African-American community that voted for Prop 8 in our state was. Instead, Socialist Worker offered excuses including that there was no 'outreach' to the African-American community. What a load of crap. I'm so sick of The Honky News from Socialist Worker. I know Anglo Sharon thinks she's some sort of martyr for marrying outside her 'sect' -- I use that term intentionally. But they're too chicken s**t to criticize a mixed man they see as Black. Lee Sustar has probably been the strongest critic the magazine's had -- other than John Pilger but they just repost Pilger's writing. But all this time later, their weak criticism is a joke.

Dona: So Sharon Smith wrote us a letter and everyone who's seen it has laughed. Jim wrote a reply to her informing her that this would be roundtabled. I wrote her and I believe Jess wrote her. Ty was busy with work and Ava and C.I.'s attitude was, "We have better things to do than worry about Sharon Smith and her curious ideas." As Jim noted, the e-mail smeared all of us participating but it was especially aimed at Ava, C.I. and Elaine. Jim forwarded the e-mail to Elaine who wrote "Sharon Smith is such a s**t" last week in response.

Jim: So let's move to Sharon Smith. Wait, actually, Jess, in your e-mail to Smith, you made a point that I want to get on the record. Re: Smith and Naomi Klein.

Jess: Oh, right. I pointed out that when everyone online was either ignoring or attacking Sharon Smith in March 2005 for her critique of and calling out of Naomi Klein, C.I. publicly defended Smith at The Common Ills. Sharon didn't feel the need to write then, now did she? And no one, no one was defending her online except C.I. when Smith wrote that piece.

Jim: True that. Sharon's e-mail opens, "I have been avoiding your cynical site without comment for a couple of years" -- dissect.

Dona: The first thing to point out is "cynical site." Are we cynical? Maybe to some we are, maybe to others we aren't. But she clearly finds us to be cynical and she grades that as a bad thing. Indicating Sharon Smith is both an ass and an idiot. I.F. Stone spoke and wrote of the need for skepticism. Sharon would rather smoke her Hopium apparently.

Jim: Continuing, "(because it is not worth the time and effort),"

Ava: That Sharon Smith's lazy should not come as news to anyone who's read her writing which always indicates she's 'labored' for approximately 10 seconds before serving up her instant opinions -- just add water -- and dashing off another column passed off as reporting.

Jim: Continuing, "but I find myself compelled to respond to your recent parody noted above."

Ava: Poor dear, she's hearing voices.

Jim: And she's referring to "Howard Zinn in parody." She continues "How could you possibly make fun of Howard Zinn, who devoted his life to educating people about the actual history of the U.S."

Jess: And who the hell is she to decide what qualifies as parody and doesn't? Who the hell is this whore to decide Howard Zinn is off limits in a parody. Kiss my f**king ass.

C.I.: It needs to be noted that Howard Zinn has a complicated life. Elaine and I have been very kind, we may not be in this piece. Depending on how angry we get, we may be outing a few things about Zinn or not. Let's put it this way, the safety's off the gun.

Elaine: And it needs to be noted that Zinn isn't considered the wonderful historian by everyone. While we praised him repeatedly -- July 2008 is when we walked away from Zinn, that's when he began whoring -- his history is subjective and there are people who disagree with many of his findings. Sharon Smith should get out more and try reading.

Jim: She continues: "-- simply because he had a relationship with the ISO? Your sectarianism is beyond belief."

Ty: And that's where I really had to ask: What the f**k? What would the International Organization for Standardization have to do with any of us? So I called Elaine and she explained it was the International Socialist Organization. I couldn't stop laughing at what a stupid piece of work Sharon Smith was. What an idiot and ass.

Jess: Exactly, the toy poodle radical wants to lecture others and doesn't know what the hell she's talking about -- AS USUAL. And as usual, she's the poor little victim. We must hate ISO to do a parody, in her mind. It's the whole world against Sharon Smith.

Dona: To clarify, we do not belong to any "sect," Sharon. The "sectarianism" you think you see is nothing but the ugly chip on your shoulder. We're of the left and your ignorance is astounding. Howard Zinn was an open Socialist. We have no problems with any Socialist or Communists who don't hide in political closests.

Jim: It was a parody. It was an attack on your trivialization of real issues, to be sure, but we did not attack your politics in the parody. C.I., for example, was very clear before a word was written that the Lee Sustar parody would focus on food and TV and not on Lee's politics. We parodied his ability to attend an End the Wars seminar and reduce it to nearly nothing in a lengthy article. But we notice that Iraq's been forgotten by Socialist Worker US for some time. We could have attacked the politics very easily because, Sharon Smith, you have your own sect going. You're ripe for parody.

Elaine: The only exception to that was Dave Zirin whom I loathe. Hairyback can f**k off and die. Mike's my lover and I don't appreciate the way Dave Zirin has repeatedly attempted to dick Mike around. Dave's 'politics'? Scream "Racism!" over and over. His politics were parodied.

C.I.: I want to jump in for a moment and just ask Sharon Smith where she stands on 9-11? This community, at all sites, has been very clear that our take on the 9-11 Truth Movement is, "More power to you. We're focused on other things, but we're not going to attack you. Those who studied JFK's assassination dug up and brought to light many important historical facts that otherwise would not be known. At a bare minimum, we're sure the 9-11 Truth Movement will do the same." That's our position. What's your position, Sharon? And more importantly, since Elaine and I knew Howard very well and for many decades, should we, Elaine and I, go public with Howard Zinn's thoughts re: 9/11? If we are attempting to attack him and destroy his reputation, we could certainly quote from any number of letters, we could scan them and post them here as PDF files. Translation, you're sitting on a powder keg, little girl, don't light a match.

Jim: Back to the screeching Sharon, "You might want to rethink your entire approach to US politics, which seems to be based on degrading those who take action to change the world, while you sit by as passive (and cynical) bystanders." Jess?

Jess: What the hell was that? Stupid ass writing us? F**k her. F**k her. What the hell does she do? I e-mailed the dumb ass to inform her that Ava and C.I. are out there forty-six weeks of the year on the road speaking out against the illegal war. They're doing that on their own dime, on their own time, they're not writing a book about it, making a movie about it or trying to become famous off of it. They charge no speaking fee, they charge no lodging fee. They accept no money at all. So who the hell is the Sharon Smith ass to question them?

Jim: And --

Jess: Hold on, Jim. That's what I stressed in my e-mail. I need to add on Elaine. F**k you, Sharon Smith. Since 2004, Elaine has been treating veterans. Exclusively veterans. Since 2005, she's tossed aside payment and done it all pro bono. Yes, Elaine has money and was born into it. But she's been to the office at least forty-eight weeks a year, donating her time to veterans, paying for her offices, paying her assistant Sunny and taking no money in. So f**k you, Sharon Smith. F**k you and your idiot ass.

Jim: I would agree with that. And I'm sure Elaine's uncomfortable that we're noting it here but it needs to be noted. Usually C.I.'s the only one who can get away with noting it. But Elaine's entire practice now is pro bono. She's not made a cent off it since 2005. The idea that you're going to question someone's priorities and not know what they do? Sharon Smith's a damn fool. Now in terms of journalism, it's already been noted that Sharon writes e-z-bake columns. I believe C.I. reported on three Congressional hearings she attended last week at TCI [see "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot"] and on the first day of Elena Kagan's confirmation hearing for Hilda's Mix. What the hell does Sharon Smith do?

Ty: And that's really a question that people kept asking us as we circulated Sharon Smith's e-mail. What do they do? They don't report. They take a topic and write a column. Okay. Fine. But shouldn't Socialist Worker include a little work? Great Britian's Socialist Worker features actual reporting.

Jim: Sharon Smith continued, "Congratulations if this is all you wish to achieve (which, in my opinion, is not very much)." Sharon, you've achieved nothing. When you attacked Amy Goodman for not covering your husband's problems, people could have taken offense, the way you did over a parody of Howard Zinn. We didn't take offense. We don't play sacred cows. You obviously feel you live among them. Moooo, Sharon, Moooo. "Hope you all sleep well at night." We sleep just fine. We're sorry if your sex life is so unsatisfactory that you don't. We're sorry, but we're not surprised. Dona?

Dona: We will parody anyone we want at anytime we want and it will be free speech and you can kiss our damn asses. Sharon Smith emerges from the Cult of St. Barack just long enough to dash off an embarrassing e-mail. She should have stayed with her cult.

Elaine: And our parody of Howard Zinn was kind. Certainly we could never destroy his reputation the way he did as he rushed to endorse Barack Obama. When he found out how many people he'd outraged, he immediately 'retracted' his endorsement. Sort of. Within months, he was acting as if the retraction never took place. He also foolishly allowed his name to be used for a Barack 'ball' in January 2009. Do not give us the whiny b.s. Yes, we know, he had the sense not to attend. But he allowed them to use his name. He could have pulled his name. He refused to do so. Skin color did not make Barack less of War Hawk. It did not make him less of a Corporatist. While Socialist Worker -- US -- stayed silent about Barack's opting out of public funding for the general election, this community did not. At all of our sites, we called the move out. At all of our sites, we recognized it as a serious threat to clean and fair elections.

Ava: And Socialist Worker could have and should have led the way with a critique of Barack from the left. Instead, they got caught up in the game that so many on the left claimed Hillary would force them to play -- where they'd be defending her just because she was under attack from the right. That's all Socialist Worker did: Defend Barack from the right. And what do we have to show for that?

C.I.: Every American is forced to buy insurance -- a win for the corporations. We don't have single-payer, universal health care. But damned if Socialist Worker didn't run interference for Barack for months. Why was that? Why is Socialist Worker so damned consumed with defending a Democrat? That's a question its readers have long asked and its writers and editors have avoided answering. We didn't get the end to either the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars. We got a new, drone war on Pakistan. When the hell has Socialist Worker provided leadership in the last two years? It hasn't. It's run one article after another swearing that this state was racist, or America was racist or some other bulls**t.

Elaine: Because it's a bulls**t publication by bulls**t artists. You claim to be the friend of the working class but you can't stop hurling insults at them. How do you ever expect to reach anyone -- and I believe your theoretical gods demand that you reach beyond your inner circle -- when all you do is hurl insults at people, charges you can't even prove. But don't they make you feel good.

Ava, C.I. and Elaine [singing together from Joni Mitchell's "Help Me"]: You danced with the lady with the hole in her stocking, didn't it feel good, didn't it feel good, didn't it feel good?

C.I.: There were plenty of reasons for working class voters not to buy into Barack's hopium. They, unlike the 'creative class,' don't have the luxury of pie-in-the-sky. They've got to put food on the table, they're a pay check away from being homeless or carless at any moment. They need someone with a track record. Barack had none. And his insulting comments about working class people were appalling -- whether he was going off on working class, African-American fathers or working class people who owned guns or working class people opposed to so-called 'free trade'. Everything we're seeing now -- from his inability to act to his going down on corporations and swallowing -- was all evident before Nancy Pelosi gifted him with the nomination by refusing to allow a vote at the DNC convention -- something Socialist Worker never reported on. Nancy stopped the vote. I can't remember a time in my life when the delegates at the convention were not allowed to vote. Sharon Smith, our writing track record stands, your own is in serious question.

Jim: If we wanted a war with Socialist Worker, we'd have a war with you. We'd mock your politics and whatever it is right now that you're pretending to stand for, we'd fact check you week after week catching you in one lie after another. Instead, we've largely ignored you. We have repeatedly praised ISR and we've also criticized it a few times. A fact Sharon Smith is unfamiliar with but then Sharon has a distant relationship with most facts. Thanks for writing, you provided us with more laughs than you could ever imagine.

The new neighborhood

It was a manicured lawn. It was a green manicured lawn. It was one deep green, manicured lawn after another. If they'd been playing slug-bug with green lawns, they'd both be badly bruised by the time they pulled into the drive way of their new home.

"Hello. We're so very glad to meet you."

Chance and Mia were carrying small items from the trunk of the car to their new home when the neighbors stepped over, beaming.

"We're so very, very glad to meet you," said the man pumping Chance's hand.

Mia judged them to be well meaning if not particularly well mannered. It's not as if the couple brought with them, for example, a casserole.

The lack of manners and the couple themselves were quickly forgotten as Mia and Chance unpacked what boxes they could before collapsing on the mattress. Too wired to sleep, too tired to make out, they entertained one another with fantasies of what the new house would bring. Fantasies were good for them, they were of the 'creative class.'


The next morning, they both overslept, neither remembering to set the alarm on the clock and both insisting the other had promised to do it. Chance had the day off but Mia had to head to the office.

"Meaning I get to drag everything out to the trash can," Chance observed.

And he did. A little after eight o'clock. Bumping into another neighbor as he did, carrying a large pan covered in foil.

"Don't ask," she said indicating the pan, a cigarette dangling from her mouth. "Brisket. Or attempted brisket. You might say it was slaughtered twice."

She dumped the pan and all into the trash can, took a drag off her cigarette, sizing him up.

"Sylvia," she said extending her hand.

"Chance," he replied shaking it. "We just moved in yesterday. It seems like a . . ."

"Hon, forget coffee. I haven't had my morning shower yet. Let me take care of that, come over in 15 and you can tell me all about yourself."

Waving, she headed back to her house.

Fifteen minutes later, he strolled over and was about to knock when he heard her yell, "Come on in, it's open."

Walking through the entry way, he was taken aback by the large poster of US Senator Barack Obama.

"My husband was a blogger. Now he works for a news weekly. He's obsessed with Obama."

Chance took the coffee mug Sylvia was holding out.

"I really haven't thought much about the election. It's like a year away."

"I know," she agreed. "But anyone's got to be better than Bush, right?"

Nodding, he followed her to the kitchen where he outlined his wife and his life thus far and she caught him up on the neighborhood.

"My husband, Mark, thinks the world's problems can be boiled down to 'too many hypocrites'," Sylvia explained lighting a cigarette.

Chance shrugged and nodded.

"Meanwhile, the little prince doesn't wash a dish, doesn't do a load of laundry and is a little too fond of Quentin Tarantino films if you get my meaning."

"He's gay?"

"No. No. Progressive. Not gay. At least, I don't think so. But, no, I was referring to the constant use of the n-word. He thinks it's okay for him to use it if he's 'quoting' the movie. So what about you and -- Mia? -- Mia. Okay. What about you and Mia?"

"Well, we're Democrats."

"Good. Everyone on the block except for Jim and Susan are Democrats or progressives. Those two are the block's token Republicans. And, let me warn you, Jim will justify the Iraq War, he will excuse it, he will lie about it. Too many beers in the backyard and a simple get-together can get quite heated. He's very committed to the Bushes and their dynasty. And Susan's the same. Then there's Kimberly, her husband left her for a tanning salon 'technician.' Anyway, Kimberly voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and 2004. My husband forgives her for 2004 but he has been known to rip her apart for 2000."

"Well Ralph's got some good qualities," Chance offered. "I could see voting for him because he believes in what I believe. Or I could see going for Hillary Clinton because she's got the experience."

"I'm for Hillary myself," Sylvia said stubbing out her cigarette. "And Mark and I are in the midst of a fight about whose sign is going to go up in the front yard when the primary rolls around."

"She seemed like good people," Chance explained to Mia over dinner. "She was nothing like the bland couple from last night. Haven't met the husband, Mark, yet. But Sylvia gave me a breakdown on the neighborhood."

Sylvia was good people. Mia decided that quickly as 2007 wound down. When the pipes burst in the bathroom, Sylvia came right over, turned off the water and called the plumber she and Mark used. When their perfect home turned out to have a leak in the bedroom ceiling, Sylvia and her Rolodex yet again came to the rescue.

Sylvia was fun and she was funny. So funny that she almost made up for Mark who was a humorless man who bleated away on one topic over and over: Barack Obama.

"Honestly," Sylvia said laughing one Saturday as they were strolling through the neighborhood, "I keep expecting him to go door to door and ask people, 'Have you accepted the politician Barack Obama as your personal savior?'"

"He is a bit fanatical, isn't he? Have you decided who you're supporting?"

"I'm still with Hillary. I'm sticking with Hillary."

"Wouldn't that be something? A woman president."

"Agreed, but I don't think they'd let her get the nomination."

"What do you mean?" Mia asked. "Assassination?"

"By a hundred slams. Look, Mark was a blogger. I know their mind set. They hate women. They link to Perky Breasts Posing As Feminist and they make that their token woman link. Have you never noticed? Can you imagine what they're going to do to Hillary? And who's going to stick up for her? Never trust a Mudflap Gal to do the work of a woman."

"But there are women bloggers."

"Yeah, but think back to high school. The cheerleader gets dumped by the quarterback, who does everyone kiss up to? The quarterback. A guy and a girl fool around, the girl's pregnant and drops out or goes to a 'special' school. And the guy skates away free. You see women calling that out? I see most of them going along with it. Mainly out of fear that if they stand up for another woman, they'll be attacked next."

It was at the last BBQ for the summer that Mia and Chance met Kimberly, the Nader supporter.

"I'm telling you," she said picking over the grilled chicken, "next year is Ralph's year. Trust me. The country is too screwed up. We need someone who believes in something."

"Change! Change!" Mark shouted over her.

"Change what?" she shot back. "His diaper? Tell you little fellow to stay in the Senate and get some seasoning. He's got no leadership experience as of yet and we need a real leader."

"And Ralph does!"

"He took on Big Auto! Ralph knows what needs to be done."

While others walked away, Mark and Kimberly spent the next hour debating the merits of their prospective candidates.

Fall turned winter and the holiday seasons and the family get-togethers and the travel and before you knew it, there was 2008. And the snow covered lawns caught the eye for many reasons but, to Mia, chiefly because of the signs.

"Is everyone on our block voting for Barack Obama?" she asked Chance as they stared out the bay windows.

He counted up the signs and pointed out that Kimberly had no sign up in her yard, nor did Jim and Susan or, for that matter, Sylvia and Mark.

"I'm going to go online later today," Chance said, "and order a Hillary yard sign."

It was a day later when she was race walking that Mia saw Kimberly putting out her yard sign. For Barack Obama.

Still catching her breath, she walked up.

"Kimberly, what happened? You're supporting Ralph."

Kimberly turned to her with a warm smile and declared, "Barack is the way. Look around, the children love him. And children are wise and smart. And we must follow the children. We must encourage the children and we must obey them. Even Grace Lee Boggs says so. And she's like a million and three-years-old. So we must listen to the children."

Mia backed away quickly and hurried off.

"So they got to her too?"

Mia turned around and saw Jim. He jerked his head over to Kimberly's yard where she stood admiring the sign she'd just put up.

"It's like the whole neighborhood's gone Barack Obama," Jim snorted. "I wonder if something got slipped into the water?"

"I have no idea," Mia replied, "but my husband and I are supporting Hillary."

"Won't matter, Rudy Giuliani's going to kick every one's butt in November."

In bed later that night, Mia and Chance wondered what could be going on?

"Did you order the Hillary sign?"

"They were out," Chance replied. "We're on back order. I'm tempted to make a home made sign just to get something up in the yard."

A week later, they headed to Mark and Sylvia's for a party.

"Well I guess Mark got his way," Mia said pointing to the sign on the lawn.

The door flew open and there was Sylvia . . . wearing an Obama pin.

Mia looked shocked as Sylvia swept her inside.

"We're all for Barack Obama," Sylvia declared hugging Mia. "Look, even Jim and Susan."

And, sure enough, there the two stood wearing Obama pins.

"B-b-but, you're Republicans!" Mia exclaimed.

"Barack is the way. Barack is the light. Barack will heal. In this country and around the world. Barack is our path to salvation," Jim and Susan chanted in unison.

"I'm getting the hell out of here," Mia said heading for the front door; however, Chance blocked her.

"Mia, we're all for Barack. He is the way. Come to Barack, Mia, come to Barack."

"You're all crazy!" she screamed running up the stairs.

She entered the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.

Sweat was dripping from her forehead.

The whole thing had to be a joke, right? The whole neighborhood couldn't go nutty, right?

Forget who the candidate was, there was no way that Republicans and Naderites would give up their own values to chase a fad, right?

"Those people are nuts," Mia whispered.

"Not nuts, infected."

Mia's head spun around to discover Mark standing behind her.

"Mia, I'll swap spit with you as I did your husband, as I did with the entire neighborhood, and then you'll be supporting Obama as well."

"Obama! Obama! Obama!" the neighborhood chanted in the hallway, just behind the closed door.

Mia looked around frantically and backed away from Mark.

"Look, you're crazy. You're all crazy. And, honestly, Mark, if you wanted to make a pass at me, you should have the balls to do so and not hide behind this 'I'm going to infect you' bulls**t."

Mia's calves hit something. Turning, she saw the bed was directly behind her and Mark was lurching at her. She moved quickly but Mark followed.

"Get away from me, you sick f**k!" she screamed. "I'll never support him, I'll never support that homophobe!"

Mark snarled, screamed and ran into her, sending her flying backwards, through the glass window, hurtling down to the front lawn where she ended with a loud THUD and then remained, not moving.

The bedroom door opened and everyone poured in.

"I had to do it," Mark told Chance, "she wasn't going to vote for Barack."

Chance nodded and put a consoling arm around him, "It's okay, Mark. I'd already sent off for an absentee ballot for her. In death, we'll get her to do what she wouldn't do while alive: Vote for Obama."

Obama! Obama! Obama!

The Private Dick and the Flatulent Woman

He knew dames. He knew dames like he knew Dalmatians. They're might be 101 of them, but they all looked the same and more or less acted the same. They certainly s**t the same.

Take Taryn Lewis. Showing up at his office last week. Frantic and nervous. He knew right away she was worried about a sister.

Or a man.

Or a sister man.

Was there any such thing?

She explained her sister was missing. A-ha.

She explained the husband was dummying up, like Matt Damon at Muscle Beach. No matter how she tried, she couldn't find out where her sister was.

"Used to, he'd say she was at the store and she'd call me later," Taryn would explain dabbing her eyes. "I said to him, 'Chance, you don't honestly expect me to believe my sister is still out grocery shopping?' That's when he started hanging up on me."

Chance was the husband. Mia was the wife.

The two had been married for a year-and-a-half when they became home owners. They'd lived there for nearly a year when Mia went missing.

When a girl goes missing, it's one of two things.

Another man.

Or another woman.

Or maybe a man-woman.

Or woman-man.

It was called "cross-dressing" and not as uncommon as you might think.

Gerard St. Duke. And he'd seen it all.


"Well, Mr. St. Duke," Chance declared, "I wish I could tell you Mia was here or there or somewhere but I honestly don't have a clue. All I can really tell you is Mia doesn't live here anymore."

Oh, that Chance was a fast one, with his flashy smile and too-cool-for-school pop refs. Yeah, Gerard St. Duke had caught Ellen Burstyn in her Academy Award winning role. Gerard St. Duke had basic cable and one premium channel. He was nobody's fool.

So he decided to tail Chance.

He went to a lot of block parties. Political type. They were always phone banking for Barack Obama or planning block walks or some fund raiser or voter registration drive or something.

After awhile Gerard St. Duke began to suspect that maybe Mia lopped off Chance's cock before she departed for where ever. As clear as he could tell, Chance not only wasn't getting any, he wasn't interested in getting any.

Then one damp and humid evening, he saw a blowsy woman, a floozie, approach Chance. She had a Cynthia McKinney bumper sticker in her hand and was clearly attempting to persuade Chance to put it on his car. Instead, Chance grabbed her, stuck his tongue down her throat and proceeded to spit polish her tonsils for approximately five minutes.

When they came up for air, neither was standing steady and the air seemed to thicken and grow even more humid.

The two got into Chance's car and Gerard St. Duke tailed them back to the house.

From a tree outside the bedroom window, he took a series of photographs. Mostly softcore stuff but some money shots too. Being a private dick could be a lonely business and you never knew when you might need some pix to get your jollies by.

But this woman was no looker, that was obvious. The missing woman, that Mia, she was a looker. This woman?


He decided that was the term for her when she answered the front door the next morning.

"Gerard St. Duke," he said.

"Sharon Smith," she giggled. "Have you decided who you're voting for this November? I'm voting for Barack Obama. I love Barack Obama. I'm a Socialist. All good Socialists should vote for Barack Obama. I try to be a very good Socialist. Sometimes I achieve it. Sometimes I don't. I can be very naughty and sometimes need a spanking."

Gerard St. Duke marveled over how, if Sharon Smith had even just been plain, she might have given him a stiffy right now but instead it was Limp City.

He had wanted to warn her.

Tell her that the man she was now sleeping with probably killed his own wife who disappeared months ago. He wanted to tell her to grab her shoes and get the hell out. He wanted to inform her that a killer rarely only kills once.

But she farted.

And it was rank.

It was like something you'd smell in a men's locker room. A high school locker room. Where everyone would giggle over just how bad it smelt. It was like a sauerkraut, cabbage and rotten egg medley.

He couldn't take it.

He had to get away.

Especially since that first fart was quickly followed by another. Jeez, she was like a rapid fire machine gun with that gas.

He was leaning over the hood of his car, trying to catch his breath, when the next door neighbor walked up to him. Mark something.

"Who are you supporting in November?"

Gerard St. Duke noticed the man licking his lips. He got the distinct impression this man was contemplating kissing him.

"Beg your pardon?"

"I asked you who are you supporting in November?"

"No one," Gerard St. Duke replied. "I can't vote in the presidential election. I'm Canadian."

And suddenly Mark turned on his heel and walked away.

For reasons he couldn't explain, Gerard St. Duke felt his life had been spared.

She writes letters


Dear Time magazine,

It has been six months since our President Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and I have long since lost track of the continual disrespect you have shown our President Barack Obama. Take your current issue which only has one cover photo of him. How do you justify that? If you would have given the issue a fold out cover, there could have been many cover photos instead of just one. But you refused to do so, racists.

Or take the accompanying article inside the magazine which refers to him as "President Obama" seven times and as "Mr. Obama" seven times. Only once as "President Barack Obama." "Mr. Obama"? I am quite sure that four years ago, you were not referring to George W. Bush as "Mr. Obama."

Don't try to lie, I am sure you never called him that.

But you are comfortable referring to our President Barack Obama as "Mr. Obama." How disrespectful!

"Mr. Obama"? What's next? Separate water fountains?

Yes, our President Barack Obama is a Black man and what of it?

Why must race be all you focus on?

"The economy is bad," was your opening sentence. Why? Because our president is Black? Is that what you were suggesting? That he what? Broke into the White House, stole everything in sight, fled on foot, stopped at Popeye's for some fried chicken and was out in the parking lot of a 7-11 drowning a forty? Your racial stereotyping is quite evident in those four words: "The economy is bad." Why must you perpetuate these stereotypes?

Our President Barack Obama is a good man, a learned man and, yes, a Black man. I think he is the best chance we have at curing cancer and adult ass acne -- the latter being a condition that especially strikes close to my own heart.

People are saying, "He was elected six months ago, when is he going to do something?"

Yes, more racism.

He's Black, therefore, he must be lazy!

Does the racism ever end?

Even in your story of our President Barack Obama you felt the need the run an advertisement for The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight? Time magazine, how stupid do you think we are? I would like to know just who paid you to run that racist ad?

How do you sleep, Time magazine, how do you sleep?

Myself, in footie pajamas, but that's another story and one that can be quite messy when I desperately need to go to the bathroom.

I am watching you and this letter is to put you on notice, Time magazine, that I and other of our President Barack Obama's subjects will not be silent as you persecute our Holy Father.

Your friend,

Sharon Smith

The meteor shower

Truth be told Mark Cranford always thought Harold Ford Jr. got a bum rap. And he was even a little despondent when Ford lost his 2006 bid for the US Senate. Sure the man was anti-choice and homophobic but those weren't bit things to Mark Cranford who, until the year 2004, had been working as an aid to Senator Strom Thurmond.

Thurmond had died in the middle of 2003 but Mark continued working for him until January 2004, that's just how dedicated he was.

After that, he'd considered working for the CIA or NSA and even dabbled a little in the PTA. But none of it felt right. What did feel right was calling himself an "ex-Republican."

Trashing Republicans felt so good and made him so many friends. With a Shrub in the White House, the whole nation, the whole world, suffered from Butt Rot Tree disease.

And prog bloggers loved nothing better than to hold him up as one of their own. He'd trash Republicans with what they'd done and, hell, stretch the truth a little. Who cared, he had friends now.

And even though his political opinions hadn't changed all that much -- he'd mainly just grown embarrassed by George W. Bush -- he was embraced and feted, his most boring and obvious observations met with hearty chuckles. It was a good life.

The most difficult thing, being a Strom boy, was putting up with all the Clintonism. People saying Bush should be impeached for lying the country into war and pointing out that no one died when Bill had sex with Lewinsky. Or people applauding Hillary's efforts as a senator.

Mark Cranford was many things but he was no David Brock, no sir. There would be no rethinking the Clintons. He'd grudge f**k them to his grave.

Fortunately for Mark, a number of 'progressives' agreed with him. Some of these 'Democrats' were, like him, Republicans or former Republicans, others were closet Socialists or closet Communists -- many of the last two posed as Greens. And of course many shared Mark's blatant sexism. Working together they'd keep Hillary out of the White House.

Himself, Mark was leaning towards John Edwards. Something about the way many carried himself just screamed, "I know how to handle women."

But that all changed the night of April 22, 2007. He had parlayed the recovering, ex-Republican thing into a successful blog and then into a successful radio pundit gig (God bless, Rachel Maddow!) and then into a post at a news weekly where he wrote a column. He was on his way to gas bag infamy, everywhere he went he was hailed as "the new Cokie Roberts!"

Everywhere but this interstate where even his rising star couldn't help him when he had a flat. He pulled over to the side, got out and wondered what to do. Like many a 'manly man' with a sunken chest occupying the 'creative class,' he'd never done a lick of hard labor his entire life and certainly never changed a tire. He popped open the trunk and stared inside. Couldn't even see a jack. Didn't the damn car come with one?

He was in the midst of a stream of curses when he looked up.


Even he had to catch his breath as he saw a non-stop series of shooting stars.

Evident as they streamed past Vegan, the meteors originated at Comet Thatcher. These were neither space debris nor exploding stars. These were, in fact, space ships.

Every year, aliens rode them down with a mission. In some years, they focused on fine tuning the arts or fashion -- they spent most of the eighties fighting back against the use of the melodica and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts. In 1979, they'd focused on politics and installed one of them, Iron Lady Thatcher, as the ruler of a nation. In 2007, they were again focusing on politics.

Mark knew none of this, he just stared above at the sky where balls of fire seemed to stream across the night sky every few seconds. The longer he watched, the closer they seemed and he began to feel dizzy as they appeared to be landing all around him.

The embankment by the side of the interstate was full of fiery holes from where the meteors landed and streams of harsh, blue light appeared to emit from the holes.

Emerging from the holes were blindingly blue slugs, easily five foot tall.

One slithered near him, then around and around him.

"I'm cracking up," Mark told himself and then remembered all of Strom's warnings about how deviance was catchy and Strom's hypothesis that a casual handshake with Ted Kennedy had turned Michael Lind from fierce conservative into Frank Rich's Wet Dream.

The blue slug began circling Mark's feet, then moving up the ankles, then moving at blinding speed, round and round, expanding to cover a screaming Mark entirely, it emitted a low hum which did nothing to conceal Mark Cranford's wails and screams as bits of his flesh and bones began spitting out onto the surrounding pavement.

The spinning stopped and the slug stretched briefly to 20 feet in length before snapping back into a copy of Mark Cranford, albeit a blue glowing copy. A moment later, the blue glow disappeared.

Another slug slithered over.

"Yes," Mark or "Mark" said. "I have absorbed all of the humanoids memories and experiences. He met Sylvia Ford in March 2004, married her in June of that year. He works for . . ."

After the debriefing, "Mark" pulled the jack out from the trunk, jacked the car up and changed the tire while reviewing the plan to install Barack Obama into the White House. It would by Lyrid's finest moment since the Margaret Thatcher days.

Some people would have to die but some would only require an open mouthed kiss at which point an infection would be passed and it would be as they had been programmed by a cult. The Lyrids would occupy northern America through July 7, 2009 and then depart, using the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse as their cover.

The Cult of St Barack

In a cramped, one-room, DC dive, the seven of them lived, funded by MoveOn through the 2008 election with a George Soros grant, and fueled by St. Barack of Chicago and His visisons.


"I could not stop biting my nails," declared Jack. "I chewed on them at all times, it was a nervous habit. And they tasted funny because I frequently forget to wash my hands. Sometimes I would be in mid-bite and have to choke back a retching sensation. But that is in the past."

Jack waived a well manicured hand in front of his six roommates who all murmured in approval.

"I encountered the Miracle of Change via MSNBC and I stopped biting my fingernails."

"It is a miracle!" the six exclaimed as Jack nodded.

"I was a 21-year-old man who was ashamed I wet the bed," said pudgy Dean speaking next. "I would hang my head in shame and wonder when it would ever stop and why I was being punished. I attended a training camp and all my problems went away. Now each morning, when I wake up in my urine saturated bed, I no longer feel shame!"

His roommates applauded enthusiastically.

"I was a 20-year-old virgin," declared Stu. "I had never had an orgasm in my life and feared I would die a virgin. Then I attended a one of St. Barack's revivals and whipped it out as he led a chant of 'Yes, We Can!' I spunked on the backs of everyone standing in front of him and, since that day, I've been beating the monkey raw. Literally. If I jerk off tonight, I think I'll bleed."

A roar of approval went through the room.

And so it went, week after week, as they seven slept together, farted together, jerked off together, plotted together and did everything they could to spread the Gospel of St. Barack.

They had worked month in and month out and the election was next week. St. Barack would emerge triumphant and they would spend the next four years in ecclesiastic fervor.

"Damn it, Stu!" yelled Arthur one warm April 2010 morning. "You've got to stop using my dress shirts for cum rags! Now what am I going to wear to my job interview?"

"Job interview? You've got a job interview?" Jack asked nervously, chewing away at the nails on his right hand. "How'd you get a job interview? Was it Or SEUI? Or The Roosevelt Institute? Or The Nation Institute? I sent my resumes out again last week. Who called you? Who?"

As bad as things were for Jack, they were even worse for Dean who, since the election of St. Barack to the White House, was no longer a bed wetter.

Or no longer just a bed wetter. Dean now urinated on himself in waking hours.

"Dang it, dang it, dang it to heck and back!"

Everyone looked over at Dean who was dressed in his Mickey Dees uniform, the crotch of which had an expanding wet spot.

"Now I've got to change again!"


The word seemed to linger in the air.

It, like St. Barack, had once held so much promise.

It had motivated them non-stop.

Barack was going to rock their world and then change it. The whole world would engage in group hugs and games of grab-ass in the shower room. The whole world . . .

All thoughts stopped as Arthur let a loud one rip.

Somehow it perfectly encapsulated the Barack Obama administration.

The end

As the Gulf Disaster continued, as the oil spewing into the ocean continued killing off wildlife and local business, while Barack Obama preened and posed for the cameras, around the United States, all but the criminally insane began to realize that 2008 had been a national nightmare, an outbreak of some sort of virus that swept the nation causing people to set aside standards and requirements, causing them to hire the job applicant with no experience, no knowledge and, let's face it, a questionable history.

Did no one check this Tony Rezko reference?

As the Gulf Disaster continued, it became obvious that there was something to be said for waiting your turn. That experience did matter.

Most of all, it became obvious that no way, no how was Barack ready for that three a.m. phone call.

Barack speaking at Coakley rally

And then the nightmare really began.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights. And, if you've been waiting, this is the summer fiction edition. We ended up stopping this morning with one short story. We had no idea what else to do. Not true. We had numerous ideas. We just were all arguing over which were the better ones. Ava, C.I., Elaine, Jess and Jim went for a long walk and came back with the answer. They then said everyone would take a long nap, we'd go out and get a late lunch and then we'd come back and work on the remaining stories. That actually worked out rather well. We have no idea about illustrations but that'll probably be the next issue as the stories start posting. However, we've still got to do an editorial. (Don't worry, Ava and C.I. did their bit. They did a TV piece as fiction. And when Jim suggested abandoning the summer read this week and pushing it back until next, they were the first to insist no way, no how.)

"David Sirota seeks a journalism tutor (won't you help)" -- most requested highlight of the week. For obvious reasons.

"u.s. makes civilians legitimate war targets" -- second most requested piece, Rebecca on how using a civilian airport (joint civilian-joint military) to launch and oversee drone attacks makes it a target.

"Iraq snapshot," "Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. and Wally report on Congressional hearings they atten.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "White House 'stud'" -- Isaiah's hilarious comic from last week.

"Patti LaBama" and "THIS JUST IN! DIVA ON A WAR PATH!" -- Last week on Good Morning America, Maureen Dowd commented on Barack Obama's vanity. Cedric and Wally have been charting that since 2008.

"The folk dance scare" -- Elaine's post on that frightening moment in the sixties when the government went after folk musicians!!!! (No, that never happened. See the post. And contact NPR.) And for more radio blogging, see Ann's

"Mom blogging" -- Betty offers some mom blogging.

"Requiem for a War Hawk" -- Isaiah dips into the archives to remember Donald Rumsfeld's departure from the Bush administration.

"Spin this" -- Trina on the jobs report.

"The Gulf Disaster destroys turtles," "the gulf," "Clampdown," "The spin," "The Gulf Disaster," "gulf disaster and bribe disaster," "The Gulf Disaster," "Dead Zones," "Gulf Disaster, Katty-van-van and more" -- some of the Gulf coverage from last week.

"Those were hearings?" and "The dull hearing" -- Betty on the Kagan hearings.

"Disagreeing with Kathleen Parker" -- Kat begs to differ

"On GLAAD spokespeople, Mel Gibson and others" -- Marcia tackles the need for experience.

"I Like Lucy" & "Not my Spiderman" -- Stan's movie posts.

"Idiot of the Week and Zogby"& "Blow hard John Kerry" -- It was a week of idiots and difficult to pick the biggest one but it appears David Sirota won.

"Spying" -- Betty on the portrayals of 'others'.

"Mr. Vain" & "THIS JUST IN! IT'S ALL ABOUT HIM!" -- It takes a special kind of vanity to show up at the funeral of a man you've known for less than a 20th of his life and make your 'rememberance' all about you and your political campaign.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }