Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Last Will and Testament of John Brown

The Last Will and Testament of John Brown Starts with Olives and a Movie...

I'm on the sofa. It's around midnight. I'm chewing on another Manzanilla stuffed olive. The windows are cracked to welcome the onset of spring. An intermittent cool breeze trickles by me. I'm numb.

My head is fully functional. My eyes are working. They're focused intently on the television. My ears are fine. I can hear everything. The olive tastes good. I'm thinking. Actually, I'm absorbing. Behind the absorption, in the very back of my head--right where noggin meets neck--a realization is percolating.

I'm warm. My body is sleeping. My forearms are heavy. I have to pause to consider whether another olive is worth the excruciating effort required to lift it from plate to mouth. My feet are gone. My legs are gone. Numb and warm and fuzzy.

I'm watching The New World and I'm watching it at just the right time. Sometimes, things happen a certain way and that way is the only way those things could ever really work. So it is with me, the couch, a numb body and The New World. It's all perfect timing. For whatever reason, everything about The New World is working. For whatever reason, I am working as if my sole reason for existing is to watch the movie.

I watch. And up from the back of my head comes a thought. It bubbles up from the neck into the forefront of my consciousness. Like a water cooler. Blurp.

This movie is doing something different. It's telling the same old John Smith/Pocahontas story, but it's not allowing me my usual historical smugness. Sure, I know how the story goes, at least in general terms. Yes, I know how it all ends. I remember key plot points from grade school Pilgrim projects scattered over several Novembers. It's different this time.

In The New World, the principle characters don't know what's about to happen. They don't know how the story ends. The tale isn't history book material. It's happening in their present. The movie doesn't slap your face with reminders about what will eventually happen. Nothing about it feigns omniscience. Everything is new. It's new. It's happening. It's done effectively enough to put the viewer into that newness.

I'm living in that moment with John Smith. I'm impressed with the tall grass. I admire the sunset. I feel fear and curiosity about the naturals. Later, I'm hanging with Pocohantas. I'm impressed and intimidated by London. I'm human and prop. It's all new.

I'm not one of those diehard Terrance Malick Fans. I liked Days of Heaven. I thought Thin Red Line was better than most movies, but not as good as those who trumpeted it as an artistic masterpiece pretended. Badlands? I haven't seen it.

I mention my perspective on Malick because discussions of his movies often devolve into film partisanship. It's Malickites vs. Anti-Malickites and the movie gets lost in the kerfluffle. I'm not interested in that discussion, though.

I'm not willing to claim that The New World is a cinematic masterpiece. It undoubtedly has flaws. It probably could be better. At that time, however, it was perfect. On my couch with a tired body, an engaged mind, and a saucer of olives, The New World was absolute genius. It captivated.

You could take a million different messages from the movie. It could be a tree hugger's parable. It could be a PC reflection on the noble savage. It could be a backlash humanization of the European conquest of the Americas. It could be a love story. It could be history with a great score and a good cast.

My message was in the newness of America to the English, the newness of England to Pocohantas and, after the credits fell off my screen, the way we act in our current moment, completely unable to ascertain the eventual consequences of our actions. We might have guesses. We may make predictions. In the end, though, we utilize our understanding of history and the present, mix it together with the way we feel and the threat in our face, and do something. History judges. It's always new.

The New World is, no matter what you think about its narrative, beautiful. Though some decry the imagery as static and over-lingereing, no one can credibly argue that Malick fails to find and feature natural beauty in a very strong way. It is a pretty movie and the natural onslaught eventually wears at the viewer's urban wall, connecting him or her with the land again.

John Brown Hearts George Harrison...

I was born in 1970. As a result, I was never required to pick a favorite Beatle. If someone made me pick today, I'd throw my support behind George Harrison for a variety of reasons that aren't directly related to this tale.

George Harrison wrote a few amazing songs. He committed a few nearly unforgiveable musical sins in the 80s.

Harrison, sick and tired of the business end of Beatlemania and the tyranny of superstardom took a day off from "work" in 1969. He went over to Eric Clapton's house and walked through the garden with an acoustic guitar in his hands. After a gloomy English winter, it was nice to see the sun again. By the end of his walkabout, he wrote Here Comes the Sun.

Here Comes the Sun almost seems like a throwaway song. The lyrics are simple. Maybe simple-minded. It's nothing more than a big thumbs up to sunshine and bright backed by a catchy melody. A very catchy melody. The Beatles recorded it (sans Lennon) and it sold well in 1969. Maybe that's because a cute tune will sell no matter what. Maybe it's because, even in the most tumultuous of times, people need to remember that sunshine and bright are good things. Here Comes the Sun also offers a certain reassurance we all need to hear, even if it is pat and simple. "It's all right".

I was driving to work a few days after watching The New World. I was pointed eastbound, waiting at a stop light on an overpass. The sun was directly in front of me. It wasn't a nuisance, though, as it was shaded by hundreds of tiny clouds that were racing on wind in front of it. It looked like one of those high-speed stop-frame movie tricks. The sky was moving at a frenetic pace while we waited through stoplights.

I was sick of AM talk radio word-porn. I was so tired of hearing about Jeremiah Wright that I avoided even the socially acceptable liberalism of NPR, just in case. I tapped the "scan" button on the radio a few mintues before I hit the stop light.

The light flipped green, my foot reflexively moved from brake to accellerator and I took one last look at the sun and the white rocket-fast clouds. The radio paused on a "classic rock" station and I recognized the "du dn du du". I stopped it there. Here Comes the Sun.

I was northbound on a boulevard, passing through an established residential neighborhood that, over time, has found itself shoehorned between two pods of commerce. Trees on both sides of the road. No matter how long I typed, no matter how long a Terrance Malick camera lingered on those trees, you couldn't understand spring Kansas trees in the wind without seeing them yourself at that moment. The were new and green and in exactly the right place at the right time.


Before Here Comes the Sun and before The New World, there were butterflies, a grumpy father named John Brown and Revolution.

Work is work. Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I feel little more than disdain toward it. When I'm on the treadmill too long, my mood suffers. I doubt I'm unusual in that sense.

Lately, I've filled a few slow work hours and a bit of at-home downtime with this blog. It isn't the centerpiece of my life, but it has been a regular diversion. I watch the news. I listen to the news. I read other blogs. I think. I comment. I write. The more I think, watch listen, read and write the more generally frustrated I become. The blog seems like a good idea. A nice way to vent while advocating for things I hold dear.

At the same time, it makes me angry. Angry at those with power. Angry at those seeking power. Angry at liars, cheaters, hacks, fools and generally silly people who do fantastically stupid things. If tracking the day's events and commenting upon them is a vent, it's merely the vent on a self-constructed mental pressure cooker.

Usually, my bad moods last a day. Maybe two. This time, I was working on day six of a generally lousy disposition. I was about to take another dip from the well of rage. The laptop was in front of me and I was ready to start answering comments on some of the posts here. I wanted a little peace, a little quiet and about ten uninterrupted minutes to set the record straight for a few of the asshats who left snarky remarks and to backslap a few of the geniuses who shared my sentiments. I didn't get it.

Instead, I got a visit from my four year-old daughter who wanted to play outside. Even with a bad mood, I'm a decent father. The weather was nice and a trip outside would spare the Brown family from cartoons. I did what decent fathers do. I went outside.

Ball throwing and ball kicking were suspended upon the discovery of a big yellow butterfly. There are few things four year-old girls love as much as butterflies. We'd chase. It would land. We'd approach it would fly away. The process repeated itself, punctuated by our laughter, her very real amazement, and my mock surprise. In time, my phony excitement gave way to a real interest, too.

That's when the child had her idea. The butterfly landed on grass, right? That must mean that the butterfly likes grass. So, perhaps we could get a piece of grass and "trick" the butterfly into resting upon it. We could then pick up the butterfly and study it more closely.

This was an idea doomed to fail. There was no way a jumpy four year-old could ever sneak up on an equally jumpy butterfly with a piece of grass. Even if the kid managed to contain her excitement long enough to get close, no sane butterfly would opt to grab the offering. Even if the butterfly did grab the grass, it would fly away the second the child lifted the blade. Doomed.

I sugarcoated my assessment. I told her it probably wouldn't work, but she could try. She found a relatively long blade of grass and suddenly transitioned from spastic post-toddler into a butterfly tricking stealth machine. To my utter amazement, her plan worked. 100% success.

Within moments, she held the grass in one hand while lightly petting its wing with the index finger of her other hand. Eventually, the butterfly flew away. We laughed and rolled in the grass, drunk on her success. We went to find him again, but he was gone.

A few hours later, the Brown family decided to go out for supper. The child was excited to walk to the car. She thought we might again see her pet butterfly. I knew better, of course. The odds of seeing the same bug again were astronomical. As we made our way to the car, however, I did see it. The same yellow butterfly with the same black patterned wings. It was resting on a bush. The girl walked right up to the butterfly, this time without grass, and carefully petted him. She said "goodbye, see you later" and he flew away.

I missed my blogging time chasing butterflies. The next night, I was preparing to add to Prepare Yourselves for a Settlement. The girl was sitting on the floor. She had been playing with Tinker Toys. At that moment, though, she was just staring toward the ceiling. I quizzed her. She was thinking about butterflies. We talked, laughed and considered butterflies. Ten minutes later I was shaving broken crayons with a potato peeler. We made "stained glass" butterflies with wax paper, an iron and Crayola fragments.

Those butterflies are now hanging from a homemade mobile in her bedroom, which brings us back to the Beatles. I stood on a wooden chair, and carefully tacked the butterfly mobile to the ceiling while the child directed my efforts and my wife made a photographic record of our triumph. I was whistling.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

The child asked me why I was whistling. I told her it was because I was happy. I recognized that my mood had improved somewhere between butterfly trickery and butterfly craftiness. "What's that song then?"

I was whistling a reassuring line from a Beatles song. It wasn't the "It's all right" of Here Comes the Sun. It was the "You know it's gonna be all right" of Revolution, which takes us back to my car several days before. The timeline blurs when you're piecing things together.

I was driving home from work on the freeway, intentionally avoiding my usual audio diet of newsy talk and bullshittery, wishing that the Royals were playing so I had something decent to pass the time. I'd rather listen to Denny Matthews call a loser right now than to some local Michael Savage wannabe's masturbation over concocted scandal. The radio searched for a station and it found the Beatles.

I've always loved Revolution. Musically, it's a real rock 'n' roll assault from a band who isn't known for its power chords or screaming. It's also a melodic earworm that's hard to shake. It's lyrically interesting and has a unique backstory.

It started as a ballad and became fast and distorted only after Lennon realized he was the only one who "heard a single" in the slow version. The lyrics have bobbed between being counted "in" or "out" "when you talk about destruction". Lennon says he had mixed sentiments, but the rest of the lyrics belie that explanation. The "in" version is almost self-contradictory, leading me to believe John Lennon was having a little fun with the "in/out" switch.

Revolution doesn't glorify the titular concept. It's critical of stereotypical viewpoints of revolutionary activity. It mocks those who'd attempt to garner favor by waving posters of Mao. It's a song about the need to revolt internally against the things we despise instead of taking our rage to the streets. It's not about tearing down institutions, it's about changing minds.

The most interesting part about Revolution is its end. It's a reminder to those who are operating on hate and raging against the machine that, when all is said and done, "it's gonna be all right".

Eventually, the sun will come. It's all right. I don't know how many people have found a dovetailing between Revolution and Here Comes the Sun. It's obvious to me. The two meet in the same place. Things can be shitty. Things can be dreary. Eventually, if you're willing to roll with it, everything turns out all right.

The real John Brown was an extremely religious man. A fanatic, perhaps. I stole his name for this blog, but I didn't snag his fervor. I'm not religious. I have my opinions. I have my perspectives. I'm not a Flying Spaghetti Monster smart-ass. I'm not a Richard Dawkins atheist. If you asked me if I planned on meeting Jesus after my death, however, I'd probably chuckle at the very notion.

Nonetheless, I've seen longshots come in before. One of my early childhood memories is a Jim Colborn no-hitter. I've watched Kansas lose to Bucknell and Butler in the NCAA tourney. I've seen a butterfly land on a blade of grass wielded from a usually hyperkinetic four year-old. I don't plan on having coffee with Christ, but anything is possible.

Although I'm not a churchgoing man, I've gone to a few churches. A few years ago, the Brown family visited a Unitarian church. I liked a lot of what I heard. In fact, I often wonder why we haven't become regulars there. The pastor is a Harvard-educated guy from Massachusetts. He blogs. Every once in awhile, I look him up and read a sermon.

Thom Belote recently delivered a sermon on emotional renewal. He begins the sermon by sharing his shock in learning that Sirius radio was offering a 24-hour station dedicated to the sexual activity of Elliot Spitzer. He references everything from The Matrix to popular liberal bumper stickers to Jeremiah Wright to MLK's admonition that we should live in "divine discontent".

Belote's point, in my estimation, is that there is a place of emotional renewal that lurks somewhere between our rages and happily sticking our heads in the sand. There's a place for revolution based on our understanding of the world and our knowledge of history but it doesn't make sense to pursue those objectives with "minds that hate" any more than it pays to pretend like everything is perfect when it isn't. In the end, it's about finding personal points of conversion and reaching a state of healthy emotional balance.

John Brown Returns to Politics, if only for a Moment...

This blog has always been more political than personal. Now might be a good time to return to that political terrain, as tired as it's becoming.

I've noticed a few things lately. They are things I've probably known for a long time. Perhaps they slowly slid down the back of my head and have only now gurgled to the front again. Pat Buchanon will never say anything that really matters to me. He will not make me think. James Carville will never say anything meaningful, either. He will cover old territory. There is nothing new on television news and very little new in the blogosphere. Hucksters will slime. The power-hungry will reach. Attention whores will slut themselves up for an audience. Mock outrage will blare daily and condescension will share time with rage and hate. It's not new. It's old.

Watching it and responding to it every day is akin to choosing to build your home at the intersection of Masochism Road and Sisyphus Lane. It guarantees repetition of malignant exposures and repulsive behaviors. If I'm right (and I probably am) that Hillary Clinton's campaign causes cancer of the political soul, why would I voluntarily choose to expose myself to her creepy germs day after day? Why would I do that when it's so obvious that I'm already beginning to display symptoms of the disorder?

The New World reminded me that we confront the new from the now, armed only with our knowledge of the past to guide us. We don't know the end of the story. The most noble efforts will be damned by history. Our most evil schemes may be acclaimed. We don't know how the story ends. We can make our educated guesses. We have no choice but to try to do good. We can't know the results. Too much dogmatism, too much certainty, too much carrying pictures of Chairman Mao... They don't make a lot of sense to me.

The upside is that "it's all right". In the end, things tend to work out. Sometimes they don't work out for the best. Sometimes they do. Most of survive.

There are things worth fighting for. I mean really fighting for. John Brown (the real one) believed that. He raged against the slavery machine with all of his Jesus-stuffed heart. Thousands upon thousands of heroes known and unknown have stood in front of tanks, delivered speeches, left comfort for the sake of righteousness and displayed courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

I wonder, though, is our current political state worth that blind rage, that fervor, that dedication? Does it make sense--good sense--to get pissed off at whatever crazy and stupid thing Bill O'Reilly says? Is it nourishing to hate Michelle Malkin? Is there any reason whatsoever to even care in the slightest about Ann Coulter?

I can't come up with a good reason to push the boulder of "Hillary Clinton is a fucking Monster and I can't stand her" back up the mountain. It's not worth the energy. It's not worth the brainpower. It certainly isn't worth missing butterfly chases or craft projects. It's old, it's tired, and it's remarkably ugly. I won't claim I'm ashamed of anything I've written. I certainly won't recant my positions. I will, however, abandon this.

This is the last will and testament of John Brown, blogger. I'm going to spend my blogging time fishing, chasing butterflies, watching baseball, marveling at sunsets and finding emotional renewal in balance. I'm going to remember that we don't have monopolies on truth, we aren't omniscient and, that "everything is gonna be all right". That's my plan. If fate taps my shoulder with a cause that really resonates with me--one that compels me to heroism--I'll be there.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to live a little bit more like the concept I found so appealing about the Obama campaign before both sides started to get traditionally ugly. There was this idea that we might be able to be smart enough to examine the now and to study history in a way that would lead us toward a productive approach to the future. It was hope and change fueled by the idea of serious consideration. I liked it. Like so many, including some at the very core of the Obama campaign, I abandoned it when things got dirty.

We tend to retreat toward old learned behaviors when we're confronted with an attack. It's hard not to be defensive and to then scheme an equally painful counter-attack. It's also stupid and boring. I might be smarter than Pat Buchanan. I might be closer to true than he is. I'm just yelling along with him for sport, though. It's like forcing oneself to fart just to add to the stench in the room.

It's destructive. "And when you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out?"

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right

Friday, April 25, 2008

Barack Obama's NEWEST Controversial Relationship... Sick kids, national epidemics? Obama DOESN'T CARE!!!!

A Letter to Readers of Prepare Yourselves for a Settlement


Dear Readers,

I'm changing my thinking about Obama. I think it's high time for Barack Obama to denounce, renounce, reject, end and completely decimate at least one of his incredibly destructive long-term relationships.

Although I've been an Obama supporter, I feel my allegiance slipping with each and every day the Senator from Illinois refuses to repudiate some of the unsavory characters with whom he is close and the evils these acquaintances visit upon the United States of America.

It seems like a new scandal by association emerges every single day. I've kept my reservations to myself as Obama fumbled through discussions regarding Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, Louis Farakhan and William Ayres. Now, however, a new questionable relationship has emerged and I am unwilling to say anything nice or decent about Senator Barack Obama until he comes clean and completely distances himself from a true villain--a monster hellbent on destroying the health and happiness of American children.

Obama has been avoiding scrutiny on this simply because of his party and background. How would the public and press deal with something like this if the candidate was someone other than media darling Barack Obama:

*Candidate publicly admits to appreciating and enjoying Mr. X.
*Mr. X is directly involved with marketing products to children.
*The products with which Mr. X is involved are known to be harmful to children.
*The ills created by the products are considered a growing national emergency.
*Candidate continues his support of Mr. X and fails to renounce the villain.

That bizarre scenario isn't some sort of far-fetched fantasy. It's happening today.

Barack Obama is the Candidate and Mr. X...

You may know him as SpongeBob SquarePants. Obama publicly admitted his love of Mr. SquarePants in a very public interview. Mr. Obama must be acutely aware that Mr. SquarePants image is used to sell sugary sweet cereal, Pop Tarts and other high-calorie/high-carb processed food products to children. Children! Child obesity is a national epidemic and a true NATIONAL EMERGENCY. Yet Barack Obama won't speak out.

Senator Obama remains silent as children suffer and die--all the while speaking positively about one of the merchants of death responsible for these horrors.


If this is a new kind of politics, I want nothing to do with it.


John Brown
Concerned American Citizen

Note: I originally wrote this after reading a rather bizarre post from Evan Gahr. Moments after posting this, I was pointed toward another, equally enlightening post at No Quarter. My joke is the most reasonable of the three. And that is sad.


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

If reality was fantasy, Hillary would be a lock to win! More from the Marsh...

Yeah, I know. It's too easy. It's not all that productive. It's sooooo obvious. Others do it better. It's juvenile. Fine. Fine. Fine. I still can't resist making fun of famed best-selling author, warner of lawsuits and sex industry super-sleuth Taylor Marsh.

Clinton Leads in Popular Vote... if you count Michigan and Florida.

This gem, from astute political observer and famed talk radio personality (cue laugh track) Taylor Marsh is one of my favorites this morning.

If you count the elections that everyone knew didn't count, Hillary leads the popular vote! If you count the election in which Obama's name wasn't on the fucking ballot, Hillary's ahead.

If April was December, Christmas would be right around the corner! If John Bale and Brett Tomko were legit Cy Young hopefuls, the Royals would be contenders this year! If Monster wasn't trailing, she'd be ahead!

If inches were feet, I'd have a 6' schlong!

Remember, the genius behind "if you count Florida and Michigan" is begging her devoted following of wine-drunk fellow Monster fans to lobby Air America so she can get real mic time. You know what to do.

Hotel Space Available for Inauguration--CHEAP!!!

"Kelly", a Taylor Marsh super-fan and a worshipper at the Altar of Monster, is getting ready to book space in DC for the inauguration. This delusional decision to spend cash in hopes of seeing Monster put her claws on the good book means one thing and one thing only to those who aren't drunk on cheap boxed wine--Kelly's gonna be selling later.

Need a room while in Washington to watch Obama or McCain take the oath? Get in touch with Kelly. She'll have hotel space at a discount! You can reach her via the comment section at The Silliest Blog in America.

From the swamp of Marsh comments:

And only mildly OT ... where's the best place to stay in DC for the inauguration? My partner gave me the go-ahead last night to make reservations!


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Congratulations, Monster! You can hate Hillary, but give credit where credit is due...

It's easy to blame losers instead of crediting winners. You see it all the time. Kansas didn't win the basketball national championship, Memphis screwed up and lost it. The Giants only won the Super Bowl because the Patriots stunk. It's always the loser's mistakes and never the victor's skills, it seems.

This line of thinking is common in politics, too. Why can't Barack close the deal? What did Hillary do wrong in Iowa? Etc. When it comes to Monday morning quarterbacking and political punditry, it's all about the loser's shortcomings these days. People like to analyze why one person lost instead of focusing on why the other won.

I think that's crap. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. That puts me in a difficult position this morning. If you've ever read a post here before, you know that I think Barack Obama is our best remaining choice for President and that I believe Hillary Clinton causes cancer of the political soul.

Nonetheless, I'm not going to spend this morning blaming Obama's failures for Pennsylvania. Nor am I going to take the easiest out possible--arguing (perhaps accurately) that Hillary's support came, in large measure, from a bunch of idiots. Nope. I'm going to simply congratulate Hillary on winning.

Hey, Monster...


Clinton won Pennsylvania by 1o points and now Monster can continue its march of shame right into Indiana and beyond. Hell, for all I know Hillary will be able to spread the disease so successfully that she'll end up as our next President. That's still VERY unlikely, but anything can happen.

She did a smash-up job winning Pennsylvania. She withstood a massive spending imbalance. She quickly and forcefully jumped on top of every little Obama act that could be twisted into a negative. She got her picture taken while guzzling brews, talked about her family's involvement with the gun culture and painted her opponent as a snobby elitist in an area where snobby elitists aren't all that popular. She did the better job in the debate of appearing Presidential to the remaining undecided voters and soft Obama supporters. She made all the requisite TV appearances and even snuck in a day-before interview with KO at MSNBC, proving that she didn't mind walking into the lion's den in exchange for face time.

Good work, Monster. You won. You worked your positives, amplified your opponent's real negatives, created some new temporary negatives for him, created more memorable TV ads and convinced Pennsylvanians that you're the "tough" one.

Obviously, Barack Obama didn't do everything right. That's a whole different story for a different day. The fact of the matter is that Clinton did better. The proof is in the pudding. Scoreboard. 10 point lead.

If we wanted to select Presidents based on their ability to run tenacious long-shot campaigns... If we wanted to choose leaders based on their ability to execute old school politics like true professionals... If we wanted to honor those who are really good at playing the game... Well, it that's what we wanted I think Hillary Clinton has made a very strong case for herself since Super Tuesday.

Personally, I have higher aspirations. That's why I won't pull a lever labeled Monster. Obviously, others don't feel that way. I truly believe I'm right and they're wrong, but what the hell... Today, let the fans of Hillary rejoice.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'll have the waffles and a side order of stupid, please... Barack Obama eats breakfast--madness ensues...

Short recap of the oft-repeated tale:

Barack Obama went to a diner. He kissed babies, shook hands and ordered breakfast. He started eating. A reporter asked him a question. He said "Why can't I just eat my waffle?"

This is not news. It is not interesting. It is a politician eating breakfast. One can't peer deep into his soul based on his response. One can't reasonably extrapolate anything about his overall willingness to engage the press based on his desire to eat his fucking waffle at that given moment. One can't maintain, with a straight face, that the question was so challenging that Obama had no choice but to hide behind his waffle.

It is not evidence of a trend. It is not proof of a character flaw. Not all breakfasts are moments of great significance.

The dude was eating and didn't really want to answer a question. The end.

You would think that in a relatively educated and literate nation such as our own, that a guy eating a waffle on a campaign stop wouldn't engender a great deal of interest.

You would think that we'd be smart enough to realize that any one of a million different things is probably more important than a dude eating a motherfucking waffle.

We are not.

We, or at least some of us, really do appear to be that stupid. Folks are analyzing Barack Obama's waffle incident. They are talking about the ramifications of Wafflegate. Some are interpreting it as evidence of bigger things. They are casting it as a piece in a puzzle they've already solved.

Rooty tooty, fresh and fruity. Barack Obama's desire to eat a little waffle is news.

One of the most common strategies for issue-fying the waffle is to point out that Obama is ducking questions not only at breakfast, but all the time. After all, he hasn't made himself available to press for 10 whole days. Wafflegate is proof that he's hiding, people argue.

Of course, he's also spent the last 10 days working his ass of all over Pennsylvania, which cuts into available chit-chat time.

Oh, and there's also the oft-forgotten fact that he HAS made himself available to the media. In fact, he's given DOZENS of interviews in the past ten days. He's been sitting down with local PA papers and media outlets instead of jabbering with the national press. Why? My guess is that the Obama campaign thinks they'll get better Pennsylvania mileage out of Pennsylvania media than by screwing around with the nationals. They might be wrong about that, but it's a mighty stretch to claim he's completely inaccessible.

Let's look at this way. Angelina Jolie's breasts are inaccessible to me. So are her buttocks. She won't give me access. If I ran into her at IHOP and asked her to allow me to caress her breasts and buttocks, she might politely rebuke me, asking why she can't just eat her waffle. On the other hand, if I were Brad Pitt and the two of us were home alone, I'd stand a good chance of spending the night going to town on Angelina. My point: access is all about who you are and where you are.

Anyone who is currently pretending the waffle incident matters should immediately screw his or her fucking head on straight, apologize to every single person they've insulted by pretending this story is meaningful and then place their hand in a hot waffle iron for 30 seconds.

That includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Jeralyn at TalkLeft calls it a "waffle controversy" and claims that the breakfast tale is a big deal because Obama doesn't give reporters a lot of access. That might be because they're a bunch of assholes who won't let a guy eat a waffle, huh?

Delilah Boyd wonders what kind of candidate would "pitch a hissy fit" over a question right before a primary? I wonder what kind of blogger would pitch a hissy fit over the guy wanting to eat his waffle and who'd give him a "waffler of the year award".

Don Singleton hints that Obama might have wanted to eat his breakfast because the question was just too tough. Maybe it wasn't hunger, but an inability to answer. Considering the question was about Jimmy Carter's sit-down with Hamas and the fact that Obama has remarked on the matter and is fully aware of it, that seems unlikely. Nice try, Don. Go eat your waffle.

Liberal Rapture calls Obama a man-child and argues that one must make a choice between waffles and running for office. Here's an idea... Maybe a guy could eat a waffle, wipe the syrup from the corner of his mouth and then go back to campaigning. Just an idea, "numb nuts".

The Confluence asks, "Did the “bitter” gun-toting Archie Bunkers hear him whining like that?" No, they didn't. They were too busy eating their waffles, a courtesy usually extended to all at a diner.


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Monday, April 21, 2008

By request... Examining the wit and genius of Taylor Marsh... There isn't much of either...

This one's by request.

I wrote a miniature biography of "talk radio host" (cue uproarious laughter) Taylor Marsh. Later, I resonded to her bullshit implications that I'm a "hate diarist" and a "gnat" who's "plumbing" her past as part of anti-Hillary McCarthyism. I suffered through Taylor Marsh's self-published vanity project of a "book" and offered a review. I became an illustrator after receiving veiled threats of future litigation because I appropriated her Glamour Shot-like photos.

I advised people to counteract her attempt to break out of the vanity radio box when she begged her zombie nation of commenters to contact Air America and XM Radio on her behalf. I've mentioned the fact that her blog and her childlike analysis are symptomatic of the worst kind of disease riddling our body politic.

Every time I discuss former Queen of the Personal Ads, at least a handful of her readers complain that I'm just hatin'. They say that my criticisms of the beauty-queen-turned-podcaster are nothing more than ad hominen attacks. Well, they don't really say that because the closest they get to Latin is when one of them identifies the local GED testing center as an alma mater. In any case, they claim I'm all insult and no substance.

Guess what? They're almost right. I haven't spent a lot of time pinpointing justifications for my position that Taylor Marsh is a substandard punditry. I sort of assumed it was obvious, I guess. Apparently, though, it isn't clear to everyone just how hackerific her ramblings really are. So, I'm going to take one recent post from Marsh and comment on it.

I doubt any of the Marshzombies will suddenly change their minds about Taylor after reading this. And I do understand the whole "why waste your time?" thing. Marsh backers sometimes seem more like followers of Marshall Applewhite than the former Michelle Marshall. I'm no Seneca, but "optimum est pati quod emendare non possis" is reasonably persuasive. Nonetheless, they did ask for it. It's the least I can do. Who knows, it might be fun, too. Oh, and I did the Latin thing just to be obnoxious.

I didn't feel a need to cherry pick the most idiotic possible post to review. I wanted to keep it fair. I picked a number between 1 and 10 and then cruised on over to Taylor Marsh's site. I designated the top post as "1" and counted along until I hit my magic number, "3". Red meat, kids. Red meat.

Headline: Obama Blows Democratic Party's McSame Strategy

This is rich. In case you haven't read this Marshit, I'll give you a handy dandy summary before working through it in greater detail:

Democrats should be pissed off at Barry Obama because he said that each of the three remaining candidates would be a better option than George W. Bush. Taylor believes that the big Democratic strategy for November hinges upon painting McCain as a Bush clone. Thus, mentioning that McCain may be a little less fucked in the head than George W. is a strategic error of the highest order.

No, seriously. That's the argument. Wow! I knew this would be easy, but this is almost TOO easy, don't you think? Let's take a closer look at the wit and wisdom of the blogosphere's favorite vanity author and purchaser of AM radio time, shall we?

Originally, I thought about doing a line-by-line dissection. I realized that was going to be a little too time-consuming. Plus, I'd hate to have Marsh get all worked up about having the full text of her goofery republished elsewhere. So, I invite you to read her whole crazy post on your own. Here are a few of the many reasons her post is weaker than 3.2 beer at the ballpark:


Marsh's argument relies on the presupposition that the "McSame" strategy is a good one. If you don't first accept the premise that comparing Bush to McCain is a winning plan, there's absolutely no reason to get hacked at Barry for saying that McCain might not be quite as bad as W.

As it turns out, there is reason to doubt that linking McCain to Bush might not be the most ingenious vote-gathering ploy in history.

First, it's going to be a tougher sell than people might think. Although the video from the DNC does a cute job of painting John and George as lovers, there are substantive disagreements between the two guys. McCain has made a point of reminding people of this differences, too. Now, you could argue that McCain's distancing efforts aren't compelling, but it isn't too hard to imagine him avoiding the Bush albatross around his neck--especially when Bushies are constantly criticizing him as being out of lockstep with the conservative march.

Second, it's not clear that linking Bush and McCain will actually result in a win. No matter how much we all might believe that W. is a complete failure of a President, the guy has demonstrated an ability to hang in there. He wasn't all that hip when he personally beat Kerry. It's not a certainty that Bush would be an anchor if tied to McCain. It might even help him get a little bit of that currently up-in-the-air conservative support.

Third, it's not really all that honest. McCain and Bush do hold similar perspectives on some very important issues. They are not long last fraternal twin brothers, though. Yes, McCain has flipped a little toward the Bush side on a handful of popular conservative issues. However, I don't think it's intellectually honest to argue that a McCain White House would be a twin of a Bush White House.

Fourth, even if it is a winning plan, it isn't the only winning plan. There's no reason to assume that undermining the McSame strategy spells inevitable Democratic doom.

That's the first error in Marsh's post. She assumes the "paint 'em with the same brush" is a sure thing winner. It isn't. Even IF you believe it is, however, her argument is still faulty.


If you DO think that pairing McCain and Bush is a fine plan, there's no reason to go nutty over the fact that Obama said McCain would do a better job as POTUS than GWB. Saying someone would do a better job than George Bush sets the bar very low. My dead uncle would probably do a better job than George BUsh, even though he's been buried for ten years. Your dog has a 50/50 chance of fucking up things less than George Bush. We could elect a former porn site editor with delusions of grandeur into the White House and she'd poll with higher approval numbers than GWB.

Saying that McCain is better than bush is like saying it might be marginally better to have someone kick the shit out of you for an hour than it would be to have them stab you seven times in the midsection with a rusty chef's knife. It isn't a compliment of great significance. "Hey, John McCain, I think you'd be a better President than randomly selected drunken hobo with a schizophrenic disorder." Wow, I'm sure he'll take that compliment with a smile, right?

It's not necessary to completely demonize John McCain to criticize him effectively. There are plenty of things not to like about John McCain. If you believe that Bush and McCain are political twins, you can still make that argument without refusing to recognize that Johnny Mac might be a little better than George W.

Those, like Marsh, who get indignant and offended by a willingness on Obama's part to admit that McCain is not the bastard son of Hitler and Ilse Koch, bother me. It's as if they fear any insertion of reason and perspective into politics will somehow render their candidates and messages impotent. I don't think that's the case and I tend to believe that the instinctive desire to portray political rivals as the embodiment of pure evil is one reason why voter apathy is so high. Instead of turning down the bullshit heat as a way of inviting people back to the political table, the kneejerks believe that cranking the burner up to "high" will somehow attract a crowd.


According to Taylor Marsh, we need Obama mentioning that anyone would do better than George Bush as much as we do a "whole [sic] in the head". Apparently, we should avoid the truth if it might hurt a little bit. Anything to win, right Monster fans?

Look, McCain would be a better President than George Bush. A LOLCat would be a better President than George Bush. It's okay to know that. It's okay to say that.

There is a reason why McCain draws a relatively high level of Independent support compared to most Republicans. There is a reason McCain is often considered a moderate Republican. It's because he's not as fucked up as Gorgeous George. No, I'm not campaigning for Johnny Mac here. I'm just willing to admit that he is less of a buffoon that Bush. Why am I comfortable saying that? Uh, because it's true.

And even if you don't think there's a beam of daylight between Dubya and John, it seems very unlikely that McCain could duplicate the fuckuppery of the Bush Administration even if he tried. Assembling a cast of dimwits (Ashcroft, Gonzalez, Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al.) requires a perfect storm of bad luck and weak decision making. It's a one-of-a-kind freakshow of idiocy.

Marsh is basically arguing that it's more important to keep a questionable strategy intact for November than it is to let a little honesty slip into our political discourse. That's a reprehensible position to take. Even those who do see two peas in a pod when they look at Bush and McCain know, deep in their hearts, that Johnny is a slightly better guy than John.

Don't believe me? Ask Taylor's fan club. Her commenters are always jabbering about how they'll vote McCain if things don't break their way. Unless these "Democrats" are willing to sign up for a so-called Bush third term, they recognize that McCain isn't THAT bad. Either that, or they are just so anti-Obama that they've lost all control over their faculties. I suppose it's probably the second option, so I'll just leave it at that.

I simply can't understand why someone would argue that it's better to tell a lie or to commit a lie of omission than it is to be honest. I can't understand why anyone would value ends over means in that way when our current messes can so often be traced back to an unwillingness to confront issues, people and ideas in a way that keeps our intellectual credibility intact. That's the Marsh argument, though. Demonize McCain like crazy, even if you have to sidestep the truth, because it's a "winning strategy". Who else feels nauseated by this Monster-like thinking?


There's another reason Marsh's goofball missive is startling. It is wildly hypocritical. Follow along with me here, kids...

Marsh is willing to roast Barry O. because he won't play along with what she perceives as being the DNC's plan. You gotta be on the same page with the party to keep McCain out of the White House. Yet Marsh has no problem whatsoever with Clinton's past intimations that McCain would be a better President (or at least a more qualified President) than Barack Obama. In Taylor's world, it's okey dokey to slice the neck of one of your own party's most significant figures but it's not okay to deviate from the DNC anti-Republican plan.

You can fuck each other over with hot pokers, Barry and Hillary. That's consistent with party loyalty standards. Just don't admit that McCain might not be as bad as Bush. THAT is unacceptable. That seems to be the wildly hypocritical loyalty argument she's making.


Coming down on Obama for saying that McCain isn't as putrid as Bush completely ignores past statements made by Hillary Clinton, who comes out smelling like a rose in the Marsh post. Taylor arguest that Clinton's past comments about McCain only say that he'd be a formidable opponent--not that he'd be better than George Bush. That's enough of a difference for her to attack Barack and to lovingly caress the snakes that make up Monster's hair. It's also bullshit.

Clinton has told the world that McCain has crossed the Commander in Chief threshhold. She's consistently tried to portray herself and John McCain as the two legitimate contenders while Barack is, in her view, a guy who once gave a speech. The combined weight of Hillary's comments about John McCain indicate that she knows he's not a complete fuck up ala George W. Bush.

To pretend as though her past remarks and Bill's infamous "two people who love this country" crap, and assorted other examples of her campaign indicating that John McCain is not a slobbering piece of shit are somehow less at odds with the McSame strategy is the worst kind of bullshit cherry picking.

Hillary Clinton has had some halfway decent things to say about McCain while, sometimes in the same speeches, lambasting Bush. There's a reason why that happens. McCain isn't as bad as Bush. He might be bad, but he's not as bad. Everyone with a brain knows that. Too pretend as though it must be kept a secret is silliness. Pretending as if Hillary has somehow worked diligently to protect the party strategy by not clearly stating "McCain may be slightly less damaging than our current putz" is ignorant in the truest sense of the word.


The McSame post is all about the way Obama is hosing the Dems by not hating on McCain strongly enough. Although Marsh lays out this childlike argument with her usual level of acumen (not a compliment), she glosses over Obama's actual remarks. Oh, she provides them, but she only plays with the part she likes. Here's what Barry said:

"You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain," Obama said to cheers from a rowdy crowd in central Pennsylvania. Then he said: "And all three of us would be better than George Bush."

She's obsessed with those last eleven words. Oh, by the way, those eleven words were just about the only part of Obama's presentation that had anything to do with drawing a comparison between McCain and Bush. He didn't expound upon this notion that McCain was better than Dubya for hours and hours. We're talking about eleven words. Oh, and those eleven words came right after eight words that actually DO put the comment into perspective.

"Either Democrat would be better than John McCain."

Yeah, it really sounds like Barry wants a job on the Straight Talk Express, doesn't it? He didn't give a pro-McCain speech. He gave a pro-Obama speech, which is what you'd expect from a guy who's campaigning. He was nice enough, however, to give Hillary a little thumbs up, though. I think that's sort of nice to him considering that Hillary's fucked up rant about the dreaded eleven words were nothing more than a double-barrelled attack on Barack and John McCain.

Obama: "Either Democrat would be better than John McCain."

Monster (after criticizing McCain): "We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain, and I will be that nominee."

Who's "on the same page" with the Democratic party again, Taylor?

And who really thinks it's a good idea to get so worked up over a single sentence in a longer speech that isn't inaccurate or dishonest? Is that really the kind of politics we want?

It is in Taylor's marsh, I guess.

Me? I'm looking for something a little better. And something that makes a little more sense.


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