Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Is Game 7 Just A Formality?

I'm not a St. Louis or Texas (sign of the cross) fan, but last night's World Series Game 6 was a banquet, a feast, a festival for a baseball fan's sports fan's senses; one for the ages. Twice St. Louis were one strike away from elimination and they kept on coming. They wouldn't give up. This team's character is a tribute not only to the players, obviously, but to their manager, Tony La Russa. Whatever his magic (was it tossing those obnoxious Mafia shades that hid his eyes even on night games?) they should bottle it. La Russa harbors so many superstitions that he may be the obsessive-compulsive reality baseball version of Monk, the quirky TV detective whose detail-oriented neurosis is the source of his strength. He solves the puzzle by seeing things other people miss. In last night's battle of the managers, La Russa didn't make many game-changing moves, except to display Zen-like patience in the face of every reversal and a quiet confidence that rubbed off on his never-say-die players. In contrast, Ron Washington, the Texas manager, made (in my sports fan's opinion) some critical blunders that cost them the game and quite likely the Series.

I don't want to jinx St. Louis fans, because while I only dislike the Cardinals I hate Texas — you know, that whole scene with Nolan Ryan, George W. Bush, and its reality TV version of "Dallas" is obnoxious beyond words. And of course, I have to dive for the remote mute button before a single note of that hideous "God Bless America" is played and sung. Blame it on Major League Baseball for ramming faux patriotic religion down our throats, when we just want to enjoy the game with peanuts, Crackerjack, and a cold beer. And that goes for those "Athletes for Jesus Freaks" who credit J.C. for every goal, touchdown, or home run scored with that characteristic index fingers and eyes to the sky celebration. Sports and religious music don't mix. Period. (Much less politics. Are you listening, Albert Pujols, you jerk?)

Moving on, despite the best wingnut efforts to ruin it, the game between the lines can still be sublime, as it was last night. For all of St. Louis's moxie, Texas blew it. Ron Washington blew it. If your All-Star closer, Feliz, is on the mound and has a shaky outing, allowing two runs, a tied game, and extra innings after the Cardinals had gone 1-for-15 against him — what should the manager do? Answer: He sends his best right back out there. Well, if you hadn't scored to get those two runs back at the top of the 10th inning, you might bring in a journeyman veteran like Oliver. You figure he'll give you a couple of innings and your closer is on ice. But if you go ahead, you give the ball right back to your All-Star closer, no matter how shaky he was the previous inning. That's what he gets the big bucks for. What, is he supposed to pitch again today? You tell Feliz, "This is your lucky day. You have another chance to win this Series and be the hero, with a two-run cushion. Go back out there and get those last three outs."

Instead, and very predictably (I knew before Oliver threw his first pitch) southpaw veteran Darren Oliver promptly gave up back-to-back singles to the first two left-handed batters up for the Cardinals. The "percentages" game may work on paper, but not when you anger the stadium gods. The 41-year-old Oliver who was on the losing end of Division Series as a starter for Texas against the Yankees back in the 90s, had one save in 2010 and two in 2011 — stellar stats. But the bottom line is, you don't win a World Series with a journeyman pitcher on the mound by yanking your star closer before regaining the lead with a two-run cushion. It's a violation of stadium gods etiquette. It disrespects your adversary, and they'll let you know about it; it stiffens their spines.

Then Washington made his second mistake, which has its roots in that idiotic American League rule of the "Designated Hitter." Baseball was originally intended for all nine players to field their positions and bat, including the pitcher. So when the pitcher's s turn came up for Texas (National League rules in a NL stadium) with two outs, nobody on, Washington yanked his best middle reliever, Scott Feldman, who could have kept them in the game through extra innings with a string of scoreless innings pitched. The manager's indecision and impatience to chase a win, with a depleted bench and the premature removal of his star reliever, played itself out with Feldman grabbing a bat, then suddenly being called back in favor of a no-name pinch hitter, who ground out to end the inning. From Washington's perspective, sending his best long reliever up there with little time logged on batting practice, was conceding a bat for a pitcher. Hence the split-second confusion: do I keep him in the game or gamble with a low power/average bench player? Two outs, nobody on. Your call.

Joe Buck and Tim McCarver yucked that they'd take the trade (from the Cardinals' perspective) of Scott Feldman for Mark Lowe any day. The rest is the stuff of baseball lore. Hometown boy David Freese makes good, following his two-run game-tying triple with a game-winning homer against a Texas third-string relief pitcher. The mercilessly cruel, but just, stadium gods were smiling. What a game.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The third edition of the impressive Occupied Wall Street Journal has just been released online. It's really worth a read. And for the clueless MSM producers trying to figure out what it's all about, and who to interview, I urge you to read the Occupy Wall Street Journal and seek out any of the eloquent voices within it. What amazes me, in contrast to those pathetic tools in the Tea Party demonstrations, is how eloquent and talented the young people who produced this publication are. That they have so much to offer and cannot find employment in this society equal to their skills is a systemic crime. And when we have a criminal economic and government system that ceases to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of the population, then that system must be replaced with a democratic small "d" government and economy that will.

It's that simple. The Occupy Wall Street movement is an organic revolutionary people's uprising in the great tradition of our own revolutionary beginnings. The only question is whether this will be a revolution from within that shames the nation at large into a 21st century New Deal of wide ranging democratic reforms of our economic and political institutions, or whether it will morph into something else as yet unspoken. But the oligarchs and the ruling elites should understand that this is not a movement that can be managed, absorbed, controlled, or bought. The more they attempt to smear and suppress it, the stronger it will become. The New Deal of the 1930s was a systemic response to revolutionary conditions brought about by the Great Depression. These same conditions exist today. The oligarchs of those days privately, if reluctantly, acknowledged that "that man" as they called FDR, saved American capitalism from chaos and revolution. The right wing Tea Party Republican Congress is so universally reviled by Americans, with an approval rating of 9 percent — the lowest in history — that if the Democratic Party does not step into the political maelstrom and take this bull by the horns, as it did in 1932, then all hell will break loose. With unpredictable consequences. Because the American people, we of the 99 percent, have reached our breaking point. And we shall not be moved.

Declaration of the Occupation
Approved by consensus on Sept. 29, 2011
at the New York City General Assembly
in occupied Liberty Square.

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them. They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

POLITICO Postcript: Chris Rakes John Harris Flunky Over The Coals

Having pointed out to Chris Matthews the obvious re: his precious POLITICO (see previous post), wasn't it fortuitous that he should host a John Harris flunky on the topic of Cuban pretend Castro victim Marco Rubio ... And, wouldn't you know it, the Harris flunky took the bait!

Scripted or not, the POLITICO pretend "journalist" reflexively jumped to Tea Party darling Marco Rubio's defense over the Senator's buffoonish indignation at Wapo's discovery that his privileged status as the son of Cuban émigrés wasn't due to his parents' pretend victimization (according to Rubio in his alternate universes official bio) under the now-retired dictator in the Adidas jumpsuit. Chris jumped the flunky by, in effect, reading him the Riot Act on objective journalism:

JOHN HARRIS FLUNKY: "The most generous interpretation is that he (Marco Rubio) is learning about this along with the rest of us ..."

Chris immediately gets to the heart of the matter, asking the John Harris flunky to explain how Rubio's conversation over the dinner table with his parents never broached the details of their alleged flight from Castro's Cuba?

JOHN HARRIS FLUNKY: (Garbled explanation in which he behaves not as journalist but Rubio's agent, proxy, apologist ...)

CHRIS: "That's not journalism. That's not fact. That is pure, pure nonsensical elliptical thinking."

Gee, I couldn't have described what POLITICO does on a daily basis better than that! Good on Chris.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In Defense of Dylan Ratigan ... Would You Believe It?!

This blog's readers, whether fan or foe, will know that MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan is not among my favorite political pundit-TV hosts. In fact, I find Dylan unwatchable given his parade of reactionary Republican guests and screwed-up (as I see it) politics, which are all over the map and best described as neurotic. My words. Not that Dylan himself is. But his politics are. Just the other day Dylan hilariously described his personal politics as "up-down" instead of "lefty-righty." I can see it now: Dylan Ratigan, working class hero. Yeah, right. That's like saying Chris Matthews is an anarcho-syndicalist.

So given the fact that Dylan loves Ron Paul and Tom Coburn, both reactionary Republicans, both proponents of Big Government when it comes to interfering in a woman's constitutional rights over her reproductive decisions, and both slash-and-burn extreme anti-government wingnuts, exactly what kind of "liberal" does that make him, hmm ... POLITICO? Dylan loves Stephen Colbert who — sorry, brain-addled liberals, don't you know the joke's on you? — is a fellow traveler. And he'll throw in socialist independent Bernie Sanders, for good measure, just to muddy the waters.

So what does all this add up to? The weird political neurotic known as a "libertarian." There are two basic kinds of libertarians: The conservative, small government Ron Paul types, who are essentially Republicans who abhor religious zealotry and most civil liberties infringements — except when it comes to women, where they tend to be sexist, hang out with the 'lovelies' (Dylan's trophy 'power panel'... Jimmy, the ugly "Dem" is the control), and look the other way on abortion. The second type of "libertarian" is the Ayn Rand cultist, like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul (maybe Ron, too) in the political sphere. These elements are downright psychotic politicos. They have plans, budgets, and proposals to prove it. POLITICO, the political "news" outlet of record for the Idiot Punditocracy or, if you prefer, the Beltway Media, takes them very seriously.

People chuckle quite a bit at my incessant claims of inordinate POLITICO influence on the Idiot Punditocracy, to the point that it drives the false conservative narrative of the Idiot Punditocracy/Beltway Media; a narrative that is more in line with Fox propaganda than with MSNBC's presumed news and commentary mission. For all of their combined experience, it's astonishing to me that Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews just don't get it. Or maybe they do; they're both millionaires. I always get a kick out of Andrea hosting Rachel Maddow to explain the strange ways and views of liberals and progressives. Chris is easily influenced as well.

MSNBC politicos think my POLITICO descriptor is so much trash talking silliness. At least Rachel gets it. But she happens to be a Rhodes Scholar and has more brain matter than all of them combined. No mystery there. Just this evening, while Chris hosted POLITICO's Editor-in-Chief John Harris, I read another of many POLITICO hit pieces — most are aimed at liberals and progressives — this time targeting Dylan Ratigan and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Matt Taibbi, a known progressive, unlike Dylan, was essentially their "control" to smear Ratigan with false political branding by association.

In a story entitled "New target for OWS critics: Media" POLITICO reports above the side-by-side photos of hate radio host Rush Limbaugh and wingnut hack Andrew Breitbart that "conservatives looking to delegitimize the Occupy Wall Street protests have a new tactic — targeting journalists." Labeling Limbaugh and Breitbart "conservatives" is like, well, calling Dylan Ratigan a "liberal." The story written by Harris flunky Keach Hagey goes on to say "the criticisms are a kind of conservative twofer, allowing them to hit old targets like NPR and The New York Times by raising questions about their objectivity, while at the same time undermining the grass-roots claims of the new protest movement by suggesting it has professional help — or at least professional cheerleaders."

It's all bullshit. The NPR OWS connection was of a person hosting a radio opera show. Please. Essentially it comes down to this: NPR and the New York Times are legitimate news organizations with strict standards and codes of ethics. The wingnut attack dogs, who have no standards at all, and who lie, cheat, and smear at will, take advantage of this. And by the way, POLITICO, where's the faux outrage when Fox was acting as the pro bono media advertising arm of the corporatist TEA PARTY, funded by the Koch brothers, and your corporate bankrollers. It seems, if not for Rachel and Big Eddie, the sound of crickets wafted from the Beltway Media bastions.

On Breitbart's site, one wingnut insinuated that a New York Times freelance reporter, Natasha Lennard, was actually part of the movement and had "concealed her own apparent role in the Occupy protests, implying that her arrest was an abuse of press freedom."
Lennard, who has also written for Politico and Salon, is identified in the video by the panel’s moderator as a freelancer for the Times, and also as the Times reporter who was arrested along with seven hundred activists on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1. When Lennard reported on her arrest at the time, she appears to have concealed her own apparent role in the Occupy protests, implying that her arrest was an abuse of press freedom. She used her affiliation with the Times to win her early release.
Really? This is Ms. Lennard's account in the New York Times excerpted below (emphasis all mine):
As a reporter covering the march, conducted by the Occupy Wall Street protesters, I was in position to get a close view of some events on the bridge as the arrests began. But as one of those arrested, I was also well-positioned to describe what happened next, at least for a number of those detained. [...]

One by one, people were systematically turned around, handcuffed and lined up along the bridge behind police lines as the drizzle in the air turned into cold rain. I was herded onto a New York City bus with those arrested at the same time.

Among our group — predominantly comprised of twenty-somethings — were college students from Wesleyan, travelers from California who had been camping in Zuccotti Park, unemployed young people and some who sat silently and kept their back stories to themselves. [...]

Handcuffed and complaining of needing the bathroom, a number of people on my bus sang songs (a few too many Beatles songs) to pass the time and keep up spirits. We were kept on the bus for approximately three hours before being taken in to the Midtown North precinct at 54th Street and Ninth Avenue.

As a freelancer, I did not have an official police press pass. I was, however, fortunate enough to be the first to be processed from my bus, with only a disorderly conduct violation summons, in no small measure because of my editors’ contacting Police Headquarters to ensure my swift release.
What we have here, folks, are back-to-back examples of (a) right wing propaganda, above, and (b) Lennard's reporting (both excerpted) to which you can link to read the full account. It's an excellent, first-person report of events as they went down. Can anyone spot the "abuse of press freedom" — perhaps it was the reporter's self-explanatory tweet below? And using one's "affiliation" with the media organization is what reporters do as a matter of course when, e.g., they're arrested!

But there's more. The Breitbart site ominously accuses Lennard of participating as "featured speaker" in a discussion "among anarchists, communists, and other radicals as they examine the theory, strategy and tactics of the Occupy protests." If you watch the video (Google it, please — certain sites I do not link to) there are a bunch of peeps crowded into a tiny bookstore, exchanging views about OWS. How this wingnut divined that the people were "anarchists, communists, and other radicals" is an example of when wingnuts profile in which conclusions about a person's political ideology can be drawn simply by looking at them or listening to a few disjointed questions. Liberals and progressives, who live in a world where the truth and the facts rule, will indict wingnuts with their own words and actions. We have a higher standard, that sets us apart — and a higher intellect, to boot.

Here, the Breitbart flunky smears the audience and Lennard by insinuating they're "anarchists and communists" and Lennard's "answer suggests that she identifies with the anarchist faction holed up at Zuccotti Park–and that she identifies with efforts by Occupy activists to conceal their true beliefs and goals."
For example, at roughly 1:15:15, an audience member asks a question about how to manage the growing ideological divisions among anarchists and communists as they form “a new society” through the Occupy movement. Lennard’s answer suggests that she identifies with the anarchist faction holed up at Zuccotti Park–and that she identifies with efforts by Occupy activists to conceal their true beliefs and goals.
Well, I listened to the entire segment and watched the Breitbart excerpt. Notice that the Breitbart flunky infers the question directly references "ideological divisions among anarchists and communists" as if those terms were part of the audience member's question. But they weren't. She never mentioned "anarchists and communists" in her question, which asked, simply, how to go about forming a "new society." If I recall my history correctly, that's basically what our Founding Fathers aimed to do. Lennard's reply is objectively true, perhaps too frank for our post-9/11 semi-authoritarian, semi-police state. Hello, are the wingnuts familiar with Ghandi and Martin Luther King's peaceful civil disobedience protests (rhetorical question):
"The state of the square now…[people] would not speak at the park. Because being an outright anti-authoritarian or an anarchist is not really something that people like to be live streamed around the world with a fucking police pen around you. So there is a silencing that’s sort of gone on without much addressing, because to address it would be to out oneself. So if you’re talking — and this also addresses the question of escalation; it’s like — yes, there are a lot of people talking about many different ideas. Do they all want all of those ideas live streamed to the entire world on the assumption that everything is permitted and legal, when it quite clearly isn’t? So there is already a tendency in the park that means backing away from anti-authoritarian tendencies that don’t fall into pre-existing permitted institutional structures, or that can’t be coded by them. So I think there’s a problem with the way the park operates now that doesn’t allow for this kind of coming together."
Of course, one of the other "featured guests" said this, by way of a retort: "The idea that representative democracy is somehow authoritarian ... Authoritarian would be if the cops came in and arrested all of us for having this meeting. This is not an authoritarian system we live under." It was never mentioned on Breitbart's "Big (read that, "Fascist") Government." As the video went viral on the wingnut blogosphere, Lennard explained:
“I spoke at the panel independently. It was not an 'organizing meeting'. I have no contract or anything of the sort with the Times. If anything, the misnomer was the moderator describing me as a New York Times freelancer as if there were an ongoing agreement or contract. I had done some freelance work for them in previous weeks -- namely stringing and one firsthand report of Brooklyn Bridge experience.”
So much for the wingnut smears. Here's Natasha firing back on Twitter at the wingnut ratbastards. For the record:
POLITICO, I will say again and reiterate because, Andrea and Chris, I actually read their conservative, corporatist bias every day — over and above the political rumor-mill that you guys consider "hard news" — here's one more example of their collaborationism. It's insidious and almost as bad as when Chris parrots Bill O'Reilly's "far left" and "hard left" nonsense. Keach Hagey writes: "The cases of Ratigan and Taibbi, two outspoken liberals, are even harder to pin down when it comes to journalistic ethics." Excuse me? Two "outspoken liberals" as in "conservatives" like Limbaugh and Breitbart? Tell you what, Hagey you fucking tool, why don't you borrow some of my adjectives, eh. Got plenty of 'em.

Somehow, I don't think Dylan would object much at all when I correct the record to say he is most definitely not a liberal. Dylan, whose good intentions led him to address the OWS protesters at Zuccotti Park, and who I believe was punked by a bearded individual claiming to be a Teabagger from Texas — c'mon, and you call yourself a Manhattanite, Dylan, with such pathetic "street smarts"? — put his two cents into a couple of e-mails offering innocuous advice to the protesters and to take their concerns to the attention of Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Good idea. Hey, it's a free country and last I checked freedom of speech hadn't yet been abridged. Dylan could never influence the movement, no matter how hard he tries. So if it helps his own political development leading, say, to a watchable program, I say it's all good.

Here's more of the Harris flunky: "Taibbi’s leaked email shows, in essence, a boiled down version of his article, “My Advice to the Wall Street Protesters.” Linking Taibbi with Ratigan simply because they share an e-mail listserv — which is classic wingnut peeping tom-ism, hacking into people's private e-mails — along with other "radicals" like Noam Chomsky (interestingly, only three or so "controversial" names appear in the blacked-out wingnut screenshot with many names, possibly conservatives too), is how these wingnut scumbags roll. I'm sure Dylan wouldn't have a problem being associated with the awesome Matt Taibbi, but it's this sick obsession that wingnuts have of trying to smear one person's politics with another's simply because they have a listserv in common that is utterly contemptible. They aren't out to disclose some bigger truth; they're all about trying to ruin people's careers, to get their pound of flesh.

According to the Harris flunky, MSNBC's "embrace" of OWS "echoes the way Fox "News" embraced the early Tea Party protests." Not even close, assholes, and you know it. This video calls the ratbastards out — are you paying attention, Chris and Andrea?

MSNBC has embraced Occupy Wall Street in a way that echoes the way Fox News embraced the early tea party protests, with everyone from Tamron Hall to Ed Schultz anchoring from Zuccotti Park as the protests gained steam. But considering that MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann for his equally un-shocking donations to Democratic candidates, because of NBC News’s one-size-fits-all ethics policy, it does raise questions about where MSNBC draws the line between opinionated journalist and activist. An MSNBC spokesman could not be reached for comment Monday night.=

Monday, October 24, 2011

And She's A GREAT Goalkeeper, Too ...

Here's HOPE SOLO, USA women's soccer team goalkeeper and MUSE of the recent Women's World Cup, showing her Rumba moves. See, this is an essential part of a goalkeeper's training — flexibility and range. Her partner got a bit overenthused in the end:

Want more HOPE? Here she does the Foxtrot; the Waltz; the Jive; and the Cha Cha Cha.

Monty Python's The Original OWS (Occupy Camelot)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

OCCUPY WALL STREET WATCH: Naomi Wolf Storms The Barricades ... Wow!

I know it's hard, folks, but pay attention ... um, because feminist author Naomi Wolf has some very relevant things to say about our First Amendment protections. Good thing I know and, more importantly, understand it better than, say, the Teabaggers, because this video clip can drive one to distraction. Naomi's arrest by the NYPD and the subsequent nefarious involvement of Homeland Security is the stuff police states are made of. And though Naomi likes to describe herself as just a "middle-aged couch potato intellectual" she's truly so much more!

If Occupy Wall Street has a Founding Father, let us nominate Michael Moore for the honor. Michael's been toiling away at this for quite a while now, and the final scene of Capitalism: A love Story seems almost prophetic in light of recent events. Michael, the people HEARD YOU! I think those two Thomases, Paine and Jefferson would be proud of you, too:

And thanks be to Keith for shining a light on OWS.