James J. Patterson

  • Kick’m While They’re Down!

    Four Days after the 2008 Presidential Election, on November 6, 2008, James J Patterson had this to say, “The 2010 Congressional Election Campaign began on November 5th”…would that it had. A reprint of that column is here, and may prove insightful as we head into the stretch run…

    Now that the Republican/Conservative era is at an end, it’s time to debunk, hopefully once and for all, some of the fallacies, obfuscations, and out right lies by which all Republicans live. Here are Patterson’s Ten Points All Democrats and Progressives should keep in mind and never forget!

    Good Bye And Good Riddance!

    There follows Patterson’s Ten Points to keep in mind as we move into the Post Republican Era, so we don’t have to go through all this crap again anytime soon!

    1. If you give a wealthy person a tax break, all it means is that they will write a smaller check to the government at tax time. That’s all it means. Period. They don’t run out and create jobs, they don’t stimulate the economy, they simply keep the money by spending less on their taxes.

    2. If you restore the relatively modest tax increase on people earning more than $250,000 per year, it actually affects them not at all. It takes not a single bottle of Scotch off their shelves, nor does it deprive them of a single gallon of high-test gasoline for the Lexus’s and SUVs in their driveways, nor does it prevent their children from going to the very finest schools. Neither will it prevent them from giving $28,000 to the right wing candidate of their choice next time around so they can write a smaller check to the government at tax time.

    3. Conversely, if you give a person making a middle class wage a tax break, he or she will go right out and spend it to improve their lot in life, therefore helping the economy.

    4. Government programs are paid for only one way, the rising tide that lifts all boats. Make your policies in favor of a healthy middle-class economy and the tax base will increase and deficits and debt will begin to reverse themselves. But if you follow the Republican method of taking an otherwise healthy economy and shape your policies to enrich a few sacred cows, i.e., the arms industry and your wealthy corporate constituents, you will get a situation identical to the one we have now: war, debt, and oppression.

    5. There is no such thing as a “Free Market.” There never has been and there never will be. For as long as moneyed interests can change the rules of law and marketplace to give them an advantage they will do so. In this respect, the myth of the “Free Market” is as Utopian a right wing idea as Marxism is a Utopian left wing idea. Neither can work for the same reason; too much power in too few hands. History has proven that a regulated, managed economy is the only thing that makes any sense at all.

    6. People love their homeland wherever they come from. A person from Ecuador loves their country as much as any American loves theirs. The difference is that America is supposed to stand for an ideal that was spawned in the Enlightenment period of Western Civilization. I have never met a Republican who understands or appreciates the difference. Republicans love America because it is their homeland. The problem is, they think it’s their homeland! They think the rest of us are merely visiting. The current Republican culture has betrayed their disdain for free speech, voting rights/democracy, other cultures, or anything outside of their narrow bourgeois sensibilities. And while we’re on the topic, a Republican is by definition supposed to be, among other things, conservative, a conservative is by nature a conformist, and a conformist cannot be an iconoclast, therefore it is simply impossible for John McCain to be a Maverick! And he proved that in his despicable campaign.

    7. This one is important for Democrats to understand. Republicans hate you. They hate you with the same vitriolic loathing that most people reserve for child molesters (I’m not kidding, didn’t McCain attempt to brand Obama as wanting to teach sex to kindergartners? The right wing floated ads in Minnesota branding Al Frankin as a pornographer. Why? Because they know that their base will believe it.) Democrats simply don’t carry the same bilious hatred in their souls for anyone the way Republicans hate them. Most Dems refuse to believe that it’s true, but it is. When John McCain snapped at Tom Brokaw during a debate that he wouldn’t appoint Brokaw Secretary of the Treasury, it wasn’t merely a “towel snapping moment” as one pundit quipped, what he meant was, he wouldn’t trust the economy with a filthy liberal like Brokaw. The same contempt was seen in another debate when he couldn’t even bring himself to look at Obama, or when he referred to Obama as”that one” It was sheer hatred, pure and simple, naked and ugly. Liberals are just too nice to see it for what it really is. And now, after purging their party of all moderates, only the truly hateful Republicans remain. For that reason, Obama would be foolish not to purge the government, especially at the highest level, of every Repub he can find. If he doesn’t, sure as you are born, they will sabotage his administration the way they did Bill Clinton’s.

    8. Remember this, Republicans think God is the cause of recessions and economic depressions, not their greedy ill-informed policies. They think God is responsible for the weather change and warming of the planet, not their filthy policies of pollution and devotion to the quarterly bottom line. They think they are defending God when they declare wars on the heathens from other countries while robbing them of their natural resources and their human labor.

    9. It isn’t over. Now that they are on the run, it’s time to pursue them with great diligence and ferocity until they are forced to change and adapt their ideology into something useful in the world. Don’t let up.

    10. The 2010 Congressional Election Campaign Began on November 5th! The first mid-term election, traditionally, goes against the newly elected administration. It was the first mid-term that delivered Gingrich’s uprising against Clinton. The Dems must reverse that and grow their majority, and to do that, they must start immediately.

  • To Be Or Not To Be… A Pig With Lipstick?

    Artist Greg Robison asks Patterson’s Vagabonds to Compare and contrast!

    This Is A Watercolor Of A Pig…


    Is It Still A Watercolor Of A Pig?

    You Decide !


    Our Midwest Vagabond, Mancheenee, has weighed in with his thoughts on the Democratic and Republican Nominees. Consequently, at his request, we take our first survey of the Free Thinkers of the Inner Sanctum, Patterson’s Committee of Vagabonds.

    Mancheenee, cultural critic, and lifelong movie buff, after viewing both Democratic and Republican conventions, summed up his impressions of the two party’s annual nominating galas. Of the Republicans he has this to say, “That convention was the creepiest thing I have ever witnessed.” 

    To the Democrats, he has a simple command. Donning his best William Wallace persona from Mel Gibson’s classic film, Braveheart, Mancheenee’s message to all loyal Democrats everywhere, (you really have to give this your strongest Scottish accent) is:


    We couldn’t agree more. So in an effort to Unite the Clans, I have asked Citizen of the Old Republic, Jay Goliard, to send a summons to the Committee of Vagabonds for their impressions. But first, here’s my take:

    Dennis Kucinich said it all in his six minutes allotted to him at the Convention. What? You didn’t see it? Click here and you’ll find out why!

    First to answer the Mancheenee’s call is author Henry (Hank) W. Thomas

    – John McCain’s shockingly irresponsible VP selection might have energized his right-wing base, but it’s also got me really angry and determined to fight back. Sarah Palin’s insulting and lie-filled harangue to the convention Wednesday night gave them all the red meat they could stuff into their bellies, sure, but I also have to wonder how many people like me were tipped off to the real danger lurking behind that frozen, teeth-baring smile. This is clearly a person who will do or say anything to satisfy her raging ambition. And it would be a big mistake for anybody to underestimate her–she’s surely got the chops to make a go at this premature and unexpected grab for the brass ring. As a result, it makes me want to work that much harder and give that much more to see that she goes back to Alaska. Game on, Sarah Barracuda!

    And sooner or later she’s going to have to come out of the cocoon they’ve kept her in to face questions about her voracious appetite as a mayor and governor for earmarks from Alaska’s indicted congressional delegation; about inserting the governors office in family matters; and yes, about how her support for abstinence-only sex education has worked out within her own family. Not to mention whether there’s the slightest reason to believe she would be prepared in knowledge or disposition to ascend to the presidency should the 72 year-old, four-time cancer survivor McCain succumb early in his presidency. President William Harrison died, after all, within a month
    of his inauguration. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Sarah

    Palin could become the greatest single national security threat faced by the country, which is doubly ironic because it’s the only thing this ticket has to run on.

    One more thing: I’m just fed up to here with these religious nuts, the vast majority of them Republican, who claim to care so very much for the so-called “culture of life” when it comes to unconscious fetuses, then ferociously guard their precious tax money against any use of it for people who are already alive and suffering while at the same time happy to waste unlimited amounts for guns and war. If Jesus were in America today, I think I know which political party he’d belong to, and I think he’s going to have some choice words to say to the hypocrites operating under his name when they ascend to their special place beside him in heaven.


    Alvo (Alvis Pheromone) Johnson decided to make a more visual statement, so he went searching through the Palin Family Foto Album. Here’s what he found!
    – Jamus; some photos of the trophy vice and her book bannin’, baby birthin’, oil guzzlin’, trooper firin’, creationism teachin’, Roe v. Wade overrulin’ kith and kin.

    Giving McCain supporters a chubby!

    (I know, I know, they found someone to claim they altered the photo but the person won’t identify his or herself, looks real enough to me!)

    And you thought the Bush’s were scarey stupid!

    I doubt anyone altered this.

    Teenagers will always choose abstinence over fun! It’s easy! And shows Republican values at their best!

    Drinking and dialing!


    English professor and bookstore owner Jamie Brown has this to add:

    – Dear Goliard,
    You are clearly either a masochistic SOB or you thrive on getting your friends at each other’s throats!

    Obama is often criticized for being an inspirational speaker as if that’s a bad thing — I guess the reasoning is that he’s all show, but I don’t buy it. FDR was an inspiring speaker as well, who, like Obama, had to overcome hardships which made him, over and above his mere native intelligence, empathetic to the downtrodden and disenfranchised. FDR’s polio made him a better man; Obama’s childhood difficulties — absent father, a mother who must have been asked innumerable times why she adopted a black baby, the inherent racism in a society where race was still a determining factor. It was, I am sure, partly because Hawaii is a multi-cultural, pluralistic state that Obama’s mom thought he could thrive there.

    Even though FDR was the child of privilege, and entered office on, essentially, a campaign of “Anybody but Hoover!”, he had no plan whatsoever as to how to help dig America out of the Depression. Obama has some specific policy initiatives which he has lined out, and they show the measure of thoughtfulness of the man (as well as the strength of the advisors with whom he has surrounded himself). Obama picked Biden precisely because they had some basic policy differences, and Obama seems to thrive on having a broad spectrum of ideas from which the choose, a wide variety of opinions to which to listen in the process of reaching a decision. While Obama can run on an “Obama’s not Bush” platform — and make no mistake, if he wins it will be because people are voting for that reason! — we are incredibly lucky that he’s apparently much better prepared than FDR was, although FDR is reported to have said, “We’ll try something, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll keep trying until we find what DOES work!” May Obama remain as open in his tenure in office.

    Here’s another thing — like many Americans, when they criticize Obama for his so-called “lack of experience,” I hear the message “He hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be corrupted!” Like me, I’m sure there are many who think, in fact, it probably speaks quite well of him.

    McCain seemed vacuous and unsure of himself, as though his handlers had so scripted him he could not be himself. Clearly that’s been the case since he eliminated his opposition in the primaries. Now he delivers a line, pauses, and then grins as though he’s been told, “Deliver the line firmly, then count to four, and smile at the audience.” He couldn’t look phonier if he were reading from a teleprompter or had a “hearing aid” in his ear, which enabled him to listen to his handlers ala Reagan, and our current President.

    And here I’d like to request Constitutional Amendment that requires that anyone who stands as a candidate for the office have an IQ of at least 110. The smartest of our last three Republican Presidents was Bush I (George Herbert Walker Bush, W’s daddy), than whom both of our last two Democratic Presidents have been smarter. A Peanut farmer who was also, incidentally, a nuclear engineer, and a Rhodes Scholar. Eliminate Bush Sr. and the Democrats are at least eight times smarter, individually, than the other two Republicans combined!

    Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached for hypocrisy as much as anything else. Send young people off to war like gung-ho leaders who hide in the safety of their air-conditioned offices stateside, both of whom managed to get out of serving in Viet Nam. Rumsfeld too, while we’re at it. Cowards all!


    Ron Baker, Wordwrights Publisher and Beat Vagabond par excellance, is more optimistic.

    And here’s what (Broadway) Danny Rose had to say:

    – Groggy over morning coffee, I’m reflecting on one of the most frequently heard reactions to John McCain’s speech: It had no over-arching theme.

    The pundits says this as if the speech’s lack of coherence was a simple act of omission, an ingredient left out of the recipe, as if a baker left the sprinkles off of a cup cake.

    The truth is, the speech had contradictory, self-canceling themes that constitute a kind of political fraud.

    “Nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself,” John McCain said at the climax of the speech.

    Let’s imagine the platform of a leader who actually believed in such a creed. It might include support for national service programs like the Peace Corps or Teach for America or like the “tuition-for-service” program articulated last week by Obama. It might include a challenge to voters to sacrifice to help the nation confront the energy crisis, the debt crisis or the entitlement crisis. It might include an activist foreign policy doctrine that called on America to build international institutions, or to intervene to stop genocide or human rights violations, or (if he wanted to sound like George Bush) to spread Democracy across the world.

    But what political platform did McCain announce? Lower taxes. Larger markets. Choice in education and health care. A government that “works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.” A foreign policy concerned primarily if not exclusively with defeating “threats.”

    This is definitely a cause: it’s the cause of the same old movement conservatism that’s been trying to wreck our country for 40 years. Which makes a mockery of McCain’s claim to be someone who “marches to the beat of his own drum.” Which in turn makes a mockery of his claim that “I fight for you.”

    If you really think about it, McCain seems to be saying: the “cause greater than yourself” that calls us all to service is “you.”

    Of course, McCain hopes that we don’t think about it. We might be reminded of Obama’s warning that in the Republican “ownership society” we are all on our own.

    Built on fraudulent premises, McCain’s speech is not like a cup cake without sprinkles or a pie without ice cream.

    It’s like sugar coating on a poison pill.


    McCain’s speech was like:
    a facade without a building
    a turd without a pooper-scooper
    an ambien without a pillow
    a Bush without a Rove
    a fish without a bicycle
    a pie without a pie


    Gargoyle & Paycock Press publisher Richard Peabody, interrupted his sojourn at a writing colony in upstate NY to file this response;
    The old John McCain? Which one:

    1959 John: The wild man who partied like a lunatic and graduated near the bottom of his class.

    1969 John: War hero. Got shot down; I’m not saying that he should have taken his training more seriously, but crashing 5 planes? Anybody can have bad luck in war, but you have to work hard first to make me feel sorry for you.

    1979 John: Ditched his first wife to marrying into a powerful, wealthy, connected organized crime family so he could make a career change and go into politics

    1989 John: After cavorting in the Caymans with Keating – of Savings and Loan Scandal infamy – gets caught pocketing $112,000 (and doesn’t report it to the IRS). Gets off scot-free

    1999 John: Uses campaign finance reform to whitewash his influence peddling sins and runs for President as a maverick

    2008 John: Embraces Bush’s tax cuts, the far right religious agents of intolerance, a right wing looney as VP who believes in using science to find the oil but not to clean up the mess from oil, who believes in using science to protect her personal health but not our shared planet.

    McCain is a fraud who lies, cheats and steals.

    Please don’t tell me that the liberal writers from the WaPo can’t see into the true nature of his character. I know stuff gets edited, but, please tell us that you people have the capacity to, if not write about, then at least perceive the truth.

    When we’ve lost the ability to see and speak or write the truth, then we have lost our way.

    The New York Times did an investigation and called out ***Sen. McCain for marrying into an organized crime family***.
    Look here
    It would be nice if the good folks at the WaPo would investigate this matter.

    If it was false, then McCain would have sued the NYT. So I’m assuming that the above article is true. Which begs the question: **Why isn’t the WaPo investigating and reporting this?**

    (But Wait! Peabody Isn’t Finished!)

    – This is an anti-intellectual country. The GOP is painting Obama as an intellectual (like Kerry, like Carter, like Stevenson). Obama is one of the most inspiring speakers since JFK. Maybe we’re all just that thirsty for those words? And I laughed at McCain’s choice of Palin just like everybody else did. But man, I listened to her speech and I see now that it was a masterstroke. Rove is brilliant. Evil, but brilliant. Whereas Reagan and W. pretend their casual down-home just folks jive, she’s fer real. She’s just like my sister. The doomed shotgun wedding kid, the doomed son off to Iraq (everybody forgets that Biden’s got a son en route as well), the Downs infant. You couldn’t get away with that story in a novel. And then tie it to McCain’s POW story. Palin energized the GOP like nobody has since Newt. She’s a GOP wet dream. One woman pundit said, it’s just like the GOP to bring out an ex-cheerleader and start wagging their tails. Her speech had the largest audience of anything political in history (save for Obama’s acceptance speech a few nights before). I know I live in a liberal bubble. I know all of my friends believe that after 8 years of this current disaster that the Dems should have an easy victory, a walk in the park. Well, it’s going to be close enough to steal. Because the latent racism in this country is palpable enough that the majority of states would rather anybody than a black man. I don’t know. A look at the projected electoral map shows McCain winning the entire south, majority of the Midwest (save for Illinois) and Arizona. Can Obama win with New England, NY, Illinois, California and the Pacific Northwest? Why does it always come down to Ohio, Florida, and now Virginia?

    My immediate reaction was that if Biden goes after Palin like he normally does in a debate she’ll get sympathy from all kinds of independents. He has to use kid gloves while she rips him a new one. I also thought maybe the Dems should be running Caroline Kennedy instead of Biden. Or maybe Michael Palin.

    Lastly, I’m raising two little girls. Trying to teach them the difference between truth and lies. One is at that stage where she follows her cousin around, idolizing her, and to be accepted will say anything. When the 13-year-old says, “I love Taylor Swift.” My 8-year-old says, “Oh yeah, me too.”  Never having heard her before. Drives the older cousin up the wall. And yet we live in a society with a political system that uses that Al Davis maxim–“ Just win baby.”  I mean in reality these guys all know each other and hangout. They manage to coexist. But for the public they lie, distort, and say anything. Hillary’s bullet driven biz, Mitt lashing out against the Eastern establishment? Say what? The liberal media? The same one that’s been so gentle with McCain that it’s scary. No, the lesson in the USA is that lies = victory.

    Gotta love it. Most people didn’t note that we entered Pakistan this past week to go after the Taliban. Hmm? Most people don’t know that Amy Goodman and her camera crew were roughed up at the convention. How about Putin saying that the entire biz with Georgia was part of McCain’s political campaign? (The fact that one of his chief people is a lobbyist for Georgia. That oil pipeline just so close…)

    This country is so clearly divided in half on almost every topic. So busy going into debt we can never climb out of. (I loved the Olympics being described as Debtor vs Landlord. ) China owns us now.

    So here I sit at a writer’s colony in upstate NY founded by Adam Hochshield of Mother Jones. A place the McCain-loving local populace describes as “Commie.”  Hardly. Oliver Sacks comes here to write. The guy who wrote “Wicked.” Many many others. I have a room looking out on a beautiful mountain lake and a porch and I’m even staying in the room Hochshield grew up in.

    But ya know, he never comes back here. Too much guilt. His father may have created and saved The Adirondack Park but he also made $$$ from dubious business in Africa. The son turned his back on all of it. Yin and yang.

    At the same time this is a country where John McCain says if you’re a millionaire you’re only middle class. I mean that’s funny, but also almost true. It’s like Dr. Evil returning in our time and demanding a ransom of 1 million dollars. Err, I live in Arlington where 1 million dollars won’t buy 2 houses in a block. We’re not rich. Not by anybody’s standards. And yet to buy an Arlington block you’d need 10 million or more. So what do these people actually make who own the world? I mean if you own a block in Mid-town NYC how much is that? I have relatives in NC who can’t compute living costs in DC. I’m the same at trying to fathom the riches beyond riches that the powers that be in this country actually have at their fingertips. Do you believe that those people want to give up power after the past 8 years? I doubt they’ll go easily. Here comes the Manchurian Candidate.

    Like David Crosby said, “What are their names, and on what streets do they live?”

    Ahh, Rove could wrap shit in a flag and sell it to people hungry for a little red, white and blue.


    Angela Corelis checks in to remind us that the Republicans have nominated a book banning enthusiast!

    – Banned Books in Wasilla

    Let’s spend a few moments browsing the list of books Mayor Sarah Palin tried to get town librarian Mary Ellen Baker to ban in the lovely, all-American town of Wasilla, Alaska. When Baker refused to remove the books from the shelves, Palin threatened to fire her. The story was reported in Time Magazine and the list comes from the librarian.net website.

    I’m sure you’ll find your own personal favorites among the classics Palin wanted to protect the good people of Wasilla from, but the ones that jumped out at me were the four Stephen King novels (way to go Stephen, John Steinbeck only got three titles on the list), that notorious piece of communist pornography “My Friend Flicka,” the usual assortment of Harry Potter books, works by Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain (always fun to see those two names together), Arthur Miller, and Aristophanes, as well as “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (insert your own Bristol Palin joke here), and the infamous one-two punch of depravity: “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” But the cherry on the sundae, the topper, is Sarah Palin’s passionate, religious mission to clear the shelves of the Wasilia Public Library of that ultimate evil tome: “Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.” That’s the one with “equality,” “free speech” and “justice” in it.

    Go over to your bookcase and take down one of the books you’ll find on the list (I know you’ve got a couple) and give it a read in honor of the founding fathers. Then tell me I’m not the only voter who doesn’t want this woman within thirty feet of the United States Constitution.

    Sarah Palin’s Book Club

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
    Blubber by Judy Blume
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
    Carrie by Stephen King
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    Christine by Stephen King
    Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Cujo by Stephen King
    Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
    Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
    Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
    Decameron by Boccaccio
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
    Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
    Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    Forever by Judy Blume
    Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
    Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter20and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
    Have to Go by Robert Munsch
    Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
    How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    Impressions edited by Jack Booth
    In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
    It’s Okay if You Don’t Love Me by Norma Klein
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
    Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
    Lysistrata by Aristophanes
    More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
    My House by Nikki Giovanni
    M y Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
    Night Chills by Dean Koontz
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
    One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Ordinary People by Judith Guest
    Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Collective
    Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
    Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
    Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
    Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    Separate Peace by John Knowles
    Silas Marner by George Eliot
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
    Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    The Bastard by John Jakes
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
    The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
    The Grapes of Wrath by John20Steinbeck
    The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
    The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
    The Living Bible by William C. Bower
    The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
    The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
    The Pigman by Paul Zindel
    The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
    The Shining by Stephen King
    The Witches by Roald Dahl
    The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
    Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
    To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
    Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
    Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween
    Symbols by Edna Barth

    (I know, I know, they say this isn’t the real list, the real one is more than likely a lot longer and includes Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, and Good Night Moon! I’m certain that Where The Wild Things Are is required reading!)


    Meanwhile, novelist and literary maven, Joanna Biggar waxes nostalgic for classic telelvision!

    – Dear Goliard,
    Well evil and brilliant, Rove strikes again. (What ever happened to three strikes and you’re out?). Palin? It’s driven me back to “Northern Exposure” reruns (which, by the way I love as sit-com, never having contemplated it as a template for a power-play for rejuvenating the burnt-out GOP). I see it all now: Shelly gives up the go-go boots, cedes the teddy-bear to her own unruly and ever-expanding brood, and morphs from moose-killing Mama-in-Chief, to Maurice in heels, ruler of the world, her own old guy still in tow, still smiling at whatever cute antics she comes up with next out of that Wasilia Wal-Mart think-tank. And once she’s leveled whatever remains standing of Washington, as promised, she can lead us all in a big cheer and group hug at the pipeline. Hey, the caribou love it, so they tell us.
    Even scarier, to me, is that I sort of get where she’s coming from, having been to Alaska a year ago. She definitely represents the mainstream up there, and the best of them at that (consider Don Young, Ted Stevens, et. al.) Worse, this could really happen.
    To the Really Scary Places to Visit list, I have two suggested entries.
    1. The disappearing Arctic
    2. Fairbanks
    Welcome to the future, kids?
    JB here, Blue in my Obama button


    Actor, comedian, writer, and over-all funnyman, Wes Johnson, has had enough!

    Vice President. That’s all we’re hearing about these days. And I’ve had enough of it. It’s not like it matters anymore, but there is an actual Presidential election going on. Barrack Obama vs John McCain — two guys you rarely hear anything about anymore unless they’re talking about which animals would look best in lipstick (a little freaky if you ask me). But there you have it. It’s all about Northern Sarah these days.

    Sara Palin as Vice President will drag her ever growing brood of five up to the Naval Observatory where they’ll install a nice double wide. Forget the Beverly Hillbillies; Alaska is the place ya wanna be. Juno?

    Here’s what I think we should do with both Biden and Palin – toss em both off the tickets and go back to the way we used to do it in this country. Back in the days of powdered wigs (and frankly, John McCain could really use a powdered wig on that crypt keeper skull of his). Back in olden times, whoever lost the election BECAME Vice President!! EASY!! John Adams loses to George Washington, and BAM! He has to spend two terms staring in to the face of that wooden grin. Adams finally makes it into the White House over Thomas Jefferson? Big Red gets the Number two seat – think about how well that would work out today. Obama now has someone with foreign policy experience on his ticket, and McCain has someone with a life expectancy that passes GroundHog Day. Imagine how that would have worked if we had Bush Gore in office instead of Cheaney. “Mr President, I’d like to have another word with you about Global Warming.” Bush would have resigned in 2002!!!

    Here are the facts – until FDR did it, the Presidential candidate didn’t chose his own running mate – the party did. You think we’d have instant celebrities like Sarah Palin getting the nod if the party still picked the VP candidate? Not if Mitt Romney had anything to say about it we wouldn’t have. I mean, to be honest, the Vice President, one heartbeat away from the presidency gets picked NOT by Primaries and debates, but on the whim of ONE MAN who hasn’t even taken an oath of office yet. The choices made by Obama and McCain could end up being our actual President someday. Gerald Ford? Only Nixon voted for him. Tippacanoe and Tyler too? Well, after William Henry Harrison croaked just a month into his presidency, it was pretty much just Tyler, wasn’t it? Tippicanoe and Palin too, anybody?

    Listen, if the choices of two possible President’s of the United States are going to hang on the whim of just one single individual who just happens to really like former models, I say we take it back to powdered wig times and make the loser REALLY eat the winners dust for the next four years. Either that, or let’s do something the American People can really get behind, like Jello Wrestling. Better yet, get a pig and a pittbull, slather em in lipstick and let Michael Vick put em in a pen together – winner take all. You think that sounds ugly? Just wait and see what the next two months have in store – you ain’t seen nothin yet.

    More Later…

  • Greetings

    Please allow me to introduce myself: I’m the man the first ten amendments to the American Constitution were intended to protect. That’s right, it’s me. I’ve read them, memorized a few even, and I can tell you, until further notice, I’m watching my back. Let’s review: Bill of Rights

  • It’s About America, Stupid!

    How Did We Get Here?

    Six months ago you could ask any Democrat from Santa Barbara to Portland, Maine, and they would have said the same thing regarding the eight or so candidates seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination:

    “I’ll take any of them!”

    But “time changes everything” as the old song goes, and Chris Mathews was right when he quipped to Keith Olbermann during primary campaign coverage mid-season, “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.”


    And now, like jealous lovers, the Obama and Clinton supporters look at each other with the kind of juvenile contempt we only save for high school crushes that go awry.

    Typically, my fellow Dems are filled with sour grapes and tending toward being above it all once again. They fold their arms and sit back and wait for their candidate to do something overtly political (imagine that, from a politician!) or to say something untoward, that, no matter the context, violates their sense of the ideal, whatever that is, and boom! They’re outta here. I want to blame the right wing press for taking a race that had nothing but cohesion, nothing but solidarity, nothing but common ground between the candidates, and making a horse race where there really wasn’t one. But shame on the Dems, as usual, for falling into the trap. And a trap it certainly was. For in such a hostile environment, from the other side as well as their own, sooner or later something is going to be said that can be misconstrued, or a minor point of reference turned into a mountain of doubt.

    To me, all the primary season on the Democratic side has accomplished so far is to shamelessly neutralize the Democrat’s toughest campaigner and greatest weapon while threatening to marginalize a majority of voters, i.e. women.

    Hillary Clinton won 17 million votes. She won big powerhouse states like New York, Texas, and California. To not put her on the ticket is mindboggling and would, to me, be evidence that the dems are more interested in their own brand of bland reactionary politics than they are about winning. It’s easier, it’s safer, and doesn’t involve the messy chore of taking responsibility for actually governing the country.

    Do rank and file Democrats take issue with Hillary on health care? No. Child Care? No. Is she weak on the environment? No. Foreign policy? No. Do they think she’d be a tough and reliable commander in Chief? Certainly. Can she claim an authentic connection to the economic successes of her husband’s administration? Of course she can. And yet the Democrats that I talk to here in and around the Capital of the Empire are more concerned about a sound bite from Geraldine Ferraro or the chimera of racial tension in the campaign – a totally fabricated notion – rather than the history of substance and advocacy demonstrated in Clinton’s record. Hillary Clinton is not a racist, period. I, for one, am astonished by the mere suggestion. If Obama doesn’t pick Clinton as his running mate it will be the biggest mistake since Kerry picked Edwards, who withered in his debate with Cheney, or since Gore picked Leiberman, a Republican in Dems clothing, since McGovern picked Eagleton, since Muskie cried.

    The most interesting, and yes, ominous, stat to come out of the primaries was from South Carolina. In South Carolina, only 6% of Obama voters chose “Most likely Candidate to beat the Republicans in the fall” as their reason for voting for him. Memo to Obama: The Repubs have spent the last 20 years purging their party of moderates. They even floated a candidate last election against their own Arlen Specter! Because he’s not right wing enough!! Republican moderates who had not already been purged by the Republican Party itself were ousted last election and replaced with Democrats. So if Obama’s administration is going to accomplish anything, he better have a big plurality in the House and the Senate when he takes office. As far as the election goes, we’ve seen high-minded Democrats try to keep above the fray and ignore the Right Wing Smear Machine to their peril. McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, and Kerry, move over.

    Regarding Hillary, she’s tough in ways most recent Dems have not been. She hits back when she gets hit. That’s what the Dems need. But she swung too far right of her center position to woo Republican women and fence sitters. This is the secret Obama and Hillary share, that they are positioning themselves to scoop up the disaffected Republicans who can’t vote for an evangelical, and to whom McCain is too flakey. But she may have turned off more Democrats in the process than the Repubs she attracted. On a positive note, in New Hampshire, where the voters are 40% Independent, Hillary scored big with women who were going to vote for McCain. So perhaps there’s a method to her madness.

    I’m all for Obama, and can’t wait to cast my vote. But this generation of Republicans can’t be negotiated with. And all of Obama’s sweet talk about ending the partisan divide is bullshit. The only way to end it is to vote the Republicans out, lock, stock, and barrel. I have personally been yearning for Clinton to be let loose on the Repubs in a general election, for years. She lets no slight go unanswered. She can dish it out, and she can take it. Can Obama do the same? We don’t know. He needs someone who will cover his back.

    Why We Wring Our Hands…

    I don’t know, you tell me.
    Dennis Kucinich, a true and respectable progressive, gets up in Congress and reads 35 counts for which president Bush should be impeached and not one of those counts is open for debate…among Democrats!

    At a minor league baseball game last week, I was clinging to the backstop yakking with some former Democratic operatives, who still keep their hands in the game, about the potentially thousands of Republicans who should go to jail for voter fraud and Hatch Act violations alone during the last eight years. Incredibly, one of them said, “It would take the entire next term to hunt down all the criminals, a waste of time, we’ve got to move on.”

    That attitude is a big reason why we lose. FDR and Bill Clinton had a similar problem in their first terms, i.e., how to get rid of old school Democrats who were accustomed to losing big elections and big policy initiatives, content to feather their nests and not get in the way of the Republican machine, even when it had gone off the tracks, and replace them with New Dealers, and in Clinton’s case, New Democrats. Today, as then, it won’t be enough to oust the failed Republican partisans, but the complicit Democrats must go as well. Most voters on the democratic side are completely disgusted that their party hasn’t gone on the offensive, enforced the laws of the land pertaining to our liberties, and restored their confidence that the Democratic Party still has some core beliefs it’s willing to fight for on their behalf. They want the Dems to attack, and take their lumps when they lose, but get the ball rolling. Pelosi, Reid, and Hoyer, please, bugger off!

    This disgust among Democratic voters could turn huge swaths of voters who are about to deluge the system with their votes for the future into cynics. If Obama had lost the nomination, those bright enthusiastic and idealistic voters he tapped would have melted away and never come back. Once again, the Dems face doing the same thing to Hillary’s supporters if they leave her off the ticket. The argument that she is too polarizing is absurd. Anyone who isn’t going to vote for Hillary probably wasn’t ever going to vote for a Democrat, or a woman, anyway. If the Democrats want to be the majority party, they had better learn how to suppress the more fickle side of their nature and come together.

    My response to these simpering knobs at the ballgame was simple, “If Nixon had been impeached and gone to jail for the rest of his life as he should have we might not have had Iran/Contra, or this mess we’re in right now. If we don’t go after these sons of Tricky Dicky, they’ll all be back again someday. We can deal with them now, once and for all, or go through this crap again someday soon.”
    Something to Think About

    In 1792 Thomas Paine, our great philosopher of freedom, published part two of a little ditty he called, The Rights of Man, in it he observed:

    “A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; a government without a constitution is power without a right.

    “All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated or assumed. There are no other sources. All delegated power is trust, all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”

    More later…

  • Links


    Rose Solari

    Poetry, Prose and news from our favorite poet, lecturer, and playwright (http://www.rosesolari.com)

    The Writer’s Center

    An outpost of Civilization in the Capital of the Empire (www.writer.org)

    Gargoyle Magazine


    WordWrights Magazine


    The Henry Miller Museum


    Sante Fe Writers Project


    An Independent Press With Some Pizzazz!

    Left Coast Writers


    A Bastion For New Writers Located in The Bay Area

    Chris Andrews Publications

    Beautiful Photography from England Now a Literary Publisher too!

    (Look Here!)


    Alan Sonneman

    Photo realism running amok (www.alansonneman.com)

    Meinrad Craighead

    Spiritual autobiography in oil paint or charcoal (www.meinradcraighead.com)

    Hankins/Lawrence Photography

    Empire views (www.hankinslawrenceimages.com)

    Jason Swain

    The Crocodile Hunter’s pall and look-alike can paint your pet! (www.jjswain.com)



    Pop-Relevant Cabaret from those wacky satirists Jimmy & Alvis Pheromone

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    Willy Porter

    Keeping the midwestern tradition of heart and soul in music alive, oh, and a terrific guitar player too! (www.willyporter.com)

    Brendan Mulvihill

    Quite simply the greatest Irish Fiddle player in the world! (www.brendanmulvihill.com)


    SportsFan Magazine

    Radical interpretations of the sports that drive us crazy (www.sportsfanmagazine.com)

    The Soggy Dollar Bar

    The best bar in the world, if you can get there (www.soggydollar.com/soggydollarbar/)

    Wes Johnson

    The biggest Johnson I know (www.wesjohnson.com)

    Cap’n Cable

    The Sonova Seafarin’ Sumpthin’er Other!

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    The Gonzo Store

    Hunter S Thompson Might Be Gone But Gonzo Lives On!


    The Big Lebowski

    Gotta Have it!



    The Daily Howler

    Comedian Bob Somersby can get really serious, and he’s serious about politics!


    The Progressive Populist

    A Bi-Monthly Compendium Of America’s Greatest Progressive Thinkers


    The American Prospect

    The Inside Scoop On Liberal Intelligence