Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the Nod

I keep trying to work on the big, important subject of how Pastor Rick Warren's Ugandan colleague, Martin Ssempa, is persecuting homosexuals in Uganda, but I've just had oral surgery and all my mental furniture has dust covers thrown over it.

Anybody who doesn't believe that there are more than three dimensions has never been worked on by Dr. Sukmanowsky. Afterwards, I was looking out of the window at the sky and I saw witches' hairpins.

And that was before the Vicodin. So please stay in your seats and an attendant will pass among you shortly with fresh appalling Ssempiana, but in the meanwhile, please enjoy this little morsel:And don't forget to floss.

Monday, January 19, 2009


And they're from Chicago, too. Happy MLK day, everyone. It's time for a little jubilation. Nineteen hours and seven minutes from now, we shall have overcome a great barrier.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ssempa Fideles

As if Rick Warren weren't objectionable enough for his famous slippery bigotry, Max Blumenthal writing for Smirking Chimp has much, much worse news:

While Pastor Warren has been active in AIDS programs in Africa, his main focus has been on preventing not AIDS but condom distribution, and persecuting homosexuals through the paranoiac homophobic Ugandan reverend, Martin Ssempa:

"Warren's man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempa enjoys close ties to his country's first lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa's stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them."

Ssempa has said he is afraid of homosexuals, although he hasn't had to flee his house and go into hiding, unlike his victims. He bravely marched into Kampala University, confronted a giant condom-wearing effigy used to promote AIDS prevention, and defeated it, stripping it of its protective sheath (there's the illustration I should have done. Maybe tomorrow).

He also thinks there is a secret witches' coven that convenes under Lake Victoria.

Anyone who was ever impressed by Tom Lantos, the member of Congress who survived the Holocaust, will stay impressed with him as he fought these vicious fearful lunatics even as he was dying of cancer:

"Troubled by what he was witnessing in Africa, the late Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., led the new Democratic-controlled Congress to reform PEPFAR during a reauthorization process in February 2008. Lantos insisted that Congress lift the abstinence-only earmark imposed by Republicans in 2002 and begin to fund family-planning elements like free condom distribution. His maneuver infuriated Warren, who immediately boarded a plane for Washington to join Christian Right leaders, including born-again former Watergate felon Chuck Colson, for an emergency press conference on the Capitol lawn. In his speech, Warren claimed that Lantos' bill would spawn an increase in the sex trafficking of young women. The bill died and PEPFAR was reauthorized in its flawed form. (Days later, Lantos died of cancer after serving for 27 years in Congress.)"

Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is "resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred."

As weird and disheartening as this news ought to be, I find a slender ray of hope in it: perhaps in drawing Warren into the Obama administration's influence, Obama might persuade Warren to part with or lean on Ssempa, to moderate the attacks on Ugandan homosexuals and bring back accurate health information to Uganda.

The struggle for equal rights, the persuit of happiness, of homosexuals in America is possibly the last great American civil-rights frontier. But here is a behind-the-scenes struggle that might be affected positively by the choice of this puffed-up celebrity preacher to drip a few oily words on an audience that I hope will be flying thousands of rainbow flags.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Will Somebody Please Snake My TV?

There are moments of stupidity so great, so enormous, that people circle them, trying to comprehend them, yet can't get a purchase on them. That's how I feel about Joe the War Correspondent. In trying to describe him, I feel like an ant trying to carry home a grape.

That's right, back in the good old WW II days, there were neat movies where people could cheer on the troops. They were called NEWSreels, but no matter. When the Germans marched across Europe, do you suppose they let the media come along and down the troops? Of course not!

Joe's performance as a self-hating war correspondent would be funnier if it weren't that President Bush held his last press conference today and did not do much better. And if Joe made me feel like an ant trying to carry a grape, the President makes me feel like an ant trying to carry a medicine ball.

One pundit/apologist described the President's defiant, arrogant, addled performance as "West Texas". The President may think of himself as the hero of his own Western, but he's really the weak-chinned bullying jealous son of the cattle-baron, the one who drives onto the poor widda's property in his Daddy's convertible and threatens to take Maw's farm.

There was a voice he used today, a voice we have been told of, but that I didn't want to believe. Today, talking of the burdens of the office, which unsurprisingly he maintained rested lightly on him, he mocked the idea: "You know, it's kind of like, `Why me? Oh, the burdens, you know. Why did the financial collapse have to happen on my watch?' It's just pathetic, isn't it, self-pity?"

Leaving aside the obliviousness of not knowing, or admitting, how much his policies had to do with the financial collapse, and the self-centeredness of considering, even to reject, pitying himself in any respect regarding what is to millions of vulnerable Americans a catastrophe, the feigned whine Bush used is no doubt the same whine he used to mock Karla Faye Tucker's plea to him to spare her life. Asked what he thought the born-again condemned killer might be thinking as her execution approached, he said, "Oh, I don't know--(whining, high-pitched tone)please don't kill me!"

This bumbling, unthinking scion of robber barons was the perfect president for the bumbling unthinking sheltered son of the Midwest. The President who didn't believe in government and the war correspondant who doesn't believe in reporting deserve each other. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is suffering the burdens of Bush's office.

And now, an amateurishly literal scrawl, from Snarkopolitan's great store of amateurish scrawls:
now that's a plumber's helper I can believe in.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Palate Cleanser

After being immersed in some murky and unwholesome backwaters (see Field Guide to Fraidy Cats, below), I simply had to slam shut the escritoire. Please enjoy this ukulele, and remember to visit that peculiar carnival game called the Weblog Awards and vote for my friends at Rumproast, Brooklyn's Meatiest Blog, for best small blog. Never has there been such a pitched battle for a prize worth less than a stuffed pink panda.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A FIELD GUIDE TO FRAIDY CATSwe can handle anything except criticism. or scrutiny. or questions. or dissent. or disappointment. or logic. or rationality. or independence. or information. or research. or reality. or the time/space continuum. or
When I tell friends that I've been PUMAwatching, they say, "Cats? Shoes? What are you talking about?" and I have to remind them about PUMA, or Party Unity My Ass, that noble organization founded on resentment of Hillary Clinton's supposed maltreatment by the Dems and encouraged delightedly by McCain operatives pinching themselves that so many of Hillary's followers could be so easily manipulated.

Since PUMA managed to convince itself and the McCain campaign that it ROARED with eighteen million voices, it led McCain to pick the Alaskan Albatross that ultimately sank him, so I am grateful to PUMA on that score. In fact, PUMA roars with just about enough voices to keep the comment sections of a few dozen blogs populated, assuming each commenter posts multiple times and visits more than one blog a night.

The election proved that PUMApower in fact ROARED with enough hot air to blow up the forty or so orange PUMAballoons at any of PUMA's underpopulated rallies, but not much more than that. Hillary Clinton's debt was not retired with the help of PUMAdollars, or even affected, and Hillary went on to blow PUMA's minds by getting over her disappointment and moving on with her life, worst of all by working with HIM.

Born out of frustration, inability to accept opposition, and sheer will to destruction, having failed to obtain the nomination or to throw the election, now PUMA exists to promote hatred of HIM. That one. A veneer of faux feminism encrusts PUMA, many of whose members seem to be reinventing the feminist wheel, circa 1972: "I thought the ERA had passed!" said one.

But PUMA blithely exchanged Hillary's feminist values for those of John McCain, who opposed equal pay for equal work, voted to impeach Hillary's husband, happily told rape jokes, verbally abused his wife ("at least I don't slather on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t") and disparaged young Chelsea's looks. They went as well for anti-intellectual mannequin and Republican frozen cheesecake Sarah Palin as if the indifferent scholar and neo-con pinup were a reasonable substitute for detail-oriented Ivy-League magna-cum-laude policy wonk Hillary, thereby endorsing the idea that genitalia trumps everything, from ideology to policy.

Irony is lost on PUMA.

PUMAs are currently congratulating themselves for the dubious distinction of being chosen as Time's eighth-hottest buzzword of the year, right in between "tweet" and "rick-rolled"*. The eighth-hottest buzzword of last year, BACN, has of course gone on to dominate conversation at watercoolers nationwide ever since, so the fly-about-to-be-encased-in-resin elegaic quality of the eighth-hottest buzzword designation shouldn't worry PUMA at all.

Why even pay attention to this group if the country no longer does? Why bother if it is so laughably ineffective? Why bother with PUMA instead of leaving them to their own devices in their insular PUMASPHERE?

Because PUMA seems to have the beginnings of a classic hate-group, and needs to be watched.
The FBI classifies hate-group formation as happening in 7 stages:

Stage 1: The Haters Gather

"Irrational haters seldom hate alone. They feel compelled, almost driven, to
entreat others to hate as they do. Peer validation bolsters a sense of
self-worth and, at the same time, prevents introspection, which reveals personal
insecurities. Further, individuals otherwise ineffective become empowered when
they join groups, which also provide anonymity and diminished accountability.

Evident on PUMA threads is the constant one-upwomanship of trying to come up with newer better stronger insults for Obama and anyone who supports him.. PUMA pets and indulges the most extreme of its Obama-haters, Jenniforhillary, admiring her for her "spirit". Only once has any PUMA ever challenged her, and that was on whether her attack on Al Franken was merited, not on the legitimacy of wishing slow painful castration on him per se. And, as per usual, nobody else protested.

Stage 2: The Hate Group Defines Itself

Hate groups form identities through symbols, rituals, and mythologies, which
enhance the members' status and at the same time, degrade the object of their
PUMA adopted the hapless big cat as their superkewl icon, and from there followed a flood of neat images of pawprints, demonstrations and spamming parties known as "prowls", and the PUMA war-cry, PUMA HAKA! (a HAKA is a Maori war chant) And RRRoarrrrsss. There is much of the junior college sorority in this, and would not be alarming if PUMA left it there. Even if there are slightly psychotic overtones in their belief that Hillary was wearing an orange pantsuit at her convention speech as a secret message of PUMAdarity with them.

PUMA mythologies are so extensive and evolve so much that it's impossible to follow them, much less refute them systematically, starting immediately with PUMA's creation myth: that Hillary was cheated out of the nomination because she was a woman.

PUMAs embrace anyone who offers anti-Obama mythology; the most notorious may be noted anti-Semite Andy Martin, originator of the Obama-is-a-Muslim myth. Martin attended the PUMA convention in Washington and is seen in PUMA's pictures shooting the breeze with assorted Pumas. Andy Martin, Lyndon LaRouche follower Webster Tarpley, and Andy Berg, all have the PUMA welcome mat put out for their theories about Obama's nationality (he's a Kenyan/British/American/unAmerican Usurper. "Did you know that if Obama reads a national security document it's treason?" asked a PUMA on PUMAPAC.

Stage 3: The Hate Group Disparages the Target
"Hate is the glue that binds haters to one another and to a common cause. By
verbally debasing the object of their hate, haters enhance their self-image, as
well as their group status."
PUMA shows its stress lines when the subject veers off Obama. Even Hillary-worship doesn't hold up reliably any more since Hillary consented to campaign for Obama, much less work for him as Secretary of State. The gulfs between atheist/lesbian/pro-choice PUMAs, Catholic pro-life PUMAs, Conservative PUMAs and lifelong Democratic PUMAs become noticeable, and though PUMAs have never reproved each other for the bleak and gorey scenarios they like to envision being visited on their enemies (Obama, Obots, and nonPUMA men), they do have hissing contests over whether a PUMA has disrespected other PUMAs' beliefs. This frequently results in a theatrical, and sometimes permanent, exit.

Puma blog postings frequently begin with a "feminist" subject. Sometimes they will start out highlighting a figure from women's history, which seems a valuable enough effort. But the veneer of feminism inevitably melts away where all roads lead to the One, or rather, disparagement of the One. The "feminist" post is often simply an incitement to outrage over yet another example of the very real misogyny and ill-treatment of women the world over. The trouble here is the focus of the outrage: it isn't focussed on the perpetrators, it's spread to whomever the PUMAs wish to be angry at (More on this further down, with the John Favreau debacle). And more than anything else, PUMAs wish to be angry at Obama.

A visit to PUMA sites will net many new terms of abuse for Barack Obama that you may never have heard applied to any presidential candidate before, even though terms of abuse for presidential candidates are a cherished American art form. At main Puma site Pumapac.org , you'd encounter the following:
teh precious’
The Cheetos
Barky Barry Von Cash
the O-Borg
count Fraud Ojambo
Baruk the Crook, the
fraud President elect,
Baruk the Cruk
Barock the Crock
NewOrleansPuma 11.30.08 at 3:14 pm
Baseek the Sheik
hypocritical lying thievin’ flim flam gutter rat
oblah blah
This is a short list. Notice that some of the names are frankly racist and xenophobic: "Ojingo", "Ojambo", "Baseek the Shiek". That's a dirty little PUMA non-secret: assorted flavors of racism, from the vague racist overtones of comments such as:

Nijma 01.03.09 at 2:41 am

mountainsong, yeah, chicago; if the bots get rambunctious, there’ll be plenty of
prowling to do, but if they behave, things can stay quiet.
If Teh One
enacts our agenda and stops dissing women, our reason for living will be
gone and we can go to the dance club all week long. On the other hand,
if it’s all bit*hes and ho*s and Ludicris, and no jobs for
women, we’ll have a
lot of free time to blog, and no money for cover charges
to frank, overt racism such as this picture of Obama as a lawn jockey in front of the White House, excused by the caption,"Why is this not okay?" The supposed reason for photoshopping Obama around as a shoeshine boy is that Jon Favreau, a young speechwriter of his was photographed with his hand cupping the non-existent breast of a cardboard Hillary. Incensed, PUMA immediately struck back by demanding Favreau be summarily fired, gustily predicting he was on the road to real sexual criminality, and posting demeaning pictures of innocent women photoshopped onto Hillary's cardboard body, so that the speechwriter was then molesting Donna Brazile and Michelle Obama. That's the kind of thinking that got PUMA where it is today.

Where PUMA is today is a splenetic organization that tolerates, indulges, even encourages hatefulness as long as it's directed toward Obama and Obama supporters, whom PUMA pictures as glassy-eyed kids and wild-eyed socialists referred to as "Obots". They do not admit the possibility that adult people not very much different from them could rationally decide not to hate Obama as they do, so they turn Obama's followers into non-human "bots".

Stage 4: The Hate Group Taunts the Target
"Hate, by its nature, changes incrementally. Time cools the fire of hate, thus
forcing the hater to look inward. To avoid introspection, haters use
ever-increasing degrees of rhetoric and violence to maintain high levels of
agitation. Taunts and offensive gestures serve this purpose."
This stage must necessarily have changed since this paper was published in 2003 because of the increased prevalence of the Internet. Whereas hate groups who used to long for contact with "the other" to express their hatred had to go out looking for them, now it is possible to find all the enemies they could ever want online.

PUMAs see themselves as wounded, martyred, woman warriors, but they are not likely to follow this model beyond step 4 into physicality, although some observers at the notorious Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting had their doubts.

They do constantly increase the rhetoric and outrage: Murphy of PUMAPAC posts ever more terrible news items about attacks on female victims, which keeps her blog followers in a permanent state of foam-flecked spitting fury. She frequently uses these posts to drive the PUMAs into donating to PUMAPAC, although PUMAPAC's accounting practices are a little hazy.
Here is one of PUMAPAC's most active members, Jenniforhillary, on her hope for the country under Obama:
jenniforhillary 11.08.08 at 8:49 am
I am in a economy proof business, my
parents have money, and I will NOT SUFFER. We have one year of food PLUS, we
have our gardens, we have our weapons, our bullets, our network. We are
That being said, I CANNOT WAIT for the suffering to begin. I
hope there is starvation, I hope there is rioting, and i hope that there
is massive death…
Heartwarming. Jennifer is indeed in a recession-proof business: her mother's estate-clearance company. Massive death certainly wouldn't hurt Mom's balance sheet. Of course, after Jennifer dropped that one in the PUMA punch-bowl, did that spoil it for the rest of the PUMAs? Anyone care to challenge Jennifer on her cheery PUMIHILISM? No? Of course not. One PUMA responded,
GBPuma 11.08.08 at 10:03 am
jenniforhillary 11.08.08 at 8:49 am
I agree 150%…….they have no concept of
the suffering they have created and they
deserve everything they are about to
Jenniforhillary (or Jennifer X, as she sometimes calls herself now that Hillary has lost the way to the Light) is not a fringe member, but actually hosted one of the most unintentionally hilarious radio hours ever to go out to bewildered listeners of public radio station KPFT. On the phone for the entire hour with Jennifer X was PUMAPAC founder Darragh Murphy, who listened calmly and approvingly as Jennifer shouted over and dumped callers who tried to challenge any of her PUMAganda. The two PUMAs thought the show had gone swimmingly and Jennifer was much praised on PUMAPAC for her facility in Obot-wrassling. They were surprised to learn that KPFT did not feel quite as enthusiastic about a regular PUMA hour as they did.

The inability to tolerate dissent demonstrated by the PUMAGANDA flaming dirigible of a radio show is completely in keeping with the PUMAs' policies on their blogs: absolute censorship of opposing views. On both the Confluence and PUMAPAC, only pro-PUMA comments are allowed. "Riverdaughter", the founder of the Confluence, offered the explanation that it isn't censorship when she does it because only governments can censor, although that isn't what the American Heritage Dictionary says (any person "vested with authority" can be a censor as, say, the administrator of a blog).

This is what makes the Confluence's Weblog nomination as Best Liberal Blog something of a farce; as a big L blog, exhorting followers to vote for the Republican ticket is just plain not Liberal, and as a small l blog, what is more illiberal than the closemindedness of censoring comments? Riverdaughter's The Confluence is more egregious in this than even PUMAPAC; one of their bloggers, the not awfully gracious myiq2xu, loves to "edit" comments he doesn't like and republish them:

Mountainaires, on January 1st, 2009 at 2:28
To Riverdaughter and myiq2xu who responded to my comment
myiq2xu: if you are the "moderator" who went in and edited the
quotes from Richard Falk, then you deserve to be insulted for doing it. Before
you start changing quotes, you ought to know what you’re talking about, which
you clearly did not. There were no food or medical supplies being transported
into Gaza at the point of my comment, and your insertions were inaccurate. You
could have posted your own comment responding to mine, and posted your
inaccuracies under your own name. Instead, you hid like a coward behind a power
title of "moderator" and altered my comments. Shame on you.
Next time please
post your own comment in reply to mine if you don’t like my opinion. Stop going
in and altering a comment which has my name on it."

One of the rare PUMen, myiq2 has an agenda of his own: Here he is talking about PUMAs on the blog Balloon Juice:

myiq2xu March 14th, 2008 at 10:10 pm
What is Hillary’s core
constituency? Women.
Older, yet “liberated” women.
At 47 years old, I am a
“boy toy.”
Since they are post-menopausal, that means they don’t swell, they
don’t tell, and they’re grateful as
myiq2xu March 14th, 2008 at 10:24 pm
Go to a rally where you are
one of the few guys (and the only single guy under 50) and there are about 100
unattached women. Okay, lots of them are widows, but it’s still good for a
person’s self-esteem.
Honestly, I’ve never had women fight over me
myiq2xu March 15th, 2008 at 12:01
I was trying to help you get a
“coming out” present.
No STFU before you mess things up. I think the redhead
puts out.
myiq2xu March 15th, 2008 at 1:11 am
Rodney Carrington Live at the
Majestic is on the Comedy Channel.
“I went home with a fat girl once a bunch
of times.”http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=9901

(Hat tip: Yes To Democracy)

PUMA laughs off Myiq2's jokey misogyny, but sexism is fine as long as it emanates from PUMA. http://pumapac.org/2008/12/10/does-estrogen-poisoning-make-us-more-ethical-and-less-violent/ So are violent fantasies, as long as they are about violence against men (you may want to skip the next few paragraphs; they're quite ugly):

"murphy 12.11.08 at 12:54 am "One in nine men will be arrested for a violent
crime. Half of those violent crimes will be assault with a weapon, rape, or
robbery. Numbers dont lie. The answer is Decimation."

And, from the immortal Jennifer X:

"AL FRANKEN should have his pencil penis removed sans pain medicine and left to
bleed to death (does that say enough)…."

Yes, that does just about say enough, Jennifer.

Stage 5: The Hate Group Attacks the Target Without Weapons

" This stage is critical because it differentiates vocally abusive haters from
physically abusive ones. In this stage, hate groups become more aggressive,
prowling their turf seeking vulnerable targets..."

It is at this stage that the FBI separates the sheep from the goats: hate groups who do not progress to violence are assessed as "immature" hate groups. This model was drawn up primarily to assess skinhead groups, and I should make clear that I certainly do not regard PUMA as akin to skinhead groups, focussed as PUMA is on hating one distant and well-protected man, and satisfied as PUMAs are with blogging their hatred.

But PUMA still has disturbing similarities to groups going through the stages described by the FBI, including the psychological underpinnings.

Stages Six and Seven, respectively, are attacking the Target with weapons, and destroying the Target.

Although PUMAs don't back away from expressing violent fantasies about those whom they view as their oppressors, they assume it is understood that these are just fantasies. What is alarming is the tolerance for some PUMAs, like JenniforHillary, who seem to be spinning out of control without any kind of check. Rather than talking her down, PUMAPAC consistently feeds her hysteria, paranoia and despair and sits back applauding the show. While PUMAs are hardly likely to resort to skinhead-style battles on the street, there are individuals in the PUMAsphere who are clearly psychologically disturbed, such as Jenniforhillary. While PUMA is applauding itself for its womanly lack of physical brutality, they might do well to remember there have been female Presidential would-be assassins in recent memory, such as Squeaky Fromme.

Murphy and Riverdaughter are playing a dangerous game; playing on the fears and wounded psyches of women scattered across the country, trolling in fringe right-wing websites for bad news to keep the glue of Obama-hate bonding their followers to them. They may themselves be convinced that it is feminism and empowerment that they're spreading, but what they are actually doing is imitating the negative stereotype of feminists as overprivileged, humorless, castrating loons.

*Tired of Rick Astley. My Rick doesn't roll that way.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


if you have the florins, we have the fauna

I hereby resolve to post here more often.The last time I wrote, we still had a private banking system and what was good for General Motors was good for the nation. And Obama hadn't yet become a failed usurper-elect, after whom we could name the cardboard shantytowns springing up in Central Park. Darn his do-nothing policy of not taking office! But shall we call them "Obamavilles" or "Barackbergs"? http://thehive.modbee.com/?q=node/10964