Way to Cheapen the Sacrifice, John

POW Week continues with the latest in exploitive fuckery.

It appears John “Did I Mention I’m a POW?” McLame’s staff was serious when they proclaimed they weren’t abusing using the POW theme enough.

It turns out being a POW is now considered an excuse for piss-poor taste in music*:

When CNN’s Walter Isaacson confronted John McCain about his professed love of the band of ABBA, which of course was a lame attempt to cater to “disaffected Hillary supporters” as his blogger Michael Goldfarb made clear, McCain (you guessed it) whipped out the trusty ol’ POW card to explain:

“What were you thinking?,” Isaacson asked him, looking incredulous.

“If there is anything I am lacking in, I’ve got to tell you, it is taste in music and art and other great things in life,” McCain joked. “I’ve got to say that a lot of my taste in music stopped about the time I impacted a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane and never caught up again.”

Okay. Let’s unpack this a bit. McCain wants us to believe that he got stuck in a forty fucking year time warp because he hit a SAM and ended up lodged in the Hanoi Hilton for five and a half years.

Fine. Say it’s true. Say that he’s so trapped in that moment that four decades hasn’t been enough for him to recover and catch up on pop culture.

Taking that as a given, answer me this: Do we really need someone that fucking psychologically damaged as President? The point of personal tragedy, what truly makes it noble and honorable, is not simply surviving it. It’s being able to overcome it and become a whole human afterward, complete with the capacity to enjoy the wonderful new things of the present and look forward to a future filled with exciting and novel things. I’m not dissing those who haven’t been able to move past the worst moment of their lives. But I am saying that such people are not emotionally healthy enough to take on the extremely stressful and supremely challenging job of POTUS.

And I think that would be a good point – if McCain’s claims were true. However, as in so many other areas of his sordid political career, he appears to have lied about this as well:

But, as Spencer Ackerman was quick to point out:

What? McCain was shot down in 1967. ABBA began making music in 1972. Don’t try this sh** on me, McCain! Your POW experience has nothing to do with your Partridgey musical taste.

A hit. A very palpable hit! Once again, McCain goes down in flames. (Why, yes, I can see his crass and raise him one odious pun. Why do you ask?)

As low as that is, can’t McCain do us one better? Can’t he drag his celebrated status just that much further through the mud? Why yes, yes he can:

Well McCain went on Leno (known to we Letterman fans as “that hump” Leno) and the macro was hit:

Leno: “For a million dollars, how many houses do you have?”

McCain: “Could I just mention to you, Jay, that, at a moment of seriousness. I spent five-and-a-half years in a prison cell. I didn’t have a house. I didn’t have a kitchen table. I didn’t have a table. I didn’t have a chair…

Holy. Fucking. Shit. I never thought anyone could so cheapen something as harsh as having been a prisoner of war in Vietnam, but he did it. He not only made it cheaper than a counterfeit imitation Rolex, he exceeded the cheap-drunk “Oh woe is me!” quotient by a factor of 10,000,000,000. Can’t you just see his little lip quivering?

I’m not sure how much lower he can go with this, but I’ve no doubt he’ll demonstrate, seeing as how his staff’s already gone there when defending his Leno lamentations:

On Morning Joe today, Mika Brzezinski called it “an awkward moment” and Joe Scarborough said it reflected Maureen Dowd’s point that McCain’s “going to the well a bit too often.” But McCain spokesperson Nicole Wallace disagreed, saying, “it’s not a talking point, it’s a fact.” “It’s not thrown out there in anything other than an explanation,” said Wallace.

You know something? It’s a damned good thing I sold my beautiful birdseye maple desk when I moved up here. I would’ve just split it in half hitting my head against it.

Way to Cheapen the Sacrifice, John

A Complete Rat Bastard Plaguing Our Wire Services

No, it’s not McCain.

Although he is a complete rat bastard, and he does plague the news with lie after lie after histrionic fit, he’s not the man I have in mind.

But you’re close – this fucktard nearly joined the McCain campaign officially. He certainly seems on board clandestinely.

You all recall this spectacle just after news of Obama’s VP selection broke:

I’m sure I don’t have to point out there’s a wee bit o’ bias there.

The biased ratfucker is none other than the AP’s very own Washington bureau chief:

The latest piece from Ron Fournier, the AP’s Washington bureau chief and the man responsible for directing the wire service’s coverage of the presidential campaign, on Joe Biden joining the Democratic ticket, is drawing a fair amount of attention this morning. More importantly, McCain campaign staffers are pushing it fairly aggressively to other reporters, in large part because it mirrors the Republican line with minimal variation.

That would probably be because Fournier loves McCain enough to bring him donuts with sprinkles, and Obama – not so much.

Steve Benen, former Carpetbagger and now Political Animal, has a catalogue of the the unapologetically biased “news” flying from the AP’s wires. A sampling:

In March, for example, Fournier wrote an item — whether it was a news article or an opinion piece was unclear — that said Barack Obama is “bordering on arrogance,” “a bit too cocky,” and that the senator and his wife “ooze a sense of entitlement.” To substantiate the criticism, Fournier pointed to … not a whole lot. It was basically the Republicans’ “uppity” talking point in the form of an AP article.


When Obama unveiled his faith-based plan, the AP got the story backwards. When Obama talked about his Iraq policy on July 3, the AP said he’d “opened the door” to reversing course, even though he hadn’t.

The AP’s David Espo wrote a hagiographic, 1,200-word piece, praising McCain’s “singular brand of combative bipartisanship,” which was utterly ridiculous.


The AP flubbed the story on McCain joking about killing Iranians, and then flubbed the story about McCain’s promise to eliminate the deficit. It’s part of a very discouraging trend for the AP that’s been ongoing throughout the campaign.

And then, within hours of Obama announcing his running mate, there’s Fournier again, writing up another piece — whether it’s a news article or an opinion piece is, again, unclear — that the McCain campaign just loves.

The AP has slipped from being a source of news and has become, like so many other “news” outlets, a discount superstore for Republicon talking points.

I feel I need to say something here.

When the progressive blogosphere was pounding the traditional news sources for becoming stenographers, excoriating them for their “he said, she said, we’re just repeating what we were told” style of “reporting,” we did not mean that the news media should overcorrect and start spewing their personal opinions all over news stories.

What we meant was, you should stop being uncritical mouthpieces and engage in actual journalism.

It appears that we shall have to define this term, as the fucktards who style themselves “journalists” have no idea what it means.

They seem to have been deceived by the fact that “journalism” is similar to the word “journal.” A journal, as we know, often refers to something akin to a private diary, in which thoughts and opinions are written down.

This is not to be confused for journalism, which is the act of not only reporting what you’re told, but verifying that it’s true.

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary tells us that journalism is “writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.” The key words are “facts” and “without an attempt at interpretation.”

This is stenography: “Bush says there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

This is journalism: “Bush says there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, several important sources within the intelligence community dispute this. Evidence supports their conclusion.”

Going on to state baldly, “I therefore believe the President is a lying sack of shit” may be accurate, but is not journalism. That is what we might call an “editorial.” It belongs on the editorial pages, not the fucking wire services.

What Ratfucker Ronnie is doing is presenting editorials as news items. He’s encouraging his “reporters” to do the same. Since many news outlets rely on the wire services for all but the most local of news, many consumers of news are getting opinion pieces presented as objective news.

If this gets as far up your nose as it does mine, the incomparable Jane Hamsher has a delightful little tool for registering your displeasure.

Let’s all be Pipers and get this rat out of town, shall we, my darlings?

A Complete Rat Bastard Plaguing Our Wire Services

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Americans seem to be a wee bit confused about the meaning of “conservative:”

In recent days, conservatives have renewed a long-running campaign to convince the American people that they live in a conservative nation and support conservative policies. Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh is leading the charge, but he’s been joined by a chorus of right-wingers as well.

Quoting the American Thinker, Limbaugh used a cherry-picked poll to falsely argue on his radio show yesterday that a “conservative majority” exists in America. He focused on a single question from a recent Battleground Poll in which respondents were asked to place themselves on a conservative-to-liberal ideological spectrum. Sixty percent of respondents labeled themselves “very conservative or somewhat conservative“…


The truth is, however, that the so-called “conservative majority” does not exist. While many American’s may call themselves conservative, the overwhelming majority of Americans support progressive policies. Indeed, a majority of Americans…

Want universal health care.
Want to expand environmental protections.
Support increasing the minimum wage.
Want abortion to remain safe and legal.
Want federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Want to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for national priorities.
Want same-sex couples to be legally recognized.
Oppose the Iraq war.

I hate to break this to my fellow Americans, but those are liberal positions. Conservatives stand exactly opposite liberals on all those issues. So, Rush Lamebaugh can crow all he likes about how the majority of Americans are conservative, but what we’re actually dealing with here is ignorance over what the terms actually mean.

American ignorance and neocon fuckery. What else is new?

Speaking of immense blowhards who shouldn’t be taken at all seriously, Karl “I Should Be In Prison” Rove thinks Michelle Obama didn’t kiss America’s ass enough:

In a speech last night at the Democratic convention, Michelle Obama “began a weeklong effort to present her husband — and his entire family — as embodiments of the American dream.” The Houston Chronicle writes, “Despite Republican attempts to paint her as a liberal elitist, she said in her speech that she knows from her family’s struggles and successes ‘that the American dream endures.’”

Totally disregarding Michelle Obama’s repeated efforts throughout her speech to spell out “why she loves her country,” Karl Rove — an informal adviser to John McCain — went on Fox News last night and proclaimed that Obama didn’t show “adequate enough” love for her country:

I don’t think she did too well on saying I love America. That wasn’t adequate enough because, look, people are gonna hear that, and then those that have paid attention to her earlier comments are gonna try and square those two off.

Are you fucking kidding me? Talking about how great America is and saying outright, “That is why I love this country” isn’t enough? Seriously? That’s it – Democrats should just give up. Nothing they every say or do is going to be enough for Rove and his merry band of batshit insane extreme right wing frothers.

We can expect no less from the “Ministry of Truth:”

Wow — a leading Republican appears to have just inadvertently admitted that the GOP’s spin machine set up to counter Barack Obama during the convention is a propaganda machine spewing nothing but lies.

The GOPer in quest
ion is Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams, who accidentally made the admission when describing the GOP’s war room in Denver set up to hammer Obama during convention week.

Wadhams described the GOP’s outfit thusly to the Denver Post: “Just consider this the Ministry of Truth.”

Um, as anybody who has ever read George Orwell knows, the Ministry of Truth exists to disseminate false propaganda about how great the ruling regime is, continuously rewriting both history and the present-day facts in order to maintain total control over the population.

Sounds eerily familiar, don’t it just? At least they’re finally being honest on that point.

On the war on terror front, here’s an interesting tidbit. One of McCain’s favoritest lobbyists – I mean, advisers – would like to ensure even terrorists have free and easy access to guns:

We knew Randy Scheunemann, John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, was into guns. After all, in 1997 he was arrested for having a shotgun and several rounds of ammunition in his car on the grounds of the U.S.
Capitol. And in addition to his
extensive lobbying work on behalf of former Soviet bloc countries, he’s also a longtime lobbyist for gun-rights groups. But it now looks like, for Scheunemann, doing the bidding of the gun lobby takes precedence over efforts to combat terrorism.

Newsweek reports that, according to registration documents filed by Scheuenemann’s lobbying firm, Orion Strategies, Scheunemann lobbied on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) against a bill that aims to close a gun-control loophole that inhibits the government from stopping people on terrorist watch-lists from buying guns. According to Newsweek, “the bill was inspired by an official audit covering a five-month period in 2004 which found that, because of the loophole, the Feds had to greenlight 35 out of 44 cases where a gun buyer was on a terrorist watch list.”

This is taking the Second Amendment to some ridiculous extremes, don’t you think? Mind you, those watch lists can be a little, shall we say, inaccurate, but still. Better safe than sorry when it comes to Teh Terrahrists, right? Isn’t that why we eviscerated the Fourth Amendment, thumbed our noses at the Geneva Conventions, and decided that torture wasn’t torture as long as we’re doing it?

That’s the state of our country today. If you’re weeping now, I don’t blame you. Have another drink.

Happy Hour Discurso

Former POW Mangles McCain's POW Power

I’m not the only one who thinks McCain’s milking his POW status to the point of absurdity. And this guy’s got a fuck of a lot better street cred than I do:

As some of you might know, John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States.

This isn’t going to be pretty, now, is it?

People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always “No – John McCain was a POW with me.” The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 ½ years later, so he was a POW for 5 ½ years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW.

Oh, dear. I think Johnny got up the wrong vet’s nose with his World’s Greatest POW act.

John was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for heroism and wounds in combat. This heroism has been played up in the press and in his various political campaigns. But it should be known that there were approximately 600 military POW’s in Vietnam. Among all of us, decorations awarded have recently been totaled to the following: Medals of Honor – 8, Service Crosses – 42, Silver Stars – 590, Bronze Stars – 958 and Purple Hearts – 1,249. John certainly performed courageously and well. But it must be remembered that he was one hero among many – not uniquely so as his campaigns would have people believe.

Is that wind I hear? Only it sounds like something’s being sucked out of someone’s sails.

John McCain served his time as a POW with great courage, loyalty and tenacity. More that 600 of us did the same. After our repatriation a census showed that 95% of us had been tortured at least once. The Vietnamese were quite democratic about it. There were many heroes in North Vietnam. I saw heroism every day there. And we motivated each other to endure and succeed far beyond what any of us thought we had in ourselves. Succeeding as a POW is a group sport, not an individual one. We all supported and encouraged each other to survive and succeed. John knows that. He was not an individual POW hero. He was a POW who surmounted the odds with the help of many comrades, as all of us did.

And that meaty sound would be someone getting cut down to size.

I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Heh. That’s what I keep saying, too.

And there’s a lot more where that came from. Believe it or not, I’ve given you only a taste.

Phillip Butler, who served this country with honor and distinction and then didn’t go around turning his experience into cheap political currency, does not denigrate McCain’s achievements. He respects McCain’s service. He doesn’t minimize the sacrifices McCain made for this country. But he puts it into context, and he looks at the whole of the man, and comes to the conclusion that this is one of the last fucking people on earth we should be voting into office.

I think we’d do well to listen to him.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to dday over at Digby’s, as well as Atheist Chaplain. Thanks for sending me backup.)

Former POW Mangles McCain's POW Power

Neil Said There'd Be Days Like This

I hit the wall this weekend.

Last weekend was sweet and easy as anything. The world, as Terry Pratchett once so memorably put it, was my mollusc of choice. My Muse suited intention to action, and we Got Shit Done. It looked for a while there like we had a good thing going.

So I, of course, like an idiot, believed this weekend would be the same.

I’d even downloaded a fuckload of new music to help the muse along.

I’d made sure there was plenty of food laid in.

Preloaded some posts.

Cleaned me room.




Neil Gaiman wrote the greatest piece ever on writer’s block. It’s in the Introduction to his short story collection Smoke and Mirrors, and I’ll reproduce the pertinent bit here, begging his forgiveness:

I’d been having a bad week. The script I was meant to be writing just wasn’t happening, and I’d spent days staring at a blank screen, occasionally writing a word like the and staring at it for an hour or so and then, slowly, letter by letter, I’d delete it and write and or but instead. Then I’d exit without saving.

That’s exactly how it is.

Imagine yourself consigned to the deepest pit of uttermost black despair, and then imagine being handed a shovel and told you’re not quite finished sinking yet. That’s how this weekend has been. I spent six hours writing two sentences. And I’m not even sure I’m going to keep those. The story feels like a lead-encrusted butterfly with half its wings torn away. At this point, there’s just no chance in the universe this poor broken thing’s ever going to fly.

It’s terrible. Stick it in a blender, press MUTILATE, and it would only be an improvement.

It has no direction. No purpose. No meaning. No intensity, conflict, interest, or redeeming quality whatsoever.

Neil, speaking to the masochists who choose to subject themselves to National Novel Writer’s Month, warned us it was coming:

Dear NaNoWriMo Author,

By now you’re probably ready to give up. You’re past that first fine
furious rapture when every character and idea is new and
entertaining. You’re not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the
end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster
than you can get them down on paper. You’re in the middle, a little
past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone,
your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random
email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least
accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more—and
that even when they do you’re preoccupied and no fun. You don’t know
why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined
that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if
you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every
time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in
your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel,
in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better
than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that
you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole

Welcome to the club.

That’s how novels get written.

That’s how stories get written, too, actually.

You know something? Novels are easier. There’s always some other bit you can work on. They’re spacious enough you can allow yourself to babble until plot, theme, character, and all that rot get themselves untangled and settle into some semblance of decency. Every word has to count, of course, but they don’t have to count for quite so much. Whereas, in a short story, constraints of length place demands on each and every word that would be considered exploitation were they employees.

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve always felt considerable antipathy for short form writing. Oh, I like it when it goes well, mind you, and it’s nice to have a completed project in something on the order of weeks rather than years, but still. I bloody hate writing short stories.


Except for the challenge. I likes me the challenge. Because, let’s face it, the dam will eventually break. Words will come spilling out in a thousand gorgeous waterfalls over the jagged slabs of concrete. And some of those words will splash on the page, and I’ll have arranged them just so. Reduced those glorious streams to their barest essence. There’s something profoundly satisfying about saying so much with so little, like those evocative few lines of ink that somehow paint an entire landscape in Zen art.

And it can happen. It will happen. Just not this weekend.

So it goes.

You don’t give in to despair.

You push through the pain.

You engage in creative wastes of time.

And you remember what Neil said.

And you never, ever, give up.

That’s how stories get written. Eventually.

Neil Said There'd Be Days Like This

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Petraeus to McCain: You’re full of shit:

Gen. David Petraeus, top commander of coalition military forces in Iraq, recently sat down with Newsweek to do a “valedictory” interview before he takes up his new post as CENTCOM commander next month.

Newsweek reported that while Petraeus recognized that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been significantly diminished, he refusesd to say the terror group had been “defeated.” Moreover, Petraeus acknowledged that the recent successes in Iraq may have been possible without the surge:

Petraeus is careful not to credit all the progress to the surge of U.S. troops in 2007. The sea change came last year from a series of movements now known as the Awakening. […] So could the Sunni Awakening have succeeded without the surge? Possibly, he concedes.

Yet, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) disagrees with Petraeus, who McCain recently named as one of “the three wisest people” that he would rely heavily on as president. Last month during an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, McCain dismissed the notion that security in
Iraq may have improved without the so-called “surge” of U.S. forces there…

What a non-ringing endorsement of McCain’s “The Surge is teh awesome!” rhetoric. Funny how everybody but McLame seems to grasp the realities of foreign policy and the debacle that is the Iraq war, even the fucking commander of the fucking Iraq war.

Seems to me I’ve read somewhere recently that the Surge was a useless fucking fiasco that actually set us back…. ah, yes:

Yesterday, CAP’s Brian Katulis appeared on CSPAN’s Washington Journal to discuss recent developments in Iraq with John Nagl of the Center for a New American Security. Here, Katulis suggests an explanation for why declining violence has not led to political progress among Iraq’s leaders…


KATULIS: The notion of the surge, that if we decrease violence and make people feel more secure, would lead to political transition and progress on that front, I think we should question it. Because if you look at key fundamentals, if you look at what the surge has actually done, it may have in fact frozen into place a very fractured and fragmented country.

A key feature of the surge, for instance, was providing support to the Sons of Iraq — an independent security force, largely Sunni, but with some Shiites involved. I worry that the story of Iraq since 2003 has been a story of a country that has fractured and fragmented, and what happened during the surge, in a sense, [was that] rather than creating greater incentives for the different Iraqi factions to come together on the key issues that still remain unresolved — Kirkuk, Article 140, the oil law, the budget, a whole host of issues — rather than achieving progress, we may have actually impeded it by freezing into place a very divided society.

Well, that’s a bit of an eye-opener, innit? Who could have possibly imagined that Bush’s stupid-stubborn warmongering policies could set us back? Such a shock, lemme tell ya.

How well have we done in Iraq? Well enough that Maliki is doing everything he can to kick us the fuck out before we can “help” any more:

I suppose we can debate the meaning of the word “timetable,” but this sounds like we’re talking about an agreement that goes well beyond “aspirational time horizons.”

Iraq and the United States have agreed that all U.S. troops will leave by the end of 2011, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday, but Washington said no final deal had been reached.

“There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date, which is the end of 2011, to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil,” Maliki said in a speech to tribal leaders in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

“An open time limit is not acceptable in any security deal that governs the presence of the international forces,” he said.

Shorter Maliki: Get the fuck out of my country. Can’t say as I blame him. And while the White House tries to spin this as “we haven’t agreed yet,” which can be translated into, “We haven’t yet applied enough pressure to make that upstart bastard toe our party line,” Maliki seems pretty certain of what his country wants and that they’re going to get it.

He’s found his balls. Good on him.

Moving on back to the fuckery at home, we have the Republicons desperately trying to pretend there’s this maclargehuge rift between Clintonistas and Obamaniacs. They’ve released ads, spouted talking points, and have most of the media lapping up their drivel, but one reporter ain’t buying it:

But before the networks take the ad too seriously, they should consider an anecdote about the “chicken prank” from TNR’s Eve Fairbanks.

I almost feel like a dupe writing about the second pro-Hillary ad McCain released today at 6am: It’s a stunt, a trick meant to keep him in the press during the Democratic convention and gin up more Hillary-Obama-tension media storylines. Message: neener neener neener.

It is, in fact, the political equivalent of a prank legendarily pulled at my high school in which students procured well fewer than 20 live chickens, numbered them 1 through 2
0 with magic markers (leaving some numbers out), set them loose, and then sat back and gleefully watched as hapless school officials ran around the school searching for the remaining missing chickens that had never actually existed.

That’s precisely what they’re doing: running after imaginary chickens. Republicons do have rich imaginations, and most of the MSM likes to play pretend right along with them.

Note to MSM: you’re total fucking dupes. How’s it feel to be such blithering idiots?

What else can we expect from a press corps that likes to engage in this sort of behavior:

The Fox & Friends team broadcasted live from a bar in downtown Denver today, the opening day of the Democratic National Convention — where they seemed to spend nearly as much time schmoozing with scantily-clad women as they did talking about politics. Segment after segment featured Broncos cheerleaders, Hooters waitresses, with Brian Kilmeade joking about joining the security team to “pat down” the cheerleaders; when Steve Doocy’s son Peter discussed Fox on Twitter, Steve joked that Kilmeade “just twittered the cheerleaders a minute ago!”

This is Faux News’s idea of “family values programming” and “incisive political analysis.” The sad thing is, this isn’t far behind the standard of our media in general.

Is it any wonder Americans look so fucking stupid when they go to the polls?

Happy Hour Discurso

Being a Former POW is No Excuse

For years, I begged my father to watch Full Metal Jacket with me. He claimed it was the only Vietnam movie that ever got it right. Anyone who wanted to know about Vietnam was told to see the film, and they’d know exactly how it was. But he refused to watch it with me, and he refused to let me see it. “You wouldn’t understand,” he’d say in gruff, very final tones whenever I asked. “You’re not old enough.”

He’d let me see any other Vietnam flick. Platoon – no problem, once I’d hit my teens. We saw Born on the Fourth of July together. He laughed his ass off at all of the people who said how authentic it was. Those weren’t real Vietnam movies. They were just fantasies, and that’s probably why he let me see them.

He even encouraged me to read Run Between the Raindrops, which he said was the best book ever written about ‘Nam. He gave me a list of names to take rubbings of when the Traveling Wall came through town. He started telling me more than just the funny stories: he told the tragic ones. But he still refused to watch Full Metal Jacket with me. I began to think we never would.

And then, one night a few months after I was raped at knifepoint, he sat me down. Very grave, very serious, with a video in his hand. “Honey, you’re a survivor now, just like me. Now, you’ll understand.”

I swear to you, I thought he’d lost his fucking mind. I’d been in fear for my life for all of ten minutes, until I figured out who the asshole behind the ski mask was and realized that whatever other indignities I might suffer, death wasn’t even in it. I grant you, it was the worst experience of my life, and one it took a long time to come back from, but for fuck’s sake: one bad morning compared to a year of getting shot at? Spending over a hundred days wearing boots because every time you took them off, you came under mortar fire and thus started getting a tad superstitious? Earning a passel of purple hearts because you took shrapnel from a grenade and got shot in the face? And not Dick-Cheney’s-friend shot, either. This wasn’t a little peppering of birdshot fixed up by a few bandages – my dad’s jaw was shattered. He’s still got shrapnel working its way through his body. I’ve seen the bumps on his chest where it’s coming to the surface. Just for the sake of comparison, it started its journey in his ankle.

Those incredible people he’d fought beside, who had kept me amused on many a storytelling evening: a lot of them had been killed. I took their names off a stark black wall. My father still couldn’t face seeing them there.

And he wanted me to believe that what I’d experienced compared. He believes that himself. Who was I to argue? Fuck, if it meant we were finally going to watch Full Metal Jacket together, hell yes, I’m just like a Vietnam vet! Totally similar experiences. You betcha.

I will use my father’s verdict on the comparability of experiences once again in order to comment upon John McCain’s unrelenting fuckery, and the gulliable patsies who let him get away with it. I will tell you what being a rape survivor does not let me get away with, and since this is analogous to the horrors of Vietnam, these things must also hold true for McCain. QED.

Being a rape survivor does not make me an unimpeachable expert on rape, the combatting thereof, and all things remotely related to it. Being a POW does not make John McCain an expert on war, the fighting thereof, and all things remotely related to it. It apparently doesn’t even make him an expert on torture, because if it had, he wouldn’t have worked so hard to allow America to engage in it. (Imagine me redefining my rape as somehow “not rape” so that sexual violence could be legally perpetrated against women. Morally repugnant? I think so. But that’s essentially what McCain has done.)

Being a rape survivor doesn’t make me any less of a nimrod when I get geographical facts wrong. My teachers didn’t forgive my errors of fact by virtue of my elevated status. When McCain says Czechoslovakia still exists and moves Iran out of the way so Pakistan can border Iraq, despite the fact he’s a POW, he’s still a fucking nimrod. I didn’t get any free passes in college. He shouldn’t get free passes in this race.

Being a rape survivor doesn’t put my integrity beyond reproach. If I lie, sling mud, or cheat, I can’t use the rape survivor shield to fend off criticism. So why does McCain get to be a lying, cheating, mud-slinging asshat and still be thought of as an honorable, straight-talking maverick just because he’s a POW? What happened to us once when we were younger cannot and should not be used to excuse the reality of who we are now.

Being a rape survivor does not mean I get to claim that I’m a better person than my opponents because I survived rape and they didn’t. McCain is no better than the people he smears – in fact, he’s far less of a good man than they are. If we’re going to be claiming higher ground by virtue of our travails, we’d better be fucking standing on it.

I can’t use my status as a rape survivor to disclaim responsibility for the actions I take, the things I say, the people I hurt, and all my many failures. It infuriates me that McCain thinks this status as a POW allows him to do all of that and so much more.

Let me paraphrase Terry Pratchett here: “Just because someone’s a POW doesn’t mean he’s not a nasty, small-minded jerk.”

McCain is.

There are plenty of vets who don’t milk their status for all its worth, good men who don’t believe that Vietnam gave them a free lunch for life card. Take my father, for instance: he could have parlayed his status as a vet into a college education, housing assistance, and health care, to name a few of the benefits available. He didn’t. He refuses to apply for veteran’s benefits. This man was fucking drafted, his life was totally derailed, his college career ended, and yet he thinks his country doesn’t owe him jack fucking shit. His country called on him to serve, he served in a war he despised, and he believes it was no more than his responsibility as a citizen.

He never, not once, has used Vietnam as an excuse for anything more than the reason why he’ll ask me to move my seat so he’s not sitting with his back to a door in a restaurant. That’s it.

McCain spits on people like my father whenever he expects his status as a POW to put him on a shining pedestal, without doing one damned thing to earn it. He spits on people like me when he uses it to excuse his moral, political and human failings. He spits on us all when he uses his status to get ahead.

It’s time we stopped letting him get away with it.

Being a Former POW is No Excuse

It's POW Week at the Cantina

McCain doesn’t think he talks about his POW status enough. Oh, noes! People might not realize he’s a really-real super duper war hero if he doesn’t bring it up at every single solitary opportunity! Quick: let every sentence be a noun, a verb, and POW!

This is an invitation I cannot resist.

Especially since I already have four out of the seven posts that would be necessary to have a POW Week. I’m sure, in light of what McCain believes, I’ll have no trouble filling in the rest.

But why should we stop with just a few potshots at his ridiculous overuse of his history?

Why not open this up to you, my darlings?

Can you think of contests? Polls? Shall we start a list, with my crack army bringing back war trophies from their favorite political sites?

McCain wants to trivialize and debase his sacrifice. In the process, he trivializes and debases the sacrifices of so many other POWs, who served with as much (or more) honor, who came home and didn’t spit on honor by turning their status into a cheap political trump card. It’s fucking outrageous, is what it is. It shows us exactly what sort of man McCain is.

He wants it brought up more? Fine.

We’ll bring it up.

Fucking endlessly.

And while we will never trivialize what these brave soldiers endured, we will most fucking certainly trivialize the use to which John “Exploiter” McLame has put it to.

Game on.

It's POW Week at the Cantina


This is absolutely fucking priceless. Michael Goldfarb, official McCain blogger extraordinaire, has been hard at work denigrating anti-McCain bloggers and New York Times editorial writers as being just like “the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother’s basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons.” He seems rather enamored of the analogy, seeing as how he keeps using it.

I see he’s painted a target on himself. Let the fun begin in three… two… one...

After the first insulting comment, Goldfarb backed away, while sticking to the vernacular: “If my comments caused any harm or hurt to the hard working Americans who play Dungeons & Dragons, I apologize. This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American.”

This led my friend Adam Serwer to raise an excellent point.

That’s the kind of deep, personal animosity that you associate with experience, which clearly Goldfarb has. It’s not hard to imagine that some basement somewhere holds the abandoned d20s, dusty rulebooks, and broken heart of a young Michael Goldfarb who never got to be Dungeon Master because he wouldn’t stop yelling. In fact, it’s hard not to wonder if, when Michael Goldfarb is berating the D&D players of the world, he’s really just berating Michael Goldfarb.

Ta-Nehisi Coates added, “[W]e often are what we hate. Goldfarb remark smacks of a geek trying to get down by slamming other geeks.”

The good news is, the “Pro-Obama Dungeons and Dragons crowd” is apparently getting organized. I can’t help but wonder if the McCain campaign has inadvertently woken an angry nerd army….

This is what happens when you behave like a supercilious little snot toward people intelligent enough to work out the gawd-awful complexities of the D&D system.

Methinks Goldfarb’s dug hisself a hole even Elminster couldn’t magic him out of.


Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

The McCain camp has officially bounced their reality check:

We talked the other day about the McCain campaign overplaying the prisoner-of-war card, so much so that even sympathetic reporters have begun questioning McCain for “trivializing” his service.

For its part, the McCain campaign has come to the opposite conclusion.

They will be prepared to show McCain’s “home” in Hanoi by using images of his cell. They claim they have not overused the POW element and insist they have “underused it.”

There’s no indication that McCain aides were kidding.

Underused it. Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?

Just off the top of my poor, POW-abused brain, I can think of the following instances where they’ve fallen back on the POW plan: in response to the houses dust-up, in campaign commercials, healthcare, foreign policy, every time McCain tells a lame joke… they’ve played it so fucking often I’m losing count, even their biggest fans in the media are starting to groan, it’s become a lame joke, and they still think they’re underusing it?


But even though McCains Media admirers are giving him a bit of guff over the whole exploitation of this POW status thing, they’re still firmly on his side:

Last week Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told Politico that he did not know how many homes he and his wife Cindy own. “I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain said. ThinkProgress noted that even though McCain’s
comment highlights his
poor record on the housing crisis and his economic policies that primarily benefit the rich, many in the media leaped to McCain’s defense, saying the gaffe was not “a big deal.”

Today on ABC’s This Week, Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin took the media’s McCain defense a step further, arguing that the fact that McCain doesn’t know how many houses he owns “is going to be one of the worst moments in the entire campaign” — not for McCain, but for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL):

HALPERIN: My hunch is this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates but it’s Barack Obama. […] I believe that this opened the door to not just Tony Rezko in that ad, but to bring up Reverend Wright, to bring up his relationship with Bill Ayers.

Talk about reaching. Obama’s already survived all that. It was going to come up anyway – you know the wingnuts wouldn’t pass up those juicy items in the general election. And no matter how you spin it, the fact remains that McCain looks a fuck of a lot worse than Obama with this.

Gotta love that incisive MSM commentary though, right? What a bunch of fucking morons.

This is the only way to treat such swill:

Griff Jenkins, a Fox Television correspondent, was waiting with a microphone for a crowd of demonstrators on a Denver street today, hoping to catch signs of a breakup of the herd of cats known as the American Left.


Griff, an affable pencil neck, went to the middle of the street and waitied for the march to envelop him. Here they came, hordes of scruffy, awful looking people with who knows what on their minds, seemingly capable of World Bank, er, world class anarchy. Fox viewers watched with anticipation on the edges of their scratchy plaid furniture. What would happen?

Griff valiantly held up his mike to the first guy, “What are you demonstrating about?”

“Fuck you,” came the reply.

Undaunted, Griff tried again, holding up his blunt instrument to another demonstrator, then another.

Maybe a half dozen answers pretty much exactly the same: Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you. They were mostly smiling, no doubt drenched in cannabisism.

Then Griff hit paydirt: a protester who could (would), speak a sentence. “We don’t talk to Fox.”

Heh. Way to tell ’em.

(My apologies, my darlings. The political news so far today is thinner than John McCain’s hair.)

Happy Hour Discurso