However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Judge Not 11 ► Missing Inaction At Year's End

Judge Nap says: "I want YOU to
repeat Libertarian nonsense without
thinking. Just like me."
As the year Twenty-Twelve comes to an end, Judge Andy, aka The Laughing Libertarian, has been almost missing in action. 

For the entire week (despite being extra vigilant because they knew Santa Claus was watching) the Judge Not Research Team™ only managed to collect 10 items from Judge Nap for the entire week. Consequently, I fired the whole lot of them. There's no reason I can't train a child to do this.

Judge Nap had been so prolific when I started this weekly series. He was sending out well over 100 items per week, more than all his other Fox "News" colleagues put together. However, his output has been dwindling from week to week until, for the final Judge Not of the year, I am left with just 10 items to remark upon.

Unpacking The Aunty Em Ericann Blog ► New Year's Resolutions

Let's get one thing straight from the get-go: I don't make New Year's Resolutions, other than a promise to myself to get through the upcoming year. Even that is out of my ultimate control, because the Flying Spaghetti Monster manifests itself into all our destinies.

However, we can take a look backward at 2012 without offending the FSM's sensibilities. Two-thousand and twelve was the year I transitioned from Aunty Em Ericann back to Headly Westerfield. In a nutshell (because I still get email asking about it), here's how that happened:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 31

It was a tough week for the Fox "News" personalities following the Newtown Massacre. The NRA had yet to state a position on gun control for them to parrot. 

Yet, the so-called "news" network couldn't help but expose its split personality, with Rupert Murdock coming out in favour of gun control, while the rest of the Fox Chuckleheads™ came out in favour of a strong Second Amendment, with no exceptions. It's the reason why The Fox "News" Spin Cycle blog series exists.

Let's get right to it:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Judge Not 10 ► Guns

Judge Andy in unretouched pic
taken directly from my tee vee screen
As last week's exciting episode of Judge Not came to a close, our erstwhile hero Judge Andy had already begun to observe Radio Silence, which started as soon as the magnitude of the massacre in Newtown became known. 

While it's clearly against the Aunty Em Ericann blog employee rules, all the Judge Not unpaid interns took a long, liquid lunch at the same time (leaving the phones to ring off the hook) to argue and speculate how long it would be before The Laughing Libertarian was back to messaging. More importantly, they organized an office pool on how long it would be before Judge Nap broached the issue of guns again. As it turned out, that happened the very next day with his second message. [I'd tell you who won the pool, but I don't think they plan to declare their winnings. Therefore, it's best if it remains an office secret. Besides,] I fired all the interns and hired new ones. I'll teach them to have a long, liquid lunch without me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 30

Fox "News" logo used
without permission
It's the perfect set of bookends documented in this week's edition of The Fox "News" Spin Cycle

It begins with a continuation of the Bob-Costas-and-guns-kerfuffle from last week and ends with Fox "News" clinging to its guns and religion. In between there was a mall shooting, Susan Rice withdrew herself from consideration as Secretary of State, and attacks against Ed Asner (again) and Matt Damon (again). In other words: the usual nonsense from the usual gang of idiots.

NB: A word of warning. The Newtown Massacre broke my funny bone. I'm less likely to go for laughs this week; I'm more likely to go for the jugular.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be ► Flying High

Drawing of steerable dirigible created by Henri
Giffard, which reportedly flew 15 miles in 1852.
If God had meant humans to fly, She would have provided everyone with carry-on luggage. 

Back at the turn of the last century, however, people were trying to solve riddle of flight. Hot air balloons had been around for more than a century, but a hot air balloon has only two controls: up and down. Dirigibles came along in the mid-19th century, with steam-driven engines and controls. However, fixed-wing, heavier-than-air craft would have to wait for the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Judge Not 9 ► The Post Gun Edition

Unretouched pic of Judge Andy, from
my tee vee, showing his gigantic brain.
As the week began Judge "Andy" Napolitano, the Fox "News" Senior Judicial Analyst, must have still been stewing over Bob Costas' gun comments from last week, just like the rest of the Fox "News" personalities

One of my life's amusements, such as it is, is watching how quickly Fox "News" jumps to attacking the messenger, without noting the delicious irony that it too is a messenger, although thoroughly discredited messenger after the recent election. Jon Stewart noted other ironies about how Fox "News" doesn't cover gun violence.

This week's edition of Judge Not will continue after these Daily Show videos:

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 29

Bizarro is owned by Dan Piraro at Bizarro Blog!
The Fox "News" Spin Cycle team was forced to work overtime this week: Not only did Bob Costas go crazy and say the obvious, and not only did he desecrate a sacred football broadcast to do so, but he did it during The Phony War on Christmas, aka The Holy Weeks. This shall not stand.

That's why Fox "News" started the week attacking Costas, but before it was over there would be other targets: favourite enemy Michael Moore would be smeared, Labour supporter Ed Asner pissed the station off, and PSY, of the Gangnam Style craze, would become a sworn enemy. And, for good measure, the so-called Ground Zero Mosque is back in the news.

Unpacking the Aunty Em Ericann Blog

Welcome to my occasional entry of Unpacking the Aunty Em Ericann Blog, where I ask my readers to pay attention to the man behind the curtain, who used to be "Aunty Em Ericann," the woman behind the curtain.

Before I left Canada, 7 years ago, I told several people (who may now be too embarrassed to admit to knowing me) that I was going to become a nationally-known pundit in 'Merka under the nom de plume "Aunty Em Ericann." To that end I created the meta-character named Aunty Em Ericann, who eventually came to write at NewsHounds. The back story for Aunty Em was deceptively simple. Here's her biographical profile:
Emily Ericann. That's my real name. Well it was, before I went back to my maiden name after the divorce. My ex and I were dating for 2 months before we realized that if we got married my name could be pronounced "american" (Em Ericann). After it all went bad, I realized that's the only real reason we got married. Ironically, I am a former American. However, I lived in Canada three and a half decades and became a Canadian citizen along the way. And yet, I recently returned to The Land of My Birth to take care of my aged father. Shocked by the before and after differences in America, I will use this forum to speak out. 
Some members of the Miklós Rózsa Society. Miklós
is in the center. The sack of shit who hides
behind the name of Johnny Dollar is on the far left.
I got away with the nom de plume for a number of years before the two-legged piece of excrement named Johnny Dollar decided it was his mission in life to expose Aunty Em's identity, along with my sex life. That story is outlined in Johnny Dollar Has Proven Himself To Be A Very Dangerous Person, the very first post on this blog.

However, my long-time readers already know that story. If they've been paying attention they also know that my Unpacking Aunty Em Ericann Blog series is merely an excuse to find clever ways to remind them to click on some of the advertising, so I can keep the Aunty Em Ericann Blog rolling. It won't cost you anything, but will add a few pennies (and I do mean few) to my coffers, helping to support this enterprise.

I'm looking at YOU!

Meanwhile, one statistic I can access through the Blogger platform is what search terms people have used to find their way to the Aunty Em Ericann Blog. Take a look at this chart for this week:

Top Ten search terms delivering readers to the "Aunty Em Ericann" blog this week. They all make sense except #8.

I don't know what disturbs me the most: That this week one of the search terms that people used to arrive here was "boy staked to the ground"; that three separate people used the search term "boy staked to the ground"; or that, somehow, "boy staked to the ground" brings people to my blog, even though I've tried it without any luck. While I'm thinking about it, I'm not so sure of Arawak People being on this blog either.

From time to time I also like to review what my Top Ten posts are. I can see which ones are highly-rated at any given moment in time, or by the day, by the week, by the month, and of all time since the Aunty Em Ericann Blog launched.

My Top Ten most popular posts of All Time

My Top Ten Posts of All Time™ in handy clickable hypertext:


Click on one of the links above to read one of my Top Ten blog entries, or just go exploring from the front page. There's guaranteed to be a story or two you like, or maybe something that merely pisses you off. However, just keep in mind that it would be a small favour to me for you to click on one of the adverts . . . or two . . . on the Aunty Em Ericann Blog.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Judge Not 8 ► Bob Costas Control

Totally unretouched pic of Judge Nap
taken directly from my tee vee set
Not even Bob Costas making an obvious statement about gun violence was enough to goose Judge "Andy" Nap's output any higher this week. At 31 posts, Judge Nap's bluster was only slightly higher than last week's tally. It's still within the margin of error, however.

TO BE FAIR: Judge Nap was not the only Fox personality to jump on Bob Costas' gun remarks during the week; He was just the most hypocritical. Let's get right to this exciting episode of Judge Not:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Me and Flo and Eddie and Mark and Howard ► A Musical Appreciation

"I’d like to clean you boys up a bit and mold you.
I believe I could make you as big as The Turtles"
~~~~~Noted L.A. disc jockey
A mere 3 days ago I wrote about Frank Zappa, one of my musical heroes. Today I want to tell the story of how I met Flo & Eddie. 

I'm telling this story because I am sure Howard Kaylan left this chapter out of his forthcoming book, "Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc." That's why it has been left to me to tell the unabridged story. Get comfortable, kiddies.

Three days ago, when writing about the Zappa LP Freak Out, I said: 
Not to brag, but I was there from the beginning. I discovered Frank Zappa some time in 1966 when I first set eyes on the cover of Freak Out at my local Kresge's record department. As one descended on the escalator into the basement, a gap opened in the wall revealing Kresge's 2-rack record department. The farther one descended, more of the record department was revealed in the expanding triangle of the record department. As teens we'd crane our heads into that crack to see what was new each week.

One day in 1966 my eyes spied what was the ugliest record cover I had ever seen. I had to own it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Montgomery Bus Boycott ► Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

Dateline December 5, 1955 - Rosa Parks and E.D. Nixon began the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It lasted for just over one year. 

This is something that happened within my lifetime. It's not all that long ago: a mere 57 years.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott didn't end racism, of course. It's just not institutionalized and is far less overt. Hell, President Obama's reelection hasn't ended racism. It's just done through dog whistles these days.

Some years later my father had a store on 12th Street in Detroit, the city to which Parks had moved in 1957. Twelfth Street was at the epicenter of the 1967 riot and was eventually renamed Rosa Parks Boulevard.

Rosa Parks died in Detroit on October 24, 2005.

Further reading:

Unpacking My Detroit; Part Five ► The Detroit Riots

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Frank Zappa ► A Musical Appreciation

Dateline December 4 - On this day in 1971 Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were on stage in Montreax, Switzerland when the casino caught fire. The night was immortalized in Deep Purple's song "Smoke on the Water." On the same date 22 years later Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 28

Bizarro is owned by DC Comics
The only thing that separates Fox "News" World from Bizarro World is the fact that Bizarro World is a totally made up place. Oh! Wait! So is Fox "News" World. Let me try that again.

The only thing that separates Fox "News" World from Bizarro World is the fact that Bizarro World is a totally made up world of pen and ink. Try doing that, Steve Doocy!

The Fox "News" Spin Cycle is a leisure time activity of the Aunty Em Ericann Blog. Let's get right to it, shall we?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Judge Not 7 ► This Week's Libertarian Lie

Unretouched pic of Judge Andy from my tee vee screen
Another week has passed, as has some more hot air from our favourite Libertarian, Judge "Andy" Andrew Napolitano, the resident Fox "News" Senior Judicial Analyst and Scaremonger.

I'm doing the best that I can, but once again Judge Nap fell down on his end of the bargain. I was only able to collect 27 posts from the Laughing Libertarian this week, which makes it that much harder to bring the Fox "News" Snark. However, it also makes it that much faster to compile Judge Not.

I need to take the good with the bad. So do you. Here's this week's Judge Not.

Unpacking The Writer ► First In A New Series

I started my professional career on a machine like this.
I still bang my keyboard as if it's a manual typewriter
and I wear off the most used letters within a year.
Welcome to the inaugural post of a new, occasional blog series that will look into the machinations of being a professional writer. Pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

Last night I found dozens of files in a folder that was buried inside a folder, which was nested in another folder, that was interred deeply on the hard drive of my computer. I didn't realize I was still lugging this stuff around. It's not all that heavy.

It's a strange melange of files and contains a lot of crap, but there's also some wonderful stuff that would be called ephemera, if it were actually printed on paper. Some of it's fascinating; some is dross. There are angry letters, email from the early '90s, query letters to editors, articles I clipped and saved, research links, sketches for short stories, articles I started writing "on spec" but never found a place to publish, and some files that I don't even remember how they got there or who wrote them.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Musical Appreciation ► Thomas Edison Unveils First Phonograph

Edison with the 2nd model
of his phonograph in 1878
He invented the stock ticker, a mechanical voting machine, batteries for electric cars, motion pictures, not to mention the electric light bulb and electric power distribution. However, nothing Thomas Alva Edison invented has brought more pleasure to more people than the phonograph.

Edison demonstrated his first phonograph, a word he also invented, on this day in 1877. Edison was not trying to invent a phonograph when he came upon the inspiration. He was trying to improve the high technology of his day, the telegraph transmitter. However, he noticed that when the paper tape was moved through the transmitter at high speed, it sounded a bit like human speech. This led him to begin experimenting with a hard needle to etch sound waves into a rotating cylinder covered with a thick tin foil. Voila! An invention is born.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Musical Appreciation ► Happy Birthday, Berry Gordy, Jr.

The Motown Museum in 2010, taken by author.
Dateline November 28, 1929 - Berry Gordy, Jr. is born in Detroit, Michigan, the city he would later rename Motown.

The broad contours of Gordy's life are well-known: He was the 7th of 8 children born to Berry Gordy II and Bertha Fuller Gordy, who had come up to Detroit in the early '20s to work in the car business. Berry dropped out of school and opted for a career as a boxer, which he abandoned when he was drafted for service in Korea. When he returned from the service, he started writing songs. His first hit was "Reet Petite" for Jackie Wilson, which started Gordy off in show biz. After a few more songwriting credits, which include the smash "Lonely Teardrops," he decided to try his hand at producing. He found a Detroit Doo Wop group called The Matadors, renamed The Miracles, which started Gordy's roster of artists.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 27

Bizarro is owned by DC Comics
It's been tough going lately for Fox "News." No sooner had it lost the election for Mendacious Mitt, its whole Benghazi Conspiracy Theory started to fall apart. If that wasn't bad enough, MSNBC started to smoke Fox in the ratings.

However, as the week began Fox "News" still thought it had the White House and the Nielson Ratings cornered. By week's end, Senator John McCain was hilariously left twisting in the wind after repeating his Fox "News" created smears (he didn't build that) of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. All he could do on the weekend talk shows was his best Jackie Gleason impression: "Humina humina humina."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unpacking The Aunty Em Ericann Blog ► Shit Just Got Real

Pictures in the public domain stitched together by author
From time to time I like to unpeel the onion and reveal a bit of what it takes to put this blog together. I call the series "Unpacking The Aunty Em Ericann Blog," Aunty Em being my nom de plume when I was writing at NewsHounds.

However, as I have explained to my faithful readers, this series has always been nothing more than an excuse to find clever ways to beg my readers to click on an advert or two (in the right-hand column) while they are here. When someone clicks on an advert, I get a few pennies . . . and I do mean "a few." Finding clever ways to get my readers to click on the adverts has become more crucial than ever. Yesterday I learned two things simultaneously:

Judge Not 6 ► This Week's Pop Quiz

"Give your tired, poor snark to the
huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
Each week, as my Judge Not series has grown in popularity, Judge Nap's output has declined considerably.  I sure hope I have not been inhibiting him.

Judge Nap knows the only reason I spun him off into his own HIGH-LARRY-US sitcom/blog series was because he was so damned prolific. When compiling screen caps for The Fox "News" Spin Cycle, Judge Nap was the single most verbose Foxite, with more than 100 posts in one week, which was a third of the output of everyone else at the station combined. That's why this Fox Snark Series™ seemed like a good idea. Comedy gold.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 26

Bizarro is owned by CD Comics
For all the attention given to other news stories this week, Fox "News" could have just as easily re-branded itself "The Benghazi/Petraeus Terrific Hour," although that doesn't sound as officially deceptive as "Fair and Balanced." 

However, the Fox "News" Brain Room interns spent most of the week trying to come up with a Grand Unifying Conspiracy Theory [G.U.C.T.], which would link the attack on Benghazi with David Petraeus' infidelity, while folding in the Elmo sex scandal and ending, finally, with the bankruptcy at Hostess due to rapacious unionism. However, by week's end, a G.U.C.T. seems to have eluded them. Let's get right to the low-lights.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be ► Steamboat Willie

Dateline November 18, 1928 - Mickey Mouse appears in "Steamboat Willie," the first all-singing, all-talking, all-musical cartoon.

What made "Steamboat Willie" such a revelation to movie-goers in 1928 was that the cartoon was entirely synchronized with the music and sound effects. While we take that entirely for granted today, this was a giant advance in the technology of the day. Walt Disney's tour de force came less than a year after the release of "The Jazz Singer," the first full-length "talkie."

The technological advances of The Jazz Singer and Steamboat Willie helped put a nail in the coffin of the Silent Movie Era. In the case of Steamboat Willie, this is ironic because it was paying homage to the classic Buster Keaton silent film "Steamboat Bill, Jr." Within a decade silent movies were as dead as wax cylinders.

It cost Walt Disney $4,986 to produce Steamboat Willie.

Judge Not 5 ► The Book Promotion Edition

Judge Nap 4 prominently featured 'above the fold'
on the "Lost Liberty & Freedom Today" e-zine
I am both amazed and gratified at how quickly the Judge Not series is growing in popularity. I picked up a number of new visitors this week in particular, after Judge Not 4 was featured on "Lost Liberty & Freedom Today," an e-zine that seems to exist only to lionize Judge Andrew Napolitano. I couldn't be more proud

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 25

Bizarro is owned by DC Comics
Nothing better demonstrates how Fox "News" is exactly like Bizarro World than this week's, post-election edition of The Fox "News" Spin Cycle, the 25th in our popular ongoing series. 

Keep in mind: This was the week in which, before the election, the Fox "News" Paid & Preferred Pundits™ were declaring Mendacious Mitt would win in a landslide. It was the same week in which the Fox "News" Paid & Preferred Politician™ Mendacious Mitt Romney lost the Presidential Election in a landslide.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Judge Not 4 ►

Unretouched photo of Judge Nap taken from author's tee vee
Maybe Judge Nap was still licking his wounds after Tuesday's election, in which Mendacious Mitt had his ass handed to him.

Or maybe it was simply because Judge Judy still won't return his tweets. [It's a long, complicated story. Sunday night The Judge and I were killing time and a bottle of tequila when he got a crazy idea and took out his smartphone. I warned him not to send Judge Judy that! Have you ever tried to tell The Judge what to do when he gets a snoot-full?]

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Magazine Day ► Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

First issue of Rolling Stone
First issue of The Atlantic
DATELINE November 9 - On this date in 1967, Rolling Stone published its first issue in San Francisco. On this date in 1857, The Atlantic Monthly was founded in Boston, Massachusetts.

A lot of magazines have folded in the 155 years since the first issue of The Atlantic Monthly, or the 45 years since Rolling Stone first came out. Yet both magazines are still essential reading and important cultural touchstones.

We know tend to know about the founding of Rolling Stone by Jann Wenner and Ralph J. Gleason of Rolling Stone Magazine. While Wenner came out of nowhere, almost, Gleason had already carved a reputation. By contrast, most of the founders of The Atlantic are names you would still recognize: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., John Greenleaf Whittier and James Russell Lowell.

Current front page of Rolling Stone
Current front page of The Atlantic
In 1977 Jann Wenner moved Rolling Stone to New York City. The Atlantic Monthly published, err, monthly until 2001. After a year in which The Atlantic published 11 issues, it settled down to producing 10 issues a year and dropped the word "Monthly" from its name.

Both magazines remain important and vibrant today, and both currently have a strong electronic presence. However, with Newsweek already deciding to kill its analog version, how much longer will magazines be around?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Another Magical Tee Vee Moment ► KKKarl Rove Blunders Badly

While he's mostly as serious as a festering boil, there was unintended comedy from KKKarl Rove during the Fox "News" election coverage last night.

Rove was, once again, in the catbird's seat. Once again, Fox "News" was allowing him to spout election lies without ever once -- during the entire election cycle -- revealing his MASSIVE conflict of interest. For, you see, Rove's 2 SuperPACs spent an estimated $300,000,000.00 to influence the 2012 elections. Yet, Fox "News" neglected to mention that the billions of times that KKKarl Rove was on the network.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 24

Bizarro is owned by DC Comics
This SPECIAL ELECTION EDITION of the Fox "News" Spin Cycle is being compiled the day prior to the election. It's been an intense several months. The closer we got to the election, the faster the so-called "news" network has had to spin in order to WHITEwash for Mendacious Mitt.

It was a week in which there was a national disaster of historic proportions. However, if you were watching Fox "News," you could almost be forgiven for not knowing about it. That's because the network spent so much more of its airtime trashing President Obama for conspiracy theories it has invented about Benghazi. That is, until they could figure out the right way to blame President Obama for the hurricane. As a new week begins, that's just what they have done.

About that election tomorrow. Media Matters put together a little infographic that highlights why Fox "News" is not "Fair and Balanced." Never has been. Never will be. This is the context for everything that follows.

Media Matters for America infographic. Fox "News" made them a sworn enemy. What better recommendation is there?

Unpacking Aunty Em ► My Shocking Confession

"Hanging" Chad. Despite his
name, Chad's a wonderful dancer.
I have never voted in an election in my entire life. In fact, it's somewhat of a family tradition. I am a Second Generation Non-Voter™. 

I had always assumed that Pops voted before I moved back in with him to help him out. I was shocked to learn he never voted in his life. I've asked Pops why he doesn't vote and simply put: he thinks they're all crooks and doesn't want to encourage them. People ask me why I've never voted and I say, "It's complicated."

Get comfy, kidz.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Judge Not 3 ► Libertarian Leprechaun

Maybe it was the after effects of Hurricane Sandy, maybe it was sheer laziness on Judge Nap's part, or maybe I was away from my computer more this week (which seems pretty unlikely). However, Judge Nap really seemed to slack off this week, only sending out some 40 updates, when last week I had 153 to choose from. 

Regardless the reason, it doesn't mean that the Laughing Judge neglected any of his favourite topics. They were all there, from drones, to Ludwig von Mises, to legalization of marijuana, the to government being the enemy. Let's deconstruct, shall we?

Bully Boy Bolling Believes Bullshit Baffles Brains

It was an epic battle this morning on Fox and Friends as Geraldo Rivera and Bully Boy Bolling battled it out over the tragedy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

Let's not forget -- as Geraldo clearly has not -- that on September 12th, Fox "News" was already politicizing the deaths in the Benghazi attack. However, it must be noted, Fox "News" was merely regurgitating Mendacious Mitt's talking points from the night before. Mittens began politicizing this tragedy while it was still ongoing and before anyone knew there had even been deaths.

That's why for the past 7 weeks Fox "News" had done little more than make up lies about what happened in Benghazi in order to smear President Obama. It's been virtually non-stop. This past week Fox "News" barely took time out to report on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy because that would have taken precious time away from blaming President Obama for the Libyan attack.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Terry Knight and the Pack ► A Musical Appreciation

First LP
Second LP
When I was a teenager one of my absolute favourite bands was Terry Knight and the Pack. I was an unsophisticated 14-year old when they released their only 2 LPs and they really spoke to my teenage angst. It didn't hurt that Terry Knight and the Pack were a local band. (Who knew from Flint, Michigan?) I didn't know (at the time) of Terry Knight's history as a Detroit DJ, first on WJBK, then moving to The Big 8, CKLW in Windsor. All I knew is the music really embedded itself deeply into my psyche.

At the time I didn't have the language, or understanding of why they appealed to me so greatly. However, in hindsight based on my collected knowledge of musical genres, I can see how Terry Knight wove in bits of Psychedelia, Vaudeville, Country, Blues, Folk, and Jazz and then infused it all with a Rock and Roll sensibility that at once made it sound familiar, yet different. All I knew at the time is that I would listen to these two LPs -- from start to finish -- and then do it all over again and again and again.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Tribute to Ethel Waters ► Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

Dateline October 31, 1896 - The incomparable Ethel Waters is born in Chester, Pennsylvania, the result of a rape of her mother, who was reportedly only 13 years old at the time. Waters was raised in extreme poverty and said of her own childhood, "I never was a child. I never was cuddled, or liked, or understood by my family." Waters was married at the age of 13 to an abusive man, whom she soon left. For a time she worked as a maid, toiling in a Philadelphia hotel for $4.75 a week. On her 17th birthday she was cajoled into singing two songs at a party. From that ad hoc performance she was offered a job to sing professionally in Baltimore.

It still wasn't easy. She toured the Vaudeville circuit for a time. She joined a carnival, traveling by freight cars. Of her experience working carnivals she said, "The roustabouts and the concessionaires were the kind of people I'd grown up with, rough, tough, full of larceny towards strangers, but sentimental and loyal to their friends and co-workers." After a stint in Chicago, she found herself singing at the same Atlanta club as Bessie Smith, who demanded that Ethel Waters not compete with her by singing the Blues. Waters complied and sang only ballads and popular songs instead. This is ironic because today Waters is best known for singing the Blues. In 1919 she moved to Harlem just in time for the Harlem Renaissance, where she eventually found her fame.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fox "News" Spin Cycle ► Episode 23

Bizarro is owned by DC Comics
Monday already? That must mean it's time for another exciting edition of The Fox "News" Spin Cycle, where the so-called "news" channel does everything in its power to WHITEwash for Mendacious Mitt and employ every lie it can invent to smear President Obama. 

It was a very busy week for the Fox "News" spinners: Mittens lost another debate and there were all those Benghazi lies to invent. That's why I managed to collect 265 separate screen captures. After removing the duplicates and those that were meant to deflect away from the GOP lies, this is what we were left with this week. Let's get to it, shall we?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Prohibition Then and Now

Detroit on January 16, 1920, the day before prohibition began.
DATELINE October 28, 1919 - The House overrides President Woodrow Wilson's veto to pass the 18th Amendment, also known as the Volstead Act. The Senate went along the following day, which brought in prohibition across the nation the following January. Prohibition lasted for almost 14 years -- 14 years of extreme lawlessness. It was a complete failure. As PBS tells us: 
Prohibition turned law-abiding citizens into criminals, made a mockery of the justice system, caused illicit drinking to seem glamorous and fun, encouraged neighborhood gangs to become national crime syndicates, permitted government officials to bend and sometimes even break the law, and fostered cynicism and hypocrisy that corroded the social contract all across the country. With Prohibition in place, but ineffectively enforced, one observer noted, America had hardly freed itself from the scourge of alcohol abuse – instead, the "drys" had their law, while the "wets" had their liquor. 
 I highly recommend the three-part Ken Burns-Lynn Novik documentary Prohibition. Here's a taste:

Watch Al Capone Beer Wars on PBS. See more from Prohibition.

Prohibition Now

'Merka learned almost nothing from Prohibition. No sooner did the country do away with Prohibition, it brought in the Marihuana [sic] Tax Act of 1937. Oddly enough, the law did not outlaw marijuana; it merely required paying a tax of about a dollar to deal in hemp, marijuana, or cannabis. However, it was impossible to obtain a tax stamp. This effectively made marijuana illegal even though there are many uses for marijuana, whether for smoking or making products out of hemp, such as paper.

The outlawing of marijuana was a perfect storm of business interests and racism, all whipped up by Harry J. Anslinger, who was appointed to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930 by Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon. One of the Mellon Bank's financial interests was DuPont, which was moving out of munitions and into plastics and synthetic fibers. Hemp, which had been a huge industry at the time, was a threat to DuPont's plans.

One of Anslinger's weapons in his campaign to outlaw marijuana was undisguised racism, as DrugWarRant.com clearly lays out in its report on Why Is Marijuana Illegal:
He also promoted and frequently read from “Gore Files” — wild reefer-madness-style exploitation tales of ax murderers on marijuana and sex and… Negroes. Here are some quotes that have been widely attributed to Anslinger and his Gore Files:
    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

“Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
And he loved to pull out his own version of the “assassin” definition:
“In the year 1090, there was founded in Persia the religious and military order of the Assassins, whose history is one of cruelty, barbarity, and murder, and for good reason: the members were confirmed users of hashish, or marihuana, and it is from the Arabs’ ‘hashashin’ that we have the English word ‘assassin.’”
Yellow Journalism
Harry Anslinger got some additional help from William Randolf Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had lots of reasons to help. First, he hated Mexicans. Second, he had invested heavily in the timber industry to support his newspaper chain and didn’t want to see the development of hemp paper in competition. Third, he had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa, so he hated Mexicans. Fourth, telling lurid lies about Mexicans (and the devil marijuana weed causing violence) sold newspapers, making him rich.
Movies such as Reefer Madness (1936) helped to drive the national hysteria:

While the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was supplanted by various laws over the years, the result is the same: Marijuana is still illegal. Some of the costs of the War on Drugs include:
  • Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000
  • Number of people arrested in 2010 in the U.S. on nonviolent drug charges: 1,638,846
  • Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2010: 853,838
  • Number of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 750,591 (88 percent)
  • Number of Americans incarcerated in 2009 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,424,279 or 1 in every 99.1 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world
  • Fraction of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison that are black or Hispanic, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 2/3
  • Number of states that allow the medical use of marijuana: 17 + District of Columbia
  • Estimated annual revenue that California would raise if it taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana: $1,400,000,000
  • Number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: 200,000+
  • Tax revenue that drug legalization would yield annually, if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco: $46.7 billion
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico and current candidate for President of the United States for the Libertarian Party argues
It’s time we tax and regulate marijuana. The War on Drugs is a proven failure.  We have spent several decades and close to a trillion dollars trying to eliminate drugs.

Consider these facts:

  • The last three Presidents and half of American adults have said they have smoked marijuana.
  • More children have tried marijuana, which is illegal, than cigarettes, which are regulated.
  • Last year we arrested 850,000 people for marijuana, mostly for possession.
  • So far, fourteen states have passed medical marijuana laws enabling sick people to benefit.
  • Massachusetts, Denver, and Seattle have either successfully decriminalized, or instituted lowest priority law enforcement policies for marijuana possession.
We learned a valuable lesson with alcohol prohibition in this country. Prohibition created black markets and violence as gangs fought to control the market. The same thing is true today.  Mexican cartels make the majority of their profits distributing marijuana in 230 American cities, and the resulting violence is tragic. That’s why the presidents of many Latin American countries signed a declaration that the war on drugs needs to be ended.
Isn't it time to do away with the War on Drugs?

Ron Mann's 1999 documantary Grass: The History Of Marijuana is a great overview of how marijuana became illegal.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Judge Not Two ► Libertarian Logrolling

Here come the Judge
Welcome to Week Two of Judge Not. This week proves why it was necessary to spin Judge Nap off into his own series. In the last 6 days the Laughing Libertarian sent out -- at minimum -- 153 updates that I captured. 

NB: These are only those I caught. I am not at my desk 24 hours a day. One wonders how Judge Nap finds the time to do any work.

Judge Nap espouses the Libertarian viewpoint, which some people also call Randian, after Libertarian Social Security-taker Ayn Rand. Coincidentally, or not, President Obama gave his views on Ayn Rand this week in a Rolling Stone interview:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chow Mein and Bolling ► A Correction

I made a massive error in Chow Mein and Bolling 11, published earlier today. I take full blame for the screw-up and will not attempt to wriggle away from my culpability in any way whatsoever. Furthermore, I sincerely apologize to my readers who expect honesty and accuracy in my reporting, especially when it concerns Fox "News."

In Chow Mein and Bolling 11 I stated without equivocation that Bully Boy Bolling made the Media Matters Wall of Shame™ four separate times yesterday. I was wrong and hang my head in shame. Bully Boy Bolling made the Media Matters Wall of Shame™ FIVE times yesterday.