I'd just gotten back from the Denver Super Rally and made the mistake of picking up the phone.
"It's Laura Kaminker."
Still having no idea who the woman was, I asked what she was selling?
"Sock puppets. I have a wide variety of sock puppets."
I don't need any sock puppets. (What the hell are sock puppets anyway? Was Lambchop a sock puppet?)
"No, they come in very handy. Take me, I'm a reporter. No one hires me because I have really bad work habits and adult acne on my ass which has now spread all over my face --"
"but I do peddle a little freelance work and when I do, I pull out my sock puppets so that someone can praise my bad writing. It makes it look like I'm very, very popular. And I'm not. I'm really not. Did I mention my adult ass acne has spread to my face?"
I didn't want any sock puppets.
"But if you don't buy them, I'll have to return to the United States! I won't be able to stay in Canada!"
Thinking she might be a war resister, I asked her when she signed up.
"Oh, I hate the military. I always did. And I hate the people who serve. And I hate America. That's why I chose to flee like a coward to Canada after the 2004 election when John Kerry didn't win. Except for John Kerry, I hate all America. And all Americans. I'm a spokesmodel here. You don't have to be pretty in Canada, apparently. Which is a good thing because my adult ass acne has spread to my face."
I'm starting to think this has to be a prank call.
"No, I'm serious. I just don't sound it because I'm also highly stupid. I am Laura Kaminker and my family used to call me the little stinker. I don't care about them. They're Americans. I'm going to be Canadian. I gladly left them behind and I hope all Americans rot in hell. Not you, you could buy a sock puppet from me. I really need to sell them because my prescription for my adult ass acne is costly and --"
I thought they had free medical in Canada.
"Well they do. But I'm embarrassed to go out due to having this adult ass acne. It has spread to my face. I am really, really ugly now and I wasn't all that before. I popped this one big zit on my forehead and you know what happened?"
Your brain exploded?
"Oh no! Ha-ha-ha. That's funny. I don't have a brain. You're so silly. But I do have adult ass acne. Sometimes it gets so bad I just rub my ass back and forth, back and forth, over the shag rug carpet. My sock puppets love it. Would you like to buy one? They don't have adult ass acne. But I do scratch my ass and . . . well, down there with them. I itch a lot lately and if I wasn't so ugly, I would go to the doctor to find out if I have lice. Do you know what lice looks like? I have been saving these things in a plastic bag hoping a doctor could identify them but I am so hungry I ended up cooking them with noodles and eating them. It was either that or eat more of my buggers. I like buggers. I like them crispy. But I especially enjoy the taste of a soft green bugger. I think of them as unripened avocados. Yumm-Yumm. I am making myself hungry. Hold on a second while I pick at my crack to see if there is anything in there I can eat?"
Oh good Lord, this has to be a prank.
"Nope, nothing there. But my finger smells like ass now. Sometimes when I get upset, I stick my finger in my crack and sniff it."
Maybe that's how the adult ass acne traveled to your face?
"Maybe so. But I like to smell it. And then I wonder, 'Does it smell bad or good?' I really just know that it smells strong. And then I lick my finger clean. Mmmm. Mmmmm."
Who is this really? Does your mother know you're using the phone?
"I told you, this is Laura Kaminker. I am not very smart and I am not very pretty. But I do have adult ass acne all over my body. And I have sock puppets. Would you like to buy a sock pocket? You sound Black on the phone. Are you Black? I have a brown sock puppet that I use on my crack when it gets damp back there. I cannot afford toilet paper. All of my money goes into buying tube socks which I then turn into sock puppets. They are my best friends. In fact, they are my only friends. Hello, little sock puppets, does one of you want to go check Mommy's crack?"
Are you drunk?
"No, but I am thirsty. I have no money so I have to wait to drink."
Wait for what?
"To tinkle, silly! I tinkle and then I have something to drink."
I have to go.
"Not me. If I had to go, I would be so happy because I am so very, very thirsty right now. Do you know that if you glass your urine you can preserve it? I like three day old urine best. I hear five day old is better; however, one time I forgot to drink it quick enough and worms grew in it."
"So I took the worms and scratched them against my adult ass acne thinking they would cure it."
"But they didn't cure it. They just made people say I smell funny. One woman called me piss panties. I cried and cried and came home to my sock puppets because they always love me. I have not left the house since then. That was weeks and weeks ago. Will you buy one of my sock puppets. It would mean so much if you would. My sock puppets are expertly designed by me with a black magic marker. I expertly craft eyes with the magic marker and I can also do noses or round mouths. I can probably even do special orders if you have a person you would like to see a sock puppet of."
Hey, can you do something with a sock puppet?
"I can do anything with a sock puppet. Sometimes, when it's late at night and just me and my sock puppets --"
Yeah, yeah. I want you to take your sock puppet and shove it in your mouth.
"Okay. Hold on."
"Mmmm mmmm mmm mmm mmmm mmmm."
Nothing shut that woman up. Finally I just hung up on her. Psycho.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, August 29, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, John McCain declares a running mate, Cynthia McKinney campaigns this weekend in Michigan, and more.
Starting with the US presidential race. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader held a Super Rally in Denver Wednesday and took the stage to the tune of "This Land Is Your Land." Below are some of his opening remarks and you can see the video here:
Ralph Nader: . . . one of the best songs of social justice ever written. And for those of you concerned, all this [points to confetti] can be recycled. Well, where do we start? Let's start with something dealing with Colorado. The Democratic Party Convention selling sky-boxes. And guess who paid big money for those sky-boxes? Coors. One million dollars. How about this one: Excell, one million dollars. Qwest, six million dollars.
Well, you know, if they are really a part of working people, the way they used to say they were, fifty, sixty years ago, under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. They'd have hospitality suites, not for these fat cat corporate lobbyists who are tearing the heart and soul out of America, they'd have hospitality suites for workers, for farm workers, for nurses, for patients trying to get health care, for consumers being ripped off, for students who are being gouged by student loans. They'd have all kinds of hospitality suites and maybe they ought to go and see how some people in Denver live on the other side of the tracks, to see the poverty and the desperation and the lack of affordable housing and the lack of insurance when they get sick.
This party is sick. It's decaying. It's lost its soul. And its leaders can't ever get up on the stage like at the Pepsi Center -- the Pepsi Center, imagine after you say "The Pepsi Center" -- I'll bet you the tax payer built that center.
You never talk about the poor. That's a no-no in Democratic Party dictionary. You talk about the middle class, which they've helped shrink through NAFTA and WTO and all the way they've crushed opposition to corporate power. Corporate power has crushed so much of its opposition they've brought trade unions to their knees. They've made it almost impossible for industrial or commercial workers to even form a trade union because of the Taft-Hartley Law and other obstructive laws that no other western country puts before it workers.
The Democrats are dialing for the same dollars, the same corporate dollars the Republicans are dialing for. And they don't even bother covering it up. They're being winded and dined by the corrupters, the corporate predators, the corporations who have ripped off American consumers and workers that depleted their pensions who are outsourcing your jobs when you get out of college. Who are saying to you when you get out of college, "You got a skill but try getting a good paying job, try getting affordable housing, try getting affordable health insurance, try getting anything that your forebearers were able to get." You know what you're doing? I'm talking to young people in the audience, you're the first generation that's ever polled and said they aren't going to be as well off as their parents.
And the indicators are all coming down. More and more, millions of Americans, not making a living wage, not even close. Wal-Mart wages. K-Mart wages. Millions and millions of people who have to get sick or become sicker or even die because they can't afford health insurance. Just think of that.
This is the richest country in the world and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science, just to give you a fact, says 18,000 people a year in this country die because they can't afford health insurance. That's six 9-11s. Washington turned the country upside down after . . . 9-11. In a lot of bad ways, as we know. They don't turn the country upside down for 58,000 people who die every year from work-related diseases in the mines and foundries. They don't turn the company upside down for 65,000 Americans who die from asphyxiation or cancer due to air pollution. They don't turn the country upside down for the 100,000 people who die from medical negligence and malpractice in hospitals.
They don't turn the country upside down for any form of violence -- however preventable it is -- if it's source is corporate crime, corporate negligence, corporate greed and corporate power.
You know some people ask me this around the country, "Nader, what are you doing this for? What do you expect to achieve?" Well look at what we've achieved tonight. You have seen the young leaders of the future on this stage. You have seen not only veteran advocates like Cindy Sheehan, you've seen Ashley Sanders. You've seen Rosa Clemente. You have seen Nellie McKay. You've seen someone you're going to hear a lot more of in the next few months, you've seen Rev. J Wait and see. He's only 21-years old and he's breaking away from this notion that although many of us have always hoped there would be an African-American ascended to the presidency of the United States. He's saying something more than that. He's saying that's not enough, that may be an unprecedented career move into the White House but it's got to mean more than that, it's got to mean standing up to the corporate subjugation of the American people. It's got to mean pushing forward a war against poverty. It's got to mean coming from your background, something more than if it were just a White man or White woman in the White House, it's got to mean a peculiarly insistent sensitivity to the bottom 100 million Americans in this country who are at the bottom of the income scale: African-Americans, poor Whites, Latinos who do the most dangerous work, who do the most dangerous work for us, who do the most thankless work for us, who raise our children, take care of our children, be with our ailing parents, harvest our food, service us in all kinds of ways while they're underpaid and overcharged, while they're excluded. While they're disrespected. While their marginalized. And the only time they're held up before the country is when they ask them to go overseas and fight our criminal wars for us.
And we're stopping there to note Hispanic Business trumpets today that the US army has launched its "Leaders Among Us" tour in Illinois after having been through San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, NYC, Miami and Puerto Rico. Just reruns the press release as though it were a good thing. "Leaders Among Us" is a recruitment effort -- long on rah-rah, short on facts. Natalia Montemaor (The Ranger) told the sad, sad tale of the efforts in San Antonio and how everyone was just so mean to the ROTC. ROTC instructor Micheal Trujillo didn't conform to the rules and wants to whine about the unfairness of it all. Why can't he just he make his own dates for events? And what happened to the $300 he was promised by someone -- he doesn't say who -- that his field trip to the Bataan Death March cost. "Those funds were not promised through the office of student life," said its director Jorge Posadas. But it's a conspiracy by the well funded counter-recruitment forces who are bankrolled in the millions by the US government while the US army must depend on the donations of individuals and is not on the tax payer payroll -- oh, wait, it's the other way around. Someone explain it to the ROTC.
From the recruiting tricks to its outcome: violence in Iraq.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed 1 life and left another person wounded.
Rueters notes police shot dead 1 person in Tal Afar that they suspected was a bomber.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "A Coalition force Soldier died in a non-combat related incident Aug. 28 while conducting operations in Ninewa." The number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at 4150 and, for the month, at 22.
It's Friday, very little violence gets reported. So who's going to end the illegal war? Not Barack Obama. But he's going to rip off the film The American President, as Delilah Boyd (A Scrivener's Lament) makes clear. Next up, Barack pretends he's Harrison Ford in Air Force One. Jeremy Lott (Guardian of London) observes of the speech in front of the mock Pagan Temple, "It was made-for-cable catnip. Obama looked at the last four years and yelled 'Enough!' He promised to end the war in Iraq but to do so 'reasonably.' . . . Obama prissily informed us that he's 'ready to have' that debate about all this. With all due respect, no he's not." Lott notes the usual MSNBC male orgy for Barack. Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) reports that Olberman's yet again on attack, "So the liberal Olbermann was outraged that the AP's Babington had written, in his analysis of the speech, just off the wire, that Obama had tried nothing new and that his speech was lacking in specifics. He read the first few paragraphs on the air, lamented that it would be printed in hundred of newspapers on Friday, and concluded, 'It is analysis that strikes me as having borne no resemblance to the speech you and I just watched. None whatsoever. And for it to be distributed by the lone national news organization in terms of wire copy to newspapers around the country and web sites is a remarkable failure of that news organization. Charles Babington, find a new line of work." Babington (whom I know) is not light with the facts. His work can strike some as 'boring' because he does not play the drama game in his copy but sticks to the basics: Who, what, where when. Babington has a long resume filled with many accomplishments. Olbermann? He's got a mike to yell into as he stars in a low rated, basic cable yuck-fest. The telling part of Olbermann's comments can probably be found when he whines that Babington's reporting will be in "newspapers around the country and web sites".
John McCain's showed no more indication of ending the Iraq War than has Barack Obama. And no doubt Keith will be spewing his usual sexism tonight at the McCain campaign because today McCain announced his running mate: Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva and the Los Angeles Times Michael Finnegan pretty much write the same exact story except Silva's obsessed with one beauty pageant and, in fairness, neither writer wrote a story -- the Obama campaign did. It's the Obama camp's narrative in both: She's inexperienced!
Seems Sarah Palin's crime is daring to go for the vice presidency with a little less than two years of being the governor of Alaska. But, Team Obama insists, you can declare the presidency with less than three years. Unlike Obama, Palin has an actual resume -- one that the press tries to trivialize -- which includes having been elected mayor and having been elected to city council twice. She and her husband Todd are also the parents of five children. Palin's not pro-abortion, she's not pro anything for the left. She also isn't someone who deserves to be derided as "beauty queen" or mocked for her gender which has already become all the rage online since the surprise announcement today. Klownhaus notes, "Sarah Palin is young and telegenic, and any attack on her lack of experience opens up the GOP counter-punch of attacking Uh-bama's lack of experience. When the He-Man Woman Haters Club launches misogynistic attacks on Palin (and they have already begun) it puts the GOP in the position of supporting and defending women." It's noted that her oldest son will deploy to Iraq shortly.
Geo Beach (Christian Science Monitor) observes:
McCain gets a running mate who is young (diminishing the perceived negative of his age), female (snookering Obama for Hillary's hold-outs), executive (to his legislative) and most important, both by her deserved reputation and by the impact of the choice itself, re-establishes McCain's eroded credentials as a genuine maverick candidate. That appeals to the middle voters who will decide the election.
Plus, McCain's choice of Palin achieves what McCain himself can never do -- it took the words right out of Obama's mouth.
The acceptance speech that was so essential to Obama has been filed in the dusty back drawers of political history, as if the text had never been given voice. Media are addicted to the new and the now, and now the Labor Day Weekend will be all I Dream Of Sarah and no echoes of I Had A Dream. Magic.
The McCain team's Matt Lira blogs of Palin:
Governor Palin is a tough executive who has demonstrated during her time in office that she is ready to be president. She has brought Republicans and Democrats together within her Administration and has a record of delivering on the change and reform that we need in Washington. Governor Palin has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources. She leads a state that matters to every one of us -- Alaska has significant energy resources and she has been a leader in the fight to make America energy independent. In Alaska, Governor Palin challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill. She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending. She put a stop to the "bridge to nowhere" that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars. As the head of Alaska's National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops. Governor Palin has the record of reform and bipartisanship that others can only speak of. Her experience in shaking up the status quo is exactly what is needed in Washington today.
A number of female 'leaders' have taken to trying to forcibly escort women onto the Barack bus (the one that they were previously thrown under) and they love to make statements, "Well, like Hillary asked, were you in it just for her?" It's time for those same 'leaders' to prove whether they are in it for women or just the Democratic Party? Sarah Palin becomes the second woman to run for the vice presidency on a ticket of one of the two-major parties. Are they going to demand that she be treated with the same respect/tone a male running would be? Or are they just going to stay silent? Put up or shut up. Feminist Wire posts two items today -- neither noting Palin's nomination. Do they needed to be reminded of their tax free status? Or do they need to lose it? That really needs to be explored since their tax status forbids them from endorsing but Feminist Wire likes to 'fact check' McCain's statements while just reposting Barack's without any 'checking.' Today a woman was named to be the running mate of the GOP presumed nominee and Feminist Wire couldn't find a thing worth noting?
Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for the vice-presidency from one of the country's two largest political parties. could note Palin's significance. Kristine Johnson (CBS) quotes Ferraro declaring today, "I've spent a lot of time over the last 24 years saying, 'Gosh, I wish I weren't the only one.' So I welcome seeing a woman on the ticket. . . . The potential for a woman to be vice president will really make a difference for girls in this country." NOW on PBS notes that they interviewed Palin for a broadcast earlier this month "about her efforts to clean up corruption in her home state." But Feminist Wire? Nothing.
Which is indicative of the 'coverage' they've given Cynthia McKinney for her presidential run. McKinney is the Green Party nominee and Rosa Clemente is her running mate. Does Feminist Wire really think that one brief, on July 14th, cuts it as 'coverage' of McKinney's run? And then later they wonder why Ms. is falsely seen as "White, White, White" and when Ms. is seen that way, feminism gets seen that way. Feminist Wire exists on the Feminist Majority Foundation's tax-free status -- as does Ms. these days -- and they are forbidden from endorsing candidates. So it's about damn time they started offering coverage for all the candidates -- and there's never a need for a feminist publication to explain why they cover female candidates. (Though there is a need for Ms. and Femnist Wire to explain why they failed to call out the attacks on Hillary.)
The Green Party of Michigan notes Cynthia will be campaigning in Michagan August 30th through September 1st. She's working the holiday. Maybe Feminist Wire could do the same? Saturday night (7:00 pm) she'll be speaking at the International Institute in Detroit at a press conference with a rally immediately after (7:30). Sunday, Cynthia will appear at the National Welfare Rights Union Awards Dinner where she will deliver a speech on poverty. Monday, Cynthia will be standing shoulder to shoulder with union members as they march down Woodward Avenue in Detroit to mark the historic workers struggle in this country that produced the 40-hour work week, that produced a respect for the workers in this country and that produced the Labor Day holiday (among many other things).
Meanwhile, China scores big! Erica Goode and Riyadh Mohammed (New York Times) announce that China National Petroleum signed a contract with the puppet government in Baghdad. With the DNC speeches this week repeatedly hitting on the borrowing from China, that will probably not go over well in this country. Some examples:Mark Warner: "Two wars, a warming planet, an energy policy that says let's borrow money from China to buy oil from countries that don't like us. "Al Gore: "As I have said for many years throughout this land, we're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization."Hillary Clinton: "The biggest deficit in our nation's history. Money borrowed from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis."
Ava and I cover the DNC convention Sunday at Third. Ralph Nader's Super Rally took place in Denver and, with little media attention, Team Nader turned out a large crowd of 4,000. As the huge crowd gathered and the event geared up Wednesday, Jesse A. Hamilton (Hartford Courant) reported that Sean Penn had spoken and notes "major cheers" for Nader's "amnesty talk for non-violent drug offenders" and quotes Nader stating: "Every politician I've ever known from the major parties . . . starts flattering the people. Oh, how they flatter the people! Because that's what gives the people weak knees. . . . Read the grim lesson of history, here and abroad. When people do not turn on to politics, politics will turn on them." Not noted is that Ralph noted the historical importance of the week (19th Amendment enacted). Something that Barack skipped out on but no one's supposed to notice that. Team Nader notes:
What a wild last 24 hours.
With the help of more than a hundred Colorado volunteers and our best roadtrippers we worked day and night to pack 4,000 people into the University of Denver's Magness Arena.
(As usual, this was done with zero help from the Denver media. For example, not a mention all week in the Denver Post, the city's largest newspaper, before or after the event.)
Now we're re-focusing and gearing up for the RNC.
I just flew into Minneapolis and we need your help to fill thousands of seats for our September 4th rally at Orchestra Hall.
Right now nearly a dozen Nader's Raiders are driving across the country in three large vehicles armed with sandwich boards, our two large inflatable props, and boxes of promotional material.
Before they can join us in Minneapolis, they have to make an emergency stop in Wisconsin where we need 3,000 more signatures over Labor Day weekend or we won't make the ballot.
It's just that simple.
Before we can crank up the energy this week in Minneapolis, we need you to donate right now to help us fuel our roadtrip team through the cornfields of Iowa to the dairy lands of Wisconsin.
A donation of $10 helps provide a roadtripper a hearty and (as Ralph would say) nutritious meal.
A donation of $50 helps put a roof over their heads.
A donation of $100 helps outfit our roadtrippers in the new Buffalo Nader '08 t-shirts like you see our team wearing in this photo.
To meet our most recent fundraising goal, we've got to raise more than $70,000 more on our way to $100,000 in less than one week.
Please give whatever you can, to help us knock out Wisconsin fast so we can hit the streets this week at the RNC and demand that McCain invite Nader/Gonzalez into the presidential debates.
And remember, if you give $100 or more now, we'll send you three DVDs -- the Denver rally, the Minneapolis rally, and a special debate DVD. (Three DVD offer ends September 4 at 11:59 p.m.)
Onward to November
Tonight and over the weekend on PBS (check local listings) NOW on PBS (debuts Friday night in most markets) explores affirmative action and state-ballot measures attempting to overturn it. Katty van van sits down for a chat and chew with Bill Moyers -- hope he brings the oats and remember to keep the kids out of the room. Cat Radio Cafe does not air on WBAI Monday (fundraising) but The Next Hour features Michael Heller, Harvey Shapiro and John Taggart on the topic of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Goerge Oppen broadcasting from eleven to noon Sunday on WBAI. And iIndependent journalist David Bacon's latest book officially is released next week, Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). (Some bookstores already have it in stock currently -- and you can order at the link if you order online.)
Finally. The 'peace' organization passes on e-mails. A number of visitors and members have e-mailed to explain that they complained about what went down and their 'reward' was to have their e-mails passed on. They end up getting the Gutter Trash's stark raving partner screaming at them in e-mails. Well, we know they have no ethics. Until Third on Sunday, that's all I plan to say. We will address it there and some community sites will address it now. Visitors also e-mail to ask that it be passed on: Don't bother posting to Gutter Trash''s blog. She will not allow you statement to go up. Of course not, she can't play victim and get her small posse to lie with her by allowing outside voices. Best visitor e-mail runs in Polly's Brew (with sender's permission) this Sunday -- it's a Canadian who's had it with the "pushy American" who is "as phoney as Madonna's British accent." We're done promoting the organization. There were questions about that in e-mails. They've been pulled from the links and I'm weighing whether or not to pull their chapters from the links. We were not speaking of Courage to Resist, for visitors who e-mailed asking about that. Courage to Resist is a real organization and remains linked at this site. I've passed on the e-mail to Mike (I've never read Gutter Trash's site) that asks if he gave permission for his e-mail to be posted (Gutter Trash apparently claims to be concerned about "niceness" in reposting people's e-mails). No, he did not. He will address that at his site tonight as well as what Gutter Trash leaves out.
the new york timeserica gooderiyadh mohammed
now on pbs
bill moyers journal