Still Calling



When I was a 14 year old kid at my first restaurant job (this was back in summer of 85) I was shooting off my mouth at work, and made some stupid remark about fags and dykes (it was the 1980s, shit was different then. Also, I was stupid and 14). This crazy hot waitress…

See you in the funny pages

A long long LONG time ago, I used to amuse (some might argue “abuse”) my readers with long, critical essays about various comic strips, with specific bile reserved for “For Better or For Worse”, and a lot of humor at the expense of Mary Worth, Luann, Arlo and Janis, and of course, Ziggy. When you’re…


After months -years, really- of dithering and delaying, I have some big news (or not so big for some of you). Last week, I finally sold my house in southwest Philadelphia, and by April 25, I’ll be settling into Nashville TN. It’s been a long time coming.

The next couple of weeks are going to be busy busy busy, starting today. As a bona fide poor person, I have LITERALLY been wearing holes in my shoes… or at least my socks. As soon as I get showered, I’m heading down to Marshall’s (unofficial motto, “New clothes at thrift store prices”) and picking up more socks and boxer shorts than you can imagine, as well as a few pairs of pants and jeans. I have to start shopping for a car. I have to start prioritizing what I’m bringing down and what I’m NOT bringing down. I need to find a home for one of my cats. I need to line up summer camp for my son, probably in two states since we’ll be in Philadelphia for a couple of weeks.

None of this gets done with me sitting in front of my computer all day…

More Deep Thoughts…

Life is strange. That is all. You really never know how anything is going to turn out. I met up with an old classmate last night here in New Orleans, and we caught up with each other’s lives. Like me, he’s found himself walking away from the day-to-day: after hiking the Appalachian Trail, he came…


“Daddy… what does ‘regret’ mean?”

“Well son, a funny thing about regret is that it’s better to regret something you HAVE done then to regret something you HAVEN’T done.”


I feel like I should be writing, but there’s really nothing I feel like writing about in general, and those specific topics where I DO want to write a bit are probably a bit more personal in nature.

A Dear John (Kasich) Letter

Dear John,

I recently read that you are frustrated with the current GOP candidates for president, and wondered “What has happened the conservative movement?”

“I’ve about had it with these people,” Kasich said at the rally in Westerville, Ohio. “We got one candidate that says we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare. You ever heard of anything so crazy as that? Telling our people in this country who are seniors, who are about to be seniors that we’re going to abolish Medicaid and Medicare?”

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has acknowledged that he would like to gut Medicare.
Kasich went on, saying, “We got one person saying we ought to have a 10 percent flat tax that will drive up the deficit in this country by trillions of dollars” and there’s another challenger in the field who “says we ought to take 10 or 11 [million] people and pick them up — I don’t know where we’re going to go, their homes, their apartments — we’re going to pick them up and scream at them to get out of our country. That’s crazy. That is just crazy.”

I gather that you’re not one for introspection, so I have decided to help out. Bottom line, it all comes down to what Booman says: “The answer is the Republicans are like the boy who cried wolf. Their base doesn’t believe in them anymore. They were too full of shit for too long.” But that’s probably a little too simple, too glib, so I’d like to offer some concrete examples of where the wheels really began to come off the jalopy.

Really, the first clear missteps were allying the party with the entrenched segregationists of the old Democratic Party, pursuing the so-called “southern strategy” of race-baiting, and tying yourself to the social conservatives. Now, I’d like to call your attention, dear John, to more recent decisions by your party.

To my mind, the first really big mistake you made, as a party, was to pursue the scorched earth policies of the Gingrich Reviolution, As you may recall, one of your party’s major tactics at that time was to demonize your opposition:

Gingrich literally created the vocabulary of modern conservatism. During the 1980s, he hired marketing professionals to identify issues, “65 percenters,” that would resonate with a majority of the public. He then turned to a political action committee, GOPAC, to create tapes that were distributed to aspiring Republican candidates. The tapes developed a vocabulary of positive words (magnets) to use to describe Republican initiatives — liberty, freedom, truth, opportunity — while using “bad” words (wedges) to label the Democrats — decay, corrupt, permissive, and pathetic. The tapes taught an entire generation of young, combative Republicans to speak “Gingrich.”

John, that should ring a bell. You were no small part of that Revolution.

I’m old enough to remember when Democrats and Republicans didn’t hate each other, they just disagreed on a number of issues. There was room for give and take, for compromise. Gingrich -and your party- worked hard to end that, ensuring that there could be no agreement between the country’s two largest parties about anything. The party’s big strategist in the early 21st Century, Karl Rove, continued your friend Newt’s revolution, going into overdrive after 9/11. Liberals and Democrats were accused of “hating America” and not being sufficiently patriotic. Here’s a member of your party’s unofficial media arm giving a classic example of this kind of rhetoric.

So that, IMO, is the first big problem: you made your base of voters -what remains of them anyway- see the Democratic party and liberals as a mortal threat to opur nation’s survival. You can’t work across the aisle with people who want destroy America, amirite?

The next big mistake, as Booman points out, is that for years your party has sold the base nothing but bullshit. How long has the Party promised to end abortion and defund Planned Parenthood, only to do a U-turn at the last minute? Remember when your party was insisting that Obamacare would lead to death panels, job losses, and that it must be repealed; and that same sex marriage would lead to people marrying box turtles… only to back away and say “we have to follow the law” when the SCOTUS upheld it?

“The fact is we are far better off to get away from the lawyering part of this and focus on whether or not it is a good law and doing what it should do,” said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and a 2012 GOP presidential candidate.

“The whole thing was drifting toward chaos,” he said.

The opposite outcome, he said, would have expelled millions of American from the program and been a “mess.”

Ari Fleischer, press secretary in George W. Bush’s administration, said the GOP “dodged a demagogical bullet that would have hurt the party and impacted its ability to ever repeal the law,” particularly since Obama can wield a veto pen until 2017.

When you’ve told your supporters that the Affordable Care Act would lead to the end of America as we know it, and then turn on a dime and say it’s time to let the law play out, you are giving them some MAJOR cognitive dissonance. So you lost their trust, especially when the Party elevated a telegenic dunce like Sarah Palin to the national stage, and then publicly dropped her like a flaming bag of dogshit.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that your base is flocking to an outsider who really DOES want to repeal Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare.

Another good example of this is the now-annual debt ceiling fight, in which your party and your party alone, has deliberately misrepresented the debt ceiling hike as irresponsible spending, when really it’s paying the debts the country has already incurred. That’s been a BIG problem for your party, because (as you surely know) failure to lift the ceiling would mean the US defaulting on our debts and causing a global economic meltdown (remember when our stellar credit got downgraded? That’s because of YOUR party). And so what has had to happen is that the sane and knowledgable Republicans (I won’t refer to them as moderate, there are no more of them in your ranks) have had to join forces with the Democrats, those America-hating liberal, baby-killing enemies of America (™), to pay our bills. Quite a situation: your party has convinced your base the Democrats want to destroy America, and they see you guys collaborating with them!

What about the immigrants, specifically the Spanish-speaking ones? Your party presents them as a threat to our society, promising to build a wall to keep them out, while at the same time trying to attract their votes by putting brown-skinned lightweights like Marco Rubio up as presidential material or getting Jeb to mumble algunas palabras en Español.. Wonder where Trump got his ideas, John? Here’s Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona:

Do you have any idea how that looks to the low-information voters that make up the majority of both parties? You keep promising things you can never deliver, and then you work with the Democrats to deliver the very things you say you must stop!

And that brings us, finally, to Citizens United, the court decision your party celebrated in 2010. For most of America’s history, fringe people like Ben Carson or Donald Trump or Mike Huckabee (most recently seen with his head stuck in a bucket of molasses, and no I don’t care if it IS an Onion article) or any of the rest pushed out by the party leaders who typically decided who’s going to run and who isn’t. But thanks to Citizens United, which again your party championed and fought for, none of these dingalings are going anywhere so long as they have the kind of sugar daddy Citizens United makes possible.

And so, much to your chagrin, Trump will continue to say “we ought to take 10 or 11 [million] people and pick them up …and scream at them to get out of our country” and Carson will continue to insist that “we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare” and there is nothing at all you can do about it.

So, there’s your answer John. Your party has spent decades demonizing the people you’re expected to work with, together, to solve the nation’s problems and keep things running, while feeding your base a platter of bullshit promises that will never be realized, while working openly with those self-same Democratic “enemies of the state” to pass legislation you promised never to pass, while giving incredibly rich people who have no actual experience in the machinery of national politics the freedom to fund whatever vanity candidate they like, at whatever funding level they like.

I’m sorry I had to break it to you this way. They’re just not that into you anymore. As the song says, “Will you please send back my picture, my husband wants it now/When I tell you who I’m wedding, you won’t care, dear, anyhow/Now the ceremony has started and I’ll wed your brother Don/Will you wish us happiness forever, Dear John.”

Brendan Skwire

PS: Telling your base, the folks who made came up with that awful picture of you above, that you think they’re a bunch of idiots probably isn’t the best strategy. Just sayin’.