From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…
MinistryOfTruth Re-Occupies C&J
Mild-mannered New York blogger Jesse LaGreca---aka Daily Kos Recommended-List stalwart MinistryOfTruth---has become one of the most familiar faces of the Occupy Wall Street movement. With his burly frame, husky voice and tough, plainspoken style, he comes off as the very antithesis of the stereotypical "dirty fucking hippie." He's Joe Sixpack in a kepi, and the media are smitten.
Jesse's recent rise to fame started when he went nose-to-nose with a Fox News reporter, took off when Jon Stewart gushed, "Motherfucker brought game!" and achieved cruising altitude yesterday when he schooled George Will like a pro on This Week. No wonder the New York Observer wondered aloud of he's The Smartest Man on Wall Street?
In April of last year, sensing that Jessementum! was a mere 17 months away, I interviewed LaGreca, 31. Who is this rascally rapscallion, really? What was it like wanting to be like Jesse LaGreca before wanting to be like Jesse LaGreca was cool? And why did he admit to once being inspired by Dick Cheney's mom? Come...peer through the window into his soul in this classic installment of C&J's interview series, Yes, We're All Staring at YOU!
Cheers and Jeers: How long have you been blogging and what originally brought you to Daily Kos?
Jesse LaGreca/MinistryOfTruth: I stumbled on DKos while Googling Obama/McCain in the spring of 2008. I enjoyed watching the daily debunking of the lies coming out of the McCain camp. I lurked quietly until after Obama won the election, at which time I made a bonfire of all my Bush/Cheney voodoo dolls. At the end of the burning I discovered that I had mysteriously acquired a username at DailyKos and a tattoo that says "Chill out, I got this." Surprisingly, someone drank all of my absinthe that same night.
How did you arrive at your user name which, taking a stab in the dark here, is a reference to the famous Ministry from Orwell's 1984?
During the 2008 election some Conservative hacks set up a war room outside of the Democratic Convention in Denver where they planned a 'Spin Zone.' "Just consider this the Ministry of Truth," quipped Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Upon hearing that I thought to myself, 'Wouldn't it be great if the left had a MinistryOfTruth that actually told the truth?' So that inspired it, and Dick Cheney's mother.
What kind of music makes you feel invincible to the GOP horde?
The Beatles, The Doors, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, and classical. Really, everything but Disco, Country and Marilyn Manson. Every time I listen to classical music I think of how beautiful it is, and then I think of how Dick Cheney can sense that beauty from a distance with the force of the Dark Side and it gives him a migraine. That makes me smile.
Thought experiment: If John McCain had won in '08, what do you think would be his signature accomplishments after 15 months in office?
War with Iran. He would have declared mission accomplished back in February of '09 and he'd be planning the first surge right around now. It fits in with the Neocon plan for war, which is "Bomb first, surge second, plan later." That and tax cuts for the rich.
What's the one book every Kossack must read?
I am partial to Orwell's 1984, but right now I'm reading "The Conscience of a Liberal" by Paul Krugman, and it is outstandingly detailed and full of history that the Texas Board of Education would love to stuff down the national memory hole. A must read, by all accounts.
You're consistently on the Recommended Diaries list. What advice do you have for people who want to see their work at the top of the Dkos "virtual flagpole"?
Keep writing. Write on a daily basis. As you build up name recognition you will improve your writing skills and you'll build more of a following. I find that certain things help a diary become more enjoyable: videos with transcripts, pics, calls to action, etc. Sometimes you just hit the right story for the day, some topic everyone is focused on tends to get more attention than others, given the political climate. If you're persistent you'll get better, you will get more readers, and eventually the rec list shall be yours.
Finish this sentence: In the kitchen I make a mean...
Everything. I used to manage restaurants in NYC, and there is nothing sexier than a man who knows how to cook. Yesterday I made fiata, which is an Italian breakfast made of leftover pasta, cheese, eggs and sauce, fried like a big omelet. It's like soul food for Italians, but I'm not Italian.
No waffling here: dogs or cats?
Can I has both? I suppose I would have to take dogs over cats for a few reasons: you can't go hunting with a cat and cats make crappy home guardians---I mean if you had five guard cats and your home got robbed, what are the chances that they would wake up without the sound of an electric can opener going off? I love pooties and don't want to dump on them, but if it comes down to being saved by either Lassie or Garfield I think I know who I'll take my chances with.
Thanks for this opportunity, Bill, and thanks to the whole Cheers & Jeers crowd! Peace to all.
Follow Jesse on The Twitter at @JesseLaGreca. He encourages donations to the Occupy Wall Street media fund.
Meanwhile, Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
Cheers and Jeers for Monday, October 10, 2011
Note: If you're having trouble reading C&J, please remove your Bose noise-canceling headphones. If that doesn't work, sue us.
By the Numbers:
Days 'til the Iowa Caucus (for now, anyway): 85
Days `til the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival in Niceville, Florida: 11
Percent of the jobs created in Rick Perry's Texas since 2007 that went to newly-arrived immigrants, half of whom were/are in the country illegally: 80%
Percent chance that employment among native-born Texans actually went down during the same period: 100%
(Source: Center for Immigration Studies via The Week)
Percent of cellphone users who say they've pretended to be talking on them to avoid other people: 13%
Amount raised so far for progressive political candidates and causes via ActBlue: $200 million
Record high temperature in Portland, Maine yesterday: 85°
NE Patriots 30 NY Jets 21
Puppy Pic of the Day: At the onset of [Coonhound Paralysis], dogs can only blink and swallow…
CHEERS to the great American melting pot. Late last week, the editorial board of Maine's largest newspaper, The Portland Press Herald, gave an unnecessarily snotty and condescending thumbs-down to the "Occupy" movement, including the protesters here in Maine. (The CliffsNotes summary: "C'mon, silly kids---go back to slacking and let the sensible adults deal with our problems.") But yesterday, wonder of wonders, they published a great AP story on Page A-1 above the fold, with a conclusion that sharply contradicts the editorial board's. Namely, it's a family thing:
As the protests have expanded and gained support from new sources, what began three weeks ago as a group of mostly young people camping out on the streets has morphed into something different: an umbrella movement for people of varying ages, life situations and grievances, some of them first-time protesters. […]
"Most people think this is a bunch of idealistic young kids," said Heather Gautney, a sociology professor at Fordham University and an analyst of social protests. "But the wider movement is remarkably more diverse than it's been portrayed. I've seen a lot of first-time protesters, nurses, librarians. At one protest, the younger element seemed actually to be in the minority."
The young blue hairs are marching side-by-side with the old blue hairs. Mark that down as reason #122 why this ain't no tea party. Oh, and reason #123, if you're curious: we don’t need no stinkin' guns strapped to our ankles.
JEERS to irrational exuberance. I found more proof that nobody knows anything most of the time, after tripping over a couple news items while going through the giant throbbing C&J archive. First this from a Democratic huddle-up with House Democrats last January:
Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) predicted that having President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket would be "enormously" helpful to Democrats next year, and Assistant Leader James Clyburn said the landscape would be more favorable for Democrats than it was in November. The South Carolina Democrat said that he has reviewed polling and other electoral data district by district and that he sees "a tremendous pathway" for success in 2012.
Republicans certainly have done themselves no favors, but that kind of confidence on our part is just crazy. And then there's this from late February:
The Fed estimates that the nation's gross domestic product will rise between 3.4% to 3.9% in 2011, up from its November estimate of an increase of 3.0% to 3.6%. … Fed members said the economic recovery is "on a firmer footing" and they expressed greater confidence that the recovery would be "sustained" and "gradually strengthen over coming quarters."
I believe we're on track to wrap up the year around 1.5 percent if we all clap really loud and wish upon lots of stars and leave enough Krugerrands under our pillows for the Confidence Fairy. So the next time you hear what sounds like an overly sunny (or, for that matter, gloomy) prediction, file it in the drawer marked, "I'll believe it when I see it." You'll save more of your hair that way.
CHEERS to drama on the mound. 43 ago today, game seven of the 1968 World Series pitted two ace pitchers---Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers and Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals---against each other. The Tigers won, and Lolich was named MVP. Will the same teams face each other again this year? Stay tuned. Two dogs and a beer, please.
Gong! Gong!! BuddaBuddaBudda… GONG!!!
This is another edition of The One Word Answer Man. At a just-concluded Yale University conference, some of the most brilliant scientific and theological minds in the world asked: Why is there anything in the universe?
Now back to Cheers and Jeers.
Gong! Gong!! BuddaBuddaBudda… GONG!!!
JEERS to one gullible gaggle. On October 10, 2002, Congress said "Okely Dokely!" by a 296-133 margin to letting President Bush go to war against Iraq without actually, y'know, declaring war. I can hit the highlights from memory without going anywhere near the Google:
Smoking gun/mushroom cloud, yellowcake from Niger (not), Shock and Awe, Baghdad Bob declares victory over USA, Saddam statue pulled down and beaten with shoes, American mercenaries slaughtered in Fallujah, war will be over "in weeks," it'll cost only $1.7 billion, looting is OK because "free people are free to do what they want," Viceroy Bremer disbands Iraqi military, U.N. building blown up, body and vehicle armor inadequate, Saddam found in spider hole, Sunni vs. Shia, Sunni and Shia vs. Christians, WMDs will be found in "north, east, west and south somewhat," suicide bombs explode morning noon and night, Abu Ghraib, Saddam's hanging caught on phone-cams, where are the WMDs?, al Qaeda recruitment skyrockets, "You go to war with the army you have not the army you wish to have," stunning incompetence among U.S. civilian leadership, insurgency "is (not) in its last throes," casualty rate among troops and civilians appallingly high, no-bid contracts to Bush-Cheney cronies, spotty electricity and raw sewage, no sweets and flowers, the surge calms Anbar Province, faulty wiring electrocutes troops in showers, 26 additional reasons given by neocons for starting the war when no WMDs can be found, Bush dodges thrown shoes, Obama supervises drawdown as $2 trillion gets plunked on America's credit card. Tea Party shrugs.
And the biggest cheerleaders of the war say they'd do it all over again. But they have a good reason: they're idiots.
CHEERS to seeing the light. Did you catch any of the conservative Values Voters Summit, which was held in "God's breadbasket of the heartland" (aka the "Real America") known as, um, Washington, D.C.? Ron Paul won the straw poll, for what it's worth. But I admit I was surprised to read that conservatives actually---and this is true, not snark---went all-in for gay marriage. Yes! They're wholeheartedly in favor of it and they plan to make it legal. In Great Britain. Over here their best and brightest are still working feverishly on an advanced conservative-funded medical solution to prevent gay-marriage. Thankfully all they've managed to do so far is confuse the leeches.
JEERS to the original nattering nabob of negativism. On October 10, 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace after being charged with tax evasion. Poor guy was ahead of his time. Thirty-eight years later tax evasion is the biggest plank in the Republican platform.
P.S. I was going to make a plea that someone revive this anti-Agnew TV ad and apply it to all the Republicans running for Congress and the White House. But then it dawned on me that there'd be so many names onscreen that no one would be able to read such a tiny font size. So never mind.
Five years ago in C&J: October 10, 2006
CHEERS to the vengeful God's shrinking base. Apparently, teenagers being raised in conservative evangelical families are giving in to the evils of reality and tolerance, and ditching their churches "in droves." What's the old Gandhi saying about strict authoritarianism..."the tighter you squeeze, the more they'll slip through your fingers?" Or was it Princess Leia?
And just one more…
CHEERS to the sail of the century. In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two, Whatzisface sailed the ocean blue (back before we turned it a gray-ish beige and built our magnificent garbage islands). The pleasantness of the voyage depended on which ship you were on:
The Nina The discount vessel. A whopping 50-feet long, the Nina was a floating pigsty. If the salted-pork buffet didn’t kill ya, the drink prices would. Evening entertainment was limited to games of "Clutch your crucifix for dear life" and "Find the Peso in the piss bucket." First class accommodations consisted of sitting anywhere upwind from the crew. And the sails? Ladies' bloomers.
The Pinta The "family" vessel. Parents (aka "guests") spend some quiet time suckin' down glasses of sherry while their children cavort with "cast members" decked out in animal skins and given comical names like "Luigi Llama" and "Miguel Mule." Unfortunately the sherry ran out on day two and the skins had to be tossed overboard on day three because of the stench. After that, entertainment was pretty much limited to games of "Clutch your crucifix for dear life" and "Find the Peso in the piss bucket."
The Santa Maria The party boat. Chocolate fountains, roaring casino, crystal chandeliers, disco ballroom, laser light shows and clothing's optional, baby! If this boat's a' rockin'...yadda yadda yadda. Other than that, not much is known about the flagship, thanks to Columbus's one and only on-board rule: What happens on the Santa Maria stays on the Santa Maria. Unfortunately, the one exception to the rule turned out to be syphillis.
Anyway. There's your annual Columbus Day history lesson, courtesy of the BiPM Institute for the Advancement of Made-up Stuff. And now a public service message: There's no mail today. And therefore no bills. Thank ya, Chris.
Have a nice Monday. Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?
Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:
"By God's blessing, we have not been hit by a Muslim attack since 9/11. I suggest that in part, we have Bill in Portland Maine to thank."