Why Does Everything Have to Be So Complicated?

There are a whole lot of things to talk about. Who is ready? Anyone?





BREAKING: A 16-year-old African American boy in Philadelphia had to have surgery because a cop grabbed his testicles and literally “tore them off” during a stop-and-frisk pat down. The incidence of police brutality is out of control. THIS MUST STOP.

Reflection on MLK Day: From 12 Years a Slave to Trayvon Martin

Photo by ANSWER Coalition Photo by ANSWER Coalition

Last night, I sat at home, managing to endure the God-awful scenes from “12 YEARS A SLAVE” that showed the way Blacks were treated in the 1800s. Those slave masters were sick.

The end titles tell a partial story of what happened to protagonist Solomon Northrup after he found his way out of that hell. Apparently, no one knows what came of him. One thing is for certain. He became a strong abolitionist and a supporter of the Underground Railroad.

Another thing that’s certain is that the men who drugged him, kidnapped him and gave him into slavery were exonerated.

With those wretched images still fresh on my mind, I awoke this morning to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Civil Rights Act, which millions of people fought for and which Dr. King gave his life for, was enacted fifty years ago.

It took over a hundred years and countless lynchings, beatings, and countless other injuries before black people and their allies were able to achieve the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Today, significant portions of that Act have been gutted. Once again, many states have made it harder for black people to vote.

The outcome of the Trayvon Martin case and countless others have proven that a black teenager can be murdered with no consequences, using the same racist law that a black woman (Marissa Alexander), is not allowed to use in her defense against a man who threatens to kill her. In Marissa’s case, she didn’t even shoot the abusive husband who was threatening to kill her. She shot at the ceiling!

Meanwhile, characters who pride themselves on bigotry, parade like turkeys across television screens around the country, rousing up hatred – proclaiming that gays are beasts and black people were better off during the good ole days of Jim Crow. As long as it sells, the networks who’ve seized the airwaves for their own profit are happy to broadcast these views far and wide.

So, you have your TV clowns. But you also have those like Dr. King, who, in spite of being hounded by federal agents throughout his life, steadfastly stood by the right of all people to the basics.

Dr. King only got broadcast because he was in the streets with millions of people. Today, you might find those like him not on broadcast TV, but again, in the streets.

As Dr. King understood it, the civil rights movement and the labor movement had the same goals:

“…decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.”

In a speech to the Illinois state convention of the AFL-CIO in 1965, King went on to say:

“The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society.”  [Source: Now Is the Time. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Labor in the South: The Case for a Coalition. Booklet prepared by the Southern Labor Institute under the auspices of the Labor Subcommittee of the King Holiday Commission, designed by the AFT and printed by AFSCME. January 1986.]

Today, those same captains of industry are trying to take back what they were forced to give over. They’ve convinced some of us that it’s in our best interests to get on board with this plan.Others know better. They can’t live working full time on what they’re paid and they’re organizing for better wages and working conditions at the lowest paying jobs in the country – fast food jobs, car washes…

King’s words ring as true in 2014 as they did in 1955 during a speech he delivered at Holt Baptist Church during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“You know my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November. There comes a time.”

Will this be our time?

Martin Luther King, Jr.


I Am Bradley Manning

Today, as the trial of PFC Bradley Manning continues, I just had to post this great  I AM BRADLEY MANNING video. It’s a crying shame that a guy who reported atrocities is being accused of “aiding the enemy.” As many have said, since we, the pubic, are the ones who gained from this information, who would not have had this information but for someone such as Bradley Manning confirming it – are we the enemy?

If the top headlines of today are any indication, I would say we have cause for concern in that regard. Case in point: the FBI’s massive phone record collection that has been going on for some time now without our knowledge. Seems we are all suspects.

Then, we’ve got the administration aiding Al Qaeda in Syria and chomping at the bit to do more. Yet, they say Al Qaeda is out to get us.

Just who is the enemy here? Certainly not Bradley Manning.




Reporter Terry Camp, from the ABC news Affiliate in Flint, MIchigan, just threw vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for a loop.

There’s Ryan, responding to a reasonable question about gun violence, coming from a reporter who lives and works in the number one city for violent crime in the nation. Ryan’s rolling out all kinds of pro-people (aka voter) sounding mumbo-jumbo about “opportunity” when everyone knows he just wants to slash social services into the 19th century.

Check it out. The article I’ve attached has a written record of what he said too…just in case the video gets taken down.



Due to a major draught, the price of feed soared to the highest level on record this past August. Farmers can literally no longer afford to feed their livestock and sell it at a profit. While huge corporate distributors like Hormel and Tyson are still making a profit, many small farmers are not so lucky.

It’s not just a problem in the U.S. either. Russia, a major world producer of grain, has also been hit hard with draught. Canada leads the world in the exports of live piggies. That country’s two largest growers just went pork belly up.

In a rush to liquidate livestock in the U.S., 9.9 million hogs were hauled to the slaughter in early August – more than in any one month in history.   By the end of August, 31% more pork was produced that at the same time last year. September is also seeing record numbers. According to a whole slew of reports, this glut in “the other white meat,” is supposed to slash prices on pork products – for now.  Next year, prices are expected to skyrocket.

Bearing this in mind, folks are rushing out to stock up their freezers with bacon, ham and ye olde pork chops. if you want to join the herd, there are some good deals out there. There are also some prices that are not changing, and even going up already. My sister in Albuquerque noticed that a pound of bacon out there at local chain John Brooks went up precipitously. Not surprising maybe, since John Brooks cuts their own meat and buys locally out there.

Here in Los Angeles, Ralphs’ twelve ounce package of their Private Selection brand of Center Cut bacon is going for $3.99. Oscar Meyer’s Center Cut of the same size is $6.99. So is a package of Farmer Johns.

The pricing on Hormel is an interesting story. At Ralphs, Oscar Meyer and Farmer John were not on sale – a straight $6.99 – take it or leave it. Hormel, on the other hand, is $3.99, but it usually goes for $7.99. In fact, you can even get Hormel’s uncured bacon for the same price. Uncured usually costs more. Apparently Hormel is standing by its forecast of continued unprecedented profits in spite of the havoc in the wake of the draught. This quarter, the company enjoyed a 32% jump in operating profit due to the sale of Spam.

Smart and Final had the same pricing as Ralphs except that you can get two pounds of Farmer Johns or their First Street brand for $6.99.

Jons Market has Farmer Johns for $5.99; and, this week, they have a special (surprise!) on Farmland bacon of 2 for $6.

For my peeps around the U.S., the parent company for Ralphs is Kroger. In New Mexico it is Smiths. In other states it may be Dillons, Bakers, City Market, Fred Meyer, King Soopers and Frys to name a few of the many chains bought up by Kroger.

There you have it, folks. Make hay while the sun shines!  Later, we may all be eating Spam. 


My friend Natascha keeps insisting there are good deals at that premium natural and organic supermarket monopoly – Whole Foods. There may well be calls for my arrest if I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway – I’m not a big fan.

Call me crazy but I think it’s a bit much the way Libertarian CEO John Mackey and his team of marketeers attempt to make me feel like I’m saving the world by simply shopping there, while they’re really engaging in same old hostile acquisitions and union busting tactics as say, Wal-Mart, for example.

I find it irritating. I’ve even had self-described progressives try to make me feel guilty for shopping at Ralphs. It’s laughable really when you think of the black hat tactics Mackey engaged in to get his hands on Wild Oats, among many others. Even the Bush administration put up resistance to that merger!

But the biggest reason I seldom darken the door of that venerable retail chain is because I find their shelves to be lacking in deals. I used to get a few things here, but since the inception of the biggest economic downturn in my lifetime and possibly in history, forget it.  I’ve been far more likely to be found at the 99 (Per)Cent Store, where, in fact, they often offer great deals on organic items.

Still, Natascha knows a good deal when she sees one. The thing that finally got my attention?  She got a jar’s worth of oregano for 33 cents. That’s right, folks – 33 cents. When she mentioned this figure, I knew I would have to psyche myself up to brave the mobs of hipsters and the impossible parking lot and head on over to check out this incredible deal.

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed.

Whole Foods has a sizeable bulk section these days – noticeably larger than it was before the downturn. In this section, you can purchase all manner of dry goods. They’ve got every kind of nut, grain or bean you can think of. They’ve got dried fruits, seeds and various other snacks too. Some of it is really delectable stuff like maple coated pecans and almonds – yogurt covered papaya.

The best deal I saw on these items was on organic chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans, for $1.99 a pound.

The incredible deal is on herbs and spices for cooking. Standing in this section, I almost feel like I’m at Oleson’s Mercantile on Little House on the Prairie. The jars are all lined up so neat and pretty.

Here, I can get enough cayenne pepper to fill a typical 1.5 oz. jar for only $1.41. Can’t beat that as far as I know. I guess Whole Foods is conforming to these hard times after all – at least when it comes to spicing things up!

As a post script, please note that I’ve called around Los Angeles and found only the stores listed below as offering this stunning deal on herbs and spices in bulk. They’ve pulled the bulk spices in Torrance, A team member at the West Hollywood location is trying to get them. My advice? Call ahead. Seems like this is an experiment any store could ditch at any time. Drop a line and let me know if you find another store that offers it!


Whole Foods Market
Herbs and Spices in the Bulk Foods Section

(Website with Store Locator) 


In the wake of Monday’s NFL fiasco, a Las Vegas casino is actually offering refunds to gamblers who bet on Monday’s controversial Seahawks vs. Packers game. Derek Steven, owner of the D Las Vegas, says that the bad calls made by replacement refs that took place at the end of the game were “unacceptable,” and that refunding bettors money was the “right thing to do.”

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had this to say about the subject of the refs:

Someone made a good point this morning that maybe we shouldn’t be blaming the refs, but blaming the league, the owners, I don’t know who it is. Maybe it’s not just the officials. We’re putting them in tough situations and it can’t be easy.

Although the replacement refs are basically scabs, Roethlisberger’s comment, I think, is insightful.

And what of Scott Walker’s much touted call for the refs to return? Most accounts I’ve read are casting this as a rare alignment of Walker with organized labor, which he’s sworn to destroy. But his call for the regular refs to return does not necessarily mean he wants them to get what they are bargaining for. Most likely, he wants them to return without making any gains in their contract. Still, I suppose it can be seen a modicum of compromise on Walker’s part, since it is a lockout and not a strike.

At any rate, looks like a slew of angry cheese-heads around the country may be the deciding factor in bringing the NFL lockout to a close. Nice if they would do the same for the teachers.


Some young people are coming up with some crazy stuff to do during these hard times. Looking at my own life as well as most people I know and observe, I’ve long thought it to be a miracle that anyone in our society survives their twenties. As time passes, this survival seems to become ever more miraculous in view of the destruction of our environment, and the reduction of access to basic needs for the great majority of people.

I was at the gym this evening, tuning in to CNN as I did my cardio workout on the treadmill. That’s all they offer apart from football; so, there really is no choice.

I was actually thankful when they finally took a break from spreading lies about what is going on in Syria and turned to some sad and sordid human interest stories. These tales came in the form of Anderson Cooper’s RidiculList show.

One of the items on Cooper’s show was about butt-chugging.

Apparently, a frat house full of geniuses down at the University of Tennessee were inserting wine up their rectums when one of them ended up in the emergency room because of it. Cooper said it wasn’t the first time something like this has been reported.

It was news to me; and, once I got home, I read up on it a bit.

Sure enough, there have been some instances of this craziness reported as far back as 2007. One article I saw had a photo of a guy laying on the floor with a plastic tube apparently up his glory hole. He looks like he has lost all motor function. I spotted a comment on another site where a reader advised to “do red because white stings.”

I don’t think this practice is as common as, say, quarters was in my day, but it is certainly not unheard of – except by me, before today. Adherents claim that, unlike having a “drink,” in the traditional manner, i.e., through your mouth, this method bypasses the liver and gets you real tanked, real quick. Another benefit is that you won’t have alcohol breath.

If it suits your fancy, you can also soak a tampon in vodka and insert it into your rectum or vagina. Another attractive possibility.

Really re-defines the meaning of the phrase “social drinker,” doesn’t it? I