AK048 – Patriotic Jackpot

For a fraught Independence Day, Crawford shares the (slightly edited) thoughts of a Duke Constitutional Law professor. What fun! Hooray!

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AK-047 – Now What?

After the insanity of the election and the assault on the Capitol, American Knucklehead makes an attempt to stand back and look for an answer to the question that’s on everyone’s mind.

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AK-046 – Whose Lives Matter?

After a difficult summer in Portland, Crawford tries to make sense of the Black Lives Matter protests in town and across the country. Is there more than just racial injustice driving the movement? Plus, the first non-sarcastic American Knucklehead presidential endorsement!

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AK-045 – Postcards from the Siege

From beautiful Portland! Crawford provides a first-hand account of the Portland protests, and what it might mean for the future of America, Mom, and apple pie.

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AK-044 – The Fear

Special COVID-19 Fear and Loathing edition. Due to lockdown restrictions, I no longer have access to the standard high-tech studio. This episode comes from the basement, from right by the furnace.

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Simpsons geek. Back in ’94, an episode aired (Episode 114/2F08 “Fear of Flying”) where Homer gets booted from his favorite bar. Despondent, Lisa attempts to cheer him up by telling him that in Chinese, the same word is used for “crisis” and “opportunity” – “crisitunity.”

As of today (March 11, 2020), the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase, while the stock market continues to shit the bed. Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to act as if he were elected to be King of the Deplorables rather than President of the United States of America.

I suspect that these problems are going to get worse – maybe a LOT worse – before they get better. I am also concerned that some of the problems inherent in the American political and social fabric will compound the problem greatly. For example, the lack of decent healthcare coverage, and the lack of paid sick leave for many employees will make the virus spread wider and faster than it would where people can actually take sick time and receive medical treatment without totally screwing their budgets.

Yet, there may be some good that comes from this crisis. At least, that’s what I tell myself whenever I feel the Fear slipping up on me again. Which I do every day, now. If it weren’t for Uncle Dad’s Secret Calmative Elixir, I would have self-quarantined weeks ago.

The problem is that it takes a crisis of huge magnitude to even move the meter when it comes to addressing the problems which have seemed for year (to me, at least) to be problematic and dangerous: grossly uneven distribution of wealth and resources, a dominant political party where clinging to power trumps considerations such as truth and rule of law, an inexcusably underfunded healthcare system – particularly in rural communities.

I could go on and on, but hopefully you take the point. As I said, these problems have been glaringly obvious even to a knucklehead like me> However, there are so many powerful parties with a huge financial interest in maintaining an unsustainable status quo that real change seems impossible.

Will the massive financial and healthcare shocks that are already starting to manifest as of this writing (March 12, 2020) actually result in positive change in the long run? Lord, I hope so.

Still, being a true Murkan, I’d prefer that it’s someone else who has to bear the brunt of the suffering required to mandate such a change. Is it worth it if someone I care about loses their job, gets sick or even dies? Or maybe my number will be the next one that comes out of the hat. No way to tell, and no point in worrying about it too terribly much. (Thanks, Uncle Dad!)

Ultimately, what happens over the next several weeks and months will define the course of the country for decades to come. Will we be able to pull together and put the common good ahead of our own selfish inclinations, or will we descend to the Trumpian I-got-mine-screw-everyone-else attitude that has manifested over the last several decades.

The first attitude is American; the latter, Murkan. Ultimately, I have faith that the American spirit will prevail and that the country will emerge as stronger, safer and more equitable than it is now. I just hope that not too many people will suffer during the process.

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Provide for the Needy, Not the Greedy

Gonna keep this one relatively short (yeah, right). There’s an important story that’s gone under the radar what with all the saliva-specked media coverage of Impeachmentworld and the British royals.

The Trump administration is attempting to yank Social Security disability payments from potentially millions of recipients. This is typical of the Woofer playbook: dole out zillions of government giveaways and tax breaks to the ultra-wealth and big business, then pretend to become concerned about the deficit as an excuse to take away the benefits of needy Americans.

I wouldn’t have heard about this at all, but it could potentially affect one of my oldest friends. This friend – we’ll call him “Bob” – is a good man, talented and smart. Unfortunately, he suffers from juvenile onset diabetes. He worked for as long as he could, but eventually his illness got to the point where he could no longer support himself. He now manages to scrape by with his SSI benefits, which amount to a couple of hundred bucks a month.

Now, his health and welfare is threatened by this latest round of Republican cruelty. I won’t go into detail about this; it is expressed with much more eloquence in this column by Jonathan Stein.


The United States of America is still nominally a democracy, and the government still pretends to act on behalf of all citizens. The gub’ment is soliciting input on this proposed change – I urge you to let them know how pointless and cruel this proposed change is.

Of course, they don’t make this easy; I’ll try to shortcut it a little for you:

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The Politics of Dancing (Around Facebook Ads)

I have made no secret of my dislike of social media, viewing it as a necessary evil required to communicate in this app-addicted era. Of course, my disdain makes me want to put in the absolute minimal effort, which results in really ineffective communication on my part. I just can’t muster the time and energy to do all the things required to blast whatever my message is past the howling maelstrom of other messages, feckless and otherwise, that are typically found on Twitter and Facebook.

Recently, I’ve been compelled to start wrapping my head around buying advertising on Facebook to promote a self-published novel I recently released, as well as events for the Alliance Party where I’d like other people to actually show up. I’ve posted elsewhere about the travails of FB advertising for the novel, but that was nothing compared to the bullshit I had to go through get approved for political advertising on FB.

A few months ago, Facebook announced that they would be tightening the requirements for political advertising in order to increase the transparency of who is actually paying for them. Good enough, I thought – anything that would perhaps decrease the opportunity of the Russians and other bad actors interfering with our electoral process. Little did I know, however, how much of a hassle this would end up being for me personally.

I had created a FB event for an upcoming Alliance Party meetup, and I thought it would be an easy matter to drop a few bucks “boosting” the event. Wrong! The problems began manifesting when Facebook demanded that I provide a scan of my driver’s license. I was none too happy about this, as I have a great deal of misgivings about how big tech companies like Facebook use and abuse personal information – and it doesn’t get more personal than a driver’s license scan, unless you include medical records.

I am willing to make a few sacrifices for the greater good, so I scanned my license and uploaded it, whereupon Facebook started really jerking me around. To wit:

  • First scan – wrong format. (Whaddaya mean you don’t accept PDF?)
  • Second scan – too much white space. (Cropped image.)
  • Third scan – image too small. (Resized scan file.)
  • Fourth scan – FB couldn’t read barcode on back of license. (Fuck you, Facebook!)

At this point, I really began questioning whether this was some sort of practical joke. Is Allen Funt still alive? (No.) I then had to go through an “appeals” process whereby I basically told them that this was a high-res scan from a flatbed scanner, and if they couldn’t read it, there really wasn’t a lot I could do.

After three or more appeals, they fessed up to being able to read the ad, but then dinged me because the name on the FB account(“West Region”) didn’t match what was on the driver’s license. The instructions for rectifying this were buried about three pages deep in an obscure corner of the Facebook website, and once I had made the change I had to do another round or three with Facebook to the tune of: “I changed it.”/”No you didn’t”/”Yes I did”/”No you didn’t” etc. etc.

I was able to purchase the ad eventually, but since my name was listed as having paid for the damn thing, I was immediately set upon by FB political trolls, who were irritating, but also pretty dumb. I was accused of being a Russian and/or Republican troll – presumably looking to split the vote and deliver Oregon’s mighty block of seven (count ’em – seven!) electoral votes to the GOP. I’m proud to say that I didn’t rise (or lower) to the bait, but it was mighty tempting.

Actually, I can understand the cynicism and distrust given the recent track record of misleading ads. Said mistrust and cynicism has only increased as Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that Facebook will not remove demonstrably false political advertising. So basically, political advertisers have to jump through more hoops to get their ads up, but after that they’re free to lie their asses off. Kinda defeats the purpose, I think.

Actually, I don’t know how much good these new identification requirements are really going to do. The whole scheme reeks of eye-wash and window-dressing; making people feel more safe by inconveniencing them, but really changing nothing. Kinda like having to take your shoes off before going through airport security.

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Impeachment: The Hog is Out of the Tunnel

With the Democratic-controlled House finally going all-in on an impeachment inquiry, the hog is – at last – out of the tunnel. This phrase, favored by the often-imitated, never-duplicated Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, seems particularly apt at this point in American history.

I frequently wonder what the Good Doctor would have made of our current political situation, and particularly what he might have said about Donald Trump. Some of the epithets he heaped on Nixon seem appropriate descriptions of our current President – if anything, maybe a little too mild:

“For years I’ve regarded his existence as a monument to all the rancid genes and broken chromosomes that corrupt the possibilities of the American Dream; he was a foul caricature of himself, a man with no soul, no inner convictions, with the integrity of a hyena and the style of a poison toad. The Nixon I remembered was absolutely humorless; I couldn’t imagine him laughing at anything except maybe a paraplegic who wanted to vote Democratic but couldn’t quite reach the lever on the voting machine.”

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Ah, where is the Good Doctor now, when we really need him? The closest thing we have is Matt Taibbi, and he’s a pale imitation at best – a fact that he readily recognizes.

I also mourn the loss of comedian Bill Hicks, who had the guts to speak the truth as he saw it, even to the detriment of his it, even though it meant that it would retard the commercial success of his career. We need people like him now – people who can with humor and vitriol express their well-justified moral outrage at how messed up we’ve become as a country that someone like Donald John Trump could get within 100 miles of winning the presidency.*

That we’ve sunk so low, so fact with the presidency of the odious Donald J. Trump should be obvious to anyone with half a brain, and it was only a matter of time before Trump’s hubris and narcissism brought us to the point of what will certainly be an ugly and divisive impeachment process.

Of course, Dumb Donald’s entire adult life has been ugly and divisive, so I suppose it was just a matter of time before he fucked up in such an egregious way that the timid, poll-focused Democratic leadership had no choice but to finally pull the ripcord on a full-blown impeachment inquiry.

And keep in mind, this is just an inquiry – an investigation. A lot of media organizations seem to be conflating an impeachment inquiry with actual impeachment and removal. To my mind, they are three distinct things: an inquiry, followed by a vote on impeachment on the House, followed by a vote on removal in the Senate. These polls asking the hoi polloi whether they think Trump should be removed seem a little premature. Regardless, it’s pretty clear that Trump’s behavior has been so egregiously bad as to merit a thorough and aggressive inquiry.

I will not go into all of the minutia of Trump’s rotten behavior, save this: by his own admission, he sought the help of a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. If that doesn’t rise to the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” then nothing will.

Of course, the legion of Republican Trump apologists promptly went into back-breaking contortions in an attempt to spin Trump’s selling-out of American democracy as just bidness-as-usual statecraft in the Trump White house. (For a truly painful performance, see arch-lickspittle Rep. Jim Jordan’s flailing defense of Trump on CNN’s “State of the Union.”)

It’s frustrating to see how deep in denial the MAGA-hat mouthbreathers are in their defense of their Dear Leader. In a fantasy scenario that would probably result in me getting the crap beaten out of me in real life, I would like to confront a Trump supporter with something along the lines of:


-Me, in my twisted mind

Of course, I (probably) wouldn’t ever say anything like that because: A) I don’t really like getting my ass kicked, and B) it really wouldn’t add anything constructive to the national political discourse. As a representative of the Alliance Party, I am obligated to try and offer a political alternative to people, even if I don’t agree with most of their core political beliefs. Grown-up compromise, right?

Still, I suspect that I’m not the only one who is perplexed and angered by the ignorance and intransigence of the hard-right woofer Trump Chumps. Trump has been president for ~140 weeks. I aver that you could pick any of those 140 weeks at random, and make note of Trump’s behavior during that week. If Barack Obama or Bill Clinton had engaged in that same behavior from that random week, the woofers would have filled the streets in protest. And I would have been right there with them.

In my more Zen moments, I can’t necessarily fault the woofer mouth-breathers for their mindless support of Trump. they;’ve been brainwashed to think that party loyalty is the same as patriotism. I can’t imagine how twisted and unhappy someone must be to think that Trump’s an okay President, or even an okay person in general. I view it as a form of mental illness.

The same can’t be said about the professional Republican Trump apologists in office, particularly those in Congress. They have resolutely refused to show all but the most limp-wristed resistance to Trump’s near-daily outrages. Time and time again, they’ve had the opportunity to demonstrate they had a shred of principal, and time and again they have proven to be pusillanimous.

Well, Republican cowards, your time is at hand. You can either save your party or save your Country. You can’t do both. Choose, and be judged.


*And what the hell has happened to Jello Biafra? Of the Big Three political iconoclasts of the 80’s, he’s the only one still around. Trump’s behavior makes all of the things that Reagan did – and Biafra bitched about – seem like peanuts. I’d hoped that he would be a voice of outrage in these Trumpian times, but so far, nada.

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The Non-Battle of Portland


In the morning when I’m on the elliptical machine, I’ll usually flip between CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Then I’ll get disgusted and switch to AMC to watch the Three Stooges. It seems apporpriate – swapping one set of three stooges for another.

In the week leading up to yesterday’s protests, CNN and MSNBC had nothing to say about the upcoming showdown between the far-right woofers and far-left tweeters that has become a too-frequent hallmark of life in Portland during the Trump regime. Fox was beating the drum about how poorly Portland mayor Ted Wheeler had handled the previous woofer/tweeter dustup in late June. There were ominous overtones of violent retribution and payback, along with the dog-whistle suggestion that Fox viewers could still get a piece of the action if they hurried.

The way these things normally shake out is that right-wing woofer groups from out of state announce that they are coming to Portland to exercise their First Amendment rights. The most frequent culprit in this respect is a group called Patriot Prayer, whose leader, “Joey,” live across the river in Vancouver Washington. They are frequently joined by a group called the Proud Boys, an SPLC-designated “hate group” based loosely in Florida. Fox News incorrectly reports Patrior Prayer as being- POrtland-based, when they in fact are headqurtered in another state. This didn’t stop “Joey” from using his candidacy for a Washington Senate seat as an excuse to hold a rally in Portland. Which is located in Oregon, which is a state that is not Washington.

The right-wing troublemakers gin up excuses to hold rallies in Portland, and the local left-wing troublemakers – the so-called “antifa” – respond in kind. The black-clad and masked anar-kiddies usually turn up in large numbers and are more than willing to give the woofer troublemakers the fight they’re looking for.

That’s what it usually boils down to: two groups of pissed-off people looking for a fight. There is a thin patina of hard-right and hard-left political rhetoric over the whole thing, but it’s really just the Sharks versus the Jets. Neither group has anyone’s best interests in mind. They just want trouble.

Portland has a long history of left-wind agitation, strchting back to the early 20th century. In the early 90’s George H.W. Bush’s staffers nicknamed Portland “Little Beirut,” after the super-charged demosntrations that occurred during his visits. Local author Chuck Palahniuk tells a story about how a group of protesters used mashed potatoes, food coloring and Ipecac to provide Bush the Elder with a patriotic red-white-and-blue mass puke upon his arrival downtown.

Portland (and Oregon) also has a long and ugly history of bigotry and racism that also feeds the violent conflicts between extreme right and extreme left. Back in the 80’s, the moniker “Skinhead City” disgraced the city. One attendee of several Patriot Prayer rallies stabbed two men to death and severely wounded a third on a commuter train, when the men attempted to protect some teenage girls the “Patriot” was harassing.

Sadly, this history makes Portland a likely flashpoint for extreme fringe groups to meet, greet and beat. I’ll give antifa this: they haven’t really been the instigators in these clashes. They have done some low-down instigation in the past, however – with the May Day riot in 2017 being a nadir in behavior, resulting in millions of dollars in damages to downtown businesses.

I have yet to see one of these confrontational events that coalsced around an antifa event; it’s always the right-wing woofers who roll in from out of state to stir up confrontation. However, their response gives the right-wingers oxygen to create a big publicity stunt out of what would otherwise been an unremarkable protest of a couple dozen yobs in leather jackets and flag regalia.

In my opinion, both groups are pretty much a collection of buttheads, with the right-winger woofers getting extra-special butthead credit for bringing their shit-show in from out of state. Fox News and even Turd-Stirrer-in-Chief Donald Trump seemed to be determined to blow the confrontation up as big as possible. The woofers had been on the prod for Portland and mayor Ted Wheeler since the last woofer/tweeter dustup. An alt-right “journalist” named Andy Ngo got roughed up by the antifa goons. Not cool. Even worse than the violence was the excuse this gave Fox and Fiends to dump on Portland and Wheeler for not having the entire antifa organization rounded up and chain-ganged. Even Dumb Donald tweeted in on the fracas, stating that “Portland is being watched very closely,” and admonishing that Wheeler had better “properly do his job.” (Irony alert: this while Trump was burning taxpayer bucks at his golf resort in New Jersey.)

WE were pretty apprehensive as Saturday dawn, but fortunately Wheeler and the Portland Police Bureau did an amazing job of keeping the Sharks and the Jets separated. They blocked off a number of downtown streets and a bridge or two, and kept both main groups moving and apart. At one point, they were routing one group east over one bridge, while directing the other west over another bridge. It was like a Scooby Doo hallway chase scene.

Image result for scooby doo hallway chase

At the end of the day, there were a dozen or so arrests, a like number of injuries – only one of which required a trip to the hospital. The right-wing jerks were tired and dispirited when things petered out in the early afternoon. After cheerfully being given wrong directions by friendly Portlanders, many returned to the grocery store where they had parked their calls, only to find they had all been towed. The antifi jerks presumably hopped on the next convenient bus or MAX train and went home.

In the end, it was handled admirably by the city, and the message that future woofer protesters who may contemplate again traveling to the Rose City to start trouble is thus:

  • Welcome to our city
  • Spend some money
  • Don’t cause any trouble
  • Go the hell home

And steps 1 through 3 can be omitted without anyone here getting upset about it.

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