TBT: The Brutal Truth

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Grand Theft Braino: San Schaivo

Hooboy, looks like the world's coming to an end now that we've found out that one of the hottest video games (and the most controversial) - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - contains a hidden mini-game dubbed "Hot Coffee" that graphically depicts sex. Since the discovery, Rockstar Games (the company behind the franchise) has had their original "M" rating carjacked by the ESRB in favor of the dreaded "AO" for "Adult's Only", which means no major retailer will carry the game until Rockstar releases a revision that removes the nasty stuff, and thus gains the lower "Mature" rating back. Not only that, the controversy has ruffled Hilary Clinton's feathers and now the Beltway is going to conduct hearings on the matter.

So what does the New York-based ESRB; the New York-based Rockstar Games, and the lady Senator from New York State have in common aside from being based in New York? And what really is this "Hot Coffee" thing and the ESRB? Speaking of the ESRB, what do they have is common with Republican Senator Bill Frist? Also, what does this have to do with Terri Schaivo? The answer is simple and I'll bust it all down nice and neat for you but fair warning: I'm bringing an ugly stick.

First, a disclaimer: I'm going to protect my journalistic sources by not naming any names but my sources range from other journalists, specificially those who write for magazines that focus on the video gaming industry as well as software developers. I assure you none of them have any affiliation with Rockstar Games whatsoever so any bias you might detect from this entry is purely my own (hey, I'm an opinionated bastard).

Now, what exactly is this "hot coffee" code buried within GTA: San Andreas. Well, I'm sure if you fire up Google, you could find videos of the sex involved, but incase you've got an imagination, let me describe it as saying it's not any different than what can be seen at 10PM on FX every Tuesday night depending on the time of year (March thru June, "The Shield" is in that time slot and July thru September, "Rescue Me" takes over that same time slot). Or any "R" rated DVD on sale at any retailer. What it mainly consists of is the main character of the game scrogging random women. Depending on how the "hot coffee" code is enabled depends on if the duo is clothed or exposing full polygonal nudity.

How is this "hot coffee" enabled? Depends on the version of the game. For PC, it requires downloading and installing the "hot coffee" hack (a patch of sorts) that modifies or overwrites the default files. The hack has nothing to do with Rockstar Games as it stems from the general public. Hackers and crackers are responsible for this modification. For the X-Box and PS2, things get trickier: it requires a modified console (aka "chipped" -- usually done to play pirate or imported games), all the files from the original DVD pre-installed on the X-Box's built-in harddrive (for PS2, the harddive is a bundled accessory with another game but some harddrives off the shelf at Staples or Best Buy could be compatible), and then a download of the console specific "hot coffee" hack. From there, one will need a way of launching the game from the harddrive instead of the original DVD and there's utilties that allow just that. Another cheaper -- and easier -- way to enable the "hot coffee" code is with a $20-$40 cheating device sold along the same shelves that display video games. There's three of these such devices on the market and each made by a seperate company. These devices are known as a "Gameshark", a "Codebreaker", or an "Action Replay".

Typically, what these devices do is give the gamer cheats that may or may not exist in the game such as infinite lives, invincibility, a stage select, etc. These devices work by being loaded up first on the console so that a small program is loaded into the console's memory. A list of games will show up with thousands of cheats, so the gamer picks the game and cheats they want to use. This tells the small program in the console's memory to expect a certain file to be booted by the PS2 once the discs are swapped with an actual game disc and "hook" it. Once "hooked", it acts as an unseen middle-man between the game and the console's memory and the cheats work by the middle-man program continually writing a pre-determined value to a section of the consoles memory over and over again, hence the desired "invincibility", or "infinite lives" -- the cheat program fools both the game and console. But since these cheat devices work by "patching" memory addresses over and over again with the same pre-determined value, if they know which addresses and which values to use, they can indeed enable extra code hidden on the game that was otherwise disabled by the developer for some reason. The caveat here is with these cheat devices, enabling unused and disabled code can (and usually do) cause the game to crash or lock up.

That's the crux of the matter with "Hot Coffee" in general -- this portion of the game was indeed programmed and developed by Rockstar. In fact, it's an industry practice to develope portions of a game that may or may not make the final cut in the end, mostly because of time constraints or, later on, the crew of programmers became apathetic about it and decided to pitch it. By pitching it, they rarely strip or scrap that portion of code from the game but instead disable it. There's a good and practical reason why the code is disabled instead of removed. Since this little bit of code is linked to the gaming engine, the sound libraries, etc., it's much easier and cost effective for the developer to disable or bypass that section. Thus the engine never executes it. The alternative is removing the content completely which can break other things in the game that have to tracked down and fixed. This process takes time and resources. The majority of the time, all developers -- not just Rockstar -- simply comment it out in order to save time and money and the material is NEVER part of the game. It's just unused and ignored code. Gaming development is on a structured timeline and budget dictated by shareholders and since removing content can often break other parts of the software that function, fixing whatever becomes broken can result in delays in both development and release, which shareholders frown upon. So, all video game developers try to kill two birds with one stone by simply disabling that portion of material because by doing so, both the programmers win by moving forward with development (and remaining employed), and the shareholders and gamers win by no delays.

That's what I believe happened here -- at some point in the delopement of this game, Rockstar looked at that portion of code, expressed doubts or second thoughts about it, and decided to nix it before it was finished (hence the reason why cheat devices cause crashes or lock-ups -- the code was never finished). By "nix" it, they don't mean removing it completely unless time is on their side. If not, then they mean to simply disable it. That's what happened -- they disabled that portion of code from ever being executed. In other words, anyone who plays the original stock GTA: San Andreas DVD off the shelf from start to finish will never witness the raunchy sex acts that take place with the "hot coffee" portion of code because that portion of code requires third-party intervention -- be it with a downloaded hack or a cheat device -- to fool the PC or console into thinking that portion of code is A-OK instead of verboten and that is something beyond Rockstar's control or responsibility. Had time been on their side, it probably would've have been scrapped completely but when time isn't on their side, they're left with very little choice. There's nothing more a head software programmer hates than having to go to the CEO and say, "We need a 6 month delay." They hate it because then the CEO (after he or she is done chewing the head programmer out) has to shop that idea onto the shareholders and they hate delays. They want a timely return on their investment into the company and delays aren't timely. Once Rockstar reached the point where they'd be as happy as their going to get with their game (no programmer is ever totally happy with their projects) and the deadline looms closer, then it's time to unveil their pet project on to the ESRB.

Despite ESRB ratings being "voluntary", they aren't. No retailer will shelve a video game without an ESRB rating. Period. So developers and/or publishers have to pay the thousands of dollars the ESRB charges to rate a game. The ESRB is nothing more than a mafia within the industry. Ever wonder how the ESRB rates games? They take the "Bill Frist" approach -- the developer sends them a video tape of the gameplay and the ESRB bases their rating on viewing that video tape. They don't pick up a controller at all. Never did, never will. Notice the keyword I used: GAMEPLAY. What that means is a video tape of the features of the game -- music, sound, graphics, voice acting, mechanics, hidden characters or modes, etc. -- that the developer intends to ship intact with the game. Since the raunchy "hot coffee" portion of this game was disabled thus making it impossible to show up during stock gameplay, the ESRB gave it an "M" rating. The ESRB isn't interested in content that didn't make the grade. Their only interested in everything and anything that can be seen and heard via stock play. Since Rockstar (or any developer) disables and buries thousands of line of the code they don't intend to use (some of which was the "hot coffee" sexual content), there was no reason to bring it up because they think it'll never be discovered. In the event that it is, they feel it's not their responsibility for they can't totally control whatever tinkering the gaming public will do with their patented and copyrighted intellectual property. They wish they could to a degree ... but can't. Once it's pressed on the disc and sold, their hands are tied.

Therefore, I believe Rockstar (or any developer/publisher) should not be held accountable or responsible for hacks, mods, or "trainers" that enable the unused portions of code in a game. Is Eidos responsible for the nude "Lara Croft" hack? Should EA be held responsible for a bunch of script kiddies that allowed "The Sims" to run around in the nude, too? Should Ed Boon and the gang at Midway Games be held responsible because -- years ago -- I used a cheating device on my copy of Mortal Kombat 4 to be able knock off 20 heads with Johnny Cage instead of one or to add more gore, blood, and carnage?!? Better yet, suppose I hacked the game completely to allow Johnny Cage's split-punch to work on female characters. Should Midway now be forced to change the rating of a 15 year-old game to "AO" because my hackery allows Johnny Cage to engage in the sexual act of "fisting"?!? What if I hacked a 1-year-old game like Mortal Kombat: Deception and changed Kobra's "Heart Rip" fatality into a "Crotch Rip" fatality? Now Kobra can tear off the nether regions of his opponents like a paper towel and shove it in the victims' face thanks to my hackery. Should Midway take reponsibility and change the rating of MK Deception ...... all because of my lame, degenerate ass?!?

That's preposterous.

It's exactly why I'm bringing out the ugly stick on all parties involved in this idiocy. Although there are Republicans in this witchhunt, this issue is mainly the Democrats' own "Terri Schaivo" and may it implode on their faces. Perhaps I can help in that avenue by reminding you all that Hilary Clinton, Tipper Gore, and Joe Lieberman are card-carrying members of the Parent Television Council (PTC for short), an outfit run by conservative Republican moonbat L. Brent Bozell III, the son of the speechwriter for Sen. Joe McCarthy; L. Brent Bozell II (who he himself was arrested in the 1970s for going all Don Quixote on an abortion clinic using a lifesized flaming crucifix). Yes, the same Brent Bozell that can be seen on FOX News Channel as a "political analyst" (read: PARTISAN HACK!) Yes, the same PTC that got their asses handed to them a few years ago in a court of law by none other than WWE Entertainment mogul Vincent K. McMahon with charges including copyright and patent infringement. In fact, ever since McMahon won that case against the PTC, I now refer to Brent Bozell III as "Bozo Bozell" (a play on the name of an old school wrestler Bobo Brazil) so it'll remind him how he barked up the wrong turnbuckle. Bozo Bozell is a lunatic. He has never worked a honest day in his life. Before being hired as a FNC Political Analyst and occassional paid appearances on the 700 Club, his entire adult lifestyle has been bankrolled by all these non-profit "interest groups" he builds and uses to syphon "membership" money from. He and his PTC are politically and religiously trained "free-market" hitmen that will attack anything that isn't "Little House on The Prarie". Recently, he tried to bully FX Networks into removing their hit drama "The Shield" from the airwaves. Apparently, Bozell didn't see the conflict of interest considering both FNC and FX Networks were owned by the same Aussie that signs his "Political Analyst" paychecks. Oh, but once he did, he backed off the many houses that Murdoch built in a big hurry.

Why would the Clintons, the Gores, and Lieberman want to be involved with Bozell is beyond me unless they're not really Democrats at all and are DINOs instead. Hilary's recent snuggling up the DLC sure makes me second guess her loyalty to us on the blue side of the yard. The Gore family lost me along time ago when they destroyed Dee Snider's musical career (but he sure got the last laugh) and, after over a decade of Lieberman and his useless pork-barreling with Sen. Kohl on whether or not violent games create child-killers along with his track record of voting with Republicans, I don't need anymore evidence of his true colors and I'll question his loyalty to the Democratic Party until they lower him into his grave.

This looks like a witchhunt to me. A witchunt on a controversial video game developer for something that -- in light of what's been going on in the White House lately and the quaqmire in Iraq -- should not be important at all and I more pissed off because thanks to what seems to me to be a disengenous mining and pandering for the "Soccer Mom/Weekend Dad" vote, it has burned my ass enough to spend the last few hours blogging about it. And now that Capitol Hill will get involved with hearings in the Fall, I'm expecting more needless pork-barreling and more political grandstading in the guise of "Will Somebody Please Think Of The Children".

Here's something they can pork-barrel into: There isn't many children involved in the gaming industry. If so, Nintendo would be in first place instead of third and platform/action adventure games would be trumping sports games and shooters. That isn't the case as the majority of gamers in the industry are in the 17-34 age demographic and comprive of over 85% of the gaming industries entire revenue, which was $9.9 Billion in 2004. Top titles of that year were:

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - PS2 - Take II Interactive
Halo 2 - XBX - Microsoft
Madden NFL 2005* - PS2 - Electronic Arts
ESPN NFL 2K5 - PS2 - Take II Interactive
Need For Speed: Underground 2 - PS2 - Electronic Arts
Pokemon Fire Red W/ Adapter - GBA - Nintendo of America
NBA Live 2005 - PS2 - Electronic Arts
Spider-Man: The Movie 2 - PS2 - Activision
Halo - XBX - Microsoft
ESPN NFL 2K5 - XBX - Take II Interactive

The majority of these games are sports titles and shooters aimed at the mature gamer 17 or older with only two titles that have children or early teenagers in mind. Also, game rental statistics at BlockBuster have greatly reflected this by stocking more sports and shooting games than any genre. Therefore, children must make up very little in the gaming industry in terms of demographics and sales because children don't have jobs -- they have Mom and Dad. Therefore, if children are amassing large quanties of "M" rated games, it's most likely Mommy & Daddy's fault for either buckling to their sniveling or not monitoring their gaming habits. Mature gamers in the 17-34 demographic not only have jobs, but live on their own. They pay their own bills. They're tax-payers. They're voters! Politicians who alienate them are doing so at their own peril for that's the same demographic that gets the majority of their news from Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" (who schools our sorry press corp every single night) and their entertainment from that same channel with "South Park" and I hardly need tell you how the "South Park" fans voted last year (hint: sure as hell wasn't BLUE!) If these politicans want those voters and their financial contributions as well as possible votes and contributions from software developers, try earning it by walking away and leaving them alone because if you think you can intimidate the gaming industry into forking over some of that $10 Billion a year by forming a lobby, then I'm afraid you're the ones barking up the wrong turnbuckle. Moves like this are more likely for the gaming industry to form a PAC that'll work to flush you sanctimonious morons right out of Washington (at this point, more power to 'em -- I think we could use some good fresh meat instead of bunch of has-beens).

Rockstar Games & Take-Two Interactive also gets a good thwack from my ugly stick for the inital hemming and hawing about this "hot coffee" ordeal until they got busted in their lies instead of coming clean and being honest with us. Sorry guys, but this country has only room enough for one Clueless McClellan and your sorry impersonation of him -- lies and all -- doesn't impress me. Because of your finger pointing, the entire $10 Billion gaming industry is now going to be skating on thin ice in fear of Big Government breathing down their necks. So many other software developers are now on the radars of these politicians looking to grandstand and pontificate on your damned failure.

Lastly, I must shake my ugly stick towards the readers because, when all is said and done, our blue politicians hoping to grandstand over this mess much like their GOP counterparts did with Terri Schaivo can't do so unless you let them get away with it. They want to take the easy way to the voting booth by milking this, hoping that you'll be lulled with their self-serving rhetoric all the way to the ballot box or the cash box. Viola -- convenient marks for a vote. With a horrid deficit, lack of health care, lots of corruption within the GOP-helmed White House, a clusterfuck of a war that has killed nearly 2,000 soldiers and cost us billions (some of which that just disappeared out of thin air once Halliburton and Bechtel got their grubby hands on it), there's simply more important things to concern ourselves and Washington, DC with ......... than a $50 video game.

A $50 video game that even Larry Flynt would snark, "You've got to be shitting me?!?"


Monday, July 18, 2005

Forget The Goal Posts -- Bush Moves Entire Stadium

Totally cornered on Turdgate, President George W. Minderbender today declared a brief suspension of "Operation: Stonewall" to make the following flip-flop:

"I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts. And if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

As you can see, Bush has backed away from his previous statement where "anyone involved" would be terminated. Now, the qualifier for being bounced ass first onto Pennsylvania Avenue has been spun to "committed a crime"; a stark reminder of the days of Clinton during his own infamous forays into stonewalling after lying about using a certain government clerk's twat for a humidor (I still say Slick Willie should've smoked the motherfucker, too). In fact, it seems that's exactly the barometer Rovians are using -- the ol' "If Clinton Got Away With It - We Should, Too!" defense, hoping like hell it's going to work.

It isn't working.

We're not that stupid.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Clueless McClellan Gets A Clue -- WH Press Corp Responds, "TOO LATE, SHITHEAD!!"

The headline says it all -- in the last 48 hours, we've learned that NY Times' journalist Matt Cooper had telephone conversations with White House crook/crony Karl Rove where they talked about Valerie Plame's employment by the CIA. Ever since then, White House Press Secretary Scott "Clueless" McClellan picked a fine time to listen to legal advisors, drank himself a warm glass of "Shut The Fuck Up", and the White House Press Corp are stomping a mudhole in him. It's has been a site to see!

To refresh your memory, here's Scotty

Q: You said this morning, quote, "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved." How does he know that?

A: Well, I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. ... I've said that it's not true. ... And I have spoken with Karl Rove.

Q: It doesn't take much for the president to ask a senior official working for him, to just lay the question out for a few people and end this controversy today.

A: Do you have specific information to bring to our attention? ... Are we supposed to chase down every anonymous report in the newspaper? We'd spend all our time doing that."

Q: When you talked to Mr. Rove, did you discuss, "Did you ever have this information?"

A: I've made it very clear, he was not involved, that there's no truth to the suggestion that he was.

This was Scotty yesterday...

Q: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than: We're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...

And Scotty today...

McCLELLAN: I think you're trying to get at the specific news reports and wanting me to comment on those specific news reports and --

"Q: But they're news reports that have been confirmed by Karl Rove's attorney, Scott.

"McCLELLAN: John, you can keep jumping in, but I'm going to try to keep going to other people in this room, as well. And we can have constructive dialogue here, I think, but that's not the way to do it.

"Q: It's not my job to have a constructive dialogue, Scott. Sorry."

As you can tell, Clueless (or should I say Cluesome, now?) McClellan's repeated non-response to the questions were nothing more than weasel words that the White House press corp wasn't going to abide by. Just eyeballing some of the videos of these exchanges at AmericaBlog and C&L suggest to me that Scotty would've sold his manpussy to have Jeff Gannon as a lifeline. It's was brutal, vicious, and fucking great. I loved every moment of it and I will say that if the White House Press Corp experiances day three of "Operation: STONEWALL" tomorrow from Scotty, then don't be surprized to hear refferences to Ken Starr and "obstruction of justice" from them because that's exactly what Scotty's defense ammounts to. Even Bay Buchanan bailed on the Bush Administration saying on CNN that Rove's defense was "Clintonian" and today, Tim Russert chimed in during the TODAY Show saying that an anonymous Republican in DC said to him that if this were the Clinton adminstration, there would be Congressional hearings immediately.

As the White House was being silent, RNC Chairman Ken "On The Down Low" Mehlman was nothing but, appearing on CNN with Wolf Blitzer (which John Aravosis has a
video of) were he dared to claim Karl Rove didn't out Valarie Plame. Since this contradicts Newsweek's Sunday Bombshell where Rove's lawyer Robert "Gold Bars" Luskin openly admits that Rove was Matt Cooper's source, the White House Press Corp -- freshly armed with a pack of Mehlman's RNC Talking Points that plan to discredit Joe Wilson with interesting details that only one particular meely-mouthed sonofabitch could've possibly have known -- had no other choice but to go back and chew on Scotty's ample ass some more, with Terry Moran delivering the best chomps:

QUESTION: But, Scott, there’s a difference between what’s legal and what’s right. Is what Karl Rove did right?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I mean, you can state the obvious. I understand and appreciate that. And I appreciate you all — I know you all want to get to the bottom of this. I want to get to the bottom of it. The president has said no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than he does. We want to see it come to a successful conclusion.

The best way to help the investigation come to a successful conclusion is for me not to get into discussing it from this podium. I don’t think that helps…


MCCLELLAN: I don’t think that helps advance the investigation.

QUESTION: You say you won’t discuss it, but the Republican National Committee and others working obviously on behalf of the White House, they put out this Wilson-Rove research and talking points, distributed to Republican surrogates, which include things like: Karl Rove discouraged a reporter from writing a false story.

QUESTION: And then other Republican surrogates are getting information such as: Cooper, the Time reporter, called Rove on the pretense of discussing welfare reform. Bill Kristol on Fox News, a friendly news channel to you, said that the conversation lasted for two minutes and it was just at the end that Rove discussed this.

So someone is providing this information. Are you, behind the scenes, directing a response to this story?

MCCLELLAN: You can talk to the RNC about what they put out. I’ll let them speak to that. What I know is that the president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with that investigation, that means supporting the efforts by the investigators to come to a successful conclusion.

And that means not commenting on it from this podium.


MCCLELLAN: And, no, I understand your question.

QUESTION: … Fox News and other Republican surrogates are essentially saying that the conversation lasted for two minutes and that the subject was ostensibly welfare reform. They’re getting that information from here, from Karl Rove.

MCCLELLAN: And, again, you’re asking questions that are related to news reports about an ongoing, continuing investigation. And you’ve had my response on that…


QUESTION: At the very least, though, Scott, could you say whether or not you stand by your statement of September 29th, 2003, that it’s simply not true that Karl Rove disclosed the identity of a CIA operative?

Can you stand by that statement?

MCCLELLAN: I look forward to talking about this at some point, but it’s not the appropriate time to talk about those questions while the investigation is continuing.

QUESTION: Can we take that as a yes or a no?

QUESTION: This was a statement you made on the record 21 months ago. You very confidently asserted to us and to the American people that Rove told you he had nothing to do with it. Can you stand by that statement now?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, and I responded to these questions yesterday.

Yeap, look like the Bush clan is busted! Definately a shitload of spin coming from all directions on the part the White House and the Republican noise machine. C'mon Shrub, you know you wanna run out there and say it: GODDAMN LIBERAL HIPPIE PRESS CORP! YOU KEEP HATING AMERICA AND HURTING SCOTT'S FEELINGS, AND I'LL HAVE YOU TREASONIST FUCKERS STUFFED IN CLUB GITMO!! Oh, wouldn't that be a Saturday Night Live moment? Nah, no need to go that far. Besides, there's plenty of bullshit here to last SNL for a few months.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Morality Calamity

We're going to have two vacancies to fill on the SCOTUS and I hate to channel John Fogerty, but I must: There's a bad moon on the rise. A blood moon that'll shine about the beatings and bashings that'll no doubt transpire between the right and left; between Christians and Fundamentalist moonbats. This is going to test not only America as a nation, but Americans as a people, especially in the morality department.

I believe morality is too large of a topic to be pidgeonholed into certain selective political/religious hot-botton issues such as sex, drugs, abortion, and gay marriage exclusively. Just because those topics might be popular theological axes to grind by the Tali-Born Again doesn't mean those issues and
the Fundy Fristian Foundation (known as "The FFF" henceforth) of the GOP get to have a fuckin' monopoly on them.

Now, the FFF regularly posits the idea that there is no poverty in the USA. What the fuck is is the criteria they use to make this claim? Usually, the criteria is alot of windbaggery like, "I wents out to da kuntry once an' I gots ta see true poverty an' poverty like I saw in Mexico jes' duddn't exist in 'Merka. Here, the criteria is born from obfuscation in a comparison to other countries. Therefore, I'm left to beleive that the point the FFF is trying to elude to is as long as poverty in American doesn't get as bad as it is in Mexico, then we shouldn't worry about it, shouldn't think about it, and shouldn't do anything about it. And let's say we did just that ... and in within a decade or two, poverty in this country would resemble that of Mexico today. What then? What would the criteria be then? That'll depend on whether or not Mexico is worse 10 years from now. If it is, the wackaloons rightwing fundies of the FFF might point and say, "Hey, least we be better'n than Mexico thar!" If by chance Mexico's poverty is the same or better than Americas poverty, these very same fucktards will just find a different third-world to compare us to and say, "Hey, least we bein' better'n them!"

I find such logic (or lack thereof) rather troubling because it implies that when we're confronted with one aspect of morality (poverty, for example), then it's quite alright for someone in power here to obfuscate and avoid addressing the problem by simply comparing us to another country. However, if a different aspect of our morality is confronted (like the recent rulings on the legality of gay marriage by Canada and Spain), the idea is if someone in power were to point it out and say, "Shee-it! We're behind the times! We should do that, too!", the cantankerous cadre of fundamentalist Christians in this country who'd explode saying, "How dares dat sumbitch takes their orders from the satanic actions of other countries?!?"

In other words, that whole "America-compared-to-{X}" is a rather selective thing where we get to pick and choose our morality from a social buffet of topics or pet-issues and then cobble it together with our own individual political/spiritual/personal beliefs. I remember long ago when engaging in such a thing in this country was considered so myopic and downright hypocritical that the offenders would get ridicules for months as monalogue fodder on late night TV.

Ahhh, but there are times when the Tali-Born Again play this card:

How can you be in poverty if you have a cell phone, cable TV, air conditioning, or a car?

To me, this implies that in order to be considered elegible for the title of "poor" or "living in poverty" (and I don't know of a single soul that would consider it to be a honor), there exists some kind of "official" laundrylist or taboo list among rightwing, welfare-hating, numbskull Fristian Fundies that are dubbed CONTRABAND for a poor person to have at any time whatsoever. It's as if these people upon seeing a poor person with the luxury of a cell phone, cable tv, AC, a car or anything else that a middle class or rich person might have plenty of would just love to walk up to that poor person and say, "Hey! How dare you have these things?!? You're supposed to be poor, remember?!? Poor people aren't allowed to have these things if they're supposed to be poor! Now, give 'em to me, dammit, and start being poor. And if I ever catch with you (*waving cell phone attenae threateningly*) with one of these or anything that you're not supposed to have, I'll come back and take 'em away or make it almost impossible for you to ever get them again! You understand me?!?"

Shocking thing is there's no shortage of people in this country who entertain thoughts like that ... and they don't have to card-carying members of the Dobson Light Brigade! And if they were even given the chance to live this fantasy of taking every luxury a poor person in this country might have, they'd come back the next day and ream the poor person even more by saying shit like, "Oh, you lazy shiftless mooch! Why are you allergic to work?!? Yeah, I know I took your car yesterday. That don't mean you can't go work! Are your legs broke?!? Big deal your job is 25 miles away! You could've walked to walk if you'd just pulled yerself up by ya bootstraps earlier enough to make the trek. Ain't my fault you took a job 25 miles away. Here you lost your job and now you're gonna mooch of my tax-dollars some more, eh? Wha-no! You losing your job ain't my fault, dammit. Taking your car ain't my fault either. Hey, you're supposed to be poor and poor ain't supposed to have goddamned cars. That's why I took it from you. Stop being a leech!!"

I find this rather distressing as hell from a morality standpoint. Why? Apparently, two things never enter into the primodial goop passing for brains in the noggins of your typical rightwing Christian funamentalist. The first thing is Capitalism is never to blame for prices falling to the point where a poor person with the luxury of having "disposable income" at some point (which is probably on the taboo list, too) to afford and thus consume them, thus contributing to the overall economy. The second thing that never enters the equation is that a poor person today
may not have have been poor 5 or more years ago. Instead, the person could've been middle class and acquired those possessions then ... at a time when they had the disposble income to do so. Ahhh, but as time elasped, something bad happened in their lot in life (health problems? Got laid off? The market where that person's skills were a commodity suddenly went bust?) - and are now poor people making just enough money to cover their cost of living. Does the fact that they're poor later mean that they have to get rid of those possessions they acquired at a time where they weren't poor in order to fit into the narrow and myopic definition of "poor" among rightwing Fundy-Fristians?!?

If so, then how is it different then if that poor person were to turn the tables around and make-up their own "taboo lists" and concoct their own narrow definitions what is CONTRABAND for a middle class or rich person to have? How is it different if, for example, a poor person took note of all the "toys" a middle-class person has and said, "Bah, you own your own house, drive an SUV, have a nest-egg to fall back on, have this and have that! Middle class hell, boy! You're friggin' Bill Gates! Must be nice, Mr. Rich Boy"?

Why is it that when the poor turns those tables around, the response from the middle and rich class is a defiant scream of, "CLASS WARFARE!!!
or one of their "Myth of The Self-Made Person" tangents (e.g. "Listen here, punk! I did it allz by myself with no handouts from anyone unlike your moochin' ass! Yada, yada! Da-dah-da-dah-da!"). In other words, why is it that if the rich and middle class use personal possessions as a barometic wedge to wage class warfare upon the poor, that's fine and A-OK with the wingnuts! The baby Jesus is smiling and cooing. But if the poor were to turn around and do the exact same thing (e.g. use personal possessions as a barometric wedge to wage class warfare on the middle/rich), the baby Jebus starts to wail like a tornado warning siren and the wingnuts are all "How dare you" and all that shit? Why the double-standard? Where has it been written that only the middle and rich in this country have exclusive dibs on the "Class Warfare" card? I find that troubling from a morality standpoint because, quite frankly, there's no evidence anywhere in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Holy Bible that suggests the idea that people who make more and/or have more are thus granted more privlege to the excercizing of ones freedoms or liberties. Sadly, we see cases where the squeaky wheels of the rich, the famous, and those moronic fuckwad GOP Jebus-cretins are empowered and greased and favortized more so than the citizens in this country who are otherwise not as fortunate. How is that moral from an equality standpoint?

When I made these arguments to one Tali-Born Again wingnut I argued with early yesterday, his response was a defiant:


I told him, "Fuck yeah, I did" and then proceeeded to tell him that if he and his fellow rightwing Xenophobes-For-Jebus felt that it's the cat's ass to judge liberals Christians such as me by questioning my faith, my morals, and my patriotism because I refuse to crucify my brain for their Dear Leader George W. Hitler Hoover Jr. and refuse to stoop for the Gawd-Sqwad and suck their puny little Fristian dicks until their testicles start whistling "Old Rugged Cross", then by the same Holy Spirit they claim to have, I'm going to turn around and judge them by questioning their incessant love for wars, blood, guts, carnage that the Jesus I know preached against (because living by the sword almost made Peter a second career in ear-collecting), as well as pointing out the totally unchristian riches and possessions of their soothsayers such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, etc. and finally by calling them out by lovers of money. My exact words to him was what part of "It'll be easier for a camel to enter through an eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God" don't you Republican Christian shitheads not understand?!?"

The Fristian Fundy was LIVID:

STFU, you damned liberal! IT'S NOT ILLEGAL TO LOVE MONEY!!

I responded by saying, "Which master do you serve -- GOD or MAMMON?!?"

The Fristian Fundy said something I will never forget:

"WTF is Mammon?!?!?"

Everything became crystal clear and my greatest fears have come true. The fundamentalist GOP Christians know as much about The Bible they sling around and claim to live by as Donald Rumsfeld knows about basic warfare: JACK DIDDLY FUCKING SHIT!! They don't know anything except for a few favored verses from their agenda-driven self-appointed schysters in their churches whom take them out of their context and mash them together in that 2-speed blender inside their heads. Afterwards, they unscrew their craniums and out pours the devil's poison for rabid indigestion by their pathetic sheeple. It's no wonder why Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, Oral Roberts, Robert Tilton, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, Rod Parsley, Tony Perkins, Charles Stanley and the rest of the "Whose Who" of rightwing Republican Christian Fundamentalism have built themselves a mighty heap of personal loot, drive fully loaded Lexuses and Rolls Royces, and living in luxuriant, miltimillion dollar homes -- they've were blessed not by God but by Ol' Split-Toe himself with the most ignorant, stupid, moronic, idiotic, brainless, defective marks for an audience that Red State America can deliver.

As Dennis DeYoung put it in one of his final Styx songs:

Turns out nobody is perfect,
From A to Z
It's best you follow your heart
Than to ... *heh* ... follow me,
For I'm only a singer playing a song
I've been making it up as I went along
You see, I met a man who told me once
"Sincerity is the key ... and once you learn to fake it
Soon you're gonna be home free!"
Fallen Angel -- Fallen Angel
Well, I guess you were no Angel afterall
Fallen Angel -- Fallen Angel
You always take us with you when you fall...

That sums up Red State, Tali-Born Again America.

A shitload of suckers taken for granted by a shitload of fallen angels.

They deserve it ... but the rest of this country doesn't.