October 31, 2009

Satanism and Its Malcontents

Said in an Adam West voice: Di-a-bolical!Satanism: The Seduction of America's Youth by Bob Larson (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, ISBN: 978-0840730343)

This book was written by: Bob Larson, who writes that "as the host of America's most listened-to talk show for more than six years, I've encountered many kids who credit Satan as the inspiration for their outrageous conduct"(p.27). Those experiences are shared in this book because "I want you to understand the roots of this satanic system so you too can effectively combat its lures and lies"(p.31).

Together, we will expose evil from the seamy to the sinister. And we'll see why evil entices rather than repels. Most importantly, we'll understand how to lovingly rescue those who sell themselves to Satan and become the devil's disciples on an altar of sacrifice(p.21).

Bob Larson does NOT mess around.Bob Larson also battles demons on the internet, and he has set up a test you can take to rate whether you are at risk for demonic possession. It evaluates a number of factors, such as whether you have experienced life-changing trauma, whether you have asked Satan to take your life in exchange for something, and whether you are currently being or have ever been incested.

What is in this book: A wealth of information on Satanism and its adherents, like how you can spot them by the way they "dress in black, greet each other with the satanic salute [...], speak and write backwards, or organize secret meetings"(p.29), and one Satanist’s account of how “I identified myself by wearing my left shirtsleeve rolled up and keeping my left pinkie fingernail unclipped and painted black”(p.106). Larson includes “suggestions for parents and counselors who want to help youth resist these influences"(p.30) and alerts you to Satanic dangers you may not have been aware of. "You may meet someone who seems like a super friend who always has drugs available. He may be trying to draw you into Satanism"(p.89), like that Super Friends episode where a Satanist got Robin addicted to meth and tried to sacrifice the Wonder Twins to the dark lord.

That's right, the peace sign and the swastika are Satanic symbols.What is not in this book: Delusional hysteria. Larson describes how Satanism is a very real threat, and confirms it with some of the stories that his callers tell him:

"I'm four months pregnant with my father's child. But it's not the first time," Pat went on. "I've had four other children by him. They were sacrificed in satanic ceremonies!"(p.69)

Pat is not the only one. "Women previously involved in satanic cults tell of becoming brides to Satan. Others claim they were inducted to become baby breeders, to conceive babies for sacrifice without birth or death records"(p.122). While Satanists are deceitful by their very nature, we know that their stories are true because they wouldn't dare violate the sanctity of a radio call-in show, especially when they have little to gain from lying.

Would you recommend this book to Satanists who are fans of Slayer?
Yes, because Larson shares valuable insight from his "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go behind the scenes on a rock 'n' roll tour"(p.11) with Slayer. Slayer's fans seemed genuinely satanic, wearing "metal regalia [that] openly invited evil. There were thousands of jean jackets, backs emblazoned with demonic depictions: horned goat-man (baphomet) symbols of Satan, gruesome images of devils, and more upside-down crosses than a denizen of demons could concoct in a month"(p.13). However, the band was “pampered, bored, and anxious to get home"(p.16), traveling in a "glorified Winnebago [that] was somewhat luxurious, if contemporary K-Mart is your style"(p.15) and paying little obeisance to the Dark Lord when not on stage.

Kids these days, with their metal poseurs and their half-burnt offerings.Would you recommend this book to Al Lewis? Absolutely. "Teenagers today grow up in a world saturated with satanic symbols and suggestions—black metal music, Dungeons & Dragons, horror movies, occult emblems, and diabolical paraphernalia"(p.27), and this is dangerous because "those who worship Satan get the idea through movies, books, music, videos, adult propaganda, or other avenues"(p.117). Grandpa Munster would be one of the first ones to tell you that it used to be different. “Classic fiction” was the inspiration for horror movies from back in the day (the sixties), but “today's movies and videos are more graphically sinister, concentrating on inescapable terror and ghastly revenge. The fixation is not on myth-making and storytelling, but on death and destruction."(p.67) Another one of Larson’s callers gives us a glimpse at what the world could be like if we went back to the classics:

' I saw a Vincent Price film. Some guy discovered another guy didn't like him. So he found some dogs, killed them, and made pudding out of them.[....] When I got home from seeing the movie, I got drunk and killed the family dog.'(p.62)

What was interesting about this book?
Larson’s book is a wake-up call for the forces of darkness because “barring themselves, Satanists believe the world is comprised of bumbling idiots. They develop the attitude that 'we' are the elite, 'they' the chumps"(p.192), but thanks to this book, we can finally prove that they are the chumps!
Additionally, "The devil’s disciples are mostly middle-class and white. [And] a high percentage are male because of the macho posturing required for blood-spilling rituals and acts of desecration"(p.105), but it turns out that Satan is kind of a pussy. "The defilement of children is important to Satanists. The more helpless the victim, the greater proof of their devotion to the devil"(p.125), so either Satan doesn't expect his disciples to actually exert themselves, or he's afraid of receiving sacrifices that might be able to kick his ass.

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October 29, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 4 Synopsis

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


Building off their momentum from Chapter 3, Warren Buffett's Maui Mafia decides to create an "attack sub-economy," making plans to "buy some retail franchises and small businesses in just about every line of commerce and manufacturing around the country"(pp.103-104). Then Nader cuts back and forth between a number of developments.

Jeno Paulucci holds a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his PCC's new headquarters. George Soros inexplicably "showed up unscheduled," maybe because he was confused by his own CUB opening a headquarters in Washington around the same time. Given a chance to speak, Soros asks "whether there were any CEOs or trade association heads in the crowd who wanted to make a brief statement or debate him"(p.114), and he is met with "a long silence." This may be because no one can figure out what he's doing there, but it may also be because he was hopped up on junk and acting violent after not realizing that PCP referred to "Perot's Credibility Project"(p.118). Buffett has started up a lot of committees, and they're all using acronyms, so you can't blame George for having a tough time keeping them all straight.

Max Palevski looks to top his stunt from Chapter 2, where he arranged for concertgoers who had expected the band Cool Drool to be tricked into listening to "a silver-haired orator [as he] took the stage and unfurled a string of calmly delivered racist, sexist, homophobic, and ethnic slurs"(p.56). This time, Max has set his sights on addressing "the NCAA's exclusion of minorities from executive positions, [...] the subordination of academics to football, [...] the NCAA's gross negligence in failing to police the use of performance-enhancing drugs or the constant legal gambling on games, [...and] the wholesale commercialization of amateur sports, with the players sweating for nothing on hard artificial turf while the NCAA, the coaches, the universities, and the advertisers raked in the bucks"(p.122). Obviously, the answer is race baiting:

The first ad appeared. It showed photos of Notre Dame's varsity football team over the past four years, rows of headshots of the starting lineup with their names and positions underneath. A majority of the players were black. The headline read, "Funny, They Don't Look Irish!!!"
The next day's ad ran the photos again, this time under the headline "Why Aren't They Called the Fighting Zulus???"
Yoko Ono talks some shit about art, and decides that it would be great if "the government required the infusion of a harmless red dye in all airborne emissions from factories and vehicles,"(p.122) because the cure for air pollution is more chemicals. She decides to comission a team of artists to "earn posterity's respect and gratitude, just as the great art and architecture of past centuries were cherished today," because you can't build the pyramids without slave labor.

Meanwhile, Warren Beatty and his People's Revolt of the Rich advances on Sacramento. It's some billionaires in a couple of buses who are going to demand that the government start taxing them more heavily. Beatty tricks Governor Schwarzenegger into meeting with him face to face, and the two have a showdown over breakfast and "fair trade coffee"(p.125) before Beatty announces his candidacy for governor in the State Legislature.

Sol Price literally declares war on Wal-Mart.

The billionaires organize a "lunchtime rebellion" (read: teabag rally) of "hardworking Americans who choose to exercise their right of free assembly on their lunch break"(p.137). A "discernably pregnant" woman who gets into a violent altercation at one of these rallies is "just the thing to show that the proletariat, long considered moribund by the plutocracy, still had a cutting edge"(p.137), according to Bernard Rapoport, who is watching events unfold from the safety of his home in Waco.

The chapter ended on a cliffhanger as Bonecrushing Barry Diller, sensing the gathering stormclouds of an upcoming corporate counteroffensive, "reached for his rolodex"(p.138).

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October 27, 2009

Viator's Review: OTSRCSU Chapter 3

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.

Chapter 3 ups the apocalyptic tension right off the bat, with demands from the Cosby/Newman Judeo-Christian clique to "resurrect dead money," which is "like a stagnant pool breeding mosquitoes." (66) (“They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD's wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin.” -Ezekiel 7:19) Talk is broached of bringing in a war god- "Should we consider bringing a military man into our deliberations?" asks Perot. Buffett-Zeus replies "Someone like Anthony Zinni would be perfect." (67-68). Buffett, unsatisfied with the group's reported progress, Redirects everyone's timai into the aforementioned new list. Appropriately, the new priorities revolve around increasing the worship of billionaires: they will tear down the government, so the people have nowhere else to turn; they will found numerous cults to their benevolent (or malevolent) power; and they will of course care for those subjects who heed their intonations.

Soros-Thoth seizes the initiative in this regard, building a massive temple in the nation's capitol to his new cult, the CUB. He prudently selects a hotel with sleeping and bathing facilities for his loyal acolytes, and requires a modest sacrifice of $50 a year from worshipers. (Note: while I am nothing but impressed with Soros' efforts so far, I will be carefully watching for signs that he may in fact be L. Ron Hubbard)

This temple will accompany the labors of Rapoport-Osiris, who has apparently been Redirected from his interest in young schoolchildren by Newman’s Christian appeals. Instead, he sets to populating this newly-founded cult, hiring “two hundred full-time organizers” to send “to each congressional district...to find two thousand voters in each congressional district serious about establishing a Congress Watchdog Group.” (82) (“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” -Matthew 10:11-16)

Rapoport also establishes a $2 billion fund, to “be administered by twelve trustees in a fair-market value “no-strings” bribe for “each incumbent.” (84) The plan is shrewd: what better way to topple the government than to lure it into prosecuting itself en masse? The plan dovetails nicely with the efforts of Gates-Caesar and Jamail-Themis to goad the nation into suing itself into oblivion. Rounding out this subversive plot is Buffett, who recruits youths to infiltrate Capitol Hill and summons elders who have retired from Congress, presumably as lieutenants in the infiltration scheme.

Diller-Marduk continues his terrifying seizure of the nation’s entire telecommunications infrastructure, “through the magic of leveraged buyouts. He had a law firm that spit them out like extruded plastic,” (84) a clear reference Marduk’s preparation to defeat Tiamat, in which “in his lips he holds a spell.” So also Diller prepares for “the big boys, with their Madison Avenue skillsters and their endless treasuries.” (85) Small wonder Nader calls him a “bone crushing, mercurial boss.” (84)

Yet even Diller succumbs to the trickster wiles of Turner-Loki, who goads Diller into calling Warren Beatty, our first Hero of the story. Diller informs Beatty that he has a “script” for him, “but not the kind of script you mean.” (“Marduk took the tablets of destiny from Kingu and placed them on his own chest to proclaim his power over the gods”, yet Turner can still talk him out of them) The platform they propose to Beatty is equally sneaky: a hostile takeover of the entire state of California by billionaires. (“You are going to donate what the tax cut awarded you to the public treasury, and you want them to do the same as part of the reverse revolt of the rich.") (86)

I should note that I read about Beatty’s entrance onto the campaign trail with interest, hoping for a retelling of Brutus. Alas, Warren Beatty is entirely realistic. Turner follows up with another massive practical joke, the aforementioned “Aztec-type festivals devoted to the Sun God. Without the human sacrifice, of course.” (98) Price-Epimethues takes issues with this last bit, saying he has “a few candidates in mind” for nextlaualli. His chronic lethargy may well be due to insufficient exsanguination.

A half-joking hunger for human blood and internal organs is not the only way Price continues to underwhelm and disappoint. We also learn that Price accidentally created evil with his zipper problem. In chapter one he was “once called the father of the retail model later imitated by Sam’s Club, prompting him to reply, ‘I wish I’d worn a condom’.” (17) Now we learn that Wal-Mart is the ultimate evil, Dortwist merely being a lieutenant or herald. Small wonder the group jumps without segue or transition from a debate over the conflict between federal power and grassroots activism to declaring that Wal-Mart delendum est. Wal-Mart creates conflict, as lord of the material world and everyday low prices. Once again Price lives up to his ignominious heritage, having forgotten to do anything pleasant for mankind and bringing Pandora to the world.

Ono-Uzume continues her dream-state prognostication-persuasion. Her very movement from place to place is surreal: she is “unusually quiet during the conference call” after which she “headed straight for the airport”- but it is unknown where this happens, a notable departure from Nader’s meticulous catalogue of which airport each god-mogul uses. Rather, Ono is summoned by the conference call, and appears when agitated at human ports. In this chapter Ono discovers that words are power, solving a debate over what the new “jolt” should be by simply saying “hemp.” (96) Her discovery leads her to abandon her previously successful graphic artistry, declaring that “the word ‘posterity’ isn’t used anymore as it was...by our eighteenth century forebears” and that the “subtlety of modern art is of little use here.” (99-100)

As we close this chapter, it bears reflection on Nader’s specific actions around this book, for example dedicating it to the god-moguls within and contacting the god-moguls’ real-life personalities to tell them about it. It is clear that Diviciacus-Nader has written a blueprint for billionaires to attract (and compel) worship by the inhabitants of the largest economy in the world. Sensing that this will be our salvation, he has set to attracting the gods to his plan, with flattery and promises of delicious sacrifice. We await the coming chapter-prophecies with fascination and trepidation.

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October 26, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 3 Review

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


Pat Choate writes:

Ralph Nader, heretofore, unknown as a talented writer of utopian fiction, spins a tale that is part caper, such as Ocean's Eleven, part technical explanation as in Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October, and in part a fast-paced narrative adventure story as found in any of W.E.B. Griffin's books.


This chapter makes it clear that Ralph Nader has put a lot of thought into his writing, choosing his words carefully when discussing "the other hoof of the Trojan Horse Strategy"(p.90) and imbuing Ted Turner "with a Turnerian twinkle"(p.72). At the Maui 2 summit, "they all repaired to their rooms, and the star-studded Maui night descended on the slumbering future earthshakers"(p.67). And in a nod to the Bard of Avon, the group talks about how "we've identified a hundred or so born or seasoned organizers" (p.70) as an allusion to the way that some are born great organizers, some achieve organization, and some have organization thrust upon them.

At times, Nader's work can be erotically charged, such as when "on top of that wondrously endowed mountain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Warren's warriors felt giddy with hard-headed hope"(p.75, emphasis added). He may not have had a similar intent behind his statement that "money is the lubricant of incumbency,"(p.81) but it still gave me an erection.

The strongest writing in this chapter appears in its natural, unforced dialogue. Warren Buffett speaks all of the following lines:

"During the month between our last Maui meeting and Punxsutawney Phil's unfortunate sighting of his shadow the other day."(p.67)

"There's a cornucopia of fruit, banana bread, and coconut pudding awaiting you in the dining room."(p.74)

"I see that I'm making a speech here, but I can tell from your faces that you're all satisfied with our Redirections agenda. I think you'll agree that our work here is done, so with your indulgence, I'll go on with my closing remarks."(p.77)

"Let's all remember the importance of replication dynamics and leveraged velocity, as discussed during Maui One."(p.76)

The chapter's greatest weakness is the way some of the Redirections chosen at Maui 2 get dragged out with a lot of hand-wringing and debate over how difficult things are going to be. It got a little tedious, but then the developments at the end made it worthwhile. The following points are worth mentioning:
  • George Soros has bought a hotel in Washington, D.C., and is remodeling it for potentially nefarious purposes. Viator has thoughts on this.
  • The Maui group is setting up congress watchdog groups, but these radicals are carefully screening out the wrong kind of radicals. "A vital part of the organizers' work would be to screen admission to the Watchdog groups through interviews and questionnaires designed to establish common ground at the outset."(p.83)
  • The Maui group redefines the phrase "no strings attached" when they plan to offer congressmen campaign contributions to match the money they currently receive from corporate interests. "Any incumbent who resisted this no-strings buyout, other than by rejecting all private contributions, would be on the A-list for defeat by the Congress watchdogs and their allies"(p.84), so the string attached to accepting the money is forsaking the ability to receive private campaign contributions from any other source, while the consequence of not accepting is being hounded out of office.
  • The Maui group wants to take action against "the putrid lobbying and cash-register politics dominating our national legislature"(p.89) so they decide to "create a one-issue political party with an electoral reform platform at all three levels of government. Upon formation, the Clean Elections Party would announce that it would go out of business once the platform was enacted into law"(p.90). This is their "divide and conquer strategy" to divide votes between the Clean Elections Party and the Congressional-Watchdog-Approved incumbents so that opponents of the Maui group can conquer.
  • The essay contest started by Joe Jamais and Max Palevsky asks "'Which state is the most unjust in the nation?' and 'Which state is the least unjust in the nation?'"(p.92) The contest generously caps the essays at ten thousand words, but I can answer them both with four: Aroused and hung over.
  • "On five successive days, commencing next week, two billionaires a day demand that Wal-Mart change its business model, allow unionization, and pay its workers no less than $11 an hour, with full health insurance."(p.94) This is sure to have an effect because billionaires make up such a large percentage of Wal-Mart's customer base.
  • Yoko Ono draws "a stark representation of knives being hurled at a group of children"(p.100) which will hopefully teach those damn kids to stay off her fucking lawn once and for all.
  • Bill Gates, Sr., is approached by "a very successful retired investment banker" who says that he'll help, but "Only if it's full throttle. I'm not interested in due diligence"(p.69). I had no idea that Joe Cassano was interested in social reform.
  • The Maui group forms a lot of subcommittees, but "keeping the staff slim accords with a managerial philosophy of devolution, which means always pushing the work and energy down to the community or to the best real-life platform"(p.77) I read this as "shit rolls downhill."
  • "Ted was highly thought of in environmental and peace circles, not to mention among the ranks of carnivorous Americans who liked bison meat."(p.93) 'Nuff said.
  • Phil Donahue's entire contribution to this chapter is a scene in which he figuratively wipes his ass with a letter from the president of NBC. "Too late, big suit. The train has left the station"(p.68).

And then there are the pot protests and the solar orgies. The Maui group decides that they should agitate for "the expansion of carbohydrate economy to replace the present hydrocarbon economy"(p.96), and lord knows we've got enough fat people in America to be an unstoppable carbohydrate-based economy, but it's really just a fancy way of writing "LEGALIZE IT." Their big plan is to have a protest where they "stand in front of the White House with fifty farmers and activists, each holding a flowerpot, and all simultaneously planting industrial hemp seeds in their pots [....] We'll call it the Pot Revolution, an ironic twist on the word 'pot' that's sure to generate more controversy"(p.97). If calling them filthy potheads is controversial, then I am no stranger to controversy. Of course, hardcore stoners like Peter Lewis are out of luck because "they'll only distract from what will become a mass-media educational campaign that shows how the carbohydrate economy can strengthen national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil and promoting many additional environmental benefits"(p.97, and yes, that was a line of dialogue that someone is supposed to speak out loud)

As to the solar power promotion, "we'll put a giant magnifying glass over a giant vat of eggplants and tomatoes, and then we'll give out bowls of delicious stew!"(p.98) because lukewarm ketchup really wins over a crowd. Ted Turner wants more bikinis and excitement at the Mayan-themed solar power events, and says that "these festivals will be so graphic that the media won't be able to resist them"(p.98). More importantly, they'll "commission Mesoamerican historians and anthropologists to make them as authentic as possible within the confines of demonstrating modern solar technology in dramatic ways that rebut all the myths and lies about solar energy conversion"(p.98). I hope this means they'll talk to the scriptwriters from Mysterious Cities of Gold, because that solar-powered robotic war galley they had was totally boss. Ultimately, "the sun god festivals will launch a national mission to go to the sun the way we went to the moon,"(p.99) except this time, we'll be burning the astronauts alive after they leave the launchpad.


This chapter contained 46 triads and 8 BFLs. At first, it seemed like the author would be able to restrain himself, but after abstaining for a few pages at a time he would go on a triad frenzy, chaining together ideas and using multiple triads, nested triads, and triads within BFLs all on the same page. Two of the more notable BFLs in the chapter are his description of the "ten Redirections" drawn up by the Maui group:

These ten Redirections were chosen with an eye to their potential for amassing additional human and material assets, arousing the downtrodden, securing positive media attention, provoking reaction from the vested interests, motivating the young, highlighting solutions, cracking the mind-suppressing paradigms of the intellectual classes, enhancing countervailing challenges to the power structure, redefining patriotism in terms of civic duty, and fast-tracking some long overdue practical improvements for millions of Americans(p.75-76)

And this speech given at the end of the chapter:

Let's put some substance on this scaffolding. Give it outstretched arms, give it Yoko's brilliant logo, give it schools that teach students to tell truth to power, give it Youth Clubs for Civic Experience after school, give it neonatal care, caring daycare, nutrition care, give it ways to tap into youth ingenuity, youth questioning of our generation's stagnation, give it a Youth Political Party, give it network television programs by and for college students, high school students, and elementary school students, sit them in circles around hip adults who'll pepper them with questions and guide them out of the cultural cocoons that have devalued their imaginations and expectations for themselves.(pp 100-101)

That's right, The second sentence takes up 11 lines that stretch across two pages, and it's supposed to be spoken aloud.


The Maui group has convinced "Warren Beatty, the progressive but indecisive Hollywood actor"(p.85) to run for office. It's notable that Nader hasn't taken any steps to change the identity of California's governor, keeping Governor Schwarzenegger's name unchanged and explaining that "California's current governor was a former grade-B actor"(p.85) while he gets his characters ready to "evacuate the corporate cyborg"(p.86) from the governor's office. This is an exciting development for several reasons.

First, it looks like Nader is going to keep up the invective and name-calling for the entire race. Second, the explanation that Max Palevsky had "been Warren's close friend for thirty years, and they'd had many a bachelor adventure together"(p.87) promises a juicy sex scandal, possibly involving a dead hooker or two. Finally, Warren Beatty may actually debate Arnold Schwarzenegger. While it's too awesome to fully comprehend, it might go something like this:

The two men appear at their first public debate, and Warren Beatty is given the chance to speak first. He launches into a blistering attack on Schwarzenegger, condemning him politically and personally. He faults Arnold for the sorry state of California's economy. He brings up the harassment lawsuits that have been filed against Schwarzenegger, and the many, many women who have claimed he is a misogynist. He talks about Arnold's infamous remarks about marijuana use captured on film in Pumping Iron, and even alludes to the fact that his father was a Nazi brownshirt, possibly throwing in a "girlie man" insult for good measure. It's a passionate speech, delivered with fervor and outlining all the reasons why Schwarzenegger is unfit to be governor. Almost everyone is stunned into silence by the time Beatty has finished speaking.

That's when Arnold leans forward and says, in a surprisingly quiet voice, "You were in Ishtar."

Warren Beatty runs from the auditorium in tears, never to be seen in public again.

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October 23, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 3 Synopsis

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


The seventeen meet for a second time for “Maui 2,” and the meeting lasts three days, thirteen pages and one Newman/Cosby rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” For most of the second meeting the group recounts everything that happened in Chapter 2. At the end, the official BFL is hashed out: a ten-point “Redirections Action Agenda,” that can be summarized as “Overthrow the government,” “Make everyone like us,” and “Start lots of clubs.”

Buffett decides to bring in Bill Joy, “formerly of Sun Microsystems,” as a new group member because he's not one of "these techno-twits who are imperiling us with their contempt for the ethical and legal framework necessary to contain future Frankensteins"(78). The Hollywood Reporter notes that Newman and Cosby are hanging out a lot these days.

George Soros starts a nationwide “Citizens Utility Board” (CUB), expanded from electric utility consumer advocacy into fifteen additional categories, charging $50 a year in dues. Bernard Rapoport starts a new version of Project Vote Smart. He also organizes the “Great Buyout,” a $2 billion plan to “match each incumbent’s net fundraising in a giant buyout of the special interests that normally funded them.” (84)

Rapoport and Warren Buffett “mobilize” retired members of Congress and recruit young people to infiltrate congressional staff. Barry Diller continues to buy all of television “through the magic of leveraged buyouts. He had a law firm that spit them out like extruded plastic. It was all a matter of financing.” (84) He also convinces Warren Beatty to run for governor of California. Leonard Riggio and Max Palevsky organize flash mobs. Joe Jamais and Bill Gates Sr. write a report about the American court system, and start an essay contest. Ross Perot offers “help, charitable contributions, and free professional advice” to “national groups with local chapters.” Max Palevsky declares war on Wal-Mart.

Yoko Ono says, “Hemp”; the group hatches a (two page) plot to legalize hemp. They enlist the help of Ron Paul (“Don Saul of Texas”) to do so. (97) Ted Turner seeks to promote solar power with “Girls. Girls, girls, girls!” by designing “a series of Aztec-type festivals dedicated to the Sun God” (98) with bikinis. Buffett declares there will be a “National Trust for Posterity” to advance a “trust commitment as a yardstick for today’s policies.” (100) Ono says quietly, “Get ready to lose more breath.” (101)

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October 21, 2009

Viator's Review: OTSRCSU Chapter 2

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.

We left off at the distribution of timai, or prerogatives, among our seventeen god-moguls. Chapter 2 gives us a demonstration of their far-reaching power, as we see how each reaches into our very souls with their assigned powers. The sense of word-made-power is immediately evident in the surreal imposition of Warren Buffett's required secrecy. Warren Buffett commands that they remain secret, and they remain secret, no matter how much bull feces Ted Turner hurls.

Similarly, "Stay Tuned" is a divine intonation, a focal point for the apocalypse or "unveiling" of Nader's wisdom. The very birds of the wilderness cry out for it (and small wonder capitalism perverts this into a massive demand for tropical birds).

With that in mind, here are the major players so far with their closest mythological analogues:

Warren Buffett (Zeus): Any polytheistic world needs a head cheese, and so we see Warren. He is more of a big picture guy, assembling “the all-important brain trust that would respond with alacrity in specialized fields.” He is also an accomplished bureaucrat, “refining the operations of the Secretariat and orchestrating the weekly closed-circuit TV conferences.” (59) Surveying what his plans have wrought, he “popped open a celebratory can of Cherry Coke.”

Ted Turner (Loki): Ever the trickster, Turner teaches mankind with comedy and absurdity (a new hat tip from Nader to real life). He insists the group represent themselves with a bird, eventually the scarlet macaw “Patriotic Polly” that is used. (42) He responds to baffled reporters asking him why he is acting (more) crazed with the agreed intonation, "Stay tuned." Turner possesses an impish view of public relations, believing that “the best way to confront lies was not with the truth...lies were best confronted with marching feet or easily understood symbols.” (51) In this case, the symbol is him throwing the aforementioned manure all over television screens while reporters are “nibbling on their canapés,” an effective if somewhat unappetizing attention grabber.

Ross Perot (Dionysus): Similar to Turner only fairly drunk as well, Perot spends the second chapter reprising his 1992 presidential campaign word for word, purchasing vast swathes of prime time to rave that federal budget deficits are “taxing babies” and demand “we’d better bring our boys home pronto” from Iraq. (49) Frankly if there’s any criticism I have of this chapter, it’s that we don’t get enough of Perot’s fun tantrums.

Paul Newman (Jesus): Newman is a reserved sort and isn’t in it for the glory. He holds up his end of the dual telethon (by “telethon” Nader means “Paul Newman and Bill Cosby ad lib for three hours about the Pledge of Allegiance,” something I would pay a disgusting amount of money to see), but otherwise is the picture of Christian humility. His contribution to the telethon takes the form of modern-day parables, or “his own collection of independently produced films and documentaries.” (43) Also, Newman is back from the dead to appear in the book.

Bill Cosby (Yahweh): Cosby is a fascinating character inasmuch as he represents Nader’s killjoy-ness, but in no way that of the actual Bill Cosby, a difficult feat to manage. His portion of the joint telethon he runs with Newman is dedicated to lectures about bad television, “devoted to demonstrating how the media uses public property- the airwaves- to foster complacency, serve power, sell junk, and trivialize or distort or cover up the news.” (43) (“Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD!” -Isaiah 1:4)

Barry Diller (Marduk): Diller appears in exactly one clause of one sentence for chapter two, describing the telethon as “a live three-hour event carried by all the major networks thanks to the behind-the-scenes exertions of Barry Diller.” (43) I want you to consider for a moment how immensely, terrifyingly powerful someone must be to walk into a room and convince three broadcast networks to cough up three hours of prime time for Bill Cosby and Paul Newman to show Newman’s home movies and say whatever the hell came into their heads. Yeah.

Yoko Ono (Uzume): Shinto deities are as rule a bit flaky; it’s unclear whether most of them are even self-aware. Uzume, the Great Persuader and Heavenly Alarming Female, is particularly appropriate for Ono. Just as Uzume managed improbably to restore sunlight to the world by dancing naked on an overturned bathtub, Ono captivates millions by doodling on scratch paper. She draws a "Seventh Generation Eye," a symbol so awe-inspiring Nader spares our lesser minds from an illustration. He describes it only as “a simple, elegant line drawing of an eye that seemed to be looking far into the future. Under the eye were seven human figures, each extending a hand to the next, and beside it was a name: Yoko Ono.” (41) The Eye is particularly popular with Vietnam veterans, who we learn have secretly adored Ono's pacifism for decades. She calls her proclamations “a somersault of the mind.” (44) Along with this symbolic illumination Ono restores light to the world in a physical sense. She sends out 20 million emails (“all from lists properly rented”; Nader is no spammer) (45) to offer to give out free CFL light bulbs.

Peter Lewis (Lucifer): The original incarnation of Lucifer, as best scholars can tell, was drawn from the introduction of Babylonian secret agents to catch Jewish subversives: an angel working (honestly) for Yahweh to tempt and test the faithful. So also with Lewis. His campaign to effectively end all forms of insurance for large swathes of the population is a marvelous exercise in demonic temptation, as is his giddy realization that "He had an easy time with the reporters, who knew little about the subject, and the insurance executives were afraid to debate him." (48)

George Soros (Thoth): Soros is a timeless fellow. His immense wisdom and foresight have come at the price of ennui. He is bored by the first Maui conference, as it is “difficult for him to envision what he could do post-Maui that he hadn’t done pre-Maui.” (57) Nevertheless he contributes in the purest display of wisdom possible: “He would challenge the editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal to a debate.” (58) Said debate, “besieged by every media outlet from The Onion to Vanity Fair,” is a raging success. The editor quits in shame the following month, as Soros demonstrates how [corporate triad] have crushed [democracy triad]. He also “argued convincingly that the world’s hopes and dreams, and even its continued existence, were at stake in the global collision between democracy and myopic corporatism.” (59) And asked for an encore, Soros of course replied, “Stay tuned.”

Max Palvesky (Cthulu): I have to be honest: I’m not sure at all about Palvesky. His goals are inscrutable and his methods dubious. In the two-day social experiment Bitterly describes he lures thousands of people into an auditorium either for the purposes of either enticing people into a bizarre show with “free fruit, soft drinks and snacks,” or enticing people to eat his snacks and drink his soft drinks with the bizarre sideshow. Palvesky subsequently reports (via a full-page ad in the L.A. Times) that everyone was baffled by the first days' presentation and insulted by the second (during which an old man shouts racist nonsense with a megaphone, leading to the place clearing out in minutes). He is perplexingly satisfied by overwhelming public opinion that he is a massive dickhead. If anyone is going to betray our more noble god-titans my eye is on Palvesky to do it.

Sol Price (Epimetheus): As a god Price is pretty useless. After Maui he sleeps for a while. Then he takes out an full-page op-ed ads in [newspaper BFL]. The theme of the ads is a jarring mash of Ozymandias and the Hollow Men: “O Rich and Powerful, arise, you have nothing to lose but [triad]! Let’s go to the heights and exit not with a whimper, wallowing in [tacky rich triad], but with a bang!” (49) Price apparently didn’t get the memo that full-page newspaper ads are for proclaiming the divine deeds one has already accomplished, not an end in themselves. He isn’t even on the same page about saying “stay tuned,” opting instead to say “I’ll be back for you. Get ready,” which sounds like a weird yet toothless threat. (49)

Phil Donahue (Baldur): At least Donahue managed to write something, though this doesn’t put him too far ahead of Price. On the flight back he writes a New York Times op-ed in which he “pointed squarely to commercial interests that said no to the well-being of people.” The reaction to such a mediocre effort doesn’t even seem to impress Nader, who writes, “about 85 percent reacted as if they’d just overcome a long period of constipation.” (44) On closer scrutiny this may refer to Donahue’s litany of sexual perversions; in addition to defecation in his office we learn that “Lots of people were willing to jump out of the cake for him.” I have no idea what that means, but still hold Donahue candyass enough to be killed by a festive holiday plant.

Jeno Paulucci (Plutus): Paulucci takes up a cause near to my own heart: setting up a Chamber of Commerce that isn’t run by total dickbags. The fact that it is called the “People’s Chamber of Commerce” and its charter is something “a business ethics friend of his had written back in 1978” (46) is alarming, as is his insistence that it follow “a chaordic organizational structure...a blend of ‘chaos’ and order’.” (47) Paulucci is also a Republican, a prudent nod to bipartisanship.

Leonard Riggio (Rick Santelli): There’s no delicate way to say this: Riggio stages tea parties on Wall Street: “Contacting neighborhood groups and labor leaders he knew, he quickly put together a rally of 25,000 people of little means in front of the New York Stock Exchange. They carried placards bearing slogans like ‘The Poor Will Be Heard From- From Now On’…Leonard marshaled some great speakers whom no one had heard of…Leonard supplied sandwiches for lunch and gave out posters, placards and bumper stickers to the crowd to help spread the word. Exactly what ‘the word’ was he didn’t say.” (50) I’m not one to doubt Buffett’s background checks but that sounds like an Americans for Prosperity strategy memo.

Joe Jamail (Themis): Jamail puts his lawyering skills and $15 million of his money into filing small claims lawsuits for free. He seems to be a bit of a tightwad as well: as of 2006 there were approximately 5 million small claims torts filed in the U.S. Jamail’s legal society would be funding $3 per case to handle such a caseload. (52)

Bernard Rapoport (Osiris): Keenly sensing that the route to long-term change is the re-education of small children, Rapoport “placed ads on select cable channels saying that he would establish after-school Egalitarian Clubs to teach children civic skills and democratic values like equality of opportunity and the importance of a decent standard of living.” He also “said that the big corporations were on an omnicidal track in the world- destroying our democracy and the environment.” (45-46) We shall have to see if he actually manages to establish any of these industrious and possibly Amber Alert-worthy Clubs.

William Gates, Sr (Julius Caesar): The elder Gates is truly a patrician of the people, as he “offered to pay for the Delaware incorporation of anyone who applied over the following twenty-one days,” reasoning that since corporations have all the rights of individuals the inverse should apply for individuals themselves. He also “announced that he was forming a committee to run five corporations for federal and state elective office in the next couple of years” because “corporations were legally deemed to be ‘persons’.” (53) It is worth noting that of all of the assembled deities, so far only Gates is taking direct and proactive steps to influence the government, assuming he wins his elections.

Brovar Dortwist (Demiurge): Finally we have the first and foremost villain, a literary version of conservative firebrand and erstwhile Jack Abramoff pal Grover Norquist. Dortwist is a bad dude, for two reasons: he is “a conservative lobbyist- or rather, the conservative lobbyist,” and he is in bed with Arabs (literally, as the passage about his wife and...pastry, let's agree, indicate). He has an army of “more than a hundred of the most aggressive, no-holds-barred lobbyists and greasers” as he “bark[s] the craven missions of the week.” (63) (His evil powers include particularly terrible puns) It speaks to his dark powers that he does not seem to be bound by Buffett’s proclamation of secrecy.

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October 20, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 2 Review

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


To provide a more balanced coverage of the book, we will also be presenting some comments from this book's reviews on Amazon. R.A. Barricklow "Scaramouche" writes:

Ralph Nader is a super-patriot who will never say die to the American way of life. When reality says the Republic is either dead or on it's last legs Nader will dig in and fight. He has always used truth as the weapon. Now he artfully uses fiction to speak these truths in a form that that simply had me smiling from ear to ear. His knowledge in so deep/intricate in the workings of this country's political/economical entanglements that he misses nothing in the telling of this story.


This is the chapter where Nader takes off the training wheels, picks up speed, and rams into a parked car. He steps away from soapbox oratory to show us a cross-section of the working class, but he does it with an economy of language that skillfully fleshes out the scene with our own stereotypes and preconceived notions. For example, “on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, Jack Soaring Eagle walked slowly down the long, dusty drive that led from his trailer to his mailbox”(p.40), so we already know that he’s one of the more downtrodden members of society, a disenfranchised Indian who can’t keep a job.

Things start strong with Nurse Jane Harper entranced by Patriotic Polly and motivated to come up with a plan to make the world a better place. After the parrot’s irresistible commandment, the narrative gets a little less believable when it cuts to Stan Yablonsky and Mike O’Malley drinking in Clancy’s Cave—the bar, not the orifice. First the bartender states that “the Bills’ve been out of contention since December”(p.38), and then Mike the schoolteacher leaves because he has to “do his lesson plan on the Underground Railroad”(p.39). Football timing aside, it’s impossible to believe that a working-class stiff like O’Malley isn’t a burned-out husk of an educator who has been using Xeroxed copies of the same lesson plan for over a decade. If he actually gave a shit about his lesson plan, he wouldn’t be out drinking on a school night in the first place. However, Stan’s greeting of “those little tweakers leave gum on your chair again or steal all the chalk?”(p.38) accurately characterizes public schools as being full of meth addicts.

Unfortunately, after two more “common man” scenes, Nader shifts back to his billionaire’s club and returns to long lists of social injustices that need to be addressed. He does add the occasional literary flourish, such as when Ted Turner’s demonstration alliteratively “splashed a slurpy bucket of bull manure”(p.51) onto some “prevarication screens.” Regrettably, Max Palevsky does some oversharing when he notes that “even after some spirited female-gazing during country club lunches with his friend Warren Beatty, his resurgent libido did not put him in any persistently creative civic mood”(p.54).

I have learned the following in this section:
  • The concept of Schadenfreude is alien to Ralph Nader. He thinks that “Judge Judy was an amazing ratings success because people cared about small injustices between individuals,” (p.52) when in fact it’s a success because people enjoy petty bickering.
  • Ralph Nader wants to see Warren Buffet naked. The Washington Post reports that “internet traffic regarding the rich guys’ activities leaves Britney and Paris in the dust”(p.63), which could only mean that Buffett was photographed getting out of a car with no panties (or maybe that Ted Turner and Phil Donohue made a sex tape full of male strippers and slurpy bull manure).
  • Ralph Nader hates the rainforest, but recognizes the value of its inhabitants. But probably wants them all killed, anyway. Patriotic Polly, the movement’s mascot, performs so well in her commercial that she “would have won an Academy Award in her category, if there were such a category”(p.42). I hope he meant an Emmy Award, because a feature-length film of a parrot screaming at me about the need to change America would be too much to bear. Also, “one unintended side effect was that the price of Amazonian parrots skyrocketed,”(p.42) which means that their shrewd choice of a mobilizing avatar is going to increase illegal trade in exotic animals and probably speed the destruction of the rainforests.
  • Ralph Nader wants you to die. His proxy, Peter Lewis, wants to “manage risks” in the insurance industry, which means that insurance companies should start “scrutinizing risks and trying to make it on premium income,”(p.48) refusing to insure risky propositions like buildings that haven’t been built to fire code specifications or people who have pre-existing conditions. His literal statement that fewer people should be covered by insurance companies seems an ill-considered move to force most Americans into bankruptcy via massive hospital bills, until you realize that the tradeoff is that he has solved global warming by forcing people to stop driving because their auto insurance has been cancelled.

Fortunately, Nader gets back into gear with David Roader’s summary. Describing the Maui group’s work as “stirrings from the very gut of the plutocracy”(p.63) is unexpectedly accurate; from the columnist’s vantage he can’t tell if these windbags are just gas pain or the precursor of a tremendous movement. Nader finishes strong, calling out the K Street “lobbyists and greasers”(p.63) who skulk in the office of Brovar Dorquist, waiting for him to “send his troops forth to carry the banner of the almighty buck”(p.63). After being introduced to Dorquist’s “young Arab-American wife”(p.63) we can only hope that “sinking his teeth slowly into a petite Middle Eastern pastry”(p.64) isn’t some kind of euphemism.


I was worried that Nader hadn't brought his A game at the start of this chapter because triads and BFLs were few and far between, but Nader really picks up steam towards the end of it. The triad tracker score is 23, while there were 8 BFLs counted.

This BFL is noteworthy for the triad nested in it:
On a huge screen, as a familiar-sounding voice provided running commentary, images of injustice appeared one after another: children in Los Angeles, chronically hungry, ill-housed, and deprived of the medical treatment they needed; shrunken workers dying from asbestos-induced mesothelioma; US soldiers dying in Iraq for lack of simple body and vehicle armor while members of the Haliburton board clicked champagne glasses over huge Iraq war contracts; executives sitting in their lavish offices as that familiar voice intoned, “They make an average of $10,000 an hour, while their workers average $9.00 an hour”; young blacks with no prior record, imprisoned at five times the rate of young whites with no record; a powerful montage of the president giving his reasons for invading Iraq, causing more than 650,000 civilian deaths, and the headlines showing that he was lying.(p.55)
It is also worth commenting on the fact that the audience was expecting a rock concert by the cutting edge band, Cool Drool. Warren Beatty’s voice should not be familiar to people who listen to cutting-edge rock groups.

There’s also an instance of Nader cock-blocking a BFL on p.39. Bill Cosby begins a rant about the number of people in America who do receive neither liberty nor justice when he is cut off by ellipsis and the narrative statement that “as Cosby continued his catalogue of the manifold injustices afflicting American society, the camera closed in on his face—that reassuring, genial face welcomed into millions of homes for so many years, now grim with anger”(p.39). You could argue that Nader is trying to keep a brother down, but I think it was because a pissed-off Bill Cosby is so completely unprecedented that Nader had to underscore the gravity of the situation.

The most impressive BFL occurs on the final page of the chapter. Nader really pulls out all the stops to introduce archvillain Brovar Dorquist, and describes him with a BFL bracketed by opening and closing triads:
Most of Brovar’s directives were part of a concerted offensive to secure more tax havens, tax reductions, and deregulation; to expand corporate control over the public’s commonwealth assets; to weaken the government’s enforcement capability; to restrict the right to sue the corporate predators in court; and in general to strengthen the power, privilege, and immunity of the corporations vis-à-vis the multitude of regular people who did the work and paid the bills.(p.64)

What does the next chapter hold in store? Stay Tuned.

Like, "stay tuned" the command, NOT the movie or the book.

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October 19, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 2 Synopsis

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


Having agreed to change the world in Chapter 1, the Maui Group introduces its first round of change offensives and unveils its mascot, Patriotic Polly—a shrieking acid trip of a parrot that barks orders through the television. Nader opens with four individual scenes describing how the work of Warren Buffett's superteam is affecting the lives of ordinary Americans. Then we're given a billionaire-by-billionaire rundown of what they've all been up to, and most of them end with the rallying cry of "Stay Tuned." While Warren Buffet was explicit about the Maui Group's need for secrecy, it's possible that they are trying to throw people off the scent by referencing the New Age Book about spiritual mediums or the superb John Ritter movie co-starring Pam Dawber and a convicted pedophile.

Then, in case you fell asleep, Nader has the completely fictitious Washington Post columnist David Roader provide a summary at the end of the chapter, giving the condensed version of what everyone has been up to. He even ends his column with "Stay tuned," simultaneously repeating the movement's rallying cry for the reader and marking the columnist as a wannabe poseur who's desperate to be in on the secret.

The most dramatic scene of the chapter happens in the last 2 pages when the villain of the piece is introduced. The sinister Brovar Dortwist has read the Washington Post column, and is not pleased. There is tension in the air as Warren's group reconvenes for Maui 2: Electric Boogaloo.

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October 15, 2009

I Knew You'd Fight About That

That's a face, looking downwards while light shines on it, if you were wondering.Psychic Warrior: Inside the CIA's Stargate Program: The True Story of a Soldier's Espionage and Awakening by David Morehouse, PhD (St. Martin's Press, 1996, ISBN: 0-312-14708-2)

This book was written by: David Morehouse, PhD, a former U.S. Army Ranger whose foray into the realm of the paranormal began when "we were in Jordan training Jordanian rangers—probably to kill Israelis"(p.26). During the assignment, Morehouse found that "the commander of the Jordanian Ranger battalion [....] hated the Israelis and showed no compunction when it came to talk of killing them"(p.27), and "to lose ourselves in the ways and stories of these men, so closely tied to two millennia of desert warriors, was enchanting"(p.33). Sadly, these idyllic days came to an end after a friendly-fire bullet induced visions that sent Morehouse into the U.S. army's remote viewing program.

What is in this book: An accounting of the other-worldly powers harnessed by the United States government that would sound like the paranoid rantings of a lunatic if coming from a less-credible source. "The government of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth has admitted that it knows humans can transcend time and space to view distant persons, places, things, and events, and that information thus gathered can be brought back. I hope you comprehend the significance of that information"(p.257) Morehouse was warned that "you'll be surprised what you see happening in the world around you as you progress in your training"(p.85), but he had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went. He read books on the development of remote viewing as a science, and "the books didn't mention the intelligence involvement, but evidence of government funding and management was all over the place"(p.83). In fact, "it was obvious when you took all the information in context that the U.S. government was heavily involved with parapsychological research on many fronts, not just in the area of remote viewing"(p.72). The fact that Morehouse was committed to the psychiatric ward of Womack Army Hospital and taking "forty milligrams of Loxitane (a powerful antipsychotic), sixty milligrams of Prozac (an antidepressant), six milligrams of Cogentin (to offset the tremors caused by the Loxitane), and thirty milligrams of Restoril (a tranquilizer)"(p.231, parentheses from the author) on a daily basis only shows what the government would do to keep him quiet.

This man is destined to wear stars.What is not in this book: Vanity. Morehouse might appear resentful, but it's understandable considering that "once I'd been an officer 'destined to wear stars'; now I was a worthless outcast, still suffering from visions and nightmares unless I drugged myself with poisons"(p.234). Similarly, his wife now has to face the fact that "she'd married a strong, promising young infantry officer; sixteen years later, she had a devastated, empty shell of a man who could no more be a father and husband than he could care for himself, who was a melancholy testimonial to what he could have been"(p.235). Morehouse modestly refrains from dwelling on his wasted potential and singing his own praises. He lets the other characters in the story do that:

"Listen to what you're told, David; it's important. Not just to you, but to all humanity"(p.13)

"You possess a unique quality—a gift, if you will"(p.227)

"David promises to be one of the very best viewers we've ever produced"(p.97)

"You get on target faster than anyone I've seen"(p.136)

"I've never seen anyone get the images you did—that was excellent!"(p.109)

"You were on target almost instantly. You collected information that would have cracked the target wide open had this been an operational mission"(p.116)

"He's bilocated within seconds of receiving the coordinates. Nobody's ever done it that fast before"(p.112)

"He's fast, first of all. But that's not where it stops; he's accurate, as well"(p.120)

What do you know about the Secret Army of Northern Virginia? Nothing. I certainly didn't see them mentioned by name on page 46 or referenced later in the book when Morehouse discusses working for them.

Would you recommend this book to Patty Smyth? I think so. She's a little busy shooting at the walls of heartache and all, but she is the warrior. Granted, this book doesn't describe the nuts and bolts of the technology involved in psychic warfare beyond a line about "a specially designed bed like something from a science fiction movie"(p.7), but a warrior's life story might still be of interest to her.

Would you recommend this book to the General Accounting Office? Probably not. Morehouse notes that "there is a dark and perverted side to our army"(p.48), but he's tantalizingly vague on specifics besides a casual mention of affairs and fistfights. "I saw a watch the other day in a safe that cost the taxpayers more than I made in three years"(p.60), so at least we know that the army isn't scrimping on safes.

This man is a psychic spy.What was interesting about this book? Morehouse collaborated with Jim Marrs on a book about remote viewing. "Jim is a conscientious and modest man, who shared our fascination with remote viewing and with its potential to help mankind; he worked hard to pull our story together [....] I should mention that, to date, Jim's book has not been published"(p.197). It's a shame that Marrs hasn't been able to bring the truth about remote viewing to light, because "I believe that remote viewing for intelligence purposes remains now very fully funded, very hidden, and very protected—and is now very deadly"(p.251).

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October 13, 2009

Viator's Review: OTSRCSU Chapter 1

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.

If we subscribe to the theory that the political spectrum is a circle, and traveling along one extreme will eventually lead to the other, then the giddy razor edge between farthest left and right is where the super-rich seventeen, the philosopher kings, the Reichmensch, assemble in chapter one. To be sure, they reprise many of Nader's favorite stump lines- employee ownership, a living wage, climate change, even corporate media ownership. The group even uses leftist nomenclature, calling itself the Secretariat internally (and secretly), and Redirections externally. As a point of style, Nader seems to enjoy needling the corporate suits, obsessively using brand names without the appropriate trademark (Buffett never “sips his drink” or “checks the time”; he “sips his Cherry Coke” and “checks his Timex.”)

Yet this Secretariat is also a beast new to most if not all Naderologists. Sol Price proposes to create a “sub-economy that builds markets and employs solutions kept on the shelf by vested interests,” (25) a concept sure to unnerve anyone remotely familiar with the recent housing market. Peter Lewis elaborates to recommend expanding “the insurance function to help redirect markets,” a “concept we can use in terms of aggregating assets and identifying new approaches.” Presumably this “function” is a credit default swap only with climate change. Barry Diller complains of corporate ownership of the airwaves, congratulating himself for writing “an op-ed for the [New York] Times urging the FCC and Congress to make telecommunications policy as if the people owned the airwaves- which they do.” (21) Seven pages later he announces he will assist Redirection by simply purchasing all of television and radio.

The key to understanding this perplexing combination is to know just how divine the Seventeen are. They not only possess immense wealth and Nader's keen insight in economics, they also possess an ineffable wisdom that escapes us mere mortals (or worse, middle class). Tools the hoi polloi use to run roughshod over ourselves and destroy the global economy are their prescription for our salvation. With such religious overtones it is no surprise Nader writes himself into all of the characters, with the notable inclusion of Bill Cosby (“Whether we’re talking about peace or arms control or my tormented ancestral home of Africa...Think global, revolutionize local”) (18) and exception of Ross Perot (“I cotton to the idea of speed too.”) (21) They are the sixteen faces of Nader's wisdom, each with a different perspective on what ails the world. Perot's (relatively) believable dialogue may be attributed to the kinship Nader feels with him as a fellow and oft-derided third party presidential candidate.

And atop this modern-day Olympus, on a metaphorical or possibly literal throne of cash money sits Warren Buffett. He boldly defines the world's problem as the seven deadly sins for the 21st century, which are conveniently almost every concept associated with modernity: “[The world’s] inhabitants have allowed greed, power, ignorance, wealth, science, technology, and religion to depreciate reality and deny potential.” (15) Buffett also demonstrates immense metaphysical power (not to mention one of the aforementioned BFLs) when he discloses his staff has conducted “exhaustive background investigations” on “temperament, ego control, knowledge, experience, determination, willingness to risk, circles of influence, degree of independence from curtailing loyalties and obligations, capacity to take heat, backlash, ostracism and rejection, absorptive capacity for new directions and subjects outside your range of understanding, track record in keeping confidences, and above all, moral courage.” (23-24) (It is unclear, so far, whether he selected his colleagues because they have been ostracized and rejected, or because they do the ostracizing, or what.) He even manages to convince Sol Price to shut up with the simple fact that Berkshire Hathaway's stock has risen 2,000 percent over 23 years. (24)

Alas, the Reichmensch do not dwell on their sublime understanding of solutions, possibly because the mere five and six figure incomes can only understand so much, more probably because Nader doesn't want to give Goldman Sachs ideas. When not consuming indeterminate fruit platters, sleeping and/or staring at each other silently, they discuss how to convince a skeptical and uninformed people to obey them. Ted Turner energetically declares a mascot is needed, proposing a hawk (he is dissuaded on grounds that this would offend anti-war types; we must stay tuned for the alternative). Jeno Paulucci proposes that their words alone are sufficient, reminding us that “when the super-rich emphasize fairness, people stop what they’re doing and listen." (21)

The closing reminds us of what unchartered waters we have entered. Buffett closes the meeting with assigned tasks, pledges to secrecy and “an early alert system to pick up signs of a counteroffensive,” a fitting tribute to the ideological plots of the early twentieth century. Yet his closing toast reminds us of another ideology of a slightly later time: “To our own evolution and to our posterity’s future on our beloved and only planet Earth as we reach for the stars.” (36)

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October 12, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 1 Review

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


This chapter is a textbook example of how not to write fiction, with Warren Buffett's cadre of the super rich introduced one at a time in the clumsiest fashion possible while they speak in massive, page-filling blocks of text without paragraph breaks or mercy.

To tell them apart, some of them have been given drinks. Paul Newman drinks his Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade while Yoko Ono sips tea. (even though Ono already stands out as the only woman present. Diversity-wise, Bill Cosby is also present, but the other 14 members of Warren's super-rich superteam are all old white men. At least they are diverse in that not all of them are Jewish.)

A few newspaper articles have mentioned that Warren Buffett drinks Cherry Coke. Unfortunately, this has been latched on to as one of Warren's defining character attributes, so he ends up swigging it throughout the entire chapter. What was intended to be a way of helping readers identify with a more human character couldn't have ended up more unrealistic if he spent eight pages swilling Hennessy from a silver pimp chalice.

However, the drink distinctions don't go far enough. All of the characters sound identical when speaking, and the entire chapter reads like it could have been written as one person's extended monologue. You know you have strained your story’s credibility beyond belief when you need Ted motherfucking Turner to notice that "we've all got egos the size of Turner Field, but we've been agreeing with each other like Quakers at the meetinghouse. What gives?"(p.23)

Still, Warren's super seventeen drone on in mutual agreement until it literally puts one of them to sleep. That’s when Buffett decides that the best thing for them to do is sit in silence for an hour, for “thought, response, and decision.” Then they go to bed, get up the next morning, and do it again. For another day and a half.

Most of this chapter ended up going over my head, mostly because it used phrases like “one of the assets we’ll have to aggregate to decisive intensity is our credibility”(p.30-31). However, I was able to make sense of a few passages:
  • "The canny Warren had made sure that any gaps were filled in by distributing professional and personal biographies beforehand"(p.15) He’s crafty, and it's more efficient than giving them all nametags.
  • "As a species, we are learning more and more but are less and less able to keep up with what's happening to us as human beings"(p.16) This sounds like Ralph Nader is upset that he doesn’t know how to use Twitter.
  • "I have been described as the investment world's 'big bang,' and I do not want to go out with a whimper, if you'll pardon the cliché"(p.16). The thing about having the character say "pardon the cliché" is that it does not pardon the author for giving him the line in the first place.
  • "The smug foundation world"(p.16) Ralph sounds a little bitter.
  • "There are countless grassroots groups working their hearts out all over the world, but in the end they're crushed by the power of supreme global capitalism allied with subordinate government"(p.18) “Supreme global capitalism allied with subordinate government” actually sounds kind of awesome.
  • "I suggest that we assume a one-year life expectancy for all of us—that is, we need to do what we're going to do as if there were only one year left on Earth"(p.21) I am wondering if/hoping that someone will take this literally and give them all a slow-acting poison, to introduce a little “ticking clock” suspense into this story.
  • "The country needs a Justice Jolt!"(p.21, spoken by H. Ross Perot) Justice Jolt would be a good name for either a superhero or a pornstar.
  • "A longer-range goal is capital ownership for the masses to supplement their wage income. These are all approaches that can in no way be dismissed as utopian schemes"(p.22) While we cannot dismiss these approaches as utopian schemes, we can certainly dismiss them as communism.
  • "Nonconforming successfulists"(p.23) I wonder if they write “nonconforming successfulist” as their occupations on their tax returns.
  • The cultural marketplace consistently downplays imagination as it tries to confine the visceral to the gonadal”(p.28) And that’s the way I like it.
  • Sure, Paul, I’ll do some thinking about media strategies. And while I’m at it, why don’t I arrange some leveraged buyouts of TV and radio stations so we can establish our own network covering the entire country? I’ve done so many mergers and acquisitions that it’s a matter of routine in my law firm. Piece of cake” (p.28-29) Until I hit the second-to-last sentence, I thought this was intensely venomous sarcasm.
  • Just ask anyone how much money it would take to get them to agree to a permanent four-inch nose elongation or a threefold enlargement of their ears, even with no loss of function”(p.29), I’m guessing we could get six figures from furries interested in that kind of body modifica—oh, wait, we’re paying them to do it? Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.
  • Let’s run this one past some of our imaginative friends, people who would be geniuses on Madison Avenue if they could stand the place”(p.32) I think this is where a lot of delusional losers are are supposed to swell with pride while thinking, “That’s ME!”
  • Let us adjourn to an early dinner, a dazzling buffet you can eradicate at your own pace”(p.33) I drew a flower in the margin next to this passage, because it was that pretty.
  • A gigantic Hawiian dessert, the kind you rationalize eating because of its presumed fruity nutrition”(p.34) I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about, so this looks like a major failure of description. However, if it’s the kind of thing that the rich eat all the time, then I hate them, so MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, NADER.

As the chapter draws to a close, Warren’s club draws up plans for action in a fellowship that is every bit as secretive as the Bilderbergers, so “nothing could be traced back to the Maui group”(p.36). I want to know if these people are going to have to make sacrifices (i.e., die) to implement their changes, and whether they will be betrayed by one of their own. The latter is certainly possible since a prankster was running amok during their conference. He switched out Warren’s Cherry Coke with just a plain Coke on page 18, and stuffed a pile of money under Warren’s chair. “Warren, sitting on $46 Billion, found himself physically agitated”(p.26), and can you blame him?

Nader continues with his penchant for grouping things in three, so we are going to introduce the Triad Tracker, to count the number of times he does it in each chapter. The total for chapter 1 is 17, as the heroes work on ideas that must be "deliberated, applied, or revised" (p.18), while their opponents (known as “master foolers who can command large audiences in every medium”[p.29]) will attempt to block them through “predatory practices, media freeze-outs, and legislated restrictions”(p.25). There are also a few nested triads, like the one describing the evils of too-big corporations as "too bureaucratic, too autocratic, too top-heavy in making decisions, too remote from the ground, and too ubiquitous in our present state of corporate socialism or state capitalism"(p.19).

Chapter 1 also introduces Nader's BFLs, or Big Fucking Lists, where he completely abandons all pretense of ordinary dialogue. For example:
  • "We must be seen as offering ways of nurturing happiness, children, dreams, peace, fairness, honesty, and public morality"(p.19)

  • "Color, sound, light, excitement, humor, fun, joy, comfort, a sense of striving, the right metaphors from daily life, paradoxes to pique interest, success stories that people can relate to within their own frames so that these frames can then be stretched"(p.20)

  • renewable energy, nutritious food, cooperative closed-loop pollution cycling systems, alternatives to toxic materials, housing for the homeless, health co-ops, zero-polluting motor vehicles, recycling, and even television-radio-internet programming to arouse the public”(p.25)

The BFL count for this chapter was 6.

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October 9, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 1 Synopsis

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read the synopsis of past chapters here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

For the complete coverage of
Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


Buffett, having been motivated to bring about global change in the prologue, assembles a group of sixteen other "megamillionaires and billionaires" in a "high mountain redoubt above the Alenuihaha Channel." For the occasion they have "rented the entire premises of a small luxury hotel." Buffett leads the group in a discussion that lasts two days and several sumptuous meals. The seventeen agree on many wide-ranging, deep-seated problems plaguing the world writ large. They air many possible solutions, along with possible pitfalls and modifications. The project is called "Redirection," led by a "Secretariat." Among other things, an ad campaign is planned soliciting desired social and economic change from common people, as well as an undetermined mascot and the purchase of the vast majority of America's television and radio market. We learn that Buffett drinks Cherry Coke (no trademark), while Paul Newman prefers his own creation, the "Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade."

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October 7, 2009

Viator's Review: OTSRCSU Prologue

This is Viator's take on the prologue of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read the prologue synopsis here, and the Bitterly Indifferent review of the prologue here. Check back on Friday for a synopsis of Chapter 1!

We open with a view of the title page, visible in the first post. My first question was who in god's name was the African-American fellow with the mysterious smile behind Yoko Ono. Taking an informal poll I got three suggestions: O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, and Bill Cosby's Jewish half-brother. Nader provides the answer with a helpful list of "Dramatis Personae" in the prologue: Bill Cosby.

The dramatis personae is an interesting artifact by itself. First of all, there are seventeen, a refreshingly prime and possibly eschatological number. Second, it is limited to the captains of industry who are the heroes of this story. The villains, and there are many, simply do not matter. There will be no recap of the right wing's petty dualism and polarization here. There is only ignorance, the greatest evil, and Warren Buffett.

One thing is clear from the brief (pp. 11-13) but powerful prologue: the super-rich are gods. Literally. We know that Katrina is a big deal not because of the massive body count, or flooding, or any of the hype. The tipping point is simple: Warren Buffett misses a day of work because of it. And not only that, he hastens in his modern-day chariot to the scene, striding through one scene of misery after another feeding the hungry and feeding the sick (it should also be noted that Nader displays some classic liberal indecision here, unsure if New Orleans is "a scene from Goya or Hieronymus Bosch" {2}). It is a clever retelling of the parable of loaves and fishes, the harrowing of Hell and Paul's road to Damascus (as previously noted, Nader is a huge fan of rhetorical triads).

And to tie off this introduction, Buffett discovers "exactly what he had to do"...behind the "tall shrubbery" at his house.

Jesus, Paul and Moses. Old Testament meets New meets Warren Buffett. The gods walk among us, and they are super rich.

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October 6, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Prologue Review

This is the first installment in a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read the past synopsis here. Check back tomorrow for a review by Viator, our special guest analyst.


First, I'd like to note Mr. Nader's generosity in describing Mr. Buffett as actually having a soul, although there is a faint whiff of demonology in the way that Buffett "summoned two assistants"(p.12) that is reminiscent of Marlowe's Faust.

I was interested in the way that "the old-timers noticed that there were no reporters, no photographers, no television crews" covering the event because it looked like a major plot point. The idea that the media, desperate for content to fill the 24-hour news cycle, would ignore Warren Buffett doing something unusual, the refugees from Hurricane Katrina, and one of the largest and most rapidly assembled aid convoys in modern history all in the same story was so implausible that I wondered if the entire book was going to be a fight-club-esque chronicle of a wealthy man's descent into delusional madness.

Unfortunately, since it's the "old-timers" noticing the lack of media attention, not Buffett, I have to concede that it is less of a major plot point and more of a major plot hole.

As to the writing itself, Mr. Nader writes with a passion and intensity belied by his reputation as a professional killjoy. He is a fan of adjectives, although he tends to belabor a point by hammering it home with the rule of threes:
  • Warren Buffett begins by watching three aspects of Katrina (breached levees, helicopter crews searching for survivors, the survivors themselves). Then he stays home to see three more items covered by the news, and the third item is made of an additional three parts (floating corpses, people stranded, refugee centers crowded with "human depair, human kindness, and human depravity").

  • He sees the refugees broken into three groups (the whole group of refugees, the mothers and fathers, and the extended families), all looking for surprise twist four things ("water, food, medicine, any kind of shelter"), so that's three sets of three items each that Buffett has watched from the Katrina coverage.

  • Three types of government (local, state, and federal) are all paralyzed.

  • There are three things wrong with the people in power (ineptitude, recklessness, and rottenness).

  • Buffett does three things to comfort the refugees ("He took their hands, hugged their trembling children, and looked into their eyes").

  • And three days after the event, Buffett "knew exactly what he had to do--now, fast, fundamentally, and unyieldingly").
What lies in store for the mega-millionaire? After tomorrow's review, the synopsis for Chapter 1 will be posted on Friday!

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