Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, May 30, 2009


If you weren’t living in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002-03, this title probably has you going “Huh??? WTF???” I was living in the Bay Area at the time, and this scandal was all over the news for months and months on end.

It had everything. It had as much juicy gossip appeal as any Hollywood celebutante scandal or runaway bride story. And it was a microcosm of so many modern afflictions: corrupt police departments and the crooked city governments that keep shielding them, cronyism, and the culture clashes that are inevitable in any large diverse American city — especially San Francisco.

In November 2002, two guys were leaving a bar just after closing time. One of them was a bartender there and the other had stayed there until closing time. As they were walking away from the bar, they were assaulted and beaten up by three off duty SFPD officers.

In the earliest versions of the story, one of the two guys was carrying home a bag of leftover fajitas. The three off duty cops came up to them and demanded that they hand over the fajitas. The two guys from the bar said no, and they got stomped.

It didn’t take long for “Fajitagate” to be coined, and the name stuck. After weeks and weeks of wallowing in Fajitagate, the bartender gave an interview so he could tell his side of the story and “clarify” a few things. I don’t remember the details, but he said there was more to the argument than just three cops walking up to them, demanding their fajitas and then pummeling them when they said no; and the media was oversimplifying everything by having the whole story centered around a bag of fajitas.

He also wanted to make it clear that he and the bar patron he was with were “not friends,” that they happened to be leaving at the same time. He was off duty because the bar had just closed, and the other guy had been hanging out there until closing time.

I don’t know if the term “Fern Bar” still exists or not — trendy Yuppie bars with fancy-named drinks that are watered down and overpriced. That’s the kind of bar these two guys were coming out of. The three off duty cops had just come out of a “cop” bar on the same street. And you know what “cop” bar entails, assuming you’ve watched a few police shows on TV.

As one local columnist put it, the whole encounter was Boilermakers versus Cosmopolitans.

And speaking of cronyism — one of the three cops was named Alex Fagan Jr. The then-Assistant Police Chief was Alex Fagan Senior. Do the math.

Just like Watergate, Fajitagate had a coverup, followed by a coverup of the coverup, then a coverup to cover up the coverup of the coverup…

In the most blatant part of the police department sleazefest, the senior officer who had been investigating the incident and was finally starting to uncover a few interesting details — was abruptly transferred to another case. The person who took him off the case claimed it was just a routine transfer; that it’s perfectly normal to take an investigator off a case just when he/she is starting to get somewhere. Riiight.

During the height of the publicity, then-Mayor Willie Brown made a public statement that the whole incident was just “mutual combat,” not an assault, and let’s move on, etc. I think at least one up-and-coming mayoral candidate said the same thing in a public statement.

Nobody did any jail time; there were just lots of investigations and counter-investigations; claims and counterclaims. The police chief was accused by the D.A. of covering up the incident. He eventually had his name cleared and then he took an early retirement because of the “stress” of being investigated.

I hadn’t thought of this scandal in years, until I saw yesterday’s headline that the case is being officially closed.

It was one of the most colorful chapters in San Francisco’s colorful history.

Here are some more links to Fajitagate.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Libertarian Wet Dream

Literally. This newest John Galt gimmick is sort of a cross between Atlas Shrugged and Waterworld.

I like Ayn Rand as much as the next person. Who could read The Fountainhead and not be rooting for Howard Roark to stomp all over those faceless one-dimensional conformists who kept holding him back?

Ditto for Atlas Shrugged. John Galt, Hank Reardon and all the rest of those self-made self-actualizing heroes — how could you not be on their side?

But how do you apply this to the real world? It’s like watching Death Wish and then trying to apply what Charles Bronson “taught” you at your next Neighborhood Watch meeting. Reality gets in the way.

Today’s technology — plus the fact that the population has probably tripled since Atlas Shrugged was written — would prevent America’s movers and shakers from building their own secret community in a hidden canyon somewhere. That damn Google Earth!

What to do? Where can you go to get away from that smothering nanny state and all those clingy parasites? To the ocean. No joke. The Seasteading Institute is a think tank that wants modern day frontiersmen and John Galt wannabes to build large concrete floating platforms in international waters. Free at last. Uh oh, Somali pirate ships on the horizon!

The main founder of this think tank is Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton Friedman. Something about the apple not falling far from the tree…

Friedman acknowledges that Libertarians are too small a minority to ever win any elections. So his solution is seasteading: “Expensive though ocean platforms are, they are still cheap compared to winning a war, an election, or a revolution…the unique nature of the fluid ocean surface means that cities can be built in a modular fashion where entire buildings can be detached and floated away.”

And they lived happily ever after.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Are you tired of having your life dictated by a bunch of simpletons who think the Earth is 6,000 years old? Don’t you wish the Rapture would hurry up and get here so we can finally be rid of those self-righteous Biblehumps?

Don’t despair. Progress is slowly (or make that slo-o-o-o-o-wly) being made.

On this date in 1923, the U.S. Attorney General ruled that it’s now legal for women to wear pants in public. Oh. My. God!!!

Just try to imagine the hysteria — the anguish! — that must have reverberated among the Faithful. Little did these poor people know that thirty years in the future, the Devil’s Music would rear its head and enslave this great nation once and for all.

Hat Tip to the local bookstore, whose daily chalkboard message provided the above information.

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Monday, May 25, 2009

The New Face of the Republican Party

Or, make that the new NEW NEW face of the Republican Party. The GOP is poised for a comeback. After making some incredibly stupid miscalculations and blunders, they’re about to come roaring back with a vengeance.

A partial list of their retarded pitiful stunts would include:

  • Michael Steele contradicting OxyContin “Rush” Limbaugh, and then falling to his knees sobbing and groveling and begging Limbaugh to forgive him.
  • Dick Cheney constantly haranguing Obama for being soft on terrorism and making us “less safe.”
  • Dick Cheney (again!) saying that Limbaugh is more representative of the GOP than Colin Powell, and then saying he didn’t know Powell “was still a Republican.”
  • Republicans threatening to filibuster Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, without even knowing who the nominee is.
  • The Republican National Committee spending hours and hours debating whether to re-christen the Democratic Party as the “Socialist Democrats,” before finally deciding that they should be spending their time discussing something more important. (Ya Think???)

But that’s all water under the bridge now. After making these idiotic pathetic mistakes, the GOP has learned some painful lessons. They’re sick and tired of being nothing but a punch line for Jay Leno and Jon Stewart. They’ve changed their ways and now they’re ready to roll! They’re Back Baby!

They’ve come up with a brand new smear attack, and By God this one’s gonna work! The Republican National Committee sent out a new attack video last week. This video juxtaposes images of Nancy Pelosi with images of Pussy Galore (of James Bond/Goldfinger fame). Way to go Republicans! This is how you reach out to Middle America. Millions of people who are scared shitless of losing their jobs and their homes will suddenly think “Nancy Pelosi and Pussy Galore hee hee hee hee hee. OK, I’m sold. I’m voting Republican!”

It doesn’t matter that all of their previous “galvanize the base” Swiftboat attacks have backfired. This time it’s gonna work. This time they’re really gonna drive those pansy-ass RINO moderates out of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of hardcore True Believers will unite, and organize, and they’re gonna send Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin to the White House in 2012.

The Republican Party has finally discovered The Secret ™: If you try something and it doesn’t work, try the exact same thing again. If you keep getting the same result, don’t worry; just keep doing the same thing over and over and over, and eventually the Fates will intervene and you’ll get the result you wanted.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dick Cheney for Vice President

Don’t laugh; this might be the only solution to the Never Ending Story.

Dick Cheney just flat-out refuses to shut his foul putrefying shit-spewing face. A serious political discussion without Dick Cheney vomiting all over the proceedings is about as likely as a picnic with no ants.

Remember when Cheney was Vice President of the United States, you couldn’t get a word out of him. Nobody even knew where he was 99% of the time. Once in awhile he’d peek out of his secret cubbyhole just long enough to tell a Democrat to go fuck himself, or shoot somebody in the face, and then he’d slither away again.

Now obviously nobody wants this Dickwipe to actually BE the Vice President again. But just suppose there was a way to make him THINK he’s Vice President. Would it work? Would he finally shut his blubbering puke hole and go gently into the night?

This is kind of a far-fetched comparison, but during one of Alice Cooper’s concert tours in the early ‘70s, the band played sort of a mean trick on their lead guitarist. (I got this information from Billion Dollar Baby, a book written by columnist Bob Greene, who accompanied Alice Cooper on one of their tours.)

This guitar player was basically deteriorating. I forget whether he was getting too wasted on drugs and booze, or was just lazy or getting sloppy (I read the book a long time ago). He kept making mistakes and missing notes, but he wouldn’t admit it. So the rest of the band arranged for the sound man to silence his guitar without him knowing it. He’d have his guitar and amp cranked up to ten while he’s wailing away with his solos, not even suspecting that nobody could hear him. The second guitarist was also playing the solo, and HE was the only one the audience could hear.

I assume the lead guitarist found out about this at some point before Billion Dollar Baby was published.

OK, so it’s a wacky comparison, but: is there some humanly possible way to trick Cheney into thinking he’s Vice President? Somebody could set up a simulated office for him to “work” in, and people pretending to be Dumbya, Rice, John Yoo, etc. could call him up for instructions. They could even show him computer models of simulated terrorist attacks that were thwarted at the last minute because of Dick’s fiery speeches and 24-hours-a-day vigilance.

I think Cheney might actually be megalomaniacal and delusional enough to fall for it.

Got any ideas?

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Republicans: Since They Can’t Do Anything Else…

They can’t govern worth a tin shit, and they can’t win elections. Non-Republicans will probably notice a certain cause and effect relationship between those two problems.

To compensate, the Republican Party seems to be following the old adage of “find something you’re good at — anything! — and do it well.” And that of course would be: screeching and wailing and stamping their feet and pouting from the sidelines. What else can they do? They didn’t make the team, and none of the team’s fans can stand the sight of them. But they’ve gotten mighty good at standing on the outside and looking in, while shouting and sobbing and holding their breath ‘til they turn blue.

Oh well, as Michael Keaton said in Night Shift: “It’s a skill.”

You probably read last week that Republican “leaders” have their talking points already mapped out for derailing Obama’s proposed health care reform. Trouble is, Obama hasn’t yet presented his health care plan to Congress. For people of a certain intelligence level, that might pose a bit of a problem. No problem for Republicans though. “Whatever it is, I’m against it because…let’s see, which 3 by 5 card do I need here…”


And now they’re using the same procedure for derailing whoever Obama nominates to the Supreme Court. They have a list of the most likely nominees, and they’ve got their soundbites tailored to each one. “Soft on terrorism!” “Sympathetic to the homosexual agenda!” “Pro-abortion!”

The Republicans’ stated motive is to galvanize the base. The “Base”??? What “Base” would that be??? Oh, you mean the “Base” that swept Republicans into office in 2006 and 2008. That “Base.” DUUUHHH!!!

Direct-mail Has-Been Richard Viguerie said: “It’s an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there. It’s a massive teaching moment for America. We’ve got the packages written. We’re waiting right now to put a name in.”

Ah yes, “the troops out there.” All five of them.

And speaking of contrasts and ironies: How about Obama’s speech at Notre Dame. Hundreds of fetus-worshippers were right out there, front and center, protesting Obama’s appearance. Unlike what’s his name’s public appearances, the protesters weren’t relegated to a “Free Speech Zone” 600 yards away. Also unlike his predecessor, Obama actually goes out there and speaks to audiences who haven’t been screened and pre-selected and ordered to erupt into spontaneous applause at certain cues.

Obama even addressed the abortion issue — the exact reason for the demonstration — in conciliatory terms. He called for “Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.” He said: “We can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.”

Now, just try to imagine this: Cheney or Dumbya giving a speech about the Iraqi invasion, with hundreds of anti-war protesters right there in full view, and Cheney-Bush reaching out to the protesters, trying to find some common ground between the two sides.

You can’t, can you.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Washington’s Version of the Salem Witch Hunts

The State of Washington doesn’t have gay marriage. The state provides some benefits for gay civil unions, and just this year the state legislature passed a law expanding the rights and benefits for domestic partnerships. The law is nicknamed “Everything But Marriage.”

Because of the economic meltdown, benefits that would be covered by taxpayers are being delayed until the economy improves. So, gay couples can have most (and soon all) of the rights and benefits of married couples, but it isn’t called “marriage.” Everybody’s happy. Right?

Never ever ever underestimate the petty meanness of a gang of Biblehumpers looking for a scapegoat. Their hatred and bigotry are exceeded only by the huge amount of free time they obviously have.

The Washington Values Alliance is collecting signatures to put a referendum on the state ballot next November, which would overturn the “Everything But Marriage” law.

Here’s another link to the group.

If they collect enough signatures — they have until July 25th — the “Everything But Marriage” law will be delayed until after the November election (and that’s assuming the referendum gets defeated by voters).

The Washington Values Alliance president, Larry Stickney, was preoccupied and unavailable for comment. Several other members of the group were also a little, uh, busy.

Several “Christian” organizations tried to defeat Washington’s assisted suicide referendum last November; it passed by a landslide. Here’s hoping these busybodies can’t collect enough signatures for their current flamefest. If they do, their referendum will hopefully get trounced by the voters next November.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Factory Farms and Swine Flu — Is There a Connection?

You don’t have to be a PETA fanatic to think that factory farming is a horrible practice. Pigs are smarter than cats and dogs. It should be unthinkable to have them crammed together into tiny pens to wallow in their own shit.

And now there’s a possibility that factory farm pollution is the cause of the current swine flu epidemic. There’s no proof, but there’s a lot of smoke out there, whether there’s any fire or not. Google “factory farms swine flu” and see how many links come up. I first read about this on MSNBC.com, but when I went back to the same link the next day, the story had disappeared.

Smithfield Foods — the world’s largest hog producer — has a huge factory farm in Perote, Vera Cruz, Mexico. This operation raises and “processes” (don’t even go there) 950,000 hogs per year. And the town of Perote is where the swine flu outbreak originated. Coincidence?

Smithfield Foods is an American company. Their factory farm operation in Perote, Mexico is called Granjas Carroll. Now if this factory farm turns out to be the swine flu culprit (notice I said IF) — there’s a certain irony. When this swine flu epidemic first became public, rightwing bloggers and pundits went ballistic, calling Mexicans every racial slur you’ve ever heard (and probably a few new ones). Swine flu was all THEIR fault — those dirty feelthy stinking F#$%^&#!$&#s came into our country and infected us with their filth and disease!

So…Do these wingtards have anything they’d like to rephrase? I’m not providing links to any of these assholes; you know who I’m talking about.

For more information about Smithfield Foods, check this out.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Will the Republican Party Get a Divorce? (Say Yes!!!)

Colin Powell, Arlen Specter and other moderate Republicans — lose the Albatross! And get rid of your “I’m With Stupid” T-shirt while you’re at it. Stupid is holding you back, dragging you down.

Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney — get those limpwristed RINO pansies out of God’s Own Party! If you’re a Real Man who hates queers and furriners and wants Jesus to rule the world, you want NOTHING to do with those whiny moderates.

Yesterday Dickwad said: “If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican.”

Damn right! Come on, Colin, how many anti-abortion rallies have you been to in the past week? How many gay bashings? How many bookburnings? Didn’t think so! Pussy!

Shotgun Dick also dismissed the idea that the Republican Party has moved too far to the right. “Well, I don't buy that. We win elections when we have good solid conservative principles to run upon.” Right. How’d these last two elections work out for you?

And speaking of wacky news: the other day Mexico’s most vicious drug lord was complaining that there’s too much crime and violence.

No wait, that wasn’t it. Let’s see, it was…Oh, right. Here it is. Ready now? Pope Benedict warned that religion should not be misused for political manipulation.

[dropping jaw] [double take] [shocked silence] [speechlessness]

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

European “Socialism” — Safety Net or Nanny State?

This article profiles a family near Heidelberg, Germany, and how they’re coping with both spouses being out of work. Archie Bunker types will blubber about “the welfare state!” and “worthless parasites!” But this family — a husband and wife and their four children — is surviving a lot better than their unemployed counterparts in the U.S.

Sarah Fuerstenberger is from Detroit originally and has lived in Germany most of her adult life. She says: “If we were in Detroit, we could worry every minute. But here, we’re safe because of the system. The German government is really good about taking care of people; we know we won’t be starving one way or another.”

According to the article, this is exactly why European leaders denied Obama's request last month for them to increase their own economic stimulus programs. Their reasoning is that their existing safety net is already keeping people afloat AND stimulating demand.

In other words, if unemployed people aren’t forced to choose whether they want to eat, pay the rent OR take their sick child to the doctor — they can actually go out and buy things, thereby stimulating the economy and keeping businesses from going under.

In addition to socialized medicine and generous unemployment benefits, a lot of German workers are helped by the practice of kurzarbeit — reduced working hours but without a reduction in pay. Whatever amount of money the company loses through this practice, is reimbursed by the government. This policy has allowed some of Germany’s largest manufacturers to reduce production because of decreased demand, without having to do mass layoffs. An economic adviser at the German Institute for Economic Research said: “Nobody is against it — not the trade unions, not the workers' councils, no political party. All are happy.”

And no, this safety net isn’t cheap. The average German worker pays about 52% of his/her income for taxes and social security. For the average American worker, that figure is about 30%. Is it worth the higher cost?

Sarah Fuerstenberger says: “Sometimes I think it’s not worth it when I look at what ends up in my bank account, but in times like these, I appreciate it.”

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Hot Button Issue for Republicans — The Search Continues

The Party of Rush Limbaugh is clearly not interested in helping to solve America’s problems. It’s so much more fun to just sit around dreaming up wedge issues and soundbites and taking potshots at Obama.

The Gimmick du jour: Guantanamo Bay — Bloodthirsty terrorists are being released into YOUR community!

While Obama struggles to work out the details of how to close Gitmo and what to do with the prisoners, Republicans are giggling from the sidelines. They think they’ve finally found the perfect soundbite.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), said: “My first plan is to have an up-or-down vote in the Appropriations Committee. They are known, dangerous criminals who have vowed to destroy our way of life.”

[sigh] How many times do Republicans need to have the same simple fact explained and re-explained and reiterated and re-reiterated to them??? Once again now: the Gitmo prisoners have been ACCUSEDSUSPECTED! — of being “dangerous criminals who have vowed to destroy our way of life.”

They haven’t been tried yet!

Is it all coming back now? You know — court of law, a jury of one’s peers, conviction or acquittal? DUUUHHH!!!

The Republican Gimmick is actually focused on just one particular aspect of closing Gitmo: They’re determined that not one cent of YOUR tax money will be used for closing the prison or relocating the prisoners.

[sigh] Uhh, [try to be patient now] anything that’s related to war, the military, military prisons — is paid for by the taxpayers. Arresting the prisoners, housing them, torturing them, paying the salaries of the prison guards and interrogators — it all comes out of YOUR tax dollars. Do Republicans really think this gimmick is going to work any better than all their previous ones?

And yes, it’s true that America does have some prisons that are privately owned and operated. How’s that working out for us?

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Heeyyy, How About Those Dodgers!

Tax Dodgers that is.

Obama is trying to fulfill a campaign promise to crack down on those sleazebuckets who hide their money in other countries. This crackdown would be accomplished with new tax laws, new reporting requirements and hundreds of new IRS agents

Obama said the way for America to stay competitive is “not to reward our companies for moving jobs off our shores or transferring profits to overseas tax havens.”

You’d expect Republicans to be having a tantrum about this proposal, but even a lot of Democrats are unenthusiastic. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) said: “Further study is needed to assess the impact of this plan on U.S. businesses.”

I don’t agree with the Far Left mantra that “there’s no difference between the two parties.” But this is the kind of bullshit that reinforces that belief.

Obama says the current tax law rewards multinational corporations at the expense of companies that only do business in America: “It's a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York.”

He also wants to eliminate the current “check the box” rule, which goes back to Clinton’s presidency. This rule makes it easy for companies to transfer cash from one country to another — i.e. from the higher-tax country where they’re actually doing business, to a tax haven in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.

Obama’s tax proposal will also make permanent the existing tax credit that companies are getting when they spend money on domestic research and development.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and some of America’s largest corporations are trying to derail this tax reform. What’d you expect?

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Afghanis and Pakistanis in London

This Newsweek article doesn’t take sides in the War on Terror. But if you’d like to take a short break from the one-dimensional images of religious fanatics and terrorists — these are the personal experiences and impressions of a Pakistani citizen who spent three months in London. The author was born in Afghanistan but his family fled to Pakistan in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

This article is long but fascinating. London’s South Asian immigrants really come alive here. Well-educated immigrants who fit right in with London, Taliban chickenhawks — you’ll meet them all.

The author struck up a friendship (or acquaintanceship anyway) with one of these Jihad Chickenhawks. This wannabe was 23 years old. Nine years ago his family had him smuggled out of Afghanistan and into England so he could be safe from the Taliban. The author says: “Now he's a legal resident, yet openly cheers for his supposed oppressors to defeat troops from his adopted homeland in Afghanistan. The irony seems lost on him.”

A lot of non-militant “normal” Afghani immigrants are scared shitless of these Taliban wannabes. Anyone who crosses them or gets in their way, is warned that if they still have family members back in Afghanistan, they might be paid a visit by the Taliban. Picture somebody named Vinnie or Luigi saying “I know people. I could make a few phone calls.” Only now, “Vinnie” has been changed to Hassan or Ahmad.

The same above-mentioned Taliban wannabe had a different way of ruining things for one fellow Afghani immigrant who was “assimilating” too well. This person was walking along with his English girlfriend, and the jihad wannabe went up to him and hollered at him for looking too “Western,” and threatened to tell his family back in Afghanistan that he was having a forbidden affair with one of those decadent Western women. At that point, his girlfriend broke off their relationship because she had been lied to. The Afghani had told her that he was from Turkey, and this run-in with the jihad wannabe had blown his cover.

The author also mentions racism and being marginalized as reasons for militancy among Afghani immigrants. Not that that justifies anything, but…

I was in London for two weeks in 1992, and I remember two minor — but very telling — incidents. They both happened on Brick Lane, a South Asian neighborhood in London’s East End.

I went into an Indian restaurant, and everything went quiet; there was this tension you could cut with a knife. As soon as I asked the waiter something (I guess he recognized my accent), he turned and said something to the rest of the patrons; I only picked out the word “American.” Immediately the tension evaporated and everybody started talking and chatting again.

In the other incident, I heard some Indian pop music booming out of a store, so I went in just to listen to it. (Yes, I like some of that Bollywood music, what can I say.) But as soon as I walked in, the owner turned the music off.

The British term “Paki Bashing” has been around since the early ‘70s, if not before. Those two incidents seemed to confirm all the rumors.

cross-posted at Bring It On!