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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
Dispatch / November 9, 2012
By Yasha Levine

On election day, I woke up before dawn, took a dip in the ocean, made coffee and worked until about noon, when I decided to get the thing over and go vote. I walked five blocks to my polling station, located in the lobby of the Santa Monica Shores apartment towers sitting right on the beach.

It was a warm clear Southern California day. Outside the polling station, long-stemmed palm trees swayed softly in the light ocean breeze.

I could see through the glass doors that there was a long line stretching diagonally across the lobby. I swung the doors open and didn’t take more than two steps inside when I was hit by a gut-wrenching smell–a musky, nauseating mix of rancid beer, rotten fruit and anchovies. The lobby was filled to the brim with pensioners—and one of them had a yeast infection that had gone rogue.

I remembered that smell very well. I became intimately familiar with it on a long  Greyhound bus trip I took across the Midwest a decade ago, during which I and a few dozen poor souls spent a whole night cooped up with a sick, obese woman suffering from a gnarly yeast infection in full bloom. I had plenty of time to ponder and try to figure out the source of that rancid smell as the bus made its way from Denver to St. Louis, and had my suspicions confirmed by a woman sitting one row over: “I think she got a bad yeast infection.” People started trying to figure out what the stench was and who it was coming from almost as soon as the bus got going and the AC system starting recirculating the air.

That bus ride took place many years ago, but the experience was seared into my memory forever. The low-level nausea, the claustrophobia, the helplessness . . . I bought a bottle of cheap wine at a truck stop and downed it to numb my senses and help me sleep . I remember dozing off into forgetful sleep and waking up suddenly, thinking it was all just a bad dream—and realizing that no, it was real and I still had many long, painful hours left to go.

These memories came rushing back to me as I waited for my turn to vote. The line moved slowly on account of all the confused, shuffling old people who had to be carefully herded into their voting booths. And the smell only got worse inside the cramped room where the voting was taking place, wafting in from a nearby booth and adding another layer of misery to the already depressing choices laid out in front of me on the ballot.

First there was a “choice” between incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein and some unknown Republican challenger who was in the race for purely self-promotional reasons. Senator Feinstein has been successfully using her position to enrich her financier husband Richard Bloom and her big business backers. She’s not going anywhere anytime soon—she’ll probably be there for life.  Then there’s Jerry Brown’s half-assed attempt to shore up California’s budget by imposing a regressive sales tax and boosting income tax rates on people making $250,000—which isn’t even that much in California’s major cities, especially if you’re raising a family. Here’s a tip to would-be populist pols: if you’re gonna tax the rich, then you should tax the rich—not working stiffs who have to show up to work everyday for a living. You’ll get a lot more support that way.

Looking at the various measures and propositions on the ballot, I saw nothing that had anything to do with the real-estate meltdown that’s still raging all across the state. Nor was there anything that would help the masses of unemployed. Instead, there’s a human sex trafficking state proposition designed to lock up illegal immigrants, and a Los Angeles County measure that’s trying to force condom use on San Fernando Valley’s porn industry. Yep, this is the kind of degenerate politics we’re dealing with here, folks.

The only votes I felt good about were the ones I cast against: a handful of ballot measures put in by various oligarchical forces. Just about all of them were in one way or another greased with Koch blood money, included the infamous Proposition 32 that was designed to destroy the ability of labor unions to raise money from their members. Proposition 31— although lesser known, was my personal favorite. You know how Republicans and libertarians are always screaming about the sanctity of states’ rights over the evil federal government? Well, this proposition, which was underwritten by a bunch of shady front groups and the “homeless” Burger King billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, was trying take the “rights” debate one level down. It wanted to give counties the constitutional right to ignore California’s strict environmental regulations. No joke. Next thing you know, they’ll be trying to convince us it’s all about “School District Rights” and “Neighborhood Watch Rights.” Then there was Proposition 33, an obscene measure funded by billionaire George Joseph, owner of Mercury Insurance. He dished out over $17 million—yes, 17!—of his loot on a simple proposition that was designed to do one thing: raise auto insurance rates on most California drivers.

The choice on these was easy—and felt good, too. I even forgot the fungal stench for a few moments while I was making sure to punch the right holes.

Having done my duty as a naturalized American citizen, I scrambled out of the lobby and into the cool beach air, breathing deeply to get the horrible smell out of my nose and lungs.

But the unpleasantness came flooding right back at night—after I started hitting the whisky heavily at home and then went out to a local bar to watch final election results.

Sure, Obama won. The Democrats made a few good gains in the Senate. A few Koch-funded Tea Party goons got booted hard from the House—that’s always good for a few feel-good moments. But on the whole, the election was a depressing spectacle, leaving us with the same old set of greedy technocratic hucksters. As I got drunker and drunker watching Wolf Blitzer and John King on mute present the elections results, parading the same bland prompt jockeys, trying to look dignified as they swiped and scratched at their gee-whiz blue and red maps . . . those Greyhound Bus memories kept getting stronger and stronger until there was nothing. I was back on that bus, forced to breath airborne vaginal yeast infection spores, fighting nausea at every breath. I closed my eyes and hurtled through darkness . . .

I woke up the next morning with a bad hangover and the following words scrawled on a piece of paper next to my bed:  “We’re still on the bus. No way out…suffocating…helplessness, claustrophobia…for four more years. Four more years. We’re gonna be on that bus….no getting off now.” Looking at the note, it was clear that I was severely inebriated on election night and, not unreasonably, must have convinced myself that the end had come. I was glad I no longer kept my .357 Magnum loaded and ready within easy reach of my bed, like I did in Victorville.

But the most important thing was that the yeast smell was gone and . . . as soon as I get over this nasty hangover, it’ll be time to get to work.

Yasha Levine is an editor of The eXiled and co-founder of the S.H.A.M.E. Project. Read his book: The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell.

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Add your own

  • 1. Raivo Pea  |  November 9th, 2012 at 3:08 am

    Glad you’re still with us and working, Yasha.

  • 2. Ticklemonster  |  November 9th, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Bad news, friend: You’re not on the bus for a mere four more years, you’re on indefinitely. As a fellow naturalized citizen, I too felt a compulsive fear driven decision to vote in this election but luckily I’m overseas.

    The good news is you can always purify yourself in the deathly blue Pacific as well as have condom-less sex as long as you’re not videotaping it.

    Good luck.

  • 3. A Silver Mt. Paektu  |  November 9th, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Breaking one of the AEC’s cardinal rules of commenting here, but fuck it.

    Couldn’t finish the article. Virtually had a rage-stroke when Yasha claimed that 250k a year “isn’t even that much…”

    Come the fuck on, man. I know you expect better from dumbshits like me, who don’t realize that shitting on the marginally welloff, but ultimately powerless, working stiffs isn’t gonna solve any of our problems. Pitting the guy who makes $40k against the guy who makes $250k, while the billionaires sit back and keep fucking both of them–yeah, that’s gonna do a lot for us.

  • 4. Worker  |  November 9th, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Yasha, you gave us a good write-up expressing what millions across the country felt.

    Note: This comment has been condensed for your reading pleasure!

    Where’s all the hope and enthusiasm that brought Obama into office? Some of us always knew, and many of us are finding out now, that it was the nationwide reaction to 8 years of the most hated president in our country’s history that got Obama in the White House.

    In 2008 Obama caught America off the rebound.

    Four years later, we have corporate whore #1 and corporate whore #2.

    And how did we react to this? Well, a lot of people just stayed home and said fuck it; that’s why, despite a significant growth in the number eligible voters, the number of people voting fell by 11 million, and why Obama got 9 million fewer votes than he did in 2008. Others, like yourself, held their noses and pulled the level, and many tried to will away the stench of rotting democracy with that bullshit “lesser of two evils” argument; you know, the one that’s been preventing an independent political movement for over a century?

    And, ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. Either be defeatist, which, for the hucksters, is as good as a mandate, or break with both parties and do the long, unforgiving, and thankless task of getting out there, talking to people, engaging them, and showing them that their discontent and their rage can be channeled into a new movement.

    And you may never see it flourish in your life time, and that’s ok because you did your part carrying on the legacy of an independent political movement and passing it down to the next generation.

    Also, I will refrain from telling the eXile how to run its business. Second, I will remember to flatter and praise the eXile more often, and to contribute money to their noble cause.

    The eXiled has lifted my consciousness and helped me to understand how bought off our leaders are – but we must not draw defeatist conclusions from that reality. We have to engage, we have to care – but we have to break with these hucksters.

  • 5. jimmy james  |  November 9th, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Haha, you’re laying on the Hunter S. Thompson pretty thick there at the end, but it’s a HST world we’re living in.

    Anyway, good luck and keep up the good fight. You know what they say. When live gives you yeast, bake a wretched bread

  • 6. DrunktnkDan  |  November 9th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    FKR’s hangover cure:
    One bottle of Oxygen.
    One IV of saline solution.
    3, possibly 4 bloody bulls (a bloody mary with beef bullion)
    Difficult to acquire on short notice, sure, but you can expect to feel reasonably better, given the circumstances.

  • 7. Cum  |  November 9th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    California voting: Pass a few shitty propositions, prevent the passage of a few really shitty propositions. I’ve been living out of state for a while so I don’t know how bad the corporate propaganda was around election time, but I’m pretty amazed that the food-labeling of GMOs proposition would pass. And it turns out I should have been more skeptical of the new sex offender law, I just thought that Peace and Freedom Party (helps me decide on proposition voting) was taking up one of their nuttier positions.

    Yeah, I know Peace and Freedom Party is a bit wacko, but the SF Chronicle voting guide is too pro-corporate so I needed something to balance it out.

  • 8. Galtic Warrior  |  November 9th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Mark Ames, The Mason’s have controlled this country from the beginning. Notice the death’s of non Masonic presidents or those who lost favor, and the shuffling of the vice presidents to get them in the position of takeover before the presidents were killed or removed?

    Note also the number of presidential running mates who lost the race for presidency were Masons also. A win win situation regardless of the outcome of the election. Another interesting fact to consider is that of the 37 Presidents of the United States before Jimmy Carter, at least 18 or 21 (depending on which source you believe) were close relatives. That comes to somewhere between 48.6 percent and 56.7 percent-far to much to be coincidence, as any conspiritologist (or mathematician) would tell you. Of the 224 ancestors in the family tree of 21 Presidents, we find 13 Roosevelt’s, 16 Coolidge’s, and 14 Tyler’s. Another source manages to relate 60 percent of the Presidents and link most of them to the super-rich Astor family.

    And only one force stands against these vast shadowy oligarchies. Well, actually two. The spirit of Yahuah– the TRUE NAME of the creator, instead of the false Gods to his name, which are man made, and embraced by GOVERNMENTS. And the impenetrable, stalwart creativity of the human spirit: commerce!

    So when you bad mouth Sheldon Edelson for creating porous amounts of wealth for society, just remember…….we need an excuse to attack Iran….

    There are some hints hidden in the scriptures: Revelation >>>9:11<<< They had a king over them, the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon" The 'angel' of the Abyss (Hell) is really the chief demon whose name is Abaddon. Masons claim then, that the deity they worship is Abaddon!

  • 9. howard  |  November 9th, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Divided power has always been a cover for oligarchy. The poor will continue to be trampled on until they have an advocate who is free to pass law directly from the top.

  • 10. J. Mengele, M.D.  |  November 9th, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Yasha, dude! Most male yeast infections like yours are easily treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments, such as Monistat, Bensal HP, Blis-to-Sol, Extina, Nizoral, Tinactin, Zeasorb, Spectazole, Vusion, Loprox, Lotrium AF,Oxistat,Xolegel, Pedi-Dry,Penlac, Micon 7,Lamisil, Ertaczo, Dermagram AF,Absorbine Jr, Aftate, Aloe Vesta, Baza Antifungal, Canesten, Ciclodan Kit, Cruex, Desenex, Dr. Scholl’s,Elon Dual Defense, Exelderm, Fungatin, Fungi-Guard, FungiCURE Pump, Fungizone, Fungoid,Genaspor, Gordochom, Halotex, Hongos, Iodo Plain, Ketodan, Kuric, Loprox TS,M-Zole Dual Pack, Micatin, Micro-Guard, Miranel, Mitrozol, Mycelex, Mycostatin, Naftin MP, NP 27,Nyamyc, Nystop,Ony-Clear, Pediaderm AF,Pedipirox-4,Podactin, Protectol, Q-Naftate, Secura, Tetterine,Tinaderm, Tinamar, Tinaspore, Ting,Trifungol, Undelenic, Versiclear, Whitfields, Xolegel Duo, and my own personal fav, baking soda and JP4 served in a styrofoam to-go doggie box from the Han Dynasty. God damn, what a rush! Fine products such as these not only remove an inconvenient tell-tale stench, but plenty of dried, or otherwise putrid, skin cells. You owe it to yourself. Take that test drive today. Then plop back down on the old Victorville futon and watch a little Price is Right.

  • 11. COCKZONE  |  November 10th, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    naturally u also thought of YEASTMAN and his yeastcock yeswe will turn the power of the yeast againsgt them by infecting their women and boyz with resistant strains

    lol have fun living b y the beach in boboville you scum

  • 12. Cum  |  November 10th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    To correct an earlier typo: I don’t know how people were so dumb that the GMO labeling proposition DIDN’T pass. I guess some silly-billy dumdums were told that requiring an extra label on food packaging would raise taxes, I mean why else would people willingly endorse the position “no, I wan’t to be a less-informed consumer.”

  • 13. Ticklemonster  |  November 10th, 2012 at 2:20 pm


    Matters not. The GMO labeling proposition passing would have been too close to indicting someone, somewhere within the Ag corpo-circle jerk of poisoning the masses.

    Anyone who thinks they have power as consumers are in too deep to be saved.

    Fuck it, live like a Buddhist monk. Eat walnuts, prunes and drink your own piss.

  • 14. Paula Broadwell  |  November 11th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Fungatin has always worked for me, especially in embed,surge, and ‘all-in’ situations. With Fungatin, no more need for messy cucumbers or rabid gerbils.

  • 15. Galtic Warrior  |  November 12th, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Hahaha, Mark Ames. Is that a MCDONALDS AD I see!?

    Those evil, exploitative corporations aren’t evil if THEY’RE PAYING your server bill, ARE THEY?

  • 16. Krokodile  |  November 13th, 2012 at 2:24 am

    I am another naturalized shit-is-in. I left my moldy, cockroach infested apartment in the Bronx and hope not to come back for a long while more like forever. That’s why I didn’t vote. I picked a country diametrically opposite USA on a globe and moved here. I’m not averse to voting but I was ridiculed and bullied so much by retards who claim that voting in USA is some special moron’s privilege that I simply don’t give a fuck who runs that country, where I am its shitizin’ski.

  • 17. darthfader  |  December 19th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Wow, Levine, shifted the debate – Obama now thinks those between $250,000 and $400,000 shouldn’t pay more taxes.

  • 18. わひでう  |  July 11th, 2013 at 3:04 am

    I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check ag

  • 19. Jacob S. Silverman  |  April 17th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    “greased with Koch blood money…” Sorry, but I am not quite in agreement with this. I would like to know just how many of the rich are getting rich through blood money projects. Would it only be the Koch bros? Or would 90% of the wealthy be guilty of something, if you want to ask who is guilty of what. It is a very big question and not something to just throw off in a comment so flippantly. Thank you for not forcing or farcing me to put all the details into the second comment box I have made out today…

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