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A Sailor’s Daughter Discusses “Salty Language”

Crossing the line

Chris Bowers  headed to the fainting couch yesterday when Eric Massa violated his delicate sensibilities.  Massa recounted his days at sea and talked about the Crossing the Line ceremony for sailors who cross the equator for the first time.

My dad was one of those guys who crossed the line, having spent most of the Vietnam War at sea.  He was no typical squid.   He was a serious, family guy (or so we think).  He never swore.  When his ship was in port, we would sometimes go onboard and check the place out.  Those ships were labyrinthine places with lots of chutes and ladders that sailors would slide down on their elbows.   The food was pretty good, especially when my dad was in charge of the mess.  The sleeping quarters were tidy but cramped with narrow metal bunks  riveted onto the wall and stacked three bunks high.  Forget privacy.  People were coming and going at all times of the day and night as they finished their shifts and climbed into bed.  That’s where my dad lived for 8 months at a time while we lived in relative luxury at home.

Dad filmed a crossing the line ceremony once.  The film had that garish coloring of the home movie and was shot on a brilliantly sunny day somewhere in the Pacific.  What I remember of this hazing ritual was that the fattest sailor on the ship was dressed up like King Triton.  A bucket of something vile and disgusting was brought out and smeared on his belly.  The polliwogs were forced to crawl on their knees to the King and kiss his belly.  There were attendants to the king dressed up in drag with stringy blonde wigs.  My little sister and I were grossed out and fascinated at the same time.  Did our daddy have to do that too?  Ehh, by the time the film was shot, my dad was a veteran of such affairs.

We’re pretty sure that a shipful of males in the prime of their lives in the middle of nowhere on an endless sea communicate in a lot of salty language.  They must have gone nuts.  People are social animals.  They need family and friends and physical touch.  I can’t  imagine spending eight months at sea and never deliberately touching another human being.  I’m betting that my dad had some stories to tell, although I’ve heard that the really kinky sailors are on subs.  Even sailors like my dad were wary of them.   It’s different these days because life shipboard is not exclusively male.  Back when my dad was a sailor, it was the path for lower middle class guys to learn something and get ahead.  That’s probably why stories like Massa’s seem so foreign to the Chris Bowers and Josh Marshall’s of the world.  They can’t fathom what it’s like to be a poor working class guy stuck on s flat gray hunk of metal in the middle of the ocean months away from their wife and kids.

Eric Massa is an extrovert.  He looks like he’s a bit of a loose cannon as well.  I kinda like that about him.  And his stories of life aboard ship are going to resonate well with a lot of working class guys who took a similar route in life.  Maybe Massa can shake things up a bit while he has some face time with the public.  What does he have to lose at this point in time?  His leadership has apparently made an international incident out of something that took place at a wedding reception when he behaved like a drunken sailor and got carried away.  He regrets his behavior as unbecoming of a congressman, as well he should.  But if Massa were the standard for politicians, then Cheney should have been thrown out of office for telling a Senator to go fuck himself, Newt Gingrich would never be taken seriously again for getting blowjobs in his car from a staffer, and Jim Bunning would be publicly reprimanded for giving reporters the finger last week.  Let’s not pretend that Washington is a place where every day is a cotillion.  There are a lot worse sins than Massa’s and harrassment cases a lot more straightforward and unambiguous.

Bowers and Marshall reveal their revulsion of working class people when they get all fluttery over Massa’s life as a sailor.  But more than that, they reflexively smear a Democrat who challenges authority.  They get all nervous when a Democrat doesn’t conform.  They repeat the smears of Democratic leadership without reflection.  Does what Massa did rise to the level of impeachment?  Was it really harrassment?  Or is this a case of a guy who won’t stay in the lines and therefore must be punished? I really wish the A listers would stop and think about what they’re doing for a change.  Their initial reason for being was to stand outside the status quo.  Now, they are the status quo and carrying the water of the type of people they once railed against.

So, Eric Massa is going up to 11.  While I don’t particularly care for Glenn Beck, no publicity at this point is bad publicity.  Eric has nothing to lose.  Go for it, Eric.  Give’em hell.

And Chris Bowers can go frak himself.

68 Responses

  1. So glad you wrote this! I am sure operatives haven been given the word on this one, I saw in B0botland some former Clarkies (now koolaid guzzlers) taking him apart. I also noticed checking up the tabloids today that only in Buffalo is his story on page one. Everyone else is on the message – reminding me of a headline in Politico yesterday:
    “President Obama warns staff: Ignore palace intrigue”
    A bit hard to obey when Chicago politics are bursting into public view all over the place, but they surely are having the media do it.
    Today’s tabloids

    • Random prediction:

      National Enquirer will win the Pulitzer for their story on John Edwards.


      Because this would be the establishment’s way of getting NE close to itself, and shutting it up. So that they won’t cover similar (meaning inconvenient and against standard talking points) stories in future.

      • Apparently John Edwards will soon be facing a federal indictment for using campaign funds to cover his tracks. It is always the cover up isn’t it.

        • Well, I’d like to join a class action suit to get my campaign donations to him back.
          Yes, I am one of the fools who fell for the old time populism.
          In my defense, Kucinich was my first choice and Hillary was my final choice.
          John was one very big lie. ( an in cahoots with O , IMHO)

  2. watching the tv news, seems Gibbs, et al are trying to paint Massa as nuts…

    “wuht? us engage in thuggery? you must be lying or crazy…”

    pretty slick.

    • Sick is more like it. Obama walks in Nixon’s shoes. Yeah, Obama’s change was retro!

      • Just the thought of Rahm Emmanuel, butt naked with it flappin back and forth as he walked, rushing up to this guy and poking his finger in his chest over political issues, makes me shudder.

        If the question is, hypothetically, is Rahm Emmanuel capable of such a thing? Probably.

      • “why isn’t the White House simply ignoring him?”

        They don’t ignore anyone-Palin, Gov Paterson, Limbaugh, FOX, and on.

        It shows a level of immaturity that diminishes the office POTUS.

  3. Even Fox is buying into the “he’s nuts” line. I think the timeline on this story is really interesting. 1st Massa apparently said he was resigning because of a reoccurrence of cancer; then the staffer story emerges; then he talks about the thuggery. It also emerges that if he resigns his vote is subtracted from the number needed by Pelosi to move the house to adopt the Senate bill. I think all of that could be true but slightly different.

    Here is my speculation. They tell him they are going to drag him through the mud over the staffer charge (btw I have yet to see that staffer identified). He agrees to bow out to avoid the publicity. He uses the cancer story; makes the announcement. The staffer story leaks. He acknowledges it; says he will resign Monday. As it gets more air, he is pissed because he knows he has been screwed. He decides to get even.

    This is a really dirty WH and 0 shows the leadership traits all of us abhorred in the primaries—he allows and encourages a world of dirt and slime while he appears to be above it all. Mr. White Guy, above it all while he is in fact at the center of it and the prime perpetrator.

    • Interesting speculation, and one I share. O thinks he’s Mr. Clean. Once the Dems lose the House in the fall, I predict a huge onslaught of “Obama on the Couch” books.

  4. Excellent post, RD!! I totally agree. I had to laugh when I read that Bowers post yesterday. Come on, give me a break. Does Bowers really believe the rest of Congress is much more “genteel” than Massa? After Cheney told Leahey to go f*ck himself on the Senate floor?

    I love that Massa is letting it all hang out. He has nothing to lose at this point anyway. They pushed him too hard and now he’s making the Chicago boys look like a bunch of thugs, which is exactly what they are.

  5. But why Beck, who is no different from Limbaugh. It’s like joing up with the Republican funded and engineered tea party network. What good could come from that.

    • Don’t forget that Massa represents a district that is still basically Republican. Lots of his constituents probably watch FOX.

    • Where else is he going to go and not immediately be painted as nuts per Dem leadership talking points?

    • I wish it wasn’t with Beck, but I wonder if it’s the only place where he could get the full hour and therefore not be edited/framed a certain way.

    • I will put money on it that Glenn Beck will go out of his way to make Massa look crazy…..

    • When you’ve been stabbed in the back by the Dem elites, where else can you go that will hurt them most? I plan to watch and see what happens.

    • I wondered the same thing but then realized that Fox is probably the only channel that will give Massa a chance to defend himself. The rest of the MSM is in Obamaganda’s pocket.

    • Larry King announced last night that Massa was scheduled to appear tonight on the King show. So Beck will have him first, but Massa is making the rounds.

      I wish he had been able to stay in place rather than resign. We need Dems standing up in Congress and blowing the lid off this mess. Otherwise, it’s not simply the Democratic Party at risk. It’s the entire country being sucked into the sink hole. I’m not even sure we can pull out of the nosedive [Chris Hedges has another essay up a Truthdig; he thinks it’s all over but the funeral].

      Even so, we have no chance at all unless some of these damn politicians have the guts to stand up and fight the Big Lie, which is strangling the entire system.

      I’ll be listening to Massa tonight, both venues, even though it’s hard to tune in Beck. He’s going to face hellfire for this. But that’s something to admire!

    • This is from Michelle Malkin

      Don’t trust Democrat Rep. Eric Massa any further than you can throw him.

      He’s been a progressive zealot and political opportunist his entire career. He’s claimed conspiracy before, is intimately bonded with the nutroots, and climbed the political ladder with backing from the odious, anti-war-hoaxer-embracing Gen. Wesley Clark. What Massa dismissively calls his “salty old sailor” talk should raise bright red flags about possible longstanding predatory behavior.

      He’s the jerk who gave the figurative middle finger to his own constituents as he proclaimed last year that he would ram single-payer down their throats no matter what they thought

      It’s the best recommendation there is

  6. Bravo!!! Thank you for this.

  7. Maybe I’m completely off base with this, but I’ve read the account of Massa’s supposed indiscretion several times and I keep coming around to the notion that Massa seemed to be calling out the pig at the wedding who suggested that Massa should be “frakking” the woman he was dancing with. Am I wrong here? It sounds to me like some @$$hole said, “Hey, you should be frakking her…” and Massa said, “Oh yeah? Maybe I should be frakking you!”

    I have to say, if this is what went down, I love the guy for it. It sounds like he was calling attention to the other guy’s boorish behavior in a very direct manner.

    • janice, I wondered the same.

    • I agree! The whole thing stinks to high heaven, IMO.

    • That’s what it sounded like to me too.

    • On the dot! I’ve been in Massa’s situation and my reaction was not quite the same but it was similar. I was cold stone sober when I told the “other guy” that maybe he should go engage the lady in question in the conversation. I suffered no fallout but then I’m not in DC fighting the Obots. In normal America, this crap happens everyday and nobody makes, literally, a federal case out of it. It’s called boorish behavior.

    • “I have to say, if this is what went down, I love the guy for it. It sounds like he was calling attention to the other guy’s boorish behavior in a very direct manner.”

      That’s exactly how I see it. It’s unfortunate that it was so easy for the neolib Dems to turn it around on him and claim he was making “inappropriate advances,” i.e. that he’s gay, when his real sin, in their eyes anyway, is being one of the last real liberals left.

      BTW, I’ve just come from the DU, where there are multiple threads attacking Dennis Kucinich for the same reason.

    • That’s what I read, janicen. There were lewd comments being made about one of the bridesmaids, after which Massa made the comment to the aide. The comment was repeated and, like the telephone game when we were kids, changed in the telling until it was reported to the Ethics Committee [how convenient].

      I think the Dem leadership realizes how explosive this story is. They’re already attempting to destroy the man’s credibilty–he’s crazy, vindictive, off his gourd. It all depends on how Massa comes across on Beck’s and King’s shows tonight. If he comes across as credible, I think the damage will be significant. What I’d really like to see are others coming to his defense and confirming his basic stand against the corruption and rot that has infected the entire system.

      Otherwise, we’re in a death spiral with little hope of pulling out.

      • Peggy — I think the same.

        I read Pelosi who basically said that Massa’s delusional because of his cancer! These thugs will stop at nothing. I’m increasingly ashamed to even admit I was a Democrat, but then I remember this is NOT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY BUT “THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY.” whew!

  8. I am curious about the “senior staffer” who reported it to Hoyer. He was apparently not directly involved in the matter. I want to know what he has been offered for future employement and who he previously worked for – congressman/woman, committees, lobbyists, etc.

    I looked at his political donations and he maxed out (if it is the same guy) to Obama.

    • It’s amazing how quickly the ethics committee jumped on this. How long have they been “investigating” Rangel?

      I don’t know Rep. Massa, but something ain’t right. Recall the sealed documents in Illinois that saw the light of day so BO could make his claim on the senator seat?

  9. Beautiful! Great blog, RD – thanks so much for writing it!

    I’m surrounded by military vets as well as active reservists in both the army and navy. Salty doesn’t begin to describe our Bourbon Sundays, (a summertime tradition) or extended family gatherings up in northern MI.

    Politically, we’re an across the spectrum bunch, from right-wingers, through moderate progressives and right over to the far left. And all of ’em salty as hell – even the wimmen.

    @janicen – yup, that’s exactly how I read it too. And good for Eric.

    What’s making me crazy is all the crap I’m seeing about the “timeline.” As in, “first he’s not running for re-election because of his health” – which by the way is a very real and concrete issue that keeps getting lost in all this – then, “then he’s resigning because he doesn’t want his family put through an ethics investigation,” and finally, “now he says he’s being rail-roaded.”

    Well – yes. These people are knee-jerking at headlines, and not paying attention.
    Day one: Eric announces he’s stepping down, not running, health issues.
    Day two: Someone mentions ethics investigation; Eric is fully aware of an investigation involving a fund-raising letter which had his name attached. Not informed of anything else.
    Day three: Eric finds out about the alleged “sexual harassment” charge on, of all places, the internet. Figures it was his language. Cause sometimes, working in Congress can piss you off.
    Day four: Gets more detail, remembers the wedding. Where in he (via Janicen’s adroit analysis) “[…calls attention] to the other guy’s boorish behavior in a very direct manner.”

    There it is.

    As far as the people who decry him saying, “well, if he’s done nothing wrong, why retire?”

    My guess is that these people have never been the victim of a night of long knives. At the mercy of a politically charged scenario that goes right to the heart of the halls of power? You wanna sit back and let them slice and dice you? These people can and will do and say anything they damn well please.

    Sticking to his guns, sure, it’s an option. But it’s a losing battle. I think he’s making the exact right choice.

    And I look forward to him skewering the hell out of these corrupt Chicago Pols over the next couple of days. Glory be that we’re early in the newsweek cycle. I couldn’t be more pleased. I just hope his health holds steady. Because that’s what’s really at stake here.

    Eric Massa is a force of nature. You cannot be in a crowded room with the man, and not feel he is there. Just one of those people who exudes energy and spits fire. The precise type of person I want to see shaking up the status quo.

    Go get ’em Eric. Godspeed, good will. And thank you.

  10. Glenn Beck’s terrible but I think it’s smart of Massa to use his show. Better for a Dem to face a hostile Beck than a hostile MSNBCer. I HOPE Beck is hostile. Clearly Massa can take care of himself, it’ll make a better show and get more play afterwards.

    Give ’em hell Massa, and tell every little bit there is to tell about the Chicago Thugs.

    I’ll be tuned in, that’s for sure.

  11. Knowing that a lot of so-called liberals are blasting Eric with their hate, I think it would be nice for him to receive some letters of support. Please consider letting him know he’s not alone.


    The email link is below all the phone numbers.

  12. @jangles

    Must have glossed over your analysis of timeline before, just saw it now.

    Yup. I think you’re onto it.

    I really hope Eric gets a chance to talk about these seeming discrepancies. Hopefully, he’ll just be calm, cool and collected. (Not holding breath – cause that man is pissed off. Don’t blame him.)

    • I can understand that Massa would decide to resign rather than be smeared with “the investigation”. However, given this I don’t understand why he is going the route he is now going. If he is willing to call the WH out why not stay and cast the vote. I don’t doubt pressure was applied but there is still something fishy about this.

      • Whatever it is, hopefully it will all become a bit clearer after a couple of days.

        Just imagine the levels to which they could take this. Eric may be a firebrand, but he’s not superhuman.

        Right now I’m just going to wait and see.

      • Also, it’s the House Ethics Committee, not the Spanish Inquisition. They don’t have the power to do much of anything to him except–worse case scenario, expel him. I could buy that he was trying to avoid having this stuff discussed publicly, except he sure doesn’t seem like a shrinking violet and he’s out there on a media blitz happily bringing out other inappropriate incidents, like when his roommate in the navy complained about him. So it doesn’t seem like he fears bad publicity.

      • methinks his family was threatened. A death threat to him would be like lipstick on a pig.

  13. However, given this I don’t understand why he is going the route he is now going.
    Just a guess but maybe a combination of health issues and the costs (time, money, emotional, etc.) of defending himself. Because he is an advocate of single payer and opposed to Cap & Trade and other corporate welfare scams, he is a problem for both parties. When you are trashed by Michelle Malkin and reviled by Bowers and Obots, Massa must be perceived as a huge threat to “big money”.

    • Personally, I think having the combination of Malkin and Bowers against him adds to his credibility.

      • Exactly my thoughts! Both Malkin and Bowers support their relative “political establishments” via their blogs… if they are both against someone that is very telling indeed! Wonder what congressional wheeling & dealing the Republican establishment is trying to hide… which is why I am not surprised he chose Glenn Beck for his revelations… he is the most visible “anti-establishment” pundit on Fox (and yes I know thats a schtick and not necessarily reality).

      • I agree…Malkin and Bowers, et al are, at a fundamental level, the same. The fact that Massa has p*ssed them both off says a lot.

        The realization that became apparent to me during the primary was that the Rove/Bush-bots and the Axelrod/Obots had the same fundamental mental processes and that this country was f*cked.

  14. Right On! Speak Massa! Speak!!

    I think of Glenn as the “research dept” & megaphone 4 histories little lessons we “don’t want to forget”

    I appreciate it actually cuz I hated History class as a kid. He saves me a lot of time on google!

    • Glenn Beck’s reading of history is warped, although google probably would turn up some pretty warped stuff too.

    • I just hope Massa can stay calm and tell his story without passion….otherwise, the media will jump on the passion and get more mileage from the crazy man angle.

  15. It makes me wonder if Massa’s very public stand for “single Payer” heath reform is the reason for this cornering and bashing him. When O ,right up front, said single payer is off the table, I looked at who benefited. Not the Joe and Jane of America, that’s for sure.
    Single Payer advocates must be tarred and feathered and called crazy and marginalized.

    Who benefits?

  16. I find it interesting that Massa and Kucinich, from different wings of the Democratic caucus (Massa used to be a Repub), are the ones not afraid to speak their minds, vote their conscience, care about long term fiscal responsibility, advocate for single payer, and stand up to corporate oligopolies. They both seem uninterested in the legacy two-party political establishment. Speaking truth to power is more important to them than faux partisan ideologies. We are more than a year into this administration. Progressives who still insist on defending Obama are now part of the establishment. No more excuses.

  17. Last night “Two and a Half Men” had a scene featuring two elder retired sailor buds, one white, one black, now living together (both widowers after 40+ years of hetero marriage) and queening it up totally. Outrageously funny, in the disgusting way of that show.

  18. Glenn Beck continues to jump the shark.

    I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them…are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, the idea – hang on, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!

  19. Unnamed sources tell WaPo Massa groped his staffers:

    Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) has been under investigation for allegations that he groped multiple male staffers working in his office, according to three sources familiar with the probe.

    According to two sources familiar with the probe, Massa’s former deputy chief of staff Ron Hikel provided the information about the staffers’ allegations to the House ethics committee three weeks ago. Hikel had earlier sought advice from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office about brewing internal complaints, the sources said, and had been urged to report the allegations to the committee.

    Hikel, reached at his home Tuesday, declined to comment on the ethics investigation.

    • The village circling their wagons. This is going to get ugly. Just hope it doesn’t end up being about what was said or wasn’t said by two naked men in the Congressional showers.

    • hmmmm… this certainly adds another dimension to his encounter with Rahm Emmanuel in the shower.

  20. Meanwhile, back on the message, a little kabuki show for the naive

  21. New post up on the new sexual harrassment charges against Massa.

  22. None of it matters to them: Rasmussen

    Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters say the health care reform plan now working its way through Congress will hurt the U.S. economy.

    A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% think the plan will help the economy. But only seven percent (7%) say it will have no impact. Twelve percent (12%) aren’t sure.

    Two-out-of-three voters (66%) also believe the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats is likely to increase the federal deficit. That’s up six points from late November and comparable to findings just after the contentious August congressional recess. Ten percent (10%) say the plan is more likely to reduce the deficit and 14% say it will have no impact on the deficit.

    Underlying this concern is a lack of trust in the government numbers. Eighty-one percent (81%) believe it is at least somewhat likely that the health care reform plan will cost more than official estimates. That number includes 66% who say it is very likely that the official projections understate the true cost of the plan.

  23. Just watched Glen Beck’s entire hour with Massa. I thought Massa came off looking bad. Not because of what he said but what he didn’t say. Did he really think Beck would give him the entire hour in exchange for the inconsequential information he delivered? Shows he doesn’t understand how things work. It’s all or nothing. He was invited there to dish and he didn’t; which made him look naive and stupid.

    At the end, Beck apologized to his audience for wasting their time. I felt like I wasted my time, since I don’t watch Beck with any regularity and usually give that hour over to the local newscast. It’s just as well that he’s gone, he’s not ready for prime time.

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