Friday, July 22, 2016



            What a long, strange trip it's been...

            From Lincoln to Trump, and in less time than it takes some species to evolve.

            I just watched the Repubs wrap up their dead fish of a convention, and can't tell whether or not to add locks to the doors, or join their lynch mob as a means of self-defense.

            Ivanka Trump, The Donald's least slutty looking daughter, introduced her father to America and the assembled delegates with a speech probably lifted from Chelsea Clinton or Tricia Nixon... we've yet to hear from the fact-checkers who watch for such things. In her speech, entitled "Bestest Daddy Ever!", Ivanka talked at length about how her dad insisted upon taking the advice of the commoners involved in his construction projects. To hear her tell it, The Donald would rather hang around with sweaty non-union construction workers than eat pizza with a knife and fork in his penthouse. Not only that, but her daddy worries about this generation of kids graduating from college with overwhelming student loan debt.

             I had to pause my live TV when she said that.

             Are we talking about the same "Daddy" who instructed his salesmen to squeeze every possible dime out of potential students of his bogus Trump University scam? That guy? The one who's being sued in multiple states for ripping off victims of his pretend "university"?


Anyway, Trump came out and screamed at America for an hour, and by all accounts rarely departed from the words scrolling by on his teleprompter. Because we all know what happens when Donald starts to shoot from the lip. He says batshit crazy things. Things he has to deny saying, when asked about them later.  Like when he tells a reporter that America might not honor its commitments to NATO, and how we might have to check the payment ledger before we decide to defend an ally that's a little behind on the rent.  

The good news for the country is that it's finally over. The four night reality show has ended, and they're probably scooping up the elephant shit in Cleveland and dumping it into the water supply, which will probably improve the taste.

How fitting that the Grand Old Party confirmed their impending extinction by nominating Donald J. Trump the same night that Roger Ailes and his dirty little wiggley fingers (hats off to Patty Griffin for the lyric) was escorted out of the Faux News office. The guy who's done more to ruin political discourse in America is fired just as the most hateful fear mongering narcissist in American political history acquires the Republican nomination for President.

 There's something poetic about that.

              It's all well and good to spout off for the benefit of your friends, to rant about the government and the liberal mainstream media. It's fine to flip a finger toward all of society, and to cast your vote for someone who has no business running a beauty pageant, much less America.
              But when the dust settles and everyone is being held accountable for their actions (or their unwillingness to stand up against bigotry and hatred), your actions will be remembered.
               How do you want to be remembered?

               Ask around and see how many of George Wallace's supporters from 1968 are willing to admit to their bigotry today. He had millions of people supporting him for president at the time, and a lot of those people are still with us, sitting in front of their televisions watching Faux News and shaking their walking canes at the screen whenever Hillary or Obama are on camera. How many of them are willing to admit to it today?

               None of 'em.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

THE DRY HEAVES REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVULSION (lots of noise, but nothing useful is coming up...)

              A few months ago, the prospect of heavily armed, drunken Republicans standing their ground in crowded conditions at the Cleveland Convention Center had me programming my DVR to record the carnage. I figured there would be some sort of uprising by Trump supporters after the RNC found a way to subvert his nomination... because surely, for Christ's sake, they'd find a way to keep Donald J. Trump from being the standard bearer for the Republican Party in this election. Surely!

              But apparently I was way wrong. Not only has the Republican National Committee resigned itself to a fate not unlike that of lemmings who are determined to throw themselves off the bluff above the ocean, but those attending the convention aren't packing heat. In fact, other than a Norovirus outbreak within the California delegation, there hasn't been much in the way of excitement from the convention floor at all.

              Oh sure, they had a mini revolt on Day One when certain factions of delegates tried to change some of the parliamentary rules for future conventions. But that effort was snuffed like a pesky fly annoying folks at a picnic. That was followed by an outstanding list of speakers lined up to address the convention: a guy who does duck calls for a living... an actor who used to play a minor character on Happy Days... a soap opera guy who called Obama a Muslim... some guy named Rudy who I think played football for Notre Dame?... and an original speech by Donald Trump's third trophy wife Melania, which turned out to have been stolen from the current First Lady.

              To tell you the truth, I wasn't all that upset about Melania's theft of Michelle Obama's speech. I was more offended that she chose to steal Jerry Seinfeld's Puffy Shirt design for her outfit:

"But I don't WANT to be a pirate!"                 

               The accusations of plagiarism got all of the attention, and ate up the entire news cycle. Not because the theft of identical passages from Michelle Obama's speech in 2008 was so blatant (even though it was), but because the campaign's handlers insisted nothing at all had been plagiarized. The people running the Trump campaign seem to be in lock step with their candidate's penchant for denying out and out lies, even when proof to the contrary is overwhelming. They just insist you didn't hear what you just heard, and dare you to contradict their version of reality. Instead of being a ten minute "Oops. Somebody goofed. Our bad." moment, it became the focus of the nation's press and social media for an entire day.

                 We were so upset about this soft core magazine porn model's stolen words that we didn't even acknowledge the fact that one of our drones had accidentally murdered fifty or sixty innocent people north of Manbij, Syria. "Nothing to see here, folks... Say, what about that plagiarism thing, eh?"

                  Anyway, the Republican National Convultion continued with Day Two, which featured no attempted coups from disgruntled delegates, no riots in the streets outside the hall, and nothing worth talking about coming from the podium.  I had expected more fireworks from this dumpster fire of a campaign... I mean, couldn't they waterboard a Muslim, or something?  I turned it off when it looked as if Ben Carson was going to start singing karaoke of Sinatra hits.

                  So The Donald is now officially the nominee of the Republican Party. GOP elites are shunning this convention as if a deadly pathogen might be spreading among those attending the event, and the national press is covering it with the fading hope that something- indeed ANYTHING- newsworthy might emerge from the train wreck.

                   Day Three should be about as dull as Day Two. We can count on seeing Donald Trump making yet another appearance. The guy can't stand it when cameras are pointed at other people, even his own kids, so he has to find a way to get the focus back on himself whenever possible. He'll show up tonight- a day early- and soak it all in. You can almost watch his throbbing libido become turgid with excitement as the sheeple chant his name.

                   They'll wrap this dead fish up on Thursday night with even more pomp, and everyone will beat a path out of Cleveland as if the river's on fire. Ohio's Governor Kasich has been shunned by the Trump campaign, so expect Trump supporters to salt the earth on their way out of town... not that anything would grow there, anyway.

                   And in a few days Hillary's coronation will begin. Protesters will swarm to the event in a last ditch effort to put Bernie on the throne, Elizabeth Warren will speak and remind everyone of what a great candidate SHE would have been, and the talking heads will prattle on about the A-list of celebrities in attendance. Don't look for anyone from Happy Days or Duck Dynasty to get a prime time speaking slot. 

                   But it's not all bad news this week. I hear Roger Ailes is being ousted at Faux News.


Friday, July 15, 2016

I WISH THERE WERE NO MUSLIMS (thoughts after yet another act of terror...)

              I know that's an inflammatory blog title. But I meant every word of it.

              I really do wish there were no Muslims on this planet.

              I also wish there were no Baptists. Or Mormons. Or Jehovah's Witnesses. Or Buddhists. Or Hindus. Or Methodists. Or Catholics. Or Jews. Or Presbyterians. Or Lutherans. Or Church of Christ-ers. Or any other goddamn religious people you can think to name.

              In short, I'd like to see all religious belief treated for what it actually is: mental illness.

              Don't get me wrong. I don't want anything terrible to happen to Muslims, or Baptists, or Mormons, or Jews, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, or Church of Christ-ers. I'd just like for them to wake up tomorrow morning with a newfound sense of reality. A reality that recognizes the absurdity of their religion's tenets. A reality that demands empirical evidence and scientific confirmation instead of blind acceptance based on nothing other than faith. A reality that tells folks there's nothing wrong with accepting that life on this planet is precious, but not preordained by an imaginary god behind the curtain.

               I'd like to see an entire planet of wide-eyed atheists tomorrow morning, and every morning thereafter.

               Something tells me there would be fewer mindless terror attacks, civil wars, genocides, and acts of prejudice.

               We have to shed our allegiances to our tribes and the tribes of our fathers, folks. There's no future in life the way we're living it today, bouncing from one unspeakable tragedy to the next, pointing fingers at one another, offering useless thoughts and prayers.

                If thoughts and prayers solved anything there never would have been a holocaust. There would never have been a 9/11. There wouldn't have been an attack on Paris, or Orlando, or Nice.

                 Those of us who know what time it is have to stop mollycoddling our pious friends and relatives. They need to know their religious delusions aren't part of the solution, but are symptoms of the world's largest unsolved problem.

                 We shouldn't have to ask twice. Today's headlines should be enough.

                 Religion is mankind's most lethal pandemic, and we have to get proactive about ridding the planet of this scourge.

                  We should be sick of this shit by now.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


            I never bought into this bullshit, even when I was a very little (and easily duped) kid. At the ripe ol' age of about ten I started asking questions about how this was possible, and was politely told to shut the fuck up and say my prayers.

            If you bring up the same concerns on social media today, you'll find the response to be very much the same.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"THE TUB AND BRISKET WERE A TOTAL LOSS" (you can't make this shit up...)


        Okay, before I tell you MY story, let me relay this one from the Knoxville Fire Department (via Facebook):

            At 6:05 p.m., Monday, July 11th, units from the Knoxville Fire Department responded to 4834 Scheel Rd. apartment 214 for report of a structural fire. When firefighters arrived they found a middle aged woman fanning light smoke from her apartment. She told fire crews the fire was in the bathroom. What firemen saw next has to be a first in our books. The aspiring chef was attempting to cook a brisket in her fiberglass bathtub. She had an open flame in the bottom of the tub, with a wire rack with meat resting on the upper edges. Now, this may sound tempting and tasty, but now comes our public service announcement; "THIS IS NOT A SAFE PRACTICE, AND OVER 50% OF RESIDENTIAL FIRES INVOLVE COOKING". With that said most all of those documented fires are in the kitchen though. Firefighters were able to use the shower head to extinguish the melting fiberglass without incident or injuries. The apartment below suffered minimal water damage. The tub and brisket were a total loss.
Captain D.J. Corcoran
Knoxville F.D.
                Once upon a time, in a previous life with a previous wife, I lived in a home that was built shortly after the end of the Civil War. The home's previous owners hadn't thought that insulation in the floor or attic were justifiable expenses, so this place was a cold mo' fo' in even the mildest of weather. During winter, it was unbelievably hard to heat. We woke one morning to frost on our hardwood floors. Frost. I went into the bathroom to take a leak and found the water frozen IN THE TOILET BOWL.

               Needless to say, it was important to keep a fire burning in our wood burning stove, since that was the only source of heat in the house. We had an endless supply of split firewood stacked up on the front porch, and a couple of times a day I would shovel out the ash tray and toss in more back logs to keep the place habitable. Without that stove, you simply couldn't stand a night in that house in December or January. 
               At that time of my life, I was working as a factory drone building truck tires, and my wife trained and boarded horses on our property. I would drive off in the morning, and while I was gone it was her responsibility to keep the fire burning in the wood stove. If the fire died out, we would never be able to adequately reheat the house before everything froze up... including the water lines that ran down to the barn for twenty-five or thirty horses people paid her to take care of.  
               In a word, it was CRITICAL to keep the fire burning in the wood stove.

               This would require someone to occasionally toss in a heavy log during the day. Since I was scheduled to work all day, and since my employer didn't give "work release passes" for people who were married to less-than-reliable spouses, I worried a lot about that wood stove while I built tires.

                One afternoon as the sun was sinking behind our old antebellum home after a day in the factory, I climbed out of my car and noticed a little woman scurrying around in our living room, quickly moving back and forth around the wood stove. Immediately I realized that my wife was trying to tend to something she had forgotten to take care of during the day.

                 Heavy sigh.

                Sure enough, I stepped inside the house and immediately noticed it was about as cold in there as it had been on the porch. 

                 "You let the fire go out, didn't you, dear?" I asked.
                 "Sort of. I think it's about to fire back up, though." she offered.

                 I took over the fire building duties, and noticed that she had carefully stacked several huge back logs on top of one another in a stone cold stove, with no kindling beneath them or smaller pieces of firewood to enable a fire to get started.

                No problem, I thought to myself. It's only the most important thing to take care of OTHER than our two kids. I'm sure THEY'RE fine, wherever they're shivering. 

                I started pulling the back logs out of the wood stove to rebuild the fire, and began to notice a strange, greasy feel between my fingers. I clicked on a nearby table lamp and saw that my hands were covered in white slime.

                 Another heavy sigh...

                 "Mmmm... honey? What might this odd substance be that's all over the wood in the stove?" I asked, warily.

                 She mumbled something from the general area of the kitchen, so I asked again. This time she came into the living room and said words I'll never forget (and words that might remind you, the dear reader, to be charitable when you read about a woman building a barbecue in her fiberglass bathtub...):

                  "I smeared them with Crisco so they'd burn better."

                   I don't think I said anything. If memory serves, I believe I stood there and looked at her as if she had sprouted a unicorn horn.

                   She decided to explain her thinking:

                   "You know how Crisco burns on the stove if you forget about a skillet?" she asked. She knew about Crisco and stove fires from earlier exploits in the kitchen.

                    That's when I noticed the puddles of melted grease under the wood stove... and the trail of leaking grease that was running down the legs of the stove to the hardwood floors of the living room. Apparently, the wood stove wasn't completely fluid tight... some of her earlier attempts to fire up the stove had obviously melted a great deal of cooking lard which had given way to gravity and cracks in the stove's bottom.

                    So when you think about a lady building a fire in her bathtub for her brisket, you can't shrug it off. Tell someone. Tell your wife. Tell your kids. Tell your friends and neighbors. Write a blog post about it.

                    Who knows? Maybe someone out there will think about it before they make their own bathtub barbecue.

                    That's why I'm telling this story. It's for the public good.

                    Some of you probably know someone who can use this advice. You know who you are. Don't make us point you out...