Sunday, September 28, 2014

REPUBLICANS ARE PEOPLE TOO (an ad campaign that's too funny to be true...)

                Did you know Republicans drive Priuses, and recycle, and some of them even use Macs?  Well, it's true.  At least, it's true if the new ad designed to make Republicans seem less like bigoted fetus worshiping assholes is accurate.  Which it isn't.  Obviously.  Just talk to one of them yourself, if you have doubts.

                This ad campaign seeks to redefine a political party's tarnished public image.  I mean, why else would you produce an ad to convince people that Republicans are actual humans, and not the hateful corporate whore, science denying fundamentalist flat Earthers whose motto might as well be "I, Me, Mine"?  

                Why do Republicans feel the need to convince us of their basic humanity with feel good videos like this? 

                 Perhaps it's because they realize most people hear the word "Republican" and automatically think of old, angry, white bigots.  

                 If you think that's a harsh assessment, maybe you should look at footage from the last couple of GOP conventions, or any televised coverage of a Republican campaign event, just to check out the "diversity" on display. Or listen to their candidates discuss domestic issues in dog whistle code words designed to appeal to a rightwing redneck base that gives no quarter to any candidate who doesn't toe the xenophobic, homophobic, isolationist, pro-life, pro-military, anti-science line.   

                 So they roll out an ad campaign to soften their image, completely missing the irony of faux inclusion of the very types of people their un-elected spokespeople constantly belittle and bash.  If you've ever listened to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity in a full gasbag rant, you'll hear lots of derogatory comments about those Prius drivin', recyclin', Mac usin' libtards and their Starbucks lattes.  But now they want us to believe some Republicans fit that same profile.  As if they're almost, well, human.  Like any of us.

                 Not hateful assholes at all.  Just regular people.

                 Until you talk to them, anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


          You can't make up shit like this... people would think you were insane, if you did.

          When I first saw this proposal in print, I assumed it was from a news parody site such as "The Onion" or one of many other satiric "news" websites.  It's easy to swallow hook, line, and sinker these days if you don't verify a new source before you comment publicly about whatever it is they're selling.  But I did check this story out, and believe it or not, it seems to be legit.

           Batshit crazy, but legit.

           According to multiple reports, the U.S. Forest Service is pushing a proposal to require commercial photographers (ever sold an image?) and filmmakers to pay $1500 for a permit before they can legally take photos in national parks or protected wilderness areas.  And, just to show you they mean business (and aren't good with numbers), the fine for failing to acquire a permit has been set at $1000.

           That's right, folks.  If, like most people, you like to visit national parks and take pictures of  your experiences, you would need to apply for and purchase a $1500 permit in advance of any photo shoot.  Their aim is to "protect" the wilderness and to prevent exploitation of our natural resources.  There is some vague language about educational purposes being exempted, as well as exemptions for news sources that are covering forest fires or search and rescue missions.

           But the word "commercial" ought to be a chiller for everyone.  I make a few dollars as a photographer these days ('few' being the operative word, sorry to say) and I suppose since I've sold a few photos from The Great Smoky Mountains National Park that would make me officially a "commercial" enterprise.  But what about the average person with a cell phone or camera who wants to record his experiences in the park?  What about someone who gets that one-in-a-million photo of the scenery, or of unusual animal behavior?  Should that person be expected to stop by and apply for a photo permit (at the impressively high cost of $1500), or is that person free to click away if he sees Bigfoot riding a unicorn through the Grand Canyon?

           Personally, I'm not planning on filling out application forms to take photos in a park my tax dollars help fund and maintain.  If someone wants to roll up next to my tripod and lay a $1000 fine on my ass for taking pictures of butterflies on a clover blossom, I guess I'm still coming out $500 ahead.  

            Besides the absurdity of the fee being higher than the cost of the fine, there are a lot of reasons this silly shit proposal needs to be beaten back under whatever rock it crawled.  First of all, it's ridiculous to think people are going to put away their cameras when they go to visit parks and wilderness areas.  Determining who is working as a professional and who is simply on vacation would be impossible.  Then there's the constitutionality of requiring fees to take photos of certain parts of the country's landscape.  What right does the government have to assess a fee to take photos or videos of America?

            Now, if we're talking about a major film production crew setting up camp in the park for a movie or documentary, maybe this makes sense.  Obviously, we need to protect our wilderness areas from damage or commercial exploitation.  But aiming this bullshit requirement at casual or semi-professional photographers whose tax dollars pay for the park is ridiculous.

             They're accepting public comments on this proposal for another few weeks, if you're interested in officially weighing in on the matter.

Friday, September 26, 2014


           Not exactly sure how to classify this post...  So let's just file it under "major awards" and leave it at that.

           If you remember the lamp Darren McGavin received from his employer as a "major award" in "A Christmas Story" (you know, the lamp with the fishnet stocking clad leg?) you might be able to appreciate this one.

           A Dutch man named Leo Bonten broke his leg slipping in a pool two years ago, and after numerous complications had to have the leg amputated.  Rather than toss the limb into a hospital incinerator, Bonten had a pathologist preserve the leg so that he could incorporate it into one of his lamps.  That's odd enough, granted... But when Bonten decided he needed some quick cash and put the lamp up for sale on eBay, it got downright macabre.

           Before anyone could cough up the $127,000 Leo was asking for his unique table "limp", eBay pulled the ad, saying it was in violation of their rules regarding the sale of body parts.

            I don't know what sort of person has his leg made into a lamp, but wonder if there might have been someone out there willing to pay that much to have the thing for their very own.  I mean, where would you put it?  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


           I guess this sort of thing should be expected.  When about half the country thinks the current president is a cross between "uppity" and evil incarnate, anything he does is going to come under an unreasonable amount of critical scrutiny.  

           But the manner in which many on the right have come unhinged over Obama's casual salute at the bottom of Marine One's ladder, complete with styrofoam coffee cup in hand, is illustrative of just how functionally constipated we've become as a nation.  People are losing their mother fucking minds over an improperly executed salute.

            Never mind that the last president had his own share of casual salutes caught on film.  To even bring up that fact earned me a Facebook dressing down worthy of someone who might as well have bitch-slapped Ronald Reagan.  Normally calm and politically detached people have jumped the batshit shark over this salute "scandal," and it's a sight to see.

            I was accused of being one of those people who blames everything on George W. Bush, simply because I posted an image of Bush casually saluting with a mutt in his hands.  A quick back and forth with a couple of people convinced me that Obama Derangement Syndrome is not only a real thing, but something psychologists should study for future reference.  Any effort to defend President Obama, especially if that defense includes mention of Clueless George, garners one a visit from the pitchforks and torches mob.

             On some level it's reassuring to remember that our president was overwhelmingly elected to office twice, despite the vitriol of his detractors.  As much as they like to portray their negative opinions of the man as being in the vast majority, the fact that he's serving his second elected term in office gives us a bit of solace.  One might think, from all the noise, that he took the office by way of some sort of bloodless coup, an undeserving tyrant abusing the power of office just to spite patriotic Americans.

             The fact is he's doing the best he can, and doing it quite well, despite the most obstructionist Congressional opposition in American political history, and in spite of the most detestable and unrelenting criticism ever faced by a sitting president.

              Maybe he should work on the mechanics of the salute.  But then again, given the tsunami of bullshit he has to wade through every day, maybe he should just practice this one:

     Personally, I think Obama was just trying to distract the nation from Benghazi... that clever bastard!



State Senator Jim Summerville (R-District 25)          

            Other states might have more impressive legislatures, with local politicians grooming themselves for higher office, minding their manners, and toeing the party line.  But if you want to see the political equivalent of drunks parading through night court, you really should pull up a lawn chair, mix a drink, and watch Tennessee's General Assembly when they aren't even in session!

            It's one thing to see them at the Legislative Plaza, offering up bills to prevent teachers from saying anything related to a "gay" lifestyle, or to make sure Sharia Law never goes into effect in local courthouses.  But it's another thing entirely to read of their exploits when the legislature isn't in Nashville and they're home with their constituents... the very folks who sent them to Nashville in the first place.

            Case in point (and pointing at this case takes a lot of fingers, because it's a tangled web of hilarious intrigue), let's consider the saga of State Senator Jim Summerville (R-District 25).  He recently lost a primary election, and upon learning of his defeat, immediately notified his fellow Republicans that he would serve out the remainder of his term as an independent, caucusing with the state's few remaining Democratic Senators.  You probably don't know Senator Summerville like we do here in Tennessee, but just to recap for those who aren't familiar with the guy, last year he pushed forward a measure to eliminate affirmative action practices at Tennessee's institutions of higher education.  When that bill failed, he lashed out at fellow Republicans, threatening them with retribution in this fall's elections.  He also sent an angry email to the (then) chairwoman of the state's Black Caucus, telling her he didn't "give a rat's ass about the Black Caucus."


            When he's not bickering with his colleagues at the Legislative Plaza, Summerville seems to fill his time squabbling with his next door neighbors.  He allegedly captured one of his neighbor's dogs, then called Animal Control to come pick up the trespassing critter.  When they arrived, a neighbor of Summerville's convinced them not to cite the dog's owner... and thus that neighbor became the sole focus of Sen. Summerville's attention.

             He put up a threatening sign in his yard which read, "Keep it up, you've been warned".  Then he positioned a flashlight so that it would shine into the dining room of the neighbor who had earned his scorn, even going out at midnight to replace the flashlight's batteries.  She filed a complaint with the local police.  Soon after that he was issued a misdemeanor citation by Animal Control for having "dogs at large"...  (irony much, Senator?)  All of that paled in comparison to what occurred next.  Wish we had a video to post of the following story, but hey, we do what we can with what we have...

             Someone called the police to report a man walking down the middle of the street carrying a lawn chair and a beverage, saying the guy seemed to be sitting in other people's yards.  When the police arrived, they found state Senator Summerville seated in someone's yard, holding a clear mug containing an "alcoholic beverage."  He told the responding police officer to write down the license plate info of the cars parked at his neighbor's house... the same neighbor with whom he had been having the aforementioned little pissing match.  He was charged with public intoxication.

Lawn chair flashlight guy              

              Fast forward to this week...

              Summerville apparently blames Tennessee's asshat Lt. Governor for his electoral defeat (and probably blames him for every other shitty thing that's happened in his life, as well, but that's an assumption on my part...), because he sent the following email to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, and copied it to every other member of the legislature.  Nothing like getting the word out with one good ol' "reply all", right?  Here's what he had to say to his colleagues:

Subject: Dear Loot Governor

At the behest of your office, I expect, Jodie Hardin has been terminated from her job before my term officially ends. We had more constituent issues to assist with. Now this action will hinder that. There was no one on the Hill abler, kinder, and more efficient than here with that essential job.

There are items in the suite that belong to me, and I will return one more time for the sole purpose of claiming them. My office keys will be left on the desk.

This is just another example of your shabby treatment of me, my thanks I guess for winning a Senate district for the Republican Party for the first time. I’ve never much cared what you thought of me, but when you mistreat Jodie that’s another matter.

You have your pretty boy back, which was your design from that day you said “you weren’t supposed to be here” and your little weasel Frizzell chimed in, “We hope you enjoy your four years.”

I can tell you that the Senate is just a stepping stone for Roberts, maybe for the governorship that you and he and Green will try to buy. None of you has a soul. You’re all for sale.

I’m regret that I accepted the dirty money from RAAMPAC. If I had the means t pay it back, I would.

But speaking of paybacks, the people of Tennessee are going to learn about the sale of chairmanships as soon as the general election is over.. Fortunately, I can bring this forward, since you have nothing I want and I no longer have anything you can take away.

Jim Summerville

           I've sent more than a few angry emails myself, so I can appreciate empty threats when I read them.  I especially like the salutation at the top of the letter, addressing it to the "Loot Governor."  Appropriate, considering his accusations.

            Should be fun to watch how this unfolds when the legislature reconvenes.

            Film at eleven.