Friday, March 30, 2012


          Current TV has announced the termination of their $50 million dollar man Keith Olbermann with a press release, saying Olbermann did not honor his contract.  It's been in the news for quite a while that Olbermann was at war with the network, much in the same manner that led to his dismissal at MSNBC last year.
          Here's hoping Keith ends up back on the air, preferably at a network where he'll be allowed to say what the fuck he wants to say.  Not sure that network exists at the moment...

"SHIT BIRDERS SAY" (this is far more accurate than any of us will ever admit!)

         My sister, a fellow bird photographer who's familiar with the frustrations we endure, sent me this video to watch. 
         There's a reason things that don't go well are called a "Wild Goose Chase" and not a "Wild Turtle Chase"... bird hunts are ridiculously unpredictable.
          I'm currently sitting here with a serious gash on my left calf because I was too fixated on the eagles in a nest we'd found at Reelfoot Lake than I was with paying attention to the guardrail I was trying to step over to reach a good shooting vantage point.  I drug my leg over the guardrail post, giving me a much needed lesson in multi-tasking.
          Two years ago an acquaintance I'd met on Facebook invited me to his farm in Dayton, Tennessee, to take photos of the sand hill crane migration that flocked to his river side property every winter.  I met him at his house in Chattanooga where he presented me with a key to his farm's gate, and got directions to this bird paradise.
          An hour later I reached his farm at the wildlife refuge where the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers converge.  I parked my car and walked to a field near the river, looking for a small pond he'd told me about where I might see cranes landing.  I found the pond at a distance and noticed there were a lot of large birds standing around and feeding on and near the water, so I decided to use a little stealth on my approach.  I actually crawled on my belly the last twenty or thirty yards to the edge of the field for a good view of the "action".
            After about ten minutes of focusing and shooting photos of plastic decoys he'd positioned on and near the water I realized none of my targets were actually moving, except for the ones that were bobbing around on the surface of the pond.
            I had spent the better part of an hour stalking fake birds, while overhead, looking down in perplexed curiosity, hundreds of sand hill cranes flew by, probably looking for a little pond that wasn't infested with idiots and cameras.
            For what it's worth, I DID get some amazing decoy pictures.  And a few shots of actual living cranes.



Thursday, March 29, 2012


         Clay Bennett is the editorial cartoonist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and his work pretty much sums up the stories of the day, both locally and nationally.

         If you look at the "out" box in the first cartoon, as well as the bill on the desk, you'll get an idea of why the drug test in the "in" box makes sense.  They must be stoned out of their gourds to think any of this shit matters to the average Tennessean.

          One of the biggest success stories (from the GOP's standpoint) is the passage of a new photo voter ID law for the state.  There have been several stories of elderly life-long residents who were denied access to the polls during the primary elections, even though all had voter registration cards, as well as other identification and documentation.  Mission accomplished.

        And somehow it's become a mantra from the right that Obama is to blame whenever the courts or that pesky ol' Constitution prevent them from ramrodding some fundamentalist Christian nonsense down everyone else's throats.  They even thump the Bible when they're defending the destruction of our scenic vistas.  Go figure...

           The Lt. Governor is lampooned in this one, and it pretty much sums up what the guy is all about.

         The news today has the General Assembly moving to allow students to discuss religion and creationism in the classrooms, regardless of the subject or the teacher's syllabus plan for the class.  They're looking out for the rights of religious nutballs to send their children to school to proselytize to the secular humanists they encounter in Algebra class, I guess.  As if the gene pool wasn't dumbed down enough around here, they want to clutter up science classes with prayer meetings and Bible distribution.

          And when they're not concerning themselves with fucking up our children's meager educational opportunities, they want to make sure the gun lobby gets its proverbial pound of flesh.  Already on the books are laws allowing loaded, concealed handguns in bars and restaurants.  Now, they want to pass a law to allow guns in the parking lots of employers who currently don't allow guns on their properties.  And for good measure, Tennessee is one of the states that has a Stand Your Ground law much like the one in Floriduh that's making headlines and headaches for the rest of America today.

           And just as soon as Mr. Bennett draws one to illustrate the new "Saggy Pants" bill currently being voted upon by the full House, I'll post that one as well.  What's a "Saggy Pants" bill, you ask?  Why, that's a law that will criminalize the wearing of pants if they aren't hitched up to the proper levels, as determined by anyone who wants to call the police and file a complaint.
            Heavy sigh...


          Back in 2001 I grabbed a CD called "Earl Scruggs and Friends" on a whim, and it's one of the best bluegrass ensemble discs I own.  Some artists you would NEVER expect to find on a bluegrass album sit in with Scruggs (Elton John?  Melissa Etheridge?  Don Henley?  Billy Bob Thornton?)
          This cut features Glen Duncan, Randy Scruggs, Steve Martin, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Gary Scruggs, Albert Lee, Paul Shaffer, Jerry Douglas and Leon Russell.

          Earl Scruggs passed away yesterday at age 88 of natural causes (probably a banjo infection).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


         I've been afraid to look into what the General Assembly in Nashville has been up to for the past few days.  We took a quickie trip out of town over the weekend, and I guess the fresh air made me reluctant to open the lid on the septic tank we call our State Legislature... But sometimes you just have to do unpleasant things.
         Republican Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas had sponsored a measure that would attempt to reduce taxes on folks who buy gold coins, bullion, or who have investment income by increasing taxes on strippers.  You read that right.  Rep. Joe wanted to be able to tell wealthy folks who have gold coin collections or investment income their taxes would be coming down, thanks to him.  I guess a tax on strippers could be called a "Pole Tax"?
         What a douche.  Rep. Carr reasoned that strip clubs lower property values in their vicinity, so therefore the women who work there should pay more taxes on the dollar bills drunken idiots (like off-duty state legislators) slip under their G-strings.   The measure was killed by a judiciary subcommittee which sent the bill to a "study" committee after the legislative session ends. 
          Imagine the relief around the cigarette barrel at Deja Vu.

          Also sent to Bill Purgatory was a measure designed to prevent mountaintop removal coal mining in Tennessee.  Republicans said any effort to stop the destruction of Tennessee's scenic beauty was a job-killer, so they voted to send the bill to "study", too. 

          That's what our legislators are up to.  Making sure coal corporations have unfettered access to ruin our state's environment, and trying to raise taxes on strippers.

          We're so proud.



         NSFW?  Not safe for anywhere, really... but it has its moments. 

WTF? PRE-CHEWED FOOD? EAT THE PLACENTA? (it's too bizarre to be made up, folks...)

         I hope no one ever bitches about seeing a woman breastfeeding a child in public again...  That method works a hell of a lot better for me than THIS one...
        Here's a happy little mommy/son moment in which the actress Alicia Silverstone pre-chews food for her son Bear Blu.  (seriously, that's the kid's name... as if having this moment caught on tape won't haunt the little bastard, he has to grow up with "Bear Blu" as a name... Gee, thanks, Mom!)
         I found this on Huff'n'Puff Post, and made the mistake of watching the vid even though I knew better.  Hard to "unsee" shit like this...
         Is this woman channeling sparrows for parenting skills now?  What's next?  Is she going to regurgitate some night crawlers for dessert?

         Not far below the Silverstone story was another one, and damned if it's any better...

         Another actress (is there something terribly wrong with Hollywood's water?) named January Jones (sigh...) revealed in a interview that she consumed her own placenta after giving birth as part of a "healthy post natal regimen."

          Are we finding charming ways to mimic lesser species?  Should moms also chew off the umbilical cord of their newborns, ala cocker spaniels?

          Before I wave off all of this new-age-y bullshit, I just had a thought.  Maybe some critters' way of handling their young might work for modern American parents, after all...
          You never see little birds coming home to live with mom and dad after they've left the nest.  Mommy and daddy robins don't spend the rest of their lives feeding, housing, and putting up with the kids after they've learned to fly.  You know why?  Because mommy and daddy robin pack up and move the fuck away as soon as the nest is empty.  And they build a new nest in a new location the next spring.  Why go to all that trouble when they've left a perfectly good nest behind?  Because the kids know where that nest is, too!  They'll come back if you let 'em!

           Pre-chewed food and placenta sandwiches.  We've reached the End Times.




          Hats off to the fine ladies over at The Political Carnival for this video. 


           Here's a question for you legal scholars:  Does a person have the right to record video of police officers performing their duties in a public place?
           Since most Americans are now carrying phones with video capability, the police are aware that much of what they do during the course of an arrest or confrontation could be recorded.  Had no one recorded the Rodney King beating, much of the outrage over the settlement of that case would have never happened.  Think of all the videos you've seen of policemen overstepping the boundaries of proper behavior during arrests... the beatings, the assaults, the verbal abuse of suspects, and all of those other incidents that end up on youtube.  Sometimes it seems the police are more concerned about someone video taping their actions than with the crime they're investigating.
           Well, a man in Boston has gotten an answer to that question, and while it only applies to the states of Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and the nation of Puerto Rico, it is setting precedent in other cases.
            In October of 2007, Simon Glik recorded the police arresting a man in Boston.  The police saw him videoing their arrest with his cell phone and charged him with "illegal electronic surveillance, illegal wiretapping, aiding the escape of a prisoner, and disturbing the peace."  A judge threw out the city's charges against Glik, and he promptly countersued in Federal Court for a violation of his civil rights.  Aided by the ACLU, Glik won his case and the city of Boston has agreed to settle by paying Glik $170,000 in damages.
              According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, citizens have a right to record police officers performing their duties in public.

"The First Amendment includes the freedom to observe and document the conduct of government officials, which is crucial to a democracy and a free society. We hope that police departments across the country will draw the right conclusions from this case," said Sarah Wunsch, ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney.

           But if you think that means you can stick a phone cam in an officer's face when he's busy wrestling with a drunk at Hooters, you might want to rethink your legal rights...


          The timing for a new REDSTATEUPDATE video couldn't be worse.  I just wrote about the Trayvon Martin case after letting it fester for a week, and now these two guys have come up with a spoof audio tape of George Zimmerman's REAL problem with folks like Trayvon.

          Mea culpa.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


         It's not that unusual for me to find myself stumbling around dazed and confused.  I've pretty much had that gait for most of my adult life, at least during those times when PMYS was a contributing factor to my mental sobriety.  (For those not familiar with my "Theory of What's Wrong with the Universe", I urge you to take a look at the "little man" drawing labeled "Cautionary Tale for Men" located to the upper right of this post... then go read the PMYS link)

         But lately I've been struck by how often I find myself confused by what I'm seeing and hearing.  Here's an example:

         How has it come to be that the tragic death of a teenaged boy in Florida over a month ago has so preoccupied the talking heads who populate our cable television news shows? 
         I understand why cable television locks in on the disappearance of a beautiful blond student from an island resort... the cable news reporters get to swarm to a tropical resort.  Duh!  That explains why Aruba's tourism spiked the last time a partying blonde went missing.  A missing inner city child?  Not quite as compelling.
         But Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a neighborhood watch "Captain" a month ago in Florida, and we can't change the channel to escape that story's morbid coverage.  And that coverage has somehow managed to identify two separate camps of American politics, as clearly defined as anything else being argued about on the campaign trail.

         You're either convinced that a cop wannabe named George Zimmerman followed, stalked, confronted, and shot dead an innocent black kid, or you're just as equally convinced that a thug of a kid, who was up to no good, assaulted a dedicated public servant volunteer who was forced to shoot and kill an aggressive young man in self-defense.  There's very little middle ground if asked about this case.

           If you watch Faux News, you lean one way.  If you watch MSNBC, you lean the other.

          And the sad thing is, because of the nature of the investigation (or lack of investigation) we really don't even know, definitively, what the fuck happened when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. 
          All we know is that we either don't think the local police in Florida handled the case properly, or that there is no case and we should move on to something else with our national narrative du jour.  No gray area.  Either this is the murder of an innocent child and is branded on our collective conscience, or we're just willing to ignore the reality that tells us blacks and whites are treated differently by our legal and justice system. 
           What is it about this case that so clearly defines its audience into one of two political philosophies like it does?  Is it racism on display?  Is it political correctness and liberal guilt over centuries of racial disparity run amok?  Is the Trayvon Martin case a cornerstone moment in America, or just the story that gets us to the next national "Law and Order" episode?

            On the surface, I understand why we're fixated on this story.  It's a compelling tale, unbearably sad and tragic, and yet, some would say, not all that uncommon in modern America.  On the other hand, I'm really torn between wanting to turn away, disgusted by the indignities being foisted upon the families of those involved, and a fascination that makes me want to keep up with every morbid detail in the case.

             Here's what I DO think.  We would not be talking about a shooting in Florida if Trayvon Martin had been born to white parents 17 years ago.  George Zimmerman wouldn't have looked twice at a white kid carrying Skittles and a can of iced tea, whether he was wearing a "hoodie" or Calvin Kleins.  This only happened because Trayvon Martin "looked the part" of someone the television shows like to call "a person of interest."  And what happened after than initial visual profiling is where the story falls apart.  We really don't know what happened.  We might never know.

             Maybe we're supposed to face this ugliness at this particular moment in history.  Who knows?  But consider this:  while we watch and wait for this drama's next storyline to develop, another might be brewing behind the scenes.  How much of a powder keg would America become if this story drags on into the heat of a summer slurry of unemployment, foreclosure, election politics involving a black president and a white opponent, and even one more unforeseen spark? 

             I don't believe the worst of this has hit the fan yet.

            And that's got me as perplexed and confused as anything has in a long time.

            Why do I keep seeing the riot scenes from "A Time to Kill" when I think about the Trayvon Martin shooting?  Why do I keep hearing the attorney's instructions to the jury: "Now, imagine she's white"? 

            Why do I have the suspicion this story is but a part of a larger, more profound moment?


         The actress some on the right still refer to as "Hanoi Jane" has been selected to play the part of Nancy Reagan in an upcoming motion picture.  I shit you not.  The one actress in Hollywood more toxic to the right than rational thought itself is the pick to star as Reagan's First Lady.
         I don't know why this hasn't hit the fan like an armload of watery shit already, but thought you'd want to know about it before conservatives lose their mother fucking minds.
         This is gonna be fun to listen to for the next few months...

Monday, March 26, 2012


         My lovely (and dangerous) wife served as navigator for our trip to Reelfoot lake this past weekend, and even managed to find a barred owl (we think... we're not sure of the species) during one of our hikes around the lake.  We got there after four hours on the road, got a few sunset shots, then rolled out early to catch the sunrise over the mist.  It's a beautiful lake, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to see eagles, osprey, herons, and beautiful cyprus glades.


Saturday, March 24, 2012


           Here's one that caught my eye... which probably says more about my perverse curiosity than anything else I'll write this year.
           Men are being advised to take public transportation in Zimbabwe because of high profile cases of women abducting, drugging, and raping hitchhiking males to harvest their sperm for a lucrative black market.  Apparently, the sperm is needed for certain "juju" rituals, a traditional rite in many west African cultures often associated with black magic.  The use of sperm as a black market commodity has many authorities perplexed.  Here's a clip from a BBC report on the situation, quoting Police Superintendent Andrew Phiri of  Gweru:

"We have received reports from around the country from different towns and provinces, it's been happening on the highways," he said.

"We are yet to find out the real reason why this is happening. We have heard speculation that it's linked to rituals."

He appealed for witnesses to come forward.

"We need to hear from people who are prepared to tell," the superintendent said.

The semen is believed to be used in rituals to bring success in business, and there are suggestions that the semen is being taken outside the country for sale.

But cultural expert and sociology lecturer Claude Mararikei told the BBC that it was not clear how the semen would be used.

"It's in the area of rituals and magic, which border on secret societies," he said.

"Even researchers don't want to go into that area because you may not come out alive to publish whatever you find out."

            In one high profile case, three women and one man were arrested after they were found with a plastic bag containing 31 used and knotted condoms.  Seventeen men were allegedly abducted by the trio, drugged, raped, "harvested", and then released naked in the bush.  Because Zimbabwe has no laws against women raping men (who knew?) they have been charged with 17 counts of "aggravated indecent assault."

            I think if this were happening in America there would a lot more hitchhikers on the streets...

         I know a couple of you are just dying to leave comments on this one... (Mooner, Sarge, I'm looking at you...)  Before you dash off to a travel agency to investigate a vacation package to Zimbabwe, you might want to consider that the men there fear they will be cursed if their sperm is used in a juju ritual.  That might make you want to reconsider your plans.
         But it might explain why Rush Limbaugh was caught smuggling Viagra into the Dominican Republic a few years ago.  A lot of west African rituals and traditions have spread to the West Indies, you know...


       "Damn!  We're in a tight spot!"

Friday, March 23, 2012

WHERE WE BE THESE DAZE... (One day in America, summed up as briefly as I can manage)

        So Rick Santorum is on the gun range in West Monroe, Louisiana, and he's getting set to fire a few shots at a man-shaped paper target.  That's when a woman calls out "Pretend it's Obama!" as he begins to shoot.
        Santorum didn't hear her original remark, and condemned it when told what had been said.

        Meanwhile, over on Faux News, Geraldo Rivera was blaming Trayvon Martin's choice of clothing for his tragic murder in Florida: "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was."

        President Obama bemoaned the killing of Trayvon Martin, saying that if he had a son "he'd look like Trayvon," and adding,"Obviously, this is a tragedy," he said. "I can only imagine what these parents are going through, and when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together -- federal, state and local -- to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened."

        Meanwhile, Noot "Somebody Pay Attention to Me!" Gingrich found the president's comments "disgusting", saying: “Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him. That’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot. It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian American of if he’d been a Native American. At some point, we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”

         There you go, all in the course of one day.  One presidential candidate is urged to take a few shots at a target while imagining he's shooting at the President, who's expressed sorrow at the death of an innocent child, but is being criticized for not making his public remorse more inclusive of white folks by another presidential candidate, while a washed up television commentator on Faux blames the shooting on the dead child's questionable taste in clothes. 

         March 23, 2012, in America. 

         To paraphrase Jack Crabb from "Little Big Man",

"There was no describing how I felt... the world was too ridiculous to even bother to live in."

(heavy sigh...)




              If you're a doctor in Pennsylvania and one of your patients comes to your office with a serious condition related to exposure to dangerous chemicals, you're entitled to a list of all the hazardous chemicals used by any fracking industry rig in your patient's vicinity.  But you can't tell that patient what's killing him, according to a new provision in the law there.
              Fracking involves pumping a lot of hydraulic fluids into holes drilled into solid rock so that natural gas can be extracted to the surface.  The chemical combinations of those fracking fluids is considered "proprietary information", something rival frackers would want in order to get in on the bonanza of poisoning people's water supplies for profit.  Obviously, frackers want to keep their poisonous cocktail recipes to themselves, because those pesky ol' environmentalists might alert the public to what they're up to and shut down a very profitable bidness scam they're running.
              Here's a quote from a Mother Jones article by Kate Sheppard:
There is good reason to be curious about exactly what's in those fluids. A 2010 congressional investigation revealed that Halliburton and other fracking companies had used 32 million gallons of diesel products, which include toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, in the fluids they inject into the ground. Low levels of exposure to those chemicals can trigger acute effects like headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness, while higher levels of exposure can cause cancer.

              When the fracking bill was being discussed in the Pennsylvania Legislature there was nothing in it about non-disclosure, as that provision was added to the law in committee after the bill had been approved.  Doctors would be allowed to request and receive detailed information concerning the chemicals used at a particular fracking site operation, but would first be forced to sign a "non-disclosure" agreement, keeping that information away from the public and the doctor's patient. 
              Want to know how lobbying works?  The fracking industry managed to get an exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory, and another exemption (known as the "Halliburton Loophole") allowing them to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act.
               So if your water supply ignites in your sink, smells of diesel fuel and benzene, and you or your children begin to show ill effects from its consumption, by all means go see your doctor.  He can petition the local fracking rig's headquarters to divulge the contents of your well, and perhaps can figure out a way to save your ass.  But he won't be able to tell you exactly what it was that poisoned you.  That's a secret.  And you don't get to know the secret.  You don't count.



          I'm trying to remember a disaster in recent history that Pat Robertson hasn't blamed on an angry God.  Think about it... the AIDS virus was God's retribution for lascivious behavior in the gay community; the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were God's wake up call for America; the devastating earthquake in Haiti was caused by that island nation's "pact with the devil" a couple hundred years ago...  The guy thinks every shitty thing that happens has God's holy fingerprints all over it, and since God did it, it must be deserved.  Innocent bystanders should have stepped away from the sinful, by God. 
          Well, Pat's been asked about the recent trade move the Denver Broncos NFL team made in which they signed Peyton Manning and shipped uber-Christian Tim Tebow off to New York to play for the Jets.  You wouldn't think such a player exchange would rank up there with those other "disasters", but in Pat Robertson's squinty little eyes any disrespect toward an overtly Christian person or ideal is grounds for one of his little tirades.
           According to the transcript on Crooks and Liars, here's was ol' Pat had to say about the possibility God might smite Peyton and the Broncos:
"I think the Denver Broncos treated [Tebow] shabbily," Robertson explained on Thursday. "He won seven games. He brought them into the playoffs, for heaven sakes. I mean, they were a nothing team. He rallied them together with spectacular last-minute passes and, you know, when they beat Buffalo -- I mean, Pittsburgh -- it was a tremendous victory."

He continued: "And you just ask yourself, OK, Peyton Manning was a tremendous MVP quarterback, but he's been injured. If that injury comes back, Denver will find itself without a quarterback -- and in my opinion, it would serve them right."

            It's always bugged me when athletes pose, genuflect, or thank the gods for their athletic successes on the field, as if The Lord Hisself has money on the game and made sure that superstar receiver caught that Hail Mary pass to save the day for the home team...  You never hear any of these testosterone sloshing steroid chuggin' monsters blaming God when they drop that same last second pass, do you?  And Pat Robertson hardly ever weighs in with an opinion of that sort, that I can remember, blaming the wrath of God for a sinful player's failures.  He usually just confines his silly shit condemnations for disasters that cost a lot of innocent lives, and doesn't worry his viewers with disparaging remarks when a team fails to cover the spread.
           So now Pat's wishing a knee injury for Peyton and the Broncos because Timmy Tebow got the hook in Denver?
           Someone should see if there's a sponsors list for The 700 Club we can contact...

Thursday, March 22, 2012


             Rep. Richard Hanna (R-New York)

            Ever been outside on a particularly hot and humid day and had a cool breeze suddenly rush past your face?  It can make you reassess life itself if the timing is right...
            If you're a woman and you've been paying attention to the hot air and feverish attempts by conservatives to dictate birth control and reproductive rights, you could probably use a little cool breeze right about now.
            Enter Representative Richard Hanna, a Republican from New York.  Hanna was the only member of the GOP to speak at a recent rally in support of renewed efforts to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified.  You wouldn't think we'd still be arguing about whether or not women deserve the protection of the U.S. Constitution when it comes to equal rights under the law, but here we are 40 years after the ERA passed (1972) and it's yet to be ratified by the requisite 38 states.
            In a story by Laura Bassett on Huffington Post, Rep. Hanna was quoted telling women to get up, get out, and get organized on behalf of candidates who will help them achieve this milestone in American justice.

"I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault," he told the crowd of mostly women. "I'll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side -- my side -- has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can't succeed without your help."

"This is a dogfight, it's a fistfight, and you have all the cards," he said. "I can only tell you to get out there and use them. Tell the other women, the other 51 percent of the population, to kick in a few of their bucks. Make it matter, get out there, get on TV, advertise, talk about this. The fact that you want [the ERA] is evidence that you deserve it and you need it."

When HuffPost asked Hanna after the rally whether he was bucking his party by encouraging women to give their money to "the other side," he said that he wasn't.

"I'm trying to help [the GOP]," he said. "I think it's the appropriate thing to do."

         What a concept.  Doing the right thing because it's appropriate, with a nod toward the future of his political party as an added benefit. 
         According to the Wikipedia blurb on Hanna, he's voted with the House Republicans 85% of the time, which is pretty horrible, until you consider that only 11 of the 244 GOP House members voted with the majority less often than Hanna.  In other words, he sometimes thinks for himself instead of goosestepping along with the teabaggers.
         He's voted against cutting funding to NPR and Planned Parenthood, voted against extending the Patriot Act, is a member of the LGCT Equality Caucus, and is one of only six GOP Congressmen who wouldn't sign Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge".
          I was unaware there were any moderate Republicans left in the House.
          I'm happy to stand corrected.
          Well said, sir!


Streaming by Ustream

         This is a live shot from a camera mounted above an eagle aerie in Decorah, Iowa.  You can go to this site: at any time to monitor progress on the three eggs in their nest.  The folks who do this for a living estimate the first egg will hatch between March 23 (tomorrow) and March 25 (Sunday). 
          You might tune in and see nothing but a large bird sitting on her eggs, or you might be treated to a thrill as dad shows up with lunch and swaps places with mom on the nest.


       A lot has been made of Romney's spokesman's remark that their candidate could be "reset" much like an Etch A Sketch for the fall campaign, but no one has done a better job of summing up Mitt Romney's flip-flops like Rachel Maddow did last night on her show.

"LITTLE BOXES" PLAYED ON LITTLE BOXES BY WALK OFF THE EARTH (the same guys who had five folks playing one guitar...)

       Malvina Reynolds wrote this and her buddy Pete Seeger had a semi-hit with it back in the early sixties.  But this is a great version of the old song, and awfully true to hear today.


        Bill Maher has a way of making the right see red, and sometimes he makes liberals cringe as well.  But nothing pisses Maher off like political correctness and the hypocrisy of feigned outrage.  Yesterday the New York Times published a piece from Maher, and here are a few quotes:

When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?

I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.

If that doesn’t work, what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.

 I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada. That’s not us. If we sand down our rough edges and drain all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse, we’ll end up with political candidates who never say anything but the safest, blandest, emptiest, most unctuous focus-grouped platitudes and cant. In other words, we’ll get Mitt Romney.


          The daily paper has landed with a splat out in the ditch puddle, so I'm pawing through the soggy mess to see what my elected representatives were up to yesterday at the state capitol.  Sometimes turning the page of the paper feels a lot like it must feel to try to disarm a bomb... you have to move slowly, with fearful apprehension. 
           But even when you're expecting the worst, it always comes as a surprise.  For our state legislature, every day is a new opportunity to show the rest of the country what a backwater bunch of yahoos we've assembled in Nashville.
           For example, a House subcommittee approved a measure that would tighten up the state's sex education standards, making them exclusively abstinence-based, because as we all know, Just Say No works way better than actually learning how to avoid pregnancies and diseases.  According to The Tennessean (motto: "We don't like this silly crap any more than you do, but someone has to report on the Legislature...") House Bill 3621 requires sex-ed discussions to "discourage gateway sexual activity", even if that "activity" doesn't result in actual intercourse.  I have no idea what constitutes a "gateway sexual activity", but if I was sixteen and had a girlfriend as curious about it as I would be, we'd probably explore the possibilities.
            Rep. Jim Gotto (R-Hermitage) says we need these new sex education guidelines because Tennessee still ranks near the top in teen pregnancies and the spread of new cases of STDs.  A couple of school districts caught hell for encouraging discussions of sexual behavior that involved showing high schoolers, using plastic models, how to properly apply a condom.  The bill also allows parents to sue a school or teacher if they believe these new guidelines have been violated.
            So instead of teaching kids how to use a condom, we'll just tell them to not engage in sexual activity.  There.  Fixed it.  Watch those pregnancy and STD statistics fall! 

            And if you think God's not on the Republican agenda in the Tennessee Legislature, you're not paying attention.  Something called the "Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act" is advancing through committee, and it proposes to allow, by law, students to pray or make expressions of faith without recrimination from school districts or courts.  Some of our school districts have found themselves under legal fire for allowing outside organizations to pass out Bibles, or for holding school sponsored prayers before the beginning of classes.  The bill's sponsor, Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) had this to say in defense of the legislation:
     "This is not a bill that is intended to give special advantages to those who hold a particular faith.  This is to protect those who have a particular faith."  and he went on to say, "...I do believe in the freedom of religion, but I do not believe in the freedom FROM religion."

           The new bill would also force teachers to accept faith-based answers to school assignments the same way they would accept secular answers.  Got that?  If you ask a middle schooler to explain Darwin's theory of natural selection he can simply answer with a few passages from Genesis.  And if a science teacher has a problem with that kid's answer, that teacher can take it up with Reverend Lovejoy at Sunday School, because the law's the law.

          But not ALL of the morning news was this backward and gloomy.  Apparently, the sponsor of a bill that would require the state to publish the names of doctors who perform legal abortions in Tennessee has withdrawn that provision of his bill, citing threats from out-of-state liberals.
          Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) says he felt threatened after his bill came up for discussion on MSNBC and was reported by a lot of bloggers (you're welcome, asshole!).  He explained his withdrawal of the provision by saying his oppenents'  “categorization of me as a terrorist, murderer or more has been used by their leftist friends to engender hatred and incite the threat of violence against me.”   He also said he had contacted the authorities about unspecified threats made since he first proposed the bill to identify the state's abortion providers. 

          Another group of Tennessee Republicans in the U.S. Congress is vowing to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board even before it is officially created, thus thwarting one of the provisions of President Obama's health care overhaul. The IPAB was designed to curb the rising costs of Medicare. Got that? Republicans moan and groan about how Medicare is going broke and needs to be reformed, but the first panel suggested to actually save the program's money is on the chopping block.

           Maybe there's better news in the sports section...