Friday, June 29, 2012

MANAGEMENT APOLOGIZES FOR THE FOLLOWING SILENCE (I'm sure you'll make it a few days without a rant...)

       "The management of this theater, in cooperation with the Tennessee State Fire Marshall's Office, requests that you take a moment to look around the theater and familiarize yourself with the location of all emergency exits.  The aisleways in which you entered and the passageways designated by the illuminated exit signs at either the left - or right - of the forward section have been checked and are clear exits from the building in the event of an emergency.  Thank you for your time and attention.  And please turn off your damn cell phone while you're up.
        In the event of a sudden decompression, the chamber over your head will open and the oxygen mask will automatically descend.  Place the mask firmly over your nose and mouth, and breathe normally.  Place your head between your knees, inhale, and kiss your ass goodbye."

       One of our family friends has passed away in east Tennessee, so we'll be on the road for a day or two to attend the funeral.
        I'd like to request that all major national news stories worthy of sarcastic snark please refrain from taking place during my absence.  In the event something DOES occur, you're on your own.  Try to be strong... help's on the way.

        "Let's all go to the lobby... let's all go to the lobby..."




Thursday, June 28, 2012

PONDERING A RETURN TO THE WORK FORCE AFTER TODAY'S SUPREME COURT RULING... (can't decide: "Death Panel" job or "Don't Tread on Me" flag factory gig...)

           About three years ago I retired from my job in a sweatshop and started my own bidness selling my photography, and I've been a much happier camper ever since making that move.  Sure, our finances are much tighter now than they were when I was trudging in and out of the factory, but I'm damn sure happier with life.  Waking up in the morning and THEN deciding what to do with the day is a hell of a lot more fun than going to bed dreading the morning.
            It's been so much nicer working from home that I've all but ruled out EVER taking a job for a salary again.  I've gotten too used to being my own boss to ever be happy working for someone else.

            But today's Soupreem Court ruling on Obamacare (why not embrace the insult?  I think it's a wonderful name for the guy's signature achievement!) has me reconsidering the job market that's just opened up.

             I've got to do a little research, first, though.  I need to find out where I have to go to get an application for one of those Death Panel jobs I heard so much about.  You know the ones Sarah Palin told us about during her Blunder Woman Magical Mystery Bus Tour?  I think I'd be good at the Death Panel thing, especially if they make the infirm fill out forms indicating their political persuasion in advance of your life-or-death decisions.  Only fair for the DPs to have all the relevent information, I think.

             On a sadder note, one of the decisions handed down by the Court has a lot of us pissed, even though they made the right call constitutionally.  The Court struck down laws against folks claiming military achievements and medals they hadn't actually earned.  It's said that if the Stolen Valor laws had addressed potential PROFITS from those falsifications they might have ruled more favorably, invoking fraud statutes.
             But in the end, as a country and as a society, we have to allow people to dress up and claim to be people they really aren't. 

              Lying is as American as Weapons of Mass Destruction.
              Besides, if we make it illegal for people to dress up and make false claims about their pasts and their motivations, what do we do with most members of the House of Representatives?

              There are people going in and out of that building every day dressed up as respectable, thoughtful, and honest individuals, wearing lapel pins that proudly display their patriotism.  And they'll tell you all day long about how they're against air and water pollution, think public school teachers are wonderful people, support our returning veterans, how their voter ID laws don't suppress minority or elderly votes, and that they think corporate money in politics is horrible.  
               At some point we have to look at lying politicians and these people who put on fake medals and brag about their splendid military careers the same way we look at those football parlay cards:  they're for "Amusement Purposes Only".
               Besides, how do we know who the frauds are unless we let them parade around and talk about themselves?

               Hey, this might be a good time to apply for a job at one of those factories that makes those yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags!  I bet THAT segment of the economy just got a jolt of new bidness this morning!



         Those lovely ladies at The Political Carnival brought this one to my attention.  In the closing seconds of the clip above listen as Bill O'Reilly promises to replay this segment of his show and apologize for "being an idiot" if the Supreme Court affirms the Affordable Care Act.

         Yeah, when cows fly and shit sandwiches become America's Happy Meal favorite...

LISTENING TO LIMBAUGH HAVING AN ON-AIR ANEURYSM (priceless live radio as a blowhard has a meltdown...)

        What a morning!  After dreading the Supreme Court ruling for months, and making all kinds of inflammatory and snarky comments about the political partisanship of the individual Justices, the decision has been announced... and I'm eating crow with a side of Happy Slaw!
Tastes way better than usual, for some reason!

         But while I channel hopped from Faux to MSNBC to CNN (and the folks at CNN once again embarrassed themselves by posting a banner on the bottom third of their screen announcing "Individual mandate ruled unconstitutional!") I decided to listen as Glenn Beck's radio show ended and Rush Limbaugh's began.
          Beck urged his teabagger listeners to "Saddle up!" for the upcoming election.  As far as I could tell, he wasn't crying or sobbing into the microphone like a drug addict at rehab.

          But speaking of drug addicts, his co-hort in rightwing-nuttery Rush Limbaugh was apoplectic.  Here's the general gist of Rush's take on this abominable decision:  WE WERE LIED TO!  THE LAW IS ACTUALLY A TAX INCREASE! 
          In fact, he called it "the largest tax increase in world history!" and said, "Our freedom of choice just met its Death Panel!"
          When a caller suggested that states could opt out of the Medicare expansion, Rush warned that "a guy like Obama can punish a state", using Louisiana as an example.  What if there were a horrible hurricane, Rush mused, and the state begged the Federal government for emergency funds?  Why, Obama could deny them FEMA cash because they hadn't played ball and participated in the Medicare expansion!

        Got that? Obama would let New Orleans drown to spite Republicans. Just like George W. Bush let New Orleans drown to spite Democrats, Rush??? 
          (on a side note, don't Republicans hate when states beg for federal money anyway?)

          I think he immediately recognized the horrible analogy he was making and took a commercial break.  When he came  back on the air he waxed nostalgic, remembering those low moments of his program's history when he had to struggle to keep depressed followers "engaged".  As an example, he mentioned the day following Bill Clinton's election in 1992.
          According to Rush, that was a show in which he had to keep Republican spirits alive by virtue of his golden tongue and massive intellect.

          Today is apparently another one of those depressing days.

          Gotta go... I'm going for another plate of crow.  This bird's a lot tastier than I had feared!



       I am speechless...

       Who would have thought Chief Justice John Roberts would be the swing vote that affirms The Affordable Care Act???

        Cheers, folks!  I'm breaking out a bottle and raising a toast to the most surprising decision in my lifetime.

"RELAX, FOLKS... I GOT THIS!"                                                               


             State Rep. Joe Carr (The Lascassas Jackass...)

         In the first local affirmation of the adage "No good deed goes unpunished", one of our local teabagger state representatives plans to reintroduce legislation that failed in the last General Assembly session, vowing to make Tennessee's immigration laws the toughest in the nation.
         State Representative Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) is running for reelection against another Republican who claims Carr isn't teabaggy enough on the issue of illegal immigrants in Tennessee.  His opponent, Ryan Harring (who stopped by to ask for my vote yesterday as I was standing in our driveway holding a Bloody Mary...) had this to say about Joe Carr's efforts to make Tennessee less friendly to immigrants during his first term in the House:

“Joe Carr hasn’t done enough to combat illegal immigration and should be doing more to stop the handouts to illegal immigrants. As the taxpayer’s friend, I will make ‘demagnetizing’ Tennessee a priority when elected,” he said.

          According to this morning's issue of The Tennessean, (motto: "Please ignore our rising subscription rates and shrinking print content, we plan to improve our on-line version any day now!") Joe Carr sees the Soupreem's bitch-slap of Arizona's harsh immigration laws as proof that we need the same sort of thing here in Tennessee.  Most folks reading the SCOTUS ruling would hardly see it as a ringing endorsement for such legislation, but most folks don't have Joe Carr's mental acuity.
          Carr says Tennessee is currently infested with over 150,000 illegal immigrants, and that they are devouring over $450 million dollars worth of state resources through health care, education, and court cost expenditures.  Joe doesn't say where he gets his numbers, but hey, if you toss out figures no one bothers to verify them anyway.  He's got some numbers, they must be accurate.  After all, he's a politician with an agenda... He must be getting his facts straight, right?
          Carr and our local state Senator Bill Ketron (sponsor of some of Tennessee's most hilariously embarrassing bills in recent history) took a trip together two years ago to visit Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona, just after she signed SB 1070 into law there.  Apparently, they were impressed by the anti-illegal zealotry on display in Arizona and couldn't wait to bring home some of that southwestern hospitality to the Volunteer State.  Ketron sponsored the Senate version of Carr's failed bill in the last legislative session.
          Heavy sigh...

          On a personal note, I've now met all three of the local politicians involved in this story. 

          Joe Carr knocked on our door two summers ago, handed me a card the size of a church fan, and stood there grinning at me like he'd just eaten magic mushrooms while I glanced over his list of promised legislation.  It was a long list, and I took the time to read some of them out loud while he waited for me to give him my endorsement.
          "Joe?  I don't see one single item on this list that I support."
          He grinned even harder, cocked his head to one side like a cocker spaniel hearing a dog whistle, and said, "Seriously?"
          I shook my head. 
         "Nope.  Not one damn thing.  In fact, I've expressed opinions exactly opposite to almost every proposal on this card.  I'm afraid you've knocked on the one door in this town where you won't be getting a vote.  Sorry."
           He had a little teenager standing alongside of him taking notes on a clipboard, and the kid was obviously eager to get into politics.  I told him it was good to see a young person out working on a campaign, and that he ought to pay attention to local elections and issues in the future.

           I like to encourage thoughtful kids to pay attention to the people they're associating with.  You never know, they might recognize a jackass the next time they see one.

           Like I said, Joe's opponent in this election stopped by to shake my hand and offer me HIS card yesterday.  I was out inspecting some of the flowers at the end of our driveway (and wondering if two weeks of continuous 100 degree heat was enough to kill off the lawn I'm sick of mowing) when he hopped out of a car and jogged over to introduce himself.

           We got off to a bad start, because he began his spiel with,  "I sure hope you're a Republican!"
           A few seconds later he was grinning like a possum and had his head tilted over like a cocker spaniel.
           I did offer him a Bloody Mary, though, just to see if he was willing to discuss my heretical attitudes over a drink.

           He passed on the offer, which was fine with me.  I hate wasting good liquor on people who obviously don't deserve it.

            Keep you eye on Tennessee's legislature this coming session.  No matter which of these clowns wins the seat in the House, they'll make headlines nationwide with some sort of bullshit legislation.

            We're so proud...


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

VETTING MITT'S VEEPS (Chris Christie's temper might be an issue...)

          This is the funniest thing you'll see all day...  UCB Comedy is making a web series with the theme of Mitt Romney's campaign vetting the potential vice presidential selections, and they've begun the series with Chris Christie in the hot seat.

          I'm still laughing...

          "I have a cold!"

ELMO ISN'T TICKLED WITH JEWS IN CENTRAL PARK... (disturbed individual in warm and fuzzy outfit is hauled away in ambulance)

     I'm not at all sure what this fellow's problem is, but dressing up as a cuddly Sesame Street character and spouting anti-Semetic profanities in a park full of children is a great way to make your problems worse.
     These videos were shot as "Elmo" ranted and raved, at one point screaming "I work for John Gotti!" and "Touch my shit!"
      One fellow wearing a coat covered with hearts (irony, much?) got up in "Elmo's" face and let him know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't playing that shit in front of children.  
      As a person who was mercilessly tickled as a young child by older siblings, I can only offer this as a possible explanation:  millions of kids all over the planet have been encouraged to "tickle Elmo" for years and years.  Maybe the sumbitch just snapped?


             Only the most partisan of political observers would actually insist that the new voter ID laws being imposed around the country are meant to deter voter fraud.  Anyone with any knowlege of voter fraud statistics would be able to discern that there hasn't been enough of it to justify the massive numbers of disenfranchised voters who will be turned away from the polls next November.
             But getting a Republican to admit it's all been an underhanded scheme to steal elections is like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle  (where did I read that analogy?...)  Or at least, it WAS impossible, until Pennsylvania's House Majority Leader said it aloud and on camera during a partisan political event.
             Mike Turzai blurted out this "fact" when listing the accomplishments of his state's legislative session.
             Here's what Rachel Maddow wrote in her blog, courtesty of Crooks and Liars:The Republicans in attendance cheered, and I suppose that's to be expected -- the disenfranchisement of traditional Democratic voters is bound to make Republicans applaud.
But but the state lawmaker's candor was a reminder that Pennsylvania's voter-ID law isn't about the integrity of the process; it's about ensuring Republican victories by rigging the game.
State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democratic critic of voter ID, told Cernetich, "This is making clear to everyone what Voter ID was all about. This is about one thing: disenfranchising Democratic voters and rigging elections for Republicans. When they get behind closed doors, they admit it. And that's exactly what Turzai did." 

           And from the same Crooks and Liars article, here's the state's Republican establishment trying to walk-back the meaning of Turzai's comments:
“Rep. Turzai was speaking at a partisan, political event. He was simply referencing, for the first time in a long while, the Republican Presidential candidate will be on a more even keel thanks to Voter ID…Anyone looking further into it has their own agenda,” he told
         I'm curious about that "even keel" phrase...  Is the playing field more level when legitimate American citizens are turned away from the polls in order to favor one particular political party?  Is voter suppression an ideal those hallowed Founding Fathers would have embraced?
         Something tells me Mike Turzai's ten seconds of frank honesty will end up getting his ass called on the carpet by the boys with the money.  They don't like it when someone admits to having helped them rig an election... at least not when the television cameras are filming the event.


          I'm probably one of the only guys who will admit  "When Harry Met Sally" is one his favorite movies of all time.  Romantic comedies aren't supposed to make our lists... not enough explosions, car chases, or mayhem, violence, and blood.

          How can Nora Ephron be dead at 71 years of age?  For that matter, how could a woman write the screenplays for both "Silkwood" and "Sleepless in Seattle"?
          Her work was often brilliant, and she had a knack of bringing out the best in those who were fortunate enough to be filmed saying her lines.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


(I like the fine print below the Photoshopped image: "Made with creme colors that do not exist")

         After Kraft Foods posted a rainbow-colored Oreo Cookie on the cookie's Facebook page (cookies have Facebook pages?  Oh, jeez...) in support of Pride Month, the site received a lot of positive feedback from thousands of "likers"...  those of you who Facebook know all about the "like" button.  It's a big deal to people who Facebook.  (So is sniffing Sharpies, but I digress...)
         Anyway, after a couple of hours the site began to get some blowback from folks who were shocked, shocked!  I say! about the multi-colored Oreo photo.  One wrote pledging to never buy Oreos again.  Another had this to say:
         "Disgusted with Oreos.  Being gay is an abomination in God's eyes.  I won't be buying them anymore."

          Well.  Somewhere out in Topeka there's a glass of milk that's not getting any more Oreos...

          Snacks just won't be the same for Fred Phelps after this shit, I tell you...

          Kraft Foods spokeswoman Basil Maglaris said the company has no intention of producing or selling the rainbow-colored Oreos and added that the company was just "celebrating diversity and inclusiveness" with the Facebook page.  She said the campaign was a "fun reflection of our values."
           I don't even care for Oreos, myself.  But I'm picking up a bag of the damn things just to spite those idiots who have nothing better to do than get all pissy about the color of a cookie's stuffing.

           I look forward to a time in America when a cookie will be judged not by the color of its stuffing, but by the content of its character! 
           And right now, I'm impressed as hell with the character of the folks running Kraft!



          The way this SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act is being delayed again and again has me wondering a couple of things:  First of all, I'd like to know how in the hell they can keep a secret for months, when no other agency in the federal government can seem to keep from springing leaks like a $10 canoe.  Think about it... they voted on this thing months ago, and have already submitted and passed around their opinions to one another.  Nine Soupreems and dozens of clerks are privy to that information, and yet NO ONE HAS A CLUE?

          The other question raised by that first one is this:  If a person had  the inside information on the absolute bottom line of the Court's ruling, could they use that information to profit on the stock market?
          Millions of dollars in medical spending and insurance coverage hang in the balance, and there have been articles (such as this one) written about the potential effect the SCOTUS Affordable Care Act ruling could have on the stock market.  If millions of dollars are at stake, could someone manipulate stock purchases based upon inside information? 

           Just for shits and giggles we should start a juicy rumor about one of Scalia's duck hunting buddies investing heavily in a medical insurance conglomerate!  Maybe someone with ties to another huge corporation that does a lot of no-bid bidness with the government, like Halliburton?  Wonder if Scalia has any friends at Halliburton?



           God, I love Bennett's work in the Chattanooga Times Free Press...

           While the dust settles from yesterday's rulings, five of the Soupreems must be relishing their new powers to influence national politics and terrify some of the country's most vulnerable.

           Most of us are waiting with trepidation for Thursday's scheduled ruling on the Affordable Care Act, but a sizeable percentage of the population is more concerned by what the conservative justices had to say on Arizona's draconian immigration laws.  The court struck down three of that state's new statutes, but allowed the fourth one, the infamous "Papers, please" measure to stand (at least for now).
           Already several other state legislatures are working to advance their own versions of Arizona's racial profiling laws, and unless the lower courts contest the constitutionality of those new laws, we might see scenes from Arizona played out all over the country.

           But watching Arizona's smug Governor Jan Brewer bray to the cameras that her state had been "vindicated", even after getting bitch-slapped by a majority of the court's justices on three out of four cases, was indeed reminiscent of the Black Knight's state of denial in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"...





        It's easy to see why this kind of exercise might be more fun than most...

Monday, June 25, 2012


         So the Soupreems haven't released their eagerly anticipated/feared ruling on The Affordable Care Act, but they HAVE ruled against some aspects of Arizona's immigration policy and ruled against the state of Montana's efforts to rein in corporate spending on political campaigns, saying their Citizens United ruling trumps states' rights in such matters.
          Whoo boy... can't wait for the other shoe to drop.

           tick  tick  tick  tick  tick  

"NO HOLDING-HANDS" LAW TAKES EFFECT IN TENNESSEE CLASSROOMS (and lawmakers are pissy about that characterization of their bill...)

         When your state has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation, your best bet is to teach the kids comprehensive sex education in the schools so they can better prepare themselves for sexual activity and birth control methods.  Or at least that's what people with common sense might suggest as a reasonable path toward fewer pregnant teens.  Unfortunately, it seems quite a few of the legislators sent to Nashville in recent years are allergic to common sense.
         According to an article in this morning's issue of The Tennessean, (motto: "We don't make up this shit... You voted for these idiots!")  some of the legislators involved in sponsoring the new sex education rules are unhappy with the way their bill has been characterized.  They wanted 'abstinence only' taught in the classrooms, using the Bristol Palin method of contraception which has proven so successful it's been ridiculed from coast to coast.  What they damn sure DON'T want are teachers actually passing along useful information about sexual activity, contraception, or anything that might "stimulate" their hormonal children during class.
          So they put language into the new law forbidding "gateway sexual activity" in schools.  No one is really sure what constitutes "gateway sexual activity", but like the vague Supreme Court definition of pornography, they'll know it when they see it.

          Sarcastic critics of the new law have labeled it the "No Holding-Hands" law, and Governor Haslam was blasted for signing it into law at the end of the last legislative session.

          Like I said, no one is certain what 'gateway sexual activity' means, but if a teacher gets too detailed with the discussion in sex-ed class, that teacher can be sued under the new law and fined up to $500.  Think the threat of a lawsuit and a $500 fine might dampen the discussion a bit?  In an age where teachers are already underpaid and under assault from all sides, do you think any of them are willing to risk their jobs or a chunk of their meager pay to actually educate teenagers on the ins-and-outs of sexual activity?  Nope.
           So we teach sex education by a method we would never use for any other subject:  we ignore specifics, and hope they get the facts on their own.  And most of the kids certainly will get the facts on their own.  In backseats, or at home while mom and dad are working late, or behind the bleachers at the school where other hormonal children gather to hold hands.
           We're so proud...

THE LONELIEST SOUND IN THE WORLD (cicadas emerge one year late to the party...)


          I was sitting out on the back porch yesterday evening when this conversation cranked up between two male magicicada cicadas:

Buzzer One:  "Hey, where the hell are the girls?"

Buzzer Two:  "What fucking year is this?"

Buzzer One:  "I distinctly heard mom say 'We emerge in 2012'... Isn't that what you heard?"

Buzzer Two:  "Yep... pretty sure that's what mom said, 2012.  What time have you got?"

Buzzer One:  (checking his calendar)  "I got June, 2012, right on the money."

Buzzer Two:  "Then where the hell is everybody?"

Buzzer One:  "This sucks."

Buzzer Two:  "Are we late, or early?"

Buzzer One:  "What difference does it make, asshole!  Either way, we're not getting laid!"

Buzzer Two:  "This sucks..."

          (fade to black...)

          If these cranky fellows had popped up last summer when everyone else was emerging, they could have had their choice of the ladies.  As it is, they're pretty much on their own.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

HYBRID GRASS PRODUCING CYANIDE AND KILLING CATTLE IN TEXAS (but it's NOT genetically modified organisms at play)

           Here's a perfect example of a cautionary tale for those of you who (like me) might have been tempted to run with the first website explanation for what's happened to a herd of cattle in Texas.
           The first news site I clicked on to research this story claimed that 15 of 18 cattle in Elgin, Texas, had died after ingesting "Tifton 85", a 'genetically modified hybrid grass' that had suddenly begun to vent cyanide gas.  The article stated that the farmer whose cows had died had been growing the stuff in his fields for 15 years without incident, and that other fields of Tifton 85 in the area also tested positive for cyanide.
            Immediately I began to suspect that a genetically modified crop had mutated, and that the mutation had taken this long to take place, confirming my fears of genetically altered crops being used commercially.
            However, a little additional digging produced several other sites that explained Tifton 85 to be a standard hybrid cross between African Bermuda grass and Tifton 68, named for Tifton, Georgia, where it was developed.  Scientists say bermuda grass produces hydrucyanic acid, and that it might concentrate in periods of extreme drought.

            My radar goes off whenever I read or hear of a genetically modified product being foisted upon the general public, especially when said product is not labelled as "Frankenfood".
            But this particular strain of grass isn't genetically modified, and I had to completely tamp down my initial urge to run with the first explanation I stumbled over on the web.
            Not that this isn't troubling, regardless of the hybrid or modification.   A herd of cattle being turned out into a field of lush Bermuda grass ought to be happy campers, not found bellowing and dying hours later. 

            To those good folks who are living near Elgin, Texas, I can only offer this:  pack your shit and move to Tennessee.  You can mow your lawn without a haz-mat suit here.



       I had to put down the paper and show this to my lovely (and extremely dangerous when the weather's this friggin' hot) wife this morning.  



Email inbox:  from Barack Obama  "Join me for dinner!"
                       from Nancy Pelosi  "Don't let them steal this election!"
                       from Al Franken  "Stand up for Wisconsin's teachers!"
                       from  "Help us stop the outsourcing of American jobs!"

        Maybe there are some of you reading this who, like me, get daily emails from various Democratic Party officials asking for contributions in order to stem the tide of rightwing-nuttery that threatens to infest the entire country.  I get them from local and state Democratic folks, as well as from well-known national Democratic leaders.  Shit, I'm even on Barack and Michelle's email list from time to time.

        The subject line changes with the "issue du jour", but the message is almost always the same:  make a donation or risk watching the America you know and love become a reflection of Tea Party madness and Koch Brothers plutocracy.

         I guess if you've made donations to the Party in the past, or if you've offered financial or physical support to specific candidates, you're on their "hit list" for solicitations.  I used to actually open those emails and read their messages.  Now I just delete them without a glance, just like the ones I get from my conservative friends and relatives.
         It's not that I don't want to help.  And it's not that I don't realize the stakes in the upcoming election cycle.  And it's not just that we're a little cash-tight at the moment...  I ignore those pleas for my help basically because I don't see how my contribution could possible matter in the new reality brought about by the Citizens United ruling.

         If I were able to donate every dollar I've ever earned in my entire adult life, it still wouldn't touch what one Republican billionaire can offer in a single donation.  "One man/One vote" might still be the motto of democracy, but it certainly doesn't describe the financial reality one Supreme Court decision has brought to American politics.

         I find myself pondering a donation, then say aloud, "What's the point?"

         Anyone else out there feel the same way?  Have the rich become the only voices in the choir, rendering the rest of us to watch from behind the soundproof glass?

         I certainly don't feel as if my meager resources would make the slightest difference. 

         Knowing my frustrations must be shared by millions of others, can it be said that Citizens United has forever changed America's political system?  After all, to the winners go the spoils.  And the next wave of "winners" will undoubtedly make appointments to the Supreme Court and appellate courts across the country, thereby protecting the rigged system they've put in place.

         How do we fight back when our combined resources can be negated with the cash one or two dedicated Republican donors carry around in their wallets?


                Someone has too much time on her hands...


Saturday, June 23, 2012

JOE THE PLUMBER BACKTRACKS ON IDIOTIC CAMPAIGN VID ("Holocaust? Who said anything about a holocaust?")

         Ever wonder why people who get caught saying things on tape bother to pretend they never said the things we all watched them say?  Do they not understand how video works?
         Case in point... Samuel Wurtzelbacher, better known as Sam the Sniper (or Joe the Plumber, depends on whom you're asking) put out a campaign ad a week ago in which he connected some dots for folks who have trouble with puzzles.  In his ad he mentions some historical facts, among them that Armenians and Jews were slaughtered after being required to give up their weapons.
          When a shitstorm blew back in this dick head's face, he did what so many do these days:  he denied saying what he was on tape saying.
           In case you missed it, here's Joe's ad:         

         Now, maybe it's just me, but it seems as if Joe was saying that Armenians and Jews were slaughtered because they weren't armed.  Jewish groups raised hell about the ad, and as soon as wiser minds were able to point out how offensive his ad actually was, ol' Joe started doing a crayfish impression, trying to crawl back up under his rock.
         Here's a quote from an interview with the Toledo Blade, as provided by Think Progress:
“All I said was gun control was implemented, and then governments proceeded to violate human rights,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “Nowhere did I mention the Holocaust or was I even talking about it.”

          Got that?  All Joe did was talk about gun control and the deaths of millions of European Jews, and somehow the liberal media took that to imply he was talking about the Holocaust.
           Here's another quote from the same article:
His campaign spokesman Phil Christofanelli told the paper that the story was “generated by left-wing liberal blogs and picked up by the ‘sympathetic liberal media.

           Jeez, Sam/Joe...  You're pathetic. 


         Maher had us laughing out loud last night with his New Rules segment about the GOP acting like 14 year-old boys.  Pretty damn succinct.

MY HOMETOWN: ONCE THE CAPITAL OF TENNESSEE (FOR ONE DAY...) AND THE SITE OF THE WORLD'S WORST COAL ASH SPILL (House GOP wants to stop new EPA controls on coal ash, so it's part of the Transportation Bill?)

          Ah, the old hometown.  I grew up in small town called Kingston in east Tennessee.  There was nothing remarkable about the place, other than the fact that it was located near the confluence of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers, with the Emory River only a stone's throw to the northeast.  We didn't have a public tennis court or a movie theater in the town when I was a kid, and they still don't have a theater.  ("If you want movies, get a car and go find one.")

          But Kingston has made headlines a time or two in its history.  For one thing, the town was once used by the Tennessee General Assembly to trick the Cherokee Nation out of thousands of acres of territory.  "Trick" the Cherokee's out of territory by using a town?  Yep... The Cherokee village and it's chief Tollunteeskee agreed to cede militarily strategic land to the state of Tennessee if the village of Kingston was named the state's capital.
          So the General Assembly assembled (that's what they do) in Kingston on Sept. 21, 1807, declared the town to be the state's capital, then adjourned and returned to the 'real' capital in Knoxville  (Nashville is the capital now) the same day.  The following day they rescinded their vote and Kingston was no longer the capital of the state.  But the territory ceded by the Cherokee had changed hands, and technically all agreements had been kept.

           Pretty shitty way to steal some property, don't you think?

          Well, Kingston's sordid little history as the pawn in that land-grab isn't its worst moment.  Not by a long shot.

           You may have heard about Kingston in the national news back in December of 2008.  That's when a coal ash containment pond burst through its earthen levee and dumped over a billion gallons of toxic coal ash slurry into the Emory River at the TVA's Kingston fossil fuel plant.  Over 300 acres of land was destroyed by the spill, and TVA has spent over a billion dollars trying to at least APPEAR to give a shit about the disaster and its effects on the river.

           One result of that disaster, the world's worst coal ash spill in history, was that the EPA moved to place regulations on coal ash as a hazardous waste.  New regulations were put in place, and now, three years after the shit hit the water in Kingston, a lot of corporate pressure is being brought to bear on Congress to nullify the EPA's new rules.
           And when corporate pressure is put on Congress, members of a certain political party jump like frog legs in a hot skillet.  An amendment to nullify the EPA's "onerous" coal ash regulations has been tacked onto the Transportation Bill that is currently stalled in the House of Reprehensibles.  It's right in there with the Keystone Pipeline bullshit amendment.

           What's a coal ash regulation doing in a transportation bill, you might ask?  Good question.  Good luck getting someone to explain it to you.  I think the best answer to that question goes something like this:
           "Because we can, that's why.  Now go away."

           When a billion gallons of toxic waste from what was once the world's largest coal burning power plant on Earth spills into your hometown's farmland and river, you tend to pay attention to the people who are responsible.  They've said all the right things.  They've spent a lot of money.  Bulldozers have pushed millions of tons of dirt around and hauled off unknown quantities of toxic residue.  People displaced by the spill have asked for compensation, and some of them have gotten some relief.  Promises have been made to the locals that the clean-up will continue for as long as it takes.

           But another promise was once made to the "locals" near Kingston, and they lost a lot of land as a result.

           Coal ash disposal as a transportation issue.  That's a good one.

          And one of our state's Congressional delegation has an editorial in today's issue of The Tennessean, arguing in favor of weakening those EPA regulations, because government regulations kill jobs.  Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Republican, of course) has a lot to say about government regulations.  She doesn't like them, not even a little, bitty bit.

           But go tell that to the people living downstream from the coal ash spill in Kingston, Rep. Blackburn. 
            I'm sure they'd love to give you some feedback.


          Found this little gem over on Crooks and Liars, photo courtesy of Bluegal (Fran)...
Can this be true?  And if it is, why haven't we heard about before now?
          Mitt flies from airport to airport in his private jet, boards his campaign bus, then rolls over to the next campaign appearance on the bus as if THAT's been his mode of transportation across the "fly over" states?

           Hey, have you ever spent several hours on a bus?  Would you have been on said bus if you owned your own frigging jet?

          Jeez... is there anything genuine about this guy?  I guess he'd take his private yacht if they had ports in Peoria...


              Yesterday I posted a political ad for a candidate named Ryan Combe in Utah in which he "comes out" as a Democrat to his staunchly Republican parents.  It's the post below this one if you want to see a genuinely funny, pointed political ad.
              Today I stumbled over THIS one, a Republican attack ad sponsored by something called "Right Change" using a parody of the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" advertisements to lambaste Obama.
               But I found myself nodding along to some of their "assumptions", thinking to myself, "Yep!  That's my man!"

               Out of a sense of fairness (but mostly a warped sense of humor) I thought I'd post it, as well.

               "Stay ignorant, my friends!"

Friday, June 22, 2012


           Wish I had a little spare cash lying around, because I'd make a donation to Ryan Combe's campaign website in a heartbeat if I could. 

        Here's a quote lifted from The Political Carnival's site:

I went to Argentina on an LDS mission. While there, I had first-hand experience with a country that does not have a responsible, transparent, and democratic government. Many times I walked the dirt roads, encountering amazing people who could not even spell their own names. Upon my return to the States, I was astonished and disheartened to see politicians mount attacks on policies and organizations that prevent our nation from resembling the conditions I saw on my mission. The most fundamental means of personal elevation are those that balance personal responsibility and community good to fuel vibrant communities. With the evaporation of America’s middle-class, we will see a loss of opportunities to improve our nation and world. Without a strong middle-class, America will no longer be a place for entrepreneurs and without a strong entrepreneurial class of Americans, our nation will weaken.
Having been raised in Northern Utah, the values of community and service are a part of my fiber and I believe that our community’s values more closely align with the Democratic Party. I encourage everyone to read the Democratic Party Platform because you might just be a Utah Democrat.     


          Yesterday was a strange day in the news... Stranger than most.  Sometimes you expect a little reality to seep into the dreamed-up drama spewing from the cable news talking heads, and other days  you just reach for the remote and hope there's a Criminal Minds marathon on the Law and Order network...

          A study conducted by a Dartmouth professor has concluded that 63% of Republicans STILL BELIEVE Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion after 9/11.  I'm not sure how often that myth has to be refuted before it sinks in, but apparently if you get all of your news from one particularly fact-free network there's a good chance you'll never know what the hell is going on in the real world.  The same study showed that 27% of independents still buy the Bush Administration bullshit about WMD, and somehow (!) 15% of Democrats accept that crap as fact, as well.  Who are these idiots?  And how do we get them to stop responding to pollsters?

          Meanwhile, the Fast and Furious controversy rages on in Darrell Issa's mind, and the rest of us have to watch yet another delusional witch hunt take place in Congressional committee rooms.  One has to wonder if these things would happen so often if there were no television cameras allowed in those hearings, or if the only way to prevent such grandstanding theatrics by the opposition party is to make sure Democrats are that opposition party...
          While some of us find the exertion of executive privilege to be an overused duck and cover routine regularly employed by guilty dogs and the previous occupant of the Oval Office, it seems as if it might be helpful if someone reminded the noisy folks at Faux News Corpse that this entire operation BEGAN UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH.  Back then the "gunwalking" plan was called "Operation Wide Receiver", and it morphed into "Fast and Furious".  Whatever you want to call it, it was batshit stupid and everyone involved who DIDN'T object to the plan ought to be forced to watch reruns of Beavis and Butthead in Spanish.
           Here's what this is really about:

          While all of this was going on in Congress, another little cluster-fuck of bullies was yelling at a 68 year-old grandmother who was serving as a bus monitor for the Greece Central School District near Rochester, New York.  A film clip caught some of the verbal abuse endured by the woman, and now a fund has been established in her name.  So far over $450,000 has been raised for Karen Klein from around the country.
           Now, I'm as pissed about the actions of these little sociopaths as anyone, and there's nothing I'd like better than ten or fifteen seconds of "private conversation" with each of them.  But a half million dollars for ten minutes of verbal abuse?  What about the bullied gay kids who put up with that amount of abuse on a daily basis at school?  What about the ones who finally can't take it anymore and end up taking their own lives to escape the cruelty of their classmates?  How many of the folks donating to Grandma's fund support anti-bullying legislation?  Or do they think, like some of Tennessee's Republican legislators, that it's okay to bully gay kids as long as you're doing it from the perspective of religious objections to their lifestyle?
           When do we start a fund for those victims of bullying?  Oh, I think I see the difference... you have to have compelling video tape evidence of the crime, and it helps if the victim is elderly.  And straight. We tend to ignore bullying when it occurs to gay kids, because, after all, we ALL had to put up with some bullying when WE were kids, and besides, most of the little shits we've met NEED some grief in their lives.

            Meanwhile, DEA Chief Michele Leonhart couldn't handle the following bit of Congressional bullying:

Jesus-fucking-Christ... are we so officially anti-drug that we can't distinguish the difference between someone shooting heroin or smoking crack cocaine from someone taking a toke from a joint?

Heavy sigh... apparently, the crackpots can't tell crack from pot.

I'm going outside.  Fuck it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

YOU SUBSIDIZE "BIG GOD" THE SAME WAY YOU SUBSIDIZE "BIG OIL" OR "BIG PHARMA" (how much do tax breaks for organized religion cost us? More than you might think...)

          Have you ever stopped to wonder how much money in tax revenue is ignored by the various government entities of this country when it comes to the tax exemptions offered to organized religion?  I have, and often.  Of course, being a man of modest means and absolutely no ambition, I haven't bothered to do the research necessary to put a dollar figure on that amount.
          While wandering around the world wide webisphere looking for things worthy of your attention, I happened to stumble over a post by Joe McKen at Prelator pro Causa, a site you should visit instead of wasting your time here.  Joe's linked his post to a study by the Council for Secular Humanism in which they put a dollar figure on those government tax exemptions, and the amount is staggering.

           According to their research, the federal government, along with local and state governments, allows well over $71 billion (with a damn "B") worth of taxable income to go uncollected every year in this country.  Organized religions, their churches, and many of their employees are granted tax-exempt status, and because of those exemptions a great deal of potential revenue is lost annually.

           Critics of such reports like to point out that churches donate millions of dollars to charitable works every year, and that without those tax exemptions they would be unable to make such donations.  But if you read the report, you quickly learn that even the most generous of religious organizations fails to donate even a modest 50% of their annual income to the physical needs of the people they help.  Most religions and churches come nowhere close to that amount. 
           For example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) claims it spent a billion dollars, which sounds nice until you realize that's only .7% of its total income between the years of 1985 and 2008 on physical charity.  The United Methodist Church donated 29% of its income to the recipients of its charities.  On average, churches in the United States claim they spend 71% of their income on operating expenses.
           In contrast, the Red Cross donates 92.1% of its reported income directly to those it serves, using only 7.9% for administrative costs. 

           When you drive around communities like this one in Rutherford County, Tennessee, and find mega-churches on every other corner, often taking up hundreds of acres of the county's prime real estate, then realize they pay NO PROPERTY TAXES, NO INCOME TAXES, and NO SALES TAXES on their holdings or purchases, you might wonder why we're strangling our public schools, firefighters, police officers, and other services while this potential revenue is ignored.
            And when you consider that many of the churches around the country offer legalized gambling in the form of bingo, you start to realize that casinos don't have a thing on the God Biz.