SLIDESHOW EXPLANATION

THE PHOTOS SCROLLING BY IN THE SLIDESHOW ON THE LEFT ARE ORIGINAL AND CAN BE VIEWED OR PURCHASED AT WWW.WIZARDPIXPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Friday, August 31, 2012

I DON'T PLAY "FANTASY FOOTBALL" (But that doesn't mean I don't have a football fantasy team...)

 
     ( If I don't jump on every political story that comes by in the next few weeks, forgive me. My annual lover has returned, and she demands my undivided attention. )


           As if my life doesn't have enough aggravations already, it's college football season again.

          After stewing in the humiliating soup of the season-ending loss to the lowly Kentucky Wildcats, the Vols first loss to the 'Cats in 26 years, Tennessee is finally taking the field again tonight.  It will either be a case of redemption, or yet another humbling defeat.  And I'm not sure I can handle another defeat.

           You have to have grown up in east Tennessee to understand.  If you're one of those college football fans who can perfectly mimic the voice and inflections of every play-by-play man who's ever been assigned to broadcast the radio games of your team, you might have a clue.

           I'm often asked why I don't play "fantasy football", given my passion for the game.  And the reason is quite simple:  Enough of my weekends are already spoiled by "reality" football without me looking for fantasy misery.

           Somehow I've grown to be a 58 year-old man who can have his entire life's attitude warped or uplifted by the actions of 18-to-22 year-old kids wearing the Orange and White.  And that's a perilous state of mind, considering the recent futility and mediocrity of the Vols football teams.  After going over 30 years with only two coaches, we're now on our third coach in the past four seasons.  And it shows. 

            Tonight's game against the North Carolina Wolfpack of the ACC is being played on a neutral field in Atlanta, in a dome where the Vols have NEVER played a decent game of football.  Oh sure, they've won a bowl game or two in that building, and I was there for two of their SEC Championship Game wins in the 90's.   But in every game at the Atlanta Dome the Vols have played stupid, embarrassing, poorly coached football.  And somehow they've still managed to win some of those games.
            
             And to the Hooey Gods who scheduled this game for a Friday night, let me offer the middle finger on each hand.  Friday nights are for high school football games, and local fans shouldn't have to choose between supporting the local teams or staying home to watch the Vols.
I should have my camera at a district game being played by a high school I cover, but like I said, it's an all-consuming passion that won't tolerate rival suitors.  I considered shooting the high school game and letting the DVR catch the Vols, but... who was I trying to kid.  I can't focus on work if the Vols are playing.

            So I'll settle back, chew my nails, nervously check the clock every two minutes between now and kickoff tonight.  And within ten minutes of action they will have reminded me why I need to find a new hobby. 

            It's like an addiction to a drug that's never as good as you'd hoped.  You know, the hopes you have for your "fantasy" team.  Running back the opening kickoff, stuffing the other team with stifling D, swarming on special teams' play, brilliant calls brilliantly executed.  Fantasy-land success from the opening coin flip to the final whistle.
            That's how it plays out in my daydreams.  That's the dream that floats me away as I'm drifting off to sleep at night.  The eternal optimism of a new season, an unblemished record at the start of a potentially memorable year. 

            Here we go.

            "It's football time in Tennessee!"

            (god help us...)

          

MITT ROMNEY DID IT HIMSELF! DAILY SHOW PARODY OF ROMNEY'S BIOGRAPHICAL TRIBUTE FILM...

     



CLAY BENNETT, AGAIN... (another instant classic)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

HOW CAN YOU TELL WHEN PAUL RYAN IS TELLING A LIE? HIS MOUTH WILL BE OPEN...


           "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." ought to go down forever more in the history books as the standard explanation for blatantly lying about your opponent in a political campaign.  That quote was attributed to Romney campaign spokesman Neil Newhouse when he was asked by reporters to explain misleading statements and obvious falsehoods uttered by the Romney campaign in recent days.

           In other words, "We don't intend to let pesky ol' facts get in the way of our narrative."

           In keeping with that promise to obscure and obfuscate, Paul Ryan took to the podium at the GOP convention in Tampa last night, and let loose a string of questionable assertions about President Obama.  Obviously, truth in politics is a relative thing, but one would think a candidate would avoid telling out and out lies only moments after pledging a campaign of ethics.

           Ryan likes to point to a GM plant in Wisconsin that closed shortly after candidate Barack Obama visited during the 2008 presidential campaign, saying that Obama had promised to keep the plant open if elected.  He calls that a broken promise that decimated a town in his home state, and blames Obama for the closure.
            Only problem with that narrative is the facts.  Those pesky ol' facts...  Obama never "promised" to keep the plant open, but (according to a reporter who fact checked the original speech) did suggest that "a government partnership with automakers could keep the plant open."
             Oh, and one other pesky ol' fact about that GM plant...  It was shut down in December of 2008, before Obama took office.  George W. Bush was in the Oval Office at the time.  Just sayin'...

             Moving on, Ryan then fell back on one of this campaign's more spurious charges, that Obama has moved $716 billion out of Medicare to apply to his Affordable Care Act, as if Obama has taken that money directly from seniors in need.  The fact (damn those facts, again!) is that this money was taken from reimbursements to doctors and hospitals, saving the system money, and did not affect one senior's Medicare payments.
             Oh yeah, just for the record, Paul Ryan's budget plan calls for the same method of savings. 

              He blames Obama for letting the Standard and Poor's debt rating for the United States to be downgraded for the first time in history during the debt ceiling fight in the last session of Congress.  But he neglects to mention that officials at Standard and Poor's pointed to Tea Party obstinacy on the debt ceiling negotiations as the reason for that downgrade, a Tea Party effort led by none other than (you guessed it) Paul Ryan.

              Again, it's inconvenient for Republicans when facts have a well-known liberal bias.

             Rep. Ryan wants America to know that President Obama neglected to support a deficit commission's report.  Rep. Ryan would just as soon you NOT know that he voted against that same deficit commission when given the opportunity to support it himself.

              Your average voter tuning in to watch Paul Ryan speak probably doesn't know the facts behind any of Ryan's points, and my guess is the vast majority of people who bothered to watch the actual speeches at the Republican Convention don't care what the facts are.  Most viewers found something else to watch last night, and those that did tune in for the convention are probably already in the tank for the GOP, regardless of what was said, or not said, from the podium. 

             But when the facts are this easy to discern, shouldn't someone be held accountable for statements that mislead or are blatant lies?

             Nah...  That would mean letting the campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.

             And you know you can't trust those pesky ol' facts.  Not when you're operating in a reality free universe, like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.
 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WATCH AND LISTEN TO GOP DELEGATES "WELCOME" PUERTO RICAN OFFICIAL AS SHE'S INTRODUCED, THEN TELL ME THIS PARTY WELCOMES MINORITY VOTERS

         Puerto Rican Chairwoman of the Committee on Permanent Organization Zoraida Fonalledas was introduced to the GOP convention's delegates, and suddenly the hall erupted into chants of "USA!  USA!",  preventing her from being heard as she tried to begin her address to the convention. 
         Republican Party mouthpiece (and current RNC chairman) Reince Priebus had to go to the podium to restore order, telling the screaming delegates to "show some respect."
         Before anyone claims this was a spontaneous outpouring of patriotic zeal, watch the video first.  If those screaming zealots were to make a point by yelling and gesturing at this Latino woman who dared to attempt to address "their" convention, understand this:  their "point" was well-taken by minority voters, especially Hispanic voters, all over the United States.

          This is the Big Tent philosophy on full display.  I dare you to defend this kind of rude behavior, or to find a corresponding event at the Democratic Convention next month.

           These people don't see America as a nation of "us" all.  They see it as a nation of "us" and "them."

****************************update update update update***************************

          There are sites on-line (such as this one) claiming that the "racist" chants were in fact calls for Ron Paul delegates to be seated, while others were chanting for them to be shown the door.  The fact that a Latino woman was trying to speak when they went off (for whatever reason) isn't up for debate.
           I'll stand corrected if this was misreported on Huffington Post, or if I've taken their slant on the story at face value.  After re-watching the vid it appears that some are chanting "Seat them now!" while others are mouthing "Get them out!"  Obviously, not everyone is chanting "USA!"

           If I'm proved wrong, or if the original story was in error, I intend to pull this post and apologize for the incorrect assumption.  But I'm not holding my breath. 
 


I DON'T THINK I CAN WATCH (OR LISTEN TO) ANY MORE OF THE GOP CONVENTION SPEECHES (I'm worried about brain damage...)



            I came in from shooting middle school volleyball and football last night and didn't have time to actually watch the GOP convention.  But I did turn it up loud enough for me to hear the speeches from my chair in front of the computer in my office, and after a while I realized I was about to do some serious damage to myself if I didn't turn it off.

            There's a physical limit to how often a liberal, open-minded, intelligent adult can facepalm himself listening to conservatives before he's killed enough brain cells to join their ranks.

            Frothy Boy Santorum did it for me.  Listening to his paean to his dear, departed coal-minin' grampa with the gnarly hands was the appetizer.  His foray into the welfare work requirement (and the current conservative lie about Obama's waiving of that requirement) was the main course.  But the touching bit about his daughter's physical and mental disabilities made me step outside to spit. 

            According to Rick, all of our problems would go away if we'd only embrace the political realities of the 1800's.  No health care for the infirm, unless they paid for it themselves.  No abortion rights for women, because every birth, no matter the circumstances of conception, is a precious little miracle worthy of our life's devotion.  Nothing for those in need, unless it's offered by a community church, because only churches can distinguish the truly deserving from those who just want to mooch off of society's generous tit.

            And apparently, according to Santorum, all we need to do to make sure everything is right and prosperous is require folks who spawn to marry.  Marriage, between a man and a woman (no man on dog allowed), is the key.  God bless all you single moms, but if you're having trouble raising kids on your own, you should have stayed with the abusive asshole who raped you that night after he came in from drinking with his buddies.  You blew it, big time.  Tough shit.

           Pretty sure I'm over the GOP and their little party in Tampa.  Thanks, Rick.

TOO BUSY TO WRITE, HAVE SOME GUANO WHILE YOU WAIT...















Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN EVENT AT MURRAY ENERGY'S CENTURY MINE WAS MANDATORY FOR COMPANY EMPLOYEES, EVEN THOUGH THEY LOST A DAY'S PAY (and could go on a short shit-list if they failed to attend...)


         So here's the deal... You're a coal miner in Beallsville, Ohio, earlier this month doing work 90% of us would walk away from.A company memo is posted letting you know that Mitt Romney is going to be coming to town for a campaign event, and that it would be in your best interests to be there when he does.  In fact, attendance is mandatory.  The mine will be shut down, but they'll be calling the roll, and if you're not there, well... 
         Trouble is, you're one of those check-to-check people.  You have family obligations and bills to pay, and this "event" falls on one of your work days.  You're expected to show up, cheer heartily for Mitt Romney as he gives a stump speech about energy and clean coal, knowing your next paycheck will be a day short. 
          Company execs claim the mining operations were shut down at the request of the Secret Service.  The Romney campaign and the Secret Service say the mine was shut down by Murray Energy of its own accord.
          Regardless of who gave the order to stop mining operations, a photo op was facilitated as soot covered miners stood behind Romney as he gave his speech.  Company CEO Robert Moore, who has donated almost a million dollars to help defeat Obama, said “there were 3,000 coal miners who are frightened and scared to death that Barack Obama is going to destroy their lives"
         

          Ever wonder how they get such enthusiastic crowds to attend the events of someone so dull and uninspiring?  Well, it might just be that their jobs depend upon them being there.

         Here's the interview by WWVA with Rob Moore, the Chief Financial Officer of Murray Energy, and he'll tell you workers' attendance was mandatory, but that the company doesn't "force" people to attend mandatory events.


FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHY IT'S SO HARD TO TALK TO SOME CONSERVATIVES...



           

Monday, August 27, 2012

CHURCH LADY PARTY THREATENS TO END PORNOGRAPHY IN AMERICA (not only to they object to you having sex with others, they don't like it when you play with yourself!)


           I just found an interesting story on Huffington Post concerning the Republican Party's platform and their war on porn...
           According to this story, the new Party platform will include a plank dedicated to the "vigorous" enforcement of anti-pornography laws in this country.  Someone even went back a few years and found this quote by Mitt Romney at a campaign stop in a the previous presidential election:

"I wanna make sure that every new computer sold in this country after I'm president has installed on it a filter to block all pornography and that parents can click that filter to make sure their kids don't see that kinda stuff coming in on their computer," Romney said at a campaign stop in Iowa in 2007.

          Can you imagine that?  They want to put filters on computers so that they can block porn from reaching the children.  We must think of the children!

          Let's see if we can sum it up... The Republican Party is against contraception, because it leads to "fucking for fun" instead of for precious little miracles of birth.  They're only in favor of sex between consenting adults of opposite sexes, and only then if they've gotten married first.  That's why they're against gay marriage, by the way, because letting gays marry would tacitly endorse gay sex, and we just can't have that going on.  I mean, yuck, right?  ("Shhh! Back in the closet!  I'll be there in a second!") 
 
          They don't mind paying for sex, though, because that's the American Way.  Capitalism at work in the world's oldest profession.

          But they damn sure don't want America's youth trolling the cyber-slutty world of pornography with one hand on the mouse and the other reaching for more lube... The very thought of someone enjoying himself makes Republicans' noses burn like a hemp bonfire.  That's why airport restrooms are their chosen peep show booths...

          Are these some sad old repressed sumbitches, or what?

          Republicans don't have time for masturbation.  They're too busy fucking America!

         

GOP CONVENTION HOPES TO DISPLAY "REPUBLICAN DIVERSITY" FOR THE CAMERAS (but like "compassionate conservative", it's an oxymoron...)

       
            One of the funnier things you'll see at this year's Republican convention in Tampa (provided there IS a convention, and they haven't all been blown away by Hurricane Isaac) will be the remarkable display of racial diversity on the stage during prime time television coverage.  Republicans may not actually give a shit about minorities or their particular problems, as they've made abundantly clear through their legislation and primary campaign rabble rousing, but they definitely want to give the impression that they are a diverse party welcoming to all ethnic groups.

             The only problem the Republican Party elites have with this public charade is finding actual Republicans of color who aren't clownish opportunists.  Every state's delegation to the convention will include a minority member, or even two if they have that many, and those minority Republicans will be sought out and ushered onto the convention stage like so many extras in a Spike Lee movie.

             A casual observer who tunes in to see what the networks are bothering to show us will be dazzled by the wide array of ethnicity on display.  They'll see Indian Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and they'll see folks in turbans and head scarfs and yamakas.  If you watch the convention coverage on Faux News, you'll be treated to interview after interview with minority Republicans who have suddenly become spokesmen for the Party.

            The obvious targets for this special appearance of the Pander Express are America's undecided, independent voters, that sliver of the electorate not already committed to one party or the other.  That eight or nine percent of the American public will tune in and (the GOP hopes) be impressed by this overwhelming outpouring of love and inclusiveness.  The flaps of the Big Tent will be wide open for folks of color and foreign ethnicity, and there will be some folks fooled into believing the Republicans truly are a diverse group representing all Americans.

             I wouldn't be surprised if they brought a classroom of little Latino children on stage to sing songs in Spanish during the run-up to Romney's coronation.  It will be something to behold.

             And then the cameras will be turned off, the spotlights will dim, and the old, rich, white men who run the Republican Party (and America) will smile as they go backstage to toast their successful portrayal of the GOP as something other than what it truly is:  a bastion of WASPy country clubbers.

             But those who have been paying attention to the words and actions of these elected officials will remember those primary debates.  They'll remember the applause lines.  They'll remember the utter contempt shown for people on government assistance.  They'll remember hearing the cheers when a gay American military serviceman's question about Don't Ask-Don't Tell was ridiculed during one debate.  They'll remember hearing candidate after candidate try to out-bigot one another when it comes to building fences (electrified? hell, why not!) along our southern border with Mexico.  They'll remember the insulting demeanor of candidates when asked about anything having to do with minority issues, especially if the moderator asking the question was a person of color.

              The Republican Party would like you to watch their convention and take from it the impression that the GOP is nothing less than "Good Times" or "The Jeffersons" when it comes to diversity, when in reality the Party is much more closely related to "Happy Days" or "Mayberry RFD."

               But it will be hilarious to watch, just the same.

               "Excuse me, but would you mind coming on stage to stand behind one of our racist flame-throwing speakers?  Sure, you can bring your sisters!  You, and you, and you, just follow me!   Uh... not you, sir.  We already have enough white men for this scene.  You can help out by cheering really loud every chance you get!"

          

Friday, August 24, 2012

ROMNEY CRACKS BIRTHER JOKE, HURRICANES AND REPUBS STORM TAMPA, AND DELEGATES ARE OFFERED FREE ADMISSION TO GAY SPA AND BATHHOUSE...


             Don't you love it when a plan comes together?  Republicans have been blathering for weeks that they'd love to elevate the tone of the campaign, instead of having reporters and late night comics feasting upon unseen tax returns and Paul Ryan's plans to gut Medicare and Social Security.  Now, their presumptive nominee for president has joined The Donald in bringing up the subject of birth certificates as part of his campaign stump speech.  Classy!
             Meanwhile, delegates to the Republican convention in Tampa are keeping one eye on their closet door and the other on The Weather Channel.  Tropical storm Isaac is due to arrive at about the same time they were going to be cranking up their coronation of Prince Mitt, so the plans are being adjusted to get the delegate count over with early on in the proceedings.  Besides, they say, that will free Mitt's hands and allow him to dive into the bottomless pit of campaign funds he's raised for the general election.  The sooner the better, right?
             Tampa is known for many things, not least among them is its bustling night life and wide assortment of strip clubs.  Apparently, RNC leaders are leery of turning their delegates loose in such surroundings.  After all, if Congressmen and their staffs can't contain their randy behavior in the Sea of Galilee during a "fact finding mission" to Israel, how can they be trusted to keep a grip on their throbbing libidos in a den of hedonism like Tampa?



             One enterprising entrepreneur has decided to advertise to those darker angels in the GOP, offering free admission to his gay spa and bathhouse to any GOP convention delegate.  The Ybor Resort and Spa, which bills itself as the "largest all-gay, private men's club, resort, and bathhouse" in Tampa, even advises potential visitors that they can avail themselves of the discrete rear entrance, if they're shy.

             Yep, it's all coming together for Romney and the Republicans.

             What could possibly go wrong?
            

CHEATER OR CHAMPION: LANCE ARMSTRONG IS STRIPPED OF HIS TOUR DE FRANCE TITLES, BANNED FROM SPORT FOR LIFE


             At what point does an investigation become a partisan witchhunt?  Sometimes it's clear to me (re Ken Starr and Whitewater), while other times I'm torn between defending the accused and wishing they'd just confess to the crime and get it over with...

             Folks have been suspicious of Lance Armstrong's cycling prowess since he won his first Tour event back in 1999, and those suspicions only intensified with each of the next six consecutive Tour de France titles Armstrong won.  Through it all, Armstrong has maintained his innocence, despite claims by former teammates that he not only cheated, but encouraged them to cheat, as well.
             When Roger Clemons, or Barry Bonds, or Sammie Sosa, or Mark McGwire were being investigated for steroid use, it seemed obvious something was in play other than their individual talents.  Statistics can send a signal, like a red flare on a pitch-black night, and the spotlight of glory often comes with an increased focus on one's methods of achieving greatness. 
              But how does someone defend himself from these accusations?  How's does a person prove his own innocence? 
              Armstrong points to hundreds of drug and doping tests he's passed over the years.  The United States Anti-Doping Agency points to blood tests that it says were "fully consistent" with blood doping.
              Seven consecutive Tour de France victories are no longer Lance Armstrong's to claim.  The USADA has stripped him of those titles, removed his name from the record books, and banned him from the sport for life.  All because Armstrong refused to enter an arbitration process, saying "enough is enough." 
 
              Part of me wants to say, "Say it ain't so, Lance!", but another part of me wants him to just admit he cheated in a sport where everyone seemingly cheats.

              Which brings up another question:  Why is blood doping (or the use of anabolic steroids, for that matter) considered cheating?
              After all, if everyone is cheating, isn't the field still level?  Why do we, as a society, give a damn whether or not a baseball player, or an NFL lineman, or an Olympic swimmer is "juiced?"

              I ask that question fully expecting to hear someone come back with an "integrity of the sport" response.  But really, what integrity are we talking about?
              Do you think Major League Baseball really cared if Sosa and McGwire were shooting themselves full of chemicals prior to their epic home run race?  Think about it.  Baseball was coming off of a labor strike and was at an all-time low in popularity and television ratings.  Sosa and McGwire brought viewers back to the game and put butts in the seats everywhere they played.  Their home run race is credited with "saving" baseball.
              
               Personally, I don't lose any sleep worrying about a bicycle race through France.  And I couldn't care less if Major League Baseball ever played another game. 
               But I do care if young people see performance enhancing drugs as the only option for success in sports.  It would bother me if a widespread acceptance of banned substances became the norm, especially if it spread down through the age levels and began to adversely affect the health of millions of young athletes across the country.
 
              I guess I'm conflicted about the Armstrong thing.  I'm pissed that his former teammates were suddenly willing to come forward to testify against him in the USADA arbitration hearings, after maintaining their silence while Armstrong was winning title after title.  It bothers me that a man can maintain his innocence, and have hundreds of blood tests that back his claims, and yet be hounded out of his sport and the history books.
              Even if Armstrong had officially retired from the sport, this is a shocking end to his career, and to his legacy.

              Say it ain't so, Lance.  And say it in court, if necessary.  Either that, or belly up to the bar and tell us you cheated.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SELF-DEPORTATION STATIONS (FROM "FUNNY OR DIE")

          I've always thought Mary Steenburgen was an attractive woman, but I never realized the value of a make-up artist to her transformation!  In this short skit from "Funny or Die" Steenburgen portrays Arizona's withered Governor Jan Brewer, a witch so devoid of beauty she's almost venomous when cameras are placed too close to her face during interviews. 
          This is a good one...



IF HURRICANE DISRUPTS GOP CONVENTION IN TAMPA, WILL PAT ROBERTSON BLAME IT ON REPUBLICAN POLICIES THAT OFFEND THE GODS?

            Approaching wrath of an angry God...
           
              Meteorologists are predicting a wet Republican convention in Tampa as a potential hurricane bears down on the Sunshine State just in time for the coronation of Mitt Romney.  Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer says the Party poo bahs are keeping a close eye on the situation, but that they have "contingency plans to deal with weather-related and other circumstances that may occur" and that they're "hoping for the best."
              You'd think the Party of The Lord and Saint Reagan would have beautiful weather lined up for their national showcase.  Perhaps the big boss is pissed about some of the Republican policies being written into the Party platform for the convention?
               I'm just wondering if Pat Robertson is going to find something about Tampa that has offended Jesus enough to warrant a Biblical smite-down, just in case the city is in a hurricane's cross hairs...  Perhaps a gay bar just opened, or something. After all, Robertson likes to point fingers at the victims of horrible natural disasters.  Ask New Orleans' Katrina victims, or the children crushed under the earthquake's rubble in Haiti...

               I've just read where the convention center in Tampa doesn't allow umbrellas for security reasons.  That means a lot of blue-haired wives of blue-blood Republican millionaires are going to have their thousand dollar do's messed up and drippy just in time for their close-ups on CNN and Faux News convention coverage.  Imagine their stress as this disaster approaches!

               Someone should tell Mitt to take the dog off the roof of the car, he might drown...
              

GUANO WAITS FOR NO MAN...