SLIDESHOW EXPLANATION

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

PULLING THE PLUG...


         A couple of years ago I was spending an inordinate amount of my time fussing with right wing ideologues on FaceBook, to the point where work and relationships were taking a back seat for political discussions with idiots. 

        One morning I found myself explaining to a woman that Jesus had not, in fact, written our nation's Constitution for the Founding Fathers, as she insisted was the case, when it occurred to me that Facebook was a ridiculous, banal, time-suck best left to the FarmVillers.  I pulled the plug on my account, and immediately noticed a sensation akin to having weights lifted from my shoulders.  I walked outside, sat under a tree with a drink in my hand, and I watched songbirds for a couple of hours.

          Suddenly, life was fun again.  Just knowing I had "divorced" the beast made me feel better.
         
          About a week ago, that sensation of 'weight' began to return, and I noticed it was much more pronounced whenever I found myself arguing with people who seemed to have lost touch with political reality here on Earth.  Posting on this blog has begun to seem more like a chore than a labor of love, and the more I think about it the more I realize I have, once again, reached an epiphany about how I choose to spend my time.

          If anyone needs me, check for the guy under the tree with a drink in his hand.  He'll probably have a smile on his face...



          
          

Sunday, October 7, 2012

PRESIDENT ROMNEY REACTS TO BARACK OBAMA'S (FUTURE) MEMOIRS (a view from the crystal ball)

 

         (Three years into his first term in office, a weary President Mitt Romney reads from Barack Obama's best selling book, "Dreams for My Children: A Memoir from a Citizen President" in the Oval Office.  Aides to the President come and go, and from time to time the leader of the free world raises up from his reading to speak aloud to no one in particular.  His face is drawn, and his hair is much thinner and grayer than when he campaigned for the office.  He is a tired man, burdened by the weight of his responsibilities.)

         "Elizabeth?  Would you hold my calls, please?" 
         "Certainly, Mr. President."
          Romney sits back in his chair, flips to another chapter in Obama's book, and begins to read.  Moments later there's a knock at the door, and John Boehner steps into the Oval Office with a briefcase in his hand.

          "Good afternoon, Mr. President.  I hope you'll pardon the interruption, but I really need a few minutes of your time."

          Romney, looking obviously annoyed, put down Obama's book.

         "What is it now, John?" he asks.  Of all the people on Capitol Hill who have access to the President, none are as loathed as Boehner.  The contempt on his face is evident, even to the Speaker of the House, but Boehner was used to being treated like a pain in the ass.
 
          "Well, sir, it's about the Vice President, again."  Boehner seems reluctant to even bring it up, but what can you do when you're dealing with an ambitious man in the executive branch?
          "He's pushing that Medicare voucher thing again, and Cantor's on board with some of the other Tea Party types.  I'm afraid they've got the numbers to actually bring this thing to the floor for a vote.  What would you like for me to do?"

           Romney's mood darkened, and he began to rub his temples as he spoke.

           "Listen, John.  Paul's plan was very clear from the start.  Medicare has to be privatized, and the boys on Wall Street aren't going to put up with any more delays in the House.  Get it done.  It's that simple."

           Boehner's face turned a slightly darker shade of orange as he looked nervously toward his shoes.  Forgot to get them shined last night, and he was hoping the President wouldn't notice.  Romney seemed to have a thing about unshined shoes, much like President Bush's obsession with suits and ties in the White House.  These rich pricks have the strangest habits.

           "Uh, Mr. President, with all due respect...  You know the American people don't support this voucher thing.  I'm getting a thousand calls a day bitching about this deal, and there are calls coming in from some of the moderates saying they're being swamped with complaints from home.  I think it would help if you spoke to Vice President Ryan and asked him to lay off on this Medicare bill for the time being.  I'd prefer to move it on the calendar-"

             "John..." Romney interrupted.  He'd grown weary of Boehner's weak-kneed attitude about this bill, and decided to put an end to the discussion once and for all.  "You tell them I said to stop bitching and pass the damn bill.  McConnell's already starting to hit the cable shows saying it might be time for true conservatives to put pressure on this White House, and I'll be damned if I'm going to have that turtle faced jerk back-stabbing me on Meet the Press every Sunday.  You tell 'em I said it's time to move this bill to the floor.  There are millions and millions of dollars to be made from this deal, and God knows the economy could use a jump start.  I can't believe the mess Obama left us to clean up!  Get it done!"

              Boehner nodded silently.  You can't talk to Romney when he's like this.  He'll make an appointment for tomorrow when the Big Guy's in a better mood.  Looks like he's reading that Obama memoir again.  Jesus Christ, the whole damn town is talking about this book.

              "Um... sir?  I'll do what I can.  By the way, have you got to the part about the first debate, yet?" Boehner asked, changing the subject.

              Romney looked down at the Obama book, and nodded his head.  That was the very chapter he had been trying to read when Boehner interrupted him.

              "Yeah.  That asshole is trying to say his heart wasn't in it from the start, and that he should have announced back in the spring of 2012 that he wouldn't seek a second term.  He says that would have ensured Hillary's presidency.  Kind of wishful thinking on his part, isn't it?"
              Boehner smiled, "Yes sir, it certainly is!  I'll take your message to the committee, sir. Thanks for your time."

              With Boehner out of his hair, Romney went back to the book.

              "...I would have preferred to have stepped down after one successful term, citing family concerns and a reluctance to battle Republican intransigence, rather than run for reelection.  But the pressure was great from the high roller donors, and I didn't make my concerns known in time to allow for a Democratic primary. 
               "The debate fiasco could have been predicted.  I simply didn't have the fire in the belly necessary to challenge Romney's mischaracterizations of the Affordable Care Act, or to call him on his various prevarications regarding his own stated positions from the primaries.  Looking back, it was a fatal flaw, but one of omission on my part.  Had I to do it over again, I probably would have been more aggressive in confronting Romney.  But then, that might have ensured my reelection, a result that I was clearly not interested in pursuing at that point in my presidency.
              "I simply wanted to be free from the non-stop pressures of the job, and to be able to spend time with my girls and Michelle.  The death threats that were a daily part of our lives had begun to take a toll, and looking back on it now I realize we were slowly losing our personal freedom to the office of the presidency.
              "Losing the election was a relief of the highest order, despite the damage it eventually caused for the country."

              At that moment a buzzer on the President's desk rang, followed by the voice of his secretary.

             "Mr. President, I apologize for the interruption, but Netanyahu is on line three and says it's urgent."

             Romney sighed deeply as he put down Obama's memoir.  Just what I need, he thought.  Another 'the-sky-is-falling' panic attack from Bibi.  Probably picked up that nuke plant report Langley sent over yesterday.  I told him to relax about Tehran. 

             "Yes, Bibi, what can I do for you?"

              Romney slowly closed the book on his desk and began to take notes, furiously trying to keep up with Netanyahu's litany of requests. 
 
              It was going to be a long day.
         

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IF THIS DEBATE HAD BEEN A PRIZE FIGHT, OBAMA'S CORNER WOULD HAVE THROWN IN THE TOWEL ("No mas... no mas...")


            I'm writing this in the afterglow of one of the worst debate performances (by both the President and the moderator) in history.

            I'd love to think this won't smell as badly in the light of day and with the passage of a little time, but I know better.  When an estimated audience of 60 million people tunes in to watch the theater of a debate, more than a few of them are undecided voters... and I can't believe anyone watching that debate came away thinking President Obama won the night.

            There will be a moderate bump in the polls for Romney, and a lot (!) of pressure will suddenly be placed upon the shoulders of Paul Ryan and Vice President Biden going into their debate a week from tomorrow.

            This was a very, very, very, very bad night for President Obama.  That makes it a very bad night for America.

             The Republicans sent a pit bull into the ring, and the Democrats tossed it a drugged puppy.

             No amount of positive spin bullshit will make this look good, and I don't think time is going to help ease the pain.

             We may very well have seen this race turn around completely in one disastrous debate performance by the President.

THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR GRANDPARENTS' HAND-ME-DOWNS...

         One of the shows I like to catch from time to time is Antiques Roadshow on PBS, and this was my favorite segment.  A guy had been using a priceless Navajo weaving as a chair cover... then finds out it might be worth half a million dollars.

         His reaction is as priceless as the blanket.

 

DO THIS, DON'T DO THAT, CAN'T YOU READ THE GUANO???
















FEEL A NEED FOR A QUICK "POWER NAP"? WHAT YOU NEED IS AN OSTRICH PILLOW!

         

    In a previous life I worked in a factory, doing relentlessly tedius functions for my daily bread.  We worked twelve hour shifts on concrete floors, wearing safety shoes and safety glasses, and every two hours the guys with the whips would allow galley slaves like myself to sit for ten minutes.  I used those ten minute "breaks" to snooze, stretched out on a metal table, as fork lifts clattered past my machine, and the overhead PA system blared away.
             Those brief power naps were the only peaceful moments allowed by management, and during one such snooze I made the mistake of ignoring an asshole from Human Resources who stopped by to "encourage" me to wake up.  Shortly thereafter a new edict was delivered from on high, and power naps were no longer allowed.
              I would have loved one of these things, regardless of how ridiculous it might have looked.

              If you're interested in helping the developers out, this is part of an ongoing Kickstarter project (which has been WAY successful).  


 

AUDIT REVEALS TENNESSEE BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE LISTS INCLUDE 82 DEAD PEOPLE (but they're so much easier to monitor!)



             Yesterday's copy of The Tennessean (motto: "The Titans are almost as bad as the Vols... We got nothing...") landed with a splash at the end of our driveway, and one of the more interesting stories involved an audit of our state's Board of Probation and Parole.
            
             An audit of a department of corrections division with an $86 million budget is usually a fairly dry document to report on, but this one had a few interesting tidbits of information in it.  For instance, did you know that dead people are much easier to monitor for parole violations than living offenders?

            Parole officers routinely reported having contact with 82 offenders who have moved on to that great Parole Board in the Sky.  One report listed contact with a guy who had, in fact, been dead since 1993, which made me wonder if our parole officers are actually making contact or are simply using a Ouija Board from the office. 



          A spokesperson for the state admitted that "inadequate supervision" of parole officers was the root cause for these obvious falsifications of records, and that "tax payer resources were used in an ungrateful way."

            Rest assured, though, the state takes its responsibilities seriously, because the department is promising "all staff will be trained to better detect deceased offenders" in the future.

            I suggest holding a mirror under the nose of anyone suspected of having died.

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WHEN YOU HEAR "I'M VOTING REPUBLICAN" THIS IS WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN...

     Damn, my buddy BJ is finding these things quicker than they can make 'em!

Absolute classic right here, folks...

 

TAMPING DOWN EXPECTATIONS IS A FULL-TIME JOB ON THE EVE OF THE FIRST DEBATE...



             That's a drawing of a tamp bar in a hole in the ground.  If you've ever been on the business end of one of those bad boys, you already know how heavy and awkward they can be, especially when you're tired and frazzled.  In a previous life I had to put up about a thousand fence posts for a woman who raised horses, and I've seen more of that view than I care to recall... and still have scars from the blisters to prove it.

             But in political terms, "tamping down" means something else entirely.  Tomorrow marks the first debate in the 2012 Presidential Sweepstakes, and all eyes are on the performances of President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney.  Every question posed by the moderator is a potential minefield for each of them, with any misstep to be dissected over and over on the cable news networks for days. 

             In a race this tight, any mistake could be huge.

             Both camps are trying to lower expectations for their guy, not wanting to seem overconfident or optimistic.  If you're carrying a swagger going in and come out with your tail between your legs, it can be devastating.

             So there's a lot of "tamping down" going on.  Romney's camp points to the President's famed oratory skills (despite the fact that Obama's a fairly poor debater) and Obama's team is pointing to Mitt's successful debate performances as an indicator of the juggernaut their guy faces tomorrow.

             In the end, it probably won't amount to a hill of dirt next to a fence post.  They'll both play to the center, avoid the self-inflicted gaffe, and if all goes well they'll shake hands at the end of the night and start spinning the results as soon as they leave the debate hall.

             I'm pretty sure I'll tune in, unless something else comes along that promises fewer scripted moments.

             You see, I've seen this tamp bar thing in action, and it's not as fun as it looks.


            

HOW IRONIC: GOP EFFORTS TO STOP MYTHICAL VOTER "FRAUD" ABANDON REGISTRATION EFFORTS IN FIVE STATES DUE TO (ahem...) GOP VOTER FRAUD

            
          Message to Republican Party from ACORN:  "Pot, kettle..."

          Remember the noise GOP fanatics made about allegations of voter fraud involving ACORN?  Remember how the faux outrage machine churned up buckets of chum to throw at that organization, all because some people who were being paid to register voters made up fictitious names on some registration forms?

          It's important to remember that little episode in hypocrisy when you consider the current state of affairs for Republican efforts to register voters in five key swing states in this election.  The Republican National Committee insisted that each of those states use their recommended firm for voter registration drives, and they paid "Strategic Allied Consulting" upwards of $3 million dollars to handle the task.  They paid SAC to handle the registrations, primarily because they just love the work ethic of the man who runs Strategic Allied Consulting, a guy named Nathan Sproul.

           Don't remember Nathan?  He's the same fellow who was suspected (and accused) of voter fraud allegations back in 2004 on behalf of Republican registration efforts in that election.  His name and previous company was so well-known among authorities who monitor elections that the RNC encouraged him to change the name of his organization before it would give his firm the contract to register voters in key swing states.

            Now complaints in five swing states have forced the Republican Party to completely abandon registration drives in the final days leading up to this election.

            What were employees of Strategic Allied Consulting doing that raised eyebrows (not to mention potential lawsuits and criminal charges)?  They were destroying the registration forms of anyone who checked "Democrat" on the paperwork.

             In case there are some lurking trolls out there who don't see the harm in culling the crop, that's considered a fucking crime in every state in America.

             So ACORN was gutted by a doctored piece of film footage put together by a right wing activist, basically because a few lazy employees of ACORN were listing "Mickey Mouse" and "Donald Duck" on voter registration forms.  Note, please, that no one using Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck was ever going to show up to vote based upon those registrations.  There was never any threat of actual voter fraud involved, just voter registration fraud.  Big difference.
 
             What Strategic Allied Consulting's workers were doing was destroying forms that had been properly filled out by potential voters... voters who thought they were properly registered to vote, but who would be turned away at the actual polls on election day this November.

             Like I said, big difference.

             Now the GOP has fired SAC and is doing its best to distance itself from the stench of yet another scandal involving Nathan Sproul.

             Anyone else notice the irony here?

             Voter suppression tactics have been employed in dozens of states across the country by Republican majority legislatures, and in each case they've pointed to the unfounded fears of voter fraud to justify their efforts to keep minorities, the poor, the elderly, and students away from the polls.

             Actual studies of voter fraud have turned up little evidence of a problem.

             But now the firm hired by Republicans to sign up voters in key swing states is accused of ACTUAL voter fraud, and lots of it.

            

 



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JAPAN'S MASTURBATION BAR FOR WOMEN (WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR GAME...)



          If you're a woman looking for a place to kill some time in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, you might consider having a drink (and a conversation about female masturbation) at Love Joule, a new bar catering to women only.  When women sit at the bar they're facing a wall of brightly colored dildos, and apparently the motif has created a buzz among the normally staid and conservative women of Japan.



          Part of the attraction of the place is knowing that there won't be any single, unattached men lurking around with smirks on their faces.  The only way a man can get into Love Joule is to be accompanied by a woman, which is sort of the opposite of American bars' mantra of "Single Women Get in Free!" promotions.

           This would probably be a hit here in the states, too.  They could hang this sign on the door:

 

Monday, October 1, 2012

TIDE FOR MORMONS ("NOW WITH A FRESH, LATTER-DAY SCENT!")

           A tip of the hat to our buddy Brandon up in Ida-dam-ho for this one!

 

FIRST DAY OF OCTOBER SIGNALS HUMMINGBIRDS TO CATCH A FLIGHT SOUTH...


           This is just strange.  Yesterday afternoon, as the Titans were doing their best to make me happy to be a Vol fan, I sat out on our screened porch and watched dozens of ruby throated hummingbirds fight over our feeders.  Every feeder had its own swarm of greedy hummers, and if anything there seemed to be more of them than there had been all summer.

           Today I've seen one or two, total. 

           Last year I took photos of hummingbirds well into the month of October, so I know their internal "clock" doesn't go by an actual date...  And the weather is milder now than it was then, temp-wise.

           Right now there are one or two hummingbirds feasting in total peace, where yesterday they would have been forced to fight for every sip.

           I'll leave the feeders up for another week, just in case any stragglers drop by from up north on their way home for the winter.

           But to tell you the truth, this sudden disappearance of noise and chaos is a little unsettling.  Sort of like when the flocks of rampaging birds are totally calm in the final scene of Hitchcock's "The Birds".  

           Do they have little day planners?  Did I miss the memo?

           How can they ALL hit the road on the same day, other than the one or two who are still hanging around?

 

WHO SAYS I CAN'T POST A BUNCH OF PILFERED GUANO AND GET STONED INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY WRITING?






 
 

 
 
 





 
 


 
 


ACCORDING TO ROMNEY, VIRGINIA'S MOST PRESSING PROBLEM IS LYME DISEASE? WTF???


             This campaign is getting curiouser and curiouser...  While both candidates prepare for the first presidential debates, folks in Virginia are finding flyers in their mailboxes alerting them to a medical "epidemic" that Mitt Romney is worried about:  Lyme disease...


             Ohhhhh-kay... Lyme disease?  I mean, it's not all that uncommon here in Tennessee, and most of us are aware of the potential infection from tick bites.  But is Virginia being overwhelmed by cases of Lyme disease?  According to the CDC, there are fewer than 1,000 cases of confirmed Lyme disease annually in Virginia, out a 8 million citizens there.  I'd be willing to bet there are more cases of tennis elbow reported in Virginia (from doing excessive amounts of 12 ounce curls) than confirmed cases of Lyme disease.

             So why would Mitt want to campaign as the champion of Lyme disease sufferers in Virginia?

             That's where it gets interesting, especially if you're one of those people who keeps track of the Pander Express' schedule through swing states.

             It turns out that one of Viginia's social conservatives of note is guy named Michael Farris, and Farris claims his wife and all seven of his children are "chronic" sufferers of Lyme disease.  His wife is being treated by a doctor named Joseph Jemsek, who moved his practice to the D.C. area after having his license revoked in North Carolina because he routinely treated Lyme disease with long-term antibiotics, a practice that is frowned upon by mainstream medical experts.
             Here's a snapshot of Mitt meeting Farris on his campaign bus, courtesy of Mitt's Facebook page, according to Think Progress:


              So that's why Mitt's suddenly concerned about Lyme disease... An influential conservative in a swing state is obsessed with it (and for the record, Lyme disease is a horrible thing) and Mitt is nothing if not concerned about the concerns of influential social conservatives in swing states. 

              If Michael Farris was worried about alien abductions, people in Virginia would probably be receiving flyers from the Romney campaign pledging to defend The Old Dominion from ET and Predator.  Instead, they get scary warnings about deer ticks.