Friday, August 31, 2012

Heartbreak Ridge

Clint Eastwood may have created a model for future political convention speakers when he tragically ad-libbed some comedy prior to Mitt Romney's acceptance speech last night.  My jaw was on the floor for the entire performance.  I was in shock and awe.  I love his movies, and care about his legacy.  I wish that whoever put him on that stage last night without a script had cared as much about his legacy as I did.  Seeing him fumble did not make my day. 

However, it does have people talking and all publicity is good publicity, right?   The Democrats have taken notice of all the publicity, and Joe Biden is ready to capitalize on this new approach to convention addresses.

Thanks to WikiLeaks, MSRP has obtained the following transcript from a conversation at the White House last night about convention strategy.

(Joe Biden rushes into the Oval Office.  Obama reading a book)

Biden:  Barry – did you watch Clint Eastwood’s tour de force tonight?

Obama:  It’s Mr. President, Joe.  Stop calling me Barry.  Yes, I saw him.  I think he really bombed.

Biden:  Bombed?  He was the bomb you mean.  Word.

Obama:  Joe, I have asked you stop talking like that.

Biden:  Oops, sorry, yo.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  Titter-verse is going crazy.  Hey, we’ve got to do something at our convention to make voters forget about Dirty Harry and focus on our campaign.

Obama: (finally looking up from his book, Fifty Shades of Gray) It’s Twitter-verse, Joe, not Titter-verse.  Alright, I might regret this, but what did you have in mind?

Biden:  We need an even bigger superstar to come out on stage to support you at the convention, but this star has to better reflect the diversity of the country and our party. 

Obama:  You might be on to something, Joe.

Biden:  Oh, I am on something alright.  I was thinking - Charo.

Obama:  You mean Charo, the actress, comedienne, and flamenco guitarist from the 1970s who used to say “cuchie-cuchie” while shaking her hips in a sexually explicit manner?

Biden:  I know. Hot, right?  And she helps expand our gender advantage with Latinos and women, and brings in male viewers.

Obama:  Male viewers over 70 perhaps.  You are right, though.  We need star power and diversity.  Too bad Oprah isn’t a one-legged Hispanic lesbian Iraq War veteran who has had an abortion.  Otherwise, she’d be perfect for the gig.

Biden:  That is so weird, Barry.  I was thinking the exact same thing.

Obama:  I’m just spitballing here, but are any of The Expendables registered Democrats?  That movie tough guy image could work for us.  It would remind voters that I killed bin Laden without being too in your face about it.  You know, “Hasta la vista, Mitt Romney.”  That sort of thing.

Biden:  Arnold could be a possibility.  He’d do just about anything to patch things up with Maria and the Kennedys.  He’s half Socialist being from California so he'd fit in on "Freedom Means It's Free" Day during the convention.  Too bad he’s not gay.  That could really help our numbers.

Obama:  How about Kirk Douglas?  He's an aging movie tough guy.  No one would be able to understand him, but the crowd couldn’t understand Eastwood, and they loved it.  Kirk talking to an empty chair would be completely believable.

Biden:  Wait, we’ve overlooking the obvious choice.  I could do it!  It would be a huge surprise.  I’ll approach the podium before your speech and there’ll be an empty chair next to me, and I’ll kinda look at it and say, “What, Mitt?  What did you say?  Oh, well then go f**k yourself.”  It will bring down the house.  Worked for Dirty Harry.

Obama:  (mulling it over) Hmmm.  People will feel sorry for you.  They’ll say “That’s Joe being Joe”, and the lasting image in the swing voters’ minds will be our campaign telling the GOP nominee to forcibly violate himself.  I like it, Joe.  What could go wrong?

Biden:  Oh well, in that case, then go f**k yourself.

Obama:  Pardon?

Biden:  Oops, I was just practicing.  But speaking of pardons, I might need one if this conversation ever becomes public.

Obama:  Word, Joe.  Now, go find yourself an empty chair and start talking to it.  I have to finish reading these briefing reports.

In case you didn't see it last night:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Eddie Haskell for Veep

The Republican Party has gone to great lengths to inspire a longing for “the good ol’ days” with their rhetoric about small towns and their imagery filled with 1950s nostalgia, a time of perfection (unless you were a minority or paying the top individual rate of 90%).  Now they have completed the dreamscape for Americans.  The GOP has nominated Eddie Haskell for the Vice Presidency of the United States.

Paul Ryan’s hair style may inspire more comparisons to Eddie Munster, but his antics are all Eddie Haskell.  For the uninformed, Eddie Haskell was Wally Cleaver’s weasel of a best friend on the iconic Leave It To Beaver show.  Eddie was a polite and obedient young man when speaking to an audience, particularly Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver.  There was a dark side to Eddie, however.  Eddie could be relied upon to connive and instigate schemes with his friends — schemes for which his ‘friends’ would be in the position to shoulder the blame.  Parents loved Eddie, but his friends knew his real motives, and so did we if we watched and listened.

Substitute Father Episode (1961):

Wally Cleaver:  [at the bottom of the staircase, calling out to his mother upstairs] Hey, Mom!
June Cleaver: Yes, Wally.

Wally Cleaver: Could Eddie spend the night here?

June Cleaver: Not while your father's away.

Eddie Haskell: [dejected] Boy.  Everybody around here is wise to me.  I might just have to move to a new town and start all over.

After the Wizard of Wisconsin’s rousing speech last night, I can only hope that some people will start to get “wise to him”.  I cannot argue that it was not a political tour de force, or that Biden shouldn’t be worried.  The guy is a gifted politician.  Once you peel back Eddie’s please and thank you’s, however, we find a bit more truth, and the truth (not a Romney-Ryan administration) will set us free.  Cleaver family, pay attention:

“Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”

Ryan neglected to mention his solution on Medicare – privatize the program with vouchers that would not, by design, keep up with health care inflation, effectively ending the guarantee of Medicare.  The guarantee would remain in place…if you could afford it, old man.  Haskell forgot to add that his budget numbers for Medicare include the same $716 billion cut, but the money doesn’t go to insure more folks.  It goes for tax cuts for the wealthy and deficit reduction.  Obama’s program cuts payments to doctors and hospitals, and the industry was at the table when those plans were written.  Ryan cuts benefits by making the program unaffordable for people.

As for Obama being the threat to Medicare, it was only a year ago that the Ryan Plan proposed the end of traditional Medicare for beneficiaries after the year 2022.  He was pressured to add a public option back into his plans.  Who is the threat, Eddie? 
“They’ve run out of ideas.  Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they’ve got left.”

This is from the campaign that continues to run a series of welfare ads against Obama that even their own campaign staff and surrogates admit is untrue.

“A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.”  That’s what he said in 2008.  Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.  It is locked up and empty to this day.”

Paul Ryan is a lawyer, and this line of attack has a whiff of truth.  The plant is in fact closed.  Obama is in fact President.  Ryan doesn’t say that the plant closed during the Obama regime, he merely implies it (it closed during Bush’s reign).  Not a lie, but pretty crafty, and worthy of the new Eddie Haskell.

“It began with a housing crisis they alone didn’t cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn’t correct.”

Haskell’s running mate originally responded to the housing crisis with, “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”  Then, his ‘leadership skills’ must have kicked in, and his position became “The idea that somehow this is going to cure itself by itself is probably not real. There’s going to have to be a much more concerted effort to work with the lending institutions and help them take action, which is in their best interest and the best interest of the homeowners.”  So now Romney favors government intervention.  Apparently, so does Haskell.  Don’t tell the Cleavers!

“It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.”

Standard & Poors downgraded the country’s sovereign debt rating in 2011 because congressional Republicans, of which Ryan is a key leader, threatened not to increase the country’s borrowing authority — risking a default on the debt — unless Democrats agreed to slash trillions of dollars from domestic social programs and investments and igore any attempts to raise taxes on the wealthy.  Ryan even suggested that the country’s creditors would forgive default for “a day or two or three or four” as long as Democrats ultimately agreed to GOP demands.

“He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report.  He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” 

Ryan sat on that commission. He voted against it. Following his lead, so did the panel’s other House Republicans.  There was no Google search back in the original Eddie Haskell’s day, but now we can quick see how disingenuous this charge against Obama really is with a few mouse clicks.

“They have no answer to this simple reality: We need to stop spending money we don’t have.”

Dick Cheney said “Deficits don’t matter.”  Ryan voted for a prescription drug benefit without a mechanism to pay for it; 2 wars without the means to pay for them; TARP without a means to pay for it; the Bush tax cuts that continue to drag on the economy.  His credibility has to be questioned here. 

“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

Good zinger, worthy of Sarah Palin’s address in 2008.  Why didn’t Ryan suggest that these kids do what Mitt Romney suggested, borrow money from their parents to start a business?  That worked for Mitt, so it should work for them, too.

“And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak.”

In order to better protect the weak, two-thirds of the spending cuts in Ryan’s budget impact low income earners.  His plan counts on the captains of industry voluntarily helping the poor, or hoping all of the poor become rich, healthy and white as soon as possible.  Otherwise, his theory must be that what won’t kill the poor will make them stronger.

“And I’m going to level with you…”

Doesn’t really matter what comes after that sentence beginning, does it? (and that’s bipartisan, by the way)

Ward Cleaver once remarked that "[Eddie] is so polite, it's almost un-American".   That might be a bit extreme for Paul Ryan, but the nominee’s politeness should make you suspicious about his real motives.

Good luck tonight, Mitt.  Eddie Haskell has raised the likability bar, so you’ve got quite a jump to make.

As Steve Benen reported, “CNN's Wolf Blitzer said he counted "seven or eight" claims that "fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute," but concluded the lies didn't matter because it was "a powerful speech" that gave Republicans what they "were hoping for." 

Guess they were hoping to be fooled by Eddie Haskell.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Money Ball

Even political junkie can reach a saturation point.  I’m getting closer to mine.  I could not watch the Republican National Convention coverage last night, and not (solely) because I am blindly partisan.  I probably won’t watch all of the Dems convention next week either.  Some days I need a break.  I know you understand particularly if you live in one of the top 10 media battleground states that are being flooded with deceptive ads already.

I need a break and a diversion.  So Thomas and I watched part of the movie Moneyball with Brad Pitt during Ann Romney and Chris Christie’s scheduled appearances.  It’s a movie about how smart, passionate people who use facts, science and statistics can overcome a conventional wisdom based on tired, empty platitudes matched with overwhelming financial resources.  In that way, it is much like the Money Ball gala in Tampa this week.  Facts take a Florida vacation, but facts can be remarkably resilient.  Facts might even win.

I can’t help myself. 

So I read Christie’s speech instead of watching.  Confession: I recorded it to watch at a later date.  Here are a few pieces of commentary on his remarks based on my reading of the words of my former Delaware classmate:

“You see, Mr. President, real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”

This is an interesting take on leadership, given that his party’s nominee has taken every side of every position over his years in politics.  His ‘evolution’ on abortion rights has paralleled polling numbers for his targeted electorate throughout his career, and one only needs to look at how he has abandoned his signature gubernatorial achievement, health care reform, in the face of its unpopularity with his new friends. 

“Tonight, we’re gonna do what my mother taught me. Tonight, we’re gonna choose respect over love.”

I recognize that Ann Romney and Chris Christie were probably not initially scheduled to speak one after the other, except Mother Nature had other plans.  Still, to hear Ann Romney say that she was “going to talk about love” in her address, and then Christie throw in his dismissal of love immediately after, it was awkward.

“Now, I know this simple truth and I’m not afraid to say it: Our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America.”

The ideas of the GOP are SO right for America that the name of the last GOP President and his VP, who ruled for 8 years to open up the century, were not mentioned the entire evening.  Not once.  To quote Ann Richards, “Where was George?”

“Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power when we fall.”

His choice of the words “fiscal cliff” reminded me of the debt ceiling debacle last summer, when the full faith and credit of the United States was deemed by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell to be “a hostage worth taking.”  It was the Republican caucus that was whistling while S&P downgraded us.

“They believe in teachers unions. We believe in teachers.”

OK, that’s a good line.

“We believe it's possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles.”

No, your party does not.  John Boehner and Eric Cantor could not even use the word “compromise” in public for fear it would be interpreted as weakness.  It’s on YouTube, you don’t have to look far.  Richard Mourdock, GOP Senate candidate from Indiana said it best:  ”I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”  That’s not compromise – that’s capitulation, Einstein. 

“It doesn't matter how we got here.”

Yes, it does.  Those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it.  That’s not blaming – that’s thinking.  If your proposed policies made things worse, then it DOES matter how we got here since you are proposing that we do the same things all over again – deregulate, cut taxes for the rich, and hope things trickle down.

“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.”

This could be the greatest contortion of the evening.  The party that is fully committed to putting a federal bureaucrat between “an American citizen and her doctor”, be it through mandating medically unnecessary transvaginal probes designed to shame the victim, or denying a doctor the right to confidentially discuss guns as a health threat in the home with a patient, as Rick Scott wants in Florida, wants to save women from bureaucrats.  He’s kidding, right?

“We win when we make it about what needs to be done; we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing.”

I grow weary of pointing out the Republican zeal for scaring and dividing Americans, but here I go again.  The rationale for the war of choice in Iraq was built on nothing but coordinated fear-mongering.  Who could forget the week long drumbeat using the phrase “a giant mushroom cloud”?  Also, who could forget the oft-repeated line that dissent with GOP war policy gave “aid and comfort to our enemies”?  Today, one need only to look at the discredited welfare attacks to know what party has division as part of its strategy.

“Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say ‘yes,’ rather than to say ‘no’ when ‘no’ is what’s required.”

The exception would be the Keystone Pipeline decision, when approving it would have been politically expedient for the administration and removed the issue from the national conversation.

“We all must share in the sacrifice. Any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth.”

Really, Governor?  If we must all share in the sacrifice, then why can’t the Bush era tax cuts for the top earners be returned to the Clinton era rates?  Why are tax increases off the table if “we must all share in the sacrifice”?  Had Obama said the exact same words, I have little doubt that the GOP would have eviscerated him for asking for more sacrifice at this time.  By the way, the last GOP President did not ask for sacrifice.  After 9/11, he told Americans to go shopping.  When he signed the prescription drug bill, he did not ask that it be paid for.  When Christie says we must all “share in the sacrifice”, he talking about the poor paying more.

Tonight, Paul Ryan speaks at the Money Ball, and odds are I will not watch.  Anyone who believes that turning Medicare into a voucher system and shifting costs to the elderly is a good solution does not deserve my attention.

OK, I’ll record it.  I can still soak in a little bit more before complete saturation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Save the Yankees

The New York Yankees are not immune to losses.  Like every other team in Major League Baseball, they win some and they lose some.  Even rabid Yankee fans can accept that 162-0 during a regular season is unattainable (although preferred).  Fans will be surprised to learn that the NY Yankee organization, however, has managed to put a hard cap on their total amount of potential losses.  They did not accomplish this by thumbing their nose at the luxury tax on player salaries.  They did it in cooperation with the federal government and at the expense of the fans.

In July, Yankee Stadium became the first sports facility to earn the coveted federal "Safety Act" designation. That means the facility has passed a battery of tests and won approval from the Department of Homeland Security, so the Yankees have been granted a wide-ranging immunity from future lawsuits that might stem from terrorist attacks (and I don’t mean stolen bases).  Fans may lose a chance to see future games but the Yankees financial empire will remain intact.

In English, this designation means that fans in attendance that may lose their lives at the hands of a terrorist act will have difficulty suing the club for damages.  Massive tort reform has now been reduced to the disclaimer on the back of your game day ticket stub.  Beware of batted balls and dirty bombs.  All rights reserved.  Void when prohibited.

New ticket stub disclaimer draft language: We are not responsible for injuries sustained from batted balls, flying objects from the field of play, or any other act that we determine can be classified as a terrorist act, including but not limited to players entering the stands to kick your ass, Joe Girardi insulting your family during a post-game tirade, or Alex Rodriguez dating your teenage daughter.

The Safety (SAFETY = Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) Act was part of the Homeland Security creation bill passed after 9/11.  The goal was admirable.  It was intended to provide some financial protection for companies that were inventing new safety technologies.  For example, say your company invented a way to identify an explosive being brought through a train station with 99.9% effectiveness.  Unfortunately, the 0.1% got through and a terrorist act was committed.  If this company had applied and received acceptance under the Safety Act, they could not then be sued out of existence (unless the survivors can prove fraud or intentional malice, a fairly high bar).  The Safety Act theoretically gave cost certainty to innovative companies and an incentive to experiment.

The Act itself was not originally designed for sports venues, but that doesn’t mean that forward-thinking franchises like the New York Yankees can’t adapt its language and purpose for its own protection.  It’s instant tort reform since the definition of a “terrorist act” is left vague in the law. 

Since Yankee Stadium is now on the list of Safety Act accredited businesses, we can be assured of two things.  First, the venue takes security very seriously, and you are probably safer because of the designation.  The application screening process is very rigorous, like a strip search at LaGuardia rigorous.  (Disclaimer – this designation will not protect any fan of an opposing team from having a beer poured on his head and being tossed headlong off the upper deck.)  Second, it means that the prices you pay for beer and hot dogs will be reduced as the team passes the savings on to you.


The intention of the law was to protect the creators of new technologies.  This protection would encourage the growth of innovations that would help make us safer.  The law is beginning to become a catch all for any company looking to limit liability with the Safety Act official “get out of jail free” card.

Liability claims from terrorist acts can be expensive.  A report by the European Organisation for Security states that $40 billion was paid out by insurers after the 9/11 attacks.  That is the equivalent of 2 seasons of the Yankees player payroll, so you can see why the team needed this protection.  If God forbid there was an attack at the stadium and fans sued the team, they would no longer have the cash to sign Stephen Strasburg in 5 years or Josh Hamilton this off season.  Devastating. 

The Safety Act sounds like a good idea, and innovative companies need some protection in order to grow.  The Yankees might be uncovering what happens when good laws are stretched to their limits.  I’m glad the stadium is considered a safe place, excluding the foul language you are bound to hear.  I am not glad that fans have little or no recourse legally if the club is negligent in its protection.

From the DHS website section on the Safety Act:

"New York Yankees d/b/a The New York Yankees Baseball Club provides The New York Yankees Security Program.  The Technology is a comprehensive integrated security system, which is comprised of physical and electronic security measures, tools and procedures designed to detect, deter, prevent, respond to and mitigate Acts of Terrorism at Yankee Stadium during Game Day, Non-Game Day (In-Season), Non-Season and Special Events."

Unfortunately, the team can still lose in the playoffs with an aging line up of hitters and an injury-prone pitching staff.  There is no federal protection for that.

Boston fans, that’s the only good news I have for you.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Conversion Therapy

Weather Cancels GOP Convention Day; Atheists Credit God
Special to MSRP

The Republican National Committee has announced that the opening day quadrennial celebration of extreme far right conservative values has been postponed, and the postponement has caused a number of atheists and LGBT community members to rethinking their long-standing position on the existence of a Higher Power.

Maybe there is a God.

As Hurricane Isaac is bearing down on Tampa, Florida to deliver a wet blow to thousands of GOP conventioneers, the Republican National Committee had no choice but to cancel the first day of the convention for the safety of their corporate image.  All attendees with the exception of the Ron Paul delegation were urged to seek secure shelter for the duration of the storm. 

In 2008, the opening day of the GOP National Convention was postponed because of another hurricane, that one aimed squarely at Texas.  While the 2008 convention was located in Minneapolis far from potential storm danger, the GOP feared that images of Republicans celebrating while Texans drowned would be perceived as “insensitive”, a perception the party tries to avoid whenever possible.  In addition, organizers feared that the public would be reminded of the GOP’s historic ineptitude in handling natural disasters.  The party is rightly blamed for its botched response to the Katrina tragedy in 2006, and could not afford any more “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie” jokes at their expense.

Since this is the second consecutive national GOP convention to be delayed by the force of nature, some are arguing that God is angry with the positions of the party leading into the 2012 election.  The self-described atheists and assorted heathens that now credit God for His intervention specifically cite the Republicans’ stance on the poor, taxes, education, health care, foreign policy, the debt, immigration and minorities as obvious reasons that God would seek to punish them with a hurricane.

“Look, I’ll admit that once in a while, I have said a silent prayer that God would smite the Republicans,” said Lucifer Damien McShay III, founder of, an organization dedicated to godlessness, human fulfillment, and environmental concerns.  “I thought it was harmless, like using a Ouija board or burning a witch.  Now hurricanes have disrupted the Republican orgy of money and lies and hate for a second time, so maybe religious conservatives are right.  Maybe there is something to this “Higher Power” stuff.  Way to go, God Person!  You rock!”

Members of the LGBT community are also converting in record numbers, believing that the hand of God is at work in Florida fighting extremism disguised as “bold solutions”.

“The Religious Right blamed Katrina on gays and non-believers; they blamed 9/11 on gays and non-believers,” argued Lucy Values, CEO of 

Now, she says, the tables have turned.

“This (Hurricane Isaac) is God’s clear message to those who would invoke His name after tragedies that the ones He really hates are the Republicans.  You can’t argue with Mother Nature.”

Values then whispered piously, “Now that I know God exists and hears our prayers, we are starting a prayer circle dedicated to one goal.  Please, God, let there be perfect weather on November 6th so turnout is massive in all parts of the country.”

“Vote suppression is the work of Satan, you know.”

The new-found believe in God by atheists and members of the LGBT community is expected to end once the convention is reconvened Tuesday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Parting Moon Shot

Statement from President Barack Obama on the death of Neil Armstrong:

Today we mourn the passing of a great American, Neil Armstrong.  The thoughts and prayers of the First Family go out to his family on this sad day.

Neil Armstrong was loved by his family, and his family included all Americans whose dreams were fulfilled by his footsteps on the moon 43 years ago.  He achieved our national goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s with the help of thousands of NASA scientists, engineers and pioneers in space who went before him, and that extended family is grieving today the loss of one of their own.  

On his historic journey to the moon, he didn’t fly there by himself.  He was helped along on the wings of our prayers and the hopes of a generation.  On this final voyage home to the heavens, may our prayers provide the wind at his back. 
Through his strength, perseverance and courage he reached his ultimate dream.  May we be inspired by his example and remember what we as a nation can accomplish together.  Godspeed, Neil Armstrong.

The Romney campaign was quick to denounce the President’s statement:

The President today insulted the memory of Neil Armstrong.  Today, he said that Neil Armstrong didn’t fly to the moon by himself.  “He didn’t fly there” in his spaceship into the stars, land safely on the moon and return.  No, the President took this sad occasion to redistribute the credit for Armstrong’s signature individual achievement to others, others who did not take the risks, others who did not complete the rigorous training, and others who sat in Houston while Armstrong did the work.

For shame, Mr. President, for exploiting his death for your own agenda.  If you agree, please contribute what you can at

Vice President Joe Biden also released a statement via Twitter mourning Neil Armstrong’s passing:    

Jill and I were saddened to hear of Neil Armstrong’s passing.  His Tour de France victories inspired us all.  Remember kids, don’t do steroids.

There is nothing sacred during a presidential campaign.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Head Case

Judge Tom Head of Lubbock County, Texas, has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he has nothing inside of his head.  That’s what makes him dangerous.  It is not completely his fault however.  While the inside of his skull may be a vacuous void, his ideas did not develop in a vacuous void.  His ideas were given safe haven in the world of gun rights absolutism and 2nd Amendment hero worship.

Judge Head oversees emergency management in Lubbock, and during an interview on a CNN affiliate in Texas, he assured listeners that he was ready for anything, especially the worst disaster of all – the reelection of President Obama. 

"In this political climate and financial climate, what is the very worst thing that could happen right now? Obama gets back in the White House. No. God forbid," he told the interviewer.  A hurricane or a tornado came in a distant second. 

That’s his opinion to which he is entitled, but then he had to let out the full crazy for all to see:

“(Obama will) try to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations. What do you think the public's going to do when that happens? We are talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war. ... I'm not talking just talking riots here and there. I'm talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator. OK, what do you think he is going to do when that happens? He is going to call in the U.N. troops, personnel carriers, tanks and whatever."

Rest easy, citizens.  Judge Head(less) is on the border manning a post.  He thinks we want him on that wall, and that we need him on that wall:

Head vowed to personally stand "in front of their personnel carriers and say, 'You're not coming in here.' And I've asked the sheriff. I said, 'Are you going to back me on this?' And he said, 'Yeah, I'm going to back you.' Well, I don't want a bunch of rookies back there who have no training and little equipment. I want seasoned veteran people who are trained that have got equipment. And even then, you know we may have two or three hundred deputies facing maybe a thousand U.N. troops. We may have to call out the militia."

If this nut believes that he has the right to take up arms against the government to protect himself from perceived infringements on his rights, he has company in the statehouse.  Governor Rick Perry would never dissuade the judge or his ideological followers from their rants or from their generous gun store shopping sprees.  That might cost him their votes.

In 2010, Perry told an interviewer in response to a question about possible Texas secession from the United States:

“Texas is a unique place. When we came in the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.  You know, my hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what may come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Judge Head.  Let’s leave that threat of civil war out there, just in case, to keep ‘em honest.

These imagination revolutions, once they become real, involve actual guns and lots of them.  That suits the purposes of the NRA just fine.  More gun owners mean more gun sales and more NRA lifetime memberships.  All you need is a little paranoia to prime the financial pump.

Grand Wizard of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, believes that Obama’s lack of action on gun control during his first term is a ruse.  If re-elected, that’s when he’ll feel safe to take everyone’s guns away, LaPierre argues without a hint of comic timing. 

Other GOP leaders are in on the fun.  Governor Rick Scott of Florida appealed a court ruling that blocked a law prohibiting doctors from asking patients about guns under his newfound worship of ‘privacy’.  Doctors typically discuss a patient’s lifestyle during consultations, including any risky behaviors that could cause harm such as household chemicals, swimming pools, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and firearms.  Supporters of the law thought that the questions could discourage gun sales and ownership.  In the world of gun rights absolutism, even doctor-patient confidentiality is a government trick to locate and take away your guns.      

Outside of the doctor’s office, we are not allowed to talk about guns at all since it is never “the right time.”  Talking gun restrictions after a shooting tragedy is poor manners.  I assume that talking about more life boats after the Titanic sank was off limits too, and viewed as exploitation of a freak accident to promote a radical safety agenda.

The NRA and its elected minions have taken reasonable public discourse on gun rights in this country hostage, and demanded unconditional surrender without hope of freeing the discussion.  Actually, it might be worse than that.  They may have steered the discussion away from gun control and towards armed revolt against authority figures with whom they disagree.

I read this clip on Washington, and it neatly sums downside of gun rights absolutism:

When you boil it down to its nasty essentials, this Second Amendment absolutism is based on the argument that “patriots” need to remain heavily armed in case they decide it’s necessary to undertake the violent overthrow of the United States government. When rapper/actor Ice-T recently said Americans need guns in case they needed to shoot a cop in self-defense, he was articulating the very same principle in a particularly unguarded way.

I wonder if Judge Head, Rick Perry, Wayne LaPierre and Rick Scott would agree with Ice-T.  Sounds like Judge Head is in lock step.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ice Cream Dreams and Champagne Wishes

After a recent dinner date with my wife, we ended the evening the way millions of married couples end a night of food, drink and kid-free conversation.  We went to the grocery store.  Nothing provides a happy ending to a date more than a stroll up and down the aisle of your favorite chain supermarket.  My cheeks are flush just thinking about it.

Since this was a date, we spared no expense and went to the Cadillac of local grocery stores, Wegmans.  There, we gazed lovingly at the wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (“I think vegetables can be very sensuous, don't you?” – Eric Stratton to Mrs. Marion Wormer, Animal House, 1978).  We soaked in the romantic aroma of overpriced floral arrangements and drowned in the stench of overscented bath supplies, all while swaying to Muzak versions of The Doors greatest ballads.  Ah, old married love, ‘tis smell is sweet. 

We wandered into the frozen food aisle, and being a hopeless romantic, or maybe just hopeless, I suggested we buy some ice cream for the kids.  Besides, we might have a coupon.  Also, a vat of ice cream from Wegmans is a lot cheaper than a slice of key lime pie at any fancy restaurant. 

Behind the foggy glass doors, between the 5 gallon tubs of orange sherbet and the 12 pack Dove brand ice cream sandwiches, I spied some private label treats that I had not seen before.  The carton designs and color schemes looked familiar.  They had sports team branded ice cream from Turkey Hill.

They sold Bronx Bomber Sundae and Pinstripe Brownie Blast to honor the Evil Empire from New York.  Blitzburgh Crunch in Steelers Terrible black and yellow was wedged in between the Phillies Batter Up and the Phillies Graham Slam half gallons.  This was cross promotional marketing gone wild.  Athletics and ice cream, like sports and competitive eating, shouldn’t go together. 

This was not the biggest problem for me.  Out of market sports franchises were being marketed and sold to Washington area fans.  I was devastated.

The thrill of the date denouement was shriveling.  I knew in my head that DC was not a sports town.  The last championship parade was held here in 1993 (DC United soccer does not count).  The Wizards stink.  Pro baseball was absent for 37 seasons before returning by default in 2005.  Lord Stanley’s Cup has not runeth over on the streets of DC since the inception of the Caps franchise in 1974.  In football, we own Daniel Snyder – enough said.  

I understand why the ice cream vendors of America have disrespected us. It’s pure economics.  Our team jerseys don’t sell, so how could the area fans of local teams be expected to buy brand specific ice cream?

In my heart, however, I knew this was unfair and frankly, insulting.  The Redskins, while unwatchable for close to 20 years, still have a loyal fan base (that does not include me).  Couldn’t they have test marketed some Hogs Heavenly Hash or Redskins Rum Raisin?

Where’s the Nationals Nutter Butter?  Or the Nats Nutberry Cream or the Strasburg Iceberg Smoothie.  Zimmerman Triple Play Neopolitan?  The team has the best record in baseball; least number of runs allowed in baseball; best road record in baseball…6 ½ game lead in a division that was projected to be a fight between the Phillies, Marlins, and Braves.  The Nationals have a legitimate chance to…I can’t say it.  That could jinx it and I cannot be held responsible.

Where’s the love, Turkey Hill?  Where’s our ice cream?  I scream, you scream, now we all need to scream for our Washington Nationals signature series ICE CREAM!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Forcible Withdrawal

Ever since John the Baptist lost his head proclaiming the Good News, killing the messenger has been a knee jerk response from those in power to any report of news they did not want.  Look what happened to those poor Stormtroopers who updated Darth Vader on the movements of the rebel forces.  The Mayans brought us the bad news that the world was coming to an end, and if you haven’t noticed, there aren’t many Mayans running around these days.  The messengers are convenient targets, but killing them never changes the underlying truths.  Just distracts us so we feel better temporarily, at least until the end of the world. 

No group has perfected the kill the messenger meme better than the modern day Republican Party.  For the Grand Old Party, the messenger that it victimizes time and again is the “Media”, specifically the Liberal Media.  The media reports bad news for the party, and therefore the bad news is the media’s fault.  Off with their talking heads!  Regardless of the veracity of the information, regardless of its factual basis, the response to bad news is that the media caused the bad news.

For example, Mitt Romney uses the media as an excuse not to discuss policy specifics or potential budget cuts in advance of Election Day.  The media might deliver a message that he does not like.  His secrecy about his bundlers, his executive records from Massachusetts, and his taxes are the media’s fault.  Sadly, this strategy seems to work so there is no end in sight to the approach.

The latest hero of the Democratic Party, confused yet stubborn Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, has taken the kill the messenger approach to new and historically dishonest heights, proving that the size of your balls can be as big as your imagination can dream them.  Rep. Akin is claiming to his supporters via Twitter that the liberal media is behind the drive to push him out of the Senate race.

The media reports the bad news about his candidacy and the words that come out of his mouth; the media must be to blame for creating the bad news about his candidacy.  Ballsy.

As a quick refresher, Akin stated last week that victims of “legitimate rape” could not become pregnant as a result of the attack.  He contended that the female body had the ability to recognize the subtle distinction between a legitimate rape and an illegitimate rape, and spontaneously reject the sperm of an illegitimate rapist.  He is the GOP Chairperson of the House Science Committee.  That’s not a joke (but he is).

Akin does not elaborate on his perceived difference between legitimate and illegitimate rape, but one can assume that he thinks the case of illegitimate rape occurs when the woman is asking for it based on her style of dress or general physical attractiveness.  This was the same guy who co-sponsored, along with VP candidate Paul Ryan, an amendment to redefine the rape exception in abortion laws with the adjective “forcible”.  Again, I can only assume that clarifying the word rape with the word “forcible” means that in Akin and Ryan’s worlds, there are non-forcible rapes that would no longer be considered under the exception.

If Akin has a definition of a non-forcible rape, I would love to hear it.  Then again, I don’t think I would.  If his opinion became public, that would be the media’s fault. 

Let’s look at his claim to his supporters that the liberal media is behind the drive to push him out of the Senate race.  His first lie is that he still has supporters.  When Sarah Palin bails on you, you no longer have supporters, and she bailed on him within days on Fox News.  A crazy politician without Palin support is just a crazy person.

In Akin-Land, these prominent figures that have called for his withdrawal from the Missouri Senate race:  Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin.  Which one of those, Rep Akin, are under the umbrella of “Liberal Media”?

The list of non-supporters that have called for his forcible ouster include Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and they are supposed to be severe, not like that Forgotten Republican, the compassionate George W. Bush.  None of these public figures belong to the Liberal Media Establishment.

This does not prevent Akin from trying to implant this idea in the minds of the people.  His obvious hope is that the memory of this incident will be flushed out of the political system within a month and that this episode will be remembered as a mere cramp in his campaign cycle. 
In essence, Akin has decided when it comes to the fall campaign, he’s just going to lie back and enjoy it.

In my mind, there are legitimate candidates and illegitimate candidates for the Senate of the United States.  I won’t explain the distinct here for fear the media establishment will twist my words, but suffice to say that I believe Rep. Todd Akin is an illegitimate representative for public office and should be forcibly withdrawn from consideration.

It is no one’s fault but his, so in his case, I guess I will blame the victim.  He brought it on himself.  Paid the price.  His fault.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grading on a Curve

We have completed the endless summer of endless campaigning in time to begin the endless fall of endless campaigning.  The leaves may change but politics does not.  Through the oppressive summer heat which was either caused by man’s activities or a vengeful God, we endured political wars on success, woman, religion, chicken sandwiches, and Rep. Todd Akin.  The arrival of September never felt so good. 

We the victims of these conflicts have a short few weeks remaining before these wars are replaced by shiny new wars on freedom, the poor, transparency, or a vulnerable nation state in the Middle East, take your pick.  If you thought war was hell, you haven’t been through many Presidential campaigns.  It’s getting hot out there. 

There is one Big War that we know is about to be fought in America, and the first shots in my area will be fired on Tuesday, September 4th: the War on Classes, and in this war, our school age children are the victims.  It’s Back to School Day in most of Real America and our kids will fight to stay home in bed.  It is the day that our children will be bused off for their 9 month indoctrination in such radical philosophies as the Pythagorean Theorem, Newton’s Laws, and Maslow’s Hierarchy.  When I went to school, studying this stuff was considered intelligent design.  Today, we know that two of those guys were from Europe and one from New Jersey, so we know they are closet socialists.   
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, aka Thing One and Thing Two, would be well served to follow our children into the classrooms this fall, and take a few courses from our wealthy elitist union thug educators.  If the candidates can’t pass rudimentary elementary subjects, how can they expect to be accepted into the Electoral College of their choice, let alone graduate?  The Electoral College is highly selective, but I hear that it’s worth it for the gourmet campus dining halls and the unsupervised co-ed dormitories.

Here is the class schedule I recommend for the party standard bearers: 

Math:  Romney and Obama should both enroll in Arithmetic 101.  If Romney believes that $4 trillion more in tax cuts plus increased defense spending minus funding for the National Endowment for the Arts equals a balanced budget, I would recommend some remedial tutoring or prescription medication.  The President for his part has struggled with job numbers, but according to Fox News is reportedly pretty good with division.

Science:  Science could be a struggle for the former governor of Massachusetts.  There is an entire chapter on global climate change, and he has been taught that Fahrenheit was a liberal and Celsius was a Communist.  I’ll bet you $10,000 Romney would pay Paul Ryan to take the final for him.  The President could conduct a lab experiment for the Science Fair that demonstrates that oil interests are not soluble in the environmental lobby no matter how hard you stir, particularly in an election year.

History:  A good semester of history would benefit both candidates.  I am not sure that Mitt Romney is aware that George W. Bush was President from January 2001 to January 2009, or that Bush represented the same political party as he does.  Barack Obama needs an education about all of the radical 20th century philosophers and villains that he is accused of mimicking.  If he is going to be accused of being a modern day Neville Chamberlain or Saul Alinsky acolyte, he should at least know who those guys were.

English:  We know that Romney can order dinner in 6 different languages, but he has not proven that he can be understood by non-NASCAR team owners in his native tongue.  Obama for his part could brush up on his elocution and lose that telltale Kenyan accent he uses when talking down to people.  This semester’s required reading for both students:  Catch 22, which could describe their feeling the day after being elected.

Foreign Language:  Both should be cramming for weekly quizzes in conversational Spanish.  If demographic trends continue, they’re going to need it. 

Physical Education:  Neither candidate needs to enroll in PE.  The entire enterprise is called “running” for office after all.  Romney could sign on to his running mate Paul Ryan’s P90X plan and Obama could take up running alongside his Vice President’s mouth.  Both regimens should provide plenty of exercise without the risk of being picked last for the class dodgeball game. 
I know it may seem odd for grown men to enroll in elementary school again (although Donald Trump has not personally witnessed Obama’s primary school transcript, so perhaps he never graduated), but it could be educational.  When the most common retort to a political adversary this season is “Oh yeah? Well so are you!”, it does not seem all that far-fetched that Romney and Obama head back to school.  I think we agree that it is time to raise educational standards, so let’s start at the top.

Of course, come November 6th, we will be grading on a curve.