Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rachel Maddow Makes Darrell Issa Look Like an Fool

Scratch that headline. Darrell Issa is a fool. Rachel Maddow just points that out in a supremely satisfying way. Issa should watch, he might learn something. It's also worth noting the vast difference between Republicans and Democrats regarding their response to the Ebola "crisis." One side is trying to calm people down, the other is stoking panic. Guess which is which.

Friday, October 24, 2014

And I'm Telling You, I'm Not Going!

Sorry. I know it looks like I've abandoned the place. But I've been busy, busy, busy. Work stuff. Home stuff. Social obligations. If I told you the list of things we've gotten done around this joint in the last week, you'd both be proud of me, and a little exhausted. I'll be back, in fact, probably with a few more things today and over the weekend. I'm tired, but I'm also pent up!

So, if you've dropped by for a visit, please come back. There are only so many chores that need doing, and we've gotten a lot of them done! Thanks, and come again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Frivolity Break: My Cable Box is Still Insane

It's still at it! Here's a screen shot of the rerun of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, with Barbra Streisand. Note the description.  And the guide below that. The whole thing is that way!


Sorry, Another Work Night

No blogging for me tonight. The at-home job unexpectedly took up what little evening I had left after some home improvement work. I's tired.

If I get a second wind, you might see a story, but if you don't, you'll know why!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Frivolity Break: My Cable Box Has Lost its Mind

I meant to take a shot during The Big Bang Theory, when it read something like Pits Dang Bob. Most of these are indecipherable, but these are kind of the normal channels.

I am most interested in pets The Virgin, NCIS: Goes Daniel and The teens Remains the Same. I do know that The Jeff is really The Simpsons, and that The Western Maddow out is The Rachel Maddow Show. The show descriptions are just as screwy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Gay Thing: So-called "Religious Freedom" Cases are Not What They Seem

When I started this blog, I never intended for "The Gay Thing" to be anything more than an occasional topic. The news cycle doesn't really permit that anymore, does it? Couple that with the fact that this blog is also my sounding board, the place where I go to get things off of my chest. And this topic often generates that need, particularly when it comes to backlash and stupidity (they often go together).
Here's a FOX "News" story about one of the early
"religious freedom" cases, Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
There wasn't legal marriage in Oregon at the time.

Helpfully labeled so you know he's not Melissa.

Marriage equality is very nearly a done deal. Before the end of the year, we'll likely be past 35 states and the District of Columbia. What's left is pretty much the deep south and the Dakotas, with some stragglers around the edges (come on, Ohio, you're embarrassing me!). But the anti-gay side--and don't kid yourself, that is what they are--isn't ready to give up. Since they're pretty much out of options in regard to the actual legality of same-sex marriage, what they've got left is to make all sorts of claims of "religious freedom." They're actually making a case that the ability to legally discriminate, shun, or otherwise refuse service to gay people, is a central tenet of their religion.

And the story about the
Houston sermon subpoena
thing from Joe.My.God.
That's mayor Annise Parker,
who's caught up in it.
Finding the commandment or verse that calls for this is difficult, but that's not stopping them. This actually started a while back, when the marriage equality tsunami was just a few lapping waves. It was odd too, because it was almost exclusively wedding industry Christians (cake bakers, photographers, venue operators, dress makers, caterers) from states where gay people couldn't marry anyway. It actually rather shone a light on their lie that they weren't anti-gay, just religiously objecting to gay marriage. How can that be true when these weren't legal marriages anyway? Sometimes--as in a religion-meddling-in-politics case in Houston--marriage isn't even a part of the controversy. It's pretty plain: they just don't like gay people, and want to be mean and/or able to ignore that they exist.

So, they've amped up their martyr complexes, and made mini celebrities out of themselves all across Right Wing World. And now that equality has come to the majority of the US, they're turning it up to eleven. The trouble is, their claims have just enough truthiness, and surfacy-outrage to potentially stick. In other words, though their claims are absolute bullshit, it might sound convincing enough to create backlash. Now, why do I say their claims are bullshit?

Well, first there is the above note that they have a difficult time pointing out the specific religious objections they might have to selling products or services to gay people. Second, this often has little to do with marriage itself, it has to do with public accommodation laws, which predate legal marriage. If you have a public accommodation business, open to the general public, you must serve the general public. It's as simple as the Woolworth's lunch counter not being legally able to bar black customers. I don't care if you don't think sexual orientation is a perfect analogy to race, legally, these cases are identical. If there is a public accommodation law that covers gay people (and they are far from universal, lest you think otherwise), you can't refuse to do business with them just because they're gay. Or have a different religion. Or are black. Or anything else covered by the law.

The unbelievable disingenuousness of Las Vegas
wedding chapels (Elvis?) alleging to be solemn
churches is just galling.
Now, there are new cases, even right here in Nevada, where wedding chapels are deciding not to perform marriages for gay couples, using a "religious freedom" excuse. And this is where the truthiness comes in. It sounds like a religious freedom case, because: chapel. And the officiant may very well be religious and homophobic (I'm sorry, your religion doesn't shield you from being a bigot). But these chapels, in every one of these new cases, are not churches, they are businesses. Consider if you will, the parade of couples who have gone through your average Las Vegas little white chapel. Do you mean to tell me every one has been as pure as the driven snow, with a religion that aligns perfectly with the officiant? Really?

So, while I believe that these cases are bullshit, and a transparent attempt by the anti-gay to exert some control over a situation where they have none, I do worry. I saw Hobby Lobby, a case that was a
A rustic, wild west, for-profit church?!?
Our latest martyrs from Idaho.
Pandora's box filled with mind boggling implications. One of them could be giving these chapels inherent religious beliefs and rights, out of thin air. And once you've carved out exceptions to some laws for the "sincerely held beliefs" of one religion, tell me, where would it stop? This isn't a slippery slope question, this is an obvious, and clear eventuality: there would suddenly be other beliefs that need to be "protected" by carving out exceptions to other laws. And pretty soon, it wouldn't just be Christians seeking them. Right Wing World rarely thinks about that.

As an atheist, I am a staunch supporter of religious freedom, because it protects my lack of belief, or is supposed to. But I don't like disingenuous, manipulative, dishonest movements like this one. And I have a very hard time thinking it's a good idea to grant legal exceptions for what amount to mythical beliefs.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blast from the Past: Songs that Should have Been Hits

Yes, this is a rerun, but I've added two new "shoulda beens" to the end!

For this week's Blast from the Past, I'm going to see how many songs I can find that are examples of great songs that either barely hit the Billboard charts, or didn't even break through at all. And I'm sure I'll only crack the surface here. These are the kinds of songs that you either know because they were on an album you played a lot, sometimes on a Greatest Hits collection with some "extras" that really weren't. Or it's an attempt at a comeback from an established star that just didn't do the trick. Whatever it is, these songs all have the makings of a hit, but just. . .weren't for some reason. See how many you know.

1. Ring Ring by ABBA (1973) - This early tune by the Swedish quartet managed to make several world-wide charts, some to number one. But it didn't chart in the states at all. It should have.

2. On and On and On by ABBA (1980) - A later track by the same group had all the makings of a hit (and the by now standard repeating title of many of their others), but only hit #90 in the US. It was still very catchy, and should have been a hit.

3. I'm Gonna Be Strong by Cyndi Lauper (1994) - According to Lauper, this is the song that got her a recording contract. Small wonder. I've always wondered what could have happened if Lauper had been a contestant on American Idol, and belted this out. It's amazing.

4. You Don't Know by Cyndi Lauper (1997) - As you can now tell, I have some favorite artists who have several songs I think should have been hits. This one was probably hampered by an album track that was slow and languid. This dance version is one of my favorites, a song about the stupidity of bigotry.

5. Quantum Mechanic by Thomas Dolby and Dr. Fiorella Terenzi (1994) - This great tune from the Gate to the Mind's Eye soundtrack always made me happy. And should have been released.

6. UMF by Duran Duran (1993) - One of several tracks from "The Wedding Album," something of a comeback album that did have a couple of hits. UMF stands for "ultimate mind f**k," thought the profanity is never uttered.

7. Only You by Pat Benatar (1997) - Again, a great album, chock full of great tunes, but it still couldn't revive Benatar's hit-making career.

8. Try by Billy Pilgrim (1994) - I saw this band when they opened for Melissa Etheridge on tour. I bought their album, and totally dug it. This is one of their best songs, and it turned up on a compilation or two, but didn't really go anywhere. Great harmonies.

9. Rock D.J. by Robbie Williams (2000) - This incredibly catchy dance tune was a hit around the world, but didn't manage more than #24 on the dance chart in the US. Maybe it had something to do with the gory, out-of-left-field video.

10. Little Bird by Annie Lennox (1993) - This is (along with a couple of other tracks that didn't chart) one of my favorite Lennox tunes. Amazing that I didn't do better.

11. One by One by Cher (1996) - Like the Cyndi Lauper tune, You Don't Know above, this one had a down-tempo album version, and this spirited dance version. The dance version charted at #6, the album version at #52. I'm fairly certain it was this song's performance that made Cher go straight for dance releases like Believe after this.

12. That's What I Think by Cyndi Lauper (1993) - Another Lauper tune, I can't help myself. I think she's been criminally overlooked. This one she even plays the recorder. I remember her blowing David Letterman away when she performed it on his show.

And that will wrap it up for now. I realized as I was writing that there are many, many songs I listen to that were never hits but seemingly could have been. Give these a listen, and look forward to another edition. This one is worth a sequel. (or a rerun, heh)

Happy Monday!

BONUS: Here's the Letterman clip.

Over Time with Bill Maher, October 17, 2014

Bill Maher and his guests – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Barbara Lee, David Miliband, David Frum and Joel Stein – answer viewer questions.

Home Improvement: the Easiest, Cheapest Upgrade that You Never Get Around to (Shower Heads)

Ugh. . .we were taking showers through that!

Here at Chez Greenlee, we've put a lot of money and effort into upgrading the joint. Initially, it was due to a renewed pride of ownership after a seeming eternity upside-down. Back in the black, we thought we needed to freshen the place, and make it a more happy place. We finished some time in the spring.

But this fall, we made a decision that we're finally going to start planning for a future move. That move could be anywhere from months to years away, but we want to be ready. So, we started looking room-by-room, for things that need fixing. Outlets that don't work. Grout that needs cleaned and sealed. Paint that needs patching. Doorknobs that need replacing. A water softener so that all of our lovely sinks, faucets and appliances don't get crusty. And showerheads. Because they're already crusty.

Also better!
I've been meaning to replace them both for years, and especially meant to during our recent renovations. But we just--for some reason--never got around to it. Today, I went and bought a couple at Home Depot. I didn't want to go nuts, since we won't be in the house for all that much longer. So, we got one for the guest bath for $20, one for the master for $35. One's a Water Pik, the other a Delta. Both installed with little effort. If you can work a wrench, you've got it. It's the cheapest, easiest upgrade you can do, and almost everyone gets by with the crap ones the builder put in!

Here's the embarrassing part: those old crusties that you're used to? When you have guests, they see them. Up close, when they're showering. I know, because I've seen them at others' houses! Rusty, limey, yucky showerheads. I was once one of you! No more! And I tell ya, if and when we get a new house, if those ones are crusty too? Out they go, first couple of days.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Gay Thing: Arizona Joins Marriage Equality States; Alaska Re-Joins

Well, well, well. As my favorite blogger Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God. is fond of saying, "Zoom, zoom." We've basically racked up 12 states in 12 days into the marriage equality camp. That puts us--unless my math is wrong--at 31 states plus Washington DC with same-sex marriage! 19 (plus Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, etc.) to go!

These two states are particularly shadenfreude-filled, because both states have had a lot of anti-gay animus from the GOP leadership. A hearty Nelson Muntz "Ha ha!" to anyone feeling even a modicum of discomfort over this subject. And perhaps, in addition to the futility of obstruction seen in Nevada and Idaho, this will illustrate to other states that are dragging their feet. It's quite simply a waste of money to try to delay any longer, particularly in any state where a Circuit Court has already ruled. Texas, Louisiana, Ohio. . .your circuits haven't ruled yet, so you have a (tiny) ledge to stand on here. But I wouldn't throw much of the budget at it, if I were you.


Supreme Court Allows Gay Marriage In Alaska

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday allowed gay marriage in Alaska to go into effect, increasing the number of U.S. states that permit gay marriage to 31. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post


Judge strikes down Arizona's ban on gay marriage

A federal judge has cleared the way for legally recognized gay marriages in Arizona by ruling that the state's ban on same-sex unions is unconstitutional. The ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick bars state officials from enforcing a 1996 state law and a 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment that outlawed gay marriage. . .

Read more at: MSN/AP

Ebola (A Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

It was so obvious, I can't believe I didn't think of it: a song parody about Ebola, set to The Kinks' Lola. Enjoy!

And get more Rocky Mountain Mike here.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Right Wing World: Outrage Over Houston Sermon Subpoenas

It's always something in Right Wing World, some outrage--usually outrageously overblown--to obsess about. It will usually erupt into the mainstream, first as a "what's got their knickers in a twist?-type story, then it either gets treated like a real story, or is tsk-tsked away as a nothingburger. I only wish the latter was how it always went.

This time, it has to do with a lawsuit--filed by the religious side--that has resulted in the subpoenas of church sermons. Why? Because discovery goes both ways in a lawsuit, and because tax exempt churches should not be overtly involved in politics. Simple, right?

No, it would apparently be the worst thing that has ever happened to freedom in America. Even though churches have pretty much been begging for this for years. And waiting
The Usual Suspects, from TowleRoad
for it, so they could do the present freak-out. And it doesn't hurt that the case is LGBT-related either.

Don't buy it. In fact, don't ever buy it without looking into what the current outrage is about.



Back in August we reported that anti-gay activists in Houston had failed in their efforts to collect enough signatures for a ballot measure that would place Houston's LGBT-inclusive Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) up for a public referendum. The activists (which included local pastors) proceeded to sue the city over the rejection of signatures and a court date was set for January 2015. . .

Read more at: TowleRoad (and yes, I chose a gay news site on purpose)

That Bizarre Florida Governor's Debate

Our first contestant, a former Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Crist, more convincingly tanned than John Boehner, changed parties since the last time, and acquired a wife, though that hasn't put a stop to the rumors about his sexuality. Our next contestant, is the impossibly creepy, oily, borderline-scary Rick Scott, he of the massive payout for Medicaid fraud.

For the life of me, I can't understand how Scott was ever elected in the first place, as he really does look like a Hollywood special effect. But he did, and now he's trying to get reelected. He might win again too, because--you know--Florida. But I'm hoping for Charlie, if only by process of elimination. Either way, nobody could have expected how their debate would go down.


Rick Scott Almost Refused To Debate Charlie Crist Over Fan

Florida's second gubernatorial debate got off to a bizarre start Wednesday evening when incumbent Gov. Rick Scott (R) initially refused to debate his opponent because he had a fan under his lectern. Democratic candidate Charlie Crist, the former Florida governor hoping to unseat Scott in next month's election, had a small electric fan placed under his lectern. This, Scott's campaign claimed, violated the debate's "no electronics" rule. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Rude Pundit: On Cowardly Democrats

Lee Papa, The Rude Pundit
I wrote recently on the Democrats' maddening tendency toward cowardice, particularly during campaigns. Instead of touting the strengths of say, ObamaCare, they instead pretend they have never heard of it. That kind of thing. But, as usual, somebody done it better already: The Rude Pundit. As usual, it's more than worth a read.


Democrats Once Again Put on Their Coward Pants (With Exceptions)

Look, you can cavil all you want about Kentucky Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes's refusal to answer whether or not she voted for Barack Obama. You can sit there all self-satisfied and pat yourself on the fuckin' back that you support the sanctity of the secret ballot and that, really, it's not all that important that she answer. You can pretend all you want that Grimes is correct to stand on principle or that, if she said that she voted for Obama, it would be used in attack ads endlessly by that unrepentant, smug cuntface, Mitch McConnell. You know that it's far, far more important that McConnell refuses to say if he thinks climate change is human-caused or that Kynect, Kentucky's Obamacare exchange, would be harmed if you got rid of Obamacare, something the governor of Kentucky ripped McConnell for. That's shit that affects the daily lives of Kentuckians, not what Grimes did in a voting booth. . .

Read more at: Rude Pundit

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Joe Biden Disses the Tea Party.

Image from source, Mediaite
Way to go, Joe! Sometimes, the man can be inelegant, but he is often right, whether he hits the right notes or not. Here, on this topic, there is no need for delicate phrasing.


Biden Reportedly Calls Tea Party ‘Crazy’: ‘They Have No Judgment’

Vice President Joe Biden met in private with black clergy members in South Carolina today, and according to one report, Biden told them that the tea party is “crazy” and very much unlike previous incarnations of the Republican Party. . .

Read more at: Mediaite

US Facing Ebola with No Surgeon General

Why don't we have a Surgeon General to shepherd us through a medical crisis like Ebola? Three guesses. . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mitch McConnell: Kill ObamaCare! Keep Kentucky's Part of it! (WTF?)

Mitch McConnell is talking out his ass again, this time at his debate with Alison Lundergan Grimes. Yes, Yertle seems to think we should eliminate every "root and branch" of the Affordable Care Act, and yet leave Kentucky's Kynect (or just its web site?) intact. The problem, of course, is that Kynect is ObamaCare, it's what it was always supposed to be, one of 50 state-run exchanges. And it worked! And it's popular! So, it puts Mitch in this trick bag.

If Grimes is smart, she'll play this up big time: "Kentuckians, Mitch McConnell thinks you're stupid. He thinks you're so stupid, that you don't know that Kynect is part of the Affordable Care Act. He's hoping you're so stupid, that you'll vote for him, and let him take away your insurance."

I'm not particularly a fan of Grimes. I think she's a calculating, politics first, talking points-based candidate. I think she's hoping that Kentuckians are stupid enough to think she's anti-Obama, because they are stupid enough to vote against her for being an Obama supporter. I think there are better ways to play this, than posturing and fake-outs. But very nearly anyone would be better than Mitch McConnell. The fact that this is even close tells you that the "Kentuckians are stupid" gambit could very well work for either side.


McConnell Wants To Keep Obamacare 'Website' But Repeal Obamacare

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Monday night he wants to repeal Obamacare "root and branch" but keep the law's state-based insurance exchange in Kentucky, called Kynect. "I think it's fine to have a website. Yeah," he said during the first and only scheduled Kentucky Senate debate with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, pressed on whether he wants to keep Kynect. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Gay Thing: New Marriage Equality Landscape

I was on vacation all last week, so I wasn't able to comment on the stunning* developments in the marriage equality movement over the past stretch of days. In the past week, we've gone from 19 states and Washington, DC, to DC plus thirty. And the number will likely grow to 35, given the fact that there are a few holdouts in those states already covered by a Circuit Court decision. That's nearly double, in what will amount to a few weeks.

Image from Wikipedia. Dark blue represents those states
with full marriage equality. For the full key, see: Wikipedia.
Ironically, the marriage equality movement would likely not be where it is without the anti-gay movement. When marriage equality seemed to be on the horizon in Hawaii back in the 1990s, a tsunami of pre-emptive anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendments hit the whole country. Caught by surprise, the notoriously nebulous gay rights movement (gay agenda my butt) had no working strategy. While we had all of the good, legally sound arguments, they just weren't at the forefront, and attitudes were still much less supportive at the time. Add to that, the fact that only abortion and gun legislation draws arch conservatives to the polls more reliably, and you really had a perfect storm.

But, as I said, opinions were slowly shifting, and those good arguments started to stick their landings. Except for some blatantly anti-gay judges (looking at you Tennessee and Arkansas), there was simply no way for the judiciary to decide any other way: same-sex couples should have the same rights, responsibilities and benefits that opposite sex couples receive. Calls to tradition, religion and "nature" simply aren't effective in a court of law. Thankfully.

Now, interestingly, my marriage is suddenly effective in my state of residence (though the nutbars at the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage are still trying to intervene). My husband's home state recognizes us too. In three of the four states we just visited (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania), we were also legal. But, unfortunately, in my home state--a state we may move to in the months or years to come--we are not recognized. Our marriage winks off when we cross the border into Ohio.

Ohio (and Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee and the rest of 'em) should be embarrassed. So should those who are still fighting in states covered by the cases the Supreme Court chose not to review. You're being a roadblock just to be a pain at this point. You're dragging your feet for the sake of delay. Knock it off. These are real peoples' lives.

*It should be noted that the Supreme Court's decision to do nothing with all of the cases before them on this topic really was stunning. I don't think I have seen a single pundit, blogger or even commenter who seriously considered the possibility. Most thought they'd take up one or all of the cases, and I think most gave us fairly decent odds of winning. 5-4 or 6-3 were both speculated, with a fear that it might go 4-5, with us losing. There was a smaller group of people who thought they might just sit on all the cases indefinitely, putting them into legal limbo. But I don't recall "refusing to hear the cases" as anything other than a bullet-point nobody thought would really happen.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Back from Vacation, Blogging Resumes Monday Night!

Why not return tonight if I'm back? Well, the picture might be an indication. While it's great that the time zone difference from Eastern to Pacific gives us a little buffer when we return from a trip, it adds three hours to our day. And that's on a travel day where you're usually up early to begin with. Tired. Very tired. Even though it's still early.

So, since this here thingy is a hobby and not a job, I'm calling it a vacation day, and pushing my "return" to Monday. And that is assuming that my return to work doesn't wipe me out!

Off to bed!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Back to Ohio: Greenlee Gazette on Vacation

Sadly, I will not be having this sort of vacation.
Greenlee Gazette is going on hiatus until the middle of October. Vacation does not officially start for another day, but there is too much to do, and too much going on to contribute more tonight. This will be the longest break I've taken in the seven-plus years history of the blog. The reason for this is simple: this is a hobbyist blog, and it's a lot of work for no pay. Though I still enjoy doing it, and plan to keep going with it, I no longer feel the obligation to post multiple posts every day. I've already dialed back my weekends--as most other blogs do--and now have decided that this vacation is a vacation.

That doesn't mean that I won't pop something up if I have the time and interest, or if some huge event happens. But most likely, you're going to see a static page here over the next two weeks. Don't get any ideas if you're an internet-savvy thief: we have a house sitter! But I'm going to let him watch the house (and the cat), and I'm going to let the blog go mostly idle for the duration. I will alert my good friend Reverend Stu', and see if he's so inclined to contribute while I'm away. If he is, you're in for a treat. But if he doesn't, just tune in on the back half of October. I'll be back!

In the mean time, I will be visiting family, driving across at least three states while the leaves change, and maybe even scouting for a new home base, for an eventual change of venue.

Thanks folks. See you when frost is on the pumpkin.
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