Thursday, March 31, 2011

Donald Trump, Birthers, and . . .oh, whatever. . .

So, here's the deal. The Other Half invited several friends of ours over for a game night on Wednesday. We played dominoes, ate snacks and drank libations. We had a very good time. But it put me off my blogging game. So, here's the only thing I can really offer for Thursday. Please enjoy.

The "birthers" have developed an unexpectedly strong internet viability, only because people aren't paying attention. The whole Obama birth certificate thing is completely and totally bogus. President Obama was born in Hawaii, and no sane people belive otherwise. But, check this out:


Bill O’Reilly To Trump: ‘I Don’t Think You Believe’ This Birther Stuff

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly questioned Donald Trump about comments he’s made regarding Barack Obama’s birth certificate to anyone who would listen – including the ladies of The View.

O’Reilly pointed out that, for him, the “birther issue” is not a huge deal because two separate Honolulu newspapers announced Obama’s birth and it’s far-fetched to think that there is an elaborate conspiracy in place to hide Obama’s real birthplace by planting fake birth announcements (“What is he, Baby Jesus?” is how O’Reilly quite succinctly put it.). . .

Read more at: MediaIte]

Donald Trump is a Douche. That is All.

What is the End Game of GOP "Austerity?"

This is a plain and simple question to the universe: what is the end game of the "austerity" plan of the GOP in America?  We're "broke" as a nation and as individual states, they say. We can't afford social programs, so the poor, the sick, the old and any other unfortunates will have to cut wayyy back. We can't afford pensions, unemployment insurance, or social security, even if you've already paid into those programs. Doesn't matter, we're broke. You think the money you paid gives you some sort of security? Screw you!

But, in order to draw interest from the fat cats from Wall Street and the banking sector--companies who are sitting on trillions of dollars--we've got to sweeten the pot. We're broke you understand, but we've got to spend anyway. Not on welfare, unemployment, medicare, medicaid, social security. . .no. . .tax cuts and subsidies to the super duper rich! Yep! Money for the billionaires! In tax cuts and subsidies and other enticements! That will create jobs! Even though they're sitting on more money than ever, we're going to give them more, and that will create jobs!

Don't go crying to your union either. Your union is busted! Why should you have any protections when nobody else does? If the non-union people get treated like crap, you should be treated like crap too! The new austerity means, everybody gets treated like crap! Bridges and roads are falling apart? Tough! People can't afford the very basics of life? They can suck it up! Screw 'em!  This is a fight between the winners and the losers, and you lose!

Seriously though, how long can this go on? How long can the "winners" actually claim to be winners if the vast majority end up losers? This trajectory cannot end up good for anybody if things keep on like they're keeping on. I know that most corporations and big entities tend to live in the "now." Think of Ford in the era of the Expedition and Excursion when gas hit $4.50 per gallon for example.

 But what is the end game here? What's going to happen if 85% or more of us fall below "middle class", and only 1 or 2% end up in the "upper class?" How does that work? Sure, for a little while, the GOP may be able to hold on to power with their 90% of the corporate election dollars. But when most of us are being crushed under their boots? Will we still vote for them? What the heck do they think is going to happen? I'm serious, what is the end game?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sarah Palin Coins Another Word: "Squirmish"

Sarah Palin--if past is truly prologue--will quickly claim this error as a good thing, another Palinism. After all, she has claimed in the past that Shakespere coined words, so why not ShakesPalin? And I'm sure people will lobby for it to be included in the Random House Dictionary.


Sarah Palin questions whether military attack was a “squirmish”

Here’s how the ultraconservative news site described Sarah Palin’s Monday night criticism of President Obama’s address to the nation:

“Are we at war? I haven’t heard the president say that we are at war. And that’s why I too [don’t know] do we use the term intervention, do we use war, do we use skirmish?. . .”

Read more at: Chicago Sun-Times

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Conservatives Today: Small Government Libertarians OR Big Government Authoritarians

Most of us consider ourselves liberal or conservative (or the politically agnostic "moderate"). Liberals have a rep for being "bleeding hearts" who want to help people, and who don't minding spending tax dollars to do that. But what does "conservatism" actually mean today? When they run to get elected, leading conservatives allege themselves to be all about smaller government. As Grover Norquist famously said, conservatives want to make government so small, they can drown it in the bathtub. So that position--the one they sold so hard in 2010--would be a more libertarian stripe of conservative.

Remember when the tea baggers tea partiers were really making a big political splash? It was all about strict constructionism of the Constitution, states' rights, and little bitty federal government. There was quite a bit made of the fact that the "social conservatives" had taken a backseat to these "taxed enough already" activists. No more wailing about gay people, abortion and the rest. This was all about real conservatism.  Mmm hmm. Until they get elected.

Since they won their big election in 2010, Republicans (tea and not tea varieties) have reignited their social conservatism, with tons of focus on gays and abortion. They've got their meanness on like we've not seen in decades. The seething, white hot nastiness pouring out of state governments and potential cartoon characters presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich and (ahem) Donald Trump has been stunning. And while they dress up some of their budget slashing, teacher firings, union squashing and other policies in quasi-logical sounding arguments, at the base of it all is control at any cost. A judge says they can't? Ignore them! A rule says they can't? Screw it! It might be unconstitutional? We'll sort it out later! And though they might try to say that this is all somehow about "smaller government," it sure doesn't look or sound like it. It seems like the wrath of a party who was out of, but is now back in power.

Love on a Rooftop

Not afraid of heights! Composite image from both sources.

Now this is exhibitionism!


USC Fraternity Leaders Investigate Rooftop Sex Photos

Photos that appear to show two people having sex on the roof of Waite Phillips Hall led to the suspension of a USC fraternity member. . .
Heh-heh, they said member.
Read more at: NBC Los Angeles
And because you know you want to, here are the (not all that terribly) naughty photos: Imgur

"Small Government" Conservative Think Tank Uses Government Against Professors

Gov. Walker's Fans, Photo from TPM
This one's just a little weird. Using the government to go after professors who may have used terms like "Wisconsin," "Madison" (wow, that isn't too broad!) and oddly, "Maddow" in email correspondence. See, conservatives really don't like professors, for their book learnin' and liberal leanings. So they're trying to git 'em, but they're doing so in a way that sort of uses the very "big government" they supposedly deplore. And along the way, they're going against the "nobody watches MSNBC" meme, as well as the "what Governor Walker is doing is very popular" line.


Conservative Think Tank Seeks Michigan Profs' Emails About Wisconsin Union Battle ... And Maddow

A free enterprise think tank in Michigan -- backed by some of the biggest names in national conservative donor circles -- has made a broad public records request to at least three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations, seeking all their emails regarding the union battle in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, TPM has learned. . ."
Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Nevada May Raise Cigarette Tax: The One Safe Tax Hike

Image from 120Cigarettes
"Sin" taxes are the only taxes politicians of right- or left-wing leanings feel reasonably safe raising. It's another area where Democrats have absorbed the mantra of their opposites: raising taxes is bad. All the time. Unless it's on smokers. Theoretically, they could raise taxes on lap dances, nudie magazines, porn DVDs. Sin taxes also extend to alcohol, but I'll bet they'll hold out on those. Alcohol is enjoyed across all levels of society. It's okay to stick it to smokers, who are more and more reviled and marginalized.

I quit smoking almost 90 days ago, after having been a light-to-moderate smoker for nearly 20 years. All that time, I really got irritated by anti-smoking nazis, the people who have regulated smoking out of almost all public areas. The one area they couldn't win in was casinos. A rather large loophole was cut out for casinos. It doesn't even really make any logical sense, but then the regulations are not about logical sense. In much the same way that anti-gay people sell their "protect marriage" agenda as protecting children, the anti-smoking people do the same. "Won't someone please think of the children?" The campaigns are often quite dishonest, and they almost always work. It used to really tick me off.

It still does on some level, but as a new non-smoker, I'm just as ticked off by standing downwind from a smoker. Or the smoker that throws his butts out the car window. Or drops them on the sidewalk and grinds them out. The new tax would have irritated me if I was still smoking. Now, I see it as an opportunity for others to quit. I also see it as a back-door tax of the poor. Yep, poor people smoke more on average. But can the state raise $350 million on a tax that may just squeeze out those poor people who can no longer put together enough money to buy them?  There has to be a point where the cost is just too high to justify for most people. I wonder if it would have made me quit, if I hadn't already.


Bill takes aim at smokers to help solve budget woes

Cigarette and cigar smokers and chewing tobacco users are the target of a bill introduced Friday in the Senate seeking a major boost in taxes. . .
Read more at: The Las Vegas Sun

Picture of the Day: Religion Your Way!

I might just be in a silly mood, but I found this picture at Joe.My.God., and laughed for a good long while. Partly because Joe titled it "Burger King of Kings," and captioned it, "He died so you can have it your way." Even better, down in the comments was "Have it Yahweh."  Okay, I'm done now.

Source: Joe.My.God.

Product Placement! Sugar and Diabetes, One-Stop Shopping

Image found at VoenixRising

Monday, March 28, 2011

Is a Government Shutdown on the Way?

My Senator, Harry Reid. He doesn't do
"tough guy" very well. Image from AOL
Last time there was a government shut down, it didn't go so well for Republicans or then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. This time, a potential shutdown is still pretty much at the feet of the GOP if it happens, but they're scrambling like mad to paint it as the President's fault, or the Democrats' fault at least. I just wish they'd all get their shit together, realize that there's more than just politics at stake here (barely recovering economy, three or four wars going on). It isn't going to be pretty, and it wouldn't be particularly surprising to see everyone getting blowback on this one.


Government Funding Talks Devolve Into Widespread Recriminations

Negotiations over a resolution to keep the government funded until the fall have devolved into recriminations, with Senate Democrats arguing that House Republicans moved the goal posts, party operatives criticizing the White House's negotiating tactics, and GOP leadership calling congressional Democratic demands unreasonable. . .
Read more at: AOL

Blast from the Past: Greenlee Gazette's Favorite Comedy Movies (Part 1)

There are so many, I can't narrow them down to just one batch. So here is the first in (at least) two parts!

#1 and #2-3/4 - Airplane! and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (#1 - 3) - I'm combining these movies because the video I found does the same. In truth, Airplane! is at the top of the heap, and the Naked Gun series slots in slightly down the list. But I defy you to get any of these four movies, and not laugh. It's my litmus test for a sense of humor.

#3 - What's Up, Doc? - One of the funniest movies of the 70s starred (at their physical peaks) Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand, not to mention Madeline Kahn in her introductory role, Kenneth Mars, John Hillerman, Phyllis Albertson, Sorrell Brooke and Randy Quaid. It's a comic masterpiece, and if you don't think so, well. . .there's no hope for you. Represented here by one of the few embeddable videos I could find, a blooper reel.

#4 - Top Secret! - From the wonderful ZAZ! team (before David Zucker lost his ever-loving mind) was this under appreciated comic masterpiece, starring Val Kilmer at his absolute best. Not to be missed.

#5 - Ruthless People - Again, ZAZ! in one of their more straight-ahead comedies, produced this gem, starring Danny Devito and Bette Midler. It's one of the funniest movies of the 80s.

#6 - Young Frankenstein - Surely one of the most artistic and well-executed spoof movies of all time, Young Frankenstein marks the pinnacle (along with Blazing Saddles) of both Mel Brooks' and Gene Wilders' careers. Nothing short of perfection. Frau Blucher!!!

#7 - Blazing Saddles - Of course, with the last entry, I couldn't forget this one. Not only is this a spectacular spoof, an fantastic skewering of racism, and a masterful bit of film making. . .it's also a pop culture touchstone for its generation. Along with Young Frankenstein, this movie is so full of talent, so jam-packed with jokes and one-liners, the two films may have more quotable lines than any ten other movies.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

FOX "News" Sunday's Chris Wallace Whines About White House Shut Out

Want some cheese with that whine?
Image from source, Huffington Post
Awwwww!!! Poor little Chris Wallace, the vaguely creepy host of FOX "News" Sunday, was shut out by the Obama Administration when it tried to get Hillary Clinton or Bob Gates to talk about Libya on the program. Frankly, I wonder why any prominent Democrats would ever appear on the frightfully skewed channel. Every program--even their allegedly "hard news" programs--is infused with the primary goal of making liberals look bad. Why help them out?

Oh, and the whining Wallace also stated that his program regularly beats two out of the three other Sunday morning political programs. I'd very much like to see the data that backs up this dubious claim. I suppose if you add up all the reairings of F"N"S, and put it against the single airing of ABC's This Week, and CNN's State of the Union, he might be right. But the truth is, Wallace's show regularly trails CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, as well as This Week.


Fox News' Chris Wallace Slams White House For Blocking Access To Clinton, Gates

Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the talk show rounds on Sunday, appearing on ABC, CBS and NBC to discuss Libya. However, they did not go on Fox News--something which made Chris Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday," very unhappy--and he let his viewers know it. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Trey Parker & Matt Stone Discuss The Book of Mormon, Their Broadway Show

I'm not a big theater fan (though I did see "Cats" at the Winter Garden. . .does that count?). But I really like skewering sacred cows, I consider religion in general, but Mormonism in particular to be preposterous, and I love Trey Parker and Matt Stone (but when did Stone become the cute one?). ABC's Jake Tapper interviewed the South Park creators about their Broadway creation, and the result is highly entertaining. Enjoy.

Found at: Joe.My.God.

Geraldine Ferraro, First Female VP Candidate, Dies at 75

Image from Forbes
I'm old enough to know and remember that Sarah Palin was not the first female vice presidential candidate. Nor was Palin the smartest, not by a long shot. But I do have to say that I came from a Republican household, and that Walter Mondale was far from a charismatic candidate. So--other than Geraldine Ferraro's husband's vaguely shady dealings--distinct memories of Ferraro are sketchy. Likewise, Ferraro's later career as a FOX "News" commentator leaves a sour feeling in my memory banks, but nothing particularly distinct. Was it something racist? Was she overtly anti-Obama/pro-Hillary? I don't know if that's exactly it, since I basically flipped a coin to pick between those two (no Obama-bot here!).

So, when The Other Half said I had to eulogize Ferraro here on the blog, I agreed. . .she has a notable position in history. But I can't claim to have any special  emotional ties. RIP, Gerry. Sorry I didn't pay more attention.


First woman on US national ticket, Geraldine Ferraro, dead at 75

Geraldine Ferraro, who became the first woman on a US major-party national ticket as the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee, died Saturday in Boston after a long battle with cancer. . .
Read more at: Monsters & Critics

Friday, March 25, 2011

Arizona, Rosie's Den, The Hoover Dam Bypass and the Lottery

The original journey to Arizona (now slightly different with the bypass)
If Greenlee Gazette abruptly ends after today, and then starts up in a few weeks as a power-house Huffington Post-like web presence, then you'll know that my venture today was successful! After checking the PowerBall and Mega Millions tickets The Other Half got while on the road the other day, I noticed that they are both up in stratospheric jackpots. And though Las Vegas and Nevada do not have a lottery, there's a place in California (33 miles away) and one in Arizona (53 miles away) that sell one or both types of tickets. Since Rosie's Den in Arizona has both types, and since I've never driven over the new Matt O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge, I elected to go there.

First, I've got to say that the new Hoover Dam bypass is awesome. If you've ever dared to cross the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, you know that it is ten kinds of torture. The endless switchback road with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and the stupid little security checkpoint would have Mother Theresa cursing like a sailor. Now that they've built the bypass and opened the bridge, the trip is easy-breezy. Sure, you still have to trudge through Boulder City (surely they didn't want to be left out), and go past the Hacienda at 35 mph, but other than that? Smooth sailing. I made the round trip--including a stop for gas--in under two hours. How's that for impressive?

Image from Wikipedia
Rosie's Den is a quaint little watering hole, with a bar and restaurant, with typical roadside trinkets and snacks. They've got pool tables, and sodas, and of course the lottery station. The lady who was running it today, and on my last visit, could have come out of central casting. She was friendly, a little flirty, a little brassy. There was no line to wait in. Everything about the trip was smooth as silk. The same cannot be said about the little lottery barn thingy they have at Primm on the Nevada/California border. There, you'll have to wait in a queue of dozens, maybe a hundred people.

The new bridge looks spectacular from the dam, as I noticed last time I was there. But driving on the bypass, it comes up on you with no fanfare, and you can't even see the dam. It's just part of the new, smooth bypass road. If you weren't paying attention, you'd miss it altogether. Still, it's an amazing achievement, and a dramatic difference for anyone trying to travel from one state to the other. Good job, guys.

So, I wait breathlessly for the new version of the American Dream. It's kind of sad that instead of becoming safely ensconced in middle class, most of us just hope that one day we'll strike it rich. But I am hoping! My three scratch-offs yielded nothing. But I'm crossing my fingers for the big enchilada. I promise to be very, very generous should the fates be the same.

Irony Alert: Anti-abortion Coat Hanger

It took me a second to find the very dark ironic humor in this one. Just think about it for a second.

Found at: Joe.My.God.

FOX "News" Anchor Brett Baier on The Daily Show

The surprisingly zaftig looking Brett Baier was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Thursday night. Stewart once again deftly handled the interview, prodding and poking in just the right places over the extreme bias of FOX News. And just as predictibly, Baier lamely dodged and deflected, and tried to draw a distinction between the FOX hard news and commentary programming.

The truth is much more blurry. While Baier's and Shepard Smith's programs may be the closest things FOX has to balanced news, they themselves push the FOX "News" right-wing agenda. The selection of stories, the points to punch up, the "experts" they interview, and the use of Frank Luntzian language (not to mention the in-house advertising during the shows) make the bias very clear.  For the best demonstration of this bias, watch America Live with Megyn Kelly, another allegedly "hard news" program. Inside of five minutes of America Live, you can point to at least three or four things that practically SHOUT their bias.

My question to Baier would echo Stewart when he said that he wasn't alone in his opinon. FOX "News" does not have a fringey reputation as a mouthpiece for the right. They've got a BOLD FACED ALL CAPS ITALIC reputation as such, and their only defenders are their employees and hard-right wingers.

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FOX Renews Fringe for 4th Season!

Image from source, TVSquad
At the risk of invoking The Greenlee Curse (not the one where people die, the one where shows get cancelled), I'm thrilled to report that FOX TV's Fringe has been renewed for a fourth season! And shoot, The Greenlee Curse can't be blamed for a show not making it after season four (I probably shouldn't have included the five-season Medium I guess). Anyway, I encourage anybody who was ever a fan of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Eureka, or just about any quirky sci-fi/fantasy series to start watching Fringe already! You can catch up on Hulu or Netflix or DVD or something. . .just do it, already. You won't be sorry.

And oh yeah, woooooooo-hoooooooo!!!!


'Fringe' Gets Renewed for a Fourth Season

Fox's 'Fringe' may be on the fringe of Friday night viewing, but that hasn't stopped the network from renewing the series for a fourth season -- and with a vote-of-confidence order of 22 episodes. . .
Read more at: TV Squad

Hey Look, It's Keith Olbermann with a Special Comment

Special Comment Libya, Obama and the Five Second Rule FOK News Channel

Sean Hannity Joins the Ranks of the Birthers

Sean's an idiot, so it isn't surprising that he'd go in for one of the easiest to debunk (and hardest to believe) conspiracy theories going: the birthers. If you're blissfully unaware, birthers are people who believe all or part of a conspiracy theory that has Barack Obama's mom and/or dad concocting a complicated scheme to make it appear in 1961 that Obama was born in Hawaii, when he really wasn't. Somehow, presenting his "long form" birth certificate, not the shorter certificate of live birth will prove that Obama was really born in Kenya, Indonesia, Canada, on an airplane, or paddling around in a boat in the Pacific Ocean (I'm not kidding).

As the conspiracy got loopier, some of its adherants broke away from it, and now claim that all of that is irrelevant. They say that since Barack Obama Sr. was born in a different country, Jr. is ipso facto not a natural born citizen. Which is preposterous, and would have ruled out other previous presidents as well.

If you want to find a debunking of every goofy birther theory, check out Obama Conspiracy Theories.  They're all disproven there. Every. Last. One of them. But even if they weren't, please birthers, explain to me why Mrs. Obama would go to such an effort to fake his birthplace in 1961? Did a fortune teller tell her that one day he'd be president? Because no way she ever guessed that herself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Look Out, Oprah: The Glenn Beck Channel May be Coming!

Image from NY Times
Oh, the mind wobbles, doesn't it? Glenn Beck taking over a cable channel? 24-hours of Beck? Well, MTV isn't doing anything worthwhile. SyFy seems to have lost any identity it had, and VH1 has been so many things, it's probably due for another. I'd like to come up with a clever name for it, something so wacky it could never really happen. But I just can't conjure up something stranger than a 24-hour Glenn Beck Channel.


Glenn Beck Contemplates Starting Own Channel

The possibility that Glenn Beck will exit the Fox News Channel at the end of the year has prompted a big question in media circles: if he leaves, how will he bring his considerable audience with him? . . .

Read more at: New York Times

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor Dead at 79

Image from source, LA Times
By now, this is no longer breaking news of course, but I had to mention it for a couple of reasons. First, Elizabeth Taylor is one of the last of the golden age of Hollywood, at least of the big stars (Debbie Reynolds is still kicking, and probably very happy about that).  Second, for all of the good things that happened to her, Taylor had a hell of a rocky ride of it, with more health problems than most families endure. But for me, a big part of her lasting legacy will be the work she did on behalf of people living with AIDS.

Thanks to her great friendship with Rock Hudson (and undoubtedly others), she was outspoken about the disease at a time when few were. She started The American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), and spoke before Congress. So, Taylor leaves behind a tremendous legacy, and not just beautiful pictures and good (and bad) movies. RIP, Liz.


Elizabeth Taylor, legendary actress, dies at 79

Elizabeth Taylor, star of stage and screen who married multiple times, became a successful businesswoman and helped to pioneer the fight against AIDS, dies of congestive heart failure. . .
Read more at: Los Angeles Times

On a side note, we can add one more to the "Greenlee Curse." There have been several celebrities, all--at the time--off the radar, who have died the day after I had a conversation with someone about them. Starting with Elvis, and on to Isabel Sanford, Nell Carter, Bea Arthur, Dan Fogelberg (an odd bunch to be sure), along with others, I've been astonished to say after each one, "I was just talking about them." I need to be more careful.

Three States Cutting Taxes For Rich, Raising Them on Middle Class

Image from ThinkProgress
How long is this going to go on before people really start to notice? Can they continue to snow enough people with political advertising, think tanks, FOX "News", talk radio, Frank Luntz and the rest, indefinitely? Yes, I know that the arguments can have some semi-good points. I mean, yeah, them teachers is getting too many benefits and livin' high on the hog and shit! But damn it, folks. Have you noticed that every tax break either includes or is exclusively for rich people and corporations? Have you noticed that all the cutting, the sacrificing, the pain is being born by the poor, the old, the sick and the working class?

Even the tea partiers were out there complaining about the bailouts (though they conflate several issues, and pin it all on President Obama, even though President Bush had a lot to do with them). We the taxpayers bailed out Wall Street and the banks, right? And now, the rich guys are flush with cash. Oil companies continue to make more billions in profits than any other corporations in the history of humans. So, what is the solution? Tax breaks for corporations, and benefit cuts for working people, poor people, the elderly and infirm.

We could do well as a society to learn to come together for a common cause, sacrificing for the common good. The "greatest generation" did it during World War II, everybody did it, even the rich and corporations. But now, "sacrifice" is to be born only by those who can least afford it.


REPORT: Three States Propose Massive Tax Cuts For Millionaires, Tax Hikes for Middle Class

Last week, ThinkProgress documented conservative efforts in twelve states to shift the tax burden onto the middle class even while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. In three states, conservatives are going even further, proposing massive estate tax cuts for millionaires even as income inequality is at its worse since the 1920s. . .
Read more at: Think Progress

Oh My GOD: Congress Wastes Time on "In God We Trust"

I'm well known to be an agnostic (almost atheist), but I'm usually not to loud about it. While I don't think that "One nation under God" should be in the pledge of allegiance, and I don't think "In God We Trust" should be the national motto, I don't make much of a stink about it. Mostly because even though you must go through mental contortions to believe they are Constitutional, they are also loved as dearly by some people as guns are by the NRA. It's one of those areas where I think it's much easier to leave well enough alone.

But when people start getting nuts about it, then I start to get irritated. It's like that idiot judge who wanted the massive ten commandments sculpture at the courthouse. Buddy, there's no way it's constitutional. None of this is. And we mostly would go along, but you guys have to keep making spectacles of yourselves! Cut it out!

CNN Reporter Rips FOX "News" for Bogus "Human Shield" Comments

Image from source, Huffington Post
Ohhh, FOX "News". . .can't you ever tell the truth?


CNN's Nic Robertson Tears Into Fox News For Saying Libyans Used Him As Human Shield

A senior reporter for CNN slammed Fox News for suggesting that he and other reporters who were given a tour of Muammar Gaddafi's compound in Libya were used as human shields by the Libyan government. . .

Read more (with video) at: Huffington Post

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pussies Are Ruining the World

Yes, I'll cop to it. I'm not super duper into blogging at this very moment. But this is a combo of a funny headline, kind of paranoid, and just kinda blogworthy. Plus, I love double entendres. So, there you go.

The Cat Is An Invasive Species

According to the authors of a first of its kind study on bird mortality, the American housecat is a "non-native, invasive species" responsible for the deaths of
500 million North American birds annually. . .
Read more at: Joe.My.God.

CBS Wants Charlie Sheen Back. Who's Winning Now?

Duh. Winning. Image from TV Squad
I'm still a bit vexed by the big news stories of the day. I'll likely still talk about Libya, Japan and the protests against GOP governors, but I just don't feel like it right now. And hey, this isn't a newspaper. I'm not pretending to have some sort of journalistic code. If there's news about Charlie Sheen, it doesn't matter if I talk about it. This is a blog, not the New York Times, right? So, when the buzz is that CBS wants to woo Sheen back to their network, I don't feel out of my depth to say something about it!

Charlie Sheen gave a whole new meaning to "scorched earth" in his trashing of just about everything to do with Two and a Half Men but himself. He napalmed Chuck Lorre, the creator of the show. He insulted Jon Cryer, his costar. He lambasted the show's wardrobe person by dissing his character's bowling shirts. He even trashed his own audience, pretty much saying that viewers would lap up anything he put in a bowl on the floor for them.

Charlie Sheen is also either a) crazy, b) drugged or c) both. And don't forget that his charming rogue act was great on a late 30s-early 40s "aging well" handsome man. But Charlie has--frankly--hit a wall. He's moved from sexy older guy to old guy. He looks gaunt and drawn. He's getting that ropey neck thing. He's got crazy eyes to rival Michele Bachmann. So even if all concerned managed to iron over the rough spots, I don't think they'll be ironing over Charlie's face. 

So with him, they've got a year or two left at best before it's all just looking sad. And without him, they've likely got. . .a year or two left at best before it's all just looking sad. They could pull a That '70s Show, and squeeze out a lackluster final season. They could do a Spin City (ironically, also with Sheen), and manage two more years. But is there any precedent for an eight-year-old sitcom to transform itself, and stay on the air years after a big cast change? How long can Alan Harper live on a fold-out sofa, regardless of who the costar is?


CBS Wants Charlie Sheen Back on 'Two and a Half Men' ... If He Makes Nice

If the prospect of 'Two and a Half Men' without Charlie Sheen seemed like a weird idea to you, then be assured that the folks at CBS were likely tying their stomachs in knots thinking about the same thing. . .

Read more at: TV Squad

Monday, March 21, 2011

Right Wing World: FOX "News" Attacks Obama on Brazil Trip, Other Crap

By now, it is obvious that it doesn't matter what President Barack Obama does or says (or doesn't say or do) that will garner a positive response from a big chunk of right-wing world. It's also clear that talk radio and FOX "News" work in tandem to set the narrative, and let all their followers know the storyline: Obama's dithering. He's too slow to act. He's not a leader. He didn't ask Congress! He jumped in without permission! Often this leads to contradictory storylines, sometimes from the same talking head. But it doesn't matter. Cognitive dissonance is par for the course.

But it just sounds kind of desperate when they start whining about the first lady, the kids, the extended family. The very notion that if the President is in South America, he's just tra-la-la on vacation, and not doing anything else. Obama's itinerary is probably busier on any given day than most of us tackle in a very busy month. It is evident that Obama has finally clued in to the notion that the right is going to hate him--and gin up faux controversies--no matter what, and isn't caring as much anymore. Good for him.

The vaguely creepy Chris Wallace, host of
FOX "News" Sunday, Image from Media Matters

Fox Attacks Obama's Brazil Trip As A "Vacation" Then Refuses To Air His Speech

Today, President Obama spoke in Brazil, highlighting that country's rising economic power, growing middle class, and transition from military dictatorship to thriving democracy. The speech capped off a visit meant to promote the United States' economic relationship with Brazil and the entire South American region, with the stated purpose of encouraging job growth. . .
Read more at: Media Matters

Secretive Group Behind States' Anti-Union Laws

Image from Zazzle
Wow. Remember how Republicans snickered at Hillary Clinton when she said that there was a "vast right-wing conspiracy?" Maybe they were laughing because they knew that she was right, but that nobody would believe her. The article excerpted below (which also excerpts from other sources) is must reading, if you've been following the anti-union, pro-business actions of the new batch of GOP state governors across the country.  Sure, you've heard FOX "News" and Rush Limbaugh spinning the "official" story about how these measures are needed to shore up state budgets. But read on, and tell me how that squares with this melding of the state and the corporate combining efforts in secret.


What's the source of these anti-union measures? Meet ALEC, a right-wing group that writes state laws for Republicans

If it seems that all of this state-by-state union-stripping legislation is coordinated ... that's because it is coordinated. Also pre-written, gift-wrapped and hand-delivered.

Meet ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national right-wing group that writes "model" legislation for its members. Who are it's members? Republican state legislators and private organizations (think ExxonMobil). . .

Read more at: AmericaBlog

Worth Another Look: Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God

Every once in a while, I run across one of my older posts, and feel the urge to rerun it. After all, my daily audience sees a lot of turnover, and as NBC used to say, "if you haven't seen it, it's new to you!" Plus, I really, really loved Julia Sweeney's characters, her blog, and her outlook on life.

[Original post, with some edits]

I've said on the blog before that I'm not religious. In fact, I can be downright anti-religious to a point.  I consider myself agnostic, though in truth I suppose I'm closer to an atheist. The problem for me has always been that while I don't believe in any deity, or that any religion is real, I can't know--any more than a religious person can know--that I'm absolutely right, and everyone else is wrong.

So, I label myself agnostic. But firmly agnostic. I'm not on the fence, just unable to decide what I really believe. I came to this place by way of bible study, which isn't as odd as it sounds. Many atheists and agnostics started on their path by going on a religious journey, or just learning more about their own religion.

No one has done a better job dramatizing their own path to atheism than Julia Sweeney, former star of Saturday Night Live.  Her one-woman show, Letting Go of God chronicles her path as a life-long, by rote Catholic, to a doubter, and through a quest to find out exactly what God is.  Ironically, her quest was spurred by a couple of Mormon missionaries out to share their "message from God."  They arrived at her doorstep at a critical time of soul searching, which is also how they probably are able to actually convert people to Mormonism.

For Julia--who wanted desperately to help them with their impossible to believe sales pitch--their visit instead sent her on a journey that eventually leads to her rejection of God and religion.  Along the way, Julia is both hilarious and heart breaking. She takes religious debate to a whole new level, by presenting a question, accepting a religious answer, then turning the answer over and examining it for a better answer. Or no answer.

One of my favorite sections of her piece involved the resolute pronouncement by a religious person that the human eye is so complex, it could not have been evolved. After all half and eye is of no use.  And then she started learning about the eye, and found out that half an eye is advantageous. About half as much. . . Great stuff.  The whole thing is so thoughtful, and so well presented, it is difficult to see how it could be refuted.

While I came to the same conclusions Julia has, I can't honestly say that my examination was as thorough, or my quest as long. Perhaps my vague Christian upbringing made my trip shorter, and her entrenched Catholicism made hers longer. But her journey is highly educational, and if nothing else explains disbelief to those who don't understand it.

Highly recommended

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oh, Heck. Rep. Joe Heck Supports DOMA. Surprise!

"Does my hair look like a sister wife's?"
No! Not at all!
The other day, encouraged by a friend who is half of a same-sex marriage (as am I), I signed an online petition against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The act has been ruled unconstitutional in part by at least one court, and the Obama Administration agreed, and has decided not to defend the law in court.  Online petitions are literally the least we can do, of course, but this one had the added benefit of sending letters--automatically--to each of our individual Congressmen. Unfortunately, my Congressman is Joe Heck.

In an extreme case of fickle, uninformed and/or abstaining voters, freshman Congresswoman Dina Titus was elected and unelected in the space of two years. I voted for Titus, but have no relative opinion of her. I didn't have time to form one! But I've never been a fan of Heck, who was a perennial candidate for something here in the Las Vegas Valley for many years. Anyway, Heck did do me the courtesy of responding to my letter, even if it was from a nondescript address ( with an equally vague subject line ("Responding to your message"). What is correspondence coming to in this country?

Anyway, here are excerpts from his letter, with my responses bolded in brackets:

Dear Mr. Greenlee,

Thank you for contacting me to share your opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I understand your concerns, and appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this important issue.

As you may know, Dear Mr. Greenlee, [I know, Dear Mr. Heck] the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated their belief that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and as a result, will not defend the law against a legal challenge. DOMA was originally signed into law by President Clinton (P.L. 104-199) [Republicans cannot resist pointing out that Bill Clinton signed this law. They don't cite Clinton for much else, ever, and they don't point out that he now regrets having signed it.] and defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. [Among other things, including preventing the exercise of the Constitution's full faith and credit clause.] The decision by this Administration to abandon the law oversteps presidential authority. [No, it doesn't. Presidents have done this before, notably St. Ronnie Reagan.] The separation of powers clearly outlined by our Constitution gives only the Supreme Court the power to interpret the law - not the President. [And he's not interpreting the law, he's declining to DEFEND it.] Additionally, as the institution of marriage is not a right defined in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, the issue of marriage falls to the people of the states to decide, and the people of Nevada amended the state constitution to provide that definition. [In a laughably transparent campaign to "protect the sanctity of marriage." In NEVADA, home of the quickie divorce and the drive-up window, Elvis impersonator wedding.] Unless the Supreme Court decides that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, it is the responsibility of the Administration to uphold [Refusing to defend in court is not the same thing as enforcement.] the law of the land.

While I agree with President Obama when he says that marriage is between a man and a woman, [Another thing Republicans never fail to point out. Obama's unfortunate, politically expedient stance on marriage is the ONLY thing about the man Heck would likely ever cite. And Obama himself is AGAINST DOMA, and has said his opinion on same-sex marriage is "evolving."] his decision to not defend the law and the voice of the people is disappointing. Speaker of the House John [Boner] Boehner has asked that the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group meet to determine how to uphold its duty and protect the will of the states, and I support these efforts. [Kinda figured.] Please know that I understand your concerns and will follow this matter closely as it moves forward [I'm sure you will. And that you'll continue to tithe, to help support the effort].

For additional information, please visit my website, From this site you can access statements about current events or pending legislation, and receive detailed information about the many services that I am privileged to provide for Nevadans [Blah, blah, blah.].

Again, I appreciate your thoughts [No, you don't] and it is an honor to serve you in Congress [Bite me]. Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me [Oh, I won't].

Sincerely [REALLY?],

DR. JOE [Oh my heck] HECK
Member of Congress

[Color me unimpressed, and unsurprised.]

Blast from the Past: Diet Sodas of the 70s, 80s & 90s

Do you ever listen to a gasbag like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, and ask yourself, "Just who IS this guy, and why is he qualified to have this opinion?" Yeah me too. Which is why I haven't sounded off too much about the big stories of the past few weeks. Wisconsin and the protests against GOP overreach, sure, I don't think I'm stepping out of my zone so much for that. But Egypt? Libya? Earthquakes? Tsunamis? Nuclear freaking meltdown? I can comment on all of them, but I'm having trouble sounding off, you know?

So, it's good that it's time for Blast from the Past, a weekly feature that is pure frivolity, with a dash of nostalgia. And I was inspired by my previous post on diet sodas. You can't get more frivolous--or onto a topic I know more about--than that! Oh, I've done a Blast from the Past on the subject of sodas before. But I promise to find some I haven't used before.

#1 Diet Mountain Dew - My favorite diet soda was introduced in the 80s, and just in time for my metabolism to implode. For some reason, Mountain Dew (original AND diet) were considered EXTREME!!! Whatever, it just tastes good.

#2 Diet Shasta - Somewhere between a store brand and the generic white can with black letters that says "soda," was this low-rent brand. When you bought it, you hid it in a cozy or poured it and threw away the can.

#3 Diet Sprite - This 80s commercial, starring a pre-famous Sharon Stone shows the leading diet soda that WASN'T a cola. Before Diet Dew, there wasn't much else, except the rarely found Fresca. Speaking of which. . .

#4 Fresca - There aren't many Fresca commercials to find, and there wasn't much Fresca to find either, for a lot of years. It was as rare as TaB. And that brings us to. . .

#5 TaB - TaB's got sass! And Lyle from Blazing Saddles! This isn't my favorite TaB commercial, but I've used the other one before, so. . .

#6 Diet Slice - Yeah, "We Got the Juice!" might not be the best slogan when using a bunch of baseball players. But what did they know, it was the 80s!

#7 TaB again - What the hell, I love this jingle.

Happy Monday!

So, It Looks Like They Screwed Up Wonder Woman

Source: TVGuide
As I've documented here many times, I'm a big fan of DC Comics from way back, and I've been frustrated with Warner Brothers' (the owner of DC) relative inability to do anything decent with most of their super heroes and other comic book properties. Sure they've struck gold with the rebooted Batman/Dark Knight franchise, and pleased a few people (like me) with Superman Returns. But with rare exceptions, they can't seem to get their shit together.

Take Wonder Woman for example. She's the most famous super heroine, and third or fourth most well known super hero period. But outside of some animated adventures (as part of a team), or the campy 70s drama series with Lynda Carter, they've done nothing with her of note. For many years, they've been working on a movie treatment, and basically gotten nowhere. And now, finally, she's being brought back, again on television.  The initial reports sounded dicey at best (Not only will Palicki play the star-spangled crimefighter, who's now based in L.A., but she'll also play her alter-ego, billionaire CEO Diana Themyscira and Diana's mousy assistant Diana Prince.), but the first "reveal" of the new Wonder Woman costume has me rolling my eyes even harder.

The new costume is a sort of melding of the current umpteenth incarnation of the comic book Wonder Woman, and her more traditional, well known one. You know, the bustier and panties. Look, I get that Wondy's original garb is potentially a little silly for a realistic depiction, though Lynda Carter did a pretty credible job. The original show's weakness was the time period in which it was set, and the style of tv dramas at the time. But they got  it mostly right. Move that same setup into the present day, with the modern, more complex storytelling of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer or TrueBlood, and you'd really have something. This new, David Kelly take? I do not have high hopes.

Wonder Woman First Look of Adrianne Palicki in Costume
Anyone who doubted that Friday Night Lights star Adrianne Palicki could fill Wonder Woman's bustier and boots can now judge for themselves. . .

Read more at: TV Guide

Diet Soda Taste Test: Citrus Blast, Mountain Dew Supernova & Voltage

I've been a big soda pop (back in Ohio, just "pop") drinker since I have been old enough to buy it. Somewhere in the late 80s, I had to switch to diet soda (damn that metabolism!). This was a little distressing, because I mostly hated artificial sweetener, and particularly diet colas. Luckily for me, the soda companies began branching out from colas and lemon/limes with their diet versions about the time my metabolism crashed. It didn't hurt that NutraSweet and other artificial sweeteners began their debut around about the same time.

I started my love affair with Diet Mountain Dew, and tried many and varied diet sodas along the way. Eventually, I could even tolerate Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, Tab and the many other cola varieties. Of them all, the only ones I outright avoid are the diet sodas with faux vanilla flavoring. Invariably, I find them nearly undrinkable. Most of the rest make their way into my regular rotation of diet drinks. I'm one of the lucky ones who doesn't care if it is Coke, Pepsi or 7-Up/Dr. Pepper brands that are on sale. 

But I do get restless. When Pepsi's Mountain Dew came out with Diet Code Red, I was very pleased. Not only was it something new, I also really liked it. But then I watched as they released flavor after tantalizing flavor of the sugary (corn syrupy?) Dews, with no diet version. I was very jealous of the full-calorie soda drinkers, cavities and pot bellies or not. But I find full-calorie Mountain Dew varieties insufferably sweet anyway.  In the mean time, Coke's Fresca came out with some varieties like peach and cherry. Pepsi started making Diet Orange Crush again. Coke made Diet Squirt. Somebody or other came out with Diet Sun Drop. All worthy additions.

But today at Von's, I spied three new diet sodas, all from Pepsi (and all on sale). I bought them all, and decided to do a taste test. Each of the sodas was poured over ice, and allowed to sit in the glass for only a few minutes. I ate a piece of cheddar cheese before each, so that I'd start at the same relative state. Below are my findings.

Diet Citrus Blast: This soda is apparently Pepsi's attempt to rival Fresca or Squirt in the citrus/grapefruit soda realm. It's a worthy entry, certainly better than store brands of grapefruit soda. It has slightly more bite than Fresca, but less overt fizziness than Squirt. There is no discernible "diet" aftertaste, and it is quite quenching. It doesn't set itself apart, and won't be a "top 5" favorite, but it's good.

Diet Mountain Dew Supernova: Supernova is reddish purple, and is billed as a "strawberry/melon" flavored soda. It's very sweet, if a bit less so than the Code Red version of Mountain Dew. I could taste the strawberry. . .ish. Any "melon" flavor would be of the Jolly Rancher faux watermelon variety. It actually reminded me of the flavors you might find in a melted freezer pop. . .which brings me to. . .

Diet Mountain Dew Voltage: Voltage--which might get them into trouble because of Coca-Cola's sub-par Volt beverage (nope, I was confused, that's Vault soda)--is light blue in color. It is billed as a raspberry/citrus flavor (blue raspberries?). While the drink is quenching, it has an indistinct, vague flavor problem. Again, it reminds me of the freeze pop example, with a hard to pinpoint "fruit" flavor. It's a fruit, but what's the fruit?

Supernova Voltage Blast "Suicide": Since I had three cans of soda opened, I finished them off as a "suicide" mixture of all three. You know what? It only suffers in comparison to Citrus Blast. As a combination, it is still a mixture of indistinct flavors.

None of the sodas is bad. In fact, should they stick around, I'll probably continue to buy them if they're on sale, if for no other reason than to give me options when I want a soda. Of the three, only Diet Citrus Blast will make it into regular rotation. But even it suffers from the Pepsi Syndrome: sodas named so generically, they could be store brands (see: Sierra Mist, Slice, Storm, Teem). 

Anyway, log story short, enjoy them while they last, I doubt that the Dew varieties will last long, and I wouldn't get attached to the generically named Citrus Blast either. But any or all of them would mix just fine with vodka. But then again, what doesn't?

The best diet drinks for me are in this order:

- Diet Mountain Dew (and if in a pinch, most store brand version like Kroger's Diet Citrus Drop)
- Diet Mountain Dew Code Red
- Diet Orange Crush (and Diet Orange Sunkist, though it has caffeine)
- Coke Zero (tastes very much like Coca-Cola Classic)
- Fresca (original and peach)
- These new Mountain Dews will slot right here in the middle, for novelty value alone
- Tab
- Diet Coke with Lime (or slightly less so, Diet Pepsi Lime)
- Lemon/Limes, like 7-Up, Sprite Zero (pretty good), Diet Sierra Mist (several varieties)
- Assorted oddballs like Diet Rite White Grape, Tangerine, Raspberry, etc.
- Assorted flavors like diet root beers, diet ginger ales, diet cream sodas, many brands
- The rest of the diet colas, regular or with cherry round up the lower end of my scale
- Just say "no" to any variety with vanilla
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