Leaving Las Vegas; On Hiatus

Greenlee Gazette is on hiatus until the first week of February. New stories may appear, but I'll be mostly offline. Please come back and see me after I make the transition!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mitt Romney: "Hang" Obama? Oops!


". . .what I meant to say was 'LYNCH,' no, wait. . ."
Image from source, Huffington Post
 Oh, poor Mittens! Only Sally Kern can get away with that sort of "slip."

[Excerpt]

Mitt Romney 'Hang' Obama Gaffe Prompts Attempt To Clarify Remarks
Mitt Romney's camp is attempting to do damage control after the presidential aspirant made controversial remarks in criticizing President Barack Obama during a stop in New Hampshire on Friday night. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Over Time with Bill Maher, April 29, 2011

With Laura Flanders, John Waters, Mark McKinnen (all good) and Andrew Breitbart (bad).

Gas Prices & Oil Profits: More Wealth Redistribution in the Wrong Direction

Image from AOL/HuffPo
Boy, remember when Barack Obama said something about spreading the wealth around, while on the 2008 campaign trail? It got conservatives all riled up, didn't it? Why, that's communism! It's un-American! So, why have all of the wealth redistribution schemes that take from ordinary Americans, and give it to the rich okay? Why do they keep taking pensions, and union benefits, and talk about killing Medicare and privatizing Social Security, while simultaneously giving tax breaks and benefits to big corporations and to the rich? And why do oil companies get to keep raking in multi-billions in profits (not just gross, but net) while they are jacking up the price for us peons? Clearly, it is not necessary for them to raise it as much as they have, and remain profitable. If that were true, profits would have stayed in the lower billions they were already making. I know it's a fine line to walk in America, talking about windfall taxes, or price caps. But this is--even a rock-ribbed Republican must admit--outrageous.

[Excerpt]

Your Pain, Their Gain: How High Gas Prices Impoverish The Many While Enriching The Few



The next time you're gritting your teeth as you fill your tank with $4 gas, here's something to consider: Your pain is their gain. . .
 
Read more at: AOL/Huffington Post

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sally Kern's Most Outrageously Offensive Statements

Sally Kern, or (hopefully), Rachel Dratch doing an
offensive bigot character. From source, BuzzFlash
Right now, the NAACP is trying to get Representative Sally Kern (R-Ok.) to resign for making outrageous statements about black people and women. Kern thinks both categories of people don't work hard enough, and probably should have kept that little butt nugget of information to herself, whether she thinks it or not. Since she said it (and believe me, I put it nicer words than she did), she's had a lot of backlash, understandably. And she's offered up a lame "oopsie, that's not what I think" half-assed apology of sorts. According to Sally, it came out wrong, and she's not really a sexist bigot. Funny, considering how often she says horrible things.

Below are examples of this woman's blinding nastiness (though whoever collected the statements seems to be allergic to apostrophes).

[Excerpt]

22 INSANE Things Representative Sally Kern Has Said

A collection of quotes from the worst, most horrible, bigoted woman in the US government. Sally Kern makes Sarah Palin look like a smart, sane lady. If you want, you can email Sally at sallykern@okhouse.gov. BE CIVIL, this woman is crazy. . .

#2 - “Not everybodys lifestyle is equal, just like not all religions are equal, gays are an even bigger threat than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat. . .”

Read them all at: BuzzFeed

What Happens in Vegas: Donald Trump Drops F-Bombs

And the crowd. . .eats it up? This wasn't his only one either. I tell ya, my prediction that Donald Trump's media whoring would peter out may have been premature. But the big mucky-mucks in GOPistan must be scheming to get this colossal douche off the stage. He is without redeeming qualities. You know how they say, "he's classy with a 'k'"? The Donald doesn't even have that much class.

Cartoonists Blast Trump and the Birthers

As any misguided serious treatment of birthers quickly evaporates (after far to long), the whole ridiculous spectacle will soon be another strange entry in our increasingly strange political history. But before it peters out completely, be sure to catch some of the better cartoons about it. You'll be glad you did!

For more, see source: Democratic Underground

Conspiracy Corner: After "Birther" or Why Conspiracy Theories Don't Die

Ever get sucked in by a conspiracy theory? I did. For a while there--at or near the beginning of it--I was intrigued with the 9/11 Truth or "truthers." I didn't want to be, mind you. I found the idea that the Bush Administration staged 9/11, or even just let it happen, to be horrifying. As much as I detested that group of people, I didn't want to believe they were capable of acts so evil. But I started to, a little. I remain unconvinced that we have the complete picture of what happened, and that elements of the official story are either incomplete or incorrect. But it didn't take long for the truther movement to seem a little more nutty than true.

What pushed me out were the rationalizations made for story elements that didn't fit the narrative. And conclusions drawn that seemed crazy. Or outlandish behaviors by truthers trying to get their "message" out. Or, the amazing amount of people that would have had to be involved in the conspiracy. And the motives required to pull off such a scheme when there would be easier ways to do it. Or countless other things. But they had me for a little while.

So, there is no mystery--at least for me--as to why conspiracy theories get rolling. At first, it feels like this intensely interesting, secret story. One after another, you discover new "facts," and they are presented in such a way that they come together like a puzzle. When the story (in my case, 9/11) feels like it has holes in it, those puzzle pieces can seem to fit. . .maybe you have to trim it or hammer it into place, but maybe. . . But why is it that some will cling to a story, even after its seams start showing? And in the case of the Birthers, how is it that a story that was always flimsy, whose elements have all been shot down, is so durable?

On Thursday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, guest host Chris Hayes interviewed two men who have written about this sort of thing (along with things like climate change denialism), and there is a science to it. Turns out conspiratorial thinking is actually a pathology. Surprise!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Donald Trump's Media Whoring is Almost Over

Anyone with a combover this ridiculous shouldn't be asking about the
authenticity of anything. Image from Huffington Post.
My headline might be a bold prediction, since Donald Trump has been a media whore for 25 years, but you have to admit that he has amped it up over the last few weeks. But his big ticket "birther" wave has just crashed to shore, taking any (faux) legitimacy for their cause along with it. So, Trump tries to put a bow on it by taking "credit" for Barack Obama's release of the birth certificate. . .even though it proves that Trumps whole cause was a hoax, and his only big issue is a bust. And then, Trump took this covertly racist campaign to more overt areas when he implied that Obama shouldn't have been able to get into Harvard when his white buddies' kids couldn't. Or something.

Point is, without the birther canard, Trump's novelty is gone baby, gone.

[Excerpt]

Donald Trump: Obama Birth Certificate Should've Been Released Long Ago


Donald Trump reacted to the release of President Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate by the White House on Wednesday morning.


Speaking at a press conference in New Hampshire, the potential presidential contender said that he's "proud" in light of the disclosure. He added, however, "it is rather amazing that all of the sudden" the document surfaces. He suggested it should be inspected to ensure its authenticity. . .

Read more (with video) at: Huffington Post

Grady Warren: Racist Tea Bagger for President

Posted without comment. . .



Okay, he's a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot. And a racist homophobe. And he's nuts. And vile. That (almost) covers it. Done now.

Radio Host Nicole Sandler Jailed After Asking Rep. West (R-FL) a Question

The first couple of days this week, The Randi Rhodes Show was hosted by Nicole Sandler of RadioOrNot.com, since Randi was out sick. Sandler and Rhodes both live in Florida, and are constituents of Rep. Allen West (R-Batshit). Since West was having a town hall meeting, Sandler decided that she'd be missing an opportunity if she didn't go and ask a question. She even told listeners that she'd be the lady with the long brown hair, and a blue dress that might show a little too much cleavage.

I expected to hear a report back from her on Wednesday, whether she was hosting or not. I didn't expect that she'd end up spending the night in jail for having the temerity to ask a question of the loony Congressman. Nice.

[Excerpt]

About That Town Hall Meeting, Mr. West…




 
It figures, my blog is the last place you’ll read about my arrest and subsequent incarceration after attending Allen West’s so-called Town Hall Meeting last night.



Since I spent last night in jail and, thanks to the sickeningly awful people at the Broward County Jail was subjected to three hours in solitary confinement in a 7×10 room, and then maced. Nice, huh? . . .

Read more at: RadioOrNot.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birther Balloon Pops? Don't Count On It!


This is MY conversion of the PDF file
into JPG format. Click to embiggen.
(I hope it spawns whole new theories!)
 "Why doesn't he just release his birth certificate? If he did that, all of these questions would just go away." This refrain has echoed through the internets for the last two to three years, as a germ of a conspiracy theory took root. No doubt--no doubt--fueled by racism, the theory gathered more and more outlandish embellishments, all of which have been debunked (go here to see, if you don't believe me).


It was difficult getting through my work day knowing--after President Barack Obama released his "long form" birth certificate--that right-wing world was wobbling on its axis. I knew as sure as I draw breath that the release of the long form would not put an end to the issue. On the contrary, it has lit the conspiracy set on fire. They were of course convinced that it was a fraud. Immediately after the announcement, they were already saying "what took so long?" and, "he's had three years to whip up a forgery." And once they had a few minutes and hours to check out the actual document at Whitehouse.gov, they nitpicked and speculated like a 9/11 truther happening upon some new crumb of "evidence."

I'm a graphic artist, so I have a lot of hands-on experience with graphics files. So some of the speculation I see as mere ignorance, fueled by a desire to cling to the conspiracy theory. Some of it is flat-out stupidity being sold with unwarranted confidence. All of it is wrong. I can't prove that the document released today is the genuine article, but most likely, it is. The birther contention that Stanley Ann Dunham Obama travelled to Kenya late in her pregnancy--with no evidence--and then back again is ludicrous on its face when you factor in the logistics of the trip in 1961. The newly released document confirms known information (such as the hospital's name), provides a little new information (such as the doctor's name), and does nothing to further the birther cause. Unless you're a birther. To wit. . .

"Why were the signatures made so long after the printed date of birth?"

Editor: Because paperwork piles up in hospitals? My birth certificate is signed a few days late as well.

[There was a white copy of the BC released as well as the green one above] "The white one does not show the white marks around the lettering. They should have just released the non-green one as it does not show the forgery."

Ed.: Duh. White marks on white paper?

"Obama’s people have had over 3 years to FORGE 336 characters/certificate marks. Even for a D student you can do a bang up job if you have available a free 3 days per letter to work on forging a document. It needs to be scrutinized and verified. "

Ed.: You can tell he is serious, because he did the math!

"The letter “K” in box #16 doesn’t match the rest of them. Why no mailing address for the mother?"

Ed.: There was an old-timey machine called a "typewriter," and it sometimes typed out of line. Dummy. And the mailing address is missing because she didn't fill it in, obviously.

"[D]ocuments can be falsified...and I expect that the power of the POTUS has the available resources to make a damn good forgery."

Ed.: Well you've got us there. This one is unfalsifiable. Obviously, this guy would accept nothing as proof.

"Okay ... what’s up with the odd page curl and the fact that this document was placed on that green background?"

Ed.: Zero deductive reasoning skills here. The page is rolled because it is scanned/copied from a bound book. The paper is not distorted because the paper is new. It was a newly ordered copy. Duh.

"FAAAAAAKKKKKKKEEEEEE !!!!! Grab the PDF off the Drudge Report Zoom in to 300%. All the typing is surrounded by white space. All of the typing has white inside the letters. This is cut and paste. Do they really think we are that stupid."

Ed.: Yes, we think you're that stupid.

"This is at 600% In my limited experience with photoshop, that sure looks like a lot of dithering around the signatures (note none on the typed part in upper left corner)--IME that is a dead giveaway that somehow the image has been manipulated..."

Ed.: All along, the birthers have pointed to flaws in documents and pictures found on the internet as though they are high-resolution originals. They are not. They are digital scans, and manageable internet-ready resolutions. Compression (especially in JPEG files) causes pixelizations, distortions and other artifacts. "Limited experience with PhotoShop" is right.

"You're right. African is a nationality and not a race. Hawaii was a state then and the descriptor used would be "negro"."

Ed.: Possibly the dumbest contention of the lot. If BO Sr. put "African" for his race, then that is what he PUT. No mystery there.

"Rush mentioned that if you put the .pdf file in Adobe Illustrator, it would show multiple layers. I did; it does. That means they added the elements that show in the blue bounding boxes THEN FORGOT TO flatten the image." 

Ed.: This one sounds really good, unless you are familiar with the software involved. In some software, when you scan in a document, isolated bits of the image can be saved as separate elements. They are in effect "clipping masked" into their own graphic image. If you take the file into a program like Adobe Illustrator, you can separate out all of the individual objects. The fact that the elements here are so random (such as an "R" being on a different layer from the rest of the president's name) lends credence to this idea. It does not prove forgery. Even the element that is left behind--the green background with white voids where all of the copy was--lends credence. It also explains the white halos around the text when you zoom in. This is proof of nothing, except that they probably should have scanned it to a high-resolution, non-lossy TIFF file. But would that have stopped them from finding something?

"Also, the Certs are only one day apart, yet they show a completely different signature as Registrar, and obama's shows no signature for a Director of Health."

Ed.: Yes, because there is only one Registrar in all of Oahu.

Find much more here: Free Republic or Free Republic (and there are many, many, many more threads on the subject).


Of course, this is all academic. The real issue isn't the birth certificate, and never was. It was something on which to hang their dissatisfaction with the current resident of the White House. Feel free to speculate about what their real reason for that is, I've already given you mine. But the fact that they're picking these results apart and/or saying he's not legitimate regardless shows that the release of this document was pointless (to crazy people). It will settle the matter, one hopes, for the more sane among us.

Bill Maher Will Stop Saying "Tea Bagger" if They Stop Saying "Obamacare"

Whiiiiich means he doesn't have to stop saying tea bagger. Because they are never going to stop saying Obamacare. In fact, the Republican messaging machine is so good, even some liberals and Democrats use "Obamacare." I myself use the term "tea bagger" because I am still delighted that the tea partiers themselves saddled themselves with that term. They used it on purpose--and they knew what it meant--trying to insult Barack Obama and Democrats in general. And then it got turned around on them and stuck. That's karma man, they earned it. Plus, I still think it's funny. Oh, and also, conservatives still often insist on saying "Democrat Party" because it tests better politically for them. The proper "Democratic Party" sounds too. . .you know. . .democratic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Revenge of the Town Hall Meetings

What a difference a couple of years make, huh? Remember all of those raucus "town hall" meetings during the health care reform debate? Well, debate isn't the right word. They were big and showy and bombastic. They were intended to disrupt and prevent discussion, not stimulate it. And they were--of course--largely the work of big-moneyed conservative backers using the already riled up (for various reasons, real and imaginary) people to do their dirty work. Lots of people like me wondered, how are these mostly working class or lower people being convinced to do the legwork for corporations and rich people? Won't they ever see the light?

Guess what? They're starting to. Finally.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Science is Cool: Inside the Zombie Brain!

While I enjoy horror, slasher and moster movies of all types--good ones and bad ones--I have a personal favorite: zombies. I like 'em fast, I like 'em slow. I like the black and white starkness of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, I like the technicolor goriness of his original follow-up, Dawn of the Dead. I like the spoofy non-sequels like Return of the Living Dead, and the more straight-ahead parody Shaun of the Dead. I like the 28 Days/Weeks/Months not-really-zombies. And right now, I'm delighted that Americans with taste are discovering zombies with The Walking Dead on AMC.
Image from source, CNN
A zombie apocolypse is probably the least likely dystopian future. But what does science have to say about it? Fortunately, my friend Stupid Monkey Planet finds out stuff like that for me. Thanks, Monkey!

[Excerpt]

Inside zombie brains: Sci-fi teaches science

An airborne virus is rapidly turning people into zombies. Two-thirds of humanity has been wiped out. Scientists desperately look for a cure, even as their own brains deteriorate and the disease robs them of what we consider life. . .

Read more at: CNN

Yes, I'm Still Blogging. . .I's Jus' Bin Bizzy

Well, believe it or not, the birthday partying ensued through the weekend, and overflowed into Monday. We're six days past my birthday now, so this really has to end!  Tomorrow for sure, I'll have some stuff up.

The funny thing is, I've been drawing some decent visitor numbers of late. This happens every time, get a bit of a following, and then have life interrupt my blogging! Back soon everybody, I promise.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rick "Frothy Mixture" Santorum: Gays Have Enough Rights


Massengill ad or FOX "News" Sunday?

First, let me say that I've been away on a mini vacation for my birthday, which is why there has been a lack of posts over the last couple of days. Blast from the Past, my Sunday nostalgia feature, will return no later than next week. I did want to have something up fresh to start the week, so why not one of the (many) crazy potential GOP 2012 presidental candidates?

I missed my usual DVR zip-through of the Sunday political yak-fests today, but looky who was on the (very) least of the shows, FOX "News" Sunday with Chris Wallace. Why, it's Ricky "Frothy Mixture" Santorum. No, Rick probably has less of a chance than Donald Trump (or even Ivana Trump) of winning, so I shouldn't have a care about what he thinks. But at least the dude isn't trying to win over people he's trashed in the past. He's still trashing away! And he's still a douche. A frothily mixed douche.

[Excerpt]

Santorum: Gays already have enough rights



". . ."But you wouldn't give them any rights as a matter of public policy?" Wallace wondered.



"It depends what you mean by 'rights.' Are you talking benefits as far as rights? They have the right to be able to -- employment. I don't know what you mean by rights. What I'm talking about are privileges. Privileges of marriage, privileges of government benefits is a different thing than basic right to live their lives as they well should and can as free Americans," Santorum replied. . ."

Read more at: Raw Story

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Conservatives Mock Conservation on Earth Day

"Trashcan Man" from Stephen King's
The Stand, would probably be considered
a "conservative" today.
I'm posting this not because I have some sort of particular interest in Earth Day, but because I'm genuinely curious as to what "conservatism" actually means. If you were going to be literal about it, conservative ought to denote a person interested in conservation, right? Conserving things ought to be conservative. And if you get a little more esoteric about it, it could mean keeping things the way they are, or conserving them. Or, it could even mean "tighter" or "more restrictive." So how does this relate to wasting energy? Why do arch-conservatives think it might be funny to waste energy on Earth Day? Yeah, I know that "punching the hippie" can be fun, even for the left, but how does wasting energy = conservatism? Somebody help me out here.

[Excerpt]

Right-Wing Media Celebrate Earth Day By Mocking Conservation



In the lead-up to Earth Day, members of the right-wing media have ridiculed conservation efforts and downplayed the concerns of environmentalists. This is nothing new for conservative media figures who have, in the past, used the Earth Day to attack conservationists by urging audiences to cut down trees and increase their energy consumption. . .
 
Read more at: Media Matters

Texting While Driving: Stupid, or Spectacularly Stupid?

I just watched a 20/20 report on distracted driving, particularly texting while driving. It takes very little critical thinking to realize and acknowledge that any distraction from a task at hand takes your focus away. And anything can take that attention: the radio, the climate controls, adjusting mirrors, checking navigation, grabbing something from the glove box or back seat, yelling at your kids, trying to eat a hamburger, or get the lid off of your soda. You could get into a major accident doing any of those things, though we usually don't.

Holding a conversation with the passengers in your car is distracting. How many times have you missed an exit or a turn because you were engaged in a conversation with your passenger? Talking on the phone adds the complication of visualizing who you are talking to, along with the conversation. Not only that, you are either also holding the phone, or you have had to engage the hands-free controls. Up to this point, I can see the point of a person saying, "yeah, that's distracting, but I can handle it." Should there be a law against any of the above? Maybe, maybe not. If you do something distracting, and you are guilty of a moving violation because of it, should it contribute to your penalty? Maybe. It's a tricky question.

Image of just the first three of the
Facebook pages dedicated to texting
while driving. There are more.
But you know what isn't? Texting while driving. It is always wrong. There are no exemptions. Nobody has to text while driving. There are no "ticking time bomb" scenarios that apply to texting while driving. Nobody ever really needs to text anything at any given moment, let alone while driving. It's preposterous to argue otherwise. I realize that I'm a 45-year-old fuddy duddy, who only texts 0-5 texts on any given day. I've never texted a message, and anxiously awaited a reply. I find "text addiction" to be utterly unfathomable. I mean, do people get instant message addicted? Do they get email addicted? Because texting is just a version of those things.

On top of texting while driving being 100% unnecessary, it is also clearly, logically, inarguably dangerous. I don't care how fast you are with your thumbs, I don't care how little you have to look at the screen to accurately type, you are involved in a task completely removed from driving, while driving. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube, or play an X-Box game, or knit a sweater while driving. Completely stupid.

I've actually heard conservatives argue that passing laws against texting while driving is a "nanny state" mentality. Really? If there was suddenly a trend of people steering with their feet, and working the pedals with sticks, what would you think? Because as stupid as that is, arguing for it, is just about the same thing as arguing for texting while driving. Facebook has dozens (hundreds?) of pages dedicated to the subject. Fortunately, they mostly seem to be against the practice. But what does it say about our collective intelligence, that we need this much discussion for such a spectacularly stupid practice?

[Excerpt]

Distracted Driving: How Bad Are Texting or Cellphones Behind the Wheel?





There are probably few people who are surprised to hear cellphones and driving don't mix -- but do you believe it's true for you?



Maybe not. Some safety advocates say we are in a national state of denial about the dangers posed by using a cellphone behind the wheel. According to distracted-driving expert David Strayer, Ph.D., a cellphone might as well be a bottle of beer. . .

Read more at: ABC News

What Happens in Vegas: Paranoid, but Rich? Try 24/7 Private Vaults!

No matter where you live, there are likely really bad local TV commercials. Lawyers, car dealers, even the local TV channel news personalities appear in repetitive and annoying commercials, some times late at night, but surprisingly popping up in prime time. Some are clever, or so bad they're good. Here in Las Vegas, we have "The Chopper", a badly man-scaped car dealer. We've got Mr. Lee (and family) from Lee's Discount Liquor (a place I frequent. . .uh. . .frequently). We've got Chad Golightly, a lawyer who is tragically bad on camera, but they keep trying to make him presentable. And so many more.

But tonight, I was alarmed to have a little old man who looks like a demented Ross Perot barking at me about vaults and privacy. Apparently, they don't ask your name, or take any form of ID other than your retinal scan (which, actually, identifies you pretty specifically, if you think about it). So, I don't know how they handle billing, or what they do with your stuff if you don't pay, or if you die. And what happens if you don't follow your mom's advice, and put your eye out? Anyway, here's one of their annoying spots. Stay tuned to the end to be scolded by the proprietor!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Paul Reiser Show Cancelled After 2 Episodes

"No, kid, I shouldn't have done that to Ripley
in 'Aliens'." Image from source, TVLine
I watched both of them! And to be specific, though the show has aired twice, we're talking a span of eight days here. That's ridiculous. Was The Paul Reiser Show brilliant? No. Was it fall-down hilarious? No. But it wasn't intended to be. It's that sideways, sort of subtle kind of humor. It's not for everybody. I've only caught a couple of episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the pacing and style of the show was like that. Clearly this show should have been on a Showtime or HBO, and not on a trigger-happy NBC. Seinfeld, arguably a show with a similar sensibility, wasn't a hit out of the gate. It took time to build. I don't know if Reiser would ever have developed into that kind of show, but it's impossible to tell much of anything after two weeks.

[Excerpt]

NBC Kicks The Paul Reiser Show to the Curb



NBC has pulled the plug on The Paul Reiser Show. Network sources confirm to The Futon Critic that the sitcom has been axed after only two outings. . .
 
Read more at: TVLine

Al Franken Seeks Answers from Apple on iPhone and iPad Tracking

Images from source, TPM
So, Big Brother is Steve Jobs? I suppose it could be worse. I mean, he's something of a cult leader, I guess. And many of his legion of fans are kind of snobby and elitist. But it's better than finding out that it's Glenn Beck. 

[Excerpt]

Al Franken To Steve Jobs On iPhone Tracking: I Want Answers



Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wants answers. After reports Wednesday that Apple's iPhones and iPads secretly store information of the user's location, Franken wrote Apple CEO Steve Jobs a strongly worded letter. . .
 
Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nevada's John Ensign Resigns

"How's my hair?" Image from source, ABC News
Well, Captain Hairdo finally cashed in his chips. Or rather, he's cashing them out in early May, for some reason. He was busted all the way back in 2009 for making sweet love down by the fire with a staffer's wife. Slowly, the facts came out that said staffer and wife (and their son) benefited greatly from John Ensign's (and his parents') largess. Maybe illegally, surely unethically. For a while, he acted like he'd be running for reelection in 2012. He ultimately announced that he'd retire when his term was up. He commented several times that if he resigned, it would be as good as saying he was guilty.

Now he's announced his resignation. You connect the dots. Meanwhile, Nevada politics has been thrown into a tizzy. Dean Heller, currently a US Congressman, was going to run for Ensign's seat in 2012, but now is a shoo-in to be installed by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican. This leaves Congresswoman Shelley Berkley in a tricky spot, since she's already announced that she'd likely be running for the Senate seat. Instead of a contest of current Congresspeople, Berkley would be running against a sitting Senator.  And then there is resident nutball Sharron Angle. She was running for Heller's seat, but now she gets a shot at a special election for his seat, a time when voter turnout will likely be light. So she may get swept in, in a fluke, and have incumbency in her favor in 2012!

Could Ensign have planned it this way? Unlikely. If he just wanted to make it hard on Berkley, he could have waited until she had a lot more invested in the race. If Ensign wanted to boost Heller and/or Angle, he could have resigned earlier. More likely, he left now because something unsavory was about to happen with his ethics investigation.

[Excerpt]

Sen. John Ensign Announces Resignation From US Senate



Sen. John Ensign announced Thursday he is resigning from his seat in Congress, where he served for 11 years, and he will send a letter to Vice President Joe Biden on Friday stating that his resignation from office will be effective on May 3, 2011. . .
 
Read more at: ABC News

Crazy

Bwahahahaha!!! I know this is sad/scary, but it is also very, very funny. What a bunch of dopes. "Super-floo-us!" Bwahahahaha!!! These are South Carolina tea baggers/Republicans, if you're curious.

Weird Al Yankovic's "Banned" Lady Gaga Parody


I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and remember waiting anxiously to hear The Dr. Demento Show on Sunday nights. One of the biggest stars on that nerdfest was Weird Al Yankovic. He started out with a parody of The Knack's My Sharona (My Bologna), followed up with a riff on Queen's Another One Bites the Dust (Another One Rides the Bus), and blew us away with his take on The Kinks' Lola (Yoda).  By the time I was half-way through high school, Dr. Demento either stopped airing in Columbus, Ohio, or I'd fallen out of the habit. But I still bought Weird Al's In 3-D album, due to the heavy rotation of Eat It, Al's take on Michael Jackson's Beat It. I just about wore out that cassette.

I learned with that album that Al wasn't just funny, he was really very talented. He doesn't just make a goofy song to the tune of an already famous one. His lyrics are intricate. They fit both the original song, and the spoof. It works on several levels. He's done it again, using today's top pop star, Lady Gaga as his muse. It's dead on the money. I can't see why she didn't approve it. I'm betting she reverses herself.



Found at: TowleRoad

UPDATE: Apparently, Lady Gaga has relented: Mercury News

Are We Living in The Matrix? And What if it's a MORMON Matrix?

My mind is now blown. I'm a totally irreligious sci-fi freak. So the possibility that we're living in The Matrix--while not something I seriously consider--is a notion I can fantasize and speculate about. As an agnostic, I'm open to just about any fanciful idea about the nature of the universe. Open, but not easily convinced. If there is such a thing as a creator, I've always imagined that it was something like a computer programmer or an inventor. Why, oh why does the creator need to be omniscient, all-powerful, infinite, 100% pure love/vengeance, with a pathological need to be worshipped? That's why if I had to pick a religion--had to--it would probably be deism. God made it all, and then either just observes, or moved on to other things.

I suppose it could be worse. . .
But back to that Matrix idea. Suppose we're all Sims in a very elaborate "Universe: featuring Earth" program? Things fit in my brain just fine, until I remember the old SimCity game. I could play it for hours, building and growing my town. Then I'd get bored, and throw earthquakes, tornadoes and Godzilla at them. Suppose our programmer is more creative than that? Suppose in our simulation, Joseph Smith was right? The ludicrousness of the Mormon religion doesn't matter, if it's programmed in!!!

[Excerpt]

Should We Be Mormons in the Matrix?



Many people have noticed that there seem to be no new arguments for the truth of any of the world’s religions. I recently stumbled upon one, however, and it has given me a moment’s pause.



The Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued that our entire cosmos could be running as a simulation on a supercomputer of the future. This, needless to say, is a bizarre claim, but it can be defended with a few surprisingly plausible assumptions. . .

Read more at: Sam Harris

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Newt Gingrich Compares Donald Trump to P.T. Barnum

Image from Think Progress
This is a toughie. It's one overblown cartoon character assailing the character of another. And while I'm inclined to agree with Newt Gingrich initially (frightening, right?), I'm not so sure it's the best analogy. Sure, P.T. Barnum famously said "There's a sucker born every minute," but you could argue that every GOP presidential hopeful is banking on that. And Barnum ran the Circus. He wasn't really one of the acts. I suppose Trump believes himself to be the master showman, the best at what he does, drawing rubes in to his tent to vote his way (or more likely, watch his show). But he's really just one of the clowns performing for our amusement. It's actually going to be very amusing to watch, if he maintains his front-runner status. Newt won't be the only one trying to stop that crazy train.

On the other hand, the winners in all of this are people like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. Compared to Trump, they look nearly rational. And that is scary.

[Excerpt]

Gingrich: Trump Is P.T. Barnum Of The Barnum And Bailey Circus



. . .Well look I think that he is a little bit wild. A little bit..some have compared him to P.T. Barnum and the rise of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He is one of the great showman of our lifetime. . .
 
Read more at: Think Progress

Frivolity Break: Demarcus & Chang

This clip, via Funny or Die (and also via Stupid Monkey Planet) required a replay for me to find the joke. It'll probably hit you at the punch line. What threw me is, I thought the two men in the skit were women, so I thought the joke was going in a completely different direction. Sorry, boys.


My New TV is DEAD ALIVE!!! (UPDATE)

SOLVED: After a stretch of days of squinting (even with my new glasses) at the 19" flat panel across the room, my 60" TV is once again functional. Though I wasn't happy with the fact that the Mitsubishi WD-60738--which I otherwise love--had its lamp burn out after two months, I'm now satisfied.  If this should happen to you, just be sure to have a receipt of purchase, your model number and your serial number. The lamp ordering page at www.mitsuparts.com is very easy to use. After I filled out the online form, I DID have to scan my receipt, and email it to the parts department. I then had the presence of mind to call them, and make sure that what I sent was adequate. It was. Two days later, the new lamp arrived.

Surprisingly, the lamp comes in a pre-loaded cartridge. Essentially, if you can operate a screw driver, you can do this yourself. Three screws, and a slide-out cartridge. It couldn't be easier. The TV once again is beautiful!


ORIGINAL POST (04/14/11): On this here blog thingy, I chronicled the transformation of my home theater system (TV, stereo and Harmony remote new; cable box, Blu-ray & CD player old). The whole endeavor wasn't outrageously expensive, since I got the stereo at Ultimate Electronics' going out of business sale, the remote on eBay and the TV from one of TigerDirect.com's "open box deals."

An open box deal is a little bit "buyer beware," since the unit has been lightly used, possibly refurbished, possibly "scratch and dent," and possibly missing parts. In my case, there was a tiny scrape on the back of the cabinet, and no manual. So, no big whoop. And the television itself--a Mitsubishi 60738 HDTV DLP--has been the crown jewel of my setup, with a gorgeous, huge picture.

It has not been without its irritations: channel changing takes too long, the cable box menus make the screen go blank for 2-3 seconds between clicks, and worse, the cable box sometimes loses all communication with the television, and must be unplugged or rebooted. Some of that may be the cable company's fault, and there will be no way to be sure until Cox Cable releases a new cable box.

But over the last six weeks, after I ironed out all the kinks, I've been pretty happy with the TV. But today, The Other Half called me at work, semi-whiny, semi-accusey. The TV won't come on, and it has a RED light lit. Hmmmm. I thought (and later confirmed) that the red light meant the lamp was burned out. This is an ordinary occurrence with a DLP TV, a trade-off for the relatively low price. But it usually happens after years, not weeks. Actually, it has been two months to the day.

This is irritating, but it isn't the end of the world, of course. What is more irritating is what I found when I tried to rectify the situation. I perused the TigerDirect website, and found that my TV is covered under the original manufacturer's warranty. Cool. So, I went to Mitsubishi's web site. There, I found out that their parts department is "closed for inventory." They expect to be open this Monday. So, I can't set anything in motion until then. Grumble.

So, as of now, this is just a blog journal about my frustration. I am not angry at TigerDirect, and I'm not angry with Mitsubishi. How this goes after I call them on Monday may change that. I will do an update to this post for anyone who might find it, to used as consumer advice.

The only bright spot is, if I get the runaround and get irritated enough, I can buy my own new lamp on eBay for $75ish. Which is cheaper than profound irritation.

UPDATE I (04/15/11): After calling three local "authorized" repair shops, with no success, I decided to give Mitsubishi's customer service center a try. The operator was friendly, and I wasn't transferred around or anything. But there was a curious delay that was awkward, and a distinctly un-American accent for a Mitsubishi-USA center. No matter, the guy was helpful, and he eventually told me that I was covered, and that Mitsubishi would send me a new lamp in two to three business days! Hazzah!

But not so fast. After he said "may I please to put you on hold for one to two minutes?", he came back on the line and said that their parts department was closed for inventory. I had already told him this. Alas, I will have to start over on Monday. I'm starting to get irritated with Mitsubishi.

UPDATE II (04/19/11): Okay, so I went to work on Monday morning, and I forgot my paperwork. Aarrgh. So, I had to take 40 minutes off, and run home to get it. I logged in to Mitsubishi's parts page upon my return to work, and very quickly completed the order for my lamp. Then I was told, "you aren't done yet!" I had to prove that I had purchased the TV. Hrrmmphhh. Well, I did bring my packing slip with my serial number, so I scanned that and emailed it to Mitsubishi.

Then--while working, you understand, I'm a multi-tasker--I phoned the parts department. After four busy signal tries, I got through. After 10 minutes on hold, I got a live person, and five minutes after that, I had a confirmation that my proof of purchase was adequate.

Upon my return home, I found an email confirmation that the lamp has shipped, and that I should receive it by Wednesday afternoon, April 20. Woohoo! On track. Don't let me down, Mitsubishi!

Steven Weber: Impossible Truths, Racism and Tea Parties

Photo from AOL

I've piled enough compliments upon the writings of actor/blogger Steven Weber in this space in the past. This time I'll just say. . .what he said.

[Excerpt]

Impossible Truths



. . .It's deeper and darker than the Right's dislike for, say, Bill Clinton who, while an out n' proud Democrat was also very clearly a good friend to big business (NAFTA) and a thorn in the side of the poor (his welfare reform initiative) and despite his being brought down in a concerted effort by genophobic forces bent on instilling morality at the expense of governmental effectiveness, he was always regarded by the Right with respect, however grudging.


And that speaks to the glaring double standard which was and still is at the heart of the lion's share of Right Wing opposition to Barak Obama:

He is a black man. . .

Read more (and you know he's right) at: Huffington Post

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lawrence O'Donnell Deconstructs The Donald

Donald Trump tries to make it seem that he's running for president. And who knows, in right-wing world, I'd believe anything about now. The media has been extremely available to Trump, and only occasionally challenging to him. Liberal talker Randi Rhodes has been so suspicious of the kid glove treatment, that she thinks the NBC news division is bending over backward for The Donald in order to boost ratings on his own NBC show. Randi might not be entirely wrong about that.

But there is at least one person at MSNBC who is having none of it: Lawrence O'Donnell. He's been extremely dismissive of Trump, and has whithering criticism of just about everything Trump is or claims to be. Is O'Donnell being too tough on Trump? Hardly. Trump is a boorish braggart with a lame reality show, horrible taste, the inability to maintain a relationship, and the worst tangle of a comb-over ever to attempt to be taken seriously. O'Donnell lays Trump bare with the skill of a surgeon.


Donald Trump Was For Barack Obama Before He Was Against Him

Donald Trump, circa 1987 (better hair then)
Image from Serving History
Back in 2008, Mitt Romney took a lot of heat for being a "flip-flopper", for changing his stance on major issues (a lot). Donald Trump has also changed his stance on several issues. In fact, it's difficult to take any of The Donald's pronouncements seriously at all if you've been paying attention over the years. I remember when his brain was transplanted into Bloom County's Bill the Cat--who also mad a run at the presidency--and I wondered where Bill's brain went. Clearly, it is under that mass of cat hair, in Trump's head.

[Excerpt]

Onetime fan Trump now not so hot on 'worst president ever'

Last February – on the eve of the passage of a controversial health care bill and amidst increasing skepticism of the 2009 stimulus plan – many voters who had previously supported Barack Obama were beginning to sour on the president.


But one prominent American was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“I really like him. We'll have to see how he does,” Donald Trump told CNN in an interview. “On a personal basis, I like him. … Right now, he's at that tipping point. It's going to go one way or the other. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

Really, REALLY Big Government: Benton Harbor, Michigan

For my badger friend from the other side of the political aisle. . .watch this.

The Gospel According to Betty Bowers

Amen, Betty. Hat tip to Joe. My. God.

Tea Party/Republican Official E-mails Racist Photoshop Fail

I thought about not posting this. But it is everywhere
by now, and the ugliness should be exposed.
From source, NY Daily News
At work, there's a lady who is friends with my boss who sends all manner of emails. Like a person who only just discovered the internet (but who has in fact been using it for a decade), she forwards anything that passes through her mailbox to her whole email list. Recipes. Jokes about old age. Jokes about menopause. URGENT!!!!1!!11!!! virus warnings. Urban legends passed along as fact (Snopes says it's true!!!).  But mostly, she passes along political emails.

Not just political news, or even political opinion. We're talking full-on conspiracy theory, Obama is a radical Muslim, Marxist, socialist, communist, statist, evil, anti-Christ. And he's a radical Christian. Plus, wasn't he born in Kenya? His grandmother said so! And what about that birth certificate? On top of this, she's not beyond sending something overtly racist, rather than that other (barely) more subtle stuff. So don't tell me an old lady can't be a racist. And no, of course this doesn't lend any credence to racism within the tea party. Perish the thought.

[Excerpt]

Marilyn Davenport, Republican official in California, didn't think Obama as chimp e-mail was racist



A California Republican party official who sent out an e-mail of President Obama's face super-imposed onto a chimp says she's sorry, but insists she wasn't trying to be racist. . .
 
Read more at: New York Daily News

Michigan GOP Taking Over a Town? Strips Voting Rights?

Image from source, Detroit News
What does "limited" or "small" government mean to you? It's the mantra of the so called (dwindling) tea party. Nearly every prominent Republican touts it, as do all of the right-wing talk radio personalities. Get government out of our lives! Government does nothing right! Government isn't the answer to the problem, government is the problem!

So why do the Republicans govern so differently from their big talk? Why do conservatives want to be able to strip my right to marry in California? Why do conservatives want to decide what goes on in any given pregnant woman's uterus? Why do they think they can just decide to get rid of things that unions fought for? Why do they think that a certain brand of a certain sect of a certain religion ought to have the rule of law over people who are not of the same faith? And when you've answered all of those questions, what about the crap that's going down in Michigan?

When The Rachel Maddow Show began commenting on the ridiculously overreaching policies going into effect in Michigan, many on the right laughed her off. Oh, she's just a "True Twit," making mountains out of mole hills. But what Rachel was getting at seems to be coming to pass. Legislators in Michigan think that if a town isn't doing so well, they can appoint somebody to swoop in, and take over, duly elected representatives be damned. How is this small government?

[Excerpt]

Emergency manager cuts roles of Benton Harbor officials



In a move believed to be the first under sweeping new state legislation, Emergency Manager Joseph Harris suspended decision-making powers of city officials Friday.


Officials only can call meetings to order, adjourn them and approve minutes of meetings as part of the order issued Friday. . .

Read more at: The Detroit News

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Vetos Birther Bill

Jan Brewer, courting the elusive "non-crazy" GOP vote.
Image from TPM
How crazy is too crazy? Well, Jan Brewer--not a poster child for sanity--has deemed the birther bill a "bridge too far." Leave it to legislators in Arizona to pass a law that is so strict their own state can't meet it! Oh well, back to the ol' drawing board. Who has the next crazy idea?

[Excerpt]

Brewer Vetoes Birther Bill In Arizona

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ), who has been a darling on the right for her battles with the Obama administration over illegal immigration, health care and other issues, has now taken a potentially bold step against the Tea Party base: She has vetoed a "birther bill" -- a piece of legislation motivated by conspiracy theories about President Obama place of birth, requiring candidates for public office to submit proof of U.S. citizenship to the state Secretary of State before they could appear on the state's ballot. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Happens in Vegas: Sharron Angle Sings!

I'm not kidding. On the third annual tea party tax day, tens of tea baggers assembled to hear Nevada's biggest wack-a-doodle perennial Congressional candidate Sharron Angle sing Lee Greenwood's cliched God Bless the USA. Which is rather terrifying.

But satisfying too, as the tea party really seems to be fizzling out, doesn't it? I mean, the size of the crowds at tea party events is dismal, and only a fraction of the pro-labor crowds that gathered recently in Wisconsin and other states. Why does the media (and the Congress) still seem to think this is a huge movement?

[Excerpt]


Sharron Angle sings ‘God Bless the USA’





At a ‘Tax Day Protest’ this week attendees expecting the usual perfunctory and dispassionate “God Bless the USA” instead were treated to Sharron Angle’s unprecedented yet impressive showmanship. Where most politicians would leave the singing to the professionals Angle instead grabbed the microphone, and was all smiles as she sung a surprisingly good rendition of the classic song. . .


Read more: Daily Caller

Irony Alert: FOX TV's "Green it, Mean it" Promotion

I'm aware that FOX Television and FOX "News" are different divisions of the same company. But they're still both appendages of the same corporate creature. Given that FOX "News" is one of the biggest megaphones for global climate change deniers, it is somewhat ironic to see the entertainment division throwing their weight behind a "green" promotion. Don'tcha think?


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blast from the Past: Things to Do in the Bathroom. . .

I know I did a "bath time" Blast from the Past some time ago, but I thought of a couple of products I didn't cover. So, lather up!





1. Shower to Shower Deodorant Powder - There were a lot of stinky people walking around in the 70s and 80s. "Just a sprinkle a day" allegedly will fix that problem for you!

2. Sure Deodorant - A (ahem) surer way to keep from stinking is to use an actual underarm antiperspirant. This famous ad even seems to claim it keeps the Statue of Liberty from stinking. Raise your hand!

3. Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo - Pam doesn't stink. She's just got a hideous case of dandruff.

4. Ban Solid Antiperspirant - Back to stinky people, except the issue here seems to be wetness.

5. Calgon Bath Soap - Sometimes, you just have to get away from it all: Calgon, take me away!

6. Aqua Velva After Shave - Pete Rose sings! I'm not kidding.

Have a good Monday, everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Over Time with Bill Maher, April 8 & 15, 2011

Last week's Over Time for some reason never posted, so I missed it. This week it's up, so here we go. . .


And hey, look. Apparently, they finally posted last week's edition. Enjoy.

Harry Reid Shows Backbone, Rebukes Ryan Budget Plan

He's my Senator. I don't often get to brag about that.

[Excerpt]

GOP abandons political middle. Democrats happy to move in



. . ."The Republican plan to end Medicare and immediately raise prescription drug costs for seniors in order to pay for millionaire tax breaks will never pass the Senate. The fact that it passed the House shows just how far to the right the Tea Party has dragged the Republican Party.



"In addition to ending Medicare and doubling seniors' health care costs down the road, the Republican plan would also destroy nearly two million American jobs and undermine our economic growth. Republicans' plan would only benefit the wealthiest Americans, who would get another round of tax breaks they don't need and that our economy can't afford. . .

Read more at: MaddowBlog

Photo of the Day: The Walking Dead Funeral Parlor

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet for this belly laugh.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Friday, April 15, 2011

President Obama Caught on Open Mic. . .Yeah, So?

Chill out, I got this. Image from LATimes
Um, really. I'm having trouble finding the story here. Bush was all swagger and bravado on camera. Here's Obama being a little brash and swaggery off camera. Is the story that he's less "cool as a cucumber" as he likes to appear? Is it that he said the word "stupid?" I really don't know why this is such a big story. I don't get it.


[Excerpt]



Obama remarks caught by open mic


The president casually criticizes Republicans, federal workers and White House technology during a Chicago fundraiser. The remarks were accidentally piped into the White House press room where reporters heard them. . .


Read more at: Los Angeles Times
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