Thursday, June 27, 2013

American Spectator Presents Tea Party Straw Poll

Being a liberal blogger, I've managed to get on quite a few unusual mailing lists, some on purpose, some not. One of them is The American Spectator, which I'd classify as an "establishment" Republican periodical. But to show what a fine line there is (if there is any distinction at all) between that group and "Tea Party conservatives," I'm not sure what it could be. Because this arrived co-branded.

Click to embiggen.
It's a 2016 presidential straw poll. And the list contains a mixture of boring conservatives, and absolutely batshit crazy tea baggers. I voted for the craziest one, Jan Brewer. Just because, y'know. . .what is that insane woman doing on a list like this?

I think by now it is clear that while "true" tea partiers might consider themselves separate and apart for the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and Frank Luntz--who pull the strings from behind the scenes, and mold the conversation--the Tea Party is just the branded face of conservatism. There is no real distinction. Though I'm sure Rove et. al., would dearly love to cut the crazy out of the public face, they need them for their crazy base!

We liberals and progressives thought that the rogues gallery that emerged on the stage of the 2008 and 2012 Republican primaries was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying. Check out this list.

Click to embiggen. Be afraid, be very afraid!

The Gay Thing: California, Here We Come!

We planned, long ago, to "return to the scene of the crime," and revisit Palm Springs on our fifth wedding anniversary. We got married a couple of weeks after same-sex marriage was legalized in June 2008. In November of that year, Proposition 8--sponsored largely by outside monies gathered in conjunction with the Catholic and Mormon Churches--passed on the same night Barack Obama was elected President. That was a paradoxical occurrence, one seemingly perfectly timed. The Prop 8 backers couldn't have known it, but that year was likely the very last time they could muster a majority vote against gay marriage in California.

Five long years have passed since that brief sunny period when same-sex couples could marry in California. At first, we were thrown into legal limbo. After some legal procedures we found out that stay that way, not that the Prop 8ers didn't try to annul us--they did. Next, there was a lawsuit against the state which resulted in throwing out Prop 8 as un-Constitutional, but wait! Can't let them just repeal it, no-no. A stay was placed, and appeal filed. . . and then an appeals court that concurred. . .then another stay. . .and then THE SUPREMES!
See, religious objectors? Not married in church, but at this
awesome city hall in Palm Springs. No Jesus, no "holy
matrimony." So, chill out.
Prop 8 had been legally drafted and voted upon (there had been procedural questions), and the 18,000 couples who had already married got to

For people like me who followed all of this, it was a long, aggravating slog. At all points along the way, and in internet message boards, Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, we were subjected to homophobic idiots, all spewing the same loads of crap that failed in court. Worse, most "pro-traditional marriage" types seemed to have very little understanding of what the case entailed, though they think they know everything about "the homosexual lifestyle." Following that stuff is just a hideous, awful, viper's nest.

A lot of that is gloriously, fantastically over with. Of course, haters go'n hate, and there will still be spewing of nonsense. But it will be easier to let that stuff just roll off now.  California marriage equality will resume after a pointless, expensive interlude. I take great pleasure in knowing that the combined homophobic forces like National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and their affiliates spent millions and millions of dollars, and got nothing. This is my message to all of these busybody, Gladys Kravitzes. . .

So what does the death of Proposition 8, and the gutting of the badly named Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) mean for gay people? Well, it's not all 100% clear yet.  If you're legally married and reside within a state that recognizes it, you're good as gold, as married as married can be to all relevant government bodies and entities. If you're like me, and were married in a state that does recognize it, but live in one that doesn't, it's less clear, though it seems like we'll be able to have federal recognition, but not state.

I'm willing to bet that very, very soon, there will be several lawsuits over this very issue, and will very likely be won under the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution. The question is this: will it have to be done in each of the 37 states that don't recognize it, or with SCOTUS step in again?

At this point, I don't care about all of that. We got a huge win in this, regardless of whatever spin you hear. NOM lost; straight up lost. And that makes me very happy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Gay Thing: WE WIN!!!

The (always badly named) Defense of Marriage Act has been declared un-Constitutional by the Supreme Court! And the California Proposition 8 case was dismissed on lack of standing by the defense, meaning the lower court ruling stands, and same-sex marriages are going to be legal again in California. WOOHOOO!!!

Ramifications will be come clearer throughout the day, much more to come later. For now, back to work.

The Gay Thing: Supreme Court to Decide Prop 8 & DOMA Today

My assumption that the Supreme Court would decide the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 on Thursday turned out to be wrong. Apparently it is some time today, and I'm actually a little beside myself. I needn't worry of course, my 2008 California marriage is secure either way. And hell, even if it was annulled, it's not going to change my relationship, SCOTUS be damned.

Still, both cases could have huge ramifications for gay people in general, and even for my marriage as it applies to federal law, and in other states. If neither case goes our way, it will be mostly a symbolic blow: something that catches headlines, and visibly stalls our momentum. But even in this worst-case scenario, nothing will actually have changed. It would be a status quo decision. Gay rights would continue on, marriage equality would continue on, and California would probably vote on a reversal of Proposition 8 anyway.

There are multiple ways the decisions could go, the easiest for SCOTUS would be to punt one or both cases on standing, in which case the gay side wins, though the ramifications are unclear. They could vote to kill DOMA and/or Prop 8, but limit the scope. Or they could make a very broad ruling. All of these eventualities in any combination is still pretty much a win for the pro-gay side. Only a decision to uphold both DOMA and Prop 8 is a total loss, and as I said before, that leaves us where we started, with a black eye (or two), but no backward movement.

One thing I can tell you: I don't appreciate having my life, my relationship's legal status as equal United States citizens hinging upon the whims of some of the people on this court. And one wonderful result--should we score even a modest victory--would be a reduction in the possibility that my life is ever a political football again.

And either way, we're going to have fun in Palm Springs, where we were married, on our 5th anniversary. That's one thing they absolutely can not take from us!

And again--any high tech robbers out there--we've got a house sitter, so just forget it!

Texas GOP Forces Through Abortion Bill Despite Filibuster

Texas GOP, you've created a hero with this lady. State Sen. Wendy
Davis, image from source, AP
UPDATE: As I type this--way past my bedtime--the passage of the bill is in doubt. There is buzz all over the blogosphere and twitterverse that the vote was after the deadline, and the time fudged by the Texas GOP. Was this a valid vote?


Again, right up front, abortion is not my issue. But douchebaggy, assholey, straight-up mean GOPers? That's certainly my area. I'm still trying to figure out if this is just all fun'n'games for Republicans, throwing red meat to their base while pissin' off the libs? Or is it a bold attempt to get sued, and get Roe vs. Wade revisited by the Supreme Court? Or, is it just that old "out-meaning" each other theory I've got going? Whatever it is, the Texas GOP has enraged a whole lot of people, particularly women--some of whom are undoubtedly conservatives.

All of this followed a bravura attempt by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who mounted a filibuster that almost worked. She was required to talk--on subject--for 13 hours without assistance or the ability to lean against anything or even go to the bathroom. The very strict rules were observed by what I can only picture as a study hall monitor, with a three-strikes-you're-out provision. After 11 hours, there were three minor infractions (unbelievably, Davis talking about sonograms was deemed off-topic), and the Texas Senate had just enough time (amid howls of protest) to ram the abortion bill through.

I'm still trying to understand conservative logic on this whole issue. They want to shut down Planned Parenthood. Restrict access to contraception, morning-after pills, or sex education. They want abstinence-only education. They want reduced or eliminated social programs like food stamps, welfare, and pre-schooling. So, essentially, no pregnancy prevention, no plan B and no abortion. . .but you'll get zero help from the state once the kid is born. This is one fucked up agenda.


Texas Senate GOP passes restrictive abortion bill

Texas Republicans have passed new abortion restrictions expected to close almost every abortion clinic in the nation's second most populous state. . .

Read more at: AP

Ed Markey Retains Massachusetts Senate Seat for Democrats

I had to chuckle when I watched a portion (I can only take it in small doses) of FOX "News" Sunday, and saw Chris Wallace interviewing Gabriel Gomez. Of course he would, on the Sunday before the special election to fill Secretary of State John Kerry's Senate seat. You can say this for FOX "News," they always do their part for their team. Gomez had come off poorly in debates, and was trailing by 9 to 12 points in polls, but insisted he could pull out a win. Isn't that always the way?

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It may have worked, slightly. It looks like the margin was 8 points, so Gomez may have picked up a tiny boost from the exposure. He was an unusual Republican, being pro-gay marriage, and soft on several Right Wing World issues. I guess you have to be in Massachusetts. But it wasn't enough, and Ed Markey is in! And he's one of the good guys, in my estimation, so kudos all around.


Democrats hold Kerry's Senate seat with Markey victory

Secretary of State John Kerry's former Senate seat will stay in Democratic hands as longtime Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey handily defeated Republican Gabriel Gomez in Tuesday’s special election. . .

Read more at: NBC News

2 Hours After SCOTUS Decision, Texas Moves to Suppress Minority Voters

Texas shows how fast it can execute a dick move.
Image from source, Think Progress.
Emboldened by the Supreme Court decision to remove part of the Voter Rights Act of 1965, the State of Texas is moving forward with distracting maps that would previously have violated the act. The maps were already blocked last year for being discriminatory to minority voters, so I'd imagine they remain discriminatory. They're just legal now.

So, it took two hours for Texas to prove SCOTUS wrong. The law was still necessary, obviously. And my theory that Republicans are just trying to out-mean each other stands.


Two Hours After The Supreme Court Gutted The Voting Rights Act, Texas AG Suppresses Minority Voters

Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

What Do You Do With a Washed-up Scandal?

Through May and June, the beltway media and blogosphere have done their level best to pound us over the head with Scandal! Scandal! Scandal! Mostly, though the President's approval ratings have taken a hit, none of the various controversies has landed directly at his feet. The closest is probably the Edward Snowden leaker/whistleblower thing, but even that is more about bringing legal things (that should maybe be made illegal) to light, than it is about wrongdoing. The focus seems to be on sorting out whether Snowden is a bad guy or a good guy. Unless I'm missing something. I mean, when you've got Michael Moore and Glenn Beck coming down on the same side of an issue, you know the narrative is seriously loopy on that one.

But some of the scandal-ettes have pretty much fizzled. That doesn't stop the right-wing from flogging them at any opportunity. They have a reflexive "Benghazi!" retort to almost anything political, but Benghazi hasn't yielded any scalps. The IRS/Tea Party thing is pretty much a dead end, though FOX "News" and the rest of Right Wing World doesn't seem to know it yet. If that one ends as it should, all 501(c)(4) groups--on the right or on the left--that are political, will have their tax exempt status pulled. That would get a lot of applause.

But what do you do with scandals on life support? How long can the right squawk about them before they look (more) ridiculous?


IRSgate joins Solyndragate and Benghazigate in Fake Scandal Heaven

In addition to being a cosmic turd straight from Satan’s bunghole, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is now just a laughing stock on Capitol Hill. If anyone anywhere takes this clown seriously in the future, we will be shocked. How has Issa managed to make himself an even bigger fool, the kind of ass that everyone, even small children, stop to point and laugh at?  It all goes back to the IRS, and this non-scandal that Issa bet his entire reputation as Chair of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee upon. . .

Read more at:

SCOTUS Kills Key Provision of Voting Rights Act

Wade Henderson, president and C.E.O. of the Leadership Conference
on Civil and Human Rights, criticized the decision on Tuesday;
from source, New York Times.

This one is a head-scratcher. I can't figure out why the Supreme Court found it necessary to carve out a cornerstone piece of the cornerstone piece of civil rights legislation ever passed. They basically said that since the Voting Rights Act has forced affected states to play by the rules, the act itself is no longer needed. What? Isn't that a bit like saying that stop signs have done a terrific job of getting cars to stop at intersections, so they are now no longer needed?

I just sit and shake my head, because I'm really not sure what to say. I mean, SCOTUS gave Congress the option of fixing the language, to modernize the act. . .but have they paid attention to this Congress lately? They're not doing shit. And already, states like Texas are pouncing, by ramming through voter ID bills and other things that--until Tuesday--were considered legally discriminatory against groups of voters. But no more! Sheesh.

And it really makes me queasy about the DOMA and Prop 8 marriage equality bills to be announced Wednesday. Ugh.


Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval. . .

Read more at: New York Times

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Scandal: IRS/Tea Party Scandal is Officially Over (Or Should Be)

Darrell Issa has been trying--with his conclusions already drawn--to prove that the IRS/Tea Party scandal goes all the way to the White House! And he's been repeatedly thwarted. Witness after witness says it didn't come from on high. There are Republicans in the decision chain. And it slowly is being revealed that other groups, like "occupy" and "progressive" groups were ALSO being flagged. I have zero problem with this and am confused why anybody--liberal or conservative--is even still calling this a scandal, or saying anybody did anything wrong. . .besides granting these groups tax exempt status in the first place.

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Sign Lawrence O'Donnell's Petition to Restore IRS "Exclusivity" 501(c)(4) Language

I'm on board with this. No way, no how should the IRS in 1959 have decided to interpret a Congressional law saying "exclusively" as "primarily." Of course, no way, no how should "primarily" be so difficult to figure out. Tea Party groups are primarily political, not primarily public welfare organizations. Full stop. Same with "Occupy"-type groups of course. But there would be no ambiguity whatsoever if the "exclusive" language was restored, or rather just followed.


Lawrence O’Donnell urges viewers to sign IRS petition on White House website

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A new report on the handling of applications for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status rewrites presumptions made by House Speaker John Boehner and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on the so-called IRS “scandal.” In recent weeks, both had suggested there was criminal activity involved in the targeting of Tea Party groups, possibly extending all the way to the White House. . .

Read more at: The Last Word

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Gay Thing: SCOTUS Watch (DOMA & Prop 8 Decisions Due)

For the past few weeks, there have been a whole lot of people waiting with bated breath for the Supreme Court to issue their rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case, and the California Proposition 8 case, both with huge ramifications for gay rights and marriage equality. All along, many court-watching professionals have indicated they thought the decisions wouldn't come down until the last week of the session, perhaps even on the very last day of it.

New tungsten carbide/carbon fiber wedding bands
for the anniversary!
Still, each recent Monday, there have been many with crossed fingers awaiting a decision, only to be disappointed. And then Thursdays--apparently a bonus decision day irregularly added--there has been another trickle of news, but nothing on the gay stuff. All through this, I've been aware that the last day of the Court's calendar is June 27, which happens to be the 5th anniversary of my same-sex marriage in California! Which seems as much like fate or kismet as an atheist like me is comfortable with. Now, it is possible that the decisions will come down today, or even be split between today and Thursday. But I have a hunch they're coming down--both of them--on my anniversary. I'm hopeful that whenever it happens, it is good news. And as we are going to be back in Palm Springs where we were married on our actual anniversary, it would be pretty cool to have a favorable verdict on both cases.

Watch this space.

PS: Oh, and hey, to any tech-savvy robbers out there, we've got a house sitter, so just forget it, alright? Cool.

Blast from the Past: Best of Madeline Kahn!

I recently joined a group on Facebook called Hollywood Babylon. Each day, they have a topic, and invite members to post pictures or videos. Very, very often, Madeline Kahn comes up (often from me, admittedly). Kahn's heyday was the early 70s to early 80s, making a name for herself in movie comedies, especially those by Mel Brooks. She also appeared in other venues like The Muppet Show and Saturday Night Live. It was on SNL where she appeared with Gilda Radner, brilliantly melding Gilda's Barbra Walters parody Baba Wawa with Madeline's Marlene Dietrich impression. Interestingly, Madeline frequently co-starred with Gene Wilder and Gilda married him. Sadly, both actresses--who will always be linked in my mind--died ovarian cancer in different years, both far too young. In both cases, I and many others felt absolutely robbed of a favorite entertainer, and it for some reason felt personal. But it's great that we can replay our favorite performances whenever we want to.

So, here in no particular order, are some of my favorite Madeline Kahn performances. Enjoy!

And that's just a small slice of the genius that was Madeline Kahn. Hopefully, it puts a smile on your face to greet the week with. Happy Monday!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Another Paula Deen Scandal, Y'All!

I'm 40, y'all! Image from First For Women.

I'm kidding, this was just something I noticed at the grocery store today. While at the checkout, I was amused to see that Paula Deen is on the cover of First for Women magazine. The timing of that is probably a headache for the magazine, you know having a racism scandal probably doesn't help sales.

But what really gets me is the heavy amount of Photoshop used on Mrs. Dean's photo! I mean, I know they digitally sculpt the crap out of supermodels and megastars, but Paula Deen? This is a 66-year-old, plus-sized woman. Everybody knows that. But just look at that photo. Then take a look at one of the videos from Deen's apology tour. Doesn't this qualify as a scandal too?

Tea Party a Shadow of its Former Self

No, lady, you don't. If you even know where Benghazi
is, you just want it to be bad for the President.
Image from source, Salon.
I really like the story below for several reasons. The reminder that the Tea Party movement is only 4 years old, and that it pretty much flamed out fairly quickly. Now, I'm sure that actual tea baggers (yes, I will continue to use that phrase when I'm 90) would find much to squawk about in the article. But the Salon piece is actually fairly mild and respectful. For instance, they didn't use the phrase "tea baggers."

They also don't go into the astro-turfy, faux grass-roots nature of the Tea Party, the fact that as a group, they were just re-branded conservatives, or the inherent, barely concealed racism of the whole enterprise. Yeah, I said it. Tell me a group that rose up immediately after President Obama was inaugurated, wanting to "take their country back," were fighting the policies of a man who'd barely enacted any yet. Sure, what else've you got?


The Tea Party’s sad, nostalgic reunion tour 

Remember way back to 2010? When the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” was tearing up the charts and a hot new upstart political movement called the Tea Party was striking fear into socialists everywhere? What began on Tax Day in 2009 hit a high-water mark just 18 months later with a massive rally on the National Mall organized by Glenn Beck (which later proved to be the beginning of the end of the Tea Party’s purpose for existing: massive anti-government rallies of colorful, flag-waving patriots). There’s no question the conservative revival in the GOP has remade the party inside Washington, but the Gadsden flags were rolled up and the tricorn hats put away as the outsider movement honed its insider game. . .

Read more at: Salon

What Happens in Vegas: A Grumble from a Long-Time Resident

One weird thing about living in Las Vegas is that though our city is decidedly blue (as is the state in Presidential elections of late), political talk on the radio is exclusively from the red. [And just a side-note, isn't it funny how conservatives have come to be called "red," when the "reds" used to be their outright enemy? Anyway. . .] Liberal talk radio is a rare animal I'll grant you, a genre that includes only a handful of programs, but we don't get any of them in Las Vegas. I'm always amused that so often "the media" is depicted as a liberal entity, where underdog conservatives have to fight to have their voices heard.

So, if I want to listen to news commentary in the car, I have to resort to some Bluetooth/podcast setup, or I have to tune in to conservotalk on the terrestrial radio. And since I'm only in the car for 15-20 minute stretches, I can manage to do that without going completely nuts. The most popular station in this format is KXNT (with both an AM and FM version), and they run Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as you'd expect. But in drive-time, they scuttled the unlistenable Mark Levin to tape delay at night, in favor of a series of local hosts. There was a young team of "Radio Star" winners who were later dumped, a long-timer who got unceremoniously fired, and the current guy, a dolt named Kevin Wall.
Click image to embiggen.

Wall is clearly a pro at talking on the radio, I'll give him that. He can vamp to fill time. He can bail out of a phone call, or ill-thought-out train of thought. And if you're not paying attention to the actual sequence of words coming out of his mouth, he sounds just fine. But in my listening experience, I've yet to discover his area of expertise. His depth of knowledge on any particular subject is. . .well. . .shallow. When he interviews a guest on the phone, things go well as long as the guest is basically let go to talk about their subject. Things go somewhat awry when he starts peppering them with questions, veering into tangents that invariably lead to blind alleys. But like I said, he's good at steering back on course, when he realizes he's hit a pot hole.

On Thursday, the interview subject was most friendly, the honorable former mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman. On this occasion, I found myself annoyed several times in the course of a couple of sentences. First up, Goodman and his wife Carolyn (the current mayor) are loathe to disabuse anyone of the false notion that the city of Las Vegas is the entire valley, including the strip. It's not. The Goodmans' jurisdiction ends north of the Las Vegas Strip, including the Stratosphere and downtown, but not the megaresorts. Kevin Wall on the other hand, seemingly isn't even aware of this fact. When talking to Goodman (or other city officials), he regularly tosses in references to areas clearly outside the city, cluelessly. 

Wall, of course, eventually turns everything back around to something negative about President Obama, and I guess that's a talent too. So, he asked Goodman about his "run-ins" with the President. And just as Goodman rarely admits he wasn't the mayor of the MGM Grand, he continues to perpetuate the myth that Obama told people not to come to Las Vegas. I've covered this subject before, because with Goodman, it is well-traveled. As you can see if you go to that link, what Obama actually said was both conservative and true. Both statements Obama made were about fiscal responsibility! Not taking a junket on the taxpayer's dime, and not blowing money you don't have. Yes, "Vegas" was in both quotes, but the context wasn't just glossed over, it was ignored.

These things were annoying enough for me to remember them hours later, and decide to write this post. But I really wasn't surprised by them. Kevin Wall is a guy hired to perform the role of "conservative talk radio host," and does it ably if not smartly. Smarts are obviously not a job requirement. Oscar Goodman is a fast-talking mob lawyer turned politician; a self-promoter who is selling a book about those things. He's always played loosey-goosey with facts, preferring truthiness instead.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Gay Thing: Exodus International to Shut Down, Apologizes

There are big chunks of the internets still inhabited by people who think that being gay is a choice, and not only can be changed, but should be changed. It's a disturbingly loud, and curiously fixated slice of the populace who feels this way, and for avowed heterosexuals, they sure claim to know a lot about what they mistakenly refer to as "the lifestyle." And when pressed--provided they're not presently foaming at the mouth, and typing in badly-spelled all capital letters--they'll point to groups like Exodus International as proof that "thousands and thousands" of (undocumented, of course) gays have "changed."

By "changed" they can be vague though. Did these "ex-gays" actually change into heterosexuals? Did they merely become celibate? Were the success stories perhaps bisexual or not even gay to begin with? So many questions, so few answers. But by and large, these organizations are seen as a colossal waste of time, and even possibly damaging to their clients. Very often, those who have claimed to "change," have changed back. And more often than not, ex-ex-gays report the entire experience to be a fraud.

So, should this story come as much of a surprise?

Image from source, BuzzFeed

Group That Had Aimed To "Change" Gays To Shut Down, Leader Also Offered Apology

“Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole,” the group stated on its website Wednesday. Update: The group has announced it is closing down.. .

Read more at: BuzzFeed

James Gandofini Dies at 51

Image from Huffington Post
I usually post notices on the blog when a notable celebrity dies, and James Gandolfini certainly crosses that bar. The only thing is, if I've ever seen him in anything, I don't remember what it was. Yes, I'm one of the handful of people who has never seen an episode of The Sopranos. And I feel sure I've seen him guesting on something, seemingly in a comedic role? But I can't be sure. Still, it's always sad when a beloved celeb dies, particularly when they're not very old. To some, 51 is probably starting to get into "old" territory, but not to someone in their late 40s. It seems way too young to go. So, RIP Mr. Gandolfini. At least you made it longer than Tony Soprano did.


James Gandolfini of 'The Sopranos:' An Appreciation

My first reaction on hearing James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos" had died was stunned disbelief. Denial, stonewalling, shock, avoidance -- I tried all the techniques Tony Soprano used in his sessions with Dr. Melfi. With enough displays of stubbornness and willful blindness, I could make the news of Gandolfini's death go away, right?. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Right Wing World: Rush Limbaugh Has Finally Lost His Mind

. . .Or lost what's left of his mind? Or thinks his audience is irredeemably stupid? Or is back on the oxy? Something's going on, because his latest claims are so empirically false, so laugh-out-loud ridiculous, there's no way anyone but the densest dittohead could believe it.


Rush Limbaugh: Conservatives Don't Suppress The Black Vote, Restrict Women's Choice, Or Lie  

Displaying a remarkable lack of self-awareness, Rush Limbaugh tried to convince a caller that "it's a pretty safe bet" that liberals always lie and conservatives never do -- an assertion he backed up with a series of his own lies on everything from abortion to minority vote suppression and the IRS. . .

Read more at: Media Matters

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Paula Dean: Everything is Better with Butter. And Racism

As sweet as your grandma. Your racist grandma. Image from MSNBC.
Sometimes celebrities say something stupid, it passes, and then it's all forgive and forget like nothing happened. I'm not sure that's going to happen with Paula Deen. She's had a few major faux pas in the past, but this one takes the *ahem* butter cake. Mercy.


Paula Deen used the N-word, wanted make-believe slaves at wedding dinner

Celebrity chef Paula Deen has a mess she needs to clean up. A deposition was obtained Wednesday in which she admits to using a racial slur. The National Enquirer first reported Deen’s deposition, in which she responds to recent allegations of racism in the workplace–and admits to using the N-word and expressing a wish for a wedding served by waiters dressed as slaves. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

John Oliver's Advice on the Return of Sarah Palin

Remember when we thought Sarah Palin's 15 minutes were over? Well, she's swept back onto the political celebrity stage, still as pointless as ever, but demanding to be heard. And while I usually shy away from using the same source for two posts in a row, I'm double-dipping into The Daily Show with Jon Stewart John Oliver for this excellent response to the return of the Palin.


John Oliver: Just f*cking ignore Sarah Palin’s turd supermarket of self-contradictory nonsense

. . .“I just don’t even know where to begin with her,” he said. “I mean — hold on. I think I’ve just realized something. Fuck it, this is exactly what she wants. Just because I walked into a turd supermarket doesn’t mean I have to buy anything. . .”

Read more at: Raw Story

Left Behind: Samantha Bee Examines the Plight of Persecuted Christians

I'm consistently amazed that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart John Oliver is able to line up guests for their roving reports. That they have yet to discover that they are the joke, I don't know. Such is the case with reporter Samantha Bee's mock sympathy over anti-gay Christians who feel persecuted because it is unfashionable to openly malign gay people. It's both hilarious and a bit disturbing. These are nutty people.

Award-winning Journalist Michael Hastings Dies in Car Crash

Image from source, Talking Points Memo
This one is really too bad. Michael Hastings was an accomplished investigating journalist, well-spoken and telegenic. To see that he was born in 1980, well, he just died way too young. Already, there are conspiracy theories blooming: killed by the government, killed by someone he was investigating, and on and on. I'm sure they'll connect it to Breitbart eventually. And who knows, stranger things have happened. What we know for sure is that this really sucks. RIP, Michael.


Award-Winning Journalist Michael Hastings Dies At 33

Award-winning journalist and war correspondent Michael Hastings died early Tuesday in a car accident in Los Angeles, his employer and family said. Hastings, who was 33, was described by many of his colleagues as an unfailingly bright and hard-charging reporter who wrote stories that mattered. Most recently, he wrote about politics for the news website BuzzFeed, where the top editor said colleagues were devastated by the loss. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Hastings was a friend and sometime guest of Rachel Maddow on her show. In Tuesday night's show, she remembered him on her show. She also points out that Hastings was engaged to Andrea Parhamovich, who was killed in Baghdad in 2007 in the Iraq War. Hastings had written a book about her death.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Right Wing World: Cheney and Palin and More, Oh My!

In my previous post, I ranted about the idiocy of presenting Dick Cheney (or countless others) on the Sunday political shows, and holding them out as some sort of authority on foreign policy. Or anything else. I left out John McCain and his swooning buddy, Lindsey Graham, both of who appear so often on those shows, they should be noted as the Senators from Meet the Press, rather than the states they allegedly represent. But my rant was just to let out steam. I should know by now that I am but a humble, hobbyist blogger, and that there are pros out there who do it better.
Image from source, NewsCorpse

But the nice thing is, I can share their work, and still feel like I did something! And oddly enough, it does make me feel better. This is from a great site that focuses mostly on FOX "News," but you can apply it across the board.


Fox News On Credibility: With Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, And Stuttering Jesse Watters

Bizarro World is contemplating a lawsuit against Fox News for infringing on their patented methods of presenting a worldview that is wholly inconsistent with reality. . .

Read more at: NewsCorpse

Lest We Forget: Who the Hell Cares What Dick Cheney Thinks?

I haven't read a word of the article I excerpted below. I didn't watch the clip. When I grudgingly watched FOX "News" Sunday this weekend to see what was up their asses this week, I turned it off when Dick Cheney was introduced as the guest. Why? Because I don't care what Cheney has to say. About anything. And nobody else should either.

In fact, there are very few members of the Bush Administration that should be appearing on Meet the Press or Face the Nation or any of the other shows, particularly on matters of foreign policy. Cheney and the rest weren't just wrong about damned near everything, they actually started a war under false pretenses. They presided over the worst terrorist attack on our country since Pearl Harbor.

Cheney says President Obama lacks credibility? A thesis on all the reasons Cheney has no credibility would fill pages and pages so lengthy that no one would read it, so I won't bother. I just had to say to the powers that be, and the universe in general, could you please keep this increasingly creepy man off of my TV, and out of the spotlight? Thank you.


Cheney Backs NSA Spying; Calls Snowden A Traitor, Says Obama "Lacks Credibility"

CHRIS WALLACE: What do you think of Edward Snowden?

DICK CHENEY: I think he's a traitor. I think he has committed crimes in effect by violating agreements given the position he had. . .

Read more (but I'm not gonna) at: Real Clear Politics

Glenn Beck, Doomsday Prophet

Schtick or the real thing? Image from
There is a whole collection of right-wing heroes that defy description, and are probably best left without media attention to give them what they crave. But they're like catnip in the opposite way to us liberals as they are to their conservative fans. Some of them are easy to figure out. Ann Coulter is a troll, making outrageous pronouncements in order to stir up a controversy, and then she reaps the rewards. Sarah Palin is similar, but with a much shallower reserve of actual knowledge and brain power. Glenn Beck is harder to peg.

It's difficult to tell if Beck is all a show, or if he's really like that. But it's helpful to remember that Beck is an adult convert to Mormonism. That could be an act too, I suppose, to appease his wife. But if not, it might explain Beck's flights of fancy. It takes either an extremely gullible mind to be taken in by such a wacky religion as a full-grown adult, or one with rather odd neural pathways. I may be guilty of being an LDS-O-phobe, but I think if you read The Book of Mormon, and say to yourself, "this makes sense!" you might just have more than a few screws loose. And Mormons, I'm not picking on you, all religions are bananas on their surface. To convert to one in adulthood takes a mind that is not necessarily firing on all thrusters.

But Beck is a showman, so I don't know where the line is. Days ago, he was claiming his vocal chords were paralyzed, and then he was right back on his internet "radio" show, yapping away. Now, he's dragging his Mormonism out into the light, and going on about "the end times." Has the butter finally dripped off Beck''s noodles? Is this yet another ploy for attention? Or is he right?

That last question is a joke.


Citing the Book of Mormon, Glenn Beck Warns That 'We Are at the End'

Near the end of today's radio broadcast, Glenn Beck grew solemn as he warned his audience that "we are living in Biblical times."

Read more at:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Compare and contrast to the photo below. Yeah, this is
an new Superman. Image from
As a DC comics fan to nearly my infancy, I've been starved for representation in the movie adaptation realm. Yes, Batman has been amply represented, but he was never one of my faves, which has left me very little over the years. So, seven years ago when Superman Returns finally came out, I was ecstatic. I'd take him any way I could get him, and how I got him wasn't too bad. Brandon Routh looked the part, and was a decent actor. Kevin Spacey out-hackmaned Gene Hackman. And it kept the vibe of the classic Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve era.

It wasn't the best movie ever, but was far from the worst one, even if you confine yourself to the comic book world. Contemporaneous reviews back me up on this too, Superman Returns was generally well received. But the film was saddled with a lot of baggage, especially the two decades of development and expenditure leading up to it. And when it wasn't a mega-worldwide blockbuster with stellar reviews, it was recast as a flop, a failure. No.  Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was a flop and a failure. But I protest too much. I'm aware that I am in the minority in my appreciation of the 2006 film. And this many years later, I accept that 2013 was not too soon for a reboot.
C'mon, everybody, was it really so bad?
Image from

Boy howdy did we get a reboot. Spurred, no doubt, by Marvel Comics' stunning string of successes (just ignore Daredevil, Electra, Ghost Rider, The Punisher, The Punisher again, etc.), not to mention legal matters from the heirs of Superman's creators, DC and Warner Brothers got it together at last. Man of Steel is finally here, and is its own kind of Superman. And unless sales deflate on a scale never seen before, it's already on track to be one of the most successful superhero films in history. For once, the hype, the marketing, and the buildup paid off. It's a freakin' great movie.

With over $200 million spent to make it, I guess it should be really good, but look at the recent Star Trek sequel. Its budget wasn't quite that big, and did respectable business, but has been belittled and berated all over the internets as an under-performer, and a disappointment (again, not to me, I dug it). Today's blockbusters are judged as much for how much money they haul in, as they are for actually being good entertainment.

But I'm off on a tangent here. We're talking about Man of Steel, so named to align with Batman's Dark Knight trilogy. The movie is star-studded, with huge names (Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne), and lauded TV stars (Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni). It starts by creating a whole new planet Krypton, with a re-imagined origin story. It ably combines the elements from Krypton in Superman: The Movie, the John Byrne era Superman comics and the classic silver/golden-age Superman comics.  The reasons behind Krypton's eventual destruction resonate with earthly concerns of today, and the villains consigned to the Phantom Zone (as in Superman I & II) have much more back-story and motivation.

Every adaptation monkeys with the "S" shield, none get it right.
This is one of the better ones, though.
Clark Kent's arrival on earth and growing up years are wisely mostly confined to flashbacks, in nice little nugget-sized factoids, woven adeptly into the story. Since almost everyone already knows about Clark Kent, Ma & Pa Kent, and the rest from Smallville, other TV shows, movies and seventy-five years of comic books, a more through story is unnecessary. Thank you, movie gods! The back-story leading up to the meat of Man of Steel does a good job of showing us how he got here, how he grew up, and where we are now, without belaboring any of it. And it manages to shed all of the Donner/Reeve years while doing so. With beefy, very different looking Henry Cavill playing Clark/Superman, it really does feel brand new. Even the costume (which is updated quite a bit) is given a reason for existing that is far and away better than any previous adapation. The Movie tried, with Marlon Brando's S tunic, but this movie got it right.

Given all of the fan mockups of Jusstice League posters
online, there are high hopes in fandom
land that Man of Steel begets lots of DCU movies.
Image from
Once Man of Steel gets going, it really gets going. Previous Superman movies are going to look like high school stage productions in retrospect, after this one. It really looks like super beings pummeling the stuffing out of each other. There's a little to complain about here, if you--like me--have a little difficulty following fast-paced battles in movies. It wasn't like Lord of the Rings, where there are hundreds of participants (I couldn't deal with it, sorry), so I managed. But there is a lot of whiz-bang here. Not to mention a lot of destruction. You thought The Avengers knew how to destroy a city? Well Smallville got a lot smaller, and Metropolis is going to be rebuilding for years.

If I had any other complaint about the movie, it would be one abrupt transition in the film. The bad guys are really making a mess, and things look bad. Supes is getting his clock cleaned. Then, all of the sudden, the good guys have a plan, and put it into action. There felt like there was a scene missing there. But at 2-1/2 hours long, they must have needed to speed things along. Ultimately, I left the theater feeling that it was the best Superman movie ever made. It topped Star Trek: Into Darkness (which I loved), comparatively speaking. And it made me excited at the prospect of more in the series, more in the DC Universe, and a hope for a Justice League movie!

This is a Superman I want to see again, whether he's called Man of Steel, Last Son of Krypton, Man of Tomorrow or just plain Superman. Oh, and as minor character Carrie Farris (awfully close to a Green Lantern character name) says at the end, "he's kinda hot." Perhaps the understatement of the year.

My grade is: A - Highly Recommended

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Over Time with Bill Maher, June 14, 2013

Things are getting messy with the NSA and other "scandals" coming out of DC! Liberals find themselves aligned with conservatives, and against people who are usually on their own side. It makes shows like this one interesting, to say the least!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Captain Obvious: Mediaite Has a Little Hyperbole Problem

Some time ago, Jon Stewart lamented the language of blogs and opinion columns, and how one side is always "eviscerating" or "pummeling" their opponents, at least in the headlines. And I'm sure that in my six-plus years of blogging, I've been guilty of it, possibly more times than I'm aware of. But I can tell you, you won't find a front page on this blog, with this many examples!

These headlines are all from one evening's front page at Mediaite, the linchpin of the web empire started by Dan Abrahms. In his Wikipedia entry, he claims that Mediaite is about "appreciating the celebrity of the media." Managing Editor Colby Hall noted that it "plays into the vanity of these individuals" without being "over-snarky or mean and nasty." Maybe. But just look at these headlines (words in red by me), just from the late June 14, 2013 edition.

  • Maher Savages ‘Cryptkeeper’ Congressmen: ‘When Did We Become This Weekend At Bernie’s Government?’ 
  • Late Night Host Trashes ‘Racist, Child-Killing Coward’ Zimmerman, With Help From Chris Rock 
  • Maher Rips Apart Patrick Kennedy’s Anti-Pot Crusade: You Sound Like ‘Nancy Reagan In 1983′ 
  • Monica Crowley Slams Dem. Activist: Obama Can’t Face Press Because That ‘Only Works If You’re Not Guilty’ 
  • Maddow Blasts Rick Perry’s Bill To Save ‘Merry Christmas’ In Texas: ‘Christmas Is Merrily, Rick Perryily Protected’ 
  • Maher Tears Into Panel Over Syria: Obama ‘Looks Like A Pu*sy’ For Obeying Bill Clinton
  • Out Of Bounds: MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts Attacks GOP’er’s Teen Kid For ‘Racist Crap’ That ‘Trickles Down’ From Dad 
  • Kirsten Powers Brutalizes Elitist Politicians And Media Defaming Snowden In Column 
  • Al Gore Tears Into NSA Defenders: ‘We Don’t Do Dial Groups On The Bill Of Rights’

What's left?  "Disembowels?" "Tears a new asshole?" "Rips off the head, and shits down the neck of?" Or maybe they've used those?

You can see if they're still doing it at:

Dipping a Toe into FOX News, It Hasn't Changed

FOX "News" has pretty much been banished in my household by the Other Half. I can get away with FOX "News" Sunday--since that is on regular FOX TV, I usually zip through it on DVR, and frequently turn it off before it even ends--but the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly are effectively banned.

Not that I ever liked them, oh no. I considered it opposition research; basically just a way to keep tabs on what the wacky Right Wing World is up to. Occasionally, when the Other Half is away, I'll sneak in a show, just to see what they're saying. Friday's experiment consisted of part of On the Record with Greta Van Whatsername and The O'Reilly Factor. On Greta's show, things were exactly as I remembered them: Greta running exceedingly rightward-canted segments, interviewing heavily-skewed rightward-canted panels, and short of a few leading questions, staying somewhat above the fray. I suspect that she's in it for the dough. But I was not hit with anything I wasn't expecting.

The Factor was a different story. Bill-O was away this week, so there was a blonde lady in his chair, and oh, what an unpleasant woman! The picture you see here is what she looked like through almost all of the episode, either a scowl-frown or a snarly smile. I'm wondering, "who is this woman?" Most of the blonde foxbots are a little more pleasant, even if they're basically chewing over the same material! And though O'Reilly's motto of "The No-Spin Zone" has always been as laughable as "Fair & Balanced," it would be a bald-faced lie, applied to this lady.

Monica Crowley is her name, I found out later. Virtually the entire show was about SCANDALS! Specifically, President Obama's second term scandals, such as they are. They're still peddling Benghazi, still harping on each of the scandal-ettes that have cropped up since, and hammering them home. To be fair, so was Greta, and based on the advertising on both shows, so is the rest of the network. Apparently, all the time. There was some push-back from the token "liberal" guests, but they were summarily dismissed, and the thick layer of contempt was practically visible. While I found Greta's show to be a bit groan-worthy, I found Crowley's version of The O'Reilly Factor to be so over-the-top, it was practically parody.

And while the Democrat the article below highlights was perhaps not the best defender the President could have had, I have to ask, who was he? Dick Harpootlian? Who? Yet, I'm sure he's held up as balance. Harrumph. Sure, this experiment was not on one of the FOX "News" hard news programs, but one of the opinion ones. I've found little difference in my sampling over the years. I can say this, I can't imagine--even if my sympathies were with conservatives--that I could enjoy watching this stuff all the time. It's no wonder tea baggers are always so frothing mad about something.

Monica Crowley Slams Dem. Activist: Obama Can’t Face Press Because That ‘Only Works If You’re Not Guilty’

O’Reilly Factor guest-host Monica Crowley fought with former South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian Friday night over whether the mess of scandals around the Obama administration is destroying the president’s credibility or merely distracting the right from policy. . .

Read more at: Mediaite

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sarah Palin Once Again FOX "News" Paid Contributor

Moving from "hot librarian" to foxy granny? Maybe?
Image from source, LA Times.
I said in a recent post (regarding a kerfuffle between Sarah Palin and Bill Maher) that Palin's status as a right-wing hero is a mystery to me. She's not well spoken, at least not if you're a fan of grammar, diction and sentence structure. She hasn't shown herself to be particularly informed, or terrifically adept at deductive reasoning. Her accomplishments are fairly few, all things considered. She quit her job, which she was elected to do, in order to cash in on her sudden fame. Her family is like a cross between the Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo. All I can figure is that she's kind of pretty, gives a rootin' tootin' (prepared) speech, and knows how to rile up a conservative crowd with red meat.

Which, of course, makes her perfect for FOX "News." They are not re-hiring this woman for her smarts, nor her accomplishments, nor her wealth and breadth of knowlege. They're re-hiring her for her cult of personality, and that's pretty much all there is to it. The proof of that, is that she's also going to have a presence on the low-rated FOX "Business" Channel. What in the world does Palin have to do with business news?


Sarah Palin returns to Fox News Channel as a commentator

Sarah Palin and Roger Ailes have evidently made up. Sarah Palin returns to Fox News Channel as a commentator The former Alaska governor will return as an on-air commentator on Ailes' Fox News Channel next week, the network announced Thursday. She'll also nab a role on its sister network, Fox Business Network. The move comes as a surprise after Palin's abrupt exit from Fox News early this year. The onetime GOP vice presidential pick disappeared from Fox after reports of tension between her and network boss Ailes, who according to a magazine article had privately dismissed her to associates as "stupid. . ."

Read more at: Los Angeles Times

Obama to Send Arms to Syrian Rebels

Image from source, Huffington Post.
And folks, we have yet another topic where your humble blogger will admit to having no position per se. I mean, the words in this article make me a bit uneasy, a bit queasy. But I can't say I know the ins and outs of this one. Of course, I think I'm in pretty good company on that. Check this out, let's get up to speed together.


Obama Authorizes Sending Weapons To Syrian Rebels

President Barack Obama has authorized sending weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time, U.S. officials said Thursday, after the White House disclosed that the United States has conclusive evidence President Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons against opposition forces trying to overthrow him. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post
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