Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jon Stewart's Response to the State of the Union. . .Response

Brilliant and funny, per usual.


In Case You Missed It: Libido Woman (Another Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

Busy evening, so not much time to blog. As usual, when I have little time, I can usually find a Rocky Mountain Mike song parody that I haven't run before (where he finds the time, I have no idea). And so it is with this one, a riff on Mike Huckabee's extra-creepy "Uncle Sugar/women's out-of-control-libido" statements, to the tune of ELO's Evil Woman. Thanks for saving my bacon again, Mike!

 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rachel Maddow's Bizarre Interview with Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Post-SOTU

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) was interviewed by Rachel Maddow after the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. At issue was a tweet by the Congressman criticizing President Obama's recognition of a wounded serviceman. Huelskamp puts the tweet in context as a tit-for-tat with the White House. . .and then wanders all over the place, from talking point to talking point. While being insulting to Maddow, confusing in general, and just. . .well, watch for yourself.
 

Obama's 5th State of the Union Address

Image from source, MSNBC
If you're counting on your fingers (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)*, you can be forgiven for thinking this was the sixth SOTU for President Obama, but the first one is the inaugural address. But whatever, as these things go, it was a good speech. There were memorable moments, nothing particularly controversial, some strong, firm words but little to throw Right Wing World into a tizzy (beyond. . .you know. . .usual). It was okay.

The things I like--Obama's acknowledgement that he's going to have to do as much as he's legally able to do himself, and without Congress--is one of the things the right wouldn't like. They're calling him an "imperial" president, apparently forgetting the Bush/Cheney years completely. But what else is the man to do with an intractable, do nothing Congress? Good for him.

*And, sidenote: Wow. Hard to believe that we're that deep into the Obama era, isn't it? This blog was started in nearly the same part of the Bush Era. Time flies.

[Excerpt]

Obama: Time for Congress to get out of the way


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

 
It took more than 6,840 words. But President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress really boiled down to one anodyne message: I have led—and so can you! The central theme of the address was familiar: Economic opportunity has eluded too many ordinary Americans despite the progress the country has made so far. And Obama made special mention of the long-term unemployed, making the case once again for extending federal benefits. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

Free Turd (Another Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

It would seem that though the GOP/Tea Party is against the Affordable Care Act, they have difficulty articulating a plan to replace it. Rocky Mountain Mike rightly considers their collective plans "turds," and brilliantly put it to music to the tune of Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is FOX "News" Dying?



One can only hope!

[Excerpt]

Frank Rich: Fox News Is Dying

. . .In truth, Fox News has been defeated on the media battlefield—and on the political battlefield as well. Even the 73-year-old wizard of Fox, Roger Ailes, now in full Lear-raging-on-the-heath mode as ­portrayed in my colleague Gabriel ­Sherman’s definitive new biography, "The Loudest Voice in the Room," seems to sense the waning of his power. The only people who seem not to know or accept Fox’s decline, besides its own audience, are ­liberals, including Barack Obama, whose White House mounted a short-lived, pointless freeze-out of Fox News in 2009, and who convinced himself that the network has shaved five points off his approval rating. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

New Yorkers Beg Sean Hannity Not to Leave

Sean Hannity isn't very bright. Or at least his on air persona isn't very bright, it may be a Colbertian character that he plays. Last week, taking fake umbrage at New York Governor Cuomo's dismissal of far-right politics, Hannity (hugely overacting) threatened to leave the state as soon as he can. Which--as Jon Stewart notes in the bit from the excerpt below--should be anytime he wants, it's not like he's Snake Plissken.

But leave it to The Daily Show to take this moron's moronic pronouncement, and turn it into comedy gold. . .with singing and dancing! Inspired.

[Excerpt]

Stewart Finds Minority NY’ers Who’ll Stop Being Minorities So Hannity Will Stay
 
On Monday, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart took on the controversy surrounding comments made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who suggested that far-right conservatives running for office are not welcome in the Empire State. Noting that Fox host Sean Hannity pledged to leave the state as a result of those comments, Stewart worked out an innovative way to convince the conservative broadcaster to stay in New York. . .
 
Read more (with video) at: Mediaite

MSNBC Shakes Up Daytime Lineup

Young Blue Eyes. Image from source, Huffington Post
I don't catch a lot of MSNBC's daytime lineup, except for what would be considered "afternoon" programming sometimes on Fridays, when I'm off. I liked Thomas Roberts if I caught him. So, MSNBC's decision to shake up its programing doesn't affect me much. But even if I did watch more often, since all of their time slots are geared toward Eastern Time (like all of the rest of cable news), most of it is just on too early for me to care. But before I move on, I'd like to hammer this for a bit!

Listen, media conglomerates! The entire USA is not in the Eastern Time Zone! Yes, we appreciate that you tend to run the major awards shows (Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes but curiously not the Grammys) and sports programming in real time. And there is the occasional nod to Central Time, sometimes even Mountain Time. But we in Pacific Time get a lot of ignoring! We often can't vote in live shows where viewers can call in. We get Saturday Night Live three hours later than "live." And we're in constant danger of being spoiled by accidental online surfing giving away a plot point for a show we haven't watched yet!

Anyway, my biggest loss from MSNBC's move is that Thomas Roberts got a "promotion" (which doesn't seem like much of one) to Way Too Early, which is certainly insanely too early for me. And Frank Sinatra's Woody Allen's son Satchel Ronan Farrow is getting a show that I might get to catch on Fridays. Even in the news releases, and on-air promos, only Eastern Time is given for any of the changes. So, I still have something to complain about. At least I get to watch The Rachel Maddow Show at 6pm, and don't have to jockey the DVR around prime-time, so I'll shut up now.

[Excerpt]

Ronan Farrow's Timeslot Amid Broad Shakeup

MSNBC announced a broad shakeup of its daytime schedule on Monday. Chief among the changes are the confirmation that Joy Reid will be given a permanent show of her own at 2 p.m., and the news that Ronan Farrow will occupy the 1 p.m. slot currently helmed by Andrea Mitchell. Mitchell has been moved to 12 p.m. Hall will shift to 11 a.m. The changes will take effect on Feb. 24. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blast from the Past: The Best of Howard Jones

Coming up with a topic for Blast from the Past can be a challenge sometimes. Sometimes I like to put up something relevant to something that's going on in the world. Other times, I get on a multi-part theme, or something from my day just gives me that a-ha! moment. Today is one of those days where inspiration was lacking just a bit. And on those days, I try to think of a subject I haven't done before (or I put up a rerun).

Rumor has it, one of my cousins had sort of a
super-groupie fling with Mr. Jones. Yeah,
they had a thing. . .goin' on. Allegedly.
I've featured several artists from the past that seemed to get locked into a period of time, and never seemed to get a comeback vehicle or a second wind. Howard Jones is one of those artists, at least as it pertains to the American singles chart. And if you asked most people--even some who were the right age for it in the 80s--they may not know who Jones is. Part of that might have something to do with his generic sounding name. Or maybe he just wasn't flashy enough in the day-glo 80s. Funny, I even seem to remember him in blacks and whites! But the truth is, Howard Jones had quite a number of hit songs, and they're quite enjoyable. Keep in mind also, that in his heyday, you could have familiar tunes on MTV and video shows, and also gather a following as an "alternative" act. Consequently, a song that got a lot of play might come in low on the chart. Anyway, I think it's time for a revisit. Not to mention, past time for a comeback.




1. New Song (#27, 1983)
2. What is Love? (#33, 1983)



3. Like to Get to Know You Well (#49, 1984)
4. Things Can Only Get Better (#5, 1985)



5. Life in One Day (#19, 1985)
6. No One is to Blame (#4, 1985)



7. You Know I Love You. . .Don't You? (#17, 1986)
8. Everlasting Love (#12, 1989)

And then, not much of anything. Not to insult Mr. Jones, I'm sure he has had plenty of things to do, I just wish he'd done it in hit songs!

And that will do it for this weekend. Happy Monday, everybody.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Over Time with Bill Maher, January 24, 2013

Adam Scott's Latest "Greatest Event in Television History": Bosom Buddies

In the past, Adam Scott--of NBC's Parks and Recreation--has created masterpieces that hit right in my pop culture sweet spot. He masterminded remakes of the opening credit sequences of classic TV series, Simon & Simon, Hart to Hart and Too Close for Comfort, complete with phony (and funny) behind-the-scenes "making of" documentary footage. And somehow, though this stuff is right up my alley, I keep being a bit behind the eight-ball on finding them. This time, I got it just a couple of days late though. So if you haven't already, enjoy!
 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Uncle Sugar (Another Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

Creepy Mike Huckabee's curious use of the phrase "Uncle Sugar" gets the Rocky Mountain Mike treatment, to the tune of The Archies' Sugar, Sugar.
 

The Gay Thing (Update): Nevada AG to Reconsider Brief Filed on Same-sex Marriage

Though I've yet to receive a reply to my letter from Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, I'd like to think I had something to do with her change of heart on the brief she filed to the 9th Circuit Court of appeals.  Gay Nevadans and their friends, family and supporters were aghast at Masto's brief which used extremely derogatory language, and was out of date and out of step with recent court decisions and legal actions in regard to marriage equality.

I'm hopeful that Masto has either gotten the message, or even more hopefully, that she wasn't directly responsible for some of the objectionable language. And here's hoping that her "reconsideration" leads to a reversal of her original brief. Counting on you, girl.

[Excerpt]

Cortez Masto to reconsider gay marriage brief
 
After blowback from progressives near and far, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says she will reconsider her brief on gay marriage. Amazing. Check it out. . .

Read more at: Ralston Reports

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rachel Maddow on David Letterman, Re: Sochi Olympics, Chris Christie, More

The Gay Thing: Nevada AG Defends Discriminatory Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

Nevada's Democratic Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto, is defending Nevada's state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. As a person who voted for her (probably more than once), this makes me a little flabbergasted. Masto has a reputation for standing firm for what she believes in. And apparently what she believes in is comparing gay couples' relationships to incest and polygamy. Nice.

Image from source, Washington Blade
Nevada's constitutional amendment was dreamed up by a distasteful wanna-be politician named Richard Ziser, riding the early part of the anti-gay marriage amendment wave that swept the country during the early 2000s. The amendment had to be voted on twice, two years apart, and both times passed handily, based on the utterly disingenuous campaigns waged by Ziser. Remember, this is Nevada, a state with legal prostitution, quickie weddings and quickie divorces. We have slot machines in grocery stores and the quickie mart. You can get married by an Elvis impersonator at a drive-thru wedding chapel. At at the time of the amendment votes, we had the Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire show from the MGM Grand, where the prize was a spouse. And of course who could forget Britney Spears' 3-day marriage, which occurred (annulment included) here in Las Vegas.

So, spare me the talk of the "sanctity of marriage," in Nevada. Particularly spare me any talk of sanctity or other religious terms when we're talking about civil marriage, not "holy matrimony." If there's anyplace pro-marriage equality activists have missed the boat, it was in shutting down any and all talk of religion, sanctity, blessed, holy, "God ordained," or any other such terms in a discussion about a legal contract. But I digress. . .

I'm want to do this when I get on this subject, because it personally affects me. I've been married to The Other Half for five and a half years, having tied the knot in Palm Springs when it was first legal. We are now legally married according to the IRS, and in 17 states plus Washington DC. We can drive 45 minutes to the California state line, and we're married! Back here in Nevada: roommates, under the law. And I expected Ms. Masto to be on my side.

I've written to Masto, and will post any response I get, provided it isn't merely a form letter.

[Excerpt]
 
Nevada AG invokes bigamy, incest to defend marriage ban

Ask the attorney general of Nevada about the definition of marriage, and she’ll tell you it doesn’t include the union of a same-sex couple. But in the same breath, she’ll tell you it also doesn’t include incest or bigamy either. . .

Read more at: The Washington Blade

Creepy Mike Huckabee's Sexism and. . .Creepiness

"And then Uncle Sugar touches you in your special place. . ."
Image from source, Raw Story
Ugh. You'd have thought prominent conservatives would have learned their lessons by now, when it comes to women. Instead, they keep saying very, very, very stupid things about rape, abortion, sex, sex parts, contraception, and on and on. They seem to think they're absolute experts on that whole lady business while continuing to prove that they a) don't really seem to know much about it, and b) have no clue how to talk about it without being extremely offensive. And yet, they keep doing it!

But let me say, even though what Huckabee says is indeed racist, and I understand that the following phrase is part of his regular schtick, this man saying "Uncle Sugar," is like the creepiest thing ever.

[Excerpt]

Huckabee: Dems say women ‘can’t control their libido’ without birth control from ‘Uncle Sugar’
 
Mike Huckabee says Democrats make women feel helpless to control their libido by offering government-sponsored birth control. The onetime presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor told the Republican National Committee during a speech Thursday that they can’t allow liberals to frame the debate any longer. “I think it’s time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a ‘war on women,’” Huckabee said. “Because the fact is, the Republicans don’t have a war on women. They have a war for women. . .”

Read more at: Raw Story

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Right Wing World: Conservative Hero Ted Nugent's Racist, Sexist Rant

I've lamented many times in this space about the sheer oddness of conservative heroes. From Sarah Palin to Joe the Plumber to the cast of Duck Dynasty, they are a cavalcade of oddities, with a wide streak of barely veiled (and sometimes naked) racism, sexism, homophobia, you name the prejudice. Usually denied, but patently obvious. Occasionally, they'll go too far, and offer a soft apology, and sometimes even then with a bit of a twist. Most often, they double down, claim "freedom of speech," and their fans love them more for it.

Ted Nugent is one of the odder ones, and one of the "nakedly" offensive variety. For all of Right Wing World's outrages against liberals and the "Hollywood elite" should they say or do something that lights up the news cycle, Ted has gotten support by people like Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity, even when Ted's offenses are usually far more offensive. The question is, will they back him up this time?

Image from source, Mediaite
[Excerpt]

Ted Nugent: President Obama a ‘Chimpanzee’ and ‘Subhuman Mongrel,’ Hillary Has ‘Spare Scrotums’

Self-professed fecal draft-dodger Ted Nugent, who is not racist because he profits from black music, was interviewed by Guns.com at the almost-aptly-named SHOT Show 2014 about a variety of topics, and had a few more choice words for President Obama, whom Nugent once said (from a distance) should “suck on my machine gun.” Toward the end of the interview, Nugent referred to the President as a “subhuman mongrel” and a “chimpanzee,” while also asserting that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has “spare scrotums. . .”

Source (with video): Mediaite

Target Workers Better Off with ObamaCare?

Image from source, ThinkProgress
This is already shaping up to be a bad year for brick-and-mortar department stores across the country. While I'm sure the right (hi, Dan!) will say this is just a fact of life in "Obama's America," the fact is, we shop differently than we used to. Other than some after-Christmas shopping for each other at Kohl's at steep discounts, The Other Half and I buy almost everything online these days. And for all the worries people have about identity theft online, we all saw what happened at Target, right? That was in person shopping there.

Target is having a bad year, obviously, and along with closing some stores (much like JC Penney, Sears and others), they're going to stop offering insurance to their part-time employees. And this--I'm certain--will be a major issue for conservatives (hi again, Dan!). But is it a problem? Is it possible that these workers might get a better deal on the healthcare exchange? Maybe so. . .

[Excerpt]

Why Target’s Part-Time Employees Will Be Better Off Under Obamacare

Chain retailer Target announced on Wednesday that it will stop offering health insurance to employees who work less than 30 hours per week, instead sending these workers to Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces to buy new plans. The announcement was quickly picked up by conservative outlets as proof that the health law is giving workers short shrift. To the contrary, these part-time workers will most likely be better off under Obamacare plans, and Target’s decision to shift the employees into the marketplaces is definitive proof that the health law is doing exactly what it’s intended to do. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Former VA Gov. McDonnell and Wife Indicted

Image from source,
Wonkette
Well, Governor Vaginal Ultrasound is finally getting his comeuppance. Odd that they had to wait for his term to be over, but whatever. Since his catalogue of crimes is kind of dry, here's the most entertaining summation I could find. Sorry Bob! But it's better than having gone down with the Romney Campaign ship, isn't it?

[Excerpt]

Virginia Ex-Gov Bob McDonnell Indicted For Being The ‘Alleged,’ Whatever, Griftiest In All The Land Read
 
We hope former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell enjoyed the ten days off since his term ended since he now will spend the immediate future trying to avoid a stretch in the pokey. That’s because old Grifter Bob and his wife Maureen were indicted by a federal grand jury on 14 counts of corruption. Hey, at least he got something for his corruption besides the nihilistic sensation of being a sneering asshole sticking it to a political enemy. Chris Christie must be wiping copious amounts of sweat from his massive Neanderthal brow now that we’ll all be focused on another corrupt Republican governor for a day or two. . .

Read more at: Wonkette

Shameless Gossip: Penny Marshall & Carrie Fisher Lovers?

 
I don't know how to react to this! Now surely, you see that this filed under Shameless Gossip, so it could be total crap. Nothing but a story wrapped around a cute picture. But wow, what if? Laverne & Leia? Does Cindy Williams know? Will she insist on equal billing? I'm just. . .wow.

Image from source,
Kenneth in the (212)
[Excerpt]

Penny Marshall and Carrie Fisher Are Lovers -- Report

In a gay bombshell, a source says former “Laverne Shirley” star Penny Marshall plans to come out of the closet and declare she’s a lesbian! What’s more, the beloved 70-year-old actress-turned-director will be supported in her announcement by her longtime girlfriend – actress Carrie Fisher, 57, of “Star Wars” fame, the source adds. . .

Read more at: Kenneth in the (212)

Ultimate Income Inequality: 85 People as Rich as Half the World

When the question of income inequality comes up, I don't know what to say about it. I mean, when you hear that the Walton family--who inherited their fortunes--combined are worth the same as the bottom forty-two percent of Americans, you know in your gut "that's f**ked up right there." But just the same, what in the world could be done about it? In a capitalist society, what in the world can you do? Of course, it's complicated by the fact that the Waltons didn't exactly follow old man Sam's example of "Made in America." And they fight organized labor and any effort their employees make to improve their own fortunes.

That's the hardest bit to swallow. America's richest people--mostly older, white folks--often spend their time and money squeezing even more money out of the system. Fighting minimum wage laws, angling for lower taxes, subsidies and governmental special treatment. Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers and others like them inject themselves into politics for the sole purpose of enriching themselves even further, usually at the expense of the poor, the working and the middle classes. What a person or people with billions of dollars needs with additional billions, I have no idea. It proves that greed is boundless.

And still, I don't know if there's any kind of answer to be had. It doesn't help that it's just been determined that eighty-five people on this Earth have the equivalent net worth of half the world. Other than a few noteworthy philanthropic billionaires like Bill Gates and William Buffett, you can bet most of them expend a lot of effort amassing yet more money.

[Excerpt]

There Are 85 People Who Are As Wealthy As Half The WORLD, Oxfam Reports

Worldwide economic inequality is looking rather bleak these days, according to a new report by relief organization Oxfam. Oxfam's "Working For The Few" report looked at Credit Suisse's "Global Wealth Report 2013" and Forbes' list of the world's billionaires from 2013 to conclude that 1 percent of the global population controls half of the world's wealth. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Gay Thing: Oregon Rules Against Homophobic Bakery

The case of the Oregon baker (along with other bakers, reception hall renters, florists, photographers, etc.) who refused service for a gay couple has been a favorite topic for anti-marriage equality types. They're amazingly wrong in most of their arguments, and not just subjectively, but empirically. They are--typically--knee-jerk reactionaries, and under the illusion that their "religious liberty" is somehow threatened by cases such as this, and that Christians in America are some kind of persecuted minority. It's ten kinds of stupid.

But let me just address this particular case with some quick points that these folks gloss over or flatly refuse to discuss:
  • Oregon--though it now recognizes same-sex marriages from out of state--did not at the time either perform or recognize such marriages. So this case is not about "gay marriage" at all, because there wasn't a legal one in the first place.
Does this guy own just one t-shirt? Image from source, Joe.My.God.

  • Wedding cakes, the product in question, are not used in wedding ceremonies anyway, they're used in receptions, the party after the wedding. Receptions are almost never religious in nature.
  • Civil marriage isn't holy matrimony. It's not religious at all unless the participants wish to include religion in it. It is a legal contract, and is usually quite serious to the spouses and families, but it is not sacred. Sacred is a religious term, not a legal one.
  • Many businesses sell or rent their products and services for weddings and receptions. Bakers are not materially different from tuxedo renters or dress sellers. The suggestion that a cake baker is "participating in" or "celebrating" or has "anything whatsoever to do with" the events the cakes are for is as insane as a tuxedo renter worrying about how his customers are going to party in their tuxes.
  • A business is not a person, and has no "religious beliefs" or "religious freedoms."
  • Public accommodations laws apply to many classes of people, in some areas, gays included. You don't get to say "whites only," and you don't get to say "no gays."
  • A person working in the wedding/formal event industry is 100% likely to have his or her products and services used in some event or activity that isn't in line with their own beliefs. This is truly a case of "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

There are more bullet points I could list. Lots more. And while cake is a fairly frivolous thing to get all agitated about, this one really fires me up, because of the lengthy list of either untrue or just stupid arguments from the other side. Think, people!

[Excerpt]

Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated same-sex couple's civil rights when it refused to make wedding cake, state finds

State labor investigators have determined a Gresham bakery violated the civil rights of a same-sex couple when it refused to make a cake for the women's wedding. The Bureau of Labor and Industries said Friday that it has wrapped up its investigation into Sweet Cakes by Melissa. . .

Read more at: Joe.My.God.

Rachel Maddow Fires Back At Christie

Image from source, RawStory
Over the years, whenever a public figure has complained about FOX "News," they're met with a firestorm of poutrage from the right-wing blogosphere, and often by right wing talk radio hosts and FOX pundits themselves. Beyond an obligatory defense of the FOX "News" operation and its journalistic integrity (ha!), they'll then call it whining, and blaming the messenger, and call it a weak excuse and on and on.

But just as Chris Christie and his administration has been embodying Right Wing World's every bullet-list item that they dislike about President Obama (or rather, the cartoonish version of Obama they imagine exists), now there's the excuse that this is all the fault of MSNBC!

Now, it's true that MSNBC--Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki in particular--is responsible from turning this from a local to a national story. But there's meat (and fat) on this bone, and there keep turning out to be more bones! Christie may not like it, but this isn't one of those faux controversies, conspiracy theories or out-of-context outrages that FOX specializes in. And it's pretty weak as an excuse.

[Excerpt]

Rachel Maddow to Chris Christie’s administration: You want a piece of me?


 
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow responded on Monday to accusations by members of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) staff that her network is out to get him, pointing out that Christie’s administration has still not explained the September 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that has led to several Christie appointees being subpoenaed. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Non-troversy: Obama Says Pot Less Harmful than Alcohol

I can't figure out the problem here. I thought this was a fact that was self-evident. Alcohol is clearly a more dangerous (though socially more acceptable) drug. Where's the controversy?

[Excerpt]

President Obama Says Pot Is Less Dangerous Than Alcohol For The Individual Consumer

In an interview published Sunday by the New Yorker, President Obama said pot is no more dangerous than alcohol — and that marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state is an “important” move towards a more just legal system. “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Obama told reporter David Remnick. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” In fact, the president went on to admit pot was actually less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. . .”

Read more at: Think Progress

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blast from the Past: Nonsense Lyrics

Originally published 08/14/11 (So, clearly, my iPod prediction has not come to pass) ---

This edition of Blast from the Past was inspired by my daily 4-mile walks, listening to Pandora on my mobile phone (I predict the death of the iPod in short order). While walking alone, it's very easy to get lost in the lyrics of a song, and you find out. . .hey, some lyrics don't make much sense.

I'm not talking about intentional nonsense (Obladi, Oblada), or songs with made up words (Sussudio). I'm talking about songs that sound like they're telling a straight-ahead story with their lyrics, but are nonsense when read aloud. The song I happened to hear that tripped off the subject in my head was by Roxette, the Swedish group of the 1990s. And perhaps we can chalk up the word salad to a bad translation. Here is a portion of Joyride, a hit from their second album: "She has a train going downtown, She's got a club on the moon.
And she's telling all her secrets in a wonderful balloon. Oh she's the heart of the funfair. She's got me whistling her private tune. And it all begins where it ends, and she's all mine, my magic friend."
WTF, Per and Marie? Is that supposed to mean something? And some of their other songs were just as awkward.


Now, from the same time period (ish) we come to Savage Garden's I Want You, a fun little peppy number. And I suppose the lyrics are intended to be gibberish. If so, they succeeded: "Anytime I need to see your face I just close my eyes And I am taken to a place where your crystal mind and Magenta feelings take up shelter in the base of my spine Sweet like a chica cherry cola."

But these are minor offenders. Two groups embody the nonsense lyric like no other to my pop-culture knowledge. Sugar Ray ranks second only because they had a more abbreviated career than the all-time champs, who we'll come to in a second. Sugar Ray's first hit was the made-for-radio Fly, a hit that was omni-present in 1997. It's a pleasing pop music confection, and it is utterly indecipherable: "All around the world statues crumble for me, who knows how long I've loved you, everywhere I go people stop and they see, twenty-five years old my mother God rest her soul."



And Sugar Ray never got much clearer than that. From Someday"Some say better things will come our way, no matter what they try to say, you were always there for me. Some way, when the sun begins to shine, I hear a song from another time and they fade away." Um, yeah.

But the all-time champ-een nonsense lyrics singers are 80s faves Duran Duran. As far as I can tell, they've never sung a hit song that made a lick of sense. Here, their first big hit in the USA was Hungry Like the Wolf. Can you decipher this? "In touch with the ground, I'm on the hunt I'm after you. Smell like I sound, I'm lost in the crowd. And I'm hungry like the wolf. Straddle the line, in discord and rhyme. . ." The whole song reads that way.



But they were just getting started. How about these New Moon on Monday lyrics: "Shake up the picture the lizard mixture, with your dance on the eventide. You got me coming up with answers, all of which I deny. I said it again, could I please rephrase it. Maybe I can catch a ride. . ."

Sure, okay.  Or how about The Reflex: "You've gone too far this time. But I'm dancing on the valentine. I tell you somebody's fooling around with my chances on the dangerline. . .The reflex is an only child he's waiting in the park. The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark."


And we can keep going with this. In Union of the Snake, Simon Le Bon makes no more sense than in any of the above: "Telegram force and ready. I knew this was a big mistake. There's a fine line drawing my senses together, and I think it's about to break. If I listen, I can hear them singers, voices in your body coming through on the radio." But I think you get the idea.

So with that, I'll wrap, and call it a weekend. Happy Monday, everybody!

Saturday Night Live Returns with New Cast Member

SNL had a strong first episode of 2014 with host/musical guest Drake. Drake is a performer I'd never previously heard of, which is always a little weird. He's an attractive guy, and a far better than average live performer in both music and acting, so that's a win right there. And new cast member, Sasheer Zamata--added to counter a charge of a lack of diversity in the cast--turned out to be just as good, and pretty too. SNL may be ramping up to another high period (after many, many lows). Here's hoping.

 

Over Time with Bill Maher, January 17, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Did Chris Christie Drop Plans to Run in 2016?

Image from Salon.


Sure sounds like it. What do you think?

[Excerpt]

Rachel Maddow: Chris Christie may have just given up on the presidency

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) appearance in Manahawkin may have turned the tiny Jersey Shore “census-designated place” into his presidential Waterloo, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said Thursday night. “I’m not prepared to say definitively tonight that Chris Christie just announced he is not running for president,” Maddow said. “But, compare what he said with the way he usually talks about this thing, and it kind of seems today like Chris Christie announced he is not going to run for president in 2016. . .”

Read more (with video) at: Raw Story

Dave Madden, "Reuben Kinkaid" of The Partridge Family, Dead at 82

Thursday saw two TV Land deaths, with Russell Johnson ("The Professor" on Gilligan's Island) and also Dave Madden, who plaid "Reuben Kinkaid" on The Partridge Family. I was always a Brady Bunch kid, and didn't watch the Partridges as much. Nonetheless, Madden was a part of my childhood for sure, always there on our very low tech, very basic cable in the mid-to-late 70s. Madden had mastered a weird little trick, one some other actors (both "Darrins" on Bewitched, Dick York and Dick Sargent, Ted Bessell of That Girl) could do: he could move his eyebrows, and his hair seemed to move. Maybe it was a toupee, or maybe it was akin to learning to wiggle your ears, I don't know. But that's what always stuck with me.

So, while it's sad that so much of the participants in the pop culture of my youth are passing away with alarming regularity, I'm glad so many are making it into their 80s and beyond. They deserve it. RIP, Mr. Madden.

[Excerpt]

Dave Madden, of ‘The Partridge Family,’ Dies at 82

Dave Madden, a comic actor who played the child-hating agent on the hit 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family,” died on Thursday in Florida. He was 82. He died at a hospice center near his home in the Jacksonville area, his niece Mary Frances Miller said. . .

Read more at: New York Times

Russell Johnson, "The Professor" of Gilligan's Island, Dead at 89

Image from source, New York Times
I had a bit of a surreal experience today at work. While I was waiting for my computer to complete an action, I tabbed over to Facebook, which I had running in the background. From my Hollywood Babylon group was a reposting of something Dawn Wells ("Mary Ann" of Gilligan's Island) had just posted. It was the sad notice that two of her favorite people were now dead, along with a picture of herself with Russell Johnson and Bob Denver (Gilligan himself). Since Denver has been gone since 2005, the message was clear. She posted a follow-up, with more remembrance.

I looked around on Twitter, and on Google. Nothing. Nothing at all. I figured if anyone would know, Wells would, so I posted a quick (I was at work, after all) tweet and Facebook message. Later, at lunch, I checked to see if there was anything more, and of course, there was. #RussellJohnson, #TheProfessor and #GilligansIsland were all trending on Twitter. It was true. And for a brief time, I sort of had the inside track, not that it really matters.

Gilligan's Island was a staple of my childhood, when television was the three network stations, fuzzy UHF, and at some point very basic cable, that went all the way up to channel 13! Along with The Brady Bunch (by the same creator, Sherwood Schwartz), Star Trek, Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, Speed Racer and Spider-Man, Johnson's show was in heavy rotation. And of all of those shows, and all of those actors and characters, it was Johnson's Professor Roy Hinkley character that. . .ahem. . .inspired a curious attraction. I couldn't name it then, in my pre-teens, but I know it now!

RIP Mr. Johnson. Thanks for the memories.

[Excerpt]

Russell Johnson, Professor on ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Dies at 89
 
Russell Johnson, an actor who made a living by often playing villains in westerns until he was cast as the Professor, the brains of a bunch of sweetly clueless, self-involved, hopelessly na├»ve island castaways, on the hit sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died on Thursday at his home in Bainbridge Island, Wash. He was 89. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, confirmed the death. . .

Read more at: New York Times

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Gay Thing: Leading Gay Conservative Quits GOP

I've said before that I do not understand the concept of a gay Republican. I can see having some conservative leanings, I can see agreeing with some issues or concerns that are typically seen as conservative or Republican. But given the nature and state of the modern day GOP, I cannot fathom how a self-respecting LGBT person could belong to it.

A gay couple we used to hang out with were archly conservative, and fell pretty much in line with whatever FOX "News" had as their daily outrage, and the talking points. But they'd assure me that they were fiscal conservatives, but socially more liberal. Which sounds good in theory, but is another in practice. Because the GOP has shown very little propensity for actual fiscal conservatism. [story continues below]



Despite my lack of understanding, gay conservatives do exist. I've argued with a few, particularly GOProud and its Nevada affiliate RightPride. The latter seems to have faded away, and GOProud has lost its original leaders, got booted from CPAC, and has very, very little currency in the GOP itself. And now, one of those leaders has left the Republican Party itself, and rather publically.

Road to redemption? Publicity stunt? Not sure. And I'm not sure the gay community will take him, nor the right wing base care that he's gone.

Benghazi Report Doesn't Bear Out Conservative Conspiracy Theories

Image from source, MSNBC
The Senate Intelligence Committee Benghazi report is out, and it spells out a few things. One of them is that the State Department could have heeded warnings, and possibly prevented the attack. This isn't exactly new information, though it is worded in a soundbite-ready way. But that's the way these things turn out sometimes, and the point is to find where the problems were, shore up policies and readiness, and not let similar things happen in the future.

So, assign blame and criticize for that if you're going to go on about Benghazi, mmmkay? Because the rest of the stuff that's been spun and turned into various Right Wing World conspiracy theories? Bupkis. No conspiracy. No "stand down" order. No scandal beyond not preventing it from happening in the first place, which surely would mean at least a bit of blame for the cutting in funding.

[Excerpt]
 
Benghazi report: State Dept. didn’t heed security warnings

The State Department’s failure to heed warnings and requests for more security by diplomatic staff left the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, and its CIA annex vulnerable to the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks that ultimately took the lives of four Americans, according to an unclassified Senate Intelligence Committee report released Wednesday. . .

. . .Yet the report also makes clear that many of the most frequent repeated and widely accepted criticisms of how the administration handled the aftermath of the attack are false. . .

Read more at: NBC News

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bruce Springsteen & Jimmy Fallon 'Gov. Christie Traffic Jam' Parody

To the tune of Born to Run, Chris Christie gets his comeuppance from his hero Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Fallon. Hilarious.

 

Chemical Spill in West Virginia Water May Have Started Weeks Ago

Mmmmm, licorice! Image from source, ThinkProgress
The chemical spill into the water supply in Charleston, West Virginia is lending credence to criticism of the "get rid of government regulations" crowd. It's always struck me as an overly simplistic, knee-jerk kind of mantra anyway. Sure, get rid of any regulations that are antiquated or that don't work as intended. But getting rid of regulations for the sake of it? It's preposterous. Regulations exist for a reason, and in this case it is quite obvious that more regulation (and enforcement of regulations) was needed. And how perfect is it that this company is called "Freedom Industries" and that the chemical was apparently a Koch Industries product?

Of course, this isn't over. Rivers flow into other rivers, and on from state to state, affecting poor and rich people alike. And what do you bet they're already formulating an odorless version of this chemical without the tell-tale licorice smell?

[Excerpt]

Water Contamination In West Virginia May Have Started Weeks Ago, Residents Believe
 
When Rich McGervey first heard about the major chemical spill into his water supply, he immediately thought of his five-year-old daughter. “My mind starts running in reverse,” McGervey, a Charleston-based attorney, said. “She had taken a bath Tuesday night, and Wednesday night. And Wednesday night as we were going to bed, she rips up her shirt and starts scratching all over and she says ‘my whole body is itching!’ And she’s never done that before. . .”

Read more at: Think Progress

Maddow: Christie Lied About Staff’s Bridge Closure Knowledge

Pretty much.

[Excerpt]

Rachel Maddow: Chris Christie lied about his staff’s knowledge of bridge closures
 


A growing paper trail continues to implicate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) with regards to the September 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Tuesday. “The governor has absolutely and blatantly not told the truth about what was going on in his office,” Maddow said. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

The Gay Thing: Oklahoma Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Deemed Unconstitutional

Oklahoma--a redder state than even Utah--has become the latest state to have their state constitutional amendment declared un-Constitutional. Which is great. Unfortunately, actual marriages are on hold pending appeal. On one hand, having a stay in place sucks, delaying equality just that much longer. On the other, it prevents the "limbo" period Utah married couples are feeling, having had a stay put in place after a period of legality.

The potential good news is that both Oklahoma and Utah are in the 10th Circuit, which could mean a combined case, which could get this thing wrapped up a little quicker. At least I hope so. In any event, marriage equality rocks on!

Image from source, CNN
[Excerpt]

Federal judge: Oklahoma ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that an Oklahoma law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples violates the U.S. Constitution, giving yet another victory to same-sex marriage supporters. . .

Read more at: CNN

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bridge Over Big Fat Ego (Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

Chris Christie's "BridgeGate" (or Bridgeghazi, if you prefer) gets the Rocky Mountain Mike song parody treatment. Genius!
 

Blast from the Past: New! Improved! Classic Laundry Soap Commercials

I've done a lot of Blast from the Past installments, on many subjects. And though I'm pretty sure I've included soap commercials, and maybe even one or two of the selections below, I've never hit the all-time NEW! IMPROVED!!! category itself: laundry detergent. For whatever reason, in the 70s especially, Wall Street was intent on selling us improved soap for our clothes. Some of these are still with us today, and they just keep improving them!

Often, this column expounds at length on the clips featured, but I'm not sure it's necessary with this one. I mean, what can you say about soap? I'll just let the commercials (mostly) speak for themselves!

1. Calgon - "Ancient Chinese secret, huh?"
2. Oxydol Plus



3. Tide
4. Wisk - "Ring around the collar!"



5. Cheer - With a Star Trek theme, from 1969!
6. Bold - With Laugh-In's JoAnne Worley!



7. Gain
8. Era



And that's a wash! We're done for the weekend, happy Monday, everybody!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Captain Obvious: GOP Talking Points re: BridgeGate Don't Hold Up

It is obvious that in the few days since Chris Christie's "BridgeGate" scandal went national, the GOP (and the rest of Right Wing World) has been following talking points. Whether they came down from Mt. Limbaugh, were concocted by Reince Priebus, or FOX "News," somebody somewhere decided upon a counter-strategy. And that was to say that Christie gave a big press conference, where he "owned it" (debatable), and took questions. Further, they then say that President Obama has not done the same in regard to his scandals. And then they go down the well-worn list of so-called scandals, Benghazi, IRS and then they have some leeway on further scandals. Some throw in "Fast and Furious," some go NSA, others generically site ObamaCare.

But they're all on that same page as a response to Christie. In tandem with that, they'll compare Christie and Obama both being "unaware" what nefariousness people under them are up to. There are several things wrong with this line of counter-attack, starting with the very large difference between being a President and being a Governor. And it's been irritating me all day, as I've heard and read little driblets here and there, and watched some of the Sunday talk shows. So here, in no particular order, are the issues I find with the response by the GOP and Right Wing World.
If you watch FOX "News", you immediately
know this is Benghaziiiii!!!Image from Washington Post


  • The IRS "scandal" has been shown to be mostly hooey, with little-to-no connection to the president.
  • The IRS investigated political groups seeking tax exempt non-political status, from both the left and the right. Yes, they selected groups with "tea party" and "freedom" in their names, because these were political groups! They also selected left-leaning groups. Whether it was a straight-up 50/50 dragnet is up in the air, but it was not, strictly speaking, an anti-right-wing probe.
  • The real scandal with the IRS is that most of the investigated groups got their tax exempt status, even though they're clearly political groups.
  • Obama was expected by the right, to know the inner workings and details of the Cincinnati IRS office, but Christie isn't supposed to know what his closest staff is up to?
  • Benghazi was an attack on us, not a conspiracy by us.
  • The Republican Congress cut funding for security that may have affected the protection and response to the Benghazi attacks
  • The Benghazi attacks was ultimately shown to have a connection to the anti-Muslim video that was originally suspected to have been a motivator.
  • What happened in Benghazi--terrible as it was--has precedent in many foreign countries with US dignitaries, under other presidents, notably George W. Bush. Loss of life is an unfortunate fact of life in diplomacy, and while minimizing that loss is always an important goal, Republican interest in Benghazi was absent in prior years.
    I'm not nuts about drones either, but it's another
    program started in the Bush Era that the right didn't
    used to question, and it has little to do with
    Governor Christie's issues.
  • "Fast and Furious" was a continuation of a Bush-era program that was shut down after the Attorney General became aware of it, at least to my understanding. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, I'm unsure there has ever been a straight-line to the president for the program.
  • The NSA is a powerful shadowy group, and I agree that it's creepy and has too much power. But I think that's been true no matter which party or president has been in charge. And it was the post-9/11, Bush Era policies that pushed NSA even further over the edge.
  • The allegation that President Obama hasn't responded to or answered any questions about any of this seems kind of ridiculous too. He's had press conferences, interviews, and White House briefings all the way through his presidency. Not enough? Maybe, but there has not been silence.
  • Finally, all of the above (and more) have been pored over by the media, in endless, copious amounts. ObamaCare has been beaten against a rock since it was birthed, and at every step along the way. 


There has been another tactic used by the usual suspects that says this BridgeGate scandal is a lot of hot air over nothing, and they're only touting it to "get Christi," while ignoring the scandals of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. To which I say, are you freaking kidding me? Hillary has had more dirty laundry aired than almost any living political figure in the United States. And Obama has had every little scandal-ette magnified to apocalyptic proportions to fill news cycle after news cycle. The evidence for that fills the pages of just this blog alone, and I'm not terribly prolific. You'd have to be willfully amnesic to state otherwise.

New David Ippolito Song, Tea Party Anthem (I Want My Country Back)

David Ippolito--known as "That Guitar Man from Central Park"--renowned on this blog for his hilarious Tom Cruise Scares Me (Ann Coulter Scares Me) has a new song, to the tune of I Dreamed a Dream. And it's just as funny, if a little more controversial (and racy, language wise, gentle reader). I love it!

And yes, if you think you recognize him from a Cialis ad, improbably, you do.

Friday, January 10, 2014

FOX "News" Tries to Change the Story from Christie

FOX "News" is in a bit of a trick bag, news cycle-wise. They wanted to make it all about Robert Gates' Duty book (sounds like "doody" in news reports, which is hilarious). But then Bridgegate, Chris Christie's own personal scandal hit. And FOX is torn on Christie. Sean Hannity seems to despise the guy, but Christie could also be the nominee in 2016, should he survive this scandal. So, when the story broke, FOX "News" only spent the barest minimum of time on it.

But the story--which conservatives obviously hoped to spin as a trifle--isn't going away. What to do? Change the subject! Just this morning, Eric Holder announced that the federal government would recognize the marriages already performed in Utah during the short window where same-sex couples could marry. This isn't particularly noteworthy beyond the people affected. The federal government already recognizes the marriages of everyone else in the country, and these particular marriages have not been nullified by Utah, they're just in limbo. This was a clarification by the federal government, and not much more. But to FOX "News"? It's FRONT PAGE NEWS! And check out the next three, which includes BENGHAZI!!! but no Christie.

 

Breaking News: Federal Government to Recognize Utah Same-sex Marriages

Well, another new wrinkle. Only as long ago as Monday, the Utah State Attorney General said that the set would not recognize the 1000+ marriages of those Utah same-sex couples performed in the short window when it was available.  Then on Thursday, the clerks of court were instructed to complete the paperwork of those marriages that were performed but not yet filed completely. Now the federal government is saying they still recognize the marriages. Utah's case against at least that set of couples is getting weaker all the time.

[Excerpt]

U.S. to Recognize Utah Gay Marriages Despite State Stance

The Obama administration on Friday said that it will recognize as lawful the unions of 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah, even though the state government is refusing to do so. . .

Read more at: New York Times

Scandal: An Alternate Theory of Chris Christie's Bridgegate

Rachel Maddow was instrumental in bringing Chris Christie's "Bridgegate" scandal into the mainstream. She's been bringing it to light in several segments over the last few weeks. I thought that the story was interesting, but maybe not worth spending quite so much time on. Little did I know (and no wonder I'm a hobbyist blogger, and not a paid pundit). Now, Maddow's got her usual, different take on the story, apart from what the mainstream media has distilled it down to.

On the surface, it would seem that the whole thing came out of Christie's political retribution against the Democratic Mayor of Ft. Lee, New Jersey. But it's not necessarily the reason Christie's administration went after the Ft. Lee area. Going back to the date of the email exchange that began the traffic jams, Maddow has a theory on who else may have been the inspiration for the plot.

 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chris Christie Bites Off More Than He Can Chew

I know, the headline's not a perfect fit to the story, but I couldn't resist.

When Rachel Maddow started reporting on this story some time ago, I was only moderately interested. The offense itself--purposefully tying up traffic for several days in the city of a mayor who would not endorse Governor Chris Christie--seemed kind of silly. I mean, it seemed like a prank that got out of hand. But when you find out the extent of the snarl, the hours of traffic for four days, stranding kids on school busses, and preventing emergency responders from getting to their calls? It became more serious.

Ack! Dude's kinda scary up close, ain't he?
Image from source, New York Daily News
Then you have Christie first denying any involvement while belittling the charges and insulting those who would dare ask the question. There were developments along the way, and Christie said that he'd discussed the matter with his staff, and there was nothing to it. There were more developments, and more developments, and finally, the news comes out that it was Christie's office behind the planned traffic jams.

So, what did he know, and when did he know it? This guy's supposed to be an awesome leader, on top of everything. And we're supposed to believe his closest staff did this, let it blow up into a huge story, and Christie just found out? Really?

[Excerpt]

Christie’s Waterloo 
 
In the best possible light, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie built a top staff of lying thugs who threatened lives and safety to serve his political ends. If not, Christie is a lying thug himself.
Emails and text messages among his close aides made public Wednesday documented that in September they gleefully engineered George Washington Bridge lane closures to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for failing to endorse their boss’ reelection. . .

Read more at: New York Daily News

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

So, THAT Happened: Satanist Group Unveils Proposed Monument for Oklahoma Courthouse

This made me laugh myself silly. I've been saying for years, if you allow religion in your politics, you don't get to limit it to just one religion, you have to let them all in. And there are a lot of them, some--shall we say--less than mainstream. I'm sure that most of the supporters of the Ten Commandments monument are horrified by the design of this one. But I can't help myself, I find it hilarious. It was clearly designed for both reactions.
Image from source, Yahoo! News
Unintended consequences, people.

[Excerpt]

Group unveils Satan statue design for Oklahoma

A satanic group unveiled designs Monday for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol, where a Ten Commandments monument was placed in 2012. . .

Read more at: Yahoo! News
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