Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Reality Check: From Rove to Adelson to Las Vegas Water Woes

Since the beginning of this blog, I've railed against the Karl Rove anti-reality machine. I prematurely experienced schadenfreude at what I thought was the machine's demise. I lamented its reconstruction as a Citizens United/corporate-money-fueled "unstoppable force," and then had a full-fledged schadenfreudegasm when Rove himself was undone on election night. Live on  the GOP-TV that is FOX "News," no less!

It was really nothing short of amazing that Mitt Romney, right-wing talk radio, the right-wing blogosphere, the afore-mentioned FOX "News" and all of the rest of right-wing world undone by reality. They'd believed their own hype, own pundits, own predictions, own polls, own data and own bullshit for so long; breathed nothing but the air in their own closed-loop bubble, that they were stunned by the November election. Romney hadn't even prepared a concession speech, and the Romney/Ryan wives were reportedly in disbelieving tears.

"Thanks for the $150 million, bro!"      "You better watch your ass!"
Aren't these beautiful people? In an earlier time, Adelson would
have had Rove sleeping with the fishes!

Also since the beginning of this blog (and for years before), I've been a regular reader of Las Vegas City Life magazine, of the best of the local weekly newspapers. More often than not, City Life has at least three articles that hit home for me, and usually I learn something I didn't know. For instance--at what makes this a What Happens in Vegas feature--Sheldon Adelson's hilarious undoing by the Ron Paul supporters. Read on to see how Shelly's anti-reality bubble was popped by the Paulites, and other popped bubbles at the link below.


From Karl Rove to the Southern Nevada Water District, it was a year of bubbles bursting

Back in 2004, at the apex of the Bush era — that eight-year compost heap that fertilized so much of today’s right-wing gestalt — a Bush aide who turned out to be Rove spoke to The New York Times Magazine about the administration’s awareness of its manifest destiny. He introduced us to the mocking phrase “the reality-based community”…

Read more at: City Life

Hillary Clinton in Hospital with Blood Clot

Image from source, Yahoo
Alright, right-wing conspiracy theorists, you can drop the "Hillary Clinton faked a concussion to avoid being questioned about Benghazi." You looked foolish before, and only more so now.


Clinton admitted to hospital with blood clot

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been admitted to a New York hospital for treatment of a blood clot, her spokesman said Sunday. . .

Read more at: Yahoo News

Attention Lindsey Graham: Social Security Has Nothing to do With "Fiscal Cliff!"

Close your mouth, Lindsey. People are starting to talk.
I know that Republicans really, really, really want to undo FDR's "New Deal" and all, but it gets tiresome when they try to attach "Social Security reform" to manufactured crises like the "fiscal cliff" or raising the "debt ceiling." Social Security is its own separate, self-funded thing. It has nothing to do with what's going on right now. Lindsey Graham and the rest of the GOP are being disingenuous and reckless with the United States economy.


GOP Senator Lindsey Graham Takes Nation Hostage – Raise Social Security Retirement Age Or Else

As reported on Think Progress, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who represents South Carolina, would throw the country into an economic calamity that is expected to make 2008’s Great Recession look like a New Year’s Eve party if Republicans don’t get the spending cuts to entitlements they’re so desperately craving. . .

Read more at: Addicting Info

Happy New Year!

Obviously, I've been neglecting the blog over my extended holiday break. Wouldn't you? 12 days off, and only three or four with planned events? That's good relaxing time! And dammit, wouldn't you know it, there are only two days left. It's been nice, sort of like four sets of weekends bookended. And I have gotten a few things done around the house. But it's never enough, is it?

So, we head into a new year, this one with a 13 on the end, which should freak some people out. I have at least a year to wait to get such an extended break again, though we do have a couple of trips planned. The blog will get back to normal, assuming anyone is still reading it. Oh, who am I kidding, I'll be blogging regardless. It's just always the way of things that when I have (seemingly) limitless time to blog, I find other distractions! So, Happy New Year, everybody. It's almost time to get back to work.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Turkey in an Electric Roaster. . .How Hard Could it Be?

Yep, this is the one, from
This past Thanksgiving, I was at home in Ohio and assisted (kinda) my mother with the preparation. Mom has a manse, but her kitchen oddly only has one oven. But she solved the riddle of how to do a complete Thanksgiving dinner with just the one: an electric roaster. I watched as Mom took her thawed turkey out of the fridge, dropped it into a floured plastic oven bag, put a big pat of butter on Tom, popped him into the roaster and shut the lid. Three hours later, voila! Perfect, moist turkey!

I was inspired to buy one of those roasters for The Other Half this Christmas. Got it at a steep discount, no tax and no shipping from Amazon. Sweet! More than once, we'd wished we had a second oven. And more than once we didn't want to use the oven, because we didn't want to heat up the house. So an electric roaster was a perfect gift. I had to explain why it was a perfect gift when it was unwrapped, but it was well received (even by the cat).

What could go wrong?
Three days ago, I put one of our bargain frozen turkeys in the fridge to thaw, with the intent of trying the roaster today. Unfortunately, the bird was still semi-frozen this afternoon, but we fixed that with a brine bath. No problem! So, we floured the bag, preheated the roaster, put the bird in with a butter pat and lowered the rack into the roaster. . .and the bag grazed both sides of the pan and melted. Quick! Back out and onto the counter. No problem, we'll just scrub off the plastic, and figure something out.

I'd pondered this issue when I saw "don't use plastic oven bags" in the instructions, but Mom assured me it was fine. I'd pondered it again when I saw in the bag instructions that you can't let the bag touch the sides, bottom, lid or rack (what the hell else it could touch, who knows), but if you can't trust your Mom, who can you trust? Besides, it's an oven bag, and not a cheapie, but one from Reynolds. Touching the sides was 100% unavoidable given the 20-pound bird's size (the oven allegedly will hold a 24-pounder). Didn't matter. 325 degrees and the bastard melted on. And it wasn't scrubbing off either, no sir. I even tried burning it off with a butane lighter. Nothing. No dice.
Hmmm. Says "oven" and "turkey" right on the box.
I honestly have no idea how other people
manage to do this.

Ultimately, we decided to take the roaster onto the patio, plug it in, and run it on high--empty--for half an hour. We removed the (ruined) plastic bag, coated the bird with olive oil and pepper, put it on the rack, popped it into the roaster--still on the patio--at full temperature for half an hour. I'd seen that part in one of the online suggestions. Then, I dropped the temperature back to 325 for the rest of its time. As I type this, it is still out there with about half an hour to go.

The cat takes the roaster for a spin.
Will it smell or taste of roasted plastic? I guess it might, but I hope not. Will the roasting pan have a permanent splotch of plastic on two sides? I'm guessing it will at least leave a mark. I honestly wonder what good an oven bag is if it melts instantly. Do people put Turkeys in a glass dish in the roaster or something? I honestly don't get it. But my easy breezy solution turned out to be anything but. After I bring the sucker in, and assuming that goes without surprises or injury, I will update this post. Cross your fingers for me.

Not bad, right?
UPDATE: I brought the roaster in, and despite a sore back and a generally klutzy nature (not to mention hearing the fat inside sizzle as it jostled), I got the roaster into the kitchen and onto the counter without incident. Turkey Lurkey's thermometer popped, and he's a nice golden brown. He's kind of all loosey goosey too, but smells delicious. It's difficult to see (The Other Half is asleep, and I can't really turn up the lights), but the plastic may have steamed off, and down into the fat. I hope so. Of course, then it's probably permeated the whole bird, and I'll get cancer and die. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, it looks lovely.

UPDATE II:  The turkey was moist and delicious, no issues with a plasticky taste or anything. And it turns out that the plastic did mostly disappear on one side, but not on the other (where there had been more contact). In addition to open flame, I've tried scrubbing with a sponge, a metal scrubby, a plastic spatula, a metal spatula, I tried freezing it, and I tried broiling it. Nothing. My next try may be to either put it on the barbeque grill, or put it in the oven and set it on "clean." Either thing could possibly ruin the pan, but I'm that desperate! And Googling was no help either. If you happened to find this post and know how to get a cooking bag's melted corpse off of a roasting pan, please let me know!

UPDATE III: I took the racks out of our gas range, put the roasting pan insert into the oven, closed the door and set it to "clean." Problem solved.

Hobby Lobby: WTF?

Odd name for a church.
I know, where have I been, right? Well, it's Christmas vacation, darn it, and I just haven't felt like blogging. Plus, I've been catching up on some chores around this joint. Anyway. . .

I break my break for this comment on the idiocy of religious nutcases. Oh, as an atheist, I might have a slightly lower bar for what I consider nutty about religion. But really, who the hell does the Hobby Lobby management think they are? Why on earth would the owners' own religious beliefs be imposed upon their employees? And who the hell would want their boss to be the final arbiter of your contraception coverage on your health care plan? It's crazy.

It's even crazier when you consider that almost everyone uses contraception, religious or not. Listen you big dumbbells at Hobby Lobby and like-minded companies: your employees don't have to follow your religion or any religion. It's not up to you to make "moral" decisions for them. Unless you certify your business as a church, and your employees are all 100% on-board congregants, you don't have that right. And more than that, you're damaging your brand while playing to. . .who exactly?


Hobby Lobby plans to face $1.3 million in daily fines for defying contraception mandate

An attorney representing the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores said that the company intends to defy a court order that it comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s provisions regarding contraceptives, the so-called “morning after pill” and employee health coverage. According to Associated Press, the company says that it is willing to face the up to $1.3 million in fines it will accrue per day by not providing coverage for the medications. . . 

Read more at: Raw Story

Friday, December 28, 2012

How Did I Miss: Let's Have a Kiki

Image from (where else) Gaydar Radio
I was home alone on Christmas Eve. Don't feel sad, I'm married to a flight attendant, so I'm used to it. So, rather than yuletide revelry, I had Pizza Hut and a Glee marathon. Which wasn't bad. Especially since the run of episodes I had backed up on the DVR culminated with a Christmas-themed episode. Kind of perfect, and certainly fun.

It was the Thanksgiving episode that raised my eyebrows though. Usually, I'm multitasking while watching TV. I'm on the computer or doing some housework or something. But during this episode, I stopped, backed up the DVR and watched. Guest star Sarah Jessica Parker--looking for all the world like Carrie Bradshaw in a musical episode of Sex in the City--sends her New York posse over to Kurt and Rachel's absurdly large apartment, and comes in late. She calls as she's on her way, and recites an odd little soliloquy. Then, the apartment explodes in song, and the song is Let's Have a Kiki.

The song is mashed up with Turkey Lurkey Time, a bizarre choice, but it works. Totally in character for Lea Michelle's Rachel character. And I was oddly mesmerized. Now, understand that while I do have "the gay," for the most part I'm missing the musical theater gene. I'm more interested in Glee for the comedy, the characters, and the occasional song. But this one struck me as inspired.

The next day while reading my favorite blog, Joe.My.God., I saw that the number one song of the year was Let's Have a Kiki by the Scissor Sisters. Joe described the song as played out, the big song of the summer. And before Glee, I'd never heard of it. I may not have the musical bug, but I am a pop culture guru, and I'm a Scissor Sisters fan! I must be slipping. Here's the real version of the song, with a decidedly less PG vibe.

I don't know what it is about the song. It's not melodic. It's odd. But I find myself totally digging it. And wondering how it's possible that it totally got by me. I mean, I even figured out Gangnam Style before it was totally old news. But I missed out on the Kiki?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Deaths: Jack Klugman (90) and Charles Durning (89)

Ordinarily, when celebrities die, I post links to news stories that elaborate upon their passing. But in this case, with Jack Klugman dying at 90 and Charles Durning at 89, it is sufficient to say they merely passed away. Both men were always old to me, though in truth they were around my current age when I was born.  That puts them in their very early 50s when I was old enough to know who they were, and--let's face it--50 in the early 1970s was a different animal than 50 these days.

I was too young to really appreciate The Odd Couple, though we did watch it. Klugman I remember mostly for Quincy, M.E., and the occasional Dean Martin Roast. My memories of Durning are harder to peg, except for his role as the Governor who liked to "dance a little side-step" in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Doc Hopper from The Muppet Movie. But he turned up everywhere in the 1970s, 80s and beyond. They are two of those guys you may have suspected had already passed, because they were so much a part of our pop culture memories from so long ago. But they were a good part. RIP Jack and Charles.

Merry Cheesy Christmas! Last Christmas by George Michael

What's worse, that Last Christmas by Wham! is now a perennial, or that it has actually been covered by other artists as well? Oh well, I'm a child of the 80s, and will always have a soft spot for George Michael.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Christmas Conga by Cyndi Lauper

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time. "I wish you joy that never ends, happy times with all your friends!" is a good line, but the best one is Turn on the yule log, spike up the egg nog, and break those resolutions!"

Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses (1981)

You wouldn't know it now, but this song was at one time cool, maybe even a little subversive. Now, it's been remade by others, and gets played along with Last Christmas by George Michael (or others), or Do They Know it's Christmas? by Band Aid (or others), devoid of its specialness. But I still love it.

Christmas Trees & Pie (South Park)

I can't hear O Holy Night without hearing Eric Cartman of South Park singing it. I just can't.

Merry F&*#ing Christmas! (South Park)

Merry Christmas from Greenlee Gazette

It's ironic that when I have more time for blogging, I get less done. Yes, I have time off from my regular job, and The Other Half is away. But I also have my part time job to attend to, Christmas prep, and dammit, I want to enjoy some of my time off otherwise. So, here's a funny Christmas video. I'll be back later. In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Guns, The Bill of Rights, and Sensible Regulation

Image from source, DailyKos
I have found that it is nearly impossible to have a civil, rational and fully engaged conversation about guns with people who consider themselves gun enthusiasts (or gun fetishists, if you prefer). Their metaphoric defenses go up instantly if they feel that their literal defenses are threatened in any way. If any discussion about the potential limitation, regulation or registration of any element of the category "arms" are discussed, they come out. . .uh. . .guns a-blazing.  To the gun enthusiast, the 2nd amendment is akin to a holy commandment, and is separate and apart from the rest of the document it resides within.

I've never understood the passion gun owners have for either the 2nd amendment, or guns in general, but I've also never been against guns either for sport or protection. Increasingly, my stance has been difficult for me to square with the lunacy I hear coming from the far right on the subject. And when I see their hair trigger (sorry) reactions to any notion of "gun control," I find my instinctive defense (sorry) of their position harder to justify. Wayne LaPierre comes off as such an unreasonable douche, I find myself identifying much more with the counterargument.

Why must this be so? Why is there such hyper-defensiveness about the 2nd amendment? It isn't as though we don't regulate other devices, such as cars. And while it's true that car ownership isn't declared a "right" in the Constitution, it is also true that other Constitutional rights are subject to delineation, regulation and restriction. Check out this (much better written) article for an excellent deconstruction of the issue.


Driving, Drinking, Shooting

. . .So really, there's no comparison between cars and guns. Or guns and fatty foods, or guns and alcohol. There's no comparison at all. Because gun ownership is a right. . .

So, when it comes to regulating gun ownership, if anyone suggests that we should require the kind of safety, training, and personal responsibility that we demand of anyone getting behind the wheel of a car, we can say... Absolutely. Why not? . . .

Read more at: DailyKos

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Cheer: Henri the Cat's Holiday Message

It's Henri, the cat with ennui. And this time, he's got a Christmas message. With a bit of A Christmas Carol.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gun Deaths in US Top 100 After Sandy Hook

This list was so long, I had to take two screen shots,
and stitch them together. Image from Huffington Post.
(Click to embiggen)
I keep saying that I didn't used to be particularly "anti gun." But I'm getting there.


U.S. Shooting Deaths Since Sandy Hook Top 100 

The night after Sandy Hook, a gunman pulled behind a car in Kansas City's east side and opened fire, striking 4-year-old Aydan Perea in the head. The boy had just gotten into his father's car.

“He was innocent and he was just lifeless,” said the first bystander to reach Aydan. “All my life I’ve never seen nothing so devastating. I’m unable to eat, I’m unable to sleep because I see this baby in my head. . ."

Read more at: Huffington Post

Another Shooting, This Time Pennsylvania

Wayne LaPierre at his bizarro news conference.
Image from NBCNews.
It doesn't ever stop, does it? There are a lot of fruit loops loose in the country, and they all seem to know where to lay their hands on guns. This one happened simultaneously with the presser given by NRA king fruit loop, Wayne LaPierre. Great timing. Ugh.


Four dead, three police hurt in Pennsylvania shooting

Four people died on a Pennsylvania highway on Friday when a gunman shot dead three people and later was killed in a shootout with police, authorities said.

Three state troopers were injured in the incident in Frankstown Township, about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh. . .

Read more at: Chicago Tribune

NRA Blames Movies, Video Games, Culture for Mass Shootings

Though I'm known as a liberal, loony, lefty, moon bat. . .the truth is, I used to be a Republican. I won't lie to you and say I was an arch conservative, but I voted for Reagan (1984) and Bush I (in 1988). And though my conservatism wasn't deep, it took me a long while after 1992 (when I voted for Clinton, after the hatefest RNC that year) before I officially became a Democrat.  And in the eight years or so since I officially switched, I've still held on to a few conservative "values":

- English as the default language
- Not anti- but not pro-union
- Gun rights

The older I get, the more neutral I've gotten on even those issues, and as we progress into the Obama era, I'm finding myself losing my Switzerland status on every last conservative issue. I find it impossible to hold on to values that are espoused by jackasses and idiots. It becomes increasingly clear--when you see the people who hold such values, and the meanness with which they present them--that I do not want to align myself with such individuals, even if I have a modicum of sympathy for their ideals. [Story continues below]

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

Such is the case with the National Rifle Association. It has become clear that they are less about pro-2nd amendment rights for citizens, and more about unfettered sales opportunities for gun manufacturers.  The NRA was silent on our most recent shooting spree (before today in Pennsylvania, anyway) until Friday. Spokesman Wayne LaPierre finally gave a press conference (with no questions from the press, of course), a ridiculous laundry list of everything that was to blame. . .except for guns. He listed video games and movies from a generation ago, for crying out loud. American Psycho, for instance, is from 2000, and Natural Born Killers from freakin' 1994. The Newtown killer was born in 1992, dumbass!

So, the deeper we get into this, the more I'm on board with guns being on the table as we look for solutions to this problem. The retorts that a) guns don't kill people, people kill people*; b) gun laws only take the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens; c) more guns are needed to protect us against guns; d) you can't fix this problem, don't even try all sound rather hollow and somewhat paranoid and whiny to me now. I've actually heard that access to guns is a "God given right" in recent days! Really! Chapter and verse, please?


NRA blames media, music and more for culture of violence

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre blamed Hollywood, video games music, the courts and more on Friday for creating a culture of violence in the United States. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said at a Washington press event, adding, “With all the money in the federal budget can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school? . . .”

Read more at: NBC News

*Incidentally, every time I hear "Guns don't kill people, people kill people!", I think, "No, bullets kill people!"

Writing Christmas Cards Proves: I Can't Write Well Any More!

Image from Gawker
Every year, The Other Half and I send out home-made cards. I'm a graphic artist, after all, so we usually come up with something funny: American Gothic with two farmers for instance. Or one with our heads superimposed onto an old couple with their screaming grandchildren. This years we did the Saturday Night Live "D*ck in a Box" guys, for a particularly dirty one for a change. But, every year, I re-discover something about myself: I can't write well anymore. I mean the physical act of writing with a pen.

My technique vacillates between cursive, printed letters, all caps, upper and lower, and back again. I put too many humps in my Ms and Ns. . .or not enough humps. I make Os that look like lower case As. I have to retrace over letters to clarify what they are. I occasionally have to cross something out, or even rip up a card or envelope, and start over. I spend so little time with a pen and paper--outside of a few quick notes--that I just don't do it well anymore. Assuming I was very good at it in the first place!

But, I'm not the only one.


On Christmas Cards and the Death of Handwriting

Christmas cards—if they possess any utility other than excuses for networking or sleeves for staged photos and obnoxious form-letters about little Allen's success on the soccer field and getting over his chronic butt cyst—act as a kind of benchmark. Buying a box and sending some out makes you feel like you've stepped into an adult world. You have an address book. You buy stamps in bulk. You now acknowledge calendar events days before they happen. . .

Read more at: Gawker

Thursday, December 20, 2012

You're Just Going to Have to Bear With Me. . .

Sorry, kids. This is one of those nights where your friendly neighborhood blogger has had a little too much revelry. It was Christmas party number. . .I don't know. . . 3? I'm in over my head, and I have to go to bed. More stuff tomorrow, if the yuletide elves don't drag me down into the gutter again. . .


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

NBC News' Richard Engel Survives Kidnapping in Syria

Image from source, New York Times
Whew. Many's the time I've been watching NBC News' Richard Engel report on some strife in the Middle East, missiles exploding around him, and thought, that dude is going to get hurt one day. I've often thought the same thing watching Anderson Cooper in the same sorts of scenarios. Well, Anderson has experienced some harrowing events, but I doubt anything like Engel's recent disappearance. Monday, the news filtered throughout the internet--despite NBC's pleas for a blackout--that Engel and his news team were missing, and had been since Thursday. When you go missing like that in Syria, I can't imagine the odds are good that you'll turn up relatively unscathed. Thankfully, Engel and his team are okay.


Richard Engel of NBC Is Freed in Syria

Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, and his crew had sneaked into Syria before. They knew where to go, where not to go; what to say, what not to say. But last Thursday, in a demonstration of the perils of reporting from the war-torn country, Mr. Engel’s crew was taken hostage by an unknown group and told they would be used to secure the release of hostages being held by Syrian rebels. . .

Read more at: New York Times

Nate Silver is OUT Magazine's Person of the Year

Image from Out Magazine.
Number-crunching election wizard Nate Silver was, for a time, my island of sanity in the choppy waters after the first presidential debate. Remember that? Against all odds, after President Obama's lackluster performance, Mitt Romney's star started to shine. A legend was built that Romney was a-mah-zing in the debate (he wasn't), and that he had momentum (he didn't). Nate Silver was almost alone in his quiet, calm assertion: it's all cool. Yes, Romney had ticked up, but it was a ripple, not a tidal wave. Barring a game changing event, Obama would win, and win handily. The rest of the debates went well, but the punditry was all, "Mittmentum!" Nate was still serene. Ultimately, he'd predicted exactly how the election would go, to the state.

So, Nate Silver is now a star. The whole country is going to be paying attention to him in 2014 and especially 2016. I don't know what he's going to do to keep himself busy in the meantime, but for sure he can write his own ticket.


Nate Silver: Person of the Year

. . .For months in the run-up to the election, Silver, editor of FiveThirtyEight, a blog hosted by The New York Times, had been analyzing the polling data and calmly explaining, to the contempt of pundits on Fox and the gratitude of viewers of MSNBC, why Obama had the election sewn up. His quiet confidence—he bet Joe Scarborough $2,000 that the president would win re-election— attracted fans and haters alike.. . .

Read more at: Out

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Case You Missed It: Joe Scarborough on Guns

Joe Scarborough was a US Congressman for four terms before he was a cable news personality. He was one of the NRA's favorite members of Congress at the time. He's changed his mind. Check it out.

Do We Have a Deal? Obama Drops His Price for Boehner

Image from source, TPM.
Wait, I'm not sure "dropping his price" is quite accurate. Oh well, it's a decent headline. What actually happened is, the $250,000 tax hike is now the $400,000 tax hike. So everyone gets to keep the Bush tax cut on their first $400,000 in income, and then everything after that gets a new, higher rate. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that moving the goalposts was even necessary. The $250K number has been Obama's campaigning point for over four years. It polls well. So why cave to orange-faced, perpetually drunk (allegedly) John Boner Boehner? Ah, well. If it gets this stupid "fiscal cliff" business taken care of, whatever.


Obama Makes Boehner A New Offer
After meeting at the White House for 45 minutes on Monday, President Obama made House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) a new offer this evening, one that significantly bridges the gap between the two sides in hopes of reaching a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Gun Lobbyist Says Americans Should Be Prepared To Take On Elected Officials With Guns

Image from source, Think Progress
One of the weirder aspects of the series of mass shootings we've gone through, is the constant retort that if there were more guns, we'd be safer. We've already got almost as many guns as we have people, but even more will prevent those already out there from killing as many people. Aside from sounding nutty, it presupposes that teachers, movie patrons, mall shoppers and every other kind of citizen should have combat training. Not only that, but we're expected to perform under pressure, like Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson, only without a script. It's bananas.

And beneath all of this uber-armed citizenry is the odd belief that the 2nd amendment is all about rising up and taking on the United States Government. For Constitutional "strict constructionists," they don't seem to know much about history, do they? The right to bear arms wasn't to take on our government, it was to protect it and ourselves. It was also written in a time when we didn't have a standing army, nor did we have the assorted killing machines we have now. But even with AK-47s we're not capable of fighting the assembled United States Military, I don't care what delusion you've dreamed up, or what arsenal you've amassed. It's a simplistic, poorly thought out idea.


Gun Lobbyist: Americans Should Be ‘Prepared’ To Take On Elected Officials With Guns

While the National Rife Association has remained silent about Friday’s tragic shooting in Newtown, CT, Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, is arguing that Americans should bear arms to protect themselves against an ever-expanding government and elected officials. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Monday, December 17, 2012

Steven Weber: Myth Addiction

One of my favorite bloggers, actor Steven Weber, has done it again. He took what bugs me most about our gun-loving society, and put it in words I couldn't hope to match. Likening our society's relationship with guns to the town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show, Weber manages to turn a tragedy into an excellent lesson, and even manages to be entertaining doing it. That's good writing.


Myth Addiction

. . .Of course, it ain't the gun which causes the damage, it's the person wielding it (untouched, Otis's caustic rotgut was only damaging to, perhaps, the inside of the bottle in which it came). But just as culpable is an environment which consistently pardons the gun's misuse and abuse and even tacitly supports it, an environment which fetishizes, ennobles and enables it. It's the perfect environment to breed a nation of gun junkies. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Westboro Baptist Church Under Attack by "Anonymous"

This is what they do to their kids.
The Westboro Baptist Church is a motley collection of mostly related-to-each-other wackjob cult members. They exist to torment Americans of all stripes, but they are most often drawn to national tragedies. Whether it's a military funeral, a terrorist attack or a mass shooting, WBC will be there (or threaten to be), using their patented "God Hates Fags" protest signs and banners. There need not be any "gay" connection to the event, the WBC will strain to allege one. Why they focus like a laser upon a "sin" that is pretty low on the biblical prohibitions list, and which is argued even to some bible scholars is anyone's guess.

The Rev. Fred Phelps and his family are trained in law, and totally dig it if you lash out at them. They're ready to sue, sue, sue ya, baby! That may actually be their business model. And they've gotten some help from the courts of late, who have said that the WBC has first amendment protections. So, when the law doesn't work, what do you do? Well, Anonymous may have a plan. But before you watch the video, be warned that it's kind of freaky.


Hackers target Westboro Baptist Church after Newtown threat

A group attached to the online hacktivist group Anonymous claims to have hacked the Westboro Baptist Church Web site in response to plans by the controversial church to picket the funerals of those massacred Friday at a school in Newtown, Conn. . .

Read more at: CNet

Blast from the Past: All I Want for Christmas (in the 70s!)

This week's Blast from the Past features all those things kids wanted in the 1970s. The oh-so-cool things we saw in the J C Penney catalog, or on TV on Saturday mornings. The things that--if we were lucky enough to get them--we played with a few times then forgot about, then sold at a yard sale later! But they were so enticing. Kids today probably would look at most of this stuff and go, really? But we were easier to please. . .

The Snoopy Snow Cone Machine is the only one I never had, though I believe the Gnip Gnop, Operation, Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots and the Easy Bake Oven were all trash picked or second hand. The rest had a legit place in our rec room. The Lite Brite infuriated my mother, who kept finding the pegs in the shag carpeting (usually with her feet or the vacuum cleaner). Spirograph fascination was very short-lived, as was our Slinky love. SSP Smash Up Derby was fun on Christmas day, forgotten thereafter. Operation and Connect Four aren't half as much fun as they looked, and Skittle Pool was just a variation on all of the other Skittles (there were several). Of all of these, the Atari VCS (2600) was the one with the most hours of obsessiveness. I think we played ours for four or five years.

And that will do it for this week's installment. I hope Santa brings you all the toys you really want (even if they end up stuffed in a closet by New Year's). Meanwhile, have a great last week before Christmas, everybody!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Want a Gun Rights Activist to Respond to the Following

This quote is culled verbatim from one of my favorite blogs, Joe.My.God.:

"If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

"Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable. As others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t 'too soon.' It’s much too late." - Ezra Klein, writing for the Washington Post.

So, how 'bout it, 2nd Amendment disciples? Why is gun violence the one bad thing we're not allowed to discuss without histrionics from the right?

John Boehner Spends $500K to Defend DOMA

Half a mil would buy a lot of bourbon, Boehner!
Image from source, Addicting Info.
You know, it's difficult to take John Boner Boehner seriously for a number of reasons. He's orange. He cries a lot. He says things that are obviously untrue, and acts unserious and immature given his position and stature. He almost always sounds like a drunk trying so hard to not sound drunk. And then there is something like this. Mr. "We Have to Reign in Spending™!!!" is spending a further $500,000 to defend the indefensible, the Defense of Marriage Act.

DOMA is an anachronistic, badly named, obviously unconstitutional law. It was signed by Bill Clinton, who'd been painted into a corner by conservatives over his support for gay rights. Along with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), it was an uncomfortable compromise in the early nineties. Clinton has denounced and regrets both policies. DADT is now history. DOMA should be--and so obviously, one day, will be--history too.

Today, the "protect marriage" crowd clings to DOMA, knowing that's all that stops marriage equality from spreading to all 50 states. If the Supreme Court strikes it down (as I hope) in June of next year, you can be sure the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) will be on the warpath for a Constitutional amendment to "protect marriage," a smokescreen that means "prevent gay people from having equal rights." But NOM is showing their true colors lately. It is very clear that protecting the word "marriage" or even the concept is not their aim. More and more, they're bringing out their hyper religiosity and their homophobia into the light of day. And their only real tactic is delay, delay, delay. I'm convinced they know they'll lose. But their business model is to stretch it out as long as possible. What else could it be? Meanwhile, Boehner throws good money after bad.


House Republicans Secretly Approve $500,000 Increase In Funds To Defend DOMA

Roll Call is reporting that in September, soon to be former Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA) secretly approved a $500,000 increase in a contract with a private law firm to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This is the second increase in funding allocated to Bancroft PLLC and former Solicitor General, Republican Paul Clement, to spend up to $2 million to defend the law in federal court. The contract was originally set at $500,000 and was raised on September 29, 2011 to $1.5 million and again on September 28, 2012 to its current level. . .

Read more at: Addicting Info

What Happens in Vegas: Another Shooting, This Time at Excalibur

Oh, brother. Now in my own backyard? Is it contagious?


Image from
BREAKING NEWS: 2 Confirmed Shot at Excalibur Hotel

Metro Police have confirmed a shooting at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas Friday night. A female has been shot and transported to University Medical Center. The suspected gunman then shot himself, the police said. . .

Read more at: 8NewsNow

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Shooting, This Time Little Kids in Connecticut

Wow, we just had a shooting in a mall this week, and already a school shooting? And now I'm hearing that the teachers should have been armed, if it hadn't been a gun-free zone, blah, blah, on and on. And it's only considered "politicizing" a tragedy if you have even the mildest interest in discussing what could be done to prevent these tragedies. If you're pro-gun (and by that, I mostly mean the gun nuts, the fetishists), you're allowed to drone on about "gun grabbers" and whatnot, that's okay. Somehow, that's not "politicizing." [Story continues below]

Well, I'm tired of the line that nothing can be done. Guns are such an important part of America, the 2nd amendment so much more important than any other law, any other anything, we've just got to live with occasional (and much more frequent) shooting sprees? And it is particularly odd that it is conservatives who are adamant that nothing be done to make it harder to buy or own guns, or at least to track gun and ammunition buyers better. It's odd because they go entirely the other way if it is Muslims with any kind of weapons. If it's terrorism, than by golly, we'll give up all kinds of freedom and gut the Constitution to "keep us safe." Well, how are shooting sprees not terrorism? Why to we just shrug these things off a day or so after they happen?


Police: 20 children among 26 victims of Connecticut school shooting

Dressed in black fatigues and a military vest, a heavily armed man walked into a Connecticut elementary school Friday and interrupted the start of a typical school day, opening fire on two classrooms. . .

Read more at: CNN

The Hannity Man (Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

Nobody in right-wing world deserves a thorough skewering more than Sean Hannity. He's a big, dumb, hateful, humorless lummox. He's apparently the heir apparent to Rush Limbaugh should wife #5 do him in, but as much as I dislike Rush, Hannity is so much worse. Rush is in it for the money (and probably the drugs, but that's another story), and likely doesn't believe a thing he himself says. Hannity on the other hand is a dolt, belching out right-wing word salad. He's not smart enough to ponder the veracity of what he's saying. He's the male Sarah Palin. So, thank you Rocky Mountain Mike, for picking your target well. You couldn't possibly heap enough crap on him to make me happy, but it's a start!

The FOX "News" Guy (Who Was Punched by the Union Guy) Started It!

I've never been in a union, and have in fact had a few unpleasant run-ins with unions. So, I'm not a knee-jerk union supporter. But you know what? When FOX "News" and every tool in the right-wing shed are anti-union? It doesn't take much for me to realize where the battle lines are drawn. One tip-off is that you rarely hear the word "union" without the word "thug" closely following it, in right-wing world.

But they were proven correct the other day, when FOX "News" failed comedian journalist reporter guy Steven Crowder was slugged by a union dude. I mean, this Crowder dude was just minding his own business, milling around amongst the protestors of Michigan's rammed through anti-union law, and some thug up and punches him! For no reason! [Story continues below]

Well, not quite. The first tip-off was the abrupt edit before the punch. The second tip-off (which should really always be the first) was that this is FOX "News" we're talking about. Their stock-in-trade is running doctored videos to bolster faux outrages to stoke the anger/hatred/fear of their lowbrow watchers. Just ask Shirley Sharrod.


Steven Crowder Tent-Gate: 12/11 Was An Inside Job

Remember that awesome video of stereotypical union thug cold wailing on stereotypical Fox News douche Steven Crowder at the Michigan anti-”Right to Work” rally this week? Of course you do, it’s embedded above. Probably you watched it and were like: “I shouldn’t be laughing at this because I’m a hippy Wonketteer librul who knows violence solves nothing, but DAMN! Dude dropped Crowder like Tyson dropped Spinks. . .” 

Read more at: Wonkette

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For Those Who Still Want to Secede: GlennBeckistan!

Or if you're a Herman Cain fan, GlennBeki-Beki-Stan-Stan!. This is from the wonderfully talented Kenny Pick, often heard on The Stephanie Miller Show.

Hal Sparks' Reaction to Justice Scalia Comparing Homosexuality with Murder

Hal Sparks--if you did not know--is a very funny comedian (Charmageddon) and actor (Queer as Folk, Lab Rats). He's also a talented musician, and a progressive radio host. And though he is quite heterosexual, he's a gay rights activist, and a damned good one. Here he is on Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show, reacting to Justice Antonin Scalia's bizarre comparison of homosexuality to murder.

Anatomy of The Christmas Shoes, Revisited (Yet Again)

This is the sixth Christmas season for Greenlee Gazette, amazing as that seems to me. And though this year I haven't heard it yet, every other year, I couldn't escape the worst Christmas song in history.  It isn't possible to inflict enough derision upon the now perennial The Christmas Shoes. It's abysmal. It's horrific. It deserves far more crap flung at it than has ever been flung. So here is my effort, from the early days of the blog, to put this lame-ass song in its place. This post has appeared on the blog each of the last five years. This year, I present it again, with a few additions and changes. . .

As you head into your holidays, you are undoubtedly going to be assaulted by Christmas carols somewhere. And if you're like me, you will unwittingly overhear The Christmas Shoes by NewSong, one of the worst songs of all time.

I was inspired to write my own dissection of the song after reading "The Annotated Christmas Shoes," on the (sadly now gone) Diary of a Blood Ray (aka The B Pryde Machine) blog years ago. The first time I heard the song, my reaction was much the same as Blood Ray's. I wasn’t moved to tears. I didn’t find the song precious or heartwarming. The song actually kind of pissed me off.

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that this song was brainstormed (if you can call it that) to be as manipulative of people’s emotions as possible. I can envisioned the writers sitting down to write a sappy Christmas song, trying to pluck the heartstrings until they frayed. Now that the season is upon us, this hideous song has already started to play. And play. And play. And I just can't take it.

So, taking a page from Blood Ray (whose post I miss, and so wish I had saved), here is my own version, which I call "Anatomy of The Christmas Shoes." Because I'm dissecting this hideous beast. Put on your glasses, I'm shrinking the font because of length.

Image from Blood Ray's original post.
The Christmas Shoes by NewSong

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
OK, It sets the scene, and it’s not so bad yet. It does manage to telegraph what’s coming though.

Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Still setting the scene, but there’s the country-fried tryin’ as though "trying" wouldn’t be heartwarming enough.

Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously Here’s where my cynic antennae start going up. I’m thinking the writers picked a boy, because a girl would just naturally do something nice for her mom. So, yeah, let’s make it a boy, to make it more poignant.

In Case You Missed It: "Washington Bears" Get Married--For Real

Both pictures of Larry Duncan and Randell Shepherd from source, MaddowBlog, and (obviously),
Meryl Schenker Photography.
The picture of the two lumberjack-looking dudes getting their marriage license in Washington state was a viral internet sensation (including here). Well, in case you missed it, they actually did get married. Legally. Which is great because, hey, good for them. And it's great because they show the world at once how not everyone fits a preconceived notion, and how harmless their marriage is to society. The "protect marriage" crowd has created a straw man, a false threat. Pack it in, NOM.


Way past wonderful gets more wonderful still

Last week, we ran photojournalist Meryl Schenker's great picture of two guys in Washington state getting a marriage license in the first hours of marriage equality there. . .

Source: MaddowBlog

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michigan Gov. Snyder: "Right to Work" Law is Not Anti Union

Image from source, Mediaite
By now, we're so used to politicians lying to us, we barely notice anymore. We can watch while Newt Gingrich flips from skewering Mitt Romney in the primary, to being one of his biggest (no pun intended) supporters just weeks later. And in many of those instances, he was flipping to an opposite position. Somewhere he was lying. We'll shrug our shoulders while President Obama "evolves" on gay marriage, knowing all along that he was most likely for it all along, but being politically careful with his answers. Still a lie. This is one area where we can probably safely say, everybody does it in politics, and quibble about who does it worse.

But when it gets ridiculous is when they lie brazenly, obviously, stupidly. How Michigan's Gov. Snyder could pretend that the "Right to Work" law he signed--after it being rammed through the legislature--is pro-union, pro-worker? It's just insulting.


Morning Joe Panel Stunned As Gov. Rick Snyder Asserts ‘Right To Work’ Is Not ‘Anti-Union’

Gov. Rick Snyder stopped by Morning Joe on Wednesday following Michigan’s passage of controversial “right to work” legislation and defended the state’s move. It’s not anti-union, he said; it’s “pro-worker.” Not everyone on the panel was convinced, pressing Snyder on his assertion. . .

Read more at: Mediaite

Glenn Beck Supports Gay Marriage?

Not a live video, click source link below at TowleRoad
In a true sign that Right Wing World is wobbling on its axis (and possibly careening wildly in its orbit), Glenn Beck has expressed support--or at least lack of hostility--for same-sex marriage. Yes, I know, you're more surprised that Glenn Beck is still "a thing." Me too. But this is big news in places like Free Republic, where they're outraged, and promising to never listen to his radio show any more. Wait, he still has a radio show? Yeah, but for how long?


Glenn Beck Expresses Support for Gay Marriage, Says Republicans Need to Create 'Ultimate Big Tent'

"Let me take the pro-gay marriage people and the religious people — I believe that there is a connecting dot there that nobody is looking at, and that's the Constitution...The question is not whether gay people should be married or not. The question is why is the government involved in our marriage?". . .

Read more at: TowleRoad

Another Shooting Spree, This Time Oregon

Image from source, Raw Story
It's hard to defend my sort of Switzerland status in regard to guns these days. As I've said time and again, I was raised around guns and have no particular aversion to people having them for hunting and protection. And as I've also said--that said--I also have issues with people who fetishise guns, and think that the 2nd amendment was etched in stone by God, ahead of all other amendments, acts, laws and commandments.

So I come somewhere in the middle. Except there is no middle, and there is no meaningful opposition any more either. If you're Bob Costas and you react to a (different, earlier) shooting in the mildest of terms, you are excoriated by the gun clingers. You'll be told that any sort of regulation of any kind of guns will only take the guns out of the hands of the good guys (even though in most of these shootings, legal guns were used). You'll be told that if only there were more armed people, all would be rosy. Which is bananas. But mostly you'll be told that, well, that's just the way it is. We have to be allowed to have guns, so we're going to have to tolerate the occasional shooting spree. It's the way it goes, nothing can be done about it. Cest la vie. Which is a bit out of character for conservatives when you consider their reaction to 9/11, but I digress. . .


At least three dead, including gunman, in Oregon mall shooting

At least two people were killed when a masked gunman opened fire at a mall in the western US state of Oregon, sparking panic before apparently turning the gun on himself, police said. At least one person was also injured in Clackamas, south of Portland, a sheriff’s spokesman said, after local media reported a gunman wearing body armor opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle near a Macy’s department store. . .

Read more at: The Raw Story

Jon Stewart Skewers Mitch McConnell's Filibuster of Himself

Image from SpydersDen
I know that the Democrats get teased for having notables like Nancy Pelosi (who I actually like), Howard Dean (like him too), but I often wonder how you can be a "proud conservative" when you look at the GOP roster. John Boner Boehner has his fake tan, weepy histrionics and seems permanently soused (hey, maybe he's orange from the bourbon!). Eric Cantor looks like he's trying to ignore the smell of a fart, and oh Mitch McConnell. Now, I hate to pick on his looks, but being looks-challenged myself I think I have room: he looks like a cartoon turtle. Worse than that, if you were going to come up with a cartoon voice for him, it would sound exactly like his real voice, seemingly produced without lips.

But beyond their looks and demeanor, these guys have shitty policies and juvenile and ridiculous behavior for men of their stature. McConnell rolls out his theatrical theater pieces, with a smirk and laughter in his eyes, all the while pretending he's deadly serious. Boehner is scarcely better, he just slurs when he says it all. But Boehner--though he's put his foot in it many times--has never had to walk back something so embarrassing to my knowledge. Of course there is no filibuster in the House of Representatives, or he probably would have had to do this by now. Yes, McConnell brought up a proposed bill, and then filibustered it! Because it wasn't serious in the first place, and his bluff was called. Too delicious.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mitch McConnell's Self-Filibuster
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Antonin Scalia Compares Homosexuality to Murder

Nice guy. Image from Wonkette
Well, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he's not comparing homosexuality to murder. He just likens them to each other on the morality scale. Which is totally different. . .how? Not sure, but I'm not happy having this man on the court that is about to decide the fate of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, we never thought this jackass was on our side anyway, but still.


Antonin Scalia Knows Sodomy & Murder Not Same Thing, He Just Likes Saying They Are 

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may be an utter asshat, but at least he’s occasionally a funny asshat. Take for instance the latest fuck-tussle over his equating laws against sodomy with laws against murder. Yes, that’s pretty much the comparison he made. But look, it’s not like he thinks they’re exactly the same! He’s just sayin’, is all. . .

Read more at: Wonkette
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