Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gov. George Pataki Bails from 2016 GOP Clown Car

Surprising no one, and having no measurable impact on the 2016 presidential race, former Governor George Pataki is bailing out of the Clown Car and dropping his bid for the GOP nomination. Though he had zero chance in the first place, it is still a bit sad, as he was the only acceptable choice from the Republican side, as far as I'm concerned. There is literally no one else. Pressed, I'd have to pick either Marco Rubio or John Kasich, and they're both unacceptable.


Republican Pataki says he's ending presidential bid 

Former New York Governor George Pataki on Tuesday ended his long-shot bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. . .

Read more at: MSN

UPDATED TO ADD: Gov. Pataki has made so little splash that I initially crossed out Jim Gilmore rather than Pataki in the attached graphic! I make no apology for this, but it has been amended.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Forget Pot; Why Hasn't Big Liquor Fixed Antiquated State Laws?

This past election cycle, I was onboard our "Legalize It" effort here in Ohio, both for personal and logical reasons. Marijuana should be regulated, taxed and legal in my estimation. It is demonstrably safer than alcohol, which is legal. Moreover, there is a wave of acceptance sweeping the nation for legal pot, rivaled only by the same-sex marriage wave that successfully swept through over the last several years. So, why not?

Ah, dare to dream.
But when you think about it, it's rather amazing that pot is making such headway, when liquor has such a confusing and often times stupid set of restrictions in place against it, from state to state. I'm not talking about age restrictions, here either. I really don't have much problem with 21-and-over being the place we draw the line. Though, honestly, it does make you wonder why "adulthood" is legally scattered from 18-to-21 depending upon what area of law we're talking about. But that's another issue for another day.

If you wants it, you points to it, you
sick, degenerate drinker you!
But NOT on Sunday!!! Heathen!!!
The reason for my interest in this issue has to do with having moved back to Ohio after 20 years in Las Vegas. Liquor laws in Las Vegas are quite liberal, and I was used to being able to run down to Lee's Discount Liquor and buying whatever I wanted, just about whenever I wanted. Prices were reasonable, and there was a lot of competition. You could by most kinds of alcohol just about anywhere in Vegas, from a liquor store to a Walmart, to a grocery, corner quickie mart or even Sam's Club or Costco. Obviously, a dedicated store would have more varieties in both brands and higher proofs, but if you wanted honest-to-god vodka, you could find it just about anywhere.

Not in Ohio. Ohio restricts where you buy it, and when you can buy it. Beyond that, they further slice it by what kind of alcohol, and what proof. I can walk into most grocery or warehouse stores and pick up wine, beer and a bewildering variety of beer- and wine-based pseudo liquors. Sometimes, if you're diluted by half. No joke. Watered down. Most times, if you want a full variety of choices, you have to go to a dedicated state-run liquor store, or be lucky enough to have a grocer that has a full-fledged liquor store within their store. Most don't. Even stores that say they do often don't. Those that do charge far more than I used to pay back in my desert home. And there are restricted hours. Want to pick up something for a party before 1pm on a Sunday? Tough.
lucky, they also have spirits. But virtually always, those spirits are
Paradise in Las Vegas!

Dedicated stores are often dingy, sorrowful looking affairs that make you feel dirty when you walk in the door. If they have any browseable liquor, it's the cheap stuff, with top-shelf brands behind the counter. You literally have to point to what you want, and have them hand it to you. It feels like you're buying porn or something. But there is a world outside of Ohio, and even Las Vegas for that matter. When we've ventured out of our newly re-adopted state, we've made stops in other states, checking out how they do things. West Virginia has more liberal laws, though I can't say the stores I've visited have been particularly inviting. Pennsylvania may have arcane laws, but I must've hit one store at the right time in Pittsburgh, because it had a decent selection, and decent prices. Still nothing like Sin City. Iowa offers a decent grocer-based option, with separate-but-attached liquor stores by the main grocery. Prices are better than Ohio, if not great. And time restrictions are also better.

Binny's! Now that's what I'm talking about!
That was a reasonable option on our recent visit, and we were set to pick up a carload for our home bar. But we ran out of time, and just didn't get around to it. Undeterred, we decided to find something on the way home. At a gas fill-up in Illinois, we noticed our truck stop had a dedicated liquor store. Cool! We grabbed a couple of bottles of whiskey (priced above Nevada, but below Ohio), but were told, in broken English, that we were too early. No sales on Sunday before 10 am! It was 9:15. Okay, then, back on the road. I plugged my request into my phone, and huzzah!!! A liquor discount store in Champaign called "Binny's." And it was right off the freeway!

This is not an ad, but let me tell you, it was a real discovery. It was like Vegas, only better actually. Illinois may very well have perplexing liquor laws that I'm not privy to. But this store was big, it had huge variety. It had low, low prices. And the people were super-friendly. Even Lee's Discount Liquor didn't manage that, most days. Suffice it to say, we stocked up. And just for example, a handle-bottle of JD was at least $20 cheaper there, no joke.

But all of this got me to wondering: why is it this way? Why does each state have a hodge-podge of antiquated, religiously tinged, ridiculous liquor laws in almost 2016? I realize, even Ohioans don't have it as bad as some other--particularly Southern--states, whose laws can be downright bizarre. But why do brewers, distillers and other liquor companies put up with it? Why would they make special, diluted spirits just for Ohio? These are huge companies in some cases. Isn't there a liquor lobby? Wouldn't Lee's or Binny's like to have big box stores in Columbus or Cincinnati? Wouldn't Costco, Sam's or even Kroger? I really don't get it. But I'd like to see a ballot initiative! Maybe if the liquor lobby scratched the marijuana lobby's back. . .

Monday, December 28, 2015

Greenlee Gazette Returns. . .Sort Of.

Well, hellllooo, blogosphere! Anything happen while I was away? Yes, I took a family trip out of state for Christmas, and didn't even give notice on the blog. As you probably have ascertained, this here corner of the interwebz doesn't get the attention it should. I have no intention of closing it down, but I've also given up on the notion of it ever being a full-fledged daily obsession anymore either. As long as Google keeps the Blogger platform running, Greenlee Gazette will live on. But the dozen or two posts-per-month average is likely to remain about the norm, unless something in life changes, and I get refocused on it.

So please, do stop by from time to time. Just don't be surprised if there are only a few choice brain nuggets here! I'll at least try to make a few of them interesting! Definitely some new stuff tomorrow.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Lindsey Graham Collapses on His Fainting Couch, Out of the Race

Oh my gay stars! The 2016 GOP Clown Car is losing a rider, though he was probably always going to be in the rumble seat anyway. Look for Graham to continue going between getting the vapors, and having fits of histeria on the Sunday morning political shows, more than ever.


Lindsey Graham suspends his presidential campaign

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) ended his long-shot presidential bid today, telling supporters in a web video that he succeeded in changing the conversation about how to fight the Islamic state. . .

Read more at: Washington Post

Sunday, December 20, 2015

SNL: Hillary Clinton Meest 2008 Version of Herself (and Special Guest)

It would be almost unthinkable to have Amy Poehler and Tina Fey back to host Saturday Night Live without revisiting one of their funniest sketches. Back during the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin had been added to John McCain's GOP ticket, and Barack Obama won a brutal primary against Hillary Clinton. The SNL version of this eventuality was a classic, that lives on as a highlight in SNL history.

Eight years later, with Hillary running again, SNL finds her dreaming about meeting her former self. . .and her former competition!

And just for fun, here's the classic bit.

SNL: Latest GOP Debate Skewered

Image from
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey cohosted this weekend's Saturday Night Live, and it was frankly one of the best episodes of the past several seasons. SNL continues to attract nay-sayers, people who are fond of saying "Saturday Night DEAD," or that it hasn't been funny in decades. Of course, they've been accusing it of being cursed with suck since John Belushi left. As a regular watcher, through thick and thin, I think the cast has gelled, and is currently very good. And when they've got stellar guest hosts, they get a dynamite show.

The cold opening actually followed a real Democratic presidential debate, by spoofing the most recent Republican one. And it was a hoot. Darrell Hammond was back as Donald Trump, since current "leading man" Taran Killam was serving as Ted Cruz. That's unfortunate, because Killam's Trump is better than his Cruz. Otherwise, the bit was a home run.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rachel Maddow: GOP Embracing "The Fringe" - It's New, and Nuts

Image from source, Washington Post
I have a feeling that Reince Priebus must just be rocking himself to sleep every night, unsure of what to do. The Republican Party has fostered and built the Frankenstein's monster that is Donald Trump, and activated the torch-bearing villagers. The twist is, the villagers support the monster, and want to set his maker's laboratory ablaze! For years, they courted the paranoid, the conspiratorial, the frothingly xenophobic, the rabidly homophobic, the acidically racist and the overzealously religious. Those people were supposed to rush to the polls to vote for everyone with an (R) after their name. They weren't supposed to control anything, either by becoming the majority, or by aligning behind a non-establishment candidate.

They should have seen this coming. They have had to deal with (and pretend to just adore) the Tea Party. They've had several nutbars from the fringe actually get elected. They had to suspect that it was possible that eventually a non-establishment candidate would rise to the top as a presidential candidate. What they didn't factor in was a cult of personality, a hero-worship of a bona fide "conservative" celebrity. I have to note that I put conservative in quotes here, because one of the most curious parts of this whole thing is that Donald J. Trump does not align well with many of the core principles of modern day Tea Party conservatism. And I just as easily could have put "celebrity" in quotes, as Trump is the kind of celebrity that is famous for being famous. He's literally a Reality TV star, on par with a Kardashian.

Could Donald Trump have a
Lonesome Rhodes moment?
Image fromWikipedia.
So, no, the GOP couldn't have predicted that the base voters could put aside their hardcore anti-abortion stance, shunt aside their anti-gay feelings, ignore their religious fervor, and go all in for a famous bag of gas. And follow him no matter what. He's not Teflon like Ronald Reagan, he's something altogether different. He's akin to a cult leader, and his followers are guzzling the Flavor-Aid. The only way to stop this thing, to my mind, is for the GOP to expel him from the party, and in doing so, very likely fracture their party. Barring that, they have to hope for a coalescence of support for a candidate by the non-crazy GOP voters that swells larger than Trump's support. Or, they have to hope some event or happenstance takes him out of the running. It's not likely to be a gaffe that does it, unless it's of Lonesome Rhodes proportions.


A leading presidential candidate embracing the fringe? That’s nuts — and new.

In the three years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., one of the more inexplicable aspects of its aftermath has been the persistence of the insane conspiracy theory that the killings never really happened. Sandy Hook “truthers” contend that the incident was either faked in its entirety, or, if it was real, was committed by the government for some sort of political effect. . .

Read more at: Washington Post

Monday, December 14, 2015

Movies I Can't Wait to See: Star Trek Beyond

The first Star Trek reboot rocked. The second, Star Trek Into Darkness wasn't bad, in fact it was quite enjoyable. But it had its head-scratching moments, and made me wonder, did they just reboot this so that they could remake old plots? It was an odd direction to take. I'm hoping the third will set us back on course to a place no man has gone before (not even Kha-a-a-a-a-n!!!).

Star Trek and I share a birthday. We'll both be 50 next year (so will the Super Bowl, but Super Bowl I was actually in 1967, so it just stands as a harbinger of how old I will be that year). So, I'm both excited and glad that they elected to put a movie out to commemorate it.

SNL: Skewers FOX "News," Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Chris Christie

Funny stuff. The only problem is, Taran Killam is far too attractive (and not nearly creepy enough) to play Ted Cruz effectively.

SNL: George W. Bush Throws His Hat into 2016 GOP Race

Why not? Strategery!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Chris Hardwick's Spot-on Trump Descriptions (Mashup)

I'm a big fan of @Midnight with Chris Hardwick, and Talking Dead, and I have no use for Donald Trump. So, this particular mashup of introductions by Hardwick from whenever Trump's name comes up, was bound to tickle my funny bone. You'll like it too!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Donald Trump's Cult of Personality: What is Wrong with Trump's Supporters?

An internet comments section come to life. That is the best (and increasingly frequent) summation of Donald Trump's candidacy. I've seen it now from several sources, and it's becoming more common, because it fits so well. If you don't know what that means, it means that Trump is pure id. He will make his "point" forcefully, whether or not it makes any sense. He'll answer a question with non-sequiturs, with irrelevant, exaggerated, boasts. He goes off on tangents, sometimes several at once, embedding parentheticals inside parentheticals. All the while bulldozing everyone else in the discussion and declaring himself the victor, even if he said nothing of substance.

I'm watching Morning Joe right now, and The Donald is on the phone. For some reason, this show (and most others) is willing to have Trump appear via phone call at any moment to discuss anything, at length. But today, they're discussing Trump's over-the-top immigration comments about Muslims. His comments have drawn the ire of many prominent Republicans, and have stomped on virtually every other political story of the moment.

Trump is pulling his usual schtick, filibustering the hosts (most of which are very friendly to him), using his familiar third-grader vocabulary and argument style. When they ask him a pointed question, he regales them with tales of his standing room only crowds, his place in the polls, the weakness of his opposition, and little else. He declares himself "right," while offering very, very little of substance.

In short, he's doing what he always done. But he's terrible. No other candidate could get away with it for this long. The problem is, as I see it, moving from Trump to his supporters. What is wrong with your average Trump supporter? What are you seeing here? He's a blowhard bully, an egotistical asshat, still spewing obnoxious vaguaries, still absent any real-world specifics.  He is a complete paradox: a cult of personality, where the personality is to most rational people, simply vile. When will the spell be broken?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Right Wing World: Presidential Politics Off The Rails

If this were my first or second year of blogging, I'd probably be typing my fingers into stumps, trying to keep up with the utter insanity overtaking Republican politics right now. But it isn't. I'm actually in my ninth year, and no longer feel compelled to hit this stuff quite so hard. I'm actually kind of glad I don't. It's making me crazy enough as it is.

Listen, I am aware that a lot of what's going on in the world is scary, confusing, complicated and difficult to process. It's just as hard as a hobbyist blogger (i.e., no more professional training than your average talk radio boob or FOX "News"-babe) to figure out what to write. The president spoke from the Oval Office last night, ordinarily something I'd write about. But I listened to the conservative response, which was uniformly negative, naturally, and just threw up my hands. Because, surely the president knows nothing and we really should be following what Joe Scarborough or Sean Hannity thinks we should do, right?

Image from source, Washington Post
Trouble is, the people auditioning for the actual president's job are quite arguably worse than the idiots in the conservative media. Any pretense at looking "presidential" is out the window. Any caution for how their words are perceived internationally is ignored. Even reality itself seems rather malleable in Right Wing World. You've got Trump ready to ignore Muslim Americans' civil rights, you've got Ted Cruz talking about nuking and "carpet bombing" (a war crime) swaths of the Middle East. Conservative standard-bearers--allegedly strict constitutional constructionists--want to throw out religious freedom (unless it's made-up Christian "persecution"). Everything has gone topsy-turvy. And it just keeps getting worse.

I get really bummed when I read internet polls or comments sections, and see these "conservatives" on board with this shit! This is allegedly the cautious party, the party afraid of change, the ones about "rule of law" and "personal responsibility" saying and doing whatever it is that their frothing-at-the-mouth, batshit crazy base will eat with a spoon. Regardless of whether or not it's the most anti-American, potentially unconstitutional, often internationally illegal and quite literally illogical claptrap ever spewed in politics.

Maybe I need to come back to this thing more often.


Donald Trump is a disaster for Republicans. And they can’t do a thing about it.

Donald Trump seemed to signal a new -- and even darker -- phase of his front-running campaign for the Republican presidential nomination Monday when he released a statement insisting that Muslims should be banned from entering the country under any circumstances "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on. . ."

Read more at: Washington Post

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

NY Daily News Slams GOP Presidential Candidates on San Bernardino Response

I almost didn't write up anything on this, only our most recent mass shooting this week. But tomorrow's New York Daily News has a take so refreshing, I had to say something. As is usual, the GOP presidential candidates (who still number in the teens) offered up platitudes about prayer in response to the shooting in San Bernardino. As an atheist, my cynical side rolls its eyes, and says, "Well, that's the least you can do. The very least."

But hold up, several of these guys are actually in the House of Representatives and Senate. They can do more than pray, they can do something meaningful about it, if they wanted to. So, why don't they? Because they're terrified of their own base, and the NRA.


New York Daily News Rips GOP Leaders For “Meaningless Platitudes” In Wake Of Mass Shooting

Over the last few years the New York Daily News has devoted countless screaming headlines which denounced the NRA, its head Wayne LaPierre, and many other gun control opponents. . .

Source: Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

World AIDS Day: Flashing Back to "When AIDS Was Funny"

AIDS was, of course, never really funny. But for a time, people got titters about it, because it was "gay cancer," and openly gay Americans were rather rare, and the whole subject was treated like a joke. A dirty, truly tasteless joke. The most troubling fact about that, is that it wasn't just 13-year-old boys with pocket "dead baby" joke books treating it that way, but the official stance of the Reagan Administration. How much differently could the AIDS crisis have turned out, had Saint Ronnie treated the subject more seriously at the outset? We'll never know.


The Reagan Administration’s Unearthed Response to the AIDS Crisis Is Chilling

One of the most prominent stains on the reputation of the much-mythologized Reagan administration was its response, or lack of response, to the AIDS crisis as it began to ravage American cities in the early and mid-1980s. President Reagan famously (though, not famously enough) didn’t himself publicly mention AIDS until 1985, when more than 5,000 people, most of them gay men, had already been killed by the disease. Filmmaker Scott Calonico’s new documentary short, When AIDS Was Funny, exclusively debuting on, shows how the Reagan administration reacted to the mounting problem in chilling fashion. Not even Reagan’s appointed mouthpiece, notorious press secretary Larry Speakes, had much to say about the crisis beyond derisive laughter. . .

Read more (with video) at: Vanity Fair

Trump: $5 Million, Or No Debate!

Image from source, CNN
Was he joking? Just being (more of) an asshat? I guess we'll find out.


Trump Threatens CNN: Give Me $5 Million Or I Won’t Show Up for Next Debate!

Remember back in September how Donald Trump said that CNN shouldn’t accept any of the profits they made from the second GOP debate and should give it all to veterans charities? Well, he’s doing it again. . .

Read more at: CNN

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Donald Trump Obliterates Godwin's Law

Godwin's Law: (or Godwin's rule of Nazi analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"—​that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism. -- Godwin's Law - Wikipedia

Godwin's Law has moved beyond internet message boards, and is now generally used as a discussion-ender in general. You invoke a Hitler or Nazi analogy, and you lose the argument. Nothing, the feeling goes, is on par with Nazi Germany. It's the ultimate in lazy and/or hyperbolic comparisons. Trump broke that rule, but in a different way than he tends to break all others: He himself negates it by himself becoming his own Hitler analogy. And it's difficult to argue with. Especially when his own GOP opposition thinks so too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trumpgasm in Ohio: Details, Facts Don't Matter

I'm greatly distressed by the state of our politics, particularly as it applies to the GOP race for the presidency. The continued success of carnival barker Donald J. Trump has just beaten me down. As bad as Trump himself is, I'm actually more concerned about his true believers. I'm somewhat bolstered by the fact that he has a 25% hold on the portion of primary voters of a portion of the electorate that boils down to a significantly smaller number of people than it appears on the surface. But I'm worried that America has become enough of an Idiocracy that he'll convert enough xenophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-liberal, anti-Hillary people to actually do damage.

Trump is a buffoon, and always has been. He's played fast and loose with the truth* to his own advantage in business and celebrity, since we've known who he was. He has roughly a third-grader's vocabulary and oratory style. And a third-grade bully's at that. His vocabulary is so stunted, that even after one of his huge applause lines, rather than expounding on what he's said, he just repeats the same words again and again, with his limited set of bombastic adjectives. But worse than his relentlessly negative and abrasive style, is his tenuous grasp of basic facts.

In just the last couple of days, Trump has unleashed a stream of easily disproven statements. Sometimes badly conflated and distorted memories, sometimes wildly exaggerated claims, sometimes just stream-of-consciousness lies. And none of it matters. None of it shakes off his true believers. Not the open racism, not the untruth of his claims, not the vagueness of his promises, not the true horror of having this reactionary, thin-skinned bully in control of the nuclear football. The same people who decried President Obama's "lack of experience" and "celebrity," are eating up every horrifying utterance of this braying egotist.

Even Ben Carson--once thought to be supplanting Trump as front-runner (a horror in itself)--briefly jumped aboard Trump's recent big lie about Muslims celebrating 9/11 in New Jersey, as the buildings fell. He quickly had to issue a "my bad!" retraction, which I suppose should be heartening. After all, Carson has had his own string of easily disproven statements recently. And they initially didn't seem to matter to his own base. But Carson has been slipping since then. Maybe that should cheer me up?

But I come back around to distress. How can such a large group of Americans be so vaguely pissed off, so ready to win, that they'll gladly make this cult-of-personality, reality TV star made of pure id the most powerful man in the world? Can the GOP really let this happen?

*Perhaps the most baffling claim in all of this, is the Trump supporters' claim that "Trump speaks the truth." He doesn't. He speaks what ever crosses his mind, often changing direction mid-sentence, often several times. He speaks in parentheticals--sometimes within parentheticals--wherein he more than occasionally contradicts the point he started out making. He is the embodiment of "truthiness," Stephen Colbert's "gut feel" explanation for believing something that feels right, even if the details are all wrong. And his supporters--who are almost to a person, Hillary haters who love to throw out that she's a "liar"--simply don't care. Yes. I'm distressed.


Trump wastes no time bashing Kasich during Columbus speech

The day began and ended in a fight over Donald Trump’s incursion into the home turf of 2016 presidential rival John Katich. In between, Trump tweeted that the Ohio governor is a “dummy” and “one of the worst presidential candidates in history.” And in a speech before 14,000 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Trump pointed to polls showing the billionaire re-establishing his lead both nationally and in early voting states — with Kasich far behind. . .

Read more at: The Columbus Dispatch

Monday, November 23, 2015

John Oliver Explains the Refugee Vetting Process

The chief fear regarding Syrian refugees seems to be that somehow terrorists will sneak in amongst the incoming flow of refugees. How this same fear doesn't apply to terrorists infiltrating Christian refugees (that the right wants to let in) isn't clear, but that's not important right now. What is important is, that the acceptance of refugees into this country is not a simple process, and would be possibly the least likely route a terrorist would take to get here. So, could we please just calm the paranoia just a bit?


Watch John Oliver Explain the Vetting Process for Syrian Refugees

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, 31 U.S. governors now oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states. On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver described this as “pretty extreme, but also pretty meaningless” due to the fact that governors actually don’t have that power, as well as the fact that Syrians could simply walk across state borders, which Oliver noted “are not crocodile-filled moats. . .”

Read more at: Time

John Oliver: The Uselessness of the Penny

Last Week with John Oliver has quickly become a favorite in our household. The freedom that HBO affords over network or cable is a nice element. But I can't help but wonder how Oliver would have done as a replacement for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, rather than Trevor Noah (who has been hit-or-miss since his debut). Here is Oliver's featured bit from Sunday night's show. I will share his take on the Syrian refugee crisis if it becomes available, as it was truly well stated.

SNL: FOX & Friends on Syrian Refugees

Saturday Night Live's spoofs of the oddly named FOX & Friends show are generally a highlight for me, mostly because it's amazing they can make that show seem any more ridiculous. Saturday's edition was no exception, though I missed the "corrections" they usually run. The Debbie Wasserman-Schultz bit didn't amuse me, because it doesn't ring true, but the Ben Carson stuff is gold.

SNL: Adele Saves Thanksgiving

Isn't it funny how the "difficult" family members at Thanksgiving dinner are almost universally accepted as being your conspiracy theory spewing Uncle Ned or your anti-gay Aunt Maude, or some other hard-right conservative relative? Oh sure, there may be the belligerent college kid, back from school, being negative and morose, but it's the crazy conservative trope that pops up the most. Small wonder. Bobby Moynihan's "Drunk Uncle" is based on a similar premise. Here, Adele saves the day.

Over Time with Bill Maher, November 20, 2015

Bill Maher, and guests Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Angus King, MP Chrystia Freeland, Ben Domenech and Andy Cohen, in the last show of the year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bobby Jindal Piyushes Himself Out of the 2016 Clown Car

Aw, Bobby! I was hoping Jeb! or Rand would bail before you, so you might squeak into one of the big-boy debates. Alas, it is not to be. Jindal, one of the God Warrior contestants, has elected (hah!) to bail out. So much for predictions of him being the "next Ronald Reagan".


Bobby Jindal ends GOP presidential campaign

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ended his long-shot campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, saying on Fox News that "it's not my time." While Jindal's campaign showed some progress in Iowa — site of the Feb. 1 caucuses that open the Republican nomination contest — he had trouble gaining traction in other states. . .

Read more at: USAToday


Monday, November 16, 2015

SNL: Young Ben Carson

After a lackluster, politics-heavy Donald Trump episode last week, this weekend's Saturday Night Live (this time hosted by Elizabeth Banks) mostly backed away from political sketches. But one (save the somber cold opening by Cecily Strong, quietly acknowledging the Paris attacks) skewered Ben Carson pretty thoroughly. And--bonus!--it was funny!

Over Time with Bill Maher, November 13, 2015

Bill Maher and guests Asra Nomani, Jay Leno, Michael Steele, Dylan Ratigan and Paul Reiser answer viewer questions after the show.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Right Wing World's Response to Paris Attack: Impeach Obama!

Whenever something awful happens (except for the wide berth given the Bush Administration following September 11), things inevitably get political. And each side declares that the other is "politicizing" the tragedy, usually while simultaneously politicizing it themselves. Sadly, such is the case with Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris.

And right after this left-right thing (which frankly comes with far more volume and crassness from the right*), comes the inevitable blame game. Regardless of how they get there, it's a) the fault of Democrats in general, b) the fault of President Obama, c) the fault of John Kerry, or d) the fault of Hillary Clinton. They're also apt to pick any or all of the above, and the funny thing is, it doesn't have to make sense or have any basis in reality. It's the "Thanks, Obama" punchline, except they're for some reason, serious. And then, inevitably comes the calls for impeachment. The charge? No idea, outside of "presidentin' while black."

Here's a post from Right Wing World Ground Zero,, and not just from the page, but from site creator Rim Job Jim Rob himself.

[Excerpted entirely due to short length]

Jim Robinson of Free Republic with succubus alien being demon seed
Ann Coulter, from source.
Impeach Obama NOW!! Before the Islamofascists attack US again!!

Posted on 11/13/2015, 10:04:58 PM by Jim Robinson

Obama's wanton lawlessness, criminal incompetence, willful neglect, refusal to enforce the law, refusal to secure the borders, refusal to even recognize the obvious enemy, refusal to take Islamic terrorism seriously, etc, leaves us wide open to terrorist attack. Our borders and nation must be secured! All Islamics here on temporary visas must be rounded up and deported now! Recent Islamic immigrants should be suspect. Obama's treasonous policies are inviting ISIS to attack us!!

Don't let it happen again.

And here are just a couple of responses, just to give you some flavor.

"This is just another reason of many for Obama to be impeached."

"I agree completely except it is too late. The radical left has taken over the country and are now consolidating their power.We will never give up and maybe we can take our country back but the only way I can see that happening is an act of God."

"I believe 45 percent of the country would support a democrat even if they were brain dead on a ventilator. We MUST win the presidency with either Trump/Cruz or both."

So much for hoping that a serious event might shake loose some sense on the right.

* If you don't believe me, check Michelle Malkin's or Ann Coulter's recent Twitter feeds.

ISIS Claims Credit for French Attacks

As an atheist, coming up with a response to religious extremism can be difficult. On one hand, I'm all for religious freedom (which entails freedom FROM religion), so I'm not about to come out assailing everyone of a particular religion. On the other hand, I find all religions to be at best a waste of time, and at worst (and provably) downright dangerous. So, I am simultaneously not Islamaphobic, but also pretty much anti-theistic.

Image from source, Huffington Post
That's not to say I don't condemn--across the board--violence in the name of religion. I'm against violence in general, actually. But in the name of religion, it is particularly vexing. If your religion calls you to violence, backs up your actions, and rewards you for it? It's clearly a fucking dangerous religion. Presently, Islam has more vocal and active adherents who wish do harm to random, innocent people (not that specific, less innocent people would be better), and as such, "Islamophobia" is an inevitable result in people who would not ordinarily harbor it.

Whenever Islamic extremists create mayhem somewhere in the world, many will decry "moderate Muslims" for not speaking up, and condemning the actions. This is somewhat unfair, as it isn't difficult to find prominent Muslims doing exactly that. But I'm ready to say that it isn't enough. However badly some Muslims feel--and I do feel for your average, ordinary Muslim who is now eyed suspiciously--there isn't enough outcry. I think they need a pope-like figure, or coalition of religious and state Islamic leaders, prominently decrying at top volume, and for a sustained period of time, any violence in the name of their religion. They need to forcefully excommunicate groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, denounce them as heretics, shame them from the faith entirely. Divorce "radical Islam" from anything approaching the actual religion.

Short of that, it seems to me we should pull up stakes. Get the heck out of dodge. Can't we do that?


Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Deadly Paris Attacks

Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for attacks that killed 127 people in Paris, saying it sent militants strapped with suicide bombing belts and carrying machine guns to various locations in the heart of the capital. The attacks, described by France's president as an act of war, were designed to show the country would remain in danger as long as it continued its current policies, Islamic State said in a statement. . .

Read more at: The World Post

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Ben Carson West Point Story, Fact or Fiction?

Image from source, Esquire
I love deductive reasoning, puzzle games, investigative journalism, forensic evidence gathering, the lot. If the CBS slate of programming can be used as evidence, most Americans do as well. But it doesn't seem to be applied to much more than procedural dramas, certainly not much in real life.

That's why I love it when someone actually puts brain to task, and puzzles out, what is true and what is not true in a given story. You get at that by finding out what can't possibly be true, what is undeniably true, and then fitting in the plausible connective tissue, and disregard the fantastic and the dubious. When this is done, the Ben Carson West Point story comes down to this: Ben Carson lied.

Did Politico do a bit of shoddy journalism? Looks that way. But they weren't wrong.

Don't believe me (ahem, Dan)? Check it out.


Ben Carson Debunked: Inside His Made-Up West Point Story

Let's re-cap what has happened in the last few days since that first explosive story came out in Politico…and was observed here by our own Charlie Pierce on Friday. To wit, the Tale of Cadet Ben Carson. On Friday, Politico posted a sensational, but sadly incomplete, evaluation of some of Dr. Carson's claims about his past. Specifically their story asserted that Carson had not been given a "scholarship" to West Point, as he claimed in his book(s) and in multiple accounts of his past in speeches and interviews since 1990, when his first co-written autobiography appeared. . .

Read more at: Esquire

Monday, November 9, 2015

The SNL: Democratic Forum with Rachel Maddow vs. Reality

Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon as Maddow and Clinton
Saturday Night Live will mine any political event or happening for humor, irrespective of political party, this has been true since the beginning. But, quite honestly, the conservative side tends to provide more fodder for laughs, most of the time. And also, quite honestly, comedy more often comes from a liberal perspective. If you don't believe me, rattle off a list of conservative comedians, and see how many fingers you have left when you can't think of any more.

Because of this, I'm not used to SNL skewering the left as much as I am the right, particularly when they're taking pains to attract a right wing audience, as they surely were with Donald Trump's appearance. So, I'll plead guilty for having my armor up for this sketch, lampooning the Rachel Maddow "first in the South" Democratic forum from Friday night.

I watched the real forum, and found it to be very, very good. It gave Martin O'Malley his biggest chance to date, to introduce himself to America, and he did well. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders also did well, and Maddow herself was simply terrific, I thought. I marveled through the whole thing that it was the best event of its type I could recall since. . .well, ever. And I simply couldn't imagine a similar GOP event occurring, either form the perspective of the participants, or the host. [Story continues below]

The SNL version was put together amazingly quickly, and visually hit the mark. Cecily Strong does a great Maddow (and pronounces the name correctly), and all of the candidate impersonations were strong (particularly Larry David as Bernie Sanders). The problem was the humor, both in execution and in theme. Humor has to ring true to be funny. This was like the typical right-wing centered humor that starts with exaggeration (often of a skewed perspective in the first place), and then exaggerates it more. Clinton contorting herself to "appear" comfortable, for instance. I don't know, I thought it was all technically proficient, but not particularly funny. Except for some of the Bernie material, and that's because it rang true. And there you have it.

As for one of the not funny to me (but hilarious to conservatives) joke about MSNBC's ratings*, that doesn't ring true either, after the ratings came out.


2.3 Million Watch Democratic Forum on MSNBC

The joke on Saturday Night Live last night about the MSNBC Democratic Forum went like this: “In case you’re wondering what a forum is it’s a debate no one watches.” But not quite. According to Nielsen overnight ratings, MSNBC was No. 1 in the A25-54 demo averaging 417,000 viewers Friday night. 2.332 million total viewers watched the 2-hour Democratic Forum, giving MSNBC second place from 8-10 p.m. ET behind Fox News which averaged 2.435 million. . .

Read more at: TV Newser

*The ratings for all of cable news are typically very low, with MSNBC garnering roughly a third the ratings of FOX "News." So, when they crow about FOX's ratings, and say "nobody" watches MSNBC, ask them what three times zero is.

SNL: The Big Trump Fiasco

I've written many times that I'm a Saturday Night Live fan from episode one (live). I've mentioned that the show was never really as funny as we remember, having always had dragging skits and scattershot laughs in any given episode. It is also never as bad at any given moment as people say it is. People have been saying that it "hasn't been funny in years" for literally decades, even as it makes stratospheric stars out of countless comedians and actors. It is what it is: a late night variety show, which is at the mercy of current events, pressured writing and acting, divaesque (though often terrible) musical acts, and guest hosts that span anywhere from terrific (Roseanne, Melissa McCarthy) to absolutely terrible (Louise Lasser, Milton Berle). Donald Trump was not the worst, but he was closer to the latter than the former.

I expected very little from Trump, and he (and they) delivered. He couldn't get too risqué, he couldn't get too political, and I knew he wouldn't get too self deprecating. They also didn't use him very much, in comparison to say, Miley Cyrus, who was in almost every sketch. The Donald's time amounted to about 12 minutes. SNL got a bump in the ratings, Trump gets. . .not much, other than a footnote in SNL history. He gained zero new fans or converts. He may have patched some sore spots with NBC, but I can't really see what else he'd get from such a lackluster performance.

Over Time with Bill Maher, November 6, 2015

Bill Maher and guests David Frum, Jillian Melchior, Anthony Weiner and Quentin Tarantino.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Right Wing World: Ben Carson Caught an Unspinnable Lie, Now What?

Ben Carson has told a series of whoppers that had little effect on his sudden rise past longtime, improbable juggernaut Donald Trump. But just as Trump could seemingly say or do nothing to dent his support, Carson shrugged most of them off, in that borderline narcoleptic way he's got. The base didn't care. But this latest one? They care. I checked.

Some choice quotes from, Right Wing World's bell weather.
"This is the end for Carson. Where will his white guilt GOP supporters go?"
"This ones bad for Carson... We have 'rights' to our own opinions, but NOT to 'our own' facts."

"This will be his undoing."
Image from source, Poltico
"You lie, you wither and die. Bye bye Ben."

Before you give them too much credit, realize that it's not the fact that he lied, so much. He's done that before. It's that he lied about a core section of his biography. And there wasn't a nifty way to spin it.

Now, the question is, who will reap the spoils? Back to Trump, or onto the next hot thing?

Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship
Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. . .

Read more at: Politico

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ohio’s Confusing Marijuana Fight: Why Do Some Progressives Oppose?

Adding to my previous post on the marijuana vote in Ohio on Tuesday [Vote Yes on 3, No on 2], Bob Cesca has this outstanding piece in Salon. Check it out.


Ohio’s head-scratching marijuana fight: Why do some progressives oppose legalization?

While Ohio politics are normally unremarkable unless in a presidential election year, the midwestern swing-state will vote this week on the “Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Issue 3,” a ballot measure that would legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana use. This is a controversial constitutional amendment that’s almost evenly split across supporters and opponents. The most recent polling shows supporters barely outpacing opponents by one percentage point, 44 to 43. . .

Read more at: Salon

To Weed or Not to Weed? Ohio Voting on Legalized Pot on Tuesday

2015 is my first election back in Ohio, after 20 years away. And though there isn't much on the ballot in this off-year election, short of some local municipalities, Ohio does have a short list of ballot initiatives on the slate. One has to do with voter redistricting, and seems like a no-brainer. The two others seem to have Ohioans rather confused. And have created some odd alliances on both sides.

Marijuana decriminalization--both medical and recreational--is on the ballot, specifically the "Yes on 3" side. It has attracted all sorts of medicinal marijuana supporters, from many different walks of life, not the least of which are the families of patients who could greatly benefit by both the legalized sale of marijuana pharmaceuticals and from the installation of the International Cannabinoid Institute, a medical research facility that would be built only if Issue 3 passes. It's also supported by a large number of people who enjoy recreational marijuana, would like to try it if it were legal, and those of us who simply think pot prohibition is silly in this day and age. In addition, it has the support of those who think that law enforcement and prisoner incarcerations ought to be focused on "real criminals."

Proposed medical marijuana research facility in central Ohio,
International Cannabinoid Institute (ICI).
So, who are the "No on 3" people? That's where it gets a little weirder, and even a little opaque. Some are prohibitionists, oft-times conservative people who adamantly oppose the legalization of marijuana in any form. Some are pro-medical, but anti-recreational (though they rarely give reasons, are scarcely asked why). Some are undoubtedly from the shadowy network of people who currently supply illegal weed to the masses. It's not too much of a stretch to think some are probably also decidedly less savory folks who deal in scarier drugs than weed. Oh yeah, and it includes idealistic stoners.

"What?" you might wonder. Why would (one would think, ordinarily liberal) pot smokers be against legal weed? That has to do with how Issue 3 came to be, who came up with it, how it was funded, how it is worded, and who stands to get rich. It also--oddly, to my way of thinking--hinges upon the word "monopoly." But how did it come to this?

Boiled down, it goes something like this. Advocates have attempted many times to get a legalization plan before the voters, and they've always come up short for one reason or another. This time, a group of investors came together, and devised the 2015 plan, and they got the signatures. The details of the plan are complex, but amount to initially allowing the investors--those who devised the plan--to own the initial grow sites, 10 in all around the state. These grow sites are to be vast, indoor, year-round growing facilities, and they will distribute the product to the various dispensaries around the state. And every citizen over 21 can apply for a license to home grow a set amount for themselves.

By definition, it's not a monopoly, though many have likened it to an oligopoly. This is because the assorted investors (apparently 50 or so individual for the grow sites, many more likely involved in each site) are seen as a cabal, as a single unit. I personally think this is a stretch, and don't see how there would be a lack of competition with so many sites and people involved. And I certainly don't think it sets up any more dire of a situation than we have with virtually any industry, commodity or service in the United States.

Which is why I come back around to wondering, why do pot aficionados suddenly care so much about monopolies? And that makes me wonder even more, who was behind getting that concept, that word, so ingrained in the opposition toolbox? Particularly when you find out that Issue 2, a state-written proposition, was created using the word monopoly, and was crafted to thwart Issue 3. This sets up the strange scenario where Issue 3 could decriminalize pot, and Issue 2 could nullify issue 3 in the same election. Or some other combination of pass/fail, depending upon how the vote goes.

Inside the proposed research facility.
It's got a lot of people confused. Matters aren't helped by the fact that the prohibition side has co-opted the graphics and messaging of the pro-legalization side, down to copying their (possibly ill-advised) cartoon mascot! And let's face it, any time you tell voters to vote "Yes" on one thing and "No" on another, in the same election, you're going to cause some confusion.

Here's my take: Vote Yes on 3, and No on 2. This will legalize medical and recreational use in Ohio. It will decriminalize home grow. It will come with restrictions and guidelines, true. Yes, my friends, to get this on the ballot and through a vote, it had to. Is it perfect? Probably not. But let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, here. Get it legal. Get it moving. Find out what works. Find out what doesn't. Rather than waiting around for a "perfect world" proposition that may never come, put your energies into tweaking and retooling this plan in the future, if necessary. It would be a much more realistic way to go.

Meanwhile, small-time users and home growers won't go to jail. Sick people can get relief, whether they are the doctor-going type or not. Ohio gains tax income, and a potential boon to the economy. And yes, some people will get rich off it. Someone gets rich off of every industry. Be one of them! There will be ample job opportunities, and countless ways to get involved. Were there great odds you were going to own a facility capable of doing this anyway? Would you rather enrich drug dealers and cartels? Really?

Vote Yes on 3, and No on 2

That's my take.

[Full disclosure: I have family members involved in the effort to pass Issue 3, most notably on the medical side. While this has certainly helped sway my opinion on the matter, it has also allowed me to become informed on it, to the point where I believe I'd hold this opinion regardless. Thanks.]

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Over Time with Bill Maher, October 30, 2015

Bill Maher, and guests David Spade, Rep. Maxine Waters, Grover Norquist and Roger Stone.

Actor and Presidential Candidate Fred Thompson Dead at 73

Image from source, Raw Story
Fred Thompson has passed away. I know it's awful, but I heard the Law & Order "duh-duh!" sting in my head when I saw this news. I wasn't particularly stunned or saddened by the news, because I'd assumed he was much older than he really was. He's just one of those guys who seems to have been born old, seems to have looked the same for decades. 73 is not so old, and so, learning that I felt a little sad. It's no spring chicken, but it's not so old, not anymore. Especially not now that I'm watching my odometer spinning past 49.5.  RIP, Mr. Thompson. I'm very glad you were never president, but I liked your acting.

By the way, it's worth noting that if Mr. Thompson had managed to get elected to the presidency and have two terms, he would have been our first president to pass away in office since John F. Kennedy.


Fred Thompson — ‘Law and Order’ actor and former U.S. Senator — dead at 73
Actor, politician and former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Fred Thompson has passed away at the age of 73. The Tennessean newspaper reported Sunday that Thompson died after a recurrence of lymphoma. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Horrors: Greenlee Gazette's Guide to the Halloween Movie Franchise

Here's my take on the Halloween movie franchise. Keep in mind, the ratings are genre-specific, and don't necessarily apply to other movies in general.

Image from Wikipedia
Halloween (1978) - John Carpenter struck gold with the original in the series. He created the faceless killing machine (Michael Myers), the "you're dead if you have sex/drink/party/do drugs" horror cliche. And Carpenter's score for the film is amazingly creepy. Easily the best in the series, in fact the best of the genre. And Jamie Lee Curtis was fantastic, as was Donald Pleasence. ****

Halloween II (1981) - Picks up immediately after part one, and holds very close to the tone and the quality. More gore, more violence and more inventive kills are a consequence of the other (copycat) slasher pix being made at the time, and the reason many dislike this entry. Curtis and Pleasence still are in top form, and Michael Myers seems to utterly meet his end. In fact, unless you're fanwanking, you can't really explain his later resurrection. Also notable for the fantastic soundtrack, an improvement on the original. Great to have on the stereo to creep out the trick-or-treaters. ***

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) - The creators decided to drop the storyline, and try a different sort of Halloween movie, which was pretty good, but disappointed most fans. It had nothing to do with the previous films, other than the producers, and similar eerie music. Had it been successful, there were supposed to be other unrelated, Halloween-themed movies in the series. The film had one of the coolest logos in the whole series, as seen in the image on the right. **
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) - They went back to the original story (and dropped the roman numerals), which continued the storyline of Michael Myers, and ignored the ending of the second movie, where Michael Myers clearly died. The great thing about Halloween 4 was that the characters reacted like normal people--trying to get the heck out of dodge--and died anyway. Very close to the tone of the first two, and a great performance by Pleasence. ***

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) - OK, but weaker than the previous films. Continues the storyline from part 4, but adds a psychic angle, shifting the tone of the series. **

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) They dropped the number, and tried to add new elements that weren't in the previous films (Michael was a Druid?). The series was running out of steam. *
Halloween: H20 (1989) - 20 years into the franchise, this entry tried to reinvigorate the storyline. Donald Pleasence had died, but Jamie Lee Curtis was back, and parts 4, 5 and 6 were pretty much ignored. They even brought in Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis' real mother, and star of Psycho). H20 was an improvement, but the concept was really running on fumes. **

Dreadful. From Wikipedia.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) - The less said about part 8, the better. It attempts to update the series for the internet era. Not an improvement. Don't bother. *

Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007) - This film was ultimately unnecessary, as the original was impossible to top. The attempt to reboot the series, and bring it into the 21st century isn't a total misfire, but is kind of pointless. As far as remakes go, it isn't bad.  Malcolm McDowell does an okay job as Loomis, but nobody can replace Jamie Lee Curtis.  **

Rob Zombie's Halloween II (2009) - Terrible. That is all. Zero Stars

So, to sum up, if you want to see any of the films in this series, go for the original part I, probably part II, and if that isn't enough for you, part 4 and the first remake. Beware 6, 7 and 8 as well as the second remake, and only watch III for the curiosity factor. And there you have it. Happy Halloween!

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