Monday, February 29, 2016

Life Imitates Art: Could the Donald Trump Campaign be a Bialystock Production?

Trumped! is a genius riff on Mel Brooks' The Producers, using the original Broadway (and Hollywood) stars, Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Instead of swindling investors on the very, very bad Springtime for Hitler musical, it's the Trump campaign!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

RANT: My Ordeal Switching from Cable to Satellite

Sure! It's jut that easy! Right?
Does anyone have a good story about signing up for cable, satellite or other TV/Internet service? Or rather, so good that you'd feel compelled to write about it, or share your story? I rather doubt it. Because, even though it's not something we usually do very often, the experience is almost universally bad. I suppose getting new cellular service is right up there in the same category, but at least there, you usually end up with a flashy little device to carry around with you. But it shares a lot of the same problems.

First, there is the bait-and-switch. Promises of insanely low monthly prices for the newest, the best! $19.95, $29.95, $39.95!  Premium service free for the first three months! Low, low prices for a year! Free accessories! Instant rebates! Free installation and equipment! Hundreds of dollars in gift cards! You'll get better than you currently have for less money! And they spend so much money in mailers, commercials and ads, trying to give you an offer that you can't refuse.

And sometimes, you can't. Because if you've had your current service for a year or two years, suddenly the high price you grudgingly pay every month swells--either by a seemingly innocuous couple of dollars, crawling ever upward--or a suddenly inflated price. Then, those come-ons start to sound pretty sweet. Especially the "more for less" part of the equation.

I've already been at my "new" house for just almost a year.  My Time-Warner Cable plan (expensive, but less per month, and with less sparkle and flash than I'd had at my old house) was about to go up, and its limitations had become obvious. Improving the service was only going cost more by layers of $9.99 and $19.99 tack-ons, and we're already paying a crazy amount for our "bundle." Plus, I wasn't looking forward to hours on the phone negotiating. The initial contact last year had already been a frustrating struggle. So, I entertained the idea of switching.

First, I had some ATT/DirecTV salesmen arrive at my door. I listened for a few minutes, but happened to be busy, so I shooed them away, told them to come back later. They did return, with the hard sell. I didn't bite. Yet. But I'd been roughed up enough that I was easy pickings for the sales guys at Sam's Club, a couple of weeks later. They promised better equipment (Record five shows at once, not just two! Pause live TV in any room! Set recordings in any room! Three months free premiums! As good or better than you have for less per month!). It all sounded too good to be true, and I'd been through this before. I knew that the "low low price" has a way of creeping up before you sign the
It always feels like this, doesn't it?
dotted line, and the service you were promised ends up being significantly less. I was determined to not get suckered again.

So, I agreed to let them come out, assess whether the service would compare well, actually be less per month, not skyrocket in year two, not have hidden costs and unwanted compromises in service. But no matter how hard you try, you just can't avoid all the pitfalls of the process. Every step has been a pain in the butt, enormously frustrating, to the point of inspiring fits of rage. Why does it have to be this way? As I've already been very wordy, I'm going to try to distill down my frustrations:

- The sales pitch at Sam's Club started out fine, but much of it was a near-inquisition to AT&T's customer service while standing in the middle of a busy store, complete with repeated requests for my Social Security Number and a credit check. Every bit of 20 minutes was spent on the phone, with a difficult to hear or understand, heavily accented CSR. I nearly called it off right there.
- The details of my plan--which I was repeatedly promised could be outlined in detail later--remained vague, as did the details of pricing. The estimate up front sounded good, but the feeling of any kind of hard-and-fast real numbers were elusive. To my insistence, I was assured that I wasn't committed to installation until I was satisfied. But yes, they'll need a refundable $19.95.
- Scheduling for service entailed two appointments, one for satellite service, and one for phone and internet. AT&T recently acquired DirecTV, but it hasn't been a happy marriage, at least not yet. The install was set for Friday, at overlapping time windows (8-11, 9-12). I still was uncomfortable about how it all would work.
- By the time I got home, I already had a flood of emails, and discrepancies were already starting to creep in. They were already referring to me as a new subscriber, and for all appearances, I was feeling committed to the process. But I had confirmation numbers--two of them--on emails--also two of them.
- Wednesday, I got a call that AT&T was coming for install. No, that's not the deal, you're supposed to come Friday! And we're not set for installation yet, I still haven't committed! I want to make sure the plan I was promised is all it's cracked up to be! So, I told them, NO, it's Friday 8-11. I called to ensure that was the case. I called to confirm the terms of the deal, to a better (but still not confident) feeling that it was what I'd been sold.
- Thursday, after still more email come-ons, I was told they were coming again, that day! NO, Friday, it's Friday I told them. I got another call, with my account details, but asking for an entirely different client. Nope, that's not me, I said.
"Steve" from AT&T
- All through this process, I was being called "Mr. James," which is my first name, so I wasn't even sure they knew who I was. I also had to deal with two different companies for three different services, from several CSRs, some with thick and impenetrable accents.
- Friday finally arrived, and one of the services (I couldn't recall which) was 45 minutes from arriving). It turned out to be the DirecTV side, and they started unloading equipment! Dammit, I hadn't committed to the service yet! But, I had confirmed--twice--that the pricing was good, and now, after all of the above, I decided I'd put too much into this to walk away. So, I let them begin work.
- Noon approached, and still no AT&T side of the equation had arrived. I called, and found that there was no active order. Even though this pricing was bundled. Even though the services were interdependent to function, and would be replacing my existing service. Even though I had multiple confirmation numbers and hours on the phone. I was told we'd have to restart the process, and it would be impossible to send out a tech that day. Unacceptable! But I was arguing with yet another strongly-accented, hard to understand CSR. I demanded another person to talk to.
- Trying mightily to be considerate, I talked to a more local person, finally. There was truly no way to get someone out that day, unbelievably. But I gave a good enough fight to get someone for the next day, promises of another gift card, and increased service for (allegedly) the same price.

As of this writing, I have satellite service, with a package of better equipment than I had, but slightly less in the way of channels (something I may try to address). I have a few new holes in my walls that I didn't expect, and still don't quite comprehend, as my house was fully wired for cable. I have internet and phone service allegedly arriving today, with a mid-range speed (and a promised, to-be-installed-later) upgrade to a higher speed. I don't doubt that I'll have to fight again, to get that price down to the "better than you had, for less per month" promise. But I also have that gift card promise, that--by the end--had grown to a $300 Sam's Club gift card, and separate $110 gift card, and a $200 gift card. And I still have my old cable service, which I had to keep in order to have internet in the meantime.

That last bit was a bit odd too. I'd lost internet service from the moment they started installing the satellite service. And for hours, we were in the dark ages, with no connectivity. It inexplicably started to work again, hours later. Clearly my house's cable wiring is still intact alongside, but I have no idea why it was out for those hours.

So, the story is not over. And far from unique. But I'd love to know why this process is so painful. I'd love to know how an industry as vulnerable as this one would make their customers go through this. I'd like for AT&T/U-Verse/DirecTV to get their corporate shit (and uncomfortable marriage) together. Most of all, I'd love to know why I'm saddled with so many channels I'll never use (home shopping, international languages, religion, sports), and losing several that we do.

I'm convinced that the old model will die. Eventually, the process will have to become more streamlined, the content selection more ala carte, and the power more on the side of the customer. But for this 2-year process, I'm stuck with what I have. I mean, after they've drilled several holes in your house, and you've unstrung and restrung the spaghetti wires in several rooms, who wants to go through the process of undoing it and starting over? 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Craziness of Campaign 2016: What More is There to Say?

Image cobbled from and
I just opened my blog, and was surprised to find that I hadn't posted anything since last Sunday. Oops. And why? I guess, because I'm kind of at a loss for what to say. Politics has become so crazy, what good is a hobbyist blogger/pundit? Even the professional pundits are continually wrong when none of the rules apply anymore.

Donald Trump, the front-runner of the GOP nomination, is continuing to defy gravity on the force of his cult of personality. To those of us completely outside the bubble, and people like me who have intensely disliked the man for decades (long before he was either a politician or a Republican), it's utterly baffling. The candidate himself has been rude, crude, and thoroughly unpresidential. He's been more than vague on details, he's been nearly incoherent, besides coming down on both sides of nearly every issue in his days in the spotlight. His followers claim to want to "make America great again," while showing every desire to burn it down. They have a cartoonish, false impression of the current president, of the state of the union, of the reasons for their ever-present anger, for who is to blame for their vague set of grievances, and for what the solution should be.

THAT much is clear. Because for all the ills they seem to think this country has, their favored candidate is one with no diplomatic skills, no political experience, no restraint, no filter and no desire to show anyone how he'd go about fixing any of these "problems." But, I'm sure, even with my sporadic blogging, if I were to go back through my recent posts, I'm sure I've said all of this before. What more is there to say? What the good goddamn is wrong with "conservative" America?

And I put conservative in quotes, because by no measure do even hard-line conservative bedrock values even figure in to their lockstep Trump allegiance.

I'm sitting down to watch the latest GOP debate on CNN. It will likely inspire a post or two, so maybe I'll have a few more things up on the blog. But my gosh, this is turning into a real shitstorm.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

GOP Clown Car Update: Jeb! Dumped to the Curb

Poor Jebra. Donald Trump set his sights on him as his chief rival (which never really materialized, so Trump either did well or guessed completely wrong, your call). And ultimately, Jeb! finally saw the writing on the wall: he was throwing good money after bad. Actually, it's kind of amazing. He was flush with cash at the beginning of this thing. I think the GOP bubble should take a long serious look at the political operatives in Jeb's outfit, and bar them ever advising another campaign. . .

WAIT, what am I saying? Put them to work immediately on the Trump campaign! Yeah, that's the ticket! It couldn't fail!

Bye, Jebbie.


Jeb Bush suspends his campaign

Haunted by his famous last name and perpetually stuck in the shadows of his anti-establishment rivals, Jeb Bush repeatedly confronted rejection by voters and frustrating setbacks throughout the 2016 presidential race. . .

Read more at: CNN


Donald Trump Takes South Carolina, Rubio and Cruz Vie for 2nd & 3rd

Image from source, MSN
National embarrassment Donald Trump easily won the South Carolina Republican Primary, getting somewhere around a third of votes cast. Second place is a virtual tie between establishment favorite Marco Rubio and creepy, Canadian Dominionist, Ted Cruz. It's a horror show.


Trump wins in South Carolina GOP primary; Rubio leads Cruz in battle for second place

Donald Trump won the South Carolina primary on Saturday night, sustaining his position as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida appeared to have very narrowly defeated Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for second place. . .

Read more at: MSN

Hillary Clinton Wins Nevada by Six Points Over Bernie Sanders

I've been on board for Hillary Clinton since she got in the race, so I'm glad to see she's fairly well on her way now to securing the nomination. But I'll give Bernie Sanders credit. As much as I've always liked him, I seriously thought he was at best an extreme long shot, and he's proven to be a formidable candidate. It's not over yet, of course, but there is unlikely to be--barring an unforeseen disaster--any real shakeups on the Democratic side for quite a while, which will do a lot to influence perceptions.


Hillary Clinton's Path Is Clear

Before the New Hampshire primary earlier this month, it was assumed that the Nevada caucus was going to be a victory for Hillary Clinton. She had strong outreach to the state’s Latino and black voters; she had endorsements and support from key figures in the state; and she had her campaign manager, Robby Mook, who cut his teeth organizing the state for the first Clinton campaign in 2008, when she beat Barack Obama there. . .

Read more at: Slate

Trump Gives Defense of Torture Speech Based on Internet Hoax?

Seriously, Republicans, THIS is your guy? Image from source, MSNBC
Seriously, I just can't. I can't figure out how this pompous, hideous-looking creature with the perplexing hair hat, a virtually fact-free Palinesque speaking style, and completely repellent personality is still--STILL--your guy.

He can say or do whatever he wants. It can be a blatant lie. It can be outrageously offensive. It can be completely counter to every one of your bedrock conservative "values." He can curse. He can insult. He is crass and classless. He has a boundless ego. And he has virtually no details on how he would enact an agenda that is far, far deeper into fantasyland than anything Bernie Sanders has put forth. And he's still your guy. His one saving grace (and believe me, "grace" is only being used because it is a time-worn phrase) is that he doesn't appear to be the type to try to put his religious beliefs ahead of the Constitution. No doubt because he either has no real religious beliefs, or is a self-worshipper.

That's not enough, and is still contrary to ordinary conservative principles. I've got to think when this election is over, whether Trump loses, or--horrifyingly--he wins, that Conservatives are going to wake up with a massive hangover.


Trump hails torture, mass killings with ‘pigs blood’ ammo in SC

Donald Trump closed his South Carolina campaign on Friday with a rambling speech highlighted by a giddy, almost childlike, enthusiasm for torturing and summarily executing the suspected enemies of America in the name of safety. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rachel Maddow on the Pitfalls of NOT Nominating a SCOTUS Justice

If conservative Republicans win the PR battle, and manage to stall the Supreme Court nomination process, they have a chance to have a conservative seated. But only if a Republican wins the presidential election. Even with that (for liberal Democrats) unfortunate outcome, the Republicans manage to potentially lose a lot along the way. A number of potential 5-4 decisions, some of which would certainly have gone the conservatives' way, would end in a tie. Meaning they'd lose. So in each scenario where it was that tight, liberals effectively win. This is a huge dice roll for the GOP.

One of Rachel Maddow's biggest strengths is her ability to supply context and history to subjects like this, and tease out the many and sundry implications. One of her best monologues was on this subject on Monday night. Take a look.

Seth Meyers on SCOTUS Nomination Flap

Seth Meyers has hit upon the real opposing forces in the Supreme Court nominating fight that is starting to take the country by storm. It is less between right and left, or Senate vs. Obama. It's really between obstructionist Republicans vs. a strict constructionist view of the Constitution. In effect, it's a battle between the GOP Senate and Antonin Scalia's professed ideology. Isn't it ironic? Don'tcha think?


Seth Meyers Blasts Republican Leadership Over Justice Scalia Replacement

The untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia this past weekend immediately morphed into a pitched political war, a war that Late Night host Seth Meyers points out is largely between Republicans and the U.S. Constitution that Justice Scalia so famously wanted to be interpreted as originally written. . .

Read more at: Mediaite

Monday, February 15, 2016

SNL: Hillary Sings "I Can't Make You Love Me"

Hillary Clinton's biggest obstacle is that 25 years in politics creates a lot of baggage. And all along,  whether with her husband, or individually,  the media has been complicit in making everything about potential scandal, or "how x hurts Clinton." Its reason #397 why I find the notion of "liberal media bias" so laughable. But it has fostered a feeling many have toward Hillary: they're suspicious of her, even if they don't know why. Saturday Night Live has put this odd factoid to song, with Hillary singing it.

Over Time with Bill Maher, February 12, 2016

Bill Maher and his guests, Richard Engel, Michael "Killer Mike" Render, Ana Navarro, Josh Green and Margaret Cho, answer viewer questions after the show.

Who Scares Stephen King? Ted Cruz.

Image from source, The Daily Beast
Stephen King is our generation's premiere horror fiction writer, whatever you personally think of his style. He's a favorite of mine, and has the rare ability to actually give me the lasting willies sometimes, with his terrifying creations. But who terrifies the horror master? Who could possibly scare Stephen King? Ted Cruz, that's who.

I'm with you buddy. --Constant Reader, Editor James Greenlee


Stephen King Talks JFK, Oscars Diversity, and ‘Bulletproof’ Donald Trump

. . .He’s very scary. I actually think Trump, in the end, would be more electable than Cruz because Cruz is a fundamentalist Christian and it would almost be like electing the analog of an Imam—someone whose first guiding principle would be the scripture rather than the Constitution. But I don’t think he could get elected. And, even if he was able to govern without blowing up the world, could we look at a guy who resembles a cable game show host for four years? He has that awful plastered-down hair and everything. . .

Read more at: The Daily Beast

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Breaking: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dead at 79

Image from Wikipedia
Wow. I have this short list--very short list--of people for whom my compassion runs so low, that mustering even a modicum of sympathy for their passing, timely or otherwise, is very difficult. You could throw a couple of Cheneys in there, maybe a Schlafly and a couple of televangelists. But Antonin Scalia, long-serving Supreme Court Justice is on that list. I'm reminded that he was very good friends with fellow justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so I'll keep that in mind, and remember that he's got a family, and they might have had warmer feelings for him than I do. Maybe. So, I'll give them all my sympathy But I'm going to have difficulty working up a tear.

FOX "News" was in such a hurry to get this story out,
that they only managed a sentence, and a faulty headline.
Scalia was not "Chief Justice."
Now, all eyes will turn to the nominating process, and whether or not the US Senate will try to run out the clock so that President Obama doesn't get a third justice on the bench. I think it would be tremendously bad form, for there is absolutely no reason they should stall other than playing politics.  But the stakes for the presidential election just shot through the roof. And the delicacy of the language that the candidates, pundits and other politicians use around the situation could prove daunting. I say, wait for Donald Trump to say something crass before saying anything but the most boilerplate statements. Then, carefully guide the issue to one of fairness, justice, the American way. Don't play politics, the Senate must do its duty, etc., etc. Force the Senate to do their jobs.

We'll see.


Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court justice, dies at 79

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died at the age of 79, a government source and a family friend told CNN on Saturday.Scalia died in his sleep during a visit to Texas. . .

Read more at: CNN

Friday, February 12, 2016

In Case You Missed It: Johnny Depp as Donald Trump in The Art of the Deal

This has been buzzing around the internet for several days, I know, but I just got around to checking it out. I was surprised to see how much they committed to it. This isn't your standard two or three minute sketch. I think they really nailed it. Your mileage may vary.

GOP Clown Car Update: Who Dropped Out Today?

Well, one more down. Today, Jim Gilmore decided. . .oh who cares? Here's the updated graphic!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Is Donald Trump Related to Pharma Douche Martin Shkreli?

I'm not sayin'. . .I'm just sayin'! Know what I'm sayin'?

The resemblance is uncanny.
— Anyone But Trump (@AnyoneButDTrump) February 11, 2016

Help Kickstart The Randi Rhodes Show

Radio Goddess Randi Rhodes retired a couple of years ago, breaking the heart of this daily listener. As much as I love The Stephanie Miller Show (even sans Chris Lavoie), Randi was always my girl. And now she's attempting a comeback. I'm presently on a bit of a financial diet while The Other Half and I pursue career changes, but then I thought. . .hey, I've got this here blog thingy! If nothing else, I can promote her. So, please, if you ever were a fan, check out this video, head on over to the site (bounce your boobies if you feel like it), and consider helping crowd fund this needed voice.

Randi Rhodes Air Force

David Ippolito's Tom Cruise Scares Me Updated for 2016

I haven't checked in with David Ippolito, "That Guitar Man from Central Park" in a while, but I hoped he had a new version of Tom Cruise Scares Me up for the 2016 election. He didn't disappoint. Well, not much. Ippolito is a Bernie Sanders supporter (not that there's anything wrong with that), and his update takes a shot at Hillary Clinton. But let me reiterate, that though Clinton is my preferred candidate, I'll happily support Bernie if he winds the nomination, and that all of the candidates on both sides "scare me" to one degree or another. But Bernie or Hillary much less so than anyone running on the Republican side.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Hampshire Takeaways

I'm a bit puzzled by the media reactions to New Hampshire, and frankly, over the whole presidential campaign. Even voices I like and respect seem to have blind spots, and odd analysis. Here are my short takes.

Hillary Clinton: Hillary lost New Hampshire by somewhere around what she was predicted to by polls and speculation. There were no particular surprises that I could see. And she gave a decent speech, congratulating Bernie Sanders on his win, and rousing her supporters. I have no idea what all of the hand-wringing was about, from pundits and journalists. Should she lose South Carolina? New story.

Bernie Sanders: The only thing surprising about Bernie's performance was that he finally got some decent coverage. I think the astonished reactions may have had something to do with the press largely ignoring him and his events, and then being forced to witness that he has support akin to Trump's. But, of course, with far more substance, and with followers who are considerably more informed, and demanding politically. That's not to say I don't have significant issues with the "Bernie Bros."

John Kasich: That my Ohio Governor Milquetoast came in second is the absolute flip-side of front-runner Trump, showing that there are more nutbars in Vermont than we thought, but that they're are people who respond to what by contrast seems normal, sensible. He's not. But he's eminently preferable.

Marco Rubio and Jeb! Bush: Both continue to be plagued by saying or doing the "wrong" thing in the eyes of the press. Bush continues to be barely a footnote, and Marco, after a strong finish in Iowa, has been assailed as a talking-point regurgitating robot. Anything and everything considered a mistake or error for these guys wouldn't even register if Trump did or said it. I'd take either of these guys over Trump or Cruz. But I wouldn't be happy about it.

Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie: The field is being culled, and only Ben of these three remains standing. I'll be shocked if he isn't the next to go. Chris Christie I'll be sorry to lose. Bully that he is, I think I liked him best of the worst.

Ted Cruz: Cruz is far and away the candidate I'd have the hardest time dealing with if he won the general. He's a disingenuous Dominionist, bent on eliminating the wall between church and state. He's unctuous, creepy, and just plain awful. Fortunately, he won the Iowa caucus, and that is usually the kiss of death. I'm hoping so.

And finally. . .

Donald Trump: The media is going into convulsions (likely only rivaling those of Reince Preibus and the rest of the GOP establishment), self-flagellating over having treated Trump as a clown and a sideshow. Newsflash, news people: He is still a clown and a sideshow. Oh, he may continue to do very well. He may very well win the nomination. And--to my increasing horror--the voters of the United States may have hit peak Idiocracy centuries ahead of schedule, and lead to his eventual election. I hope not.

While the media continues to mea culpa all over itself over the wrong thing, what they should be doing is actually turning their syntax parsing onto him. His speeches--regularly played in their entirety on cable news, regardless of their newslessness--are filled with repetition that makes Rubio's current drubbing completely unjustified. They aren't even speeches at all. They're ad libbing, and bad ad libbing at that. They're akin to Sarah Palin word salad, but half as entertaining. [Story continues below]

Trump's "victory speech" in New Hampshire, if you subtract his thanks to dead and living relatives and his skeevy staff, was more of this empty, crass, 5th-grade level blather. No other candidate in the entire race (or any other) would survive this horrible speech. At best, anyone but Trump would suffer a days-long dissection of its awfulness, to speculation of his dropping out, or dire warnings that he must course-correct. Not Trump. They don't even mention it.

But here, don't take my word for it. Read a few verbatim quotes from the "speech." Tell me this is presidential. Tell me this wouldn't disqualify anyone else. Try to parse any of it for coherency. It's terrible.

Read it here: Haaretz

GOP Clown Car Continues to Empty Out: Carly Fiorina & Chris Christie

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina have bailed  out of the 2016 GOP Clown Car. We can only hope she landed on him, and not the other way around.

Carly was far too icy and prickly to ever gather any steam, as far as I'm concerned. For all of the "unlovableness" people try to heap on Hillary, Carly made her look like your favorite pie-baking, cuddly grandma. And Carly was the mean, brittle other grandma you'd cry when you'd have to visit, and you couldn't enter that one room, or sit on the furniture unless it was covered with plastic. Like her face (ha!).

Christie was probably in my short (very short) list of GOP candidates who wouldn't have freaked me out if he'd won. He's a bully. And probably corrupt. But he'd also get things done without pulling Jesus into everything. and without embarrassing the living crap out of America for the next four years. I'm a bit sorry to see him go.

Monday, February 8, 2016

SNL: Bernie Sanders and Larry David as Bernie Sanders

Good stuff, good episode, actually. I might have enjoyed it more, if I'd ever watched Curb our Enthusiasm, I suppose.

SNL: Nobody LIkes Ted Cruz (Except Iowa)

Saturday Night Live continues with the (entirely on-target) meme that Ted Cruz is unlikable, both visually and on every other level, despite winning in Iowa. And Taran Killam is still entirely too attractive to be playing Cruz.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Open Letter to Arianna Huffington: "Queer Voices" Has Got to Go

Ms. Huffington:

In recent days, The Huffington Post has unceremoniously re-branded its LGBT news section, "Queer Voices." Its previous name, Gay Voices was deemed to be too exclusionary, as not everyone under the sexual minorities umbrella considers themselves to be gay.

Yes, ma'am, I'm talking to you.
The problem is, "Queer" as a word carries a lot of baggage, most of it quite negative. To many--and I'm one of them--it's plainly offensive, particularly if used by others to define me. If a person wants to identify as "queer?" Knock themselves out. Don't assign it to me. If a gay organization or publication wants to use the word or a "Q" or a variant (such as Queerty)? It doesn't bother me. It's from the community, for the community. There is no hint of malice. But when it's a section of what is essentially an online mainstream newspaper? No. No.

I understand the impulse to change the name, and it is doubtless true that you've probably received criticism from trans people, bisexual people and anyone else who doesn't identify primarily as "gay." I also understand that coming up with a short, succinct heading is quite difficult, because by its nature, a short name has a difficult job being inclusionary. Somebody is bound to be left out of a lot of the options out there.

My own gay section doesn't try to solve the riddle, since it's
just little old me here. I'm not LGBT, I'm just "G."
This is borne out by the history of the most common identifier of LGBT. We've gone from "Gay" to "Gay & Lesbian," to "Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual," to "GLBT," (which is pronounceable as glibbit, and includes trans-, whether transsexual or transvestite), to LGBT (ladies first, but unpronounceable). That pretty much stuck, but it started to gather barnacles of other letters and symbols, because it still didn't include everybody. And though that seems only natural, it also starts getting unwieldy, and begging your pardon, quite ridiculous.

The entire point of an abbreviation is that it be shorter, and succinct. LGBTTQQF*GPBDS? doesn't do that. And, invariably, it's still going to leave somebody out. So, I can appreciate HuffPo's dilemma. "Gay" doesn't cut it, what are the succinct alternatives?

- LGBT Voices, probably nixed for the reasons listed above
- Pride Voices, reasonable, inoffensive, probably in use somewhere else
- Lambda Voices, probably too obscure
- Rainbow Voices, probably too vague
- Alternative Lifestyles, nearly as bad as Queer Voices for a lot of reasons

So, again, I understand your dilemma. I happen to think you blew it, royally. You'd have done better by inventing a word, and sub-titling it with a description. You could've done something plain like, "Huffington Post Pride Page," or something more vague like, "Our World: Huffington Post's LGBTetc. Pride Page." Ultimately, it's not up to me. That's why you, Ms. Huffington make the big bucks. But changing "Gay" to "Queer" to be more inclusive and less divisive utterly misses the mark.

I wrote this as an open letter for the simple reason that this little dark corner of the internet was inspired by The Huffington Post, though my sights weren't nearly as lofty (thank goodness). Along with John Aravosis' AmericaBlog, I decided to start my own blog because of HuffPo some nine years ago. I've continued to read it daily, and have used it many times as a source for articles and links. I haven't loved everything, and am utterly lost as to why your entertainment writers are seemingly obsessed with the Kardashians to the point of absurdity. But I've always felt included in the Gay Voices section. Queer Voices doesn't feel remotely as welcoming.


James L. Greenlee, Editor
Greenlee Gazette

GOP Clown Car Gets Less Crowded (Dem Side Down to Two)

It was bound to happen. It's still too full. But the 2016 GOP Presidential Clown Car is finally shaking loose some of its more useless passengers. It's difficult to tell if the crazy level has dropped on average. I mean, Rand Paul is out of there, but he's always been half reasonable/half cuckoo. Mike Huckabee somehow got his fat behind out of that little trunk, but he wasn't ever so much crazy as oily and evil.  Rick Santorum was a frothy mix of very sincere (but awful) religious principles, and desperation. . .with maybe a little crazy in with the lube and unfortunate fecal matter.

But they're leaving behind the primary drivers, Donald J. Trump and Rafael "Ted" Cruz, who between them encompass at least a dozen overlapping negative qualities to different degrees, including batshit crazy. It's a VENN diagram I don't even want to contemplate. Still stuffed in the back seat are Ben "Dr. Stabby" Carson, Jim "Who?" Gilmore, Carly "Bring me those puppies!" Fiorina, (poor, sad) Jeb! Bush and John "Dishwater" Kasich. Marco Rubio is climbing furiously over the center console to try to get a front seat, and I'm guessing Chris Christie is on the roof rack, or tied to the fender or something. But it has to be a little more comfortable with three losers dumped out at the curb.

Likewise, the much smaller batch of Democrats can now focus a little better, being pared down to two after the departure of the dull but dreamy Martin O'Malley. Thursday night's debate, co-moderated by Rachel Maddow, will be the first one-on-one debate of the whole dang 2016 season. No kid's table, no extraneous candidates.

Buckle up kids, we're finally getting the whole thing in actual gear after sputtering around for over a year!

The Most Photo-Shoppable Donald Trump Photo Ever

Ohhhhh, sometimes my talents as a graphic artist, and my sense of inappropriate humor collide. So far, I have not succumbed. . .but it's. . .hard. . .

Image from AOL
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