Monday, April 18, 2011

Do, Re, Mi......

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here. I’ve started on several occasions but frankly, as I progressed it dawned on me that I was beginning to sound like a broken record (my son once came to me and asked “Dad? What are those ‘big CDs’ in the boxes out in the garage?). If you are too young to know, records would sometimes get scratched in a way that forced them to repeat a short section, over and over again…,thus the expression, and the reality that you are getting old if you need to explain that.

Anyway, I came upon something that inspired me. It made me ask myself why more people can’t be like the guy I’m going to tell you about and those he worked with. This is not an original idea (at least I don’t think he did it first) but it could be the first time it was done remotely. He talks about how it brought a tear to his eye and I can understand why. Not that I would ever cry over something like this. But I can certainly see how it could happen (wink, wink).

In stark contrast (well, yeah I need to do a little broken record set up for the story), we have Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the Orange County (CA) Republican Central Committee, insisting she’s not racist after sending a photo shopped picture in an email depicting Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. She says, and I quote, "I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth." Oh yeah, one other thing… along with the photo is the tag line…” Now you know why… no birth certificate”. I’m not going to reprint the photo here. You can Google it if you want to. I will mention that I have blogged about these people associated with the Tea Party (I forgot to mention she’s a Tea Party activist). As I recall I put forward the proposition that these people were ignorant and racist. A lot of people took issue with that. Well, for all of you who did, I present to you Marilyn Davenport, the poster child for ignorance and racism. After you Google her you can read her ridiculously weak apology too.

Some other things I’ve wanted to touch on include the Republican lame ass presentation of ineffectual budget cuts at the expense of just about everyone reading this. I’ve been dying to discuss the fiasco in Wisconsin. I was tempted to touch on an article I read about our way overblown military budget and the fact that the Republicans don’t want to cut any fat there. One thing on that… did you know that a new aircraft carrier is almost completed and due to be launched in 2014? It’s named the Gerald R. Ford. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke doesn’t it? “You steer it to port and it moves to starboard”. It’s no joke. It cost around $15 billion. Then there’s another one that has just been started (not named yet) that is due to be launched in 2020. That one will also cost around $15 billion. That’s $30 billion for two aircraft carriers for a military that is moving towards drone technology. We already have eleven of them! Will we even be using manned jets for combat in 2020? Do we need more aircraft carriers? According to the article we currently spend about the same amount of money on our military as the rest of the world combined! Yeah, that’s right. The rest of the world combined.

OK… so I need to dwell on this just a bit. First, the “Gerald R. Ford”? Really? I think he was a nice guy. I really do. But he didn’t even serve a full term in office. In fact, he wasn’t even elected! He was appointed VP when Spiro Agnew resigned, and then after the demise of “Tricky Dick” Nixon, he became the “Pres”. What the fuck are the criteria for having an aircraft carrier named after you? Have they gone through every dead president and finally HAD to name one the Gerald R. Ford? They name carriers after famous battles, famous historical navel vessels, cities. Gerald Ford? That wasn’t even the guy’s real name! He was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. When his mother left his father she wound up marrying a Gerald R. Ford and they started calling young Leslie Gerald because Leslie senior was an abusive ass hole. So, he was not elected to office, did not serve a full term as VP OR President, and he never in his life had an original name! I’m sure his mother had redeeming qualities but independent creativity apparently wasn’t one of them. Gerald was the butt of many a joke but can you imagine how bad it could have been if his mom had stayed with her first husband? Didn’t anyone see the problem with a person who’s middle and last name were Lynch King?

Anyway, that military budget... We spend about the same amount of money as the rest of the world combined? And we’ve been in Iraq how long? Afghanistan how long? We got our ass kicked in Viet Nam because the Pentagon felt a need to fight with one hand tied behind our backs (at least that is how a Viet Nam veteran described it to me… it was an unpopular war… a political anathema…and I’m sure that had something to do with it). My point is do we really need to spend as much as the rest of the world for the results we’ve been getting? Who’s running this show anyway? We spend as much as the rest of the world and Iraqis are killing us with bombs held together with duct tape and super glue? Something is seriously fucked up with the management of our military.

One last thing on the economy and deficit. There’s an outfit out there called Unity for a Fair Economy. Basically, it’s rich people who aren’t assholes. They believe that richer Americans SHOULD bear a slightly higher tax burden than the average American. I have this argument with some conservative friends on a regular basis but they never get it (can't imagine why). One member of UFE says that he made over 200 grand last year and only paid around 2 grand in taxes. He poses the very valid question of whether or not it’s fair that after deductions he winds up paying around one percent of his income? Of course it isn’t. But your typical conservative will argue that it is. After all, it’s rich people that keep the wheels of our economy turning. Bull shit. It’s the rest of us spending money that do that.

Let me get back on track. That “thing” I was telling you about at the beginning of this post is a project that was put together by a guy named Eric Whitacre. I had never heard of him. He’s a contemporary classical musician and composer. The video I’m going to point you to is rather long by modern “You Tube” standards (about 15 minutes) but it’s well worth the time. What Mr. Whitacre has been doing is putting together “virtual choirs”. You audition by sending him a video of yourself. Another guy (who’s name I don’t remember) does the final editing. The final product is pretty amazing and I strongly encourage you to watch the entire clip. But, that in and of itself, is not my point…

My point is that this work exemplifies why we should NOT be defunding the arts. This project vividly demonstrates what COULD happen if people decided to work together and not in violent opposition to one another. What might the world look like if this type of effort were put into world peace? What might the American economy be like if Republicans and Democrats worked towards a common goal and not two entirely different ones? And finally, do you think Mr. Whitacre is a Republican or a Democrat? I don’t know the answer to that question but I know where I’d lay my money down on a bet.

Here's the link. Do yourself a favor and take the full 15 minutes to enjoy it.


Common Sense

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tragedy of Tragically Turning Tragedy Into Rhetoric

It’s been way too long since I’ve put any thoughts to paper and I guess that, plus the abundance of material, has given me the overwhelming urge to write again. So let’s start talking about the recent tragedy.

First and foremost, my heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those killed or injured in the Tucson shootings. It is a sad reality of life that in a free society, nut jobs are sometimes left to their own devices and those devices turn out to be violent (and senseless). Let’s hope for a speedy and full recovery for those that were injured and that the relatives and close friends of those we have lost find peace. These heinous acts of violence really are an affront to all of us. We need to stand together in solidarity and send a message that this type of violence is condemned.

But of course we won’t. Sit back and ponder how the news surrounding these events has unfolded. Within about a day of the breaking story I began to read intimations that there would be talk of the vitriolic right wing rhetoric being a possible cause of the incident. In most of what I read it was specified that we didn’t KNOW the motive and there was no PROOF that this whacko acted on anything other than his mentally unstable “voices”. The right immediately began to wail that the “left leaning” media was accusing them of instigating the tragedy.

Now wait a minute. Although I’m not crazy about the media even bringing up the possibility that this guy was motivated by anything emanating from the right without evidence, the reporting of the fact that it would be examined is border line news. But what happened next? The right immediately went into heavy defense and counter attack mode. Sarah Palin was one of the first to fire a salvo. She sent out her condolences while stating she abhors violence. She also had her now controversial website, “targeting” those that should be concentrated on during the mid terms with an actual gun sight, taken down pretty quickly. Now, here is where it gets interesting in my mind.

In the face of this horrific event the argument between left and right takes over the story and in some ways actually becomes the story. The grieving families and friends of these victims now not only have to deal with the emotional trauma, but they have to watch as the argument over political rhetoric takes on a life of its own. I think both parties should be ashamed of themselves…. But as usual, the right more than the left. Here’s why.

As stated previously, the initial reaction by the right was really directed more towards innuendo. The first articles I read simply stated that there would be probing into whether or not something coming out of the right gave this guy a push before he pulled the trigger. I didn’t read anything really accusatory until after the snowball started rolling down hill. What I heard immediately following the innuendo was indignation and counter punching from the right. How dare the left accuse them of causing this. Frankly, when I read that I was unaware the left had accused anyone of anything. But, as that snowball continued to roll the left started punching back and transcended the innuendo by pointing fingers. I really think it’s time for everyone to step back and take a deep breath. The right should just shut the fuck up because they don’t have a leg to stand on here. The left needs to back off because they fuel the flames of hate AND lower themselves to the level of the right! Hey, leave the bashing of the right to me and you can keep your noses clean!

Getting back to Sarah Palin. She abhors violence? Really? She hunts doesn’t she? I mean that’s pretty violent isn’t it? And no, I’m not anti hunting, nor am I judging her for being a hunter. Just don’t tell me you abhor violence when you are known to take part in violent activities! Hey, I like a good Clint Eastwood movie as much as the next guy. There are a handful of people out there (let’s assume big hands) that I would likely enjoy kicking the shit out of! But I’m not telling you I abhor violence. Frankly, under certain circumstances, I kind of like violence. So Palin is lying right out of the blocks.

Then there is that asshole Bill O’Reilly. Talk about someone I’d like to kick the shit out of (See? I told you I like violence). This guy’s nose grows every time he opens his mouth. Go to You Tube or Google and do a search of Bill O’Reilly lying. He’s a lying sack of shit. So anyway, he does this over the top, melodramatic castigation of Paul Krugman and a piece Krugman did on the divisive climate we have fostered and the conservative roll in it. O’Reilly has the unmitigated gall to call Krugman a liar! You have got to be kidding me! I think Krugman makes the right really nervous because he’s intelligent, well credentialed, and if the morons in this country ever learn enough English to know what he’s saying the right will be in very deep shit.

Getting back to the point (I had to go off on O’Reilly…. I fucking hate that guy), what the right seems to be missing (and maybe the left too) is that this isn’t really about whether or not right wing rhetoric is what set this guy off. It’s about a fucking lunatic with a gun. But, if you feel a need to bring rhetoric into the argument, it’s about whether or not lying, misleading, vitriolic verbal vomit MIGHT have set this guy off. And if not this guy, the next guy. We already had one act of violence by a fruitcake who said he got his direction from Glenn Beck (another guy I would thoroughly enjoy kicking the shit out of). Is it really that important what sets off this guy or that guy. Not really. What’s important is CAN it set off this guy or that guy. If the answer is yes, THEN STOP DOING IT. It’s the responsible thing to do.

But the GOP stopped being responsible a long time ago. If they were responsible, they wouldn’t fight so hard to keep the Bush Tax Cuts for the very rich. If they were responsible they would have worked with the left to formulate meaningful healthcare reform. If they were responsible they would speak out against the lies that come out of FOX News. If they were responsible they would unilaterally condemn the infantile rants that get hurled at the moronic element of our society by the Limbaughs (yet ANTOTHER guy that would be fun to kick the shit out of) et al. Should I go on? They would target something meaningful as they regain control of Congress and not the health care bill which there is NO chance of them repealing. They would acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the Democrats have accomplished SOMETHING in the last two years. You have to be brain dead to not see things as having improved from when THE MORON left office. They would, at least every once in awhile, sit back and say “mea culpa” (the left might do this a little more often too… the just don’t have as many opportunities).

I could continue but what’s the point. In the wake of multiple deaths and injuries in Tucson, the right is arguing their innocence when frankly, we don’t know if they are innocent or not. Hey, the guy with the gun is the only one we can really point fingers at. But to sit back and say things like gun sights on a map, quotes like I want my constituents “armed and dangerous” (that Michelle Bachman is a hoot isn’t she?), and other like minded analogies are OK, or not potentially dangerous is both ignorant and irresponsible. If just ONE mentally deranged individual goes on a shooting bender because Michelle “I’m so stupid that you can’t believe just how stupid I am until you hear me open my mouth” Bachman says she wants you “armed and dangerous” isn’t that one too many? If there’s ANY chance this Tucson dimwit acted based on rhetoric… any chance at all….shouldn’t that rhetoric be stopped? No? You don’t think so? Well, could you explain that to the families of the victims of this heinous act? I’d be curious to hear your views and I’m sure they would be too.

A final note on gun control. I have owned guns. I do not want the government telling me I no longer have the right to own them if I choose to. But I DO want the government to get off their collective asses and do something about the PROCESS of buying guns. They need to tell the NRA to shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down! I’m not 100% sure what the process is now but from what I understand it hasn’t changed much, if at all, from when I last purchased a gun (and that was probably around 35 years ago). There are federal requirements that are consistent throughout the country and then (and this is where it gets dicey) there are state requirements that vary from state to state. Fuck the states. I don’t want Utah’s maniac driving over to Washington on a political hunting trip. Hell, I don’t want Utah’s (or anyone else’s) maniacs driving over to Washington with a gun period! Not that Washington has any heavy duty gun control going on that I’m aware of. But that’s not the point. Currently the federal requirements are a joke. You fill out a questionnaire that asks you things like “Ever been convicted…? Ever been a psycho….? Ever had the urge to take some target practice in a shopping mall…?” You know, stuff like that. Like I said, it’s a joke.

State control of guns is worthless too unless we are going to start restricting travel across state lines. That’s not going to happen. We are a free country. Besides, we can’t even police our national borders. Forget about states. So the Feds need to step it up and create federally mandated gun control laws that outweigh and outrank anything the states can come up with. If the states want to fight that fine. Let the states have their own standards of gun control but with the caveat that they are going to be required to set up, at their own expense, inspection stations at EVERY point where one of their roads, or a federal road, crosses their border into another state. AND, they will be required, at their own expense, to man a state police “border patrol division” tasked with monitoring the space between those roads. They will be responsible for KEEPING THEIR GUNS IN THEIR OWN STATE. If they don’t want to do that, they will adhere to the federal requirements.

Those federal requirements need to have some teeth. This may take awhile to put into play but it will be well worth it. First and foremost, state and federal criminal data bases will need to be kept up to date and made accessible to any retail outlet that sells firearms. If a name pops up on that database, game over, you can’t buy a gun. Next, to be an accredited mental health facility you will need to enter all patients into a federal data base. Same deal. If your name pops up no sale. But what about privacy issues you cry? How can we allow a mental health patients confidentiality to be compromised? If you don’t want your privacy invaded, DON’T TRY TO BUY A GUN. I also think if we are going to trust you to own a gun, you need to be registered to vote. It’s another point of reference for tracking you AND it at least tells us that you are engaged in the way the country YOU LIVE IN is run.

After you “pass” the screening in the store, your information would be forwarded on to a federal division that investigates your background. Basically the same thing that happens at the store level but more thorough. The store is a “pre-screening” if you will. The federal investigation is the real deal. They would be required to run your name, address, social security number, and whatever other identifying information we can come up with, including aliases, and do everything possible to insure that you are a responsible, law abiding, level headed, reasonably sane adult. Then, and only then, would you be approved for gun ownership. Any retail outlet that tried to screw with this system would immediately lose their license to sell firearms. Selling of firearms at “gun shows” or privately without going through a licensed gun dealer (you go in with your gun, the person who wants to purchase the gun, and they run the check on BOTH OF YOU AND the gun) would immediately become illegal. If a serial number from a gun that YOU were the registered owner for turned up in the hands of someone else and there was no record of theft, YOU would be guilty of a crime.

Yeah, the plan needs work but you know I’m right. If you have nothing to hide, and you aren’t a fucking crack pot, you can’t object to this can you? Hey, I’m Common Sense and so is this! We can stop the argument over the Second Amendment immediately and just implement a process that does everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of those that would use them in ways we don’t want them to. Will it eliminate all of our gun problems. No. Will it radically reduce them? Yes, of course it will.

Now, if we can just do something to radically reduce the maniacal drivel that comes out of the mouths of the moronic conservative segment of our society we may REALLY be onto something.


Common Sense

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Custer's Last Stand... But Unfortunately, Not FOX's.

OK. I’ve been trying to tone it down a little bit. After all, I have friends that are conservative and they likely don’t appreciate it when I go off on the right. Now, in my defense, remember it’s the radical right I really take issue with. Well, I also take issue with the GOP’s mastery of manipulating those on the right that are, well, shall we say, hmmmm…. I’m trying to find the right term here… can I put this….. I want to be delicate…. FUCKING MORONS!!!

Sorry, I’m really pissed off. I just read an article about FOX “News” (and it’s not really news… it’s total, unadulterated bull shit that thrives based on a market of idiots that believe the lying hateful crap that emanates from that piece of shit station… is that delicate enough?). You may be aware that Mr. Obama has recently published a children’s book. It’s entitled “Of Thee I Sing, A Letter To My Daughters”. He speaks of 13 Americans “whose traits he sees in his own children”. It’s a picture book and it begins with the sentence “Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?” The proceeds from this book will go to the families of fallen and disabled veterans.

Now, I apparently share two traits with the POTUS (I likely share more but for now we’ll just consider two). I have two children who I love completely. To me, they too are wonderful. I also think we don’t take good enough care of our disabled vets and the families of those we have lost in action. In many cases these families not only lose a loving father, brother, sister, son, daughter, etc., but the primary bread winner of the family affected. The impact could last years. So as I see it, this children’s book (and it is, very much, just a children’s book, not political satire, or a political statement of any kind.) is a good thing. It’s a very nice, considerate, loving thing. It’s a lovely message and the proceeds will be given to a very worthy cause. Who could take issue with it? Why those lying, hateful, shit suckers over at FOX “News” that’s who.

FOX ran a headline that says “Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General”. FOX “News” is up in arms because one of the 13 Americans Mr. Obama cites in his children’s book is Sitting Bull, the now infamous Lakota holy man who FOX “News” would have you believe led his crazed savages in their blood thirsty quest to kill “General” Custer. Are you with me so far? Good.

Now I’m going to take a chance here. Maybe I should keep my opinion to myself but I just can’t stand it anymore. So here goes. If you buy into the shit storm that is FOX News, then you too are unfortunately a FUCKING MORON. There, I said it. I have completely reached my breaking point. I hope I don’t lose any friends over it. What I do hope is that this blog will open some people’s eyes. Listen, if you want to be a conservative, then be a conservative. Do your research. Get your facts straight. Then draw your conclusions. If you are conservative based on REALITY then more power to you. But, if you are getting your facts from FOX, then I’m afraid you are a FUCKING MORON. They rarely disseminate facts. What they toss out to the masses is vitriolic hyperbole, misleading propaganda, and outright lies. This story on Obama’s children’s book is a perfect example. Where should I begin?

I love the Sioux. I’ve read extensively on them and they were a proud honest people. They treated with the U.S. in good faith and got screwed EVERY time. They loved their families. Now we can sit here and argue manifest destiny, progress, the greater good, etc. That’s not my point (although I’d be glad to discuss that too, but for now, let’s stick to FOX “News” and why they suck.

First of all, Custer was not a General. He was a Lieutenant Colonel. During the Civil War he had been given a field commission to the rank of General but after the war he was made a Captain. At some point he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. So, FOX got that wrong. Right off the bat they’re full of shit.

Next, Sitting Bull was not a “chief” when the battle occurred. He was a respected holy man but not a chief. He did lead a band into Canada in an attempt to hold on to the old way of life but it didn’t work out. He wound up surrendering and living out the rest of his days on a reservation. Well, he got to tour with Buffalo Bill too. Anyway, by this point he was considered a “chief” but not at the time of the Custer Battle. In fact, he considered himself to be chief of all the Lakota and was recognized as such by the U.S. Government. He was not recognized by all the Sioux as such though. But that’s another story. Oh, and he was murdered. It was done by one of his own people, a tribal policeman, but the general consensus is that the U.S. sanctioned it. They had come to arrest him. Couldn’t continue to have any native people around who were looked up to and respected. Get rid of them and any “threat” of an “uprising” was all but eliminated. Crazy Horse was murdered too. But I’m drifting from the point.

So, at the time of the Little Bighorn, Sitting bull was not a chief. There’s actually an interesting story of him having a vision of many soldiers falling into the camp prior to the Custer Fuck (get it… cluster… Custer… a clever play on words….). During the battle he stayed in his teepee praying and doing what he could, in an esoteric kind of way, from there. There were multiple leaders on the field of battle, the most prominent of which was likely Crazy Horse. Others included Roman Nose (that’s not a joke… I’ve tried to find out how he got that name in the past with no success. Obviously had to be connected to something “whitey” did as I seriously doubt any Native Americans had knowledge of the Romans!), American Horse, Gall, Rain In The Face, Kicking Bear, "everyone who was anyone" wanted in on the action (it’s been awhile since I looked at this stuff). It is indisputable however that Sitting Bull did NOT take part in the battle or in any way plan or direct it.

Next up is the reality that Custer was an asshole. He was not liked by his troops. He graduated dead last in his class from West Point. He had one of, if not THE highest casualty rates among his troops during the Civil War. He was an egomaniac. And he constantly disregarded advice and even orders. At one point in his career (post Civil War) he was even suspended without pay for almost a year. He absolutely loved the concept of leading his troops in a charge to glorious victory. But, Custer was under orders to NOT engage the enemy at Little Big Horn. Custer was on a scouting mission. He was advised by his Crow scouts to not engage the enemy. They recognized immediately that there were far too many of them. The Sioux and Cheyenne that were camped there knew of Custer’s close proximity but weren’t concerned. If I remember correctly he had less than 400 troops. No one knows for sure how many able bodied warriors were there but estimates range into the thousands based on the size of the camp. Some think it was the largest summer gathering ever. The natives never imagined Custer would be stupid enough to fuck with them.

So, the Sioux and Cheyenne were not the aggressors. Custer attacked them. They were minding their own business. And not only was he stupid enough to attack, but he split his command. He sent …hmmm…. Reno I think was the guys name, probably a Captain, to attack the southern end of the encampment. He then took the remaining men and swung around to attack from the north. It’s theorized he knew how badly he had fucked up when he realized how far away the northern end was! He sent a command to attack in the middle too but they were quickly turned back and rejoined Custer. I think he also left some of his troops behind (Benteen?) or perhaps they were slower coming up because of wagons and equipment. Lucky them… they were late!

Reno ( I checked… it was Reno) knew right away he didn’t stand a chance and retreated to some trees where he held off further advances at least in part because by the time the warriors got back to him they realized there would likely be hell to pay so they packed up and got out of there. Benteen also had joined up with Reno. Taking them out wasn’t worth it. They were no longer a threat.

So, the death of Custer and the other cavalry soldiers at Little Big Horn were a direct result of the actions of Custer, not Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull did not kill Custer. No one knows for sure who did kill Custer. The natives didn’t even know it was Custer until it was over. They always identified him by his hair (I think they called him Yellow Hair) and he had gotten it cut. He never got to the northern end of the encampment. It wouldn’t have mattered. He directed his men to some high ground where they likely freaked out completely when hit with the full realization of how many Sioux and Cheyenne they had attacked. Hell, maybe one of THEM killed Custer.

So, much like the assholes of the 1800’s who fanned the flames of rage by putting it on the Indians, FOX is misleading and lying so they can turn Obama’s book into a club and beat him on the head with it. By the way, if you haven’t visited the battlefield I highly recommend it. They do an excellent job of describing the battle and you can walk trails to the various points where certain actions were carried out. You can not tread on the hill where Custer bought the farm. He’s not buried there but some are I believe. It's fenced. There are markers everywhere that indicate where soldiers fell. Now, markers have started to pop up that show where Sioux and Cheyenne warriors fell. It was a battle, not a massacre. And Custer started it. FOX, because they are the biggest assholes on TV are again distorting reality to discredit what should be respected as an honest attempt for a father to send a loving message to not only his daughters, but children everywhere. Fuck you FOX. You’re douche bags.

I’ve proofed this a couple of times and believe it or not, toned in down a bit! It dawned on me that not everyone who believes the crap that comes out of FOX is a fucking moron. I think there are those that believe it because it is what they want to hear. They are so opinionated or full of hate for the left that they desperately want what they hear on FOX to be true. I suppose they pretend that it is. So I guess there are two classifications of "believers". Fucking morons and closed minded assholes. I’m not sure which is worse.


Common Sense

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fred Rogers WILL Hurt You...

Hello again. I don’t know exactly what to talk about today but I’m feeling pressure to write so let’s see what happens.

I guess the hot topic would be the election. Wow, what a serious ass kicking. And it’s so incredibly sad because things were starting to get a little better. But we’ve been down this road before and I’m somewhat deflated on the subject so let’s just say that the Republicans own the house and will unless (until?) they show us they don’t know what to do with it. Then we can only hope the tide rolls the other way. Later on I’ll cite yet another reason why. But first….

I received an email recently about a Lee Marvin appearance on The Tonight Show back when Carson was king. In the email, it says that Johnny questioned Lee on his heroism and subsequent wounding during the invasion of Iwo Jima. Lee did his humble, mumbly, bumbly, thing (those of you old enough to remember him know what I’m talking about) and briefly commented on getting wounded in the posterior (ass for those of us less genteel). He then went on to highly praise someone he truly deemed to be a hero. He spoke of this guy facing fire and encouraging his troops and on, and on, and on. Then he says this hero is none other than Bob Keeshan. You know Bob. Yes you do. You know him as Captain Kangaroo.

So, it’s a lovely email that tells a lovely story of two war heroes. I’m sure you can find it if you Google mumbly, bumbly. OK, maybe that won’t work but you will likely get a hit if you Google Marvin and Keeshan. You will also get hits on Snopes and Snopes like sites that explain the story is false. Not completely mind you… but mostly. Lee Marvin did serve in the Pacific and was in fact wounded in the derriere (again, that’s ass for you and me). He did not take part in the invasion of Iwo though. He landed on Saipan.

The other fallacy is that he never met or observed Captain Kangaroo (who I’m guessing was Private Kangaroo at the time) in combat. In fact, the good captain enlisted too late to see action. Shortly after he enlisted we dropped the bomb… then did it again for good measure…. And the war was over.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the story per se. I mean no one is claiming that Lee and the Captain were raging child molesters. Nobody accused them of heinous crimes against humanity. Nobody said they were traitors or served less than honorably. It’s really all quite positive. BUT, why the fuck do people make this stuff up? Is there somebody out there who just has a huge “man crush” on one or both of these guys and felt the need to enlarge their legacies? Were they not quite good enough in someone’s eyes and therefore in need of some polishing? Are there people out there that wake up and say “Hmmmmm… I think I’ll make up a story about Lee Marvin and that Kangaroo fellow today”.

Hang on, it gets better. After the Lee/Private Kangaroo story, the “author” (unpublished I’m guessing) goes on to tell us a little bit about Mr. Rogers. Yes that Mr. Rogers. Apparently Gentle Fred was actually a blood thirsty former Nave Seal who served in Viet Nam and had 25 confirmed kills to his name! That’s right… don’t fuck around in “the neighborhood” or you’ll wind up bleeding out in a dumpster. The long sleeved shirts and cardigans were used to cover the many tattoos the psycho had amassed over the years. I can see it now. The director yells “that’s a wrap” and Fred immediately tears off his shirt and sweater, flexes his mighty pectorals and biceps, and sticks a Ka-Bar into a squealing live pig while screaming “I’m killing you ya fucking pig! I’m killing you slow, right here on the stage in front of all these freaked out kids! And what the fuck are you kids staring at? You wanna be next? Yeah baby! When I’m done here I think I’ll go kill something else!” Thanks Fred but I think I’ll pass on the “Won’t you be my neighbor” invite.

What? Huh? That’s not true either? No tattoos? No military service? No KILLS? Well why the hell would somebody make that shit up! What gives with these assholes? What do they expect to gain? Are they just completely fucking nuts? I think that’s likely it. They’re nuts. And speaking of nuts….

Have you heard about Illinois Representative John Shimkus? He’s a Republican who is seeking the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (remember, I promised “more on that later" concerning why we want the Democrats to take back the House). According to Mr. Shimkus we have nothing to fear from global warming or climate change of any kind. Why? Because it says in the Bible that God promised Noah that he would never again destroy the world. He just wanted this one shot at a flood of epic proportions and then that would be it. What else has Shimkus said? Well, he’s indicated that seeing people in his home state ice fishing is PROOF that global warming is a hoax. He’s also said that we exhale CO2 and wants to know if that should be made illegal (OK, he’s kidding… but the joke conveys his brilliant analysis on the effects of CO2).

Listen, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and likely again, and again, and again). I have absolutely NO problem with an individual’s religious beliefs. What I have a problem with is when those beliefs start to close in on my personal space! I do not want this guy making decisions that affect me. I mean let’s look closely at what this dim wit is saying. Basically what he is saying is that we can all go ahead and launch our nukes… all of them…. How many thousands are out there now? I don’t even know but I bet it’s a shit load. So let’s all launch because God promised Noah it would be cool. Either they won’t detonate, or the cumulative affect will be negligible.

I think it’s possible for a biblical scholar to pretty much argue ANY position by quoting the bible. For example, Shimkus says God won’t allow the destruction of the world because he promised Noah. But wait a minute! Aren’t there other passages in the Bible that say naughty behavior will make God angry enough to take us out? Doesn’t he threaten to smite us? Doesn’t smite mean kick ass? And if Shimkus argues God will protect us, can’t it also be argued that God helps those that help themselves. How about the nutcases that quote scripture in defense of their hatred of gays and lesbians? Doesn’t it say in the Bible that God loves everyone? I don’t think it says God loves everyone, except the people God doesn’t love. If it does, could someone point me in that direction?

I think a lot of people like to quote that bracelet that says WWJD? Just in case one of you have been in a cave for the last 40 years it stands for What would Jesus do. Anyway, they like to quote it while walking around doing stuff that Jesus wouldn’t do! But this does illustrate just how important the separation of Church and State really is. If we’re not careful we might wind up with too much representation like John Shimkus and boy oh boy will we ever be fucked then!

Common Sense

Monday, November 1, 2010

God's Will? Uh, I Don't Think So.....

OK, time to tear apart Christine O’Donnell and by association, those that support her. First of all, it’s the Sarah Palin syndrome all over again. What ever happened to intellect? How can these people keep getting nominated and elected? I have a conservative friend who says it’s because these people are not your typical politicians and America yearns for a “breath of fresh air”. OK, that’s fine. But is Christine O’Donnell the best they can come up with? Do people really think Sarah Palin is qualified to run the country? How the fuck does Michelle Bachman get elected? Another conservative friend of mine who is obviously pretty bright said he thinks his 9 year old niece is a breath of fresh air but he also recognizes she’s not qualified to run the government (as I’ve said, there are a lot of intelligent conservatives out there… unfortunately they also have a larger share of the morons).

So, recently Christine O’donnell stated that God is the reason she’s running. She believes God wants her to be his representative on Capital Hill. She further stated that she experienced a spike in the polls immediately following a prayer meeting that focused on her success bolstering her personal belief in the power of prayer.

Now, before anybody starts beating me on the head with an atheist stick let me state for the record that I do believe in something. What I don’t believe in is my ability to define or characterize exactly what that something is. Catholics believe they are right. Protestants believe they are right. Jews believe they are right. Muslims believe they are right. On and on. How arrogant are we? How can we, as human beings, feel qualified to define God, especially in the face of so many different and conflicting views on who and what God is? And it’s not just that. How truly arrogant of us to insist we are right and all others wrong.

We’ve all watched westerns where “Cowboys and Indians” reference “The Great Spirit”. Actually a truly accurate translation of that concept would be “Great Mystery”. And no, I’m not native. But I’ve read extensively on the subject. Isn’t that characterization far more humble than the specific definitions assigned by our current crop of “organized” religions? It screams “yes, there is something out there but we are not fully capable of understanding it and it would be incredibly presumptuous for us to try”. Would you want someone who didn’t know you to suddenly start defining exactly who you were and what you stood for? I wouldn’t. Yet for some reason a lot of people believe it’s OK to do that to someone or something that in theory is omnipotent!

As you have probably figured out by now I have problems with organized religion. Please do not confuse that with religious people. I do not necessarily have a problem with them (unless they are trying to ram their beliefs down my throat). In fact, one of the great things about this country is that we can believe or disbelieve whatever we want to. I know incredibly nice, intelligent, gifted, people who are quite religious. I like them all. I also know some pretty incredible atheists. And some amazing agnostics. And that is exactly why it is so imperative that we respect the separation of church and state. And that is why Christine O’Donnell should not be making statements that involve God in our political structure.

Think about it this way. How will she explain it if she loses the election? Will that too be God’s doing? If so, he must be quite the jokester eh? “Hey Christine… run for the Senate! It’s my will! Guffaw, guffaw, look son (note clever reference to Jesus), she fell for it! Won’t it be a hoot when she loses?” And if she wins, just how bad will that be for our country? This woman sat in debate recently almost insisting that separation of church and state was not a constitutional issue. Supporters insist she was right because the words separation of church and state do not appear in the Constitution. Intelligent people can’t believe she was stupid enough to argue that in a public forum when those of us who are not so caught up in the “rapture” and can still think straight recognize that separation of church and state is used to define the Supreme Court’s interpretation of one aspect of the First Amendment.

Here is the text of that amendment…. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Stating that separation of church and state is not covered in the constitution is identical to stating that nowhere in the constitution does it state that it’s legal to build a church. It says that congress can not make any laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. It does not say that a state can’t illegalize the construction of churches. Show me where it says you are allowed to build a church! It says you can exercise your religion but it does NOT say you are allowed to have a place dedicated to doing so.

This woman is one of those idiots I spoke of in my last blog and she has risen to national prominence through the will of other idiots, not God. If God was involved with this he would have chosen someone far more intelligent. I don’t think God wants to see any further degradation of what is already arguably a stalled and ineffectual system. If you want to see what a real shit storm looks like just wait until after tomorrow. If the projections are right and the Republicans do as well as they are supposed to do we’re all fucked.

What’s interesting is that America embraces advancement in so many things. We want more bells and whistles on our cars. We want medical breakthroughs that save and extend lives. We love our computers and smart phones. Fifty years ago not everyone had a TV and they were black and white. Now everyone has a TV and they are rapidly becoming mostly HD capable flat screens. Our appliances have become technological marvels. You can heat up a frozen dinner in the microwave within minutes when it used to take an hour in a conventional oven. But when it comes to politics and running the government we allow the propaganda machine to inhibit progress. We, as a country, are on the brink of taking a giant step backward. You will never convince me this is a good thing. There’s an expression in business that says “if you’re not moving forward you’re moving backward”. Someone tell me why in God’s name (pun intended) we would want to completely ignore the gains made since THE MORON’s reign ended and take that giant step backward. It doesn’t make any sense. But right now, it appears the idiots are getting their way and we will be facing more doom and gloom. How do we know they are idiots? Because they don’t RECOGNIZE the gains we have made.

People… wake up. Please get out there and vote for Democrats, or at the very least, moderate Republicans (if there are any of those left). I don’t want to see what’s left of my retirement slide back into the toilet and neither do you. If we’re not moving forward, we’re moving backward.

Common Sense

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Village Missing Idiots? Not Likely, They're Everywhere.

We live in a country that is currently involved in nothing short of civil war. No, it’s not a violent war and it likely won’t be for quite some time (not counting the occasional “escapee” from the “lunatic fringe). It’s a war of words. And what both frightens and amazes me is that in what is arguably the greatest country in the world so much can be said without facts, documentation, historical record, or even common sense to back it up.

This war is likely un-winnable. Battles will be won and lost but the war will go on as long as we remain a democratic republic. The truly unfortunate thing to me is that these battles are not won by intellect. It’s a two party marketing campaign. The campaign strategies have been developed as if they were commercials for consumer products. And there is no accountability. Have you ever wondered how it’s possible that more than one laundry detergent is touted as the best? How can it be that nothing lubricates better than a certain engine oil, unless it happens to be another engine oil that nothing lubricates better than. How can you claim something tastes better than its competitors? Isn’t taste a subjective thing? I’ve even heard that toothpastes really can’t whiten teeth (and that the abrasive nature of whiteners can harm your enamel… let’s promote what’s bad for you…another subject entirely). We are continually saturated with an endless stream of advertising that is aimed at making us buy specific products, or vote for specific candidates.

I think we can all agree that the election of public officials is a pretty important thing. Some people should by definition be unelectable. We do not want unqualified individuals making decisions that can prove critical to our lives and life styles. But it happens all the time. How that possible? Well, here’s my take on it.

The first problem is that there is no accountability in political “advertising”. We need an extremely visible watchdog group that monitors this stuff and calls bullshit on it when necessary. Freedom of speech should not protect blatant lies and misrepresentations when it comes to selecting qualified people to run the government. If a candidate lies they need to be called out on it immediately. If a candidate attempts to disseminate information that is inaccurate or misleading they should be called out on it immediately. It’s a shame this is necessary but it is, because candidates and their parties spit bull shit at us all the time, and because of the next reason….

Our country has an extremely high number of voting idiots. A friend of mine recently commented that while at his local watering hole he was amazed at how many people were quoting political ads almost verbatim. It didn’t matter what was being said. They were quoting it. Now, anybody care to bet on whether or not they researched it first? I didn’t think so. This is a big problem. Idiots are given an equal say in what will determine our futures. I don’t like that. I don’t want an idiot making decisions for me. This is how Michele Bachman got into office. I realize we live in a society where every law abiding citizen has an equal right to vote but I’m extremely uncomfortable with idiots contributing to decisions that affect the country. It’s bad for me. It’s bad for you. It’s bad for America.

The next thing that has absolutely got to go is corporate campaign contributions. There is no way in hell that an elected official can be unaffected by large campaign contributions. This is what is meant when someone says our country is run by corporations. This too is bad for me, bad for you, and bad for the country. The only way to eliminate this particular type of corrupt influence (because it is nothing less) is to publicly fund elections. We need a process in place to determine viable candidates. A caucus that starts locally and slowly expands to the level of representation be it a district, city, county, state, etc. Everyone gets the same funding. Everyone gets the same airtime. You create a level playing field. Anything else really doesn’t make sense. When we were kids we were constantly told that one of the reasons this was a great country was because anyone born here could become President. That’s not really true is it? Anyone born here with access to money maybe but, not just anyone.

This next election has me extremely worried. It’s no secret that I lean left and it’s not looking good for those that do. Why? Revisit my comments on idiots. The economy is gaining traction. I read today that unemployment claims dropped last month to the lowest since July. The stock market is up. Most of the “experts” believe that the worst is over. Sure there is still work to be done but there is no doubt the country is in better shape than we were when Obama took office. Yet “the people” are restless. How can they forget the reasons for the ass whooping the Democrats put on the Republicans in 2008? Are we really that short sighted as a nation? Is Obama doing everything right? I don’t think so. Will the Republicans? Definitely not. I haven’t heard a single new idea or viable alternative from a Republican yet. They just parrot the same old crap that they have for the last 20 years. Reduce taxes (VERY dumb move with our current deficit), reduce spending (they don’t strive for that anymore…. GW the MORON spent like a drunken sailor), give the government back to the people (I’m sorry? Didn’t the people elect those currently in office?).

I guess we’ll see what happens come November 2nd. I’m still hopeful that all the doom and gloom talk is just that… talk. I think if voter turnout is huge, the Republicans won’t do as well as they think they’re going to. Nor should they. Christine O’donnell? Really? I’ll be blogging on her next but how can you support a party that elevated her to viable candidate status? Fucking idiots.


Common Sense

Friday, October 22, 2010

I (Bleep) That The (Bleep) Will (Bleep) If (Bleep) (Bleeps)

OK, this has got to be said. We have become WAAAAAAAYYYYYYY too paranoid on the “politically correct” front as exemplified by the recent firing of Juan Williams from NPR. I don’t like Juan, mainly because he hangs around those assholes at FOX “Not News” and any association with that inflammatory, hateful, lying, distorting, bed of ignorance, network is a big negative in my world. But we need to move away from the ridiculous and more towards sanity when it comes to this kind of shit.

When I was young, political correctness was barely a concept. People told racial, sexist, and religion based jokes all the time. I was guilty of it too (but I used to be a Republican as well so you see, people CAN change). I used to justify it by saying I was an “equal opportunity jokester”. I’d make fun of anyone, including myself, therefore it was OK. Well, it wasn’t OK. If someone was laying in bed with lung cancer, knowing they would be passing in the very near future, you wouldn’t walk in and offer them a cigarette thinking it was a fucking riot. Well, when a race, religion, or any other group of people has suffered at the hands of discrimination, bias, or stereotyping, it is very much like a cancer. There’s nothing funny about it.

So, with age I have gradually acquired wisdom and with that, greatly enhanced my ability to recognize ill founded bias. I have become a lot more sensitive to it. I preach it to my kids. Occasionally, they will even say “I have a joke… oh, never mind…. Dad won’t like it..." (which also concerns me because it means this kind of crap is very much alive within our youth). But the firing of Juan was a huge over reaction, a violation of his free speech, and a basic failure to recognize the “elephant in the living room”.

Islam is the largest religion in the world. It isn’t going anywhere. We, as Americans, need to become comfortable with it. But right now, we’re not. And those of you who know me have heard me talk about the answer to that problem (well, what in my OPINION is the answer). Muslims need to rise up and do an overkill condemnation of radical Islam to show the world they aren’t just speaking out about it, they’re doing something about it.

Somewhere there is a moderate Muslim whose brother knows a guy whose neighbor has a cousin that knows where Bin Laden is lurking. He needs to blow the whistle. Somewhere, there is a moderate Muslim whose sister works with the wife of a terrorist sympathizer whose best friend is married to the aunt of a suicide bomber slated to walk into a shopping mall somewhere. That person needs go to the authorities and spill everything he knows. And this has got to happen frequently. And it needs to be publicized heavily. When that happens, the rest of the world, including America, will begin to accept Islam.

I think Muslims also need to consider adapting to the cultures they are emigrating to. Now, those left of me will likely condemn this particular opinion but, people are hesitant to embrace those that are different. Be it out of fear, distrust, or just the fact that it is an “unknown”, human nature tells us to be wary of someone different from us. The mentally handicapped person on the street repels us. The blatantly intoxicated homeless person repels us. People who are very loud and overly exuberant often repel us. It’s not just based on race, religion, and gender. It’s based on “different”. But beyond that…

As civilized human beings (well, some of us) we learn to rise above that base instinct (at the very least, when forced to, but hopefully more often than that) to see what’s NOT different. We look for the good, the worth, reasons to NOT be repelled. We look for what is present that might attract us. It’s not always there (think Ted Bundy), but if fully civilized, we look for it. If moderate Muslims take my advice, we are going to quickly see it. The fact that they wear different clothing and have different religious beliefs will become less relevant. We will look at them as the people who helped rid the world of another bad element. Their children will learn that radical Islam is something to be stamped out, not embraced and through that, the pool of potential recruits will diminish. They need to police themselves even more vigorously than the rest of the world polices them.

I often joke with people that recreational activities that will likely result in death, should something go wrong, hold no attraction for me. I have no desire to skydive. If something goes wrong, you are likely dead. I don’t want to bungee jump. If something goes wrong, you are likely to die. I’ve never been up in a helicopter. Guess why. People have said but you ride a Harley! Well, I’m not a fucking wimp. I didn’t say I avoid things that might HURT me. I just want a fighting chance if something goes wrong. If that parachute doesn’t open, well I’m fucked!

So, take that to the airport. If something goes REALLY wrong on a plane (knife wielding suicide bombers or concealed explosives) I’m likely dead. Am I going to feel at least a little trepidation if there are obvious Muslims boarding my flight? You bet your ass I am. In fact, I’m more wary of those that aren’t obvious. Anyone who appears to be of Middle Eastern descent is going to make me a little nervous. In my mind, someone who has a plastic shiv or some C-4 is not likely to prance aboard a 757 screaming “Look at me! I’m from Yemen!”

Now don’t get me wrong. Unless my “spider sense” is really tingling I’m going to board the flight. I have faith in a few things. First, security is far better than it’s ever been (despite all the negative press). Second, there is NO WAY passengers on a plane will ever again sit back and watch a terrorist fly into a building. Third, I’m going to be watchful and aware. But I guarantee thoughts will cross my mind that wouldn’t have on a plane with passengers exclusively from Nebraska.

So, what Juan Williams did was to voice what almost all Americans who travel have felt to some extent. Firing him for that is beyond ridiculous. What Rick Sanchez said was ignorant. What Juan Williams said was real. It’s an unfortunate fact in today’s world that we have become somewhat wary of Muslims. Not because they’re all bad. Not even because most of them are bad. I believe most of them are good. But most of the time that parachute will open and you’ll float safely back to Mother Earth. It’s when it doesn’t open that all hell breaks loose.

Common Sense