Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back at 2009


Barack Obama: On January 20th, our 44th and first African-American President was sworn in at the age of 47. So much hope, so much energy.  We'd never again have to hear nuclear pronounced nucular or wonder if our chi'dren was learnin'.  He started quickly out of the box, but got bogged down by the health care reform kerfuffle.  Then there were the unfortunate August town halls.  Like many observers have noted, no one has ever made a dime betting against this guy.  It's nice having a smart guy in the White House again.  Let's hope 2010 gives him the bounceback we'd all like to see...well, most of us. 

Rachel Maddow: She never shouts. She doesn't talk over guests or down to them. She doesn't ask questions to listen to herself talk. She examines, reports and exhibits a cool calmness while politely dissecting adversaries on both sides of the aisle, often to their faces...then thanks them for being on her show!  Her preparation is unmatched.  She covers stories no one else wants too. She goes out of her way to explain complex issues, often with humor so her viewers 'get it' without feeling inadequate. Her show has definitely found it's niche and hit it's stride.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN):  Franken’s very first piece of legislation was an amendment to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill, prohibiting defense contractors from restricting their employees’ abilities to take workplace discrimination, battery, and sexual assault cases to court.  30 male Republicans voted against it.  Then they were shocked by the blowback they received.  Apparently, they viewed Jamie Leigh Jones gang rape and the 24 hour lock up in a shipping container, which inspired this amendment as frivolous; "Just boys being boys."  Protecting Halliburton/KBR against lawsuits must come first in their neo-con world.  I honestly do not understand how any self-respecting woman can vote Republican.  This was just another example of their ongoing dismissal of women as equal parts of society.

Chesley Sullenberger: How could you not be impressed on January 15th when Captain Sully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River saving all 155 on board. The plane encountered a double bird strike which crippled both engines.  Further adding to his legend was that he walked the aisle of the jet twice looking for passengers before exiting the plane himself.  One part of his legend that was too much information was how it increased his "love" life.

Susan Boyle:  Who can forget her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" on Britain's Got Talent. The sneers, jeers, eye rolls and chuckles the portly, frumpy woman received prior to her song, and the immediate reactions upon launching into it was one of the greatest moments ever on live TV.  If ever anyone proved you can't judge a book by it's cover, she sure did.

Shaquille O'Neil:  In a nice gesture towards a poor family, NBA star Shaquille O'Neal paid for the funeral of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis whose body was found November 16 in North Carolina on the side of the road.  Her mother and another man were charged with multiple offenses. I'm not a basketball or O'Neil fan, but I'll give the guy credit for doing a very nice thing.


Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh: Conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory.  Lie after lie.  All nonsense, much of it dangerous. They give the teetering fringe the outlets they need to justify radical actions.  I'm all for freedom of speech, however when you are able to spread outright lies without consequence, we have a problem.

Dick Cheney: He does everything the above do, but he says it as an ex-VP. That may give him a bit more credibility with a few more people.  His constant attacks on Obama are meant to distract people of the true Bush-Cheney record.  The 20%ers honestly believe they kept us safe and think Clinton was at fault for 9/11. They think the economy was strong under Bush.  It does seem to have effectiveness with the same old segment. Of course Cheney won't appear anywhere but Fox Newz, the right wing propaganda channel.  This is another case of repeating the message incessantly until it becomes a perceived truth to as many as possible. 

Birthers: So is it that they don't realize Hawaii was a state in 1961?  Do they really believe Obama's grandparents posted birth announcements in the Honolulu Advertiser & Star Bulletin in August of 1961 because they knew he'd be president one day? Do they just not care that Kenya didn't become a republic until 1964? Or is it as simple as trying to delegitimize the "exotic" guy for some predisposed opinions?  Hmm...

Deathers: The same people as the birthers.  They couldn't make that argument stick so they moved on.  The new claim, kicked off by Sarah Palin was that Obama was going to have a panel of bureaucrats to decide who lives and who dies.  Apparently, in addition to the elderly and down's syndrome babies, there was even an amendment that conservatives get offed first!  You know, we could laugh about this, but there's a whole lot of people in this country that actually believe this crap.  You know who they are as well as I do.  They're the anti-education Christofascists.   No surprise that my top pick(s) gave both groups credibility for their message(s).

Sarah Palin: There's not much more that I can add to what I've already written about her.  I just find it terribly disturbing that 58,343,671 people willingly voted for a ticket that could've put this empty-headed nitwit one heartbeat from the presidency.  In 2009 she proved that she's a liar, she's deceptive, she's manipulative, she's an anti-intellect, she's an opportunist ... and she's becoming a multi-millionaire because she has a huge fan base who thinks she's attractive - and waves the bible.

Peyton Manning: Because it's my blog.  I can't stand this guy for a variety of reasons. It started while he was a college "star" and continued as his professional success grew.  Somewhat recently, Huffington Post had an article about his commercials that eventually led to a discussion comparing him and Tom Brady. A lot of responses were calling Manning the all-American boy and disparaging Brady because he had a child out of wedlock. Even the fact that it had been a long-term relationship was irrelevant to these flag-waving, bible-thumping clowns. Manning likes to use the God word.  Whenever I spoke of Manning's issue, I got scrubbed. Whenever I linked the article, I got scrubbed.  Read this linked article if you want to see where my feelings about him begin.  It's the story of a female trainer's treatment by not only him, but her employer because of him.  I will root against the Indianapolis Colts until he retires.  Brother Eli's stunt when the San Diego Chargers drafted him was just one more clue about how cocky these guys are, thanks to their father Archie who was a below average NFL quarterback in the 70's.  I'll keep Tom Brady, thank you very much. 

The WTF's

Joe Wilson (R-SC): He of the "You lie" fame. Can you imagine had a Democrat yelled "You lie" at Bush when he was making his WMD claims? He/she would've been censured, Republicans would've demanded an apology on the floor and the Republicans would've spent millions on a challenger. How did the Democrats handle it? As usual they did nothing. They once again let the R's have a "win". Is it an important win? Not by itself. Democrats still don't get that these little victories add up in the minds of our simple minded electorate. There's a group that thinks by not responding, it means any of their various nonsense is correct.  When will Dems learn?

Michele Bachmann: "I have experience that throughout my political career, being labeled a kook." - "Michael Steele, you be the man. You be the man." - “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing." Ok, I just used a few of my favorites although there are dozens more. Gee Michele, given the comment about slitting wrists over HCR, I have no idea why you would be labeled a kook!

Tiger Woods: There's really nothing I can add that you haven't heard or thought yourself.  I'm not sure if I've ever witnessed a faster fall from grace.  He'll return to golf and he'll win, but he'll never have the marketability that he had before Thanksgiving.  His brazenness probably even makes Bill Clinton jealous.

Balloon Boy: You now, the day I got home from work and saw this on tv, while we didn't know officially that it was a hoax, I knew that kid was going to be found hiding in the house.  Glad mom and dad are going to jail for a little while.  They should also be forced to pay the $42,000 bill they received to reimburse police, the National Guard, and the FAA who were all involved in the search.

Party Crashers: Michaele and Tareq Salahi, managed to slip into a state dinner at the White House even though they were not on the guest list.  Reportedly, the Secret Service is looking into its own security procedures.  Yeah, that makes sense, let them investigate themselves.  Am I the only one who thinks that's ridiculous?  Anyone?

Happy New Year!
Stay safe

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why Doesn't This Dick Just Go Away To An Undisclosed Location?

I just want to say that while I’m disgusted, I’m not surprised that Republicans are trying to use this terrorist bombing attempt for political gain. Good ol’ Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) has even used this event to try and raise money for his bid to become Michigan Governor. He Sent out an email to supporters Tuesday repeatedly asking for contributions. However, one man that totally makes my skin crawl is Dick Cheney. I loathe that man. He represents everything bad about politics and he’s got supporters. He was named “Conservative of the Year" at some right wing publication called Human Events. In his latest anti-Obama attack, he’s telling the Fox Newz loyalists that Obama “is trying to pretend we are not at war.” He’s upset at the administrations low-key approach, which I actually applauded recently. How smart is it to telegraph your response to the world? Does this fool not understand that it’s not only U.S. citizens who will be seeing it? Just because Obama’s not standing on an aircraft carrier beating his chest, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have counter-measures in action.  Oh, by the way, how did that work out?  What scares the hell out of me is I think this lunatic is actually running for President 2012 right now! Seriously. We didn’t see him for eight years, now you can’t turn on your tv without seeing that evil bastard. I’m worried that he’s getting traction. He went on to say that, “It doesn't fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency: social transformation, the restructuring of American society.” Really? What has changed? There's no evidence to support that claim.  However, repeat it enough and the sheep will follow. I'm not sure exactly why he felt the need to slip that in there, except...2012.

As for terror attempts, why the double standard? Bush was not subjected to criticisms from either Democrats or the media when he waited six days to respond to Richard Reid's attempted shoe-bombing of an airplane on December 22, 2001. Like Obama now, Bush was also on vacation when that botched terrorist attack occurred. Here’s my worry. While I applaud the Democrats for trying to take the high road, it always bites them in the ass in the end. The Republicans have no shame and will continuously drive their propaganda across no matter how ludicrous it is.  It has been a winning formula for them.  Democrats need to get tough with their political rivals.  Nobody’s talking about the fact that the Bush White House set the guys free who master-minded this attempt, because Dems aren’t pushing it. Also, very few news sources are reporting the similarities to the ‘Shoe Bomber’ and Bush's response – which was nearly identical to Obama's. Karl Rove also chimed in complaining that it took Obama 72 to address the public, yet never mentioned it took Bush twice as long. By the way, did you hear Mr. Sanctity of Marriage is getting divorced for the second time. Another hypocritical piece of trash.

For all the hopes and dreams of Republicans who think this is going to destroy Obama, I think they’re underestimating him. For some reason, something within me is telling me that Obama has a plan. He has proven that he thinks things out. Conservatives are still of the "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality.  If Obama finds “it”, and "it's" successful, the Republicans will be done for a long time since the only thing they've got left to run on is the notion they're tougher on national security.  He knows that.  I hope he successfully takes that silly notion away as well.  Many of us like low-key.  Give ‘em hell, Prez!

Update: I just want to add this clip from tonight's MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews that I just viewed.  On a quick glance, I noticed that's Joan Walsh was on so I stopped to watch.  I always appreciate her take on things.  Tonight, I especially enjoyed the part where she blasts former Cheney aide Ron Christie for continuous Republican attempts to delegitimize this President at every opportunity.  I even thought Matthews was correct! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wheel of Fortune - GOP Spin In Action

You've got to give credit where credit is due.  Ever since the Christmas day attempt to bomb Detroit bound Northwest Flight 253, the GOP has been relentless on it's attacks of the Obama Administration for not taking terrorism seriously.  The daily grandstanding of how the system didn't work has been deafening.  Apparently they think that everyone get's their news from Fox so no one would ever find out that the reason there's no TSA chief is because Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has been holding up Erroll Southers nomination.  DeMint's afraid Southers would allow TSA workers to join a labor union!  DeMint has said the Christmas day attempt was a "perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA." Really?  That's a perfect example?  I'd love to hear him explain why.  My experience has always been that well paid employees with job security will be more vigilant in their jobs.  Southers has passed through two Senate committees, but the hold prevents his nomination from being subjected to a full Senate vote. DeMint's demands for testimony about unionization would mean at least three days of debate and test votes. Typical GOP, complain that the house is on fire, but make sure the water's turned off.

I thought this also might be of interest.  ABC News reports that two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up the jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.  American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula called the would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a "hero" and a "martyr" and lauded him for beating U.S. intelligence. Riiight, he beat U.S. intelligence, but got his ass whooped by a flight crew and some pissed off passengers.  Definitely not a hero.  Considering he started his underwear on fire, those promised virgins for martyrhood probably aren't going to be much good to him!  One more thing:  With all the fanfare and hand-wringing Republicans (and some conservative Democrats) have done about Obama allowing terror suspects to be tried in NYC, someone remind me; who was President in November 2007 when these guys were released?  How are Dick and Liz Cheney going to spin this one?  I'm sure they'll be making the Fox rounds all week!

Update: President Obama just spoke moments ago so I'll post a few key points he made:  "It's essential that we diagnose the problems quickly."  He noted that information about the Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a plane on Christmas was available in some databases, but was not shared properly across agencies. "Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled," and a fuller "picture of the subject would’ve emerged," "When our government has information on a known extremist, and that information is not acted on and shared, as it should have been … a systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable."
I just want to say wow.  While I still do not view this bombing attempt as a failure on the part of the Obama Administration since the system and its flaws were in place before his presidency, it's clear that he is in front of the situation and will not allow the status quo to be acceptable.  Could his team have looked into this and improved it?  Yes, hindsight is always 20/20.  I was impressed with his no nonsense approach of accepting responsibility for errors while not inciting fear.  Can you imagine Bush ever admitting mistakes on his watch or missing an opportunity to scare people about terrorists?  I'm very happy Obama didn't do any chest thumping or flag waving to make his points.  While I don't agree with some of the rumored remedies (full body scans), I've got to give him credit for being tough enough to admit there were oversights and they will be addressed immediately.  A cool head and calmness will prevail for this guy.  It's a nice change having a cerebral leader instead of a reactionary fanatic.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Surprise! Right Wingers Claiming Bombing Attempt on NWA Flight 253 Was Obama's Fault

Surprise!  The right wing is trying to blame President Obama for the attempted terror attack on Christmas day of US bound Northwest Airlines flight 253. Do they have no shame? Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) said today that it is fair to blame the Obama administration for the attempted bombing.  He insists that that the Obama administration is trying to "downplay" threats.  Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), a frequent critic Obama, called the unionization of airport security workers the "the top priority now of the administration" and said that closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will not "appease" extremist groups. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) also said that "This is a jolt for us. This is a wake up call."  In other words, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.  Let's show them that their tactics are working, we're scared!  Ever since Obama's been in office, Republicans have been looking for ways to pin his name into a terror attack dialog.  First it was the Fort Hood shootings and now this. No matter how hard they try, they will never be able erase the fact that Republican George W. Bush was at the helm when the worst terror attack ever on U.S. soil occured. I honestly think they want something to happen to use as a step towards getting back into power because they view themselves as the "national security experts."  They really seem to think people only remember there were no large scale attacks for the last 7 years, 3 months on U.S. soil during the Cheney/Bush years. It's no wonder that Dana Perino thinks it's ok to make outrageous claims on Hannity's show. They choose to forget the most critical part and assume everyone else does too!  I’m sure the right wing talking heads will go nuts over this failed attempt tomorrow. The right wingers all over the internet are ablaze in excitement comparing this to 9/11. That alone is disgusting considering what actually happened that day.  This is more along the lines of the 'Shoe Bomber' in 2002.  President Obama is in Hawaii on vacation, so that’ll be a big target for the righty talkers and their simple-minded listeners. They’ll be bitching that he was playing golf or was at the beach. They won’t have any answers about what difference it would have made where he was, but they’ll focus in on his vacation.     Mark my words.

The fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed in his attempt and was overtaken by passengers and crew will go largely unreported or used merely as a side note. The Wingnuts will exclaim what could have happened, making their minions feel that it did happen. They are going to focus on how to tie an Obama failure to this. Could it have been a disaster? Of course it could’ve been. Fortunately it wasn’t and reviews and changes to U.S. bound planes are already underway. It’s not like Obama changed any airline safety rules that Bush had in place that could’ve increased the likelihood of this attempt. Yes, things were missed; generally suspicion occurs when someone pays cash for a ticket and boards without luggage. The fact that the would-be bomber's father, a Nigerian banker had written to the US embassy to tell them his son had become radicalized should’ve immediately led Abdulmutallab to the no fly list. However, it must be noted that this plane did not originate on U.S. soil.  It originated in Nigeria with a stop in Amsterdam and on to Detroit.  Blaming Obama or any other U.S. official is nonsense.

The political grandstanding of Republicans knows no boundaries. Hoekstra is also ranting how “This administration has totally clamped down on information-sharing with Congress”. He’s upset and is claiming congress isn’t being kept abreast of potential threats. This coming from the guy known for leaking classified information! He recently tipped off a radical cleric that he was under surveillance after the Fort Hood shootings. His showboating noted that the man’s email was being read by U.S. intelligence agencies. The CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the White House — nobody else had reported this cleric was e-mailing Major Malik Nadal Hasan. Good ol’ Pete let him know though. Idiot, and he’s the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  Hey Pete, if they're really not sharing, it's probably because of you!

This morning Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), got into a disagreement on CBS' "Face The Nation."  King wants Obama out there telling people to be scared and feel threatened. He wants our President reminding people how deadly this enemy is. Clyburn, who I agree with on this subject countered with:
"I think that the president, in his response, is doing exactly as he should do, I think that in so many instances these terrorists get more benefit from the reaction they cause than from the action they take. And so I believe that for the president to be very measured in reactions -- in his reactions, not elevating this thing to the point that it would be satisfactory to terrorists, is exactly the way to do it."
Right on Mr. Clyburn!

The real irony for me is changing our way of life by living in fear is exactly what the terrorists want, and it’s what conservatives are gift-wrapping for them! It cracks me up that the conservatives who act like the tough guys are actually the scaredy cats! The supposedly wimpy liberals in NY, D.C., Boston, Chicago, LA - the places most likely to be targeted because of their financial, political and cultural importance, are generally the most rational and calm. Thumbing your nose at radicals by acting in a 'business as usual' state instead of succumbing to threats and cowering in fear will dampen their goals. I’m dumbfounded as to why someone in Alabama or South Carolina or any other Hee Haw state who's scared of terrorists should be. The blue states with the most to lose have people willing to stand up to these criminals. Who really has the backbone? I've been critical and disappointed with some of Obama's other decisions thus far, but at this critical time I'm thankful for a calm leader.  I'm grateful McPalin are not in charge.  This is time for cool reflection, not immediate reaction.   Thank you President Obama.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Decade In Sports - Remembering Dale Earnhardt

Back in the early 90's when MLB once again had a players strike, I had enough. The pampered millionaires had sold the fans out and assumed we’d stand along side them. I was one of those fans that left baseball behind. But as a sports fan, I needed something to fill that void.  The only thing going on those summer months was Nascar. As I would tune in, only knowing that whoever I was rooting for would have to be sporting the Chevy Bowtie, something happened within my subconscious. Every week, a sinister looking black and silver race car with a bold forward italicized white number 3 would qualify in the back of the pack and within the first several laps would be fighting for the lead. I liked that guy, he was a racer and I had no idea who he was.  Turns out, at that time he was a five time champion. As time moved forward I became a big Nascar fan, not following baseball at all except to see a score here and there. I had the #3 die-cast cars, some shirts, posters and was enjoying a fun sports ride until February 18, 2001. In the last turn of the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, a tap from Sterling Marlin's Silver Bullet Dodge and an ensuing crash involving 3rd place running Dale Earnhardt had occurred. Everything changed in seconds.  I had seen many crashes that looked far worse, yet immediately something within made me feel this was different. Perhaps it was Ken Schrader’s reaction upon looking into the crippled #3 laying in the grass, maybe it was former driver, turned commentator Darrell Waltrip's nervous reaction and concern. DW's brother Michael had taken the checkered flag for his first Nascar win with Dale Jr. right behind him, both in Dale Earnhardt owned Chevrolets, not realizing immediately what had happened in their review mirrors. Moments later, we watched Junior jump out of his car leaving it stranded all alone on pit road as he sprinted towards the accident.  Maybe it was my own intuition. I just knew something wasn’t right. I saw the writing on the wall in my mind in a very literal sense.  A couple hours after the race, it was official. Nascar President Mike Helton announced that we had lost Dale Earnhardt. I was one of thousands (maybe millions) who mourned the passing of Dale Earnhardt. Yes, I cried.

As a fan who rooted for “The Intimidator”, remembering the triumphs and tragedies is still heartwrenching, because we know how it ended.  We watched a lot of success at Daytona except the elusive Daytona 500 which was finally captured in 1998.  Before that day, we watched the greatest driver of all time (in my opinion) find bad/strange luck in the biggest February race every single year.  We also watched him flip over multiple times at the 1996 July Talladega race, getting burned when flames from Bill Elliott’s car entered his cockpit. We remember Dale crying when he had to climb out of the car (with Mike Skinner climbing in) the following week after about 15 laps at the Brickyard 400 do to the injuries. We remember the 1997 Daytona 500, after being nudged by Jeff Gordon and flipping across the backstretch over and over and over, yet land right side up and finish the race once realizing the car would still start (Chevy tough). Then the crowning jewel, even though he never got that 8th Championship, he went on to win the cherished Daytona 500 on his 20th try on February 15, 1998.  After the race, something unprecedented happened; every crew member of every team lined up to greet the 7 time Champion at his proudest moment while he drove towards Victory Circle.  Dale Earnhardt wasn't pretty like Jeff Gordon and he wasn't a smooth talker like Richard Petty.  Dale Earnhardt was Superman, and we never could have imagined that Superman's kryptonite would be the concrete at Daytona. For me, it will probably remain the greatest sports story/tragedy of my lifetime.

I’m posting the closing laps of Dale’s last win at Talladega on October 15, 2000 when he went from 17th to 1st in just 6 laps. This why Dale was known as “The Intimidator” or "The Man In Black". This is why he had so many fans.  This guy was a racer.  Four months later, he was gone.

After that morbid day in February of 2001, I did start watching baseball again because watching Nascar without the black #3 was too painful. Heartbroken owner and Dale's closest friend Richard Childress retired the #3 in favor of #29 which was painted white for the rest of 2001. A brash young driver from the Busch Series that Childress had been grooming to be Earnhardt's eventual teammate in 'The Cup Series' was chosen to fill the seat of the famous Chevy.  In just his third race in the white #29 Goodwrench Chevy, Kevin Harvick nosed out Gordon by inches to win in Atlanta.  It was truly the moment the healing began.  While GM Goodwrench remained as primary sponsor for several years after Dale's death, the car is now sponsored by Shell/Pennzoil. However, a small #3 remains decaled just below the B-Pillar as a reminder of what that car represents.  Harvick has done an admirable job considering the pressure and focus thrust upon him, including winning the 2007 Daytona 500 in what is considered the greatest finish ever to that particular race.  Later, in the summer of 2001 when Nascar returned to Daytona on July 7, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at the track that 5 months earlier had turned his world upside down.  It really felt at the time that Nascar would have the ability to move forward since two of Dale's most important legacies, his racing son and his car were winners.  What greater tribute could he have asked?

I don’t watch Nascar as I used to -- it will never be the same. I root for Dale Jr. when I do watch, but he’s not in the same league as his dad. It's starting to feel like potential missed. Another thing different about Dale Jr. that was never a concern for his father, he cares about what everyone thinks of him on and off the track. It makes him a super nice guy, but an average race car driver.  He seems to lack the 'killer instinct' so important in competition. I wish he could once again find the skills and temperment that he exhibited while running the Busch Series where he was a two-time Champion. Early in his 'Cup' career he also showed flashes of promise by dominating the Superspeedways for several seasons even after his dad's death.  Of course he had his own serious fiery crash driving an American Lemans Series Corvette in 2004 at Infineon in California. Watch video at 1:14 mark. Not surprisingly, he hasn't been the same since.

I guess if you're going to look at a silver lining, after Dale's death Nascar immediately put safety at the top of their priorities.  In 2000, Nascar lost 19 year old Busch Series driver Adam Petty (in May), a fourth generation racing Petty, at New Hampshire International Speedway.  He was killed instantly when his car struck the wall head on during practice.  Then in July at the very same track where Petty died, 30 year old Winston Cup driver Kenny Irwin was also killed during practice.  He too, struck the wall head on, flipping the car on it's side and eventually it's roof. Irwin likely died instantly of a basilar skull fracture.  However, it took losing the sport's biggest star to make them take action.  As someone who has seen pictures of Earnhardt's blood soaked cockpit, it was clear something had to be done.  Earnhardt was famous for wearing an open-faced helmet because he felt the full-faced helmet was heavier and could lead to severe neck injuries.  He also thought it blocked too much of his peripheral vision.  He also preferred to sit very low in the car for presumed safety reasons.  Sadly, the investigation showed that he was killed because the 5 point seat harness had failed, resulting in a broken neck when his face slammed into the steering wheel, hitting with such force, it was bent.  The autopsy also revealed a broken ankle from still having his foot jammed on the brakes upon impact.  Ken Schrader has never spoken publicly about what he saw as first man on the scene that day, but one can only imagine.  The following week, Dale Jr. switched to a full-faced helmet and in the ensuing weeks Nascar ruled that all drivers must wear a HANS (Head And Neck Support) device which attaches to the top of the seat keeping their heads pretty immobile.  Some of the drivers complained that it impeded on their movement, but Nascar smartly didn't budge, telling them to install more mirrors and rely on their spotters. 

The sport has changed a lot since that February day.  Perceivably good looking drivers with marginal skills get top rides so they can push sponsor products; the season points system has regressed into "The Chase" where you can shoot for 12th place through 26 races and try to turn it up for the last 10 to become Champion (note: Jimmie Johnson would be a 4 time Champ under the old rules too); the Car of Tomorrow was developed as a safer race car, yet destroyed the competition by not allowing manufacturers to be creative with design.  I think Nascar could have laid down basic ground rules that the car makers would've had to incorporate while still allowing for seperate identities.  The COT (as it's known) are all identical bodies for the four manufacturers.  The only thing differentiating a Chevy from a Ford from a Dodge from a Toyota are the decals and the engines.  Everything else is mandated by Nascar, making the racing uninspiring.  Yes, the sport has changed for the worse, but I was happy to have enjoyed it during the best of times.

Dale Earnhardt celebrates winning the 1998 Daytona 500.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays To All!

I really like this musical holiday light show, but it is no longer available for embed so I've linked it. Enjoy!
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Wizards In Winter (video)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! - Captain

Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow
(via Twitter)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Matthews Creating His Own Sideshow

In keeping with the cantankerous mood I find myself in these days, let’s discuss Chris Matthews. About a month ago Matthews dissed his colleagues at MSNBC by saying that he was the only one on the network inviting opposing opinion. In the case of Keith Olbermann, that may be true. However in Keith’s defense, his show has always been about skewering untruths generally from the other side. Yes, Fox and Limbaugh are often targeted, but it doesn’t mean what he says is less factual. His show is not about debate, it's more about setting the record straight.  Rachel Maddow asks conservatives on daily and is often refused because they know their factless rhetoric will not go unchallenged.  David Frum, Nancy Pfotenhauer, Tim Phillips and recently Richard Cohen were verbally eviserated trying to use that technique. Granted, it gives other conservatives pause appear, but her aim is true and it’s why she has a growing fan base. That said, former Bush speech writer Mark McKinnon is a frequent guest and I’m confident Colin Powell is among those who would appear again if asked.  The lesson is to be honest and not falsify objectives so the debate can continue.  Now there’s Ed Schultz who has really seemed to take personal offense to some of Matthews recent comments. He really seems to be a guy 'mad as hell who isn't going to take it anymore' - from anyone!  His show is formatted in a very similar way to Chris’, yet once the battle has begun and no one can hear a thing, he shuts them down and redirects as needed. Having opposing opinions all screaming at the same time doesn’t do the viewers a bit of good, but that's what Matthews show promotes.  Schultz has just as many "righties" on as Chris. I guess the difference is, that Chris recycles BFF's like Tom DeLay who should be in jail and Nazi Pat Buchanan. It just strikes me a bit odd that Matthews has decided to make a right hand turn and trash his colleagues just as it became evident that the Comcast deal was “on”.

When the Stupak Amendment (yes, that again) passed the House HCR bill in early November, Matthews hosted Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) of co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. She had circulated a letter which had about 40 signatures of House Democrats who say they will oppose the health care bill if it's used to restrict abortion rights. He badgered, interrupted and was downright rude to her for the entire interview. She had appeared on Rachel’s show the night before so I knew what her goal was, but anyone watching Matthews wouldn’t have heard a thing. Matthews’ conservative Catholic upbringing was on display for all to see. In his world, women do not have the right to decide what happens within their own bodies. He kept talking over her about how taxpayers don’t want their money to go towards abortions. I emailed his show and told him I didn’t want mine going to unjust wars either.  Like I always say, “You can’t be pro-life and pro-war”. I find it odd how many people can’t see that.

Last week, this is what Matthews said about the far left as he calls us. You know, those who had the biggest impact on Obama’s election. "I don't consider them Democrats, I consider them Netroots. And if I see they vote in every election, or most elections, then I'll be worried. But I'm not sure they're regular, grown-up Democrats. I think a lot of these people are troublemakers who love to sit in the back seat and complain. They're not interested in governing this country. They never ran for office, they're not interested in working for someone in public office. They get their giggles out of sitting in the back seat and bitching." Daily KOS founder Markos Moulitsas fired back, "In 2003, when Bush landed his plane in the aircraft carrier, and spoke in front of the banner that said, 'Mission Accomplished,' Chris Matthews had an entire show based on that event, and he said everybody knows that we won the war, except a few critics. Well, I was one of those few critics. People like me in the Netroots were some of those critics. And it turns out that we were right and the Beltway conventional wisdom was wrong. And once again, we're in a situation where people like Chris Matthews don't learn from these mistakes. They're trapped in this bubble and they think that they know better. If Chris Matthews is worried about us working, and if he thinks that we're not Democrats, then he really should be worried, because he's got a thing coming."
Markos Moulitsas Slams Chris Matthews on "The Ed Show."

I've never heard him insult or dismiss Dick Armey's Teabaggers.  I guess the lack of diversity in those crowds has gone unnoticed by him.  To give that group of bigots more credibility than activist organizations like, Democracy Now or even Daily Kos is a tell tale sign of where Matthews true allegiances lie.  He didn't mention how Armey's D.C. luncheon was cancelled last week because no one signed up to attend.  You can bet had it been a cancelled lucheon for someone on the left, it would've been included in "Sideshow".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stripping Womens Rights: I Don't Want To Believe What I'm Watching

I really want a rational thinking person to explain to me how three Senators representing three small states with respective populations of 1,783,432 in Nelson’s Nebraska, 3,501,252 in Lieberman’s Connecticut and 1,316,456 in Snowe’s Maine were allowed to turn health care reform into this travesty of a bill for 305,529,237 Americans! I really hope Democrats aren’t expecting donations from the left wing of their party moving forward. To get Ben Nelson’s vote, Harry Reid has written this little dandy into the Senate bill: states could choose to prohibit abortion coverage in the insurance markets, or exchanges, where most health plans would be sold. But if a health plan did cover the procedure, subscribers would have to make two separate monthly premium payments: one for all insurance coverage except abortion and one for abortion coverage.  I am furious about this amendment.  Now women of child bearing age will have to pay more for insurance than men if they want a legal medical procedure covered!  Also added was stronger conscience protections for medical institutions and health workers opposed to abortion. That’s just great. So if a woman shows up at the pharmacy for her birth control pills and some religious wingnut happens to be behind the counter, they can legally refuse to fill the prescription. If you're a pharmacist and have moral issues with distributing birth control pills, I would suggest that you are in the wrong line of work.  Women are more than one half of the population yet instead of moving forward with women’s rights, we are going backwards. I am totally sick of this trend and pissed off!  To top it off, I haven’t seen any exceptions for rape and incest anywhere in this piece of turd legislation either. Nelson is all smiles though because insurance will still cover prescriptions for him to get a hard-on. Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood correctly stated that “it’s a sad day when women's health is traded away for one vote."  Furthermore, where are the pro-choice senators, especially the women?  I'm disheartened that I haven't heard a word from any of them either.  Reid further bent over for Nelson by agreeing to provide extra Medicaid money to Nebraska, long-term-care insurance to people with severe disabilities, new services for pregnant teenagers and financial breaks to nonprofit insurance companies.

Also in this bill, Americans would be required to have insurance. The penalty for violating this requirement could be as high as 2 percent of a taxpayer’s household income.  There's no cap on the amount an insurance company can charge someone with a pre-existing condition, but there's a cap on benefits!  This is total rubbish.  I can’t wait to see how Pelosi and Reid blend their insurance company giveaways.  You can bet that the public option in the House bill will be the first casualty since President Lieberman, VP Snowe and SoS Nelson don't want it in there. 

I have no confidence in any leader of any party to do what’s right for the people. This has become all about who they get their donations from, with Joe Aetna and Mutual of Omaha Nelson leading the charge. It’s disgusting.  At this point President Obama would sign a copy of Sarah Palin’s book if it said Health Care Reform on the cover.  Over $635 million was spent ensuring the health insurance industry got exactly what they wanted.  I’m very disenchanted watching this administration go right and further right.  He is going to sign a piece of garbage just so he can say he got "health care reform" in his first year.  This will not be tweaked after it passes.  Most clear headed politicians have said that is why we have one shot to get it right. We are watching a Clinton Redux. Don’t forget who was President when DADT and DOMA were enacted. The Democrats have actually done more harm to civil rights than Republicans have; this time it’s women’s rights. If this bill passes in its current form, it is a direct slap in the face to those of us who donated to Obama and really expected him to be different. To say I’m furious right now is an understatement. If court appointees weren’t on the line, I would be staying home next time. However, I will not donate a dime to this phony change candidate again.

One last thing, I want to offer a big “eff you” to Rahm Emanual who essentially told the left of the party to put up and shut up.  We are the main reason Obama was elected whether he wants to accept that or not.  Taking for granted that we won't vote Republican is one thing.  Expecting us to donate and knock on doors again is arrogant.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Has Obama Become "Compromised" Trying to "Compromise" With His Opponents?

Wednesday night, Keith Olbermann kind of stole my thunder with his Special Comment on the latest version of HR-3590, the Senate Health Care Reform bill.  It was essentially a big “eff you” to Obama.  He was correct on every point.  Obama has continuously thumbed his nose at those of us who supported him, preferring to woo the right and conservative Democrats.  Everytime the left rises in any kind of opposition to any proposed bill, he sends attack dog Rahm Emanual to tell the "liberals" to shut up.  In my opinion he thinks we’ll support him in the end anyways, so he doesn’t care about how we’re feeling about one disappointment after another. This so called “health care reform” has magnified what a weak leader our President is turning out to be.  I guess it was kind of silly of me last November 4, 2008 thinking I was voting for Obama/Biden.  It turns out I was actually voting for Lieberman/Snowe.  It's become painfully obvious over the past several months who holds the real power.  It has actually been sickening to watch the alternating coddling the two of them have received from Democrats.  I believe this administration is underestimating the degree that we're paying attention.  They seem genuinely surprised that we actually expected them to be different.  They better start realizing the damage they're doing or they're heading for one and done.

What we are currently looking at is a bill with no cost control. The insurance companies can’t deny you coverage for a pre-existing conditions, but they can charge you what they want.  Isn't that great?  There's no cap on premiums, but there's a cap on benefits!  To top it off, you have to have insurance bought from the "insurance cartel!"  So this has turned into a big gift to private insurers by handing them at least 30 million new customers. Way to go Obama, that’s not exactly the “change” we were looking for.  The current position is something Obama actually chastised Hillary Clinton for during their respective campaign's.  In 2012, I will vote for Obama again if he’s still the Democratic nominee, but only because we can’t leave the chance that Republicans will fill any more Supreme Court vacancies as they become open.  It won’t be with excitement next time, unless he works very hard to right the ship.  So far, he's been disappointing.  Please take time to watch Keith’s outstanding spot on Special Comment:

After all this, we still have to wait for House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to meld the two bills together.  The bill in the House at least has a Public Option to compete with private insurance, but it also has the Stupak Amendment, further restricting/obstructing a woman’s right to chose a safe and legal medical procedure.  But don’t worry guys, you can still get ED supplements in both bills.  The good ol' boys in Washington need be able to perform at a moments’ notice.  I can't tell you how angry I am that these guys don’t feel a woman has the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy (it's not accomplished without help), but we better damn well not infringe their rights to have a "drug induced" erection…so when she's ready, you're ready...lasting as long as four hours...if loss of hearing or vision occurs, call a doctor.  I do have to ask; Is it really that important guys?  The Senate version doesn’t contain anti-abortion language as I write this, but Nebraska Conservadem Ben Nelson is working on it.  He claims he won't vote for a bill without it.  I'm going to have to put some trust in Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on this one.  She has been adament and consistent with her position that this is supposed to be about affordable health care, not circumventing a woman's right to choose.  This should be simple, if you don’t believe in abortion don’t get one.  However, making it virtually impossible to obtain a legal procedure because you personally have a problem with it is crossing the lines to women's rights.  This country is letting religious beliefs dictate everything we do and I’m sick of it.  The Catholic Church meddled in on this debate as well by having secret meetings with members of congress.  The Hyde amendment from 1976 already disallows public funding for the procedure, but nooo that wasn’t enough – they added Stupak. What these guys are aiming for, is any insurance company who gets any federal money (which is almost all of them) will not be allowed to offer that service, even if a woman has her own insurance that she paid for.  Somewhere along the way, this country began regressing on basic rights and I’m really afraid of where we’re going with the zealots getting louder and wielding more power.  Let's start getting seperation of church and state in order.  The next time the Catholics or the Mormons get involved in policy, strip them of their tax exempt status, until they see the errors of their ways.  Then make them re-apply for it with a very long drawn out process.  Let them see what it's like to have something taken away from them.  I know -- it's a pipe dream of mine that will never happen.

Quick Thoughts: Thumbs up to MSNBC...mostly.  Outstanding coverage from Olbermann and Ed Schultz for attempting to hold Obama accountable to campaign promises on health care. Ed's radio and tv shows have both covered the debate extensively and he's become a strong voice for a strong public option.  Schultz was appearing on Morning Joe Thursday morning when he heard both Mika Brezinski's and Joe Scarborough's Blackberry's start ringing.  Apparently they were getting complaints from the White House due to Schultz and fellow guest Arianna Huffington's blistering commentary and wanted the hosts to tone it down.  I guess this White House expected MSNBC to behave as Fox did through the Bush years, as lapdogs.  Also, great news for The Rachel Maddow Show whose overall ratings for the year were up 15% over 2008.  While Rachel uses a gentler approach than the guys, she has been hammering the administration on numerous campaign promises since April.  Even though the three aforementioned like Obama, they're doing their jobs in a non-partisan way.  Chris Matthews continues to be the weak link in the evening line-up.  Ever since his "thrill down my leg" comment, he's gone way to the right and insults liberals on a nightly basis.  I guess he feels that's the way to redeem himself.  I was never a fan, but now he's completely unwatchable.... 
I'm liking Al Franken (D-Minn.), more and more.  When Lieberman's 10 minutes of yammering were up Thursday, this is what happened next;  "I'm sorry. The senator has spoken for ten minutes," Franken the chamber's presiding officer, told Lieberman.  "I wonder if I could ask unanimous consent for just an additional moment," Lieberman said.  "In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," said Franken.  Good for Al.  I've heard enough from Benedict Arnold for a lifetime.  To actually state that he didn't want the Medicare buy-in for people 55-64 because "liberals like it too much" said all you needed to know about this prick....
As Sarah's World Turns: The Toronto Sun Reports that Sarah Palin has been booted from Canadian Hospital fundraiser.  Apparently the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation received many angry calls and emails from people saying they wouldn't donate to any event in which she has a role.  She will come to town raise money for a local children’s charity instead.  See what having educated citizens does!...A Salt Lake City Costco where Palin was to attend a book signing removed all tomatos from the shelves to lessen the chance of a copycat tomato throwing incident as happened a couple weeks ago in Minnesota.  That was brilliant, really.  I wonder if it occured to them to remove the eggs too... While in Salt Lake, the diva's legend grew.  Palin's entourage requested local hairdresser Rhonda Halliday do an emergency hair session.  Halliday arrived at the hotel and had her car valet parked.  After being ushered to a room and given some instructions (don't talk to Palin unless she talks first) she did Palin's hair while the Wasilla quitter chatted with her family.  Then, the Queen's party left to get to the book signing at Costco on time.  Halliday was the last one out of the room because she had to put her equipment away, then watched as they all drove off without anyone mentioning payment or a tip.  When the valet attendant got her car, he said that would be $10.  She said she was with the Palin party and assumed they would take care of parking. That was news to him, so she had to fork over the $10.  I guess she should've just been honored to be in her majestry's presence, that was payment enough... Palin also annoyed leaders of the Utah Republican Party when she didn't have time for them during her stop in Salt Lake City.  I'm sure if they offered her a few bucks, she would've gladly found the time.  She sure knows how to win friends and influence people.  Yup, she's going to make a fine Presidential hopeful!

Keep the pressure on!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hypocrite for Cash!

As much as I dislike this Sarah Palin, she doesn't go away, but makes writing fun and easy!  I will give her one thing; while she's an intellectual idiot, she has some street smarts that I'm now seeing more and more of and it's starting to scare me that she can fool a lot of people with a virtual shell game.  The quitter first agreed to debate Al Gore on Climate Change, but had second thoughts.  Her excuses became; he wouldn't want to debate someone with a reasonable voice or facts.  He wouldn't lower himself  "to debate little old Sarah Palin from Wasilla."  Then adding that if it was a conventional debate she'd get clobbered.  Do you see what she did here?  She managed to lower expectations for herself.  She managed to convince her fans that she's the reasonable voice (just like them) while painting him as an arrogant elitist.  Frankly, she possesses brilliant street smarts abounding with deception.  I am honestly trying to figure out her appeal to people as she has no depth of character and says nothing of substance.  This woman could shoot Bambi and manage to convince her fans that he had chronic wasting disease anyways so she did what Jesus would've wanted and reunited him with his mom.  She won't tell them the part about his head being mounted above her fireplace and the rest of him is actually in her freezer. 

I love this too.  She has agreed to appear at a Canadian Hospital Fundraiser.  I'm not sure what kind of math they used or how they're going to make money because she will be paid $200,000 for one half hour.  Organizers hope to sell 1,000 tickets at $200 a plate which is a break even point, but raise more via photos with Palin.  Her fans are praising the hospital for seeing her talent, knowledge and perception.  Clearly none of them watched Canadian comedian Mary Walsh make a mockery out of her last month when Palin said "Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit."  Just the fact that she's charging a rate like that for a fund raiser should set off some sort of red flag, but not with Paliniacs!  It would be nice to see her have the good sense to donate her fee, but I can't imagine she has enough class for that.  Something else I would like to mention, St. Peter's Hospital is public, performs abortions, and offers end-of-life decision support.  Socialist, pro-choice and death panels!!!  Hypocrite for cash!  As far as I can see, she has a talent for easily misleading people with a wink and a smile.  Rumor has it she was quite a fancy pageant walker and good high school basketball player back in the day.  Her knowledge is somewhat limited to hoodwinking her fans out of their hard earned cash with catchy phrases.  I'll give her credit, that ability is making her a very wealthy woman.  Being the skilled prevaricator without conscience that she is, she doesn't lose any sleep over it.  I literally laughed when I saw them citing her perception in a positive manner.  The woman didn't know her teenage daughter and her live-in teenage boyfriend were screwing under her own roof!  How is that for perception? 

Maddow's Uganda Update:  As promised, for anyone who care's to know the latest on this story.  The people Rachel named throughout her coverage of this story are not too pleased to have been publicized, but she forced public statements from, Pastor Rick Warren who seemed to take particular aim at being exposed prompting an invite from Rachel to her show.  Senator Chuck Grassley also made a statement essentially saying that his beliefs haven't changed, but a death sentence is too severe.  Rachel pointed out that their statements were not relayed directly to Ugandan authorities, like Senator Feingold's were.  She said "Don't tell me, tell someone who can actually do something about it."  Still, her coverage has brought a lot of attention to this criminal legislation.  Hopefully clear thinking individuals such as Feinstein will be able guide them to see the errors and inhumanity of this legislation.  This is how to use a bully pulpit for good not evil, Mr. Beck and Mr. Limbaugh.

Warren finally speaks out against legislation he influenced: 
Uganda Be Killing Me - 12/10/2009
American anti-gay activists telling Uganda to create anti-homosexuality laws while disavowing the legislation to Americans audiences: 
Uganda Be Killing Me - 12/09/2009
Harper Magazine Editor Jeff Sharlet, author of "The Family" joins Rachel to discuss how The Family influenced Uganda in drafting the anti-homosexual legislation: 
Uganda Be Kidding Me II - 12/09/2009

How to condemn a bill a mean it.  Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) forcefully condemns the proposed Ugandan legislation and reminded them who gives them lots of cash. 

Quick Thought:  With the Tiger Woods saga in it's 17th day, I wanted to make a couple points.  I'm not going to defend Woods for his actions, he clearly has some serious issues he should address and deserves to be taken to the cleaners by his wife.  His wreckless actions put her health in danger as well as his own.  I understand the pre-nup is being re-written for her benefit.  Then again, Elin Woods seems to have some issues of her own in dealing with anger.  I understand how hurt and upset she had to have been after allegedly receiving a call from one mistress that he has recently broken up with.  Still, reports are that she broke four of his teeth with a cell phone, did $10,000 damage to the inside of the house with a golf club and chased him down the driveway in a golf cart wielding a club smashing at least one window in an $85,000 Cadillac Escalade as he drove it into a fire hydrant and then a tree.  To me, here's the really crazy part.  After the first woman came forward, a second one who thought she was the only "other" woman got pissed and came forward, as did the next and the next, etc...  Ok, so all these women were angry enough to take him down because they weren't the only "other" woman.  Where did he find these idiots?  Do any of them know how ridiculous they look?  Every single one of them knew he was married with kids.  How stupid do you have to be to be having an affair with a married person and think they're not also cheating on you or at least have those tendancies?  What a world we live in.
Have a great week!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tea Bags, Candy Canes and Hypocrisy

     I get so sick of the religious zealots in this country forcing their beliefs down everyone’s throats that I’m going to devote some time to it today. I’m going to begin with the smaller story of the two I read about this week. This year in Bill O’Reilly’s annual "War on Christmas" rhetoric, he sent one of his goons, Jesse Watters to harass the superintendent of an elementary school in Chelsford, Massachusetts because they do not have Christmas decorations set up! The best part is, the school had asked for volunteers to plan the party, but the same people who always do it were the only respondents. The committee decided to continue with how the event has been run for the past 19 years. After all the work had been done, flyers sent and crafts made, the families who strongly opposed the secular party came forward demanding they change the event.  Don’t you just love the people who don’t want to lift a finger to help, but have no problem bitching about how it’s done.  I’m posting a link to an article the school felt it had to post in the Lowell Sun because of all the bad press they received from newspapers and conservative radio:  Byam PTO welcomes suggestions, volunteers
     Now for the story that inspired me.  Merry Hyatt, a four month resident of Redding, CA who is a substitute teacher and member of the Redding Tea Party Patriots, has found support in her desire to put an initiative on the ballot next year requiring public schools to play Christmas carols.  She claims her motivation for the initiative was to help restore children’s moral compasses by inviting Jesus to school Christmas parties.  Currently schools currently are allowed to offer Christmas music as long as it is used for academic purposes rather than devotional purposes and isn't used to promote a particular religious belief.  Hyatt believes it is a First Amendment right to worship which I don’t disagree with, but what she is trying to accomplish is clearly a violation of the U.S. Constitution which also prohibits making laws respecting an establishment of religion, it’s the very first line of the amendment and she is on that slippery slope.  Since the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment were their rallying cries all year, you’d think they’d know these things – it’s not really that long to read!  Or does she just not understand that the entire amendment that teabaggers used all year at their anti-Obama rallies are enforceable?  I don't care if they sing Christmas carols, but you can not make it mandatory.  I'll wager that Merry doesn't include Deck The Halls on her required carols list either (Don we now our gay apparel, Fa la la la la, la la la la.)!  The truth is we did them when I was in school, but I also grew up in a small town with about 40 kids in my class -- we all looked alike had the same background and while I don't remember it being required, it wasn't a bit deal because there wasn't any diversity amongst us.  This situation strikes me as just one more example of conservatives being unhappy with the changes resulting from our society becoming more diverse and it's really gotten over amplified with the election of our first black President who they will not except as a fellow Christian.  They harken back to a mythological religious America that probably never existed.  These people are very simple and are scared of anything not exactly like them.  They live in a world of absolutes.  Everything is black or white to them because that's what they've been told.  Look, I have no problem with unquestioning believers as far as it applies to them as individuals.  My issue is when they want every single person to adhere to their belief system.  It's great that they can take comfort in His words when they need that, but don't threaten people with what's best for them.  I have never read the Bible, but I know a few common things that it teaches:  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", "Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone." and perhaps my favorite is  "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
     I think further commentary requires a little background about myself.  I don’t see anything in black and white, rather varying shades of gray.  It’s what keeps me curious and engaged in the conversation.  We live in a world of complexity and I don’t understand how people lack the curiosity or capacity to think for themselves.  Does thinking really hurt that much?  It’s very similar to what I said in my December 4th article about Fox News viewers; they’re given key words and topics so they don’t need to think for themselves. Religion does the very same thing on a much larger scale.  I was raised in a very Catholic household and dragged to church each weekend.  I made my first communion (oh, how I hated that little white fluffy dress) and had to go to catechism until I made my confirmation which was probably around junior high.  I’m wired much differently than my family, immediate and distant.  I really am a black sheep in the sense that everyone around me are conservative no questions asked believers.  What’s pretty funny is my parents always vote Democrat because they’re old school “Republicans are for the rich, Democrats are for the people” voters.  My political beliefs sprung from that theory, but I’ve far expanded on my thoughts about many other important policies. They’re stuck with that one thought.  On social issues, they're clearly conservatives and probably should be voting Republican these days, but I’m not going to tell them, hell it’s two votes!  Amazing that I turned out so well, isn’t it!  As you can tell by my views, I’m not conservative by any stretch and I’m on the fence 50/50 in regards to religion.  Is there a God?  The weakest believe so, no questions asked.  They need to somehow hold onto that hope that they’ll be reunited throughout eternity with loved ones in paradise.  Do I think it’s possible?  Sure I do.  I’m somewhat “spiritual”, I think there’s a higher power, but I also ask “Is that power just my own mind”.  The whole thing with people seeing ghosts and such, I believe is real.  But, are they actual ghosts or are they products of the mind?  I figure, if there is indeed a God and we meet when my time comes, if he's the loving, forgiving God we're taught about he's just going to say, "I understand why you were a bit skeptical.  There was a lot of wacky stuff going on during your lifetime, with people using my name to justify violence and hatred towards others, but look around, none of them are here!  What goes around comes around."
     Getting back to our country’s religious zealots, and I'm talking about the radicals, not the devout people who go to worship quietly and privately.  It really bothers me that they preach love, compassion and understanding yet are the most intolerant group of radicals in our midst.  This evangelical movement in our country is truly frightening.  Our country is being hijacked by radicals who want to teach Christianity in schools, but don't care if the little "fundies" can read or write and no one is doing anything about it!  Recently, they've designed and sold bumper stickers and other memorabilia with the Psalm 109.8 verse "May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership." That leads into Psalm 109:9, "May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."  When the Bible was written there weren’t politicians, this isn’t about Obama leaving office at the end of his term people!  Thanks once again to Rachel Maddow's coverage, CafePress and Zazzle have stopped carrying this wretched propaganda. The zealots are also against a woman's right to chose a safe legal medical procedure, yet don't acknowledge the bible giving the thumbs up to stone disobedient children.  And keeping with their own hypocrisy, after the unwanted child is born, they will be the first to scream they don’t want their tax dollars going to care for that teenage slut and her bastard baby.  The bible also encorages slavery and that girls can be sold.  Of course that makes sense since they’re still smarting over Constitutional Amendments 13 and 19.  The guy living in the White House should be tending to the grounds of the White House where he belongs.  And if women were never given the right to vote, white men would rule forever!  The fact that they cherry pick their hatred really pisses me off.  I have a huge problem with the majority being allowed to vote on the rights of a minority invoking God into the conversation when we’re supposed to be a country that seperates church and state.  In addition, a large part of our electorate has become so blind and hateful with their Bible teachings guiding them instead of history, science and knowledge of current events that I think people should be required to pass a 12th grade HS test before they're allowed to register to vote.  It's not just poor minorities that will suffer, the good ol' boys will have a big problem too.  These idiots voting for a ticket because they think the VP candidate is attractive or because they want to further dimish civil rights are going to turn us into a third world country.  You know what the most amazing thing about this is to me?  Most of these same people celebrating the birth of Jesus would've been applauding and assisting nailing the queer, sandal wearing, long haired, hippie dude to the cross.

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”
- Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (1935)

Quick Thoughts:  As I was sitting at the drive thru of McDonalds one morning this week waiting for my coffee and listening to Bill Press, I was behind a Honda CRV whose back window was cluttered with decals, but initially I wasn't paying attention to them. Of course, this older lady that I could see in her side view mirror must’ve ordered a lot of stuff because we sat for an unusually long period so I looked up at the decals. The largest one was a “Mary Kay Cosmetics” one running across the top, flanked by a “NRA” decal on the right and a “Terrorist Hunting permit no. 91101” on the other side.  I was thinking, “Oh this is awesome, I’ve got to take a picture and post this on my blog”, but I couldn’t get the damn phone out of my pocket quick enough before she started pulling away. I thought about skipping my coffee for the picture!  I don’t buy cosmetics, but if I did, I wouldn’t be showing up at her house for them!  I will be on the lookout for that CRV though!... Last weekend the 32-13 Alabama Crimson Tide victory over the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game was emotional for (literally) "wear it on your face" Christian, Tim Tebow, who was seen crying on the sidelines as the clock ticked down.  Well, Timmy it looks like God prefers the thumpers to the fundies.  How does that make you feel?  Is God still great?  Didn't hear you say it after the game.  I'm not a college football fan, but ever since the first time I saw this talibangelical go into his praise of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, during his freshman year, I've rooted against Florida.  He's not projecting well as a pro QB, but I would love him to be drafted by the San Francisco 49ers!... Last week, Britain shut down their UFO Investigation Service citing lack of activity.  For over fifty years, sightings of alien sightings across the British Isles have been reported to the service by concerned citizens.  Here's my theory, the aliens were here, but while trying to study our species, they turned on Fox because they'd heard that "fair and balanced" mantra as well.  What they saw was a rabid Glenn Beck go crazy with a chalkboard, they saw thousands of people who had been given a small tax decrease show up in various cities to protest the new rate while wearing teabags on their heads, they saw people stand out in the cold rain to get a glimpse of an unemployed Alaskan, they heard a sitting U.S. Congresswoman encourage people to slit their wrists over health care reform, they watched thousands of white, possibly diabetic, mostly older people needing dental work holding signs and screaming that they didn't want no stinkin' government healthcare while demanding the government keep their hands off their Medicare.  They had seen enough, they looked at each other and unanimously concluded that there was no need to stay as there isn't any intelligent life on earth....
I'm going to do a follow-up this weekend to the Uganda story as there have been some developments, due to the extensive coverage a certain newswoman has devoted to this criminal bill. 

Until then...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rachel Maddow: "I'm reading it from your book, dude!"

While I never intended my blog to become a chapter of the Rachel Maddow fan club or a Sarah Palin bash fest, both women provide so much material, albeit for completely opposite reasons that you'll need to bear with me!  Rachel covers many under-reported stories and behind closed door deals that our fellow Americans have no idea about because they'd rather watch The Biggest Loser and keep track of how many women Tiger Woods has had affairs with since his 2004 marriage.  In my opinion, the following story is a big deal since the U.S. likes to pretend we're the most compassionate, open-minded country in the world.  For the past week or so, The Rachel Maddow Show has been covering an abhorrent story from Uganda.  Quite simply, they have proposed a bill to kill gay people and jail anyone who knows a gay person and didn't come forward to authorities before they found out elsewhere!  Sweden has announced the good sense to cut aid to Uganda.  The bill has been condemned by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Our government on the other hand, has remained silent.  The infamous "C Street Church" members, who are elected U.S. politicians known as "The Family" are responsible in part for the action being taken by Uganda.  For anyone unsure of the group, they're essentially a far reaching Christian Mafia.  This past summer, they received a lot of unwelcome attention as TRMS helped expose their agenda with assistance from Harper Magazine's Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, who had infiltrated and lived among them for a year.  Another anti-gay American with close ties to Ugandans promoting the "kill gays" bill is Saddleback megachurch and CA Prop. 8 supporter Pastor Rick Warren.  You remember him, he delivered the invocation at the inauguration of our "fierce advocate of gays and lesbians", who's done nothing yet about DADT or DOMA, but has found the time, energy and concern to fret over Republican whims, even though they will never support him on anything. Warren has also hosted many visits by Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the bill's leading advocates.  Because of the views of these men, Uganda feels like they've got the green light to pursue this human rights violation.  Our government's silence is deplorable and I really hope someone will have the courage to come forward before this becomes law.
For anyone who missed Rachel's show last night, she took on author Richard "ex-gay" Cohen who claims to cure "the gay".  He and some of his "cured" Pray Away The Gay, friends who have written books and visited Uganda as "experts" are also knee deep in this disturbing bill.  While it's clear that Rachel was personally offended by this guy, she never allows him to make this about her, though he tried on a couple occasions to lure her into discussing her "choice of the homosexual lifestyle."  My favorite part of the interview is her stinging remark for which I named this article.  At the end of the interview she rattles off a list of groups that have discredited him and let's everyone know "he is not licensed by any American or any other licensing body whatsoever.”  After this interview, I'm not so sure there'll be additional printings of his books.  Enjoy the smack down!  12/08/2009

If you'd like to watch more of Rachel's coverage, I've linked them below:

Uganda Be Killing Me - 12/07/2009
Uganda Be Killing Me - 12/04/2009
Uganda Be Killing Me - 12/03/2009
Uganda Be Killing Me - 12/02/2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

18 More least - Is It Officially The Obama Doctrine Now?

While I applaud Obama for deciding on a date to bring troops home from Afghanistan, I would have preferred there wasn’t an eighteen month escalation preceding it. Of course critics say that the only thing Obama’s 18 month plan does is create a month 19 plan for the terrorists. Well, maybe so, but realistically we can’t capture and kill them all so just how many more American lives need to be wasted as we stumble around looking for a clear path to a perceived victory? How many times in the last eight years has the mission been changed just to keep us there? Even though I never viewed Bush as a legitimate President, I supported his decision after 9/11 to go into Afghanistan with the mission to capture and/or kill Osama bin Laden. I wanted the man responsible for the attack on our country “dead or alive”. On March 13, 2002, the part-time resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue stated in regard to bin Laden, “I am truly not that concerned about him. I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." That was just six months after the worse attack ever on US soil.  Clearly, W’s heart wasn’t in it as he discovered they had no oil, so he shifted his attention to Iraq where he forced unfounded ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban and used them to sell to congress and the American public the need of a pre-emptive war. Of course for the Bush administration, it was a financial windfall to keep the war going and capturing bin Laden was never a priority because it would have destroyed any way of justifying going into Iraq. Cheney’s lifetime ties to Halliburton and the millions he's made from them are rarely included in this sad story either. When Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow bring it up, they're assailed as enemies of "real" America.  Who is the real enemy?  U.S. Marines allegedly had bin Laden trapped in Tora Bora in December of 2001 and asked for additional support. A decision to not deploy those requested American forces to go after him or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, Gen. Tommy Franks. Why would they do that if not to prolong the war and start another one?  How many American lives could have been saved.

Wednesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel was joined by our U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice. The two had a very respectful back and forth as Rachel believes there’s an undeclared war in Pakistan while Rice denies that is the case and explains the differences in our Middle East involvements. It’s informative to watch two adults talk about U.S. policy.  The two parts are about 23 minutes combined:

This interview should be enlightening for those of us truly trying to understand our mission and goals.  Unfortunately, we have an electorate that, for the most part, has no real intellectual curiosity and in fact dislikes anyone who does.  Surely, 23 minutes of two smart women (gasp) talking about military strategy can not be taken seriously by the "right".  They see this type of discussion reserved for conservative white males only and it wouldn't have taken 23 minutes, just six words, "bomb the hell out of them."  They much prefer the primal instinct of war over a well reasoned peaceful policy discussion and decision.  In their eyes, "fight makes right" and anyone who disagrees is viewed as a traitor or weak.  These people agreed with McCain and his 100 year war idea.  Most of our low information voters rely on “key” words/topics like;  liberal, socialist, fascist, czar, Marxist, Nazi, Hitler along with Kenyan, ACORN, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc…to get them fired up -- no thought needed.  These words are delivered on a nightly basis from Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity on Fox and Rush Limbaugh on the radio.  The fact that their listeners/viewers repeat these words after hearing them on these shows even though many of the terms are contradictory certainly doesn’t deter them, that’s for sure!  They applaud the untrained, unsophisticated views of their hero's.  The only one in that group who completed what he started is O'Reilly (Marist College).  The people that hang on to their every word, despise Maddow (Stanford & Oxford), Olbermann (Cornell), Ed Schultz (Minnesota State) and Thom Hartmann (Michigan State).  I'm not sure when having an education became a bad thing in this country.  Except for the occasionally bombastic Schultz, have you also noticed that our commentators have a much calmer demeanor?  I'm also not buying that being a "liberal" is the profanity that conservatives have turned it into. By definition, we favor progress and reform, the protection of civil liberties. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.  Those aren't bad things!

Obviously President Obama has more information about the situation than we do, but I’d love to see our service members come home. I'm just not sure that the goals that Susan Rice explained are realistic.  These wars have done nothing positive for our country and there’s so much more we need to focus on. I did not vote for Obama to follow in Bush's footsteps in any manner, including Iraq and Afghanistan.  We live in a world of microwave ovens and high-speed internet so we’ve grown accustomed to wanting everything now…if not sooner! Besides the war, President Obama is being criticized a lot for not accomplishing anything in his first year because we can’t see sure evidence. The stimulus appears to be working, yet because unemployment didn’t immediately fall to 5%, conservatives call it a failure. The health care impasse has been caused by "just say no" Republicans and conservative Democrats. Granted, Obama should take a more active role, but with the eight year mess he was handed, there remains only so many hours in a day. George W. Bush was most likely the worst leader (I won’t call him Prez) this country has ever had and his legacy is quite possibly going to destroy Obama’s as well unless giant steps are taken.  I think one of the things that has caught him off guard is there is no longer a "no drama Obama."  Everything he does is getting ridiculed and scrutinized by the right in ways that they weren't totally prepared for, so they've taken some heat.  He came out of the gate strong with broadening stem cell research and passing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  He appeared to be a strong, quiet, no frills Commander-in-chief when he ordered the Navy Seals to kill three Somali pirates who were holding an American cargo ship captain hostage.  Then the health care debate began, Sarah Palin spoke of death panels, the crazed fringe took over informational town hall meetings and all the wonderful momentum and hope we had for this young President came to a screeching halt.  I hope he can clean up most of the damage before the 2010 elections.  While I don't think the Democrats will lose the majority in the House, it may no longer be a strong majority.

Sarah Palin Update:  Since my last post was on Thanksgiving, I wasn't yet aware of The Turkey Trot To Nowhere.  Evidently Sarah agreed to run the 5k Kennewick “Turkey Trot.”  But she quit 40 minutes in!  She wanted to avoid the adoring masses at the finish line.  The article is linked above from "The Mudflats."  It appears that the infamous Palin bus tour is a hoax.  Joe McGinniss reports she's in fact flying around America on a private jet, specifically a luxurious "Gulfstream II 12-passenger jet rented from Universal Jet Aviation of Boca Raton, Florida, at a cost of more than $4,000 per hour."  Yes indeed, her fans say she's "just like them!"  In addition, camera's and recording devices are being banned from her book signing stops, BUT for a fee, you can get a photo taken of yourself with the former Alaska Governor for the following size/prices: 5x7 $15.99, 8x10 $20.99, 8x12 $23.99, 11x14 $35.99.  Has any of her "fans" figured out yet that she's just in this for the money?  Speaking of the former Governor, the Minnesota Mall of America announces she wants to be called Governor and wants only English speaking press when she appears there.  Why should they call her Governor?  Honestly, the way her gaffe filled book signing tour is going, you'd think she'd ban English speaking press so her never ending flow of ignorance wouldn't be reported daily!
Palin has also called on President Obama to boycott the Copenhagen climate conference since she feels the hacked emails from the the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England prove that man-made climate change is a hoax.
"Policy decisions require real science and real solutions, not junk science and doomsday scare tactics pushed by an environmental priesthood that capitalizes on the public's worry and makes them feel that owning an SUV is a 'sin' against the planet."
In some ways Palin's sudden enthusiasm for science comes as a surprise, since she has suggested evolution is not real and wants creationism taught in schools. Then again this gives her the chance to once again recite "Drill baby, drill." 

Quick Thoughts: On the Tiger Woods' ongoing saga: You know, the story seemed pretty conflicted right from the start, and has unfolded exactly as I expected it too, including my vision of the night in question and how the window of the Escalade was smashed.  I am the last person who will condone any form of domestic violence, but as more and more information comes out, don’t you get the feeling that he probably wishes he just stayed in the house and took the beating?... On Thursday, Republican Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla) introduced the gimmick filled "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act". "The idea, broad-brush, is that whatever government option is in the bill, every senator and every representative should be enrolled in it," Vitter told 'The Hill'. "No other possibilities, no other choices." "It's called leadership," Coburn said. "If it's good enough for everybody else, we ought to be leading by example." Funny thing happened though, Democrats called their bluff. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who tried to become a co-sponsor and was given the cold shouldar, was joined by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.) in support. These are the kind of Democrats we need -- one’s with a spine!  I like Sherrod Brown a little more every time I see him. ... You will love this headline: "Arlington, Tennessee Mayor Russell Wiseman Assails 'Muslim President' For Pre-Empting 'Peanuts":  Seriously, this guy believes that President Barack Obama's West Point address, in which he announced his intention to escalate the war in Afghanistan, was intentionally timed to prevent Christians from watching Charlie Brown, stating, “Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special' and our muslim [sic] president is there, what a load.....try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose”:  The Peanuts Christmas show?  Really? Now I could see if it was Rudolph or Frosty, but...These conservative fools weren’t embarrassed by eight years of a court appointed corrupt Presidency with the Bush-Cheney Regime, but they still can’t get over the fact that the young, black Hawaiian (yes Republicans, it was a state in 1961) won. Southerners get upset that they're perceived as uneducated, but they keep electing people like this.  In fact, they should be embarrassed that people like Wiseman (ironic, isn't it?) continue to pop up on television and other media and make every southern stereotype be proven true.
Snarky comment of the week from Huffington Post commentator MCISMetal: "I can't comment on the Kyoto Accord as I've only ever seen the Honda" - Sarah Palin

In case you missed it...
News of the "get a life -- and a new iron":  Nov. 27 METHUEN, Mass. (AP) -- A Massachusetts woman who recently separated from her husband and had her hours cut at work says an image of Jesus Christ she sees on her iron has reassured her that "life is going to be good."  Mary Jo Coady first noticed the image Sunday when she walked into her daughter's room.  The brownish residue on the bottom of the iron looks like the face of a man with long hair.  The 44-year-old Coady was raised Catholic. She and her two college-age daughters agree that the image looks like Jesus and is proof that "he's listening."  Coady tells The Eagle-Tribune she hopes her story will inspire others during the holidays. She says she plans to keep the iron in a closet and buy a new one.

The "image of Jesus" that she sees has only reassured me that what's going to be good in her life is not burning down her house.  The good news is she's going to put it in the closet and buy a new one.  Since it looks like it's very old and well used, this is a good call...although I'll be expecting it to be up for bid on Ebay!
UPDATE 12/6/09:  Just did a quick search on Ebay and there already is an iron with Jesus alleged image listed!  The reasonable seller zinsanemods (amazingly the same person also has an Ozzy Osbourne iron - what are the odds?!) has allowed a $3000 Buy It Now.