Monday, January 30, 2012

Rootin' for Newton

Okay, I just can't help myself. After looking at the polling results in Florida, it looks like Mint Rawmoney is pulling ahead of our boy Newt in tomorrow's primary, but I still can't help but root for The Newt to somehow pull it out at the end.

And that's because I think Newtie would be the ideal candidate for Obama to trounce in the November election. But we are now seeing, in its most raw form, the pernicious and corrupting influence that money has on politics after the infamous Citizens United SCOTUS decision.

Mittens now is way ahead in the polling, not a surprise after he outspent The Gingrinch by a factor of something like four to one.

I heard a joke on the radio today: Someone asked a guy why he developed an instantaneous dislike for Mitt Romney, and he said that it saved him time...

So the Rethug party is faced with a very odd choice. They can either support a guy who is so rich he can buy Congress lock stock and barrel, who is also a devout member of the Mormon Church, or they can support one of the two Catholics who are still in the race. And this is a party that has its base in the old Solid South, filled with knuckledragging cretins who hate Catholics and who think that Mormonism is not Christian but rather is in fact an out-and-out cult.

May you live in interesting times...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Little Love...

...for our good friend Dusty over at Left Wing Nut Job, who is fighting some serious medical problems.

Hang in there, kid. I'm a seven+ years melanoma survivor myself (yet another "souvenir" from my forced vacation in Vietnam in 1968-69).

Even though I am now walking around with only half a thumb, I'm living (so far) proof that you can beat the fucker! I'll keep having a good thought for you.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jessica Ahlquist and the American Taliban

First of all, major kudos to sixteen-year-old Jessica Ahlquist of Cranston RI, who successfully -- and it appears, single-handedly -- forced her high school to remove a prayer banner posted on the school wall.

Her thanks? Death threats from local & national "Christians" (aka the American Taliban), social isolation, and it even came down to the refusal of floral delivery outfits to deliver congratulatory flowers and wreaths to her.

I'm sure that "imprecatory prayers" were also in the mix. So much for that whole "turn the other cheek" crap from that proto-hippie Jesus guy.

My hearty congratulations to Jessica for her principled stance against the minions of religious orthodoxy, and those who wish to congratulate her in a more monetary fashion can go here to make a donation.

You go, girlfriend!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Republican Racism: The New Ten Top Hits

It used to be that the Rethugs used "dog whistle" politics to display their just-under-the-surface racism. They could talk about the infamous Chicago "welfare queen", for example, without actually coming out and saying she was Black, but everyone knew who she was.

Ronald Reagan was a master of this, but even he kept it more or less symbolic. That's why he could, without even a blip on the media radar, go to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980 to announce his candidacy for the presidency, standing on hallowed ground watered by the blood of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, the three civil rights workers who had been murdered there in June 1964.

But in the ensuing 31 years, the party's racism has become more visible, more blatant, and more of a siren call than a dog whistle.

Over at Alternet, African-American commentator Chauncy De Vega has an insightful (and inciteful) piece entitled The 10 Most Racist Moments of the GOP Primary (So Far) that is well worth the read.

In it are the usual suspects: Newt Gingrich wanting to make "poor inner-city children" (code for "Black") work as janitors and bitch-slapping that uppity Juan Williams on Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday while standing under a huge Confederate flag and Rick Santorum calling, in essence, Black people "parasites" who are lazy and want to live off the hardwork earnings of White people, but there's also our old buddy, Herman Cain, calling Black Americans out for living under the generous hand of the Democratic Party "plantation" system, and equating conservative Blacks as runaway slaves. And let's not forget Michelle ("Our Negroes are better than their Negroes") Bachmann claiming that slavery was actual good for Black people.

It's appalling that the Rethugs don't even think they have to try to appear not to be racists any more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State of the Union and Kerry's Face

Like many people, I watched Obama give the annual State of the Union speech last night. Blah-blah-blah, election year, yadda yadda yadda... I kind of miss the days when Baby Doc Bush was bound to come out with something totally fucking off the wall, like "human-animal hybrid switchgrass" and shit like that. I used to watch him just for those little surprises, and I was rarely disappointed.

But no doubt about it, Obama is a dynamic speaker, and he came out aggressively, if not combatively, in sticking it to the Rethugs on a lot of points. The most fun of the night was watching de facto Speaker of the House and full-time asshole Eric Cantor keeping a stone face but squirming in his seat like a schoolboy with pinworms every time they cut away to him.

Beyond that, did everybody see John Kerry's face? He looked like he'd been mugged. Jesus, what the fuck happened to him?

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed had an answer: Teresa (his wife and inadvertent heir to the Heinz fortune) smacked him up the face with a ketchup bottle when he came home late. reeking of cheap whiskey and cheaper perfume.

Of course the "truth" is a little more mundane -- he was playing hockey and got smacked with a hockey stick. At least that's the official word from Kerry's office... Which I suppose is believable, if you've ever been to a hockey game. As Rodney Dangerfield once said, "I went to the fights and a hockey game broke out."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Attention Whore

As if we didn't need any more reminders that bloviating blow-hole Newtie Gingrinch is an attention whore, today he comes out and says he won't play if he can't be cheered on by his mindless slavering fans.

Newt "threw down a gauntlet" to the media -- which he naturally both loves and hates -- calling NBC's Brian Williams to task for trying to keep the debate audience quiet:

"I wish, in retrospect, I had protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it's wrong. And I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that the audience is going to side with the candidates against the media, which is what they've done in every debate." For future debates, Mr. Gingrich said "we're not going to allow that to happen."
"The media doesn't control free speech," he added. "People ought to be allowed to applaud if they want to. It was almost silly."
Got that? Free speech. Yeah, free for Gingrinch, not so free for those who came to see a debate (such as it is) and not the chanting spectacle of a bunch of Newtie robots gathered up from the Teabagger clubhouse and required to check their brains at the door.

It's long been a proven mind control tactic, getting people to act together, feeding off each others' energy and reinforcing the in-group mentality.

You don't have to look any further than military basic training which employs cadence chants and group actions to train soldiers to act and think together as a unit. And of course Nazi Germany was notorious for this. Watch Leni Reifenstahl's propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will for a textbook example of this in action.

Sidebar: Did you ever notice how many times Newtie has called something "silly"? It's been a lot over the years. Can't he come up with any other descriptive adjectives? Here's what Dictionary.com has to say about "silly":
1. weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish: a silly writer.
2. absurd; ridiculous; irrational: a silly idea.
3. stunned; dazed: He knocked me silly.
Given that, I'm willing to stipulate that Newt Gingrinch know silly when he sees it. Except when he's looking in the mirror...

A Delete Key for Slavery

The Farnsworth family has deep roots in Tennessee. One of my relatives was a poker-playing whiskey-drinking buddy of Andrew Jackson, and his brother, my direct ancestor, built one of the first hominy mills in Central Tennessee. Some of my cousins still live there.

So over the years I approached my Tennessee roots with an odd mix of pride and shame. While the state saw the establishment of one of the very first colleges intended specifically for African-Americans in the nation, we can't forget that the Ku Klux Klan was also organized there. Fast forward to 1968 and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, and you can see that the civil rights struggle for black Americans has a long and shadowy history in the state.

So it doesn't come as a surprise -- although sadly it really should -- that the Tennessee Tea Party ("oh, no, we're not racists!") is now pushing for a rewrite of school history textbooks to downplay the whole issue of the so-called Founding Fathers owning slaves, because it makes them look bad...

As if the Tea Party hasn't got enough on its hands with their rewriting reimagining of the rest of American history.

The Head Teabagger in Tennessee, Hal Rounds, along with others of his bent says that:

they want the state legislature to force teachers to teach history in the way they see it. In other words, they want to re-write history to exclude the fact that the Founding Fathers owned slaves, because according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal, the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”
The group wants to change textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” It’s a fancy way of saying let’s take the role of minorities out of our American history textbooks so our past leaders will look good. [Emphasis added]
You can't help but think that the next step will be to remove any mention of the Holocaust from the history of WWII because it makes the Germans look bad...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving...

Newtie Gingrich
Crawled out of his ditch
And shot off the legs of his rival.
And with that little piece of song-parody doggerel, I am celebrating the victory of Fig Newton Gingrich over Mittens Rawmoney in South Carolina yesterday.

If anyone on the Rethug side ought to be easy to beat come November, it's Newt.

Yayy!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ice Storm

Everyone knows "Murphy's Law" but there are some adjuncts to it, one of which is the "Unspoken Law", which holds that as soon as you make a comment on something, if it's good it goes away and if it's bad, it happens...

After crowing the other day about keeping our electricity, fate stepped in and dealt a cruel hand. I (and some 250,000 of my closest friends) were without power for a couple of days after an ice storm hit right on the heels of the snow storm.

We were powerless for 41+ hours (others, not so fortunate, are still without electricity) and nothing makes you realize how dependent you are on technology than being deprived of it.

After the first night in a house that sank to 41 degrees internal temperature, I said, "Okay, I get it. You made your point. Now can I have some warmth?" I didn't get an answer to that plea, however.

We have a gas heater, but it's out in the garage and relies on electricity to force the warm air into the cold interior. I also had installed last year a "hot water on demand" system that, while it uses natural gas, still relies on ... electricity ... to make it work.

We had to go "old school" for our entertainment (old school being circa 2001) and use an old CD player that also plays .mp3 format tracks. Luckily I'm a fan and collector of so-called Old Time Radio shows, so after 34 episodes of Lum 'n' Abner, along with three episodes of Lights Out and three episodes of Sherlock Holmes, the lights finally came on and we fought like children to get in the shower first.

After an overnight temperature hovering in the 20s, we lost three trees out of a total of 19 on our small city lot (planted around the outside edge so none fell on the house), and a bunch of limbs that dropped off all around the neighborhood with annoying frequency and loud reports that sounded like gunshots, the temperature rapidly warmed up to nearly 50 when a coastal front finally moved in with enough rain to melt the ice. At one point I had to go outside to warm up, since the outside temperature was higher than the inside temperature...

It's a crazy world, all right, and if I hear one more person say some sarcastic remark about "so much for global warming" I'm gonna strangle 'em...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day



Up here in the Wet Corner of the country, our usual precipitation is in the form of rain, with an only occasional "thick rain" (aka snow), so it's with some surprise that I learned this morning that we have had a record amount of snowfall in just one day.

This is it, over 10 inches overnight, and it's been a living freezing hell to drive in. Not for me so much, since I have a Jeep (gotta love that four-wheel drive), but other drivers are pretty much idiots who don't know snow from their pubic hair. Keeping an eye out for morons is pretty much a full-time job in good weather; when it snows all bets are off.

Now there's a freezing rain outside, so I am comfortably ensconced inside, with a chilled bottle of Full Sail Amber and some ├╝ber cheesy-retro horror movies (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster) to watch on the the DVR.

Speaking of which, this morning I wasn't getting very good reception on the TV, so I went outside to take a look at The Dish. It had about three inches of snow plastered to its almost-vertical face, which I was able to dust off fairly easily. But I was impressed with the picture I did get through all the snow, so kudos to Dish Network for their equipment.

So now it's time for the snow to go away. We've managed to get our yearly supply early (it generally snows two or three times per year, about two inches per snowfall, and it's gone in a couple of days) and I'm pleased about that, but come on, enough is enough. At least we haven't lost our electricity. That comes from living on the same power grid as the state capitol grounds and the governor's office, I think -- I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Nonexistent FBI File

Back in the youthful days of the federal Freedom of Information Act I submitted a written request to the FBI to see exactly what they had on me. I'd heard of people getting copies of their "permanent record" only to find that a bunch of things had been "redacted" for reasons of privacy or national security, even to the point of getting a dozen pages (which they had to pay for, by the way) of nothing but blacked-out type.

I was interested in knowing what they had, and I knew that they had to have something. My best friend at the time had been under investigation for several years as a "dangerous radical" and had been set up and busted on a phony dope charge by the local police who were working with the Feebs.

After his arrest, as soon as they got him into custody at the police station the Feebs took over and demanded to know his connection to something called "The White Panther Party" (this was shortly after the FBI raid on the White Panther headquarters in Portland OR) and interrogated him on the current whereabouts of Weather Underground fugitive Bernadine Dohrn.

It was a crazy time, and the Feebs, for all their vaunted "professionalism", didn't fuck around with the subtle niceties of the US Constitution. I guess he was lucky at that, since they didn't mark him for "special rendition" to some godforsaken third world country that didn't have any laws against torture.

So what makes me think that my relationship with this friend caused the Feebs to start a file on me?

Because we were roommates at the time, and this was not one of those thrown-together-in-a-college-dorm thing. We were active in the anti-war movement and living in a small "urban commune", and everyone else in the house was also followed and interrogated and hassled pretty much at the same time.

So when my FOIA request came back with the notation "could not locate records responsive to your request" I had my suspicions that they weren't being entirely forthright about it.

So now, some 35 years later, I ran across this article, Revealed: The FBI's Secretive Practice of "Blackballing" Files over at Truthout.org:

Have you ever filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI and received a written response from the agency stating that it could not locate records responsive to your request?
If so, there's a chance the FBI may have found some documents, but for unknown reasons, the agency's FOIA analysts determined it was not responsive and "blackballed" the file, crucial information the FBI withholds from a requester when it issues a "no records" response.
Okay, so there we go. My file, apparently, was of such a magnitude of a threat to national security that not only were its contents blacked out, but so was the entire file.

So I guess I'm also lucky not to have been "specially rendered" myself... I'm also lucky that I haven't shown up on somebody's "no fly" list.

I'd file a new FOI request, but at this point I don't think I can afford, at 25 cents per page, the cost of it. After all, I am an elderly shut-in on a fixed income these days.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Music Break

Okay, so it's predictable. So what? So sue me...



I was in Vietnam when this song was new, and it still has a lot of personal meaning for me.

MLK Day 2012: Move to Amend

Today is the US national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and I can't imagine a better way to honor his memory than to pass the proposed 28th Amendment to the US Constitution and settle, once and for all, that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

Over at Move to Amend you can see ways you can get involved and ways you can help to bring about this necessary law to repair our political system.

The proposed amendment is pretty simple:

Move to Amend 28th Amendment
Section 1 [A corporation is not a person and can be regulated]
The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]
Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
Section 3
Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
And that's it. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Check out their website and find the nearest place where you can Occupy the Courts this Friday, January 20th. Maybe I'll see you there...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Romney is a Serial Killer?

Stolen from a Joe Nilsson post on The Facebook, with regard to the Gingrinch attack ad on Romney: "The spot takes Romney's claim that corporations are people, along with his history of buying companies and breaking them apart, to its comedically logical conclusion: Mitt Romney is a serial killer."

Indeed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The French Connection

We all knew that the Newster was going to pull out all the stops in his charge to topple Mitt Rawmoney, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.

But it does.

Now Newtie is slamming Mittens because he can speak ... French??? Just like (wait for it...) John Kerry.

I don't know what it is about Americans, but we seem to have a visceral dislike of the French, that bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys, with their funny-smelling cheeses and their snotty accents and their superior attitudes... Who the fuck do they think they are, anyway? We can still eat their fried potatoes but we can call them "freedom" fries, thank you very much.

After all, without the US, they would be speaking German now... Never mind the fact that it was the French who helped us out during our own Revolutionary War, and without them we'd all be speaking English now... But I digress...

Come on, Newt. This is the best you can do after getting all Armageddony on us?

Especially since, as a self-described college "professor", you really ought to know better.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Armageddon Outta Here!

The Newtster has just declared Armageddon in South Carolina, on Mitt Rawmoney and the rest of the pack of intellectual defectives in the 2012 GOP race for the White House.

And why shouldn't he? Newt already thinks he's god, and what good is being a god if you can't declare an Armageddon now and then?

It's going to be nothing but scorched earth from Newtie for the next two weeks or so, and to hell (literally) with anyone who stands in his way.

But you gotta ask yourself, if Rusty "I'm-Big-Fat-Drug-Addict" Limpdick, Rude-y "I-Have-No-Lips-But-I-Talk-Anyway" Giuliani , Ron "I'm-Not-A-Racist-No Really" Paul and the Print Propaganda Arm of the GOP, the semi-but-not-really-venerable Wall Street Journal all think you need to dial it down a little, shouldn't you even try to consider that advice?

Not to mention the storied Eleventh Commandment handed down on high from Saint Ronald (trailing clouds of glory, etc.) himself, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican" (never minding the fact that the sinless saint broke that commandment himself in his fruitless run against Gerald Ford in 1976, which many analysts say guaranteed the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter that year...).

Ah, politics. You gotta love it, especially when the Rethugs start doing what Democrats seemed to have had a virtual patent on for so many elections, which is lock and load and shoot blindly in a circular firing squad.

The "Ministerial Exception"

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously(!) that people such as teachers in religious schools meet the definition of "ministers" when it comes to having no rights to sue for discrimination.

I wish I knew someone who taught in a religious school (but as you can probably guess, I don't really know anyone like that), because I would talk them into claiming that exception on their income taxes this year. Which means that their entire salary ought to be tax free.

As far as I am concerned, a minister is someone who is ordained (more or less -- different religions have different ways of dealing with that) to "preach" or whatever, minister to the flock, etc. If you are performing a purely secular duty -- such as was the case with the math teacher at the center of this case -- then you are not a minister but just an employee, and if the church that employs you gets Federal money (through the so-called "Faith Based Initiatives" etc.) then they shouldn't be able to sidestep Federal anti-discrimination laws.

In other words, I don't think that churches ought to be able to have it both ways... But what do I know?

Anyway, I am looking forward to a bunch of enterprising church employees using the language of this decision to avoid paying taxes, and we'll be interested in seeing how that goes. Class action suit, anyone?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is Mitt Romney an "Anchor Baby"?

I had forgotten until the other day that Romney's father, George, an erstwhile 1968 presidential candidate himself, was not actually born in the United States. Instead he was born in the Mormon Colonies in Northern Mexico where his father had fled from Utah, taking his several wives with him, rather than be subjected to the new law forbidding polygamy in Utah. Seemed Utah wanted to become a state so bad that it was willing to persecute members of its own church who had up to then sincerely been following the Word of God...

It turns out that the church elders and their multiple wives were still legally married in the eyes of the Mormon Church, but were lawbreakers in the United States after the church government kowtowed to the rest of the monogynous country and called off what had been held up to that time as an irreversible tenet -- a central "Doctrine" of their belief system.

Ask any Mormon today and he or she will tell you that the church outlawed polygamy oh so many years ago. Not true. The nation outlawed it and the church went along with that and advised all those in plural marriages had to stop it (wink wink). At that a number of Mormon extended families fled the United States and established a series of agricultural colonies in Mexico, all of them within two hundred miles of the US border, where a pliant Mexican government, glad to have all the industrious and hard working Mormons who came with a penchant for making deserts bloom with food and cash crops, allowed them to stay and to flourish while the government at the time basically looked the other way.

At least up until the Mexican Revolution of 1912, with its antireligious tones and tirades, made it too hot for them there and they had to, for the most part, escape back into the US.

So if Old George Romney was born in Mexico and then came to the United States, where the Mittster was born, doesn't that make him Mitt of those so-called "anchor babies" that the right wing keeps fuming about?

Is anyone going to bring that up? And have we ever seen Mitt's own birth certificate? And how do we know that he wasn't born in Mexico himself?

Hey, fair's fair. If Orly Taitz can work herself into a lacquered lather over Barack Obama's real birth certificate, why can't she give Romney the same treatment.

Oh, and that whole polygamy thing with Mormons in general? They still believe in it but are enjoined by the church from practicing it (this is why so many offshoots of the Mormon Church exist, chief among them the notorious Fundamentalst Latter Day Saints, late of serial child molester Warren Jeffs fame), they still believe that no one gets into the highest level of Heaven (there are three in total) without entering into plural marriages, and single women who can't find a husband here on earth can have herself "sealed" -- in a special temple rite, by proxy of course -- to old dead guys who were Mormon Royalty themselves when they were alive, thereby getting to skip the line and get immediately into the Good One. And only those who get into the Good One have the opportunity to get promoted as it were, and to become gods themselves where they can create and rule over their own planets...

I am not making this up. Check it out for yourself and see if I am right.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

RUFKM???

I just ran across this commercial:




From the look of it, I would have guessed it was something out of the 1940s. It's as if someone asked, "How many negative stereotypes about Black people can we jam into 40 seconds?" and then went ahead and did it.

It surprised me to learn that this was actually an advert from the 1980s! Granted, it is from the UK, whose racist attitudes have always been much more upfront, more in your grille, than Americans, but still...

I am sorely tempted to add my own soundtrack in which I imitate the leading Rethug presidential contenders talking about those uppity Negroes.

I'm tempted, but as everyone knows, I am also lazy. I'll leave it up to someone else to do it...

Monday, January 09, 2012

My Choice for the GOP Ticket

Let's face it, the frontrunners are all pretty much a bunch of losers who couldn't come up with a campaign slogan if their trust funds depended on it. And can you wait until the dust settles and they all have to kiss and make up and make googoo sounds at each other, after going for jugular in nearly every debate. Wanna watch Professor Gingrinch suck up to his sworn enemy Mitt Romney after Romney gets the nomination? Well, actually, me too, but it won't be pretty. And that's my I am throwing my not inconsiderable support behind a couple of alternative candidates who just happen to have perfect names for the 2012 Republican nomination:



I said it before, way back in 2009, and I'm saying it again, Blunt-Boehner in 2012. Roy Blunt from Missouri and John Boehner from Ohio. Both card-carrying rethugs, both with names that will make history. Come on guys, what about it?

That slogan alone is worth the price of admission. I'm probably going to go over to Makestickers.com and have a couple printed up.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Romney: Another Chickenhawk

I've always found it kind of odd that Mitt Romney never quite managed to find the time to serve his country in the US Armed forces. After all, Mitt is of an age (born in 1947) that, when the 1960s were in full flower and the flower of American youth was called to serve and die, that he really should have been called to serve.

Of course he was on a mission for the Moron Mormon church for two years in, of all places, France! How many Frenchmen can be wrong? All of them who fall for the cheese-pie-in-the-sky fantasies of the Mormons...

Okay, cheap shot -- everyone knows that I don't hate the French. But I do hate most Mormons and I hate most Mormon missionaries (okay, hate is a strong word for what is really a kind of special pity for a naive bunch of brainwashed children) and I especially hate chickenhawks.

So why is it that Mitt, even though he was pretty public in demonstrating in support of the draft at Stanford(!) in 1966, was never sent that infamous "greeting" that a lot of us got when we were afforded that "opportunity" to serve our Uncle Sam?

The article linked above seems to conclude that his status as a "missionary of god" got him a permanent exemption, but I know that this is a faulty conclusion. It got him a deferment only for the 24 months that he was "laboring" in the mission field, but after that he was -- or should have been -- 1A with his local draft board again.

When I was an unwilling employee of Uncle Sam myself, I was in training with this creepy crewcut geekezoid -- he looked a lot like that Gary Larson kid with the black glasses and flattop haircut -- from Idaho who was a "returned missionary", having served his two years in Germany. He was, like me, a draftee, but he was also a scion of Mormon Royalty from several Utah generations (you'd recognize the name immediately if you knew anything about Mormon Royalty). Back then, I thought that most Mormons were a patriotic lot and wouldn't consider avoiding the draft.

Still, when something over 80% of my basic training company -- all draftees, of course -- got sent to advanced infantry training at Fort Polk Louisiana (prep school for Vietnam) Mister Mormon Royalty managed to snag himself a plum quasi-diplomatic liaison assignment to ... Germany. All because he spoke (sort of) German.

Which brings us full circle back to Chickenhawk Romney. If he didn't get that deferment because he was on a mission, then why didn't he get drafted?

Could it be that it was because his father, George Romney, who himself had avoided the WWII draft himself by making cars in Detroit, was the governor of Michigan?

And even though our Mittsy was in favor of the war, he just didn't want to dirty his own hands with it; his father, when he tried to run for president (yes, it's true) in 1968, came out against the war and said that, when he was for it before he was against it, he'd been "brainwashed" by the generals. Which history shows was his knell of doom...

Politics is a dirty business, but it ought to be at least a public dirty business. Mitt Romney needs to clear the air, straighten out the record, and come clean as to why, if he really supported the war, he didn't do anything personally to help win it. Like enlist. Or like allow himself to get drafted.

But I'm not gonna hold my breath waiting for it. The fucker won't even make public his goddam tax returns. He's not going to address a half-century old question as to why he, despite having every opportunity to do so, did not serve his country in the Vietnam War.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Georgia Trusts in God

...all others pay cash. Sorry, I couldn't resist the cheap joke.

But seriously folks... The state of Georgia is on track to make all cars have license plates that state, boldly enough, "In God We Trust". Unless you are some kind of commie-leaning atheist and you don't trust in god, in which case you can pay some extra bucks to opt out of the program and have your county's name, emblazoned on a peel-off sticker, to paste over the motto.

You may also recall that our Congress, in the midst of a financial crisis unknown for nearly a century, chose to spend a day revisiting the issue of our national motto. Which is, curiously enough, also spelled "In God We Trust".

And is has been since the 1950s, when the old motto, "E Pluribus Unum", was overthrown. Too foreign-sounding, I guess...

Anyway, to get back to Georgia. I suppose there won't be any ... untoward ... reactions against those who opt out of wearing their religion on their sleeves. Like no noisy neighbors in sheets congregating on your front lawn and using a handy wooden relic as a flaming lantern to light their way and enlighten yours...

This is the one of the stupidest ideas to come out of a part of the country already well known for stupid ideas. It'll likely become law (who wants to come up for re-election this year when your opponent will cite your vote against god in his campaign literature?), and it'll also most likely be struck down by one of those activist judges on the supreme court of Georgia, or in the court of appeals, etc.

I guess it's easier to wear your religion on your sleeve -- or your bumper -- than actually, I don't know, really practicing it. I guess that whole "love your neighbor" and "help the poor" stuff kind of gets a little messy in real life.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Yawn, it's Romney

After all the hoopla and the millions of bucks thrown into Iowa by all of the candidates, you'd think that it would be more exciting than this.

But it isn't. Romney wins, which is what everyone who has a little toe firmly grounded in reality has been saying all along.

Now the truly entertaining candidates (Bachmann, Gingrich) are nursing their stubbed toes and mouthing platitudes such as, "It's not over till it's over" and shit like that.

The surprising-to-some showing of Rick Santorum in second place just goes to show you the value of "retail politics" -- Little Ricky made more in-person town hall appearances in Iowa than there are towns to have a town hall in. Let's see him try that on the national stage.

Ron Paul, of course, the true Republican maverick, appeals to the more disaffected voters, but his campaign is really really going no where, so in the end it will be Romney who gets the nomination and then gets the unenviable opportunity to be kicked in the ass by the re-emergent Barack Obama.

As long as there is no October Surprise in the offing...

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Return of the OPOV Book of the Month

Starting off the New Year right, I've chosen Secular City Limits by Matthew Barron as my new Book of the Month.

Polemic fiction has a long and honored -- and sometimes dishonored (Atlas Shrugged by wackjob Ayn Rand comes to mind) -- history in the literary world. In the long run it's very hard to pull off with any finesse. And that is why I was pleasantly surprised with this book. The author has a definite point of view and he's not afraid of making it known, but not at the expense of story and character.

At some unstated time in the near future, the United States becomes a "Christian Nation", with none other than the old theocrat himself, Pat Robertson, at the helm as president. The main characters of the story, a single mother and her fatherless son, plus a couple of friends, undertake to escape from Indiana ("Praise Jesus") through Ohio ("Praise God") on their way to the promised land, a near-mythical place in the old Northeast called Secular City, where the theocrats have not taken over, religion is left up to the individual, and peace and democracy rule. That's the belief that Helena and her son clutch onto to get them across one-third of the country from their home in Indiana.

Their struggles along the way provide ample fodder for the church-state-separation polemicist in Barron, but the work is never didactic, never preachy, and the dialog never unbelievable. It's really difficult to write dialog with a political point of view that still sounds natural, that doesn't sound phony, but Barron pulls it off with ease.

We have a set of characters, briefly drawn yet fully realized, with whom we can identify and sympathize, and some bully-like antagonists that are easy to hate, but none of the characters come off as cardboard cutouts.

Highly recommended for fans of church-state separation and for fans of dystopian fiction.

God I Miss Herman Cain.

"If you cain't get a pizza for $9.99, it's yo' fault!"

With Cain out of the race for the Rethug nomination, those of us over on the left are beside ourselves. Such a rich gold mine for political snark just doesn't come along every day. Last summer I was also hoping Sarah "Half-Governor" Palin was going to finally, after weeks of dithering, throw her hat in the ring after all. For someone who sees comedy in pretty much everything and lives for the chance to make fun of someone in Rethug politics, it's almost more than I can take.

And of course over in the wingnuttery, the talking heads are blaming, if you can believe it, the Democrats for engaging in a "high tech lynching" by "driving" Cain out of the race.

Are you fucking kidding me? We were praying that he'd stay in and become the eventual nominee. Obama would have had a field day totally demolishing that overgrown serial molester in head-to-head debates.

Now the best we have left if Newt Gingrich, who remains, as Paul Krugman called him, "a stupid man's idea of what a smart man should sound like"... I can't wait for him to debate Obama. Right after he explains away that huge payout he had to make in response to the negative findings against him for his ethical lapses while he was still Speaker of the House. Or was that Spanker of the House? We'll never know for sure, since there's no way he will get to be the nominee. As soon as the dust settles, we'll end up with Romney.

Oh, there will still be some easy jokes about him and many embarrassing gaffes on his part, but he just doesn't carry the kind low-hanging fruit that the others do. It'll be a little harder for us out here in Snarkland. Don't worry though, we'll soldier through anyway -- it's a calling to public service.

A Death in the Family



Posting has been light since before Xmas and here's one of the reasons why. Long time readers of this blog know that I used to have a regular feature called Friday Cat Blogging, back when the cats were younger and still willing to pose for cute photos. A couple of weeks before Xmas the oldest cat, Lucy (that's her on the left), came down with some illness that she found impossible to shake, even after numerous trips to the vet; she had also developled some rare kind of feline diabetes. Finally, on Xmas Day, she was vocally in obvious distress, her temperature was dropping almost exponentially and we decided that it was finally time that she Walk the Green Mile. So we took her to the emergency animal clinic and she was put peacefully to "sleep", lying in my arms and trying to purr.

"It was just a cat", people might say. Well, she might have been a cat, but she wasn't "just" a cat. We had her in our lives for 14 years, since she was an eight-week kitten, and she provided a joy and happiness to us that was way beyond being "just a cat". I had a special bond with her that I hadn't had with any of the other animals with whom I've shared my life over the last 66 years, and she is dearly missed.

And now we are dealing with Dottie (on the right), our sole remaining pet, now an only child, who has been poking around the house to try to find where Lucy is hiding.

She will -- and we will -- eventually get over the loss, but right now there is a hole in our hearts where Lucy used to be.