Friday, October 31, 2014

The Friday Link for 10/31/14

Happy Halloween everyone!

Of course I wanted to find a great Halloween themed clip, but comedy and Halloween is relatively weak.  A lot of bits are either a little too scary for the kiddos or just not that good.  There have been some laughs on TV with Halloween, but most of the time the punchline is someone's scared.  Wow, what a reach for a Halloween show.  Let's face it, has there been an original script for one of these Halloween shows in 40 years?

With limited options, I told myself, "if I am going to be stuck with people scared, let's go with the Muppets."  For your viewing pleasure, it's the Alice Cooper episode from the original series.  Alice Cooper was pretty gutsy to do this, but in the end, working with the Muppets was a very cool Halloween match.

I really do enjoy this clip.  Enjoy, and save a peanut butter cup for me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbLG7KvzmmY&list=PLwnOWN1VC-SLaslz0T0-DbviSwK5BdniH&index=4






Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Tilted Field

It's amazing Republicans don't control the majority of government.  You read right, I'm shocked by it, but it's not because their ideas resonant with more than the ultra wealthy and the willfully ignorant.  It's because they have tilted the election playing field so much in their favor, they should control everything.  The fact they control half of government, at best, is a testament of how unpopular they've become.  The only thing keeping them from turning into the Whigs is the tilted field.

Here is how the right has made a mockery of the election process:

  • They have gerrymandered many districts into safe zones for Republicans, splitting the Democratic vote across as many right leaning areas as possible, neutralizing their impact.  When they have a Democratic strong area too large to diffuse, they take as many Democratic voters as they can, usually from poorer and minority areas, and create one large Democratic district, limiting the poor and minority voice in our government.  This is why 2010 hurt the Dems so bad (the districts are set by the incoming majority on census years), and why 2020 should already be on everyone's radar.
  • They hide their candidates.  When was the last time you saw a political sign outside of the strongest of Republican strongholds say "proud Republican?"  They create political messaging which disguises their candidates affiliation, sometimes even masquerading them as Democrats.
  • Republicans go out of their way to avoid talking about their true positions on all issues.  They'll accuse a journalist of having an agenda for merely asking them to clarify their positions. 
  • Unless they are woefully behind, they never want to debate.  Debates force them to, vaguely, outline their positions and agenda, something the modern GOP'er is terrified of doing.  They don't want to put anything on the record which might come back to haunt them.
  • When they do have to debate, they insist on controlling the venue, the audience, the topics, the  questions, the media accessibility, and every tiny detail, creating a sheltered "public" forum, usually stocked with their supporters.
  • They create dog whistle ballot initiatives for major election years, initiatives which represent the worst of us as a society (anti gay, anti minority, anti voting rights, anti women's rights; usually wrapped in false patriotism and/or religion).  These initiatives successfully deliver the dregs of humanity, and their unbridled hatred, to the polls.  The right knows these dregs usually vote Republican.
  • They have a massive amount of control over the media in this country.  The right owns a large portion of the media, and what they don't own has been browbeaten into submission with their McCarthy-esque methods, ensuring a right friendly/left unfriendly message is relayed to the masses.
  • When they can't control the message, they either avoid talking about certain stories altogether, or create a new crisis (like ebola) to dominate the news cycle.
  • Through unchecked dark money flowing into elections, the GOP and their supporters outspend the competition on advertisement at obscene levels.  10 to 1, 15 to 1 and even 20 to 1.  That's $20 spent by Republicans and their backers for every $1 for the Democrats.
  • When a voter registration campaign, especially one geared to getting minority voters registered, has success, they will do everything to shut it down.
  • Voter registration drives run by Republicans have a tendency of mishandling registrations filled out by Democrats.  When voter registrations are delivered to Republican campaign officials, some districts seem to have consistent trouble getting them entered into the system.
  • Under the false flag of trying to stop criminals from voting, Republican voting officials purge hundreds of thousands of legal voters from the voting ranks by simply removing popular names, names usually common in the African American and Latino communities.
  • The right and their puppet masters spend millions every election cycle to discourage voting.  They know they will lose if Democrats turn out to vote, so they create false apathy to keep the voting public at home.
  • The right knows making voting easier by expanding voting hours hurts their end results.  They will always fight to limit voting hours.
  • The right inflated an extremely minor problem, voter fraud, and used their fear mongering to justify requiring voter ID's.  The GOP will insist state issued college ID's are not legal voter ID's, but NRA membership cards are, knowing who their are disenfranchising.  At worst, making people pay for an ID to vote is an outright poll tax.
  • Republicans love some tactics which are extremely low.  They put out misinformation about voting days, hours and polling places in an attempt to confuse the voters.  They also engage in threatening robo-calls to intimidate people from voting.
  • Polling stations in poorer communities are usually understaffed and under equipped, purposely, to make waiting times and voting lines long, knowing this too will discourage some.
  • They purposely draft confusing ballots and unclear instructions which are designed to create large numbers of disqualified ballots.
  • And let's not forget the shocking amount of ballots from poorer and minority voting areas which seem to disappear every election.

Running through this list, should make you angry, furious even, but it should also make you laugh.  Even with such a tilted playing field, the right barely can hold onto any power, and have to vote in unison, with zero dissent, maximizing arcane procedural rules and motions to have a say in government.  It is only a matter of time before even the current tilt isn't enough anymore.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Change is Good

One thing is glossed over in regards to the ebola story.  It's how the initial response in Texas and New Jersey is reminiscent to the old way we did healthcare in this country.  The way these problems were eventually taken care of is reminiscent of the changes made through the Affordable Care Act, changes made for the overall good of the country.

The problem with healthcare in the USA prior to President Obama wasn't quality.  It has always been the world's best health care.  The problem came down to accessibility, profit being the number one priority and not looking at health care as something for the betterment of all, instead, just focusing on the patients who could afford it.

In Texas, a general apathy to immigrant and poorer patients, established protocol geared towards getting people out of the hospital quickly, lack of training, lack of proper equipment and staff, and an overall mentality to do things the cheapest way possible when dealing with a "non-profitable' medical crisis led to two healthcare workers getting sick, in addition to the original patient.  They are very lucky it was only two.  Thanks to the federal government, and their non-profit protocols, a major crisis was averted.

In New Jersey, ignorance over science and proven effective protocol, in addition to a Governor who wanted to prove the ACA was bad and self promote, led to a nurse, who didn't have ebola, being harassed for hours, getting quarantined in a parking lot, in a tent, with no heat, shower or toilet.  It was only when she hired a civil rights lawyer did Governor Christie abandon his heavy handed, ignorant, unwarranted attempt at looking Presidential.  By creating a fear just so he could quell it, Christie ended up exposing New Jersey to something far more dangerous for it's citizens than ebola, a civil rights lawsuit which they would have never had a chance of winning.

In both cases, the federal government, under the leadership of the President, came in and cleaned up the mess.

What these two cases should remind us of is how lucky we are to have Obamacare, because I surely never want to go back to where we were prior to it being enacted.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Friday Link for 10/24/14

This one seems predestined.

Earlier this week I saw one of those "best of, most outrageous, wildest" lists.  I usually do not click on them, but when it was "funniest moments from classic sitcoms from the 70's and 80's," well, click away!

A lot of great moments were featured, including Soap, WKRP in Cincinnati, Cheers, Archie Bunker and The Jeffersons, but it was one scene I had forgotten completely about which had me laughing as hard as I did when I first saw it as a kid.

Taxi was a sitcom which launched numerous careers, including Christopher Lloyd who played the character Reverend Jim.  In this scene, he had to go take his drivers test, accompanied by Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, the late Jeff Conaway and the stunning then, stunning now Marilu Henner.  Missing from this scene are two other giants from the show, Andy Kaufman and Danny DeVito.  What ensues is a display of genius from Lloyd, who keeps ramping this scene up and up into comedy gold.  How any of them kept a straight face, I'll never know.

Here is why I said this was predestined.  My son, whose birthday was last weekend, is having his 'friend' party tonight.  Five 12/13 year old boys will eventually watch Back to the Future this evening.  When I mentioned Christopher Lloyd was in a funny show when I was a kid, he wanted to see this clip.  Not only was he laughing hysterically, he also asked "who's that" when he saw Marilu Henner.

Enjoy on your Friday night!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvn-tBeLpCk



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Screaming at Glaciers

So I turned 46 on Sunday.  Age is not like it used to be.  When I was growing up, 'over the hill' meant 40.  I still feel young, even as my point of view is taking a more aged slant, but on certain things, I don't mind be the more mature voice.  One thing lately has me asking whether I'm becoming a cranky old man or is my concern valid.  It has to do with social media videos of young kids dancing like a drop of water on a hot skillet.

Kids dancing to pop songs is nothing new, but it has been ratcheted up a notch since a young 11 year old dancer named Maddie Ziegler, a professional, was featured dancing in the music video for Sia's song Chandelier.  Ever since, many parents and fans of dance are trying to find the next big thing and have been recording young kids dancing to other current pop songs.  For some reason, the unedited version of Nicki Minaj's Anaconda, a raunchy, hip hop song with a catchy hook is the current song-du-jour.

I'm no prude, but I am a father of three kids.  I'm not one of those parents who rails against popular culture like a caveman screaming at a glacier.  My wife and I evaluate popular culture as it comes.  Minecraft, fine.  A smart phone, and with it unfettered access to the web, not until 16.  Social media pages, currently no, but we'll revisit that on a case by case basis soon.  Yoga pants.  I laugh at people who will wear a Vikings jersey and tell me yoga pants should only be for yoga.  We will teach our kids to respect themselves, and their bodies.  When they get older, we'll address clothing styles as they come up, but no yoga pants until at least 16.  That's the choices we've made for our kids, you can make those decisions for yours.

It'd be easy to fall back to the last sentence, in regards to these young kid's dance videos.  "Matt, you don't like these videos, then don't watch them and don't put your kids in one."  I have stopped watching them, and I won't allow my kids to be part of one, but these videos cross the line from encouraging a kids passion, heading full steam into creating a bad environment for the kids, allowing the kids to be taken advantage of, and the over sexualization of your girls under the guise of viral video celebrity.

Let's start with the complexity of the dance routines themselves.  This isn't some kids getting together after school and learning a few dance steps.  This is hours of training, day after day, to get this level of precision.  The Minaj song came out in August, and even factoring in a dance students previous knowledge of certain moves, these kids must have put in a tremendous amount of time over the last few months.  It's not healthy for a young child, as they're not ready to engage in a serious, adult level of exercise.  Frankly, these kids don't look healthy for their age.  They look disturbingly thin.

How about the music?  I have seen other songs featured, but Anaconda is the most common for these videos.  What parent of a 10 or 11 year old thinks this song, unedited, is appropriate for their young kids?  It was at this point I was going to quote some of the lyrics from the song, but there is no way I can clean them up for this blog.  Search engine at your own risk!  I like the song, but I'm an adult.  We are careful with what our kids watch and listen too, but no one can convince me a responsible parent would allow their child to have the unedited version of that song on their playlist, let alone be coordinating a dance routine to it.

Not all of the dance moves in the videos are sexually suggestive, but quite a few are.  If I was to ever walk into a dance studio and see those moves getting taught to my 11 year old daughter, the instructor would be getting arrested.  I'm not joking.  You want to teach people 18 and older to dance that way, fine, but teaching young girls a routine more appropriate for a stripper is disgusting.

I mentioned exploitation earlier.  These dance videos seemed to be getting commissioned by dance studios or clubs, as banners and logos adorn the clothes of the kids and the walls behind them.  Why would you allow a dance instructor to have hours of access to your young child, work them like Vegas show girls, teach them a dance routine out of a Cinemax movie, to a song which would cause most adults to blush, and slap logos all over them like their NASCAR drivers, just so the dance studio can exploit your child in a viral video for their own self promotion?  Is the kid getting paid?  It's easy to fall back to, "the kid loves to dance," excuse, but kids love ice cream too.  We don't allow them to eat Rocky Road for dinner.  We're supposed to be the adults, and the parents of these kids should see what's really going on here.

It's at this point some people will be furious with me.  "You don't get it Matt.  You don't see the artistic nature of the dance, the ability, the sweat.  These kids are good!"  Rebuttal; You really don't get it.   Is it creepy or cool for a grown adult man to watch a dance video of an 11 year old, who is not family or a friend's kid, gyrate like they're a pole dancer?  It's wrong!  Unless their is a reason you're attached to a specific child in the video, it's wrong to post video of a junior high volleyball practice, a young boys swim meet, and regardless of the amount of bad choices and decisions being made by the parents, instructors, clubs and grown adults who think it's cool, it's wrong to pass along a video of a young girl's dance routine featuring inappropriate sexuality.  These videos are not something to be idolized.

The over sexualization of young children in a pathetic attempt for viral celebrity is wrong.  If that makes me a cranky old man, so be it.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Friday Link for 10/17/14

Performance, as an art form, can be quite lovely, but there is one type which we often don't label as art, comedy.  When was the last time you saw something funny and then marveled at the artistic nature of it?

My sister-in-law has been visiting from Rhode Island this week.  She was a theater teacher for many years and was telling me most actors have the hardest time with comedy.  She says it's the timing.  Makes a lot of sense.  Most actors might not have experienced the exact tragedy of the character they are portraying, but can draw on their own tragedy to help convey the emotions.  Doesn't work the same way for comedy.

If you go to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, on the 2nd floor, tucked in the back, is an exhibit on Nature Art.  In one of the video areas they're showing what at first looks like a nature video about a certain animal, but actually is a comedy bit, which is very artistic on many different levels.  The artist is Ze Frank and he has a whole video channel dedicated to these videos.  They are a riot, at times a little adult, but very well done.

I also think the guys voice and delivery are near perfect.

The first video of his I watched was the one I'm linking to tonight, True Facts About the Owl.  Enjoy, it's your Friday link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeFxdkaFzRA

Follow him on You Tube and check out all of his work.  Very Solid!


Staying true to Yourself

I am very disappointed in more than a few Democrats this election cycle.  I'll explain more in a sec, but first...

Worthless Republicans, who have been plotting to stymy President Obama since the night he was sworn into office, politicians only concerned with their own power and agenda, willing to really hurt many Americans to make sure their goals are achieved, will likely win enough seats in November to ensure the final two years of his presidency are mired in absolute gridlock.  They said they wanted to create a political mess in Washington DC, just to prevent Obama from getting any accolades, and they have succeeded, making a feast of incompetence, stonewalling and partisan bickering on levels rarely seen in America.

This is the Republican Party's official stance, on Thursday afternoon, on two subsequent news stories:

1) We can't hold Bush accountable for torture, something the Bush administration approved, and bragged about.

2)  Obama is personally bringing ebola to America.

Sweet Jesus.  Not only should no one ever vote for a Republican, but frankly some of them should go to jail for the lies and pain they have caused the vast majority of Americans.

In November of 2014, they will win enough to ensure nothing gets done.  They will either be one or two seats shy of a majority, but still effectively control the entire narrative of the Senate, or they will actually have a majority, and, due to milquetoast Democrats who won't give the right a small taste of the same treatment they have given the left for the last 8 years (one of the reasons I am disappointed), the GOP will spend the next year trying to make sure the Obama Presidency never happened.  They will put the most hate filled, vile, racist, sexist, homophobic bills out there and create a carnival of photo ops (birth certificate, Benghazi, and ebola hearings) to feed the far right rhetoric hate machine more fuel for the puppet masters and zealots who push the buttons and ring the bells, while the idiots who vote for them wait at the bottom of the chute for the anti-Obama kibble to come down to them.

For the second year, 2016, they'll be frantically hitting the erase buttons on their computers and using the white out on their papers to try to remove the racist stink all over their legislative legacy for the first non-white president.  They will try to say "what an honor" and "I was privileged" when they never were.  Their legacy for eternity is sealed, a political party so betrothed to the money which controls their every decision, and the racists who make up a shocking number of their loyal followers, they've become something their relatives will distance themselves from for generations to come.

The only redeeming factor to them having a one seat majority in the Senate is it won't allow anyone to vote against the legislation spoon fed to them by their big money, Machiavellian leaders.  They will be thrown out of office in force in 2016.

The House is a loss.  They gerrymandered it into a safe zone for the Republicans, at least until 2018, when I think even their most strident followers will start to pull the curtain aside.

Here is why I am angry at the Democrats.  2006 taught us if you are proud to be a Democrat you win, even in right leaning districts and states.  Since those impressive wins, the left has slowly been giving the power back to the Republicans by shying away from, no, running away from, being Democrats.  Where are all of the big Senate losses going to come this election cycle?  In states where the Democratic candidates are distancing themselves from the President and the Democratic agenda.  They did so because they bought the lies the right was selling; You can't win being a proud Democrat.  Shame on you for believing their narrative.

When Democrats proudly stand up and wave their banners, they win.  Don't ever be afraid of being a person who thinks everyone should get a fair chance, everyone deserves the same opportunities, and everyone, not just the ultra-wealthy, deserves the same rights; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hockey Fight

The attendance for an NHL hockey game in Miami, with the Florida Panthers, was 7,311.  This wasn't a game played in late March when the team is woefully out of contention.  This was their 2nd home game of the season.

The NHL needs to realize their dabbling in southern franchises is, outside of two teams, a failure.  The two teams which have succeeded are the LA Kings (an older franchise with a loyal fan base in the country's 2nd largest city) and Tampa Bay (an anomaly).  Teams in Florida, Carolina, Dallas, Phoenix and even teams in Anaheim and San Jose should be moved to a town where there is at least an understanding of the sport.  The Mason Dixon line is your cutoff.

The Canadian dollar isn't as weak as it used to be, so some of these franchises could move there, but hockey is a sport where any cold weather city, even one with a relatively small metro area, would outdraw multi-million populations where ice is something used for drinks and watching the game is more akin to watching Cirque du Soleil.

Where would I move teams?  There are three obvious choices:  Seattle, Kansas City and Quebec.  Seattle is a great town, with big businesses to help maintain the franchise, Kansas City has an NHL ready ice arena in town just waiting for a franchise and Quebec is as hockey crazy as ever.  The Nordiques franchise was doomed by the bad exchange rate of the time, not the loyalty of the fans.  If you then moved San Jose to San Francisco ( I am not saying this is a great option as they have had franchises fail in that town too, but it's better than San Jose), that would leave two more teams to move to a cold weather metro.

Let me float a really radical idea.  Go with Anchorage, Alaska and Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I know some people would say I'm crazy, but hear me out.  Both Anchorage and Halifax are extremely smart hockey towns where the locals know the sport.  These would be the only pro teams in each city, creating instant fan loyalty, they both have thriving local industry (in Halifax - natural gas, fisheries and agriculture.  Anchorage - drill baby drill!), and putting the franchises in those two towns would strengthen the league over time, as opposed to embarrassing headlines about empty arenas when fan interest is supposed to be at its highest.

I would agree the time zone issue would be difficult, but manageable.  Alaska weeknight home games verses the Mountain and Central time zones could not start later than 6 PM, and weeknight home games verses the Eastern and Atlantic time zones start no later than 5 PM.  Nova Scotia weeknight home games must start 8 PM or later and the Pacific and Alaskan time zone teams could be managed into the weekends (6PM Halifax start time on a Saturday verses 1 PM start time in Alaska).

I am not saying definitively this plan would work, but it's better than your current situation.  It's either move these teams or fold five or six of them.  It's hard to make a league sound successful when a fifth of their franchises could disappear overnight.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Friday Link for 10/10/14

I will be blunt, I love Jon Stewart.

I dread the day he will retire.  He has been sensational, correcting the unfiltered morons in this country, mainly the ones who work for and visit Fox News, with a stinging, straight forward tone.  The writing for his show has been the best.  He is able to unravel the thick, bloviated bull shoveled at the American people in one or two simple but brilliant sentences.  He is hands down the funniest late night show in this country.  That's not saying there isn't late night competition.  Colbert, Letterman, Fallon, O'Brien, Kimmel, and Ferguson are all brilliant and at times the best on any given night, but no one is as consistent as Stewart and the Daily Show.  (Okay, Colbert is close.)

Speaking of Colbert, The Daily Show has been the tilled soil which has grown the funniest people from the last 10 plus years.  The list of alumni is impressive.  It's the one show I watch everyday, after I get done with the morning show.  I can't stay up to watch it live, and it is hit or miss on whether the show is ready for viewing before I go into the station.

If you just write off Jon Stewart as just some liberal mouth piece, you really are an idiot.  He points out other people's (mostly conservatives) arrogant mistakes and makes light of them.  If you want him to leave the right alone, then ask for a better quality of conservative pundent/reporter/host.

Let me give you two tonight, and yes the language is a little salty.  One is from the night he returned from vacation, addressed the Ferguson nightmare, and the other is from when Megyn Kelly was an amazing idiot, insisting no one on Fox News ever used Nazi References.  Enjoy, they are your Friday links.

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/ufqeuz/race-off

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/euiark/24-hour-nazi-party-people




Thursday, October 9, 2014

Door Knocking

I want to share with you the Republican who is running to represent my district in the Minnesota House.  I've blotted out his contact info because I just don't want to show it.


Let's just start from the top and work our way down, shall we:

1)  There is a lot going on in that photo.  The hair, reflective glasses, stache, tie, flag, cigar, "leaning back on the hood of the car" look all says used car salesman from central casting.  There is also a "I can't believe I just won my court case" thing to it.  That photo screams...well it just screams.

2) I know the Scandinavian thing flies to a point in Minnesota, but the "รถ?"  How do I pronounce it?

3) Nothing projects I want to be your duly elected representative more than the phrase "I am not a professional politician!"  "I am not a plumber but I want you to allow me to come into your house and tinker with the pipes."  Uhhh...no.

4)  The e-mail handle for the Republican candidate for MN House Seat 46B is "Senator Hat Rack."

5)  I don't know if Ben Franklin would want you, or anyone it today's politics, quoting him on their campaign literature, but that aside, are you saying you want to be elected just so everyone can question you constantly?  Pretty weak to try to validate your own candidacy by wrapping yourself in a founding father, like they endorsed you.

But wait, there's more!


Alright...

6)  WOW!  Let's start with the concept of centering the subject of the photo in the middle, not wanting to be off to the side or leaving a lot above the top of the head.  That is the expression of a man who just hypnotized himself, found out he has a serious illness, found out he is a magician, or maybe lunch just isn't agreeing with him.  I love the look of the photo, like you snapped it in a random aisle at the public library.  And nice jacket.  Is that from the Colonel Sanders collection?

7)  Why are you in front of the books?  Are you trying to prove you can read? You're smart? Are you hoping to relate to people who recognize the books behind you?  Are you trying to imply endorsement from the authors or the subjects?  Like using the Franklin quote, weak.

8) I get it, you think government is bad, but even if by a miracle of the ages you managed to get elected, how do you think you are going to convince the rest of the Minnesota government to shut itself down for the betterment of the state?  Armed insurrection on the floor of the House?  We do not live in a 30 person town or in some Libertarian experiment.  We live in a state of five and a half million and in a city of three and a half million.  You thinking you can turn off the government by flipping a switch is ignorant.

9)  "Because I am not a professional politician."  No, REALLY???

10)  You don't look to state government for solutions?  When the 35W bridge collapsed the government shouldn't have rebuilt it?  The state shouldn't try to help the farmer, or help keep our waters clean?  Are you insisting government doesn't serve a purpose in your life?  Look at your photo on the other side of your own flyer.  The street lights, vehicle you're leaning on, infrastructure for the office building behind you, the cigar in your own hand, all aided, and kept safe and working, thanks to the government.  And you're wearing a US flag tie.  How can you show support for the country your delusional political mindset would annihilate?  It's like saying, "I love Star Wars, especially when Marty takes the time machine back to 1955."

11) Stop with the give a man a fish/teach a man to fish parables.  Our current system is so corrupted by greed, the regular guy would have zero chance without some level of fairness being preserved by government.  If not for these basic rights, the middle, lower and working class would get steamrolled by the wealthy and powerful.  One of the main tenants of a government is to protect all citizens and help give the most vulnerable some level of fair representation.  They barely accomplish that as is, but it would be an Ayn Rand free-for-all without the basic security net the government reserves for all of it's citizens 

This is what happens when a political party just writes off districts.  They make themselves look worse by hooking their wagons to unqualified, rhetoric spewing simpletons.  The Republicans couldn't find anyone else to run in 46B?  

He asked me if I wanted a street sign.  I said no.

Weasels

This week, we had good news about gay marriage in America, and soon, gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states.  The minute one state made gay marriage legal, the Federal Government was bound by that state's decision, mainly for tax purposes.  Many states don't need the feds to come tell them what is right or wrong.  These Supreme Court rulings are more for the ignorant and stubborn ones.  History is full of these quirks; a small decision besets change on a grand scale.  What was the federal government to do when someone moved from a state which recognized gay marriage and needed to file tax returns in their new state which didn't?  It's a shame the Supreme Court has decided to do the 50 step method of enlightenment, as opposed to issue one ruling.  It makes me wonder if judges on the court are doing that to allow conservatives to either try to find a legal foothold which allows them to revisit the issue, or get used to the inevitability of gay marriage being legal without a feeling of jack booted thugs kicking open doors to make them tolerant.

But lest us not forget...

In the 90's, the right was in trouble.  They had lost the blue collar and union workers who, mysteriously, liked Reagan, and the failure of H.W. Bush to win re-election against the Democrats was hard.  What is lost today is how quickly things turned on the Republicans.  There was a SNL skit (I think it was the 91-92 season) where the joke was how no one wanted to be the Democratic nominee for President for the 92 election, and I don't believe Clinton was even a character in the "debate."  The Republican Shangri-La came crashing down.  I have a theory; all the money and support which was helping H.W. Bush maintain his popularity was diverted into resurrecting the image of Reagan, which had suffered in the years since he left office.  The right thought H.W. Bush didn't need their help, as he was the president when the Berlin Wall came down.  Then came Clinton, and history.

It was in the years after that election, while the people behind Reagan and H.W. Bush licked their wounds, watching Bob Dole get trounced in 96, they came up with a plan.  It involved a multi faceted strategy. First, embrace the extreme far right:  extreme Christians, gun nuts, militias and racists who'd supported the Republicans by proxy but had always been kept at arms length.  By welcoming in those groups, they replenished some of their foot soldiers.

The second phase was more complicated, but necessary.  The GOP's platform was becoming unpopular with a majority of Americans, but they still wanted to vanquish the unions, undo workers rights, kill beloved social programs, go after certain countries and international organizations, and create a corporate and ultra wealthy tax haven.  To do so, they had to get past the United States election system.  They started to take over states, not just Governor and Legislative offices, but the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and state Auditor positions, positions which help mold elections.  If they could mutilate elections in a few toss up states, and disenfranchise a lot of voters who traditionally vote Democrat, they would be able to hold enough power to reach their goals.  It ended up working like a charm.  Purging voter roles, limiting voting hours, creating hoops to jump through and gerrymandering took care of the voting process, and loosening the money rules, voter intimidation, creating voter disinterest and other unethical practices tilted the voter turnout in their favor, and Republicans rode back into the White House.  After 9/11, they played America's emotions, and fine tuned their modus operendi to gain full control of the Federal government, and the majority of state governments.

Since Republicans will never make abortion completely illegal (A - they didn't want to lose a loyal voting block, or their donations, B - they didn't want the religious people reading the rest of the bible, a majority of which supports liberal policies, and C - abortion will always be legal for the wealthy in the US.  They might describe the procedure with a different name, but it would still be an abortion, done in a high income neighborhood, designer clinic for people with platinum credit cards), the GOP needed another issue to get the Christian right and the "ugly" right (racists, anti-semites, homophobes) to the polls.  This is where the Rovian politics got truly evil.  They threw the gay community under the bus.

Republicans started pushing for anti gay marriage ballot initiatives in major election years.  They insisted they needed to defend traditional marriage by writing hatred and discrimination into state constitutions, a myth their followers could wrap themselves in.  They targeted swing states and important senate districts, and succeeded.  They wouldn't tout these ballot initiatives during the odd year elections, just the big ones to help Bush and the Conservative majority, which it did.  Eventually, the right couldn't convince people to vote for them any longer, regardless of ballot initiatives, they lost the House and Senate in 06 and the White House in 08, but the ballot initiatives continued.

They put anti-gay marriage laws and amendments in place knowing they would eventually be overturned, knowing they were on the wrong side of history.  They knew it would cost states millions of dollars in legal fees to fail defending them.  They knew they were bastardizing a religion, Christianity, and turning it from a loving, cherishing institution into a politicized mantra, bent on hatred and bigotry, wrapped in a laughable religious freedom argument.  The politicians who made it all happen, the neo-cons and Karl Rove are now long gone.  Their mission was accomplished.  They got their guy another four years, and when they realized they couldn't repeal the social policies of this country, they tried to bankrupt the system, creating a mess they hope will facilitate throwing the entire system out.

In Minnesota, if they'd had put the anti gay marriage amendment on the ballot in 2011, they probably would have won, but the Republicans wanted nothing to do with that year's election.  They got big eyes waiting for 2012, but they also got their trousers handed to them, when, for the first time, a state voted them down.

The politicians, outside of the most weak minded of opportunists, have started move away from the hatred they fanned the flames of, and are trying desperately to white wash their records.  The only ones left are the feeble minded Christian zealots and right wing ideologues who bought into the false flag excuses used to enact these laws, insisting their repeal are the result of a decaying America or a war on religion.

We need to remember how truly evil the right was under the Bush umbrella.  They took religion, rewrote it and edited it for their political purposes, and then used it as a weapon to openly discriminate against millions of Americans, preaching hate and second class citizenry.  Karl Rove, the neo-cons and the Republican party decided to trample on the rights of millions of Americas for political gain.  I will do everything in my power to make sure there legacy is always remembered.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Friday Link for 10/3/14



First off, thank you so much to all who visited the site this week.  I had well over 200 visitors!

I mentioned Monty Python a few weeks back, referring to them as the as the gold standard of comedy.  They were the most consistent group, never wavering from sheer outlandish brilliance.  In my opinion, The Kids in the Hall are about the closest anyone has gotten to them.  So witty, well written and extremely well acted.  I knew these guys were brilliant when I first saw this sketch.

Enjoy something funny from Canada on a cool Friday night in the Twin Cities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojKWw77Az2s






Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Giving Train Wrecks a Bad Name

I have told the story before of why I vote Democrat.  Back in 1992, I remember walking to the Lake Calhoun Business Center in Minneapolis to vote, not really knowing who I would vote for, Clinton, Bush or Perot.  I really started to separate from moderate Republicans more than a decade ago.  When Bush, Cheney and the administration of neo-cons decided to pull the troops out of Afghanistan to start a new, "made up" war in Iraq, I was furious.  Not only did they not finish the job mandated by the 9/11 attacks, you do not put troops in harms way just so you can line your pockets with tax payer dollars, in a conflict solely being fought for a personal agenda.  Thousands of dead American service members and tens of thousands of permanently wounded soldiers later, I determined I could never vote another Republican into the White House if their standard was to lie to the American people on such a large and devastating scale.

A few years later I vowed to never vote Republican again, even for lesser offices, when, after being confronted with overwhelming evidence the White House just made up the justifications for the Iraq War, the right ignored the truth.  They accused anyone who pushed for an investigation as being driven by "sour grapes" or the "blame game."  The thought of Republicans screaming "sour grapes" at families standing over the coffins of dead American soldiers sickens me still today.

But now, I'm confronted with a undeniable reality.  The majority of people who vote for GOP candidates seem to be politically broken to their core, by choice.  People who identify themselves as Republican not only choose to ignore the outright favoritism GOP policy gives to the extremely wealthy and large corporations and ignore any Democratic policies which help them and their community every day, but they've become comical in how far they will go to overlook Republican politician's personal defects.  Having such a belligerent group of followers makes Republicans smile, knowing they will never have to answer for their warped decisions, atrocious behavior or lack of action.

How bad is it?  A Republican candidate for a Minnesota House seat, Roger Weber, sawed his neighbors garage in half.  Re-read that...I am not making this up.  Here is the link:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/09/22/1331517/-MNGOP-House-candidate-power-saws-neighbor-s-garage-in-half

The MNGOP Paul Bunyan did this because of a property dispute with the previous owner of the house.  Most rational people would feel as if someone who cuts someone else's private residence in two, committing crimes of vandalism and destruction of private property, might want to sit the election out, let alone question Weber's clear lack of conflict resolution skills.

The response from the right was shocking, but then again, shockingly predictable.  The conservative voters I heard from implied it was admirable (you have to respect his initiative[!]), somehow comparable (yeah, but at least he didn't suggest a train between Minneapolis and Chicago[?]), or just made up a heinous lie about a Democrat to justify not caring about it (who cares while Mark Dayton is doing drugs in the Governor's mansion [?!?]).  I have a hard time imagining they would feel the same way if it was their garage.  Many who vote Republican, to prevent from ever being wrong, choose to live in a self induced, ignorant stupor, creating the most bizarre excuses to never have to acknowledge their chosen leader's faults.

Want more proof the Republican voter is broken?  Look at the Minnesota GOP ticket and you realize Johnny Lumberjack is just part of a larger problem.  McFadden (Sen - incompetence, lack of media savvy, anti Minnesota business positions, Romney-esque), Johnson (Gov - lack of focus, campaign disarray, incoherent), Hagedorn (MN-01 - misogynistic, racist and homophobic comments), Kline (MN-02 - the chair of the House Education Committee, on his knees for the for-profit higher education industry, ruining many Americans future and credit ratings), Paulson (MN-03 - does he really even exist?), whomever the GOP is running in MN-04 and MN-05 (???), Emmer (MN-06 - anti worker, anti gay rights), Westrom (MN-07 conflict of interest and proposed legislative profiteering), Stewart Mills III (MN-08 - unabashed pro ultra-wealthy, spokespeople with questionable judgement and a Romeny-esque speech that outdoes Romney.  Seriously, watch it: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2014/08/hubbard_broadcastings_decision_to_pull_anti-stewart_mills_attack_ad_sparks_controversy.php ), Severson (Sec. of State - Religious zealot, thinks public schools program socialism), my personal favorite Randy Gilbert (Auditor - SEX!  http://kstp.com/news/stories/S3560986.shtml?cat=1 and his name is Randy!), Michele MacDonald (Supreme Ct. - just finished up with her personal trial where she was found guilty on two counts), and the list goes on and on.

But none of this documented debacle matters to the modern Republican voter.  They will blindly vote for these people and never ask what the right has ever done for them, cursing all Democrats regardless of how much the left's policies have helped them directly.  Remember when the right wanted to get rid of Social Security?  How many Republicans initially loved the idea, but as they realized what the GOP was going to do, the voting right woke up and started to ask, "you're going to do what?"  That idea disappeared overnight from the GOP platform.

Republican voters, pay attention.  Hold the people you vote into office accountable!  Ask if the people you are going to vote for are worthy of the office.  As long as they never have to answer for their political decisions, or their personal conduct, they will continue to take you for granted and never deliver on anything.  Don't feel like you succeeded because the Democrat didn't win.  If you realize the Democrats are responsible for the majority of government you want to keep, and the Republicans are responsible for the majority of government you want to get rid of, you can at least begin to see if your representation is delivering for you.

I'm not holding my breath.  I'm sure there will be another school lunch, salute, pair of jeans, color of a suit, photo, handshake, or other made up Obama outrage for you to cower in the shade of to avoid the bright rays of Republican incompetence.