Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dog Days

I know the blog has been light, but it's my usual late summer slowdown.  I try to spend as much time with the kids as I can, before they head back to school.

Here's my trade off.  You forgive my lack of late summer posts, I'll strongly consider bringing back Trump Week when the kids are back in school.  Cool?

Here are some great photos of the late summer fun.  State Fair and making pickles this weekend, so look for those photos next week.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Friday Link for 8/25/17

I need to make this quick as I'm heading out.

Arrested Development is just such a brilliant series.  I just finished re-watching the 4th season on Netflix, a show which gave each character their own revolving episode.  The Tobias, Maeby, Gob, and Buster episodes were gut wrenchingly funny, but every episode had at least three or four moments where you were laughing out loud.

Since Netflix won't let you publish episodes, let me give you two cuts I can share.  The first is when the cast reunited for the New Yorker Festival Interview, when they announced they would be doing another season (4).  This gives you a great look into how an incredibly talented cast with great writing can make television gold.  I love how blunt they all are when asked anything.  The Jason Bateman/Will Arnett back and forth is so much fun.

I will also post this behind the scenes bit they did for Netflix.  It's been five years since they filmed season four.


I love Liza and the rest of the guest stars too.  How many of them will return for season 5, which is currently shooting?  As long as they keep the "hello darkness my old friend" bit going, I'm good!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Eventualees

Let me introduce you to a brand new member of the Republican Party, the "Eventualees!"

The Eventuates can find their origins in the 'Both Siders," a common element within the Republican party.  Both Siders are predictable.  Say a Republican does something truly horrible, like Sarah Palin starting a drunken street brawl in the streets of Alaska.  They know they can't defend her actions, but unable to outright condemn her easily condemnable behavior, they adopt a deflection; "both sides are equally bad!"

I don't ever remember Bernie Sanders or Al Franken leading a drunken street brawl in their perspective states, so NO, they're not equally bad.  Both Siders will then panic, throwing out any Democratic smear they can, usually excessively minor, truthful or not, to insist both sides are equal.  It's like comparing a 6 year old who shoplifts a pack of gum with a axe murderer who's killed 100.  Sure they're both criminals, but we all can agree one is much worse than the other.  If you eventually get the Both Sider ultimately cornered, unable to deflect any more, they go ballistic, bellowing "FINE!  When every Democrat and their family apologize for Pizza gate and Benghazi and electing Obama, in triplicate, then, AND ONLY THEN, will I think of condemning Palin's drunken Alaskan street brawl!"

The Eventualees have been born in the wake of the Charlottesville Racist uprising, where white supremacists, the KKK, the Nazis, the alt right and numerous other far right hate groups came together, organized a unification rally under a weak Confederate Pride banner, screamed about the Jews and the N-words, attacked people with tiki torches, assaulted minorities, beat up members of the clergy, and then preformed a terrorist strike on peaceful protesters, running a car into them, killing one and injuring scores.  Wow, that's really horrible, something everyone should EASILY be able to condemn.

But yet a SHOCKING amount of Republicans can't do it.  You see, these far right loon-balls are now a recognized part of the Republican Party, thanks to GOP leadership slowly welcoming the racist fringe into the fold as loyal campaign foot soldiers.  With the Republican primary system completely controlled by the racist right, politicians are terrified of going on record to condemn the actions of people who many of their voters either support or somewhat agree with.  Having willingly cheered these crazies on as they roughed up left leaning protesters during the 2016 campaign, non-racist moderate Republicans are hesitant to abandon the 'date' they came to the dance with.

For the record, a small percentage of Republicans have done the right thing, and without caveats or hesitation, condemned the racist right.  Good for them.

Republicans who've been silent are now being cornered on their feelings about Charlottesville.  They start with a usual Both Siders defense, talking about how "the far more violent militant left was the real villain at Charlottesville, with the Nazis/KKK/racists really being misunderstood rapscallions."  When stunned faced people ask something to the effect of "Wait a second.  Are you saying there were good Nazis/KKK/racists at Charlottesville, that you're not outright condemning the white supremacists who killed a woman?", the Republican is forced to the inevitable.  They held off as long as they could, but EVENTUALLY, they had to state, "sure racists are bad...I guess, and I sure don't approve of what they did, but let me get back to how left leaning protesters, the media and President Obama are the REAL cause of the racial unrest!"

The next step for The Eventualees is to act like their milquetoast condemnation was a stringent denouncement from the very beginning.  "HOW DARE YOU!  I eventually got around to saying Nazis are bad, so that's good enough!"

Republicans, this is not rocket science:

White Supremacists, Nazis, the KKK, the alt-right and all their associated groups are truly horrible people.  What they did in Charlottesville is inexcusable.  They have freedom of speech and freedom to protest, but they do not have the right to violently attack others and should be prosecuted.  Violence, from any organization or individual, is wrong, but let be crystal clear: white supremacist/racist values ARE NOT American values, and I CONDEMN THEM, unequivocally.

Republican reluctance to address this issue, and their ham handed hemming and hawing as they try to find the right 'tone' which won't upset their base, should tell you exactly who is voting Republican today.  It's scary what the GOP seems to be willing to sacrifice to make sure racists from the extreme far right stay in the fold.

Then again, they might just be racists themselves, agreeing with the hate groups.  Their silence and reluctance makes questioning their motivations VERY legitimate.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Friday Link for 8/18/17

The Friday link for this week goes to an up and coming comedian who is going to be huge, Jim Jeffries.

Jim Jeffries is a raunchy Australian who's unique demeanor hooks you instantly.  He had a quest segment on Not Safe with Nikki Glaser, and after five minutes my question was why the heck is he the guest.  Comedy Central must've thought the same as they've given him his own show, the aptly named The Jim Jeffries Show.

He's had two exceptional segments this week dealing with racism.   His description of the real makeup of the White Nationalist was spot on.  They've found acceptance on the internet and think they're powerful.  Sometimes people who are not from the country have the best analysis of what's actually going on in the country (Trevor Noah).  He also dismantles Trump quite effectively.

He does point out Right Wing Extremists are FAR more likely to attack you today in America than Muslim terrorists.

***Warning BAD LANGUAGE***, but that's who Jim Jefferies is, so...

He also does faux news segments similar to The Daily Show.  Here's a beauty about Confederate statues.  His solution for Stone Mountain Georgia is long overdue, courtesy of the Minnesota First at Gettysburg!

And I'll throw in John Oliver's quality segment on Charlottesville too:

Have a great weekend everyone! Be safe!  Fight the racists!

Germans and Pride

When I was stationed in Germany, there was no positive memories of World War II emanating from the locals.  Some bombed out buildings in Nuremberg still stood, like in many towns, silent reminders of the tragedy which their own country was responsible for.  Germans don't long for the days of Hitler and the Third Reich.  They're embarrassed and ashamed of their parent's/grandparent's poor choices.  In many cases, they're the strongest critics of themselves, preventing anyone from thinking they look upon what happened in any positive light.

One of the reasons for this somber mentality was what happened after the concentration camps were liberated.  In many cases, the allies would round up every German from miles around the camp and march them past the piles of the dead and the emaciated living.  They wanted no deniers.  They wanted no excuses.  They wanted these people to have what happened scorched into their memories forever.  This stopped any distorted narratives from being conceived.  Before any false history was allowed to germinate, the ally forces nipped it in the bud.  The shame of what happened is now part of the German DNA.

There are a few people in Germany who still worship Hitler.  In the old West Germany, they kept hidden, undeniably shunned if their true feelings were ever made public.  When the wall came down, West German officials were surprised to see a much larger, more vocal pro-Nazi element in the former East Germany.  It seems, when the Germans were presented with the East German hyper paranoid version of Communism, some yearned for the old system.  With 1 out of every 3 spying on the other 2 in East Germany, and with the Stasi rounding people up left and right, some longed for the days of yore.  The unified Germany has worked hard to quell the Nazi sympathizers, but there are still a few left.

Because of this unique experience, the Germans can help us learn from the mistakes we made in regards to the post-Civil War era South, and they can help us understand one of the foundations for our current political situation.

In my opinion, some major mistakes were made by the North in regards to dealing with the post Confederacy South.  The election of 1876, where the South shifted their electoral college votes to Rutherford B. Hayes, in return for the removal of northern troops from the South, not only set a precedent for withdraw, it set the stage for the South to stop vilifying their racist and discriminatory past. If they flexed their political muscle, they could stop northern demands.  Soon afterwards, Jim Crow laws started an official discrimination strategy, while controlling the African American population through racist vigilante organizations, like the KKK, became the 'unofficial' doctrine.

The US Federal Government should've NEVER tolerated the display of Rebel statues in town squares.  This allowed an 'honoring' of leaders from the anti-American, pro-slavery Confederacy, with undeniable intimidation of the African American population as a purposeful ulterior motive; a constant specter hanging over the black population's heads of the men who wanted them enslaved.  With both major political parties choosing political gains over the well being of southern minorities, they jettisoned the legacy and dignity of the Union soldiers who died fighting the southern scourge, and the South was able to reinvent the war, not as one whose primary goal was the continued enslaving of African Americans, but one disguised behind 'pride' and 'traditions.'  The South re-labeled traitors to the United States as American heroes.

When you look at the issues the Germans had with Nazi's after the East German border opened up, it became apparent individuals who feel their system of government is broken will choose to believe in a worse option, out of hope it might be better.  Think about this when you look at how the Republicans have disparaged our government since the 1980's.  The GOP has done everything in their power to convince their voters the US Government is broken to the core, needing to be scrapped.  What they really were trying to do was make their voters always hate Democrats, while unwaveringly worshipping the Republicans.  Unfortunately, they ladled it on too thick.  Republican voters have been convinced all government is bad, even opting for an unqualified, narcissistic, incompetent buffoon as their President, gleefully embraced to fix their made up or grossly exaggerated problems.  Clinton was the undeniable better choice, but because Republicans convinced their voters 1) she was some sort of demon, and 2) life under President Obama was far worse than it really was, an idiot like Trump seemed like a better option.

This is why the Democrats need to stop being so nice to the modern Republicans; so we can avoid another relabeling of history, like what happened in the post Confederacy South.  For God's sake, stop worrying about Righto's feelings.  For lack of a better way to say it, we need to rub their faces in the Trump mess they've made.  We need to burn into their memories the insanity of putting him in the White House.  We need to begin to rebuild faith in the Government, which (prior to January of 2017) was relatively reliable and cost effective, regardless of what the naysayers scream.

Let's start here.  Every Republican needs to be forced to answer the following question:  How in the hell was this not the end of him?

Russia, his Nazi worship, his incompetency, his sexual deviances, his financial shenanigans and all the rest of it can be brought up afterwards, but this indefensible moment was before the election, meaning all Republican voters, INCLUDING THE CHRISTIAN ONES, had to overlook this unforgivable act to validate their vote for him. We have to force them to acknowledge they made a indefensible, massive mistake in November of 2016! This is where you start.

Then ask them why the hell they sat by quietly while the President talked positively about Nazis, something not even the Germans do.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sleeping with the Racists

What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia beginning Friday night and ending with a domestic terrorist action Saturday afternoon was hard to watch, but not unexpected.  These people have gone by numerous names over the years (Confederates, KKK, Nazi's, the alt-right) but they're the same as always, white nationalist racists who preach hatred; willingly and eagerly turning to threats and violence in an effort to force people to tolerate their message of bigotry.

This WAS domestic terrorism.  We all knowingly watched the racists waltz into Charlottesville, the beginning flames of the eventually costly hate fire.  It was like treading water in the middle of the ocean, noticing shark fins starting to circle.  There was no way this rally was going to end without tragedy.

When I saw someone had used a car as a weapon, my mind immediately went to the numerous terrorist attacks which have happened throughout Europe, where street legal vehicles have been used to inflict pain and fear on the innocent populations.  Regardless of where these terrorist strikes happened (France, Germany, England) the reaction in the United States from the Conservative Right has been the same.  There's an immediate condemnation of all Muslims, demands for every individual who has preached for acceptance to apologize and renounce themselves, demands we remove all 'unacceptable' religions from the western hemisphere, and gleeful cheers for the USA to drop another Mother of All Bombs on some unsuspecting village in the middle of nowhere, a village which has no connection to the attack.

After this domestic terrorist attack by alt-right racists, I was eager to see what those same Conservatives had to say about this terrorist attack.  I scampered to my computer to pull up Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites to read their outrage.  Instead I was greeted by beige conversations of blandness:

Weather, State Capitol reopening, grandma, going swimming, nice dinner, Twins, friends...

These are friends who rarely go a day without making some sort of political statement, and who, when a terrorist strike happens anywhere, deluge their social media with relentless posts and memes.  I started scrolling back further on their timelines, back to Friday night.  Surprisingly, they had nothing on Charlottesville, or politics at all, since about 6 PM on Friday.  They'd gone underground with their politics, a clear sign they knew exactly what had been going on.  They had no idea what to say about what was happening in Charlottesville, and no intent to acknowledge the growing evil in America.  They couldn't condemn their casual affiliation without admitting fault, so they went silent.

Starting on Friday night, when it became apparent the racists had stormed every Pier 1 in Virginia to buy up every tiki torch they could find.

(Daughters fun class, bar-b-que, family vacation, birth of a child, Vikings, ice cream, church...)

When the racists turned violent on Friday and started attacking peaceful protesters, beating them with the torches.

(Game of Thrones, road construction, road trip, out drinking with friends, kitty video...)

The next morning, when a larger group of racists descended onto Charlottesville, and as the bloodlust these bigots created wasn't about to recede, they started attacking anyone they could find, like this African American man in a parking garage.

(Pumpkin spice, canoeing, going to a movie, kids playdate, more drinking photos, bridal shower...)

In their fire and fury of hate, the racists started attacking all non-racists.  They attacked the clergy,  THE CLERGY(!!!), religious leaders from numerous denominations who were doing what Jesus and/or their God told them to do, stop hate and preach peace.  This clearly should've warranted a reluctant criticism, or the slightest bit of shade...SOMETHING from the same people who wrap their Christianity around everything they believe!

(Back to school, sick uncle, Coldplay, love my pet, campfire/s'more photos, picnic...)

Finally, we had a deranged man committing a premeditated terrorist attack on innocent people, running his vehicle into a peaceful protest, killing one, seriously injuring scores, and then immediately reversing over many of his victims a second time, running away screaming victory for the cause of the racists, all caught on camera.

(Delicious peaches, abortion, summer camp, NoDak hockey, family photo, gardening...)

This was too many people, all going mute at the same time.  This was not a coincidence.

Sure a few made vague references to their religious service this morning, and one did the "what ever happened to 'agreeing to disagree'" post (well, about 25 years ago, the right started taking over the media, labeling their opponents with harsh and unjustified rhetoric, while at the same time whitewashing their own party's faults with a 'nothing to see here, never criticize the Republican Party' motto.  After 25 years of continuing the ramp up the hatred towards their opponents, Rightos trying to ask where this came from is like the kid not understanding why the bees stung him for throwing rocks at their hive).

There have been a few brave Republican politicians who've condemned the attacks, and I appreciate their tone.  The problem is the vast majority of Republican politicians and voters remain silent.  They don't know what to say.  

It's like, after getting really drunk one night, they woke up next to Hitler.  Now, they're sheepishly trying to be 'woke up next to you' friendly with him, while internally terrified of Hitler asking when they can hook up again.  The Republicans are finally sobering up and realizing who've they been in bed with.  Their silence about Charlottesville is a shameful admission.

Trump, a man who's criticism is very specific when he wants it to be, still has yet to condemn white nationalism, under any of its banners.  He hasn't called them out for who they really are, and Trump has eluded to "all sides" needing to tone down the violence.  For the record, 'all sides' would be either the racists or their victims.  Trump has actual Nazis in the White House (Sebastian Gorka, likely Bannon, likely others too) and has a special place in his heart for his 'Orange Shirts', the same people he applauded when they roughed up and dragged protesters out of campaign rallies.  It's clear, Trump doesn't want to upset his base, so he's intentionally being vague in his criticism.

But the question needs to be asked of all Republicans who still swear they only voted for Trump because they hated Clinton:  what's your excuse for not condemning the unacceptable?  We ALL need to condemn this.  Your lack of condemnation is a silent endorsement.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Friday Link for 8/11/17

Saturday Night Live gets the nod this week.

They came out of hiatus to make up for lost time.  First a disclaimer, I do not believe in going after political kids who are not forcing me to have to care about them.  In my mind, Tiffany and Barron Trump are off limits and should not be commented on.  I felt the same way about the Obama, Bush and Clinton kids, with one exception.  When the Bush twins were allegedly using the secret service to get them, underage, into bars, that was an issue.  A presidential family member using a governmental law enforcement agency to actively break the law is something we should not tolerate.

Ivanka, Trump Jr., and Eric are ALL fair game, because they have either taken an active role in the White House (hence are helping to run the country), are currently running Trump's business with or without Trump's input (something which clearly needs further scrutiny due to the conflict of interest issues), or met with the Russians to try to steal the election of 2016.  They are all fair game!

Here's the brilliant impression of Jr. and Eric from SNL.  The fidget spinner was a nice touch.

And for a little something else, Bill Hader returned to his old haunt to portray Scaramucci.  Maybe the Mooch could get rehired just so Hader could come back and be a cast regular, like Melissa McCarthy was.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Words Matter

I had the pleasure of visiting Washington D.C. last week, a trip I highly recommend.  For the record, I didn't make it up into the US Capitol Building or to the White House.  The Capitol was a 'we ran out of time' issue, but the White House was purposely avoided.  Until that defiled orangutang carcass is gone, I will not endorse, IN ANY WAY, the man who stains our democracy.

For the record, I never felt this way about about W.

There are plenty of great things to see in D.C.  Many of them are chiseled with words which convey a strong meaning, as powerful today as they were when they were enshrined years ago.  Nothing epitomizes this more than the The Wall, the Vietnam Veteran's memorial, which still invokes a strong level of emotion today.

The Lincoln Memorial is the busiest, especially with the Washington Monument closed until next year as they install a new elevator.  I love how Minnesota is dead square center at the top of the facade:

Lincoln himself has a little ode above his image.

And his most famous speech, albeit a little blurry, is off to the side of the monument.  The Gettysburg Address was a short speech, but I think the best speeches generally are the shorter ones.

The MLK Memorial is incredible.

To add weight (as if that is even needed) the memorial is covered with some of his greatest orations.  This one, especially in the age of our modern Conservative Christians, weighed heavy on me.

Jefferson was no slouch when it came to his impact on the country.  

His writings, although needing time to come to their full fruition, are melodic and inspiring.

But the biggest surprise for my family was the FDR Memorial.  They put it between the MLK and the Jefferson Memorial as a way to get people to walk the detour off the Mall to Jefferson's site.  To encourage the walk, FDR's full time in office is laid out in order, with statements he made regarding the Depression, recovery, his reluctance to enter into war, and his steadfast integrity after having his hand forced.  This is a destination Monument, not a speed walk though obstacle.  His words are SO important today!

Reminder, Republicans pushed to change the term limits of Presidents after they realized a true liberal Democrat, leading with true liberal Democratic principles and policies, would be near impossible to remove from office, because the public would love them too much.

I was tearing up by the time I walked out.  We need another FDR today, not some narcissistic, carnival barker, who can't even manage 140 characters without sounding like a fool.  Considering a modern version of FDR would NEVER come from the modern Republican party, who'll be the Democrat to step up to the challenge?  

Go visit D.C. yourself.  Patriotism is not the solitary realm of one political party, and it's not the sole entitlement of the puppet masters who need a fake image to hide their nefarious agenda behind.  Thanks to Lincoln, Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the sacrifice of the brave men and women who've defended this country, for reaffirming that, throughout the entire history of the United States of America.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Friday Link for 8/4/17

Short and sweet today.

Mark Normand is a great.  Here's a little of his comedy for your Friday.  Some naughty language, so be advised!  Some stand up from Carolines.  Not the best audio, but he's funny!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sports are Only for the Young

We're coming to realize a very terrifying truth about the heavy duty physical contact team sports we enjoy in this country, primarily football and hockey.  With the continued research into the consequences of repeated hits to the head, it's becoming more undeniable the players who play these games are now taking decades off their lives by doing so.

It's no longer just concussions which are the red flags.  Studies have focused on the repeated hits to the head these sports feature, and frankly, encourage.  The reality is stark.  Brain deterioration is happening at an alarming rate, with serious mental cognitive issues at much higher rates for retired former athletes of these heavy contact sports, when compared to the rest of us.  Not surprising, the risk of death is also much higher.

Slightly defending these contact sports, it's not like our current understanding of the warning signs have always been there.  Guys used to talk about player's 'bells getting rung' and 'getting knocked into next week,' and we now know that was actually serious head trauma.  As science made us healthier and extended lives, discrepancies started to get exposed.  The beer drinking, hard partying, 250 pound, 30 pounds overweight, 5 foot 10 player of the 60's and 70's doesn't exist anymore.  Today, the players are 6' 7'', 285 pounds, all muscle.  There's no longer an off season, as these athletes train harder and faster, delivering human beings who can hit you harder than a car going down a street.  Every serious hit today seems to be ten times more vicious than hits from days gone by.

I went to drop off my kid at a sports practice where the 9th grade football players were just finishing up.  A kid walked past who was at least 6'4'', probably 300 pounds.  He had some fat on him, but he also had a lot of muscle too.  I call him a kid because contradictory of his massive girth, he still had the face of a high school freshman.  If that young man would hit me like an opposing player, I wouldn't be getting up anytime soon, and he was only in 9th grade on a .500 team.  I've been told the more prestigious football high schools have kids who are even bigger and faster.  It's scary.

Here's where the organizations which promote these physical contact sports bear significant blame. When these warning signs started to show up, they did everything to limit the medical investigation into what was going on.  They dragged their heels and discredited factual research to continue to maintain their sports are just good clean fun.  Many people within these organizations might not have know the exact medical crisis on their hands, but they sure were turning the other cheek quite regularly, purposely ignoring the ever increasing health issues of former players.  With the latest story from the New York Times about the problems of not just concussions, but repetitive head hits, some contact sports advocates are still saying "nothing to see here."

Another problem the sports have is how their most most visible and vocal spokespeople make bone stupid comments, bad mouthing what they call the 'wussification' of their perspective sports.  They rail against the attempts by these leagues, albeit not enough, to address head injury protocol.  "The sport stinks today because you can't really hit people like you used to,"; a fake romanticizing of the days of yore, where they used to describe a player coming off the field with blood coming out of their ear as good clean fun.

This post is not a demand for football, hockey and all sports where head shots are the norm to shut down, but if these leagues don't start trying their best to make sure their players at all levels don't have dementia by 43, or are committing suicide at 37, the public will shut them down.  Why are we killing these people for sport?

Outside of my three kids, I'm no one else's father.  You do what you feel is best, but if someone was to ask me what my advice would be in regards to sports, I would beg them to not allow their kids to play football or hockey.  They might love the sport, and they may be a great player, but when the trade off is passing away at 45 instead of 90, you are removing half their days for something which should never warrant that price.