Monday, December 31, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new!

It's been a very frustrating year, that's for sure.

The good? Barack Obama was re-elected, thus sparing us four years of the robotic, elitist Mitt Romney. Now all Obama has to do is develop a spine -- which is by no means certain.

I got to see Bruce again. That alone makes it a better year than most. Thanks to my friend Nancy for the ticket and to all my friends at Greasy Lake with whom I saw the show.

Trent Franks is no longer my congressman. I now have Paul Gosar to represent me. This is not necessarily a major improvement, but almost anyone is better than Trent. (I except Allen West, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Louis Gohmert, Virginia Fox and a few other crazies from this, but not many. These guys would all be worse than Trent). In the same vein, Jon Kyl is no longer my senator, but Jeff Flake is replacing him and I'm not at all sure that's an improvement.

Now for the bad. One thing stands out this year and it was unfortunately brought home again just a couple of weeks ago -- our nationwide obsession with guns. When the framers wrote the Constitution 225 years ago, I don't think they could have imagined such atrocities as Aurora and Sandy Hook. I have trouble imagining them and I've lived through them. The rest of the world sees this obsession and thinks we have positively lost our collective minds. I agree with them. There is no easier problem for us to fix, yet no less likely problem for us to fix. Mitch McConnell and Grover Norquist will celebrate tax hikes together before the NRA and the other 2nd Amendment nuts will give an inch toward even such common sense steps such as automatic registration, limited capacity on magazines, etc. It really leaves me with very little hope.

With that in mind, here's a song I found going through my head today. It seems fairly apropos, so I hope you all enjoy it.

Happy New Year to all. It really can't be any worse than last year -- can it?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 Predictions, or: Right Back Where We Started

Nearly 500 years ago, Nostradamus predicted that I would write this blog entry...

In 2013 we can expect more obstructionist nonsense from those super duper patriots in the Tea Party wing of the Republican nuthouse.

Once again President Obama will bend over backward to accommodate John Boehner in the misguided belief that Boehner can deliver Republican votes in the House. Unfortunately, the Republican House is still comprised of people like Louie Gohmert, Trent Franks, Darrell Issa, Paul Ryan, and Michele Bachmann. So, very little of substance will get done. And Boehner himself may be deposed by yet another empty suit.

We can hope for a ban on assault rifles and large capacity clips--but don't bet the farm on it.

The slaughter of the innocents will continue.

More attention will be paid to the antics of our pop singers and TV and movie stars than is healthy. Bread and circuses to keep the masses placated.

The Bilious, Bullying, Billionaires will continue their attack on Democracy, aided and abetted by most--but not all--of the corporate media--and a majority of the Supreme Court.

Fox "News" will find new ways to lie to the American people. Naturally, the people who listen to Fox will not notice this.

Mitt Romney, pere et fils, will continue to blame everyone and everything for his defeat--except for his own incompetence and his tired, incoherent ideas. But, of course, he didn't really want to be President anyway. So it all worked out well in the end.

The Dark Lord Cheney and his hateful spawn will attack the President for some reason or other.

No one but Fox News will care what the Dark Lord Cheney and his hateful spawn say.

George W. Bush, or Simple W if you prefer, will remain politically insignificant, just a bitter memory from an ugly past.

Chris Christie will start a diet and exercise program to get him in shape to lose to Hillary in 2016.

Arizona's politicians, including our pea brained Governor, Jan "Chuck Tell Me What To Do" Brewer, our criminally negligent lawman, Sheriff Joe "Que Pasa" Arpaio, and our resident foreign policy expert, Senator John "POW" McCain, R-Bitter Old Man,  will continue to provide amusement to the rest of a grateful nation.

No matter who hosts it, the Academy Award show will be too long and tedious to be truly enjoyable.

The lack of good film roles for "women of a certain age (other than La Streep)" will be decried.

Hopefully Peter O'Toole will finish the third volume of his memoir, "Loitering With Intent". I heartily recommend the first two volumes, which are subtitled "The Child" and "The Apprentice",  to anyone who loves acting, theatre, storytelling, or just good, often humorous, writing in a kind of Joycean stream of consciousness style.

Some religious nut will announce that the world will end at a certain time on a certain day. The world will not end, of course. But the nut will still have devoted followers, because there is never a shortage of fruit cakes in America.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

Mrs. Franklin and I hope you and yours have a safe and Happy New Year's Eve. And that all of your teams cover the spread and your hangover isn't too awful.

Remember to hydrate. Trust me, it helps.

And don't drink and drive. That's a clown move, bro.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Year End Valley Sports Roundup

I know, I'm just as surprised as you are that the world is still here. I even had  "12-21-12 world ends" written in my day planner. I mean, if you can't trust the looney predictions of some bat shit crazy nut jobs based on a fundamental misinterpretation of the calendar of an extinct civilization, what can you trust?

So, since it isn't the apocalypse after all, and too much holiday cheer has left me kind of groggy, we might as well take a close look at the Valley's sports scene:

Jesus, what a cesspool!

Where to begin?

Well, they say it's football season, though that would be hard to tell from what we've seen around here. So let's start with our beloved Arizona Cardinals.

One thing I know for sure, once a cheap SOB always a cheap SOB. That pretty much sums up my feelings about the Bidwill family's business. They got a new stadium and all the cash flow that went with it, and the franchise is now worth about a billion bucks. So why are the Bidwills always getting into fights over money? First it was with the Fiesta Bowl over signage, then Westgate over parking, now NAU over training facilities. For a franchise that has been mediocre at best for generations they have a tremendous sense of entitlement.  All that money and they still don't spend on depth. They are always one injury away from disaster. The defense is strong, but not strong enough to shut out every opponent, which is what they have to do to win. The offensive line is consistently awful. Their "running" game is a joke. Their GM is a joke, too. This is a team that passed on both Adrian Peterson and Terrell Suggs in the draft. As for the head coach's decision making regarding the quarterback position, well, let's just say that Jeff George is sitting somewhere right now waiting for his phone to ring. It is becoming clear that they were very lucky to have Kurt Warner and Todd Haley for the brief period of time that now looks like their Golden Age. The worst part of this whole debacle is that Larry Fitzgerald, who is still one of the top two or three receivers in the league, is spending a large part of his prime without an NFL quarterback to throw to him.

OK, what about "your" Phoenix Suns? Steve Nash made everybody around him look better--including Alvin Gentry. Steve Nash is gone. Goran Dragic is good, but he is still a work in progress. And the gap between "good" and "great" in the NBA is wide. Gortat was the best back-up center in the league--emphasis on back-up. Jared Dudley is a solid 6th man. Michael Beasley has a world of talent, and if he ever...blah blah blah. You can grow old waiting for people to change. The point guard they drafted, whose name escapes me, was briefly demoted to the D-League. And the rest of the roster is made up of guys who would be 8th, 9th, or 10th men on a good team. This all adds up to lots of empty seats at the Purple Palace. On the plus side, with Toronto still one of the worst teams in the league, at least we haven't had to hear the "if only Bryan Colangelo was still around" wails coming from the local media. Yep, Bryan has done such a great job as GM with the Raptors. Uh huh.

Remember a few seasons back when the Suns' roster was 10 swing men, a power forward and Steve Nash? Well, the Arizona Diamondbacks seem to be cornering the market on light hitting short-stops and middle relievers. (Hey, maybe they can trade Justin Upton for Eddie Brinkman. That'll show him!) I know, Kevin Towers is a genius, etc etc, but come on. I haven't checked with Bill James yet, but I'm pretty sure that nobody ever won a pennant with a team full of utility infielders. Of course, it probably doesn't matter what the D-backs do, because both the Giants and Dodgers have way superior talent. This all adds up to one thing: there will be plenty of good seats available to watch your favorite baseball teams when they come to town next summer.

Which brings us to hockey. Is there still a hockey team? There must be, because the city of Glendale has committed $300 million dollars to pay some guy to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in town. The city will have to divert this money from other services. This will mean cutbacks for the people who live in Glendale. Fortunately, this will not affect most hockey fans, because most hockey fans do not live in Glendale. So they couldn't care less about what happens to Glendale. Come to think of it, I don't really care what happens to Glendale either. But if I did, I'd be pissed off right about now.

And last, but not least, we have the ASU Sun Devils. Sure the baseball team used to win the College World Series on a regular basis, and the basketball team has sent several very good players to the NBA, including Jumpin' Joe Caldwell, Byron Scott, Fat Lever, and James Harden. But for those of us of a certain age, ASU will always mean Frank Kush. Do the names Mini Max Anderson, Curly Culp, Ron Pritchard, Fair Hooker, JD Hill, Joe Spagnola, Danny White, John Jefferson, Woody Green, and the Malone brothers, Art and Benny, ring a bell? (Yes, I really am that old.) Anyway, I'm pretty sure that Frank Kush would be embarrassed to take a 7-5 team to a bowl game. But, as Dylan reminds us, "things have changed."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In the spirit of peace on earth

It seems that every right-wing loon in the country is now espousing armed teachers or security guards at every school in the country. No mention of cost. No mention that they are now advocating that the very same teachers which they considered to be overpaid and underworked as of the last election should now be packing heat at school.

And definitely no mention that even trained police officers miss more than they hit a lot of the time when in a stressful (read: possible gun presence) situation.

Bruce said it.....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More American Exceptionalism

We are exceptional at shooting each other.

We really do a good job of it.

Men, women, teenagers, children, babies--doesn't matter.

No other "civilized" country on earth can touch us in this regard. Sure, Somalia is close, but then they're not considered "civilized" now are they? No, they're savages.

Which raises an interesting question. When we lecture other countries on human rights how do we keep a straight face? And how do they not double up with laughter? "Hey Abdul the guys from the shooting gallery are telling us how to behave again!"

Go to the movies, go to work, go to school, go to the mall, go to the 7-11 for some skittles? You're playing Russian roulette.

Of course the plethora of guns in our exceptional society has nothing whatsoever to do with all of the people getting shot. That's just liberal, bleeding heart, nonsense. Ask the NRA.

Remember, "guns don't kill people, people kill people."

And crazy people kill people. And crazy people with assault rifles kill lots of people. Including children.

As that old crook Nixon used to say, "let me make one thing perfectly clear":  Anybody who thinks they need an assault rifle, or a machine pistol, and thousands of rounds of ammunition to protect themselves is insane.

And anybody who wants to argue for the rights of people to own these things is an accomplice to murder.

Of course, it's always easier to cry and light a candle, than to do something substantive.

Chances are that our exceptional Congress will offer no remedy. Too many of them, on both sides of the aisle, are scared to death of the gun lobby. And if our exceptional President dares to, he will be attacked by the ever ready staunch defenders of the exceptional Second Amendment.

Those true patriots who honestly believe, in those festering piles of horseshit that they call brains, that banning assault rifles and high capacity clips somehow infringes on their "rights".

So save some tears for the next senseless tragedy. Because there will be a next one, and one after that. So it goes. Forever and ever.

Because we are exceptional.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Petition to Secede

Whereas I have lived in Arizona for more than 50 years (long sigh); and whereas during that time I have been "represented" by the likes of Jan Brewer, Jon Kyl, John McCain, Ben Quayle, John Shadegg, Ev Mecham, Fife Symington, Jane Hull, Barry Goldwater, and some twits in the state legislature whose names I never bothered to learn; and whereas for much of that time I have been "protected" by an arrogant joke of a sheriff named Joe Arpaio and such stellar attorneys (general and county) as Tom Horne and Andrew Thomas; and whereas they have all been essentially worthless (yeah, Barry too); and whereas the good people of Arizona seem determined to keep choosing a stunning collection of grifters, fools, and circus clowns for the majority of their elected officials; and whereas some of said elected officials do a sad, shady, and woefully inadequate job of counting those votes they disagree with; therefore, I hereby petition the Federal government for some form of relief from this cruel and unusual punishment.

Frankly, I think we'd be better off if a whole bunch of Red states did secede. Let the hillbillies fend for themselves for awhile and let's see how they do.

But since that's not going to happen, at the very least some of us should be allowed to secede from whatever Red state we find ourselves in.

By secession I mean not having to pay any state taxes anymore. Oh, I'll still live here. We have a nice house and Mrs. Franklin has business interests. Most of our friends are here, too.

But I don't want to financially support the asinine behavior anymore. Enough is enough.

So, just tell me what kind of forms I need to fill out, OK?