Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year End Update

Where to begin?

How about with the fact that 1/3 of Americans don't believe in evolution? That's as good a place as any. Honestly, I would have thought it was more...Ignorance is one of those things we're still good at manufacturing here in Fortress America.

The Republican majority in our esteemed House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act over and over again. This was, of course, a purely symbolic gesture. Not unlike the band playing Nearer My God To Thee as the Titanic sank. Minor political afterthought Rick "Please don't google Santorum" Santorum even compared the Affordable Care Act to apartheid and, by implication, himself to Nelson Mandela, which seems a stretch. I will now pause briefly while you compare Rick Santorum to a steaming pile of horse shit. But hey, the people most hurt by insufficient (or no) health insurance are generally poor and if there's one thing our proudly "Christian" nation can do with the best of them is fuck over the less fortunate. I mean, it's right there in the Bible: "Every man for himself. Amen."

After the Seahawks lost to the Cardinals, a fellow up in Washington called Arizona a "desert racist wasteland" and folks down here got upset. To be fair, it is a desert--well, most of it anyway. But it can't be a wasteland! I mean, My God look at all the "championship" golf courses we have! Unless he meant "wasteland" in the T.S. Eliot sense...hmmm. And as for racist...well...uh, the majority of the people here really aren't racist. No, what they are is so apathetic and/or stupid that they let a bunch of racists run things. See, there's a difference...I think. Of course, the results are essentially the same, so...

Houses built in dried out forests, and by coastlines where hurricanes make yearly appearances, and in an area with the quaint--and descriptive--nickname of Tornado Alley, were burned, washed, and/or blown, away. Naturally, they will be rebuilt in more or less the exact same locations.

Despite the efforts of the usual gang of Republican chickenhawks, we are not at war with Syria or Iran. Yet.

A hillbilly duck call magnate said racist, sexist, and homophobic things. Really? Wow! Didn't see that one coming. His constitutional right to say racist, sexist, and homophobic things is not in dispute, and the likes of Sarah Palin jumping to his rescue was to be expected. No, what is truly amazing is that some people find him and his family entertaining?!? I suppose this goes hand in hand with that disbelief in evolution thing.

Many famous, talented, worthwhile people died. And still, Dick Cheney lives on...and on...and on...It's all so arbitrary.

Which is probably just as well, all things considered.

Happy New Year!

PS Don't drink and drive. Leave that to retired professional athletes. They have lots of practice.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Paper Of Record

The world is a constant source of amazement and, let's face it, amusement.

Just the other day, the paper of record in my town, The Arizona Republic, had the following headline on its front page: Tax-credit program helping rich Ariz. schools get richer.

Set aside for a moment the somewhat odd abbreviation for Arizona (there are no apparent style guidelines at the Republic, God love 'em), and let's concentrate on the story itself:

The parents of students at the wealthier schools make more tax-credit donations than the parents of students at poorer schools. Probably because they have more money, huh?

So the students of the wealthier schools end up with more and better everything.

You are, no doubt, shocked, shocked to find this out.

As usual, the Republic has a grasp on the obvious that is breathtaking.

Solutions? No, not really. Outrage? Not much, wouldn't want to offend the well off.

So...nothing to be done. Carry on.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peter O'Toole

And just like that the world is a smaller, emptier place.

So let's lift a glass to one of the greats, the last of the Hellraisers.

T.E. Lawrence, the 14th Earl of Gurney, Henry II, Mr. Chips, Alan Swann, Don Quixote de la Mancha, Eli Cross, Hamlet, Flavius Silva, Vladimir, Jeffrey Bernard, Henry Higgins, and so many more indelible characters have left the building.

Peter O'Toole was an actor and a movie star. A writer of Joycean prose and a raconteur of rare delight and insight.

He liked to drink and talk. He liked to drink and carouse. He liked to drink and...drink. He was Irish to his core, after all.

He drank too much and it nearly killed him off way too young, as it did so many of his friends. Somehow he survived.

His star rose like a rocket and fell like a stone. He survived that too. And somehow rose again.

He was bigger than life. He couldn't help himself in that regard. He just was. In truth, that didn't always work on the stage or on the screen.

But when it did, oh my God!

They do not make them like that anymore. They never made many of them to begin with.

As himself wrote while a mere sprout, "I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony."

We were lucky to have him. Thank God we still have the films.

Lawrence of Arabia, Beckett, The Lion In Winter, How To Steal A Million, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stuntman, My Favorite Year, Masada, Venus.

Not a bad life's work.

And so, Mr. O'Toole, Pedro to your closest friends, a toast to your passing:

"May your glass be ever full...and may you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you're dead."

If you believe in an afterlife, then you know they're having one hell of a party in Heaven right now.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

War And Peace

Are you ready to go to war over Iran's nuclear program?

Some of you must be.

Because if you aren't then the whole "Obama is a weak President. We need a strong Republican President like President Chen-er--Bush again" meme falls apart in a hurry.

Those folks are always ready to send your kids or grandkids off to die for....?

Oil? Democracy in the Middle East? Saudi Arabia's form of Islam?


Oh yeah. Israel.

So, I guess the question should be, are you ready to send your children off to die for Israel's peace of mind?

"Blessed are the peacemakers."

 Remember that one?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Today's Chuckle

Ronald Reagan called Nelson Mandela a "terrorist".

This would be the same Ronald Reagan who spent most of his adult life as a corporate shill for defense contractors.

The same Ronald Reagan who sold arms to Iran.

The same Ronald Regan who funded death squads throughout Central America.

The same Ronald Reagan who perpetuated the myth of a legion of "welfare mothers in their Cadillacs" stealing from good, honest ( read white) Americans.

The same Ronald Reagan who began the all out assault on the middle class with his steadfast belief in "trickle down" economics and his hatred of unions.

The same Ronald Reagan who ignored the AIDS crisis for years.

The same Ronald Reagan who some delusional people still insist was a "great man" and "the greatest president", worthy of inclusion on Mount Rushmore.

So let's see...You have a man who fought for democracy and equality in his homeland and was willing to suffer in prison for almost 30 years for his beliefs.

And then you have Ronald Wilson Reagan.

You tell me who the real "terrorist" was.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yes, They Really Are That Crazy

I hope that you are enjoying the Holiday season.

Please feel free to over eat, over drink, over spend, watch the TV, see all the presumptive Oscar "contenders", read a good book or two, rest and reflect. If you have to, spend time with your families.

But brace yourselves, 'cause as soon as the new year hits, the budget madness in DC will resume. Teddie C. and the Nihilists will be rockin' the Ayn Rand songbook! There is bound to be another threat of a debt ceiling and/or budget government shutdown. And another vote to kill the ACA. And more crap about Benghazi. And, what the hell, how about another run at the President's birth certificate?

When I think about the Tea Party, I'm reminded of my grade school days. I went to what, in retrospect, must have been a 'progressive' public school--well for Arizona anyway. Or maybe it was just a dumping ground...

Anyway, when I was in the 7th and 8th grade, "about the time of the Punic Wars", my school started mainstreaming what we called at that less sensitive time the "mentally retarded."

And I was one of the students chosen to help with the process. So I ended up tutoring in math or science or English or whatever, as we attempted to integrate the "mentally unfortunate" (that's a little more sensitive, isn't it?) into the general student body.

I guess it worked, at least a little.

The bottom line is, we helped them as much as we could. But however much progress they made, we did not let them run the school.

As George Carlin once said, "hire the handicapped, but don't let them take your rectal temperature."

Or hamstring your government.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Game Is Rigged

The game is rigged.

The game has always been rigged.

What has changed is that the occasional bone is no longer thrown to the masses.

Through the years, palliatives such as trust busting, labor laws, a minimum wage, public education, Social Security,  the GI Bill, civil and voting rights, food stamps, welfare and Medicare were offered to an increasingly restless public. People who really believed in the unfulfilled, often mythical, promises of  "all men are created equal" and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

Not any more. The very very rich, whether human, or super-human (i.e. Corporations) have decided that it's counter productive to their profits to do anything for the rest of us.

And their almost complete control of the media has eliminated the possibility of a true reformer, like Teddy Roosevelt or FDR, changing the rules of the game. Even a centrist like Barack Obama is way too progressive for our oligarchical overlords.

No, better to elect Ayn Rand spouting, trickle down fools, who campaign on the lie that "government is the problem" and then do their level best to make sure that government does not work--except to ensure that the public trough is kept open for only a very select few.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Being Alive Is A Pre-Existing Condition

"How differently I might behave if immortality were an option." (Tom Stoppard)

Yes. Well...we all misbehave along the way.

Perhaps it's because I am of a certain age, but almost all of my friends and close associates have something wrong with them.

Maybe they smoke or smoked, maybe they did drugs or drank to excess, maybe they played basketball or tennis on concrete courts for too many years, maybe they hurt their backs years ago, maybe all the women in their families tend to get cancer...Or maybe it's just that time has taken its toll.

And before the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare if you prefer, these "somethings", however major or minor they may be, would be cause for insurers to deny them coverage.

So the fact that ACA is imperfect, and that its roll out has been deeply flawed*, while important, are not nearly as important as the fact that it will ultimately offer relief to the vast majority of Americans.

And never forget this important fact: insurance companies spend a great deal of time, effort, and money to fuck us over. Denying as many claims as possible is a key part of their business strategy. Make sure you weigh that against the temporary inconvenience of a faulty website.

It is true that if you live long enough something will eventually kill you, but you shouldn't have to die for lack of care, or go broke along the way because of hospital bills. I know this stands counter to the Great American God of Profit Before All, but still...

*[ Maybe the roll out would have been smoother if the Congress had funded the website with the full amount of money recommended by the Congressional Budget Office and not just 1/6 of the amount. Maybe. And maybe if the Republicans hadn't spent 3 years fighting against its implementation tooth and nail. Maybe.]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Clown Time Is Not Over

I bet you're just as excited about 2016 as I am!

Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz! Wow!

I mean, really, Ted fucking Cruz?! Plus his wingnut daddy? Double Wow!

If we're lucky, maybe even Jeb "I'm The Smart One--No Really" Bush will crawl out of whatever Saudi's pocket he's in and throw his keffiyeh into the ring.

Just between you and me, despite the fawning press he receives, Chris Christie is still just a morbidly obese, loud mouthed bully. And the only explanation I've heard that makes any sense regarding his re-election is that blue state New Jersey has such a huge inferiority complex towards New York, that they are willing to forgive Christie's anti-union anti-teacher Republican crap because they desperately want someone who won't be pushed around by the Empire State. And it would take a bulldozer to push Chris Christie. You'd be better off trying to roll him.

The world has passed these people by, and they don't even know it.

Doesn't matter though, because crazy is the gift that keeps on giving. So we're going to get 3 years of "insider" speculation. And 3 years of Republicans attacking each other for not being "Republican" enough. And 3 years of Tea Party lunacy. Priceless.

Pass the popcorn.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Demand Satisfaction!

So Rand Paul, R-Wikepedia, pines for the good ol' days of Dixie, when a slight could be settled by a duel...


Of course, one of those who Paul The Lesser feels most slighted by is, gasp, a woman! One Rachel Maddow by name.

Young Rand's honor has been thrown into question, and since he couldn't possibly best Ms Maddow in any intellectual contest, he yearns for the only other way he can think of, however illegal and archaic it may be, to satisfy his bruised ego.

Now, I'm not up on the rules of chivalry, southern or otherwise, (though I did recently see 12 Years A Slave, an excellent primer on the mentality of southern white males, past and present), but I don't think a gentleman would challenge a lady to a duel under any circumstances.

In fact, the sort of man who would challenge a woman to a duel isn't really much of a man at all.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Kill The Weak, Shoot The Wounded, Starve The Hungry

I'm not really up on the Bible, so someone will have to tell me in which book baby Jesus said, "fuck the poor and the hungry and the weak and the sick.  No, I mean it, verily FUCK 'em!"

'Cause it has to be in there someplace.

I mean, the Republicans are all good Christians--just ask them--and that's their policy. So baby J must have said it.

And apparently, when He comes back (hahaha), if we haven't made the poor and hungry and weak and sick suffer enough, well then there's going to be Hell to pay! Amen.

On a side note, does it surprise anyone that Ted Cruz's dad is an asshole? What else could he be?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Maybe Someday...

Maybe someday...

The hillbillies will realize that they're being played for saps by the billionaires who've bankrolled the Tea Party.

People will wake up to the indisputable truth that "socialized" medicine is cheaper and more effective than the nonsensical system we have.

Poor whites will figure out that the poor blacks and the poor browns aren't their enemies.

American businesses will remember that it was a growing, vital middle class that made our economy the envy of the world.

Red State voters will begin to wonder if there's some correlation between not funding public education and being really, really stupid.

Men will awaken to the fact that women should have the fundamental right to control their reproductive systems.

Folks will read all of the Second Amendment and learn that, contrary to what the NRA says, it does not give carte blanche to gun owners.

Every American citizen will ask themselves why the Koch brothers, and like minded billionaire scum, don't want us to have access to affordable health care, or unions, or protection against corporations, or an EPA, or...

Grover Norquist, Wayne La Pierre, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, Steve King, Rand Paul, all of the Fox "News" kids, and everyone else who spreads lies, bile, and hatred to make a buck, will be kicked to the curb, and/or laughed into irrelevance. Then they can all go off to Clown College, where they really belong.

Maybe someday....but don't hold your breath.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Night Of The Living Dead

Honestly, I thought Ed Meese was dead.

But no! He's alive and kicking, part of the blood sucking cabal that planned the Tea Party shutdown of the U.S. government.

You know that old saying, "you can't keep a good man down"?

Well, that doesn't apply here.

Let's be clear about something: Ed Meese was a right wing piece o'shit when he was in the Reagan administration and he's a right wing piece o'shit now.

One thing you can say about the Republican Party: no matter how discredited you may be, how mendacious, how wrong headed your policy, how despicable the crimes you've committed, how hateful and backward you are, or how just plain evil you may be, they'll always have a place for you.

I guess that's what they mean by "The Big Tent".

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Village Idiots

One of the things wrong with this modern world is that we pay way too much attention to the musings of idiots.

Which is as good a way as any to introduce the latest wisdom from Joe the Plumber.

Let me say right here that, in another lifetime, I used to be a plumber. And a large percentage of the guys I worked with were racist idiots. (This was in Arizona, after all.)

Most of them weren't even qualified to be plumbers. (This was in Arizona after all. God bless the right to work laws. They really level the playing field as far as skills go.)

But putting their craftsmanship aside, the idea that people would listen to these idiots' political and social "ideas" never occurred to me.

Boy, have things changed. Now Joe the Plumber's thoughts make the front page of the Huffington Post:

"America needs a white Republican president."

Let's have a roll call of the last few white Republican presidents, shall we?

George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon. In reverse order we have a crook with Mob ties, who left office to avoid being impeached; a cypher whose sole purpose was to pardon the crook he replaced;  an amiable figure head who started the all out assault on the middle class, and shipped arms to Iran, while enriching his defense contractor benefactors; an oil whore CIA hack; and a full blown dunce, who lied us into a trillion dollar war.

Yeah. We need more of that.

But even though Joe the Plumber is a village idiot of the first order, he still has a future in politics. Just move out to my neck of the woods. He could be our next governor. Or at the very least take a seat in the state legislature.

(This is Arizona, after all.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Letter To America From The Koch Brothers


First of all, we love this country. Which means we love you. Well...most of you.

Those of you who are willing to work hard, for whatever we want to pay you, for as long as we ask, with whatever benefits we're willing to offer. Or no benefits at all. Those of you who don't want government meddling to impede the natural progress that a truly free market brings. Those of you who don't worry about global warming or clean air and water or safe working conditions. In short, rugged American Americans, the kind who made this country that we love so great. You know who you are.

Some of you, though, constantly whine about the unequal distribution of wealth and continually beg for handouts. Like health care you can afford. And a living wage. And free public education. And government oversight of corporations. And the right to vote. Parasites. We don't love you. You are what's wrong with our beloved country.

Wise up. Life will be so much easier once you surrender your pathetic, little dreams and acknowledge that rich people are simply better. Honestly, would God, in His infinite wisdom, have made us rich if we weren't superior? No, He would not.

So, relax. Rich people know what's best. We will look after you. We will provide. Trust us.

Never forget, government is your enemy. We are your friends.

Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats. Yachts and dinghys, both. Even cardboard rafts, strapped together with vines and taking water at an alarming rate.

God Bless this great land of ours. God Bless us all!

Your friends,

Dave and Charlie

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Oh, Okay Then

So let me see if I've got this straight:

The GOP doesn't like a certain law. Remember now, they are the "law and order" party. And this happens to be a law passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Hell, we even had a national election that was in large part a referendum on this law.

But forget about all that. Because if the "law and order" party doesn't like a law, I mean really doesn't like a law, they are willing to shut down the government to show their displeasure.

Gosh, if only there were a way, in a representative democracy, to change laws...(Maybe even make them better? What a radical idea! Too bad those Founding Father guys weren't smart enough to put something like that in the Constitution.)

Of course, that would involve governing and compromise, and we all know how the GOP feels about government. To a true blue Tea Party Republican compromise means "give me everything I want--or else."

So, there really is no option other than having what amounts to an infantile temper tantrum.

I guess this is just another example of that famous American exceptionalism.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Jesus Christ!

Just heard that Bill O'Reilly, or if you prefer, Bilious O'Rantly, thinks the "Holy Spirit" spoke to him and "told" him to write his little bookie wook about Jesus H. Christ.

At this point, I will pause briefly while you laugh until your spleen bursts...

Feel better? Good. Laughter is the best medicine.

Now, though I have no doubt that Mr. O'Rantly does hear voices in his head, I will bet good money, American money, that it ain't the Holy Spirit.

Hopefully it's just a tumor of some sort, inoperable if we're lucky, pressing on the tiny part of his brain that isn't devoted to uttering total bullshit at extremely high volume.

Let us pray...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

All The Proof You'll Ever Need That An Ivy League Education Is Not What It's Cracked Up To Be:

Ted Cruz.

Not convinced?


George W. Bush.

The thing, as they say, speaks for itself.

To be fair, Cruz probably isn't any worse than the people who elected him. They are either completely stupid or totally venal or some virulent combination of both stupidity and venality.

Don't mess with Texas. They can fuck things up all on their own.

PS I've been racking my brain trying to figure out who Ted Cruz reminded me of. Then, as if on the road to Damascus, it came to me in a flash: that ur-conman, Mr. Haney from Green Acres. No wonder the hicks and rubes love him so.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Looney Tunes

It is said that the philosopher Wittgenstein enjoyed the fractured logic of cartoons.

Boy, would he have gotten a kick out of the Republican Tea Party!

Simply put, when you elect people who do not believe in government to govern you...well, what would you expect to happen?

Do fact adverse xenophobes living in their own alternative universe have empathy, let alone sympathy, for anyone else? Hell no!

Do people anxiously awaiting the Rapture care about the environment? Hell no!

Do people who swear by the Book of Revelations and can't wait for the "end times" to begin care about peace and justice in the Middle East? Hell no!

Do nihilists plan for the future? Hell no!

Do fools, knaves and grifters in the pockets of billionaires care about anything but their next payoff? Hell no!

Bugs, Daffy, Porky and Elmer, had nothing on Ted, Louie, Sarah and Rand.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Just In: Karl Rove Is Still A Festering Pustule

So I'm scanning the Huffington Post the other day, searching for tidbits, and what do I find?

"Obama's handling of the Syrian conflict has been 'an unmitigated disaster'." So saith one Karl Rove.

Well...If there's anyone with a working knowledge of disasters in the Middle East, and elsewhere, it would be Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove. Or Donald "There Are Knowns and Unknows, But Mostly A Whole Bunch Of Stuff I Don't Have A Fucking Clue About" Rumsfeld. Or Condi "I'll Be At Jimmy Choo's If You Need Me" Rice. Or Lil Dick "The Dark Lord" Cheney. Or any of the Bush Gang, including ol Simple W. his own self.

The idea of any member of that crew being taken seriously when they pontificate about any aspect of the government is laughable.

Their wars have cost the United States trillions of dollars, killed hundreds of thousands of people, crippled an untold number more, and displaced millions. Oh yeah, and they poisoned the well for the foreseeable future for any President or Secretary of State who goes before the United Nations with a legitimate concern. Their lies destroyed whatever moral authority our country might have once had, given plausible deniability to murderous dictators everywhere, and the moral high ground to Vladimir Putin, of all people.

The aptly nicknamed "Turd Blossom" should stop talking about foreign policy, about which he and his erstwhile employers have proven they know absolutely nothing, and get back to trying to steal elections by whatever-means-necessary, which is something about which he is an expert.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Bit Of Harmless Fun

We all sit, with bated breath, waiting for the Great Syria Debate.

The nation's best minds, seated in our hallowed Congress and representing all reasonable points of view, will, with the highest intellectual rigor and the wisdom that is our country's birth right....

And blah blah blah.

Louie Gohmert is a member of the United States Congress. So is Trent Franks. So are Steve King, Darrell Issa, Ted Cruz, Dana Rohrabacher...oh, the list goes on and on. Inhofe, Flake, Paul, McConnell, Graham, and Sessions. Quite the brain trust, ain't it?

The Congressional debate over Syria will make monkeys throwing their feces at each other look like Masterpiece Theatre.

Some of these morons will still not admit that the President is a native born US citizen. They're just not sure...

Or perhaps they are sure, but they know they have to act like idiots to appease their idiotic base. I don't know which is worse: to be an idiot or to just act like one because you're afraid.

Our Congress is full of bought and paid for "climate change" deniers, evolution deniers, healthcare crisis deniers, gun nuts, racists, homophobes, misogynists, Ayn Rand quoting dweebs and hopheads chanting "USA USA!" as they stuff the Koch brothers' money into their pockets.

Expecting them to do anything in a sane and timely fashion is asking way too would require them to put aside their personal passions and pettiness and act like statesmen. And that's not going to happen.

Anyway, the truth is that there is no good solution to what is happening in Syria. It is a civil war between a murderous despot, who is supported and supplied by Russia, China and Iran, versus a collection of armed sects. And trust me, the Russians and Chinese really don't care who Assad gasses. Because they both reserve the right to brutalize their own citizens as needed and by whatever means necessary. Besides, this gives them all a chance to screw with the good ol' USA.

Based on our lies about Iraq, why would the other member states of the UN trust us now? Even our British friends are tired of war. And if by chance Assad could be removed, who would replace him? There is no fertile ground for democracy to take root. Modern Syria is, like most of the Arab states in the Middle East, an artificial construct, left behind from the remains of the Ottoman Empire after the first World War. Cobbled together by the British and French out of tribes that have been killing each other for a thousand years, since the original schism in the Muslim world. And apparently you can now throw al-Qaeda into that mix. What kind of coalition government would that toxic brew yield? And for how long?

I have no doubt that there are many peace loving, innocent Syrians who want to live in the 21st Century and not the Middle Ages. After all, most people everywhere just want to get along with their lives, watch their children grow, and age as gracefully as possible. Unfortunately, in Syria they have no power, nor any say in what happens to themselves or their state. Personally, I would pack all I could and head for the nearest border.

I'm afraid the slaughter of the innocents will continue for the foreseeable future, until all innocence is lost.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Arizona Roundup

Where to begin?

First, you've got the good folks running Prescott who don't think they should have to pay benefits to the survivors of all of the dead fire fighting "Hot Shots", because well, you know, some of the dead were part-time employees. They are, however, full-time dead.

These same good folks also want the hated Feds to pony up some FEMA dough to rebuild what was burnt down. The Feds said, "uh, no", the first time, which caused some of our outstanding Congressional delegation to have a hissy fit. Even though many of our sterling Republican congressmen voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims. 'Cause, you know, if it happens to you it's "just one of those things" but if it happens to me it's "a tragedy of epic proportions". Besides, rebuilding Yarnell is much more important than rebuilding the Eastern seaboard. Any fool knows that.

And speaking of fools, down south, near the border with Mexico, some self styled vigilante Patriot, defending the homeland against the invasion of brown skin people, almost got in a shoot out with a real deputy. Who was, you know, defending the homeland against the invasion of brown skin people. There's a joke there, somewhere...

For the life of me, I don't know why there aren't a whole flock of reality shows set along the Arizona-Mexico border. Somebody at the networks is missing out on a sure thing. Heavily armed nitwits are always entertaining--at least from a distance. Sylvester Stallone's career is proof of that. Throw in a few Border Patrol guys, some drones, and maybe a sexy Latina or two, and you've got Must See TV!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Belated Cultural Notes From All Over

Jess Walters' Beautiful Ruins is the best American novel I've read in years. Touches on all the big issues: love, loss, death, time, the urge to create, and how to be a successful Hollywood asshole. All with a wicked sense of humor. So get thee to a library, or bookstore (if you can find one that's still open), or push that one-click button on Amazon. Can't recommend it highly enough. Also can't wait to see how they screw up the movie version...because you know they probably will.

And speaking of movies, The Lone Ranger wasn't nearly as awful as preliminary reviews might indicate. In fact, it was not awful at all. Much more entertaining than Man of Steel or World War Zzzzz. The framing device is cleverly done and the Depp meister's spin on Tonto is inventive and fun. It is way too long--but not as oppressively so as some of its summer blockbuster competition. (How many times do we have to watch some super hero and his or her evil nemesis endlessly crash around Manhattan, trashing skyscrapers left and right? Jesus. Wreck Paris next time, or Rome. And what's the deal with zombies all of a sudden? I haven't gotten used to vampires and now it's zombies? Give an old man a break.)

Woody Allen's latest, Blue Jasmine, is an entertaining story about a woman whose life falls apart and her efforts to try and put it back together. The wonderful Cate Blanchett leads a strong cast, including Alec Baldwin, Louis CK and Andrew Dice Clay (!).  It isn't exactly a comedy, by the way, so don't expect a lot of yucks.

The Act of Killing, a documentary about Indonesian death squads, is alternately disturbing and funny in a truly surreal way. The most bizarre non-fiction film I've ever seen. There are indeed monsters amongst us.

On the TV front, The Newsroom has returned to rub a soothing balm on all of our liberal scabs. Unfortunately, this season is tending towards soap opera. If you didn't catch them the first time, the hysterically funny Veep and Christopher Guest's Family Tree are also worthy of your attention. Yes, after years of resistance, and not infrequent prodding from his loving family, Mr. Franklin has finally signed up for HBO. It's too damn hot to go outside, so why not stay inside and stare at the throbbing pixels?

Throbbing pixels? What a great name for a band! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hey, Whatever Happened To...

Hey, whatever happened to Benghazi?

This was going to be the scandal that brought down the Obama administration. Or prevented the Hillary Clinton administration. Or both!

Darrell Issa, super patriot, self-made multimillionaire, blah blah blah, was going to get to the bottom of "the cover-up". Remember? It was worse than Watergate! The worse scandal ever, etc etc. The Republicans were licking their collective chops, with both John "Maverick Is My Name" McCain, and his BFF, Lindsey "Belle of the South" Graham howling from the rooftops.

Then it turned out that the Republicans had gutted the State Department budget--including security--and maybe, just maybe, Benghazi was a CIA outpost. And you know how them foreigners love the CIA. Hmmm.

Hey, whatever happened to the IRS scandal?

This was going to be the scandal that brought down the Obama administration.  Worse than Watergate, etc etc.

Darrell Issa was going to blow the roof of it, expose the seamy inner workings of a corrupt President and his corrupt minions. Corruption!

Turns out the IRS is underfunded, understaffed, and swamped with requests for 501 c4 status from both left and right leaning groups. So the Tea Party wasn't being singled out for persecution after all. Hmmm.

It also turns out that Darrell Issa is kinda like one of his car alarms. Loud, repetitive, and ultimately an empty annoyance.

OK, but what about the NSA scandal! Surely this will bring down Obama...won't it?

But wasn't the Patriot Act pushed through by the Bush administration and a panicky Congress in the aftermath of 9-11? And, with all apologies to Edward Snowden, haven't people (at least those paying attention) known for years that the NSA--and our other intelligence agencies--gather massive amounts of information. On everyone, everywhere. Hmmm.

Now, we can and should have an open and informed discussion about whether this is the sort of thing that an allegedly "free" society should engage in. And how to best protect our right to privacy while still protecting the nation's security. But to pretend that this behavior is somehow unique to the Obama Administration is the sort of half-baked palaver that, well, people like Darrell Issa indulge in.

No, when the history of the Obama years is written, the biggest scandal will be how the Republican Party was held hostage by reactionary extremists, funded by a handful of greedy billionaires, and in return, how they held a country's future hostage because of their intense hatred of one man.

Now that's scandalous.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Signor Baseball's Mid Season Update

Hey, how 'bout those Astros?!

Just kidding...forget about baseball, the good folks of Houston are now focused on one thing and one thing only: being crushed emotionally when Dwight Howard doesn't lead them to the NBA championship.

But in those cities where Major League baseball is still being played, we're more than halfway through the season, so it must be time for Signor Baseball's Mid Season update.

Let's start with the NL West. The Diamondbacks have been a little better than I expected and the Dodgers and the Giants worse. That makes for a tight race, probably till the end. But I still expect the Arizona Grinders to fade (their starting pitching is thin and unless someone other than Goldschmidt starts driving in runs there isn't enough offense) and LA to prevail...I'm not sure what happened to San Francisco this year, but they are running out of time to fix it. And Yasiel Puig is either the second coming of Willie Mays or Willie Mays Aikens. Like most things in life, only time will tell...

In the NL Central Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are chasing St. Louis and will grab at least one, and maybe both, of the Wild Cards. Since my son is a long suffering Pirates' fan, I hope they can finally win something...Elsewhere, the seemingly eternal anguish of being a Cubs' fan continues. And Milwaukee's best player has been caught in the PED drag net. Time to bust out the cheesehead and Packers' jersey.

Atlanta has built a comfortable lead in the NL East, despite both Upton brothers' failures at the plate. After a torrid start, Justin has been stuck at .250 for months while BJ dreams of getting to .200. Fortunately they have enough other guys hitting and their usual solid pitching. The Nationals haven't lived up to the pre-season hype, but still have time to make a run at the Braves.  The Mets suck, but not nearly as much as the Marlins.

Biggest surprise: well, the Pirates were in first place for awhile. That hasn't happened since Bonds left town.

Biggest disappointments: the Dodgers had a lousy start, mostly due to injuries. But now they're starting to play the way a $200 million plus payroll should. I never bought into the hype about Washington, but everyone who did must be kinda pissed right now.

In the AL East, the Yankees have two engines on fire, the tail just fell off, and the landing gear won't come down. Other than that it's been a smooth flight. Joe Girardi ought to get some sort of award for staying close with the likes of Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner, Jason Nix, and some guy named Cruz filling in for Jeter, Granderson, and Texieira. Oh, and let's not forget a certain Mr. Alex "Ha Ha Ha You Still Owe Me 100 Million Bucks" Rodriguez, who may be suspended for 100 games--if he ever gets cleared to play in the majors. Still, Jeter and Granderson should be back soon, and it looks like a 4 team race. Boston, Baltimore and Tampa Bay aren't that much better than New York. With the way the rest of the AL looks, at least one of those teams will be a Wild Card, too. Up in Toronto, they spent a ton of money on new talent and expected to contend. As I write this, they are 14 games back. O, Canada!

Detroit is the class of the AL Central, but Cleveland and Kansas City are much closer than I expected. Though I don't think they'll catch the Tigers, the Indians still have a shot at a Wild Card slot. Minnesota hasn't played well since they moved to their new stadium and through hard work and diligence the White Sox have managed to have a worse record than the Cubs. Somewhere Ozzie Guillen is smiling.

And in the AL West, it looks like a two team race between the A's and the Rangers, with the loser having a shot at a Wild Card. Despite spending a boatload of Arte Moreno's money, the Angels can't seem to get out of first gear. This may lead to something drastic--like firing Mike Sciosia. Which would be too bad. He's a good manager in a very puzzling situation. In Seattle, Seahawks' training camp is just around the corner. And in Houston the Astros are neck and neck with the Marlins for the worst record in baseball. The more things change...

Biggest surprises: hard to believe anyone could win back to back Triple Crowns, but Miguel Cabrera just might. And, in his swan song, Mariano Rivera is having one of his best seasons ever.

Biggest disappointments: the Angels and the Blue Jays both spent a lot of money in the off season and they are both way, way, way, back. People lose their jobs over that sort of thing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Arizona has been in a drought for more than a decade. There is also a plague of bark beetles attacking whatever living trees they can find.

This leads to a lot of very dry wood.

Because both the state and the Feds can't seem to agree on (or pay for) the requisite forest clearing there's lots and lots of undergrowth to help stoke any fire that happens to start for whatever reason.

And because in Arizona we don't want no dang gubmint meddling in our lives, we allow people to build houses or park their trailers right in the middle of a tinderbox.

Inevitably someone throws a cigarette out of a car, or fails to put out a campfire, or maybe it's simply just a lightning strike. An "Act of God", the insurance companies call it.

It starts as just a spark.

Then the winds shift and lots of brave men die.

And The Arizona Republic gets to take a shot at finally winning a Pulitzer for reporting by running the same tragic stories over and over for weeks. I guess that's what they think "in depth" means.

Arizona's Governor, Jan "Chuck, Tell Me What To Do" Brewer, has asked the hated Feds for aid to help the victims of the fires. Arizona is already a net taker state, so what's a little more? I mean, come on, we're all in this together. Right?

Mrs. Brewer belongs to the Republican Party. You know, the party that demonizes unions just like the ones that fire fighters, policemen, and teachers belong to. Her party also loves to cut taxes and the necessary programs that taxes are used for. If there's a way to underfund something, by God we'll find it!

Welcome to Arizona. We may not want to pay to make your dangerous job a little easier or safer.

But we'll sure throw you a grand funeral.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Stand Your Ground, or: Getting Away With Murder

It goes without saying that the Zimmerman verdict is shocking.

But not particularly surprising.

The Florida law seems to be designed to protect the shooter.

And so, with no eye witnesses, and the other person involved dead, (and more importantly a black male), Georgie gets to walk away clean.

However, I have a feeling that the rest of his life (after the triumphant appearances on Fox News, of course), will be bitter.

And possibly brief...

Extra Credit: As an intellectual exercise, run through the possible legal scenarios if Zimmerman were a 30ish black man and Trayvon a white teenager.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"Never Give A Sucker An Even Break...

...Never smarten up a chump."

These very wise words were attributed to the great WC Fields, and through the years they have come in handy in many situations.

Today they are especially applicable to the entertaining saga of the Phoenix Coyotes vs the City of Glendale.

Apparently, there is still enough money floating around Glendale that the city can guarantee the hockey team millions each year.

Hooray, I say. Hooray! Besides, it's only money.

One of the ways the City of Glendale is exploring to cover up the growing gap in its finances that was caused almost entirely by the grand sports' schemes of the former Mayor Elaine Scruggs and her team of enabling halfwits--sorry, her friends on the city council is what I meant to say--is to sell some government buildings and then lease them back.

You might think this is a very stupid idea. But that just shows how little you understand about how government in Arizona works.

You might also think that, in regards to the city's involvement with the Coyotes, they should walk away from a bad deal, and not throw good money after bad. Oh, silly you!

Finally, you might wonder how a business that only guarantees an event on 11% of the available nights in a given year could be so important to the success of anything.

Asking questions like these just shows that you are simply not qualified to represent the good folks of Glendale, Arizona.

You see, out here in the untamed West, we believe that a city should be judged by its professional sports teams, and not, say,  by the quality of its schools, or public services, or arts, or the way it takes care of the least of its citizens, or even whether it actually owns its own Townhall.

No, the best way to measure cities is by how much money they can piss away on a mediocre hockey team before they've had enough.

And obviously, Glendale hasn't reached that breaking point yet...

The decision to throw even more money at the Coyotes was met with applause by the many fans who attended the city council vote. These happy hockey lovers then got in their cars and drove back to Mesa, or Gilbert, or Tempe, or Chandler, or Scottsdale, or Phoenix. Somewhere--anywhere--far, far away from the smoldering wreckage that is Glendale.

WC Fields was a very talented man. But I'm sure he never thought of himself as a visionary political theorist.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Everything is All Better Now, or: The South Has Risen

Thank God for the Supreme Court! Without them, and their omniscient wisdom, we'd all still think that racism was a problem here in the good old U S of A.

But no, it's most definitely not. We're past that. We're better than that. That was, after all, a long time ago. Now we're a post racial society.

Chief Justice John Roberts knows this. Just like he knew Citizens United was the right call. He's a very smart man.

Those of us who aren't as smart might think that the factors that made the Voting Rights Act necessary in the first place are still present and active in a large part of the United States.

We might think that the laws enacted by far wiser and better men than those who struck them down are still needed.

We might consider it a classic case of circular reasoning to say that the laws that made some progress possible are no longer needed because they made some progress possible. A simple person might argue that there would have been no progress at all without the laws and that to weaken them will unchain powerful, regressive forces.

For proof we would simply offer the fact that the election of President Obama unleashed a torrent of race based hatred. Hatred that is stoked on a daily basis by Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News creeps.

And that the day--the same day--the decision to strike down part of the law was announced--Texas moved ahead with a restrictive voter ID law that would not have been possible were the law intact.

But that's why we're not on the Supreme Court. We simply don't recognize all of the progress we've made.

We do not live in the same world as John Roberts.

PS If I woke up tomorrow to find Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito hanging from a tree with carrion birds pecking at their livers I would not shed a single tear. Except, perhaps, for the poor birds, which might die from ingesting something so vile.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"As American As Cherry Pie"

Old Rap Brown was right about that, at least...

Violence is as American as cherry pie.

So, it's only natural that we loves us our guns.

Don't you be touchin' our guns!

Maybe it's just that human beings have a strong blood lust.

Not all, of course.

But enough.

And it seems like many have landed here, in the land o' the free...

We Yankee Doodle Dandies have a lot of blood on our hands: Native American, African, Mexican, Phillipine. Each others.

To be fair, it takes a certain amount of violence to build an Empire.

And that kind of behavior gets ingrained in a culture. It also attracts a certain kind of people. Just ask Wayne "A Gun Is A Tool, And So Am I" LaPierre.

So, of course the older brother shoots the younger sister. And the teenager shoots his best friend. And, my personal favorite, the 4 year old shoots his Dad.

Bang Bang--you're dead!

They're just kids after all. They don't understand the consequences of their actions. And they've grown up in a Shoot 'em up society.

Forget that "In God We Trust" nonsense. "I Didn't Know It Was Loaded" should be our national motto.
Anton Chekhov's famous maxim about writing is this: "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be there."

We Americans, being uncomfortable with metaphors in general, and those coined by foreigners in particular, have taken Chekhov literally:  If there's a gun on the table, someone is going to get shot. Accidentally, of course.

And also, of course, there's nothing we can do about it...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Trent Franks, Defender of the Unborn

Is anyone surprised that Trent Franks said something stupid again? Didn't think so.

Take a good close look at Franks, yet another of Arizona's illustrious Congressmen.

Would you say he's one or two chromosomes shy of completeness? Yep.

Franks keeps getting re-elected for one reason and one reason only: his district includes all of the dried up douche bags, male and female, in Sun City.

These are people who haven't been fertile since the Truman administration. Yet they get all worked up over "the rights of the unborn".

The operative theory goes something like this: Fetuses have rights, old people have rights, everybody else who isn't rich and white can suck it.

And Trent Franks, who isn't as dumb as he looks (it's close though), knows how to pander to their fears with the usual litany of right wing paranoia: immigration, the black man in "our" White House, etc.

Normally, these are the "get the government off our backs!" crowd.  Why won't they just leave us alone!

Except when it comes to a woman's right to control her own reproductive system. Then the government should jump in with both jackbooted feet and punish the bitches!

These folks rely on government assistance of all kinds--but they hate the Federal government with a passion.

Oh, those meddlesome Feds, with their hot lunch programs, and Head Start, and public education, and welfare, and regulations, and taxes! Oh, don't get them started on taxes...

Get rid of all that stuff. It's socialism!

But keep your goddamn hands off our Social Security and our Medicare and our Medicaid!

It's cognitive dissonance like this that keeps the Trent Franks of the world in office.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Rick Renzi, former US Congressman from Arizona's "whatever" district, (my benighted home state has been gerrymandered almost beyond recognition and certainly well beyond any form of common sense, so it's really hard to keep track of which district is which. For instance, Renzi's district included parts of northern Arizona and stretched down to the Straits of Magellan as well), has been found guilty by a federal jury on 17 out of 32 counts, including racketeering, conspiracy and extortion. The Triple Crown of political corruption, as it were.

Seems like he used his elected position to force certain land swaps that generated money so that one of the participants could pay back Renzi a very large sum. Which is, after all, why we have a Congress in the first place.

Naturally Renzi, who is apparently one of those "law and order" Republicans who don't believe that the "law" part of that formulation should apply to them personally, will appeal. To quote one of his defense team, "We are pleased that the jury acquitted Mr. Renzi on 15 counts. We are disappointed by every guilty verdict. We will continue to fight these charges..."

Well, at least as long as the money holds out...

Renzi's new defense should include the time tested "what's the use of having a place at the table if you can't enjoy the buffet?"

He might also want to simply throw himself on the mercy of the court. See, Renzi has 12 children.

That's right, 12. As in a dozen.

So the brother needs every single buck he can get his hands on. Legally or illegally.

Based on the number of little Renzi's running around, his team might also want to explore an insanity defense.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Son

My son turns 18 today.

But that can't be possible. He was just born a couple of weeks ago.

He just took his first step, he just discovered cake and ice cream, he just started pre-school.

He just sang along to the Winnie the Pooh song.

He just saw his first movie.

He just learned to swim.

He just learned to throw a ball and ride a bike.

He just learned to read and quickly found out how wide and wonderful and magical the world can be.

He was just afraid of something in his room at night.

He just said "not all jokes are funny, Daddy."

He just made a few friends.

He just learned that not everyone is nice, but you should try to be nice to everyone.

He just won an Ultimate Frisbee state championship. He just won another.

He just fell in love for the first time. He just had his heart broken for the first time.

Next week he will graduate from high school, with honors.

Then I suppose it's off to college and out into the world.

And Mrs. Franklin and I sit and wonder at just how fast time can fly...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Democracy In The 21st Century

We've got a lot of nerve, trying to export "democracy" abroad when we no longer practice it at home.

"Chutzpah", I think our Jewish friends would call it.

For instance, in the US Senate, a simple majority is no longer considered a majority. No, now you need a "super" majority. Why? Just because the Republicans want it that way...or else they'll filibuster everything. Why? Because they still can. (We can thank, dear, trusting, simple minded Harry Reid for that one.)

OK,  what about gun control? Having approximately 90% of the populace supporting some kind of new regulations should be enough, right? Au contraire, mon frere! The NRA doesn't want any changes and what the NRA wants the NRA gets. Wayne "A Gun Is A Tool And So Am I" LaPierre and his bags full of cash make sure of that.

Depending on how the questions are phrased, the majority of the American people also support abortion rights, gay marriage, green energy, sensible immigration reform, high speed rail, rebuilding the infrastructure, higher taxes for the rich, closing corporate tax loopholes, health care reform, cutting the defense budget, and a long list of other "progressive" actions.

So what's the problem? Guess.

That we are still arguing, and, as a result, stalemated over these issues is indicative of one thing:

Money trumps democracy almost every time. And the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case has only made the situation exponentially worse.

Forget all that one man one vote, land of the free, "We the People" nonsense.

Money trumps democracy almost every time.

That is the one thing we really should teach the kids in school. That and Mandarin.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chinese Lightbulbs

Everything falls apart, eventually.

That is a given.

For proof look no further than your bathroom mirror. What stares back at you now as compared to what stared back at you last week, or last year, or 10 years ago?

With time, and the proper medication, we can expect and accept that sort of decay....

However, when things fall apart long before they should, long before they once did, well, that's a horse of a different color.

As a society, we seem to be on an endless quest to find cheaper ways to do things.

Cheaper is not always better, the Wal Mart family's fortune to the contrary.

Cheaper usually involves lower wages, lax safety and environmental standards, poorer quality, compromises all along the line.

It is cheaper to pollute. It is cheaper to let infrastructure decay. It is cheaper to incarcerate.

In the short run.

It is always cheaper and easier to do nothing.

One thing we can be sure of: somewhere, someone is making a killing off of cheaper.

And that profit is used to buy a Congress full of short-sighted grifters, libertarian nihilists, religious hypocrites, corporate toadies, and just plain, run of the mill imbeciles.

And once that bought and paid for Congress convinces us that we as a nation can't afford to do the things that once made us great, well, heaven help us all.

If they are allowed to, it only takes a handful of very rich folks to impoverish a multitude of regular folks.

Everything falls apart.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Welcome To The George W. Bush Presidential Library; Please Switch Off Your Brains

They opened up the George W. Bush Presidential Library the other day.

Is this a great country, or what?

Here's a guy who was without question a total disaster as President. And believe me, having lived through Nixon, Reagan, and Bush the Elder, I have a fairly high threshold for disasters.

But Simple W. set the bar at a level that one hopes will never be approached again. Let us count the ways:

Asleep at the switch for 9-11 whilst cuddling up with his Saudi soul mates; dropped the ball on Bin Laden's pursuit at Tora Bora at the same time his administration was legitimizing torture; bait and switch war in Iraq that cost us more than a trillion dollars, not to mention all the death, dismemberment, and PTSD; turned a budget surplus into a huge deficit with his tax cuts; watched Wall Street run wild because he believed in the beauty of the unregulated "free market"; half-assed response to Katrina; wanted to privatize Social Security; shit all over the Constitution every chance he got..Jesus, the list goes on and on, but I'm starting to have flashbacks...

So anyway, because it's de rigueur for former Presidents, Incurious George gets himself a library. Keep in mind, this is a fella who probably hasn't read anything since My Pet Goat and very little before.

Now, there's a very good reason for this: Books are sometimes filled with facts, and facts can get messy. And since Bush's administration decided early on that they would create their own reality, it is only natural that the George W. Bush Presidential Library would be dedicated to the completely counter factual narrative that Bush was a great leader, a great President, and a great American.

Shortly after Obama was elected the first time, a billboard appeared by the highway in the desert near Yuma, Arizona. It featured  the beaming face of George W. Bush and the words "Do You Miss Me Yet?"

Of course the only sane answer to that would be "No, no we don't. Not now, not ever."

Fortunately for W. (and the Bush family in general), the American people have a tremendous capacity to forgive, but an even greater capacity to forget.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


The U.S. Senate reached a new low today. Every single one of the Senators that voted against the background checks bill should be filled with shame -- but of course, they are not.

Blood is on their hands.

I, for one, am ashamed to be a U.S. citizen today.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Gun-damentalists

In the beginning was the Gun. 

And they saw that it was good.

They tell me that the Chinese invented gunpowder. But the stupid bastards only used it for fireworks!

Now, I like fireworks as much as the next guy. Hell, everybody likes fireworks--they're fun!

But not nearly as much fun as shooting someone.

And that just proves the superiority of the European mind. 'Cause once they got gunpowder from the Chinese, fireworks were the last thing on their minds.

No, the goal was to kill stuff. Primarily other Europeans. At least at first.

But then quickly followed by Africans, and Indians--both feather and dot, and Arabs, and Persians, and Polynesians, and Aborigines, and Asians, including a few Chinese. Ironic, ain't it?

That's what we call progress: Getting more efficient at killing each other.

Sometimes this leads to a little thing called genocide, but hey, like the man said "stuff happens."

Now here in the good ole U.S. of A, we got us some folks who believe that the Constitution consists entirely of the Second Amendment. And not even all of the Second Amendment. No, just the part that says, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The part that comes before that, the part that says "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" might as well have never been written.

Because "well regulated" obviously means laws, and laws about guns are anti-American. Also, in this context, "militia" means what today we call the National Guard.

Fortunately, Wayne "A Gun Is A Tool, And So Am I" LaPierre and the NRA are here to defend our right "to bear arms."

So it doesn't matter how many schools, or shopping malls, or movie theatres get shot up. Doesn't matter what a bullet fired from 30 shot clip in a high velocity rifle does to a 6 year old's body. Or anybody's body. Doesn't matter if the majority of the American people have had enough of the slaughter.

'Cause Wayne and his gun manufacturing buddies have bought off enough Congressmen to stop all this gun control nonsense.

What about the "will of the people"?  Don't be naive.

No, Goddammit, we don't want no gubmint regulatin' us.  We will regulate ourselves, thank you very much! And if we want our own assault rifles and unlimited ammunition, then Goddammit we will have them!

And if you're worried about your safety, then Goddammit, buy your own assault rifle!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Signor Baseball's 2013 AL Preview

For a moment, please stop sharpening your spikes, greasing your mitt, and boning your bat, because it's time for Signor Baseball's 2013 American League preview:

In the East, is this the year the Evil Empire finally crashes and burns? Boy, it sure looks like it. These days, just putting on a Yankee uniform makes you eligible for Medicare. Jeter, Teixeira, Granderson, and Hughes, are all hurt. And let's not forget A-Rod who is contractually owed the equivalent of the GDP for sub-Saharan Africa, who is recovering from yet another surgery, and whose production has fallen off so drastically it makes grown men weep. Grown men named Steinbrenner, at least. All in all, a tough way for Mariano Rivera to go out. Remember, "life isn't fair." If, and it's a bigger "if" than even Kipling could imagine, if the Yankees can somehow hang in there, it could be a five team race well into September. Toronto bought out the Marlin fire sale, Baltimore looks like they are for real, Tampa is still loaded with talent, and the Red Sox have to be better than the Bobby Valentine debacle made them look. Don't they? Any of these teams could finish first--or last. Or anywhere in between. So...allow an old man a final wish: to see Mr. Rivera on the mound, saving meaningful games in last time. Because when he's gone, there won't be another like him.

In the Central, everybody is playing for second place behind Detroit. Except the Twins, who will be playing not to finish last. Even though they looked bad in the Series, the Tigers are still ahead of the rest of the division in talent--especially starting pitching. The five year rebuilding plan in Kansas City has gone on for most of a decade--but finally seems to be yielding results, though probably not enough to catch Detroit. In Chicago they will try to put last year's late season floundering behind them. This is sometimes easier said than done. And according to the laws of probability, Cleveland has to get better eventually...I think. In the meantime, Mark Reynolds has brought his "feast or famine, but mostly famine" act to the shores of Lake Eerie. And, if things get too ugly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still a short walk from Jacobs Field. Up in Lake Woebegone, the Twins opened up a nice, new, ballpark just in time for the team to completely fall apart. Life is funny like that...

Out West, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim spent a fortune last year with nothing much to show for it. They got out the checkbook again in the off season and this year it will pay off. Maybe. Maybe not. The recent history of big spending teams has been spotty, to say the least. In Oakland, the A's are experts at working and winning with very little money. Perhaps it's time to let Billy Beane have a go at the Federal deficit...Down Texas way, the Rangers had their chances the last few years and blew them. Now, they will have to scramble to be in the Wild Card race. In Seattle, the Mariners are getting better, but don't look nearly strong enough to compete in this division. And finally, what is there to say about the newest members of the American League, the Houston Astros? Nothing at all.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Signor Baseball's 2013 NL Preview

The Winter has flown by, erratic weather and all, Spring is in the air, and to top it off, they tell me Christ has risen. So get ready to re-tear that rotator cuff, re-pull that groin, and renew your faith in our National Pastime! Yes, moms and dads, boys and girls, and children of all ages, it's time for Signor Baseball's 2013 National League preview:

In the East, Atlanta and Washington have the edge over the aging Phillies. One should win the division and the other should be a lock for a wild card. Personally, I hope Justin Upton hits 40 homers and wins the MVP award. And I don't even like the Braves. In DC, that Harper kid and Strasburg Unchained will be fun to watch. Of course, Philadelphia does still have a lot of talent, so if everybody stays healthy--which is highly unlikely--and the Nationals or Braves falter even a little, the Phils could squeeze past them. If not, maybe the Yanks can buy Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard at the trading deadline. The Mets don't have much (healthy) pitching and very little offense, so it will be neck and neck with them and the fire sale Marlins as to which team finishes last. At least one half of the population of New York City will be miserable all Summer long, but based on the attendance figures for Florida, hardly anyone down there will notice or care. So maybe, if things loosen up in a few years, the Marlins can move to Havana, where people really do love baseball.

In the Central, it looks like another year where being a couple of games over .500 will keep you in the race until the bitter end. The Cards and Reds should trade off first place throughout the Summer, with the Pirates and Brewers just a little behind them. For what it's worth, Cincinnati always seems to find a way to falter in the clutch and St. Louis doesn't.  In long suffering Chicago...well...Cubs' fans will continue to suffer. In a just world this wouldn't happen to such fine folks. But, as John F. Kennedy was heard to say, "life isn't fair." I still expect Theo Epstein to build a winner in "the city of broad shoulders". Though maybe not in my lifetime. One thing is for certain: Houston will not finish last in the NL Central this year. Because the Astros are moving to the AL West, taking their patented brand of AAA baseball to the Junior Circuit. Where they will finish last.

And in the West, the Giants are defending World Champions again, the Dodgers spent a billion dollars, and the Diamondbacks traded their best all around player. Oh, and for some, possibly gritty, reason, Arizona likes to keep their best outfielder in reserve--just in case. Like Donald Sutherland's "Oddball" character in Kelley's Heroes. After an off season purge, my home team is loaded top to bottom with "character" guys and "grinders".  Now, if only they could play baseball a little better...The Giants don't have as much offense as the Dodgers, at least on paper. I also like LA's pitching a little more than San Francisco's, so take the Dodgers first, the Giants hot on their tails, the D-Backs, with their questionable starting rotation and line-up du jour, a furlong back, and the Rockies and Padres fighting it out for last. Sure, "the last shall be first", but not in this world. On the other hand, Denver and San Diego are beautiful places to spend the Summer, so it's not all bad for their fans.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Groundhog Day

You've got to hand it to the Republicans, they are nothing if not persistent.

Like a particularly avid suitor, they just won't take "No" for an answer.

They got their asses handed to them in the general election. They lost the presidency badly. They lost seats in the Senate. And, make no mistake about it, if they hadn't gerrymandered every district in each state they control, they would have lost the House, too.

Yet they immediately re-introduce the exact same measures the voters overwhelmingly rejected in November.

Well, maybe not "exact". In some cases they've made them worse. Because that's the way the modern Republican mind works, I guess.

Never underestimate their ability to take a bad idea, and fine tune it until it is truly awful.

It doesn't matter what the voters want, because being a Republican in the 21st Century means that you really don't trust democracy.

So, scream all you want about the need for gun control, minority rights, gay marriage, universal heath care, a woman's right to control her own body, and the sanctity of Medicare and Social Security.

You might as well be talking to the wall.

The truth is, we're all Bill Murray, and we get to live through this crap again. And again. And again.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard

For a moment I thought I'd stumbled onto the funniest political satire I've heard in years.

The most absurd, illogical nonsense offered up with a straight face. I was reminded of that Python bit about the Really Loony Party. Superb daftness.

Then it dawned on me that I was watching taped coverage of CPAC.

And they really mean that shit.

Ted "And You Thought Rick Perry Was The Biggest Asshole In Texas" Cruz and Rand "The Federal Government Is Worthless And That's Why I Fit Right In" Paul.

Sarah "Pay Me My Money Down" Palin and Ann "If I Were Just A Little More Feminine I'd Pass As A Female Impersonator" Coulter.

And let's not forget Louis "I'm No More Crazy Than The People Who Elected Me" Gohmert.


I mean, WOW!

Calling CPAC a freak show is insulting to sideshow freaks everywhere.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Former United States' Supreme Court associate justice Sandra Day O'Connor has written a new book!

It should be called:

"Memoirs of another Republican hack, who--and don't you dare call it affirmative action--though not even remotely qualified, somehow found herself on the Supreme Court, and managed to help subvert democracy by appointing George W. Bush President even though the other guy got more votes, including in Florida, but that's not judicial activism, because I'm a conservative."

But, alas, it is not...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"It Kills Me Not To Be There In The White House"

So sayeth Willard Mitt Romney.

Putting aside for a moment that it would kill most of the rest of us to have him in the White House, not to mention the irreparable damage it would do to what's left of the Constitution, the social safety net, the Middle Class, and on and on, I have a simple solution to Mitt's malaise:

Take some of that money you have hidden in the Caymans, or Switzerland, or under the floor boards of the Temple in Salt Lake, you know, the fortune you made stripping companies, outsourcing jobs, and ladling on crippling debt--all the while paying yourself enormous consulting fees--and build yourself your own personal Really White House!!!

Then you and Ann and Tagg, and Slagg, and Gagg, and Ragg, and all the rest, including the dancing horse, can pretend to be POTUS and FLOTUS and all their little JERKUSes!!! Delusional fantasies are fun!! You'd think a Mormon would understand that.

So Willard, stop whining! Don't forget, you're a doer, not a taker.

Besides, there might be a pretty penny in this for you. All those people who have never accepted that we have a, gasp, black President, need a place to go. Charge admission. Pretend to govern. Make treaties. Hold state dinners. Enact imaginary laws to benefit your rich buddies.The possibilities are endless.

I tell you, there's money to be made. Lots and lots of money. And where you hide it is nobody's business but yours.

God Bless America!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Back To The Future, or: Sequester This

And so we are where we started.


With a government hamstrung by a few fanatic lunatics, who owe their allegiance not to the wishes of a majority of the American people, but to a handful of corporate interests and/or their own misguided interpretations of the Constitution.

Fanatics who take their marching orders from a bloated, bilious, radio talking head, an anti-tax lobbyist, the simpering mouthpiece of the gun manufacturers, and, "angels and ministers of grace defend us", the ghost of Ayn Rand!

Oh my.

Now, on top of everything else, Supreme Court justice Antonin "Clarence Thomas Is My Bitch" Scalia, who is just barely, recognizably human, tells us that protecting the rights of African-Americans to vote amounts to a "racial entitlement." This after the Republican Party spent an entire election cycle trying to figure out new ways to suppress the black vote--something which Republican controlled state legislatures gleefully continue to do 24-7.

Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Arizona's Big Advantage

Recently, the Arizona Republic featured the latest in a series of articles that pop up every few years highlighting Arizona's economic "advantages" over California.

Ha Ha Ha.

The articles always boil down to two things: lower taxes and lower wages. As in "please move your business to Arizona, where you'll pay less taxes and you won't have to pay your employees a decent wage!"

So please overlook the fact that our public schools are battling it out with Alabama and Mississippi in a close race to the bottom. Please forget that our legislature is controlled by gun nuts, birthers, and the "build the dang fence" Tea Party crowd. Please forget that our health care system is broken and our arts organizations are always on life support.

Because those things don't really enter into "quality of life" now do they?

No, the important thing is that if you come here, you'll pay less in taxes and less in wages and imagine what that will do for your bottom line!!

Gee, I wonder what kind of employers that sort of thinking attracts?

And I wonder what that does to what's left of the middle class? 

And the roads and schools and all the other services that taxes pay for?

But, as my late mother used to say, "beggars can't be choosers", so what the hell, Welcome to Arizona!!!"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Is There No One Else?"

The various Republican responses to the State of the Union speech brought something sharply into focus: Every time the Grand Oligarch's Party sends someone out to debate, attack, or counter President Obama, I'm reminded of a scene from Troy.

Early in the movie, Achilles (Brad Pitt), is to battle, mano y mano, with the best the other side has to offer. Of course, because he's Achilles and Brad Pitt,  he dispatches his larger, seemingly more powerful rival with shocking ease and an almost carefree nonchalance. Then, he stands facing the rest of the enemy army and says, challenging and mocking them in the same breath, "Is there no one else? Is there no one else?"

Mitt "I Really Didn't Want To Be President Anyway" Romney?

Marco "Always Remember To Hydrate" Rubio?

Rand "Yes, By God, I Believe This Shit!" Paul?

John "Weepy" Boehner?

Mitch "Corn Pone" McConnell?

John "Did I Mention I Was A POW?" McCain?

Lindsey "Belle of the South" Graham?

"Is there no one else?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Cold Day In Hell

It should by now be obvious to anyone who follows these things that only very, very rich people can afford to own sports teams.

It should be equally obvious to anyone who has followed the story of the Phoenix Coyotes that their latest prospective owner is not very, very rich. And it's that extra "very" that makes all the difference in the world.

Even with a guarantee of $15 million per year from the City of Glendale for "managing" arena, and a year's time to get his investors lined up, Mr. Greg Jamison couldn't get the necessary jack together to satisfy the NHL and become the latest in a long line of folks who thought they could do something despite all the available evidence to the contrary.

My late father-in-law used to say that "if you take a laborer, and beat all the sense out of him, then you have a truck driver." I mention this only because Mr. Jerry Moyes, owner of Swift Trucking, lost by his own estimation $200 million trying to keep the Coyotes afloat. Of course, he had a lot more dough than Jamison (but not nearly so good a deal with Glendale, by the way. Curious that.) But the old saying "throwing good money after bad" applies even to the extremely wealthy.

So, for the time being at least, there's still a hockey team in Glendale, Arizona--many miles away from the majority of its fan base in the East Valley, owned by the league, drawing half filled arenas most nights--that sensible people won't even consider investing in unless the good citizens of Glendale agree to subsidize them.

Glendale got into this pickle thanks to the visionary Mayor, Elaine Scruggs. She is gone now, of course. And, naturally, on her way out the door, crawling from the wreckage as it were, she voiced her disapproval of the city's deal with the Coyotes. Once again, I am reminded of Eisenhower warning about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex after standing by for 8 years while the Military Industrial Complex took root. But better late than never, I guess.

Anybody know a sucker who's also a billionaire?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Only Thing You Need To Know

The only thing you need to know about the Republican Party as it is currently constituted:

When you are crazy, you don't get better.

You don't get saner all of a sudden.

You may, however, at any given moment, get crazier. Much crazier.

And that's when the fun begins!

Once upon a time, there was only one political party, "the property party", as Gore Vidal memorably described it. Oh, the Democratic wing was a little more liberal and the Republican wing a little more conservative, but they both had essentially the same vision of and for America.

Now...? Well, now one "wing" has been taken over by a bunch of anti-government, anti-tax, anti-minority, anti-union, anti-science, anti-education, anti-progressive, antediluvians.

That's a lot to be against. Most of the 20th Century, in fact.

What are they "for"? They are definitely pro-gun and pro-Bible. Oh, they claim to be pro-life, too, but what they really mean is pro-patriarchy/anti-women. You know, "Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen."

They accept no "facts" except their own. They accept no history except their own. And, because of this, they believe all sorts crazy things.

But, as I was reminded while watching The Who in concert last night, you shouldn't try to go backwards. It can be very painful.  More importantly, it is, ultimately, pointless.

The world moves in one direction. And nostalgia can be deadly. Especially when the things you are so nostalgic for never really happened--at least not in the ways you imagined they did.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Pitching, Defense, and 3 Run Homers

Earl Weaver believed that baseball was "pitching, defense, and 3 run homers." This won him a lot of games, but might have cost him two World Series. A bunt here or there may have beaten the Pirates in 1971 and '79.

Because of a family connection (my mother was a first cousin of his, but she was 12 years older and there were a lot of Weavers, so they weren't particularly close), I met Weaver in 1969, just as the Orioles started their great run.

We would drive over to Anaheim for the Orioles' yearly visit to play the Angels. We stayed at the Grand Hotel, same as the team, and would often share a meal, usually breakfast, with Earl.

Coors and tomato juice. Cigarettes. And flirting with the waitress. Those are my most vivid memories of breakfast with Earl.

Then there was the evolution of his personal style. When I first met him, he sported what looked to be a suit from Sear's and a haircut from the corner barber shop. Fitting for a minor league "lifer". As the years passed, and the Orioles became the team in the AL, the suits became more tailored, the shoes sported exotic leathers, and, for awhile there in the 70's, I'm pretty sure the hair was permed.

Weaver was the first manager to rely on an in-depth statistical breakdown of every pitch thrown, every ball hit, every possible match-up, and how they might affect his strategy. He used this knowledge to put players in situations where they had the best chance to succeed.

Other managers platooned before him. Hell, Casey Stengel won a bunch of pennants with the Yankees by mixing an ever changing assortment of role players and spot starters with DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and Ford. But if Stengel used any charts, they were all kept somewhere in that amazin' head of his.

Nowadays, every team has a room full of sabre metricians working around the clock to crunch numbers, looking for that edge, or that undervalued player. Every pitch and every swing are recorded, cataloged, and endlessly analyzed. Weaver's success paved the way for much of that.

Weaver, and his contemporary--and sometimes bitter rival--Billy Martin, were also two of the greatest umpire baiters in major league history. Thank God for You Tube, where some of Earl's best work in this field has been preserved for eternity.

Earl Weaver's Orioles played the game the right way. They seldom beat themselves. For 15 plus years they were always in the race. 6 division titles, 4 pennants, 1 World championship.

He probably wouldn't last nearly as long these days. The umpire baiting, the drinking, it would be too easy a target for these TMZ, 24 hour Sports Center, times. He'd spend his time apologizing or on probation.

Rest in peace Earl, the world is a duller place without you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Era Of Liberalism Is Back!

Boy, if only that were true!

Mitch "There Was A Turtle In The Woodpile" McConnell, R-Heart o' Dixie, is screaming from the roof tops that his dreaded enemy, "liberalism" is making a comeback, aided and abetted by that uppity colored man in the White House. (OK, he didn't say all of that, but you know he thinks it.)

I'm sure his breathless screed was designed to appeal to his base, the gun lovin', God fearin', anti-science, xenophobic, Hillbilly freak show that makes up the heart of today's Republican Party.

To McConnell's "warning" I can only respond, WE SHOULD BE SO LUCKY.

Ya'll remember liberalism, don't ya?

Unions and the creation of the Middle Class.


Child labor laws.

40 hour work week, with weekends off.

Public works.

GI Bill.

Minimum wage.

Voting Rights.

Social Security.


Public Education.

Minority rights.

Protecting the environment.

These were all products of liberalism and its twin, progressivism.

McConnell's party, on the other hand, champions tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and unlimited assault rifles and ammo for everyone else.

You choose.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Flea Wags Dog

I know it's early, but I have a strong candidate for my Arizona Republic headline of the year:

"Biden, NRA find little consensus...neither yields in White House meeting."

See, because Americans are so damn good at shooting each other, much better than all of those second rate, socialist countries that we despise, we have to have meetings at the highest levels of the government and with all concerned parties to try and figure out a way to maybe slow down the slaughter of the innocents a little bit. Or at the very least make it somewhat more difficult. More "sporting" if you will..

And the NRA, as one of the chief funding mechanisms of the Republican Party, is obviously a concerned party, with all the attendant thoughts and proposals that concerned parties have.

Now, because I don't have to be as polite as, say, Vice President Biden, my first response was "who gives a fuck what the NRA thinks?"

Because, hey, I already know what the NRA thinks: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." And "lots of guns good--more guns better!" "From my cold dead hands", etc etc.

The NRA, after all, is a lobbying organization whose chief goal is to enrich the gun manufacturers of the world. If they could figure out a way to get .50 caliber machine guns into the hands of each freedom loving, Second Amendment defending American, they would gladly do it. Imagine the profit margin on a machine gun!  Just the thought of it, and the nice rewards he would get from its manufacturers must make Wayne "A Gun Is A Tool--And So Am I" LaPierre all gooey inside.

What I didn't realize, though, is that apparently the NRA is also an equal branch of the government.

They not only get a seat at the table, they get to dictate policy! At least for their Republican underlings. And the handful of Democrats that act like they were Republicans, of course. You know who you are.

See, according to the NRA, when Madison, Jefferson, Mason, Hamilton and the rest were drawing things up, they wanted the guys who represented the flintlock manufacturers to have a say in how many and what kind of flintlocks each free white male could own.

Everybody knows that. My God, the right to bear arms is the sole basis of our freedom. And blah, blah, blah...

Here's the deal: assault rifles and 30 clip pistols are not for hunting or self defense. They are for killing lots of people as quickly as possible. The folks who feel they need them for protection, especially from the Feds, are mentally defective in some fundamental way. Paranoid, delusional, psychopathic--pick one. They have a deep seated fear of "the other" of "them."

If you want to blame it on video games, fine. But make sure you blame the Bible, too. It's full of violence, especially the Old Testament. And let's not forget Shakespeare. Somebody is getting murdered every time you turn the page. When you get right down to it we are a barbarous species. And we should never make it easier for us to indulge our killing instinct.

Hey, here's an idea for a TV reality show: let all the assault rifle lovin', Black Helicopter fearing, Federal 'gubmint' hating, minority despising homophobes buy all the AR-15's and ammo that they want, send them up to Idaho and let's see how long they last against a couple of platoons of Marines with air support. If the Marines are busy elsewhere, just send a couple of drones.

Good clean fun for the whole family. Make that Hillbilly Hand Fishin' show look like a bunch of inbred, genetic mutants. Oh, wait...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Point Of Pride

Fanfare please!

In case you missed it, Arizona leads the nation in cuts to education!!!

Was there ever any doubt?

Since almost everyone agrees that education is the key to our future, this might seem like really bad news.

And it would be, if we cared about the future...

But that's not how we roll in the Grand Canyon State!

To Hell with the future, we want to live in an imaginary, libertarian past.

So sure, it would be nice for Arizona to be first in funding for education, but let's face it, that's never, ever going to happen.

However, there is a silver lining:

Being the worst guarantees a surplus of stupid people, which is good news for all of the minimum wage paying employers.

And, in addition to being stupid, many of them will also be angry, and those two qualities combined guarantees a strong Republican Tea Party base for a long, long time.

So it's a win win for Arizona!