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.