Sunday, August 31, 2014
To counteract all the media attention focused on the events in Ferguson, MO, Fox News is devoting itself to 24/7 ginned-up outrage about all the media coverage.
In Fox's view, the media (i.e. everyone but them) has "played the race card" and "inflamed racial tensions" by merely reporting the facts of the story, and everything would have been so much better if it was never reported at all and everybody just shut up.
Their take on the matter:
"We're tired of hearing about racism. Don't you black people know that slavery is over? We gave you your freedom. You can vote and go to school and hold a job, just like us. OK, an unarmed black teen with his hands up was shot six times by a white cop. That's not racism, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Stop whining!"
To paraphrase Jon Stewart:
If the privileged white pundits at Roger Ailes' Fear Factory are so tired of hearing about racism, imagine how fucking exhausting it must be to live with it every day.
The latest campaign ad for John Kasich features "Lieutenant Steve", a pretend police officer with no last name and no uniform, just a blue shirt and a mustache.
Lt. Steve begins by reminding us that when Kasich took office, "He upset a lot of working people, including me." Yes, Kasich said cops were idiots, said he was at war against public employees and their unions, wanted to cut your pay and benefits, and take away your labor rights. I can imagine how "upset" -- not to mention violently pissed off -- you must have been.
Then Lt. Steve turns strangely forgiving, saying that Kasich is tough but OK, because "he listened." Listened to who? Union-busters, the Koch brothers, frackers, coal companies, Rupert Murdoch, and the ghost of Ayn Rand. He sure as hell didn't listen to working people like you, Lt. Steve! He tried to crush you, but since our repeal of his SB 5 allowed the continued protection of your rights and wages and benefits, now you say you're going to vote for him because . . .
"Before Kasich, Ohio was a mess." Non-specific and highly debatable, but if you're referring to the financial crisis caused by the Great Crash of 2008 (Thanks, Dubya!), then every state was in the same mess. And just like other states, Ohio -- and John Kasich -- has benefited from our steady national economic recovery. Largely a matter of good timing.
So what did the Wonder Guv supposedly do for you? "Kasich's tax cuts help the middle class." Oh please, cut the crap! There's no help to the middle class. He gave us a small income tax cut, which primarily benefits businesses and higher incomes. He simultaneously gave us a state sales tax increase, which is detrimental to the middle class and lower incomes.
"Kasich's tough." My dear, dumb, fake Lt. Steve -- you're mistaking rigid, axiomatic ideology for toughness.
Three years ago, John Kasich's attempted union-busting blew up in his face at the polls, and he couldn't have been elected dog catcher. But now, thanks mainly to weak opposition, he'll be reelected without breaking a sweat. A pity. Voters have such short memories.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Fox & Friends morning show host Steve Doocy recently asked right-tard columnist Linda Chavez if calling Michael Brown an "unarmed teen" was a misleading description. This has to be one of the most fact-defying questions ever!
Chavez said, well yeah, because "the description of 'the unarmed teen shot by a white cop' actually colors the way in which we look at this story. We're talking about a man [Brown] who is 6'4" and weighs almost 300 pounds." Doocy nodded vigorously in agreement.
She never said how the story should be described, but her point was that a big scary black man without a gun actually is armed because he's still, you know, a big scary black man. He's armed with himself. He's his own weapon.
The text on the screen shot says "Media Bias," and it's filthy home is Fox News. It is their reason for being. We should not expect any more from a show whose host is named for a bowel movement.
It's a tragedy for the people involved, and the obvious question, already asked by many, is:
Why put an Uzi in the hands of a 9 year-old girl? Why?
There are other questions:
Why put an Uzi in the hands of anyone? (Exceptions for military and police.)
Why is it legal for the general public to possess, let alone use, an Uzi?
Why are there shooting ranges where Uzis and other military weapons can be fired? By anyone?
Why do some people think this promotes "self-defense" or "safety"? (Sure wasn't too safe for that poor instructor.)
Why do some people think firing a machine gun is "fun"? (The instructor isn't having fun now, nor is the little girl.)
Why do some people insist that all this safe, fun gun shooting is their "right"?
Why do some people feel the need to provocatively parade around and openly carry their assault weapons wherever they go?
Please don't talk to me about the wholesome family bonding that occurs when dear old dad and little Timmy and little Susie grab their rifles and go hunting together. That's not the issue or the problem.
The problem is that the NRA and its ilk have pandered to far-right wing-nut paranoia for so long that everything is twisted and, for too many, insanity now seems reasonable. Any common-sense line in the sand about who ought to have what has been erased.
Nine-year-olds with Uzis? The 2nd Amendment says yes! Then why stop there? Why not ten-year-olds with B-52 bombers? Why not eleven-year-olds with nuclear weapons?
Our American gun policies are insane.
"In the quarter-century since he was nailed, Rose has ignored nearly everything that the commissioner's office has recommended he do to clear a path toward reinstatement. Baseball wants to see a reformed gambler and a model citizen. Rose can be found most days at a sports book in Las Vegas, ramming his foot in his mouth like his teeth are Ray Fosse."
Pete Rose was once a tremendous baseball player. He's always been a selfish, show-off, asshole liar, and still is to this day. Which is his main problem.
Click the link for Arace's full commentary.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Stopped by our usual gathering spot on Friday evening. A couple of the conversations among the patrons were focused on the events in Ferguson, MO, and the "hands up" gesture at the start of the Washington-Cleveland NFL game. I did not care to join in, but from what I overheard, the tone was fairly ugly.
But now I'd like to say, yeah, I can believe it. And I can understand it, and I can sympathize, and I can agree with the protesters, and I can appreciate their anger. Why can't you?
|Washington-Cleveland preseason game|
And you really can't believe that the citizens of Ferguson, and the entire country, might be just a trifle upset?
Can't you see that?
Michael Brown was buried today. Time for a change.
Friday, August 22, 2014
. . . I challenge it to pull its head out of its ass!
|Jimmy Fallon & the Tonight Show gang, NYC|
|Eastern Kentucky University administrators|
|Copley Square, Boston|
|Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Paul, MN|
|USA men's basketball team, Chicago|
It's a great cause and everyone is having fun with it, except for the Cincinnati Catholic Diocese. These curmudgeons are opposed to the ALS Association because some of their money funds embryonic stem cell research, a process which, according to the Diocese, "destroys embryonic life." (Embryonic stem cells used in research are leftovers from infertility treatments and would otherwise be flushed down the drain. They are days-old, microscopic bits of protoplasm, not viable "life".)
What possible good can come from the Diocese's objection? The Catholic church has a terrific talent for picking the wrong side of social issues.
|Cincinnati Diocese: "We do not approve. Harrumph!"|
About a month ago, I read an article in a business magazine about a guy named Dennis Jones and his boat, and some thoughts are still lingering.
Dennis Jones is a billionaire, retired from owning a pharmaceutical company. He annually donates over $2 million to various charities.
His boat, the D'Natalin IV, is a 164-foot superyacht. Jones recently spent $34 million to have it built by Christensen Yachts of Vancouver, Washington.
|The D'Natalin IV|
That's where I had to get off. I have no problem with Dennis Jones being a billionaire. I have no problem with him buying himself a big-ass yacht. It's his money. I have no problem with the Christensen company being a yacht builder. We all have to do something.
I do have a slight problem with Dennis Jones indulging himself to the max with one of the world's most unnecessary luxury items, then wrapping himself in the cloak of altruism and claiming some sort of glorious do-gooder status for "saving" a yacht maker. For his $34 million, he could have made a bunch of charitable donations, or education endowments, or saved lots of jobs at numerous companies engaged in something with a bit more societal value.
And I also have a slight problem with a yacht maker whose business plan apparently requires that it be constructing three or more multi-million-dollar superyachts at all times, or else go out of business. There's an ass for every seat, but honestly, how big is the market? How many 150-foot yachts need to be built every year?
Thursday, August 21, 2014
If self-regulation really worked . . .
Auto manufacturers would issue traffic tickets and investigate all accidents.
Utilities would voluntarily shut down coal-burning power plants.
Gun makers would insist on the same sort of training, testing, licensing and insurance required to drive a car.
Wall Street would have never sunk the economy with Collateralized Debt Obligation "investments" backed by piles of sliced and diced toxic mortgage paper.
But it doesn't work that way, does it? History proves we can't just "trust 'em" and hope for the best. We can't have an honor system until everyone is guaranteed to be honorable.
Moms Demand Action has asked the Kroger family of food stores to join others such as Chipotle, Target and Starbucks in issuing a common-sense company policy: No Open-Carry of Guns in Our Stores.
Surprisingly, Kroger has thus far declined to do so, saying in its official response that the company doesn't want confrontations with its law-abiding customers who are legally carrying firearms:
"We don't want to put our associates in a position of having to confront a customer who is legally carrying a gun. That is why our long-standing policy on this issue is to follow state and local laws and to ask customers to be respectful of others while shopping."
What a fucked-up position! Management is so afraid of these gun-nuts that all they can do is ask the rest of us to be "respectful." I just can't respect that. What a bunch of weenies!
I just wrote a short note to Kroger's CEO Rodney McMullen expressing my displeasure and reminding him that his stores have a hell of a lot more customers who don't carry guns than those who do, and therefore his stupid non-policy is potentially harmful to sales, customer safety, and his company's public image.
The request for a no-guns policy is entirely reasonable, and would be a prudent business decision. Share your thoughts with the CEO:
Rodney McMullen, CEO
The Kroger Co.
1014 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202-1100
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Facts, scientific or other, require no "interpretation."
There is no such thing as religious "fact." Religious faith, maybe, but not fact.
A fact cannot be "favored" over "another." There is truth, and there is fiction.
Confusing church with school, Thompson said that some Ohio districts "may have a different perspective . . . on matters of faith, how the earth came into existence, global warming, and other controversial topics [including intelligent design]." In other words, some Ohioans may be blithering idiots.
Options: Coffee or tea? Pepperoni or sausage? White, wheat or rye?
Not options: Evolution. Global warming. 1+1 = 2.
Poor dumb Andy. For him and other doorknobs who can't tell the difference between proven fact and personal faith, Buster suggests an optional brain scan!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Today's op-ed section of the blatantly right-wing Columbus Dispatch had one of those lame "get to know the candidates" Q&A features, mostly filled with silly questions about favorite foods and sports teams. One question was, "What habit are you trying to break?"
FitzGerald's answer: "Reading the Columbus Dispatch."
Right on! For that alone, Ed should be elected unanimously.
Many front-running politicians resort to the "feel-good" TV ad. These spots say absolutely nothing about issues, policies, accomplishments or voting records. They don't attack the opponent. In fact, they don't really say anything at all. Their sole purpose is to foster warm fuzzy feelings -- no thinking necessary -- to a soft piano accompaniment. The classic is, of course, Reagan's "Morning in America."
Our own Wonder-Guv, John-Boy Kasich, has just released his own slight variation on the theme. He himself narrates the spot in his best western Pennsylvania accent. It's heavy on dear-old-mom-and-dad pathos, but it's actually a Palin-esque one-minute word salad that says less than zero. Totally meaningless.
"My father was a postman." (Watch it there, Guv. You R's are supposed to hate the postal service.)
"He told me, 'Jawhnny, you go out there and change the world.'" (Are you suggesting that you've done that? You're a world-changer, are you?)
"My parents were killed by a drunk driver." (That's truly sad. I'm sorry. But so what?)
"One of the messages my mother and father gave me was, 'Jawhnny, make sure the place where you were is a little better off because you were there.'" ( Yes, Guv, where you were you tried to crush unions, refused to create a state-run health insurance exchange, stacked the EPA and the PUCO with corporate stooges, eliminated the Consumer's Counsel office, encouraged widespread fracking even in state parks, reduced income tax revenue while increasing regressive sales tax rates, and tried to privatize damn near everything. Jesus, Jawhnny! If you keep making us better off, state government may cease to exist! Welcome to Ohio, Inc.)
But the piano was nice!
Friday, August 15, 2014
Only Fox News could turn a puff-piece interview promoting a football star's campaign to reduce childhood hunger into yet another attack on Obama . . . in this case, Michelle! Neil Cavuto works in the gratuitous contempt, much to the surprise of Russell Wilson.
Neil Cavuto, in his lead-in: "Can this Super Bowl champ do what Michelle Obama could not?"
Neil Cavuto: "Russell, what are we doing wrong as a nation urging them to eat healthy or set up these school lunch programs? Many argue that Michelle Obama is too much of a food police mommy. Whatever she's doing isn't working, and I'm wondering what you're doing that is working."
Russell Wilson: "The First Lady, I have so much respect for her. It's tough to eat healthy. I remember when I was a little kid I was always struggling trying to eat healthy."
Neil Cavuto: "Really? That was never my problem, Russell. I guess you have some issues."
Great job, Neil. LOL! This is Must-Laugh TV! If you watch Fox News for any reason other than its pure comedic value, you might want to get yourself checked out.
The next time some right-wing clod trots out that worn-out old fiction about how Democrats are just tax-and-spend money-wasters and our only hope for salvation lies in the fiscal policies of Republican geniuses, offend him by showing him these three graphs:
Where am I, in eastern Ukraine or somewhere? No. Ferguson, Mo. Fucking awful.
A small-town cop emptied his clip in gunning down an unarmed young man, then the police department compounds the error with an over-the-top show of force. Looked like the Normandy invasion. Just a wee bit antagonistic, don't you think?
This sort of provocative over-reaction can occur all too easily when police can obtain decommissioned military equipment and weaponry for free, and can buy even more with federal funds through Homeland Security's "anti-terrorism" program. ("Hey man, we got all these cool toys -- let's use 'em!")
Does the Fort Washakie, Wyoming (pop. 1759) police department really need an armored MRAP fighting vehicle? They have one. Barney Fife needs a tank? C'mon!
This situation is dangerously absurd.
Monday, August 11, 2014
A handful of his classic lines:
If it's the "Psychic Network," why do they need a phone number?
What's right is what's left if you do everything else wrong.
God gave you a penis and a brain, and only enough blood to run one at a time.
If you want a linguistic adventure, go drinking with a Scotsman. 'Cause you can't fucking understand them before!
I went to rehab in wine country, just to keep my options open.
Politics: poli, a Latin word meaning "many", and tics, meaning "bloodsucking creatures."
I'm looking for Miss Right, or at least Miss Right Now.
Time is the best teacher, but unfortunately, it kills all of its students.
Freud: "If it's not one thing, it's your mother."
I'm sorry. If you were right, I'd agree with you.
Reality: what a concept!
And with thousands to choose from, one quick video clip from long ago:
I was out at the pub the other night and overheard three rather well-nourished girls chatting at the bar. Their accent seemed to me to be Scottish, so I approached them and asked, "Hello there, are you three lassies from Scotland?"
They all frowned, and one of them replied indignantly, "It's Wales, you bloody idiot! WALES!"
So of course I apologized and rephrased, "I am so sorry. Are you three whales from Scotland?"
And . . . that's the last thing I remember.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Recently, two American medical professionals who went to West Africa to help out with the Ebola breakout became infected with the virus themselves. They're now being treated back here in the U.S., but not before Ann Coulter and Donald Trump, a.k.a. Skeletor and Ass Hat, spewed forth with their own special brand of warmth and compassion.
He then went on Fox & Friends to say that although the infected pair are undoubtedly wonderful people, "they have to suffer the consequences." (i.e. stay there and die.)
As for me, I wonder why anyone listens to these two heinous butt-plugs. They're just comically hate-filled, but there's a market for anything, even their B.S.
|"Hey Ann Coulter! I'm comin' to getcha!"|
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
"Every night we fuss and fight like Arabs and like Jews" -- Monkey See, Monkey Do, by Michael Franks, from the LP The Art of Tea, released in 1976.
Israel maintained a military presence in Gaza from 1993 until 2005, when it finally withdrew completely. During that time, Israel constructed "security fencing" and a buffer zone to completely enclose the Gaza Strip along its eastern and northern borders, and built a wall along the Egyptian border to the south. Israel deployed its naval vessels to patrol Gaza's Mediterranean coastline. There were just a handful of border crossings
In a 2006 surprise, the militantly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel political party Hamas won Palestinian elections and took over the administration of Gaza. Calling Hamas a terrorist organization, Israel promptly locked down all the border crossings and instituted an economic embargo as well. The situation continues to this day.
So here we are. The Gaza Strip is 7 miles wide by 32 miles long. It is densely populated with 1.8 million Palestinian people, with a per capita annual income of $3100 U.S. It is blockaded on all sides. It currently has only three border crossings, which are rarely open. It is effectively a concentration camp with a beautiful ocean view.
In such conditions, it's hardly surprising that some Gazans dig tunnels and fire rockets into Israel. They're captives and they're pissed. It's no surprise that Israel fires back. Some folks are taking pot-shots at them and they're pissed. Like always, a cease-fire will be negotiated, but it won't last long. It never does. One side or the other will do something provocative, and the cycle will start up again soon enough.
In the current round of violence, it's bully vs. bully -- Israel's Bibi Netanyahu and Hamas's Khaled Meshaal. Two ultra-conservative, unyielding, belligerent "leaders" engaged in a hopeless, childish and brutal blame-game. Whose "fault" is it? Who "started it"? Who friggin cares?! This crap has gone on so long, no one can remember who started what, or when, or why.
Israel says it occupies the high moral ground, but it's a dubious claim. They've essentially imprisoned 2 million people and called it "self-defense." Whenever some of the inmates get uppity and shoot unguided mortars and RPG's over the barbed wire (and yes, that's bad business, inexcusable), the Israeli army squashes the gnat with a sledgehammer. Militarily, it's no contest -- Israel is shooting fish in a barrel. But for all their technology and precision targeting, the Israelis sure seem to miss their mark a lot. "Oh snap! Did we blow up your apartment building/school/mosque/power plant/U.N. shelter again? Oops! We're sorry." The casualties are almost all on the Palestinian side, and most are civilians, not Hamas fighters. Bibi's idea of self-defense looks a lot like indiscriminate large-scale destruction, and Israel looks like the bigger bully.
What has either side gained with all this slaughter? What has really changed? Nothing. The blockade will go on. Gaza will rebuild. Tunnels will be dug again, rockets will fly, tanks will roll. A genuine "two-state solution" is the only path to peace, everybody knows it, and yet it seems further away than ever. And as long as both of these stiff dicks insist on having the last word, the last strike, the last bomb, it will never end. It's not a war, it's back-and-forth revenge terrorism -- a pointless perpetual motion machine where each act of retaliation begets another.
The State of Israel has a right to exist. A Palestinian State has an equal right to exist. I'm not pro-Hamas. I'm not anti-Israel. I'm just pro-peace. Good luck to me, eh?
Monday, August 4, 2014
|John Waters, film director|
|Jon Waters, OSU Band Director|
After a couple complaints, Jon Waters was recently fired for allowing a "sexualized environment" to exist within The Best Damn Band In The Land. This environment included lewd nicknames, marching in underwear, and other stupid hazing rituals which are unfortunately so common to the college experience. There was a report of a sexual assault within the band's ranks as well.
Waters had been Director of TBDBITL for a brief two years. He's an OSU grad, a former band member, and was a long-time assistant to the previous Director, the sainted Dr. Jon Woods.
Waters gained a large measure of fame last year when TBDBITL began performing intricately choreographed halftime routines never seen anywhere before. Videos of the performances went viral on network, cable and the web. The one shown here, the Michael Jackson tribute, has had over 10 million YouTube views. Another routine, "Hollywood Hits" featuring Superman coming out of a phone booth to leap a tall building, has drawn almost 16 million viewers. The value to the university of such positive PR should not be underestimated.
All the silly hazing crap did not originate with Jon Waters. It had been going on literally for decades, and it was there when Waters marched, but changing such hidebound traditions can be like turning around the Titanic -- it takes awhile. Doesn't make it acceptable, just hard to shake. Somehow, the idea persists in certain groups that a meaningful bond can be achieved when people stand around together in their BVDs.
Waters was not given much of a chance to change anything. Just two weeks after OSU issued its report on the band, he was canned. It was just four days into the term of the new OSU President, Dr. Michael Drake, and was pretty much his first order of business. You can see the legal department's fingerprints all over the decision. "No Penn State going on here! We're firing people right now!" And today, OSU announced that two "interim" band directors would take over.
I'm an OSU alum, although I try not to be a fanatic about it. Even so, this episode is embarrassing. The band's "traditions" look silly, and the administration looks reactionary in turning Jon Waters into a scapegoat for a problem not of his making.
After this shit-storm of bad publicity, the "culture" of the TBDBITL could be (will be) changed pretty much overnight. So wouldn't it be cool if the university neutralized their over-reaction by giving Jon Waters his job back?
Won't happen, but it should.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
"Does the community actually want them? That's the question," said philosopher Adams. With his hatefully punitive bill, he answers his own question to his own satisfaction.
Adams doesn't want any of that money or any of those kids in Ohio. Like far too many in his party, he's got a pigmentation problem. All he sees is a bunch of brown-skinned future Democrats. If there were 57,000 old, conservative, white English-speaking men stuck at the Canadian border, clamoring to be let into the U.S., you think Adams would have a problem with that?
|George Will, speaking in an unusually|
reasonable manner. Probably shouldn't
get used to it.
"Corporate inversion" has been in the news lately. This is when a U.S. corporation buys a small company somewhere overseas, shuffles some paper around, and -- voila! -- declares that it has reincorporated in, say, Belgium. Operations remain here in America, and nothing else changes. It's done to escape the U.S. corporate tax rate and adopt the lower rate in the new "home" country. (Our corporate rate is 35%. Very few companies pay anywhere near that, and a great many pay zero, but what the hell.)
None other than Fortune magazine calls the practice "un-American," but Republicans are falling all over themselves defending it. In unison, they remind us it's "perfectly legal" (if it's legal, it must always be done), and these corporations are merely performing their "fiduciary duty" to their shareholders. Screaming CNBC Tea-Bagger Rick Santelli says corporate inversion is "patriotic." With a straight face, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Oh) declared such companies to be "economic refugees." Please, Robby!
Fiduciary duty, my ass! Such companies are fid-douchebags!
Top administrators of the Columbus, Ohio city school district engaged in systematic, dishonest manipulation of certain student enrollment records and grades, for the purpose of making the district's academic performance look better than it actually was. This week, the district's former "data czar", Steve Tankovich admitted he designed the record-changing system and taught others to use it. He pleaded no contest to a felony charge of records tampering and received two years probation.
|Tankovich (center) in court|
Harris, Tankovich and others knew what they were doing, and they knew it was wrong. They'll pay a price for their misdeeds, but it shouldn't be jail time. Like all public school officials these days, they were under heavy pressure to make their district "look good" in the official state evaluations. We shouldn't excuse their behavior, but we shouldn't be surprised that they felt compelled to do it.
Instead of focusing on punishment, let's ask why they felt the need to cheat in the first place.
Start with a simple fact: The GOP hates public education -- it's taxpayer-funded, it's small-d democratic, and it's teachers are unionized. Republicans believe government has no place in the education "business," and a business opportunity is what they see. They're eager to charter-ize/privatize all K thru 12 education and turn the whole thing into a strictly economic proposition. "Can't afford that private school tuition? It must suck to be poor. Here's a voucher. We call it 'choice'."
The conservatives come up with the No Child Left Behind Act and other data-driven/testing-driven/metric-driven education "reforms." All that proficiency testing and accountability might sound good, but it's also inherently unfair to large urban public school systems. The socio-economic deck is stacked against them, and no big-city district will ever post test scores comparable to smaller, more affluent districts. For conservatives, this "proves" their point that public education is failing and not worthy of support.
So, in this test-scores-are-everything environment, if you're a believer in public education and you don't want to see some of your low-ranking schools closed or reconstituted as charter or private schools, the incentive to manipulate the numbers is strong. Statistical gamesmanship and data-scrubbing are almost inevitable.
Columbus is not alone. The same sort of record-tampering has occurred elsewhere in Ohio and across the country. It's not right, but it's not exactly high crime either. And it certainly doesn't warrant jail time.