Who’s Tailin’ Palin (and why)

I think we’re all out of Weiner jokes for a while so maybe it’s time to get back to the real dicks in the pudding. 

The tussle for the Republican nod is starting to heat up.  Mitt Romney has officially claimed a spot.  So has Jon Huntsman.  (I had to Google Huntsman to find out his first name so you can see he’s really on fire.) But nobody lights up the republicans quite so much as the former Alaskan Governor in the pencil skirt and horn-rims.

Yep Sarah Gawddamn Palin is currently touring the country in an enormous air-conditioned billboard.  She says she’s on a family vacation but the vacation is conveniently scheduled to end in Iowa, just before the caucuses and is making photo-op stops at iconic American sites all over the country.  Clearly she’s setting up a run for the nom.  It’s clear to everybody covering the tour and every set of eye balls watching it on TV that she’s going to run.  And while it is patently obvious, she continues to say, “Nuh-huh” because if she says she’s running, she has to give up the FOX spots and the Mama Bear Reality show. 

Forgive me for pointing this out, but if a person is lying about when she’s running for president or not running for president because of how much money she’d no longer receive from her FOX contract and TLC reality show residuals, she might not be the best choice for president.

The press pool party trailing around behind her qualifies numerically as a mob.  They report on where she’s going, what she’s wearing, what she’s eating and what she’s riding (she rode on the back of a Harley with a large butchy leather wearin’ mamma bear (if you know what I mean)).  The press has complained that she won’t hand out an itinerary to help them follow her, but they seem not to be having any trouble.  All they have to do is look for the enormous RV with her picture, her name, the Declaration of Independence and the giant “We the People…” on the side of it.  It sorta stands out.

While the right is looking high and low for a functional and embarrassment free candidate, and one after another of them declines the offer, the pile is being whittled down and her numbers are going up.  What is it that makes the press think that we’re so completely fascinated with everything she does and that they need to cover every utterance from her mouth, every meal she eats or restroom she stops in front of?  I mean, other than the fact that we can’t stop talking about her or watching every second of train wreck in Manolo Blahnik heels footage that they post on every news network, cable punditry show and internet site. You know, besides that.

Is she really the future of American politics?  Have we started down the inescapable road to Idiocracy?  Is she the one we deserve because we let it happen? We watch her.  We give life to her public identity like she’s Tinkerbell and we can’t stop clapping. 

Arrrg.  Double Arrg.

Forget that she’s functionally illiterate.  Forget that she’s Donald Trump with a beehive when it comes to self promotion and a willingness to say completely nonsensical things with cameras pointed at her.  Forget that she’s never had a single moment of public speaking that we couldn’t find something to make a joke about.  Forget even that she thinks “Obama care would place death squads in charge of deciding Grandma’s fate. Forget all of that for the moment and think only of this. She who would be the leader of the free world, upon leaving an American History museum in Boston said this about Paul Revere’s historic ride:

“He, uh, who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms uh by ringin’ those bells and making sure as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warnin’ shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were gonna be free and we were gonna be armed.”

I was under the impression that Revere’s historic ride was actually for the purpose of warning rebellious colonials that the British were coming to arrest those who spoke against the King.  However, as it turns out, his midnight ride, complete with bells a ringin’ and warning shots, was really to let the English know that we were armed.

And that folks, is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Later in the day when the sound bites hit the airwaves, she was granted a few precious FOX minutes via remote to defend her mis-speakin-isms.  Her first response was to say that she’d been blind sided with “one of them gotcha questions” implying that the press had laid in wait and asked an ambush question to which there was no good answer and that she’d look foolish no matter what.  Incidentally, the question that she’d been asked was, “After looking at the American history museum, what do you come away with?”  A softball question if ever there was.

Then? Oh yes then she had the enormous Alaskan sized balls to say that, no, in fact, she had not been wrong.  Nope, she doubled down and told Chris Wallace of FOX, “You know what, I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere, part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that, ‘Hey, you are not going to succeed, you are not going to take American arms.’  There is of course, only Revere’s account of what he said to the british regulars who captured him in the wee hours, but nowhere in that account did he mention American arms.  The fact of the matter was that the term American was used primarily by the british and was interchangeable with colonials.  We were, in fact, at that time… all british and fighting for our right to be considered fully represented british subjects.

Did you know that President Clinton was, among other things, a Rhodes Scholar?  Jimmy Carter has a master’s degree in mathematics and was qualified as a nuclear sub commander after leaving West Point.  Barak Obama has a degree in political science from Columbia and a Law degree from Harvard.  Dubbya, despite seeming buffoonish most of the time, graduated from both Yale and Harvard Business School.  I wonder what the educational background of the half term Alaskan Governor is?

I googled it.

Palin enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, Palin switched to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for a semester in the fall of 1982. She transferred to North Idaho College, a community college in Coeur d’Alene, for the spring and fall semesters of 1983. She attended the University of Idaho in the fall of 1984 and spring of 1985, and attended Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska in the fall of 1985. Palin returned to the University of Idaho in the spring of 1986, and received her bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in 1987.

Palin represents the least and the lowest of American aspirations.  Her constituency, true Americans, America luvin’ Americans, Americans that sometimes need the help of a good fork lift to be removed from their double-wides to go votin’ and think that anybody who pronounce the “g’s” at the end of “ing” words are elitist, east coast liberal comma’nists,.. those folks are going to give the mexicans a good run for their money when it comes to taking over this country.  The sad, sad truth creeping over this nation is that, with our current educational system, there will soon be more of them than there are of us and Palin types will find it easier and easier to get elected.

On the upside, compared to Michelle Bachman, Palin looks like Jonas Freekin’ Salk.

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Weinergate II: Weiner Retraction

I was wrong.  I made assumptions.  I made mistakes.  I’ve hurt the people closest to me.  I, god help me, publicly stated in my last article that I thought Representative Anthony Weiner probably didn’t send the digital prickture that we’ve all heard so much about in the last week.  And I threw a bit of shit on the woman who went public with the photo and a slightly bigger gob of goo on a person who, evil as he most certainly is, didn’t have a hand in this particular swirling bowl of political sewage.

Representative Weiner held a press conference yesterday and came clean.  He copped to sending a great many inappropriate text messages to women not his wife.  Other photos have come to light including self shots of a completely smooth, ripped and bare-chested man with Weiner’s chin.  Put that photo together with the bonergram in the boxer briefs and I can only say this… that skinny, 50-year-old man is in incredibly good shape and I am not surprised that he’s sharing the visual evidence.  He could have saved everybody a bunch of time by simply sending the images directly to API, UPI and Reuters.

The representative made a nearly textbook statement of apology and contrition before the press hitting all of the high points of shame, personal reflection and broken trust as well as mapping out a future path that includes working to repair the damage to all of those hurt by his irresponsible digi-snaps.  It was so textbook and generic that for at least the first few minutes, he could have been apologizing for nearly anything.  It quite literally coul have come from a book of mad libs wherein he simply filled in the occasional noun or verb, color or number, pet or farm animal.

I hate being wrong about these things but worse, I hate that yet another one of the guys who I thought was an ok guy and a person fit to represent citizens in congress turns out to be a flawed, horny butthead.  The good news is that I knew a long time ago that John Edwards was a huge asshole and it is completely unlikely that anybody will have a press conference to contradict that fact.

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Weinergate: A Weiner Roast in Washington

HEADLINE: Photo of Representative Anthony Weiner’s Penis – Leaked!! 

Over the Memorial Day weekend, America proved once again that it loves a good wiener roast.  Rep. Anthony “Stiff Tony” Weiner was on the grill over a photo of a man’s boxer briefs sporting a completely covered but discernable  erection. In response to the media’s constant and insistent pounding, the congressman’s chief of staff, Hugh G. Rection, pushed back, saying, “All of these ‘wiener’ jokes have to stop. This distinguished member of congress doesn’t need the image of an erect penis popping into everybody’s head every time his name is mentioned.”

While being interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Representative Weiner summed it up succinctly by saying, “When your name is Weiner, it goes with the territory.” The lawmaker found modest support from a limited list of congress persons, among them; Representatives Dingle, Dicks, Cummings and Peters, who, in a joint statement said simply, “We know how he feels.”

Later he apologized to a group of reporters for his testy initial response to questions saying, “I’m sorry, I was a little stiff yesterday.”

“We’re treating it as a prank” he told MSNBC, still joking even as the issue of the erection continued to swell rather than go down. Weiner could not say for sure that the photo was not of him, which left reporters to wonder if perhaps the penis in question was too hard to identify. Weiner also said he would not ask federal authorities to investigate, reasoning “I’m not really sure it rises to that level.”

House Democrats were rumored to be pushing hard to clean up the Weiner issue with as little embarrassment as possible. Meanwhile, republican strategists, clearly relished on the whole wiener issue and were just really happy that people had stopped calling the Majority leader “Representative Boner”.

On a side note, there is now a one week moratorium on getting fired for wiener jokes at work.

Suggestions to Avoid Embarrassment While Serving in Congress.

1. Don’t take the picture. The ready availability of photography makes digital mischief more accessible than ever. The temptation to take photos of your junk is constant but you need to remember that the easiest way to avoid sending photos of the “Junior Congressman” is to not take photos of the “Junior Congressman”.

2. Don’t post the picture. If you’ve already broken the first rule, why advertise?  A picture of your swelling pride is a lot like an atom bomb.  Just because you have one, doesn’t mean you have to use it.  You don’t have to launch the missile.  Keep it in the silo.

3. If stories about your erection persist for more than four news cycles, consult a competent media adviser.  You may experience adverse side effects like increased voter apathy or frustration, media harassment and a sudden loss of effectivness in office.

——————-
So here we are at the bottom line again. 

Anybody up for some speculation? 

Based on the several dozen articles I’ve read in the last couple of days while researching the issue for this blog, it goes like this:  It is a picture of his underwear with him in them. So yeah, it’s his dick, too.  He most likely did not send the image to the 22 year old woman; Ms. Saunders.  In all likelihood, he took the photo on his phone to send to his young (and hot) wife.  Whether or not he sent it to his wife is between them.  Somebody on his large congressional staff (oh, nice double entendre) with access to his phone and computer got the photo and sold it to Andrew Breitbart who has been trying to destroy (beat?) Weiner for years.  Breitbart, a notorious fraudster, found a young lady who wanted to be famous and paid her to “reveal” this traumatic event in her life.   Ms. Saunders, has since admitted that she did not receive the photo from the Representative and that she did in fact, just want to be famous.  

Do I know this for sure.  No.  But I’ve read a lot more about it than you and based on that reading, I put the pieces of the puzzle together thusly.  Others will put it together outre thusly.  Will the average person hear this part of it and think poorly of Breitbart and Saunders?  No, they should but they probably won’t.  Will the mess stick to Weiner (even more double entendre) for the duration of his career in politics?  You know it will.  Does it help us fix the problems we face as a nation?  Well, it seems pretty unlikely.

He seems like a nice guy and let’s face it; Who hasn’t taken a picture of their junk?  This picture of Rep. Weiner is nearly PG it’s so tame.  If the Rep. sent it, no laws have been broken and the only damage is to his reputation.  If he didn’t, who cares?  Nothing has actually happened. This whole thing was really just an excuse for everybody to write a bunch of weiner jokes… myself included.

Maybe we should all just grow up.

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Republican Front-Runner? Not it!!!

The GOP is having a hard time finding a first string player to put in the line up for the Primaries.  It’s getting late in the preseason and so far nobody batting above .190 has even agreed to strap on the cleats let alone swing for the fences. It seems like the “Good” Republican Candidates (I can’t believe I put those words together) have weighed the outcome 20 months hence and decided they’d be better off taking the FOX talking head TV money.  It also seems that so far, the party isn’t willing to waste a viable candidate on a race they don’t feel they can win.  Of course, they just may not have a viable candidate.  And by viable, I mean one who doesn’t have something waiting to jump out of the closet and derail a run for the oval office. The lack of clean candidates on the far right may be as clear a comment about the right as we’ll ever get.

However, the folks with wide open closets filled with all manner of indefensible positions, stupid quotes, and fringe beliefs are lined up three deep in the waiting room.  The nut bars who think they have a chance at the golden ring are stacking up like Snickers in a 7-11.

Here’s a brief rundown of the marginally popular but ultimately delusional figures who have talked themselves into believing that they could live in the White House, head the 2nd largest economy in the world, be the commander-in-chief of the most often used military machine in the history of war and sit in quite possibly the most powerful chair, politically, to ever exist.

Michele Bachman – The controversial third-term representative from Minnesota generates plenty of press thanks to her aggressive efforts to tie herself to the Tea Party and by founding the House Tea Party caucus as well as delivering the Tea Party response to the 2011 State of the Union address. Most republicans in Congress feel that she is too far right to be acceptable to main stream republicans.  Everybody else thinks she’s just too enormously and incredibly “non-intellectualized” to be President… of the PTA.

Here are a couple of selected quotes:

“Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.”

“There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”

Haley Barbour
The Mississippi governor who describes himself as a “fat redneck”is the head of the Republican Governors Association and a former Republican National committee chairman.  He raises money like a pro, but he stepped in a sticky pile of viscous goo when he was the only public official to take BP’s side during the Gulf oil spill.  He also keeps a large portrait of a confederate rifle company over his desk at the Governor’s mansion.  That’s probably enough to keep him out of every elected office except in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama… and maybe Arkansas. There may be a lot of fat rednecks clustered around voting stations in the south, but Barbour would find it difficult to garner support anywhere else. 

Here’s a  fun Barbour quote:

“Because of the tragedy, the state flag will fly at half-staff ” The term he wanted was “half mast”.  Half staff, refers to a pole that is broken or limp or appears to bend downward in the middle.  It also is a slang term for a male member that is something less than erect. 

Newt Gingrich
Gingrich, the former House speaker and elder statesman in the party seems serious about a run for the office.  He has enormous name recognition.  However, the stumbling block is that the name recognition is based upon his being an enormous dick in his personal life.  He’s been married three times and left one wife while she was in the hospital.  Not only does that alienate social conservatives (republicans), it alienates humans. 

He recently said in an interview on the subject of his infidelity, ”There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

Translation: He cheated on his wife because of his love for the country.

Here’s another Newtism that says it all:

“The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.”

Mike Huckabee
The creationist former Arkansas governor and previous presidential possible has built a talk show career around his amiable personality but he has been described as that kind of really nice guy that you don’t want coming over to your BBQ because as wrong as he is, you can’t argue with him without seeming like a bully or an asshole.  About the only one who’s be able to pull it off is Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.  Huckabee’s extreme Christianity is attractive to extreme Christians but off-putting to everybody else.  Besides, after an initial dip into the “should I or shouldn’t I” pool, Huck has decided that the money at FOX and the book tour millions are easier to bank than shaking votes out of Americans one hand at a time.  

2 Huckabee quotes:

“I’m pretty sure there will be duck-hunting in heaven and I can’t wait!”

“We ought to declare that we will be free of energy consumption in this country within a decade.”

Sarah Palin
The undisputed rock star of the right and former vice presidential candidate is a polarizing figure nationwide. She’s been focused on her media career recently but remains active politically. The bad news, America seems endlessly fascinated with her and her moderately dysfunctional family.  The good news, among republicans (the only people who would ever consider her a possible candidate) only 17% are interested in seeing her run and even fewer are interested in seeing her as president.

There are too many great quotes to use from this ill wind generator, but most of them require context and explanation.  Like this one when she was asked to discuss important Supreme Court rulings, “Well, let’s see. There’s — of course — in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings.” and on where the money is going in Afghanistan,
“They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan.”

The best line I heard about Palin came from comedian Christopher Titus when he explained that, “you don’t give the Uzi to the dumbest cheerleader.”

Rick Santorum
The former Pennsylvania senator faded following his reelection drubbing four years ago. He’s a staunch social conservative opposed to all things homosexual or evolutionary.  Recently some comedy genius added his name to the Wikipedia database as the word defining an unpleasant product of lubricated gay intercourse.  Forever more, the name Santorum will be associated with an oily, fecal pudding.  His race is over.  On a personal aside, I want to be on the record that his kind of political anti gay foot stomping has historically been the precursor to an airport men’s room revelation or a wife’s tell all book that includes meth, praying and a gay male prostitute.  I can’t wait.

Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani has a knack for bringing 9-11 into any discussion and that still pulls votes for some.  But he’s a one trick pony and there’s no way he makes it all the way through the primaries and the election on that single trick.  He has big time name recognition, but he’s the only guy in the room who doesn’t realize that the recognition is not for how he performed on 9-11 but because he’s been leaning on it for 10 years now. 

————-

Here’s a very short rundown of the rest; most whose names you’ve never heard.

Herman Cain
The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and conservative talk show host is anti health care and has no political base.  He named his company “Godfather’s Pizza” like crime bosses are a good thing.  His political chances?  Fuhgettabouddit!

Mitch Daniels
Self framed as the “Anti-Obama”, the Indiana governor has zero charm and zero regret about it.  He angered the GOP base by being moderate on social issues like abortion and gay marriage.  He will receive zero support from the right and thus has no shot.  But sadly for him, nobody will notice.

Jon Huntsman
The former Utah Governor was appointed U.S. ambassador to China in 2009 by Obama. Like Mitt Romney, he’s a mormon.  I don’t think I’m the only guy that has a problem with that.  I’m an atheist so professed public belief in any religion is something of a red flag, but Mormonism sends up flares like scientology and voodoo.  Having a religious belief isn’t an automatic disqualifier for me, but ask yourself if you’d vote for a guy who believed that God thought less of dark skinned humans than light skinned humans?  Or that the faithful mormon males get a planet apiece in the after life populated with girls whose job it is to please them,… forever.. as long as you wear the secret underwear?  

See, it makes a difference. 

Ron Paul
After years of being the oddball in his party, the libertarian-leaning Republican is being embraced by the Tea Party movement for his limited government philosophy. Ideas once seen as outside the GOP mainstream suddenly have traction.  However, his appeal seems to remain relatively limited.  Visually, he’s an unmade bed with crazy eyes and that makes all but the craziest voters a little hesitant.  For them it’s a plus.  For us… not so much. Another term for “the craziest voters” is “the Tea Party”.

Gary Johnson
This former New Mexico governor supports abortion rights, gay rights, ending the war in Afghanistan and legalizing marijuana.  So really, he’s a democrat.

The likely actual candidates, the ones in the current field with a chance, are Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney.  Romney is having a hard time defending to the republicans how he could give his state something that looks remarkably like Obamacare.  Also, there’s the whole mormon thing, but he ran last time and nobody seemed to bring it up.  Pawlenty, besides being a black hole of charisma has a name that just plain doesn’t test well.  Pawlenty, as a word, lends itself too easily to comedy and he, as a public figure has a knack for getting his picture taken with a stupid look on his face.  He’s only minutes away from knocking himself out of the race.

Too bad Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv.  Bibi, as he’s called in Israel, appeared before the combined houses of congress last week to try and shove one up Obama’s backside and the republicans sucked it up; giving him several standing ovations in a 45 minute speech. He’s a hard line, pro military, social conservative that republicans could see themselves backing.  Of course, the GOP would never choose him because as an Israeli, he’s probably Jewish.

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World Fails to End… AGAIN!

We're all still here.  Let's try to make a go of it.Through what can only be described as a massive failure of follow through, the world has failed to end, yet again.  Certainly, an investigation will be launched into who we can blame for this failure, but clearly, if God has decided not to take anybody up in the rapture or just flat-out thwack us all with a mighty smiting just on principal, it can really only mean that we have finally proven to be utterly without redemption and God has washed his hands of us.

Hey, here’s a headline:
Nothing Out of Ordinary Happens!

I had a lot of possible headlines for this article but I went with World Fails to End… Again! because it was closer to my overall thesis, which is that People have been forecasting the end of the world for a long time.  I Googled it and there’s like dozens of doom events that were predicted in the last decade by some dingleberry or another.  Sooner or later, one of these yayhoos will get lucky and be right, but so far, we’ve all survived.

Some of the other possible titles I considered:

  • Rapture Takes Place.  Nobody Taken!
  • God Passes on First Round Draft Picks.  Tells Mankind to Suck It.
  • The End is… Rescheduled (or The End is TBA)
  • Are We Dead Yet?
  • Heh Heh.  My Bad!
  • ….and NOW… NOW… 1-2-3.. NOW
  • Apocalypse Averted. God Says He’ll Try Again.
  • Wacko Discredited.  Everything Fine.

I’m sure you’ve got some in your head now. Feel free to leave me a few of them in the comment section.

NOTE: You have to scroll to the bottom of an article page, not the front page of this blog, to leave a comment. To get to an article page, click the title of this article or click on a linked title over on the upper right side of this page.

Do you remember the last really big “the world is going to end” scare?  It was the millennium bug or Y2K.  The fear was that the world was so completely run by computers and the computers were all so completely compromised by the two digit calendar problem that as soon as the year 2000 flipped at midnight somewhere the banking system would crash because all of the computers thought it was 1900 instead of 2000.  Among the problems with that concern were that really, A) the problem would have been more likely (if at all) on the turning of 2000 to 2001 B) Companies all over the world made billions of dollars fixing software for 3 years leading up to 2000 C) only a portion of the world’s computers actually had this tiniest of glitches and it would have made almost no difference at all to any of them, and finally, D) We weren’t all going to just sit there and die because the grocery store couldn’t process the transactions for Froot Loops.  At the very least we could pick up a rock and kill something to eat.  Besides, we’re a thousand times more controlled by computers now as opposed to the year 2000 and everything is juksten fieineightieijiasid572775726************

So anyway, fear motivates and motivation sells more fear stuff.  A small shitload of people sell a bigger shitload of end times books, tapes, DVDs and survival kits every time this comes up.  The air time sales people on late night radio from the high desert love that fear demographic.  Same for TV, magazines and newspapers (Newspapers… how old am I?).  Scary gets people watching or reading or listening and then you can sell advertising.  We have the best “scaring people” industry in the world.  If you can come up with a marginally feasible thing to be afraid of (and by marginally feasible I mean not even remotely possible), we, as a people, will write books and magazine and news articles, make tv shows and movies about it and even create cult churches complete with walled compounds, zombie followers and Holy writ thumping freaks to lead them. There is a lot of money in scaring people and when there’s money in something, we can do it like nobody else in the world.  My oldest brother (three acolytes short of his own cult) was so worried about Y2K that he spent the week before and after the 2000 New Year in a bunker in central Texas with a couple of friends, a few thousand rounds of ammo and a small mountain of tinned saltines.

I think he was just a little disappointed when the whole thing didn’t collapse.  Not because he wanted all of us to be forced to say, “Oh, OK, I guess you were right.” which almost certainly he did want, but because he’d created a full color, 3D fantasy about how it was going to be in the post apocalyptic world and how he was going to be Mad Max or maybe even Tina Turner in his own little thunder dome and he could finally have the power and make somebody else walk around with the leash around their neck.  Yeah, I know.  It’s seems twitchy but it’s not entirely unique.

There’s a guy on YouTube with a 24 part video series about how to survive the coming break down of society.  He doesn’t say when it’s coming but he’s sure that it is.  He, his fingerless gloves, his military fatigues and his super boss mullet are featured in over 240 minutes (or 4 hours) of self shot apocofantasy ramblings that center mostly on the right guns to choose (weight a killing power being the factors), camping gear, the best knife for killing people and feral hogs, fire making and how to hold the best ground against the folks who are going to want to take your stuff.  I left the guy a comment suggesting that when it doesn’t happen, he’s going to be a lot more disappointed than relieved because even though the world survives, he doesn’t get to start the new kingdom where he can buy wimmen from the caravaners and “make’um do stuff”.  He deleted my comment and blocked me. Who knew that the kind of guy who is preparing for a long stay in the mountains wouldn’t want to hear a dissenting opinion?

I think a lot of the doom sayers are just trying to feel important.  “Hey everybody, look at me.  I know what’s going to happen.  I saw something you missed.  I’m not as crazy or as stupid or as whatever as you thought I was or my father told me I was or the judge wrote on that paper.”  “I’m special enough for God to talk to me and tell me something he didn’t tell you or the FOX 4 News Team.”  I think it’s important to remember that according to recent surveys, about 70% of people in this country believe in angels.  So really, believing that the end of the world is happening or that Satan is coming or that God will raise up a bunch of folks and leave the rest of us wicked and ungodly types behind is not so much of a stretch.

Interestingly, in the same survey that showed 70% of people believed in angels, only 40% believe in ghosts.  Statistically, some guy in Utah is saying that adds up to 110% and proves that the jews blew up the World Trade Center with a small tactical nuke they were given by the Chinese Communists who also fund the Democratic Party.

But I digress.

This most recent scare comes to us courtesy of a fringe christian church in California where the peculiar pastor and his foolhardy flock decided that this was the end times.  For whatever reason, they completely believed it and they used all of their money to buy billboards all over the country to tell everybody the headline info and leave a website where they could get more news of the end.  When I say they used all of their money, I don’t mean they used up all of the church’s money, or all of the pastor’s money.  I mean they sold all their stuff; houses, cars, household items, bric-a-brac, what nots, what have yous and whatevers and they pooled the money with which they purchased ad space on over 1,000 billboards all over the country.

One can’t really call that kind of giving up of worldly possessions a sacrifice because they all thought they were giving up stuff that was useless, or would be shortly.  The committment might be admirable, but I fail to see the point in telling everybody about what was coming.  Presumably, if the end times are, in fact, upon us and the rapture is nye, there isn’t really time for the rest of us to get a ticket on the Heaven Bus.  If we believed in this sort of thing we’d already know all about it, and, likewise, not knowing about it kinda puts us in the group who’s not going to the dance.  So putting up the billboards is really more of a “nya nya nya, we’re going to McDonald’s and you’re not” kinda thing.  And if I interpret my biblical hearsay correctly, and I think that I do, that’s pride and it goeth before a fall.  I’m pretty sure that that’s enough to get you kicked off the Jesus Express.  I don’t think they’ve thought this all the way through.  Not only have they not thought it all the way through, they haven’t given it as much thought as I give to buying a new pair of sneakers (OK, I spend a lot of time comparing and deciding, but I’m going to wear them 18 hours a day for the next 6-10 months… sue me.)

But here’s the bottom line –  and believe me, I’m just as surprised as you are to find it here at the bottom… in line form.

People have been saying the world is going to end any day now for as long as there have been people to tell.  The world is still here.  The people are still here.  The problems are all still here.  And wishing it could all be over or that we could put all the worldly problems like war, and death and hunger and strife behind us won’t make those things go away.  We have to fix things ourselves.  We have to make this place a better place to be instead of trying to find reasons not to be here.

Come to think of it, it’s exactly the same as the illegal immigration problem that we have with Mexico… but I’ll leave that for another day.

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Public Education: In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Guest Article)

The author of this guest article, Tim Hicks, has been an educator in Texas for more than 20 years.  In all of those years, the thing that Tim has cared most deeply about, aside from his family, is teaching;  the quality of teaching, the political direction of teaching and most importantly, the end result of teaching.

Like many of you, I have sat watching and listening aghast at the public education three-ring-cluster that has been going on for years.  One group argues there’s not enough emphasis on basics. Another group screams about not a long enough school year.  Arguments multiply like mirror imaged mushrooms; no accountability, parent accountability, teachers make too much, teachers make too little, teach religion,  leave religion out of it, not enough testing, too much testing; the list of gripes and problems just continues to grow.  Couple that with nationwide budget shortfalls and the situation only compounds to become one of those things we’d really rather not think about, let alone try to fix.  No problem, just watch Snookie or American Idol or something else that drips out of the cable and forget it-it’ll go away or take care of itself…right?

Unlike many of you, I’ve taught in public and private schools for the last 24 years and would like to think that in that time I have seen some things that have worked and some that haven’t.  And even with all I’ve seen, I still have hope for public education in this country.  But it ain’t gonna be cheap, painless, quick or easy.  Sit down in that desk and I’ll teach you what I think.

FOR ANYTHING TO REALLY CHANGE IN AMERICAN PUBLIC EDUCATION
THE ENTIRE SYSTEM NEEDS TO CHANGE!

I know that sounds like trying to rebuild a submarine that’s already underwater, but hear me out on this.  I’m going to start small with my home state of Texas.  (The home of small-minded educational fixes)

Some aspects of school life are going to have to give up some of their emphasis.  We’ll start in my chosen field, Instrumental Music.  There was a time when nearly everyone played some kind of musical instrument for their own enjoyment and perhaps to entertain others after coming in from the fields, home from the mill or back from the office.  It would keep people from having to talk to each other in the hours between evening mealtime and going to bed in the Pre-Snookian Epoch.  If you could play “Oh Susannah” or some other Stephen Foster blockbusters on the ocarina or the jaw harp, you could take your turn entertaining the folks at home, people could hum or sing along and everyone would be engaged in something together as a family or community.  You didn’t have to seek out private instruction or drop a year’s salary on the instrument.   There were books to help you learn it on your own and you could even play a hand-me-down horn.  Most importantly,  as a pastime (as thing done to pass time) it wasn’t about competition.  Virtually none of what is referred to as music education in the Lone Star State is actually about education or music; it’s about rote training to march or sing or bow the competition into oblivion. Music choices are geared not to enjoyment or teaching, but to score with judges.  Preparing 3 tunes for 3 months for 3 judges just doesn’t add up to music education. 

How many times, would you guess, have automobiles been set ablaze and shop windows smashed over the great wars of Bach vs. Brahms?  If you answered zero, you’re not the unthinking moron that the scholastic music industry thinks you are.
Now transfer some of that logic to inter-scholastic athletics.  ( I’m talkin’ to you, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, swim team and both forms of hockey).  The State of Texas stipulates that you can’t do any more than 8 hours of extracurricular a week (per activity).  They made that rule because if they didn’t, football would be 30 hours a week just as quickly as you could blink your eyes.  Band wouldn’t be far behind.  In other states, basketball, swimming, track, baseball and soccer would be doing the same thing.   What if we didn’t need to limit teams to 8 hours of “outside of school hours” practice because we’re all mature enough to realize that these are OUR KIDS involved in a PASTIME that’s supposed to be FUN???  Are you with me?

If your whole life is tied up in goin’ to STATE in whatever activity; if you are gonna base all of your happiness on something you did in high school; you’re going to have a long slow drop from age 18 until you expire. And let’s be real clear on this, the kids haven’t changed.  They are still the same as they’ve always been.  This is about parents, egos, school districts, coaches and band directors counting coup and validating budgets.

Let’s take some of the time and energy that we’re using elevating pastimes to full-times and use it more wisely.  WHILE WE’RE AT IT, I’M GOING TO ASK THAT WE WITNESS ALL OF THE ENTHUSIASM USED BY THE COACHES-BAND-ORCHESTRA-CHOIR-DRAMA-DANCE-ETC TEACHERS AND INCORPORATE THAT SAME AMOUNT OF ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM INTO ALL AREAS OF THE SCHOOL.  There is a lot to be learned from the extracurricular courses and the people who teach them.

Hang onto that thought because you will be tested on it later! 

While we’re on the subject of extra-curricular activities, I seem to remember a time when kids got more recess time, created more art in art classes, got along better with each other and didn’t shoot their classmates.  What happened to all of that time? Where did it go?  Apparently, we need that time to prepare for the standardized tests which aren’t about testing or teaching but about funding. 

Did you like filling in the ovals when you were a kid?  I did, mainly because it was something different that happened once a year, like Christmas or cleaning my room.  We were told to concentrate and do well and there was probably an explanation included, but we didn’t wait around to hear that crap.   We had our No. 2 pencils and we wanted, nay, yearned to race against time and finish those bad boys.  (Side Note: YOU KNOW WHY THEY  STILL CALL THEM No. 2 PENCILS?  BECAUSE OF ALL THE SHIT THEY TEST OVER NOWADAYS!!!)  There are diagnostic screenings, benchmark tests, practice tests, extra classes outside school time (did I hear 8 hour rule?) wailing, gnashing of teeth, remediation…ALL FOR WHAT IS BASICALLY A MINIMUM SKILLS TEST!!!  And they keep adding to the list of things they are testing over-because if a synapse fires but an oval hasn’t been filled in the school board wonders if learning actually took place?   We are wasting a ton of time that could be better spent doing just about anything else that really engages the students.  Put the emphasis back on the process rather than the outcome.  Just about everyone enjoys learning new things.  We gotta hook into that and not kill that natural human curiosity by pumping it full of (No. 2) lead.

This is another important point that not everybody is prepared to face, especially when talking about their own kid(s). Maybe not everyone needs to be considered “college-bound” anymore.  I don’t mean to exclude anyone who wants to further their education, but perhaps if a child prefers working with his/her hands rather than learning about gerunds, geometry or geodes, there should be an educational path provided to them that will lead to their fulfillment as an individual somewhere within the 4 high school years provided by the public system.  When was the last time you interacted with a plumber or electrician who was younger than yourself?  That’s because 20-odd years ago, someone got the idea that by this time, computers would be doing everything for us and everyone needed to be conversant in computerese. 

What happened?

The computers got easy to use in a big hurry and the kind of computer skills everyone thought we’d need were rendered useless by the programmers we already had.  And while the age of George Jetson hasn’t arrived yet we still need people to fix faucets, hang doors, paint houses, fry hamburgers, groom poodles, change oil and run the rides at Six Flags-along with scads of other perfectly good jobs that need doing and people to do them.  In previous generations, shop class taught kids how to actually do a thing, whether it was work with tools on metal or wood or understand and work on car engines.  Do you know how to fix an internal combustion engine?  How about an air conditioner or and electric car? If we stop teaching this stuff forever, there’s a bad science fiction episode in our future where important and mostly low tech things start to break down and we have to decide which of the slower kids we have to eat and which ones we can sell for working motors.  

THERE IS NO DISHONOR IN WORK OF ANY KIND.   Judging people for their income and number of toys has pretty well created the mess that we’re in now.  All we have are toys and status and damned little in the way of useful skills.  Let that one settle in your brain for a minute.  Everyone’s ego has needs, but enough is literally enough. Besides, the average illegal alien knows how to turn your garbage into a working motorcycle, a weed whacker and a thing that slow cooks goats with a half a bag of charcoal. And it’s not going to be too terribly long before your kids are working for his.

Let’s take a minute and review what we’ve learned so far.  Pastimes are fun, but in most cases they are merely diversions that can be used to break up the workday, both for kids and adults.  We can put more energy and enthusiasm into teaching academic subjects by focusing on concepts instead of outcomes. Standardized tests should test the actual understanding of subjects covered rather than the ability to take standardized tests.  Also, like Groundhog Day, they should only come once a year and not need an entire year of preparation.  And finally, a person can live a full, complete and happy life without going to college.

We’re off to a good start for now. Class dismissed.  Next order of business-Economics.

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The Search for America’s Next Top Terrorist

The Search For America's Next Top TerroristWell, the race is on to find the successor to Osama Bin Laden now that we’ve shot him and dumped him in the ocean.  As the intelligence community sifts through his video tapes, diaries and computers, the newsies and talking heads have turned the “who’s next” lottery  into a 24 hour game of pin the beard on the extremist.

Everybody’s pointing to Ayman Al Zawarhi, Bin Laden’s number 2 as the logical successor but the flawed fly in that ointment is that nobody seems to like the guy very much.  Certainly our team isn’t high on him, but apparently, their side doesn’t cotton to him much either.  Plus he’s kinda old, he doesn’t connect with the new kids on the bomb and he is universally recognized as a black hole of charisma. To top it off, his Egyptian origins are problematic in a field increasingly dominated by Libyans, Saudis and Yemenis.  I like saying Yemenis.  It sounds like a place that has a drive through.

So, not him. Cross Zawarhi off the list.

All of the news bureaus are flagging Abu Yayha al-Libi as a contender.  I imagine that as soon as that news reached him he was both proud of the mention and terrified at his now considerably shortened short-term prospects. al-Libi is one of the younger lions in the mix and is known mostly for his escape from a security facility near Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.  The argument against him is that he was inept enough to be captured and placed in a security facility near Bagram airbase.  Also, he’s black.  Wanna know a secret about fundamentalist muslims from the Arab and Persian regions of the middle east?  They’re racists.  I know!!  Who would have thought that people steeped in medieval intolerance would be racists, too?

So, probably not him either.

Mohammed Atef would have been a good choice based on performance and likability amongst his co terrorists, but sadly for the organization, Atef was killed in 2001.

Abu Mustafa al-Yazidi, was a multilingual veteran of the Russian/Afghan war who was a key link in the chain between al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban.  Note the use of the word “was”.  Yazidi got his multilingual ass killed in 2009.  He is no more. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace.  He… is an EX terrorist.

Two other possible new leaders recently kinda killed each other.  This is funny.  Not for them, of course, but for us.  Anyway, it seems that Maulvi Faqir Mohammed and Nekmohd Qari-Zainuddin were feudin’ over who was the baddest dude’in the sand box.  So much so that each of them had planted operatives in the other’s camps.  One day, the spy for Maulvi the Faqir (he’s such a faqir… a real mother faqir) over heard Zainuddin saying Maulvi’s dating habits included girls over 16 years of age ( appearantly they’re old hags in the mountains of Pakistan) and Maulvi’s spy was so incensed by the affront to his war lord that he shot Zainuddin right in the puddin. 

Killt him dead. 

When Zainuddin’s spy heard that, he fragged Maulvi in the out house with a Russian grenade left over from the 80’s.  I know the whole thing sounds fantasical, but, as it turns out, the russians made really good grenades back then and those boom booms have a 30 plus year shelf life. Who knew?

Abu Ayyub al-Masri the charismatic leader of al-Qaida in Iraq would also have been a good choice to take over the mantle of leadership except that he was killed by American forces in April of 2010.  The information for that bombing was leaked to Army Intel through al-Qaida channels because Bin Laden felt al-Masri was becoming too popular and represented a challenge to his leadership.  That’s kinda like shooting yourself in the foot; if your foot looks like a terrorist and is trying to take your job as head terrorist.

Here’s irony for you.  The current best replacement for Bin Laden is the US-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki (currently in Yemen. Look on Google Maps/satellite view right where the big red target mark is). Yep, that’s right, the best guy to lead those guys against us guys; the best person to put in charge of those persons who hate American persons so much that they’re willing to carry rocket launchers in 120 degree heat while wearing a hat and scarf, is himself an American.  Mmm hmmm.  You got that right.  Anwar (you can call me Al) al-Awlaki has the ambition to lead al-Qaida. He’s young, charismatic, speaks eloquently in English and Arabic and can reach out to many different audiences.  In terms of violent Sunni Muslim extremism, he’s a triple threat.  He’s an ideological throw back to the 1400’s, the camera loves him and, he wants to direct.  Pretty soon, little red special effects dots will be dancing all over his bright white Yemeni garb.  Pretty.

I said Yemeni again.  It’s fun.  try it.  Yemeni, Yemeni, Yemeni.  See?

Of course, maybe we’re all looking at this the wrong way.  If I understand things correctly, and I belive that I do, the idea of terrorism is to scare everybody into frantic frenzies of frivolous fretting until at some point everybody just gives up and does what the scary people what just so everybody can get on with their lives and stop being afraid. 

So, given that premise, lemme ax you sumpin.  Who has scared more Americans over the last 10 years that FOX News and the Republican Party?  Nobody.  That’s who.  

Who has scared more old people into thinking that democrats what to kill them by communist medical committees than Palin, O’Reilly and Beck on the 24 hour a day scarefest called Fox News.  Who has cost America more treasure through their no bid proxies Blackwater and Halliburton than the Republicans ? So really, who do you think would make the next best leader of al-Qaida?  Some marginalized Sunni preacher from New Jersey with a giant target on his back as he traipses across the deserts of Yemen or Glenn Beck and John Boehner?

That’s what I thought.

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