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Showing posts from August, 2016

The Curse of the National Anthem

Looks like Colin Kaepernick did Gabby Douglas one better by sitting down for the national anthem, but Gabby wasn't lodging any sort of protest.  Colin said the flag is an insult to black people and people of color, citing police brutality as his principal concern in this country.  He also took exception to the fact that Francis Scott Key was a slave owner and an ardent anti-abolitionist.  CNN offers some backstory, including the rarely-sung third verse in which Key apparently sees slaves as expendable in times of war.  Not like many Americans can make their way through the first verse without mumbling the lines more or less to the music.

There is no rule in the NFL or any professional sport that says a player has to stand for the national anthem, but players who choose not to honor the flag face the wrath of the public or in today's age -- social media.  Not one to let a golden opportunity go to waste, the Trumpster chimed in, "maybe he should find a country that works b…

Hemingway's antlers

Hunter S. Thompson ventured up to Ketchum in 1964 to figure out why the old man would settle in such a remote place at the tale end of his life. Young Hunter took in the town, chatted with a few of its denizens, had a drink at the town watering hole and in the end took home the set of antlers that hung over the front door of Hem's chalet.  I could only find this complete copy of the article dated May 25.  
According to his wife, he didn't know what came over him and meant to return the elk horns, but the years passed and the antlers stayed with him.  This past summer, Anita decided to return the antlers.  The Nature Conservancy, which manages the site, didn't know what to do with them, and suggested she contact the family.  She tracked down one of Hemingway's grandsons in New York and arranged to have the antlers shipped to him, as he seemed to be the only one really interested in them.  I imagine there were plenty of other souvenirs from Hemingway's hunts that the…

Will the real Donald Trump please stand up

This was supposed to be "immigration week" for Donald Trump but it seems to have gotten off to a rocky start, cancelling rallies in Nevada, Colorado and Oregon, opting instead for Aspen and Lake Tahoe fund raisers.  Seems that the Donald wants to test his message on big money supporters first, who might be more receptive to his "really fair" plan.  It sounds suspiciously like the current immigration process, but hey Trump is good at putting his name on things that already exist.

The Donald is apparently anxious to lure back "moderate" Republicans behind the scenes while giving the illusion to his devoted masses that he is as tough as ever on immigration.  After all, he took on Stephen Bannon as his campaign CEO last week.  This kind of duplicity would usually undermine a candidate, but Donald seems particularly adept at playing an issue from both ends, largely because his devoted following simply doesn't read.

I'm not sure whether his base is ill…

Back in the Saddle Again

On a lighter note, Mel Brooks is "Back in the Saddle," taking questions after a screening of Blazing Saddles at the Radio City Music Hall on September 1.  Clearly, this is his favorite movie, as he claims to have seen it at least 2000 times, but gives his 11-year-old grandson kudos for pulling up quotes at the perfect time, such as "somebody has gotta go back and get a shit load of dimes," at the supermarket check-out line.

It's one of those movies you simply don't forget, recalling scenes at odd times and having to stifle a guffaw, as it is too much trouble to try to explain.  You have to see Blazing Saddles to understand why it is so funny.

Brooks doesn't think he would be able to make the movie in today's PC-minded world, but is Trump really that much different from Hedley Lamarr?  The humor still rings true today, which is why people still turn up to watch it, especially if the King of Comedy is going to be there to answer questions afterward.


The King of Debt

"I do love debt. I love debt. I love playing with it."
It looks like the Donald is in debt up to his ears, but I doubt that will stop his loyal following from believing what a great businessman he is.  New York Times ran an expose this weekend, estimating that Trump owes at least $650 million to a variety of lenders including the Bank of China.  It's not easy getting those big projects off the ground, but it turns out that Trump's share in these enterprises is largely in name only, including his signature Trump Tower, which he occupies on a long term lease.

No problem, says Mr. Trump, who describes himself as the King of Debt.  Interesting for a guy who has been deriding the federal government for running up so much debt.  Of course, in the real estate business debt isn't necessarily a bad thing.  The main thing is to keep ahead of that debt, which the Donald seems to do.  If nothing else, he can declare bankruptcy as he did on his Taj Mahal in Atlantic City to …

What the hell have you got to lose?

After Trump's mad dash to Louisiana to assure flood victims he was there for them, he was in Michigan telling African Americans "what the hell have you got to lose?"   I'm not sure what audience Trump was trying to appeal to in these cases.  Obviously, not actual flood victims, as he spent less than a minute with a relief group, and certainly not Blacks, as he was making his plea in Diamondale, which is 93 per cent White.  As Sarah would so eloquently say, this is putting lipstick on a pitbull.

Trump was happy to present a set of alarming statistics on Blacks largely for the consumption of his White audience that already see Blacks as lazy.  This seemed less an appeal to draw in Black voters to him as to keep them at home on election day.  More cynically, it reinforces Black stereotypes with the aim of mobilizing White voters this Fall.  He tried to give his "message" a positive ending by saying that after four years he would have 95 per cent of the Black …

It Smells like Olympic Spirit, Part II

The only thing I can think of is that Donald Trump was determined not to be upstaged by the Olympics, flying off the handle in public so that the media would continue to focus on him during this long fortnight.  Thank God Usain Bolt came along to steal the thunder!

Even more absurd is all this attention being given Ryan Lochte and three other American swimmers who were apparently robbed at gunpoint, which led to Lochte "sneaking" out of Brazil to avoid questioning by the Rio police.  I suppose it was the part where the swimmers claimed the robbers were dressed as police officers that pissed off the Rio police.  Can't say that I blame them.  A rather ignominious end for Lochte, who came up well short of expectations in the pool and out.

It's been a weird Olympics with so much focus on all the wrong things, like Al Trautwig questioning Simon Biles relations, and all that faux controversy over Gabby Douglas not properly saluting the flag when the gymnastics girls won g…

Bitch I'm Madonna

I suppose when you haven't had a hit in three years, you try to win over the young audience with what might be described as the pop music version of agitprop, bringing in Nicki Minaj and a host of other celebs to give the video some bling.  Nicki gets co-writing credits.  For a woman who wants the music world to take her seriously, this isn't the way to go about it, but bitch this is Madonna!

Granted, Madonna has tried her hand at respectability in the past with mixed results.  Probably her shining moment was as Evita, in the cinematic version of Andrew Lloyd Weber's pop opera.  But, she is best remembered for masturbating on stage at MTV's video music awards in 1984, which launched her prodigious career.  It's a mixed bag to say the least.

There is no doubt Madonna has changed the way we look at pop music.  She has been the role model for the young talent featured in Bitch I'm Madonna.  Miley Cyrus, took her ' 84 VMA performance and did it one better in 2…

Bob Dole at 93

The former senator and presidential candidate was initially reticent to endorse Donald Trump, but has become quite a vocal supporter.  Not surprising since Paul Manafort was a top strategist in his '96 campaign.  However, Uncle Bob seems to have a bad memory.  Republican operatives, with the help of Manafort, decided to cut loose the floundering presidential candidate and focus on Congressional seats, which they were determined to maintain control of.

This so-called "blank check" strategy wasn't unleashed until October, blindsiding poor old Bob who was drubbed in the national election, losing by nearly 10 per cent of the popular vote and over 200 electoral votes, pretty much bringing to an end any influence he had in the GOP.   Looks like we can expect to see this strategy again, but the situation is different now, according to Andrew Romano.  Dole may not have been very popular among voters, but he wasn't a drain on the GOP.  Trump threatens to bring everyone d…

Is there a doctor in the room?

Last week, Sean Hannity put on his best Dr. House impersonation by calling together a team of doctors to do a differential diagnosis on Hillary Clinton.  He was feeding off the numerous images and reports on conservative blogs that were questioning Hillary's health, largely over a photograph from February when she slipped on some icy steps while campaigning in New Hampshire.

As the Washington Post reported, it was a pile of nonsense even if Dr. Hannity tried hard to make it sound like a serious medical investigation, "But watch the video," said Hannity, playing back the bobble-head clip, "it almost seems seizure-esque to me."  Media Matters offers a slightly different telling, along with a montage of clips that Hannity used to try to make his case that we need to see Hillary's medical records.  To her credit, Fiona Gupta, a neurologist, didn't play along, saying that Hillary's strange movements were probably mostly the result of stress.  But, Marc…

Is History Dead?

As far as many conservatives are concerned the Bushes have been obliterated from history.  As we heard from Katy Pierson, Obama is now responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  No longer do we hear any mention of George Bush, much less his father, who got us into this mess to begin with the Persian Gulf War back in 1991.

For the past 20 years there has been a thorough cleansing of history thanks to Fox News and the rise of conservative websites and blogs on the Internet.  I suppose we should thank Newt Gingrich for his Contract with America, as it ushered in this brave new conservative world, designed largely to repudiate the liberal past.  Bill Clinton had only been in office two years, but that was more than enough time for Newt to have determined Bill would undo everything the great Ronald Reagan had started, and was determined to render Clinton "irrelevant."

Fox News, established in 1996, became the propaganda arm of this brazen vision.  By this point, Newt wa…

Jon Who?

One of the most unlikely supporters of Donald Trump is Jon Huntsman.  It may not be a name you recall, but ever so briefly he was pitched as the GOP candidate most feared by Obama, as he was considered someone who could appeal to a broad spectrum of voters in a general election.  As it turns out, he couldn't even get past New Hampshire because of the "Populist faction," as he called it, within his own party.  While this "tribe" didn't get its man in 2012, presumably Rick Santorum, it got Trump in 2016.

Huntsman skips over his relationship with Obama.  He served as the administration's Ambassador to China for two years.  However, the bitter partisan divide of 2010, which spawned the Tea Party, apparently led Huntsman to reconsider his position within the State Department and he opted out to co-chair a political action group known as No Labels with Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh.  They managed to draw a few other former mainstream politicians like Kay Baile…

It's hard to age gracefully when you are a politician

I woke up to a meme on facebook that showed a sickly Bill Clinton alongside a virile Sammy Haggar, apparently intended to illustrate what politics does to the man.  It doesn't matter that Bill went through bypass surgery in 2004 or the health problems that limit him on the campaign trail, someone was determined to present Bill in the worst possible light.  Yet, when you stand Bill alongside Keith Richards he no longer looks so bad.

Bill is considered to be a huge asset for Hillary.  He enjoys high favorable ratings, is widely regarded as having been a good president, despite his sexual indiscretions, and still comes across as very affable in interviews.  GQ recently offered this profile on Bill, showing that he is still cool if not as energetic as once before.  Yet, somehow Bill looks subdued, one might even say "cowed" in the presence of Hillary.  
Trump's strategy, before he went off the rails, was to link Hillary to Bill in the most unflattering of terms.  Donald…

Mr. Irrelevant

After garnering quite a bit of attention in 2008 by endorsing John McCain over Barack Obama, some were curious who Joe Lieberman would endorse this time around.  Apparently, he actually had a hard time deciding, telling Fox a couple days ago that he was thinking about supporting Trump.  It seems the "second amendment" threat tipped him the other way, as he has now come out in favor of Hillary Clinton.

As you might recall, Joe traveled all around the country with Mackie 8 years ago, and there was some speculation McCain would pick him as his VP, but Joe didn't have enough clout among the religious conservatives, so we got Sarah Palin instead.  No matter, Joe still gave his full-throated support to his Senate buddy, while everyone else was questioning such an absurd choice.

Despite being one of the featured speakers at the Republican convention, the Democrats still let Lieberman caucus with them in the next Senate session.   Nonetheless, Joe couldn't bring himself to…

Gold makes the man

Michael Phelps may have won three times more gold medals than Mark Spitz, but he still doesn't cut as dashing a figure as Mark did after amassing a 7-medal tally at Munich in 1972.  For decades, this record stood until Michael won 8 gold medals at Beijing in 2008, adding to his previous 6 from Athens, and the 7 more he has won in Olympic Games since, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Spitz had a total of 9 golds, including the 2 he had won previously in Mexico City, where he had promised to win 6 golds.  Everyone was anxious to see if he would fulfill his promise in Munich, joining the 4x100 medley relay team at the last minute to win a total of 7 medals, all in world record times.  Even that sparked a bit of a controversy as he bumped another American swimmer for that spot, with accusations that Spitz was being greedy.  Just the same, the poster of Spitz sporting his 7 gold medals was even more popular than Burt Reynolds famous Cosmo centerfold from the same y…
Is Trump looking for an exit strategy or has he simply gone off the deep end?  Charles Krauthammer had a hard time rationalizing Trump's latest comments in which the Donald appeared to imply the only way to stop Hillary from nominating liberal judges is to take her out.  Of course, Krauthammer still left a little wiggle room for doubt, but noted that this latest gaffe is entirely self-inflicted.  He doesn't believe Trump is going to suddenly become responsible.

Whatever the case, Trump remains in the race despite his plummeting poll numbers, which threaten to take the Republican Party down as a whole in November.  Some Republicans are already abandoning ship, looking to create as much distance between them and Trump as possible.  Susan Collins is the latest to state she cannot bring herself to support Trump.  However, that didn't stop George Prescott Bush from offering his endorsement, breaking the Bush ranks by saying that Republicans should stand behind Trump.

As the ri…

It smells like Olympic spirit

Once again the Olympics are upon us, and the Games seem to be going smoothly despite all the worries whether Brazil could pull it off.  Still, there was some turbulence in the water, as Yulia Efimova squared off against Lilly King in the first controversial event of the long fortnight.

Efimova shouldn't have even been in the pool, but was granted an 11th hour reprieve when the sports body FINA couldn't conclusively prove how long melodonium stays in the blood system.  Efimova claims she stopped taking the performance enhancing drug last year before it was banned, even though she tested positive in April.  Her appearance in the 100-meter breaststroke heats led to a chorus of boos from the audience, but Yulia embraced her "bad girl" image, wagging her finger at the crowd when she won her semi-final race over the previous Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte.  Lilly King was having none of it, winning her semi-final race with a time 0.02 seconds faster than Efimova and so …

When feelings count more than facts

or why it is so hard to win an argument against conservatives

Rather telling article on why it is pointless to argue with Trumpkins or any conservatives for that matter.  Newt Gingrich adroitly pointed out, it is perception that matters, not facts.  The report notes that persons only want "facts" that reinforce their beliefs, and trying to argue the contrary serves no purpose other than to reinforce their beliefs, as they dig their heels in even more.  Worth knowing the next time you get into an argument with someone on facebook.

Bill Nye learned this the hard way when he tried to refute Ken Ham's position on Creationism.  Not only did Nye lose the debate, but Ham got so much public and private funding in the wake of that faux debate that he was able to build his dream of a full-size replica of Noah's Ark to add to his Creationist Museum in Kentucky.  The Ark has cost over $100 million and will be open soon for all too see.  It comes with a hefty price tag however.  …