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Showing posts from June, 2014

Yes, Ann, football is a real sport

Seems conservatives have picked a new target of derision -- "soccer."  Ann Coulter isn't the only one who sees the game as un-American.  G. Gordon Liddy tossed in his two-cents, saying he would rather see South American Indians kick around decapitated heads than watch the World Cup.

I have to give the G-man a yellow card.   The game did not originate on the American sub-continent.  It actually dates back to Greek and Roman times, and was played in ancient China as well, before being popularized in England in the 14th century, long before Columbus or any other European (other than a wayward Viking) ventured to America.

All this would be quite amusing if the persons in question didn't take themselves so bats**t seriously.  Glenn Beck apparently thinks there is a worldwide conspiracy to get Americans caught up in World Cup fever, deflecting our attention from real events like Benghazi and the IRS scandal.

Instead of rooting for America's can-do kids, who qualifie…

Killing Garfield

Borrowing a page from that indefatigable historical serial killer, Bill O'Reilly, the death of Garfield has a much greater air of mystery and intrigue than any of the deaths "Papa Bear" has chosen to explore, especially since most Americans would probably first think of a grumpy cat.

As some persons might know, James Garfield was the 20th President of the United States.  His election in 1880 was met with a great deal of expectation, as he had been a Radical Republican and strongly supported Reconstruction, which had ground to a halt in 1876 thanks to the "Compromise" in Congress that led to Rutherford B. Hayes' electoral victory.  Garfield had been great friends with Salmon B. Chase, who served in Lincoln's administration.  He had been one of the administration's point men in the House in 1863, to which he was elected after serving in the Civil War.  He represented Ohio for 9 successive terms.  He was a major advocate of the Freedmen's Bureau, a…

24 Hours of Le Mans

Steve McQueen's Le Mans Porsche 917 is expected to fetch $20 million on the auction block.  The iconic racing car was picked up a decade ago in a "barn find" and has been immaculately restored.  The film from which it dates is considered the greatest racing film ever made, in part because actual footage from the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans was incorporated into the movie thanks to cameras mounted on several racing cars for this expressed purpose.

The car apparently rusted away in a French barn until 2001 when it was bought for an undisclosed sum by an undisclosed owner.  Now it goes on the auction block at the Pebble Beach Car Show, one of the elite automobile events of the year.

A.J. Baime provides a bit of the backstory to LeMans in his book, Go Like Hell.  He focuses on Ford's attempt to outrace Ferrari in an effort to restore its brand image.  Ford's entry was a GT40, a joint British-American effort first launched in 1964.  The car's principal designer, Car…

Mississippi Goddam: Crossing Over

It was a Howard Beale moment for the Tea Party, which is up in arms that Cochran pulled in Democrats to lift him over their favorite, Chris McDaniel, in the Mississippi GOP Senate run-off election.  Craig Shirley, a conservative political consultant and "biographer" of Reagan called it "a win with an asterisk."  I guess we could say the same about Reagan, who wouldn't have won in 1980 and 1984 if it wasn't for the massive Democratic crossover vote, particularly in the Deep South.

The so-called "Southern strategy" had been in place since Goldwater carried a handful of traditionally Southern Democratic states in 1964.  Nixon would later exploit this vote in 1968, thanks to a little help from George Wallace.  Even Ike couldn't carry the South in 1952 and 1956 against an effete intellectual, Adlai Stevenson, from Illinois. Lyndon Johnson helped secure most of the South for Kennedy in 1960.  Of course, many of these Dixiecrats eventually turned Re…

What a friend we have in Jesus?

A new documentary sheds light on evangelical attempts to"rehabilitate" their youth.  A recently returned missionary, Kate Logan, traveled to the Dominican Republic to do a documentary on a highly touted evangelical reform school, Escuela Caribe, only to find barbarous cruelty carried out in the name of Christ.

In Kidnapped for Christ, Logan shows teenagers who had literally been plucked from their homes, with their parents' knowledge, and shuttled away to this island school.  Apparently, Logan wasn't familiar with an earlier book, Jesus Land, written by one of the survivors of this insane religious boot camp, which was published the year before she arrived at Escuela Caribe.  Or, she sought to verify Julia Scheeres' horrifying story of the reform school.

It really makes you wonder what conservative evangelists have in mind when they talk about "gay conversion therapy," as one of the victims in Logan's documentary is a gay teen who was sent to the …

Atlas Shrugged, part III

It seems the producers of Atlas Shrugged will finish the story after a lackluster first two installments that failed to generate much interest.  To help Ayn Rand's canonical work reach a broader audience, the production team has enlisted the talents of Ron Paul, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

Paul seems like a good fit, being an ardent Libertarian himself who may have actually read Atlas Shrugged, but Beck and Hannity are suspect, given their fundamental religious leanings.  As Elizabeth Stoker points out in her opinion piece, Ayn Rand was a staunch atheist and the film's message is starkly anti-Christian.  But, they are only being asked to play themselves.

Ever since the book started being mentioned in political conservative circles, I had to wonder how the Republican Party can embrace Ayn Rand.  Yet, not only Ron Paul, but Paul Ryan and others constantly refer to her.  Many thought (including myself) that Ron Paul named his son after the Objectivist writer, only to disappoint…

Gunfight at the Golden Corral

In today's highly charged rhetorical political world, the Second Amendment probably gets the most lip service.  Although the "debate" is relatively new, both sides like to root their arguments in history, cutting and pasting from the Founding Fathers or simply inventing passages to suit their purposes.  The "quote" in the political cartoon came from a draft by Jefferson for the Virginia Constitution in 1776, and is often cited by gun advocates.   However, the passage was not adopted.

James Madison is generally credited for the second amendment, which makes it pretty clear that the main purpose was to ensure the means to form a militia.  In reading Pauline Maier's book, Ratification, the amendments were an afterthought, used to win the favor of crucial states like New York and Virginia, which the Federalists felt would turn the other states.  Madison initially felt there was no need for amendments at all.  All though, I don't remember her spending too …

The Dress Doctors

You wonder who the fashion arbiters are today when Rihanna appears in a competely shear dress, with a pair of panties to hide her private parts, at the CFDA Fashion awards.  As expected she created the most stir, but you have to wonder what the designer who fitted Lupita Nyong'o was thinking as well.

This certainly wouldn't have been the case in the 1930s when the "Dress Doctors" instructed women across the country on how to dress smartly and frugally through pamphlets, books and magazines.  You can read the first chapter of Linda Przybyszewski's new book, The Lost Art of Dress, in which she describes the rise of this tight-knit group of home economists.  Good taste was paramount and a woman didn't go flaunting her wares on an unsuspecting public.
By the 50s things began to loosen up a little, but still a certain decorum was expected, which is why Lee Remick created quite a stir for going without a girdle in Anatomy of a Murder.  A woman wasn't supposed t…

The Politics of Astro Boy

I found myself watching Astro Boy this morning and was amused by the notion of blue core (good) and red core (bad), especially given the strong political theme of the movie.  It was based on a Japanese anime series but tailored to an American audience with some rather explicit references.  Republican parents might not want their kids to see this movie as it could influence them to vote blue when they reach voting age ; )

In the spirit of Pinocchio, a scientist Dr. Tenma tries to recreate his son, placing a blue core, which looks like the Hope diamond, at the heart of the android version, but alas the sad doctor has a hard time identifying with his creation and rebuffs the boy after the tike finds he has all these super powers.  It seems the boy was little more than a way to hide the blue crystal from the evil President Stone, who desperately wants to destroy this positive energy once and for all.  He finds himself in a hotly contested election with sagging poll numbers.  After a rathe…

The war that never ends

It seems that Iraq is one of those recurring nightmares Americans just can't shake.  No sooner do we pull out of the country than all hell breaks lose.  Seems our pundits and partisans who pushed the United States into war with Iraq are now trying to thrust the blame for the current unrest on the Obama administration for coitus interruptus before the seeds of democracy could be properly fertilized in Iraq.  Jon Stewart had a field day with these old hawks, but much more surprising was Megyn Kelly calling out Dick Cheney for his harangue in the Wall Street Journal.

It's more like the Collapsing Bush Doctrine as we see the fragile "democracy" in Iraq unravel before our eyes.  To those who have followed the events before,during and after the war none of this comes as a surprise.  Andrew Bacevich has savaged both Bush an d Obama for the war, but has heaped his harshest scorn on the architects of the war, William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz.  You might throw in Richard Pe…

Mississippi Goddam, part II

The Mississippi Senate Republican primary is probably the ugliest election of the year, as it pits a new Tea Party darling, Chris McDaniel, against longtime incumbent Thad Cochran.  Even former governor Haley Barbour has come under fire from the radical right wing  because of his support for Cochran.  It seems the good folks of Mississippi want to take the Magnolia State back to the days of slaves and cotton, not content with the current Republican status quo, which they feel is too close to Washington.  As Florence King wrote in her ribald memoirs of her time at Ole Miss, you have Good Ole Boys and you have Bad Good Ole Boys, although in this case it is pretty hard to tell them apart.

The odd part is the state has benefited greatly during Thad's tenure, so we'll call him the Good Ole Boy.  For every tax dollar the state has paid to the federal government its citizens have gotten three back.  So what's the fuss?  Isn't that what going to Washington is all about, seein…

There you go again

You know its a slow week in politics when Mitt Romney's name starts getting tossed around as a 2016 nominee.  It seems he has been continuously running for the Oval Office ever since he stepped down as governor of 2007.  Here he is again blasting away at the Obama administration and calling the Foreign policy under Hillary Clinton a "monumental bust."

The Bergdahl swap and the civil unrest in Iraq and the Ukraine has brought increased scrutiny of the Obama foreign policy, which has opted for a policy of containment, a long held US strategy until Bush ushered in a new era of preemptive war that appealed greatly to conservative hawks.  The rise of extremism in Iraq has brought these hawks out of the woodwork, decrying the Obama administration for having botched Iraq and giving the Taliban succor with his "unprecedented" trade for Bergdahl.

Mitt fancies himself a bit of kingmaker and has been hosting "ideas summits" in an effort to cult…

Stoned Me

I guess it shouldn't come as much surprise that Oliver Stone will be bringing Eric Snowden to the big screen at some point in time.  He bought the rights to Luke Harding's book on the NSA whistleblower, whom The Guardian befriended and has been pretty much plugging his story since day one.  It won't be a documentary like his previous effort with Showtime on the pernicious "untold history" of the United States.  Seems Ollie wants a little more room to expand the story into a thriller, which will take some doing as it has pretty much played out as a soap opera since The Guardian first broke the news in June 2013.

Hard to believe it has only been a year.  It feels like this story has drug on as long as the Julian Assange trial. It is hard to know what to think of these whistleblowers since opinions are extreme on both sides.   But, no doubt Stone thinks the world of Snowden, calling him a "hero."

To read The Guardian, Snowden is a "committed Republi…

A Tragic Remembrance

Father's Day dates back to the early 20th century, but it wasn't until 1966 that it became nationally recognized by proclamation, which Lyndon Johnson signed on this day.

Sonora Smart Dodd is generally given credit for the origin of the appreciation day, but it was two years earlier that Grace Golden Clayton asked West Virginia to honor fathers after a tragic coal mining accident that killed 360 miners, most of whom were fathers.  It was the worst mining disaster in US History.  The Appalachian state recognized the day in 1908.  Washington followed suit in 1910.

Oddly enough it took quite a while for the appreciation day to catch on, despite support from both Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge.  Seems many men thought such a day was unnecessary, as they would end up having to treat anyway since men were the principal breadwinners at the time.  But, eventually the idea of a national holiday garnered support and Father's Day was officially recognized.


Seems the death of the Tea Party was a bit premature, as they managed to pull off a major upset in Virginia by knocking off Eric Cantor, and for less than one Cantor's campaign team spent on steaks.  For the last four years, Cantor has been Boehner's bull dog in the House but now it seems he will step down as majority leader in the wake of this stunning defeat.  But, Democrats shouldn't get too giddy because Cantor's district is heavily Republican and Dave Brat will most likely take his seat in the next session, barring a major foot-in-mouth moment.

Score one for Laura Ingraham who plugged Brat hard and heavy, having felt that Cantor had lost his "reputation."  She is the conservative host of a Virginia-based talk show that gave Brat plenty of free air time when the money was behind Cantor.   It is also a big knock against immigration reform, as Brat used this issue to hound Cantor throughout the campaign.

Not that Cantor was ever a major proponent of immigr…

Coal in the Stocking

Allison Lundergan Grimes has fired back at President Obama on the new EPA regulations he wants to place on carbon emissions.  Grimes finds herself in the unpleasant position of having to defend Kentucky's coal mining interests.  It's not so much jobs as it is cheap electricity that makes coal a big issue in the Bluegrass State.  As far as jobs go, Kentucky coal mines only account for one per cent of state's labor force.  However, coal generates 92 per cent of  the state's electricity, making it one of the cheapest rates in the country.

Yet, throughout this campaign both Grimes and McConnell have been stressing jobs.  The cuts in coal mining jobs are a result of the industry itself, which requires less and less manpower to produce the same amount of coal.  The EPA regulations concern the emissions from the power plants.  But, in a laggard state economy (8.4% unemployment) every job counts at least in terms of political rhetoric.

Grimes has distanced herself from Obama …

Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap

In what probably has to be a new low, Virginia Republicans pay off state senator Philip P. Puckett to resign his position so that the GOP will have the votes to block medicaid expansion.  Puckett will now be the deputy director of the state tobacco commission and his daughter gets a judgeship.  It sounds like something out of the antebellum South and I'm sure won't be ignored this election cycle.

Both the GOP and Puckett deny such a deal took place, but it is so transparent as to be undeniable, especially since they are taking advantage of the absence of two other Democratic senators to call an early session to secure the vote they need to block medicaid expansion, and appoint Puckett's daughter to her new judgeship.

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe apparently has little recourse.  Obviously the state Republicans did their homework, using both hook and crook to get the advantage they needed in the state legislature.  With political stunts like this, you have to wonder …

The Good War

The further a war drifts into the pages of history, the better it is remembered.  That is certainly the case with World War II, which has been called The Good War because the allied forces were able to defeat the axis of Fascism that threatened the make up of Europe.

D-Day is for Americans and Europeans what Victory Day is for Russians.  The successful invasion of Normandy eventually brought an end to the war, but the Germans were already back on their heels after the defeat they suffered at Stalingrad.  This was a German army clearly on its last legs, and while we finished them off, Soviet forces claimed much of Eastern Europe as their spoils.

The number of deaths as a result of this war was absolutely staggering.  An estimated 50 million people died.  60 per cent of the deaths were civilian, as city after city was laid to waste.  It was only after the defeat of Hitler that we were able to see the carnage.

But, D-Day is a day of remembering heroic moments and even re-experiencing t…

Ghosts of War

John McCain is certainly not known for his consistency, but at age 77 you would at least think he would stick to his guns on one issue.  Unfortunately, he wants to have it both ways on the prisoner swap that led to the release of Bowe Bergdahl.

Only three months ago he said to Anderson Cooper that he was open to a deal with the Taliban, which indicates the Obama administration was keeping Congress informed of its intended actions.  McCain was first approached in 2012 along with other Senators in regard to the proposed deal.  He expressed his concerns but was open to a swap then as well.  Now that it has actually happened, McCain is airing his criticism of the deal, couching it in the hyperbole we have come to expect from Republicans.

The odd thing is that McCain himself was part of a prisoner swap back in March 1973 when the United States began its withdrawal from Vietnam.  He was in a second wave of American POW's being released in exchange for Vietcong.  Nixon had declared an e…