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Showing posts from September, 2015


The unraveling of the Republican Party feels like a soap opera with John Boehner getting written out of the script.  He has struggled to maintain control of the GOP House members since they regained the majority in 2010, thanks to a wave of new Tea Party representatives determined to overturn "Obamacare."  Boehner did his best to oblige, bringing up a resolution 60 times to appease his fire-eating brethren, knowing full well it would take more than a House vote to do away with the reviled Affordable Care Act.  Unfortunately, folks like Louis Gohmert, Blake Farenthold, Tim Huelskamp and other members of the House Tea Party Caucus do not.  They felt it was enough to will away "Obamacare" and it would be gone.

This unbridled zeal took its toll on Boehner, although he put on his best face on Face the Nation in an effort to show what a loyal conservative he has been, only to be taken out at the knees by "false prophets."  He said he planned to step down at th…

Forever in Blue Jeans

Living in Lithuania, I am amazed at what a pair of Levi's jeans goes for, or for that matter Wrangler or Lee's.  Jeans are still a premium item in Eastern Europe even after all these years of independence.  You will rarely find a pair for anything less than 60 euros, and usually they run between 80-100 euros, which is less than what you would pay for an old Lada.  What is it that makes Levi's so popular that persons are willing to pay any amount of money for a pair?

The demand is so great an enterprising father and son team literally starting mining for Levi's and other pairs of denim jeans and jackets in the old silver mines of California, Nevada and Arizona, where the jeans were commonly worn in the late 19th century.  They can fetch a thousand dollars for just a pocket on eBay.  When the son came across an intact pair of Neustadter Bros. jeans, a rival to Levi's at the time, he was able to fetch $21,000 on eBay.  His father-in-law recently found the holy grail …

The Pope in America, Part II

Obama's Pope

President Obama along with his family were on the tarmac to greet the Pope as he descended from his private plane at Andrews Air Force Base.  Vice-President Biden and his wife were also on hand, as were a handpicked number of other dignitaries.   For many in the conservative media this was further proof that Pope Francis is Obama's Pope.
Fox and other conservative outlets have been vexed by the Holy Father, who unlike his predecessor, who most persons have quickly forgotten, is a social advocate determined to pick up where Pope John Paul II had left off before being interrupted by Pope Benedict. 
It's not like Benedict was a bad guy, although many in the media thought he was.  He was just more a bureaucrat, concerned with the day-to-day affairs of the Vatican rather than public outreach.  This was perfect as far as the conservatives were concerned, as Benedict for the most part stayed home  (mostly for health reasons), except for a brief visit to the US at the…

The Pope in America, Part I

A Kinder, Gentler Pope

The Pope has been treated like a rock star on his tour of America.  People can't get enough of him.  John Boehner was driven to tears when the Pope issued an address in front of Congress.  As a Catholic this was a highly emotional time for the House Speaker.  Pope Francis does reach into a deep emotional well by evoking all that is good in us.  He tried to stir Congress into action on immigration and the refugee crisis by urging legislators to look at these people as human beings not a mass.  The situation in Syria and Iraq isn't much different than it was in Europe during World War II, with many of our parents and grandparents forced to flee the continent because of the violent unrest.

Pope Francis reaches beyond Pope John Paul II, another great humanitarian, in that he truly accepts everyone.  He even assured atheists that they would have a place in heaven.  There is a wonderful sense of humor about him as well, which is what has made him so accessible…

Jeb and the Multi-Kulti Blues

For Jeb "multiculturalism" seems to be about "pockets of isolation," not about celebrating cultural diversity.  This seems odd for a man married to a Mexican woman, converted to Catholicism to be closer to her, and has raised three children in a bilingual and bicultural household, where both cultures are celebrated.

Ed O'Keefe tries to make the argument that Jeb was "adhering to the strict definition" of the word. However, there is no strict definition and most people assume it to mean cultural diversity not cultural isolation.  Bush apparently was trying to say that new immigrants should assimilate in American society, like his wife did, rather than live in isolated communities, like "Little Havana," where you can pretty much maintain your own cultural identity.

Rand Paul also stumbled on the issue of multiculturalism when he claimed that native Americans "don't do very well because there has been a lack of assimilation." Thi…

If only ...

With the very likely prospect of being reduced to the second tier of candidates, Scott Walker quits the Presidential race.  This was the guy the conservative media was fawning over earlier this year and at one time led in the polls, at least in Iowa.  It seems his problems go beyond suggesting a wall be built between the US and Canada.  His campaign began drying up earlier this summer, and he is strapped for cash like Rick Perry, unable to keep his campaign going.  What these GOP candidates are learning the hard way is that it is not enough to have a Super PAC in your corner.  You have to get out and stir up individual contributions and Walker has virtually no "sex appeal" despite the efforts of pundits to make him sound like a political Adonis.

Walker cast his decision to drop out of the race as an act of "selfless sacrifice," urging other candidates to do so in an effort to defeat Trump.  The basic problem is that the anti-establishment Republicans, which Walke…

Ahmed's Clock and Being Muslim in America

For young Ahmed it was quite a week.  In the end he had a personal invitation from Mark Zuckerberg to visit him at Facebook, an invitation to the Google Science Fair and most amazing of all a personal message from the President of the United States to come see him in the White House.  Microsoft decided to make their sentiments more tangible by sending him this impressive gift package.  How did this guy warrant all this attention?

In case you haven't heard, the authorities at MacArthur High School didn't take too kindly to an electronic clock Ahmed made in an effort to impress his Engineering Teacher.  The English teacher mistook it for a bomb, the principal called the police, who marched young Ahmed out of the school in handcuffs and interrogated him for hours without letting him contact his parents.  Even if we consider the English teacher had a legitimate worry given all the wires that surrounded the time piece, there was no excuse for treating the boy like a criminal.


Bernie at Liberty

It is hard not to find a parallel between Bernie's rousing speech before the students and faculty of Liberty University and that of William Jennings Bryan 120 years ago before the Democratic Convention.  Bryan's address became immortalized as the Cross of Gold speech, calling on the government to accept bimetalism, and provide a greater free flow of currency for the mass of Americans. He said the farmers, small merchants and workers of this country were every bit as much business men as the New York banker and deserved their fair share of the pie.  He decried the "trickle down" theory, in which "prosperity (supposedly) will leak through on those below."  He called on Democrats to stand up for the working man and demand a fair currency system.

Bernie's speech was more blunt, as his nature.  He tried to reach the students through scripture, quoting Matthew 7:12 in demanding justice for all Americans.  He strongly stated this is a moral imperative, citing…


Rick Perry has the ignominious distinction of being the first GOP presidential candidate to drop out of the race.  He used the opportunity to hurl abuse at Donald Trump, and also the Democrats, which he believes clouded his campaign with the Travis County indictment hanging over his head.   Hard to admit your campaign simply failed to gain any traction even with the sporty new glasses, which Trump effectively ridiculed.

Former Governor Rick tried to evoke George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism," but it was no match for Trump's fierce rhetoric that quickly seized the imagination (what little there is) of the Republican base.  The "Know Nothings" are clearly in control of the party right now, casting their lot for two outsiders, Trump and Carson, who now command 50 per cent of the electoral pie.  That leaves 15 other candidates to carve up the remainder, with Rick getting a measly one per cent, which once again didn't qualify him for the prime time…

In the Shadow of Two Towers

While most persons were honoring the tragic events of 9/11 last Friday, the Donald used the occasion to promote his Twin Towers II, a failed 2005 attempt to reconstruct the old WTC towers by a group that branded itself the Twin Towers Alliance.   He called the new One World Trade Center "disgusting," designed by an ""egghead architect who really doesn't have much experience in designing something like this,"

Trump lent his name to the misguided venture, as efforts to get the original "Freedom Tower" off the ground had bogged down in petty disputes between Larry Silverstein, the real estate developer, the City Port Authority and the "egghead architect."  Silverstein wasn't happy with the winning design by Daniel Libeskind, demanding more space.  Silverstein had called in David Childs, of SOM fame, to redesign the main tower to better suit his interests.  However, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki liked the "Freedom Tower&quo…

The End of the World As We Know It

Michael Stipe is mad as hell as he's not going to take it anymore.  He literally told Donald Trump to "go fuck yourself" for using the R.E.M hit song, "It's the End of the World as We Know It."  We've yet to hear a fiery tweet from the Donald, as he is currently engaged in a twitter war with Bobby Jindal for comments Jindal made a few days ago regarding Trump's "dead squirrel" sitting on top of his head.  However, we can soon expect Trump to personally answer Michael Stipe, as he does all his harsh critics.

Pirating songs for political campaigns is nothing new.  Trump used Neil Young's "Rockin' in a Free World" to launch his campaign earlier this summer, resulting in a similar angry retort from the Godfather of Grunge, who let everyone know he was supporting Bernie.  In both cases, Trump's campaign manager claimed he had legally secured the rights to use the songs, but through what channels is anyone's guess.  

Yet Another Lost Cause

Charting the GOP's Epic Failure to derail Obama's nuclear deal with Iran actually goes back to before Netanyahu's address to Congress in March of this year, and includes some amazing twists and turns like AIPAC arranging for 50 Congresspersons to personally meet with Netanyahu in Israel this past month in a last ditch effort to block the deal.  The Republicans and their Jewish conservative allies did everything in their power to equate a vote for the Iran nuclear deal as a vote against Israel, spending a huge amount of money on the effort.

In the Republican mind, the only other country that matters is Israel, and more specifically the Netanyahu administration.  They conveniently ignored the former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who thought the negotiations were positive, as well as other Israeli leaders who felt that Bibi had grossly overstepped his boundaries.   All we heard were Bibi's objections and that of a handful of conservative Jewish figures saying how bad this dea…

She's Back!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the circus, Grizzly Mom got free of her chains.  We can thank Donald Trump for unleashing her.  In a recent CNN interview, she imagined herself serving as the Donald's Secretary of Energy because "energy is my baby, oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the earth for mankind's use instead of us relying on unfriendly nations (like Canada), for us to import their ... resources."  Yep, hard to argue with that one.  Maybe she considers Canada a part of us?

It doesn't matter that Sarah defies all credulity, so does Trump's soaring poll numbers.  Nothing seems to phase Teflon Trump.  What would sink any other candidate doesn't even ding the Sloop Donald J.  Many critics cited the selection of Sarah Palin as dooming John McCain's presidential bid in 2008, but here is Donald actively courting her, and his fan base loves it.

They both seem to speak the same language, sort of…

Hail Hail Rock and Roll

Keith Richards recently sparked controversy by calling Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band rubbish, nothing more than a mishmash of tunes which he says the Rolling Stones did the same on Satanic Majesties.  Probably more controversial is his statement that the Stones saved Blues music, noting their appreciation of Chicago Blues.

Not only did they take their band name from a Muddy Waters song, but they made the pilgrimage to Chicago in 1965 and cutting a record with the legendary Chess Records, for whom Muddy Waters recorded.  This scene was highlighted in the movie Cadillac Records, but here's more on that legendary meeting in this 2010 Guardian article by Elijah Wald.

For most young British musicians, Chess records was the Rosetta stone of Rock and Roll.  Not only did the Chess brothers record legendary Blues musicians like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, but the undisputed King of Rock and Roll Chuck Berry.  They also had the incomparable Bo Diddley and Etta James on t…

Black Lives Matter

If you followed the conservative news and blogs you would think Black Lives Matter was a rebirth of the Black Panthers, with these faux news outlets blaming every police death on the movement.  Fox News goes out of its way to find black voices speaking out against BLM, and you find viral videos of kids similarly speaking out against it as well.  Fox News even tried to make a link between Black Lives Matter and the shooting death of Texas police officer Darren Goforth, but then what can you expect from a news network that is still promoting their conspiracy theories regarding Benghazi.

Black Lives Matter formed in the summer of 2013, after the death of Trayvon Martin, which conservatives used in the 2014 midterms to point to the thuggery in the streets. The real thug was George Zimmerman who was carrying a firearm on a neighborhood watch when he got into a confrontation with a black teenager that ultimately led to the boy's death.  BLM arose out of the need to identify these victi…

The barbarity of it all

The Donald's latest Twitter victim is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had written a scathing editorial on Trump for the Washington Post.  It is what you would expect from the man who thinks his poll numbers justify any comments he makes on the campaign trail.  Kareem singled out Trump's bully tactics in his editorial, noting how Trump refuses to take any criticism from the press.  Even in Iowa, Trump banned the Des Moines Register from his campaign events after the paper called on him to drop out of the race.  Unfortunately, it seems to be working as it is Megyn Kelly and not Donald Trump who has fallen out of favor with hardcore Republicans.

This has emboldened Trump to go after virtually everyone.  He has even gone after the Pope in the weeks leading up to the American papal visit, saying he "would not tolerate any criticism of capitalism."  Yet, the most audacious statement was warning the Pope that ISIS is out to get him, as if to say the Pope should stay in the Vatica…