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Showing posts from October, 2015

Hey Dude, Ben Carson is Black!

Last time around it was Herman Cain pitching himself as the "real black man."  This election year, it is Jonah Goldberg claiming that Ben Carson is more "authentically African-American" than Obama, and that once again Democrats "hate" this.  There are all kinds of arguments you can make for Black Republicans, but being more "real" or "authentic" is probably not the best course to take.

Jonah is your typical conservative pundit.  He rose to notoriety through the National Review, published a book a few years ago condemning liberals by comparing their views to fascism, replete with a smiley face Hitler on the cover.  In it, Goldberg shows how the worst of 20th century totalitarianism can be laid at the doorstep of liberal ideas, blasting everyone from Mussolini to the Black Panthers.  It has a slight bit more academic rigor than the usual conservative book along these lines, but ends up collapsing under its own argument because Goldberg …

Careful what you read

It seems these days everyone wants to be The Onion or Borowitz Report, circulating tantalizing stories for gullible readers.  Marlboro "M cigarettes" continue to make the rounds, even though Snopes dismissed it as a joke recirculated on Abril Uno earlier this year.  It probably won't be long before Big Daddy Tobacco stakes out a claim to growing marijuana market, which is reaping in respectable profits in Colorado and Washington.  Growth and distribution of cannabis sativa remains tightly controlled, limiting its profitability.  However, as more states join the legalization drive one can expect such restrictions to diminish and Philip Morris to join the bandwagon.
In the meantime, a number of speciality brands have cropped up, including Willie's Reserve, marketed by Willie Nelson himself.  You figure it won't be long before one of the most famous stoners of all time has his brand.  Tommy Chong has been busy experimenting with his version of pre-roll joints for di…

Loose Screws

A friend of mine dropped a link to this article on my Facebook page yesterday morning, asserting that John Kerry's daughter married an Iranian physician with close ties to the current Iranian minister of foreign affairs, Javad Zarif, implying of course that Kerry had special interests in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal.   Yes, I will not believe because it is pile of nonsense.  What can you expect from Allen B. West's website.

Sadly though, persons pick up these stories and quickly disseminate them across social media, even when they are six years out of date.  It seems few persons bother to do a simple fact check.  It is enough that the name is correct to imply that Brian Vala Nahed is Iranian.  Actually, he was born in Los Angeles, attended university at UCLA and Yale and is a well respected neurosurgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.  According to Snopes, he has never even traveled to Iran, much less established close ties with Mr. Zarif or anyone else in the Iranian…

The Neverending Ballad of Billy the Kid

I never could understand this love affair with Billy the Kid.  This photo has put the notorious outlaw back in the news.  That's supposed to be Billy on the left.  If genuine, the photo is expected to fetch well over two million dollars, but just in case it is being insured for $5 million, as it is believed to be only the second known photograph of William Bonney.

Of course, National Geographic wasted no time in making a two-hour special on the photo, giving it the title:  Billy the Kid: New Evidence, hosted by Western aficionado Kevin Costner.  Part of the enduring myth of the Kid is that Pat Garrett never gunned him down at the Maxwell Ranch in New Mexico, and Billy lived to the ripe old age of 90 under the alias of Brushy Bill Roberts.  There were other claims as well that led to a DNA investigation in 2003, which proved to be anything but conclusive.

Billy's story has inspired writers, musicians and filmmakers down through the ages.  Aaron Copland even wrote the music for…

Epic Fail!

The Benghazi House Select Committee self destructs

If the aim of this special committee to further investigate the attack on the special diplomatic mission in Benghazi was to destroy Hillary, it failed miserably.  Hillary ripped Trey Gowdy and his hand-picked committee to shreds at a hearing that couldn't have come at a worse time as far as these elections are concerned.

This special committee has dragged this "investigation" out for over a year, after previous investigations by Republican committees yielded nothing.  Gowdy would have been wise to pull the plug months ago, but instead he persevered in the wake of the faux e-mail scandal thinking something would turn up in all those purged e-mails to make Hillary complicit in the events that took place in Benghazi over three years ago.  This despite the CIA telling the committee there was nothing in the e-mails to suggest Hillary had done anything specifically wrong when serving as Secretary of State.

Gowdy can't be…

Stuff Happens

After a nearly $20 million ad blitz, Jeb hasn't seen any appreciable gain in his poll numbers in New Hampshire or anywhere else for that matter.  He has spent about four times more than the Donald so far, but has much less to show for it.  Seems he should consult his grandchildren as to how to use twitter and instagram, as that is where Trump has been embarrassing him.  But, Jeb is a traditionalist and will continue to campaign the old school way, even as his favorable rating among Republicans plummets.

It's tough to be part of a political family and not get the respect you feel you deserve.  The GOP electorate is making it painfully clear they don't want another Bush, and the Donald is seizing on this sentiment to assail the record of his older brother.  This forces Jeb deeper into the hole, as he has no choice but to defend his brother.  To make matters worse, Jeb is having George stump for him as well.  A few months ago this might have made sense, as George was enjoyi…

Feel the Bern!

Looks like the Republican candidates are beginning to feel the Bern, judging by the attention he is now getting on the campaign trail.  The Donald launched into a fiery attack on Bernie's "socialist-slash-communist" message, dragging Hillary in to boot.  Rand Paul (remember him?) similarly compared Sanders' ideas to communist tyrants of the past.  I guess these guys don't know that most of the European countries are social democracies, which is what Bernie is advocating, not autocratic communist regimes.  Bill Maher had this amusing piece on how Republicans see Bernie.

However, Bill also took Bernie to task over how he would pay for all these socialist programs, such as free university education and universal health care, which of course has been taken out of context by the conservative media, using clips to smear Bernie.  Granted, Bernie has been rather vague as to how he would cover the costs, but has any candidate offered a comprehensive financial plan to dat…

The salute seen around the world

This photo still resonates 47 years later, especially given all the attention Black Lives Matter has been getting in the news media and among the presidential candidates.  Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood barefoot and held their black-gloved fists high in a Black Power salute that sent shockwaves around in the United States and around the world.  How dare these two men "politicize" the Olympics, echoed all the leading newspapers and television news programs of the time.  I guess it is one thing for countries to politicize the games, but another when individual athletes do.

However, lost in this story is is the Australian guy on the podium with the two American athletes.  That was until a documentary was made of Peter Norman, who actually finished second in that 200 meter race behind Tommie Smith who set a new world record.  Norman's time still stands as the national record in Australia.

The 1968 Olympics were already marred by violence in Mexico City, when the governm…

Time to bring this show to an end

For a man who said he is prepared to spend $1 billion on his campaign, he has only anted up $1.8 million so far, much of it on his trademark cap, which has helped him generate nearly $4 million in contributions that has been spent as well.  Of course, Trump hasn't had to worry about publicity, thanks to the adoring news media, which has followed him 24/7 ever since he entered the race in June.  However, you have to wonder what if anything he has done to organize staff in early primary states?

Most candidates rely on huge staffs to get their names out in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as much as they can afford anyway.  Perry and Walker had to drop out because they could no longer support their staffs.  Trump seems to rely almost exclusively on twitter and instagram, along with the trolls, er volunteers, he has defending him in the comment sections.  It's a very odd campaign and could signal a whole new way of campaigning if it pays off.

But, this isn't the blitzk…

Trolling the Democrats

It seemed like former Governor Huck had nothing better to do last night than troll the Democratic Debate.  This is the juvenile nature we have come to expect from the Republicans.  Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates tried to have an honest debate by dismissing the silly e-mail scandal that has dogged the Hillary campaign and tried focusing on the issues.  It was Hillary's night, displaying a firm control of events, but then it depends whose side you are on.  The others all struggled to get out from under her shadow, and she probably did well enough to keep Joe Biden out of the race.

You really have to wonder about Webb, Chafee and O'Malley at this point.  None of them had been registering with potential Democratic voters before the debate and it is doubtful they made any lasting impact on voters after that debate.  They all seem like vanity candidates, in this race as an attempt to lift their profiles and be considered for cabinet positions should a Democrat win the White H…

The Nightmare Before Halloween

Halloween has not only become a big business but apparently part of the American "tradition," to read this article on a Connecticut school district that has decided to ban all Halloween activities this year.  Parents are pushing back, demanding that the unofficial holiday remain in place, feeling strongly that it is a vital part of American life.  The school district has chosen to opt for a fall harvest theme instead, which is amusing since this is historically what Halloween celebrated.

Over the years, Halloween has come to be the second biggest "cash cow," or should I say pumpkin, behind Christmas.  We're talking billions each year, on everything from pumpkins to costumes to make-up to all those candied treats.  It has become indelibly ingrained in our consciousness with such television and film movies as It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to The Nightmare Before Christmas, not to mention all the Halloween horror stories that are meant to scare us out…

Re-Imagining America

Creative interpretive history has become a hallmark of the contemporary Republican party, which has gone out of its way to present the Founding Fathers more as Christian clerics or Libertarians than as enlightened statesmen.  This plays well with the base of their political party, which doesn't bother to read the many texts, letters and memoirs of the Founding Fathers.  They bequeathed a wealth of writings that no other founding fathers of any other country can match.  These texts greatly help historians determine what they meant by governance.  Yet, our founding fathers remain the subject of endless speculation and debate that more often than not leaves us scratching our heads.

When Ben Carson isn't dismissing Jews for not standing up for themselves during the Holocaust, he is busy telling audiences that the Founding Fathers not only didn't want a Muslim president, but wrote it into Article II of the Constitution.  Apparently, Carson doesn't think Muslims qualify as …

Guns in America, Part II

In the Aftermath of Umpqua

Some pretty bold pronouncements coming out of Dr. Ben's mouth after the latest mass shooting at Umpqua Community College.  The good doctor claims that if he had been there he would have led the students against the shooter, "that way we don't all wind up dead."  Fortunately, that was not the case.  Many survived, even Chris Mintz, who did charge the shooter and took a number of shots in return.  Chris is being credited for helping to keep the death toll down, but the way Carson tells it he could have done better.

The good doctor has taken quite a bit of flak for this statement.  It might be in his best interest to walk it back a little.  Instead, Carson went even further to say that the Holocaust would have never been perpetrated if Jews had more guns.  Of course, it is not the first time this has been said, but one would like to think that a pediatric neurosurgeon would be a little more sensitive, not only to those suffering through that …

Keep your feet on the ground

To provide some badly needed perspective on presidential polling, you need to slide your mouse over this RCP graph of the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination that ranges from April 2011 to April 2012. You will see that the major fluctuation in preferences occurred between Aug. 22, 2011 to February 22, 2012, with no less than five candidates leading the national polls at one time or another.   At various points, Perry and Gingrich had double-digit leads over Romney, who managed to stay in second place throughout the nomination process because he was the only "establishment" candidate in the bunch.  The rest were insurgent candidates, with the exception of Jon Huntsman who stayed at the bottom of the polling until he dropped out after the New Hampshire primary.

This year is shaping up to be pretty much a repeat, although the fluctuations took place sooner, starting in March, when Walker gave up the lead to Bush, who held it until Trump soared to the top of the polls in July, and …

No Experience Needed

One can well understand the Republicans' desire for fresh new leadership but resting it in the hands of Donald Trump, Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina, three of the top four polling candidates,  really makes you wonder what is going on here.  None of them have ever held an elected office in their life, never worked with the government except on a "transactional" basis and have no foreign policy experience, unless you count Trump and Fiorina's business deals with Chinese and Iranis.  This is like throwing away your whole hand at the poker table and hoping for a pair of aces in return.

A recent poll shows that 66 per cent of Republicans want new leadership in Washington.  This would have made it a governor's year to run for the White House, as voters typically turn to the state level in these situations.  Jeb Bush and Scott Walker did well early, but have since plummeted in the polls.  Walker dropped out of the race all together.  Jeb leads the seven remaining governor…