For the GOP, Call Me When Someone with Something to Lose Speaks Up

TrumpEmperor

In every analysis of the Republican Party and the dotard that leads them, the statistics say that their numbers are going down. Since the act of swearing in Orange Foolius in January, his overall approval has fallen in ALL 50 STATES, including those that he won in the November election handily (in Alabama, his approval has fallen 11%). Much of this is driven by the departure of independent and “swing” voters who migrate between the two parties, but there is also some eroding of support from those who align with the GOP, especially rural whites that haven’t seen the “winning” they were hoping for.

These numbers are noticed by those who bear the brunt of the idiot’s ravings, the Congress and state officials, whose ratings have cratered. Battered by the continued quagmire that Congress is – even though they have majorities in both bodies – these members of the GOP (in one of the most ridiculous statements that exist in the human vernacular) aren’t viewed as “conservative enough” and face backlash from the electorate. With this in mind, two of the stalwarts of the Republican Party in the Senate have chosen to resign rather than risk being rejected in the upcoming 2018 elections.

Last week, former President George Bush (II) blistered the current administration with a speech that called into question not only his abilities but the methods of leadership (nationalism) that Orange Foolius was trying to inflict on the country. Earlier this week, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker opened the exodus from the Senate by stating that he would not seek reelection in 2018. Then, in a stunning speech on the floor of the Senate where he stated that Orange Foolius was “debasing the nation,” Arizona Senator Jeff Flake also indicated that he would not seek reelection in what was expected to be a bruising fight (Corker did not face much threat of being “primaried”).

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Add in the current maverick streak from the senior Senator from Arizona, John McCain, and the nuanced and thought out positions of Maine Senator Susan Collins (also considering leaving the Senate), Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (continuing the family tradition of being “Dr. No”) and Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, you might believe that there is an uprising in the GOP that would pitch this jackass out on his plump ass along with the Confederacy of Dunces he has convened. For me, however, give me a call when someone in the GOP with something to lose actually speaks up against the fool that they say is their “leader.”

There’s a base statement that people must keep in mind whenever you hear someone speaking out against a particular subject. For lack of a better way to put it, the old gambling axiom of “What skin do you have in the game?” is precisely the thing to remember.

“Skin,” for those that aren’t up on that vernacular, is to have something at risk, usually something that is of a loss (sometimes significant) to you. In the gambling world, that usually entails some monetary wager. In this circumstance, however, it would mean having to put something on the line that would be greater than any monetary wager could ever be.

In the case of Flake, there was already plenty of evidence that he was going to have a very difficult time in getting through the GOP primary, let alone trying to beat a Democratic challenger and a revved-up opposition in a state that is supposedly shifting to the left. Flake also had previously spoken out against the current administration in the same passive aggressive manner in a book he had written, Conscience of a Conservative, which basically aired his grievances with Orange Foolius’ administration without mentioning him by name.

Corker, when he was first elected in 2006, said he would only serve two terms as a Senator, apparently employing the philosophy that if two terms was good for the President, it was good enough for a Senator. But there are other things that might be more appealing for the popular Tennessean, including a run at the Governorship in the Volunteer State. He also hasn’t ruled out being involved in government (on the state or national level) again in the future.

McCain’s story is well known by now. The veteran Senator, elected to his sixth term as the senior Senator from the Grand Canyon State just last year, was diagnosed earlier this year with a terminal brain tumor called a glioblastoma. Once diagnosed with the condition, patients have a usual life expectancy of 14 months, so it is obvious that, unless there are some Area 51-type secrets floating around Washington D. C., that McCain will not likely end his current term as Senator.

Although these three men (and we’ll get to Murkowski, Collins and Sasse in a moment) have served admirably for the past 12 years minimum, they have helped to create the issues that currently plague our nation. Corker was on the short list for the #2 seat on the GOP ticket with the Tangerine Nightmare and was one of the first legislators in D. C. to support him and his candidacy (the other, the Keebler Elf Jeff Sessions, received a cozy Attorney General appointment for licking his master’s boots). And other than his dramatic, Caesar-esque “thumbs down” vote on trashing the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or, to the simple minded, ObamaCare) this summer, McCain has supported the extreme rightward jerk of the GOP, especially after his drubbing by Bush II (and the neocons trashing of his reputation by insinuating he had an illegitimate black daughter) in 2000 and the resulting realization that he had to change or be steamrolled.

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Normally when you’ve completely fucked something up, you’re expected to stick around and fix it (often called the “Pottery Barn Rule” and made popular by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2002 to Bush II prior to invading Iraq). But these three men are doing the exact opposite. Instead of trying to stick around and cure the ills that their previous actions have brought, they are supposedly going to be “liberated” by being able to vote their conscience (but note they didn’t say “oppose the current President and his actions”).

If you can name someone else who might actually tell Orange Foolius to go screw himself, I’m all ears. Right now, the GOP is like the person they elected, a flaccid chihuahua that has been defanged and declawed. While Murkowski and Collins (who was rumored to be potentially running for the governor of Maine until she shot that down earlier this month) have been a thorn in the side of Orange Foolius since he took office, they haven’t exactly been rabid opponents of the person WHO LEADS THEIR PARTY. With the right arm twisting, they could probably be coerced into the madness (note how, during the debate on the ACA, that both Maine and Alaska were targeted for “extra money” to try to sway the two Senators).

Some might say Sasse has the potential to be that Republican who can lead the party out of its nihilistic nationalism, but he is a first-term Senator that, should Breitbart editor Steve Bannon still be the Crypt Keeper when he comes around for re-election in 2020, will face one of his minions. Additionally, there’s just enough mystery about Sasse to still say he’s your typical, “screw you, I got mine” Republican who doesn’t look beyond anything but the party line (in 2016, he voted against the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which would have given states block grants to fight opioid abuse and fund recovery programs).

Paul, who has gone over to the Dark Side in disavowing his libertarian roots in favor of staying in power in D. C. as a Republican (guess who is a frequent golf partner for the Hacker-in-Chief?), has no desire to buck the current administration. If he can get a few concessions that demonstrate he trying to castrate the current federal system, then he can claim his Ayn Rand fantasies are being implemented and still be admired by those who would rather watch Rome burn than build it up.

Absolutely nobody who has spoken out from the GOP has any “skin” in the game. Not one of these people previously mentioned has put their Congressional seat on the line, their reputation, or their years in what was once a party that championed business, trade and was anti-Communist (now it is isolationist, crapping its panties and dreaming of a fascist to save their totalitarian day). And there isn’t anyone currently among the crop of cephalopods – including the tortoise Mitch McConnell nor Paul “Eddie Munster” Ryan – who is showing any ability to step up and tell this administration “Enough,” as Flake lamely did in his Senate speech, especially elected officials like this.

It is time that someone – hell, a massive number of someones – assumed the role of an adult in the Republican Party as a whole and Congress for a start and looked to change things. There is something that Flake said that was spot on: “Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership…Regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.” It is time that the “adults” in the GOP revolt against the odiferous emanations that emit from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue like rancid flesh at a slaughterhouse. Or is it already too late for the party to be saved from the transformation into a fascist organization under the leadership of Bannon and his ilk?

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Who Will Be the Inductees for the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

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It is always a favorite time of the year for me. The announcement of the nominees for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame always draw a great deal of commentary, either about how well the “keepers of the Hall” did in making the nominations or in how much they screwed it up. Thus, when the nominees list was released last week, it was a cause for celebration or debate, depending on how you liked the list.

First, however, let’s look at who WASN’T on the nominee list…

PAT BENATAR

Just what does it take to get the preeminent female rocker of the 1980s to even get a NOMINATION to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, let alone inducted? A four-time Grammy winner, two multi-platinum albums, five platinum albums, three gold albums and rock anthems like “Heartbreaker,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” and “Love is a Battlefield,” Benatar should have been in LONG ago. As of yet, however, she has not received even a nomination.

DURAN DURAN

They were a seminal part of the success of MTV back in the day and they brought about (for better or worse) the “video” era of music. They were nominated previously (at least they have that) in 2015 and 2016, but were overlooked this year. Along with their importance in MTV’s formation and development, the band was highly successful with critics and fans (and the fact that they are the only band who ever had a theme to a James Bond film go to #1 on the Billboard charts – “A View to a Kill”). If you’re going to induct other pop icons from the 80s like Madonna and such, Duran Duran deserves consideration.

OZZY OSBORNE

Sure, he’s already in as a member of Black Sabbath, but Osborne’s solo career lasted longer than his tenure with the Sabbath. In addition, it is arguable that his solo work – along with his continued discovery of ace guitar slingers like the late Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee, Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde – has been more influential than his previous time with the Sabbath.

I could keep on going (trust me, there’s plenty of snubs out there), but that would be a distraction from what we’ve come together for…the breakdown of the nominees. Here are your nominees for 2018 (in alphabetical order), a bit of backstory and an examination of their chances for induction come Spring 2018.

BON JOVI

Whether you like it or not, Bon Jovi was a force to be reckoned with in the 1980s. That Jon Bon Jovi has “kept the faith” for the most part with the other members of the band – save guitarist Richie Sambora – and continued to perform into the 21st century, it is difficult to conceive that they won’t be voted in by the Hall. Look for them on stage doing “You Give Love a Bad Name” next spring.

KATE BUSH

To be honest, I was completely stunned to see Bush nominated. Her ethereal voice and eclectic musical stylings were an acquired taste (one I tremendously enjoyed) and, thus, she never was a darling of the U. S. market (the U. K., her home country, LOVED her). If we’re looking at the critical aspect, Bush is a shoo-in; if it comes down to some perception of “popularity,” then probably not.

THE CARS

This might stun some readers, but I’ve had a complete 180 on whether the boys from Boston belong in the Hall. Last year I said that they weren’t good enough but, after I went back and reviewed their catalog, the diversity of their music swayed me. In the 70s, The Cars were a straightforward guitar rock band. As the 80s came along, however, they adapted to New Wave and then the MTV Generation, all while maintaining an unsurpassed quality to their overall efforts. It changed my mind and, hopefully, others will have reflected like I did and The Cars will enter the Hall this spring.

DEPECHE MODE

While I appreciate the music of Depeche Mode, it isn’t something that really set them out from the crowd of synthesizer bands of the 1980s. INXS, The Cure, The Human League…there’s a litany of bands that were similar in style to Depeche Mode that have just as much claim to a spot in the Hall. That’s why they won’t get in…it isn’t the Hall of Pretty Good, it’s the Hall of Fame.

DIRE STRAITS

This one falls under the category of “they weren’t in already?” Mark Knopfler’s exquisite finger picking guitar style is unique in the world of rock and makes for a distinct sound for the band. Add in a nearly 40-year career in creating smart, enjoyable songs and albums and it is long overdue for Dire Straits to be inducted.

EURYTHMICS

Here is another dilemma facing the voters. While Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart DESERVE to be in the Hall of Fame, there is a logjam in front of them for inductees. The problem with this (as you’ll see here in a second) is if you aren’t inducted early on in your eligibility, then you kind of get forgotten about. Unfortunately, that’s what I see happening to Eurythmics, who are more than qualified to be in.

J. GEILS BAND, LINK WRAY, LL COOL J, MC5, THE METERS, THE MOODY BLUES, RUFUS featuring CHAKA KHAN, and THE ZOMBIES

There was a reason I grouped all these artists together:  it’s because the explanation for their denial of entry into the Hall of Fame is based in the same reasoning. All had their moment in the sun in the History of Rock, but none of them ever made my jaw drop and say, “I’ve GOT to go see them perform!” About the closest one who would come to that criteria would be the J. Geils Band and MAYBE the Moody Blues. All of them together, however, are a part of that “Hall of Pretty Good” argument.

JUDAS PRIEST

If you’re going to recognize hard rock/metal in the Hall of Fame, it is incomplete without Judas Priest. Still pounding out their sound going on 40-plus years now, the Priest is, in many people’s opinion, THE preeminent hard rock/metal band. They definitely invented the “leather and studs” look that was prevalent for theirs and other bands and Rob Halford is one of the most memorable voices in the genre. As the ground breaker for a genre, Judas Priest should have been in the Hall long ago.

NINA SIMONE

Nothing against Simone or the massive amount of talent the woman had – and the travails she had to navigate through in the pre-Civil Rights era – but she’s just not “rock and roll.” There are at least a few nominees of this ilk every year for the Hall of Fame because, in some cases, while they are not traditional “rock and roll,” their style, attitude or actions has had an influence on the overall genre. Simone’s vocal abilities are legendary, but her overall influence on “rock and roll” is limited. Simone isn’t even a member of the Rhythm and Blues (R&B) Hall of Fame, making it tough to justify selection for the overall Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

RADIOHEAD

Long a critical darling, Radiohead is one of those “fringe” rock bands that probably will come up in discussions over the next few years but never get in. Much like Television or Kraftwerk, they were seminal parts of the rock genre that inspired many acts that followed, but they’re just a little too obscure to capture the attention of many. As such, I don’t think that Radiohead will get into the Hall…but I’ve been wrong before.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

Here is the only other slam-dunk choice for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 2018. Over the span of only four albums, RATM spawned the “rock/rap” genre. Beyond that point, RATM brought back one of the purposes that originally drove rock & roll:  the political nature that tries to change society. The lyrics of the band – enunciated to their full power by Zach de la Rocha – and the searing guitar work of Tom Morello gave their protests full throat. Morello is trying to keep the passion going that RATM brought with Prophets of Rage (and Chuck D of Public Enemy), but he’d be better advised to get back with de la Rocha.

SISTER ROSETTA THARPE

If you’ve never heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, you can be forgiven. But the work done by the woman – playing rock & roll when there was NO SUCH THING – cannot be ignored. In the 1930s and 40s, Tharpe melded blues, gospel, bluegrass, and country into a brew that eventually would become rock & roll music, influencing some of the biggest MALE names that ever were uttered in the music industry. Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley all cited her as influential and her guitar work wouldn’t be out of place in today’s rock world. If you’d like to learn more about her, YouTube has a simply outstanding look at her life that is well worth the time to check out.

Guess it would be obvious that I personally think Sister Rosetta Tharpe should be inducted this spring!

Fans will be able to vote on the inductees, choosing up to five candidates per day until the vote closes. The top vote getter from that process is usually a lock for entry – the previous five winners of the Fan Vote (Rush, KISS, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chicago, and Journey) all were inducted – and there are usually six or more nominees inducted. We’ll find out next spring who will be the newest members of the Hall…and we’ll be back to debate the merits of those inductions!

The Carnival is Coming to A Close

TrumpCarnival

Since January 20 of this year – hell, since the start of the 2016 Presidential campaign in what seems like eons ago but was only about two years back – the people of the States of America have been subjected to a macabre three-ring circus that is the Confederacy of Dunces united under Orange Foolius. Like a drunken clown with Tourette’s, the SCROTUS (So-Called Ruler of the United States) has veered from one controversy to another, infuriating opponents, supporters, and the entirety of the world as a whole and sometimes at in one statement. With this Mr. Hyde approach, many say that the embarrassment in the White House is distracting the public from some of the more heinous aspects of his Confederacy’s actions.

There is some truth to this. As a friend has pointed out to me several times (and we’ve debated heartily), instead of taking action to relieve Puerto Rico from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, the Jackass-in-Chief decided to launch his crusade regarding an issue that had all but died, the protests of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick regarding the treatment of young blacks at the hands of law enforcement and the general inequality that still exists in the country. Continuing a streak of disingenuous behavior that has been a hallmark of his existence, let alone his stint as the SCROTUS, Orange Foolius instead wrongly made the protest about dissing the military, the National Anthem, and the flag, which of course whipped up the knuckle-dragging Neanderthals of his slavering base. This served to distract the public for quite a few days as more than three million Puerto Ricans, without power, food, and potable water, suffered after the storms of Maria had passed.

Now, however, perhaps the carnival is coming to a close.

Yesterday the Vice Chucklehead, the Albino Howler Monkey to the twisted organ grinder that the SCROTUS is, decided he would insert himself into the mix. In a $250,000+ bill to the taxpayers – he came from Los Angeles to Indianapolis (reportedly to see the game, which was honoring future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning’s number retirement into the Colts Ring of Honor), then returned to Los Angeles once his panties got in a twist – Vice Chucklehead saw the 49ers continue the protest that EVERY TEAM in the National Football League is now doing. With his Victoria’s Secret finery firmly twisted in his rectal cavity, he walked out of Lucas Oil Stadium in a snit, purportedly as a part of a plan between him and Orange Foolius.

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In the past, there would have been plenty of dithering over the Albino Howler Monkey’s actions. Instead, there has been a blistering rebuttal of his actions and the fabricated plan by him and the SCROTUS to continue pushing the divisive issue. Indianapolis Star sportswriter Gregg Doyle penned a searing takedown of Chucklehead, blasting him for a political grandstanding that even Stevie Wonder could see. CNN pointed out the costs of the charade while NFL players and social media castigated the duo for the futility of their divisiveness.

There are signs that the patience of the people for the BS this administration is dishing out is coming to a head elsewhere. Although he is in the middle of a primary fight that could determine whether he’ll remain in the Senate, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has issued a tome where he rips the takeover of the Republican Party. Entitled Conscience of a Conservative, Flake repeatedly attacked Orange Foolius, his abrasive, wafer-thin skin attacks on opponents and allies alike and his attempted takeover of the GOP. His fellow Arizonan, Senator John McCain, has also stood against the SCROTUS on several occasions, most notably the health care discussion.

The blasting from inside the party has recently come to head, however. Over the weekend, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who will resign his seat and not seek reelection in 2018, was the target of the Twitter screed of a 13-year old girl – oh, wait, that’s the ignoramus who squeaked his way into the most powerful position in the world. In several Tweets, the SCROTUS piled lie upon lie ON AN ALLY HE NEEDS TO PASS FOREIGN POLICY LEGISLATION. These were easily swatted aside by Corker and his aides, who repeatedly pointed out where the SCROTUS was a lying bastard while calling his administration an “adult day care” where someone had “missed a shift.”

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These actions are a noted change from what has preceded. In the past (this writer included), the press and the people have been peering too closely into the abyss, trying to divinate from the tea leaves, the cryptic tweets and the tossed off statements (like the “calm before the storm” comments from SCROTUS last week during a dinner with high-ranking military members) as to what the jackass is intending to do. This isn’t a criticism of the press or the public as this is what we’ve become used to…you know, when we have sane people that were in positions of power and took under consideration what might be in the best interest of the nation rather than just themselves. With the Carnival Barker in charge, however, people may be realizing it’s time that there was a change.

It has SLOWLY become obvious that people aren’t paying as much attention to what SCROTUS says as what’s going on with actions in the Congress and on the foreign policy stage. For example, while Orange Foolius and his Albino Howler Monkey continue the organ grinder ploy in Indy, there has been moves towards nonrenewal of the Iranian nuclear deal, something that the SCROTUS has been advised against by virtually every breathing human in the administration. There is also the Russian investigation ongoing, which is a Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn plea bargain away from finding serious criminal and electoral misconduct by the SCROTUS campaign leading to the 2016 election by special investigator Robert Mueller.

These things…and many others…aren’t escaping the attention of the people. At least those that are on watch.

The filtering of the white noise BS from this supposed head of state is only the start, however. It is time that people across the board – from the media, to those in either party, to worldwide leaders – finally stand up against the stain that is tarnishing what the country is about. Call the SCROTUS on his falsehoods, his lies and his “smoke and mirrors” attempts to divert attention from his complete and total inanity and inability to even act like a human being, let alone the leader of the free world. Call him out on his blatant racism and support for white nationalists, the Nazi Party and the KKK, which he continues with his dog-whistle actions regarding the NFL and his treatment of the Puerto Rican people (compared to Texas and Florida). CALL HIM OUT…the painfully vain, thin-skinned narcissistic bastard wouldn’t be able to handle it.

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It is time to start to watch this scumbag, his words, and his actions. The carnival sideshow is over and it is time to hold this person responsible rather than allow him to shift the blame elsewhere (another dubious trait he has). It is time to make sure the “adults in the room” – Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster (Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a “dead man walking”…he’ll be out in a month) – ride this petulant child and make damn sure he doesn’t make a misstep that would inflict further damage on this country or the world. And it is time to make this SCROTUS act like he either wants to be the leader of the country or pitch him aside, starting with the 2018 midterms.

You Defend ALL Rights for ALL People, Not Some of Them or Some People

Many moons ago, I defended this country as a United States Marine. It is, other than my wife and my son, one of the things that I’m most proud of and, surprisingly, I did it right. After a four-year stint with Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, I’ve got the official documentation and diploma that says I was honorably discharged for my service to the country.

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Thus, this last weekend – hell, the last 25 years or so, but that’s a discussion for another time – was quite angering for a military veteran. The actions by the SCROTUS, Orange Foolius, and his ill-advised and quite ignorant commentary on the National Football League and, in particular, players who protest the indignities foisted on minorities by law enforcement personnel, last Thursday night lit a firestorm with people. In those comments in front of a group of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals in Alabama, the buffoon in chief whined about how football wasn’t a “real game” anymore because of the concern over head injuries that the players might suffer (let’s just forget the factor of the debilitating effects of CTE). Then he launched off into a topic that, until he brought it back, had pretty much died out.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners,” Orange Foolius blubbered to the slobbering masses, “when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch (and it wouldn’t surprise me if he wanted to go off on the tangent the Pennsylvania fire chief went on in describing Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin) off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

Of course, the diatribe was in response to quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 season-long protest of police brutality and minority oppression by kneeling on the sidelines during the National Anthem. Don’t let the mere fact get in the way that it has since cost Kaepernick his position with the San Francisco 49ers, his team at the time, or the blackballing that has resulted from the other GMs in the league from his peaceful protest. In fact, other than a handful of players in the NFL (Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett most notably, who had a run-in with Las Vegas police that ended in a rather acrimonious situation), Kaepernick’s attempts to bring attention to the continued travesty that occurs far too often had pretty much been brushed under the rug.

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That was until the Tangerine Fool’s hacking of red meat to feed to a bunch of rubes.

After Herr Twitler finished his hissy fit, the entirety of the NFL spoke up as one voice. Instead of a couple of players, more than 250 took a knee. Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, issued a blistering renouncement of Orange Foolius’ statements and entire teams, who would rather piss on the ground that Goodell stands on than join with him, linked together in a show of solidarity against the stupidity of the jackass in chief and him slobbering minions. This included the Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (both donated to the presidential cause of the SCROTUS…wonder if they’re regretting that now).

These protests will continue probably for the remainder of the season, especially since this imbecile and his lobotomy-ravaged sycophants have tried to steal the concept of the protest, trying to make it about the “flag” and “the Anthem” and “the troops” instead of what it was about…the injustices facing minorities in this country, especially at the hands of law enforcement personnel. Be on the lookout for similar protests to begin in the National Basketball Association also.

Kaepernick’s protest was never about the military, nor the flag, nor even the Anthem. So why did he choose his moment last year to make his stand? Because every other means of protest had been taken from the people. Remember those idiots who said they would drive their vehicles into marchers in the street (they thought it was a great idea until a Nazi decided to do it and GOP legislators STILL want to reduce liability for drivers)? So, people don’t like marchers. Well, what about occupying an area and sitting or kneeling? Nope, that offends people too, unless you’re white, armed to the teeth and screaming about how “the gubment” is stealing your land…then you get acquitted. Kaepernick chose the least offensive way to go about making his protest (and, for those of you who say, ‘Why don’t he use his money to make his voice heard’…he has, to the tune of $1 million at the minimum) and it is one that the military men and women of this country should support wholeheartedly.

The military – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and National Guard – is 37% minority. That the dotard in the White House chose to go after minority football and basketball players (yes, we didn’t even touch on the Steph Curry and Golden State Warriors “visit” to the White House, but I’ve got to leave you some legwork to learning) is a damning sign when he doesn’t call out white supremacists, racists, or religious zealots (his very own “spiritual advisor,” the “Reverend” Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, suggested that football players should be thankful that nobody has “shot them in the head”) for their bullshit.

Beyond the racial factor, the military and its fighting men and women do not defend a flag. Those airmen and women, soldiers, sailors, and Marines do not defend a ditty written by a racist as he stood passively by in a boat, scribbling his screed, while watching those said defenders of the country die at the hands of British ships bombing the hell out of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The men and women of the Armed Forces – be they active duty or reservist – defend the people of a country, ALL people, whether they are white, black, brown, red or polka-dotted.

USA Constitution Parchment

They defend the Constitution, the law of the land, and ALL that the document entails. They defend the Bill of Rights and the 27 Amendments that have been made to the Constitution over the past 240 years. That means, when it comes to the question of the “methods of protest” employed by one group or another, they stand for it, even if they don’t agree with it. As a Marine veteran, I support the right of protest. It is one of the many rights that citizens are granted and that I defended for them and for this country. Freedom of speech is arguably (I personally think there’s not an argument) one of the greatest rights we have, the ability to speak out against the government, its politicians, and its institutions. And yes, sometimes that freedom of speech can be used in areas that make you uncomfortable or you dislike. Allowing such speech is the true test of the freedom.

I recall when I was growing up in Illinois there was a small town near Chicago called Skokie, a predominantly Jewish and Polish enclave. There was a band of Illinois Nazis (you wonder where that line “I hate Illinois Nazis” in The Blues Brothers comes from?) that petitioned for the right to march through the villa. After several legal attempts to stop the march were denied – on the RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH – the Illinois Nazis marched and people peacefully protested it. Such raconteurs as Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos also have that same right to be heard; so does comedian Bill Maher, who sometimes takes angles on freedom that people don’t agree with.

Freedom of speech is exactly that…you have the freedom to express your ideas. Now, there is also that right to PEACEFULLY protest on the other side and there are also the consequences of the freedom of speech. If you are willing to accept the consequences of what your freedom of speech might entail – as Colin Kaepernick has been – then your freedom to do it is guaranteed.

The National Anthem is just a song. No military person is defending a song. Likewise, the same could be said about the flag. It is presented as a symbol of the country, not something to be worshipped on the altar of a god. If you are disturbed by someone who is making a peaceful protest by simply kneeling on the ground but you accept something like this…

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Then you are the one with a problem. And if you accept that – or accept a supposed leader in the SCROTUS who thinks that white Nazis are “good people” while calling minority athletes “sons of bitches” – then we can see where the problems in this country lie. And it goes beyond someone kneeling in silence to protest.

Orange Foolius Wasn’t the Cause, but He WAS the Catalyst

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The information out of Charlottesville, Virginia is about as sickening as it can get. While they can gather for protest, a group of white supremacists, Neo-Nazi groups, Ku Klux Klan hoodsmen and “alt-right” practitioners met for a protest in the city regarding the removal of a statue of former Confederate general Robert E. Lee, bearing torches and chanting such things as “Fuck you, faggot,” and throwing the Nazi salute at anyone who it seemed to apply to. On Saturday, met by a counter-protest of…well, pretty much the entirety of the human race…the protests turned violent to the point of death.

In a gruesome video, an “alt-right” member, like an ISIS terrorist, allegedly drove his personal vehicle into a group of counter-protestors, killing one of them and injuring 19 others. The alleged perpetrator’s MOTHER knew he was going to the rally, saying she “didn’t get into his politics.” Two Virginia State Troopers were killed when a helicopter they were riding in that was responding to the protest was brought down. That’s right, three people killed by the scum of society.

For his part, Orange Foolius looked to be the ultimate fool in trying to maintain his courtship of these Neanderthal bastards when issuing his first statement on the subject. “We condemn the…hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” MANY SIDES? Last I checked, you orange hued shitgibbon, it was an ALT-RIGHT member driving his car into protesters – like many suggested during Black Lives Matter protests over the last couple of years – not any of the counter-protestors. If you are trying to court a racist, fascist base that makes up “your people,” YOU ARE NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT. Even his own party members were castigating him for his attempt to mollify the Nazis, the racists and the “alt-right” who WERE the instigators.

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But we cannot put the entire cause on this imbecilic child’s tiny hands. He WAS the catalyst, but the pot was brewing previously; he just gave it a method of release.

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, there were literally millions who were aghast that a BLACK MAN could become the President of the United States. The numbers show in any research you would like to do. No matter what you might call them – “militia” groups, “Patriot” organizations, “Tea Party” members (in fact, many hid behind the “Tea Party” façade rather than admit what they were – white nationalists) – their numbers increased after a black man had the audacity to be elected President. “Militia” groups – basically fat fucks playing soldier for a perceived Armageddon that will never occur – went from 42 in 2008, peaked at 334 in 2011 and was down to 276 by 2015.

The purpose of these groups was to facilitate the anger, the hatred, of people that were different from them. Whether they were blacks, immigrants, Muslims or Asians, the hate was equally spread. And facilitate it they did – fed by the vitriolic gruel from Fox News, Breitbart, and more closely related outlets such as the Daily Stormer and the website Stormfront (which will not be linked to here). And they had eight years – eight LONG years – for that hatred to metastasize; all it needed was something to release it.

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Orange Foolius saw that hatred – hell, many believe he participates in it willingly (and if lawsuits are any indication, he seems to have something against minorities of ANY type) – and fed into it every moment of his scumbag campaign. He worked CLOSELY with a white nationalist/now Presidential advisor Steve Bannon, who used Breitbart to espouse his hatred of Jews and blacks. He put a damn white supremacist, Steve Miller (who was a college friend of the “alt-right’s” Richard Spencer), in as his SPEECHWRITER. And this doesn’t even touch his Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who was once deemed “racist enough” that he was UNWORTHY OF A FEDERAL JUDGSHIP!

Orange Foolius knew these would be the ones who pushed him over the top, would be the “silent” part of his support that wouldn’t be counted by the “normal” people. Thus, he tapped into the anger, tossed gasoline on the fire with his fascist, racist rhetoric. Add in his further xenophobia, misogyny, and utter idiocy on any subject that might call for a nuanced thought, and he cemented their vote.

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But now that they have their “Dear Leader,” they feel they can come out of the cesspool they lived in and try to “Make America Great Again” by taking it back to a period of hatred that was one of the worst in not just American history but in human history. Orange Foolius doesn’t know and probably doesn’t care what these scumbags do because “hey, he’s the President!”

For those of you that support the orange fool who embarrasses this nation every goddamn minute, you need to take a good, long look in the mirror. If you signed on for this, for YOUR PEOPLE, your fellow supporters, to “take back the country” in this manner, then you have a serious mental issue. If you didn’t sign on for this, then you still must stare into that abyss that is your soul and find what point is too much to take for your support to continue, for you to pledge blind obedience to “Dear Leader.” The problem is that you don’t have long; the situation isn’t going to get any better, it’s going to continue to get worse (oh, but YOU got the guns, right? That’s an embarrassing statement to even consider.).

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No, the shitgibbon in the White House didn’t cause what occurred in Virginia on Saturday. But he certainly was the catalyst for its launch because of his giving voice to those who previously were viewed correctly, as the scum of society. Now those that say they “support” the jackass at the head of the Neo-Nazis, “alt-right” and white supremacists must figure out just how far their support should go.

A Tale of Two Concerts…

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you might have noticed that I have an affinity for music. It really doesn’t matter what the genre is…rap, rock, country, metal, punk, you name it, I probably have an inkling about it. About the only thing that I might be a bit deficient on would be classical music, but I can listen to it an appreciate it. Thus, a couple of shows that I saw within the past month demonstrate both sides of the musical spectrum.

On June 22, my lovely wife and I headed to Amalie Arena to see the rapper Pitbull and the balladeer Enrique Iglesias entertain a packed house. When you can fill a 20,000-seat arena with no problems, you know you’ve made it. And the crowd was as diverse as you might expect for such a multi-cultural show: whites, blacks, Latinos/Latinas, young and old…everyone was there for the party. And, for their part overall, the two entertainers for the night held up their end of the deal.

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Iglesias was, for me, the surprise of the night. Considering that he had his first success back in the 1990s as a younger man, the 42-year old Iglesias was energetic and put on a great show (something that those who have been around the business for a lengthy time don’t sometimes do – that’s what they mean by “mailing it in”). There are those of you reading that might recognize the song “Hero,” which was a massive hit in 2001, but I was a bit surprised by how many of the other songs that I recognized by him. “I Like It (which also featured Pitbull prior to his massive success),” a song that was made popular on the reality show Jersey Shore, and other tunes had the crowd going over the span of his 45-minute set.

There was one moment that was extremely special, however. Bringing the mood down into a very intimate setting, Iglesias and his band slowly trod a path through the crowd to the back of the arena, where stools were arranged for the performers to sit on. From that locale, Iglesias and his band performed a couple of tunes for the entirety of the crowd, but made it special for those in the back who are often ignored during a show. It was a nice touch, especially the “troubadour” walk from the stage to the alternate stage and back.

Between shows, there was a DJ (my wife informed me that he was supposedly Pitbull’s uncle, although I am not sure on that) who performed as the roadies broke the stage. I’m not the biggest fan of watching someone work the turntables – it takes a special talent to do it, don’t get me wrong – and as such I was less than thrilled with this part of the program. It was a good time to go get refreshments, however, and it seemed that many were following my lead.

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As far as Pitbull’s performance, it wasn’t the first time I had seen him. My wife and I had attended the 2016 93.3 FLZ Jingle Ball prior to Christmas, which was headlined by Pitbull. Instead of getting a reduced show (the Jingle Ball lineup also featured Martin Garrix, Fifth Harmony, Walk the Moon, and a few others), this would be the first time seeing the Cuban-American superstar doing a whole show. Let’s just say that I wasn’t disappointed either time.

Pitbull’s music – a goulash of Cuban rhythms with pop, rap and dance stylings tossed in and usually featuring Pitbull rapping while a vocalist fills in the chorus – isn’t for everyone but, if you are someone who does enjoy this genre, then you know how good he is. He was backed by a full band and a cadre of female dancers who changed costumes at least four times by my count. But it wasn’t the accoutrements that made the show great, it was the skills of Pitbull to work the crowd.

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Whether he was using his music – and there’s a lengthy resume of hits he rolled out, including “Timber,” “Hotel Room Service,” and many others – or simply speaking to the gathering, Pitbull maintained control of the show entirely. With this said, it didn’t seem as if it were that much longer than the abbreviated show he delivered when he was performing at the Jingle Ball. It was a fun show and would do it again, to be honest, but it was kind of like cotton candy – sweet to eat but with little substance.

Less than a week later (June 28), I went to a show that was completely the other end of the spectrum. The venue was Skipper’s Smokehouse, a nice little dive with great food and an even greater repertoire of music. Imagine if you will an old tobacco shack with a stage, a restaurant that doesn’t have any air conditioning and an outdoor area looking at a bare bones stage that has a few seats but, for the most part, has its patrons standing up for a show.

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This was the venue for one of the true treasures of the music world. Alejandro Escovedo may not be a household name of the level of Pitbull or Iglesias, but he’s is one of the most respected musicians in the industry, cited by Bruce Springsteen and “Little Steven” Van Zandt as an influence. Escovedo has also been through the travails of the music industry, starting off with the punk rock band The Nuns before joining Rank & File in the early 1980s (whom Escovedo said sounded like “punk rock done by George Jones”). He went solo after leaving Rank & File and, for the past 30 years or so, has been grinding the small venues of Texas and, on this night, Florida, plying his trade.

Pat Puckett, an old friend who backed Escovedo during the 1980s, opened the night with a very bluesy set that was perfect for the surroundings and for opening for Escovedo. Puckett’s guitar work was quite good and it really seemed as if his set was too short. He is a popular performer in the Tallahassee area so, if you’re in the mood for some excellent guitar work and a solid rock & roll show, you should check out Puckett.

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Escovedo came out as a thunderstorm broke out, but you couldn’t have moved any of the roughly 600 people who were massed there from their spots. Escovedo ripped through some songs from his current CD, Burn Something Beautiful, highlighted by his performance of “Heartbeat Smile.” By the time he closed the night’s proceedings with his best-known song “Castanets” (notable as it was seen on former President George W. Bush’s iPod), the entirety of the crowd was on its feet, rocking the shack around them as the skies cleared around midnight.

One of the nicer things about these smaller shows is that the performer will more often than not come out and sign CDs and talk to those who attended the show. Escovedo did that, spending some time with my wife and talking about the Austin, TX, music scene before getting a photo with both of us. It was a great way to end the evening.

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So, which was better?

I lean more to the rock side of things, so Escovedo would get my vote. But what was remarkable about the shows was the complete 180 that each presented. From the stylish, staged, and choreographed show from Pitbull and Iglesias to the rugged, rough and ready rock & roll show presented by Puckett and Escovedo, there wasn’t a thing that they had in common except for one thing…the love of music.

If you haven’t done it in a while, I suggest you get back in the ring and give it a try. Go to a concert at your local stadium – doesn’t matter if it’s a rock show or a pop concert – and go to one of your local venues that has performers sometimes just playing for the drinks they’re quaffing. They are both the heart of the music world and, with hope, you can get something out of both experiences.

“TrumpCare” Is Dead – But We Should Fear What’s Next

Long ago in the States of America, Congress was a body that actually got some things done. They would battle it out on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate and, after discussing an issue thoroughly, would usually find some way to make it work for not only each party to save some face but for the people of the country to benefit from the decision. Unfortunately, with the polarization of the political process since the mid-1990s, that has become almost as unlikely as the sighting of Yeti on the Las Vegas Strip. Thus, the information rolling out of Washington D. C. on Monday night wasn’t surprising in the least.

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Late on Monday night, the Senate, and particularly Yertle the Turtle (AKA Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), finally came to the realization that what they had fought against for almost a decade was all for naught. For all their complaining about the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” for simpletons), for all their protestations, for all the literal ink and digital bits spilled on the subject, they had nothing to provide – not one iota of an idea – that would solve the issue regarding health insurance in this country. They weren’t the only ones, however.

Earlier this year, the House tackled the issue as one that they could bamboozle the people of the States of America out of benefits while handing a huge chunk of cash to the wealthy in the nation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in his infinite wisdom and budget-wonkery, came up with a plan that “only” eliminated insurance from nearly 24 million people – the original “TrumpCare” or American Health Care Act (when the best you can come up with is only inserting one letter in the acronym, that probably should tell you that you’re going to have issues). It was only after pulling the bill off the table and rejiggering it (so that it only eliminated insurance for 23 million people) that the Freedom Caucus – those Tea Party bastards who didn’t think that the cuts hurt people enough nor go far enough to eliminate the ACA – came around and barely passed the bill through the House.

But McConnell would have none of that House BS. He decided he wanted to be the one to take responsibility for the AHCA with his own creation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. As such, he and a group of men – that’s right, despite health insurance having to cover women, not one woman was asked to be on the panel – wrote up a new bill that even other members of the GOP couldn’t see. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul even went on a hunt through DC attempting to find the group penning the piece of garbage that McConnell wanted to spin off, finally stopping when he couldn’t even find where they were writing it.

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McConnell proved to be about as flaccid on the issue as Ryan had been, unable to even draw in enough of his OWN PARTY to get the bill to the point of discussion on the floor of the Senate. Maine Senator Susan Collins protested over the cuts to Medicaid and the removal of protections for women (especially through Planned Parenthood); Paul stood against it because it was “ObamaCare-lite.” Then came the stunner:  Nevada Senator Dean Heller, facing reelection this fall and an angry electorate, said he wouldn’t vote for the bill due to the Medicaid cuts. After Utah Senator Mike Lee (like Paul, concerned that the new bill didn’t do enough to kill people) and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (ditto) got on the “no” side – and with Arizona Senator John “Sorry I started this crap with nominating Palin” McCain out of action following a serious blood clot surgery – McConnell’s efforts to eliminate health insurance for millions went out the window.

With the failure of the Senate to even bring something to the table for discussion, we can honestly say that “TrumpCare” is done and that “ObamaCare” is still the law of the land. The Democrats shouldn’t be celebrating, however, as what comes next may be much worse than what they thought a “repeal and replace” would look like.

Orange Foolius himself, who during the Presidential campaign said that “repeal and replace” was a mandatory action to take, is now so desperate for something to hang his sorry excuse for election on that he wants to see the Congress simply repeal the ACA. This is an impossibility. Such a repeal has absolutely no chance in either body of Congress because they have constituents that they somewhat must listen to, and “starting from scratch” will have absolutely no support from the Democrats. The scary part of the possibilities is that the GOP and the conservatives – who claim to be “Christians” even though they go against every tenet that the Bible set out – now will gut the ACA further, leading to more misery for the people.

Believe it or not, conservatives, but the ACA is neither collapsing, imploding, or failing. In April, Gallup found that most of the citizens of this country – 55% – were supportive of the ACA. Since 2014, there had been a slow and steady improvement in the ACA, according to such “pinko” organizations as the Kaiser Family Foundation, Standard & Poor’s and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. So why do there appear to be problems now? Because the conservative SOBs have cut off funding for the ACA.

Republicans weakened the market because they repealed provisions that were supposed to aid in supporting the market, such as the fine for those who didn’t have coverage or the taxes on medical devices and “Cadillac” insurance programs that would have kept them stable (not very good ideas, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In not fully funding the program, the GOP has tried to guarantee that the ACA will fail.

Now what do we look forward to?

The good side would be the realization by everyone in the GOP – from the dogcatcher in Podunk, AK to the cretin who sits in the most powerful seat in the world using his dinky digits to plunk out missives to a mass of followers that cannot comprehend anything beyond 140 characters – that it is time to work with their loyal opposition on a deal that BOTH can live with. The ACA was entirely based on the plan that former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney used (well) in that state. It was only after Barack Obama latched onto the idea that many in the GOP went against something they had been working on since the Nixon administration, something that was a theme throughout the eight years Obama was President.

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The Dems got to give up some of the taxation on the “Cadillac” plans, for example. These plans, which in some cases give the wealthy the opportunity to have a doctor on call 24/7, were hard earned through their labors and shouldn’t be punished in the slightest. The GOP would have to give up the notion that health insurance is a business that the “free market” should determine all aspects of medical issues; in this case, it should be determined by the government so that it is fair for all. There are many other areas, but the essential point in this scenario is that the buffoons who occupy the halls of power in this country should work together instead of continually damaging the country with their polarization.

The bad side? Orange Foolius gets his entire repeal (which isn’t going to happen due to the fact that 1) it would take 60 votes to push any legislation through the Senate, and 2) that the GOP doesn’t want to be responsible for killing Granny) and everything goes to Hell. The repeal of the ACA would cast the entirety of the health insurance system into chaos, send shockwaves through Wall Street and send medical costs skyrocketing. Most importantly, however, it would devastate families who would have coverage ripped away, families that for the first time were able to visit a doctor for care rather than the Emergency Room.

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The people of this country must get used to the idea that they look after their fellow man also. For those who grouse about the “increase in taxes” for the ACA, well…there’s always the increase in your own insurance costs for paying for those Emergency Room visits for a cold. Then there’s the factor that it is inherent in the human condition to help those less fortunate than you, not “I got mine…screw you.”

There’s plenty of growing up that needs to be done across the board. The two ruling parties need to fix something rather than destroy it. The people of the States of America better back up their talk about being a “Christian” nation, otherwise the hypocrisy is ripe. But the problem that we face is, now that “TrumpCare” is dead and the ACA is not being funded by the GOP, what is going to happen in the future, working together or trashing the country?