The Carnival is Coming to A Close

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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.

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“Cutting the Cord” If Only for A Day

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I thought it would be an interesting experiment. I’ve read quite a bit lately about people who have been ditching their cable or satellite companies – “cutting the cord” as it is called – and just going with what can be found on their computer or other streaming services. For the last couple of years, I’ve owned a Roku 3 (a great Christmas gift from my lovely wife) and use it quite frequently, especially during the baseball season. As an experiment, I thought I would give it a day’s trial, just to see if I could “cut the cord” for a simple 24-hour period. You might be surprised about a couple of things that occurred.

It is something that is happening more than you think across the United States and around the world. Estimates are that as many as 10% of U. S. homes are disconnected from traditional cable or satellite service. A 2014 survey by Mike Vorhaus of Frank N. Magid Associates for a trade conference estimated that 59% of U. S. households paid for a subscription video-on-demand (VOD) service and Netflix was 43% of that group. Finally, that same survey from Vorhaus noted that, among 18-34 year olds, television as the primary medium for entertainment was down to only 21%. Two years later, imagine where those numbers are…

My experiment, however, didn’t get off to a great start. First of all, getting up in the morning and turning on the television was distinctly out. As I prepared my son’s lunch for school, I absentmindedly hit the television in the kitchen for CNN. Just as quickly, I shut it off as I reminded myself what today’s experiment was to be about. After I returned home, it was fortunate that I had some work to do and a doctor’s appointment because I wasn’t concerned about what was either on the television or what I was missing from the news. This was good and bad, in my opinion.

Being able to get your work done – especially for someone like myself who works from home – takes a great deal of discipline. Sure, part of the reason we do it is for the flexibility of the situation (my wife and I also save a great deal on child care), but to be able to look at what you have to complete from a work status and be able to achieve those goals while sitting in your abode is something that all people enjoy. The down side is that, yes, we do work from home so we can have a few extra niceties, such as the television on in the background; I especially like CNN because it isn’t something that you have to concentrate heavily on and, in the cases of “BREAKING NEWS,” it allows you to keep on top of what’s going on in the world.

After the doctor’s appointment, I tried to use one of the new features from CNN, CNNGo, which brings their live broadcast to your computer screen. As I halfway listened to the news that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was “absolutely, positively NOT” going to be the GOP’s savior at their convention in Cleveland (sure, Paul…just like you “DIDN’T WANT” the Speakership), it suddenly cut off and I brought up the window. Sure enough, I reached a situation that many do when they try to break away from their cable service.

To be able to access CNNGo (and, as I was to find out later with my son, to be able to access Disney Junior), you had to have an active cable service account. While CNNGo asked for several of the prominent carriers in the business – names such as Charter, Xfinity, DISH Network and others – they didn’t come up with mine:  Time Warner Cable. As such, I couldn’t WATCH CNNGo on my computer – and my son could not watch Disney Junior through the Roku 3 later in the day – because the companies cannot come to a financial agreement so that CNNGo or Disney Junior can be offered on the computer or Roku (you can, however, access them through the Time Warner app that is available through the Roku…figure that one out). This is one of the reasons that pisses off many with the whole “cutting the cord” thing; in reality, you’re not cutting the cord because, at the minimum, you have to at least have minimal cable service to be allowed access to certain channels, whether it is on the computer or through such a streaming device as a Roku.

Roku4After this revelation, the next problem arose as to the “break away” from the cable company. I sat back and watched, through Poker Central, some of the action from the Global Poker League on the Roku 3 during the afternoon and got a bit restless. Taking a look around, there were very few free streaming channels that you could find to actually watch any type of substantive programming (PBS is good for this and free, but fun isn’t the first thing you think of with PBS). To be able to have any selection to be able to choose from, you had to have access to something like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu Plus, each of which charge a monthly fee for access.

These three are the “power brokers” in the new streaming world (“streaming” being whether you watch on your cellphone, your computer or through a device like the Roku) and could have a seismic impact on the shape of the television world in the future. They have already had an impact on programming, beginning to offer their own scripted television shows that have garnered critical acclaim (at the expense of the traditional television networks). But would people actually move to a piecemeal system like this over the traditional cable system?

Some studies suggest that the bundled channel system that cable companies use actually save customers money rather than cost them more, and there’s some evidence to suggest that they may be right. If your cable company offers a basic cable package for $20 per month (and that’s about as base as it gets in many areas, pretty much offering the local channels and a few other stations like the Weather Channel, CNN, ESPN and others), that is normally what people will watch; where people get irritated is when they have 300 channels and nothing is on. With the streaming outlets, you pay somewhere along the lines of $9 a month for Netflix or Hulu (Amazon Prime is $99 per year), but you might have to pay $4.99 for this station to get access over your streaming device and another $4.99 to access another station…it begins to mount up if you have several access points.

Then there is the factor of live sports. Pretty much every sports league has some sort of live package where you can watch every game from the league (except the National Football League; at this time, the NFL Sunday Ticket package is still the domain of DirecTV, although you can pay to be able to watch, on a tape-delayed basis, the NFL games the next day). These packages can range in cost up to $129…if you put that together for baseball, basketball, hockey and hell, let’s say the NFL comes around and does it too, it’s over $500 per year. That’s not counting any NCAA collegiate games, NASCAR, Formula 1, Indy Car, Major League Soccer, Premier League…you might be getting my point by now.

ESPN Plaza - Bristol CT

Then there’s the monolith known as ESPN. Losing money left and right nowadays (as much due to the competition from outlets like Fox Sports, the CBS Sports Network, the NBC Sports Network and insane fees to the sports leagues for broadcasting rights), ESPN has been considering taking the route of Netflix into an “a la carte” service. According to a 2015 article from The Motley Fool, 40% of people would be willing to pay $10 per month for a “Netflix” version of ESPN. The problem is, the Fool states, that ESPN would need at least $15 per month from subscribers AT THIS TIME to maintain its current standard of performance revenues. This isn’t even looking into the future, when the marketplace is further crowded and the bidding wars for rights fees for athletic events gets even more bloodthirsty.

By the time the Yankees game against the Toronto Blue Jays ended tonight on the Roku, it was time to end the “cut the cord” experiment. I had proved I could do it – there’s enough out there and there is the capability to still watch what the television networks provide, if you’re willing to wait in some cases – for at least a day, but any longer might be a stretch. Perhaps in a few years, when the streaming networks have become more like the cable companies and are actually offering “channel packages” and the cable companies have gone truly “a la carte” to allow their customers to choose ONLY the channels they want, then it would be good to try it again. Right now, I’ll dance between the two worlds quite happily – and enjoy them both immensely.

And The Chickens Come Home to Roost…

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Currently on the cable news channel CNN (and why it’s on there I have no clue, except for the factor that news channels are “entertainment” channels nowadays) is a six-part documentary series (ah, THAT’S how they play it off as “news”) delving into the history of the campaigns for the Presidency of the United States. Race for The White House, narrated and produced by House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey, looks back at six campaigns from the jaded history of the country and the lengths (some would say depths) that people would go to ensure that their candidate was ensconced in the White House. Last week’s episode dealt with the 1960 Presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon (I already knew the story and thusly bypassed it) and this week’s episode – unless its preempted for “Breaking News” (“Hey, someone found a piece of that Malaysian plane that’s been missing for two years!”) – will look at the 1860 fight between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.

To say that the 2016 Presidential campaign has been unique and may someday be a part of the 75th anniversary of Race for the White House on the Interstellar News Network (INN) would be an understatement. For the most part, however, it isn’t two parties or candidates going after each other that have made this a campaign that has either been memorable or an embarrassment, depending on viewpoint. It is one person whose repeated usage of inflammatory rhetoric has, indeed, drawn an audience of knuckle-draggers out of the woodwork that have repeatedly attacked even the slightest hint of protest at his campaign rallies. Now, however, the chickens are coming home to roost.

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Of course, we are talking about Donald Drumpf, who has led the charge for the Republican Party after eight years of heated, borderline racist rhetoric of their own that castigated the twice elected President Barack Obama. It started for Drumpf with the 2012 election when he drove the “birther” movement (even after it had calmed down in most Republican circles) and Trump himself fanned the flames higher. “You won’t believe the information my investigators have found,” the Orangutan Mutant crowed in news conferences – that was before Obama stood up, showed a full birth certificate showing his place of birth to be Hawaii and basically told Drumpf to put up or shut up (note:  Drumpf shut up).

When Drumpf announced his run for President in 2016, he simply continued the divisive, racist, xenophobic and misogynist rhetoric that he has parroted since he entertained thoughts of running for the office in the late 1990s. No matter the nationality or region – Mexican, Syrian, South American, Asian – nor the ethnicity or religion, Drumpf has cursed them all, pumping his StormTrumpers with an Aryan vision of “making America great again.” Then, when things got violent, Drumpf simply ratcheted the verbosity and tension even more.

Since that day in June 2015, Drumpf has continually encouraged his rallygoers to verbally and physically attack those in the crowd that would even think to disagree with him. In February, Drumpf literally said if someone at one of his rallies saw someone even giving the slightest appearance of trying to disrupt his speech to “knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK, just knock the hell – I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise.”

So what do you think happened?

On March 8, a member of the Drumpf crowd DRESSED IN HIS KOREAN WAR VETERANS ASSOCIATION GARB pushed and threatened a black protestor in Louisville, KY, forcing the WOMAN from the rally for apparently protesting too much (there is no video of what she did). The man, Al Bamberger, has since repeatedly apologized to his Veterans’ Chapter and his family, but basically has handed out a big “fuck you” to the woman whom he assaulted. So has Drumpf, who encouraged the actions from the stage (as he has virtually every one of the altercations at his rallies).

Another Drumpf rally on March 10 got even worse. As Cumberland County Sherriff’s Department officers escorted two men from the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, racial epitaphs reportedly were hurled by the crowd towards both black men. Then another man, John McGraw, stepped up and sucker-punched one of the men as he walked by. Instead of apprehending McGraw for the assault, Cumberland County officers tackled the punched man and quickly got him and his partner out of the Coliseum. It wasn’t until the next day – and after the tabloid show Inside Edition interviewed McGraw with him saying “Yes, he deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him…he might be with a terrorist organization” – that the Cumberland authorities got around to arresting McGraw for assault (an investigation is ongoing by the Sheriff’s Department as to why they didn’t act at that time).

Then there’s Drumpf’s treatment of the press. Breitbart.com reporter Michelle Fields – and Breitbart is a conservative-leaning website that has been VERY closely associated with promoting the Drumpf campaign – was allegedly accosted by Drumpf campaign manager Corey Lewandowski while the campaign was in Florida on Friday. Fields filed charges of assault against Lewandowski and displayed bruising on her arm where she said she was “forcefully grabbed” by Lewandowski, who doesn’t say he didn’t do it but calls Fields “delusional” and the campaign says is “entirely false.” There is video, however, of Lewandowski being within close proximity to Fields while Drumpf is departing a press engagement and, at a point, her body jerking back violently, giving credence to her side of the story. The investigation is ongoing.

And this all has gone on while the Orangutan Mutant continues to up the ante, increase the bile in every speech and ratchet up the rhetoric to histrionic proportions. But what happens when the odds are evened up and it isn’t a screaming horde of a few hundred people against one or two? Drumpf and his supporters scream like little weaklings with their panties in a bunch and say that their rights are being violated!

On Friday, Drumpf scheduled two rallies, one in St. Louis and the other in Chicago, and everything short of street warfare broke out. Outside of the St. Louis rally, protestors from both sides clashed and, in what has become a usual occurrence inside a Drumpf rally, the speeches were interrupted on more than a dozen occasions. That just served as the appetizer for Chicago, where the crowd was evenly split and, this time, Drumpf’s campaign decided not to hold the rally out of “security concerns.”

Now these protesters were apparently organized by the Black Lives Matters and MoveOn.org groups, but that isn’t a point worth arguing. When it came time for Drumpf to actually have to face off against those whom his supporters have targeted for attacks time and time again, they decided to back off. Drumpf himself then whined about his “First Amendment” rights and how he had a right to hold his rallies.

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Let’s get something straight here. Yes, everyone has a First Amendment right to say whatever the hell they want to say (and that the First Amendment is there to prevent the GOVERNMENT from infringing on that right). In utilizing that First Amendment right, you also have to accept the ramifications of what comes from that exercise. If your rhetoric is constantly demeaning of – well, virtually everyone – then you have to expect that you are going to get some backlash at some point from the targets of your vitriol.

Those protesters have the same right to be heard. Now there may be a question as to the usage of violence (and that is one that can be asked on both sides), but there should be no question that protesters can call out the Orangutan Mutant and his slobbering horde for their idiocy. That First Amendment thing? It works both ways.

What doesn’t work is to try and act like you haven’t done anything to aggravate the situation. For most of Friday evening and into Saturday (a Cincinnati Drumpf rally was also canceled due to “security concerns” while another in Dayton saw the Secret Service perform their duties admirably when a potential threat rushed the stage, surrounding Drumpf in a protective cocoon), Drumpf tried to say that he hasn’t said anything onstage to encourage his supporters to take the actions that have occurred, that there is nothing he regrets having said, that he is completely innocent regarding the “issues.”

To that, everyone – whether you agree with the Orangutan Mutant or don’t – has to raise up and loudly say “BULLSHIT!” Drumpf is the one that has turned the 2016 Presidential campaign into the shitshow that it has become, that has tossed it into the racial commode and continues to stir the malodorous pot. There’s an ever-so-slim chance that someone might get to Drumpf and see if he can walk it back a bit…if not, then I fear it’s going to get worse, perhaps to the point of dead bodies worse, rather than improve.

Why I Didn’t Watch President Obama’s Town Hall on Gun Control

Obama takes part in a live town hall on reducing gun violence on CNN in Virginia

Thursday night, I got my sick wife (who has been battling the King of all Colds for the past week) and our son cuddled up in bed together, watching cartoons, before they headed off to Slumberland. I headed back downstairs, looking to peruse the 200-plus channels that Time Warner Cable happens to throw at me at any given moment. It was at that time that I realized that there was something on that I should have been watching but I had utterly no interest in wasting two hours of my solo viewing time on.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama issued Executive Orders – actions that a sitting President can take, without the input of Congress, to clarify and/or adjust how his administration either adjudicates laws or applies them to the citizenry of the United States – to stiffen some of the background checks that are applied when people look to buy guns in this country. As a result of several mass shootings that have occurred across the nation and the continuing inaction by a Congress that, if a vote was to be held on legislation that all days should end in “y” couldn’t pass said legislation, Obama stepped up and announced reasonable changes that could be implemented without infringing on anyone’s right to own weapons. After making these announcements, you’d have thought Obama had pissed on the U. S. flag and run it through the colon of a water buffalo.

Conservatives immediately decried Obama’s actions as an “attack on the 2d Amendment,” “a very threat to freedom-loving Americans,” or “a way to take your guns away from you.” This paranoia was ratcheted up by virtually every conservative hack in print, televised and internet media. Even the Presidential campaigns got into the action, with Senator Ted Cruz literally running a campaign ad saying “Obama is coming for your guns,” with a picture of Obama with a military helmet on and the Cruz campaign asking for campaign contributions.

The problem with this is nowhere in Obama’s statements were any measures to take any weapons away from any owners. There weren’t any laws to prohibit any weapons from being owned, bought or sold. About the most aggressive and invasive action was a movement to increase the passing of information regarding mental health issues between departments to ensure that those with mental health problems wouldn’t be passing the increased background checks to be able to purchase weapons.

Executive Orders have been used by sitting Presidents of the United States since the inception of the United States of America. Believe it or not, even George Washington used Executive Orders to push across things that otherwise wouldn’t have made it past a reluctant Congress (because, logically, if Congress could pass laws for the President supporting his position, he wouldn’t have to resort to Executive Orders). Other things that were Executive Orders include the Emancipation Proclamation, the New Deal and the order to desegregate schools in the South and the Armed Forces. Unfortunately, there are some negatives that also fall under this umbrella, including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the usage of force against Native Americans in taking their tribal lands from them.

Not surprisingly, the announcement by the Obama Administration of these new Executive Orders came a few days before the broadcast on CNN on Thursday night. CNN went to great lengths to say that they were the creators of the Town Hall, not President Obama, and also went to great lengths to state that representatives from the National Rifle Association (NRA) were invited (and declined) to participate in the program. The audience was made up of those whose lives had been impacted by gun violence and by those who believe in the sanctity of the 2d Amendment and the right to gun ownership.

So what did I do when I passed by this program on the tube last night? Continued on to watch a college basketball game between two teams I didn’t even give a shit about.

I kind of knew how the entire two-hour “discussion” would go just from watching the general shitstorm that had raged across social media when Obama initially made his announcement of his Executive Orders (by the way, you know how many Obama has used as he enters his final year? 226. Know how many his predecessor, George H. W. Bush, used? 291. How about Saint Reagan? 381. The first Bush was pretty good with only 166, but he only served four years). I didn’t really want to watch a replay of that same thing spread out over two hours on television. Still, I couldn’t help but occasionally, during timeouts in whatever game I was watching (think there was a Scottish soccer game on at some point), drop back over to CNN to see just what was going on.

Imagine if you will a room full of people who were simply there for the factor of hate-watching each other. An Arizona sheriff who is running to join the U. S. Congress (for some reason) challenged the President that his actions wouldn’t have changed anything that happened with recent mass shootings; President Obama responded by saying just because something happens doesn’t mean the response is to “do nothing.” Another woman, the widow of the late U. S. military sniper Chris Kyle, berated the President for “trying to take guns away from people” and giving “false hope.” Obama responded by speaking past her to the NRA and why they weren’t there to discuss the issue. All in all, it was a two-hour circle jerk that left no one satisfied, with both sides talking past each other instead of TO each other.

It was even worse following the discussion when the pundits became a part of the show. A former New York City cop who spoke out of both sides of his mouth joined some of the liberal CNN political commentators (Van Jones, Gloria Borger) and some conservative voices (Hugh Hewitt, S. E. Cupp) to basically yell over each other and Jake Tapper for an hour, reaching no new discussion points, basically reasserting that no one actually wants to discuss the issue but rivet their heels to the ground and not yield an inch one way or the other.

Therein lies one of the problems with the situation regarding guns in our society. There are those that take the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights – two of the greatest documents for governmental leadership in the history of mankind – as if they are God-given documents that can never be challenged nor changed. The Founding Fathers gave their descendants a way – yes, difficult, but for a reason…so that it wasn’t overused – to make changes when deemed necessary. They also encouraged their descendants to make those changes as time passed.

This is why a black person isn’t still considered 3/5ths a person anymore; this is why there is liquor to drink (after a previous effort to banish such activity) and that women can have the right to vote. This is why 18 year olds who can die on the battlefields of war have the ability to vote in this country. The 1st Amendment isn’t sacred – there are limitations on how far you can go with your speech and activities – and the 4th and 5th Amendment face constant modification. The 2d Amendment shouldn’t be considered sacred, either. It should have to adjust with the times and, yes, with the will of the people, who currently believe there should be more stringent control on guns (albeit not sure how to go about that) and, by a wide margin, more extensive background checks.

So what was the reaction of people following the show on CNN last night? After SportsCenter went off the air and “College Basketball Tonight” was coming on, I jumped on Facebook to check and see if there was a raging flame war between the pro- and anti-gun advocates. I nearly woke the crickets that were there regarding the subject.

With that said, this is a critical issue to try to gain a handle on (we are never going to eradicate it, we can simply only hope to lessen the impact of the next situation). Until all parties can come together and lay aside the radicalism of their political actions (NRA, are you listening?) or we can elect a Congress that isn’t beholden to one industry (not likely either), then discussions such as what CNN aired with President Obama last night will be a waste of time. When the next one comes on, you’ll probably find me watching the Swedish curling team…there’s some drama as to the outcome with that event, at least.

What to Expect from Tomorrow’s GOP Debate

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They are beginning to happen so frequently – not only on the Republican side but also on the Democratic – that it is becoming a bit mind-numbing when they come up. For the fourth time in the past three months, however, the Republican Party will be gathering at the Milwaukee Theatre in Wisconsin for another two tiered debate. The debate, hosted by Fox Business Channel and moderated by FBC’s Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo and Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker, may appear to be the same on the surface, but there are underpinnings that have changed some of the dynamics.

The change will be apparent from the pregame show, otherwise known as the “kiddie table” debate. Gone from that stage will be former New York Governor George Pataki and current South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who have both been polling in the microscopic digits and were deemed as no longer viable in the race by Fox Business. Despite both candidates complaining that the Republican National Committee is looking to knock out candidates rather than have their constituency decide (Graham stated on MSNBC that the RNC “couldn’t run a one-car funeral”), neither man will be in attendance when former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal take the stage for the opening act on Tuesday.

It isn’t just going to be Santorum and Jindal on the stage for the pregame show, however (despite the high comedy of how they would attempt to “out-righteous” each other for the evangelical vote). Coming down the ramp like wrestlers in the WWE to battle against The Religious Way (oh, wait…they’ll be looking to join the team!) will be two veterans of the “Main Event,” former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (at a combined weight of 600 pounds!). These two gentlemen have been cast away from the main debate for the same reasons that Pataki and Graham aren’t around anymore; their poll numbers have plunged to a depth that they no longer are considered serious contenders for the GOP nomination.

This will leave eight players – political outsiders Dr. Ben Carson and businessman billionaire Donald Trump (tossing the lead back and forth between each other), Florida Senator Marco Rubio (garnering more support from the “establishment” wing of the GOP as they desert another candidate), Texas Senator Ted Cruz (clinging to the Tea Party vote while he waits for Trump to leave the campaign), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (losing that establishment vote while eliminating exclamation marks from his campaign slogan in favor of “fixing” something, just what isn’t known), Ohio Governor John Kasich, former businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – to take the stage for the “Main Event” on Tuesday night. Debate organizers probably could have cut Paul, Kasich and Fiorina (who has plummeted after making her run out of the “minor leagues” to the Adult Table due to her inability to find a subject to run on) for the same low poll numbers that they have been using in dismissing others, but they (and the RNC) probably didn’t want to appear that they were trying to manipulate the game too much. As such, they will be trying to wedge themselves into discussion amongst the Top Five candidates, who are viable in that they control roughly 75% (76.6% to be exact, according to Real Clear Politics) of potential GOP voters.

Not only have the dynamics of the participants changed for this fourth debate, there will probably be noticeable changes to the general tenor of the questioning from the Fox Business Channel moderators and staff.

The first debate, basically a “get your feet wet” affair, was on the home turf of Fox News Channel, but some of the candidates still found something to bitch about even though their questioning was rather low-key. The second debate, conducted by CNN, amped up the pressure on the candidates over a three hour span (the longest debate so far of the 2015-16 primary season) and has generally been recognized as the best debate to this point. The candidates complained – especially Trump and Carson – that the debate was too long (in reality, it actually forced them to have substance rather than fluff to their statements in requiring explanation). Then there was the debacle of last month’s CNBC debate, an unruly affair that featured inane questions from the panel and outright refusal to answer questions from the candidates.

That CNBC debate, however, will hover like a smoke cloud over the Fox Business proceedings. The ineptitude of the CNBC moderators will probably remove any character questions from the Fox Business panel’s repertoire, meaning that there will be no answers to Carson’s consistently false claims in his books and in his speeches. Carson, who has come under fire for inaccuracies and perhaps fabrication of some of his past actions and achievements (most people do this but, then again, most people aren’t running for President; for the ultimate job interview, you pretty much have to be scot-free of scandal nowadays or at least have “plausible deniability”), has continually ducked those questions. Cavuto, Bartiromo and Company aren’t going to be able to query Carson on these inaccuracies lest they be besmirched with the Scarlet “G” of “gossip.”

This also means that the panel will not be able to point out differences between the candidates regarding their policies. They will probably stay far away from any sparring sessions between Trump and…well, anyone on the stage…regarding his draconian plans on immigration. There is the slimmest of possibilities that there will be some discussion between the candidates as they delve into their differences, but Fox Business doesn’t want to give the candidates the ability to say they were “set up” to fight with each other (as Cruz alleged in the CNBC debate).

Although there won’t be the circus atmosphere on the stage in Milwaukee, this is a chance to see some actual discussion on the issues (that is, if the candidates will answer the questions as they are presented to them). I WOULD like to see Trump’s feet held to the fire regarding how he plans to round up 11 million people without it looking like he’s sending an entire race to the gulag. I’d like to see Trump explain where the money is coming from for this and his other fantasyland projects such as the Great Wall of Mexico. I’d like to hear from Carson how his tax plan isn’t going to put an even larger crater in the national debt; hell, this is something I’d like to hear from all the candidates in how, if they cut taxes to the bare bones, how it is supposed to translate to more revenues actually coming into the government (the “trickle down” economics from the Reagan Administration have been proven time and again to be false).

In this explanation, I want more than “increased buying power of customers,” “repatriation of money from overseas companies” and “small business growth” as platitudes. Explain in simple terms how cutting taxes without an appropriate or deeper cuts in the spending is supposed to either stanch the growth or lower the national debt. Then also explain to me what some people are to do when those cuts are so deep that they can no longer keep their heads above water and stay in the game (re:  actually stay alive).

Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Paul, Fiorina, Kasich…there are a host of inquiries about policies that they have stated to the public that could be the basis of a myriad of questions from the hosts at Fox Business. My only hope in the debate is that we don’t get a castrated Fox Business panel that either can’t or won’t ask the tough questions in fear of “offending” the candidates. This is a Presidential debate, for fuck’s sake, and not a coquette’s debutante ball. The questioning is supposed to be harsh, unnerving and probing…you are going to be leading the strongest nation in the world and, as such, you’d BETTER be able to handle the heat of the job rather than running to a pulpit to seek permission from a “higher authority.”

Unfortunately, this is what I believe we are going to see on Tuesday night. Cavuto will have a choker on him from the Fox Business brass (or perhaps even Fox News chairman Roger Ailes himself will have his hand on the jerker chain) and will have all the strength of a neutered Chihuahua. Bartiromo will bat her eyes as she “seriously” looks into the numbers, while Baker will rubber stamp things as long as he can lock up the candidates for an op-ed in the WSJ in the near future. The debate will not be providing anything substantive that people can examine in depth, allowing the candidates themselves to crow about how “they have control of the message” (what that message is really is anyone’s guess), at least until the next debate.

Those looking to be a leader of ALL people, not just one segment of the people, have to be able to answer the hard questions and with something more than platitudes or dismissals. If a group isn’t challenged to show their abilities in leadership, then they don’t earn that chance to be a leader. If those that question them – and those that listen to the answers to those questions – allow them to bypass this process and immediately put them into leadership because of other non-leadership qualities, then you get what you asked – or didn’t ask – for.

Wondering Whatever Happened To…For November 3

Wondering whatever happened to California Congressman Gary Condit while pondering…

What If There Wasn’t Any Grits? – Pointing out the ignorance of some when it comes to the issue of the Confederate Battle Flag, a Tupelo, MS man is in jail facing a potential life sentence for using an explosive device against the retail outlet Walmart.

According to reports from local papers, Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said that 61-year old Marshall Leonard threatened the megastore a few days ago when he wrote on the local paper’s Facebook page, “Journal corporate, you are on final warning. You are part of the problem. As a result of this, y’all (sic) are going down, along with Walmart, WTVA (a local television station), Reed’s department store and all the rest of the anti-American crooks. I’m not kidding. No messing around anymore!”

While some might have thought this to be the ravings of a lunatic, this was a lunatic who decided to take action. On Sunday morning at about 1:30AM, Leonard allegedly drove his car to the local Walmart in question, lit a package on fire and threw it in the entryway of the store. An employee standing nearby was told by Leonard, “You better run,” and, as the employee did, a small explosion went off that didn’t cause much damage to the store.

So what was Leonard’s problem with Walmart? The factor that the superstore had quit selling the Confederate Battle Flag. Leonard is an outspoken opponent of current legislation, Initiative 55, which would remove the Battle Flag from the current Mississippi state flag permanently. Leonard doesn’t believe the flag to have any racial or slavery overtones (despite the statement in the documents of secession by the state of Mississippi in 1861 stating, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world.”) and has been tossed out of a city council hearing on the subject (while draped in a Battle Flag).

The police didn’t have to investigate too deep to find Leonard either. Leonard’s vehicle, with a flagpole sticking through the roof that displays the Battle Flag while he drives, ran a red light at 2AM after allegedly tossing the explosive device into the Walmart. Police stopped Leonard and, as their radios crackled with news of the bombing, Chief Aguirre said, “We quickly figured out we needed to hang on to this suspect.”

Why Should I Be Educated If I’m In Heaven? – In another entry into the idiocy of the South, parents of nine Texas children are suing the state over their home-schooling techniques. Texas laws are quite permissive regarding what home-schooled students have to learn and one family, the McIntyre family of El Paso, TX, decided they didn’t need to have a curriculum, any oversight from local officials and didn’t have to take any of the tests that children in public and private schools had to take. Why? Why waste time on education when the Second Coming is upon us.

The situation came to light after the 17-year old daughter of the family ran away from home and, upon being placed in the foster system and in a real school, couldn’t keep up with her peers (seniors). She was placed in a ninth-grade class and was even struggling to keep up at that pace. Further investigation by authorities through other family members found that not only was there any “home schooling” going on, but the parents were flaunting the results.

According to Tracy McIntyre, the twin brother of Michael, the other children were “never reading, working on math problems, using computers or doing much of anything educational.” The reason that Tracy gave for this was Michael telling him that the children’s learning was unnecessary because “they were going to be raptured.”

The El Paso school district began to investigate further, at which time the McIntyre’s sued them for “oppressing their right to not educate their children.” In a deeply Republican state, the family called the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court “anti-Christian” and claimed that the oversight by the El Paso school system is “a startling assertion of sweeping governmental power.” While these claims may sound as ludicrous as they look, there is a chance that they might have some effect; the current head of the Texas Board of Education is a Christian homeschooler and Governor Greg Abbott is staunchly behind the homeschooling system, which in many conservative homeschooling cases lacks any knowledge of sciences, technology or mathematics and instead delves into Bible-based explanations of subjects.

But The Slurpee Machine Is Always Spotless! – We already know that there is a great deal of waste in the U. S. government and, in particular, in military spending. But a $43 million gas station?

In a recent report from John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the building of a compressed natural gas station cost an alleged $43 million, including $30 million in overhead costs (operational expenses) in a country where few vehicles exist and those that do don’t run on natural gas. Not only was this station highly expensive (a similar station in Pakistan was built for $500,000), but there was no examinations of whether building the station was feasible or not ever performed or ever deemed necessary.

“One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide an explanation for the high cost of the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation or outcome,” Sopko stated to the Washington Post. The reason? The department that was in charge of building the station, the Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (with an $800 million budget), was closed six months ago and the Pentagon has no comment on its activities.

Simple investigation by Sopko questioned the legitimacy of building the station. With a non-viable market for natural gas vehicles, Afghanis would have to convert their vehicles to the fuel. The cost of such a conversion is around $700. The problem there is that the average Afghani wages for a year are $690.

Sopko says he will continue to investigate the situation but, without cooperation from the Pentagon, it is unlikely he will find any reasons for the wasteful spending.

The Inmates Running the Asylum, Part 420 – The candidates for President on the Republican Party ticket have been loudly complaining about how the three debates they have taken part in (especially the last one on cable station CNBC) have been conducted, despite the first debate being conducted on their home ground of Fox News and a second debate on CNN considered fairly decent. Now, instead of allowing for a central group to set the standards for debates – say, perhaps, their own Republican National Committee – the candidates want to set the rules that future debates will be held under until the party’s convention next summer.

GOP candidates have floated such ideas as keeping the room at 67 degrees, splitting the 14 remaining candidates into two randomly picked groups of seven and asking them the same questions and setting strict time limits on the proceedings. It is expected that some of the candidates have already coalesced behind some framework of demands for the forthcoming debates (probably those after their November 10 scheduled debate), but one candidate thinks he can get more through his negotiations (take a wild guess).

Representatives for billionaire Donald Trump, who has seen his numbers of late slide as Dr. Ben Carson has slowly gained traction, are currently refusing to sign any letter of demands alongside the other candidates, believing that through his own force of will he can get more. According to the New York Times, however, Trump is actually hurting the cause because the candidates only have power if they are united. If they are fragmented or are asking for far too much from debate organizers, then the possibility of the networks, the RNC or even the candidates canceling a debate comes into play.

First they couldn’t find a Speaker for the House of Representatives, now they can’t determine a debate format – it truly is the inmates running the asylum.

Now to answer the question…what happened to California Congressman Gary Condit?

Through the 1990s, Gary Condit was a rising star in the Democratic Party. A congressman from California, Condit looked the part of the perfect representative from the Golden State, with a pearly smile and ambitions of even bigger things in his future. The discovery that he was having an affair in 2001 with an intern by the name of Chandra Levy effectively derailed his burgeoning political career.

The discovery of the affair only came about after Levy disappeared in May 2001 and Condit, who vehemently accused then-President Bill Clinton of illicit activities with intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s, for some time was considered a suspect in her disappearance (in 2010, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador was convicted in Levy’s disappearance and murder). It was enough to derail his career; in 2002, Condit was defeated for reelection in the 18th District in California and, instead of going back home, moved to Arizona.

In Arizona, Condit opened up an ice cream store franchise that failed and in which he is currently embroiled in litigation over. His son, Chad, is attempting to follow in his father’s footsteps (hopefully not literally) in running for Congress in California’s 10th District. Condit, at 67, has called it a career in politics, now serving as the president of the Phoenix Institute of Desert Agriculture, a non-profit group created in 2011 with offices strangely located in San Diego, CA, that doesn’t list any responsible owners or operators.

It Works Both Ways in “Black Lives Matter,” But Not In Every Other Case

Since the shooting of Houston, TX, Deputy Darren Goforth, allegedly by Shannon Miles and for some unknown reason(s), the rhetoric on both sides has ramped up drastically. Harris County, TX, Sheriff Ron Hickman, Goforth’s boss, stated it plainly on CNN when he said, “This rhetoric has gotten out of control. We’ve heard ‘Black lives matter,’ ‘All lives matter.’ Well, cops’ lives matter, too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier, and just say ‘Lives matter,’ and take that to the bank?”

While Sheriff Hickman’s comments might be construed as not being acceptable (and, as a member of law enforcement, personal feelings aren’t supposed to be a part of the job), it comes on the heels of a “Black Lives Matter” protest in Minneapolis, MN, this weekend that were just as reprehensible. Although the particular “Black Lives Matter” group was offered a booth at the Minnesota State Fair, the organizers refused that opportunity to connect with people and instead decided to hold their protests on the streets in front of the fairgrounds. This allowed the protesters to say things such as “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” All of this supposedly helpful bullshit comes on the heels of the Virginia shooting of two newspaper reporters by a former coworker, who supposedly was a homosexual male and supported the politics of President Barack Obama.

There is so much that is wrong in the current climate of discussion that it is difficult for anyone to wrap their heads around the subject. One of the main issues, however, is that no one wants to admit that the prescribed norms work both ways and should be applied equally to both sides. With that application, the outcome isn’t the same in every case, however.

The Texas case is tragic in that, on the surface, it does seem to be spawned by the anti-law enforcement sentiment that has festered throughout at least 2015 if not for the past 100 years itself. Lacking any information from the authorities, we are only left with conjecture as to why Miles decided on Friday night to cold-bloodedly gun down Goforth as he filled his squad car with gas. The same thing was seen in December 2014, when two New York City police officers were senselessly executed by another black man (who subsequently committed suicide), supposedly in response to the decision by grand juries in Missouri and New York not to indict police officers in the deaths of two black men.

In the Texas case, we could start with not escalating the situation any further than it already has been. Sheriff Hickman didn’t need to step in front of the microphones outside his office and toss gasoline on the fire by implying that the “Black Lives Matter” movement had something to do with the execution of his officer. He could have just as easily said, “We currently have no information on any motive or reason for my officer’s shooting.” Instead, he chose that moment to inflame conditions even more than they might have been. In a volatile state such as Texas, where very widely divergent viewpoints often don’t meet with genteel outcomes, it is something he should have thought about.

That doesn’t let the “Black Lives Matter” protestors off the hook, though. To actually chant for the execution of police officers – which has also been alleged in several other protest marches throughout the United States during “Black Lives Matter” events, among other violent acts – is downright wrong if not borderline criminal. If an individual can be charged with “voicing a threat” against another person, then what is the charge that should be put on those whose basic statement is “kill a cop?” (Let’s not get this wrong, I do believe in freedom of speech. That’s why I don’t have a problem with Body Count’s “Cop Killer” (an artistic statement) but do have an issue with this situation).

Some of the spokespeople for the “Black Lives Matter” organization have come out and said not to paint the organization with a broad brush for the actions of one person or one part of the group. Law enforcement and police unions have said virtually the same thing – “Don’t judge us all due to the actions of one bad cop” (we’ll leave alone for the moment the systemic incidences of police abuse of power for now over the years). The answer is that it works both ways and for both groups, but neither wants to admit it.

Where it doesn’t work is in the senseless Virginia murders of reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. While there has been plenty of information that has come out regarding Vester Flanagan – including that he went to the voting booth in 2012 as an Obama supporter to the point of wearing a pin and advocating in line for him (we know this because this is one of the litany of things that WDBJ management reprimanded him for while he worked there) and that he was gay, among other much more important things such as his emotional volatility in the workplace – the case has slowly slipped into the background because Flanagan killed himself and there will be no charges brought (unlike the Texas case). What is ridiculous is some of the statements over social media that try to show that it should go both ways and, in this case, it shouldn’t.

Some on social media have advocated for the “banning” of the rainbow flag that has become the banner of the LGBT community (and was seen on many a Facebook profile following the U. S. Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage a right), positing that it was the banner of “hatred” much like which happened when Dylan Roof used the Confederate Banner Flag as his “reason” for executing nine people in a Charleston, SC church. They also have demanded contrition from President Obama because one of his supporters – somehow like the illegal immigrant in San Francisco who killed a woman and, according to anti-Obama people, LOVED Obama – gunned down two people.

Unlike the “Black Lives Matter” situation where a) both sides could tone down the rhetoric and b) both sides should chastise their not-as-eloquent members, these accusations laid down in the Virginia case are completely ludicrous. First off, there is no indication that Flanagan’s sexuality was the hell-bent reason behind his decision to kill Parker and Ward. An argument can be raised that Flanagan was looking to do the same thing as Roof – incite a “race war” (Flanagan’s manifesto talked about how Roof’s actions pushed him to commit his crime) – and it should be discussed that Flanagan and Roof are cut from the same cloth. That’s about the point where the similarities end, however.

To suggest that the rainbow banner used by the LGBT community is a “flag of hatred” (never has been shown to be) like the Confederate Battle Flag (plenty of examples where it has been used as such) is about the most illogical thing there is…it’s called an association fallacy, one that basically says because you did one thing one time for one situation, you should always do that when similar situations arise. Thus, those that are frothing at the mouth to ban the rainbow flag merely show their idiocy rather than any practice of rational thought.

Situations such as Virginia and Texas – and even the issues between law enforcement and the communities they are supposed to protect (and who knows how many other aspects of society) – have to be judged on a case-by-case basis. In every case, both sides should be held to the same burdens of representation and held to a certain criteria that is used against both schools of thought equally. You cannot hold one to a separate, higher standard without applying the same principles on the opposition. After exercising this mantra, however, the answer aren’t always going to come out the same way every time.