ennui

I drive to work; the train is no longer an option. Later, I drive home.  The round trip is at least 3 hours, often closer to 4.  It gives me time to listen to sports talk and generally the presidential debates. Satellite radio is a wondrous thing.  But my mood has shifted.  I am reverting back to listening to music.  My mind collapses around the sadness that is the 49ers.  The Warriors are a bright spot and the Giants exude yearly hope.

But then there is the election, still 8 months out.  Am I the only one that see’s Trump inciting violence?  I was appalled when he suggested that if he didn’t get the nomination with plurality votes, which he will surely have, the people might riot.  Might?  Isn’t he telling them to?  I took it as a signal.  A blatant call to arms.  And we wonder why he is compared to Fascists.  There are no good choices.  My politics lean liberal and as bad as Trump would be – and he would be—Cruz is worse.  The manipulation of the media for air time, the cultish feel of some candidates.  Wondering if Cruz would really like to start the end of days as his father suggests.  And then I’m reminded the next SCOTUS depends on how the NRA feels.  It all makes me weary.

And Brussels, following Paris.  Some days it is indeed too much.

So I move to music.  And the lift I’m looking for is nowhere to be found.  Sad songs.  Reminders that Bowie and Kantner passed on.  That Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin died too young.  That Duane Allman cut a swath through the south but left it searing and incomplete.  John had me imagining, but even that leads down dark hallways in this year’s context.

Today, there is no joy in Mudville.   I’m sorry I’ve neglected you, my 3 or 4 dedicated readers, but most things haven’t gotten past my filters.

Here’s a little spot of joy. Maybe it will help, at least for a moment.  Who doesn’t like power pop about teachers spiking the punch of wee ones?

 

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A Liberal Watches the GOP Debate, Objectively

I watched the GOP debate the other night.  It was every bit as entertaining as I hoped.  I learned a few things that I believe at least a few of you will enjoy.  Let’s get a few things out of the way first.

Yes, I am liberal

No I’m not close minded

Yes I believe Fox News is Bullshit Mountain

No, I do not believe everything they is bullshit, just way more than it should be.  As an example Bill O’Reilly covering the Falklands war is not bullshit.  Any mention of him being in a warzone, seeing a firefight etc. is.

Let’s look at my before and after of the 10 men on stage.

Jeb Bush
Before:  George Bush’s smarter brother.  Too religious for my taste.
After:  George Bush’s WAY smarter brother.  Very centrist.  Nice thought on education.  Every bit as religious as I expected.

Ben Carson
Before:  Smart Neurosurgeon who says odd things with no political savvy
After:  Savvier than I thought.  He is in favor of torture (really, what about the “do no harm oath?) and he later used the word secular as an insult.  (Note:  Seems like all GOP candidates believe they must adopt some sort of “I’m a good Christian” aspect to their platform to think they can win.)  I actually started to like Carson until that.  While I agree with his stance that race should be an issue, it is. I would have liked to see him really address that.  I think he missed a great opportunity to capture an issue that everyone else ignores and pretends is all hot air.

Chis Christie
Before:  He’s from New Jersey. He’s brash.  He hires political thugs.  He’s not Springsteen.  NEXT!
After:  He’s put some of his weight back on.  Seemed like a lightweight candidate to me.  His catfight with Rand Paul was fun, but showed him in a poor light.

Ted Cruz
Before:  A buffoon from Texas.  My Huckleberry.  May have tried to be funny with his machine gun bacon.  Made him look ridiculous to me.  And from Canada!
After:   OMG.  All that was missing was a call to round up the Jews and remove them from this good Christian land. I’m sure he appealed to many voters on the religious right.  I was offended.  When did President become a religious office?

Mike Huckabee
Before:  Former Arkansas governor who plays bass and hosts a TV show.  I hear people like him.
After:  Good sense of humor, smart and savvy.  Way too religious in my view.  Not as offensive in that way as Cruz, but too much for my taste.  And what hair!

John Kasich
Before:  Governor of Ohio.  Who?
After:  Smart, on the ball and a bit nebbish.  I could vote for him.  I wasn’t overly upset with his views and like his views on the economy.

Rand Paul
Before:  Ron Paul’s son. He can filibuster.
After: I liked his views on the NSA and privacy.  A serious senator.  Not a serious presidential candidate in my view.

Marco Rubio
Before:  He likes water and people like him.  Why?
After:  I see the appeal.  He can orate.  Very proud of his blue collar roots (and 100k student loans that I’m sure his PAC or speaking fees paid off).  He made sure that he appealed to the religious right with his very strong anti-abortion views.  Politically savvy and showed he would work with others of similar views (as in Jeb Bush).  Not as bad as George Bush.

Donald Trump
Before:  A horrid blowhard who has adopted the Fox News “Angry Old Man” stance and taken it to a new low.
After:  Seriously, do you want this guy negotiating with Russia or anyone else?  He gladly wore the sash of most likely to start WW3.  I think this is his ego saying I can out do the Koch brothers by buying myself the election.  I can’t imagine he’ll make the convention, let alone the ticket.

Scott Walker
Before:  Hey Kids!  Let’s bust a union.  Whatever.After:  He rides a Harley.  So?  I think he dies his hair and has the 2nd worst comb over in the group.  I guess they needed a 10th warm body.

Yes, I spent over 3 hours watching Fox News.  For the most part I didn’t find many things to call bullshit on.  I was very impressed with the focus group segment on the Megyn Kelly after show. Real people, real opinions and a few dingbats.  Nevertheless it was a clear demonstration that a GOP focus group in Cleveland have almost nothing politically with me.  But it was clear who like Rubio because he was attractive, in a non-political, creepy sort of way.

I really was disappointed to learn that the GOP really is the Evangelical Christian party.  Even Trump jumped on the Pro-life platform.  I took it as code for “I’m Christian Friendly.”  When did abortion become a key point for the GOP?  A plank yes, but a keystone blank? Wow.  Now if only this country thought politicians should tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.  Everyone wanted to defund Planned Parenthood.  I guess inexpensive healthcare and education for women is appealing to those with blinders on.  I call bullshit on that.  Especially since we are also funding “abstinence education.”  If you are for abstinence education, then I label you an ostrich as you missed the fact its 2015 keeping the sand out your nose.

And really, Trump thinks it is funny to tell a women she’d look good on her knees. In public. On national television.  A jokes aside, that is not something to say nationally.  What may have been funny in private is insulting in public.  Shouldn’t a president know that?

I decided to check the current rankings on 8/10.  On 8/9 Breitbart posted the results of an NBC poll.

  1. Trump                   23%
  2. Cruz                      13%
  3. Carson                  11%
  4. Fiorina                   8%
  5. Rubio                     8%
  6. Bush                      7%
  7. Walker                   7%

A point of interest is not that Paul, Christie and Kasich fell off, but that Fiorina jumped way up.  Maybe it’s me living near Silicon Valley, but HP’s board firing her does not make me feel like she should running our country. I’m sure she is a smart lady, but I’m concerned.

In the dull roar following the debate, one theme has been heard.  The concept that it was a set up for Trump.  Can I laugh now?  He isn’t a career politician.  He doesn’t want to be. He insults politicians and calls them stupid.  Yet in a political arena, he and his supporters cry “UNFAIR!”  Am I the only one that sees the irony here?  Trump wants the spotlight. He got the spotlight and then decided the heat burned. Maybe he should build a wall around his campaign and keep the barbs out with the “Mexicans.”

I think if he wants to be a politician, he should expect more of this, though I don’t think it’s the hatchet job he and his supporters think it is.  After all, Dan Savage was much more rough, albeit rightfully so, on Rick “don’t google me” Santorum.  Trump gets off easy in my book.

This liberal enjoyed the show.  There was lots of BS after the fact, only a few shovels worth during the actual debate.  I’m open minded, but I don’t think pandering to the religious right will win anyone my vote.  I’m all for religious freedom. I’m happy to vote for a religious person who keeps his religion to his or herself.  I already know 20% of the people in this country believe I am going to a hell I don’t believe in.  Ah the joys of politics.

I’m going to enjoy the next several months as the Trump sets the clown car afire and it burns itself out.

Fear of Change (or You’ve Gotten Your Civil Rights All Over My Bigotry)

You can tell the presidential election is right around the corner.  And by that I mean 16 months away.  Already we are inundated with candidates, especially from the right, that seem intent on grabbing headlines and mind space.  What I’ve noticed, not that it is new, is the hate and fear mongering that is going on.  It seems to have ratcheted up significantly over the last few years.

Perhaps we should blame Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.  After all, they masterminded W’s presidency and campaigns and solidified the country behind him.  This was done by fueling the fear that Iraq was ready to bomb the US and was funding/hiding/helping terrorists.  Turns out that none that was true.  But being scared, we overlooked the “mistakes in intelligence” (or lies as they might be called – Colin Powell might have quit because of them, as you may recall).  And then fear became a heavy political tool.

So what do we have today?  Fear that our religious freedoms are being taken away.  Where?  I don’t see it.  Marriage for all?  Ok, don’t perform weddings in your church for a same sex couple.  Do you really believe a gay couple, who KNOW you hate their lifestyle and biology, want to force you to do their wedding?  I don’t think so either.  Let’s be totally honest, your religious bigotry is fine in your home and probably in your church or shed or garage or wherever.  But let’s be frank:

Marriage is a legal contract accorded with rights under the constitution and laws of this nation.

Stop fighting it.  If you really believe you must get divorced so that you can protest what the 9 smartest legal minds in country decided, perhaps it is more curious why you haven’t joined a cult.  David Koresh anyone?  The Moonies?  The Manson Family?  Maybe Heaven’s Gate was more your speed; feel free to restart that one.

And let’s not throw down “the Bible”.  Men wrote it.  It’s been edited and modified many more times over the last 1500 years  than you are probably willing to admit  Let’s stop looking at this novel as sacrosanct.  You want to follow it? Great.  But recall it also has several men with multiple wives.  It contradicts itself.  It’s a book.  The only thing it doesn’t have a T. Rex and Woolly Mammoths.  Ever wonder why?  Me too.

That all being said, I believe in your right to believe what you want.  And other than a piece here now and again, I won’t disparage you in public.  After all, over 70% of the US practices some form of Christianity and only 2% of are Jews.  You know us, the cheap ass money lenders leading the illuminati, right?

But you don’t have a problem with other religions do you?  You afford them the same respect as you would like?  You know, that vocal minority waging “the war on Christmas”.  That’s code for “They are attacking Christianity”.   One of the most ridiculous causes I’ve ever heard.  The overwhelming majority sets the rules.  And in case you forgot, there are no famous, renowned or even discussed Jewish Founding Fathers in US lore.  And there is no attack on Christianity.  But there is a lack of patience for intolerance and institutionalized ignorance.  The world is changing.  Civilization is, in a sense, growing up.

That’s why Fox will bring up “THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS!” every year.  It resonates.  It helps fuel the fear that “their” religion is under attack.  Clearly, Fox spokestool Bill O’Reilly is onto something.  After all, this religious attack is the worst we’ve seen since the holocaust.  No?  I must have been watching the wrong “news” station.  My bad.

What you fear in the night
comes to call in the day anyway
(Duritz, Bryson 1994)

My friend and author Laura Antoniou put it well, “… if you think someone’s religious beliefs trump my civil rights, then you are cordially invited to fuck off.”  I couldn’t agree more.  It is about civil rights.  Not only are we finally righting the wrongs of the South and their war on civil rights for Blacks (150 years in the making mind you) we are also giving everyone civil rights regardless of sexual orientation.  The amount of progress and growth in the last few weeks has been immense.  Or has it?

My favorite whipping boy, the Genius Ted Cruz, thinks that extending those civil rights will hurt the Christian Churches he loves so much.  The Evil Obama IRS is targeting their tax exempt status.  That’s right.  Genius Ted believes that organizations that deny the civil rights of others are to be glorified and guaranteed their tax exempt status.  He is frightened of potential changes brought about by the evil Obama IRS.

In fact, so much so he is also scared for the Jewish Churches.  Yo! Genius!  Jews don’t go to church.  We don’t have churches.  We go to Synagogues and Temples.  Or we go to Shul (an acceptable secondary answer).  I was appalled at his lack of grace and class.  Of course he was talking to Glenn Beck, so my expectations were already quite low.

Let’s ignore the ridiculously large amount of insensitivity toward the Jewish people.  Let’s focus on the fear mongering.  I know I have been concerned over the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status for years.  How else could they afford to pay hush money and settlements to the victims of pedophile priests?  I’m not saying all priests are bad.  Most aren’t and I’m a HUGE fan of Pope Francis.  But since the number of pedophile priests is more than 1, (and honestly it is WAY more than 1) it is too many.

And other religions have their issues as well.  So is creating a worry about tax exempt status important?  Why yes it is.  It allows people to focus on things other than the fact that many organized religions are more concerned with denying others their civil rights and freedoms than they are anything else.  This distracts the conversation.  It’s the political equivalent of yelling “Squirrel!”  It rallies the religious base to ignore what’s really important and move to build a protective wall around their (religious) treasure.  And nothing generates more votes than fear and hate.

For the record, there has not been any targeting of churches’ tax exempt status for this reason yet.  But when the issue was raised in the Supreme Court discussion, it was noted that the continued denial of civil rights could lead to a review of tax exempt status.  That makes sense to me.  If corporations or people deny anyone their civil rights, there is an action taken against them.  Are we to believe that religious entities are above the law?

Yes Virginia, there is freedom of religion in this country, but there is not freedom to break the law.  If your new religion requires human sacrifice and cannibalism should we permit it? (I’m sorry if that hit too close to your beliefs, Scientology.)  Of course not.  The law wasn’t enacted to circumvent religion.  It was enacted to guarantee that all MEN and WOMEN are created equal and allowed the same rights.  Period.  We should not celebrate anyone or anything that believes otherwise.  Next you will tell me Boko Haram kidnapping and killing girls because they dared be educated is allowable.  Stop using religion to shield your small mindedness.  Embrace the golden rule – treat everyone well.  Don’t make exceptions when you don’t or won’t understand others.

In the Dark Ages and other less advanced times, homosexuality and science (!) were considered Satan’s work.  We know that’s not true now.  You can ignore science.  You can dislike the practice of homosexuality.  But we acknowledge the truth of science and we know homosexuality is not a choice.  We are smarter, more educated and more open to the truth of things than we were.  Let’s stop the fear mongering.  Let’s stop the hate speech.  I think it is time for understanding and acceptance.

And you kill what you fear
And you fear what you don’t understand
(Collins, Banks 1980)

Hey Ted!  Boy Genius!  Do you think you could lay off the fear mongering and hate speech? Do you think could work on understanding?  You did go to college, you do have an education.  Keep in mind I will be proposing a Wonderlic Test for politicians.  And why yes, I do think you would score below Vince Young, another famous Texan.  Maybe you could aspire to more?  I don’t think so either.

Ted Cruz Reconsidered: How Stupid Does He Think I am?

Ted Cruz recently referred to one day last week as,”… some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.” I started down a path to find several sets of 24 hours that were almost as dark and bleak.  It was very difficult. Any day on the trail of tears.  The Alamo (ok maybe it wasn’t OUR country yet.) The assassination of President Lincoln.  Pearl Harbor. Black Friday.  The assassination of President Kennedy.  Kent State. Sandy Hook.  Super Storm Sandy. The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Any devastating tornado in the Midwest.  What Fox did to Firefly.  The Immaculate Reception. (Yes Virginia, Lee was a Raider’s fan in his Youth.) The Giants choking in the 2002 World Series.   Clearly all of those pale compared to the havoc wreaked by the affirmation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka ObamaCare) and the validation of marriage between any 2 people across the entire US.

As I started down this path, I reread an article, which I’m sure you will find distasteful.  Ted Cruz has some wonderful opinions and I really believe we need to discuss them.  I understand why some people find Cruz delightful and erudite.  He’s well-spoken and Christian.  Both pluses in this wonderful country of ours.  Of course, being one of those “well educated Liberals” that I’m sure he despises (or at best tolerates), I find much of what comes out his mouth pure nonsense.  Let’s review some of the quotes in the aforementioned article.

And from the top:

“This week in response to both of these decisions, I have called for another constitutional amendment — this one that would make members of the Supreme Court subject to periodic judicial retention elections,” said Cruz.

Well golly gee Ted! What a grand idea.  I know the constitution you were so found of had appointees to the Supreme Court given lifetime appointments.  I think that might have had to do something with being able to be fair and balanced and follow their minds, not the whims of voters.  The intent was for them NOT to need, like you, to cow tow to a base to be re-elected.  Is there anything else in the constitution you don’t like?  Why is the Constitution only acceptable when you get your way?

“The court’s views are radically out of step with public opinion,” said Cruz. “The Supreme Court follows the opinions of Manhattan and Washington D.C., but it doesn’t follow the opinions of America.”

Really?  I’m in California and I like many of the court rulings. Even when I disagree, I agree with the fact that they are ruling and it’s the law.  Oh wait, Manhattan is code for liberal.  Yes, I am that.  But do you really believe that taking away the health insurance from 6 million people based on a typo is a good idea?  Do you honestly believe denying people equal protection under the law makes sense based on you (and let’s be honest, your religious beliefs) inability to understand that some people are different?  Who are you to say that two people can’t be in love and share a life because they don’t fit your stereotype of “normal?”  Why is it when the Supreme Court finds the way conservatives want, “it’s the LAW!” but if they rule in a more liberal way conservatives scream “break up the court!”, “Obama is blackmailing Roberts” or other subversive verbiage?

Courts in over 70% of the states found marriage to be civil right (no need to label it).  Is your assertion that the remaining 30% are the only ones that know what is true and legal and we should ignore the other 70%?  Which side of this argument are you on?  Clearly not both.  Why are you set on denying a significant portion of our country their civil rights?  I understand it makes you uncomfortable.  I really get that.  But, do you tell your kids, “when something makes you comfortable, fight, ridicule and hate till it’s changed?”  Nope as adults we deal with uncomfortable situations all the time.  We deal with it.  Grow the fuck up. Please.

The court is not supposed to follow the lead of the country.  It’s the entire point of making them independent.  Next you’ll want to 86 the Electoral College. A key foundation of the constitution is that some people know more.  If a majority of your constitutions want you to vote one way, and a big business donor/lobbyist needs you to vote the other way, I’m sure you follow the money.  Do you take a vote of your state and ALWAYS follow their wishes?  No SIR, you do not.

Perhaps you believe the only good ideas come from you and are based on hate and intolerance.  It appears that way to this humble author.  Perhaps you’d be happier in 14th Century Italy.  The church ruled everything and the decided who could and couldn’t be married.  And taxed their property.  And were the real power behind the rulers. Do you secretly wish your name was Medici?

I think you should put forth a proposal that we eliminate the separation of church and state and allow some Evangelical Minister to make the rules and laws.  I get the sense that is what you really want. Doesn’t it ever bother you how many of them are TV, taking money from the elderly and simple minded so they can live lavishly?  Oh wait, that would be you, wouldn’t it?    If you want silk suits and diamonds a la Oral Roberts, or sexually adventurous secretaries to be more like Jim Bakker, I say you earn them yourself on your simple Senator’s salary of nearly $200k (plus perks from your PAC and SuperPAC).

And then there is beauty of logic

“It’s very easy for Republican politicians to stand up and say they oppose Barack Obama. That’s not hard to do,” he continued. “I think the question Republican primary voters should ask is, ‘When have you stood up against the Washington cartel? When have you stood up against leaders in our own party?'”

Really Rafael? (I think you make a better Theodore or Beaver, but what do I know?)  The Washington Cartel?  Aren’t you part of it?  I get the views on taxes and smaller government, but you’ll have to go a long way to show me that you are not part of the establishment.  Are you now “going rogue” like Sarah “the Alaskan Brain Surgeon” Palin?  Are you forming your own party because the concept of Ketchup as a vegetable doesn’t go far enough?  Are you standing up to say that those that don’t follow your religion should only get 3/5ths of a vote?

What lame ass things are you planning on doing?  Shutting down the government didn’t work. Oh wait, after you did that, you said you didn’t.  Did you (fact) or didn’t you (lie)?  You do have the innate ability to be confusing. That’s political GOLD Beav!   When you were a sad little boy, did you take your ball and go home because the other kids thought you looked funny?  I’m guessing you threw a lot of tantrums.

If the few quotes from this recent interview doesn’t turn your tummy, here is another article detailing some of Cruz’s most ridiculous quotes. Of course that was a few months ago, most of those are now superseded.  You should read those and educate yourself on the Senator who wants to be the most powerful man in the world.  Free speech does not mean you can say anything you want and not be held accountable for saying it.  I’m sure when you go to bed at night you often think, “Did I really say that?  Will people think it is inane?”  Yes, you did and yes, we do.  There are a few clichés in this world.  One is that the most of the people who seek public office are power hungry and totally devoid of the skills needed to hold that office.  Describes you pretty well, don’t you think Ted?

The more I read and the more I learn, the less I like what you stand for.  I’m just one man and this is just my opinion.  I think that’s why my name is on the byline.  I think it is great you are comfortable with your religion.  I think it is wonderful that the citizens of Texas seem to believe in what you stand for.  But to this simple Jew, I see you pandering to the religious right.  It appears that you are following the golden rule to an extreme.  Well, if the golden rule is “treat the people who believe and act like you as you want to be treated; fuck the others and stick them in a deep, dark hole.”  I’m not Christian, but I don’t’ think that’s the golden rule.  I don’t’ study scripture but didn’t Jesus preach tolerance?  What changed?

Let me give you a few more dark blots on our country’s history:

Jim Bakker. Oral Roberts.  Jimmy Swaggart. Bob Larson. Ted Haggard.

See a pattern?  I’m guessing the people they lead astray and effectively stole from are the people you are reaching out to.  Are you just another Charlatan?  Seems like a very valid question to me.

Maybe I’m wrong.  But I think if you ask nicely, Donald Trump will slide over and make room in his clown car for you.  Right, you already yelled shotgun! taking your rightful, appropriate seat.