Thursday, September 30, 2010

Congratulations, Imogene!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

I learned this evening that Imogene Knaust has been named the Circuit Manager for Missouri's 39th Circuit Children's Division (Barry, Stone, and part of Taney Counties).  At one time I was the Circuit Manager of the 40th (McDonald and Newton Counties), and I know how demanding (I almost wrote "demeaning" - calling Dr. Freud!) that position can be.  

Imogene and I worked together many times over the years.  She could be the most caring person in the room, or the toughest, depending on what would best serve the children involved.  She has always been a fierce advocate for the needs of rural Missouri's most disadvantaged youth.

I congratulate Imogene on accepting this new challenge - she is exactly the right person for the job, and I congratulate the state of Missouri for having the good sense to put her at the helm of the 39th Circuit!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tim Macy, Screenwriter

by Pa Rock
Extremely Proud Parent

I am the parent of three adult children.  They have each pursued their own paths in life, and I am very proud - make that extremely proud - of each of them!

My youngest, Tim, called last weekend to let me know that he was a finalist in the highly prestigious Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship Competition - or, in layman's terms, he is in the final ten of over 6,000 entrants!  Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (those good folks that present the annual Academy Awards) issued a press release on the competition.  It follows:

Academy Announces Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship Finalists for 2010

Beverly Hills, CA (September 27, 2010) — Ten writers have been selected as finalists for the 25th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Their scripts will now be read and judged by the Academy’s Nicholl Committee, which may award as many as five of the prestigious $30,000 fellowships.
This year’s finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):

  • Art Corriveau, Santa Fe, New Mexico, “Nicky Flynn Finally Gets a Life”

  • Destin Daniel Cretton, San Diego, Calif., “Short Term 12”

  • Sebastian Davis, Los Angeles, Calif., “Drunk-Dialing”

  • Marvin Krueger, North Hollywood, Calif., “And Handled with a Chain”

  • Andrew Lanham, Austin, Texas, “The Jumper of Maine”

  • Tim Macy, Kansas City, Mo., “The Last Queen”

  • Micah Ranum, Beverly Hills, Calif., “A Good Hunter”

  • Cinthea Stahl, North Hollywood, Calif., “Identifying Marks”

  • Logan Steiner, Redondo Beach, Calif., “The Promise of Spring”

  • Sage Vanden Heuvel, Ann Arbor, Mich., “Inner Earth”
The finalists were selected from 6,304 scripts submitted for this year’s competition. The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000, or received a fellowship or prize that includes a “first look” clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work.
The Nicholl Committee, chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd, is composed of writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie, Jr., Tom Rickman and Dana Stevens; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographers John Bailey and Steven B. Poster; executive Bill Mechanic; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.
Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.

Since the program’s inception in 1985, 113 fellowships have been awarded, and a number of fellows have achieved considerable success. Mike Rich, a 1998 fellow, wrote the upcoming “Secretariat.” Susannah Grant, a 1992 fellow, earned an Oscar nomination in 2000 for her “Erin Brockovich” screenplay. Andrew W. Marlowe, a 1992 fellow, created and executive produces ABC’s “Castle,” for which Terri Miller, also a 1992 fellow, is a writer-producer. “City Island,” which was written and directed by 1991 fellow Raymond De Felitta, premiered at the 2009 Berlin and Tribeca film festivals, and premiered theatrically in March of this year.

Several other Nicholl fellows have had success in the film industry; to read more about them, visit

Way to go, Tim!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Joe Arpaio: Lousy Bookkeeper or Petty Tyrant?

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

I used to fear living in Maricopa County, Arizona - literally fear for my personal safety and that of my friends and neighbors.  It wasn't the fabled (and mostly imaginary) murderous cartels and gangs of kidnappers that had me quaking in my cargo shorts, rather it was the county's front line defense against crime: the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the nation's poster boy for police-thuggery, managed to get his mug in the papers and on television almost daily with ridiculous "sweeps" that would net a handful of undocumented workers and tie up traffic and whole communities for hours on end, and barbaric treatment of prisoners in the county jails that resulted in injuries, deaths, and expensive lawsuits whose damage awards ultimately had to be footed by the taxpayers.

(Personal dealings with Sheriff's deputies on two occasions convinced me that even though the Sheriff and his top deputies and aids had power and control issues, the deputies on the street were amazingly courteous and professional.  Indeed, I got the distinct impression from one that he was embarrassed by all of his boss's publicity-seeking behaviors.)

One of the most heinous and truly scary activities of Sheriff Joe, however, was his open feud with the County Board of Supervisors.  The Sheriff of Maricopa County is an elected position, as are the positions of County Supervisors who are charged with the management of the county and its finances.  Sheriff Joe had (still has) the mindset of a middle eastern potentate, and he would not suffer "management" by anyone.   Arpaio and his glove puppet, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, literally went to war with the Board of Supervisors - arresting Supervisor Don Stapley on a list of over one hundred charges - which were later dropped, and then bringing racketeering charges against Stapley and Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, as well as three judges and a few other individuals in an action that was later thrown out of court.  Currently, lawsuits totaling $5.6 million are pending over that fiasco.

(Andrew Thomas subsequently resigned, ran for state attorney general and lost the Republican primary. He was replaced as County Attorney by Rick Romley, a dedicated public servant who is not so enamored of Joe.)

So now the ball is in the Supervisors' court.  A recent audit and subsequent budget report has been issued accusing Arpaio of misspending as much as $80 million on immigration sweeps, public corruption probes, unauthorized travel to luxury destinations, and even the purchase of a tour bus to transport prisoners.  The report also indicated that the Sheriff's office maintained secret bank accounts to keep the county government from being able to monitor its expenditures, as well as keeping two sets of payroll books.

The monkey is on Joe's back and he is supposedly busy figuring out how to restore the funds and put proper safeguards in place for expenditures by the Sheriff's office.  County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who is undoubtedly still smarting over being referred to as a "racketeer," said that if the Sheriff's office fails to cooperate with fixing the situation, she will ask the federal government to take over the operation of the county's jails.

Federal involvement in Joe's shenanigans is long overdue.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Unfortunately, the states that make it easiest to buy guns don't always suffer the criminal consequences of their lax gun laws.   The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) traced more that 145,000 guns used in crimes in the United States in 2009 and found that nearly a third had been purchased in other states.

A study released by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group of over 500 city mayors headed by Michael Bloomberg of New York City, stated that 49% of the guns that crossed state lines and were then used to commit crimes came from just 10 states - places where it is easy to buy guns, often in large quantities, with very little hassle.  The states most apt to be arms suppliers for criminals in other states were:  Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California, and Arizona.

Several of those states are in the south, where the Federal government has always been somewhat suspect, thus making it easier to justify lax gun laws by whipping up a fear that the government is hatching a plan to come and get your guns.  Indiana, with its strong Ku Klux Klan past and ultra-conservative posture also fits nicely into that category.

Several years ago Washington, DC, passed a district ordinance forbidding private ownership of handguns within the District of Columbia.  The National Rifle Association went apoplectic and spent several tons of gun manufacturers' money fighting to have the will of the District overturned.  They finally succeeded at the Supreme Court level.  Most of those Washington, DC, guns came from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

And then there is Arizona.  The sand goobers sell guns, often by the carload, that quickly find their way to drug traffickers and gangs in Mexico, and then when those same weapons are involved in drug crime north of the border, the uber-patriotic Arizonans use those crimes to stir racial hatred and peddle more guns.  It's a sweet little racket - arming both sides - capitalism at its finest.

States were also ranked according to the number of guns they exported compared to the size of the states' population (number of gun exports per 100,000 population).  The top ten from that standpoint were:  Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, and Georgia.

The mayors would like to have some real control over crime in their cities, but as long as there are no national standards related to gun sales, that goal will be unattainable.  If the only solution to rampant crime is to arm the entire citizenry, we, as a nation, are standing on the precipice of disaster - while the gun industry gets richer and richer!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Fiction in the Arizona Desert?

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It's a wonder that anyone still comes to Arizona.  The left is blanketing the state with an economic boycott in retaliation for the Arizona's openly racist laws and policies, and the right is constantly trying to inflame public opinion against immigrants with stories of drug runners, human smugglers, rampant kidnappings, and headless bodies lying around the desert.

This week the Associated Press ran a story regarding one small piece of the mural that Jan Brewer and her right-wing graffiti artists are peddling.  It involves Deputy Louie Puroll of Pinal County who said that he was out by himself in the desert south of Phoenix on April 30th of this year.   Puroll said that he was following a group of smugglers who were transporting bales of marijuana when he was attacked by men carrying AK-47 rifles.  Fortunately, according to the deputy, he was able to escape the ambush with only a flesh wound on his back.

Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County reviewed the evidence before closing the criminal investigation and concluded that it had occurred as reported by his deputy.  But a reporter with the Associated Press wasn't satisfied with the conclusion, feeling that the incident might have been timed to inflame the racial hatred that has consumed portions of Arizona for the past several months.

When the sheriff's office released photos of the wound, the Associated Press forwarded the photos on to two nationally known forensic pathologists:  Dr. Michael Baden of New York and Dr. Werner Spitz of suburban Detroit.  Both of these well-respected experts examined the photos of the wound, and each came to the same conclusion - that the bullet was fired just inches from the victim - and not at a long distance as reported by the deputy.

The sheriff's office rebutted the report stating that the deputy's shirt did not have the right type of burn marks for a close shot, but the experts declared that it did.  Inexplicably, Sheriff Babeu did not turn over the shirt to the state crime lab for a proper forensic examination.

So, it boils down to this:  Are their brown desperadoes roaming the deserts of southern Arizona running drugs, smuggling people, kidnapping, beheading those who get in their way, and shooting high-powered rifles at lone deputies who are out patrolling on their own - or is it just lies and really bad theatre - or is it a mix of truth and fiction?  Tourists should stay away from Arizona until this mud at least starts to clarify.

John of Orange and Chaste Christine

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

John Boehner, the man who would be Speaker of the House (shortly after hell freezes over), has told the Wall Street Journal (a recent acquisition of Rupert Murdoch's rag bag empire) that he has never used a tanning bed or tanning products.  He said that he inherited his unnatural hue from his mother, and that four of his twelve siblings also have the same skin coloring.

So America just needs to back off.  John Boehner is naturally orange!  (And let's have no speculation that his skin coloration is a by-product of playing endless golf with lobbyists!  That's just coincidental!)

There is a clip circulating on the Internet in which a slightly younger Christine O'Donnell states on an old episode of Scarborough Country (2003) that it is possible to keep Americans (young and single Americans) from having sex.  (Didn't we fight a big war to keep the world free of totalitarianism?  Didn't Germany and Italy and Japan lose that one?)

Sweet Christine, do you really want the government running our sex lives?

Friday, September 24, 2010

What I Can Do for My Country

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Kudos to Barbara Williams, the Clerk of McDonald County, Missouri, and her fine staff for getting my absentee ballot for the November general election to me on September 24th - all the way to Okinawa, Japan.  That's exemplary service!  Now I will be able to cast my vote against Roy Blunt with plenty of time to spare!

There are several offices in McDonald County where only Republicans are on the ballot - it's that kind of place - and in two of the challenged races I actually prefer the Republican.   (That must be old age settling in!)  But by and large I will ignore the unopposed candidates and vote Democratic on the others.  Clearly, the U.S. Senate race in Missouri is the big kahuna, and I still predict that Robin Carnahan will prevail over Blunt.

There is one statewide initiative measure of note on the ballot that is worth support.  It is focused on puppy mills, which are, along with meth production, two of Missouri's sleaziest and most lucrative industries.  The ballot measure would require large-scale dog-breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food, clean water, housing and space, necessary veterinary care, regular exercise, and adequate rest between breeding cycles.  It would also prohibit any breeder from having more than 50 breeding dogs for the purpose of selling their puppies as pets.  And finally, it would create a misdemeanor crime of "puppy mill cruelty" for any violations of the publicly-initiated law.  This initiative sounds like a step in the right direction - but fifty breeding dogs is still one hell of a big operation!

Ol' Roy, my vote against you will go out in the mail tomorrow.  It's the least I can do for my country!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chuck Norris: Goober with a Gun

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The fascists are organizing for the November elections, a fact that normally wouldn't land in my mailbox.  But, as my Dad's executor, I have been receiving his mail since he passed away last December.  Needless to say, Dad's correspondents and mine seem to be from two entirely different planets, particularly those appealing for money or votes - or both.

Today Dad got a rather expensive looking pamphlet from The NRA Freedom Action Foundation,  a title that just oozes patriotism.    And being from the NRA, America's premier gun lobby, why, what good, red-blooded American wouldn't want to lubricate his (or her) hand and start jerking off a .357 Magnum?  To make this shiny piece of crap from the gun lobby even more appealing to America's frail aged (and it's beer-bellied Neanderthals), it features two big photos of Chuck Norris, "Black Belt Patriot," who is apparently the honorary chairman of the NRA's "Trigger the Vote" campaign.

The pamphlet is actually an appeal to register to vote.  Old Chuckles (and he truly is old) urges his geriatric brothers and sisters onward with these red-white-and-blue words:  "I will never surrender, and neither should you.  Get tough - register to vote!"  Included in the mailing is a voter registration form for the state of Arizona.

So the NRA has money to send voter registration materials to people in every state in the union?  Do they have cars and drivers to get these folks to the polls as well?  They scary answer is "possibly."  As much as the NRA would like for us to believe that they are citizen-funded, financed by the little guy, the behemoth political organization is, in truth, basically funded by gun manufactures, arms merchants, and war profiteers - people who make their money off of violence.

Sadly, if it weren't for the enormous political clout that the NRA buys with its blood-soaked money, guns would not be nearly as "necessary" as lame-ass old Chuck lets on.

While my Dad owned a few guns, he wasn't stupid.  I remember talking to him after Missouri citizens voted down a bill to allow people to carry concealed weapons.  To my surprise and delight, he had voted against it also.  His response to that bill: "That's just stupid!"  And it was.  Unfortunately for Missouri, the state legislature eventually "corrected" the public's error and passed a bill without the peoples' approval.

So, Mr. Black Belt Patriot, thanks for thinking of my Dad, but know this:  if Dad was around to vote, I'm doubting that his ballot would benefit the jerkwads you represent.  He was a lot smarter than that!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

John McCain is Still a Richard

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Remember when your kindly old grandmother used to caution, "Once a dick, always a dick"?    Well, those words were never truer than in the case of Arizona's crotchety senior senator, John McCain.

McCain, a son and grandson of admirals who grew up enjoying an unhealthy amount of privilege, easily got into the Naval Academy in the 1950's where he managed to graduate near the bottom of his class.  He served as a young officer in Vietnam, quickly establishing a lackluster career until he managed to get shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese.  Several years later McCain emerged from his captivity,  finished out his time in the military, divorced his handicapped wife and mother of his children, married a beer heiress who was young and pretty and had lots of money, and went on to a scandal-tarnished life in politics.

There was a time a decade ago when McCain tried to wear a mantle of straight-talker, posing as a man of unswerving principle, but those days ended when he tacked sharply right in his run up to the Presidential election of 2008.   By the time he made his famous pilgrimage to Lynchburg, Virginia, to kiss Jerry Falwell's ring (or ass, as the case may be), America knew that John the straight-talker had been taken back over by sleazy John, the eternal politician.  It was a case of truly bad instincts and terrible timing, because what America was seeking after eight years of George Bush was an honest-to-God straight-talker.   Fortunately Barack Obama was available, and the country did not have to settle for a geriatric Bush clone.

But you can't keep a bad dick down.  McCain, like his even more evil twin, Joe Lieberman, is still in the Senate and never misses an opportunity to stick it to those he views as his philosophical or political enemies - which includes most of literate America.  Yesterday he creamed his adult diaper by leading a filibuster of the Defense Appropriations Bill because it had language ending the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell, joke of a policy aimed at keeping patriotic gay members of the Armed Forces in the closet - out of sight, out of mind.

Cindy McCain, John's lovely wife, supports gay rights.  Meghan McCain, John's outspoken and highly intelligent daughter, supports gay rights.  The family cocker spaniel probably supports gay rights - but not John.  Intellectually, John has to know that the time of gender bigotry has passed, even in the military, and that there are many gays serving in uniform today who perform essential duties that help to keep our country safe.  But mean, old, political John is playing to his base, the sand goobers of Arizona who enjoy being mired in hate and bigotry.

And that's a pity because John McCain could be a leader taking America forward.  Instead, he chooses to be a jackass, braying loudly and refusing to move.

I've whipped myself into such a frenzy, that I am going to send another check to Rodney Glassman.  You should too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There Ought to Be a Law!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Laws can fix anything, right?  Just ask the prohibitionists if you don't believe me - one little Constitutional Amendment and they were able to end the consumption of alcohol in America...forever!  Well, for a year or two anyway, and that hiatus from legal alcohol helped to foist the concept of organized crime on America.  Al Capone loved prohibition.  It made Big Al a very rich man!

Every so often our country has to flex its moral muscle and try to tell people how to behave in private.   Sadly, we seem to be in one of those times now.

Nut Job Christine O'Donnell, the Republican Senate candidate in Delaware who is so opposed to masturbation, tells us not to worry because morality can be legislated!  She's wrong, of course, but it looks as though we are in for a long slog while all of the sexually frustrated folks in America try to pass laws telling the rest of the country what they can and can't do in the privacy of their homes and bedrooms.  Some of these people have been seething since the Lewinski affair more than a decade ago.  Yes, blow jobs happen - and there is absolutely no law, no matter how cleverly crafted, that will change that fact of life.

The Republican Party of Montana adopted an official party platform in June outlining its beliefs and goals.  One goal of that auspicious group is to outlaw homosexuality.  Not only do they not want to move into the twenty-first century and be accepting of our nation's gay and lesbian citizens, offering them basic dignities like the right to marry and to serve openly and proudly in America's armed forces, these goobers want to criminalize the entire lifestyle!

(And the hypocrisy is staggering.  Almost every time there is some "gay sex scandal" revealed in the press, a prominent Republican or Bible thumper is caught with his zipper down.  Remember Mark Foley chasing the young male pages around the Capitol, Senator Larry Craig looking for action in the men's room of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, or Reverend (sic) Ted Haggard bottoming for a male prostitute who also supplied the frisky minister with meth?  What a bunch of hypocrites!)

Maybe stuff like that doesn't happen in Montana, but if it doesn't, are the cows safe?

America is moving beyond stupidity.  The fact that the Republican Party remains mired in the Dark Ages speaks volumes to their ability to regain and keep political control of the country.  Republicans, and especially the teabagger Republicans, have made themselves into an irrelevant laughing stock.  Some of them have the ability to see where their party is headed, but they are the minority of a minority.  America, by and large, has moved on, while Republicans remain focused on fighting social battles of the last century.

There ought to be a law - one that would tell people to mind their own damned business!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dabble, Dabble, Toil and Trabble!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Delaware teabagger and Republican U.S. Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell had to cancel two appearances on the Sunday morning news shows yesterday because Bill Maher released an old clip from his Politically Incorrect show where the candidate admitted that she has a history of  dabbling in witchcraft while she was in high school.


No, she never joined a coven or got her own broom, but she dabbled.  She also told Mahr that after going to a movie with some young man, they had a midnight picnic on a bloody satanic altar.

Sweet.  A bloody satanic altar!

So Christine had to cancel on the Sunday news shows because she did not want to rehash her extra-curricular high school activities.  That's a pity, because so far the witchcraft connection is the most interesting thing that has surfaced about her.  True, she opposes masturbation, but the old girl loosens up a bit when it comes to the notion of picnicking (at midnight) on a bloody satanic altar!

Apparently, according to some her ex-aides, Christine got interested in politics in order to get her own television show.  She loves the cameras, and was eager to be a regular guest on Politically Incorrect, logging nineteen appearances on the program.  And to keep interest in her at a fever pitch, she said many outrageous things over the course of those nineteen weeks.  Maher has all of the tapes and plans to lampoon the candidate with her own words every week until she agrees to come on his current show - which any sane candidate would avoid like the plague.

But Christine O'Donnell, who believes unequivocally that morality can be legislated - and who literally lives off of campaign donations (she has no job or other source of income), may just rise to the occasion and visit Real Time with Bill Mahr.   She will play the fool whether she does or not.

Crank up the popcorn popper...this election is going to be a helluva lot of fun!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Free Speech or Rich Privilege

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Republicans have a couple of basic beliefs that allow them to ride roughshod over the little people.  One of those beliefs is that corporations are people, a legal notion that was created by a Supreme Court error a century ago and basically says that corporations have all of the rights and protections of any other individuals in this country.  The second notion that is cherished by Republicans is that "speech" and "money" are synonymous.

Republicans generally oppose any limits on campaign donations or expenditures, because such ideas limit the amount of speech they can generate.  They want people to be free to spend as much money as they want on elections, and if the richest candidates just happen to be Republicans, well, they obviously can generate more and louder speech.    Republicans also fiercely believe that people should be free to donate as much money as they want to candidates (except for George Soros) - and remember, those big corporations are people, too!  And the fact that many of the biggest and baddest corporations support Republicans, who in turn support corporate greed, inhumanity to workers and consumers, and environmental malfeasance - well, that's just gravy!

Just this week figures came out on one candidate who is self-funding her campaign with so much speech money that its a wonder all of the citizens in her state have not become deaf!  Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor of California, has spent a whopping $113 million of her own money on getting elected, and the race is still several weeks away.  Fortunately for the people of California, Whitman is running against Democrat Jerry Brown, a seasoned progressive with the ability to get his message out without appearing as though he is purchasing votes!  David will defeat Goliath in California despite her huge handbag!

A couple of other political notes from this week:

Fox News (sic) is suing Missouri Democratic senatorial candidate Robin Carnahan because she is using a clip from Chris Wallace and Fox News (sic) without their express permission.  In the clip, Wallace asks Republican Roy Blunt how he can be expected to help clean up Washington, DC, after he inserted an amendment into the Homeland Security Bill in 2002 that would have benefited Phillip Morris, Inc, the tobacco giant that employed Blunt's girlfriend as a lobbyist.  Murdoch et al don't like seeing their "news" turned against one of their own - but Carnahan isn't cowered and says she will keep the spot running.   Carnahan has a series of campaign commercials called "Roy Blunt:   The Very Worst of Washington." They are hilarious.  Check them out at

Bill Mahr is running a clip from his old show, Politically Incorrect, in which Christine O'Donnell, teabagger and Republican candidate for the Senate from Delaware, admits that she used to dabble in witchcraft.  Mahr said he has all of the old Politically Incorrect tapes, and plans to release an embarrassing O'Donnell clip every week until she agrees to come on his current show, Real Time With Bill Mahr.

And, as if all of that isn't enough entertainment for one week, there is the bitch-slapping contest spilling out onto the Alaskan landscape between Sarah Palin and Lisa Murkowski.  That one is going to be too funny for words by the time those two mangy mama grizzlies get done with each other!

An Alaskan Woman Who Won't Quit!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The mud and one-liners are flying in Alaska!  Incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was defeated by teabagger Joe Miller in the state's Republican senate primary last month, has decided that she will not go quietly into that dark night.  Murkowski announced today that she will run as a write-in candidate for the senate seat that she currently occupies.

The race is now a three-way between the petulant Ms. Murkowski, Republican candidate Joe Miller, and Democrat Scott McAdams who is the current mayor of Sitka.  (McAdams has got to be loving Murkowski's ego right about now as  she moves to split the Republican vote.  Many in the Delaware Democratic party would also be overjoyed if newly defeated Mike Castle would run as a write-in!)

But running as a write-in is a very expensive process.  True, Murkowski still has over a million dollars of campaign cash in the bank (much of which was supplied by her lobbyist friends in the oil and gas industry), but it will take more if she is to blanket Alaska with her "speech" (a Republican term meaning "money"), while, at the same time, educating voters on how to spell her name and cast a legal write-in vote.

Nearly eight years in Washington D.C. has taught Senator Murkowski where the campaign cash is stashed.  Today just before she made her big announcement, her chief of staff, Karen Knudson, sent  out an email appeal for support to every lobbyist in the senator's Rolodex - including representatives of Chevron, Conoco Philllips, and Marathon Oil.  Yup, Lisa knows where to find the real the campaign cash.

Sarah Palin, America's favorite nitwit and former half-term governor of Alaska, is a big supporter of Joe Miller, the teabagger and official Republican candidate - and a long-standing nemesis of the Murkowski family.  (Palin had the bad manners to oust Murkowski's father from the governor's throne in Alaska after he had given her a cushy job with great money contacts on the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission.)  This morning Palin hit Twitter with a couple of stinging tweets aimed straight at Senator Murkowski.  In one, Palin encouraged her to do what any sensible person would do when encountering a Grizzly in the woods:  "Don't run!"  Palin was also big on her "people have spoken" crap and the importance of not screwing with "the will of the people."

Ms. Murkowski is a bit of a Mama Grizzly herself.  In her announcement this morning she referred to herself as "one woman who would not quit on Alaska!"

Ouch.  That's gotta hurt.

Ladies, to your corners!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Texas Board of Education Likes Their Kids Stupid

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Texas State Board of Education should give their stupidity a rest, but, unfortunately for the young people of Texas, they never do.  For the past couple of decades the State Board in the Lone Star State has been focused on cleansing curriculum on anything they view as remotely promoting any liberal viewpoints, no matter how much truth and knowledge have to be sacrificed in the process.  The Texas State Board of Education sees curriculum through an entirely right-wing political lens.

The latest screed put out by this group of powerful nitwits alleges that social studies books in Texas schools have always expressed pro-Islamic views over good Christian views.  They refer to these imagined pro-Islamic statements as "tainting" Texas textbooks.

Well, they are partially right.  Texas school books are notorious for being tainted, but not by Islamic views.  The good ole boys on the State Board of Education taint their books by rewriting history to make it fit their view of how things should have been.

The board didn't like using the religious skeptic Thomas Jefferson as an example of "Enlightenment" thinking, and deleted him - replacing him with John Calvin, a truly non-enlightened individual who has a strong following among Protestant religious fundamentalists - a.k.a.  the American Taliban.  Teachers in Texas are expected to expound on the Christian influences of our country's founding fathers, but ignore the rationale for the separation of church and state.  Modern fundamentalists, of course, do not believe the founding fathers really meant to separate church and state.  The word "democratic" has also been removed from textbook descriptions of our republic and has been placed with the more acceptable "constitutional."

Okay, so Texas prefers that their children be stupid.  That doesn't impact the rest of us, does it?

As somebody who has been involved in the purchase of school textbooks, I can tell you that publishers make books to please the biggest customers - places like Texas - and they do not make a different version of history for each state.  When it comes to textbooks, the rule seems to be, "As Texas goes, so goes the nation."  How sad, and how shameful!

I'm not much of a believer in home-schooling, because it is often abused, and the kids involved sit home all day watching television or learning a world view through the lens of politics or a rabid religion.  But homeschooling might be a blessing in Texas.  At least that way some of the children would stand a chance of becoming educated.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Still Upbeat About November!

by Pa Rock 
Citizen Journalist

Now that the primary season is essentially over, the political pundits (who apparently live on their own planet where there is a distinct lack of oxygen) are all braying about a Republican sweep of Congress this November.

Horse pucky, I say, it ain't a-gonna happen!

I read the scribblings of one journalist today who sort of echoed my feelings about the November general election.  He (or she, I can't remember who it was) said that there are two ways of looking at the upcoming election.  The thirty-thousand-foot view, where one peers down from the heavens, is all doom and gloom for the Democrats because the voting public is demonstrably mad at the party in power, the Democrats, and that should mean that they will get swept from office by a flood of Biblical proportions.  But, the same writer noted that the picture is distinctly different when seen from a state-by-state vantage point.  There, while voters may be unhappy with Congress in general, they often don't let that anger carry over to their own senators and representatives.  It is the other guys senators and representatives who really piss them off.  Those folks hate Nancy Pelosi, but unless they are registered voters in her San Francisco district, tough shit!

Yes, the Democrats may (and probably will) suffer losses in both houses of Congress, but it will be a trickle, not an arc-floater!

It will take a change of forty seats from Democrat to Republican for the party of George Bush, Karl Rove, and vacuous Sarah Palin to gain control of the House of Representatives - and, in the unlikely event that would happen - and it won't - two years of orange Speaker of the House John Boehner and his dastardly shenanigans would do more to re-elect President Obama than any tactic the Democratic Party could concoct.

Ten is the magic number of seat changes that it would take to make the United States Senate into a Republican majority operation.  That isn't happening either.  Even if it was going to be close, yesterday's gift to the Democrats by the lunatic teabaggers of Delaware just made it statistically impossible.  Christine O'Donnell doesn't stand a gnat's chance in a typhoon of winning that Senate seat, and everybody knows it - including several prominent Republicans - including Karl Freaking Rove!

Taking control of the Senate would require Republicans to take ten seats away from Democrats while protecting all that they currently hold.  They won't win in Alaska, where another Palin-backed teabagger is on the GOP ballot after having defeated the sitting Republican.  They won't win in Kentucky where Rand Paul, also a teabagger, has the GOP nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Jim Bunning.  And, despite what Rasmussen says, they won't win in Missouri either where Robin Carnahan is fixing to turn Ol' Roy Blunt into a full-time lobbyist.

No, 2010 won't be a glorious year for Democrats, but it's not going to be the disaster that so many journalists are predicting.  And as for 2012, well, I'm already smiling from ear-to-ear about that one!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christine O'Donnell's Guidelines for Federal Employees

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Anti-masturbation teabagger, Christine O'Donnell, fresh from her Republican Senate primary victory in Delaware, has just hit the streets with her proposed "Guidelines for Federal Employees."  The modest proposal will be distributed on the windshields of cars parked at Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant churches across America every Sunday between now and the return of Christ, or the November general election - whichever comes first.

Regarding this clearly important and necessary set of rules, early reports indicate that Sarah Palin will tweet the entire document, line-by-line, Glenn Beck will read it while crying shamelessly from his television pulpit, Senator Jim DeMint will propose it as a Constitutional Amendment to replace odious Number Fourteen, and the Texas Board of Education will make reading it a requirement for high school graduation - replacing the requirements to be able to write coherently and cipher into the three digits.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News and the Wasilla Baptist Beacon,  Ms. O'Donnell said that God has told her of His concern over the time and energy that Americans expend in the act of masturbation - time and energy that could be better  spent raising money to build mega-churches with multiple in-door basketball courts.  Ms. O'Donnell said that in an effort to appease her angry God, she has drafted the following guidelines to keep Federal employees from pleasuring themselves at work, and, hopefully, at home as well.

(It was unclear whether Sharron Angle was present at the meeting between Christine O'Donnell and God or not.)

Christine O'Donnell"s Guidelines for Federal Employees
1.  Federal employees must realize that their time belongs to the taxpayers of America.  Because Americans expect an honest day's work for an honest dollar, any acts by federal employees whose primary purpose is personal stimulation or self-gratification is henceforth expressly forbidden while employees are on the government's clock.
2.  Self-gratification practices outside of the workplace are also highly discouraged.   Not only does unbridled lust dull the intellect and cause skin conditions that run up the cost  of government health insurance, it also spreads depravity like any other sexual disease.  If federal employees feel they must release sexual energy, they should do it at home, in bed, with their opposite-sex legal spouse, under the covers, in the missionary position, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. - a maximum of two times per week, and never on Sunday!
3.  Photographs of Senator O'Donnell and Senator Angle will be placed in all federal offices to discourage any sexual daydreaming.  In offices known to be especially lust-prone, a photograph of Arizona Jan Brewer will also be added.
4.  The use of "hands-free" telephones by federal employees is henceforth forbidden. 
5.  Federal employees must wear work gloves any time that they are not at their desk or within the clear view of at least three co-workers.
6.  Federal restrooms are to be used only for relieving bladders (Number 1) and bowels (Number 2) - and Christian prayer.
7.  Timers and alarms are to be placed on all federal restroom stalls.  Staff may use a restroom stall for it's intended use (see #6) one time before lunch and one time after lunch.  Time in the stalls must not exceed five minutes without the express written consent of the employee's next two levels of supervision.   Staff using the restroom stalls must keep their hands within clear view of the camera.
8.  Restroom videos will be reviewed on a random basis by committees composed of local true Christian ministers.  Any tapes that feature minors will be reviewed by committees of Catholic clergy.
9.  Male federal employees are expected to dress for work as they would for church.  Remember, you can never go wrong with a suit and tie.
10.  Female federal employees are expected to be conservatively attired in feminine garb:  long dresses with long sleeves and sensible shoes will always be appropriate.  Christian females, especially those who are single, are encouraged to wear veils so as to not entice their male counterparts into acts of self-gratification.  In an effort to combat terrorism, Muslim women are forbidden to wear veils.  Also, all female employees are encouraged to let their hair grow long out of respect for the teachings of St. Paul.
11.  Remember, working for the federal government is a privilege - don't abuse it!  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Last Big Primary Day of 2010

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

This is Tuesday evening on Okinawa, but back in the United States it is still dark and most people haven't awakened to their Tuesday yet, the last big primary election day of 2010.  Five states are holding their primaries today:  Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York. All of those states are located in the eastern United States, and, with the exception of Maryland, all could be regarded as northeastern states.

There is only one big upset on the horizon for today.  A teabagger who has run for statewide office in Delaware but never won, is trying to snag the Republican Party's nomination for U.S. Senator.  The bagger, Christine O'Donnell, is trying to defeat Mike Castle, a former governor of Delaware and the state's lone congressman for the past couple of decades.  Castle is well-respected, and, if nominated, could possibly defeat the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, in November.  Ms. O'Donnell is not well respected, still owes bills from her last two campaigns, and has apparently been living off of campaign donations.  But old Christine has sttirred the fervor of the Republican Party's lunatic fringe.  She has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, Senator Jim DeMint, and Rush Limbaugh, an irksome threesome whose combined IQ is probably in the lower double digits.

Latest polls have Ms. O'Donnell with a slight lead over Congressman Castle.

God speed, Ms. O'Donnell.  Your win would certainly ensure that Democrats keep the seat that once belonged to Vice-President Joe Biden.  I know it's late, but is there anything I can do to help?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday's Poetry: "Manufactured Gods" and "Book Burning"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Last week there was a lot of focus in the press on religion and the anger that it can inspire.  Today's first poem, Manufactured Gods by Carl Sandburg, examines religious icons and their ability to gather powers that never were. The second, Book Burning by Jay Rogoff, is self-explanatory and disturbing.  Both are hereby dedicated to a pair of religious bigots, Terry Jones and Shirley Phelps Roper.  There is much to fear when religion has an evil heart.

Manufactured Gods
by Carl Sandburg

THEY put up big wooden gods.
Then they burned the big wooden gods
And put up brass gods and
Changing their minds suddenly
Knocked down the brass gods and put up
A doughface god with gold earrings.
The poor mutts, the pathetic slant heads,
They didn’t know a little tin god
Is as good as anything in the line of gods
Nor how a little tin god answers prayer
And makes rain and brings luck
The same as a big wooden god or a brass
God or a doughface god with golden

Book Burning
by Jay Rogoff

Fire loves paper

but adores people.
Fire eats our words,
hurling them off
like flaming birds
on bright black wings.
Smoke must cough
but fire sings,
breathing deeper,
sucking down
our oxygen.
Fire is not
our brother's keeper.
It isn't a question
of good and evil;
it guzzles the broth,
consumes the table.
Heine guessed
a modern truth:
they burn books first.

The night of the fire
on Unter den Linden
what rang up the curtain
next door at the Staatsoper?
Die Zauberflote,
its gorgeous noise
lit with love,
a book of seduction,
light, and learning.
We walk through flame,
daring hell and high water,
dancing and burning,
our fancy fired up
till real tears drop;
or Tristan and Isolde,
romantic hell
on a Celtic ship,
love mating death
till both look the same.
Fire crests the wave
of the blood-dark ocean,
extinguished breath
blood-wet with kisses:
lovers, poison,
and none left to blame.

On the Opernplatz
the students wave
a sea of dark arms
engaged by armbands
and oozing the spume
of cream-pale hands
awash in the air.
Goebbels commends
their courage to break
the intellectual
reich of the Jew
and homosexual;
and face the blaze,
courage to erect
in this vast empty platz,
banal and funereal,
a tower of books
and feed them to fire
like so many faggots.
The boys pledge death
divinest respect
with courage to burn,
courage to burn
Freud and all joy,
such men as Mann,
heretic Einstein,
and Heine the Jew.

The opera disgorges
its lovers, their eyes
still moist, songs still
in their teeth. They view
the night turned day,
the spring turned hell
this early May night.
The spines crack.
The burning covers
issue a smell
like living leather,
rank with authors.
Kerchiefs mask noses
and hands shield eyes
raised to the skies.

Another decade
and they'll take burning
to the very Beginning,
the primal Word,
spinning the world
back down the commode,
back into its Chaos
of mud and scheiss.
For now, bringing brightness,
words of all people
soar in a tower,
the babble of languages
melting together,
the fire-breathing steeple
drunk on air
and publishing ash,
singing like mad
a single song
in a single tongue.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Deja Vu and Inception: Just Beyond the Possible

by Pa Rock
Film Critic

I thought that the movie, Inception, which came out earlier this year, really pushed the envelope as far weaving the real world together with the unimagined powers of the mind.  It was edgy and deep, and the brilliant writing took movie goers to places they had never been before.  I felt that Inception was a truly original concept - a tour de force of dreams impacting reality and visa versa.

Last night I came across 2006's Deja Vu staring Denzel Washington, and now realize that this earlier effort took a very similar idea and managed to turn it into a gripping tale, one that in many ways overshadowed Leonardo DiCaprio's later film.  Instead of manipulating dreams (or being manipulated by them), Deja Vu looked at impacting recent history through brief, and surprisingly believable, forays into the past.

Both movies were mindbenders in the best sense of the word.  They took ideas that were "out there" and worked them into believable stories.  The acting in both was superb - Leonardo DiCaprio and Denzel Washington are both at the top of their craft.  But it was the original story ideas and subsequent writing that made this pair of films so outstanding.

Anyone who doubts the power of the pen, or in modern terms the word processor, has to look no further than Deja Vu and Inception.  They are deep and thought-provoking movies that challenge viewers to become involved in the stories and to think.  They are not for the lame and lazy who want nothing more than to be entertained.

Deja Vu and Inception are highly recommended for a Friday night double-feature!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Burger Report Addendum

by Pa Rock
Road Gourmet

My son Tim reports that I have indeed experienced the culinary delights of Five Guys Burgers.  He reminded me that he and I ate at one in the wilds of Kansas City, Kansas, one day last spring while waiting on repairs to be made to the truck that I was driving.  It's all coming back to me now - and the burger was quite delicious!  As Tim noted, I can now scratch that one off of the old bucket list!

The Burger Report

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Consumer Reports is out with its much anticipated hamburger rankings.  The magazine asked nearly thirty thousand people nationwide to rate the burgers of eighteen fast food joints.  In-N-Out Burgers and Five Guys Burgers tied for first place in the burger wars, and America's favorite (at least we thought it was), McDonald's, came in dead last!

I've written about burgers in this space before.  They have long been a favorite food of mine, and now, being on Okinawa where the locals make horrible burgers, I get these monumental cravings for a taste of home.  Burgers fit the American psyche because they are easy to hold onto and can be eaten on the fly.   They can also be personalized with condiments and veggies to the point that they could pass for high art.  Give me mine with mustard, pickle, and tomato, please - and perhaps a touch of onion if I am having one of those days.  (Jimmy Buffett likes his Cheeseburger in Paradise with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes!)

No, Margaritaville did not make the list, but they sell a great burger!

In-N-Out burgers are delicious, but they are available only in a few states in the American West.  I have never even heard of Five Guys before, but now have them on my bucket list.  However, of the others ranked by the readers of Consumer Reports,  I am too familiar with several.  Whataburger, my personal favorite, came in at a respectable number seven, well ahead of Harold and Kumar's late night munchable treat, White Castle, which placed at eleven.  Wendy's and Sonic, also two of my favorites, held down spots twelve and thirteen.  The two that just barely beat out McDonald's  at the bottom of the list were Burger King and Jack in the Box.

America has spoken, and Ronald McDonald could not have liked what he has heard!

(Complete list in order:  In-N-Out, Five Guys, Fuddruckers, Burgerville, Back Yard Burgers, Culver's Frozen Yogurt, Whataburger, Hardees, Carl's Jr, Checkers Drive-In, White Castle, Wendy's, Sonic, A&W, Krystal, Burger King, Jack in the Box, and McDonald's.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Joe Arpaio: America's Toughest Gas Bag!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

America's looniest lawman is at it again.  At the height of the political season just when you are beginning to think that the bullshit couldn't get any deeper or more fragrant, along comes Joe Arpaio to prove just how wrong that notion is.  Old Joe (really old Joe), the Shurf of Maricopa County, Arizona, just can't get enough of himself, and when the cameras start looking elsewhere for news, Joe can usually come up with something that will get him back in the spotlight.  In fact, the crap that Joe generates is often so egregious that it propels him to the national and international news markets - or at least gets him on Fox.  And, boy howdy, does he ever love that!

Old Joe's main notoriety as of the last year or two has been his relentless pursuit of undocumented gardeners and maids across the burning sands of Maricopa County - usually from the comfort of his chauffeured limousine.  (He can also peer for off into the desert in search of human smugglers and headless bodies from his suite of offices atop the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix.)   Joe's crime fighting abilities are the stuff of legend, at least in his foggy old mind.

Last year, during a slow news cycle, Joe ran the notion up the flagpole that he might just run for Governor of Arizona.  He backed down on that threat, of course, when it came time to declare his candidacy or shut up.  He realized that swapping down to governor made no sense - he has the better budget and staff as sheriff, and hell, he even has his own posse.  And his offices high above Phoenix are much nicer than anything that Jan Brewer has.

But recently attention has begun shifting to political races around the country, and to that whacky preacher (of sorts) down in Florida who was  going to burn all of those Qu'rans.   (That Qu'ran stunt was Joe-caliber, and he was undoubtedly sick that Terry Jones thought of it first!)  So, it was almost impossible that the geriatric Shurf of Maricopa County would sit idly by and let and let others hog the news cameras for long.

Old Joe, who is nearing eighty, has set the press a'buzzing this week with this tidbit:  he is now considering running for President in 2012.  Apparently people are asking him to consider entering the race to be our nation's leader - probably more than a few of whom live in Maricopa County and long for him to pursue some other line of work in some other location.  (Let him tie up traffic in Washington, DC, with his silly and useless immigrant sweeps!)

Joe won't run for President, of course.  It would be too much work and would expose him nationally for the clown that he truly is, but he will have a great time hinting and speculating about it for a few months - until it comes time to put up or shut up.

And who's to say that Joe Arpaio couldn't function as President.  Ronald Reagan ran the country while in the throes of dementia, so maybe Joe could too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Terrorists

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

On Saturday, September 11, 2010, Florida con-artist and cult leader Terry Jones will lead the congregants of his Dove World Outreach Center, in a ritualistic bonfire fueled with copies of the Qu'ran (Koran), the Muslim Holy Scripture.  Jones, who admits to having never read the Qu'ran, has nonetheless labeled it as a body of lies. He also professes that the Muslim religion, Islam, is "of the devil."

The Jones stunt in Gainesville, Florida, will serve two purposes:  the feeding of his ego, and the fattening of his wallet.

Unfortunately, it will also mar the image of the United States of America as a land of religious toleration, and, as General David Petraeus pointed out earlier this week, it will serve to put thousands of deployed American troops in even greater danger than they were already facing.

America wasn't attacked by Islam on September 11, 2001.  Our country was the victim of a couple of dozen fanatical young men, almost all from Saudi Arabia - a long-term American ally.  Those young men were themselves under the influence of another cult leader - a man with hate in his heart - a man much like Terry Jones.   Osama bin Laden harangued his young followers, basically telling them that the United States was "of the devil."

Terry Jones runs a business in Florida that is staffed through free labor from members of his "church."  He formerly had a church near Cologne, Germany, until his congregation there wised up and ran him off.  Some of his former German church members describe him as "violent and fanatical," words that could also easily be used to describe Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was hell-bent on attacking the United States, just as Terry Jones is hell-bent on attacking, or inflaming, the Islamic world.   Both sides want an all-out holy war.

But is a holy war in anyone's best interest, besides, of course, arms merchants and the usual gang of war profiteers?  Do we really want to re-live the Middle Ages?  Isn't it time we put all of the religious stupidity and hatred behind us and tried to live as a global family, a family based on love, peace, and ideals that Jesus and Mohammed could both embrace?

Maybe this Saturday would be a good day to open a copy of the Qu'ran and begin reading in an effort to find the common bonds of humanity that reach across borders and political ideologies.

I have a copy of the Qu'ran.  This Saturday while the terrorist, Terry Jones, is burning his, I will be reading mine.  That will be my bit for world peace and maintaining the American ideal of religious tolerance.  I wish I could do more.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Joe Wilson, Living Large on the Taxpayers' Dime!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Joe Wilson, Republican Representative to Congress from South Carolina, is best known for his bad manners.  He is the cracker who yelled "You lie!" at President Obama as he was addressing a joint session of Congress.   (Wilson, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, apparently just felt the need to try to embarrass his commander-in-chief.  Woe be unto the subordinate who ever tried to pull a cheap stunt like that on Joe!)

But now it is starting to look like Pious Joe may have more going for him than just a big mouth and a propensity toward impoliteness.  It seems he is the subject of an ethics investigation in Congress regarding how he has been fleecing taxpayers during his numerous trips abroad on the public dime.

Joe likes to travel, and he likes to shop. It turns out that he has been buying souvenirs and paying for them out of his per diem - money allotted by Congress for meals - money that should have been returned to the treasury if Joe was unable to swallow and digest it.  Joe knew the  rules, and he was cheating the system.

Yeah, that's not crime-of-the-century stuff.  The real outrage is in the amount of traveling that he does at public expense.   Joe Wilson has spent over $100,000 in itemized deductions of his international jaunts, and that doesn't cover the cost of the transportation itself - transportation that is provided by the U.S. military on military aircraft - aircraft, and personnel to man the aircraft, that could probably be  used more productively elsewhere.

McClatchy reports that Joe Wilson is number 29 in the current House of Representatives out of 435 total when it comes to personal spending.  But it gets even worse:  when compared to all 730 members who have served in the House since 1994, the year Wilson went to Congress, High Dollar Joe comes in at an amazing #39!  He is the 39th biggest spender out of all 730 members who have served since 1994!

How's that for fiscal responsibility?

And on top of all that, there is his salary as a sitting Congressman and his military pay for being a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves!

Nice work if you can get it, eh Joe?

Joe Wilson may not be a liar, though I have no way of proving that he isn't - but Joe Wilson is a national embarrassment, and a damned expensive one at that!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Florida Fascists Burn Korans for Jesus!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

In some of the more Christian Fundamentalist corners of our country, the wars in the Middle East have one purpose, and one purpose only:  the defeat of Islam.  The religious fervor of these lunatics knows no bounds.   They see the American government and the American military as integral components in the army of God, the Christian God.  For them the concept of separation of Church and State was a misunderstanding of the intent of America's founding fathers, a misunderstanding that has been carried on and amplified by liberals and other opponents of Christian decency.

The God of these fundamentalist crazies is definitely old school and Old Testament.  None of that peace and love crap.  Their God rules with the sword and smites with a vengeance.   And their God is a cleanser, a God who is out to rid the world of people who don't believe in His Holy Whiteness.  The number one target on their God's hit list is the world's Muslims - followers of Muhammed - Islamists.  And any one with the middle name of Hussein, and who is black, has most certainly got to be a Muslim - and could not possibly have been born in America!

Hey, I said they were lunatics!

It used to be that the dove was the symbol of peace.  Of course, it also used to be that Christ was synonymous with peace.  But times change.

The Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, under the leadership of a holy warrior names Terry Jones, is anything but peaceful.  They are the group of whack jobs who are trying to gain some free publicity by burning Korans (the Muslim holy scripture) on September 11th.

Yup.  Book burning.  Religious book burning.  Can it get more American than that?

General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the Wall Street Journal that this Christian fundamentalist stunt in Florida could have deadly consequences for our troops on the ground in the Middle East.  America is not the only country with religious crazies - they exist in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.  Petraeus fears, with good reason, that this scary act of religious intolerance will stir rage in the Middle East, rage that could be unleashed on our troops.

Petraeus, of course, is right.  If some crazy Afghanis or Iraqis called in the press to watch them burn a pile of Bibles, there would be serious talk on the streets of America and in Congress about using the nuclear option.  Nobody messes with our God!   But if its their God...well, that's a different story!

Meanwhile, in New York City and other locations around the United States, people are having fits about the construction of religious houses of worship and religious community centers - places referred to, with much teeth-gnashing, as mosques.   Baptists can throw up a building anywhere they damned well please, for any reason, because they are supporting our God - the God of the Christian United States of America, but Muslims aren't worthy of that same right.  Is that what we want our kids to hear?  Is that the message that we want to give Muslim youth - that they are unworthy of the same religious freedom that America was supposedly founded upon?

This national paranoia regarding Muslims is certainly fed by the religious right in America.   Those good old white boys with the big brass collection plates make good money off of fear - always have and always will.   If they can whip up a bogeyman - communists, blacks, women, Muslims, gays, etc - they can drag in some serious coinage..

Burning a few Korans will undoubtedly be good for Dove Outreach's bank account - and if it brings about a true holy war in the process - well, that's just gravy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Teabaggers on the March: Christine O'Donnell

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

When teabagger extremist Joe Miller defeated sitting United States Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican senate primary, alarms began sounding in the polite Republican parlors of the lower forty-eight.  Many Republicans saw these teabaggers are fun to have around and an interesting diversion, but the fun came to a screeching halt when they actually displayed the ability (and the balls) to defeat a Republican senator in a primary.

One of the places where the Alaskan putsch was felt the strongest was in the tiny state of Delaware.  Delaware's only congressman, a Republican by the name of Mike Castle, had looked favored to put Joe Biden's old senate seat into the Republican camp.  But there was a problem.  A professional candidate and teabagger named Christine O'Donnell started attracting big bucks from national tea party groups.

 Local pols in Delaware decided to not risk a primary defeat like the one that befell Murkowski, and they went on the attack - and, consequently,  there has been lots of good stuff hitting the press regarding O'Donnell.  Suddenly there are stories floating around about how Ms. O'Donnell has no known means of support other than campaign donations - 95% of which are from outside Delaware.   She also appears to still owe vendors from previous campaigns.

And then there are her campaign issues:  the self-righteous Ms. O'Donnell is an opponent of gay rights, abortion (including those for the consequences of rape and incest), pornography, premarital sex and even masturbation.  (One could almost surmise that she has an unhealthy interest in sex!)

Mr. Castle, you are doing exactly the right thing by focusing your energies and your money on stopping Christine O'Donnell.  Say it all,  spend it all, fight, fight, fight!  Get down in the gutter and roll around with Ms. O'Donnell.  Show the good folks of Delaware just what it means to be a Republican!  Tack right, Mike, tack right!

Leave the statesmanship to your Democratic opponent, Chris Coons - the respectable choice for the U.S. Senate from Delaware!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Can the Crackers Save Jan Brewer from Herself?

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

I just went on the Internet and viewed some of Jan Brewer's god-awful debate performance.  Her campaign strategy, much like that of goofball Sharron Angle in the neighboring state of Nevada, has been to avoid real journalists and speak only in highly controlled situations.  Going into a free-wheeling debate was a risky venture for her, a venture that ultimately failed miserably.  Now, not surprisingly, the Sand Hag says that she is done with debating.

It wasn't just that she had trouble responding to Goddard or the journalists involved, she stumbled through her own introduction - stumbled badly.  Even debaters in junior high school understand the importance of preparation and a modicum of practice.

And then, of course, she was tripped up over the lies that she has been telling incessantly - things like tales of the mass beheadings that are occurring in the Sonora Desert, beheadings that only she seems to know about.

Jan Brewer became governor of Arizona when the elected governor, Janet Napolitano, resigned to take a position in the Obama administration.  She was thrust into the big leagues with little or no preparation, quickly made a political determination to cast her lot with Arizona's know-nothings and sand billies, and has bounced eratically  through her unearned governorship in such a way as to bring maximum embarrassment to her state and to herself.

Arizona has a big enough cross to bear with just Joe Arpaio.   Surely the state does not deserve another clown of this magnitude.

Here is the question that someone should have asked Jan Brewer after she butchered her own introduction:  "Hey Jan, just what the hell is in your medicine cabinet anyway?"

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Magic Jack Assistance Needed

by Pa Rock 
Hapless and Helpless

There are four basic ways to communicate with the outside world from Okinawa.  Email, of course, is the most common and least personal.   Skype offers free video calls, and regular telephone calls at a minimal cost, but a person has to be on the computer to take advantage of that.  The other two options are Internet phone services Vonage and Magic Jack.  Both require hooking something up to the computer.  Vonage won't ship their device overseas, so individuals using it have to order the plug-in contraption and have it sent to someone in the states who must then forward it here.  Vonage has a monthly fee for its service.   Magic Jack is $40 total for the device and the first year's service - and Magic Jack is sold here on the island.

Long story short, I bought the Magic Jack and a twelve dollar telephone.  I plugged it into my computer and got a dial tone.  I also got a message that my firewall was blocking it.  My firewall appeared to be turned off - so I turned it back on, but could not figure out how to allow Magic Jack through.  But, I still have the dial tone.

My understanding was that I would be able to get a US phone number from any area code I chose, but that option has never appeared.

If anyone out there has an intimate knowledge of Magic Jack, please contact me at   All help appreciated!

Update:  (one hour later)  By jove, I think I've got it!  At least I have a phone number - which I am emailing out to friends and relatives.  Give me a call and we'll see if it works!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Military Theaters Won't Show "The Tillman Story"

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has made a decision not to show "The Tillman Story" in its  worldwide Reel Time Theaters.  A spokesman for AAFES said that the decision has nothing to do with the controversial nature of the film which which paints the government and Defense Department in a bad light over the cover-up  of the circumstances of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death.  Their decision to not show the film, the spokesman argues, is question of numbers.  It hasn't been shown on many screens in the U.S., and AAFES therefore believes that it would not draw crowds into its theaters.

That, of course, is a bunch of high grade hogwash.

The AAFES spokesman kept referencing the new Sylvester Stallone film, "The Expendables," as an example of a film that would do well in military theaters because it is doing well in civilian theaters.  And yes, the Stallone film would sell more tickets than a documentary about a highly suspicious friendly-fire death of a very well known soldier.  But the military is a unique community, and there are many members of the service, as well as family members, who would have a strong interest in seeing the Tillman film.  Combat troops who fought in Afghanistan might appreciate getting a different perspective on the war.  Troops who knew Pat Tillman or his brother, Kevin, would certainly have an interest in seeing how their story is handled in the documentary.

The AAFES theaters also declined to run Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 451" which called into question George Bush's motives for taking the United States to war, and they chose not to run "Brokeback Mountain," a gay love story between two cowboys.   This censorship and paternalism results in troops who are stationed overseas often not having any options to see controversial films while they are in current release.

The Stars and Stripes has put up a site where those interested may cast a vote on whether AAFES should show "The Tillman Story."  If you have an opinion on this matter, that would be a good place to share it.  The site is:

I voted.

One commentator on the Stars and Stripes site had this to say, rather tongue-in-cheek:

I completely understand AAFES decision not to carry the movie. I just checked the Ramstein (Germany) movie schedule for the next month and it seems they are showing "Knight and Day" 27 times. In addition, they are showing some movie called "Machete" 23 times. With great selections like this, I don't see how they would be able to fit in a good, necessary movie like "The Tillman Story." 
'Nuff said.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fast Times at Riverdale High

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Riverdale High School has been home to Archie Andrews and his pals Jughead, Veronica, Betty, and Reggie, since December of 1941, the same month that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  In the nearly seventy years that those kids have been in high school, modest changes have occurred in an effort to keep the characters and story lines relevant to the real world.  This year, this month in fact, another change is coming to Riverdale, but this one isn't so subtle.

Riverdale's newest student is a young man named Kevin Keller who is apparently so good looking that Veronica Lodge just has to have him.  Unfortunately for her, Kevin does not fall for her many charms - which only makes Veronica redouble her efforts.   Finally Kevin lets Jughead Jones in on his secret:  he has no interest in Veronica because he is gay.  Instead of being shocked, Jughead decides to sit back and enjoy watching Veronica chase Kevin in vain.

So it's come to this.   One of America's most staid and predictable comic strips has arrived in the twenty-first century, and as Archie grows, so grows our nation.  I would predict that before long a boyfriend character for Kevin will be introduced, because this comic strip has always focused on kids dating and having fun.  And if the writers have trouble coming up with a name for Kevin's boyfriend, I have a classy one in mind:  Phelps Westboro!  (I envision Phelps as being somewhat flamboyant.)

Meanwhile, I think we can expect to see the trend toward modern day relevance in comic strips continue.  Look for a major announcement from Beetle Bailey and Sarge as soon as the military gets rid of "don't ask - don't tell!"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ding, Dong, Murkowski's Gone!

by Pa Rock
Political Junkie

Another Senate redwood has fallen - well, in this case it was more like a scrub pine.  Alaska's senior senator, Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed to the post by her father (who was then governor of the state), has conceded defeat in last Tuesday's Republican senate primary.  She was beaten like a cheap drum by Joe Miller, a teabagger extremist who had the support of the Wasilla hillbillies, Todd and Sarah Palin.   Joe Miller, who was born and raised in Kansas, came in with the "right" stuff to keep the Republican party pure.  He is a good Christian who hates all of the right (or in this case, "left") things.

Murkowski had been considering running as a Libertarian if she lost the primary, but she learned this week that the Libertarians didn't want her either.

Her loss, of course, leaves the oil and gas lobby in a quandary.  Should they rush to Joe Miller's aid with suitcases of their ill-gotten cash, or be more realistic and support the candidate who has the best chance of winning in November - Scott McAdams, the current mayor of Sitka.   McAdams, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator,  is a genuine Alaskan who has worked in the state's fishing industry.  He knows Alaska, her people, and what their lives are really like.

America owes a big "thank you" to the tea party for their tireless efforts in purifying the Republican Party.   The teabaggers are becoming the Democratic Party's most effective weapon in the fight to control Congress! You morons and boneheads are doing great work!  Keep it up!